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Thursday, April 11, 2013

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Today in History

1512   The forces of the Holy League are heavily defeated by the French at the Battle of Ravenna.
1713   The Treaty of Utrecht is signed, ending the War of Spanish Succession. France cedes Maritime provinces to Britain.
1783   After receiving a copy of the provisional treaty on 13 March, Congress proclaims a formal end to hostilities with Great Britain.
1814   Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to Elba.
1898   American President William McKinley asks Congress for declaration of war with Spain.
1941   Germany bombers blitz Conventry, England.
1942   Detachment 101 of the OSS–a guerrilla force–is activated in Burma.
1945   After two frustrating days of being repulsed and absorbing tremendous casualties, the Red Army finally takes the Seelow Heights north of Berlin.
1951   President Truman fires General Douglas MacArthur as head of United Nations forces in Korea.
1961   Israel begins the trial of Adolf Eichman, accused of war crimes during WWII.
1961   Folk singer Bob Dylan performs in New York City for the first time, opening for John Lee Hooker.
1968   President Johnson signs the 1968 Civil Rights Act.
1974   The Judiciary committee subpoenas President Richard Nixon to produce tapes for impeachment inquiry.
1981   President Ronald Reagan returns to the White House from hospital after recovery from an assassination attempt.
1986   Dodge Morgan sails solo nonstop around the world in 150 days.
1991   The U.N. Security Council issues formal cease fire with Iraq.
1996   Forty-three African nations sign the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

Non Sequitur


Anonymous Demands Justice After Bullied and Alleged Gang Raped Teen Ends Her Life

Brace yourselves, this is an unbearable story.
A 17-year-old Nova Scotia girl named Rehtaeh Parsons hung herself in her family’s bathroom last week. Her family pulled her life support on Sunday after she fell into a coma. She took her own life after pictures of her allegedly being gang raped at the age of 15 were distributed online by her classmates, leading to relentless bullying. Authorities say they did not charge the alleged perpetrators due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
Rehtaeh even changed schools to get away from the cyber bullying. Rehtaeh’s mother’s wrote on a Facebook memorial page for her daughter:
“One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral… Rehtaeh was suddenly shunned by almost everyone she knew, the harassment was so bad she had to move out of her own community to try to start anew in Halifax.”
Wednesday morning, the cavalry for bullied rape victims arrived as Anonymous initiated #OpJustice4Rehtaeh, and they have already identified two of the four alleged rapists (minor edits for space):
3.Anonymous engaged #OpJustice4Rataeh this morning in response to the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons. Justice Minister Ross Landy says that it is important for Nova Scotians to have faith in their justice system. Mr. Landy, justice is in your hands.
5.Anonymous has confirmed the identities of two of the four alleged rapists. We are currently confirming a third and it is only a matter of time before the fourth is identified as well.
7.Our demands are simple: We want the N.S. RCMP to take immediate legal action against the individuals in question. We encourage you to act fast. If we were able to locate these boys within 2 hours, it will not be long before someone else finds them.
9.We do not approve of vigilante justice as the media claims. That would mean we approve of violent actions against these rapists at the hands of an unruly mob. What we want is justice. And That’s your job. So do it.

  1. The names of the rapists will be kept until it is apparent you have no intention of providing justice to Retaeh’s family. Please be aware that there are other groups of Anons also attempting to uncover this information and they may not to wish to wait at all. Better act fast.

  2. Be aware that we will be organizing large demonstrations outside of your headquarters. The rapists will be held accountable for their actions. You will be held accountable for your failure to act.

  3. That is all
  4. - We Are Anonymous.

  5. The Corrupt Fear Us.
  6. The Honest Support Us.
  7. The Heroic Join Us.
  8. Expect Justice
It takes Anonymous threatening law enforcement in order for them to step up for justice? This is further suggestion of the rape culture we’ve most recently seen in Steubenville. It’s not as if Anonymous goes running around making accusations like this without due diligence. In a recent case in Torrington Torrington, Connecticut, they were the first to say, “this isn’t Steubenville”, and so long as the adults were doing their best to address the rape, Anonymous wouldn’t interfere.
According to Buzzfeed, officials investigated and determined that there was not enough evidence to proceed:
The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) investigation took a year, said Parsons.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae confirmed the police are now investigating a sudden death involving a young person.
“An investigation into an earlier sexual assault was completed, and in consultation with the Crown, there was insufficient evidence to lay charges,” MacRae said.
Yet, the cyberbullying continued and it’s logical to presume there was ample evidence of that, as the young girl was getting text messages and other ugly smears sent to her, calling her a “slut” and asking her if she wanted to have sex (note: gang rape is not “having sex”; it’s a violent act of aggression, not a sexual act of desire).
Rehtaeh’s mother said the alleged rapists, the bullies and the system all let her daughter down,  writing on the Facebook memorial, “Rehtaeh is gone today because of The four boys that thought that raping a 15yr old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun. Secondly, All the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl.”
Anonymous is not acting as vigilantes; rather they are serving as a check and balance on the abuse of power seen in the repeated silencing of rape cases. Anonymous is not saying these suspects are guilty; they are saying file some charges, do some investigating —  they need some sign that the authorities are taking this seriously.
No matter how you feel about Anonymous, it should give everyone pause that too many legal systems repeatedly ignore victims of rape, and leave them to be shunned and shamed by a society eager to protect the perpetrators. The same system does nothing until the cavalry of Anonymous rides in to stir up some justice.
Justice is what the system is supposed to be delivering. Instead, too often they leave it to Anonymous.
Anonymous set a deadline for officials and the alleged perpetrators. Tick tock.

Spring is here

Thatcher Destryed Great Britain

She was Reagan with a larger vagina

It would be a crime to allow hagiography and personality to distract from what made her so deeply despised: She ruined Britain.

Let’s skip the rise-to-power biographical crap — watch the Meryl Streep movie — and get
to the point. She intentionally immiserated millions of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people in order to carry out a liberalization of the British economy that benefited the wealthy at the expense of nearly everyone else. Decades after she left office, the country hasn’t recovered.

As the trade unions were broken “The City” — London’s Wall Street — experienced the deregulation and subsequent astronomic growth that would eventually lead to Libor-rigging and, paired with similar de-regulatory efforts in the States, the spectacular international financial catastrophe itself.

Did you know ...

It's been record dolphin & turtle deaths since gulf spill

That 'ding dong the witch is dead' tops the british charts after the death of Margaret Thatcher

The states with loosest gun laws have twice as much gun violence

That Dimbulb and Faux News suffer ratings headache

Fifteen Republican Governors Would Rather Kill Their Own Citizens Than Expand Medicaid

Oil Party GOP
A youngish PR guy spoke at a recent county Democratic function in my home territory of Upstate South Carolina. He was from the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA). I’m betting he’s a repugican, having previously worked as a lobbyist for state Real Estate interests, but sometimes special interests collide with party interests at the intersection of “What’s in it for me?” And apparently the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid has rattled the hospital people to their very core.
The SCHA wants to autoclave the moronic decision on the part of the state’s repugican power brokers. Sterilize the idiocy out of their hatred of Obamacare if you will. The earnest young man whose first name was Schipp (sounds like the ritzy part of town to me) gave a wonderfully convincing and informative talk to a roomful of the mostly already converted. I talked with him briefly after the meeting and told him I was likely to include parts of his speech in my next contribution to the progressive Website, PoliticusUSA. He seemed pleased to get the word out. So I’m sharing some of his facts and figures and some of my own that should lend context to the issue.
Yes, South Carolina, as it does with many federal offerings, has rejected the Medicaid Expansion. The simple fact is that the Medicaid expansion money that doesn’t come to South Carolina, goes elsewhere, turning this state into a donor state. Eligibility of based on anyone earning less that $11,500 or $23,550 for a family of four. The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation calculates that South Carolina ranks 4th of the states that would benefit most from the expansion. In terms of numbers, that’s 250,000 plus people who would be impacted.
South Carolina ranks 48th in the nation in the number of children living in poverty; 49th in the number of diabetics, 42nd in obesity, 45th in coverage by Medicaid and 45th in persons not covered by health insurance. That translates to a total of 700,000 citizens with no health insurance.
So the obviously predictable move for the extraordinarily ignorant and Obama-hating red state government would be to reject the expansion of Medicaid (joining 14 other dumb-ass states) in a move that will be devastating to hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of South Carolina residents because it’s not only lower income individuals and families that are affected, but those with health insurance, who, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, pay an estimated $1,000-$2,000 extra dollars in premiums per year (it’s $3,000 for small businesses) because hospitals are legally forbidden to turn away those in need (one of the few positives from the Reagan junta) and the cost shifting is passed along to the already insured.
To save hospitals that are still in danger of going under, the government provides Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) adjustment payments for those hospitals that serve a ‘disproportionate’ share of low-income patients that are uninsured and not covered by traditional entitlement programs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, despised by clueless right-wingers, increased DSH payments for 2 fiscal years to most states by 2.5%. That should have saved those already insured a few bucks if the right-wingers beloved huge insurers adjusted their premiums for at least 2 years to reflect the federal payments.
That’s what the Medicaid expansion program was designed to accomplish. Benefit those earning under poverty minimums and take pressure off of hospitals and the currently insured.
The Advisory Board Company that consults health care and higher education clients has compiled a handy list of states that embrace or reject Medicaid expansion. A total of 15 states (as of this writing) couldn’t care less. The Dunce Cap states are South Carolina (of course) and North Carolina, when not busy obsessing on denying the vote to roughly 600,000 eligible citizens. Alabama’s on board with not being on board. Checked the collective IQ’s of that state lately? No expansion for Mississippi. No anything else for that god forsaken plot of KKK-land either. And there’s Georgia where their Republican Governor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the state “Couldn’t afford expansion.” Of course it’s free for the first 3 years followed by phasing down for a few years to a permanent 90-10 fed/state split. “Georgia can’t afford that?”
Idaho joins the parade of heartless states brushing off help for those strapped for cash for medical emergencies. “Let ‘em eat cake.” Iowa is lost in the stalks. Louisiana is a puzzle in their refusal to participate. How can such a smart governor as Bobby Jindal be so dumb? Then there’s Maine and the state’s totally misinformed repugican governor Paul LePage. He took a pass on expansion because it would be a “Degradation of our nation’s premier health system.” Premier??? Governor, have you read even one fact about America’s health care standing among industrialized and universal health care nations? Even one? Back in April, LePage said his state might consider expansion if the feds paid a full ten years of the freight. As it turned out, no long-term freebie, to hell with the poor constituents. Wingnuts love the guy because he’s always blasting liberals and unions.
Oklahoma’s in the mix of Medicaid Expansion-deniers. To paraphrase the joyous lyrics of “Oklahoma”…”OOOOKlahoma, where the callous hate-anything Obama wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!!!” YEEOW is pretty much what those who end up paying somebody else’s tab are going to be screaming in the Sooner state. Another ‘nein’ comes from the sleazy repugicans of Pennsylvania. You remember the legislature manipulating voting right’s laws in an attempt to get Romney elected. Screwing poor folks over is an easy call for PA’s wingnut leadership. Next in line is South Dakota, another reason to never think about South Dakota when the subject is thoughtful governance. Then there’s Wisconsin, a formerly liberal state now featuring extremist wingnut leadership whose brains are best compared in size to Gulliver in Brobdingnag. Finally, there’s Texas. ‘Nuff said.
According to the consulting firm, 25 states have signed on to expansion, a couple are leaning that way, 3 are leaning the other way and the rest are undecided. The blood-red county I live in is the 4th neediest county (out of 46) in the state for Medicaid Expansion. There are 11,414 uninsured citizens age 18-64 with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The local legislative delegation is overwhelmingly repugican; not just repugicans, but wingnut extremists, tea party repugican. In other words, not repugican at all, but an amalgam of Obama, fed and Democrat-haters hiding behind a party banner. Any initiative that would bring credit to any of the above would be trashed in the time it would take for a goober to drive to a gun sale at Walmart.

House repugicans Dig In Their Heels and Refuse To Create Middle Class Jobs

America Closed
One of the factors that leads to a successful civilization is the concept that regardless the issue, differences between competing ideologies have to be settled by some form of arbitration, or by consensus, reached through a set of mutual concessions. As America lurches toward becoming a nation of peasants existing to serve a small group of extremely wealthy industrialists, the people are given little choice but watching repugicans dig in their heels and continue on a course of inaction, obstruction, and intransigence by refusing to compromise with Democrats on any issue regardless the health of the nation or well-being of its people. The ideological differences of the two parties cannot possibly be any starker and easily defined according to the language each party uses to describe their agendas and plans for governing, and where the Democrats are intent on creating, repugicans are duty-bound by ideology to destroy.
Yesterday House Democrats unveiled a “Make it in America” agenda that is designed to spur domestic job creation  with a series of common sense and proven reforms to address the nation’s persistent unemployment crisis by promoting exports, strengthening trade enforcement, hiking infrastructure spending, and rewarding companies that stop shipping Americans’ jobs overseas. The Democrats’ goal is to rebuild and restore the rapidly vanishing middle class, and it is dependent on four areas of focus including a manufacturing strategy, promoting exports, training and educating workers for a modern economy, and enticing companies to relocate and bring back jobs to America. It is not a new agenda, but there is concrete evidence that it is key to jumpstarting the economy and putting the country on a path to fiscal health with a vibrant middle class.
The repugicans, led by John Boehner, take an opposing view based on destruction evident in the language they use according to their ideological bent based on cutting spending, eliminating regulations, slashing taxes for the wealthy, and removing government they claim is an impediment to their corporate donors. When  repugicans parrot the Ronald Reagan mantra of “getting government out of the way,” they literally mean getting rid of the government they claim inhibits economic growth by stifling the private sector’s ability to create jobs. However, for the past four years private enterprise has thrived as a result of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus), and complained their biggest impediment to creating jobs is not taxes, regulations, or government spending, but a weakened consumer base too poor to afford their products as a result of repugicans’ wont of killing public sector jobs, cutting spending, and rewarding corporations that move their operations, and Americans’ jobs, overseas.
The repugicans have been on a destructive path for over thirty years, and crucial to their attack on the people is “getting government out of the way” to allow their corporate donors to run roughshod over the population. Their persistent calls to cut spending have not, and will not, create one job, and their cuts are for the sole purpose of giving more tax breaks to the rich. Their assault on regulations during the Bush administration allowed Wall Street and financial institutions to cause the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression, and they have their sights set on regulations today that are guaranteed to kill jobs, the environment, and put the financial sector in the drivers’ seat to create a repeat of the 2007-2008 crash. One of the Democratic proposals to create jobs is investing in green and renewable energy that Congressional repugicans will block as the Koch brothers and ALEC rescind renewable energy standards in every repugican controlled state.
If Americans wonder what repugicans would do if they had their way in Washington, they can look at any repugican-controlled state and see drastic cuts to social programs like education, safety nets, and public sector jobs to give tax breaks to corporations. A typical repugican governor is Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett who seeks significant cuts in teacher and state workers’ pensions, cuts over $1.5 billion from education, opts out of Medicaid expansion, and gives corporations at least $2.5 billion in tax cuts. Corbett’s Draconian budget will kill about 5,000 more jobs on top of the 20,000 teacher jobs already lost to corporate tax breaks, and by not participating in the Medicaid expansion program, Corbett assures between 482,000 to 683,000 low-income residents will go without healthcare to go along with the nearly 200,000 already thrown off Medicare and Medicaid. It is noteworthy that Medicaid expansion will not cost Pennsylvania one penny until 2017, and then their share will be a paltry 10% to cover nearly a million poor, elderly, and working-poor residents. Not only is repugican Tom Corbett killing jobs, but he is killing the poor and preventing children from a decent education just to perpetuate tax breaks for the rich.
Americans will never have to worry over a foreign enemy destroying this country because repugicans have been doing a fine job for over thirty years with their despicable “get government out of the way” mantra that has borne fruit in all but two Democratic presidents’ terms. Bill Clinton presided over the greatest economic growth since Eisenhower and he accomplished it with higher tax rates for the rich and increased environmental regulations. President Obama created over 4 million jobs with one tiny infusion of government money that will go down in history as saving America’s broken economy thanks to repugican deregulation and outrageous spending on tax cuts, two wars, and a gift to the pharmaceutical industry Americans will be repaying for at least a generation. Still, repugicans in Congress are holding firm to their anti-government agenda that is killing jobs and starving an ever-increasing poverty-stricken population including children and seniors. However, where they are blocked in Washington by a Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama, they are thriving in repugican-controlled states suffering destruction of jobs, education, and social programs while corporations reap the benefits.
The House Democrats plan is founded on creating jobs and a thriving middle class that will never see the light of day because the notion of creating anything positive for the nation or the people is anathema to destructive repugicans. Despite the knowledge their policies are destroying this country, jobs, and the middle class, repugicans proceed unimpeded because it is their ideological mandate that started with Ronald Reagan and will  continue until they are either thrown out of power or the government is run by corporations, and make no mistake, their goal is destroying America that thrived until government became “an impediment” to unrestrained corporate power and wealth. The greatest tragedy is the repugicans are proudly unapologetic for their destructive agenda and they have convinced many, many Americans that until government, and the people, are “out of the way,” they will kill jobs, slash spending, eliminate safety nets, and eviscerate regulations to accomplish what no foreign power could ever hope to achieve; destroy America.

Twenty Dead Children Are Not Enough to Keep repugicans from Filibustering

What else will it take?
Thursday the Senate votes to begin debate on gun safety legislation. Wednesday, the Senate proposed a bipartisan agreement that is a good first step in addressing background checks that was a win for the President’s gun safety agenda.
However, repugicans are threatening to filibuster gun debates. If 20 dead schoolchildren can’t be enough to make the argument that perhaps we need stronger gun laws and fewer guns on the streets, then it really is pretty difficult to imagine what it will take.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden accused the 13 senators who are threatening to filbuster even a mere discussion of the proposed changes of being in a ‘time warp.’ He said they don’t recognize how much the times have changed around them even in the past few years – and it is the more than 90 percent of the American people who approve of stronger background checks that are paying the price for this insanity. They and the folks who continue to get gunned down virtually each and every day are paying the price. I think it’s safe to say they pay a significantly higher price than the rest of us.
But here’s the thing; I don’t think those 13 senators are stuck in a time warp at all. I think they can read a calendar just fine. The fact is they don’t believe they answer to the rest of us. If their constituents don’t force them to see otherwise then they are absolutely right. Because right now it’s not about the voters, it’s about the money and the power.
The fact that polls show the vast majority of Americans want stronger gun laws means absolutely nothing to them.  That is if those polls aren’t affecting their cash reserves or their chances at being re-elected. And judging by the way they are acting it would seem that either their ground troops are feeding them false information about the safety of their seats or they have reason to believe that their individual futures are in good hands – for them. They may have sold their souls to the devil, but for them it’s just business.
As for those 20 dead children, well, they’re already dead. And besides, they were too young to vote anyway.
To these assholes Newtown was 'No Big Deal'

Ted Nugent Threatens Violence and Launches A Racist Attack Against the President

Representing the NRA and Senate Republican Opposition to Background Checks
Representing the NRA and Senate repugican Opposition to Background Checks
Nearly every organization has a person that stands, speaks for, or acts on behalf of the group either though delegated authority or as a popular spokesman if they are regarded as an unofficial representative. Ever since the Newtown school massacre in December, the NRA’s representative, Wayne LA Pierre, has been the official spokesman for the organization and claims to represent millions and millions of truly patriotic Americans who believe that unrestricted access to any firearm defines what it means to be an American. The NRA has another spokesman representing gun-zealots that serves on the NRA Board of Directors and represents the maniacal wing of gun owners and typifies repugican Senators threatening to block any debate and discussion of gun safety measures; particularly background checks.
Ted Nugent, washed-up never-was rocker, pedophile, and draft dodger spoke out again on Monday on behalf of gun fanatics during an interview on NRA News where host Cam Edwards explained that President Obama’s proposal for universal background checks should be called “the Ban Ted Nugent Act of 2013,” and elicited a typical rant from Nugent. Edwards explained to Nugent that “any time somebody went to your ranch and you loaned them a gun to do some hunting or to do some plinking that would be a five-year felony?” Nugent’s extremist reply revealed that he does not represent all NRA members or gun owners; “that is so indicative of how callous and disconnected some are, because you are talking about arbitrary, punitive, capricious draconian felonies,” and that the federal government was engaging in “freedom-stomping and jack-booted thuggery.” Then Nugent went off the rails and lashed out at President Obama calling him a “Chicago gangster, ACORN rip-off scam-artist-in-chief” who was the real radical and asked “when I kick the door down to the enemy’s camp, would you help me shoot somebody? Just help me clear the room.”
Nugent’s extremism is not representative of all NRA members or gun owners, but he does represent 26% of NRA members who oppose simple, common sense, background checks for gun sales. In fact, 92% of all Americans are in favor of universal background checks, and that includes 89% of repugicans and 74% of NRA members. Still, with an overwhelming majority of Americans supporting checking a prospective gun purchaser’s background before selling them a firearm, a group of senators is standing firm and threatening to filibuster to block a debate on the merits of gun safety proposals aimed at staunching the epidemic of gun violence ravaging America.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a vote for Thursday to overcome the gun advocates’ filibuster and it is possible he will have trouble securing 60 votes to begin a debate. President Obama weighed in on the filibuster threat on Monday in Connecticut and said, “I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people…All of them are common sense. All of them deserve a vote … If our democracy’s working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you’d think this would not be a heavy lift. And yet some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they might use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms.” The NRA’s representatives in the Senate threatening to filibuster are not just preventing votes on gun safety reforms, they intend to prevent the Senate from even debating them under any circumstances.
It is unclear why any sane American would oppose requiring every prospective gun purchaser to undergo a background check, but obviously the NRA’s puppets in the repugican cabal have a stake in unrestricted sales of guns, especially assault rifles better suited for the battlefield than home protection or pheasant hunting. Shortly after the Newtown massacre, in a Central California sporting goods store, a man picked up 15 AR15 assault rifles after submitting to background checks and going through the mandatory waiting period, so even with background checks, Americans will be able to stock their armories in preparation for war and that is only one of the problems background checks will not stop. Regardless, there are still Senators loyal to the gun industry who will filibuster to stop any discussion of expanding the background checks to include the entire nation, and their callousness toward gun violence victims is as reprehensible as Ted Nugent’s appeal for other maniacs to “help me shoot somebody? Just help me clear the room.”
One Senator, repugican James Inhofe, told reporters the President was being unfair by hurting Newtown parents of children slaughtered by a crazed gunman  because gun safety measures have nothing to do with them, or their tragic losses and that President Obama was manipulating them for political purposes. Inhofe is one of 14 senators who pledged to block consideration of the bill, and unsurprisingly earned an A+ rating from the NRA and Gun Owners of America. Another repugican and one of the leaders working to block the gun debate said wingnuts will prevent Obama from rushing legislation through Congress “because he knows that as Americans begin to find out what is in the bill, they will oppose it.”
Three repugicans delivered a letter to Majority Leader Reid on Monday promising to block the Senate from “beginning to consider” gun safety measures because Democrats were attempting to violate the Second Amendment and warned that they were fulfilling a valuable role and cited “history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries” to be in all places at all times. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sent a fear mongering email to gun owners in Kentucky in January warned that Democrats were coming to confiscate their guns and will join wingnuts’ efforts to prevent the measure from being debated.
The repugicans advocating for unrestricted gun sales are not defending Second Amendment rights or an oppressive government; they are protecting gun manufacturers who have made a “killing” off the NRA and maniacs like Ted Nugent and Mitch McConnell’s fear mongering. The “Obama is coming for your guns” mantra began during the campaign for the presidency in 2008, and has been ratcheted up throughout the 2012 campaign, and each time gun and ammunition sales skyrocketed. Even though  most gun owners, NRA members, and repugicans support universal background checks, there is a contingent of gun fanatics who are willing to join maniacs like Nugent and “start shooting somebody” regardless of gun safety measures. Their opposition is not necessarily about guns, the Second Amendment, or government oppression, but about an African American sitting in the Oval Office as evidenced by Nugent’s “Chicago gangster, ACORN rip-off scam-artist-in-chief and freedom-stomping and jack-booted thuggery” comment aimed at the President.
The issue gun fanatics oppose so vehemently simply extends the background check requirement to nearly all gun purchases, strengthens laws against illegal firearms purchases, and modestly boosts aid for school safety, and 92% of Americans agree they are common sense public safety issues and not an assault on the Second Amendment or a prelude mass gun confiscations regardless fear mongering by Ted Nugent, Mitch McConnell, and Wayne La Pierre whose real opposition is to a Black man as President.

Noah’s Flood is proof that climate change isn’t man-made, says repugican cabal

The repugican congressman Joe Barton of Texas (surprise!) weighs in on how climate change is obviously not man-made – just look at all the trouble Noah went through when god made him build that ark:
“I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that climate is changing,” he added. “I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence.”
“I would point out that if you’re a believer in in the bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”
Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed has the video too.
Noah's Ark via Shutterstock

So maybe god is causing the ice caps to melt and the polar bears to drown?  I mean, I guess if you believe in divine creation, and destiny, god planned everything, so he’s responsible for everything.  Though that would tend to negate the whole Adam & Eve story, in which mankind has free will, which often gets it into trouble.  Like with climate change.
Sadly this is one more piece of the repugican war on science, or as we call it, “the legitimate rape of science.”
As we wrote the other day:
Creationism doesn’t pass the smell test of science so the repugican cabal will either destroy science, deny science, or simply redefine science by legislative fiat.
They don’t believe in science.  They don’t believe in education.  They don’t believe in facts.  And anything, and everything, that undercuts their lies – from the media to science – must be destroyed.
And they wonder why young people are leaving the repugican cabal in droves.

Woman faces up to 30 days in jail and $625 fine for breaking plastic spork.

A woman from North Liberty, Iowa, faces up to 30 days in jail and a $625 fine for breaking a plastic spork.

According to a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office criminal complaint, 25-year-old Tera G. Harris was booked at the Johnson County Jail on Sunday evening on theft and trespass charges. Police said Harris was offered – and accepted – an evening meal. Police said after finishing her meal, Harris could be seen on video bending her spork against her tray until the utensil broke.

Harris allegedly told jail staff it broke while she was trying to cut her roast beef. Harris now faces one count of fifth-degree mischief, a simple misdemeanor. Though additional jail time is unlikely, the minimum fine for a simple misdemeanor is $65. Police said the value of a bag of three dozen sporks is $15.99.

Coralville police arrested Harris at Scheels at 5pm Sunday. Police said Scheels staff observed Harris conceal $564.91 worth of merchandise in her shopping cart. Harris attempted to leave the store without paying for the items. Police said Harris admitted to taking the items because she didn’t have enough money to pay for them.

To Fight Hunger, Try Jumping Up and Down

Exercise that involves vertical movements like jumping rope may fight feelings of hunger.

Robotic Coat Hugs You Like a Real Girlfriend

From kissing machines to augmented reality sweethearts, Japan leads the way in simulated relationships. That nation's most recent contribution to the field is a coat that hugs you and says sweet nothings in a female voice:
Called the Raiju Coat (Fulfillment Coat), the machine simulates the feeling when a girlfriend hugs the guy around the waist from behind. Well, at least that’s what these students were trying to achieve with just two robotic pincers and a pre-recorded voice to complete the hugging experience. The jacket has motors attached to its back to operate the “arms”, which are controlled through a computer using a USB connection. The wearer of the jacket has to put on headphones to hear the recorded sound of footsteps running from behind, and a voice then says these pre-recorded sentences “I’m sorry, were you waiting?”; “Watch your back!” (in a cute way); “Guess who?”; and “Blind side!” and then followed by the robotic hug.
The future is going to be awesome!

How cognitive blind-spots compromise security systems

Tanya Khovanova has a fascinating and illuminating story about the blind-spots that can leave security systems vulnerable. She describes a clever one-way function using real-world tools:
Silvio Micali taught me cryptography. To explain one-way functions, he gave the following example of encryption. Alice and Bob procure the same edition of the white pages book for a particular town, say Cambridge. For each letter Alice wants to encrypt, she finds a person in the book whose last name starts with this letter and uses his/her phone number as the encryption of that letter.
To decrypt the message Bob has to read through the whole book to find all the numbers. The decryption will take a lot more time than the encryption. If the book increases in size the time it takes Alice to do the encryption almost doesn’t increase, but the decryption process becomes more and more draining.
This example is very good for teaching one-way functions to non-mathematicians. Unfortunately, the technology changes and the example that Micali taught me fifteen years ago isn’t so cute anymore. Indeed you can do a reverse look-up online of every phone number in the white pages.
Then she explains how a student pointed out her own blind-spot that made the system trivial to defeat:
I still use this example, with an assumption that there is no reverse look-up. I recently taught it to my AMSA students. And one of my 8th graders said, “If I were Bob, I would just call all the phone numbers and ask their last names.”
In the fifteen years since I’ve been using this example, this idea never occurred to me. I am very shy so it would never enter my mind to call a stranger and ask for their last name. My student made me realize that my own personality affected my mathematical inventiveness.
As Bruce Schneier points out, the young student is demonstrating "security mindset," imagining an attack on a security system that works on the weakest flank. One-Way Functions

The ‘Dark side of dark lightning’

“What are the radiation doses to airplane passengers from the intense bursts of gamma-rays that originate from thunderclouds?” Florida Institute of Technology Department of Physics and Space Science faculty members addressed the issue and presented [...]

Astronomical News

Shields up, Captain! There's an unidentified entity ahead! On second thoughts, no need to take evasive action -- this particular space blob is just the glowing remains of a sun-like star, 3,300 light-years away. 
NASA has released a video demonstrating how the asteroid capture mission will unfold -- these are the highlights.
Saturn's rings rain charged water particles down onto the gas giant's atmosphere, causing measurable changes in the planet's ionosphere. 
For the first time, the European Herschel space observatory has spied an old subgiant star sporting a dusty disk of debris -- a feature usually associated with young stars.

A 12,000 Year-old Intact Giant Mammoth Uncovered Near Mexico City

Mexican archaeologists associated with the country’s National Institute of Anthrolopology and History have uncovered the intact skeleton remains of a giant mammoth. The discovery was made near Mexico City in the town of Santa Ana Tlacotenco. The giant mammoth, which is nearly uncovered, is thought to have existed some 10,000-to-14,000 thousand years ago. This mammoth is estimated to have weighted 10 tons and be 17 feet tall. 

The Next World-Changing Supermaterial Is Grown, Not Made

Watch out graphene; something's coming to eat your supermaterial lunch. Nanocellulose is poised to be the kevlar-strength, super-light, greenhouse gas-eating nanomaterial of the future. And the best part? It's made by nothing but algae.

Five Surprising Facts About Orchids

Here are five interesting facts you may not have known about one of the most popular flowers in the world.

The Iceman Could Have Used a Dentist

Three-dimensional scans of the Iceman's teeth show a number of painful conditions related to a Neolithic diet.

Fish Fossil Shows Why Humans Have Two Arms, Legs

An unusual prehistoric fish with fins near its butt has helped to solve the mystery over why most animals, including humans, have paired limbs.

Inside a Dino's Egg

Insight into life in a dinosaur eggArtist's impression of Lufengosaurus embryo

Scientists gain a remarkable insight into the very earliest stage of dinosaur development - their life inside the egg.

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Hot water bottle on a rope helped falcons breed

Two peregrine falcons have laid their first eggs of the year after conservationists used a hot water bottle to melt snow from their nest. The birds have nested on the tower at Derby Cathedral since 2006.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was concerned the amount of snow that fell in March would prevent the falcons breeding in 2013. They used a rope to lower the bottle 50 ft (15m) down the cathedral tower to the nest. The trust runs the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project, which was set up six years ago to monitor the birds.

In 2007 the trust built a wooden platform on the side of the tower to give the birds the space they needed to nest and set up a webcam so people can watch the birds. Ian Layton, community engagement worker, said: "We built the platform on the eastern side of the cathedral to protect the birds from westerly winds. But unfortunately, a lot of the bad weather this year has come in from the east and covered the nest in snow.

"The birds were late to nest this year. We are in touch with falcon projects across the country and most of the other birds had laid their eggs by March." He said the trust had decided to use the hot water bottle after talking to experts. So far, the birds have laid two eggs and the trust is hoping they will lay one more. In the seven years the falcons have nested at the cathedral, they have produced 23 chicks.

Alpacas protect lambs from foxes

Alpacas have been lent to a farmer in Berkshire to help protect newborn lambs from foxes. The animals have been brought in for their guarding instincts and one of them has been spotted apparently helping a newborn to its feet.

Farmer Janet Spiller, from Hurst near Wokingham, asked her friend if she could borrow the alpacas, which appear at country shows and special events.

Ten lambs have now been born and are enjoying their surroundings unharmed. Ms Spiller, who co-owns the sheep, said she had spotted foxes in hedges near her flock.

She added: "We've only got a small flock ... and we knew we had 10 lambs due. We were quite keen to make sure we had 10 live lambs at the end of it. It's been really interesting to watch these alpacas in action.

The 17 Year Cicadas

After living 17 years in the ground, a swarm of cicadas ominously called "Brood II" is set to come topside. And if you live on the Eastern seaboard, you're in for a treat, as billions (that's right) of Magicicada will swarm and mate, and, of course, "sing" loudly at night.
Buy some earplugs so you don't have to say goodbye to a good night's sleep, then read on for some neat 17 year cicada facts, from Dan Mozgai's very cool Cicada Mania website:
They’ll attack land on you if you’re using a power tool or lawn mower. Cicadas think the sounds made by power tools and lawn maintenance equipment are made by cicadas. They get confused and will land on the people using the equipment!
Cicadas have five eyes: Cicadas have two, obvious, large, compound eyes, and three ocelli. Ocelli are three jewel-like eyes situated between the two main, compound eyes of a cicada. We believe ocelli are used to detect light and darkness. Ocelli means little eyes in Latin.
Cicadas pee: Yes cicadas pee, so wear a hat when walking under trees if that sort of thing bothers you. Cicadas drink tree fluids, and then expell the excess fluid they do now need. People call it “honey dew” or “cicada rain”.
There are billions of them: there are literally billions of 17 year cicadas. Why? One theory suggests that the large number of cicadas overwhelms predators, so predators are never able to eat them all and cicadas, and many always survive to mate. This is a survival strategy called “predator satiation”.
Stragglers: Periodical cicadas that emerge in years before they are supposed to emerge are called stragglers.
17 and 13 are prime numbers. Scientist speculate that one reason why these cicadas emerge in 17 or 13 year cycles is because those are prime numbers. The fact that 13 & 17 are relatively large* prime numbers makes it difficult for predators to synchronize with them. (*Relative to the average lifespan of an animal.) Annual cicadas (cicadas that arrive every year) often have wasps specialized to prey on them; periodical cicadas have no such wasp because no wasp could evolve to synch with it.
17 year and 13 year broods co-emerge every 221 years. Cicada Broods usually don’t overlap geographically, and it is very rare when they emerge in the same year. The next time Brood II (the brood emerging in 2013) will co-emerge with another brood will be in 2115 when it co-emerges with Brood XIX. You might need a time machine to see that happen.
Read more over at Dan's website: Here .

Brazilian team finds new porcupine species

A new species of tree-dwelling porcupine has been discovered in Brazil's Northeastern Atlantic Forest, one of the world's most threatened habitats, researchers said.

Animal Pictures