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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Daily Drift

Oh, my, yes!

Carolina Naturally is read in 196 countries around the world daily.   

Well ... !

Today is - There is no special celebration today

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Non Sequitur


Today in History

1350 While besieging Gibraltar, Alfonso XI of Castile dies of the black death.
1512 Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sights Florida.
1802 The Treaty of Amiens is signed, ending the French Revolutionary War.
1814 U.S. troops under Gen. Andrew Jackson inflict a crushing defeat on the Creek Indians at Horshoe Bend in Northern Alabama.
1836 The Mexican army massacres Texan rebels at Goliad.
1866 President Andrew Johnson vetoes the civil rights bill, which later becomes the 14th amendment.
1884 The first long-distance telephone call is made from Boston to New York.
1893 The American Bell Telephone Company makes the first long distance telephone call to its branch office in New York.
1899 The Italian inventor G. Marconi achieves the first international radio transmission between England and France.
1900 The London Parliament passes the War Loan Act, which gives 35 million pounds to the Boer War cause.
1912 The first cherry blossom trees, a gift from Japan, are planted in Washington, D.C.
1933 Some 55,000 people stage a protest against Hitler in New York.
1941 Tokeo Yoshikawa arrives in Oahu, Hawaii, to begin spying for Japan on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor.
1942 The British raid the Nazi submarine base at St. Nazaire, France.
1944 One thousand Jews leave Drancy, France for the Auschwitz concentration camp.
1944 Thousands of Jews are murdered in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Gestapo shoots forty Jewish policemen in the Riga, Latvia ghetto.
1945 General Dwight Eisenhower declares that the German defenses on the Western Front have been broken.
1952 Elements of the U.S. Eighth Army reach the 38th parallel in Korea, the original dividing line between the two Koreas.
1958 The United States announces a plan to explore space near the moon.
1976 Washington, D.C. opens its subway system.
1977 In aviation's worst disaster yet, 582 die when a KLM Pan Am 747 crashes.

The best cities for high pay and low expenses

It's great to get a good-paying job. It's even better when you live in a city where that good-paying job buys more. After all, $60,000 goes a lot further in Boise, Idaho, than Boston.
Wallethub has looked at average incomes across the country.
The most compelling information—for us at Top/Best/Most—is the list of cities with the highest annual incomes when adjusted for cost of living. One hint: they're all in the middle of the country, and none gives you an ocean view, though one comes close.
No. 5: Colorado Springs, Colo.
The home of the Air Force Academy is also a hub for defense-related firms, and there are more than a few ice skaters here beneath Pikes Peak aspiring to become Olympians. The average annual income is $69,844 based on the 2012 census numbers, and the cost of living index is 92.8. (The lower an index score is below 100, the better.) When adjusted for that cheaper-than-average cost of living, it's actually like making $75,263, according to WalletHub.  But while all those Air Force types may be flying high in Colorado Springs, not everyone else is. Unlike Denver, here in Colorado’s second-largest city, the sale of recreational pot is banned despite a new state law legalizing marijuana.
No. 4: Houston
Here's the one city in the top five where you will get an occasional ocean breeze … or just a lot of humidity. Houston makes the list because America's in the middle of an energy boom. Oil, natural gas, wind, you name it, the boom is powering up average incomes to $69,421, with a cost of living index number of 92.2. Adjusted for cost of living, that's like making $75,303 per year. Even though Houston incomes are slightly lower than the average in Colorado Springs, there are no state income taxes in Texas, helping Houstonians take home more cash.
No. 3: Austin, Texas
See above for an explanation of tax breaks stretching dollars in Texas. Austin makes the list because incomes are going higher as the state capital becomes a hub for tech and music and all things hipster-y. Austin is headquarters for Whole Foods, adding to the whole quinoa-eating, fedora-wearing, cage-free celebrating vibe. The city is also home to the nation's largest urban bat population, and we all know how hip the whole vampire thing is. The cost of living index in Austin is 95.4, but the average income is $74,860, which can buy you a lot of organic gluten-free veggies. (I keep making fun of Austin because I’m jealous.)
No. 2: Atlanta
Hotlanta! This town is a peach of a place to live! Atlanta is headquarters to a wide range of successful empires like Coke, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines and Nene Leakes.
The cost of living index number is 95.5, the highest on the Wallet Hub list. But how affordable is housing? The average income in Atlanta is $78,505. The usual rule of thumb in determining home affordability is to multiply one’s annual income by 2.5. That would mean the average home price should be $196,000. Good news! It’s only $144,000, leaving Atlantans with more money to afford a high-end lifestyle worthy of a “Real Housewife.”
No. 1: Charlotte, N.C.
WHAT?? WHERE?? WHO??? Charlotte is the best city in America for good salaries and low cost of living. Turns out this town is a banking powerhouse, the second-largest financial center in the country behind New York, and New York is not affordable. Not at all.
Charlotte is headquarters for institutions like Bank of America, and is a major center for Wells Fargo, but Chiquita International also calls the city home, because Charlotte is so … wait for it … a-peeling. And why not? The cost of living index number is 93.2, the average annual income is $76,914 (which might feel more like $82,526 based on cost of living), unemployment is 6.6 percent and the so-called Queen City has even designated a local Dairy Queen a historic site. How cool is that?

Did you know ...

These 8 sneaky racial code words and why politicians love them

About the 5 most absurd christian wingnut claims of persecution

About the 7 most common lies about abortion

That the first kiss ever filmed was between two women

House repugicans Declare That the American People Will Have No New National Parks

The repugicans in the House have looked back on 108 years' worth of presidential abuse and determined their predecessors' were errant in their long-suffering and should have done…
No More national parks 
Patience is considered to be the capacity to tolerate suffering without getting angry or upset, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties; in the christian delusion, patience is one of the most valuable virtues of life. Apparently, repugicans, purveyors of 'christian virtues', having demonstrated supreme forbearance in the face of repeated suffering at the hands of presidents, both repugican and Democrat, have finally had enough and are not going to take any more abuse and suffering. After all, repugicans in the House have looked back on 108 years’ worth of presidential abuse and determined their predecessors’ were errant in their long-suffering and should have done in 1906 what House repugicans plan to do this week; tell Americans there will be no new national parks or protected federal lands ever. In repugican circles, Federal land is the purview of the Koch brothers and their cohort in the dirty energy industry and repugicans have determined it is damn high time the American people comprehend that they have no more right to national parks than they do decent jobs, healthcare, or clean air and water.
The breaking point for repugican patience was the President’s decision to use the authority granted him in a 108 year-old law to protect a pristine stretch of California’s Coast near Point Arena as a new national monument. The idea that an African American President dared follow the example of every president since Teddy Roosevelt and use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect iconic American places such as the Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon was, as Utah mormon Rob Bishop  claimed, Barack Obama’s way of “punking” the repugican-controlled House of Representatives. It is noteworthy that repubgcans have never accused any white president of punking the House by protecting federal land, but they have also never accused white presidents of dictatorial tyranny or shredding the Constitution by issuing executive orders either; something the Antiquities Act grants all presidents to protect Federal lands.
As has been their wont since taking control of the House after the 2010 midterms, House repugicans will resort to their only reason for serving in Congress according to Speaker John Boehner; repeal long-established laws that benefit the American people such as the Antiquities Act of 1906. The repugican cabal repeal effort was necessary according to the bill’s sponsor because they claim President Obama did an “end-run around Congress” when he expanded the California Coastal Monument last week. Obviously, repugican patience was wearing thin with this President because it took less than a week for lethargic repugicans to write, debate, and schedule a vote to say “no more National Parks, monuments, or protected federal land” and make sure those decisions lie with the Koch brothers and dirty energy industry.
House repugicans will decide how much federal land belongs to the oil and coal industry, and according to H.R. 1459, it will be determined, in part, by how much money the Koch brothers can pour into localities to force community leaders to join the Kochs in reviewing the environmental impacts of protecting federal lands. At any rate, the bill will block President Obama, and likely future presidents, from using the 108 year-old law to establish national monuments or protect federal lands for future generations of Americans. The repugicans Bishop and Doc Hastings (r-WA) contend the 108 year-old Antiquities Act is an atrocity because the exclusive power to decide not to protect public lands belongs to Congress that follows repugicans’ record of effectively shutting down all but one recent legislative effort to protect wilderness, parks, and monuments since they took control of the House.
Last week President Obama signed a bill to protect wilderness lands in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that a delegation of Michigan representatives promoted to keep tourists’ dollars flowing and not to protect pristine land. Otherwise, Congress has not protected a single new acre of public lands since 2009 that represents the longest stretch since World War II. H.R. 1459 will add insult injury after repugicans shutdown the federal government for 16 days that not only cost national parks and local communities 8 million lost visitors, but cost local communities $414 million in tourists’ spending. There is a saying that money talks, and although localities lost $414 million in tourist dollars, the Koch brothers spend much more to elect repugicans who will reciprocate by giving them unrestricted access to pristine lands to despoil in their drive for dirty energy profits. The Kochs have spent untold millions attempting to eliminate California environmental protections over the past six years alone, and it is highly likely the President setting aside more of California’s coastline for protection was too much for the Kochs to tolerate so repugicans said enough is enough; no more protection from the Koch brothers intent on destroying California’s environment.
The repugicans scheduled the vote to put a stop to the President designating national parks and federal lands for protection to coincide with his establishment of monuments honoring African Americans Harriet Tubman and Colonel Charles P. Young exactly one year ago. The repugicans are being proactive to prevent the President from protecting national sites that honor some of repugicans’ most despised Americans including women, Latinos, African Americans, the LGBT community, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other communities that are under-represented by national parks and monuments.
The repugicans will certainly resort to their typical assertion that they are simply following the will of the people they will claim deplore the idea of protecting federal land, and will tell main stream media Americans will embrace with open arms the concept of “no more national parks,” but according to two completely separate surveys, voters say leaders in Washington should be creating new parks instead of closing national parks and cutting budgets for public lands by a margin of more than three-to-one. However, the Koch brothers and the dirty energy industry wield more influence than over three-quarters of the population and repugicans have demonstrated they serve the infinitesimal minority regardless of the overwhelming majority’s wishes.
It is unclear exactly what contributed most to breaking repugicans’ patience that incited them to decide to repeal an over a century year-old law that every president since Theodore Roosevelt used to protect federal land and establish National Parks. It is true they detest any Federal spending that benefits the majority of the population and does not enrich the wealthiest Americans and their corporations, and there is little debate they exist to hand over America’s public and private lands to the Koch brothers and their dirty energy cohort to rape and despoil into barren waste lands. However, more likely than not, the idea that an African American President believed he could safely follow the example and practice of every white president since Roosevelt and use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect pristine California coastline was just too much for repugicans to tolerate. Subsequently, this week they will vote to repeal the Antiquities Act and tell Americans no more national parks because you elected an African American President and he protected the California coastline from the Koch brothers.

A Simple Way to Ease Our Economic Woes

Over at Acerbic Politics they say...
With the failure of Congress to pass a single, solitary jobs program since the 2008 downturn in the economy, the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazy to try to force a recovery. Well, not actually printing, but buying up loans from the big financial institutions.
But as we know, giving money to the already rich does NOT translate into jobs or income for the middle class - it just makes the wealthy wealthier. No trickle-down.
And so here is a proposal that would probably work. But it will NEVER happen.

Give Every American $2,000

Direct payments are a powerful tool to combat income inequality and crippling unemployment.

How would you like to get $2,000 in free money today, fresh off the government printing presses? And what if I told you it wouldn't just be a nice windfall for you and your friends and family, but that we'd do it for all Americans on an ongoing basis, and that doing so would solve our crippling problem of mass unemployment?
I know what you're thinking: it would be crazy. Either it would be a fast track to crippling inflation or it's some repugican satire of an ultra-liberal government handout program. But it is not quite as radical as it sounds. The key idea behind such a program has a longstanding, bipartisan economic pedigree. John Stuart Mill argued in 1829 that mass unemployment was caused by "a deficiency of the circulating medium" relative to other commodities. John Maynard Keynes used the idea in his 1936 book, "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money," to lampoon the inherent silliness of gold mining, suggesting that old coal mines could be filled up with bottles full of banknotes, buried over with trash, then left "to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again." Milton Friedman suggested that monetary policy could never fail to cure mass unemployment, because as a last resort the central bank could just drop cash out of helicopters - an enticing analogy that former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke borrowed in a 2002 speech, earning himself the persistent nickname of "Helicopter Ben."
And it hasn't just been theorizing. In 2008,  Nancy Pelosi engineered the tax rebate stimulus, in which everyone received a check in the mail - paid for, eventually, with fresh new money. Studies have found that this stimulus worked quite well; it was just overwhelmed by the Great Recession, and we only received checks once. Mill, Keynes, Friedman, and even Bernanke might argue that we should revive a similar stimulus again - only this time, on a much bigger scale, and on an ongoing basis.

Jimmy Carter Slams repugicans: Not Supporting Equal Pay Is Abuse Against Women

In an interview on MSNBC, former President Jimmy Carter called women being paid less than men a form of abuse, and compared it to racial discrimination.
Former President Carter discussed the discrimination behind the repugican refusal to support equal pay during his full interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
Carter said:
Well women now make up about 57% of all the graduates, undergraduates and graduates from universities and still in the United States for the same exact work, for a full time employee, women get 23% less pay than men. And in the Fortune 500, only twenty one of those leaders among the 500 are women, and in that high level they get 42% less pay than the average man.
That is really derived, I would say, indirectly from the fact that religious leaders say that women are inferior in the eyes of god, which is a false interpretation of the holy scriptures, but when they see that the Pope, the Southern baptist convention, and others say that women can’t serve as priests and so forth equal to men, they say, well, I’ll treat my wife any way I want to, because she’s inferior to me. Oh, I don’t have any real moral compunction against paying my employees less, and so women are abused, but men don’t really want to rock the boat because men benefit from the superiority that we enjoy. Just like white people did in the segregation days when we benefitted from deprivation of blacks’ equality.
The rationale that those who oppose equal pay for women use is virtually the same as those who support racial discrimination. At its root, the argument is that women deserve to make less money because they are inferior to men. The repugican flood of anti-women legislation is all based on the idea of gender inferiority.
Former President Carter laid out the reason why men support this inequality better than any other man ever has before. Men, especially those at the top of the financial pyramid, don’t want to rock the boat because they greatly benefit from this abuse of women.
With women being the majority of the population, it would be economic suicide for the nation not to pay women the same as men. Women are not asking to be paid more than men. They are seeking equality. They want equal pay for their equal work.
In the 21st Century, few people would dare to stand up and say that anyone should be paid less because of the color of their skin, but as a culture it is okay for repugicans to argue in support of discrimination against women.
President Carter was correct. This is an abusive system that is allowing the majority of the country (women) to be economically oppressed by a minority (men). The US economy will never be able to grow and thrive if the majority of workers are discriminated against.
Women are being denied their right to equal pay. Too many men on the left dismiss the issue of equal pay, because whether they realize it or not, they are benefitting from discrimination. They need to understand that when a woman gets paid less than a man for the same job, it hurts us all.
If the United States economy is ever going to reach its full potential, women must be paid the same as men.

Jimmy Carter Correctly Thinks That the NSA Is Reading His Email

When former President Jimmy Carter wants to send a message to a world leader, he uses snail mail, because he knows that the NSA is watching. carter-mtp 
When former President Jimmy Carter wants to send a message to a world leader, he uses snail mail, because he knows that the NSA is reading his emails.
Now, there’s been a lot of criticism of his policy regarding drones and the NSA surveillance. And the N.S.A. has argued that this kind of intelligence gathering is critical to try to protect the American homeland?
That has been extremely liberalized and, I think, abused by our own intelligence agencies. As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored. And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write a letter myself, put it in the post office, and mail it. (LAUGH)
Old fashioned snail mail–
Old– yeah. Yeah. Because I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored. (LAUGH)
President Carter was most likely correct. His emails are being monitored. If the CIA is hacking and spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, it is a pretty safe bet that the NSA, and/or other intelligence agencies are spying on former President Carter.
It is a good rule of thumb for everyone. The privacy that you think you have on the Internet doesn’t really exist. Facebook has access to all of your direct messages. The same thing with Twitter’s private messages. Domestic spying has been out of control for a long time.
The spying apparatus is bigger than Obama. It will outlast this president, and future presidents, because that is the nature of institutionalized bureaucracy. It is also the nature of the military industrial complex. The only thing that can stop the rampant plague of domestic spying is an outcry of popular demand.
If the people force their government to stop, it will stop. Otherwise, the spying will never end.

Neil de Grasse Tyson Smacks Down Creationists Who Are Demanding Equal Time on Cosmos

Neil de Grasse Tyson, a forward thinking and intelligent man disabused creationists of the idea they will ever get equal time on Cosmos when he said, "You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers."
De Grasse Tyson
In a criminal trial when a defense lawyer is faced with overwhelming witness testimony and evidentiary documentation their client is guilty, they resort to sowing doubt in the jury’s mind in hopes one juror will vote for acquittal because they are not certain facts of the case are completely true. The concept of sowing doubt is a favorite method of religio-wingnut creationists to disprove scientific facts supporting evolutionary theory by convincing observers that science is questionable and their religious mythos explaining natural phenomenon based on supernatural phenomenon is true and unquestionable.
The success of Fox’s science documentary series “Cosmos” has so rattled creationists unable to cast doubt on de Grasse Tyson’s methodical presentation of fact-based information about the Universe that creationists are demanding equal time on the program. Their goal is simple; cast doubt on empirical scientific data about how the Universe and life on Earth came into existence using archaic mythology they claim refutes science and proves the creation myth is fact. Fortunately, de Grasse Tyson, a forward thinking and intelligent man disabused creationists of the idea they will ever get equal time on Cosmos when he said, “You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers." There is no way a noted scientist is going to give equal time to ancient mythology to waste time when he could be presenting science.
The creationists claim their supernatural mythology will give the scientific documentary “balance” about how the Universe began and operates by giving equal weight to the bible story and convince viewers to question science and consider facts “might” be false. It is impossible to balance science, a systematic enterprise building and organizing knowledge in the form of testable explanations about the universe, with religious faith based on trust in the supernatural. Faith Delusion is often used as a conceptual synonym for hope, but it is also a handy excuse for “the bible is fact and there is no proof, but I believe it anyway” crowd to support their inability to accept reality. This dizzying belief was best exhibited by creationist Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis notoriety who claimed he believes the creation story so strongly that nothing can change his mind exposing him as a superstitious moron with no interest in truth.
Some of the criticism of de Grasse Tyson by creationists’ at “Answers in Genesis” were that “creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all;  I don’t recall seeing any interviews with people.” Ken Ham asserted that science presented on Cosmos is wrong and that “the big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned.” The beauty of science is that it does not explain anything that is unobserved. As an aside, last week a major new scientific discovery just providedsmoking gun” evidence for “inflation” that is a crucial component of scientists’ understanding of the incredibly stunning events that happened just after the Big Bang.
During an appearance on the  Janet Mefferd Show, Answers In Genesis and Creation Museum spokesman Danny Faulkner criticized de Grasse Tyson and Cosmos for not providing equal airtime for creationists to balance scientific facts with bible mythos. Mefferd agreed that de Grasse Tyson had no interest in being fair and balanced saying, Boy, but when you have so many scientists who simply do not accept Darwinian evolution it seems to me that that might be something to throw in there, you know, the old, ‘some scientists say this, others disagree and think this,’ but that’s not even allowed.” Faulkner completely agreed with Mefferd and said, “Consideration of special creation is definitely not open for discussion it would seem.” For the record, Mefferd’s “so many scientists” remark does not comport with the fact that evolutionary theory is nearly universally accepted with 97% of all scientists acknowledging the Universe, Earth, and all life on Earth did not begin 6,000 years ago as creationists claim.
Any semi-intelligent human being understands there are not always two sides to every story just because someone mired in delusion and ancient mythology does not agree with something science has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. De Grasse Tyson stated, as plainly as possible, that “The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact.” The creationists still cannot understand what “scientific theory” means, but Tyson’s simile makes the point that even creationists believe gravity is real and not as they claim evolution is, just a theory and unproven. If the think gravity is just a theory, they should step off the top of Empire State Building to prove the “theory” of gravity is just an unproven idea postulated by some crazed liberal scientist.
This bizarre idea of using religious myth to sow doubt in the public’s mind is used to great effect by repugicans to deny global climate change they claim is a devious “liberal hoax” perpetrated by scientists of questionable repute. In fact, wingnuts are already bashing Tyson as a global warming proponent and hope to garner support by claiming he is attacking the religious people. Jeffrey Meyer, writing for Media Research Center, criticized de Grasse Tyson’s appearance on Late Night With Seth Myers by asserting “Meyers and de Grasse Tyson chose to take cheap shots at religious people and claim they don’t believe in science i.e. liberal causes like global warming.” Tyson has been very careful, sadly, to not take shots, cheap or otherwise, at religious people in spite of their rejection of science for belief in archaic mythology.
The repugicans in states have joined with creationists to sow doubt about evolutionary theory, the very foundation of modern biology, by inserting the bible creation story of human creation as one of two sides that warrant competing time in science classes. It is precisely the same tactic creationists are attempting by demanding that Cosmos give them equal time to use religious myth to balance scientific fact that is an equally absurd assertion repugicans use to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools, or to shift taxpayer money to private religious schools to sell “parental choice for a fair and balanced education” for their children.
The creationists are never going to get equal time to peddle the bible as a counterbalance to science because Cosmos is a science program and creationism is a religious myth.  Cosmos or de Grasse Tyson do not have to show balance, particularly the when creationists’ “balance” is presented by those who assert a few verses in the bible are science. Creationism does not meet any criteria to be considered “scientifically viable” regardless how often creationists say “the bible says” god created the Universe and life 6,000 years ago. De Grasse Tyson attempted to give creationists and science deniers an easy out by telling them “there is no shame in admitting you do not know something,” and implicitly condemned their faith-based stupidity by asserting “that the real shame is pretending to know everything.”
Some pundits claim de Grasse Tyson is dismantling the creationist movement with each episode, and although the program may enlighten a new generation to how scientific discovery explains how the Universe and life on Earth came into existence, it will not change one creationist’s mind.  Despite reams of scientific data over several decades proving evolutionary theory is scientific fact, and several court rulings that creationism is nothing but religious myth, creationists are determined as ever to deny scientific reality. They will continue demanding equal time to sow doubt about scientific data with bible stories, use repugicans to insert creation instruction in schools to cast doubt on evolutionary theory, and claim Earth is 6,000 years old to deny the climate is changing to the detriment of human existence, and it is all portrayed as presenting balance.

The Truth Be Told

It is obvious that the religio-wingnuts haven't read the actual Constitution.

The Kochs' Fig Leaf

Americans For Prosperity Fesses Up To Their Dirty Agenda
Billionaires Charles and David Koch - who made their vast fortune through oil, gas and other energy related industries - continue to spread their wealth to benefit their own agenda. Their political agitation cabal Americans for Prosperity have already spent tens of millions of dollars on ad campaigns attacking Democrats for support the Affordable Care Act. And today we found out why: Not because they care about health care, but to prevent action on climate change and protect their financial bottom lines. Their actions don't stop at the federal level though. They've also been launching state fights in Kansas, Michigan and others. Below are just some highlights of where the Kochs are working to build a government that only works for the wealthiest.

Koch-Backed Americans For Prosperity Admit Their Anti-Obamacare Ads Are Really About Preventing Action on Climate Change And Helping Their Bottom Line. 

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity have spent around $30 million in attack ads against Democrats in 2014 with the majority of those ads attacking Obamacare. Despite a public focus on attacking health care, the aim is really about protecting their bottom line and fighting against climate change, regulations and the government. Today in the New York Times, AFP head Tim Phillips admitted "We have a broader cautionary tale. The president's out there touting billions of dollars on climate change. We want Americans to think about what they promised with the last social welfare boondoggle and look at what the actual result is." The Koch's have significant interest in reducing "big government", particularly reductions in carbon pollution from power plants, oil refineries and other sources, since they have billions of dollars invested in energy, transportation and manufacturing. Even yesterday, a Koch subsidiary was fined by the Department of Justice for pollution violations and required to spend $45 million on upgrades.

Congressman Steps Up Attack On Koch Brothers For Detroit Petcoke Pollution. 

Gary Peters, the Democratic candidate running for Michigan's open Senate seat accused billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of turning Detroit into their own personal trash can. Today, he held an event near the area of the Detroit River - where large piles of petroleum coke, a product of oil from the Canadian tar sands, of which the Koch Brothers are the largest owners - once stood. Peters' event is just one small peg in what has been a long battle between the sitting Congressman and the Koch Brothers. Americans for Prosperity recently launched a $1 million and three-week ad blitz gainst Peters, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin. Most of those ads attempt to hold Peters accountable for his vote supporting the Affordable Care Act, and use a cancer-stricken woman's experience that has been widely debunked by journalists who have pointed out that the woman will actually save more than $1,200 a year under the law..

Americans For Prosperity Renews Its Battle Against Clean Energy. 

The Koch-backed cabal Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is once again getting involved in the battle to repeal renewable energy standards in the states. Earlier this week, they made their legislative pitch, saying that AFP is holding out for a full repeal of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires Kansas electric companies to produce 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. Despite involvement from Grover Norquist, efforts to repeal or reduce the RPS failed last year as did anti-renewable conservative efforts across the nation. AFP recently launched a media blitz, running misleading TV and radio ads that attempt to tie the RPS to former governor Kathleen Sebelius, despite being signed into law by her successor in 2010. The Topeka Capital-Journal notes that the ads also attribute electricity rate hikes to the standards, which prompted former Senate President Dave Kerr, r-Hutchinson, to pen a letter to the editor calling the ads "provably false." Meanwhile, the nearby farm states of Iowa and South Dakota generate more than one-fourth of their electricity from wind power, which creates jobs and cuts carbon pollution.

BOTTOM LINE: The Koch's goal is to keep the economic deck stacked in their favor and that means a government that only work for the wealthiest. And they will spend whatever it takes to protect their bottom line.

U.S.-based multinational corporations cast wary eye on Russia sanctions

As long as U.S. sanctions on Russia that many regard as toothless aren't extended, American corporations don't have much to worry about. But their antennae have been tweaked by the travel ban and asset freeze the Obama administration has imposed on 11 prominent Russians and Ukrainians involved in Moscow's efforts to annex the Crimean peninsula. While the rest of us wonder how much bloodshed may arise in the clash between Russia and the new government of Ukraine, and what role our own government has played or may yet play in the conflict, officials at companies doing business in Russia have another concern: How might these sanctions and the E.U.'s similar sanctions against 21 Russians and Ukrainians affect their bottom line?.
Given how modest those sanctions are, pretty much not at all is the answer for the moment. But what of possible future sanctions? And what about Russian retaliation?
About 100 CEOs with the Business Roundtable are meeting with Defense chief Chuck Hagel in Washington today, and the sanctions situation will no doubt be discussed, according to the group's president John Engler:

Crackpot wingnut Scott Walker Claims Reagan Ended The Cold War By Busting Unions

In a desperate attempt to make himself look presidential, Scott Walker (r-WI) is claiming that Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War by busting U.S. unions. According to the Washington Examiner, Walker said:
When Ronald Reagan took that action against the air traffic controllers, that in my mind was the beginning of the end of the Cold War. And the reason was, from that point forward nobody doubted how serious Ronald Reagan would be as president. Our allies knew that they could trust him, that he was rock solid. Our adversaries knew not to mess with him. And even though he presided over an incredible buildup in our nation’s national defense, in our military, we had very few, very limited military engagements during his eight years as president.

To me, if you have a strong America led by a strong president who makes serious statements about what they mean not only on national security and foreign policy, but on all other issues, we’re not going to be faced with many of these situations because people will know if they’re allies we can be counted on and if they’re adversaries not to mess with us. And when we have an America where … Prime Minister Netanyahu was in the White House getting the cold shoulder from the president who still can’t figure out exactly where they stand on Israel, and when you have… a red line in discussions about Syria which apparently (he) was never serious about doing anything about, no wonder, whether you were in Iran or Russia, or anywhere else around the world, no wonder people feel certain comfort taking action because they don’t see this administration as willing to act. I’m not necessarily encouraging that we draw red lines all over the place. My sense is just, you shouldn’t point a gun at somebody if you’re not prepared to shoot.
Walker (r-WI) envisions himself as a 2016 repugican presidential candidate, and he thinks that he is ready to lead the free world, because he too, busts unions. Walker’s retelling of the Reagan myth is so far off base that it is absurd.
The Soviet Union did not watch Ronald Reagan bust the air traffic controllers union, and then decide to call it a day. Scott Walker has taken two unrelated events, lumped them together, and drawn a laughably illogical conclusion. As with all repugican presidential nominating contests real issues don’t matter. The whole process is nothing more than a showcase of who can talk the toughest.
The repugicans love tough talk. They are addicted to it, but Scott Walker’s problem is that he has no foreign policy experience. In order to make himself look like a viable national contender in 2016, Walker had to invent the myth that Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War by busting American unions.
His argument was illogical, ridiculous, and it made no sense. It also perfectly sums up the crackpot wingnuttery that Scott Walker is using to destroy Wisconsin, while plotting a 2016 run for the White House.

Chris Christie Clears Chris Christie Of Any Wrongdoing In Bridgegate Scandal

Oh, Really?! 
Per a report in The New York Times on Monday, a legal team hired directly by Chris Christie’s office performed a review of the George Washington Bridge scandal and found the New Jersey Governor completely innocent of any wrongdoing. The review of the scandal was conducted by Randy M. Mastro, who just so happened to serve as New York City’s deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has been one of the embattled Christie’s biggest supporters and cheerleaders throughout the fallout of his many controversies these past few months.
Mastro’s law firm was paid $1 million in legal fees to conduct the audit. While they pointed out that they had unlimited access to files and phones records, and that they were able to conduct at least 70 interviews with various people in the Governor’s office and junta, they did not speak with either Bridget Kelly or David Wildstein, the two most central figures in this scandal. Another person who was not interviewed was Christie’s former aide and campaign manager, Bill Stephen.
The fact that this review was conducted by a man who is a close ally of Rudy Giuliani will lead to much skepticism and criticism. Also, Mastro’s law firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has done work for Christie in the past. This leads one to wonder how impartial this review really was. On top of that, New Jersey taxpayers are the ones forced to foot the bill for the Governor’s internal review.
Considering that Jersey residents are the ones ultimately paying the lawyer bills for this, shouldn’t a truly impartial and unaffiliated law firm or government agency have been tasked with conducting this review? With the use of a close ally as the investigator, Christie has to know that anything coming out of this audit that fully clears him will be seen as nothing but a whitewash. He can’t point to his own office’s investigation and say,’ Look, I’m clean. Time to move on!’
Democratic New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chairs the panel investigating Governor Christie, obviously expressed doubts when the Times story broke on Monday. He told the New Jersey Star-Ledger the following regarding Bridget Kelly’s emails and the fact that she was not interviewed in this review:
“If we don’t know why she sent that email, if we don’t know who gave her the authority to send that email, if we don’t know what she thought she may be accomplishing by sending that email, then we can’t have a complete picture of what happened here.”
The main takeaway here is that nothing at all is resolved. Christie might be able to hold up this report and say it clears him of all wrongdoing or culpability, but only his staunchest supporters will uncritically accept that. Nobody else is going to take, at face value, a clean internal audit conducted by a law firm full of the Governor’s friends that also provided those lawyers with a $1 million payday.



Piggy runners helping to bring home the bacon for children's hospital

Crispy strips of mouth-watering bacon were the prize awaiting runners on Saturday at the Bacon Chase 5k run in Atlanta, Georgia.
Participants dressed in pig costumes and other unique attire as they ran five kilometers (3.1 miles) at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for free bacon.
Everyone who entered was entitled to unlimited free bacon throughout the course and at the finishing line. Charles Crawford, Jr. was the overall winner of the race.
The Bacon Chase in Atlanta was the first of a series of races organized across the US to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and help find cures for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Bus driver who took children back to school instead of home blames gin-soaked raisins

Police say a Pennsylvania bus driver who took children back to school instead of driving them home after classes ended has acknowledged eating gin-soaked raisins. Police in Columbia County have filed charges against a bus driver for allegedly driving her bus route under the influence.  
Students on the bus in the Benton Area School District said the driver was acting strange and driving erratically on their way home after school on Wednesday afternoon. Police said that bus driver, Jennifer Watson of Benton, is suspected of driving under the influence. Police filed several charges against her, including DUI and reckless driving.

Charging documents show the students told police: “The driver was yelling and cursing at students and was driving all over the road.” Students say it seemed Watson thought she was driving her morning bus route. Police said the students told her: “It was 3:40 in the afternoon, time to go home”. Police said Watson then took the children back to school where school officials and Watson’s boss, the owner of Brewington Transportation in Benton, were waiting for her.
When police spoke with Watson on the charges she faces, she denied drinking but said she had gin-soaked raisins to help with headaches. Watson`s next door neighbour said she hopes people won`t be too quick to judge her. “You don`t know what`s happening in somebody`s house or how they feel that day. It`s not right to condemn them,” said Mary Ann Zeveney. Police said Watson has not been formally charged, but the charging documents are at a magistrate`s office. Watson is expected to be arraigned on those charges at a later time.

Woman who took Scotch eggs and ate them without paying has apologized and paid up

A woman who took a packet of Scotch eggs from a supermarket in Minehead, Somerset has apologized and paid up.

Police force in four-fingered glove plea

A supply of four-fingered latex gloves is needed for a police officer who lost a finger on duty. 
The Cleveland Police officer, who does not want to be named, cannot wear five-fingered gloves to protect himself from blood and other liquids.
The force is unable to find a supply of adapted ones and is seeking advice or assistance from any organization which has dealt with a similar problem. Manufacturers approached will only take orders for expensive vast quantities.
The force said such a large amount would not be needed and would cost tens of thousands of pounds. The officer had to have his finger amputated after an injury on duty.
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Spittal said: "Disposable gloves are used across many industries including health, manufacturing and food preparation. It may be that there are people who have experience of commissioning adapted versions of gloves that will provide the barrier necessary."

The Slow Death Of The Microwave

America is tired of the microwave. Microwave sales have fallen or remained flat every year for nearly a decade in the US. Unit sales have tumbled by 25% since 2000, and 40% since their peak, in 2004.

A big factor behind the decline in sales of microwaves is likely that Americans just aren't using them as much anymore. A shift in eating habits - which favors freshness and quality over speed and convenience - has left a growing number of microwaves dormant on kitchen counters.

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What Medieval Europe Did with Its Teenagers

Parents of teenagers know the agony of dealing with children who are near-adults but not quite ready to be on their own. The natural rebellion against parents and family can leave you pulling your hair out. We hear about how adolescence didn’t exist in older times, and how boys went to work and girls were married off at puberty. This was not always true, as teenagers still needed guidance and job training. In medieval times, there was a system in place for parents to deal harshly with children going through that difficult period.
Around the year 1500, an assistant to the Venetian ambassador to England was struck by the strange attitude to parenting that he had encountered on his travels.

He wrote to his masters in Venice that the English kept their children at home "till the age of seven or nine at the utmost" but then "put them out, both males and females, to hard service in the houses of other people, binding them generally for another seven or nine years". The unfortunate children were sent away regardless of their class, "for everyone, however rich he may be, sends away his children into the houses of others, whilst he, in return, receives those of strangers into his own".

It was for the children's own good, he was told - but he suspected the English preferred having other people's children in the household because they could feed them less and work them harder.
Besides that, a strange master and a binding contract could often keep an adolescent on the straight and narrow better than a parent who loved him unconditionally. It didn’t always work out, especially for older teens who spent their master’s money on "harlotes… dyce, cardes and other unthrifty games.” The BBC News Magazine has more on the medieval system of dealing with teenagers, and some specific stories of young people growing up in apprenticeships.

Maps Before Maps

A collection of medieval maps from the 11th to the 14th centuries.

Daily Comic Relief


Meet Methuselah

At 4,841 years old, this ancient bristlecone pine is the oldest known non-clonal organism on Earth.

Things you probably didn't know ...

Gentle elephants mourn their dead by frequently visiting their graves, 'kissing' their bodies with their trunks and even rocking to and fro with grief. Elephants show compassion towards the sick and dying, trying to nurse them back to health, elephants, like humans, show compassion.

College Students Can Earn Beer with Dead Rats

Last year, Gareth Morgan, a philanthropist in New Zealand, urged his countrymen to kill all of the cats in the country. His goals appeared to be the protection of native bird species and attracting the hatred of every cat lover in the world. He succeeded at the latter objective.
Now he has another bright idea. The city of Wellington is plagued with rats. He wants them dead, so he's offering students at Victoria University one beer for every dead rat that they turn in. He's even willing to provide the students with traps for the job.
If I were a college student in Wellington, I'd try to find a more efficient way of profiting from this system. Remember that 2 years ago, a city in China offered a bounty on piranhas, which was an invasive species in the city's waterways. So enterprising businessmen bought piranhas online, then turned them in to the city for the bounty.
Here's what I'd do:
1. Purchase rats online in bulk.
2. Hand them over to Gareth Morgan for beer.
3. Exchange the beer for cash to college students who didn't want to go to the trouble of setting traps (beer tastes terrible anyway).
4. Use the cash to buy My Little Pony comic books.
5. Attract women with my MLP swag.

These Jerboas Look Like Real Life Pokemon

Jerboas are technically desert dwelling rodents who live primarily in Northern Africa and Asia, but let's face it- they might actually be the cutest animals in existence.
With their adorable bean shaped bodies, long spindly legs, huge ears and big, round eyes these little suckers are so darn cute that people have been keeping them as pets for years.
But what else is there to a jerboa besides their ultimate cute factor, and the fact that they look like real life Pokemon?
Head over to BuzzFeed and you can read 19 Ways Jerboas Will Instantly Win Your Heart, and don't be surprised if you find yourself suddenly wanting a little jerboa of your own!

Animal Pictures