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.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Daily Drift

Twenty-two Days To Go ....

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
By all means, yes ... !
Today is - (there is no special celebration today)  Day

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

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Norris, Chanute, Waldorf, Shenandoah and Wilkes-Barre, United States
Thunder Bay, Calgary, Pikangikum, Blainville, Britannia, Ottawa, Vancouver, Dryden, Montreal, Toronto and Byward Market, Canada
San Isidro and Buenos Aires, Argentina
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Curitiba and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Mexico City, Mexico
Nokia and Helsinki, Finland
Zhovti Vody and Kharkiv, Ukraine
Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Gloucester, Bickley, Chesterfield, Woking, London and Oxford, England
Rome and Cavallino, Italy
Karlskrona, Stockholm and Kista, Sweden
Dublin, Ireland
Vilnius, Lithuania
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Palaja and Rouen, France
Niva, Tranbjerg and Sunds, Denmark
L'Olleria, Spain
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Amersfoort, Netherlands
Griesheim and Nuremberg, Germany
Athens, Greece
Warsaw, Poland
Minsk, Belarus
Newport, Wales
Pribram, Czech Republic
Thawiwatthana, Thailand
Bhubaneshwar, Shillong, New Delhi, Mumbai, Nodia, Delhi, Serilingampalle, Kottayam, Hyderabad and Coimbatore, India
Jakarta, Jagirsidosermo and Medan, Indonesia
Tokyo, Japan
Puchong, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kampong Chhanang, Cambodia
Aqaba, Jordan
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Colombo and Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Beijing, China
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Doha, Qatar
Teagu, Korea
Hanoi and Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Manama, Bahrain
Al Jizah, Egypt
Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa
Homebush, Melbourne, Sunshine and Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1468 Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano succeed their father, Piero de Medici, as rulers of Florence, Italy.
1762 France cedes to Spain all lands west of the Mississippi–the territory known as Upper Louisiana.
1818 Illinois admitted into the Union as the 21st state.
1800 The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Hohenlinden, near Munich.
1847 Frederick Douglass and Martin R. Delaney establish the North Star, and anti-slavery paper.
1862 Confederate raiders attack a Federal forage train on the Hardin Pike near Nashville, Tenn.
1863 Confederate General James Longstreet moves his army east and north toward Greeneville. This withdrawal marks the end of the Fall Campaign in Tennessee.
1864 Major General William Tecumseh Sherman meets with slight resistance from Confederate troops at Thomas Station on his march to the sea.
1906 The U.S. Supreme Court orders Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) leaders extradited to Idaho for trial in the Steunenberg murder case.
1915 The United States expels German attaches on spy charges.
1916 French commander Joseph Joffre is dismissed after his failure at the Somme. General Robert Nivelle is the new French commander in chief.
1918 The Allied Conference ends in London where they decide that Germany must pay for the war.
1925 The League of Nations orders Greece to pay an indemnity for the October invasion of Bulgaria.
1926 British reports claim that German soldiers are being trained in the Soviet Union.
1950 The Chinese close in on Pyongyang, Korea, and UN forces withdraw southward.
1965 The National Council of Churches asks the United States to halt the massive bombings in North Vietnam.
1977 The State Department proposes the admission of 10,000 more Vietnamese refugees to the United States.
1979 Eleven are dead and eight injured in a mad rush to see a rock band (The Who) at a concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1984 Toxic gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant and results in the deaths of thousands in Bhopal, India.
1989 Presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev announce the official end to the Cold War at a meeting in Malta.
1992 A test engineer for Sema Group sends the world's first text message, using a personal computer and the Vodafone network.
1997 Representatives of 121 nations sign the Ottawa Treaty prohibiting the manufacture or deployment of antipersonnel landmines; the People's Republic of China, the US and the USSR do not sign.
2005 First manned rocket aircraft delivery of US Mail takes place in Mojave, Cal.
2009 Suicide bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, kills 25 people, including three miniseries of the Transitional Federal Government.

Non Sequitur


Xmas Countdown Xmas Stories

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

There were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers. They were all brothers, born of the same old tin spoon. They shouldered their muskets and looked straight ahead of them, splendid in their uniforms, all red and blue.
The very first thing in the world that they heard was, "Tin soldiers!" A small boy shouted it and clapped his hands as the lid was lifted off their box on his birthday. He immediately set them up on the table.
All the soldiers looked exactly alike except one. He looked a little different as he had been cast last of all. The tin was short, so he had only one leg. But there he stood, as steady on one leg as any of the other soldiers on their two. But just you see, he'll be the remarkable one.
On the table with the soldiers were many other playthings, and one that no eye could miss was a marvelous castle of cardboard. It had little windows through which you could look right inside it. And in front of the castle were miniature trees around a little mirror supposed to represent a lake. The wax swans that swam on its surface were reflected in the mirror. All this was very pretty but prettiest of all was the little lady who stood in the open doorway of the castle. Though she was a paper doll, she wore a dress of the fluffiest gauze. A tiny blue ribbon went over her shoulder for a scarf, and in the middle of it shone a spangle that was as big as her face. The little lady held out both her arms, as a ballet dancer does, and one leg was lifted so high behind her that the tin soldier couldn't see it at all, and he supposed she must have only one leg, as he did.
"That would be a wife for me," he thought. "But maybe she's too grand. She lives in a castle. I have only a box, with four-and-twenty roommates to share it. That's no place for her. But I must try to make her acquaintance." Still as stiff as when he stood at attention, he lay down on the table behind a snuffbox, where he could admire the dainty little dancer who kept standing on one leg without ever losing her balance.
When the evening came the other tin soldiers were put away in their box, and the people of the house went to bed. Now the toys began to play among themselves at visits, and battles, and at giving balls. The tin soldiers rattled about in their box, for they wanted to play too, but they could not get the lid open. The nutcracker turned somersaults, and the slate pencil squeaked out jokes on the slate. The toys made such a noise that they woke up the canary bird, who made them a speech, all in verse. The only two who stayed still were the tin soldier and the little dancer. Without ever swerving from the tip of one toe, she held out her arms to him, and the tin soldier was just as steadfast on his one leg. Not once did he take his eyes off her.
Then the clock struck twelve and - clack! - up popped the lid of the snuffbox. But there was no snuff in it, no-out bounced a little black bogey, a jack-in-the-box.
"Tin soldier," he said. "Will you please keep your eyes to yourself?" The tin soldier pretended not to hear.
The bogey said, "Just you wait till tomorrow."
But when morning came, and the children got up, the soldier was set on the window ledge. And whether the bogey did it, or there was a gust of wind, all of a sudden the window flew open and the soldier pitched out headlong from the third floor. He fell at breathtaking speed and landed cap first, with his bayonet buried between the paving stones and his one leg stuck straight in the air. The housemaid and the little boy ran down to look for him and, though they nearly stepped on the tin soldier, they walked right past without seeing him. If the soldier had called, "Here I am!" they would surely have found him, but he thought it contemptible to raise an uproar while he was wearing his uniform.
Soon it began to rain. The drops fell faster and faster, until they came down by the bucketful. As soon as the rain let up, along came two young rapscallions.
"Hi, look!" one of them said, "there's a tin soldier. Let's send him sailing."
They made a boat out of newspaper, put the tin soldier in the middle of it, and away he went down the gutter with the two young rapscallions running beside him and clapping their hands. High heavens! How the waves splashed, and how fast the water ran down the gutter. Don't forget that it had just been raining by the bucketful. The paper boat pitched, and tossed, and sometimes it whirled about so rapidly that it made the soldier's head spin. But he stood as steady as ever. Never once flinching, he kept his eyes front, and carried his gun shoulder-high. Suddenly the boat rushed under a long plank where the gutter was boarded over. It was as dark as the soldier's own box.
"Where can I be going?" the soldier wondered. "This must be that black bogey's revenge. Ah! if only I had the little lady with me, it could be twice as dark here for all that I would care."
Out popped a great water rat who lived under the gutter plank.
"Have you a passport?" said the rat. "Hand it over."
The soldier kept quiet and held his musket tighter. On rushed the boat, and the rat came right after it, gnashing his teeth as he called to the sticks and straws:
"Halt him! Stop him! He didn't pay his toll. He hasn't shown his passport. "But the current ran stronger and stronger. The soldier could see daylight ahead where the board ended, but he also heard a roar that would frighten the bravest of us. Hold on! Right at the end of that gutter plank the water poured into the great canal. It was as dangerous to him as a waterfall would be to us.
He was so near it he could not possibly stop. The boat plunged into the whirlpool. The poor tin soldier stood as staunch as he could, and no one can say that he so much as blinked an eye. Thrice and again the boat spun around. It filled to the top - and was bound to sink. The water was up to his neck and still the boat went down, deeper, deeper, deeper, and the paper got soft and limp. Then the water rushed over his head. He thought of the pretty little dancer whom he'd never see again, and in his ears rang an old, old song:
"Farewell, farewell, O warrior brave,
Nobody can from Death thee save."
And now the paper boat broke beneath him, and the soldier sank right through. And just at that moment he was swallowed by a most enormous fish.
My! how dark it was inside that fish. It was darker than under the gutter-plank and it was so cramped, but the tin soldier still was staunch. He lay there full length, soldier fashion, with musket to shoulder.
Then the fish flopped and floundered in a most unaccountable way. Finally it was perfectly still, and after a while something struck through him like a flash of lightning. The tin soldier saw daylight again, and he heard a voice say, "The Tin Soldier!" The fish had been caught, carried to market, bought, and brought to a kitchen where the cook cut him open with her big knife.
She picked the soldier up bodily between her two fingers, and carried him off upstairs. Everyone wanted to see this remarkable traveler who had traveled about in a fish's stomach, but the tin soldier took no pride in it. They put him on the table and-lo and behold, what curious things can happen in this world-there he was, back in the same room as before. He saw the same children, the same toys were on the table, and there was the same fine castle with the pretty little dancer. She still balanced on one leg, with the other raised high. She too was steadfast. That touched the soldier so deeply that he would have cried tin tears, only soldiers never cry. He looked at her, and she looked at him, and never a word was said. Just as things were going so nicely for them, one of the little boys snatched up the tin soldier and threw him into the stove. He did it for no reason at all. That black bogey in the snuffbox must have put him up to it.
The tin soldier stood there dressed in flames. He felt a terrible heat, but whether it came from the flames or from his love he didn't know. He'd lost his splendid colors, maybe from his hard journey, maybe from grief, nobody can say.
He looked at the little lady, and she looked at him, and he felt himself melting. But still he stood steadfast, with his musket held trim on his shoulder.
Then the door blew open. A puff of wind struck the dancer. She flew like a sylph, straight into the fire with the soldier, blazed up in a flash, and was gone. The tin soldier melted, all in a lump. The next day, when a servant took up the ashes she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the pretty dancer nothing was left except her spangle, and it was burned as black as a coal.

Holiday Weight

With all the rich, delicious food consumed over the holidays, it makes sense everyone would gain some weight. But how many pounds does the average person actually pack on? Cristen Conger, from "Stuff Mom Never Told You," joins Anthony to find out.

The Truth About Krampus

As the European tradition of Krampus enters the American consciousness, folks start to wonder why the Krampus depicted on Victorian ephemera resembles the classic description of the devil, while the people who dress up as Krampus every December look more like yetis or some other monster animal. In fact, Krampus looks different in every European region!

So, what should Krampus look like? Al Ridenour, the director of the upcoming Krampusfest in Los Angeles, explains the different looks by giving us the history of the Krampus tradition.
Long before the circulation of any postcards standardizing the image, the isolating Alpine terrain of Krampus’ native habitat encouraged strong regional variations. And without any grounding source text to nail down his appearance, the original Krampus would have been a shapeless bogeyman defined only by oral tradition, a freeform figure variously described by parents and other storytellers. Like the Tooth Fairy, he had a definitive function, but no definitive form.

Whenever the first adults — through whatever combination of playfulness and cruelty — decided to dress up as the first Krampus, they would have created a monster defined by whatever easily available materials could be used for a startling effect. In some cases those materials were the horns and pelts of mountain goats, and in others, straw or hay set aside as winter fodder. Today, though some costumes may be produced by mass production, they still imitate the look established by materials regionally available in Alpine valleys.
The earliest written descriptions of Krampus surfaced in the 17th century, although the custom, under various names, pre-dates Christianity. Learn about those early versions of Krampus and decide for yourself what The Krampus should look like, after you read about them at Atlas Obscura.

Something Extra

Celtic expansion was no doubt due to over-population. Even today, the Scots and Irish have a very high birth-rate. It seems likely that the Celts reached the north-south section of the Danube by the 4th century BCE as is shown by several La Tene B cemetaries in the Danube bend and north-eastern Hungary. Transylvania too came under Celtic rule. The sudden and conspicuous increase in the number of sites in Trans-Danuvia, north-eastern Hungary and the Great Hungarian Plain implies that these areas also came under Celtic hegemony when, in the late 4th and early 3rd century BCE, tribes from the middle Rhine region set out to conquer new territories in the south. Celtic graves appear in the cemeteries of the Iranian-speaking Scythians in the Great Hungarian Plain from the mid-3rd century BCE while settlements yielding distinctively Celtic finds can be dated roughly to the same time, which suggests that Celtic expansion was relatively peaceful and did not meet with particulary strong resistance.

Random Photos

Did you know ...

That recessions are linked to cognitive decline in later years

That a man sues over blog posts about his 'micro-penis'

That reports of comet Ison's death in the sun may have been greatly exaggerated

Here's the troll flow chart

North Carolina Will Be America’s National Nightmare if repugicans Control Government

North Carolina is the true predictor and portent of tragedy inherent when repugicans hold the reins of power.…
republican warning label
A portent is a warning that something, usually something calamitous, is likely to happen that should move intelligent human beings to action to prevent a disaster if it is within their power. Many Americans understand, and warned voters, that it would be calamitous and a threat to their well-being if repugicans controlled all three branches of the federal government. With their inclination toward religious extremism, pandering to the wealthy, destroying democracy, and addiction to creating a sick population steeped in poverty, one can only imagine the nightmare of an America under repugican control.
After the 2010 midterm elections, many Americans in red states where teabaggers and extremist repugicans swept into power learned their failure to heed Democrats’ warnings was a monumental error. Residents in states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, and Texas can attest to the disaster repugicans can wreak on a population, but likely North Carolina is the true predictor and portent of tragedy inherent when repugicans hold the reins of power. Although other repugican-controlled states feel the influence of the Koch brothers’ vision of a transformed America, North Carolinians suffer the added influence of a state-level Koch brother with inordinate power over the governor.
Recently, at the Heritage Foundation, North Carolina’s governor represented himself as a corporate acolyte exalting the benefits of government efficiency measures and infrastructure development, but he was not describing himself. In the course of less than a year, with a repugican-dominated legislature, Pat McCrony laid waste to millions of North Carolinians in what repugicans see as a model for the rest of the states and the nation. In fact, repugicans and their Heritage Foundation masters likely consider North Carolina’s experiment in extreme wingnuttery a raging success because N.C. repugicans’ campaign against women, the poor, and people of color is inflicting real pain with little relief or hope for change in the near future. There is a backlash against McCrony and repugicans by a coalition of “groups including the NAACP, labor unions, environmental groups, and abortion-rights advocates,” but with the repugicans’ restrictive voting laws and redistricting, their hope for change is “a long term goal.”
If Americans truly want to envision what living in a nation governed by wingnut purists entails, there is no better representation of a “transformed America” according to the Koch brothers’ than North Carolina. In the Kochs’ vision, education spending is a travesty, and North Carolina repugicans cut more than half-a-billion dollars from public education this summer in addition to greater cuts in 2011 directly after the 2010 midterm elections put repugicans in control of the state legislature. The cuts mean larger class sizes, drastically less money for school supplies, and at least 5,000 teachers will lose their jobs with no hope of unemployment benefits.
In July, McCrony cut off jobless benefits to 70,000 unemployed North Carolinians for no apparent reason other than expanding the poverty ranks. McCrony eliminated unemployment benefits and rejected over $700 million in federal money to help the unemployed because he opposed a contingency that the state did not cut benefits. Rejecting the federal funding informs McCrony was going to eliminate unemployment benefits one way or the other, and according to a National Employment Law Project lawyer, McCrony’s action is “the harshest unemployment insurance program cuts in our nation’s history.”
To augment suffering for unemployed and poor residents, McCrony joined 23 other repugican-controlled states in rejecting Medicaid expansion citing budget control measures. However, the federal government picks up 100% of the cost for the first three years and covers at least 90% of the costs thereafter. Rejecting free healthcare for the state’s poorest residents has nothing to do with budgetary controls, and everything to do with a wingnut policy of keeping poor people sick because good health is a privilege reserved for the wealthy.
North Carolina repugicans enacted a favorite wingnut christian policy and Governor McCrony followed Texas governor Rick Perry’s lead in signing severe abortion restrictions despite his campaign pledge not to support further limitations on abortion. The Draconian abortion law likely will close all but on abortion clinic, and was covertly slipped into a bill dealing with motorcycle safety measures. Besides closing down most of the state’s abortion clinics, the legislation also eliminated abortion coverage in private healthcare plans for city and county employees as well as those in private healthcare exchange plans under the Affordable Care Act.
Unfortunately McCrony and repugicans’ extreme wingnut policies are not in danger of being overturned anytime soon because North Carolina took little time restricting voting rights shortly after the wingnut Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Besides blocking over 316,000 North Carolinians’ right to vote due to ALEC model voter ID laws, repugicans eliminated same-day voter registration, severely cut early voting, and ended a program allowing high-school students to pre-register to vote. The repugicans did not even use “voter fraud” as justification for “the most comprehensive attack on the right to vote that this state has enacted since the institution of Jim Crow” according to North Carolina’s NAACP president. The real reason (racism) was revealed when a local repugican official said, “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.”
If Americans think McCrony and the repugican legislature’s extremist agenda is localized to a southern red state and could never happen at the federal level, they are deluded; every one of the harsh policies has been proposed by repugicans in Congress. Whether it is eliminating abortion rights, abolishing unemployment benefits, cutting education spending, weakening campaign finance laws, ending healthcare for the poor, giving tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the poor, or redistricting to benefit repugican candidates, there is nothing McCrony hasn’t enacted that congressional repugicans do not support and have not attempted. Although voting laws are the purview of the states, repugicans in Congress have not made any attempt to adjust the Voting Rights Act according to the suggestion of the Supreme Court.
For many Americans, what has transpired in North Carolina is a cautionary tale, a portent of what America under repugican control will look like; it is reality for the people of North Carolina. Although there is a movement to change the conditions in North Carolina, there is no hope of change in the near future. It is important to remember that what happened in North Carolina is the result of the 2010 midterm elections and voters who failed to heed the warnings that if repugicans gain control of the government they will impose extreme right wing policies and make sure Koch’s vision of a transformed America reaches fruition just like they did in North Carolina.

The repugican hate for the poor is beyond refute

At BlueNC, James writes—The Great North Carolina repugican cabal Tax Increase of 2014:
When repugicans talk about their big tax cut coming in January, people will be forgiven for not getting all that excited. The bottom rate will drop from 6.0% to 5.8%, which qualifies as nothing more than chump change. For a person making $25,000, the tax cut is whopping $50. Impressive. Of course, if you happen to be a high-income earner, the picture is a lot prettier. Your tax rate will drop from 7.75% to 5.8%. So if you're making $200,000, you'll get a $3,900 tax break. In other words, your benefit from the repugican plan is 78 times higher than the person at the bottom of the income scale. Seventy-eight freaking times!

But the gift that keeps on giving doesn't stop there. In addition to that whopping $50 savings, all income earners will now be paying taxes on movies, museums, live entertainment, service contracts, warranties, maintenance agreements, repair contracts, electricity and natural gas, manufactured homes and modular homes sold at retail, and a whole lot more. So if you spend as little as $5,000 on all of those services combined, you'll be paying an additional $235 each year. Most people will pay twice that.

Over the month ahead, right wing nutjobs will be singing the praises of tax reform as a giant step forward for North Carolina families. Don't buy their bullshit. You've been played. This is nothing more than the old bait and switch, and the only people who will make out are ... you guessed it ... the rich and well-to-do.

The Truth Be Told


The Wingnuts' Misconstrued Constitution

by Robert Parry
The Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 6, 2013. (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times)The Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in WashingtonThe US Supreme Court will rule on the right of a corporation owned by abortion opponents to assert its freedom of religion on health insurance, trumping a woman’s choice of birth control, another chance for the Right to expand corporate rights, says Robert Parry.
The five wingnuts on the U.S. Supreme Court may soon recognize the “religious freedom” of corporations so that these artificial constructs can then dictate to female human citizens restrictions on the kinds of contraceptives that they can get through their work-place health insurance plans.
That may sound crazy but some court watchers believe that the Wingnut Five will follow the logic of their “corporations-are-people” theories to this next nutty conclusion. After all, if corporations have First Amendment rights of “free speech” when they are financing political propaganda to influence the outcome of U.S. elections, there is a consistency – albeit a bizarre one – to extending to corporations the First Amendment’s “religious freedom.”
Already unlimited corporate money in campaigns has drowned out regular human citizens in terms of who (or what) has the bigger say in the outcome of elections, so why shouldn’t the religious choices of corporations override the personal and moral judgments of people who work for the corporations?
We’ll get a better sense of whether the Five – Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – will make their next leap of logic when the case gets to oral arguments. But whatever the Five do, you can count on them wrapping their reasoning in their claims to be devotees of an “originalist” view of the U.S. Constitution or as “strict constructionists.”
The reality, though, is that the Five’s modus operandi is to reach an ideological conclusion about what they want to do based on their political opinions or partisan needs and then find some legal-sounding language to wrap around the ruling.
See, for instance, their reasoning for gutting the Voting Rights Act, despite the Constitution’s Fifteenth Amendment explicitly authorizing Congress to take action it deems necessary to ensure the voting rights of racial minorities. Somehow the Five intuited an overpowering right of the states not to have their discriminatory behavior so constrained, all the better for repugicans and wingnut to 'win' elections.
An earlier grouping of the Five found similar excuses for shutting down the counting of votes in Florida in December 2000 to install the shrub as President even though Al Gore got more votes nationally and would have carried Florida, too, if all ballots legal under Florida law were counted.
Scalia first issued an injunction to stop the vote-counting because he feared that a tally showing the shrub behind might damage the shrub’s “legitimacy” once Scalia and four other repugican justices got around to throwing out Gore’s votes and putting the shrub ahead; then Scalia’s group devised an upside-down interpretation of the “equal rights” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to ensure that the votes of blacks and other minorities were more likely to be tossed than those of whites and the well-to-do.
It was clear that these repugican partisans started off with their conclusion — that the shrub should be President and thus have the power to appoint more wingnut justices – and then cobbled together some mismatched arguments for a ruling so ugly that they declared that it could never be cited as a precedent in future cases. [For details, see Neck Deep.]
Targeting Obamacare
Though in upholding the Affordable Care Act in 2012, Chief Justice Roberts split off from Alito and his three amigos (Thomas, Alito and Kennedy), Roberts joined in their rejection of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause as the principal support for the law.
In doing so, the Five ignored the clear intent of the Framers to give the federal government’s elected representatives broad powers to do whatever they judged necessary to “provide for … the general Welfare of the United States” and — through the Commerce Clause — the power to regulate interstate commerce, which clearly applied to the health insurance industry.
But to make the wingnut case, Scalia again resorted to legal sophistry and rhetorical trickery. For instance, Scalia’s dissent against the Supreme Court’s narrow endorsement of the Affordable Care Act (based on the government’s taxing authority) pretended that Alexander Hamilton, an arch-Federalist who favored a powerful role for the federal government, would have sided with the law’s opponents regarding their concern about using the Commerce Clause to mandate that people obtain health insurance.
Scalia wrote: “If Congress can reach out and command even those furthest removed from an interstate market to participate in the market, then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton’s words, ‘the hideous monster whose devouring jaws  . . .  spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor pro­fane.’” Scalia footnoted Hamilton’s Federalist Paper No. 33.
However, in Federalist Paper No. 33, Hamilton was not writing about the Commerce Clause. He was referring to clauses in the Constitution that grant Congress the power to make laws that are “necessary and proper” for executing its powers and that establish federal law as “the supreme law of the land.”
Hamilton also wasn’t condemning those powers, as Scalia and his friends would have you believe. Hamilton was defending the two clauses by poking fun at the opponents of the Constitution as alarmists who had stirred up opposition to the new governing document by issuing wild-eyed warnings about federal tyranny.
In the cited section of No. 33, Hamilton is saying the two clauses had been unfairly targeted by “virulent invective and petulant declamation.”
It is in that context that Hamilton complains that the two clauses “have been held up to the people in all the exaggerated colors of misrepresentation as the pernicious engines by which their local governments were to be destroyed and their liberties exterminated; as the hideous monster whose devouring jaws would spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.”
In other words, Scalia’s dissent did not only apply Hamilton’s comments to the wrong section of the Constitution but reversed their meaning. Hamilton was mocking those who were claiming that these clauses would be “the hideous monster.”
Originalist Thinking
Scalia and the Wingnuts also misrepresent the actual “originalist” thinking of the Framers. The drafters of the Constitution decided on a system of checks and balances (primarily devised by James Madison) that required deliberate action but gave the nation’s elected representatives nearly unlimited authority to do what they deemed necessary for the good of the country.
But American wingnuts are no more honest about the Constitution than they are about most other things. Indeed, an objective reading of the Founding era’s history reveals the Framers of the Constitution to have possessed a much more robust view of federal government activism on behalf of American citizens and the country than the modern Right wants you to know.
The Framers of the Constitution, after all, were the Federalists, led by the likes of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison (in his earlier incarnation as one of Washington’s protégés) and Gouverneur Morris (who was a key drafter of the famous Preamble). This group, which dominated the Constitutional Convention in 1787, were pragmatic nationalists, devising a system that gave the central government all the necessary powers to make the young, sprawling country succeed.
That’s why the Constitution grants sweeping powers to the federal government to “provide for … the general Welfare” and to enact whatever legislation is deemed “necessary and proper” to achieve that and other goals. The language about the “general Welfare” appears both in the Preamble and in Article I, Section 8, the so-called “enumerated powers.” It is an open-ended concept giving wide discretion to the country’s elected representatives.
And that’s not just a retrospective view from the 21st Century. Both at the Philadelphia convention in 1787 and in the ratification fight of 1788, the Framers were opposed by the Anti-Federalists who also perceived the Constitution to be a major concentration of power in the central government. The states went from being “sovereign” and “independent” under the Articles of Confederation to “subordinately useful,” in Madison’s notable phrase.
‘General Welfare’ Clause
As historian Jada Thacker has noted, in the “general Welfare” clause and the “elastic” language of “necessary and proper,” the Constitution put into the hands of Congress and other federal agencies the authority to meet whatever might confront the nation in the future.
“When viewed in light of the ambiguous authorization of the Article’s first clause (which includes the ‘general Welfare’ language), the importance of the “necessary and proper” clause truly is astonishing. Taken together, these clauses – restated in the vernacular – flatly announce that ‘Congress can make any law it feels is necessary to provide for whatever it considers the general welfare of the country.’”
That was precisely how the Constitution was interpreted by dissidents at the Convention. As New Yorker Robert Yates wrote after walking out in Philadelphia:
“This government is to possess absolute and uncontrollable power, legislative, executive and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends. … The government then, so far as it extends, is a complete one. … It has the authority to make laws which will affect the lives, the liberty, and the property of every man in the United States; nor can the constitution or the laws of any state, in any way prevent or impede the full and complete execution of every power given.”
When the Constitution was sent to state conventions for ratification, the Anti-Federalists continued to make their case against the transfer of power from the states to the federal government. In Virginia, leading Anti-Federalists Patrick Henry and George Mason tried to rally opposition by warning plantation owners that eventually the North would come to dominate the federal government and end slavery.
“They’ll free your niggers,” warned Patrick Henry.
Though the Constitution eked through to ratification, the Anti-Federalists did not give up their fight against the governing document. Their strategy changed, however, into seeking to reinterpret it. Rallying behind the charismatic figure of fellow slaveholder Thomas Jefferson, who had been in France during the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists sought to constrain federal powers by insisting that the plain language of the document didn’t mean what it said.
This reinterpretation of the Constitution – spearheaded by Southerners fearful of the eventual loss of their massive investment in slavery – explains the extraordinary bitterness of the battle between the Jeffersonians and the Federalists in the 1790s.
Ultimately, due to Federalist missteps inherent in the complexity of setting up a new government – mistakes skillfully exploited by Jeffersonian propagandists – Jefferson prevailed in developing extra-constitutional theories like the right of states to “nullify” federal laws or even secede. Jefferson defined his reassertion of states’ rights as ”strict constructionism” but it was clearly not what the original Framers had intended in 1787.
However, as President, even Jefferson adopted the “pragmatic nationalism” of the Federalists when he justified buying the Louisiana Territories from France and imposing a trade embargo against European states.
Madison, who shifted his allegiance from the Federalists to the Jeffersonians (and thus saved his political career among his fellow Virginian slaveholders), also embraced more expansive federal powers after nearly losing the War of 1812. To help fund the government and build a professional military, Madison set up the Second Bank of the United States before leaving office in 1817. (Treasury Secretary Hamilton had created the First Bank of the United States under President Washington.)
Though defeated politically by the early 19th Century, the Federalists — or at least their view of the Constitution – prevailed as the central government took on more and more responsibility for building the young and expanding nation. Ironically, too, the warning from Patrick Henry and George Mason about the fate of slavery also turned out to be prescient. Eventually, the North did move to eradicate slavery at the end of the Civil War.
Then, in the face of the Great Depression in the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt again tapped into the “pragmatic nationalism” of the Federalists, enacting wide-ranging social legislation to provide for the “general Welfare.” The Federalists’ Constitution – written so future generations could deal with unanticipated challenges threatening the nation’s well-being – continued to prevail through the 1960s and into the 1970s.
Continued Resistance
However, the Wingnuts never abandoned they're crimped and revisionist interpretation of the Constitution, that it didn’t empower the federal government to do what the words of the Constitution said. Especially, in the South, white supremacists continued to insist on the extra-constitutional theories of “nullification” and on state “sovereignty,” though it was eliminated when the Articles of Confederation were scrapped in 1787.
Though not based on a literal reading of the Constitution’s words, the Right’s revisionist interpretation gained traction because of the increased power of right-wing propaganda and because the American Left generally disdained the Constitution for other reasons, its defense of property rights and its compromises with Southern slaveholders.
So, instead of the Wingnut’s interpretation being viewed as make-believe, many Americans came to see the Wingnuts as defending the Founding document and liberals and the Left as violating its principles. Justice Scalia, in particular, has pushed this notion that he represents the “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution though he clearly doesn’t. He really is just a right-wing ideologue who passes himself off as a legal theorist.
But that is the way the Wingnuts have rolled when it comes to the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, whose primary author and creator was Alexander Hamilton. The wingnut ideologues cherry-pick a few quotes from the Federalist Papers and twist whatever words might be useful in the Constitution — and then count on the mainstream news media to shy away from any serious debate over the “complexity” of the constitutional history.
With such legal “scholarship” prevailing, it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that today’s Supreme Court Five might end up ruling that a corporation’s “freedom of religion” trumps the religious and moral beliefs of actual citizens. Whatever it takes to undermine Obamacare!

The rnc Claims Rosa Parks Ended Racism, Demonstrating What’s Wrong with the repugican cabal

rosa parks 
The repugican national cabal claimed in a tweet that racism is dead, “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.”
And then they corrected it with “Previous tweet should have read ‘Today we remember Rose Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.’ Apparently someone informed them that contrary to their PR push, minorities are still insisting that racism exists.
Yes, that’s right patriots, racism is dead, except when the repugican cabal (see above) is denying African Americans the right to vote or suggesting (via their PR arm at Faux News) that Trayvon Martin was a “thug” or wrongly asserting that most welfare recipients are “urban” (their code for “African American) “takers”.
Rosa Parks is called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. The rnc’s tweet is not a gaffe – but rather, the statement of people who don’t get it.
The repugicans fight against civil rights and freedom for anyone who isn’t white, rich, male and heterosexual. They stand for the status quo and the patriarchy. Rosa Parks did not.
Over the past weekend we celelbrated the anniversary of the day Rosa Parks was arrested because she refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her refusal to move spurred a city-wide boycott. Guess who would have her arrested today? The rnc.
The repugicans have been trying to claim racism is dead since Obama got elected. It was going to be their one consolation to take away their need to heed “political correctness”. And yet, it never occurred to them that they are not in charge of determining when racism is over. That call is best left to people who actually experience it.
Only a racist would think that they are the privileged people who get to determine when other people’s experiences are over. Why else would they assume a smug superiority over others? Sure, it’s covert racism and not overt — but it’s still judging people based on nothing but their skin color and finding that they are naturally, inherently below you so that you are in charge of naming their experiences.
But what can you expect from the repugican cabal who held their rebranding to minorities meeting in a plantation room named for a “state’s rights” (aka, pro-slavery) defending slave owner.
Racism isn’t dead. The repugican cabal do their part to keep it alive with their rhetoric and their policies.

Howard Dean Goes Off On repugicans and the Media for Questioning Obama’s Competence

After having to listen to Candy Crowley and Rick Santorum question President Obama’s competence, Howard Dean went off and called the whole thing right wing talking point nonsense.
CROWLEY: Senator, I think you have a differing view just because I was watching your reaction as Joe was reporting.
SANTORUM: Yes, this really feeds into the president’s competence. That’s really the question that the people have, is the president competent to do his job? And Obamacare is certainly front and center. What’s going on in the Middle East is another area. There’s a whole group of issues now that people are questioning. And you talk to anybody. I’ve talked — I talked to an insurance — some people in the insurance industry this morning. And they told me that most of the front end may be looking good. People may be able to get on and get responses, but the information coming out the back end to the insurance companies is still garbage. It’s undecipherable. And it’s requiring them to, on a case-by-case basis, actually have someone go — because there’s misinformation, there’s triplicates, there’s husbands labeled as wives. There’s all sorts of problems with the data coming into the insurance companies. So you think you may have signed up, but you may not, because the insurance company may not have the data available to actually put you in the system.
CROWLEY: And Governor, to pick up on sort of the broader point from Senator Santorum. And that is that there has been this unease that has — that started, you know, probably earlier than the launch of the website, but nonetheless has continued.
I want to show you a CNN ORC poll. This is a good track, bad track, how well do you think things are going in the country today question. And right now, 59 percent of the country thinks things are going badly.
Now, that is up from September. It is nine points above April. So there has been this steady deterioration for how people feel about the direction the country’s going. People no longer see President Obama — I think only 40 percent of people see President Obama as able to kind of run the government. Is there that kind of lasting damage? That’s certainly what Senator Santorum is talking about.
DEAN: No, I think there’s no evidence for that at all. Again, I think that’s right-wing talking points against this president. They’ve from day one when he got in there, they tried to undermine him as a human being. And I think that’s, you know, it’s not a tactic that’s good for the country. So my view is —
CROWLEY: Governor, it’s true you had some — it’s true that you had reservations. You didn’t like this when it first rolled out, right?
DEAN: No, this is — look, this is not from my point of view an ideal plan, but this is what passed the Congress and this is the law. And Romney did the same, something very similar in Massachusetts, and it’s worked very well. So who am I to say that the court — the Supreme Court and the Congress of the United States is wrong all the time? I think we ought to make this thing work. It’s the law. It can work. Mitt Romney proved it did work in Massachusetts, where 98.5 percent of all of Massachusetts citizens have health insurance. I fail to see this has anything to do with the president’s competence, other than the procurement process, which has been screwed up for many years, long before this president ever got into office.
So I lose my patience with this nonsense. And I do believe that the facts are going to be determined by what happens on the ground. And I think three months from now, a lot more people will have health insurance, and a lot more people will be happy with all of this.
Former Gov. Dean finally said what Democrats should have been saying for weeks. This is all nonsense. The repugicans and their media allies need to be called out on it. Candy Crowley was wrong. We do not need to wait and see if the website works when people are on it. The website has been working for weeks with people on it. Between Sunday and Tuesday of last week, 20,000 people signed up.
Only an idiot who hasn’t been paying attention, or completely insulated inside the Beltway lazy journalist wouldn’t know that. The repugicans have managed to trump up the ACA website issues to the same level as their other bogus scandals.
Howard Dean had enough of this nonsense, and he called it out. Democrats out number repugicans in this country, and they to a person should be doing the exact same thing.
It is time to stand up, fight back, and kill this lie.

Biased ABC News Refuses to Believe That the Healthcare.gov Website is Fixed

The mainstream media is taking the news that the ACA website is fixed very badly today, but few are taking it worse than biased ABC News. ABC is refusing to admit that the site is fixed.
ABC News used the headline “White House Declares Obamacare Website Fixed, But Problems Persist,” which basically accused the White House of lying about the status of the ACA website.
The problem is that ABC’s own story contradicts their biased headline.
The story states that,
Two months after the troubled launch of its signature health care initiative, the Obama administration on Sunday announced that its online insurance marketplace now functions smoothly for the “vast majority” of consumers seeking to shop for and enroll in coverage.
“We’ve doubled the system’s capacity and HealthCare.gov can now support its intended volume,” said Jeff Zients, the administration official overseeing repairs to the system, on a conference call with reporters today.
The website can handle 50,000 concurrent users and 800,000 users per day, Zients said, marking a significant improvement from October when it crashed under the weight of just several thousand visitors. The site’s response time and error rate for applicants have also vastly improved, he said.
ABC based their headline on the fact that the website has a downtime rate of 5%. Most website owners will tell you that they want 100% uptime, but that is unrealistic. Every website is going to fail or go down at some point, so the most realistic expectation is for 99%+ uptime. The ACA website is at 95%, which is a gigantic improvement from the 40% uptime rate when the site launched.
ABC News needed something to keep the broken website story alive with, so they decided that reducing a 60% downtime rate to 5% was a total disaster that meant that the White House was not telling the truth about the health of the healthcare website.
Whether ABC News all of the other corporate media outlets want to face it or not, the ACA website is vastly improved and working for people who want to sign up for access to affordable healthcare.
The media refused to embrace reality, chose to listen to the Republican Party’s delusional fantasies about the ACA website being broken forever, and now they are paying the price.
ABC News is still pushing debunked repugican shouting points about the website. This is another example of why ABC News has no credibility, and why the corporate media can’t be trusted.

The latest repugican cabal 'Scandal' Dies as repugicans Are Reduced To Whining About the Back End of ACA Website

You can tell the ACA website scandal is dying because Rick Santorum was hauled out to concern troll about the "back end". …
rick santorum
CNN’s Joe Johns updated Candy Crowley on the White House’s progress report on Healthcare.gov, which they say can now handle approximately 50,000 users at a time. This didn’t stop Rick Santorum from announcing on CNN’s State of the Union that ObamaCare is still disastrous because the “back end” is garbage.
Demonstrating how in touch he is with average Americans who’ve been denied healthcare by insurance company death panels, Santorum said that while the website might work better, the main question is “Is Obama competent?”
But also, you can talk to “anybody” — well, Santorum talked to some people in the insurance industry, and while most of the front end may be looking good, Santorum said insurance companies will struggle to sign people up for plans. “The information coming out the back end to the insurance companies is still garbage. It’s undecipherable.” Listing off the “misinformation”, Santorum went into his favorite area of moral superiority, “There’s husbands labeled as wives…”
We have no idea upon whose information Santorum based his intel regarding what comes out of the “back end” of the website other than his claim that it was people in the insurance industry (known for their honesty and love for being regulated by ObamaCare), but this is a man who calls a years old law a bill out of a partisan grudge, so chances are high that he’s exaggerating for partisan purposes.
In case you’re wondering, the “back end” is a real thing, and not more projection from the repugican cabal. If the front end is the interface between the user and the back end, the back end is where things go that the user can’t see, like programming, databases, scripts and other automated functions the server performs.
A very concerned Santorum said worst of all was you may think you have signed up, but you may not. Yes, this is from the party who wants to repeal the entire law, now pretending to be upset because not everyone is getting signed up. TRUST.
It shocks no one with a working brain cell that the ObamaCare website is getting better. The website was overwhelmed and underfunded, due to repugicans refusing to run state exchanges as planned and then refusing to fund an expansion to the federal site to handle the overflow. This is like building a tunnel meant for 50 cars and flooding it with 5,000 cars. There’s going to be a long traffic backup getting into that tunnel.
This is the anatomy of yet another “scandal” dying. The only difference here is that this one had actual issues, but they weren’t scandalous. They were predictable, they were not done deliberately, and they were always going to be fixed.
You can tell the scandal is dying because Rick Santorum had to be hauled out to concern troll about the “back end”.

In a Bid to Attack Obamacare, the repugican cabal Suddenly Pretends to be Interested in Education

John Kline, head of the House Education Committee, ignores his own long history of defunding public schools to claim Obamacare forces drastic cuts on education funding…
John Kline (R-MN) head of the House Education Committee
John Kline (r-MN) head of the House Education Committee
The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that John Kline (r-MN) has found a new angle to attack the Affordable Care Act: education. Kline, a representative of a cabal that has spent years undermining public schools by cutting funding for education, is suddenly pretending to be concerned about the healthcare law’s affect on school district funding. As just one example of repugican attitudes toward education, in 2012, the National Education Association (NEA) had this to say about the infamous Ryan Budget:
The Ryan budget is projected to slash education funding by $115 billion over ten years — hurting the neediest students, causing class sizes to rise even further, forcing elimination of more programs aimed at providing a well-rounded education, and putting more public servants in unemployment lines.
Not Kline, you say? In fact, Kline voted for the Ryan Budget.
And just this past July, John Kline’s H.R. 5, the ironically named “Student Success Act,” (a “No Child Left Behind” rewrite) went up for a vote in the House and passed 221-207. No Democrat voted for this anti-education bill. Twelve repugicans voted against it. President Obama promised to veto it if it ever appeared on his desk.
The Student Success Act held no surprises: it was a promotion of highly profitable (for repugicans if not students and families) charter schools, and would have made drastic cuts in education funding while pretty much eliminating anything resembling performance standards for schools (repugicans call this “reducing the federal footprint”). Unsurprisingly for repugican canbal legislation, H.R. 5 would have hurt minority students the most.
Kline heads the House Education Committee and, like so many Republican hacks (think of Lamar Smith (r-TX), head of the House Science Committee, who does not want the EPA to base its regulations on actual science), is unfortunately in a position to do the most harm. He claims that school districts plan to “cut back on programs and part-time staffers to meet the demands of the health care law,” reports the Star Tribune.
“Americans continue to express their concerns about ObamaCare and the troubling impact it is having on their lives, and our nation’s schools are not immune to the consequences of this law,” Kline said before his committee hearing on the subject in November, the hypocritically themed, “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.”
In Hastings, a pleasant little city south of the Twin Cities, the school district is “already [planning] to hire classroom aides, food service and transportation employees for 5.75-hour workdays instead of eight hours to avoid providing them insurance,” reports the Star Tribune.
“You’re looking at dollars and centers, and you’re going to have to make choices,” says Kline.
Kline and his party have already made those choices. In fact, Kline has a long history of hating on education. Kline’s anti-education stance has earned him failing grades from the NEA, including a despicable 17 percent rating in 2003. In 2006 he voted against $10.2 billion for education (the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act) and in 2007 against $84 billion for black and Hispanic colleges.
With adequate funding, our school districts would be facing no hard choices with regard any program. But Republicans would rather run them into the ground and privatize education as a money-making activity for Republicans. There is gold in them there classrooms, Jeb.
There is also the Affordable Care Act, the law no Republican can accept and survive politically. As the Star Tribune points out, the federal shutdown “left Republicans and their poll numbers reeling” (think how many education problems that $24 billion they wasted would have solved) and their way of compensating is to attack the ACA some more. Yes, your attack failed miserably the first time and made the plague more popular than you, so you “bounce back” by attacking it again.
The Star Tribune quoted Superintendent Daniel Bittman of the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District near St. Cloud as saying, “There are so many unanswered questions at the federal level.” Bittmann said that, “We absolutely support the idea and the intent of the law, but for school districts it creates an absolute challenge.”
It is interesting that the mainstream media is suddenly concerned about education. The repugicans have been waging war on education for years – and not just public schools but universities and colleges. But now that we have a law that provides people (many for the first time ever) with the opportunity to have health insurance, suddenly there is concern about education.
It would be nice if media outlets would occasionally ask school districts how they felt about repugican cuts in education. Those questions just aren’t as important.

The Truth Hurts


Leaked UN document: countries want to end War on Drugs and prohibition

A rare, leaked UN document reveals deep divisions among member-states about the war on drugs, with many nations demanding treatment and decriminalization instead of prohibition. The draft document, dating from September, is from the UN's attempt to set a global policy on drugs and drug trafficking. The document shows Ecuador demanding an official statement "that the world needs to look beyond prohibition" and Venezuela seeking recognition of "the economic implications of the current dominating health and law enforcement approach in tackling the world drug problem." Other dissenters include Norway, Switzerland and the EU.
The divisions highlighted in the draft are potentially important. The document will form the basis of a joint "high-level" statement on drugs to be published in the spring, setting out the UN's thinking. This will then pave the way for a general assembly review, an event that occurs every 10 years, and, in 2016, will confirm the UN's position for the next decade. "The idea that there is a global consensus on drugs policy is fake," said Damon Barrett, deputy director of the charity Harm Reduction International. "The differences have been there for a long time, but you rarely get to see them. It all gets whittled down to the lowest common denominator, when all you see is agreement. But it's interesting to see now what they are arguing about."
The current review, taking place in Vienna at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, comes after South American countries threw down the gauntlet to the US at this year's Organisation of American States summit meeting, when they argued that alternatives to prohibition must be considered.
Countries such as Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico have become increasingly critical of the UN's prohibition stance, claiming that maintaining the status quo plays into the hands of the cartels and paramilitary groups.
The draft reveals that Ecuador is pushing the UN to include a statement that recognises that the world needs to look beyond prohibition. Its submission claims there is "a need for more effective results in addressing the world drug problem" that will encourage "deliberations on different approaches that could be more efficient and effective".

EU to UK: don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out

A poll of voters in the UK, Germany, France and Poland finds the UK's position in the EU in a precarious state. It's well understood that there's widespread hostility to EU membership in the UK, with the xenophobic (and racist, and sexist, and unbelievably cruel) UK Independence Party gaining ground and the UK Tories fighting back by espousing eugenics and swearing to renegotiate the UK's position in Europe.
But what's news is the sentiment in Europe, where voters are indifferent-to-hostile to the UK, and seemingly prepared for the country to make an exit from the European Parliament. Only 9% of Germans and 15% of French voters polled think that the UK is a force for good in the EU (Poles were more bullish, but still decidedly lacklustre, at 33%).
It also reveals that more UK voters feel an affinity with the US than with their European neighbours, whereas our EU partners tend to choose other EU nations. When asked who they would generally support on occasions when there was a disagreement between the US and EU countries, 37% of UK respondent said they would tend to support America; just 10% would generally side with Europe.
British people are not negative about everything the EU does: 54% think free movement rules are good for tourism against 6% who think the reverse. There is also strong endorsement for free-trade benefits. Nearly half of those polled say the absence of customs controls and tariffs on goods and services is an advantage. Only 10% see free trade as a disadvantage.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: "This is a fascinating and comprehensive study into the relative relationships between countries within and about the EU. We, on these islands feel, due to our history as a globally trading nation, much more at home with our cousins in the Anglosphere than we do with our friends on the continent."



Photos of "the world's most exquisite libraries"

Here's a gallery of photos from the amazing new book The Library: A World History by James W. P. Campbell and Will Pryce, published in October. It's the first comprehensive history of library buildings through the ages by Cambridge University's James Campbell, and its centrepiece are the magnificent photos by Will Pryce.

Snow taxi mysteriously appears at taxi rank

A taxi made entirely of snow mysteriously appeared overnight at a taxi rank in Changchun in north east China.

Residents said they had no idea who was responsible for the impressive sculpture.

Glaciers Sizzle!

Scientists have recorded and identified one of the most prominent sounds of a warming planet: the sizzle of glacier ice as it melts into th...

Unifying Gravity and Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanics may seem like it is beyond our realm of experience; however, it is an integral part of the physics that governs our lives. Yet, it is not without its problems. There is one very important aspect of our everyday experience that is not described in a quantum framework-- and that is gravity. Because it keeps matter together, gravity is one of the driving forces of the cosmos -- and of life itself.

For quite some time, we have struggled with the goal of uniting gravity and quantum mechanics. Nowadays, physicists have had many ideas (some great, others not so much); however, nothing experimentally verifiable (like string theory) has surfaced. That is, until now.

Some physicists are starting to think that gravity itself is the ultimate decoherence, or the weakest form of background noise. To learn about new experiments that can help us solve this problem, see:

Daily Comic Relief


Upping the Cute Factor

Boy in coma could lose 'best friend' after authorities said she was dangerous

A boy in Germany who has been in a coma since birth could lose his best friend, an American Staffordshire Terrier, after authorities said she was dangerous. Since birth, Dylan has been in a persistent vegetative state - but Tascha has been there for the boy from Schönwalde-Glien in Brandenburg. But she is officially considered dangerous by authorities in Brandenburg where she lives who want to take her away from the family.
Dylan is kept alive by a life-support machine but, like other patients with his condition, he occasionally opens his eyes - although when he does he is only partially conscious, according to doctors. "When Tascha lies by him, the boy becomes much calmer and his pulse and breathing relax," said his father Eckhard Gerzmehle. The family bought the dog as a puppy when they lived in Berlin and at first nobody knew what breed she was. When this became clear her owners applied for a dog license. Things went wrong when the family moved from Berlin to Brandenburg two years ago and Tascha later bit and injured another dog.
She is now deemed dangerous by Brandenburg's authorities. According to the Dog Owners' Act she must now be taken from the family and, if necessary, impounded. But opposition to her confiscation has been building online and now there is hope that the friends will be allowed to stay together. When Berlin fireman Jürgen Töpfer read the story, he spontaneously launched a Facebook campaign to prevent Tascha's removal. The 48-year-old began the campaign a week ago and now it has over 150,000 likes. "I'm overwhelmed," said Töpfer who has children of his own.
The Erna Graf Institute for animal protection has also offered the family its support. Chairman Eisenhard von Löper hopes the authorities will see sense. "The boy needs Tascha," he emphasized. Schönewalde-Glien's mayor, Bodo Oehme warned there was no room for negotiation where the Dog Owners' Act is concerned. But he said that sometimes exceptions can be made, for example in cases involving dogs for blind and disabled people. Oehme has been in contact with the family and is waiting to hear back from them over a possible way forward. "The decision over Tascha's future will then soon be reached," he said.

Domesticated reindeer enjoys watching TV

Aatu was only a small calf when his mother abandoned him. He was found in the woods of Savukoski, near Sodankylä in Finnish Lapland. An orphan, he never learned how to be a regular reindeer, his owner says. He was bottle-fed, brought up partly in a house and learned to identify with humans rather than animals - so much so that he likes watching TV: His favorite show is the British police constable series Heartbeat.
Aatu, who lives part-time on a reindeer farm and in the yard of owner Pia Tuukkanen's house, seems to want to be indoors with humans. He knows how to walk carefully on the floors of the house where his owner lives, and he has even been housebroken - well, for the most part.

Early on, local reindeer herders said that a tame reindeer would be no good at work. But that turned out not to be the case: Aatu, now six years old, is an active tourist guide, pulling sleighs full of visitors. According to his owner, he is a social creature, and like a child, he is honest, curious and trusts people.
There are some 200,000 semi-domesticated reindeer in northern Finland, which have traditionally been herded by the indigenous Sámi people. An adult male can weigh up to 160 kilos.

Animal Pictures