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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Daily Drift

Ain't that the truth ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

For those interested: In World Cup play Brazil beat Croatia 3 - 1 with a little help from a rather dubious penalty call in the tourney opening game. (on a side note all goals were scored by Brazil even the 1 goal credited to Croatia - in football parlance an 'own goal' in which the offense puts the ball into the net they are defending instead of attacking - it was the first goal of the tourney ... could that be a foretelling of the play for the rest of the tourney?)

The only talent repugicans have ... !
Today  is - Blame Someone Else Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Cape Girardeau, Manteo, Mays landing, Catoosa, Yukon, Apple Valley and Goleta, United States
Santa Cruz De La Sierra, Bolivia
Joliette, Vaughan, L'ancienne-Lorette, Ottawa and Renfrew, Canada
La Pintara and Santiago, Chile
Tijuana and Mexico City, Mexico
Lima, Peru
Pocao De Pedras and Sao Paulo, Brazil
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
The Bottom, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Quito, Ecuador
Altstadt and Dortmund, Germany
Ravenna, Treviso, Padova, Ivrea and Verona, Italy
Madrid, L'Olleria and Cadiz, Spain
Krasnoyarskiy, Novosibirsk, Rostov-Na-Donu, Vladivostok and Ryazan, Russia
Zhovtivody, Ukraine
Dublin, Ireland
Roubaix and Rouen, France
Leicester and Oxford, England
Vinicne Sumice, Czech Republic
Nokia, Finland
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
Lisbon, Portugal
Copenhagen, Denmark
Kista, Sweden
Jakarta and Denpasar, Indonesia
Muscat, Oman
Mumbai, Bangalore, Tiruchchirappalli, Thiruvananthapuram, New Delhi, Jodhpur, Unjha and Kolkata, India
Nanjing, Changle and Beijing, China
Seongnam and Seoul, Korea
Bangkok, Thung Khen and Bang Khen, Thailand
Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Singapore, Singapore
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Pacific
Sydney, Australia
Sagpon and Mandaluyong City, Philippines
Papeete, French Polynesia

Today in History

1777 The Marquis de Lafayette arrives in the American colonies to help in their rebellion against Britain.
1863 Confederate forces on their way to Gettysburg clash with Union troops at the Second Battle of Winchester, Virginia.
1920 The U.S. Post Office Department rules that children may not be sent by parcel post.
1923 The French set a trade barrier between occupied Ruhr and the rest of Germany.
1927 Charles Lindbergh receives the Distinguished Flying Cross and is treated to a ticker-tape parade to celebrate his successful crossing of the Atlantic.
1940 Paris is evacuated as the Germans advance on the city.
1943 German spies land on Long Island, New York, and are soon captured.
1944 The first Germany V-1 buzz-bomb hits London.
1949 Installed by the French, Bao Dai enters Saigon to rule Vietnam.
1971 The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers.
1978 Israelis withdraw the last of their invading forces from Lebanon.
1979 Sioux Indians are awarded $105 million in compensation for the 1877 U.S. seizure of the Black Hills in South Dakota.
1983 Pioneer 10, already in space for 11 years, leaves the solar system.

Non Sequitur


President Obama Makes History By Accomplishing 100% of His Domestic Agenda

Obama’s presidency is no longer historic just because of his race, but also because this president has accomplished 100% of his domestic agenda.
Jonathan Chait summed it up, “On January 20, 2009, when Obama delivered his inaugural address as president, he outlined his coming domestic agenda in two sentences summarizing the challenges he identified: “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.” Those were the four major areas of domestic reform: economic recovery measures, health-care reform, a response to climate change, and education reform. (To the justifiable dismay of immigration advocates, Obama did not call for immigration reform at the time, and immigration reform is now the only possible remaining area for significant domestic reform.) With the announcement of the largest piece of his environmental program last Monday, Obama has now accomplished major policy responses on all these things.”
The fact that Obama has accomplished everything that he has while confronting unprecedented repugican obstruction makes what he has done all the more incredible. The repugicans set out to block the entire Obama agenda, and make him a one term president. They failed on both points.
In the face of such day to day frustration over the repugican refusal to govern, it is easy to forget how much that this president has achieved. He has ended two wars, been bold on education reform, put the economy back on track, and most importantly has delivered a healthcare reform that has helped hundreds of millions of Americans beyond the newly insured.
The repugicans love to label this president, and his presidency a failure, but nothing could be further removed from the truth. All presidents leave something undone in their domestic agenda. This isn’t the case with President Barack Obama. There is definitely more to do, but it would be a disservice to view the Obama administration as the post-shrub reboot of America.
President Obama has built a lasting legacy, and his leadership has transformed America for the better. The next president is going to have a tough act to follow trying fill the shoes of Obama.

'Syria Will Become Another Somalia'

An interview with UN Peace Envoy Brahimi 

Interview by Susanne Koelbl Interview with UN Peace Envoy Brahimi: 'Syria Will Become Another Somalia'
For almost two years, Lakhdar Brahimi sought to bring peace to Syria. But in May, the United Nations special envoy stepped down. He speaks about the stubbornness of Syrian President Assad, the mistakes of the West and the dangers presented by Islamic radicals.  More

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor loses re-election bid

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, r-Va., was stunned Tuesday, after being booted from his seat in the repugican primary by David Brat, an upstart tea party-backed economics professor.
According to the Associated Press, Brat defeated Cantor in the 7th congressional district, shocking the political establishment. While many felt Cantor would be pushed by Brat, few predicted Cantor would ultimately be toppled.
Cantor is the second-most powerful member of the U.S. House and was seen by some as a possible successor to the House speaker.
His loss to a political novice with little money marks a huge victory for the tea party movement, which supported Cantor just a few years ago.
Brat had been a thorn in Cantor's side on the campaign, casting the congressman as a Washington insider who isn't conservative enough. Last month, a feisty crowd of Brat supporters booed Cantor in front of his family at a local party convention.
Cantor was once popular in the tea party but has now become its target, with Brat leading a chorus of critics branding the incumbent as a Beltway insider who has lost touch with his conservative base at home. Cantor - who outspent Brat by at least 5-to-1, according to the most recent campaign finance reports - portrayed the challenger as too liberal for Virginia and touted his own opposition to many of President Barack Obama's policies.
Cantor's message resonated with Ken Dawson, one of 40 people who had voted two hours after his Chesterfield County polling place opened for a light-turnout election.
"The other guy doesn't know if he wants to be a Democrat or a repugican," the 72-year-old retiree said after casting his ballot for Cantor.
But Joe Mullins, who emerged from the voting booth at the same location a few minutes later, said: "There needs to be a change." The engineering company employee said he has friends who tried to arrange town hall meetings with Cantor, who declined their invitations.
Brat teaches at Randolph-Macon College, a small liberal arts school north of Richmond. He raised just more than $200,000 for his campaign, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.
Beltway-based groups also spent heavily in the race. The American Chemistry Council, whose members include many blue chip companies, spent more than $300,000 on TV ads promoting Cantor. It's the group's only independent expenditure so far this election year. Political arms of the American College of Radiology, the National Rifle Association and the National Association of Realtors also spent money on ads to promote Cantor.
Brat offset the cash disadvantage with endorsements from wingnut agitators like radio hate talk hack Laura Ingraham, and with help from local tea party agitators angry at Cantor.
Much of the campaign centered on immigration, where critics on both sides have recently taken aim at Cantor.
Brat has accused the House majority leader of being a top cheerleader for "amnesty" for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Cantor has responded forcefully by boasting in mailers of blocking Senate plans "to give illegal aliens amnesty."
It was a change in tone for Cantor, who has repeatedly voiced support for giving citizenship to certain immigrants brought illegally to the country as children. Cantor and House repugican cabal leaders have advocated a step-by-step approach rather than the comprehensive bill backed by the Senate. They've made no move to bring legislation to a vote and appear increasingly unlikely to act this year.
Cantor, a former state legislator, was elected to Congress in 2000. He became majority leader in 2011.

The shrub War Crimes Defender Admits Obama Didn’t Break Law But Should be Impeached Anyway

M MukaseyShrubWar Crimes defender, Michael Mukasey, is the latest to weigh in on Bowe Bergandahl and the repugican/tea party’s endless pursuit of a reason to impeach the president.
Mukasey admits that President Obama didn’t violate the law when he secured Bergendahl’s release, but he should be impeached anyway. Unlike Congressional repugicans, Mukasey doesn’t believe that Obama violated the 30 day notice law, though under Mukasey logic it’s because that law is unconstitutional. Still, he wants Obama to be impeached because he, Mukasey, has serious questions about this president’s prisoner swap, notwithstanding the Gitmo prisoner releases that occurred on his watch.
Mukasey became unleashed from what we all ought to hope are his constitutional moorings. Our Constitution is very clear: it takes “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”  to remove the President and other government officials from office. That’s it. But Mukasey has other ideas.
To his credit, Mukasey admits the 30-day notice requirement is unconstitutional. Never mind that even if it were constitutional, failure to give notice has no criminal penalty attached to it. NDAA Sec. 1035(d).  Not to be deterred, Mukasey makes up his own rule: that there be “serious questions about whether he should continue in office.” “Serious questions,” he says. Really? So we’re to abandon a solid place in constitutional law and rush head-long into the vast, nebulous, indeterminate, even arbitrary puddle of “should?”
Not only does the “should” standard fall short of what the Founders gave us, but it goes in a bad direction: a President can be removed if Congress merely thinks he messed up. That’s a political standard or at least a policy-oriented standard, not a criminal one. The Constitution and its very principles of checks and balances and separation of powers simply do not let Congress throw out a President because they disagree with him. No, Mr. Mukasey, not even if they have “serious questions.”
A fun side-note: officers and judges at the International Criminal Court can be removed for “serious misconduct.” Rome Statute Art. 46(1)(a).
That’s a much lower standard than outright criminality. Is Mukasey going all New World Order on us?
The one possibility we see is that Mukasey was thinking about some sort of declaration that Obama is unfit for office. The problem there is that that means going a different route than impeachment. Rather, “the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide.”
Of course, the Obama haters in Congress wouldn’t have it because this mechanism would deny them the sugar rush that comes with their inquisitions and it would mean they’d have to find another excuse to avoid doing their jobs.
The fact is repugicans just want to impeach the democratically elected President because he is both black and a Democrat. They’re willing to do whatever it takes as we’ve seen with their sham trials and lies.  Mukasey took repugican desperation to a whole new level of revisionism by making up his own rules and trying to sell them as the law.
The repugicans were just as obsessed with impeachment during Bill Clinton’s administration. Odds are they will be just as impeachment thirsty when likely Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is elected in 2016.
The fact that Barack Obama is black is an additional thorn in the tea controlled repugican cabal’s side, a thorn that has caused them to create their own facts about everything from the President’s place of birth, to his policy initiatives and his actions as president.
As time goes by Barack Obama has bested the repugicans in every way imaginable, so it’s easy to see why they are so desperate they are even willing to entertain using icky international law to pave the way to impeachment.
Obama got Bin Laden where the repugicans failed.  The disastrous policies of the shrub junta left Obama with serious messes to clean up.  The economy was on life support. We were bleeding jobs.  Obama turned all of that around with the added challenge of repugican obstructionism. Then, of course, there are the war crimes that caused extensive damage to our ability to play the world’s moral authority and defender of human rights.
Michael Mukasey defended those war crimes.  So for him to even enter this discussion takes chutzpah. Making up laws and possible resorting to the ICC statute just shows how desperate he and repugicans are to find anything that will give them an impeachment sugar rush.

Much To Faux News’ Chagrin, Majority Of repugican Voters Support Immigration Reform

bill o'reilly fox newsedited

A poll released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that a large majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Amazingly, 51% of repugican voters are in favor of citizenship for illegal immigrants, while another 17% support them receiving permanent legal resident status. Democrats (70%) and independents (61%) show greater support for citizenship. Overall, 62% of Americans are in favor of providing undocumented residents of this country a way to become legal citizens.
What is extremely interesting about this survey is that PRRI really drilled down into the details to find the key factors and demographics surrounding support of immigration reform. The ultimate findings are not all that surprising. However, it is refreshing in that it reinforced the preconceived ideas on who most opposes immigration reform and the possible reasons behind the opposition. What PRRI found is that if a person trusts Faux News, is a tea party member or a white evangelical protestant, then support for a pathway to citizenship is lower than that of other repugicans, and definitely below that of the average American voter.
Only 42% of repugicans who trust Faux News as their primary news source believe that immigrants here illegally should be provided an opportunity to become American citizens. Meanwhile, 60% of repugicans who get their news from other sources support immigration reform that leads to citizenship for undocumented workers. As for independents that trust Faux News, only 48% of them support citizenship while 66% of those who trust other sources of news media more are in favor of giving these people an opportunity to be Americans. As a point of comparison, 71% of Americans who most trust public television are in favor of immigration reform.
When looking at different christian groups, the survey found that white evangelical protestants were the only group where the majority of people did not support a path to citizenship, with 48% stating they were in favor of it. Meanwhile, 58% of white mainline protestants, 62% of minority protestants, 63% of catholics and 57% of white catholics all support giving illegal immigrants an opportunity to become citizens. 68% of unaffiliated Americans support true immigration reform. The tea party members are the ones most likely to oppose a path to citizenship and support full deportation of people here illegally. Only 37% support a path to citizenship, with another 23% in favor of green cards. Meanwhile, 37% said they would prefer that all people in this country illegally be deported.
PRRI wrote the following when discussing the greatest independent predictors for support and opposition to immigration reform:

  • The two most powerful independent predictors of support for a path to citizenship are being young (under 30 years of age) and identifying as Hispanic. Holding a four-year college degree, being female, identifying with the Democratic Party, and most trusting MSNBC as an accurate news source are also significant predictors of support for immigration reform.
  • In contrast, trust in Faux News as an accurate news source is the most powerful independent predictor of opposition to a path to citizenship. Identifying as repugican and being a born-again christian are also significant predictors of opposition to immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.

While Faux News, and other wingnut media outlets, might be hammering the idea that immigration reform will lead to the destruction of the fabric of this nation, it appears that the message isn’t taking hold. Sure, tea partiers and loyal Faux News watchers appear to be taking to the message, but not in the overwhelming numbers that you’d figure. At the same end, the majority of repugican voters are in favor of giving people here illegally a chance to become American citizens. As is always the case, Faux News is on the wrong side of history.

Tucker Carlson defends trucker after Tracy Morgan crash: Sleep driving not always reckless

by David Edwards

Faux News hack Tucker Carlson on Sunday argued that a Walmart truck driver who allegedly critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan in a car accident should not face jail time because falling asleep behind the wheel was not always reckless.
CNN reported on Sunday that 35-year-old truck driver Kevin Roper had been charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto after his tractor trailer crashed into a limo bus, causing the death of one person.
Morgan remained in the hospital in critical condition on Sunday. Two others were also injured.
According to WCAU, early reports indicated that the driver had fallen asleep, but New Jersey State Police said that they had no evidence to support that claim.
Attorney David Schwartz told Faux News on Sunday that the driver could be sentenced to jail if he was convicted of reckless driving for falling asleep behind the wheel.
"Absolutely, 5 to 10 years in jail for death by auto, which is an act of recklessness," Schwartz explained. "So, if he did fall asleep at the wheel, that's one of the ways that you could commit reckless driving in New Jersey. And certainly the fact that a death occurred, 5 to 10 years in jail."
"I'm not trying to take anything away from the tragedy of this," Carlson replied. "But 10 years in jail for falling asleep? It strikes me as very different from taking drugs, drinking. Has that ever happened? Has anybody ever actually gone to jail for falling asleep?"
"For falling asleep and causing a death?" Schwartz asked. "Absolutely."
"But, I mean sometimes people - and I'm not defending anyone here," Carlson continued. "I'm really struck by the idea that someone who falls asleep - which is something that everybody does every day, not necessarily considered an act of recklessness - does it unintentionally, nods off is a criminal."
"Tucker, if you're driving a 16-wheel truck, a truck for Walmart, and you're on the roads for the state of New Jersey, and you're drowsy and you fall asleep, it's certainly an act of recklessness," the attorney insisted. "Not an intentional murder, but it's an act of recklessness. And that's where this reckless homicide comes in."
"I can only imagine the guilt that he's already feeling," Faux News co-hack Anna Kooiman observed.
"They always survive by the way, the people who cause accidents," Carlson agreed.  

The Brain Awakening ...

Research on rats suggests the path the brain takes to regain consciousness may be even more sophisticated than thought.
Remember this piece is concerning a normal brain and not a wingnut brain. Wingnut brains are non functional and therefore cannot be used for study.

Keeping Blood Healthy

A protein may be the key to maintaining the health […]

9 Weird Food Cures that Actually Work

by Emily Main
Your Other Medicine Cabinet
Way back when Hippocrates was telling his compatriots to "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," he wasn't just talking about laying off the ancient Greek equivalent of Twinkies. Pretty much every day-to-day health ailment can be cured with a healthy diet. He knew it then, and we know it now--we just prefer to take the easy way out and reach for a pill bottle or make an appointment with an M.D. That gets expensive, not to mention inconvenient, especially when the answer for what ails you--whether it's PMS or a mild case of the blues--is no further than your refrigerator.

1. Prevent PMS with pork 'n' beans.

Both are rich in thiamine and riboflavin, two B vitamins that could prevent you from developing PMS, according to research from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The study found that women who consumed 1.9 milligrams per day if thiamine and 2.5 milligrams of riboflavin per day had a 25 to 35 percent lower risk of developing PMS than women who consumed less, but they didn't see those same benefits when they took supplements. And pork and beans are your best sources of both vitamins. Eating a 3-ounce serving of the meat and a cup of cooked beans on a regular basis will provide you with the amount you need to keep those cramps away.
2. Eat asparagus, prevent a hangover.
The leaves and shoots of this super-veggie contain enzymes that break down alcohol after heavy drinking, preventing a hangover, and even eating it the day after can tame one that is already making you miserable, according to Korean scientists. The best way to prevent a hangover, of course, is to avoid overindulging. Munch on some stalks before you head out or during your bar visit, though, and not only will you get the beneficial enzymes but your stomach will be full of food, which slows down your body's absorption of alcohol in the first place. And if you wake up the day after a binge to find you're out of asparagus, reach for one of these 10 Best Hangover Foods instead.
3. Cure kidney stones with lemonade.
Kidney stones have become a more common health complaint than heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, according to figures released this year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people suffering from them has doubled in the past 13 years. If you fall into that crowd, start downing lemonade. Lemon juice has the highest levels of citrate of any citrus juice, and that citrate helps dissolve any calcium deposits that will eventually turn into kidney stones. Squeeze your own fresh lemons to make lemonade, or buy a commercial mix. Doctors say that you can get as much citrate as you need from regular old lemonade, without having to make your teeth curl by sucking on a raw lemon.
4. Drink coffee, defeat depression.
Here's a disturbing stat: More than 10 percent of the U.S. population is now on expensive antidepressant medications. But researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health are wondering if a few cups of coffee couldn't render those drugs unnecessary. In a study published last year, they found that women who drank an average of four cups of coffee per day were 20 percent less likely to develop depression than people who didn't drink coffee, or any other caffeinated drinks, for that matter. Caffeine may protect the brain against certain neurotoxins that can cause depression, the authors wrote, or it could be nothing more than the energy lift you get from chronic, low-level exposures to the stimulant. Either way, drink up! And make sure your morning joe is certified organic. Instead, try these 11 Foods That Instantly Boost Your Mood.
5. Ward off colds with yogurt.
Start bolstering your immune system for fall and winter by downing a cup of probiotic-rich yogurt every day. Those good bacteria strengthen your immunity and have been associated with a 42 percent lower risk of getting upper respiratory infections, such as colds. The strains of probiotics are found in fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir. And while you're downing those, lay off the excess sugar, antibiotics, and stress, all of which can kill good bacteria in your gut and make you more susceptible to cold-weather ailments.
6. Prevent weight gain with red wine.

As if you needed another reason to enjoy a good glass of red wine! Researchers from Purdue University have found that a compound called piceatannol found in red wine prevents or delays immature fat cells from developing into mature fat cells. Not a drinker? The same compound exists in the seeds and skin of red grapes and blueberries. (For ultimate weight loss results, quit these 10 Sleep Habits That Cause Weight Gain, ASAP.)
7. Eat pomegranates to ward off sunburn.
Pomegranates are a rich source of ellagic acid, which can help protect your skin from UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage, according to research from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University. Aim to get the health benefits of pomegranates from whole fruits, which are a more potent form of the skin-protecting acids than juices or supplements.
8. Beat back a headache with beef liver.

Plagued by migraines? You may be suffering from a liver deficiency. Beef liver is one of the best dietary sources of the B vitamin riboflavin, which has shown some promise in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches. Of course, the effective dose is 400 milligrams of riboflavin per day, far more than you'd get from a serving of liver (about 3 milligrams). So eat your riboflavin-rich beef with other foods high in the vitamin, including dairy products and vegetables, and consider taking a supplement if you're plagued by bad headaches.
9. Eat organic, heal...anything.

Diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, infertility, obesity--there seems to be no end to the ill health effects attributed to the synthetic pesticides used on nonorganic food. And that's just on the adults who eat them. Pesticides have been linked to lower IQs and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, and there's some suspicion that pesticides on food may play a role in the development of autism. Then there's the planet: Organic farming sequesters more carbon from the atmosphere than chemical farming, and requires fewer greenhouse-gas-emitting petroleum-based fertilizers. So simply by looking for that telltale green-and-white USDA Organic seal, you're doing yourself and the planet a world of good.

Big Food Still Plans to Sue Vermont Over New GMO Labeling Law

by Jenna Mclaughlin
Last month, when Vermont passed a new law requiring food and beverage manufacturers to label genetically modified foods, Big Food went ballistic. The Grocers' Manufacturers' Association, a trade group that represents Monsanto, General Mills, Coca-Cola, and other giant food companies, warned that the labeling law-the first of its kind in the nation-was "costly" and "critically flawed," and vowed to sue the state to force it to scrap the measure.
At the heart of the debate is the question of whether states should be allowed to regulate food labeling. The GMA argues that any laws requiring manufacturers to label genetically modified food should come from the federal government-and only if the feds deem GM foods are a health risk. But Vermont lawmakers argue that the state should be able to move forward on its own. "We believe we have a right to know what's in the food we buy,"  Peter Shumlin, the state's Democratic governor, said in a statement last month.
The GMA insists that genetically modified foods are perfectly safe and pose no risks to human health: "They use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices by 15-30 percent and can help us feed a growing global population of seven billion people," the group noted in a press release. But Vermont lawmakers maintain the new law is more about transparency than health, and that customers have a right to know whether genetically modified organisms are in their food. There's popular support for that idea: 79 percent of Vermonters support labeling genetically modified food, according to a recent poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute for VTDigger, a Vermont media outlet.
That polling doesn't seem to have affected the GMA's position. The group hasn't sued yet. But when I called to ask if the GMA still planned to sue Vermont, a GMA representative referred me to last month's statement, which promises a lawsuit "in the coming weeks." Get ready, Vermont-Big Food is coming for you.

Walmart pours billions into share buybacks rather than investing in its workers

As Walmart's shareholder meeting approaches, there's a slew of news on the effect the retail giant has on the American economy-and protests against how it treats its workers. Walmart is a poster child for low wages, of course, but an updated report from Demos shows that Walmart's low wages may actually be undermining its sales. Rather than investing in good service through adequate staffing, Walmart keeps pouring its profits into share repurchases-more than $6.6 billion last year.
    Repurchases help the company meet earnings targets even when sales are down by reducing the number of shares on the market and lifting earnings for those that remain. But when buybacks are poorly timed or crowd out other investment, they can actually undermine longer term goals. In a 2012 study, analysts at Credit Suisse showed that just 36 percent of S&P 500 companies performing share buybacks returned value to shareholders above the basic cost of equity.
Instead, Walmart could be investing that money in more staffing hours, ensuring shorter lines and shelves that aren't left bare because there aren't enough workers to restock them. And it could pay its workers significantly better, ensuring an experienced workforce with low turnover.
    According to a growing body of research on human capital management in retail, experienced employees with broad knowledge of the company are better equipped to serve customers, leading to higher sales numbers and better performance overall. Research from management experts at the Wharton School of Business shows that stores see an average of $10 in new revenue for every additional dollar spent on payroll. Better staffing practices lead to higher sales, since customers can count on stocked shelves and knowledgeable employees.

Las Vegas Shooting Couple Had Been Booted From Bundy Ranch as 'Too Radical'

Las Vegas Shooting Couple Had Been Booted From Bundy Ranch as 'Too Radical' (ABC News) 
The couple suspected in Sunday’s Las Vegas shopping center shooting tried to join the armed standoff against federal agents at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch in April, but they were asked to leave for being "too radical," Bundy's son said. Jerad and Amanda Miller did not "align themselves" with the April protest’s main issues, Ammon Bundy told The Associated Press.
"Not very many people were asked to leave," he said. "I think they may have been the only ones."
Cliven Bundy, 67, has been engaged in a 20-year legal fight over cattle-grazing on federal land. The patriarch of a large Mormon family, Bundy became a wingnut folk hero of sorts because of his standoff with the government, but he later drew criticism for his comments that black people were “better off as slaves, picking cotton.”
Jerad Miller was interviewed by the media at the ranch protests, sharing his anti-government views.
"I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around," he told NBC affiliate KRNV-TV.
That interview came two months before Miller and his wife reportedly ambushed two police officers Sunday, shooting them at point-blank range inside a Las Vegas pizza buffet.
Investigators say they draped the officers' bodies with a "Don't Tread on Me" flag, pinned a swastika on them and a note that read "The revolution has begun."
Second Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said the couple's hatred fueled the attack.
"They equate government and law enforcement with fascism and with those who supported the Nazis," McMahill said.
The Millers later allegedly killed an armed civilian inside a nearby Walmart. Joseph Wilcox tried to stop their rampage, but was gunned down.
"I'm proud of him, I really am," Wilcox's sister CJ Foster said. "I just wish he hadn't done it."
When cornered by officers, Amanda Miller shot her husband several times and then herself.
A friend of the couple's, Kelley Fielder, was distraught Monday, convinced she could have done something to stop the attack. Amanda Miller cryptically told her "If I die … I die," the morning of the rampage, Fielder said.
"I got five deaths on my shoulders," Fielder said, crying. "I should have called the cops."

After Police Shoot An Unarmed Man, Justice is Meted Out With $$$

A financial settlement in the police shooting of an unarmed black man back in 2012 was achieved by the mother from a small town city government in Southern California.
According to The Los Angeles Times story titled: Mother of unarmed Pasadena teen killed by police settles with city, the mother, Anya Slaughter settled her portion of the lawsuit after Pasadena Police Department Officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen shot and killed Kendrec McDade, her oldest son, who was unarmed but posed a threat according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division report signed by Deputy District Attorney Deborah Delport.
According to the report, the shooting was justified because the officers were in the heat of pursuit, as a result of a 911 call from a man who said that McDade and another person had stolen his laptop and that both were armed. The man, Oscar Carrillo, later admitted he had lied about seeing guns because he thought it would speed up the police response time. Carrillo did jail time last year after pleading guilty to one count of falsely reporting and one count of reporting an emergency knowing the report was false, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Carrillo was charged with making a false report and was charged with a misdemeanor but was never charged with homicide. It was his false reporting that led to the death of McDade, and prosecution uses this tactic to gain a conviction. The Times further reported:
An internal review of the shooting determined that Pasadena Police Officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen, who each shot McDade four times, both acted “within departmental policy.”
According to the Los Angeles Coroner’s report, on page 20, the bullet struck McDade left side and the bullet mushroomed on his pelvis area. So as McDade was turning to his left, possibly to get on the sidewalk, he then was shot.
That first shot was fatal according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s report. McDade was shot seven to eight times. Interestingly, though the City settled with an undisclosed amount, even though the District Attorney said the shooting was justified. Why settle? Because the shooting of an unarmed black person is justifiable homicide? And waiting handcuffed in the middle of the street bleeding out also justifiable? Was the delay to the hospital according to a reporter from a local Pasadena newspaper, which may have saved McDade, justifiable?
So since the shooting death of McDade is within Pasadena’s policy, does that include the 30 minute delay which may or may not have contributed to McDade’s death? There was another shooting in Pasadena, the Paris Holloway case. According to witnesses, Pasadena Police did the same thing…waited, to take a critical care patient to the hospital.
Again is this within policy? A story by the Pasadena Star News showed that 90 percent of arrests in Pasadena are People of Color. Is that within policy? According to the City of Pasadena stats:
55.8% of Pasadenans are white, 33.0% are Latino, 13.4% are African-American, 12.7% are Asian, 0.5% are American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.0% are Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 17.5% are some other race.
One might think that whites would make a larger portion of arrests. Actually whites make less than 10 percent. Is that within policy? If no, then the shooting of McDade then is questionable, because, according to statistics, since there are more white folks, should not then the whites have 42.4 percent of getting shot because there are more white folks?
Apparently, not only is the shooting of McDade justifiable, but leading up to the shooting is also justifiable as well as after the shooting too…like waiting for an ambulance to take you to the hospital. There are a lot more questions that needs answering.

Woman Charged With Assaulting Teen Using Drone At Beach

Andrea Mears, a 24-year-old Connecticut woman, has been charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace after a teenager used his cell phone to record her assaulting him. She's heard on the video saying, "I'm gonna beat your ass, you little motherfucker." She was apparently upset that he was flying a remote control drone equipped with a camera on a public beach.
Entire Incident Captured On Teen's iPhone 
Connecticut Woman Charged In Attack Over Teen's Drone Use At Beach (LiveLeak.com)
A Westbrook woman faces assault charges after confronting a teenager who was using a drone to film above Hammonasset Beach.
Andrea Mears, 24, was charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace after an investigation into the May 12 encounter.
A video posted on the website shows the woman calling 17-year-old Austin Haughwout a pervert, striking him and ripping his shirt.
Haughwout, of Clinton, said he had been using the remote-controlled drone to get footage of the landscape from about 50 feet above the beach when he was confronted by Mears.
“When she first came up I thought it was just someone calling the cops and I didn’t think she would attack me,” Haughwout said.
Mears does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. She told television reporters that Haughwout struck her first and edited that out of the Internet video, which was recorded on his cellphone.
She can be seen in the video calling police and demanding that Haughwout stop using the drone. He can be seen moving some of the equipment before the camera starts shaking and he begins yelling that he is being assaulted.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be taking pictures of people on the beach,” Mears says in the video.
The teen said that he’s been flying remote-controlled aircraft since the age of 9 and has been using the drone since September.
He said he usually gets a positive response from people who are interested in the technology.
Mears is due in New Haven Superior Court on June 19.

Mugger falls asleep in the middle of his crime

Early Saturday morning, a 60-year-old man in New Orleans, Louisiana found himself on the wrong end of a pointed gun. He was led, by the gunman, to an ATM to withdraw money. However, as WDSU News reports, the alleged mugger, 17-year-old Meyagi Baker, didn’t get away with the crime. It wasn’t because the 60-year-old man overpowered him. It wasn’t because police spotted the crime in process. It wasn’t because a Good Samaritan jumped in to save the day. It was because Mr. Baker
New Orleans Police say that Mr. Baker was owed money by the unnamed older man he had targeted. However, after the teenager recouped what was his supposedly his, he then demanded the rest of the money in the man’s banking account. WDSU writes, “However, before the money came out Baker fell asleep.” It was then that the victim alerted police. UptownMessenger.com, an independent New Orleans-based news site, writes that Mr. Baker was, “arrested afterward and charged with a single count of armed robbery with a firearm, a conviction for [sic] which carries a mandatory sentence of 10 to 99 years.”
There is no mention of how or why Mr. Baker fell asleep.



A remarkable 9th-century swan

This is a special book from the early Middle Ages (France, 9th century). Not only does it contain a high volume of very attractive images, but these images are also not what you would expect: they are drawn, as it were, with words. They illustrate Cicero’s Aratea, a work of astronomy. Each animal represents a constellation and the written words in them are taken from an explanatory text by Hyginus (his Astronomica). His words are crucial for these images because the drawings would not exist without them. It is not often in medieval books that image and text have such a symbiotic relationship, each depending on the other for its very existence.
Image and text from Erik Kwakkel's excellent blog post.  At the link you will find five additional images of similarly-illustrated animals, and links to the digitized primary source and related materials.

Ancient telescope discovered in the Netherlands

Telescopes (and microscopes) were invented in the Netherlands.  Recently the oldest one ever was discovered during the construction of a subway in Delft.
The Dutch telescope was invented in 1608 in Middelburg. Shortly after that, Delft became a well-known producer of lens viewers, according to historians. Engravings from that time period reveal similar viewing apparatuses, but up to now, none were believed to have survived in the Netherlands. Worldwide, only 20 are known to exist. The oldest kept scopes in the Netherlands are only from the second half of the 17th century, among others from the Christiaan Huygens collection...
The antiques specialists concluded that it is a telescope from the 17th century. The primitive grinding work, and the poor quality of the glass lenses, full of bubbles and unevenness. The telescope can magnify up to five times, which was tested in the lab in Leiden. “Especially the frontmost glass is so primitive that it was hardly recognizable as a lens”, says curator Tiemen Cocquyt of Boerhaven. “But after cleaning, the telescope really works again.”
Further information from The History Blog:
Because tin corrodes so easily, none of the earlier ones were known to have survived. This one was found in an old canal where the low oxygen environment kept it from rusting into nothingness. There’s even a very slim chance that it’s the oldest telescope in the world, but it’s highly unlikely. There’s only a tiny window of possibility since Galileo started making his in 1609, the year after the first patents applications were filed in the Netherlands and the Museo Galileo in Florence has two of his from 1609-1610.

Seafarers brought Neolithic culture to Europe

How the Neolithic people found their way to Europe has […]

Iron Age warrior burial discovered in West Sussex

Archaeologists from the Thames Valley Archaeological Service have unearthed the grave of a warrior who died at around the time of Caesar's Gallic Wars, in the 50s BC. The team, led by Andy Taylor, has been excavating in advance of a new housing development on behalf of Berkeley Homes (Southern) Limited and Persimmon Homes (South Coast) Limited.
A general view of the exposed grave showing the body, bronzework and remains of the iron frame
These excavations have revealed Bronze age boundary ditches and occupation, a small hoard of four Middle Bronze Age bronze axes (palstaves), an Iron Age roundhouse and a Roman building, set amongst fields. But the chief interest lies in the finding of a rich, isolated burial, which is not part of a larger cemetery and is not otherwise distinguished from the rest of the site.
The deceased, a mature male more than 30 years old, was laid out in a grave and was accompanied by grave goods. These included three large, complete, pottery jars placed at the end of the grave, presumably containing offerings to the gods or food for the journey into the afterlife, an iron knife and several items made of bronze. One appears to be a cavalry helmet and the other a shield boss. Also present are two bronze latticework sheets highly decorated, perhaps used to cover the shield; they seem to big to be elaborate cheek-pieces for the helmet, but that is another possibility.
Close-up of the bronze shield boss and latticework
The burial and its grave goods seem to have been placed in a large coffin or casket bound by iron hoops with a further iron framed structure placed on top. The bronze objects are not well preserved and have been lifted in blocks of soil by a specialist for careful excavation and conservation in the laboratory prior to their study in detail. The provisional date of the burial from the associated pottery, which seems to have been made specially for the funeral, and may have its origins in Normandy, indicates that it took place at the very beginning of what archaeologists term the Late Iron Age, perhaps around 50BC.
The burial does not appear to be so rich as some from the 1st century BC to 1st century AD in south-east England, but shares similarities with famous graves of Late Iron Age date from Welwyn and St Albans (Herts); Colchester (Essex); and Aylesford (Kent), and less close similarities with others from the continent. All of these are likely to have been graves of princes or chiefs (or, possibly, priests) but all are dated later than this site appears to be. It is also unclear if our warrior was himself from Gaul, or simply had acquired pottery from Normandy on his campaigns.
A general view of the grave early on in its excavation. 
This photo clearly shows the iron framework and the three complete pots 
The Iron Age people of this area were in essence pro-Roman, and the Emperor Claudius, a century later, launched an invasion, initially, to restore the local king Verica to his throne. Our deceased does not seem rich enough to have been a king, but his weaponry, and likely date of death, suggest he may have been one of the mercenaries Caesar claims were accustomed to fight for the Gauls against him, which he used as one of his pretexts for his abortive invasions of England. Cross-channel links of this rather shadowy kind have long been known, but this grave is one of the most exciting pieces of evidence yet found confirming the personal nature of these connections.
The archaeological work is taking place as a requirement of the planning process on the advice of the archaeological officer of West Sussex County Council. ******************************************************************

Polish meteorite venerated by Neolithic man?

A meteorite found in the remains of a Neolithic hut in Bolkow, north west Poland, may have been used for shamanic purposes, academics have argued.
Polish meteorite venerated by Neolithic man?
A fragment of a meteorite discovered by archaeologists inside the remains of a hut dating back more than 9,000 years in Bolkowie the lake Swidwie, Western Pomerania
Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Szczecin found items including an amulet, a so-called 'magic staff' fashioned from antlers and decorated with geometrical motifs, and an engraved bone spear.
They were made about 9000 years ago.
The discovery of the meteorite, which is 8cm high and 5.3cm wide at the base, proved especially intriguing in this context.
“The meteorite was brought to the hut as an object of special significance, because it came 'from another world,” Professor Tadeusz Galinski told the Polish Press Agency.
“The item became an object in their belief system, and perhaps even a prop in the practice of shamanic magic,” he said.

The Balancing Act Of Brimham Moor's Idol Rock

Located in North Yorkshire, England, Brimham Moor is host to a huge collection of weird and wonderfully misshapen rocks. Some rocks look like dancing bears, eagles, gorillas, lovers, and even Smartie Tubes.
But the most impressive of them all is the so-called Idol Rock, a 15-foot high, 200-ton monolith sitting on a small triangular rock. Also called the Druid's Idol, folks believe it was created by the Druids to serve a mystical purpose the same way as Stonehenge.

Daily Comic Relief


Man driving tractor eluded police for two hours during 18mph pursuit

A man driving a tractor eluded police for approximately two hours on Monday night in a chase that started in Decatur, Indiana, and crossed the state line into Ohio. At around 7:30pm, the Adam’s County Sheriff’s Department said officers responded in Decatur to a report of vandalism. When they pulled up, police found a man who they said drove away from the area on a tractor. They tried to get him to pull over but said he refused.
At 18 miles per hour, the tractor drove over several sets of stop sticks, leaving several of the tyres either flat or completely gone. According Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey, at one point the tractor driver, identified as Dustin D. Clouse, 20, of Decatur, swerved in an attempt to hit a deputy. He also allegedly tried to ram several patrol cars. Clouse was eventually forced to stop due to mechanical problems.
When Clouse ignored commands to shut off the tractor and get off it, a deputy used his Taser and Clouse was taken into custody according to Sheriff Grey. Clouse was taken to Mercer Health as standard policy when a Taser is used. Once he was cleared for release from the hospital, Clouse was taken to the Mercer County Adult Detention Facility on a felony charge of fleeing and eluding. The case will be reviewed by the Mercer County and Adams County Prosecutor’s Office.
Additional charges may be filed in Ohio and/or Indiana after that review. “This was an unusual pursuit, we are happy that no one from the public, Mr. Clouse, or law enforcement was injured,” stated Sheriff Grey, “law enforcement agencies from both states worked well together to bring this to a safe conclusion.” Agencies involved in the investigation were the Adams County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Office, Decatur Police Department, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Police officer dived under eight feet of water to rescue dog from submerged pick-up truck

A police officer rescued a dog from a submerged vehicle in Carver, Massachusetts, on Saturday afternoon. A 59-year-old woman drove her pick-up truck with two dogs inside into water at South Meadow village at about 3:40pm.
The Plymouth woman and one of her dogs were able to get out but the other dog was still inside the completely submerged vehicle, police said. Officer David Harriman, a dog lover, dived into the water and was able to open the truck door and rescue the dog.
The eight-feet-deep murky water made it almost impossible to see even his hand in front of his face, Harriamn said. The dog was shaken up but in good health.
"He wasn't moving at all when I first got to him, and then when I got him to the surface, he came to," he said. "He'd been under the water for quite some time." Harriman said he didn't think twice about going in the water to rescue the crying driver's dog. 

Fugitive Canadian kangaroo found and returned home

On foot, horseback and in cars, people spread out across the western edge of St-Lazare, Quebec, on Monday to search for a fugitive kangaroo.
  Missing since Sunday evening, the kangaroo was found at around 5:30pm, after local residents spent the day searching the woods. Scared by a loud truck passing nearby on Sunday, the one-year-old, two-and-a-half-foot-tall red kangaroo named Mirka probably escaped through an open gate, farm owner Luc Lefebvre said. She was found about a kilometre from the farm, he said.
Lefebvre had said he expected Mirka would find her way back to a populated area or follow the first person she met, because she is not used to being without people. Lefebvre has been training Mirka to work as a therapy animal for children for about three months, as part of his zootherapy business, Murmurs d’animaux. The kangaroo, who is not yet fully grown, came to Lefebvre’s property from a zoo in Ontario.
Mirka is friendly and accustomed to people, and was specifically chosen for the program as an animal who will work well with children. “Contrary to popular belief, kangaroos are very, very docile creatures,” he said. The Forest Hill Senior high school in St-Lazare had sent an email on Monday afternoon advising students and parents that the kangaroo was “inoffensive,” and that residents should contact Lefebvre if they spotted her.

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