Well, another storm is hitting here in Banjoville. The weather people are saying we should get a total of 6 to 12 inches of snow when it is all said and done.
Down south things are a lot worse…if you have not seen the big headlines over at Huffington Post or Drudge, take a look at this:
HISTORIC ICE STORM UNFOLDS IN SOUTH...
GEORGIA WARNED: 'CATASTROPHIC'...
SEEN FROM SPACE...
Hundreds of flights cancelled...
Panicked Shoppers Fight Over Food...
Nor'easter Could Be 'Biggest Of Season'...
'Snow Rage' Afflicts Storm-Weary Locals...
Conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with up to an inch of ice predicted in parts of Georgia and central South Carolina.
Two to 6 inches of snow fell in north Georgia on Tuesday, with another 5 to 9 inches expected by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Darbe.
But Darbe said ice was the bigger worry, with a quarter to three-quarters of an inch expected in the area that includes metropolitan Atlanta.
Officials were quick to make plans for dealing with the weather after being criticized for inadequate preparation before a storm two weeks ago. That storm paralyzed Atlanta area roads and forced more than 11,000 students in Alabama to spend the night at their schools.
Oh you bet your ass they were ready this time…
Ending three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default on the nation’s debt was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions.
The vote — 221 to 201 — relied almost entirely on Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to carry the measure and represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other legislation. Only 28 Republicans voted yes, and only two Democrats voted no.
I guess you could say hell froze over?
Simply by holding the vote, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio effectively ended a three-year Tea Party-inspired era of budget showdowns that had raised the threat of default and government shutdowns, rattled economic confidence and brought serious scrutiny from other nations questioning Washington’s ability to govern. In the process, though, Mr. Boehner also set off a series of reprisals from fellow Republican congressmen and outside groups that showcased the party’s deep internal divisions.
“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want,” said a Republican representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who last year unsuccessfully tried to rally enough support to derail Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker. “It’s going to really demoralize the base.”
The NYT article goes on to say it was a victory for the President and the Dems…but considering the shit we have dealt with the last few years, and those poor people who will be dealing with lower food stamp funds, how can that be a victory?
Meanwhile in West Virginia, another spill is causing the citizens grief: ‘Significant’ slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek
More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a “significant spill” from a Patriot Coal processing facility.
Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill.”
“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”
That is disgusting. I don’t think the people of West Virginia will ever be able to drink the water again.
For a little laugh, here is my favorite actor of today…I know the reason for the video is not funny, it is disgusting, but of all the other “black actors doing commercials” it is good to see Sammy call the asshole out:
Local TV stations have a reputation for goofy unprofessionalism and quirky hiccups. This segment at KTLA in Los Angeles is something so much worse. Veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin begins his interview by asking about Jackson’s Super Bowl commercial, and things get real ugly real quick.
“What Super Bowl commercial?” responds a flabbergasted Jackson. ”See, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” (Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in “The Matrix” for a Kia spot.) “We don’t all look alike!”
He then goes on to list other black actors in commercials, who he is not.
Just as uncomfortable as Rubin’s attempts to brush off the blunder by saying, “Really my big mistake … let’t talk about ‘Robocop,’” are the hoots and howls coming from Rubin’s peers who clearly don’t get how terribly offensive this “mistake” is. Rubin later apologized and claimed he was referring to a commercial for Jackson’s upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Regardless, the incident (and Jackson’s blunt response) is a reminder of Hollywood’s serious race problem that was starkly evident at the Golden Globes.
You can see the look on Jackson’s face at the end, it really does show how tired he is of all the shit.
I noticed yesterday y’all were talking in the comments about books you were reading, I just started to read this one about cuss words as discussed in this link here: Here’s the first recorded instance of the F-word in English
And it’s a monk expressing his displeasure at an abbot. In the margins of a guide to moral conduct. Because of course.
Technically, “fuck” appeared two times before this. In 1500, it was used in a satirical poem to describe some friars. In that case, nothing like “fuck” was actually written out. Instead, the word was hidden in a code. And in 1513, it appeared in a Scottish poem as “fukkit.”
But for English’s first use, we’ve got a dissatisfied 1528 monk. He’s written “O D fuckin abbot.” Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, says this “fuck” could be either literal or metaphorical:
It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.
So, either this monk was recording his abbot’s sex life or he was the first person to be so angry that only “fuck” could convey it’s scope.
Did you all see the big joint news out of New York and Italy? I’ve got a few articles on this mass arrest from both Italian and US sources:
‘Ndrangheta ‘snatching U.S. Cosa Nostra drug trade’ – GazzettaDelSud
Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach thanks to its dominance of the European cocaine trade and is even muscling in on the drug operations of one of Cosa Nostra’s historic five families in New York, investigators said after a major Italian-FBI bust Tuesday. “This was an important operation because we proved that the power of the ‘Ndrangheta now far surpasses that of Cosa Nostra”, Reggio Calabria prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told ANSA from New York after 26 arrests in a probe into a new drug route from Guyana to Europe via the ‘Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro.
According to the Gazzetta Del Sud, this ‘Ndrangheta Mafia even used Mexican cartels in a joint venture in their set-up to traffic cocaine.
As for the US side of the take down: Arrests in New York and Italy Thwart Mob Drug Scheme, Authorities Say – NYTimes.com
“They put a hundred grams, two hundred grams in each fish” and “it takes a day to defrost and then it takes a day to take out,” Franco Lupoi said, according to prosecutors who say the conversation was recorded by investigators.
On Tuesday, federal authorities announced the arrests of Mr. Lupoi, the owner of a Brooklyn bakery, and six other people in New York on charges that included narcotics trafficking and money laundering and that were the culmination of a two-year undercover F.B.I. investigation. In Italy, the police announced the arrests of 17 people in connection with the investigation.
What made the case remarkable were not the charges but the defendants’ links to the ’Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in Calabria that is notorious for kidnappings and for its success importing cocaine into Europe.
More from the LA Times: Italian-U.S. Mafia drug trafficking ring busted, FBI and police say
The FBI and Italian police said they had broken up a global heroin and cocaine trafficking ring Tuesday after stumbling upon a fledgling alliance between a Calabrian Mafia group and associates of New York’s notorious
Twenty-four arrests were made in Italy and the United States after a two-year operation that relied on both wiretaps and an American undercover agent named by investigators as “Jimmy,” who is said to have infiltrated the Gambinos and fooled Italians into believing he was a heroin dealer. Seventeen of the arrests were made in Italy and seven in the United States.
Those arrested in the U.S. were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. The men, some of them suspected of being members of the Gambino and Bonanno “families,” were listed as using various street aliases such as “Lello,” “Freddy,” and “Charlie Pepsi.”
I am sure more information will be coming forward, but…
The coordinated sting halted the planned shipment of more than a ton of cocaine from Latin America to Italy in liquid form, smuggled with help from Mexican cartels in coconut and pineapple cans, law enforcement officials said. They put the street value at $1 billion.
One more link…on the additional discovery of ‘Ndrangheta connections with the Far East heroin trade: Gambino, Bonanno family members held in joint US-Italy anti-mafia raid – CNN.com
Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated that the “‘Ndrangheta is one of the strongest organizations in the world in illegal drug trade.”
He cited its sophisticated network of contacts and its ability to adapt and find new markets, including “expanding beyond Italian borders.”
Grassi said that historically, the Gambino family had had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. But their involvement in the illegal traffic of heroin, known as the “Pizza Connection,” was dismantled or severely curtailed in the 1980s, he said, and they are now trading mainly cocaine.
The latest operation, according to Grassi and FBI officials, shows that the mafia families of the “new continent” are still seeking and relying on “old country” connections — which is why investigators dubbed the operation “New Bridge.”
According to Grassi, the Italian-American mafia families “need this new bridge to connect and support the traffic of cocaine.”
While the existence of a connection between the Calabrian mafia and U.S. mafia families has been well known, Tuesday’s operation shows its great strength and reach, investigators said.
One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge from the operation was evidence that ‘Ndrangheta has also reached out to the Far East in the heroin trade, another investigator said.
While on the subject of the Mafia, 10 Real-Life Inspirations For Characters In The Godfather – Listverse
It’s one of the immutable laws of nature: You’re channel surfing, and there, between some cooking show and an infomercial, you come upon The Godfather. Even though you own the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD box set with three weeks’ worth of special features, you are glued to that station until the credits roll. And if it’s the first in a Godfather marathon, your day is shot. You’re not moving, except to warm up some frozen lasagna between Godfather 2 and Godfather 3.
The Godfather is a classic of American cinema, and Godfather Part 2 is considered by some an even better movie. This story of the patriarch of a New York crime family, and his son who takes over the “family business,” is largely based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, with director Francis Ford Coppola and Puzo producing new material for the films.
Puzo based many of the characters on the real underworld players he heard about growing up and working in New York City.
That thing about getting stuck watching the trilogy on TV, it is so true…it just happened to my mom and me last week, and it was on one of those channels with the commercials. (So you know how annoying that can be, and how “glued” we were to stick it out for the three full movies.)
In wrapping this post up, I will end with this tune…a perfect finale to a mob focused post. I know that I have used this song before, but what can I say…
If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Have a wonderful day, and if you are in the storm’s wake, please stay safe and warm.
And be sure to share with us, what is on your reading list today?
Ah, another damn year has gone by, 2014 has to be a hellalot better than 2013, it has to be!
If you missed New Years Worldwide, there are plenty of pictures here:
Now for a few links, did you see the latest on the booze front: Moderate alcohol consumption ‘boosts immune system’
The study researchers, led by Ilhem Messaoudi of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, say their research may help lead to a better understanding of how the immune system works, and how to improve its ability to respond to vaccines and infections.
To reach their findings, the researchers trained 12 monkeys (rhesus macaques) to consume alcohol freely.
That has to be a beginning of a joke, at the very least.
Prior to this, the monkeys were vaccinated against smallpox. One group of the monkeys was then allowed access to either 4% alcohol, while the other group had access to sugar water. All monkeys also had access to normal water and food.
The monkeys were then monitored for a 14-month period and were vaccinated again 7 months into the experiment.
You had some monkeys that were “heavy drinkers” and some that were “moderate drinkers.” (I really can’t help but get images of those little monkeys dressed up like little people, and acting like the comical drunk in silent movies.)
Anyway, the study showed:
The monkeys classed as heavy drinkers showed diminished responses to the vaccine, compared with the monkeys that consumed sugar water. But the investigators were surprised to find that the monkeys deemed as moderate drinkers demonstrated an enhanced vaccine response.
Not sure if 12 monkeys is enough of a group of “individuals” to quantify the experiment…but my husband is a “heavy drinker” and he never gets sick. According to him, it is because of his alcohol and tobacco use that colds and disease do not take hold in his body…maybe he is on to something?
And since we are on the topic of experiments on animals: Animal-Rights Activists Bully Dying Italian Girl – The Daily Beast
When 25-year-old veterinary student Caterina Simonsen posted an update on a Facebook page supporting the use of animals in medical research before Christmas, she was trying to say how lucky she felt to be alive. The Padua native suffers from four rare genetic pulmonary diseases that require her to use breathing tubes and experimental medication to thin the mucus in her lungs in order to breathe. Her extreme illness makes her quickly immune to treatments, and, as a result, she has been a human guinea pig in a host of medical trials as doctors search for ways to help her live longer. At 18, her doctors told her she couldn’t be cured, but this year, she had survived another birthday and simply wanted to say thanks. “I am 25 thanks to genuine research that includes experiments on animals. Without research, I would have been dead at nine. You have gifted me a future.”
Simonsen’s comments, on the heels of a hotly contested national telethon in Italy soliciting money for medical research, triggered a flurry of hate comments from animal-rights extremists. “You could die tomorrow, I wouldn’t sacrifice my goldfish for you,” a poster named Giovanna wrote on the Facebook page “A Favore Della Sperimentazione Animale” (In Favor of Animal Experimentation). Another wrote, “If you had died as a child, no one would have given a damn.” In all, Simonsen received 30 death threats and 500 cruel insults, which are being investigated by local police.
You should see what some of the people wrote to this woman, hateful disgusting stuff. But it may be that some of those asshole may get their wish because Giovanna is in the hospital again with a lung infection that the doctors say is stress induced, read more at the link.
I hate to start the new year with a shit news filled post…so I will just post the rest of the depressing links in dump format:
Iowa voter fraud investigation possibly financed by misused funds | WQAD.com
According to a report by the Des Moines Register, in July of 2012 Iowa’s Secretary of State Matt Schultz launched an investigation with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to look into cases of alleged voter fraud.
Schultz reportedly used Help America Vote Act funds for the investigation, which may have violated how the HAVA funds are supposed to be used.
Can you hear the laughter from my house? All that money to catch 5 people(or some ridiculously low number like that…), three of which turned themselves in…only to find out that the money they used was “misused funds” from their “Help America Vote Act” funds.
In other crime news: Can hidden information in photographs be used to spot criminals? – latimes.com
A new study concludes that people are very good at recognizing the faces of familiar people reflected in the pupils of portrait subjects. (Courtesy of Rob Jenkins, Christie Kerr, PLOS One / December 26, 2013)
When the Mentally Ill Own Guns – An op/ed from the New York Times.
Reverse Nazi salute, all the rage in Europe, is now coming to America -This is scary…go to the link to see the pictures.
We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton -An op/ed on those TED Talks…
In our culture, talking about the future is sometimes a polite way of saying things about the present that would otherwise be rude or risky.
But have you ever wondered why so little of the future promised in TED talks actually happens? So much potential and enthusiasm, and so little actual change. Are the ideas wrong? Or is the idea about what ideas can do all by themselves wrong?
Of course I have to bring you something medieval for new years…what about a medieval baby, in the making? Bet some GOP folks would believe it works this way…
Another medieval history link on Iceland: Beauty and brutality: Iceland’s literary landscapes
And one on Germany: Cheating and Cheaters in German Romance and Epic, 1180 – 1225
A picture of “What If?” here in America: The 124 states of America
What would the U.S. look like if all of the secession movements in U.S. history had succeeded? Well, Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears built a map to answer that question. (It covers secession movements through the end of 2011.) His 124 states of America is below. Click the map to enlarge it.
Map courtesy of Andrew Shears
It is missing some of the more recent movements out in Colorado…California…Idaho…Texas, etc.
Hey…for you Movie Buffs…Critics Poll: What Was the Worst Movie of 2013? — Vulture
A year in movies is often split between stunning works of art and jaw-droppingly awful films. For example: 12 Years a Slave hit theaters on the same day as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wait-this-actually-happened? team-up Escape Plan. So as Vulture celebrates the finest films of 2013 (you can see critic David Edelstein’s top ten here), so must we celebrate the worst. Welcome to the seventh edition of our annual worst-movies roundup, as voted on by critics, where soon-to-be-forgotten misfires earn a last turn in the spotlight.
This year, Vulture polled film critics on the year’s most torturous moviegoing experiences (some publications submitted collective ballots). Those responses, combined with a number of notable worst-of lists published elsewhere, added up to 42 lists, which were tallied to produce the final ranking of the ten worst films of 2013. It was a tight race, with critically maligned mainstream disasters (Gangster Squad, R.I.P.D.,The Hangover Part III) rubbing shoulders with polarizing auteurist efforts (Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder) just outside the bottom tier. Below, see the official ten worst of the worst for 2013, then peruse all of the individual critic ballots.
Fortunately I did not see any of the shit on that list. Did you?
Which brings me to another list for you this morning: The Year’s Very Worst Words Are So “Problematic”
Language is wonderful and language is alive, but language is also a form of psychological assault—especially when everybody suddenly starts using awful new terms and phrases just because everyone else is doing it, on Twitter. We are not so naive as to think we can “ban” this or that word, because “ban” is one of the words we would ban, if words could be banned. They cannot. Thanks to 2013, we’re stuck with this bunch of linguistic garbage.
bless your heart
Antiquated southernism for “fuck you,” often heard in open-plan offices where people are uncomfortable saying “fuck you.”
Yeah…that is one that is getting too much play from those northerners if you ask me…just leave it to the southern fuckwads, and just say it like it is.
Shorthand for “I have completed my bigoted statement.” See also: #sorrynotsorry.
Actually, one word I am fucking tired of is DUCK…funny that it does rhyme with FUCK?
Alright, that is it for the link “dump.” And…now we will end with a story about what kind of things gets “dropped” for the New Year: Pickles, Possums, Peeps: The Things We Drop to Ring in the New Year
Why do we celebrate the New Year … by dropping things?
It started with ships. Maritime vessels, back before they could turn to more precise forms of time measurement, relied on “time balls”: spheres that were dropped from masts and other shipboard poles at precise intervals to help insure that their chronometers were aligned with Greenwich Mean Time. In 1906, those time balls lent themselves to another kind of time: Times Square. New York City had just banned fireworks displays, and Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, wanted to give the throngs of people who would gather around his building another kind of show.
Ochs, as the Los Angeles Times reports, called on the paper’s chief electrician, Walter Palmer, to come up with another source of the spectacular. Palmer borrowed the maritime tradition and combined it with something that would work on land: electricity. And the Times Square Ball Drop was born.
Since then, the “dropping things” tradition has been modified by cities across the country, in ways both wondrous and weird. Plenty, still, drop their own balls—smaller versions of New York City’s. Many others, however, drop food (cheese, fruit, Peeps). Some drop animals (cows, fish, possums, goats). One (Seaside Heights, New Jersey) has dropped a person.
Below, re-categorized from Wikipedia’s amazingly extensive, state-by-state list, are some of the objects that people have chosen to ring in the New Year. They reflect regional pride, municipal quirk, economic diversity … and the rich weirdness that makes America what it is. Happy New Year, everyone.
I think I will now drop my fat ass into bed, since I am writing this post at 3:14 in the morning on January 1, 2014!
Happy New Year’s Day Y’all…
And, Bless Your Hearts….hee-hee.
The government shutdown continues, and as Dakinikat wrote yesterday, no one seems to know how long this deadlock between extremist House Republicans (along with their chief hostage Speaker John Boehner) and the rest of Congress–Republicans and Democrats–will continue. It’s depressing as hell, and it’s really difficult to figure out what Republicans think they’re going to gain by it.
Just a few links:
On day three of the partial government shutdown, a new CBS News poll reveals that a large majority of Americans disapprove of the shutdown and more are blaming Republicans than President Obama and the Democrats for it.
Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act; just 25 percent approve of this action. Republicans are divided: 48 percent approve, while 49 percent disapprove. Most tea party supporters approve of the government shutdown – 57 percent of them do. Disapproval of the shutdown is high among Democrats and independents. This CBS News poll was conducted after the partial government shutdown began on October 1.
Views of the Affordable Care Act are related to views of the shutdown. Those who like the health care law also overwhelmingly disapprove of shutting down the government. There is more support for the shutdown among Americans who don’t like the 2010 health care law. Thirty-eight percent of them approve of the shutdown but even more, 59 percent, disapprove.
Republicans in Congress receive more of the blame for the shutdown: 44 percent of Americans blame them, while 35 percent put more blame on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. These views are virtually the same as they were last week before the shutdown, when Americans were asked who they would blame if a shutdown occurred.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Republicans Are No Longer the Party of Business.
T.J. Gentle, chief executive officer of Smart Furniture, an online custom furniture maker in Chattanooga, employs 250 people, has seen sales grow 25 percent this year, and was planning another round of hiring—until Republican hard-liners forced the federal government to close on Oct. 1. Gentle is the embodiment of moderate, business-minded pragmatism: He voted for President Obama and Tennessee’s Republican Senator Bob Corker, splits his donations between the parties, and prefers divided government as a check on partisan excess. Like his plan to hire more workers, this too may change as a result of the shutdown. “It’s as if House Republicans are playing suicide bomber with the U.S. economy,” he says. “As a businessman, it defies all reason and logic.”
Smart Furniture and countless other businesses are already feeling the impact of the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which backed one-third of all mortgages last year, has furloughed employees, a move that will slow loan approvals and house purchases. “That directly affects the construction and materials industries,” Gentle says, “but it also affects us, since the purchase of a new home is the No. 1 trigger for buying furniture.”
Larger businesses, which often tilt more heavily toward the GOP, are no less frustrated. It’s hard to find any organization more closely affiliated with the Republican Party than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 the business trade group spent $35,657,029 on federal elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $305,044 was spent on behalf of Democratic candidates. Last year the Chamber went further to help Republicans than it ever had by running ads directly against candidates: It spent $27,912,717 against Democrats and only $346,298 against Republicans.
Geeze, if business isn’t happy with the GOP, who do they have left in their corner? The religious right and the Tea Party, I guess–and those groups likely have a lot of crossover. Is that enough for to support a national party?
A small but growing group of House Republicans is increasingly worried about the fallout from the government shutdown and say it’s time for Speaker John Boehner to allow a simple vote on a spending bill.
Defunding Obamacare can wait for now, they say.
“I’m trying to be optimistic but at the same time I have a really, really tough time when people are out of work and they can’t pay their bills,” Rep. Michael Grimm of New York told reporters Wednesday. “Though it might be a political loss for us … this is an untenable situation.”
Rep. Scott Rigell, whose Virginia district is home to a significant number of military members and civilian contractors, was one of the first to publicly break away.
“We fought the good fight,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday, but acknowledged it was time to move on.
Boehner hosted small groups of concerned members on Wednesday. A spokesman for Boehner declined to talk about the sessions.
How can Boehner get away with letting just 30% of his caucus run roughshod over the entire House? Think Progress may have the answer: How John Boehner Engineered An Ohio Gerrymander To Save His Speakership.
During the last redistricting cycle, then-Ohio state Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) pledged to deliver a redrawn map of Ohio’s congressional districts “that Speaker Boehner fully supports.” Indeed, at the height of the map drawing process, Boehner’s political aide Tom Whatman averaged a request a day to Ohio’s mapmakers — often micromanaging the slightest geographic changes in the district lines. In one case, for example, the line-drawers added a peninsula with no residents at all to Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-OH) district because the peninsula included the headquarters of a company whose leaders donated generously to Renacci.
A full election cycle later, Team Boehner’s micromanagement paid off. President Obama won the state of Ohio by nearly two points in 2012, but 12 members of Ohio’s 16 member Congressional delegation are Republicans. In the nation as a whole, nearly 1.4 million more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than Republicans.
The districts Boehner helped draw in Ohio played into a much larger Republican Party strategy to secure the House by rigging the legislative maps. Indeed, last January, the Republican State Leadership Committee released a report entitled “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013.” The report bragged that gerrymandering “paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.”
And, as TP notes, this strategy was replicated and a number of other states.
In other news . . .
This story is just breaking . . . From CNN: Scores dead after boat sinks of Italian island of Lampedusa.
At least 94 people, including a pregnant woman and two children, died when a boat capsized and caught fire off the island of Lampedusa, the Italian coast guard told CNN on Thursday.
The coast guard has been able to save at least 151 people, and the rescue operation is ongoing.
The boat is thought to have been carrying up to 500 people. Those aboard include Somalis, Eritreans and Ghanaians, the coast guard said, and the boat is thought to have launched from Libya’s coast.
Lampedusa, the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, praised the efforts of the Italian coast guard but said he was “dismayed at the rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.”
Some context on this story, also from CNN, a June 2011 story about one of Lampedusa’s boat people.
Yesterday the FBI shut down a website called Silk Road that has been used for massive amounts of criminal activity. From Fox News: Feds shut down $1.2 billion criminal internet marketplace.
Federal authorities have shut down what they called the “most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today,” an underground operation responsible for distributing illegal drugs and other black market goods and services.
The site’s alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested and $3.6 million in anonymous digital currency known as Bitcoins was seized. The site, which did about $1.2 billion in sales, was taken over by federal authorities, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday in the Southern District of New York.
Ulbricht was alleged to operate a website responsible for distributing hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services, including fake IDs and computer hacking-related services. He was indicted on charges of drug conspiracy, computer intrusion offensives conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.
Ulbricht, 29, used the aliases “Dread Pirate Roberts,” “DPR,” and “Silk Road” while operating the site, authorities said.
From BBC News, Silk Road: How FBI closed in on suspect Ross Ulbricht.
It was an underground website where people from all over the world were able to buy drugs.
In the months leading up to Mr Ulbricht’s arrest, investigators undertook a painstaking process of piecing together the suspect’s digital footprint, going back years into his history of communicating with others online….
The search started with work from Agent-1, the codename given to the expert cited in the court documents, who undertook an “extensive search of the internet” that sifted through pages dating back to January 2011.
The trail began with a post made on a web forum where users discussed the use of magic mushrooms.
In a post titled “Anonymous market online?”, a user nicknamed Altoid started publicising the site.
“I came across this website called Silk Road,” Altoid wrote. “Let me know what you think.”
The post contained a link to a site hosted by the popular blogging platform WordPress. This provided another link to the Silk Road’s location on the so-called “dark web”.
Read the whole story at the link.
From Andy Greenberg at Forbes: Feds Allege Silk Road’s Boss Paid For Murders Of Both A Witness And A Blackmailer.
When I interviewed the Dread Pirate Roberts, the persona behind the anonymous black market drug website known as Silk Road, he described his narcotics bazaar as a victimless libertarian experiment. But criminal complaints against Ross William Ulbricht, the 29-year-old entrepreneur who allegedly wore that pirate’s mask, now claim that he was also willing to leave a few bodies in his wake.
In two separate sets of charges released Wednesday following the seizure of the Silk Road’s domain and servers, federal prosecutors accused Ulbricht of not only conspiracies to sell drugs and launder money, but also of paying hitmen for the murder of two individuals, one who is described as attempting to blackmail Ulbricht after hacking a Silk Road vendor and learning the identities of thousands of the site’s users, and another employee of the Silk Road who Ulbricht allegedly feared might reveal him to law enforcement.
“DPR’s communications reveal that he has taken it upon himself to police threats to the site from scammers and extortionists,” reads an affidavit from FBI agent Christopher Tarbell, “and has demonstrated a willingness to use violence in doing so.”
In the one of the two cases, filed in a Maryland district court, a criminal complaint against Ulbrichtdescribes how an undercover agent gained Ulbricht’s trust after communicating with him through the Dread Pirate Roberts account Ulbricht is thought to have used and conducting a $27,000 cocaine deal through the Silk Road. The agent later allegedly received a message from the Dread Pirate Roberts asking if he’d be willing to arrange the beating of a Silk Road employee who Roberts said had scammed users of the site and taken their bitcoins, the cryptographic currency used on Silk Road.
Read much more at the link.
Just a side note on the Silk Road story: the “dark web” makes use of the encryption methods recommended by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. This is the “other side” of the fight for “privacy rights.”
Here are a couple more Snowden/Greenwald news stories I came across.
Earlier this summer, a few weeks after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the agency’s surveillance practices were published, the encrypted email service provider he used, called Lavabit, shut itself down. At that time, Lavabit’s founder Ladar Levison said he was shuttering his website to avoid “becom[ing] complicit in crimes against the American people,” which many took to mean he was resisting further surveillance demands by the US government. It turns out we didn’t know the half of it: new court documents unsealed today in the US District Court for Virginia’s Eastern District, obtained by Wired, reveal that Levison fought the US government tooth-and-nail to avoid handing over the encryption keys that would allow government agents to read his customers’ emails.
In the harrowing saga recounted in the newly unsealed documents, it turns out the government obtained a search warrant in July and demanded Lavabit hand over the encryption and secure-socket layer (SSL) keys to its system. The government was pursuing the emails sent by a single target, whose name has been redacted, but as Wired points out, it’s highly likely that user was Snowden himself.
From the Baltimore Sun: Hopkins professor rejects invitation to review NSA documents leaked by Snowden
A Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor — who gained media attention when university officials told him to take down a blog post he wrote about National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden — says he declined an invitation this week to join journalists and others reviewing the classified NSA documents.
“The truth is, I don’t really know what to say,” said Matthew D. Green, who received the invitation from Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald via Twitter on Thursday.
“It was a very generous offer,” Green said. “I think somebody should be down there and they need more expertise to go through those documents, [but] I’m not sure I want it to be me.”
Greenwald, who received the documents from Snowden and has led global reporting on them, invited Green to his home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to “work journalistically” on the documents, specifically as they pertain to the NSA’s alleged circumvention of online encryption tools.
The invitation gave a boost to Green’s rising prominence in the debate over NSA spying methods. Johns Hopkins administrators this month briefly asked him to remove from universityservers a blog post he had written about coverage of the Snowden documents.
This post has gotten way too long, so I’ll put the rest of my links in the discussion thread below. Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comments.
Since Peej has the Happiness front covered, I will take care of the down and out blues department….
Yeah, it’s one hell of a blues song…but it sure is a sad song too…and I mean what else can you say about being so down and out and blue you need to turn to prostitution? The Blues…You know that also includes the dark, depressing and disturbing stuff too.
Starting with this little update on the rodeo clown that caused Fox News, Glenn Beck and Hannity to have a conniption, not because of the disgusting racist “mockery” displayed at a state funded event…but because rodeo clowns always make fun of sitting presidents. Cough, cough. Tommy Christopher has this to say: You Would Not Believe How Common Rodeo Clown Mockery of Presidents Is
For days, conservatives in the media have been calling out Republicans in Missouri for denouncing a rodeo clown’s performance at the Missouri State Fair, although they keep referring to those Republicans as “liberals,” for some reason. However, conservative media watchdog Newsbusters has now swooped in with a welcome dose of cold, hard truthiness to let the Republicans, Democrats, and other decent people who were offended by the rodeo’s mockery of President Obama, know that this exact thing happens all the time! In fact, you wouldn’t believe how often!
Despite conservative media attempts to frame reaction to this incident as liberal over-sensitivity, the performance drew immediate, harsh rebukes from Republicans and Democrats in Missouri, and resulted in a lifetime ban for the rodeo clown.
Newsbusters‘ Noel Sheppard, however, wants to make sure that the mainstream media reports that “these things aren’t that unusual at such events,” and he’s got ironclad proof that sitting presidents are mocked by rodeo clowns at publicly-sponsored events all the time:
Maybe these folks should report that these things aren’t that unusual at such events, and that in 1994, a bull attacked a dummy wearing a George H.W. Bush mask without the world coming to an end, anybody being fired, or any press outrage.
1994? I guess that counts as frequent if you’re a cicada. Sheppard cites this passage from a 1994 Philadelphia Inquirer piece:
The big white gate flew open. The bull came out bucking. The rider flopped from side to side and the bullfighters held back, letting the bull make his moves until the rider dropped off. Licciardello crouched in a heavily padded barrel, a human target should the bull decide to charge. Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick. [...]
T.J. Hawkins rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.
Okay, fine, it wasn’t a sitting president, it was 20 years ago, and it wasn’t even a rodeo clown wearing a mask, but still, why was there no media outrage at this taxpayer-funded effigy eff-up? Well, it turns out the Philly Inquirer was doing a feature on Jimmy Lee Walker, and the Bush bit was just a bit of color thrown in to give readers a Proustian grasp of New Jersey’s Cowtown Rodeo, which is not a state fair, is not funded by tax dollars, and happens every week… in New Jersey. It’s like asking why ESPN is ignoring the prevalence of steroids in Wiffle Ball.
More stories from the dark side: The Inevitable Darth Vader/Breaking Bad Mashup Has Arrived and It Is Glorious
He was responsible for the Death Star. Two of them bitches.
Sure, as Heisenberg, Walter White strikes fear into the hearts of drug dealers everywhere. But take away the black headgear and he’s really just a sad old white dude with a bald head and a lung problem.
…illustrator PJ McQuade, who calls the above work “Darth Heisenberg.” That’s got a real nice ring to it, actually. And he’s not wrong — White is definitely in the empire business for sure. Though I’m kind of hoping that Walt doesn’t get a redemptive moment at the end of his story like Darth Vader did. Die in a million fires, Mr. White.
Hey, that is the Dark Side of The Force, no question about that. What about a Dark Religion? Or what some of the geezus freaks would have you believe was the deep dark devil side….
Well, here is an update on Georgia placing Bibles in the State Parks. You remember the deal Gov. Deal made a few months ago? That he would allow other religious material to be placed in the cabins located on state park property. Atheist books delivered to Georgia state park
Ed Buckner, a former president of American Atheists Inc., said he brought two atheist books for each cottage at Red Top Mountain State Park in Cartersville. The Cranford, N.J.-based organization had said it would supply atheist texts for lodging in Georgia state parks after the governor said in May any religious group could donate literature.
Bibles were temporarily removed earlier this year after Buckner complained about finding them in a cabin he rented at Amicalola Falls State Park. They were returned after the state attorney general said the books were permissible since the state hadn’t paid for them. In May, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the Bibles returned to state park cabins and said any religious group could donate books.
“American Atheists does not believe the state of Georgia should be placing Bibles or atheist books in state park cabins; however, if the state is going to allow such distribution, we will happily provide our materials,” group president David Silverman said in a statement.
Buckner said Wednesday he was told by officials at Red Top Mountain State Park that the books he dropped off “The Skeptics Annotated Bible” by Steve Wells and “Fear, Faith, Fact, Fantasy” by Dr. John A. Henderson wouldn’t be immediately put in cottages at Red Top Mountain because the manager would have to make sure they complied with regulations.
Let’s see if those books really get to live next to the bibles in the cabin’s bedside table’s drawers…place your bets.
Okay, move on to the blackness and darkness of the criminal mind? The Killer Mind? Criminologists identify family killer characteristics
Men who kill their families can be separated into four distinct types.
British criminologists have made the assessment after studying newspaper records of “family annihilator” events over the period from 1980 to 2012.
A family break-up was the most common trigger, followed by financial difficulties and honour killings.
Writing in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, the team lists the four types as self-righteous, anomic, disappointed, and paranoid.
Each category has slightly different motivations and many cases also have a hidden history of domestic abuse. In four out of five cases the murderers went on to kill themselves or attempted to do so.
The research revealed the most frequent month for the crime was in August, when fathers were likely to be with their children more often because of school holidays.
- Self-righteous: Killer seeks to locate blame for his crimes upon the mother who he holds responsible for the breakdown of the family. For these men, their breadwinner status is central to their idea of the ideal family. (case study: Brian Philcox)
- Anomic: The family has become firmly linked to the economy in the mind of the killer. The father sees his family as the result of his economic success, allowing him to display his achievements. However, if the father becomes an economic failure, he sees the family as no longer serving this function. (case study: Chris Foster)
- Disappointed: This killer believes his family has let him down or has acted in ways to undermine or destroy his vision of ideal family life. An example may be disappointment that children are not following the traditional religious or cultural customs of the father. (case study: Mohammed Riaz)
- Paranoid: Those who perceive an external threat to the family. This is often social services or the legal system, which the father fears will side against him and take away the children. Here, the murder is motivated by a twisted desire to protect the family. (case study: Graham Anderson)
Be sure to read the whole article and then go back to read the case studies.
Have y’all seen the guest writer over at Charles Pierce? Esquire Civil War Reenactment: Robert E. Lee and What an Oath Means – Lt. Col. Robert Bateman
Take a look at his latest post and then check out the others he has written: Daily Politics Blog – Posts By Lt. Col. Robert Bateman – Charles P. Pierce – Political Blogging – Esquire
Over in England, spoons are saving the lives of young girls being sent into underage marriages: Spoon in underwear saving youths from forced marriage | The Raw Story
As Britain puts airport staff on alert to spot potential victims of forced marriage, one campaigning group says the trick of putting a spoon in their underwear has saved some youngsters from a forced union in their South Asian ancestral homelands.
The concealed spoon sets off the metal detector at the airport in Britain and the teenagers can be taken away from their parents to be searched — a last chance to escape a largely hidden practice wrecking the lives of unknown thousands of British youths.
The British school summer holidays, now well under way, mark a peak in reports of young people — typically girls aged 15 and 16 — being taken abroad on “holiday”, for a marriage without consent, the government says.
The bleep at airport security may be the last chance they get to escape a marriage to someone they have never met in a country they have never seen.
The spoon trick is the brainchild of the Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse.
Based in Derby, central England, it fields 6,500 calls per year from around Britain but has almost reached that point so far in 2013 as awareness of the issue grows.
When petrified youngsters ring, “if they don’t know exactly when it may happen or if it’s going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,” said Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana’s operations manager.
“When they go though security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry,” she told AFP.
I guess that is a bright turn on a black horror story of abuse, but for something more disturbing…look at this old advertisement for Cellophane I found on Pinterest:
That is fucked up!
And another WTF story out of Texas: Texas Deputy Sues Woman for ‘Mental Anguish’ After He Kills Her Son-in-Law | Video Cafe
You want a legitimate lawsuit? Sue the stupid asshole parents who won’t vaccinate their kids! Anti-vaxxers: Why parents who don’t vaccinate their kids should be sued or criminally charged. – Slate Magazine
I got that link from a post at LG&M: Upper-Class Twits Put Your Kids At Risk
The world in which 1)Jenny McCarthy can get a highly compensated talk show gig and 2)inequality is increasing leads to some grim results:
Why is anti-vaccination sentiment associated with the economic elite? Alex Seitz-Wald examines the question in Salon, in light of an uptick in parents refusing to vaccinate their kids.* But not just any parents. As Seitz-Wald explains, the unvaccinated kids are clustered in some of the wealthiest schools and neighborhoods, particularly in California, where some extremely expensive private schools have vaccination compliance rates as low as 20 percent. Anti-vaccination sentiment has been stereotyped as a mindless lefty cause, but in reality, Republicans are slightly more likely to oppose vaccination than Democrats. The real correlation is between having a lot of money and class privilege and opposing vaccination.
And, yes, I’m a big fan of making anti-vaxxer cranks legally liable for the injuries they inflict on others, although I’d definitely favor civil rather than criminal remedies.
I don’t know, by sister-in-law is an anti-vaxxer and she is a far left-la-leches-legue-natzi…who lives in the college town around Cornell. These crazy nuts are putting other children at risk…they should be held legally liable. And the government should do more to get these kids vaccinated…if it means fines or some kind of other actions taken against the parents/guardians.
So…since we are on the topic of diseases…How about a story of death caused by disease? ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mystery May Have Been Solved At Last, Scientists Say
And say, do you want more stories on dead people?
Was that a large wooden badger?
A badger has reportedly proved to be a talented archaeologist after helping to discover the tombs of two medieval lords in Germany.
The 12th century burial site, which has been hailed as a “significant find” contains a sword, bronze bowls, a belt buckle and skeletal remains of two Slavic lords, according to Germany’s Der Spiegel Online.
The animal had made its underground home on a farm in the town of Stolpe in the eastern state of Brandenburg.
Two sculptors who also happen to be hobby archaeologists Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring, live on the farm and had planned to exhibit their art near the badger’s sett.
The pair were made aware of the artefacts when they found a human pelvic bone that had been dug up, prompting them to place a camera into the badger’s sett. Photographs taken with the device revealed pieces of jewellery, which the two then retrieved before notifying authorities.
Commenting on the discovery, Ring told the website,“It wasn’t exactly surprising to us because a whole field of ancient graves had been found on the other side of the road in the 1960s.”
More at the link.
Another story about an ancient grave…well not really ancient, just real old: New study reveals final days of a child, 800 years ago | Human World | EarthSky
The researchers examined burial soil, at spots where the child’s major organs would have been situated, to understand the child’s final days.
In medieval Denmark, a pre-teen child passed away, and was buried in the town of Ribe. Eight hundred years later, chemists have learned more about this child’s final days by analyzing soil samples in burial remains. Their research uncovered evidence that the child had been seriously ill and received a large dose of medicine in the form of mercury, in a desperate attempt to save his or her life.
Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen, a chemist at the University of Southern Denmark, and his colleagues, reported on a novel technique to detect non-local chemical traces in ancient graves that could shed light on the final days of a long-deceased person. They published their findings about the Ribe child in the journal Heritage Science and announced the results in an August 9, 2013 press release, in which Rasmussen said:
I cannot say which diseases the child had contracted. But I can say that it was exposed to a large dose of mercury a couple of months before its death and again a day or two prior to death. You can imagine what happened: that the family for a while tried to cure the child with mercury containing medicine which may or may not have worked, but that the child’s condition suddenly worsened and that it was administered a large dose of mercury which was, however, not able to save its life.
Mercury, which is rarely found naturally in soil, is of particular interest to Rasmussen. It was used in some ancient cultures for various purposes, including medicine. While it’s possible to analyze ancient bones for the presence of mercury, bones only provide evidence of exposure for three to 10 years before death.
Organs, however, hold on to mercury over shorter intervals; in the lungs, for instance, mercury is excreted quickly. Rasmussen and his team were able to determine the amounts of mercury in the soil where major organs would have been situated. In that way, they could determine how long before death, on a timescale of days, the dose had been administered.
There is more detailed explanations at the link above.
And a link on searching for dead ancestors: Digging Up Family Roots in Sicily by Russell Shorto
As a writer I’ve always tended to seek out origins. My first book, about the search for the historical Jesus, was an attempt to get at the “real” story behind my Catholic upbringing. After living in Manhattan for several years, I wrote “The Island at the Center of the World,” a book about the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, the seed from which New York City grew.Recently I began considering my family. Among its manifold curiosities is our last name. People always ask me about the derivation of “Shorto.” The story I’d heard as a child was that after my illiterate Sicilian great-grandparents settled in my hometown of Johnstown, Pa., they enrolled their children in school and said the name aloud: Sciotto. And the administrator wrote it as he or she heard it.
Anecdotes like that were good enough before, but once I began to take a serious interest in my roots they felt soft. I wanted a better sense of who we were and where we had come from. I’d grown up with some of the atmosphere of the Old Country — the primal aroma of frying meatballs, the smothering embraces of old relatives, whispers of Mafia shenanigans, funny traditions like taping a silver dollar to the bellybutton of a newborn. But really it was an American childhood. There was almost no information about how it all began, about the generation that had emigrated at the start of the 20th century. It wasn’t even clear where in Sicily the family hailed from.
It is better than your usually travel piece. Take a look at it.
One last link for you, about that Greek Island we talk about so often: 9 top Greek islands I’m thinking Koufonisia or Naxos….
Today I am making the spaghetti sauce with meatballs, about 10 pounds of meatballs and a whole bunch of sauce too, so I will be very busy most of the afternoon. Anyway…one last dark image before I go.
I will end this with a picture of Mae West dressed as a bat…found this image on Pinterest.
What a dame!
Have a dark day, full of darkness! Post a comment if you have the inclination to do so…I think I need a vacation. See y’all later, Ciao!