Welcome to ...

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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Daily Drift

Hello ....

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Listen Up ... !
Today is -  National Day Of Listening

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Pikangikum, Mississauga, Byward Market, Ottawa, Blainville, Winnipeg, Montreal, Britannia, Guelph and Thunder Bay, Canada
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Curitiba, Brazil
San Juan and Gurabo, Puerto Rico
Buenos Aires, Rosario and San Isidro, Argentina
Kalamazoo, Ithaca and Acton, United States
Montevideo, Uruguay
Mexico City, Mexico
Lima, Peru
Dusseldorf, Rothe Erde, Frankfurt Am Main, Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Bremen and Aalen, Germany
Cavallino, Rome, Milan, Treviso, Ravenna, Novara, Catania, Valenzano and Ivrea, Italy
Marsa, Malta
Manchester, Bath, London and Ipswich, England
Slemmestad and Oslo,  Norway
Chelyabinsk, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia
Sunds and Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
Dublin and Swords, Ireland
Zagreb, Croatia
Kista and Stockholm, Sweden
Reykjavik, Iceland
Newport, Wales
Athens, Greece
Nazareth, Belgium
Novi Sad, Serbia
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Warsaw, Poland
Fatsa, Turkey
Zhovti Vody, Ukraine
Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt and Cherbourg-Octeville, France
Zurich, Switzerland
Tetovo, Macedonia
Bucharest, Romania
Teo and Madrid, Spain
Aveiro, Portugal
Thiruvananthapuram, Shillong, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Bikaner, Pune, Pondicherry, Delhi, Mumbai, Kottayam, New Delhi and Kolkata, India
Beijing, China
Tel Aviv, Ramla and Petah Tikva,  Israel
Doha, Qatar
Tehran, Mashhad, Iran
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Colombo and Kandy, Sri Lanka
Cukai, Kuala Lumpur, Kajang and Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Muscat, Oman
Jakarta, Medan and Banjarmasin, Indonesia
Singapore, Singapore
Seoul, Korea
Tokyo, Japan
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Bangkok, Thailand
Ar Rada'i, Yemen
Sidi Bouzid and Al Marsa, Tunisia
Kachia and Lagos, Nigeria
Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa
Nairobi, Kenya
Cairo, Egypt
Homebush, Australia
Manila, Sampaloc and Las Pinas, Philippines

Today in History

43 BCE Octavian, Antony and Lepidus form the triumvirate of Rome.
511 Clovis, king of the Franks, dies and his kingdom is divided between his four sons.
1095 In Clermont, France, Pope Urbana II makes an appeal for warriors to relieve Jerusalem. He is responding to false rumors of atrocities in the Holy Land.
1382 The French nobility, led by Olivier de Clisson, crush the Flemish rebels at Flanders.
1812 One of the two bridges being used by Napoleon Bonaparte's army across the Beresina River in Russia collapses during a Russian artillery barrage.
1826 Jebediah Smith's expedition reaches San Diego, becoming the first Americans to cross the southwestern part of the continent.
1862 George Armstrong Custer meets his future bride, Elizabeth Bacon, at a Thanksgiving party.
1868 Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer's 7th Cavalry kills Chief Black Kettle and about 100 Cheyenne (mostly women and children) on the Washita River.
1887 U.S. Deputy Marshall Frank Dalton, brother of the three famous outlaws, is killed in the line of duty near Fort Smith, Ark.
1904 The German colonial army defeats Hottentots at Warm bad in southwest Africa.
1909 U.S. troops land in Blue fields, Nicaragua, to protect American interests there.
1919 Bulgaria signs peace treaty with Allies at Unequally, France, fixing war reparations and recognizing Yugoslavian independence.
1922 Allied delegates bar the Soviets from the Near East peace conference.
1936 Great Britain's Anthony Eden warns Hitler that Britain will fight to protect Belgium.
1942 The French fleet in Toulon is scuttled to keep it from Germany.
1950 East of the Choosing River, Chinese forces annihilate an American task force.
1954 Alger Hiss, convicted of being a Soviet spy, is freed after 44 months in prison.
1959 Demonstrators march in Tokyo to protest a defense treaty with the United States.
1967 Lyndon Johnson appoints Robert McNamara to presidency of the World Bank.
1967 Charles DeGaulle vetoes Great Britain's entry into the Common Market again.
1970 Syria joins the pact linking Libya, Egypt and Sudan.
1973 US Senate votes to confirm Gerald Ford as President of the United States, following President Richard Nixon's resignation; the House will confirm Ford on Dec. 6.
1978 San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the city's first openly gay supervisor, assassinated by former city supervisor Dan White.
1978 Kurdistan Workers' Party (Parti Karkerani Kurdistan, or PKK) founded; militant group that fought an armed struggle for an independent Kurdistan.
1984 Britain and Spain sign the Brussels Agreement to enter discussions over the status of Gibraltar.
1999 Helen Clark becomes first elected female Prime Minister of New Zealand.
2001 Hubble Space Telescope discovers a hydrogen atmosphere on planet Osiris, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
2004 Pope John Paul II returns relics of Saint John Chrysostom to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
2005 First partial human face transplant completed Amiens, France.
2006 Canadian House of Commons approves a motion, tabled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, recognizing the Quebecois as a nation within Canada.

Non Sequitur


This 101-year-old man trains for Winter Olympic torch relay with flame-shaped frozen salmon

A Siberian centenarian has been using a frozen fish to help him prepare for his part in the Olympic torch relay for the Sochi Winter Games. Alexander Kaptarenko, 101, says he has been getting in shape for his leg of the relay by using a flame-shaped frozen humpback salmon as a stand-in for the Olympic flame.
The torch relay ahead of next year’s Sochi Winter Olympics began in Moscow’s Red Square on October 7 and is set to take in all of Russia's 83 regions on a 56,000-kilometre (35,000-mile) trip. The torch is passing through his home city of Novosibirsk next month, and the centenarian ping pong enthusiast doesn’t want to be left out of the action.

“Nobody gave me a torch [to train with], they didn't even promise one, and you need train. But how do you train?” he said. “This guy, Ruslan, gave me four small dumbbells, half a kilo each, but they're hard to hold, while a fish, big and all, can be held by its tail, thank God.”
The retiree was inspired by plans for a salmon dinner one evening and took to parading a 1.3 kilogram (2.9 pound) fish around his apartment. He has now graduated to walking outside with a heavier salmon that should be closer in shape and size to the 2.9 kilogram torch. Kaptarenko says that although he has no plan of missing out on taking part in the relay, he hopes organizers will account for his age and reduce the standard relay distance from 200 meters to 50 meters.

Did you know ...

That wal-mart sales dip as low-income Americans close their wallets

That a teacher beats up student for making fun of his football team

About why the filibuster had to go

That k-mart shoppers threaten boycott for early thanksgiving hours

Obama Brilliantly Turns an Immigration Heckler Into a Triumph of Free Speech

President Obama demonstrated what free speech is all about today by refusing to throw a heckler out, and discussing the issue of deportations with him during his speech in San Francisco.
THE PRESIDENT: — most importantly, we will live up –
AUDIENCE MEMBER: — my family has been separated for 19 months now –
THE PRESIDENT: — most importantly, we will live up to our character as a nation.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’ve not seen my family. Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of people –
THE PRESIDENT: That’s exactly what we’re talking about.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: — are torn apart every single day.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s why we’re here.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now.
THE PRESIDENT: What we’re trying –
AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: — that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform at the same time we — you have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country.
THE PRESIDENT: Actually I don’t. And that’s why we’re here.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: So, please, I need your help.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop deportations!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop deportations!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. All right.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop deportations! Stop deportations!
THE PRESIDENT: What I’d like to do — no, no, don’t worry about it, guys. Okay, let me finish.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop deportations! Yes, we can! Stop deportations!
THE PRESIDENT: These guys don’t need to go. Let me finish. No, no, no, he can stay there. Hold on a second. (Applause.) Hold on a second.
So I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families. Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as President of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so.
But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done. (Applause.)
The president didn’t have the heckler removed. He didn’t insult or try to humiliate the heckler. Instead, he listened and had a dialogue about his concerns. The president also made an important point during the conversation.
He can’t wave a magic wand and stop the deportations. It will take comprehensive immigration reform to change our system. Even if Obama could magically stop the deportations, is that the way we want our country to be governed?
If President Obama stopped the deportations, there would be nothing to stop the next president from reversing his policy and adopting a harsher policy. The way to get lasting change is to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress.
The passion of activists deserves our appreciation, but many activists don’t understand how to use their activism to change the way the nation is governed. Anyone who yells and wants President Obama to snap his fingers and make something happen is pretending. They aren’t being honest with themselves about the slow and often frustrating policy process.
These activists shouldn’t be yelling at President Obama. They should be yelling at John Boehner. There is enough support in the House to pass the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, but Speaker Boehner will not allow a vote.
President Obama demonstrated what free speech is all about today. The heckler got a chance to talk. He wasn’t punished for his speech. The president listened and made his case for why activists should be supporting immigration reform.
Free speech isn’t contained in a fenced off zone, as the shrub did things. Free speech is being able to express a dissenting view to the President of the United States.
President Obama is listening to the American people, and that is a real change that you can believe in.

Democrats Turn the Tables and Use repugicans Own Misogyny Against Them

If repugicans don't like their misogyny being used against them to raise money, then they should try not being misogynistic. …
Persecution politics are what the repugican Cabal does best, from Sarah Palin to Ted Cruz making a fortune by shutting down the government while grifting from the easy marks known as the repugican base.
It’s very upsetting when things are reversed.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised money off of the offensive and sexist photo of Democratic Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Grimes, according to the Washington Examiner.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee posted the image, in which Ms. Grimes’ head is pasted on to the body of the 2008 “Obama Girl”, on Twitter and circulated it around.
Some folks seem a bit confused as to why Democrats would be raising money off of a “sexist and offensive” photo, with the author of the Washington Examiner piece claiming “Grimes herself used the photo to paint McConnell as anti-woman.”
Allow me to clear this up. The use of the sexist photoshopped image is more than skin deep. It’s not a cheap shot or bad luck gaffe. Rather, their misogyny is a systemic, consistent problem for the Republican Party and it is not only evident in their words, but most disturbingly, in their policies. Thus, the Grimes/Obama Girl image reveals a truth about the modern repugican cabal and about Mitch McConnell, specifically.
It’s not as if Grimes or Democrats are manufacturing a sexist attacks on women by the repugican cabal and McConnell.
In September, a nrsc Communications Director accused Grimes of being an “empty dress” who “babbles incoherently”. That this came from the cabal that ran Sarah Palin for VP was lost on no one.
Recently Mitch McConnell lied to women by claiming he voted against the Violence Against Women Act because it wasn’t strong enough. McConnell deceptively claimed he voted for a stronger version of the bill but the Republican version of the bill was a pro-violence against women bill by all rational accounts — finding new ways to make women vulnerable to predators.
McConnell even voted against the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994 so it’s not like this is new for him.
What does the VAWA have to do with not hating women? PolitiFact agrees that the “incidence of domestic abuse has dropped by more than 50 percent since the Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994.”
Leo Weekly reported on McConnell’s awkward refusal to answer questions about his stance on women’s issues:
Arnold: Given the demographic difference between you and Ms. Grimes, in terms of her age versus yours, as well as the fact that she’s already highlighted that she’s a woman… brought up like the Violence Against Women Act… How will you counter that?
McConnell: Well as Ronald Reagan famously said once, I won’t use my opponent’s youth and inexperience as an issue in this campaign.
Arnold: What about women’s issues?
McConnell: (awkward silence).
McConnell also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act. How does a politician justify that in 2013?
If repugicans don’t like their misogyny being used against them to raise money, then they should try not being misogynistic.
And part of not being misogynistic is stopping the pretense that there is no war on women and that women are just overly sensitive to repugican policies meant to deny women freedom. No one needs to “paint” Mitch McConnell as anti-woman. He has a voting record that tells that story and he belongs to a party of legitimate rape shutting down blessings of pregnancies via rape.
It’s not Alison Grimes’ imagination or the Democratic Party pouncing on a mistake. Mitch McConnell has left women out in the cold time and time again – by voting against the VAWA he can be accused of increasing violence against women- the act is that important.
The problem for Mitch McConnell is precisely that there’s a fire under this smoke. And now Democrats are using McConnell’s misogyny against him.

Faux News Insults Veterans On The Air By Claiming Obamacare is Worse Than The Iraq War

Faux News managed to insult and demean our nation’s veterans by claiming that Obamacare is worse than the Iraq War.
Faux News host Martha MacCallum insulted the sacrifice of every man and woman who served in Iraq by saying, “When you look at these stories, the Cleveland Clinic laying off lots of people trying to cut costs as so many entities in the country are right now. And you have The Wall Street Journal story about companies starting to pass those costs, and that was a trend that had begun before this, but it certainly doesn’t help. So it goes back to what I keep coming back to in all this, unlike other issues Katrina, or the Iraq war that we have seen in past second term. This is something that touches so many people’s lives across the country, and you don’t know whether the president is going to be able to successfully dodge it.”
What they are trying to sell at Faux is that the ACA is worse than the Iraq war, because more people are having direct contact with the ACA. However, their attempt to score political points demonstrated how little they think of the sacrifice of those who served in Iraq.
Faux News managed to hit a daily double. They demeaned the service of our veterans in Iraq while downplaying the deaths and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Comparing a healthcare law that will extend the lives of the millions of people to war that devastated the lives of millions of Americans and their families is especially stomach churning.
There are estimates that hundreds of thousands of our troops were injured in Iraq. The wounded came from all across the country. They have families and friends. This doesn’t include the nearly 4,500 American troops who died in Iraq, and the thousands of private contractors and journalists who died in Bush’s war.
Their sacrifice matters more than a healthcare law. They aren’t the same thing. No one will die because of the ACA. The American people aren’t killing themselves at a rate of 22 or more a day as is happening with our returning veterans.
The shrub made a decision that took lives. Barack Obama made a decision that will save them. They aren’t comparable in any way, and Faux News’ attempt to diminish the value the sacrifice of our veterans was more un-American behavior from the repugican cabal’s loudest propaganda machine.

John Boehner’s Socialism

Taxpayers Pay 75% of His Premiums and His Wife is On Medicare 
Speaker John Boehner's health insurance premiums are paid for up to 75% by the taxpayers and now his wife is going on Medicare.…
Congressional Dedication Of The Bust Of Winston Churchill
“Next year Mrs. Boehner will be on Medicare.” This news was brought to you by Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times, in the midst of his fact-checking of John Boehner’s claims to be paying tons more money post-ObamaCare (shockingly a lie).
Also, “Boehner’s premiums are partially covered by his employer, the federal government, which pays up to 75% of employee premiums, up to a cap of $426.14 a month (for 2014).” This is confirmed by Factcheck.Org, which finds that the government pays on average 72% and up to 75%.
Not only do we, the taxpayers, fund 75% of Boehner’s premiums, but his wife is going on Medicare.
Republicans have been trying to kill Medicare for years.
The repugicans call public servants like teachers “thugs” for any perks they get, but have no problem with getting 75% of their own premiums paid for.
Republicans like to pretend that their health insurance is the same as any federal employee. U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, r-Panama City, made that claim in Florida. And while it’s technically true that their plans are the same, and federal employees get a much better deal than the private sector employees, Congress gets other perks (is this a bad time to remind Boehner that he kept the House gym open when his party shutdown the government?). PolitiFact explained:
(M)embers of Congress do have two optional health perks that not all other federal employees enjoy.
One is use of the Office of the Attending Physician, a low-profile Navy clinic on the Capitol’s first floor that offers basic medical services to members, Hill staffers and sickness-stricken tourists. The clinic was started in 1928 to respond to accidents and emergencies on the Hill, according to a July 2011 profile of the operation by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Members can opt to regularly access the clinic for services such as X-rays, flu shots and physical therapy at an annual fee of $503.
The other is access to medical and emergency treatment at military hospitals. There’s no charge for outpatient care at Bethesda Naval Hospital (or at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, though it has closed).
Also, most Americans don’t have their premiums picked up by other tax payers.
If austerity were really such a priority for repugicans, surely they’d take aim at the lazy entitlement taking among their own ranks. Why go on Medicare? Why let the government (aka, taxpayer) fund your premiums? My fiscally conservative grandparents refused such payments and paid their own way so I see no reason why austerity preachers wouldn’t do the same.
This proves that John Boehner doesn’t know anything about what most Americans deal with when it comes to healthcare… and for that matter, most Congressional members do not. But repugicans are the people trying to derail affordable healthcare for Americans.
So maybe they should hush up about things they don’t understand, and get on with the business of being total hypocrites on our tax dollars. It’s what they do best.

Read more about the healthcare plans offered to federal employees here.

The 10 Biggest Myths About Retail Workers

Over 1 in 10 US jobs is in the retail trade.
Here's what their lives are really like.  

Myth 1: Most retail workers are teenagers or young adults who do not really need the money 

Reality: The average age of a retail worker is  37 years old (pdf), and more than half of year-round retail workers  contribute a significant portion (pdf) of their family's total income. For example, researchers found that  a third (pdf) of New York City retail workers support at least one dependent. 

Wealthy Libertarians Are Driving Poverty, Unemployment, and Anti-Government Discontent

Wealthy libertarians using austerity to create conditions driving high unemployment, poverty, anti-government discontent, and misplaced anger to further their own agenda.…

Wealthy Libertarians Are Driving Poverty, Unemployment, and Anti-Government Discontent
For all the wingnut’s claims that America is an exceptional nation, they are taking extraordinary steps to destroy everything that made this country exceptional by following Europe’s austerity agenda that is giving rise to neo-fascism gaining power and influence across the continent. The difference between Europe and America is that where European governments embraced austerity based on flawed economic data that is driving  the threat of fascism, America is suffering a concerted effort by wealthy libertarians using austerity to create conditions driving high unemployment, poverty, anti-government discontent, and misplaced anger to foster an environment conducive to the rise of fascism.
The players behind the drive toward corporate and, to a lesser degree, religious fascism in America are rumored to have historical ties to, and were complicit, in Nazism’s rise in 1930s Germany and Stalin’s fascism in 1920s Soviet Union. Their support for government privatization is setting the stage for their particular brand of corporate fascism by funding efforts to gut social programs, increase joblessness, neuter the federal government, and incite anger among those most affected by their austerity economics. Some scholars consider fascism an ultra-right wingnut agenda due to its adherence to social conservatism and abject opposition to egalitarianism’s premise that all human beings are “equal in fundamental worth or social status.”
Corporate fascism entails “principles, doctrines, or a system of corporative organization of government founded on privatization and corporate ownership.” It is important to note that under Nazism, the needs of the individual were subordinate to the needs of the state, and in 21st century America there has been a definite trend towards giving preference to the needs of corporatists like the Koch brothers and Wall Street over the needs of the people. Subsequently, the repugican push to decimate government investment, eliminate social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and other crucial safety nets, combined with killing jobs and increasing poverty among the population is leading America down the same austerity path giving rise to the dangerous neo-fascism threatening Europe. For a portent of what awaits America if its addiction to austerity economics is not broken soon, a brief history of how Europe is falling victim to the threat of fascism is reported here. It is a cautionary tale that both describes what lies in store for America if it continues pandering to corporatists and religious extremists, and reinforces what economists and liberals have proposed is a solution to save America from the threat of corporate and religious fascism.
A little over two weeks ago in Kansas, a neo-Nazi group held an event to commemorate a travesty in 1938 Germany when paramilitary and non-Jewish civilians swept through streets across Germany destroying and ransacking Jewish homes, synagogues, schools, and businesses to protest conditions many Americans are facing today as a result of repugican economic austerity. For the neo-Nazis, the Night of Broken Glass is an auspicious event and the white supremacist party that claims to be “the party for every patriotic white American” teamed up with white supremacist groups such as the white christian Aryan Nations, the Sadistic Souls Motorcycle Club, and the Traditionalist American Knights (a KKK affiliate) to protest against granting amnesty to “illegal aliens” they claim are responsible for the “nation drowning in a free fall of economic collapse.” The group passed out leaflets for the rally that said, “If you are working for a slave’s wage, making barely enough to feed your family, and are tired of seeing the corruption that is crippling our land, the time to get active in this fight is now.”
The neo-Nazis have bought in to right-wingnut extremists’ (repugican) ploy to assign blame to immigrants (among others) for the nation’s economic woes characterized by pitiful wages and no jobs that make it impossible for millions of Americans to feed their families. However, it is not because of undocumented workers, it is the Koch brothers’ and repugican austerity they see is successfully contributing to the threat of fascism in Europe, and soon in America if it continues according to their plan. Like Hitler’s propaganda machine in Germany, there is a concerted effort by repugican wingnuts, libertarian corporatists, and religious extremists to place blame for the nation’s ills on immigrants, atheists, gays, women, and particularly government regulations and taxation as the sole reason the masses are not thriving economically.
There is a reason the Koch brothers and their cohort ALEC are funneling millions to anti-government teabaggers and religio-wingnut anti-choice agitators, and it is part of their plan to stir up opposition to equal rights, religious freedom, and particularly the federal government and social programs. Inciting discontent and division among the population, coupled with their job-killing austerity economics, stagnating wages, and domestic spending cuts is the recipe for the growth of fascism and at some point the people will look to a champion who will promise a path to economic prosperity if they are given authority to transform America according to the Koch brothers’ libertarian vision of no federal government, no regulations, no taxation, a return to 'christian moral values', and free market capitalism that is code for corporate owned-and-operated government.
America is afforded a measure of protection from fascism because there are still social programs and protections set in place to prevent the entire population from falling into abject poverty, but they are under assault from surrogates for corporations and Wall Street. The repugicans have attempted to destroy social programs under the guise of deficit reduction and instilling personal responsibility into the population, but their policies are responsible for the peoples’ economic plight that Kansas neo-Nazis protested against two weeks ago. For their part, wingnuts have openly driven a wedge between the population that is crucial to the rise of fascism, and whether it is opposition to immigration reform, religious freedom, women’s rights, or workers’ rights, the goal is always to pit one set of Americans against another to distract attention away from the real culprits; repugicans, corporatists, and religious extremists all funded by the real advocates and benefactors of corporate fascism; the Koch brothers.
The people of this country are being given a preview of what lies in their future if they allow repugicans to continue doing the bidding of the Koch brothers. The teabaggers, religious extremists, and racists are all being manipulated to do the will of the Koch brothers, and when their corporate fascism does come to America, it will be wrapped in a corporate flag emblazoned with Koch Industries’ logo and no bible, guns, or copy of the Constitution will save them.

Low Wage Work Rebellion May Finally Bring Down Our Poverty Rate

People should not work full-time for wages that put them below the poverty line, but it is all too common. Now, they're taking a stand.…

This has been the year of the low-wage worker rebellion. Fast food workers walking out for a day. Wal-Mart workers trying to unionize, only to face retaliation. Protesting workers taking their plight to the media. Part of inequality is the gross amassing of wealth in the hands of a tiny number of individuals comprising the overclass. But, the other major part of inequality is the mass of unemployed, underemployed, and low-wage workers who cling to the labor market precariously. The fact that the minimum wage has barely budged (in real dollars) in 45 years contributes to the fact that wages have fallen behind productivity. Tired of their constant struggle to survive and spurred by knowledge of the nation’s unprecedented inequality, minimum wage workers have been striking and protesting across the country. They know the corporations and businesses they work for are making record profits (e.g. Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc.), yet these same employers falsely cry, “Bankruptcy,” whenever someone suggests that they pay their workers better. It’s not like these companies are unaware that their workers are struggling. McDonalds set up a website (related video) chock full of ideas and a hotline that encourages its workers to seek out government benefits or work two jobs. If all else fails, McDonalds suggests its employees sell their Christmas gifts. House Democrats have published a report estimating that Americans subsidize Wal-Mart wages at a rate of $5,815 per employee. A Wal-Mart store is asking their employees to donate canned goods to other Wal-Mart workers in need. So, even as the money-hoarding six members of the Walton family who inherited Wal-Mart’s profits have the same wealth as the bottom 30% of Americans, they pay their workers wages that require them to seek canned food donations. No matter what the answer to their employees’ inability to make ends meet, in their minds, it is not a living wage, despite evidence Wal-Mart could pay workers $25,000 a year without raising prices.
Walmart wage increase
Twenty-five years ago, William Julius Wilson introduced us to the term, “underclass,” to describe the 10% of people in poverty who were concentrated in urban areas in pockets of extreme poverty, tormented by entrenched social problems like drug/alcohol abuse, violence, damaged families, and poor educational prospects. Wilson explained that these communities were the result of economic forces including the loss of manufacturing jobs, the movement of middle and upper class people to the suburbs, and the loss of services in urban communities. Conservatives insisted their inter-generational poverty was a trap caused by welfare, so they hollered loudly that welfare must be reformed, and then the “underclass” would disappear. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, or welfare reform went into effect. Thereafter, healthy people could not receive welfare benefits for more than two years at a time, and for no more than five years over their lifetime (notably, it is truly amazing how many conservatives still don’t know these rules two decades later).
For a brief period of time, employment rates went up and poverty rates went down, even among the “underclass.” But this short-lived situation, which seemed to bolster conservative arguments that welfare was holding people back, had an alternative and much more obvious explanation: the economy of the 1990s was remarkably strong. People who were forced off welfare were able to find jobs with relative ease. However, a new class of people was also created, or rather, expanded, the working poor. Despite working full-time, their jobs did not bring their families above the poverty line. The low-wage, no-benefit jobs former welfare recipients took could not sustain a family, yet conservatives lauded the fact they were employed, saying just having a job was sufficient. They were unconcerned about the swelling numbers of the working poor. The dilemma of the working poor was invisible, however, because they typically could receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which effectively supplemented their wages by giving them tax-payer supported, annual checks that would give them a small boost, sometimes up over the poverty line.
As the nation moved into the 2000s, recessions pushed these low-level, typically low-skill, workers into unemployment and back into poverty, often without welfare as a safety net. While extreme poverty had declined in the 1990s, it went soaring back up in the 2000s, especially after the 2008 recession. Though it is surely bittersweet, Wilson can turn to his conservative policy opponents, and say, “I told you so.” Welfare was not causing people to be poor; their job prospects were. Poverty disproportionately affects people of color, and so too, do low wages. Although they are only 32% of the population, they comprise 42% of minimum wage workers. If the minimum wage was raised to $10.10, almost 6 million people would be brought out of poverty, 60% of whom would be people of color.
Millions of “expendable” employees occupy the temporary worker force, stuck with low wages, no benefits, and uncertain futures. People who used to have relatively decent-paying jobs working for the government, even in low-level positions, now work for private contractors that pay them minimum wage. This year, these workers went on strike not once, not twice, but three times as part of the Good Jobs Nation campaign. Most remarkable is the fact that 4 in 10 low wage contractor employees qualifies for and needs government benefits (e.g. Medicaid, food stamps) to get by.
If making staggering profits off of underpaying your workforce isn’t exploitation, it is difficult to find a more appropriate description. Raising the minimum wage is a popular idea; 4 in 5 Americans are in favor of doing so. Americans know there is a “wage crisis.” Robert Reich reminds us that Henry Ford paid a decent wage, because he knew his workers could not afford to buy his product without one. And in fact, Wal-Mart’s profits have decreased as our nation’s low wage workers struggle to even buy products from them. It’s time that corporations across the country remembered Ford’s economic lesson.

US spewing 50% more methane than EPA says

The United States is spewing 50 percent more methane — a potent heat-trapping gas — than the federal government estimates, a new comprehensive scientific study says. Much of it is coming from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
That means methane may be a bigger global warming issue than thought, scientists say. Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long.
Much of that extra methane, also called natural gas, seems to be coming from livestock, including manure, belches, and flatulence, as well as leaks from refining and drilling for oil and gas, the study says. It was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The study estimates that in 2008, the U.S. poured 49 million tons of methane into the air. That means U.S. methane emissions trapped about as much heat as all the carbon dioxide pollution coming from cars, trucks, and planes in the country in six months.
That's more than the 32 million tons estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration or the nearly 29 million tons reckoned by the European Commission.
"Something is very much off in the inventories," said study co-author Anna Michalak, an Earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. "The total U.S. impact on the world's energy budget is different than we thought, and it's worse."
EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said her agency hasn't had time to go through the study yet, but hopes it will help "refine our estimates going forward."
While the world has a good handle on how much carbon dioxide is pumped into the air, scientists have been more baffled by methane emissions. They have had to use computer models to estimate how much methane is going into that air.
This study, however, was based on nearly 13,000 measurements from airplane flights and tall towers, the most used in any such research.
The information was collected in 2008. Scientists have yet to analyze their data from 2012, and that will capture more of any impact of the natural gas boom from hydraulic fracturing, Michalik said. Studies recently have shown conflicting results about how much methane escapes during fracking and other forms of fossil fuel drilling.
Outside experts praised the study. Robert Howarth at Cornell University called "it very compelling and quite important. This is the most comprehensive study yet."
Michalak said because of the way they measured methane — just looking for it in the air as opposed to tracking it from a source — it is hard to say what is putting more methane into the air. But she said by looking at concentrations — especially within Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas — the scientists have a good idea: Cows, oil and gas.
Nearly one-quarter of the U.S. methane emissions came from those three states. Texas is by far and away the No. 1 state for refineries that turn oil into gasoline. Texas and Oklahoma have been big oil and gas drilling states and Kansas is a big cow state.
Cows seem to be spewing twice the methane that scientists previously thought, Michalak said.
While burps and flatulence are part of the methane emission from cattle, University of California Santa Barbara professor Ira Leifer said a bigger factor is manure.
"If you shovel it into an artificial lagoon you are creating the perfect production for methane, but it cuts down on the smell and your neighbors complain less," he said.

Pupils are 'allergic to school'

Eight schoolchildren at a high school in Bergamo, Italy, suffer from breathing problems and itching as soon as they enter the classroom, with medics unable to pinpoint the cause. The pupils get as far as the entrance hall of Falcone di Bergamo high school, but as soon as they enter the classroom they are overcome with a "mystery illness", with symptoms including breathing problems and rashes. Just eight pupils are affected, with five of those experiencing severe symptoms.

The bizarre reaction to school has baffled teachers and medics since October 7th, when at first two schoolgirls were hit with symptoms upon entering the classroom. The symptoms - which mysteriously disappear after they leave the classroom - soon spread to two of their classmates, before affecting four others in a neighboring classroom. Environmental tests have been carried out on the rooms, as well as medical tests on the students, but experts from the local health services have so far been unable to find a cause.
External factors have also been ruled out. There have also been cases of other students fainting in the school, but it is not clear whether the two problems are connected. “We've seen it happen several times,” one student in the second year said. “There's nothing wrong with them when they come in, then as soon as they enter the classroom they start to have difficulty breathing; they say their throats swell up, and after a little while they start to itch all over their bodies.”

They are forced to stay as far as possible from the classroom, though their fellow students are able to continue the lessons without problems. “For now, all we know is that it's some kind of allergic reaction,” headteacher Enzo Asperti said. He explained that the school had followed all the directions given by the local health authority, including cleaning the school and keeping it aired as much as possible. The school is considering teaching the afflicted students over Skype if symptoms persists.



Taliban Law Retruning?

Is brutal Taliban-style justice coming back to Afghanistan?
The Human Rights Watch organization urged that country’s government on Monday to reject a proposed law providing for adulterers to be stoned to death.
“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Afghan President Hamid Karzai "needs to demonstrate at least a basic commitment to human rights and reject this proposal out of hand.”
The Islamist Taliban militia that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until U.S.-led forces toppled its government in late 2001 used to put convicted adulterers to death by shooting them or stoning them.
A Justice Ministry-led working group is calling for a return to stoning adulterers “if there are four eyewitnesses,” Reuters reported Monday.
The Guardian newspaper reported that another punishment being considered was flogging.
Human Rights Watch urged international donors to use what leverage they have to convince Karzai to reject the proposal.
The group said the draft proposal metes out harsh punishments to men and women who have sex outside of marriage.
They face “stoning to death if the adulterer or adulteress is married,” and the punishment will be carried out in public in a predetermined location, HRW quoted the draft as saying.
What if they’re unmarried? Then they face “whipping 100 lashes.”
Human Rights Watch’s appeal came as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, was in Afghanistan to assess the situation there ahead of the planned pullout of U.S.-led combat troops by the end of next year.
“On behalf of President Obama, she is thanking the men and women who are away from their families this Thanksgiving and serving in harm’s way,” the White House said in a statement.
“She will hear directly from U.S. troops, diplomats, and development professionals about our efforts as we move toward the responsible conclusion of our combat mission at the end of 2014 and as we continue to strengthen Afghanistan to ensure that it can provide security, governance, and opportunity for its people,” the White House said.

Car ended up on roof of house during police chase

A suspect is still on the run after sending his vehicle soaring through the air, and crash landing on the roof of a residential home in Forest Acres, South Carolina, early on Saturday morning, according to Columbia Police Department.

Beer thieves arrested after jumping down balconies of 10-storey hotel

Authorities say two alleged beer thieves tried to jump down the balconies of a 10-storey hotel in Orange County, California, to evade capture on Sunday.

Historical Photos


Annie Edson Taylor: the first person to survive going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel, and she did it on her 63rd birthday in 1901.
Annie Edson Taylor: the first person to survive going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel, and she did it on her 63rd birthday in 1901.

Mysterious giant chair appears in park

A giant chair has mysteriously appeared in West Lake Park, Hollywood, Florida. Bob Palumbo said it appeared one morning. He figured it was a new public art display the county was trying out.

Clacton's Christmas tree removed after just one day for not being 'man enough for the job'

A town center Christmas tree labelled "a twig" by critics has been removed after just one day. The 12ft (4m) tree was given to Clacton by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and was put up in the Town Square. But Tendring District Council said it had now taken the tree down saying it was "not man enough for the job".

Peter Halliday, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said "It is very disappointing after we were donated a tree, but there was no other decision that could be made but to take the tree down. It is just too prominent a site for a tree of that size and on a site that is exposed to some pretty strong winds.

"We would be letting our residents and traders down if we did not come up with something more substantial," he said. The council said the gift had been "a generous gesture", adding that it hoped the business group would understand. The FSB has yet to comment on the tree's removal.


The Tree That Fruits On Its Trunk

They look as if they may have been pinned there by an over enthusiastic gardener to impress the neighbors but the fruit of the Jabuticaba really does grow off the trunk of the tree.

Otherwise known as the Brazilian Grape Tree (Plinia cauliflora), this plant is native to South America, notably Paraguay, Argentina and mostly from Brazil. The fruit, a succulent looking purple color can be plucked and eaten straight from the tree.

Daily Comic Relief

Tuesday, November 26

Baby Dinosaur Skeleton Unearthed in Canada

The tiny, intact skeleton of a baby rhinoceroslike dinosaur has been unearthed in Canada.
The toddler was just 3 years old and 5 feet (1.5 meters) long when it wandered into a river near Alberta, Canada, and drowned about 70 million years ago. The beast was so well-preserved that some of its skin left impressions in the nearby rock.
The fossil is the smallest intact skeleton ever found from a group of horned, plant-eating dinosaurs known as ceratopsids, a group that includes the iconic Triceratops.
Rare find
Finding intact baby dinosaurs is incredibly rare.
"The big ones just preserve better: They don't get eaten, they don't get destroyed by animals," said study co-author Philip Currie, a paleobiologist at the University of Alberta. "You always hope you're going to find something small and that it will turn out to be a dinosaur."
Paleontologists had unearthed a few individual bones from smaller ceratopsids in the past. But without intact juvenile skeletons, such bones aren't very useful, as scientists don't really know how each bone changes during each stage of the animals' lives, Currie said.
The team was bone-hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta when Currie came upon what looked like a turtle shell sticking out from a hillside. Upon closer inspection, the fossil turned out to be a frill, the bony decorative headgear that surrounds the back of the head in ceratopsids.
When the team excavated, they found the fossilized skeleton of a tiny dinosaur they identified as a Chasmosaurus belli, a species commonly found in the area.
Drowning victim
Amazingly, almost the entire skeleton was intact, although sometime in the past, a sinkhole had opened up below the beast and the forelimbs had fallen away into an abyss. The fossil was so well-preserved that the tiny, rosettelike pattern on its skin was imprinted in the rock below the dinosaur.
Based on its size, the team estimates the dinosaur was about 3 years old — just out of infancy — when it perished. (Like humans, these dinosaurs typically take about 20 years to reach maturity, at which point they have 6.5-foot-long [2 meters] skulls and weigh 3 to 4 tons.)
The fossil was found in sediments associated with watery environments and didn't have any bite marks or trace of injury, so it's likely the dino toddler likely drowned.
"I think it may have just gotten trapped out of its league in terms of water current," Currie said.
Soon after, the baby dinosaur was buried by sediments and left untouched for millions of years.
Growth rates
Aside from being cute, the new fossil helps paleontologists understand how these plant-eating dinosaurs grew. Paleontologists can then better identify and age the myriad individual bones from juveniles discovered over the years.
Already, the team has learned that Chasmosaur juvenile frills look different from those on adults, and that limb proportions don't change much as they grow. Predatory theropods such as Tyrannosaurus rex have disproportionately long limbs as juveniles, presumably to keep up with the adults in the pack.
By contrast, "in Chasmosaurians, the proportions are essentially the same, which probably means the adults were probably never moving that fast," Currie said. "There was never priority for these animals to run to keep up with the adults."

The Stunning Beauty Of Siamese Fighting Fish

fish_11The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) is a popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. Although known for their brilliant colors and large, flowing fins, the natural coloration is a dull green, browns and gray. Brilliantly colored varieties have been developed through selective breeding.

Here are some photographs that show the stunning beauty of Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) taken by Bangkok-based photographer Visarute Angkatavanich.

Woman claims she found snake head in bag of green beans

Misty Moser from Gladstone, Oregon, claims she found a snake head in a bag of frozen green beans.
Moser says she poured the beans out of a bag she bought at a the Oak Grove Fred Meyer and the snake head came out. At first she thought it was a clump of green bean stems.

"But it started to unfold. It was in a little ball," she said. "I noticed it had a mouth, nostrils, and little tiny eyes. Not what I thought I was buying."

A Fred Meyer spokesperson said they've asked her to bring the snake head to the store so they can investigate.

'Crucified' vegetable-stealing rats bound to tree with message of repentance

Three rats have been tied to a tree in the Chinese city of Chengdu with a message saying "I was wrong, I repent."

The rats were captured by an employee named Liu Junjiang in a local advertising company. Liu and his colleagues found the rats running around in their newly refurbished office, stealing vegetables, and gnawing through a cable. On Friday, they managed to capture three of the rats and after a discussion, they decided to publicly parade them on a tree on the street.
A picture was taken by Shuangliu police. They posted the photo on their verified Weibo account, the purpose being to remind residents to take precautions against thieves in the last months of this year.

The rats were later untied from the tree, caged and sent to the countryside, where “cat police would handle (eat) them”, according to the Sichuan Online.

Dog rescued after spending days at bottom of Big Hole

Rescuers have saved a dog trapped nearly a week down a gigantic artificial crater known as "Big Hole" in central South Africa. The canine explorer survived a dizzying plunge down the 200-metre hole in Kimberley in Northern Cape province, managing to swim across the lake at the bottom and take refuge on one of its sides.
Kimberley's main tourist attraction, "Big Hole" is a former diamond mine owned by the De Beers group and is claimed to be the world's largest hand-dug excavation. The animal was "doing well", rescue service spokeswoman Vanessa Jackson said after it was brought to safety, with a local pet association on scene to make sure it was not injured.
"It was moving around, it was running around and all that, so it doesn't seem that it was injured, it was probably hungry and dehydrated," she said. A team of seven went down into the vast crater, providing support to one another during a five-hour rescue operation.
"We cannot confirm when the dog fell, it was apparently about seven days ago. That's what people say. It was spotted by a tourist who was at the Big Hole on Friday.' " Ms  Jackson added. There has been no sign yet from the dog's owners. "It has been two days of talking about the dog and nobody came forward at all," she said.
There's a photo gallery here.

Enormous rare sea creature hauled from depths by Florida shark fisherman

Mark "the Shark" Quartiano has caught thousands of sharks, but never anything like the 800-pound deep-water stingray he landed off Miami Beach
Photos of this rare sea creature, which was released after being caught, are courtesy of Mark Quartiano
Mark Quartiano has caught thousands of sharks, and hooked clients up with thousands more. In fact, the Florida captain is famously known as Mark the Shark.
But until Saturday, Mark the Shark had not encountered anything quite like the monstrous skate that he described as looking “like some kind of dinosaur.”
It was a rare catch for an angler, indeed. Quartiano said this shark relative’s scientific name is Dactylobatus clarkii, and a quick Internet search revealed very little information about the species. However, on Monday, George H. Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History identified the creature as a roughtail stingray with the scientific name, Dasyatis centroura.
Photos of this rare sea creature, which was released after being caught, are courtesy of Mark Quartiano
Photos of this rare sea creature, which was released after being caught, are courtesy of Mark Quartiano
It resides in deeper continental shelf waters of the U.S. East Coast from off the Carolinas south to Uruguay, and in the eastern Atlantic.
“Most anglers don’t bottom-fish in these deeper waters so they aren’t routinely seen by that user group, but commercial longline fishers and research biologists see the critter fairly commonly,” Burgess said. “Obviously large adults like this require heavy fishing gear and strong backs–they aren’t great fighters, but they weight a bunch and are prone to suck their body onto the bottom like a kiddie arrow tip. Once the suction is broken it’s basically a matter of hoisting up a big weight.”
Quartiano, who was fishing with a Japanese film crew, had dropped a whole bonito to the bottom off Miami Beach. Before long, line began to spin from his reel.
“I was fishing at about 500 feet and we were trying to catch a shark for their TV show,” the captain said. “I hooked that monster and it took about four hours to bring it up. At first I thought it was a large thresher shark, because that’s kind of the way they fight.”
One of the film crew had underwater gear and captured footage that will be released later this year or early next year, Quartiano said.
Quartiano’s crew winched the giant creature out of the water for “three or four minutes” for a photo opportunity, then set it free. Mark the Shark estimated its weight at 800 pounds.
“It was a big female and she swam away pretty quickly,” he said. “It was kind of cool to catch something new for a change. … When we first saw it we didn’t know what it was. It looked really odd … like some kind of dinosaur.”

Animal Pictures