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Friday, September 5, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1666 The Fire of London is extinguished after two days.
1664 After days of negotiation, the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam surrenders to the British, who will rename it New York.
1792 Maximilien Robespierre is elected to the National Convention in France.
1804 US Navy lieutenant Richard Somers and members of his crew are buried at Tripoli; they died when USS Intrepid exploded while entering Tripoli harbor on a mission to destroy the enemy fleet there during the First Barbary War.
1816 Louis XVIII of France dissolves the chamber of deputies, which has been challenging his authority.
1859 Harriot E. Wilson's Our Nig, is published, the first U.S. novel by an African American woman.
1867 The first shipment of cattle leaves Abilene, Kansas, on a Union Pacific train headed to Chicago.
1870 Author Victor Hugo returns to Paris from the Isle of Guernsey where he had lived in exile for almost 20 years.
1877 The great Sioux warrior Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted at age 36 by a soldier at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.
1878 Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman and Clay Allison, four of the West's most famous gunmen, meet in Dodge City, Kansas.
1905 The Russian-Japanese War ends as representatives of the combating empires, meeting in New Hampshire, sign the Treaty of Portsmouth. Japan achieves virtually all of its original war aims.
1910 Marie Curie demonstrates the transformation of radium ore to metal at the Academy of Sciences in France.
1944 Germany launches its first V-2 missile at Paris, France.
1958 Martin Luther King is arrested in an Alabama protest for loitering and fined $14 for refusing to obey police.
1960 Leopold Sedar Sengingor, poet and politician, is elected president of Senegal, Africa.
1969 Charges brought against US lieutenant William Calley in the March 1968 My Lai Massacre during Vietnam War.
1972 "Black September," a Palestinian terrorist group take 11 Israeli athletes hostage at the Olympic Games in Munich; by midnight all hostages and all but 3 terrorists are dead.
1975 President Gerald Ford evades an assassination attempt in Sacramento, California.
1977 Hanns-Martin Schleyer, a German business executive who headed to powerful organization and had been an SS officer during WW2, is abducted by the left-wing extremist group Red Army Faction, who execute him on Oct. 18.
1977 Voyager 1 space probe launched.
1978 Israel's Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat begin discussions on a peace process, at Camp David, Md.
1980 World's longest tunnel opens; Switzerland's St. Gotthard Tunnel stretches 10.14 miles (16.224 km) from Goschenen to Airolo.
1984 Space Shuttle Discovery lands afters its maiden voyage.
1996 Hurricane Fran comes ashore near Cape Fear, No. Car. It will kill 27 people and cause more than $3 billion in damage.

Non Sequitur


This wingnut Says Obama Is a Racist Then Calls Him a “Spade”

Wingnuts, and primarily repugicans, have noticed their racist tendencies are attracting a bit too much attention and for the second time in a month are attempting to distract…
Shout racism
Racism in America has been exposed as of late in part because of the preponderance of unarmed African Americans being gunned down coupled with the overwhelming show of military force in response to peaceful protests in Ferguson Missouri. In fact, this country’s racism has garnered the attention, and condemnation from around the world including a humanitarian committee within the United Nations that noted the repugican attacks on people of color’s voting rights, de facto segregation in education, as well as the inordinate attention African Americans receive from the justice system. Wingnuts, and primarily repugicans, have noticed their racist tendencies are attracting a bit too much attention and for the second time in a month are attempting to distract Americans with accusations that President Obama is a racist who hates and is waging a war on white people.
Last month it was repugican Mo Brooks who claimed the President and Democrats launched a strategic, and devious, war on whites by saying white Americans hate everyone else. According to Brooks, “The way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. It’s part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.” Obviously Brooks confuses equality with waging a war on white people, but his assertions were mild compared to lunatic fringe wingnut extremist Mychal Massie who wrote yesterday that President Obama is a racist.
Massie said the President values “blacks more than he valued all citizens, hates white people,” and called him a “race-mongering infidel.” Massie also used a derogatory racial epithet by calling the President a “spade.” Calling any African American a “spade,” regardless the context is a racial slur, and after Massie’s diatribe against President Obama as a racist who hates white people and values African Americans more than all citizens, the context is unmistakably racist. Throughout Massie’s tirade against the President, it is apparent that that besides claiming Obama hates white people, he attempted to make a connection between the President’s race and being un-American at least, and anti-America in particular.
According to the lunatic Massie, everyone in America (read; white people) comprehends that the President is a racist, a muslim, a socialist, and Leninist who ran for the Presidency solely to destroy America.  He said, “Now, except for those who are in a terminal state of denial based on an Erebusic (primordial darkness) ideology, and color of skin, there is no longer any doubt that Obama is a neo-Leninist Muslim sympathizer who is committed to transmogrifying America into something that will be unidentifiable to the America our Founding Fathers provided for vis-a-vis our Constitution.” Like most conservatives, Massie has no clue what “Leninism” means, but he does know accusing the African American President of destroying America through “neo-Leninism” incites anger among ignorant repugican supporters.
Massie even dusted off claim that the President is utilizing tactics he learned from Saul Alinsky’s communist handbook to decimate America and reminded white people that true American wingnuts warned the nation that Obama was intent on using his skin color to divide America with class warfare. He said, “Those of us who were paying close attention understood that America didn’t need changing and that Obama’s idea of change was to create a socialist state. We understood and warned people pursuant to exactly what Obama stood for, and we warned he was a neo-Leninist with a proclivity for radical Islam who would use skin color and class warfare to divide America.”
Massie is so certain the President is openly racist toward white people, he said Obama “pulled the curtains back for all to see by sanctioning Eric Holder to administer justice based on color-coded enforcement. He no longer even pretends to govern within the constraints of the Constitution. Some may still try to say he isn’t openly racist, but it is time to call this spade a spade.” Then, Massie gave the reasons he is sure the President of the United States is “openly racist” and hates white people. He said “If Obama didn’t value blacks more than he valued all citizens, regardless of their skin color, he wouldn’t have sent an ‘armada’ of representatives to the funeral of a black hoodlum. If he weren’t a race-mongering infidel, he wouldn’t have said Trayvon Martin looked like the son he didn’t have. He openly despises whites. And he exhibits his contempt for whites at every opportunity.” Unsurprisingly, Massie, like Mo Brooks, did not, and could not, cite any instances of the President’s contempt for whites, but that is typical of wingnut fearmongering and propaganda; proof is never required.
As noted, it is the repugican cabal and their wingnut backers who are waging a war on, and hate, white people; not any more than African Americans, but they have taken every opportunity to strip what little assistance, decent jobs, and opportunity for growth from their predominately white supporters in the South. The President has fought for the betterment of all Americans regardless of color only to be thwarted at every turn by the party of “angry white men.”  It is worth noting that this President has been extraordinarily careful, too careful in some opinions, about even mentioning the racial disparity prevalent in this country, or the deliberate assault on people of color by repugican-misled states and the wingnut Supreme Court.
The repugicans and their wingnut cohort can hardly deny they and their policies are openly racist, or cover over the fact that racism in this country is rampant, so they project their racial-animus on the President. Although using race was, and is still, an ongoing theme during the President’s two campaigns for the White House, it seemed curious that these claims that Obama is waging a war on whites, hates white people, and is a “racist infidel” are being spewed when the President is not seeking any office. However, it is glaringly apparent that wingnuts, particularly extremist wingnuts, are attempting to shift attention away from their blatant racism now that all but comatose people are aware that racism in America is a growing problem whether it is law enforcement murdering unarmed African Americans, repugicans restricting their voting rights, or repugicans using tried-and-true dog whistle appeals to the white supremacist base.
Men like Mychal Massie, Mo Brooks, Lush Dimbulb, and Faux News’ shrieking heads, although racist freaks-of-nature, are not outliers in the conservative movement; they just have no compunction saying out loud what their “angry white” base whispers in private. They know President Obama is not a racist, is not waging a war on whites, and does not value Black people over the rest of the population, but they do know well that nothing excites their racist base like screaming the African American in the Oval Office is out to get them whether it is coming for the precious guns, attacking their christianity as a “muslim sympathizer,” or attempting to destroy the Founding Fathers’ white America. Although Massie likely scored major points with the white supremacist crowd in the wingnut fantasyland claiming President Obama is “out to get them,” any American paying attention to recent events targeting people of color understand that calling the President a racist, accusing him of hating white people, or using a racial slur like “spade” is a distraction away from repugicans’ predilection toward racial bias and projection of their own hatred of African Americans that includes valuing white people over the rest of the population.

The repugicans Continue To Revive the Jim Crow Rhetoric and Tactics They Say Don’t Exist Anymore

Republican vote suppressin
As we get closer to the mid-term election, we long for the times when preparing to vote was a matter of volunteering for a voter registration drive, working for a candidate’s campaign, familiarizing ourselves with the issues.  If we moved since the last election, we need to update our voter registration information.
These days getting ready to vote entails checking to make sure our voter registration information is correct and finding out if the ID that was valid to prove eligibility to vote 2 years ago remains valid in 2014.  For many Americans, voting is a process that can mean losing a day of work – with that journey to the out of the way poll station and the hours waiting in line.  While Democrats are looking for ways to expand the vote and bring the experience voting back to advanced world standards, repugicans continue to restrict the vote and convey their displeasure with voting rights advocates who have the gall to encourage minorities and poor people to vote.  Although some repugicans are coming around to re-enfranchising ex- felons the prevailing sentiment within the Koch controlled party is one of disgust with popular elections.
If we had any doubts about the repugican cabal’s obsession with the “good old days” of Jim Crow, we only need to remember that some repugicans went on record to describe a voter registration drive in Ferguson, Missouri as disgusting.
The repugicans are all for voter registration drives as long as they don’t involve registering Democrats, minorities and poor people.
Of course, no one suppresses the vote like repugicans in Texas.  The state’s Attorney-General, Greg Abbott, is the repugican choice to replace Rick “Oops” Perry.  While nothing can motivate Abbott to oversee the distribution of tax payer dollars at a cancer center, it only took a propagandistic speech by Catherine Engelbrecht to give Abbott the incentive to shut down a voting rights organization.
Late last month, Dallas News told the story of a 2010 police protected by bullet proof vests with their weapons drawn raiding a house where Houston Votes was involved in the sinister business of registering poor people to vote and the role of Engelbrecht in making it happen.
By that summer, Houston Votes had come to the attention of the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party group.  At the group’s regular meeting in Houston, its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht talked about the New Black Panther Party.  She then played a Faux news clip of an unidentified black man saying: “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet.”
The clip was 5 years old.  It came from a forum in Washington about media coverage of Hurricane Katrina.  But after the clip ended, Engelbrecht showed a picture of a house in Houston.  She said it was the office of the New Black Panthers, at Main and Dowling street.
Engelbrecht gave Abbott all the incentive he needed to raid the house where Houston votes was registering poor people to vote.
Texas police served a search warrant before confiscating the group’s computers, hard  drives and documents.  Big surprise.  After a year long investigation, Abbott concluded Houston Votes hadn’t done anything illegal.  But his real objective was fulfilled because the group’s funding dried up leaving them unable to continue registering voters. To add insult to injury, Abbott saw to it that the group’s records were destroyed in 2013.
Not surprisingly, Abbott came up with a defense for the unwarranted raid and investigation.
Houston Votes had to fire more than 10 people for either falsifying or inappropriately duplicating registration forms, so there was some wrongdoing that was akin to ACORN-type political operations that deserved looking into,
You can count on Abbott to spend whatever it takes to defend it and take an active role in its realization.  He defended gerrymandering by arguing it was all about discriminating against Democrats. Don’t be surprised if he uses the same argument in the upcoming trial on the Voter ID bill.
If an organization that helps poor people register to vote has to fire people for breaking the rules, that’s good enough for Abbott to shut that organization down.
During the 2012 election season, repugicans hired the firm of longtime repugican agitator, Nathan Sproul  to register repugican voters and throw away the registration forms of Democrats. Sproul provided the shrub campaign with the same “service”.
If the organization had to rename itself after getting caught breaking voter registration rules and that organization belongs to Nathan Sproul, Abbott welcomes its assistance in his quest to keep the vote white.
North Carolina deserves honorable mention for sending voters on a trip back to the future in record time.
In the couple of years of Art Pope’s version of tea party rule, NC passed a Vote Suppression measures that competes with the big boys like Texas.  Aside from the standard restrictive Voter ID and registration provisions and reduced voting opportunities, NC repugicans waged war on student voters. They eliminated polls stations at public (and predominantly black) colleges and made every effort to disenfranchise the students.
Voting rights groups and the DOJ are challenging the Texas and North Carolina laws.  The Texas law will be considered this month, while the NC law will be considered in June 2015.
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s law enforcement is arresting people, including a former candidate for the State’s senate for leaving voter registration leaflets on people’s cars. As reported by Think Progress, Ty Turner was arrested for distributing literature based on an ordinance that wasn’t enforced before. After all, nothing threatens law and order more than registering people to vote.

As the World Watches The U.S. Response to Terrorism, The Fate of The Blackwater 4 Goes to The Jury

The murders of Steve Sotloff and James Foley remind us just how flawed the shrub junta’s decision to go to war in Iraq was. Not only did they lie us into that war, they violated the Geneva Conventions before the shrub junta decided on the terms that Americans would leave.
On September 16, 2007, contractors for Blackwater (now named Academi, shot 30 people at Nisoor Square in Bagdad, killing 17 of them.  The Iraqi government wanted the contractors prosecuted by Iraqi courts. Iraq repealed all laws granting immunity to foreign military contractors. The U.S. State Department granted immunity on October 29. The Department of Justice reversed it arguing that the State Department lacked authority to grant immunity.
The criminal trial of four Blackwater/Academi contractors on a range of charges was sent to the jury for deliberation on Tuesday. Their involvement in the shooting is not in dispute. Charges against a fifth contractor were dropped because of a lack of evidence.
The rest of the facts are in dispute.
According to Blackwater, the guards were trying to clear a path for a State Department convoy that was en route to the Green Zone.  The defense claims a white Kia appeared to be carrying a possible car bomb.  The Kia pulled out of traffic and it was approaching the convoy. The defense also claims the Kia was not provoked but fired on the convoy.  That justified a response from the guards.
Prosecutors dispute the claim that the Kia fired on the State Department convoy.  According to them, the team of contractors drove four armored trucks into the square.  Prosecutors say the gunfire was so extensive that “bloody, bullet-riddled corpses were left strewn throughout the area.”  One of the Iraqis who was killed was a 9-year-old boy whose brains “fell out at his father’s feet.” At the time, the international community was outraged.
The FBI investigated and found 14 of the deaths were unjustified and the contractors violated the deadly force rules for security contractors in Iraq.
As a result, Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty were charged with 14 deaths and 18 shootings that were not fatal.  Slatten faces first-degree murder charges for killing the Kia driver.  Slough, Heard and Liberty face voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and guns charges.  If convicted, Slatten faces life in prison while the other three face mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years each.
The several co-workers who testified against them did so under immunity agreements.  At this moment, the jury is deciding the fate of the four.
The timing of this trial makes the President’s job of deciding on the appropriate response to a bloody thirsty and barbaric group of psychotic terrorists more challenging. As usual, repugicans in Congress remain on vacation and Faux News continues its anti-Obama propaganda campaign.
Aside from the murders of Sotloff and Foley, there is no word that accurately describes the degree of ISIS’ barbarity. Genocide, rape, killing religious minorities and anyone who gets in their way is a part of it.  They want to terrorize the world.  They used video of Sotloff and Foley’s beheadings and threats of killing more of their hostages as part of their terrorism campaign.
When looking at ISIS’ brutality one might be tempted to dismiss the significance of the Blackwater 4′s trial because their acts pale in comparison to the barbarity and savagery of ISIS.
The trial does matter because while rightly condemning ISIS for its brutality, that condemnation rings hollow if no one is held to account for criminal acts done in our name.  The highest officials in the shrub junta, including the shrub and Darth Cheney, committed war crimes with impunity. Too many of the people still being held at Guantanamo Bay either did nothing wrong or cannot be charged because the evidence against them was obtained through torture.
Blackwater’s controversies didn’t start or end with the September 2007 shooting. Weeks before, the State Department was investigating the company’s operations in Iraq.
The families of four contractors sued Xe (the name Blackwater took in 2009 before it was renamed again in 2011, as Academi) to learn the details of their loved ones deaths. The manager of Blackwater allegedly threatened to kill Jean Richter, a U.S. State Department investigator. According to a report by Jean Richter, Blackwater “created an environment full of liability and neglect” while under a $1 billion contract to protect our diplomats.
“The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,” the investigator, Jean C. Richter, wrote in an Aug. 31, 2007, memo to State Department officials. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” he said, adding that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”
In 2012, Academi paid $7.5 million in fines without admitting guilt to settle various charges involving “pre-Academi” employees.
Regardless of the verdicts reached by the jury, the outcome of this trial has international implications. The history of Blackwater/Xe/Academi suggests that fear prevailed over holding the company and its contractors accountable for other acts.
This is not to say that these four should pay for Blackwater’s acts or management structure.
If the evidence is as stated by the prosecution, then anything less than guilty verdicts makes a mockery of the values we tell the world that we believe in.  Some may dismiss this concern as an indulgence in idealism.  However, the fallout is not limited to whether the world perceives us as staunch defenders of the rule of law or if this is another case of hypocrisy.
If we don’t punish our war criminals, who is going to punish theirs?
There are national security consequences as well.  If we tell the world, our mercenaries can do whatever they want to anyone they want with impunity, we are in no position to talk about the rule of law and human rights.  Losing that moral authority also means we lose the means to influence other countries like Syria or Russia.  It means more barbarity, savagery and less international stability.
Last, it means that the lowest common denominator decides what kind of world we live in. In this case, ISIS, but if we go on what the world was like before human rights existed, it will look a lot like the world ISIS envisions

Vice President Joe Biden Tells ISIS That America Will Follow Them To The ‘Gates Of Hell’

joe biden new hampshireedited

At an event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotionally charged message regarding the recent deaths of journalists Steven Sotloff and Jim Foley at the hands of ISIS. Biden told the gathered crowd that America will follow the perpetrators of the murders of Sotloff and Foley “to the gates of hell to bring them to justice.” The Vice President brought up 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing as instances where the country’s resolve was strong and that we did not stop until the terrorists that caused these acts were brought to justice.

During his speech, Biden said the following:
They somehow think this is going to lessen our resolve, frighten us, intimidate us. But, if they think the American people are going to be intimidated, they don’t know us very well. We came back after 9/11. We dusted ourselves off and we made sure Osama Bin Laden would never, ever again threaten the American people. We came back ‘Boston Strong’ blaming no one but resolved to be certain that this didn’t happen again.
Today, America may be grieving — still grieving from Jim Foley, a native New Hampshire as I said of Rochester — but the American people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy can fully understand. As a nation, we’re united. And when people harm Americans, we don’t retreat. We don’t forget. We take care of those who are grieving. And when that’s finished, they should know, we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice! Because hell is where they will reside! Hell is where they will reside!
These strong words from Biden came on the heels of comments from President Obama earlier in the day during a press conference in Estonia. After verifying the authenticity of the video showing an ISIS militant murdering Sotloff, the President made the following comment:
“We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”
Secretary of State John Kerry also released a statement on Wednesday regarding the killing of Steven Sotloff. The Secretary praised Sotloff’s reporting and the man himself. At the same time, he pointed out that the terrorists responsible for the murders of Sotloff and Foley will be held accountable.
Barbarity, sadly, isn’t new to our world. Neither is evil. We’ve taken the fight to it before, and we’re taking the fight to it today. When terrorists anywhere around the world have murdered our citizens, the United States held them accountable, no matter how long it took. And those who have murdered James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria should know that the United States will hold them accountable too, no matter how long it takes.
It is apparent that the current administration is taking the actions of ISIS very seriously. While those who perpetrated these heinous acts will be brought to justice, the White House will still be extremely cautious about getting the nation involved in a long-term military conflict halfway around the globe. They are well aware that ISIS is using these actions to push the United States into an emotionally charged decision and engage in a multi-front war in the Middle East. Hopefully, the majority of lawmakers in Washington, will offer support to the President surrounding the very tough decisions that lay in front of him over the coming days and weeks.

ISIL Will Continue its Terror Campaign Until the World Says Enough! And Means it

ISILSo we’ve got this group in the Middle East kidnapping and enslaving people, holding foreigners for ransom, and generally getting rich off the misery of others, all in the name of god. We’ve seen this before in history. We’ve seen it many times. And it is terrifying.
Perhaps not since the Assyrians has the world seen a gang of thugs so adept at spreading terror among its enemies. The old Assassins of 11th century fame have nothing on these guys. They make al-Qaeda seem Pikers in comparison.
There is an art to spreading terror: For the Assyrians it was impalement, a spike up the fundament. The Romans liked to crucify. The French revolutionaries spread terror with Madam Guillotine. But ISIL prefers messy beheadings with a combat knife. These are people who have seen twerking and found its exact opposite.
For centuries, the “Barbary Pirates,” so-called because they operated out of the area known to Europeans as the Barbary Coast after its indigenous Berbers, did the same, only on sea rather than on land.
The Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS) claims to have re-established the Caliphate, but the Barbary Pirates had as their nominal suzerain the Caliph in Constantinople himself. And they raided far and wide, even as far as Iceland.
We rightly lament the loss of the few Westerners killed or captured by the Islamic State, but Wikipedia informs us that, “Historian Robert C. Davis estimated that between 1530 and 1780 1-1.25 million Europeans were captured and taken as slaves to North Africa, principally Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, but also Constantinople and SalĂ©.”
Imagine that today, in the age of the world-wide media, where the loss of even one innocent Westerner creates outrage.
The long horror of the Barbary Pirates was not stilled without violence. When the West could take no more, it struck back. The United States struck back. It was the activities of the Barbary Pirates which led to the establishment of the U.S. Navy, six frigates funded to face down the “Algerian corsairs.”. But meanwhile, like everyone else, the new country paid ransom.
ISIL demands millions for the release of hostages and again, this is nothing new. Michael B. Orem tells us that,
[O]n September 5, 1795, America signed a Treaty of Amity and Friendship with Algiers. In return for releasing American prisoners, the Algerian ruler would receive a long list of gifts — “25 chests of tea of 4 different qualities…6 Quintal of loaf sugar refined…Some elegant penknives. Some small guilt thimbles, scissor cases…a few shawls, with roses curiously wrought in them….” worth more than $650,000. Worse than that, though, the U.S. also agreed to provide Algiers with cannons, gunpowder and a 36-gun made-in-America warship — in essence, the very tools of piracy.
The sums paid were staggering. He goes on to tell us that,
The other regencies caught on, and soon Tunis and Tripoli had extracted similar concessions — so many, in fact, that by 1800, the United States was paying out 20% of all its federal revenues to North Africa.
The European powers fought back, as America ultimately did. When, in the wake of the beheading of journalist James Foley, President Barack Obama said, “The United States of America will continue to do what we must to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” he was only repeating what Americans had said about the Barbary Pirates two centuries before.
From Malta to Spain to France and England, Western fleets shelled Algiers in the old-fashioned equivalent to air strikes, forcing concessions and peace. Two actual wars were fought, the First Barbary War in 1801 and the Second in 1815. Finally, France conquered Algiers in 1830, rooting out the pirates at their source, as Pompey once did the Cilician pirates of Asia Minor.
The point of all this is the lesson learned by Rome and by other states since, that the bad guys do not simply go away. You have to make them go away. Paying them ransoms may save the few or even the many, may put off the inevitable for a time, but in the end, ransoms only encourages more kidnappings.
President Obama said, “People like this [ISIL] ultimately fail,” and he is right that “They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy,” but they don’t fail without being destroyed themselves.
The Barbary Pirates persisted in their activities until destroyed by European powers unwilling any longer to put up with what we would today call their terroristic activities. The Islamic State, unless too firmly grounded in a cult of personality around Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his Rolex, will also likely persist until somebody gets weary enough of their terroristic activities to forcibly silence them.
President Obama has said groups like ISIL have “no place in the 21st century,” but they will have a place until somebody takes that place from them. Kind words will no more suffice than ransoms. There are some problems diplomacy cannot solve. It could not solve the Barbary Pirates and it will not solve the Islamic State.
Whether it is ultimately the United States itself, or a coalition of Western powers or perhaps the Islamic countries threatened by the so-called Caliphate, ISIL will be taken down by force.
As the example of the Assyrian Empire proves, a power subsisting on terror rather than on nation-building, will ultimately fall to the neighbors it has terrorized. ISIL has enemies aplenty. What it lacks is an enemy stronger than it, able and willing to shell them into submission, a task which, as history again proves, requires boots on the ground.
The shrub’s misguided policy of plundering Iraq to make he and his repugican friends rich, is responsible for the creation of conditions in that country and the rise of ISIL. If America is too war-weary now to contemplate striking ISIL at its source, it is also thanks to the shrub fighting a 10-year-war that need not have been fought. Now, when there is a need for war, the country has no will to fight it.
Obama gets the blame in the media, but it is not Obama who is to blame. He’s merely the guy who inherited the Middle East the shrub destroyed. The shrub gave us one war during his presidency and has condemned us to fight another in the echoes of his failure.
Now ISIL is the world’s problem. The United States will not, because it cannot, act alone. And ISIL will continue its campaign of terror until the rest of the world says “Enough” and, as it did with the Barbary Pirates, means it. And the American people will have to decide if they are more tired of war or of the terrorists of ISIL.

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The Prison Special: One Last Push for Women's Suffrage

In 1919, things weren’t looking good for women’s suffrage. Although the House had passed the Nineteenth Amendment, the Senate had voted it down. Politicians were tired of the suffragists, and President Wilson wasn’t helping matters. Also, activists were being arrested left and right and were abused in prison. What to do? Organize a train ride!
They called it "Democracy Limited," but the public immediately dubbed the three-week suffrage tour of February 1919 "The Prison Special." Its purpose? Make one last push for suffrage by harnessing the power of personal narrative. Its focus? The inhumane prison sentences served by so many women who fought for the vote.

The concept was relatively simple: the tour's slogan was "From Prison to People" and the train traveled the nation, packed with 26 members of the National Women's Party. When they arrived at their destination, they would don uniforms like the ones they were forced to wear at the Occoquan Workhouse, the prison that would eventually house over 150 suffragists. Alice Paul was force-fed egg yolks and placed in solitary confinement in a psychiatric ward. There, women were beaten, dragged, kicked, and even knocked unconscious by guards unsympathetic to the crowds. Now the same women brought their tales of incarceration and unsanitary, shocking conditions to the public, concluding with passionate pleas for President Wilson to act at last.
Not everyone greeted the tour with open arms, but it ended up helping to push the Amendment through the Senate. Read the story of the Hail Mary move that served as the end of the campaign for the right for women to vote, at mental_floss.

The 60 Weirdest Royal Epithets from History

It's an established tradition that noblemen often get epithets--an adjective that describes that person's defining characteristic. But not every nobleman can be Charles the Great, Philip the Bold, or Suleiman the Magnificent. Some aristocrats through history have received less flattering nicknames. Paul Anthony Jones of Mental Floss has rounded up 60 odd or insulting epithets. Here are a few samples:
5. ALFONSO THE SLOBBERER was King of Galicia from 1188-1230. He apparently earned his nickname because he foamed at the mouth when enraged. […]
9. ARCHIBALD THE LOSER was the son of Archibald the Grim, who served as 4th Earl of Douglas from his father’s death until his own death in battle in France in 1424. […]
18. CHILDERIC THE IDIOT was King of the Franks from 743-751. No one is quite sure what he did to earn the epithet “the Idiot,” but seeing as he ended his reign by being deposed and consigned to a monastery, it may be nothing more than an attempt by his successors to tarnish his name. […]
21. CONSTANTINE THE DUNG-NAMED was the nickname of Constantine V, the Byzantine Emperor from 741-55. The Latin epithet Copronymus, “dung-named,” was unsurprisingly bestowed on him by his many enemies. […]
25. EYSTEIN THE FART, Eystein Halfdansson, was an 8th century king of Norway. The epithet “Fart” is usually taken to mean that he was a busybody or loudmouth, although no definitive explanation has yet been found. […]
33. HALFDAN THE BAD ENTERTAINER, also known as King Halfdan the Mild, was the son of Eystein the Fart. His nickname apparently refers to his habit of paying his soldiers generously, but providing them with little food or entertainment. […]
35. HENRY THE IMPOTENT was king of Castile from 1454-74. His nickname probably refers to his disastrously ineffectual reign, although some accounts have since suggested that Henry was genuinely impotent, if not secretly homosexual.
36. IVAYLO THE CABBAGE, also known as “Ivaylo the Swineherd,” was a Bulgarian farmer who led a peasants’ revolt in the late 13th century and proclaimed himself Emperor of Bulgaria in 1278. He was overthrown the following year and assassinated. […]
45. LOUIS THE UNAVOIDABLE was the nickname of Louis XVIII of France, who spent much of his reign in the late 1700s and early 1800s either in prison or in exile during the French Revolution. When Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815, Louis was the “unavoidable” choice to return and reclaim the throne.

How Batista From Guardians of the Galaxy Inspired an Autistic Child

Sometimes, the web is full of irreverence and silliness, which can be a good thing. But sometimes, in some far flung corner of the interwebz, you will find a story that feeds your soul a bit. For me today, this was that story. Essentially, a girl who has a brother who is borderline Autistic went to see Gaurdians of the Galaxy. For those who don't know, the Drax character cannot understand metaphors or sarcasm and seems to take everything literally. The girl noticed her little brother instantly relating to Drax as he never had with an on-screen character before:
I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!” And for the rest of the film my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture.
So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (one of his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.
You can click the link below the read the full story, and I suggest you do. Pretty sure this might be the best thing that has ever come out of a summer movie with a talking raccoon (no insult to this fun and enjoyable film, but who knew it could have such an important impact?).
Well played. A superhero who can make a kid who feels ostracized feel normal? Now that, to me, defines superhero.

Gates and Gun Control

Bill Gates just threw a million dollars behind a new legal measure in Washington State aimed at tighter gun control. Trace explains the details of the bill Gates is backing. 

Courage in the Workplace

Workplace courage: more process than personality

Unlike the cowardly lion in the book The Wonderful Wizard […]



Fingers and Toes: Nails that is

In a growth race between toenails and fingernails, fingers win every time. Why would evolution make that happen?

Fruity Allergies

The new study is the first to link an allergic reaction to antibiotics in fruit. 

Your House Stinks

Ever wonder why everything smells fine in your house until you go away for awhile and then come back wondering, "Why does it stink in here?" You can thank your brain for that, Tara explains. 

Daily Comic Relief


40 Tremendous College Traditions

After Labor Day, the great exodus commences, in which college students make their way back to school from their various summer residences. In this week’s mental_floss video, John Green takes advantage of so many folks thinking of college to tell us about 40 traditions at different colleges and universities that freshmen must learn. These traditions give the student body a feeling of membership and solidarity that will last many years after graduation.

Back To School

For children growing up in ancient Sparta, India or China, back to school had an entirely different meaning than it does today.

They Be Trippin'

Mind-altering substances were all the rage 1,500 years ago, at least among certain elite members of a South American society.

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female

female Viking warriors proof buried with swords bones rape pillage Vikings TV show
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole “rape and pillage” thing, too.
Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided to revamp the way they studied Viking remains. Previously, researchers had misidentified skeletons as male simply because they were buried with their swords and shields. (Female remains were identified by their oval brooches, and not much else.) By studying osteological signs of gender within the bones themselves, researchers discovered that approximately half of the remains were actually female warriors, given a proper burial with their weapons.
It’s been so difficult for people to envision women’s historical contributions as solely getting married and dying in childbirth, but you can’t argue with numbers—and fifty/fifty is pretty damn good. The presence of female warriors also has researchers now wondering just how accurate the stereotypes of raping and pillaging actually are:
Women may have accompanied male Vikings in those early invasions of England, in much greater numbers than scholars earlier supposed, (Researcher) McLeod concludes. Rather than the ravaging rovers of legend, the Vikings arrived as marriage-minded colonists.
In many ways, this discovery is well-timed with the recent uproar over Thor becoming a title for both sexes instead of an exclusively male name. Fingers crossed this means that pop culture could start including more female warriors than just Sif and Lagertha (from The History Channel’s Vikings, above). Just so long as they’re not wearing boob plate armor.

Dry spell at Stonehenge reveals secret that has eluded archaeologists

Brown patches of grass left by short hosepipe lead to 'lightbulb moment' that may confirm monument was once a perfect circle
An orthophoto of Stonehenge
An orthophoto of Stonehenge taken from the air shows the brown patches of grass where stones may once have completed the circle. Photograph: English Heritage/Damian Grady
One of the many mysteries of Stonehenge may have been solved, not because of a scientific breakthrough or painstaking research, but after a maintenance team's hosepipe turned out to be a little short.
Archaeologists have long argued over whether the ancient monument was once a perfect circle or if it was always, as it is now, an incomplete ring.
When a hosepipe used to keep the grass green in hot spells failed to reach a broken part of the circle, unsightly brown patches began to appear. Custodian Tim Daw was fretting over the blemishes when he realized they matched the spots where stones would probably have stood if the monument had been a complete circle.
Daw said it was a "lightbulb moment". "I was standing on the public path looking at the grass near the stones and thinking we needed to find a longer hosepipe to get the parched patches to green up," he said.
"I remembered that the marks were where archaeologists had looked without success for signs that there had been stone holes. I called my colleague over and he saw them and realized their possible significance as well. Not being archaeologists, we called in the professionals.
"I am still amazed, and very pleased, that simply looking at something that tens of thousands of people had unwittingly seen, can reveal secrets that sophisticated machinery can't."
The professionals duly took charge. Aerial photographs were hurriedly commissioned before the rain could come and remove the brown patches, and the scorch marks on the western side of the Wiltshire site were mapped, and some of the brown patches indeed tallied with where stones would have stood if the circle were complete.
Other brown patches corresponded to recorded archaeological excavations, included trenches dug by the engineer William Gowland in 1901. That some of the patches matched the site of the trenches supports the theory that they indicate disturbed ground.
The patches were spotted last summer, but the conclusions have just been detailed in a report by Daw and other English Heritage staff published in the latest edition of the journal Antiquity. The report points out that, despite being one of the most intensively explored prehistoric monuments, Stonehenge continues to hold surprises. It also highlights the value of continually surveying the site from the ground and air.
Susan Greaney, senior properties historian for English Heritage, said the accidental discovery was "really significant" and added: "It shows us just how much we still have to learn about Stonehenge. It's great that people who know the site really well and look at it every day were able to spot these parch marks and recognize them for what they were."
Greaney said what might have happened to the missing stones remained a puzzle. They could have been removed and used as stone for local houses or even roads. But the lack of a decent-sized hosepipe means the idea that the circle was deliberately left incomplete can probably be discounted.
There are no plans to excavate beneath the brown marks, but English Heritage, which manages Stonehenge, may deliberately fail to water parts of the site next time there is a hot spell in case other mysteries can be solved.

Neanderthal Art

Possibly the first known example of Neanderthal rock art has been discovered in a seaside cave on the Rock of Gibraltar, archaeologists say. 

Ocean Garbage Origins

Studying how water moves gives scientists a better idea of where ocean debris is coming from and a new way of looking at oceans.

Infared Ebola

New airport Ebola screening procedures in some countries include using infrared cameras to take body temperature. 

Face Mites

In what's likely to be unsettling news to, well, anyone, it turns out we have little mites making a living on our faces. They eat, sleep and even have sex in your pores. How did they get there, and what makes our faces such good homes? 

Mushroom Animals

Animals that look very similar to the mushrooms you find in salads and on pizza have been found living in the deep sea.

Animal Pictures