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


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Daily Drift

Oh, the repugicans don't like it when an actual criminal is caught 
(because 99 out of 100 times it's a repugican) ..!
 
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Today is  - National Dog Day
 
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Some of our readers today have been in:
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Today in History

1017 Turks defeat the Byzantine army under Emperor Romanus IV at Manikert, Eastern Turkey.
1429 Joan of Arc makes a triumphant entry into Paris.
1789 The Constituent Assembly in Versailles, France, approves the final version of the Declaration of Human Rights.
1862 Confederate General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson encircles the Union Army under General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run.
1883 The Indonesian island of Krakatoa erupts in the largest explosion recorded in history, heard 2,200 miles away in Madagascar. The resulting destruction sends volcanic ash up 50 miles into the atmosphere and kills almost 36,000 people–both on the island itself and from the resulting 131-foot tidal waves that obliterate 163 villages on the shores of nearby Java and Sumatra.
1920 The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is officially ratified, giving women the right to vote.
1943 The United States recognizes the French Committee of National Liberation.
1957 Ford Motor Company reveals the Edsel, its latest luxury car.
1966 South African Defense Force troops attack a People's Liberation Army of Nambia at Omugulugwombashe, the first battle of the 22-year Namibian War of Independence.
1970 A nationwide Women's Strike for Equality, led by Betty Friedan on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment calls attention to unequal pay and other gender inequalities in America.
1977 The National Assembly of Quebec adopts Bill 101, Charter of the French Language, making French the official language of the Canadian province.
1978 Albino Luciani elected to the Papacy and chooses the name Pope John Paul I ; his 33-day reign is among the shortest in Papal history.
1978 Sigmund Jähn becomes first German to fly in space, on board Soviet Soyuz 31.
1999 Russia begins the Second Chechen War in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade.

Non Sequitur

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No, You Cannot Leave Great Salt Lake

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and the area’s tourism board showed their sense of humor by responding to an article in the Onion that claimed the city was changing their tourism tactics. The original article stated (with auto play video):
In a move designed to help the metropolitan area attract more tourists, Salt Lake City officials unveiled a new advertising campaign Thursday reminding potential visitors that they can leave at any time.
The response, according to the tourism site, was to pass an emergency bill to close all exits from the city.
"How are we expecting to increase revenue that way?" an incredulous Mayor McAdams asked tourism board members in an emergency meeting late Thursday night. "The amount of revenue this new bill will generate in hotel and restaurant taxes will pay for the closing of all Salt Lake's exit routes almost immediately. Keeping visitors here indefinitely will help secure our already thriving economy."
The measures taken are then outlined, which includes both freeway off-ramps and airlines tickets, which will now be one-way. The bottom of the article carries the tagline “Welcome to Salt Lake. You Can Check In Any Time You Like…”

Did you know ...

That Ferguson shows that white America is living in a parallel universe
About the reason health care is so expensive:  insurance companies
Here's more racist, anti-semitic emails are found in the gov. walker case
That some police departments classify assaults as 'minor offenses'
The Washington Post will no longer use the word 'redskins'
That fracking gets closer to water sources than we previously thought
About this study: white people support harsher prison terms if they think black people have been arrested
That Germany's green grid is one of the most reliable in the world
Here's inside the wingnut plot to derail medical marijuana in Florida
That the wife of a Texas anti-gay activist leaves him for another woman
That dinosaurs had the worst luck
Here's from the ACLU:  the first amendment is suspended in Ferguson
That children deported from our border wars are killed in their own countries
About going from from public service to lobbyist: the revolving door is on auto-pilot
That Exxon is building the most controversial oil rig ever
That lazy corporate monopolies are why we can't have nice things
Is your website being blocked in the UK?
What combat veterans see in Ferguson
About the entitlement of the very rich
Are we sure Ebola isn't airborne?
Tesla wants $500 million for its gigafactory
That 1 black man is killed every 28 hours by police or vigilantes
About the science of waiting in line
That the greens and civil rights activists bring coal to its knees in Mississippi

Justice Ginsburg: America Has A 'Real Racial Problem'

by Ian Millhiser

The Supreme Court was "once a leader in the world" in combating racial discrimination, according to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "What's amazing," she added, "is how things have changed."
Ginsburg, who was one of America's top civil rights attorneys before President Carter appointed her to the federal bench in 1980, spoke at length with the National Law Journal's Marcia Coyle in an interview that was published Friday. In that interview, she lays out just how much the Court's outlook on race has changed since she was arguing women's equality cases before it in the 1970s.
In 1971, for example, President Nixon had begun to reshape the Supreme Court. As a presidential candidate and, later, as president, Nixon complained that the Supreme Court's school desegregation decisions had intruded too far on local control of public schools. Yet, as Justice Ginsburg points out, Nixon's hand-picked Chief Justice, Warren Burger, authored a unanimous Supreme Court decision recognizing what are known as "disparate impact" suits, which root out discrimination in employers with policies that disproportionately impact minorities.
Burger's resolution of this case "was a very influential decision and it was picked up in England," according to Ginsburg.
The Court's present majority, by contrast, seems much more interested in using its power to thwart racial justice. In 2013, for example, the Supreme Court struck down a key prong of the Voting Rights Act, effectively ending a regime that required states with a history of racial voter discrimination to "preclear" new voting laws with officials in Washington before those laws went into effect. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts justified this decision because he claimed that racism is no longer a big enough problem in the states covered by the Act, and thus the Voting Rights Act's longstanding framework was outdated. Permitting the federal government to apply such a check against racially discriminatory voting laws was an "extraordinary departure from the traditional course of relations between the States and the Federal Government," and it could no longer be allowed, according to Roberts, because "things have changed dramatically" in states with a long history of racism.
Two hours after Roberts claimed that racism was too minor a problem to justify leaving America's most important voting rights law intact, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that Roberts' decision would allow a gerrymandered map and a recently enacted voter ID to go into effect. Federal courts had previously blocked both the map and the voting restriction because of their negative impact on minority voters. Alabama made a similar announcement about its voter ID law the same day Roberts handed down his decision. Less than two months later, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrony (r) signed a comprehensive voter suppression law adopting many provisions that reduced minority turnout in other states.
Justice Ginsburg, for her part, warned that tossing out a key prong of the Voting Rights Act "when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

Obama Has Had Fewer Vacation Days In His Entire Presidency Than Congress Has This Year

Barack Obama on vacation less than Congress
Here is a reality check for repugicans who keep complaining over President Obama’s vacations. President Obama has had fewer vacation days in the last six years than Congress will have in 2014.
According to CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller, President Obama has spent 129 days of presidency on vacation. The repugican misled House of Representatives was scheduled to be in session for only 124 days in all of 2014. This means that John Boehner and company will spend fewer days at work this year than President Obama has spent on vacation in his entire presidency. The numbers are actually worse when one considers that the House is only scheduled to work for 97 days between January and Election day in November. Members of the Senate, like Ted Cruz, have had nearly as many days off this year as the president has had since taking office.
This is the point in any story about repugican hysterics about Obama’s vacations that the shrub needs to be used as a point of reference. During the shrub's junta, he took four vacations that were longer than Obama’s longest vacation. The shrub took virtually the entire month of August 2001 off. The shrub’s vacation was almost twice as long (27 days) as Obama’s current break (15 days). Ronald Reagan took a 25 day vacation in August 1983. The repugicans never demanded that the shrub and Reagan return to work, so why is it different for President Obama?
The shrub spent the month before the 9/11 terror attacks away from the White House. President Obama came back to the White House in the middle of his current vacation for meetings. Congressional repugicans don’t have a leg to stand on when they criticize the vacations of President Obama. Pretenders from their own cabal took longer and more numerous vacations, while their own work schedule has become noticeably lighter in the last few years.
The reason why the repugican criticism of Obama’s vacations rings hollow is because they deliver their remarks, not on the House or Senate floor, but while they themselves are on vacation. When these repugicans throw vacation stones, they are shattering their own glass houses.

Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court's Bluff In Hobby Lobby

For most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration's efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control - while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees' access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.
Up until now, the administration's rules treated non-profit and for-profit employers as separate entities. Religious non-profits who object to birth control could exempt themselves from the requirement to offer contraceptive care to their employees by filling out a specific form that informs the government of their objection, and sending a copy of the form to their insurance provider or administrator. In most cases, once the non-profit employer submitted this form, their insurer would then contract separately with their workers to ensure that those workers had contraceptive coverage. These non-profit rules spawned one round of litigation brought by religious non-profit organizations which claim that even being required to fill out a short form violates their religious liberty.
Meanwhile, for-profit employees were required to comply with their legal obligations to their employees. Prior to the Supreme Court's June decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which significantly reworked the balance of power between employers and employees, the law was clear that for-profit businesses could not invoke their owners' religious beliefs to exempt themselves from their legal obligations to their workers. "When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice," the Court held in its 1982 decision in United States v. Lee, "the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity." Hobby Lobby, of course, was the culmination of a second round of litigation brought by for-profit employers whose owners have religious objections to birth control. And it effectively eliminated the protections Lee extended to workers, at least with respect to federal law.
In both the non-profit cases and the for-profit cases, the Supreme Court has issued decisions suggesting that it would totally be fine for the Obama Administration to guarantee that most women in the workplace have contraceptive health coverage, if only they would do a better job of designing their regulations. Last January, for example, the Court temporarily exempted an order of nuns from the requirement that they fill out the form they are required to fill out in order to obtain an exemption from the birth control rules. Yet the Court's order in that case also required the nuns to "inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing" of their intention to seek the exemption if they wanted to invoke it. The implication was the the form itself was somehow problematic, and everything would be fine if the Obama Administration had just required non-profit employers to use a different method to inform the government that they are invoking the exemption.
Meanwhile, the Hobby Lobby opinion granted many for-profit employers a religious exemption from the birth control rules, but it also strongly implied that everything would be fine if the Obama Administration had only applied the same regime it applies to non-profit employers to for-profit employers as well. That is, all would be good if, instead of requiring Hobby Lobby to offer birth control coverage directly, Hobby Lobby should instead fill out a form and send a copy of it to their insurer, and then that insurer would provide coverage to Hobby Lobby's workers. The implication this time around was that the administration's fill-out-the-form solution struck an appropriate balance between protecting women in the workplace and also shielding religious liberty, and that it would be upheld by the Court.
Only a few days later, however, the Court handed down another order suggesting that the fill-out-a-form solution wasn't actually a solution at all. In Wheaton College v. Burwell, the justices granted a Christian college a temporary exemption from the requirement than they fill out the form - once again holding that the college could simply "inform[] the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing" that they wish to invoke the exemption. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor accused the Court of shifting the goal posts just days after Hobby Lobby. "Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word," Sotomayor wrote. "Not so today."
So the Obama Administration could be forgiven if it believes that it has been cast in the role of Charlie Brown, and that the Supreme Court has assigned itself the role of Lucy while she is holding a football. Nevertheless, the new regulations the administration is expected to announce Friday appear to rest on the assumption that the Court can be taken at its word, and that if the administration provides virtually every accommodation to religious objectors that the justices have thus-far demanded, then its newest round of regulations will be upheld.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new regulations provide that "institutions would have to tell the federal government which company administers their health-insurance plan, and the government would then contact that administrator to ask it to arrange contraception coverage for the institution's employees. The administrator would likely turn to a traditional insurance company to fund the benefits, and the insurance company would later be reimbursed by the federal government."
In other words, the new regulations honor Hobby Lobby's suggestion that the justices will tolerate a program that places the obligation to cover contraception in the hands of the insurer, not the employer. And they honor Wheaton College's suggestion that, even if a particular form is objectionable, employers can still be required to inform the government that they are seeking an exemption from the law using some other method.
The one remaining question is whether the Court will tolerate the new rules' requirement that religious employers "tell the federal government which company administers their health-insurance plan," a requirement that goes beyond the obligations the Court imposed in its Wheaton College order. The employers who have raised the staunchest objections to birth control have often claimed that they cannot take any action that will set in motion a chain of events that leads to someone receiving contraception, as doing so would make them "complicit" in the act of providing birth control. If the justices are determined honor even this idiosyncratic objection, then it is unclear that the administration could provide any accommodation that would survive Supreme Court review.
Such a holding, it should be noted, would gut a key limit on federal religious liberty law. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was the statute the Court relied upon in Hobby Lobby, the federal government may not "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" except in certain circumstances. But if requiring someone to write a two sentence letter naming an insurance company can be a "substantial burden," then anything can be a substantial burden. It's difficult to imagine a less burdensome act that could be imposed upon someone then requiring them to toss off a letter they could probably draft in 30 seconds.
In any event, however, the Obama Administration's new rules will likely put an end to the Supreme Court's ability to move the goalposts every time someone raises a new objection to the administration's policy. The administration has now crafted its rules to comply almost to the letter with the requirements suggested by previous Supreme Court opinions. Now, the rest of the country will have to wait to find out whether Hobby Lobby actually permits this latest set of rules - or whether the language in that decision leading the Obama Administration in this direction will simply end with Lucy pulling away the football one more time.

In A Victory for Public Education Judge Says NC School Vouchers Are Unconstitutional

The judge, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, identified the repugican legislation, "Opportunity Scholarship Program," as a scam to "siphon money from the public schools in favor of private religious schools …
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For the past decade, repugicans have been on a tear to blatantly transfer taxpayer money directly to private enterprises without regard for the needs of the people. Whether it is privatizing Medicare, Social Security, social services, or education, repugicans have devised various schemes to appropriate taxpayer money to profit their donors; including cults Hell-bent on inculcating christianity in private religious schools at the expense of public education.
One of the most important clauses in the U.S. Constitution is the General Welfare clause in Article I – section 8 that reads, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” According to the Founding Fathers and first four Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, taxes providing for the ‘general welfare’ were to provide housing, food, medical care, and education for the poor among other domestic programs. In fact, one of the authors of the Constitution, James Madison killed legislation giving taxpayer money to cults anxious to profit from pretending to provide for the people because the Founders believed the government should never, never ever, give money to cults for anything; including education.
The repugicans believe America’s first four Presidents were completely wrong and in several states are regularly taking government money intended for public education and handing it directly to private christian schools under the guise of vouchers for “charter schools,” a clear violation of the Constitution. In North Carolina last week, a judge finally struck down a repugican school voucher scam to transfer public school funding directly to private religious schools as patently unconstitutional, and elucidated why vouchers, charter schools, and private religious schools fail constitutional muster.
The judge, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, identified the repugican legislation, “Opportunity Scholarship Program,” as a scam to “siphon money from the public schools in favor of private schools and allows funding of non-public schools that discriminate on account of religion.” The judge was not finished, and besides decrying the obscenity of school vouchers, he correctly identified the major flaw in charter schools; they have no obligation to teach anything. Hopefully, President Obama will pay attention and stop listening to charter advocates like education secretary Arne Duncan and an ever-growing cabal of school privatization advisers within his Administration.
Just a few of the reasons the judge gave for ruling school vouchers unconstitutional are: appropriates to private schools grades K-12, by use of funds which apparently have gone to the university system budget but which should be used exclusively for establishing and maintaining the uniform system of free public schools, appropriates education funds in a manner that does not accomplish a public purpose, appropriates educational funds outside the supervision and administration of the state board of education, and appropriates taxpayer funds to educational institutions that have no standards, curriculum and requirements for teachers and principals to be certified.” In essence, the judge concluded that the North Carolina legislation “fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything.”
The repugicans had included a statement in their voucher legislation they assumed would protect their religious privatization scam by stipulating that “scholarship grant funds awarded to eligible students attending a non-public school shall not be considered funding from the state of North Carolina.” The Judge was not fooled and noted in his ruling that nowhere in the state’s General Statutes is there any provision for scholarship grants to come from any source other than taxpayer funds. He said, “If scholarship grants shall not be considered funding from the state of North Carolina, this court is at a complete loss to understand the source of those funds. Follow the money. The clear legislative intent is to utilize taxpayer money to fund private schools.”
Judge Hobgood recognized, and reminded repugicans, that the state had an obligation to provide a “sound basic education” to the children attending public schools in North Carolina as mandated by the Supreme Court in its Leandro decision . He said, “The General Assembly cannot constitutionally delegate this responsibility to unregulated private schools by use of taxpayer opportunity scholarships to parents who have self-assessed their children to be at risk.” The parents who demanded that taxpayers pay for their children’s private religious education were represented by a Koch brother-backed law firm, Institute for (in)Justice, and contended they would be harmed if the court did not help implement the theft of public school money to profit private religious schools. Private schools that Judge Hobgood accurately noted received taxpayer dollars yet were “not subject to any requirements or standards regarding the curriculum that they teach, have no requirements for student achievement, are not obligated to demonstrate any growth in student performance, and are not even obligated to provide a minimum amount of instructional time.” Whether the Judge realized it or not, he defined, quite accurately, what charter schools entail and why school vouchers are a scam and outright theft of taxpayer money meant for public education.
There has been an ongoing Justice Department, and other plaintiffs’, lawsuit targeting Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s voucher privatization scam that records revealed multiple schools accepting school vouchers actually disclosed “discriminatory policies such as the legal right to expel gay and lesbian students as well as admitted to charging the state more in tuition for students who are not members of the private school’s sponsoring cults.” In fact, Jindal has thumbed his nose at the Constitution for years by continuing to steal taxpayer money intended for public schools to provide funding for private and charter religious schools. Of course, Jindal blames President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for the Department of Justice portion of the lawsuits by claiming “This is shameful. President Obama and Attorney General Holder are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools against the wishes of their parents.” These are parents that insist on taxpayers funding their children’s religious instruction, and if Jindal and the repugican legislature were not robbing public education funds, public schools would not be failing.
The repugicans claim, ad nauseum, that they are the champions of the original intent of the Founding Fathers, and yet they have consistently opposed the concept that taxpayer dollars are meant to “provide for the general welfare of the people;” not churches, not private religious schools, and definitely not at the expense of public education. Although the Judge’s ruling was a defeat for school vouchers and Koch and Art Pope-backed privatization efforts, his portrayal of charter schools as “not subject to any requirements or standards regarding the curriculum that they teach, have no requirements for student achievement, are not obligated to demonstrate any growth in student performance, and are not even obligated to provide a minimum amount of instructional time” was priceless, and accurate.
This is not to say that there are no private religious, or charter schools, providing a decent education to their “customers,” there are. However, they are under no obligation to provide an education to prepare students to compete with public school students who are not indoctrinated with anti-science, bastardized history, and religious mythos. The Founding Fathers were specific that taxpayer money was to provide for, among other things, the general welfare of the people that included a sound public education; something repugicans have decided is the purview of private, for profit, enterprises that are more often than not religious schools stealing from taxpayers to inculcate students into the christian delusion.

‘Public’ Charter Schools. Do They Really Think We’re That Dumb?

You’ve heard the term “Public Charter School.” The whole thing is based on the “Charter School Growth with Quality Act.” And, wouldn’t you know it, it’s a piece of model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), serving its special interest corporate member donors bent on making public education private, no matter that “public” may be in the charter school title.
An ALEC Website extols the virtues of the bill and claims it would “expand quality public education opportunities for all children by establishing a state Public Charter School Commission to serve as an ‘independent’ statewide charter authorizer.” There are nearly 20 (and counting) public charter schools in my home state of South Carolina.
Allow me a cursory Deep South case study. It’s a new public charter school that will remain nameless. Its application was approved by its sponsor, the South Carolina Public Charter School District (SCPCSD), almost the exact ALEC title from the website. The new “public” charter school just opened Monday, the 18th. It shares space with a big ole’ cult that describes itself as a “Cathedral.” Wasn’t it Jefferson who wrote about that “Wall of separation?”
Speaking of the First Amendment; the makeup of the new school’s Charter Planning Committee includes an ordained minister who is also an officer of the applicant organization. Another member of the Committee is a music minister, noted for serving as music coordinator for the “march for jesus” rally of 15,000 participants, whatever that was. A third member has her master’s degree from a baptist theological seminary and helps lead a children’s ministry at a local baptist cult. Yet another CV emphasizes that the lady has “having served at first baptist cult for many years.” It’s also noted that a real estate saleslady is actively involved with her church. That’s a whole lot of religion considering the state’s charter school act defines a charter school thusly:
(1) A “charter school” means a public, nonreligious, non-home-based, nonprofit corporation forming a school that operates by sponsorship of a public school district, the South Carolina Public Charter School District, or a public or independent institution of higher learning.
Let’s get non-home-based out of the way first. A virtual charter school is the quintessence of home-based. That’s where the instrument of instruction, the computer, is located. If a virtual charter school is K through 12, the state is telling you that a five or six-year-old can boot up and handle everything on his or her own. That’s nonsense. Adults in the home must help. You might want to call it non-home-based, but you’d be wrong.
Nonreligious? Interesting, when one of the founders of the applying organization is an ordained minister and the applicant organization has the word “Faith” in the title. Nonprofit? Somebody profits. The South Carolina law insists that if an outside management company is brought in, it must be non-profit. Alan Singer’s HuffPost Politics blog recently pointed out a nonprofit charter school executive who hauled in nearly a half-million dollars for her oversight troubles. Singer cites other examples in the $330,000-$499,000 range.
Non-profit means nothing. The new school is doling out a lease payment of $108,000 a year according to records. That’s over a million in a decade. Nonprofit?
The applicant is a 501 (c)(3) incorporated in Texas and founded by the two women behind the South Carolina facility. Both are listed as Executive Directors of the applying entity. Paid Executive Directors? One founder writes that the intent is to build charter schools around Texas and the country. They’re on their third Texas application.
The name of the Texas school will be the same as the South Carolina School. One lady has declared herself as CEO and Superintendent of the South Carolina school in the local paper. Another article calls her the Executive Director. Her associate from the applicant organization is also her business partner in a t-shirt and screen-printing business that displays at charter school functions. They are also going to apparently hold leadership positions in both the Texas school and the South Carolina school simultaneously. At least that what two applications infer. My Texas source tells me both were either fired or forced to resign from their most recent charter school employment. One of the school leaders once declared bankruptcy according to her Texas application. Due diligence, anyone?
Let’s get back to the enabling South Carolina legislation, originally adopted in 1996 and updated periodically until very recently. By definition, the law describes a charter school as a public school. But, for the most part, it’s not a public school with its own unique limited district. In South Carolina, the entire state is considered a “district” for charter purposes. There are two other “district” definitions, but they’re in the minority. Most public charter schools fall under the state district. Actual public schools have their own unique districts.
That means a single state district public charter school can vacuum students up from any number of school districts. The public charters draw their funding from federal categorical funding and South Carolina state sources. Here’s how the line-item funding from H 3710 reads: “2013-14 the South Carolina Public Charter School District shall receive and distribute state EFA funds to the charter school as determined by one hundred percent of the current year’s base student cost, as funded by the General Assembly multiplied by the weighted students pupils enrolled in the charter school, which must be subject to adjustment for student attendance.”
Even though the amount (about $3,500) is significantly lower than dollars for public schools, it’s still a good chuck and it’s still taxpayer money. Interesting that red states like South Carolina never have enough money to support teachers and public education in general. One federal funding source for the public charter schools is Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s pet project “Race to the Top.” That’s 4 billion divvied up among all schools. Duncan is a huge supporter of the free market and charter schools. Another federal source is a revolving loan program.
There’s more. The public charter schools can also get extra cash from the school choice millionaire and billionaire crowd. It’s in the legislation: “The governing body of a charter school is authorized to accept gifts, donations, or grants of any kind made to the charter school and to expend or use the gifts, donations, or grants in accordance with the conditions prescribed by the donor.”
And if parents and/or guardians of a given public school are wingnut enough, they can vote to convert their school to a public charter school by filing an application with the local school board of trustees. A two-thirds vote is required and public becomes public charter without moving a muscle or brick.
Yep, while we were sleeping, ALEC and the school choice money boys slipped your repugican state legislators enough ALEC “all expenses paid “vacations” and campaign money mickeys to ensure that it’s just a matter of time before the public loses all control over public schools.
The solution can be found November 4th under “D.”

Satanic Magic vs catholic magic in Oklahoma

The Black Mass vs the eucharist. In the end, Satanists want to piss on jesus' body and catholics want to eat it …

Random Photos

Mitch McConnell Committed A Felony and Democrats Demand An Investigation

mcconnell-filibusterIn a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, the Kentucky Democratic Party is calling for an investigation into whether Mitch McConnell used official government resources to solicit contributions to his reelection campaign.
The letter reads in part:
mcconnell-ethics
Mitch McConnell is no stranger to unethical behavior. In 2013, CREW summed up McConnell’s ethical issues, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (r-KY) is a five-term senator from Kentucky. His ethics issues stem from his possible use of Senate staff and resources to conduct opposition research for his campaign. He was included in CREW’s 2007, 2008, and 2009 reports on congressional corruption for unrelated matters.”
Kentucky repugicans launched their own complaint against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes with the FEC that accused her of renting her campaign bus from her father at a below market rate. If this is true, the bus would be an illegal campaign gift.
Selling access to the Senate Dining Room is felonious degree of corruption. The fact that repugicans can only answer this serious charge by talking about a bus demonstrates the severity of the potential offense. None of this will be settled before Election Day, but it is extremely doubtful that the Senate Ethic Committee will get involved before November.
The Kentucky Senate race has gotten very ugly. Mitch McConnell has been corrupt for decades, but he has become so safe in his incumbency that he confidently flaunts his crimes out in the open. The repugicans call President Obama a dictator and a king. They talk about impeachment for fantasy offenses, but it is their own Senate leader who is abusing his office and public resources to stay in power.
Instead of measuring the drapes in the Majority Leader’s office, Sen. McConnell deserves to be fitted for an orange jumpsuit.

Bombshell Emails Reveal Scott Walker Illegally Coordinated With Wisconsin Super PAC

scott-walker-sadNot to be outdone by Rick Perry in the repugican race to the bottom, new documents released by prosecutors in Wisconsin revealed illegal coordination between the campaign of Scott Walker and a Super PAC.
The new documents are loaded with examples of Scott Walker’s recall campaign telling big money donors to donate to the Wisconsin Club For Growth. The problem is that it is illegal for the campaign and the Super PAC to coordinate, but Gov. Walker tried to get around campaign finance laws by telling his donors to donate to the state Club For Growth.
“The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth,” said an April 28, 2011, email from Kate Doner, a Walker campaign consultant, to R.J. Johnson, an adviser to Walker’s campaign and the advocacy group. “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.”
In the email, Doner wrote to Johnson that Walker wanted Wisconsin Club for Growth exclusively to coordinate campaign themes. “As the Governor discussed … he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging,” she wrote.
The behavior described above is illegal. The emails reveal that Scott Walker continued to engage in a criminal pattern of behavior that goes back to his time in college. In an email seven months after the prank Koch phone call, Walker’s fundraiser wrote, “Take Koch’s money,” she also wrote, adding: “Corporations. Go heavy after them to give.” The money that Scott Walker’s fundraiser demanded didn’t go to her candidate’s campaign. It went to the Wisconsin Club For Growth.
The latest batch of Walker emails are useful from a broader perspective because they provide a window into how repugicans get around campaign finance laws. The repugicans in Congress are using their bogus IRS scandal as a weapon to get the IRS to back off of so-called non-political 501 4(c)s like the Club For Growth. The outside groups are critical to the repugican money operation. If the IRS were to start denying them tax exempt status, it would be blow to the secrecy behind the scam.
As far as Walker is concerned, these documents couldn’t have hit the public at a worse time. Walker is deadlocked with Democrat Mary Burke in tough reelection contest. Walker could easily lose in November. Just like Mitch McConnell, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie, Walker is claiming that his scandal is a political attack coming from Democrats, but the evidence is mounting that there is a deep culture of corruption within the repugican cabal. The dark money that is flowing into repugican campaigns is making things worse.
The one sure way to clean up our politics is to remove the dirty repugicans this November.

New Information To Help Send Rick Perry Straight to Prison

by Allen Clifton

By now most people have heard about Texas Governor Rick Perry being indicted on two felonies for abuse of power and coercion of a public servant.
If convicted, Perry faces anywhere from 5-99 years for the first count and between two and ten years for the second.
Naturally, Perry has denied these allegations. He's claiming that his actions were within the law when he threatened to, and ultimately did, veto $7.5 million in funding to the Travis County Public Integrity. He did so because District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign from her position at the TCPI following a DUI conviction.
And as it just so happens, Ms. Lehmberg was investigating Perry's office for possible corruption charges during the time of her DUI.
Which is where the real heart of this entire story lies. Because had she resigned from her position at the TCPI, Rick Perry would have been the person who chose her replacement.
Pretty convenient, right? Nothing like being able to handpick the replacement for the person investigating you for corruption.
The "reasoning" Perry is using is that her conviction for a DUI made her unfit to hold her position.
And while he might have a point, that still doesn't justify him using his power as governor to unlawfully try to blackmail and intimidate anyone. Which is exactly what he did.  And in my opinion, he clearly broke the law.
He doesn't deny making the threat, which he later carried out.  So now it's just getting down to the legal aspect of whether or not what he did was legal. Which is what the trial will hopefully tell us.
Well, a new bit of information coming from the Dallas Morning News might very well be what strips all credibility from Perry's "defense" of his actions, proving he did indeed abuse his power as Governor of Texas.
It seems that during Perry's time as governor there have been two other District Attorneys who were convicted of DUI's, but Perry didn't push for them to resign.

The repugican FCC commish defends states' rights to ban municipal ISPs


Ajit Pai's chief of staff says that the FCC shouldn't allow cities to set up public ISPs where state law prohibits it, even when no other broadband is available, and warns Democratic commissioners that they shouldn't do things that future repugican juntas might object to.
He's couching his arguments in terms of local autonomy and states' rights, but his vision of local autonomy doesn't include actual localities like cities and towns, because "local subdivisions merely 'are created as convenient agencies for exercising such of the governmental powers of the State as may be entrusted to them in their absolute discretion.'"
Twenty states place at least some limits on the ability of cities and towns to offer Internet service to residents through laws passed as favors to cable companies and other ISPs. Wheeler argues that because Section 706 gives the FCC authority to promote competition in local telecommunications markets by removing barriers to investment, the commission can preempt laws that prevent cities and towns from creating their own broadband networks that compete against private companies. The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the city of Wilson, North Carolina, which both say local laws prevent them from expanding Internet service to surrounding areas, have filed petitions asking the commission to do just that.

Ziggy

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Wikipedia bans Congressional IP address for transphobic vandalism (again)

A Congressional staffer, or someone with access to their network, has repeatedly modified Wikipedia articles to insert transphobic slurs, prompting the second month-long lockout for the Congressional IP address in less than a month.
One Wikipedian speculates that the vandal is a "puerile male intern/staffer desperate to become the House's very own Jester."
One of the edits was to an article about the TV show Orange is the New Black. The article on the show noted actress Laverne Cox as the first ever "real transgender woman" to play in a women-in-prison narrative. Someone using the Congressional IP address changed the description of Cox, describing her as a "real man pretending to be a woman."
In an article about transphobia, the same Congressional IP address added a sentence reading: "Vice magazine cofounder Gavin McInnes desribes [sic] transphobia as a perfectly natural response to someone pretending to be something that they are not," referencing an article by McInnes.
The addition was deleted three minutes later. The Congressional user defended the edit on the talk page, saying that the article was "too pro-trans" and needed to be more neutral. "I don't see how disagreeing with the concept that transphobia is a negative thing is considered 'hate speech,'" wrote the Congressional user. "The whole concept of 'transphobia' is being promoted to trivialize the experiences of real women (or 'womyn-born-womyn' as some people call us)."

Crowdfunded news-site uncovers ISIS training camp using online mapping tools


Bellingcat kickstarted £51K to do data-driven/crowdsourced citizen journalism earlier this month, and a week later, pinpointed the exact location of an ISIS training camp near Mosul by matching the jihadis' social media posts to online maps and geo-location services.
It's a very clever sleuthing exercise, and shows the positive power of groups of online puzzle-solvers -- a contrast with the redditor mob that incorrectly accused an innocent man of being the Boston Marathon bomber.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go through training as an ISIS terrorist? Or better yet, where you would go to find such advanced training? All you have to do to find the answer to these questions is turn to the nearest ISIS media twitter account and click on that bright blue Justpaste.it link. Let’s take a look at the photos posted in July showing one of the Islamic State’s training camps in Ninewa Province and see what we can learn.

Now, here's a fact for you ...

14th century Polynesian settlement discovered

Evidence of early Polynesian settlement dating back to the early 1300s has been uncovered within a stone's throw of central Whitianga, in a discovery of national significance.
Archaeologist Andrew Hoffman displays a stone adze recovered from an archaeology dig on a new housing development at Whitianga 
A team of five archaeologists has spent two months at one of the Coromandel Peninsula's largest excavation sites by the Taputapuatea stream, at a housing development on the outskirts of the Coromandel town.
According to archaeologist Andrew Hoffman, the site has been identified as a Polynesian settlement from the 1300s used for cooking and gardening. It also had a specialist working area for making tools and repairing waka. Among the hundreds of artifacts unearthed are rare large sized hangi oven stones, moa fish hooks, basalt and chert rock tools, a large midden, and flakes of unused rock.
The site revealed a sequence of flooding events that enabled archaeologists to establish that Polynesians would use the site for a season and then move on.
Trenches dug up to 1.5m deep reveal profiles of layers of varied sediments and radiocarbon dating of site artefacts suggest the settlement was occupied between 1310 and 1490, said Hoffman.
A large deep hole lined with large black rocks revealed an earth oven that was still greasy. Hoffman said it was rare to find earth ovens of this size and it was probably used for cooking animals like seals.
Heritage New Zealand Maori heritage advisor, Makere Rika-Heke said this discovery was a reaffirmation of some of the old traditions kept by local people which have been played out along the landscape.
The site beside Taputapuatea stream is at the base of a hill that is home to Te Wahine Moeroa o Taputapuatea Pa.
The location has significant links to Taputapuatea Marae on the coast of Raiatea, Tahiti, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the waka- voyaging ancestors who crossed the Pacific and established themselves in Aotearoa.
It is said that Kupe, the great Polynesian explorer who voyaged to Aotearoa from Hawaiki bathed in the hot springs of Te Whitianga a Kupe after he moored his waka in Mercury Bay. He named the stream and pa after the Tahitian Taputapuatea marae because of its similar natural flora and fauna.
Rapanui (Easter Island), Hawaii, Arahurahu Island in Tahiti, Moorea Island and a reef in the Kermedec Islands all have sites of significance referring to Taputapuatea.
The artifacts and 4000 photographs taken will be analyzed and recorded over the next two months.
However, the public will not be able to view the site as it is in the middle of re-filling for a subdivision block.

Siberian elders vote to bury 'Ice Maiden' to stop quakes, floods

A council of elders in Russia’s Altay Region voted to bury the mummy of a woman who lived in the region in the 5th century BC. Altay locals believe that her excavation from her tomb back in 1993 angered her spirit and causes natural disasters.
Mummy of a woman with a tattoo on her hand who died approximately 2500 years ago
The mummy, dubbed the Siberian Ice Maiden in English-language sources and the Princess of Ukok, the Altay Princess or Ochi-Bala domestically, was unearthed from a subterranean tomb at the Ukok Plateau, close to borders with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia. The remains have spent most of the time thereafter at a research facility in Novosibirsk, as scientists conducted facial reconstruction, DNA tests and other research projects on the Maiden.
But in 2012, the unique specimen was returned to the Altay Region to be placed at a special mausoleum at a local national museum. Many people in Altay believe that the remains to belong to a legendary ancestor and a powerful princess.
Some even say that her tomb was placed to keep a gate to the underworld closed and that the absence of the guardian has led to natural disasters in Altay, including the 2003 earthquake and this year’s record floods.
The council of elders, which includes elders of major Altay clans and spiritual leaders, voted Monday to have the Ice Maiden buried again. The decision comes after years of campaigning by activists, who believe that the relic’s proper place is in its original tomb.
The staff of the Museum of Archeology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences Siberian Branch pack the mummy of Princess Ukoka for delivery to the National A.Anokhin Museum in the Republic of Altai
“The council of elders has taken its decision, so the mummy of the revered woman will finally be buried,” said councilman Akay Kine.
The planned burial however may not prove to be simple. For starters, local legislation would have to be changed to allow the archeological find to be treated as simple human remains. Regional authorities reportedly are not going to oppose this.
The scientists may not be thrilled to lose the remains, considering that new research techniques may allow them get new scientific data in the future. Latest checks on the mummy in 2011 showed that it is well preserved and shows no sign of deterioration.
And proponents of the burial are yet to agree on a ceremony which would satisfy their mystically-minded supporters.
Ironically, DNA tests on the Ice Maiden, and other remains of people who belonged to the nomadic Pazyryk culture that inhabited the Ukok Plateau, proved that she cannot be an ancestor of the people living in the Altay Region now. The Pazyryk are genetically closest to Siberian Ket and Selkup peoples, but are further from the Altay people than from, for example, Germans, Basques or Russians.

Neanderthals 'overlapped' with modern humans for up to 5,400 years

Neanderthals and modern humans were both living in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years, according to a new paper published in the journal, Nature. For the first time, scientists have constructed a robust timeline showing when the last Neanderthals died out.
Neanderthal model
Significantly, the research paper says there is strong evidence to suggest that Neanderthals disappeared at different times across Europe rather than being rapidly replaced by modern humans.
A team, led by Professor Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford, obtained new radiocarbon dates for around 200 samples of bone, charcoal and shell from 40 key European archaeological sites. The sites, ranging from Russia in the east to Spain in the west, were either linked with the Neanderthal tool-making industry, known as Mousterian, or were 'transitional' sites containing stone tools associated with either early modern humans or Neanderthals.
The chronology was pieced together during a six-year research project by building mathematical models that combine the new radiocarbon dates with established archaeological stratigraphic evidence. The results showed that both groups overlapped for a significant period, giving 'ample time' for interaction and interbreeding. The paper adds, however, it is not clear where interbreeding may have happened in Eurasia or whether it occurred once or several times.
Professor Thomas Higham said: 'Other recent studies of Neanderthal and modern human genetic make-up suggest that both groups interbred outside Africa, with 1.5%-2.1% or more of the DNA of modern non-African human populations originating from Neanderthals. We believe we now have the first robust timeline that sheds new light on some of the key questions around the possible interactions between Neanderthals and modern humans. The chronology also pinpoints the timing of the Neanderthals' disappearance, and suggests they may have survived in dwindling populations in pockets of Europe before they became extinct.'
In 2011, another Nature paper featuring Dr Katerina Douka of the Oxford team obtained some very early dates (around 45,000 years old) for the so-called 'transitional' Uluzzian stone-tool industry of Italy and identified teeth remains in the site of the Grotta del Cavallo, Apulia, as those of anatomically modern humans. Under the new timeline published today, the Mousterian industry (attributed to Neanderthals and found across vast areas of Europe and Eurasia) is shown to have ended between 41,030 to 39,260 years ago. This suggests strongly that there was an extensive overlapping period between Neanderthals and modern humans of several thousand years. The scientific team has for the first time specified exactly how long this overlap lasted, with 95% probability.
The Uluzzian also contains objects, such as shell beads, that scholars widely believe signify symbolic or advanced behavior in early human groups. One or two of the Châtelperronian sites of France and northern Spain (currently, although controversially, associated with Neanderthals) contain some similar items. This supports the theory first advanced several years ago that the arrival of early modern humans in Europe may have stimulated the Neanderthals into copying aspects of their symbolic behavior in the millennia before they disappeared. The paper also presents an alternative theory: that the similar start dates of the two industries could mean that Châtelperronian sites are associated with modern humans and not Neanderthals after all.
There is currently no evidence to show that Neanderthals and early modern humans lived closely together, regardless of whether the Neanderthals were responsible for the Châtelperronian culture, the paper says. Rather than modern humans rapidly replacing Neanderthals, there seems to have been a more complex picture 'characterized by a biological and cultural mosaic that lasted for several thousand years'. The Châtelperronian industry follows the Mousterian in archaeological layers at all sites where both occur. Importantly, however, the Châtelperronian industry appears to have started significantly before the end of Mousterian at some sites in Europe. This suggests that if Neanderthals were responsible for both cultures, there may have been some regional variation in their tool-making, says the paper.
Professor Higham said: 'Previous radiocarbon dates have often underestimated the age of samples from sites associated with Neanderthals because the organic matter was contaminated with modern particles. We used ultrafiltration methods, which purify the extracted collagen from bone, to avoid the risk of modern contamination. This means we can say with more confidence that we have finally resolved the timing of the disappearance of our close cousins, the Neanderthals. Of course the Neanderthals are not completely extinct because some of their genes are in most of us today.'
Previous research had suggested that the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal) and the site of Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar, might have been the final places in Europe where Neanderthals survived. Despite extensive dating work, the research team could not confirm the previous dates. The paper suggests that poor preservation techniques for the dating material could have led to contamination and false 'younger' dates previously.

Daily Comic Relief

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With 467 Inches of Rainfall a Year, This Village in India Is the Wettest Place on Earth

There's a rain gauge in Mawsynram, Meghalaya, India. On average, it collects 467 inches--that's 38.9 feet--of rainfall a year. Contrast that with about 50 inches of annual precipitation in New York City. It's the wettest place on Earth and the people who live there have had to adapt accordingly.
Photographer Amos Chapple visited Mawsynram. He's published 18 photos of it in The Atlantic. You can view them all here.
Do you see the kids crossing the bridge? That bridge is alive. Because the rain rots standard wooden structures, the villagers have, over the centuries, developed the ability to shape and weave living trees into useful objects. That bridge is a living rubber tree.

NASA Video: Three Years of the Sun in Three Minutes

This video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows three years of solar activity during solar maximum, the peak of the sun's activity during its normal, 11-year cycle. The clip is compiled from two images per day in the three-year span. Remarkable solar events in the video include two partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, the largest flare of this solar cycle, comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus. 

Baby Gorilla Born at Oklahoma City Zoo


The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden welcomed this darling female Western lowland gorilla, born last weekend. Her mother did not appear to have mothering instincts or be bonded with her baby enough to satisfy the zookeepers, who stepped in to raise her. Zoo staff will care for the infant gorilla around the clock in a private area of the gorilla enclosure, with the intent to introduce her into the gorilla population at an optimal time in the future. 
The Western lowland gorilla is native to central and western Africa. Due to commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss and disease, the species is presently critically endangered.

Swimming Manta Ray Looks Like a Spaceship

Robert Sorokanich of Gizmodo notices that this huge manta ray swimming straight at a diver's camera looks like a spaceship ready to swallow you whole. It's a selection from this video shot off the coast of Hawaii. The manta ray encounter begins at the 0:33 mark.

Flying Sea Lion

A video shot during a fishing trip off of Ketchikan, Alaska, purportedly shows an orca flicking a sea lion some 20 feet in the air with its tail.



Animal Pictures