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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Daily Drift


‘67 Firebird
‘67 Firebird
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Today in History

193   In the Balkans, the distinguished soldier Septimius Severus is proclaimed emperor by the army in Illyricum.
715   Constantine ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1241   In the Battle of Liegnitz, Mongol armies defeat Poles and Germans.
1454   The city states of Venice, Milan and Florence sign a peace agreement at Lodi, Italy.
1682   Robert La Salle claims lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France.
1731   British Captain Robert Jenkins loses an ear to a band of Spanish brigands, starting a war between Britain and Spain: The War of Jenkins' Ear.
1770   Captain James Cook discovers Botany Bay on the Australian continent.
1859   Realizing that France has encouraged the Piedmontese forces to mobilize for invading Italy, Austria begins mobilizing its army.
1865   General Robert E. Lee surrenders his rebel forces to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Va.
1900   British forces route Boers at Kroonstadt, South Africa.
1916   The German army launches its third offensive during the Battle of Verdun.
1917   The Battle of Arras begins as Canadian troops begin a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.
1921   Russo-Polish conflict ends with signing of the Riga Treaty.
1940   Germany invades Norway and Denmark.
1942   In the Battle of Bataan, American and Filipino forces are overwhelmed by the Japanese Army.
1945   The Red Army is repulsed at the Seelow Heights on the outskirts of Berlin.
1950   Comedian Bob Hope makes his first television appearance.
1963   Winston Churchill becomes the first honorary U.S. citizen.
1966   The statue of Winston Churchill is dedicated at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
1968   Murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., is buried.
1970   Paul McCartney announces the official break-up of the Beatles.

Non Sequitur


Kayaking to an Active Volcano

Most people run away from an active volcano, but not extreme sports photographer Alexandre Socci. Accompanied by pro kayaker Pedro Oliva, Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic, Socci got up close to Kilauea, an active volcano in Hawaii, to snap these (deadly) gorgeous photos:
Originally in Hawaii to film the latest installment of their Brazilian TV program titled Kaiak for Channel OFF, Socci tells us that the group didn't really know what to expect. He recounts the day for us: "We got out of bed at 3:30 AM to be in the harbor at 4 AM and get there at 5:45 AM, before sunrise, to get the best light to see the lava and the kayaks on water. We got there and for the first 20 minutes we were just looking at everything and trying to figure out what to do... then Pedro decided to get on his kayak and go for it.... We didn't expect that.
"As a water photographer myself I was trying to get into the water but it was impossible, the water was about 90 degrees Celsius and there were lots of lava particles floating that could burn anything in seconds... even the kayaks came out of the water with some 'scars' from the floating lava!!!"
Socci's incredible images say it all as the fiery molten rock can be seen oozing its way into the water just a few feet away from the daredevil kayakers. Like a scene straight from an exciting action sequence, the area is filled with blinding steam, wavy waters, and flaming lava. In fact, Oliva even caught one of his oars on fire due to its exposure to the lava flows. As a cautionary message, he says, "I hope people don't see these images and think that it is safe to paddle so close to the lava because really it's not safe at all."
My Modern Met has more photos you'd just have to see to believe: Here.

The Complete History Of False Threats From North Korea

North Korea has appeared increasingly belligerent since the UN tightened sanctions. Pyongyang has threatened to attack both US and South Korean targets. The Democratic People's Republic also says it is restarting its nuclear reactor, five years after shutting it down.

But a survey of 50 years of North Korean bellicosity shows nothing major is likely to happen.

Re-branding the repugican cabal?

The repugican cabal has found it's ability to win larger elections is failing, and they want to change the party to attract more voters. But...
From The Daily Kos

In 2012, 72 percent of Mitt Romney's support came from opponents of marriage equality, 59 percent came from people who think abortion should illegal, and 43 percent came from evangelical whites. To put it another way, the repugican cabal ain't changing:

    "Look, the repugican cabal isn't going to change," former Sen. Rick Santorum said in an interview. "If we do change, we'll be the whig cabal."

    Santorum continued: "We're not the libertarian cabal, we're the repugican cabal."

It's pretty hard to argue with that: As the numbers make clear, repugicans can't win without the christian religo-nuts. The problem is, they're still having trouble winning. So repugicans should spend more time talking about economic policy and less time on social policy, right?

    "If we gave our voters an accurate portrayal of our ideas, that we want to cut the rate of growth on Social Security, give tax cuts to billionaires and then the values issues, the values issues would be more popular than the economic agenda of the current repugican cabal," said [social wingnut leader Gary] Bauer, citing particularly those Mass-attending Roman catholics who have fled the Democrats.

    Bauer added, "I would caution the donor wing of the repugican cabal that is driving a lot of this: If they think social wingnuts are the only thing preventing repugicans from winning, they'll learn that their economic agenda will go down the tubes along with the repugican cabal's prospects."

Governor Snyder’s Emergency Manager Law Violates Equal Protection Rights

What would MLK say?
The clock is ticking, and Detroit’s new Emergency Manager is listening.
Why? Because June 23 is the 50th anniversary of the date when Dr. Martin Luther King gave his first  ‘I Have a Dream’ speech  in Detroit. You think Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr wants to be the target of attention by the nation’s civil rights leaders and activists on that historic date as the hired black man helping a white governor steal the vote from the residents of the nation’s largest predominantly African American city? A right that was paid for in blood by Dr. King and so many thousands of others, both black and white?
Yeah. Me neither.  No, I’m not suggesting this entire mess will be resolved by that time. But don’t think Orr isn’t feeling the pressure to watch his step on this new plantation of Michigan.
Listen to Dr. King when he spoke in Detroit:

“Almost one hundred and one years ago, on September the 22nd, 1862, to be exact, a great and noble American, Abraham Lincoln, signed an executive order, which was to take effect on January the first, 1863. This executive order was called the Emancipation Proclamation and it served to free the Negro from the bondage of physical slavery. But one hundred years later, the Negro in the United States of America still isn’t free. 
But now more than ever before, America is forced to grapple with this problem, for the shape of the world today does not afford us the luxury of an anemic democracy. The price that this nation must pay for the continued oppression and exploitation of the Negro or any other minority group is the price of its own destruction. For the hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking out, and we must act now before it is too late.”
Listen, I know some folks may resent putting the issue in such stark racial terms, but I don’t know any other way to put it. All the cities Gov. Rick Snyder has targeted with his Emergency Manager law combined represent more than 50 percent of the entire State’s African American population. Detroit is the blackest big city in America. It doesn’t require a major stretch to see what’s going on here.
On March 28, Orr began his occupation of Detroit under the new-but-not-really Emergency Manager law of Michigan (Public Act 436) passed last December  during the lame duck session of the State Legislature without any public hearing or community input. As I have mentioned before, PA 436 is a mirror image of PA 4, the law that Michigan voters voted to repeal during the November elections. As I have also mentioned, this should be a matter of grave concern not just to Detroiters or Michigan residents but to anyone who thinks the concept of democracy is valuable in America. If Gov. Rick Snyder is allowed to steal democracy here then the value of everyone’s vote is at risk, not just ours.
This is essentially what the Rev. Al Sharpton said several days after PA 436 went into effect when he and a group of about 50 or so Detroiters marched over to the Federal courthouse to file a federal lawsuit against Gov. Snyder challenging PA 436 on the grounds that it is in direct violation of the U.S. constitution.
From the Detroit Free Press:
A federal lawsuit filed by opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law zeroes in on the powers Public Act 436 gives to the state, and those it takes away from residents who vote local elected officials into office.
The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday, just two days into Kevyn Orr’s tenure as the state-appointed emergency manager in charge of stabilizing Detroit, a city on the brink of bankruptcy, rests on questions that have troubled critics for years: Does the emergency manager law violate the voting rights of residents by tossing out their ability to elect local leaders? And is it being applied to cities across Michigan unfairly when it comes to race?
Wayne State University law professor Robert Sedler, who specializes in constitutional law, said Thursday that the lawsuit raises “a serious question of whether this violates equal protection” because the Constitution says laws and rights must be applied evenly to all citizens.
Sharpton cautioned reporters not to mistake what they were witnessing on that day as the promised protest march. This was not a march, he said. This was a walk to the courthouse. When the march arrives there will be thousands, and those familiar with Sharpton’s organizational  skills are well aware that he is fully capable of delivering on that promise, and that was even before he had his own MSNBC show which has dramatically heightened his profile.
Sharpton didn’t give a date for when the protests would begin or when the thousands would begin to arrive. But I would bet it just might be sometime in June.

The Rich Get Richer From Tanking the Economy As The Poor Go To Jail For a Missed Payment

There is little argument that America is home to a disproportionate prison population for crimes that boggle the mind when one considers there are no victims and imprisonment will not serve to rehabilitate a prisoner. Before 1833, Americans were sent to prison for unpaid debt, and it is a practice that rightly is associated with Dickensian England and certainly not 21st century America, but with jobs nearly impossible to find after the Great Recession and tepid economic recovery, debtor’s prisons have been making a comeback despite they have been illegal in the United States since 1833. In a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, they detail how “Ohio’s Debtors’ Prisons Are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities” because Ohio courts are illegally jailing poor people for their inability to pay their debt.
The ACLU report reveals that there is a “harrowing debtors’ prison” system in Ohio  that violates both the United States and  Ohio constitutions, and that many Ohio residents are sent to prison for debts “as small as a few hundred dollars” in spite of being in violation of the state and Federal Constitution. They also exposed economic evidence that in many cases it is costing the state more to send and keep a debtor in prison than the amount of the debt they owe. Some of the statistics in the ACLU report are that in the “second half of last year, more than one in every five of all bookings in the Huron County jail originating from Norwalk Municipal Court cases involved a failure to pay fines,” and that in “suburban Cleveland, Parma Municipal Court jailed at least 45 defendants for failure to pay fines and costs between July 15 and August 31, 2012,” and that during the same period at least 75 people were thrown in jail for similar charges in the Sandusky Municipal Court.
In several cases, people were sent to prison for missing payments on fines levied against them for some other infraction, such as a woman who spent ten days in jail for not paying $300 in fines for a traffic ticket and when she got out of jail, she owed an additional $200. Her husband is also serving time in jail for overdue fines and both are unemployed. It is not unusual for a court to give a person the option of paying a fine or serving out jail time in lieu of payment, but it most states it is always an option. It is curious though, why a judge would send someone to prison for their inability to pay, and yet not discount their fines according to the time served which happened to a man who owed $1,500 in fines and court costs, was sent to prison in Wisconsin for three-and-a-half years, and still struggles to repay the fines.
There are other states throwing people in jail and debtors’ prison because of sloppy paperwork on the part of credit collection agencies who most likely had nothing to do with the original debt. It is a common practice for hospitals, retailers, and small businesses to sell their debt to collection agencies whether or not a debtor defaulted on a loan or outstanding bill. Often, if a debtor is late or misses one month repaying their debt, the creditor immediately turns (sells) the debt over to a collection agency that takes legal action the debtor may be unaware of. Without knowledge they are being sued for the debt by an unknown collection agency, the person cannot possibly go to court to face the charges and the judge automatically issues an arrest warrant for the debtor for failure to appear or contempt of court.
Without knowledge they were sued by creditors and a warrant for their arrest was issued, they are taken unawares and arrested and jailed without knowledge that they “failed to appear” before the court. For example, a woman was pulled over for a loud muffler in Illinois and instead of a fix-it ticket or just a warning, the officer arrested her and took her to jail and later she discovered the court issued an arrest warrant for failing to appear. The woman owed $730 for a medical bill and had no idea the collection agency bought the debt or filed the lawsuit against her, and without the court or creditor giving her notification she had to appear in court, she missed the date and went to jail.
Even though debtors’ prisons have been banned explicitly by states’ and the Federal Constitution, over a third of the states allow borrowers to be jailed whether they were unable to pay because their jobs were eliminated due to the recession or a medical emergency racked up enormous debt. In fact, another report by the ACLU found that many people are imprisoned regardless the cost of keeping them in jail far exceeded the amount of debt they owed. In one case in Louisiana, a homeless construction worker was imprisoned for five months for legal debt of $498 while his jail time cost six times as much, and the debtor was forced to pay for his own incarceration. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 140,000 complaints related to debt collection practices and they have taken 10 collection agencies to court for unfair practices in the past three years.
Since 2010, judges, who like debtors, do not know the debtor’s rights signed more than 5,000 arrest warrants in just nine counties, and one legal aid attorney said it is not uncommon for the accused to be intimidated by the judge into making unfair repayment agreements after facing interrogation by judges about why they cannot pay more and if they are really looking for a job; in this economy and regardless if it is an emergency medical debt or not. Collection agencies have an incentive to use needlessly harsh tactics, including seeking judgments and threats of jail time, because debt collection is a very lucrative business, especially in a down economy when people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
It is beyond the pale that in 2013, there are Americans being thrown in debtors’ prison when in most cases the people fail to keep up timely payments because they either lost their job, are uninsured and had a medical emergency, or can only find part-time minimum wage jobs if they are fortunate. One hopes that the ACLU of Ohio’s exhaustive report shines a light on the problem, and court officials pledged to look into the accusations, but that does not help any of the people who are thrown in prison for something as minor as missing a single payment that was sold to a collection agency that promptly secures a court judgment against the person unawares.
There are people who deliberately skip out on their debt commitments, and it reached a high point during the housing crisis where people just walked away from their mortgages with little or no consequences except a blemish on their credit record. There are other Americans who are without healthcare insurance and face a life-threatening illness that disables them, and their debt to the hospital is promptly sold to a credit collection agency that takes legal action to force them into a repayment plan they can hardly afford, but when given the choice of promising to repay a debt they can never keep up with or go directly to prison, most people will accept succumb to the court and collection agency’s pressure and still wind up in debtors’ prison when they are in contempt of court for not following the details of their debt settlement. It is a no-win situation and as usual, it is the poor and unfortunate who wind up sitting in America’s prisons while filthy rich bankers and Wall Street CEOs are luxuriating in style after fleecing the people, the economy, and their investors with impunity. But that is America, where the rich are granted immunity from prosecution for robbing billions of dollars from millions of Americans and the poor are thrown in prison for missing a payment for their catastrophic health emergency.

The truth be told

You Know repugican Politicians Don’t Care About the Victims of Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook

April 20th will mark the 14th anniversary of the Columbine shootings. Two demented teenagers shot 12 of their peers and 1 adult coach to death and then, themselves. The young victims who died were between 15 and 18. Most were shot multiple times. It was a miracle more of the 24 who were injured didn’t die as well. There were student’s shot in the head that survived and many were shot repeatedly. Richard Castaldo, 17 at the time, was shot 8 times and remains paralyzed from the chest down to this day.
Columbine classmates Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did it. Klebold and Harris were pathetic, rejected and vengeful school “outsiders.” Harris routinely saw a psychologist. He was known to be mentally disturbed. His autopsy revealed the presence of a prescribed anti-depressant drug, Luvox. With the laws being considered for passage now, he would never have been able to buy a gun. He didn’t buy a gun in 1999 either. Pals made straw purchases or he bought them on the street.
The pair had 10 round magazines, 13 of them. Current bills being considered for passage limit magazines to 10 rounds. Klebold and Harris used up 96 of a total of 130 rounds in their magazines. Law enforcement officials said they had enough arms and ammo to kill every student in Columbine.
There was a deputy sheriff on duty at the school at the time of the mayhem. There was an initial exchange of gunfire between 2 sheriff’s deputies and the perps in the school parking lot. The deputies missed as Harris and Klebold then fled into the school. A total of 6 deputies then stood outside cleaning their fingernails before a SWAT entry. It took SWAT at least 45 minutes to enter the school while a perimeter and logistics were figured out. All the while they couldn’t help but hear the hail of bullets and screams coming from inside Columbine.
According to the Denver Post reporting of the slaughter, it took the two teenagers 16 minutes to tear the student population to shreds. Law Enforcement arrived over a period of 3 hours and 14 minutes. SWAT didn’t enter the building until shortly after the carnage was over. It was a keystone cops response of ineptness, fear and stupidity.
The adult victim lay bleeding to death for the well over the two-hour span it took for SWAT to ‘secure’ the inside of the school. So, in the case of Columbine, you had all sorts of firepower. To no avail. Another question might be, “Who would shoot at whom?” A student holding a cell phone at the wrong angle could have been blown to smithereens, by SWAT or, as Wayne LaPierre would say, “Good guys with guns.”
It was December 14 of last year that Adam Lanza, at 20 a slightly older version of Harris and Klebold, walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 6 adults and 20 very young children and like Harris and Klebold, committed suicide. He had earlier killed his mother. Lanza was diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of autism not associated with violence. He was also diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), a condition that over- stimulates the subject to pain and touching. Some incident could well have triggered Lanza’s shooting spree. He was often described as being in his “own little world.” It’s almost certain he would never be allowed to purchase a firearm under restrictive definitions of mental illness but he didn’t have to. He had easy home access to the weapons he used in the killings.
Back on June 20, 2012, James Holmes killed 12 patrons and injured 70 more in an Aurora, Colorado Movie Theater. His mental challenges were not only well known, but his psychiatrist actually warned campus police that Holmes was dangerous and homicidal. So yeah, identify the mentally ill. Then what? Were Wayne LaPierre and the Nutional Rifle Association going to station an armed guard in Holmes’ living room?
You can station small army’s in and around schools. You can publicly shoulder bazookas or secret mighty semi-autos inside your coat. So what? And the idea that if somebody passes a background check, they’re just harmless little pussycats isn’t born out by the facts. Background checks do help mitigate some of the damage but they’re not end all, be all’s. Domestic abusers pass background checks all the time. Thinkprogress points out that if you give these scumbags access to guns, they’re 7 times more likely to kill their partners. That brings me to another Thinkprogress stat; 90% of female homicide victims are killed by someone they know.
As for eliminating gun ownership for the mentally ill, the feds and 44 states already have such laws on the books ranging from having been institutionalized in a mental hospital (ever in some cases) or a drug or alcohol rehab center.
The federal law forbids selling arms and ammo to any a person “Who has been adjudicated as a mental defective (hate that term) or has been committed to any mental institution.” State laws vary widely and as LaPierre gently put it to NBC, “We have no national database of these lunatics.” If there were such a database, would LaPierre be included? Just asking!
One unalterable fact colors the gun argument. Fewer guns; fewer deaths. When there are national buybacks and the sale of more types of guns is banned, gun deaths go down. Dramatically. As said many times before on this site, the NRA, gun manufacturers and radical red state politicians won’t allow fewer guns to happen. Ever. They can’t care about the deaths of children or they’d do something.
No meaningful repugican initiatives have been born of Sandy Hook. None! It’s the Democrats who have initiated any movements toward reasonable gun laws. As I’ve often stated, most women hate guns. They can’t express their feelings openly (on TV, in Letters to the Editor or at the dinner table) because of the Neanderthals sharing their beds. But these Alley Oops can’t see how the wife or girlfriend votes.
There’s your answer to the gun crisis.

ExxonMobil, FAA, Arkansas cops establish flight restriction zone, threaten reporters who try to document Mayflower, Arkansas spill

Expect to see a lot fewer images of toxic sludge creeping through small communities, thanks to the hard work of ExxonMobil. The company could have used its prodigious resources to make its oil pipelines more secure, preventing town-destroying leaks like the one that hit Mayflower, Arkansas. But they figured out that it would be cheaper to just corrupt the local law to chase reporters out and get the FAA to establish a Temporary Flight Restriction zone over the spill. Problem solved!
Michael Hibblen, who reports for the radio station KUAR, went to the spill site on Wednesday with state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. McDaniel was in the area to inspect the site and hold a news conference, and Hibblen and a small group of reporters were following him to report on the visit. Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff's office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen told Mother Jones on Friday:
It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."
Hibblen says he didn't really have time to deal with getting arrested, since he needed to file his report on the visit for both the local affiliate and national NPR. (You can hear his piece on the AG's visit here.) KUAR has also reported on Exxon blocking reporters' access to the spill site.

The Koch Brothers War On Renewable Energy Is Killing Jobs and Destroying Our Air

Renewable energy
It is hardly deniable that the Earth’s climate is warming at an alarming rate, and it has prompted most countries in the developed world to look to renewable energy as a means of staunching greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing their dependency on fossil fuels. Even America, the backward nation addicted to and lusting for more fossil fuel use, has crept ever so slowly to catch up to the rest of the world’s use of renewable energy with a burgeoning movement toward wind and solar power that creates jobs, saves consumers’ money, and reduces pollutants. In 2007, North Carolina was the first state in the Southeastern U.S. to adopt renewable energy standards to encourage electrical utility providers to expand their use of renewable sources of energy, and last week, they became the first state to repeal their renewable energy standards at the direction of the Koch brothers and their legislative arm, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
North Carolina utilities were on pace to supply 12.5% of the state’s electricity needs with  renewable energy that has created thousands of jobs, generated billions in revenue, and reduced pollution all while saving ratepayers money. However, led by the Kochs, Grover Norquist, the Heartland Institute, and ALEC, Republicans voted to repeal the state’s renewable energy standards (RES) using an ALEC template that is gaining traction in several states under Koch brothers and Grover Norquist’s control  Norquist and the Kochs have been heavily funding and pushing ALEC’s “template legislation” to put an end to renewable energy to hasten climate change’s effect, kill jobs, and restrict states from reaping the revenue generated by renewable energy.
The ALEC bill, HB298, dubbed the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act” was introduced by ALEC member Rep. Mike Hager and repeals the renewable energy standard that barely made it out of committee when two sane Republicans voted against it. One repugican from Charlotte, Ruth Samuelson, said the RES had helped develop a renewable alternative energy industry that benefitted rural communities and created 1,100 clean energy companies that contributed $3.7 billion in annual revenue, created over 21,000 jobs, and lowered residential energy bills by $173 million.  In fact, North Carolina’s RES lifted the state to fifth place in the nation for solar power development and was closing in on fourth place this year leading the CEO of FLS energy to claimIt’s an extraordinary success story that there’s an industry that hardly existed several years ago,” but the Koch brothers mean to destroy the industry with a “filled-in” template courtesy of ALEC.
The Koch brothers, their cohort ALEC, and the conservative belief tank the Heartland Institute lobbied heavily to dismantle the RES through hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in donations and assistance from Art Pope’s John Locke Foundation. Pope is a conservative donor and former national director of the Koch brothers’ other belief tank, Americans for Prosperity, and his John Locke Foundation assisted pushing ALEC’s legislation with a phony report that the RES increased energy costs to consumers and killed thousands of jobs.
Grover Norquist joined forces with the Kochs and wrote an op-ed attacking renewable energy and, of course, cited the Locke Foundation phony report as why it was crucial to kill renewable energy standards. Norquist attempted to convince Kansas legislators to repeal their RES or at least weaken them with ALEC’s model legislation, but the repugican-led House and Senate rejected the bills after thousands of residents signed petitions and the Kansas Farm Bureau wrote an op-ed supporting the state standards. The opinion piece noted that Kansas was one of the nation’s leaders in renewable energy, and boasted the state was second in the nation for wind-energy potential that means more jobs, increased disposable income for consumers and businesses, as well as increasing development in Kansas. He also encouraged legislators to strengthen the RES because it helped the “prosperity of Kansas’ farm and ranch families, provides jobs, attracts new businesses, and invests in infrastructure for the state.”
The president and CEO of the American Council or Renewable Energy responded to Norquist’s lies and asked a prescient rhetorical question; “So as a nationwide initiative funded by opponents of renewable energy targets state Renewable Portfolio Standards, Americans should be asking themselves, with all the benefits that came with doubling our renewable energy capacity from 43.5 gigawatts to 85.7GW from 2008 to 2012, “Do we want more renewable energy or less?” The thousands who signed petitions to the legislature obviously answered that yes, they wanted more renewable energy, cleaner air, more jobs, and business investments to fund infrastructure improvement. Sadly, North Carolina repugicans did not want the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy and voted to repeal the RES and kill jobs, increase energy costs, and add pollutants to the environment.
It is apparent why the Koch brothers invested in ALEC’s model legislation because denying global climate change is one of their major goals, and of course they reap the benefits of selling more oil to generate electricity. In fact, if the Kochs ever devised a way to charge Americans for accessing the Sun and wind, this nation would be awash in renewable energy. ALEC is at Koch’s beck and call to grind out templates for repugicans to fill in to kill renewable energy standards in 28 states, as well as keep the money flowing into their coffers from the Kochs. Grover Norquist joined the campaign because starving state governments of revenue takes him one step closer to achieving his goal of “drowning government in a bathtub,” and he succeeded in North Carolina that stands to lose $3.7 billion in annual revenue as well as revenue from residents working in the renewable energy industry. The fact that Norquist assisted repugicans in killing thousands of jobs and increase the burden on energy consumers with higher electricity costs is a value-added benefit and reinforces his disregard for Americans over the past three decades.
Despite America being a leader in technological development, the nation is lagging behind nearly every developed country in the world in harnessing renewable energy, including one the biggest polluters on the planet, China. President Obama has attempted to increase funding in the form of tax credits and loans to expand this nation’s renewable energy, but repugicans have been there every step of the way blocking his efforts. America has an expansive land area to take advantage of the Sun and wind to generate electricity, but the Koch brothers will not allow any further development in the industry. Worse, with ALEC supplying repugicans Koch legislation to end renewable energy standards, Americans will lose jobs, clean air, inexpensive electricity, and increased business investments, and if there is one thing repugicans love more than oil industry campaign donations, it is imposing more hardship on the American people.

Now, we're talking ...

Seeking Immortality?

A Russian Internet mogul is claiming to be able to make humans immortal by 2045. Are we finally getting close to the secret of immortality?

New link between heart disease and red meat (and Red Bull?)

A compound abundant in red meat and added as a supplement to popular energy drinks has been found to promote atherosclerosis – or the hardening or clogging of the arteries – according to Cleveland Clinic [...]

Heart, Lungs May Smell Food Too

Olfactory receptors, previously thought to only exist in the nose, have been found in other parts of the human body.

Health News

A new study found that higher levels of mercury exposure in young adults increased their risks for type 2 diabetes later in life by 65 percent. The study, led by Indiana University School of Public [...]
Researchers in the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan have challenged a long-held belief that whitening of skeletal muscle in diabetes is harmful. In fact, the white muscle that increases with resistance training, [...]

Random Celebrity Photo

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Andre De Dienes, 1945

Korean twin sisters separated at birth find each other via Facebook

Neat story. About a month ago, some French kids thought that an American actress of Korean descent looked strikingly similar to a Korean-born French friend of theirs, so they showed her the American’s picture.  The French woman freaked out, convinced it was her long-lost twin sister, contacted her by Facebook – and voila! – it was her. One was adopted by Americans, the other by French, when they were both infants.

Machiavellian Mom

Tiger Mom has finally met her match. Meet Suzanne Evans, author and self-professed Machiavellian Mom, who used the maxims of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince to become, well, a better mom. Case in point:
'A Captain ought…[to] endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making him suspicious of his men…or by giving him cause…to separate his forces and, because of this, become weaker.'
I was already familiar with the strategy of "divide and conquer"; our kids are masters at pitting my husband and me against each other to get what they want. I decided it was time to use this maxim to my own advantage.
To that end, I "divided" Teddy and my 8-year-old stepson Daniel by pitting them against each other in a not-so-friendly competition over who could do better in school.
"Excellent!" I praised Teddy when she brought home a nearly perfect second-grade report card. I then rewarded her with a celebratory family dinner at the restaurant of her choice. On the other front, Daniel, whose report card wasn't so stellar, got nothing, other than the shame of losing the competition—to his younger sister no less, as I reminded him.
But this defeat ignited his competitive spirit, and by the end of the school year, both Teddy and Daniel brought home outstanding report cards. Bottom line: By setting my kids against each other, I ultimately got what I wanted from them…and they both benefited.
See if you too can become a better parent through Machiavelli: Here.

Romanian Man Sues Bishop and Priests for Failing to Exorcise Flatulent Demons from His House

ExorcistMadalin Ciculescu, an attorney in Romania, was plagued with foul-smelling demons in his house who constantly turned his electrical gadgets on and off. So he hired four local Orthodox priests to exorcise them. In his lawsuit, Ciculescu argues that they didn't finish the job:
'When I am at home they switch the TV on and off all the time, they make foul smells that give me headaches and basically roam unhindered around my house and my business.'
The man produced his mother to back up his claim saying that even the hair-dryer was possessed and a black shadow came out of it when anyone tried to use it - and she also said the fridge was infested by the flatulent demons that she confirmed left foul smells about the property.
But the lawyer for the Archdiocese from Arges, Anton Alin, rejected the allegation of fraud saying that the exorcism had been properly carried out and they believed the allegations of further demons and more bad smells were simply a product of the man's imagination.
The Romanian court agreed with the church and rejected the application against Bishop Argatu as well as priests Ionut Cret Ovidiu, Gheorghe Nicut, Marius Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Dunitru - and ordered Ciculescu to pay legal costs.

A 65-year-old woman is stripped, beaten and forced to eat feces for allegedly practicing witchcraft

An elderly woman was stripped‚ beaten mercilessly and fed human faeces in Beladipur VDC of Kailali district, Nepal, for allegedly practicing witchcraft at 4am on Friday morning. Her niece, Nira Rana, and brother-in-law Ramsingh Rana, thrashed Raj Kumari Rana‚ 65‚ and shaved her head‚ accusing her of using black magic to kill Nira’s new-born son some eight years ago.

Raj Kumari’s husband Nahara Rana said a group of 30 people had barged into his house and beat up Raj Kumari with timber pieces. “Nira thrashed Raj Kumari with whatever she could lay her hands on in the house. They hit her so hard that two of her teeth had fallen off‚” Nahara Rana recounted‚ adding with disgust that they also fed her filthy water and stool collected from toilet. He added that Raj Kumari was critically injured after the miscreants thrust a stick into her anus.

Raj Kumari’s son Dal Bahadur said Nira’s son had died the day it was born eight years ago. “Since then‚ Nira has been accusing my mother of practising black magic‚” Dal Bahadur said. According to him‚ Nira had attacked his mother in a similar manner two years ago as well and the matter was taken to village kachahari‚ which solves disputes in the village.

Dal Bahadur said village kachahari had asked them not to report the incident to the police. “But‚ the neighbours informed about the incident to the police”‚ he said. The victim was critically injured and the police could take her to the hospital until after 2 pm. “I was stripped and humiliated. My jewels and clothes were burned in the house yard‚” Victim Raj Kumari recalled. Meanwhile‚ perpetrator Nira Rana admitted to her wrongdoing. Police have arrested Nira and her husband‚ Lalsingh. Injured Raj Kumari is undergoing treatment at Seti Zonal Hospital.

Hot shave plan went awry when can of shaving cream being heated on kitchen stove exploded

Fire engines and an ambulance rushed to a quiet residential street in Largo, Florida, on Wednesday morning after a man called 911 to report an explosion.

Emergency responders found the man waiting outside a home on Sixth Avenue NE. He had a red gash under one eye and white liquid on his shirt. The liquid, he told them, was shaving cream.

The unidentified man, aged about 50, just wanted a hot shave, said Largo Fire Division Chief Dave Mixson. So he heated his can of shaving cream on the kitchen stove. The can blew up, hurling aluminum shards at his face.

"Not a good idea, in my estimation," Mixson said. The man's injuries appeared to be minor, Mixson added, but he was taken by ambulance to Largo Medical Center for closer inspection. There was no damage to the house. It isn't advisable to heat metal cans, Mixson said.

Man used balloons to fly from Nelson Mandela jail island to Cape Town

A South African man has become the first person to float from Robben Island to Cape Town using only helium balloons. Matt Silver-Vallance, 37, who now lives in Coventry, took around an hour to make the 3.7 mile crossing above the Atlantic. Wearing a wetsuit and a harness attached to 160 balloons, the adventurer flew above shark-infested waters to raise money for the Nelson Mandela children's' hospital. He carried bags weighted with water to adjust his height, and an air gun and makeshift spear to pop the balloons.

Mr Silver-Vallance, a marketing manager at a medical device company, said that he had come up with the idea while watching a television program about astronauts, and thought of different ways to defy gravity. But with no test run ahead of lift-off, Mr Silver-Vallance did not know what to expect. "Then I started coming down again, that's when it got hairy," he said. Mr Silver-Vallance tried to pop some balloons to descend, but the pellets just bounced off them.

He had to resort to spearing 35 of the balloons, leaving him exhausted. With his support team having decided that landing on a hard surface would be too dangerous, Mr Silver-Vallance dropped down a rope and then slid down into a sea rescue craft, which had been following his trajectory. "Wow, that was crazy," he said. "Don't try this at home!" The crossing was the first of its kind from Robben Island – the land mass off Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 18 years, from 1964. The island has now been turned into a museum.

The stunt was designed to raise 10 million rand (£72,000) for the Nelson Mandela children's hospital, which will be built in Johannesburg. "We're trying to raise as much money as possible for the hospital and we really see this project as a catalyst," Mr Silver-Vallance said ahead of take-off. "The risks that I'm taking are tiny compared to the risks that he took," he said. He added that he hoped the flight "could bring a smile to Mandela's face". Later, after the flight, Nelson Mandela was discharged from hospital after being admitted 10 days ago for a bout of pneumonia.

The City Of Presidents

Visitors to the historic downtown of South Dakota's Rapid City are in for something of a surprise. Turn a corner and you come face to face with a life size bronze statue of the USA's first ever President, George Washington.

Turn another and you come across his successor, George Adams. In fact there is a statue of each US President in the city. As well as being a remarkable tribute to the leaders of America, it's a great way to memorize the presidents.

The Giant Monument to Genghis Khan

For a brief time, beginning with the reign of Genghis Khan (1155?-1227), the Mongols were the most powerful people on Earth. Five years ago, Mongolia erected an enormous statue in his honor:
Kahn and his horse stand 131 feet tall atop a 33-foot tall coliseum with 36 columns. Located 34 miles from Ulaanbaatar in an area known as Tsonjin Boldog, the statue commemorates the site where legend says Kahn found a golden whip. 
Though Genghis Khan and his empire are dead, his genetic legacy lives on in the form of Serpentor, a leader of Cobra.

Transportation In Japan More Than 100 Years Ago

Photos of different ways of transportation in Japan more than 100 years ago.

Rescuers demolished wall to save dog that had fallen 20 meters down ventilation shaft

A dog that fell 20 meters down the ventilation shaft of a disused building in the Turkish town of Bartin Kozcağız was rescued by police and municipal workers.

After about 30 minutes of hammering, a very happy dog emerged through a hole that had been knocked through a wall, apparently unscathed by his experience.

Fish hitched ride to US in Japanese tsunami boat

A fish native to Japan has been discovered living in a small boat which was carried across the Pacific to US shores by the 2011 tsumani.

The fish, identified as a striped beakfish, appears to have survived the 5,000 mile journey aboard a drifting 18-foot skiff that arrived on the Washington coastline in March.

It was discovered in a bait box by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife official while he was collecting samples of marine organisms from the beached vessel.

"People are pretty fascinated about seeing this fish and the fact that it came all the way over from Japan in the debris, so it has been a pretty cool event," said Keith Chandler from the Seaside Aquarium in Oregon, where the fish is now housed. The striped beakfish, which is primarily found in shallow Asian waters, appears to have survived the trip by feeding on other organisms in the boat.

Animal Pictures