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

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts - You got it ALL WRONG ..!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

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Today in History

1504 Michelangelo's 13-foot marble statue of David is unveiled in Florence, Italy.
1529 The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman re-enters Buda and establishes John Zapolyai as the puppet king of Hungary.
1565 Spanish explorers found St. Augustine, Florida, the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States.
1628 John Endecott arrives with colonists at Salem, Massachusetts, where he will become the governor.
1644 The Dutch colony of New Amsterdam surrenders to the British fleet that sails into its harbor. Five years later, the British change the name to New York.
1755 British forces under William Johnson defeat the French and the Indians at the Battle of Lake George.
1760 The French surrender the city of Montreal to the British.
1845 A French column surrenders at Sidi Brahim in the Algerian War.
1863 Confederate Lieutenant Dick Dowling thwarts a Union naval landing at Sabine Pass, northeast of Galveston, Texas.
1903 Between 30,000 and 50,000 Bulgarian men, women and children are massacred in Monastir by Turkish troops seeking to check a threatened Macedonian uprising.
1906 Robert Turner invents the automatic typewriter return carriage.
1915 Germany begins a new offensive in Argonne on the Western Front.
1921 Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C., is named the first Miss America.
1925 Germany is admitted into the League of Nations.
1935 Senator Huey Long of Louisiana is shot to death in the state capitol, allegedly by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss, Jr.
1944 Germany's V-2 offensive against England begins.
1945 Korea is partitioned by the Soviet Union and the United States.
1951 Japanese representatives sign a peace treaty in San Francisco.
1955 The United States, Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Thailand sign the mutual defense treaty that established the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
1960 Penguin Books in Britain is charged with obscenity for trying to publish the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterly's Lover.
1960 President Eisenhower dedicates NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
1971 The Kennedy Center opens in Washington, DC with a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Mass.
1974 President Gerald Ford pardons former President Richard M. Nixon for any crimes arising from the Watergate scandal he may have committed while in office.
1988 Wildfires in Yellowstone National Park in the US, the world's first national park, force evacuation of the historic Old Faithful Inn; visitors and employees evacuated but the inn is saved.
1991 Macedonian Independence Day; voters overwhelmingly approve referendum to form the Republic of Macedonia, independent of Yugoslavia.
1994 USAir Flight 427 crashes on approach to Pittsburgh International Airport, killing all 132 people aboard; subsequent investigation leads to changes in manufacturing practices and pilot training.

Non Sequitur


The Historic Obamacare News In The Latest Health Care Spending Report

In a historical aberration, out-of-pocket spending on health care is expected to decrease in 2014, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, because of expanded insurance coverage under Obamacare.CMS actuaries, writing in Health Affairs, projected that Americans' out-of-pocket spending would decrease by 0.2 percent. While that's a small drop, it's a big change from the historical trend of steadily increasing out-of-pocket spending. Out-of-pocket spending increased by 3.2 percent in 2013. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt, such spending has only decreased in 1967 (Medicare and Medicaid took effect) and in 1994 and 2009 under slowing economies.
The cause this year is Obamacare.

Did you know ...

About California's 1% is hogging water during the drought
That leading anti-marijuana researchers are paid by pain killer drug companies
About the repugican wave?  What repugican wave?
That cities are making spiders grow bigger and multiply faster
Here is the redefining laziness:  corporate welfare
That a 'Cops' crew member is killed by police during shoot out
That Florida republicans are nastier than you thought
That archeologists scramble to unearth a 2,600 year old city before it becomes a copper mine
That for the past 65 years, every U.S. Treasurer has been a woman
That Apple desperately needs the iphone 6 to be a hit

Ferguson Police Chief Caught In Huge Lie Surrounding Michael Brown Surveillance Video

tom jackson
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson was caught in a huge lie on Friday when it was revealed that he did not get “a lot of Freedom of Information requests” for a surveillance video from a local store the day 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. On Aug. 15th, Jackson finally released Wilson’s identity after keeping it hidden for nearly a week. However, at the same press conference, Jackson also released still photos and a video from a ‘strong-arm robbery’ that occurred at Ferguson Market minutes before Brown was confronted and killed by Wilson on August 9th.
When pressed for a reason he released both Wilson’s identity and this video at the exact same time, Jackson stated that he had received numerous media requests for the specific information related to the apparent robbery of the store. However, Matthew Keys, who writes for The Blot, confirmed on Friday that the Ferguson Police Department had not received any specific FOIA requests relating to a robbery involving Brown. In fact, the only request they got related to Brown stemmed from a general request from Joel Currier, a crime and police reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
After Keys article had come out on Friday, the Huffington Post’s Matt Sledge asked Currier on Twitter the specific nature of Currier’s request to the police department regarding Brown. Currier responded to Sledge with the following tweets.

As Keys pointed out in his article, Currier was the only one who made a specific request to Ferguson PD, and his request was actually quite broad and encompassing. Other pieces of information that could have been included per Currier’s request (911 call, dispatch reports, incident report) have still not been released. Instead, Jackson decided to release a tape of an alleged robbery that he admitted later had nothing to do with the encounter between Wilson and Brown. The police chief himself has stated that Wilson only confronted Brown over jaywalking and was not aware of any apparent robbery that had been committed minutes earlier.
Jackson’s release of the tape reignited tension in the community and led to a renewed outburst of violence and looting that evening. After a day and evening filled with peaceful protests that Thursday, anger and frustration with local police swelled back up on Friday after Jackson’s press conference and subsequent statements. Eventually, the police force on the scene, commanded by Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, resorted back to the militarized tactics that brought heavy criticism in the days immediately following Brown’s death.
In my personal opinion, I think Jackson released the tape for petty and personal reasons. After he and St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar had been roundly criticized for their excessive use of police force in dealing with protesters, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon removed them from command in Ferguson and placed Johnson at the helm. Johnson then bonded with the protesters as he walked with them as they marched and spoke with them personally. He also took a ‘soft’ approach, asking his officers to not wear tactical gear and basically allow protesters to gather peacefully and make their voices heard.
This obviously rubbed Jackson the wrong way. Therefore, he decided to antagonize and incite the community by releasing the store tape the same time as Wilson’s name. He knew this would eventually cause anger to spill over and force Johnson to eventually change tactics. While Johnson allowed looting to take place on Friday without sending in a heavy police presence, eventually he pushed for a curfew and allowed the officers on the scene to utilize SWAT gear and the military-style vehicles and weapons that had been heavily criticized.
Beyond setting up Johnson to fail, Jackson also likely released the tape to provide further cover for Wilson. He knew that releasing Wilson’s name was going to be a huge story. Therefore, he wanted to do whatever possible to distract and redirect the focus away from Wilson. Jackson’s big idea was to go ahead and use his national spotlight to portray Brown as a vicious thug and make that the story. All of a sudden, the media would write about a supposed robbery and push Wilson and his identity to the side.
Thankfully for the people of Ferguson, the Department of Justice is investigating the entire police department for civil rights violations. Considering the actions of its police chief in just these past few weeks, it seems apparent that they will find quite a bit to hammer the PD on. As for Jackson, how this guy still has a job is beyond me. He needs to be fired ASAP!

Bob McDonnell showed us the meaning of wingnut 'Family Values' depends on the circumstances

Bob and Maureen McDonnellSince a Virginia jury convicted Bob and Maureen McDonnell on multiple corruption charges, many commented on the message the verdict sent to corrupt politicians. Meanwhile, the “family values” repugican cabal/tea party is trying to rehabilitate itself with women by holding men only fundraisers and lecturing us on how we can protect ourselves from sexual assaults if we just focused on marriage instead of careers.
Ironically, throughout his trial Bob McDonnell told us what wingnut style “family values” means in practice.  In short, it depends on the circumstances.  Throughout his political career, Bob McDonnell’s family was the center of his universe.  When he and his wife were on trial, McDonnell showed us the version of family values he believes in when the going gets tough.
As a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, McDonnell was thoroughly schooled on morality and family values, wingnut style. His Master’s Thesis, “The repugican cabal’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade” was a testament to the family values he learned.
During his gubernatorial campaign, McDonnell used every opportunity to show Virginians that he is a true “family values” candidate by including his family in political ads and using them as props when the occasion called for it.  He walked the walk of wingnut “family values” by allowing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and he signed mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions into law.
He was the repugican cabal’s walking billboard for “family values”.  We got a peek at what “family values” really means to Bob McDonnell when he rejected a deal that would have spared his wife of any charges and the couple could have avoided a trial.  Bob McDonnell would have escaped conviction on all the corruption charges, in exchange for accepting a plea on one felony fraud charge.
Granted, wingnuts may believe that McDonnell put his “faith in the lord” that he and his wife would be exonerated on all charges – and that made going to trial a worthwhile sacrifice.
However, the day McDonnell rejected that deal was the day we learned that McDonnell’s version of “family values” means the dutiful loyal wife takes the fall while hubby assaults her character.
Before the McDonnells faced criminal charges, they were the picture of the ideal happily married wingnut couple. Then they offered up the broken marriage defense.
The strategy has been a stunner coming from the McDonnells, who betrayed no hint of marital strife from the time the governor carried the first lady over the Executive Mansion threshold on Inauguration Day in 2010 to January, when they stood smilingly arm in arm at his successor’s swearing-in.
At trial, however, their defense hinged on persuading the jury that since their marriage was broken, they couldn’t have been committing crimes together.  Of course, that doesn’t work because people don’t need to be married, let alone happily married, to swap political favors for cash and gifts.
The irony is the broken marriage defense actually proved the McDonnells are liars. Dahlia Lithwick noted,
You just can’t explain lies with lies. And the McDonnell strategy always seemed to be just that: “We couldn’t have been lying to you about our finances, Virginia, because we were too busy lying to you about everything else. We lied about our marriage for years. We lied about our values and our integrity. We lied about our political and economic convictions. We lied about the centrality of family and marriage to our vision of governance.
But Bob McDonnell didn’t stop there.
The assassination on Maureen McDonnell’s character continued throughout the trial with “revelations” that Maureen had a “crush” on the couple’s Daddy Sugar aka dodgy businessman, Jonnie Williams. The corruption was all Maureen’s doing. She was a dumb bunny who got sucked into Jonnie Williams’s web of corruption.  Mr. Family values knew nothing about swapping favors from the governor in exchange for gifts and money.  Poor Governor Family Values felt “betrayed” when his “friend, Jonnie Williams contradicted the claim that Maureen had a crush on him and more so when Williams testified that he wrote the checks to the McDonnell family’s “breadwinner.”
The fact that Bob McDonnell did Williams some “favors” in exchange for those checks was merely part of his job as governor.
Poor, innocent Bob McDonnell.  He was the long-suffering upstanding family values governor suffering because of his wife’s flawed character.
He did favors for Jonnie Williams, but the corruption was all on his wife with the roving eye. Maureen was the “nutbag” who was disappointed when she found out his salary as a prosecutor and bad Maureen was “less happy” than he was when he won the gubernatorial election.
Suddenly the same woman who Candidate “family values” McDonnell said did the heavy lifting of raising their five children, while building a business and was on demand as his political prop became the “nutbag” who had eyes for his “friend” and brought about a repugican shining star’s political downfall.
On Friday, lawyers for Bob and Maureen McDonnell said they plan to appeal the verdict reached by a Virginia jury on Thursday. It will be interesting to see what versions of the truth and the state of the McDonnell’s marriage their lawyers will ask the court to believe this time.

Senate report confirms that repugicans Lied about the IRS only targeting wingnuts

issa irs
A newly released report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee On Investigations confirms that both liberal and wingnut groups received the same bad treatment and were targeted by the IRS. In short, repugicans lied about the IRS only targeting wingnuts.
The Executive Summary section of the report put the repugican IRS conspiracy down for the count,
The Subcommittee investigation has reached many of the same conclusions as the TIGTA audit of the 501(c)(4) application process. The Subcommittee investigation found that the IRS used inappropriate screening criteria when it flagged for increased scrutiny applications based upon the applicants’ names or political views rather than direct evidence of their involvement with campaign activities. The Subcommittee investigation also found significant program mismanagement, including years-long delays in processing 501(c)(4) applications; inappropriate, intrusive, and burdensome questioning of groups; and poor communication and coordination between IRS officials in Washington and Cincinnati. At the same time, like TIGTA, the Subcommittee investigation found no evidence of IRS political bias in selecting 501(c)(4) applications for heightened review, as distinguished from using poor judgment in crafting the selection criteria. Based on investigative work that went beyond what TIGTA examined, the Subcommittee investigation also determined that the same problems affected IRS review of 501(c)(4) applications filed by liberal groups.

In addition, the Subcommittee investigation found that, by focusing exclusively on how the IRS handled 501(c)(4) applications filed by wingnut groups and excluding any comparative data on applications filed by liberal groups, the TIGTA audit produced distorted audit results that continue to be misinterpreted. The TIGTA audit engagement letter stated that the audit’s “overall objective” was to examine the “consistency” of IRS actions in identifying and reviewing 501(c)(4) applications, including whether “conservative groups” experienced “inconsistent treatment.” Instead, the audit focused solely on IRS treatment of conservative groups, and omitted any mention of other groups. For example, while the TIGTA report criticized the IRS for using “tea party,” “9/12,” and “patriot” to identify applications filed by wingnut groups, it left out that the IRS also used “Progressive,” “ACORN,” “Emerge,” and “Occupy” to identify applications filed by liberal groups. While the TIGTA report criticized the IRS for subjecting wingnut groups to delays, burdensome questions, and mismanagement, it failed to disclose that the IRS subjected liberal groups to the same treatment. The result was that when the TIGTA audit report presented data showing wingnut groups were treated inappropriately, it was interpreted to mean wingnut groups were handled differently and less favorably than liberal groups, when in fact, both groups experienced the same mistreatment. By excluding any analysis of how liberal groups were handled and failing to provide critical context
for its findings, the TIGTA audit inaccurately and unfairly damaged public confidence in the impartiality of the IRS.
The bipartisan report confirmed what liberals have known since shortly after the scandal broke. Liberal groups were also targeted by the IRS. People like Darrell Issa have been claiming for more than a year that wingnuts were targeting by an Obama plot. The Senate report debunks this claim, and highlights the widespread issues with the handling of 501(c) (4) applications.
For repugicans, the IRS scandal is really about preventing new rules and investigations that would hurt the flow of Koch money into our elections. John Boehner admitted earlier this year that House repugicans were hoping to use the IRS scandal as grounds for impeaching President Obama and Attorney General Holder. Those who claim that the IRS targeted only wingnuts are lying.
As much as repugicans want the story to be true, it isn’t. There is no vast Obama conspiracy to use the IRS to punish his political critics. In light of what this report reveals, repugicans should drop their waste of taxpayer funds IRS investigations. There was no conspiracy. There was no targeting of just wingnuts. The IRS scandal is dead and buried, but this won’t stop repugicans from repeating the completely debunked lie.

There’s A New Wingnut Crazy Train Headed Your Way. Get Off The Tracks!

Tea Party supporters
Doubling down on wingnut extremism, the fed-hating, red state, Wackadoodle Express, is pulling into the station of national consciousness once more. Its cargo is the latest move of the ultra-conservatives to separate completely from anything resembling a federal government. Brace yourselves!
The train is starting to load up with states that eventually hope to attend something called the Article V Convention of States (COS). Georgia has claimed the dubious honor of being the first state in the union to pass a resolution calling for an application to Congress for a Convention of States with the intent of proposing a bunch of amendments to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Passage of Georgia Senate Resolution 736 was by a nearly 2-1 margin. A month after Georgia’s March approval came the April nods from Alaska and Florida. These efforts are not to be confused with state applications to Congress for literally hundreds of Article V Conventions, dating all the way back to 1788. Most of those were for reasonable changes, not to destroy the country.
That’s my concern. Every statement from COS supporters sounds substantially off-key to me. Consider the quotes of South Carolina's Bill Taylor, in praising the COS as a mechanism to “restrain a runaway federal government.” A runaway federal government? As Paul Krugman recently pointed out, corporations used to fund a third of our government fully; today’s number is 10%. The only thing running away in Washington is money that used to go into the Treasury. This is a sham movement to rid the millionaire and billionaire power elite of any constraints whatsoever. No taxes; no regulations; no oversight; no restraining powers whatsoever from the feds.
Here’s the Article in question:
Article V of the Constitution
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
Now, the Engineer and Conductor of this Wackadoodle Express: Oklahoma lunatic Tom Coburn, can soon lend all of his energies to conducting the project, as he is leaving the senate permanently by the end of the year. Then, through the COS initiative, he can work on reforming (severely restricting) entitlement programs, put a “choke-hold” on regulation and bring a government he describes, when quoting George Mason, as “too powerful, too big and too unwieldy” to its knees.
He’ll be joined by a long-time lunatic who is little known outside extremist’s circles, Michael P. Farris. The redoubtable SourceWatch has been tracking Farris for years. According to their research, he is the founding President of Patrick Henry College. Its mission is “to train 'christian' men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding.” We used to call those seminaries.
Farris is up to all kinds of wingnut mischief. A lawyer, he created the Home School Legal Defense Association. Keep the kiddies out of them there awful “Government Schools.” He is also on the Board of Directors of the Free Congress Foundation (FCF), a Joseph Coors project, once led by the late Paul Weyrich, who put the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on the map in ’73. The website of FCF spells out its primary focus as being trained on the “Culture War.” FCF wants America to “return to our great, our traditional, judeo-christian, Western culture.” The Foundation is convinced we have slid into the “cultural and moral decay of political correctness.” Translation: Helping them blacks, tolerating them gays and not booting out them Hispanics by the millions. What a sweetheart organization!
Also, high on the COS agenda is a mass overhaul of the Constitution to assuage those who are frustrated by Congress’s entitlement reform failure. Imagine, feeding starving children. I don’t want to be too tough on Coburn personally. He’s battling recurring prostate cancer after earlier undergoing treatment for colon cancer and melanoma. Odd he should hate the Affordable Care Act with every cell in his body. Its core raison d’etre is to provide insurance for many fighting the same fight as Coburn. As a multi-millionaire, at least the money is not a factor in his health battles.
So, I’ll give props to the senator in his courageous health battles, but part company with his generally incomprehensible political positions. The COS is certainly near the top of the list.
Another voice heard, closer to home, on the subject, is South Carolina's Bill Taylor. He’s sky high on the prospect of a Convention of States. He pre-filed legislation last December calling for the COS. Virginia did the same. Many of the resolutions for COS are identically worded, always a red (pardon the pun) flag that there is major model-legislation bucks behind COS.
Many prospective states have fancy and expensive Websites with similar looks and wording. This is not your father’s Oldsmobile. This whole effort smells of the Koch brothers, their billionaire pals, Fortune 500, Cato, the Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and that power hungry mob of interlocking wingnut Boards of Directors. Certain of the locals are stuffing their pockets and taking orders, word for word. This is a highly organized cabal. Both the Georgia COS story and the South Carolina pre-file emanate from the primary Convention of States Website. That’s the reason red state COS websites match the national website. They ARE the national website. One final point;
Surely you didn’t think the American Legislative Exchange Council wouldn’t be knee-deep in this wingnut muck did you? They are.
If the not-so-distant whistle of the Wackadoodle Express doesn’t get Democratic voters off the wingnut tracks and to their November 4th polling place, nothing will.

The Truth Be Told


No matter how many times McCain is wrong, he just won't go away

John McCain and his good buddy Senator Lindsay Graham are back at it, saying we must "Confront ISIS now."
But ultimately, ISIS is a military force, and it must be confronted militarily. Mr. Obama has begun to take military actions against ISIS in Iraq, but they have been tactical and reactive half-measures. Continuing to confront ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria, would be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. We need a military plan to defeat ISIS, wherever it is....A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS would require more troops, assets, resources and time.
In the full op-ed piece, McCain and Graham offer a rationale that sounds very much like the shrub doctrine of "preventative war." Do we really want to do that again? Let's take a brief stroll through recent history.
The shrub junta told us in 2002 that Saddam was a grave threat, and that we must confront him now. We took him out. Our invasion birthed al-Qaeda in Iraq, a branch of which is now, wait for it, ISIS. No invasion of Iraq, No ISIS..
How about a little more history? In 1953, the United States believed that the democratically elected government of Iran, led by Mohammad Mossadegh, posed a threat to us. We took him out. We put the Shah in power. His repressive regime birthed the islamist fundamentalist movement that took over Iran in 1979, and which still rules today. No coup, no Ayatollahs. How different would Mesopotamia be today if we had just avoided mucking it up.
The point here is that we have a president in the White House who needs to remember what he said about Iraq in 2002, about the "undetermined consequences" that might result from a "dumb war." One of those consequences was ISIS.

Islamic State beheads 2nd captive Lebanese soldier

The mother of a Lebanese soldier held captive by the militant Islamic State group said photographs posted online Saturday purporting to show his beheading appeared to be real. Zeinab Noun said her 20-year-old son, Abbas Medlej, was "sacrificed" after supporters of the militant Sunni group posted images appearing to show a captured Lebanese soldier before and after he was beheaded.
"My son was sacrificed," said Noun, clutching a passport-sized photo of her son, a handsome, smooth-faced young man.
Medlej's maternal uncle, Abu Ali Noun, also said the photographs appeared to be of his nephew. A spokesman for Lebanon's military said it was still investigating the incident.
Medlej would be the second captive Lebanese soldier killed by the Islamic State group, underscoring the grave challenges that face the ill-equipped Lebanese military as it fends off an unprecedented jihadi threat from Syria-based militants.
About two dozen more members of the country's security forces remain held captive by the militants. They were seized in August when several Syrian rebel factions, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen in the most serious spillover yet of the neighboring civil war.
The Syrian civil war has inflamed sectarian tensions between Lebanon's Sunnis and Shiites — with Sunnis generally backing the rebel groups and Shiites supporting the government of President Bashar Assad. The Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah has actively fought on the Syrian government side.
Local media had reported that negotiations were underway, with the militants demanding cash and the release of islamists being held in Lebanese detention. A statement posted by supporters of the Islamic State said Medlej was killed after he tried to escape.
Medlej hailed from a large Shiite clan from the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbak.
His mother vowed revenge on rival Sunnis.
"We have to take our revenge from those apostates," she said.
The captured soldiers and police are from Lebanon's many religious sects: the first soldier beheaded by the group, Ali Sayid, was a Sunni muslim. The militants are also holding christian soldiers and other Sunni muslims.
Families of the captive soldiers have blocked highways and held demonstrations to pressure the Lebanese government to push harder for the release of the men. There are also fears for the safety of the more than 1 million Syrian refugees who are now in Lebanon as rage grows over the beheadings.
Medlej's uncle vowed that "every Syrian in Lebanon is a target" after hearing of his nephew's death.
The Islamic State group has drawn global attention particularly since June, when it swept through northern and western Iraq from its stronghold in neighboring Syria.
They reached Lebanon in August when they overran Arsal, and operate just across the border in the nearby hills of Syria.
On Saturday, Lebanon's state-run news agency reported heavy fighting in the barren hills between Arsal and the border with Syria. It came hours after militants on a motorbike opened fire on Lebanese soldiers patrolling in a vehicle in the nearby town of Qaa. The soldiers killed one of the attackers, state media reported.
The Islamic State group follows an ultra-wingnut, violent interpretation of islam and is accused by rights groups and the United Nations of committing war crimes, including the mass killings of soldiers, Shiite Muslims and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith in Iraq. It has also beheaded two U.S. freelance journalists who were captured in Syria, Steven Sotloff and James Foley.
A video of Sotloff's killing was posted on online jihadi networks on Tuesday. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council issued a press statement condemning his murder.
"This crime is, yet again, a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers journalists face every day in Syria. It also once again demonstrates the brutality of ISIL, which is responsible for thousands of abuses against the Syrian and Iraqi people," the statement said. ISIL is another name used by the Islamic State group.
Last week, the U.N.'s top human rights body approved a request by Iraq to open an investigation into suspected crimes committed by the Islamic State group against civilians in its country. Its aim would be to provide the Human Rights Council with evidence on atrocities committed in Iraq, which could be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.

Russia's population declined by 7m (5%) between 1992 and 2009

The decades since the collapse of the USSR are the longest period of depopulation in Russian history, and the first peacetime loss of that scale anywhere in the world. Booze, violence, obesity, and poor standard of living alone don't account for the mortality either.
There are other parts of Eastern Europe where they drink more than Russians, Russians aren't as fat as other Europeans, and their standard of living isn't on a scale with other countries with the same level of mortality -- countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Yemen. Indeed, Russian men have a shorter life expectancy than men in Ethiopia, Gambia, and Somalia, and it's getting shorter.
For Eberstadt, who is seeking an explanation for Russia’s half-century-long period of demographic regress rather than simply the mortality crisis of the 1990s, the issue of mental health also furnishes a kind of answer. While he suggests that more research is needed to prove the link, he finds that “a relationship does exist” between the mortality mystery and the psychological well-being of Russians:
Suffice it to say we would never expect to find premature mortality on the Russian scale in a society with Russia’s present income and educational profiles and typically Western readings on trust, happiness, radius of voluntary association, and other factors adduced to represent social capital.
Another major clue to the psychological nature of the Russian disease is the fact that the two brief breaks in the downward spiral coincided not with periods of greater prosperity but with periods, for lack of a more data-driven description, of greater hope. The Khrushchev era, with its post-Stalin political liberalization and intensive housing construction, inspired Russians to go on living. The Gorbachev period of glasnost and revival inspired them to have babies as well

Random Photos


Ford F-100 truck during the 1960 Detroit Auto Show

NYPD arrest human rights lawyer waiting outside restaurant while kids used bathroom

Chaumtoli Huq, former general counsel for NYC Public Advocate Tish James, attended a rally in Times Square with her family, and afterwards, waited on the sidewalk outside of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant while her husband took their children (10 and 6) to the bathroom.
NYPD Officer Ryan Lathrop and another cop told Huq that she had to move along. She stated that she had the right to stand on the sidewalk and asked what the problem was. She was then spun around, roughly pinned against the wall and cuffed, and then taken away without being allowed to tell her family what had happened to her.
When Huq's husband figured out -- eventually -- what had happened and went to the precinct house, the officers on duty questioned him as to why he had a different surname to his wife. One then told Huq that "In America wives take the names of their husbands."
Huq has filed a complaint with the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board.
“My civil rights were violated. I think that I was treated differently because of being a woman,” she said. “I think I was targeted once my husband left. I think that I was being targeted based on my religion and my race.”
“I went from being a mother to a prisoner and so I can’t imagine mothers who experience their children or their boys having such an experience with police officers,” Huq said. “That shouldn’t be the case in New York.”
The police department did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Drunk driver hid car keys up his butt following police chase

A man who denied drunk driving was forced to own up after police officers found him ‘clenching’ the car keys up his butt. Kyle Cooper, of Accrington, Lancashire, was arrested by police minutes after they had been involved in a car chase, a court heard. When quizzed by the officer he denied driving the car, claiming he was a passenger and refused a road-side breath test. Burnley Crown Court heard how police could not find his car keys but when they searched him thoroughly at the station they found them. Father-of-one Cooper, who was nearly twice the drunk driving limit, was found guilty after a trial at Blackburn Magistrates of drunk driving, driving without insurance and an MOT certificate, failing to surrender into bail and all while subject to a suspended sentence order. David Clarke, prosecuting, told the court that Cooper, 28, was driving a silver Ford Fiesta ‘at speed’ in Accrington at around 8pm on February 15 this year. He said a police officer spotted him and gave chase, however lost him after Cooper drove up a road with a ‘no entry’ sign.
A few minutes later the same officer saw his car parked on a side street. Cooper approached the vehicle to get back in but upon spotting the officer ran off again, Mr Clarke said. The court heard how the officer found documents in the driving compartment bearing the name Kyle Cooper and circulated his description to nearby patrols. Another officer then saw a man matching his description but when he asked his name he said it was ‘Kyle Smith’. The court heard how the officer briefly let him go but then quizzed him again and tried to make him take a breath test, which he refused. Mr Clarke said: “He eventually provided his real name. He said he had been driving the car and panicked and ran off.
“However, when he was arrested he changed his account completely and said he was only the passenger in the car and his friend was driving. When he was searched in the cells they found he had been clenching the keys up his bottom. He accepted it was his car and had owned it for two months but said it was an acquaintance driving.” Philip Holden, defending, said: “He is a hard working young man. His problem is alcohol and committing offenses while in drink.” Cooper was 12-month community order, ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work and disqualified from driving for three years. He was also fined £600 and given a curfew order and suspended sentence until November 22 this year.

Man in wheelchair led police on lengthy chase

A man in a wheelchair was arrested after allegedly robbing a K-mart in Chula Vista and leading police on a chase before he was finally subdued by a police dog in the parking lot of the downtown San Diego Police headquarters. Michael Alan Hanby, 29, who identified himself as an unemployed security guard, was booked into county jail on suspicion of burglary, evading arrest and various weapons charges.
He is being held at San Diego Central Jail without bail pending arraignment. The incident began at about 9:30pm on Tuesday at the K-mart. According to police, the man stole items from the store and was then confronted by a K-Mart employee in the parking lot, where he allegedly pulled a gun, then fled in a maroon van with handicap plates. Later, a Chula Vista police lieutenant saw the suspect’s van. The lieutenant radioed in the sighting and officers attempted to stop the van in San Diego, but the suspect refused to pull over, according to police.
The suspect then led pursuing Chula Vista officers on lengthy chase through parts of San Diego. Officers from San Diego tried to stop the van by putting down spike strips, which the suspect apparently avoided. A helicopter also was called in to assist in the pursuit. The chase finally ended in the parking lot of the San Diego Police Department near downtown San Diego, according to Chula Vista Police. The suspect stopped and exited the van in a wheelchair. Police said he refused to follow commands to surrender.

Believing he may have been armed with two handguns, officers deployed a police dog, which subdued the suspect, who was taken into custody about an hour after the K-mart theft. The suspect allegedly was armed with a revolver and a .40- caliber pistol in a shoulder holster. A 12-inch knife was in the wheelchair, along with a backpack containing a .44 Magnum handgun, handcuffs, pepper spray and brass knuckles. All the guns were loaded, and officers impounded extra ammunition. In the van, which was outfitted with hand-operated brakes and accelerator, police recovered masks, an 11-inch knife, 18-inch machete, a baseball bat and a bail bondsman’s badge.



Top 10 Real Events That Inspired Horror Movies

The fun part of going to a horror movie is repeating that phrase your parents taught you when you first saw one as a kid: it isn't real, it isn't real. But what about those rare occasions when the horror movie you are seeing is based on some aspect of a true story?
The reality is, there are far more horror movies out there based on some semblence of fact that any of us would like to openly admit. Top Tenz put together a nice little list of horror films that were partly inspired by true stories, as well as the stories that go along with those films.
For example, did you know:
In 1950, four Philadelphia, Pennsylvania policemen reported the discovery of “a domed disk of quivering jelly, 6 feet in diameter and one foot thick at the center.”  When the men touched the substance it dissolved into an “odorless, sticky scum.”  In 1958, the story inspired a collection of filmmakers to develop an independent movie named The Blob.
Of all the horror films based on true stories, who would have thought The Blob was one of them? That is just one amazing example. But be forewarned before you read it. You may never look at that doll you keep in that rocking chair in the corner of your kid's room the same way again.

How A Flawless $300,000 Diamond Was Lost In An Formula 1 Car Crash

For the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix, Jaguar's cars were fitted with newly designed nose cones to promote the film Ocean's Twelve. Diamonds worth in excess of $300,000 were attached to the nose of each car. If you think that's crazy, wait for more.
It happened on the first lap. Jaguar driver Christian Klien crashed his diamond-encrusted F1 car at the Loews Corner. Track safety regulations prohibited Team Jaguar from searching for the diamond until after the race ended two hours later. Of course, by the time the Jaguar folks arrived on the scene, the diamond was long gone. No one knows what happened to it.

How Hot Dogs Are Made And What's Actually Inside

After the steaks, chops, breasts, ribs, thighs, hams, tenderloins and briskets are removed, there's a fair amount of gristle, fat and offal remaining on a butchered animal, and early on, people realized this could be put to good use. One of these products is the hot dog, a classic of pre-cooked, processed meat.
A hot dog is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a sliced bun as a sandwich. But what's actually inside a hot dog?

The 20 Most Controversial Rules in the Grammar World

Writing is not as simple as it may look from the outside. Some people may see sites like Carolina Naturally and think writing is easy and they want to do it, but the truth is, there are many rights and wrongs when it comes to grammar. It is stuff you may remember learning in grade school and on, but if you are not a writer, they are rules you tend to forget about. How many times a day on Facebook do you see someone use the wrong version of the word "there"? That is just one of many examples of how grammar can slip you up if you are not paying attention. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to grammar and all its fine-print.
Online College actually has a remarkable list of the 20 most controversial rules in grammar. Being one who uses the language often and every day for my work, I find this list incredibly helpful at pointing out some of the sillier rules of grammar whilst also reminding us why those rules actually exist. A good example here is about the word "irregardless":
"Irregardless" appears in at least three different official dictionaries, though all of them admit it's not exactly formal. More traditional grammar aficionados don't think the word deserves to move beyond its slang origins, while others think it's about time the rule-makers acknowledge the evolution.
That is but one of twenty remarkable facts about grammar and writing that anyone who has the slightest interest in the medium should check out with aplomb. 

Daily Comic Relief


Archaeologists make spectacular discovery off Denmark's coast

Ancient boat and Stone Age settlement found

Archaeologists are currently raising and examining what is being called the oldest boat ever found in Denmark. The ancient six to seven metre long vessel is estimated to be 6,500 years old – in comparison, the oldest Pyramid in Egypt is a mere 4,500 years old – and although it is damaged, archaeologists are finding it very interesting.
“It split 6,500 years ago and they tried to fix the crack by putting a bark strip over it and drilling holes both sides of it,” Jørgen Dencker, the head of marine archaeology at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, told DR Nyheder. “That two-millimeter wide strip has been preserved.”
“The most exciting thing is that there is sealing mass in the holes. We have found sealing mass before – such as bits of resin that children have chewed on and made flexible.”
Underwater settlement
The historic find was made when the energy company SEAS-NVE was replacing sea cables by Askø Island in the Smålandsfarvandet Sea north of Lolland in the southern part of Zealand.
In connection with the boat find, archaeologists also found an entire submerged Stone Age settlement that they are checking for more archaeological gems.
The archaeologists hope to find more organic material – such as wood, bone or antlers – which could have been preserved under water.
Meanwhile, the underwater settlement can help map coastlines from thousands of years ago.

New Viking fortress found in Denmark

Found in a field belonging to the Vallo Diocese estate, a Viking Age circular fortress rewrites the Danish history books. It is the fifth construction of its kind found in Denmark, but the first such discovery in sixty years, reports Politiken.
The Vallo ring-fortress resembles the one found in Hobro and is 145 metres in diameter 
“It’s great news!” Lasse CA Sonne, a Viking Age historian from the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, told the newspaper.
“Although, there were Vikings in other countries, these circular fortresses are unique to Denmark. Many have given up hope that there were many of them left.”
The third largest
Early archaeological excavations show that on the field close to the noisy south highway lies a fortification with a 10 to 11 meter-wide palisade – a stockade with pointed wooden poles.
At 145 meters in diameter, the Vallo ring-fortress (Vallø Borgring), as it has been named, is the third largest of the five found in Denmark.
The four other circular fortresses have been dated to the reign of Harald Bluetooth in the late 900s. The construction of this fortress is very similar to the one found in Hobro, and thus it is likely that Harald Bluetooth was the builder too, the Danish Castle Center believes.

Laniakea, the Supercluster of Galaxies Containing Our Milky Way

How does our Milky Way galaxy fit in with the superclusters of the universe? Superclusters, areas of space densely packed with galaxies, are the largest structures in the universe. But where does one end and another begin? This video explains.

Mayor of French town refuses to sign license for dogs named 'Itler' and 'Iva'

A mayor in eastern France has refused to sign a license for two dogs named "Itler" and "Iva" who he claims are owned by an official from France's far-right National Front.
"I don't want to sign this license ... of course 'Itler' and 'Iva' make you think of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, a dubious play on words," said Luc Binsinger, the mayor of the small town of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port.
"I have written to the local prefect to ask him what I can do. In the meantime, I'm not signing," he said, adding he believed the owner of the two American Staffordshire Terriers was a local National Front official. "It's completely mad. Stupid even," added Binsinger.
The owner had already secured an initial license - required in France for dangerous dogs - but the names had apparently not raised eyebrows at the time. "It's not a question of how dangerous the dogs are, it's a question of principle," said Binsinger. There is in theory no restrictions on naming animals in France, with one exception. You cannot call a pig Napoleon, due to a law aimed at preserving the image of the Emperor which is still on the statute books.

Puppy camped out in operating room during surgery on cheetah companion

A male cheetah cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is expected to make a full recovery after surgery thanks, in part, to his faithful puppy companion.
Ruuxa, the cheetah cub, was recently diagnosed with a growth abnormality in his forelegs and had to undergo surgery to correct the problem. “This is a condition occasionally seen in domestic dogs and, if not treated, can cause pain and problems with the animal’s ability to walk later in life,” said Jeff Zuba, senior veterinarian.
Raina, a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy, accompanied him to the veterinary hospital and waited nearby throughout the entire procedure. She sat by Ruuxa’s side until he came out of his sedation. “Raina appeared very concerned about Ruuxa when she saw he was sleeping and she couldn’t wake him,” said Susie Ekard, animal training manager, Safari Park.

“She licked him and nuzzled him, and when he awoke, she lay with him and seemed very content to know her cheetah was okay.” The two have been constant companions since being paired together at four and five weeks of age.

Tribble Trouble

These furry caterpillars are landing a lot of Floridians in the ER. Their fur is actually venomous, and the sting is extremely painful. Doctors say it can even cause convulsions and a drop in blood pressure. Here's what they look like so you know not to touch them. Tell your kiddos, too!

Animal Pictures

Sleepy Owl