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


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Daily Drift

The truth hurts   ...

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Today in History

1689 England's "Bloodless Revolution" reaches its climax when parliament invites William and Mary to become joint sovereigns.
1807 President Thomas Jefferson exposes a plot by Aaron Burr to form a new republic in the Southwest.
1813 During the War of 1812, British forces under Henry Proctor defeat a U.S. contingent planning an attack on Fort Detroit.
1824 A British force is wiped out by an Asante army under Osei Bonsu on the African Gold Coast. This is the first defeat for a colonial power.
1863 In an attempt to out flank Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, General Ambrose Burnside leads his army on a march to north Fredericksburg, but foul weather bogs his army down in what will become known as "Mud March."
1879 Eighty-two British soldiers hold off attacks by 4,000 Zulu warriors at the Battle of Rorke's Drift in South Africa.
1905 Russian troops fire on civilians beginning Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg.
1912 Second Monte Carlo auto race begins.
1913 Turkey consents to the Balkan peace terms and gives up Adrianople.
1930 Admiral Richard Byrd charts a vast area of Antarctica.
1932 Government troops crush a Communist uprising in Northern Spain.
1939 A Nazi order erases the old officer caste, tying the army directly to the Party.
1943 Axis forces pull out of Tripoli for Tunisia, destroying bases as they leave.
1944 U.S. troops under Major General John P. Lucas make an amphibious landing behind German lines at Anzio, Italy, just south of Rome.
1971 Communist forces shell Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for the first time.
1979 Abu Hassan, the alleged planner of the 1972 Munich raid, is killed by a bomb in Beirut.
1982 Ronald Reagan formally links progress in arms control to Soviet repression in Poland.

Non Sequitur

http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ucomics.com/nq140121.gif

Did you know ...

That the 'real christians' of duck dynasty may be christian, but they aren't real

That 1 in 5 American houses are deeply underwater

That Chris Christie withheld sandy relief funds from a new jersey mayor unless she approved a development project

That for the first time the majority of law makers are millionaires
About the roots of the tea party

That the wingnuts are using jesus to deny climate change

That the repugican cabal's biggest problem is age

That duck dynasty ratings decline

Obama Cleverly Paints Himself as the Underdog and Plays Possum Ahead of 2014 Election

President Obama said that he doesn't see the second term as just playing defense; he intends to do some good, "even if nobody is paying attention". …
barackobama.jpeg.size.xxlarge.letterbox.jpeg In a little POTUS Possum, President Obama said that he doesn’t see the second term as just playing defense; he intends to do some good, “even if nobody is paying attention”.
In David Remnick’s juicy piece on POTUS at The New Yorker titled “Going the Distance: On and off the road with Barack Obama”, we get a close look at Barack Obama and his intentions for the coming year. Remnick puts it on the line, explaining that 2014 is the President’s final year of relevancy before 2016 captures all of the attention.
And, after a miserable year, Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation since the Republicans took the House, in 2010, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming.
Remnick then shares Obama’s thoughts on this conventional wisdom. Naturally, as is the President’s way, he doesn’t follow thought; he has his own thoughts.
“The conventional wisdom is that a President’s second term is a matter of minimizing the damage and playing defense rather than playing offense,” Obama said in one of our conversations on the trip and at the White House. “But, as I’ve reminded my team, the day after I was inaugurated for a second term, we’re in charge of the largest organization on earth, and our capacity to do some good, both domestically and around the world, is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention.”
This seems both a dig at the catastrophe of group think that grips Washington much like Hollywood is slave to the remake/franchise redo, the fear-driven “safe bet”, and a bit of possum. Because while Remnick carries on with the conventional wisdom that Democrats probably won’t win the House and might even lose the Senate (and they might), it’s possible that the President is also considering the huge legislative victories that could occur were the Democrats to grab victory in the House. This notion, while perhaps far-fetched, is not impossible. Surprising things have already happened in the 2014 race, a race in which repugican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is suddenly looking like he might be in serious trouble.
The President has already signaled that repugican obstruction has reinvigorated him to take to the campaign trail for Democrats in a way he hasn’t done as President. The man who used to aspire to cross the aisle in order to get things done now realizes that in order to get things done, he must do the opposite. He must clean out the repugicans and deal with the only people willing to legislate — the Democrats and Independents.
The man who is so great at campaigning doesn’t actually really enjoy campaigning very much. He seems to enjoy talking to the people, but is said in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Double Down, Game Change 2012 to hate raising money and being told to hang out with the money people. (Note: In 2011, Mark Halperin called President Obama a “dick” on Morning Joe, so his judgment might not be aspirational.) As he is wont to do, Obama seems to have made the mistake of imposing his standards onto others, thinking they ought to just donate to him if they think he’s the best candidate. He is reported to have little patience for massaging the massively delicate egos of the big money guys on Wall Street.
The master at political chess set himself up as the underdog in this statement. If I had to guess based on every single previous time the President has made comments like this, I’d say he is already planning a legislative assault post-hoped for 2014 victory. After all, he is nothing if not prepared (recall, if you will, the pitch perfect, controlled delivery of his April 2011 speech at the Nerd Prom, during which he gutted Donald Trump’s birtherism, after he had just given the top secret order to get Osama). I heard a warning in that statement, couched in what will be read (probably accurately) as resentment of the press’s obsession with narratives.
But Obama isn’t one to wallow Palin style in his resentment of the press. He looks around them to see what can be done, and when he can be bothered to explain things to them on a one-on-one level, he sometimes deigns to give it a shot if the person seems at least willing to think on their own. He refuses, however, to play the Washington cocktail games.
At the very least, this statement reveals a truth about this President — he cares very little for how things look at the moment, because his eye is always on the goal in the long run. But he also seems irked by the stupidity of it all. If he wasn’t exasperated before the press went quite hysterical over a website glitch, he surely was after that embarrassing display of group-”think” and failure to communicate with the average American.
Yes, even if no one is paying attention, Obama will continue on as he did in the stimulus and with ObamaCare, trying to make a difference while he can. Putting results ahead of play by play cable news blows. But ever a political animal, he knows that in order to do what he wants to do, he’s got to install some sanity into the House.
This is going to be a year worth paying close attention.

House repugicans Blatantly Lie To America By Claiming They’ve Passed Dozens of Jobs Bills

boehner_140109620x412On Saturday morning, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (r-IN) was chosen by the repugicans to make their weekly address. As the repugican cabal has been struggling with a serious image problem lately due to their refusal to pass an extension of unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work for a long time, the party knew it needed to try to redirect the conversation. In his address, Stutzman urged President Obama to ask the Senate to pass all of the House -approved ‘jobs bills,’ as they would bring millions of jobs to the American people.
The thing is, there are no jobs bills waiting for approval by the Senate. The new tactic by House repugicans is to call every single bill that they pass a ‘jobs bill.’ An anti-abortion bill? Yep, jobs bill. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that will put billions of dollars in the pockets of the Koch brothers? Yep, jobs bill. Speaker John Boehner (r-OH) has actually put together a list of bills that have passed the House that he feels are ‘jobs bills.’ There is just one little problem. They aren’t going to create any new jobs!
In Boehner’s mind, repealing Obamacare, slashing regulations, gutting social programs and eliminating federal agencies is somehow going to create more jobs. One bill that Stutzman pointed to in his address, the SKILLS Act, is something the Boehner and repugicans have hyped up as important to job creation. However, the likelihood is that it would actually create a net negative in jobs. While the repugican cabal can tout it as important to helping people train for new jobs, what it really does is eliminates many existing federal programs, putting government employees out of work.
Below is a transcript of Stutzman’s entire address:
Hello. I’m Congressman Marlin Stutzman, a fourth-generation farmer, and I have the honor of serving Indiana’s Third District.
Across the country, from small towns to inner cities, too many of our fellow citizens feel like the American Dream is out of reach.
Our economy just isn’t creating enough jobs. More than ten million Americans are unemployed. Last month, roughly 350,000 Americans—a little more than the population of Tampa, Florida—stopped looking for work. Health care premiums have gone up. And millions of families have lost their insurance because of the new health care law.
But Americans don’t need to read another jobs report to know that our economy is struggling.
For the past five years, they’ve lived it.
They’ve spent sleepless nights worrying about rent checks, car payments, and student loans. They’ve made that long walk to the mailbox, running through the numbers to cover the next round of bills. And after checking homework, they’ve combed through job listings.
This isn’t new. It’s daily life. But every morning these men and women wake up with a determination and a purpose. Like all of life’s best things, the pursuit of happiness isn’t easy.
That’s something I learned growing up on the farm and something Americans have always believed.
That’s why we don’t give up. It’s just not who we are.
The American people haven’t quit and neither have repugicans.
We’re listening and we’re trying to help any way that we can. In the House, we’ve passed dozens of good, common-sense jobs bills.
An all-of-the-above energy plan will get Americans back to work with immediate solutions like approving the Keystone pipeline and moving forward with offshore energy production.
The SKILLS Act rebuilds and updates our job training programs by cutting government overlap and equipping unemployed Americans with the tools they need.
We’ve upended Washington’s hurtful ‘regulate first, ask later’ approach to red tape and fought arbitrary regulations that restrict access to much-needed capital.
We restored bipartisan welfare reform that helped millions of Americans trade government checks for paychecks.
This is just a start.
The House has passed dozens of jobs bills, many with bipartisan support. Each one would help Americans get the jobs they deserve. Unfortunately, all of these proposals are gathering dust in the Senate.
President Obama’s latest slogan is a “year of action” but his administration and his party’s leaders in the Senate are sitting on the bench.
They seem to have surrendered to a new normal of high unemployment. Instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with out-of-work Americans, they’re focused on making it easier to live without a job. They’re focused on bigger government and less opportunity. More debt and fewer jobs.
That might sound good in Washington but back home that’s not the American Dream folks are chasing. It’s definitely not what an economic recovery looks like. And it’s not something we have to settle for.
The repugicans hope the president is serious about making 2014 a “year of action.” It should start by giving each of these jobs bills an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
Mr. President, the American people haven’t backed down and neither can we. Call on your party to give these jobs bills a vote.
Let’s keep the focus on employment, not unemployment.
Let’s do what Americans have always done and pull together towards better days and a more prosperous future.
Thank you for listening.
The fact is, Congress is now in recess for a week and did not do anything about the long-term unemployed. When they get back to Washington, the number of people that will be without unemployment benefits will have increased. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already provided offsetting cuts to provide funding for the benefits to stay intact for a year, even though this should be considered emergency spending. Still, repugicans in both the House and Senate are finding ways not to support the extension. Seeing the image problem, as the repugican cabal is coming across as heartless and lacking empathy, Boehner has done everything he can to pivot to the message that the repugicans are focused on jobs.
But, they clearly aren’t focused on jobs. They are only focused on obstruction or pushing through anything that undermines the President and Democrats. Just because you call a bill a ‘jobs bill’ doesn’t make it so. If you aren’t willing to have anyone actually study and scrutinize a bill to see if they will actually create a net positive in employment, you cannot in good faith call it a ‘jobs bill.’ Period.

This repugican ‘Fiscal Conservative’ State Senator Sued over Not Paying Federal Loan

A repugican state senator who calls himself a fiscal 'conservative' is being sued because he did not make payments on a $631,000 federal small business loan.…
nienow Minnesota State Senator Sean R. Nienow (r-Cambridge) and his wife are being sued for allegedly not making payments on a $613,000 Small Business Association (SBA) loan they took out in 2009 for their business and secured with personal guarantees, according to the Star Tribune’s reporting on a lawsuit filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in ­Minneapolis.
Nienow was a former district chairman of the repugican cabal. He made a name for himself by saying that financing the Vikings stadium “is not the role of government.”
This is the guy whose claim to fame is his “fiscal responsibility with the tax payers money”. He likes to preach about using “The same common sense money management used by families and businesses is also necessary with the state budget.” Sounds familiar. But perhaps it takes more than smugness to balance a budget, whether it’s a business, family, or state budget.
The repugican State Senator and his wife stand accused of defaulting on their loan, via the Star Tribune:
Although demand for ­payment was made, the Nienows did not comply, the suit said, and they owe an unpaid principal balance of $558,076.53 and administrative costs of $189,861.09 for a total of $747,937.62.
They allegedly stopped making payments on the $613,000 loan for their business, the National Camp Association, Inc., in July 2010.
On his website, Nienow touts his degree in business and claims to hold a fierce admiration for former President Ronald Reagan. Nienow and his wife dissolved the National Camp Association in 2012. Their “business” claimed to be an organization that would help parents select a camp. Nienow claims to be a “consultant” as his career, and he is named as “adviser” to “National Summer Camp Association” in an article on picking camps:
National Camp Association staff members such as Mr. Nienow offer free advice to any parent looking to choose a camp. A visit to www.summercamp.org puts the reader in touch with a variety of articles and tips on the camp-selection process.
It’s unclear why the SBA would loan half a million dollars to a business that claimed it was going to help parents pick a camp. I can’t see how this ever appeared remotely lucrative. It smacks of Michele Bachmannitis. In fact, he used to work with representative Bachmann, directing a district office of constituent services.
Bachmann also joined Nienow in calling for a state and federal audit of Medicaid payments, because you know, some people cheat the government.
Nienow introduces himself to his constituents thusly:
Fiscal responsibility with the tax payers money is a high priority for Senator Nienow. The same common sense money management used by families and businesses is also necessary with the state budget. Senator Nienow is committed to being thoughtful, prudent and disciplined with your tax dollars to ensure the state meets its obligations, provides appropriate help to those in need, and fosters a vibrant economic climate for Minnesota business.
The problem with running your party on the idea that it’s “fiscally conservative”, with all of the ensuing moral high ground staked out by the smugly self-righteous, is that your members must be better than everyone else. They should ideally not borrow money from the government at all, being small government types who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” and deny any help, including food stamps, to the vulnerable.
But they really have to pay that money back if they do borrow it. This is the very least an alleged “fiscal conservative” should do.
Apparently the role of Government is to fund repugicans’ failed business ventures, but not food for children or stadiums for the people. Try to keep up.

Arizona repugicans Propose Bill That Would Allow Them To Break Any Law

If Arizona repugicans are successful a new bill will give any Arizonan the right to break any law with impunity …
constitution-burningIt is beyond dispute that throughout world history most of the atrocities on the human race were committed in the name of religion whether it was the Holocaust, Crusades, Inquisition, witch hunts, or near extermination of aboriginal people by christian imperialists. Wingnuts and their repugican facilitators attack women’s rights and persecute the gay community in the name of religion and claim they are protected by the First Amendment’s freedom to exercise religion as they see fit. The judicial system is being inundated with cases of anti-gay discrimination and attempts to control women under the guise of religious freedom, and if Arizona repugicans are successful a new bill will give any Arizonan the right to break any law with impunity if it is in the name of religion.
The piece of legislation that passed out of the Arizona state senate committee this week, S.B. 1062, allows discrimination against gays for any reason if it is founded on a religious belief. The bill is sponsored by repugican Steve Yarborough, who attempted to legalize discrimination last year, and it was described then by The New Civil Rights Movement as the religious “stand your ground” law, but it is much worse than religious license to discriminate. In Yarborough’s bill, the definition of “exercise of religion means PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” It is precisely the argument Hobby Lobby is using to refuse birth control coverage for women and Utah is using to deny same-sex couples equal protection under the law to marry the person they love.
On its face, SB 1062 appears to give Arizona residents and businesses legal cover to refuse service to anyone for any reason, but it is far-reaching in its scope including extending First Amendment religious protections by “expanding the definition of person to include any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.” The bill eliminates the Constitution’s equal rights protections and is a “get of jail” free card for anyone who does anything in the name of religion. It will not end with protecting christians who discriminate against the LGBT community, or shielding christian employers who withhold contraception coverage in health plans.
Yarborough’s legislation is the ultimate “conscience clause” because it gives any individual, cult, business, medical professional, trust or estate, or simple association legal protection to discriminate against anyone if they claim doing so is part of their religious belief. What it means is if a business owner is opposed to gays and a couple walks into his restaurant, he can refuse to serve them, physically assault them, and literally throw them out of his establishment if he claims “the bible made him do it.” Yarborough’s legislation means he cannot be prosecuted for assault, discrimination, or violating the Constitution if he claims he was exercising religion. However, it will not stop there. For example, if a homeowner’s association wants to keep non-white people from moving into their neighborhood they could ban realtors from selling or renting homes to minorities, or evict minorities from their homes on grounds that African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics living in their vicinity violates their First Amendment free exercise of religion.
The Arizona legislation, if it becomes law, would effectively void the Constitution’s equal rights protections, eliminate anti-discrimination laws, and restrict the religious freedom of non-christians just to name a few. It would give any entity, business, trust, or association the right to refuse to serve members of other religions, or ban them from a city if city leaders said it was against their religion to allow other faiths inside city boundaries. It is by no means a stretch of the imagination to believe that an Arizona citizen, business, church, association, or militia group would follow the bible’s commandment to stone gays or murder unmarried women cohabitating with a man if they knew citing religious freedom protected them from prosecution. The bill ultimately protects any religious person or group from arrest or prosecution for any heinous act if they claimed allowing someone to exercise their Constitutional right inhibited their exercise of religion. If the legislation becomes law it means religion is a “get out of jail” free card or legal justification to break any law including murder or violating the Constitution if it is founded on their religious belief.
Yarborough’s legislation is the iteration of what the religio-wingnuts have been attempting to do for the past thirty years since Reagan gave them power to affect legislation to follow the bible. S.B. 1062 is the law christians lust for to replace the Constitution that prohibits christian extremists from imposing their will on the entire population under the guise of “religious liberty.” This is not the first time Yarborough has introduced legislation giving “religious license to discriminate against gays,” and he told a reporter he is very aware that “his bill could be used to discriminate against not only gay people, but also unmarried women, or people with different religious beliefs,” or that it “could actually allow religion to be used to justify breaking any law in Arizona.”
According to Yarborough, his bill does not infringe on people’s rights. He claims it is no different than pharmacists who are protected from dispensing the “morning after pill to women if it violates their religious beliefs,” but it is too far-reaching in its scope and literally legalizes any action, whether discrimination or biblical stoning, if the person or group of persons claims it is part of their “exercise of religion.” It is the kind of law the religious right pants over to give them authority to rule by theocracy, and an indication of what they have in mind when they say it is long-past time to revisit the First Amendment and clarify what “free exercise” of religion means.
Last year Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed an identical Yarborough bill as part of her vendetta against the legislature for not passing a budget, but with no vendetta on the horizon, there is a very good possibility Brewer will sign the bill into law when it passes the Arizona legislature again. Americans would be foolish to think that Yarborough’s legislation will not catch on in other states. It is important to remember that Arizona is by no means the most religious state in the Union, and the idea behind his bill is the impetus for the Hobby Lobby case due to be ruled on by the Supreme Court this year, as well as the Utah Mormon appeal to continue its ban on same-sex marriages. The religio-wingnuts have spent the past five years arguing that their Constitutional freedom to exercise religion includes forcing compliance with bible edicts on the rest of the population, and if any American thinks it will end with christians banning contraception or same-sex marriage, they have not been paying attention to calls to revert to biblical punishment for any number of scriptural violations.
The Constitution is clear that government cannot infringe on any Americans’ right to exercise religion, but the religious rights wants to alter definition of “exercise religion” to give them legal cover to infringe on every other Americans’ right to their Constitutional protections. There is no good outcome of legislation like Arizona’s SB 1062, and no American should be deluded that extremists would stop at taking religious license to discriminate against gays, because the christian bible is rife with atrocities against the human race. With protection from prosecution based on free exercise of religion, and a religious text full of commands to exterminate non-believers, the bible is just the guide christian fundamentalists will use to stone gays, women, and members of other religions if one horrifying Arizona bill catches on in truly religious states, and replaces the Constitution.

Ratings Plummet For 'Duck Dynasty' Season Premiere After Star's Gay-Bashing Interview

Viewership was UP significantly from the end of last season. That is according to wingnut 'sources'. This isn't the whole truth.

Remember as the old adage goes - Figures never lie, but liars ...

As it turns out, a national controversy sparked by racist and homophobic remarks doesn't necessarily result in a ratings boost for a television show.
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Many speculated that "Duck Dynasty," A&E's hit reality series about a family of swamp millionaires who made their fortune off duck calls, would draw even more viewers after one of the show's stars, Phil Robertson, made headlines last month for railing against "homosexual offenders," "shintos" and "islamists" in a wild interview with GQ.
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But rather than a ratings spike, viewership for the show's season five premiere actually dipped considerably. Wednesday's premiere drew 8.5 million viewers, down 28 percent from the season four premiere last August.

The Coal company that poisoned W. VA. water to escape all financial consequences.

Hold on to your hats, people - Freedom Industries, the company that poisoned 300,000 West Virginians with a chemical leak is now immune against any civil complaints or judgements that may be brought by the people and businesses suffering losses.
How does that T.E.A. taste? T.E.A. Party Freedom: Privatize the Profits, Socialize The Losses.

According to the Charleston Gazette:

The company's assets and liabilities are "unknown," according to the filing.

Under the bankruptcy code, Chapter 11 permits a company to reorganize and continue operating.

Supreme Court to rule on warrantless smartphone searches


The Supreme Court will hear a pair of cases that will set precedents on the expectation of privacy in your mobile devices. American police forces have treated smartphones are equivalent to a notebook -- something that can be thumbed through during a search without a special warrant. But your smartphone potentially holds thousands of photos, access to a lifetime of email, intimate conversations with family, friends (and attorneys!), passwords for dozens of services, and more. Warrantless smartphone searches might give police access to all the most intimate parts of your life -- if that isn't the sort of thing that courts should be overseeing, then what is?
Incidentally, this is a good argument for encrypted mobile device storage and strong mobile passwords.
The first of the two cases is Riley v. California, initially a state-level case involving whether or not evidence gathered from an arrestee’s phone without a warrant could be used against him in trial.
Police arrested Riley in 2009 for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon after he shot at an occupied vehicle. He was later arrested and police searched the phone in his possession at the time, turning up evidence that identified him as a gang member out to kill members of a rival gang.
The phone also contained a photo of him with a car that had been spotted at the scene of the shooting. This, along with other evidence gathered from the phone was used against Riley in his trial, where he was convicted and sentence to 15 years behind bars. His lawyers contend that the warrantless search of his phone violated his Constitutional rights and this evidence should not have been used in trial.

Appeals court rules bloggers have same speech protections as journalists

A Ninth Circuit Appeals court has overturned a lower-court decision that said that bloggers weren't entitled to the same free speech protection as journalists. The case involved a 2011 blog post by Crystal Cox in which she alleged that a firm had engaged in tax fraud; the company she wrote about said that the allegation was false, and that Cox should be found guilty of libel because she wasn't a "journalist." The higher court found that, journalist or not, Cox's guilt turned not on the truth of her statement, but whether she was negligent, and could have discovered the truth.
The ruling on Friday is particularly important in the era of online content, Volokh said.
"In this day and age, with so much important stuff produced by people who are not professionals, it's harder than ever to decide who is a member of the institutional press," Volokh said.
Cox's blogging activities have attracted their share of controversy. According to the court's opinion, Cox has a history of making allegations of fraud and other illegal activities "and seeking payoffs in exchange for retraction."


Will Iran sanctions bill proponents support a war tax?

Even as American and international negotiators were finalizing the interim agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, both houses of Congress were moving to tie President Obama's hands in the future. While a bipartisan bill mandating harsh new sanctions nears a veto-proof majority in the Senate, House repugicans announced they would take up the legislation championed by Senators Mark Kirk (r-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
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But the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" doesn't just risk fracturing the multinational coalition and scuttle its efforts to reach a final deal to control Tehran's nuclear program. It makes an American conflict with Iran much more likely. For starters, the text essentially commits the U.S. to come to Israel's defense even in a preventive war it chooses to initiate. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (r-SC) among others has been threatening to bring the needed authorization for the use of military of force (AUMF) to the floor for months. All that's missing for hawks like Kirk warning of a repeat of Munich is the tax revenue to pay for the war they seem on a path to start.
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If the United States learned anything from its preventive war in Iraq, it should have been that such misadventures are unpredictable, bloody and very, very costly. (Paul Wolfowitz's promises notwithstanding, the $1 trillion-plus price tag for the invasion and occupation was not paid for by "a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.") In that regard, an American conflict with Iran would likely be little different.  

Israelis Hate Being Called Nazis

Call Israelis "the strongest democrats in the Middle East." Call them complex and fractious. Call them militarized tools with racist streaks who expand their territory at the expense of peoples they consider inferior. Only don't call them Nazis, because they will totally throw you in jail!
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Israel was founded, in part, to give Jews of the world a safe haven from the sort of anti-Semitism that found its lowest expression in the Nazis' extermination programs. Since then, what with their universal military service and wars and secret assassination squads and crazy settlers and bizarre policing practices of Palestinians and their own Arab citizens, Israelis have had to suffer through every undergraduate activist's discovery of reductiveness, dramatic irony, and shock value: "The Nazi-haters are acting like Nazis!"
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It's a provocation the Jewish State is one step closer to banning entirely, the New York Times reports:
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Parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a bill that would make it a crime to call someone a Nazi - or any other slur associated with the Third Reich - or to use Holocaust-related symbols in a noneducational way. The penalty would be a fine of as much as $29,000 and up to six months in jail.
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Weirdly, Israelis who actually have some experience with Nazis are not so sure that "Never Forget" and "Don't Fucking Say That or We'll Arrest You" are entirely compatible:

Police fled from station after family dumped goblin

A family dumped its tenant's "goblin" at about 8pm on Wednesday at the Tshabalala Police Station, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, sending police officers fleeing. A family that claimed a lodger owned the goblin took it to the station in a suitcase.
"We heard some screaming from the charge office and most officers who had knocked off rushed to see what was happening. At first everyone gathered around the suitcase, wanting to see what was inside," said one policeman. The officer said a traditional healer who had come with the family opened the suitcase and a weird looking creature jumped out of a bottle that was filled with blood.
"No one told anyone it was time to run. One minute, the charge office was full, the next, it was empty. I think some people went out through the windows because we could not all have fitted through the door. Fat cops and slim cops all ran for their lives screaming," said the officer.
Police officers gave differing versions about how the goblin looked. Some said it looked like am snake with the head of a dog and others said it was a dog with scales like a pangolin. They all agreed that it smelt terribly. The traditional healer is said to have overpowered the goblin and burnt it. Bulawayo deputy police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Bhekimpilo Ndlovu confirmed the incident had happened.

TV thief made getaway on skateboard

Police are hunting for a thief who made his getaway on a skateboard after stealing a flat-screen TV from a Target store in Florida.
The suspect arrived at the business minutes before its 11pm closing on Wednesday and snatched the 32” television. He then tucked the TV under his arm and skated toward the exit of the store in the Clearwater Mall.

The skateboarder’s first attempt to flee the store was thwarted by a set of locked doors. As he headed for another exit, the man allegedly flashed a knife when confronted by store personnel.
The thief then rolled away from the store while a security guard chased after him on foot. Police described the skateboarder as a “white male in his 20s, about 5 feet 11 inches tall and 150 pounds.” They additionally noted that his “getaway vehicle was brown in colour and had orange-yellow wheels.”

Game store robber called ahead to pre-order what he was about to steal

A video game thief in Nashville, Tennessee called ahead to make sure his loot would be ready and waiting when he arrived.

Ziggy

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The House That Was Deliberately Built Upside Down

At first glance, it looks like the occupants in this home are stuck to the ceiling. But amazingly the house was built this way as a tourist attraction at the VVTs the All-Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow. As well as its impressive exterior the upside down house is fully furnished with decor, belongings and even a Mini - all painstakingly installed upside down.

Pulling Out All The Stops To Save A 40-Ton, 100-Year-Old World's Fair Pipe Organ

Deep beneath San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, in a windowless bunker called Brooks Hall, a 40-ton pipe organ gathers dust. Known variously as the Exposition Organ and Opus 500, the century-old instrument was a mechanical and musical wonder when it was unveiled in 1915, the seventh-largest organ in the world.

Today, the organ's 7,500 pipes and countless other parts sit silent and in pieces, packed into boxes and crates spread across 3,600 square feet of concrete, basement floor. To prepare a new site for the instrument, move it, put the thing back together again, and then tune it could cost upwards of $2 million, assuming, of course, you could find a home for the finished instrument.

World War II Bunker Cut In Half To Make Artful War Memorial

A World War II bunker near the town of Culemborg in the Netherlands was cut in half and transformed into an artful war memorial. Bunker 599, originally built in 1940, was meant to hold up to 13 soldiers during bombing raids. It was one of many small cogs in the New Dutch Waterline, an expansive series of water-based defenses that dates back to 1815.

But with the help of Dutch studios RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon, the bunker has been split down the middle to create a unique and artful war memorial.

El Hotel del Salto

Hotel del Salto in Colombia was built in 1928 for wealthy tourists visiting the nearby Tequendama Falls. Eventually, the waterfall was contaminated and visitors lost interest, leading to the hotel’s abandonment.

Flysch Rock Formation in Zumaia, Spain

In the town of Zumaia in Spain are two beaches that contain a geologic treasure that contains millions of years of the Earth's history. The Itzurun and Santiago beaches are hotspots for geologists because it houses one of the longest continuous rock strata in the world called a 'flysch.'

This flysch in Zumaia was found to have formed over a period of over 100 million years by the crashing of the waves against the cliffs. The result is an abrasion platform with alternate hard layers and soft layers

Lightning Strikes Etch The Sky Over White Sands National Monument

White dunes roll away into the distance like giant snow drifts; then lightning flashes, illuminating the silvery peaks, so that momentarily they seem to glow. However, despite appearances, snow here is unlikely.

This is the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, and what we see are granules of gypsum piled up in waves across the landscape. White Sands is, in fact, part of the biggest gypsum dune field on the planet. It's an incredible sight at any time but is made doubly stunning during a lightning storm.

Daily Comic Relief

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Mystery Rock 'Appears' In Front Of Mars Rover

After a decade of exploring the Martian surface, the scientists overseeing veteran rover Opportunity thought they'd seen it all. That was until a rock mysteriously 'appeared' a few feet in front of the six wheeled rover a few days ago.

In a comparison of recent photographs captured by the Rover's camera, on sol 3528 (a sol is a Martian day) of the mission, only bare bedrock can be seen. But on sol 3540, a fist-sized rock had appeared.

Unusual client slithered into lawyer's office

The Scottish SPCA have launched an appeal to trace the owner of a small corn snake which slithered its way into a lawyer’s office in Dunbartonshire.Scotland’s animal welfare charity was called in to rescue the snake after it was spotted inside the offices of Clyde Defence Lawyers in Alexander Street, Clydebank, on Thursday morning.
Now named Tango, the orange and yellow snake is being cared for at the charity’s Glasgow Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Cardonald. Animal Rescue Officer Emma Campbell explained: “The person who first spotted Tango didn’t think he was real as he wasn’t moving.
“She thought someone in the office was playing a prank on her but after a colleague gave him a gentle prod it was clear he wasn’t a toy and that they needed to contact us for help. Tango is a placid wee guy and he isn’t very big as he’s still a juvenile.”

Lady injured after porcupine fell from lamppost onto her head

A porcupine plummeted from a lampost and landed on a woman's the head in the G├ívea district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday night.
Sandra Nabucco, 52, was walking his dog when the incident happened. She was left with about 200 spikes lodged in her scalp and had to be sent to the hospital to receive medical help.
"It was a huge shock. I was walking with my dog when out of nowhere, I felt a thud in my head. I looked down, I saw a critter. I put my hand on my head and felt the thorns. The pain was enormous" she said. Sandra says that in the clinic, everyone was impressed with what had happened to her.
"I was still a little disoriented. Was attended by the surgeon on duty, who takes the thorns of my scalp with forceps. All without anesthesia. I and the doctor stopped counting counting when we got to 150, but there must have been around 200." Sandra is now taking antibiotics to accelerate the healing of the holes and prevent infection.

Intoxicated men claim dog drove vehicle into ditch

Tahlequah police arrested two Tulsa men and impounded their dog after one of the men claimed the canine was driving their mini-van and caused it to become stuck in a ditch.
A Tahlequah police officer responded to reports of a vehicle stuck in a ditch last Saturday, where he found William D. McDonald, 65, in the driver’s seat of the mini-van. Steven B. Schofield, 42, was a passenger.
McDonald first told police he and Schofield had pulled over because they were tired, and when they tried to turn around, the van became stuck. “I asked who was driving the vehicle and both of them denied even driving the vehicle,” said Donnell. “McDonald stated that the dog was driving the vehicle and that was why they had gotten stuck.”
Donnell said both men smelled of alcohol and appeared to be drunk. Both had trouble standing without assistance and had poor hand-to-eye coordination. McDonald and Schofield were taken to the city jail for public intoxication charges. Police also found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun in the van. The vehicle could not be moved from the scene without a wrecker. The dog was taken to the city pound.

Animal Pictures