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Saturday, May 31, 2014

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Today in History

1433 Sigismund is crowned emperor of Rome.
1678 The Godiva procession, commemorating Lady Godiva's legendary ride while naked, becomes part of the Coventry Fair.
1862 At the Battle of Fair Oaks, Union General George B. McClellan defeats Confederates outside of Richmond.
1879 New York's Madison Square Garden opens its doors for the first time.
1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania is destroyed by a massive flood.
1900 U.S. troops arrive in Peking to help put down the Boxer Rebellion.
1902 The Boer War ends with the Treaty of Vereeniging.
1909 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) holds its first conference.
1913 The 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for direct election of senators, is ratified.
1915 A German zeppelin makes an air raid on London.
1916 British and German fleets fight in the Battle of Jutland.
1928 The first flight over the Pacific takes off from Oakland.
1941 An armistice is arranged between the British and the Iraqis.
1955 The Supreme Court orders that states must end racial segregation "with all deliberate speed."
1962 Adolf Eichmann, the former SS commander, is hanged near Tel Aviv, Israel.
1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono record "Give Peace a Chance."
1974 Israel and Syria sign an agreement on the Golan Heights.
1979 Zimbabwe proclaims its independence.
1988 President Ronald Reagan arrives in Moscow, the first American president to do so in 14 years.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

 Is baby powder carcinogenic?
That working at amazon is a soul-crushing experience
About the wingnuts' strange obsession with slave mentality
RIP poet Maya Angelou
That the key to fighting HIV may be soy sauce
About why do the wingnuts have such a problem with history?
That prestigious colleges don't make you happier in work or life
About the unbearable whiteness of liberal media
Thanks, climate change!  Miami streets flooding at high tide
That pick up artists are using the Santa Barbara massacre as a marketing ploy
About these dumb moves that sound smart:  buying a house
The top 10 reasons the repugican cabal's Benghazi witch hunt is just a fund raising ploy

Wingnut Trolls Go Out Of Their Way To Offend Liberals By Trashing Maya Angelou

Since Maya Angelou she was seen as a hero by minorities, women and liberals, wingnut hacks decided to use the opportunity of her passing to be even more fowl than usual ...

We lost a great and wonderful woman this past Wednesday when Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. Angelou, who was renown not only for her groundbreaking autobiography ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,’ but also for her lovely poetry and activism. She was the quintessential American success story. She was a woman who came from pretty much nothing. She fought both racism and sexism and built herself up into one of the most respected poets and authors in the world. This was a woman who recited her own poetry at not one, but TWO, Presidential inaugurations. Her impact will be felt for decades to come.
Well, apparently because she was seen as a hero by minorities, women and liberals, some conservative writers decided to use the opportunity of her passing to take a big, giant crap on her legacy. Essentially, they felt that her death was the perfect time to troll. One blogger in particular went out of her way to be as offensive as possible. That would be Debbie Schlussel, professional hate-monger who has made it her mission to spew inflammatory rhetoric, especially when it comes to blacks and muslims.
In a blog that she posted to her personal site on Wednesday, Schlussel called Angelou a “Racist, US-hating, Anti-Semitic Nutjob.” And that was just in the title! Schlussel spent the majority of her post pointing out that Angelou was not only an awful writer, but that she was an anti-Semite for associating with the Nation of Islam and that she was a “madam and a prostitute” who fled to Africa because she hated America. Per Schlussel, she only returned to help Malcolm X build the Nation of Islam. Schlussel also points out that Angelou never contributed anything positive in her entire life.
Below are some of the worst portions of Schlussel’s post:

Once again, Billy Joel’s lyrics-”Only the Good Die Young”-are proven true, as Marguerite Ann Johnson a/k/a “Maya Angelou” dies at age 86. Angelou was America’s most overrated crappy writer, all because she was Black . . . and a far-leftist.

I was one of the lucky American kids who was never forced to read this Friend of Oprah cretin’s god-awful “writing,” the most overrated dreck on paper. Sadly, high school and college students all over America are forced to wade through her written bath of dung because it’s chic among the brainless radicals who dominate American education at all levels.

Maya Angelou did nothing good for America-not in her Grade A Gitmo Torture Material “writing” and “poems,” not in her many pretentious speeches and pronouncements.
But she’s being lauded today by the many liberal morons across America who worship at the altars of yoga, gluten-free, Priuses, and ADHD.
They like their gods empty.
Maya Angelou is one of those IQ tests pop culture presents us with all the time. If you’re a fan of Angelou, you failed miserably.
I hope she packed light because it’s very hot where she’s headed.
Maya Angelou, Rot In Hell.
You have to hand it to Schlussel…that is some grade-A trolling. But, then again, it is her specialty. Heck, it appears to be her profession. On the other hand, over at the National Review, their hacks decided to be a little more subtle in their approach. Rather than beating you over the head with a hate stick like Schlussel, hackneyed troll Tim Cavanaugh decided to use his article to give Angelou some backhanded praise, point out how boring her writing and poetry was, all while trying to paint her as a full-fledged gun nut. In fact, he titled his piece ‘R.I.P, Maya Angelou, Proud Gun Owner and User.’ He also posted a compilation video of comedian David Alan Grier impersonating Angelou.
Below is an excerpt from Cavanaugh’s piece:

I will confess that Angelou’s writings did not generally keep me up reading all night, but she had an impressive career and earned celebrity in a business — poetry — that is not known for catapulting its practitioners to megastardom. Angelou got what may have been the widest audience for her work when she read a non-rhyming poem at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Older readers may recall that “On the Pulse of Morning” seemed like a slog at the time, but I can tell you it’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” compared to Richard Blanco’s “One Today,” which rung in President Obama’s second swearing-in, and Elizabeth Alexander’s 2009 inaugural work “Praise Song for the Day,” a poem so boring economists now believe it reduced America’s 2009 GDP by a quarter of a percentage point.
Cavanaugh has already received some blowback from numerous writers, who have rightly pointed out the callous nature of his piece. Not only did he go out of his way to highlight how boring Angelou’s writing was, but he made sure to shoehorn in the fact that she owned a gun and present it as some kind proof that Angelou was a proud defender of Second Amendment rights. Cavanaugh did find a defender, however, at the Daily Caller (big surprise, considering Cavanaugh was once an editor at DC.) Betsy Rothstein spewed a piece slamming Politico’s Dylan Byers for having the temerity to criticize Cavanaugh. Apparently, because Byers isn’t a poet himself, he has no business criticizing Cavanaugh’s piece. Or something.

Who can blame Byers for being outraged? Especially since his own poetic writings clearly rival those of Angelou. Have you seen “And the wondering” — a dramatic reading of Byers’, ahem, literary blog performed by The Daily Caller’s Will Rahn? (Sure, he’s one of my editors, but without a trace of ass kissing, I can honestly say that aside from those blooper reels on MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, this is among the funnier things I’ve watched in the past few years.)

In the end, besides trolling and hoping to offend non-wingnuts, what was the point of any of these articles? Seriously, I just want one of these hackss to stand up and present the case that they weren’t just looking to ‘stir the pot’ and get a reaction.

McDonald's CEO Says the Company Pays 'Fair' Wages

"We continue to believe that we pay fair and competitive wages," stated Don Thompson, McDonald's CEO, in an annual meeting with shareholders at corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois on Thursday.
While Thompson reported that shareholders received $4.9 billion in returns in 2013, over 2,000 low-wage McDonald's workers protested outside for a $15 minimum wage and the right to unionize, resulting in over 100 arrests.
"We provide job opportunities and training for those entering the workforce," Thompson added, bringing up McDonald's Chief Operating Officer Tim Fenton as an example, who started as a crew member in 1973 and is planning to retire later this year.
The facts tell a different story. The average annual salary for fast-food workers is $18,880, putting a family of three below the poverty line. Glassdoor reports that McDonald's cashiers and "team members" average hourly pay of around $7.75.
Meanwhile, a 2013 report by the National Employment Law Project found that nearly 90 percent of fast food employees, or 3.6 million Americans, hold low wage, non-technical and non-managerial positions. In the general economy, in which managerial or professional positions make up about a third of all jobs, low-paying, entry-level jobs can realistically lead to better paying positions, as there is more room for upward mobility. However, the skewed ratio of low-level workers to managers and executives within the fast food industry means the chances of moving up the ladder for an entry-level employee are slim.

The repugican Effort To Rollback Workplace Safety Regulations is Literally Killing Americans

The fact that not adhering to regulations kills workers never seems to bother repugicans, or their business sector supporters which is why they vehemently oppose regulations ... OSHA
In a perfect world where human beings adhered to the mantra “do no harm,” there would likely be little need for rules and regulations, but the world is not perfect and humans do need rules, laws, and regulations. One of the overriding reasons humans need rules and regulations is to protect them from people who could not care less if their actions harmed others whether it is driving drunk, selling poisoned food, or forcing workers to labor in unsafe conditions. The repugicans despise regulations on businesses they claim are trustworthy and full of altruistic regard for the environment, consumers, and their workers, and decry the cost of adhering to regulations kills businesses and jobs. However, not adhering to regulations kills workers that never seems to bother repugicans, or their business sector supporters which is why they vehemently oppose regulations; especially those enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
During the 2012 presidential campaign, a large percentage of business owners complained that regulations under the Obama Administration were too costly, killed jobs, and burdensome. That was the complaint of a Wisconsin businessman, Lance Johnson, who said President Obama’s workplace safety inspectors were encumbering him and killing jobs with too much red tape. According to Johnson in a 2012 Wall Street Journal campaign story, “I’ve never been audited by more government agencies in my life than I have under Obama.” It is probably because President Obama is not the shrub and tasked OSHA regulators with actually doing their job regardless the repugican cuts to the agency.
Johnson is the president of Johnson Brass & Machine Foundry Inc., and bemoaned what he called “aggressive” OSHA regulators who subjected him to duplicative audits he claimed were unnecessary and cost him “well in the six figures.” OSHA disputed Johnson’s “duplicative audits” claim, and according to their records had proposed penalties of $9,638 for exposing workers to “apparent hazards” in 2011 which is a far cry from “well in the six figures.”
OSHA is tasked with monitoring health and safety in the workplace, and investigators will discover if the hazards they cited Johnson’s company for were corrected because on Tuesday a “catastrophic failure” of machinery injured eight workers and sent four to the hospital; two had to be airlifted to a nearby burn unit. Fortunately none of the workers’ injuries were life-threatening and according to Johnson the eight workers were “only” sprayed with molten metal on their legs and backs. Johnson did not respond to questions asking if he still hated President Obama for imposing on him with aggressive OSHA regulators he asserted were “too burdensome.”
After the horrifying industrial accident, Johnson said in a statement that, “For more than one hundred years my family has taken great pride in our safety record and our close relationship with our employees. As the fourth president of this family-owned business, I can say we are all deeply saddened by the accident at our plant.” The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported that the state fire marshal’s office assisted local police in “an ongoing investigation of the cause of the machinery failure;” the investigators were joined by federal officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Johnson was away at the time or he could have gave the overly aggressive federal OSHA regulators a piece of his mind about burdensome regulations, audits, and complained about the “lost jobs” the penalties for “apparent hazards” at the foundry cost his business.
It is not the first time a business, or industry, that complains bitterly about burdensome and costly safety regulations is the scene of industrial accidents that more often than not kill workers. The Deepwater Horizon (BP oil disaster) oil platform that exploded killing 12 workers and poured 4.9 million barrels (210 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was caused, in part, by the repugican-preferred  ”self-regulating” nature of the oil industry in 2010. Also in 2010, the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster killed 29 out of 31 miners at the site of the worst mine disaster since 1970. A state-funded independent investigation found Massey Energy directly responsible for the explosion and subsequent deaths due to “flagrant safety violations.” One of the former Massey superintendents at the mine confessed that he conspired to impede the safety enforcement efforts of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration at the directions of the mine’s owners.

Last year in Texas, the West Fertilizer plant explosion killed fifteen people, injured more than 160, and destroyed over 150 buildings because it did not have adequate, and mandatory, safeguards in place to store volatile anhydrous ammonia. The company had been investigated and cited for not even having a permit for two storage tanks in 2006, the same year the Environmental Protection Agency fined the company’s owners for failure to file a risk management plan. In 2012, the Department of Transportation further fined the company for violations regarding its storage of the chemicals that blew up, killed 15 people, and leveled the town. The common denominator in all the man-made disasters is, even with regulations in place to protect workers, the companies’ owners found them too burdensome, too costly, and they would claim “killed jobs” to bring the facilities into compliance with health and safety regulations.
Earlier this year, after a West Virginia chemical storage facility dumped toxic chemicals into the Dan River affecting drinking water for 300,000 people, repugican John Boehner insisted that the last thing the poor beleaguered “Freedom Industries” needed was more regulations. Boehner even had the temerity to blame President Obama for not enforcing regulations that repugicans refuse to enact under any conditions. In fact, repugicans think so little of workplace safety regulations they have dependably cut funding for OSHA because they just cannot have “aggressive regulators” wading in to a private business and inspecting, auditing, and penalizing businesses for apparent hazards to workers or surrounding communities.
It is understandable that business is not enamored with regulations, regulatory agencies, or in many cases their workers’ safety, especially when their sole regard is the bottom line. But their workforce is why they have a bottom line in the first place and one would expect that ensuring the health and safety of the people making them millions would be every bit as important as profits, but apparently that is not always the case. One hopes the workers who were sprayed with molten metal have a speedy recovery, and that the company owner is duly and severely punished if safety regulators, local police, and fire marshals find he held his workers in the same contempt as he does OSHA safety regulations. If history is any indication, he will likely shift the blame to lax regulatory oversight or the Black guy in the White House, or both.

The repugican cabal Hypocrites Call Vets Benefits Too Expensive But Want a $600 Billion Tax Cut for Business

hypocrisy-meterSenate repugicans blocked a $21 billion plan to build new VA clinics because they said it was too expensive, but today House Republicans advanced a $600 billion tax cut for business.
Back in February, Senate Repugicans blocked a bill that would have expanded veterans’ benefits, and built 27 new VA clinics and facilities over the next ten years, because they thought the bill was too expensive. Sen. Jeff Sessions (r-AL) spoke for the group of 41 repugican cabal obstructionists when he said, “This bill creates new veterans’ programs and it’s not paid for—it’s all borrowed money.”
The veterans benefits bill would have cost $21 billion over ten years.
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill that would give businesses a $600 billion tax cut. Democrats have been opposed to the repugican scheme to add nearly $300 billion to the deficit without paying for it. According to The Hill, “As with the research tax break, Democrats said they generally supported the incentives considered by the committee. But none of them voted for any of the tax breaks, insisting they couldn’t get on board with clearing another slate of tax breaks that would add more than $300 billion to the deficit. In all, the dozen preferences approved by the Ways and Means panel over the last four weeks cost $600 billion over a decade.”
$2.1 billion a year over ten years to provide better care for our veterans is too expensive, but $60 billion a year over the same time period is affordable as long as the money is going to the business sector. This is a case of blatant repugican hypocrisy. The repugicans are refusing to pay for their tax cuts for business, but they have the nerve to tell people who fought and bled for their country that they can’t have better medical care.
Veterans didn’t risk their lives so that the Koch brothers could have another tax cut. The repugicans would rather take from veterans and give to the business community. One year of the business tax cuts could pay for the veterans benefits nearly three times over. It’s a matter of priorities, and in the delusional repugican mind, tax cuts are more important than veterans.

The repugicans Lose Their Minds Over the Fact That the War in Afghanistan is Ending

The reaction from three repugicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee to the President's announcement that America's longest war was coming to an end was despicable and revealed…
Peacetime is generally defined as any period of time where there are no violent conflicts occurring such as the time after World War II when for Western Europe and America there was no war. For most people, the idea of no war is a goal well worth achieving, and in fact, the rare times America was able to extricate itself from war, or a war came to an end, it was a time of relief, celebration, and using wartime expenses for the good of the nation. The repugicans have a different opinion about wars than most Americans, and if one believes their rhetoric, they would keep America in a permanent state of war in several geographical locations at once.
After twelve years and seven months, it seems as if the unnecessary war in Afghanistan has gone on forever, and now that President Obama has set a timetable to finally bring an end to that war, repugicans are apoplectic the country may see a desperately-needed period of peacetime. The price of the Afghanistan war that poured billions onto the nation’s deficit is over $720 billion and counting, about $10.1 million an hour, 2,232 Americans killed, over 20,000 local Afghani civilians killed, and tens-of-thousands of combat veterans facing a lifetime of physical and psychological injuries that repugicans lust to increase.
The reaction from three repugicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee to the President’s announcement that America’s longest war was coming to an end was despicable and revealed that, in their minds, there is never a time to end war. Senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham said in a statement that the President’s decision was “irresponsible and a triumph of politics over strategy,” and a “a short-sighted decision that will make it harder to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly.” Stunningly, the three repugican warmongers repeated the same rhetoric the shrub used to perpetuate the Iraq and Afghanistan wars saying ending the war “will embolden our enemies and discourage our partners, and fuel the growing perception worldwide that America is unreliable, distracted, and unwilling to lead.”
The repugicans claimed that keeping combat forces in Afghanistan, presumably forever, would “preserve momentum on the battlefield and create conditions for a negotiated end to the conflict,” and that “any decision to end the war should be determined by conditions on the ground. The question is how the war ends.” The senators ended their end-of-war tantrum claiming that “wars do not end just because politicians say so, the president appears to have learned nothing from his disastrous decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq. The war in Iraq has ended in tragedy.”
The warmongers are wrong on both counts; politicians do end wars just by saying “no more war,” and the Iraq war ended successfully for Americans weary of violent conflict halfway around the world. Period. It is worth noting, again and again, that the so-called disastrous Iraqi sectarian violence going on today began only after America invaded and destabilized the country and has continued unabated. There was no sectarian violence, no Iranian influence, and no al Qaeda presence in Iraq until the shrub set his sights on regime change in Iraq. American forces leaving Iraq had about as much to do with sectarian violence today as the civil war that General David Patraeus and his failed surge allowed to give shia muslims clearance to eradicate Sunnis from the embattled nation.
On CNN, wingnuts S.E. Cupp and Bill Kristol claimed that “what is happening in Iraq will happen in Afghanistan. You know, we successfully went in with a surge. We pulled our troops out too soon and it has collapsed yet again into a den of terrorism. Why not commit to the job and leave when the job is done?” However, one thing repugicans criticizing President Obama’s decision yesterday could not elucidate now any more than during the entire Iraq or Afghanistan wars; what job? What is the mission? If it is defeating an insurgency, history shows time and time again that an invading army cannot defeat an insurgency; particularly in a country like Afghanistan that has been invaded, occupied, and conquered throughout its history only to revert to its natural state of perpetual infighting and tribal wars.
The American people are war weary and the nation is, and will continue to be, in debt for waging unfunded and unnecessary wars of convenience over ideology, resources, and imperialism. It is prescient that as Republicans claim this country can ill-afford to rebuild and repair its pathetic infrastructure, fund unemployment benefits, food stamps, or any other domestic programs, it can afford to continue spending $10.1 million an hour to stay in Afghanistan until “conditions on the ground determine when the war ends.” As President Obama said, “we have to recognize Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one.” It is high time that repugicans recognize that their sole responsibility is to do their jobs and make America as perfect a place as it can be and it starts with taking care of the Veterans their wars of choice created.
The repugicans oppose spending even a fraction of the amount of money to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the Veterans those wars created. In fact, over the past five years repugicans opposed spending any money on anything for this country or its people because they claim the country was broke, but they never once flinched at the cost of the wars. Likely because their corporate donors in the oil industry and military industrial complex were the beneficiaries; the troops or returning Veterans certainly did not benefit from the repugican largesse for war. It is hardly unreasonable to expect repugicans to support spending the same amount of money on Veterans, domestic programs, or rebuilding America that that are willing to continue spending to conduct the war in Afghanistan.
Americans may have thought repugicans would be as relieved that the Afghanistan war is coming to an end as they are, but they would have been sadly mistaken. It is beyond belief that President Obama’s announcement that at the end of 2014 America will enter a rare period of peacetime was met with such criticism and disgust, especially when Americans are weary of the country’s longest and completely unnecessary war. What is seriously puzzling, is that support for the war in Afghanistan is reportedly at 20% of the population, but when one considers repugicans, neo-wingnuts, and religio-wingnut warmongers love a crusade to kill innocent muslims, it is surprising the support is not greater. However, the rest of America will love the idea of entering a rare period of peacetime after over thirteen years of war, and that certainly includes war weary combat troops.

One-And-Done: How a Judge’s Ruling Will End Scott Walker’s Governorship

After a 14-month hiatus, the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker's staff got new momentum. This momentum will ultimately cost Walker the governorship. …
scott walker
As repugicans are currently grasping at straws in their never-ending attempt to somehow impeach President Barack Obama, a real scandal is brewing at the state level for one of the repugican’s, and more specifically tea party’s, golden boys.
For Koch-backed Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, his re-election campaign just got a whole lot tougher.
News broke  that thousands of pages of public records, acquired over a 33-month secret John Doe investigation involving Walker’s campaign aides, must be turned over by prosecutors to Milwaukee County. The ruling was made by retired Appeals Court Judge Neil Nettesheim, the man who had originally ordered the investigation closed in March of 2013. Should those records be turned over, copies of the them may be requested by the public thanks to Wisconsin’s open records law. Already, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has penned an editorial to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, asking him to release the records for the public to see. Should Abele release the records, they more than likely will end the political career of Scott Walker.
Ever since his political ascension in 2010, Scott Walker has been treading on thin ice. With backing from the Koch brothers, Walker rose to national stardom after he successfully gutted collective bargaining rights for union workers in Wisconsin despite massive and ongoing protests. In addition to his assault on unions, Walker also cut a billion dollars from Wisconsin’s special education budget as well as $500 million from the state’s Medicaid fund. Due to his blatant attacks against the working class, the people of Wisconsin attempted to oust Walker from the governorship in 2012 via a special recall election. However, thanks to big money backing from the Koch brothers and other wingnut allies, Walker survived the recall election and continued to serve out his term.
Unfortunately for Walker, you can only be a Koch stooge for so long before karma catches up with you.
Shortly before Walker was elected governor, Milwaukee County prosecutors launched an investigation into Walker’s campaign staff, which came to be known as the “John Doe investigation.” This investigation would go on for 33 months but would be shut down by Judge Nettesheim in March of 2013. However, some of the findings of the investigation became public early on in 2010 when Walker’s county chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch pleaded guilty to doing campaign work for Walker’s gubernatorial run while being employed at the county courthouse. Specifically, the investigation mentions two ugly incidents that involved both Scott Walker as well as his staff.
The first portion of the findings showed how Walker and his staff intentionally withheld information from the public regarding the death of fifteen-year-old Jared Kellner, after a slab of concrete fell on him in a county parking structure. This was a building that Walker had diverted funds from and then used those funds for his own personal pet projects. This incident occurred just four months prior to the gubernatorial election and showed that Walker and his staff made a concerted effort to limit press coverage to the “accident” and not the diverted funds. The second portion of the findings showed Walker and his staff using a private email system to avoid the legal archival of documents. This portion was the one that landed Walker in hot water as Walker unconvincingly tried to deny his involvement in using the system to communicate with his staff.
After the investigation was shut down in March of 2013, it appeared as though Scott Walker had dodged a major bullet. With no further opportunity to reveal the investigation’s findings, it seemed all Scott Walker’s opponents would be able to use against him would be his unethical campaigning as well as his private email setup. Unfortunately, although both of these acts were shady, neither of them would do significant damage to Scott Walker politically. However, with what little the public saw of the findings of the John Doe investigation, it became apparent that these findings were already having an impact on Scott Walker’s re-election campaign. As of Thursday afternoon, Walker was running even with Democratic candidate Mary Burke. Based on what we have already seen, if the rest of the investigation is released it will most certainly shed additional light on Walker’s other highly questionable activities. With Burke already having the momentum, it could be the death blow to Scott Walker’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
What initially seemed like a dead end politically has now given Wisconsin Democrats a prime opportunity to remove Walker and his Koch-fueled agenda from office. Thanks to consistent pressure put on by the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal and the recent change of heart by Judge Nettesheim to send the records back to the county, there is a strong chance that the rest of these records might soon see the light of day, assuming that public pressure stays loud and consistent on Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to release them to the public. If they are released, the public will get to see the real Scott Walker and if the initial part of the investigation is any indication, Wisconsin voters will have a whole new plethora of reasons to make Scott Walker a one-term governor.
For Charles and David Koch, they might need to be spending their money in other states not named Wisconsin come November.

Virginia county board says no followers of ‘pre-christian deities’ allowed to deliver prayers ...

... in direct violation of the Supreme Court Nagarkirtan, Indian religious procession. All participants wear traditional dress and turban with the emblem of the Sikh faith. Shutterstock 
County officials in Virginia have violated the constitution by designating which religious leaders can deliver prayers before public meetings, according to the state’s American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU sent a letter Thursday to the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, which had limited opening prayers to ordained leaders of monotheistic religions.
“The First Amendment requires governing bodies to allow everyone the chance to deliver prayers before official meetings,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Cult and State. “If they don’t, then what they’re doing is unconstitutional.”
A state appeals court upheld the county’s policy in a 2005 ruling, and the board has invited local clergy whose names are drawn from an official county list.
Almost all of those religious leaders have represented christian denominations, and the county has denied a Wiccan’s request to be added to the list.
Officials defended that decision, saying the “neo-pagan” faith does not fall within the judeo-christian tradition and “invokes polytheistic, pre-christian deities.”
That claim led to a lawsuit by Americans United and the ACLU, but the groups say the board continues to exclude even some monotheistic faiths, such as the county’s Sikh congregation.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision permits local municipalities to open meetings with christian prayer, but the civil liberties groups want to clarify that the ruling does not permit exclusion of non-christian faiths.
“Since most of the invited clergy (in that case) were christian, most of the prayers were christian, as well,” the letter states. “The Court found that this was not by design; rather, ‘[t]he town at no point excluded or denied an opportunity to a would-be prayer giver. Its leaders maintained that a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation.’”
The letter also said the requirement that religious leaders be ordained is problematic, because some religions do not require ordination – and some “do not have clergy at all.”

Corn "as high as an elephant's eye"

A woman above a Minnesota farmer's shoulders, 1916 (before Mosanto's GMO products).

For the movie Oklahoma "finding "corn as high as an elephant's eye" proved to be quite a challenge. Since filming was to take place out of season, no tall cornfields were to be found anywhere. The job was given to the people of the University of Arizona Agricultural Department, who planted each stalk in individual containers and held their breath. With rain and good luck, the corn grew to a height of 16 feet."

Red Bananas

Red Dacca Bananas(Musa acuminata). They are smaller and plumper than the common Cavendish banana. When ripe, raw red bananas have a flesh that is cream to light pink in color. They are also softer and sweeter than the yellow Cavendish varieties, with a slight raspberry flavor. Many red bananas are imported from producers in Asia and South America. They are a favorite in Central America but are sold throughout the world.




South Africa's Bizarre Money-Burning Sub-Culture
Izikhothane, which loosely translates to 'brag it,' is a South African subculture of youths who dress themselves in designer clothes they can barely afford. They arrive in minivans at public spots and participate in elaborate dance-offs against rival gangs.
During these performances, they indulge in burning wads of cash, destroying their clothes and spilling expensive food and alcohol on the streets. Why, you ask? To show off, obviously.

Students Upset at Altered Yearbook Photos

Portraits of female students at Wasatch County High School in Utah were altered without their knowledge for the school yearbook, a fact that only became known when the finished yearbooks arrived. Sleeves were added to some portraits, necklines were raised, and tattoos removed. The students cried foul, not so much about the Photoshoppery, but because the alterations seemed to target individuals arbitrarily. Not all sleeveless pictures were altered.
But educators said the students know the dress code and there was a sign warning them that their pictures may be edited. However, the Wasatch County Superintendent admits the school erred in not applying the same rules to each student.

“We only apologize in the sense that we want to be more consistent with what we`re trying to do in that sense we can help kids better prepare for their future by knowing how to dress appropriately for things,” said Terry E. Shoemaker, who is the superintendent of schools for the  Wasatch County School District.
This would lead a person to wonder why students were allowed to have the pictures made at all if they were violating a school dress code. There was no mention of whether any male students’ pictures were altered.  Here is a news report and a photo gallery.

Trying to Censor the Biggest Story in the World

In May of 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allies and ended the war in Europe. Big news, huh? It was news that the U.S. military wanted to censor, because they wanted to control the timing. It sounds ridiculous now, but Allied Supreme Headquarters got news outlets to agree to sit on the story. Then Edward Kennedy, Paris bureau chief for the Associated Press, leaked the story anyway.
Kennedy was one of 17 reporters handpicked by the U.S. Army to attend the German signing of its surrender in Reims, a city known for champagne about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Along with Kennedy representing the AP, other reporters were from the United Press, International News Service, Reuters, Exchange Telegraph, French and Russian news agencies, American, British, Canadian, and Australian radio networks, and two Army newspapers. On Sunday, May 6, 1945, these "lucky 17" were taken to a small airfield outside of Paris. It wasn't until they were in the air that Frank Allen, the spokesman for the Supreme Command, told reporters they were flying to Reims to cover "the impending surrender of the Germans." But reporters' access would be contingent on their promise to cooperate with American censors, he said.
Journalists later referred to this as the "pledge of the plane," a moment that would be the center of the controversy to come. Kennedy says it amounted to "a rambling talk by the general."
The Allied Supreme Command embargoed the news of the surrender for 36 hours, but Germany made the announcement, which was picked up and echoed by the British, and Kennedy could wait no longer. He sent the story through London, where is was already known, and on to the U.S. where the New York Times had it the next morning. The military suspended the AP’s press credentials for the war, and other news reporters were furious for being scooped. Kennedy was fired for his actions, but fought back and unearthed the whole story. Read what happened, and why the news of surrender was embargoed, at The Atlantic.

Rare sale of 200 WWII-era military vehicles offers tanks for the memories

Littlefield Military Auction 
Jacques Mequet Littlefied did not live an exceptionally long life, dying of cancer in 2009 at age 59. But the independently wealthy San Francisco Bay Area collector did live a wonderfully eclectic life, amassing over some four decades one of the world’s biggest collections of rolling armor. Yup, tanks. And a few other related things, including SCUD missiles, amphibious personnel carriers and anti-tank guns. It is safe to say that not outside of an actual war is one likely to find anything quite like The Littlefield Collection, 280 largely restored relics from a range of armed conflicts. While 80 of Littlefield’s prized items are destined for The Collings Foundation in Stow, Mass., a museum dedicated to the preservation of such fare, 200 lots go under Auctions America’s hammer July 11-12 at Littlefield’s former home-cum-museum in Portola Valley, Calif., just south of San Francisco.
After all, moving an M1 tank anywhere was out of the question.
“I specialize in cars and have seen my share of amazing collections, but when I saw what Mr. Littlefield had amassed at his home I was blown away,” says Ian Kelleher, whose specialist role sees him toggling between Auctions America and its renowned collector-car sister company RM Auctions. “The sheer size alone of these things is just amazing, really humbling. You just can’t ignore the presence of a SCUD or Russian ICBM missile. They’re intimidating weapons of mass destruction, but they’re also a piece of history.”
Kelleher says the auction will unfold on Littlefield’s sprawling hilltop estate, where nearly a dozen purpose-built buildings house 114 vehicles — tanks and anything else that moves — and dozens of super-sized weapons. He says the only reason the entire collection didn’t go to The Collings Foundation was that the sale was necessary for the museum to pay the transfer costs associated with the massive gift.
One lot in particular stopped Kelleher in his tracks: a 1942 Sherman M4 tank, much like the one his tank commander father drove in World War II. “It gave me chills,” he says. The tank was built by Ford, and features a 450-hp V8, not to mention a 76mm main gun and smaller machine guns. It is expected to sell for between $275,00 and $325,000.
Also up for sale is a so-called Jumbo Sherman, thought to be only one of seven or eight in existence, and is expected to fetch between $1.4 million and $1.6 million. The Jumbo appellation comes from the oversized protective plates welded onto the tank, allowing these armed vehicles to take the lead in assaults whose barrages would have knocked out standard M4s.
That unique Sherman is, however, matched by an equally rare Littlefield bird, a German Panzerkampfwagen tank that would have been a target for its American counterpart. A combination of sheer scarcity and its history — after duty in the Second World War, it made its way to Syria and was then captured by the Israelis during the famous Six Day War in 1967 — have set the Panzer’s estimated price at between $2.4 million and $2.6 million.
“Think about it, when it comes to World War II (the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion is this June) all we increasingly have left are soldiers’ letters and physical artifacts like this,” says Kelleher, noting that the Panzer is one of five select Littlefield lots being sold with a reserve. “It’s important that this survives for history’s sake.”
Among other highlights are a Soviet-made Surface to Surface Missile (SCUD-A), which came to represent that tense Cold War era ($300,000 to $350,000); a DUKW Amphibious Truck also synonymous with European and Pacific battles ($50,000 to $75,000); and a massive Combat Engineer Tractor ($20,000 to $30,000), perhaps for when your John Deere won’t cut it.
Although the Littlefield Collection will clearly generate deep fascination among historians, those usually aren’t folks rolling in cash. So who might step up to the plate come auction time? One guess would be the likes of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, whose similar historical passion led to the creation of the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Wash.
Kelleher confirms that interested parties include “existing collectors of military pieces from the United States Australia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.” While Kelleher says at first he thought generating interest in the auction would be a challenge, he’s been surprised at the number of inquiries from his connections in the collector car world.
“Many of the top (car) collectors have big estates, and it’s clear there’s a novelty in having a tank on their property,” he says. “Since most of these machines run, they could even drive around in them.”
Even if you had pockets deep enough to spring for a tank, there’s the small matter of getting a multi-ton machine from Jacques Littlefield’s California house to yours.

8 Houses Made From Things Not Intended to Be Housing Materials

Grain silos are everywhere so when they go unused, there's no much you can do with them other than tear them down or leave them sitting around -or convert them into houses, which is a great way to reuse the materials and end up with a unique house.
Alternatively, out of commission airplanes can be sold off for scrap and melted down, or they can be used for housing parts like this incredible house in Malibu that features airplane wings for the roof.
And these are only a few of the non-conventional building materials featured on this great Homes and Hues article: 8 Homes Made From Non-Traditional Materials

The Curious Life and Times of Scarecrows

It’s probably been a few months since you thought about scarecrows, but those who use them for their stated purpose build them in the spring. You have to shoo away birds as soon as you plant seeds in the ground. An article at Modern Farmer tells us about the original business of scaring birds (and other animals) away from crops with effigies, from ancient times to today. Scarecrows also carried symbolic and even supernatural messages.
Through the ages their makers worldwide have fashioned the often maudlin-looking figure to reflect images of the occult, of customs, culture, mythology, superstitions or religion. A scarecrow hung with arms outstretched on a wooden cross echoes the crucifixion as portrayed in this etching by Jim Yarbrough. To a farmer they may simply be a symbol of the death and resurrection of the crops.

Some (such as the authors of website Occult View) suggest that the scarecrow, in addition to mirroring Christ on the cross may have originally been a severe warning, a “no trespassing” symbol, likening it to the deeds of Vlad the Impaler (so named for his reported propensity for impaling and displaying enemies) or sacrifice, an offering in turn for fertile fields. In more recent times, cartoonists have skewered politicians by depicting them as scarecrows. A British wheat farmer, hoping to scare off pigeons ravaging his crop, built a scarecrow of Lady Gaga as she appeared on the 2010 Brit Awards.
These days, you are more likely to see scarecrows as just Halloween decorations. A scarecrow can be pretty raggedy and scary by the time harvest is completed, just in time for All Hallows Eve. The overview of scarecrows concludes with an interview with contemporary scarecrow artist Pumpkin Rot.

Can You Get Drunk By Drinking The Blood Of Someone Who's Drunk?

Vampires are supposedly vulnerable to a few human conditions when they drink our blood, namely the effects of drugs and alcohol coursing through the bloodstream, but can you really get drunk by drinking a drunk person’s blood?
Surely there are some vampires out there who claim they get drunk from feeding on barflies, but the line between LARPing and real life has blurred for these folks, because according to research by Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, you can’t get drunk simply by slurping on some sot’s vein sauce.
Here's what Randall has to say on the topic:
You wouldn’t throw up because because of the alcohol; you’d just throw up because you’re drinking blood. If you somehow avoided vomiting, you would have ingested a total of 2 grams of ethanol, which is the amount you’d get from one shot glass full of beer.
So the next time your buddy from Clan Brujah claims he’s been hitting the sauce inside Sammy lay this reality hammer down on him and make him question his motives for vampirism.

Treating cancer with the measles vaccine?

Well, sort of.

Yes, the cancer in a 49-year-old woman's body seems to have been successfully destroyed with the help of an experimental treatment involving the measles virus. No, it wasn't a massive dose of measles vaccine, explains Cancer Research UK.
I wanted to post this piece because that's a detail I got wrong after reading the original story about this woman, published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Instead, the woman was injected with genetically modified measles virus, specifically tailored to the job of attacking cancer. We don't know yet whether the treatment really did help destroy the cancer in this woman's body (it's worth noting that another woman, given the same treatment, didn't have as much success). But, even if it did work, the treatment isn't based on vaccines. The measles vaccine could not have possibly worked this way.
Briefly, it involves treating patients with viruses that have been genetically engineered to specifically infect cancer cells, rather than causing the particular illness that they usually bring. When injected into the body, the viruses seek out and destroy the tumor cells, multiplying inside them to create even more cancer-killing viruses. At least, that’s the theory.
To date, researchers have created oncolytic viruses from a number of different types of modified virus, including the herpes virus (which causes cold sores), pox viruses and adenovirus (common cold). But while tests in cancer cells grown in the lab and animals have been remarkably successful, this promise unfortunately hasn’t yet translated into success in clinical trials with actual cancer patients.
The idea of treating cancer with modified viruses is absolutely fascinating, but — to reiterate something that I did try to get across in the original post here — it's still highly experimental. This recent example is the first time it's really seemed to work in a live human and there's a lot more research that needs to be done before we even know if this treatment is something that is actually effective, let alone before it's available to the public.

Iron Pin May Be Western Europe's Earliest False Tooth

Iron pin may have held in place a wood or bone prosthesis.

Daily Comic Relief


This Landscape In Argentina Proves That Volcanoes Aren't Always The Enemy

In Argentina, volcanoes are nature's sculptors that created an unbelievable landscape of white labyrinth. Get lost in this deserted natural art with more than 5,000 rock formations. This area is named as Campo de Piedra Pomez or Pumice Stone Field in English.
Located in Catamarca, Argentina, this magnificent creation was made from the explosion of a volcanic stratum that spread ashes and debris that were crystallized right after. These later turned into rocks with holes created by gas escapes during its cooling stage and the dry harsh winds carved these porous rocks into an artwork that you'll witness when you get there.

Earth News

See stories of bizarre, unexpected, totally startling monsters found in the seas.
Flowers often need reproductive help from birds and bees, not to mention bats, moths, lizards and primates.
Natural climate warming caused huge ice sheet collapses in Antarctica eight times in the past 20,000 years.
A tiny bird is the oldest known bird pollinator. 
What were thought to be some of the oldest traces of life on Earth may not have been caused by life at all, new research suggests
A massive mudslide left three men missing in Western Colorado.
Peatland covers tens of thousands of miles and contains peat 23 feet underground.

Animal News

Zoo giraffes are contributing to a for-sale manure composting program at Michigan's Binder Park Zoo.
Autopsies of the mostly calf and juvenile carcasses found the whales had experienced very poor nutrition.

Slow-Footed Female Scorpions Quicker to Sting
Running speed, or lack thereof, may be at the heart of the swiftness of a female scorpion's sting.
A spider has evolved a successful way to avoid being bothered: it masquerades as an unsavory pile.
Wasps don't have to go to the hardware store for a drill bit. They have their own, which are so cleverly designed that researchers are now trying to duplicate them. Continue reading →
When a goat and donkey are separated, the goat appears ready to let life pass him by. Then the pair are reunited.
The recent discovery of a monstrous fish off the Southern California coast has people buzzing -- what other 'monsters' lurk beneath the waves?
A fossilized tooth dredged from the bottom of the English Channel near Dorset, England, belonged to a formidable Jurassic marine predator and is the largest known tooth of its kind found in the U.K.

Angels do exist

This is the beautiful Sea Angel.
The "pteropod" Clione Limacina belongs to a group of marine gastropod mollusks that lack shells.

Ancient 'Fish Lizard' Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier

Dozens of nearly complete skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles have been uncovered near a melting glacier in southern Chile.
Scientists found 46 specimens from four different species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek name means "fish lizards," were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 million to 90 million years ago.
The newly discovered skeletons are from both embryos and adults. The creatures, likely killed during a series of catastrophic mudslides, were preserved in deep-sea sediments that were later exposed by the melting glacier, the researchers said in the study, published May 22 in the journal Geological Society of America Bulletin
Ichthyosaurs had torpedo-shaped bodies with vertical flippers, and long snouts with teeth.
"They look a lot like dolphins today," said Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, a paleontologist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and the leader of the study.
Stinnesbeck and his team found the Early Cretaceous (150 million to 100 million years old) specimens near the Tyndall Glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. As the glacier melted, the rock containing the fossils became exposed, Stinnesbeck told Live Science.

Very few of the ancient reptiles have been found in South America before; only a few remnants of rib cages and vertebrae had been found.
The largest ichthyosaur skeleton unearthed in Chile measures more than 16 feet (5 meters) long. The skeletons were extremely well preserved — some even retained soft tissues. The researchers also found fossil embryos inside a female specimen. They assigned the fossils to the family Ophthalmosauridae.
These "fish lizards" probably hunted in an underwater canyon near the coastline, pursuing a diet of squidlike animals and fish, the researchers said. Occasionally, there would have been mudflows that cascaded into the water like an avalanche, and the researchers think these mudflows killed the ichthyosaurs. The animals likely became disoriented and drowned, getting sucked into the deep sea, where their bodies were entombed in the sediment, the researchers said.
Ichthyosaurs swam the seas at the same time as dinosaurs roamed the Earth and pterosaurs reigned the skies, but they may have died out before their land- and air-dwelling brethren, Stinnesbeck said. A global depletion of oxygen in the oceans, possibly due to volcanism, may have caused the extinction of these seagoing reptiles, he said.
The discovery of these creatures establishes the Chilean glacier as one of the prime sites for Early Cretaceous marine reptiles worldwide, the researchers said. But getting to the fossil site is half the battle. To reach it, the team had to drive for five hours, hike for 10 to 12 hours to camp and then hike another two hours, sometimes in heavy rain, hail or snow.
"This has been one of the toughest field camps I ever had," Stinnesbeck said.

Animal Pictures