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

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Daily Drift

Any Questions ...!
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Today in History

480 BC Greeks defeat the Persians in a naval battle at Salamis.
1587 In France, Huguenot Henri de Navarre routs Duke de Joyeuse's larger Catholic force at Coutras.
1709 Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy take Mons in the Netherlands.
1714 George I of England crowned.
1805 Austrian general Karl Mac surrenders to Napoleon's army at the battle of Ulm.
1818 The United States and Britain establish the 49th Parallel as the boundary between Canada and the United States.
1870 The Summer Palace in Beijing, China, is burnt to the ground by a Franco-British expeditionary force.
1903 The Joint Commission, set up on January 24 by Great Britain and the United States to arbitrate the disputed Alaskan boundary, rules in favor of the United States. The deciding vote is Britain's, which embitters Canada. The United States gains ports on the panhandle coast of Alaska.
1904 Bolivia and Chile sign a treaty ending the War of the Pacific. The treaty recognizes Chile's possession of the coast, but provides for construction of a railway to link La Paz, Bolivia, to Arica, on the coast.
1924 Baseball's first 'colored World Series' is held in Kansas City, Mo.
1938 Czechoslovakia, complying with Nazi policy, outlaws the Communist Party and begins persecuting Jews.
1941 German troops reach the approaches to Moscow.
1944 U.S. troops land on Leyte in the Philippines, keeping General MacArthur's pledge "I shall return."
1945 Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon form the Arab League to present a unified front against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
1947 The House Un-American Activities Committee opens public hearings on alleged communist infiltration in Hollywood. Among those denounced as having un-American tendencies are: Katherine Hepburn, Charles Chaplin and Edward G. Robinson. Among those called to testify is Screen Actors Guild President Ronald Reagan, who denies that leftists ever controlled the Guild and refuses to label anyone a communist.
1968 Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis.
1973 Arab oil-producing nations ban oil exports to the United States, following the outbreak of Arab-Israeli war.
1977 Charter plane crashes in Mississippi, killing three members of popular Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, along with their assistant road manager, the pilot and co-pilot.
1991 Oakland Hills firestorm destroys nearly 3,500 homes and apartments and kills 25 people.
2011 In the Libyan civil war, rebels capture deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte, killing him soon afterward.

Caño Cristales

"Just east of the Andes, central Colombia’s Caño Cristales is a river like no other. Reaching 100km long and sometimes called the “Liquid Rainbow”, Caño Cristales runs during certain months of the year with shades of red, blue, yellow, orange and green in a vibrant natural display that happens nowhere else on Earth."  There are more photos at the link.

Did you know ...

That the oceans are getting hotter than we thought
That 59% of millennials would consider moving overseas for a job
That most people with addiction simply out grow it
That a state auditor will examine the court books for Ferguson
That more jobs have been created under Obama than under both shrubs combined
The lower unemployment rate = recovery - for the top 10%
About the secret to uber's success:  struggling workers
About the anti-vaccination epidemic
That nearly 4 times as many people signed up for Obama care as watch faux news
That the deficit is down, and the deficit hawks are furious
And what's wrong with ignoring inequality
That justice Ginsburg says the supreme court sees women as "not really an adult individual"
That NASA's going to an earth-threatening asteroid to collect samples and bring them back
That the repugicans use stock photos in their "repugicans are people too" ad
About how rich old white men are taking away the lunch money from inner city blacks
That police departments retaliate against watchdog groups across the U.S.
That playing violent video games might make you less violent
That half the world's animal population has disappeared since 1970
How secret money floods political ads
That facebook's experiments on its users were illegal

Here’s More Great Economic News For Democrats To Hammer repugicans With

There has been relative silence on two new economic reports that put a stake in the economic agenda repugicans are frothing at the mouth to enact …

Economic growthHeading into the home stretch of the midterm elections, attention appears to be focused on the Ebola virus, although not so much on the 10-year repugican cuts to the CDC and NIH that could have stopped the virus in Africa. Interestingly there has not been much noise from Democrats about why they allowed the NRA, and Rand Paul, to obstruct the President’s appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General to both inform and calm Americans’ fears about the potential of a massive epidemic. What is absolutely stunning, though, is the relative silence on two new economic reports that put a stake in the economic agenda repugicans are frothing at the mouth to enact should they win control of Congress.
Yesterday, it was revealed by the Labor Department that the number of people seeking unemployment aid dropped to the lowest level in 14 years. It is yet another positive sign of a strengthening labor market that should calm concerns about weak economic growth globally. In fact, analysts were cheering the unexpectedly strong data that the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, Ian Shepherdson, described as “spectacular and astonishing.” He also remarked that “Whether claims can be sustained at such a low level – an all-time low, as a share of payroll employment – is debatable, but this is a clear signal of real strength in the labor market.”
Economists say that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dropped 4,250 to 283,500, and is at the lowest level since June 2000; a full six months before the Supreme Court appointed economic disaster the shrub as president. Employers added 248,000 jobs last month adding to the good hiring news in the previous two months that helped push the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent, a six-year low. Thus far the economy under President Obama has added 2.64 million jobs over the past year alone that is the best “annual showing since April 2006.” In fact, in August the number of available jobs soared to a 13-year high according to another government report that economic experts enthusiastically claim will drive employers to continue hiring “at a healthy clip in the coming months.”
However, some employers say that although they have plenty of open positions available, they have been slow to fill them due to a lack of workers with the right skills. That is clearly not true. Economists dispute the “lack of skills” argument and say the real problem is that businesses are not offering adequate pay to attract what the experts claim are an “over-abundance of qualified applicants” who are unwilling to work for poverty-level wages.
This news alone should be a campaign bonanza for Democrats on two fronts. First, they should mercilessly hammer repugicans across the country for opposing raising the minimum wage that would elevate the prevailing wage in all sectors. Democrats should also highlight that the continuously improving job numbers are proof positive that the repugican “trickle down” scam of giving the wealthy greater tax cuts coupled with destroying regulations is the only way to create jobs and grow the economy. The job numbers have continued to improve despite the wealthy getting a small tax hike starting in 2013 while workplace, environmental, and financial regulation remain firmly in place.
The other encouraging economic news yesterday was that U.S. manufacturing output rose in September led by gains in the aerospace, furniture, clothing, and plastics industries.  According to the Federal Reserve, factory production in September rose by 0.5% to bring the past 12 month manufacturing output numbers to a very healthy 3.7% and again, that is with no repugican deregulation or tax cuts. The news is further proof that America’s labor force is not, as repugicans claim, a bunch of lazy moochers that need to “learn the value and culture of responsibility and hard work.”
The chief U.S. economist at Capital economics, Paul Ashworth, reported that the manufacturing gains are a good sign American manufacturers are “successfully weathering the dampened performance of the global economy.” He also said that a good sign of America’s economic health is that “the slowdowns evident in China and the euro-zone are not having the devastating impact on the U.S. economy that the financial markets now apparently believe.”
There was even more good economic news as the Fed report on industrial performance revealed that output from utilities “surged by 3.9% last month, and mining output grew by 1.8%” in the same period to “advance to 9.1% over the past year.” Overall, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4.2% during the second quarter that economists say will spur increased consumer spending due to gains in employment.
The growth at the national level decimates the repugican arguments that unless Washington adopts the economically disastrous Koch “red-state model” Mitch McConnell promises to inflict on the entire nation, the economy is doomed. For the uninformed, the storied “red-state model” entails epic tax cuts for the rich and corporations in conjunction with eliminating all environmental, financial, and workplace regulations repugicans claim is the only way to create jobs and grow the economy. Every Republican-led state putting the Koch’s “model” in place is suffering gross revenue shortfalls, non-existent job creation, credit downgrades, job losses, and severe cuts to services across the board, but primarily for the underprivileged.
With the continued promising economic news, it is curious that any Democrat is wary of aligning themselves closely with the Obama Administration. Two weeks ago the President opened the door for Democrats to highlight the differences between repugican economic failures and the Obama Administration economic recovery after their eight-year economic disaster they are bound and determined to enact again. Americans may not be the smartest people on the face of the Earth, but they are aware the economy is recovering and that the lion’s share of the growth is going straight to the top one-percent. Democrats have been handed yet another set of facts to aid their electoral prospects in just a couple of weeks, and it is beyond comprehension why they are not contrasting repugican economic failures with the President’s economic successes every waking minute right up to Election Day.

Teabagger 'militia' cabal Threatens to Arrest Democrats at Polling Places!

If you want more evidence that the difference between Mussolini’s Blackshirts and the current state of the Tea Party is only about 70 years, here’s a story out of Wisconsin where a self-proclaimed “Poll Watcher” militia group announced they will confront Democratic voters at the polls on November 4 over outstanding warrants or tax defaults.The group, named the Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia, claims that it’s going to check names on the 2012 recall petition for repugican Gov. Scott Walker and confront those voters that they believe are wanted on warrants. They said on Twitter that they would be “targeting heavily democrat districts, so it is doubtful” that any repugicans would be reported.
So yes, this is just a thinly veiled excuse to bully people away from the polls. This is the same stunt pulled by Mussolini’s Blackshirts; the only difference is that they’ve gotten better at lying about their intentions. Not much better, mind you.
And if the presence of a group with “militia” in their name wasn’t enough, the group posted on Facebook that they “prefer our people be armed.” They continued:
“We prefer our people be armed. Some will be heading to some of Milwaukee, Racine, and Beloit’s worst areas. We will be armed with a list of people to look for at each location.”
The group has asked its Facebook users to privately send names of active voters who were wanted on warrants, so that they could be arrested:
We can get our agents to watch their polling location, identify the individual, and then follow them to their residence.
They promised to call the police and have would-be voters “picked up for processing.”
Politicus USA grabbed some screen captures of the Facebook posts, although those posts have since been made private by the group. Politicus noted that all of the photos posted by the group on Facebook showed black voters. The group, however, disputes Politcus’ accusation that they’re just targeting black voters. Oh no, they’re targeting all Democrats:
“We can assure you that we will be targeting all democrats, not just black ones. If you think we meant blacks only it is because you are a racist who thinks the only people with warrants are black. We know better because we have a nice list of people who are wanted democrat activist types. Most are actually white. We will target everyone.”
Except repugicans. And the super-wealthy who dodge their taxes by cramming their money into an Antiguan bank account. Or corporations. Or everyone who isn’t poor and destitute.
The militia is getting most of their information from the website Put Wisconsin First, which has been celebrated by Hot-Air Specialist, Lush Dimbulb:
Thanks to his hard work, we finally know who is not paying their fair share of taxes in Wisconsin.
Since the Facebook page has been taken down more than once since it was first reported, some people have speculated it’s a parody account. Shortly after they went private, the group made a decision to publicly post a video from the song, “Somebody’s Watching Me,” by Rockwell, and that may also suggest a parody account. Even if it’s not a parody account, however, it’s still a sad joke about the state of our society.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the time we posted this, the Wisconsin Daily Independent has revealed that the Wisconsin Poll Watcher’s Militia page is a fake: There is no actual militia, and — despite widespread alarm — the page was not targeting black voters.  Yet, the fact that such a small Facebook page could generate such hysteria says something about Wisconsin’s toxic politics.
The fact that a small, and many say fake, Facebook page can derive so much attention speaks to the current state of affairs in Wisconsin politics and to the power that race plays within it.
And now another Facebook page is whining about how liberal blogs are unfairly trolling the Wisconsin Poll Watchers Militia page… But we say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. They should have known how people would react.

St. Louis Area Police Officers Harassing Ferguson Protesters At Places Of Employment

ferguson october monday8
A St. Louis police officer is under investigation after calling the a real estate broker’s office to discuss the broker’s involvement in protests surrounding the shootings of Michael Brown and VonDerrit Myers, Jr. The officer in question, Keith Novara, called to complain about the actions of Leigh Maibes, who is known as ‘Short Stack’ on Twitter and has been protesting in Ferguson since Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. Recently, protests moved to the Shaw neighborhood in south St. Louis after the shooting death of Myers. Also, a number of protests and ‘actions’ took place in multiple areas of St. Louis during Ferguson October’s Weekend of Resistance
Earlier this week, Novara called RE/Max, the real estate brokerage firm where Maibes works. Pr Novara, he just wanted to let Maibes’ employer know the activities she’s been up to, especially as he feels that she, and other protesters, are engaging in “corrosive behavior.” Maibes called the police officer on Wednesday to discuss why he called her employer. Below is her YouTube video of the call:
Obviously, the intention of Officer Novara was to intimidate Maibes and other activists. By calling her employer, he was hoping to force Maibes to back off from further protests, perhaps even force her to stop filming while at demonstrations. The police department is now investigating Novara and he has retained a lawyer via the police officers union. The union released a statement defending Novara’s actions, which Maibes tweeted out on Thursday.
Maibes also made a insightful statement regarding the actions taken against her by the police. She wondered what is happening to other protesters and activists, especially those who are people of color, if this is occurring to her.
Just from my own interactions with protesters during demonstrations in Ferguson, it is apparent that officers are targeting certain people and essentially taking tabs. During Monday’s demonstration at the Ferguson police station, one young activist spoke to me and pointed out that specific police officers were “eyeballing’ him and others based on their familiarity. Other protesters have mentioned this as well, claiming that officers have made inquiries about their lives only to later make veiled threats about calling their work, home or school. I’ve also been informed of the specific targeting of activist and livestreamers by police for either arrest or harsh police tactics such as tear gas, pepper spray or rubber bullets. (in this instance, I am leaving names out due to the potential impact identifying them could have with police.)
As for Maibes, she is not going to let this deter her one bit. She claimed on Twitter Friday that she would continue to document what is happening in these protests.
Currently, the protesters are waiting for a ruling to come down from the grand jury regarding Wilson’s fate. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said last month that he expected the grand jury to come to a decision no later than early November. With such a long wait, many of the most active protesters feel that a non-indictment is coming.

India's Power

With the second-highest population in the world, a growing economy and nukes on site, how big of a global power is India becoming?

Congratulations shrub, Your Incompetence Finally Managed to Turn Iraq into an Actual Threat

by Allen Clifton
It took over a decade, but the shrub finally managed to turn Iraq into a threat.  Don’t get me wrong, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, but he was really nothing more than a local thug.  He was never any kind of “global threat” like the shrub junta falsely led the world to believe.  Iraq was a nuisance under his control, but the country was never really any kind of actual threat to anyone outside of the crimes he committed against his own people.
But with Saddam long gone, and a weak Iraqi government allowing ISIL to easily take control of key parts of the nation, Iraq has finally become a real threat.
Because whether people want to hear it or not, ISIL is not something we can just ignore.  I’ve seen far too many people try to label them as just an ordinary terror group.  They’re much more than that.
Just to give you a little perspective of just how radical and dangerous these people are, Al-Qaeda has publicly disavowed all ties with the group for being too radical.  
If you know nothing else about ISIL, that should tell you enough.
But beyond that they’re also kidnapping women, slaughtering civilians, live tweeting beheadings and publicly crucifying people.
The primary goal of this group is to create a radical islamic state consisting of Syria and Iraq.  Though I promise you, once established, they wouldn’t stop there.  Judging by various things I’ve read about this group, especially its leadership, their “ultimate” goal so to speak is to create some kind of giant islamic state, uniting several muslim countries together.
Oh, and by the way, they have an intense hatred of the United States and Western culture in general.
The leader of this group, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who was released in 2004 when shrub was pretending, supposedly said to American military personnel upon his release from imprisonment, “I’ll see you in New York.”
And why is it our troops weren’t in Iraq beyond 2011 even as the nation continued to struggle with insurgent violence?
That’s simple. Because the shrub  signed an agreement with the Iraqi government that set certain stipulations, and deadlines, for our involvement in Iraq.  Specifically the agreement called for the end of U.S. combat operations as of June 30, 2009 and for all U.S. forces to be pulled out of Iraq by December 30, 2011.
So, let’s add all of this up:
  • The shrub destabilized a country that posed absolutely no real threat to the United States, or really any other nation.
  • His junta completely botched essentially everything about the war, allowing insurgents to claim many parts of Iraq.
  • He installed a weak government that just about everyone with even a shred of common sense knew stood absolutely no chance at maintaining power without backing from the United States military.
  • Policies reached with that Iraqi government result in the release of the now leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
  • Then he signs a SOFA agreement toward the end of his second term which dictates when the United States must pull all military forces out of Iraq.
  • A weak Iraqi government, without backing from the United States military due to the shrub’s SOFA agreement, leads to radical islamic militants (ISIL) taking over many parts of Iraq.
  • Currently Iraq is in serious danger of falling under the control of one of – if not the – most dangerous radical islamic cabal on the planet.
So, with all of that said, I would like to formally congratulate the shrub.  Because due to his policies, Iraq has finally turned into a legitimate threat.
And just like with our economy, it seems President Obama will once again have to clean up a mess caused by the shrub's incompetence.

Nine Days in the Caliphate

A Yazidi Woman's Ordeal as an Islamic State Captive
by Ralf Hoppe
Nine Days in the Caliphate: A Yazidi Woman's Ordeal as an Islamic State Captive
When Islamic State fighters conquered the border region between Iraq and Syria, the Yazidi village of Kocho also fell into their hands. Twenty-year-old Nadia was among dozens of young women who were abducted and abused. This is the story of her ordeal.  More

A Tale Of Two Silicon Valleys: Wage theft, billionaires, and the rest of us

by Mark Ames
wage-theftLast month, a multiagency task force composed of federal, state, and local authorities busted open a major Bay Area wage theft operation, leading to arrests, raids, mug shots on the local news, and big speeches about the injustice and immorality of wage theft:
“Businesses should not profit by stealing from their hard-working employees.”
For months here at Pando, we’ve been reporting on Silicon Valley’s Techtopus, the wage-fixing cartel organized by Steve Jobs, George Lucas, Eric Schmidt, Bill Campbell, Meg Whitman and other superstar luminaries. According to experts’ models, just four Big Tech companies at the center of the Techtopus—Apple, Adobe, Google and Intel—effectively stole up to $3 billion in employee wages between 2005-2010. This doesn’t include the dozens of other companies who appear as co-conspirators, from Disney and Dreamworks Animation to IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, WPP, Comcast and others named in secret internal company documents first revealed by Pando.
But September’s massive crackdown on wage theft, the culmination of a year long investigation, was not aimed at those very real wage heists. Rather, the accused wage thieves are a handful of sleazy senior care home operators: A 76-year-old woman and her daughter and son-in-law; and a 61-year-old Filipino woman. In all, the care home operators are accused of stealing roughly $2 million in underpaid wages to some 60 care home workers — largely imported Filipino workers.
It’s become almost a cliche by now to call attention to just how grotesque America’s two-tier justice system has become, a grotesquerie accelerating in tandem with our record levels of inequality. It isn’t that there was once a golden age where all were judged equally here; but degrees do matter a lot, and the degree of unequal justice today has reached cartoonish levels that were only supposed to happen in basket cases like Boris Yeltsin’s Russia.
Here then is a stark example of justice in greater Silicon Valley, the political economy of the future:
Get caught red-handed by the Department of Justice stealing an estimated $3 billion dollars in wages from tens of thousands of employees — and your “punishment” is an agreement with the DOJ “that does not constitute admission by the Defendants that the law has been violated or of any issue of fact or law.” And, no fine. Let me repeat that: $3 billion in stolen wages; no admission of guilt, no fine. The only punishment is an agreement to submit to periodic checkups on compliance with antitrust law as regards to illegal wage-fixing cartels. (See the DOJ settlement sections labeled “Required Conduct” and “Compliance Inspection.”) Only eBay was slapped — more like flicked — with a $3.75 million fine, and only because eBay kept brushing off the DOJ’s “threats,” presumably because they didn’t find the DOJ’s no-guilt, no-fine “punishment” of Apple, Google et al particularly frightening. Considering that eBay’s 2013 revenues totaled over $16 billion, on $212 billion in “enabled commerce volume” — a $3.75 million fine is worth less than the pocket lint in Pierre Omidyar’s Bermuda shorts.
Contrast that with the multi-agency Contra Costa Employer Fraud Task Force — combining the power of the US Labor Department, the California state departments of Employment, Insurance, Employment Development, and the Contra Costa County Department of Insurance, along with the district attorney’s office and various police forces — all to bust a grubby small-time wage theft ring at a handful of local senior care homes, ending in police raids, arrests, and frog-marching a 76-year-old and 61-year-old woman into custody, over an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million in underpaid wages to care home providers. The punishment, according to deputy district attorney William Murphy, will include full restoration of the nearly $2 million in stolen wages, plus another $624,000 in fines. Plus at least a dozen criminal felony charges. That’s the result of a year long investigation by the so-called Contra Costa Employer Fraud Task Force.
Don’t get me wrong — underpaying the care home providers for a job as wretched as taking care of inconvenient elderly suburban Californians is disgusting and criminal. The care home business is a mean, grubby business; the owners of these operations, from my limited personal experience many years ago, tend to be hardened people in a hard job. It’s an ugly way to make money, profiting off discarded elderly suburbanites — suburban middle-class feeding cows to the care provider entrepreneurs, dead weight to everyone else in the Bay Area caught up in the cult of individual self-fulfillment. Though it’s little talked about, there’s an enormous amount of sublimated shame and guilt underlying the entire care home industry. Small-time care home providers aren’t heroic entrepreneurs; they’re something we’d all rather not talk about, because it’s a giant bummer and shameful if one thinks about it. Which one doesn’t, if one is a true Californian.
What’s galling is not just the blatant two-tier justice treatment, reminiscent of the Russia I left behind — but also the fake populist outrage used to PR the Big Wage Theft Crackdown. Noting that some of the care homes raided in Walnut Creek, Brentwood and Antioch were “million dollar homes,” deputy district attorney Murphy told reporters as he announced the arrests:
“(The owners) can afford to pay off these million-dollar homes because they’re only paying their workers a couple of bucks.”
Indeed. Except for the fact that these “million dollar homes” were filled with lonely, elderly boarders, dropped off with a suitcase and a promise to visit by their healthier blood relatives — to board with other semi-abandoned elderly, suburbanites… California’s Walking Dead, attended to by dozens of miserably exploited and lonely Filipino migrant care givers, whose families back home need every dollar that can be wired back their way. It’s not exactly like the four arrested care home owners spent 2013 waterskiing across Martha’s Vineyards with the Obama Family, like your Eric Schmidts and Pierre Omidyars and Jeffrey Katzenbergs and the rest of the Techtopus wage theft profiteers.
The deputy DA is right to point to the very real consequence of wage theft — those stolen wages mean more equity, in this case a handful of suburban California tract homes. That’s what wage theft does, it transfers wages from the many employee-victims, and converts it into real equity for the very few wage thieves. The value of that equity grows exponentially in a place like Greater Silicon Valley, whether it’s equity in a tract home in the East Bay, or equity in a tech firm that grows into billions.
You can see how this terrible wage-theft-into-equity calculus works most clearly in the way George Lucas became a multibillionaire. Lucas, as I wrote, was the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the illegal wage theft conspiracy back in the mid-1980s, initiating the secret illegal scheme with Steve Jobs and Pixar president Ed Catmull. In his deposition last year, Lucas reveals himself as someone totally deluded into believing that his years illegally suppressing his employees’ wages was an act of moral courage, responsibility, and a sort of anti-capitalist collective rebellion against evil corporations. By secretly and illegally suppressing his workers wages and their opportunities, Lucas argued, he was serving a higher cause for their benefit and for Art. And Lucas clearly believes himself.
Towards the end of the deposition, as Lucas is caught contradicting himself — on the one hand insisting that without wage-fixing agreements, the entire VFX digital animation industry would implode, then insisting that LucasFilm did not need to suppress wages in order to survive as a business, because it wasn’t really about profits and competition but about artistry and cooperation — Lucas let loose his twisted logic, polished over in the confused language of 60s resistance and Weathermen anti-capitalism:
“I was trying to — we were trying to protect the San Francisco film industry. It is very, very small. It is very hard for us. We’re not like Hollywood. And the only way we can survive is if we do it together. United we stand, divided we fall. This is not like a regular capitalist kind of operation where you’re out to kill the other guy. I’m promoting digital technology for cinema, and I’m devoting a lot of my time working with animators and with visual effects people to try to expand the entire medium and discipline for everybody. When I came here, there were nobody — there was nobody.”
And yet, to borrow from deputy DA Murphy, those wages stolen from Lucas’ workers over a period of decades allowed George Lucas to cash out of LucasFilm two years ago, selling his stake for $4 billion — $2 billion in Disney stock (making him the largest or second-largest shareholder in Disney) and $2 billion in cash. (A few years earlier, Steve Jobs cashed out his stake in Pixar — co-initiator of the illegal wage theft cartel — for $7.4 billion, making Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder at the time.)
One could respond to Lucas’ garbled admixture of radical cliches and mysticism —Angela Davis by way of Yoda: “stand we do united, operation like capitalist this is not, m’m!” — that if he’d taken just half of his $4 billion cash-out in 2012 and redistributed it to the several hundreds of workers whose wages he suppressed to build up that equity, that then he’d make some sense.
But that is the stuff of hippie fantasies, and Lucas is in the business of selling fantasies. As for the real George Lucas, instead redistributing back the equity earned from suppressing his workers’ wages, he shrewdly held on to his wealth, and now he’s shoveling close to $1 billion of his wealth into a controversial museum project with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. It’s an old tradition going back to the robber baron days — endowing museums, sleazy land deals with local power brokers — which appears to be philanthropic but in fact serves to protect the billionaire’s ill-begotten wealth by integrating the riches into the cultural and political DNA, all with tax benefits.
And therein lies the problem with the four arrested care home providers: They didn’t steal nearly enough money. Just enough to gain some equity in a few miserable East Bay homes. And now they don’t have that, and the fleeced care workers will have to wait as the money trickles in from freshly abandoned elderly suburbanites, whose checks will presumably be garnished so that they can trickle down at last to the 60 or so exploited Filipino care home employees and their families somewhere on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Adjunt Professors

Why universities like to hire adjunct professors ("“The most shocking thing is that many of us don’t even earn the federal minimum wage... Our students didn’t know that professors with PhDs aren’t even earning as much as an entry-level fast food worker.)

Culinary Delites


1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
1tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
4 c Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 box refrigerator piecrust (or homemade)

1 stick, plus 1 TBS butter
In large iron skillet, melt 1 stick of butter and 1 cup brown sugar (do not caramelize, just melt the two together). Cover with piecrust; add apples, ¾ c white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover with top crust that has been slit in 3-4 places (I always cut a heart shape, feel free to choose your own cutout). Sprinkle top with remaining ¼ cup of sugar and dot with remaining TBS of butter.
Bake in 350-degree oven, for 30-45 minutes or until crust is brown and apples are tender.

Junk Food and the Male Brain

Eating a high-fat and high-carb diet resulted in inflammation in the brain -- at least in male mice.

Cubicles Can Be Fun When They Look Like Little Tiny Cabins

Cubicles are one of the worst things about the modern office.
These cool cubicles by MFRMGR provide employees privacy and comfort all while allowing for interaction in the windows. Each cubicle is equipped with carpet, shelves and a closet to really help the workers feel comfortable in their own private space.
Read more about the clever designs over at Homes and Hues: MFRMGR Makes Cubicles That Feel Cozy

Random Photos

Quarantines don't work

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Congo Contained Ebloa

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Ebola News

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Ebola - myths and facts
Worse than Ebola: Entrovirus D68 is paralyzing children
You can't stop Ebola at the airport

Deforestation and the Ebola Outbreak

Cutting down trees isn't just bad for the climate. It also can facilitate the spread of deadly diseases.

Scared To Death

We've all said, at one time or another, that we were "scared to death" by something freak-out-worthy. But unless we were speaking from beyond the grave, we weren't being literal. Can we actually get dead from sheer fright?

Brace Yourself America: The Polar Vortex Is Coming Back

East coasters, especially, are in for another brutal winter.
Remember last year’s polar vortex? The record low temperatures? The steam rising from Lake Michigan? The water that froze mid-slosh?
It’s coming back.
AccuWeather reports:
Cold air will surge into the Northeast in late November, but the brunt of the season will hold off until January and February. The polar vortex, the culprit responsible for several days of below-zero temperatures last year, will slip down into the region from time to time, delivering blasts of arctic air.
“I think, primarily, we’ll see that happening in mid-January into February but again, it’s not going to be the same type of situation as we saw last year, not as persistent,” AccuWeather.com Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
“The cold of last season was extreme because it was so persistent. We saw readings that we haven’t seen in a long time: 15- to 20-below-zero readings.”
Snow accumulation is also expected to be higher than usual, with especially heavy hits to Philadelphia and New York City.
According to  CNN, a polar vortex is the “circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction.” Generally, these winds are confined to the region, but the winds have been known to distort, and dip much further south than usual.
But, then again, they are saying this as well ...
Don't expect the polar vortex to pummel the eastern United States this winter.

Living without water

Hundreds of residents and business people in the small town of Porterville, in California's normally verdant Central Valley, who have no running water and are having to re-think how they live.

Drought Resembles Worst in Millennium

The 1934 drought is the worst on record for North America in the past 1,000 years, and had similar conditions to the current California drought.

The London Beer Flood of 1814

It was 200 years ago today that a neighborhood in London, England, was flooded by beer. The Meux and Company Brewery had several large brewing vats on the roof. The largest was a 22-foot-high vat to brew porter. It held 511,920 liters of beer, or enough to fill 20,000 barrels. On October 17, 1814, after fermenting for months, one of the metal hoops holding the porter vat together gave way, and the beer exploded out, causing the surrounding vats to fail as well.
A total of 1,224,000 liters of beer under pressure smashed through the twenty-five foot high brick wall of the building, and gushed out into the surrounding area - the slum of St Giles. Many people lived in crowded conditions here, and some were caught by the waves of beer completely unaware. The torrent flooded through houses, demolishing two in its wake, and the nearby Tavistock Arms pub in Great Russell Street suffered too, its 14-year-old barmaid Eleanor Cooper buried under the rubble. The Times reported on 19 October of the flood:
The bursting of the brew-house walls, and the fall of heavy timber, materially contributed to aggravate the mischief, by forcing the roofs and walls of the adjoining houses.
Fearful that all the beer should go to waste, though, hundreds of people ran outside carrying pots, pans, and kettles to scoop it up - while some simply stooped low and lapped at the liquid washing through the streets. However, the tide was too strong for many, and as injured people began arriving at the nearby Middlesex Hospital there was almost a riot as other patients demanded to know why they weren't being supplied with beer too - they could smell it on the flood survivors, and were insistent that they were missing out on a party! Calm was quickly restored at the hospital, but out in the streets was a different matter.
At least eight people died from the flood: some drowned, other died of injuries, and one supposedly died several days later of alcohol poisoning, although that story may be apocryphal. Read the rest of the story at h2g2. 

Alexander the Great's Portrait

The recently uncovered mosaic in a mysterious Greek tomb may be the clearest depiction of the famous ruler as a young man.

The Bermuda Triangle and Siberia

The cause behind the Bermuda Triangle could also explain mysterious holes appearing in Siberia.

Shark Feeding Frenzy

Videos taken recently at North Carolina beaches show incredible shark feeding frenzies, and how easy it is for some ravenous sharks to get stuck out of water.

The Kraken Rises

Fisherman brings up a creature that looks like a Greek mythology character.

Animal Pictures