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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1403 Henry IV defeats the Percys in the Battle of Shrewsbury in England.
1667 The Peace of Breda ends the Second Anglo-Dutch War and cedes Dutch New Amsterdam to the English.
1711 Russia and Turkey sign the Treaty of Pruth, ending the year-long Russo-Turkish War.
1718 The Treaty of Passarowitz is signed by Austria, Venice and the Ottoman Empire.
1773 Pope Clement XIV abolishes the Jesuit order.
1798 Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Arab Mameluke warriors at the Battle of the Pyramids.
1861 In the first major battle of the Civil War, Confederate forces defeat the Union Army along Bull Run near Manassas Junction, Virginia. The battle becomes known as Manassas by the Confederates, while the Union calls it Bull Run.
1865 Wild Bill Hickok kills gunman Dave Tutt in Springfield, Illinois, in the first formal quick-draw duel.
1873 The James Gang robs a train in Adair, Iowa.
1896 Mary Church Terrell founds the National Association of Colored Women in Washington, D.C.
1906 French Captain Alfred Dreyfus is vindicated of his earlier court-martial for spying for Germany.
1919 The British House of Lords ratifies the Versailles Treaty.
1925 John Scopes is found guilty for teaching evolution in Dayton, Tenn., and is fined $100.
1941 France accepts Japan's demand for military control of Indochina.
1944 U.S. Army and Marine forces land on Guam in the Marianas.
1954 The French sign an armistice with the Viet Minh that ends the war but divides Vietnam into two countries.
1960 Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes the first woman prime minister of Ceylon.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That Papa John's, Applebee's pay huge price for anti-Obamacare politicking

About citizens united and the new normal

About the charade of Darrell Issa

About these 5 differences between Democrats and repugicans

About the 11 myths about the economy that are destroying America

That sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card calls for tolerance towards his bigoted, anti-gay views

About what's on the cover of the rolling stone

North Carolina repugican's Policies Have Left Our Economy Sputtering and Jobless

In Pope we trust
The latest job stats from the Koch Republic of Pope add yet more data to the already massive proof that repugican policies kill jobs.

The repugicans have control over the legislature and the governor’s mansion, thanks to Art Pope.  They’ve been ramming though the tea party agenda on everything from voting rights, and reproductive rights   to economic policies  - often with little or no debate. For example, their tax reform bill was introduced Monday, was passed by both houses and was on the Governor’s desk on Wednesday.  Debate on this bill that reverses 80 years of tax policy in North Carolina got a whopping 25 minutes of debate before initial passage in NC’s Senate. Their first attempt to shut down most of North Carolina’s reproductive health facilities was passed by both houses in a Sharia law bill within 24 hours vetoed, passed again, this time in a bill regulating motorcycles and signed by the Governor within 8 days.
If nothing else, this contradicts the “government is bad” mantra Republicans trot out every time they obstruct laws in D.C.  They seem rather fond of government and can pass laws very quickly when the introduced in the middle of the night, they don’t bother to let critics know about proposed laws until the last minute and limit debate on major laws.
The repugicans insist that their policies provide corporations with an incentive to create jobs. Why are fewer people working in North Carolina? The number of employed people fell by 10,598 last month alone according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the stats, North Carolina’s labor force was comprised of 4,766,300 people in January. Last month, North Carolina’s labor force consisted of  4,709,300 people. During that time frame, repugicans proposed a constitutional amendment aside from the already existing right to work  for less law.  They passed the strictest restrictions on unemployment benefits  in the country, provided corporations with financial incentives  or bribes and reduced corporate taxes  to create jobs in North Carolina.
Earlier this week, the Republican controlled legislature introduced and passed a major restructuring of NC’s tax code  in both Houses within 2 days, with virtually no debate on this major law.
All of these very repugican “pro-business” policies weren’t enough incentive for The House of Raeford  which announced earlier this week that it would close  its Hoke County plant at the end of this month increasing the number of unemployed North Carolinians by 950.  It doesn’t look like corporations based in other parts of the country are looking for a space on North Carolina’s job creation dance card either.
Despite policies that repugicans claim create jobs, North Carolina’s labor force keeps shrinking  and the state has the fifth highest unemployment rate  in the country.  So what are we to make of ever shrinking labor force and stats that suggest a lower unemployment rate?  The one thing that repugicans in North Carolina did accomplish is a lower unemployment rate this year than for the same time last year and an overall downward trend in the unemployment rate over the past several months.
Of course, when combined with the fact that North Carolina’s labor force is shrinking, the reduced unemployment rate doesn’t mean there are fewer unemployed North Carolinians.  It only means that North Carolina’s unemployed are giving up on finding work.  That’s hardly an endorsement of the repugican theory on job creation. Not only do repugican policies in North Carolina mean people will work for less, there is also less work. So again, repugicans where are the jobs?

Students' voting rights targeted in North Carolina

Now that North Carolina repugicans hold all the reins of power in state government for the first time in over a century, they've making up for lost time. Just over the last few months, repugican cabal state policymakers have gutted unemployment benefits, cut funding for struggling public schools, blocked Medicaid expansion, repealed the Racial Justice Act, and crafted TRAP laws intended to close nearly every women's health clinic in the state.
What's next? Voting rights, of course.
Resurrecting one of the legislative session's most contentious issues, Senate repugicans unveiled a new voter ID bill Thursday that would further restrict the forms of photo identification accepted at the polls.
The new measure would require voters to show one of seven types of photo identification issued by the government, such as driver's licenses, passports, non-driver IDs and military or veteran cards.
There's a major exception to that list.
Remember, North Carolina repugicans were prepared to scale back their proposed voting restrictions, assuming they'd never be cleared by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act. But now that five U.S. Supreme Court justices have gutted the civil-rights law, the North Carolina repugican cabal is eager to do precisely what they wanted to do in the first place.
Of particular interest to state repugicans is curbing the youth vote. My colleague Laura Conaway has reported extensively on Ohio repugicans' efforts to approve a voter-ID system that prohibits the use of student IDs -- an effort that proved to be so indefensible that repugican cabal policymakers in the Buckeye State eventually backed off.
North Carolina appears to be picking up where Ohio left off.
As The Nation's Ari Berman reported, the latest version of the pending voting restrictions prohibits the use of student IDs as a recognized form of identification.
Why? According to state Sen. Tom Apodaca (r), the bill's chief sponsor, college IDs "could be manipulated." Does Apodaca have any evidence of anyone, anywhere ever using a manipulated student ID to commit voter fraud? No, but he and his party are pushing this line anyway.
Berman added:
According to the state's own numbers, 316,000 registered voters don't have state-issued ID; 34 percent are African-American and 55 percent are registered Democrats. Of the 138,000 voters without ID who cast a ballot in the 2012 election, 36 percent were African-American and 59 registered percent Democrats. The new draft of the bill does not allow student IDs for voting, making it among the most restrictive laws in the country. [...]
The actions of the North Carolina legislature are a case study for why Congress needs to revitalize Sections 4 and 5 of the VRA and strengthen other parts of the law.
One wonders if Congress is paying attention.
Incidentally note that since 2000, there are exactly two incidents involving voter impersonation in North Carolina, out of several million votes cast. We're not talking about two percent; we're talking about two individual people.
The repugican policymakers in the state are eager to solve a problem that doesn't exist, apparently because they hope voting restrictions will help the repugican cabal win elections.

Yeah, Right


Dead People Aren't Voting

From The Political Carnival
For years, South Carolina repugicans have complained about the names of dead voters being used to cast ballots in a broad voter fraud scheme. Now that a recent report by the State Law Enforcement Division has blown up those claims, unable to find a single example of a "zombie voter" committing fraud, one Democrat is demanding that Gov. Nikki Haley (r) apologize for her party's "bogus" crusade.

"And once again, South Carolina's taxpayers have to foot the bill for the millions of dollars unnecessarily spent as a result of Governor Haley and her colleagues' incompetence and blind-ideology."

Rutherford went on to call for Haley and repugicans to "acknowledge that they were being dishonest about voter fraud" and to "apologize to the public."

It'll be like waiting for hell to freeze over

Because, you see, repugican lies don't need to be true - the lies feed into the fear, hate and frenzy of the crazy-ass wingnuts who jump every time they see their shadow. A confession or retraction from the Governor would simply fall on deaf ears to people who do not want the truth - and meanwhile the repugicans will continue to lie.

We need a law like Canada's where it is illegal to tell a lie on television.

The truth hurts


The repugicans Hate Education

From the "More repugican shenanigans" Department:

Sequester's Head Start cuts slam families and communities

Because much of the Head Start harm caused by sequestration lies in what won't happen (a child who could have been enrolled, money spent on day care that could have been spent elsewhere, etc.), assessing the overall damage is a difficult task. But one place to start is by observing local news coverage, which provides a daily drip of depressing developments.

In a two-week period this June, it was announced that Head Start was eliminating staff positions and student spots in Cincinnati, Hannibal, Mo., Hennepin County, Minn., Cullman County, Ala., Cicero, N.Y., and elsewhere.

Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association, said that her group anticipates 65,000 fewer slots for children and 11,500 Head Start jobs being lost nationally. The impact on the Head Start community, she said, has been demoralizing, so much so that the association has begun running a mental health webinar to help with depression among Head Start staff.

Republicans are opposed to educated masses.

TSA screening about to get a lot worse

The major check against the unreasonable, horrible practices on the part of the TSA is that people who fly are wealthier, on average than people who don't -- and people who fly a lot are wealthier still. That meant that the worst stuff the TSA did was felt disproportionately by people who had a lot of political juice -- people who get listened to. Increasingly, though, rich people can opt out of the worst of TSA treatment by buying voluntary background checks and bypassing the rigmarole of the plebs. Now, the TSA is expanding its Pre-Check program, ensuring that pretty much everyone with any political clout will be spared the worst of it, letting the TSA's treatment for aviation's 99 percent spiral steadily downward, moving from mere Security Theater to Security Grand Guignol.

Court rules journalists can’t keep their sources secret

Reuters / Russell Boyce 
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that New York Times journalist James Risen must testify in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency officer accused of leaking classified national defense information to the media.
A lower court ruled previously that Risen could protect the source responsible for sharing intelligence about a CIA operation discussed in his writing, but the US Court of Appeals from the Fourth Circuit reversed that decision Friday morning with a 2-1 vote.
The reporter must appear and give testimony just as every other citizen must. We are not at liberty to conclude otherwise,” Chief Judge William Traxler Jr. wrote for the majority opinion.
The appeal panel’s decision came just days after United States Attorney General Eric Holder presented President Barack Obama with a proposal that would re-shape current law as it applies to journalists in order to more greatly ensure that reporters aren’t targeted during investigations unless other routes that exhausted first. That maneuver came on the heels of two highly public recent Justice Department scandals in which the White House was revealed to have subpoenaed the phones records for several Associated Press offices and also the email history of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
"Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law," Obama said during a May 23 address after those scandals first surfaced.
With Friday’s ruling, the appeals court weighed whether or not an established precedent would prevent Risen from being asked to disclose the source of his information, but Traxler said, “so long as the subpoena is issued in good faith and is based on a legitimate need of law enforcement, the government need not make any special showing to obtain evidence of criminal conduct from a reporter in a criminal proceeding.”
Next Risen will be expected to testify in the Espionage Act-case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official accused of disclosing details about a Clinton administration plan to put faulty nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran in an effort to slow down their race to acquiring a nuke. He previously said he’d refuse to speak of his source, however, which would now open up the possibility of being held in contempt of court.
Sterling is one of seven persons accused by President Barack Obama of spying under the Espionage Act, a World War One-era legislation that has previously been used only three times before this administration began targeting leakers.
Judge Roger Gregory, the only justice to vote in the minority, said compelling Risen to testify was a “sad” decision that posed a serious threat to investigative journalism, the Times reported.
Under the majority’s articulation of the reporter’s privilege, or lack thereof, absent a showing of bad faith by the government, a reporter can always be compelled against her will to reveal her confidential sources in a criminal trial,” Gregory wrote. “The majority exalts the interests of the government while unduly trampling those of the press, and in doing so, severely impinges on the press and the free flow of information in our society.”
Judge Traxler disagreed, however, and along with Judge Roger Gregory wrote that even the US Constitution can’t keep Risen from being asked to take the witness stand.
There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify by the prosecution or the defense in criminal proceedings about criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in, absent a showing of bad faith, harassment, or other such non-legitimate motive, even though the reporter promised confidentiality to his source,” Traxler wrote.
Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Times he viewed the verdict as “disappointing,” and even suggested it was a step-backwards only so few days after Holder’s alleged effort to ensure the privacy of sources and reporters.

Daily Comic Relief


Man took revenge on slot machines in axe attack

A man took his revenge on slot machines in an Italian bar after losing 5,000 euros (£4,330). Nure Bregu, 47, marched into the bar armed with an axe and smashed seven machines as other customers dived for cover. He then calmly walked out of the bar, giving a thumbs up towards the one-armed bandits in a sign of victory.

Bregu then calmly waited outside for the police to arrive and arrest him. Witnesses in Bar Madonnina, in the sleepy village of Fontaniva, near Padua, said the father-of-two was a regular on the slot machines and had spent several hours feeding coins into them, complaining and muttering that he had lost 5,000 euros in two weeks. The owner of the bar, who declined to be named, said: "He comes in here all the time to play the machines.

"He's had some wins, but he spends a lot of money. He is a laborer and only works every now and then. He's normally a very quiet man. He just walked in very calmly with an axe and smashed all the machines. There were several customers by them at the time and they were terrified. Luckily no one was hurt, but the machines are all broken. It's going to cost me to replace them and I will be losing customers as when people came in they would always order something from the bar."

Captain Marco Stabile, of the local Carabinieri police, said: "It must have been a very frightening episode for those in the bar, but he was very calm afterwards and arrested immediately by my officers. He said he had lost 5,000 euros on the machines and was so angry he just went home got the axe and decided to vent his frustration on them." Bregu was immediately sent for trial at a local court and jailed for six months for criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon. Italian health officials have reported a rise in slot machine addiction as arcades spring up across the country.

Just having a college savings account can increase chances of a kid going to college

And that's true even if the savings account doesn't have enough money in it to cover a full degree — or even a semester. A study from Washington University in St. Louis has attributed this effect to aspirations. A kid who grows up knowing that their parents and others expect high education — and who grows up thinking about higher ed as an option for them — is more likely to go. That makes sense to me. Anecdotally, my grandparents sold a cow when I was born and put the money into a savings bond college fund. It wasn't much when I turned 18. But it was part of creating a family culture that made college something I planned on doing. The catch to this idea, of course, is the rising cost of college. I was lucky enough to attend school in a time and place (1999, Kansas) where my freshman year only cost me about $2000 a semester.

Amazing Stories of Summer Fruits

Americans' favorite summer fruits have juicy histories.

The Ten Heaviest Helicopters in History

Nothing catches the eye quite like a massive helicopter slicing through the air, heading swiftly on an important mission. But what if said helicopter were carrying a tank or an airplane?

From the illustrious and long-serving Boeing CH-47 Chinook to the hulking, super-powerful Mil Mi-26, many of the following 10 helicopters have played major roles in combat missions as well as civilian assignments around the world.

Random Pictures


Nickolas Muray (American, b. Hungary, 1892-1965) Elizabeth Taylor, ca. 1948, Carbro print, Gift of Mrs. Nickolas Muray, George Eastman House Collection, ©Nickolas Muray Archives
Elizabeth Taylor ca 1948

Twenty Great Insults from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

There are some great lines in this list. Can you identify which books these insults came from?
"If your brains were dynamite there wouldn't be enough to blow your hat off."

"'It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,' he said. 'Have you thought of going into teaching?'"

"To describe the young haremaid's singing voice as akin to a frog trapped beneath a hot stone would have been a great insult to both frog and stone."
The list of twenty such insults are all labeled with their sources at io9.

The Curious Case Of Déjà Vu

Déjà vu is a rare occurrence, but you know it when you feel it. As you walk through a new city for the first time, something familiar clicks in your mind, giving you pause. You've definitely been here before. But you haven't. So what gives?

Well, no one really knows for sure. The origin of déjà vu (French for 'already seen'), a sense of familiarity with something entirely new, remains hidden somewhere deep in our brains. The phenomenon is difficult to study - most people, when they experience déjà vu, aren't hooked up to a bunch of electrodes, with clipboard-toting researchers at the ready.

Is War Inevitable?

Does warfare reside in our brains, or is it a response to more recent developments?

Unearthed Mayan Tablet Reveals Royal Struggle

A large stone monument dating to A.D. 564 tells a tale of a royal struggle for the throne of the ancient Mayan empire.

Astronomical News

Jul 19, 2013 01:15 PM ET // Ian O'Neill
For the first time, astronomers have discovered the "snow line" for a particularly frosty star system 175 light-years away -- but there's no word on the quality of the snow for slaloming.
On Friday, Saturn won't be the only planet that will get photobombed by Earth; the MESSENGER spacecraft will also be taking pictures from the other end of the solar system.
At one time, Mars had a thick, protective atmosphere -- possibly even cushier than Earth’s -- but the bubble of gases mostly dissipated about 4 billion years ago and has never been replenished.



Largest Viruses Ever Revealed

A new claim has been been made on the title of largest virus in the world.

Fossilized Elephant Tusk Found on Seafloor

Archaeologists find a dwarf elephant tusk that's between 100,000 and 200,000 years old.

Meet the best-preserved mammoth in history of paleontology

Yuka died 39,000 years ago, and is so well-preserved that we can tell she was a ginger.

Asian origins of native American dogs confirmed

Once thought to have been extinct, native American dogs are on the contrary thriving, according to a recent study that links these breeds to ancient Asia.
Asian origins of native American dogs confirmed
A recent genetic study has found that the original population of native American dogs has
been almost completely preserved [Credit: Web]
The arrival of Europeans in the Americas has generally been assumed to have led to the extinction of indigenous dog breeds; but a comprehensive genetic study has found that the original population of native American dogs has been almost completely preserved, says Peter Savolainen, a researcher in evolutionary genetics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

In fact, American dog breeds trace their ancestry to ancient Asia, Savolainen says. These native breeds have 30 percent or less modern replacement by European dogs, he says.

"Our results confirm that American dogs are a remaining part of the indigenous American culture, which underscores the importance of preserving these populations," he says.

Savolainen's research group, in cooperation with colleagues in Portugal, compared mitochondrial DNA from Asian and European dogs, ancient American archaeological samples, and American dog breeds, including Chihuahuas, Peruvian hairless dogs and Arctic sled dogs.

They traced the American dogs' ancestry back to East Asian and Siberian dogs, and also found direct relations between ancient American dogs and modern breeds.

"It was especially exciting to find that the Mexican breed, Chihuahua, shared a DNA type uniquely with Mexican pre-Columbian samples," he says. "This gives conclusive evidence for the Mexican ancestry of the Chihuahua."

The team also analysed stray dogs, confirming them generally to be runaway European dogs; but in Mexico and Bolivia they identified populations with high proportions of indigenous ancestry.

Savolainen says that the data also suggests that the Carolina Dog, a stray dog population in the U.S., may have an indigenous American origin.

Savolainen works at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab www.scilifelab.se), a collaboration involving KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, the Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University.

Mule rescued after 27 days without food or drink in daring operation

A mule, stuck in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, northern India, for 27 days without food or drinking water, was rescued in a heroic one-of-a-kind operation on Tuesday. Several efforts from the authorities to rescue the animal had been unsuccessful over the past few weeks. The Army had tried constructing a bridge over the Mandakini river but it was washed away. The Air Force helicopters could not fly low enough to drop food in the terrain.

It took a colossal effort from a civilian pilot, Captain Bhupinder, and his team to pull off a miraculous rescue. Captain Bhupinder, along with Captain Angad, not only flew to the dangerous flyzone in Sonprayag but was able to land his chopper near the river. However, the trickiest part of the operation lay ahead.

Earlier, it was planned that the mule would be airlifted but due to unavailability of sufficient safety equipment, the team moved to Plan B. Vets accompanying the rescue team sedated the mule, tied its legs and then blindfolded it. Captain Bhupinder pushed back all the seats. The animal was then carried inside the helicopter. As the chopper took off, the sedation was key as an underdose could have led to the mule waking up in mid-air, and in panic damaging the aircraft, which may have been fatal.

An overdose, on the other hand, could have led to a cardiac arrest. Fortunately, the nerve-wracking 28-km journey was completed successfully, and the mule, now named "Hope", is recovering in a hospital in Guptkashi. Kamna Pandey, co-opted member, Animal Welfare Board of India, said: "This goes to show what just a few men can do. The authorities should take a lesson. Around 1200 mules are still stuck in Uttarakhand."

Animal Pictures