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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Daily Drift

Ever had one of those days ....

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Meh ... !
Today is - Blase' Day

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Today in History

2348 BCE biblical scholars have long asserted this to be the day of the Great Deluge, or Flood.
1863 Union ends the siege of Chattanooga with the Battle of Missionary Ridge.
1876 Colonel Ronald MacKenzie destroys Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife's village, in the Bighorn Mountains near the Red Fork of the Powder River, during the so-called Great Sioux War.
1901 Japanese Prince Ito arrives in Russia to seek concessions in Korea.
1914 German Field Marshal Fredrich von Hindenburg calls off the Lodz offensive 40 miles from Warsaw, Poland. The Russians lose 90,000 to the Germans' 35,000 in two weeks of fighting.
1918 Chile and Peru sever relations.
1921 Hirohito becomes regent of Japan.
1923 Transatlantic broadcasting from England to America commences for the first time.
1930 An earthquake in Shizouka, Japan kills 187 people.
1939 Germany reports four British ships sunk in the North Sea, but London denies the claim.
1946 The U.S. Supreme Court grants the Oregon Indians land payment rights from the U.S. government.
1947 The Big Four meet to discuss the German and European economy.
1951 A truce line between U.N. troops and North Korea is mapped out at the peace talks in Panmunjom, Korea.
1955 The Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation in interstate travel.
1963 The body of assassinated President John F. Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
1964 Eleven nations give a total of $3 billion to rescue the value of the British currency.
1986 As President Ronald Reagan announces the Justice Department's findings concerning the Iran-Contra affair; secretary Fawn Hall smuggles important documents out of Lt. Col. Oliver North's office.
1987 Typhoon Nina sticks the Philippines with 165 mph winds and a devastating storm surge and causes over 1,030 deaths.
1992 Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia votes to partition the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, beginning Jan. 1, 1993.
2008 Sri Lanka is hit by Cyclone Nisha, bringing the highest rainfall the area had seen in 9 decades; 15 people die, 90,000 are left homeless.

Non Sequitur


Amazing Facts About Reading

How Books Benefit Your Mind and Body

by Lisa Collier Cool
Good news for book worms: curling up with a novel is not only a great way to relax—research suggests reading can improve social perception, empathy, creativity, and even math skills, among a host of other benefits.
Touted as a way to improve “mind-reading” ability, a recent study from the New School for Social Research found that reading literary fiction may enhance people’s understanding of the mental states of others.
The researchers ran a series of 5 experiments in which they asked participants to read either literary fiction, popular fiction, or nonfiction. After reading, participants took tests that measured social skills, such as the ability to guess other people’s feelings based on body language. For example, in one test, participants looked at pictures of actors’ eyes and tried to determine the emotion conveyed. Across all 5 experiments, people in the literary fiction group performed better on the tests, suggesting that literature buffs may have an edge when it comes to social perception.
Curious if your own literary tastes have made you a social guru? The New York Times offers a free test to see if you read emotions as easily as you read books.

Reading boosts empathy and math skills

Don’t feel left out if you prefer fast-paces dramas over high literature—two recent studies published in PLOS ONE found that readers who are “emotionally transported” into a story are more likely to experience a boost in empathy, which could last for up to a week.
The researchers assessed participants’ level of empathy before and after they were assigned to read fiction or non-fiction texts. In both studies, only the fiction readers who became emotionally invested in the story showed an increase in empathy. And empathy is well-worth cultivating, since it may be linked to improved longevity.
Reading for pleasure may be even more important for children, suggests a study from the Institute of Education of London (IOE) in the U.K. Using data from over 6,000 children involved in the 1970 British Cohort Study, researchers determined that kids ages 10 to 16 who read for enjoyment perform better in vocabulary, spelling, and even math, compared to youngsters who rarely read.
“It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help to improve children's maths scores,” Alice Sullivan, PhD, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But it is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.”

Books may bolster emotional and physical health

In addition to strengthening social savvy and math prowess, reading might also help to:
  • Enhance growth and healing in kids. Children’s stories can be used as a form of “bibliotherapy” to help kids cope with serious challenges, suggest researchers from Brigham Young University. For example, the American Cancer Society recommends Jennifer May Allen’s I Can Survive for kids with cancer, while Laura Hamilton’s recent release Lions Get Sick Too may offer comfort to children facing any type of major illness. Pictures books are also available to help kids cope with bullying, a parent’s illness, or the loss of a loved one.   
  • Slash your stress. Reading is one of the best ways to relax. In fact, in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex, it trumped other calming activities such as going for a walk or sipping tea. After just six minutes of reading, participants’ heart rates and muscle tension dropped to relaxed levels.

  • Open-mindedness and creativity. Recent research from the University of Toronto suggests that fiction may help readers to be more open-minded and comfortable with uncertainty. Moreover, the researchers noted that avid readers are better at thinking creatively and are less likely to make snap judgements.
  • Keep your mind sharp. Like other mentally engaging past-times, reading could help to slow memory loss as you age. Compared to those who take part in fewer brain workouts, people who frequently participate in cognitively stimulating activities may experience slower mental decline as they get older, report investigators in an online issue of the journal Neorology. Similarly, another study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found links between reading and other mentally stimulating hobbies and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Champagne Vending Machine

Moët & Chandon, a French champagne producer, is responsible for this vending machine at a Selfridge’s department store in London. For about $29 dollars, you can a 6.7 fluid ounce swig of the good stuff. Each little bottle is decorated with Swarovski crystals for extra high-falutin’ class.
It doesn’t take coins. You have to prepay for your bottle. But the good news is that it doesn’t just drop down door at the bottom. A golden robotic arm gently lifts it down to the dispensing door.
Your bottle doesn’t come with a glass. But really: were any of us considering using one anyway?

Did you know ...

About how the recovery isn't a recovery for everyone

That Microsoft and Facebook fund wingnut lobbying firms that pose as think-tanks

That there's a whole website dedicated to the many failures of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

AstroTurf floats

The Media Ignores the Good Things Happening in Our Economy

obama booya 
For those of you who are partial to reality, you’re going to get a real kick out of the President’s weekly address.
Here’s a hint “(I)f you look beyond those headlines, there are some good things happening in our economy.” Perhaps he’s referring to the surging markets, as seen this summer and fall with the DOW hitting a record high of 16,000 or the huge, record surplus in June.
Booya. The repugicans, and hence the MSM, do not want to talk about the good things happening in the economy. That’s why they’re so busy making Kardashian mountains out of tech glitches, and why before that they distracted you with Darrell Issa’s Benghazi and IRS witch hunts, all based on repugican aides telling stories to the media and the media buying it without sourcing it. If anyone faces the fact that this President cut the deficits by more than half, repugicans could no longer justify trying to use their austerity measures to kill Social Security and Medicare.
President Obama said our economy is moving in the right direction. He mentioned that we cut our deficits by more than half (by the way, in June we had a record surplus), businesses have created millions of new jobs, and we have taken significant steps to fix our broken health care system.
Watch here:
The President acknowledged that people must be frustrated with the government shutdown and the launch of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, “But if you look beyond those headlines, there are some good things happening in our economy. And that’s been my top priority since the day I walked into the Oval Office.”
The President is very aware of the vast and increasing income disparity and he has tried to address those issues with policies like ending oil subsidies, raising the minimum wage, investing in infrastructure and his jobs bill. None of these things have gone over well with the repugican cabal. “After decades in which the middle class was working harder and harder just to keep up, and a punishing recession that made it worse, we made the tough choices required not just to recover from crisis, but to rebuild on a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.”
But things are improving. Obama noted, “Five years later, we have fought our way back. Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months. Another 200,000 Americans went back to work last month.”
Another way Obama addressed the growing income disparity was through healthcare reform. So, even though the rollout was “rough”, he said “about 500,000 Americans are poised to gain health coverage starting January 1st. And by the way, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.”
He wasn’t done schooling the press and repugicans.
“And one more thing: since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by more than half. And that makes it easier to invest in the things that create jobs – education, research, and infrastructure.
Imagine how much farther along we could be if both parties were working together.”
And the velvet glove came off… “Think about what we could do if a reckless few didn’t hold the economy hostage every few months, or waste time on dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act rather than try to help us fix it.”
Yes, imagine where we could be if repugicans actually wanted to help this country – if they put this country and her citizens ahead of covering up the fact that they have no ideas.
That’s a lot of good news that we hear almost nothing about. Of course, Obama won’t be remembered for any of that if you believe the beltway press. Oh, no. He’ll be remembered for that time desperate Americans without health insurance had to spend hours trying to log on to ObamaCare exchange, because it’s so annoying when you can’t get everything you want right when you want it.
According to beltway logic, when these Americans finally have affordable healthcare for the first times in their lives, all they will be able to think about was the hours it took to log on. They will never forgive Obama for being half as irritating tech wise as trying to pay their credit card bills. When their lives are saved by having free mammorgrams or access to doctors other than the emergency room, they’ll only be thinking about that tech glitch.
The only way this conclusion makes any sense is if you realize that the beltway press has always had insurance and has no clue what the rest of the country is going through, so for them, maybe waiting a few hours really is the End of the World as they know it.
In reality, the political press was so busy being led around by the nose by fake repugican scandals that they never asked themselves what all of the hoopla might have been distracting them from noticing.
If the press were really concerned with political implications and Obama’s legacy, they’d have been telling you for months that the impressive economic news is more likely to be something Obama is remembered for given the near Depression he walked into when he took office. If they want to talk legacy, they’d dig into his stimulus to find the hidden nuggets of liberal paradigm changers. But that would be hard. Much easier to follow the repugican cabal’s playbook from accusation to accusation, never pausing to wonder why.
Obama will be the president who saved us from a depression, in spite of unprecedented obstruction from the repugican cabal. He will be the president who saw the financial collapse as a time to address the growing income disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and although many of these policies were blocked by the repugicans, the Affordable Care Act was a huge step forward in protecting the middle class and working poor.

Alan Grayson Obliterates The repugican cabal

They Have No Solutions They Just Want to Whine
Rep. Alan Grayson obliterated the repugican cabal on The Ed Show. He called the repugican cabal out for lacking solutions, and for being a party of whiners.
Rep. Grayson (D-FL) was discussing the repugicans’ lack of ideas on healthcare. Grayson commented on his statement a few years ago that the repugican healthcare plan for the uninsured is for them to die quickly. Grayson said, “Look, its been four years, I wish they’d prove me wrong. What is their healthcare plan? The only thing they even natter about is tort reform. Well. We’ve had tort reform in Florida, and thirty eight other states now for the last twelve years, believe me, Florida is not a medical paradise. Or they want interstate licensing of health insurance companies, so that the big ones can swallow up the little ones, just like fish and leave us in the hole. No, look they’ve got no solutions to any problems. They just want to whine. In fact that’s the real name of the tea party as far as I’m concerned. The whine party, because all they ever do is whine.”
Rep. Grayson demonstrated how Democrats can fight back and go on the offensive on almost any issue. The repugican cabal is so divided that they can’t agree on anything, which leaves them in a position of trying to defeat Democratic ideas with nothing. On healthcare, the repugicans have nothing. On jobs, they have nothing. On every issue, they have nothing.
The repugican reaction to the Harry Reid’s decision to go nuclear and reform the filibuster is a perfect example of how empty their cabal is. When they lost the ability to obstruct, repugicans started whining, and whining, and whining.
In order to defeat the repugican cabal, they must be exposed for what they are. A cabal of backseat drivers and endless whiners. Grayson handed repugicans their heads, and every Democrat in the country should do the same.

Smart Kid ...

The Last Straw ...

Lush Dimbulb Heinously Compares Filibuster Reform To Raping Women lush-dimbulb
Lush Dimbulb has gone too far, and must be taken off the air after he compared Harry Reid’s use of the nuclear option to raping women.
DIMBULB: Let’s forget the Senate for a minute. Let’s say, let’s take 10 people in a room and they’re a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. OK? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes, of the 10, to change the rule. Every now and then, some lunatic in the group proposes to change the rule to allow women to be raped. But they never were able to get six votes for it.
There were always the four women voting against it and they always found two guys.Well, the guy that kept proposing that women be raped finally got tired of it, and he was in the majority and he was one that [said], ‘You know what? We’re going to change the rule. Now all we need is five.” And well, ‘you can’t do that.’ ‘Yes we are. We’re the majority. We’re changing the rule.’ And then they vote. Can the women be raped? Well, all it would take then is half of the room. You can change the rule to say three. You can change the rule to say three people want it, it’s going to happen. There’s no rule. When the majority can change the rules there aren’t any.
Wingnuts in their endless self pity always compare whatever is happening to their white privileged selves to the worst things that can happen to a human being. Sarah Palin recently compared the national debt to slavery, but there was something particularly vile and vicious in Dimbulb’s comparison. His hatred of women reveals itself in the ugliest ways possible.
The repugicans being denied the ability to gridlock the Senate by filibustering nominees is absolutely nothing like rape. Rand Paul will never suffer physical and mental trauma because he can’t filibuster an Obama nominee. Ted Cruz’s life has not been forever altered because he now has vote yes or no on judicial nominations.
Not a single life will be ruined because repugican senators will have to do one tiny bit of their job. Changing a rule in the Senate is nothing like rape, but the fact that Dimbulb thinks it is demonstrated how out of touch with reality he is.
Lush Dimbulb adds nothing to the public discourse. He is a scourge and a stain on our nation’s political dialogue. There is a difference between free speech and hate speech, and Lush Dimbulb is peddling in hate.
Dimbulb’s comments were the last straw. He should no longer be allowed to pollute the airwaves with the raw sewage that spews out of his mouth. America is better than Lush Dimbulb. It is time to get this hatemonger off the air.

Faux News Exposes Panhandling Scammer: John Stossel

Ho Ho Ho! Faux News Exposes Panhandling Scammer: John Stossel

With the holiday season near, this Faux News segment is probably the most surreal experience you'll have this year. Watch as four rich white people have a morning chat about the evils of giving to the homeless...

Wearing a fake beard, Stossel sat on a New York City sidewalk with a cardboard sign asking people for help. “I just begged for an hour but I did well,” he said. “If I did this for an eight-hour day I would’ve made 90 bucks. Twenty-three thou for a year. Tax-free.”

Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who recently purchased a $4 million home in Greenwich, gasped in horror at the prospect of poor people earning $23,000 a year. Some people asking for money “are actually scammers,” said Hasselbeck seemingly oblivious of the irony that the only panhandling “scammer” Faux News identified was Stossel himself.
Seriously, Dude, is Faux News a subsidiary of The Comedy Channel?

Super-rich CEOs want Social Security Slashed

Because $1269 a month is just too much money
There's a new report, "Platinum-Plated Pensions: The Retirement Fortune of CEOs Who Want to Cut Your Social Security":
Business Roundtable CEOs’ corporate retirement accounts average $14.5 million—more than 1,200 times as much as the median retirement savings of U.S. workers near retirement age.
A retirement fund of $14.5 million, combined with Social Security, would generate a monthly retirement check for these CEOs of $88,576. That’s 68 times what a typical U.S. retiree can expect to receive.
Ten Roundtable CEOs (including four who are also Fix the Debt members) have retirement plans
valued at more than $50 million.
Three of these CEOs have retirement assets of more than $100 million:  John Hammergren of
McKesson, David Cote of Honeywell, and Mike Duke of Wal-Mart.
Duke’s $113.2 million retirement fund is more than 7,500 times as large as his employees’
average 401(k) account balance of $15,000.
But there is nary a voice in Congress or the corporate media advocating austerity for the super-rich. 
The average Social Security check is a measly $1,269 -- and remember recipients paid into the fund
and are being repaid their earnings in the form of barely livable retirement checks.
The CEO of Toyota makes 22 times what the factory workers get.
In America, the CEO usually makes over 1,000 times what the floor guys get.

Mike Huckabee Renews Assault on Sanity of a Living Wage

Huckabee complains that it is easy to spend somebody else's money; it is apparently far easier from his perspective to starve somebody else…
Mike Huckabee
In an email sent out to his supporters yesterday, Mike Huckabee attacked the minimum wage, saying that raising the current rate only “sounds” generous and that it will in fact hurt small business owners and put the people it is meant to help out of work. Oh those poor misguided godless liberals.
But wasn’t it Mike Huckabee who, in 2006, signed a $1.10 minimum wage increase (from $5.15 to $6.25 an hour) into law in his own state of Arkansas at the urging of the National Council of Cults? godless liberals indeed:
The people of Arkansas in overwhelming numbers agreed that raising the minimum wage was the right thing to do,” said the Rev. Steve Copley, who spearheaded the coalition to persuade the legislature to take action. “The polls showed that Arkansans believe it is wrong for anyone who works hard and plays by the rules to earn a wage so low that they are in poverty.
Oh dear. The National Council of Cults even called it a “love-overdue raise.” Copley called it a “moral issue.”
Oh dear, oh dear.
The government-hating anarchists over at the Club for Growth were less than amused, of course calling Huckabee a liberal.
And as so often happens with wingnuts, Huckabee is arguing against a position that is increasingly popular. In 2006, 87 percent of Arkansans supported an increased state minimum wage, and, as a February 2012 poll demonstrated, 73 percent of Americans supporting a federal minimum wage of $10/hr, indexed to inflation, while a November 11, 2013 Gallup poll showed 76 percent support for a minimum wage hike to $9/hr.
The federal minimum wage currently stands at a miserly $7.25/hour, or $14,500/year for a full-time employee. This rate went into effect on July 24, 2009 and the effective buying power of that $7.25 is less than 1981′s minimum wage of $3.35/hr, which would have a buying power today of $8.61 according to Politifact.com.
No wingnut alive today can explain how a worker today should be paid less than in 1981, or how that worker should make ends meet…well, okay MacDonald’s helpfully suggests their employees break their food up into small pieces and that they sell their Christmas presents for money.
Each state has its own minimum wage laws. My own state of Illinois has a state minimum wage of $8.25/hr. And of course, according to The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), some employees (seasonal workers, babysitters, and others) are exempt from minimum wage requirements.
President Obama campaign in 2008 on a pledge to raise the mimimum wage to $9.50/hr by 2011. In his state of the union address in February 2013 he called for a federal minimum wage of $9.00/hr or $18,000/yr by 2015, which, as CNN Money explained, “is still below the poverty level for a family of four.”
Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. … So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.
The president is now backing a measure (the Harkin-Miller proposal) which takes inflation into account and which would raise the minimum wage to a still wholly inadequate $10.10/hour.
Huckabee, of course, tries to sound reasonable while ignoring all the facts (which, admittedly, is probably the best strategy when all those facts are against you):
Raising the minimum wage to $15, or more in some cases, is an issue that you don’t have to declare yourself a socialist to back. It’s becoming more popular, because it sounds so generous and so easy. Being generous with other people’s money is always easy. It’s true that a lot of people on the lower end of the pay scale are having a tough time these days. But in many cases, small business owners who pay the minimum wage for entry level workers are putting in so many hours and taking so little out that they’re lucky to make minimum wage themselves. If they have to double what they’re paying their employees, they’ll have no choice to fire half of them. And that doesn’t really help the workers.
In fact, small business owners “are divided about raising the national minimum wage to $9.50 an hour from its current $7.25. Forty-seven percent would approve of a law that would do this, while 50% would disapprove,” according to a new Gallup poll. And never mind the little fact that two-thirds of those making minimum wage work for companies that employ 100+ people. Further, CFO.com reports that,
A 2006 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization, concluded that, historically, increases in the minimum wage benefit small businesses from a “combination of higher productivity through improved worker retention and savings on recruitment and training. There may also be a ‘Henry Ford’ effect at work: if you pay workers more, they can buy more, boosting the overall economy, especially among small retail businesses.”
Huckabee says, “Of course, many of the same people who promote a much higher minimum wage also favor more government benefits for the unemployed.”
He says this like it is a bad thing, a society wanting to take care of its own, to make America a place where employees are not only paid a living wage but where those who are unable to find work are not made to starve. Republicans insist all these children be born but they have no interest in feeding those children once born.
Sometimes – okay, quite a bit of the time – Republican arguments are just absurd. In a 2012 report by the Cato Institute, authored by Mark Wilson, it was argued (among other things) that being forced to pay higher wages will encourage employers to automate their employees right out of a job. Mike Huckabee likes this solution too, saying “As tough as it might be for low-skilled workers to survive on a fast food job, imagine how much tougher it would be with NO fast-food jobs.”
While we’re on the subject of the absurd, we already know from David Barton that jesus opposed the minimum wage (based on his incredibly flawed reading of Matthew 20:1-16) and that Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour – and Mike Huckabee, all agree with him, so it’s no wonder Huckabee has renewed his opposition. After all, it was Huckabee, who, when he was not rooting for rapists, said that Americans should be forced at gunpoint to listen to David Barton in the first place.
Of course, as always, Barton – and therefore Huckabee – is wrong about this biblical verse. As New Testament scholar Geza Vermes writes, “The god of jesus is comparable to a warm-hearted and generous employer, like the owner of a vineyard who is ready to overpay some of his hired laborers” (The Authentic Gospel of jesus, 2003:413). This has nothing to do with America’s corporatists who are as far from generous and warm-hearted as can be, and who far from overpaying their laborers are intent on underpaying them. Leave it to Barton to draw the wrong conclusions.
The Heritage Foundation falsely claims that Obama has already effectively raised the minimum wage by way of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The repugicans also often claim that higher wages will not only slow job creation but cause layoffs and cost companies money, a myth economists have dispelled, the Center for American Progress noting that, “The argument that a higher minimum wage will be a job killer simply doesn’t pass the sniff test of basic economic arithmetic, and is contradicted by reams of serious economic research.” Finally, they claim that the minimum wage is effectively a tax on employers.
The repugican attitude toward questions about raising the minimum wage is to tell the questioner to “get a job,” which, while a neat dismissal, does nothing to answer the question or to even address the problem. This is all too typical of modern-day repugicanism in general, whatever the question.
Since you have to figure that since at least SOME of Huckabee’s constituents are hobbling by on the current minimum wage this message will become an increasingly difficult sell. I mean, how do you convince people who can’t afford three square meals to support limiting their own income? You have to be incredibly stupid to think corporations can’t afford to pay a living wage. They just have to give up a little bit of their profits to do it.
From the Center for American Progress:
Businesses could also give up some of their handsome profits to pay for the minimum-wage increase. Profits of nonfinancial corporations rose by 124 percent from their trough in December 2008 to September 2012, the latest quarter for which data are available.[4] The entire minimum-wage increase—averaging 11.2 percent for current workers affected by the minimum-wage raise—would have amounted to just 2.4 percent of annualized nonfinancial corporate profits in 2011.[5] U.S. businesses would remain immensely successful, even if paying a higher minimum wage affects their bottom line.
They’re not going to go out of business by paying people more but they might go out of business by refusing to do so. A study shows that Walmart could pay its employees $25,000/r without having to raise prices. And in fact companies like Walmart are slowly killing themselves by refusing to pay their employees a living wage because nobody can afford to shop there anymore. I used to work in retail management in my younger days; I could not afford to shop where I worked, even as a manager.
Huckabee complains that it is easy to spend somebody else’s money; it is apparently far easier from his perspective to starve somebody else, including children, and since he also opposes the Affordable Care Act, to let them die as well.
The whole wingnut argument revolves around protecting the profits of corporations and the rich based on the false assumption that wealth trickles down. Though disproven again and again, these stalwart servants of corporate America want you to think that while the federal government will enslave you that the CEO and Board of Directors will set you free. Don’t drink that Kool-Aid because it just ain’t so.

The Truth Be Told

Professional chicken catcher fired over his bad attitude

Professional chicken catcher Joshua Spickler was fired in January over what his ex-employer said was a bad attitude.

On Thursday, Commonwealth Court concluded that was enough to deny the Northumberland County man unemployment compensation benefits, too, on grounds that his supposed negativity constituted willful misconduct. The state court turned aside Spickler's arguments that the evidence his attitude had declined to the point where it was negatively affecting co-workers at B&B Catching Services Inc. was nothing but hearsay.
According to court filings, Spickler worked at B&B in Dornsife, Pennsylvania, for nearly five years. His former employer claimed his attitude started going downhill after he and co-workers were told in May 2012 that their bonuses would be reduced because of a downturn in business. Spickler's alleged poor attitude resulted first in his demotion from a crew chief post. His employers claimed he started refusing orders, cut up a company gas card and spoke ill of the firm to fellow employees.

He was warned that he could be fired if he didn't change his ways, B&B officials claimed. In upholding the jobless benefit denial, Commonwealth Court noted that several B&B officials testified that Spickler had a negative attitude that adversely affected his co-workers, so there was "substantial evidence" that was the basis for his firing.

Bus Driver Takes Weapon From Kid and Loses Job

How to best monitor safety on a school bus? 
OK, time for a pop quiz: As a schoolteacher or an administrator, you should deal with safety issues by (a) always following proper protocol to the letter, or (b) using common sense based on the particular situation at hand. The answer, according to an Ohio school district that has severed ties with a bus driver over how he handled a student with a knife, appears to be (a) — though a leading national school safety expert disagrees.

The trouble went down last week, when new substitute school-bus driver Dennis Kaliszewski, 60, was driving kids home from Pleasant Valley Elementary School in Parma. Though Yahoo Shine could not reach him for comment, the driver told Cleveland.com that he was heading to his first stop when “it seemed as though the entire bus of students started to yell that a young boy had a knife in his possession.” He says he then pulled over and told the boy, who was probably between 8 and 10 years old, that the bus wouldn’t move until he handed over his knife. After a few promptings by Kaliszewski, the boy eventually brought his small pocketknife up to the driver, who then continued his route.

“I feel I defused the situation and eliminated any danger,” notes Kaliszewski, who says he believed the boy was showing off rather than threatening anyone. Later on during the route, when a parent asked Kaliszewski why the bus was behind schedule, he explained what had happened; he adds that when he returned the bus to the garage, he looked for his supervisor to report the situation, but found she had left for the day, and he followed suit. He then wrote a formal letter to his supervisor, documenting what had taken place.

The next morning, Kaliszewski was called in to the school and told he would not be driving for the district anymore, Cleveland.com reports. As an on-call sub, not an employee, he was not technically fired, Parma City School District spokesperson Erin Gadd tells Yahoo Shine. Rather, she says, he “simply will not be asked to work again.”

A letter sent home to parents, according to Cleveland.com, explains that Kaliszewski failed to follow district protocol. Gadd won’t explain what the protocol entails, and says she can’t comment on the situation further due to district policy. But Kaliszewski tells the website that during his three months of training, he was told, in the case of a student with a weapon, to stop the bus, tell kids there was a mechanical problem, and call the police.

But the driver notes that he used “common sense” with his judgment, and says he plans to contact a lawyer about how he’s been treated.

He makes good points, according to Ken Trump, president of the private National School Safety and Security Services firm, located in Cleveland. “If the driver’s comments are accurate — and I know there are two sides of every story — then I think he has a legitimate grievance,” Trump tells Yahoo Shine. “I understand the importance of having protocol and being concerned about the safety of everyone. That said, just as with police officers on the street and a school principal who has rules, when it comes to safety situations, there needs to always be room for discretion because every scenario doesn’t fit one script.”

Trump adds that it seems Kaliszewski used common sense, stayed calm and got the situation under control quickly, and that the student was compliant. “Our bus drivers have one of the most challenging and difficult jobs in the schools,” he notes. “Would they treat a principal or assistant principal who had not followed a script to the T in the same fashion? I would lay down some money he wouldn’t be terminated on the spot.”

Further, Trump says, “I’m wondering if perhaps the district’s greatest angst rests with the fact that he mentioned it to a parent. Some districts are very image-conscious.”

Couple nearly stabbed after complimenting man's umbrella

A kind word nearly got two people stabbed at a Seattle bus stop on Monday afternoon .
The victims were waiting at for a bus in Greenwood at around 12:35pm when they complimented a man sitting at the bus stop on his umbrella.

According to the police report for the incident, the suspect immediately jumped up off the bench and started yelling at the victims. The victims later told officers they thought the suspect was kidding until he pulled a 12-inch knife out of his backpack and started swinging it at them.

According to the report, the suspect said, "Greenwood is my neighborhood, and I could kill you both," before swinging the knife close enough to slice a hole in a plastic water bottle one of the victims was holding, narrowly missing her hand. The suspect walked off, but officers were able to catch up with him about six blocks away. He was arrested and both his knife and umbrella were taken as evidence.

Man named Angel claims he was set up by the devil

A 36-year-old man said he was "set up by the devil" before breaking into and robbing an Arizona City house on Monday.

Pinal County sheriff's deputies said Angel Meza from Eloy was seen running through an Arizona City neighborhood carrying a gun after the homeowner called at about 4pm to report a strange man in her house.
Deputies said Meza tried to load his gun while being chased, but ended up dropping the loaded magazine before he was caught and arrested, a Pinal County sheriff's spokesman said. Deputies said they found items allegedly stolen from the house on Meza when he was searched.

The gun, which deputies said was stolen, and the magazine were recovered. Meza, who said it was the devil's work that he broke into the house, is being held in the Pinal County Jail on suspicion of residential burglary, trespassing, theft and misconduct involving a weapon.



What you’re worth helps determine how long you’ll live

Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson writes: "Today, obesity is the scourge that stalks the African-American population (as with most Americans). But it wasn’t so long ago that HIV/AIDS and infant mortality were top of mind for blacks."
Money may not buy love, but it certainly helps you live longer. Wealth is one of the factors that contribute to disparities in health and longevity according to a report published in a Nov. 22, 2013 supplement to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication. Race, sex, education, and geographic location are other key factors.
Dr. Chesley Richards, director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Scientific Services was the originator of the report: Health Disparities Persist in America.
"The purpose of the report is to highlight disparities in health that still exist in the country.”
The NIH’s National Cancer Institute also helps to define the groups of people that have some of the highest disparities with regard to health, and consequently higher rates of illness and death.
“Many different populations are affected by disparities. These include
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Residents of rural areas
  • Women, children, the elderly
  • Persons with disabilities”
The CDC includes 29 different categories in their weekly morbidity and mortality report, with 10 additional categories added for this report on health disparities.
A summary of the findings include a list of diseases and conditions and the area of the population most likely to be effected. Comments by the author are enclosed in parentheses.
  1. The rate of teen births has dropped overall by 18% from 2007 to 2010 with the biggest reductions among whites, blacks and Hispanics. (Public information campaigns, contraception education and contraception use have helped reduce the rate of teen births.)
  2. Job related injuries and sickness were highest among low wage earners with limited education. Hispanics made up a larger part of this group, as well as foreign born workers. (Poor people will take high risk jobs to survive, and they often have no recourse regarding unsafe working conditions.)
  3. Binge drinking is most common among those 18 to 34 years old, with whites making up a majority and those with higher incomes. (This population includes a lot of male college students.)
  4. Tuberculosis has declined by 58% from 1992 to 2010, but TB is still high among racial and ethnic minorities and foreign-born residents. (The lack of testing and treatment among the poor for TB will be helped with the preventative measures included in the Affordable Care Act.)
  5. Diabetes is most prevalent among Hispanics, blacks and those with low incomes and education levels. (It is much less expensive to eat a diet high in carbohydrates than one high in protein and fresh vegetables. Diabetes is often related to obesity, which also ties back to a high carbohydrate diet. There is a genetic factor involved with diabetes that combines with dietary issues related to income that makes many Hispanics and blacks at high risk for diabetes.)
  6. Infant death rate for blacks is more than double that of whites. (This is related to prenatal care and diet, the age of the mothers, and the environment of the infant after release from the hospital.)
  7. Suicide is about four times higher in men than in women. This applies to all age groups, race and ethnicity. American Indians, Alaskans and whites have the highest rates of suicide.
  8. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, with blacks about 50% more likely to die of heart disease or stroke than whites. (The reasons for higher death rates of blacks versus whites are a combination of genetic factors, diet, access to testing, and access to treatment.)
This report has added 10 additional variables in the analysis of what is causing the disparity of health care. Comments by the author are enclosed in parentheses.
These areas include the following:
  1. Access to healthy foods (Low income is a key factor.)
  2. Activity limitations due to chronic diseases (leading to obesity and loss of physical functionality)
  3. Asthma attacks (often caused by pollution or indoor contaminants)
  4. Fatal work-related injuries and illnesses (due to poor safety conditions and bad work environments)
  5. Non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses (due to poor safety conditions and bad work environments)
  6. Health-related quality of life (leading to people stopping treatment rather than undergoing painful or debilitating procedures)
  7. Gum disease in adults (Congress specifically excluded dental care under Medicare for nearly all procedures. The ACA includes dental care for children under the Essential Health Benefits provision.)
  8. Living close to major highways (This is primarily due to high levels of airborne pollutants from automobiles and trucks.)
  9. Tuberculosis (The enhanced preventative services of the ACA will help in the detection and treatment of TB.)
  10. Unemployment (The unemployed have not been able to afford health insurance. With the government subsidies that are based upon income being a part of the ACA, the health care disparity will be reduced, but not eliminated.)
There is also the need to collect more consistent health data that have been lacking in surveys, such as disability and sexual orientation, the authors noted.
Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center had these additional comments about the CDC’s report on health disparity.
"This report is a timely reminder that the United States has vast resources that are very unevenly distributed. We have huge disparities in health, because we have huge disparities in everything from income to education. We will best eliminate health disparities not by improving disease care, but by improving equity.”
The difficulties that have occurred in signing up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has overshadowed the impact that the ACA will have on reducing the disparity in health care.
The key provisions of the ACA to provide testing for diseases like diabetes and heart disease will provide for quicker diagnosis and treatment, with a long-term benefit of reducing overall health costs. Provision for birth control, along with prenatal care in the ACA requirements, will also impact the rate of teen births and infant mortality.
The reasonable expectation is that people will take advantage of the preventive services provided by the Affordable Care Act and the overall health of the nation will improve.

Neanderthal viruses found in modern Humans

Ancient viruses from Neanderthals have been found in modern human DNA by researchers at Oxford University and Plymouth University.
Neanderthal viruses found in modern Humans
DNA of ancient viruses spotted in the Neanderthal genome has
been identified in humans [Credit: Reuters]
The researchers compared genetic data from fossils of Neanderthals and another group of ancient human ancestors called Denisovans to data from modern-day cancer patients. They found evidence of Neanderthal and Denisovan viruses in the modern human DNA, suggesting that the viruses originated in our common ancestors more than half a million years ago.

This latest finding, reported in Current Biology, will enable scientists to further investigate possible links between ancient viruses and modern diseases including HIV and cancer, and was supported by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council (MRC).

Around 8% of human DNA is made up of 'endogenous retroviruses' (ERVs), DNA sequences from viruses which pass from generation to generation. This is part of the 90% of our DNA with no known function, sometimes called 'junk' DNA.

'I wouldn't write it off as "junk" just because we don't know what it does yet,' said Dr Gkikas Magiorkinis, an MRC Fellow at Oxford University's Department of Zoology. 'Under certain circumstances, two "junk" viruses can combine to cause disease -- we've seen this many times in animals already. ERVs have been shown to cause cancer when activated by bacteria in mice with weakened immune systems.'

Dr Gkikas and colleagues are now looking to further investigate these ancient viruses, belonging to the HML2 family of viruses, for possible links with cancer and HIV.

'How HIV patients respond to HML2 is related to how fast a patient will progress to AIDS, so there is clearly a connection there,' said Dr Magiorkinis, co-author of the latest study. 'HIV patients are also at much higher risk of developing cancer, for reasons that are poorly-understood. It is possible that some of the risk factors are genetic, and may be shared with HML2. They also become reactivated in cancer and HIV infection, so might prove useful as a therapy target in the future.'

The team are now investigating whether these ancient viruses affect a person's risk of developing diseases such as cancer. Combining evolutionary theory and population genetics with cutting-edge genetic sequencing technology, they will test if these viruses are still active or cause disease in modern humans.

'Using modern DNA sequencing of 300 patients, we should be able to see how widespread these viruses are in the modern population. We would expect viruses with no negative effects to have spread throughout most of the modern population, as there would be no evolutionary pressure against it. If we find that these viruses are less common than expected, this may indicate that the viruses have been inactivated by chance or that they increase mortality, for example through increased cancer risk,' said Dr Robert Belshaw, formerly of Oxford University and now a lecturer at Plymouth University, who led the research.

'Last year, this research wouldn't have been possible. There were some huge technological breakthroughs made this summer, and I expect we'll see even greater advances in 2014. Within the next 5 years, we should be able to say for sure whether these ancient viruses play a role in modern human diseases.'

Daily Comic Relief


The Towers Of Kaiping

Throughout Kaiping County in China are scattered hundreds of fortified multi-storey towers called Diaolou. Built of stone, brick or concrete, these buildings represent a complex and flamboyant fusion between Chinese and Western architectural styles.

During the Qing Dynasty of late 19th and early 20th centuries, these buildings were used as temporary refuge by several families or residential towers by individual rich families and as fortified residences and watch towers. Today, approximately 1,833 Diaolou remain standing in Kaiping, and approximately 500 in Taishan.

Giant caves in Slovenia are like an underground Grand Canyon

If you've ever wondered what the Grand Canyon would look like underground, a visit to the Škocjan Caves may be in order. The series of cavernous chambers in Slovenia is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and receives 100,000 visitors a year. Its deep chasms and soaring walls have led to the place being called the "underground Grand Canyon."
Believed to be among the world's largest underground canyons, the location is like a tremendous bat cave (more on that in a moment).
Although the giant subsurface wonder is nowhere near the size of the actual Grand Canyon, the cathedral-like spaces are still something to behold. "You'll realize that you could fit a fat 45-story skyscraper in this subterranean world," writes travel blogger Francis Tapon.
The Reka River rushes through the bottom of the limestone chasm and can be viewed from a footbridge, nearly 150 feet high. Lonely Planet says it is "surely the highlight of the trip."
Stalagmites and stalactites fill the cave in the dry area called Great Hall. Some are so big they've been named the Giants and the Organ.
Then there are the signs of life: 250 varieties of plants and 15 different types of bats, according to Lonely Planet. Also worth noting is the incredibly creepy fish that have never seen the light of day. The proteus is a bizarre blind sea creature dubbed the "human fish" due to its limbs and odd color.
Along with the flora and fauna, humans have had a presence in the underground lair for some 10,000 years. Archeological digs have uncovered finds from a settlement that dates from the Middle Stone Age to the Iron Age. The prehistoric site is on view in the area called Tominč Cave.

That explains a lot ...

As seen in Colorado

Dog and Bird Are Friends

This is one of the strangest animal videos that I've ever seen.
My first thought was that the Australian magpie in this video is badly injured--that it can't escape the dog. But no: the bird can walk and fly easily. It keeps returning to the dog to play and cuddle with him. Then at 3:10, it gets involved with the human's laundry work.

Police dog bit his handler during dramatic arrest in the sea

A man was tackled in the surf by police in a dramatic midnight arrest involving jet skis and a helicopter at a beach on Queensland's Gold Coast in Australia.
Shane Hookey, 30, who spent an hour and a half pacing in chest deep water to dodge police, was photographed giving officers in a helicopter his middle finger on both hands before being dragged back to the shore by police, where he was crash tackled and taken away in a paddy wagon.
Police responded to a Triple-0 call alerting them to a man who was trying to break into a car on Marina Parade, Coolangatta, at about 9.30pm on Wednesday. When approached by police, Hookey fled and ran into the nearby surf. Police officers gave chase and, with PolAir and police on jet skis, asked Hookey to get out of the water. When he refused, a police dog and handler approached him in the surf.

A police spokeswoman said a "violent struggle" then ensued, in which the animal bit Hookey and dog handler. Hookey was then taken into custody and rushed to Gold Coast University Hospital for treatment for the dog bite. The handler, Simon Buxton, from the Gold Coast Police Dog Squad was taken to Tweed Heads Hospital for treatment for four cuts from bites received during the altercation. Hookey, who sported a bandaged shoulder and swollen face when he later appeared in court was refused bail and will return on December 12.

Dog needed surgery after eating girl’s homework

A family dog in Englewood, Colorado, required emergency surgery after eating a girl’s homework.
A science project, a chocolate volcano, was too much of a temptation for Reggie the dog. “It was Mt. Haleakala in Maui,” Reggie's owner Payton said. The problem was the volcano had metal pins in it. Reggie ate them and had to go to the vet to have them removed.

Fifty pins showed up on his abdominal X-ray. Some were removed with an endoscope down Reggie’s throat, but there were still more to get out. “We went in surgically, pulled out the one large and four of the small straight pins,” veterinarian Dr. Brian VanVechten said.
Payton later provided X-rays to her teacher to make her story stick. The science assignment has been redone and handed in for credit. “I completely redid the project with glue the second time.” Reggie and Payton received high praise for their scientific endeavour. “I got an ‘A,’ “ said Payton. Reggie has fully recovered.

There's a video here.

United nearly kills shipped dog, refuses to pay vet bills without NDA

Janet Sinclair and her dog "Sedona"
When Janet Sinclair shipped her greyhound from San Diego to Boston with United Airlines' PetSafe program, she was horrified to discover her dog nearly dead on arrival, covered in feces and blood, with blood in its stool and urine. The dog had been exposed to punishing heat, its cage had been kicked across United's shipping facilities by their handlers. The vet bill was $2700, and the vet confirmed that the dog's injuries were the result of heat stroke and rough treatment. United agreed to pay the vet bill, but only if Sinclair would sign a nondisclosure agreement promising not to tell anyone about their monumental screw-up. Instead, Sinclair went public. The ensuing media attention revealed hundreds of other people whose pets were injured and killed by United.
"And the woman in front of me said – 'Is that your dog?'" Sinclair said. "And she said, ‘Honey, I sure hope you’re taking video of this.’ And that was the beginning of the worst day of my life."
She shot cell phone video that July day and shared it with NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit. The video she recorded periodically shows her pets left outside, not in a temperature-controlled vehicle. According to the National Weather Service, the high in Houston that day was 94 degrees. When they touched down in Boston, Sinclair said her dog was barely alive.
"Sedona’s entire crate was filled with blood, feces, urine," Sinclair said. "Sedona was in full heat stroke. All of the blankets were filled with blood. She was urinating and defecating blood. She was dying, literally, right in front of me."

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