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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Ma and Pa Kettle before Hollywood

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Today in History

1527   German troops begin sacking Rome. Libraries are destroyed, the Pope is captured and thousands are killed.
1529   Babur defeats the Afgan Chiefs in the Battle of Ghagra, India.
1682   King Louis XIV moves his court to Versailles, France.
1856   U.S. Army troops from Fort Tejon and Fort Miller prepare to ride out to protect Keyesville, California, from Yokut Indian attack.
1861   Arkansas becomes the ninth state to secede from the Union.
1862   Henry David Thoreau dies of tuberculosis at age 44.
1864   In the second day of the Battle of Wilderness between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Confederate Gen. James Longstreet is wounded by his own men.
1877   Chief Crazy Horse surrenders to U.S. troops in Nebraska.Crazy Horse brought General Custer to his end.
1937   The dirigible Hindenburg explodes in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
1941   Bob Hope gives his first USO show at California's March Field.
1942   General Jonathan Wainwright surrenders Corregidor to the Japanese.
1944   The Red Army besieges and captures Sevastopol in the Crimea.
1945   Axis Sally makes her final propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.
1954   British runner Roger Banister breaks the four minute mile.
1960   President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960.
1962   The first nuclear warhead is fired from a Polaris submarine.
1994   The Channel Tunnel linking England to France is officially opened.

Non Sequitur


A Column That Only Canadians Will Understand

CanadianDave Bidini has a column in the National Post. I have no idea what he's talking about. Google Translate isn't helping a bit. Do you understand?
For years, I was a keener, but after my short-lived stint as reeve of Dildo, Nfld., in which I stumped for the still-unpopular Gouge and Screw Tax — dinged in the polls and my approval rating going downhill as fast as a runaway toboggan or a bus shagger — I put the kerfuffle behind me and tried to forget the fact that I’d been soundly turfed, even though Joey Smallwood’s buddy had cherry-picked me himself. I got off the chesterfield, threw on my old housecoat and thongs, hucked a forty pounder, half-sack of swish and mickey of goof in a Loblaws bag over my shoulder before leaving my bachelor apartment to head due west past fire halls and hydros and parkades and corner stores in the direction of Dead Rear, Oilberta looking for some kind of joe job — cleaning eavestroughs; stitching hockey sweaters; packing Smarties; anything! — although damned if I knew whether I would find work once I got there.

Forty-Five Uses for Vinegar

Unleash the power of white vinegar―an all-purpose cleaner, brightener, herbicide and more. Just a bit of this multitasker, straight up or mixed with water, can replace many pricier products huddled under your sink. Try these tips to see how vinegar can make your life cheaper and easier.

1. Freshen up the fridge. Clean the shelves and walls with a solution of half water and half vinegar.

2. Brighten coffee cups and teacups. Gently scrub stains with equal parts vinegar and salt (or baking soda).

3. Eliminate odors. Swab plastic containers with a cloth dampened with vinegar.

4. Kill bathroom germs. Spray full-strength vinegar around the sink and tub. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

5. Save a garment. To remove light scorch marks on fabrics, rub gently with vinegar. Wipe with a clean cloth. This technique also works on antiperspirant stains.

6. Tidy up a toilet. Pour a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar into the bowl. Let sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with a toilet brush and flush.

7. Lose the carpet stain. Make a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and ¼ cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the stain and let dry. Vacuum the residue the next day. (Always test an out-of-sight part of the carpet first.)

8. Renew paint brushes. To remove old paint, place brushes in a pot with vinegar. Soak for an hour, then turn on the stove and bring the vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

9. Wipe off a dirty faucet. To get rid of lime buildup, make a paste of 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt. Apply to sink fixtures and rub with a cloth.

10. Stop static cling. Add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to your wash cycle. The acid reduces static and keeps dryer lint from sticking to your clothes.

11. Make old socks look new. Get the stains out of old socks and sweaty gym clothes by soaking them in a vinegar solution. Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to a large pot of water, bring to a boil and drop in the stained clothes. Let them soak overnight, and in the morning stained clothes are fresh and bright.

12. Restore handbags and shoes. Wipe white distilled vinegar on scuffed leather bags and shoes. It will restore their shine and help hide the marks.

13. Banish weeds. Pour white distilled vinegar on the weeds growing in the cracks of your walkway and driveway. Saturate the plant so the vinegar reaches the roots.

14. Liven droopy flowers. Don’t throw out cut flowers once they start to wilt. Instead, add two tablespoons of white vinegar and one teaspoon of sugar to a quart of water. Pour the solution into your vase, and the flowers will perk up.

15. Put an end to itching. Dab a cotton ball soaked in white vinegar on mosquito bites and insect stings. It will stop them from itching and help disinfect the area so they heal faster.

16. Whiten your teeth. Brush your teeth once a week with white distilled vinegar. Dip your toothbrush into the vinegar and brush thoroughly. It will help prevent bad breath, too.

17. Make nail polish last longer. Before you apply your favorite polish, wipe your nails with a cotton ball soaked in white distilled vinegar. The clean surface will help your manicure last.

18. Keep car windows frost-free. Prevent windows from frosting over in a storm by coating them with a solution of three parts white distilled vinegar to one part water. The acidity hinders ice, so you won’t have to wake up early to scrape off your car.

19. Let your dog shine. Spray your dog with one cup white distilled vinegar mixed with one quart water. The solution is a cheap alternative to expensive pet-care products, plus the vinegar will help repel pests like fleas and ticks.

20. Battle litter-box odor. Cat litter can leave behind an unwelcome smell. Eliminate it by pouring a half-inch of white distilled vinegar into the empty litter box. Let stand for 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water.

21. Kill bacteria in meat. Marinating in vinegar knocks out bacteria and tenderizes the meat. Create a marinade by adding ¼ cup balsamic vinegar for every 2 pounds of meat to your own blend of herbs and spices. Let the meat sit anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours, depending on how strong you want the flavor, then cook it in the morning without rinsing.

22. Prevent cracked eggs. Prevent eggs from cracking as they hard-boil by adding two tablespoons of white vinegar to the water. The eggs will stay intact, and the shells will peel off more easily when you’re ready to eat them.

23. Steam away a microwave mess. Fill a small bowl with equal parts hot water and vinegar, and place it in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. As the steam fills the microwave, it loosens the mess, making clean up a breeze.

24. Repair DVDs. If you have a worn DVD that skips or freezes, wipe it down with white distilled vinegar applied to a soft cloth. Make sure the DVD is completely dry before reinserting it into the player.

25. Get those last drops. If you can’t get that final bit of mayonnaise or salad dressing out of the jar, dribble in a few drops of vinegar. Put the cap on tightly and shake. The remaining condiments will slide out.

26. Rinse fruits and vegetables. Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to one pint water. Use the mixture to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, then rinse thoroughly. The solution kills more pesticide residue than does pure water.

27. Brighter Easter eggs. Before your kids dye Easter eggs, mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with ½ cup of hot water, then add food coloring. The vinegar keeps the dye bright and prevents the color from streaking.

28. Loosen a rusted screw. Pour vinegar onto the screw, and it will easily unstick.

29. Remove gum. To remove gum from fabric or hair, heat a small bowl of vinegar in the microwave. Pour the warm vinegar over the gum, saturating the area. The gum will dissolve.

30. Keep cheese from molding. Wrap cheese in a vinegar-soaked cloth, then place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

31. Renew a loofah. Soak your loofah in equal parts vinegar and water for 24 hours to dissolve soap residue, then rinse in cold water.

32. Remove wax. If you get melted candle wax on your wood furniture or floors, gently wipe it away with a cloth soaked in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.

33. Take a relaxing bath. Add ½ cup of vinegar to warm bath water for a cheap spa session at home. The vinegar removes dead skin, leaving you feeling soft and smooth.

34. Brighten your hair. Remove hair product buildup by rinsing a tablespoon of vinegar through your hair once a month.

35. Freshen fabrics. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz your home to neutralize odors in fabrics, carpets, shoes or any sprayable surface.

36. Erase crayon. If your kids get crayon marks on the walls or floor, dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and gently scrub. The vinegar breaks down the wax, making for an inexpensive, nontoxic way to clean up after children.

37. Sticky stickers. Don’t scratch at the residue left by stickers or price tags. Instead, apply vinegar to the gunk, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the glue away.

38. Clean the dishwasher and coffee pot. Reduce soap buildup and food residue by pouring a cup of vinegar into your empty dishwasher or coffee pot once a month and letting it run a full cycle.

39. Sanitize pet accidents. You can remove the stain―and smell―of your pet’s accident by mixing ¼ cup vinegar with a quart of water and blotting the mixture onto the mess with a washcloth. Continue dabbing until the spot is gone.

40. Prep for summer grilling. To remove charcoal buildup from your grill, spray white distilled vinegar on balled up aluminum foil and scrub the grate thoroughly.

41. Restore showerhead pressure. If your showerhead gets clogged with mineral deposits, soak it for 15 minutes in a mixture of ½ cup vinegar and 1 quart water.

42. Clean your scissors. When your scissor blades get sticky, wipe them down with a cloth dipped in full-strength white vinegar. Unlike soap and water, vinegar won’t ruin the blades or rust the metal.

43. Unclog drains. For a natural, nontoxic way to clean clogged pipes, pour one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white vinegar, down the drain. Let the products bubble and foam, then flush the pipes with a pot of boiling water.

44. Eliminate dandruff. If your scalp is feeling dry or flaky, vinegar can be a simple at-home remedy. Once a week, pour one cup of apple cider vinegar over your scalp, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cool water.

45. Soften your feet. Summer sandals leaving you with cracked heals and calluses? Soak your feet for 20 minutes a day in one part vinegar to two parts warm water. The vinegar removes dead skin, leaving your feet soft and smooth.

Warren Buffett leads annual meeting like no other

But that's just how the faithful crowd of more than 30,000 who attended Saturday's version likes it.
Getting the chance to learn about business and life from Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett and spend the day with like-minded investors made it worthwhile to brave Saturday's cool, rainy weather in Omaha, Nebraska.
The level of appreciation shareholders have for Buffett becomes clear as he tours the meeting's 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall each year.
Admirers held their cell phones and iPads in the air as they surrounded the billionaire Saturday morning. A pack of security guards created a buffer around Buffett as he visited displays selling Berkshire's See's Candy, explained BNSF railroad's virtues and highlighted some of the company's other 80-plus subsidiaries.
Josh Miller, 11, of Maple Grove, Minn., couldn't see over the throng of people, reporters and cameras that moved through the exhibition floor crowd. But he knew who was at the center.
"Warren! Warren!" he called, holding up his iPad to get a shot of the Oracle of Omaha.
At the See's booth, Buffett got a lesson in making hand-dipped bonbons. Then See's manufacturing manager Steve Powell got Buffett to autograph his white uniform coat.
The Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting began humbly in 1982 with a crowd of 15 in an insurance company cafeteria. It has been growing steadily just as the company's stock price rose to become the most-expensive in the U.S., reaching $162,904 for a Class A share on Friday.
Now the meeting regularly fills Omaha's 18,300-seat arena and every nearby overflow room. Buffett likes to call it "Woodstock for Capitalists."
It's the one day of the year when the 82-year-old Buffett gets treated like a rock star while his friend Bill Gates, who serves on Berkshire's board, can wander through the crowd without much recognition.
Shareholder Larry Cundiff has seen a lot of change at the meetings since he started attending about 15 years ago. He said it's hard to get within 15 feet of Buffett now.
"I met him once at a meeting in — I think — 1997," Cundiff said. "I was sitting at a booth, and he just walked up and sat beside us in the next booth. He autographed a dollar bill for me. I don't think he even had security then."
Buffett again shared the stage this year with his 89-year-old business partner, Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, to answer questions from shareholders, journalists and financial analysts for six hours.
The questions seemed somewhat tougher and more detailed because of the addition of a panel of investment professionals, including Doug Kass, who has a negative view on Berkshire's stock.
But the bulk of the questions explored familiar themes, such as the future of Berkshire after Buffett and Munger are gone. The questioners also wanted to hear what the two men thought about the economy, the Federal Reserve and life in general.
Buffett said he thinks Berkshire will continue to thrive after he's gone because the company's employees and managers will resist any attempt to change the way it runs.
"The key is preserving the culture, and having a successor as CEO who is smart and energetic," Buffett said.
The U.S. economy should continue growing at a steady pace just as it has since the fall of 2009, Buffett said, but the Federal Reserve's efforts to stimulate growth are likely to eventually create inflation.
"We've encountered far worse problems than we face now," Buffett said. "This is not our toughest hour."
Not everyone at the meeting was applauding Buffett. Outside, dozens of Utah coal miners picketed in the hopes of winning a better contract offer. A handful of environmental activists left disappointed after shareholders rejected a proposal to require Berkshire's utilities to adopt goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Bernie Morris, of Price, Utah, stood in the rain to hand out flyers Saturday morning. The 67-year-old said he's worked for the Deer Creek coal mine for 28 years, but fears he won't be able to afford the monthly health insurance premium the company wants to charge.
A spokeswoman for the mine, which is owned by a subsidiary of Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., said the company is committed to a fair solution but won't comment on specific proposals.
But the protesters didn't deter the thousands of people who came to hear Buffett and Munger.
Amaury Fernandez and his best friend Rick Cabrera said they had traveled to the meeting from Miami because Fernandez is interested in investing.
"They are two of the most remarkable men I've ever learned about," Fernandez said. "We don't know how much longer these gentlemen are going to be alive."
Jim Weber, CEO of Berkshire's Brooks Running company, said he has been reading Buffett's annual letters to shareholders since the 1980s — long before Brooks became part of Berkshire. Weber had even attended four Berkshire annual meetings before Brooks was acquired in 2006 along with Russell Athletic.
"If you're in the business world, it's a bucket list item. There's no other annual meeting like it," Weber said.

Corsi Still A Birther, Upset He's Been 'Marginalized And Discredited'

Last month, WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi appeared on a right-wing radio show ("The Tea Party Power Hour") where he lamented that everything he's written about Obama's "eligibility" had no impact on the election. He also says that the birther issue is "politically a dead horse," and whines that he’s been "completely marginalized and discredited."
Of course, the only person Corsi should blame for being "completely marginalized and discredited" is himself. If he didn't promote blatantly false claims, ignore facts that contradicted his anti-Obama agenda, and gleefully report the sleaziest hearsay rumors about Obama's sex life, he might be taken at least somewhat seriously as a reporter instead of being dismissed for what he has demonstrated himself to be: a right-wing hack who despises Obama so much that the truth doesn't matter to him.
Still, he says the historical record will probably demonstrate that Obama was born in Kenya and is an illegitimate president.
Interestingly, WND has yet to report on Corsi's statements. Gee, wonder why...

The truth be told

Thursday, May 2

Kochs Form New Dark Money Group To Hide Political Activities From Public

"Business League" will keep political spending in the shadows.
The wingnut network funded by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers is being revamped after the 2012 elections, starting with a new nonprofit called the "Association for American Innovation" that will act as a hub for funneling undisclosed spending towards the Kochs' political projects.
With ambiguous IRS rules and a deadlocked Congress, they might get away with it.
The role for the group, according to the Huffington Post, is to serve as a financing vehicle for the Koch political network, which includes organizations like Americans for Prosperity. In some respects it appears to be playing a similar role as the Center to Protect Patient Rights, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit run by Koch operative Sean Noble that funneled nearly $55 million to other front groups, which in turn ran ads attacking Democrats in the 2010 elections.
The Association for American Innovation will likely help the Kochs and their allies continue avoiding transparency in political spending.
Association Formed as "Business League," Perhaps to Avoid IRS Scrutiny
The Association is organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the tax code, setting it apart from many of the dark money groups active in the 2010 and 2012 elections, like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS or Americans for Prosperity, which are organized as 501(c)(4) "social welfare" nonprofits.
Section 501(c)(6) is reserved for business leagues like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or trade associations like the pharmaceutical lobby PhRMA; but unlike those groups, there is little evidence the Association exists to advance the interests of any particular trade or industry.
"A (c)(6) is exactly where you'd expect captains of industry to go for political leverage out of the public view, especially if the notorious 501(c)(4) organizations are about to be more heavily scrutinized and regulated by the IRS," attorney Greg Colvin, an expert in nonprofit law, told the Center for Media and Democracy.
"Unlike a (c)(4), the organization would have no pretense of promoting the common good and general welfare of the community," Colvin said. "A 501(c)(6) is not a public interest organization. It can promote the special interests of oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, real estate developers, manufacturers, or free enterprise capitalism generally."
Donors to both 501(c)(6) "trade associations" and 501(c)(4) "social welfare" nonprofits can remain anonymous, providing a potential avenue for publicity-shy funders to spend on elections while keeping their identities secret. Super PACs must disclose all their donors, but nonprofits have no such obligation, unless a donation was specifically earmarked for a political ad.
And the law governing both 501(c)(6) and 501(c)(4) groups are the same: political intervention cannot be their primary purpose. But the IRS rules for what constitutes political intervention are relatively ambiguous and rarely enforced. And this provides an opening for the Kochs and their allies to continue influencing elections from the shadows.
Kochs Exploiting "Vague, Unpredictable, and Unevenly Applied" Laws
Despite these limits on political intervention, several dark money nonprofits last year did little else besides spend on election-related ads. Some nonprofits even told the IRS they would not spend a dollar on political intervention.
There still has not been a public prosecution of a dark money group for violating election or tax law in the 2012 or 2010 elections, an issue that was the subject of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in April.
"The tax rules are vague, unpredictable, and unevenly applied," Colvin testified at the hearing. "Only the most flagrant violations could be knowing, willful, or deliberate and subject to criminal prosecution."
To assess whether an ad or expenditure counts as "political intervention," the IRS uses multi-factor "issue advocacy" rules and a vague "facts and circumstances" approach. This includes enough wiggle room for dark money groups run by the Kochs or others to argue that their ads or organizing drives should count as "education" or "lobbying" rather than electoral advocacy -- preserving their nonprofit status while shielding their spending and funding from public view.
The IRS and Treasury Department could create more bright-line rules but have failed to do so.
Kochs Taking Steps to Thwart Transparency
This ambiguity in the rules governing nonprofits led to an unprecedented level of secret spending in the 2012 elections. And that has inspired calls for transparency from members of both parties, although the GOP as a whole has consistently opposed disclosure legislation. In addition to the DISCLOSE Act, which failed in recent sessions (largely because of Republican opposition), Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have introduced the "Follow the Money Act" to require any group that spends more than $10,000 on an election to disclose the identities of donors who give $1,000 or more.
The Kochs have lobbied against almost every proposal for greater transparency in election spending.
The fate of disclosure legislation remains unclear. But perhaps the Kochs are nonetheless anticipating greater transparency requirements with the creation of the Association for American Innovation: by a donor giving to the Association, and the Association then contributing to a dark money nonprofit like Crossroads GPS that spends on political ads, the original donor's identity is almost certain to remain secret if Crossroads GPS must disclose its donors. GPS would likely only report the Association for American Innovation contribution, allowing the original donor to keep their anonymity.
"So long as huge amounts and proportions of political campaign funds can flow through multi-purpose 501(c) entities, the task of achieving public disclosure will be almost impossible," Colvin told the Senate Subcommittee.
Another complicating issue is that the IRS has never clarified how much political intervention is too much for a nonprofit. It cannot be a "primary purpose," which could mean anywhere between 10 percent and 49 percent of the nonprofit's overall activities. It is also not clear when one nonprofit transferring funds to another counts towards their political intervention limit.
Even if a group like the Association were to specify that its transfer to another Koch group cannot be used for electoral purposes (as defined under vague IRS rules), money is fungible, so the contribution can free up more funds for the recipient's explicitly political activity. And if the Association makes a significant number of contributions to other nonprofits -- which they will likely do -- and argues the transfers do not count as "political intervention," the Association itself could devote more resources to electoral politics without this becoming its "primary purpose."
Take it to the States (but Avoid State Attorney Generals)
Despite entreaties from Colvin and other experts, the IRS has failed to create more clear rules for nonprofits on how political intervention is defined and how much is too much, and Congress has failed to revise the tax code or pass disclosure legislation. This has left the door open to abuse of the tax code by players like the Kochs.
But some states have not been paralyzed by inaction.
In 2012, the Koch-connected Center to Protect Patient Rights was involved in a shell game where $11 million was shuffled between three different groups to influence two California ballot initiatives. But since November, California's elections board has been digging deep into what it calls this "campaign money laundering" effort, most recently issuing a round of subpoenas to determine who provided the original funds.
Other states are also taking action. Montana and its state courts have successfully enforced disclosure laws against a dark money group that had tried keeping its donors secret. Bipartisan legislation in Wisconsin would require greater transparency for "issue ads" that run near an election. And New York's Attorney General issued new rules to require donor disclosure by dark money groups that spend more than $10,000 in an election.
And here arises another advantage to organizing the Association for American Innovation as a (c)(6): unlike (c)(4)s, they largely will not fall under the jurisdiction of state attorney generals.

There may be millions more poor people in the US than you think

By Erin McClam
How one poor neighborhood in Chicago looked in 1963, the year the federal poverty line was determined. 

It is responsible for an estimated half-trillion dollars in federal spending every year, is hated by nearly everyone who studies it and is based on an American lifestyle older than the space program.
Yet the figure known as the “poverty line” is almost certainly here to stay. That’s partly because a more accurate measure of who is poor could add millions of Americans to the rolls — something few lawmakers want to have happen on their watch.
“People (are) talking about eliminating poverty in this country,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., whose proposal to change the measure died in Congress five years ago. “You’re not going to eliminate poverty in this country with the definition we have. You can make yourself feel good, but you’re not going to eliminate poverty.”
The poverty line was conceived by a civil servant named Mollie Orshansky who worked for the Social Security Administration and was herself the daughter of poor Ukrainian immigrants. She totaled up the cost of the cheapest three-meals-a-day plan that the federal government considered nutritionally adequate in 1963.
A decade earlier, the Eisenhower administration had calculated that the typical family spent a third of its money on food. So Orshansky multiplied by three. It was that simple. The poverty line was born.
The problem, as social scientists and at least some legislators see it, is that measuring poverty that way is not just outdated but simplistic:
  • The federal poverty line — $11,945 in cash income for a single adult, $23,283 for a couple with two kids — is the same whether you are poor in New York, the most expensive city in the United States, or poor in a small town in Nebraska.
  • It is the same whether you take transit to work or are hostage to the whims of gas prices. It is the same whether Medicaid helps you with medical expenses or you pay out of pocket. It is the same whether you receive food stamps or pay for child care.
  • It is the same regardless of how poor you are. For the purposes of some federal benefits, someone making a dollar below the poverty line is treated the same is someone making virtually nothing.
“There are better ways to measure,” said Robert Haveman, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Wisconsin and an expert on poverty. “Nearly any one of them is a better indicator of true poverty than the one we use.”
The federal measure is linked to about half a trillion dollars in federal spending every year, according to a paper published last year by two professors, Bruce D. Meyer of the University of Chicago and James X. Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame, in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Among them: Food stamps, anti-poverty block grants for cities, heating and air-conditioning aid, AIDS drug subsidies, family planning services, Head Start and job-finding assistance.
The Census Bureau, which is responsible for updating the poverty line every year to account for inflation, makes no secret of its flaws as a way to determine who qualifies as poor.
Two years ago, the bureau and the Labor Department agreed on a different way — a poverty line that accounts for medical expenses, geographic differences, the cost of shelter and clothing and other factors.
Mollie Orshansky, the civil servant who developed the poverty line, pictured in 1967. 
She died in 2006.
It’s called the Supplemental Poverty Measure. But it exists only for federal number-crunchers. It has no teeth.
Look into the numbers and it’s easy to see why: Using the existing poverty line, there are 45.8 million poor people in the United States, or about 15 percent of the population. Using the supplemental measure, there are 2.6 million more.
West Virginia’s poverty rate would fall about four percentage points if the supplemental measure were updated — meaning fewer federal dollars for its people. California’s poverty rate would soar, from 16 percent to 23 percent.
“Some states would get gored, and some states would be happy,” Haveman said. “You get all sorts of political opposition. It’s a gridlock.”
Because of what analysts have called a historical accident, any change to the poverty measure has to come from the Office of Management and Budget, under the president. And no president wants to suddenly have millions more poor people on his watch.
All the other major economic statistics are controlled by federal statistical agencies, which have to review and update them regularly, Rebecca Blank, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Congress in 2008.
“There is no other economic statistic in use today that relies on 1955 data and methods developed in the early 1960s,” she said. Blank is now the acting commerce secretary and declined an interview request through a spokeswoman.
Frustrated by the federal poverty measure, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg adopted his own in 2008. The city took into account the higher local cost of living, among other expenses, and set the line about $8,000 higher for a family of four.
The result was a higher poverty rate — 21 percent in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, compared with 19 percent using the federal line.
But because the New York measure also accounts for help for the poor, like tax credits and food stamps, it also led the city to conclude that Bush administration tax cuts and the Obama stimulus package had helped keep poverty from going even higher.
McDermott, the Washington congressman, introduced a similar nationwide bill in 2008. It would have taken into account modern costs of living and benefits for the poor. It never came up for a vote.
“One can only speculate about why,” he said in an interview. “Except the fact that you’re much more likely to find a lot of people poor.”

The truth hurts

Sunday, May 5

Me, Me, Me

People Who Overuse The First-Person Singular Are More Depressed v 
Have you ever taken stock of the personal pronounce you use in everyday conversation? A german study found that those who use the first-person singular more often tend to have more personal problems and are more likely to be depressed.
In the study, 103 women and 15 men completed 60- to 90-minute psychotherapeutic interviews about their relationships, their past, and their self-perception. (99 of the subjects were patients at a psychotherapy clinic who had problems ranging from eating disorders to anxiety.) They also filled out questionnaires about depression and their interpersonal behavior.

Then, researchers led by Johannes Zimmerman of Germany's University of Kassel counted the number of first-person singular (I, me) and first-person plural (we, us) pronouns used in each interview. Subjects who said more first-personal singular words scored higher on measures of depression. They also were more likely to show problematic interpersonal behaviors such as attention seeking, inappropriate self-disclosure, and an inability to spend time alone.
Anyone who has dealt with self-obsessed teenagers will say, "Duh." And the report doesn't mention those who use predominantly third person pronouns; the contrast was with the prevalence of first person plurals, like "we" or "us." Of course, this study doesn't mean that the language causes depression -the word frequency could be a symptom of underlying mental conditions. More

Defense Distributed claims working 3D printed handgun

Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson claims he has attained his stated goal of 3D printing a working handgun. There's no footage of it firing yet, nor details on how many rounds it fires before the plastic is worn out. And although this is a fascinating provocation, it is not (yet) a game-changer, especially in America where traditional guns (capable of firing thousands of rounds without melting down) are cheap and easy to get. You can even "3D print" a gun by asking different CNC shops to cut and overnight you all the parts to make up a working gun, breaking the job down into small pieces that are unlikely to arouse suspicion.
All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.
Technically, Defense Distributed’s gun has one other non-printed component: the group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.

Real-Life Homes From Film And TV

Have you ever left the cinema wishing for that little bit extra? Well, some film and TV buffs really take their passion to the next level and bring the magic of the movies home with them.

From Peter Jacksons epic tale The Hobbit to cartoon classics like The Flintstones, here's a look at properties from around the world that were inspired by film, TV and cartoon classics.

Fresco from 1494 Has the First Known Depiction of Native Americans in European Art

In 1494, two years after Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, the Italian painter Pinturicchio composed a fresco in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. While cleaning it, an art restorer discovered what appears to be an image of Native Americans:
The discovery was unveiled by Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, in L'Osservatore Romano, the city state's daily newspaper.
Prof Paolucci suggests that the "nude men, who are decorated with feathers and seem to be dancing," were inspired by the descriptions of tribesmen that Columbus brought back from his travels.
Columbus's voyages across the Atlantic were commissioned by Spain, but Prof Paolucci said the Vatican would inevitably have heard of his discoveries, particularly given that the Pope at the time, Alexander VI, the notorious Rodrigo Borgia, was Spanish.

The Photography Of Lewis Hine

Helping To End Oppressive Child Labor In The US
The 1900 United States Census showed the population of America growing by over 20% since the previous census ten years before. Good news for a still expanding, young country. Yet there was another astonishing figure which appalled many. One in six children aged between five and ten were recorded as being in gainful employment.

Lewis Hine (1874 - 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.

The 10 Most Iconic Photos In US Student Protest History

College students are often considered one of the most politically active sections of the population. Whether the issue is war, desegregation, gay rights or freedom of speech, throughout history students have rallied and protested, to make their stances known and their voices heard.

Demonstrations and protests can lead to important changes for educational institutions, and for the country as a whole. Some also point out that the leaders of tomorrow are shaped by their experiences as young people - and in college, this might well involve activism and protest. Here are 10 powerful photos that captured iconic moments in American student protest history.

A 12-year-old calls out cop for illegal parking, cop refuses to provide badge number

In this short video, a young man who identifies himself as a 12-year-old named Jeremy approaches a Las Vegas Metro motorcycle cop who has illegally parked his motorcycle on a sidewalk, apparently in order to get a soft drink. The young man politely asks the cop if he had any emergency reason to park, and then requests his badge number. The cop refuses to answer either question, and asks Jeremy if he is a lawyer. Jeremy avows again that he is a 12-year-old, and reiterates his request for a badge number. The cop continues to refuse, and eventually drives off. Perhaps the officer can be identified through this footage and reported to a superior who can work with him to correct his misunderstandings about his relationship to the law and his obligations to the public.

Woman Arrested For DUI was Celebrating End of Previous DUI

Woman Gets DUI While Celebrating End of Previous DUI

Erin James, who was arrested Friday for driving under the influence, told police she had been drinking to celebrate the fact that she was getting her driver’s license back after a previous DUI arrest, police said.

An Illinois woman who was arrested Friday for driving under the influence told police she had been drinking to celebrate the fact that she was getting her driver’s license back after a previous DUI arrest, police said.
A Riverside, Ill. Police officer observed the driver, Erin James, speeding around 2:10 a.m., a press release from Riverside Police said. After stopping James, the officer noticed she might have been under the influence of alcohol.
The 58-year-old driver failed multiple sobriety tests and was placed into custody, the release said.
At the Riverside Police Department, James provided a breath sample, which showed an alcohol content of .155, nearly double the legal limit of .08, police said.
While being processed on the DUI charge, James told the officer the reason she was drinking was to celebrate the fact that was would be getting her license back from a DUI arrest in 2012, according to police.
“Ms. James purposely drove a car that she did not own to avoid the ignition lock device and was driving back from a Forest Park bar where she was celebrating that fact that she would finally have her driving privileges back after her 2012 conviction for DUI,” Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said in a statement. “Ms. James is exactly the type of motorist I want kept off the road permanently under a new proposed habitual DUI law that I will be proposing in the very near future.”
Weitzel will propose James loses her driving privileges for 10 years, that her vehicle be confiscated and a that she serves a mandatory seven-year sentence upon conviction of repeat offenders, the release said.
James was expected to appear in court for a bond hearing Saturday morning.

Awkwardly-walking man with needles between his cheeks arrested for drug possession

A Florida man who was walking awkwardly told deputies he "may have some needles between his cheeks," according to a recently released arrest affidavit. Kamon Holobaugh, 24, also told Port St. Lucie County sheriff's investigators he "believed" pills were in his anus. In the end, Holobaugh was jailed on drug-related charges after the April 23 incidents that happened about 3am in Fort Pierce.

A sheriff's sergeant spoke with Holobaugh, who was driving a Ford Escape, after the Escape's high beams flashed the sergeant. Holobaugh, who had stopped was sweating, looked nervous and had his pants unzipped. The sergeant noted Holobaugh, who said he flashed the high beams on accident, appeared to be acting suspiciously.

Holobaugh let investigators search his vehicle, and as he got out several pills fell to the ground. A deputy noticed Holobaugh walked awkwardly, which Holobaugh attributed to a past injury. Investigators turned up several morphine pills. "Kamon stated he 'may have some needles between his cheeks,'" the affidavit states. "Upon searching that area I located a bag of unused needles." Holobaugh also said he "believed there was more pills in his anus."

He said he wished to extricate those to avoid additional charges at the jail. "After moving around for a little bit, a small clear plastic baggy was found near his feet," the affidavit states. Additional pills were in the bag. Another needle and a Q-tip were in one of Holobaugh's pants pockets. Holobaugh, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested on charges including possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and drug equipment possession and or use.

Pilots suspended for handing over control to air-hostesses who accidentally turned off auto-pilot

Two Air India pilots put the lives of 166 passengers on a Bangkok-Delhi flight in danger by taking a 40-minute break from the cockpit and getting two stewardesses to operate the plane in their absence. Their stunt almost ended in disaster after one of the stewardesses accidentally turned off the auto-pilot, forcing the pilots to rush back to their seats. The incident took place 33,000 feet in the air on Air India flight AI 133 (an Airbus 321) from Bangkok to Delhi on April 12, which took off from Bangkok on schedule, at 8.55am.

Thirty minutes later, First Officer Ravindra Nath excused himself from the cockpit for a bathroom break and got air hostess J Bhatt to occupy his seat in his absence. "According to the guidelines it is a standard procedure to ensure the presence of second person in the cockpit so that if the pilot is not able to operate the aircraft for some reason, the other crew member in the cockpit can immediately call for the other pilot. But what actually happened after this made a mockery of air safety," said a a source in Air India, who did not wish to be named.

Minutes after his co-pilot left the cockpit, Captain B K Soni called another stewardess, Kanika Kala, and asked her to take his seat. Captain Soni did not leave the cockpit immediately; instead, he spent a few minutes teaching the two stewardesses how to operate the aircraft. He left the cockpit after putting the plane on auto-pilot, leaving the stewardesses to operate the flight by themselves for the next 40 minutes while he and his co-pilot took a nap in business class. Putting an aircraft on auto-pilot does not exempt pilots from remaining in the cockpit; their presence is required to monitor the flight's status and turn off auto-pilot if required.

This was illustrated perfectly when Captain Soni and First Officer Nath were forced to rush back to their seats after one of the stewardesses accidentally switched off the auto-pilot, endangering the lives of everyone on board. "A senior cabin crew member witnessed the entire drama unfold and brought the matter to the notice of the airline's management. All four were derostered and later suspended for this violation," added the Air India source. Director General Arun Mishra of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), confirmed that all four employees had been suspended. "Following a safety violation, the airline has already suspended the people in question. We are conducting a inquiry into the matter," Mishra said.

NASA Wants Your Haiku

NASA's MAVEN mission to Mars will carry a piece of Earth with it, in the form of submitted names and a little poetry, too.
The DVD will be in NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in November. The DVD is part of the mission's Going to Mars Campaign coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).

The DVD will carry every name submitted. The public also is encouraged to submit a message in the form of a three-line poem, or haiku. However, only three haikus will be selected. The deadline for all submissions is July 1. An online public vote to determine the top three messages to be placed on the DVD will begin July 15.

"The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission," said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

First Tunguska Meteorite Fragments Discovered

The Tunguska event was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Russia on June 30, 1908. The most mysterious aspect of this explosion is that it left no crater and scientists have long argued over what could have caused it. The generally accepted theory is that the explosion was the result of a meteorite or comet exploding in the Earth's atmosphere.

Last Thursday, Andrei Zlobin from the Russian Academy of Sciences made the extraordinary announcement that he has found three rocks from the Tunguska region with the telltale characteristics of meteorites. The only strange thing is that Zlobin found the fragments 25 years ago.

Lunar Eclipse Over Hungary

Photographer Tamas Ladanyi took this fantastic composite series of the Full Moon over the springtime landscape of Tihany, Hungary. The small pic above doesn't do it justice, so head on over to APOD for the larger photo:
As it climbed into the clear sky, the Moon just grazed the dark, umbral shadow of planet Earth in the year's first partial lunar eclipse. The partial phase, seen near the top of this frame where the lunar disk is darkened along the upper limb, lasted for less than 27 minutes. Composited from consecutive exposures, the picture presents the scene's range of natural colors and subtle shading apparent to the eye.

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Scene’s autour La Seine
Girls on bikes 

Nobody will ever kill a rhinoceros in Mozambique again

Poachers just got the last ones.
The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.
They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as "the world's greatest animal kingdom" in a treaty signed by the three countries' then presidents in 2002...

Wildlife authorities believe the poachers were able to track the rhinoceroses with the help of game rangers working in the Limpopo National Park, as the Mozambican side of the reserve is known.
A total of 30 rangers are due in court in the coming weeks, charged with collusion in the creatures' deaths, according to the park's administrators.

Conservationists say the poorly-paid rangers were vulnerable to corruption by organised poaching gangs, who target rhinoceroses for their horns which are prized in Asia for their reputed aphrodisiac and cancer-curing properties.

The trade in rhino horn has seen the numbers of rhino killed spiral in recent years. Over the border in Kruger, the South African part of the transfrontier park, 180 have been killed so far this year, out of a national total of 249. Last year, 668 rhino were poached in South Africa, a 50 per cent increase over the previous year. 
Who didn't see this coming?? A quick search finds salaries for game rangers at $60/month.

Man bit dog on nose to save wife from savage attack

Man bit dog on nose to save wife from savage attack

Caren and Laine Henry walked their pet beagle along a road near Laine's father's home in rural Madrid, Iowa on Sunday afternoon. Their dog was on a leash and happily trotting along the trail, leading its owners. "It was a perfect spring day," Caren Henry remembered. Then a 50-pound Labrador retriever mix with a black-and-white coat bounded out of a yard. The dog, named Buddy, ploughed into Caren Henry. It bit into her right thigh and abdomen, puncturing the skin in both places. Then the dog went for her face. It bit and scratched at her eyes, breaking her sunglasses. Finally the dog clamped on her nose and tore it off.

Laine Henry rushed to help his wife. He fought the dog, which bit his left arm. "He finally had to bite the dog in its nose, and it let loose," his wife said. The Henrys, who live in Grimes, ended up at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. Caren Henry is beginning a series of reconstructive surgeries that she hopes will restore her nose. The bite on Laine Henry's arm became infected. It was so severe that he had to take leave from his work. The dog that attacked is under quarantine - at the same home from which it escaped and attacked the Henrys. Dallas County does not have a vicious dog ordinance that would require criminal penalties for the dog's owner and potentially lead to the animal being put down.

The Dallas County Sheriff's Office referred the matter to the county's environmental health office. Director Ted Trewin ordered the animal quarantined for six weeks. But after that, it's released back to its owner. The county has no animal control facilities and no place to quarantine or cage a potentially vicious dog. Trewin's investigation found that Des Moines police had impounded the dog in 2012 for attacking another dog. Trewin also dug up a certification that the animal was free of rabies, a relief to the Henrys. "It could have been so much worse," Caren Henry said.

"If I hadn't been wearing my sunglasses, I'm sure I would be missing an eye. If it had gotten ahold of my throat, I'd be dead." Who owns the dog is another mystery. The dog was staying with Marcus Johnson. Johnson told authorities he doesn't own the dog. It belongs to Thomas Goodson, who is homeless in the Des Moines area, Johnson told officials. Johnson occasionally provides food and shelter to the dog, but it doesn't stay with him on a permanent basis, he said. However, Ryan Beattie, an attorney representing the Henrys, said neighbours told him the dog is at the Johnson residence most of the time. Doctors plan to take cartilage from Caren Henry's ear and elsewhere on her body to rebuild her nose. It will take multiple surgeries.

Tiny kitten doused with gas and set on fire is making remarkable recovery

A one-pound kitten was found, burning, at a Philadelphia intersection. A quick-thinking Samaritan took off a coat, and smothered the flames, saving the burning 5-week-old animal’s life. Six days later, the kitten – now named Justin – is getting delicate medical attention, and he’s expected to mostly recover from the second and third-degree burns on his back and head. The tiny kitten is eating and sleeping, and undergoing a regimen of antibiotics, wound dressings, and appetite stimulants at the Crown Veterinary Specialists in Lebanon, said Anne Trinkle, the executive director of Animal Alliance.

“He’s doing remarkably well – but he’s not out of the woods yet,” said Trinkle, of Animal Alliance, a Lambertville-based animal-welfare non-profit, which got the cat the care he needed. Most of Justin’s ears will have to be removed, and badly-burned splotches on his back will remain bald, said Trinkle. The scorched wounds extend from the top of the feline’s head down the length of his back. The scar tissue has to be carefully debrided regularly to allow the skin to continue healing, she said.

An unknown person had doused the kitten with accelerant and applied a flame – before leaving Justin to die, investigators say. “It’s just depravity,” said Trinkle, who said her group handled four animals in the area who were set on fire last year alone. “It’s just random violence – and it’s toward something tiny that can’t fight back.” The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of as much as $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the attack.

Veternarians are describing Justin the kitten as “spunky” and “animated” – when he’s not sleeping off the anesthesia and medications helping him to recover. The medical bills are likely to be steep – in the range of $5,000 to $6,000, Trinkle said. The all-volunteer group is seeking donations to make his full recovery possible. But they’re confident that good-intentioned people bring that to a reality. “He’ll look like a little prize-fighter,” Trinkle said. “But we’re hoping he’s going to have a fantastic life.”

Radioactive goldfish found inside nuclear power plant

An investigation is underway by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a pair of radioactive goldfish were discovered swimming in a lemonade pitcher in the steam tunnel of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio.

The Perry Nuclear Power Plant is located about 40 miles northeast of Cleveland in North Perry, Ohio, and is situated near the coast Lake Erie.

Jennifer Young, a spokeswoman for the plant, said: "Clearly somebody brought the two goldfish into the plant. They did not swim into the plant." Young said investigators are pretty sure these two came in through the front door, probably in a plastic bag in someone's pocket.

The two fish were discovered when crews were taking down scaffolding earlier this week following a maintenance shutdown of the plant. Investigators are now questioning employees and contractors, and are also reviewing video recordings of the tunnel. Young added that the fish were only slightly radioactive. Both fish, however, died on Thursday, but likely due to lack of care and not radiation.

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