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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Daily Drift

OK, so how is Waldo?

Some of our readers today have been in:
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Pasig, Philippines
Bangkok, Thailand
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Krakow, Poland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Chelyabinsk, Russia
Fermont, Canada
Maribor, Slovenia
Poznan, Poland
Cape Town, South Africa
Bacolod City, Philippines
Skopje, Macedonia
Avarua, Cook Islands
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Davo City, Philippines
Cairo, Egypt
Ankara, Turkey
Kharkiv, Ukraine

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1298   King Edward I defeats Scots under William Wallace at Falkirk.
1515   Emperor Maximillian and Vladislav of Bohemia forge an alliance between the Hapsburg and Jagiello dynasties in Vienna.
1652   Prince Conde's rebels narrowly defeat Chief Minister Mazarin's loyalist forces at St. Martin, near Paris.
1789   Thomas Jefferson becomes the first head of the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs.
1812   A British army under the Duke of Wellington defeats the French at Salamanca, Spain.
1814   Five Indian tribes in Ohio make peace with the United States and declare war on Britain.
1881   The first volume of The War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, is published.
1894   The first automobile race takes place between Paris and Rouen, France.
1934   American gangster John Dillinger is shot dead by FBI officers outside a Chicago cinema.
1938   The Third Reich issues special identity cards for Jewish Germans.
1943   Palermo, Sicily surrenders to General George S. Patton's Seventh Army.
1966   B-52 bombers hit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam for the first time.

Now that is something you don't see everyday

If someone ever asks you if you live in a cave or a trailer you can answer ... yes

Please let's stop pretending we care

Americans do a great job of proclaiming our collective shock and outrage when some nut for the gazillionth time opens fire on a crowd of innocent bystanders at a movie theater, a college, a high school, a museum, or a post office, but at some point, if we aren't going to do anything about it, maybe it's time we stopped the charade of pretending we actually care.
How many times does someone have to drown in front of us, while we do nothing, before it's time to conclude that perhaps we are part of the problem?

From EJ Dionne at the Moderate Voice:
For all the dysfunction in our political system, a healthy pattern usually takes hold when a terrible tragedy seizes the nation’s attention.
Anyone who dares to say that an event such as the massacre at a Colorado movie theater early Friday morning demands that we rethink our approach to the regulation of firearms is accused of “exploiting” the deaths of innocent people.

This is part of the gun lobby’s rote response, and the rest of us allow it to work every time. Their goal is to block any conversation about how our nation’s gun laws, the most permissive in the industrialized world, increase the likelihood of mass killings of this sort.
So let’s ask ourselves: Aren’t we all in danger of being complicit in throwing up our hands and allowing the gun lobby to write our gun laws? Awful things happen, we mourn them, and then we shrug. And that’s why they keep happening.
The Boomtown Rats wrote "I don't like Mondays" in 1979, thirty-three years ago. Violence in America isn't a recent problem. It's been going on for a while now. And nothing serious is ever done about it because the gun nut lobby is ruthless, owns the repugican party, and preys on the Democrats usual fear of doing anything that isn't agreeable to 100% of the American people.
So the next time some nut goes on a shooting spree with weapons the gun lobby made it easier for him to get - and he will - let's stop pretending like we care, because as a nation we really don't. As individuals we may or may not care but as a whole we most diffidently do not.

Lenovo CEO Distributed His $3 Million Bonus to Employees

CEOs earning millions of dollars in bonuses is not unusual, but what is remarkable is what China-based technology company Lenovo's CEO Yang Yuanqing did with his:
Yang Yuanqing distributed $3 million from his bonus among 10,000 junior-level employees, the China-based technology company confirmed Thursday. The employees, such as receptionists, production-line workers and assistants, each received an average bonus of 2,000 yuan, which is $314, in the name of their CEO.

Democratic convention benefits from corporate cash

Shortly after last year's high-profile announcement that the 2012 Democratic National Convention would be the first in history not to rely on special-interest money, organizers in Charlotte quietly set up a nonprofit entity to rake in corporate cash.

Did you know ...

We're chronicling Mitt's mendacity, vol. xxvi

That Ohio cuts back on early voting

About the 401(k) scam

That religious fanatics destroy school in Mexican town

The 'Real' Tea Party

Alice in Wonderland, 1915

The repugicans block Bring Jobs Home Act, protecting companies that outsource jobs

by Laura Clawson
 Burning and sinking word job in water surface over white as a result of the financial crisis. 

Senate repugicans filibustered the Brings Jobs Home Act Thursday. The bill, which would eliminate incentives for companies to move jobs overseas and create incentives to bring jobs to the United States from overseas, was blocked by 42 repugicans; Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe voted with Democrats to advance it.
Under current law, companies can deduct the cost of moving people and equipment overseas from their taxes. S. 3364 would have eliminated that deduction, and created a new 20 percent tax credit for all costs associated with moving overseas jobs back to America.
According to The Hill, "repugicans were expected to support the 'insourcing' bill until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was unlikely to include any repugican amendments." Specifically, repugicans wanted to include an amendment repealing the Affordable Care Act. I'm thinking if their support for the Bring Jobs Home Act was contingent on getting a health care repeal vote, they didn't really support bringing jobs home and were just trying to create an excuse to vote against it. As Reid pointed out, "It's no surprise repugicans are on the side of corporations making big bucks sending American jobs to China and India. After all, their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, made a fortune outsourcing jobs, too."

The Outsourcer in Chief

Romney apparently has his mitts on more outsourcing companies.
In march 1999, shortly after Romney left BTO take over the troubled winter Olympics in salt Lake City, Brookside Capital Investors Inc., a Bain-related entity wholly owned by Romney, filed a report with the Securities and exchange commission that listed dozens of companies in which Brookside held a stake the previous quarter. the roster included investments in Singapore-based Flextronics International ($13 million) and Florida-headquartered Jabil Circuit Inc. ($41 million), two companies that were leaders in the fast-growing field of outsourcing electronics manufacturing and off-shoring production to low-wage countries. together, these two investments represented almost 10 percent of Brookside's $559 million portfolio. - More

Mitt's tax bombshell?

I saw an article that speculates that what Mitt is hiding in his tax returns:
It is an amnesty that the IRS offered on Swiss Bank accounts in 2009.

Here’s an excerpt:

Wealthy U.S. taxpayers, concerned about an Internal Revenue Service crackdown on the use of secret overseas bank accounts as tax havens, are rushing to meet a Thursday deadline to disclose those accounts or face possible criminal prosecution. The concern was triggered this summer when Switzerland's largest bank, caught up in an international tax evasion dispute, said it would disclose the names of more than 4,000 of its U.S. account holders.

The decision shattered a long-held belief that Swiss banks would guard the identities of its American customers as carefully as they did their money, and it raised concern that other international tax havens might be next. Under an amnesty program, the IRS is allowing taxpayers to avoid prosecution for having failed to report their overseas accounts.

As a result, tax attorneys across the nation have been besieged by wealthy clients who are lining up to apply even though they will still face big financial penalties.

So, Mittens the tax evader took advantage of the IRS amnesty program?
I wonder how many years he was cheating on his taxes?

The truth be told

Rebels control Syrian border posts

Juan Cole writes:
Free Syria exists along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq. The Free Syrian Army, somewhat to my surprise, is beginning to take and hold territory, acting more like a conventional army than like a guerrilla movement. Admittedly, the territory is in the boondocks. But these boondocks are crucial because they control border areas and roads between Syria and Turkey on the one side, and Syria and Iraq on the other.
There is some dispute about the significance of holding these outposts since the Syrian border was porous and the FSA had little trouble getting weapons across before the border posts fell. But the real significance of this development is not what supplies the FSA has access to but the supplies it can deny the government. Cole again:
The significance of the FSA taking Abu Kamal, the border crossing with Iraq along the Euphrates road, is that 70% of the goods coming into Syria were coming from the Iraq of PM Nouri al-Maliki, who had refused to join a blockade of Syria because of his new alliance with Iran. But al-Maliki’s attitude is irrelevant if the revolutionaries have Abu Kamal.
An insurgency can function very successfully with a few truckloads of weapons a week. An army needs fuel, parts, uniforms, food to fight at maximum efficiency. Creating shortages is also a form of information engagement: A government can lie about the progress of the war on the front lines but they can't hide a lack of food in the shops.

Border Patrol sadism and human rights abuses on the Mexican border

John Carlos Frey investigates the deliberate cruelty of the US Border Patrol agents who work on the US-Mexican border. A humanitarian relief group called No More Deaths used hidden cameras to record smiling Border Patrol agents destroying water-caches left in areas where migrants have died of exposure. A former senior agent who left after witnessing horrific acts of torture and cruelty describes the way that Border Patrol agents delight in sadistic brutalizing of captured migrants. These accounts have been corroborated by the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. My grandparents -- Red Army deserters -- deliberately destroyed their papers after WWII in order to become "displaced people" so that they could make their way from a camp in Azerbaijan to the DP boats in Hamburg. I don't see any difference between that sort of "illegal" migration and the sort that the US BP is currently fighting. Back then, the US, UK and Canada used very similar rhetoric about the way that migrants would take badly needed jobs, bring criminality, and fail to assimilate. But as Elie Weisel said, "there is no such thing as an illegal human being."
In his nine years working the border near Tucson, Ariz., and earning the rank of senior agent, Cruz says he frequently saw agents physically abusing detainees and denying food and water to those who were in obvious need. He also saw “individuals being crammed into cells twice beyond the posted capacity. Standing room only. I mean, you couldn’t even lie down on the floor.” This was done, he says, even when empty cells were available nearby. In 2003, he began warning his supervisors of this pattern of abuse. When his spoken complaints didn’t elicit a response, he began to write letters. “I started at the unit level,” Cruz says. “I went to the sector chief, office of inspector general — via phone calls and faxes of those memorandums. Went on to the commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection, who’s over the U.S. Border Patrol Agency. And then felt the need to move on to Congress.” Cruz left the force in 2007 without ever hearing a response.
Cruelty on the border

The truth hurts

Back Yard Volcanoes

Even when you know that the area in which you live is prone to earthquakes, perhaps the last thing you might expect is a volcano in the back yard. Yet these are not the volcanoes we see in Hollywood movies. Neither are they the mud volcanoes which occur near geysers. These are something quite different. These are sand volcanoes.

Underwater Volcano is Caribbean's Looming Tsunami Disaster

An underwater volcano in the Eastern Caribbean known as Kick 'em Jenny has a 50% chance of causing a significant tsunami over the next half century. More

Places To Swim In The World's Clearest Water

34 to be exact
Here are 34 places around the world to do some underwater exploring, and come back with amazingly clear imagery. Sometimes the water is so clear it looks like the boats are floating in the air.

Face of Paris

Bygone Olympic Event

Distance Plunging
At the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, competitors took part in a water event called the distance plunge. That was the only year it was part of the games.
The event required athletes to dive into the pool and coast underwater without moving their limbs. After 60 seconds had passed – or competitors had floated to the surface, whichever came first – referees measured the distance the athletes had drifted.
Yes, it certainly sounds more like a pool game for kids than a real sport. Distance plunging is just one of a gallery of 9 Really Strange Sports That Are No Longer in the Olympics. More

Take Care in What You Wear to the Games

Olympic sponsors are so adamant about protecting their rights that spectators wearing certain kinds of clothing may be turned away from the games.
Games boss Sebation Coe warned anyone wearing a Pepsi T-shirt is likely to be booted out because it would upset sponsors Coca-Cola.
And he only said spectators in Nike trainers “could probably” be allowed in although Adidas are also backing the event.
Coe defended the draconian move and said it was to protect corporate sponsors who have paid a fortune to be involved.
The story at the Daily Record details other measures already taken, like food vendors being told to sell their wares in clear plastic bags so there is no confusion about breaking the branding rules. More

Ten Famous Literary Characters Based On Real People

'Write what you know,' they say. So it makes sense that many authors take a good look around at friends and family when creating characters for their books. For example: Mark Twain once admitted that he wasn't terribly creative in creating Huckleberry Finn - he based the character almost precisely on his childhood friend Tom Blankenship.

The Curvaceous Absolute Towers

Recently awarded the 'Best Tall Building in the Americas for 2012' by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the Absolute Towers by Ma Yansong of MAD Architects is a curvaceous beauty.

Located in Mississauga, Canada (a suburb of Toronto), the two recently completed towers are the city's most iconic buildings.

Daily Comic Relief


Late Stage Cervical Diagnosis Linked to Lack of Insurance

This year, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be told they have cervical cancer.

From the Blotter

Police arrest boyfriend of woman accused of barricading daughter in closet
Police have arrested Marcus R. Benson, the man police say is the boyfriend of the woman accused of barricading her 10-year-old malnourished daughter in an apartment closet.Benson was arrested about 8 p.m. Thursday.

Man Pleads Guilty To Stabbing Man To Death, Blinding Wife
A 49-year-old St. Paul man has pleaded guilty to charges that he stabbed a man to death and stabbed his wife in the eyes, causing her to go blind and leaving her seriously wounded.

Chinese Villager Arrested for Stealing Rare Peaches

Yonggang Li, along with two companions, filled bags with glorious peaches that belonged to the Zhengzhou Fruit Tree Institute, a government association that has for the past 13 years concentrated on making perfect peaches.

Delivery driver who traded $10,000 worth of fresh fish for $400 of crack sentenced to rehab

A South San Francisco man who stole $10,000 worth of fresh fish to trade for $400 in crack cocaine was given a three-year suspended prison sentence Thursday, on the condition that he enter a residential treatment program to tackle his drug addiction. San Mateo Superior Court Judge Lisa Novak handed down the sentence to 44-year-old Byron Bates, who pleaded no contest in May to stealing a delivery truck from South San Francisco-based Newport Fish Company where he was employed.
Novak acknowledged that the defendant's crime was nonviolent, and said she believed that he was genuinely remorseful and that his "theft-related conduct was driven by addiction." Bates, who has been accepted into the Delancey Street Foundation's addiction recovery program in San Francisco, wiped away tears and thanked the judge for a chance to turn his life around. "I just feel a lot of guilt right now," he said.

In October 2011, Bates worked as a driver for the seafood distribution company and had been assigned to make a round of fresh fish deliveries in Sacramento on Oct. 14, according to the district attorney's office. By 4 p.m. that day, customers were calling to complain that no deliveries had been made, prosecutors said. After the owner of the company tried unsuccessfully to contact Bates, he called police.

Four days later, the missing delivery truck was found abandoned in Oakland. Most of the fish was gone, and what remained was rotten, according to the district attorney's office. Bates was arrested in South San Francisco, and investigators determined that he had traded the fresh fish for $400 worth of crack. Bates, who has been in San Mateo County Jail since his arrest, will be required to live at Delancey Street Foundation's residential facility for a minimum of two years.

I don't deserve better healthcare than you

When blogger Melissa moved to Canada in 2008, she identified as a wingnut, repugican evangelical christian. Part of that identity included a deep mistrust of Canada's universal healthcare system. Before the move, she was terrified that she was going to place that would limit her medical choices, tell her what to do with her body, and push abortions (paid for with her money) on any woman who was unsure of what to do about an unwanted pregnancy. She was afraid of losing her freedom. She was afraid of losing her religious liberty.
But that's not what she found in Canada.
Instead, Melissa slowly came to realize that the Canadian system was actually more family friendly than the American one. In Canada, there is significantly less demand for abortion. In Canada, she says, it's easier to be a stay at home parent, and it's easier to ensure the health of your children. She also found that abortion wasn't pushed (merely offered as one of many options) and that Catholic hospitals weren't forced to offer abortions if they didn't want to. Meanwhile, Canada does a better job than we do at balancing their national budget and has far, far, far less national debt.
I started to wonder why I had been so opposed to government mandated Universal Health care. Here in Canada ... People actually went in for routine check-ups and caught many of their illnesses early, before they were too advanced to treat. People were free to quit a job they hated, or even start their own business without fear of losing their medical coverage. In fact, the only real complaint I heard about the Universal Health Care from the Canadians themselves, was that sometimes there could be a wait time before a particular medical service could be provided. But even that didn’t seem to be that bad to me, in the States most people had to wait for medical care, or even be denied based on their coverage. ... The only people guaranteed immediate and full service in the USA, were those with the best (and most expensive) health coverage or wads of cash they could blow. In Canada, the wait times were usually short, and applied to everyone regardless of wealth ... Personally, I never experienced excessive wait times
This story is hitting particularly close to home for me, right now, as I have started to receive bills in the mail for medical costs incurred by my recent miscarriage. The anesthesia for my abortion, alone, ran more than $1500. I have high-deductible insurance (which brought the cost down to about $650) and a health savings account (which allowed me to cover the rest). I'm not in trouble. But I am very, very aware of how lucky and privileged I am in this.
If it weren't for the fact that I'm married to an engineer, I wouldn't have health insurance now. In fact, I probably wouldn't be writing for BoingBoing, because I would never have been able to take the risk of freelancing and leaving any job (no matter how poorly paid or odious) that offered me health insurance. And if I had had the misfortune to have a miscarriage at 7 weeks without the health coverage I have now, I would have incurred medical bills that could have put me in debt for years. Either that, or I would have had to make choices about my miscarriage that would have made the experience significantly worse on my physical health and mental well-being.
I've been successful in my career. But that's not enough. Whatever I've done as a "self-made" lady, I don't deserve to be able to make the right health choices for myself without fear of bankruptcy. Or, rather, I don't deserve it anymore than everyone deserves it. Healthcare without fear shouldn't be something you have to earn by being exceptional. Nothing I've done personally, makes me more special and deserving of being able to take care of my body. And that's the problem with the US health system. It takes basic necessities and treats them as privileges.

Risk assessment for type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin for it to function properly All adults aged 40 and above should have a risk assessment for type 2 diabetes, according to the healthcare watchdog.

Surgery Turns Woman’s Eye into a Telescope

Doris Ekblad-Olson, 82, of Colorado is the first person to receive CentraSight, an experimental optical implant:
Ekblad-Olson suffers from “wet” macular degeneration, an end-stage form of the common, chronic disease, where blood vessels are leaking and destroying central vision.
“I can’t see the faces of the people across the table from me,” she said. “I can’t see the food on my plate.”
She wants to finish a memoir of teaching seminary in Hong Kong, and being limited to a sliver of peripheral vision makes writing a challenge.
The device, called CentraSight, is placed behind the iris. It projects and enlarges central images onto the still-healthy peripheral portions of the retina.

Random Fact #2018

TV station hit by lightning during live weather report

A lightning strike briefly knocked out power to the building housing WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio 1030 in Boston.
Both stations were on the air as thunder rocked the building. WBZ-TV Chief Meteorologist Todd Gutner was forced to finish his forecast in the dark.

About 19 seconds into the video, the microphone suddenly cuts out with a quick burst of static, as the lights in the studio go out. Gutner’s audio returns a short time later, but only his weather map remains lit.

“We just took a potent lightning strike, probably right to the rooftop or to our transmitter,” Gutner said as he attempted to continue his forecast. WBZ-TV anchor Jack Williams said it was the first time he can remember in his 37-year tenure that the station was knocked off the air by lightning during a live newscast.

Climate change numbers revealed and explained

Writing in Rolling Stone, Bill McKibben brings us global warming's "new math," a collection of scary stats about the record-setting shifts in the world's climate, from the hottest rainfall ever recording (109' F in Mecca) to the record-breaking increase in the number of broken records in worldwide weather. McKibben's second set of numbers are the financial numbers -- companies borrowing against fossil hydrocarbons that are still in the ground, effectively incurring an obligation to dig them up and burn them -- that explain why no one is doing anything about the first set.
June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.
Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the "largest temperature departure from average of any season on record." The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet's history.
Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world's nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn't even attend. It was "a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago," the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls "once thronged by multitudes." Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.

The Wrathful Planet

The Earth Does Not Forgive

Talk of climate change in the mainstream media is primarily limited to abstract discussions about carbon dioxide emissions, melting ice ...
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Global CO2 emissions continue to go up, up, up

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming – increased by 3% last year, reaching ...
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Hey Buddy ...

How about a lift?!

Fourteen Stories That Prove Animals Have Souls

As if that story isn’t touching enough, BuzzFeed has another 13 amazing stories that prove that we aren’t the only ones with feelings.

Caribou Huddle Together To Avoid Insects

Several photos of the animals clumped together were taken from a Cessna 185 earlier this month. Read more

Sea hares and sea slugs

Southern California tidepool life
Sea hares and sea slugs or nudibranchs are molluscs and thus are related to the garden slug.

Animal Pictures

Elkā€¦#4 by Blackcat Photography on Flickr.