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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking about you ...!
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Today in History

1500   The Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral searches the coast of Brazil and claims the region for Portugal.  
1586   Sir Francis Drake launches a surprise attack on the heavily fortified city of Santo Domingo in Hipanola.  
1698   The Abenaki Indians and Massachusetts colonists sign a treaty halting hostilities between the two.  
1766   The Old Pretender, son of James III, dies.  
1788   The Times, London's oldest running newspaper, publishes its first edition.
1808   A U.S. law banning the import of slaves comes into effect, but is widely ignored.  
1824   The Camp Street Theatre opens as the first English-language playhouse in New Orleans.  
1830   William Lloyd Garrison publishes the first edition of a journal entitled The Liberator, calling for the complete and immediate emancipation of all slaves in the United States.  
1863   Confederate General Braxton Bragg and Union General William Rosecrans readjust their troops as the Battle of Murfreesboro continues.  
1863   President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the Confederacy.  
1891   Facilities opened on Ellis Island, New York, to cope with the vast flood of immigrants coming into the United States.  
1907   The Pure Food and Drug Act becomes law in the United States.  
1915   The German submarine U-24 sinks the British battleship Formidable in the English Channel.  
1918   The first gasoline pipeline begins operation. Along the 40 miles and three inches of pipe from Salt Creek to Casper, Wyoming.  
1923   Sadi Lecointe sets a new aviation speed record flying an average of 208 mph at Istres.  
1937   At a party at the Hormel Mansion in Minnesota, a guest wins $100 for naming a new canned meat–Spam.
1945   In Operation Bodenplatte, German planes attack American forward air bases in Europe. This is the last major offensive of the Luftwaffe.  
1959   Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba as General Fulgencio Batista flees.  
1986  As the United States builds its strength in the Mediterranean, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi threatens to retaliate if attacked.

The Happiest Place On Earth

According to the Happy Planet Index (HPI), Costa Rica tops all countries on the planet in terms of, well, happiness. But it turns out there's more to the HPI's derivation than just counting smiley faces. Tara explains.

Flu Slams U.S.

Deaths from flu are on the rise, prompting the CDC to say the country is at an 'epidemic threshhold.'

The Truth Be Told


President Obama Named The Most Admired Man In The World For The 7th Straight Year

The endless repugican anti-Obama campaign suffered another defeat as for the seventh consecutive year President Obama was named the most admired man in the world by Gallup.
According to Gallup,
Obama has appeared on the top 10 list each year since 2006, including ranking No. 1 in each of the last seven years, all by healthy margins over the second-place finisher. The incumbent president is nearly always the winner of the most admired distinction, having placed first in all but 12 of the 68 years the question has been asked
american-flag-obamaDemocrats and Democratic leaners widely choose Hillary Clinton (20%) and Barack Obama (33%) as the most admired woman and man, respectively. Not unexpectedly, repugicans and repugican leaners are much less likely to name either as their most admired. In fact, the criminal Condi Rice edges out Winfrey and Clinton as the most admired woman among repugicans. Obama and Pope Francis tie as the most admired man among repugicans, at 8%.
The repugicans’ and Democrats’ top five most admired women include both Clinton and Winfrey, and their top five most admired men include both the president and the pope. Beyond these, their choices differ.
In our current era of bitter partisan divide, it is nice to know that respect for the president still exists. No president has faced the level of disrespect that Barack Obama has. The repugicans have plotted and planned to destroy the man and his administration since his first day in office. The repugicans have flooded the country with an intentional and negative barrage of outright lies and misinformation about the president.
The repugicans have been disrespectful of the president both in public and in private. It is important though that the disrespect that repugican partisans have in their hearts does not carry over to the American people as a whole.

Barack H. Obama is the Greatest President of Modern Times

His list of accomplishments, even minus any opposition, would be staggering. 
Considering the odds against him, they are truly monumental…
It is difficult to compare presidents outside of a narrow context of time. It is like trying to compare baseball players, like Ruth and Aaron, or football players, like Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning. For athletes, the games they play were different then; and for presidents, not only the country, but the world is different.
There is no way of knowing how a president today would have fared when faced with the prospect of the First or Second World War, or how they would have handled the advent of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. These are answers we can never have answered, and speculation is pointless. Despite any internal similarities, the external contexts cannot be ignored: Korea is not Vietnam and Vietnam is not Iraq.
What we can do is judge them by their accomplishments, by how they faced the challenges of their time. Coming off the most disastrous presidencies in our history, that of the shrub, who cut taxes yet involved us in two un-paid for wars, and crashed our economy and that of the rest of the world as a result, we found ourselves with our nation’ first black president.
Not only did Barack H. Obama face the deeply entrenched racism of the nation that elected him, but a repugican cabal determined to obstruct his every move, to make him a one term president and that term an utter failure. All the while, he had to face his real work, that for which he was elected: digging our nation out of the hole into which his predecessor had dragged us.
And it was a deep hole. Hated by the world, our economy in shambles, two wars continuing and with no real end in sight, let alone any idea of what, exactly, would constitute victory, Barack Obama stepped up to the plate, and like Babe Ruth calling his shot, made his play. Like Ruth, he hit it out of the park. This is not hyperbole. The facts prove it.
The wars are over, the economy is booming. Unemployment, like gas prices, are dropping and we have seen record levels of job growth. By any measure of success, including that of repugican candidates in 2012, his presidency has been a success. Even businesses and Wall Street agree that repugicans are killing the economy, and the evidence proves that the economy grows more under Democratic presidents than repugican pretenders.
And not only did he end the wars (and without getting us into any of the new ones proposed by repugicans) and restored the economy, but he helped speed along social change by embracing marriage equality, kicking DOMA to the curb and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; he has supported women’s rights, including equal pay and the right to manage their own reproductive rights; He has fought for workers and for a living wage; battled on behalf of the environment; and fought for the rights of immigrants. And with the Affordable Care Act, known fittingly as Obamacare, he has given all Americans access to healthcare for the first time in our nation’s history.
His list of accomplishments, even minus any opposition, would be staggering. Considering the odds against him, they are truly monumental. In all these areas, he has made life better for Americans. Not just for the rich, but for all Americans.
Right off the bat, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. This was a measure of the world’s relief at being rid of the shrub as much as anything else. The world heaved a sigh of relief. And that alone spurred the much-needed cycle of healing. But it is what President Obama did as himself, rather than as not-the shrub, that has really sealed his legacy.
We have just seen that he has been named by Americans as the most admired man in the world for the seventh straight year. There is good reason for that. And it is not because he is FDR or JFK or even Abraham Lincoln. It is because he is Barack H. Obama, and that is no small thing in itself. He was, like so many other great men in our nation’s history, the right man in the right place at the right time. And he answered the call.
He may not have been as liberal as some of us would have liked, but neither was he as far left as repugicans imagined. That he seemed to them to be a Marxist shows not how far left Obama was but how far off the grid they had moved. In many respects, Obama is a repugican out of the past, embracing many policies once embraced by the repugican cabal. These make him much more of a centrist than someone to the far left of the political spectrum. But that might have been exactly what we needed in 2008.
Some have complained and continue to complain that Obama did not bring the change he promised, but he did bring change, and a great deal of it. The repugicans have asked if we miss the shrub yet. No, resoundingly, we do not. We can quibble, but it would be wrong to judge him according to what he did or did not do from our own personal lists of things we wanted done. What matters, and what alone matters, are the results.
And the results, as I pointed to above, are spectacular. Despite a steadfast refusal to do their jobs, despite every roadblock repugicans could put in his path, President Obama has persevered, with class and with style, holding his head up proudly like the American he is, sharing credit for his successes and accepting responsibility for his failures.
It is impossible not to compare the shrub and Obama: the moron who got us into war and the man who got us out of it; the moron who destroyed the economy and the man who restored it; the moron who alienated the world and the man who makes friends of enemies, including Cuba.
But ultimately Obama must be judged for who he is and not for who he is not, and according to those standards, he is a great man indeed. He is, I will assert here and without any hesitation, if not the greatest American president ever, the greatest president of modern times.

President Obama Explains That Discussion Regarding Race Issues Is Healthy For The Nation

obama inskeep
During a comprehensive interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that was released Monday, President Obama spoke at length on a number of hot-button topics and issues that have come to the forefront in 2014. One of the issues he touched on was race relations in this country. Inskeep asked POTUS if the country is more racially divided than it was six years ago when he first set foot in the White House. President Obama explained that day-to-day interactions between people of different races is likely better than it was in the past, but the issues that have come to the forefront due to Ferguson and Eric Garner are likely “healthy” for the country as we are now addressing them.
No, I actually think that it’s probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided. But I actually think that the issue has surfaced in a way that probably is healthy.
I mean, the issue of police and communities of color being mistrustful of each other is hardly new; that dates back a long time. It’s just something that hasn’t been talked about — and for a variety of reasons.
In some cases, something as simple as the fact that everybody has cellphones now so that you can record some of these events, you know, it’s gotten a lot of attention; I think that’s good. I think it then points to our ability to solve these problems.
It’s understandable the polls might say, you know, that race relations have gotten worse — because when it’s in the news and you see something like Ferguson or the Garner case in New York, then it attracts attention. But I assure you, from the perspective of African-Americans or Latinos in poor communities who have been dealing with this all their lives, they wouldn’t suggest somehow that it’s worse now than it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago.
After providing that answer, Inskeep brought up the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Inskeep pointed out that polls show the majority of white people believe the grand jury’s decision was correct while minorities feel it was not fair. The NPR interviewer wanted to know how the President felt about the fact that different races see things very differently in this country on certain issues and if he was going to try to address that more over his final two years in the White House.
In answering Inskeep, Obama pointed back to his time in the Illinois State Legislature and said that better data combined with training can lead to more effective policing and a reduction of racial profiling. He also referred to the task force he has put in place, which is comprised of law enforcement, activists and community leaders, as an attempt to get progress done in this area.
I think that the fact that there’s a conversation about it, and that there are tools out there that we know can make a difference in bridging those gaps of understanding and mistrust, should make us optimistic.
You know, when I was in the state Legislature in Illinois, I passed a racial-profiling bill. From the perspective of African-Americans, yeah, there was a common, you know, phenomenon called “driving while black” — that you were more likely to be stopped particularly in certain jurisdictions.
If you’d asked whites in those jurisdictions, “Do you think traffic stops were done fairly?” the majority of whites probably would say yes because it’s not something they experience. It’s not because of racism; it’s just that it’s not something that they see.
We were able to work with the police departments and the state police in Illinois and persuade them that they would be doing a better job policing if we just kept track so that we had data. And combined with training, suddenly those officers out there are more intentional about how they decide should I stop somebody or not. And the incidents of racial profiling went down.
The same is true with a lot of these issues. If you have good policing, I guarantee you that nobody’s interested more in good policing than African-American community or Latino community because they’re more likely to be victimized, if they’re in low-income communities, by crime.
And the task force that I’ve put together is drawing from police and faith community and civic leaders and activists — and what’s been striking to me in the conversations we’ve had is that they’re interested in solving a problem as opposed to simply stewing in the hopelessness of race relations in this country. And I’m convinced that we actually are going to see progress on this issue next year.
Thankfully, Obama didn’t shy away from Inskeep’s questions or give pat answers regarding a sensitive topic. It is apparent that Obama knows his place historically as the nation’s first black president and how he is looked to for answers regarding race relations in this country. He also seems very aware of the fact that many within the black community look to him to lead and provide guidance on certain issues that affect their members more than whites in this country. It was refreshing to see President Obama tackle the questions and provide legitimate and well-thought answers throughout the interview.

Bernie Sanders Slams The Trans-Pacific Partnership As A Disaster For Workers

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is speaking out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Vermont Senator listed ten ways that the TPP would harm working families.
In a statement, Sanders said,
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.

The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process.

Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system. If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.
Sanders also listed ten ways that the TPP with harm American workers:
1. TPP will allow corporations to outsource even more jobs overseas.

2. U.S. sovereignty will be undermined by giving corporations the right to challenge our laws
before international tribunals.

3. Wages, benefits, and collective bargaining will be threatened.
4. Our ability to protect the environment will be undermined.
5. Food Safety Standards will be threatened.
6. Buy America laws could come to an end.
7. Prescription drug prices will increase, access to life saving drugs will decrease, and the profits of
drug companies will go up.
8. Wall Street would benefit at the expense of everyone else.
9. The TPP would reward authoritarian regimes like Vietnam that systematically violate human

10. The TPP has no expiration date, making it virtually impossible to repeal.
The TPP is in direct conflict with the goal of rebuilding the middle class. TPP won’t create better jobs. It will export more jobs. Americans workers have been through this situation on a smaller scale with NAFTA. The American manufacturing sector has never recovered from NAFTA. There is a reason congressional Republicans are salivating at the chance to fast track TPP.
Wall Street and corporate America will benefit from the TPP while American workers will continue to suffer. The TPP and other trade agreements of their ilk undermine workers’ rights and the labor movement. Opposition to the TPP isn’t a liberal or a wingnut issue. It is a trade agreement for the benefit of corporations at the expense of everyone else.
Heading into 2015, the fight over the TPP is looming large over the future of America’s workers.

New Congress Dumping CBO Chief To Clear Way For Special repugican cabal Budget Math

The incoming leaders of the new repugican-controlled Congress have opted against reappointing Doug Elmendorf as head of the Congressional Budget Office, Bloomberg News reported Monday citing an "aide briefed on the decision." The move helps clear the way for so-called "dynamic scoring" -- a Holy Grail of wingnut repugican cabal budget wonks who don't like the way the costs of tax cuts are currently calculated.

Let’s Not Forget Democracy And Equality In The Income Inequality Debate

As we hopefully move forward in the national conversation on income inequality, we cannot lose sight of the relationship between our political and economic systems, and we must keep in the forefront of our national consciousness our chief ideal of achieving a democratic society.
These increases are unquestionably good news for low-wage employees without whose work the wealth of this nation, so inequitably distributed, could not be created. But, let’s be clear that the infinitesimal redistribution of wealth these legislative wage increases entail only barely narrow the mammoth wealth chasm in this country and do not come close—and are not intended to come close—to achieving any condition remotely resembling income equality. Rather, these increases make an inhumane economy less inhumane by helping the majority of ordinary working Americans meet their basic needs. Our current economy has as its primary objective the production of profit; meeting need is subsidiary. Thus, such legislation works to countervail an economic system whose internal logic will never bend toward economic justice.
Lest, though, we think these increases are some kind of charity, let’s also remember that by many accounts raising the minimum improves the economy overall—even for those resistant to such legislation—by creating a vibrant consumer in an economy driven overwhelmingly by consumer spending, increasing tax revenues which will allow federal, state, and local governments to undertake urgent infrastructure repairs vital to the economy, and decreasing people’s needs for government assistance which allows governments to redirect revenues to more developmental areas such as education. Thus, raising the minimum wage is, simply put, just sound economic policy.
Above all, let’s also remember, as Nobel Prize-winning economist and former leader of the World Bank Joseph Stiglitz underscores in his book The Price of Inequality, staggering income inequality such as we see in the U.S. is not only economically inefficient but also severely undermines democracy.
As we hopefully move forward in the national conversation on income inequality, we cannot lose sight of the relationship between our political and economic systems, and we must keep in the forefront of our national consciousness our chief ideal of achieving a democratic society. How we organize our economy and distribute and allocate resources can either facilitate or undermine a democratic socio-political culture. This effort enjoins, in part, interrogating the language we use to talk about and understand equality. Indeed, part of the difficulty of achieving political and social equality in this country lies in not just our inability to understand what constitutes equality but also in the fact that we have turned the meaning of the word in its head.
Often we hear in political rhetoric the phrase “equality of opportunity” standing in for the concept of equality. Christie, for example, in addressing the Economic Club of Chicago last February asserted that “the problem we have is an opportunity gap, not an income equality gap.” Christie, of course, on one level is simply foolish to deny the glaring obviousness of the wealth gap in this country and its deleterious impact on our economy, which even the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has recognized. On another level, Christie’s rhetoric is representative of the standard narrative of upward mobility I debunked in my first installment in this series, “How to Create Policies to Address Income Inequality?: De-Mythologize Upward Mobility.” As I argued, then, even if everyone in the U.S. achieved advanced degrees, as a society we still need people performing the necessary labor now categorized as “low-wage work.” The narrative of upward mobility or economic opportunity only masks and even legitimates gross economic inequality, offering people the hope of escaping “low-wage work” but not eliminating the social necessity of someone doing that work. Thus, I suggested, we need to change the way we value the necessary work people do to make our lives possible rather than ask people to increase their value.
The concept of equality of opportunity is actually antagonistic to democratic conceptions of social and political equality, enabling some to achieve economic and hence political dominance over others. Again, we need to focus on the relationship between political equality and economic equality, as in the age of Citizens United, all should be able to clearly discern how economic inequality entails political inequality.
To illustrate this point, consider the following two recent occurrences:
Last October 30 at a staged event in Belmar, New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, in a now infamous rant, berated former New Jersey city councilman and political organizer James Keady, who was protesting the Governor’s failure to disburse millions of dollars in Hurricane Sandy relief funds to homeowners and small businesses still suffering from the devastation even now over two years later. Christie all but ripped Keady a new one, excoriating him for seeking his fifteen minutes of fame before the cameras rather than being one of those, like supposedly Christie himself, who has been rolling up his sleeves and doing the actual work to address people’s misery when the cameras aren’t rolling. Not surprisingly, Christie had no idea that for the past two years Keady has been working on the ground helping as an organizer of an action group devoted to conveying unused relief funds to Sandy victims. Ironically, of course, Keady’s point, had Christie chosen to listen, was that Christie has not, in fact, been doing the work. Christie’s response? “Sit down, and shut up!”
Last November 13, Wal-Mart workers from throughout California did, in fact, “sit down, and shut up,” lining the aisles of a Wal-Mart in Crenshaw, California, donning across their mouths green tape over which was written “Strike” in black marker. Reminiscent of the first retail sit-down strike in Woolworth’s in 1937, the action dramatized the workers’ refusal to be silent despite Wal-Mart’s scare tactics as they organized to fight for a $15 per hour wage.
In the first instance, we see how Christie’s political dominance gives him economic control over dispensing public resources and also how this dominance enables him to disregard the process of deliberative democracy imagined by our founding fathers. In the second, we see workers resisting—and dramatizing–not just their economic marginalization but the way that economic marginalization has limited, if not outright silenced, their political voice and power.
In this age of Citizens United when we see the Koch brothers buying politicians and political power with their seemingly unlimited economic resources, availing themselves of what Greg Palast has called “the best democracy money can buy,” we need to recognize that when we are discussing income inequality we are not only talking about addressing the right of people who perform vital social labor to be able to meet their basic needs but also about preserving—or perhaps restoring–democracy itself. Let’s be careful about how we speak so we don’t glibly dismiss our quest for equality in favor of equal opportunity. If we speak falsely, we will find ourselves stripped of our democratic rights and told to sit down and shut up.

If Protesters Are Responsible For Officers’ Deaths, So Then Are The teabaggers

As the Mayor of New York spoke on behalf of the two officers who were gunned down by a mentally disabled man, the New York Police Officers collectively turned their backs in protest against the mayor because they felt that the officers’ death was some how connected to the protest against police brutality in New York.
Hundreds of officers turned their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio, because de Blasio was disturbed by the chokehold death of Eric Garner and grand jury acquittal. Many of the NYPD blame the protesters for enticing Ismaayil Brinsley of Baltimore to shoot the officers.
According to witnesses, Brinsley shot and killed officers: Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in response to the killing of Garner. Brinsley then ran away and killed himself. The anger of this led to squarely blaming protesters as well as to de Blasio for not supporting the police, and the ripple effect went across the nation to Los Angeles when retired LAPD officers did a parody of Jim Croce’s – Bad Bad Leroy Brown:
“Michael Brown learned a lesson
about a messin’ with a bad … police man
And he’s, bad, bad Michael Brown
Baddest thug in the whole darn town
Badder than an ol’ King Kong
Meaner than a junkyard dog
Two men took to fightin’
And Michael punched in through the door
and Michael looked like some old Swiss cheese
His brain was splatter on the floor.”
Yet there was relative silence when a couple out of Las Vegas, Nevada shot and killed two Nevada Police officers while eating lunch, according to Faux News.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said at a press conference Monday that one of the suspects, 31-year-old Jerad Miller, left a swastika and a Gadsden flag — which features a coiled snake with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” — on top of the body of Officer Alyn Beck, 41.
Jerad Miller also laid a note on the body of officer Igor Soldo, 31, that said “this is the beginning of the revolution,” McMahill said. Both officers were gunned down inside Cici’s Pizza Sunday during their lunch break.
Though an old story, the Teabaggers were never held responsible for the execution of the officers. Both Miller and his wife, Amanda, were connected to the wingnut teabagger movement and further actions and belief shows that they took the page right out of the Turner Diary, a lunatic fringe wingnut revolutionary diatribe about overthrowing the government and creating a white paradise. Timothy McVeigh also read the diary and blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in response to the Waco incident
Anger and racism seem to be part and parcel in today’s society. Yet attitudes change. The anger we see today by the NYPD union and its members will change come 2016, especially when the Congress is taken over by the repugican cabal. Many of the NYPD Officers will crawl back to de Blasio, especially when the Zadroga Act is about to be expired. What is the Zadroga Act? It’s the law that funds people who were sickened as well as the first responders whose health were devastated
The renewal of the bill will rely heavily on the members of Congress passing this bill as well as hard lobbying from Mayor de Blasio. Yet with the officers’ turning their backs on the one man who will work with them, after more than 150 repugicans voted no to fund the act, sure seems silly and downright counter to what the union supports.
When I was in the 9/11 truth movement, many sought to fund the First Responders and the people of New York, who were sickened by 9/11 dust. Back in 2011, 10 years after 9/11, President Obama signed to law the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act. This federal act helped paved the way for first responders as well as civilians in New York to receive medical care so they can leave a healthy and prosperous life.
Honestly? This was the answer to Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko, especially when he took some of the First Responders to Cuba for treatment. The repugicans were fuming, because their so-called heroes were dumped by the rnc in the dirt to die. As we have seen, the only good First Responders were the ones who died, killed by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda…not ones who survived.
This is why I feel, even when Mayor Bill de Blasio was booed and heckled while speaking at NYPD academy graduation, the officers will come back with their tails between their legs and demand that de Blasio support the refunding of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation law for their brothers and sisters.
Getting back to the protesters, are the protesters responsible for the death of the officers? If yes, then the teabaggers is responsible for the death of the two Las Vegas officers. If de Blasio wasn’t truly a liberal and truly care about his officers, then the NYPD would have no issue if the James Zadroga Act is not renewed and de Blasio should not have to then lobby Congress, to protect the people of New York as well as the NYPD Officers…well de Blasio cares but the police is making it harder, by the immaturity of those sworn to protect and defend the Constitution and the people.

Blame N.Y. Officers Deaths On Convicted Criminal With A Gun, Not Obama

There is a tendency among certain groups in America to assail anyone who fails to praise injustices against other Americans. Fundamentalist christians claim they are persecuted and criticize American opposition to religious repugicans forcing religion on the people, and now various law enforcement groups are condemning and blaming public officials and citizens for demanding justice for murdered and unarmed African Americans. It is telling that in America, when a criminal kills a law-abiding citizen, or a criminal kills a police officer they are held accountable and punished in the criminal justice system. However, as Americans have witnessed more and more,  when police kill citizens, especially unarmed African American citizens, no one is held accountable and failure to praise the killings is an outrage.
Sadly, just protesting or commenting on that simple truth makes one blameworthy for the tragic death of two New York City police officers. Apparently, if President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and protestors around the country had celebrated and praised police for killing unarmed African Americans, repugicans and law enforcement would have placed the blame where it belongs; the man with a long criminal history and a gun who murdered two police officers. It is telling that law enforcement failed to blame Obama, Holder, de Blasio, and protestors for the criminal shooting his girlfriend in Baltimore before going to New York, but she was likely African American.
First, Americans are not anti-law enforcement, they simply want accountability when police violate the public trust. However, in the same way religious fanatics claim they are under attack when they face criticism for pushing their pseudo-biblical beliefs on all Americans, law enforcement claims they are under attack when the people demand they are held accountable for killing unarmed African Americans. This idea that there is a concerted anti-law enforcement crusade guided by the President, Eric Holder, or in New York's case,  Mayor Bill de Blasio, is beyond absurd.

Random Celebrity Photos


Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno

Residents in Australia's Northern Territory paid almost $50,000 in fines for swearing last year

Residents in Australia's Northern Territory are a foul-mouthed lot who have been fined close to $50,000 for their poor vocabulary, according to new figures released by the NT Justice Department. Of the 3,388 summary infringement notices issued in the 2013-14 financial year, 461 were for using “offensive language”.
And Territorians’ loose tongues cost them $48,372 in fines. Territorians had a variety of reasons for swearing and for trying at times to keep it clean. “I find those words slip into my vocabulary even when they shouldn’t,” said local man Jack Bullen. “I think the heat contributes to people being more aggressive, but swearing isn’t really a sign of aggression. It’s more a communication tool.”
Mr Bullen, who has not yet been charged for using profanity in public, says there is a time and a place for it. “I can’t swear in front of my mum,” he said, later admitting that it does enter “most sentences” around friends. “When I’m working and people are paying me, (the cursing) goes down. I can control it when I’m paid to do so.” Some residents said they had no idea letting loose a foul-mouthed tirade could cost them a fine.
Others just didn’t give a shit. The Justice Department could not say how much of the $48,000 in swearing fines was actually paid. In 2012-13, a total of 605 people were issued infringements for bad language in the street - 482 were fined and 123 prosecuted. That was more than 30 per cent up on the previous financial year’s total of 412 people, with 298 fined and 114 taken to court. In 2011-12 just 352 people were fined or prosecuted, 390 in 2010-11 and 465 in 2009-10.

The death of Frederic Chopin

For years it has been presumed that Frederic Chopin died of tuberculosis - that's what it says on his death certificate.  But his cause of death is still being debated.
Chopin died in an apartment in Place Vendome, in Paris, on 17 October 1849, at the age of 39. France's greatest authority on tuberculosis had diagnosed him with the disease months earlier, and duly noted it as the cause on the death certificate.
But things then became less clear. The same doctor, Jean Cruveilhier, removed Chopin's heart and carried out an autopsy. Precisely what he recorded is not known - the notes he made were lost. However, reports suggest he referred to something other than TB, a "disease not previously encountered"...
Then in September, the debate appeared to be over. The forensic and genetic scientists who had gathered months earlier at the holy cross cult building in Warsaw for that unprecedented examination revealed their conclusions at a news conference. Chopin's heart was well preserved and bore "TB nodules" they reported. It was also "much enlarged, suggesting respiratory problems, linked to a lung disease"...

... the possibility remains that the heart re-interred in the pillar of the cult building in October 1945, amid patriotic celebration in the ruins of a devastated city, is not Chopin's.

The Mohegan Writings

DeathbedNarrativeResearchers discover historic Mohegan writings

During a recent visit to the archives of the Thomas Leffingwell House & Museum in Norwich, Connecticut, Paul Grant-Costa and Tobias Glaza of YIPP examined, at the suggestion of Leffingwell […]

Evil On Wheels

Top 10 Villain Cars Of All Time
Every villain is defined by their appetite. It's almost always something personal with a villain, and they'll pursue that thing relentlessly no matter how hellish the consequences to civilization. And since they're not the types to deny themselves what they want, they often have fantastic cars.
Most lists like this restrict themselves solely to movie and television villainy. Fiction is, after all, light fare. But there are too many real-life villains to blithely ignore. And the real life villains are much scarier than the made-up ones.

Secret Nazi nuclear weapons testing bunker unearthed in Austria

The secret weapons complex was found near Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria
The secret weapons complex was found near Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria (Herwig Prammer/Reuters)An underground weapons bunker built by Nazis to test nuclear and chemical weapons has been unearthed in Austria.
It was built using slave labor from the nearby Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. Austrian documentary filmmaker Andreas Sulzer noticed a reference to the subterranean site in the diary of an Austrian physicist recruited by the Nazis. The stronghold was located near the town of Sankt Georgen an der Gusen, and not far from the Bergkristall factory where the first operational jet-powered fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262, was invented. Footage from the previously-unearthed Bergkristall site is below.
From The Independent:
Its exact location was determined using intelligence reports and radiation tests, which revealed higher than normal levels of radioactivity.
Andreas Sulzer, the filmmaker who is leading the exploration, discovered a critical 1944 report by the forerunner to the CIA, from an American spy who noted the existence of a secret weapons program in the area.
Sulzer told the Sunday Times, “Prisoners from concentration camps across Europe were handpicked for their special skills--physicists, chemists or other experts--to work on this monstrous project and we owe it to the victims to finally open the site and reveal the truth.”
From the International Business Times:
It is believed that an estimated 320,000 inmates died building the labyrinth of concrete tunnels and shafts.
It is believed to be the location of a secret weapons programme, led by SS General Hans Kammler. Kammler is thought to have lived on the site during the war. Rumours continue to surround his death, with some suggesting he was given a new identity by the US government in exchange for details on Nazi weapons research.
The deadly V-2 rocket which struck at London during the final months of the World War II was tested at the complex. It is also thought that scientists experimented with the use of radioactive material and chemical gas.

Random Photos

Dong Wind And Rain Bridge

The famous Wind and Rain Bridge in Chengyang is considered to be the most beautiful and best preserved bridge and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are 108 such structures in Sanjiang County but this one is the ultimate symbol of the Dong minority people.
Built in 1916, the Wind and Rain Bridge spans the Linxi River and was constructed without nails or wood and stones. There are five tower-like kiosks on the bridge which are said to resemble the flapping wings of birds.

North Korea, South Korea: A Photographic Juxtaposition

Universities in North Korea (top photo) and South Korea 
North Korea and South Korea may be close geographically, but politically and culturally they are worlds apart. The communist, oppressive North Korea is marred by poverty, secrecy and stagnation. According to this BBC profile,
"Aid agencies have estimated that up to two million people have died since the mid-1990s because of acute food shortages caused by natural disasters and economic mismanagement. The country relies on foreign aid to feed millions of its people.

The totalitarian state also stands accused of systematic human rights abuses. Reports of torture, public executions, slave labour, and forced abortions and infanticides in prison camps have emerged. Amnesty International estimates that hundreds of thousands of people are held in detention facilities, in which it says that torture is rampant and execution commonplace." 
In stark contrast, South Korea is a wealthy, thriving capitalist society. German photographer Dieter Leistner's photo series, a juxtaposition of images of the two countries, illustrates the striking disparities between them. Leistner's photos well represent the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words."
See more photos from this collection in this article. Leistner's series, entitled "Korea--Korea," can be purchased in book form here.

Road leading outside Pyongyang, North Korean capital

Road leading outside Seoul, South Korea

Syria's cultural history being destroyed and looted

"A walnut tree stripped of its branches stands in the rubble of the Kalat al-Numan citadel, originally built during the Roman era some 2,000 years ago."
Res ipsa loquitur.  
But if you want more grim details about wartime destruction and looting, see the article at the Washington Post.

The Most Futuristic Predictions That Came True Last Year

As 2014 closed, it's time to reflect on the most futuristic breakthroughs and developments of the past year. Last year's crop features a slew of incredible technological, scientific, and social achievements, from mind-to-mind communication to self-guiding sniper bullets. Here are 15 predictions that came true in 2014.

The Most Amazing Science And Technology Images Of Last Year

Each week, Popular Science scours the web for the most amazing images from the realms of science and technology. They compiled their favorite visualizations, photographs, and illustrations - from the birth of planets 450 light years away to microscopic closeups from within a fruit fly's eye - into one place for your viewing pleasure.

Getting Hotter

The oceans are warming. In 2014, we continued to discover just how hot they are getting.

Long-haul flight delayed for six hours by mouse

A Qatar Airways flight from Spain to Doha was delayed for more than six hours after a mouse was discovered in the cabin.
The rogue rodent was spied upon landing, running down the aisle of the plane, causing alarm among passengers. The entire cabin had to be fumigated causing a delay of over six hours for passengers in Madrid’s Adolfo Su├írez Barajas airport, who were waiting to board.
There were long queues at the airline’s customer services desk after many passengers missed their connections to Thailand, Singapore and Bali because of the tiny animal. The flight was due to take off at 3pm local time, but after the mouse was discovered running down the aisle, it was over six hours late.
The company has said it will pay any of the costs incurred as a result of the delay. Once the plane landed, the fumigation process took place and the dead mouse was found. But security protocol meant Qatar Airways had to wait a certain amount of time before they could board their next flight, to prevent passengers from inhaling the fumigation fumes.

RIP A Ho the hippo

A Ho the hippo in Taiwan sadly died on Monday after suffering two accidents last week, once when he jumped from a moving truck and again when his container was dropped as he was being returned to his pond. A Ho, named after the Chinese word for hippo Ho Ma, was found dead in the pond at a farm in central Taichung city.
Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji has slammed A Ho's owner, the head of a private ranch, for what he said was carelessness in transporting the animal and, while a post-mortem will be performed on the mammal to determine the exact cause of death, the government is considering prosecuting the hippo's owner.
"The city government has asked prosecutors to look into the case," Chen Ming-hui, a local official, said, adding that the ranch has been ordered to come up with a plan to improve the management of the rest of animals being kept there. The initial result of the autopsy performed in Taipei Zoo linked the tragedy to the first fall, which crushed the beast’s diaphragm. The owner could face a jail term of up to a year under the island's animal protection law.

The first of the accidents happened on Friday when the panicked hippo jumped from the truck he was being transported in, breaking a leg. Then, when the hippo was being taken back to the farm for treatment of its injuries, the cable on a hoist broke and the animal's container crashed to the ground from a height of two meters. "The animal was not properly protected during the transportation process, leading to its injuries. What's worse, it had not received due medical treatment the last two days," said Chu Tseng-hung, the head of the non-profit Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan.

Alcoholic cane toad found wedged in beer bottle holder

A possibly alcoholic cane toad was found tightly wedged into a stubby holder by Ken Brodie of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory.
Mr Brodie said he had invited some old mates that he hadn’t seen in more than 40 years over for a few drinks. His son pointed out the bizarre sight the next morning.
It’s not unusual to stumble upon cane toads hiding in buckets and shoes in the Top End but Mr Brodie said he had never seen such a spectacle. “Maybe there was a little dribble of beer left over in there,” he said.
“Maybe it was the bad singing, I don’t know. I did actually go and release him.” Mr Brodie said the tubby critter looked relatively unscathed when freed. “His eyes were spinning around a bit but other than that he was all right,” he said.

Animal Pictures