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Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1248   The city of Seville, France, surrenders to Ferdinand III of Castile after a two-year siege.  
1785   John Hancock is elected president of the Continental Congress for the second time.  
1863   Union forces win the Battle of Orchard Knob, Tennessee.  
1863   The Battle of Chattanooga, one of the most decisive battles of the American Civil War, begins (also in Tennessee).  
1903   Italian tenor Enrico Caruso makes his American debut in a Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's Rigoletto.  
1904   Russo-German talks break down because of Russia's insistence to consult France.  
1909   The Wright brothers form a million-dollar corporation for the commercial manufacture of their airplanes.  
1921   President Warren G. Harding signs the Willis Campell Act, better known as the anti-beer bill. It forbids doctors to prescribe beer or liquor for medicinal purposes.  
1933   President Franklin D. Roosevelt recalls the American ambassador from Havana, Cuba, and urges stability in the island nation.  
1934   The United States and Great Britain agree on a 5-5-3 naval ratio, with both countries allowed to build five million tons of naval ships while Japan can only build three. Japan will denounce the treaty.  
1936   The United States abandons the American embassy in Madrid, Spain, which is engulfed by civil war. 1941   U.S. troops move into Dutch Guiana to guard the bauxite mines.  
1942   The film Casablanca premieres in New York City.  
1943   U.S. Marines declare the island of Tarawa secure.  
1945   Wartime meat and butter rationing ends in the United States.  
1953   North Korea signs 10-year aid pact with Peking.  
1968   Four men hijack an American plane, with 87 passengers, from Miami to Cuba.  
1980   In Europe's biggest earthquake since 1915, 3,000 people are killed in Italy.  
1981   US Pres. Ronald Reagan signs top secret directive giving the CIA authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.  
1990   The first all-woman expedition to South Pole sets off from Antarctica on the part of a 70-day trip; the group includes 12 Russians, 3 Americans and 1 Japanese.  
1992   The first Smartphone, IBM Simon, introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
2005   Ellen Johnson Sirleaf elected president of Liberia; she is the first woman to lead an African nation. 2006   In the second-deadliest day of sectarian violence in Iraq since the beginning of the 2003 war, 215 people are killed and nearly 260 injured by bombs in Sadr City.  
2011   Yemeni President Ali Abullah Saleh signs a deal to to transfer power to the vice president, in exchange for legal immunity; the agreement came after 11 months of protests.

Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week

Hair strokes, hand-holding, caressing and conversation is also available
by Christopher Hooton
Professional cuddler Samantha Hess has opened a pro cuddling shop, where for $60 customers can get an hour's worth of spooning and "the level of human contact that we want or need in order to be our optimal selves."
Located in Portland, Oregon, the shop is called Cuddle Up To Me and is already very busy.
"This business has taken off," Hess told Fox 12. "I've gotten as many as 10,000 emails in a week."
Hour-long sessions cost $60 dollars and include hair strokes, hand-holding and a plethora of different cuddle positions.
Hess says the business is in no way adult-orientated, and that she got the idea for it during a low point in her life. Samantha Hess previously cuddled at customers' houses Where the magic happens Hand-holding is included
"I was at a place where I thought paying someone to hug me and not have ulterior motives sounded like a great idea," she added. "I decided why can't this be a thing that we can easily and safely reach for?"
Sessions are taped to ensure the safety of both cuddler and cuddlee.
"After meeting Samantha Hess, I feel so much better," said Steve from Vancouver in a testimonial on the Cuddle Up To Me website.
"Our cuddle time gave me a different outlook on life. I had no idea what I was missing. I am a big fan now and look forward to our next session. She is encouraging, kind and sincere."
The shop is open Monday to Saturday. Talking is optional and pajamas are encouraged.

Teeth and Bones

Mass Abduction Reveals a Decaying Mexican State
by Marian Blasberg and Jens Glüsing
Teeth and Bones: Mass Abduction Reveals a Decaying Mexican State
Most murders don't even make the front page in Mexico anymore. But the recent abduction of 43 students has infuriated the country. The story has exposed the tight relationship between politics, law enforcement and organized crime. And it shows how weak the state has become.  More

Soon-To-Be Nevada Speaker Said Democrats Are The “Master” Of The “Simple Minded Darkies”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen was selected earlier this month to be Assembly Speaker once the new legislative session begins. He has a long history of making bigoted and offensive…
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One of the results of the repugican ‘wave’ during the recent midterm elections was that a number of state legislatures flipped over to repugican majorities. Nevada is one such state where this occurred. The repugicans stole 10 seats on Election Day, therefore taking control of the state’s Assembly. Instead of choosing current Minority Leader Pat Hickey to be Speaker, the caucus instead voted for Assemblyman Ira Hansen. Hickey was also bypassed as Majority Leader. Nevada repugicans claimed that Hickey wasn’t wingnut enough. This is the first time since 1929 that Nevada’s governor and two chambers have been repugican.
Well, they need not worry about Hansen’s wingnut bona fides. After the repugican caucus announced Hansen as the incoming Speaker, a weekly alternative magazine, the Reno News & Review, decided to comb through Hansen’s writing history. For over 13 years, Hansen wrote a column for his local newspaper, the Sparks Tribune. The News & Review combed through each one of his articles and found some shockingly racist, sexist, homophobic and just plain offensive statements. Most of the articles are not online, so writers and researchers had to rely on microfiche.
Regarding the topic of race in America, Hansen wrote a number of inflammatory columns. He pointed out that when he wrote his columns, he made sure there was a Confederate flag hanging in the room. His reason:  “I fly it proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause.” Hansen also spent a lot of time regurgitating unproven rumors about the personal life of Martin Luther King, Jr., obviously as a way to discredit his accomplishments and teachings. At one point, Hansen wrote, “King’s private life was trashy at best. … King Jr. is as low as it gets, a hypocrite, a liar, a phony, and a fraud.”
However, the worst may have been in an article where Hansen was discussing public education and teachers unions. He claimed that the NAACP and Democrats were using education as a way to enslave blacks. He then referred to the Democratic Party as “the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.”
“The Democratic coalition would split asunder if the NAACP & co. actually promoted what black Americans truly desire—educational choice. The shrewd and calculating [black] ‘leaders’ are willing to sacrifice the children of their own race to gratify their lust for power and position. The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies. For American blacks, being denied choice and forced to attend the failing and inferior government school system is a form of involuntary servitude. Let’s call it what it truly is—educational slavery.”
He also wrote that blacks are not grateful enough to white people for ending slavery.
“The lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”
Of course, Hansen didn’t limit his bigotry to blacks during his column’s history. Hispanics and Latinos were targeted quite a bit as Hansen constantly complained about gang violence and laid the blame on the Latino community. He also claimed, without any evidence, that an increase in Hispanics at a high school was causing more tuberculosis cases in the area. As far as women, Hansen blamed the “women’s liberation movement” on society’s ills.
“So what happened between 1960 and 2001? Major social changes that negatively affected the family. Childbearing was reduced to an average of two kids. … Divorce rates skyrocketed. ‘Child care’ became an industry. Child abuse skyrocketed. Thanks to the ‘sexual revolution’ and the ‘women’s liberation movement,’ women chose to act as foolishly as men, and illegitimacy also went through the roof. … Abortions get about one out of every four children conceived.”
And the hits go on and on. The News & Review pointed out that the Sparks Tribune’s Andrew Barbano will feature much of Hansen’s writing in his column during the upcoming legislative session. Barbano says he’s always believed that Hansen is “an overt bigot, racist and homophobe.”
Alas, this is what the repugican ‘wave’ brought us — more of the crazy, especially at the state and local level.

St. Louis Cop Who Killed Black Teenager Identified As Obama-Hating Gun-Loving Racist

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The St. Louis police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers, Jr. last month was inadvertently identified by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department when his name was included in an evidence envelope when Myers’ body was delivered to the funeral home. The police department had intended to keep the officer’s name a secret in the aftermath of the shooting, claiming safety concerns. A lawyer for the Myers family publicly identified the officer as 32-year-old Jason H. Flanery, a six-year veteran of the force.
Jermaine Wooten, the lawyer who revealed Flanery’s name, spoke with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday regarding Flanery’s online history. It appears that many of the posts and comments Flanery has made on Facebook, YouTube and other websites reflect a right-wing ideology, with specific anger directed at the President and First Lady. He’s also made statements reflecting a desire to fire a large number of shots at anyone who may have shot first.
Wooten noted online posts attributed to Flanery that call President Barack Obama “Nobama” and say that in a speech by Michelle Obama, “She looks drunk, high, and dumb as hell.” The lawyer said repeated disparaging remarks about blacks in Flanery’s postings reflected a “strong negatively biased view of African-Americans.”
He also cited Flanery’s online criticism of liberals and homosexuality. The lawyer complained that “lunatic fringe wingnuts” have not traditionally been “the friendliest” to people such as Myers.
He said online pictures showed “a guy who is actually in love with weaponry.” More problematic, Wooten said, are comments on YouTube videos. In those, Flanery criticizes liberals and posts comments such as, “wingnuts are better. At everything.”
Flanery, 32, on the force for six years, also posted comments on videos of police actions, including a shooting in New York. One comment: “And the moral of the story is … if you shoot at men with guns they are going to shoot you back. And probably a lot.”
Wooten said, “That says to me, if someone has a gun … he is going to continue to fire shots at that person until he is dead. Meaning if you fire one shot at me, I’ll fire 100 at you.”
Another thing that was noted by Wooten is that Flanery, while a teenager, was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon. Flanery was stopped by Chesterfield Police in 2001 when a teacher noticed him tossing a beer can out of a moving car. The police found a wooden baton, two throwing knives and other unopened beer cans. Eventually, Flanery pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and paid a $300 fine and attended alcohol counseling.
Wooten pointed out the parallels between Flanery, a white teenager living in an upper-middle-class suburb at the time, and Myers and other black teenagers being confronted by white police officers. He stated that Flanery got to move on with his life while Myers was essentially tried and executed for his crimes by Flanery on the street. Brian Millikan, the attorney for Flanery, dismissed that comparison claiming Myers made his decision when he pulled a gun and shot at Flanery.
St. Louis police claim that Myers was carrying a gun and shot at Flanery when Flanery pulled up next to Myers while Myers was walking in the Shaw neighborhood in St. Louis on October 8th. Flanery was off-duty, but wearing his uniform, while working security for a neighborhood association when he stopped Myers and two of his friends for a “pedestrian check.” Per Flanery’s account, Myers and the others ran off. Flanery states that when he chased after Myers, the teen ambushed him from behind some bushes on a small hill and began shooting at him. Myers was then shot dead during this confrontation as Flanery shot his gun 17 times, hitting Myers at least six times.
SLMPD_Tweet_1
There have been some inconsistencies in the police department’s story. First, the officer initially said Myers hid behind some bushes. However, there are no bushes where the confrontation took place, prompting police to amend the story. Also, police have states that a gun was found near the scene and gunpowder residue was found on Myers. On the other hand, Myers’ DNA was not on the gun that he supposedly shot. Also, a few minutes before the confrontation with Flanery, Myers went into a nearby store to purchase a sandwich. The store owner has contended that Myers did not have a gun on him when he entered the store. Also, a private autopsy indicates that Myers was likely incapacitated by a shot to the leg prior to Flanery delivering a kill shot.
The neighborhood and City of St. Louis experienced protests in the immediate aftermath of Myers’ death. It is expected more protests will occur in the area if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is no charged in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Pregnant, and No Civil Rights

With the 'success' of repugicans in the midterm elections and the passage of Tennessee's anti-abortion amendment, we can expect ongoing efforts to ban abortion and advance the "personhood" rights of fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses.But it is not just those who support abortion rights who have reason to worry. Anti-choice measures pose a risk to all pregnant women, including those who want to be pregnant.
Such laws are increasingly being used as the basis for arresting women who have no intention of ending a pregnancy and for preventing women from making their own decisions about how they will give birth.
How does this play out? Based on the delusion that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.
In Iowa, a pregnant woman who fell down a flight of stairs was reported to the police after seeking help at a hospital. She was arrested for "attempted fetal homicide."
In Utah, a woman gave birth to twins; one was stillborn. Health care providers believed that the stillbirth was the result of the woman's decision to delay having a cesarean. She was arrested on charges of fetal homicide.
In Louisiana, a woman who went to the hospital for unexplained vaginal bleeding was locked up for over a year on charges of second-degree murder before medical records revealed she had suffered a miscarriage at 11 to 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Utah may cut off NSA's water in protest of mass surveillance

In Utah, where the largest National Security Agency data center is located, a state legislative committee will soon consider a bill that could cut off millions of gallons of water for the NSA facility south of Salt Lake City. The bill is sponsored by Marc Roberts (r), is as a protest against the mass collection of Americans’ data, and would prohibit any Utah municipality from providing “material support or assistance in any form to any federal data collection and surveillance agency.”
An aerial view of the NSA's Utah data center, taken by activists with the Electronic Frontier Foundation .From the Associated Press:
Marc Roberts of Santaquin said he wants use a Wednesday afternoon hearing to explore whether the data center is getting any sweetheart deals on municipal water and power.
Lawmakers opted to hold off on Roberts’ bill to cut off the water to the facility during the last legislative session and study it during the interim.
The $1.7 billion facility, the NSA’s largest data-storage center in the U.S., was built in Utah over 37 other locations because of open land and cheap electricity. The center sits on a National Guard base about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City in the town of Bluffdale.

The 7 most mindblowingly stupid arguments against net neutrality

by S.E. Smith
anti-net neutrality manWe’re all in love with net neutrality, except for those of us who are not. The problem is that most of the arguments against it are mindblowingly ridiculous: They betray a fundamental lack of understanding about what net neutrality is, how it works, how the Internet works, and how regulatory agencies operate.
Read on for a greatest hits edition of the worst of the worst of anti-net neutrality sentiment.
1) Ted Cruz: “Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet”
It looks like the moron doesn’t understand Obamacare or the Internet. In a Facebook post, he suggested that net neutrality was “the biggest regulatory threat to the Internet.” The post compared net neutrality to the Affordable Care Act, arguing that: “It puts the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service, and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities, and higher prices for consumers.”
Someone should probably let Cruz know that the goal of net neutrality is to effectively do the exact opposite: To ensure that the Internet remains freely accessible to all, without differential pricing structures and limited access to sites and hosts that cannot afford to pay for the “fast lanes” proposal. Moreover, the White House specifically opposes government involvement in rate regulation, something that radically distinguishes it from Obamacare. Obamacare was a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system; net neutrality proposals seek to uphold the status quo.
In fact, some people already are telling him, including conservatives in the comments on his Facebook post, and Senator Al Franken, who was unimpressed by his logic. “This is about reclassifying something so it stays the same,” Franken explained. “This would keep things exactly the same that they've been.”
2) Net Neutrality Threatens Free Speech Rights
This is a serious accusation in a nation where free speech rights are paramount and a fundamental cornerstone of national identity. In an op-ed published at the Washington Post last week, Senator Cruz informed readers that “the threats from Washington to stifle freedom, entrepreneurship and creativity online have never been greater." Cruz continued, "Washington politicians want the money, and they want more and more control over our speech.”
He echoes other Congressional repugicans in the refrain that new neutrality will ruin the economy and restrict freedom of speech. It’s an odd choice of argument, given the reference to money; numerous repugicans are pocketing large amounts of money from companies like Comcast, which are opposed to net neutrality, and those very same repugicans are pushing against the proposed regulatory change to classify broadband as a utility. If free speech is important, people shouldn’t have to pay to exercise that right, which is precisely what will happen if we do not protect it.
Net neutrality enshrines free speech rights by ensuring that anyone with access to the Internet can start a blog, comment online, use social media, and communicate widely with the public. There’s no greater expression of personal freedoms than that.
3) This Is a Liberal Vs. Wingnut Battle
This refrain comes up repeatedly from wingnuts: Liberals want to regulate you right out of your free-market enterprise on the Internet, interfering yet again with the rights of law-abiding (and really, there should be fewer laws) Americans, while wingnuts oppose net neutrality, preferring to let the Internet sort itself out.
Someone should probably let these wingnuts know that support for net neutrality is bipartisan, with voters, regulators, and some members of Congress largely supporting net neutrality. Their support actually comes in no small part from their belief in the free market: The market isn’t free if some companies are given preferential treatment, which is exactly what will happen if some companies can buy their way into faster loading times and other benefits. Actually, free market advocates and critics have discussed, in detail, the case for net neutrality.
But what about all those polls saying that repugican and wingnut voters don’t like net neutrality? The answer is simple: Push polling works. When wingnuts are asked if they support net neutrality, their responses are far more likely to be confused or unfavorable. If the question is reworded (“should ISPs be able to ‘influence content’ online”), their responses change. Change the poll language, change the results. That’s because some wingnuts have made net neutrality a partisan issue, tagging the term with negative associations for wingnut voters. They tried the same trick with the Affordable Care Act, and it backfired: Now, Obamacare is more like an affectionate nickname than a slur, with even the President endorsing the name.
4) Net Neutrality Would Promote the Interests of China, Iran, and Other Enemies
Koch-backed lobbying cabal un-American Commitment has been whipping up sentiments over net neutrality, claiming that it will create a political situation akin to that in Russia. Meanwhile, as U.S. News and Tech Daily writer Roslyn Layton suggests, “Obama’s announcement could not be a better present to the leaders of China, Iran, and Russia.” Her argument, repeating claims that net neutrality will somehow restrict free speech and increase government regulation, is that any protection of net neutrality will serve as catnip for nations interested in cracking down on their own Internet freedoms.
A statement with suspiciously similar language from Broadband for America argues:
Further, the President's directive discredits US efforts to prevent countries like Russia and China from destroying the current international multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and replacing it with government regulatory control.  It is ironic that the President made his announcement while in China, which has long sought greater government control over the Internet and surely will be encouraged by the President's statement.   
Evidently, the U.S. can no longer comment on Internet freedoms if it passes a law to protect Internet freedoms.
5) Net Neutrality Will Target Wingnut Media
Donald Trump wants us to know that net neutrality is anything but neutral. Instead, it’s a sneaky scheme to undermine wingnut media. He seems a bit unclear on how, exactly, this will happen, but he took to Twitter (ah, the sweet breath of irony) to inform his followers of the issue. Michael Cantrell at the commentary site Young wingnuts echoes the claim: “The Internet is the only true haven of free speech where conservatives can voice their thoughts and opinions without fear. If Obama has his way, this will no longer be the case.” 
Other insane wingnuts like Lush Dimbulb have also joined this particular charge against net neutrality. In fact, tellingly, as the Daily Dot’s Kevin Collier revealed last week, numerous anti-net neutrality op-eds have been sponsored by anti-neutrality groups or appeared in papers with financial connections to ISPs resisting the proposed regulation; hardly an unbiased expression of public speech. That’s a sure sign of a nervous industry lining up to shoot down arguments against it, and it’s telling that it’s doing so through conservative media outlets.
Someone probably out to inform these critics that in fact just the opposite is true: Net neutrality will ensure that people continue to have access to any and all media they wish to see. Search results, promotions, and other techniques people use for finding media will not be affected by protecting equal access to the Internet. If anything, net neutrality will ensure that even the smallest of conservative sites, with a limited budget for server space, advertising, and media contacts, can be found right alongside bastions of those famous liberal elites like the Guardian and Socialist Worker.
6) Net Neutrality Will Kill the Economy
“An open, vibrant ‪#‎Internet‬ is essential to a growing economy,” says  John Boehner, which I wholeheartedly agree with. The U.S. economy wouldn’t be what it is today, and wouldn’t have tremendous room for growth, were it not for the Internet. But here’s where he loses me: “‪#‎netneutrality‬ is a textbook example of the kind of Washington regulations that destroy innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Someone should probably inform Boehner that, by contrast, a free, open, and vibrant Internet will stimulate the economy much more than one in a chokehold, held hostage to which companies can pay for premium access and which cannot. One reason the Internet was and has remained such a powerful tool for entrepreneurship is that anyone can access it, and all ideas are free and readily available; maintaining that status quo is critical for protecting the economy. At the Daily Beast, Joshua DuBois notes:
Over the last five years, the Obama administration has done a stellar job of investing in opportunity for our nation's young people, working at each stage of a child's development to ensure that kids have the ability to succeed and thrive. But—for at least the sizable segment of the next generation that desires to move into science, technology, engineering and math fields—these new FCC rules [the proposed fastlane approach] could waste a substantial portion of that investment, stifle innovation, and create a two-tiered opportunity structure with big companies on the top and future innovators left behind.  
7) Net Neutrality is a “Power Grab” (and “Media Marxist Conspiracy”)
Ever-despised wingnut site Breitbart believes that any net neutrality vote would be a “power grab” for Democrats on the basis of the belief that the FCC lacks the power to regulate. repugican Steve Scalise echoes the sentiment, though he fails to articulate how net neutrality benefits the Obama Administration specifically. In fact, a press release from the White House notes that: “That's what President Obama believes, and what he means when he says there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.” That’s pretty much the opposite of a power grab.
Someone should probably let the fact checkers and team over at Breitbart know that the FCC is a regulatory agency, as in, one empowered to regulate telecommunications in the United States, including but not limited to the Internet. It is empowered to do so by Congress and develops regulation with the assistance of public comment, internal regulatory meetings, and reports from other government agencies. Congress can also pass what are known as “legislative rules” on its own, directing the FCC to perform certain tasks or to reconsider existing regulatory rules; in other words, Congress could ask the FCC to revisit net neutrality, thus creating a strong check against any abuse of powers.
We’re a little unclear on how regulating equal access to the Internet is a sneaky political move, given that proponents of net neutrality are just asking for our currently free and open Internet to remain free and open. That means that Breitbart should load as easily and readily as Greenpeace.
With arguments against net neutrality so easily deconstructed, why are we even arguing over it

Native Americans Arrested Following Keystone XL Pipeline Vote

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US Capitol Police officers dragged out five protesters, including Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe as he bellowed a tribal song. 
Anyone following the Keystone XL pipeline vote in the Senate yesterday heard what appeared to be chanting or singing in the background when the final tally of 41-59 was announced, signaling that approval of the pipeline had failed to clear the bar of 60 votes and that congressional approval of the pipeline was delayed for the time being.
That sound was coming from Native Americans in the gallery, singing a traditional tribal tune. Five of them were removed from the gallery and arrested.
According to Red Power Media, one of the protesters was Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux tribe.
“Grey Cloud, who wore a headdress, continued singing as he was knocked to the floor and pulled to the wall of the hallway,” said Red Power Media. “Protesters were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while standing shoulder to shoulder, facing the wall. They were then paraded down a corridor and one of the protesters began singing again. The group was arrested for ‘disrupting Congress.'”
The Rosebud Sioux tribe had already declared the House approval of the pipeline last Friday an “act of war” and said that it would close its tribal borders to pipeline construction.
“The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren,” Rosebud Sioux president Cyril L. Scott told the Lakota Voice. “The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will not allow this pipeline through our lands. We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental co-operation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.”
The tribe is concerned about the potential for the pipeline to pollute their land which sits on top of the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest aquifers and a major source of agricultural and drinking water for Great Plains. They assert that a pipeline break and spill polluting the aquifer is virtually inevitable.
“The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land,” said Scott. “We feel it is imperative that we provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to Tribal members but to non-Tribal members as well. We need to stop focusing and investing in risky fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. We need to start remembering that the Earth is our mother and stop polluting her and start taking steps to preserve the land, water and our grandchildren’s future.”
The proposed pipeline route crosses Great Sioux Nation Treaty lands and within the current boundaries of the Rosebud and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations, both in South Dakota.

Cashing in on the ISIL 'Crisis'

by Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
The Military Fat-Cat Complex (Image: Khalil Bendib/Other Worlds)
The Military Fat-Cat Complex 
Maybe you think the US air war on the Islamic State is a fine plan. Maybe you don’t. Either way, have you considered how little Washington’s latest military foray in the Middle East has to do with America’s welfare?
In case you haven’t heard, shock and awe are out in what’s increasingly being called either Iraq War 3.0 or — more ominously — Iraq War III. “Persistent and sustainable” are in, according to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Why can’t our leaders leave bad enough alone and get out of there? One possible explanation is that this apparently eternal battle has more to do with profits than protection.
No matter how pointless these wars prove, America’s military-industrial complex makes a killing.
There’s always a profit to be skimmed by the makers of cruise missiles and builders of submarines. They stay in the black even when humanity suffers.
But wait. Doesn’t the United States lose when these wars inevitably shore up anti-American hatred?
Worrying about that kind of thing isn’t really a job for military contractors. Just like the oil, gas, and coal industries, their goal is to grab what they can while the grabbing is good.
America’s hired guns and military contractors took a big hit after the last Iraq War wound down. But thanks to the eruption of “the ISIS crisis,” the dogs of war in Congress are howling again.
At the moment, they’re yelping at President Barack Obama and telling him to stop ruling out more “boots on the ground.” Obama has already called for doubling current troop levels in Iraq and asked Congress for permission to spend $5.6 billion more than anticipated on the conflict.
Perhaps the most galling military development so far is the Pentagon’s mobilization of depleted uranium weapons. These weapons are already suspected of causing widespread birth defects in Iraq from prior military campaigns, and there is a debate underway right now in the United Nations to ban them.
Whistleblower Peter Van Buren recently asked a good question about all of this: “What could go possibly go right?”

The Truth Hurts

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The First Presidential Assassination Attempt

As any student of U.S. or presidential history knows, there have been four assassinations of U.S. presidents. Two were very famous, two not as well-known.
The first assassination of a president is both well-known and well-documented. On April 14, 1865, actor and southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot our 16th president Abraham Lincoln at Ford's theater. Lincoln died from his wounds the next day.
Less well-known was the next assassination of a Commander-in-Chief. On July 2, 1881, 20th U.S. President James Garfield was assassinated by a ne'er-do-well named Charles J. Guiteau.
Garfield survived his gunshot wounds for 79 days. He finally succumbed on September 19, 1881. This was by far the longest time a president survived his assassination wounds before death.
The next assassination of a president was also slightly less or not as well-known. Our 25th president, William McKinley, was shot in the pancreas by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901. McKinley died from gangrene caused by the bullet wounds a week later, on September 14, 1901.
On November 22, 1963, 35th president John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald. J.F.K. died shortly thereafter. This was to be the only assassination of a president captured on film, albeit a home movie.The Kennedy assassination has created the most controversy, at least in the sense of questioning “Who really did it?" Where the first three were clear-cut and the perpetrator was unquestioned, Kennedy's assassination still carries a bit of a mystery aura, lo, this half-a-century later.
Although Lincoln's assassination was the first, it was not the first presidential assassination attempt.
On January 30, 1835, Andrew Jackson, our 7th president, was attending a funeral for Congressman Warren R. Davis. This was just outside the U.S. capitol.
As he filed past the casket, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed house painter, drew a pistol and fired point blank at the president. The bullet failed to discharge from the gun barrel.

Jackson charged his would-be killer with complete abandon. Lifting his cane above his head, the 67-year-old Jackson lunged at his assailant. Before he could reach him, Lawrence drew a second pistol and fired again. Incredibly, this pistol also failed to fire.
After the second attempt, Jackson reportedly went about his business as if nothing had happened. (Some historians believe Jackson violently attacked his would-be assassin with his cane.)
Vice-president Martin Van Buren looked on as both attempts took place. He was completely breathless and stunned. He looked on, along with most of the crowd, frozen and horrified.
Davy Crockett was among the men present who grabbed and restrained Lawrence.
Lawrence spent the rest of his life in Washington's government hospital for the insane. Many believe the humidity that day caused Lawrence's two pistols to misfire. Because of public curiosity, the two pistols were tested under similar circumstances. During these tests, both pistols worked and fired fine.
This caused much of the American public to believe in President Jackson's divine providence, as well as the providence of the United States of America.

23 Maps And Charts On Language

'The limits of my language,' the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once posited, 'mean the limits of my world.' Explaining everything within the limits of the world is probably too ambitious a goal. But here are 23 maps and charts that can hopefully illuminate small aspects of how we manage to communicate with one another.

Ten Catastophic Edibles

If an asteroid strikes or a nuclear winter ensues, survivors could live on at least 10 foods that in some cases may seem gross but are all nutritious.

10 dangers of the medieval period

It was one of the most exciting, turbulent and transformative eras in history, but the Middle Ages were also fraught with danger. Here historian Dr Katharine Olson reveals 10 of the biggest risks people faced…
1) Plague 
Dying man dictating his will, 1350. (Photo by Leemage/UIG) The plague was one of the biggest killers of the Middle Ages – it had a devastating effect on the population of Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. Also known as the Black Death, the plague (caused by the bacterium called Yersinia pestis) was carried by fleas most often found on rats. It had arrived in Europe by 1348, and thousands died in places ranging from Italy, France and Germany to Scandinavia, England, Wales, Spain and Russia.
The deadly bubonic plague caused oozing swellings (buboes) all over the body. With the septicaemic plague, victims suffered from skin that was darkly discolored (turning black) as a result of toxins in the bloodstream (one reason why the plague has subsequently been called the ‘Black Death’). The extremely contagious pneumonic plague could be contracted by merely sneezing or spitting, and caused victims’ lungs to fill up.
The Black Death killed between a third and half of the population of Europe. Contemporaries did not know, of course, what caused the plague or how to avoid catching it. They sought explanations for the crisis in God’s anger, human sin, and outsider/marginal groups, especially Jews. If you were infected with the bubonic plague, you had a 70–80 per cent chance of dying within the next week. In England, out of every hundred people, perhaps 35–40 could expect to die from the plague.
As a result of the plague, life expectancy in late 14th-century Florence was just under 20 years – half of what it had been in 1300. From the mid-14th-century onwards, thousands of people from all across Europe – from London and Paris to Ghent, Mainz and Siena – died. A large number of those were children, who were the most vulnerable to the disease.
2) Travel
People in the medieval period faced a host of potential dangers when traveling.
A safe, clean place to sleep upon demand was difficult to find. Travelers often had to sleep out in the open – when traveling during the winter, they ran the risk of freezing to death. And while traveling in groups provided some safety, one still might be robbed or killed by strangers – or even one’s fellow travelers.
Nor were food and drink provided unless the traveler had found an inn, monastery, or other lodging. Food poisoning was a risk even then, and if you ran out of food, you had to forage, steal, or go hungry.
Medieval travelers could also be caught up in local or regional disputes or warfare, and be injured or thrown into prison. Lack of knowledge of foreign tongues could also lead to problems of interpretation.
Illness and disease could also be dangerous, and even fatal. If one became unwell on the road, there was no guarantee that decent – or indeed any – medical treatment could be received.
Travelers might also fall victim to accident. For example, there was a risk of drowning when crossing rivers – even the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick I, drowned in 1190 when crossing the Saleph river during the Third Crusade. Accidents might also happen upon arrival: in Rome during the 1450 jubilee, disaster struck when some 200 people in the huge crowd crossing the great bridge of Sant’ Angelo tumbled over the edge and drowned.

While it was faster to travel by sea than land, stepping onto a boat presented substantial risks: a storm could spell disaster, or navigation could go awry, and the medieval wooden ships used were not always equal to the challenges of the sea. However, by the later Middle Ages, sea travel was becoming faster and safer than ever before.
An average traveler in the medieval period could expect to cover 15–25 miles a day on foot or 20–30 on a horse, while sailing ships might make 75–125 miles a day.
3) Famine
Famine was a very real danger for medieval men and women. Faced with dwindling food supplies due to bad weather and poor harvests, people starved or barely survived on meager rations like bark, berries and inferior corn and wheat damaged by mildew.
Those eating so little suffered malnutrition, and were therefore very vulnerable to disease. If they didn’t starve to death, they often died as a result of the epidemics that followed famine. Illnesses like tuberculosis, sweating sickness, smallpox, dysentery, typhoid, influenza, mumps and gastrointestinal infections could and did kill.
The Great Famine of the early 14th century was particularly bad: climate change led to much colder than average temperatures in Europe from c1300 – the ‘Little Ice Age’. In the seven years between 1315 and 1322, western Europe witnessed incredibly heavy rainfall, for up to 150 days at a time.
Farmers struggled to plant, grow and harvest crops. What meager crops did grow were often mildewed, and/or terribly expensive. The main food staple, bread, was in peril as a result. This also came at the same time as brutally cold winter weather.
At least 10 per cent – perhaps close to 15 per cent – of people in England died during this period.
4) Childbirth
Today, with the benefits of ultrasound scans, epidurals and fetal monitoring, the risk for mother and baby during pregnancy and childbirth is at an all-time low. However, during the medieval period, giving birth was incredibly perilous.
Breech presentations of the baby during labor often proved fatal for both mother and child. Labor could go on for several days, and some women eventually died of exhaustion. While Caesarean sections were known, they were unusual other than when the mother of the baby was already dead or dying, and they were not necessarily successful.
Midwives, rather than trained doctors, usually attended pregnant women. They helped the mother-to-be during labor and, if needed, were able to perform emergency baptisms on babies in danger of dying. Most had received no formal training, but relied on practical experience gleaned from years of delivering babies.
New mothers might survive the labour, but could die from various postnatal infections and complications. Equipment was very basic, and manual intervention was common. Status was no barrier to these problems – even Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, died soon after giving birth to the future Edward VI in 1537.

5) Infancy and childhood
Infancy was particularly dangerous during the Middle Ages – mortality was terribly high. Based on surviving written records alone, scholars have estimated that 20–30 per cent of children under seven died, but the actual figure is almost certainly higher.
Infants and children under seven were particularly vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition, diseases, and various infections. They might die due to smallpox, whooping cough, accidents, measles, tuberculosis, influenza, bowel or stomach infections, and much more. The majority of those struck down by the plague were also children. Nor, with chronic malnutrition, did the breast milk of medieval mothers carry the same immunity and other benefits of breast milk today.
Being born into a family of wealth or status did not guarantee a long life either. We know that in ducal families in England between 1330 and 1479, for example, one third of children died before the age of five.
6) Bad weather
The vast majority of the medieval population was rural rather than urban, and the weather was of the utmost importance for those who worked or otherwise depended on the land. But as well as jeopardizing livelihoods, bad weather could kill.
Consistently poor weather could lead to problems sowing and growing crops, and ultimately the failure of the harvest. If summers were wet and cold, the grain crop could be destroyed. This was a major problem, as cereal grains were the main food source for most of the population.
With less of this on hand, various problems would occur, including grain shortages, people eating inferior grain, and inflation, which resulted in hunger, starvation, disease, and higher death rates.
This was especially the case from the 14th through to the 16th centuries, when the ice pack grew. By 1550, there had been an expansion of glaciers worldwide. This meant people faced the devastating effects of weather that was both colder and wetter.
Medieval men and women were therefore eager to ensure that weather conditions stayed favorable. In Europe, there were rituals for plowing, sowing seeds, and the harvesting of crops, as well as special prayers, charms, services, and processions to ensure good weather and the fertility of the fields. Certain saints were thought to protect against the frost (St Servais), have power over the wind (St Clement) or the rain and droughts (St Elias/Elijah) and generally the power of the saints and the Virgin Mary were believed to protect against storms and lightning.
People also believed the weather was not merely a natural occurrence. Bad weather could be caused by the behavior of wicked people, like murder, sin, incest, or family quarrels. It could also be linked to witches and sorcerers, who were thought to control the weather and destroy crops. They could, according to one infamous treatise on witches – the Malleus Maleficarum, published in 1486 – fly in the air and conjure storms (including hailstorms and tempests), raise winds and cause lightning that could kill people and animals.
7) Violence
Whether as witnesses, victims or perpetrators, people from the highest ranks of society to the lowest experienced violence as an omnipresent danger in daily life.
Medieval violence took many forms. Street violence and brawls in taverns were not uncommon. Vassals might also revolt against their lords. Likewise, urban unrest also led to uprisings – for example, the lengthy rebellion of peasants in Flanders of 1323–28, or the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 in England.
Medieval records demonstrate the presence of other types of violence also: rape, assault and murder were not uncommon, nor was accidental homicide. One example is the case of Maud Fras, who was hit on the head and killed by a large stone accidentally dropped on her head at Montgomery Castle in Wales in 1288.
Blood feuds between families that extended over generations were very much evident. So was what we know today as domestic violence. Local or regional disputes over land, money or other issues could also lead to bloodshed, as could the exercise of justice. Innocence or guilt in trials were at times decided by combat ordeals (duels to the death). In medieval Wales, political or dynastic rivals might be blinded, killed or castrated by Welsh noblemen to consolidate their positions.
Killing and other acts of violence in warfare were also omnipresent, from smaller regional wars to larger-scale crusades from the end of the 11th century, fought by many countries at once. Death tolls in battle could be high: the deadliest clash of the Wars of the Roses, the battle of Towton (1461), claimed between 9,000 and 30,000 lives, according to contemporary reports.
8) Heresy
It could also be dangerous to disagree. People who held theological or religious opinions that were believed to go against the teachings of the christian cult were seen as heretics in medieval christian Europe. These groups included jews, muslims and medieval christians whose beliefs were considered to be unorthodox, like the Cathars.
Kings, missionaries, crusaders, merchants and others – especially from the late 11th century – sought to ensure the victory of christendom in the Mediterranean world. The First Crusade (1096–99) aimed to capture Jerusalem – and finally did so in 1099. Yet the city was soon lost, and further crusades had to be launched in a bid to regain it.
The jews and muslims also suffered persecution, expulsion and death in christian Europe. In England, anti-Semitism resulted in massacres of Jews in York and London in the late 12th century, and Edward I banished all Jews from England in 1290 – they were only permitted to return in the mid-1600s.
From the eighth century, efforts were also made to retake Iberia from Muslim rule, but it was not until 1492 that the entire peninsula was recaptured. This was part of an attempt in Spain to establish a united, single christian delusion and suppress heresy, which involved setting up the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. As a result, the jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, and muslims were only allowed to stay if they converted to christianity.
Holy wars were also waged on christians who were widely considered to be heretics. The Albigensian Crusade was directed at the Cathars (based chiefly in southern France) from 1209–29 – and massacres and more inquisitions and executions followed in the later 13th and 14th centuries.

9) Hunting
Hunting was an important pastime for medieval royalty and the aristocracy, and skill in the sport was greatly admired. The emperor Charlemagne was recorded as greatly enjoying hunting in the early ninth century, and in England William the Conqueror sought to establish royal forests where he could indulge in his love of the hunt. But hunting was not without risks.
Hunters could easily be injured or killed by accidents. They might fall from their horse, be pierced by an arrow, be mauled by the horns of stags or tusks of boars, or attacked by bears.
Status certainly did not guarantee safety. Many examples exist of kings and nobles who met tragic ends as a result of hunting. The Byzantine emperor Basil I died in 886 after apparently having his belt impaled on the horns of a stag and being dragged more than 15 miles before being freed.
In 1100, King William II (William Rufus) was famously killed by an arrow in a supposed hunting accident in the New Forest. Likewise, in 1143, King Fulk of Jerusalem died in a hunting accident at Acre, when his horse stumbled and his head was crushed by his saddle.
10) Early or sudden death
Sudden or premature death was common in the medieval period. Most people died young, but death rates could vary based on factors like status, wealth, location (higher death rates are seen in urban settlements), and possibly gender. Adults died from various causes, including plague, tuberculosis, malnutrition, famine, warfare, sweating sickness and infections.
Wealth did not guarantee a long life. Surprisingly, well-fed monks did not necessarily live as long as some peasants. Peasants in the English manor of Halesowen might hope to reach the age of 50, but by contrast poor tenants in same manor could hope to live only about 40 years. Those of even lower status (cottagers) could live a mere 30 years.
By the second half of the 14th century, peasants there were living five to seven years longer than in the previous 50 years. However, the average life expectancy for ducal families in England between 1330 and 1479 generally was only 24 years for men and 33 for women. In Florence, laypeople in the late 1420s could expect to live only 28.5 years (men) and 29.5 years (women).
Dying a ‘good’ death was very important to medieval people, and was the subject of many books. People often worried about ‘sudden death’ (whether in battle, from natural causes, by execution, or an accident) and what would happen to those who died without time to prepare and receive the last rites. Written charms, for example, were thought to provide protection against sudden death – whether against death in battle, poison, lightning, fire, water, fever or other dangers.

New Research Suggests Neanderthals a Separate Species


A new study of the Neanderthal nasal complex suggests that Neanderthals were a distinct species separate from modern humans. Rather than comparing Neanderthal noses to those of modern Europeans and the Inuit, whose nasal complexes are adapted to cold and temperate climates, the scientists, led by Samuel Márquez of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, examined the nasal regions of diverse modern human population groups with 3-D coordinate data and CT imaging. They found that the Neanderthal upper respiratory tracts had a mosaic of features not found among any population of modern humans as a result of a separate evolutionary history. “The strength of this new research lies in its taking the totality of the Neanderthal nasal complex into account, rather than looking at a single feature. By looking at the complete morphological pattern, we can conclude that Neanderthals are our close relatives, but they are not us,” team member Jeffrey T. Laitman of the Icahn School of Medicine and the Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology told Science Daily. To read more about Neanderthal genetics, see "Should We Clone Neanderthals?"

Ancient Rock Art Discovered Near Sydney


A rock art site thought to be tens of thousands of years old has been discovered in Sydney’s north shore area. Images of the ancient artwork have been computer-enhanced to make the natural pigments more visible, and to differentiate them from recently painted images. The hand stencils had been hidden behind vegetation and were found when employees of Sydney Water started looking around after finding a traditional fishing hook. “It was found on the top of the midden site, and quite exposed. We wandered down here and found this. We’d really gone to see the water pool,” Yvonne Kaiserglass, a heritage officer at Sydney Water, told ABC News. The site would have offered shelter, and is near a waterhole that could have provided eels and fish for food. Drawings depict eels, a spearhead, and a crescent-shaped moon. “These are hand stencils, and judging from the size of these, they would have been women and children. So you could imagine they’d be here, resting,” said Col. Davison from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. To see more Australian prehistoric art, see "The Rock Art of Malarrak."

Piccola Pompei

Remains of an ancient settlement have been found on the bottom of the Aegean sea off the small island of Delos.
Remains of an ancient settlement were found just underwater off the shore of the Greek island, Delos.

Minas de oro en España

Laser from a plane discovers Roman goldmines in SpainLaser from a plane discovers goldmines in Spain

Las Médulas in León is considered to be the largest opencast goldmine of the Roman Empire, but the search for this metal extended many kilometres further south-east to the Erica […]

Random Photos

c-headsmag:

McKenna by Jeffrey Chan for C-Heads
Makeup/Hair by Linda Michelle Bartunek

Well, There Goes The Neighborhood

In the town of Solikamsk, Russia, there’s a large hole swallowing a neighborhood. The main industry in the area is salt mining, and an influx of water has caused a “failure of the soil,” or in other words, a great big hole in the ground. The soil began shifting in 2005, and authorities responded by evacuating the area, cutting electricity to encourage everyone to leave; so no one lives in these houses. On Tuesday, the mines were evacuated due to shifting earth, and the hole opened up on Tuesday evening. Russian authorities are studying the scene and performing air quality tests to determine whether noxious gasses are being released.

10 Of The Most Remote Places On Earth Where People Actually Live

In a time that many of us take internet access, a mobile phone signal and cable TV for granted, it's easy to forget that there's still a number of remote corners in the world where people still have limited comforts like electricity. For some, the problems of daily life are still more closely related to survival than to comforts.

It's Chilly, But The Cold Is Gone

2014 is even more likely to become the warmest year on record, with record cold years a thing of the past.

100 Objects That Have Been Sent Into Space

Space is already full of cultural artifacts and bric-a-brac from space missions over the past six decades. Lego, pizza, a lightsaber, Buzz Lightyear, a Chuck Berry record and the remains of Star Trek's Gene Rodenberry are among this list of 100 objects waiting for aliens to find in space.

Magnetic Mystory Solved

A strange flow of charged hydrogen atoms around an exoplanet turns out to be stellar winds from its parent star.

The Paleontologist’s Wandering Skull

You know about the paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. He was famous for his feud with fellow paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. Cope revealed how Marsh assembled a nonexistent dinosaur called Brontosaurus by mistakenly combining fossil bones of different species. Then Marsh revealed how Cope had erred by constructing an Elasmosaurus with its head on the wrong end. Although both were prolific scientists, they are most remembered by the general public for their highly publicized mistakes. But the story of Edward Drinker Cope continued long after he died in 1897. He donated his body to science, specifying that his skeleton be preserved, but not exhibited.
Originally kept by the American Anthropometric Society, a group with a fondness for measuring the brains of famous men, Cope’s skull was passed in 1966 to the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Anthropology, and that’s when things got a little weird.
A distinguished anthropology professor by the name of Loren Eiseley saw Cope’s name on a box and left a note that said, “Gone to lunch—Edward Drinker Cope.” Eiseley took the bones back to his office and laid them out on a conference table to make sure everything was intact before placing them back into the box. Over the years, the paleontologist's remains became a fixture in Eiseley’s office, and the anthropologist toasted “Eddie” with sherry and even bought him a birthday present of a skeleton-bedecked printing block. The office staff also decorated Cope for Christmas.
That was just the beginning of Cope’s postmortem adventures. Read about his almost-burial, his road trips, and where he ended up, at mental_floss.

Peruvian 'Glow Worm'

The strange glow worms may use their phosphorescence to lure unsuspecting flies and ants into their waiting, open jaws.