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

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Tallahassee, Calabasas, Okanogan, Aldie, Winona, United States
Quebec, Longueuil, Ottawa, Toronto, Burnaby, Edmonton, New Westminister, Canada
Bogota, Colombia
The Bottom, Sint Eustatius-Saba
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Santiago, Chile
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Vladivostok, Moscow, Saratov, Krasnogorsk, Ryazan, Russia
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Laval, Villeurbanne, Paris, Salon-De-Provence, Rouen, France
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Karlskrona, Kista, Borlaenge, Stockholm, Sweden
Prague, Czech Republic
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Portland, London, Manchester, England
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Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Ad Dammam, Saudi Arabia
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Johannesburg, Randburg, South Africa
Adadir, Morocco
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The Pacific
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Pasig, Philippines
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Today in History

1493 Christopher Columbus discovers Antigua during his second expedition.
1556 The Englishman Richard Chancellor is drowned off Aberdeenshire on his return from a second voyage to Russia.
1647 All Dutch-held areas of New York are returned to English control by the treaty of Westminster.
1775 U.S. Marine Corps founded.
1782 In the last battle of the American Revolution, George Rogers Clark attacks Indians and Loyalists at Chillicothe, in Ohio Territory.
1871 Henry M. Stanley finds Dr. Livingstone at Ujiji near Unyanyembe in Africa.
1879 Little Bighorn participant Major Marcus Reno is caught window-peeping at the daughter of his commanding officer—an offense for which he will be courtmartialed.
1911 President Taft ends a 15,000-mile, 57-day speaking tour.
1911 The Imperial government of China retakes Nanking.
1917 Forty-one US suffragettes are arrested protesting outside the White House.
1938 Fascist Italy enacts anti-Semitic legislation.
1941 Churchill promises to join the U.S. "within the hour" in the event of war with Japan.
1942 Admiral Jean Darlan orders French forces in North Africa to cease resistance to the Anglo-American forces.
1952 U.S. Supreme Court upholds the decision barring segregation on interstate railways.
1961 Andrew Hatcher is named associate press secretary to President John F. Kennedy.
1962 Eleanor Roosevelt is buried, she had died three days earlier.
1964 Australia begins a draft to fulfill its commitment in Vietnam.
1969 The PBS children's program Sesame Street debuts.
1971 Two women are tarred and feathered in Belfast for dating British soldiers, while in Londonderry, Northern Ireland a Catholic girl is also tarred and feathered for her intention of marrying a British soldier.
1972 Hijackers divert a jet to Detroit, demanding $10 million and ten parachutes.
1975 The iron ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald breaks in half and sinks at the eastern end of Lake Superior–all 29 crew members perish.
1986 President Ronald Reagan refuses to reveal details of the Iran arms sale.
1989 German citizens begin tearing down the Berlin Wall.
1997 WorldCom and MCI Communications announce a merger, the largest in US history up to that time.
2008 NASA declares the Phoenix mission concluded after losing communications with the lander, five months after it began its exploration on the surface of Mars.
2009 North Korean and South Korean ships skirmish off Daecheon Island.

An Abridged History of Funambulists

Funambulism is a Greek word meaning tightrope walker. Rope walkers in ancient Greece and Rome couldn’t get into the Olympics, but their skills instead entered the show business arena. Over the centuries, competition among these acrobats led to the development of other acts, such as the flying trapeze and other aerial stunts, and also led to ever greater stunts, like walking a wire above Niagara Falls.
In the 1800s everyone wanted to walk across Niagara Falls. The first to do so was Jean François Gravelet, known as the Great Blondin, who was the most famous wire-walker of the time. He crossed the Falls in 1859, pausing in the middle to sit down and drink a beer he pulled up on a rope from the Maid of the Mist. He would return to the Falls again and again, doing crazier highwire stunts each time: riding a bicycle across, cooking an omelet in the middle, going across blindfolded or on stilts, and even carrying his manager across on his back. Next up was the Great Farini (né William Leonard Hunt), one of the most celebrated acrobats in Europe at the time. He duplicated many of the Great Blondin's stunts, and his coup de grâce in 1860 was crossing the Falls with a washing machine strapped to his back; in the middle he stopped to wash several handkerchiefs, which he then gave to his waiting admirers. Maria Spelterini, a circus performer from the age of 3, was the first woman to wire-walk across the Falls, and she also did it many times — once with her wrists and ankles manacled, once with a paper bag over her head, and once with peach baskets on her feet.
Maria Spelterini is pictured above. Read more stories of funambulists in history at Atlas Obscura.

5 Things The Democratic Party Must Change To Win Elections Again

by Manny Schewitz
I’m not going to mince any words or sugarcoat the message today – the midterm elections sucked. They weren’t bad, disappointing, or sad – they were absolutely horrific, and it’s only going to get worse unless progressives and the Democratic Party do something fast. It wasn’t that the repugicans had a great message, it’s that the left didn’t have a message and people just didn’t show up. It wasn’t a victory for repugican ideas, it was a forfeit by Democrats.
For some reason, the younger generation of voters didn’t turn out to vote, and I think a lot of it had to do with apathy. There certainly were good candidates on the ballot, and while New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley referred to this loss as a “red tide,” he’s wrong. While I’m an independent, I tend to vote for Democrats, sometimes grudgingly, and pretending that this cycle was a fluke win for the repugican cabal is wrong – and dangerous for Democrats.
If the Democratic Party wants to change this pattern of losing and making excuses, they’re going to have to make some drastic changes very quickly. Here are my five suggestions that party officials should implement as quickly as possible.
5. Go back to the “50-state strategy” that was very successful in 2006 and in 2008. All too often, ideological Democrats tend to write off conservative states like Louisiana and don’t bother spending any time or resources on candidates in red districts, especially if they’re centrists or even moderately conservative. At the same time, they’re also going to have to appeal to independent voters in those districts instead of pretending everyone who lives in Alabama or Mississippi are a bunch of racist, redneck teabaggers.
4. Stop playing the race card: I’m one of the most anti-racist people you’ll ever meet and I’m sick of someone playing the race card every time repugicans criticize President Obama or don’t support something that he does. Are repugicans racists? Absolutely, but stop blaming every measure of opposition on race. Most repugicans and shrieking heads are opposing him because he’s a Democrat. Remember what they did to President Clinton and the lies they made up about him and Hillary that still continue to this very day? The repubgicans are also more than happy to welcome blacks into their ranks like Dr. Ben Carson, who are fluent in the language of political derp and making Nazi comparisons. Yes, minorities are just as capable of selling out their own people and saying stupid stuff for a buck – so stop with the race card thing. It’s getting really, really old.
3. Enough with the Koch Brothers scare tactics: Like it or not, money in politics has been around since the beginning. This is an unfortunate part of the political process, but to pretend that the only big spenders in politics are Charles and David Koch is disingenuous and hypocritical. Look at this Super PAC list of receipts and expenditures for this election cycle, and you’ll see a lot of the money comes from liberal groups. Also, despite some well-circulated blog stories that even made an appearance on DailyKos, they don’t have a Nazi past. While their influence in politics has certainly been harmful and they’ve poured funds into supporting candidates that don’t have America’s best interests at heart, lies and half-truths don’t help the cause. Deal in facts, not scare mongering or the latest nontroversy involving political celebrities like the Quitta From Wasilla that don’t matter. That’s Faux News territory and we don’t need to stoop to that level.
2. Stop the elitism: As a white male who lives in the South and owns guns, I don’t feel like I belong to that party and haven’t been registered with them in 4 years. More and more it feels like unless you’re a New York or California true blue, ideologically pure liberal, you’re really not welcome. That’s an especially big turn off to white, blue-collar voters who do not like repugican policies, but feel like Democrats look down on them as poor and uneducated rednecks who need to have their guns taken away. Stop talking about how horrible repugicans are all the time and start telling them what you can do to make their lives better instead of just saying that you’re better than the repugicans, and really little else.
1. Turn out the youth vote again: Young voters turned out in 2008 like never before, and gave President Obama a landslide victory. Then in 2010 and afterwards, they didn’t really bother. These are voters that the Democratic Party is going to have to reach once again, or let an ever-shrinking older repugican population keep deciding elections. These younger voters are turned off by a constant bombardment of distractions and the message from people like Russell Brand (and other celebrity figures that have inserted themselves into politics) that voting doesn’t matter or that it’s a waste of time. There’s an effort out there to convince the public to remain apathetic and to tell them that both parties are the same, and if Democrats don’t push back against that hard, they’re not going to get people to turn out.
Of course, I’m just a white guy who owns guns, drives a pickup truck and lives in the South. I’m sure that the party elite may not care what I have to say, but these suggestions would go a long way into expanding the voter base and getting people to care enough to show up on Election Day. Or they can just keep going the way they are now and let repugicans control all but the most liberal districts. It’s up to them.

The Significant Role That Stupidity Played in repugicans stealing Control of Congress

The sad fact is that the stupidity that drove the results of the midterms is not reserved to the repugican base, or Democratic voters would not have stayed…
Just in case any reader is unaware of what stupid means, it is a person that lacks intelligence and shows absolutely limited ability to learn and understand things; even when something is explained in the clearest sense, or they experience it firsthand. The results of the midterm elections, from Senate races to governorships, have revealed that Americans are, if nothing else, fundamentally stupid. The sad fact is that the stupidity that drove the results of the midterms is not reserved to the repugican base, or Democratic voters would not have stayed home in a repeat performance of the devastating 2010 midterms.
In a headline in a large regional newspaper in California, the Thursday morning front page headline read; “Voters more angry with Obama than afraid of the repugican cabal.” That is right. All but the most loyal teabaggers, racists and religio-wingnuts completely understand that repugicans and their corporatist policies are something to fear, and yet voters’ anger at the President for NOT delivering on his agenda drove them to repugicans.
It is not that the majority of voters approve or agree with many repugican policies, they are just angry at President Obama for not raising the minimum wage, enacting immigration reform, forcing manufacturers to relocate back to America, or anything he called on Congress to address in his last four State of the Union speeches. The results of over a hundred state ballot initiatives, measures, and constitutional amendments revealed that even in deep red repugican states, voters are more in line with the President’s policies and agenda than they are anything repugicans propose; whether in private or publicly. So who is angry with the President? Stupid people are, and they are more likely Democrats than dyed-in-the-wool repugicans.
There is no doubt the midterm elections were greatly influenced by big money, repugican shills in corporate media, and dazed and confused Democrats pandering to repugican voters, but at the end of the day it is the voters who walked into voting booths and dutifully ticked the boxes next to repugican candidate’s names. Except, that is, for some Democratic voters. They either stayed home in protest that the President’s successful achievements did not go far enough, or unbelievably voted for repugicans. Their rationale was based on a fantastical hope that if repugicans controlled both chambers of Congress, they would have a change of heart after nearly six years of sheer obstructionism and work with the President’s agenda. It is so incredibly illogical and defiant of any reason, but that is what repugicans convinced them to believe. Say what you will about vile repugicans, but by dog they understand the stupidity rampant among the voting public; both repugicans and  Democrats.
What is stunning beyond comprehension, is that Democratic apathy was part and parcel of why repugicans stole control of the House after the 2010 midterms. One often marvels at the gross lack of awareness permeating wingnut voters’ minds, and how on Earth they support repugican policies they know are a detriment to their best interests. But there is no reasonable excuse for any Democrat to have witnessed, firsthand no less, the devastation repugicans wrought on the nation after the 2010 midterms and then sit out another midterm just four years later.
Over the course of about a month leading up to the midterms, while encouraging Democratic voters not to repeat their 2010 performance and be sure to vote, one was flabbergasted at the outrage aimed at the President. Not because of his agenda and policies, but for not “forcing repugicans in the House and Senate to go along with his agenda.” At least half of the Democrats complained that despite calling for a minimum wage hike, immigration reform, gun control, and action on climate change, nothing had been accomplished.
Now it is true that over 47% of Americans could not name the three branches of government if their life depended on it, slightly more even know there are three branches, but one expects that Democratic voters would be slightly more informed than racist religio-wingnut teabaggers. That is clearly not the case and it is a damning indictment, and pathetic commentary, on the voters who sat out another midterm and handed Congress over to repugicans. The repugicans understand that when the population is struggling, wants better wages, gun control, better access to healthcare, clean water, and American jobs brought back home, they blame whoever is sitting in the Oval Office and it likely drove their obstructionism. But they are only able to succeed because the majority of voters are so ill-informed about how government works, they blame the President for repugican malfeasance and obstruction. That explains exactly why voters that support the President’s policies are angry that he is not giving them what they want; something Democratic voters bemoaned he perpetually calls for in his speeches but just will not deliver.
For example, one “citizen” in particular who boasted that they voted for the President in 2008 and 2012 complained that “Obama just won’t raise the minimum wage, make corporations pay their fair share, or stop the obvious racism ruining America.” When the voter was asked if they understood it was Congress that passes laws, and that repugicans were obstructing the President’s agenda, they went ballistic and said “if he was a good President, he would force them to pass laws.” The voter’s solution was voting for repugicans because they promised “that if they controlled Congress, they would force Obama to do what’s right for the people.” These are the morons President Obama claimed in a letter to supporters were “practicing good citizenship” because they went to the polls. Voting based on sheer ignorance does not make one a good citizen any more than sitting home in protest does.
One understands, in the perverse country that is America, why racists and religious fanatics dependably vote for repugicans and against their best interests. They know their lot in life is down to repugican policies, but they are fools clinging to guns, god, and dreams of an all-white America. Why else would a destructive “social wingnut” like Sam Brownback, corrupt Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida, steal another election despite the disastrous consequences their policies produce? In part it is religion, guns, and racist tendencies, but it is likely as much down to low-information voters and their masochism to opt for four more years of devastation. However, there is no excuse for Democratic voters to either sit home in anger at the President, or worse, actually vote for repugicans based on an insane belief that handing them control of both Houses of Congress they would work with the President and raise the minimum wage, pass immigration reform, or start repairing the crumbling roads and bridges.
America may have been exceptional at one time, but those days are long gone and whether Americans want to admit it or not, they are not coming back in their lifetimes. At least not as long as this nation’s population is steeped in ignorance about their own government, or worse, stupid enough to believe a President has a magic wand he can wave at will and produce everything he calls on Congress to enact.
The results of the midterms were disgusting and a reason to wallow in despair, but not for the voter suppression, Koch money, repugican-controlled media, or lame-brained Democrats running from the President. But because apathetic Democratic voters are just as stupid as their teabagger, racist, religio-wingnut cohorts if for no other reason than they repeated the same stupid mistake they made in 2010 and once again the entire population is going to pay.

Did you know ...

About the supreme court on the ACA: bad news for Obamacare or bad news for state-level republicans?
That black women face absurdly high rates of eviction
This teacher spends two days as a student - and learns a lot
And have we passed the tipping point of biological collapse?
That charter schools in Chicago did worse than public schools
That space tourism isn't worth dying for
That cops do 20,000 no-knock raids a year
That the vast majority of Americans have no idea how health insurance works
The BP oil spill leaves a bathtub ring the size of Rhode Island on the gulf floor
It's no wonder climate depression is real
About NYPD harrassment: living in a state of fear 
That U.S. Ebola deaths won't even come close to alcohol and tobacco deaths
And "first they came for our halo 2's, and I said nothing"
That the majority if Americans worry about hacking
That America needs a better class of racists
This convicted killer shouts in court to vote for repugican candidate
That pregnant Texans are being charged with crimes that don't exist
Just how can we stop cops from beating and killing?
That the worst state for women continues to be Mississippi
That child poverty in the U.S. highest in 20 years says study
About the science of why we put milk on our cereal
About the reality of reality TV:  worker exploitation
And get ready for cancer-detecting yoghurt

Bernie Sanders Delivers A Gut Punch To the repugican Agenda To Screw Ordinary Americans

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) went there. While the media is basking in the glow of repugican theft, Sanders predicted that the repugican agenda will focus on doing the exact opposite of what they American people want in order to make the wealthiest Americans more wealthy.
Sanders said,
bernie sanders republicans out to make rich richerHere’s the interesting point. You talk about repugican principles. The repugicans forgot to tell the American people what their principles are, so let me make a prediction. Let me make a prediction, and a year from now invite me back and we’ll see if I am right or wrong. This is exactly what they will do. The American people want to expand Social Security. What the Republicans will do is attempt to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporation. They will do exactly what the American people don’t want them to do. You talked about raising the minimum wage. They don’t believe in that. They want to do away with the concept of the minimum wage, so people will work for five bucks or four bucks an hour.
They will make the effort, and you talk about the repugican principles are to make the very richest people in this country richer at the expense of working families.
Bernie Sanders delivered a gut punch to the idea that since Obama is president, repugicans can’t do anything, so they won’t try. The repugicans worked so hard to keep their agenda a secret for a reason. They know that with control of Congress, they can try to force the President’s hand on budgetary issues in order to get things that the repugican people don’t want.
Congressional repugicans are going to try every trick in the book to cut social programs, and give benefits to corporations and the wealthy. The repugicans are hoping that they can continue to disguise this agenda for the next two years. If they could keep the American people in the dark long enough, repugicans hope that they can retake the White House in 2016.
For congressional repugicans, it is all about dressing up their agenda as something that it isn’t. With just a few sentences, Sen. Sanders called out that agenda and delivered an example that the left should follow. The left needs to attack and expose the difference. The repugican language needs to be debunked and explained.
The process of educating the American people on what they really elected begins now

The wingnuts Turn on McConnell And Anoint Ted Cruz The Leader Of Congress

The 'real' 'wingnus look forward to Cruz's plan to push "his" repugican-led Senate to be as wingnut and confrontational as "his" repugican-led House.…
Cruz McConnell
It is a fairly safe bet that next to the Koch brothers, Heritage Foundation, Senate wingnut Fund, and the Club for Growth, no-one in Washington was as excited with the results of the midterm elections as corrupt Kentuckian Mitch McConnell. It is also likely that McConnell has yearned to be Majority Leader throughout his political career, and although he may end up winning that coveted title, he will be Majority Leader in name only because 'pure' wingnuts at Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and the Senate wingnut Fund already have anointed Texas Ted Cruz as de facto leader of both chambers of Congress because he will deliver the ideological wingnut goods, or decimate the government which is still a win in their warped minds.
Texas Ted will be the go-to vehicle through which all far-right rage in Congress, in both chambers, is realized and acted upon. He may only be a junior senator from Texas, but as such he quickly parlayed his extremist teabagger credentials into authority as de facto Speaker of the House over the past two years. How is that possible? He has the undying support, and unlimited funding, from the interests of radicalized “pure conservative” groups” such as Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, the Senate wingnuts Fund, teabagger 'patriots' and any anti-government groups loyal to Wall Street and the Koch brothers.
What will prove interesting, if nothing else, is how McConnell reacts to being relegated to nothing more than a figure-head after lusting for the Majority Leader designation for three decades. Oh it is true McConnell adheres to nearly every policy Heritage, Senate wingnuts Fund, and Club For Growth espouse, but he clearly understands the damage to the repugican brand an extremist like Cruz can do on the national level. It is important to remember that after Cruz, as de facto House Speaker, masterminded the government shutdown in October 2013, the “official” Speaker John Boehner railed against the outside groups that “tricked our guys” into shutting down the government.
Those outside groups understand that they likely only have two years to enact their anti-government agenda on the nation, and based on their operative Texas Ted’s plans, they will indeed attempt to lay waste to every government agency or shut down the government. Or worse they will allow Ted to force the nation and likely the world into an economic depression by creating a credit default; that is how serious they are about effecting the Koch brothers’ vision for America.
The 'real' wingnuts look forward to Cruz’s plan to push “his” repugican-led Senate to be as wingnut and confrontational as “his” repugican-led House. The new Congressional leader said his first order of business will be “piggybacking on what House leaders have done for four years and immediately hold a series of hearings on President Obama’s abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, and lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.” Cruz has mastered corrupt Darrell Issa’s Obama Derangement Syndrome speech perfectly, and will deliver from the Senate the same time and money-wasting effort as House repugicans.
Incoming Senate majority leader Ted Cruz revealed his big plans, and a Koch brother agenda, for both houses of Congress in his first 100 days as repugican cabal leader according to comments in the Washington Post. First on his repugican to-do list after initiating an Issa-like rash of investigations, is orchestrating a House-Senate reconciliation process to pass a quick, and comprehensive, “total Obamacare repeal so Obama can veto it” to fire up teabagger outrage and momentum to do some “serious government reform.” Remember, that in repugican parlance, reform is code for massive elimination: of taxes for the rich and corporations, several federal agencies, and every domestic program the Kochs hate because program or agency that serves the population and strengthens the country must be demolished.
There is good reason the press questioned Koch, Club for Growth, and Senate wingnut Fund teabagger candidates for Senate Jodi Ernst and Tom Tillis about how many federal agencies they intended to eliminate from the federal budget “when” they controlled the Congress. Although they never dared list which agencies are slated for death by Koch vision in public, their major funders and staunch supporters in the Club For Growth and Senate wingnut Fund had a pre-designated high-priority list of federal agencies to eliminate at their first opportunity.
For starters, 'pure' wingnuts included the Departments of Education, Commerce, Labor, and Agriculture for immediate and complete elimination that 'real' wingnuts consider the first step on the path to “limited government” that exists solely to serve the interests of Wall Street, corporations, and of course the Koch brothers. That elimination list invariably includes at least slashing and privatizing Social Security while raising the retirement age as recompense to Wall Street and financial institutions. Medicare will be transformed into a coupon for seniors over the age of 72, and Medicaid will be reduced to a shell of what it is now if it survives at all.
If Americans thought the Paul Ryan Path to Prosperity budget was harsh, Cruz’s Club for Growth and Senate wingnut Fund masters have a plan that makes Ryan’s budget look christ-generous and will settle for nothing less than ending food stamps, unemployment insurance, and the federal minimum wage along with any anti-poverty program “pure wingnuts” and the Koch brothers consider intolerable in their ideologically perverse libertarian vision for America.
If any of the racists, religio-wingnuts, and discontented morons who voted for repugicans and their promise of “pure theocratic wingnuttery” believe for a nano-second there will be even a semblance of practical governance, like funding any part of the government or preventing a credit default and bankruptcy, their celebratory mood will be short-lived. However, for the “real wingnuts,” with Ted Cruz leading both the House and Senate with his vicious Koch-teabagger anti-government thugs Mike Lee, Jodi Ernst, and Tom Tillis at his side, their wildest “drown the government” dream will be realized.
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have already laid out their opening salvo to rape Americans out of their health insurance and privatize public education. But those are inconsequential compared to the real damage on the horizon. Even as harsh as taking healthcare away from a million Americans seems, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, Senate wingnut Fund, and Koch brothers have in store for America, and with a “real wingnut” leader like Ted Cruz running Congress, if they don’t destroy the government they will decimate the repugican brand forever.

Christie's latest screaming match with a heckler has his most devoted fans - cable shrieking heads - calling him a bully

by Simon Maloy
As a general rule, it's a bad idea for politicians to get into shouting confrontations with average people. The reason for this is simple: people tend to say stupid things when they're angry and arguing..
Remember how everyone spent the entire 2012 election cycle laughing at Mitt Romney for saying "corporations are people, my friend"? That happened because Romney got into a drawn-out exchange with a heckler in Iowa. The politicians who recognize the danger in being dragged into a rhetorical mud fight have figured out strategies for neutralizing their harassers. One of the best heckler defusers out there is Ted Cruz, who is an expert at using friendly crowds to gang up on and drown out people who interrupt his speeches.
The giant exception to this rule is Chris Christie. He's made himself into a figure of national prominence by engaging in frequent and prolonged screaming matches with teachers, union members, protesters, reporters, Democrats in the state legislature - anyone who could possibly be a good foil - and then posting video clips of the confrontations to YouTube. It was a mixture of Christie's inherent pugnacity and carefully staged performance art, and it worked. He was able to successfully leverage the "Jersey" stereotype of the take-no-shit tough guy and build himself a national brand out of it.
Shrieking heads absolutely ate it up. For shrieking heads who were frustrated by political leaders like Barack Obama who are "cool" and "professorial" (read: not entertaining), Christie's bombast proved very appealing. Others, like Brit Hume, admired Christie for his hyper-masculine refusal to be neutered by the feminist PC police. Either way, the pundit world became one of Christie's most important audiences, and they were eager to help promote him.
This was particularly true of the easily seduced power worshipers who populate MSNBC's "Morning Joe." They happily prostrated themselves to the Christie legend and were in constant awe of his propensity to shout at people. "There is like testosterone coming out of every pore in his body. I can't wait to see in Iowa or New Hampshire, some teabagger troglodyte calling him a liberal, and Christie reaching down the guy's throat and pulling his lungs out," Charlie Cook said on "Morning Joe" after Christie's reelection, to hoots and howls of laughter from everyone else on the panel.
But as Christie's reputation has been tainted by scandal and manifold investigations and worsening popularity in his home state, the shrieking love affair with Christie's bullying bravado isn't what it once was. Earlier this week, Christie got into confrontation with a local activist who heckled him at an event commemorating the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The heckler wanted to know why Christie was sitting on federal relief funds meant to get hurricane victims back into their homes, and Christie laid into him.
All the elements of Christie's "please watch me yell at a person" strategy were there. He warned the guy (and telegraphed to the audience) that a Classic Christie Confrontation was about to happen: "You all know me, so if we're going to get into a debate here today, it's going to get very interesting and very fun." He belittled his opponent, ironically, as someone showing off for the cameras. And he served up a brutal, easily quoted coup-de-grace: "So listen, you want to have the conversation later, I'm happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up."
The Morning Joe crew, usually reliable in their sycophantic awe of Christie's verbal displays of masculine dominance, weren't impressed:
The Washington Post picked up on the criticism of Christie as a "bully" and pegged it as the biggest threat to his image headed into 2016 - ironic, given that bullying is was got him on the national radar to begin with.

'I am not a scientist' is shorthand for 'David Koch doesn't want me to answer that'

A good New York Times read on what repugicans get from their curious new climate-denier talking point "I am not a scientist." Short answer, they get to run away from the question.
Jon A. Krosnick, who conducts polls on public attitudes on climate change at Stanford, finds the phrase perplexing. "What's odd about this 'I'm not a scientist' line is that there's nothing in the data we've seen to suggest that this helps a candidate," Mr. Krosnick said. "We can't find a single state where the majority of voters are skeptical. To say, 'I'm not a scientist' is like saying, 'I'm not a parakeet.' Everyone knows that it just means, 'I'm not going to talk about this.' "
That problem, you see, is that it's no longer credible to deny that climate change is happening-voters don't buy it. But acknowledging that it is real would quickly end the campaign dreams of any Koch-affiliated repugican who tried.
For now, "I'm not a scientist" is what one party adviser calls "a temporary Band-Aid" - a way to avoid being called a climate change denier but also to sidestep a dilemma. The reality of campaigning is that a politician who acknowledges that burning coal and oil contributes to global warming must offer a solution, which most policy experts say should be taxing or regulating carbon pollution and increasing government spending on alternative energy. But those ideas are anathema to lunatic fringe wingnut donors like the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and the agitator cabal they support, un-Americans for non-Prosperity.

The Economy, and Voters’ Perception of It, Are Two Very Different Things

We learned on Thursday that the United States economy expanded at a healthy rate this summer, growing 3.5 percent from July through September. This growth — as robust as it is — is unlikely, however, to influence how the president’s party fares this week at the polls. Midterm election results are not as directly related to objective economic conditions as presidential election outcomes are, something we discussed at The Upshot.
But the two types of elections have one thing in common when it comes to the nation’s economy: People’s assessments of how the economy is doing are equally related to vote choice in both midterm and presidential elections, even though objective economic conditions correlate much more strongly to presidential outcomes.
If you’re scratching your head trying to figure this out, you’re not alone. The only way this can be true is if something is mucking up the relationship between the actual economy and people’s judgments about the economy. And that’s exactly what is happening.

To understand how opinions about the economy and the actual economy might affect vote decisions in different ways, I looked for patterns of association between the real economy (growth) and election outcomes (seats in midterm years and vote share in presidential years) over the period from 1948 to 2012.
The correlation between growth in gross domestic product in the first six months of a presidential election year and two-party vote share for president is 0.64, and it’s even higher for another common objective economic indicator, real disposable income. But in midterm elections over the same period, the correlation between G.D.P. growth and the number of seats the president’s party gains or loses in the Senate is 0.03. In other words, there is a strong relationship between the nation’s growth rate and presidential vote share, but no relationship between the nation’s growth rate and Senate (or House) seat loss in midterm years.
Apparently, the objective state of the economy comes to bear on people’s choice for president in a way that it does not in their choice of representative or senator.
Where people’s assessments of the economy are concerned, however, it’s a different story. The American National Election Studies first asked people to evaluate the nation’s economic performance in 1980. Since then, the correlation betweeen the share of people who think the economy has gotten better and vote outcomes in presidential elections is just 0.4. In midterm years, the correlation between sanguine assessments of the economy in the A.N.E.S. and Senate seat loss is also 0.4. (It is less — 0.2 — in the House.)
It turns out that what’s mucking up the relationship between the actual economy and people’s opinions about it is partisanship.
For example, data from the most recent wave of the The New York Times/CBS News Battleground Tracker reveals that, on average, 24 percent of Americans think the nation’s economy has gotten better over the last year. But when that number is broken out by party, a revealing pattern emerges: Among self-described Democrats, 43 percent think things have gotten better this past year, but among repugicans, only 8 percent think so. Independents fall in the middle at 20 percent. It’s the same economy, but people view it differently, a result that is not particular to 2014.
Partisanship functions as a lens through which perceptions of the state of the nation’s economy are filtered. If you’re in the incumbent president’s party, your lenses are more likely to be rose-colored, and if you’re not, your lenses tend to be very dark — regardless of how the economy is actually performing! People answer survey questions about the economy as if they are being asked about their party identification. For some reason, asking people to “think back over the last year” and tell us whether they think “the economy has gotten better, stayed the same, or gotten worse,” actually activates their party identification in a way that perhaps even they don’t appreciate.
Despite this pattern of partisan conditioning, voters nonetheless manage to bring the actual state of the nation’s economy to bear on choices in the voting booth, but only in presidential election years. In midterm elections, the economy matters only through attitudes constructed through the lens of party identification — and remotely, through presidential approval.
The next time you think you’re judging an objective reality, stop and ask yourself whether your partisan lenses are on — or off.

Lady concerned she may potentially lose her job repeatedly hit boss in the face with a metal plate

A 25-year-old woman from St. Paul, Minnesota, is accused of repeatedly hitting her boss with a metal plate after being told she’d most likely lose her job, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office. On Oct. 30 at 10:22pm, Mendota Heights police were dispatched to Applied Coating on the report of an assault.
When police officers arrived, they learned a woman, identified as Waasohn Senite Dorliae, struck her boss, according to the complaint. An investigation revealed that Dorliae was upset after her boss reprimanded her for being late and told her she would most likely not have a job the next day.
Dorliae, who works on a line with metal, then took a large piece of metal and struck him in the face and head at least five times, the complaint said. Once he fell to the ground, she walked away with the weapon, but turned around and threw it at him – striking him in the knee. The victim suffered multiple cuts on his face, chin and back of the head.
In an interview with police, Darliae told police that the victim was “discriminating” and “nit-picking” on her and, because of that, she needed to resort to violence. She admitted to using full force to strike him in the head and said she needed to use the violence because he fired her, the complaint said. Dorliae now faces one felony count of second-degree assault. If convicted, she could face a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine.

Woman wearing I ♥ crystal meth t-shirt arrested for possession of crystal meth

A Kentucky woman wearing an “I 'heart' crystal meth” t-shirt was arrested early on Tuesday for possession of crystal meth.
Deborah Asher, 37, and a male acquaintance were caught in a drug investigation launched by Laurel County Sheriff's Department officers.
According to officers, Asher and Richard Rice, 57, were found in possession of 3.37 grams of the drug, as well as a set of digital scales.
Asher and Rice were charged with felony narcotics possession and trafficking counts. Scheduled to appear in court on November 12, Asher remains locked up in the county jail on $25,000 bond.

Police search for broccoli thief

Police are looking for a broccoli thief in the Upper Valley, Norwich, Vermont. Investigators say someone stole 70 pounds of the cabbage cousin from the Killdeer Farm on Butternut Road.
Police believe there's no way deer munched their way through it, and say the broccoli was sheared off.
Staffers at the farm say the organic broccoli was worth less than $300, and say they hope it at least went to a hungry family. If you have any information call the police.

Retro Photos


Eldorado posing…

Boko Haram denies it has agreed ceasefire

Islamist coven's leader rules out future talks with Nigerian government and says abducted schoolgirls will not be returned
Abubakar Shekau said of the abducted schoolgirls: 'We have married them off. They are in their marital homes.'.
The islamist coven Boko Haram has denied claims by Nigeria's government that it has agreed to a ceasefire and will release more than 200 abducted schoolgirls.
The announcement came in a video sent to Agence France-Presse on Saturday in which the militant group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, ruled out future talks with the government and said the girls had converted to islam and been married off since being kidnapped more than six months ago.
Some 276 schoolgirls were seized from the remote north-eastern town of Chibok in Borno state in April. Many escaped in the first couple of days but 219 remain missing.
More than 500 women and girls aged from infancy to 65 have been kidnapped by Boko Haram and held in militant camps since 2009, Human Rights Watch said this week, including 60 reportedly kidnapped from two towns in north-eastern Nigeria last week. Many have been targeted because they are christians or attending school.

Haitian President Martelly: 'I'm Trying To Re-Establish Confidence'

Interview conducted by Samiha Shafy
Haitian President Martelly: 'I'm Trying To Re-Establish Confidence'
Nearly five years after its earthquake, Haiti is still rebuilding. In an interview, Haitian President Michel Martelly discusses the country's "tremendous progress," but also addresses hurdles such as the failure of donor countries to pay what they pledged. More

The Lost Children

France Takes Stock of Growing Jihadist Problem
by Julia Amalia Heyer
The Lost Children: France Takes Stock of Growing Jihadist Problem
More than 1,000 young people from France have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, more than from any other European country. The recruits are no longer just coming from the margins of society. More

The Chaos Republics

Stagnation and Infighting Take Hold in Eastern Ukraine
by Christian Neef
The Chaos Republics: Stagnation and Infighting Take Hold in Eastern Ukraine
There was a time when it looked as though eastern Ukraine might become part of Russia. Now, though, rebels in the region have been fighting among themselves and Moscow is unsure how to proceed. Sunday's election changed nothing.  More

The Red Canal

Uncertainties Surround Nicaragua's New Waterway Project
by Jens Gluesing
The Red Canal: Uncertainties Surround Nicaragua's New Waterway Project
Nicaragua is soon to begin construction on a new canal connecting the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean. But even as up to 30,000 people face resettlement, details on the Chinese-funded mega-project remain sparse. More

Buying People from East Germany

During the Cold War, East Germany had very little money, because the Soviet Union had stripped the country of its assets. What they had plenty of were political prisoners, so there was a clandestine program to sell these prisoners -and their family members- to West Germany. Journalist Gavin Haines wrote about the practice for the BBC.  
"Figures do vary, but between 1964 and 1989 there were approximately 33,700 political prisoners that were sold," Haines says. "In addition to that, they obviously had lots of family members. So there was an additional 250,000 people who were sold."

It's a huge number. German media wrote about the practice, but few people in the English-speaking world knew about it until Haines' article came out. He says both sides, East and West, weren't interested in having the story come out. Why? It makes both countries look terrible.
NPR has an interview with Haines in which he describes the secret practice of buying political prisoners from East Germany.

Climate change and population growth may be factors in Assyrian Empire collapse

Assyrian troops. Image: Public DomainArchaeological, historical, and palaeo-climatic evidence suggests that climatic factors and population growth might have contributed to the decline of the Assyrian Empire along with civil wars and political unrest. This is the claim of Adam Schneider of the University of California-San Diego in the US, and Selim Adali of the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in Turkey, in a report published in the journal Climatic Change.
Decline, a mystery
In the 9th century BC, the Assyrian Empire of northern Iraq relentlessly started to expand into most of the ancient Near East. It reached its height in the early 7th century BC, becoming the largest of its kind in the Near East up to that time. The Assyrian Empire’s subsequent quick decline by the end of the 7th century has puzzled scholars ever since. Most ascribe it to civil wars, political unrest, and the destruction of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, by a coalition of Babylonian and Median forces in 612 BC. Nevertheless, it has remained a mystery why the Assyrian state, the military superpower of the age, succumbed so suddenly and so quickly.
Arid conditions and population growth
Schneider and Adali argue that factors such as population growth and droughts also contributed to the Assyrian downfall. Recently published palaeo-climate data show that conditions in the Near East became more arid during the latter half of the 7th century BC. During this time, the region also experienced significant population growth when people from conquered lands were forcibly resettled there. The authors contend that this substantially reduced the state’s ability to withstand a severe drought such as the one that hit the Near East in 657 BC. They also note that within five years of this drought, the political and economic stability of the Assyrian state had eroded, resulting in a series of civil wars that fatally weakened it.
What we are proposing is that these demographic and climatic factors played an indirect but significant role in the demise of the Assyrian Empire,” says Schneider.

Baby Planets Forming

Welcome to HL Tauri -- a star system that is just being born and the target of one of the most mind-blowing astronomical observations ever made.

A Body Exposed to Outer Space

If you got pushed into outer space without a fancy space suit on, what would happen to your body? All kinds of gnarly stuff, right? Yeah, but WHAT kind of gnarly stuff? Trace has the uncomfortable answers. Buckle up!

Star Dust Stunners

Hubble has completed a detailed survey of stars with dusty circumstellar disks -- but their stunning variety has been a surprise to astronomers. 

Chock-Full of Diamonds

Here on Earth, diamonds are rare and valuable. And forever, if you're a James Bond fan. A few planets in our friendly little solar systems might be flush with them -- it might even be raining diamonds on the gas giants Saturn and Jupiter!

Biggest Venomous Snake Ever Revealed in New Fossils

Biggest Venomous Snake Ever Revealed in New Fossils
Original illustrations of Laophis vertebrae reported by Sir Richard Owen in 1857.
Walking the grasslands of what is now Greece 4 million years ago was a dangerous proposition: Lurking among the vegetation was the largest venomous snake ever known to man.
Laophis crotaloides measured between 10 and 13 feet (3 and 4 meters) long and weighed a whopping 57 lbs. (26 kilograms). Today's longest venomous snakes, king cobras (Ophiophagus hannah), can grow to be about 18 feet (5.5 m) long. But at typical weights between 15 and 20 lbs. (6.8 to 9 kg), king cobras are scrawny compared to Laophis.
What makes Laophis even stranger was that it achieved this bulk not in the tropics, where most large reptiles live today, but in seasonal grasslands where winters were cool.
"We've got something that, for its latitudinal placement and the climate reconstruction, it's massively out of proportion," said study researcher Benjamin Kear, a paleobiologist at Uppsala University in Sweden.
Lost fossils
The tale of the enormous viper begins in 1857, when paleontologist Sir Richard Owen — the person who coined the word "dinosaur" — described 13 fossilized snake vertebrae found near Thessaloniki, Greece. Owen named the specimen Laophis crotaloides and reported it as the largest viper evr in the Quarterly Journal of The Geological Society (Vipers are one family of venomous snake, known for their hollow, retractable fangs.)
But the original 13 vertebrae have been lost, and no one had ever found any additional fossils to back up Owen's claim, said study researcher Georgios Georgalis, a graduate student at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. That is, until recently.
Now, a single vertebra, barely an inch long, found near Thessaloniki, confirms the existence of Owen's enormous viper.
"This snake was indeed impressive," Georgalis wrote in an email to Live Science. "We clearly speak about a monster!"
Snake vertebrae follow predictable patterns in relation to overall body size, which made it easy to extrapolate the snake's huge size from a single bone, Kear told Live Science. The snake is probably the largest viper ever found, far surpassing the modern record-holder Lachesis muta from South America, which grows up to a maximum length of 12 feet (3.7 m) and weighs no more than 11 lbs. (5 kg) or so. And the newfound snake's bulky body makes it the heavyweight champion of all venomous snakes who ever lived, viper or not.
Other, nonvenomous snakes do beat any of these vipers at the size game, however. Titanoboa, a boa constrictor-like snake from 60 million years ago, measured about 45 feet (14 m) long.
Mysterious size
For Georgalis and Kear, however, the intrigue comes not from record-breaking size alone, but from the question of what such a monster was doing in temperate Europe at all. Around 4 million years ago, the climate was cooling, and modern grassland ecosystems were emerging, Kear said.
The region where Laophis was discovered was also home to enormous tortoises, some of which grew as big as cars, Kear said. Because the climate was so cool, it's a mystery how these ancient turtles and snakes kept their metabolisms revving enough to grow so huge.
"Perhaps you're looking at unique aspects of their biology in the past," Kear said. "How did they do it?"
Little is known about Laophis' looks or lifestyle, as snake skulls don't preserve well in the fossil record, Kear said. But the enormous viper slithered alongside large mammals such as deer and horses, Georgalis said. It probably subsisted on a diet of small mammals like rodents.
Georgalis presented the findings today (Nov. 6) at the 2014 meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Berlin.

What Your Dog (or Horse) Is Trying to Tell You

Dogs and horses reveal how they're feeling in their facial expressions, according to new studies supporting what many pet owners have long suspected.

Horse Brought to Hospital to Say Goodbye to Dying Owner

Sheila Marsh, 77, had terminal cancer. It seemed that her fate would be to die in a hospital, separated from the animals that she loved so dearly. Marsh had 6 horses, 3 dogs, 3 cats, as well as other animal friends.
Among them all, she loved her horse Bronwen the most. She had raised the now 25-year old mare since she had been a foal. Marsh could not bear the thought of departing this life without saying goodbye to her one last time. So the hospital staff wheeled her outside the hospital, where Bronwen had been brought. The Guardian describes the scene:
Gail Taylor, a bereavement liaison specialist nurse, said: “The nursing staff wheeled Sheila down the corridor in her bed to the entrance.
“Bronwen walked steadily towards Sheila and she gently called to Bronwen and the horse bent down tenderly and kissed her on the cheek as they said their last goodbyes.”

Animal Pictures