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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking about you ...!
 
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Today in History

1258 Huegu, a Mongol leader, seizes Baghdad, bringing and end to the Abbasid caliphate.
1620 Supporters of Marie de Medici, the queen mother, who has been exiled to Blois, are defeated by the king's troops at Ponts de Ce, France.
1763 The Treaty of Paris ends the French-Indian War. France gives up all her territories in the New World except New Orleans and a few scattered islands.
1799 Napoleon Bonaparte leaves Cairo, Egypt, for Syria, at the head of 13,000 men.
1814 Napoleon personally directs lightning strikes against enemy columns advancing toward Paris, beginning with a victory over the Russians at Champaubert.
1840 Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert.
1846 Led by religious nutjob Brigham Young, the first Mormons begin a long westward exodus from Nauvoo, Il., to Utah.
1863 P.T. Barnum's star midgets, Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, are married.
1904 Russia and Japan declare war on each other.
1915 President Wilson blasts the British for using the U.S. flag on merchant ships to deceive the Germans.
1939 Japanese occupy island of Hainan in French Indochina.
1941 London severs diplomatic relations with Romania.
1941 Iceland is attacked by German planes.
1942 The war halts civilian car production at Ford.
1945 B-29s hit the Tokyo area.
1955 Bell Aircraft displays a fixed-wing vertical takeoff plane.
1960 Adolph Coors, the beer brewer, is kidnapped in Golden, Colo.
1966 Protester David Miller is convicted of burning his draft card.
1979 The Metropolitan Museum announces the first major theft in 110-year history, $150,000 Greek marble head.
1986 The largest Mafia trial in history, with 474 defendants, opens in Palermo, Italy.

Viking Leaders You Should Know

by Elizabeth Nix
The Viking Age, from the late-eigth century to the 11th century, produced pioneering explorers such as Erik the Red, who founded Greenland’s first Norse settlement, along with powerful kings such as Cnut the Great, who ruled a vast empire in northern Europe. Find out more about these and other fascinating Norsemen below.
1. Rollo: First ruler of Normandy
rollo
This Viking leader, whose origins were either Danish or Norwegian, began conducting raids on France in the ninth century. In 911, under the Treaty of St. Claire-sur-Epte, Charles the Simple, king of the West Franks, gave Rollo part of the area now called Normandy (for Northman’s land) in an effort to have him protect it from other Viking raiders. Rollo later expanded his control of the region, and around the time he died, in about 928, was succeeded by his son, William Longsword. In 1066, another one of Rollo’s descendants, William, duke of Normandy, led a successful invasion of England. William the Conqueror, as he became known, went on to serve as king of England until 1087. More than a thousand years after Rollo’s death, Allied troops during World War II landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control.
2. Erik the Red: Founded Greenland’s First Norse Settlement
erik the redBorn Erik Thorvaldsson in Norway, Erik the Red earned his nickname for his red hair and possibly his hot temper. After Erik’s father was banished from Norway for killing someone, he fled with his family to Iceland. There, Erik himself was accused of manslaughter, leading to his exile from Iceland around 982. After leaving home, he sailed west to a vast, uncharted island he eventually dubbed Greenland in an effort to entice future settlers. Several years later, Erik returned to Iceland and organized a fleet of 25 ships that carried colonists back to Greenland (only 14 vessels survived the journey), where they founded two main settlements in 986. At its peak, the Greenland colony had an estimated 5,000 residents. Following Erik’s death Greenland’s Norse communities continued on before being abandoned in the 14th and 15th century. Exactly why the Norse Greenlanders disappeared is a mystery, although a combination of factors might’ve played a role, including a cooling climate and declining trade opportunities.
3. Olaf Tryggvason: Brought christianity to Norway
olaf
A grandson of Harald Fairhair, the first king to unite Norway, Olaf was born around 968 and is thought to have been raised in Russia following the death of his father. In 991, Olaf led a Viking invasion of England, which resulted in a victory at the Battle of Maldon. Afterward, the English paid off the Vikings in an effort to prevent future attacks, at least temporarily. This type of payment became known as Danegeld. In 994, Olaf and his ally Svein Forkbeard, king of Denmark, launched another raid on England and netted themselves more Danegeld. The following year, Olaf used his loot to invade Norway and was made king after its ruler, Hakon the Great, was murdered. As king, Olaf forced his subjects to convert to christianity; before that, most Scandinavians were pagans who worshiped a number of gods. Olaf’s actions earned him enemies, among them his onetime ally Svein Forkbeard, who wanted to restore Danish rule in Norway, and Erik of Hladir, son of Hakon. In 1000, Olaf was ambushed by his rivals in a battle at sea; however, instead of surrendering, he supposedly jumped over the side of his ship, never to be seen again.
4. Leif Eriksson: Beat Columbus to the New World by 500 years
leif erikssonGenerally considered the first European to set foot on the North American continent, Leif got there nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Believed to have been born in Iceland around 970, Leif later moved to Greenland, where his father, Erik the Red, founded the first Norse settlement. Around 1000, Leif sailed off in search of territory that had been spotted years earlier by an Icelander named Bjarni Herjolfsson when his vessel blew off course on the way to Greenland. During his expedition, Leif reached an area he called Helluland (“flat stone land”), which historians think could be Baffin Island, before traveling south to a place he dubbed Markland (“forestland”), thought to be Labrador. The Vikings then set up camp at a location that possibly was Newfoundland and explored the surrounding region, which Leif named Vinland (“wineland”) because grapes or berries supposedly were discovered there. After Leif returned to Greenland with valuable timber cargo, other Norsemen decided to journey to Vinland (Leif never went back). However, the Viking presence in North America was short-lived, possibly due in part to clashes with hostile natives. The only authenticated Norse settlement in North America was discovered in the early 1960s on the northern tip of Newfoundland at a site called L’Anse aux Meadows; artifacts found there date to around 1000.
5. Cnut the Great: England’s Viking King
cnut
The son of Denmark’s King Svein Forkbeard, Cnut (or Canute) helped his father conquer England in 1013. However, when Svein died the next year, the exiled Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelred the Unready, returned to power. Aethelred passed away in 1016 and was succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside. Later that year, after Cnut defeated him at the Battle of Ashingdon, Edmund signed a treaty that gave Cnut power over part of England. Just a few weeks later, though, Edmund died and all of England came under Cnut’s rule; his reign there brought stability after years of raids and battles. Denmark, Norway and possibly portions of Sweden also eventually came under Cnut’s control, forming a vast empire. When he died in 1035, his son Harold Harefoot became king of England, serving until his death in 1040. Harthacnut, Cnut’s other son (from his marriage to Aethelred’s widow) then ascended to the throne, but his death in 1042 marked the end of Danish rule in England.
6. Harald Hardrada: The Last Great Viking Leader
The death of Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Born Harald Sigurdsson in Norway in 1015, he fought as a teen at the Battle of Stiklestad, waged in 1030 by his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson, the exiled king of Norway, in an attempt to return to power. Instead, Olaf’s forces were defeated, he was killed and Harald went into exile, eventually doing a stint as a mercenary for Jaroslav the Wise, grand prince of Kiev. Harald then traveled to Constantinople and joined the Byzantine emperor’s prestigious Varangian Guard. After becoming a wealthy, accomplished military commander, he returned to Scandinavia by the mid-1040s. There, he formed an alliance with Svein Estrithson, a claimant to the Danish throne, in an effort to combat King Magnus the Good, who ruled Norway and Denmark. However, Harald ditched the partnership with Svein in 1046 when Magnus decided to make him a co-ruler of Norway. After Magnus died the next year, Harald gained full control of the Norwegian throne while Svein became king of Denmark. Harald went on to fight Svein for years, but despite winning the majority of the battles Harald (whose nickname Hardrada translates as hard ruler) opted to make peace with his adversary in 1064 and give up his claims to Denmark. Harald then shifted his focus to England, invading it two years later with a large force and scoring a victory at the Battle of Fulford Gate. However, just days later, England’s new king, Harold Godwinson, wiped out Harald’s army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, during which Harald—later referred to as the last of the great Viking warrior kings–was killed. Less than a month after that, Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings, during which Harold Godwinson was killed.

Pagan Temple

Ten years in the making, the temple is currently under construction near Reykjavík.

Ziggy

http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/zsqMPfNGVMa1CS3SALz0JA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTQyMjtpbD1wbGFuZTtweW9mZj0wO3E9NzU7dz02MDA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ucomics.com/zi150208.jpg

Joe Biden Tells Netanyahu To Go Eff Himself, Will Travel Instead Of Attending Speech To Congress

by Stephen D Foster Jr  
Vice President Joe Biden has officially responded to an invitation to attend Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, and it’s a giant middle finger.
A day after President Obama delivered the State of the Union Address, Boehner invited the Israeli Prime Minister to the United States to speak to a joint session of Congress. You know, because repugicans can’t make up their minds about whether they want to follow Netanyahu or Vladamir Putin as their true leader.
Anyway, Boehner and his repugican co-conspirators made the invitation in violation of established protocol. They failed to consult or seek permission from the White House to bring a foreign leader to American soil to speak to Congress. The sole purpose of the repugican cabal invitation is their effort to sabotage nuclear negotiations between the US and Iran. The diplomatic talks are close to securing an agreement that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, thus easing tensions in the region, especially between Israel and Iran.
Of course, outrage ensued and even Faux News expressed shock that repugicans would go this far to undermine President Obama.
How far did they go? So far that repugicans broke a law first passed by our very own Founding Fathers in 1799 known as the Logan Act, which made it illegal for any unauthorized American citizen to negotiate with foreign leaders. Only the executive branch has that power.
Since Boehner’s announcement that Netanyahu would speak to Congress, many Democrats have vowed to skip the speech. And traditionally, the vice-president would be there as president of the Senate. But Joe Biden has decided that he would rather be in another country entirely instead of being present for Netanyahu’s toxic speech, which has already damaged relations between Israel and the United States. An official representing Biden told the Jerusalem Press that Biden will be too busy traveling to attend.
“We are not ready to announce details of his trip yet, and normally our office wouldn’t announce this early, but the planning process has been underway for a while. We will announce additional information as soon as we are able.”
In other words, Joe Biden just told Netanyahu to go fuck himself. And rightfully so. By accepting Boehner’s invitation, repugicans and Netanyahu have insulted and are disrespecting President Obama and the White House. Consequences must follow and this should merely be the opening salvo. Next up, taking away the $3 billion of defense spending American taxpayers provide to Israel every year. This would send the loudest message of all. You disrespect our president, you disrespect the American people. And if you can’t respect us, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our “friendship.” It’s that simple.

A reminder to repugicans of Just How Bad Things Were Under the shrub

by Allen Clifton
The human mind fascinates me with the way it recalls past events in our lives. Especially when it comes to politics. People who complain now about how “terrible” President Obama has been, or that he’s the “worst president in history,” clearly have a distorted memory of the Bush presidency.
Has Obama been perfect? Not at all. Part of that is his fault, part of that is the unrealistic expectations many of us had for him when he was elected in 2008. But most of it is the fact that upon his election in 2008, the repugican cabal crafted their strategy of opposing anything he supports.
A plan that was solidified when liberals allowed wingnut voters to steal repugicans control over the House of Representatives in 2010. That was precisely the weapon they needed to block anything and practically everything.
But while wingnuts often like to claim that President Obama is the “worst president in history,” I thought I’d remind them, and everyone else, of just how bad things were under the shrub.
Was his theft of the election not a foreshadowing of how terrible things would be in the next 4 years? For the first time since 1888 we “elected” a president who lost the popular vote. Could you imagine the wingnut outrage if President Obama was elected president, yet lost the popular vote? That might have been the catalyst that finally triggered a second Civil War.
Then just a few months later we saw the worst terrorist attack in United States history.
We can’t forget about the Iraq War and all of the weapons of mass destruction that we didn’t find. It’s okay though, right? Only 4,487 Americans died fighting a war that was based on lies. The most since the Vietnam War.
There’s always Afghanistan. You know, the war we started to get Osama bin Ladin – only the shrub never got him. President Obama did though.
Then don’t forget about the scandals like Abu Ghraib, Hurricane Katrina, the outing of a CIA official, veterans neglected at the Walter Reed hospital, Medicare Part D and a host of other scandals that plagued the shrub junta’s eight years.
But I wanted to get up to 2008, just as the shrub was leaving office. That summer, just before the entire economy officially collapsed, oil had hit its all-time high of $147 per barrel (right now it fluctuates between $95-105 on average throughout the year). While gas prices aren’t cheap now, our country had never seen prices well over $4 per gallon like most of the country experienced that summer.
Then came September when the bottom officially started falling out. But it wasn’t just that month. We lost jobs every single month in 2008 (2.6 million in total). The worst annual loss of jobs since 1945.
In his last three months in office, we lost a combined 1.7 million jobs. In January 2009, his last month in office, we lost 598k jobs.
And let’s not forget he had just bailed out Wall Street, the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse, our deficits were out of control, our national debt was almost double what it was when he took office, the stock market was plummeting, millions of Americans were losing their homes and unemployment was skyrocketing out of control.
Then let’s also not forget that we were still engulfed in two wars.
Bush’s final approval rating was 22 percent.
That’s the world in which we lived when the shrub left office in January 2009.
Where are we at today? Well: Unemployment is down to 6.2%. We’ve seen the best year of job gains since 1999. Stocks have hit record highs. 53 straight months of private sector job growth. We’ve created 9.9 million jobs during that span. We haven’t started any wars. The rate of uninsured Americans fell to its lowest level since Gallup starting tracking the number in 2008. Down almost 5 percent in just the last year alone. Deficits have been cut in half.
Among many other things.
So, when wingnuts say that we’re much worse off now than when President Obama took office, they’re either blatantly altering history to suit their talking points – or they have absolutely no damn idea what it is that they’re talking about.

Wyoming’s repugican-Dominated Senate Kills Medicaid Expansion

via PBS
Last Friday, the repugican-misled Wyoming Senate voted 19-11 to reject Medicaid expansion, which would have extended health care coverage to over 17,000 low-income, uninsured residents. Lawmakers voted down the expansion, even though it had the support of wingnut repugican governor Matt Mead. Mead opposed Medicaid expansion during his first term, but he converted to becoming a supporter in November of 2014, arguing that the state could use the 120 million dollars in federal funds to offset the costs absorbed by hospitals for uncompensated care.
In response to the Senate rejecting the bill, Governor Mead expressed disappointment, stating:
I believe that Wyoming’s working poor need health care coverage. We must recognize what health care means to individuals and to our economy.
The state would have been eligible for 120 million dollars in federal money with no strings attached. However, because so many Wyoming repugicans campaigned on opposing Obamacare, they rejected the funds. For example, Leland Christensen (r-Alta) argued that the Affordable Care Act was not the answer to Wyoming’s health care crisis. He proclaimed:
This is no time to abandon the Wyoming way of doing things. We have options. I’m convinced we can find a better option for the people of Wyoming.
The repugican, however, did not specify what better options the state was considering. As with so many repugican opponents of the Affordable Care Act, Wyoming’s repugicans know what they are against, but they have yet to articulate what they are for. After the Senate bill had been defeated, a House companion bill was pulled from the Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, effectively killing Medicaid expansion in both chambers for the current legislative session.
Wyoming’s decision to kill Medicaid expansion comes just two days after Tennessee turned down expansion for their state. In both cases, repugican state lawmakers defied the wishes of their own repugican governor. Governor Gary Herbert of Utah (r), may face a similar revolt when he tries to get Medicaid expansion funding passed through his state’s repugican-misled legislature.
A number of repugican governors understand that Medicaid expansion is a sensible way to extend coverage to low-income residents of their states. However, the teabagger perverted legislatures in red states are not interested in cooperating with pragmatic repugican governors. Those asshats would sooner have people go uninsured than admit they are wrong about opposing Obamacare.

This repugican Stooge Tries To Take Healthcare From 13 Million Because He Wishes Obama Wasn’t Born

Next month, the Supreme Court of the United States will consider King v. Burwell, in which millions of people will be affected.…
People who stand to lose in King v Berwell
This past week, house repugicans voted for the 56th time to take healthcare away from 10 million Americans.  To be sure, that vote was mere theater to humor the repugican base because even if or when it gets through the McConnell senate, President Obama will veto the bill.
However, the repugicans aren’t limiting their war with the health and lives of millions of Americans to political theater.  Next month, the Supreme Court of the United States will consider King v. Burwell, in which millions of people will be affected. The Court will consider if the ACA originally intended to restrict subsidies to people in states that set up their own exchanges.  This is the third time the Supreme Court is considering a case in which the goal was to take healthcare away from millions of Americans.
When it comes to providing access to affordable healthcare, even with the Affordable Care Act, America lags behind other nations.  No doubt, the ACA is a vast improvement over corporate death panels, the blackballing of people with pre-existing conditions and the inherent sexism in which women were charged higher premiums simply because we are women.
Ultimately, the Affordable Care Act is the health care system that repugicans loved before it became the compromise that President Barack Obama accepted as an alternative to doing nothing.
Since then repugicans compared the ACA to slavery and the Holocaust, while offering nothing that addresses the fact that corporate death and sick care is not healthcare. The irony is for profit healthcare does the very things repugicans try to attribute to the ACA.
Should King prevail in the Supreme Court, people who live in states that didn’t set up their own exchanges will cease to be eligible for Federal subsidies.  In turn that will drive up insurance costs for people in states with exchanges, and therefore make healthcare security a thing of the past for them.
Healthcare insecurity means people put off going to the doctor until whatever ails them becomes unbearable, potentially deadly and without question more expensive to treat.  It means a return to the days of the clinic of last resort – the emergency room where healthcare is also the most expensive.)
The plaintiff in this case, is 64 year old David M. King, who, with an income of $39,000, cannot afford the market based healthcare his cabal believes in. In her profile of King, Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico said:
 A review of King’s public social media accounts show he is a proud grandfather who loves his family, enjoys cooking and sharing photos from conservative blogs. One image shows a photo from the movie “Back to the Future” with instructions to the time traveler: “Marty, there is no time to lose. You must go back in time and give Obama’s dad a condom.
Obviously, King has little to gain accept “freedom” from access to healthcare.  However, King personifies the very thing that is wrong with that system. Not only is he financially precluded from buying “market based” healthcare, it is highly probable that the rest of us will end up picking up the tab for his healthcare expenses.
He argues that this is about his freedom of choice and getting away from the “tyranny” of government subsidies that would make healthcare accessible to him and would entail that he pay something based on his ability to pay.  He’s wrong.
This is about what his suit does to the 13 million Americans who want healthcare security but were denied the freedom to make that choice under the old system, be it because they couldn’t afford it or because they had pre-existing conditions.
Not that King’s motive will or should matter to the Supreme Court.  However, even if one wants to be charitable to his contention that the ACA only allows federal subsidies to people in state based exchanges, it doesn’t work.
The text that King relies on to make his case is 26 U.S.C. § 36B(c)(2)(A)(i) which says:
 the monthly premiums for such month for 1 or more qualified health plans offered in the individual market within a State which cover the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or any dependent (as defined in section152) of the taxpayer and which were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under 1311  [1] of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,
The IRS interpreted that to mean that people who get healthcare through state exchanges or the federal exchange and are eligible for subsidies can get them.  King (and his friends) hinge their argument on a “plain reading” of the law.  Even then, King’s argument doesn’t work.
For one thing, King (and his supporters) claim that a letter by Democrats proves King’s claim regarding the original intent of the ACA.  However, even the most literal interpretation of that letter suggests that King (and his backers) are grasping at straws.
You can read the letter in its entirety and judge for yourself at the link above if you wish.  In my reading, the letter, actually suggests an intent to assure that people living in obstructionist states can still benefit from what is, in reality, a national program – including eligibility for subsidies.
It begins with recognizing that some states will refuse to set up state exchanges and goes on to the ways that can be addressed.  Eventually it gets to the point of discussing a federal exchange and that exchange’s ability to administer “federal affordability credits.”
Reforming our nation’s health care system is a national effort that requires a national solution, not a piecemeal approach.  A single, national health insurance exchange will not only administer federal affordability credits and receive federal start-up funds, but will also be charged with enforcing federal laws and regulations.  As the Commonwealth Fund recently reported, a single, national health insurance exchange would ensure uniform, national availability of health insurance plans, better serve consumers, and have the resources to appropriately regulate insurers.
Think Progress asked the letter’s author, Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Tx) via email what he and his cosigners meant in the letter.  Here is what he is reported to have said:
Doggett replied that he and his ten colleagues “neither specifically mention nor contemplate the far-fetched argument now advanced by reform opponents that premium tax credits would only be available for state-based exchanges.”
As important, elsewhere in the law The Department of Health and Human Services is ordered to set up an exchange in states that fail to set up their own.  So, in reality, the Federal exchange acts as a proxy to fulfill the same intentions of the law as occurs in states that set up their own exchange.  In that sense, there was an inferred intent, explicitly confirmed by the letter, that people would have the same benefit of the law, regardless of whether they signed up for Obamacare via a State exchange or the Federal Exchange.
King’s argument is both far fetched and desperate.  The question is whether the Supreme Court will rule based on the stated intentions of lawmakers or someone whose lawsuit could take healthcare away from 13 million Americans because the plaintiff in that suit wishes Obama was never born.

Ukraine's currency is collapsing

As reported in the Washington Post:
Ukraine, to use a technical term, is broke. That's what you call a country whose currency has lost half its value in just two days.

The problem is simple: Ukraine has no money and barely any economy... The hyrvnia fell from 16.8 to 24.4 per dollar, and then again to 25.3 on Friday, on this news that the government wouldn't intervene it in anymore. In all, it was a 50 percent decline in 48 hours...

Why is Ukraine so doomed? Well, it's been mismanaged on a world-historical scale by oligarchs who, for decades, have skimmed billions off the country's nonexistent growth. That last part's not hyperbole. It seems almost impossible, but Ukraine's economy has actually shrunk since communism ended in 1991. Or since 1992. Or even 1993. And now its not-so-cold war with Russia is destroying the little that's left. It's not just that the rebel strongholds in the factory-heavy east have deprived Ukraine of a quarter of its industrial capacity. It's that it can't afford to fight against what's still it's biggest trading partner—Russia. Think about that. You don't usually trade a lot with the country you're going to battle against, but Ukraine's economy is so dependent on Russia's that it still trades more with it than any other. That means anything that hurts Russia, like lower oil prices or sanctions, just redounds onto Ukraine, and puts it in an even bigger financial hole.
Carolina Naturally gets from readers in Ukraine daily.  We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment thread for this post.

Angered Archaeologists Allow Thousands to Enter the Louvre for Free

by Benjamin Sutton

The lobby of the Louvre (photo by daryl_mitchell/Flickr)On Thursday about 100 peeved archaeologists took over the lobby of the Louvre in Paris, blocking the ticket booths for nearly five hours and allowing visitors to enter the museum without paying admission.
The protesters were members of CGT-Sud-FSU-CNT, a coalition of unions representing cultural workers. They were all preventative archaeologists, who are brought in to investigate construction sites to ensure that any remaining artifacts are safely unearthed and cared for, and that no vestiges are destroyed.
Though they are public sector workers, since the passage of a law in 2003 they have been forced to compete for job sites with private enterprises, a situation they say has greatly affected the quality of the archaeological work being done. Though initial diagnostics at construction sites must still be done by workers from the National Institute for Preventative Archaeological Research, the actual digs can now be carried out by private companies.
“Their arrival has created an imbalance in research,” Thomas Bouquin, a member of the union, told France TV Info. “They don’t share their findings and have no obligation to serve the public.”
The protesters are demanding that preventative archaeology no longer be subject to the 2003 law. They chose the sunken Louvre lobby beneath I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid and the Cour Napoléon because it was the site of a major preventative archaeology project when the museum expanded in the 1980s.
A statement posted on the website of the SGPA-CGT-Culture explained:
A sign on a Louvre ticket booth put up by protesting archaeologists (photo courtesy CGT-Sud-FSU-CNT, via cgt-culture.fr)
This February 5, more than 100 archaeologists of the preventative archaeological public service occupied the Louvre museum and conducted a free admission operation for nearly five hours. The archaeologists chose this site because it is emblematic in the history of French preventative archaeology (the excavation of the Cour Napoléon, the Cour Carrée, and the Jardins du Carrousel from 1983 to 1990 that forged the development of this profession) to denounce the catastrophic situation into which their discipline has been plunged.
According to France TV Info, the museum’s initial response to the protest was to block the entrances, but it eventually decided to allow visitors to enter for free. Ordinarily, admission to the Louvre costs €12 (~$13.60) for the permanent collection and €16 (~$18.10) for all temporary and permanent exhibitions. The institution offers free admission to its permanent collection on the first Sunday of every month between October and March

Why working poor think they are ‘middle class’

Poor-book-cover460Why working poor think they are ‘middle class’


The College of Human Ecology’s Laura Tach and her co-authors must have trustworthy faces. Working-poor recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in Boston divulged things they’d never tell […]

Approval Of President Obama’s Handling Of Unemployment Jumps To 51% in New Poll

Approval of President Obama’s handling of unemployment has jumped since December to 51%, as nearly half of those surveyed in the AP/GfK poll now feel that the economy is in good shape.
According to the AP:
Obama-Smile-full-side-featA slim majority now approves of the way Obama is handling unemployment, according to the poll, conducted before Friday’s release of a surprisingly strong jobs report.
Forty-seven percent of those surveyed approve of how Obama is doing his job, compared with 41 percent in December, and 51 percent approve of his handling of unemployment, compared with 44 percent before.
Nearly half say the economy is good now, while 41 percent thought that in December. In December 2013, only one-third called the economy good.
Approval of the way Obama is handling the economy improved slightly, 41 percent to 45 percent, over the past two months.
The AP poll has traditionally been not as favorable to the president, so the fact that the poll is showing Obama in positive territory is confirmation that his improving numbers are not a mirage based on a few polls, but that the Obama presidency is trending upwards.
The driver behind the continued improvement in President Obama’s numbers is the economy. The good news for Democrats is that the positive economic reports are translating into economic developments that the American people find encouraging. The economy has gone from a paper recovery to a recovery that people are feeling in their personal pocketbooks. The president’s aggressive actions on his agenda have revived the members of his party, and their more positive feelings are also reflected in the polling.
The AP is loaded with good news for Democrats and terrible news for Republicans. The president is gaining in popularity. The American people are giving the president credit for handling the unemployment and economic issues while they are also feeling better about the state of the economy.
The repugicans had always planned to hold down economic growth to make President Obama look like a failure. Their plan has flopped as the economy has overcome their attempts to drag it down, and as the nation heads into 2016, the Democratic Party is poised to ride a potential wave of good economic news.

Ted Cruz Flails and Fails While Blaming Obama and Clinton For Income Inequality

During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Koch 2016 pretendercandidate Ted Cruz (r-TX) twisted, turned and ignored reality while trying to blame President Obama and Hillary Clinton for income inequality.
Video:
Transcript via This Week:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a question about the economy. We saw these new unemployment numbers this week showing the economy has created more than a million jobs in the last three months, the best record in 17 years, a solid forecast for 2015 as well.
What does that do to your party’s strategy going forward in 2016?
Here’s what Kevin Hassett, an economic adviser to John McCain and Mitt Romney, told “The Washington Post” — he said, “When Hillary Clinton runs, she’s going to say, ‘The Republicans gave us a crappy economy twice, and we fixed it twice. Why would you ever trust them again?'”
What’s the answer?
CRUZ: Well, look, if Hillary Clinton wants to run by telling Americans that the economy is doing great and you can credit President Obama and Hillary Clinton for that, I would encourage her to follow that strategy. Because the simple reality is, that’s true for the wealthy.
The top 1 percent under President Obama, the millionaires and billionaires that he constantly demagogued, earned a higher share for our income than any year since 1928. Those with power and influence who walk the corridors of power of the Obama administration have gotten fat and happy under big government.
But I’ll tell you, hardworking men and women across America are hurting. We today have the lowest labor force participation since 1978. Ninety-two million Americans aren’t working, and we’ve seen wages stagnate.
Cruz was not telling the whole truth. Cruz wasn’t even telling half of the truth.
A chart from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) illustrates the explosion in income inequality between 1996 and 2006:
income inequality 1996-2006
According to the CRS, the shrub tax cuts shrunk the margin between the amount of taxes paid by the wealthy and everyone else by cutting the average tax rate for the rich by 25%.
The big secret that repugicans don’t want to have exposed is that their economic policies drive income inequality. Trickle down economics increases income inequality. Cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans doesn’t grow the economy. What upward economic redistribution does is concentrate wealth at the top.
Here is a chart via Mother Jones that illustrates the change in millionaire tax rates:
millionaire-tax-rates
Decades of wingnut economic policies have fueled the explosion in income inequality.
A study by the Tax Policy Center found that President Obama’s policies have made headway in reducing income inequality in comparison to repugican policies, “Now, consider what it would be like if none of President Obama’s tax policy changes had happened: not the upper-income tax hikes negotiated at the beginning of last year, not the upper-income tax increases imposed by the Affordable Care Act, not the low-income tax credits enacted in the 2009 stimulus and later renewed. In this alternative universe, the average member of the top 1 percent would take home $1.2 million, or 6.5 percent more in income, according to a new analysis. The average member of the bottom 20 percent would bring home $13,100, or 1.2 percent less in income. As a result, the average member of the 1 percent would take home 91 times what the average person in the bottom would bring home.”
cruz-this-weekA repugican pretrnder would have stayed the course and cut more taxes for the wealthy. This would have made income equality worse. Cruz is one of the repugican pretender wannabes who attended the latest secret Koch brothers conference. It is clear that the repugican plan for 2016 is to blame Obama for income inequality while advocating policies that will create more inequality.
Cruz’s less than stellar performance on ABC when asked how repugicans will run against an improving economy is a suggestion that their income inequality talking point is already a failure.

Chris Christie’s PAC Has An Acronym That Describes His Politics Perfectly: LMFAO

by Charles Topher
Let’s just be honest from the get-go here. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a bird-brained buffoon who can’t be taken seriously. He’s slovenly, ignorant, corrupt, and crass.
It’s only fitting that his political action committee’s website has the perfect acronym to describe how people feel when the imbecile who runs it speaks.
Leadership Matters For America. Org
Yes, the man who shut down traffic in an entire town to bully a mayor, the guy who spends more time on the sidelines with Jerry Jones than he does caring about his state, the man who thinks he should be President because a hurricane hit New Jersey, that man started a political action committee whose unintentional yet hilarious acronym is LMFAO.
I just spit a little bit of my Twisted Tea through my nose just thinking about it. You could say I’m laughing my fucking ass off at Chubbles McDouchebag.
You would think that somebody in the Christie camp would have enough higher brain function to have figured this out before people started laughing about it.  Then again these are Republicans; thinking isn’t high on their list of priorities.
Could you imagine what would happen if this bumbling boob were elected President?
  • Immoral Donors Grip America’s Future
  • Substandard Morons Destroying Homes
  • What The Fuck?
Alright, never mind. It was going nowhere fast, I know.
If Christie weren’t one of about four hundred and sixteen Republicans who think they can beat a Democrat, any Democrat, in 2016, this would be comedy gold. The fact is the Obese Maniacal Governor of the Garden State has little to no chance of making it much further than Idaho.
Were he to make it by some miracle, he’s polling at an average of 9.2 points behind Hillary Clinton. A poll of the residents of my house have him trailing our Boston Terrier Chowdah by just under 6 points.
Chris Christie is a joke, even when he doesn’t mean to be.
ROFL.

The religio-wingnuts Can’t Handle The Truth From President Obama

The point is that all christians should advocate and revere the truth with religious fervor; unless it is uttered by President Barack Obama at which point they "can't…
It may be a revelation to Americans in the wingnut and religio-wingnut movement, but truth means being in accord with facts or reality, or fidelity to an original standard or ideal. It is not a complex concept to comprehend, especially for the evangelical wingnuts that embraces the Ninth Commandment of the Decalogue that forbids “bearing false witness” (lying) leading one to believe that every christian embraces truth. In fact, the christian delusion’s namesake, jesus christ, is renowned for saying “the truth shall set you free” in John 8:32. The point is that all christians should advocate and revere the truth with religious fervor; unless it is uttered by President Barack Obama at which point they “can’t handle the truth.”
Although the President stated the truth during that bizarre event in a secular nation, the National Prayer Breakfast, this week, he violated that unspoken American rule that at no time will any American utter an untoward remark about the christian delusion whether it is the gospel truth or not. The fact is that in stating an irrefutable truth about christianity, the President grossly understated the reality that throughout history, there has been much more violence and killing in the name of christianity as in the name of islam. The truth of the matter is that despite the recent death and violence at the hands of radical islamists such as the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or IS), it pales in comparison to the history, including very recent history, of violence wrought on humanity by christians in the name of christianity.
The President infuriated the christian wingnuts during the National Prayer Breakfast when he said that no particular religion “has a monopoly on violence.” His exact words were, “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place – remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of christ. Slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of christ.” Of course the President spoke the truth, albeit a grossly understated truth, but it incited the christian wingnuts to apoplexy as if he had insulted their god almighty to his face.
The teabaggers claimed the President “threw christians under the bus,” dirty Lush Dimbulb said the President’s remark was “an insult to christianity” and the Daily Caller was certain the President’s truth was a ploy to put a halt to real Americans’ well-intentioned “criticism of radical islamists.” None of the criticism is even remotely true, because all the President did was acknowledge that in the same way ISIL uses the muslim delusion to rally followers to, and advance, its violent agenda, radical fundamentalists in the christian delusion have done exactly the same thing throughout world history to horrific effect. The President could, and should, have just uttered jesus christ’s words and told christians so ardently critical of islam that “whosoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone,” but one thing the extremist right will not countenance is President Barack Obama citing a scripture or jesus christ’s words from “their” precious Caucasian bible.
Where the President held back in speaking “pure truth” was his reluctance to cite that “christianist violence” was not just reserved to the Crusades and Inquisition, slavery, or Jim Crow. It has continued unabated and in nearly every instance it is just as violent as images and reports of ISIL atrocities. It is why christians cannot possibly criticize the muslim delusion, or condemn all of its devotees, as violent monsters when their delusion has been, and still is, responsible for unrivaled violence from the old testament to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and every era in between.
It may be a hard truth to handle, but it is a historically verifiable truth nonetheless and unfortunately for the faithful, christianity’s violence has a scriptural basis permeating the christian bible from start to finish. It is important to note that although jesus preached to love your neighbor, he also instructed his followers to go and “make disciples” and that whoever rejected his message was doomed to a violent death by his own hands in A Revelation 19:11-16.
Besides the extreme violence under the direction of the dog of the old testament, the christian Crusades and Inquisitions, during the 20th Century alone, while muslim violence claimed the lives of around 2 million people during the Iran-Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan, violence by christians claimed the lives of close to 100 million people. These acts of religious violence include the “World Wars, the Holocaust, the colonial wars in Southeast Asia and Africa, and the sectarian warfare in the Balkans including ‘an explicit genocide‘ against muslim Bosnians by Serbian orthodox christians.”
As Middle East historian Juan Cole notes, regardless the mass violence perpetrated by christians may not have been directly in the name of christianity, in “every conflict the combatants were overtly religious, and invoked their religion as part of their military campaigns.” This is particularly true of evangelical christian the shrub’s 2003 “righteous crusade” in invading Iraq replete with “biblical verses engraved on weapons” that claimed the lives of over 655,000 innocent Iraqi civilians; nearly all devotees of islam. Many of the islamist warriors in ISIL are fighting to reclaim their homes and place in Iraq society after christian the shrub helped drive them out of their own country; not just because of delusion. But as Cole points out, “they are organized around groups that share a common religious and cultural background;” not unlike America’s military forces that invaded, conquered, and killed hundreds-of-thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan under direct orders from their commander in chief; evangelical fundamentalist the shrub.
For many Americans, the idea of a National Prayer Breakfast is abominable, but for once President Obama made the most out of a bizarre event and put Americans in the religio-wingnut and wingnut movement who portray all muslims as violence-prone monsters in the proper perspective; they are rank hypocrites. Now, it is no more truth that all christians are violent monsters because of their deluson’s incredibly violent history than devotees of the muslim delusion are due to a terrorist criminal attack on America or ISIL militants reclaiming their homes, but it was refreshing to see President Obama, a christian adherent, utter the truth to make a very prescient point at a multi-faith religious function.
Of course, one cannot possibly expect the evangelical or wingnut extremists in this country to accept what they know to be true, because it is like that adage; “the truth hurts.” However, for some Americans being bombarded daily with Faux News and wingnut lies that all muslims are violent due to their delusion, it is possible they will take the President’s truth to heart and acknowledge that in the same way all christians are not violent monsters based on the delusion’s precedent-setting historical violence, all followers of islam are not members of ISIL or prone to violence. It was a truth Americans desperately needed to hear and one religio-wingnut and wingnut extremists can’t handle; especially because President Barack Obama had the courage to utter it in a highly religious public forum the nation’s faithful were paying attention to. From a secular humanist’s perspective, it was long overdue and a stroke of genius from a dying breed of American; a christian humanist.

Beating Babies in the Name of jesus?

Some of the most infamous evangelical discipline gurus have made beating children into a dogly activity.
There is a brutal movement in America that legitimizes child abuse in the name of dog. In the evangelical alternative universe of the home school movement, tightly knit church communities and the following of a number of big-time leaders and authors, physical punishment of children has been glorified for years.
Some of the most infamous evangelical discipline gurus have made beating children not just "respectable" in wingnut religious circles, but even turned it into a dogly activity.

This christian cabal In Texas Shows What Hatred Looks Like

by Chrysler Summer
article imageSometimes racism can be so ugly and sad to see that you are just speechless. This is almost one of those times.
In Austin, Texas, the Texas chapter of the Council on American-islam Relations (CAIR) held a celebration and rally on the state capitol grounds during what was billed as Texas muslim Capitol Day. The group on hand was largely made up of Muslim students and children, there peacefully celebrating and learning about the political process in the state.
Basic stuff right?
Well, that was too much for one group of 'christian' protesters who felt the Islamic group had no right to be there and was somehow trampling on their American and 'christian' rights. The anti-muslim cabal calls itself the Patriotic Defense Foundation and claimed they were on hand because CAIR was really there to create a climate in which it could “take over America.”
The group disrupted CAIR’s peaceful rally, which included the kids singing American patriotic songs with such shouts as “No Sharia” and “Go home” while carrying signs that read “Radical islam is The New Nazi,” “Go Home & Take Obama With You,” and this lovely one, “I serve a risen savior, jesus christ. muhammad is dead.”
One woman went so far as to grab a microphone away from a Muslim speaker and shout, “I proclaim the name of the lord jesus christ over the capitol of Texas. I stand against islam and the false prophet.” Protesters then loudly recited the lord’s prayer over the muslim students there trying to carry on their celebration and do their best to ignore these very unkind protestors.
The Patriotic Defense Foundation posted on their Facebook page their intent to rally against these American muslims who dared to celebrate their freedom of religion openly. One member wrote this on the page prior to the event:
“We hope to speak to event organizers, attendees, media, locals etc and find out what they are doing and why they continue to infiltrate our country instead of assimilating. We hope to join many there to stand shoulder to shoulder in support of America against islam.”
“Infiltrate our country instead of assimilating.” And by that she clearly means give up their religion and become christian.
I always find it interesting that people and cabals like this behave the way they do and think they are sending a positive message about their own delusion. The irony in this situation is that the muslims there for their celebration were doing a much better job of representing what is right about our values and what we all believe religion should do for people than those ugly protesters who were making it very clear what they had in their hearts was nothing more than hate and ignorance.


Wingnuts Freaks Out As Latest jesus Film Actually Follows biblical Parable

by Nathaniel Downes 
‘People have been making films covering the figure of jesus christ since light first hit celluloid, starting with The Life and Passion of jesus christ released in 1905. And just as long have been religious zealots proclaiming these cinematic masterpieces as sacrilege, blasphemy or heretical. From The Last Temptation of christ to The Gospel According to St Matthew, various cult groups have over the years attacked any representation of jesus christ which does not fit their narrow interpretation of the bible. Joining this elite list of cinematic targets of hatred is Director Rodrigo Garcia’s latest film, ‘Last Days in the Desert.’
The movie covers the period in which jesus wanders the desert for 40 days, and is a parable to tell the internal discussion which the central figure of the christian delusion had while alone for weeks by himself. To tell this story, he purposefully took lead actor Ewan McGregor and cast him as both jesus christ and as his alter-ego, satan. And it is that last detail which has critics upset.
Historical and biblical analysis have both concluded that these 40 days, known as the temptation of christ, is parable, and not a literal truth. Instead of telling us a literal story, it gave lessons for people to use in their own life. The figure of satan is not even included in most translations of the story, instead calling the figure “The Tempter.”
The casting of the tempter as a mirror of the central figure is a cinematic staple, as seen in movies such as “Raising Cain” and “Oh dog, You Devil.” The use of this mechanism to tell the temptation of christ is novel yet fitting for the parable being told. In the end, those upset over the choice are upset truly on having the core of their faith presented honestly to the public in a manner which is reachable and relatable. People can then understand the tenants of faith for themselves, rather than relying upon elders or leaders to hand these lessons to them. It is much the same arguments which were made against the removal of Latin from catholic services. And they are ultimately misguided.
‘Last Days in the Desert’ is currently on the festival circuit, and is likely to reach theaters later this year.

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Marilyn Monroe (25)
Marilyn Monroe

Why Are wingnuts Such Whiny Crybabies?

From Faux News to angry police, the wingnut's stock-in-trade is predictable and lame.
Over the years, Salon columnist Heather “Digby” Parton has written repeatedly about repugican cabal/wingnut hissy fits, most notably in her 2007 classic, ‘The Art of the Hissy Fit,’ where she noted that, “the wingnuts' successful use of phony sanctimony and faux outrage…often succeeded in changing the dialogue and titillating the media into a frenzy of breathless tabloid coverage.”  It first caught her attention in the late ’90s, when top repugican cabal adulterers Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston  ”pretended to be offended at the president’s extramarital affair” as well as being outraged that Democrats raised campaign money just like they did.
It worked so well, she observed, “that they now rely on it as their first choice to control the political dialogue when it becomes uncomfortable and put the Democrats on the defensive whenever they are winning the day.” Which is why “hissy fit” is by far the best way to describe the ginned-up outrage recently mounted against New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for their nonexistent roles in the execution killings of Brooklyn NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu—outrage the conservative media sustains by hiding what de Blasio and Obama have actually said, while burying them in false accusations.
The political dialogue over police wantonly killing unarmed and toy-armed black men has become much more than merely uncomfortable for conservatives recently—the longevity of the Black Lives Matter protests is showing signs of constituting a genuine rebirth of the civil rights movement. So how better to change the subject completely than to blame these officers’ deaths on protesters and sympathetic politicians? But the faux nature of the outrage was plainly visible. As Media Matters noted, Fox News led the right-wing media in casting blame on Democratic officeholders, in marked contrast to how it had downplayed, ignored and depoliticized a whole host of past incidents of right-wing cop killings in recent years. And now all that outrage appears to have fallen flat, with New Yorkers overwhelmingly opposed to police turning their backs on de Blasio, NYPD police union president Pat Lynch backing down on his calls for a de Blasio apology, and news reports that Lynch faces an internal revolt, and might not survive an upcoming election. Still, the storm of outrage was frighteningly intense, and could well erupt again, given the profound conflict of forces involved. We’d do well to understand what was going on.

Inside the Strange, Paranoid World of the Wingnut Oath Keepers

The Oath Keepers claim to be the "guardians of the republic" -- but they're largely nuts.
My official Oath Keepers membership card is in my outstretched hand. With great power comes great responsibility: my duty is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. No compromise. I’m now a member of a controversial conservative group whose members make Ted Nugent look like a bleeding-heart Rachel Maddow. Our mission is to keep the government accountable. Just remember: Not on my watch.
Let’s rewind: The scene was Ferguson, Missouri. When riots broke out over the August shooting death of Michael Brown, armed members of the Oath Keepers took to the city’s rooftops, appearing out of the smoke and shattered glass of ransacked buildings. Their supposed duty was to secure the local businesses from looting. In the first days of the protests, demonstrators had broken out windows of storefronts, set arson fires, and torched a beauty supply store. ABC News reported that a number of business owners embraced the Oath Keepers’ armed presence. Group members boarded up storefronts and kept buckets of water and fire extinguishers handy in case nearby arson attacks escalated. This was the vigilante group’s moment in the media sun.
Still, rumors flew. Some protestors thought the armed men in camouflaged fatigues were members of the Ku Klux Klan. The St. Louis County police ordered the Oath Keepers to leave the rooftops of Ferguson, threatening them with arrest for acting as a security force without a license. This only added fuel to the right-wing group’s conspiracy that the government is not protecting its people. The volunteer security force packed up and left Ferguson, leaving people wondering exactly who these heavily armed mystery men were.

When Toddlers Kill Selves with Guns in Florida—Guess Which Color Gun Owners Get Arrested

Take a wild stab at it!
by Alex Kohut

"It's just one of those things that happens where everything happens the wrong way."
“Just one of those things,” is exactly what white Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said after the gun of Kevin Ahles was left in reach of his 2-year old son Kaleb, who grabbed the loaded gun, and killed himself on January 21, 2015.
“Just one of those things.”
Yet in neighboring Hillsborough County, when on May 7, 2013, 3-year old Jadarrius Speights grabbed his uncle’s gun and proceeded to kill himself, the white Sheriff David Gee had a different reaction. In that case it was not, “one of those things,” but culpable homicide, and Jeffery D. Walker was arrested.
See if by looking a these pictures you guess which is the gun owner that was charged with a felony:
 You guessed it, the African-American was sent to jail.
Both held concealed weapon permits, both were negligent, and in both cases, that negligence led to the death of a child.
Yet in the land of Jeb "Stand Your Ground" Bush, George Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander, we all know which of these two negligent adults was charged for their crime.
While we fantasize about equal protection under the law, and debate the existence of white privilege, this story shines a light on the racism and injustice that still exists.

Officer Who Killed 95 Year-Old WWII Vet Because He Refused Medical Treatment Found Not Guilty

by Matt Agorist
acquittal-for-cop-who-killed-john-wrana
A Park Forest police officer has been acquitted in the death of a 95-year-old WWII veteran. Officer Craig Taylor was acquitted Wednesday of reckless conduct, the one charge he faced for the negligent killing of another human being.
John W. Rana Jr., 95, was killed during an altercation with Park Forest police when they responded a call at his retirement apartment in June of 2013.
The incident began when the police were called to the Park Forest Assisted Living Center after Wrana refused treatment for what the staff believed to be a urinary tract infection.
Apparently the police are the “go to guys” when you need to force medical treatment on a 95-year-old man.
When the Park Forest cops arrived, predictably the situation then escalated to violence. Wrana did brandish a fileting knife. However, the police mistook a shoehorn for a machete and raided Wrana’s room.
Instead of waiting for the 95-year-old to simply take a nap and go in peacefully, the police used the only tactic they know, violent escalation.
When a taser was fired by an officer and missed, Taylor fired the beanbag gun from 15 feet away, in clear violation of the manufacturers instructions. He fired five consecutive shots into the 95-year-old in a matter of seconds.
In a Lawsuit filed by the estate of Mr. Wrana, the family alleges that the officers acted “willfully, wantonly, intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, in bad faith and with deliberate disregard.”
“There was nothing criminal about his actions,” the judge said in a Markham courtroom Wednesday. He cited that the force Taylor used was, “not excessive.”
Unfortunately, many people will look at this situation and feel that justice has been served. However, it was not only Taylor’s actions that led to the death of John Wrana that day, but also the actions of the entire system; a system who owes its very existence to the monopoly it holds on the use of violence.
When violent force is relied upon to convince an elderly man to get tested for a potential medical problem, we as a society lose out.
An innocent man who only wanted to be left alone had a team of state agents, whose sole purpose is to use violent coercion to force compliance, dispatched to his residence.
These very state agents, ostensibly acting in defense of that man’s life, ended that man’s life instead — and the system that killed him defends this response. Tis a sad day in the supposed Land of the Free.

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Stiletto’s and a Straw Hat. Whoa. Where is the smoking gun?

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Why an Ichthyosaur Looks Like a Dolphin

by Brian Switek
Textbooks aren’t known for their originality. They build on the basics, and often include the same standard examples from one generation of students to the next. (I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the fox terrier clone is still creeping somewhere.) That’s why ichthyosaurs are a textbook staple.
Mesozoic “fish lizards”, ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that independently became adapted to a life at sea around 200 million years before dolphins. Despite their distance from the oceanic mammals in both time and evolutionary history, though, ichthyosaurs look enough like dolphins for the two to be practically inseparable in textbooks. They’re a striking example of convergent evolution – two lineages independently evolving extremely similar anatomy from different starting points.
A Jurassic ichthyosaur on display at the Royal Ontario Museum. Photo by Brian Switek.
A Jurassic ichthyosaur on display at the Royal Ontario Museum.
But how similar are the two, exactly? An Opthalmosaurus looks kind of like a bottlenose dolphin, sure, but stopping at superficial similarities isn’t very scientific. Here’s where a new Biology Letters study by marine tetrapod specialists Neil Kelley and Ryosuke Motani offers an opportunity to see whether such resemblances are only skin deep.
Kelley and Motani focused on skulls of marine tetrapods – descendants of the four-legged vertebrates that crawled out of the swamps over 360 million years ago. They’re an ideal group for such comparisons because all of them – from seals to turtles to whales – had terrestrial ancestors that eventually took on life in the seas. By combining skull, jaw, and tooth measurements from 69 living species with data on what they actually eat, Kelley and Motani were able to pick out how form relates to feeding.
How skull (top) and tooth (bottom) shapes group marine tetrapods together. From Kelley and Motani, 2015.
How skull (top) and tooth (bottom) shapes group marine tetrapods together.
As it turns out, skull anatomy is a fairly good predictor of feeding style regardless of ancestry. For example, herbivores like the marine iguana, green sea turtle have short skulls with larger areas of attachment for powerful jaws muscles to crop and crush vegetation. Species that snatch up fish and squid, on the other hand, tend to have longer, toothier snouts better-suited to “snap feeding” and swallowing prey whole. Apex predators such as the saltwater crocodile, leopard seal, and orca fell in-between, characterized by elongated jaws and relatively deep skulls that give them the power to tear apart larger prey.
Despite diverging far back in the prehistoric past, creatures as distantly-related as iguanas and dugongs have evolved similar skull shapes to cope with similar diets. And with this proof-of-concept in place, the same technique can be applied to the fossil record. Paleontologists will able to investigate the similarities, and differences, between ichthyosaurs and dolphins, and perhaps even gauge how marine reptiles like different species of mosasaur may have been able to coexist by picking different items off the marine menu. There are plenty of prehistoric secrets embodied by evolution’s greatest hits.