The first significant wintry storm of the season blanketed parts of the Midwest with a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous conditions as some travelers prepared to depart for the Thanksgiving holiday.
While winter has not officially begun, the shovels and snow blowers were out fromSouth Dakotathrough southern Minnesota,Iowaand southern Wisconsin to northern Illinois and Indiana. The National Weather Service said the snow would continue in Illinois and Indiana on Saturday and move into Michigan. The front will head northeast to Canada late on Saturday and into Sunday.
Selfishly, I really hope it heads to Canada and skips New England entirely.
Winter Storm Bella will continue to bring the first, not to mention locally heavy, accumulating snow of the season for some in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Saturday after dumping up to 18 inches of snow in the Missouri Valley Friday.
Winter storm warnings continue from parts of eastern Iowa into northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Quad Cities, Madison, Rockford, Milwaukee and Chicago.
In the much of the Upper Midwest, this means a likelihood for at least 6 inches of snow in 12 hours, or 8 inches of snow in 24 hours.
Winter weather advisories are posted for much of Lower Michigan and far northern Indiana, including Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, where somewhat lower snowfall totals are expected.
When I spoke to my mom this morning, she was headed out to the grocery store, because they are expecting snow and then heavy rain this afternoon. This much snow this early is pretty rare in much of the Midwest. Can you believe even Arkansas got a small amount of snow from this storm?
El Niño, the periodic warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean, can have a number of effects on weather around the world, from heavy rain to extreme drought, persistent warmth to stubborn cold, and inactive versus hyperactive tropical cyclone seasons.
Does El Niño also influence how snowy your winter is?
To answer that, we examined NOAA seasonal snowfall data for 51 U.S. locations for which sufficient data exists and snowfall is at least typical once a year.
We grouped these seasonal snowfall totals into El Niño, La Niña (its opposite, namely, a cooling of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean) and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) seasons.
Since no two El Niños/La Niñas are alike and the intensity of each matters for impacts, we further examined moderate and strong El Niño seasons, based on the categorization by Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services.
For most of the 51 locations, we had 23 El Niño, 20 La Niña, and 22 neutral seasons of snowfall data. One admitted drawback to this study is the rather limited sample size of strong El Niño seasons (five such cases), given NOAA’s Oceanic Niño Index dates only to 1950.
Finally, given El Niño/La Niña is not the sole driver of the atmosphere at any time, we thought it would be interesting to examine another atmospheric influencer during the winter months, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
Put simply, a positive NAO typically means cold air will drain from west to east across Canada, rather than plunging into the eastern U.S. Conversely, in a negative NAO, more blocking of the upper atmospheric pattern over the north Atlantic Ocean sends cold air deep into the eastern two-thirds of the nation.
Read the results of the Weather Channel study at the link. As you can well imagine, I’m hoping that Boston will not get a repeat of last winter–the worst one on record with more than 100 inches of snow.
So….I decided to write about the weather so I could stave off the even worse news of the day. Here’s a sampling.
Brussels has been blanketed with security after the Belgian government raised alert levels on terrorist threats to the maximum, warning of the “serious and imminent” possibility of a Paris-style attack involving firearms and explosives.
Brussels metro on Saturday (from The Guardian)
The city’s metro system was closed down on Saturday until Sunday afternoon at the earliest as shops shut, shopping malls were partly shuttered, professional football was cancelled, concerts were called off and music venues, museums, and galleries closed their doors for the weekend.
The heightened alert level followed meetings of the national security and counter-terror services late on Friday, which concluded, on the basis of undisclosed evidence, that a major attack was being planned in Brussels. The rest of the country was put on a level three alert, one level short of the maximum.
“Following a new assessment, the terror alert level has been raised to level four, very serious, for the Brussels region,” said a government statement. “Analysis shows a serious and imminent threat that requires taking specific security measures as well as specific recommendations for the public.”
People were told to avoid rail stations and airports, shopping centres, concerts, and other public events where people congregate.
“We’re mobilising very strong security capacities,” said Charles Michel, the prime minister. “There’s a threat of attack by several individuals in several places. The [crisis centre] took this decision following information on a risk of attack similar to Paris.”
I sure hope this is a false alarm, but it will probably make Republican politicians even more panicked than they already are.
A security officer gives instructions to security forces inside the hotel Photograph: Mali TV ORTM/AP
Mukesh Chellani, a businessman from Indian, said he and his employees locked themselves in a room at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital of Bamako on Friday. The country’s Ministry of the Interior said 21 people were killed — 18 hotel guests, a Malian policeman, and two attackers.
“We covered the door with lot of heavy stuff,” Chellani recalled. “At some point of time, we heard someone is knocking the door and lots of bullets.” ….
President Obama condemned the attack while travelingin Malaysia.
“This is another awful reminder that the scourge ofterrorismthreatens so many of our nations,” he said. “And once again this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge.
President Obama condemned the attack while travelingin Malaysia.
“This is another awful reminder that the scourge ofterrorism threatens so many of our nations,” he said. “And once again this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge.
President Obama tried to put a human face on the global crisis that has become a political battle back back home as he sat down with migrant children in Malaysia on Saturday, vowing that the US would keep its doors open to refugees “as long as I’m president.” Obama met with elementary-school-age children in Kuala Lampur at a humanitarian center who had already been cleared to enter the United States. “They’re just like our kids,” Obama said.
“They were indistinguishable from any child in America,” Obama said. “And the notion that somehow we would be fearful of them, that our politics would somehow leave us to turn our sights away from their plight, is not representative of the best of who we are.” The words were clearly directed at the politicians—including governors, lawmakers, and Republican presidential candidates—who have spoken about the possibility of blocking the arrival of Syrian refugees into the US after the Paris terror attacks.
Republican Rep. Steve King, while discussing on Thursday the Obama administration’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, said President Obama is “filling our country up with people that will continue to attack us” and cited Obama’s upbringing in Indonesia as giving him an entirely different idea of what America should be like.
“We just should remember that, when — where we grew up is — when we were in our grade school that’s when the world was right and we tend to want to recreate that idyllic scene in our adulthood thinking that’s the best thing for America. And in my case, it is. I grew up with ‘Fun with Dick and Jane,’” said King onBoston Herald Radio. “Wonderful. But you know, while I was going on, he was going to a school in Indonesia, so his idea of America is entirely different than the idea that most Americans have of what we ought to be like, and he’s filling our country up with people that will continue to attack us.”
What a sweetheart Steve King is, bless his heart.
I’ll have more links in the comments. What stories are you following today?
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These Republican Debates. I have only seen 10 minutes of the very first one, and that was it….not another one has graced my eyes (in a visual sense) or ears.
If I can get away with it, I won’t even read up on it, in depth. My depression and agitation is way too elevated now as it is….So, I don’t know how bad it got last night. I am sure it sucked tremendous ass.
With that thought in mind, here are your morning reads.
Ben Carson botched the economic effect of minimum wage increases. Jeb Bush again pitched a dubious target for economic growth. And Marco Rubio, in a tale about plumbers and philosophers, undersold the value of a college education.
The fourth Republican presidential debate was thick on economic policy — and with that came a variety of flubs and funny numbers.
Some of the claims Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:
CARSON: “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.”
THE FACTS: Actually, that usually doesn’t happen. When the minimum wage was increased in 1996 and 1997, the unemployment rate fell afterward. In June 2007, when the first of three annual minimum wage increases was implemented, the unemployment rate was unchanged until the Great Recession began six months later.
Economic research has found that when states raise their minimum wages higher than neighboring states, they don’t typically fare any worse than their neighbors.
It’s not known, though, what would happen to jobs if the minimum wage were doubled to $15— as many fast-food workers who demonstrated before the debate were demanding.
RUBIO: “Welders make more money than philosophers.”
Not so, on average.
Rubio is arguing that the U.S. has failed to invest in vocational training — a point also stressed by President Barack Obama’s now-defunct jobs council. But Rubio is wrong to suggest that studying philosophy is a waste of money and time.
PayScale, a firm that analyzes compensation, put the median mid-career income for philosophy majors at $81,200 in 2008, with welders making $26,002 to $63,698.
And Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce said in a 2014 analysis that median incomes were $68,000 for people with an advanced degree in philosophy or religious studies.
So knowing Plato and getting a college degree still pays off.
Jeb Bush has not been doing so good at this running for president thing. Thus, the pathetic Jeb Can Fix It reboot of his campaign, which will lead Jeb to a glorious “comeback” … eventually. One of Jeb’s problems, among the mazillion problems he has — such as, for example, being Jeb — is doing real bad at the debates. Even he has admitted he’s “got to get better as a performer.”So. Did he do it? Did he Fix It at the Fox Business Network debate on Tuesday, where, according to Very Serious Pundits, it was do-or-die now-or-never other-cliches for the poor pathetic Jebenator? His campaign seems to think so so, because shortly after the debate ended, it released a fresh new Jeb! web ad featuring the only two minutes of the debate when Jeb was not visibly smearing himself with his own feces.
Hillary Clinton bad? Check. Unemployment numbers — which Jeb’s brother doubled while in office but President Obama has cut in half — also bad, THANKS OBAMA? Check. More or less complete sentences with almost no stuttering or dick-tripping? Check. Please if you wouldn’t mind and it wouldn’t be too much trouble, suck on this, Donald? Check.
Oh, what a victory. What a glorious triumph. What an impressively mediocre but not failtastic two minutes of highlights during which Jeb managed to deliver his memorized lines without literally choking to death on his own tongue.
Though many of the candidates on stage in Milwaukee in Tuesday’s Fox Business Network Republican debate used parts of their closing statements to highlight how they would be best positioned to take on the Democrat’s presumed nominee, Hillary Clinton, viewers needed only make it through the first fifteen minutes of the more-than-two-hour debate to spot an issue that could become central to the general election contest next fall.
Fox’s Neil Cavuto, one of the night’s three moderators, led off Tuesday’s debate by turning to Donald Trump, positioned center stage as the leader in recent national polls, and asked if the billionaire businessman was supportive of those calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
“I can’t be, Neil,” said Trump, who, after mentioning his “tremendous” tax plan, added, “wages are too high.”
Cavuto confirmed with the candidate that he would not raise the minimum wage — “I would not do it,” said Trump — and the partisan audience burst into applause.
The moderator then turned his attention to Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has challenged Trump for the top spot in recent surveys. Referencing Tuesday’s nationwide demonstrations by those seeking a hike in the hourly wage, Cavuto asked, “Those protesters outside are looking for $15 and nothing less. Where are you?”
Carson said people needed to be “educated” on the minimum wage. “Every time we raise the minimum wage,” he continued, “the number of jobless people increases.”
The AP explained that when “the minimum wage was increased in 1996 and 1997, the unemployment rate fell afterward.” After a wage hike in 2007, the unemployment rate remained unchanged for six months, increasing only after the start of the Great Recession.
But Trump and Carson were not alone in their opposition to the fight for $15.
“If you raise the minimum wage, you are going to make people more expensive than machines,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio when his turn came to address the subject. Rubio, who has been gaining ground in some recent opinion polls, called the minimum wage “in the 20th Century” a “disaster.”
The senator was not asked if he instead supported paying people less than machines. But what Trump, Carson, Rubio, and many of the other candidates in the main debate made abundantly clear is that they stand in a very different place from the Democrats seeking the presidency.
The former secretary of state has not endorsed a $15 federal wage floor, saying that such a big increase was not “politically viable” and would not necessarily be appropriate for some poorer parts of the country. Clinton has instead voiced support for a Democratic proposal in Congress to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour from its current $7.25.
There is no time this morning to attempt a play-by-play on last night’s fourth GOP debate, but perhaps a few standout moments.
Cerabino was perhaps referring to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s sense of the coming election. Maria Bartiromo had asked Rubio and other candidates why Americans should choose them over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, what with her “impressive résumé” and all. The crowd booed loudly. Instead of making a case for himself, Rubio made a stump speech on American exceptionalism, traditional values, and the future:
And so here’s the truth: this election is about the future, and the Democratic Party, and the political left has no ideas about the future. All their ideas are the same, tired ideas of the past.
This came after more saber rattling at ISIS from the group, a defense of coal mining from Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, and a call to return to the gold standard from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. I guess tired ideas of the past are all shiny and new again when you’re young and Republican.
See, it just makes me ill and more depressed and disgusted.
I need to wrap this up, I have a crying puppy that wants attention.
The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire has always been recorded as male but has started sprouting berries – something only female yew trees do
The UK’s oldest tree, thought to be up to 5,000 years old, is undergoing a “sex change”.
Records have always noted the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire as a male tree but it has recently started sprouting berries – something only female yew trees do.
Experts at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh spotted three berries on a high branch of the tree, located in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall, Perthshire, and have now taken them for analysis as part of a conservation project.
Dr Max Coleman, of the Royal Botanic Garden, said yew trees have been known to change sex before but discovering the process on “such a special tree is what makes this a special story”.
The Fortingall Yew is believed to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, and is one of the oldest living organisms in Europe.
It has survived the ravages of time and the attention of eager tourists, who in previous centuries took clippings from it as souvenirs.
The trunk changed shape many years ago and has lost its centre and one side, and the tree is now protected by a small wall.
Coleman said: “Yew trees are male or female usually and it is pretty easy to spot which is which in autumn – males have tiny things that produce pollen and females have bright red berries from autumn into winter.
“This process may have happened before but we know the Fortingall Yew has been classed as male for hundreds of years through records.
“The sex change isn’t the amazing bit in this case, it’s the fact it’s this particular tree.
Here is an autochrome of a WWI soldier in France:
This is an open thread. Have at it.
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This is going to be a quick post, because I think my tooth is getting infected. This is the tooth I was supposed to get a temporary crown for on Tuesday. I’m going to have to call the dentist’s office and see if I can get in on an emergency basis. There’s lots of news this morning, so I’m going to give you a quick rundown, and I’ll try to do something more substantive later on.
First, a dispatch from the “forever war,” intelligence sources in the U.S. and Great Britain are claiming that the recent crash of a Russian plane was caused by an ISIS bomb. CNN reports:
Days after authorities dismissed claims that ISIS brought down a Russian passenger jet, a U.S. intelligence analysis now suggests that the terror group or its affiliatesplanted a bomb on the plane.
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said his government believes there is a “significant possibility” that an explosive device caused the crash. And a Middle East source briefed on intelligence matters also said it appears likely someone placed a bomb aboard the aircraft.
Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed Saturday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula after breaking apart in midair, killing all224 people on board.It was en route to St. Petersburg from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The latest U.S. intelligence suggests that the crash was most likely caused by a bomb planted on the plane by ISIS or an affiliate, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke with CNN.
The officials stressed that no formal conclusion has been reached by the U.S. intelligence community and that U.S. officials haven’t seen forensic evidence from the crash investigation.
Intelligence also suggests someone at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport helped get a bomb onto the plane, one U.S. official said.
In “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey Of George Herbert Walker Bush,” author Jon Meacham quotes Bush as saying that Cheney and Rumsfeld were too hawkish and that their harsh stance damaged the reputation of the United States, the cable news network said.
Speaking of Cheney, who was vice president under President George W. Bush, the senior Bush said: “I don’t know, he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” according to the report….
“The reaction (to Sept. 11), what to do about the Middle East. Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East,” Bush told Meacham in the book to be published next Tuesday….
On Rumsfeld, secretary of defense for most of the two terms served by his son, Bush is even more critical. He is quoted as saying: “I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the President,” referring to his son.
Bevin will replace Democratic governor Steve Beshear, who was perhaps the leading evangelist for the Affordable Care Act in the South. Beshear famously set up a Kentucky health insurance exchange and opted in to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion amid a region of hostility towards the law. Bevinhas pledgedto transition people off of the exchange to the federal one, and to shut down the state’s Medicaid expansion. But in Kentucky, the law has succeeded at its primary goal: Early on itsuccessfully brought health coverageto some of the state’s (and the country’s) poorest and unhealthiest counties, and Gallupfound earlier this yearthat Kentucky boasted the second largest drop in the uninsured rate of any state in the country.
Obama is deeply unpopular in Kentucky. He won under 38 percent of the vote in the Bluegrass State in 2012 after taking 41 percent in 2008. In the 2012 Democratic primary,“uncommitted” took 42 percent of the voteagainst the unchallenged Obama. One Republican close to the Kentucky gubernatorial race said that polling done in the final days put Obama’s unpopularity at 70 percent.
Again, read the rest at the WaPo. Too bad Obama didn’t stick with Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, while the Republicans ran with it.
In a few months, after Iowa and New Hampshire begin to winnow the field, the GOP nomination race could boil down to an epic final between a candidate with a more pragmatic image, such as Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina or Jeb Bush, and a more conservative one, such as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson or Donald Trump.1
If that happens, the moderate finalist — like Mitt Romney and John McCain before him or her — will have a hidden structural advantage: the party’s delegate math and geography.
There are plenty of reasons to be cautious of national polls that show Trump and Carson leading. They may fail to screen out casual voters, for instance, and leaders at this point in past years have eventually tanked. But perhaps the biggest reason to ditch stock in these polls is that they’re simulating a national vote that will never take place.
In reality, the GOP nominating contest will be decided by an intricate, state-by-state slog for the 2,472 delegates at stake between February and June. And thanks to the Republican National Committee’s allocation rules, the votes of “Blue Zone” Republicans — the more moderate GOP primary voters who live in Democratic-leaning states and congressional districts — could weigh more than those of more conservative voters who live in deeply red zones. Put another way: The Republican voters who will have little to no sway in the general election could have some of the most sway in the primary.
As The New York Times’ Nate Cohn astutelyobservedin January, Republicans in blue states hold surprising power in the GOP presidential primary process even though they are “all but extinct in Washington, since their candidates lose general elections to Democrats.” This explains why Republicans have selected relatively moderate presidential nominees while the party’s members in Congress have continued toveer right.
The key to this pattern: “Blue-state Republicans are less religious, more moderate and less rural than their red-state counterparts,” Cohn concluded after crunching Pew Research survey data. By Cohn’s math, Republicans in states that Obama won in 2012 were 15 percentage points likelier to support Romney in the 2012 primary and 9 points likelier to support McCain in 2008 than their red-state compatriots. Romney and McCain’s advantage in blue states made it “all but impossible for their more conservative challengers to win the nomination,” Cohn wrote.
During the last month the long-awaited, heavily-promoted decline in Donald Trump’s standing in the Republican presidential nominating contest has finally begun to occur. But aside from a small reshuffling of the order in the “lanes” (e.g., Rubio moving past Bush among Establishment Republicans and Cruz moving past Huckabee, Santorum and Jindal among experienced Christian Right candidates) to which the candidates have been assigned by the punditocracy, the big beneficiary of softening support for Trump has been another candidate with no experience in elected office, Dr. Ben Carson. He is running either first or a strong second in virtually everynational poll, and is now routinely leadingpolls of Iowaas well. His approval ratings, moreover, are extremely high, and best in the field. It’s safe to say he is almost universally admired by GOP voters.
The conventional wisdom is that Carson is beloved for being a genial, soft-spoken figure and a non-politician with a distinguished biography. That may be true, though this does not necessarily distinguish him from many thousands of his fellow Americans. An equally obvious factor is that he is African American, and Republicans frustrated with being accused of white identity politics if not outright racism love being able to support a black candidate who is as conservative as they are.
Less obvious — and finally being recognized by political reporters spending time in Iowa — is that Carson is afamiliar, beloved figureto conservative evangelicals, who have been reading his books for years.
Another factor, and one that I emphasized inmy own take here two months ago, is that Carson is a devoted believer in a number of surprisingly resonant right-wing conspiracy theories, which he articulates via dog whistles that excite fellow devotees (particularly fans of Glenn Beck, who shares much of Carson’s world-view) without alarming regular GOP voters or alerting the MSM.
As David Corn of Mother Jones haspatiently explained, the real key for understanding Carson (like Beck) is via the works of Cold War-era John Birch Society member and prolific pseudo-historian W. Cleon Skousen, who stipulated that America was under siege from the secret domestic agents of global Marxism who masqueraded as liberals. Carson has also clearly bought into the idea that these crypto-commies are systematically applying the deceptive tactics of Saul Alinsky in order to destroy the country from within—a theme to which he alluded in the famous National Prayer Breakfast speech that launched his political career and in the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate.
Head over to TPM and read the rest.
There’s plenty more news this morning; I’ll try to put a few links in the comments. What stories are you following today?
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The web is bemused and irate about an app that will let people rate other people as if they were baubles purchased on Amazon.
Its cofounders, Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray, plan to launch the app in November. They trace its origins to a conversation about McCullough’s frustrations with finding a reliable babysitter. Although inspired by a prosaic concern, their intentions are grander. Their motto is “character is destiny,” and, in interviews, Cordray says that she wants “character to be our new form of currency.”
If legitimate, it sounds as if their app is to serve as the digital equivalent of the ancient Fates. Whereas the three Fates controlled destinies by way of the threads of life, Peeple aims to shape destinies by way of professional, personal and romantic ratings. Supposedly, employers and romantic interests will be able to search for people of good “character,” and the company plans to charge for searches beyond a single daily freebie.
Much of the response to the app is negative and ill-informed. The negativity arises because this is a platform through which we might be negatively evaluated (at best) or harassed (at worst) without any say other than to buy into their system. The confusion arises because it’s not yet released and their website was inaccessible much of Wednesday – an indication of popularity or the consequence of a denial of service attack.
Ya know, “negative and ill-informed” I may be…but what the fuck? Please read about this more at the link, but I wanted to put this little nugget from the creators…
McCullough and Cordray speak of personal ratings as a positive – even virtuous – undertaking. They say Peeple is a “positivity app for positive people.” In “An Ode to Courage,” a defensive note posted on Peeple’s website, the cofounders declared:
We know you are amazing, special, and unique individuals and most likely would never shout that from the rooftops. The people who know you will though…. As innovators we want to make your life better and have the opportunity to prove how great it feels to be loved by so many in a public space. We are a positivity app launching in November 2015. Whether you love us or our concept or not; we still welcome everyone to explore this online village of love and abundance for all.
Dancing Bears William Holbrook Beard
I am Sicilian, we are a negative people…we are born that way. But I don’t see anything positive about this website. Do you?
Okay, now…on with something positive that kicked some real ass, and was something that should be getting more attention.
…students at Charleston County School of the Arts in North Charleston, South Carolina wore red A’s last week to protest the school’s dress code policies (which you can read here). About 100 students took part, and also shared their As with the hashtags #NotADistraction and #NotADistractionSOA. Reese Fischer, a student at CCSOA and organizer, also started a change.org petition to protest the dress code. She emphasizes that the issue they want to combat is not dress codes themselves, but rather the ways in which they’re enforced. Junior Peyton Corder told Post and Courier that a counselor “told her that heavier girls needed to wear longer skirts.” Fischer also points out that boys wearing muscle shirts, sagging pants, and other violations rarely face consequences.
It must be noted, the school principal seems to support this protest, at least he put out a statement:
Principle Robert Perrineau’s response seems supportive of the initiative. He states:
This is just a reminder of what was is already in place, that we need to be consistent and be equitable and be fair to everyone. We do want to make sure that we’re all giving that reminder and giving attention to any individual student situation in the same way. We want the point to be made, but we want to be respectful.
Read more at the link, including the full statement from Fischer.
Comedienne, Margaret Cho, has been very vocal on twitter in her impassioned defense of Planned Parenthood in the wake of the GOP’s relentless assault on women’s rights. Well, she has taken that a step further, and tweeted out the ultimate defense of a woman’s right to choose — with a tweet that uses the one book today’s Republican Religious Right uses to defend every one of their positions, including their rabid opposition to abortion: the Bible.
Cho tweeted out a link to a Bible verse that completely eviscerates the idea of life beginning at conception, and, further, it shows that the Religious Right’s belief that the Bible opposed abortion is beyond false, to put it mildly. Here is the tweet:
I guess there is a shitload of Old Testament quotes that go against the whole idea that life begins at arousal.
That’s right. Not only does the Bible not oppose abortion, it gives a how-to on how to make it happen. Further, the anti-choicers’ favorite book actually says life begins with the first breath, not conception as they would have us believe.
As Alabama’s all-white Legislature tried to preserve racial segregation and worried about the possibility of mixed-race marriages in 1961, lawmakers rewrote state law to make it optional for counties to issue marriage licenses.
Now, some judges who oppose same-sex marriage are using the long-forgotten amendment to get out of the marriage business altogether rather than risk issuing even one wedding license to gays or lesbians. In at least nine of Alabama’s 67 counties, judges have quit issuing any marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions in June.
While the precise reason that lawmakers gave for making the 1961 change has been lost to time, the 54-year-old provision says probate courts “may” issue rather than “shall” issue wedding licenses.
And fuck it if the excuse is these assholes are falling back on is Religious Freedom.
Nick Williams, a Baptist minister who also serves as probate judge in Washington County, is among those who have left the marriage license business. He says issuing a license for a same-sex union would violate his Christian beliefs.
Like Davis, Williams said he would go to jail before he would approve a marriage license for a gay or lesbian.
Three of the counties near Washington County are also no longer issuing marriage licenses…for the same reason, they also have hateful bigots who won’t do their jobs.
…creating a region in southwestern Alabama where marriage licenses aren’t available for 78,000 people. As a result, Bo Keahey and fiance Hannah Detlefsen will have to spend nearly two hours on the road traveling to and from Monroe County before their November wedding because their native Clarke County has quit issuing licenses.
“I pay taxes here and it’s kind of ridiculous that I can’t get a license here,” said Keahey, an attorney.
Whether it is creating a vacuum of healthcare for women…or a fuck you to anyone wanting to get married, these people really know how to make functioning in this world, actual living in this world…impossible.
Now here is the truly bad news, stuff that I have nothing to say about, except silence:
No, it isn’t love that moves mountains. Climate change does and scientists have evidence that could prove it.
Global warming has caused erratic weathers and is responsible for rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities. Now, a new study has revealed that climate change can also alter the shape of our planet.
Matthew Beard aka Stymie
In a five-year study published in the journal Nature on Oct. 1, Michele Koppes, from the University of British Columbia, and colleagues compared the glaciers in Patagonia and in the Antarctic Peninsula.
They found that the glaciers moved faster and caused more erosion in warmer Patagonia compared with those in Antarctica as warmer temperature and the melting of the ice contribute to the lubrication of the glacier bed.
Koppes said that the glaciers in Patagonia erode up to a thousand times faster than in
Three Birds by Jackson Beardy
Antarctica but as Antarctica warms up and moves to temperatures over 0 degrees Celsius, glaciers now all start to move faster.
The researcher said that they have already seen ice sheets that start to move faster and become more erosive, which creates deeper valleys and pour more sediments into the oceans.
Read about how that affects the landscape at the link.
This next story is not good. (And that is putting it mildly.)
A U.S. airstrike in the Afghan city of Kunduz hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Saturday, killing at least 19 people at the medical center, the medical charity said.
In a statement, MSF said the “sustained bombing” took place at 2:10 a.m. local time and continued for 30 minutes after staff raised the alarm to U.S. and Afghan military officials. Three children are believed to be among the dead.
North Carolina Emigrants Poor White Folks By James Henry Beard
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the United States still was trying to determine how the airstrike hit the hospital. “A full investigation into the tragic incident is under way in coordination with the Afghan government,” Carter said in a statement.
And now a couple of videos, yeah they deal with beards…of the metaphorical kind.
If y’all catch my meaning…
-Don’t move or I’ll blow your goddamn brains out!
-Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I’m just a beard.
-You’re making a mistake. He’s just a beard!
-Don’t tell me you’re the beard, you goddamn little rat.
-Run, Tina, run! He’s outta bullets!
It’s our chance! Tina! It’s our chance!
-All right, I’m coming!
-You little rat! You’re never gonna get outta here! I’ll find you.
It sure looks like Vladimir Putin is trying to embarrass President Obama with the Russian air strikes in Syria. The Russians have bombed U.S.-supported rebels rather than ISIS. From The Guardian:
Russia has bombed targets in north-west Syria for a second day, as the Kremlin said it was going after a list of well known militant organisations and not just Islamic State.
The Russian defence ministry said planes hit 12 Isis targets, including a command centre and two arms depots, though the areas where it said the strikes took place are not held by Isis.
Activists reported a number of strikes in the country’s north and centre, including strikes in the province of Hama, which they said hit locations controlled by the US-backed rebel group, Tajamu Alezzah.
A spokesman for the Syrian civil defence said a strike also hit Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province.
“They targeted the northern neighbourhood of the town, which only houses civilians, but there are very few people there because of repeated airstrikes,” the spokesman said.
Al Mayadeen, a Lebanese pro-Assad TV channel, separately reported that Russian aircraft had launched 30 fresh airstrikes against Jaysh al-Fateh, a powerful rebel coalition that includes Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front.
A Russian general asked the U.S. to remove its planes from Syrian airspace Wednesday, just hours before Russian airstrikes began there.
The Russian three-star general, who was part of the newly formed intelligence cell with Iraq, Iran, and the Syrian government, arrived in Baghdad at 9 a.m. local time and informed U.S. officials that Russian strikes would be starting imminently—and that the U.S. should refrain from conducting strikes and move any personnel out. The only notice the U.S. received about his visit was a phone call one hour earlier.
The Russian strikes were centered about the city of Homs, according to initial accounts in the local press and in social media. That’s significant, because Homs is not known to be an ISIS stronghold.
This can’t be good.
“The northern countryside of Hama has no presence of ISIS at all and is under the control of the Free Syrian Army,” Major Jamil al-Saleh of the Free Syrian Army told Reuters. U.S. officials corroborated this account to The Daily Beast.
The FSA has receieved U.S.-made anti-tank missiles; the CIA and Pentagon have been recruiting FSA soldiers as proxies against ISIS.
“There is no Islamic State in this area,” another FSA commandertold Reuters. “The Russians are applying great pressure on the revolution. This will strengthen terrorism, everyone will head toward extremism. Any support for Assad in this way is strengthening terrorism.”
UNITED NATIONS — Blindsided by the unexpected swiftness of Russia’s air attacks in Syria, the Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to retake the diplomatic and military initiatives, saying that it would not be bullied into supporting President Bashar al-Assad and that it was about to significantly expand its own Syrian air operations.
After spending much of the day together here behind closed doors, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said in terse evening statements that U.S. and Russian military officials would meet, perhaps as soon as Thursday, to “deconflict” their operations in Syria.
Standing side by side outside the U.N. Security Council chamber, they said they had reached some preliminary agreements on a way forward toward a negotiated political solution to Syria’s civil war but indicated they were far from agreed on its outcome. They took no questions.
“We have a lot of work to do, understanding fully how urgent this is,” Kerry said.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off Western concerns, suggesting that other countries “get involved” in Syria under Russia’s leadership. Senior foreign policy spokesmen in Moscow said the action proved Russia was a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
Administration officials countered that the airstrikes showed only Russian weakness and what White House press secretary Josh Earnest said was growing concern “about losing influence in the one client state they have in the Middle East.”
This is really making me nervous–probably even more so because I’m not sure how to interpret this news.
Autumn in Bavaria, Kandinsky
Back in the USA, Republicans in Congress are still focused on such non-issues as Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s emails, and trying to cripple Planned Parenthood–although I’m sure they’ll find a little time to criticize Obama’s foreign policy as well.
The media is filled with descriptions of the contents of meaningless Clinton emails and suggestions that her server may have been hacked. Of course the State Department server actually has been hacked several times and so have a number of other government servers. So perhaps Clinton’s private server was actually safer.
Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account while she was secretary of state, emails released Wednesday show. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachments and exposed her account.
Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets. Opening an attachment would have allowed hackers to take over control of a victim’s computer.
Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software in September 2011 said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. That doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.
Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, said: “We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email or that she opened the attachment. As we have said before, there is no evidence that the system was ever breached. All these emails show is that, like millions of other Americans, she received spam.”
Practically every Internet user is inundated with spam or virus-riddled messages daily. But these messages show hackers had Clinton’s email address, which was not public, and sent her a fake traffic ticket from New York state, where she lives. Most commercial antivirus software at the time would have detected the software and blocked it.
The phishing attempts highlight the risk of Clinton’s unsecure email being pried open by foreign intelligence agencies, even if others also received the virus concealed as a speeding ticket from Chatham, New York. The email misspelled the name of the city, came from a supposed New York City government account and contained a “Ticket.zip” file that would have been a red flag.
…the Republican leading the race to replace John Boehner as House speaker said it for them, boasting Tuesday that his party has spent nearly three years dragging her through investigations of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi in hopes of doing serious damage to her presidential campaign.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”
Wow. The longest investigation in House history–longer than the Watergate hearings!–was totally trumped up, and the next House Speaker admits it publicly. Democrats quickly responded.
“It’s just jaw-dropping,” said former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who has endorsed Clinton. “The Republicans lied through their teeth when they said this wasn’t about politics.”
Clinton herself said on Wednesday that McCarthy’s comments were “deeply distressing.”
“When I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost but of everybody who has served our country,” she said in an interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton.
Earlier, Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon called McCarthy’s words “a damning display of honesty by the possible next speaker of the House,” who has “just confessed that the committee set up to look into the deaths of four brave Americans at Benghazi is a taxpayer-funded sham. This confirms Americans’ worst suspicions about what goes on in Washington.”
The Benghazi committee’s top Democrat, Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, said in a Wednesday statement that McCarthy had simply acknowledged what “Republicans never dared admit in public.” He added that Republicans “have blatantly abused their authority in Congress” by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds on the Benghazi committee “to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton.”
New York Representative Louise Slaughter, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, added: “That’s not what we’re here for and, in fact, I think that might be impeachable for crying out loud.”
An assistant director of the Secret Service urged that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a congressman critical of the service should be made public, according to a government watchdog report released Wednesday.
“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.”
Two days later, a news Web site reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected.
That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private….
The Chaffetz file, contained in the restricted database, had been peeked at by about 45 Secret Service agents, some of whom shared it with their colleagues in March and April, the report found. This prying began after a contentious March 24 House hearing at which Chaffetz scolded the director and the agency for its series of security gaffes and misconduct. The hearing sparked anger inside the agency.
David Daleiden, the project lead Center for Medical Progress’ anti-Planned Parenthood campaign, admitted on Wednesday that an alleged fetus on a table that GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina described during a graphic anti-abortion rant was actually from a miscarriage.
Read the rest at the Raw Story link.
Landscape with two poplars, Kandinsky
Finally, some reactions to Kim Davis’ meeting with Pope Francis for you to explore:
Tuesday night, lawyers for Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even after she was jailed, announced that she had been invited to a secret meeting with Pope Franciswhile they were both in Washington, D.C.
The Vatican initially refused to confirm or deny those reports, which suddenly made things far more confusing. On Wednesday morning, however, the Vatican changed its tune, and confirmed the meeting to The New York Times.
“I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add,” said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.
Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican, a magazine covering Catholic news, broke the story on Tuesday night, citing “Vatican sources” as confirmation. The New York Timesfollowed up with an interview with Davis’s lawyer, Mathew Staver, who said that yes, totally, the meeting definitely took place.
During the visit, Staver said the Pontiff gave Davis two rosaries and told her to “stay strong.”
According to Staver, the invitation was extended through the Vatican itself, and seeing as Davis and her husband, Joe, were in town to receive an award from a conservative advocacy group, they decided to briefly visit the Pope at the Apostolic Nunciature right before he left for New York City.
Staver added that he expected the Vatican would soon send them photos of the visit.
As far as I’m concerned this is so disgusting that I think it might overshadow anything good that came from the Pope’s visit to the U.S. The fact that the meeting was kept secret until Francis was back in the Vatican makes it even more awful and shameful. The Pope probably doesn’t understand the damage he did, but along with the canonization of Junipero Sera this will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of many Americans.
I can’t remember the exact date, but it has been a while.
It must have been around the time when Hobby Lobby was in the news? Or maybe it was before that, Troy Davis? Perhaps.
No, it was after Davis…after the Jesus in my Uterus decisions…and the Bundy Ranch militias, the Wendy Davis defeat and the countless scenes of police brutality and idiotic right-wing shitheads stoking the embarrassing political cable TV dumb ass reality show that stands for our elected officials.
Y’all know what I am talking about. We have seen it here on the blog, Mona aka called it Political Affected Disorder. It was really something serious for a few of us…like me. What would have taken just an evening to bring me down from an anxiety and depressed mood brought on by the absolute ridiculous hate filled rant of Bachmann back in the day, now took days to calm down.
There was other things going on at home, yeah but there was something else about the feelings of defeat and real disgust that were different this time around. I didn’t have that anger like I did in 2008. That anger that pushed me, with a vengeance. No, this was not the same.
I’ve been worn down, depression does that I guess.
My only way to keep some sense of sanity was to avoid the news and stop going online all together.
I could not bring myself to comment on the blog anymore. Doing the afternoon news threads was unbearable. I avoided almost anything, just researching articles the evening before my post…and catching up on the threads that Boston Boomer and Dakinikat had written the days before. (Actually, I still do this…I can’t help it, it is my only way to protect myself because I feel like if I get back involved as I once was…I will really loose it. Mentally.)
So. I check out. Only to “check in” on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday mornings…same goes for Saturday nights and Sunday mornings….that is when I will look at what has happened with the circus show of current events.
The reason I bring all this up, is because I felt I had to explain. The reasons for why I am hardly ever here.
Now a few links to illustrate my point…and then I can toss it over to you.
Once upon a time, American men used to get something called a “raise.”
That is when your employer would actually pay you more money. Now, it is true that some people still have experience with this all-but-forgotten practice, but even the ones who do tend not to get pay increases that keep up with price increases. That is why, as David Wessel of the Brookings Institution points out, the typical male worker actually saw his after-inflation pay fall between 1973 and 2014.
What is four lost decades between friends?
I won’t go into the discussion of women and their earning power, cough….cough.
Four candidates are vying for the seat: 1. a dreamy young GOP lawyer who is on the Richmond School Board, 2. a filthy rich Democrat who is a real estate developer and a county supervisor, 3. an independent community organizer who used to be a county supervisor, and 4. our subject today: Libertarian Carl Loser.
After the horror show that was the second Republican debate, we can at least celebrate the fact that massive numbers of Americans–and people all over the world–stand with Ahmed Mohamed after the disgraceful and humiliating treatment he received from his teachers, school administrators, and the Irving, TX police department.
Irving’s police chief announced Wednesday that charges won’t be filed against Ahmed Mohamed, the MacArthur High School freshman arrested Monday after he brought what school officials and police described as a “hoax bomb” on campus.
At a joint press conference with Irving ISD, Chief Larry Boyd said the device — confiscated by an English teacher despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock — was “certainly suspicious in nature.”
School officers questioned Ahmed about the device and why Ahmed had brought it to school. Boyd said Ahmed was then handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” and taken to a juvenile detention center. He was later released to his parents, Boyd said.
“The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm,” Boyd said, describing the incident as a “naive accident.”
Asked if the teen’s religious beliefs factored into his arrest, Boyd said the reaction “would have been the same” under any circumstances.
“We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,” he said. “Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.”
The chief touted the “outstanding relationship” he’s had with the Muslim community in Irving. He said he talked to members of the Muslim community this morning and plans to meet with Ahmed’s father later today.
Good luck with that, Chief. Ahmed’s family is already talking to lawyers about suing your department and the high school for damages. You should be ashamed.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference outside the family’s home, Ahmed’s father said he’s proud of his son and wowed by his skills.
“He fixed my phone, my car, my computer,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed said. “He is a very smart, brilliant kid.”
Mohamed said he’s lived in America for 30 years, but this was a new experience for him.
“That is not America,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed said of his son’s humiliation after being handcuffed in front of his classmates.
But Mohamed said he’s also been touched by the outpouring of support for his son.
“What is happening is touching the heart of everyone with children,” he said. “And that is America.”
Ahmed speaks at his family’s press conference.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, Irving, TX police chief tries to explain away his officers’ and MacArthur High School officials’ stupidity and racism.
The good news is that so far, Ahmed has been invited to visit the White House and to tour labs at M.I.T. and Harvard. He’s been invited to meet Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters and offered an internship at Twitter. He has been offered a scholarship to NASA’s Space Camp, and a tour of Mission Control. In Texas, he has been offered a lifetime membership in the Dallas Engineering Club and has been invited tour the telescope lab at UT Austin. There have been many more invitations and expressions of support.
Last night Ahmed was interviewed by Chris Hayes. Max Fisher wrote about the interview at Vox:
Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old boy who was arrested at school and accused of trying to make a bomb because he’d brought in a homemade clock, appeared on MSNBC for an interview with Chris Hayes on Wednesday night.
“I felt like I was a criminal, I felt like I was a terrorist, I felt like all the names I was called,” he said of the experience of being handcuffed, finger-printed, and interrogated by police. The treatment was not totally new: “In middle school I was called a terrorist, called a bomb-maker. Just because of my race and religion.”
Yes. That is what this intelligent and poised young man has had to deal with in his hometown.
Even for all he went through, Ahmed seems to have come out of the experience, amazingly, more optimistic about the world. When Hayes asked him what he thought about the outpouring of support, this was his answer, and it’s really something:
I feel really well after, because before I didn’t think I was going to get any support because I’m a Muslim boy. So I thought I was just going to be another victim of injustice. But thanks to all my supporters on social media, I got this far, thanks to you guys. I see it as a way of people sending a message to the rest of the world that just because something happens to you because of who you are, no matter what you do, people will always have your back.
The lesson that “people will always have your back” no matter what you look like is perhaps not the one that I might have taken had I gone through what Ahmed did. It is truly amazing to see him come out from this so optimistic about the world, willing to see the silver lining from his experiences rather than to be embittered by the many ways he was mistreated. It’s yet another lesson we could all stand to learn from him.
I thought this interview with Ronald Reagan’s sons was interesting. Although Ron Reagan is a liberal and Michael is a conservative, both men are sick and tired of Republicans who try to claim they are just like Ronald Reagan. (The interviews took place before last night’s debate.) Politico:
Ronald Reagan’s sons have one thing to say to Donald Trump: We knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was our father. And you’re no Ronald Reagan.
The conservative 40th president has been a touchstone in practically every presidential race since he left office, but this year, from Scott Walker’s fawning tweets to Jeb Bush’s custom T-shirt, Reagan fever seems to have reached a new high. And you can bet it will be a main feature of the debate tonight, at the Reagan Library in California.
But if you ask Reagan’s sons Ron and Michael, they’re not so keen on the comparisons. In two exclusive interviews (both published below), which span what the former president would think of the 16-strong Republican field (“I think he’d be kind of appalled”) to who’s most like Reagan (“Rick Perry. … They have the same hat size”) to what Reagan would think of Jeb Bush (“lacks charisma”), the sons of the former president both reject the idea that any Republican today really is the next Ronald Reagan. Plus, as Ron Reagan, a liberal political commentator, points out, “my father never went around comparing himself to someone else.”
Not only is the whole party “certainly getting him wrong as a Republican,” says Ron, the idea of comparing Trump to his father disgusts him. “I can’t think of two people who are more diametrically opposed. This egotistical, narcissistic guy with the weird comb over swanning in his private plane. … I mean, look in the mirror, fat boy. Look at that hair, you’re ridiculous! Where do you get off talking on anybody’s appearance? It’s just so unchivalrous. My father would recoil at that sort of thing.”
Michael Reagan, a conservative political strategist who hosted a talk radio program for 26 years, also questioned the idea that Republican candidates today are just like his father, especially Trump. “It’s interesting to see how many of them … recreate my father in their image and likeness instead of his,” he says. “Ronald Reagan would never take 11 million people or three million people or a million people and throw them out of the United States of America.” Plus, Michael says, talking about Reagan all the time is just bad strategy: “I have a 32 year-old daughter named Ashley. She knows who Ronald Reagan is, but name another 32 year old who does.”
And as for Donald Trump being the next Ronald Reagan? That’s ridiculous, says Michael. “To say what he said about Carly? … Is that the face we want for the Republican Party? If that’s the face, then the Democrats have to be going, ‘Go Donald!’”
Read the complete interviews at the Politico link above.
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.