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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking about you ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Classic Guitar ... !
Today is  -  Get Out Your Guitar Day

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

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Argentina - Brazil - Canada - Colombia - Ecuador - El Salvdor - Mexico - Nicaragua - Puerto Rico 
United States - Venezuela
Belgium - Bosnia/Herzegovina - Bulgaria - Czech Republic - England - Estonia - France - Germany 
Greece - Iceland - Ireland - Italy - Latvia - Lithuania - Moldova - Montenegro - Netherlands - Poland  Romania - Spain - Sweden - Turkey - Ukraine
Afghanistan - Burma - India - Indonesia - Kazakhstan - Malaysia -  Oman - Pakistan -  Saudi Arabia 
Sri Lanka - Tajikistan - Thailand
Morocco - South Africa
The Pacific

Today in History

660 BC   Traditional founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu Tenno.  
1531   Henry VIII is recognized as the supreme head of the Cult of England.  
1805   Sixteen-year-old Sacajawea, the Shoshoni guide for Lewis & Clark, gives birth to a son, with Meriwether Lewis serving as midwife.  
1809   Robert Fulton patents the steamboat.  
1815   News of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, finally reaches the United States.  
1858   14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, a French miller's daughter, claims to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.
1903   Congress passes the Expedition Act, giving antitrust cases priority in the courts.  
1904   President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims strict neutrality for the United States in the Russo-Japanese War.  
1910   Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and Eleanor Alexander announce their wedding date–June 20, 1910.
1926   The Mexican government nationalizes all cult property.
1936   The Reich arrests 150 catholic youth leaders in Berlin.
1939   The Negrin government returns to Madrid, Spain.  
1942   The German battleships Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Prinz Eugen begin their famed channel dash from the French port of Brest. Their journey takes them through the English Channel on their way back to Germany.  
1945   The meeting of the President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Marshal Joseph Stalin in Yalta, adjourns.  
1951   U.N. forces push north across the 38th parallel for the second time in the Korean war.
1953   Walt Disney's film Peter Pan premieres.  
1954   A 75,000-watt light bulb is lit at the Rockefeller Center in New York, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Thomas Edison's first light bulb.  
1955   Nationalist Chinese complete the evacuation of the Tachen Islands.  
1959   Iran turns down Soviet aid in favor of a U.S. proposal for aid.  
1962   Poet and novelist Sylvia Plath commits suicide in London at age 30.
1964   Cambodian Prince Sihanouk blames the United States for a South Vietnamese air raid on a village in his country.  
1965   President Lyndon Johnson orders air strikes against targets in North Vietnam, in retaliation for guerrilla attacks on the American military in South Vietnam.
1966   Vice President Hubert Humphrey begins a tour of Vietnam.  
1974   Communist-led rebels shower artillery fire into a crowded area of Phnom Pehn, killing 139 and injuring 46 others.  
1975   Mrs. Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman to lead the British Tory cabal.  
1990   South African political leader Nelson Mandela is released from prison in Paarl, South Africa, after serving more than 27 years of a life sentence.

Democratic Senator Proposes Law to End the Parental Rights of Rapists in Maryland

Currently, Maryland and 30 other states afford rapists full parental rights under the law.…
rape and parental rights
The repugicans continue to show us just how inept and barbaric they are.  No matter how many courses on how to talk to women they take, leave it to a repugican to pontificate on the “beauty” of rape.  One could argue that they are slowly evolving in the sense that at least they are ready to acknowledge the biological fact that women can get pregnant as a result of rape.
Currently, Maryland and 30 other states afford rapists full parental rights under the law.
Sponsored by Senator James Raskin,  The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, will bring an end to the nightmare that too many women (5% of rape victims of child bearing age) and their child are forced to endure in the name of protecting a rapist’s parental rights. The proposed bill has 29 co-sponsors.
As The Cecil Daily points out, a previous bill like this one passed through the Senate in the 2013 and 2014 sessions.  However, the House of Delegates versions died in the House Judiciary Committee without being voted on. Let’s hope for the rape survivors and their children in Maryland, this time the bill becomes law.
The bill requires a court hearing with 20 days of the mother’s request to terminate the parental rights of her alleged rapist.
There is a concession to those who fail to recognize that rape is NOT just another method of conception in that the law applies the “clear and convincing” evidence standard.  That means rape victims will have to apply the same standards that are used in other cases that seek to terminate parental rights.
In other words, for the purpose of terminating a rapist’s parental rights, there is no distinction between rapists and parents who conceived a child together with the consent of the other parent.
Of course, that still doesn’t go far enough for the “rape is just another method of conception” crowd.
The government relations director for the public defender’s office claimed: ”Both the standard of proof and the standard of evidence that’s being proposed by this bill is less than what is required in our criminal justice system.”
Well yeah, perhaps because the criminal justice standard isn’t applied in other parental termination cases, including the majority that involve crimes like child abuse and child neglect.  To suggest that there must be a criminal justice standard in this instance, in fact, calls for a higher standard of proof to terminate the parental rights of a rapist than a parent who is alleged to have committed a different crime.
The suggestion that women seeking to terminate the parental rights of her rapist should have to meet a higher standard than other cases of parental termination involving alleged criminal acts is another consequence of rape culture.
Rape is the only crime in which the victim is put on trial, which in part, explains why relatively few rapes are reported. Moreover, rape is the only crime in which the victim is all too often made to feel guilty or ashamed for being victimized, while the criminal is defended.  In fact, rape is the only crime in which the victim faces outright hostility from third parties under the illusion that SHE ruined HIS life. It’s the only crime where there is a presumption by some (most notably in the repugican cabal) that the victim lied or somehow deserved it.  It’s the one crime that the cabal of “law and order” not only persists in claiming that it isn’t “really” a crime but goes on to reward the crime by recognizing the rapist as a parent with all the rights (but none of the responsibilities) that entails.
When a rape results in pregnancy, rape is also the only crime in which it is possible for the criminal to blackmail their victim into not reporting the crime. Think Progress wrote about Shauna Prewitt’s experience in this regard back in 2013.
Prewitt was speaking from personal experience. She made headlines last year when she wrote an open letter to Todd Akin — who became infamous during the 2012 election cycle for claiming that women cannot be impregnated from a “legitimate rape” — about becoming pregnant after being raped. As she pursued charges against her rapist months later, he suddenly filed for custody rights over her daughter, sending her into a long and expensive court battle.
Prewitt when on to study law and write a paper on the subject for the Georgetown Law Journal in which she describes the life sentence that rape survivors and their child endures when, under the law, rape is treated as just another method of conception.
The reality is that rape is a crime.  Almost 5% of rape victims who are of child bearing years get pregnant as a result of rape.  These survivors of rape and their children deserve better than having forced legal ties to a violent criminal.  They shouldn’t have to meet higher standards than victims of other crimes be it within the criminal justice system or when seeking to terminate parental rights when the crime in question is rape.

Israeli Official: Boehner And Netanyahu Conspired “To Defy and Humiliate President Obama”

Obviously Boehner is frustrated that he has been outplayed and out-maneuvered at every turn by the President, and lacking the wherewithal to take on the President himself, he…
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah
Retribution is some form of punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong, whether the wrong is perceived or real. For the past four years, Boehner (r-OH) has likely perceived that President Barack Obama has inflicted all manner of wrongs on him due to the ease the President is able to thwart repugican efforts to rule America according to their masters the Koch brothers. Obviously Boehner is frustrated that he has been outplayed and out-maneuvered at every turn by the President, and lacking the wherewithal to take on the President himself, he marshaled support and conspired with a foreigner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to “defy and humiliate President Obama.”
Many political observers, the White House, and Democrats were rightly incensed when Boehner invited the foreigner to address a joint session of Congress without going through normal State Department protocols, and their supposition that Boehner deliberately went around the normal diplomatic channels as an act of defiance against the Executive Branch seemed more than credible. Now it is official; Boehner’s illegal invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress represents a coordinated attack on President Barack Obama by the radical repugican wingnuts and all their bad actors. This official reiteration of what many Democrats suspected all along is according to the Israeli consul general.
As reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yaron Sideman said that Boehner, congressional repugicans, the repugican jewish coven, the zionist cabal of America, and radical christian leaders’ only purpose “in inviting and supporting Netanyahu’s speech is to defy and humiliate President Barack Obama by addressing the Iranian issue.” In most people’s minds, Boehner and Netanyahu’s conspiracy was more than just to defy and humiliate the President on Iran; it was an attempt to subvert America’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions to start another Middle East war at the behest of Israel. In fact, according to Boehner, his illegal conspiracy was specifically to allow Netanyahu “send a clear message to the White House” that in matters regarding America’s Middle East policy, repugicans are committed to Israel.
It makes no difference how committed to Israel un-American repugicans are, foreign policy is the purview of the Executive Branch led by President Obama; not Boehner, not Israel, not repugicans, and certainly not the warmongering foreigner Netanyahu. According to the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court, “all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President. It is given implicitly and by the fact that the Executive Branch, by its very nature, is empowered to conduct foreign affairs in a way that Congress cannot and should not.” John Boehner, like Israeli foreigner Benjamin Netanyahu, has no allegiance to the U.S. Constitution or the need to adhere to rulings by the United States Supreme Court; no foreigner does.
Many Democrats already regarded Boehner and Netanyahu’s actions a deliberate, well-planned, attack on the sitting President of the United States; including Representative John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis is part of a growing number of Democrats who signaled they are not attending Netanyahu’s speech because “what the speaker did is an affront to the President and the State Department.” Now, according to an Israeli consul general, it is official that “an affront to the President” is precisely what Boehner and Netanyahu intended in their conspiracy to thwart American foreign policy.
Another Democrat, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, said he was “very disappointed that the speaker would cause such a ruckus” in his leadership role in Congress, and stated what the White House and others have said on first learning Boehner violated the 216 year old “Logan Act;” Boehner’s action was “unprecedented.”
His action was also illegal according to 18 U.S.C. § 953. The Logan Act “forbids unauthorized citizens” like Boehner “from negotiating with foreign governments.” The law expressly prohibits “Any citizen from directly or indirectly commencing or carrying on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence or defeat the measures of the United States.” Netanyahu, an anti-Obama foreigner, cannot be punished under federal law, but Boehner can be and should be charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to serve time in a federal penitentiary; not for conspiring with a foreigner to “defy and humiliate President Barack Obama,” but for breaking the law.
Representative Butterfield, a jewish Democrat, joined many Israelis in harshly criticizing Netanyahu saying that by accepting Boehner’s invitation without talking to President Barack Obama, the prime minister “politicized” his visit to the United States. Kentucky Democratic Representative John Yarmuth called Boehner’s invitation “close to subversion,” and noted that it is part of a devious American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) fundraising effort to garner support for sabotaging nuclear talks with Iran.
Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, has already written that if Boehner does not cancel the speech he will not attend. He said, “I refuse to be part of a reckless act of political grandstanding, and I will not participate in a calculated slight from the speaker and the House leadership to attack necessary diplomacy. When nuclear security and Middle East stability hang in the balance, no member who cares about peace and Israel should participate in this effort to undercut our President in the middle of delicate nuclear negotiations with Iran, while inappropriately projecting political support for Mr. Netanyahu in the middle of Israel’s election.”
It is an abomination that Boehner’s need for vengeance against President Obama, and fealty to Israel, overshadows any pretense of loyalty to the United States, or federal law, he claims to support. It is one thing to support Israel and send them billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to prop up their military, but quite another to conspire with Israel’s leader to thwart America’s negotiations for a peaceful resolution to Iran’s “alleged” nuclear threat. Boehner is not a jew, but he would do well to heed the sentiment of Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY) who said “I am a jewish member of Congress, and a strong supporter of Israel. But my first obligation is to the Constitution of the United States, not to the Constitution of Israel.”
Boehner has been an unethical and criminally-complicit cretin since he first entered Congress. During his tenure as Speaker of the House he has been an impotent malcontent whose legendary inability to lead pales in comparison to how often he has been bested and outmaneuvered by President Obama. Now, by his own admission, has he not only illegally conspired with a foreigner “to defeat the measures of the United States” foreign policy in the Middle East,” he has exposed an inherently petty character flaw that would embarrass even a low-class Koch sycophant; the need for a foreigner’s assistance for retribution in a sick attempt ”to defy and humiliate President Barack Obama;” something that will never happen.
Since Boehner is incapable of suffering humiliation for his public exposure as a vindictive un-American, he should certainly suffer the full weight and power of the law and go to jail. Not for conspiring with a foreigner to “defy and humiliate the President,” but for violating federal law and “conspiring to defeat the measures of the United States;” something most Americans consider treason.

Abandoning Sarah Palin

The wingnuts are abandoning Sarah Palin.
Her recent speech was described thusly in the National Review: “The foreordained culmination of a slow and unseemly descent into farce." 

Daily Comic Relief

Must be a repugican

Virginia Pastor Arrested After Lying About Being Shot And Robbed By A Black Man

by Randa Morris 
On February 5, Louisa County, Virginia media outlets reported that Pastor George Hunley had been robbed and shot twice by a black man, after he stopped to offer help to a family whom he said was stranded on the road.
According to WTVR:
“Hunley told police he had stopped to check on a man, woman and infant he saw in a car along the side of Chalk Level Road. That is when the ‘Good Samaritan’ was robbed. A fight between the man and Hunley allegedly ensued and Hunley was shot twice.
Here’s more on the original story, from CBS 6.
Just 24 hours later, WTVR and WWBT reported that the supposed “good Samaritan pastor” was arrested for making false statements to police. Loiusa Sheriff Office’s Major Don Lowe told reporters on February 6:
“Everything right now points to us believing that there was no armed robbery. There was no biracial couple. None of that really happened.”
According to local law enforcement, Hunley’s story quickly fell apart. There was no blood in his vehicle, which he claimed to have used to drive home from the alleged robbery scene. Police also recovered items Hunley claimed were stolen during the robbery, including his wallet and checkbook.
According to WWBT, police said they weren’t able to locate the crime scene:
“Even after he pointed it out to us. There was no evidence of any blood struggle, any kind of marks in the road where people had pulled over or anything of that nature.”  
Here’s WWBT’s report on Hunley’s arrest:
NBC12 – WWBT – Richmond, VA News On Your Side According to NBC 12, Hunley has been formally charged with falsely summonsing a police officer with intent to deceive or mislead. He was released on $2,500 bond.
There’s no word from police in regards to Hunley’s motive in all of this.
Now, about that turkey fryer fire which decimated Hunley’s home last year… it looks like there just happened to be a propane tank very near to the place that Hunley was supposedly frying the Thanksgiving turkey.
According to his own statements, he conveniently went out to the shed, leaving the turkey fryer unattended, just minutes before the whole thing went, “KABLAM!”
Nothing odd about that story.
I hear the good pastor and his wife got a brand new house following their ordeal.

A Murder Here, A Suicide There, Ask repugicans If They Care!

In yet another senseless gun episode, a highly respected, accomplished and beloved professor, Raja Fayad, was shot to death on campus on the afternoon of Thursday, February 5,…
raja fayad
If the recent tragic “woman scorned” murder/suicide in an office of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health building, in Columbia, were to have a theme song, it would surely be Queen’s rock and roll classic, Another One Bites the Dust. “Are you standing on the edge of your seat? Out of the doorway, the bullets rip.”
Yep, sounds like an ode to the NRA. In yet another senseless gun episode, a highly respected, accomplished and beloved professor, Raja Fayad, was shot to death on campus on the afternoon of Thursday, February 5, 2015.
Fayad had acquired a medical degree in his native Syria before moving to the U.S. and entering the world of academia. Fayad became a major force at the School of Public Health. He was especially involved in anatomy and physiology. He was also deep into digestive and colon cancer research and headed a number of department programs. In short, Fayad was an academic exemplar of what a college professor should be.
In his personal life, he had at least one romantic relationship that fizzled out. His ex-wife, Sunghee Kwon, of likely Korean descent, given the name, continued to live with Fayad after their divorce a few years ago. In late 2014, that arrangement abruptly changed as Fayad moved out of the home, while Kwon remained.
There’s confusion over what happened next. Some sources say he moved into a long-term hotel with a family member. Other more tabloidish Internet sites, changed the description of family member to “new girlfriend.” In any event, Kwon took deadly umbrage to something, and marched onto the USC campus and up to a combination lab/office where her ex was working alone. She proceeded to empty a 9 mm clip, or at least a number of rounds, into Fayad’s upper body and subsequently pointed the weapon at her stomach, pulled the trigger once more and ended her own life.
There was rage in the shooting. Any detective or psychologist will tell you that when multiple gunshots are fired, the emptying of a clip is the same as the emptying of fierce emotions toward the victim. All professional people have a personal life as well. I don’t want to speculate on motive, I just want to speculate on why we, once again, are faced with the specter of deadly gunplay, regardless of the reason.
In my home state, you can pretty much conceal carry anywhere. Surprisingly, a university campus is not one of those places as far as I know, though one legislator has been pushing bills for the last 7 years to make it so. His bill would allow employees, if not students, to pack. This incident almost guarantees its passage in 2015. Because that’s what we do when there’s a horrific killing or murder involving guns. We pass legislation to allow more guns.
Do me a favor. Put a pencil in your hand. Have a pal recreate the Fayad shooting. That is, shooting someone who is not expecting to be shot. Your buddy can use his forefinger, stuffed in a pocket as the proxy weapon and when he/she pulls the finger from the pocket, points it at you and yells BANG, see if you can shoot him or her first before that sequence is completed. Remember, you’re symbolically HOLDING a gun. You can repeat that exercise a thousand times and a thousand times, you’re dead.
If someone comes to your church, school, office, home, a bar, or anywhere else you might be and that someone wants to shoot you unexpectedly, you cannot, will not, be able to react in time to defend yourself. Most states welcome concealed carry in all the above venues. I tried the finger as gun experiment with my wife. We’ve both fired guns. She has great reaction time while driving and in sports. It would have made no difference. She would have been toast with little more than a flicker of reaction. And with a semi-auto, I doubt there would have been any return fire after the first shot.
If Adam Lanza’s Newtown massacre of 20 six and seven-year-old children and six school staff members a couple of years ago, didn’t stir up the masses for sensible gun reform, a campus murder/suicide surely won’t do the trick. For you Sunday morning christians, I guess maybe Lanza was carrying out dog’s wrath on the 6 and 7-year-old wrongdoers.
I won’t call names here, because there are no names in any language that could truly convey what I feel about people who don’t care if children die.
And was an innocent mother a wrongdoer? She gets killed in a Wal-Mart by her two-year-old. Nobody with any power in our legislature will lift that symbolic finger to change any gun laws for the better. Laws are just for pulling more triggers. Gun lovers of a certain age are usually Reagan worshipers and yet, we’ve heard little regard or pity for his press secretary James Brady, shot along with Reagan and two others. He died nearly 34 years later from the consequences of being shot in the head. He passed, knowing that meaningful legislation driven by his efforts and those of his devoted, indefatigable wife, Sarah, were mostly for naught in his lifetime. By the way, there were three armed men in the president’s security detail.
You can already carry guns just about anywhere and everywhere in my Deep South region, including most red state booze-serving restaurants and bars. Have at it. Conceal Carry that manly accouterment, if it makes you feel like a stud. There’s just one legal caveat; no drinking in said establishment. ROTFLMAO!!! Every time I pick up the local paper, there’s been another shooting in a bar or a bar parking lot.
There’s purportedly been a dramatic drop in gun deaths over the last 10 years. And, indeed, the Pew Research Center presents strong numbers to that effect. Their president once held an upper echelon position with the Wall Street Journal. Interestingly enough, that same publication cites figures from 2000-2011 (the latest available) that show gun violence increasing even more than deaths are dropping. The difference is that more people seriously wounded by firearms are being saved through advances in medical treatment such as more trauma centers and helicopters, plus life-saving techniques learned on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
These are leading indicators. It takes a while to figure out what the influences on the numbers truly mean. It’s obvious that as many people, apparently considerably more, are being shot. So, the true meaning of the figures used to convince you that gun deaths are dropping and are no longer a priority, is neutralized by the truth of the matter.
Rejoice. You too can be saved from horrific gunshot injuries and still live the life of the late partially paralyzed, wheelchair-bound and slurred speaker, James Brady.
Addendum: Saturday, February 7th, in the Atlanta suburb of Douglasville, an ex-husband shot and killed his ex-wife, a man in the home, 2 children, and then himself. Two other children were critically injured.
Somewhere, Wayne LaPierre is yawning.

The Supreme Court is on 'the front lines of a partisan war'

Linda Greenhouse has been covering the Supreme Court for The New York Times since 1978, first as a reporter and now as an op-ed columnist who also happens to be a Senior Research Scholar in Law, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence, and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. Linda Greenhouse knows her Supreme Court, and what she sees now on the court deeply disturbs her. The court's decision to take on the legally dubious King v. Burwell case, she writes, positions the court on "the front lines of a partisan war," and puts "not only the Affordable Care Act, but the court itself" in peril.Greenhouse contrasts this case with the previous challenge the court took up to Obamacare, pointing out that this time what's in question isn't the constitutionality of the law, but its statutory interpretation-what did Congress intend and did the government interpret and implement the statute correctly.
It seems counterintuitive to describe a statutory case as having implications as profound as a constitutional one, but this one does. It hasn't received the attention it deserves, probably because the dispute over phraseology that the case purports to present strikes many people as trivial or, at least, fixable if the court gives the wrong answer. Actually, it's neither. (Has anyone noticed that the House of Representatives voted on Tuesday for the 56th time to repeal the law?)
She goes on to note that the whole text, structure, purpose, and legislative history of the law clearly negates the arguments made in the challenge to the case. Then she details what's in the many briefs filed by supporters of the law, including the government's, to show that the wingnut Supreme Court justices themselves are on record again and again subscribing "to the notion that statutory language has to be understood in context." Understood in the whole context of the statute, there just isn't a way a principled justice could reverse himself on this one. There's the rub, however.
Greenhouse urges progressives who are pessimistic about the potential outcome in the case to read the briefs, as she has. Reading them, she says, has given her hope for the first time that the government could prevail here. But her hope seems to be slim, or she wouldn't write this:
I said earlier that this case is as profound in its implications as the earlier constitutional one. The fate of the statute hung in the balance then and hangs in the balance today, but I mean more than that. This time, so does the honor of the Supreme Court. To reject the government's defense of the law, the justices would have to suspend their own settled approach to statutory interpretation as well as their often-stated view of how Congress should act toward the states.
I have no doubt that the justices who cast the necessary votes to add King v. Burwell to the court's docket were happy to help themselves to a second chance to do what they couldn't quite pull off three years ago. To those justices, I offer the same advice I give my despairing friends: Read the briefs. If you do, and you proceed to destroy the Affordable Care Act nonetheless, you will have a great deal of explaining to do-not to me, but to history.

The Solitary Confinement Epidemic Continues

Texas has one of the harshest and most punitive criminal justice systems in America. A new report shows just how inhuman the state of Texas is when it comes to doling out the punishment of solitary confinement.
If you have any doubt that solitary confinement is torture, all you need to is to listen to the stories of those who have been forced to endure it. Nevertheless, a new report from the ACLU of Texas finds that about one in ever 22 prisoners there is in solitary confinement- more people "than 12 states house in their entire prison systems."
Here is a description of the life of one prisoner who has been in solitary for ten years, from the report:
There is no window in Alex's cell. His field of vision is limited to peering through the Plexiglas slit in his cell door to the door of the cell opposite him. Alex has not seen the stars in a decade. "I miss that so much," he writes. "One time I was going to the hospital, down to Galveston and we were riding the ferry and the sun was coming up and it was the only one I'd seen in years. I'm a pretty tough guy, but it brought tears to my eyes."
Alex struggles to fall asleep at night. Usually, he can only sleep for four hours. The fluorescent light hanging from his ceiling remains on all night. The cell block constantly echoes with screams because some of the men confined in neighboring cells have gone insane, cutting themselves or eating their own feces. Alex is overwhelmed by the noise: "Constant banging, clanking, rage, anger," he writes. "Like a jammed packed area for a boxing match with everyone screaming murder. The night sounds are the worst. More personal and filled with sadness. It sounds like hell.
Solitary confinement is a form of torture and it should only be used in the most necessary circumstances, and not for very long periods.

Anonymous “Hacktivists” Strike a Blow Against ISIL

Anonymous “Hacktivists” Strike a Blow Against ISIS Anonymous has just struck a massive blow against ISIS recruiting efforts. Hacktivists recently took control of dozens of Twitter and Facebook accounts that had been openly used by ISIS to expand their influence and recruit new members.
The attack was coordinated by “muslims, christians, jews” alike. They are “hackers, crackers, Hacktivist, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy next door… students, administrators, workers, clerks, unemployed, rich, poor.” They are also “young, or old, gay or straight… from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity. United as one, divided by zero.”
An important point made by the video is that “the terrorists that are calling themselves [the] Islamic State (ISIL) are not Muslims.” Anonymous further directs a threat to ISIL itself:
We will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails, and expose you…
From now on, no safe place for you online…
You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure…
We own the internet…
We are Anonymous; we are Legion; we do not forgive, we do not forget, Expect us.

Anonymous states that the Facebook accounts appear to be in close contact with ISIS. We are advised to “keep a close eye” on them.
This is just the beginning items. Anonymous warns that there will be “more to come.” In fact, even as this article is being typed, more accounts are being taken offline.

Cop who switched off traffic cam in order to make illegal threats will keep his job

Niles, OH Patrolman Todd Mobley followed an acquaintance home in his cruiser and yanked him out of the car and threatened his life; when another cop arrived, Mobley had the cop turn off his dashcam and continued his illegal behavior; he has served a 30 day suspension and is back on the job.
Mobley believed that his victim, Tom Huffman, had stolen a gas can from Mobley's mother's house. He repeatedly threatened to murder Huffman.
Lindsay Mulhull filed the complaint against Mobley. She said she is still shocked over the turn of events since she has known Mobley for the past 18 years.
She said Mobley followed her and her boyfriend, Tom Huffman, home to Cherry Street and accused Huffman of stealing a gas can from the officer’s mother’s house.
“He tells me to get my kids back. I turn my back and that is when he pushes Tommy up against the cop car by his shirt and presses up against his neck and says ‘you’re dead if I ever catch you around my mother’s house again. I will kill you.’ And he just keeps repeating ‘You’re dead. You’re dead.’,” Mulhull said.
According to the police report, another officer arrived and Officer Mobley instructed him to shut off his dash camera, claiming it was for a legitimate law enforcement purpose, when it was for the sole purpose of not wanting his words recorded while threatening Huffman.

Non Sequitur


Link Dump

If for some reason you need taser-resistant clothing, buy a fencing jacket (video at the link).Criminals in Britain are plundering ATMs by flooding them with flammable gas (acetylene and oxygen) and then exploding them.  "The combined take of almost £250,000, or about $375,000, was the group’s biggest score in a single night yet. Their MO, using cheap, common, and legal gas, was nearly impossible to trace, and they left precious little forensic evidence for the police. To stop the rampage, there was little Britain’s banks could do."
Bloomberg Business explains "The Economics of being a U.S. ambassador."  "Just filling the flower vases for the embassy in London is very expensive.”
The Telegraph has a gallery of photos of extreme body modifications from a show in Caracas.
The map at the left shows which states are best and worst in terms of children receiving the full set of recommended vaccines (darker color = better).
A New Mexico toddler outdid the Walmart kid from last month.  The 3-year-old removed his mother's gun from her purse and wounded both his parents with one shot. "Police believe the shooting to be accidental."
Hotels can now track towels to find out if you are stealing them.  Microchips can now detect when a towel enters an elevator or goes out the door.  The data is currently used mostly for inventory control/restocking rather than for prosecution.
The history of quotation marks.
If you're tired of TSA horror stories, don't read this one.
A nice article at BoingBoing lists and discusses the best adventure books for children written in the 1960s.  Many adults who missed their chance then would like to read their way through this list now that they have the leisure time to do so.
You really don't need to know that sometimes gastroenterologists find cockroaches during screening colonoscopy.


Guess Who’s Going to Be Dinner?

Be careful about dinner invitations from people you don’t know well- you might find yourself on the menu.
Some people believe that the brawling, scrapping Alexander “Sawney” Beanes was just a fictional legend, but many more contend that the Scottish character was a real guy. The story goes like this: Beane grew up in the town of East Lothian, in eastern Scotland, in the 15th century. Villagers considered him lazy and a liar, so they ran him (and his wife, who’s described a having similar character traits) out of town. Taking shelter in a deep cave along the Scottish shore, the Beanes turned to a life of crime, attacking travelers and anyone who got close to their home.
But pretty soon, everybody had heard stories about Sawney and the missus, so as time went on, it got harder to hide the evidence of their crimes. Plus, times were tough, and famine was a common problem. That’s when the Beanes started to eat their victims (or smoke their flesh to be preserved for later). over the years, the couple prospered and had at least 14 children, who, in turn, grew up to have more children. Eventually, they were all caught by King James’ men, but legend says that before that happened, the Beane family killed and ate about 1,000 people.

When Spanish conquistadors first marched across Mexico in the 16th century, they were surprised to find the Aztecs, but they were even more shocked by what they Aztec people were doing. For years, the Aztec nation had been sacrificing humans as part of their religious ceremonies. Much has been written about Aztec religious sacrifices: soldiers, slaves, and captors stoically went to grisly and bloody deaths in which their hearts were removed as offerings to the gods. What’s not mentioned is that the other parts of the victims were passed out to high-ranking citizens to be eaten. Historians estimate that in one year alone (1486-87), more than 20,000 people were sacrificed and consumed.
While on a mission to collect butterflies for the Harvard Museum of Natural History in 1900, German butterfly collector Carl von Hagen was captured in Pupua New Guinea. While the exquisite specimens are still on display in the museum, von Hagen didn’t make it home. It seems he was captured and eaten by cannibals.
In April 1846, a group of 31 pioneers left Springfield, Illinois. Their destination: Sutter’s Fort in California, more than 2,500 miles away. As they traveled, the group grew to include 87 people, among them a pair of brothers -George and Jacob Donner- and their wives and children. They were led by George and businessman named James Reed, who had read about a new way through the Sierra Nevadas that could save 300 or 400 miles. Despite the fact that Reed had been warned about how rugged and untamed the passage was, he and the group decided to head that way anyway. Bad decision.
In October, the group separated -the Donner family fell behind, and the Reeds continued on with most of the party. But then came the snow, which wasn’t expected until mid-November. As blizzard after blizzard thwarted the groups, people were stranded in different places in the high mountains. The Reed group built shelters, but the Donner party had nothing but a makeshift camp of blankets, furs, and wagon coverings. First they used up their food rations and then began to eat their oxen. When that ran out, the freezing travelers began to starve. When some of them died, the first survivors broached the idea of cannibalism. They dismissed it… at first.

Unable to stand the hunger, several members of the Donner group began to eat the people who’d perished. (The Reeds probably also cannibalized their fallen brethren, though they always denied it.) But even that proved to be little help as the weeks turned into months and they remained stuck in the snow.
Rescue finally arrived in February 1847, but the initial rescue party was just a few men who were able to carry little food. So even as they started leading people out of the mountains, those who remained continued to starve. Finally in April, the last of the stranded travelers was rescued. Of the original 87 people, a surprising 46 of them survived.

Alferd Packer could tell a tall tale better than anyone, so it's no surprise that he was able to convince 20 men that he knew the hills around Breckenridge, Colorado, well (he may or may not have). The group left for the Colorado Territory in early November 1873 on a search for gold.
By late January, the group was bedraggled, hungry, and stumbling through heavy snow when the chief of the Ute took pity on them and told the would-be miners that they could stay with his people until the snow melted. Five of the miners were determined to strike it rich, though, and waved some money at Packer, who set off with them to Breckenridge in early February, carrying 10-day supply of food.
Two months later, Alferd Packer arrived at the Los Pinos Indian Reservation in Colorado and told a story of being abandoned by his companions. He said they had left him, hungry and frightened. But the men who had remained with the Ute were suspicious of Packer’s obviously nourished physique and reported him to authorities. In May 1874, Packer admitted he’d actually been with the five men until their end- after being stranded in the snowy wilderness, they’d all died one by one of disease, starvation, accidents, and in one case, self-defense. And as they did, he’d eaten pieces of the miners and had even carried some of their flesh around for weeks to stave off starvation. No one knew what to make of the story.
Then in August 1874, the bodies of the five miners were found… laid out together at the campsite in the mountains. It appeared that they’d all been killed (one even showed defensive wounds as though he’d fought back). Packer was eventually convicted of murder and sent to prison.
Irish pickpocket Alexander Pearce should have just left well enough alone. After receiving 150 lashes for various infractions -including drunk and disorderly conduct, and theft- he went back to a life of crime and, in 1822, was sent to Macquarie Harbor, a harsh penal colony in Tasmania.
Within months, Pearce and a few of his fellow prisoners escaped. Tasmania was mostly uninhabited, though, so the men had nowhere to go -they hid in the mountains until starvation forced them to prey on one another. Pearce didn’t commit the first murder, but he didn’t refuse to partake in the grisly meal, either. And he had no aversion to killing the next victim for the table.
Later, after being caught for stealing sheep, Pearce was sent to Macquarie Harbor again. Soon, he escaped again with another fellow inmate… who he subsequently killed and ate. Finally, in 1824, Pearce was hanged for his cumulative crimes.
In late October 1765, the sloop Peggy was in trouble. Rough weather and heavy seas had battered the little ship and its sails were badly ripped. Discouraged, hungry, and frightened, the crew seized the cargo (brandy and wine) and proceeded to get drunk. The situation got worse when the captain of another ship stopped to check on the Peggy’s crew, promised them a few crusts of bread, and then sailed away before actually giving them any food.
After the crew had eaten everything they could -including leather, candles, two birds, buttons, and a cat- they were desperate. They killed and consumed a slave, and then the men drew straws but were unable to sacrifice the friend who lost the draw, apparently because he was well liked. Fortunately, the morning after the aborted kill, the crew was saved by a passing ship, but the man who narrowly missed being dinner had already gone mad from the torturous anticipation of becoming a meal. Bon appetit!

5 Diseases You Never Knew Marijuana Could Fight or Potentially Cure

by Sean Williams
. To say there's been a dramatic shift in sentiment toward marijuana over the past decade is an understatement.
In just one decade, the American public went from opposing the legalization of marijuana by a margin of three to one to favoring its legalization by nearly a three-to-two margin, according to statistics from research firm Gallup.
What's fueled this sudden surge in marijuana interest among the public? I'd opine it's been a mixture of the need for states to collect tax revenue to narrow budget deficits and the visibility of the positive effects of medical marijuana coming to light. Medical marijuana is most often prescribed by physicians as a treatment for cancer pain and as an appetite stimulant. There are currently 23 states that have legalized medical marijuana, and four (Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Alaska) that have legalized the drug for recreational adult use.
You never knew this about marijuana
There's much more to the marijuana debate than whether or not it should be legalized for recreational use. Select drug developers around the world are examining the properties of cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, as well as marijuana itself, to determine whether or not they could have a medically beneficial effect against certain diseases.
Whether you realize it or not, these five diseases may be successfully fought with or cured by marijuana.
1. Brain cancer
Brain cancer is a scary diagnosis because surgery is often difficult, and the blood-brain barrier makes most standard chemotherapy options ineffective.
However, in May, London researchers released a report in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics that showed pretreating brain tumors with the cannabinoids THC and CBD prior to radiation therapy led to a dose-dependent increase in tumor cell death due to heightened radiosensitivity. During the trial, researchers concluded that tumors that were pretreated wound up being just one-tenth the size of tumors in the control group.
Cannabinoid-based drug developer GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH  ) currently has two compounds in clinical development (GWP42002 and GWP42003) for glioma and is the company to watch in this space.
2. Alzheimer's disease
Another serious brain disease is dementia, of which a majority of cases wind up being Alzheimer's disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association, the number of Alzheimer's cases is expected to rise by 176% to 13.8 million by 2050, and this follows a 68% increase between 2000 and 2010.
The good news is, based on a multi-author abstract published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease last year, cannabinoid THC may be useful in slowing the formation of beta amyloid, the plaque that floats around in Alzheimer's disease patients' brains that reduces their cognitive function. After examining the effect of THC on beta amyloid protein precursor cells, researchers noted at the six-hour, 24-hour, and 48-hour marks that THC lowered beta amyloid levels.
Although a handful of small studies have been undertaken concerning marijuana's effect on Alzheimer's, no larger drug developers currently have any clinical trials under way in this indication. But, I'd suggest it's certainly one worth closely monitoring considering the limited success of traditional pharmaceuticals in treating Alzheimer's.
3. Epilepsy
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological problem, trailing only Alzheimer's, stroke, and migraine. Epilepsy affects about 150,000 people in the U.S. annually, and over their lifetime, people have about a 1-in-26 chance of developing epilepsy.
We don't need to reference abstracts here, though, as GW Pharmaceuticals has produced scintillating early-stage results for Epidiolex in two rare types of childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. As my colleague and biotech guru Brian Orelli recently reported, 56% of Dravet syndrome patients observed their seizure frequency drop in clinical studies, while 52% of patients with drop seizures, often associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, had their seizure frequency reduced.
4. Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is what you might refer to as a silent killer. Even though it doesn't swiftly kill patients, it is a chronic, lifelong condition that can lead to a number of co-morbidities that can eventually lead to death. Within the U.S., per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 29.1 million people with diabetes -- 90% to 95% of which are type 2 diabetics.
Yet, in May 2013 a three-authored study published in The American Journal of Medicine observed that marijuana could play a key role in controlling people's blood sugar levels. The study, which looked at 4,657 people, including both active and former marijuana users, showed that current marijuana users had a 16% reduction in fasting insulin levels and an accompanying 17% drop in HOMA-IR, which measures insulin resistance and beta-cell function. Surprisingly, marijuana users also had slimmer waistlines!
Not to sound like a broken record, but GW Pharmaceuticals is also developing a drug known as GW42004 for type 2 diabetes. In a phase 2a study, it led to a statistically significant reduction in fasting plasma glucose levels with a positive trend of increased insulin sensitivity. Obviously, a drug approval here could have broad treatment implications. GWP42004 is currently in phase 2b trials.
5. Schizophrenia
Lastly, schizophrenia has been diagnosed in about 3.5 million people in the United States, or slightly more than 1% of the population, according to the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America. The costs to treat schizophrenia range from $32.5 billion to $65 billion annually.
In 2012, a study published in Translational Psychiatry hinted that cannabinoid CBD may prove to be an attractive substitute for current antipsychotic treatments. In total, the study examined 39 patients, dosing 20 with CBD and 19 with amisulpride. While both led to similar Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale scores upon study completion, it was noted that the CBD group had fewer side effects than the amisulpride group. Keep in mind that THC, not CBD, is the hallucinogenic component of marijuana.
As should be no surprise by now, GW Pharma is also developing GWP42003 as a potential treatment for schizophrenia. Following positive early-stage results, the drug has moved into phase 2a with a results readout expected in the second half of this year.
One thing to remember
While marijuana has shown very promising benefits in research-driven and clinical studies, we have to keep one thing in mind as investors: Marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug according to the federal government.
Being classified as a schedule 1, or illicit, drug denotes that marijuana has no medical benefits in the view of the government, which could make it extremely difficult for drug developers to advance new studies. The Food and Drug Administration hasn't exactly taken a negative stance on cannabinoid-based medications, but my personal opinion is that it'll be extra critical of approving studies considering the wide scope of conflicting safety data we've witnessed in studies over the past decade. For a company such as GW Pharmaceuticals, it means the possibility of having to jump through more safety hurdles, or maybe even having its drug restricted to a certain subset of patients.
As a consumer, I'm excited about the potential benefits marijuana can offer sufferers of these diseases. But as an investor, I'm still keeping a substantial distance between myself and a still immature and undefined marijuana industry.

Why Measles is So Contagious

In 1846, before we even knew what a virus was, doctor Peter Panum observed a measles outbreak in the Faroe Islands.
Because the Faroe Islands were so remote, Panum had an easy time observing the disease spread from person to person. He developed an eerie power of prediction. If one person developed a rash from measles, Panum knew that everyone else in the patient’s house would get sick two weeks later.
Panum noticed other predictable patterns, too. On average, he estimated, every infected person infected seven to nine other people. Today, the estimate for the average number of infections spread from each sick person is higher–between 12 and 18. By comparison, the figure for Ebola is only about two.
The panic over the Ebola virus is understandable because the mortality rate is high, but the chances of catching it are tiny compared to measles. The measles virus evolved to be very contagious in order to survive as a species. The virus must find new human hosts because old hosts become immune. Carl Zimmer explains the process in much more detail at The Loom.

Chile Soccer Stars Found

Climbers in Chile's Andes say they have found the wreckage of a missing plane that disappeared more than half a century ago.

Random Celebrity Photos


Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow

The Arithmographe

An Early Example Of A Portable Calculator
More than three centuries ago, the Parisian physician and polymath Claude Perrault devised a fascinating small mechanic calculator, Abaque Rhabdologique. Subsequently, many mathematicians and inventors have improved, and re-shaped, Perrault's ingenius machine.
As an heir of this tradition, Troncet created what he called the Arithmographe. Essentially, it is a small stylus-driven metal calculator consisting of flat metal bands with notched edges pointing at numbers from one to nine.

Ridiculous Beliefs Of The World's Most Acclaimed Thinkers

Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras made influential contributions to philosophy and religion in the late 6th century BC. He is often revered as a great mathematician, mystic, and scientist and is best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name.
But Pythagoras also believed that beans were made from the same material as humans and should not be consumed. He also said that you cannot step over a crossbar, allow swallows to nest under the roof or walk on highways. Here are some ridiculous beliefs of the world's most acclaimed thinkers.

The Ancient Palace of Sigiriya

On the slopes and summit of a 650-foot high Sri Lankan peak lie the ruins of the ancient city Sigiriya. Locals also call the rock fortress pictured above “Lion’s Rock.” The majestic site, built in the fifth century by King Kassapa I, can be seen from miles away.
In its time, the complex, with its moat and ramparts, was not only strong on defense. King Kassapa outfitted it for pleasure as well. Extensive gardens and frescoes were just a few features that added beauty to the city.
There's much more to learn about this fascinating location, including the royal drama that led to its construction, the existence of an ancient graffiti wall and more. Read a detailed description and see additional pictures of Sigiriya here and here.

Random Photos


Old Stone Messages

A weighty stone carved with a mysterious pattern that may be writing has been discovered in a garden in Leicester, England.

Earth Shots

This week, the eye in the sky shows us massive fires in Australia, thunderstorms over the Amazon and a military buildup on the Iraq-Iran border. Plus: Let's launch a rocket into the northern lights.

True Death Star

The supernova remnant is located over 150,000 light-years away in the satellite dwarf galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud.

A View From the Dark Side of the Moon

This video from the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio shows the phases of the moon as viewed from the "dark side" (a misnomer). Their simulation is as beautiful as it is intriguing. How amazing would it be to see the moon with the blue marble of Earth looming behind it?
But now, let's get down to serious, scientific biz: visit this link and follow the Daily Dot's instructions to the letter on how to sync NASA's video with Pink Floyd. As they said, "You're welcome!"
Courtesy of NASA (Scored by Pink Floyd)

Hoopoe In Slow Motion

The hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a colorful bird found across Afro-Eurasia, notable for its distinctive 'crown' of feathers. Like the Latin name upupa, the English name is an onomatopoeic form which imitates the cry of the bird.

Animal Links

Bald eagles in Florida are being accidentally poisoned.  The carcasses of pets euthanized with phenobarbital were being dumped in locations where the eagles scavenged them
Sea lion pups are starving off the coast of California.
Phthiria relativitae was a species of bee fly.  The name is pronounced \theory o’relativity\.

Animal Pictures