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Friday, February 21, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1595 The Jesuit poet Robert Southwell is hanged for "treason" being a Catholic.
1631 Michael Romanov, son of the Patriarch of Moscow, is elected Russian Tsar.
1744 The British blockade of Toulon is broken by 27 French and Spanish warships attacking 29 British ships.
1775 As troubles with Great Britain increase, colonists in Massachusetts vote to buy military equipment for 15,000 men.
1797 Trinidad, West Indies surrenders to the British.
1828 The first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix is printed, both in English and in the newly invented Cherokee alphabet.
1849 In the Second Sikh War, Sir Hugh Gough's well placed guns win a victory over a Sikh force twice the size of his at Gujerat on the Chenab River, assuring British control of the Punjab for years to come.
1862 The Texas Rangers win a Confederate victory in the Battle of Val Verde, New Mexico.
1878 The world's first telephone book is issued by the New Haven Connecticut Telephone Company containing the names of its 50 subscribers.
1885 The Washington Monument is dedicated in Washington, D.C.
1905 The Mukden campaign of the Russo-Japanese War, begins.
1916 The battle of Verdun begins with an unprecedented German artillery barrage of the French lines.
1925 The first issue of New Yorker magazine hits the newsstands.
1940 The Germans begin construction of a concentration camp at Auschwitz.
1944 Hideki Tojo becomes chief of staff of the Japanese army.
1949 Nicaragua and Costa Rica sign a friendship treaty ending hostilities over their borders.
1951 The U. S. Eighth Army launches Operation Killer, a counterattack to push Chinese forces north of the Han River in Korea.
1956 A grand jury in Montgomery, Alabama indicts 115 in a Negro bus boycott.
1960 Havana places all Cuban industry under direct control of the government.
1965 El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcom X) is assassinated in front of 400 people.
1972 Richard Nixon arrives in Beijing, China, becoming the first U.S. president to visit a country not diplomatically recognized by the U.S.
1974 A report claims that the use of defoliants by the U.S. has scarred Vietnam for a century.

Non Sequitur


Man Fired for Hurting North Carolina Governor's Feelings

North Carolina Govenor Pat McCrony is a lot of things, but not a job creator. After 45-year-old Drew Swope, a grocery store cook, said a mean thing to him, McCrony got him fired, according to the News & Observer. As far as we can tell, Swope's comments weren't "death threats" mean, or even "personal attack" mean. It was more on par with "I disagree with you politically and your economic policies aren't doing anything to bring manufacturing jobs back to North Carolina" mean. There are two versions of the story:
  • According to Swope, he approached McCrory to see if he needed help when the governor entered his store on Sunday. After realizing who he was — the governor, and a man he disagrees with politically — Swope said, "Thanks for nothing." McCrory got mad, started yelling about how he was the customer and then complained to Swope's boss. “I did speak out of turn," Swope admitted, but he was surprised the governor “had me excluded from the workplace because I upset his feelings.”
  • According to the governor and his communications director, McCrory never yelled, and Swope made an "obscene gesture" at McCrory. Swope also posted on a January Facebook page protesting the governor's visit, suggesting protesters kick an effigy of the governor in the groin — apparently that counts saying “things about physically harming the governor as well.” 
Swope's boss said the governor was polite, and he fired Swope because you're not allowed to be rude to customers. Fair enough. But the repugican govenor should have a lot of experience dealing with people who don't like him. The state's Moral Mondays rallies, which protest the repugican-led legislature's cuts to Medicaid and unemployment benefits, among other things, don't like him either. Back in July, McCrory said, "I went out and talked to several of them and they were not very respectful. They did not represent the majority of those who call themselves moral by cussing me out."
On Monday McCrory reiterated the same sentiment — mean people get to him. "Sure, sure, I hide my thin skin most of the time," he told WBTV. "Everyone likes to be liked. Name calling and swearing and shouting and screaming is not the way I think good political dialogue should go." We're not sure where complaining to someone's boss falls in that dialogue, either.

This repugican Asshat Says Climate Change is In god’s Hands as Taxpayers Foot The Bill for Dirty Coal

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrony knows the dirty coal industry is polluting the environment in North Carolina because his state's environmental regulators are not doing their jobs.…
coal ash2 
On Face the Nation Sunday, Bob Schieffer asked North Carolina Governor Pat McCrony a gotcha question when he asked point-blank if he still believes, as he said in 2008, that climate change is just “in god’s hands and there’s not much humans can do to stop it.”
Now, it is important that McCrony ignorantly said he is not sure if the preponderance of science proves man is affecting the Earth’s climate, but it is more important that he saidwhile he believes in cleaning the environment, there are some things that are out of our control. It’s in god’s hands.”
McCrony’s statement is revealing in more ways than one, but one thing is perfectly clear; McCrony knows the dirty coal industry is polluting the environment in North Carolina because his state’s environmental regulators are not doing their jobs. It is why he expects his god to clean up what he knows will be more toxic spills.
Whether McCrony, a repugican, is telling a bald-faced lie about believing in cleaning the environment, or maintaining his dirty energy bona fides by shifting the cleanup responsibility to god, he is well aware that his former employers are evading or colluding with state regulators and polluting the waterways with veritable impunity.  McCrony retired from Duke Energy in January 2007 after 28 years with the company that dumped 82,000 tons (yes tons) of chemical-laden toxic waste into the Dan River. Even though the spill was the third largest of its kind in U.S. history, the company did not report it until the following day. It is highly likely that since the state government allowed Duke to pay modest fines rather than actually clean up the waste ponds responsible for dumping coal ash into the river, they have little interest or incentive to protect the environment and report the spill immediately.
Duke Energy has been running roughshod over environmental regulations to the point that the head of North Carolina’s environmental department, John Skvarla, described the agency he oversees as a “partner” to those it is supposed to regulate, whom he called “customers.” The good news for North Carolinians, and bad news for Duke Energy, is that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Raleigh launched a criminal investigation and issued a grand jury subpoena to North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources to get to the bottom of what certainly appears to be corruption. The subpoena demanded emails, memos, and reports between the state’s environmental watchdog and Duke Energy from 2010 to February 2, the day Duke Energy dumped 82,000 tons of chemical-laden coal ash into the water and failed to notify authorities or environmental agencies for an entire day.
The subpoena does not name a specific crime or which people are targeted for prosecution yet, but according to an attorney with Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group, “this investigation is long overdue.” The staff attorney, Pete Harrison, said “There’s a long history of a very cozy relationship between the state regulators and Duke Energy who they are supposed to regulate. There’s plenty of ground for suspicion for some kind of criminal behavior going on with all of this.” Environmentalists say North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrony is too lax on, and helping, Duke Energy because he worked for the company for 28 years. Since North Carolina’s environmental regulators are turning a blind eye to Duke’s “cozy relationship” with McCrory and state regulators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring the water and researching the effects on marine life. The EPA asked residents if they see any wildlife that looks harmed or is dead to report it on their website.
The North Carolina spill generated little interest in the media, and it is curious since it was just last month that a chemical storage facility at Freedom Industries leaked chemicals into the Elk River in West Virginia that is still causing trouble in the region. In fact, there was another, barely mentioned toxic dump in West Virginia last week at another coal preparation facility. This time the company with another teabagger sounding name, “Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation” spilled an unknown quantity of coal slurry into a creek in Kanawha County, W.V. on Tuesday morning that has contaminated the waterway according to West Virginia officials. The operation is near Winifrede, southeast of Charleston, near site of last month’s major chemical spill that sent school children home yesterday because of the telltale licorice smell associated with one of the chemicals that leaked into the water supply.
West Virginia officials were not sure of the amount of coal slurry that spilled into Fields Creek from a ruptured pipeline, but a West Virginia DEP spokesman said the spill could be characterized as “significant.” Local reporters tweeted photos of the spill, which turned the creek’s water black. One reporter tweeted with an image that “Water still black after coal slurry spill on Fields Creek in Kanawha County,” and another included an image with the caption, “This is several miles from Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant. Water is black!” and a third wroteslurry spill containment efforts underway along Fields Creek in Kanawha County.”
There appears to be no end in sight to the recurring “accidents” involving the dirty coal industry dumping toxins into the water and it is down to state level environmental agencies lax or no oversight and it is why the EPA must be given the resources to protect the water supply. Last month after the Liberty Industries chemical leak, Speaker John Boehner said there are enough regulations in place and that the Obama Administration needs to do its job. However, repugicans boasted not long ago that they slashed EPA funding for inspections and enforcement by 20% over the past three years that informs they are bound and determined to prevent the EPA from “doing their jobs.” At the first of the year, instead of creating jobs or helping economic recovery, repugicans passed three bills to eliminate the EPA’s authority over states in addition to including several riders eliminating the agency’s authority in the recent budget passed at the end of 2013.
It is true the coal industry is a major employer in the region around West Virginia, North Carolina, and Virginia, but they are also a highly profitable industry and they have a responsibility to protect the people and their families in their employ. The only good to come out of these most recent spills is that the U.S. Attorney is launching criminal investigations into both the West Virginia chemical leak and the North Carolina coal ash dump. With state regulators cozied up to the coal industry, and repugicans eliminating the Environment Protection Agency’s inspection and enforcement power at an alarming rate, it is obvious it falls to the Justice Department to step in and hold what is arguably a criminal conspiracy to account for decimating the region’s clean water supply. What is most curious is there is not an outcry from residents demanding their state leaders to do their jobs, but when they are dependent on campaign contributions to stay in power, there is little chance regulators will be allowed to do their jobs. Sadly, the people’s silence coupled with officials beholden to the dirty coal industry mean that these so-called “accidents” will continue unabated and unpunished.

Ted Cruz explains what repugican politicians hate the most ...

... 'When they're forced to tell the truth'
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took a victory lap yesterday celebrating his successful maneuver on Wednesday to force Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to vote for advancing legislation to raise the debt limit:
    "In the 13 months I've been in the Senate it has become apparent to me the single thing that republican politicians hate and fear the most, and that is when they're forced to tell the truth. It makes their heads explode," Cruz told radio host Mark Levin Thursday. [...] "A lot of the Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama wanted, exactly what Nancy Pelosi wanted, exactly what Harry Reid wanted, which is to raise the debt ceiling, but they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish, gullible constituents back home they didn't do it."
So according to Cruz:
    repugican politicians are a bunch of liars
    Most repugicans were bluffing all along on the debt limit
    repugicans think the repugican cabal base consists of a bunch of gullible fools
I've gotta' say, pretty hard to argue with any of that. But I will add one thing: To the extent that #3 is a true reflection of their beliefs, that's one thing most Republican politicians are right about.

Do Nothing repugicans Announce They Will Not Be Passing Any Legislation This Year

House repugicans have taken doing nothing to a whole new level by announcing that they won’t be passing any notable legislation this year.
The Washington Post reported:
After a tumultuous week of party infighting and leadership stumbles, congressional repugicans are focused on calming their divided ranks in the months ahead, mostly by touting proposals that have wide backing within the repugican cabal and shelving any big-ticket legislation for the rest of the year.
Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law — bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress.
It is not surprising that repugicans are not going to do anything this year. What is surprising is that the House repugicans have given up the pretense of doing anything. There aren’t going to be anymore show votes that are labeled jobs bills, or immigration reform. Boehner and the House leadership have simply given up.
They aren’t even trying to fool the American people into believing that House Republicans are doing something for them. The ruse is over. The repugicans aren’t going to do anything, but run back to their districts in a desperate bid to save their seats. At least Boehner can stop going in front of the cameras, and trying to sell his absurd excuses for doing nothing as benefitting the American people.
2014 is going to be another lost year in American politics. The repugicans are calling President Obama a dictator and making claims of constitutional violations, but it is clear that the president heads up the only branch of government that is trying to move the country forward by doing something.
The repugicans have given the voters no reason to reelect them this year. They have no agenda. They have done nothing but obstruct progress, and now Boehner and company have the nerve to announce that they aren’t going to go to work, but they still are expecting your votes in November.
The House will remain dysfunctional until the members who see doing nothing as their job are replaced. If We The People want a government that works, we need to elect candidates who are willing to do the job.

Darrell Issa Desperately Tries to Unite the repugican cabal Against Obama’s ‘Imperial Presidency’

Darrell Issa claimed he wanted to "shape" the debate, and in doing so, urged repugicans to unify against President Obama's "imperial presidency" …
darrell issa
The repugicans are a real mess right now, as the country witnessed with the painful debt ceiling vote. It hurt in the House where Boehner had to once again rely upon Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to get anything done, and it even hurt in the Senate, thanks to Ted Cruz forcing a vote repugican senators didn’t need to take.
But they’ve discovered a way to get back on track. I’ll give you two guesses, and if your first guess is “get something done for their record”, you lose. Now, reach for the biggest fail you can imagine – a fail that they have already tried and lost at. Reach for the one thing that could turn the House Democratic sooner than thought possible…
That’s right. They’re going Newt Gingrich 1990′s VS Bill Clinton on President Obama.
This crusade of desperation was championed by Darrell Issa Monday night during a New Hampshire speech, where he claimed he wanted to “shape” the debate. Steve Peoples writing for the AP via The Huffington Post reported:
His cabal divided, Rep. Darrell Issa, the chief repugican attack dog, is calling on the repugican cabal to abandon government-backed solutions and instead unite against President Barack Obama’s “imperial presidency.”
This strategy is going to be their 2016 strategy as well, apparently, as Issa made wild accusations against former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton, which he had to amend later:
He said she played a central role in the immediate aftermath of the attack: “Hillary Clinton knew what was going on and conveyed that to the president.” He later clarified, “The accountability for the action and inaction belongs to the two top informed individuals who were awake: (Defense Secretary) Leon Panetta and Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
So, Darrell Issa, who held on the truth about Benghazi for a year in order to attack President Obama over a tragic matter that might have been avoided if only House repugicans had not denied the Obama administration the funding for embassy security that they requested, has the unmitigated gall to label this Presidency an “imperial presidency” with absolutely no facts to support his argument.
As Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said so explosively in November of 2012 during a House Foreign Affairs hearing, while responding to repugican accusations that Obama’s Benghazi was “worse than Watergate”:
(The repugicans have) “the audacity to come here” when the administration requested, for worldwide security, “$440 million more than you guys wanted to provide. And the answer is that you damn didn’t provide it! You REDUCED what the administration asked for to protect these people. Ask not who the guilty party is, it’s you! It is us. It is this committee, and the things that we insist that we need have to cost money.”
Darrell Issa is not letting facts get in the way of his politically motivated witch hunts (his bed time story for conservatives about the IRS targeting them was completely debunked as well). Instead, he’s turning up the volume on crazy, Newt Gingrich style. Don’t ask repugicans what they stand for, or ask why they have announced that they will be doubling down on doing NOTHING this year. Don’t ask why they won’t pass simple things that used be bipartisan, like extending long term unemployment. Nope.
Get distracted by the Big Lies, the gossip, the histrionic drama, and the hypocritical self-righteousness that has come to define the party of No. Seriously, following Newt Gingrich’s example? Really? So much for expanding that tent.
As repugicans rally around hating Obama in lieu of any real policy agenda, they make it clear that they have nothing. They are running on fumes of 2008 hatred and fear-mongering. The only question remaining is how long will it take until they dust off their only semi-live wire, Sarah Palin. Even Darrell Issa can’t do pure, unadulterated, stupid hate like Sarah Palin.

Newt Gingrich Misspells John Kerry’s Name 4 Times While Demanding He Resign

newt gingrich
On Monday evening, disgraced former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich took to Twitter to call on the resignation of Secretary of State John Kerry. As Catherine Thompson at Talking Points Memo highlighted earlier on Tuesday, Gingrich was upset that Kerry had made a speech in Jakarta stating that climate change is ”the greatest challenge of our generation.” There was one glaring issue with Gingrich’s Twitter rant. He misspelled Kerry’s name 4 separate times.
Newt Gingrich         @newtgingrich 
The most direct reaction to kerrey's global warming speech is to ask if he is completely out of touch with reality.
Newt Gingrich         @newtgingrich 
If kerrey believes his global warming speech it is a terrifying prospect for American policy. He is making policy in a fantasy world
Newt Gingrich         @newtgingrich 
Does kerrey really believe global warming more dangerous than north Korean and iranian nukes? More than Russian and Chinese nukes? Really? ?
Newt Gingrich         @newtgingrich 
Every American who cares about national security must.demand Kerrey's resignation.A delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety
Someone must have tipped Ol’ Newt off about his multiple faux pas, as he tweeted this shortly after.
Newt Gingrich         @newtgingrich 
I apologize to bob kerrey for spelling john kerry's name as though he were bob's relative. Callista caught my error. Please edit to kerry
You know, if you are going to get all righteous and call for someone’s resignation, you should at least get the man’s name right! And it isn’t like John Kerry is an under-the-radar type of guy. He ran for President in 2004. He was a long-serving US Senator that stepped down from that position to become Secretary of State. You would think someone like Newt would know how his name is spelled.
Stepping aside from the complete embarrassment that Newt should feel from getting John Kerry’s name wrong 4 times in a row, Gingrich also made a fool out of himself by completely overstating and misconstruing Kerry’s statements. It is an absolute fact that Kerry called climate change the greatest challenge we face. He also stated,”We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact.”
At the same time, he did not discount things like global terrorism, nuclear proliferation, epidemics or crippling poverty. He said that climate change should be looked at in the same level as those issues. The fact that it is being presented as a debate by corporations and political figures, while the science is clear, makes it harder to get solutions in place. It is extremely necessary for people like Kerry and our President to push fiercely on this issue, rather than be concerned with what conservatives, who always find themselves on the wrong side of history, are going to say.
Gingrich is just going to the same dried-up well that he always goes to. He has no fresh ideas. He is now just another talking head on another talk show (CNN’s Crossfire) trying desperately to have some say in current repugican cabal direction. He thinks that if he can beat the drums of impeachment or forced resignation like he did during the Clinton years, he might be able to get someone to listen and heed his advice. However, even if some idiotic repugican on Capitol Hill does (hello, Darrell Issa), it isn’t going anywhere. Because there is NO REASON for Kerry to have to step down, let alone apologize.
In the end, this is just Newt being Newt. The only thing he knows how to do is run his mouth in the hopes of bringing attention to himself.

New CBO Report Destroys The repugican Argument Against Raising The Minimum Wage

John Boehner, Mitch McConnell
The CBO released a study today that obliterated the repugican argument against raising the minimum wage. Republicans retaliated by trying to distort the report, but they can’t explain away the bad news for the repugican cabal.
The repugicans have pounced on the CBO estimate that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cost 500,000 jobs, but this is what the CBO actually wrote in their report, “Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent, CBO projects. As with any such estimates, however, the actual losses could be smaller or larger; in CBO’s assessment, there is about a two-thirds chance that the effect would be in the range between a very slight reduction in employment and a reduction in employment of 1.0 million workers.”
The CBO’s conclusion on employment is that their could be a negative effect, or a zero effect. The CBO report is not a definitive statement that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. In fact, the research on unemployment as summarized by seven Nobel Prize winners and 600 economists found that moving to $10.10 an hour will have little or no impact on employment.
The CBO also found that increasing the minimum wage will help the middle class and working poor:
Many more low-wage workers would see an increase in their earnings. Of those workers who will earn up to $10.10 under current law, most—about 16.5 million, according to CBO’s estimates—would have higher earnings during an average week in the second half of 2016 if the $10.10 option was implemented. Some of the people earning slightly more than $10.10 would also have higher earnings under that option, for reasons discussed below. Further, a few higher-wage workers would owe their jobs and increased earnings to the heightened demand for goods and services that would result from the minimum-wage increase.
The increased earnings for low-wage workers resulting from the higher minimum wage would total $31 billion, by CBO’s estimate. However, those earnings would not go only to low-income families because many low-wage workers are not members of low-income families. Just 19 percent of the $31 billion would accrue to families with earnings below the poverty threshold, whereas 29 percent would accrue to families earning more than three times the poverty threshold, CBO estimates.
The repugicans have argued that most minimum wage workers are teenagers, but the CBO found that only 12% of those earning the minimum wage are teens. The repugicans argue that increasing the minimum won’t lift people out of poverty, but the CBO concluded that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would lift 900,000 people out of poverty.
Conservatives and their media have attached themselves to that 500K job loss number, but what they are trying to do is cover up the fact that the CBO report devastates their argument against raising the minimum wage.
An increase in the minimum wage would lift nearly a million people out of poverty and benefit the middle class. The increase would also boost consumer demand, and reduce the deficit. Republicans have their minimum wage job killing talking point, but an examination of the full CBO report reveals some very bad news for repugicans.
The minimum wage issue just took on a new dimension for Democrats. Raising the minimum wage is about helping the middle class, and if repugicans want to risk their seats by arguing against a policy that will benefit the middle class they are welcome to take on that challenge this November.
The repugicans will be running themselves right out of office if they continue to insist on opposing an increase in the minimum wage.

The Cost of Voting repugican

The Economy Lost $3 Billion Due to repugican cabal Blocking UI Entension 
The cost of voting repugican continues to grow as House Ways and Means Democrats determined that repugicans have cost the economy $3 billion in less than two months…
According to Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, repugicans have cost the economy $3 billion in less than two months by blocking an extension of unemployment benefits.
A new analysis found that the repugican refusal to extend unemployment benefits is having an impact on the economy that runs into the billions of dollars. 72,000 American workers are losing their unemployment benefits each week, while both House and Senate Republicans continue to block any extension of benefits for the long term unemployed.
Way and Means ranking Democrat, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) said, “The loss of long-term unemployment benefits is weighing down our economy at a critical point in the economic recovery, threatening to inflict long-term damage. Long-term unemployment remains an enormous challenge for millions of Americans and our overall economy, which is exactly why repugicans should join with Democrats to renew this important program.”
On the topic of unemployment benefits, there are two arguments. The moral argument is that, as a society, we have a responsibility to help American workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The repugican argument against extending unemployment benefits is that unemployment is a moral failing that the individual is responsible for. They believe that the government should have no role in helping those who have lost their jobs. The repugicans have labeled the unemployed lazy, and unwilling to work.
A variation of this argument has been advanced by Paul Ryan (r-WI) and Rand Paul (r-KY). Both men have made the argument that unemployment benefits discourage work. They believe that it is better for the unemployed to face poverty instead of getting help from the government. The repugicans have struck out with argument. Polling has consistently shown that roughly 70% of Americans favor extending unemployment benefits.
Having lost the moral argument. The repugicans like Mitch McConnell and Rob Portman have shifted their argument against extension a UI extension to the economic realm. The repugicans have been claiming that unemployment benefits are too expensive, so if they are going to be extended, they must be paid for. The reality is that it will cost the economy more, roughly $30-$40 billion to not extend unemployment benefits than the cost of the extension ($25 billion).
These economic losses aren’t isolated. They are building one on top of the other around the country, and causing long term damage to the economic health of the country.
It is difficult to put a numerical value on the amount of damage that has been done by those who decided to hand repugicans the majority in the House, and take away the Democrats’ 60th vote in the Senate, but the House Ways and Means Democrats have provided a basic starting point.
Voting for any political party that doesn’t have the economic interests of the majority at heart will result in catastrophic economic damage for many. The cost of empowering repugicans is financial devastation for 72,000 workers a week, and billions lost to the U.S. economy.
Your vote not only matters, but it can be the difference between survival and struggle.

Former Reagan Adviser Art Laffer Laughably States That Stimulus Caused The Recession

In what had to be one of the dumbest segments in television history, Laffer tried to make the case that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act caused the Great Recession…
On Tuesday’s episode of Varney and Co. on Faux Business, host Stuart Varney had on Art Laffer, former economic adviser under Ronald Reagan. In what had to be one of the dumbest segments in television history, Laffer tried to make the case that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus, actually CAUSED the Great Recesssion. Let me repeat that. Laffer said that the stimulus, which was passed in early 2009, caused the recession, which had its beginnings in 2007.
Laffer didn’t even attempt to give an actual explanation. He just thought he could talk about how the stimulus gave out government money, so therefore, it caused a recession because government money has to come from somewhere. It is a laughably bad argument to make. He didn’t discuss anything about economic growth since the stimulus passed. It almost seemed like he didn’t even know the definition of a recession when it comes to a country’s economy.
I am not an economic expert, as Varney and Laffer supposedly are. However, I do know that there are certain undeniable facts that can be easily pointed to. One, a recession is generally considered to take place when an economy has suffered two straight quarters of negative growth. The economy suffered a negative GDP in the 1st quarter of 2008, after showing a slowdown of growth in 2007. After having a positive 2nd quarter in 2008, growth completely fell off the table the rest of the year, bringing in the real start of the Great Recession.
That would completely precede the stimulus, which was passed in February 2009, weeks into President Obama’s first term. The 1st quarter of 2009 was negative (when the stimulus was passed), but the 2nd quarter, after the full effects of the stimulus started taking effect, showed a full reversal of the shrinking of the economy. The 3rd quarter actually showed GDP growth for the first time in well over a year and the 4th quarter of 2009 was the highest for economic growth in nearly 4 years. Since the passing of the stimulus, the economy has only suffered one negative quarter and has generally shown sustained growth.
I understand that strict, free-market capitalists like Varney and Laffer hate the thought of government spending to help grow an economy. To them, everything must come from the private sector. Government regulation and spending is pure evil. However, you can’t just go on TV and spread complete garbage like what Laffer did on Tuesday. There is no possible way that an event that occurred in 2009 (stimulus) was the cause of another event that was in full force in 2008 and saw its beginnings in 2007 (recession.) It isn’t humanly possible. If you say something like that, you are either incredibly stupid or a liar.

Hungry man defeats TSA's war on peanut butter by spreading it on crackers

An airline passenger with a medical condition requiring small amounts of food at regular intervals was stymied when the LHA TSA declared his peanut butter to be a "liquid." But he cleverly spread the peanut butter onto some saltines, whereupon it was no longer a liquid and was allowed on the flight. USA USA USA.

Human misery for profit

Rise of Private Prisons in the United States  
by Rebecca Gray
While the number of people wanting to go prison has most certainly not increased in recent years, the numbers for people who want to build prisons has. According to Global Research, "Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports." Something happened in the last decade to spark such a rise in private prisons, but what was it?
Simply put, there is money to be made in the private prison industry. Just as Starbucks and Wal-Mart build stores to sell their products and drive revenue, private prisons operate the same way. Since the private prison industry in the U.S. began in the 1980s, companies like Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut have built prisons and run them as publically traded companies. Like any other profit-seeking business, the more "customers" these prisons get, the more money they make.
Global Research points out that "private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one." Because U.S. prisons are continually overcrowded-there were 1,571,013 prisoners in the U.S. in 2012, a whopping 25% of the world's inmates-the population in private prisons has only increased. In other words, when justice gets outsourced, companies like CCA and their stock holders benefit. Prisoners, on the other hand, probably don't benefit regardless of where they do time, but comfort is not the point of a prison sentence.

The key word for private prisons is "business." In their own words, CCA stated "our primary business strategy is to provide quality corrections services, offer a compelling value, and increase occupancy and revenue."As such, they design prisons to run as efficiently as possible by holding as many prisoners as they can, but with the fewest numbers of guards on the payroll as possible. Just as Starbucks wants to sell more cups of coffee, CCA wants to sell more orange jumpsuits, jail cells, and fewer personal liberties. Boasting an increase of 500% in their profits over the last 2 decades, CCA has clearly found a business model that works.

Capital One may visit customers at home, work

New odd and unsettling changes to Capital One's credit card terms of service include things described as a "personal visit." The L.A. Times shares the story: "As if that weren't creepy enough, Cap One says these visits can be 'at your home and at your place of employment.'"

Police detective charged with assault for kicking, flicking and farting in face of dispatcher

A detective in Texas has been arrested after a co-worker said the officer kicked him in the back, according to an affidavit. Lawrence Michael Jonap, 45, was charged with assault by causing bodily injury, a class A misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to a year in jail.
Jonap’s co-worker, a communications operator, said he was making coffee at the Lago Vista Police Department and talking to an officer on Dec. 10 when he was kicked in the back, causing his body to “lunge forward,” according to the affidavit. When he turned around, he saw Jonap standing behind him and laughing, the affidavit says.
The next day, the document says, Jonap hit the communications operator on the head with a notebook, flicked his ear and then farted in his face. A reserve officer told a Travis County sheriff’s deputy that she saw Jonap “tap ” the other operator with a folder and then later shake his chair, saying, “How’s your back?” before grabbing his hat and throwing it on a desk.

The reserve officer also told the deputy she saw Jonap “pass gas” in front of the other operator’s face. Jonap admitted to the deputy that he had physical contact with the operator, according to the affidavit, but he said he just “nudged” him with his foot. According to court documents, Jonap has worked for the Lago Vista Police Department for 14 years.

Women in Saudi Arabia banned from visiting hospitals without a male guardian

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) has officially prevented women from visiting medical clinics without male guardians.

This came after a member of the Council of Senior Scholars issued a “fatwa” (edict) prohibiting women from visiting male doctors without having male guardians present.
“Islamic law does not permit women to visit their doctors without male guardians,” said Qais Al-Mubarak, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars. “Women are prohibited from exposing body parts to male doctors in Islamic law, especially during childbirth. This does not include medical emergencies. Islamic jurisprudence makes exceptions,” he added.

Male guardians can only be the next of kin in Islam. They are sons, grandsons, husbands, brothers, fathers or uncles. Al-Mubarak said male doctors could conduct medical examinations on female patients only if female physicians are unavailable and only if male guardians accompany them. “Unaccompanied visits to male doctors can have negative implications,” he said.



Colorado pot aids kids with seizures

The doctors were out of ideas to help 5-year-old Charlotte Figi.Suffering from a rare genetic disorder, she had as many as 300 grand mal seizures a week, used a wheelchair, went into repeated cardiac arrest and could barely speak. As a last resort, her mother began calling medical marijuana shops.
Two years later, Charlotte is largely seizure-free and able to walk, talk and feed herself after taking oil infused with a special pot strain. Her recovery has inspired both a name for the strain of marijuana she takes that is bred not to make users high — Charlotte's Web — and an influx of families with seizure-stricken children to Colorado from states that ban the drug.
"She can walk, talk; she ate chili in the car," her mother, Paige Figi, said as her dark-haired daughter strolled through a cavernous greenhouse full of marijuana plants that will later be broken down into their anti-seizure components and mixed with olive oil so patients can consume them. "So I'll fight for whoever wants this."
Doctors warn there is no proof that Charlotte's Web is effective, or even safe.
In the frenzy to find the drug, there have been reports of non-authorized suppliers offering bogus strains of Charlotte's Web. In one case, a doctor said, parents were told they could replicate the strain by cooking marijuana in butter. Their child went into heavy seizures.
"We don't have any peer-reviewed, published literature to support it," Dr. Larry Wolk, the state health department's chief medical officer, said of Charlotte's Web.
Still, more than 100 families have relocated since Charlotte's story first began spreading last summer, according to Figi and her husband and the five brothers who grow the drug and sell it at cost through a nonprofit. The relocated families have formed a close-knit group in Colorado Springs, the law-and-order town where the dispensary selling the drug is located. They meet for lunch, support sessions and hikes.
"It's the most hope lots of us have ever had," said Holli Brown, whose 9-year-old daughter, Sydni, began speaking in sentences and laughing since moving to Colorado from Kansas City and taking the marijuana strain.
Amy Brooks-Kayal, vice president of the American Epilepsy Society, warned that a few miraculous stories may not mean anything — epileptic seizures come and go for no apparent reason — and scientists do not know what sort of damage Charlotte's Web could be doing to young brains.
"Until we have that information, as physicians, we can't follow our first creed, which is do no harm," she said, suggesting that parents relocate so their children can get treated at one of the nation's 28 top-tier pediatric epilepsy centers rather than move to Colorado.
However, the society urges more study of pot's possibilities. The families using Charlotte's Web, as well as the brothers who grow it, say they want the drug rigorously tested, and their efforts to ensure its purity have won them praise from skeptics like Wolk.
For many, Charlotte's story was something they couldn't ignore.
Charlotte is a twin, but her sister, Chase, doesn't have Dravet's syndrome, which kills kids before they reach adulthood.
In early 2012, it seemed Charlotte would be added to that grim roster. Her vital signs flat-lined three times, leading her parents to begin preparing for her death. They even signed an order for doctors not to take heroic measures to save her life again should she go into cardiac arrest.
Her father, Matt, a former Green Beret who took a job as a contractor working in Afghanistan, started looking online for ways to help his daughter and thought they should give pot a try. But there was a danger: Marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC, can trigger seizures.
The drug also contains another chemical known as CBD that may have seizure-fighting properties. In October, the Food and Drug Administration approved testing a British pharmaceutical firm's marijuana-derived drug that is CBD-based and has all its THC removed.
Few dispensaries stock CBD-heavy weed that doesn't get you high. Then Paige Figi found Joel Stanley.
One of 11 siblings raised by a single mother and their grandmother in Oklahoma, Stanley and four of his brothers had found themselves in the medical marijuana business after moving to Colorado. Almost as an experiment, they bred a low-THC, high-CBD plant after hearing it could fight tumors.
Stanley went to the Figis' house with reservations about giving pot to a child.
"But she had done her homework," Stanley said of Paige Figi. "She wasn't a pot activist or a hippy, just a conservative mom."
Now, Stanley and his brothers provide the marijuana to nearly 300 patients and have a waitlist of 2,000.
The CBD is extracted by a chemist who once worked for drug giant Pfizer, mixed with olive oil so it can be ingested through the mouth or the feeding tube that many sufferers from childhood epilepsy use, then sent to a third-party lab to test its purity.
Charlotte takes the medication twice a day. "A year ago, she could only say one word," her father said. "Now she says complete sentences."
The recovery of Charlotte and other kids has inspired the Figis and others to travel the country, pushing for medical marijuana laws or statutes that would allow high-CBD, low-THC pot strains.
Donald Burger recently urged a New York state legislative panel to legalize medical marijuana while his wife, Aileen, was in the family's new rental house in Colorado Springs, giving Charlotte's Web to their daughter Elizabeth, 4. The family only relocated to Colorado after neurologists told them Elizabeth's best hope — brain surgery — could only stop some of her seizures.
"It's a very big strain being away from the rest of our family," Aileen Burger said recently while waiting for her husband to return from a trip to sell their Long Island house. "But she doesn't have to have pieces of her brain removed."
Ray Mirazabegian, an optician in Glendale, Calif., brought Charlotte's Web to his state, where medical marijuana is legal. He convinced the Stanley brothers to give him some seeds he could use to treat his 9-year-old daughter Emily, who spent her days slumped on the couch. Now, she's running, jumping and talking. Mirazabegian is cloning the Charlotte's Web seeds and has opened the California branch of the Stanleys' foundation.
Mirazabegian has begun to distribute the strain to 25 families and has a waitlist of 400. It includes, he said, families willing to move from Japan and the Philippines.

Loneliness Is More Dangerous Than We Thought

by Beth Greenfield 
Feeling like you might die of loneliness is one thing. But could it actually happen? Apparently, as researchers have found that leading an extremely lonely existence could increase an older person's chance of premature death by 14 percent — providing good reason for everyone to make sure to maintain connections with others as they age.
“We looked at perceived loneliness versus objective isolation, and how it leads the brain’s biology to change over time,” John Cacioppo, University of Chicago psychology professor and the study's lead researcher, tells Yahoo Shine. “There are toxic effects.” Even after taking into account lifestyle behaviors, like diet and exercise, he adds, the impact of simply feeling isolated — disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, surges in the stress hormone cortisol, compromised immunity, and increased depression overall — is profound. “When you are isolated from companionship, then the brain goes into self-preservation mode,” Cacioppo notes.
For his findings — shared Feb. 16 at a scholarly seminar on aging at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago — Cacioppo, one of the nation’s leading experts on loneliness, examined data from a 2010 meta-analysis.
For seniors, loneliness can be particularly threatening. “This study makes sense to me,” Paul Kirwin, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University and past president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, tells Yahoo Shine. “There are so many losses that happen in this stage of life — of partners, friends, the loss of one’s role or sense of purpose — and it has a huge impact on people psychologically.”
Previous studies on loneliness have found that it can have myriad impacts on people’s health. In 2012, for example, University of San Francisco geriatrician Carla Perissinotto found that 24.8 percent of seniors who felt lonely reported declines in their ability to perform daily-life activities — bathing, dressing, eating, or getting up from a chair on their own; among those not feeling lonely, only 12.5 percent reported such declines.
“Lonely older adults also were 45 percent more likely to die [earlier] than seniors who felt meaningfully connected with others, even after results were adjusted for factors like depression, socioeconomic status and existing health conditions,” the New York Times noted about Perssinotto’s study. But that research, Cacioppo suggests, did not strip out the added effects of lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, etc.) as his new study did.
He stresses that loneliness is an equal-opportunity emotion and can strike people whether or not they are in a relationship. “You can feel connected when not with someone, so loneliness is not a solitary experience,” he says. He also suggests staving off feelings of isolation before they start, especially for older adults.
“Retiring to Florida to live in a warmer climate among strangers isn’t necessarily a good idea if it means you are disconnected from the people who mean the most to you,” Cacioppo noted in a press release about the findings. “We are experiencing a silver tsunami demographically. The baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Each day between 2011 and 2030, an average of 10,000 people will turn 65,” he added. “People have to think about how to protect themselves from depression, low subjective well-being and early mortality.”
Psychologist Guy Winch, based in New York, dedicates a chapter of his book “Emotional First Aid” to loneliness. To fight it, he tells Yahoo Shine, “realize that there are more opportunities to connect than you might realize.” This, he notes, requires a “leap of faith,” and should be viewed as a process of connecting gradually. Therapy, he adds, can help lonely people to identify what he calls “self-defeating patterns” that might be getting in the way of making meaningful connections.
“Loneliness is defined as a subjective experience, and as social or emotional isolation or both,” he notes. “And what it does, psychologically speaking, is to make us feel so emotionally raw and averse to rejection that it changes how people respond socially — often pushing away the people who can alleviate their loneliness.”

The most dangerous places in the world to drive

A study (pdf) from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Initiative tracks global driving fatalities. Drive in Britain, Japan and Sweden. Do not drive in Venezuela, Mongolia or Yemen.

In 1951, Children Could Buy A DIY Nuclear Reactor Kit

You don't see toys like this around anymore. Who wants the kid next door to create his own Manhattan project in the backyard? The Atomic Energy Lab set was available from 1951 to 1952 and sold for a whopping $50.

The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source, a pure beta source, a gamma source, a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber, an electroscope, a geiger counter, and a manual.

Ancient Rural Town Uncovered in Israel

The 2,300-year-old rural village was found on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Polar Vortex

See the polar vortex in action as it sank the States into a big freeze in January.

Daily Comic Relief


Roving packs of Chihuahuas are running rampant in Arizona

Chihuahuas are on the loose in an Arizona neighborhood and flooding animal control offices with reports of the roaming strays.
Animal control officials say they've had thousands of calls about the tiny terrors running wild, sometimes in packs of 15.
Officials said foreclosures and undocumented workers being forced away led to a large number of small dogs running wild.

”Part of it is these animals aren’t spayed or neutered, so they’re out looking for a mate and are having babies, which also contributes to the problem,” said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. Chihuahuas are one of the most common breeds found in animal shelters, according to animal control.

Cats Have Psychedelic Eyes

Psychedelic stripes, colors and patterns on flowers, birds and bugs are just some of the things that cats can see that humans cannot.

How Calico Cats Could Help Cure Obesity

Funky-furred calico cats are pointing the way to a cure for human obesity that doesn't involve dieting

Chicago Wants to Keep Jumpy Carp From Great Lake

Chicago is considering blocking the city’s canal system to keep an invasive species out of Lake Michigan.

Animal Pictures