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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, March 24, 2013

The Daily Drift

'Nuff Said!

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Today in History

1208   King John of England opposes Innocent III on his nomination for archbishop of Canterbury.
1603   Queen Elizabeth I dies which will bring into power James VI of Scotland.
1663   Charles II of England awards lands known as Carolina in North America to eight members of the nobility who assisted in his restoration.
1664   In London, Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island.
1720   The banking houses of Paris close in the wake of financial crisis.
1721   In Germany, the supremely talented Johann Sebastian Bach publishes the Six Brandenburg Concertos.
1765   Britain passes the Quartering Act, requiring the colonies to house 10,000 British troops in public and private buildings.
1862   Abolitionist Wendell Phillips speaks to a crowd about emancipation in Cincinnati, Ohio and is pelted by eggs.
1900   Mayor Van Wyck of New York breaks ground for the New York subway tunnel that will link Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1904   Vice Admiral Togo sinks seven Russian ships as the Japanese strengthen their blockade of Port Arthur.
1927   Chinese Communists seize Nanking and break with Chiang Kai-shek over the Nationalist goals.
1938   The United States asks that all powers help refugees fleeing from the Nazis.
1944   The Gestapo rounds up innocent Italians in Rome and shoot them to death in reprisal for a bomb attack that killed 33 German policemen.
1947   Congress proposes limiting the presidency to two terms.
1951   General Douglas MacArthur threatens the Chinese with an extension of the Korean War if the proposed truce is not accepted.
1954   Great Britain opens trade talks with Hungary.
1955   Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opens at the Morosco Theatre in New York City.
1958   Elvis Presley trades in his guitar for a rifle and Army fatigues.
1965   The Freedom Marchers, citizens for civil rights, reach Montgomery, Alabama.
1967   Viet Cong ambush a truck convoy in South Vietnam damaging 82 of the 121 trucks.
1972   Great Britain imposes direct rule over Northern Ireland.
1985   Thousands demonstrate in Madrid against the NATO presence in Spain.
1989   The Exxon Valdez oil tanker spills 240,000 barrels of oil in Alaska's Prince William Sound.
1999   NATO planes, including stealth aircraft, attack Serbian forces in Kosovo.

Non Sequitur

Sunday, March 24

Saplings from Anne Frank's tree take root in US

In this Monday, March 18, 2013 photo, Mary Fortney, learning resource development manager at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, looks over chestnut saplings from the tree outside Anne Frank's hiding spot in Amsterdam being cared for in the museum's greenhouse in Indianapolis. Eleven saplings grown from seeds taken from the massive chestnut tree that stood outside the home in which Frank and her family hid are being distributed to museums, schools, parks and Holocaust remembrance centers through a project led by The Anne Frank Center USA. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Saplings from the chestnut tree that stood as a symbol of hope for Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam are being distributed to 11 locations in the United States as part of a project that aims to preserve her legacy and promote tolerance.
The tree, one of the Jewish teenager's only connections to nature while she hid with her family, was diseased and rotted through the trunk when wind and heavy rain toppled it in August 2010. But saplings grown from its seeds will be planted starting in April, when the Children's Museum of Indianapolis will put the first one in the ground.
The 11 U.S. locations, which also include a park memorializing 9-11 victims in New York City, an Arkansas high school that was the heart of the desegregation battle and Holocaust centers in Michigan and Washington state were chosen by The Anne Frank Center USA from 34 applicants.
Winners were selected based on their commitment to equality, demonstration of the consequences of intolerance or historical significance to civil rights and social justice in the U.S., according to a news release from the center.
"The heart of our mission is tolerance. ... Tolerance is really essential for being able to bring better welfare to everybody," said center spokesman Mike Clary.
The tree is referenced several times in the diary that Anne Frank kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until her family was arrested in August 1944.
"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs," she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. "From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind."
A global campaign to save the chestnut was launched in 2007 after city officials deemed it a safety hazard and ordered it taken down. The tree was granted a last-minute reprieve after a battle in court, but age and nature ultimately brought it down.
Jeffrey Patchen, president and chief executive officer of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, said the sapling planted in the museum's Peace Park will stand next to a limestone carving of a podium with Anne's diary on it. A mock chestnut tree looms over the entrance to the museum's permanent Anne Frank exhibit, which features live performances in a space that teaches visitors about life in the Secret Annex where the Franks hid.
"We're taking the lead in producing the educational materials that will go along with the tree," Patchen said. "We're producing this unit of study ... that focuses heavily on the humanities and presents the tree through selections of her diary and ... as a symbol of renewal."
Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. plans to plant its sapling in September, on the 56th anniversary of the previously segregated high school's integration. A group of black students called the Little Rock Nine, who braved angry mobs in the fall of 1957 to integrate the school, became a symbol of the civil rights movement.
"Both (Anne Frank and the Little Rock Nine) dealt with hatred from ignorant people," said Nancy Rousseau, the school's principal. "All of them displayed great bravery and courage, which wasn't necessarily seen then or now, also, in adults. They were all children."
Other states that have sites receiving saplings are Massachusetts, Idaho and California.
The Anne Frank Center wants the sapling project to go beyond the initial planting of the trees. The center is launching an education initiative called Confronting Intolerance Today that will encompass a "teaching and discovery" website to create dialogue and show how the sites are using the sapling project to advance tolerance, a distinguished speaker series and temporary exhibits from the center that will show the history of Anne Frank.
"We know that the tree was a sign of hope of Anne Frank who was unable to leave her living quarters," said Yvonne Simons, executive director of The Anne Frank Center USA. "She wrote about it in a diary. For us, the tree portrays a symbolism of hope and growth and renewal."

Did you know ...

That an anti-weed politician busted for weed

That a Texas tea party leader says Fascism is constitutional

That a North Carolina church refuses to marry straight couples until gay couples can marry

About the dangerous myth that climate change is reversible

The 10 Most Overpaid Jobs

vU.S.News & World Report gives us a list of the most overpaid jobs -which aren't necessarily jobs that pay the most. It's a subjective list in which a person is well-paid for work that's not all that difficult, involves little stress, and provides little benefit in the end. Even some of the people in these occupations agree. Here's a sampling:
Consulting software engineer (median mid-career salary: $123,000). These high-end programmers design and maintain sophisticated computer networks for big companies and other large organizations. But the work can be dry and many such engineers question the value of what they do. Other types of programmers and software engineers rank high on the overpaid list as well.

Brand strategist ($90,700). These advertising or marketing specialists work to improve the image and reputation of companies and their offerings--whether deserved or not. Brand strategists rate the importance of their own work poorly compared with other professionals.

Patent attorney ($170,000). We tend to think of patents as the breakthrough insights of revolutionary inventors, but they're increasingly a form of warfare among corporations seeking to prevent each other from gaining a technology edge. The lawyers who fight those battles are among the highest-paid professionals PayScale surveys.
Read the rest of the list, which is ranked in no particular order. More

Credit Suisse profits plummet 24%, cuts 2,300 jobs, then gives CEO & chairman 33% raise

Only in the world of big finance could this possibly make sense. What other industry rewards corporate leadership for failing in such a big way? The profits for Credit Suisse dropped a massive 24% last year, and their stock was mostly flat, yet they still handed out a fat 33% bonus to both their CEO and Chairman.Who do you have to kill in this industry not to get a raise?
According to the bank’s compensation committee, this special bonus was because the CEO was “positioning the firm for the future.”  But instead of actually waiting for that future success, they rewarded him now. It would make a lot more sense (and be more in line with industry standards) to reward the CEO for actual success, but in today’s banking world, nothing is normal.
UBS, another bank bailed out by the Swiss government, was also in the new last week for giving its CEO $9 million last year, and offering another $26 million “welcome package” to the new head of its investment banking division. Nothing saying “welcome” to a taxpayer bailout than $26 million for one guy.
rich guy 1% cnbc bankers wall street 
Keep in mind that Switzerland just passed a new law that will provide shareholders a vote on executive pay, and there will also be limits on such pay. The decision to provide a bonus to a failing CEO has to be viewed in that context.
Also remember that the banking industry has been actively working to get around increased taxes on banker pay, including in the UK this year when the Wall Street darling, Goldman Sachs delayed bonuses for a while in order to get around paying taxes on them.
And it’s not entirely clear just how much money these banks actually have to keep throwing at their top executives.  We had reported the other day that the too-big-to-fail banks were getting an annual subsidy equal to their profits.  Then in a follow-up, we wrote about a new analysis showing the subsidy may be nearly ten times that amount, equal to the entire amount of the stimulus.  Generally, speaking, this is not an industry in which you have money to burn. Strike that — this is not an industry in which you should have money to burn. But burn they do.
I reported last month on the chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, whose $2 million a year salary and potential $9 million bonus is being sold to the public as “modest.”  I guess in those circles, it is.  Then again, modesty isn’t exactly this industry’s forté.  Remember when AIG, after it’s $182 billion bailout threatened to sue the US government because the bailout that saved them was “too onerous.”  How onerous would shutting down have been?
Then there was the $400 million taxpayer funded bonus in the UK. Here’s what we wrote about that last month:
In this case, the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 82% owned by the state, plans to dish out nearly $400 million in bonuses to the very staff who are implicated in the bank owing a nearly $800 million fine for its role in the Libar-rigging scandal.  But the bank is state-owned, so the taxpayers are paying for both the fine, and the bonuses to the people who may be responsible for the bank being fined.
While the political class has made some minor attempts to curb the excesses of the banking industry, the banks have easily stayed one step ahead of these reforms, while thumbing their noses at everyone who saved them.
In other words, it’s just another day in the sleazy world of banking.  As Elizabeth Warren warned us at the Democratic convention last summer, “the system is rigged.”

Say What?

Romney and the 47%

During the Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney spoke before a group of wealthy contributors in Florida and made reference to the fact that 47% of Americans were on the dole and therefore would never vote for a repugican for President. This reference would have been fine had it remained with his private audience, but one of the wait staff had set his cell phone to video recording, and this was captured and released to the public.

The guy who recorded the message recently came forward and appeared on a number of the liberal media shows on MSNBC,  He said that he kept annonymous at first because "at the time he shot the video, he was living paycheck to paycheck without a car or health insurance, so it was a serious risk to his livelihood to make the video public."

But - and this is the part I wanted to make a point of today, there is a difference between Democrats and repugicans and this too had a profound effect on the guy's willingness to release the video.
    " Ironically, it was another politician's desire to connect with catering staff at a previous event that made the Romney 47 percent video possible. After a previous event the bartender had worked, former President Bill Clinton made a point of going into the kitchen and talking to the waiters, bartenders, and busboys. Like Bill Clinton always does. So...
    When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney's fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate.

    Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.

And there was the bartender, with his camera. How inconvenient for Mitt Romney, whose candidacy was seriously damaged by someone too unimportant for him to even shake hands with. But how convenient for voters who got to hear what Romney really thought of them.

Quotes and information reported here taken from Daily Kos.

Low paid workers - repugicans love them

From Crooks and Liars

Seven of the ten lowest paying jobs in America are restaurant jobs, and the two absolute lowest paying jobs in America are restaurant: dishwashers and fast food preps and cooks are the two absolute lowest paying jobs in America. These workers earn poverty wages because the minimum wage for tipped workers at the federal level has been frozen for 22 years at $2.13 an hour, and it's the reason that food servers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, and have a poverty rate of three times the rest of the U.S. workforce.

    We got to this place because of the power of the National Restaurant Association; we call it the other NRA. They've been named the tenth most powerful lobbying group in Congress and back in 1996 when Herman Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association, he struck a deal with Congress saying that, "We will not oppose the overall minimum wage continuing to rise as long as the minimum wage for tipped workers stays frozen forever," and so it has for the last 22 years.

The repugican Class War Has Contributed Greatly To America’s Growing Inequality

Oligarchy is a power structure in which ruling authority rests with a small number of people with wealth and corporate control, and throughout history oligarchs have been tyrannical rulers relying on public servitude and perpetual poverty to maintain their control. Contrast that with the Declaration of Independence’s premise that “all men are created equal” and one might think that oligarchs could never rule over an underclass in America, but repugicans set up a system where a wealthy ruling class waged, and won, a class war with unmitigated assistance from the peasant class. If Americans think any of the repugican cries of balancing the budget and deficit reduction have anything to do with the federal government’s economic stability and not creating a permanent underclass mired in poverty, then they deserve what they helped repugicans create.
Ryan’s budget represents the apex of repugican economic policy over the past thirty years that validated economic war waged by the upper class against the rest of the population, and the assaults on American workers’ retirement and healthcare accounts is the final offensive to end, once and for all, any concept of all Americans are created equal. Over the past two years, repugicans had the temerity to claim asking the rich to pay their fair share to help rebuild the economy they decimated was President Obama’s declaration of class war on the so-called “makers,” and as usual, repugicans were projecting their war on the poor, middle and working class to garner support to finish off the rest of the population’s hope of ever realizing the storied American Dream. The repugican cabal virtually guaranteed success because maintaining control of the House means over the next two years government will remain stagnate and there is little hope the poor, seniors, middle and working class will survive with much more than subsistence living if they are lucky.
The repugican cabal, Paul Ryan, and wingnut fantasy tanks purport the proposals in the Path to Prosperity are the first serious attempts to “grow the economy” in four years, and job-killing cuts and slashing domestic programs is necessary to balance the budget and cut the deficit. However, every economist on the planet that is not from the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and Club for Growth remind Americans that eliminating jobs through austerity and taking money out of the economy will lead the nation back into a recession.  Ryan and his teabagger cohort might be taken seriously if the drastic cuts were spread evenly around, but giving the rich a 15% tax cut and eliminating middle and working class family’s earned income and child care credits bolster Bernie Sanders’ long-standing contention that repugican economic policies help the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
The repugican class war has, for well over a decade, contributed greatly to income inequality that hastens America’s rush to oligarchy, and the primary driver is trickle down tax cuts for the rich. Ryan’s tax reforms give people earning over $1 million a tax cut of $200,000, and it excludes corporate entitlements and other subsidies that enrich the wealthy. In fact, 66% of Ryan’s cuts come directly from programs that reduce income inequality (purposely), and it will spur economic growth and prosperity for the very rich who already take 25% of the nation’s income and control 40% of the nation’s total wealth. The bottom 80% of Americans hold 7% of the nation’s wealth and as the rest of the nation suffered declining incomes, the richest 1% saw their income grow 18% directly from Republican economic policy.
The repugicans big push to reform so-called entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security is forcing increasing segments of the population into financially insecure futures. The sequestration cuts repugicans celebrated are affecting financial insecurity of federal workers who between now and September face mandatory furlough days (22) without compensation that amounts to a 20% pay cut. School teachers around the nation have already been laid off, taken pay cuts, and lived with mandatory furlough days and Ryan’s budget and conservatives in the House are calling for much more sacrifice from primarily middle class union workers. One of repugicans’ favorite masters, corporations, are reaping record profits, paying 10% or zero in federal income taxes, and laying off workers at an alarming rate, and repugicans are calling for corporate tax reform (read tax cuts) to encourage job creation. One thing is certain, repugicans are waging class war on behalf of the wealthy and their corporate support groups, while they kill jobs and gut safety nets to send more Americans into poverty.
The wingnut ideology that the rich inherently deserve to dominate and rule over America is dependent on income inequality that defines oligarchy. A recent study reveals that repugicans have won the class war for the wealthy and that the devastating income equality plaguing America is here to stay and it will get much worse; if that is possible. The repugicans are doing their best to see it does get worse and between repugican budget proposals and threats to hold the debt limit hostage for steep cuts to Medicare, education, Social Security, and safety nets to give the wealthy more tax cuts, the rich will continue getting richer as the poor get poorer until there is a permanent underclass barely surviving the next round of repugican austerity to “balance the budget” and “eliminate the deficit.”
Democracy cannot co-exist with oligarchy, and after thirty years of repugicans fighting for the one-percent, there is little hope for democracy. There are some pundits who claim repugican economic policy is founded on ideology that favors the “makers,” and although that may be true, it is just as likely that they lack the moral fiber of a sponge and could not care less about the majority of Americans they are relegating to a permanent underclass to serve the wealthy. President Obama did not start, and has not engaged, in class warfare. The repugicans began incrementally disenfranchising the middle class, poor, and seniors over the past thirty years, and they are precariously close to their intended goal; America owned, operated, and ruled by the wealthy and their corporations. That precious statement that all Americans are created equal is nice sentiment for the history books, because it is was not true in 1776 and it certainly is not true today.

Hitler joins gun debate, but history isn't what wingnuts and gun-nuts think

FILE - People attending a gun rights rally listen to a speaker at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. Several hundred gathered and spoke against proposed legislation at both the state and national levels aimed at curbing gun violence. In the months since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre in Dec. 2012, some gun rights supporters have repeatedly compared U.S. gun control efforts to Nazi restrictions on firearms, arguing that limiting weapons ownership could leave Americans defenseless against homegrown tyrants. But some experts say that argument distorts a complex and contrary history. In reality, scholars say, Hitler loosened the tight gun laws that governed Germany after World War I, even as he barred Jews from owning weapons and moved to confiscate them. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
When the president of Ohio's state school board posted her opposition to gun control, she used a powerful symbol to make her point: a picture of Adolf Hitler. When a well-known conservative commentator decried efforts to restrict guns, he argued that if only Jews in Poland had been better armed, many more would have survived the Holocaust.
In the months since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, some gun rights supporters have repeatedly compared U.S. gun control efforts to Nazi restrictions on firearms, arguing that limiting weapons ownership could leave Americans defenseless against homegrown tyrants.
But some experts say that argument distorts a complex and contrary history. In reality, scholars say, Hitler loosened the tight gun laws that governed Germany after World War I, even as he barred Jews from owning weapons and moved to confiscate them.
Advocates who cite Hitler in the current U.S. debate overlook that Jews in 1930s Germany were a very small population, owned few guns before the Nazis took control, and lived under a dictatorship commanding overwhelming public support and military might, historians say. While it doesn't fit neatly into the modern-day gun debate, they say, the truth is that for all Hitler's unquestionably evil acts, his firearms laws likely made no difference in Jews' very tenuous odds of survival.
"Objectively, it might have made things worse" if the Jews who fought the Nazis in the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising in Poland had more and better guns, said historian Steve Paulsson, an expert on the period whose Jewish family survived the city's destruction.
But comparisons between a push by gun control advocates in the U.S. and Hitler have become so common — in online comments and letters to newspaper editors, at gun rights protests and in public forums — they're often asserted as fact, rather than argument.
"Absolute certainties are a rare thing in this life, but one I think can be collectively agreed upon is the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler's Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms," former Major League Baseball pitcher John Rocker wrote in an online column in January.
After some gun advocates rallied at New York's capitol in February carrying signs depicting Gov. Andrew Cuomo as Hitler, National Rifle Association President David Keene said the analogy was appropriate.
"Folks that are cognizant of the history, not just in Germany but elsewhere, look back to that history and say we can't let that sort of thing happen here," Keene, who was the lead speaker at the rally, told a radio interviewer March 1.
Those comparisons between gun control now and under Hitler joined numerous other statements, including the one by the Ohio school board president, Debe Terhar, on her personal Facebook page in January and by conservative commentator Andrew Napolitano, writing in The Washington Times.
The comparisons recently prompted the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, to call on critics of gun control to keep Hitler and the Nazis out of the debate.
The rhetoric "is such an absurdity and so offensive and just undermines any real understanding of what the Holocaust was about," said Ken Jacobson, the ADL's deputy national director. "If they do believe it, they're making no serious examination of what the Nazi regime was about."
But some gun rights advocates firmly disagree.
"People who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," said Charles Heller, executive director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, which has long compared U.S. gun control to Nazi tactics. "I guess if you're pro-Nazi, they are right. But if you're pro-freedom, we call those people liars."
Comparing gun control activism to Hitler is not new. In a 1994 book, "Guns, Crime and Freedom," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre wrote that "In Germany, firearm registration helped lead to the Holocaust."
But the history of civilian gun ownership under the Nazis, scholars say, is far more complicated than the rhetoric indicates.
After World War I, Germany signed a peace treaty requiring dismantling of much of its army and limiting weapons import and export. But many of the 1 million soldiers returning home joined armed militias, including a Nazi Party force that saw Communists as the leading threat.
"Technically, they (the militias) were illegal and the guns were illegal, but a lot of government officials didn't care about right-wingers with guns taking on Communists," said David Redles, co-author of "Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History," a popular college text. By 1928, however, officials decided they had to get a handle on the militias and their weapons and passed a law requiring registration of all guns, said Redles, who teaches at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.
Soon after Hitler was named chancellor in 1933, he used the arson of the Reichstag as an excuse to push through a decree allowing for the arrest of many Communists and the suspension of civil rights including protections from search and seizure. But as the Nazis increasingly targeted Jews and others they considered enemies, they moved in 1938 to loosen gun statutes for the loyal majority, said Bernard Harcourt, a University of Chicago professor of law and political science who has studied gun regulations under Hitler.
The 1938 law is best known for barring Jews from owning weapons, after which the Nazis confiscated guns from Jewish homes. But Harcourt points out that Hitler's gun law otherwise completely deregulated acquisition of rifles, long guns and ammunition. It exempted many groups from requiring permits. The law lowered the age for legal gun ownership from 20 to 18. And it extended the validity of gun permits from one year to three years.
"To suggest that the targeting of Jews in any of the gun regulations or any of the other regulations is somehow tied to Nazis' view of guns is entirely misleading," Harcourt said, "because the Nazis believed in a greater deregulation of firearms. Firearms were viewed, for the good German, were something to which they had rights."
With the 1938 law, Nazis seized guns from Jewish homes. But few Jews owned guns and they composed just 2 percent of the population in a country that strongly backed Hitler. By the time the law passed, Jews were so marginalized and spread among so many cities, there was no possibility of them putting up meaningful resistance, even with guns, said Robert Gellately, a professor of history at Florida State University and author of "Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany."
U.S. gun rights advocates disagree, pointing to the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising by about 700 armed Jews who were able to fend off a much larger force of German troops for days until retreating to tunnels or fleeing. The Nazis won out by systematically burning the ghetto to the ground, house by house.
"Once the Germans began adopting that strategy there really wasn't very much that people armed with pistols, or even rifles and machine guns, could do," said Paulsson, the historian and author of "Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw."
Paulsson said it is possible that if Polish Jews had limited their resistance, Nazi troops might not have destroyed the ghetto, allowing more to survive in hiding or escape. When armed Jews shot at mobs or troops at other times in 1930s and 1940s Poland, it incited more vicious counter-attacks, he said.
But to Heller, the gun rights activist, the Warsaw uprising is proof of power in firearms. Giving Jews more guns might not have averted the Holocaust, but it would have given them a fighting chance, enough that perhaps a third of them could have shot their way out of being marched to the concentration camps, he said.
"Could they have fought back? They did (in Warsaw). You know why they (the Nazis) destroyed the ghetto? Because they were afraid of getting shot," he said. "Now, will it get to that in the U.S.? God, I hope not. Not if (U.S. Attorney General Eric) Holder doesn't start sending people to kick doors down."
But Paulsson, whose mother was freed from the Auschwitz concentration camp at the end of the war, dismisses that argument as twisting the facts.
"Ideologues always try to shoehorn history into their own categories and read into the past things that serve their own particular purposes," he said.

Push for Assad's ouster in Syria weakened

Foes of Syrian President Bashar Assad are distracted by fragmentation within their ranks, foreign meddling and new finger-pointing over chemical weapons as the regime more firmly entrenches itself, giving no sign of stepping down any time soon.

Syrian president vows revenge after mosque bombing

Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed Friday to avenge the death of a senior pro-government cleric who was killed along with dozens of people in a suicide bombing at a Damascus mosque, saying he would "purge our country" of the militants behind the attack in the heart of the capital.

Woman jailed for breaking plastic spoon over boyfriend's head

A Florida woman accused of breaking a plastic spoon over her boyfriend's head after the boyfriend threw her food on the lawn was sent to jail. The boyfriend of Caroline Hunter, 50, told Port St. Lucie police that when he got home Hunter was drunk and fixing food.

The 52-year-old boyfriend said Hunter was burning the food, so he threw it on the lawn outside. He said Hunter grew angry "'because she was drunk'" and started throwing stuff at him.

She also grabbed a plastic spoon and hit him over the head, breaking the spoon, he said. The boyfriend said his head hurt and showed investigators the broken spoon. Meanwhile, Hunter said her boyfriend arrived home drunk and hurled her hamburger on the front lawn.

Hunter, listed as a nurse, admitted hitting her boyfriend with a spoon,. "I can't believe I'm going to jail for hitting him with a spoon," she is quoted as saying. Hunter was arrested on a battery (domestic) charge.

Alcatraz marks 50 years since closure with photos

In this March 21, 1963 photo taken by Leigh Wiener and provided by the National Park Service, prison guard Jim Albright, second from left, leads out the last prisoners from the federal penitentiary. The National Park Service on Thursday celebrated the 50th anniversary of Alcatraz Island's closure as a federal penitentiary with an exhibit of newly discovered photos of the prison's final hours. The new display opened five decades after the last shacked prisoners were taken off the infamous prison in San Francisco Bay that once held the likes of gangsters Al Capone and Mickey Cohen. (AP Photo/National Park Service, Copyright Leigh Wiener) 
The black-and-white photographs show a line of prisoners — some with heads bowed, others with eyes staring forlornly at the camera — as a guard leads them to a boat for their final trip off The Rock.
The striking images were taken on March 21, 1963, the day the infamous prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay was closed after holding the likes of gangsters Al Capone and Mickey Cohen.
Swarms of reporters chronicled the single-file line of departing inmates.
On Thursday, however, the National Park Service unveiled an exhibit of newly discovered photos that depict new details about the final hours of Alcatraz.
The ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the closing was attended by former guard Jim Albright, who can be seen in the photographs in a light gray suit and dark tie, walking the shackled prisoners past reporters.
He had been a guard during two escapes, including the one made famous in the movie "Escape from Alcatraz," and was keeping an eye open for any funny business involving the prisoners and reporters.
"What I was worried about was that one of these god-darned fools was going to give the inmates something that they could get out of their cuffs with," Albright, now 77, said. "These were all the worst bad guys. If you messed up somewhere else you came to Alcatraz."
Alcatraz started as a fortress and became an Army disciplinary barracks before the Bureau of Prisons took it over in 1934 to house America's most notorious criminals.
U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed an order in 1962 to close the prison due to its expensive upkeep and its prime location in the bay.
Nine years later, Alcatraz became a national park and one of California's most popular tourist attractions with about 1.5 million visitors a year.
The new exhibit at Alcatraz features photos made by Los Angeles-based freelance photographer Leigh Wiener for Life Magazine.
Wiener's son discovered the negatives in a manila envelope in his father's archive that was titled "Alcatraz Prison's Closing Day March 21, 1963."
"Before I even opened the envelope I recognized the historical significance," Devik Wiener said at the unveiling. He called the parks service shortly after his find, which led to the exhibit and a new book.
The images will be on display for at least the next three months.
The exhibit evoked a swell of emotion for people who lived on the island during its days as a prison.
Jan Peters, 62, was the last child to leave the site of the island prison. His father Arnold Peters had been in charge of relocating the inmates to other federal prisons.
Peters choked up Thursday when he discovered an image of his father in one of the pictures on display.
"I'm realizing that we were a part of American history," Peters said, his eyes welling with tears as he stared at his father.
Peters and former Alcatraz resident John Brunner, whose father was the prison's electrician, said living next door to the country's most dangerous criminals was ideal.
They never saw the inmates and had world-class views, fishing and friends.
"It was fantastic to live here. We never had to lock our front door," Brunner said with a chuckle.

Natural Remedies for Headaches

In some cases a headache may be a symptom of a more serious underlying disorder, but often headaches are caused by stress, dehydration, tiredness, poor posture, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, food allergies, eyestrain, sinusitis, poor nutrition, or low blood sugar.

Alternative Remedies
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine recommends ginger for headaches. Eat a small piece of fresh ginger root or make ginger tea from the fresh root or tea bags.

Coriander Seeds
An Aryuvedic treatment for sinus-related headaches is the steam inhalation of coriander seeds. Put the coriander seeds into a small bowl. Pour on some boiling water, drape a towel over your head and the bowl, and inhale the steam.

Celery contains phthalide which helps you to relax and be less anxious, which helps with pain. It is also rich in potassium which many headache sufferers are deficient in. Celery seeds can be used in smoothies/juices or soups. Taking 2 oz of celery juice and then laying down for 30 minutes has proven to be a very effective remedy for headaches.

Herbal Tea
Sitting down with a relaxing cup of mild herbal tea is often good for a tension headache. Good choice is Ema's Herbs Headache Tea:

Vitamins and Minerals
Frequent headaches could be a sign that you are low on some important vitamins and minerals. Low levels of niacin and vitamin B6 can cause headaches. For example, all the B vitamins are needed to help combat stress and avoid tension headaches. The minerals calcium and magnesium work together to help prevent headaches, especially those related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Good sources of calcium are dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale or broccoli, and beans and peas. Magnesium is found in dark green leafy vegetables, cacao, nuts, bananas, wheat germ, full spectrum salts, beans and peas.

The relaxing qualities of lavender oil make it a good treatment for a tension headache. This essential oil is very gentle and can be massaged in your temples, the base of your neck, or the base of your nostrils.
The combination of oils: Lavender, Peppermint, Marjoram and Rosemary are known to have a pain reliving effects. You can try it with "Saloma" products: http://www.emasherbs.com/SALOMA.htm
Taking a bath with relaxing oils such as chamomile or ylang ylang will also help to soothe and relieve pain.

In order to learn how to relax and cope with headaches, you need to become familiar with your own breathing patterns and change them in ways that will help you relax. We tend to hold our breath when we are anxious, stressed, or in pain. Click the link below to find out about helpful breathing techniques.

**Please note that some of the food items mentioned, such as bananas, cacao, and nuts can actually trigger headaches in some individuals. If this happens to you, don’t give up. With a little research, you will definitely be able to find the remedy that works best for you.

Body Image Woes

Body Image: Four-Year-Olds 'Feeling Pressure'
Pressure to live up to unrealistic body images leaves many youngsters with anxiety issues, low self-esteem and eating disorders, according to the poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers .

Boys also feel body image pressure
Boys are under almost as much pressure as girls to have the "perfect" body, a survey of teachers has suggested.

Couple loses 500 pounds in two years

For Angela and Willie Gillis, the act is easy. They've been best friends for more than 10 years, married for three.

California farmers team up to convert beets to ethanol

In this March 6, 2013 photo, a mature sugar beet is shown, in Tranquility, Calif. Farmers in central California hope to build the nation's first commercial-scale bio-refinery in nearby Mendota, Calif., to turn beets into biofuel. Europe already has more than a dozen such plants, but most ethanol in the United States is made from corn. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka) 
Amid the vast almond orchards and grape fields that surround Five Points in California's Central Valley, a once-dominant crop that has nearly disappeared from the state's farms is making a comeback: sugar beets.
But these beets won't be processed into sugar. A dozen farmers, supported by university experts and a $5 million state grant, are set to start construction of a Fresno County demonstration plant that will convert the beets into ethanol.
If the demo project in Five Points succeeds, the farmers will build the nation's first commercial-scale bio-refinery in nearby Mendota to turn beets into biofuel. Europe already has more than a dozen such plants, but most ethanol in the U.S. is made from corn.
California energy officials say the beet plant is an example of expanding state investment in biofuel production and an innovative way to achieve the state's goal of increasing alternative fuel use over the next decade.
"We're trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to shift our transportation fuels to a lower carbon content," said Robert Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission, which awarded the grant. "The beets have the potential to provide that."
The farmers say so-called energy beets can deliver ethanol yields more than twice those of corn per acre. That's because beets have a higher sugar content per ton than corn. And, the farmers say, the bio-refinery would bring jobs and investment to an area that's dealing with water pumping restrictions and overly salty soils.
"This project is about rural development. It's about bringing a better tax base to this area and bringing jobs for the people," said John Diener, a grower who farms about 5,000 acres of diverse crops in Five Points and whose ranch will house the demonstration plant.
Driven by a federal mandate to reduce dependence on foreign oil, America's ethanol industry has boomed over the past decade. Plants in 28 states now produce more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol each year, according to Geoff Cooper, vice president for research and analysis for the Renewable Fuels Association. Today, nearly all the gasoline sold in the U.S. contains the biofuel, generally at the 10 percent level.
About 95 percent of U.S. ethanol is made from corn, Cooper said. But that percentage could soon change because the Renewable Fuel Standard, established by Congress in 2005 and later expanded, caps the amount of ethanol produced from corn at 15 billion gallons.
Dozens of non-corn ethanol plants are now being developed and constructed throughout the country, experts say. Other California projects involve producing biofuels from food processing wastes, remains from field crops and manure from the dairy and poultry industries. Across the U.S., plants are looking at converting wheat straw, municipal waste and wood pulp into biofuel.
In central California, the bio-refinery would resurrect a crop that has nearly vanished. The birthplace of the sugar beet industry, California once grew over 330,000 acres of the gnarly root vegetable, with 11 sugar mills processing the beets. But as sugar prices collapsed, the mills shut down. Only one remains in the Imperial Valley.
When the last local mill in Mendota closed in 2008, farmers formed a cooperative and tried — unsuccessfully — to buy it back.
"We were left with a choice: Are we going to build our own sugar mill, which is expensive, or come up with something else?" said William Pucheu, a farmer from Tranquility who is part of the cooperative.
The farmers flew twice to Europe to tour beet-based biofuel facilities. This month, Mendota Bioenergy LLC — the company formed by the cooperative — received a grant to build the demo plant, which will turn about 250 acres of beets into 285,000 gallons of ethanol per year.
If it's successful, a commercial bio-refinery would be built in Mendota, capable of producing 40 million gallons of ethanol annually. The bio-refinery, to debut in 2016, would put a total of about 80 beet growers and 35,000 acres back into production.
Both the demo plant and the commercial plant would run year-round and use beets grown by local farmers. The plants will also burn almond prunings and other wood waste to generate electricity for internal use and will convert some of those prunings into ethanol. They will process waste pulp from the beets to produce biomethane for compressed natural gas, and will produce fertilizer and recycle water for irrigation.
To area farmers, the beets are an ideal crop: they grow in poor and salty soils, and can use lesser-quality water, said Frank DelTesta, a third generation farmer who used to grow 150 acres of beets in Tranquility and is now growing some for the demo plant.
"Everybody liked growing beets, because they grew well here," DelTesta said. "My family has been growing beets for generations and not having that crop in our rotation has affected the yields for other crops like cotton."
And it's not just farmers who would benefit, said project manager Jim Tischer. The group's projections show the bio-refinery would create about 100 long-term jobs, as well as 150 seasonal agricultural jobs. It would lead to millions of dollars of local economic activity and generate taxes — a boon to Mendota, Tischer said, a town of 11,000 with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
The beet project comes at a time when the Midwest drought has reduced corn's availability, leading nearly three dozen corn ethanol plants to halt production. At the same time, there are plenty of stockpiles of ethanol, experts say, because Americans are driving less and buying more fuel-efficient cars.
But the beet farmers say they aren't worried, because ethanol is cheaper than regular gasoline.
"As times goes by, customers will start buying more of it," Diener said, "because at the end of the day, it's a cost saving deal and others are motivated by the ethics of the green energy business."

How Green Are You?

Think you're living green and saving the planet? Park the Prius and put down that grass-fed beef hot dog for a minute and make sure.

Daily Comic Relief

A $3 Bowl Found in a Garage Sale Sold at Auction for $2.2 Million

Talk about a garage sale find! A New York family picked up a Chinese bowl at a garage sale for $3 and found out that it's actually a 1,000-year-old treasure worth $2.2 million:
The bowl — ceramic, 5 inches in diameter and with a saw-tooth pattern etched around the outside — went to a London dealer, Giuseppe Eskenazi, at Sotheby’s auction house in New York on Tuesday.
Sotheby’s said the bowl was from the Northern Song Dynasty, which ruled China from 960 to 1127 and is known for its cultural and artistic advances.
The auction house said the only other known bowl of similar size and design has been in the collection of the British Museum for more than 60 years.
I know what I'll be doing this weekend: bowl huntin'! NBC News has the story: Here. [Warning: auto-starting video]

The Most Bizarre European Ossuaries

Across Europe, in many predominantly catholic or orthodox countries, are sites known as ossuaries, often referred to as 'bone churches.' Creepy by today's standards, these churches are decorated from floor to ceiling with human skeletal remains.

Though the original intention was for bones to be buried when space became available, many of these remains are still up as a testament to this peculiar religious tradition.

Myths of Mummy-Making Busted

Egyptians probably didn't remove mummy guts using cedar oil enemas, new research suggests.

Random Photo

Who Owns the Riches Beneath the Ocean?

We learn as children that there is no land at the North Pole -it's the Arctic Ocean. But most of the time, it's covered with ice and polar bears. That was once upon a time, because the ice is melting and the Arctic Ocean is opening up, diminishing the polar bears' habitat, and worrying environmentalists. But some are looking at that ocean as an opportunity, as the Arctic Ocean has riches of oil and natural gas beneath it. So who has the rights to those resources? Russia claims all the area north of Siberia to the North Pole. China is investing in Canada, which has natural access to the Arctic. And the U.S. wants to keep rights to shipping lanes as a shortcut between continents. Read about the controversies to come at Smithsonian.

Astronomical News

What if we're looking at planets that DO have life, but we're not seeing it because we don't know any better? 
Some parts of the moon haven't seen the sun in millions, and even billions, of years. But a NASA probe gets a look.
Bizarre, super-dense chthonian planets may be the cores of evaporated gas giants.

Woman Tries to Smuggle Tadpoles in Her Mouth through an Airport

tadpoleA woman at an airport in China tried to get through security with a bottle of a liquid. Officials told her that she'd have to drink it immediately or throw it away. She drank it, but wouldn't swallow:
The airport said the woman, a foreigner, was found to have a bottle of liquid in her luggage at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport's security checkpoint and she was told she would have to immediately drink or discard the liquid, the Guangdong Southern Media Network reported Wednesday.
The woman poured the liquid into her mouth and security workers became suspicious when she refused to swallow.
The workers instructed the woman to spit out the liquid and they discovered she had been concealing tadpoles in the water.

Animal Pictures

 The amber phantom butterfly (Haetera piera), found in the Guianas, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela.