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

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1699   The Treaty of Karlowitz ends the war between Austria and the Turks.  
1720   Guilio Alberoni is ordered out of Spain after his abortive attempt to restore his country's empire.  
1788   A fleet of ships carrying convicts from England lands at Sydney Cove in Australia. The day is since known as Australia's national day.
1861   Louisiana secedes from the Union.  
1863   President Lincoln names General Joseph Hooker to replace Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac.  
1875   Pinkerton agents, hunting Jesse James, kill his 18-year-old half-brother and seriously injure his mother with a bomb.  
1885   General "Chinese" Gordon is killed on the palace steps in Khartoum by Sudanese Mahdists in Africa.   
1924   Petrograd is renamed Leningrad.
1934   Germany signs a 10-year non-aggression pact with Poland, breaking the French alliance system.  
1942   American Expeditionary Force lands in Northern Ireland.  
1943   The first OSS (Office of Strategic Services) agent parachutes behind Japanese lines in Burma.  
1964   Eighty-four people are arrested in a segregation protest in Atlanta.  
1969   California is declared a disaster area after two days of flooding and mud slides.  
2005   Condoleezza Rice is appointed to the post of secretary of state. The post makes her the highest ranking African-American woman ever to serve in an U.S. presidential cabinet.

The Truth Hurts


The ever-growing list of Obama veto threats

If these bills reach his desk, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto them:
point-obama—Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Would ban most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
—No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Would ban taxpayer funding for abortion, a prohibition that is already largely in effect.
—Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. Would accelerate the approval of natural gas pipeline projects by requiring a decision on applications within 12 months.
—Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. Amendments would overturn Obama’s executive actions on immigration and expose hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants to deportation.
—Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015. Would establish tougher requirements for writing federal regulations, which critics say would create confusion and delays.
—Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act. Would weaken requirements under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, which put banks and Wall Street under the most sweeping rules since the Great Depression.
—Keystone XL Pipeline Act. Would approve construction of a long-stalled oil pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
—Save American Workers Act of 2015. Would narrow the definition of fulltime workers who must be offered employer-provided health insurance from those working at least 30 hours weekly to those with a 40-hour minimum.
Besides those specific bills, Obama has also threatened to veto any bill that places new sanctions against Iran, saying they would threaten ongoing negotiations over its nuclear program.

Now repugican senators Say Climate Change Is Real, ‘But It’s Not Our Fault’

Climate Change Mitch McConnel
Sounding like kids on a playground, repugican senators on Wednesday admitted something bad has happened, but “we didn’t do it!”
The U.S. Senate voted 98-1 to approve a resolution stating “it is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.” Then, about 15 minutes later, the Senate rejected a second resolution that said climate change is real and caused by humans.
The first resolution was approved – and co-sponsored – by one of the most outspoken climate deniers in the Senate, Jim Inhofe (r-OK), a man who literally wrote a book on how climate change is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated.” The only Senator to vote against the resolution was Roger Wicker (r-MS).
Senators agreeing that climate change is real? Well, not exactly. At the last minute, right before a vote was taken, Inhofe took the floor to state that he would be co-sponsoring and approving the amendment on the grounds that yes, climate change is real, but human-caused climate change is not. “Man cannot change climate,” Inhofe said. “The hoax is that there are some people that are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful that they can change climate.”
The resolution was originally put forth by Seator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as an amendment to the bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It was widely seen as a way to corner Republicans – a way for Democrats to say “Fine, if you want to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, you have to go on record about whether you think global warming is real.”
Fortunately, the effort to get every Senator on the record about their stance on human-caused climate change was all for naught. Shortly after the vote on Whitehouse’s resolution, the Senate also took up an amendment from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), which stated that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it. That amendment failed, however, following a short speech from Lisa Murkowski (r-AK) saying that the amendment’s inclusion of the word “significantly” — as in, humans “significantly” contribute to global warming — should warrant a “no” vote. Schatz’s amendment failed 50-49 (it needed 60 votes to pass), but it does mean that a slim majority of the U.S. Senate acknowledges that climate science is a real and valid thing.
Among the votes against Schatz’ amendment acknowledging that climate change is real were John McCain (r-AZ) and Rob Portman (r-OH). The repugicans who voted to say that climate change is real and significantly caused by humans included Lamar Alexander (r-TN), Kelly Ayotte (r-NH), Susan Collins (r-ME), Mark Kirk (r-IL), and Lindsey Graham (r-SC).
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), ranking Democrat on the Senate’s environmental panel, called the vote “a small victory, but an important one.” The Senate has gone on record to agree that climate change is real, but the governmental body is still split on its causes — other amendments introduced later in the day that attributed climate change to the actions of humans failed to receive the 60 votes required to pass, despite some repugican support. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who introduced one of the failed amendments, said the vote nonetheless meant there was “a softening of the attitude of the deniers,” and that they were “losing ground in the face of public opinion.”
Schatz said there was “an emerging bipartisan group of people who believe that climate change is real and caused by humans and solvable,” but many repugicans were staunch in their position that people have nothing to do with changing temperatures. Despite his vote, Inhofe called supporters of the theory “arrogant” to believe humans were so powerful, stating that “man can’t change climate.” Others saw the amendments as unnecessary distractions designed to stymie the signing of the contentious Keystone XL bill. “If you’re using climate change as a reason not to build this pipeline,” repugican Lindsey Graham said, “you’re kidding yourself or you’re misleading the public.”
All this foolishness about whether climate change is real and who is or is not to blame, was attached to a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Should the bill — which would see the construction of a vast oil pipeline from Canada to the United States — pass congress, President Obama has promised to veto it.
Will a Presidential veto let the senate off the hook? Will they again be free to deny climate change? Stay tuned.

Mitch McConnell Cut Off Keystone XL Debate So repugicans Can Meet With The Koch Brothers

mitch mcconnell ends debate on keystone xl
Outraged Senate Democrats are livid because Mitch McConnell abruptly cut off debate on the Keystone XL bill so that Republicans could attend a weekend conference with the Koch brothers.
Video of McConnell cutting off debate:
Politico reported:
Blindsided Democrats accused the Kentucky repugican of shutting down a Senate that he had promised to run in a more open way than their own leaders did. They also wondered aloud if repugicans were trying to wrap up all Keystone business to accommodate a conference scheduled for this weekend in Palm Springs, Calif., that’s affiliated with the billionaire wingnuts Charles and David Koch.
“McConnell’s rush to vote on amendments without providing time to read or debate them could have something to do with this Koch retreat tomorrow, which a number of repugicans are reportedly attending…,” Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said by email.
Jentleson and several other Democratic aides suggested that McConnell might have acted to let the Senate repugican cabal’s trio of expected White House hopefuls, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, make their way to the conference.
The open amendment filled Senate process that Mitch McConnell promised evaporated as soon as the Koch brothers came calling. What McConnell doesn’t want to admit is that the Democratic strategy to turn Keystone XL into a real jobs/climate change bill was working. Senate Democrats were going to keep holding repugican feet to the fire, and they didn’t like it.
There is no way that McConnell was about let anything get in the way of the repugican cabal’s real duty of serving the Koch brothers. When push came to shove, McConnell quickly went back on his word and shut down the so-called “open” process. McConnell behavior is evidence of the repugican-misled Senate’s real priorities. Nothing is more important to Mitch McConnell and Senate repugicans than the Koch brothers.

Horror and Hubris

Steve King Is Keeping An Enemies List As He Destroys the repugican cabal 
Steve King gloated over his success in winning control of the party's immigration policy and noted that he keeps a list of those repugicans who criticized him.…
steve-kingJust a few short years ago, Steve King (r-Iowa) was persona non-grata in his own cabal after the teabagger repugican accused DREAMers of being drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes” due to all of that pot smuggling he imagines immigrants do. It was so bad that John Boehner called him an “asshole.”
Well, he’s back and he’s taking names- repugican names.
In an interview with MSNBC, King gloated over his success in winning control of the cabal’s immigration policy and noted that he keeps a list of those repugicans who criticized him:
Since then, King has decisively seized control of the House repugican cabal’s immigration agenda. He forced through an amendment in 2013 to block DACA, which grants temporary deportation relief to DREAMers. He also personally crafted a border security bill with Boehner’s approval last summer that again targeted the program, and whipped wingnuts behind a Homeland Security bill this month that would expose virtually all undocumented immigrants to blanket deportation. Boehner backed away from immigration reform entirely last June even though a comprehensive bill had passed the Senate in 2013 with bipartisan support. And, despite some happy talk from repugican cabal leaders, the prospects for legislation look bleak this year.
King is not above gloating. His staff kept a running list of some 12-16 prominent repugicans who’ve leveled personal criticisms against him. The congressman said he went over it himself the other day, just for old time’s sake.
“Their agenda has been marginalized,” a smiling King told msnbc. “Mine’s been strengthened.”
So for those repugicans who feel like somebody’s watching them, chances are good it’s Steve King. Maybe he’s keeping track of the calf muscle size of his party members, lest he suspect any of them who actually want to address our immigration problems of being drug mules.
Now King is running the House Republican immigration agenda, and that should explain a lot. MSNBC noted the horror of the GOP, “Meanwhile, immigration reform advocates spent much of the last two years trying to make King politically radioactive only to watch in horror as the party has moved closer and closer to his hardline position.”
But the hubris is far from over. Instead of having learned a lesson as he destroys his party with Latino voters, King is upping the ante. He’ll take the White House hopefuls down, too, thanks so much.
As certain repugican 2016 hopefuls mull over skipping Iowa caucuses in order to avoid being “bullied” by King, he pushed back reminding them they need him:
“I would say to Jeb Bush that, since Ronny Raygun, no one has ascended to the presidency as a repugican without first winning the Ames straw poll and the Iowa caucus,” he said, referring to shrub’s father and brother, the shrub. “If you can’t sell your positions in Iowa, what’s the argument as to where you can?”
Horror and hubris. Sounds about right for the modern day repugican cabal. This is the party that is also currently trying to explain that they are not pro-rape. Okay?
King may have let his last name go to his head, but it’s the repugican cabal that can’t control its extremists and instead has been letting them wag the dog for far too long.

Joni Ernst's family actually received more than $460,000 in federal subsidies

Despite Joni Ernst's (r-IA) rhetoric about growing up poor on Tuesday night, her family actually received hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid between 1995 and 2009, the District Sentinel news co-op reported.Farm subsidy records indicate that the freshman senator's father, Richard Culver, has received $38,395 in commodity subsidies and conservation payments, with all but $12 of the money being used for support of his corn crops. Ernst's uncle, Dallas Culver, has reportedly received $250,000 in federal corn subsidies and $117,141 in additional aid. And her paternal grandfather, Harold Culver, got an additional $57,479 in aid between 1995 and 2001.
Ernst did not mention her family's use of federal programs during her response to the State of the Union. Instead, she said she was raised "simply" and taught to live within her means.

Newly Revealed Documents Show Police Wanted to Arrest Former Meet the Press Host David Gregory

Two long years and many fights later, the arrest warrant affidavit for David Gregory has finally been revealed.
Thanks to vigorous efforts by Legal Insurrection and Judicial Watch, we know now that police wanted to charge then Meet the Press host David Gregory with illegal possession of a high-capacity gun magazine after he brandished one on the air.
screen capture from MSNBC In an affidavit finally obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch for Legal Insurrection, it was determined, “Based on the aforementioned facts and circumstances of this investigation, your Affiant believes there is probable cause that the offense of possessing a ‘high-capacity’ magazine was committed in the District of Columbia. Therefore your Affiant requests the issuance of an arrest warrant for Gregory, David Michael.”
The only thing that saved the host was Irvin Nathan, the D.C. prosecutor, who declined to prosecute Gregory because he claimed Gregory had no other criminal intent. (No, this won’t work for you.)
William A. Jacobson at the “influential” conservative website of Legal Insurrection summed up the frustrating situation after years of fighting to obtain the documents:
This is likely the final chapter in the saga of our two-year long fight to obtain important documents regarding the non-prosecution of David Gregory for possessing on Meet the Press an illegal high-capacity ammunition magazine.
The short version is that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department warned NBC News that it could not possess an actual high-capacity magazine, but NBC News went ahead and did it anyway. The MPD recommended a warrant for Gregory’s arrest, but that request was nixed by the D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan because — my paraphrase — Gregory was just too nice a guy and had no other criminal intent.
That attitude stood in stark contrast to the D.C. Attorney General’s vigorous prosecution of other lesser-known people who also were nice people and had no other criminal intent, but violated D.C.’s gun laws.
The folks at Legal Insurrection made the point that they didn’t want Gregory arrested, but they feel that the law itself is ridiculous and needs to be changed. They don’t believe it will be changed until it’s applied to “high profile citizens.” If you are not David Gregory, the consequences for this misdemeanor can include up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to one year in in prison.
Gregory used the magazine during a December 23, 2012 interview with the head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, after the Newtown shootings. The problem is, it ‘s illegal to possess a large capacity magazine in D.C., even if it’s empty.
Two years ago, in January of 2013, the prosecutor’s office “determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record”. But it was unclear what went on behind the scenes, hence the Freedom of Information Act requests by Legal Insurrection, whose ultimate goal is to have the law abolished. Two years and many run arounds later, we finally have the facts.
Don’t try this at home, because your “intent” might not be so clear to prosecutors.
As silly as it might seem to arrest a TV show host for breaking the law on air when it seems harmless enough, the law should be applied to everyone equally and in fact, it could be argued that those in positions of power and influence like a TV host have a greater responsibility to model legal behavior.
No matter what, ascribing intentions to people gets into fallacious argument territory and kicks the door open to inequitable application of the law between the haves and the have-nots.

American student arrested for Arabic flash cards in airport after TSA freaked out settles lawsuit

Nick George.
“Five years ago, the Philadelphia police thought that carrying Arabic-language flashcards was enough to warrant the arrest of an innocent traveler,” writes that traveler, Nick George.
With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, he reached a settlement today in a lawsuit brought against the Philadelphia police department. America is safe once again for people who like to study foreign languages and read books on foreign policy in airports.
Here's the text of the settlement [PDF] which awards him $25,000 and ends the long-running legal battle.
Nick was heading off to start his senior year at Pomona College in California, back in August 2009, when cops detained, aggressively interrogated, handcuffed, and locked him in a jail cell for nearly five hours at the Philadelphia International Airport.
Why was he targeted? Because Nick, a dual major in physics and Middle Eastern studies, was carrying a set of English-Arabic flashcards in for his language class--and Rogue Nation, a book critical of U.S. foreign policy that was written by a former Reagan administration official.
“It should go without saying that this is perfectly innocuous, First Amendment-protected activity,” says Nick. “Turns out, it doesn't.”
At the metal detector at airport security, Transportation Security Administration agents asked me to empty my pockets. I took the set of flashcards from my pocket and handed them to the officers. After I cleared the metal detector, they asked me to step aside for additional screening. One of them started rifling through the cards, and another took the book out of my carry-on. The minutes ticked by, and I got more confused about why I was being detained and more concerned that I would miss my flight. One of them called a supervisor.
After a half-hour delay at the security line, the supervisor showed up, and things turned from annoying to surreal. After looking at the book and flashcards, the supervisor asked me: "Do you know who did 9/11?" Taken totally aback, I answered: "Osama Bin Laden." Then she asked me if I knew what language Osama Bin Laden spoke. "Arabic," I replied. "So do you see why these cards are suspicious?" she finished.
Imagine going from being in line at the airport to having a TSA supervisor imply you had some connection with the worst act of terrorism ever committed against your country – all over the course of a few minutes.

London cop who repeatedly kicked, beat woman who wouldn't leave her child's sickbed cleared

Officer Warren Luke was cleared of the charge of "actual bodily harm" after he admitted to causing more than 40 injuries to a woman who wouldn't leave the hospital bedside of her seven year old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
The officer said he beat the woman up because he thought that gassing her would endanger her daughter. He described kicking the woman in the face with his booted foot a "distraction strike," and explained that "My footwear was a boot but it's light."
Security staff at the hospital who witnessed the incident told the court they were appalled by it. Two police constables who also attended the incident gave evidence for the prosecution. Laura Riley, one of the officers, wept as she described the scene, and the officer Mary Clark described the incident as “just horrific”.
The mother told the Guardian that her daughter had been sick since she was a newborn and she had fought hard ever since to keep her alive; at one point the baby had been on a life-support machine; she had pleaded with doctors not to switch it off.
A Metropolitan police service spokesman confirmed that Luke had been cleared of actual bodily harm and said that a misconduct review would take place.

Monet Worth $12 Million is Repaired After Man Punches a Hole Through It

A man named Andrew Shannon visited The National Gallery of Ireland on June 29, 2012, walked up to a painting by Monet entitled Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat and punched a hole clean through the canvas. The destruction of the painting, created in 1874 and worth approximately $12 million, sent Shannon to jail for five years.
Restoration experts set to work on the process of repairing the painting, a complicated process that took 18 months. The lengthy reconstruction began with laying the painting flat, paint side down on a layer of tissue to protect it. The canvas was removed from the frame and the torn section had to be aligned and rejoined in a painstaking, multi-step procedure involving a high-powered microscope.
Read about the repair in detail and see photos of each step, as well as the finished restoration, here.

Even Frankenstein's Monster Enjoys Tea n' Toast

Computer Vision Syndrome

Explained at Vox:
A significant number of heavy computer users experience a range of symptoms that researchers group under the umbrella phrase "computer vision syndrome."...
Studies have shown that when people read from computer screens, their blink rate plummets — but this also happens when people read words from a printed page. In either case, when you blink less frequently, your eyes are much more likely to become dried out....
Eye strain is the second-most common complaint of computer vision syndrome, and can be accompanied by headaches and pain in or around the eyes... It may also lead to a related problem: difficulty focusing...
Observational studies have found that, in general, a person's level of education — and thus the amount of reading they've done over their lifetime — is positively correlated with their risk of myopia. But the direction of causation could go either way: they could have read more growing up, becoming both more educated and myopic, or for various reasons people prone to myopia could be more likely to read more...
Every twenty minutes, a person should look away from their desk for twenty seconds, and focus on something at least twenty feet away," he says. This prevents your eyes from focusing at near distances for extremely long durations, forcing them to alter their focal distance. It's also a good idea to consciously do some blinking at this sort of regular interval, in order to prevent excessive dryness. Your desk should also be set up in a way to minimize eye stress. It's recommended that your monitor be positioned 20 to 40 inches in front of your eyes, and the top of the monitor should line up with your eye level, so you're looking down about 15 degrees when you stare at the screen.

Diet affects brain iron levels

dietDiet affects brain iron levels differently in men and women

High brain iron levels have been associated with neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Even healthy adults have higher iron concentrations in their brains as they […]

Boys fare worse

If streets are carfull, be careful.
Low-income boys fare worse in wealth’s shadow

Low-income boys fare worse, not better, when they grow up alongside more affluent neighbors, according to new findings from Duke University. In fact, the greater the economic gap between the […]

Tonal Languages and Humidity

The weather impacts not only upon our mood but also our voice. An international research team including scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Psycholinguistics, Evolutionary Anthropology and Mathematics in […]

Lucid dreams and Metacognition

Lucid dreams and metacognition- Awareness of thinking -- awareness of dreamingLucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking — awareness of dreaming

To control one’s dreams and to live out there what is impossible in real life – a truly tempting idea. Some persons – so-called lucid dreamers -can do this. Researchers […]

Lucky Charms

alg_rabbits_footLucky charms: When are superstitions used most?

It might be a lucky pair of socks, or a piece of jewelry; whatever the item, many people turn to a superstition or lucky charm to help achieve a goal. […]

The Mouth Of Truth

Long before the modern lie detector and its harmlessly jittering graphs and wires were invented, the superstitious and untruthful faced a much more severe fate between the jaws of the Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Fate, an ancient carving which is said to bite the hands off of liars. While no one is exactly sure when or why the frieze was created, there are a number of theories.
Dating back to around the 1st century CE, the Mouth of Truth is a tall stone disc carved into a humanoid face with hollow holes for eyes and its gaping mouth. The original purpose of the large medallion has been theorized as everything from a ceremonial well cover, to a piece of fountain decoration, to a manhole cover. The face itself has been said to represent a pagan god although exactly which one is up for debate with scholars guessing at everyone from forest god Faunus, to sea god Oceanus, to a local river god.
While the origin is up for debate the one unifying legend surrounding the stone carving is that if one were to stick their hand inside the disc's mouth and tell a lie, the rocky maw would bite the offending hand off. This belief seems to have originated during the Middle Ages when the disc was supposedly used during trials having the accused put their hand in the slot and if found to be untruthful a hidden axeman would lop off the appendage. While this use seems to be apocryphal, the superstition persists to this day.
 The Mouth of Truth, which now rests outside the doors of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, has been used as a whimsical lie detector in a number of movies and video games, most famously in the 1953 romance, Roman Holiday, in which the carving was a major plot device.

Greenland Ice In 3-D

A 3-D view of the Greenland Ice Sheet opens window on ice historyA 3-D view of the Greenland Ice Sheet opens window on ice history

Scientists using ice-penetrating radar data collected by NASA’s Operation IceBridge and earlier airborne campaigns have built the first comprehensive map of layers deep inside the Greenland Ice Sheet, opening a […]

The First Humans on Mars

If a new partnership between NASA and Microsoft bears fruit, the first humans on Mars may not need to leave Earth.

Rosetta's Comet Is Really Weird

Early results from Europe’s ongoing Rosetta comet mission show the icy body, believed to be a remnant from the formation of the solar system, is far more complex and diverse than scientists expected.

Triple Transit

On Friday night, observers all across North America will witness a rare event (weather permitting).

Ceres Might Be a Dwarf

Ceres is an embryonic planet that had the misfortune of seeing Jupiter crush its dreams of becoming a legit planet on its own. But the more scientists learn about the plucky dwarf, the more they like it.

Black Hole Goes On Crash Diet

For the first time, astronomers have observed the rapid dimming of a distant quasar and realized that the active black hole engine must have gone on an extreme diet.

Mystery Galactic Bubble

Giant bubbles of gas that erupted from the core of the Milky Way galaxy millions of years ago are expanding out into space at mind-blowing speeds, according to new observations that may help reveal how the strange balloon-like lobes formed.

Drone Invasion

Drones are taking over Earth -- will they soon invade Mars? If a new NASA project gains momentum, remote-controlled drone exploration of the red planet could soon become a thing.

Caribbean Bat Extinction

01 » Fossils link Caribbean bat extinction to humans  not climate change » University of FloridaFossils link Caribbean bat extinction to humans, not climate change

Sharing caves with millions of bats, the Caribbean’s first humans may have driven some species of the winged mammals to extinction. The new study appearing online today in Scientific Reports […]

Animal Pictures