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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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Daily Drift

Daimler Pram by Monokroom on Flickr.
Alfred J.Prufrock I presume?!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Amman, Jordan
Tyn Nad Vltavou, Czech Repubic
Islamabad, Pakistan
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Tallinn, Estonia
Pretoria, South Africa
Khartoum, Sudan
Kaunas, Lithuania
Algiers, Algeria
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Bila Tserkva, Ukraine
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bordeaux, France
Santiago, Chile
Puchong, Malaysia
Bridgetown, Barbados
Kabul, Afghanistan
Enugu, Nigeria
Sandakan, Malaysia
Istanbul, Turkey
Nairobi, Kenya
Quatre Bornes, Mauritius
Ankara, Turkey
Tbilisi, Georgia
Zamoanga, Philippines
Beirut, Lebanon
Bangkok, Thailand
Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Riga, Latvia
Makati, Philippines
Medan, Indonesia
Tunis Tunisia
Luhansk, Ukraine
Sofia, Bulgaria
Muscat, Oman
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
San Jose, Costa Rica
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Quito, Ecuador
Warsaw, Poland
Manila, Philippines
Jakarta, Indonesia
Karachi, Pakistan
Cape Town, South Africa
Cairo, Egypt
Bau, Germany
Doha, Qatar
Belgrade, Serbia
Klang, Malaysia
Minsk, Belarus
Kiev, Ukraine

Today is International Sword Swallower Day

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Today in History

303 Emperor Diocletian orders the general persecution of Christians in Rome.
1516 The Hapsburg Charles I succeeds Ferdinand in Spain.
1540 Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado begins his unsuccessful search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold in the American Southwest.
1574 The 5th War of Religion breaks out in France.
1615 The Estates-General in Paris is dissolved, having been in session since October 1614.
1778 Baron von Steuben joins the Continental Army at Valley Forge.
1821 Poet John Keats dies of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
1836 The Alamo is besieged by Santa Anna.
1846 The Liberty Bell tolls for the last time, to mark George Washington's birthday.
1847 Forces led by Zachary Taylor defeat the Mexicans at the Battle of Buena Vista.
1854 Great Britain officially recognizes the independence of the Orange Free State.
1861 Texas becomes the seventh state to secede from the Union.
1885 John Lee survives three attempts to hang him in Exeter Prison, as the trap fails to open.
1898 Writer Emile Zola is imprisoned in France for his letter J'accuse in which he accuses the French government of anti-semitism and the wrongful imprisonment of army captain Alfred Dreyfus.
1901 Britain and Germany agree on a boundary between German East Africa and Nyasaland.
1904 Japan guarantees Korean sovereignty in exchange for military assistance.
1916 Secretary of State Lansing hints that the U.S. may have to abandon the policy of avoiding "entangling foreign alliances".
1921 An airmail plane sets a record of 33 hours and 20 minutes from San Francisco to New York.
1926 President Calvin Coolidge opposes a large air force, believing it would be a menace to world peace.
1936 In Russia, an unmanned balloon rises to a record height of 25 miles.
1938 Twelve Chinese fighter planes drop bombs on Japan.
1942 A Japanese submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, the first Axis bombs to hit American soil.
1944 American bombers strike the Marianas Islands bases, only 1,300 miles from Tokyo.
1945 Eisenhower opens a large offensive in the Rhineland.
1945 U.S. Marines plant an American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
1946 Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita is hanged in Manila, the Philippines, for war crimes.
1947 Several hundred Nazi organizers are arrested in Frankfurt by U.S. and British forces.
1950 New York's Metropolitan Museum exhibits a collection of Hapsburg art. The first showing of this collection in the U.S.
1954 Mass innoculation begins as Salk's polio vaccine is given to children for first time.
1955 Eight nations meet in Bangkok for the first SEATO council.
1960 Whites join Negro students in a sit-in at a Winston-Salem, N.C. Woolworth store.
1964 The U.S. and Britain recognize the new Zanzibar government.
1967 American troops begin the largest offensive of the war, near the Cambodian border.
1972 Black activist Angela Davis is released from jail where she was held for kidnapping , conspiracy and murder.
1991 French forces unofficially start the Persian Gulf ground war by crossing the Saudi-Iraqi border.

Non Sequitur


Man accused of spraying people in face with homemade ‘holy water’

A Chandler, Arizona man has been arrested on two counts of assault for allegedly spraying two people in the face with a homemade concoction he called "holy water." The liquid contained vegetable oil, bleach and Tabasco. Francisco Javier Villa, 36, told officers he obtained it from the Mormon Temple in Mesa.
Police said the two victims who were sprayed, Shawn Rosen and Robert Warnar, live at an apartment complex in Chandler. Rosen told officers he saw Villa spraying the bushes, sidewalk, and air with a spray bottle on Thursday. As Rosen got in his car to go to the store, he noticed there was liquid sprayed on his vehicle.

Rosen said Villa admitted to the act. Rosen moved his car to another spot and as he was exiting, Villa charged at him and began spraying Rosen's face and clothes, officers said. Rosen said he backed away and Villa began chasing him. Warnar told officers he was on his balcony when he saw the incident unfold.

Villa charged at Rosen a second time and once again began spraying him with the spray bottle. Rosen then called 911. Warnar told police Villa walked to the area just below Warnar's apartment and sprayed him in the face with the same liquid. Villa was taken to the Chandler Police Department where he was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault.

There's a news video here.

Did you know ...

That President Obama polls at a 3-year high while repugicans remain at the bottom

That the public agrees with President Obama on the minimum wage

That a Missouri bill redefines science and gives equal time to intelligent design

That Mississippi officially ratifies the end of slavery this month (yes, February of 2013)

Travel writer thrown off United flight for snapping photo of his seat

A US-based travel blogger for UPGRD got kicked off the plane after taking a photo of his seat on a United Airlines flight to Turkey. It was a new plane and he wanted to show it to his readers.  Big no-no, according to United.I’ve done a lot of flying – more than I care to remember – but I had no idea taking a photo inside the cabin was not allowed.  Who hasn’t taken a photo inside a plane?  (Oh, United claims you can take a photo of someone else inside the plane, but not of just of the inside of the plane – because Mohammad Atta wouldn’t be smart enough to pose another terrorist in front of a part of the plane he needed a photo of. It’s a ridiculous policy, as written.)
It’s a rather strange story, and it’s still difficult to say whether the problem he encountered was because of the harmless photo that he took, or his unfortunate choice of words used after being reprimanded by the United Airlines crew.
Whichever it was, it’s too bad that it’s come to this. It’s even more unfortunate that at this time, United has not reached out to the travel writer to address the situation.
The problem started when Matthew took this very dangerous photo of the back of the seat in front of him in business class:
Dangerous photo taken by UPGRD travel blogger
Very dangerous photo taken by UPGRD travel blogger 
He was soon after confronted by a United flight attendant who informed him that photos such as this are not allowed inside the cabin. One would assume this has something to do with anti-terror regulations, but they never say that specifically.
Here’s Matthew’s version of the story:
I looked at the FA, smiled, but said nothing, putting my iPhone away. To be clear, I did not take any more pictures—not a single one. Meanwhile, another passenger was taking pictures behind the curtain and the FA ran over to him and demanded that he stop as well. This passenger had a lively discussion with the FA, though I did not hear the resolution.
Naturally, the FA’s warning bothered me and I felt the need to explain myself. I signaled for her to come back and asked her to hang my coat. I then said this verbatim—
“I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn’t think I was terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog.”
She took my jacket but refused to take my business card saying, “No, that’s okay,” then saying, “I did not know that” after I explained my reason for taking pictures. I again emphasize, I took no more pictures.
Admittedly I’ve never taken a photo inside a plane (note from John: I have), but I still wouldn’t have imagined it was such an extreme violation of the rules. Perhaps Matthew made a critical mistake when he used the word “terrorist” in his response to the flight attendant – but still, if his version of the story is accurate, it’s an equally poor response by United, considering he didn’t use the word as a joke or something, he was literally explaining that he was not a security threat, he was a blogger that was familiar to the airline.
Matthew was next pulled aside and asked to leave the plane. He tried to speak with the captain, who brushed aside his response and asked him to leave before they called the police. Again, Matthew could have used more common sense with his choice of words but for United to bump him, then re-route him with multiple connections (miserable for any traveler) because of one flight attendant is just rude.
What’s scary is that United is considered by many to have the best service of the US-based airlines (another note from John: that’s no been my experience), yet this is hardly what anyone would or should consider quality service. If you’re a frequent flyer (the kid has a lot of miles) you really deserve better than this.  And if they treat you this way in business, where traditionally they’re nicer to you, imagine what they’d do to you in coach.
As glamorous as non-frequent-fliers think overseas travel is, it’s not. Flying east on long hauls overnight is awful, so to then get bounced around and miss connections is just salt in the wound. What has to be especially frustrating for Matthew is that after making the simple mistake of taking an innocent photo, the problem escalated into an ugly scene and being booted from his flight because he tried to explain to the flight attendant why he took the photo.  And then, according to him, United lied about why they removed him from the plane.
For the millionth time, everyone wants to be safe and regular fliers want this as much as anyone, but these random displays of obnoxious actions by the airline employees have to stop. It’s stressful enough for travelers to be humiliated and jerked around by the TSA but then to have equally abusive behavior by the airlines, followed by a lack of accountability (just like the TSA) is horrible.
Sorry, but re-routing through hell is not an answer considering the kid made a simple mistake. Matthew needs to perhaps be more cautious with his words, but United needs to wake up and learn how to treat a dedicated customer who was simply explaining, if were to believe his story (and I do), what had happened. Too many businesses abuse their privileged position in the market.
In the case of the airline industry, it’s just a little too easy to hide behind the broad threat of “terrorism” (especially, the old “the guy said he wasn’t a terrorist, so maybe he was being tricky and he really is!” excuse) and get away with anything. Whether it was snapping a photo or his careless but innocent response, there needs to be a lot more accountability. United owes their nearly one million mile traveler an apology and then some for this bad behavior.

The truth hurts

Democrats Fight Back: Missouri Rep Proposes to Make it a Felony to Restrict Collective Bargaining

In a fight fire with fire moment, Missouri Democrats responded to a repugican proposal to make gun control a felony with their own bill that would make proposing limits to collective bargaining a felony.
This all began when Missouri House repugican Mike Leara proposed HB 633, which states, “Any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.”
Democrats responded to this bit of don’t-tread-on-me second amendment grandstanding by proposing a bill that would make it a Class D felony to propose limits to collective bargaining.
Here is the text of HB 677:
1783L.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To amend chapter 578, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to an individual’s right to bargain collectively, with a penalty provision.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 578, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 578.462, to read as follows:
578.462. Any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bargain collectively, as set forth under section 29, article I of the Missouri Constitution, shall be guilty of a class D felony.
It should be noted that a class D felony carries with it a four year prison term. The only way repugicans are ever going to learn is if they get a taste of their own medicine.
Instead of fighting against ALEC based bills around the country, Democrats and Independents should start fighting fire with fire. Think of the possibilities.

Democrats Target 27 House tea partiers with New Ads

sequester dccc ads
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching grassroots online ads to hold 27 tea party House repugicans accountable for the thousands of layoffs and other costs to the middle class in the upcoming sequester.
Watch one version of the online ad, “Your Pink Slip — Brought to You by Congressman Bill Young”, here:

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said, “There are real-world consequences for middle class families because of House Republicans’ dysfunction and chronic chaos. For the defense workers who may get pink slips, the federal law enforcement officers who may be furloughed, and the FBI agents and the food inspectors who are looking at layoffs, they will be reminded that those pink slips have been brought to hardworking Americans by this tea party repugican Congress. It is time for House Republicans to come back to work to avert this crisis, stop protecting tax breaks for special interests and corporations — and stand up for the middle class.”
The DCCC says “‘Your Pink Slip’ is the first phase of the campaign and features web advertising highlighting the consequences of tea party House repugicans protecting millionaires instead of the middle class.”
The DCCC appears to be targeting swing districts; for example, in Florida they are going after Reps. CW Bill Young, Steve Southerland, and Daniel Webster. Furthermore, 21 of the 27 repugicans are from states Obama carried in 2012.
Here’s the full list of the 27 tea party repugicans who will be targeted:
· Andy Barr (KY-06)
· Dan Benishek (MI-01)
· Tom Cotton (AR-04)
· Rick Crawford (AR-01)
· Mike Coffman (CO-06)
· Steve Daines (MT-AL)
· Rodney Davis (IL-13)
· Jeff Denham (CA-10)
· Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
· Chris Gibson (NY-19)
· Tim Griffin (AR-02)
· Michael Grimm (NY-11)
· Joe Heck (NV-03)
· Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03)
· David Joyce (OH-14)
· John Kline (MN-02)
· Tom Latham (IA-03)
· Gary Miller (CA-31)
· Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
· Tom Reed (NY-23)
· Scott Rigell (VA-02)
· Jon Runyan (NJ-03)
· Steve Southerland (FL-02)
· David Valadao (CA-21)
· Jackie Walorski (IN-02)
· Dan Webster (FL-10)
· Bill Young (FL-13)
The label of ‘tea party’ gives Democrats a lot of freedom in advertising that they didn’t used to have. After years of headaches, the tea party is now becoming the best weapon to use against the repugican cabal. The tea party’s negative branding is an advertisers dream.
Without the label for the extremist side of the repugican cabal, Democrats would be left with awkward phrases such as “the extremist side of the repugican cabal”, which is as vague as it is unexciting (if accurate). The tea party label polls poorly and in this case, the repugican tea party caucus is directly responsible for the hostage taking that led to the sequester.
The claim is therefore both accurate and easy to digest. It’s also very effective in identifying the radical tea party as the cause of much of the obstructionism and dysfunction in DC. It furthers the narrative (based on reality) that the modern day repugican cabal is not representing the middle class. In fact, they don’t care if the middle class get laid off. The middle class is just collateral damage in the tea party repugican cabal’s race to appease billionaires and corporations.
Polls are leaning in Democrats favor and repugicans are still suffering from low approval ratings in Congress. Who would you rather be right now, John Boehner trying to sell the public a lie in order to cover up your inability to control the tea party caucus of your own House, or the Democrats using the tea party’s hostage taking to target repugicans?
These are new times for Democrats.

Obama Routs repugicans on Sequester as 56% of the repugican cabal Support His Balanced Approach

The repugicans have lost the sequester battle so comprehensively that according to the new USA Today/Pew Research poll, 56% of repugicans support Obama’s balanced approach to reducing the deficit.
According to a new USA Today/Pew Research poll, 49% those surveyed support the president’s short term delay of the sequester. Forty percent think the spending cuts should be allowed to go into effect. The repugican argument that new tax revenue should not be a part of further deficit reduction is being soundly rejected. Seventy six percent of those surveyed believe that the president and congress should focus on lowering the deficit through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Only 19% agree with the repugican approach of spending cuts alone.
The repugicans have also lost a majority of their party on this issue. Fifty six percent of repugicans support Obama’s balanced approach to reducing the deficit. Just 42% of repugicans support their own cabal’s position that the deficit should be reduced through spending cuts alone, but seventy three percent of all of those surveyed think that the balanced approach should be weighted towards spending cuts.
The entire standoff over the sequester is centered around whether or not the cuts will be avoided with a balanced approach of revenue and cuts. Judging by this poll. it appears House repugicans don’t have a leg to stand on. They don’t have public support for their cuts only position, and they even lack the support of a majority of their own party.
President Obama has already won the messaging war on taxes, the deficit, and the sequester. His victory is so comprehensive that even a majority of repugicans support his position. This poll illustrates that repugican members of Congress are no longer only out of step with the rest of the country. On this issue, they are out of step with a majority of their own cabal.
This same poll found that if the sequester cuts go into effect, congressional repugicans will be blamed by 49%-31% margin. The Boehner plan to blame Obama for the sequester is now a verified flop. If House repugicans maintain their unpopular position, you can expect their percentage of the blame to increase in the coming days.
House repugicans aren’t going to win a battle of public opinion with President Obama. The more they try, the bigger they lose.

When repugicans Govern, Government is the Problem

 Elections definitely have consequences.  Instead of the job creation they promised, House repugicans spend what little time they are in session working on votes to repeal Obamacare, doing all they can to prevent job creation and supporting a sequester that, according to Macroadvisers,  will kill 700,000 jobs and reduce economic growth by .6%.  Senate repugicans abuse the filibuster to the point that everything needs 60 votes. The only thing worse than repugicans acting like spoiled children in Congress, is a repugican running a state.
We know about Rick Snyder’s obsession with replacing elected officials with unelected (and unaccountable) Emergency Financial Managers. We know about Scott Walker’s attacks on unions. We know about Rick Scott’s voter suppression program, along with his opposition to Obamacare. Maybe North Carolinians thought that somehow their new repugican Governor, Pat McCrory, would some how be different. Maybe as the moderate as he said he was during his campaign and during Monday’s State of the State Address,  but he’s turning out to be a boiler plate wingnut extremist on steroids.
Of the laws McCrory passed since he arrived at the Governor’s mansion, nothing captures the essence of his mind set like his unemployment law. It includes cuts to Unemployment benefits reducing the maximum weekly cap from $530 to $350, North Carolina Unemployment Benefits Cut – North Carolina Takes A Turn As Mississippi – Esquire  reducing the duration of benefits from 20 weeks to 12 weeks and eliminates benefits for people who left work for health or family reasons. McCrory’s statement about the bill sounds like he’s channeling Paul Ryan’s logic on Medicare and his worship of the almighty job creators, “This bipartisan solution will protect our small businesses from continued over-taxation, ensure our citizens’ unemployment safety net is secure and financially sound for future generations, and help provide an economic climate that allows job creators to start hiring again.”
But wait, there’s more. Aside from the dramatic cuts in benefits, the law increases unemployment taxes paid by businesses through a combination of eliminating the zero-percent rate that roughly 30,000 businesses weren’t paying, a 20 percent state surcharge and Federal taxes of $21 / employee. Aside from these goodies, North Carolina will lose Federal emergency relief benefits that were part of the fiscal cliff agreement. According to the Charlotte Observer:
” The federal benefits, extending payments past 26 weeks of unemployment, were awarded as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal in Congress. But the federal law requires states to maintain their existing benefit structure. The U.S. Department of Labor said 170,000 people will lose an estimated $780 million in benefits in North Carolina because of the new law.”
Besides gutting unemployment benefits at a time when the unemployment rate in North Carolina is 9.2%; McCrory signed a new law that should make xenophobes everywhere proud.  After resisting Federal requirements for states to issue drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, (DACA) McCrory changed his mind and opted to issue the licenses albeit with a North Carolinian version of Star of David armbands.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports:  ”Across the top of the new license is a pink strip. In the center, red capital letters say, “NO LAWFUL STATUS.” On the side another set of red capital letters say, “LIMITED TERM,” referring to the license holder’s two-year reprieve from deportation.” As Moises Serrano, told the W-S J : ”Imagine trying to get on a flight at the airport, and you have to use this license. It’s an invasion of my privacy. I am undocumented and unashamed, but I say that on my terms.” I’ll bet the Queen of “papers please” wished she could high-five McCrory for this stroke of genius.
As if cutting unemployment benefits when unemployment is high and stigmatizing DACA license holders, McCrory is looking to Jindalize North Carolina’s tax system . He also said no to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, though if Rick Scott can change his mind, it’s remotely possible that McCrory will do the same.  McCrory’s plan to make education more “business friendly” by discouraging post-secondary education got a nod from the State House. The House gave overwhelming final approval Wednesday to a bill creating new kinds of high school diplomas and course plans that emphasize vocational or career paths that don’t require 4-year college degrees. (my emphasis) Oh, and there’s one more thing.  It seems that McCrory wants to replace members of local boards with people who think like he does because it just makes things more efficient. From the News Observer: ”The state’s repugican-dominated legislature and repugican governor would have a free hand to sweep out all the members of several key boards and commissions and replace them with their own appointments, under a bill advanced Tuesday.”
The barbarity doesn’t end there. Cherie Berrie (I swear that really is her name) who was recently elected as North Carolina’s Labor Commissioner, wants to abolish the minimum wage. Of course, one may be tempted to wonder why on earth would North Carolinians vote for these people?  The answer reminds us just how consequential state elections can be. This is the sort of government that gerrymandering builds. Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal explains:
“Two years after the repugican cabal took control of the House and Senate for the first time in a century, the party increased its margins to super-majorities, meaning repugicans are now veto-proof. As for a Congressional delegation now firmly in repugican hands — Democrats held a 7-6 advantage but enter 2013 with just 4 of the state’s 13 Congressional seats — and the dominance in the General Asembly, Parker and others say the vote is more evenly divided (true) and skewed by redistricting carried out by repugicans (also true). State Senator Dan Blue of Wake County, a Democrat who spent 22 years in the House, calls the revamped districts “resegregation” and hopes legal challenges will lead to new boundaries.”
One can’t help noticing the irony. When repugicans govern, government is the problem.

The truth be told

Lush Dimbulb Insanely Claims Sarah Palin Wasn’t Wrong About Anything

Lush Dimbulb went way, way, way off the deep end the other day by claiming that Sarah Palin wasn’t ever wrong about anything.
Audio via Media Matters:
Transcript via Rush Limbaugh:
DIMBULB: I know what you mean, the liberals, it is their ideology that they are being loyal to. Liberalism must never suffer slings and arrows. Liberalism cannot be seen as the reason for anything going wrong. Liberalism can’t be seen as a failure. Dan Rather, as a liberal, cannot be seen as forging documents and running a phony story. That cannot be allowed to taint liberalism. They are protecting liberalism. It is the ideology. It is the road map. It’s how they want to get to this place you describe, which is total power.
On the repugican side, it’s not just truth. Sarah Palin wasn’t wrong about anything. She didn’t lie about anything. Sarah Palin embarrassed some people. So they had to get rid of her. The point is, the repugicans will not circle the wagons and defend very many. Wingnuts will not circle the wagons and defend. Now, I defended Clarence Thomas not even knowing who he was ’cause I knew what happened. I knew the libs were lying about him because I know the libs.
There are some wingnuts today who when, Clarence Thomas was accused today about Anita Hill, they would throw him overboard. Not because she was maybe lying or telling the truth, but because he would be tainted. They would throw him overboard, and they wouldn’t even bother to defend him ’cause he’s making them look bad, by supporting him. It’s a far different thing. The number of conservatives when they pop up and defend each other, doesn’t happen. We’re quick to throw everybody because we don’t want the media saying bad things about the rest of us. It’s really a big difference. The left will circle the wagons and protect their reprobates and they promote them. They promote their failures. It’s a huge, huge difference. But I know what you’re trying to say and your instincts are right on the money with it.
Sarah Palin never got anything wrong? If we assume that Dimbulb was just talking about the 2008 campaign, here is a short and very partial list of the things Palin got wrong according to Game Change:
- She thought the queen is the actual head of the U.K. government, not just a figurehead. She had no idea there was something called the prime minister.
- She didn’t know what “the Fed” is, as in the Federal Reserve System.
- She had to be filled in on the history of World War I and World War II, and Germany’s involvement in them.
- She knew zilch about Lehman Brothers’ spiral, and not much about the country’s economic collapse in general.
- She kept insisting on calling her opponent “Joe O’Biden.”
- Most shockingly of all, she confused North and South Korea.
During the 2008 campaign, Palin also thought that the vice president literally made day to day policy and ran the senate.
Palin also demonstrated that she was an “energy expert” who knew absolutely nothing about energy policy. Palin also believes that Sputnik ended communism, and who can forget her classic mangling of Paul Revere’s Ride?
Sarah Palin wasn’t given the boot off the main wingnut stage because she embarrassed a few people. Palin was given the hook because she was laughably wrong about everything. (We’re talking beyond Dick Morris level wrong.) Since Dimbulb is also wrong about everything on a daily basis, it isn’t a surprise that he was defending Palin.
To Dimbulb, Palin is the ideal repugican. They are cut from the same cloth. Sarah Palin was so wrong so often that she got booted off of Faux News. The same fate hopefully awaits Lush Dimbulb and his radio show.

Whistleblowing Cop Fired for Exposing Plot to Kill the President

Suppose you overheard someone encouraging someone else on the phone to take a shot at the President of the United States? Suppose you also overheard someone propose putting a bomb under the stage where the President was speaking? And someone making inappropriate comments about the First Lady?
Chances are if you heard comments like this you would tell someone in law enforcement, be it the local police, the FBI the Secret Service or all of the above.
What if you ARE the police?  A Virginia police officer found himself in this very position when President Obama was in Richmond for an appearance  on May 5th, 2012. Based on the available facts, the officer went “through channels” but the higher ups did nothing for two weeks.  Some time after that he spoke anonymously to the local media. At that time, a spokesperson for the Richmond Police Department (RPD) said the Secret Service investigated and concluded there was no crime.
Since then the two police officers alleged to have made these inappropriate comments were fired, and they are trying to get their jobs back.
According to their lawyer James Towey, “(T)he firings were the result of meddling by the mayor’s office.” Towey is calling for a public hearing on the matter.  In a letter to Richmond City Attorney Allen Jackson, Towey claims ”disturbing facts that shed light on dysfunction within the Richmond City government as well as instances of despicable misconduct by particular city leaders.”
Earlier this week, the whistleblower lost his job because he spoke to the media about his concerns. WTVR  reports:
The man said Wednesday morning he returned to police headquarters to pick-up a packet of information. Included in that packet, he said, the reason he was fired.
The reason, he said, was because he violated police department policy by doing an interview with CBS 6 about the a May 5 incident involving the President and the First Lady.
There’s a lot that smells about this story.  Some things people say should be taken seriously. Someone plotting to kill the President of the United States falls into that category.  If a subsequent investigation concludes there was no wrong doing or any plan for wrong doing, fine. However, this is one of those things that should be looked at immediately – not weeks later.  Had immediate action occurred, the whistleblower wouldn’t have needed to express his concerns to the media.
This is classic whistleblowing. If anyone has a legal basis to get their job back, it’s the police officer who spoke to the media.
Since Virginia is an employ at will state, one may be tempted to conclude that whistleblowers can be fired for retaliatory purposes.  It’s obvious that his dismissal was not only about his violation of the blue code of silence, but it was also intended to send a message to anyone else who may be tempted to expose wrong doing or negligence by the RPD, which in this case involved an alleged plot to assassinate the president.
The thing is, employees in employ at will states still have rights under the U.S. Constitution.
As Thomas Roberts  (an employment attorney who is not involved in the case) points out, this officer’s dismissal was a violation of his First amendment rights. ”It concerns me and it should concern others, if he was retaliated based upon his right to express his concern on this public matter as well as his opinion.”

Too-big-to-fail banks’ profits almost entirely paid for by taxpayers

In an alarming new study we learn that America’s largest banks are living on thin financial ice. If it weren’t for government-sponsored corporate welfare, America’s top five too-big-t-fail banks would only break even financially.But the system is rigged to actually create and sustain “too big to fail” — to give these banks an incentive to seek bigger and bigger government subsidies, and bailouts.
A really good analysis from Bloomberg:
Banks have a powerful incentive to get big and unwieldy. The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail….
How much are those lower rates worth to the banks?  Bloomberg comes to a shocking conclusion:
Wall Street
The top five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc…. with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy — would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.
That last line is both chilling and infuriating: “the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.”
Without the subsidy, the banks only break even.  We the taxpayer are quite literally keeping them alive through unfair competition.  Our taxes are their profits.
The banks regularly bully their way into soft regulation, easy money and a dominating position over the political class — who knew they were just a bunch of paper tigers?  Well, actually, all of us knew, from Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz down to the progressive blogs.
So why is this issue important? For starters, there is a lot of taxpayer money involved, and as we’ve already witnessed, these too-big-to-fail banks can bring us all down, quickly. Second, it’s not exactly cheap bailing them out, and the losses to the broader economy go well beyond just the banking industry.
Also, and perhaps more important, is that these banks make up the business class that’s at the forefront of the assault on what’s left of the social safety net. You may recall Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, the guy who Obama has a strange bromance with, adjusted bonus payout dates in both the US and UK to avoid paying taxes. You know, as in the taxes that saved his entire lifestyle.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.
Even worse is Blankfein’s insistence on bashing programs that are critical to middle class Americans. It’s the Blankfeins of the world that want to take your Medicare and Social Security away.  God forbid we ran out of money and there weren’t any left to bail out the banks next time, right?
Then there’s my other favorite bankster, good old Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan. Dimon is the delightful fellow who ignored the warnings and ended up costing the bank, and our taxpayers, billions.
Since these banks really aren’t turning a profit without government welfare, what would JPMorgan look like without those handouts? For Dimon, banking rules that help protect taxpayers from bailing out the gambling banks are “un-American.”
The major bank chiefs have been quite vocal about trashing the social system, just as they trashed our economy. But when it comes to helping Americans, the banks have little interest beyond their next bailout.
It’s time for the political class to wake up and realize that these people are destructive to society, instead of inviting them to play rounds of golf or join discussions about job creation. Job creation is not their goal. Their goal is to squeeze tax dollars, while bleating on about the free market, while they pick your grandmothers pocket.
Their record confirms this is the hard truth of the day.

Let's be honest here ...

Technoviking Sues Filmmaker

vThe still-unnamed star of the hit video known as Technoviking is suing Matthias Fritsch, the filmmaker who recorded him dancing in 2000. The lawyers involved and the court in Germany are not very forthcoming with the facts of the case, but Technoviking wants all videos and images bearing his likeness stripped from the web. If not, he wants Fritsch to pay up and spend time in jail. Judges in the case proposed a compromise, which Technoviking has rejected. A German blogger doesn't think Technoviking can win.
Under the common law... the Technoviking video can be legally shared. Technoviking went out into a public festival, where certainly knew he might be filmed, and started dancing. He was sharing his image with thousands of strangers, and obviously enjoyed himself doing so. The artist was not using the Technoviking's image to sell a product, and the money he earned from it was merely incidental to its unexpected success. And it was, of course, money for something he created—the video of an interesting person dancing on the street.
But if the courts side with the plaintiff, the repercussions could affect artists, photographers, and videographers in profound ways. More

Researchers Create Hailstorm Indoors To Test Roof Damage

Researchers for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety have created an indoor hailstorm. The artificial hailstorm experiment is being used to test the impact of different hailstone sizes on different types of roofing material.

Engineers designed and built multi-barreled hail cannons for the experiment. The cannons are mounted on the research center catwalk and placed 60 feet above the test house. The cannons can deliver approximately 8,000 to 10,000 hailstones.

Seven Words That Came About From People Getting Them Wrong

You know what a pea is. But did you know that originally the word was 'pease,' and it was singular. The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural 's' marker, and at the end of the 17th Century people started talking about one 'pea.' The older form lives on in the nursery rhyme 'Pease-porridge hot, pease-porridge cold.'

Do Children Owe Anything to Their Abusive Parents?

Many children who suffer from neglect or abuse from their parents nonetheless manage to grow up into decent adults. Question is, do they owe anything to these bad parents?
What do we owe our tormentors? It’s a question that haunts those who had childhoods marked by years of neglect and deprivation, or of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of one or both parents. Despite this terrible beginning, many people make it out successfully and go on to build satisfying lives. Now their mother or father is old, maybe ailing, possibly broke. With a sense of guilt and dread, these adults are grappling with whether and how to care for those who didn’t care for them.
Emily Yoffe of Slate wrote an interesting article exploring the question of whether grown children of neglectful or abusive parents have any obligation to take care those who didn't even fulfill their own: More

Random Celebrity Photo


Sandra Dee
Sandra Dee

New York City's Hidden Subway Station

Deep in the belly of New York's subway system, a beautiful untouched station resides that has been forgotten for years with only a limited few knowing of its existence. Stunning decoration with tall tiled arches, brass fixtures and skylights run across the entire curve of the City Hall station, almost a miniature imitation of Grand Central Station.

A 40-square-foot Apartments in Hong Kong

Can you imagine an entire family living a space that's smaller than a king-size bed? A large number of Hong Kong residents live in super-subdivided spaces. The only way to really see how crowded these apartments are is to photograph them from the ceiling.
In an attempt to draw attention to the issue, human rights organization Society for Community Organization recently commissioned a series of photographs showing what a number of unacceptable living spaces look like when viewed from directly overhead. (Here’s a larger version of the photo above.)

According to the SoCO, over 100,000 people live in tiny “cubicle apartments” in the city. These are 40-square-foot living spaces created by dividing already-small apartments into multiple units.
Residents go about their lives in these confined spaces, sleeping on one corner, eating in another, storing their belongings in a third, and perhaps watching a TV that’s found in a fourth.
It's not the smallest living spaces in Hong Kong, but it is pretty cramped. See more pictures at PetaPixel.

The Mao Mango Cult Of 1968 And The Rise Of China's Working Class

For about a year and a half, mango imagery dominated Chinese propaganda posters, textiles, enamelware, and common household goods such as pencil tins and mirrors.

One week after Mao dissolved the Red Guards, Pakistan's foreign minister, Mian Arshad Hussain, and his wife met with the Chairman. And because China is a gift-giving society, Mr. Hussain brought a case of mangoes with him, in the same way that you or I might stop off at the liquor store on the way to a party to pick up a bottle of wine so we don't arrive empty handed.

The next day, Mao delivered a message to the workers, who were still stationed at Qinghua University, designating them as the 'permanent managers' of the nation's education system. Accompanying the message was the untouched case of Pakistani mangoes. In the days to come, much would be made of Mao’s 'refusal to eat the fruit,' which was interpreted as 'a sacrifice' on the Chairman's part 'for the benefit of the workers.'

Rare Photos Show Life During the War Between the States

A new museum collection of the War Between the States photos features images of African American life and battlefield scenes.

Treasure-Filled Warrior's Grave Found in Russia

Hunting Fertilizer to Find Hints of Early Life

In Brazil, a search for fertilizer fodder is also turning into a hunt for ancient life.

Death Valley Named Largest Dark Sky Park

Death Valley National Park is being honored with a new superlative after being named a dark sky park, the largest in the world.

Random Photo

Fiery Looping Rain On The Sun

Eruptive events on the sun can be wildly different. Some come just with a solar flare, some with an additional ejection of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and some with complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun's atmosphere, the corona. On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced all three.

Marvelous Mercury - In Color

To the human eye, tiny Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system, may look like Earth’s moon, but appearances can be deceiving.

How To Photograph The Milky Way

Photographing the Milky Way is a great experience. From a dark location without light pollution the dusty band of the Milky Way is a wonderful sight to the naked eye and it looks even better in long exposure photographs. Summer in the North Hemisphere and Winter in the South Hemisphere is the best time to photograph the Milky Way and here's a short article about how to do it.

Flowers Communicate With Electricity

Electric fields allow flowers to communicate with bumblebees and possibly other species, including humans.

Awesome Pictures


Forest Reflections. Mammoth Lakes, Eastern Sierra, California.

Newly Found Dino Had Chicken-Sized Young

Yulong mini was rather sedentary and its chicken-sized young were a likely favorite snack among bigger dinosaurs.

Why Are Americans Squeamish About Horse Meat?

Culture, history, taste all add up to a big no thanks for horse-burgers.

Animal News

America's invasive species are a problem, but they can also be delicious.

Depending on your sensibilities and where you live, these creatures might be things to love, things to avoid or, yes, things to eat.

The Ugliest Pets In The World

Mother Nature is sometimes confused. Not all pets are cute, sometimes they can look very strange and ugly, and often we start to love them as such, because they are different.

Here are some ugly pets.

Goldfish influx threatens to cloud pristine Lake Tahoe waters

Researcher Christine Ngai is seen with a Lake Tahoe goldfish in 2009, in this handout photo courtesy of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at the University of California Davis. REUTERS/Tahoe Environmental Research Center/University of California Davis/Handout  
Giant goldfish have mysteriously found their way into the famously crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe, the nation's second-deepest lake, alarming researchers and raising questions about the invasive species' long-term effects. Goldfish weighing as much as 4 pounds and measuring up to a 1-1/2 feet in length have recently been caught in Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border, and scientists say the influx threatens native species while posing a potential waste pollution problem.
"These fish are competing with the native fish, and that's a big part of the problem," said Heather Segale, spokeswoman for the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at the University of California at Davis.
A group of researchers from Davis, the University of Nevada at Reno, and the fish and wildlife departments of both California and Nevada were the first to study the presence of goldfish in Lake Tahoe, beginning an annual survey in 2006.
In 2011, the group began a project to reduce the number of goldfish and other non-native fish from the lake through "electrofishing," dangling metal wires from the bottom of a boat to stun fish with electrical current, then capturing the fish as they float to the surface.
Researchers then sort the fish, releasing native species and sport fish such as trout, and removing the rest.
The project has rid the lake of 50 to 60 goldfish a year since 2011, but their foraging abilities and potential to multiply means removal efforts must continue to keep populations under control, said Christine Ngai of the University of Nevada.
The influx at Tahoe, at the base of a world-class ski area in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range, is believed to have originated from specimens dumped from a fish bowl by pet owners who no longer wanted them.
Some used as bait may also have escaped into the lake over time, Ngai said. Goldfish, members of the carp family, are known to grow in size when they inhabit larger environments.
While their precise numbers are difficult to track, the proliferation of large goldfish in the wild is not unique to Tahoe. James Schardt, an invasive species expert for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said he has received reports of giant goldfish in lakes from around the country, mostly from the Great Lakes.
"Goldfish are very good at getting what they need," Ngai said. "They can potentially compete with native fish for food, vegetation and bugs."
"Because they eat a lot, they also excrete a lot. They can transfer that into the water and encourage algae growth," she added, saying that could create murky water.
With a maximum depth of 1,645 feet and an average depth of 1,000 feet, the 22-mile-wide lake is the nation's deepest after Crater Lake in Oregon and the 10th deepest on Earth.
It is also one of the clearest in the world, with visibility recently measured to a depth of 70 feet, reduced from 100 feet when clarity readings were first taken in the 1960s, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
 Snow is piled on a Lake Tahoe beach in Sand Harbor, Nevada February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Animal Pictures



looking to me by Cloudtail on Flickr.

There was a bobcat attack today.