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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Daily Drift

Defining wingnuts ...!
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Today in History

1798   British seamen board the U.S. frigate Baltimore and impress a number of crewmen as alleged deserters, a practice that contributed to the War of 1812.  
1813   The British announce a blockade of Long Island Sound, leaving only the New England coast open to shipping.  
1821   Trader William Becknell reaches Santa Fe, N.M., on the route that will become known as the Santa Fe Trail.
1846   General Zachary Taylor takes Saltillo, Mexico.  
1864   Union General William T. Sherman departs Atlanta and begins his "March to the Sea."  
1892   King Behanzin of Dahomey (now Benin), leads soldiers against the French.  
1902   A cartoon appears in the Washington Star, prompting the Teddy Bear Craze, after President Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a captive bear tied up for him to shoot during a hunting trip to Mississippi.  
1907   The Indian and Oklahoma territories are unified to make Oklahoma, which becomes the 46th state. 1913   Swann's Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust's 7-part novel Remembrance of Things Past, is published.  
1920   Metered mail is born in Stamford, Connecticut with the first Pitney Bowes postage meter.  
1945   Eighty-eight German scientists, holding Nazi secrets, arrive in the United States.  
1948   President Harry S Truman rejects four-power talks on Berlin until the blockade is removed.
1953   The United States joins in the condemnation of Israel for its raid on Jordan.
1955   The Big Four talks, taking place in Geneva on German reunification, end in failure.
1960   After the integration of two all-white schools, 2,000 whites riot in the streets of New Orleans.  
1965   In the last day of the fighting at Landing Zone X-Ray, regiments of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division repulse NVA forces in the Ia Drang Valley.  
1967   U.S. planes hit Haiphong shipyard in North Vietnam for the first time.  
1979   American Airlines is fined $500,000 for improper DC-10 maintenance.  
1982   The space shuttle Columbia completes its first operational flight.  
1989   Salvadoran Army death squad kills six Jesuit priests and two others at Jose Simeon Canas University. 1992   Eric Lawes, while using a metal detector to search for a friend's lost hammer near Hoxne, Suffolk, England, discovers the Hoxne Hoard, the largest hoard of Roman silver and gold ever found in Britain, and the largest collection of 4th and 5th century coins found anywhere within the bounds of the former Roman Empire  
1997  Pro-democracy Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng released from prison after 18 years, for health reasons. 
1798   British seamen board the U.S. frigate Baltimore and impress a number of crewmen as alleged deserters, a practice that contributed to the War of 1812. 1813   The British announce a blockade of Long Island Sound, leaving only the New England coast open to shipping. 1821   Trader William Becknell reaches Santa Fe, N.M., on the route that will become known as the Santa Fe Trail. 1846   General Zachary Taylor takes Saltillo, Mexico. 1864   Union General William T. Sherman departs Atlanta and begins his "March to the Sea." 1892   King Behanzin of Dahomey (now Benin), leads soldiers against the French. 1902   A cartoon appears in the Washington Star, prompting the Teddy Bear Craze, after President Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a captive bear tied up for him to shoot during a hunting trip to Mississippi. 1907   The Indian and Oklahoma territories are unified to make Oklahoma, which becomes the 46th state. 1913   Swann's Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust's 7-part novel Remembrance of Things Past, is published. 1920   Metered mail is born in Stamford, Connecticut with the first Pitney Bowes postage meter. 1945   Eighty-eight German scientists, holding Nazi secrets, arrive in the United States. 1948   President Harry S Truman rejects four-power talks on Berlin until the blockade is removed. 1953   The United States joins in the condemnation of Israel for its raid on Jordan. 1955   The Big Four talks, taking place in Geneva on German reunification, end in failure. 1960   After the integration of two all-white schools, 2,000 whites riot in the streets of New Orleans. 1965   In the last day of the fighting at Landing Zone X-Ray, regiments of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division repulse NVA forces in the Ia Drang Valley. 1967   U.S. planes hit Haiphong shipyard in North Vietnam for the first time. 1979   American Airlines is fined $500,000 for improper DC-10 maintenance. 1982   The space shuttle Columbia completes its first operational flight. 1989   Salvadoran Army death squad kills six Jesuit priests and two others at Jose Simeon Canas University. 1992   Eric Lawes, while using a metal detector to search for a friend's lost hammer near Hoxne, Suffolk, England, discovers the Hoxne Hoard, the largest hoard of Roman silver and gold ever found in Britain, and the largest collection of 4th and 5th century coins found anywhere within the bounds of the former Roman Empire 1997   Pro-democracy Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng released from prison after 18 years, for health reasons. - See more at: http://www.historynet.com/today-in-history/november-16#sthash.2qPJvix9.dpuf

Woman who suffers seizures every time she hears a Ne-Yo song has part of brain removed

A woman has had part of her brain removed in a bid to stop crippling brain seizures which are triggered by the sound of Ne-Yo's voice. Zoe Fennessy, 26, has an epileptic seizure within seconds of hearing his voice, making her freeze, vomit and unable to react to the world around her. She has to wear earphones whenever she goes shopping just in case the singer's tunes are played. And if she hears one of his song's she has to cover her ears and run away otherwise she has a seizure which can leave her exhausted for days. Surgeons removed part of her left frontal lobe in June in a bid to stop the affliction, but it didn't work and baffled medics reckon the mum will have the condition forever. Zoe said: "I don't dislike Ne-Yo or his music, it just dislikes me unfortunately.
"I'll be walking around the supermarket doing my food shopping and I have to put my earphones in to listen to my own music just in case it comes on. It's the same with most shops. I have to walk in with my ear phones in at first just to make sure they don't have Ne-Yo on. If he ever releases a greatest hits album it's going to be a nightmare. Whenever I hear the first few beats of the song I have to drop whatever I am doing and run. People might think it is funny - and I can laugh at it myself - but it has taken over my life. It's ruined my life." Zoe, from Retford, Nottinghamshire, had her first seizure on New Year's Day in 2006 after a long period of sickness and doctors put it down to tiredness and stress. But when her seizures increased to six a DAY her GP booked her in for a brain test and doctors diagnosed her with epilepsy in 2008. But it wasn't until she heard Ne-Yo's 'Give Me Everything' featuring Pitbull - which topped the charts in May 2011 - that she had her first music-induced seizure.
"It took me a while to realize that they were being triggered by his songs, and I think it wasn't until I had heard it for about the 15th time that it finally twigged what was going on," said Zoe, who hasn't been able to work for six months. "The song was really popular and I went to my consultant and I said 'I know this sounds extremely bizarre, but every time I hear this song I have a seizure'. He said it was fascinating and that he had never heard anything like it, and I said that while it might be fascinating, I was really struggling - the song was everywhere at the time." She was referred to Sheffield's Hallamshire hospital where doctors played her Ne-Yo songs and were amazed when they induced a seizure. Her doctors notes from the time say: "We recognized a few musicogenic seizures arising from the right temporal lobe stimulated by songs sung by Neyo." Another added: "During her admission she was listening to the radio on [her] iPhone when a specific song came on the radio that triggers her fits (Pitbull Ne-Yo - Tonight). She called for assistance at this point and she was noted to be shaking and looking rather anxious and acting a bit confused.

"The following day we deliberately played the song and exactly the same symptoms arose." The music attacks got more difficult to manage as the singer became more popular with every song he released, including top ten hits 'Let's Go' and 'Turn Around' in 2012. The 15 second seizures, which happen in her right temporal lobe, leave her 'staring blankly' and after they pass she will vomit, be very thirsty and feel extremely sleepy. In June this year Zoe endured a six-hour long operation to remove a huge chunk of her left temporal lobe where doctors thought all her seizures may originate. But while the number of fits were dramatically reduced, she still has a fit every time she hears Ne-Yo's voice. She said a recent holiday to Majorca - just after the singer released his song Play Hard with David Guetta - was a 'nightmare' with the song playing in every bar. "I have had to go up to DJs in places and say 'look can you not play Ne-Yo' and they just look at me like I'm an alien," said Zoe. "[Doctors] are saying it could possibly be something in the tone of his voice, something like that, but it doesn't happen when I hear Usher, or people like him who have a very similar sound. It is only him, only Ne-Yo. Our holiday this year to Majorca was a nightmare. Honestly it was like being at a Ne-Yo concert - the song was everywhere. I had to stay in the hotel room for most of the holiday because it got so bad."

A Kurdish Family at War

Three Generations with the Peshmerga
by Ralf Hoppe
A Kurdish Family at War: Three Generations with the Peshmerga
The Tofeq family has been at war almost constantly since the late 1950s, with grandfather Khorshid, his son Dedewan and his grandson Zyran all having become Peshmerga fighters. All three generations are now battling a new enemy: Islamic State.  More

Did you know ...

That Americans pay more for slower internet
Noam Chomsky thinks the U.S. is the leading terrorist state
That about 90% of children who died from the flu this season were not vaccinated
Here, let me fix that for you, Ken Hamm
About the Ebola vaccine, traffic congestion, and global warming
That the Michigan right-to-work act passed in violation of open meetings act
The west coast longshoremen slowdown worries major retailers in advance of the holidays
The giant rat used in union protests declared constitutional

Obama’s Move To The Left Is The Beginning Of A Nightmare For repugicans

obama moves left
President Obama statement on net neutrality and climate change agreement with China are two strong signals that the president is building a unified front with congressional Democrats that will be a nightmare for the new repugican majority.
Obama has sent repugicans two messages that go hand in hand together. The first message he delivered was at his post-election press conference. The president made it clear that he remains willing to work with repugicans but that the Boehner and McConnell are responsible for passing legislation. Obama put pressure on congress to get things done.
The president’s second message has unfolded over the past week. Obama has moved to the left, and taken very public positions on climate change and net neutrality. The president took these steps not only to boost the morale of his party, but to get the White House and congressional Democrats on the same page. The House and Senate Democratic caucuses will not only be smaller. They will also be more liberal. One of the consequences of losing elections in mostly red states is that the Democrats that remain in congress are much more liberal than the red staters who were defeated.
The shift to the left is one of the reasons why Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is looking to create a special Democratic leadership position for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). When all of these pieces are put together, they reveal a picture of Democratic Party that is
Boehner and McConnell have so far shown no desire to move to the center. In fact, repugicans have expressed shock that President Obama and the Democrats aren’t about to immediately give them everything that they want. Obama and the Democrats are setting up a nightmare scenario for Boehner and McConnell. The repugicans won’t have enough Senate votes to pass legislation without Democratic support. If Democrats form a united front, McConnell won’t be able to pass anything that Democrats don’t want.
Senate repugicans will have a choice. They can either move to the middle and enrage their base, which is unlikely or they can be stuck with a majority that is incapable of getting anything done. Harry Reid said that he was not interested in obstructing the repugicans, but he may not have to obstruct them. If Democrats stick together, repugicans won’t be able to do anything in the Senate.
The repugicans will find themselves caught between an emboldened president who is using his constitutional powers to act on his own, and Democratic Senate minority that is unified against McConnell’s agenda. The president’s actions this week are only the beginning of the Democratic strategy to keep the White House and retake the Congress in 2016.
Democrats have been revived and energized by the president’s actions, and it looks like Boehner and McConnell could have a very long two years ahead of them.

Obama Is Doing Everything Correct As McConnell Is “Disturbed” By The President’s Actions

Judging from Mitch McConnell’s reaction, President Obama is pushing the right post-election buttons. The deluded moron described himself as disturbed by the path that Obama is on.
McConnell (r-KY) warned Obama not to issue his immigration executive order, “I’ve been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election… I had maybe naively hoped the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us. I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good.”
President Obama spent the last six years of his presidency in the center waiting for Republicans to join him. They repeatedly refused to compromise. McConnell doesn’t want the president to meet him in the middle. He wants Obama to move to the right and give the congressional repugicans what they want.
McConnell’s comments are a sign that President Obama is doing the right thing for the country by not doing what the repugicans want. After a sobering Election Night, the president appears to be taking his party back and leading them into the future. Mitch McConnell isn’t only going to have deal with President Obama, but also a feisty and more liberal Democratic Senate minority.
McConnell salted the earth with his constant obstruction, so he should not be surprised at the inability to grow crops now that he is in charge of planting the seeds. The shoe is on the other foot, and Democrats aren’t going to give Mitch McConnell anything.
Obama is making all the right moves, and ever so slowly it is starting to dawn on repugicans that their control of Congress is going to be nothing like they expected. Mitch McConnell is disturbed today. If Democrats do their jobs correctly, he will be discouraged soon, and displaced in 2016.

Teabagger cabal attacks Net Neutrality: Treating all websites the same isn’t fair

by Eric W. Dolan
FreedomWorks communications director Iris Somberg (Screenshot/YouTube)
The teabagger cabal FreedomWorks released a video denouncing Net Neutrality on Wednesday, just days after President Barack Obama announced strong support for regulations to require Internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.
“Supporters of the plan call it a free and open Internet, but in reality, it is anything but,” FreedomWorks communications coordinator Iris Somberg said in the video.
Somberg explained that Net Neutrality regulations would prohibit Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to any website or online service.
“The same speed, the same prices, the same access, but all web content isn’t equal. Netflix is not the same as a high school blog, and YouTube certainly isn’t the same as Facebook. They serve very different purposes and they have very different needs.”
“By dictating that all these sites be treated the same, Net Neutrality makes small companies that don’t take up much bandwidth at all pay more so that big companies can pay less,” she said. “That’s not the kind of equality the Internet needs.”
“Net neutrality is not a level playing field. It’s an anti-competitive policy that protects the Internet’s biggest companies at the expense of everyone else.”
The repugicans in Congress have also strongly denounced Net Neutrality, even though the policy is highly popular among both repugican and Democratic voters.
Watch video: (Oh, and try not to laugh out loud ... it will be difficult given the hilarity of the video, but try)

First Order Of The 2015 Wingnut Majority Is The TPP

Like a snake in a woodpile, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) lies dangerously in wait to be fast-tracked to International Big Boy land where giant foreign and domestic money interests will control every aspect of U.S. trade dealings with the 11 other member countries of TPP.
In addition to the United States, in alphabetical order, the remaining membership is made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chili, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Area superpower, China is absent from the TPP roster of nations.
Brunei is an interesting little territory. Admit it, you know nothing about Brunei. “TPP Capitols for $100, Alex!” Jeopardy host, Trebek flips through his index cards. “OK, what is the capital of Brunei?” You immediately shed 140 points off your 150 IQ. Months later, you’re still standing there with a blank expression on your face, thumb frozen over the buzzer. For the record, it’s Bandar Seri Begawan. The cities centerpiece, nestled in a lagoon, is the breathtaking Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Masjid (the Arabic term for Mosque) with a dome covered in pure gold.
You remember how repugicans hate muslims, right? They want to blow them off the face of the earth. Not a day goes by, but one of theirwingnut warmongers doesn’t rip into Obama for not sending every last hunk of our military iron and troops over to the middle east and taking care of those terrorists once and for all.
sultan omarBrunei is 80% muslim. Its government is the Malay islamic Monarchy. According to the CIA World Fact Book, their legal system is a mix of English Common Law and islamic law. The first sharia-based penal codes were applied to both muslims and non-muslims earlier this year. Oh, and there are no elections. But we love this country chock-full of muslims with the same fervor as a fellow Rotarian, all that muslim stuff notwithstanding. That’s because Brunei is loaded. Oil and gas abound, as does money.
Another TPP member, Malaysia, features a muslim population of 61% with nary a christian of any stripe to be found anywhere. But Malaysian muslims are OK as potential TPP money machines as well (see above.). And let’s not forget trading partner and home to some of the biggest U.S. companies, Vietnam. About 40-50 years ago, The Viet Cong to the South and the Northern Vietnamese Army were busy blasting 57,000 young Americans into oblivion, but there’s nothing like the almighty dollar to forgive and forget. But absent a similar inter-country deal from our nations “Yankees”, Southerners still harbor undisguised resentment dating back to a conflict that’s 150 years old.
Make no mistake, the new found love for muslims, notwithstanding, the real player besides the U.S. in TPP is Japan. The Americans need an economically powerful Asian counter-balance to at least equalize Chinese efforts to emerge as the top trading dog in the near future. But here is where it gets puzzling. China, on the heels of a recent summit, attended by both Obama and Putin, is continuing to work up a trade pact called the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). This agreement has the same purpose as TPP; warding off an economic enemy, but, in this case, the U.S. would be a member of both TPP AND APEC. So the world’s top two economic powers are at cross purposes at the same time they sit across from each other, about to make a handful of individuals rich beyond comprehension. Russia is also an APEC player, and, get this, every member of TPP, including Japan also claims membership. There are 21 APEC nations. How fast APEC progresses is anybody’s guess. It’s been around since 1989 as a forum and moves are currently being made to declare its official status as a trade agreement a ‘fait accompli’ in the very near future.
China also recently inked a trade agreement with South Korea, as with China prominent in its absence from TPP, another country oddly missing from TPP.
For all the Congressional harangue about not knowing the contents of TPP, the right people in both parties know the agreement verbatim. No leadership of either the repugican cabal or Democratic Party is going to push for fast-tracking a secret pig in the poke trade deal. Come the new session, this thing will pass legislative muster with the speed of a bullet train, given that Utah repugican, Orrin Hatch will most likely ascend to the Chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee and Orrin adores TPP.
The repugicans will follow his lead. Ironic, given all the power over U.S. intellectual property, copyright issues and digital that TPP could possibly control. Ironic, given repugican knee-jerk opposition to any and all UN initiatives that could affect America’s internal affairs even to the slightest degree of control. Ironic, that during the Congressional run-up to the last election, I don’t recall TPP being even in the top five of candidate’s major issue concerns.
There’s another agreement called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Revealed in last year’s State of the Union speech, this trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union might actually be beneficial for workers and, yes, even union members. The AFL-CIO has given TTIP its cautious imprimatur based on the relatively high economic standing of the participants, the fact that EU countries seem to care about the welfare of their people and the union-friendly environment of most EU member countries. There is also substantial worker input into the operation of their employer’s company. There are worker councils and generally, a worker seat on the Board of Directors. That seat is mandated in Germany if over 500 are employed. So the scoreboard reads: U.S. worker participation in the operation of their company; virtually zero; EU worker participation, substantial and meaningful. What’s not to like?
Let’s take a brief look at the trade agreement by which most U.S. trade pacts are judged; NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. No matter what the Clintons or repugicans told you in 1994, NAFTA was simply economic permission to crush U.S. tariffs, so huge companies could produce products overseas for embarrassingly low wages and then import the pieces back into the U.S. either whole or for assembly, without paying previously-imposed tariffs. Wages and environmental regulations were laughable, though many companies have now fled Mexico in favor of even lower wages and virtually no pollution standards in third-world countries.
The NAFTA trade deficit has exploded and the estimated U.S. job loss numbers are in the one million range. A $2.9 billion surplus with Mexico in ’93 turned into a combined (Mexico and Canada) trade deficit of $181 billion in 2012. In rare bipartisan agreement, polls show that Americans would like to either revisit NAFTA or trash the trade pact altogether. U.S. job creation from NAFTA is virtually nil.
And have you heard about China’s other pet trade project, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP)? Enough letters for one submission. We’ll save RECP for another day.
Trade pacts. Approach with extreme caution!

Yes, the repugican Obamacare Strategy Will Kill People

by Jonathan Chait
There is a famous thought experiment called the trolley problem, and it goes like this: A runaway trolley is headed toward five people bound on the tracks. You are standing before the switch that could divert it onto another track, where it would kill only one person. Do you pull the switch?The problem is a way of grappling with the moral responsibility of actively killing a person for some larger end, a problem that lurks behind much of the role of the state, from policing to Harry Truman dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. The trolley problem is the most flattering possible way to think about the wingnut movement’s fanatical commitment to repealing Obamacare. That is, if you ignore the obvious elements of partisan spite, callousness, and self-deception, one can posit a commitment to abstract moral principles about the role of the state. Wingnuts’ abstract principles, like most people’s, can come attached to specific costs. If they pull the switch and repeal Obamacare, or if they persuade five repugican Supreme Court sycophants to cripple it, they will spare America from the evils of mandates, taxes, regulation, and what they imagine to be European socialist horrors. They will also kill what are now identifiable human beings.
One of those human beings is David Tedrow, who, in a harrowing first-person account published in the Washington Post, writes of his fight with non-alcoholic cirrhosis, crediting Obamacare with saving his life. “Without insurance and the subsidy I would simply die,” writes Tedrow, “because I could not afford my drugs and my body would reject my liver.”
Last night I linked to the story on Twitter, writing, “The repugican cabal is trying to kill this man.” The description was slightly hyperbolic in the sense that killing Tedrow is not the repugican cabal’s goal — they would be perfectly happy if, after they have repealed Obamacare, a generous philanthropist stepped in to save Tedrow’s life — but rather the direct and inescapable result of their behavior. He is collateral damage in the service of a larger goal, like the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the imaginary stranger on the railroad track.
My tweet set off a backlash so furious it was catalogued by Twitchy, which is the inadvertently apt name for a wingnut aggregator of reflexively hostile Twitter reactions. The fascinating thing about the response was its uniform, fervent denial of the possibility that crippling or repealing Obamacare would have the effect Tedrow describes. It is true that Tedrow’s previous insurance was canceled in the fall of 2013, when new regulations phased out many previous plans. But it is also true, as he explains, that his previous insurance was unaffordable, and that pre-Obamacare insurance plans were routinely canceled. The individual insurance market before 2014 was dominated by adverse selection, which is an incentive for insurance companies to shed expensive customers.
The fundamental problem is that, for millions of Americans, the cost of medical care exceeds what they can afford, either because their incomes are low or because their medical expenses are high, or both. Government can give them affordable insurance by spending money directly, though this violates the conservative commitment to never raising taxes for any purpose. Government can also make insurance available to sick people by preventing insurance companies from charging market prices to sick customers, though these regulations, which result in higher prices for young and healthy customers, also turn out to offend conservatives. This is why the repugican health care program expressed through a series of repeal votes, budgetary frameworks, and innovative legal challenges, all involve restoring the pre-Obamacare status quo.
What makes the wingnut denial of Tedrow’s story so bizarre is how utterly banal the story is. You can find plenty of examples of people who, if not for Obamacare, would not be able to afford necessary medical care. Such stories feature heavily in Jonathan Cohn’s masterful book about the health care system. One can also see this demonstrated in the aggregate in Massachusetts, where a state-level version of Obamacare produced a drop in the mortality rate.
That it is dangerous and potentially fatal to lack health insurance is hardly an exotic or complex theory. People generally understand this.
The fact that repealing Obamacare will kill some people does not settle the question of whether Obamacare is better than some imaginary alternative repugican health-care plan, or even whether it is better than the pre-reform status quo. Winguts are within their rights to prefer freedom from taxes and regulation even at the cost of David Tedrow’s well being. But any morally serious position has to account for the brutal realities embedded in this trade-off. Truman’s war strategy involved killing a lot of Japanese civilians. The repugican health-care strategy is to flip a switch whose immediate effect will be to impoverish and kill a lot of people. Is there a single wingnut who will admit this?

A Week After Re-Electing Brownback, Kansans Find Out He Screwed Them Over Financially A Whole Lot More

by Stephen D Foster Jr 
One week after re-electing Sam Brownback as their governor, Kansans are finding out the hard way just how bad of a decision they made.
Despite the fact that Brownback destroyed Kansas financially, the people chose him over Democrat Paul Davis anyway, and now the price of their wrecklessness at the polls couldn’t be more clear.
Earlier this year, Brownback and his fellow repugicans gave a huge financial windfall of $1 billion to the wealthy in the form of massive income tax cuts that economic experts predicted would cripple the state budget. The budget deficit was estimated to be $238 million by 2016. The experts were not only correct, it turns out the situation is even worse than predicted.
Just days prior to the election, a report revealed that Kansas suffered a shortfall of $23 million, a 15 percent drop below the projected amount of revenue the state would bring in. The report was a signal of worse news to come, and now that news has arrived. And let’s just say that Kansans are probably hanging their heads in shame for rewarding the man who caused the problem in the first place.
According to the Kansas City Star, Kansas is now on track to collect $1 billion less this year and next year than previously thought. In addition, according to Talking Points Memo:
The estimates also said the state will use up $380 million in reserves and still have to cut another $280 million for fiscal year 2015 to balance the state’s current budget. In addition, in 2016, revenues are expected to be $436 million short of expenditures according to the forecast.
Translation: Governor Sam Brownback totally screwed over his constituents and they re-elected him anyway. The financial news is really bad and just keeps getting worse, but it’s too late. All voters can do regret their decision and sit back and watch the devastation unfold because of the massive tax cuts the repugican cabal gave to their wealthy overlords. That means less tax revenue for education, healthcare, infrastructure, food assistance, etc… So when Kansans begin to personally feel the effects of what “fiscally responsible” wingnuts did to their state, they have no right to complain because they had a chance to fix this mess and they chose to double down on the stupidity. In other words, they only have themselves to blame.

False Robocalls That Wreaked Havoc On Chicago Elections Linked To repugican cabal Agitators

by Kira Lerner
Chicago election judges received misleading and factually incorrect robocalls before the midterm, causing close to 2,000 of them to not show up on Election Day. As a criminal investigation gets underway, the Chicago Sun-Times has tied the calls to two Republican activists while the repugican cabal has denied involvement and distanced itself from the party members who it claims acted alone.
An unknown number of election judges received one or more automated phone calls that informed them about an additional required training session or told them they needed to vote a certain way in order to keep their position. As a result, polling places across the city were understaffed and lines reached seven hours in some precincts. A smaller number of voters were turned away from certain locations.
Voters were still lined up to vote at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, November 5 at a Chicago polling place that allowed same-day registration. The city was forced to dispatch standby election judges when some polling places had just one or no election judges present at 6 a.m. when polls were scheduled to open. At the time, the Chicago Board of Elections said it didn’t know who made the calls or why they were sent out. The Cook County State’s Attorney has launched a criminal investigation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for hearings on the robocalls.
“There’s nothing more important than the integrity of the democratic electoral process,” Emanuel said when he and the City Council passed a resolution calling for hearings. “Somebody called with the intent to create confusion.”
While the city hasn’t revealed any additional information, the Sun Times reported that one of the callers identified himself as Jim Parrilli, a repugican committeeman for the 19th Ward who was defeated in his run for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. In one call, he identified himself as the Cook County Election Judge Coordinator and told the election judges that voting is required and “part of being a repugican judge means supporting our repugican ticket.”
Another call was made by Sharon Maroni, coordinator for the Chicago election judge program. Sources told the Sun-Times that Parrilli and Maroni were working together, but neither have been accused of any wrongdoing.
Cook County repugican chairwimp Aaron Del Mar told the Sun-Times the cabal was not involved in the robocalls or the fraudulent activities. “Anything they did, they acted alone,” he said.
The state’s attorney’s office said that an investigation is ongoing, but declined to comment on any details. Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen also said he is not commenting on the pending investigation.
Two election judges also told CBS Chicago that they were removed from their positions as committeemen with the repugican cabal because they questioned the validity of the phone calls and whether election judges should be pressured to vote for a particular party.
Other issues including confusion over a new state program allowing same day registration at some polling places also contributed to the long lines that drove voters away. Lower turnout in Chicago favored repugican governor Bruce Rauner, who ended the night with a nearly five-point lead over incumbent Governor Pat Quinn.

Mentally Disturbed Open Carry Agitator Tells Moms Demand Action To “Put A Dick In Your Mouth”

Photo from FacebookIn a video posted to his YouTube page earlier this week, a male open carry nut-job went on a profanity-laced tirade against the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action regarding their efforts to convince supermarket chain Kroger to ban customers from openly carrying firearms in their stores. Robert J. Kinnison, who posts as Raging Rob on YouTube, told the group to “shut the fuck up” and to “put a dick in your mouth,’ among other expletive-filled demands of the group. He also told Moms Demand Action that he would film himself walking in and around a local Kroger with his gun in full view, which he posted on Thursday.
Liberaland posted a censored version of Kinnison’s rant on their site on Thursday.:
Kinnison’s video showing himself going into Fry’s, which is an affiliate of Kroger. The video is of poor quality and there is some profanity throughout. Also, while he is technically open carrying his handgun, he has it tucked in his front pocket with his shirt covering it most of the time.
Open carry agitators may hate to be lumped in with guys like Raging Rob, but this is the face of their so-called movement. While they would like to make others believe that this is all about protecting their rights and that they aren’t just a bunch of hate-filled white males who fetishize guns and have a disdain for women and blacks, it is hard to make that case when you have someone publicly ranting against Moms Demand Action like Kinnison.
Checking out Kinnison’s Twitter account (he has over 27,000 followers), you’ll notice a very disturbing trend. Apparently, besides being a violent misogynist, Kinnison is also a white supremacist. Raging Rob has retweeted a number of disgustingly racist and homophobic tweets from neo-nazis and white nationalists.
Kinnison has also started a new pro-gun Facebook group with an extremely offensive title that I won’t even reprint here. The thing is, men like Kinnison make up a large contingent of the open carry ‘movement.’ Basically, more and more of the NRA’s enrollment and those involved in Second Amendment advocacy groups are white nationalists and militia and patriot group members. While they tout the need for more ‘good guys with guns,’ it seems like their memberships are filled with a number of dangerous and unbalanced individuals who want to have unfettered access to firearms.
Which, of course, may explain why the NRA and ‘gun rights’ cabals oppose universal background checks despite the overwhelming number of voters, including NRA members, supporting the measure. They need to protect a sizable customer base for gun manufacturers. Also, there is likely a feeling of sympathy for the disturbed white ammosexual who feels that his stockpile of guns and ammo is all that protects him from the oncoming race war being perpetrated by President Obama.
As far as Kroger goes, it seems like the writing might be on the wall for those who feel the need to walk around the store with an assault rifle while shopping for Oreos. A poll commissioned by Moms Demand Action in late October shows that 64% of Kroger shoppers feel that other customers should not be allowed to openly carry their guns in the store. Furthermore, 83% of customers feel that Kroger has the right to enact a ban on open carry in their stores. The advocacy group provided a petition and the results of the poll to Kroger investors during a protest in late October.

If Only Santa Anna Had Been a Better General, Texas Would not be OUR Problem

Just think of it: Rick Perry and Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert would all be Mexico's problem today if Santa Anna had won…
Huzza for Texas! Huzza for Liberty, and the rights of man!…Let Texas stand firm and be true to herself and we will have nothing to fear.” – Lt. Col. William Barret Travis, 1835
A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty. They do not know what it is, unenlightened as they are, and under the influence of a catholic clergy, a despotism is the proper government for them.” – Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, 1836
SantaAnna-LargeHistorical what-ifs are always popular. Have you ever thought about what might have happened if the hero of the revolution against Spain, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, had captured the Alamo in 1836 without destroying his chances of reconquering rebellious Texas? If Texas had stayed part of Mexico, perhaps under Stephen Austin’s original conception of a Mexican state?
Think about an America in which Texas is part of Mexico. Then ask yourself if, by losing, Santa Anna hurt Mexico more? Or was the true harm done to America? Given the state of repugican cabal ideology today – I’m thinking about the politics of  Rick Perry, and those of Greg Abbott, fresh from his theft from the better candidate, Wendy Davis, not to mention that recent immigrant, Allen West, who found Floridians to be too smart for him. I’m thinking about Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert, both at least as insane as Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann or Alaska’s Sarah Palin.
I’m thinking not only about depths of corruption that would do any Santa Anna-style despotism proud, but about bottom-dollar jobs and people dying from want of healthcare. I’m thinking about hatred and religion and guns.
With apologies to our fellow liberals in Texas, It does not seem all that unreasonable to suggest now that Santa Anna would have done us all a favor by being a better general.
Here is another what-if: what might have been the course of Texas history if he had failed to take the Alamo, and James Bowie, William Barret Travis, and David Crockett, had lived? These three men were movers and shakers in Texas. The first two based on what they had already accomplished there, and the latter based on what he had accomplished in Congress for the people of Tennessee. Both Bowie and Crockett were larger-than-life figures, living legends on the frontier.
WBTravisWe hear a lot about Sam Houston (he defeated Santa Anna and had a city named after him, after all), but how much would we have heard of him had these three lived to spread their own shadows over the land? Would the city of Houston today be the city of Travis, or Bowie? Or even Crockett? And what kind of state would it be?
To Santa Anna these Anglos might have been nothing more than pirates trying to steal parts of Mexico, but Travis, whom historian James Donavan calls a “firebrand,” the most extreme type of revolutionary, was a lawyer, a good friend of Governor Henry Smith, and a member of the War Party that favored independence. He was also intelligent, personally brave, a gifted orator, and “no man in Texas could claim more credit for the present uprising.” And he was only 26 in the year he died. He had a long and influential future in Texas politics ahead of him.
We can no more know what sort of movie Ron Howard would have made about the Alamo, had Disney not refused the movie he wanted to make, than what sort of world we would have inherited had Santa Anna been the “Napoleon of the West” in more than his own imagination. We do know what sort of movie was made instead, and it has served as a corrective to some earlier, mistaken notions about Texas history.
That film, John Lee Hancock’s, The Alamo (2004), has Travis tell the beleaguered garrison of the Alamo,
Texas has been a second chance for me. I expect that might be true for many of you as well. It has been a chance not only for land and riches, but also to be a different man. I hope a better one. There have been many ideas brought for in the past few months of what Texas is, and what it should become. We are not all in agreement. But I’d like to ask each of you what it is you value so highly that you are willing to fight and possibly die for. We will call that Texas.
Contrary to John Wayne, who, in his 1960 film, for some reason humanized Santa Anna and the Mexicans under his command without recognizing the Mexicans standing against him, the Alamo’s approximately 200 defenders included at least a dozen Tejanos.
John Wayne presented the Alamo as a struggle between right and wrong, and not as a struggle between Anglos and Mexicans; it just so happened in his Mexican-free Alamo that the guys who were right, were Anglos, and the guys who were wrong, were Mexicans.
The freedom won in the ensuing war was a victory for those opposed to Santa Anna’s tyranny. But in a very real sense it was also a victory of Anglos over Mexicans because Travis’ War Party won out over Austin’s Peace Party, which had favored Mexican statehood. John Lee Hancock put the Mexicans back inside the Alamo, but a film cannot change history, only correct it.
Texas became a slave state, which it would not have, had Santa Anna won, because slavery was illegal under Mexican law (though its peonage system was not much of an improvement). And after that, Texas joined the Confederacy in rebellion against the lawful government of the United States.
As reported here, K.C. Massey, who the SPLC characterizes as an anti-immigrant nativist extremist, “a member of a militia that ‘patrols’ the Texas border, met with and posed for photos with Texas repugican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbot just four days before his arrest on illegal weapons charges.” Massey tells the SPLC he is innocent, but then, Rick Perry and Greg Abbott also claim they are innocent. None of their arguments are convincing.
They would all be Mexico’s problem today if Santa Anna had won.
Racists gathered in Rockwall, Texas, last weekend, to protest immigration and to celebrate the swastika and no doubt they had a good time with their kooky ideas about history, just has had Rick Perry and that enemy of an educated populace, David Barton.
They would also be Mexico’s problem. Or perhaps, a happier thought here, that of the cartels.
Walter Hill’s film Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) has Al Sieber, chief of scouts (played by Robert Duvall) mutter, “I don’t see how any man can sink so low. Must be Texans… the lowest form of white man there is.”
It is difficult, again with apology to our liberal Texas friends, not to sympathize.
After all, the first Anglos in Texas were themselves immigrants, many of them illegal immigrants at that, present in sovereign Mexican territory without permission and settling down on whatever land pleased them.
Granted, the men in the Alamo were fighting for many different things, some for independence, some for the 1824 Constitution, some for their homes and their families. But what the Alamo has become is a symbol of racism that completely discounts the historical realities.
Sadly, racism, like corruption, has become a staple of Texas politics. It may have become so even if Santa Anna had retained Texas, but it must be remembered that the first Anglo settlers were actually welcomed by the Mexican government, which couldn’t get anybody else to move there.
The Anglos only become unwelcome when they tried to take Texas away from Mexico. So far, no immigrants have tried to take Texas away from the United States. On the contrary, they want to be part of the United States, just as the first Anglos in Texas wanted to be part of Mexico.
Ironically, the word “Texas” is an Indian word. And it means “friend.” You would not know that by the actions of the Texas repugican cabal.

The Fracking War

Fracking Industry Damaged by Saudi Arabia Oil Pricing
The U.S. oil industry has taken a beating from the recent drop in oil prices, which have plunged more than 25% since the summer.
Oil and oil service stocks across the board have been bruised… but none more so than those related to the fracking industry.
You see, fracking is an expensive process compared to conventional oil extraction techniques – a situation that became grave three weeks ago, when Saudi Arabia decided to try to run U.S. oil out of business by dropping the price of its crude oil.

Now, it looks like fracking may be the first casualty in this worldwide oil war.

90 Pounds Of Cocaine Found On Cargo Ship Owned By Anti-Drug Senator’s Family

by John Vibes
A cargo ship connected to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell was recently stopped and searched before departing from Colombia. During the search, Colombian Coast Guard agents seized roughly 90 pounds of cocaine.
mconnell cocaineThe drugs were found on the Ping May, which is a vessel operated by the Foremost Maritime Corporation, a company owned by Mitch McConnell’s in-laws, the Chao family. This connection is not only relevant because of the family connection, but also because the Chao family has often made large donations to McConnell’s campaigns.
In fact, the Chao family has been funding McConnell since the late 1980s. Years later, in 1993, McConnell married Elaine Chao and secured the Chao family as one of his primary sources for investments.
A gift worth somewhere between 5 and 25 million dollars from the Chao Family made McConnel one of the richest senators in the country in 2008.
The Foremost Maritime Corporation is currently operating 16 dry bulk cargo ships, most of which are currently still in service.
What makes this case even more interesting is that McConnell is well known as a staunch prohibitionist. In 1996, McConnell sponsored “The Enhanced Marijuana Penalties Act”, a bill designed to increase the mandatory minimum sentencing for people caught with marijuana.
Luis Gonzales, an official with the Colombian Coast Guard in Santa Marta told The Nation that the Ping May’s crew were questioned as part of the investigation, but that they have yet to file any charges in the case.
The war on drugs is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. There are mountains of evidence proving that the biggest importers of harmful, addictive, mind diminishing street drugs is the government. The drug laws that exist do not apply to the government agencies that bring these substances to our country. They are only designed to keep everyone else from this extremely lucrative business and give the establishment another reason to oppress people.
We have seen this all before during alcohol prohibition, where the government, law enforcement and organized crime were all working together and making an unbelievable amount of money in the black market. When black markets are created the crime rate goes up, taxes go up, prices go up and the police become more corrupt, all of this is inevitable. These are in fact the very consequences that any type of prohibition intends to create.
To solve these problems all that we have to do is end all prohibitions, this would cripple the black market and drastically reduce violence. This would also drastically reduce the reach of police and the state in general, which is why it is looked at as such an impossibility. Drug laws don’t do anything to prevent drug problems in our society, they only encourage violence, raise prices and criminalize half of the population.

What Kim Kardashian Going Full Frontal Means for the Magazine Industry

by Lauren Tuck 
What Kim Kardashian Going Full Frontal Means for the Magazine Industry
The print magazine industry is dying. Over the past decade, publications around the world have been forced to literally stop the presses. Readers have switched over to more accessible, instantaneous, and cheaper mediums over monthly bibles that seem out of date by the time they hit newsstands. But the periodicals left — and they are few and far between — now duke it out month after month to stay relevant and sell copies. So that’s why Paper magazine’s latest stunt featuring Kim Kardashian’s bare butt isn’t all that surprising.
The reality star has 25 million Twitter followers and almost as many on Instagram. Just one of her selfies has more reach than most mags can hope for in one issue. Paper tag-lined their Winter issue “Break the Internet” and while this certainly didn’t come true, with just 140 characters from Kardashian, Paper is now an entity that everyone knows about. The publication releases eight editions each year, has a paid circulation of 125,000 subscribers. Based in New York City, it was founded in 1984 and is read by a very niche crowd, with its editorials focusing on fashion and pop culture. The website, papermag.com, brings 1.3 million unique visitors per month. Yet a shock-factor photo shoot featuring the reality star has generated hundreds of thousands of tweets, online coverage, and even talked about on morning television shows. A magazine is relevant again because the Internet is talking about it — how ironic is that?
Vogue, which has never had a problem being the talk of the town — just look to the Devil Wears Prada for proof — even called on Kardashian to front an issue. Posing with her now-husband, Kanye West, in wedding dresses, the cover spawned the hashtag #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple. The fashion bible, which notoriously shunned featuring celebrities on their covers until celebrity culture really exploded in the early 2000s, didn’t necessarily sell record-breaking numbers, but the hashtag campaign is still referenced in connection with the power couple to this day.
But the Paper cover doesn’t so much leverage Kardashian’s massive influence as it does shock and awe. While Vogue certainly used their exclusive access to the First Family of Fashion to generate conversation, Paper’s approach is much more explicit. The bare butt image only grazed the surface of what was in store — the centerfold reveals that and so much more. (You can view the NSFW images here.) Wearing (kind of) a customized dress and accessorized with vintage gloves, and MIKIMOTO necklaces and earrings, she undresses and lets everything (and I mean everything, full frontal included) all hang out.
Magazines have never shied away from gratuitous nudity. Jennifer Aniston, Beyoncé, Zoe Saldana, and even pregnant Demi Moore have taken it all off, granted with creative placement covering up important parts. Famed photographer Helmut Newton was shooting nudity for fashion magazines for years, stirring lots of controversy in his day, along with Guy Bourdin who would shoot naked women for the cover of French Vogue and provocative ad campaigns starting in the ’70s.
While those shoots went the semi-tasteful route, Paper has completely dropped any illusion as to what could be hiding underneath. These clever props — ties, hands, type — almost distinguished their mass market images from pornography. But Paper has blurred the line between fashion magazine and Playboy. Seemingly, what keeps this shoot from being looped in with X-rated publications is the art and high-profile photographer that produced the images. Jean-Paul Goude, who came to fame for shooting his muse Grace Jones and even has work featured in museums around the world, is representing Kardashian as an icon and perpetuating a message. 
The bigger questions is why Kim Kardashian? She’s notoriously famous for nothing and yet when appears fully nude it causes mass hysteria. Just last year, Playboy featured Kate Moss, shot by famous fashion and art photographers Mert and Marcus and instead of inciting a frenzy, the edition became a collector’s item. Additionally Lui, a soft core porn magazine, had Rihanna and Gisele Bündchen on covers recently. They’re arguably just as, or even more, well known that Kardashian so didn’t they “break the internet.” It’s not like anyone is shocked to see her naked.   
The current state of affairs in the magazine publishing industry means that publications have to resort to hi-jinx in order to sell copies. Brand recognition is the new currency and sales are seemingly irrelevant. It remains to be seen if sex will sell this issue of Paper, especially considering most of the images have already been released for the world to see on the Internet, but if the conversations generated and social media chatter that has come about since the photo shoot’s release is any indication, the magazine won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

People Are Calling The Police To Get Out of the World's Biggest Corn Maze

CBS Sacramento are reporting that people trying to complete a 63-acre corn maze in California are getting so lost that they're having to call the police to get out. The maze was awarded the title of "world's largest corn maze" by the Guinness Book of World Records back in 2007 and, according to its website, is 50% larger than the previous record holder. According to visitors, once you enter it takes roughly 3.5 to 4 hours to get back out. "There's a concern; there’s a bit of fear involved," said Deputy Daryl Snedeker from the Solano County Sheriff’s Dept. "I think they are overwhelmed. You can get a little worked up when you can’t get out of a place and everything looks the same. But some people who get turned around panic and dial 911 for help […] We don't laugh… It's not a comedy to us, and our dispatchers have a very serious job, and they take every call to 911 very serious."

Dyslexic Typeface

Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability. But help may be on the way, in the form of an entirely new typeface dreamed up by a Dutch designer who suffers from the disease himself.

Solar-Powered, Glow In The Dark Bicycle Path Opens In The Netherlands

The world's first solar-powered, glow in the dark bicycle path opened yesterday in the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path was designed by artist Daan Roosegaarde.
The bicycle path is illuminated by thousands of twinkling stones and was inspired by Vincent van Gogh's world-famous painting, Starry Night. The cycle path forms part of the Van Gogh cycle route that connects the Vincent van Gogh heritage locations in the province of Brabant, Vincent's homeland.

The Dreadful Inconvenience of Salad

Hardly any of us get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet, but I can tell you from experience that making salad is expensive, time-consuming, and more complicated than a typical lunch. It’s not exactly fast food. Yes, you can get a salad at many fast food outlets, but have you seen the prices? A startup founded by Luke Saunders called the Farmer’s Fridge  aims to change all that, by offering salad from vending machines, for as low as a dollar in selected low-income areas.
Most of Saunders’s machines are installed at private office buildings, food courts, and convenience stores, where the salads cost upwards of $7. Eventually, he wants to drive down the price to the point where anyone can afford them.

The Farmer’s Fridge machine at the East Garfield Community Center is his initial attempt to bring healthy food to a low-income area. The buck is a nominal fee—the salads are actually day-old donations that didn’t sell at the corporate locations. (All of the salads are perfectly good for up to three days.)
It sounds like a good idea, although you can see where the economics could be the project’s undoing. I would imagine there would be a great many salads not sold for $7, leading to plenty of $1 salads, but how could you sustain the project with such massive markdowns? The question in the article at The Atlantic is: would people each healthier food if it were more convenient? There are some who will never eat fresh vegetables no matter how cheap and convenient they are. And although my family will eat salad, it has to be custom made or offered salad bar-style, as everyone hates some ingredient that the others love.

9 astonishing deaths reported in Victorian newspapers

The British Newspaper Archive is a treasure trove of forgotten history. Here, Jeremy Clay, author of The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton, unearths a series of extraordinary deaths from the Victorian press…
Man visited by an apparition on his death bed (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The corpse that stood up and danced
Marion Hillitz’s dancing days were behind her. So too, alas, were her breathing ones. At least, that’s what the doctors believed.
On a Saturday night in June 1878, in the Virginian hospital where she’d stayed for several months in the care of nuns, Mrs Hillitz died.
She was a popular patient; wealthy too. But all that could have been done for her, had been done. And so, according to the customs of Richmond’s Hospital of the Little Sisters of the Poor, she was wrapped in a shroud, and laid out in the parlor.
The good sisters, who had watched faithfully by the bedside, were gathered mournfully by her body when the clock struck midnight.
Suddenly, her sunken eyes seemed to flash, and the blood rushed to her wan cheeks. “As though imbued with superhuman energy,” reported the Edinburgh Evening News, “the dead body rose up from its resting place, which was draped with a black pall, emblematic of mourning, and spoke to the affrighted watchers, saying, ‘I am not dead yet, but I will die soon’.”
Cue consternation. Mrs Hillitz then reportedly danced around the room, singing and shouting as the thunderstruck nurses stared in disbelief.
“As soon as the nurses recovered from their fright, they placed the old lady in bed, where she lingered until about nine o’clock, when she again apparently died,” said the Evening News.
“The affair has created the most intense excitement, and thousands of persons visited the hospital.”
An actor stabbed to death during a play
It was the performance of a lifetime: a stage death that oozed realism. The crowd applauded, the curtain came down, the theater cleared.
But as they drifted away from London’s Novelty Theater that August night in 1896, the audience wasn’t aware just how realistic the final act had actually been.
“The exigencies of the play demanded that the chief villain should be stabbed,” reported The Yorkshire Evening Post, “and this operation was so realistically carried out that the instrument employed – unhappily an actual dagger of particularly sharp quality – penetrated the breast of the unfortunate gentleman.”
The unfortunate gentleman was Temple E Crozier. His killer was his friend, a fellow member of the cast of Sins of the Night. “I did it,” Wilfred Franks told the police. “It was an accident. It is a terrible thing.”
The play was a sensational melodrama of greed, murder and revenge. Crozier played the part of Ramez, a dastardly Spaniard who seduced and killed Abimahad, the sister of Franks’ character Pablo. In the final act, the plot called for Pablo to drive a knife into Ramez, exclaiming “now my sister is avenged”.
Everything had been going just fine until that moment. Alive to the risks of wielding a blade, Franks had calculated exactly where he needed to stand for his dramatic lunge to be believable but safe, and hadn’t budged in the scene. But Crozier leaned in. Maybe that wouldn’t have mattered too much if Franks had used a harmless stage knife from the theater's props department. Unfortunately he used his own – a sharp and slender stiletto with a jeweled handle.
The actor stumbled, turned twice from the blow and fell on his back with the dagger sticking in his chest.  “Don’t worry, I’m alright,” Crozier told his unwitting killer.
Three surgeons were speedily on the scene, but to no avail. “Deceased moaned and expired,” concluded the Evening Post.
A man choked by a billiard ball
As stunts go, it left a little to be desired. But it was Walter Cowle’s party piece, and he was going to stick to it.
The 24-year-old was in the pub with his pals in November 1893, when talk turned to the tricks they could perform.
Eager to show off, Walter asked the landlord of the Carlisle Arms in Soho for a billiard ball, then placed it in his mouth with a flourish, and closed his mouth.
“He evinced signs of choking,” reported the Grantham Journal. “His back was slapped and his head held down, in the hope that the ball would fall forward and out of his mouth. It did not, however and Cowle was at once conveyed to Middlesex Hospital, where he was found to be dead.
“It was only when the post-mortem examination was made by Dr Sidney Bulke, resident surgeon, that the ball could be extracted.”
His friend told the inquest he’d seen him do the trick dozens of times before, without any mishap. The coroner, rather superfluously, pointed out that sticking a billiard ball in your mouth to impress your mates was “silly and dangerous.”
Animal revenge
In Jaws the Revenge, a Great White Shark hunts down the family of the man who killed its relative. Preposterous, you may think, and pretty much everyone who saw it would agree with you. But the plot, ludicrous as it may be, is not entirely without parallel in the animal world.
In 1894, a stablehand in the Welsh village of Dyserth, near Rhyl, came to an unpleasant end when he was kicked to death by a horse.
His employer, said The Citizen, “at once got rid of the brute”. Not just that, but as a display of goodwill, he hired the son of the dead man as a groom.
“News has come to hand that the son has himself been kicked to death by the foal of the mare that kicked his father to death,” reported the paper in March the following year.
The condemned man who bought more time
Robert Blanks didn’t have long, the court had seen to that. It may have been little more than a legal lynching, but the verdict stood. Blanks would hang.
It was a spring day in 1899 when he was led to the gallows in Maysville, Kentucky. But before he drew his final breath, Robert Blanks was determined to squeeze every last remaining second out of what was left of his life.
First he made a speech from the scaffold. It lasted 40 filibustering minutes. Then he requested that all those present at his execution bid him a personal goodbye. Each and every one of them, in a crowd that numbered more than 1,000.
When there were no more farewells to be made, he asked for a collection to be held on behalf of his poor family.
“The sheriff then told him to get ready for death,” said the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, “but he begged fervently for still more time, which he occupied in praying on his knees, and afterwards singing hymns.”
Tired of the shilly-shallying, the sheriff tried to place the black cap on Blanks’ head. He tore it off. Back on it went. Back off it came. Three more times they struggled with the cap before Blanks was finally pinned down.
As the noose went round his neck and the trapdoor fell, reported the Evening Telegraph, Blanks yelled his frantic last words. “Wait a minute…”
The father killed by joy
It was the news he had been longing for; the words he’d prayed to read. His son was safe.
There was the evidence, at last, in his hands: a letter with a Bloemfontein postmark, telling Peter Kitchen that his lad was alive and well.
Some time before, his son – a member of Armley Ambulance Corps in Leeds – had signed up for service in South Africa with No 9 Field Hospital. The year was 1900. The second Boer War was in full swing. Nothing had been heard from Kitchen’s son for a long while.
Like any parent, Mr Kitchen, who was in his 80s, was beside himself with worry – until that day. From then on in, he wouldn’t have a care in the world.
“Mr Kitchen was so overcome with joy on at last receiving news of his son’s safety that he expired without warning,” reported The Edinburgh Evening News.
The man murdered by a monkey
It was the clown who found him. When Signor Rovelli missed his cue for the big finale in the show, the circus joker went to see what was up.
What he discovered that night in Mexico was far too gruesome to be mollified with a comedy honk of the horn.
Rovelli was seated in his chair, with his menagerie of performing dogs and monkeys around him. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. His dogs whined pitifully at his feet. In the corner, one monkey was brandishing a razor.
“He had evidently fallen asleep,” said the Illustrated Police News in September 1876, “and while in an unconscious state, one of the monkeys had become possessed of his master’s razor, which [it] drew across the throat of the sleeping man.
“It is said that the acrobat had been seen to behave very cruelly to his monkey on many occasions, as the latter, from some cause or other, would not do as his master wished, and at times, when Rovelli was shaving, he used to go up to the monkey, razor in hand, threateningly, and imitate the movement of cutting himself. This was a most imprudent thing to do.”
As they say: monkey see, monkey do.
The girl who worried herself to death
Thirteen words. That’s all it took to kill Kate Weedon. Thirteen words strung together in a sinister rhyming couplet.
Poor Kate was a worrywart. Like a moth drawn to a flame, the 10-year-old Londoner began reading the prophecies of 16th-century soothsayer Mother Shipton, and was quickly fixated on two apocalyptic lines:
The world to an end shall come
In eighteen hundred and eighty one

It was already 1881 – the tail end of the year at that. And as the days passed, she became more and more anxious.
One day in November, Kate returned home from school in floods of tears. “Her mother told her it was all nonsense,” reported the Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser, “but this had not the least effect upon her, and when she went to bed at half-past 10 she was still crying and wringing her hands, saying she knew the end of the world would come in the night.
“At about half-past three on the following morning the mother was awakened by hearing her cry, and on going to her bedroom found the child in a fit. A doctor was immediately sent for, but his services were of no avail, and the child died two hours later.”
An inquest found death was due to convulsions and shock to the system, brought on by fright. An entirely needless dread, at that. Almost 10 years before, the author Charles Hindley had admitted to fabricating the prophecy – to liven up his 1862 book on Mother Shipton.
The servant who died re-enacting the death she had just witnessed
Some folks are wise, and some are otherwise, observed the author Tobias Smollett. Proof, if it was required, was to be found in Widnes in 1881.
On an October evening that year, a wholesale draper named Birchall asked an employee called Hague to go to his lodgings and fetch his four-chambered revolver, which he intended to hand as a gift to a policeman who was leaving for Australia.
When Hague got the house, he contrived to shoot himself through the mouth while examining the gun.
When a neighbor hurried to the scene, a servant picked up the revolver to show what had happened. “The firearm again went off,” said the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, “and shot her through the mouth. Both are dead.”