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

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Daily Drift

Editor's Note: Tomorrow's postings will be made around midday local time instead of midnight due to commitments of the staff here as noted in the last editorial.
Hey, wingnuts, you won't distract us  ...!
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Today in History

1477   Swiss troops defeat the forces under Charles the Bold of Burgundy at the Battle of Nancy.  
1815   Federalists from all over New England, angered over the War of 1812, draw up the Hartford Convention, demanding several important changes in the U.S. Constitution.  
1861   The merchant vessel Star of the West sets sail from New York to Fort Sumter, in response to rebel attack, carrying supplies and 250 troops.  
1904   American Marines arrive in Seoul, Korea, to guard the U.S. legation there.
1914   Henry Ford astounds the world as he announces that he will pay a minimum wage of $5 a day and will share with employees $10 million in the previous year's profits.  
1917   Bulgarian and German troops occupy the Port of Braila.  
1919   British ships shell the Bolshevik headquarters in Riga.  
1920   repugican women demand equal representation at the repugican national coven in June.  
1921   Wagner's "Die Walkyrie" opens in Paris. This is the first German opera performed in Paris since the beginning of World War I.  
1923   The U.S. Senate debates the benefits of Peyote for the American Indian.  
1925   Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming is sworn in as the first woman governor in the United States.  
1936   Daggha Bur, Ethiopia, is bombed by the Italians.  
1942   U.S. and Filipino troops complete their withdrawal to a new defensive line along the base of the Bataan peninsula.  
1947   Great Britain nationalizes its coal mines.  
1951   Inchon, South Korea, the sight of General Douglas MacArthur's amphibious flanking maneuver, is abandoned by United Nations force to the advancing Chinese Army.  
1952   Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Washington to confer with President Harry S. Truman.  
1968   U.S. forces in Vietnam launch Operation Niagara I to locate enemy units around the Marine base at Khe Sanh.  
1969   Pretender Richard M. Nixon appoints Henry Cabot Lodge as negotiator at the Paris Peace Talks.  
1971   Pretender Richard M. Nixon names Robert Dole as chairman of the repugican national cabal.
1982   A Federal judge voids a state law requiring balanced classroom treatment of evolution and creationism.  
1991   The South Ossetia War (1991-92) begins as Georgian forces enter Tskhinvali, capital of South Ossetia, Georgia.  
2005  Eris, largest known dwarf planet in the Solar System is discovered in images taken Oct. 21, 2003, at Palomar Observatory.

New Laws That Take Effect in 2015

"It's the law" is a phrase uttered by authority figures everywhere. At times, laws can cause public controversy. Sometimes a lack of laws against certain acts can cause a furor when those acts are committed and condemned in the court of public opinion. Occasionally we hear of odd, archaic laws that are still on the books, though rarely enforced. Such examples are often legislation that seems so odd, it's hard to wrap our brains around it coming into existence.
Whether residents of these states like it or not, there are a number of laws that went into effect with the change of year to 2015. In Massachusetts, residents are now able to order wine online from wineries in other states. Before that law was effective, Massachusetts residents were banned from ordering from approximately 98% of all wine producers. Cheers, Massachusetts!In New York, all residents must now recycle their old computers and other unwanted tech toys, or they're subject to a $100 fine. More importantly, also in New York, selfies with big cats such as tigers are now banned. Who knows how many lives that legislation will touch? Hopefully the backlash won't result in social unrest.
Read about more laws that became effective in 2015 here. 

Bernie Sanders Flexes His Muscles By Introducing Bill To Create 13 Million New Jobs

Sen. Bernie Sanders is using his new position as the top Democratic caucus member on the Senate Budget Committee to push a new bill that he will introduce to the new Congress that will create 13 million jobs by rebuilding the nation’s bridges and roads.
Here are the details via Sen. Sanders,
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today will introduce legislation when the new session of Congress convenes this month to authorize a $1 trillion, multi-year program to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges and invest in other infrastructure modernization projects.

The investment not only would begin to address a growing backlog of badly-needed repairs, it also would put 13 million Americans to work at decent-paying jobs, according to Sanders, who will take over this month as the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“America once led the world in building and maintaining a nationwide network of safe and reliable bridges and roads. Today, nearly a quarter of the nation’s 600,000 bridges have been designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Let’s rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Let’s make our country safer and more efficient. Let’s put millions of Americans back to work,” Sanders said.
“There are a number of repugicans who understand that it is vitally important that we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.”
Sen. Sanders was correct. Infrastructure spending is one of the areas where there is considerable agreement among Democrats and a group of repugicans in the House and Senate. There are two hurdles that an infrastructure spending bill will have to overcome. The lunatic fringe in the House and Senate who refuse to spend money on anything other than benefits for the wealthy and corporations, and the second problem is that infrastructure bills always face is that every members of Congress wants something for their district or state.
Infrastructure bills tend to get bogged down in the politics of who gets what. If Congress could agree on a bill that would only fix the nation’s bridges and roads, there would be enough benefit to reach across the country. Sen. Sanders is proposing a bill that would fix the nation’s vital infrastructure. The legislation would also create millions of jobs and send the growing economy skyrocketing.
Sanders is going to have a stronger say in the new Congress. Some may look at this bill as the Vermont Senator showcasing his agenda for a potential 2016 presidential campaign, but Bernie Sanders strongly believes in the benefits of infrastructure spending. He has been championing this type of legislation for years.
What Boehner and McConnell do about issues like infrastructure spending will signal how serious they are about governing. What is certain though is that liberals will have a loud voice in the new Congress, and Bernie Sanders will be leading the charge to create millions of new middle-class jobs.

Dick Cavett Perfectly Sums Up Why We Despise Ayn Rand… And Why the wingnuts Love Her

by T. Steelman
Some of you youngsters might not know who Dick Cavett is. That’s a shame. Cavett is one of the best interviewers in America. He had a talk show many years ago which was must-see TV for any thinking person. Cavett was an unabashed liberal and often had like-minded guests on his show for intelligent, deep conversation. Sure, he would have celebrities like Debbie Reynolds, Groucho Marx (a favorite who was on many times) and John Wayne on the show — which ran in various incarnations from 1968-1995 — but he also hosted people like Shirley Chisolm, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Abbie Hoffman, J.K. Galbraith and NYC Mayor Ed Koch. Taking a look at the guest list for his over 3000 shows is like reading a who’s who of the latter 20th century.
On Cavett’s website, there is a page detailing some memorable moments from his shows over the years. Things like the Woodstock show, with Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell. And the time former Georgia governor Lester Maddox walked off the show when Cavett refused to apologize to Maddox’s satisfaction about calling the people who voted for the governor “bigots.” Cavett hosted a debate about the Vietnam War in 1971 with a young John Kerry (anti) and John E. O’Neill (pro) who later founded Swiftboat Veterans for Truth. If you have some time and are interested in seeing history makers talking about history, check out Cavett’s website.
Cavett enjoyed having authors on his show. Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote visited many times and Cavett would have new authors on his show as well. He enjoyed giving them a platform to talk about their books. One author Cavett did not host was Ayn Rand.
In a recent interview with Elon Green for the New Yorker magazine — Cavett is a proud New Yorker — the topic roamed into books; reading them, writing them, good ones, bad ones, all the ones we will never have time to read… and ones that waste your time. Cavett puts Ayn Rand’s books into this last category. He had this to say about Ms. Rand:
CAVETT: … You can piss away valuable hours of your life reading Ayn Rand—her wretched appeal to the young, her wretched writing, her wretched person.
She was supposed to be on my show; I was kind of sorry she wasn’t, because I was kind of laying for her. I did not succumb, as a kid, to being enthused by Ayn Rand, and that sense of power, as every kid was at one time until they outgrew it. The old bag sent over a list of fifteen conditions for appearing with me, or for appearing with anyone, I guess. One of them was, ‘There will be no disagreeing with Ms. Rand’s philosophy.’
GREEN: You’re kidding.
CAVETT: No! I wrote at the bottom of the list, to be sent back to her, ‘There will be no Ms. Rand, either.'”
Now, that’s the way you handle an ideologue. Can you imagine? Apparently, Ms. Rand’s philosophy was so tenuous that she could not be challenged on it. Were she alive today, she’d be a regular guest on Faux News. Couldn’t you just see her and Karl Rove hitting it off, gleefully attacking the poor, elderly, sick or anyone else who needs our help?
There’s a great quote about Rand’s books:
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” — [Kung Fu Monkey — Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009] ― John Rogers
Today’s repugican cabal has never let go of that childish fantasy. Ayn Rand’s selfish Objectivist philosophy has become the calling card of the wingnuts and it’s not only hurting them, it’s hurting the entire country. It’s past time we said to them what Dick Cavett did; “There will be no Ms. Rand.”

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Gene Tierney
Gene Tierney

If It Wasn’t For 9/11, repugicans Would Be Obsolete

by Ryan Denson
Consider the shrub, Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani, and Ann Coulter. What do they all have in common, besides the fact they are rabid wingnuts who have contributed nothing positive to our country? They all became more prominent, and held higher power and prestige after the September 11, 2001 attacks. While America picked up the pieces of that terrible day, they rose above it all to become the mitochondria of the right.
Because of those horrific attacks (which were the result of repugican-led negligence):
1. The shrub’s popularity soared to 90%, setting the stage for two wars and another election, theft which was centered around combating global terrorism to prevent “another 9/11.”
2. Dick Cheney launched a war on morality and international law with the use of torture, all in the name of preventing another 9/11. Now our national standing is forever stained.
3. Rudy Giuliani “united” New York City after 9/11, catapulting him into the national spotlight as a conservative hero against terrorism. Now, Giuliani has rendered himself irrelevant with his race-baiting and paranoia. Because of his fame from 9/11, we will be stuck with him until the day he dies.
4. Ann Coulter became internationally “relevant” with her “invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to christianity” comments regarding muslims. She also took it upon herself to make fun of the 9/11 widows who she thinks are “enjoying their husband’s deaths so much.” Like Giuliani, she has rendered herself irrelevant.
All of these repugicans rose in the ranks of national prominence because of 9/11. Their careers benefited because they kept a tight grip on America with constant fear-mongering and rising nationalism. In their mantra, if you dissented against them, you were a traitor and a terrorist sympathizer. They kept getting stealing elections and they kept getting their spots on TV because people were frightened. The American people wanted to be reassured that 9/11 would never happen again, and the ones who were the best at post-9/11 propaganda were the repugicans.
Because of 9/11, repugicans were back in business, and for a long time. As the United States naturally becomes more progressive with a younger population and an influx of forward-thinking immigrants, the repugican cabal would be obsolete if it wasn’t for that terrible September day.
Speaking of immigrants, you can thank post-9/11 repugicans for our flawed and stagnated immigration system. Because of their propaganda surrounding foreigners, we needed to put more money in the border, send everyone back, and close our borders because of “terrorism.” Yes, the two middle aged parents with their three small children fleeing Mexico are in the same boat as ISIL and the cartels, according to the repugican cabal. If they were brown, they weren’t welcome. If you’re not white, you might as well be a terrorist. This rise in latent racist nationalism continues today, even as President Obama uses his executive authority to fix our broken immigration system. It’s no wonder why so many wingnuts are hostile to anyone foreign.
The events also beautifully lined the pockets of the repugican cabal (and almost bankrupted the country) with their two wars to “fight” terrorism, which greatly benefited their political machine. And why wouldn’t you be for the war? If you weren’t for “getting the terrorists,” you supported 9/11. The repugicans actually had us convinced there for awhile. According to Gallup Polling, between March 2003 to July 2005, the majority of Americans supported sending our troops to Iraq. After that, America quickly grew war weary.
But now here we are, 14 years after those terrible attacks and the repugican cabal thinks they’re making a comeback. Cheney and Giuliani are appearing on almost every Sunday show, spewing their “we gotta’ get the terrorists” shrieking points. Wingnuts are still listening to them, even though they have been conclusively proven wrong.
September 11, 2001 was the worst day for our nation. But it was the best day for the repugican cabal. It wasn’t the attack itself that ruined us. It was the response, and the fear, in the long run, that ruined us.

The Senate's 46 Democrats got 20 million more votes than its 54 repugicans

by Dylan Matthews
On Tuesday, 33 US senators elected in November will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden — including 12 who are new to the chamber. The class includes 22 repugicans and 11 Democrats, a big reason why the repugican cabal has a 54-46 majority in the Senate overall.
But here's a crazy fact: those 46 Democrats got more votes than the 54 repugicans across the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections. According to Nathan Nicholson, a researcher at the voting reform advocacy group FairVote, "the 46 Democratic caucus members in the 114th Congress received a total of 67.8 million votes in winning their seats, while the 54 repugican caucus members received 47.1 million votes."
Here's what that looks like in chart form:
This doesn't mean that the repugican majority is illegitimate or anything like that. Indeed, after 2008 and 2012, the tables were turned: Democrats had more Senate seats than their vote share suggested they should. The problem isn't that the deck is stacked in favor of repugicans. The problem is that the deck is stacked in favor of small states, which receive equal representation in the Senate despite dramatic variance in population. The Senate is a profoundly anti-democratic body and should be abolished.

The shrub's brother Doesn’t Stand a Chance at Becoming President

The repugicans are Delusional
by Allen Clifton
I remember back in November of 2013, just after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had won re-election, how he was the toast of the town. Polls showed him as the clear front-runner for the 2016 repugican cabal pretender ticket and even some had him ahead of Democratic heavyweight Hillary Clinton.
At that moment, it was almost a sure bet that Christie was going to be the repugican cabal darling of 2016.
Then the bridge scandal hit and that pretty much put an end to all of that nonsense. But since that time, repugicans have desperately been looking for anyone to “take that lead” as someone they can get behind for a probable 2016 pretender bid.
Granted, there’s been the usual suspects like Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, but none of those clowns really stands a chance. Paul has more appeal than Cruz or Huckabee, but being “better than Cruz or Huckabee” doesn’t really say a whole lot. Then you have the other probable candidates that really stand no chance, like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Scott Walker or Faux News contributor Ben Carson. I like to refer to those types as comedic fodder once the repugican cabal pretender debates get going.
And until recently Mitt Romney has been “leading” many polls. Yes, the same Mitt Romney from 2012 who ran one of the most embarrassing campaigns in modern political history. You know repugicans are desperate when Mitt Romney is leading a list of potential pretender candidates for 2016.
But now the shrub's brother has sprung onto the scene and seems all but certain to be ready to throw his proverbial hat into the 2016 pretender ring. It makes sense; he was governor of Florida so they think he can carry a key swing state, he’s married to a Hispanic so they think he can lure in some of the Latino vote, and he has name recognition which is huge in politics.
Though there’s just one key element repugicans seem to be missing: The American people have had enough of the shrub's family.
Let’s think about this realistically for a moment. His daddy failed to get re-elected and his brother the shrub never got the popular vote in one of his 'elections' and left office with one of the lowest approval ratings of any pretender in U.S. history.
So it’s not as if the American people are in love with the shrub's family. Besides, his own mother essentially said she doesn’t think he should become pretender.
And do repugicans really think that on the ballot box if the two last names they have to choose from are Clinton and the shrub's brother, that they’re going to choose the shrub's brother?
Then there’s the most recent poll Gallup did on the shrub's brother last summer showing the former Florida governor with a favorability rating of 31 percent.
Though I’m sure that number has inched up some with the popular press he’s been getting from many within the wingnut media. But still, a favorability rating of 31 percent is pretty bad for someone who’s not currently even in office.
And maybe I’m way off on this, but I just can’t see the American people electing another shrub whose only political experience is being governor of a state and son to the shrub's daddy. Because last time we did that, it didn’t work out so well for us.
Then it’s not as if the repugican cabal really wants him to run, they’re just desperate. They’re almost certain Hillary is going to announce her candidacy sometime this year, and they’re looking for anyone to put up a respectable fight against her because almost none of the candidates they have “on deck” stand a snowball’s chance in hell at even coming close.
But when it’s all said and done, he doesn’t stand a chance. The shrub’s tainted legacy is still lingering in this country, and has almost all but ruined the family name in the immediate future. Two more years isn’t going to wash that away. In fact, his candidacy will only bring it back to the surface.
There’s a reason why almost no current repugicans have been eager to embrace anything they did during the shrub's junta or hoist the former pretender up alongside them on the campaign trail.
And while almost all other repugicans can avoid the shrub’s legacy like the plague if they want to, his brother  won’t have that luxury. The stench of his brother’s failure, and all of the horrible things that happened during those eight years, will haunt the shrub's brother throughout his entire campaign.

David Duke Threatens To Expose Other Politicians With White Supremacist Ties

by Paige Lavender
Former Klansman and congressional candidate David Duke discusses his bid for the seat opened by Rep. Bob Livingston during NBC's ''Meet the Press'' March 28, 1999 in Washington, DC. (photo by Richard Ellis)Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke issued a warning to Republicans who have criticized Steve Scalise r-La.) for speaking to a white nationalist group in 2002, saying they "better be looking over their shoulders."
In an interview with Fusion, Duke said he has ties to politicians on both sides of the aisle, and he is ready to release names if criticism of Scalise continues:
Overall, Duke was rather flabbergasted by the new focus on Scalise. He said he has hosted both Democratic and Republican legislators at everything from conferences to his children’s birthday parties. He said he has met with Democratic legislators at least 50 times in his political life.
And he delivered a warning to both repugicans and Democrats: Treat Scalise fairly, and don’t try to make political hay out of the situation. Or he said he would be inclined to release a list of names of all the politicians — both repugicans and Democrats — with whom he has ties.
“If Scalise is going to be crucified — if repugicans want to throw Steve Scalise to the woods, then a lot of them better be looking over their shoulders,” Duke said.
Scalise has struggled to distance himself from Duke since a Louisiana blogger revealed earlier this week that the repugican had associated with the former KKK Grand Wizard and had spoken to a group Duke founded, the European-American unity and rights cabal, in 2002.
"I didn't know who all of these groups were, and I detest any kind of hate group," Scalise said on Monday.
Peter Wehner, a former adviser to the shrub, said the news about Scalise's 2002 speech is "acidic for the repugican cabal." But repugican cabal leaders -- including John Boehner (r-Ohio) and Kevin McCarthy (r-Calif.) -- are standing by Scalise amid the controversy.
Of course you know this means the criticism should increase and let the asshat 'release' the names ... it will just make it easier to get rid of them. 

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We Must Stop Allowing Lunatic Fringe wingnut christians to Dumb Down and Radicalize This Country

by Allen Clifton
They believe that “dog speaks to them,” that laws should be taken from religion, that homosexuality is a sin, that women shouldn’t have control over their own bodies and that all other religions besides theirs are wrong.
Oh, I’m talking about islamic radicals, not wingnut christians.  Though I could see how someone might confuse the two.  They do have striking similarities.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
Especially when you consider that many wingnut christians loathe muslims – all muslims.  See, to a good deal of them, all muslims are “islamic radicals.”  Though I’m sure many of them are unaware that there are more muslims found in south and southeast Asia than the Middle East.  But I doubt many of them are “alerted” by someone they meet from Indonesia.
And while islamic radicals do pose a threat to the United States, mostly from afar, wingnut christians pose a threat to this country domestically.
These people, empowered by the teabaggers in the last few years, are doing everything they can to dumb down this country and turn it into some kind of theocracy.
Instead of having debates on how to combat climate change, we’re stuck trying to convince tens of millions of people that dog didn’t use a tornado to “punish” sinners.  Instead of figuring out how to make the United States a world leader in math and science, we’re debating whether or not the story of Noah’s ark should be in the chapter following the mapping of human DNA in science books.  Instead of embracing some of the most educated and intelligent among us, millions of Americans would rather listen to a bearded redneck from backwoods Louisiana tell them how the United States needs to be more “dogly.”  And somehow “being dogly” seems to mostly revolve around a strong disdain for homosexuals.
It’s absurd.
When we have a debate about science in this country we shouldn’t have to spend time debating someone who thinks the Flintstones is a documentary, believing that humans and dinosaurs roamed the Earth together just a few thousand years ago.  But that’s exactly what we’re having to do.
The vast majority of the world’s scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, a fact that’s really indisputable at this point.  Well, unless you’re one of the christian wingnuts who believes that dog determines the weather or ridiculously tries to claim that the world is cooling – not warming.  That’s the funny thing about a lot of these climate deniers.  Half of them admit that the world is warming but say that it’s “natural,” while the other half tries to claim that the world is actually getting colder.
Meanwhile nearly every climate scientist, and most people who actually believe in science, think both groups are complete idiots.
The same goes for our Constitution.  These people continue to claim that this nation was founded on christianity, yet the word “christian” doesn’t appear even once in our entire Constitution.
And no, pointing out the reference to “the creator” in the Declaration of Independence doesn’t “prove” that this is a christian nation.  These people don’t seem to understand that the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are two completely different things.
And let’s face it, when it comes to homosexuality, if they had their way it would be illegal – just like it is in many muslim countries.
I often get emails from conservatives telling me that I don’t “show them any respect” in my articles. And they’re right. I used to, but I can’t anymore. Not too long ago I actually engaged in far more debates with conservatives than I do now. But many of the ones I encountered had become so ridiculous that I simply couldn’t take them seriously any longer.
When I say to someone, “Well, essentially every astrophysicist agrees that (fill in the scientific fact)” and their response is, “Well, the bible says…” I usually just toss my hands up in the air and walk away.  To me, that’s like discussing something in English with someone who only speaks Chinese. We’re not going to get anywhere because we’re not speaking the same language.
But the thing that bugs me most about their ignorance isn’t that they believe in this nonsense, it’s that their stupidity is taking the United States down with them.  While the rest of the world is pumping out more engineers and scientists, we have tens of millions of people who believe getting an education is tantamount to “liberal indoctrination.”
They literally believe that education has a “liberal bias” essentially because facts don’t often support their ideology.  To most people, that might lead them to question whether or not what they believe is accurate. But not to wingnuts. Oh, no. To them, if facts don’t corroborate their ideology, the facts are wrong or biased.
And they’re only getting worse.  But miraculously they’ve managed to do one thing: They’ve added a new kink in the theory of evolution by somehow managing to get dumber over time, not smarter.

Koch Brothers Call Rolling Stone Reporter A Liar, Receive Word Flogging Of The Century

In September 2014, Rolling Stone published an exposé detailing the extent of the Koch brothers’ “toxic empire.” Tim Dickinson’s 9,000-word piece showed the reach of the Kochs’ influence, both politically and in the business world, and shined what was apparently a very uncomfortable light on Koch Industries’ dealings.
In short, it was an epic smack down to which Charles and David Koch did not take kindly (when do they ever?). They replied a whole day later, and Tim Dickinson took the opportunity to, once again, smack them down.
What, exactly, did the Koch Brothers say? You can read their whole response here, of course, but here are the highlights:
  • They felt Dickinson was simply “checking off a box” that would allow him to say he’d tried to get their perspective on things, and that he didn’t make a good-faith effort to speak with them;
  • They felt Rolling Stone portrayed them dishonestly before, and were skeptical of talking to Dickinson in the first place;
  • They feel that Dickinson was merely regurgitating information he found in other articles that were unfair, unbalanced, and generally hostile to Koch Industries;
  • They claim that he ignored and refused to comment on nearly all of the information they furnished.
Dickinson, for his part, wrote a rebuttal to their rebuttal, which Rolling Stone published on Sept. 29, 2014. He said that, beginning on Sept. 4, Rolling Stone tried to engage the Koch brothers in “a robust discussion” of various issues. They were unable to get in personal touch with either Charles Koch or with Ilia Bouchouev, who heads Koch Industries’ derivatives trading division.
They did, however, get in touch with Mark Holden, the Koch brothers’ chief counsel, though he would only talk through email.
Dickinson once reported for Faux News, and even with that on his résumé, he says he’s never encountered anybody as paranoid as the Koch brothers.
Holden accused him of having what’s known as “an opposition research dump,” which supposedly showed that Dickinson was not acting in good faith.
Dickinson also didn’t ignore the Koch brothers’ information. In fact, he says that the background info they gave him informed his reporting considerably. However, according to his piece, they also attempted to re-litigate cases that the courts (and the Senate, in one case) had long since decided. As far as Dickinson is concerned, once cases are closed, they are closed. The Kochs apparently don’t agree.
He addresses the bullet points in the Kochs’ rebuttal one at a time. Long story short, Dickinson says the following:
  • He believes that the Koch brothers are upset because he didn’t do their PR for them;
  • Koch Industries, despite its awards and supposed record on what they think is environmental stewardship, is still one of America’s top polluters according to the facts;
  • They did pollute the town of North Pole, Alaska, in that they didn’t work to fix the leak or clean up the spill plume;
  • The Kochs claim that Dickinson never asked to speak to anybody involved in their trading and derivatives, which isn’t true, and is explained earlier in the piece;
  • Much of the piece dealt with the history of Fred Koch and Koch Industries, including court cases and reversals, which, for some reason, Koch found to be contradictory.
The Koch brothers tend to act utterly butthurt whenever anybody in the media paints them in a negative light. They once sent a letter, along with a script, to Rachel Maddow after she put them in a very negative light. Rachel Maddow may be inflammatory, but she also has a long history of issuing on-air corrections and retractions when she and her team get something wrong.
In that case, the Koch brothers wanted her to not only retract her story in the face of legal threats, but they also wanted her to read a script, on the air, that they had drafted. She refused to do it, and explained, on the air, that she wasn’t issuing any retractions or corrections because the reporting was accurate. She said she “didn’t play requests.”
The same is true of Tim Dickinson’s original article; the reporting itself is accurate. The Koch brothers just don’t like it, and would rather the media talk them up like the benevolent kings we’re sure they wish everyone thought of them as. Dickinson’s reply puts them in their place a second time.

Kansas Governor Is Forcing Disabled People Off Medicaid

by Carl Gibson
Sam BrownbackThe wingnut experiment in Sam Brownback’s Kansas has led to more suffering across the board — not just for the state’s economy, but for people with disabilities who are losing life-sustaining services.
At the time of his inauguration, Brownback was touted by fellow repugicans as a model example of what wingnut governance nationwide could look like. While he promised to rejuvenate the state’s economy by slashing the state’s top income tax rate by 26 percent, his fiscal policy has instead blown an $800 million hole in the state budget, downgraded the state’s bond rating, and slowed job growth to a much lower rate than the national average. Brownback, once thought to be a strong contender for the 2016 repugican pretender nomination.These tax cuts have been devastating for Kansas’ disabled population.
Since Brownback’s inauguration, 1,414 Kansans with disabilities have been forced off of the Medicaid physical disability (PD) waiver. In January of 2013, Brownback became the first governor to fully privatize Medicaid services, claiming he would save the state $1 billion in 5 years without having to cut services, eligibility, or provider payments. Now, under Brownback’s “KanCare,” PD waiver cases are handled by for-profit, out-of-state, Fortune 500, publicly-traded managed care services. Kansas has contracts with three managed care profiteers — United Healthcare, Sunflower State Health Plan (owned by Centene Corporation), and AmeriGroup. Amerigroup and Centene each gave $2,000, Kansas’ maximum allowed contribution, to Brownback’s re-election campaign.
“They wanted to cut my full-time care hours by 76 percent, which all three of my doctors said was totally unrealistic,” said Finn Bullers, a disability rights advocate who suffers from muscular dystrophy, uses a wheelchair, has type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes, and requires a ventilator in his throat to breathe. “Essentially, they wanted three out of every four hours to go away.”
“Often, these are not optional services,” said Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Kansas Disability Rights Center. “These are life-sustaining services like properly caring for and cleaning out feeding tubes, colostomy bags, and other devices so people don’t die, transferring the person with a mobility impairment from the chair so they can toilet, assisting with the critical and life-sustaining activities of daily living that most of us take for granted. These are basic human needs, not optional wants.”
But Brownback’s claims of savings without risking patient eligibility is mere sleight of hand when taking a closer look at the numbers. When Kansas experienced a $217 million revenue shortfall in April of 2014, Brownback actually broke a promise made to the federal government as to how many people with disabilities would be served. When applying to launch the KanCare program, the Brownback junta originally promised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services it would accommodate 7,874 people on the PD waiver, according to numbers from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. After the first revenue shortfall, Brownback changed that number to 5900 – nearly a 25 percent cut in services amounting to $26 million.
Just before Brownback’s inauguration, Kansas served 6,752 people on the PD waiver. More than 2,000 people with disabilities were added just in the last decade as a result of more advanced healthcare and disabled people living longer lives. However, the gradual uptick in new enrollees stopped abruptly once Brownback took over. According to this chart, over 1,400 disabled Kansans were dropped from the waiver between 2010 and 2014, with a sharp decline in 2014, coinciding directly with the revenue shortfalls resulting from the recent tax cuts.
“It is mind-boggling to think that in 2004, just ten years ago, there were 4,527 people on the waiver… It grew to 6,752, and it’s been in a death spiral ever since then,” Nichols said. “That cannot be an accident. There is just no way you can have, year after year, for four years in a row, those types of reductions in the number of people served.”
According to one state elected official, the sudden drop-offs could easily be traced back to Brownback’s tax cuts and privatization agenda. State Senator Laura Kelly, ranking member of the public health and welfare committee, said it’s no coincidence that the physically disabled are having life-sustaining services cut with the inception of KanCare and the drops in state revenues.
“I think it’s hard to divorce the tax cuts from anything that’s happening in Kansas’ state government,” Sen. Kelly said.
If Brownback’s income tax plan is to be fully realized and the state of Kansas has a 3.9 percent income tax rate by 2018, Kansas will have lost $5 billion in tax revenue. To put that in perspective, Kansas currently operates on a $6 billion state budget. Advocates like Bullers say if state revenues continue to plummet, so will the number of people on the PD waiver.
“I don’t want to use hyperbole, but a lot of people die when these policies get implemented,” Bullers said.
Bullers, a former 15-year veteran reporter for the Kansas City Star and father of two, fought from the time of his managed care review in January of 2013 all the way to New Years Eve of 2013 for his full-time care to be restored. He used his status as a public figure in Kansas to organize awareness campaigns in both traditional and social media, and even arranged a meeting with Brownback. Bullers said he “got really pissed off” at Brownback’s response to a question he asked about not having a home care provider available if his ventilator came loose, stopping air from getting into his lungs.
“He said, ‘Just go over to your neighbor’s house and they’ll put it back on for you,’” Bullers said. “I mean, here’s the governor of the state of Kansas, telling me that, you know, your life isn’t worth it, that it’s okay if you die and leave two small children without a father.”
A 2006 Rolling Stone profile of then-U.S. Senator Brownback referred to him as “dog’s Senator,” in reference to Brownback’s outspokenness about his 'christian' delusion. But Bullers described Gov. Brownback as “vengeful” and “hypocritical,” saying Brownback didn’t adhere to Jesus’ teachings about caring for the poor and the sick.
“We hear all the time about his ‘family values’ and how he’s a cultgoer,” Bullers said. “You just have to ask yourself where the Golden Rule plays into all this.”
As of mid-October, Brownback has left $350 million on the table in Medicaid assistance from the federal government as a result.
“He would rather have people suffer than capitulate and admit the president didn’t do such a bad job,” Bullers said.

Aw, Hell ...


Recycling Penicillin

When the first antibiotic, penicillin, was new, it was a very precious commodity. Pharmacologists had to grow an enormous amount of mold to produce even one dose. And considering World War II was raging, the need was enormous, too. But scientists had an ace up their sleeves: they knew that penicillin could be recycled, by collecting a patient’s urine!
After one administration of injected penicillin, anywhere from 40 to 99 percent of the antibiotic is excreted in urine in its fully functional form about 4 hours after administration thanks to our efficient and hardworking kidneys (2). Due to this distinct feature of its pharmacokinetics, penicillin could be extracted from the crystalized urine of a treated patient and then used to treat another patient in the throes of serious bacterial infection just next door. In 1943, just shy of one year after its successful usage in saving the aforementioned woman’s life, the total amount of penicillin that had been produced was enough to treat only a hundred people, and this only if it was judiciously reclaimed and reused (3). Recycling penicillin wasn’t just smart; it was a necessity for such limited quantities of this wonder drug.
Of course, we’ve learned how to produce penicillin faster since then, and other antibiotics as well. Read about penicillin recycling at Body Horrors

Police officer visited home to supervise father spanking daughter and determine it was legal

A Florida father said he wanted to discipline his daughter by paddling her, but did not want to break the law, so he called the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office to come and supervise.

Train services halted by commuters protesting against frequently delayed services

Hundreds of thousands of people who are dependent on the Central and Harbor line suburban rail services in Mumbai, India, had a harrowing time on Friday after trains came to a grinding halt for close to 6 hours after commuters staged a protest over frequent delays.
The train services resumed several hours later as the huge backlog created by the blockade was cleared. Trouble started at 7am when a pantograph of a local train got entangled in the overhead power supply wire near Thakurli station, close to Kalyan, in Thane district. Railway officials cut the power supply to the line so as to rectify the flaw and as an interim measure diverted trains to the three other active lines between Kalyan and Thane.
However, the whole operation caused a delay of 15-20 minutes during the busy morning hours. With a frequency of one train every 3-4 minutes and each train carrying around 5,000 people, the delay meant that thousands of people were stuck at stations all along the route. Soon, commuters stranded at Diva station started protesting against the delay. They were later, reportedly, joined by local people and the mob went ahead and blocked all the railway lines passing through the station.
They also assaulted train drivers, after which their union threatened to go on strike. However, they dropped the plan after a meeting with railway and state government officials. Trouble soon spread to nearby Thane station where angry commuters threw stones. Later services were also hit on the Harbor Line. The police had resorted to a mild lathi-charge to get the situation in control after the protesters torched some vehicles parked near the station.

Woman who faces fine after rescuing runaway pig won't have to pay if animal is euthanized

A Florida family who thought they were doing a good deed when they took in a pig they found wandering along a street in St. Cloud is now facing a fine. Michelle Miller said a neighbor nearly hit the pig as it walked along. Her family caught the pig, which they have named Eva Sophia, and put her in their back yard. "Unfortunately, I didn't realize it would become a permanent home," Miller said.

Drunk man stole taxi containing five passengers

A drunk man from Ronkonkoma, New York, pushed a taxi driver, hopped in the man’s cab and then fled in the vehicle while five people were still inside early on New Year’s Day, Nassau police said.
Christian N. Paz, 24, was arrested shortly after the incident, which began in front of a taxi stand at the Wantagh Long Island Rail Road station at about 2am, police said.
According to police, Paz pushed the 46-year-old male driver and then drove away in the cab, which was occupied by three females and two males. Paz then allowed the occupants to get out of the cab. Paz later abandoned the car and fled on foot.
Seventh Precinct officers located Paz a short time later in Seaford and he was placed in police custody without incident. Paz is charged with second degree robbery, third degree grand larceny, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and DWI. He is due to be arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead.

Top Archaeological Finds Expected in 2015

From a mysterious Greek tomb to the search for Amelia Earhart, a handful of surprising finds are likely to be uncovered in 2015. 

The Uunartoq Hot Springs in Greenland

You might not think of Greenland, most of which is covered by an ice cap, as an ideal place to warm up. But you might want to try the warm waters of Uunartoq, an island off the southwestern coast. There are three hot spring-fed pools on the island which reach temperatures of 100-140°F. Norse explorers discovered them at least a thousand years ago and put them to good use in that frozen territory. The US Geological Survey says that the springs are not of volcanic origin, but are most likely due to crust friction. 

Awesome Pictures


(via 500px / Yosemite by Trevor Jacobs)

Lingerie Made from Recycled Xmas Trees

Have you taken down your Xmas tree yet? Someday, it may come back to you in this form. French fashion designer Sophie Young developed Do You Green, a line of lingerie made from Xmas trees. Her company chemically processes evergreen trees to create a functional fabric. Then it makes this cloth into bras, panties, camisoles, and more.

Negative pressure in the xylem tubes of trees

"Trees create immense negative pressures of 10's of atmospheres by evaporating water from nanoscale pores, sucking water up 100m in a state where it should be boiling but can't because the perfect xylem tubes contain no air bubbles, just so that most of it can evaporate in the process of absorbing a couple molecules of carbon dioxide."

Empress Tree

In China, an old custom is to plant an Empress Tree (Paulownia tomentosa) when a baby girl is born. The fast-growing tree matures when she does. When she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. Carving the wood of Paulownia is an art form in Japan and China.

Explore the Milky Way with Chromoscope

Visible wavelength (DSS/Wikisky)The night's sky is full of wonders - and we're not talking just the stars that you can see with your naked eye. You'll want to see it in other wavelengths, too. But since we don't have X-ray vision, this is the next best thing.
The Chromoscope project, built by Stuart Lowe, Chris North and Robert Simpson in 2009, lets you move across the Milky Way galaxy and view it in different electromagnetic wavelengths: visible light, gamma-ray, X-ray, Hydrogen alpha, near infrared, far infrared, microwave, and radio.
Radio (Haslam 408 MHz)Check it out: Chromoscope | Wondering what you're looking at? This blog post may have the answer.

Fisherman Says He Saw Bigfoot Bathing ... And He Sent Us A Picture!

tampaskunkapeOne occupational hazard of reporting on unexplained phenomena: You can always count on waking up in the morning to find an email from someone swearing that they've just seen Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, a hybrid human alien or a UFO on the moon.
2015 began with a photo from John Rodriguez, a 66-year-old retired electrician, who claims that he was fishing Dec. 26 on the Hillsborough River near northeast Tampa, Florida, and came upon an incredible sight.
"I fish for gar in the river and I bring my camera to take pictures of the birds and what not. I heard a squishing sound, looked over and saw this thing walking through the water and crouch down in the duck weed. It did not look like a guy in a suit -- it was definitely an animal. I took this picture and got out of there as fast as I could."
tampabigfootoriginalHere's the image that Rodriguez sent:

Rodriguez claims to have seen and photographed -- in a completely clear and non-blurry moment -- that tall, hairy, elusive creature often reported in North America and other parts of the world that goes by many names: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti. In Florida, it's known as the Swamp Ape or Skunk Ape (primarily from descriptions of an extremely pungent odor it supposedly gives off).
"I've heard of Skunk Ape prints around Green Swamp [in Florida], but never anything like this," Rodriguez told HuffPost in an email. "My whole life, never seen anything like it."
Of course, the fact that the photo looks a little too crisp at some points, made us suspect it to be a fraud. Just look at the jagged line between the hairy beast and the water. That could be the work of a novice who just downloaded Photoshop for the first time.
However, we've got some time to kill. And doesn't this man deserve to be taken at his word? After all, wouldn't finding Bigfoot be a great way to kick off 2015?
hillsboroughriverRodriguez said he snapped the picture in the early afternoon at an area where the Hillsborough River becomes a cypress swamp. The map on the left shows a small section of the 59-mile-long river that flows through Florida, filled with wildlife preserves that include many not-so-friendly creatures, such as alligators, known to jump into canoes and attack unsuspecting humans.

So, what are we to make of this fantastic tale? Did Rodriguez take the clearest, most definitive picture to date of Bigfoot?
Not so fast, according to Ben Hansen, lead investigator of the Syfy Channel's "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files" series.
"It's a relief to finally have a clear picture of the creature," Hansen, a former FBI agent said "Every other photo and video we get is usually too blurry or the Bigfoot too obscured in brush to allow for any useful identification. Thanks to the clear photo, I'm excited to announce that the photographer has captured a real-life... gorilla in a Bigfoot suit!"
"To be more precise, the face of a gorilla that has been digitally added to the photo with editing software. Although I originally suspected the creature suit was actually in the water when the photo was taken, I started to notice shadows in front of the Bigfoot that appeared to be an inconsistent length and shape with the rest of the photo."
"Additionally, there appears to be some heavy digital editing touch-up to the fur around the face and where the body meets the water. I'm now leaning more toward believing the whole creature was pasted into the image and then branches and twigs were added in the foreground. The branches also could have really been in the scene, but they were later edited as separate layers so Bigfoot looks like he's now behind them, sitting in deep contemplation."
Digital photographs use a format called EXIF data, which stores a lot of accessible information within each image -- like shutter speed, if a flash was used, date and time of the image, etc. Hansen pointed out that the EXIF information of the Florida swamp creature picture suggests the image was digitally created on Dec. 26 with Photoshop.
Since those details are extremely important when trying to research unexplained phenomena images, we asked Rodriguez about this.
"I did not Photoshop this at all. Believe me or not," Rodriguez said. "When I plug in my memory card, it asks to import and opens in Photoshop. I just changed the name and saved. It seems like people get publicly crucified for coming forward with this kind of stuff."
Rodriguez also said this debunking attitude is what caused him to initially hesitate sending the original picture to HuffPost.
A March 2014 Smithsonian.com story about the search for Florida's Skunk Ape pointed out the following:
The belief in mythological animals might be as old as humanity itself. Nearly every culture's folklore contains at least one imagined creature in its folklore that has no place in modern science.
It's easy to imagine how, in the days when much of the planet had yet to be explored and cataloged, you might have reasonably believed in the existence of any of these beasts. But in the present day, when every square mile of the earth's surface has been photographed by satellites, and scientists have identified 1.3 million species (with mostly plants, tiny animals and microbes remaining to be found), how could you still believe in a lumbering, seven-foot-tall ape, hiding out in one of the most well-studied countries on the planet?
When dealing with reports and discussions about things like Bigfoot, UFOs, lake monsters, ghosts, etc., there's always a fine line walked by those who make the claims and the skeptics or outright debunkers who do their best to make the stories go away.
In the most literal sense, that's the nature of the beast -- especially where large, hairy creatures are involved.
Hansen brings up another item about this current alleged Skunk Ape sighting near Tampa.
"The white stripe down the middle of the head and chin is a nice touch. If it's a Skunk Ape, why not make it look like a skunk, right? In reality, I have yet to come across a story with any merit where witnesses describe the Skunk Ape with an actual white stripe like a skunk."
Par for the course, these stories produce strong opposing points of view. And still, one clear photograph of something that may or may not be a real Bigfoot is not definitive proof that the creature exists, the way DNA evidence -- or an actual body -- would be.
We still, apparently, don't have either of those things yet.

Monsters in America

A cryptozoological map of the USA
Hog Island Press.
You're gonna need this. A map of American cryptozoology that documents sightings of the Jersey Devil, Bigfoot, Mothman, Chupacabra, Shunka Warakin, Caddy, the Honey Island Swamp Monster and many more cryptids on one hand-drawn, hand-screened map.
Loren Coleman, the Director of the International Cryptozoology Museum, had this to say: "The cryptid-filled, cartographically accurate Monsters in America: A Cryptozoological Map of the United States should be on the walls of every museum, library, and researcher's office interested in the science of as-yet-to-be-discovered animals. Hog Island Press has produced an informative, affordable, high quality collectible, which also serves as an educational tool useful for your next road trip, a future research trek, or everyday bibliographic study. There is not a fake on the map. I love the heavy paper stock. Discover and obtain yours today!"


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