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

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Daily Drift


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Today in History

1622 Indians attack a group of colonists in the James River area of Virginia, killing 350 residents.
1630 The first legislation prohibiting gambling is enacted in Boston.
1664 Charles II gives large tracks of land from west of the Connecticut River to the east of Delaware Bay in North America to his brother James, the Duke of York.
1719 Frederick William abolishes serfdom on crown property in Prussia.
1765 The Stamp Act is passed, the first direct British tax on the American colonists.
1775 British statesman Edmund Burke makes a speech in the House of Commons, urging the government to adopt a policy of reconciliation with America.
1790 Thomas Jefferson becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State.
1794 Congress passes laws prohibiting slave trade with foreign countries although slavery remains legal in the United States.
1834 Horace Greeley publishes New Yorker, a weekly literary and news magazine and forerunner of Harold Ross' more successful The New Yorker.
1901 Japan proclaims that it is determined to keep Russia from encroaching on Korea.
1904 The first color photograph is published in the London Daily Illustrated Mirror.
1907 Russians troops complete the evacuation of Manchuria in the face of advancing Japanese forces.
1915 A German Zepplin makes a night raid on Paris railway stations.
1919 The first international airline service is inaugurated on a weekly schedule between Paris and Brussels.
1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill legalizing the sale and possession of beer and wine.
1935 Persia is renamed Iran.
1946 First U.S. built rocket to leave the Earth's atmosphere reaches a 50-mile height.
1948 The United States announces a land reform plan for Korea.
1954 The London gold market reopens for the first time since 1939.
1968 President Lyndon Johnson names General William Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff.
1972 The U.S. Senate passes the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment fails to achieve ratification.
1974 The Viet Cong propose a new truce with the United States and South Vietnam, which includes general elections.
1990 A jury in Anchorage, Alaska, finds Captain Hazelwood not guilty in the Valdez oil spill.

Non Sequitur


Sixteen Giant Corporations That Have Basically Stopped Paying Taxes - While Also Cutting Jobs!

The brackets are set for the big dance — the dance around tax responsibility. Most of the teams are in the bottom bracket. In this league, the lowest score wins.
Outside the stadium our nation's kids and seniors and low-income mothers may be dealing with  food and housing cuts, but on the corporate playing floor new low-tax records are being set again this year. Just as this is a golden age for sports, this is also, as noted by the  New York Times, "a golden age for corporate profits."
Corporations have simply stopped paying their taxes, perhaps using the 2008 recession as an excuse to plead hardship, but then never restoring their tax obligations when business got better. The facts are indisputable. For over 20 years, from 1987 to 2008, corporations paid an average of 22.5% in federal taxes. Since the recession, this has  dropped to 10% -- even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.
Pay Up Now just completed a compilation of corporate tax payments over the past five years, using  SEC data as reported by the companies themselves. The firms chosen are top-earners who have filed 10-K reports through 2012. Their US Tax figures represent the five-year total of "current" payments.
The 64 corporate teams paid just over  8% in taxes over the five-year period.
The Slink Sixteen
General Electric: The  worst tax record over five years, with $81 billion in profits and a $3 billion refund.
Boeing: In addition to receiving a refund despite $21.5 billion in profits, the company ranked high in  job cutting, underfunded pensions, and contractor misconduct.
Exxon Mobil: Made by far the largest profits in the group, but paid less than 1% in U.S. taxes, and yet received  oil subsidies along with their tax breaks. Unabashedly reports a 2012  "theoretical tax" of over $27 billion, almost 90% of its total income tax expense. The company was also near the top in  contractor misconduct.
Verizon: Second worst tax record, with a refund despite $48 billion in profits.
Kraft Foods: Received a refund from the public despite $13.5 billion in profits. Also a leading  job-cutter.
Citigroup: One of the five big banks who are estimated to get a  bailout/refund from the American public amounting to three cents from every tax dollar.
Dow Chemical: Received a refund despite almost $10 billion in profits.
IBM: Paid less than 3% in taxes while ranking as one of the leading  job cutters, and near the top in  contractor misconduct.
Chevron: In addition to a meager 4.3% tax rate and a share of oil subsidies, the company has been the main beneficiary of  tax-exempt government bonds.
FedEx: The company paid less than 5% in federal taxes while relying on the  publicly-funded Post Office to deliver thirty percent of its ground packages.
Honeywell: Less than 6% in taxes, a leading  job cutter, near the top in instances of  contractor misconduct, and run by the "Fix the Debt" CEO with the  largest pension fund.
An 8% tax rate, a leader in  job cuts and underfunded pensions, and in the top 20 of  contractor misconduct instances.
Notable for an 8.4% tax rate,  job cuts, offshore holdings, and the top U.S. spot on the  contractor misconduct dollar list.
Apple: Where to begin? Avoiding  federal taxes, avoiding  state taxes, hiding overseas earnings, engaging in  intellectual property schemes, using the  "Double Irish" to transfer profits from Europe to Bermuda, and  underpaying its store workers despite conducting most of its product and research development in the United States.
Pfizer: One of the leaders in stockpiling  untaxed profits overseas, and right behind Merck in  contractor misconduct dollars.
Google: A master at the  "Double Irish" revenue shift to Bermuda tax havens, while using tax loopholes to bring a lot of the money  back to the U.S. without paying taxes on it.  Recognized as one of the  world's biggest tax avoiders.
Microsoft: Named as one of the biggest  offshore hoarders while using tax strategies to bring much of their untaxed money back to the U.S., where it also  avoids state taxes.

The repugicans Attack the Voting Rights of People They Say They Need to Reach Out To

The repugicans are going to learn how to talk to women and minorities, and then spend ten million dollars on outreach to groups of people they alienated during the last election. There are just a few problems with that.
They can throw all the money at outreach that they want, the fact that they think money will solve anything demonstrates that they don’t understand their problem. People don’t like the stench of racial animosity, sexism, homophobia and social Darwinism so inherent in repugican policies and rhetoric. We recognize that whatever a repugican says, they mean the opposite.
When repugicans talk about job creation, they’re really out to kill as many jobs as they can in a single budget. Paul Ryan’s latest budget applies the same principles Americans rejected in November. It intends to kill the benefits provided under Obamacare, (but not the savings) destroy Medicare and replace it with coupons for what will be an even more unaffordable private healthcare system, destroy Social Security and Medicaid.  From a tax perspective, it’s Romneyhood all over again. Once again, he calls for an increase in the already bloated defense budget. Ryan’s previous budgets were brutally transparent statements of the repugican cabal’s priority of protecting the rich from paying their share of taxes.  The only difference between the previous Ryan budgets and this year’s version is this one is more devastating to the economy with more savage cuts (in addition to the ones we already have thanks to the repugican Sequester.)
The repugicans talk about how much they love America and freedom then smile as they declare war on your vote and further rig the electoral system.  Knowing how unappealing their job killing and xenophobic policies are in mainstream America, and believing the problem is the composition of the electorate, repugicans are done with listening to people beyond their own echo chamber.
Two more repugican controlled State legislatures passed voter ID laws in the past week.
Last week, North Carolina’s repugican hijacked legislature passed a voter ID law which will disenfranchise American citizens from the electoral process.  Previous attempts to suppress the vote in North Carolina was vetoed by Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, but repugican Governor McCrory already declared war on the vote so there is little doubt that he will sign this bill.
When McCrory first declared his war on the vote it was in the name of combatting non-existent voter fraud.  Last weekend, NC House Speaker Thomas Tillis admitted  what we already knew: voter ID laws are not passed to stop the fictional phantom of voter fraud.
There is some evidence of voter fraud, but that’s not the primary reason for doing this… We call this restoring confidence in government…There are a lot of people who are just concerned with the potential risk of fraud.
Translation: there are some repugicans who are just concerned that they can’t win elections unless they disenfranchise “certain” voters.
The pattern of who is most adversely affected by voter ID laws that we have seen in other states would repeat itself in NC.
According to the Progressive Pulse  African Americans represent 22% of North Carolina’s voters, but 31% of active voting African American do not have the ID they would need to vote under this law. The majority of NC’s active voters are women (54%) but 66% of women don’t have the photo ID needed to vote under this law. Seniors comprise 18% of North Carolina’s voters, but 26% don’t have the photo ID required under North Carolina’s voter suppression law.  The young vote represents 13% of North Carolina’s voters but 16% of them don’t have the photo ID that will be required by the ALEC inspired voter ID law.
The new excuse is voter suppression laws “would make nearly three-quarters of the population more comfortable and more confident when they go to the polls.”
the repugicans in Arkansas are the latest to declare their war on the vote. The state Senate passed their version of a photo ID law on Tuesday.
Under their version, voters who don’t present state accepted identification will be forced to cast a provisional ballot, which will only be counted if they return with a proper ID.  The accepted forms of ID include: a driver’s license, a passport, an employee badge, military ID, a student ID issued by an Arkansas school or a welfare card.
Under this law, the state must provide state ID without charge to registered voters who don’t have another form of acceptable ID. This will come at an estimated additional cost to the state of $300,000.
According to Reuters, the law passed along party lines in the Senate and with support from one Democrat in the State House. The same report points out that the State’s Attorney-General is considering whether the law passes muster under Arkansas’ constitution and it remains unclear if Democratic Governor Mike Beebe will sign the bill.
Of course, proponents of the law are making the same claims about statistically non-existent voter fraud with the new talking point chaser that this law will increase the legitimacy of elections. If it means racial minorities, women, seniors, and young voters are disenfranchised, so what.  That means repugican men will feel more secure about their vote.  If the propaganda is packaged just the right way, “you people” will stop getting so emotional about having a right to vote.

The repugicans Return to the Scene of the Crime and Threaten to Hold The Debt Limit Hostage

It is not often, if ever, that law enforcement knows in advance of future crimes, and if they did it is safe to say the deterrent value alone would make the crime rate plummet. Without futuristic technology and foretellers of future events, pre-crime knowledge would be entirely dependent on criminals broadcasting their intended crime, victim, motive, and location that informs they were confident they would never face justice. Two years ago, repugicans in Congress told the American people they would hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage, and despite foreknowledge of their intended crime, they held the debt limit hostage for a ransom of devastating spending cuts with impunity, and after celebrating their success, announced their intention to hold the debt ceiling hostage again when raising it became necessary. True to their word, repugicans are threatening to hold the debt limit increase hostage and they can hardly wait to present their ransom demands to President Obama.
McConnell HostageOne of the reasons Paul Ryan’s budget passed in the House was a pledge by repugican leadership to eliminate the federal deficit within a decade, and besides being absurd on its face, ultra-conservative deficit hawks in the House are serious and warned leadership they will not tolerate anything less than follow-up legislation to implement the budget’s job and economy-destroying reforms. On Wednesday, Raul Labrador (r-Idaho) said “It’s not just passing the Ryan budget. It’s actually implementing and passing legislation that gets us to balance in 10 years. Some people believe the plan is just to pass the Paul Ryan budget and once we pass the Ryan budget, then we have met … all of our goals. If this is something where they’re trying to placate the base, then no-one here is going to support the raising of the debt ceiling. My goal is not to pass a meaningless document by itself.”
The repugican leadership, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, held fast to the hostage terms during the 2011 debt ceiling fiasco that any debt limit increase be accompanied by equivalent spending cuts and reforms, and although they were successful causing a credit downgrade, gained $2.1 trillion in cuts, and imposed another $1.2 trillion in sequester cuts, it was an insufficient ransom for wingnuts. Another repugican, Thomas Massie of Kentucky criticized Ryan’s budget and said he expected the leadership to find “a bright shiny object” (dollar-for-dollar spending cuts) to attach to the debt limit to attract wingnut support, but they are not going to be fooled this time around and demand real entitlement reforms on top of Ryan’s Medicare privatization scam and domestic programs cuts.
When repugicans say entitlement reforms, they mean using the debt ceiling as a ransom for privatizing Medicare, drastically slashing Social Security, and repealing the Affordable Care Act  and as Rep. Steve Scalise (r-LA) says “Any increase in the debt ceiling needs to be tied with a solution to stop us from spending money we don’t have.” When they talk about “money we don’t have,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (r-SC), means “addressing the mandatory side of the spending equation, and I think we would probably do that in the debt ceiling debate.” Subsequently, the two largest mandatory spending programs are Medicare and Social Security and they will be part of the payment for raising the debt limit despite the damage to seniors, the poor, and the economy.
The repugicans have been passionate for a big battle over the debt ceiling, and as if their last victory in 2011 was not severe enough, they are panting to hold the debt limit hostage again to slash Social Security that does not affect the deficit whatsoever. Some of the other mandatory spending programs repugicans intend on cutting are Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs, SNAP (food stamps), unemployment compensation, and earned income and child tax credits; all programs that affect most Americans, but especially the working poor and poverty level Americans. The repugicans have long dreamt of eliminating the Department of Education to keep Americans stupid, and what better way than cutting more from education spending through holding the debt ceiling hostage.  Cutting food stamps, unemployment benefits, earned income credits, and child tax credits will affect nearly all families that do not belong to the one-percent club who benefit from Ryan’s Draconian budget with a 15% tax cut while the middle class and working poor will see their taxes increase; it is criminal.
Holding the debt limit hostage is criminal, especially when repugicans raised it at least nine times for the shrub who with repugican support own the lion’s share of the debt for two wars, tax cuts for the rich, and the repugican cabal’s prescription plan which were all unfunded and still increasing the deficit. The cuts in Ryan’s plan will not eliminate the deficit in ten years, but they will eliminate millions of jobs, and the mandatory spending cuts repugicans want will decimate seniors, Veterans, and the poor. However, the American people overwhelmingly support increased government spending for domestic programs and infrastructure improvements to create jobs according to a very recent poll. In fact, 77% of Americans believe federal jobs creation plans are necessary and should be mandatory spending, and yet another recent poll reveals the American people oppose nearly every spending cut in Ryan’s plan and side with the President on practically every issue. The mandatory spending cuts repugicans will hold the debt ceiling increase hostage for, and Paul Ryan’s budget proposals, are opposed by large majorities and they particularly cited  strong opposition to Medicare, safety net, and education cuts repugicans will use as a ransom for a debt limit increase.
The repugicans are criminals, and like criminals, their intention to impose the most severe austerity possible is far outside the mainstream morality. In 2011, after causing a credit downgrade and nearly a credit default, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell promised repugicans would definitely hold the debt limit hostage again, and his cohort intend to keep his word. As drastic as major cuts to mandatory spending on Social Security and privatizing Medicare are, repugicans are also calling for deeper cuts to safety nets than Ryan proposes plus ending the ACA as part of their ransom, and although one cannot imagine the President repealing his signature health law, the full faith and credit of the United States is too high a price to pay to prove he can prevail over criminals in the repugican cabal.
The tragic aspect of another debt ceiling standoff is repugicans will succeed in winning cuts to Medicare and Social Security because the President showed willingness to put so-called entitlements on the block in meetings with repugicans last week. It is too bad, and too sad, that the repugican cabal convinced the President Social Security affects the deficit, but that is the price one pays for consorting with criminals who yearn for a fight over the debt ceiling and have nothing whatsoever to lose. For the American people though, whether repugicans win cuts that kill jobs and people, or send the nation into a credit default that bankrupts the government, there is nothing in America’s future that looks rosy and it is what happens when criminals are given ultimate power with nothing to lose and no-one to stop them; even when they know what’s coming.

The truth be told

Did you know ...

About how to finish off the NRA

The make-believe numbers in pursuit of misguided goals

This is what farms will look like in the future

A father hacks donkey kong for daughter, makes pauline the hero

RIP porn star Harry Reems

The majority of Americans say Iraq war wasn't worth it

Uh, is this good news? Unmanned drone industry will add 70,000 new jobs in the U.S.

That Americans are being punished because repugicans refuse to pay their debts

The World Health Organization confirms 15th death from new virus in Saudi Arabia

Just saying ...

Whistle-hating woman tried to stop trains by parking car on tracks

A Pennsylvania woman is accused of risking a catastrophe after parking her car across train tracks because the train whistle annoyed her and she believed the engineer may have been stalking her, police said. Bridgett Dixon, 42, of 307½ Park Avenue, Monongahela, was allegedly intoxicated when she entered the Sheetz convenience store at 11:33pm on Friday and began screaming at the clerk to call police because her car was stuck on the train tracks.
While en route to Sheetz, Monongahela patrolman Stephen Kenyon observed a grey Plymouth Neon parked in the middle of two railroad tracks at Second and Railroad streets -- one block from the store. The car was unoccupied and there were no keys in the ignition. An oncoming train did have to come to a stop until a towing company was able to pull the car from the tracks, Monongahela police Chief Brian Tempest said. “My officers immediately called 911 and they were able to notify Norfolk-Southern (railroad company),” Tempest said. “… (The license plate) came back to Bridgett Dixon.”

When police arrived at Sheetz, Dixon was sitting at a table in front of the store. She proceeded to tell police she was sick of the train blowing its whistle every time she is downtown or on her phone. Dixon then stated she left her car on the tracks so she could find out who was driving the train. “She felt that maybe the engineer may have been personally following her around town,” Tempest said. “She told my officers that if she parked the car on the railroad tracks, the train would hit her car and that would solve the problem.”

While speaking, Dixon was visibly intoxicated and emitting a strong odor of alcohol, Tempest said. Dixon was arrested and sent to the Washington County Correctional Facility where she was released after posting $5,000 bond. Dixon faces one felony count of causing or risking a catastrophe, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 26 in front of Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson in Monongahela.

There's a news video here.

Daily Comic Relief

Great TV Shows About Nerds And Geeks

Being a nerd or a geek is becoming more popular. Not surprisingly, TV producers picked up the trend and are now producing shows featuring nerdy and/or geeky main characters.

Whether you laugh with the nerdy characters or laugh at them (preferably the first), there are many fun TV shows to choose from.

Whole Milk Linked to Slimmer Kids

vThe American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children switch from whole milk to a lower fat milk at age two. The conventional wisdom is that getting children used to reduced fat milk will help keep them at a healthy weight. Skim, 1%, or 2% milk has fewer calories per cup. It just makes sense, doesn't it?
So here's where things gets confusing. A new study of preschool-aged children published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, finds that low-fat milk was associated with higher weight.

That's right, kids drinking low-fat milk tended to be heavier.

"We were quite surprised" by the findings, Dr. Mark DeBoer told me in an email. He and his co-author, Dr. Rebecca Scharf, both of the University of Virginia, had hypothesized just the opposite.

But they found the relationship between skim-milk drinkers and higher body weights held up across all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. DeBoer says their data also show that low-fat milk did not restrain weight gain in preschoolers over time.
This is not the first study to show such results, but the authors call for further research, as this study did not take into account what types of food the children were consuming or their total caloric intake. And scientists say sugary drinks make a bigger difference in overall child obesity. More

Inbreeding Common in Early Humans

The evidence comes from fragments of a 100,000-year-old deformed human skull recovered in northern China.

Random Photo


Lay your cards out by Daniela Tanase

The Universe Is Older Than Thought

The European Space Agency's Planck observatory created the map by measuring the cosmic microwave background.

Astronomical News

Thirty-five years after its launch, Voyager 1 appears to have traveled beyond the influence of our sun.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has photographed the tiny craters made by the Grail moon probe.
All rocky exoplanets likely host oceans of liquid water shortly after they form, says one prominent researcher.
A common computer glitch has suspended the Mars Curiosity follow-up to its discovery that the Red Planet contains all the ingredients for life.
Check out some of our more unusual ideas about life originating from the Red Planet.
If a microorganism were found on Mars, would anyone care?

Unique Forests Of The World

A forest is an area with a high density of trees. Forests cover approximately 9.4% of the Earth's surface (or 30% of total land area), though they once covered much more (about 50% of total land area). In addition to the large number of forests that are well-known tourist destinations in the world, there are also small and very unusual forests which are less well known to the general public.

Ancient Giant Trees Found Petrified in Thailand

Petrified trees have been unearthed that are nearly as tall as the world's highest trees today. Here's the story of their discovery and what it tells us about tall trees in general.

'Lost' Tectonic Plate Found Under California

A seismological blob under California appears to be a piece of a tectonic plate thought long gone.

Mega Volcanoes May Have Caused Mass Extinction

New research yields more precise dates for this mega-extinction 200 million years ago.

Nine-year-old girl has flying prehistoric beast named in her honor

A nine-year-old girl has had a prehistoric beast named in her honor after fossilized bones she found turned out to be an undiscovered species. Daisy Morris from the Isle of Wight stumbled upon the remains on Atherfield beach four years ago. A scientific paper stated the newly discovered species of pterosaur would be called Vectidraco daisymorrisae.
Pterosaurs were flying reptiles that lived in the same time period as dinosaurs, up to 220 millions years ago. Fossil expert Martin Simpson said this was an example of how "major discoveries can be made by amateurs". Daisy's mum Sian Morris said her daughter had started fossil hunting aged three and came across the blackened "bones sticking out of the sand" in 2009, when she was four years old.

"I knew I was looking at something very special. And I was right," said Mr Simpson. The fossil turned out to be a new genus and species of small pterosaur; a flying reptile from the Lower Cretaceous period. The new species and name was confirmed in a scientific paper published on Monday. Mr Simpson said the island's eroding coastline meant the fossil would have been "washed away and destroyed if it had not been found by Daisy".

Mrs Morris said: "She has a very good eye for tiny little fossils and found these tiny little black bones sticking out of the mud and decided to dig a bit further and scoop them all out. We are all very proud of her". The pterosaur has since been donated to the Natural History Museum which recently named the Isle of Wight as the "dinosaur capital of Great Britain".

Genes, Not Light, Make Roosters Crow at Dawn

Roosters have an internal clock that makes them crow just before dawn, researchers find. 

Why Even Microbes Commit Suicide

A study on suicidal E. coli sheds light on why organisms throughout the animal kingdom sometimes decide to do themselves in.

The Plan To Bring The Passenger Pigeon Back From Extinction

The Passenger Pigeon is an extinct North American bird. The species lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to its demise. One flock in 1866 in southern Ontario was described as being 1 mile wide and 300 miles long, took 14 hours to pass, and held in excess of 3.5 billion birds.

Last week scientists met in Washington, D.C. to discuss a plan to bring the passenger pigeon back from extinction. The technical challenges are immense, and the ethical questions are slippery. But as genetic technology races ahead, a scenario that's hard to imagine is becoming harder to dismiss out of hand.

A global society of squid

It's a small squid world, after all. A recent study shows that giant squid from all around the globe have remarkably low levels of genetic diversity — essentially, writes Tina Hesman Saey, they're all more closely related than scientists previously thought. Giant squid, as it turns out, are a single species, traveling, living, and breeding all around the planet.  

The fish of nightmares

This is not a Photoshop job. This is the very real toothy smile of sheepshead fish. It lives in North America, writes Becky Crew at the Running Ponies blog. And, like humans, it has both incisors and molars — perfect for masticating an omnivorous diet. Apparently, they also taste good, which should be some consolation. Worse comes to worse, we can always eat them.

Crab with a 9-Foot Claw-Span

crab"Big Daddy" is, I hope, fully grown. This Japanese Spider Crab lives at the Sea Life Centre in Blackpool, UK. Chris Brown, a curator there, is either moving him or wrestling him, neither of which is advisable.

Animal News

Two benevolent beavers may have saved the water supply of Salt Lake City, Utah from contamination.
The sharks eat three to four times more food than previously thought.
College students aren't the only ones you'll see heading for warmer weather during spring break.
In the Brazilian beach city of Balneario Camboriu in the southern state of Santa Catarina, residents and tourists were surprised to see an elephant seal on a busy street. The nearly 10-foot mammal stopped traffic for more than hour as ...

Animal Pictures