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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, these are your heroes ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Typical Tourists ... !
Today is  - There is no special celebration today

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Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Monterrey, Mexico
Quebec, Toronto, Streetsville, Mississauga and Ottawa, Canada
Rio De Janeiro, Uberlandia, Sao Paulo, Santo Andre and Santo Antonio, Brazil
The Bottom, Sint Eustatius-Saba
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Rosario, Argentina
Kalispell and Lyman, United States
Bogota, Colombia
Managua and Boaco, Nicaragua
Reykjavik, Iceland
Belgrade, Serbia
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Ryazan and Vladivostok, Russia
Prague and Hostivice, Czech Republic
Glasgow, Scotland
Milan, Naples, Bergamo, Ivrea and Ravenna, Italy
Velizy-Villacoublay, Caen, Villeurbanne, Cherbourg-Octeville, Paris, Roubaix and Lyon, France
Lisbon and Covilha, Portugal
Dublin and Waterford, Ireland
Madrid, L'Olleria and Basauri, Spain
Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
Stockholm, Vaxjo and Kista, Sweden
Hitrup, Germany
Warsaw, Poland
London, Nottingham and Eastbourne, England
Baar, Switzerland
Bucharest, Romania
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sentul and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jahanabad, New Delhi, Chetput, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Patna, Chennai, Jodhpur and Kolkata, India
Tehran, Iran
Singapore, Singapore
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Surian, Indonesia
Pak Chong, Thailand
Rangoon, Burma
Seongnam, Korea
Shubra El-Kheima, Egypt
The Pacific
Makati and Lacson, Philippines
Homebush, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, Australia

Today in History

1782   The British sign a preliminary agreement in Paris, recognizing American independence.  
1838   Mexico declares war on France.
1861   The British Parliament sends to Queen Victoria an ultimatum for the United States, demanding the release of two Confederate diplomats who were seized on the British ship Trent.  
1864   The Union wins the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.  
1900   The French government denounces British actions in South Africa, declaring sympathy for the Boers.
1900   Oscar Wilde dies in a Paris hotel room after saying of the room's wallpaper: "One of us had to go."
1906   President Theodore Roosevelt publicly denounces segregation of Japanese schoolchildren in San Francisco.
1919   Women cast votes for the first time in French legislative elections.
1935   Non-belief in Nazism is proclaimed grounds for divorce in Germany.  
1945   Russian forces take Danzig in Poland and invade Austria.  
1948   The Soviet Union complete the division of Berlin, installing the government in the Soviet sector.
1950   President Truman declares that the United States will use the A-bomb to get peace in Korea.
1956   The United States offers emergency oil to Europe to counter the Arab ban.  
1961   The Soviet Union vetoes a UN seat for Kuwait, pleasing Iraq.  
1974   India and Pakistan decide to end a 10-year trade ban.  
1974   Pioneer II sends photos back to NASA as it nears Jupiter.  
1979   pope John Paul II becomes the first pope in 1,000 years to attend an orthodox mass.  
1981   Representatives of the US and USSR meet in Geneva, Switzerland, to begin negotiations on reducing the number of intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.  
1982   Thriller, Michael Jackson's second solo album, released; the album, produced by Quincy Jones, became the best-selling album in history.  
1993   US President Bill Clinton signs the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (better known as the Brady Bill) into law.  
1994   MS Achille Lauro, a ship with long history of problems including a 1985 terrorist hijacking, catches fire off the coast of Somalia.  
1995   Operation Desert Storm officially comes to an end.  
1998   Exxon and Mobil oil companies agree to a $73.7 billion merge, creating the world's largest company, Exxon-Mobil.  
2004   On the game show Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings loses after 74 consecutive victories. It is the longest winning streak in game-show history, earning him a total of over $3 million.  
2005   John Sentamu becomes Archbishop of York, making him the Cult of England's first black archbishop.

The Happiness Scale

According to the Happiness Index, the country with the happiest people is Costa Rica, followed by Vietnam and Columbia. Are you happy? The Happiness Scale measures happiness throughout the world.

The Truth Hurts


The Collegiate Raccoon Coat

There was a fashion craze on college campuses in the 1920s of wearing a full-length raccoon fur coat. Probably the only reference you’ll see to those raccoon coats these days is in vintage cartoons, where they were a device used to identify a character as a college student at a football game. The luxurious coats were visually stunning, but in reality, the fad was mostly confined to Ivy League schools.
I had stumbled upon a snapshot of a moment in fashion history when American Ivy league-ers and young college undergrads began sporting heavy, full-length raccoon coats, which set the trend in 1920s & 30s men’s fashion and sparked a voracious demand for the extravagant garment across the country. If a man could afford a fur coat, he had one; bankers, salesmen and students alike used the style to signify or improve their social status.
They were expensive- several hundred dollars, which was out of reach for most students. That in itself made the raccoon coat a status symbol to be flaunted. Messy Nessy Chic relates the rise and fall of the collegiate raccoon coat in an article with plenty of pictures. The images capture the spirit of the prosperous, carefree Roaring Twenties.

Mathematical Model Explains Why All Hipsters Look Alike

There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs when a guy decides to give his soul over to the lame side and become a hipster- he starts to look just like every other hipster in the world.

From the beard to the super skinny jeans to the cheesy hat, there’s a definite similarity found in the style of all hipsters, even though they claim to eschew trends and societal norms.
If Hipster congruity has been keeping you up at night then worry no longer, because thanks to the hard work of neuroscientist Jonathan Touboul we now have a mathematical model to explain why all hipsters look alike.
He calls it the "hipster loop", a model based on neurons that "fire when every neuron around them is quiet, or fall silent when every neuron around them is chattering", because they were busy firing before it was cool.

How the World’s First Computer Was Rescued From the Scrap Heap

ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, and the machine that bore the name is often considered the first true electronic computer, although that depends on how one defines “computer.” It weighed 27 tons, contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, and consisted of 40 huge interconnected metal panels. When ENIAC was deemed obsolete in 1955, it was dismantled, separated, and parts went to various locations, where the machine’s historical value was sometimes considered, sometimes not. Then in 2006, Ross Perot wanted a piece of computer history for his Plano, Texas, headquarters. Libby Craft was in charge of the project, for which her team decided to track down what was left of ENIAC. It was not an easy task.
Craft was on the verge of ending her search when an Army functionary dug up documents indicating that some panels had once been shipped from the Aberdeen (MD) Proving Ground to Oklahoma’s Fort Sill, home to the Army’s field artillery museum. When Craft contacted Fort Sill to inquire, the museum’s curator was stunned to discover that he did, indeed, possess the world’s largest trove of ENIAC hardware—nine panels in total, all stored in anonymous wooden crates that hadn’t been pried open in years. Fort Sill officials are unclear as to how they ended up with nearly a quarter of ENIAC, pieces of which also came to Oklahoma from the Anniston (AL) Army Depot.
An ENIAC technician changes a tube.
Craft struck a deal to borrow eight of Fort Sill’s panels in exchange for a promise to restore the hardware to some semblance of its former glory.
Read the story of just how they did that, and what happened to the remains of ENIAC (hint: you can go see it) at Wired.

84-Year-Old's Date With Teen Twins Turns Into Nightmare

by Simon McCormack
An 84-year-old New Yorker's date with two 17-year-old twin sisters ended with the senior citizen tied up and robbed, according to police.
The New York Times reports that Paul Aronson met up with 17-year-old Shaina Foster last month through SeekingArrangement.com, a sugar daddy site that bills itself as a place “where beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships,” according to the Times.
After a first date, Shaina brought her twin sister Shalaine along to the second. The trio dined at an "expensive restaurant" and then Aronson invited them back to his apartment for a drink, court documents said.
That's when Shaina told authorities things got out of hand.
“He asked to do things I wasn’t going to do,” she told Detective Darryl Ng. “He is ugly, old and disgusting. I tied him up. I took his money and left. He was starting to creep me out.”
The New York Daily News reports that the sisters allegedly tied Aronson up with zip ties, stole $420 worth of cash from his wallet and took his credit card. They then went on a shopping spree and bought makeup, police said.
Shaina Foster told authorities she was surprised Aronson called police.
"The old man reported me? I don’t understand why he reported me," she said, according to court documents.
The New York Post reports that on Wednesday, Shalaine Foster's lawyer said his client was brought along by her sister and didn't take part in any of the crimes her sister allegedly committed.
"There’s always that story of the good twin and the bad twin, who goes right and who goes wrong,” Brian Kennedy said. ”​My client Sh​alaine was always going right but it seems she got caught up in something that was not of her making.”
The pair are charged with kidnapping, burglary, robbery, assault and grand larceny. They are being held without bail.
The age of consent in New York is 17, which may at least partially explain why Aronson isn't facing any charges.

The repugicans have no incentive to moderate or govern

by David Atkins
It has become conventional wisdom in the press, seriously intoned at every level, that repugicans need to “prove they can govern” in order to succeed in 2016. Jay Rosen throws some clarifying cold water on that notion:
You can’t simply assert, like it’s some sort of natural fact, that Republicans “must show they can govern” when an alternative course is available. Not only is it not a secret — this other direction — but it’s being strongly urged upon the party by people who are a key part of its coalition.
The alternative to “show you can govern” is to keep President Obama from governing. Right? Keep him from accomplishing what he wants to get done in his final two years and then “go to the country,” as Karl Rove used to say, with a simple message: time for a change! This is not only a valid way to proceed, it’s a pretty likely outcome.
As a media critic, Rosen is primarily frustrated that press mouthpieces are declaring as natural fact statements that are in reality matters of opinion. Rosen is right: centrist media institutions have a bias toward Washington consensus building such that they tend to actively ignore both issues and political realities as they are to match their own narrative. The self-evident thesis of respected political scientists Mann and Ornstein that repugicans have become singularly extreme over the last few decades has been met with stunning silence by centrist press institutions. Meanwhile, five-alarm fire issues like climate change and record inequality receive little attention because they’re not ones on which Tip-n-Ronnie style bipartisanship in a lunch meeting hammered out by McCain, Hagel and Lieberman will save the day. The press is itself biased toward “solutions” that will not actually solve the big problems, and willfully ignores the big problems in favor of phantom “problems” like the deficit that their preferred “let the moderates work it out at a cocktail party” solutions are more amenable to.
Rosen is right insofar as the press goes. But he’s also right, of course, on the repugican cabal strategy.
The repugicans have been remarkably successful over the last six years in spite of themselves. Their policies and their brand are both extremely unpopular, and their path to the presidency seems nearly impossible. They’ve shut down the government and managed to alienate almost every rising sector of the population while solidifying a base of voters that is narrowing both demographically and geographically. And yet, through record obstruction they’ve managed to stymie President Obama on nearly issue and now hold a greater share of Congress than they’ve had in decades.
What’s not to love about that for repugicans, and why wouldn’t they keep doing it? Actually taking action on major legislation like immigration would only threaten to blow up their uneasy coalition and ignite repugican cabal civil war. Why court that controversy by actually trying to get anything done, instead of allowing the country to suffer for two more years then pinning all the blame on the President?
Eventually even the centrist press will figure this out. Whether they’ll actually report on it over their own inherent biases is another matter.

The repugicans Treat Their Voters Like Absolute Idiots ...

... And wingnuts Eat it Right Up
by Allen Clifton
It goes without saying that I watch a lot of news. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the mainstream media, it’s still a source that can be used along with others to get some decent information. Though with each passing year the quality gets worse and worse – but that’s what happens when you allow your news to be driven by ratings instead of content.
I have to admit, the “news” channel that I watch the most is Faux News. Believe it or not, it’s a great channel from which to get information. Typically, whatever they’re saying, just believe the opposite. It’s also the best source for knowing what conservative voters will be saying next, because I can guarantee you whatever nonsense Faux News is pushing will soon be parroted by nearly every wingnut from all across the country.
Though I don’t really view Faux News as actual “news” – it’s wingnut entertainment. Their content isn’t driven by facts; instead it’s driven by what wingnuts want to hear.
The repugican cabal and wingnut media absolutely loves the stupidity of the average wingnut voter. They don’t even try to hide the fact that they treat these people like mindless sheep. Right now the repugican cabal is up in arms over Obama’s executive actions on immigration, when all he’s done is take action to give human beings who are already here and meet certain criteria the chance at becoming American citizens. He didn’t use a pen to pass sweeping immigration reform and redefine what it means to be an “American citizen.” He simply made it possible for these people who want to meet these guidelines to be able to earn the right to become a citizen.
That’s it. It boils down to treating these people like actual human beings.
It’s not Amnesty – it’s a path to citizenship. These people won’t be granted instant citizenship just for being here. They’ll have to meet the criteria and adhere to the process for becoming an American citizen, and if they don’t, they won’t be granted citizenship.
But the truth is had House repugicans even attempted to pass immigration reform, none of this would have been needed. So while wingnut voters are “outraged” at President Obama for issuing these executive actions, they should really be ticked off at their own party for doing absolutely nothing about immigration since they took power in the House in 2010.
By the way, included in Obama’s plan is added resources for border security, but you sure won’t hear that mentioned much (if at all) on Faux News.
But even if you just look at the bigger “names” wingnuts trust, it’s an absolute joke. People like Sean Handjob, Matt Sludge, Glenn Brick, Lush Dimbulb – all bottom-feeding propagandists. These are individuals who thrive on saying some of the most outrageous crap because they know wingnuts won’t question it.
Benghazi is another great example of wingnut hysteria driving “news.” The House Intelligence Committee just released their latest report showing what liberals have been saying for well over a year now: There was no Benghazi conspiracy, or cover up, driven by the Obama administration. 
Though this report was released on a Friday before a big holiday and it was hardly even mentioned by anyone on Faux News, so most wingnuts will never hear much about it. But it’s just another debunked lie in a growing list that have been pushed by the wingnut media.
And none of these lies would even be remotely possible if it weren’t for the fact that repugicans clearly believe wingnut voters are idiots.
Things like “death panels,” doubts about Obama’s citizenship, supposed links to the muslim brotherhood and many other nefarious and outrageous claims about the president that only complete fools could possibly believe. These aren’t conspiracies that have been pushed by the lunatic fringe wingnut media. These are topics that have been heavily promoted by not just the wingnut media, but elected repugican officials as well.
And no matter how many of these ridiculous conspiracies continue to get debunked by facts and reality, wingnut voters continue to eat up new lies one right after another.

The Truth Be Told


US Votes Against UN Declaration Condemning The Spread Of Racist Fascism

by Randa Morris
Only three countries in the world voted against a UN declaration condemning the spread of Racist Fascism/Nazism, the US, Canada and Ukraine.
The resolution, A/C.3/69/L.56/Rev.1, which addresses a global effort toward “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” passed with support of 115 other nations.
Not surprisingly, the Ukrainian delegate said that since racist fascism/Nazism isn’t the only political belief system in history to have murdered millions, the country refused to support the resolution.
Of course, that vote must not have had anything to do with the Nazi soldiers that are now occupying the Ukraine.
Early in September, Norwegian reporter Oysten Bogen captured the following images of soldiers in the AZOV battalion.
image credit: nbcnews.com
From the nbcnews.com report:
“We were filming a report about Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,” Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for the private television station, told NBC News. Minutes before the images were taped, Bogen said he had asked a spokesperson whether the battalion had fascist tendencies. “The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,” Bogen said.”
A BBC Newsnight report broadcast in February highlights the rise of racist Fascism/Nazism in the new Ukrainian government. High ranking officials within the government are seen holding symbols of “Nazi numerology,” including the number 88, which symbolizes “Heil Hitler.”
Delegates from many of the 115 nations that voted in favor of the resolution, went on the record with statements regarding the decision to support.
“A delegate of Belarus noted the growth of neo-Nazi movements that was occurring under the pretext of freedom of speech.  She then expressed her concern over the use of the Internet and social media to propagate national superiority.  As every fourth inhabitant of her country had died in the Second World War, she reiterated the importance of the draft resolution, and encouraged Member States to support it,”
a UN press release states:
Also explaining his country’s position after the vote, Equatorial Guinea’s representative said African countries knew well about racism and apartheid.  His delegation had voted in favour of the text, and wanted all sorts of Nazi groups to be labelled as terrorists.
The anti-Nazism resolution was introduced by Russia. In explanation of the no vote, the US delegate cited suspect political motives on the part of Russia, for the introduction of the resolution.
Yet with this vote, the US becomes one of the only countries in the world to openly align itself with the racist Fascist, Nazi party.
An even bigger concern is the elements of racist Fascism that have been introduced into the mainstream political conversation here in the US. The rise of the far right since the 2008 financial crisis has been very similar to how the Nazi’s rose to power in Germany following the Great Depression.
How can the US condemn racist Fascism or Nazism while at the same time allowing a political party in our own country to promote that same agenda here at home?
The similarities between the rise of racist Fascism in other countries around the world and what’s happening here in the US can’t be overlooked.
The platform of the American Nazi Party includes:
1. White nationalism (anti-immigration and anti-minority groups)
2. Motherhood and family, defined as ‘A strengthening of the ‘family unit’. (Anti-Feminism)
3. The establishment of a new educational system which will place a strong emphasis on the physical and moral development of youth. (anti-public education)
4. An honest, self-sufficient, debt free economy.
5. A country that is totally self-sufficient in energy. (Fossil fuel exploitation)
6. The right of white citizens to keep and bear arms. (They don’t pretend to be fighting for the rights of all citizens, just white ones.)
7. End of separation of church and state. (The Nazi platform describes this as ‘traditional Aryan spiritual values’. The republican party tones it down to read ‘traditional American values’, there’s no difference between the meaning of these statements.)
The American Nazi Party Platform doesn’t try to hide its agenda, which is to promote the Aryan race above all other races. The mainstream right promotes this same agenda, but is more subtle when it comes to calling for total right supremacy.
In June, David Pakman‘s show brought on former neo-Nazi Frank Meeink. Meeink disclosed details of how the Tea Party actively recruited members of racist Fascist movements in the United States. Here’s a video of that interview:
While it’s encouraging to know that a coalition of 115 different countries have resolved to combat the spread of racist Fascism/Nazism, it’s disheartening to realize that, rather than opposing this dangerous ideology, the US is becoming increasingly more entrenched in it.

Violent killings by Utah police outpace deaths by gangs, drug dealers and child abusers

If you live in Utah, you are more likely to be killed by police than gangs, drug dealers or child abusers.The Salt Lake Tribune recently reviewed records for 300 violent deaths over a five year period, and found that deaths from police violence were the second most common type of killing after intimate partner violence in Utah.
Records showed that law enforcement officers were responsible for 15 percent of the violent deaths by killing 45 people since 2010.
Officials have found all of the killings to be justified, except the 2012 shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard. On Saturday, police responding to a trespassing report in South Jordan shot and killed a man. That incident was still under investigation.

Florida Injustice Wins Again

Battered Victim Marissa Alexander Back In Jail On Plea Bargain
by Leslie Salzillo
Florida domestic violence victim, and mother of three, Marissa Alexander, has decided to accept a plea bargain from the State of Florida. My heart breaks knowing this woman will spend even more time behind bars, for defending her own life. Now, after already serving over 1000 days, she will have to serve 65 more days incarcerated, away from her children. To add insult, Marissa is also ordered to serve two years of probation, wearing a surveillance monitor. Meanwhile, her serial abuser husband, Rico Gray, walks free. This case sends a horrible message out to past and present victims of domestic violence. It says don't defend yourself, and don't go to the police, because if you do, be prepared to be further abused by the courts. And if you don't, be prepared to join over 10,000 women who have been murdered by their boyfriends/husbands over the last 10 years.
Marissa Alexander clearly accepted the plea bargain out of fear of being prosecuted further by the District Attorney Angela Corey. This past year, Corey threatened to seek a 60-year sentence, against Marissa, for firing a warning shot, if the case went back to trial. With the reelection of Governor Rick Scott, who has continuously refused to act upon the public's outrage over Marissa's conviction, and the ever fucked-up Florida court system, Marissa undoubtedly made the right decision. I applaud her grace and courage.
Although there is some relief in knowing Marissa will not remain in prison for years, I am disgusted with the injustice. But as my good friend and songwriter, Alice Townsend, once wrote:
Fair is where you go ride the pony.
It becomes harder and harder for Americans to have any faith in this country's judicial system. Thanks to the Daily Kos community and general public; I have no doubt that through our press, petitions, protests, calls to the Florida DA/Governor, and the amazing FreeMarissaNow campaign, we have all kept Marissa from falling through the cracks where she would have been left to serve her original 20-year sentence. It's hard to fathom how many victims get lost in the shuffle, and now live behind bars, ignored/forgotten. So how can we feel any kind of victory here? For what? A great injustice has been committed against to another victim; should we feel good that the sentence wasn't worse? No. Perhaps, we can be more celebratory when Marissa Alexander is out of jail and laws begin to change. In the meantime we will fight for the millions of victims of domestic violence who are imprisoned either by cell bars, or by cages created by their abusers in their own homes.
Here is the official press release. I will be adding an address where you can write Marissa Alexander in jail, once an address is given. She just went back into incarceration today.
Monday, November 24, 2014 From: Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign
FreeMarissaNow@gmail.com; www.FreeMarissaNow.org
Upon News of Plea Deal, Activists Vow to Organize Until Marissa Alexander is Free
Today, Marissa Alexander has chosen to accept a plea deal with the State of Florida.  The plea deal includes time served (1,030 days), an additional 65 days in Duval County Jail which will begin today, and two years of probation while wearing a surveillance monitor. Marissa Alexander is a black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida who, nine days after prematurely giving birth, was forced to defend her life from a brutal life-threatening attack by her estranged husband, and subsequently prosecuted by State Prosecutor Angela Corey.  Alexander, her legal team, and thousands of supporters were preparing for a likely difficult trial to begin this December.  If found guilty, she would have faced a mandatory 60 year sentence.
The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign supports Marissa Alexander’s self-determination to make the best choices she can while navigating the violent and impossible circumstances created by her abusive husband, Angela Corey, and Florida’s judicial system.
“The plea deal is a relief in some ways, but this is far from a victory,” said Alisa Bierria, from the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign.  “The deal will help Marissa and her family avoid yet another very expensive and emotionally exhausting trial that could have led to the devastating ruling of spending the rest of her life in prison.  Marissa’s children, family, and community need her to be free as soon as possible.  However, the absurdity in Marissa’s case was always the fact that the courts punished and criminalized her for surviving domestic violence, for saving her own life.  The mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years, and then 60 years, just made the state’s prosecution increasingly shocking.  But we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.”
In 2010, Alexander fired a single warning shot that caused no injuries while defending herself from an attack by her abusive husband who strangled her and threatened to kill her. In 2012, she attempted to invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground immunity, but was denied and sent to trial where she was found guilty and sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.  Supported by an international grassroots movement, Alexander successfully appealed the verdict in September 2013, but Corey filed charges again, this time announcing that she would pursue a mandatory 60 year sentence for Alexander.  On November 27, 2013, almost exactly a year ago and after serving nearly three years in prison, Alexander was released and put under very strict house detention while she prepared for her retrial.
The campaign vows to keep organizing for Alexander’s freedom and raising awareness about the issues surrounding her case.
“It is critical that we keep the momentum of our support and love going until Marissa is restored to her family and community,” said Sumayya Coleman, a Free Marissa Now lead organizer.  “In light of Marissa’s decision to not go to trial, we continue to stand in solidarity with her and her family.  Marissa has been consistent in her self-advocacy, including defending her life when attacked by her husband, rejecting a punishing three year plea deal offered to her in 2012, and taking the plea offered to her today.  As difficult as it is to see Marissa unjustly sent back to jail today, her supporters around the world stand by her. We are standing our ground that women have the right to defend themselves from violence, and that black women’s lives matter.”
Alexander’s case has unfolded in the context of the larger crisis of mass incarceration that disproportionately impacts black women and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The ACLU estimates that 85-90% of people in women’s prisons have been victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse.  For the next 65 days, the campaign urges Alexander’s supporters all over the world to organize rallies and forums that raise awareness about Alexander’s case and the cases of other incarcerated women who face similar circumstances, such as Charmaine Pfender. 
“We will not stop organizing until Marissa Alexander is free!” said Aleta Alston Toure, a Free Marissa Now lead organizer based in Jacksonville.  “During the next 65 days, we must continue to use the attention we’ve brought to Marissa’s case to highlight the broader ongoing crisis of mass incarceration, police violence, and prosecutorial abuse.  There are thousands of Marissa Alexanders still behind bars, still facing devastating prison sentences, and still being threatened in their own homes.  We must stay the course, spread the word, and change the system until all of our sisters are free.”
Free Marissa Now will keep Marissa Alexander’s supporters updated about the new address where she can receive mail and next steps for the Marissa Alexander Freedom Fundraiser. The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is an international grassroots campaign led by a core of organizers representing the African American/Black Women’s Cultural Alliance, New Jim Crow Movement - Jacksonville, and INCITE! Women of Color and Trans People of Color Against Violence. For more information, see www.FreeMarissaNow.org.
If you are being abused, or know someone who needs help, please contact: National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE.
They will help give you tools to get out of an abusive relationship. Thankfully, many are able to leave/escape and find happy and productive lives. The cycle can be broken. I know, because I am one who survived - and now I am one who thrives. Reach out. You are not alone.

Judge rules Illinois pension cutting law “unconstitutional and void in its entirety”

retirement image2 Last week, Sagamon County Judge John Belz ruled that the law approved last December which cuts state employee pensions for both active and retired workers in order to make up for decades of underfunding by the state is “unconstitutional and void in its entirety.” Belz further found that “protection against the diminishment or impairment of pension benefits is absolute and without exception.” You can read the complete ruling here.
The We Are One Illinois labor coalition, which includes the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and other labor groups, issued the following statement on the ruling:
Today’s ruling makes clear that the Illinois Constitution means what it says, and the pension clause is absolute. The court held today, as our unions have long argued, that the state cannot simply choose to violate the Constitution and diminish or impair retirement benefits if politicians find these commitments inconvenient to keep.
This is, of course, a victory for teachers and police, nurses and child protection workers and all other public servants, both active and retired, who have worked hard on behalf of Illinois and its residents in every community throughout the state. They earn modest pensions and always paid their share. Today they are more secure in the knowledge that their life savings can’t be taken away from them.
But it is just as much a victory for every Illinois resident who believes in the integrity of the Constitution, the document that guides our state government. And it is a victory for a basic principle of fairness, that public employees and retirees should not be blamed or punished for the failures of politicians, and that their dignity and security in retirement should not be jeopardized.
While this is a huge victory for the hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers, nurses and other public servants who would have had their retirement security decimated by the law, the fight is not over yet. The Illinois Attorney General intends to appeal the ruling the the Illinois Supreme Court.

When the Guy Making Your Sandwich Has a Non-Compete Clause

If you are a chief executive of a large company, you very likely have a non-compete clause in your contract, preventing you from jumping ship to a competitor until some period has elapsed. Likewise if you are a top engineer or product designer, holding your company’s most valuable intellectual property between your ears.
And you also probably have a non-compete agreement if you assemble sandwiches at Jimmy John’s sub sandwich chain for a living.
But what’s most startling about that information, first reported by The Huffington Post, is that it really isn’t all that uncommon. As my colleague Steven Greenhouse reported this year, employers are now insisting that workers in a surprising variety of relatively low- and moderate-paid jobs sign non-compete agreements.
Indeed, while HuffPo has no evidence that Jimmy John’s, a 2,000-location sandwich chain, ever tried to enforce the agreement to prevent some $8-an-hour sandwich maker or delivery driver from taking a job at the Blimpie down the road, there are other cases where low-paid or entry-level workers have had an employer try to restrict their employability elsewhere. The Times article tells of a camp counselor and a hair stylist who faced such restrictions.

A non-compete clause for sandwich makers sounds improbable, but it's true. 

American businesses are paying out a historically low proportion of their income in the form of wages and salaries. But the Jimmy John’s employment agreement is one small piece of evidence that workers, especially those without advanced skills, are also facing various practices and procedures that leave them worse off, even apart from what their official hourly pay might be. Collectively they tilt the playing field toward the owners of businesses and away from the workers who staff them.
You see it in disputes like the one heading to the Supreme Court over whether workers at an Amazon warehouse in Nevada must be paid for the time they wait to be screened at the end of the workday to ensure they have no stolen goods on them.
It’s evident in continuing lawsuits against Federal Express claiming that its “independent contractors” who deliver packages are in fact employees who are entitled to benefits and reimbursements of costs they incur.
And it is shown in the way many retailers assign hourly workers inconvenient schedules that can change at the last minute, giving them little ability to plan their lives (my colleague Jodi Kantor wrote memorably about the human effects of those policies on a Starbucks coffee worker in August, and Starbucks rapidly said it would end many of them).
These stories all expose the subtle ways that employers extract more value from their entry-level workers, at the cost of their quality of life (or, in the case of the non-compete agreements, freedom to leave for a more lucrative offer).
What’s striking about some of these labor practices is the absence of reciprocity. When a top executive agrees to a non-compete clause in a contract, it is typically the product of a negotiation in which there is some symmetry: The executive isn’t allowed to quit for a competitor, but he or she is guaranteed to be paid for the length of the contract even if fired.

To tell the truth ...

Beijing store sparks racism row by banning Chinese customers

A clothing store in Beijing has caused an outcry after putting up a sign banning Chinese customers. The sign reading: "Chinese not admitted - staff excluded" appeared more than a week ago.
"We didn't want to hang up the sign in the first place and lead people to think we Chinese look down upon ourselves. But some Chinese customers are too annoying," a salesperson said, adding that the wholesale store mainly sells to foreigners. The salesperson said the store had to pay a foreign customer £3,200 ($5,000) last week to settle the theft of his wallet by a Chinese shopper.
"The surveillance camera footage showed a Chinese customer stole his wallet. But the foreign customer claimed that we [the shop and the Chinese customer] are a group of thieves. And Chinese women often try on lots of clothes but end up buying nothing," the salesperson added.
The sign, which is written in Chinese, was also aimed at preventing competitors from copying their designs, another salesperson said. Legal scholar Li Xiandong, of the China University of Political Science and Law, said that while the sign was discriminatory, the mainland had not outlawed racial discrimination, so the sign was not breaking any laws.

Man from Fruitvale arrested for pointing banana at police officers, including one named Bunch

Nathen Channing, a 27-year-old resident of Fruitvale, Colorado, was taken into custody on Sunday night for pointing a banana at a pair of Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies, both of whom initially believed the piece of fruit was a handgun. The two involved Mesa County deputies were identified as Joshua Bunch and Donald Love, both of whom were identified as victims in the case against Channing, who was arrested on two counts of felony menacing. In an arrest affidavit, Bunch wrote that he was driving in unincorporated Mesa County, when he noticed Channing walking on the sidewalk.

Man vexed that ATMs rejected his bank card smashed-up nine machines in hammer attack

Chinese man Bo Teng has been arrested after he took a hammer out of his car and used it to smash up nine ATM machines when they refused to accept his bank card. The tourist had been visiting the city of Guangzhou in China's Guangdong province and needed the money to get a hotel for the night.
But after repeatedly putting the card in and having it rejected, the 43-year-old walked away briefly only to return minutes later with a hammer from his car. He then used it to smash up the machine that had rejected his card, and then also attack three other machines in the wall of the bank.

He then walked a short distance until he spotted another bank, with another five ATM machines, and smashed those up as well. Police spokesman Jun Li said: "He was furious that he couldn't get money from his account but it appears it was because he didn't have any money in his account.
"It was also foolish given that he had tried to use the machine a few minutes earlier, and it was easy to identify him from his card details." The bank warned that the man is unlikely to have any money in his account for some time after they announced they were suing him for the cost of repairing the machines, which is expected to be over 20,000. They are also filing a complaint for criminal damage with police.

Woman arrested over $6,400 sausage heist

A Texas woman has lost her job and now is facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing $6,400 worth of sausage from her employer, the Kiolbassa Provision Company.

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Domestic cereals in evidence 7,000 years ago in Sudan

Plant particles found during the excavation of this Neolithic cemetery in Nubia (Sudan) turned out to be traces of domestic cereals when analyzed in a lab. Copyright: D. Usai/ S. Salvatori
Plant particles found during the excavation of this Neolithic cemetery in Nubia (Sudan) turned out to be traces of domestic cereals when analyzed in a lab.
Humans in Africa already exploited domestic cereals 7,000 years ago and thus several centuries earlier than previously known. Researchers have successfully verified ancient barley and wheat residues in grave goods and on teeth from two Neolithic cemeteries in North and Central Sudan.
The results of the analyses were recently published (online) in the journal PLoS ONE.
Dr. Welmoed Out from the University of Kiel was involved in the investigation. “With our results we can verify that people along the Nile did not only exploit gathered wild plants and animals but even crops of barley and wheat.
These were first cultivated in the Middle East about 10,500 years ago and spread out from there to Central and South Asia as well as to Europe and North Africa – the latter faster than expected. “The diversity of the diet was much greater than previously assumed,” states Out and adds: “Moreover, the fact that grains were placed in the graves of the deceased implies that they had a special, symbolic meaning.”
One of the graves at the Neolithic cemetery in Nubia (Sudan), containing a skeleton and plant material deposited behind the skull (white structure at the left picture margin). Copyright: D. Usai/ S. Salvatori
One of the graves at the Neolithic cemetery in Nubia (Sudan), containing a skeleton and plant material deposited behind the skull (white structure at the left picture margin).
The research team, coordinated by Welmoed Out and the environmental archaeologist Marco Madella from Barcelona, used a special high-quality light microscope as well as radiocarbon analyses for age determination. Mineral plant particles, so-called phytoliths, survive for a very long time, even when other plant remains are no longer discernible. In addition, calculus on the teeth provide evidence about the diet of these prehistoric humans due to the starch granules and phytoliths.
Read full paper here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0110177

The Stone Towers Of Svaneti, Georgia

The ancient province of Svaneti in Georgia is located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus mountain range. Surrounded by the gigantic, snow-capped peaks of the high Caucasus and deep gorges, Svaneti is home to some of the highest and most isolated villages in the Caucasus.
Marauding armies from foreign lands used to trouble the Svans during the Middle Ages leading to the construction of watchtowers and fortified homes. When powerful empires rampaged through Georgia, icons, jewels, religious artifacts and manuscripts were brought to the towers for safekeeping, turning Svaneti into a repository of early Georgian culture.

Bolide Explosion

Time-lapse video of the night sky captures the explosion of a bolide.

Retro Photos


Sally Forrest
Dancer Sally Forrest

Sheep farmer proposed to girlfriend with help from his flock

A resourceful sheep farmer from Willingdon in East Sussex found an interesting way to propose to his girlfriend. Henry Brown, 34, surprised his girlfriend Emily Walker, 22, from Hailsham, by proposing with a helping hand from his flock. “We both work in the sheep farming sector, it felt an apt way to propose,” said Henry, who farms 450 lambing ewes.
“You’ve got to make a bit of effort with these things, you only do it the once. I just thought I would make it a bit of fun really.” He said he planned the proposal in advance, and wanted to make sure it was imaginative. “We both had the day off so I said shall we go for a ride around the farm,” said Henry.
Earlier, he had got five of his flock, sprayed them with ‘Emily, will ewe marry me?’, and put them out in a separate field. When the pair spotted the sheep in the wrong place on their morning ride, they went out to investigate. Emily said, “I did not have a clue, I did not expect it at all.

“I was really surprised. I walked up and saw the sheep and thought hold on what’s going on. Then I realized what they had got written on them. He then did the gentlemanly thing and got down on one knee.” Emily said yes, and now the pair, who have been together since May, have set the wedding date for June 27 next year.

Annoying Anaconda

Video of people annoying a giant anaconda.  The participants have been fined by local authorities, but the video does show the impressive size of the snake.

Four Weird Ways Animals Sense The World

When humans sniff in order to smell something, we draw a quick puff of air into our nostrils and over chemoreceptors in our nasal cavity. But octopuses, butterflies, and other animals don't have noses like ours. Instead, they've evolved other, sometimes bizarre ways of sensing the world around them.

Animal Pictures