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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Daily Drift

True that ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

For those interested: In World Cup play Argentina eliminated Belgium 1-0 and the Netherlands eliminated Costa Rica 4-3 in a shootout after the match ended in a 0-0 tie in play on the twenty-fourth day of the tourney.

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Today in History

1415 Jan Hus, a Czech who spoke out against Church corruption, is burned at the stake as a heretic.
1519 Charles of Spain is elected Holy Roman emperor in Barcelona.
1535 Sir Thomas More is beheaded in England for refusing to swear allegiance to King Henry VIII as head of the Church.
1536 Jaques Cartier returns to France after discovering the St. Lawrence River in Canada.
1685 James II defeats James, the Duke of Monmouth, at the Battle of Sedgemoor, the last major battle to be fought on English soil.
1770 The entire Ottoman fleet is destroyed by the Russians at the battle of Cesme.
1788 10,000 troops are called out in Paris as unrest mounts in the poorer districts over poverty and lack of food.
1836 French General Thomas Bugeaud defeats Abd al-Kader's forces beside the Sikkak River in Algeria.
1835 John Marshall, the third chief justice of the Supreme Court, dies at the age of 79. Two days later, while tolling in his honor in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell cracks.
1854 The repugican cabal is officially organized in Jackson, Michigan.
1885 Louis Pasteur gives the first successful anti-rabies innoculation.
1944 Lieutenant Jackie Robinson of the U.S. Army, while riding a civilian bus from Camp Hoo, Texas, refuses to give up his seat to a white man.
1945 B-29 Superfortress bombers attack Honshu, Japan, using new fire-bombing techniques.
1945 Operation Overcast begins in Europe–moving Austrian and German scientists and their equipment to the United States.
1982 ronnie raygun agrees to contribute U.S. troops to the peacekeeping unit in Beruit.

Non Sequitur


How to Barbecue Meat the Right Way

At New York's Kingsford Invitational, Trace got to interview some top BBQ chefs, in search of clues about how to get the most out of the barbecuing experience.

Imperiled Amazon Indians Make 1st Contact with Outsiders

Imperiled Amazon Indians Make 1st Contact with Outsiders
Advocates are concerned by a recent uptick in sightings of uncontacted people. 
Indigenous people with no prior contact to the outside world have just emerged from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and made contact with a group of settled Indians, after being spotted migrating to evade illegal loggers, advocates say.
The news, which was released yesterday (July 2), comes after sightings of the uncontacted Indians in Brazil near the border with Peru, according to the group Survival International. Officials with the organization had warned last month that the isolated tribes face threats of disease and violence as they moved into new territory and possibly encountered other people.
"Something serious must have happened," José Carlos Meirelles, a former official with the Brazilian Indian Affairs Department FUNAI, said in a statement. "It is not normal for such a large group of uncontacted Indians to approach in this way. This is a completely new and worrying situation, and we currently do not know what has caused it."
Survival International officials said dozens of uncontacted Indians were recently spotted close to the home of the Ashaninka Indians in Brazil's Acre state along the Envira River, while a government investigation in the region uncovered more ephemeral traces of the tribe on the move: footprints, temporary camps and food leftovers. On Sunday (June 29), reports suggest, the vulnerable group of Indians made contact with the Asháninka.
Advocates think the Indians crossed into Brazil from Peru to escape drug traffickers and illegal loggers who started working in their territory, Fiona Watson, research and field director for Survival International, told Live Science in an email.
Advocates warned this could be a deadly development.
As they travel, the tribe may be at risk of clashes with other groups and contagious diseases to which they have no immunity. Illnesses like the flu and malaria, for example, devastated the Zo'e tribe in northern Brazil after Christian missionaries established a base camp in the area in the 1980s.
"I am from the same area as they are," Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Indian from Brazil's Acre state, said in a statement. "It is very worrying that my relatives are at risk of disappearing. It shows the injustice that we face today. They are even more vulnerable because they can’t communicate with the authorities. Both governments must act now to protect and to stop a disaster against my people," added Yawanawá, who joined Survival to speak out for the rights of such indigenous peoples.
Another uncontacted tribe was famously photographed near the Brazil-Peru border in 2008. Images released by Survival International at the time showed men pointing arrows at the plane photographing them. In 2011, a government post that was monitoring the area was overrun by illegal loggers and drug smugglers.
"International borders don't exist for uncontacted tribes, which is why Peru and Brazil must work together to prevent lives being lost," Survival director Stephen Corry urged in the statement. "Both governments must act now if their uncontacted citizens are to survive.

Have We Been Reading the Declaration of Independence All Wrong?

Have We Been Reading the Declaration of Independence All Wrong?
Have We Been Reading the Declaration of Independence All Wrong?
Here's some fun news for the Fourth of July: America might be reading an important passage of the Declaration of Independence all wrong. A scholar's argument that an authoritative transcription of the Declaration contains a period that isn't actually in the original document has convinced the National Archives to re-examine their presentation of the document. That's according to a well-timed New York Times story on the controversy, which could change how we read the passage beginning "We hold these truths to be self-evident." 
First, let's pinpoint what's in question here. The official transcription from the National Archives reads (emphasis ours): 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
See that period? According to Princeton professor Danielle Allen, it's not actually in the original document. If she's right, then the individual rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" would share a sentence with what follows: 
— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Allen, speaking to the Times, argues that Thomas Jefferson intended to emphasize the second part of this passage — the role of the government — equally with the individual rights in the first part. Instead, with the period in place, there's an implied hierarchy. So you can begin to see how one little punctuation mark's presence or absence could become the subject of heated debate among those who have strong opinions about the role of government as it concerns individual liberty. Although the punctuation mark is still very much up for debate among experts, Allen has convinced several scholars that she might be on to something. The National Archives told the Times that they "want to take advantage of this possible new discovery" and find a way to re-examine the incredibly fragile original Declaration of Independence. 
And that brings us to why it's so difficult to get to the bottom of this question. The handful of facsimiles that are considered early, authoritative copies of the original document differ on the presence of the period, although Allen argues that the bulk of those early copies — including the "Rough Draft" of the document — support her conclusions. So the original document could be the only thing that could put this line of questioning to rest. But the 1776 original, stored in a complex preservation system along with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, is in really, really bad shape. It's more or less illegible. The National Archive will try to use new imaging technology to get a clearer picture of the mark in question, but it's not guaranteed to be conclusive. 
If it does turn out that Allen is right, however, it would hardly be the first time a founding document has contained an error or a revision. The Constitution is basically full of small errors, for instance. And in 2010, the Library of Congress announced that it had discovered evidence of a big correction Jefferson himself made to the rough draft of the Declaration: Jefferson initially wrote the word "subjects" at one point, but later smudged out the word and wrote a different one in its place: "citizens."

Just following the logic ...


After Getting Busted Congress Caves and Will Require Members To Disclose Trips From Lobbyists

dollar-shockThe House Ethics Committee caved to public pressure, and quickly reversed itself two days after a secret ruling that changed eliminated a rule requiring members of Congress to publicly disclose the free trips they were getting from lobbyists.
A few days ago, we wrote about the House Ethics Committee secretly eliminating a rule that required members of Congress to disclose free trips worth tens of thousands of dollars that were paid for by lobbyists. It was ironic that the House Ethics Committee made a secret decision that was designed to avoid transparency.
After a great public outcry, the House Ethics Committee quickly reversed course.
According to The Hill, “House Ethics Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said Thursday on a local Texas radio program that his panel would overturn a change to annual disclosure forms that removed the requirement of lawmakers to report on privately funded trips.”
By not publicizing the change in the rules, it was clear that the House Ethics Committee knew what they were doing was wrong. Members of Congress often think that they can sneak things past the folks back home, but in the age of the Internet, someone is always watching. As soon as a bit of light was shined on the subject, the members of the Ethics Committee quickly backtracked.
The Citizens United decision has allowed corporate and billionaire dollars to have too much influence over the nation’s politics. The reason for the gridlock in Congress is because repugican members of the House and Senate work for their big money donors, not the repugican cabal, or their constituents. This decision by the Ethics Committee was a sign that many members of Congress wanted to be bought with luxury trips and private jet rides.
The American people told them no, and Congress was delivered a stern reminder that it doesn’t matter who writes the checks for their reelection campaigns, they work for the people.

The Koch Brothers Respond To Getting Busted For Running a Dishonest Ad With Bigger Lies

The Koch brothers had to pull an ad they were running against Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX) after a television station refused to air it because it was dishonest.…
The Koch brothers had to pull an ad they were running against Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX) after a television station refused to air it because it was dishonest. The Kochs responded by editing the ad to make it even more dishonest.
Here is the original ad that a television station refused to air:
Here is the original ad text:
They are our veterans. They gave their all, for us. But Washington isn’t protecting them. Our Texas VA clinics have some of the longest wait times in the nation. And these waits can be deadly. Congressman Pete Gallego admits he knew about it, yet did nothing to fix it. Refused to cosponsor the VA Management Accountability Act. Tell Pete Gallego fight for our veterans. Hold the VA accountable.
The problem is that the allegation made in the ad is false. The ad claims that Gallego was against the VA Management Accountability Act, but the Democratic congressman voted for the bill.
After a local NBC affiliate pulled the ad, the Koch brothers responded with a minor edit to the ad that was still a lie.
Here is the new text of the ad:
These are our veterans. They gave their all, for us. But Washington isn’t protecting them. Our Texas VA clinics have some of the longest wait times in the nation. And these waits can be deadly. Congressman Pete Gallego admits he knew about it, yet he let our veterans wait. And refused to cosponsor the VA Management Accountability Act. Tell Pete Gallego fight for our veterans. Hold the VA accountable.
The Gallego campaign responded with a statement, “We appreciate this Koch Brothers front group admitting that their first ad was a lie and taking it down but this new ad is actually even more dishonest. Texas veterans deserve much better than to be the target of this misinformation campaign from our opponent’s extremist friends.”
One of the biggest problems with our current campaign finance system is that not only can the Koch brothers lie at will, but there is no penalty for their lies. In fact, it can be beneficial to a repugican candidate to flood the airwaves with lies about their opponent as long as the source is a shady dark money group that can never be held accountable.
These tactics are less effective against well-funded candidates in Senate and presidential contests, but in a House race where incumbent Democrats may have few if any outside groups working to debunk the lies, candidates are often left to fend for themselves as the Koch machine dumps millions of dollars worth of false ads into a congressional district.
The Koch front groups don’t need to worry about apologizing when they get caught in a lie. They just double down and spread an even bigger lie. House races across the country are where the toxic impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision can be seen every day. Democrats are fighting back in every way that they can, but the playing field won’t be level until the Koch dollars are out of our campaign finance system.

The KKK: your friendly neighborhood bigots

by Scott Kaufman
Members of the Maryland-based Traditional Rebel Knights of the Ku Klux Klan held a rally at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania on Saturday.
From a stage in a fenced-off area of the park, speakers delivered diatribes against the conventional foes of the white nationalist organization - minorities, homosexuals, and President Barack Obama.
"The only solution is an all-white revolution," The 'patriot' news reported one Klansman as having preached.
"We are taking back this land," and shouted. "Anyone stands in our way, they're going in the ground."

Our Liberty is Under Siege From Within

We are under siege this July Fourth. We can only resist with our love of liberty, for it is liberty that is the beating heart of liberalism…
The Fourth of July is supposed to be a time of celebration for Americans, a celebration of not only our independence from Great Britain (when news of the Declaration of Independence’s signing reached George Washington, he was entrenched in New York City, awaiting the British assault with an army that was uncertain what it was fighting for), but for what we hold so dear today, the Declaration’s assertion of individual rights, that all men are created equal.
Abraham Lincoln wrote a paean of praise to the Declaration’s author in 1859:
All honor to Jefferson – to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecaste, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, and so to embalm it there, that today and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.
Whether Jefferson knew what he was doing when he inserted the abstract truth of the preamble (and debate continues), today we are left to think, “if only the Constitution were a stumbling block.” It has proven to be anything but to wingnut demagogues, who praise it while trampling it underfoot.
The Fourth has become instead a time of mourning. Good news is hard to come by in this late afternoon of empire and more precious than gold. If you thought the War on Women was bad previously, it has gotten much, much worse. The Supreme Court has decided in contravention of the Constitution that not only are all of us not equal – namely women – but that NONE of us are equal to a corporation, an obscene concept that never occurred to the Founding Fathers.
As we go through the Fourth of July weekend, we are told we should thank Ted Nugent for our freedoms as he “‘we the people[s]‘ on with all [he's] got.” His “rugged individual independence” and manly “‘we the people’ hell-raising duties,” he writes at Wing Nut Daily, are all that is keeping America together.
If grilled food on the 4th makes the mouth water like nothing else, I cannot imagine anything less appetizing than the Nugentian ego. I cannot consume that. I will stick to something more genuinely American than Nugent’s racist demagoguery – potato salad.
What should prey on Americans’ minds this summer is not only global warming and the spector of war, but the thought that it is almost certainly only a matter of time until corporations, having won personhood and religion, gain the right to vote – not through buying elections as they do currently – but outright voting. And you can be certain too that a corporation will have more votes than you or I.
There are so many issues before us this summer that it is impossible to put them in any particular order. As I sit down to write, a few come to mind immediately:
We’ve got repugicans worried about imaginary immigrants carrying Ebola virus but unconcerned that climate change introducing a new and very real mosquito-borne virus.
We are being besieged by repugicans who would rather destroy America than let it be destroyed (they say) by Democrats.
We have Maine’s repugican governor, Paul LePage, has even met with members of a domestic terrorist group which has killed six police officers since 2000, yet Faux News can’t stop talking about Bill Ayers and Barack Obama.
We have the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), which was meant to protect vulnerable minority religions, being used as a club for the world’s largest religion, christianity, to beat down those very same minority religions.
Obscenely then, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling will now be used to metaphorically burn gays at the stake because they don’t do what christians want them to do. Arguments for this entirely unnecessary law are disingenuous at best, and nobody seriously believes the Supreme Court would have ruled as it did had Hobby Lobby’s owners been muslim.
If any of this makes sense to you, raise your hand.
If John Adams did not say (and there is no evidence that he did outside of a Broadway musical), “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm; and that three or more become a Congress!” then he should have.
As Marci A. Hamilton. chair in public law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, writes in an op-ed for the New York Times,
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act should be repealed because it is unconstitutional, unprincipled and a sword believers gladly wield against nonbelievers.
That’s common sense Thomas Paine could have wrapped his head around.
Once upon a time – in the medieval world and into the early modern era – dynastic rights were, writes historian Lauro Martines, “somehow embedded in ‘natural law’” and even in “divine” law, an attitude epitomized by Charles V, who insisted that “all kingdoms and territories” were “given to him by god.” [1] Powerful men can convince themselves of anything if it means a continuation of their power.
King George III, Thomas Paine’s “Royal Brute of Britain,” whose gilded statue on Bowling Green Washington’s soldiers tore down when they were told of the Declaration of Independence,[2] was of the same frame of mind, insisting that monarchy was essential to liberty,[3] an idea that the ancient Romans of the Republic would have rejected out of hand.
Our repugicans of today are less wise than those Romans, and remind us of nothing so much as the kings of the 16th century, those of “Spain, France, Sweden and England,” catholic and protestant alike, who believed that “the wrong religious view was treason.”[4] This is the message we hear trumpeted today from the religio-wingnuts.
As we know, the Founding Fathers turned his paradigm on its head and ran with it, never looking back. They would still be running had repugicans not thrown the wall of corporate personhood in their path.
Now, corporations have turned it on its head again, insisting it is from them all political power derives, and what power they can afford, they have a natural right to. The Supreme Court seems inclined to agree. Money talks. They have money, the American people do not, because the repugicans have ensured that the corporations have our money.
And if corporations are metaphorically disemboweling our democracy, the religio-wingnuts' culture war is doing no less: In the Thirty Years War, monotheistic christians did what monotheistic jews had done in old testament times, and disemboweled pregnant women for god and god, unsurprisingly did not intervene, yet today’s religio-wingnuts insist the great heavenly disemboweler will intervene to stop abortion. Apparently, only god and his followers – at his real or imagined command – can abort fetuses.
We are under siege this July Fourth. We can only resist with our love of liberty – for it is love of liberty that is the beating heart of liberalism – while we face the specter of a yawning status quo that has become a sort of black hole to all our dreams and aspirations, drawing us inexorably back to the superstition-ridden world of the 13th century, back when the idea of a free thought was treason.

The christian wingnuts Are Trying To Use Hobby Lobby To Discriminate Against Gays

imageConsequence is the result of an action, and it is often the case that there are many more consequences to one action than first meets the eye. Earlier this week, the wingnut Supreme Court issued an action whose immediate consequence was allowing corporations that pray, worship, and adhere to deeply-held religious beliefs to withhold contraceptives from health insurance prescription plans affecting women. However, within 24 hours, the Court’s action in the Hobby Lobby case produced another, in what will be a long list of, consequences for the American people.
On Tuesday, the day after the Hobby Lobby ruling was announced, a group of christian faith leaders issued a letter to President Obama urging him to give a religious exemption in his yet unannounced LGBT anti-discrimination action. Obviously, the “faith leaders” wasted little time taking advantage of the new freedom of religion exemption courtesy of the wingnuts on the High Court, and they argued that the Court’s ruling is proof positive that the Obama Administration had better start showing deference to the biblical prerogatives of christians. So much for the ridiculous assertion by the Supreme Court and many pundits that “only women” are affected by the “narrow” Hobby Lobby ruling because the floodgates have not yet been opened.
The call for a religious exemption did not come from evangelical extremists per se, but from a group of faith leaders regarded as generally friendly to the administration; including many who closely advised the Obama Administration on issues such as immigration reform. The letter demanding an exemption from the forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action was organized by Michael Wear who worked in the White House and organized faith outreach for the president’s 2012 campaign. It was also signed by two members of catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Maybe the President regrets intertwining government and religion when he continued the shrub’s faith-based initiatives. Now they are using their connection to the White House to exact recompense in the form of permission to discriminate against the gay community according to their “deeply-held religious beliefs” the Supreme Court cited mercilessly in its ruling for Hobby Lobby.
In their letter to the President, the faith leaders asked “that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.” Michael Wear said, “This is not an antagonistic letter by any means,” but in the wake of the Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, “the administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues.” Recalibration means pander to the faith groups and exempt them from following laws against discriminating against the gay community on religious grounds.
The faith groups did not ask for a religious exemption last week when the administration announced the President would issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; something the gay community has sought for a long time. But with the High Court laying down the law that the rights of groups with deeply held religious beliefs take precedent over every other American, the “White House friendly” faith leaders acted within 24 hours to demand religious redress of an order that has not been issued. The faith groups claim that an order banning discrimination against the gay community would essentially impose similar provisions of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on federal contractors; EDNA passed the Senate but the teabagger House refuses to take up the issue because gays, same-sex marriage, abomination to god, bible, and the religious right.
The temerity of the religious groups to demand the President defer to “christian prerogative” is that the text of the order has not yet been released. They do not even know whether it will include a religious exemption, but they are preemptively appealing for deference on the basis of Hobby Lobby. The Senate version of ENDA does include such an exemption, but it specifically does not apply to a broad array of faith-based organizations, meaning that some groups could still legally and openly refuse to hire gay or transgender people by claiming it conflicts with their faith-based gay hate; but now with Hobby Lobby everything changed.
The director of the Institute for Policy Research and catholic Studies at catholic University, a signatory to the letter, Stephen Schneck, said the faith community “simply wants to make sure its side is respected;” some would say it simply wants its side obeyed. Schneck fairly concurred and said, “It would be nice if we had just a little bit more leverage. I am aware that this is an issue that provokes real differences among some of the most important religious organization on the front lines providing care for the poorest and most vulnerable;” with taxpayer and federal dollars. He said those groups have to be allowed to work with the government within the confines of their faith; using federal dollars that by all accounts puts government in the religious business.
According to the former religious “White House friendlies,” the Hobby Lobby ruling should prompt the White House to reexamine, and acknowledge the importance and power of groups demanding their religious rights against the priorities of every other group. What that means for future legislation, Administration policies, and executive actions according to the faith groups is that hacking away at the rights of all Americans is now the way forward to accommodate the religious right.
Americans had better get accustomed to every Presidential action and congressional legislation being closely monitored and remediated by all manner of christian faith groups now that the High Court opened a Pandora’s box. It does not mean that President Obama is going to bend to the will of the religio-wingnuts on anything, but it does mean he will have to tread lightly, or face a rash of lawsuits the judicial system now has a Supreme Court precedent to enforce.
It is important to keep in mind the faith groups refrained from asking for special religious dispensation until after the Hobby Lobby ruling was announced and not last week when the President announced he was going to take action to ban discrimination against the gay community. The prompt letter to the President within a day of the Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling does not bode well for the nation and is a portent of what is certainly in the works in the coming months and years. And what is in the works is a concerted effort to eliminate anti-discrimination laws on the basis of ” deeply held religious beliefs” that may not be the death knell of the 14th Amendment, but it is going to be the beginning of the end of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for anyone remotely dependent or affected by faith groups and one shudders at where it will eventually end; if it ends at all.

How Hobby Lobby Undermined The Very Idea of a Corporation

by Alex Park
Alito signs his oath card in the Justices Conference Room
Here's one more reason to worry about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed the arts and crafts chain to block insurance coverage of contraception for female employees because of the owners' religious objections: It could screw up corporate law.
This gets complicated, but bear with us. Basically, what you need to know is that if you and some friends start a company that makes a lot of money, you'll be rich, but if it incurs a lot of debt and fails, you won't be left to pay its bills. The Supreme Court affirmed this arrangement in a 2001 case, Cedric Kushner Promotions vs. Don King:
linguistically speaking, the employee and the corporation are different “persons,” even where the employee is the corporation’s sole owner. After all, incorporation’s basic purpose is to create a distinct legal entity, with legal rights, obligations, powers, and privileges different from those of the natural individuals who created it, who own it, or whom it employs.
That separation is what legal and business scholars call the "corporate veil," and it's fundamental to the entire operation. Now, thanks to the Hobby Lobby case, it's in question. By letting Hobby Lobby's owners assert their personal religious rights over an entire corporation, the Supreme Court has poked a major hole in the veil. In other words, if a company is not truly separate from its owners, the owners could be made responsible for its debts and other burdens. "If religious shareholders can do it, why can’t creditors and government regulators pierce the corporate veil in the other direction?" Burt Neuborne, a law professor at New York University, asked in an email.
That's a question raised by 44 other law professors, who filed a friends-of-the-court brief that implored the Court to reject Hobby Lobby's argument and hold the veil in place. Here's what they argued:
Allowing a corporation, through either shareholder vote or board resolution, to take on and assert the religious beliefs of its shareholders in order to avoid having to comply with a generally-applicable law with a secular purpose is fundamentally at odds with the entire concept of incorporation. Creating such an unprecedented and idiosyncratic tear in the corporate veil would also carry with it unintended consequences, many of which are not easily foreseen.
In his opinion for Hobby Lobby, Justice Samuel Alito's insisted the decision should be narrowly applied to the peculiarities of the case. But as my colleague Pat Caldwell writes, the logic of the argument is likely to invite a tide of new lawsuits, all with their own unintended consequences.
Small wonder, then, that despite congressional Republicans defending the Hobby Lobby decision as a victory for American business against the nanny state, the US Chamber of Commerce—the country's main big business lobby—was quiet on the issue. Even more telling: Despite a record tide of friends-of-the-court briefs, not one Fortune 500 weighed in on the case. In fact, as David H. Gans at Slate pointed out in March, about the only sizeable business-friendly groups that did file briefs with the court were the US Women's Chamber of Commerce and the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Both sided against Hobby Lobby.

Supreme Court continues to work on building a poor working class for their business friends

by Ian Millhiser
In a 5-4 decision [written] by Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to public sector unions on Monday, although the opinion fell short of the claim made by the anti-union litigation shop that argued that case, which sought to undermine the finances of all public sector unions. The plaintiffs in this case, and their anti-union attorneys, argued that non-union members cannot be required to reimburse unions that bargain on their behalf for the costs it incurred during that bargaining. Without those reimbursements, the financial viability of the unions is in jeopardy.
Alito's opinion in Harris v. Quinn recognizes a category of "partial public employees" who cannot be required to contribute funds to the collective bargaining that they benefit from. This case involved Medicaid home health workers who are paid by the state but who work directly for individual patients. Nevertheless, the case hints that the Court will deal additional blows to public sector unions in the future. Alito labels a seminal Supreme Court opinion allowing unions to collect reimbursements from nonmembers "questionable on several grounds."
Harris is a First Amendment decision. As Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out at the oral arguments in Harris, and as Emily Bazelon expands upon over at Slate, Harris is the latest effort by conservatives to use "the First Amendment as their weapon" in order to implement their preferred policies through the judiciary. The purpose of the First Amendment, is to ensure a robust debate where no ideas are suppressed, so that the American electorate is best equipped to make choices at the polls. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained in 1919, "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."
Harris, however, turns this principle on its head. As Justice Elena Kagan laid out at oral argument, [s]ince 1948 . . . there has been a debate in every State across this country about whether to be a right-to-work State and people have disagreed. Some States say yes, some States say no. It raises considerable heat and passion and tension, as we recently saw in Wisconsin. And - but, you know, these are public policy choices that States make." The plaintiffs in Harris argued, in Kagan's words, that "people have been debating the wrong question when they've been debating that, because, in fact, a right-to-work law is constitutionally compelled."

In case you had forgotten - Wal*Mart wants their workers poor and dependent on welfare

by Bryce Covert
Walmart is known for resisting efforts to unionize its American workforce. But in Canada, one of its stores actually voted to join a union - and then six months later, the company shut the store down.
In September of 2004, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) was certified as a representative of employees in a store in Jonquiere, Quebec. In April 2005, just before an arbitrator was about to impose a collective agreement, Walmart closed the store.
On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Walmart violated Quebec's labor laws in doing so. It found that the company closed the store during a freeze period codified in the law, which limits a business's ability to change working conditions from the time that employees file to unionize to when they have a contract, go on strike, or are locked out. The court ruled that Walmart ran afoul of this law without a valid reason for closing the store, which never re-opened.  

The truth be told


Most Men Would Rather Receive Electric Shocks Than Sit Quietly with Their Thoughts

Last week, we dared you to sit quietly and watch a 3 minute video in which nothing happened. A lot of you found it too difficult to endure.
Can you sit quietly, alone, doing nothing? Can you resist the distractions of your cell phone and other electronic devices?
A study conducted by psychology professor Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia decided to test the human capacity to endure boredom. Dr. Wilson asked subjects of both genders and a wide variety of ages to sit quietly, alone in a room, for several minutes while staying awake and not doing anything. Participants were told to do nothing except amuse themselves with their own thoughts.
In his experiments, Dr. Wilson gave participants the choice between doing nothing and administering themselves electric shocks. 25% of women and 67% of men shocked themselves to avoid the agony of the alternative. Rachel Feltman writes for the Washington Post:
The researchers removed the curiosity factor by giving subjects a sample shock beforehand. They even asked them how much they would pay, given a $5 allowance, to prevent another shock. Most offered up a hypothetical dollar or two. But when left alone in the room for a 15-minute thinking session, the participants exhibited some shocking behavior. One man (whose data was left out of the study) shocked himself 190 times. “I have no idea what was going on there,” Wilson said. “But for most people, it was more like seven times.”

Homer Simpson's Car Design Was Actually Ingenious

The Simpsons episode "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?" reunited Homer with his long-lost brother, Herb Powell. Herb, who was voiced by Danny DeVito, was a highly successful car manufacturing executive. He was so overcome with emotion upon meeting his brother that he asked Homer to design a new car.
Homer gladly did so, devising a radical car design that he named "The Homer," after himself. The Homer, priced at $82,000, was "powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball." It was also a catastrophe that promptly drove Herb's company into bankruptcy and Herb himself into poverty.
Last year, custom car builders modified a pre-existing car to look like The Homer. It's an impressive machine. But Alexander George of Wired would like for us to look at Homer Simpson's original specifications. George argues that The Homer was actually a work of genius, far ahead of its time when the episode aired in 1991. Actual cars now have many of the features that Homer put into his prototype:
A ball on the antenna (remember those?) so you can find it in a parking lot
Antennas have been replaced with 4G LTE connectivity, so Homer’s simple solution doesn’t work anymore. But there are lots of apps and even hardware to help drivers find their parked cars, so the industry has got this one covered.
Multiples horns, all of which play “La Cucaracha”
Automakers have stuck with standard noises (good choice), but today’s steering wheels do have multiple spots to hit for the horn. As Homer says, “You can never find a horn when you’re mad.”
A separate soundproof bubble dome for kids, with optional restraints and muzzles
The auto industry has gotten more and more careful about putting kids as old as 12 in child and booster seats, but the focus there is safety, not keeping them quiet.

Drunk Driver Leads Cops on High Speed Chase to Her Preferred Jail

A police officer in Chickasha, Oklahoma saw a van driving about 5-10 miles over the speed limit. He decided to stop it. But the driver did not pull over. Instead, she began driving very quickly, leading officers on a chase that reached speeds as high as 100 miles per hour.
She eventually stopped. Police arrested her and everyone in the van, all of whom were drunk. The driver explained why she decided to run from the police. She wanted to be arrested in a different county because she preferred its jail. News 9 reports:
"Apparently the driver did not want to go to jail in Grady County," said McClain. "She wanted to go to jail in Caddo County was her explanation as to why she did not pull over."
The suspect did not get her wish. She pulled over while still in Grady County.

Dad arrested after leaving 11-year-old daughter with loaded gun while he had his head tattooed

An Albuquerque dad is in trouble after police said he left a loaded gun with his 11-year-old daughter recently, telling her to use it for protection.
John Ruiz was getting a tattoo on his head when he left the girl alone with the gun. Police said a nervous neighbor called officers after spotting the child with the pistol by her side while she was hanging out at an apartment complex swimming pool in northeast Albuquerque this past weekend.
The girl told investigators her dad said the gun is there in case someone breaks in. She said he keeps it on the counter or under his pillow. Neighbors, who requested anonymity, said they just want to make sure the gun stays out of the hands of a child.

Ruiz, 41, told police his daughter is not supposed to take the gun out of the house, but admitted she’s done that in the past. He’s been charged with endangering a child’s life or health and was released from jail on a $15,000 bond. The girl is still in his custody and the Children, Youth and Families Department is investigating the case.




10 Facts About Firecrackers That Will Blow You Away
Firecrackers are essentially un-American, even though they are associated with a deeply patriotic celebration, the Fourth of July. The fact is that firecrackers are foreign-born novelties, and have been as long as Americans have lit them for a noisy salute to the nation's birth. As it turns out, firecracker history is as colorful and complicated as the lithographed artwork used to sell them.
Warren Dotz, a pop-culture historian, collector, and author of many books, including a pair on cat and dog food labels, spoke with Collectors Weekly about their story.


Welcome to LE CABARET DE L’ENFER, a turn of the century Parisian nightclub modelled after Hell. Take a look inside: here

Amelia Earhart's Disappearance

A piece of aluminum sheeting found on the island where Earhart is thought to have died might match pictures of a window patch on her plane.

14 Of History's Craziest Baldness Cures

When your hairline starts to retreat, you'll do whatever it takes to keep your head from turning into a volleyball. If Rogaine fails you, there are always these quack remedies from the past.

A history of Down Syndrome

From their inclusion in 16th-century paintings to their roles in famous families (including, probably, Darwin's), people with Down Syndrome are part of history.
At the Down Wit Dat blog, there's a 8-part (with more on the way) feature that provides some much-needed inclusion to people who are usually just a footnote to somebody else's history. Naturally, the series delves into ideas like eugenics and the institutionalization of differently abled Americans. But, even there, the story is centered on people with Down Syndrome and, as such, it offers a perspective and information that you likely haven't heard before. Great stuff.
Here's an excerpt about the short life of Charles Waring Darwin, the youngest child of the Charles Darwin you know. Based off historical records and the surviving photograph that you can see here, historians suspect that he had Down Syndrome.
Henrietta, one of his daughters, had this to say about Charles Waring in her book "Emma Darwin, A century of family letters...":
"The poor little baby was born without its full share of intelligence. Both my father and mother were infinitely tender towards him..."
Charles Darwin himself had this to say about his youngest child:
“He was small for his age and backward in walking and talking.... He was of a remarkable sweet, placid and joyful disposition, but had not high spirits.... He often made strange grimaces and shivered, when excited.... He would lie for a long time placidly on my lap looking with a steady and pleased expression at my face... making nice little bubbling noises as I moved his chin.”
Looking at the photograph of the then 45 year old Emma and her newborn son, it is not hard to see what appears to be a "weakened" bridge to the nose and quite possibly be epicanthal folds. However, the photo is extremely grainy and we will never know for sure. Charles Waring Darwin passed away from Scarlet fever at 19 months of age, never having learned to walk or talk. Darwin Sr. recorded in his journal that day: "Poor Dear Baby Died." He was unable to attend the first reading and publication of his theory of Natural Selection due to the illness and death of his youngest son.

Daily Comic Relief


Raid at pot club raises questions

This Wednesday, July 2, 2014 photo shows Maryjane's 420 Shop & Cannabis Social Lounge in Denver. A police raid at the Amsterdam-style cannabis lounge has triggered a debate over where adults can smoke pot in a state that allows recreational marijuana consumption _ but not in public. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) 
This Wednesday, July 2, 2014 photo shows Maryjane's 420 Shop & Cannabis Social Lounge in Denver. A police raid at the Amsterdam-style cannabis lounge has triggered a debate over where adults can smoke pot in a state that allows recreational marijuana consumption _ but not in public.
A police raid at an Amsterdam-style cannabis lounge in Denver has triggered a debate over where adults can smoke pot in a state that allows recreational marijuana consumption — but not in public.
Denver police showed up last week at Maryjane's Social Club, one of dozens of private pot-smoking clubs in Colorado operating in a legal gray area. The officers handcuffed smokers, seized drug paraphernalia and ticketed the club's owner for violating state law banning indoor cigarette smoking. Three people were cited for smoking in public.
Colorado law prohibits recreational pot consumption "openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others." And state lawmakers say that smoke-free laws also appear to ban indoor pot smoke-outs.
But marijuana advocates argue the increasingly popular private pot dens are permissible because marijuana isn't sold, nor is food or drink. Like Maryjane's, the clubs are only for members, who bring their own weed.
The officers entered Maryjane's on Friday to investigate "illegal activity" — public marijuana consumption — when they issued the citations, department spokesman Sonny Jackson said.
He said police are not targeting other private pot clubs but that all pot-related businesses, including private lounges, are under new scrutiny since recreational sales began in Colorado in January.
"This is new for us," said Ashley Kilroy, Denver's executive director of marijuana policy, noting that police routinely look for pot clubs that are publicly advertising or who impose cover charges as a sham and then give away weed. "We're going to be as proactive as we can and educate businesses as we go along."
Kandice Moss, who was inside Maryjane's at the time, said she recognized the plainclothes detectives because they had been inside the club before, posing as new members.
One of them told her the club was a public place before they started issuing citations.
"I asked, 'Where is it safe?'" Moss said. "He said, 'You're legal to possess it and smoke it at home, and that's it."
But Denver attorney Rob Corry, who represents one of those cited, said the club is private. It doesn't advertise specific events, and it requires memberships to get in, even if to smoke there for just one night.
Corry argued the raid was hypocritical. He noted that the city of Denver has allowed the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to hold a series of bring-your-own-cannabis fundraising concerts — labeled private events — after the symphony agreed to hold the shows by invitation only at private galleries.
After days of wrangling, city officials concerned about public consumption withdrew their objections to three symphony events called Classically Cannabis, which have marijuana companies as sponsors and are expected to raise $200,000 for the symphony.
"This is an identical situation," Corry said. "It's not even close to being a gray area."
The symphony took corrective action after the city warned them about public consumption and Maryjane's did not, Kilroy said. Corry said he was unaware of any formal warnings the club had received.
The attorney represents Andrew Overall, who received a $135 citation for public consumption at Maryjane's.
Officers said they saw Overall, 25, smoking hash oil from a water pipe, which they seized as evidence, according to his citation. The document also notes that his club membership was issued in June.
Overall said he started buying nightly memberships at the club for $10, and then bought a monthly pass.
"It's a place where people who are like-minded can get together and enjoy cannabis," said Overall, who was supposed to work as a DJ the night of the crackdown. "I feel safe there."
Overall said he plans to fight the ticket in court.
Maryjane's has closed after the arrests. Its patrons hope it would reopen, perhaps as a hookah lounge.
Owners of other private pot dens around the state are keeping an eye on the Denver case.
"The number of clubs is going to increase, and the number of enforcement actions is going to decrease," Corry predicted
David Fanelli, who owns Club Ned near Boulder with his wife, Cheryl, said the club-cafe has not had any problems since it opened in March after more than a year of planning for proper ventilation and consulting with police, an attorney and zoning officials.
Still, the town of Nederland has only allowed his club to operate for a six-month trial period. Officials will then decide whether to extend its license.
"We are just a test," Fanelli said.

Ecuador's "Superleaf" Tea: Could It Replace Your Afternoon Coffee?

Could It Replace Your Afternoon Coffee?
Guayusa reportedly has health benefits for those who drink it as a brew and economic benefits for the indigenous people who grow it.
by Emma Weissmann
For the Kichwa people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, teatime isn't an afternoon tradition that pairs dainty finger sandwiches with porcelain cups. Instead, it begins at 3 a.m., when members of this indigenous community gather around a fire and brew guayusa, a highly caffeinated drink with twice the antioxidants of green tea.
But this "superleaf" does more than provide these villagers with the energy to face the day—it has recently become a sustainable source of income that will bring in $400,000 to more than 3,000 farming families this year.
We asked Tyler Gage, co-founder of the Runa Foundation, a nonprofit that works with indigenous communities to protect the Amazon rain forest, to provide some insight on guayusa and what it means to the Kichwa and the rest of the world.
What is guayusa? Where is it found?
Something like 98 percent of the guayusa in the world is in Ecuador. It is native to a thin stretch of the upper Amazon [that] hugs the Andes Mountains. It's a leaf brewed like tea, but it's not actually related to green or black tea. When brewed, it has about as much caffeine as coffee. It is also incredibly rich in polyphenols, which are the most common compounds that comprise what we informally call antioxidants. It also has a ton of chlorogenic acids, which is trending and hot right now for weight loss and benefits to the heart.
What is the history of the guayusa plant, and what does it mean to the Kichwa people in this part of Ecuador?
One of my favorite stories about guayusa is its origin. In ancient times, people prayed for a plant that would teach them how to dream. These twins canoed down a river on a quest to find this plant, woke up in the middle of the night, and this spirit village had manifested on the other side of the river. They went to this palace and went up a staircase to the heavens, where they saw all of their ancestors, generation after generation. These ancestors gifted them this plant and said, "This is a plant that can help your people and connect you to the dream world." When they woke up in the morning, they still had the physical plant. They took it back to their community and guayusa became a central part of their culture.
And they continue to hold the plant in high esteem. Now that the Kichwa have started exporting the leaves, what does it mean to their community and the surrounding area?
Before, the farmer's primary source of income was from logging. They also did migrant labor, and they do some farming with things like corn, coffee, or chocolate. They really struggled to support their families and have sustainable sources of income.
[Guayusa] is grown in what the Kichwa call a chacra, which is basically a forest garden. There are no fertilizers, there are no chemicals, nothing. It basically allows sustainable nutrient flow between the species the same way the rain forest contains itself without any human intervention. So it's very low input, and basically replicates the structure of the natural rain forest.
How has the demand for guayusa tea changed since Ecuador first started exporting it? If demand continues to increase, can the production remain sustainable?
The annual global production for 2008 was zero pounds. This year, we're going to buy one million pounds of fresh guayusa leaves from the community, and so we'll pay about $400,000 that the community didn't have before.
The way we grow is that we plant more trees. As demand grows, we just have to plant more trees so we can reforest more parts of the Amazon and convert more land that was previously degraded back into these sustainable forest gardens.
Growth is actually what drives impact. The more that we grow, the more income we can provide to the farmers, and concurrently the more trees that we can plant and we can sustainably support.
What does guayusa tea mean to the rest of the world?
Definitely as consumers, we appreciate the health benefits a lot. For people who might be drinking very artificial, unhealthy energy drinks, they can switch to something that [gives them] the same amount of energy but that has health benefits, too. So we can connect consumers to the Amazon through the product, and basically give them a much more healthy, sustainable source to get their energy.
We're right at the sweet spot of growth. I think in general there is a major trend of people wanting clean energy [drinks], and if you look at the last ten years you see the shift, with people switching from wanting to drink mainstream sports drinks like Gatorade to things like coconut water. So with guayusa we fit perfectly in that [trend] and for consumer demand for a cleaner, functional product.

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