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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts - what he said  ..!
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Today in History

1189 After the death of Henry II, Richard Lionheart is crowned king of England.
1260 Mamelukes under Sultan Qutuz defeat Mongols and Crusaders at Ain Jalut.
1346 Edward III of England begins the siege of Calais, along the coast of France.
1650 The English under Cromwell defeat a superior Scottish army under David Leslie at the Battle of Dunbar.
1777 The American flag (stars & stripes), approved by Congress on June 14th, is carried into battle for the first time by a force under General William Maxwell.
1783 The Treaty of Paris is signed by Great Britain and the new United States, formally bringing the American Revolution to an end.
1838 Frederick Douglass escapes slavery disguised as a sailor. He would later write The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, his memoirs about slave life.
1855 General William Harney defeats Little Thunder's Brule Sioux at the Battle of Blue Water in Nebraska.
1895 The first professional American football game is played in Latrobe, Pennsylvania between the Latrobe Young Men's Christian Association and the Jeannette Athletic Club. Latrobe wins 12-0.
1914 The French capital is moved from Paris to Bordeaux as the Battle of the Marne begins.
1916 The German Somme front is broken by an Allied offensive.
1918 The United States recognizes the nation of Czechoslovakia.
1939 After Germany ignores Great Britain's ultimatum to stop the invasion of Poland, Great Britain declares war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II in Europe.
1939 The British passenger ship Athenia is sunk by a German submarine in the Atlantic, with 30 Americans among those killed. American Secretary of State Cordell Hull warns Americans to avoid travel to Europe unless absolutely necessary.
1943 British troops invade Italy, landing at Calabria.
1944 The U.S. Seventh Army captures Lyons, France.
1945 General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese commander of the Philippines, surrenders to Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright at Baguio.
1967 Lieutenant General Ngyuen Van Thieu is elected president of South Vietnam.
1969 Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam, dies.
1976 The unmanned US spacecraft Viking 2 lands on Mars, takes first close-up, color photos of the planet's surface.
1981 Egypt arrests some 1,500 opponents of the government.
1989 US begins shipping military aircraft and weapons to Columbia for use against that country's drug lords.
1994 Russia and China sign a demarcation agreement to end dispute over a stretch of their border and agree they will no longer target each other with nuclear weapons.
2001 Protestant loyalists in Belfast, Ireland, begin an 11-week picket of the Holy Cross Catholic school for girls, sparking rioting.

Non Sequitur


I Went From Grad School to Prison

This past spring, Cecily McMillan rode a bus across a bridge to Rikers Island, home of the notorious New York City jail. When the Occupy Wall Street activist was released nearly two months later, she had left her old self behind.
I didn't cry my first night in jail.
By the time I got through the 12 hours of intake — the lines, the fingerprints, the strip search — it was 4 a.m. In a dorm with 50 women, I lay on a cot smaller than a twin bed, with a mattress so thin, I could feel the cold metal beneath my back.
I didn't feel much of anything emotionally, except a vague sense of resolution. At least I knew my fate now. I was a convicted felon.
I had spent two years awaiting a trial, accused of assaulting a policeman at an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City in March 2012. As I remember it, the officer surprised me from behind, grabbing my right breast so forcefully, he lifted me off the ground. In that moment, my elbow met his face.
At the time, I was a graduate student at The New School for Social Research and volunteering as a union organizer, in fact helping police negotiate contracts. I was studying nonviolent movements and had been inspired by pacifists like Bayard Rustin, the activist who helped Martin Luther King Jr. My arrest was the opposite of everything I stood for.
I remember someone pushing me to the ground, my face hitting a grate. Next thing I knew, I was strapped to a gurney, my skirt up above my hips. I had bruises across my body and a handprint on my chest. Officers were joking about my "Ocupussy." I learned later that I had been beaten on the head, triggering a seizure. Videos posted online showed people shouting "Help her!" amid the seizure while the cops stood by. The first time I saw those videos, I watched in horror — I couldn't believe that I was the person going through that ordeal.
At the trial, I sat trying to appear calm as I got ripped apart. Prosecutors said I had inflicted the injuries on myself. They said I hadn't immediately mentioned being grabbed — but I was completely disoriented after the seizure. The judge didn't allow evidence that my attorney wanted to show the jury, including a range of videos of the incident. I was found guilty and sent to Rikers Island to await my sentence. My lawyer Marty Stolar, a human-rights expert and watchdog for Occupy who had taken my case for free, was so shocked at the verdict that he was visibly shaken.
The prosecutors had offered a deal that would have kept me out of jail, but I refused to plead guilty to something I didn't do, especially a felony. So I sacrificed my freedom for my convictions. I will never regret that. But I will never be the same person after Rikers Island. I know now what it's like to lose your freedom, to abandon any sense of personal space, and to face a level of humiliation that is almost impossible to describe.

Cecily was unable to stand during her arrest.
Those first few days, I tried to figure out "how to jail." I knew I would have to make friends fast. I started by giving people my food — turkey sausage, beans, canned vegetables. I tried to think of Rikers as a study in society.
That feeling didn't last long. On my third or fourth night, I sobbed, my face buried in the frayed blanket. I couldn't let anyone hear. Crying at night makes the correction officers, or COs, slam on the lights and shout, then everyone is awake and furious. But something funny happened that night too. A woman started singing softly, "Wimoweh, wimoweh." Others joined in: "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight." Women in their teens, in their 80s, were singing that song. It felt like a warped summer camp. I realized, we're all in this together.
I was issued a shapeless jumpsuit and moved to a new dorm. I also learned my sentence: 90 days. I felt like the system had been stacked against me. I was a representation of a movement, not a person. But I stayed focused. I worked on my graduate thesis in jail.
One of my first friends was Fat Baby, a young mother in jail on a drug charge. She started catcalling in Spanish: "Hot legs, mama." I'm part Mexican, and I knew what she was saying. I told her, "That's no way to speak to a lady — you sound like a construction worker." We became pals. I observed her, learning to keep my eyes down, not to stand with my hands on my hips or do anything that conveyed confidence.
Being polite will also get you in trouble. I learned that during a battle to get my medication for ADHD. Everything in prison is about waiting and obstruction. You spend hours waiting in lines — for a mail pass, for the phone — only to be denied for some arbitrary reason. I knew that without my meds, the upheaval in my life would spark an anxiety attack, which could be mistaken for a tantrum, getting me sent to solitary. Thanks to friends who raised a ruckus with public officials, I got the medication. But when I was meeting with the pharmacist, I couldn't hear him, because a CO was shouting in the hall. I called out, "Sir, I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble hearing."
Mistake. "Are you telling me to shut up?" he yelled, launching into a tirade. Later, when I stood up to leave, I apologized. He barked, "You white bitch, I told you to shut the fuck up!" My eyes went to his badge. "You want to see my badge?" he yelled. He rammed it into me, sending me flying backward. You are supposed to be able to report grievances, but I never said anything. I was afraid of retaliation.
I had joined Occupy Wall Street after moving to New York City for grad school. I saw people living on the streets, but no one seemed to hear them. The movement was getting started in August 2011, and I liked its objection to corporate greed and income inequality. I wasn't the most popular protester because I didn't fit the mold. With my iPad and secondhand Manolo heels, I was called the Paris Hilton of Occupy.
But people didn't know my past. I had grown up in a trailer park in East Texas with a single mother and my brother. My mom had such dignity that I didn't realize we were poor. Once, during a food drive at school, I emptied our cupboards and packed up the cans. I didn't know they had been donated to my own family.
I was an idealistic kid. I lobbied to abolish the school dress code, and I was spanked with a wooden board when I refused to do morning prayers at my public school. I spent summers in Atlanta with my father and liked the big city. I got a scholarship to Lawrence University in Wisconsin and then moved to New York.
Occupy Wall Street set up camp in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan's Financial District on and off starting in September 2011. On St. Patrick's Day, I was dressed in green when I went to the park to pick up a friend to go out to a bar. But police were sweeping through the park, so I started walking away. That's when my troubles began.
At Rikers, word spread that I was part of the Occupy movement, and a few of the guards secretly told me they liked the group's message. Their lives weren't so great: They were in jail too and always getting yelled at by higher-ups. They were from the same streets as the criminals.
That's not to say the indignities weren't rampant. People often ask if jail is like Orange Is the New Black, but I see nothing similar in incarceration and entertainment. Every day in jail, you are belittled and berated. There's no library, no computers or cell phones. A TV blasts Criminal Minds. I went through a surreal fight for weeks just to get a pair of sneakers so I could run around the yard.
Before and after seeing visitors, you have to strip naked and squat to prove you aren't hiding contraband. And on random nights, guards burst into the dorm in full riot gear. You line up while 50 women are strip-searched and X-rayed in a special chair. Next, you return to your bed and hold up the mattress while the officers dump out the two blue buckets where you keep personal items, confiscating whatever they feel like. It looks like a tornado hit the room.
In my buckets, I had 700 letters from supporters — it took me hours to get them back in order after one search. I kept my buckets very organized, much to the amusement of other inmates. "White girl doing her buckets again," they would say.
One day, someone stole something from my buckets: a small radio. That's when I met my friend Ida, an older inmate. "You might want to move to a less-trafficked neighborhood," she said. We called our beds houses and divided the dorm into "neighborhoods." People had to respect their neighbors, not invade other homes by stepping too close. I moved to Ida's neighborhood.
For me, the medical situation was a nightmare. When I tried to get my birth-control shot, I was told I had to get a Pap smear. I was warned the examiner might be "handsy." I was told I might have cervical cancer. I did not. I lost a friend called Jack, who died after coughing up blood for days. She should have been in the infirmary ... better yet, a hospital.
Over the weeks, I recognized how strong these women were to survive in such an oppressive place. You get a sense of how common the female experience is. Every woman I met had been sexually assaulted. And they were all on the phone every day, running families from behind bars, reminding husbands and children to pay bills. I learned about myself too. As a student, I was always busy theorizing about society, but in Rikers, I was part of a society. I listened and made friends and became more in touch with myself and other people.
My release came after 58 days. I lost 17 pounds. Now I'm on probation for five years. As a felon, I can't vote for the next seven years. My lawyer is appealing my conviction.
Even being set free became a trial. On the day of my release, my friends on the outside had helped me set up a press conference across the Rikers Island bridge, to speak for the women in jail. But a CO told me he had been ordered to drive me to a subway station 45 minutes away. I protested but no one would help, so that's where I ended up.
I borrowed a stranger's phone to call my friends, who brought me back to the bridge. I gave my press conference, describing how the women were treated. These women had sustained me, becoming my friends, my confidantes and advocates. And now I am their advocate. I walked into Rikers Island as part of one movement and left as part of another.

Are you ready for some football?


A Canadian’s View On Our Disrespect Of President Obama’s Presidency

America – He’s Your President for Goodness Sake!

by William Thomas
There was a time not so long ago when Americans, regardless of their political stripes, rallied round their president. Once elected, the man who won the White House was no longer viewed as a repugican or Democrat, but the President of the United States. The oath of office was taken, the wagons were circled around the country’s borders and it was America versus the rest of the world with the president of all the people at the helm.
Suddenly President Barack Obama, with the potential to become an exceptional president has become the glaring exception to that unwritten, patriotic rule.
Four days before President Obama’s inauguration, before he officially took charge of the American government, Lush Dimbullb boasted publicly that he hoped the president would fail. Of course, when the president fails the country flounders. Wishing harm upon your country in order to further your own narrow political views is selfish, sinister and a tad treasonous as well.
Subsequently, during his State of the Union address, which is pretty much a pep rally for America, an unknown congressional representative from South Carolina, later identified as Joe Wilson, stopped the show when he called the President of the United States a liar. The president showed great restraint in ignoring this unprecedented insult and carried on with his speech. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so stunned by the slur, she forgot to jump to her feet while clapping wildly, 30 or 40 times after that.
Last spring, President Obama took his wife Michelle to see a play in New York City and repugicans attacked him over the cost of security for the excursion. The president can’t take his wife out to dinner and a show without being scrutinized by the political opposition? As history has proven, a president in a theater without adequate security is a tragically bad idea.
Remember: “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
At some point, the treatment of President Obama went from offensive to ugly and then to downright dangerous.
The health-care debate, which looked more like extreme fighting in a mud pit than a national dialogue, revealed a very vulgar side of America. President Obama’s face appeared on protest signs white-faced and blood-mouthed in a satanic clown image. In other tasteless portrayals, people who disagreed with his position distorted his face to look like Hitler complete with mustache and swastika.
Odd, that burning the flag makes Americans crazy, but depicting the president as a clown and a maniacal fascist is accepted as part of the new rude America.
Maligning the image of the leader of the free world is one thing, putting the president’s life in peril is quite another. More than once, men with guns were videotaped at the health-care rallies where the president spoke. Again, history shows that letting men with guns get within range of a president has not served America well in the past.
And still the “birthers” are out there claiming Barack Obama was not born in the United States, although public documentation proves otherwise. Hawaii is definitely part of the United States, but the Panama Canal Zone where his electoral opponent Senator John McCain was born? Nobody’s sure.
Last month, a 44-year-old woman in Buffalo was quite taken by President Obama when she met him in a chicken wing restaurant called Duff’s. Did she say something about a pleasure and an honor to meet the man or utter encouraging words for the difficult job he is doing? No. Quote: “You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body.”
Lady, that was the President of the United States you were addressing, not one of the Jonas Brothers! He’s your president for goodness sakes, not the guy driving the Zamboni at “Monster Trucks On Ice.” Maybe next it’ll be, “Take Your President To A Topless Bar Day.”
In President Barack Obama, Americans have a charismatic leader with a good and honest heart. Unlike his predecessor, he’s a very intelligent leader. And unlike that president’s predecessor, he’s a highly moral man.
In President Obama, Americans have the real deal, the whole package and a leader that citizens of almost every country around the world look to with great envy. Given the opportunity, Canadians would trade our leader, hell, most of our leaders for Obama in a heartbeat.
What America has in Obama is a head of state with vitality and insight and youth. Think about it, Barack Obama is a young Nelson Mandela. Mandela was the face of change and charity for all of Africa but he was too old to make it happen. The great things Obama might do for America and the world could go on for decades after he’s out of office.
America, you know not what you have.
The man is being challenged unfairly, characterized with vulgarity and treated with the kind of deep disrespect to which no previous president was subjected. It’s like the day after electing the first black man to be president, thereby electrifying the world with hope and joy, Americans sobered up and decided the bad old days were better.
President Obama may fail but it will not be a Richard Nixon default fraught with larceny and lies. President Obama, given a fair chance, will surely succeed but his triumph will never come with a Bill Clinton caveat – “if only he’d got control of that zipper.”
Please. Give the man a fair, fighting chance. This incivility toward the leader who won over Americans and gave hope to billions of people around the world that their lives could be enhanced by his example, just naturally has to stop.
Believe me, when Americans drive by the White House and see a sign on the lawn that reads: “No shirt. No shoes. No service,” they’ll realize this new national rudeness has gone way, way too far.

You Don't Know What 'Libertarian' Means

Libertarianism is not what most Americans think it is...
If you want to know what libertarianism is all about, don’t ask a libertarian, because most of them don’t know. A new poll from Pew Research found that only 11% of those surveyed who identified themselves as libertarian were correctly able to identify the very basic meaning of libertarianism as “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government.” Even though that's often an oxymoron, that's what libertarians say, and their followers apparently don't know it. 
Weirdly, that same poll found that 41% of libertarians believe that the government should regulate business, 46% of libertarians believe that corporations make too much profit, and 38% of libertarians believe that government aid to the poor is a good thing.
Similarly, of the so-called libertarians polled, 42% believe that police should be able to stop and search people who "look like criminals," and 26% think “homosexuality should be discouraged.”
What happened to limited government and more individual freedoms? Basically, people in America who call themselves libertarians have absolutely no idea what libertarianism is really about. 
So, let’s go over it for a second. Back in 1980, David Koch, one half of the Kochtopus, ran as the libertarian cabal’s vice presidential candidate. And the platform that he ran on back in 1980 provides a great summary of what libertarianism is really about. 
First, libertarians want to “urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission." In other words, they want to make it as easy as possible for corporations and wealthy billionaires to flood our democracy with corruptive cash and buy even more politicians. They want Citizen’s United on steroids – and then some. 
Next up, libertarians “favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.” Instead, they want to privatize healthcare in America, so that their billionaire friends in the healthcare industry can get even richer, while working-class Americans are getting sicker and sicker. In fact, a 2012 analysis by Citigroup found that insurance company stocks would skyrocket if Medicare alone were to be privatized. And Big Pharma would experience a revenue and profit boom, too.
Just look at America’s experiences with Medicare Part D. A report released by the House of Representatives back in July of 2008 found that, two years into the Medicare Part D experiment, American taxpayers were paying up to 30% more for prescriptions under the privatized part of the program. And thanks to Medicare Part D, between 2006 and 2008 alone, drug manufacturers took in an additional $3.7 billion that they wouldn’t have gotten through drug prices under the public Medicaid program. 
Meanwhile, the 1980 libertarian platform also says that libertarians “favor the repeal” of an “increasingly oppressive” Social Security system. They want to abolish Social Security, screw over working-class Americans, and take all the money that would go towards Social Security and invest it in Wall Street, so that their wallets can get even bigger. There's over $2.5 trillion sitting in the Social Security Trust Fund right now. Imagine how much money the libertarian banksters could make skimming even a fraction of a percent off the top of that every year. 
Similarly, because libertarians want to hold on to their money and get even richer, they also “oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.” They don’t want to have any responsibility for society. Screw society! Naturally, libertarians also think that “all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.” 
According to Demos, in 2010, tax evasion cost the federal government $305 billion. Imagine what America could have done with that $305 billion. But, if you're rich, you shouldn’t have to pay any taxes under libertarianism. 
Next up, libertarians want to repeal laws that affect “the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.” In other words, "Screw the workers! We're the billionaires and we don't give a damn about workers!" According to the 1980 platform, libertarians are also for the “complete separation of education and the state” and think that “government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
Who cares about Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, or Abraham Lincoln’s land-grant colleges? Screw public education! Poor people don't need to know how to read! Only rich people should be going to college, and billionaires can pay for their own kids' education! 
And when they’re done attacking public education in America, libertarians want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. After all, pollution can be so profitable. And who cares if a few million people get asthma or die of cancer? They're not rich people! Screw them. A 2010 study found that between 2005 and 2007, around 30,000 hospital trips and emergency-room visits could have been avoided in California alone if federal clean-air standards had been met. Instead, those visits led to approximately $193 million worth of health care expenses for the American people. Guess who benefited from that $193 million? 
Similarly, the 1980 platform makes it clear that libertarians also want to get rid of the Department of Energy, and close down any government agency that’s involved in transportation. No more standards for our roads, no more standards for our railways, no more standards for our airlines. Turn it all over to the billionaires. They can run it all and make a buck while they’re at it!
And libertarians want to privatize our public highways and turn them all into toll roads too. So, if you want to drive to work you have to pay the Koch Brothers!
Libertarians also want to do away with the Food and Drug Administration and the safety standards that agency imposes, so that Big Pharma and Big Ag can make even more money, while you and I are forced to deal with the consequences. Billionaires don’t have to worry if their food is safe. They can own their own farmland, and hire their own cheap labor to work it!
Along those same lines, the 1980 platform says that libertarians want to get rid of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. After all, if a kid is choking to death on some badly made cheapo toy, it's almost certain that it's a poor or working-class kid. One less moocher! 
The 1980 libertarian platform also called for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Right. Workers don’t need protections. Employers can just be trusted to keep their employees who are working for minimum wage safe. 
Finally, libertarians “oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs,” claiming that these programs are, “privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient.” Or, in other words, turn poverty over to the rich people. After all, they’ve always done such a great job taking care of poor people... 
And, while it wasn’t explicitly in the 1980 platform, who can forget that libertarians are also opposed to the Title II of the Civil Rights Act which, “prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment.” 
To add insult to injury, they’re also opposed to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex and nationality. Who needs civil rights anyway? 
Clearly, libertarianism is not what most Americans think it is. From wanting to privatize healthcare, to doing away with federal agencies and eliminating minimum wage laws, libertarianism put the interests of billionaires and the wealthy elite first, and the interests of everyone else dead last. And I do mean dead. 
Now, ask yourself, is that the America you want to live in? I sure don't... 

Multiple Scientific Studies Confirm: Wingnuttery Linked to Racism, Low I.Q.

An article published at Psychology Today by Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D. of Millennial Media writes about the correlation between wingnuttery, low intelligence and racism.
Saedi writes,
“Hodson and Busseri (2012) found in a correlational study that lower intelligence in childhood is predictive of greater racism in adulthood, with this effect being mediated (partially explained) through wingnut ideology. They also found poor abstract reasoning skills were related to homophobic attitudes which was mediated through authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact.”
We checked the study Hodson and Busseri study, and the abstract certainly does say,
“Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of wingnut ideologies (social wingnuttery, wingnut authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via wingnut ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on anti-homosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of inter-group contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit under-appreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.”
A January 2012 article in the Journal Live Science also cites the Hodsdon-Busseri study,
“There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb…Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially wingnut ideologies. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice.”
Indeed, University of Washington Political Science Professor Christopher Parker, author of the new book Change They Can’t Believe In: The tea party and Reactionary Politics in America agrees. Professor Parker, interviewed by Chris Matthews says,
“What we’ve found out, we’ve come up with something that we called Reactionary Winguttery. What that means is, where as a regular wingnut or a more mainstream wingnut recognizes change is necessary to avoid revolutionary change, a reactionary wingnut actually wants to go back in time. In the book we tie the tea party to the know nothing party of the 1850s, the klan of the 1920s, the john birch society of the late 1950s and 1960s. It’s the same belief system, Chris, this idea that they’re scared of losing the America that they know and love to these other groups of people.”
We reported on this very subject when a white, racist teapugican cpac attendee suggested that slavery wasn’t so bad, and that blacks should be thankful they were given food and shelter while they were slaves.

So the next time you’re criticized for pointing out that wingnut teavangelicals, teapugicans and libertarian-types are unintelligent, racist sociopaths – you can say, “It’s a scientific fact.” Of course they don’t believe in science either.

The Real Reason Why repugicans are ‘Outraged’ Over President Obama’s ‘Strategy’ Comment

by Allen Clifton
It was the comment heard round the world: the moment when President Obama stepped up to the microphone during a press conference and dared to say that he doesn’t yet have a strategy for dealing with ISIS.
Which is exactly what I think he should have said.
But all day yesterday, whenever I flipped on the news, all I saw was some repugican shrieking head incessantly obsessing over Obama’s comments. Which I knew was going to happen the moment I heard them come out of his mouth.
Although knowing that repugicans were going to harp on his comments doesn’t make their pointless rabble rousing any less annoying.
But sitting at home today, an epiphany came to me. I know why repugicans are so upset about these comments. Because it gave them absolutely no “plan” to bash.
Since 2008, repugicans have obsessed over one clear objective: opposing whatever President Obama supports.
But what do you do when he doesn’t say what he’s going to do?
Sure, they can bash him for not having a plan. But the ironic thing is, neither do they. 
Though that doesn’t matter. Their lack of a plan isn’t what’s important. He’s the president and “he should have a plan by now.” As if dealing with ISIS is set on some kind of a deadline. Just because they demand an answer, doesn’t mean the right answer is yet available.
Because what can they do when their plan of “just say the opposite” is nullified because President Obama doesn’t really say anything? Their only option for “saying the opposite” would have been to lay out a clear and decisive plan – and we all know that was never going to happen.
Look no further than Syria. Around this same time last year things in Syria were on the forefront of the news. For months repugicans had been saying that President Obama needed to take action. Then once he threatened to use military force, many of those same repugicans who were calling for action suddenly opposed it.
Because the truth is, they never expected him to threaten military action. And once he called their bluff, they didn’t know how to respond. Because, as we all know, agreeing with President Obama sure as heck isn’t an option for repugicans.
But mark my words, no matter what “strategy” to deal with ISIS President Obama ultimately announces, repugicans are going to complain about it. Because that’s what they always do. He can say exactly what many of them have been saying, and they’ll still say whatever he said was wrong.
Because it doesn’t matter what Obama says or does, repugicans aren’t going to stray away from their strategy of opposing anything and everything supported by the president.

Proof That Illegal Immigration Was Worse Under Ronald Reagan Than It Is Under President Obama

According to Faux News, and pretty much any wingnut you run across, President Obama has refused to enforce our immigration laws which has led to a record number of illegal immigrants rushing to our borders.Of course that statement sounds troubling - and it would be - except the facts simply don't support it.
Currently, President Obama is on pace to deport more illegal immigrants than any president in United States history.  I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me, how is he "soft on illegal immigration" while simultaneously deporting more undocumented immigrants than any other president before him?
That brings us to the notion that Obama's policies have led to a record number of illegal immigrants flooding our borders.
Another wingnut shrieking point that's completely untrue.
In fact, on average, we're seeing over 600,000 fewer attempts per year by illegal immigrants trying to cross our border under President Obama than we saw under Ronald Reagan.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, during Reagan's eight years we saw an average of 1,056,500 illegal immigrants try to cross our border every year.  Under President Obama, that number is down to 417,000.

Bernie Sanders Celebrated Labor Day By Taking Down the Koch Brothers

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is celebrating Labor Day weekend by standing up for unions and taking down the Koch Brothers.
In a statement Sen. Sanders said,
Today, we salute the trade union movement and all Americans who are fighting for the needs of working families.
The sad reality of today’s America is that while the wealthiest people and largest corporations are doing phenomenally well, the middle class is disappearing and millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. Congress must start listening to the needs of ordinary Americans, not just the billionaire class and their lobbyists.
We can create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and dramatically improve life for low-wage workers by raising the minimum wage. We need new trade policies to prevent corporations from throwing American workers out on the street and running to China for cheap labor and we need new tax policies so they can’t stash their profits in foreign tax havens. We need real campaign finance reform so that the Koch brothers and other billionaires are no longer able to buy elections.
In other words, we need an agenda that works for all Americans, and not just the very rich.
Sen. Sanders was correct. Unions will never come back as long as billionaires like the Koch brothers are buying members of Congress. Labor Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate the achievements of American workers, but what used to be a holiday will be a regular Monday for millions of Americans. Decades of the conservative war against the labor movement has transformed Labor Day into an ironic reminder of what American workers have lost.
The intention of the Koch agenda is to transform American workers into low paid wage slaves with no rights. Republicans and their money men rail against “regulations,” but those regulations are the basic wages, standards, and safety laws that repugicans want to eliminate. Labor Day can return to the holiday that it used to be. There could still be many great chapters written in the labor movement.
An agenda change is needed. Instead of a government that works for billionaires and big corporations, the nation needs an agenda that rebuilds the middle class and jumpstarts our economic engine. Progress won’t occur as long as the Koch own repugicans are in the way. This is why now more than ever, the American people need to go to the polls and take their government back.

It's Getting Harder for Companies to Pretend Workers Aren't Employees

Companies are constantly seeking ways to lower their payrolls. These methods inevitably end up screwing workers. But there are signs that the government may at last be ready to ask companies to take responsibility for their own employees.Last month, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that McDonald's could be held liable for labor violations by the people who own its franchises-an important ruling that could make it much harder for large corporations to avoid responsibility for the way they keep wages down, just by claiming that their franchisees control that aspect of the business. For a labor movement that has been protesting fast food franchises nationwide for years now, it was an encouraging sign.
Now, the Wall Street Journal says that the NLRB may be ready to issue another ruling that could make it more difficult for companies to force employees into "contract employee" designations (often by using outside staffing companies, which are growing each year) that serve to give employers all the benefits of having employees, without the responsibilities that go along with actually having real live full-time employees. From the WSJ:
Unions say such arrangements enable companies to exercise control over wages and working conditions but escape responsibility when workers have problems or demands. But as labor groups ask the five-member NLRB to declare more companies joint employers, business groups are fighting back, saying such moves could defeat the efficiencies of contracting and expose companies to greater liability in labor matters.
(In semi-related news, an appeals court in California just ruled that thousands of FedEx drivers are legally employees, not independent contractors.)

Why the Last SS Guards Will Go Unpunished

by Klaus Wiegrefe 
The Auschwitz Files: Why the Last SS Guards Will Go Unpunished
In February, German prosecutors conducted a wave of raids targeting former SS concentration camp guards. It was hoped the proceedings could help make up for decades of inaction. Instead, they will likely mark the latest chapter in the German judiciary's shameful approach to the Holocaust.  More

Interview with an Auschwitz Guard 'I Do Not Feel Like a Criminal'

Interview Conducted by Felix Bohr, Cordula Meyer and Klaus Wiegrefe Interview with an Auschwitz Guard: 'I Do Not Feel Like a Criminal'
As a young man, Jakob W. worked in the watchtowers of Auschwitz. Charges against him were recently dropped, but he described what it was like to be a cog in the Nazis' horrific machinery of death. More

'Yes' or 'No'?

A Divided Scotland Confronts Independence Vote
by Christoph Scheuermann
'Yes' or 'No'? A Divided Scotland Confronts Independence Vote
Traveling through Scotland, you might think the result of September's independence referendum is a foregone conclusion. "Yes" signs are everywhere. But surveys tell a different story and many who are wary of the hype.  More

10 Historic Canal Towns To Visit That Aren't Venice

Venice could well be the world's most famous canal town: it's hard to imagine canals without envisioning the Italian city's winding waterways, gracefully arched bridges, sputtering vaporettos and striped gondoliers.
If you dream of sauntering across picturesque canals, but want to avoid Venice's crowds, you're in luck: canals have been used since Mesopotamia, and there are beautiful canals in nearly every corner of the globe. Here are ten especially wonderful canal towns that aren't Venice.



What can 14th century Venice teach us about Ebola?

The way in which the Italian city of Venice dealt with the outbreak of the plague in the fourteenth century holds lessons on how to even mitigate the consequences of today's emerging threats, like climate change, terrorism and highly infectious or drug-resistant diseases. So says Dr. Igor Linkov of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and a visiting professor of the Ca Foscari University in Italy. Linkov led an article on resilience management appearing in Springer's journal Environment Systems and Decisions.
Plague burial site in Venice, Italy
Venice was the hub of many trade routes into central Europe, and in 1347 became the epicenter of a plague epidemic. While Venetians initially attempted to mitigate what they believed to be the threat -- God, vampires, etc. -- by enacting traditional risk management like prayer and rituals, they eventually began to utilize what we would now call resilience management.
Instead of trying to target a poorly understood risk, state authorities focused on managing physical movement, social interactions, and data collection for the city as a system. This included a system of inspection, lazaretto (quarantine stations) on nearby islands, quarantine periods, and wearing protective clothing. Although these actions were too late to stop the disease's initial devastation, thanks to the cumulative efforts over several hundred years, Venice continued to flourish, experiencing only sporadic episodes of plague thereafter, while in Greece and southern Europe, similar epidemics raged for centuries.
As the world grapples with the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Linkov and his colleagues see opportunities to learn from the Venetians in resilience management. In the case of Ebola, economic and cultural factors make risk management difficult. While it will take time to transform deeply rooted traditions that contribute the spread of the Ebola virus, health experts and national leaders may be able to realize improvements by bolstering the ability of other parts of the system to respond to re-emergence of the disease. Resilience management addresses the ability of a complex system -- such as a city or community -- to prepare, absorb, recover, and adapt to unexpected threats.
"Resilience management can be a guide to dealing with the current Ebola outbreak in Africa, and others like it, as well as other issues like population growth and the impacts of global climate change," believes Linkov. "Similar to what the officials of Venice did centuries ago, approaching resilience at the system level provides a way to deal with the unknown and unquantifiable threats we are facing at an increasing frequency."

Do Farts Carry Germs?

When you fart, are you spraying microbes all over? Should we fear the effects of flatulence in a crowd? Science is on the question!
“It all started with an inquiry from a nurse,” Dr Karl Kruszelnicki told listeners to his science phone-in show on the Triple J radio station in Brisbane. “She wanted to know whether she was contaminating the operating theater she worked in by quietly farting in the sterile environment during operations, and I realized that I didn’t know. But I was determined to find out.”
The upshot is that if people fart while wearing clothes, you’re pretty safe. But fart naked, and it’s a whole different story. And you’ll want to read that story of the experiment by which Dr. Kruszelnicki found the answer at Discover magazine. Oh, the things that researchers do in the name of science!

Widow claims husband died on flight due to his hairy chest

A man flying from Los Angeles to Albuquerque died of a heart attack. His wife thinks his hairy chest had something to do with his death, however.
Caroline and Jack Jordan were on the Southwest Airlines flight when the heart attack occurred. Passengers performed CPR, but he didn't survive the attack. His wife said a defibrillator was on board but wasn't used because of her husband's hairy chest.
"The flight attendant that had been right up there with us said because his chest is too hairy," she said. A doctor said reacting to an emergency quickly can be the difference between life and death, and chest hair is rarely a factor with a defibrillator not working.

Staff at the Heart Institute say there are razors and scissors included with the devices to shave hair and cut clothing and jewellery. Caroline Jordan said for her husband, it was too late. A Southwest Airlines spokeswoman said the airline is looking into the incident.

Firefighters returned to finish mowing lawn of man who'd suffered heart attack

For the firefighters and EMTs of Station 4 in Baytown, Texas, it was another normal assignment: rushing to a 911 call to help save someone's life. But to the family and neighbors of John McCormick it was it was beyond normal. It helped restore a bit of their faith in humanity and the kindness of strangers. McCormick, 65, had a history of heart problems - a quadruple bypass more than a decade ago and other lingering health issues.
On Tuesday afternoon he suffered a heart attack while mowing the yard of his Baytown home. He went inside his house and collapsed where his family called for help. Engine 4, Medic 4, and Medic 2 responded. EMT's performed CPR and got a pulse again. And per standard operating procedure, the crew of Engine 4 followed the ambulance to the hospital. But when they left the hospital to drive back to Station 4, engine driver Luke Bednarek had an idea. Why not go back to the McCormick home and finish mowing his yard for him.
"We're all fighting over who can push the mower first," said Station 4 Lt. J.D. Giles. "I just happened to get off the truck first and grabbed the lawnmower first. We were all fighting over it," said firefighter Blake Steffenauer. They took turns behind John McCormick's lawn mower. They finished the backyard too, locked the garage, put the padlock key in the mailbox, and Giles left a handwritten note to Patsy McCormick that said in part "we felt bad that your husband didn't get to finish the yard, so we did." And they didn't think it was that big a deal.

"No not at all. Just something to help someone out in the worst time of their life," said Giles. "They already got stuff they've got going on that's more important," added Steffenauer. "Yard work shouldn't be something they'd have to finish up. So we were happy to come back and take care of that." But it was a letter, and a gesture, that made a daughter weep. "It just showed me that there's still compassion," said McCormick's daughter Jeana Blackford. "That people still do random acts of kindness every day for people that they don't know." However, this story does not have a happy ending. John McCormick died two days later.

Exclusive school investigated by police over 'turkey slapping' incident

The Kings School in Parramatta, Australia, is the subject of a police investigation after allegations of indecent and physical assault were made by a group of boarding students.
Police confirmed that detectives from the child abuse squad are investigating assault allegations made by students against other students at a school in Sydney's north-west. "Given those alleged to be involved are juveniles it would be inappropriate for police to provide any further detail at this point in time," a statement from the police media unit said.
It is understood that the allegations center around indecent and unwanted sexual contact, which include the act of "turkey slapping", where a male rubs his genitals on another's face. The headmaster of the private boys' school, Dr Tim Hawkes, confirmed that police were investigating the allegations made by students.
"The school has been made aware of an allegations and is co-operating with the police over this matter," Dr Hawkes said. In accordance with mandatory reporting requirements, all schools are required to report to authorities any incidents where a child may be at risk.

Man fleeing police following hit-and-run incident stopped to play with cats

Candace Noonan was getting her son ready for school at their home in Boca Raton, Florida, when a complete stranger walked up and opened the back sliding door. “I said, ’Excuse me, can I help you?’” Noonan said. “He said, 'Oh, I’m so sorry. Next door, I’m mowing the lawn. Do you mind if I have a glass of water?'"
Thinking the man was a landscaper, Noonan obliged and went to get the man a bottle of water. Noonan was unaware that authorities said the man, who was identified as Daniel Pinedo Velapatino, 21, was running from police after leading officers on a wild chase, smashing into cars and a police cruiser. When Noonan came back with a bottle of water, she said Velapatino had entered the house and was lying on the living room floor, playing with her cats.
“It was odd, very odd,” Noonan said. “He was stroking my cat. It almost looked like he either was on drugs or he was mentally handicapped.” Noonan’s husband started questioning Velapatino, and the stranger fled out the back door. ”We saw cop cars driving around the front of our house, and that’s when we sort of put two and two together,” Noonan said. Police gave chase, and Velapatino tried to get away by jumping in a canal, but a police boat captured him.

Investigators said Velapatino had been up all night taking drugs at a friend’s place. He is accused of stealing thousands of dollars in cash from a friend’s wallet, crashing a Lexus into a number of cars, including a police cruiser and a fire hydrant before he fled on foot. Investigators said Velapatino told them he needed the money because he owed his mother $2,000.

Daily Comic Relief


Mummies of Anatolia

17 mummies found in Aksaray’s Çanlı Cult and Ihlara Valley are being exhibited in the Aksaray and Niğde museums.
17 mummies found in Aksaray’s Çanlı Church and Ihlara Valley are being exhibited in the Aksaray and Niğde museums. AA PhotoThe mummification technique, which is used to preserve the body after death, has been used by several different civilizations throughout history, including the mummies of Anatolia.
During antiquity and the Middle Ages (5th-15th Century), mummification was a common technique used by the Pharaohs, Incas, Aztecs and Chinchorros of northern Chile, so the dead could survive and live on in the afterlife.
Today, mummies remind us of Egypt and the pharaohs, but Anatolian mummies have a significant potential to attract tourism. The Anatolian mummies are mysterious in terms of the era they lived as well as their preservation methods.
The province of Aksaray and Niğde in the region of Cappadocia has the potential to draw public attention through its children and cat mummies, while the Black Sea province of Amasya is home to the sultans’ sons who have been mummified.
The Cappadocia region, which attracts millions of tourists from all around the world due to its fairy chimneys, underground cities, valleys and balloon tours, overshadows interest in the Anatolian mummies.
Some 17 mummies found in Aksaray’s Çanlı Cult and Ihlara Valley are being exhibited in Aksaray and Niğde museums. The mummies that were obtained during operations into illegal excavations and which date back to the 10th and 13th centuries are of religious functionaries, priests and nuns who lived in various eras.
The beads that have been found with the mummies, as well as objects used in daily life, such as necklace pieces, embroidered cloth pieces, jewelries from the Byzantine era and candles are being exhibited in the museums along with the mummies.
Cat mummies
In the Mummies Hall in the Aksaray Museum, which displays numerous artifacts that are 11,000-years-old, one can see 10 adults, children and two cats that have been mummified. Cats were mummified in Egypt for the cat-headed goddess Bastet. According to historians, this tradition came to Anatolia from Egypt.
The Niğde Museum is home to the mummy of a nun, which was found in the Ihlara Valley and dates back to the 10th Century A.D., and four 13th-century child mummies that were discovered during an illegal excavation in Çanlı Kilise.
The only examples in the world that have been mummified with their internal organs are the nobles of İlhanlı in the province of Amasya. The mummies are the first of their kind in terms of the era they lived and their preservation methods.
The Amasya Museum displays eight mummies, four adults and four children. The mummies belong to Şehzade Cumudar, Emiri İşbuğu Nuyin, İzzettin Mehmet Pervane Bey, his wife, son and daughter. They were brought from the Amasya Burmalı Minare and the Fethiye Mosque’s tombs.

The Search for Clovis People in Kansas

Rolfe Mandel and a team of students from the University of Kansas are waiting for the results of tests to date the sediment samples they took from the Coffey Site, located in northeast Kansas along Tuttle Creek. “It will tell us a lot about the history of the peopling of the Americas and in particular the peopling of the Great Plains, especially the Central Great Plains, where it’s been pretty much a black hole in terms of unraveling that story,” he told Phys.org. They are hoping to find evidence of Clovis and Pre-Clovis people. “We are talking about small family units, hunters and gatherers. It’s a group of five or six, maybe a little bit larger wandering across the landscape. They’re following herds of animals. Of course, at the time, the assemblage of animals looked a lot different than what it does today,” he added.


The Growing Stones Of Romania
Yes, you read that right. Nature is happy to confirm this fact and guarantees to give you the weirdest things in life as always. Trovants are extraordinary rocks that grow and multiply and you can witness these rocks in Romania.
The growing stones aren't just unique because of its ability to multiply. These rocks are composed mainly by a hard stone core and the rest is made up of sand which forms around the core as its shell. Trovants can only be made by highly-porous sand accumulations and sandstone deposits that are cemented by waters rich in calcium carbonate.

1833 Meteor Storm Started Citizen Science

The science of shooting stars owes much to a storied episode of crowdsourcing, a new historical report shows, kicked off by a stunning 1833 meteor shower.

Astronomers have increasingly turned to 'citizen science' in the Internet era, setting up everyday folks to look for everything from alien worlds to the Milky Way's galactic gas bubbles. But in a new Endeavour journal report, Mark Littmann and Todd Suomela of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville show that there is nothing new about the practice, with one Yale astronomer pioneering crowdsourced astronomy well over a century ago.

Funeral horse pulling hearse died mid-procession

A grieving family were further distressed when a horse pulling a relative’s hearse dropped dead mid-procession. Police and a fire crew were called at around 1.40pm on Wednesday to Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch, east London, following reports that the animal had fallen sick. The firefighters from Hornchurch station left shortly later after realizing they could not save the horse and officers called the RSPCA for assistance. The road was closed for nearly two hours while the organizers, Harold Wood Funeral Services, of Chippenham Road, Harold Hill, arranged for the horse to be taken away. Andy White, 46, from Dorset, said: “It was horrible. It was my wife’s grandad’s funeral and it upset us all.”
The procession continued by car and despite the incident, Mr White described the company as “fantastic”. Ronnie, the deceased horse, was a middle-aged white carriage horse and was believed to be in good health, funeral director Carol Lawrence said. She said: “We are extremely sad to report the sudden death of Ronnie, a 14-year-old horse in service on the funeral in our care.
“There was no indication of any poor health and he was regularly seen by vets.” The director assured that there was no delay and the coffin was transferred from the horse-drawn cart and put in to a regular hearse that was part of the procession. She added: “The bereaved family are very sympathetic and we have been in touch with them.” Ronnie later received a private burial in a field in the Essex countryside in the stables he lived in.

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