Welcome to ...

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking about you  ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Enough said ... !
Today is  -  There is no special celebration today

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Conceicao de Mato Dentro, Nova Prata and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
City Place, Henry Farm, Montreal and Quebec, Canada
Bogota, Colombia
Quito, Ecuador
Benito Juarez and Mexico City, Mexico
Boaco, Nicaragua
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Sofia, Bulgaria
Zagreb, Croatia
Great Paxton, London and Rochdale, England
Frederiksberg, Denmark
Oberhaslach, Paris, Rouen, Rue and Velizy-Villacoublay, France
Hamburg and Koelin, Germany
Athens, Piraeus, Greece
Pisa, Qualiano, Ravenna, Rome, Italy
Amsterdam, Netherlands 
Warsaw, Poland
Braga and Coimbra,  Portugal
Galati, Romania
Irkutsk, Moscow and Vladivostok, Russia
Belgrade, Serbia
Bratisalava, Slovakia
Basauri and Madrid, Spain
Stockholm, Sweden
Zurich, Switzerland
Al Hadd, Bahrain
Dinajpur, Bangladesh
Bangalore, Gaya, Jamshedpur, Jodhpur, Patna, Pune and Shillong, India
Amuntai and Jakarta, Indonesia
Tehran, Iran
Seoul, Korea
Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Selayang, Malaysia
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Singapore, Singapore
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Port Elizabeth and Pretoria, South Africa
Lusaka, Zambia
The Pacific
Brisbane, Strathfield and Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1066   Harold Godwineson is crowned crowned King Harold II – King of England.  
1540   Henry VIII of England marries his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The marriage will last six months.  
1861   The Governor of Maryland, Thomas Hicks, announces his opposition to the states's possible secession from the Union.  
1904   Japanese railway authorities in Korea refuse to transport Russian troops.
1910   Union leaders ask President William H. Taft to investigate U.S. Steel's practices.  
1912   New Mexico becomes the 47th U.S. state of the Union.  
1918   Germany acknowledges Finland's independence.  
1919   Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, dies at the age of 60 in his home at Sagamore Hill, New York.  
1921   The U.S. Navy orders the sale of 125 flying boats to encourage commercial aviation.  
1937   The United States bans the shipment of arms to war-torn Spain.  
1941   President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to support the Lend-lease Bill to help supply the Allies.  
1945   Boeing B-29 bombers in the Pacific strike new blows on Tokyo and Nanking.  
1946   Ho Chi Minh wins in the Vietnamese elections.  
1958   Moscow announces a reduction in its armed forces by 300,000.
1967   Over 16,000 U.S. and 14,000 Vietnamese troops start their biggest attack on the Iron Triangle, northwest of Saigon.  
1987   Astronomers report sighting a new galaxy 12 billion light years away.  
2001   In one of the closest Presidential elections in U.S. history, George W. Bush was finally declared the winner of the bitterly contested 2000 Presidential elections more then five weeks after the election due to the disputed Florida ballots.
2005   Former Ku Klux Klan organizer Edgar Ray Killen arrested as a suspect in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi.
2014   US Senate confirms Janet Yellen as the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve Bank in the central bank's 100-year history.

The Five Oldest People in the World

Today, Bernice Madigan died peacefully at her home in Massachusetts. She was 115 years and 163 days old, which made her the fourth-oldest person in the world before her death. Madigan’s death leaves only five people in the world documented to have been born before the 20th century. They are, from left to right:

Misao Okawa, born March 5, 1898, Japanese
Gertrude Weaver, born July 4, 1898, American
Jeralean Talley, born May 23, 1899, American
Susannah Mushatt-Jones, born July 6 1899, American
Emma Morano-Martinuzzi, born November 29, 1899, Italian

When these five women were born, there were no airplanes. They may have talked to their friends about the sinking of the Titanic. They lived through two World Wars, the women’s suffrage movement, Prohibition, the Civil Rights Era, and the beginning and end of the Soviet Union.

Why You Need To Stop Lying About Having Food Allergies

by Lane Moore
"I have something to tell you." That’s usually how I tell people I have food allergies. The same way you’d tell someone you had a wasting disease or an illegitimate child you didn’t know about. I like to start it off slowly and just say I’m allergic to dairy and see how they respond. Are they inching away? If so, do not continue with the list! Abort list! I’m allergic to pretty much all the main food allergens you can be allergic to and in a perfect world, people would just hear that and think, Yeah? Pass the bread. But they don’t. Why? Because of people who lie about having food allergies.

An estimated 1 percent of the population has celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. The other bazillion people I hear complaining about foods they “can’t eat” are the types of people who go into Starbucks and order a half-caff non-fat latte with a splash of heavy cream, one Splenda, and one-eighth of a Sweet’N Low, with a kiss blown into it at a 90-degree angle. It’s an identity to them. “I’m the person with the wacky drink order!” or “I’m the person with the crazy gluten allergy that makes people pay attention to me!” (Or they have an eating disorder and it’s easier for them to claim they have multiple allergies than to admit that they’re terrified of food. I could not have more empathy for those people.) These people ruin everything for real allergy sufferers like me.

They are the reason that when I go to a restaurant and mention my food allergies (peanuts, eggs, dairy, and wheat), the waiter’s eyes glaze over like, “Oh, great. Another asshole who thinks they have food allergies, but really just has a thinly veiled eating disorder.” And I’ve met those people! They are people who, when they talk about being allergic to gluten (for some reason this allergy has attracted more allergy-liars than any other), will say they “sometimes eat bread anyway though because YOLO!” and I would love to punch them in the face as much as anyone else.

They’re also the people who say, “I can’t have dairy but I love eating ice cream! What can you do, am I right?” Oh, I don’t know, you could not eat dairy. Or be like me and get way too excited when you can find almond milk ice cream that doesn’t taste like freezer burn and diaper rash cream. Their food allergies change nothing about their lives because their allergies do not exist.

They will never have a suitor they really like say, “Let me take you to dinner,” and contemplate not going at all because they’re pretty sure if they provide them with a laundry list of their food restrictions, that person will bail, fast, somehow while leaving their shoes still on the ground surrounded by dust and smoke. I have seriously thought about canceling on dates that involve food because I didn’t want to sound picky or finicky or complicated. “How do I tell them?!” I ask my friends, as though I am set to reveal a horrible hunchback with a fetus sticking out of it that wails every time I’m hungry. These out-of-my-control, totally normal, increasingly common food allergies set me apart from people who are easy, no fuss, no hassle — all words I’d use to describe myself outside of this. I’ve always been a very black-coffee person (though not anymore because it hurts my stomach, but let’s navigate away from that because it’s not helping my case). No “three Splendas, two half-and-halfs, and for the love of god, James, dressing on the side this time!” orders for me. Until I developed food allergies as a child. And now whenever I’m faced with a new group of people who don’t know about my allergies, I feel like I’m harboring a great secret.

If I’m out with a group of new friends and they say, “We should go grab some food! Oooh, let’s go to Guisetti’s!” I know I will be sitting there, alone and starving with a plate of iceberg lettuce, waiting for the check to come, so I can leave and make actual food in my actual home because it is safe there.

If I’m at work and they’re ordering food for everyone, I, again, say, “I’m not hungry. I just don’t get hungry! It’s so crazy! I don’t eat before 3 p.m.! Or after 3 p.m.! I just never do it! Eating is horrible! I hate it!” etc. All lies. Eating rules.

And god help me if I’ve been invited to someone’s parents’ house. “They want to know what to make for you” makes my stomach hurt so much from how many times I’ve felt awkward and bad about that that my stomach feels like it’s developing a new allergy in there. Probably to water. Or my beloved rice.

Listen, I honestly, truly do not care if you just don’t like eating whatever food or you try to stay away from it because you don’t feel that great when you eat it. I’m totally cool with all that! But saying you have an allergy, while everyone knows you don’t have one, just puts me on trial every time I have to tell someone. I have to justify it, draw up documents, prove I’m not just being an uppity asshole. I have to convince waiters, who will often lie about the ingredients in foods and tell me my allergens aren’t in there when they are, and then I end up vomiting all night or with a fully body rash or my throat swelling up like it’s full of golf ball-size grenades. Basically, I have to prove I’m not like you.

I will say one thing though, allergy liars. You’ve actually made the lives of allergy sufferers easier in many ways. Because of you, I can go to just about any store in any major city and get a ton of (OK, some) gluten-free, allergy-free food that previously would’ve been only available in small town hippie markets where everyone looks like Candace from Portlandia's Women & Women First bookstore. Plus, there are restaurants in New York City that will put labels on the menus so you know which dishes have gluten in them or which are vegan, or whatever, so you don't even have to ask! But in the end, even that still sucks because those waiters still look at you like, “You're the reason I have to memorize pointless information about allergies and constantly ask to modify orders unnecessarily. Oh, fuck it, I'm putting cheese in your salad. You're not really allergic to it anyway” and then I wind up in the hospital dying from a very real allergy you didn't take seriously because most people lie about it so they can feel special.

And I gotta be honest with you, I plan to have a way cooler death than that.

The Taste Of Coffee Can Be Influenced By The Color Of Your Cup

If your morning brew tastes more bitter than usual, you may want to consider changing the color of your mug instead of adding more sugar. In a paper in the journal Flavor, Australian scientists sought to learn if our perception of coffee could be influenced by the color of the cup from which it was drunk.
Their results suggest this very well may be the case. White cups enhance the 'intensity' of cafe latte beverages compared to clear mugs. More specifically, white cups appear to influence our perception of coffee such that it tastes more bitter.



A Stroke Of Obama’s Pen Will Lift 10.4 Million Workers Into the Middle Class

If the President simply adjusted the salary threshold for inflation since it was last raised in 1975, it would be a more significant income increase for over 10 million …
Obama signs health care reform bill for veterans in Washington
Over the past month there has been quite a bit of commentary on both how the President is taking executive initiative to get some long-needed things done, and how well the economy is doing. It is true the economy is showing respectable GDP growth, Wall Street is booming, and there has been consistently strong job growth. However, the average American’s is well-aware that their financial situation is not improving and it is due in great part to stagnating wages that the incoming Koch Congress will perpetuate and if possible make much worse.
President Obama has certainly done “almost” everything within his power to lift Americans out of dire poverty into just “normal” poverty by calling on repugicans to raise the minimum wage, but that is, and has been, a non-starter for the Koch Congress; their inclination and hope is abolishing the minimum wage outright. Besides, raising the minimum wage to $10, or even $15, per hour is not going to accomplish much in the way of rebuilding the vanishing middle class or relieving poverty because those minimum wage workers will still be earning incomes below the federal poverty line.
The President certainly champions “growing the middle class” in every economic speech he delivers and one truly believes he is sincere, but thus far he has not taken advantage of the executive authority he has to make it happen for over 10 million Americans. It really makes even an avowed Obama supporter wonder; is the President terrified of the Koch brothers, or devoted to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, and corporate America to really “grow the middle class” like he claims is crucial to the continued growth of the economy. Something seems amiss. There is a seeming incongruence between the President’s claim he wants to expedite growing the middle class, and his regular economic meetings with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street titans, and corporate CEOs whose only interest is growing their profit margin and not the middle class.
There is hope, though, because last June the President took a tiny step and issued an executive order for federal contractors and instructed the Department of Labor to investigate how best to help Americans out of poverty and into the middle class by adjusting the threshold for salaried workers to get overtime pay. To assist the President, and save precious years of investigation and discussions on how best accomplish his goal of rebuilding the middle class, here is a simple solution that eludes the President’s economic advisors and will enrage the Kochs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, and corporate CEOs.
Millions of Americans actually earn more than the minimum wage, yet they are still barely making it compared to thirty years ago. The big difference is that there has not been an increase in threshold for salaried workers to earn overtime pay since the 1970’s. Subsequently, it has contributed greatly to the income inequality crushing their financial situation and a major factor in the demise of the middle class while corporations and big business are reaping inordinate wealth.
As it works out economically, “fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers.” It may not, in fact, be the be all, end all, to rebuild the vanishing middle class, but according to noted economists, “it is an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class.” It is also something that President Obama can unilaterally change with a stroke of his pen over an executive order that will leave Republicans, the Koch brothers, Heritage Foundation, Wall Street, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and corporate CEOs bitching loudly that Obama is an overreaching dictator; but well within his Executive Branch constitutional power.
According to the decades old Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there is a nominal wage level below which every worker qualifies for mandatory time-and-a-half overtime pay; even if they are on a salary. Like many economic protections for American workers, that level has only been raised once since 1975, and compared to the 65% of salaried employees earning overtime pay in 1975, only 11% are covered today.
What that means for salaried workers is that if they make one penny over $23,660 annually (poverty level for a family of three), they are not entitled to overtime pay regardless if they work 41 hours a week or 80. It is a bonanza for businesses, particularly large corporations, and the reason why last year House Republicans passed a so-called “jobs bill” eliminating overtime pay for all workers. As one of the House’s storied jobs bills the Democratically-controlled Senate would not consider, it will be one the Koch Senate will pass easily.
If the President simply adjusted the salary threshold for inflation since it was last raised in 1975, it would be a more significant income increase for over 10 million low and low middle-class American workers than raising the hourly wage to $15 per hour for the rest of the poverty-wage workforce. It is also something that ALEC, the Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation, or the Koch Congress cannot prevent because the FLSA is the purview of the Executive Branch.
For about 10.4 million American workers who have lost FLSA protections since the 1970s, billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer proposes the President raise the FLSA threshold to $69,000 annually to restore the protections that were intended to cover all the workforce that was covered in 1975 and raise up 10.4 million workers into the middle class. It is noteworthy that the wealthy elite class’s income has not stagnated and, in fact, has grown exponentially while the rest of the population has not kept up with inflation. It is one of the major contributors to the income inequality decimating the majority of the population and keeping the economy from seriously robust growth.
According to research just last year, if thefederal minimum wage had kept pace with the earnings of the richest one-percent of income earners,” the hourly minimum wage would be $22.62 and that alone would “lift tens-of-millions of Americans out of poverty.” That figure is based on the richest one-percent’s earning rate that increased 212% over the past 20 years, and it is high time the rest of the workforce that produced that 212% wealth increase share in the fruits of their own labor. There is no way the Koch Congress will raise the minimum wage, but President Obama can ensure salaried workers at least earn overtime pay; not a raise, just what the FLSA protections were created for.
President Obama has not, as of late, been reluctant to take action on his own while repugicans fail to act for anyone but their wealthy overlords the Koch brothers, Chamber of Commerce, and Wall Street. It is true that last June he signed an executive order directing the FLSA to ‘investigate’ raising the salary threshold to help all salaried workers putting in 50-60 hours weekly without overtime pay; but what is there to investigate? He is the President, head of the Executive Branch, and with a simple stroke of his pen can raise up 10.4 million Americans into the middle class thus growing the economy, spurring more job growth, increasing revenue, and fulfilling one of his oft-stated goals; rebuilding the middle class.

Inconvenient Truth: America’s Public Schools Are Among Highest Achieving In The World

If something is inconvenient, it causes someone trouble or creates difficulties that annoy them and worse, could interfere with their lust for wealth and power. This is particularly the case if verified or indisputable facts destroy an assertion or idea held by profit-driven cretins selling something founded on lies and misinformation. For the past two decades, at least, so-called “education reformers” in the Republican privatization movement, and recently the Obama Administration Education Department, have criticized the American public school system as an abject failure. Obviously, there is huge money driving the “education reform” movement’s drive to shift public school funding to the technology industry, religious private schools, and particularly the grossly under-performing corporate-run charter schools. There is also a concerted effort on both sides of the political spectrum to destroy teacher unions and disabuse the overwhelming majority of women teachers of the idea they deserve a semi-living wage and secure retirement.
Any educator is well aware that there are issues out of their control in attempting to teach every student that enters their classroom, and now another damning study reveals that it is not poorly-qualified teachers, union representation, or tenure hampering achievement; it is poverty borne of America’s existential problem of income inequality. In fact, according to yet another study, America’s wealthiest traditional public schools that are unionized with tenured teachers are among the world’s highest achieving schools. If, as privatization “reformers” in the repugican cabal, corporate, and Obama Education Department claim that America’s public schools are dire failures, then America’s wealthy public schools with unionized teachers, and tenure, would be failing and not at the “top of the international charts.”
What that means is that it is not unionization, tenure, or inadequate teachers, but “high poverty” that is the crux of low academic and test score achievement on several levels. In fact, in the U.S. Department of Education study that the Administration’s Education Secretary, or President Obama, failed to read because it is inconvenient, it reveals that “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty” as of 2011; up from one in eight just ten years ago.” In a previous Education Department study, it found that “most high-poverty public schools receive much less than their fair share of state and local funding leaving students in poor schools with far fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” It is noteworthy, that the teachers at both wealthy and poor schools have exactly the same education level, teacher training, union representation, achievement standards, testing, and curriculum, and yet it is glaringly obvious the only difference is funding and crushing poverty regarded as the primary “out-of-school” factors affecting student achievement.
A 2011 comprehensive study conducted by Stanford University documented a new concept labeled “the income achievement gap” that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “biggest determining and predictive factor in student educational achievement is family income.” Not unionization, not tenure, and definitely not inadequate or unqualified teachers; unqualified teachers work in private religious and corporate charter schools which is why they typically under-perform traditional public schools whether they are wealthy or poor. Out-of-school factors are obviously part and parcel of poverty, and after decades of social scientific research, non-school factors such as family income, parental education, neighborhood environment, healthcare, housing stability, and food insecurity count “for twice as much influence” in under-achievement as in-school factors. It is noteworthy that school privatization advocates have tried in vain to refute the several well-documented studies, but that is the problem with inconvenient truths; they are annoying and might disrupt the vaunted “education reformers” well-laid plans to privatize public schools, but they are still the truth.
One education scholar, Richard Rothstein, described decades of research results that prove  “two-thirds of the variation in achievement among schools is due to the family characteristics of their students;” the other third is inadequate funding for schools in poorer neighborhoods. Not teacher inadequacy, not tenure, not unionization and definitely not a lack of god in schools, not enough under-performing corporate charter schools, not enough Bill Gates’ software, Google tablets, or profit-driven testing; everything the education reform movement is desperately pushing on America.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, and years of peer-reviewed research, the self-serving “education reform” movement continues demeaning the public school system, teachers, unions, and teacher tenure as why turning over education to privatization and religion is the key to a high-achieving student population and academic success. It is why repugican-led states are shifting public school money to private religious and corporate charter schools with impunity and what appears to be the blessings of the Obama Administration’s Department of Education with privatization and anti-union advocate Arne Duncan in charge. In fact, as long as public education funding continues flowing to huge technology companies, corporate charter and private religious schools, the corporate-owned mainstream media will continue cheering privatization and demeaning public schools; particularly unionized teachers where women make up over 70% of the workforce.
None of the research exposing America’s education problem is founded in poverty and income inequality is secret, but it is apparently damn inconvenient for the so-called “education reform” movement in repugican and religious circles as well as the Obama Education Department. One never hears Education Secretary Arne Duncan assailing the “overwhelming wave of evidence revealing the so-called education crisis” is founded in poverty and income inequality, but he does assail teacher tenure, poor test scores, and unqualified teachers. It is telling that throughout Wisconsin Governor  Scott Walker’s assault on teachers’ ability to bargain collectively, neither Arne Duncan nor President Obama met with, or supported, the teachers being stripped of their union or bargaining rights because it is contrary to their “education reform” bona fides founded in ardent support for under-performing corporate charter and private religious schools.
It is time for President Obama and, more importantly, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to take time to read their own Education Department study and admit publicly that this poverty-driven “education crisis” has nothing to do with failing public schools, bad teachers, union representation, or tenure and everything to do with the real problem destroying America; devastating poverty borne of America’s love affair with income inequality, privatization, and corporate profits.

Senator Announces Democrats Have Enough Votes To Sustain An Obama Veto Of Keystone XL

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on CBS’s Face The Nation that Senate Democrats have enough votes to sustain the widely expected veto that President Obama will issue after repugicans pass a bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Schumer said, “I think there will be enough Democratic votes to sustain the president’s veto…Our repugican colleagues say that this is a jobs bill but that really is not true at all. By most estimates it would create several thousand temporary construction jobs and only 35 permanent jobs…Why create very few jobs with the dirtiest of energy from tar sands when you can create tens of thousands more clean jobs using wind and solar? Our repugican colleagues are doing what they always do: they’re appeasing a few special interests — in this case oil companies and pipeline companies and not really doing what’s good for the average middle class family in terms of creating jobs.”
Senate repugicans won’t get anywhere near the 67 votes that they will need to override a presidential veto of the bill to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama made it clear that he was leaning towards vetoing the bill during his final press conference of 2014.
When the president was asked about Keystone XL, Obama said,
At issue in Keystone is not American oil. It is Canadian oil that is drawn out of tar sands in Canada. That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks and it would save Canadian oil companies and the Canadian oil industry an enormous amount of money if they could simply pipe it through the United States and all the way down to the Gulf. Once that oil gets to Gulf, it is then entering into the world market, and it would be sold all around the world.

So there is no. I won’t say no. There is very little impact, nominal impact on US gas prices, what the average American consumer cares about, by having this pipeline come though. And sometimes the way this gets sold is, let’s get this oil, and it’s going to come here and the implication is that it’s going to lower gas prices here in the United States. It’s not. There’s a global oil market. It’s very good for Canadian oil companies and it’s good for the Canadian oil industry, but it’s not going to be a huge benefit to US consumers. It’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to US consumers.
President Obama is going to veto whatever bill the repugicans pass that would authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The repugicans are going to try to spin this veto as the president being against job creation, but enough Senate Democrats will stand with the president to sustain his veto.
the repugicans better get used to it, because they don’t have enough votes to pass anything on their own. Congressional Democrats and President Obama are going to present a unified front against repugicans giving Big Oil the gift of Keystone XL.

Critics of American Sniper Chris Kyle Threatened with Violence and Rape Fantasies

‘It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naive, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before dog with a clear conscience about doing my job’ – Chris Kyle
A great deal of controversy has arisen as a result of the release of American Sniper, and the behavior of Ex-Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle, whose service in Iraq is portrayed in the film. Here, Clint Eastwood portrays Kyle as a hero in a heroic cause in a film that might come straight out of the Faux News echo chamber.
It is certainly rousing propaganda, putting white and black hats on the adversaries in what was, in truth, a rather murky affair on moral grounds. For Kyle, and thus, for the audience, the Iraqis are bad guys and the Americans are good guys. Kyle doesn’t seem to have thought much beyond this, nor Eastwood. Inexplicably, though Kyle killed, he bragged, some 250 Iraqis, Kyle is the victim.
It seems never to have occurred to Kyle – and probably not to Eastwood – that Kyle was, being the invader who killed indiscriminately, the bad guy in this particular moral tale. It has occurred to others, however, and for wingnuts, who as a matter of course seem to embrace that black/white dichotomy, to attack the film is to attack the essence of America itself.
Their response can be violent. Rania Khalek relates for Alternet her own horror story and that of Max Blumenthal for criticizing Chris Kyle, including some truly despicable rape and murder fantasies. Which only serves to bolster the point that murdering people is not particularly heroic.
It is certainly problematic that though International law forbids torture and ethnic cleansing, the bible not only condones torture but promotes ethnic cleansing. The worst of American behavior during the Iraq War is thus perfectly permissible on a biblical basis but reprehensible according to international law to which the United States is signatory. This includes goings on at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo – and at Fallujah by men like Chris Kyle.
Kyle wrote in his memoir, American Sniper,
Our ROEs [Rules of Engagement] when the [Iraq War] kicked off were pretty simple: If you see anyone from about sixteen to sixty-five and they’re male, shoot ‘em. Kill every male you see. That wasn’t the official language, but that was the idea.
So Kyle was ordered, he says, to systematically execute every male between 16 and 65. It happens, as historian Christian Ingrao tells us in his study of intellectuals in the Waffen SS, the German soldiers of the Einsatzgruppen (death squads) also “systematically shot” all “male adult jews between fifteen and sixty” during the first eight weeks of Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of Russia in 1941.
It is worthwhile noting that the reasons for these shootings are also similar: “the conviction,” Ingrao relates, that these men “played a role in the violence and insecurity encountered by the groups [Germans] on their arrival in town, the execution…seen as way of keeping order.”
The Germans were shooting potential insurgents. We read in Philly.com for April 29, 2004, that “sniper teams…target anyone suspected of being an insurgent.”
In the last three weeks, two sniper teams attached to the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, have shot down 90 people who have strayed into their sights. The two teams are part of the 100 Marine sharpshooters deployed by three battalions around the city. One sniper secreted away in another corner of Fallujah has “26 confirmed kills,” military officers here report.
It is certainly a disturbing thought that the security discourse of the American occupiers should so closely resemble that of the Nazi Gestapo and SD (Sicherheitsdienst, or SS Security Service). Men held to be war criminals then and later.
Like some SS men whose accounts have been noted by historians, Chris Kyle admitted to taking great joy in gunning these people down. He said he “loved” it and, and like those SS men, he said felt that his victims were “savages.”
If we step away from Kyle’s scope sight we find his “dog and country” sense of morality to be less straightforward, and just how broadly the orders he was given were being interpreted.
The Australian Associated Press reported on April 16, 2004 that,
But the worst form of attack was the US snipers hiding on rooftops who kill hundreds of civilians as they tried to move about the city.
Hundreds. Of civilians.
Not combatants, though there were those too, as the photographic (and other) testimony demonstrates. Fallujah was a battle zone, after all. But civilians. Innocent people who were doing their best to survive under very terrible circumstances, people seeking access to water, to medical care, were killed.
The US has snipers around the city from the West into the center, in houses all around the main streets and are picking off people on the streets, cars and ambulances.
Needless to say, medical personnel – and enemy soldiers – are noncombatants and according to page 5 of Your Conduct in Combat under the Law of War, Pub. No. FM 27-2, published by Headquarters of the Department of the Army (1984), are not to be attacked.
Iraqi’s who lived through the terror testified that “There were so many snipers, anyone leaving their house was killed.”
The Associated Press reported that, “Iraqis said it seemed that just stepping outside or looking out a window at the wrong time could draw sniper fire.”
Chris Kyle bragged about it. Kyle was in accord with Philly.com, which told readers that “There’s no shortage of targets.”
Here is the essential calculus:
Clint Eastwood made a movie about Kyle, celebrating him as both hero and victim.
We hanged the Germans who did what Kyle did. We hanged their superiors too.
And these actions are not excused by claims to have been following orders.
For example, ARTICLE 8 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, August 8, 1945, unequivocally states:
The fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determine that justice so requires.
The indictment of the defendants at Military Tribunal II – Case 9, dealing with the Einsatzgruppen, in Nuremberg on 8 April 1948, states:
The acts charged in Counts I and II of the Indictment are identical in character, but the indictment draws the distinction between acts consisting of offenses against civilian populations including German nationals and nationals of other countries, and the same acts committed as violations of the laws and customs of war involving murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and civilian populations of countries under the occupation of Germany.
The Opinion and Judgment tells us that “‘Asiatic inferiors’ was another category destined for liquidation.” Of course, this reminds one of Chris Kyle’s reference to Iraqi civilians as “savages” who he “loved” killing.
We are also informed that, “Although engaged in an ideological enterprise, supposedly undertaken on the highest ethnic and cultural level, executants of the program were not above the most petty and loathsome thievery.”
I mention this because Chris Kyle bragged about looting Iraqi apartments in Fallujah:
“To me, the home I was in was just another part of the battlefield. The apartments and everything in them were just things to be used to accomplish our goal—clearing the city.” He even put a baby crib “to good use” as a rifle platform. Then he started “rummaging through the complex to see if I could find any cool shit—money, guns, explosives. The only thing I found worth acquisitioning was a handheld Tiger Woods game.”
We are fighting a war on behalf of the Iraqi people and he is stealing their “cool shit.” “Acquisitioning,” he calls it. The law calls it stealing. So, as it happens, does the military.
The US Soldier’s Manual (1984) cited above, for example, states, on page 23:
When searching dwellings in enemy towns or villages, do not take nonmilitary items. Theft is a violation of the laws of war and US law. Stealing private property will make civilians more likely to fight you or to support the enemy forces. You do not want to have to fight both the enemy armed forces and civilians.
Oh the irony…
It is important to note here that Einsatzgruppe C also proudly reported on its accomplishments [plundering] in Korowo in September of 1941.
The verdict of the Nuremberg tribunal is clear:
“It was plain banditry and highway robbery.”
Certainly, nobody is naïve enough to think that things like this do not take place in every war. American soldiers during WWII were also guilty of atrocities, including gunning down prisoners of war, murder and rape of civilians, plundering and looting, and so forth.
Just as importantly, that does not make it right on either a moral or a legal basis.
Bad enough that in the wake of Iraq war torture revelations, we are afflicted with what is, in essence, a shrub-era propaganda film by the guy who talks to empty chairs as though evidence of his own mental instability calls President Obama’s competence into question.
But there is sad irony in the fact that critics of Chris Kyle are threatened with acts of unspeakable violence because they accused Chris Kyle of acts of unspeakable violence, as though we as American should be proud of the atrocities committed in our name.

Who The Hell Do repugicans Really Represent?

I’ll Tell You Who …
by Allen Clifton
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the repugican cabal.  They seem to be built on rhetoric and driven by propaganda.  A cabal which is driven by a series of shrieking points which I often call “bumper sticker politics.”  Meaning that they refuse to support any issue which won’t neatly fit on a bumper sticker.  It seems many of their constituents simply cannot grasp complicated, critical thoughts.
And me being me, I often like to antagonize repugicans by using logic to answer questions, with factual answers that sometimes require the ability to use critical thinking.
So I decided that I wanted to break down the repugican cabal and who it is they really represent.  Because to be honest with you, based upon the policies they support, it’s not very many people.  Which is baffling considering millions of Americans routinely vote for these people; votes that go against their own best interests.
So let’s look at policies repugicans support and eliminate those they don’t seem to represent.
Well, they sure don’t represent women.  Many of them voted against the Violence Against Women Act, opposed legislation which would require employers to pay women the same as men, stripped abortion rights and fought against easier access to contraceptives.  They’ve attacked Planned Parenthood all across the country, and some have even gone as far to claim that not all rape is actually rape.  The way in which many of these wingnuts treat women like second-class citizens is reprehensible.  It’s often a group of all-male lawmakers sitting on a committee deciding what’s best for women’s health.  It’s pathetic and it shows a total disrespect for women.
Do I even need to explain the lengths at which repugicans have gone to prevent homosexuals from having equal rights?  Some of them have described the legalization of same-sex marriage as the pathway to bestiality.  Many of them consider homosexuals people suffering from some kind of disease that can be “cured” and individuals that will almost certainly spend an eternity in hell.  If it were up to many of them they’d probably deem homosexuality a crime and incarcerate those who were openly gay.  Hell, some have pushed for laws that make applying for a same-sex marriage license illegal — so it’s really not far-fetched that many of them wish homosexuality in general was against the law.
Any Religion Other Than christianity
These people really believe they represent christianity – They, do not.  They represent some cult-like hybrid of a political cabal blended with a handful of excerpts from the bible.  I call it “repugicanity.”
But when it comes to tolerance for other religions, repugicans have none.  To many of them, most other religions are just filled with heathens and muslims are all just radical terrorists who hate the United States and wish to see it destroyed — which, of course, is absurd.
They talk often about “religious freedom,” but they really only mean religious freedom for their religion.  And they really don’t even mean religious freedom.  What they actually mean is they want the freedom to enforce their religious views on other people.
And that’s not religious freedom, that’s religious control.
Well, they’re getting better when it comes to minorities — at least a few of them, anyway.  But it’s not because they want to, it’s because they really have to.  They realize if they want to remain relevant in national elections they better start appealing to minorities better — specifically Latinos.
Don’t forget, this is the cabal that just last year had their pretender candidate run on the immigration platform of “self deportation.”  For those unaware of what self deportation is, it’s the process of making life so unbearable for undocumented workers that they return back to their home countries.  Essentially, the policy that we should treat undocumented immigrants so inhumanely that they’d flee the United States.
And let’s not forget that a sensible immigration reform bill was sent to the House of Representatives, but Boehner just refuses to vote on it — literally.  He won’t allow the bill to even come up for a vote.
Then should we look at their new strict measures as it relates to their voter ID laws?  Laws which specifically target minority voters.  Well, laws which target voters who often vote for Democrats — and many of these voters happen to be minorities.
Or the comments similar to those made by repugican Rand Paul, who said he feels that the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional.
Quick, name a few of the most recognized faces of the repugican cabal or the wingnut media:
the shrub, John Boehner, Dick Cheney, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin, Lush Dimbulb, Sean Handjob, Swill O’Really, Glenn Brick, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John McCain—I’ll stop there.  The list, of course, is just based on who I think of when I think of recent “big name” repugicans.
Notice anything?  Almost entirely male, with only one female — and every single one of them is white.
So they sure as heck don’t represent minorities.
The Poor/Middle Class
Last year they threatened to allow tax breaks for every American to expire, unless the top 2% got to keep their tax breaks as well.  Think about that for a moment.  They would rather have 100% of Americans pay more in taxes instead of just the top 2%.
Hell, their entire political ideology is based upon “give more to the rich, then they’ll give back to us.”  Their push for fewer regulations, eliminating the minimum wage, austerity, a flat tax or tax cuts in general always benefit the rich.  If they happen to help the other 98% of Americans — well that’s fine and dandy, but that’s not the stated objective.
When millions of Americans needed a job, you know what they did?  Forced budget cuts which eliminated tens of thousands of public jobs.  Then they have the nerve to accuse those needing government assistance of being “lazy moochers.”  Nothing quite like forcing people on welfare, building policies which ensure more people will rely on welfare, then complaining about people being on welfare.
It’s asinine.
How exactly do they represent workers?  They vigorously oppose unions (you know, the things which fought to give us safe working conditions, overtime pay, health benefits, weekends, holidays and worker’s compensation).  They always oppose any mention of a hike to our minimum wage, don’t support regulations which would keep companies from outsourcing jobs and often fight against any government regulation which might provide protections for workers against unethical business practices by their employers.
When it comes down to helping the business or the worker, they choose the business every time.
Ah yes, the “pro-life” party.  Ironic considering they also often brag about their frequent use of the death penalty.  The repugicans are great at caring about an unborn fetus, it’s just the whole – rest of his or her life they do not care about.  You know, because if that child happens to be born female, into a family of immigrants who aren’t christians, who happens to be gay and ends up working blue-collar jobs their entire life — that child is everything repugicans constantly stand against.
So let’s see, we’ve established repugicans don’t represent:
  • Women
  • Minorities/Immigrants
  • Homosexuals
  • Workers
  • Religions other than Christianity
  • The poor or middle class
  • Fetuses after they’re born
So, just who in the hell do repugicans represent?
Well, all that’s left is:
  • Wealthy
  • Straight
  • White
  • christian
  • Males
And those are the only people most repugicans actually represent.

Mitch McConnell Lies and Blames Obama and Democrats For His Years Of Senate Dysfunction

Mitch McConnell CNN State Of The UnionMitch McConnell (r-KY) desperately tried to rewrite history by implying that President Obama and Senate Democrats were responsible for the campaign of dysfunction and obstruction that he orchestrated.
McConnell was asked on CNN what the message was that voters sent to Washington by electing a repugican run Congress. Sen. McConnell answered, “I think the American people had two messages. They were certainly upset with their president, and wanted to express that opposition to what he’s been doing. But they also wanted to do something about the dysfunction in Washington. I’m not sure that they knew who was responsible for it, but they want it to stop, and so I think the message from the American people is that they would like to see a right of center responsible wingnut repugican majority. That’s what the Speaker and I intend to provide, and hopefully we’ll have enough followers to do that.”
He implied to CNN that Obama and the Senate Democrats were responsible for not getting things done. The truth is that McConnell blocked or slowed down hundreds of bills while serving as Minority Leader. Fact checkers who limit the definition of obstruction to only filibusters are ignoring the wide variety of procedural tactics that McConnell used to grind the Senate to a halt, and turn votes that should have taken days into a weeks long process.
Mitch McConnell has spent most of the Obama presidency slowing down the Senate and blocking any progress, but now that the Kentucky repugican is the new Senate Majority Leader he has completely forgotten the past. McConnell is trying to fool the American people by selling himself as a man of action that is interested in getting things done.
Both McConnell and CNN tried to spin the repugican pickup of red state Senate seats into a national repugican mandate when the reality is that the playing field for the 2014 midterms was heavily tilted in favor of the repugican cabal. It is faulty reasoning to assume that one region of the country speaks for the entire nation.
The repugicans only have 54 votes in the Senate, and will be facing off with a president who is ready to use his veto pen. The reality is that it is going to be nearly impossible for McConnell to pass anything substantial without the support of Democrats and Obama. McConnell tried to blame Democrats for his campaign of obstruction, but it will be his job on the line when repugicans fail to pass legislation under his leadership.
It is this dynamic that will lead to Mitch McConnell having a very short stint as Senate Majority Leader.

Last Year's Mug Shots of the Year

The Smoking Gun has compiled their annual list of Mugshots of the Year. The overall “winner” was Robert Burt, whose cleverness was reported earlier here. However, the other 24 on the list are a sight to see. You can look through the gallery, and get some further explanation for some of the more baffling pictures here. Can you guess what the woman in the picture above was arrested for? Yes, you can.

UK government tells nursery workers to turn in potential terrorist toddlers

They'll have to report 3-year-olds who are "at risk of radicalisation," according to a consultation document that the Home Office is pushing to turn into legislation.
Not just nursery workers -- teachers all the way up to secondary school will have to spy on and turn in their "potentially radicalized" students.
He added: “It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way. For children in the early years, this will be about learning right from wrong and in practitioners challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes.
“We would expect staff to have the training they need to identify children at risk of radicalisation and know where and how to refer them for further help if necessary.”

Pootin' on Putin


Suspicious man with flailing arms was just out for some exercise

Police officers responded to the parking lot at the Civic Center in Mayfield Village, Ohio, on Dec. 24.
This followed a report of an elderly man who seemed to be disoriented.
He was throwing his hands up and wandering back and forth
The officers determined the man was just taking a walk and waving his arms for extra cardio.

Mother locked in cupboard by toddler rescued by firefighters after postman heard cries for help

A mother had to be rescued by fire crews after her one-year-old toddler locked her in a cupboard. The woman's cries for help were heard by a postman, who called the emergency services. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it used a ladder to get into the property in Radford Park Drive, Plymstock, Devon. The woman was then released from the understairs cupboard and reunited with her child after the 15-minute ordeal on Friday.
A fire spokesman said: "A fire appliance was mobilized from Plymstock fire station and, on arrival, confirmed there was an adult locked in the understairs cupboard as well as a one-year-old child locked in the property.
"Crews used small tools and a triple extension ladder to gain access and release the adult from the cupboard as well as reunite the one-year-old with its mother."

Drink driver arrested after crashing into police station

A suspected drunken driver made the job of catching him an easy one by crashing his car into a police station.
Cheshire Police said the car "rolled" off a neighboring car park and into Frodsham police station shortly after midnight on Friday.
The force tweeted: "Man arrested for drink-drive after losing control on a car park and crashing into Frodsham police station. #epicfail."
A 49-year-old man is currently in police custody, said a spokeswoman.

Roman soldier arrested after breaking into home

A man from Perth, Australia, has been arrested after he allegedly broke into a house and changed into a fancy dress costume he found while rummaging through the owner's belongings.
Police said the 32-year-old man entered the house East Perth through an unsecured garage door just before 7:00pm on Friday. The man allegedly stole several items and found a fancy dress costume of a Roman soldier, which he put on.
He ran from the property after being disturbed by the home owner and was caught a short time later by members of the public.
The man has been charged with several offenses including aggravated burglary, stealing and possession of tools to break into a house. He is due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court.

People in History


Ione Bright, 1912.
Ione Bright, 1912.

Young Faces Of The American Civil War

Somehow we expect their faces to be different, not so staggeringly modern looking. Place them in contemporary clothing and all of these young men would not look out of place in a mall or a high school yearbook.

Yet these extraordinary ambrotype and tintype photographs were taken during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Almost 150 years separates their lives from our own yet their youthful faces retain a powerful resonance and an immediacy which brings that dreadful conflict into our imagination.

Check #927

In August of 1868 this check authorized payment from the U.S. Treasury to Eduard de Stoeckl, Minister to the United States from the Russian Empire, of $7,200,000 ($119,000,000 in 2014 dollars) for the purchase of what many considered to be worthless land:
Already, so it was said, we were burdened with territory we had no population to fill. The Indians within the present boundaries of the republic strained our power to govern aboriginal peoples. Could it be that we would now, with open eyes, seek to add to our difficulties by increasing the number of such peoples under our national care? The purchase price was small; the annual charges for administration, civil and military, would be yet greater, and continuing. The territory included in the proposed cession was not contiguous to the national domain. It lay away at an inconvenient and a dangerous distance. The treaty had been secretly prepared, and signed and foisted upon the country at one o'clock in the morning. It was a dark deed done in the night… The New York World said that it was a "sucked orange." It contained nothing of value but furbearing animals, and these had been hunted until they were nearly extinct. Except for the Aleutian Islands and a narrow strip of land extending along the southern coast the country would be not worth taking as a gift… Unless gold were found in the country much time would elapse before it would be blessed with Hoe printing presses, Methodist chapels and a metropolitan police. It was "a frozen wilderness."

Ancient Indian aircraft on agenda of major science conference

Indian Vedic myths tell of ancient pilots flying craft around the world and out of this world. But some think the myths were true, and that modern science has it all wrong.
by Eric Mack
The Wright brothers were a little late to the aviation game when you consider that pilots in ancient India were flying aircraft not only around the world, but from planet to planet as well. At least, that's one of the claims scheduled to be presented at the Indian Science Congress beginning Saturday at the University of Mumbai, in a session titled "Ancient Indian Aviation Technology."The presenters of the session are apparently serious in their belief that ancient Indian planes were not only able to travel across the solar system, but also "could move left, right, as well as backwards, unlike modern planes which only fly forward," according to one of the speakers, Captain Anand J Bodas, quoted in the Mumbai Mirror.
It's easy enough to fly around the Internet and find plenty of material from folks who believe we were visited by ancient astronauts or that humans had cracked flight much earlier than 1903. But the Indian Science Congress is not the type of gathering where you would normally find such topics on the agenda. Most of the other sessions are on topics more fitting of a university science setting, such as biodiversity, quantum chemistry or fusion.
The session is tucked into a symposium on "Ancient Sciences Through Sanskrit," with other talks on things like the "Neuroscience of Yoga" or "Scientific Principles of Ancient Indian Architecture and Civil Engineering."
The idea of mixing in a serious talk on ancient Indian astronauts with presentations on more rigorous research and science policy issues at a major science conference has drawn the ire of Dr. Ram Prasad Gandhiraman, a NASA scientist at the agency's Ames research center in California. Gandhiraman has collected hundreds of signatures from other scientists around the world on a petition demanding that the session be cancelled.
The petition also cites what Gandhiraman sees as increasing political attempts to mix mythology and science in India:
"We as scientific community should be seriously concerned about the infiltration of pseudo-science in science curricula with backing of influential political parties," the petition reads. "Giving a scientific platform for a pseudo-science talk is worse than a systematic attack that has been carried out by politically powerful pseudo-science propagandists in the recent past. If we scientists remain passive, we are betraying not only the science, but also our children."
The Sanskrit text that describes the ancient flying machines which Bodas cites, the Vaimanika Shastra, has itself been studied thoroughly by scientists who have concluded that very few of the craft it describes would likely be able to fly at all.
This leaves a few possible explanations: ancient Indian aviation truly is the stuff of mythology, or alternate ancient laws of physics allowed ancient astronauts to fly all over in shoddily conceived craft, by today's standards. Perhaps the answer lies in a study of this "bone" on Mars, left behind by an ancient Indian "pilot?"

Sleep Inside a "Boulder" in the Swiss Alps

Bureau A, a studio in Geneva, Switzerland, created what looks like a boulder on the outside, but is actually a cabin with just enough living space for one. Named "Antoine," the structure, designed to blend in perfectly with the Swiss Alps where it is now placed, is a nod to the Swiss idea of observing the Alps from hidden places within them, according to the design studio. Their site explains,
"The mountains have the power to call for feelings of fascination and fear at the same time. Switzerland has a strong tradition of observing the Alps, living with them, hiding inside them. The awe and the anxiety that this monumental landscape appeals is reflected in the writings of Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, one of the most important Swiss writers. His novel, Derborence, describes the massive rock fall that covered the pastures of the valley of Lizerne in 1714. Antoine, the main character, survives seven weeks under the rocks before he manages to reach his village, and life.

ANTOINE is a tribute to the alpine experience and to the writer. The small wooden cabin, big enough for the life of one man, is hidden inside a projected concrete rock. Referring to the long lasting Swiss tradition of hidden bunkers, the project integrates the highly urbanized landscape of the Alps. Already described by the French philosopher Paul Virilio in 1975, military architecture conducted by principles of camouflage has, for long, fascinated the architects."
The cabin contains a fireplace, bed, table, stool and window. According to Bureau A, any inhabitant of the cabin accepts the risk of the shelter being situated in an area where it's susceptible to rock falls. Not only is it fit for a Thoreau, but a daredevil Thoreau!

Read more about the cabin and see pictures of the inside at the Bureau A website.

Snowstorm in the Grand Canyon

Last month, we got to see the Grand Canyon filled to the brim with fog. On this past New Year's Eve, snow poured into the Grand Canyon area, making it a winter wonderland. Many of the roads remained open, but driving over them could be hazardous. Thankfully, the National Park Service staff was able to take some great photos of the snow.