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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Daily Drift

We're on our way ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Hanoi, Vietnam
Zamboanga, Philippines
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ankara, Turkey
Islamabad, Pakistan
Istanbul, Turkey
Novi Sad, Serbia
Bila Tserkva, Ukraine
Warsaw, Poland
Santiago, Chile
Jakarta, Indonesia
Algiers, Algeria
Manila, Philippines
Kaunas, Lithuania
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Bordeaux, France
Puchong, Malaysia
Tyn Nad Vltavou, Czech Republic
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Amman, Jordan
Tallinn, Estonia
Pretoria, South Africa
Today there is no special celebration

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Today in History

786 Pepin the Short of Gaul dies. His dominions are divided between his sons Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman.
1525 In the first of the Franco-Habsburg Wars, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V captures the French king Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, Italy.
1538 Ferdinand of Hapsburg and John Zapolyai, the two kings of Hungary, conclude the peace of Grosswardein.
1803 Chief Justice John Marshall, by refusing to rule on the case of Marbury vs. Madison, asserts the authority of the judicial branch.
1813 Off Guiana, the American sloop Hornet sinks the British sloop Peacock.
1821 Mexico gains independence from Spain.
1836 Some 3,000 Mexicans launch an assault on the Alamo with its 182 Texan defenders.
1895 The Cuban War of Independence begins.
1908 Japan officially agrees to restrict emigration to the U.S.
1912 Italy bombs Beirut in the first act of war against the Ottoman Empire.
1912 The Jewish organization Hadassah is founded in New York City.
1914 Civil War soldier Joshua Chamberlain dies.
1916 A film version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opens in New York.
1921 Herbert Hoover becomes Secretary of Commerce.
1928 The New Gallery of New York exhibits works of Archibald Motley, its first show to feature a black artist.
1944 Merrill's Marauders, a specially trained group of American soldiers, begin their ground campaign against Japan into Burma.
1945 U.S. forces liberate prisoners of war in the Los Baños Prison in the Philippines.
1947 Franz von Papen is sentenced to eight years in a labor camp for war crimes.
1959 Khrushchev rejects the Western plan for the Big Four meeting on Germany.
1968 North Vietnamese troops capture the imperial palace in Hue, South Vietnam.
1972 Hanoi negotiators walks out of the peace talks in Paris to protest U.S. air raids on North Vietnam.
1991 General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the coalition army, sends in ground forces during the Gulf War.

Non Sequitur


Health News

For years researchers have been searching for a way to treat diabetics by reactivating their insulin-producing beta cells, with limited success. The “reprogramming” of related alpha cells into beta cells may one day offer a [...]
Washington University engineering researchers have created a new type of air-cleaning technology that could better protect human lungs from allergens, airborne viruses and ultra-fine particles in the air. The device, known as the SXC ESP, [...]

Our ancestors evolutionarily split from those of rhesus monkeys about 25 million years ago. Since then, brain areas have been added, have disappeared or have changed in function. This raises the question, ‘Has evolution given [...]
Scientists at Baycrest Health Sciences’ Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and the University of Toronto’s Psychology Department have found compelling evidence that older adults can eliminate forgetfulness and perform as well as younger adults on memory [...]

Letting Babies Sleep Outside in the Freezing Cold

Warm and cozy is for weak babies. To ensure strong Viking-worthy children, Nordic parents regularly leave their babies to sleep outdoors in the freezing cold:
Would you put your baby or toddler outside in the freezing cold for their lunchtime nap? Most Nordic parents wouldn't give it a second thought. For them it's part of their daily routine.
Daytime temperatures this winter in Stockholm have regularly dropped to -5C (23F) but it's still common to see children left outside by their parents for a sleep in the pram.
Wander through the snowy city and you'll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside.
And if you are visiting friends and your child needs a nap, you may be offered the garden or balcony instead of a bedroom.
Helena Lee of BBC News explains: Here.

The U.S. continues to trail the rest of the world

Our greatness is diminishing because of our growing love for money over life.

Defining "gullible"

It is an interesting fact that the word "gullible" is not found in any online dictionary.

The truth be told

And I Quote

The teabaggers say Rove is a Nazi

They know him best ...

A top tea party group is taking its clash with Karl Rove to a new level, sending out a fundraising email Tuesday featuring a photoshopped image of the smirking bastard in an SS uniform.

“Wipe the Smirk Off Karl Rove’s Face,” reads the subject line of the email, from Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots.

The email features a photo illustration in which shows Rove as a Nazi slimeball.
The lower left-hand corner of the photo features the inscriptions “Reichsführer-SS” and “K. Rove,” and appears to match a photo of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler.

Five hours after the fundraising email went out, the teabaggers issued an apology.

Aw, Ain't it cute when the Nazi's fight amongst themselves

The repugicans Fake Obama Corruption but Pennsylvania’s 3 Sisters Conviction Shows How Corrupt the repugican cabal Is

In the fantasy world of repugicans President Obama is corrupt, but once again the story of the three very corrupt, powerful, repugican, and very convicted Orie sisters reminds of us which party has the corruption problem.
It is not very often that a state Supreme Court Justice and a state senator get convicted of campaign corruption, but it is even more rare when it occurs in two separate trials and the two are sisters.
The sisters Justice Joan Orie Melvin, older sister Janine Orie, and former state senator Jane Orie have all been convicted of public corruption for a scheme that used state employees to do campaign work. It a story that involves the Ories using a psychic who claimed that angels whispered answers to her, and lots of allegations that the downfall of the Orie dynasty was a plot by a Democratic prosecutor.
The Ories demonstrated that they were good repugicans the moment they were led away on chains by blaming their convictions on a Democrat.
According to WTAE,
The Ories have argued the prosecution is the result of a political vendetta by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., a Democrat, who has repeatedly denied ulterior motives.
When the investigation first became public in late 2009, the sisters claimed they were being targeted because Zappala’s family has interests in legalized gambling, which the Ories opposed expanding in Pennsylvania.
The allegations grew uglier, when Melvin — after it was known Sen. Orie was being investigated but before the justice was charged — called for an audit of two child care centers that paid kickbacks to two judges in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County who sent troubled youths to the facilities. The facilities were co-owned by Gregory Zappala, the prosecutor’s brother, who was never charged in the scheme and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
repugicans always claim that Democrats are corrupt and/or corrupting something. This is their standard excuse for voter suppression and voter ID laws. It is their excuse for destroying the social safety net, as in, “welfare queens and corrupt African Americans abusing food stamps.” It is even their excuse for their opposition to gun control, “We need our guns to defend against the tyranny of the government.”
What the Orie convictions remind us of again is that repugicans talk about Democrats being corrupt, but the repugicans are the ones who are committing the crimes. There is Scott Walker’s misuse of staff for his gubernatorial campaign in Wisconsin, or a Maggie Brooks who used government-contracted laborers’ work on her political campaign. The kind of corruption the Orie sisters were convicted of appears to be the norm in repugican politics.
The next time some repugican tries to tell you tall tales about “Obama’s corruption” remind them of the Orie sisters and all the other repugicans who have really been convicted of the crimes that they accuse the president of committing.
repugicans should know all about political corruption. After all, they’re the ones doing it most of it.

Jumping the Commie Shark

Ted Cruz’s McCarthyism is Indicative of a lost cabal
ted cruz
It seems everyone is calling repugican Senator Ted Cruz the new McCarthy. He’s got a list of Commies and he’s not afraid of innuendo. He’s a wanna-be McCarthy, harkening back to the good old days when repugican paranoia took hold of a nation. There’s not one “new McCarthy” in the repugican cabal, but rather a party of new McCarthys. This is an important distinction, and speaks to the inevitable extinction of the party if they don’t do something soon.
Chris Matthews noted five days ago that the repugican cabal is using ‘Cold War CIA tactics’ to bring down the U.S. government (Matthews might be slow to get there but when he shows up, it’s with a bang):
“If they didn’t like a government somewhere — Guatemala, Iran, the Dominican Republic, Chile — they just brought it down,” he said. “Guess what, Republicans are now using the same tactic here at home. If they don’t like who we’ve elected president, they find some way to undermine the government, discredit its leaders, whatever it takes to destroy it.”
That repugicans are using the same tactics they used against foreign governments here, in their own country, should come as no surprise.
You might remember Ted Cruz (r-TX) from his Glenn Beckian/Sarah Palinesque “pallin around with” smears from the Chuck Hagel (r-NE) confirmation hearings or his charge that decorated veterans Kerry and Hagel do not support the military. Cruz’s ready hawking of any conspiracy that comes down the pike isn’t a new thing, or even a function of his freshman status as Senator.
Yesterday, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker wrote about Cruz’s “list” of Harvard Commies intent on taking over our government (Harvard disputes most of Cruz’s allegations, and pointed out that Cruz knew several repugicans teaching at Harvard — but facts are not in Cruz’s thing). Yes, two years ago, while speaking at a Koch funded gathering, Cruz accused Harvard Law School of harboring a dozen Communists/Marxists who wanted the Commies to overthrow the U.S. government. He also connected the Beck dots to Obama, Harvard, Commies & Marxism:
He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared repugicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one repugican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
So according to Cruz, “overthrowing the United States government” is a bad thing when it comes from imaginary Marxists hiding out at Harvard. But repugicans need assault weapons in case they need to overthrow the Obama tyranny. They tell us this every day, with a lack of embarrassment that exemplifies just how deeply they’ve ensconced themselves in the paranoid, conservative bubble of preppers and birthers.
Senator Cruz is all too happy to help bring down the government, by slinging baseless, reckless accusations meant to stop the Secretary of Defense from being confirmed, wasting votes on repealing ObamaCare when he admits it will go nowhere, and voting no on John Kerry’s confirmation just so he can check “Obstructionist” as part of his 2016 tea party résumé. Ah, wingnut “patriotism”.
Senator Cruz has no problem dragging out Glenn Beck’s chalkboard in order to accuse other officials of being anti-American. Senator Cruz keeps lists, you know. He just won’t share them with us.
Cruz, like Rubio, has allowed the narrative that his family fled Castro to take root, when in fact, his father fought with Fidel Castro to free Cuba. So if anyone could be labeled a Commie based on associations alone…
And that might be just the reason why Cruz has gone pure White Hooded Accuser. He may feel he has to distance himself from his own past, lest the tea party base not understand nuance (haha). Ted Cruz told the Dallas News that his father allied with Castro’s forces because “they didn’t know Castro was a Communist, what they knew was that Batista was a cruel and oppressive dictator.”
It’s odd that Cruz is the first to point fingers without proof, and doesn’t understand that being on the same side on one issue does not a Communist make, since that is his argument in defense of his father (and one that sounds plausible, I might add).
In Mayer’s piece, a repugican Harvard Law Professor laments that Cruz must have changed. You see, he remembers him as “very bright, very hard-working and very conservative, in a well-mannered, agreeable way. This surprises me. It suggests he’s changed.”
It’s not just that Cruz has changed; but rather that wingnuttery has changed. The repugican cabal has changed. Wingnuttery now suggests a radical agenda to destroy the US government from within, proud prayers of wanting the President to die, and paranoid rantings about “Commies and libs” in the US government (see Bachmann, Cruz) who need to be investigated. Elected Republicans accused one of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aides of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Cruz’s behavior is hardly new.
The wingnut delusion is stuck in the time period in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of Commie subversion. (Newsflash: “liberal” is not an insult; in fact, according to polling, “repugican” is the insult.)
The wild-eyed craziness of the modern day repugican cabal is the result of their refusal to admit that they are no longer the party of fiscal responsibility or national security. They ceded both of those platform identifiers to the Democratic Party. All they have left is social issues, and those are running dry. So now we come to the imaginary list of Commies, being held by the guy whose dad fought with Castro, and who is anti-”amnesty”. The last hurrah.
The man whose father fought with Castro thinks that he is more American and more patriotic than his political opponents. So American that he can accuse them of being Commies intent on overthrowing the US government and no one will laugh in his face. This is called jumping the Commie shark.
Even better, the tea party (home of the birthers) is salivating at the idea of Cruz as President. Yeah, because his father fought with Castro and that is so much better than being black.
Republicans miss the good old days when they were winning with red scares and Cold War policy. Denied that, they have turned inward on their own country. Luckily, repugicans have an endless parade of disposable clowns who are willing to sacrifice their long term political goals for the short term gains of today’s imaginary battle.

Unhinged repugicans Completely Abandon Reality With Latest Sequester Lies

GOP unhinged3
There are occasions that a person relates a story that is purely imaginary, or seemingly so remarkable as to elicit disbelief that one may question the person’s sanity, or if they are fabricating facts why they are averse to veracity. The problem with people who manufacture facts is that after one or two times being exposed as out-of-touch with reality, or after being caught lying repeatedly, is that even sympathetic folks tend to disbelieve anything the person says. repugicans and their punditry have finally gone so far off the rails to avoid any responsibility for the sequester that they are blatantly lying and revising the historical record of the past four years. Either conservatives have abandoned reality, or have just awoken from a four-year coma, because the statements they are making about President Obama are nothing short of insane, and thoroughly false.
Some well-known wingnut talking heads joined repugicans impugning the President’s handling of the repugican cabal’s push for the sequester cuts to be implemented, and picked up where John Boehner left off in his desperation attempt to blame the sequester on the President. Yesterday, wingnuts lashed out at the President and accused him of not reaching out to repugicans in a spirit of compromise, and that he has offered absolutely nothing in the way of a proposal to address the sequester problem or any issue throughout his first term.
Jennifer Rubin disparaged President Obama as being nothing likewingnut god Ronald Reagan, and said, “Greatness comes not in lacerating your opponents but by enlisting them, something the president has been entirely incapable of doing. He has achieved virtually nothing on a bipartisan basis.” David Brooks, an allegedly moderate wingnut said, “The president identifies a problem. Then he declines to come up with a proposal to address the problem. Then he comes up with a vague-but-politically-convenient concept that doesn’t address the problem. The president hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration;” except that the President submitted a detailed plan that required concessions from Democrats and repugicans including spending cuts and new revenue. Ron Fournier, explained that if the President were truly interested in compromise, he would exhibit true leadership and make “tough choices that would anger his liberal base far more than the president is doing now; imposing sacrifice on all voters, including the middle class; and risking his high approval ratings.  The first thing that comes to mind is that an all-spending-cuts solution is not out of the question. Indeed, it’s what Obama and the country are going to get if a deal is not reached March 1.”
Fournier, unknowingly explained the repugicans’ position throughout President Obama’s first term, and it is they will hold any issue hostage until they get what they want without giving any concessions. Greg Sargent asked, “Is there anything the president could do that would get more cooperation from repugicans, aside from giving them everything they want?” The answer, and Fournier’s remedy, like all conservatives, is that the only course of action for the President is a distorted sense of compromise entailing sheer obedience to repugicans’ agenda, because one way or another, it is what the country is going to get.
First, it is stunning that wingnuts have devised this parallel universe where repugicans were open to compromise, or willing to approach any issue over the past four years in a spirit of bipartisanship or cooperation for the good of the country. Perhaps they forgot that on Inauguration night 2009, repugicans conspired to obstruct any proposal from the President, and followed through throughout his entire first term including jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States, and earned America its first credit downgrade in history. Still, the repugican cabal has remained resolute that unless they are granted carte blanche to impose drastic cuts to entitlements, safety nets, and domestic programs, they will cause a credit default, crash the economy, or allow sequester cuts to protect tax increases on the rich or close tax loopholes that benefit the rich and corporations. In fact, Eric Cantor saidWe are faced with the negative effects of the sequester because Democrats have not been able to take even the smallest step towards controlling spending.” Pure fantasy, and totally false.
President Obama has already accepted more than $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and over $2.4 trillion in debt reduction. The deficit has been cut in half over four years; the President’s plan includes an additional $600 billion as a compromise to avoid the sequester. The debt has fallen faster than any time since the demobilization after World War II, and it caused a slowdown in GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2012. However, it is not enough for repugicans who continue trumpeting their sequester replacement cuts in the House during the 112th Congress, and  will not be satisfied until they privatize Medicare, eliminate food stamps for over a million working poor, cut school lunches, and slash Social Security. All the while, they are standing firm and  willing to crash the economy in their rejection of any new revenue the American people overwhelmingly agree must be part of any debt, sequester, or deficit reduction plan. The type of plan, by the way, the President has proposed and promoted for the past four years and repugicans rejected on principle and pain of economic downturn.
The wingnuts are living in fantasy land if they believe for a minute there is anything President Obama can do to “encourage” repugicans to  compromise or work for the benefit of the nation’s economic health. It is important to remember, that throughout the President’s first term he was reviled by the left for caving to repugicans as he attempted to prevent a credit default or get any benefit for the people such as unemployment benefit extensions, payroll tax cuts, middle class tax cuts, and drastically necessary things like disaster relief. repugicans’ consternation now is the President is finished conceding every issue without compromise and it flummoxes wingnuts that the American people are behind the President’s agenda and re-elected him with the expectation that he follow through on his promises.
Still, the President has given repugicans a plan and John Boehner said the President should pressure Senate Democrats to offer a sequester replacement plan after they offered one up. House Democrats and the Progressive Caucus also submitted replacement plans and repugicans are on hiatus complaining the President is not pushing Senate Democrats to make a replacement offer. repugicans, and their punditry, are making assertions and statements that are so far out of the realm of reality that one might think they are either insane, or pathological liars. Considering that they read the news, are contacted by the President, and actually see proposals from Democrats, they are not insane or living in a fantasy; just totally unhinged and rank liars.

Lush Dimbulb Can’t Be As Ashamed of America As We Are Of Him

Lush Dimbulb said that he is still embarrassed and ashamed of America, but Lush can’t be nearly as ashamed of America as we are of him.
Here is the audio from Media Matters:
Transcript via Lush Dimbulb:
DIMBulb: Anyway, my point with all this is that for 25 years, folks, we’ve been dealing with the same premise: “Unless we spend another dime, the country is going to cease to exist,” and for 25 years I have responded to each premise on what I call an intellectual, point-by-point basis refuting every claim. The purpose of this program has been to create as large a body of informed voting citizens as possible. While we’ve been largely and profoundly successful at that, the left has beaten us.
They have created far more low-information, unaware, uneducated people than we’ve been able to keep up with. We’ve had a profound impact in improving, increasing that universe of people — citizens — who are in the arena of ideas now, who are informed and educated. I’ve always had a Civics 101 view of the country: People get what they want, they vote what they want, and they get the way they vote.
And if a majority of people are educated and informed and know what’s going on, liberalism — and these powerful forces that have ill intent to the country — can be defeated. Yet despite overwhelming success in creating more and more people who are informed and active and involved, the left has control of the education system — control of the pop culture, movies, TVs, books, music. We’ve just been outnumbered.
The way they’ve done it is to create more and more dependency, and then every so often tell those people that they’re about to lose it all because of the repugicans. That’s what we’re going through now with the sequester business, which was an idea of the president of the United States. This guy gets away with not even being seen as governing. He’s seen as a campaigning outsider on the side of the low-information voters.
He’s trying to help them, protect them, save them from the ravages of people like me, supposedly, who want to take everything away from them. I’m just tired of having to defend this. It’s absurd, and it makes me ashamed. It makes me ashamed that we have sunk and descended to this level in our politics. In order for the left to be able to advance, they require ignorance, and as much ignorance as possible. I don’t mean stupidity. Genuine, real ignorance.
People don’t know what’s going on. They require more and more of that in order to be successful. The left does not want an informed, participating bloc of people. They want people that don’t know what’s going on. They want people that can be frightened. They want people that can be scared to death. And they do it. The first time it was ridiculous. To actually have to spend time here and tell people, “No, the repugicans do not want your kids to starve.” It’s insulting.
Back during the budget battle of 1995, that was the battle cry: repugicans want to starve our kids, and the repugicans, like anybody else, said, “Nobody’s gonna believe this,” and they didn’t actively refute it. People believed it. It makes me ashamed that the Democrats can get away with this. It makes me embarrassed and ashamed of this country. Now, normally the left would love this. The left doesn’t like America. They would think, “Oh, wow, Limbaugh’s on our side.” The only problem for them is I’m saying this while one of theirs is president.
Actually, the person that really hates America is Lush Dimbulb. The wingnut talker is speaking for the lunatic fringe of repugicans when he claims to be ashamed of his country.
Why are Dimbulb and his fellow repugicans ashamed of America?
They are “ashamed” because the country elected Barack Obama twice. They are “ashamed” because the American people have rejected the agenda of taking from the poor to give to the rich. They are “ashamed” of a country where a majority supports equal rights for gays, protecting the rights of women, and immigration reform. They are “ashamed” of a nation where the majority is becoming younger, female, and not white. They are “ashamed” of progress. They are “ashamed” that the majority still believes in equality of economic opportunity.
What Dimbulb doesn’t seem to understand is that we are ashamed of him. We are ashamed of his bigotry. We are ashamed of his racism. We are ashamed of ignorance. We are ashamed of his lies. We are ashamed of his bitterness. We are ashamed of his attempts to divide us. We are ashamed of his lack of patriotism. We are ashamed that Dimbulb’s warped view of our country is broadcast to our troops around the world via Armed Forces Radio. We are ashamed that one of our two major political parties is terrified of a drugged out fat man broadcasting out of his house in Florida. While we are proud to support Dimbulb’s right to express his opinions, we are ashamed of the people who are deluded into ingesting his daily doses of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and hate.
There is no way that Lush Dimbulb could be more ashamed of America, than a majority of Americans are of him.

In all honesty ...

Saturday, February 23

The repugicans Love to Regulate When it Benefits Their Wealthy Friends

repugicans purportedly abhor regulations. Such regulations would include reasonable guidance for Wall Street/financial, health care, small business, educational and most particularly, any regulation that has to do with the environment and guns.
The typical repugican would much rather see children die of asthma and assorted respiratory diseases, cancer or any other pollutants that corporate factories introduce into innocent kid’s systems via the atmosphere. The repugican cabal doesn’t care about kids. That was irrefutably proven in the right-wing reaction or lack thereof to the 20 deaths of 6 and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary. And if the wanton killing of 6 and 7-year-old children doesn’t shake loose at least a few firearms, you’re a moral zombie and that pretty well describes the current crop of repugicans.
Being totally cuckoo for 30 capacity mags, these zombies will heartily endorse gun legislation that was recently advanced in the South Carolina State Senate that would pre-empt federal gun laws and allow concealed carry in restaurants. “Will that be a table for 2 and a high chair for your .223 Bushmaster?”
So rapacious are these zombies to gun-up America that in the wake of Sandy Hook, one gun dealer after another quickly sold out of their heavy weaponry and ammo and had back-orders a mile long. That’s how much deaths of precious children mean to zombie wingnuts.
Much has been written that some kind of meaningful gun regulations will come out of the 113th Congress. ROTFLMAO!!! There will be tissue-paper thin background check regs mirroring what already exists that will pass as a response to Sandy Hook and other obscene minute-by-minute murders and suicides that mark our gun culture. The Feinstein “exceptions” bill is pure snake oil and any hope for anything meaningful was dashed the day the President read off his gun reform Executive Orders to the mass guffaws and criticisms of Congressional repugicans, the NRA and gun manufacturers.
However, you must recognize a truism that has gone fundamentally unreported in today’s media. repugicans do believe in regulation. It’s the degree of regulation that separates them from the Democrats. Take the environment. repugicans vote all the time for environmental regulations. And in every case they vote on the side of the special interests. They’ll vote “yea” on environmental regulations for instance if they’re severely watered-down versions of tougher Democratic bills. They’ll just not vote for regulations that save lives. Same for the gun culture. Death, no matter the age or circumstance is not part of the equation. Only the guns and wealthy corporate polluters matter.
We’ve all heard of the Norquist tax pledge; how about the “No Climate Tax Pledge?” It’s sponsored by the Koch Brothers Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the far-right climate deniers and tobacco industry puppets, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and National Taxpayers Union (NTU) headed by the former Executive Director of ALEC. The pledge: “I pledge to the taxpayers of my state, and to the American people, that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” Legislators will be cognisant that no regulations violate this sacred clever pledge. One that would guarantee that any efforts to address climate change would lack funding.
Under the constituent-friendly pretext of defending the population against the greenhouse gases corporate crowd, former prosecutor and my Congressional Representative Trey Gowdy makes grand pronouncements like “Aggressive prosecution of environmental crime is one of the best ways to show good stewardship of what we have been given.”
This gratuitous politicizing, backed by no action, was mouthed while voting yes on House Amendment 88 tacked onto the H.R. 1 spending bill. The amendment blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from funding enforcement to lower mercury emissions from U.S. cement plants that kill an estimated 8,100 people a year according to EPA estimates. Gowdy also supported industry friendly H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011. The cement folks drop $8,500 (about a buck for each annual death) on Gowdy’s campaign for the privilege of his votes. In spite of Gowdy, meaningful regulations remain in place, though they are at least 2 years or more away from enforcement.
There’s one slice of American life where repugicans really embrace regulations. The regulating of the most personal human interaction of all – marriage. In fact regulation of marriage is rampant in America. repugican homophobes introduced and codified most of these regulations in the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, state legislation, ballot initiatives or by way of state Constitutional Amendments. Of our 50 states, 42 of them “regulate” marriage to the point that a gay couple’s marriage would either not be recognized as legal or out-and-out denied. That’s 42 states effecting the most stringent regulation of all.
Women’s reproductive rights? Wingnuts are extraordinarily vigilant in regulating any and all such rights. Wisconsin is in the process of forcing transvaginal ultrasounds on newly-pregnant women. Virginia’s baby-faced and baby-brained Governor, Bob McDonnell, tried the same thing early last year before caving in to public pressures from thinking human beings. Draconian anti-abortion repugican regulations abound in a number of states; including Virginia and its Neanderthal peers in North Dakota, Mississippi and Michigan to mention but a few and the roster expands with every new session of red state legislatures. Regulations? They’re crawling out of state legislatures like stirred up fire ant mounds.
Parenthetically contraception also falls under the repugican ‘regulatory’ category. There’s an entire body of secular regulations (at least for catholics) based on events from a couple of thousand years ago. Talk about your sophisticated lawmaking. A young guy named Onan, on papa Judah’s orders, laid his dead brother Er’s widow, Tamar, but pulled out early, thereby spilling his potentially impregnating seed. Media reports at the time (most likely from Wolf Blitzer of the christ news network) said Onan repeated the act on several occasions. “Spilling” your seed was a no no for which the Lord “slew” the second brother. Er had also ticked off the Lord resulting in an identical fate. Thus followed a “slew” of contraception regulations.
So there. Like daily fiber repugicans do, indeed, regulate; often with the same result.

The repugican’s version of VAWA Should be called the Defense of Violence Against Women Act

Rather than voting up or down on the Senate’s Violence Against Women Act, House repugicans counter offered with a watered down version, which can be read here.  The House version, predictably, excludes Native women and members of the LGBT Community. Yes, this is a sort of dejavu moment. The last time repugicans also objected to protecting immigrant woman from violence.
After gaining assurances that visas granted to abused women from outside the United States would be limited, the repugican cabl decided that since there wouldn’t be an “invasion” of abused immigrant women, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to include them in the Violence Against Women Act.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that this change of heart is another attempt by the repugican cabal to convince people that they really are pro-Immigrant, or at least less anti-Immigrant than they were before the 2012 election.
I’ve seen some outrageous attempts at explanations for why Senate repugicans voted against the VAWA.
According to Senator Chuck Grassley (r-IA)
One provision that non-Native Americans can be tried in tribal court. And why is that a big thing? Because of the constitutionality of it, for two reasons. One, you know how the law is, that if you have a jury, the jury is supposed to be a reflection of society. [...] So you get non-Indians, let me say to make it easy, you get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted. They aren’t prosecuted. So the idea behind [VAWA] is we’ll try them in tribal court. But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.
Marco “gulp” Rubio  opposed the bill because, according to his statement,  it would divert funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs. We all know just how concerned repugicans are about prosecuting rapists.
Last month, we observed.
Congress, Paul Ryan and Todd Akin attempted to redefine violent sexual assault in terms of the “legitimacy” of a rape, and although the notion that violent sexual intrusion would be considered illegitimate offended decent Americans’ humanity, wingnut anti-life christians cheered the repugican cabal's language.
According to Rubio, it means Indian Tribes could have criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who abuse women, which like Grassley’s “argument” is factually inaccurate.
There is only one substantive explanation for the omissions in the House Bill.  Just as repugicans defend the rape culture in America, they are more willing to defend domestic abusers than their victims.  Then there’s that all important reason, as explained by Rep. Rep. John Duncan (r-TN), the name of the bill sounds like too much like motherhood and apple pie.
Every bill is given a motherhood-and-apple-pie title …But if you voted [based] on the title, you’d vote for every bill up here. If we’d all done that, the country would have crashed a long time ago… So this is another bill with a motherhood-and-apple-pie title …Like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can.
This has nothing to do with an imagined expansion of Tribal jurisdiction. This is not about the bill’s name. Since at least some repugicans are sensitive about that, how about a more appropriate name for the House Republican bill.  I proposes the Defense of Violence Against Certain Women and All Men Act.
The Senate version of VAWA isn’t about protecting frail women from violence because they “can’t handle it.” It does have everything to do with the fact that no one should have to handle it, endure it and eventually die as a result of it. I will concede however, that argument coincides with the repugican mindset on so many levels. It infers that, like rape, there are different classes of domestic violence. There are people who deserve protection from violent behavior and others who don’t.
First, let’s dispense with Senator Grassley’s stated concern about jury pools.
According to The National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, ”Section 904 of S.1925 contains explicit language that tribes exercising authority under these new provisions must draw from jury pools that reflect a fair cross-section of the community and do not systematically exclude any distinct group of people, including non-Indians.”
Marco Rubio’s claim that the VAWA unconstitutionally expands Tribal jurisdiction is just as factually inaccurate as Senator Grassley’s claim. From The National Taskforce to End sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women. ”The civil jurisdiction found in Section 905 already exists under the full faith & credit clauses of VAWA 2000. S.1925 simply clarifies the intent of this earlier reauthorization by making clear that tribes have full civil authority to issue and enforce protection orders against Indians and non-Indians alike regarding matters arising in Indian country.”
In other words, the repugican cabal’s opposition to provisions protecting Native American women is about as consistent with reality as rainbow colored unicorns.
The House repugican’s poor substitute for the VAWA also excludes the LGBT community.
Marsha Blackburn had a moment of Sarah Palin logic, when explaining her opposition to provisions protecting members of the LGBT community in the Senate version of VAWA. ”It used to be women, and we wanted to keep it focused on women … Many of those that we’ve talked to in law enforcement have encouraged us to do that.”
Oh, I see. So then we don’t care about the 850,000 men who are abused by their domestic partners every year because THEY can handle it.  Are we to believe that on Blackburn’s planet lesbians aren’t women and there are no women who are bi-sexual?
If the issue really was about focusing on women, Blackburn and the repugican cabal would have seen fit to include provisions for Native American in this version of their watered down VAWA and for that matter, immigrant women who were left out of their previous defense of violence against certain people act.
These excuses are malarkey.
We see it in state level repugican  initiatives like “license to bully” laws in Michigan,  along with Duncan and Blackburn’s state, Tennesee
Tennessee is also home of the Don’t Say Gay bill  re-introduced (the previous version failed) by State Rep Rep. John Ragan (r) who, in regard to same-sex attraction, told a constituent “feelings do not control the behavior of a mentally healthy adult human being.”
Who can forget Michele Bachmann’s response when asked why same sex couples can’t get married? ”They can get married,” Bachmann responded. “But they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.”
One can also look to how the repugican cabal treats gays and lesbians in their ever-shrinking “big tent.” While being gay or lesbian and a politician within the repugican cabal is possible, as Peter Beinart observes: “Gays now serve openly in the Marine Corps, but being a gay or lesbian politician in the repugican cabal still generally requires staying in the closet—at least until you’re outed in some humiliating scandal.”
Nothing speaks more loudly to the repugican’s homophobia than the stated reasons repugican lawmakers opposed the repeal of DADT   along with House Speaker Boehner’s costly obsession with defending the Defense Of Marriage Act.
The House repugican’s watered down version of the VAWA is more about preserving their bigotry than anything about protecting women or anyone else from violence. In fact, according to a statement from NOW President Terry O’Neill, “The new House bill purposely excludes LGBT survivors and even rolls back existing programs and protections for all survivors in the current VAWA.”
I can see their big tent shrinking from my house.

Facts are facts

Here's 127 corporations that want to “Fix the Debt” by gutting your retirement

The CEOs of the following corporations don’t think they have enough money — perhaps because they don’t have it all. So they got together a little group called “Fix the Debt” to cobble up some more. The source of their added wealth? Your government retirement and medical insurance programs. You know, Social Security and Medicare. ‘Cause all your money aren’t yet belong to them; you still have some left.I wrote about Fix the Debt earlier, the truly bipartisan group that wants Obama to do what he also wants to do, reduce the safety net. The following is a list of corporations who are driven by their millionaire and billionaire CEOs to help him get ‘er done.
The source is the amazing group SourceWatch. Also amazing — the list itself. Take a gander:




C cont.











M cont.











See anyone you recognize, or patronize? Their CEO told me to tell you Thanks.

Cheating in the private sector so as to better screw the public sector

From Crooks and Liars...
For-Profit School Backed By Tennessee repugican cabal Caught Deleting Bad Grades

It never ceases to amaze me, that voters keep falling for the same old tricks. An already-expensive school system will magically perform even better when a private company slashes costs in order to skim a layer of profit off the top? It hasn't worked yet. Instead, these for-profit schools continue to manufacture scandal and fraud -- yet the Very Important People on both sides of the aisle continue to push them as a solution. Via Raw Story:

A for-profit school that was hyped by repugican lawmakers as a solution to Tennessee's education problems recently admitted deleting bad grades to "more accurately recognize students' current progress."

A December email obtained by WTVF showed that Tennessee Virtual Academy's vice principal instructed middle school teachers to delete "failing grades" from October and September.

"After … looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays," the email says, adding that each teacher needed to "take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress."

"If you have given an assignment and most of your students failed that assignment, then you need to take that grade out."

Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson said she was horrified because the school's instructions amounted to cheating.

Students unimpressed by 20ft high cabbage statue at entrance to campus

Students at a school in southern China were baffled when a 20ft high statue of a cabbage appeared at the entrance to their campus.

"Statues are supposed to inspire us to produce great work. What's a cabbage supposed to inspire?" said one pupil at the Qianshan No. 2 Middle School in Jiangxi province.

The fibreglass statue is a tribute to a 17th century leader Da Jiliang who painted a cabbage to inspire himself to work hard. In Mandarin, cabbage is pronounced 'baicai', with 'bai' meaning white, or impossible to corrupt.

Headmaster Liu Wang explained: "Students who don't know why this statue is here don't know their own history. This cabbage should inspire them to produce their best work with a pure spirit," he added.


Potsdam's Abandoned Nazi and Soviet Military Complex
The buildings at Krampnitz are falling into ruin; a far cry from the grand installation that once housed Nazi and then Soviet military. More

The Town that was Submerged for 25 Years

Southwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina, lies a salt lake called Lago Epecuen. Like many mineral springs, a spa industry grew up and and the nearby village boomed into a thriving community called Villa Epecuen.
The town’s population peaked in the 1970s with more than 5,000. Nearly 300 businesses thrived, including hotels, hostels, spas, shops, and museums.

Around the same time, a long-term weather event was delivering far more rain than usual to the surrounding hills for years, and Lago Epecuen began to swell. On 10 November 1985 the enormous volume of water broke through the rock and earth dam and inundated much of the town under four feet of water. By 1993, the slow-growing flood consumed the town until it was covered in 10 meters of water.

Nearly 25 years later, in 2009, the wet weather reversed and the waters began to recede. Villa Epecuen started coming back to the surface.
What emerged from the water looks like a post-apocalyptic movie set. The streets and blocks are there, and buildings, furniture, and carefully-planted trees are quite visible, even in their wrecked condition. See lots of pictures at Amusing Planet.

A Brick from the Roman Empire Discovered in Washington State

Chemical analysis indicates that this brick--embelished with a cat's pawprints--is of Roman origin. How did it end up in the western United States? It is likely that the Hudson's Bay Company, a British corporation that explored and settled the Pacific Northwest, shipped it to Fort Vancouver all the way from Britain. Alexis Madrigal writes in The Atlantic:
While there were roughly 25 Native American tribes in the region, there were not any brickmakers among them, which meant there weren't any bricks. So, the Hudson's Bay Company, which ran the Fort, had to order them from a world away.
"You can certainly bring over brickmakers to look at the local lays and the Columbia River silts are great for making common brick. But at the time, when they are out there establishing their post, if they want some brick for their chimney, there just isn't any," Gurcke said, when I reached him at his job with the Park Service in Skagway, Alaska. "So they ship them from, in this case, England. We do have some records of them shipping bricks very early from England."


Saturday, February 23

Will the Universe End in a Bubble of Doom?

We may have survived the Large Hadron Collider, but the Higgs boson still has a trick up its sleeves. According to new findings on the "Higgs-like" particle discovered last year, the universe will end in a bubble of doom.
"If you use all the physics that we know now, and we do what we think is a straightforward calculation, it's bad news," Lykken said. "It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable. At some point, billions of years from now, it's all going to be wiped out."
He said the parameters for our universe, including the Higgs mass value as well as the mass of another subatomic particle known as the top quark, suggest that we're just at the edge of stability, in a "metastable" state. Physicists have been contemplating such a possibility for more than 30 years. Back in 1982, physicists Michael Turner and Frank Wilczek wrote in Nature that "without warning, a bubble of true vacuum could nucleate somewhere in the universe and move outwards at the speed of light, and before we realized what swept by us our protons would decay away."
Lykken put it slightly differently: "The universe wants to be in a different state, so eventually to realize that, a little bubble of what you might think of as an alternate universe will appear somewhere, and it will spread out and destroy us."
But you've got time, it likely won't happen for a few billions of years: More

It's the Climate, Stupid

Forecast is for more snow in polar regions, less for the rest of us

A new cli­mate model pre­dicts an increase in snow­fall for the Earth’s polar regions and high­est alti­tudes, but an over­all drop in snow­fall for the globe, as car­bon diox­ide lev­els rise over the next century. [...]

Siberia Thaw

CaveSiberia permafrost thaw warning

Evidence from Siberian caves suggests that a global temperature rise of 1.5C could see permafrost thaw over a large area of Siberia.

Douglas Mawson's Trip Into the Unknown

In 1912, Douglas Mawson and 31 other men set out to explore the uncharted territory of Antarctica in the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE). They traveled in teams of three men each, with sleds, sled dogs, and supplies. But Antarctica, unmapped and with no wireless communication, was a treacherous place to explore. Mawson's team suffered from weather and calamities, until Mawson was alone, trying desperately to get back to the staging area before the annual supply ship left. But then he fell into a crevasse.
Miraculously, the sledge stuck fast in the deep snow, anchoring him. But as his eyes adjusted to the semidarkness, Mawson saw how hopeless his predicament was. He dangled free in space, the crevasse walls too far away to reach even with the wild swing of a boot. His first thought came as a searing regret that he had not had the chance to eat the last ounces of his food before he died.

His only chance to escape was to pull himself hand over hand up the harness rope. Providentially, he had tied knots in the rope at regular intervals. He seized the first knot and pulled himself upward, then lunged for the next. Even for a fit, healthy man, such a feat would have been barely possible; yet Mawson pulled, rested, and lunged again. He reached the lip of the crevasse and tried to roll onto the surface above.

That effort broke loose the overhanging lip. Mawson fell all the way to the end of his harness rope. Despair overwhelmed him. He pondered slipping out of the harness to plunge to the bottom of the crevasse, ending things at once rather than by strangling or slowly freezing. At that moment, a verse from his favorite poet, Robert Service, flashed through his mind: “Just have one more try—it’s dead easy to die, / It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.”
Read the story of Mawson's first Antarctic expedition at National Geographic magazine .

Promising New Technique for Probing Earth’s Deep Interior

Promising New Technique for Probing Earth’s Deep Interior

National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded researchers at Amherst College in Massachusetts and the University of Texas at Austin have described a new technique based in particle physics that might one day reveal, in more detail [...]

The Delicate Architecture of Water Droplets

Fragile and fleeting, these beautiful droplets of water create their own architecture – captured brilliantly in these stunning macro photographs. More

Here's some interesting tree biology

The image above shows an entirely natural phenomenon, occurring inside the hollow (rotten) core of a white pine.
Whorled branch cores look like spokes inside the trunk of a white pine, top. The cores were resistant to the rot that consumed the center of the tree, which walled off the damage and continued to grow new wood for more than 20 years.
When I was a little kid, my parents and I used to search the woods for fallen rotten pine logs.  Opening them would sometimes reveal two treasures - grubs that could be used for fishing bait, and "knots" I suppose similar to the above, which were fragrant additions to the fireplace.

Random Photo

Weather radar catches massive bug swarm over New Zealand's North Island

A vast swarm of bugs that covered much of the northern half of the North Island of New Zealand on Thursday night and Friday morning has been caught on the Metservice weather radar. MetService do not know what it was and entomologists are puzzled.
One was convinced it was the Tasmanian grass grub and another suspected huge swarm of aphids. Metservice's Peter Kreft said the unknown insects began swarming over the Waikato region at around 9pm on Thursday. "They were pushed by the south easterly wind north toward Auckland," he said.

By around 7am on Friday the massive swarm was out over the Tasman Sea, west of Auckland. Kreft said the weather service was not sure what it was.  "We strongly suspect the echo is swarms of insects," Metservice says.

"To show up in radar imagery like this, they must be about as large as, and as numerous as, precipitation particles.... We see this from time to time, but this one is a very good example of it." Entomologist Stephen Pawson of Scion, a Crown research institute said at a guess the timings favored Tasmanian grass grub (aphodius tasmaniae), an introduced agricultural pest.

There's an animated gif showing the movement of the swarm here.

A Cow Wearing Pants

cow pants
Well, I should think so! Young lady, you are not leaving this barn without looking decent. Call it research if you like, but as this article from a 1937 issue of Modern Mechanix reminds us, even cows must comport themselves with modesty.

The Toxic Mice Air Drop

Sixty years ago, the brown tree snake hitched a ride on US military ships to Guam. With no predators to check their population, the snakes multiplied in the jungle of the island and proceeded to drive many of the native bird species to extinction.
Now, the US government has found the perfect solution: air-dropping toxic mice to kill off the snakes.
The infestation and the toll it has taken on native wildlife have tarnished Guam's image as a tourism haven, though the snakes are rarely seen outside their jungle habitat.
The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.
The strategy takes advantage of the snake's two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn't kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.
The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage and if compromised would offer the snakes a potential ticket off the island. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one. [...]
To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.
Eric Talmadge of AP has the story and photos: Here.

Apex predators have great chemistry

What do top predators have to do with chemistry? Turns out, their presence (or lack thereof) can alter ecosystems, turning them from carbon sinks or carbon suppliers (and vice versa). Researchers from the University of British Columbia studied watery ecosystems in Canada and Costa Rica and found that, when the biggest fish were removed, carbon emissions increased. You wouldn't expect removing the apex predator to always increase emissions, but the simple fact that those animals can have an impact on emissions at all is totally fascinating.

Zoo chimpanzees get feel-good factor from brain teaser

220px-Schimpanse_zoo-leipigZoo chimpanzees get feel-good factor from brain teaser

A study, published today by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), shows that just like humans love getting stuck into a crossword, chimpanzees get the same feeling of satisfaction from completing tricky puzzles. Scientists set [...]

Animal News

Fruit flies force their young to drink alcohol — for their own good

When fruit flies sense parasitic wasps in their environment, they lay their eggs in an alcohol-soaked environment, essentially forcing their larvae to consume booze as a drug to combat the deadly wasps. The discovery by [...]

Remora Fish Inspires Super-Sticky Adhesive

When a shark is spotted in the ocean, humans and marine animals alike usually flee. But not the remora – this fish will instead swim right up to a shark and attach itself to the [...]