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

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts get a life...

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Today in History

1567 Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, is murdered his sick-bed in a house in Edinburgh when the house blows up.
1799 The USS Constellation captures the French frigate Insurgente off the West Indies.
1825 The House of Representatives elects John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. President.
1861 Jefferson F. Davis is elected president of the Confederate States of America.
1864 Union General George Armstrong Custer marries Elizabeth Bacon in their hometown of Monroe, Mich.
1904 Japanese troops land near Seoul, Korea, after disabling two Russian cruisers.
1909 France agrees to recognize German economic interests in Morocco in exchange for political supremacy.
1916 Conscription begins in Great Britain as the Military Service Act becomes effective.
1922 The U.S. Congress establishes the World War Foreign Debt Commission.
1942 Chiang Kai-shek meets with Sir Stafford Cripps, the British viceroy in India.
1943 The Red Army takes back Kursk 15 months after it fell to the Germans.
1946 Stalin announces the new five-year plan for the Soviet Union, calling for production boosts of 50 percent.
1951 Actress Greta Garbo gets U.S. citizenship.
1953 The French destroy six Viet Minh war factories hidden in the jungles of Vietnam.
1964 The U.S. embassy in Moscow is stoned by Chinese and Vietnamese students.
1978 Canada expels 11 Soviets in spying case.
1994 Nelson Mandela becomes the first black president of South Africa.

Non Sequitur


"100 Books To Read In a Lifetime," according to Amazon

800px Old book bindings Amazon posted its list of "100 Books To Read In A Lifetime." Of course, no such list could ever please everyone, but there are quite a few surprising and "unpopular" picks included. They say: "We wanted the list to cover all stages of a life (which is why you'll find children's books in here), and we didn't want the list to feel like homework." "100 Books To Read In A Lifetime"

Drivers allowed to warn other motorists of speed traps, Missouri judge says

It's a common practice among drivers who pass through a speed trap: Flash your headlights at approaching cars as a warning to slow down. Now, a federal court judge in Missouri says penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their First Amendment right to free speech.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis on Monday issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the St. Louis County town of Ellisville from citing and prosecuting drivers who flash their lights to warn of radar and speed traps. Ellisville's city attorney said there are no plans to appeal.
The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri on behalf of Michael Elli. On Nov. 17, 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by Ellisville police.
An officer saw the flash and pulled Elli over, citing him for a city ordinance violation, though a similar statute exists in Missouri law. Elli was told he would likely face a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted.
The case was eventually dropped. Ellisville City Attorney George Restovich said the city changed the policy and no longer pulls over people for flashing headlights.
"The reality is that the injunction doesn't change the way the city has been operating for the past 12 months," Restovich said.
Still, Ellisville continued to fight the suit. At a hearing last year, Ellisville officials made the case that flashing headlights could interfere with a police investigation.
But Autrey said in his ruling that the flashing of headlights was essentially a good thing, sending "a message to bring one's driving in conformity with the law — whether it be by slowing down, turning on one's own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution."
Jonathan Turley, a criminal attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School, said courts across the country are dealing with the same issue. In virtually every case except those still being decided, the person cited has prevailed, Turley said.
"This has sweeping implications for the First Amendment," Turley said. "What this citizen is doing is warning other citizens about the violation of law. People regularly warn others about the possibility of arrest. There's no difference between a verbal warning and a mechanical warning. Both are forms of speech."
Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, said that since filing the suit, his office has heard from many other drivers across Missouri complaining about similar police practices.
"It is important that law enforcement officers in other jurisdictions take note of this federal court decision and the ACLU-MO's commitment to free speech," Mittman said in a statement.

Did you know ...

About why CVS dropping cigarettes is a smokescreen

About big trouble for coca-cola

About the 10 most dangerous places to be a woman in America

That a man washes up in the Marshalls islands after 16 months adrift

Callous repugican Senators Kill Unemployment Benefits Extension

The repugican cabal Senators voted almost unanimously to block a three month extension on benefits for the long term unemployed. …
Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul  
1.7 million out of work Americans can thank repugican Senators for depriving them of a much need extension to jobless benefits. The repugican cabal Senators blocked a three month extension on benefits for the long term unemployed. The measure failed to break a filibuster and restore funding for the long term unemployed as they battle to make ends meet in the midst of the continuing economic crisis.
Democrats were united in support of restoring unemployment benefits, but only one repugican, Dean Heller of Nevada voted to extend the benefits. Every other repugican Senator said no to providing an extension to assist unemployed Americans still seeking work. The measure failed on a 55-43 vote on straight party lines except for Nevada’s Senate delegation (Heller voted yes and Harry Reid who is supportive of unemployment benefits extension, ended up casting a no vote for procedural reasons so that the measure can be brought up for a vote again in the future).
A solid majority of Americans say that extending unemployment benefits is the right thing to do, but repugican politicians apparently could not care less. With the exception of Dean Heller, who represents recession-battered Nevada, repugican cabal Senators do not seem to care whether their constituents are suffering or not. They have embraced an ideology that punishes the poor and struggling citizens of this nation, while bankers and CEOs enrich themselves. Jobless benefits, like food stamps and other anti-poverty programs, are placed on the chopping block, because middle and working class Americans simply are not suffering enough in their eyes.
The repugican cabal has once again demonstrated their contempt for America’s jobless as they try to re-enter the work force. Voters need to take note and make sure that politicians who callously cast aside America’s jobless, are voted out of office this November. Nothing voters do can teach some of these Senators what empathy is, but perhaps delivering a stinging electoral defeat can at least familiarize them with the pain of having to look for another job. That pain is very real for many Americans, and it is time that some of the elected officials who are so indifferent to their suffering feel a little pain themselves. Then maybe, just maybe, they will begin to understand.

Thanks to repugicans, 73,000 More Americans Will Lose Their Unemployment Benefits This Week

There is a lot of political chatter surrounding extending unemployment benefits, but the reality is that 73,000 more Americans will lose their unemployment benefits this week because repugicans are blocking an extension.
After Democrats came up one repugican vote short on extending unemployment benefits today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “I’m beginning to believe there is nothing that will get repugicans to yes. It’s a ‘no’ vote because they don’t want to extend unemployment insurance. We’re one repugican vote away from restoring benefits to 1.7 million Americans. There is one repugican vote standing in the way of a lifeline to these 1.7 million people. And every week [repugicans] delay, another 73,000 Americans lose these crucial benefits — benefits that help them keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while they search for a job.”
Democratic Senate candidate Alison Grimes blasted  Mitch McConnell for taking the ability to provide food and shelter away from 20,000 Kentuckians, “Today, nearly 20,000 Kentuckians were one vote away from receiving the income they need to put food on their families’ tables; Mitch McConnell could have been that one vote. Instead, he chose to turn his back on good people who have worked hard and want to work again. To make matters worse, McConnell continues to laugh in their faces by refusing to offer a jobs plan to help put them back to work.”
Any of the repugicans who voted no could have been the one vote that would save 73,000 Americans from being pushed closer to extreme poverty. Mitch McConnell could have been that vote. John McCain could have been that vote. Any of the repugicans senators who are eyeing a run at the 2016 repugican nomination could have chosen to show the country that they are ready to appeal to all Americans, but Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio demonstrated why the repugican cabal is the cabal of the few by voting no.
Senate repugicans think that they are achieving some sort of victory by ripping the last remaining lifeline away from hardworking Americans who can’t find a job. This consistent act of cruelty is on the verge of backfiring, as each no vote reveals that Senate repugicans don’t care about the needs of the American people.
Americans who are losing their unemployment benefits aren’t going to blame Obama. They aren’t going to blame Harry Reid. They are going to blame the repugican cabal. Each week that goes by without an unemployment benefits extension builds more anger towards the repugican cabal.
This isn’t about politics, or game playing. This is about the fact that 73,000 people a week are losing their unemployment benefits, because one more repugican won’t stand up and do the right thing.
The cowardice of one will tarnish all. Mitch McConnell and his Senate repugicans think they are winning the battle over UI, but they are really losing the war and votes with their refusal to help the unemployed.

Middle class brands collapse, 1% brands thrive

Evidence of the widening wealth gap: Across America, brands that serve middle class customers are shutting down, while businesses that serve the rich are thriving. Good bye $16.50 dinners at Olive Garden, hello $71 checks at Capital Grille.

House repugicans Continue To Falsely Claim President Obama And IRS Committed Crimes

During a recent subcommittee hearing conducted by the House Ways and Means Committee, repugicans continued to push their false accusations that the President somehow committed crimes against wingnuts…

With Coca-Cola’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Ad, Corporate and wingnut Racism Face Off

I’m sorry, I have to chime in as the morons on the right are making something out of nothing about the Coca-Cola commercial celebrating diversity during the Super Bowl. Uh, Coke is not multicultural and couldn’t care less, while the wingnut racists show their true color. As a person of color, I find both Coke and the wingnuts racist.
Coca-Cola is a multi-billion dollar corporation worth more than $173.05 billion according to Forbes and is number 3 as the richest corporation in the world. Like any corporation, Coke has a fiduciary duty to make a profit. Their commercial America the Beautiful (ATB) is proof that they would make a profit any way they can, which includes making the song ATB a catch-phrase to make money.
This caused a lot of controversy from the right and not the fact that Coke exploited immigrants but because Coke allowed ATB to be sung in a language other than English. A tweet from someone named Millie Weaver states:
If Millie read 8 U.S. Code § 1423, she would have know that this does not apply to corporations but to immigrants wanting to become naturalized:
(a) No person except as otherwise provided in this subchapter shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States upon his own application who cannot demonstrate—
(1) an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language: Provided, That the requirements of this paragraph relating to ability to read and write shall be met if the applicant can read or write simple words and phrases to the end that a reasonable test of his literacy shall be made and that no extraordinary or unreasonable condition shall be imposed upon the applicant; and
(2) a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States.
(1) The requirements of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to any person who is unable because of physical or developmental disability or mental impairment to comply therewith.
(2) The requirement of subsection (a)(1) of this section shall not apply to any person who, on the date of the filing of the person’s application for naturalization as provided in section 1445 of this title, either—
(A) is over fifty years of age and has been living in the United States for periods totaling at least twenty years subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence, or
(B) is over fifty-five years of age and has been living in the United States for periods totaling at least fifteen years subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence.
(3) The Attorney General, pursuant to regulations, shall provide for special consideration, as determined by the Attorney General, concerning the requirement of subsection (a)(2) of this section with respect to any person who, on the date of the filing of the person’s application for naturalization as provided in section 1445 of this title, is over sixty-five years of age and has been living in the United States for periods totaling at least twenty years subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence.
So using Millie’s wingnut logic, does that mean we can revoke her U.S. citizenship and deport her for not having a grasp of the English language as per Section (1)(a)? According to Raw Story, there are more racist tweets and by the looks of things, if Section (1)(a) of 8 U.S. Code § 1423 requires immigrants to have a grasp of the English language, suffice it to say that if these folks were immigrants seeking to become U.S. citizens, they would fail miserably?
As a Person of Color, I am offended by both parties and if I were to boycott Coke for exploiting multiculturalism, I then would ask ICE,  in all fairness, to deport these Twitter morons as they lack the basic English skills to live in the United States.

CVS Ending Sales Of Tobacco Offers wingnut Media Dual Dissembling Opportunity

Unfortunately, nicotine addiction knows no political affiliation. I can report anecdotally that I am acquainted with as many liberal, free-thinking chain-smokers as those whose wingnut beliefs tend to set my teeth on edge. Be that as it may, the image of the big plantation tobacco farmer is inextricably linked to the repugican cabal, and as long ago as 1998, repugican cabal leadership began to understand that the inflow of lobbyist funds was not worth the long-term PR hassle.
During the month of March, 16 years ago, Washington Post writers Ceci Connelly and John Mintz published a piece entitled, For Big Tobacco, a Future Without repugican cabal Support. This trip through 20th Century history is fascinating for many reasons, not the least because former House Speaker-turned-CNN Crossfire host Newt Gingrich seemed to declare the end of an era.  While ironically hitching a ride to California aboard a Big Tobacco plane, Gingrich is quoted putting his benefactors on notice:
“‘You guys have screwed us…The repugican cabal has been saddled with tobacco.’
This time, said Gingrich, he wouldn’t allow President Clinton to demagogue repugicans on the tobacco issue in the same way he had outmaneuvered repugican cabal leaders on the budget in 1995.
‘I will not let Bill Clinton get to the left of me on this,’ he said.”
And yet…
When CVS/Caremark announced its decision this week to cease the sale of tobacco products in its retail stores by October 1, it wasn’t the liberal media that seized on a perceived opportunity to protect donor dollars while creating another tenuous rebuke of Obamacare. I am fairly certain at this point that the repugican cabal platform consists of blaming every conceivable worldly ill on health care reform. Shaun White withdraws from the slopestyle snowboarding competition at the Sochi Olympic games? Thanks faulty exchange rollout!
Though the tactics may have changed, wngnut media figures have wasted little time spin doctoring, in sort of a shadow defense of the tobacco lobby. USAToday Contributor Katrina Trinko (also Managing Editor of Heritage Foundation publication, The Foundry) writes with evidence in hand (none) that the chain’s decision will have no impact upon the nation’s smoking patterns. She observes, “There’s no doubt that cigarettes are unhealthy — and that second-hand smoke has exposed non-smokers to health risks as well. But CVS’ decision doesn’t affect second-hand smoke, and won’t necessarily make a steep dent in overall smoking rates. Other chains, such as Target, haven’t sold cigarettes in years.”
So really then, CVS, why bother?
And in what I’m sure is 100 percent coincidence, wouldn’t you know it, The Foundry (yes!) ran its own piece attempting to tie CVS’ business decision with the desire of wingnut-run corporations to exclude female employees from Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage mandate. Amy Payne offers:
“Businesses want to provide products and services that customers want to buy. If they don’t, they go out of business. But CVS’s move to change the products it offers shows that plenty of business leaders consider more than just the bottom line—they consider the values they want their companies to reflect. This is another freedom they should enjoy in America—though it has recently been denied to businesses like Hobby Lobby that are trying to defend their right to do business in accordance with their values.”
Yes, the obvious connection between CVS’s decision to adhere to carefully cultivated healthy brand standards, versus Hobby Lobby’s assertion of religious freedom rights equal to American citizens. I don’t know how we missed it! White males seeking to deny female employees a full range of reproductive health options is exactly the same as a national chain deciding to discontinue harmful products that a customer can just go to another store to obtain.
So if you ask wingnut media, CVS’s landmark decision is either a pointless public health move or an assertion of corporate entitlement that undercuts Obamacare. Sometimes you just have to step back and admire the other side’s contortionary skill.

Another wingnut Plan to Take Their States and Go Home

Loathe what the liberals stand for, meet their agenda with animosity, cultivate a visceral desire to wipe it from the face of the Earth. Hate, hate, hate it…
In the wake of Phyllis Schlafly’s claim that wingnuts are moving out of states that permit marriage equality and to totalitarian-minded Red States in search of some Putin-like City on the Hill, wingnut talking head Selwyn Duke has come up with a way to “win” the culture war that wingnuts have lost: secede. In a column this week on Renew America, Duke argues that wingnuts must embrace separation over cultural differences with liberals – just like the former states of Yugoslavia. Yes. He wants to “Balkanize” America. He calls the process natural.
Natural…This is sort of, I suppose, like the process that turned a document (the U.S. Constitution) that doesn’t so much as mention god or the bible, into a document actually written by god and based on the bible. Or an amendment that bans establishment of religion into a document that actually establishes religion. Or the process that takes biblically-sanctioned polygamy and concubinage and turns it into “traditional” marriage of one man and one woman.
You know, “natural.” Like fracking, getting “natural” gas through unnatural means. But fracking a brain rather than the ground. I like to think of them as byproducts of thought. You know, the stuff we usually flush.
What the myopic and homophobic Duke is afraid of is being “absorbed by a wider culture.” For Duke, liberals are some sort of variation of Star Trek’s Borg, who assimilate everything in sight. And he’s come up with a great “new” way of making the battle lines clear: view the enemy as the “other.”
Wow, it is almost as though Duke has at least a passing familiarity with the bible, because that is exactly what the Old Testament does with regard to the Gentiles, or as later christians came to view them, the Pagans. This is the Mosaic Distinction spoken of by scholar Jan Assmann, the point at which the true/false distinction was brought into religion. The Old Testament is an anti-Pagan diatribe, dismissing everything outside of judaism as false. Gentiles become the despised “other.” Heck, even jesus didn’t have anything good to say about Gentiles, dismissing them as dogs and swine (and yes, that includes you, Mr. Duke).
In other words, Duke hasn’t come up with anything new and original here. His plan is more of a “get back to basics and hate your Gentile neighbor” plan: “Oh,” he laments, “the others may occupy the same borders, but they are as alien as anyone outside them.”
Their culture is to be rejected not just because its decadent and despicable – and our liberal-created variety is certainly those things – but because it is of the other. So it is with the others’ laws, social codes, and traditions, too: they are born of an infidel, alien culture and are to be viewed with extreme suspicion if not hostility.
And this is precisely how leftists should be viewed.
Never mind that the United States was founded upon liberal principles as the world’s first modern liberal democracy, founded not on a biblical list of things you can’t do, but rather upon a secular Enlightenment list of natural rights, an idea that is about as un-biblical as you can get.
Duke, of course, champions the status quo. If liberals shout “change” then conservatives must shout “tradition” and push for tradition’s restoration. And he doesn’t want a “cold intellectual understanding of the issues” because of course, intellectualism gets in the way of the “passion” (hatred of the other) off of which the modern repugican cabal feeds.
So Duke says wingnuts need “some sort of Amish jihad, a deep love of the good and hatred of the evil that translates into action.”
Loathe what the liberals stand for, meet their agenda with animosity, cultivate a visceral desire to wipe it from the face of the Earth. Hate, hate, hate it with the fires of a thousand burning suns.
These people occupy the wrong century. They would have been far happier in the thirteenth century. Oh wait, Duke and his fellow heretics would have been quickly rounded up by the Inquisition and “put to the question” with pincers and pliers and hot things in unpleasant places.
The only age in which heretics like Duke have been allowed to operate with impunity since the Theodosian Code was published in the fifth century has – ironically enough – been the liberal United States of America, the product of the secular European Enlightenment. That is the only reason Duke can spew his particular heresy with impunity.
Because the ideals of liberalism protect him from the forces of religious tradition he champions.
The problem is, he just doesn’t get it. He is far happier now, and far better off, than he would be in the state he so much desires, a state with an established religion that, rather than having to secede from the other, can ruthlessly suppress it instead. Because like it or not, know it or not, Duke himself is the “other.”

The Farm Bill Makes The Koch Brothers Richer While Destroying the Clean Water Act

Washington celebrates finally getting a farm bill passed, corporate agribusiness, the insurance industry, and the Koch brothers are celebrating a poisoned farm bill that adds to the Kochs…
Farm Corporate Welfare 
On Tuesday the Senate passed the “bipartisan” bicameral farm bill that languished for two years because Democrats and repugicans were locked in a heated debate on how much food to take away from poor people, and believe it or not there were progressives claiming the farm bill was a “win for us.” However, while some are congratulating Congress for “only” robbing $8.7 billion from the food stamp program, and Washington celebrates finally getting a farm bill passed, corporate agribusiness, the insurance industry, and the Koch brothers are celebrating a poisoned farm bill that adds to the Kochs fortune and decimates part of the Clean Water Act. If any American other than the Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, and corporate agribusiness is celebrating the farm bill, they obviously are unaware of what the bill entails and why it sailed through both houses of Congress with hardly a whimper from conservatives lusting for deeper food stamp cuts.
Both Democrats and repugicans boasted the repeal of $4.5 billion in annual direct cash payments to farmers (subsidies) that Senator Debbie Stabenow said “ends outdated and unnecessary subsidies.” House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas (r-OK) highlighted the savings by repealing the direct payments and saiddon’t underestimate the magnitude of the reforms;” reforms that surreptitiously deposited direct payment savings right back to corporate agribusiness by expanding crop insurance subsidies. The farm bill actually doles out the same amount of taxpayer money to farmers, mostly wealthy ones, as the old direct payment program. The new bill’s gift to corporate agriculture is the shift from direct payments to crop insurance that ensures them their free taxpayer money will be distributed in a hidden manner making it difficult to repeal later.
Supporters of the government crop insurance program claim it only pays farmers if they experience losses, but because the federally subsidized crop insurance program already pays nearly two-thirds of farmers’ premiums and insurance claims, it guarantees they will get more revenue whether a crop fails or prices drop below a certain level. The new farm bill expands the program at a cost to taxpayers of $7 billion more than the old bill. Last year farmers received $16 billion in crop insurance payments that were paid by the federal government, not an insurance company, regardless that net agriculture income increased by 15 percent. The biggest beneficiaries of crop insurance payouts are corporate agribusiness because there are  no limits to premium support that means the biggest and richest businesses reap the most benefits. A critic of crop insurance, the Environmental Working Group, estimated that 10,000 policy holders receive over $100,000 each in crop insurance subsidies annually, and under the law the names of individual businesses getting support are secret so members of  Congress receiving subsidies will not be disclosed to the public.
The public is also likely unaware that private insurance companies administering the program received $1.3 billion for administrative expenses in 2011 despite the fact that the crop insurance program is paid for by the government. Crop insurance is extremely lucrative for companies administering the program who earn, on average, a 30% return and recorded $10 billion in profits over the past decade. It is so profitable for insurance companies that insurers regularly cover high-risks where farmers plant in low-yield areas because they will get rewarded either way.  Crop insurance also included “Price Loss Coverage” where farmers receive taxpayer payments if prices for corn, soybeans, or 12 other crops fall below a certain level. The new farm bill raises that floor price in ways that guarantee there will always be payouts for some crops making Price Loss Coverage duplicative as well as forces taxpayers to guarantee revenue for private businesses.
One of the private businesses guaranteed more revenue is the Koch brothers whose Americans for Prosperity belief-tank spent no small amount of money advertising and demanding food stamp cuts it claimed was a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars. The Kochs asserted the farm bill serves “special interests and powerful corporations” over taxpayers to garner opposition to it unless it included huge cuts to food stamps. Although the food stamp cuts were not as barbaric as the Kochs wanted, the final version contained two very special gifts for the Koch brothers’ special interests and their powerful corporations.
repugicans preserved $881 million in “mandatory” spending for biomass energy that Koch Industries’ subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, uses to collect a very significant amount of taxpayer-funded government subsidies. The Koch company applied for and collected biomass crop assistance and reports from lobbyists revealed that Koch Industries pressured repugicans to preserve the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) program. Records also show the executive director for Koch Industries asked the Department of Agriculture to expand the BCAP program to include forestry eligibility that was included in the bill to benefit the Koch brothers.
The new bill also includes a measure that guarantees runoff of pesticides and other chemicals from forestry operations, including mills, cannot be regulated under the Clean Water Act as industrial pollution. An amendment included for the Koch brothers defines the “EPA’s treatment of forestry operations as non-point sources of pollution under the Clean Water Act.” The environmental group Wild Oregon asserted that prohibiting the EPA from classifying pesticides and chemicals as pollution was the result of an effort to overturn “a recent court ruling that pollution originating from active logging roads be treated similarly to other industrial activities.” The group says the amendment poses “a serious risk to countless rivers and streams in Oregon that have been damaged by poor logging and road building practices as well as pesticide and chemical runoff.”  Koch industries got help from timber companies and energy corporations to expand the biomass energy program, and their company Georgia-Pacific got lobbying assistance for the amendment banning the EPA from regulating pesticides and industrial chemicals used in the lumber industry.
The repugicans stepped up and complied with the Koch brothers’ demand to poison the water and reap free taxpayer money for biomass while they obeyed the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity and cut funding for food stamps that some on the left claimed was “a victory for our side” because it “only” cut $8.7 billion from the SNAP program affecting 15 blue states exclusively. It is a sad prospect indeed when any non-teabagger or repugican regards any food stamp cuts as a “victory,” but that is what happens when cuts are relative to what repugicans could have slashed from food assistance for the poor.
The farm bill is due to hit President Obama’s desk on Friday and it did not, as repugicans and some Democrats claim, “reform” the system of handing free taxpayer money to corporate agribusinesses when it really locks that welfare in place through misdirection. It was easy for critics of agricultural subsidies to denounce farmers getting paid directly for not planting their fields, but few will decry excessively generous insurance payouts; particularly when it is done in secret like the new farm bill demands. Republicans learned how to hide payouts during the shrub's Iraq war debacle, and keeping the focus on “cutting wasteful food stamp funding” from underserving poor people served its purpose in distracting the public and pundits from the farm bill’s generous gifts to undeserving corporate agribusinesses and Koch Industries. The real giveaway that the farm bill is poison was how easily it passed the House where repugicans had demanded $40 billion in cuts to food stamps, but settled for less because of the billions that will go to the Kochs’ and the toxic chemicals that will go into the water supply.

House repugicans Seek to Ruthlessly Gut the Endangered Species Act

Cynthia Lummis (r-WY) and Doc Hastings (r-WA) are spearheading an effort in the US House to try to weaken the Endangered Species Act.…
House repugicans are taking aim at the Endangered Species Act. The effort, spearheaded by Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis and Washington State’s Doc Hastings, both repugicans, is designed to weaken the Act which was signed into law forty years ago by President Richard Nixon. The repugican critics of the Endangered Species Act argue that it hampers development and imposes undue burdens on landowners as well as on corporations that engage in logging, mining, and drilling. They also contend that the Endangered Species Act is a failure because not many species have been taken off the list.
However, The Endangered Species Act passed in 1973 and other environmental policies enacted in conjunction with it have been successful in providing for the remarkable recovery of several species of wildlife. Take for example our national bird, the iconic bald eagle. Once near the brink of extinction, this majestic bird has made a dramatic recovery. In 1973, the lower 48 states had fewer than 800 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Now there are over 11,000 breeding pairs, with nests in every one of the lower 48 states.
Likewise, the gray whale, has nearly doubled in population since being listed as endangered in 1973, when the initial act was passed into law. The current population estimate of around 19,000 gray whales is an optimal population that is close to the population of the animals prior to the commercial whaling that decimated their numbers in the early and mid-twentieth century.
Although perhaps less glamorous, the American Alligator was on the brink of extinction in the 1970s. The recovery for this species was so thorough that it was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1987. The United States is now home to around 5 million of these impressive reptiles.
The grizzly bear and the gray wolf have also benefited from some federal protection made possible by provisions contained in the Endangered Species Act. In the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem alone the grizzly has rebounded from estimates of fewer than 200 bears in the 1970s to triple that number today. Wolves have also begun to thrive in the Yellowstone area after a successful reintroduction effort in the 1990s.
Lummis has consistently fought to remove grizzly bears and wolves from the Endangered Species List, even though they are popular draws for tourists who come to observe them in Yellowstone. Lummis refers to those who try to defend America’s wildlife from being pushed to extinction as “radical environmentalists.” However, it is repugican politicians who want to give corporate interests the unfettered ability to exploit nearly every acre of pristine land for profit, while ignoring the impact on wildlife and the environment, who are truly pushing a radical agenda. On behalf of the recovery of the majestic bald eagle, the impressive gray whale, the formidable American alligator, the resplendent gray wolf, and the awe-inspiring grizzly bear, the Endangered Species Act should be left alone, so that America’s wildlife can continue to rebound and thrive.

Man damaged door and cheese

A University of North Carolina Chapel Hill graduate student was arrested last Friday.
Brandon Michael Boyle faces charges of breaking and entering and damage to real property for breaking a door and damaging cheese.
Boyle, 23, of Legacy Terrace in Chapel Hill was arrested at about 4:30am after police say he broke into a neighbor's home.
Boyle was armed with a knife, and caused $300 damage to the front door and an estimated $5 in damage to some cheese in the residence. He was taken to the Orange County Jail before being released on a $500 bond.

Man pointed gun at tree trimmers because they were rude and wouldn't let him watch

A 65-year-old Florida man is free on bond after deputies charged him with pulling a gun on three tree trimmers doing work on his daughter’s property.
Lee David Williams posted a $1,500 bond on aggravated assault charges following his arrest on Monday from a home in Palm Coast. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office says they were called out to the home soon after three men – Lloyd Stevens, Jack Leake and Stephen Whatley – complained that Williams pointed a gun at them and demanded they leave the property.
When questioned, the three men told FCSO they were hired by a landscaper with the owner’s permission to cut down some trees on the property and grind the stumps. They also said that they had asked Williams to stay inside the house so he wouldn’t be in any danger from the work they were doing, but Williams kept coming outside anyway.
Williams told deputies he had been left in charge of the residence and was trying to watch the men work, but since they were rude to him, he told them to leave. At that point, according to the arrest report, the three men said Williams went into the house, came back out with a silver revolver in hand and pointed it at Simmons, threatening to shoot him if he did not get off the property. Willams was arrested after refusing to tell deputies where the gun was.

Burglar hit with pan and rolling pin before being pinned to floor by pensioner and her daughter

A burglar got more than he bargained for when he broke into a house in Almondbury, West Yorkshire. He is now in custody in Huddersfield Police Station after being tackled by two women brandishing a pan and a rolling pin.
The 29-year-old man was hit over the head with a pan, hit with a rolling pin and pinned to the floor by the two occupants until police officers arrived on the scene a few minutes later. The mother and daughter were watching TV between 5.45pm and 6.15pm on Sunday when they heard a noise in the adjacent hallway. They dialled 999 and went into the kitchen to check the back door. They then heard a further noise in an upstairs bedroom.
One of the women ventured upstairs and saw the intruder in the doorway of a bedroom. She challenged him and the man ran downstairs and tried to flee the house. But the 41-year-old woman was not letting him escape so easily. She got hold of the man and struggled with him in the kitchen. Her 68-year-old mother provided back-up with a rolling pin. The indomitable duo then restrained the man on the floor until police arrived shortly afterwards.
Acting Detective Inspector Ian Thornes praised the women’s actions, but warned of the dangers of tackling intruders. He said:  “The two occupants rang 999 immediately and the police were quickly on the scene. It was a very brave effort by the two women and in this case had a good outcome. Both occupants are fit and well after their ordeal. However, we would issue cautionary advice about tackling intruders. Anyone who suspects they have an intruder in their house should ring 999 immediately.”



Weird true facts that sound false

A great and endlessly entertaining Reddit thread asks for weird facts that sound made up, but aren't, like "The Ottoman Empire still existed the last time the Cubs won the World Series" and "When you get a kidney transplant, they usually just leave your original kidneys in your body and put the 3rd kidney in your pelvis." And:
The United States in World War 2 created a bomb that used bats. The bats would be carrying small incendiary charges and would be released from the bomb in mid air, causing them to fly and scatter to different buildings in the area. The charges would then detonate and set all the buildings on fire. It was tested and proven to be very effective.
Russia is bigger than Pluto. (Surface area of Pluto: 16.7x10^6 km^2; Surface area of Russia: 17.1x10^6 km^2)
If you melted down the Eiffel Tower, the pool of iron would be less than 3 inches deep (in a square area the same dimensions as the tower base).
John Tyler, who became president in 1841, has 2 living grandchildren.
Mammoths were alive when the Great Pyramid was being built.
If an atom was the size of our solar system, a neutrino would be the size of a golfball, to scale.
Humans share 50% of their DNA with... bananas.

17 Bizarre Aircraft And The Stories Behind Them

It's easy to love these funny-looking planes just for their sheer weirdness. But many of them were built to prove a point or to advance the science of aerodynamics.

10 Unbelievable Places That Are Hard To Believe Really Exist

The world is so full of natural wonders that new, amazing and unbelievable places can be discovered every day. These places from all around the world are, in their own right, beautiful.

Consisting of everything from individual monuments to expanses of water and ancient villages to modern cities, they may not all be attracting, appealing or aesthetically pleasing to everyone, but to some, they are some of the most stunning places on earth.

In Kinshasa, Congo, Robots Direct Traffic And Pedestrians

While red light and speed cameras are increasingly common, we've yet to see machines enlisted that look like actual robots. In Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo, two large robots are being used in place of police officers to direct traffic and pedestrians.

A Labyrinth Worth Getting Lost In

It might not include a Goblin King or magical creatures, but the Labirinto Della Masone is still pretty magnificent. In fact, the lack of baby-snatching villians could even be considered an advantage.
The all-bamboo maze is actually the largest in the world, taking up over 17 acres. The property belongs to famed art collector Franco Maria Ricci, who is opening up the cultural park to the public when it is completed near the end of the year. Aside from the maze, the complex will also house a museum displaying 500 artworks collected by Ricci, a library, an entertainment venue, two restaurants, a bookstore and more.
Goblin King or no, this labyrinth still seems like a pretty magical place to visit and you can learn more about it at Homes and Hues: The World's Largest Labyrinth

Daily Comic Relief


Squirrels being poached from Moscow parks

In this photo taken on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, a squirrel climbs a tree in Moscow's "Neskuchny Sad" park in Moscow, Russia. One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow’s parks have been disappearing. The problem: Russians have gone nuts for squirrels. City official Alexei Gorelov told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he has received multiple reports of squirrel poaching in local parks. In response, municipal authorities on Jan. 31 ordered bolstered security for all of Moscow’s green areas. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) 
One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow's parks have been disappearing. The problem: Russians have gone nuts for squirrels. City official Alexei Gorelov says he has received multiple reports of squirrel poaching in local parks. In response, municipal authorities on Jan. 31 ordered bolstered security for all of Moscow's green areas.
Gorelov, who heads the Ecological Control Department of eastern and northeastern parts of Moscow, said Wednesday that more police patrols would be dispatched to fend off the poachers, who can be fined up to 20,000 rubles ($573).
Squirrels, which are of little use for their meat or their fur, are primarily poached to become pets. Russian websites offer the creatures for sale at 5,000 rubles ($144) each.

Texas 'Chupacabra' may have been purposely bred

A Houston man says paw prints along the Buffalo Bayou in the Memorial area are just one piece of evidence to prove he's spotted the mythical creature known as the Chupacabra. He says he also has the pictures to support his claim. Scott Black's neighbor, David McKee, snapped several photos of the animal last Sunday in the back yard of the Doliver Point gated community.
It was the third sighting of the animal in just the past 11 days. "It had big, long, pointy ears. Long tail, had no fur," said Black, "but on its skin you could see splotches of grey and splotches of raw skin." Black has seen the animal four times in all - each instance right outside his back door. After seeing the photos, a trapper from Ohio visited, then sent Black a cage to try and capture it.

Animal control expert Claude Griffin, has now been brought in to to assess the situation. Griffin said while many will pass off the animal as a coyote, the physical characteristics appear to be a possible combination of several canine species - from a coyote, to a domesticated breed, to a dingo.

Griffin said he's seen it before in the Houston area, which has a higher number of exotic pet owners than many people realize. "People are actually inbreeding the animals and letting them go, and actually going out there and claiming that they're catching them," said Griffin. "So they are practicing the perfection of inbreeding."

Firefighters rescued dog stuck in tree

A small dog was rescued by firefighters in Sonoma Valley, California  last Tuesday night after he chased a squirrel about 14 feet up a tree and got stuck there.
Capt. Mike Bruno said he and other firefighters were headed out for dinner when they got a call that a dog was stuck in a tree. “What did they just say?” he recalled asking the firefighter beside him. “I've worked this job 37 years and this is the first dog I've seen in a tree.”
The firefighters responded to the call in the George Ranch subdivision outside Sonoma and met a woman who took them to the oak where the dog was stuck, Bruno said. Sure enough, a dog, which appeared to be a poodle mix weighing about 20 pounds, was high up in an oak tree, Bruno said.
Firefighter Ryan McCracken climbed a 14-foot ladder to reach the dog, who started whimpering when he saw McCracken approaching, Bruno said. Then the dog walked to McCracken, who was able to safely get the dog down and return the pet to its owner. “He was licking everybody in sight,” Bruno said of the dog after it was rescued.

Horses asked how they prefer to stay warm

Worried about the Norwegian habit of shearing off horses' thick winter coats and replacing them with blankets, Norwegian researchers have started asking the horses themselves how they prefer to ward off the cold. Grete Jørgensen, a researcher with the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, explained how her joint Norwegian-Swedish research project had hired a professional trainer to teach 13 horses, based at Nypan outside Trondheim, to request or refuse a warm, dry blanket. "The horses soon learned, using positive reinforcement techniques, that if they want to change their situation - either to remove a blanket or have one put on - they should tap one symbol with their muzzle. If they want to remain the same, they tapped on another," Jørgensen said.

Most horses chose to keep their blankets on during days with wind, rain or sleet, with the number of horses requesting the removal of their blankets increasing as the temperature rose and spring brought sunny weather. Jørgensen said her colleagues Knut Bøe and Cecilie Mejdell, who ran the Nypan project, aimed "to ask horses whether they really need these blankets and rugs or whether they preferred to use their own coats to regulate their body temperature in different weather." Meanwhile, at a local horse farm on Alstahaug, an island off the coast of north west Norway, Jørgensen offered 16 horses the choice of a heated shelter, an unheated shelter, or staying outside. "We wanted to investigate how horses from several different breeds would tackle different winter weather conditions," she explained.
She found that the horses did not want to come inside the shelters when the weather was dry, even at very low winter temperatures. When there was rain or sleet, however, the horses were more likely to start muscle shivering or move inside. "The weather here up on the northern Norwegian coast is quite changeable, so you can have three seasons in one day, and rain and maybe sleet, which is really challenging for the horses to keep up their core body temperature," she said. Certain Nordic breeds appeared capable of withstanding extreme cold even when it was wet. "We actually have horses that even in the worst conditions never chose to go inside because the water never gets close to the skin," she explained.
"Coat condition is very important and maybe even more important than breed. If the coat is really good, like on a Norwegian breed, then the coat has this cover layer which transports the water off the top of the coat so it never gets wet at the skin." Jørgensen said that the project would help determine the extent to which the rugs and blankets commonly used in Norway and Sweden were actually helping the animals. "Many owners have no clue whether their horses need rugs and blankets, so they dress them up both indoors and in the paddock," she said. "Too much use of rugs over time may produce sores and chaffing. The horse is not able to scratch in itchy places and the coat will not develop to its full length."

Animal Pictures