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

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Dang, Strait!

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Today in History

1588 The Spanish Armada is sighted off the coast of England.
1602 The Duke of Biron is executed in Paris for conspiring with Spain and Savoy against King Henry IV of France.
1603 Bartholomew Gilbert is killed in Virginia by Indians, during a search for the missing Roanoke colonists.
1693 The Army of the Grand Alliance is destroyed by the French at the Battle of Neerwinden.
1830 Liberals led by the Marquis of Lafayette seize Paris in opposition to the king's restrictions on citizens' rights.
1848 A rebellion against British rule is put down in Tipperary, Ireland.
1858 Japan signs a treaty of commerce and friendship with the United States.
1862 Confederates are routed by Union guerrillas at Moore's Mill, Missouri.
1875 Peasants in Bosnia and Herzegovina rebel against the Ottoman army.
1915 U.S. Marines land at Port-au-Prince to protect American interests in Haiti.
1921 Adolf Hitler becomes the president of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis).
1945 After delivering parts of the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian, the U.S.S. Indianapolis is sunk by a Japanese submarine. The survivors are adrift for two days before help arrives.
1981 Prince Charles marries Lady Diana.

Zero tolerance schools and cops: kids are not perps

Bad Cops
When schools adopt "zero tolerance" policies and treat rule infractions as crimes, they often bring in actual police officers to serve as in-house security, and the entire student body become perps-in-waiting. Tim Cushing's litany of police overreach in schools includes a third-grader and a fifth-grader who were subjected to intimidating interrogation by a police officer over the alleged theft of one dollar; arrests for students who participated in a water-balloon fight at the end of the school year; felony charges for putting a joke in the school yearbook; arrests for flatulence; a cop who slammed a 10-year-old's head into a table so hard he got a concussion -- because the student was not at music class; and a diabetic student who was beaten by the school cop for falling asleep in class.
But it ends with a wrongful death suit that you have to read for yourself. Kids aren't perps. Cops don't belong in schools. When you treat a school like a prison with a curriculum, you view every kid's actions through the lens of the criminal code.

Non Sequitur


The repugicans Are Gearing Up To Continue Their Senseless War on America

Lunatic Fringe
The term fight means to attempt to harm or gain power over an adversary by blows or with weapons, and regardless the motivation or reason for fighting, the goal is inflicting enough damage to destroy an enemy. The idea of fighting, or attempting to harm the government is appealing to America’s enemies, and in Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address he extolled the virtues of those who fought “to ensure the survival of America’s government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is likely that most citizens understand Washington is a metonym for the government that, according to Lincoln, is the people and most Americans would not advocate damaging it with blows or weapons. It is doubtless that few Americans expect their government representatives are in their position to harm the government, but that is precisely what repugicans are planning to tell their constituents they will do after returning from their August recess.
Since people are the government, when repugicans say they intend to “fight Washington” they are, in effect, intending to harm the people in keeping with their four-year anti-government and anti-American crusade. The American people pay for the government to function on their behalf including building and maintaining roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals, as well as protecting the people from both foreign and domestic aggressors. Few people could argue that repugicans don’t hate the government (and the people), and with help from  aggressors such as the US Chamber of Commerce, ALEC, and the libertarian Koch brothers they have spent the past four years damaging the institution they were elected to serve. The repugicans did not have to announce they were fighting the government, and they will find allies to help inflict damage on it to neuter its ability to function for the people, but for the first time since the Civil War a segment of the population is being called to action to fight against their own government.
The repugican goal is clear; either Washington concedes to divest its power and transfer it to the wealthy and their corporations, or they will, one way or the other, destroy the government. The repugicans claim they are “Fighting Washington for all Americans,” but anyone with half a brain comprehends they are fighting the people on behalf of corporations and the wealthy. In their playbook, repugicans assert they are fighting to spur economic growth, create jobs, dismantle the Affordable Care Act, kill regulations, and slash spending on domestic programs that help Americans. However, for over four years they have deliberately thwarted economic growth and killed jobs to make room for tax breaks for the wealthy, and they intend to cut spending on domestic programs to create hunger, homelessness, and a cycle of poverty tens-of-millions of Americans will never escape. Apparently, repugicans will not stop fighting the people until they disabuse them of any government they pay for with their hard-earned tax dollars.
Not satisfied with the damage they inflicted on the government, jobs, and people with the sequester, fiscal cliff, and debt ceiling fiasco in 2011, repugicans already laid out their ransom to raise the debt ceiling sometime near the end of October to allow the government to pay the bills repugicans already racked up. House repugicans are demanding the President institute the Paul Ryan budget that privatizes Medicare, cuts Social Security, pillages social safety nets, and gives the wealthy a 14.9% tax cut while raising taxes on the poorest Americans. In the Senate, repugicans intend to block any budget that includes funding for Affordable Care Act, and some imply they intend to hold out for a formal promise from the President that the debt ceiling will not be raised at all regardless it will destroy the full faith and credit of the United States. It is no exaggeration that those repugicans demanding the debt ceiling not be raised intend bankrupting the federal government to put it in the same situation Detroit finds itself. Bankrupting the government will end repugicans’ fight to destroy it so they can hand it to their paymasters on Wall Street, the oil industry, and corporations.
Americans can hardly take any more repugican assaults on government. They have eliminated funding for 47-million Americans’ (mostly children and the elderly) food assistance, cut funding for Meals on Wheels, ended housing assistance to put Americans on the streets, slashed funding for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as vote to eliminate overtime pay to send more Americans into the ranks of poverty. In their drive to keep Americans unemployed repugicans blocked every Democratic jobs bill, any attempt to stop corporations from outsourcing  Americans’ jobs, and to keep the people ignorant cut education spending to the same level as Detroit’s emergency manager. Despite that America’s infrastructure ranks near the bottom of all developed countries, repugicans blocked every one of President Obama’s attempt to put millions of Americans back to work citing government overreach, and are unfazed their sequester cuts are on pace to kill millions more jobs.
What is stunning is that despite repugican obstruction and intransigence created an ineffective Congress with the lowest approval rating in history that even many repugicans condemn, they are going to their constituents to recruit anti-government warriors to assist in their fight against Washington. Americans are beleaguered, hungry, and looking to Washington to do its job and help build an economy that creates jobs and provides them with a sense of security they can avoid falling into poverty, but repugican’s fight against Washington means the people will never be secure and leaves them with little to hope for beyond survival. It is tragic that the damage repugicans have already wreaked on the people is not enough, and it verifies that their goal is a nation of hungry, homeless peasants at the mercy of wealthy plutocrats. The real atrocity though, and a sad commentary, is that they are emboldened and despicable enough to announce their intent to fight the people and are willing to bankrupt the nation to gain power of their adversaries; the American people.

The 8 Most Important Farts Ever (According to the Media)

Odds and Sods
by Felix Clay

Oscar Wilde once said, "The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands." If Wilde were alive today he probably would have said, "Fuck me, is CNN serious?" where "CNN" could be swapped out for any major news organization. And why? Journalism isn't exactly the hallowed institution it once was, if it ever was that institution at all. And to illustrate that point in the most hilarious way I know how, I've written this entire article to draw your attention to news stories that were focused chiefly on farts. Yes, the Fourth Estate occasionally finds time to address issues relating to southern hemisphere yawns in a way that surely makes Joseph Pulitzer sport a majestic ghost boner, as ghosts of journalists are wont to do.

#8. Domestic Ass-ault

Picture Detroit, decaying urban sprawl and home of super rats that have achieved a rudimentary form of communication and barter system with other species. It's a rough town and will stay that way until RoboCop gets built, but God knows when they're going to get around to that.
Police receive a call -- a woman in peril. Neighbors have heard cries for help, a victim yelling "No! Stop!" from within her own home. Another tragic case of domestic violence? Not really. Another tragic case of a boyfriend sitting on his girlfriend and farting.
Police arrived on the scene and immediately took stock of the situation. One man, one woman, no signs of a struggle, fetid funk wafting through the air. It was a fart. Detroit style. This is where you put on your shades and breathe deep on purpose.
Reports of the incident indicate the neighbor who called not only heard the yelling, but heard loud noises preceding the yelling which she assumed to be the sounds of a beating. They were the man's farts. He was farting so loudly it could be heard in another apartment. He farted so loudly it made the local news.
Journalistic Merit: 4 Robust William Randolph Hearst farts out of 5

#7. Science of Fart Ease

What is the easiest way to fart? It's a question that hasn't been asked time and time again by anyone ever. But science looked into it, and the media was hot on their trail because it was warm and vaguely oniony.
Turns out there is a better way to fart and it's not laying down as you might think, all luxurious and supine, vaguely rutting against your drool-encrusted pillow, grunting as you drift in and out of consciousness, not quite sure if you're pleasuring the cast of Sex and the City or not. No, the perfect fart can be crop-dusted simply by standing which allows for more gas to be expelled leaving you drained and satisfied on a basic, gaseous level. Aren't you glad someone looked into this? Aren't you glad I relayed the information to you? I wish there was anything else to this story, like a point, or even the inspiration behind why someone wondered what the most efficient way to cut one is, but here we are, just standing and farting, caught between satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Journalistic Merit: 2 dusty Larry King Farts out of 5

#6. Deadly Fish Farts

An actual accredited university in Canada studied whether or not Pacific and Atlantic salmon could hear the high frequency sounds emitted by whales. If they could, it meant they would know when a predator was approaching and this is probably vaguely interesting to fish and/or whale enthusiasts. What they discovered was that the fish themselves emitted fast, repetitive ticks to communicate with each other. From whence does a fish emit a fast, repetitive tick? Oh, you got it boss, from its fish ass. The fish machine gun little farts at each other as a method of sharing information.
Fish farting as a way of chatting is awesome all by itself, but then they found out the whales can hear the farts and that's how the whales hunt down the fish. So while the fish are farting their little Morse code warnings about an approaching whale, the whale is only approaching because it's hearing all the fart commotion going on. What a bitch Mother Nature can be.
Journalistic Merit: 3 dour Dan Rather Farts out of 5

#5. Fart Stabber

For many people, cracking an air walnut is a source of much embarrassment. No one really wants to be the guy who made the room smell like pastrami and Grandpa's breath. So when it happens, there's a degree of shame for most of us. Unless we actually are Grandpa, in which case it's with a sense of pride you lift one withered cheek to let that stank rocket from the crypt like an accusing finger of ass mist.
Marc Higgins was a man with bean shame. While at a party, after letting loose what must have been a seriously epic subterranean snarl, other partygoers criticized and mocked him for his foul affront. Higgins responded in the way any insane person might, by storming from the party and then returning sometime later to indiscriminately stab people in an effort to teach them a lesson in courtesy.
In total, Higgins stabbed four people, killing one, because they made fun of his farting. He turned himself in stating he didn't mean to do it, he just wanted them to not mock him, and his victims were just the first four people he saw. What an asshole.
Journalistic Merit: 5 mustachioed Geraldo Farts out of 5

#4. Green Livestock Farts

Do you know what GMO stands for? It's "genetically modified organism," and people hate them. They don't know why they hate them, but they do. Many people are convinced that genetically modifying foods will turn us all into three armed mutants. Science says genetically modified foods are pretty much OK but science has no place in the world of people who can yell things louder than science. That said, someone wants to genetically modify cows to fart less.
As you may be aware, cattle and sheep are two really big industries for farmers. And they're also really big sources of greenhouse gases, as both animals are constantly farting and queefing us toward a hotter, more unlivable tomorrow. If cows had their way we'd all be in desert wastelands Mad Max style, wearing old football gear and leather chaps, eating canned dog food because that's all that survives. Fuckin' cows. But science says "hold on there, assholes!" and offers up the technology and know-how to make cattle green. Not literally green, although I bet science could do that too. They made glow-in-the-dark kittens, as I recall, and that shit is totally whack. But basically we're talking about eco-friendly cows.
The plan comes from Australia, where they must know a thing or two about farts, and it seeks to selectively breed cattle, sheep, and goats to reduce fart emissions by 40 percent or so. I'm not sure how you identify the fart gene in livestock to selectively breed it, but I imagine it involves spending a lot of time standing behind various cows and making appropriate notes on the subject while occasionally pausing to wash your face and sigh.
Journalistic Merit: 3 Anderson Cooper squeakers out of 5

#3. Fart Boners

The lights are low. It's late; you're having drinks, sitting close together. You lean in close and, purposefully but slowly, you exhale ever so slowly against her ear, the warmth and force of your breath causing her to shudder just slightly as you whisper, barely audibly, how absolutely sexy she looks right now before you let your lips brush against the bare flesh of her neck. Then you fart and get such a raging boner.
Oh wait, is that not how it works? Well, screw you, because science says that's exactly how it works. Or almost exactly, I may have taken a few liberties with my paraphrasing. Point is, hydrogen sulphide gives boners to rats, and if it gives a rat a boner then I dare you to explain how you're not sporting a boner when you smell rotten eggs and/or tragic egg farts. Yes, science sought to make a Viagra alternative out of fart gas because it relaxes blood vessels and Italian scientists found a way to inject that into wangs to cause boners in rats. So maybe in the future your next hard-on will be as easy as sticking a needle full of fart into your dick. Ladies, get ready for some sexings!
Journalistic Merit: 2 dignified Walter Cronkite Farts out of 5

#2. Fart Battery

You can't assault a peace officer. We don't allow it. Because of the nature of the work police officers do, they're afforded a degree of respect and protection that is somewhat above and beyond that of a regular citizen. And of course we see a lot of videos these days of police officers abusing their authority, but hopefully what we're seeing are the minority of irregular instances that exist among a majority of times when police do their job well and respectfully. All of this, of course, has something or other to do with why you can't fart on a cop.
Jose Cruz failed three field sobriety tests and, as a result, he was taken into custody. As the arresting officer was setting up a breathalyzer test, Cruz scooched closer in his chair, lifted a cheek and proceeded to fog the atmosphere with his foul wind. Worse, he used his hands to waft it towards the officer in a final, insulting gesture. The fart was so egregious that it was described as being "very odorous and created contact of an insulting or provoking nature" and netted Cruz an assault charge. Assault. With his ass. I'd say "ass-ault" but I made that joke earlier in the article. Maybe we'll go with ass-ail this time.
Journalistic Merit: 2 of Wolf's Blitzers out of 5

#1. Nancy Grace Fart Lovers

Nancy Grace fits perfectly into this article, as I've often suspected that if a particularly sour and somewhat viscous fart were ever able to coalesce into human form, it would likely become Grace herself. So it's appropriate then that she has her very own fart story which we should never forget about because I bet it makes her unhappy to have this spread around, and if anyone ever deserved to be unhappy it's a terribly judgmental and destructively irresponsible blowhard like Nancy Grace.
If you remember some years back after Dancing with the Stars officially gave up on even trying to use "stars" and apparently went with the scientific definition being a hot, flaming gas ball, Nancy Grace was a contestant on the show. Here's TMZ's classy reporting on the subject;
This story alone would be funny enough because it's nice when a human troglodyte has to endure such childish humiliation on a national stage, but there's a second chapter to Nancy Grace Fartgate, and it is this -- fart aficionados, which I guess are a thing, wanted that clip. After the show aired, porn websites tried to buy the clip to post online so that people who are neither turned off by Nancy Grace or farting, and in fact may be turned on by both, could wank to the incident. This was reported as actual news in the real world. People wanted to jerk off to Nancy Grace farting. I dare you to forget that. I dare you to live the rest of your life oblivious to what you now know. That somewhere out there was a guy who was all, "Oh, yeah, this is alright!" and he took his pants off and sat in his comfy chair and probably buttered his schlong while watching that clip over and over again until he was finished and then he cleaned up with a tube sock.
Journalistic Merit: 1 greasy Nancy Grace Fart out of 5

"The Most Serious Health Problem in the U.S. Today is Obesity," as Stated 60 Years Ago

In Matters Of Health
"The most serious health problem in the U.S. today is obesity." The all-too-familiar sentence started an article about obesity in America that would fit right at home right now ... except it was actually written 60 years ago.
In 1954, LIFE Magazine featured an article titled "The Plague of Overweight," in which they followed the journey of a woman named Dorothy Bradley who struggled with overeating and body-image issues that many of us can relate to today.
Ben Cosgrove of LIFE wrote in this blog post:
“Some five million Americans,” LIFE wrote [back in 1954], “medically considered ‘obese,’ weigh at least 20% more than normal and, as a result, have a mortality rate one-and-a-half times higher than their neighbors…. Another 20 million Americans are classed by doctors and insurance men as overweight (10% above normal) and are drastically prone to diabetes, gallstones, hernia, kidney and bladder impairments and complications during surgery and pregnancy.”
Today the numbers cited by LIFE have ballooned to even more appalling proportions: according to the CDC, “more than a third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 – 19 years are obese.”
But perhaps the most astonishing and troubling statistic about obesity in the USA relates to the speed with which this affliction has taken hold: for example, in 2010 (again according to the CDC), “there were 12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more.” Feel free to read that again — and try to imagine the toll those millions upon millions of extra pounds will have on the health of those men, women and children, and on the nation’s economy.
Read the rest over at LIFE.

Boycotters Win As Cumulus Media Plans On Dumping Lush Dimbulb and Sean Handjob

News of a positive sort
A Sunday night shocker is making the rounds as Cumulus Media has let it be known that they are planning on dumping Lush dimbulb and Sean Handjob at the end of the year.
Politico reported:
In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Lush Dimbulb and Sean Handjob from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told POLITICO on Sunday.
Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.
The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Dimbulb and Handjob’s shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.
As industry insiders caution, Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to the brink before during contract negotiations only to resume talks. But the source told POLITICO that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution rights to a level that would satisfy Cumulus.
The main reason why Cumulus would even think of dumping Dimbulb and Handjob is that the boycott has made their shows much less profitable. Forty eight of the top 50 advertisers on Cumulus asked that their ads not be played on Dimbulb and Handjob’s shows. Dimbulb and Cumulus have had a running feud over who is to blame for the flood of advertisers that have abandoned the wingnut hate talker. Dimbulb and Handjob denied that they had lost any advertisers, but Dimbulb’s Sandra Fluke comments cost Cumulus millions after a successful and ongoing boycott caused his advertisers to flee.
In reality, this news is all about the success of the Dimbulb advertiser boycott. Without the public pressure, bad publicity, and shame that the boycott brought on to his advertisers, Lush Dimbulb and Cumulus would probably still have a happy marriage.
What’s interesting about this is that Cumulus has also decided to drop Sean Handjob. The Faux News primetime host wasn’t dealing with a radio show advertiser boycott, but Dimbulb’s Sandra Fluke comments were so damaging to the industry that Lush has made controversial wingnut hate radio toxic to mainstream corporate advertisers.
This story could be a negotiating tactic on the part of Cumulus, but they are going to need Dimbulb’s price to come down substantially in order to recover the money that the boycott is still costing them. It is unlikely that Dimbulb will lower his price, so it will probably be goodbye, Cumulus, hello, Clear Channel at the end of the year.
The boycotters did it. They got Dimbulb off of Cumulus, but their work is not done. Dimbulb will land somewhere else, and continue to spread his ugly, racist, and misogynistic speech on a daily basis.
However, the message of the boycott is clear. There are consequences for the words that Lush Dimbulb chose to use when he talked about Sandra Fluke. There are consequences for advertisers who support hate speech talk radio. Most importantly, if they speak loudly enough, and fight hard enough, eventually honorable people will prevail.

Head Lice, Still Three Times More Popular Than Congress

Did you know ...
by Ilyssa Fuchs 
Truth be told, this is really an old story. However, after discussing this issue with friends over brunch, I came to the realization that this story did not get nearly as much publicity as it should have back in January when Public Policy Polling first released the numbers. Moreover, I wanted to address the topic again using the newest polling data on Congress’ approval ratings, which coincidentally was released just a few days ago.
Lots of people like to focus their attention on the shortcomings of the Obama Administration, but less attention is paid to Congress, the branch of government that actually has the power to make laws. This is an unfortunate fact, as aside from the executive power that the President has unilaterally via the Constitution, the fact is the executive branch operates at the directive of Congress. It’s how our system of checks and balances works, or at least how it is supposed to. When Congress is dysfunctional and members of both parties cannot compromise with each other (like we see in both the Senate and the House) and/or the party who holds a majority in Congress or more specifically in the House (in this case repugicans) refuses to compromise with the President, they make it extremely difficult for the President to get anything done.
By way of example, the President vowed to close Guantanamo Bay, but has been hamstrung by Congressional repugicans who attached a poison pill rider to the defense spending bill that ties the President’s hands and prevents him from shutting down the prison.
Image courtesy of Daily Kos 
Getting to the point. Back in January, PPP did a poll where they asked voters whether they had a higher opinion of either Congress or a series of unpleasant or disliked things.
The results were laughable but also extremely sad. According to the PPP press release:
“Voters said they had a higher opinion of root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure), NFL replacement refs (29-56), head lice (19-67), the rock band Nickelback (32-39), colonoscopies (31-58), Washington DC political pundits (34-37), carnies (31-39), traffic jams (34-56), cockroaches (43-45), Donald Trump (42-44), France (37-46), Genghis Khan (37-41), used-car salesmen (32-57), and Brussels sprouts (23-69) than Congress.”
At the time, Congress’ overall approval rating was holding steady at 9%. Today, as of the most recent polling numbers which were released three days ago, the Congressional approval rating increased to a whopping 12%. This means that if the PPP poll was conducted again today, head lice would most likely still be at least three times more popular than Congress — although they might almost be more popular than cockroaches. Think about that for a minute — people would overwhelmingly prefer head lice, root canals and carnies to Congress. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about head lice gives me the skeeves and I’ve never had them. Moreover, as someone who has had a root canal, I can tell you from first hand experience it is less than pleasant.
In closing, it is no secret that the President has been more than willing to reach across the aisle to attempt compromise with Congressional House repugicans on more than one occasion; much to the dismay of many on the left. The real problem with our current government isn’t the President (albeit that doesn’t mean he is perfect or that I agree with him on every issue) it is a Congress that cannot get it’s act together. Many of them would rather yell and scream at each other like whiny toddlers and rub sand in each other’s eyes like they were all at the playground, instead of actually working together and with the President to get something done. Even Democrats in the Senate have attempted to compromise with Senate repugicans on more then one occasion (also to the dismay of many on the left) only to be  mocked by Senate Republicans later through their obstructionist overuse of the filibuster, which they use to block pretty much every piece of legislation proposed. Unfortunately for us, until 2014 comes and we can vote the obstructionists out of Congress or until members of Congress decide to stop rubbing sand in each other’s eyes and get to work, Congress will remain far less popular than head lice. Even worse, little if anything positive will get done for our country.

Eleven Things The North Carolina Legislature Gave Us This Session

Lunatic Fringe 
North Carolinians rejoice. 
The NCGA is done until May 15, 2014.
However, the consequences of what they’ve caused since January will be felt for years to come. This is just a sampling of what we can thank them for.  

1. The start of Moral Mondays.
The start of Moral Mondays.
The Moral Mondays protests started this past spring to show outrage over various issues. From unemployment to abortion to Voting ID. Over 900 people were arrested during the 12 weeks of peaceful demonstration at the state legislative building.
The movement received national attention and helped to get a national conversation going about what was happening in North Carolina.
While a wonderful act of solidarity, it is sad such weekly protests had to happen to begin with.
2. Harsh abortion restrictions hidden in a motorcycle bill.
Harsh abortion restrictions hidden in a motorcycle bill.
Originally the abortion bill, which could potentially close all but one clinic in the state, was put into an Anti-Sharia Law bill during a committee meeting with no public notice. After initial outrage, it was instead added into a bill about motorcycle safety (again without public notice).
While Gov. Pat McCrory promised he would veto any new abortion restrictions while on the campaign trail, he has made it clear he would sign this one into law, breaking his campaign promise.
3. The most restrictive Voter ID laws in the country.
The most restrictive Voter ID laws in the country.
One of the last things the legislature decided to ram through before they adjourned was a draconian Voter ID bill, which would make it extremely difficult for many people in the state to vote.
Included in this bill are requirements for government issued IDs, which do not include school or city government IDs, cutting early voting by a week, banning the pre-registering of 16 and 17-year-olds, ending straight party ticket voting, and same day voter registration just to name a handful of the new restrictions.
This bill is so blatantly obvious as a way to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of North Carolina voters that the Department of Justice will likely file suit against the state.
4. The decimation of public education as North Carolinians know it.
The decimation of public education as North Carolinians know it.
The North Carolina budget has a lot of problems with it, but no group is hit harder than the education community.
In addition to cutting over 9,000 education positions statewide (including over 5,000 teachers) the budget provides no pay increases to teachers. The state, which had ranked 25th in teacher pay in 2008, now ranks 45th and will likely rank dead last without raises. The budget also eliminates the popular (and effective) Teaching Fellows Program, which has been named the “most ambitious teacher recruiting program in the nation.”
If all of this weren’t bad enough, the budget does not allocate any additional pay increases for those who go on and further their education through getting advanced degrees (unless those degrees are a requirement of their job). So a high school teacher who comes out of pocket to get their Masters would not be compensated for it in their salary.
5. The assumption that all those on government assistance are drug addicts.
The assumption that all those on government assistance are drug addicts.
North Carolina followed several other states and passed a bill requiring drug testing those who receive welfare.
Not only is this insulting, as the rate of drug use among those on government assistance has been found to be at the same rates (or sometimes even lower) than then general population, but it is costly. In Florida, which has a similar law, actually lost money from having to test people. Even if a handful of people were found to be on drugs, it would have been cheaper to continue to pay them benefits than to do the drug testing they did.
In addition these bills hurt children. The majority of people who benefit from programs like welfare and SNAP are children, whose parents are the ones getting the benefits. Programs such as these could see the benefits stripped from parents who now can’t put food on the table for their children, or could cause those who have used tested substances to not even bother to apply.
6. The expansion of where you can carry your concealed weapon.
The expansion of where you can carry your concealed weapon.
The legislature passed a measure making it legal for those with concealed permits to carry their guns into bars, playgrounds, and funerals, and to allow them to be locked in their cars on educational campuses.
In addition there will be no limit on the number of permits a person is allowed to have and city and county governments will not be permitted to pass laws restricting where those with concealed carry permits can carry their weapons. You’ll also be able to hunt with a silencer, just in case you thought you were giving your game too much of a chance.
7. The repeal of the Racial Justice Act.
The repeal of the Racial Justice Act.
The NCGA repealed the Racial Justice Act, a historic piece of legislation that allowed those on death row to appeal their sentence based on racial discrimination during their trial. The law was the first of its kind in the country and was hailed as a victory for civil rights. With its passage it also put a moratorium on executions in the state.
The Racial Justice Act was passed after a study at Michigan State University found striking patterns of racial discrimination throughout all aspects of capital cases, from charging to sentencing and jury selection.
8. The end of federal unemployment benefits.
The end of federal unemployment benefits.
In a bold move, and the first of its kind in the country, North Carolina rejected federal unemployment benefits affecting nearly 200,000 of the state’s long term unemployed.
With this new state law benefits for the unemployed run out after 20 weeks and changes the maximum amount of money a person can get from $535 to $350 a huge cut to a state that is struggling with unemployment.
9. A ban on Sharia Law.
A ban on Sharia Law.
This probably would have slipped more under the radar had legislators not originally tacked the abortion restrictions on to it.
Many agree this law is unnecessary, as there are already federal laws banning foreign law if it infringes upon state or U.S. constitutional rights.
There is also vague wording, which could make it harder for some religions to go through divorce proceedings like those in the orthodox Jewish community.
With North Carolina early on trying to establish a state religion, it is easy to see what they’re trying to do with this one.
10. Salary hikes to those in Gov. McCrory’s cabinet.
Salary hikes to those in Gov. McCrory's cabinet.
Teachers in North Carolina won’t see raises for the next two years, but Gov. McCrory decided to give members of his cabinet (which includes a number of prominent campaign donors) a hefty pay increase.
Increases range from 5 to 11 percent, which is far more than anything afforded to state employees in recent years.
When asked about these hikes, McCrory said, “I’m trying to make it at least where they can afford to live while running multibillion-dollar departments,”
11. Turning the state into a national laughing stock.
Turning the state into a national laughing stock.
From The New York Times to The Washington Post to Rachel Maddow and The Atlantic the national media have shined an ugly spotlight on what the state government of North Carolina is doing.
The state, once a beacon of progress in the south, has been turned upside down into a complete and utter embarrassment and has given credence to the stereotypes that have plagued it for years.

The repugican Plan To Shutdown the Government To Defund Obamacare is Already Backfiring

Lunatic Fringe
The big repugican plan to shutdown the government unless Obamacare is defunded is already backfiring and setting up the repugican cabal for complete failure in 2014.
Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg warned repugicans to drop their plan to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government, “Wingnuts on Capitol Hill think they have a chance to strike a mortal blow against President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul this fall. If their plan goes forward, however, it will backfire. The plan is to oppose any bill to fund the government or increase the debt limit that also provides money for putting the health-care law in place. Because repugicans control the House, Democrats can’t continue borrowing or paying for government operations without repugican support. So, wingnuts say, repugicans should insist on defunding Obamacare as the price of that support.”
Ponnuru is also a senior editor at the National Review, who wants Obamacare gone, but he can see the political disaster that the plan to oppose all funding bills unless the ACA is defunded would bring on to the repugican cabal. This move would backfire on Republicans because the public would side with Obama and the Democrats. They would definitely blame the party that has spent nearly every second of the past two years obstructing everything, and the biggest reason of all that this would fail is that wingnuts and repugicans have overestimated the popular appeal of repealing Obamacare.
The repugicans see poll numbers that suggest that the country supports repealing the ACA, and assume that this should be their number one issue. Their problem is that repealing Obamacare isn’t the issue that people care most about. Since the economic collapse of 2008, the issues that has mattered most in every poll where they was asked about have been jobs and the economy.
In a recent National Journal poll, healthcare reform was listed as the third most important issue in the 2014 elections behind the economy and social issues (same sex marriage, abortion, etc.) Only 4% of Democrats said that it was the most important issue, compared to 20% of repugicans. It is clear that the repugican plan to shut down the government or cause a federal default unless Obamacare is defunded is more repugican preaching to the choir.
If repugicans go down this path, it will be a complete and utter disaster for them. They will have shutdown the government over an issue that isn’t a top priority for the American people. It seems like the only people who sit around worrying about Obamacare everyday are House repugicans and Faux News watchers. As long as repugicans keep ignoring the economy, Democrats win.
The rest of the country wants repugicans to work with Obama to improve the economy. The repugicans will not only be blamed for shutting down the government, but they will have shutdown the government and hurt millions of people over an issue that is only a top priority for their base.
This last gasp strategy of shutting down the government to stop the ACA is already dividing repugicans. There are many who are warning their cabal not to do this. Sen. Richard Burr (a repugican) called Sen. Mike Lee’s (r-UT) plan to shutdown the government unless Obamacare is defunded the dumbest idea that he has ever heard for a reason. It is an idea that is completely destined to fail.
The politics of this are bad. The fallout from following through on this would be worse, and it looks like House repugicans have found a new way to cost their cabal the 2014 election.

Koch’s 'Americans For Prosperity' Press Release Attacks Wrong Politician

Lunatic Fringe 
It's kind of sad and pathetic, really 
by Thomas Barr
How low can the almighty Koch brothers and Americans For Prosperity possibly sink in their attempts to brainwash voters? How about completely rewriting political history?
That’s exactly what they tried to do in a Florida press release this week where they attacked Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy, calling him a flip-flopper for voting for Obamacare in 2010 and then voting to delay the Obamacare mandates this year. The press release said in part:
“Rep. Murphy voted for the law back in 2010, yet he reversed himself and voted to delay both the employer mandate (in keeping with President Obama’s decision) and the individual mandate.”
Of course, if they had actually done any research on the topic before rushing their attack out to the world, they would have seen that Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy hadn’t even been elected to Congress yet in 2010 — he was just elected for the first time last year, defeating tea party darling Allen West for the seat.

So how in the world could Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy have somehow magically voted for Obamacare if he hadn’t even been elected to Congress? Ahh, this is where the story gets absolutely delicious. Rep. Patrick Murphy did actually vote for Obamacare in 2010… That would be Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is no longer a member of Congress after losing his seat in the 2010 election. Former Pennsylvania Rep. Murphy has absolutely no relation to current Florida Rep. Murphy.
So here you have the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity not bothering to do any actual research to verify the garbage they’re putting out to the public, accusing current Rep. Patrick Murphy of being a hypocritical flip-flopper based off of a vote that he never participated in, and couldn’t have participated in even if he wanted to, because he hadn’t been elected to Congress yet when it happened.
All this would have required is a ten second Google search to show that the two Rep. Murphy’s are two totally different people. But that’s too difficult for the Kochs and their allies — especially when it comes to the need for quick and impactful propaganda that can be easily spoon-fed to an eager and gullible public. And most especially when it involves evil, Socialist Obamacare.
Politifact ended up contacting Americans For Prosperity to see what the heck they were smoking when coming up with this press release. (As a side note, they gave the statement a “mostly false” rating. “Mostly false,” seriously? AFP literally rewrote history and put a Congressman in office two years before he was ever elected, and that only gets a “mostly false” rating? Give me a damn break! But I digress…)
From their fact-check:
We asked an Americans for Prosperity spokesman if it had mixed up Patrick Murphys.
“Yes, that’s an error, it was a mix-up with Murphy from PA. We sent out a corrected release a couple minutes later,” spokesman Christopher Neefus told PolitiFact Florida in an email July 24.
…In this case, when we looked at AFP’s newsroom page about Florida on July 24, it still contained the press release with the wrong information about Murphy.
Who cares about facts, right?

Obviously the Kochs and Americans For Prosperity don’t, as evidenced by their ridiculous ad against Obamacare, and their sensationalized over-the-top ad against the minimum wage (yes, if you make over $34,000 per year, you’re part of the 1%… of the world!)
This latest embarrassment is just another example proving the fact that the far right couldn’t care less about the truthfulness of what they talk about, as long as it makes an impact. As long as it can be sold with little effort to a tea party base that’s ravenous for more reasons to hate Democrats and President Obama. As long as it fits neatly within the realm of Faux News and dittohead talking points.
Who needs pesky facts when you’re perfectly content climbing Bullshit Mountain?

This is What a Subsidiary Of The Evil Koch Empire Looks Like

Lunatic Fringe
Poverty In America 08262009
In  North Carolina, the closing of  the Pope Puppet show, means a break before the inevitable storm of more of the same policies Pope’s puppets passed in the past six months.
Even people who report on North Carolinian politics regularly acknowledge the dizzying pace by which repugicans rammed ideology driven laws through means it will take a while to figure out just how much damage they’ve done.
The daily events of this session make a Shakespearian Tragedy look like a Midsummer Night’s Dream.
When one looks at each law passed by the Pope repugicans in isolation, it’s easy to dismiss them as bad, but not tragic.  When taken together, North Carolina is a blue print of what a Koch Empire would look like. Saying it isn’t pretty would be an understatement.
The repugicans don’t care if North Carolina’s children can read – let alone compete in a world of technology and science.  The important thing is the understaffed and under resourced public schools will still be open and as Jerry Tillman put it: “the schools won’t close they will operate.”   Well because Jerry Tillman said it, I feel better.
The wet kiss they gave to charter schools  by redistributing funds previously allotted to the public education system means North Carolina’s children will learn important things – like creationism. Corporate owned charter schools don’t need to worry about meeting standards established by the State Board of education because literacy and book larnin are dangerous things.  They produce dangerous liberals.  No, it’s much better for children to understand that intellectual curiosity, science, critical thinking and facts are evil. They’ll be taught that they can pray away the gay, speaking tongues will cure all ailments, and Art Pope is the personification of god.  OK, this is hyperbolic.
The point is education in North Carolina was sold to corporations for whom the priority is to train a compliant work force.  It worked out so well for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  What could possibly go wrong?
The Pope crowd gave a long wet kiss to the NRA with a law that encourages gun owners to provide their concealed weapons with a more fulfilling life as they will be allowed at restaurants, playgrounds and in bars.   Of course, taking a concealed weapon to a playground means nothing unless you can stand your ground  the way George Zimmerman did.  In reality, Art Pope gave Wayne Lapierre two long wet kisses this session.
In the name of manifesting poverty  because hungry peasants can’t fight back,  Pope repugicans introduced and passed a “tax reform”   package that requires people subsisting on an income of $12,000 to subsidize the $10,000 payout  from this law alone  that people earning $1 million per year so desperately need.
The governor aka to Art Pope and his puppets as junior partner was gleeful as he explained what flattening the State’s tax rates would mean for those creatures the right likes to call “job creators
I firmly believe that this reform package will prove to be critically important to growing North Carolina’s economy and getting people back to work. This tax reform package puts more money in families’ budgets and will restore confidence for North Carolina businesses. Because of this package, job creators will think about relocating to our great state.
Less money for people at the bottom of the economic ladder means even less to spend. We know this because it’s been tried before over and over again.  Even under the McBudget’s assumption that people have two full time jobs  and health insurance costs $20 a month, peasants pay for food, heat, childcare and education with love and fresh air.  Well okay, only love since fresh air impedes the job creators. What could go wrong?
Pope’s puppets gave themselves an 8% pay raise  paid  for by cutting unemployment benefits    If you don’t work you don’t eat  and we all know that unemployment is such an attractive lifestyle “choice”.
Obviously, with policies as popular as these Pope’s repugicans can’t rely on persuading voters to elect them.  So they passed a voter suppression bill, designed to remind “you people” who are black or brown, poor and young or old that voting means buying ID that wasn’t needed to vote before.  Hey, if you really care about your vote, you can do without that mythical $20 a month health insurance plan, or stop wasting money on food or ‘lectricity.  Better yet, stay home and leave the important decision making to privileged white men.  In the world according to Pope, that’s the way it should be.
Pay close attention to those informative ads promoting repugicans.  You don’t need to know who paid for them or if maybe they got a pay-off from Pope and his puppets.
Those greeters from the voter integrity project are really just there to make you feel welcomed and keep you honest – especially if you are black, brown, poor, old, young or just look like one of those suspicious people who would vote for the “Democrat” party.
When the Governor said he would sign a bill restricting abortion, he had the chutzpah to claim that he wasn’t breaking a campaign promise to veto any law that allows the state to interfere with women’s personal health care choices.
I guess he didn’t notice the few hard to detect hints in the bill.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS or the part that says:
(a) Pursuant to the authority granted to states under 42 U.S.C. § 18023(a), no qualified
health plan offered through an Exchange created under Subchapter III of Chapter 157 of Title
42 of the U.S. Code and operating within this State shall include coverage for abortion services.
He doesn’t think a law restricting insurance coverage in any way restricts women’s financial access to  reproductive rights.  He doesn’t think a law designed to close all but one of North Carolina’s reproductive care clinics somehow restricts women’s access to reproductive care.
McCrory is lying, of course the fact that his lips are moving are a big hint  Or he recently fell off a turnip truck or Rick Perry slipped him some of Texas’ version of a Koch brew known to have debilitating effects on rational thinking.
Actually, McCrory did have a Rick Perryesque slip up while announcing he would sign this bill.
…And that’s what we wanted to work on, vocational training in the State Personnel Act, strategic mobility formula, all had to do with job efficiency. The Three E’s, efficiency of government, education, and… um… education.
Some things you just have to hear to fully appreciate.  Just click on listen.
Maybe McCrory is so stoned on Texas Tea he doesn’t realize that Pope’s Puppets look upon him as a junior partner in “their” government.
Oh and that doesn’t include another law Pope’s repugicans passed before running out the back door.  McCrory is concerned about their environmental law  because of the regulations on landfills and billboards.  One would hope that McCrory’s concerns are about the effects of allowing garbage trucks to leak,  but that would entail caring about the health and well-being of North Carolinians.  Besides you know whar taking in other state’s garbage means.  Swimming pools, movie stars.
These and other freedoms from regulations to protect the environment are just the incentive “job creators” need.  So what if it leaves the poor without even fresh air to pay for things like food excluded from the McBudget.
If this session wasn’t enough to convince the North Carolinians who voted for these clowns to give them a permanent vacation, I don’t know what will.

Who is America at war with?

Things They Won't Tell You

Sorry, that's classified

The Pentagon has classified the list of groups that the USA believes itself to be at war with. They say that releasing a list of the groups that it considers to itself to be fighting could be used by those groups to boast about the fact that America takes them seriously, and thus drum up recruits. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most transparent administration in history.
In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”
So who exactly are those associated forces? It’s a secret.
At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.
The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”
A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”

The Department of Homeland Security says it is illegal to freely play music in The United States

Paranoia Strikes Deep 
by Michael Martin 

The Department of Homeland Security (An agency enacted through the Patriot Act) is now demanding through enforcement from The State Fire Marshalls that ALL LIVE MUSIC PLAYED IN THE UNITED STATES MUST HAVE A PERMIT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.
This is an outrage to freedom and the ideals of The American people and our quickly evaporating rights.
This is just the start to the reality of what The Department of Homeland Security is going to do to the American citizens. The DHS is actually saying it is illegal to play music or operate a business where music is played for any reason without paying The Department of Homeland Security, and giving them much personal and private information. If The DHS can regulate the performance of a song where do you think they will stop? The fact is they won’t!
The Department of Homeland Security does not have the jurisdiction to enforce laws in The United States. They have purposefully and misleadingly attached themselves to The Fire Marshall to circumvent American constitutional rights and automatically give themselves jurisdiction in every business in The United States. This is enforced through the Fire Marshall’s inspection of commercial public businesses.
If this is just another of the endless stream of internet stories of dubious worth then it is a ho-hum another one those types of post.
However if it is valid - it is the end all ... our freedom(s) has been totally stripped from us.

Woman sparked smuggling alert after washing powder sent to Jamaica mistaken for cocaine

Paranoia Strikes Deep 
A mother-of one from Birmingham has told how she sparked a cocaine smuggling alert after shipping washing powder to relatives in Jamaica. Now angry Sharon Jaddoo wants to be reimbursed for goods including cooking oil, rice, custard and toothpaste, which was lost when her four oil barrels crammed with the groceries were seized on the sunshine island. The 44-year-old, from Handsworth, spent months packing the 80 kilos drums with items for her partially-sighted aunt in Kingston.

But when they arrived in the Caribbean, customs officers pounced – with washing powder and even teabags apparently ripped open in the fruitless search for drugs. Sharon is now £440 out of pocket – and she wants it back. She said: ‘‘How stupid can you be? Hasn’t anyone told them you don’t smuggle drugs into Jamaica, you smuggle drugs out of Jamaica?” Sharon has already clashed with Swift Connections, the shipping company paid £370 to make the overseas delivery.

It has made a £200 “goodwill” payment, but denies any responsibility. The fault, management stress, lies with Sharon who they claim should have packed items with greater care. And they claim to have endured abuse from her. Director Philip Jackson was moved to send a letter warning: “You have abused several members of staff, telling one she is lucky she was in London or you would ‘deal’ with her.” Sharon spent seven months and £700 filling the drums for 77-year aunt Mavis, something she’s done on several occasion without a hitch.

She dubbed authorities “stupid” for mistaking her shopping for a cache of Class A drugs. But she candidly admits firing a broadside at shaken Swift Connection staff in Jamaica. “If you are rude to me, I’ll be rude to you,” she added. “They don’t know the meaning of abuse. At the end of the day, it’s my business. They are my things for my aunt.” Mr Jackson stressed the £200 payment was made “from a goodwill perspective” and was well above the calculated cost of items listed missing on a scrawled note from Sandra. “We just thought, ‘let’s move on, it’s not worth the hassle’.”

Random Celebrity Photos


Raquel Welch photographed by Terry O’Neill 
Raquel Welch

Armed robber stopped to feed and cradle crying baby during break-in

Compassionate Crooks
The investigation into a recent armed robbery in South Tangerang, 20 miles from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, has revealed that one of the perpetrators succumbed to his fatherly instincts while in the act and fed and cradled a crying infant to sleep while he was robbing a house. “When [the robbers] entered the home, the baby woke up and began crying,” Jakarta Police official Adj. Sr. Comr. Herry Heryawan said on Monday. “One of them fed the baby milk and then cradled him back to sleep.” The burglar, identified as Kojek Mista, was arrested over the weekend along with two others, Tamrin Simanjuntak and Fikri Rudianto. Tamrin was killed after he tried to escape, and police are still searching for two other people involved in the crime.

Kojek, along with his four peers, allegedly robbed a house in Bumi Serpong Damai Parkland in South Tangerang on June 22. “They carried guns, sharp weapons, a crowbar and duct tape. They entered the house by climbing [the walls of the backyard] around 3 a.m.,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said. Kojek, who appeared at a press conference along with police officials, said that he and the other burglars immediately ascended to the second floor after breaking in. “The housemaid woke up, so I covered her mouth and then bound her arms and legs. I stuck the duct tape on her mouth,” Kojek said. “There were two housemaids, but the other one didn’t awake, so we let her be.”

The house owner, Fance Lewa, woke up as she heard the fuss, and screamed when she saw strangers in the house. Tamrin immediately pointed his gun at her, after which she fell silent. The robbers then tied Fance up, but then her baby boy woke up and began crying nonstop, causing the burglars to panic. “I asked his mother how to make him stop crying. She said he had to be fed with milk,” Kojek said. He then made the instant formula for the baby under Fance’s guidance. “The mother said it should be made with two spoons of milk and warm water. I gave it to the baby while cradling him,” Kojek said.

“Not long after that, the baby fell asleep, so I put him in bed. I have a kid, so I know how to cradle a baby.” The robbers proceeded to rob the house, stealing a laptop, several smartphones, some cash, jewelry and other items worth a total of Rp 50 million (£3,200, $4,900). “And then we escaped [by climbing] the backyard walls again,” Kojek added. Herry said Tamrin and Fikri were arrested in a house in Kembangan, West Jakarta, while Kojek was found in another house in Rawa Lumbu, Bekasi. Police seized from them two motorcycles, a machete and a crowbar, among other things. “The perpetrators may be charged under Article 365 [of the Criminal Code] on robbery, and are facing between eight and 10 years in jail,” Rikwanto said.

Man attempts to rob gun store with a baseball bat

Dumb Crooks
From the "That Special Kind of Stupid" Department Derrick Mosely has had a few bright ideas in his 22 years, but this wasn't one of them.
Derrick Mosely has had a few bright ideas in his 22 years, but this wasn’t one of them.
Common sense doesn’t always prevail when criminals are preparing plans for their next great heist. A 22-year-old man in Beaverton, Oregon, proved that on Thursday afternoon when he attempted to rob a store with a baseball bat. But it wasn’t just any store, it was a gun store. Yep. You know that saying, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Apparently that holds true for bats as well, but some people just have to learn the hard way.
Derrick Mosley walked into Discount Gun Sales, smashed one of the glass cases with a bat and helped himself to an unloaded handgun. The store owner, who was – not too surprisingly – packing his own loaded pistol, very calmly like trained his sights on Mosley and demanded that he drop the gun, the baseball bat and a knife he was carrying. Mosley complied and was held at gunpoint until deputies arrived a short time later and arrested him without further incidence.
Mosley was charged first-degree robbery, first-degree theft, unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree criminal mischief.
No one was injured during the robbery attempt, but there are unconfirmed reports that the store owner was seen shaking his head in disbelief at some point during the ordeal.

Pwning a house

Tech Savvy
Badly configured home automation systems are easy to locate using Google, and once you discover them, you can seize control of a stranger's entire home: "lights, hot tubs, fans, televisions, water pumps, garage doors, cameras, and other devices." The manufacturers blame their customers for not following security advice, but even "enthusiast" customers who think they've locked down their networks are sometimes in for a nasty surprise.
Insteon chief information officer Mike Nunes says the systems that I’m seeing online are from a product discontinued in the last year. He blamed user error for the appearance in search results, saying the older product was not originally intended for remote access, and to set this up required some savvy on the users’ part. The devices had come with an instruction manual telling users how to put the devices online which strongly advised them to add a username and password to the system. (But, really, who reads instruction manuals closely?)
“This would require the user to have chosen to publish a link (IP address) to the Internet AND for them to have not set a username and password,” says Nunes. I told Nunes that requiring a username/password by default is good security-by-design to protect people from making a mistake like this. “It did not require it by default, but it supported it and encouraged it,” he replied.
In Thomas Hatley’s case, he created a website that acted as the gateway for a number of services for his home. There is a password on his website, but you can circumvent that by going straight to the Insteon port, which was not password protected. “I would say that some of the responsibility would be mine, because of how I have my internal router configured,” says Hatley who describes himself as a home automation enthusiast. “But it’s coming from that port, and I didn’t realize that port was accessible from the outside.”
The company’s current product automatically assigns a username and password, but it did not during the first few months of release — which is one of the products that Trustwave’s Bryan got. If you have one of those early products, you should really go through with that recall. Bryan rated the new authentication as “poor” saying that cracking it would “be a trivial task for most security professionals.”

Mermaid swimming school proves to be popular

News of the positive sort
A unique school in Manila is helping young women make their marine dream a reality. The Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy opened last May and has been attracting aquatic students of all ages.

Pupils pay 1,800 pesos, which is around £26.50, ($41), for a two-hour pool session and tutoring from a group of coaches that include scuba divers, free divers and competitive swimmers.

The school also provides mono-fins and a set of fake scales to complete the mermaid look. Instructor Arabelle Jiminez thinks mermaids have a lot to teach people: "We have this notion that the mermaids are beautiful, are playful, are fun, and adventurous, and graceful.

"So that is what we want to impart to the kids also." The coaches teach their students to do dolphin kicks, bubble rings, handstands and blow kisses underwater. Teachers also hope graduates will leave with a renewed respect for marine life.

Why Do Some People Only Have Bad Luck?

Scientific Minds Want To Know
If you believe in bad luck, you're more likely to suffer bad luck.