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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Daily Drift

Yeah, it's like that ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
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Today in History

741 Charles Martel of Gaul dies at Quiezy. His mayoral power is divided between his two sons, Pepin III and Carloman.
1746 Princeton University, in New Jersey, receives its charter.
1797 The first successful parachute descent is made by Andre-Jacqes Garnerin, who jumps from a balloon at some 2,200 feet over Paris.
1824 The Tennessee Legislature adjourns ending David "Davy" Crockett's state political career.
1836 Sam Houston sworn in as the first president of the Republic of Texas.
1862 Union troops push 5,000 confederates out of Maysbille, Ark., at the Second Battle of Pea Ridge.
1859 Spain declares war on the Moors in Morocco.
1907 Ringling Brothers buys Barnum & Bailey.
1914 U.S. places economic support behind Allies.
1918 The cities of Baltimore and Washington run out of coffins during the "Spanish Inflenza" epidemic.
1938 Chester Carlson invents the photocopier. He tries to sell the machine to IBM, RCA, Kodak and others, but they see no use for a gadget that makes nothing but copies.
1954 As a result of the Geneva accords granting Communist control over North Vietnam, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorizes a crash program to train the South Vietnamese Army.
1955 The prototype of the F-105 Thunder Chief makes its maiden flight.
1962 U.S. reveals Soviet missile sites in Cuba. President Kennedy orders a naval and air blockade on further shipment of military equipment to Cuba. Following a confrontation that threatens nuclear war, Kennedy and Khrushchev agree on October 28 on a formula to end the crisis. On November 2 Kennedy reports that Soviet missile bases in Cuba are being dismantled.
1964 Jean Paul Satre declines the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1966 The Soviet Union launches Luna 12 for orbit around the moon
1972 Operation Linebacker I, the bombing of North Vietnam with B-52 bombers, ends.
1978 Papal inauguration of Pope John Paul II; born Karol Jozef Wojtyla. The Polish-born Wojtyla was the first non-Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI died in 1523; he would become the second-longest serving pope in the history of the Papacy and exercise considerable influence on events of the later portion of the 20th century.
1981 The US Federal Labor Relations authority decertified the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) from representing federal air traffic controllers, as a result of a PATCO strike in August that was broken by the Reagan Administration.
1999 Maurice Papon, formerly an official in the Vichy France government during World War II, is jailed for crimes against humanity for his role in deporting more than 1,600 Jews to concentration camps.
2005 Tropical Storm Alpha forms, making 2005 the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record with 22 named storms.

Non Sequitur


The Office Hobo

My kids call my office "the place where Daddy lives," and judging by the amount of hours that I spend at NeatoHQ, they're technically correct. But I do go "home" to shower and sleep - not so for The Office Hobo, who lives - and we really do mean live - at his office.
One day last winter, The Office Hobo stopped by his office late at night after running errands to find that the place is nice and quiet - "No thumping bass from the upstairs neighbors. No security guard manning the premises, either. Someone could be here all night ... and not a soul would be wiser," he wrote in a blog post over at LA Weekly. Someone, in theory, could live in that office.
Then, over the summer, after a series of financial setback and the general feeling of being tired of paying rent, The Office Hobo revisited the idea of living in his office:
This is my experiment. It is rent boycotting. It is selective homelessness. I prefer to call it "home-free" living.
On Aug. 1, 2012, I packed my bags, secured a gym membership for shower access, and moved into my office. Save for a short hiatus of apartment living during the winter, I have been living there since.
I've chosen to remain anonymous to protect my company. None of my co-workers knows I'm living here. The people I work with are wonderful people; I want neither to accept their sympathy nor take advantage of their kindness. This presents a series of obstacles, and yes, I expend great energy to accommodate their schedules.
So far, The Office Hobo has been living in his office, secretly, for over 260 days.
But how does he do it? Where does he sleep? The Office Hobo offered a set of FAQs:
1. Where do you sleep?
I sleep on the floor behind my desk.
Initially, I had a twin-sized air mattress that fit perfectly behind my desk. But that mattress has since popped. For a while, I had been using my inflatable backpacking sleeping pad, but that became more trouble than the inch of cushion was worth. So instead of purchasing a replacement air mattress, I’ve been sleeping on some couch cushions. Since I’ve done so, I’ve had no back pain and have slept like a baby. A baby in an office.
As a backup plan, I sometimes take this setup to the walk-in storage closet. While hardly ideal, this lowers the likelihood of being caught in the act of not being awake.
2. Doesn't sleeping in your office suck though?
Yes and no. There is very little traffic in the office and the hours are generally predictable. The office has its own dedicated entrance, free parking, and is located near to the necessities. It has a sink and toilet, as well as a kitchenette. But it is a shared office. There are a series of cubicles and a handful of coworkers’ schedules to keep track of. So practically it requires some flexibility on my part. But so did paying over a grand per month in rent.
It's not all easy livin', though, like when his co-worker stopped by unexpectedly:
... back in March, when my co-worker stopped by unannounced to drop off a tray of files on a Sunday. Somehow, I managed to tidy my cubicle and bolt to the staff bathroom in a matter of seconds.
It was a close call. And hiding in a unisex washroom is, admittedly, a humbling experience. But the way I see it, inconveniences like these constitute my "rent." What others pay in earnings from countless hours of labor, I forfeit in sporadic exercises of self-deprecation. Having experienced both, I can't say my situation is any worse.
My situation just requires a little extra attention to detail. When I wake up in the morning, I always return my triple-sofa-cushion bedding to the same spot, zippers facing in. My belongings — the ones I haven't given away — are stuffed in odd corners of the office, placed one at a time over the first few weeks with frog-in-a-frying-pan success. I keep the fridge clear, opting instead to over-frequent the local sandwich shop and burrito stand. Sometimes I'll even run morning errands and show up "late for work."
The Office Hobo was content and happy to live the rent-free life, but then one day, he met a woman. A woman that he wants to be with ... and wants to be with him that night. Read what happened next over at LA Weekly's Arts & Culture Blog Public Spectacle, where The Office Hobo guestblogged.

Tide, Tuna and Fendi

How Costco Heaps Rewards on Shoppers and Investors

by Michael Santoli
Since Obamacare became law in 2010, big retail chains have been prominent among the private employers shunting workers off their insurance rolls and onto public health care exchanges. Home Depot (HD) and Trader Joe’s each announced such plans in recent months for part-timers.
Costco store: Credit AP 
Costco Wholesale (COST), though, went the other direction, creating a partnership last year with Aetna (AET) to offer personal-insurance plans designed to be cheaper than at the state exchanges.
While most retail executives are vocal in their opposition to a higher minimum wage, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek came out in favor of lifting it – a stance that echoes the warehouse-club’s longtime policy of paying its employees a starting wage well above the legal minimum.
One of the few complaints Wall Street has ever lodged against Costco – among the best-performing consumer companies of recent decades – is that it gives its employees and customers too good a deal. While sales growth has been stellar throughout the Issaquah, Wash.-based chain’s 30-year history, investors carp that its profits could be higher if it raised prices or squeezed employee pay a bit more.
But Costco, led in practice and spirit by co-founder and board member Jim Sinegal, holds firm to a philosophy that happy, loyal employees and customers who have faith that they are getting a great deal are a recipe for long-term success.
Bargain in the chicken aisle
Consider, for a moment, rotisserie chickens. In the fiscal year ended Sept. 1, the company sold 69 million of the plump, cooked birds, for $5 apiece – a price it has refused to raise over the past year and a half, despite surging costs for the fresh chickens it buys.
Quizzed about its value pricing on a recent conference call with analysts after reporting financial results, Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said simply: “That’s what we do.” The company avidly cultivates what it refers to as “absolute pricing authority.” This is the belief among its customers – who pay an annual membership fee to shop there – that Costco’s prices are reliably as low as are likely to be found anywhere, across every product.
The company has had a longtime policy of limiting its markup on all products to 15%. It keeps a fairly limited array of products in stock compared to such competitors as Walmart Stores (WMT) and Target (TGT), often carrying a single brand of a popular product, which gives Costco plenty of sway over suppliers to cut favorable deals on its goods.
As a result, Costco is beloved by customers to a degree rarely seen by big-box retailers. A Harris Interactive ranking of companies by brand reputation found Costco was the 10th most highly regarded company in America, and the top-ranked broad-line retailer. Worldwide, more than 86% of its customers renewed their membership last year. Among its key small-business members, the renewal rate was 94%.
Take a map
Costco has deftly struck a balance between a reputation for cut-rate prices on bulk necessities and the serendipity of encountering great values on luxury indulgences. The company boasts of the “treasure hunt” element of prowling a cavernous Costco warehouse, with a frequently rotating selection of discretionary items mixed in among the Tide and the tuna.
Coscto sold $1.4 billion in wine last year, more than half of that being what it classifies as “fine wine.” The “What’s New” assortment on the home page at www.costco.com recently featured a $1,299 high-definition home-security system, a $749 Fendi handbag and a $59.99 Swarovski crustal Christmas-tree ornament.
Wall Street has fondly embraced the Costco way and cheered its growth strategy. The stock is up more than 1,000% since the company went public in 1986, compared to about 600% for the broad stock market over that period, some proof that companies can do well for shareholders while doing good for customers and employees. Over the past five years, Costco has appreciated 130% to its recent stock price near $117, well ahead of Wal-Mart and Target. Its dividend per share, now at $1.24, has increased at an average annual rate of 12.7% since May 2004.
Premium shares
It’s a touch ironic that Costco, master of cheap prices for quality goods, has almost always had a stock that trades at hefty premium to its competitors’ shares, relative to their reported profits. The stock is now valued above 23 times anticipated earnings for the fiscal year ending next August, compared with 12 to 13 times for Target and Wal-Mart. Value-minded investors might wish for the stock to pull back a bit to give them a cheaper entry, but the stock has stayed chronically expensive – which has not prevented it from rewarding shareholders nicely over time.
This generous valuation bestowed on Costco, which now has a stock-market value of $51 billion, reflects investors’ confidence that the company can continue its methodical expansion, especially overseas, all the while gaining bargaining power with suppliers and growing membership briskly.
Management remains focused on the very long-term growth potential to bringing value pricing and the eclectic Costco shopping experience to the rest of the world. The company’s board is packed with visionary, patient stewards of investor interests, including Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s partner and vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) and William H. Gates, father of the Microsoft (MSFT) founder. (Susan Decker, president of Yahoo (YHOO) from 2007-2009, has been on the board since 2004.)
Expansion plans
The company has 634 locations, with 454 of them in the U.S. and the rest spread across Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia. Notably, Costco is focused for now on relatively mature economies with somewhat more well-heeled citizens.
It is big enough to be a powerful presence in retail, but not so big that it has nearly saturated its potential geographic opportunities. The company is on track to open 36 new warehouses through next summer, half of them outside the States.
Analyst Michael Exstein at Credit Suisse points out that Costco is a leader in sourcing its merchandise globally as a single entity (regardless of geography or online/offline channels). The company remains “singularly market share focused” in its global expansion, at a time when Wal-Mart, for one, has been scaling back its growth plans globally.
“With a clear strategy that has been validated over 30 years and has become increasingly accepted internationally,” says Exstein, “we believe that Coscto’s growth profile will be one of the highest” in the general-merchandise retail industry.

Did you know ...

That Joe the plumber wants a white repugican president

About the history of popcorn at the movies

That pills made from poop cure serious intestine disease

That body clock reset button has been found

System Failure US Democracy Is Nearing its Limits

A Commentary By Sebastian Fischer and Marc Pitzke System Failure: US Democracy Is Nearing its Limits
The United States has temporarily avoided federal default. As the repugicans lick their wounds, the Democrats are triumphant. But no one should be happy, because the debacle has exposed just how broken the American political system truly is.  More

Let’s Get this Straight, the Kochs Are Menacing, Soros is Benevolent

Wingnuts incessantly drone on and on about George Soros as a villain, when the Koch brothers are discussed. Who's the real villain? …
If you spend any time on political sites on the Internet, you have no doubt run into Joe or Jane Wingnut who believes that the Koch brothers are just good public citizens who get picked on because they contribute their money to wingnut causes. If you have the patience or the inclination to try to educate them by presenting facts, there is also a low chance of acceptance of the truth. About a New Republic article written by John Judis, “The Shutdown is One of the Worst Crises in American History, a commenter wrote:
“The hysteria over the Koch bros always reminds me of Soros, who spends FAR more money and has his fingers in more pies than the Koch bros could ever dream of. The man gives millions of dollars to over 30 “news” outfits. If you pull the strings at nearly every left-wing outfit, you find they lead to him and his money. So I have to laugh whenever a liberal whines about the Koch bros and the improper influence of money since they seem to find Soros just a harmless old philanthropist.”
This is classic wingnut misinformation. Together, the Kochs have approximately $68 billion dollars combined wealth whereas George Soros has $20 billion. Right away, common sense should prevail upon a conservative afraid of a Soros boogeyman that he doesn’t have the resources of the megalomaniacal brothers. Where does this misguided commenter get such nonsense? Where else but the conservative media-sphere, so well-known for its distortion, it’s become cliché. Visit Faux So-Called News or  wingnut blogs, and soon you hear that George Soros has spent “$550 million” since 1979 in the United States on liberal causes and fail to note that he has disclosed every dollar, because he believes in a transparent and open society. Conversely, just try and find a record of the Koch brothers’ donations to wingnut causes since 1979 without a full-time investigator.
They cry, his media influence is so great he “reaches 300 million people every month” (essentially the entire U.S.). Note: Most claims are made without references or citations. Even if it were true, all of Mr. Soros’s directly-owned media outlets are in Eastern Europe where he has advocated democracy, rather than communism, and an open society for decades. The money he donates to open journalism in the United States is all to organizations that promote news outside the mainstream, such as Think Progress, ProPublica.org or Democracy Now. The only media outlet he has given money to that has any far-reaching audience whatsoever is NPR, and I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear that they were reaching several hundred million people. So what are the Soros alarmists referring to when they say he has a media empire? Well, apparently, having journalists from mainstream news outlets sit on the board of some of his think tanks is proof that he is influencing mainstream news. Of course, any ordinary person would note that the mainstream media is owned almost exclusively by wingnut individuals and corporations, not the least of which is the infamous Rupert Murdoch. But these are the same people who believe there’s such a thing as the “liberal media.” According to Geoffrey Nunberg,
“In newspaper articles published since 1992, the word ‘media’ appears within seven words of ‘liberal bias’ 469 times and within seven words of ‘wingnut bias’ just 17 times. If people are disposed to believe that the media have a liberal bias, it’s because the media have been telling them all along.”
It would be just like a wingnut media to keep telling the American people that the media has a liberal bias, now wouldn’t it?
It hasn’t been updated since the 2010 election, but OpenSecrets.org did do a comparison of the relative influence of the Kochs and Mr. Soros. Bottom line, they are spending approximately:

Political Action Committee Spending (1989 to 2010)
Koch Industries: $12.1 million
Soros Fund Management: $0
 SuperPAC Spending (2011-2012)
Koch Brothers: unknown, but they even created their own SuperPAC
Soros:  $2.6 million*
*Alternative source from OpenSecrets.org
Individual donations to federal candidates, parties and political action committees (1989 to 2010)
Koch Brothers: $2.58 million
George Soros: $1.74 million ($3.9 million)*
*Alternative source for 2011-2012, similar numbers for the Kochs through 2012 are not possible to calculate, because post-Citizen’s United, they give their money to their pet groups like Americans for Prosperity who would then donate millions for them. Laundered donations, if you will.
Individual donations to 527 organizations (2001 to 2010)
George Soros: $34.2 million
Koch Brothers: $4.06 million
Lobbying Expenditures (1998 to 2012)
Koch Industries: $79.9 million
Soros Fund Management/Open Society Policy Center (Soros-Funded): $12.8 million
Think Tanks (1979-2013)
Koch Brothers: Multi-untold millions
(funds Freedom Partners, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Bill of Rights Institute, Institute for Humane Studies, Heartland Institute, Reason Foundation, FreedomWorks,  Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University Foundation, Mercatus Center, Institute for Justice, Institute for Energy Research, Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Generation Opportunity, American Enterprise Institute, Manhattan Institute, Ayn Rand Institute, The Federalist Society, Competitive Enterprise Institute, etc.)**
**Many of these are dark money groups that also fund elections without disclosing donors
George Soros: $550 million in the U.S., 8 billion worldwide in 70 countries
(Funds Open Society Institute, Center for American Progress, Institute for New Economic Thinking, Center for Public Integrity, Brookings Institute, the Democracy Alliance, Tides Foundation, etc.. These in turn fund numerous liberal causes like National Organization for Women, the Free Press, or ProPublica.org)
Koch Brothers: No one knows, but they pledged to spend $60 million on the 2012 election
Soros:  $1 million, given his openness about how he spends his money, likely not more
      George Soros has tried to influence American politics by making a great deal of individual donations to 527 groups. These are groups that advocate for candidates like MoveOn.org and those that get out the vote like America Votes. His actual direct donations to candidates and lobbying of Congress members are far overshadowed by the Koch brothers. In other words, he doesn’t try to buy the U.S. government. The place where George Soros primarily puts his money is into liberal non-profits that advocate for liberal positions. For example, he gives the bulk of his money to the Open Society Institute, which then gives grants to liberal causes ranging from marijuana legalization and reproductive rights to environmental protection and criminal justice reform. For example, he gave $100 million to Human Rights Watch. This is the mission statement for Human Rights Watch from their website:
 Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.
      He is particularly focused on using his wealth to uphold principles of democracy and an “open society.” An open society includes principles such as “regular, free, and fair elections”; “a free and pluralistic media”; “the rule of law upheld by an independent judiciary”; and “a market economy.” In addition, he is very open about how he donates his money, and discloses his contributions on the website of the Center for Public Integrity. It’s easy to see why he is the boogeyman of the right. How scary.
       In contrast, the Koch brothers put a huge portion of their cash directly into buying Congress members through lobbying, direct donations to candidates, SuperPACS, dark money groups, and astro-turfing (creating false grassroots movements). They want to play puppeteer to our legislature, and our governors, manipulating their votes on laws, and writing the bills they bring to the floor or those they squash. When they invest their money in non-profits advocating their positions, it’s organizations like Generation Opportunity. They don’t provide a mission statement on their website, but it goes something like this:
Prevent as many young people as possible from signing up for low-cost health insurance that would cover them in the event of a tragic accident or unforeseen illness that would devastate them or their families financially, possibly causing bankruptcy or taxpayer dollars. If necessary, we will ply impressionable college students with free beer to do it.
  The Kochs are particularly focused on taking government assistance away from people living in poverty, denying access to health insurance, spreading polluting energy practices like fracking, not only advocating/promoting the continuing dependence on dirty fossil fuels, but demanding corporate welfare to do it, voter suppression, and union-busting to name a few.
      Whether it is how they spend their money, aiming it all at pulling the strings of Congress or sending out armies of pundits to drone on and on with conservative talking points to the corporate media, how they hide where they spend their money, or the inhumane causes they support, the Koch brothers are menacing. On the other hand, George Soros is a man of personal failings, but when he gives back to society, he spreads democracy, a free press, human rights, a clean & sustainable environment, and he does it all with full disclosure of every dime he donates. All in all, it’s easy to see which are the real boogeymen.

Hipocrisy and Bullshit

Rick Perry, the man who hates Obamacare even worse than book reading, is now encouraging Texans to sign up for some of that there Obamacare

After years of trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act, Texas lawmakers are suddenly embracing President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment. On Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported that the state is shuttering a state-based health care program and encouraging Texans to sign-up for coverage in the federally-run health care exchange.
Okay, so the damn federal government of the United States of America, which Perry thinks is communist and fascist and socialist and some other words he’s heard on the radio, is now suddenly and very quietly good enough for Texans?

Today's Budget Brinksmanship Takes Cues From 1879's Ku Klux Klan

by Joshua Braver 
Like health care today, in 1879 the issue at stake was subject to ferocious public contestation. The Enforcement Acts had put teeth in the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed that the right to vote would not be denied on the basis of race. The Acts made it a federal crime to use force, bribery or intimidation to interfere with voting. More radically, it empowered the President to employ federal marshals to investigate violations and to dispatch troops to keep order at the polls. In the 1870s, President Ulysses Grant used this new authority several times, most notably to dismantle the Klan.
The reception of Obamacare and the Enforcement Acts is strikingly similar. Both laws split a polarized nation along partisan lines with its opponents claiming the law trampled upon state rights and the Constitution. In both cases, sustained opposition and poor execution shook the nation's confidence in the law.
After winning both Houses of Congress in the midterm elections of 1878, Democrats pledged to shutdown the government unless Hayes would accept the repeal of the Enforcement Acts. Although they had sufficient numbers to pass a repeal through Congress, they lacked the two-thirds majority necessary to override Hayes' veto. To circumvent Hayes, Democrats attached the repeal as riders to key Appropriation Acts. Between April 29, 1879 and June 15, 1880, Hayes issued seven vetoes.
The threat to defund the government shifted the public focus from the substantive issue of Reconstruction to the tactical one of using appropriation riders to overturn established laws. Hayes claimed that the matter was simply one of fair play, "the controversy is in no sense partisan and is not a question of race or color." This was ground on which Hayes could win. The "Battle of the Riders," as it came to be known, rejuvenated an ailing repugican cabal. Before Radical repugicans had called for Hayes to be "driven over, neck, heels, and boots," but now repugican clubs across the nation fired thirty-eight-gun salutes to the President.
After Hayes' seven vetoes, Democrats relented and passed clean appropriations bills. They included a face-saving measure to repeal the meaningless test oath, which required jurors to swear allegiance to the Union. The substance of the Enforcement Acts escaped unscathed. Whereas repugicans once dreaded the 1880 election, they now powered through to win the Presidency, retake the House, and tie with Democrats for control of the Senate.
Even as debt negotiations begin, House repugicans still maintain the government will remain shuttered unless Obamacare is delayed for one year. The Enforcement Acts controversy offers three lessons for our current predicament. First, the House repugicans' stand is self-defeating. As with the Enforcement Acts, our "Battle of the Riders" has shifted attention from the substance of the Obamacare to the tactics used to repeal it. The repugicans have lost a key opportunity to call attention to the poor rollout of the law and united the Democratic Party against their intransigence.
Second, Democrats must offer repugicans some face-saving measures to end this mess. In politics, the temptation to humiliate your opponents is strong, but this would be an egregious mistake. Just as Hayes accepted the repeal of the juror test oath, Obama must offer some symbolic gesture to provide repugicans cover.
Lastly, it is illegitimate to use budget brinksmanship to repeal a statute that was the central issue of multiple elections. The last time this happened, Democrats threatened a shutdown so that states' rights could trump the meaning of the Civil War and the right to vote. The similarities between the tactics of those Southern Democrats and today's House repugicans are haunting. Today's wingnuts should learn from history, and stop repeating it.

The repugicans Who Refused to Do Their Jobs Are Complaining About Getting Nothing Out of Shutdown

The repugican members of Congress and their wingnut talking heads are angrily complaining that they did not get anything for shutting down the government shutdown…
Boehner didn't get anything
Most Americans consider earning a decent wage for their labor a fair exchange between them and their employer, and likely their employer feels their outlay for wages in return for a day’s work an expense worth making. It is difficult to imagine an employee refusing to do their job while still drawing their salary and then complaining that they were disappointed they were cheated out of something over and above their salary. In the real world, an employee who refuses to do their job would be summarily terminated and certainly would not be paid. Over the past few days, repugican members of Congress and their wingnut talking heads angrily complained they did not get anything for shutting down the government and attempting to crash the nation and world’s economy.
The repugicans consider their work in Congress warrants greater recompense than their bloated salaries, and generally consider taking something from the people, retarding economic growth, and killing jobs as a fair exchange for them and their corporate employers. Extremist repugicans asserted they did not get anything for doing their jobs of funding the government and paying their bills, but they did receive their taxpayer-funded salaries, healthcare, and expenses while they held the nation hostage. However, they also got what they cherish most of all; causing Americans economic pain, and as a value-added bonus were able to inflict  more damage to the economy and kill more American jobs.
The repugicans always regarded taking things from Americans part and parcel of their dog-given duty as wingnuts, but it became their raison d’être early in 2009 after the people elected an African American as President. After taking control of the House in 2011, instead of creating jobs like they promised throughout the 2010 midterm election season, they immediately began taking away women’s rights, constitutional protection from evangelical domination, social programs, and various protections from predatory corporations and financial institutions. Still, it was insufficient for repugicans and they manufactured a serious fiscal crisis in the summer of 2011 that was such a bonanza they had to repeat it again in 2013.
The results of the first repugican debt-ceiling crisis was assessed by a former repugican Commerce Secretary and fanatical fiscal hawk, and his very comprehensive study revealed the high “cost of crisis-driven fiscal policy” repugicans have practiced since an African American man is the President. According to Peter G. Peterson, the perpetual manufacturing of partisan fiscal crises have created sufficient uncertainty to reduce growth since 2009 by as much as 0.3 percentage points annually that killed as many as 900,000 potential jobs every year. Add to that nearly one-million jobs lost to repugican’s cherished sequestration President Obama paid as ransom during the 2011 debt crisis coupled with reduced annual growth by 0.7 points since 2010 and they successfully increased unemployment by almost a full percentage point that meant another 1.2 million jobs lost that should have been sufficient payment for even the greediest repugican.
Peterson’s report examined two possible economic scenarios that a Treasury default would have produced, and at the least it would create a recession that would see unemployment rise to 8.5% and cost 2.5 million jobs, and a longer, deeper, “more volatile recession in which joblessness would rise to 8.9% and kill more than 3 million jobs.” The repugicans are looking forward to their next assault on the economy with an eye toward slashing discretionary spending more regardless their cuts have already reduced annual GDP growth by 0.7% since 2010, and raised the unemployment rate 0.8% that represents 1.2 million jobs lost to repugican crisis-driven economics. The full effects of the latest “crisis” will not be fully known for months, but thus far it cost the government $24 billion, cut GDP by nearly a percentage point, and killed as many as 400,000 jobs. One economist claims the shutdown will have “trimmed fourth-quarter growth by 20%;” an outcome any business would “consider a disaster.” The repugicans complain their deliberate “disaster” did not give them anything that they really wanted.
The extremist repugicans and teabaggers in the House and Senate feel so personally affronted they were forced to do their jobs without a big bonus, their leader Ted Cruz promised to lash out at the American people and their government again. According to the seditious conspiracy’s de facto leader Cruz, “this was going to be a multi-stage, extended battle I think is going to bring back jobs and economic growth.” However, for 44% of Americans who said the shutdown had hurt their families, including 19% who said it hurt a lot, Cruz’s reassurance can only mean the next crisis is going to be even more painful and for repugicans who measure “winning” by the level of pain they wreak on the people and the economy, the people should be quaking.
For repugicans to complain they did not “get anything” out of their government shutdown and damage to economic growth including killing jobs is an outrage. It is true that repugicans measure their success by the harm they cause the American people and the economy, but even the greediest repugican should be pleased they drew their congressional salary, cost the nation $24 billion, cut nearly a percentage point off of GDP, and killed hundreds-of-thousands of jobs adequate recompense for shutting down the government. However, it was not enough for repugicans and they intend to make up for it by heading into the next stage of their “work” resolute they will get “something big” for not doing their jobs when government funding runs out and the debt ceiling needs to be raised.
An overwhelming majority of Americans worried about the repugican shut down’s impact on the nation, with 71% saying the shutdown hurt the economy, and 73% saying it had hurt the country as a whole, and various economists’ assessments demonstrate the people’s worries are well-founded. What Americans should really be worried about is how much damage the next stage of Cruz’s extended battle will inflict on the nation, because if repugicans think costing the nation $24 billion, a drop in GDP, and hundreds-of-thousands of jobs lost was “not getting anything,” the people are in for a world of hurt because although congressional repugicans’ are employees of the people, they cannot terminate them for a year.

Wingnut Group Backs Challenge To 'Liberal' McConnell

Matt Bevin speaks during the 133rd Annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Aug. 3. Bevin, a Louisville businessman, is challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican Senate primary.
Matt Bevin speaks during the 133rd Annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Aug. 3.
Bevin, a Louisville businessman, is challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican Senate primary. 
Days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell helped negotiate a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, a prominent conservative group endorsed his primary challenger.
The Senate wingnuts Fund tea party favorite Matt Bevin Friday in Kentucky's 2014 Senate race, arguing he is "a full-spectrum wingnut with the courage to stand up to the Washington establishment" while McConnell "has a liberal record and refuses to fight for wingnut principles."
SCF has had McConnell in its cross hairs for months. In mid-September, the group launched a attacking McConnell for not doing enough to defund the Affordable Care Act. It also ran in August calling on McConnell to oppose funding for Obamacare.
Bevin could use the financial support from SCF, which during the 2012 elections, if he hopes to pull off the upset. He brought in just $220,000 from July to September, while contributing $600,000 of his own money to the campaign. McConnell raised nearly $2.3 million during the same period and has more than $10 million on hand.
SCF, which has ties to former South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation President , has made a name for itself supporting tea party challengers over repugican incumbents and establishment-backed candidates in Senate primary races.
The group appears to be revving up for the 2014 cycle with the shutdown now in the rearview mirror. On Thursday, the group Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel over six-term repugicn incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.
One of SCF's endorsements in 2012 went to Ted Cruz, who has become the leader of the fight to defund Obamacare in Washington, in his primary campaign against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Heartless Mitch McConnell Calls The Government Shutdown a Two Week Paid Vacation

Mitch McConnell (r-KY) how little he cares about regular people by calling the government shutdown that harmed millions of Americans, "a two week paid vacation." …
Transcript from Face The Nation:
SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We welcome to the broadcast the Senate repugican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senator McConnell, Jim Baker, the former secretary of state who led five repugican presidential campaigns, described this recent brawl over trying to tie the defunding of Obamacare to shutting down the U.S. government — he described it by recalling the words of a long-ago candidate who lost a Senate race in Texas who said, “We shot ourselves in the foot and then reloaded.”
Will you ever let something like this happen again?
MCCONNELL: You know, one of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of the mule occurred back in 1995 when we were — the repugican House shut down the government.
Look, shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy. I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is wingnut policy. A number of us were saying back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn’t. So there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.
SCHIEFFER: Well, how badly do you think the country was hurt by all of this?
MCCONNELL: Well, it certainly didn’t do the country any good to have, you know, both a government shutdown and a pending fiscal crisis right on top of it. But, look, we’re a big, resilient country. You just pointed out how the stock market bounced back immediately. I was pleased to play a role in keeping us from going to the brink. I think it was important to do the right thing for the country. And we did it.
Mitch McConnell was trying to spin the unpopular government shutdown to the folks back in Kentucky as a liberal policy, because it gave federal employees a two week paid “vacation.” Unlike a paid vacation, federal employees were not allowed to schedule when they were not going to be at work. These same employees were not paid while they were on “vacation,” and they also had no idea when they would be paid again.
McConnell is trying to find a way to spin the debt ceiling deal because his primary opponent Matt Bevin is accusing him of selling out wingnuts, “When the stakes are highest, Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out wingnuts. McConnell just negotiated the repugican cabal surrender to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.], leading the charge to give President Obama a blank check and lifting the debt ceiling once again without any spending reforms. Harry Reid has even praised McConnell for his ‘cooperation.’ ”
Sen. McConnell can’t tell wingnuts the truth that raising the debt ceiling avoided a potential economic collapse, so he has to invent the ridiculous excuse that the shutdown wasn’t wingnut policy. The shutdown was championed by wingnuts, and caused by wingnuts. This makes it a wingnut policy. Mitch McConnell negotiated the deal that ended the shutdown, which means that what McConnell did wasn’t wingnut.
According to McConnell the shutdown didn’t hurt anyone. The federal employees got a paid vacation, and the stock market shot back up as soon as they cut the deal. The Kentucky Senator is ignoring the fact that the shutdown cost the country at least $24 billion, and it threw millions of people out of work. In the world of millionaire Mitch McConnell, he was taking a stand against liberalism by ending the government shutdown
McConnell’s lack of empathy for the people and the nation that his party harmed with their government shutdown is a good reason why in November 2014 Kentucky voters should ditch Mitch.

An Insane Ted Cruz Claims He Had Nothing to Do With the Government Shutdown That He Caused

Seeing disaster and falling poll numbers, Ted Cruz is changing is story and claiming that he had nothing to do with the government shutdown that he caused.…

Ted Cruz Holds Wheeler Appointment Hostage to Protect Koch Money

The Kochs' lead hostage taker in the Senate is blocking Tom Wheeler's nomination to be chairman of the FCC.…
dark money
Since holding hostages to get what the far right wants worked so well for the Koch brothers and their corporate allies when they tried to deny Americans access to affordable Healthcare by blowing up the economy, they’re trying it again.  This time, the Kochs’ lead hostage taker in the Senate is blocking Tom Wheeler’s nomination to be chairman of the FCC.  Ted Cruz’s office confirmed that Cruz would release Wheeler’s nomination in exchange for a stop to transparency in spending on political ads, like that creepy Uncle Sam ad the Koch Brothers bought in their failed attempt to deny Americans access to doctors.
Of the secret $311 million dollars spent on campaigns in 2012, 85% favored the repugican cabal.
Cruz first demanded the ransom  during Wheeler’s confirmation hearing back in June.

Cruz: As you know there are few if any issues that inspire more passionate partisan divisions in this body this body has repeatedly failed to pass the DISCLOSE Act because a substantial number members of this body believe it is unconstitutional and bad policy in your judgment does the FCC have the authority to implement the DISCLOSE Act heard otherwise regulate political speech
Wheeler: I’m as I have said before on that’s an issue that I look forward to learning more about there is a pending proceeding on that exact question arm and and I need to look at that proceeding and become informed but I do not miss the expression on both sides love this DS as to the strong feelings and I know this is that this is an issue of tension
Cruz: Well mister wheeler as you know every repugican on this committee along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to your predecessor on this issue and you and I visited in my office you said you need to study the issue more I would ask you to submit in writing an answer to this question and I would notice you and I visited privately this is the one issue that in my opinion has the potential to derail your nomination
Wheeler’s nomination was on the Senate’s calendar Thursday, but remains blocked because Ted Cruz is protecting the Koch Brothers and their use of dark money for deceptive political ads.   Cruz’s office confirmed  that he was responsible for the obstruction. His spokesman, Sean Rushton,  admitted the reason was to protect the Koch brothers from ad funding transparency.
Yes, the Senator is holding the nominee until he gets answers to his questions regarding Mr. Wheeler’s views on whether the FCC has the authority or intent to implement the requirements of the failed Congressional DISCLOSE Act
In other words,  Wheeler handed the Koch’s and Ted Cruz another fail by refusing to meet their ransom demand so they’re going to retaliate by stalling the FCC’s ability to decide on issues like a planned auction of government television airwaves.
Obviously, preserving dark money advertising is so important to the Koch brothers, even the complete collapse of repugican cabal and tea party support isn’t going to stop them.

The truth be told


U.S. housing regulators seek over $6 billion from BofA

U.S. housing regulators are looking to fine Bank of America more than $6 billion for its role in misleading mortgage agencies during the housing boom, compared with the $4 billion to be paid by JPMorgan Chase & Co, the Financial Times reported on its website, citing people familiar with the matter.
A customer stands at an ATM machine at a Bank of America office in Burbank, California August 19, 2011. REUTERS/Fred ProuserThe FT said the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), pursuing claims on behalf of finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that back about half the existing U.S. home loans, are seeking the penalty. (http://link.reuters.com/muc93v)
FHFA and Bank of America (BofA) could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.
Countrywide Financial Corp, the mortgage lender acquired by BofA in July 2008, has cost the bank more than $40 billion in litigation expenses and other charges linked to its bad subprime mortgages. The bank set aside an additional $300 million for mortgage litigation in the latest quarter.
JPMorgan reached a tentative $4 billion deal with the FHFA on Friday to settle claims that the bank misled government-sponsored mortgage agencies about the quality of mortgages it sold them, according to a person familiar with the matter.
JPMorgan also reached a tentative $13 billion deal with the U.S. Justice Department and other government agencies to settle investigations into bad mortgage loans the bank sold to investors before the financial crisis, a source familiar with the talks told Reuters on Saturday.

NSA hacked email of Mexican president and drug-war reformers

A Snowden leak, discussed in detail in Der Spiegel, shows how the NSA broke into the email servers of the Mexican president Felipe Calderon's public account, and used that access to wiretap the president, cabinet members, and senior diplomats. The NSA described the program, called "Flatliquid" as "lucrative." A second program, "Whitetamale," also spied on senior Mexican politicians (including presidential candidate Peña Nieto), targeting efforts to change the country's disastrous War on Drugs.
Rousseff believes Washington's reasons for employing such unfriendly methods are partly economic, an accusation that the NSA and its director, General Keith Alexander, have denied. Yet according to the leaked NSA documents, the US also monitored email and telephone communications at Petrobras, the oil corporation in which the Brazilian government holds a majority stake. Brazil possesses enormous offshore oil reserves.
Just how intensively the US spies on its neighbors can be seen in another, previously unknown operation in Mexico, dubbed "Whitetamale" by the NSA. In August 2009, according to internal documents, the agency gained access to the emails of various high-ranking officials in Mexico's Public Security Secretariat that combats the drug trade and human trafficking. This hacking operation allowed the NSA not only to obtain information on several drug cartels, but also to gain access to "diplomatic talking-points." In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments.
The tone of the document that lists the NSA's "tremendous success" in monitoring Mexican targets shows how aggressively the US intelligence agency monitors its southern neighbor. "These TAO accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning -- we intend to go much further against this important target," the document reads. It goes on to state that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are "poised for future successes."

Mexican drug lord assassinated by killer clowns

Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, the eldest brother in Mexico's once-dominant Tijuana drug cartel, was shot to death by gunmen disguised as clowns at a children's party on Friday.
The 63-year-old drug lord was also known by the nicknames "El Pelón" (the baldie) or Menso, ("stupid/crazy"). He was assassinated by a man in a clown suit during a family gathering at an upscale resort in Cabo San Lucas, a popular tourist destination on the Baja California peninsula, state special investigations prosecutor Isai Arias told Associated Press on Saturday:
An official of the Baja California Sur state prosecutor's office told the AP that the costumes included a wig and a round red nose.

A portion of the Arrellano Félix crime family, in an undated photograph from the 1980s. Via El Universal.
"He was hit by two bullets, one in the chest and one in the head," Baja California state government official Isai Arias told press on Saturday. The motive for the attack and the gunmen's disguise are under investigation, he said. Mexican police report that the body was identified by one of his sons.
Mexican newspaper El Universal reports that the murder took place in the Ocean House ballroom at the Hotel Marbella.
The Hotel Marbella at night. Arrellano Félix was killed in the "Ocean House" ballroom at this resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Reuters reports that there was one gunman, with two male accomplices.
El Universal de Mexico has a backgrounder on the crime family. They were thought to be the most brutal, most bloody, and most powerful in Mexico for some time.
Arrellano Félix did time in US prison, then returned to Mexico.
From BBC News:
The former cartel leader was arrested in 1993 but released nearly 15 years later after spending time in prison in Mexico and the United States. His brother Eduardo was jailed in August in the US for 15 years after pleading guilty to money laundering. Security experts believe the Tijuana cartel is now run by his sister Enedina and her son Fernando, known as "The Engineer", according to AFP news agency.
El Universal quotes Brian White, his attorney, as saying that "his client's freedom was achieved after a reduction of sentence for good behavior."
As @andresmh pointed out to your faithful blogger on Twitter, there's a drop of bloody irony in this story: "Se lo cargó el payaso" is a vernacular phrase (a "dicho") in Mexican Spanish which literally translates to "he was carried by the clown" but means something bad happened to someone. It's like saying, "he's fucked."
As the top commenter in this news article noted, Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix was indeed mortally fucked by clowns.

Daily Comic Relief


New Orleans' Socialite Serial Killer

Atlas Obscura continues their 31 Days of Halloween series with a scary story from Louisiana history.
In 1831, Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her third husband Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie bought a fine house in downtown New Orleans. Madame LaLaurie made a lovely home and entertained the city's elite inside. But she developed as reputation for being abusive to her slaves when people noticed how skinny they were. She once had to forfeit nine of them for a cruelty charge. But New Orleans society had no idea how cruel she was until the fire.
Driven to suicide by LaLaurie's abuse, the 70-year-old cook (who was emaciated, despite being chained to the stove) set fire to the mansion on April 10, 1834. As the flames spread, a crowd gathered to assist LaLaurie and her guests escape the blaze. As LaLaurie rushed about salvaging her coats and jewels and possessions from the fire, the crowd began to wonder, why weren't her servants helping her? LaLaurie shrugged these questions off. As smoke consumed the upper levels, moans and screaming became audible from the street, and a group of over a dozen men formed to help the slaves, who'd clearly been locked away. Delphine staunchly refused to give the men the keys, and so they found their way through the burning home to the attic door, kicking it in to free the trapped servants. There is no way they could have anticipated what lay behind the door.
Here's a hint: Some of the slaves were still alive. If you dare, you can read the rest of the story at Atlas Obscura.

Dissecting A Human Body in Medical School

Those of a certain age will remember the opening sequence of the TV show Quincy, M.E. in which police in training observe an autopsy, and the trainees all pass out. When I spotted an article about medical students' first experience dissecting a human body, I couldn't help but think about how many would pass out. This article transcends that bit of comedy and looks deeper into the actual process of a gross anatomy class. The class begins with a video in which a future medical cadaver explains her reasons for donating her body, to underline respect for the bodies on which they will learn. It's an experience that cannot be replicated by text, MRIs, or computer modeling. Associate professor for gross anatomy Todd Hoagland remembers his first time.
"It was the first class I'd ever taken where the light bulbs kept going off," he says. "I had been a biology major, but I didn't have a sense of how it all fit together. This was like looking at a car as a whole system, instead of just getting all of the little pieces. It's seeing how the pieces all operate in a person. If you understand the big picture, all of the rest starts falling into place."

It is a fitting place to begin. Students start with the foundations they will use their entire careers — the map and the vocabulary necessary to communicate with anyone in medicine.

But gross anatomy also provides something less scientific. Students share an experience that will bond them long after they have graduated, entered practice and forgotten most of their time in medical school.

"This is an elucidation of death and dying," Hoagland says. "It's a way for students who have never experienced that to confront it."
The story follows a class of students through their dissections: what they do, how they feel about it, what they learn, and how it affects their vviews on death and their medical careers. There are also stories about those who donate their bodies so that others can learn to save lives. And along the way, you'll learn about the history and the technical aspects of medical school cadavers. The gross anatomy class ends with a memorial service for the donors.
From Table 1, Joseph Zilisch approaches the front of the room. Zilisch, dressed in his white lab coat, is more comfortable with a scalpel than a microphone. Still, he has volunteered to give the main student speech to a crowd of 250 that includes not only classmates and professors.

Also seated before him are relatives of the men and women the students dissected.

"By definition, death unites all living things," Zilisch says, "as a common denominator, a sort of debt to be paid for the amazing gift of life."

He tries to put into words the extraordinary closeness and the extraordinary distance they have shared, these students and their silent teachers.  
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel presents the story in four fascinating chapters. Each chapter has a few seconds of auto play music.

A Season With Swiss Cheesemakers

In Gruyères, western Switzerland, from mid-May to mid-October, the fifth generation of the Murith family produces its distinctive mountain pasture Gruyère cheese. Each wheel of cheese weighs between 25 and 40 kilograms, and takes a minimum of six months to mature.

The family produces 200 wheels each year to sell locally, using unpasteurized milk from their own herd of cows. Reuters photographer Denis Balibouse spent time with the Murith family over this past grazing season, capturing days and nights in the alpine pastures of Switzerland.

What Each Country Leads The World In

What Each Country Leads The World In is a map created by Doghouse Diaries. The map shows what every country is number 1 at. For example, the USA is number 1 at Nobel laureates and getting killed by lawnmowers. My country, the Netherlands, is number 1 at having the tallest people in the world.

The Museum Of Every Object You Can Probably Think Of

In the countryside province of Parma in Italy an unusual and one-of-a-kind museum awaits. The Museum Ettore Guatelli has an archive of more than 60,000 artifacts that bear witness to the lives and work of men and women, masterfully arranged within a beautiful old farming estate.

Everything from tools, toys, kitchen wares, musical instruments, thousands of tins, clocks and more. The collector and carer of all these objects was Mr. Guatelli himself, who lived his entire life on the estate until his death. The picturesque farming complex is now run by a private foundation that keeps his passion for the everyday object alive.



Second Sea Serpent Washes up in California

Second Sea Serpent Washes up in California
If good things come in pairs, the discovery of another giant, nearly mystical sea creature should portend positive things for a bunch of bewildered beachgoers who early Friday evening happened across the second so-called "discovery of a lifetime" in less than a week.
The 13-and-a half-foot-long oarfish, which washed up on a beach in Oceanside Harbor, Calif., is the second of the rarely seen creatures to be found in a matter of days.
"It's so rare to find in Southern California, especially in surface water," Suzanne Kohin, of the National Marine Fisheries Service said. "They thought it was a very rare event the first time, so these two events that we heard of in the last few weeks are the only ones I've ever heard of."
The first discovery was made by a snorkeling marine scientist who wrestled the dead 18-foot monster (with help) to shore near Catalina last Sunday.
"I was thinking I have no idea what that is and like it looks like a snake but it kind of looks like a giant eel," said onlooker Alexandria Boyle, who was one of a class of third-graders on a beach trip when the newest oarfish was found.
Boyle was among a crowd of about 75 who crowded around the creature as police were called, and waited around for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to come and collect the carcass.
Oarfish can grow up to 50 feet in length and live in depths of up to 3,000 feet. Little is known about their habits and life cycles, but the NOAA writes on their website they "probably only come to the surface when injured or dying."
When the first oarfish was found last week, the Catalina Island Marine Institute hailed it in a news release as a "discovery of a lifetime."
Mark Waddington, a school training guide with the Institute told ABC News he spotted another instructor, Jasmine Santana, trying to bring the fish to shore, and immediately jumped in to help, along with 15 to 20 others.
"I had heard of it in studies, but never thought I would see one in person," said Waddington, who was "beside himself" when he saw the size of the fish.
Divers inspecting a navy buoy in the Bahamas were the first known to videotape a five-foot long oarfish in 2001, claims the NOAA.
The terrifying-looking and toothless oarfish is also known as a ribbon fish, possessing bony, silvery bodies and bright red-crested heads. They are thought to have spawned ancient folk tales about sea serpents.

Police investigate after man woken by woman slapping him across the face with a mackerel

Police in Nyköping, eastern Sweden, are investigating a case of assault after a man was woken from his nap after being slapped by a woman using a mackerel.

According to the police report the man was sound asleep in his apartment when the fishy assault took place. His peaceful nap was rudely interrupted when the woman smacked him across the face with a mackerel.
In addition to the mackerel attack he alleges that the woman had stolen food from his fridge and also taken 2,000 (£190, $310) kronor from him. It remains unclear how the woman entered his apartment.

The two people, who are both in their 60s, are understood to be known to each other. "They might live together sometimes," Mikael Larsson of the Nyköping police said. A preliminary investigation is underway with the mackerel attack currently classified as assault.

Lady launches reptile reiki sessions

A healer has launched her first reptile reiki sessions where she practices the spiritual technique on reptiles to help them relax. Sonia Page from Brighton says: “It’s a very calming experience for them. Animals are very back-to-basic instinctive creatures and letting positive energy flow through them lets them get back to basics.”
Sonia, who used to work with adults with learning disabilities, has now qualified as a reiki teacher and uses Steven Farmer’s Power Animal Oracle cards to engage with creatures’ spiritual natures. Reiki practitioners believe they can transfer energy for self-healing and a state of equilibrium, and Sonia practiced reiki on her own pet tarantula while she was training.
Sonia, who owns two snakes and a gecko, said: “I’ve always had an interest in things of a spiritual nature and my love of animals led me to a teacher who introduced me to animal communication and healing. I’ve never looked back. I have shared reiki with both people and animals, including dogs, cats and horses.” She is currently treating a dog with behavioral issues by distance reiki. She explained that the Staffie, a rescue dog, lives in a house with five other dogs and finds it hard to relax because of all the barking.

“The dog lives in South London and I live in Brighton so I transfer energy to him by distance,” said Sonia. “First, I ground myself, then I have a picture of him in front of me and use reiki messages to send energy to him. His owner says she can see him relax as it’s happening.” Reptile Reiki by Sonia Page takes place every Sunday from 10am-2pm at Equilibrium Complementary Health Centre in Lewes, East Sussex.