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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Daily Drift

Please, please, please can we send the wingnuts ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 195 countries around the world daily.
Quiet, Please ... !
Today is -  International Sword Swallower Day

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Today in History

1349 Jews are expelled from Zurich, Switzerland.
1613 Mikhail Romanov is elected czar of Russia.
1732 George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
1797 The last invasion of Britain takes place when some 1,400 Frenchmen land at Fishguard in Wales.
1819 Spain signs a treaty with the United States ceding eastern Florida.
1825 Russia and Britain establish the Alaska/Canada boundary.
1862 Jefferson Davis is inaugurated president of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. for the second time.
1864 Nathan Bedford Forrest's brother, Jeffrey, is killed at Okolona, Mississippi.
1865 Federal troops capture Wilmington, N.C.
1879 Frank Winfield Woolworth's 'nothing over five cents' shop opens at Utica, New York. It is the first chain store.
1902 A fistfight breaks out in the Senate. Senator Benjamin Tillman suffers a bloody nose for accusing Senator John McLaurin of bias on the Philippine tariff issue.
1909 The Great White Fleet returns to Norfolk, Virginia, from an around-the-world show of naval power.
1911 Canadian Parliament votes to preserve the union with the British Empire.
1920 The American Relief Administration appeals to the public to pressure Congress to aid starving European cities.
1924 Columbia University declares radio education a success.
1926 Pope Pius rejects Mussolini's offer of aid to the Vatican.
1932 Adolf Hitler is the Nazi Party candidate for the presidential elections in Germany.
1935 All plane flights over the White House are barred because they are disturbing President Roosevelt's sleep.
1942 President Franklin Roosevelt orders Gen. Douglas MacArthur to leave the Philippines.
1951 The Atomic Energy Commission discloses information about the first atom-powered airplane.
1952 French forces evacuate Hoa Binh in Indochina.
1954 U.S. is to install 60 Thor nuclear missiles in Britain.
1962 A Soviet bid for new Geneva arms talks is turned down by the U.S.
1963 Moscow warns the U.S. that an attack on Cuba would mean war.
1967 Operation Junction City becomes the largest U.S. operation in Vietnam.
1984 Britain and the U.S. send warships to the Persian Gulf following an Iranian offensive against Iraq.

Non Sequitur


According to Norse Mythology, The World Will End on Saturday

Hey, wait a minute that's TODAY!
So why not enjoy yourself? Tell your boss to shove it and take an early weekend. Eat, drink and be merry, because the end is nigh. At least, that's what some modern adherents of the Norse religion claim. They say that Ragnarök--the twilight of the gods--will come this Saturday:
Ragnarok is the final predicted battle where the wolf Fenrir will break out of his prison, the snake Jormungand will rise out of the sea, ice giants and the dragon of the underworld will come out and the dead heroes of Valhalla will descend from heaven to fight them. So, if you’re planning a picnic that day, you might want to think twice.
Modern day Viking warriors (believers of this Norse prophecy who dress up and swing wooden swords) have already begun preparing for Ragnarok by converging on the historic UK town of York to celebrate the JORVIK festival.
So bring a sweater--just in case, you know. But don't worry too much about the future. One believer says that Ragnarök means good things for humanity:
"The end of the world is really an end of the world for the gods, and the world will be reborn for the human population," says Daglan.
Yeah, but there probably won't be any more Thor movies. So why should humanity even bother?

Weekend happiness, unemployment blues

Weekends are the best days of the week, not only […]

Colorado pot market exceeds tax hopes

Governor: Colorado's legal marijuana market far exceeding tax expectations

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2014, file photo, pot store employee Sam Walsh informs a first time customer about different strains of marijuana, a white board listing prices and sales tax, inside the retail shop at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on Feb. 19, 2014 a plan to start spending nearly $100 million in marijuana tax money, the first signal of how much Colorado is reaping from recreational pot sales and what it plans to spend the money on. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) 
Colorado's legal marijuana market is far exceeding tax expectations, according to a budget proposal released Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper that gives the first official estimate of how much the state expects to make from pot taxes.
The proposal outlines plans to spend some $99 million next fiscal year on substance abuse prevention, youth marijuana use prevention and other priorities. The money would come from a statewide 12.9 percent sales tax on recreational pot. Colorado's total pot sales next fiscal year were estimated to be about $610 million.
Retail sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado. Sales have been strong, though exact figures for January sales won't be made public until early next month.
The governor predicted sales and excise taxes next fiscal year would produce some $98 million, well above a $70 million annual estimate given to voters when they approved the pot taxes last year. The governor also includes taxes from medical pot, which are subject only to the statewide 2.9 percent sales tax.
Washington state budget forecasters released a projection Wednesday for that state, where retail sales don't begin for a few months.
Economic forecasters in Olympia predicted that the state's new legal recreational marijuana market will bring nearly $190 million to state coffers over four years starting in mid-2015. Washington state sets budgets biennially.
In Colorado, Hickenlooper's proposal listed six priorities for spending the pot sales taxes.
The spending plan included $45.5 million for youth use prevention, $40.4 million for substance abuse treatment and $12.4 million for public health.
"We view our top priority as creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalization are avoided completely," Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to legislative budget writers, which must approve the plan.
The governor also proposed a $5.8 million, three-year "statewide media campaign on marijuana use," presumably highlighting the drug's health risks. The state Department of Transportation would get $1.9 million for a new "Drive High, Get a DUI" campaign to tout the state's new marijuana blood-limit standard for drivers.
Also, Hickenlooper has proposed spending $7 million for an additional 105 beds in residential treatment centers for substance abuse disorders.
"This package represents a strong yet cautious first step" for regulating pot, the governor wrote. He told lawmakers he'd be back with a more complete spending prediction later this year.
The Colorado pot tax plan doesn't include an additional 15 percent pot excise tax, of which $40 million a year already is designated for school construction. The governor projected the full $40 million to be reached next year.
The initial tax projections are rosier than those given to voters in 2012, when state fiscal projections on the marijuana-legalization amendment would produce $39.5 million in sales taxes next fiscal year, which begins in July.
The rosier projections come from updated data about how many retail stores Colorado has (163 as of Feb. 18) and how much customers are paying for pot. There's no standardized sales price, but recreational pot generally is going for much more than the $202 an ounce forecasters guessed last year.
Mason Tvert, a legalization activist who ran Colorado's 2012 campaign, said other states are watching closely to see what legal weed can produce in tax revenue.
"Voters and state lawmakers around the country are watching how this system unfolds in Colorado, and the prospect of generating significant revenue while eliminating the underground marijuana market is increasingly appealing," said Tvert, who now works for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Meanwhile, The Denver Post reported Wednesday that banks holding commercial loans on properties that lease to Colorado marijuana businesses say they don't plan to refinance those loans when they come due. Bankers say property used as collateral for those loans theoretically is subject to federal drug-seizure laws, which makes the loans a risk.
Colorado's two largest banks, Wells Fargo Bank and FirstBank, say they won't offer new loans to landowners with preexisting leases with pot businesses. And Wells Fargo and Vectra Bank have told commercial loan clients they either have to evict marijuana businesses or seek refinancing elsewhere.
"Our policy of not banking marijuana-related businesses and not lending on commercial properties leased by marijuana-related businesses is based on applicable federal laws," Wells Fargo spokeswoman Cristie Drumm told the Post.

Did you know ...

That the house of reps lacks the political will, not the votes

That Wal-Mart's labor practices backfires on them

That it's not pro-life, it's pro-birth

That a judge orders fast-food workers fired for striking must get their jobs back

The truth hurts

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrony (r) was on "Face The Nation". He said, "The debate is, really, how much of climate change is man-made? Let's clean up the environment. I'm spending my time cleaning our air, cleaning our water, cleaning the ground." McCrony's junta and his longtime former employer, Duke Energy, are under investigation for a coal ash spill in the Dan River.

It Is Time For Constitution Loving Americans To Stand Up To Wingnut repugicans

Americans who value their freedoms, religious or otherwise, would do well to avoid the pitfalls of staying silent for fear of offending extremists because that silence will lead to a loss of those freedoms…
The Constitution’s framers were aware that if left to their own devices, the religiously inclined would impose their will on the young nation’s populace that inspired them to write into the founding document protections against a theocratic coup d’état. Although the religio-wingnuts were given authority to interject the bible into laws and policies at the federal and state levels when Ronald Reagan opened the government to the moral majority, it was not until the campaign and subsequent election of Barack Obama that the religious right began exercising their considerable influence on the legislative process with their Republican facilitators passing laws respecting the establishment of the christian religion. Subsequently, the judicial system is being overly burdened with challenges to the Constitution the religio-wingnut frame as “religious liberty” issues when in fact the religio-wingnuts are violating the Constitution to abridge other Americans’ liberty to reject being forced to conform to a religion. It is unclear why a preponderance of fundamentalist christians and social wingnuts are dumbfounded by the truth that America is not a christian nation, or that all Americans are not bound by the faith’s edicts, but it is not new by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there are still six states in the Union that have laws on the books forbidding atheists from holding public office regardless the “no religious test clause” of Article VI that the Supreme Court addressed in a case, Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), and ruled unanimously against requiring belief in god as a qualification for any public office.
In writing for the Court, Justice Hugo Black recalled Everson v. Board of Education (1947) and wrote that, The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs.And finally, “No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect “a wall of separation between church and State.
Justice Black’s opinion for the unanimous decision set in stone, and continued the precedent, that the Constitution’s framers intended for the nation respecting religion. Regardless several High and Circuit Court rulings, the religio-wingnuts and repugicans are violating the Constitution with every law and challenge seeking to ban contraception coverage in health plans, restrict abortion services, teach creationism, and ban same-sex marriages. It is true the several state laws and court challenges never cite the biblical foundation of religious laws or court challenges, but it cannot be argued that they are not purely religious in nature. Pro-life groups cite the personhood of zygotes, same-sex marriage opponents claim harm to opposite-sex marriages, and creationists cite academic inclusion as why their establishment of religion is legal. But they know their laws and court challenges would never get off the ground if they told the truth and cited their biblical origins or their intent to transform America into a christian-dominated nation.
Whether Americans want to acknowledge, or are even aware, that there is a concerted movement to establish a christian theocracy in America is a mystery, but for at least two decades the dominionist movement has quietly and methodically infiltrated the highest levels of government with a view towards establishing a theocracy to control every aspect of society and the lives of all Americans. Dominionism is a movement among christian evangelicals and fundamentalists that drives them to not only be active political participants in civic society, but to dominate the political process as part of a mandate from god that they derived from one bible verse in genesis. It says in chapter one verse 26; “And god said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” The majority of christians see the text as god making mankind caretakers and stewards of the Earth, but religious right fundamentalists view it is as a biblical mandate to occupy and control all institutions in America until jesus returns. Subsequently, they have convinced Americans it is a mortal sin to question the religious motivation of the preponderance of biblical laws and court challenges on religious grounds that would bring them to a screeching halt.
For some curious reason, politicians and judges at every level are mortified of challenging any law borne of the bible on grounds they are laws respecting the establishment of religion and therefore patently unconstitutional. It is true each and every one of the laws and court challenges can be argued successfully on grounds they violate provisions guaranteeing equal rights under the 14th Amendment, but the course of wisdom would dictate a quick resolution would be dismissing them as establishing the bible as the law of the land. The religio-wingnuts have no compunction claiming imposing biblical law is inherently part of their religious liberty, and repugicans are at the forefront of defending what is solely an attempt to define religious liberty christian extremists’ right to impose their religion on all Americans.
It is time for Americans who love the Constitution, freedom from religious domination, and the country the Founding Fathers established to resist the temptation to stay silent and challenge the biblical edicts for what they are; establishment of the christian religion. This country’s Congress, military, intelligence community, public school system, and state legislatures have been infiltrated by dominionists whose only goal is forcing every last person in America to adhere to their biblical edicts. Politicians know religious laws are unconstitutional, and even President Obama violated what Justice Black said was a Constitutional prohibition on “tax in any amount, large or small, to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” The faith based initiatives the President continued from the shrub junta and his support for charter schools both use taxpayer dollars to support religious activities and institutions as well as teach religion in charter schools across the country.
The election of President Obama cemented the symbiotic relationship between the religio-wingnuts and repugicans who took advantage of racists’ reaction to the first African American President that has produced a record number of purely religious laws in primarily southern repugican states. It is no coincidence that nearly every repugican in Congress joined the religious right chorus decrying the phony war on religious liberty and christianity by a self-proclaimed christian President, and although repugicans are pandering to the social wingnut voting bloc, christian fundamentalists are serious about a christian theocracy dominating every man, woman, and child in America. Americans who value their freedoms, religious or otherwise, would do well to avoid the pitfalls of staying silent for fear of offending religious extremists because that silence has produced precisely what is plaguing this nation; a dominionist movement intent on transforming America into a theocracy with no opposition because Americans are terrified of offending the very same people who are bound and determined to dominate them.

Ted Cruz Finds Fellow Constitution Haters among the religio-wingnuts

Ted Cruz whined to Janet Mefferd and David Barton about President Obama's imaginary attack on "traditional" marriage…
ted cruz 
Cuban anarchist Ted Cruz (r-TX) knows virtually nobody is going to vote for him if he runs for president in 2016. So he has done the only thing he can do: attach himself to the Religio-wingnuts. He knows no matter how crazy he sounds, they will lap it up. It is a marriage made in heaven, or the bigoted, soul-destroying hell that passes for heaven in wingnut circles: He is, as we have posted before, the dominionist messiah. We mean, where else can you be a hero for praying for bigotry? So Cruz has been dishing out the standard fare at Religio-wingnut love fests, saying that marriage equality is “heartbreaking” and that therefore asking his aberrant christian followers (better known as aberrochristians) to pray for bigotry. Because bigotry isn’t heartbreaking. Denigrating and abusing people because you don’t approve of their lifestyle is godly. It doesn’t make jesus cry at all.
Cruz told gay-hating Janet Mefferd Monday that,
They want to use brute power to force the states to take down marriage laws that have been in place for centuries, and that’s inconsistent with the Constitution. And it’s not right, and it’s heartbreaking. Because you and I both know that the best environment for children to be raised is a loving home with a mother and father.
Cruz is Cuban and came to America by way of Canada. I suggest he read the Constitution. I do not think this is too much to ask: The Constitution trumps state laws, including state constitutions. The Supremacy Clause states, “The Constitution and the laws of the United States…shall be the supreme law of the land…anything in the constitutions or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Another word he may wish to familiarize himself with is “preemption.” The principle of “preemption” comes into play when state law conflicts with federal law. I should mention the Fourteenth Amendment, as well, the Due Process Clause states:
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Cruz claimed that, “We are seeing millions of Americans who are recognizing that our constitutional liberties are being eroded.” He’s right, for once. The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees the right of Americans to vote, yet Cruz’s own cabal is working feverishly to violate that constitutional liberty. Cruz and his cronies recognize that only by restricting the right of non-white citizens to vote can repugicans win elections.
Cruz also appeared on David Barton’s WallBuilders Live to talk up his profoundly unconstitutional State Marriage Defense Act and talk down President Obama for being a defender of the Constitution.
One of the really sad trends we’ve seen in recent years has been a concerted attack on traditional marriage and that attack has manifested in the courts of law as advocacy groups have used litigation to tear down the marriage laws of states across this country. But it’s also manifested from the federal government, with the Obama administration; this administration is the most hostile to traditional marriage administration this country has ever seen.
The absurd thing is that nobody is attacking so-called “traditional” marriage, which is in any event not to be equated with so-called biblical marriage, which gathered into its godly embrace multiple wives, concubines, and sex slaves. There is not one single law coming out of this administration restricting aberrochristianity’s favorite form of marriage. Saying President Obama is hostile to traditional marriage is like saying because he drinks Coke, he is hostile to A&W Root Beer.
Maybe the Cuban anarchist wants laws against the sodas he doesn’t like. It would be a logical conclusion to draw from his irrational rant. We can call it the Defense of Coke Act (make of that what you will).
The Obama administration came into Utah and said ‘we’re not going to listen to what the US Supreme Court said. We, the federal government, are going to recognize marriages in the state of Utah and Utah state law explicitly does not recognize as marriage’ and that was really, in my view, an abuse of power, using the federal government to try to force what the ultimate objective is of these advocates and their objective is to see traditional marriage laws torn down in all fifty states.
Remember Proposition 8 and all that Mormon money? But let’s not mention Utah coming into California and trying to tell voters there what they can and cannot do.
One of the really most troubling aspects of the Obama presidency has been this president’s consistent pattern of lawlessness. That over and over again, we’ve never seen a president who, if he disagrees with a particular federal law, simply defies it, says he will not obey it and he will not enforce it … This ought to trouble everybody, not just conservatives, not just Republicans, this ought to trouble Democrats, independents, and Libertarians, anyone who believes that the constitutional limitations on government protects our liberty should be deeply dismayed because if you have a president who can pick and choose which laws to follow and which laws to ignore, then you no longer have a president and that’s dangerous.
This cry of “lawlessness” routine has become the religio-wingnut’s battle cry. All and sundry are using it today to attack a president for doing exactly what every other president does. What really made me laugh personally was his claim that “we’ve never seen a president who, if he disagrees with a particular federal law, simply defies it, says he will not obey it…” Has he forgotten the shrub and his signing statements already?
Oh…maybe Cuban anarchists are not required to study American history. They are certainly not required to tell the truth. Of course, he is part of the David Barton crowd, where history is simply invented out of whole cloth. I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here to say Ted Cruz doesn’t give a fig for the United States Constitution and is being just a wee bit hypocritical when he accuses President Obama of lawlessness. This is the guy, after all, who illegally brought the United States government to a halt.
We should also note here that Cruz is not big on thinking, and no, just the fact of appearing on David Barton’s radio show is…well, okay, it IS proof of that, but so is what Cruz told Janet Mefferd about what the most important thing is listeners can do. No, it wasn’t studying American history. No, it wasn’t reading the Constitution. It wasn’t even thinking. It was praying:
I think the most important thing your listeners can do is simply pray because we need a great deal of prayer because marriage is really being undermined by a concerted effort and it’s causing significant harm.
Actually, a great deal of thinking would be far more useful than a bunch of people who do not understand an issue praying over it. One hopes god is better informed.

Lush Dimbulb Goes Insane and Attacks President Obama for Watching Television

Lush Dimbulb hit a new low, even by his standards, by attacking President Obama for betraying America by watching television.
What got Lush all worked up was a CBS This Morning story about President Obama’s favorite television shows. Dimbulb used the fact that Obama watches television to attack the president for being lazy.
DIMBULB: Okay, so Obama’s got time for golf. He has time for college and pro-basketball on television. He has time for endless fundraising. He has time for endless vacations. He has time now, we find out, for several TV shows. And, in fact, we’ve now learned that the best way to get yourself invited to a state dinner is be an executive or producer at a TV show Obama likes so he can get advanced copies from you.
But look at what he doesn’t have time for? He didn’t have time to deal with Benghazi. He turned that over to Hillary and whoever else. He was off the grid. Even today nobody knows where he went. He didn’t have time for Benghazi. We don’t know what he was doing the night four Americans were murdered in Benghazi. Now, I’m not begrudging him all this, but I am questioning his priorities. The president of the United States and we’re getting news stories on what he watches on TV and the fact that he uses his power to track down executives and producers to get advanced copies.
Lush Dimbulb’s hatred for President Obama is so intense that he attacked the president for watching television. What makes this bit of insanity especially interesting is that every other president since the growth of the medium has watched television.
Democrats didn’t blame the Iraq war on the fact that the shrub loved to play golf and watch baseball. No one blamed Ronald Reagan’s love of the TV show Family Ties for the Iran Contra scandal.
Dimbulb’s argument that Obama’s television viewing habits make him a bad president was not so subtle way of saying that the president is lazy. The notion that Obama is lazy goes back to Limbaugh’s favorite topic. Barack Obama is black. Lush Dimbulb can’t go a day without giving his audience some reason to fear the nation’s first African-American president.
However, this attack shows what has happened to the repugican cabal. They are so wrapped up in their hatred and fear of this president that they resort to attacks that are flat out crazy. The shrub took more vacations than any president in American history, but repugicans defended his poor work ethic. The repugicans called Bill Clinton every name in the book, but they never claimed that he was lazy.

New Hampshire legislator introduces bill to stop small-town cops from buying tanks

New Hampshire state representative J.R. Hoell has introduced state legislation that will require police departments to get approval from citizens at a town hall meeting before they buy military-style gear. The bill, called the Police Equipment and Community Engagement (PEACE) Act, was prompted by the city of Concord buying its police department an armored assault vehicle, a decision justified in part by the police department's stated need to fight protest groups such as Occupy.
The vehicle in question, a Lenco Bearcat, costs $258,000 and was widely opposed by the people of Concord, a town of 42,000 which has experienced three murders in the past ten years. The decision was justified in part by "recent murders and armed robberies" -- but Concord had no murders in 2012 or 2013, and police responded to 20 armed robberies -- the same number of robberies as the town experienced, on average, for the preceding decade.
Above, a video from a retired USMC colonel explaining why he doesn't want his local cops driving around in tanks.
In the end, nothing the public had to say mattered. The city council approved the acquisition with an 11-4 vote. Here's how they justified the armored vehicle's existence in a town of 42,000.
[Liz] Blanchard said she was voting for the Bearcat because it was the replacement of an older piece of equipment and would only be used for defensive purposes. She said in the wake of the Newtown school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing attack, “we do need to be defensive.” Ward 2 Councilor Jennifer Kretovic called the issue “a huge civic discussion” but said the calls from her district in support of the Bearcat were "ten-fold." She said recent murders and armed robberies in the northern part of the city showed that it was needed.
(Unless the Concord PD collates stats separately for the "northern" part of Concord, there were zero recorded murders in Concord in 2013 [and zero in 2012 as well] and only 20 robberies, which puts "recent" criminal activity at the same level it's been at for the last half-decade.)

Survivors of the Florida School for Boys return to the site of legal kidnapping, torture and murder of children

Mother Jones has published a heartbreaking story about the survivors of the Florida School for Boys; children who were, basically, kidnapped by southern cops and sent to a hellhole where backbreaking labor, torture, and murder were the order of the day. A state court has finally given the go-ahead to exhume the graves of the children who were killed and buried in anonymous, unmarked graves by their jailers. The survivors returned for a press-conference, but found themselves with almost no press to speak to. Mike Mechanic writes, "Johnny Gaddy, 68, still doesn't understand how he landed at Florida's Dozier reform school. When he was 11, the police showed up at his front door. 'They told me the judge wanted to talk to me,' he recalls. 'I'll never forget it as long as I live. I was watching 'The Lone Ranger' on TV. My mama said, 'The officer going to take you down, the judge going to talk to you.' I said, 'Mama, why's he going to talk to me?' She said, 'Go ahead.' He took me to the police station, told me to get in a cell. I never saw a judge. I wasn't sentenced for anything as far as I know. I was handcuffed all the way to Marianna.'
There's been a lot of press about the alleged horrors that took place at the Florida School for Boys, a.k.a. the Arthur G. Dozier reform school, but not a lot about how blacks and whites were treated differently on the campus, which was segregated until 1967. Last August, around the time of a state hearing that granted scientists permission to exhume dozens of graves on the grounds to find out what had happened to those boys, five elderly black men returned to the site of their nightmares with photographer Nina Berman. This multimedia story chronicles their visit back, and some of what they experienced at the school.

State Department, Duluth hospital attempting to deport man in a coma

Three months ago, Pakistani exchange student Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa was injured in a car wreck. He's been in a coma ever since, in a hospital in Duluth, Minn. Now, his family fears he will be deported while comatose — stuck on a plane with little medical aide and delivered to an area of Pakistan that doesn't have the medical infrastructure he needs. What's more, this kind of thing apparently happens all the time.



The Secret Battles Between US Forces and Chechen Terrorists

The Secret Battles Between US Forces and Chechen Terrorists (ABC News) 
For the last 12 years, U.S. Special Operations forces have repeatedly engaged in fierce combat in Afghanistan against ruthless Taliban allies from Chechnya, who have the same pedigree as their terrorist brethren threatening to disrupt the Winter Olympics in Russia, current and former commandos tell ABC News. "I'd say Chechens were a fair percentage of the overall enemy population early in Operation Enduring Freedom," recalled an active-duty senior Special Operations officer, referring to the Pentagon's name for the Afghan war, in which he was among the first ground operatives.
Since the U.S. war in Afghanistan began after September 11, elite U.S. troops' border battles with Chechen jihadis based in Pakistan's tribal safe havens have mostly stayed hidden in the shadows of a clandestine conflict. Special Operations missions are classified secret by default and rarely publicized.
Chechens joining the Taliban and al Qaeda-aligned militias stood out for their ferocity and refusal to surrender, operators with considerable experience in eastern Afghanistan revealed in recent interviews.
"Chechens are a different breed," a Special Forces soldier who has fought them told ABC News.
"They fight till they die. They have more passion, more discipline and less regard for lives," said the soldier, who did ten tours hunting high-value targets in Afghanistan. "A few of them could have just given up but decided they needed to die."
As recently as two years ago, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan reported that scores of foreign fighters including Arabs and Chechens were killed in one major battle with U.S. forces along the border with Pakistan.
Even some of Chechnya's infamous "black widows" -- with an ideological kinship to those Russian forces recently searched for in Sochi -- may have gathered in Pakistan in late 2006 for planned suicide bombings in Kabul, according to an ISAF combat report obtained and released by Wikileaks. No evidence exists that any such attacks were ever carried out, however.
Many Chechens, including veterans of the Afghan fight, are waging war now in Syria against Bashar al Assad's troops, according to experts and jihadi statements.
Numerous U.S. intelligence reports released by Wikileaks said Chechens were serving as trainers and combatants crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan to fight and die, an assessment sometimes based on intercepts from Taliban radio and cell phone chatter.
Islamist militants from groups in the North Caucasus region -- such as the "Caucasus Emirate," whose leader Doku Umarov last July threatened to attack the Sochi Olympics -- have primarily fought Russian forces in Chechnya and Dagestan and targeted civilians in Russia in brutal terrorist attacks since the early 1990s. Al Qaeda-core in Pakistan has endorsed these attacks but hasn't provided much operational support, experts said.
Another highly decorated special operator whose nine deployments to Afghanistan began in late 2001, compared Chechen jihadis his units sometimes encountered to the Viet Cong guerrillas who U.S. Special Forces fought in the Vietnam War.
"What I always appreciated was their lack of tether. They will transplant anywhere. I don't think they ate or were even clear as to why they fight, wherever it is, but they're fighting most of the time. It's just a fire in their bellies. It's what they do," said the veteran special operator.
When Chechen fighters were known to be dug into a valley along the mountainous border with Pakistan at the outset of a U.S. "clear and hold" mission, "I was ready to get hammered on. I've never seen a foreign fighter walk so alone and not give a damn," the soldier added.
That reputation, however, may have led many in the U.S. military and intelligence to inflate the Chechens' true numbers on a battlefield that is often as foggy as the actual border itself is undefined.
University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth scholar Brian Glyn Williams, who has searched for evidence of Chechen foreign fighters on the ground in Afghanistan while under contract with the U.S. military and CIA, said it wouldn't be surprising if some had joined the Taliban but he insists such tales are mostly a "Chechen jihadi myth."
"I think the lack of evidence is telling. There is a total absence of any names or anything tangible," Williams told ABC News this week.
Christopher Swift, a Georgetown University scholar and ABC News consultant who has done research in Afghanistan and interviewed scores of militants in the North Caucasus, agreed there is little hard proof that as many Chechens fought in Afghanistan as has been implied by military reports and noted that none were ever held at the U.S. terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But, Swift added, "That's consistent with fighting to the death. These fighters are not going to get captured."
Some Chechens were reputed to have fought with al Qaeda Arabs against U.S. troops during Operation Anaconda in 2002 -- but it may have been the birthplace of the myth.
"It was a pervasive rumor at the time. But I never saw a Chechen. In fact, I'm not sure anyone did," Brandon Friedman, a 101st Airborne platoon commander in Anaconda, told ABC News. Friedman later wrote "The War I Always Wanted" about his experiences.
Williams and Swift said al Qaeda militants who spoke Russian -- often a unifying language for foreign fighters from the former Soviet Union -- and whose corpses appeared Caucasian were presumed to be Chechens, even if they were actually Uzbeks, Tajiks or from other ethnic groups.
"I didn't run into any Uzbeks but I distinctly recall several Chechens with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," said the active-duty senior Special Operations officer, recalling combat operations in 2001-2002.
An experienced former operator from America's "tier one" black Special Operations group, "Delta Force," confirmed that misidentifications were common over the course of the war but said some foreign fighters were indeed Chechens. They entered combat as extremely disciplined and well-equipped teams with good weapons discipline and expensive personal gear made by The North Face.
"There were fighters that came to train, came to fight to support the jihad, and those that came to fight and learn U.S. tactics to take back to Chechnya to fight the current Russian government," said the veteran operator, whose affiliation with "The Unit" remains classified.
Any Chechens who survived their confrontations with Navy SEAL, Army Green Beret or Delta operators working for CIA or the Joint Special Operations Command, will not likely forget -- or forgive -- their American adversaries.
"It's safe to say that anyone from the Caucasus who's left the region and 'gone global' would likely see the United States -- and U.S. civilians -- as legitimate targets," said Georgetown's Swift. "This would be particularly true for those who may have fought against U.S. Forces anywhere, including Afghanistan."

Taking A Photo In Hitler's Bathtub For Vogue Just Hours After He Died

Just hours after Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30th, 1945, former fashion model and Vogue correspondent, Elizabeth (Lee) Miller was photographed taking a bath in his tub. Miller had been accredited into the U.S. Army as an official war correspondent for Condé Nast Publications and upon the American liberation of Munich, she entered the city with the 45th division and LIFE photographer David E. Scherman at her side. Lee and David began to explore the crumbling city and by chance, happened to wander into an apartment in a building at number 16 Prinzenregentplatz. Incredibly, the pair had stumbled upon Hitler’s abandoned Munich apartment. ”Almost anyone with a medium income and no heirlooms could have been the proprietor of this flat,” Miller wrote in her diaries, “The place was in perfect condition, including electricity and hot water and heat available and [an] electric refrigerator. It wasn’t empty enough to be ‘sub-let’ as it stood, but a quarter of an hour’s clearing cupboards would have made it ready for any new tenant who didn’t mind linen and silver marked AH.” The photograph was taken by David. Allegedly there is also a photograph taken by Miller of David in the bath. But with the former model looking like she did, it was the photograph with Miller as the subject that became the iconic image from their collaboration during World War II. “I looked like an angel on the outside. That’s how people saw me,” wrote Miller. “But I was like a demon inside. I had known all the suffering of the world since I was a very little girl.”
There are many questions surrounding Miller’s decision to disrobe in the Nazi leaders private bathroom and bathe herself, possibly using his flannel. The pair reportedly spent up to three nights in his apartment together, sitting at his desk, even sleeping in his bed, “using Hitler’s toilet and taking his bath and generally making ourselves at home,” wrote Miller. They had just come from Dachau, and with those double-buckled boots that sit in front of the bath, Miller had walked through the horror of the death camp only a few hours earlier. In the midst of controversy following the photograph’s publication in Vogue, Miller said that she had merely been trying to wash the odors of Dachau away.
In a letter to her Vogue editor, Audrey Winters, Miller recounts her stay in Hitler’s home: “I was living in Hitler’s private apartment when his death was announced, midnight of Mayday … Well, alright, he was dead. He’d never really been alive to me until today. He’d been an evil-machine-monster all these years, until I visited the places he made famous, talked to people who knew him, dug into backstairs gossip and ate and slept in his house. He became less fabulous and therefore more terrible, along with a little evidence of his having some almost human habits; like an ape who embarrasses and humbles you with his gestures, mirroring yourself in caricature. “There, but for the Grace of god, walks I.”

This Warship Served 6 Different Nations

It’s not unusual for warships to change hands. When belligerent powers lose wars, they sometimes forfeit warships as prizes. And victorious powers may sell off their ships when they are no longer needed.
What makes this ship remarkable is that during its 24-year career, it served 6 different nations: France, Denmark, the Confederate States of America, Spain, the United States of America and Japan.
The Confederacy commissioned the construction of warships abroad, such as British-built commerce raider CSS Shenandoah. The CSS Stonewall, named for the famed General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, was a similar ship.
Far more so than the British, the French Emperor Napoleon III desired a Confederate victory in the American Civil War. So in 1863, the Confederate government was able to commission the firm of Lucien Arman in Bordeaux to build the 1,390 ton ironclad ram ostensibly named the Sphinx. It was a well-built and truly modern warship that could have seriously threatened the commerce of the United States.
But in April of 1864, the French government determined that Confederate defeat was inevitable. Rather than needlessly exacerbate already strained relations with the United States, the French sold the ship to Denmark under the name Stærkodder.
Denmark was, at the time, fighting a war against Prussia and Austria over a border dispute in Schleswig. Denmark capitulated before receiving the ship in Copenhagen, so the builders sold it to the Confederacy. The ironclad, now known as the CSS Stonewall, launched in January of 1865.

The ship had a submerged ram bow, a rifled 300-pound cannon and two rifled 70-pound cannons. It was a formidable vessel. US Navy warships shadowed the Stonewall, but wisely avoided contact. Captain Thomas J. Page took the ship into Havana, where he learned that the war was over.
Now what? Captain Page needed to pay his crew, so he sold the ship to local Spanish authorities for $16,000 on May 19. The United States wanted that ship, so it then purchased the Stonewall from Spain for $16,000.
With the American Civil War over, the United States had little use for the Stonewall, and sold it to Japan in 1867. That nation was, at the time, rapidly modernizing. Among other activities, the Japanese were first buying and later building modern warships.
The Tokugawa Shogunate, which had ruled Japan for two centuries, fell during the Boshin War to Emperor Meiji and his allies. This was in part due to the Stonewall, now known as the Kōtetsu, which served as the flagship of the Japanese Imperial Navy. The Kōtetsu was instrumental in the destruction of the Shogunate forces at the Battle of Miyako Bay.
Japan decommissioned in her 1888, after 24 years of service for 6 different nations.

The crazy CIA ship that became an engineering historical landmark

This is the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a ship that's as important to the history of engineering as it is to the history of insanely crazy Cold War CIA schemes.
In 1970s, the CIA used this ship to capture a sunken Russian nuclear submarine — i.e., lifting a 2000-ton object from a depth of three miles to the surface. It was the most expensive intelligence operation ever and it only kind of worked.

Are Green Buildings Creating Dangerous Icicles?

As the freezing weather begins to thaw, energy efficient buildings and skyscrapers can make the conditions riper for more, and larger, icicles.

Electron Mass Measured to Record-Breaking Precision

Scientists in Germany said Wednesday they had made the most precise measurement yet of the mass of the electron, one of the building blocks of matter.

Saturn's Auroras Glow in 360-Degree Views

Saturn's auroras dance in a new video that shows the ringed planet's northern and southern lights shining in amazing, 360-degree detail.
Scientists combined observations from NASA's Cassini spacecraft with views from the Hubble Space Telescope to create the new video of auroras on Saturn unveiled today (Feb. 11). The video shows multiple views of Saturn's auroras as they appear in different wavelengths of light.
The Cassini probe, which is currently orbiting Saturn, and the Hubble Space Telescope spotted Saturn's cosmic light shows in April and May 2013. By analyzing the data, scientists found that the aurora activity was caused by the solar wind. When charged particles carried away from the sun on the solar wind slam into Saturn's atmosphere, it can cause the celestial lights to glow at the planet's poles.
"Saturn's auroras can be fickle — you may see fireworks, you may see nothing," leader of the work on the Hubble images Jonathan Nichols of the University of Leicester in England, said in a statement. "In 2013, we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of dancing auroras, from steadily shining rings to super-fast bursts of light shooting across the pole."
Saturn's northern and southern lights glow in red on the bottom and purple on top in visible light, according to Cassini photos. Earth's auroras are green on the bottom and red on top. The difference in color is due to variation in the dominant molecules of each planet's atmospheres. Nitrogen and oxygen are prevalent in Earth's auroras, while Saturn's are composed of hydrogen, NASA officials said.
The Cassini and Hubble telescope photos give scientists a new look at how the sun affects the planet's auroras and how the lights move, NASA officials said in a statement.
"Scientists have wondered why the high atmospheres of Saturn and other gas giants are heated far beyond what might normally be expected by their distance from the sun," Sarah Badman, a Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team associate at Lancaster University, England, said in a statement. "By looking at these long sequences of images taken by different instruments, we can discover where the aurora heats the atmosphere as the particles dive into it and how long the cooking occurs."
By analyzing the new images, scientists have also found more evidence that auroras can be created through new connections in magnetic field lines. In one part of the new video, a bright part of the aurora moves in time with the position of Saturn's moon Mimas, NASA officials said. Earlier images have also shown that a bright aurora spot could be associated with the moon Enceladus, NASA officials added.
"This is our best look yet at the rapidly changing patterns of auroral emission," Wayne Pryor, a Cassini co-investigator at Central Arizona College in Arizona, said in a statement. "Some bright spots come and go from image to image. Other bright features persist and rotate around the pole, but at a rate slower than Saturn's rotation."
Scientists are still combing through data collected during the 2013 auroras. A group of scientists are analyzing ground-based data gathered at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility to piece together an even more comprehensive view of the aurora events on Saturn between April and May of 2013, NASA officials said.
"The auroras at Saturn are some of the planet's most glamorous features – and there was no escaping NASA's paparazzi-like attention”, said Marcia Burton, a Cassini fields and particles scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who is helping to coordinate these observations. "As we move into the part of the 11-year solar cycle where the sun is sending out more blobs of plasma, we hope to sort out the differences between the effects of solar activity and the internal dynamics of the Saturn system."

Astronomical News

The private spaceflight company gets a shout out on the Netflix Emmy Award-winning show. 
Parabolic flights are used for a myriad of scientific and not-so-scientific zero-gravity experiments, but this is the most glamorous use of a zero-G aircraft ever.
The world's newest satellite launch site is off to a busy start, with 16 spacecraft put into orbit within a week -- and no rocket required.
Europe's Rosetta comet-chasing mission is a triumph in engineering, but none of it would have been possible without an intimate knowledge of Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
This was a big week for space! Astronomers found both the oldest star we've ever seen, and also the youngest galaxy. Trace is here to tell you what these two findings can teach us about the origins of everything!
It's been just over 50 years since NASA launched its last passive communications satellite.

Daily Comic Relief


Zap a bacterium

Scientists name a bacteria after Frank Zappa.

The press release announcing this somehow manages to make Zappa sound insanely square.

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Nature's Most Notorious Man-Eaters

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Bears Use Wildlife Crossings to Find New Mates

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Shark Attack Stats

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