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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Daily Drift

Sunset in Paradise

Due to an unexpected - yet delightful - phone call at 10:30 thing morning today's postings are a bit delayed. We will return to our regular schedule tomorrow.

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Today in History

1396   The last great Christian crusade, led jointly by John the Fearless of Nevers and King Sigismund of Hungary, ends in disaster at the hands of Sultan Bajazet I's Ottoman army at Nicopolis.
1598   In Sweden, King Sigismund is defeated at Stangebro by his Uncle Charles.
1775   British troops capture Ethan Allen, the hero of Ticonderoga, when he and a handful of Americans try to invade Canada.
1789   Congress proposes 12 new amendments to the Constitution.
1804   The 12th Amendment is ratified, changing the procedure of choosing the president and vice-president.
1846   American General Zachary Taylor's forces capture Monterey, Mexico.
1909   The first National Aeronautic Show opens at Madison Square Garden.
1915   An allied offensive is launched in France against the German Army.
1918   Brazil declares war on Austria.
1937   German Chancellor Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Premier Benito Mussolini in Munich.
1938   President Franklin Roosevelt urges negotiations between Hitler and Czech President Benes over the Sudetenland.
1942   The War Labor Board orders equal pay for women in the United States.
1943   The Red Army retakes Smolensk from the Germans who are retreating to the Dnieper River in the Soviet Union.
1959   President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Khrushchev begin Camp David talks.
1974   Scientists warn that continued use of aerosol sprays will cause ozone depletion, which will lead to an increased risk of skin cancer and global weather changes.
1981   Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, is sworn in.

Non Sequitur


Air Force One

You've heard of Air Force One, but what do you really know about it? Here's a short history of what's now considered the "flying White House."

Nowadays we take for granted that traveling around the world is part of the president's job. But that wasn't always the case: As late as the 1930s, it was considered the president's duty not to leave the country -he was expected to remain on U.S. soil for his entire term of office ...and wasn't even supposed to stray far from Washington, D.C. This tradition was left over from the pre-telephone age, when the only way a president could command the government on a moment's notice in an emergency was to be physically in or near the nation's capital at all times. Leaving town literally meant leaving power, and presidents aren't supposed to do that. For the first 130 years of the Republic, not a single American president left the United States while in office, not even once. (Well, okay, once. Grover Cleveland briefly sailed across the U.S.-Canada border back in the 1890s.)

So in January 1943, when Franklin Roosevelt flew to North Africa to meet with Winston Churchill and plan the Allied invasion of Southern Europe, he became only the third president to go overseas (the others: cousin Teddy Roosevelt inspected the Panama Canal in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson attended the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I).
FDR hated airplanes, but German submarines were patrolling the Atlantic and sinking American ships, so the Secret Service forbade him from traveling by sea. He flew in a chartered PanAm Flying Boat seaplane called the Dixie Clipper. That changed everything.
When FDR's historic trip became publicized weeks later, it turned out to be an important psychological boost not just for the war effort, but also for the fledgling airline industry. If it was safe enough for President Roosevelt to fly during the war, people reasoned, it would be safe enough for anyone to fly in times of peace. Furthermore, Americans realized that with planes, the president could travel almost anywhere in the world in a matter of days and return just as quickly if need be. And thank to radio and telephone communications, it was possible to remain in fairly close contact with the government at all times. Within weeks of Roosevelt's historic journey, the U.S. Army Air Corps (precursor to the Air Force) began making plans to provide a custom-made plane for the president's exclusive use. Since then, each president has had an official plane, and today the president's airplane is considered an extension of the White House.
* Technically speaking, although there is a special presidential airplane, it doesn't have the radio call sign Air Force One. The call sign is attached to the president himself; it is given to whatever Air Force plane in which he happens to be flying. Likewise, any plane in which the vice-president flies is known as Air Force Two.
* In fact, before JFK, each presidential aircraft had its own name: President Roosevelt's plane was nicknamed the "Sacred Cow" by the White House Press Corps; President Truman's plane was the Independence (Truman named it himself, out of fear that it might otherwise become the "Sacred Cow II"); and president Eisenhower's was the Columbine.
* Then in 1962, President Kennedy took delivery of a Boeing 707, the first presidential jet airplane ...and never bothered to name it. With no other name to go by, the media began referring to the plane by its call sign. The term Air Force One has been used for presidential aircraft ever since.
* In 1971 Richard Nixon renamed his plane The Spirit of '76 in advance of the U.S. Bicentennial, but the name never took hold.
trumans plane
One of the perks of being president is that you get to have Air Force One remodeled to suit your own tastes. President Truman had his plane painted to look like a giant eagle, with stylized blue feathers, cockpit windows that looked like eyes, and a nose painted to look like a big brown beak. (The nose was later repainted yellow, out of fear the White House Press Corps might nickname the plane "Brown Nose.")
johnson* President Lyndon Johnson had all of the passenger seats unbolted and turned around so that they faced the rear of the plane -toward his compartment. He also ripped out the cherry wood divider separating his compartment from the rest of the plane and replaced it with clear Plexiglass, Jerry Ter Horst writes in The Flying White House, "so that he could keep an eye on everybody -and they on him."
* LBJ also installed a secret taping system, which, ironically, President Noxon ordered removed after he took office.
The most extensive makeover for Air Force One came in the late 1950s and was proposed by Allen Dulles, director of the CIA. Not long after he inaugurated the super-secret, high-altitude U2 spy plane program, Dulles proposed outfitting the president's airplane with hidden spy cameras for an upcoming trip to the Sovet Union.
Unlike U2 spy planes, which flew at altitudes as high as 70,000 feet, President Eisenhower's plane would be flying under 5,000 feet, and was the only Western aircraft allowed into Russian airspace. Why not take advantage of the trip to take much closer pictures of Soviet defenses?
Whether or not Eisenhower was informed of the plan (many historians suspect he wasn't), it was approved, and his aircraft was fitted with a camera inside a hidden compartment in the fuselage. The controls were carefully disguised to look like the co-pilot's fresh-air vent, so that they would be undetectable even if a Soviet pilot was riding shotgun in the cockpit.
The cameras on board the presidential plane might well have provided the U.S. with the biggest intelligence coup of the Cold War ...had they ever been put to use. But they weren't- on May 1, 1960, pilot Gary Francis Powers was shot down in his U2 spy plane over Soviet airspace, and Nikita Khrushchev used the incident to scuttle Eisenhower's visit to the USSR. The cameras were removed when John F. Kennedy was elected president.
carter* Stealing objects stamped with the presidential seal has long been one of the perks of being invited to fly aboard Air Force One. Still, not every president has approved: President Carter was so offended by the practice that he ordered the plane's expensive engraved crystal ashtrays, candy dishes, and wine glasses removed and had them replaced with plastic containers and paper cups.
* Lyndon Johnson took the opposite approach -he filled the plane with expensive trinkets so that his guests would have something to steal. "It was useful to him to have people brag about flying with LBJ -and to have a souvenir with which to prove it," one aide remembers.
* True to form, when LBJ returned home to Texas on his last official trip aboard Air Force One, he reportedly stole everything that wasn't nailed down ...and a few items that were, recalls pilot Ralph Albertazzie:
When I took over the plane after it came back from Texas, I found an empty larder. We had no presidential china, no Air Force One silverware, no Air Force One cigarettes, no cocktail napkins, no towels -not even any paper products like toilet tissue. They were all gone. Even LBJ's special executive chair -the one we called "the throne"- was unbolted from the floor and taken away. The presidential stateroom was bare of pillows, blankets, and everything else that bore the presidential seal. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Daily Comic Relief

Mitt Romney upset that airplane windows don't open

Because apparently he's never watched a movie or TV show in his entire life.

I meant to write about this earlier today, but was busy dealing with more serious news.  Still, what is this guy thinking?  He's a walking gaffe-machine of late.

In his latest, Romney was talking about his wife's aircraft that had some serious trouble last Friday with an electrical malfunction and had to conduct an emergency landing.

From the LA Times:
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”
As HuffPo points out, Romney has his facts slightly off:
The main reason airplane windows don't open is because there isn't enough oxygen at cruising altitude to keep passengers alive. (The fear of window or cabin failures, which would lead to potentially fatal hypoxia, is why many planes are equipped with emergency oxygen masks.)

"You can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open," Romney told the Times, suggesting that additional oxygen in the cabin during the electrical malfunction could've alleviated the problem. In fact, if there were an electrical fire on board, additional oxygen would have fed the flames.
Here's another reason the windows don't open at 40,000 feet: Because you're traveling at 550 miles per hour, which can slam a window awfully hard on your finger (in addition to ripping the window right off). Another reason, the air temperature is 70F below zero, which might give the passengers a slight chill when the guy in front of you refuses to close his window and the 500 mile per hour -70F wind is blowing in Mrs. Romney's face.  (Then there's the air pressure differential...)

How did Mitt Romney not know any of this?  I had to look at the exact temperature but I knew it was below -40F.  I also knew the cruising speed was around 500pm, and that the air pressure was pretty darn low up there in space where there isn't much oxygen to start with.

What was Romney thinking to even say something this dumb?  I'm increasingly thinking that the man is not the brightest bulb.

Did Romney close his Swiss account to evade prosecution?

As I mentioned the other day, there are so many unanswered questions about Mitt Romney's taxes.

One issue that is increasingly being asked is whether Mitt Romney closed his Swiss bank account at UBS to avoid serious prosecution for avoiding taxes.

UBS reached a settlement with the IRS for nearly $800 million for their role in helping rich Americans avoid paying US taxes. Following the settlement, the IRS announced an amnesty period for Americans who may have been hiding money at UBS, and thousands came forward.

It's still not clear whether Mitt Romney participated in that amnesty period, but what we do now know is that he no longer has a Swiss bank account with UBS as of 2010. The timing is certainly interesting. 

Because Romney won't release full details of his taxes, and instead only released a pile of documents signed by PWC and lawyers, we can't say for sure whether he hid millions in Switzerland or not.

Paul Abrams at the Huffington Post has been following this closely for a while now and has made a list of the circumstantial evidence that points towards Romney participating in the amnesty program. Romney is only answering questions via email about his taxes and of course, he's not answering any questions about amnesty.

Huffington Post:
To review, here is the circumstantial evidence:
i) Romney closed ONLY his Swiss UBS Account, not Caymans or Bermuda or Luxembourg. Hence, he cannot claim "bad optics for a campaign" as the alternative explanation;
ii) Romney closed the UBS account during the time required to receive amnesty;
iii) Romney omitted from his public disclosure of his 2010 returns the specific information about the UBS account;
iv) Romney took six extra months to prepare his 2011 returns, disclosing them in the countdown to the election, whereas he could have disclosed 2009 immediately with 2010, getting all that bad news out at once, during the primary, so that it would be ancient history by now. That is strong evidence that 2009, that would have shown the amnesty with flashing lights, was too toxic.
Someone in the traditional media needs to ask Mitt Romney directly whether he did or did not close his Swiss bank account during the amnesty program. But they also need to demand that he release the full details of his taxes like every other candidate for president in modern times.

Let's not forget that Mitt Romney saw the assassination of an ambassador as an "opportunity"

The Romney campaign is doing another of its now-infamous Hail Mary foreign policy throws today.

This time in an attempt to undercut the United States on the day before the President speaks at a huge meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York.

Rather than lob bombs from the west coast, where Mitt Romney today accused Californians of being socialists, the repugican candidate should fly to New York and let himself be heard in person.  Just imagine the efficacy of being able to insult nearly 80 heads of state and government ministers in one fell swoop.

And when Mitt Romney suggests that President Obama doesn't care about the death of a US ambassador, don't forget what Mitt Romney said about that death - the Romney campaign said it was an opportunity.  His staff was elated.  They saw the death of an American, a foreign policy crisis, as an "opportunity."  I wonder if our dead ambassador's family agrees with Mitt Romney that the murder of their family member was an opportunity?

Keep in mind that Mitt Romney also called the Iran hostage crisis in 1980 an "opportunity."  And that he was keeping his eyes out for another "opportunity" for Americans' lives to be threatened.

Republicans can't win on the facts, as facts have a liberal bias.  So they have to lie and fight dirty.  The only problem for them is that their candidate stinks.  Heck, he's not even a Republican.  And all the lies, and flip-flops, are finally coming home to roost.  So as Mitt Romney's popularity drops like a stone all they have left is what they started the campaign with, lies.

Fortunately for us, Mitt Romney doesn't know when to shut up.

Is Romney preparing for a new war in the Middle East?

Or, is he just trying to show the repugicans that he can be a tough guy like the shrub? Either way, the end result is not very good. If he thinks people want yet another costly war that will never end in the Middle East, he's sadly mistaken. Americans that actually watch their own budget are fed up with spending billions upon billions for unnecessary wars that the political class imagines are needed.

If Romney is trying to have a "I have a big penis" moment in order to win over the many repugicans who don't like him or trust him (like the NASCAR voters who now prefer Obama), he's failing to see how dangerous the war talk really is. By promoting another expensive war it only shows how ill prepared he is to lead. Romney's pro-war talk is not productive for any reason.
President Barack Obama hit back hard in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast Sunday at Mitt Romney's criticisms of his handling of Syria and Iran, saying that if the repugican standard-bearer "is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so."

Obama also brushed aside talk that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressuring him to take a harder line on Iran's suspicious nuclear program — source of some of Romney's sharpest campaign-trail criticisms.

"When it comes to our national security decisions-- any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there," the president said.

Romney endorses "socialism" on 60 Minutes in yet another flip-flop

You can only flip flop so much before you start tripping up badly.

Mitt Romney's latest? He just endorsed "socialism" last night. Which probably won't go over too well with the repugican base two days after Romney declared in his federal tax forms that to him America was a "foreign country."

You see, five years ago Mitt Romney told Glenn Beck that letting the uninsured get free health care via emergency rooms (which is what our country does) is "socialism.
"And in a 2007 interview with Glenn Beck, Romney called the fact that people without insurance were able to get "free care" in emergency rooms "a form of socialism."

"When they show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that's not a form of socialism, I don't know what is," he said at the time.
As HuffPost notes, Romney was singing a completely different tune last night on 60 Minutes:
Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.

"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."
So the new "conservative" Mitt Romney is now in favor of "socialism."

I seem to remember, during the health care reform debate, hearing that we pay four times as much for people to go to emergency rooms than what we'd pay if we simply helped them get insurance, government or otherwise.

So, Romney isn't entirely wrong. It is a form of socialized medicine having the government insure health care for everyone who's uninsured. They do it in Israel, and Romney praised that only a few months ago.

But in America, all you have to do is use a dirty word to describe thing - preferably the word socialist or communist - and everyone screams in horror, even though they don't usually understand what socialism even is, or what the thing is that's being compared to socialism (ask the average American to name three things that the dreaded Obamacare actually does - good luck getting two).

But back to emergency rooms, they're expensive as hell in this country, and hardly a suitable alternative to health insurance. In France, you pay around 27 euros or so for an emergency room visit - that's about 35 US dollars. And if you have a medical procedure, they charge you more. But unlike the US, they don't nickel and dime you to death by charging you for every doctor, and every aspirin, separately. It's one flat rate, and the procedure is another flat rate.

In the US, you pay for everything, and you pay a LOT. I believe I read the average American emergency room visit costs around $1000. (That's 770 euros, for you foreigners.) And that's just walking in the door. The price goes up quickly from there.

Were emergency room visits to cost only $35 a person, then I might be more inclined to the Romney point of view (though how do you manage diabetes with regular emergency room visits - and at that point, it's no longer an "emergency" room if we're expecting people to go there regularly for non-emergencies - we might as well skip the facade and admit we have nationalized health care and pay 1/4 of the price we pay today).

I was recently in a US emergency room for more eye troubles on a recent weekend (I was concerned I might have another retinal tear, or worse), and I shudder at the bills I'm going to receive.  I also still shudder at the care I did receive from the 1st year resident who didn't appear to have a lot of hands-on experience dealing with actual living human eyeballs (my eye hurt for a week after).  (My eye is fine.  It did have a small tear, that the resident didn't see - my doc, who was willing to see me on a Sunday morning, did see it, and fixed it.)

We're #1.

Romney slams California as socialist, while campaigning in California

At this point, the Obama campaign doesn't even need to run negative ads.  They only need to hand Mitt Romney a microphone and start recording.
Besides not caring about 47% of the US population, Mitt Romney also doesn't think much of the most populous state in the US. Mitt Romney really has a problem with many Americans which is maybe why he listed the US as a foreign country on his US tax returns.

And now Mitt thinks California is a bit too "Europeans" - which in repugican-land means "socialist" (which really means "communist").  The rnc chair was taken down by Chris Matthews a month or so ago for pushing the "Obama is foreign/European," aka socialist (in addition to it being a racial insult that blacks aren't real "anglo-saxons" like the rest of us (who mostly aren't anglo-saxons either)).

And while it's one thing for Romney to think California is socialist, it's another for him to admit it, and put at risk California's 55 electoral votes, and it's absolutely insanity to admit it while he's campaigning in California.

Who will Mitt Romney offend next?
The repugican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney came to the Golden State for a two-day series of high-profile fundraisers and reportedly took a shot at California in front of a $25,000 a ticket crowd in Del Mar.

Romney “took a pretty big shot at California,” according to a pool reporter.

“He said that under President Obama we’re becoming a lot more European and that the state of California was something he didn’t want to see the rest of the U.S. look like in a few years,” a pool reporter related.

Fact-checkers find Romney/repucican cabal lie twice as much as Democrats

Facts have a liberal bias.  And lies have a conservative one.

This study is from George Mason University, a lesser college in the Washington, DC area that is known as a hotbed of conservative activism.  So take anything you ever hear from "GMU" with a huge grain of salt.  Often there's a conservative bias, and funding stream, underlying folks from that university.

This study, by the self-proclaimed non-partisan "Center for Media and Public Affairs" - which has been accused of conservative ties in the past - finds that media fact-checkers found Mitt Romney and the repugicans lied twice as much as Democrats.  It's some coincidence that the study came out just a few weeks after the repugican cabal collectively decided that it's time to start tearing down fact-checkers.

In any case, the study found that the fact-checkers rated Romney and the repugicans liars twice as much as they rated Dems as liars. While conservatives will surely say this is a sign of the fact-checkers' inherent bias, it's just as likely that fact-checkers are finding twice as often that the repugican lies because the repugican cabal lies twice as often as Democrats do.

From the study:
The study examined 98 election-related statements by the presidential candidates, their surrogates, and campaign ads fact-checked by PolitiFact.com from June 1 to September 11. Major findings:

PolitiFact checked the assertions of Democrats slightly more often than those of repugicans (54% vs. 46% of all statements).

However, PolitiFact rated Democratic statements as “mostly true” or “entirely true” about twice as often as Republican statements -- 42% true ratings for Democrats vs. 20% for repugicans.

Conversely, statements by repugicans were rated as entirely false about twice as often as Democratic statements – 29% false ratings for repugican statements vs. 15% false ratings for Democrats. (This includes categories labeled “false” and “pants on fire.”)

The same pattern holds for statements made directly by the presidential candidates and their campaigns. A majority of the Obama campaign’s statements (55%) were rated as true or mostly true, compared to one out of four statements (26%) by the Romney campaign.

The difference is even greater at the other end of the spectrum, where 26% of the Romney campaign’s statements were rated as either false or “pants on fire,” compared to only 5% of the Obama campaign’s statements.
Get ready for repugicans to, coincidentally all in unison, denounce the fact-checkers, in a massive playing of the refs designed to push fact-checkers further to the right.  But the larger point remains: What are fact-checkers to do if "hypothetically" one party is taken over by extremists who have decided that the only way they can win is to lie?

I think back to 2004 when pundit/journalist Mark Halperin, who was then with ABC, wrote a famous memo in which he warned ABC staff not to simply assume that both sides in the 2004 presidential race were being equally dishonest.
In October 2004 the Drudge Report published a memo Halperin sent to ABC News staff about coverage of the U.S. presidential election directing them not to "reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable" and that both John Kerry and George W. Bush used "distortion" in their campaign, but that Kerry’s distortions were not "central to his efforts to win."[8] Halperin was criticized by conservatives who used the memo to reinforce long-standing complaints of media bias.
Wingnuts had a conniption fit. But what if Halperin was right. Or more to the point, why should we assume necessarily that Halperin was wrong? Why is it impossible that one political party, one presidential candidate, could lie more than the other?

If we're willing to believe, and we do, that some candidates pulled their punches and were "too nice" during their campaigns, then why wouldn't the opposite also be true, that some candidates are too negative, and too willing to lie?

Mitt Romney's first ad of his presidential campaign was a lie about President Obama (that was the infamous ad in which Romney took Obama quoting McCain and made it look like Obama had come up with the quote himself). Obama didn't do the same for his first ad.

Mitt Romney chose to devote his entire convention to a lie, "you didn't build it." Barack Obama's convention theme was "bringing Americans together."

Mitt Romney is now, yet again, suggesting that the foreign-seeming Barack Obama is a socialist (he's using the code-phrase "redistribution of wealth"). When has President Obama suggested anything equally offensive about Mitt Romney?

Some people are more dishonest than others. And some of them run for President.

The repugican state voting laws "will disenfranchise 10,000,000 Hispanic US citizens"

Today, a civil rights group called Advancement Project will publish a report on the new voting laws passed in 23 repugican-led states. The report (not named in Patricia Zengerle's Reuters article and not yet up on the Advancement Project site) claims that 10,000,000 Hispanic voters will be disenfranchised by the new laws, which place hurdles between voters and the ballot box, such as presenting certain types of ID. The rubric for these laws has been that "everyone" has the types of ID specified in the statutes, and the common refrain in response to critics is "Who doesn't have a [driver's license|passport|non-driver ID|etc]?" The Advancement Project's point appears to be that these specific 10 million citizens, who are otherwise legally entitled to vote, don't have the necessary papers or can't meet the qualifiers imposed by the state governments.
According to Reuters, national polls show 70 percent or more support for Obama among Hispanic voters.
The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.
Laws in effect in one state and pending in two others require proof of citizenship for voter registration. That imposes onerous and sometimes expensive documentation requirements on voters, especially targeting naturalized American citizens, many of whom are Latino, the liberal group said.
Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification, it said.

State repugican election chiefs look for voter fraud but so far are finding little evidence of any

State repugican election officials who promised to root out voter fraud so far are finding little evidence of a widespread problem.
State officials in key presidential battleground states have found only a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected existed. Searches in Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state.
Democrats say the searches waste time and, worse, could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks.
"I find it offensive that I'm being required to do more than any other citizen to prove that I can vote," said Samantha Meiring, 37, a Colorado voter and South African immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2010. Meiring was among 3,903 registered voters who received letters last month from the Colorado Secretary of State's office questioning their right to vote.
Especially telling, critics of the searches say, is that the efforts are focused on crucial swing states from Colorado to Florida, where both political parties and the presidential campaigns are watching every vote. And in Colorado, most of those who received letters are either Democrats or unaffiliated with a party. It's a similar story in Florida, too.
The repugicans argue that voting fraud is no small affair, even if the cases are few, when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes.
"We have real vulnerabilities in the system," said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a repugican elected in 2010 who is making a name for himself at home by pursuing the issue. "I don't think one should be saying the sky is falling, but at the same time, we have to recognize we have a serious vulnerability."
The different viewpoints underscore a divide between the parties: Are the small numbers of voting fraud evidence that a problem exists? Or do they show that the voter registration system works?
Last year, Gessler estimated that 11,805 noncitizens were on the rolls.
But the number kept getting smaller.
After his office sent letters to 3,903 registered voters questioning their status, the number of noncitizens now stands at 141, based on checks using a federal immigration database. Of those 141, Gessler said 35 have voted in the past. The 141 are .004 percent of the state's nearly 3.5 million voters.
Even those numbers could be fewer.
The Denver clerk and recorder's office, which had records on eight of the 35 voters who cast ballots in the past, did its own verification and found that those eight people appear to be citizens.
Kevin Biln, an Adams County resident on the list, said he didn't know he was registered and maintains that he's never voted. Another voter on the list, Erica Zelfand, a Canadian immigrant, said she's a U.S. citizen no longer living in Colorado. Robert Giron said he was furious that the 20-year-old daughter he adopted from Mexico was listed as having illegally voted. He said she went to the Denver clerk's office with her U.S. passport and other documents to prove her eligibility to vote.
To Pam Anderson, the clerk and recorder in Jefferson County in suburban Denver, the investigation proves what's already been her experience: Cases of noncitizens on the rolls are extremely rare.
Anderson said the fighting between the political parties over the perception of voter fraud also has less tangible consequences.
"It impacts people's confidence in elections, which is extraordinarily important," she said.
Florida's search began after the state's Division of Elections said that as many as 180,000 registered voters weren't citizens. Like Colorado and other states, Florida relied on driver's license data showing that people on the rolls at one point showed proof of non-citizenship, such as a green card.
Florida eventually narrowed its list of suspected noncitizens to 2,600 and found that 207 of them weren't citizens, based on its use of the federal database called SAVE, or the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. The system tracks who is a legal resident eligible to receive government benefits.
Of the 2,600 initially marked as possible noncitizens, about 38 percent were unaffiliated voters and 40 percent were Democrats, according to an analysis by The Miami Herald.
The state has more than 11.4 million registered voters, so the 207 amounts to .001 percent of the voter roll.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a repugican, said in a statement that the initiative "is already proving to be a successful process to identify illegally registered voters," which he noted is crucial in a state where the 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes.
In North Carolina, the nonpartisan state elections board last year sent letters to 637 suspected noncitizens after checking driver's license data. Of those, 223 responded showing proof they were citizens, and 79 acknowledged they weren't citizens and were removed from the rolls along with another 331 who didn't respond to repeated letters, said Veronica Degraffenreid, an elections liaison for the board.
She said the board did not find evidence of widespread fraud, noting there were only 12 instances in which a noncitizen had voted. North Carolina has 6.4 million voters.
"What we're finding is there is strong indication that the voter rolls in North Carolina are sound," Degraffenreid said.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a repugican, last week estimated that as many as 4,000 noncitizens are on the state's voter roll.
The department said it verified 1,000 registered voters who are noncitizens, based on an analysis of about 20 percent of complete citizenship data. She extrapolated the 4,000 number from the most recent U.S. Census' five-year American Community Survey, which showed Michigan has a noncitizen population of about 304,000.
That's as far as the investigation has gone. The figures have not been verified.
Ohio and Iowa, both with recently elected repugican secretaries of state, also are negotiating with the federal government to also use the SAVE database to verify citizenship, although it's unlikely they'll have enough time to do anything before the Nov. 6 election. While Ohio doesn't have a list of names it wants to check, Iowa is looking at verifying the status of 3,500 registered voters.
Last week, Iowa's Division of Criminal Investigation filed election misconduct charges against three noncitizens who voted in gubernatorial and city elections in 2010 and 2011. Among the three are Canadians who told investigators they thought they were only barred from voting in presidential elections.
The three were on a list of about 1,000 names of potential noncitizens who had voted since 2010, which Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz forwarded to the Division of Criminal Investigation.
Early voting in Iowa begins Thursday and Schultz recently told legislators that his office wants to use the information from the federal database "in a responsible manner."
"When somebody casts a ballot you can't un-ring that bell," he said. "If somebody is ineligible to vote and they cast a ballot that's been counted we can't take that back. This is an important election coming up."

Did you know ...

About Mitt Romney, class warrior

Just what's the fracking problem with natural gas?

The mormon cult wants to ex-communicate blogger critical of Romney

Germany celebrates 200 years of fairy tales with a 600 m brothers Grimm forest walk

Wingnut fund considers backing Missouri reptile Akin

Missouri Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., smiles at left as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during news conference, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Kirkwood, Mo. Akin is seeking to unseat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. in the November election. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) 

A wingnut fundraising group that had shied away from Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is now seriously considering whether to come to the embattled repugican's aid in his challenge to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, an official with the group said Monday.
The Senate wingnuts Fund, which has raised more than $11 million for other repugican Senate candidates, could provide a much-needed financial boost for Akin, who is facing a Tuesday deadline on whether to stay in the race. Akin vowed again Monday to remain in the contest. Appearing at a Kirkwood, Mo., rally with former presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, Akin said there had been discussions with the super PAC but no official agreement on aiding him.
The group previously had shied away from Akin, in part, because of his past use of spending earmarks
to direct federal money to specific local projects. Earmarks now are banned in the repugican-controlled House, and Senate repugicans have voted not to use them.
In the primary, Akin aired an ad that touted a life saved by federal funding that some considered an earmark. But in a statement to The Associated Press last week, Akin said he backs a prohibition on earmarks in some circumstances.
"I support a ban on earmarks that are inserted in the dark of night or that are used by party leaders to buy support for their wasteful spending bills," Akin said in the written statement. "However, I want to make sure that Congress does its constitutional duty and retains the power of the purse rather than giving unelected bureaucrats all the power in Washington, D.C."
McCaskill, a vocal opponent of earmarks, suggested Akin had changed his position on earmarks in attempt to get campaign cash.
Akin's campaign is hoping to capitalize financially this week by demonstrating his resolve to remain in the race despite calls by some top repugicans that he quit after making inflammatory remarks about rape and pregnancy.
"There's no poll that shows this race is impossible," Gingrich said Monday. "I believe by mid-October all of them (repugican supporters) will be in."
Tuesday is the deadline for Missouri candidates to get a court order if they wish to drop out of the race. Akin has other plans for the day — a campaign bus tour.
The repugican leaders are not expected to pitch in. But Akin could get some other help, from a political action committee built in part by tea party horse's-ass Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
The Senate Conservatives Fund had remained neutral in Missouri's repugican Senate primary, which Akin won in early August. But since then, Akin has discussed and clarified his position on earmarks with the organization, one official said.
"Our understanding is he supports an earmark ban," Matt Hoskins, director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said Monday.
The organization supports a ban or moratorium on earmarks that use legislation to direct a specific amount of money for a specific purpose in a certain state or congressional district.
Akin denied Monday that he had flip-flopped.
"The thing that makes it tricky for people to follow is there are a lot of different definitions," Akin said. "What I am totally against are things that are done in the dark of night, there's been no legislative approval and they're special deals for people."
He added: "The question is when you get into just plain amendments that have gone through subcommittees and committees and things like that, as long as those are not directed to any particular company ... those are things that, as we've talked to DeMint, we're exactly on the same page using the same definition. So there's been no change in our position. And no change in his position either."
Hoskins said the group is looking "very seriously" at supporting Akin, because it appears he will not drop out, still has a good shot at defeating McCaskill and generally aligns ideologically with the organization.
Akin has apologized repeatedly since a TV interview aired Aug. 19 in which he suggested that women's bodies have a natural defense against pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." After that remark, Akin lost the financial support of the repugican national cabal, the repugican senators' political committee and the deep-pocketed Crossroads group affiliated with repugican strategist Karl Rove. That nixed millions of dollars of planned TV advertising.
Since then, Akin has raised nearly $600,000 through a small-dollar, online appeal that has cast his candidacy as an anti-establishment crusade against both repugican cabal bosses and President Barack Obama's administration.
During the primary, Akin had been criticized by repugican rivals for supporting earmarks. Akin responded with a TV ad in which the wife of a military veteran said her husband's life was saved by a newly armored Humvee financed at Akin's initiative through "what some call earmarks."
McCaskill has co-sponsored legislation with DeMint to ban earmarks, and her position has often put her at odds with her own party's leadership.
McCaskill's campaign suggested that Akin has shifted his views on earmarks in hopes of getting money for his Senate campaign.
"What kind of Washington politician runs an ad defending earmarks in the primary, then two months later, turns around and changes his position on a dime, for a dime? This is exactly the kind of transactional politics that makes people sick," said McCaskill spokesman Caitlin Legacki.

Murdoch's disgraced son promoted to prime job at Faux

Among the super rich, you can't screw up enough to get a demotion.
Whether it's Wall Street getting massive bonuses after destroying the banking system, and the entire economy, or Mitt Romney's own team who were just paid nearly a quarter of a million in bonuses for getting Romney into last place, or of course the Bush team who never faced the music for ignoring the pre-9/11 warnings, there are different rules for this class.

It's hard to believe that they still think of themselves as victims.

Rupert Murdoch's son James, who slipped out of the UK in disgrace following the extensive phone-hacking scandal, now has a plum position at Faux.

When you are as rich as the Murdoch family, the norms that apply to everyone else do not apply to you. They write their own rules while thumbing their nose at everyone else.
James Murdoch will be given more responsibility over News Corp's U.S. television operations more than a year after he became a central figure in the company's telephone hacking scandal in the UK, two sources familiar with the matter said.

News of the promotion comes on the heels of a ruling earlier on Thursday by a UK regulator that appears to have cleared pay-TV company BSkyB of any connection to the scandal that tainted News Corp last year.

The 39-year-old son of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch will be given a larger, more operational role in the Faux Networks Group, which oversees Faux's broadcast network and its cable channels that include FX, National Geographic and Fox sports channels, according to two people with knowledge of the move.

Austerity ...

The truth hurts

Belarus elects entirely pro-government parliament

By Yuras Karmanau
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. Belarus is holding parliamentary elections Sunday without the main opposition parties, which boycotted the vote to protest the detention of political prisoners and opportunities for election fraud. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) International observers on Monday condemned a weekend vote in Belarus in which not a single opposition politician won a parliament seat. The election looks set to deepen the former Soviet nation's diplomatic isolation.
Critics also said the 74.3 percent turnout reported Monday by the country's Central Elections Commission chairman
was way too high and indicated widespread fraud.
The main opposition parties, which were ignored by state-run media, boycotted the election to protest the detention of political prisoners
and the ample opportunities for election fraud.
The vote filled parliament with representatives of the three parties that have backed the policies of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko

"This election was not competitive from the start," said Matteo Mecacci, leader of the observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "A free election depends on people being free to speak, organize and run for office, and we didn't see that in this campaign."
Belarus' parliament has long been considered a rubber-stamp body for Lukashenko
's policies. He has ruled Belarus since 1994 and Western observers have criticized all recent elections there as undemocratic. Local independent observers estimated the overall turnout as being almost 19 percent lower than the official 74.3 percent figure.
"Belarus gets ever closer to the worst standards of Soviet elections," said Valentin Stefanovich, coordinator of the Rights Activists for Free Elections
group. At least 20 independent election observers were detained, according to rights activists.
Political analyst Leonid Zaiko said the way the elections were held highlighted Lukashenko's desire to prepare for another beckoning economic crisis.
"He plans to control the situation with an iron fist. He has no time for any opposition, not on the street and certainly not in parliament," Zaiko said.
Lukashenko's landslide win in the 2010 presidential election triggered a mass street protest against election fraud that was brutally suppressed. Some of the 700 people arrested at that protest are still in jail, including presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich.
Opposition politicians have cautioned supporters to refrain from holding protest rallies this time.
The opposition had hoped to use this election to build support, but 33 of 35 candidates from the United Civil Party
were barred from television, while the state-owned press refused to publish their election programs.
The United Civil Party and another leading opposition party, the Belarusian Popular Front, pulled their candidates off the ballot and urged voters not to show up at the polls a week before the election.
The United States
and the European Union have imposed economic and travel sanctions on the Belarusian government over its crackdown on opposition groups and independent news media.
"The aim of giving President Lukashenko's regime the appearance of democratic legitimacy has clearly failed," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. "In view of the glaring irregularities in these elections, it is clearly visible for everyone what Belarus is today: the last dictatorship in the heart of Europe."
Westerwelle said Germany
and its European partners would step up their efforts to push for the release of political prisoners and isolate Lukashenko and his regime.
EU foreign ministers hold talks in Brussels next month on political freedom in Belarus. They are expected to consider possible revisions to sanctions against the country aimed at more specifically targeting those in the leadership deemed responsible for the political crackdown.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule lamented that "the elections took place against the background of an overall climate of repression and intimidation" and described it as "yet another missed opportunity to conduct elections in line with international standards in Belarus."

Pinochet 2.0

US economist talks Honduras' military dictator into establishing a private city owned and regulated by offshore corporations 

Honduran president Porfirio Lobo came to power in a military coup and presides over the most murderous nation on earth. Now he has announced hastily assembled plans to desginate a region in his country to be a "charter city," owned and operated by offshore corporations, a plan inspired by a Chicago-trained economist called Paul Romer from NYU's business-school. The city will have all its laws -- labor laws, environmental laws, criminal codes, civil codes -- set by a private corporation that is unaccountable to anyone except its shareholders, to whom it will owe a duty of maximum profit. Honduran activists have attempted unsuccessfully to have the nation's supreme court hear their case, which rests on the legality of ceding governance over sovereign territory to foreign powers, and on indigenous land claims.
Critics say it will allow a foreign elite to set up a low-tax, sympathetically regulated enclave where they can skirt labour standards and environmental rules.
"This would violate the rights of every citizen because it means the cession of part of our territory to a city that would have its own police, its own juridical power, and its own tax system," said Sandra Marybel Sanchez, who joined a group of protesters who tried to lodge an appeal at the supreme court.
Ismael Moreno, a correspondent for the leftwing Nicaraguan magazine Envio, compared the charter cities to the banana enclaves, which were run on behalf of a foreign elite. He also spelled out the environmental risks, particularly if one of the development sites is the Sico valley, an area of virgin forest on the Mosquito Coast.
"This model city would end up eliminating the last agricultural frontier left to us," he wrote.
Chicago's economists have a grand tradition of helping military dictators establish unregulated zones where human rights take a backseat to profit, including their enormous contributions to Augusto Pinochet's murderous regime, which established the fundamental kinship between high profits and death squads.
Honduras to build new city with its own laws and tax system to attract investors [The Guardian]
'Catastrophe': Critics Slam Neoliberal Plan for Privatized Cities in Honduras [CommonDreams]

Why Immigrant Children Do Better in School

A large study by Johns Hopkins University confirmed what many of us have known for a long time: children who immigrate the United States with their families tend to do better in school, and when they grow up, their children are also likely to do better.
That may fit a pattern some Americans see of so many kids from Asia who excel in everything from music to science as they embrace a new culture. But it holds for all immigrants, including those from Mexico who often arrive here in a desperate flight from poverty.
It doesn't mean that a poor kid who arrives here as a preteen will do better than an American kid from a wealthy family that values education, of course. But compared to an American youth with a similar background, the immigrant will have certain advantages.
"They have higher expectations, they make a higher effort, and they have better cultural tools," sociologist Lingxin Hao, lead author of the study, said in a telephone interview. "Their culture is not just American."
They have the experience of living their first years in a very different culture, "so they have cultural diversity and they are able to take the best part of both and use it while in school," she added. That will continue to help them transition into adulthood.
The study indicates the immigrants are more likely to succeed because they arrived here with high expectations, their parents expect them to work harder, and it's likely they will have a stronger relationship than their American peers with their teachers.
But like the famed Chinese proverb about wealth not lasting three generations, all that academic advantage evaporates for their grandchildren. Lee Dye of ABC News has the story: here.

Many young cancer survivors don't get followup care due to costs

A new study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, shows that many survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers don't get the routine medical care they need after basic treatment because it's too expensive—even though most of them have health insurance. Translation: in America, even when you have insurance, cancer is financially devastating. So much so that young survivors (= teens through thirties) tend to not get the followup care they need to continue surviving.

Random Photo



Royal Collection buys Warhol portraits of queen

Four Andy Warhol portraits of Queen Elizabeth II are seen in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England.

The Average Football Game Has Only 11 Minutes of Action

Does it seem like there's not much going on during the typical NFL game broadcast? That's because out of an average of 174 minutes, the ball is in play only 11 minutes:
In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.
So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. In the four broadcasts The Journal studied, injured players got six more seconds of camera time than celebrating players. While the network announcers showed up on screen for just 30 seconds, shots of the head coaches and referees took up about 7% of the average show.

The Classics


1968 Fastback Ford Mustang. Candy-apple red. Yum.

Police officer fatally shot wheelchair-bound one-armed, one-legged man 'armed' with a pen

A schizophrenic double amputee waving a pen from his wheelchair was fatally shot early on Saturday by a Houston, Texas, police officer, authorities said. Police were called to the personal care home at around 2 a.m. because resident Brian Claunch had become agitated after his caretaker refused to give him a soda and a cigarette, said John Garcia, the owner of the home.

"He was approaching them aggressively," said Houston Police Department spokes­woman Jodi Silva. "He was attempting to stab them with what is now found to be a pen." Claunch, who had been living at the home for the past 18 months with two other men, ignored officers' commands and made threats against them and other occupants of the home, Garcia said the caretaker told him.

Claunch trapped one of the officers in a corner, authorities said. Matthew Marin, a five-year HPD veteran, fired his weapon at least one time, fearing for his partner's safety and his own, Silva said. Claunch died at the scene. Claunch, who was in his mid-forties, lost his right leg to just above the knee and all of his right arm when he was hit by a train. He arrived at the personal care home more than a year ago, as part of a placement by the Harris County guardianship program.

Garcia said Claunch liked to "doodle" and two days ago he had given him a black felt pen to draw with. Garcia said he was not sure if it was that pen or another one that Claunch was waving at the time of the incident. As is standard practice with officer-involved shootings, Marin, who is assigned to the South Central Patrol Division, will work three days of desk duty. The incident will be investigated by HPD's homicide and internal affairs divisions, as well as the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Woman reports theft of green mushroom growing in her front lawn

An Athens, Georgia, woman reported that 15 pots and a green mushroom were stolen from her yard and garage according to an Athens-Clarke County Police report.
The woman told police that some of her pots and a salmon steamer were missing from her carport.

She told police that she had been saving the pots for a yard sale, and the items may have been stolen during times she left the house on business.

The woman also said the suspects had stolen a green mushroom growing in her front lawn. No suspects were named. The investigation is ongoing.

Culinary DeLites

Recipe & instructions: Homemade apple cider

Apple cider is healthy, refreshing and easy to make at home. (iStockphoto/Thinsktock) Apple cider is healthy, refreshing and easy to make at home.

By Bill Washburn

Apple cider drinking has been a popular American tradition since colonial days. By 1638, barrels of apple cider could be found in virtually every farmhouse and townhouse cellar. John Adams, our second American president, drank a tankard of cider every morning before breakfast and lived to the age of 90. The world famous 20th century writer and adventurer Ernest Hemingway recommended cider as his favorite drink on hot African nights while on lion safaris. Apple cider can't guarantee a lifespan like John Adams or a successful lion hunt. But it is healthy, refreshing and easy to make at home in an afternoon with basic kitchen tools.
Here's how to get started with apple cider.
Choosing apples for cider
If there is already an apple tree in your backyard, begin with that variety of apple. Always pick the healthiest ripe apples on the tree. Avoid any apples that are battered, bruised or have fallen on the ground. They can contaminate the cider and quickly turn it into vinegar.
You'll need approximately 36 apples to make one gallon of apple cider. An average apple tree can yield 20 gallons of apple cider or more, depending on the size and quantity of the apples.
- Most commercial ciders are made from a blend of different apples.
- Red Delicious and Fuji will make a sweeter cider. Granny Smith and Macintosh will yield a tart cider.
Making your own cider provides the opportunity to experiment with different apples. If you do decide to combine varieties, try to get a mix of red, green and gold for maximum layers of flavor.
Cider tastes best when it's made from freshly picked apples. If you don't have your own tree, it's worth a visit to a local farmer's market.
Pressing vs. juicing for apple cider
Be certain to wash all apples thoroughly to remove any pesticides or sprays.
There are several different methods to juice the apples. The first is using an apple crusher and press. If there is a large quantity of apples to process, this may be worth the investment.
- To purchase a crusher, press and accessories, plan on spending $375 to $825 depending on the size and capacity.
The next method is to use a kitchen blender. It is slow, but will eventually get the job done. Look for the higher horsepower models like Breville if buying a new blender, and chose a model well over 500 watts. Blenders can cost anywhere from $25 to $200. The third method is a high-powered juicer like the Breville Ikon, which is a 900-watt countertop monster at about $200. It will pretty much juice anything leaving dry apple pulp that is devoid of juice and a great addition the compost bin.
If using a blender, start by coring the apples or cut the apple in quarters and carve out the center of each. Next, puree them, peel and all, in the blender or food processor. Keep them whirling until they're finely ground. The finer the pulp, the more juice you'll be able to extract. Drain and strain to capture the juice.
If using a juicer, simply cut the apples in half and toss them into the juicer.
Processing apple cider
Next spread several layers of cheesecloth over a funnel and a container, pour the pulp into the cheesecloth to strain out any leftover pulp. The cheesecloth acts as a strainer, so the juice filters through the cloth and the pulp stays in the cloth. Empty gallon water containers make good storage containers and they are free after drinking the water. Wash the containers well whether using plastic or glass containers to prevent bacteria from turning the cider into vinegar.
- Experiment with different spices to add to the cider flavor such as: cloves, nutmeg, lemon peels and ginger. They are all complementary flavors that can be added to give the cider a more sophisticated flair. A cinnamon stick will add some holiday flair to the cider.
Cider will keep for about seven days if stored in a container with an airtight lid in a refrigerator. Or, pasteurize the cider by heating it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees. Celsius) and it will keep for about 3 weeks.
How to preserve apple cider
The simple way to preserve cider is to freeze it. It will keep for a year in the freezer with only a slight loss of flavor and darkening of color. The big disadvantage of this is most people will quickly run out of freezer space.
A better method is to preserve the cider in quart jars the same way as preserving jams and jellies.
Sterilize the glass jars first. A dishwasher is fine for this if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath jar processing at the end will sanitize them as well as the contents. It is fine to wash the jars in hot, soapy water and rinse. Then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are ready to be filled. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from creaking when filled with hot apple cider.
Heat the cider to a low simmering boil and fill the jars to within ¼-inch of the top. Soak the lids and jar rings in near boiling water. Wipe off any cider on the top edge of the jars, seat the lid and tighten the rings. Place the jars in a canner or deep pot and bring the water to boil. Pints or quarts should be processed in boiling water for 5-minutes at sea level to 1,000-ft. In higher altitudes, up to 6,000-ft, increase the process time to 10-minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool on a towel in a draft free place. Check that all jars are sealed properly. As the lids seal they will make a popping noise. Any jars that have not sealed properly, should be refrigerated and consumed within 3-weeks. For more information on preserving apple cider read the Ball Blue Book or visit the USDA's National Center for Home Food Preservation for a free 196-page booklet on canning.
Storing apple cider
Cider that has been canned in jars should be stored in a cool, dark place. Basements and cupboards work well for this. Canned cider will keep for one year.
Basic cider tools
- Apple grinder, press, blender, or juicer
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Storage containers
- Strainer
- Funnel
- Cheesecloth
If canning you'll need:
- Canning jars, lids and rings
- Jar funnel
- Jar lifter
- Water bath pot

Catastrophe: Global Bacon Shortage "Unavoidable" Next Year

We're doomed! Doomed, I tell you!Humanity. It had a good run, wouldn't you say? Now it's over. According to the UK's National Pig Association, pig farms will be unable to keep up with production necessary to feed the world population the pork-based nutrients necessary to live:
New data shows the European Union pig herd is declining at a significant rate, and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world. Pig farmers have been plunged into loss by high pig-feed costs, caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests. All main European pig-producing countries report shrinking sow herds.

New fossil analysis shows cannibalism in Britain 15K years ago was "practical and ritualistic"

Scientists analyzing 14,700-year-old remains at Gough's cave in Somerset, England believe that human flesh was not eaten merely out of survival imperative, but as a "practical and ritualistic" behavior
Snip: "The cannibals appear to have filleted the major muscles with stone knives and then chewed off the remaining morsels. Even the ends of toe bones and ribs bones were nibbled, perhaps so that their modest stores of marrow could be sucked." Om nom nom nom!

The Human Beggar Zoo in China

When beggars began to turn up in droves at a local religious festival, Chinese officials came up with a rather unusual - and some say cruel - solution, a human cage:
According to a Nanchang official, in recent years the number of beggars turning up for the local religious festival has increased to a point where they’re actually making temple visitors uncomfortable with their lamenting and pleading for some pocket change. So this year, to make sure everyone attending the festivities will be left alone, they decided to separate the hundreds of beggars in small metal cages around the festival grounds, where people can still give donations if they wish, but without being followed around and nagged while they’re on a day out with their family.
“The beggars are quite comfortable in their cages, people send them food and water as gifts. In a way it is better for them there than having to find a place on the busy streets,” festival organizers said.” The beggars can leave whenever they like but they have to leave the city too, they can’t go into the fair,’ they added.
Human rights activists are not amused:
“Do they want people to believe the region has no poor people and just put on a good show? These people need help. We should not be allowing them to be locked away in cages. These people are human beings too,” one said, while another commented “They are treating them like zoo animals. What will they have to do next – tricks for their food? This is nothing but public humiliation!”
Oddity Central has the post: here

The Truth Be Told

Washington state's first 'zombie bees' reported

Washington state has its first "zombie bees."

Novice beekeeper Mark Hohn in Kent found that his bees are infected with a parasite that causes them to fly at night and lurch around erratically until they die.
The Seattle Times reports (http://is.gd/ji7UNX ) it's the first time the bee infection has been found in the state, according to tracking by San Francisco State University biologist John Hafernik through his website ZombeeWatch.org.
Zombie bees were first discovered in California in 2008.
Bee populations already have been dropping in recent years due to another ailment called Colony Collapse Disorder, in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly die.
Zombie bees also are being studied by Steve Sheppard, chairman of the entomology department at Washington State University.

Science News

University of Western Australia.
Seamount teems with sea life
A recent expedition to an isolated archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean came back with footage of thriving sea life swarming the slopes of a newfound seafloor mountain.

  • African clans linked to earliest human split
  • Warming Arctic fossil forest may live again
  • 50-million-year-old redwood chunk found
  • Recreating the sound of early 20th-century America

    Naturalist Aldo Leopold took such detailed notes of the sounds he heard in 1930s Wisconsin — particularly bird calls — that researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been able to recreate what the environment sounded like back then. At least, what it sounded like around Aldo Leopold's house. His notes, and the recreated sound, are allowing scientists to learn more about species migration and how industrialization has changed ecology.

    Can you say, wow!


    World's Biggest Tree

    The biggest tree in the world is in South Africa

    Animal Pictures