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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1189 Philip Augustus, Henry II of England and Frederick Barbarossa assemble the troops for the Third Crusade.
1648 In Maryland, the first woman lawyer in the colonies, Margaret Brent, is denied a vote in the Maryland Assembly.
1785 Chippewa, Delaware, Ottawa and Wyandot Indians sign the treaty of Fort McIntosh, ceding present-day Ohio to the United States.
1790 Joseph Guillotine proposes a new, more humane method of execution: a machine designed to cut off the condemned person's head as painlessly as possible.
1793 The French King Louis XVI is guillotined for treason.
1910 Japan rejects the American proposal to neutralize ownership of the Manchurian Railway.
1919 The German Krupp plant begins producing guns under the U.S. armistice terms.
1921 J.D. Rockefeller pledges $1 million for the relief of Europe's destitute.
1930 An international arms control meeting opens in London.
1933 The League of Nations rejects Japanese terms for settlement with China.
1941 The United States lifts the ban on arms to the Soviet Union.
1942 In North Africa, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel launches a drive to push the British eastward. While the British benefited from radio-intercept-derived Ultra information, the Germans enjoyed an even speedier intelligence source.
1943 A Nazi daylight air raid kills 34 in a London school. When the anticipated invasion of Britain failed to materialize in 1940, Londoners relaxed, but soon they faced a frightening new threat.
1951 Communist troops force the UN army out of Inchon, Korea after a 12-hour attack.
1958 The Soviet Union calls for a ban on nuclear arms in Baghdad Pact countries.
1964 Carl T. Rowan is named the director of the United States Information Agency (USIA).
1968 In Vietnam, the Siege of Khe Sanh begins as North Vietnamese units surround U.S. Marines based on the hilltop headquarters.
1974 The U.S. Supreme Court decides that pregnant teachers can no longer be forced to take long leaves of absence.
1976 Leonid Brezhnev and Henry Kissinger meet to discuss Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT).
1977 President Carter urges 65 degrees as the maximum heat in homes to ease the energy crisis.
1993 Congressman Mike Espy of Mississippi is confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Non Sequitur


Critics Be Damned President Obama Delivers The Beginnings of Real Change To The NSA

Contrary to what the critics had already prejudged his speech to be, President Obama offered the first steps in real change to the NSA, and a major change in course from days of the shrub.
The president laid out the history of the NSA, and its importance to fighting terrorism. President Obama said surveillance technology is evolving much faster than our laws. The president said he has maintained a healthy skepticism about intelligence gathering, since he took office. He discussed the changes he already made, but said that he didn’t stop the programs wholesale because the intelligence community hasn’t sought to violate the law and privacy of ordinary people. The president said, “They’re not abusing authority to listen to your phone calls or read your private emails.”
Obama said elected officeholders have a responsibility to the Constitution. Obama refused to talk much about Edward Snowden, but he did say, “The sensational way that these disclosures have come out have shed more heat than light.”
The president called out other countries who feigned surprise over the Snowden revelations for doing their own spying on the United States government. Obama also pointed out that threats to privacy don’t come from government alone. Private corporations are also collecting data one every American, but the standards for government surveillance must be higher. He said the basic values of the American people converge a lot more than the crude characterizations that have emerged over the last several months.
Obama said he would not be where he is today, “without the courage of dissidents like Dr. King who were spied on by their own government, and as president, a president who looks at intelligence every morning, I am also can’t help but be reminded that America must be vigilant in the face of threats.”
The big changes that the president announced declassification of 40 FISA opinions and reviews, he also directed the Director of National Intelligence to annually review FISA opinions for declassification. He called on Congress to establish a panel of outside advocates that will have a voice that will be able to address the FISA court before it rules. Obama also announced changes in the use of national security letters so that the secrecy will not be indefinite. It will terminate at a fixed time. The telecoms will be able to make public the requests from data from the government.
The president again explained that the government is not listening to your phone calls. The data collected is the phone number, date, and length of time of the call. The president also announced that the government will no longer keep or hold on to bulk data indefinitely.
President Obama said the critics were right to point out that the bulk telephone collection program could lead to great abuses, and that it has never been publicly discussed. The president announced the winding down and ending of the bulk telephone data collection program. He said the transition will involve two steps, and that the database can only be queried in the case of crisis.
In my view much of the criticism of President Obama’s NSA speech lacks credibility because they had decided that the speech was ineffective and not enough before he even delivered it. Those who believe the paranoid propaganda ginned up by certain pseudo journalists for profit, media attention and personal gain had already decided that Obama’s speech was a failure before they even heard it.
The reality is that this speech was significant because it is a continued move away from George W. Bush’s anything goes NSA. When assessing Obama’s speech, it is important to realize where this issue was and where the president is trying to take us. The ideal outcome here would be the repeal of that scourge on personal liberty known as the Patriot Act, and that can’t happen without Congress. By the measurement of walking the line between intelligence collection and protecting the privacy of the American people, Obama did well.
Politically, the president is going to take the heat from all sides on this issue. The neo-cons are going to howl that he has jeopardized national security by making any changes to intelligence collection. The zealots on the other side are going to scream that the president only offered cosmetic alterations, not real change. Neither of these extremes would have been satisfied with any moderate course that the president chose.
the shrub and the cowardly Congress who gave him a rubber stamp authority obliterated the line. Barack Obama is trying to put it back. What the president announced today were just the first steps in real change, but they are important. They represent a change in course from where the country was.
The pressure needs to be turned up on Congress to let this program die in March. Complete victory will achieved when the Patriot Act is no more, but President Obama did well to at least get us pointed back in the right direction.

Lush Dimbulb Says Obama Is a Dictator Because His Flag Was Too Big At NSA Speech

When discussing President Obama's NSA speech held earlier in the day. Dimbulb commented on the size of the American flags set behind the President.
While hosting The Lush Dimbulb Show last Friday, Dimbulb made a statement that is silly even by his unbelievably low standards. When discussing President Obama’s NSA speech held earlier in the day. Dimbulb commented on the size of the American flags set behind the President. Lush then said that the flags are getting bigger with every speech, and that is a sure sign of a dictatorship.
Here is an excerpt of the transcript from the show:

LUSH:  Did you happen to see the size of those flags behind Obama at the National Security Agency speech?  Those flags are getting bigger and bigger and bigger every speech he makes.  And, you know, that’s what dictators do.  As our liberties and our freedoms shrink, the symbols get bigger and bigger and bigger.  It happens all over the Third World.  You can see it.
Yep. America as a country is under the thumb of a dictator. How do we know that? Flag size. Don’t argue with it. It is totally science. Dimbulb then went off on one of his tangents talking about how Obama is a dictator who is using double-speak to make it appear that he is concerned with the rights of American citizens.

LUSH: The NSA speech that Obama gave today, I don’t know if it’s a favorite BS line, but it has to rank at the top.  Obama, in addressing whatever he was saying — by the way, it was the Dimbulb Theorem on display.  He showed up today (paraphrasing), “I don’t know what they’re doing over there, but I’m gonna get to the bottom of it, and I’m gonna make sure that we don’t spy on you as much.  I’m not sure what they’ve been doing, but I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”  It was the Dimbulb Theorem on display, and he said, “Throughout this evolution,” in surveillance technology, “we benefited from both our Constitution and traditions of limited government.”
Now, the reason there are jokefests about Obama being a dictator is because he’s ignoring the Constitution, but yet here he is talking about his reverence for it.  And then, after speaking of his reverence for the Constitution, then he lauds our traditions of limited government, which he’s also blowing to smithereens.  It’s the same thing that I mentioned yesterday.  Obama showing up and talking about the tradition in America, that, “if you work hard, you can make it in America.  That’s always been the case and that’s what we continue to fight for today,” which is absolute bunk.  It’s becoming getting harder and harder and harder to work hard in America and have it pay off, precisely because of what he’s doing to the location of that hard work, i.e., the private sector.
In fact, I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I, El Lushbo I’m losing track.  I’m trying to keep track, but I think I’m losing ground here.  Which scandal is Obama trying to distract us from now with this speech today on the NSA?  ‘Cause you know he doesn’t think this is any big deal.  This is just an opportunity.  You know, a lot of young Millennials are really worried about this and in the high-tech world this is what really irritates them about Obama.  The rest of the stuff they don’t care.  But this… These young tech bloggers that I read, they just can’t believe that their guy would do this.  The shrub, yeah.  And repugicans, yeah.  But they just can’t believe that Obama would be doing this and they’re really agitated by it.
To top it off, if you go to Lush’s website and read the transcript, you will see a badly-photoshopped picture of President Obama in a stereotypical dictator outfit.
Remember, repugicans. This man is essentially the voice of your party. He helps set the agenda. In this segment alone, he patted himself on the back for being so influential. So, the major voice of your party is sitting there and commenting about the size of the American flags behind the President during a speech and somehow equating that to fascism and claiming it makes the President a dictator. It must make you proud.

Random Celebrity Photos



Sophia Loren

♥ ♥ ♥
Sophia Loren

A Venture Into Real Democracy On Red State Capitol Grounds

Dennis S. attended Truthful Tuesday, a demonstration in Columbia, SC on Tuesday and provided a detailed breakdown of the event.…
 truthful tuesday  
I loaned about six hours to American Democracy Tuesday; a 1 ½ hour bus ride each way, a couple hours of whooping it up at a noon rally called “Truthful Tuesday” and the 30-minute car ride to and from the bus meeting point where 35 of us progressive locals gathered to add our presence and cheering voices to well over a thousand (a few, if AP were to be believed) like-minded liberal Democrats at the state Capitol building in Columbia.
There was an earlier demonstration, attracting a pitiful 200 souls that was sponsored by FreedomWorks, a radical organization originally funded by one of the Koch brothers and headed for a time by Dick Armey until the group bought off Armey for 8 million bucks. The Tea Party protesters were bitching about what they called ‘Obamacare’ and, to that end, featured State Representative, Bill Chumley, the same guy who wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars flying in Walter Williams, a George Mason economist and fill-in for Lush Dimbulb, to lend his expertise (Absolute Zero) to a House Subcommittee working feverishly to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
My local paper pictured Chumley speaking behind a giant sign “Choose Freedom’ STOP ObamaCare.” They didn’t dare show the meager crowd. In a piece of editorial nuance, AP put the estimated crowd of Truthful Tuesday at “several hundred.” Objective observers placed its numbers at 1,500-2000.
The Associated Press reporter summed up the demonstration contents I attended by accurately calling it a rally for social justice with the crowd chanting “enough is enough.” He pointed out the coffin that fronted the speakers as representing the estimated 1,300-1,400 people who would die as a result of repugican Governor, Nikki Haley, refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility. The story added that in addition to supporting ACA, there were concerns about education, jobs (28.6% pay poverty wages), and voting rights. As for the latter, South Carolina ranks 47th in the nation in voter participation. An African-American lady told of the succession of roadblocks the state put in her way at every step of the registration process. AP hinted that my crowd wouldn’t mind getting arrested for civil disobedience at future events. Judging from the average age of the attendees, they’d have to be cuffed sitting down.
The Associated Press story included no names of any of the roughly dozen speakers at the rally. Some were distinguished leaders in their fields of health care, education and labor. There was a labor union head, a courageous doctor, a social worker, several ministers and others who presented real-life examples of the harm repugican elected officials are bringing down on their constituents.
On my bus ride up and back, we were treated to friendly and informative patter from the driver on various issues of interest, including pointing out the bridge collapse, truck mishap of the day before, temporarily blocking a busy thoroughfare. It was one of those infrastructure projects on the drawing board. I sat with my Greek friend, Nick, on both legs of the trip. Nick knows his politics and his sports and we had an “interesting” mutual friend we gossiped about the majority of the time.
Once we alighted the bus, we headed for the venue. I’m not a stand-arounder, so I assisted in moving and setting up chairs and hauling a table out to the entrance that we could use to stack up literature.
I talked with a number of strangers. Democrats are invariably open and friendly at these confabs. One lady had battled cancer for four years. She had been with her insurance company for 25 years. Her last treatment came to $45,000. The insurance company paid $2,000 of the tab. There were numerous similar stories sprinkled throughout the crowd.
I ran into a trio of easily identifiable motorcycle enthusiasts; some would call them “bikers.” They had patches, but no colors. It was slightly off-putting that one of their number had never heard of a Norton or the new Lightning Electric.
They came to the rally to pitch their group called ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments). Here’s their Carolina Website. The trio appeared to be between 30-45 and gladly handed me a business card and a narrow, three-page membership application folder. The number one issue among riders has always been helmet laws. Only three states have no requirement to wear a helmet. The others with have mandatory or partial laws.
Of course, opposition to wearing a helmet is a narcissistic absurdity. I never thought I’d be sending you to a Fox site for a legitimate news story, but a visit to this year-and-a-half -old Faux News helmet report will give you an idea of how much we give up in blood and treasure for the misguided defense of no helmets. There are other issues of importance. Motorcycle safety and, in particular, riding while impaired. Over 40% of motorcycle accidents involve drunk or drugged-up riders. I suspect most members of this fascinating fraternity, with a growing sorority contingent, signing on, are of the more conservative bent. But they’re no dummies and I’d respectfully listen to their concerns.
I get along swell with the biker crowd, though I once tore up a knee flipping over the curb on an actual vintage Indian Chief bike. Yes, it was my fault, failing to notice gravel that had spilled over onto pavement in taking a turn too sharply. This extraordinary bike is still around. The oldie Indians were a blast, riding low with a left-handed throttle (right-handers were available) and a sidevalve engine (ask grandpa about Indians if he still wears a bandana around the house). It’s still the most unique badge out there for motorcycle enthusiasts.
I left the bikers with the full intention of attending one of their local meetings and turned my immediate full attention to the stage. The speakers were informed, compelling and animated. A number of Democratic legislators were introduced to warm applause. I think all of them were black. I found that strange. It was as if the white elected more liberal officials were afraid to show their faces to the media at a progressive event. Too calculating and DINO for my taste.
One of the most high-profile gadabouts at the demonstration was Brett Bursey. Brett was both an organizer and speaker. He also has a Website called the South Carolina Progressive Network. He’s the founder and power behind the site. He works tirelessly and with little compensation or even recognition, given how much he contributes to the betterment of the state.
My attendance at Truthful Tuesday yielded a re-commitment to all things progressive that represent the greatest good for the greatest number. At the event, I picked up a black-lettered scarf on a bed of red that pronounced “Enough is Enough”, the phrase we oft-repeated during the gathering.
Looking at the inhuman path the right has led us down; Enough is most certainly, ENOUGH!

Elizabeth Warren’s Battle Cry, ‘This is the moment when we have to start fighting back.’

The repugican obstruction of unemployment benefits has pushed Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren too far. Warren said, ‘This is the moment when we really have to start fighting back and showing the repugicans it’s not going to work.’
Sen. Warren went off during an appearance on MSNBC she when asked about Senate repugicans blocking the unemployment benefits extension.
Sen. Warren said,

I think this is still very powerful. This is the moment when we really have to start fighting back and showing the repugicans it’s not going to work, just to continue to obstruct, obstruct obstruct. This issue on unemployment insurance is really not hard. We need to extend unemployment insurance. We have done this many times in the past. We did it during the shrub junta when unemployment gets too high. We do it for those who need it most.

The Democrats proposed this. The repugicans said, ‘Oh yeah, we want to do this, but you need a pay for.” We said, we’ve never needed pay fors in the past. How it is you’re going to pay for it right now, but we sat down we came with pay fors that we could live with. We said we got it paid for. They said, oh no, actually we don’t mean that. We want to do some more amendments. We want to change this. We want to change that.

Are you kidding me? We have people out there who are suffering. We have people who worked hard all of their lives, who played by the rules. And now, they got knocked out during a terrible economic downturn. They can’t get back to a job. They’re applying. They’re working for it, and all of the sudden repugicans are saying, just cut them off. Leave them with nothing.
Sen. Warren wasn’t finished, “I think there’s an enormous frustration, and really just a sense of being appalled. It’s the only word I know. It’s that you really want to look at people on the other side and say, you’re really willing to do this over politics? You’re really willing to cut these people off? To leave them with no money to put food on the table, to keep a roof over their heads, to take care of their children? And right now the repugicans are so caught in playing political games at every single turn. At making sure that everything the president does to get the economy back on track, everything we all do to try to support hard working families gets blocked by the repugicans.”
That was a battle cry. Democratic frustration is boiling over. Harry Reid hasn’t ruled out changing the filibuster rules to only require a simple majority to pass legislation. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, called on Democrats to go nuclear and break the repugican filibuster on extending unemployment benefits. Sen. Warren is now adding her voice of frustration to the mix.
A clear picture is starting to emerge. Senate repugicans are pushing Democrats too far by blocking the unemployment benefits extension. This could be the last straw that forces Democrats to fight back by changing the Senate rules to only require a simple majority (51 votes) to pass legislation.
Thanks to Mitch McConnell campaign of obstruction, the environment in the Senate has never been as toxic as it is today. Frustrated Democrats are being pushed to the edge, and Elizabeth Warren’s call for Democrats to fight back is a sign that they are getting ready to go nuclear again, and end the repugican filibuster of legislation.
Warren is right. It’s time to fight back, and the best way to do that is to end the repugican campaign of obstruction.

Nancy Pelosi Gives repubgcans a Taste of Their 2014 ObamaCare Nightmare

Nancy Pelosi gave repugicans a taste of the 2014 ObamaCare nightmare today, calling it a pillar of security like Social Security and Medicare.…

David Wildstein Practically Begs for Immunity So He Can Spill the Beans in Bridgegate

This can't be good news for Chris Christie as his appointee Widlstein practically begs for immunity and promises to share more information if he gets it.…
The repugican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointee David Wildstein, who would not be in the Port Authority if Christie hadn’t had them create a position for his “friend”, is practically begging for immunity and promising to share more information if he gets it, according to the Associated Press via the Morning Sentinel.
Wildstein’s lawyer Alan Zegas told The Associated Press on Friday that there has not been any offer of immunity from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is reviewing the matter. “If he has immunity from the relevant entities, he’ll talk,” Zegas said.
Wildstein already turned over the smoking gun email in which Bridget Anne Kelly, a top Christie aide, wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”. He responded to that email, “Got it.” Wildstein is the person who directed the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
Wildstein has already given damning documents to investigating legislative bodies. He seems very eager to save his own skin.
This is exactly the sort of thing that Chris Christie needed not to happen. But first, Wildstein must be granted immunity and that will only happen if it looks like there is a bigger fish to fry.

Obama Turns Up The Heat On The repugican cabal By Eyeing Minimum Wage Hike For Federal Contractors

obama-punch According to several members of the Senate Democratic caucus President Obama is considering using an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors. 

The Hill reported,
President Obama is considering using his executive authority to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, he told Senate Democrats during a closed meeting at the White House.

Lawmakers present at the Wednesday night session said Thursday that Obama did not bring up the matter himself, but appeared receptive to the idea when questioned on the topic.
“The issue was raised,” Sen. Barbra Boxer (D-Calif.) said Thursday. “He said he was looking at it, as he looks at everything else.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was also in attendance, offered a similar account and said he has heard from members of the president’s staff that he is seriously considering executive action on the measure.

Most federal contractors make more than minimum wage, so the idea is to stake out the Democratic position in order to pressure repugicans into supporting an increase in the minimum wage for all workers.
A group of 75 economists recently sent a letter to President Obama that supported a minimum wage increase. They argued that increasing the minimum wage would not have a negative effect on employers, “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.”
It is not a matter of if President Obama is going to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, but when. Politically, it is most likely that he will take this step once the Harkin bill to raise the minimum wage is on the Senate floor. Democrats are going to make raising minimum wage a key issue in 2014 and beyond. The minimum wage is a great issue for Democrats, so they aren’t going to give it up even if the Harkin bill doesn’t pass.
The minimum wage issue puts the topic of income inequality in terms that every American can understand. People understand fairness. The repugicans are on the wrong side of the minimum wage issue, and Obama’s executive order will likely be one of the first steps in making repugicans pay a steep political price for opposing raising the minimum wage.

Harry Reid, ‘We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after guys smoking marijuana.’

Even devout mormon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has changed his position and is saying that we need to take a closer look at marijuana. Sen. Reid also said,’We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after guys smoking marijuana.’
In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Sen. Reid discussed his evolving position on marijuana,
Several Nevada municipalities are issuing moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries, but Harry Reid really thinks they should be moving in the opposite direction – toward making medicinal pot legal.
“If you’d asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer – I would have said no, because (marijuana) leads to other stuff,” the Senate majority leader told the Sun today. “But I can’t say that anymore.”
“I think we need to take a real close look at this,” Reid went on. “I think that there’s some medical reasons for marijuana.”
Reid cited CNN and NPR reports about children suffering from seizures as well, to make the case that over the past several years, he’d come to think that marijuana seemed a sensible and humane treatment for people suffering from particular conditions with no other treatment or cure.
But Reid did say that he thought the current legal system for prosecuting and sentencing marijuana users was extremely flawed.
“I guarantee you one thing,” Reid said. “We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after these guys that are smoking marijuana.”
When a straight arrow Mormon like Harry Reid starts talking up the benefits of legalization, that is a real sign that attitudes are changing. Marijuana legalization should be a no brainer for repugicans who are always talking about limited government, but the repugican cabal is still worried about looking tough on drugs and trapped in some sort of political vortex that limits their position on pot to a cross between Reefer Madness and Nancy Reagan’s just no campaign.
Democrats have taken the legalization banner, and all the potential voters that come with it, and have run with the issue. The Democratic Party is quickly becoming the party of legalization. Harry Reid’s comments appeared to be directed at both the people of Nevada and the nation as a whole.
Sen. Reid was correct. This country wastes a lot of time and money busting people for smoking marijuana. It is an inefficient use of resources to be busting people for a drug that could be medically helpful to millions if legalized. More and more Democrats are recognizing this. The repugicans don’t, which is why those who favor legalization are moving more and more towards the Democratic Party.
If Harry Reid can evolve, the rest of the party can’t be far behind.

The repugican Assault on Clean Water Laws Caused West Virginia Chemical Spill

The recent West Virginia chemical spill should be a stark reminder that Republicans' greatest assault of all is on Americans' water supply that is about to get a…
Of all the needs a human being requires to maintain life, air, food, and water are easily the most crucial. 
The repugicans have been busy withholding food from Americans struggling to survive in their job-killing economy,
and their assault on clean air standards is legendary in their drive to enrich the Koch brothers’ dirty energy 
empire. What is often forgotten in the repugican cabal’s environmental assaults is their fierce advocacy for undoing or 
obstructing regulations meant to guarantee that Americans have access to clean water, and the recent 
West Virginia chemical spill should be a stark reminder that repugicans’ greatest assault of all is on 
Americans’ water supply that is about to get a lot worse.
After Freedom Industries’ negligence sent 7,500 gallons of a chemical used in coal processing into the Elk River and exposed multiple failures in oversight and compliance, repugicans in Congress went into defensive deregulation mode. The spill sent over a hundred people to the hospital and prevented over 300,000 from using water for anything other than flushing human waste, and prompted calls for stronger regulations to protect Americans’ water supplies. Speaker of the House John Boehner immediately responded and said “We have enough regulations on the books. What the administration ought to be doing is doing their jobs.” Besides blaming the President for the West Virginia chemical spill and the repugican cabal’s ten-year assault on environmental regulations, Boehner said he was “confident regulations were in place to protect people.” However, he quickly changed the subject to deregulation and stressed the Republican “need to look at those regulations that are cumbersome, over-the-top, and costing the economy jobs. That is where our focus is, and should continue.”
It was not the first, or last, time Boehner shifted blame for repugicans’ deregulation frenzy on  President Obama for the West Virginia chemical spill, and his critique of environmental regulations is nothing new for House repugicans who voted 109 times to undermine environmental efforts in 2013. Boehner likely blamed the President because he was loath to admit he is the House’s top recipient of contributions from the dirty coal industry that netted him $600,025 according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Boehner also received a donation from the company responsible for the chemical leak and reiterated it was the administration’s fault by asserting that “cumbersome, over-the-top” regulations were not being properly enforced. Boehner is right on that point, and it is down to repugicans cutting the EPA budget over the past three years.
The repugicans have wanted to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency since its inception, and since they have been unable to kill the agency outright, or undo regulations already in place, they  resorted to the next best tactic; withhold funding for inspections and enforcement. For example, over the past two years funding for water quality has been slashed by 29%, and overall repugicans boasted they cut the EPA budget by 20% since 2010 to spur job creation. Where are the jobs? Starving the EPA of funding to enforce what woefully inadequate protections for clean water has not and will not create jobs, but it has not stopped repugicans from garnering support for deregulation and cuts to the one agency tasked with protecting Americans’ water supply, or to insert new restrictions on the EPA.
In the omnibus spending bill Congress just sent to President Obama’s desk, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (r-KY) inserted language that prevents the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and the Obama administration from tightening rules on what kind of chemicals mining companies can dump in streams and waterways. The purpose of the rider is to lock in a shrub junta “loophole” that allows the coal industry to keep dumping industrial waste in rivers and streams according to Dalal Aboulhosn of the Sierra Club. Other repugican riders in the spending bill weaken the EPA’s ability to regulate permits for coal companies by reducing its time for reviews, and cuts its power to enforce chemical pollution standards by limiting the agency’s access to evidence of violations. Yet another rider slashes EPA funding and its ability to conduct aerial monitoring of mining related facilities like chemical treatment plants, under the 402 section of the Clean Water Act, which covers chemical pollution.
According to the largest recipient of coal industry donations in the House, John Boehner says “we have enough regulations on the books. What the administration ought to be doing is doing their jobs,” but Boehner and repugicans are doing everything in their power to prevent the administration and EPA from “doing their jobs.” The repugicans are too invested in the coal, oil, and gas industry to let the EPA do their jobs and enforce regulations Boehner said “were in place to protect people.” The repugicans are about as interested in protecting the American people as they are raising taxes on their wealthy donors, and the riders in the spending bill sitting on the President’s desk prove that when Boehner and repugicans say “protect people,” they mean dirty energy people.
President Obama is not responsible for dumping 7,500 gallons of coal industry chemicals in the Elk River, a lack of strident EPA regulations, timely inspections, regulatory enforcement, and negligence on the part of Freedom Industries are and Boehner knows it. He also knows House repugicans voted 109 times in 2013 to undermine environmental regulations and that repugicans inserted at least three anti-clean water “riders” at the last minute into the omnibus government funding bill. Boehner really has some gall to have spent the past two weeks decrying regulations and promising to eliminate them as an anti-poverty measure, and then blame the President for not enforcing environmental regulations. It has been all repugicans all the time either killing regulations or preventing the EPA from implementing and enforcing those already on the books by slashing funding necessary to, as Boehner says, “protect the people.” What the people need is protection from repugicans because in their drive to enrich the dirty energy industry they are deliberately poisoning a basic necessity for human life; clean water.

Huge steaming pile of manure dumped outside National Assembly of France

A truck dumped a huge pile of manure outside a government building in Paris on Thursday.
The lorry, which had the slogan “Out with Hollande and the whole political class, long live the Sixth Republic'” left the steaming cargo outside France’s National Assembly.
It’s not clear exactly what the manure protest was trying to accomplish, but the nation is currently operating as the Fifth Republic, started by Charles de Gaulle in 1958.

The truck driver was arrested and taken to a police station in the seventh arrondissement of Paris.

Google buses start using private security guards

Google has hired security guards to look out for the safety of its employees who ride buses from their homes in San Francisco’s Mission District to company headquarters in Mountain View, 35 miles away. Two men "dressed casually in jeans and wearing black ski hats" wearing tell-tale coily-corded earpieces and taking notes were spotted two days in a row standing near workers waiting for the shuttle bus, reports Reuters.
In previous weeks, Bay Area residents "angry over tech-boom gentrification" have broken a "Gbus" window, slashed its tires, and held protests in Oakland and San Francisco, reports SF Gate.
Some of the protests have been about Google's use of public bus stops to pick up workers. The city of San Francisco said it will begin charging Google $1 per day per stop.
In this video, a small Gbus encounters a group of protestors near Dolores Park.

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Portsmouth Middle School warns parents about Smartie-snorting epidemic and the risk of nasal maggots

Parents in Portsmouth, Rhode Island got a letter from the Portsmouth Middle School warning them that students may be snorting and smoking ground-up Smarties candies. The letter warns of risks of cuts, lung infections, nasal passage scarring, nose-wedged maggots (!), and future cigarette and drug use. John McDaid, a writer and local investigative blogger, got a comment from Portsmouth School Committee chair Dave Croston, who stated "I can say only that this behavior raises troubling issue of modeling."
Cuts- if the Smarties have not been finely crushed, pieces may act like razor blades cutting the tissue with which they come in contact.
Infection – sugar residue may remain in the nasal cavity, sinuses and/or lungs. This residue may lead to infections, cough, wheezing, and possible respiratory arrest.
Scarring of the nasal cavity – anything snorted can lead to scarring of the nasal passages. Also if a piece of the Smartie becomes lodged in the nasal cavity it may need to be removed by a specialist.
Irritation of the lungs – smoking or snorting Smarties can lead to a smoker’s cough which can cause laryngospasms causing the voice box to spasm or close.
Allergic reaction – if the child is allergic to sugar, snorting or smoking Smarties can lead to an immediate allergic reaction.
Possible Maggots – Dr. Oren Friedman, a Mayo Clinic nose specialist, has cautioned that frequent snorting could even rarely lead to maggots feeding on the sugary dust wedged inside the nose.
Precursor to future cigarette smoking and drug use – although there is no addictive piece to Smarties, the concern is this behavior may lead to cigarette smoking or snorting of drugs.

78-year-old woman trapped in chimney after trying to abseil down to retrieve her spectacles

In an attempt to retrieve her spectacles a 78-year-old woman from eastern France ended up spending 22 hours wedged in her chimney. The tale began on Monday afternoon when she dropped her glasses while she was inspecting a flue connecting her fireplace to her chimney at her 18th century home in the historic village of Vic-sur-Seille.

The woman was unable to reach the glasses to retrieve them, so she climbed up to the attic, which has direct access to the chimney, and slung a rope over a beam. After looping the rope under her arms she began lowering herself into the 50-centimetre diameter flue in the hunt for her lost "lunettes".
But about three meters in she began falling. She slid for another two meters before finally becoming wedged in. It was in that position that she spent the night. Fortunately for her the neighbors got worried when they noticed there were no signs of life at the woman's home. They quickly raised the alarm and in the end more than two dozen firefighters were sent to her home to pull her out.

The rescuers had to cut open the chimney in order to free her. But if the firefighters were expecting a little bit of gratitude after freeing the woman they were mistaken. Without missing a beat she politely reprimanded them for the mess they’d made in pulling her from the chimney. The woman was taken to hospital, where she remained until Wednesday. There is no word as to whether the spectacles were recovered.

Man robbed bank with shotgun hidden in crutch

A man pretending to be disabled has been charged with robbing a bank in northern Greece with a shotgun hidden in a crutch.
Police said the man's first attempt on the outskirts of Thessaloniki failed when his ploy got him to a teller without suspicion but the bank's safe was on a time delay.

Four days later, the ruse worked at a nearby bank and he made off with 12,000 euros. In both cases, the weapon was strapped to the inside of the one crutch he was using. Police later rerieved the crutch with the shotgun and another weapon.
Police said on Wednesday the 56-year-old suspect, a local baker who was not identified, said he was heavily in debt during Greece's economic crisis and used the stolen money to pay his creditors. He was charged with robbery and breaking firearms laws.

Door marked push thwarted would-be burglar who kept pulling

A would-be burglar failed to break into The Shambles bar in Chicago because he was pulling on an unlocked door marked "push."
The heavy-set suspect managed to remove a lock on the bar's front door but couldn't get in because he was pulling the unlocked door instead of pushing it.

Disheartened, he gave up and fled the scene.

"He could have just pushed it," bar owner Joe Lin said.



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No more funeral prayers for muslim drunkards

The muslim clerics in a district of Bihar in the north east of India, have decided not to lead or offer namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayers) for drunkards. This decision was taken at a meeting on Saturday evening by a group of imams of Bihar's Nalanda district.

"It is a historic decision not to offer funeral prayers of the drunkards who die. We hope that it will send a strong massage among muslims not to consume liquor," Hafiz Maulana Mahtab Alam Makhdumi said. Makhdumi, who presided over the meeting of the Anjuman Faizane Mustafa Committee at Biharsharief, district headquarters of Nalanda, about 100 km from Patna, said that liquor is prohibited in Islam.
He said it was decided to first socially boycott those drinking liquor in public places. "We have urged people that drunkards should be socially boycotted but even after that if they fail to end their habit, we will not lead their funeral prayers," he said. Makhdumi said that after much deliberations they took a final decision to end increasing trend of drinking among muslims. "It is a tough decision as there is no other method left to warn the drunkards," he said.

The muslim community has welcomed this move. "It will help discourage consuming of liquors and severe as a warning for drunkards," said Nayiar Fatmi, a Muslim activist in Patna. Makhdumi said that after this decision is successfully implemented in Nalanda, they would request Imams of other districts across Bihar to start similar campaigns.

Nordic Grog

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The LÍA FÁIL was the stone of destiny in Ireland. It had the power to cry out and choose the High King of Ireland. It was said to have been brought to Ireland by the Túatha Dé Danann from Fálias in the Northern Islands of the World where it had been kept by the poet-wizard Morfesa of great knowledge. It was used as the coronation stone of Ireland.

CNN on blood falls and other Fortean phenomena

140113122429 01 quirks of nature horizontal gallery
It was apparently Fortean Friday over at CNN last Friday where they share a handful of unusual natural curiosities and mysteries like "Magnetic Hill" in New Brunswick, spherical boulders in New Zealand, the "sailing stones" that creep along Death Valley, and the "Blood Falls" of Antarctica caused by an iron-rich lake below the ice. "Blood Falls and other natural oddities"

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Woman left baby and boy in car so she could go hog hunting

A Florida woman was arrested and charged with child neglect for leaving her two young children in the car to go hog hunting on Thursday.
Deputies said Kayla Marie Shavers, 31, left her 9-year-old and 8-month-old children alone in the car in 38 degree weather while she went into the woods in Pasco County to hunt hogs. The 9-year-old called 911 because he was cold and said, "A police car would be warmer."

When deputies arrived, they found the children in the car and waited for Shavers to return. Shavers claimed she was close enough to the car to respond if the children needed her, but deputies said it took her over 40 minutes to return to the car. Deputies say when Shavers finally came out of the woods, she was dressed in camouflage and told them she was hunting hogs because they were tearing up her property.

"She said she left the keys for her son to start the car if it got cold. He didn't start the car, he couldn't," said Corporal Sean Kennedy. Sheriff Chris Nocco credited the boy for having the presence of mind to pick up the phone and call for help. "He may have saved that 8 month old baby's life. So kudos to that little 9 year old boy," Nocco said. The sheriff's office says the children are with family. Shavers faces two charges of child neglect.

Noodle the spoodle recruited as teaching assistant to reassure shy youngsters

Shy pupils anxious about reading aloud in front of their classmates are being lent an ear by a four-legged friend in an attempt to boost their confidence. Nervous four and five year-olds at Wallscourt Farm Academy, in Stoke Gifford, Bristol, have been given the opportunity to raise their self-esteem by reading to the school's pet dog Noodle the spoodle. Noodle, a cross between a spaniel and a poodle, was born in the summer and has been trained to assist children's learning at the newly-opened primary school. Noodle, who is just seven months old, also provides comfort to children who confide in him rather than staff when they are anxious or upset.
Noodle, who lives with school principal Susie Weaver, started the brand new school when it opened in September, alongside his classmates. She said: "He gives the school a real family feel. We have found that some children are a bit happier to read to a lovely furry dog that they feel really comfortable with, rather than an adult. It just feels like a step closer and more comfortable for them. They often work out their emotions through him. If they have good news or bad news, or if they are upset, they might talk through that with Noodle and me, rather than just me.

"If they are called into the office to see me, having a little stroke and chat to Noodle and already that tempo is changed and they feel happier or calmer. He allows very young children to show empathy because he is quite empathetic with them." Noodle - who is always accompanied by an adult - also plays the role of assistant school nurse when children fall over or feel poorly. Susie added: "I am sure when we first got him kids were throwing themselves at the playground to get a cuddle with Noodle until they feel better." Noodle's duties are not confined to the school, and he also accompanies children when they visit the nearby Beaufort Grange care home to cheer up residents.

Susie said: "The children go on visits and Noodle goes too and the residents really like him. He's also gone on special visits to one or two residents who like dogs. He visited one lady whose husband had just passed away and they spent quite a bit of time together. He can be very therapeutic." Noodle was specially chosen from breeders in South Wales because his calm personality means he loves being around children. He spent the summer before starting school at home with Susie to get him ready for his teaching duties. She said: "We used to board guide dogs so I already had that sense of how dogs can be wonderful and supportive creatures to have around - perfect for a primary school."

Fido came from now extinct wolf ancestor

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