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Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

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Today in History

1492 Christopher Columbus and his crew land in the Bahamas.
1576 Rudolf II, the king of Hungary and Bohemia, succeeds his father, Maximillian II, as Holy Roman Emperor.
1609 The song "Three Blind Mice" is published in London, believed to be the earliest printed secular song.
1702 Admiral Sir George Rooke defeats the French fleet off Vigo.
1722 Shah Sultan Husayn surrenders the Persian capital of Isfahan to Afgan rebels after a seven month siege.
1809 Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, dies under mysterious circumstances in Tennessee.
1899 The Anglo-Boer War begins.
1872 Apache leader Cochise signs a peace treaty with General Howard in Arizona Territory.
1933 Alcatraz Island is made a federal maximum security prison.
1943 The U.S. Fifth Army begins an assault crossing of the Volturno River in Italy.
1949 Eugenie Anderson becomes the first woman U.S. ambassador.
1960 Inejiro Asanuma, leaders of the Japan Socialist Party, is assassinated during a live TV broadcast.
1964 1964 USSR launches Voskhod I, first spacecraft with multi-person crew; it is also the first mission in which the crew did not wear space suits.
1970 President Richard Nixon announces the pullout of 40,000 more American troops in Vietnam by Christmas.
1971 The House of Representatives passes the Equal Rights Amendment 354-23.
1984 The Provisional Irish Republican Army detonates at bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England, in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; 5 others are killed and 31 wounded.
1994 NASA loses contact with the Magellan probe spacecraft in the thick atmosphere of Venus.
1999 Chief of Army Staff Perez Musharraf seizes power in Pakistan through a bloodless military coup.
2000 Suicide bombers at Aden, Yemen, damage USS Cole; 17 crew members killed and over 35 wounded.
2002 Terrorist bombers kill over 200 and wound over 300 more at the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali.

Nobel winner Malala: Kids 'should stand up for their rights'

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi won the 95th Nobel Peace Prize for their work promoting education rights for children. The pair was selected over rumored front-runners Pope Francis and NSA leaker Edward Snowden. VPC
Malala Yousafzai said Friday she is "honored" to be sharing the 95th Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi.
"We should all consider each other as human beings and we should respect each other," said Malala, who was in chemistry class when she found out about the award. "It is my message to children all around the world that they should stand up for their rights."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the two "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."
Yousafzai, 17, the youngest Nobel winner, is from Pakistan, and Satyarthi, 60, is from India — adding significance to the award, given the tumultuous history between those two nations.
The committee "regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism," it said.
In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen but recovered to advocate for education for girls around the world.



Satyarthi, the Nobel committee said, has spent a lifetime "focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain." The committee said Satyarthi was "maintaining (Mahatma) Gandhi's tradition."
From Ukraine to the Islamic State to Israel-Gaza and Ebola — 2014 has seen the world stumble from one peace-defying crisis to another.
That just means there's been no shortage of raw material for Norway's Nobel committee to work with, said Øivind Stenersen, a historian of the prize.
"There's always talk that with the world so full of troubles it's time to just drop the prize because everything is in chaos, but I must say in times like these the prize has a really important role," said Stenersen, who also runs Nobeliana, a publishing company devoted to the Nobel awards.
"It gives us hope it's possible to find solutions to really difficult problems," Stenersen said.
Since 1901, the committee each year has recognized, in Alfred Nobel's words, "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Over time, the committee has widened its eligibility requirements to include efforts to improve human rights, fight poverty and clean up the environment.
On 19 occasions, the prize has not been given due to failure to meet the committee's standard.
Officially, there is no list of candidates and nominations are withheld from the public for 50 years. However, because the nominators themselves — politicians, academics and other Nobel laureates, mostly — are permitted to talk, it's known there were 278 candidates for this year's $1.2 million award.
That was winnowed down to a handful of serious contenders by the committee comprised of three women and two men. The Nobel committee indicated this year's choice was especially difficult to make.

President James Madison may have had epilepsy

Skimming through Lynne Cheney's new biography of James Madison one is particularly interested in the evidence she presents of Madison's seizures, here summarized in her interview by the American Enterprise Institute:
He was not sickly, but he was sidelined from time to time. At the end of his presidency he drafted an autobiography explaining that he had a “constitutional liability to sudden attacks, somewhat resembling epilepsy, and suspending the intellectual functions.” Madison’s principal biographer deduced from this that he suffered “epileptoid hysteria,” but it is much more likely that he suffered what physicians today call complex partial seizures, in which those afflicted can hear, but not understand, speak but not make sense. The seizures can be disabling. Madison apparently experienced one while in militia training, and it kept him from serving in the Revolutionary War.
That last-mentioned episode has been judged by other biographers as being evidence that Madison's "bilious episodes" were psychogenic or a conversion disorder.  From the evidence Cheney cites at numerous places in her book, convinces one that he did have an organic seizure disorder.

First Ebola, Now Marburg

How Do We Stop Future Outbreaks?
First Ebola, Now Marburg. How Do We Stop Future Outbreaks?
Marburg, a virus similar to Ebola, has hit the radar in the African country of Uganda, raising concerns about another deadly outbreak. With two lethal viruses threatening public health, many are questioning why these contagions seem to be flaring up more often — and more important, what we can do to avoid them in the future.
The current Ebola outbreak originated in West Africa and has killed more than 3,800 people, more than all other past outbreaks combined. The first Marburg death was confirmed recently in Kampala, Uganda. Both viruses cause hemorrhagic fevers and are passed from animals to humans, which has experts examining how humans and African wildlife interact.
One mystery surrounding these viruses is where they live between outbreaks, when they aren't infecting humans, author and Ebola expert David Quammen told National Geographic. For example, health officials know Ebola likely goes dormant in an animal, called its "reservoir host," but they have yet to identify exactly which species. At least one of the suspects is the fruit bat, which is believed to host several other viruses (including Marburg and SARS) without getting sick. These bats usually live in large, tightly packed groups, allowing the virus to spread easily among the animals.
In the past, there was enough room in Africa for humans and fruit bats to exist without much contact. Deforestation has changed this, according to an editorial in the Guardian. West Africa was once covered in rain forests, a common habitat for fruit bats. During the past decade, loggers have stripped the land, reducing the habitable area for the animals. Laws governing more responsible logging practices in that part of the world could help reduce the risk of future outbreaks, but civil wars and political corruption are slowing progress.
As the forests shrink, the mining industry has been moving more people into Africa to tap its vast mineral reserves. These miners often have to travel through high concentrations of bats, which increases the likelihood of someone being infected. Like the rain forests, mines are also popular habitats for animals that might carry these viruses, and miners have been among the victims in several Marburg outbreaks in the past. In 1998, one of the largest Marburg outbreaks to date occurred in Congo, in an area pocked with several illegal gold mines. During the course of the epidemic, there were 149 cases and 123 deaths. 
But animals in the wild are not the only threat to spread these viruses; wild animals — including primates, birds, and reptiles — captured and sold for food or as exotic pets are also a risk. Some experts believe the illegal wildlife trade market — which brings in between $10 billion and $20 billion each year — is one of the greatest threats due to its global reach and the lack of health standards. "As wildlife is traded between hunters, middle marketers, and consumers, there are, quite literally, billions of opportunities for disease transmission among wildlife, humans, and domestic animals," wrote Timothy Bouley and Sara Thompson for the World Bank. Research has found that outbreaks resulting from wildlife trade have caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic damage globally. It has been such a problem the researchers suggested that eradicating the illegal trade market would be more practical and effective at stopping outbreaks than attacking the virus directly.

Did you know ...

That repugicans still have a hard time believing in racism
Hey, isn't snow supposed to be white?
About the repugican cabal's scorched earth policies
Just how long do CD's last? not forever
About how Wall Street is hitting the jackpot by fleecing workers' pensions
This man gets 4 1/2 months for tweeting rape threats
That George Zimmerman's family wanted their own reality show
The U.S. death scorecard:  Ebola -1; Flu - 50,000
That 9 out of 10 climate science deniers have ties to Exxon Mobile money
That old energy is doing everything it can to stop solar power
Can farmers outsmart climate change?
And, if not, is martian soil good for farming?
And you won't believe how bad air pollution is in China
That U.S. hospitals unprepared to handle infectious hospital waste
That it's a great time to be rich
And get ready for some damn fine coffee...twin peaks is coming back!
That sustainable businesses applaud corporations for leaving ALEC
That Iceland bankers convicted and unemployment is down
Here's 6 billionaires who have moved somewhere and ruined it
Here's the human body, according to venture capitalists
About global of warming and global warring
About the irrational strain of sexism in the rational thought movement
The Dallas hospital alters account of Ebola patient admittance
That the world's first affordable robot butler coming in 2015
About placing gun violence in a human rights issue
That the FBI can't find files after spending $55 million to digitize them
That multi-tasking makes your brain smaller
Here's the worst colleges in America
That tyranny is when you regularly fear being summarily executed
That repugican budget cuts severely limited our ability to respond to Ebola
Here's inside the Koch brothers toxic empire
Naomi Klein says capitalism is stupid
That voter registration surges after Michael Brown shooting
Marriott fires Florida Democrat after learning she's running against company-backed repugican cabal candidate
About the 5 biggest mistakes in the Ebola outbreak
That this garden can kill
About the christian wingnuts' love of corporal punishment
That the Rockefeller heirs move to divest oil stocks
That it's open carry for whites and open season on blacks
About why you bear economic risk and Donald Trump doesn't
That facebook, twitter & youtube get an 'f' for handling harassment
That domestic violence is 2 to 4 times more prevalent in police families than in regular American families
That abortion hurts the dudebros
Just who's paying the pro-war chickenhawks?
That the cops seize couple's home following son's first drug arrest
That this "officer of the year" arrested for stalking a woman using police resources
That cops have a much bigger domestic abuse problem than the NFL
This idiot judge rules police can use swat team to shut down twitter parody
And is Obama going easy on banks that break the law?
About the militia next door
These veterans send a letter to faux news after the "boobs on the ground" remark
Can Ebola become airborne??!!??!?!!  yeah, probably not

Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal of science teacher fired for teaching creationism

Dinosaur and Cave-boy's dreamy adventure Shutterstock
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of an Ohio science teacher who was fired for teaching creationism instead of evolution, Americans United for Separation of cult and State announced.
John Freshwater taught eighth-grade science at Mount Vernon Middle School until 2011, when the Board of Education removed him after it was revealed that he decorated his science classroom with bible verses, attacked the theory of evolution, and gave extra credit for attending creationist films.
In 2008, he allegedly used a high-voltage Tesla coil to burn a cross into a student’s arm.
Freshwater sued the school district shortly after his firing, claiming that it had violated his First Amendment rights. The lawsuit was dismissed, but Freshwater appealed all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which upheld the firing.
In its decision, the majority wrote that “we recognize that this case is driven by a far more powerful debate over the teaching of creationism and intelligent design alongside evolution, [but] here, we need not decide whether Freshwater acted with a permissible or impermissible intent because we hold that he was insubordinate, and his termination can be justified on that basis alone.”
The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case means that the lower court’s decision will stand.
“This case should serve as a reminder to public school teachers and administrators that classrooms are not cults,” the Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said in a statement. “School-sponsored religious activity is a violation of students’ rights.”

The Truth Be Told

In NC Senate Debate repugican cabal Shrieking Point Addict Tillis Says Hagan uses Talking Points

Hagan Tillis Haugh debate
Senator Kay Hagan outperformed her repugican opponent Thom Tillis and libertarian candidate Sean Haugh during North Carolina’s third and final debate for the Senate race, on Thursday night.  Hosted by WECT and sponsored by the League of Women Voters, this debate was the candidates final chance to reach a large block of voters.
The addition of Haugh added a new dynamic, but the focus was on Hagen and Tillis.
From the beginning of the hour-long debate, Hagan used the opening statement to clearly state her views on the issues and defend her record. Conversely, Tillis followed the repugican cabal’s generic approach to this election campaign.  He attacked Hagen and the President but avoided, at all costs, stating his policy alternatives.
The question and answer section began with a discussion on ethics. Earlier in the week, ethics complaints were filed against both candidates, alleging that both of them benefited financially from the votes they cast in the Senate and the House.  In Hagan’s case, the complaint alleged that her husband’s business benefited from the stimulus package.  Hagan said categorically “I’ve had no role in my husband’s business.”  Before pointing out that Tillis voted to benefit from his investment in a bank.
In a moment of irony, Tillis accused Hagan of reciting talking points, while using repugican attack dog shrieking points. Once again, Tillis dodged when asked to identify the policy areas where he departs company with the repugican cabal’s leadership. That infers that he wouldn’t part company with the leadership on anything. The inference is strengthened by the fact that Tillis relied on the repugican cabal’s formula for candidates’ debates of running on a platform of attacking the President and the candidate while dodging questions and avoiding disclosure of policy alternatives at all costs.
A striking example is seen in the discussion on ISIS. Hagan restated her view that U.S. needs to use airstrikes and keep American ground troops out of the fight. Conversely, Tillis used the occasion to attack Hagan’s attendance record at Armed Service Committee records, without offering a policy alternative.
During the discussion on Ebola, Hagan outlined a comprehensive approach in which a travel ban would be part of the strategy of boots on the ground for logistics and building better healthcare facilities in affected countries as well as training and developing treatments for the disease.  Hagan also noted, if needed, North Carolina is “well prepared” to deal with a potential Ebola outbreak.
After saying Hagan’s plan wasn’t a plan, Tillis depended on the standard repugican formula of fear mongering and calling for a travel ban.
“We’re not safe and secure. We’ve got to get this situation under control, we’re not ready.”
When the discussion turned to same sex marriage, Tillis relied on populist rhetoric to justify his opposition to marriage equality. It was clear that Tillis really didn’t want talk about this issue when he could use the opportunity to recite a litany of repugican cabal shrieking points including the debunked claim that Obamcare will cost jobs. It really got interesting when he went on yet another tangent to claim the state’s cuts in education weren’t really cuts. Then Tillis launched into a screed in defense of his vote suppression law.
Senator Hagan’s approach to the question showed she had a far better grasp of the issue and that she wasn’t ashamed of her opinion on the subject of marriage equality. First, she said very directly that she opposes the state’s ban on same sex marriage. Hagan used the opportunity to remind voters that Tillis is going to waste tax dollars defending the ban despite developments at the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, the Court refused to hear cases brought by several states seeking a reversal of lower court rulings that marriage bans are unconstitutional. She went on to discuss the economic costs that go with a ban on same sex marriages.
Haugh said he also opposes the marriage ban before launching into a discussion of the lawmaker’s role in upholding the constitution rights of everyone.
During a discussion on income inequality, Hagan hit Tillis hard for his opposition to the minimum wage and his opposition to pay equity. Hagan’s decision to remind voters of Tillis’ opposition to pay equity had to hurt because Hagan has a solid lead over Tillis among women.
Tillis stuck to the standard repugican cabal shrieking points of deregulation and blaming Democrats for unemployment.  He avoided answering the question of what the candidates thought is a fair wage and if the minimum wage should be raised.  Once again he resorted to repugican mythology and fear mongering with the claim that a minimum wage increase would cost jobs and hurt the economy. By this point in the debate, Tillis’ use of the repugican cabal debate formula was getting old fast.
The debate included a discussion on energy and dredging.  Hagan used the opportunity to attack Tillis’ record on fracking.
“Tillis has made it a crime to disclose the fluids used in fracking,” Hagan said, referring to the passage of a law that opens the door to hydraulic fracturing in the state.
“I think we’ve got to be sure that we protect our water and we protect our coastal economies,”
In a nod to corporate interests including the Koch brothers, Tillis ranted about the EPA being “out of control” but then he said the Federal government falls short on dredging.
The last phase of the debate was closing statements.  Tillis’ final appeal to the voters of North Carolina conformed to the formula of pretending that the American dream is attainable with hard work, attacking Obama, calling Hagan a part of the establishment.
Hagan began her closing remarks with important information about the election. She reminded voters that Friday is the deadline to register and that early voting ends on October 23. She reminded voters that Tillis still can’t (or won’t) name a single issue where he parts company with the repugican leadership. Hagan used the opportunity to say that governing involves reaching across the aisle to get things done. She closed with a sentence that summarizes the difference between her and Tillis: it is not how you grow up, but how you treat people.
There weren’t any knockdown punches, nor were there any surprises. Hagan continued to show voters that she cares about the issues that matter to North Carolina by answering the questions directly while Tillis dodged. Hagan showed a comprehensive understanding of complex issues, while Tillis stuck to repugican cabal shrieking points filled with jingoistic phrases. On the rare occasion that he ventured into policy, Tillis parroted the same simplistic ideas offered by repugicans across the country.
Most importantly, Hagan showed leadership ability. During the discussion on marriage equality, Hagan defended the constitution and the constitutional process, while Tillis emulated other repugicans by placing ideology above everything – including the U.S. Constitution.

Crowd Shouted ‘Fuck the Palins!’ At Brawl That Showed The Real Meaning Of Family Values

sarah palin
Cruel, cruel world in which a family goes from imagining moving into the White House to being told “Fuck the Palins!” in their home state.
The Anchorage police report was released from the Palin Family Values brawl last month. Bristol Palin’s take on things? Someone shouted “Fuck the Palins!” because it’s a mean world out there in Alaska, where polls show that Sarah Palin would lose her home state to Hillary Clinton were she to try to run for the White House in 2016.
On September 6th, Todd and Sarah Palin and their grown children Willow, Track and Bristol attended a party at a friend’s house in South Anchorage that turned into the drunken brawl heard round the world, because Todd is married to America’s foremost Obama-stalker, Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin is also renown for hawking her specific brand of christian hate on a pay Youtube channel, because the repugican cabal dog only loves winner$.
After this drunken brawl took place, America’s down home pit bull, Mama Grizzly, former repugican Vice Presidential candidate and lunatic fringe wingnut sat in a white stretch limo — as all of middle America does when they attend a party.
It was into this limo that her bloody, drunken son Track, described in the report as “angry and intoxicated”, was directed in an attempt to avoid the po-po after the entire drunken clan got into what seems to be two separate fights after much alcohol. How she got there when she was also described in the report as “upset and and in a verbal argument with other individuals at the scene” is anyone’s guess. But in the white limo Ms. Palin sat, perhaps pretending it was the White House at 1400 Pennsylvania Ave.
TMZ described the melee from Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol’s point of view, claiming she was “slut-shamed” by homeowner Korey Klingenmeyer, per her description to police, including being dragged around. Bristol is described as “heavily intoxicated and upset.”
But the homeowner and several witnesses had a different story to tell. In the witnesses’ version, “Bristol punched him in the face — he says he let her hit him 5-6 times before grabbing her fist and pushing back … sending her reeling to the ground.”
ABC described it starting thus, “The drunken brawl involving Sarah Palin and her family last month was a wild one, according to police reports released today, and at the center of the report is a Palin daughter repeatedly punching a man in the face, being pounced on by a group of women and then dragged by her legs across the lawn.”
Whatever happened, it led to this, in which people at the party chanted “Fuck the Palins!”:
That scrap then sparked the all-out brawl — witnesses say Track and 3-4 other people came running to defend Bristol … and all hell broke loose … with the Palins, including dad Todd, taking on all comers.
Willow says several people at the party we’re chanting, “Fuck the Palins!”
One witness says Todd got jumped by 4 people, and Track jumped in to help his father. He emerged from the scrum with a torn shirt and bloody mouth. Bristol says she was uninjured, though one cop described her as having “dirt on her knees.”
Worth nothing … cops described almost everyone at the party as being “intoxicated” … including the Palins.
See, Alaska is no different than the rest of the country. They scream “Fuck the Palins!” at parties, too.
ABC:
Police wrote that when they approached the scene Track Palin was being pushed into a limousine, described in the report as a “long white limousine,” where his mother was sitting. He got out of the limo to speak to police after his mother told him to. Police described Track Palin as being shirtless and having “blood around his mouth and on his hands and he appeared to have an injury under his left eye, on his upper cheek.” The officer said that Track Palin was “angry and intoxicated and I had a hard time getting him to calm down.”
Luckily for the Palins, no one will be charged. And this is how the family values roll in repugican America. This is what dog, Guns, and Liberty look like when the lights go down. This is the precious America that Sarah Palin tried so valiantly to protect us from being changed by Kenyan usurper Barack Obama. Sadly, the President has found ways of investing in education and manufacturing in spite of Palin’s ceaseless dedication to trolling his agenda.
Much like the rest of America, the “moderately intoxicated” homeowner was “angry that the Palins had showed up and were causing problems.” Tell it to the hand, dude.

Another Elderly Woman Gets Caught in the repugican cabal’s War on Voting

New restrictive voting laws passed by repugicans have disenfranchised the elderly. 
Is this the "solution" to the so-called voter fraud?
RuthelleFrankVoterRights092714You may have been voting in the same polling place for longer than your state legislators have been alive, only to find yourself disenfranchised as a result of new restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans as a “solution” to the non-existent problem of voter identification fraud.It happened to 92-year-old Ruby Barber and 84-year-old Dorothy Card in Texas. In Tennessee, 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper and 93-year-old Thelma Mitchell — who had cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years — faced similar problems, as did 86-year-old World War II vet Paul Caroll in Ohio, 97-year-old Beth Hiller in Kansas and a 92-year-old Alabama woman who was too embarrassed by the incident to reveal her name to the media. Even 90-year-old former Speaker of the House Jim Wright had to jump through a number of hoops to get a suitable ID from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In Yesterday’s Guardian, 87-year-old Wisconsin resident Ruthelle Frank spoke out about her own experience:
On October 2011, an article appeared in my local paper reporting that, in order to vote in the next election, everyone was going to need a state-issued identity card for the first time. At 85 years old, I didn’t have one, because I’m handicapped and so I never drove a car or needed an ID.
The newspaper said that I’d have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and register for a card, and it had a list of the documents that I needed to bring. I had everything – except for the legal birth certificate. I’m not sure my parents ever gave that to me. I did have a baptism certificate that was notarized, but that was all.
My daughter drove me down to the DMV with my stack of paperwork, and we tried to ask the receptionist if I had everything, but she just handed me a form with a mess of questions on it. I told her I didn’t have a birth certificate, but she didn’t say I couldn’t go further, so we sat down and I filled it out and brought it back to her.
She barely looked at it, handed it back to me and sent me to the photo department, so I thought we were all set. But after the photo person took my picture, he sent me to another woman, and I handed her the form and my stack of papers, and she just threw my baptism certificate back at me and said it wasn’t valid and I couldn’t get an ID.
She even said, “How do I know you’re not an illegal alien?!”
That really hurt. I’d lived in the same house for 85 years, I’d served on the village board for 18 years, and then they told me that I wasn’t going to be allowed to vote.
I always voted. I’ve been registered to vote since I was 21 (the voting age wasn’t 18 until later), and I have never missed a presidential election.
My polling place is just one block down the street and one block over, so I could always walk to get there. Maybe a couple of times it was a little further away, four blocks or something, but never so far that I couldn’t walk. Voting places are close to home. But I had to get my daughter to drive me to the DMV because it’s 5 miles away. Thinking of all the other poor people, there are lots of us who might be able to get out to vote but not to get to the DMV, not if you don’t drive or don’t have anyone to take you there. And then you get there, and they tell you you don’t have the right piece of paper and maybe you’re an illegal alien who never should have voted?
I left the DMV and thought, “It just isn’t right.” I felt so downtrodden. As handicapped as I’ve been my whole life, as old as I am, it just felt like I wasn’t as good as anyone else.
I did try to get a birth certificate after that. Eventually, they told me I could get one, but I’d have to pay anything from $20-$200, since there was a mistake with my name that had to be corrected. That’s a lot of money! I’m so old now, what am I going to do with a $200 birth certificate? Hang it on the wall?
Read the rest of her tale at The Guardian.
A 2012 analysis of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law by Morning Call found that “those over age 65 are more likely than any other age group to be caught without the identification they will need to vote in the presidential election.” Many older Americans don’t drive. Some lack birth certificates and other documents necessary to obtain a state-issued ID. As with Ruthelle Frank, the costs of obtaining the proper documents may be prohibitive on a fixed income. And some live many miles from the nearest DMV, and are too frail to travel the distance.
In 2012, BillMoyers.com producer Lauren Feeney spoke with two Pennsylvania women who had faced similar challenges: Laila Stones, a retired nurse working towards a culinary degree; and Ana Gonzalez, a community organizer, mother of four and grandmother of 12. The two women were “stuck in a real-life catch 22: You need a birth certificate to get a government-issued photo ID, but you need a photo ID to get a birth certificate.”

The repugicans Are Unhinged and Terrified of Good Economic Reports

Despite their Herculean efforts to bankrupt America though, another report this week revealed the economy is on the mend despite the repugican cabal's plot to obstruct the functioning of the nation …
Republican_Unhinged-elephant2-485x347
When a nation receives good or at least encouraging news, particular good economic news, it is normal to expect politicians to rejoice, unless they are repugican politicians. One can hardly blame repugicans for not celebrating anything good about America since they have spent the past five-and-a-half years doing everything in their power to impose devastation on the country, especially the economy. Despite their Herculean efforts to bankrupt America though, another report this week revealed the economy is on the mend despite the repugican cabal's plot to obstruct the new President’s attempt to turn around the economic disaster eight years of repugicans’ drunken spending spree on the nation’s credit card.
Americans will not hear many repugicans campaigning on what they were calling a nation-ending budget deficit just a couple of years ago, because for the fifth consecutive year the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP as a result of the President’s economic policies. It is noteworthy that the deficit is now at its lowest point under President Obama’s Administration, and that it has been falling well before repugicans stole control of the House in 2010.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the deficitplunged to $486 billion in fiscal year 2014;” that is $195 billion less than the record shortfall recorded during fiscal year 2013 and is the smallest recorded deficit since 2008. In fact, at just 2.8% of GDP, the deficit under President Obama is well below the average of the past 40 years; that is back to 1974 and destroys the repugicans’ absurd contention that they are fiscal conservatives. It is also noteworthy that one of the factors contributing to the deficit falling is that revenue has increased due to a tiny change in the tax rates for the richest one-percent who still take advantage of shrub-era tax cuts on their income.
What should be a great campaign message for Democrats leading up to the midterms is that the deficit has continued to fall sharply over the past few years while teabagger-repugicans were trying desperately to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. In fact, the deficit was, and had been, falling before the repugicans’ precious sequester including last year when House repugicans decided to shut down the government before they considered paying the debts they racked up during eight years of the shrub-repugicans’ economic disaster. It is likely why, nationally at least, there is a dearth of hand-wringing and fear-mongering about “this Obama spending spree driving runaway debts and deficits,” and why repugicans are focusing their fear-mongering on other threats they created by enabling the rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and prevented a quick end to West Africa’s Ebola virus with their sequestration cuts.
Fright over debts and deficits has not completely ended on the campaign trail for repugicans in congressional districts with predominately stupid repugican voters, but it is not the defining theme it was during the 2010 and 2012 elections. There are some teabaggers who, lacking cogent anything, are stuck in 2010 and claim the budget deficit is still rising at alarming proportions, but it is more to defend their votes to shut down the government and, believe it or not,  “cause a credit default to prevent America from ever borrowing again.” It is a mindset that appeals to many repugican voters who want nothing more than to see government bankrupted and “drowned in a bathtub” because repugicans convince them their economic woes are due to the federal government.
The CBOs report noted that one of the reasons the deficit is falling is due to increased revenue as a result a slight increase in tax rates for the richest one percent. It puts a dagger into the heart of the repugican argument that only austerity and brutal spending cuts will rein in the debt and that any tax hike automatically decimates economic growth and kills jobs. Although the debt has been falling for the past few years, the greatest decline has been since revenue increased after the 2012 budget fight ended.
Speaking of jobs, it is true that some repugicans still claim that without deeper tax cuts for their wealthy and corporate masters jobs will continue to vanish, but their lies do not, and cannot, change the reality that there has been steady job growth under President Obama. In fact, just last week economic experts reported that weekly “tallies of how many Americans are applying for new unemployment benefits have reached the end of its usefulness to investors and consumers.” Why? Because hiring has been steadily improving, layoffs are declining rapidly, and jobless claims are at their lowest point in 14 years. A mark economic experts say cannot possibly go any lower, and they noted it is the 12th lowest since 1980 and lower than 85% of the records over the past 35 years. All with a small tax hike on the very richest Americans and without a rash of regulatory cuts repugicans claim is necessary for job creation and economic growth; something they are secretly telling their Koch and corporate donors will happen if they control both houses of Congress.
President Obama has provided Democrats with plenty of good economic news to campaign on successfully, and although wages are still declining for most Americans, that too is something repugicans own and are not talking about. In fact, with the stock market at record highs, unemployment falling, corporate profits through the roof, and America as the world’s leading oil exporter, the only Americans suffering are 98% of the population due to repugicans’ job-killing, pension-robbing, and penchant for slave wages.
Democrats also have several precious gifts from repugican-misled states that are suffering credit downgrades, poor job creation, severe revenue shortfalls, and citizens earning slave wages and lacking basic necessities that repugicans pledge to enact in Washington if the control Congress. It is really unclear what else the President can possibly do on his own to make the good news for the economy a winning issue for Democrats, and if they are waiting for repugicans to bring up the good news on the economic front they will be waiting forever.
If nothing else, repugicans are so besotted with pleasing their racist, religious, secession-minded, and monumentally ignorant supporters, it is certain they will not talk about, or take even a smidgen of credit for, the economic good news because…Obama. Democrats cannot possibly be as ridiculously stupid as repugicans or their supporters and they have absolutely no excuse for not riding the economy to victory in November by both touting the President’s success and reminding sane Americans who is fighting to help all of them share in the economic good news. Because except for the racist, most religious, self-hating, and frankly stupidest Americans, most voters know who is fighting for and against them.

The Truth Hurts

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Notes from the lunatic fringe

Trooper Sean Groubert shoots an unarmed Levar Jones

Let us give Sean Groubert every benefit of the doubt.
Let us assume he is a good person. Let us assume he is kind to children, well liked by neighbors. And by all means, let's assume he has a black friend. For good measure, let's assume he has two.
Now, with those assumptions in force, let's ponder why Groubert, a white South Carolina state trooper, shot an unarmed black man last month at a gas station in Columbia. The incident has received less notice than did the shooting of Michael Brown, probably because the victim, 35-year-old Levar Jones, survived. But it deserves attention because it promises to enlighten us in ways the Brown killing did not.
Groubert, who has been fired and charged with assault and battery, tells his side of the story in audio obtained by MSNBC. He explains how he stopped Jones for a seat belt violation, how Jones "jumped out," of his car, and "stared at me." Groubert says that "as I approached him, he jumped headfirst into his car" and that when he ordered Jones out, "he jumped out of the car. I saw something black in his hands. I ran to the other side of the car, yelling at him, and he kept coming towards me. Apparently it was his wallet."
But that is not what happened. Groubert's story is contradicted by an unimpeachable witness - his own dashcam video. You can see it online for yourself. Groubert pulls up as Jones is exiting his vehicle. The officer asks to see Jones' license. Jones reaches into the car to get it. The officer, voice rising in panic, orders Jones out of the vehicle. Jones is complying with this when Groubert opens fire. He's still shooting as Jones falls out of frame, hands raised.
If Brown had survived to testify about what had happened, would it even have made a difference? After all, there are six readily-available witnesses in that case, and their consistent story still hasn't brought an indictment.  But if there had been cameras trained on the events in Ferguson...
The Groubert video offers an unusually stark image of that fear in action. Viewing it, it seems clear the trooper is not reacting to anything Jones does. In a very real sense, he doesn't even see him. No, he is reacting to a primal fear of what Jones is, to outsized expectations of what Jones might do, to terrors buried so deep in his breast, he probably doesn't even know they're there.
Jones, like Brown, wasn't just a black man, he was The Black Man in that instant. And for some people, The Black Man is a monster.



Thai traffic police offered cash to turn down bribes

Thailand's traffic policemen will get money in return for refusing bribes, police said on Thursday, part of the junta's efforts to combat what it has called an ingrained culture of corruption within the force. The army seized power in May after months of protests aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's first female prime minister, saying it needed to restore order after nearly 30 people were killed in sporadic political violence. Since then, the military government has launched campaigns aimed at cleaning up Thailand's image as a haven for vice.
The junta has clamped down on taxi gangs at airports, targeted drug users by ordering more police checks and has even vowed to curb bad behavior among Buddhist monks to protect the image of the religion in the predominantly Buddhist country. "This monetary incentive will encourage officers to look out for traffic violators who try to bribe," said Police Major General Adul Narongsak, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, adding that two policemen were recently awarded 10,000 baht (£190, $310) for refusing a 100 baht (£1.90, $3) bribe.
The junta has set about restructuring the police force and ridding it of a "bribes for jobs" culture, a main demand of the protesters who helped trigger Yingluck's ouster. It wants to depoliticize a force that has been closely associated with Yingluck's brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup but remains the country's most influential politician. Thaksin is a former police officer and placed allies in the most powerful positions in the force. He fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid a jail term for graft and has lived in exile abroad since. Thailand has been divided for nearly a decade between Thaksin's allies and his critics.
Thai police salaries start at about 6,000 baht (£115, $185) a month, according to 2013 data, well below the national average. For motorists in Bangkok, where traffic snarl-ups are among the world's worst, slipping a policeman a banknote or two when stopped for a minor traffic offense is not uncommon. But motorists might soon find their offers being turned down. "We want to change perceptions and practices and to reward those who show that they are clean," said Adul. And for those policemen who might still be tempted by a backhander? "We encourage people to take photographs as evidence," Adul said. Thailand was ranked 102 out of 177 countries in Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Vandals destroyed home using wrecking ball

A home in Tasmania, Australia, has been flattened by vandals with an excavator and a wrecking ball. Between 11.30pm and midnight on Tuesday somebody climbed into the Lance and Jeanette Musgrave's rented excavator and took a wrecking ball to their property in Frankford. The couple were already reeling from an apparently accidental house fire several weeks ago. This had left standing the remnants of a home – two large sheds, manicured gardens, trees, fencing, a water tank, a sun room.
These were the foundations the Musgraves were using to rebuild their life on the hobby farm until Monday night’s bizarre incident. A shocked Mr Musgrave said the destruction would cost him $50,000 while police believe the totaled excavator - left dumped in a water tank- could cost twice that. ‘‘[The police] were in shock, they were actually in shock,’’ he said. ‘‘The person or persons responsible are out there in the community , the local community, and we’re horrified at that. How do you [continue]?’
Mr Musgrave said he didn’t know what prompted the attack however he would be moving his livestock in case the culprit returned. The couple have been living there for nine years carrying out home improvements, growing vegetables and tending to livestock. Last month’s fire, deemed to have been caused by an electrical fault, gutted most of the home. Northern forensic police attended the property to inspect the excavator which had become entangled in wire fencing.

Northern CIB acting Inspector Ruth Orr said the placed looked like a ‘‘war zone’’. ‘‘It appears perhaps the person responsible knew what they were doing in terms of being able to operate an excavator to cause that amount of damage in a fairly short space of time,’’ she said. ‘‘It’d have to be something of a targeted plan.’’ Detectives are investigating the incident and have called for any witnesses or people with information to come forward. Detective Orr said the excavator would have been loud and an orange siren on its top would have been activated at the time.

Burglar caught on video trying on woman’s panties

A man says his girlfriend is very scared after surveillance video captured a stranger breaking into their home and putting on a pair of her panties over his jeans.
The unidentified burglar is seen on hidden camera climbing through the window of the Chicago home at about 12:45am on September 25. Rather than steal anything, the man looks at his phone, before looking at framed photographs and trying on a pair of panties.
Homeowner Steve Fremond said he had only heard rumors of bizarre burglaries in the neighborhood before his own home was broken into. "It would've been difficult for me to prove it if I didn't catch it on camera," he said. "The guy didn't take any valuables that we know of."

Mr Fremond said without the video he probably would not have known the break-in happened. "My initial reaction to seeing it was mostly disbelief but once it sank in I was a little scared," he said. "My girlfriend was very scared though. If you look towards the end of the video you could see him take the picture of her off of the table." Mr Fremond has passed the video on to police but no arrests have yet been made.

Intoxicated lady arrested during naked drive with three-year-old son sitting on her lap

A woman from Corpus Christi, Texas, is facing criminal charges after drinking and driving in the nude with her 3-year-old son sitting on her lap.
At around 5:30am on Sunday a witness told police she saw a woman standing next to a car, take off her clothes, get inside and drive away.
Police pursued the car and soon caught up with the woman. As officers approached her car, they discovered that she was indeed driving while naked, with her 3-year-old child sitting in her lap.
28-year-old Lyndsey Baker was arrested for driving while intoxicated. The child was taken to his father.

If We Used Shakespearean Insults Today

Siobhan Thompson of BBC America's Anglophenia blog imagines insulting people using only the words of William Shakespeare. In that case, my response to the Bard is:
You taught me language; and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!
You can find all of her references with links to the full text of the plays here.

Slave photo found in Robert E. Lee's home

National Park Service curator Kim Robinson holds the photo of Selina Gray, right, who was in charge to care for Arlington House where Gen. Robert E. Lee had lived in for 30 years, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The National Park Service has acquired a rare Civil War-era photograph of an enslaved woman at Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's home in Virginia. The previously unknown photograph depicts Selina Gray, the head housekeeper to Lee and his family. The photograph was unveiled Thursday at Lee's Arlington House plantation overlooking the nation's capital. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The National Park Service has acquired a rare Civil War-era photograph of an enslaved woman who helped save Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's home in Arlington, Virginia.
The previously unknown photograph depicts Selina Gray, the head housekeeper to Lee and his family, along with two girls. The photograph was unveiled Thursday at the Arlington House plantation overlooking the nation's capital that was home to Lee and dozens of slaves before the Civil War.
An inscription on the back of the image reads "Gen Lees Slaves Arlington Va."
Park officials said this is only the second known photograph taken of slaves at Arlington.
"It's extremely rare to have an identified photo of an enslaved person," said National Park Service spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles. "Since slaves were considered property, it's very rare to have a photo where you can identify the people in the photo."
Gray is noted in history books for helping to save Arlington House after Lee's family left and the plantation was captured by Union troops during the Civil War.
Arlington House was originally built as a monument to George Washington. Lee's wife, Mary Custis Lee, entrusted the home to Gray, and she later confronted a Union general about soldiers pilfering Washington family heirlooms from the house. She was able to have the items safeguarded.
The photograph was purchased on eBay in September for $700 after a volunteer found it online. The seller was based in England and found the photo in a box of unwanted images. The nonprofit Save Arlington House Inc. donated funds to acquire the image.
The photograph will be unveiled to the public Saturday, and it will be used in future exhibits after Arlington House and its slave quarters are restored over the next two years. Historians will study the image and hope to learn more about it.

Shapley Violin

The elegant shape of the violin evolved over a period of 400 years, largely due to the influence of four prominent families of instrument makers, a new study finds.

Silver Tiara Among Treasures Discovered in Bronze Age Tomb

Silver Tiara Among Treasures Discovered in Bronze Age Tomb A Bronze Age woman buried in Spain wore a symbol of her wealth and power on her head: an elegant silver crown.
The silver circlet was one of several dozen precious items found in the woman's tomb, which she shared with a male adult. The tomb sits in the La Almoloya plateau, located in southeastern Spain. Between about 2200 B.C. and 1550 B.C., this site was a bustling political center, with multiple residential complexes and tombs.
La Almoloya was first discovered in 1944, and seems to have been the seat of the Bronze Age El Argar civilization, which is known for its sophisticated bronze and ceramic artifacts. Now, researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have excavated dozens of new buildings and 50 new tombs at the site, including the joint tomb holding the silver circlet.
Tomb treasures
That tomb stands out because the man and woman inside are curled into flexed positions and surrounded by precious and semi-precious objects, the archaeologists said. Other than the woman's tiara, the tomb contained silverrings, earrings and bracelets, as well as a bronze dagger nailed to its handle with silver fastenings. A delicate ceramic cup was gilded with silver on the rim and exterior, representing some of the earliest silverwork seen on such a vessel, the researchers reported.
Some of the tomb treasures were rare, indeed. The researchers uncovered a metal punch, a tool used to create holes; it has a silver handle and bronze tip and is unlike any other item from the region and era that archaeologists have ever discovered. The tomb also contained four ear dilators, which would have been used to stretch the earlobes after piercing, like modern ear gauges. Two of the dilators were silver, and two were gold.
The silver circlet itself is an unusual find. Only four other diadems from the El Algar civilization have ever been discovered, the researchers said. None of those diadems remain in collections in Spain.
Power and wealth
Silver Tiara Among Treasures Discovered in Bronze Age …
The buildings found in La Almoloya are stone and mortar, with some stucco decorations. The site not only reveals Bronze Age construction techniques, but also hints at the political structure of the era, the researchers noted.
The treasure-filled tomb sits right next to another newly discovered structure, a high-ceiling hall about 750 square feet (70 square meters) in area. The hall is part of a palatial complex, which includes several other rooms.
Benches line the walls of the hall, offering seating for 64 people around a ceremonial fireplace and podium. The archaeology team suspects this hall was the Bronze Age version of a courtroom or conference room, used for hearings and government meetings. If so, it is the first Bronze Age government building ever discovered in Western Europe, the archaeologists reported.

Philip 2 of Macedonia

King Philip II's bones are buried in a tomb along with a mysterious woman-warrior.

Wait, Is It Actually a Mistake to Rake Leaves?

Mulching Leaves Every year, fall reintroduces us to a raft of pleasures that we get to experience in no other season—hot apple cider, pumpkin carving, and so on. But fall also signals the return of one chore many of us dread: raking leaves. As surely as the seasons change, autumn mornings witness homeowners bent over rusty-tined rakes, endlessly scraping withered foliage onto tarps and into heavy-duty garbage bags. Imperfect though it may be, that's the world I've always known.
Consider my surprise when I learned that, according to lawn care experts, leaf-raking is an optional exercise. Certainly, a thick layer of leaves should not be left to smother the grass growing beneath. But raking isn't the only—or even the easiest—method of protecting your lawn's health. It turns out that mulching leaves—that is, mincing them to shreds with your lawn mower—is what's best for the health of your lawn. And compared with raking, mulching leaves is much less work.
There are plenty of mowers with mulching capability on the market today. As well, you can easily outfit a conventional, non-mulching mower with a serrated blade specially designed for mulching. But neither is strictly necessary. You can mulch leaves with any type of lawn mower, although it might take a few passes to do the job well. No matter what type of mower you own, prepare by setting the blade to its highest setting and removing the bag that collects clippings.
Mulching Leaves - Close-Up ShotProceed to mow the lawn just as if it were any other day, not the most exciting day of your life—the day you finally break free from the tyranny of raking. The goal is to cut the leaves into shreds that are about a half-inch in diameter (more or less the size of a dime). As mentioned, depending on the volume of leaves that have fallen on your lawn, it might take more than one pass to get the shreds to the desired size. When you're done, the leaf shreds should have fallen between the blades of grass to reveal much of the lawn. A passerby might easily be fooled into thinking that you had raked!
If when you're done you look at the shredded leaves scattered across your lawn and think, "I can't see any grass whatsoever," then do this: Reattach the bag to your lawn mower and go over the grass one last time. In the process, you'll collect a surfeit of mulched leaves that you can add either to your garden beds or compost pile. Consider mulching on a weekly basis during the height of the season so there's not enough time between mowings for a challenging amount of leaves to accumulate.
As the mulched leaves decompose, they enhance the soil with valuable nutrients that feed the microbes and worms present in any healthy lawn. Arguably, the nitrogen boost that results from mulching is such that you don't even have to fertilize in the fall. This means that compared with raking, mulching leaves isn't only easier and more lawn-friendly, but it's also less costly, saving you both the money and time spent on fertilizing. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at leaves the same way again. It’s a shame for them to sit by the curb all wrapped up in tightly knotted plastic bags when they could be gracing your grass with nourishment.