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Monday, September 16, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1620 The Pilgrims sail from England on the Mayflower.
1668 King John Casimer V of Poland abdicates the throne.
1747 The French capture Bergen-op-Zoom, consolidating their occupation of Austrian Flanders in the Netherlands.
1789 Jean-Paul Marat sets up a new newspaper in France, L'Ami du Peuple.
1810 A revolution for independence breaks out in Mexico.
1864 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest leads 4,500 men out of Verona, Miss. to harass Union outposts in northern Alabama and Tennessee.
1889 Robert Younger, in Minnesota's Stillwater Penitentiary for life, dies of tuberculosis. Brothers Cole and Bob remain in the prison.
1893 Some 50,000 "Sooners" claim land in the Cherokee Strip during the first day of the Oklahoma land rush.
1908 General Motors files papers of incorporation.
1920 Thirty people are killed in a terrorist bombing in New York's Wall Street financial district.
1934 Anti-Nazi Lutherans stage protest in Munich.
1940 Congress passes the Selective Service Act, which calls for the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
1942 The Japanese base at Kiska in the Aleutian Islands is raided by American bombers.
1945 Japan surrenders Hong Kong to Britain.
1950 The U.S. 8th Army breaks out of the Pusan Perimeter in South Korea and begins heading north to meet MacArthur's troops heading south from Inchon.
1972 South Vietnamese troops recapture Quang Tri province in South Vietnam from the North Vietnamese Army.
1974 Limited amnesty is offered to Vietnam-era draft resisters who would now swear allegiance to the United States and perform two years of public service.
1975 Administrators for Rhodes Scholarships announce the decision to begin offering fellowships to women.
1978 An earthquake estimated to be as strong as 7.9 on the Richter scale kills 25,000 people in Iran.
1991 The trial of Manuel Noriega, deposed dictator of Panama, begins in the United States.
1994 Britain's government lifts the 1988 broadcasting ban against member of Ireland's Sinn Fein and Irish paramilitary groups.
2007 Military contractors in the employ of Blackwater Worldwide allegedly kill 17 Iraqis in Baghdad's Nisour Square, further straining relations between the US and the people of Iraq.

Non Sequitur


The Speech That Shocked Birmingham ...

Appalled by the murder of four little girls, a white Alabaman spoke out against racism—and was forever shunned for it.

"A bomb went off and an all-white police force moved into action," proclaimed Charles Morgan Jr. at the Birmingham Young Men's Business Club.
In the next few days, you are likely to be inundated with 50th anniversary reminiscences of the Birmingham church bombing of September 15, 1963, a blast that killed four young black children and intensified the struggle for civil rights in the South. This is as it should be. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church was the most terrible act of one of the most terribly divisive periods in American history, and it's not too much of a leap to suggest that all that came after it—including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—would not have come as quickly as it did without the martyrdom of those little girls.

What you likely will not hear about in the next few days is what happened the day after the church bombing. On Monday, September 16, 1963, a young Alabama lawyer named Charles Morgan Jr., a white man with a young family, a Southerner by heart and heritage, stood up at a lunch meeting of the Birmingham Young Men's Business Club, at the heart of the city's white Establishment, and delivered a speech about race and prejudice that bent the arc of the moral universe just a little bit more toward justice. It was a speech that changed Morgan's life—and 50 years later its power and eloquence are worth revisiting. Just hours after the church bombing, Morgan spoke these words:Four little girls were killed in Birmingham yesterday. A mad, remorseful worried community asks, "Who did it? Who threw that bomb? Was it a Negro or a white?" The answer should be, "We all did it." Every last one of us is condemned for that crime and the bombing before it and a decade ago. We all did it.
He had written the speech that morning, he would recount years later after he and his family were forced to flee Birmingham because of the vicious reaction his words had generated from his fellow Alabamans. He had jotted down his remarks, he said, "from anger and despair, from frustration and empathy. And from years of hopes, hopes that were shattered and crumbled with the steps of that Negro Baptist Church." He had had enough of the silent acquiescence of good people who saw wrong but didn't try to right it.
A short time later, white policemen kill a Negro and wound another. A few hours later, two young men on a motorbike shoot and kill a Negro child. Fires break out, and, in Montgomery, white youths assault Negroes. And all across Alabama, an angry, guilty people cry out their mocking shouts of indignity and say they wonder, "Why?" "Who?" Everyone then "deplores" the "dastardly" act. But you know the "who" of "Who did it" is really rather simple.
There was little in Morgan's early life to suggest that he would have the courage to speak out in this fashion—but you also can see signs of the civil rights lawyer to come. He was born in Kentucky, the son of parents who moved their family to Birmingham in 1945 and were always courteous to the "black help." Like so many other local sons and daughters of the time, Morgan went to University of Alabama. By the time he got there he was interested in law and politics. He would spend his life enmeshed in both.
The "who" is every little individual who talks about the "niggers" and spreads the seeds of his hate to his neighbor and his son. The jokester, the crude oaf whose racial jokes rock the party with laughter. The "who" is every governor who ever shouted for lawlessness and became a law violator. It is every senator and every representative who in the halls of Congress stands and with mock humility tells the world that things back home aren't really like they are. It is courts that move ever so slowly, and newspapers that timorously defend the law.

He was always a Democrat, which in Alabama in 1948 meant that he was present at the creation of the chasm on race that defines American politics to this very day. Tellingly, he was drawn first to James E. Folsom—"Big Jim"—who served two non-consecutive terms as governor from 1947 to 1959. Folsom was a populist, which wasn't uncommon, but was also an early and ardent integrationist. "As long as the Negroes are held down by deprivation and lack of opportunity the other poor people will be held down alongside them," Folsom had said, in 1949, the year after Alabama went Dixiecrat.It is all the Christians and all their ministers who spoke too late in anguished cries against violence. It is the coward in each of us who clucks admonitions. We have 10 years of lawless preachments, 10 years of criticism of law, of courts, of our fellow man, a decade of telling school children the opposite of what the civics books say. We are a mass of intolerance and bigotry and stand indicted before our young. We are cursed by the failure of each of us to accept responsibility, by our defense of an already dead institution.
I suppose it was inevitable that a smart young man interested in law and politics would pass the decade of the 1950s in Alabama at the center of a constant storm of racial tension. And 1954 clearly was the dividing line. Before it there were the deplorable conditions that generated the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. After it there was the virulent opposition that the ruling generated in the South. What did Morgan say he learned during this tumultuous time? That voices of moderation must have the courage to speak up—or accept the pain of being left out.
Yesterday while Birmingham, which prides itself on the number of its churches, was attending worship services, a bomb went off and an all-white police force moved into action, a police force which has been praised by city officials and others at least once a day for a month or so. A police force which has solved no bombings. A police force which many Negroes feel is perpetrating the very evils we decry. And why would Negroes think this?
He got married. He became a lawyer. He was active in state and local politics. By 1958 he had his own firm. And through this era, of Citizens Councils and Little Rock, he struggled to reconcile his love of the South with his aversion to its racism, his loyalty to Birmingham with his frustration at its opposition to integration. What he learned during this time in both law and politics, he would later say, was that the topic of race was a trap and that "every white man in Alabama was caught up in it."
There are no Negro policemen; there are no Negro sheriff's deputies. Few Negroes have served on juries; few have been allowed to vote; few have been allowed to accept responsibility, or granted even a simple part to play in the administration of justice. Do not misunderstand me. It it not that I think that white policemen had anything whatsoever to do with the killing of these children or previous bombings. It's just that Negroes who see an all-white police force must think in terms of its failure to prevent or solve the bombing and think perhaps Negroes would have worked a little harder. They throw rocks and bottles and bullets. And we whites don't seem to know why the Negroes are lawless. So we lecture them.
In 1960, The New York Times' correspondent Harrison Salisbury wrote a flammable piece on Birmingham titled "Fear and Hatred Grip Birmingham. In a tone Morgan would echo three years later, Salisbury wrote of the city: "Every channel of communication, every medium of mutual interest, every reasoned approach, every inch of middle ground has been fragmented by the emotional dynamite of racism, enforced by the whip, the razor, the gun, the bomb, the torch, the club, the knife, the mob, the police and many branches of the state's apparatus." Furious, Alabama officials quickly sued the Times for libel.
Birmingham is the only city in America where the police chief and the sheriff in the school crisis had to call our local ministers together to tell them to do their duty. The ministers of Birmingham who have done so little for Christianity call for prayer at high noon in a city of lawlessness, and in the same breath, speak of our city's "image." Did those ministers visit the families of the Negroes in their hour of travail? Did many of them go to the homes of their brothers and express their regrets in person or pray with the crying relatives? Do they admit Negroes into their ranks at the church?
The libel lawsuit (remember, this was before the Supreme Court issued New York Times v. Sullivan, a decision that broadened first amendment protections for journalists) immediately impacted Morgan. He was asked to represent the Rev. Robert L. Hughes, a white Methodist minister who was a director of the Alabama Council on Human Relations, a group designed to act as a liaison between the white and black communities in Birmingham. Hughes had been served a subpoena to produce the records of all those who supported the council. And he had decided to fight the request.
Who is guilty? A moderate mayor elected to change things in Birmingham and who moves so slowly and looks elsewhere for leadership? A business community which shrugs its shoulders and looks to the police or perhaps somewhere else for leadership? A newspaper which has tried so hard of late, yet finds it necessary to lecture Negroes every time a Negro home is bombed? A governor who offers a reward but mentions not his own failure to preserve either segregation or law and order? And what of those lawyers and politicians who counsel people as to what the law is not, when they know full well what the law is?

Representing Rev. Hughes immediately made Morgan the target of the Klan. Its members accosted him in a courthouse at a hearing. There were anonymous nighttime phone calls. "How come you'd represent that nigger-lover Hughes?" he would be asked. "You better watch out, tough guy. Some night we'll get you alone." The experience made Morgan realize that he and Hughes, that all moderates seeking to foster equal rights in the South at that time, were "in the same boat." Whether he had wanted to or not, he had chosen a side.Those four little Negro girls were human beings. They had lived their fourteen years in a leaderless city: a city where no one accepts responsibility, where everybody wants to blame somebody else. A city with a reward fund which grew like Topsy as a sort of sacrificial offering, a balm for the conscience of the "good people," whose ready answer is for those "right wing extremists" to shut up. People who absolve themselves of guilt. The liberal lawyer who told me this morning, "Me? I'm not guilty!" he then proceeding to discuss the guilt of the other lawyers, the one who told the people that the Supreme Court did not properly interpret the law. And that's the way it is with the Southern liberals. They condemn those with whom they disagree for speaking while they sit in fearful silence.
He became radicalized—but only to a point and always within the structure of the law. He represented a black murder defendant named Boaz Sanders, a case that further opened his eyes to the state's unequal justice under law. Then he sued the University of Alabama, his beloved alma mater, after it refused to admit two black men around the same time it was stalling the admission of Hood and Malone. These were formal acts of subversion against a culture he could neither abide nor quit. It was tough love. It was the tiny ripple of hope that Robert Kennedy, years later, would talk about in South Africa.
Birmingham is a city in which the major industry, operated from Pittsburgh, never tried to solve the problem. It is a city where four little Negro girls can be born into a second-class school system, live a segregated life, ghettoed into their own little neighborhoods, restricted to Negro churches, destined to ride in Negro ambulances, to Negro wards of hospitals or to a Negro cemetery. Local papers, on their front and editorial pages, call for order and then exclude their names from obituary columns.
The Alabama of the early 1960s was the Alabama of George Wallace and the Freedom Riders. It was the Alabama of Vivian Malone and James Hood and Eugene "Bull" Connor. It was the Alabama from which came many blacks and whites who believed in integration and in civil rights and who participated in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. And then, just 18 days later, it was the Alabama that detonated a bomb inside a church on a Sunday. "My God," a woman on the scene screamed, "you're not even safe in a church."
And who is really guilty? Each of us. Each citizen who has not consciously attempted to bring about peaceful compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, every citizen who has ever said "they ought to kill that nigger," every citizen who votes for the candidate with the bloody flag, every citizen and every school board member and schoolteacher and principal and businessman and judge and lawyer who has corrupted the minds of our youth; every person in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years to the popularity of hatred, is at least as guilty, or more so, than the demented fool who threw that bomb.
What's it like living in Birmingham? No one ever really has known and no one will until this city becomes part of the United States. Birmingham is not a dying city; it is dead.
And with those words—"It is dead"—Morgan sat down. In his powerful book, "A Time to Speak," from which the speech has been transcribed, Morgan wrote: "There was applause, and then one member rose. He suggested that we admit a Negro into the club. There was silence. The motion died. Soon the Young Men's Business Club of Birmingham, Alabama, adjourned its meeting of September 16, 1963. It was one o'clock. Downstairs, the troopers still laughed and talked, and blocks away the carillon again played 'Dixie.'"
Following the speech, the threats began almost immediately. The very next morning, at 5 a.m., Morgan received a call. "Is the mortician there yet?" a voice asked. "I don't know any morticians," Morgan responded. "Well, you will," the voice answered, "when the bodies are all over your front yard." Later, Morgan recounted, a client of his drove an hour to tell him to flee Birmingham. "They'll shoot you down like a dog," the client told Morgan. Little wonder that Morgan quickly closed down his law practice and moved himself and his family to safety.
"Chuck told me that he received a stream of threats both by telephone and letter for weeks after his speech," recalls Steve Suitts, the renowned author, scholar, and civil libertarian who was one of Morgan's longtime friends. "Once we discussed the anonymous threats that Alabama-born Justice Hugo Black received from white Southerners after the Brown decision, and a note I had found in Black's papers saying 'Nigger-lovers don't live long in Alabama.' Chuck smiled and said he got the very same language in a note after his speech in 1963.
"But, the threats that worried Chuck the most were those made against his wife, Camille, and his little boy, Charles," Suitts told me this week via email. "He once told me that he had received a note that he did not share with Camille or anyone else. It listed all the places that Camille and Charles had been on a recent Saturday and said something like, 'Wife and kid of a troublemaker ain't always getting home. Next time?' That one worried him the most, because it meant someone had actually followed his family all day."
What did he do when he left Alabama? A great deal. He led an extraordinarily vital life on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed and the accused. Here's how the Times, in its 2009 obituary of him, described the impact of Morgan's work upon the lay of the law:
Among his many cases as a civil rights lawyer, Mr. Morgan sued to desegregate his alma mater, the University of Alabama; forced a new election in Greene County, Ala., that led to the election of six black candidates for local offices in 1969; and successfully challenged racially segregated juries and prisons. After the civil rights movement began to subside, Mr. Morgan, as a leader of the American Civil Liberties Union, fought three celebrated court cases involving protests against the Vietnam War.
He represented Muhammad Ali in his successful court fight to avoid being drafted. He represented the civil rights activist Julian Bond in the early stages of an ultimately successful lawsuit after Mr. Bond had been denied a seat in the Georgia legislature because of his antiwar views. And he defended an officer when he was court-martialed for refusing to help instruct Green Berets headed for Vietnam.
But it is Suitts, who in many ways carries on the tradition of the Southern moderate, who deserves the last word as we approach the golden anniversary of this remarkable act of personal courage. Of Morgan, Suitts told me:
In many ways, Chuck took one of the key points in Dr. King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," written five months earlier, and extended it into the horrendous facts of the bombing. (Dr. King wrote: "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice... who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait.")
Chuck's speech carried this theme one step further by suggesting the white moderate was responsible for the worst of "disorder" as well as gross injustice ... by asking" Who is guilty?" of the bombing of innocent little girls and answering "Each of us!" - not the Klan, not the extremist whites but every white person in Birmingham...
There is no monument or commemoration of Chuck's "Time to Speak" in Birmingham. Last time I was in the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, I did not see any reference to Chuck's speech. Birmingham's Young Men's Business Club still remembers Chuck's speech occasionally, but it is not remembered all that often there or elsewhere in Birmingham.

There is probably more than one reason for this fact. The bombing - not Chuck's speech - was the event that rocked Birmingham and the nation. It is also very hard for anyone today, in Birmingham and elsewhere, to genuinely understand how often and how many good white people kept silent in the face of rank injustice and racial violence in the South during the era of Jim Crow.

In fact, in one of the last conversation Chuck and I had, we laughed about how difficult it is nowadays to find a Southern white family that does not claim having done at least one heroic act on their part to end racial injustice during the civil rights movement.

You've got mail ...

From Vladimir Putin.

Most people have heard about the "open letter" to the American people from Vladimir Putin; probably few have read it.  Herewith some excerpts:
Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies...

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization...

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria...

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists...

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”..

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.  
Full-text at the New York Times.

DoD office can't process FOIAs because fax machine broken, no money for new one

MuckRock News reports that Freedom of Information Act requests faxed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable a couple weeks ago. The OSD confirms their fax machine is down, possibly for another few months, because there's no money in their tens of billions of dollars a year budget for a new one, and they can't switch to email as a request method. "The office that oversees the most powerful military in history (not to mention the best-funded) is unable to project when its single fax machine will once again be operational."

Lush Dimbulb Insults His Own Sponsor McDonalds By Calling McNuggets Poor People Food

While attacking the poor, Lush Dimbulb self destructed and insinuated that his own sponsor McDonalds is poor people food. …
The percentage owning refrigerators? 97.8%. Gas or electric stoves? 96.6%. Microwaves? 93.2%. Air conditioning? Over 83%.”
Over 83% of people who live in poverty have air-conditioning. I wonder what the number is for people who not in poverty. Well, the reason I say that is there are a lot of people in certain parts of the country who don’t have air-conditioning but they can afford it because of the climate, and there are people who are not in poverty who can’t afford it and don’t have it. But 83% of Americans in poverty have air-conditioning. The percentage of Americans living in poverty who have a clothes washer, is 68.7%.
The percentage of Americans living in poverty who have a dryer, 65.3%. The percentage of Americans who live in poverty who use their washer, I don’t know. (I just thought I would throw that in.) Only 44.9% had a dishwasher. So they’re sacrificing there. People in poverty are washing their own dishes, or almost half of ‘em are. So poverty in this country isn’t poverty. Everything’s relative, but that’s not bad. As we say here, you get 99 weeks of unemployment. Ninety million Americans are not working, but they’re eating. Ninety million Americans are not working, but they’ve got their flat screens and they’ve got their cell phones. (interruption)
Well, that’s a good point. That is an excellent point.
The reason why only 45% have a dishwasher is because things like Chicken McNuggets don’t come with dishes. How many people do you think take their McNuggets home and put ‘em on a plate and grab a knife and a fork, maybe a bottle of wine and a napkin, and sit down? It’s not happening. So if you’re eating McNuggets or what have you, you don’t need plates — and let’s not leave it at McNuggets. Let’s include Big Macs in there just to avoid any of the leftist trolls out there.
According to StopLush, McDonalds sponsors Dimbulb’s radio show. I’m pretty sure that they won’t like how Lush has described their food as meal of choice for the poor. As usual, Dimbulb was living in a fantasy world and making up his own facts. The most recent research found that most McDonalds customers are middle class, “The researchers found that people visited fast-food restaurants more often as their household income increased — at least up to a point. Fast-food visits rose along with annual income up to $60,000; beyond that, visits started to drop back down, replaced by full-service, sit-down dining at slightly higher prices. Based on the data, the researchers described the typical fast-food consumer as a lower-middle income head of household, who is budget-conscious and harried and likes the convenience and low price of fast food, compared with other restaurants.”
This was the perfect moment of Lush self destruction. Not only did Dimbulb insult a sponsor, but he insulted a sponsor with completely inaccurate information. Dimbulb’s argument that the poor aren’t really poor is one of the repugicans’ favorite talking points to use to justify taking from the poor in order to give to the rich. You know that repugicanism thrives on class warfare. Wingnuts hope that you won’t notice that they are making the rich richer if they can divert your attention towards the “undeserving” poor.
McDonalds shouldn’t be left off the hook either. I have reached out to McDonalds for comment on Dimbulb’s remarks, but the corporate giant should answer for sponsoring Dimbulb’s radio show. Lush Dimbulb continues to implode, and McDonalds needs to know that they can’t escape the fallout.

Sarah Palin Sued for Trying to Profit Off Of 9/11

Sarah Palin (that's trademarked!) used an iconic 9/11 image belonging to a New Jersey-based newspaper publisher to raise money for her PAC.…
Former Governor of Alaska Palin is seen in the stands of the 142nd Belmont Stakes in Elmont
How do you know that you’ve crossed that oh so delicate line from seething, frothing critic to money-grubbing abuser of all things decent?
Here’s a clue. If you get sued for using an iconic image of New York City firefighters hoisting a flag on 9/11 that does not belong to you in order to raise money for your very partisan self, you have jumped the “patriot” shark.
If you put your logo on the bottom of the picture that did not belong to you, who claim to believe in free enterprise and private business and who have trademarked your own name out of a relentless greed, you definitely jumped the patriot shark.
So it is that Sarah Palin (that’s trademarked!) used the image of a New Jersey-based newspaper publisher (North Jersey Media Group Inc.) in order to raise money for her PAC that does nothing much but feed her lifestyle. They allege that she used the photo on SarahPAC and her Facebook Page, also known as the cave from which she issues her rhetorical bombs like her Syrian “Let Allah sort it out!” contribution to our national dialogue.
Alleging copyright infringement, the publisher sought a court order to bar Palin and her PAC from using the image.
“The Manhattan federal court lawsuit says that by using the picture “to promote Sarah Palin and to raise money for SarahPAC” the former Republican vice-presidential nominee has ‘irreparably damaged’ the newspaper company,” Newsday reported.
Certainly no reputable news company would want to be seen as affiliated with Sarah Palin or her PAC, let alone contributing to raising money for her.
This is just basic common sense and law. The image is clearly marked, “EDITORIAL USE ONLY – NO COMMERCIAL SALES”, “Photo by 2001 The Record (Bergen Co. NJ)/Getty Images”. And again for the reading impaired, “Restrictions: Contact your local office for all commercial or promotional uses. Editorial Use Only – No Commercial Sales”.
Partisan politics are even worse than general commercial sales, because Palin is implicating the newspaper as supporting her politics by using their image to raise money.
Sarah Palin claims to be for free enterprise, but then she took someone’s work and branded it with her logo for money raising purposes, as if the photo were her property and implying that the owners of the photo and or the people in it supported her cause.
I’ll bet the New York City fire department has something to say about that, especially since it was Palin who called unions “thugs” and castigated them for expecting taxpayers to fund their “unsustainable benefits packages”.
Yes, Palin benefited from her husband’s union membership, but that’s different. When a conservative does it, it’s deserved. When anyone else does it, it’s entitled laziness…
Just like all private property belongs to Sarah Palin. The world works for Sarah Palin to use for money-grubbing from her few remaining cult members, who keep on giving in spite of the evidence that Ms Palin is only using the money to fund her lifestyle.
Sarah Palin believes that New York City firefighters fought on 9/11 in order for her to raise money for herself – also known as “freedom” – in 2013. Of course they support her, after all, she’s entitled. And everyone’s work belongs to her, like the Commie Socialist she is.

The repugicans Substitute wingnut Ideology For Science and History In Public Schools

The repugicans are using public school funds to teach christian wingnut ideology in place of science and American history.…
Educators use myriad modalities to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next based on research, historical facts, and empirical data, unless of course their knowledge base if founded in superstition and invalid facts. The separation of cult and state in the Constitution ensures that taxpayer dollars will not be used to teach religion in public schools, and besides giving rise to an alarming number of private christian madrassas, repugicans are using public school funds to teach christian wingnut ideology in place of science and American history. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal devised a scam to transfer public school students to private religious schools using taxpayer dollars to inculcate biblical beliefs, but in Texas, repugicans are taking a more direct approach and inserting christian and wingnut ideology into public school curriculum.
Real educators understand that curricula based on superstition and political ideology academically retards students and leaves them ill-prepared to function and compete in a rapidly evolving 21st century world. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said “We do a disservice to children when we shield them from the truth, just because some people think it is painful or doesn’t fit with their particular views. Parents should be very wary of politicians designing curriculum.” The christian repugicans, however, will not be deterred from their crusade to create a generation of ignorant wingnuts whose worldview will be founded on ancient biblical mythos and revisionist history with no basis in facts.
In Louisiana, Bobby Jindal signed a new law that privatizes public schools to indoctrinate students with bible-based curriculum and mindboggling pseudoscience. The curriculum’s textbooks hype “bible-based facts” from christian Bob Jones 'University' Press and christian 'educators' A Beka Book touting “academic excellence and christian character training.” The academic excellence includes teaching children that dragons were real, humans and dinosaurs lived side by side in perfect harmony, and that globalization is the precursor to rapture. The students will also learn that slavery was not horrendous, the Ku Klux Klan was a respectable organization working for the betterment of local communities, and that liberals lie and use propaganda to portray the Great Depression as something other than Utopia and America’s finest era.  In Louisiana, only students sucked into Jindal’s privatization scam will be academic retards, but in Texas, all 4.8 million students are bound for an education founded in christian wingnuttery and lunatic fringe extremists’ revised American history.
The Texas Board of Education went to great lengths to revise curriculum to adhere to their distorted wingnut religious vision of America, and their primary goals are emphasizing that America was founded on christian beliefs - (it was not), and that the bible disproves science - (it does not). The repugican christian wingnuts amending Texas textbooks decried state curriculum they claim was dominated by liberal ideas based on historical facts and empirical scientific data, and their stated goal was to reverse the trend. One of the repugican christians, wingnut board member Don McLeroy said that “we’ve corrected the imbalance we’ve had in the past,” and that he is now “very pleased with what we’ve accomplished.” Another board member said that “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the good book and the spirit of the savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. The objective is a christian land governed by christian principles.” In other words - Treason.
To ensure 4.8 million Texas students are indoctrinated into the “christian nation” fallacy, the wingnut board concentrated on diluting the rationale for the separation of cult and state by noting the words were not in the Constitution. The Founding Father responsible for the “wall of separation” in the First Amendment, Thomas Jefferson, is hated by wingnuts so they removed him from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century.  The Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, was a cultural movement in the 17th and 18th centuries dedicated to reforming society using reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advancing knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual interchange, and rejected superstition and intolerance. The Enlightenment influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. None of which are included in the christian bible the Texas wingnuts claim are the Constitution’s source of inspiration.
To make sure Texas students learn that the “good book” and the “spirit of the savior” directed the Founding Fathers, the wingnuts replaced Jefferson with Italian priest St. Thomas Aquinas and French theologian John Calvin who were alive during the early 1200s and 1500s respectively, and were as far removed from the Age of Enlightenment as the Texas christian repugicans are from rational thought. The religio-wingnuts also will indoctrinate Texas students to learn “the consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action, and Title IX legislation. They will also focus on the blessings of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s with special emphasis on contributions by raving lunatic Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With On America, the (Nazi)Heritage Foundation, the (im)Moral (non)Majority, and every religio-wingnut’s favorite organization the National Rifle Association. The repugicans on the board claimed they were just “adding balance” to the curriculum because according to wingnutss on the board, “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left;” likely with historical facts and empirical scientific data.
The Texas curriculum board wields power over the entire nation’s education system because they are one of the largest textbook consumers, and publishers offer Texas textbooks to other states. In fact, even textbook publishers are coming under fire from Texas for including science that does not comport with the bible. The religio-wingnuts enlisted a bank of christian non-scientist-people as science curriculum reviewers who rejected all references to evolution and just recently insisted that all biology curricula is based on creationism. California educators have had to deal with textbooks tailored for Texas idiots in the past, and to remedy the problem a bill was introduced in the California state Senate to protect California schools by requiring California’s board of education to screen state curricula for any of the new standards adopted in Texas. The bill explains that Texas curriculum changes are “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings and a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”
America’s students, even unfortunate Texas and Louisiana students deserve a fact-based, historically accurate, and scientifically correct education that is facing its biggest threat in decades. Whether it is voucher scams to transfer public school funds to private religious schools, or a panel of religio-wingnut freaks in Texas degrading education, America’s children merit the tools they will need to succeed in the 21st century global economy. They will be academic retards if they learn the bible is science, the Founding Fathers’ were committed to government by bible, or that repugican political philosophies are America’s salvation. However, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said “We do a disservice to children when we shield them from the truth,” and if Americans have learned nothing else from repugicans, it is that their agenda is entirely dependent on “shielding Americans from the truth.” If the American people did know the truth, the wingnut 'movement', like our education system, would soon cease to exist.

Random Celebrity photos


Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake

Bored white lady from California becomes first bored white lady Maasai warrior

Mindy Budgor of Santa Barbara, California has has a book out about her adventures in Kenya, "training to become the world's first female Maasai warrior" and, naturally, "saving" the poor indigenous African people she encounters.
Basically, it's "Eat Pray Love" meets every white-savior-among-dark-natives movie ever.
And, the whole thing was some kind of aspirational sponsored content play? She references Under Armour throughout the book, wears the athletic apparel brand in Kenya photos, tried to get them to sponsor her, and says she lied about having a sponsorship from them, to her parents. Wut? See page 51-52 for starters, and the last graf on page one of the Glamour article.
There's a Guardian story. BBC News TV interviewed her. In Glamour, they also ran what amounts to an excerpt from the book:
That afternoon we headed into the bush. We brought nothing but the bare essentials (for me, that included a bottle of Chanel Dragon red nail polish—it just made me feel fierce—and a set of pearl earrings as a reminder of home) and our warrior gear: two tartan sheets that we would wrap around us as clothing, and the metal tips for our spears. Lanet explained that typically, a group of 10 to 20 young men go through the rites of passage over a period of three to seven years. "Your situation is different, so we will need to compromise," he said. "We will test you as we go. If at any time we feel you are not up for the challenge, then I will take you back to Nairobi. But if you do well, we will introduce you to the community." He carefully selected six other warriors who would join us—he knew he'd need persuasive men on our side when we returned to the village.
I looked at those stone-faced, lean-bodied men and was terrified. Lanet sensed my trepidation. "I know you're scared," he said. "But these people have chosen to be with you. You must accept them as your family, or this is not going to work." I thought of Faith and the promise I had made, and I told Lanet I would learn to trust them, whatever it took.
Our first task was to collect leaves and branches to sleep on. That was backbreaking, but the hardest task came next: killing a goat. The Maasai suffocate their goats, which they believe is the most humane way to kill. I was petrified, but not about to wimp out on day one, so I held its mouth closed until it went limp. Another warrior slit its throat, then everyone stepped forward...

Rubber Duck Potato

What looks like a duck but tastes like a potato? 73-year-old retiree Dorothea Clinton of Shropshire, England, dug up this unusual looking tuber from her back garden. "I just pulled it out of the ground and I thought, 'Oooh, it's a duck,'" she told Shropshirestar. "We normally eat everything we produce from the garden but I can't bring myself to eat this one, it's got a kind of strange sentimental value to me now."
Now that's a spud worth quacking about!

Around the Web

A column at Scientific American encourages Americans to abandon traditional grass lawns in favor of other plantings.

A gallery of over 50 photos of a shoe store that was closed up and left alone for 40 years.

A column at Salon offers "Eight signs the rich have way too much money."

The Beatles were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan. "The Beatles didn't fall immediately under the spell of marijuana, but after a few months, according to John, they were "smoking it for breakfast," "Let's have a laugh" soon became their code line for "Let's have some marijuana."

Fruit juice may be worse for children than soda pop.  "A book from the 1920s on feeding children by L Emmett Holt says that you should give toddlers just one to four tablespoons (15-60ml) of fresh orange or peach juice. Compare this with today's 200ml children's juice boxes, which contain about 17g sugar, the equivalent of more than four teaspoons. The biggest problem with juice, as far as Lustig is concerned, is the lack of fibre."

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone tackles the college loan scandal.  "It's complicated. But throw off the mystery and what you'll uncover is a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults... our university-tuition system really is exploitative and unfair, designed primarily to benefit two major actors [colleges/universities and the government]."

Youth more likely to be bullied at schools with anti-bullying programs

Anti-bullying initiatives have become standard at schools across the country, but a new UT Arlington study finds that students attending those schools may be more likely to be a victim

Stoners beware: exercising might lead to a positive drug test

Exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle, but new research led by the University of Sydney shows that for cannabis users, it could also lead to positive drug tests. Tetrahydrocannabinol ...

HIV Cure?

Scientists in Oregon have made a major leap toward curing HIV, one of the worst and most feared diseases humanity has ever faced. Anthony explains what they've achieved and what it might mean for the millions battling this disease around the world.
Researchers hope an HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate could completely clear the AIDS-causing virus from the body.

Old Family Photos


When big hair roamed the earth in a Firebird

The importance of old people in human cultural evolution

Excerpts from an article published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science:
Increased longevity, expressed as number of individuals surviving to older adulthood, represents one of the ways the human life history pattern differs from other primates. We believe it is a critical demographic factor in the development of human culture. Here, we examine when changes in longevity occurred by assessing the ratio of older to younger adults in four hominid dental samples from successive time periods... there is a dramatic increase in longevity in the modern humans of the Early Upper Paleolithic. We believe that this great increase contributed to population expansions and cultural innovations associated with modernity...

Longevity, in particular, may be necessary for the transgenerational accumulation and transfer of information that allows for complex kinship systems and other social networks that are uniquely human...

However, whether the result of cultural factors, other forms of relaxed selection affecting the mortality of young adults, and/or biological change, the increase in adult survivorship would have considerable evolutionary impact... Increased adult survivorship strengthens those relationships and information transmission by extending the time over which people can learn from older individuals and by the increase in the number of older people, which promotes the acquisition and transmission of specialized knowledge such as that reflected in the Upper Paleolithic.

Not only does increased survivorship imply greater lifetime fertility for individuals, the investment of older individuals in their children's families may provide a selective advantage promoting further population increase.

Global warming may spell doom for the world’s most bio-diverse ecosystem

Peru’s cloud forests are some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. A profusion of tree and plant species as well as one third of Peru’s mammal, bird

Earth News

A 100-year flood or storm is an event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year.
Strange as it sounds, the deadly molasses spill in Honolulu harbor is not unique, and could take some time to clean up.
Scientists believe they've discovered the largest volcano on Earth! But, as big as it is, it's still not the biggest one out there. Trace looks at the greatest volcanoes in our solar system.
Satellite images show how record floods have swollen the Amur river in Russia , where more than 5 million people there and in China are being affected by rising waters. 
Two newly discovered aquifers in Africa could slake the thirst and vitalize the drought-prone Kenyan economy.
A recent genetic analysis provides evidence that seems to acquit humans of causing the woolly mammoth's extinction. Instead, it seems the climate committed mammoth murder.
Two new images from space show the violent effects of the most recent eruptions on the Indonesian island of Paluweh.

Family say dog tipped them off about abusive babysitter

A South Carolina couple say their dog sniffed out a baby abuser in their home, the woman who was supposed to be caring for their seven month old son. The babysitter, 22-year-old Alexis Khan pleaded guilty to assault and battery Monday afternoon in Charleston County Circuit Court. Benjamin and Hope Jordan hired Khan to babysit their son Finn last year after they moved to Charleston. They say Khan came up clean in a background check.
"We felt like Alexis was a good fit at the time," said Benjamin Jordan. However their confidence in Khan didn't last too long. "About five months into her being our baby sitter, we started to notice that our dog was very protective of our son when she would come in the door," Jordan said. "He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her." Thanks to their dog Killian, the now suspicious parents had a plan.
Hope suggested they place an I-phone under the couch and let the phone record what happens while they were at work. When the couple got home, they listened to the tape and were horrified what they heard. "It started with cussing," Jordan said. "Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up. To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day," said Jordan. Charleston City Police arrested Kahn a few weeks later, and she confessed to the crime.

Khan was ordered to serve one to three years in prison. As part of her plea, Kahn also will be placed on a child abuse registry, which means she is not allowed to work with children. "That is fantastic news to us. To know that maybe Finn's ordeal has possibly saved another child's life in the future," said Jordan. "Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife's instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the babysitter. You never know." Khan will be eligible for parole after serving one year of her sentence. The Jordans say their son is doing fine and has no lingering effects from the abuse.

Retro Photos



Snake wine drinker suffers bite

NewImage A Chinese woman reportedly suffered a snake bite when the reptile jumped from her wine bottle and struck her hand. Apparently, the woman from Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang Province had been drinking pickled snake wine to treat her rheumatism, but this particular snake was still living. Snake wine is a common curative in traditional Chinese medicine. More

What A Chatty Monkey May Tell Us About Learning To Talk

Scientists are testing whether the vocal agility of the Ethiopian gelada monkey came from hanging out in large groups, like being thrown into a daily cocktail party with lots of people you barely know.

Romania to Put Down Thousands of Strays

by Keno Verseck
Dog Attacks: Romania to Put Down Thousands of Strays
A deadly dog attack on a four-year-old boy in Bucharest has brought new attention to an old problem: Romania's hundreds of thousands of stray dogs. Government plans for mass euthanasia have animal welfare activists up in arms.  More. 

Baby elephant rejected by mom wept inconsolably, but is now OK

Zhuang zhuang (© EuroPics)
We would like nothing more than to offer this little elephant a hug and a tissue. The newborn calf reportedly cried for five hours, inconsolably, after being separated for a second time from his mother, who tried to kill him, twice.
Keepers at a wildlife park in eastern China, the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Nature Reserve, in Rongcheng, Shandong province, removed the calf from his mother after she rejected him, stomping on him. Hopeful that the injury had been accidental, they treated the calf and returned him to his mother's side. She turned on him again, so they again removed him. The calf wept under a blanket for five straight hours before keepers were able to console him.
"He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him," a keeper said, according to reports. All was not lost for the little calf, however. Named Zhuangzhuang, he has been adopted by the keeper who rescued him and they have formed a strong bond.

This Leaf Sure Can Fly

That's because it's not a leaf at all, but an incredible camouflage display by the moth Uropyia meticulodina. What's truly amazing about this moth is that its wings aren't just the same color and pattern as a dried leaf, but that they even are curled up like one.

Animal News

A common type of planthopper has mechanical gear wheels on its rear legs that allow it to jump with power and speed.
The United States has listed the southern white rhinoceros as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act.
The butterflies are likely attracted to the turtles' tears because the liquid drops contain salt.
The Ugly Animal Preservation Society now has an official mascot. And it lives up to its title.
Trapped by a polar bear, a resourceful man saves himself with a cellphone.
Orangutans make travel plans and tell their loved ones -- and their enemies -- where they're going.
An increasing number of dogs are wearing fake vests in order to gain access to restaurants, schools and other human-only places.

More Animal News

As a result of climate change, ticks are devastating moose populations.  "They can send a moose to its death, with up to 150,000 dining on every calf, cow and bull in certain parts of the Granite State, wildlife biologists estimate. There was a time when eggs laid in this age-old cycle perished on winter snow. But that hasn’t happened lately in New Hampshire... As the number of ticks explodes, moose have disappeared by the thousands in areas where they were most abundant. Many of those still alive are eerily thin, with rib cages visible through ragged skin. They are mere shadows of themselves, zombies with antlers."

Rattlesnakes (and other snakes) are important parameters in limiting the spread of Lyme disease by ticks.

A sea snail hatched and grew under the skin of a little boy's knee.

Animal Pictures


Mandrill on Flickr.
Via Flickr: Stanislav Khatsevich Photos