Monday Reads: Democracy Vanquished

Good Morning!

1f4eac68289b0a3409fa3306c470147aWell, Republicans feel empowered to up the crazy so they are certainly doing it.  Boehner will be challenged by two of the more insane teabillies.  Insane teabilly number one challenging Boehner for speaker is Texas Republican Louis Gohmert.  Florida nutter Ted Yoho has also said he can’t support Boehner.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) on Saturday announced that he would not support Boehner for Speaker.

“This is not a personal attack against Mr. Boehner, however, the people desire and deserve a choice,” Yoho said in a Facebook post. “In November, they resoundingly rejected the status quo.”

“Eventually, the goal is second, third, fourth round, we have enough people that say ‘you know what, it really is time for a change,’ ” Gohmert said Sunday. “’You deceived us when you went to Obama and Pelosi to get your votes for the cromnibus. You said you’d fight amnesty tooth an nail. You didn’t, you funded it.’ ”

Gohmert said, if elected, he would ”fight amnesty tooth and nail. We’ll use the powers of the purse. We’ll have better oversight. We’ll fight to defund ObamaCare.”

“In 2010, Boehner and other leaders said if you put us in the majority, we will have time to read the bills,” Gohmert said. “That hasn’t happened. We saw that with the cromnibus, again.”

“We’ll get back to appropriating and we will go through regular committee process, so every representative from both parties will have a chance to participate in the process and not have a dictator running things,” he added.

“With a growing Republican majority in the House and a historically high number of liberty-voting fiscal conservatives within it, there is an urgent need replace Speaker Boehner with fresh, bold leadership that better represents the views of the whole caucus,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement on Sunday.

“Speaker Boehner has kicked fiscal conservatives off committee positions for voting against his wishes, caved on numerous massive spending bills at the eleventh hour, and abused the legislative process to stomp out opposition by holding surprise votes and giving members little time to actually read the bills before they vote,” Kibbe added.

These are just two of the states that send representative after representative that really wants to destroy the country’s economy, not being satisfied with having their own crazy ass issues in their own crazy ass states.  Every time I think Louisiana hitsea808108a85f54e3d7cd2a136d3a7630 the low in politics, Texas and Florida always step up to take the title of bottom feeders away.

Utah seems out to prove a point these days as a black Republican woman seems to think that everything is just hunky-dory with Steve Scalise chatting up virulently anti-Semitic white supremacists.  It is going to be an awful few years.

Incoming Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) on Sunday said that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) should remain in Republican leadership despite recent reports that he spoke at an event for a white nationalist group in 2002.

“These groups are awful. And the last thing I want to do is give them any sort of publicity or credibility, and I can say, as far as I’m concerned, with Representative Scalise, he has been absolutely wonderful to work with,” Love said on ABC’s “This Week.”

When asked if Scalise should remain as GOP whip, Love indicated that his apology was enough.

“There’s one quality that he has that I think is very important in leadership and that’s humility. And he’s actually shown that in this case. And he’s apologized, and I think that we need to move on and get the work of the American people done,” she said.

As you can see, Love didn’t specify what “people” she and others were going to work for but then we know it’s pretty obviously going to be a few rich white christians who can’t seem to get past the Civil War and modern science and economics.

1aee802fea74274d99f1422520e26f7fHowever, it seems even some folks at Fox News find Scalise’s story and apology to be outrageous. Greta Van Susteran joins Hannity in calling for Scalise’s resignation.

It’s rare for a Fox News employee to openly call out a Republican, but when it happens, it’s epic. And that’s exactly what Greta Van Susteran did on Sunday when she slammed GOP Rep. Steve Scalise.

During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Van Susteran called out Scalise for not having the “moral courage” to resign after it was revealed that the Louisiana congressman had been the keynote speaker at a white supremacist convention in 2002. Scalise agreed to be the guest of honor after KKK Grand Wizard David Duke reached out to him through aides.

In response, Scalise feigned ignorance, claiming that he had no idea to whom he was speaking to at the event even though the convention was widely covered by local media because it was so controversial. Many Republicans, including Steve King and John Boehner, stood by Scalise. So far, he has refused to resign his post as House Majority Whip, and will be the third most powerful Republican in the House when the new Congress convenes this month. And this might make the KKK very happy.

But Van Susteran completely disagreed with the way Scalise and the Republican Party handled the damning revelations and not only skewered Scalise for being a coward, she also blasted the GOP for dropping the ball in their effort to appeal to minority voters ahead of 2016.

What’s amazing to me is that Democrats captured 20 million more votes in the 2014 election and still lost. What kind of democracy causes that?  Why are Republican votes more valuable?9a519249ef3848d9bcd6f9fe0e7f6542

This one was shocking. It does not matter how one cuts it. The United States constitution is severely flawed when more often than not in the last few elections the majority of people voting  for a particular party did not receive their relative representation. Democrats received 20 million more votes in the Senate than Republicans in 2014, yet Republicans won big.

The same occurred in the House of Representatives in 2012.

House Democrats out-earned their Republican counterparts by 1.17 million votes. Read another way, Democrats won 50.59 percent of the two-party vote. Still, they won just 46.21 percent of seats, leaving the Republicans with 234 seats and Democrats with 201.

There is nothing illegal here. There is simply a very designed undemocratic flaw in the US Constitution that must be fixed lest the legislative branch of the American government will continue to be disassociated from the real wants of society.

Fairvote.org reported the following relative to the 2014 Senate race.

As a body designed to represent states rather than citizens, the Senate’s partisan makeup tends to bear a fairly loose relationship to the raw numbers of votes that were cast to elect its members. With the final election results in hand, let’s take a look at how votes cast for Senate candidates translate to seats in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

In all, Americans cast 202.5 million votes to elect the current Senate, spread across three election cycles in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Of these, 49% were cast for Democratic candidates and 46.6% for Republicans. …

In the aggregate, Democratic voters are underrepresented in the Senate and Republican voters are overrepresented compared to their respective strengths in the electorate, although Democrats outperformed their raw vote totals in two of the past four individual elections.

As for the 46 Democratic caucus members in the 114th Congress received a total of 67.8 million votes in winning their seats, while the 54 Republican caucus members received 47.1 million votes.

It’s going to be hard for Democrats to regain the Senate even though far more people vote for Democratic Senators than Republicans.  That’s because Republicans still get two senators from states that have less people than any of the country’sc6babad8a711245aac68f701ef29e705largest cities.

On Tuesday, 33 US senators elected in November will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden — including 12 who are new to the chamber. The class includes 22 Republicans and 11 Democrats, a big reason why the GOP has a 54-46 majority in the Senate overall.

But here’s a crazy fact: those 46 Democrats got more votes than the 54 Republicans across the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections. According to Nathan Nicholson, a researcher at the voting reform advocacy group FairVote, “the 46 Democratic caucus members in the 114th Congress received a total of 67.8 million votes in winning their seats, while the 54 Republican caucus members received 47.1 million votes.”

There is something definitely wrong with the outcomes in governance, given that our ruling class appears to be severely crazy and greedy. For one, they make everyone believe that our money is spent on public welfare when it’s definitely corporate welfare that steals tax dollars. Robert Reich explains their priorities very well.

Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They’re wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

 Consider the new spending bill Congress and the President agreed to a few weeks ago.

It’s not especially large by historic standards. Under the $1.1 trillion measure, government spending doesn’t rise as a percent of the total economy. In fact, if the economy grows as expected, government spending will actually shrink over the next year.

The problem with the legislation is who gets the goodies and who’s stuck with the tab.

For example, it repeals part of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to stop Wall Street from using other peoples’ money to support its gambling addiction, as the Street did before the near-meltdown of 2008.

Dodd-Frank had barred banks from using commercial deposits that belong to you and me and other people, and which are insured by the government, to make the kind of risky bets that got the Street into trouble and forced taxpayers to bail it out.

But Dodd-Frank put a crimp on Wall Street’s profits. So the Street’s lobbyists have been pushing to roll it back.

The new legislation, incorporating language drafted by lobbyists for Wall Street’s biggest bank, Citigroup, does just this.

It reopens the casino. This increases the likelihood you and I and other taxpayers will once again be left holding the bag.

Wall Street isn’t the only big winner from the new legislation. Health insurance companies get to keep their special tax breaks. Tourist destinations like Las Vegas get their travel promotion subsidies.

In a victory for food companies, the legislation even makes federally subsidized school lunches less healthy by allowing companies that provide them to include fewer whole grains. This boosts their profits because junkier food is less expensive to make.

Major defense contractors also win big. They get tens of billions of dollars for the new warplanes, missiles, and submarines they’ve been lobbying for.

Conservatives like to portray government as a welfare machine doling out benefits to the poor, some of whom are too lazy to work.

In reality, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, only about 12 percent of federal spending goes to individuals and families, most of whom are in dire need.

6af01fad000784c83d09f84034c40072 In a critique of Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty First Century” at Project Syndicate, Joseph Stiglitz explains how are productive capital gets sucked into speculative, financial capital and asset bubbles.  This is something I’ve been writing about for years here.  This section of his critique is particularly compelling.

Piketty also sheds new light on the “reforms” sold by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s as growth enhancers from which all would benefit. Their reforms were followed by slower growth and heightened global instability, and what growth did occur benefited mostly those at the top.

But Piketty’s work raises fundamental issues concerning both economic theory and the future of capitalism. He documents large increases in the wealth/output ratio. In standard theory, such increases would be associated with a fall in the return to capital and an increase in wages. But today the return to capital does not seem to have diminished, though wages have. (In the US, for example, average wages have stagnated over the past four decades.)

The most obvious explanation is that the increase in measured wealth does not correspond to an increase in productive capital – and the data seem consistent with this interpretation. Much of the increase in wealth stemmed from an increase in the value of real estate. Before the 2008 financial crisis, a real-estate bubble was evident in many countries; even now, there may not have been a full “correction.” The rise in value also can represent competition among the rich for “positional” goods – a house on the beach or an apartment on New York City’s Fifth Avenue.

Sometimes an increase in measured financial wealth corresponds to little more than a shift from “unmeasured” wealth to measured wealth – shifts that can actually reflect deterioration in overall economic performance. If monopoly power increases, or firms (like banks) develop better methods of exploiting ordinary consumers, it will show up as higher profits and, when capitalized, as an increase in financial wealth.

But when this happens, of course, societal wellbeing and economic efficiency fall, even as officially measured wealth rises. We simply do not take into account the corresponding diminution of the value of human capital – the wealth of workers.

Moreover, if banks succeed in using their political influence to socialize losses and retain more and more of their ill-gotten gains, the measured wealth in the financial sector increases. We do not measure the corresponding diminution of taxpayers’ wealth. Likewise, if corporations convince the government to overpay for their products (as the major drug companies have succeeded in doing), or are given access to public resources at below-market prices (as mining companies have succeeded in doing), reported financial wealth increases, though the wealth of ordinary citizens does not.

What we have been observing – wage stagnation and rising inequality, even as wealth increases – does not reflect the workings of a normal market economy, but of what I call “ersatz capitalism.” The problem may not be with how markets should or do work, but with our political system, which has failed to ensure that markets are competitive, and has designed rules that sustain distorted markets in which corporations and the rich can (and unfortunately do) exploit everyone else.

Markets, of course, do not exist in a vacuum. There have to be rules of the game, and these are established through political processes. High levels of economic inequality in countries like the US and, increasingly, those that have followed its economic model, lead to political inequality. In such a system, opportunities for economic advancement become unequal as well, reinforcing low levels of social mobility.

There are more warnings each year that we’ve traded our democracy for a plutocracy and that many of the folks that fall for these mistaken memes are the worst hurt by the changes.  I’m never sure what we should do about it, but at least on social media there are many of us who can realize what’s going on and share our observations and discontent.

So this is the situation, we’re being ruled by a minority, extremist party that has managed to gerrymander its way into to controlling Congress and can have over-representation in the Senate by its very design.  Since the Reagan years, they have managed to coalesce into a party of business interests, neoconfederates, and religious extremists. As a result, we have laws and programs that enrich the wealthiest at the cost of the rest of us.  We have institutions where racism and sexism have been allowed to fester and where Supreme Court justices have allowed their ideology to trump the constitution and previous law to further the oppression of minorities–with the exception of the LGBT community, where some strides have been made. Undoubtedly, this has happened because some of the biggest business interests want it, not from any desire to do the right thing by the people.  We’ve used a fake war to extend a police state where we’re all subjected to law enforcement officers that are out of control and institutionally encouraged to be so.

I have to say the challenges are huge.  I’m just hoping that the dog and pony show that will start with this new Congress will scare the shit out of people.  Given, some of this background information however, I doubt there’s much we can do about it short of a major increase in voter participation or a revolution.  The fact that so many really poorly governed states have re-elected their Republicans and continue to suffer shows me that it’s not going to be over anytime soon.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Nite Lite: New Year 2015, Lawd Help Us!

Good Late Evening

It is late…real late.

Some of these are not funny at all. Like this one:

New Year by Political Cartoonist Steve Kelley

158152 600 New Year cartoons

 

These are the rest…

New Year 2015 Cartoons

158138 600 New Year Politics cartoons

 

2015 Prediction by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

158070 600 2015 Prediction cartoons

 

Race Relations by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

158069 600 Race Relations cartoons

 

New Year’s predictions by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

157993 600 New Years predictions cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 01/02/2015

Cartoon by John Cole -

 

Republicans Won. Now What? by Jason Stanford

158088 600 Republicans Won. Now What? cartoons

 

Mario Cuomo 1932 2015 by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

158156 600 Mario Cuomo 1932 2015 cartoons

 

Popes by Political Cartoonist Randall Enos

158097 600 Popes cartoons

 

Losing Weight – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 01/02/2015

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Losing Weight

 

Top Ten by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

158107 600 Top Ten cartoons

 

That one above is awesome!

 

Toga Party by Political Cartoonist Mike Luckovich

158150 600 Toga Party cartoons

 

But I end with an even better one…

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Baby New Year

cd523d547135476468d61288ebcb9177Good Morning

The last day of the year! Oh hell yeah…I thought this day would never come…

Again, computer issues cause me to make this is link dump of a post, but bear with me, because I hope to get this laptop situation resolved in a few days.

Baby pictures for this morning’s thread will be found here:

Pinterest-Vintage Children

The links are in no particular order or sequence so take them as they are.

Remains May Be Irish Children Who Died in Wreck of Coffin Ship – Archaeology Magazine

Human bones eroded and recovered from a beach on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula have been described as three European children suffering from malnutrition. Parks Canada archaeologists think the children may have died in the 1847 wreck of the Carricks, a ship carrying immigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland. An estimated 100 bodies washed ashore after the ship sank in a violent storm and were buried in a mass grave thought to be located in the area where the bones were found.

Belize’s Blue Hole Yields Evidence of Drought in Maya World – Archaeology Magazine

New evidence from Belize’s Great Blue Hole strengthens the case that drought contributed to the collapse of Maya civilization. f3cb2e1597d9d4ebedebbe5ce8663ff9Earth scientist André Droxler of Rice University and his team drilled cores from the sediments of the Great Blue Hole, located near the center of Lighthouse Reef. “It’s like a big bucket. It’s a sediment trap,” Droxler told Live Science. The team also collected samples from Romboid Reef and analyzed their chemical composition, especially the ratio of titanium to aluminum. When rain is plentiful, titanium from volcanic rocks in the region is swept into streams and carried to the ocean. Low levels of titanium to aluminum suggest a period with less rainfall. Droxler’s team found that between A.D. 800 and 1000, when Maya ebd758f8379a064a9216329805dc43f1civilization collapsed, there were only one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, rather than the usual five or six big storms. According to the new results, another major drought struck between 1000 and 1100, about the time of the fall of Chichen Itza.

Treasure hunters say they found ‘Holy Grail’ of Great Lakes shipwrecks in Michigan

Two treasure hunters are going public with their claim that they found the ruins of a legendary 335-year-old shipwreck in Lake Michigan, WZZM-TV reported.

33a332a5a950d87cd7d105ab8e1e4a86“We were literally in the water for a couple of hours when we got a hit on the sonar,” Kevin Dykstra said of his discovery of Le Griffon, a French vessel built by explorer René-Robert Cavelier, also known as Robert de La Salle.

Dykstra said that he and his partner, Frederick Monroe, came upon the wreckage during a 2011 expedition, but waited three years to consult with experts before identifying the ship as Le Griffon.

Cavelier built the ship as part of his efforts to discover the Northwest Passage. Le Griffon, named after the mythical half-lion, half-eagle, vanished in 1679 while traveling to Niagara, New York from Wisconsin. Dykstra said he and Monroe photographed cannons found in the wreckage in Lake Michigan, as well as a carved structure of a griffin.

Woodcut of La Salle's 'Le Griffon,' 1697 [Wikipedia Commons]

“If you take the picture of the carving of the griffon and overlay it on what these gentlemen have, it’s very compelling,” 57341f3526bbfb5ddaca9933d0d6760bWreck Diving Magazine publisher Joe Porter told WXMI-TV. “It’s the Holy Grail of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes.”

Dykstra said they stumbled upon the wreckage while searching the lake for $2 million in gold bullion dating back to the late 19th century. That project is still ongoing.

“We found the mystery ship, the Griffin,” Monroe said. “Now we’re going to find the gold.”

ee7b633e38a344a89e30f79c86373297Harvard Law School found in violation of Title IX by Department of Education – CBS News

Harvard Law School repeatedly violated Title IX in its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, federal officials said Tuesday.

As a result the school has “entered into a resolution agreement” with the Department of Education, officials announced in a press release Monday, following an investigation by their Office for Civil Rights.

The DOE said there were two cases in particular that were evidence of a necessary change, including one involving a sexual assault complaint 5d5e0b09cc1ae6449a6b1b3465e86013where “the Law School took over a year to make its final determination and the complainant was not allowed to participate in this extended appeal process, which ultimately resulted in the reversal of the initial decision to dismiss the accused student and dismissal of the complainant’s complaint.”

Tuesday’s announcement and agreement are separate from the investigation into Harvard College, which is facing similar complaints about its sexual harassment and assault policies.

Where Does Ebola Come From? – Scientific American

06e5fef5a7fd390d98c329c173d37d80The hollow Cola tree growing in a remote area of southeastern Guinea was once home to thousands of bats routinely hunted and killed by the neighborhood children. It was also a popular spot to play. A year ago, one child in particular lived within fifty meters of the tree: a two-year-old boy who died in December 2013 and later was identified as the first person in west Africa known to have developed Ebola. The tree was one of the few that loomed over his home village of Meliandou, a hamlet of 31 houses. The question that now haunts researchers: were the tree’s occupants behind how that small boy contracted the virus in the first place?

Perhaps you will find the answer at the link?

Groups of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men keep delaying flights by refusing to sit next to women – World – News – The Independent

46b29df5672e935f98e8558c226fa262A flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed by half an hour last week after a group of male ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, the third such incident in recent months.

The cabin crew on the Delta flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport tried to find seats for the men, but were met with refusal by other passengers, some of whom who took a dim view of the reasoning behind the request.

The incident took place on Delta flight 468 on 20 December, the Israeli publication The Times of Israel reports. An American passenger ultimately switched seats with the men.

fc14b70b466ee948f0c5568f970d1ba8This is the third widely reported incident in the last few months in which ultra-Orthodox Jewish men have delayed a flight by asking to be segregated from women.

How a weirdo city became just like everywhere else | Grist

I lived in Asheville, N.C., in the early 2000s, about the same time Rolling Stone named it the “New Freak Capital of the U.S.” There were a lot of freaks back then, with train-hoppers and burnouts sleeping in Pritchard Park and the highest population of dreadlocked didgeridoo players east of San Francisco. There were also tourists, especially in fall when hoards of leaf peepers arrived, but most of the year you were more likely to see panhandling gutter punks than pomeranians in handbags. Not anymore. 99089ea5c1a9de94bea1a4136ead11a8Even though Asheville’s reputation as weird persists, it’s not really where Dead Heads go to die these days; it’s where yuppies go to eat.

Asheville’s reputation as a foodie destination has grown immensely over the past decade, and with it, the cost of living, with average rent rising 22 percent from 2004 to 2012 while wages stagnated. Artists and hippies might have ushered in the next wave of gentrification, but the golden age ended when the condos went up.

074808ad5319824771fa8a7e2d4eabf71 in 3 People With Type 1 Diabetes Still Produce Insulin, Study Says – US News

Although it’s widely accepted that people with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin, a new study suggests otherwise: Roughly one-third produce the hormone long after they are diagnosed.

75aab0c316549c00735041e844bcff69Residual insulin production can last for more than four decades, researchers reported recently in the journal Diabetes Care. Their findings could help avoid the misdiagnosis of type 1 diabetes as the more common type 2 diabetes and improve treatments for blood sugar control, they suggested.

“Other studies have shown that some type 1 diabetes patients who have lived with the disease for many years continue to secrete insulin, and the assumption has been that these patients are exceptional,”23292debedabf3a324a3cce3236ddbb1 said study senior author Dr. Carla Greenbaum, director of T1D Exchange Biobank Operations Center, a repository of type 1 diabetes biological samples, in Seattle.

“For the first time, we can definitively say that these patients are a true subset of the type 1 diabetes population, which has major clinical and health policy implications,” she said in a journal news release.

Worldwide, about 35 million people have type 1 diabetes, the researchers said. The autoimmune disease causes the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which means patients must take insulin injections or use an insulin pump.

How economic insecurity impacts diabetes control among patients — ScienceDaily

b844839cd2bc11a1ce89fbe26866bfadDifficulty paying for food and medications appears to be associated with poor diabetes control among patients in a study that examined the impact of economic insecurity on managing the disease and the use of health care resources, according to a report published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Increased access to health insurance offered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may not improve diabetes control among low-income patients because of social determinants of health, which are outside the scope of medical practice, such as difficulty paying for food, medications, housing or utilities (material need insecurities), according to the study background.

275e6acc5b6626450e64ab0ed90e2b53Seth A. Berkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and coauthors sought to determine the association between material need insecurities and diabetes control and the use of health care resources. Their study of 411 patients included data from June 2012 through October 2013 collected at a primary care clinic, two community health centers and a specialty treatment center for diabetes in Massachusetts.

The study found that, overall, 19.1 percent of patients reported food insecurity; 27.6 percent cited cost-related medication underuse; 10.7 percent had housing instability; 1cec4993062ecff05f5374e1a212f4d614.1 percent had trouble paying for utilities (energy insecurity); and 39.1 percent of patients reported at least one material need insecurity. Poor diabetes control (as measured by factors including hemoglobin A1c, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level or blood pressure) was seen in 46 percent of patients.

According to the study results, food insecurity was associated with greater odds of poor diabetes control and increased outpatient visits but not increased emergency department(ED)/inpatient visits. Cost-related medication underuse was associated with poor diabetes control and increased ED/inpatient visits but not outpatient visits. Housing instability and energy (utilities) insecurity were associated with increased outpatient visits but not with diabetes control or with ED/outpatient visits. Having an increasing number of economic insecurities was associated with poor diabetes control and increased health care use.

Bill Cosby hired private investigators to investigate women who claimed comedian raped them – News – People – The Independent

d7511dcaab1f3cb6732ed77b0cd0ff3aBill Cosby hired private investigators to “dig up dirt” on several women who claimed the comedian had raped them, according to a report by the New York Post. More than two dozen women have come forward in recent weeks to allege that Mr Cosby, 77, drugged and sexually assaulted them between the 1960s and 2000s.

But Mr Cosby has reportedly been fighting back behind the scenes, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to scour the women’s pasts in a bid to discredit his accusers. At a recent meeting of his legal and public relations representatives, an insider told the Post, Mr Cosby said: “If you’re going to say to the world that I did this to you, then the world needs to know, ‘What kind of person are you? Who is this person that’s saying it?’”

The Financial Consequences of Saying ‘Black,’ vs. ‘African American’ – The Atlantic

30780873ba8c5a7b7b349e7e38cb40bdOne hundred years ago, “Colored” was the typical way of referring to Americans of African descent. Twenty years later, in the time of W.E.B. Du Bois, it was purposefully dropped to make way for “Negro.” By the late 1960s, that term was overtaken by “Black.” And then, at a press conference in a Hyatt hotel in Chicago in 1988, Jesse Jackson declared that “African American” was the term to embrace; that one was chosen because it echoed the labels of groups, such as “Italian Americans” and “Irish Americans,” that had already been freed of widespread discrimination.

A century’s worth of calculated name changes are a testament to the fact that naming any group is a politically freighted exercise.0c93a3333b4b0e47237a0f577e18b6d6A 2001 study catalogued all the ways in which the term “Black” carried connotations that were more negative than those of “African American.” This is troubling on the level of an individual’s decision making, and these labels are also institutionalized: Only last month, the U.S. Army finally stopped permitting use of the term “Negro” in its official documents, and the American Psychological Association currently says “African American” and “Black” can be used interchangeably in academic writing.

But if it was known that “Black” people were viewed differently from “African Americans,” researchers, until now, hadn’t identified what that gap in perception was derived from. A study, to be published next month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that “Black” people are viewed more negatively than “African Americans” because of a perceived difference in socioeconomic status. As a result, “Black” people are thought of as less competent and as having colder personalities.

 If the NYPD treats the mayor this bad in public, imagine what they do to black men when no one is looking | theGrio

f8057d382e5ef6e62ec61a5f73b4a713Let’s talk about the police, specifically the NYPD.  New York’s finest have not been acting so fine in recent days, disrespecting Mayor Bill de Blasio and residents of the Big Apple in the process.

Now, if the police will openly defy and disrespect their boss and commander in public, can you imagine what they do to black men when the cameras are nowhere in sight?

Drunk Birds Sing Drunkenly, Science Says

A new study has found that when you get zebra finches totally wasted, they become noticeably worse at singing. They probably think they sound awesome, though. 47ae99afb6787624dca355a14d5860ccThen they probably want to fly somewhere to get little bird-sized burritos before crying into a bird-sized phone to some ex-birdfriend, before spending the rest of the night with their heads in a bird-sized toilet.

This foray into Important Science Breakthroughs comes to us from the Oregon Health and Science University, where researchers put some alcohol-laden juice into the water tanks of their zebra finch subjects as part of a study on how alcohol affects speech.

“At first we were thinking that they wouldn’t drink on their own because, you know, a lot of animals just won’t touch the stuff,” lead researcher Christopher Olson told NPR. “But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it.”98325330e80b9c7d8ea256d9329acb62

The resulting study—which you can read here—found that drunk zebra finches sing with an “altered acoustic structure”, most noticeably “decreased amplitude and increased entropy, the latter likely reflecting a disruption in the birds’ ability to maintain the spectral structure of song under alcohol.” (Translation: Drunk birds don’t sing good.)

Argentina President Adopts Boy No Werewolf – Business Insider

So here’s the latest in wild internet rumors.

Everyone thinks that the President of Argentina Christina Fernández de 89b22f659eb4c352b232ddac94c0c6a7Kirchner adopted a young Jewish man in order to stop him from turning into a werewolf. The story was reported by The Independent and others.

Well, the story’s kind of true — Fernández de Kirchner did adopt the young man as her godson — but not to keep him from turning into a werewolf.

There’s an old Argentinian legend that a seventh child will turn into “el lobizon” — aka a werewolf — after his 13th birthday, and then terrorize the Argentinian countryside at night whenever there’s a full moon, as reported by the Independent. In the 19th century, parents were reportedly so spooked by “el lobizon” that they started abandoning and murdering their 7th children.6afe0163aaa69af50857cd04ceb96c16

Around the same time, in the early 20th century, another tradition involving a seventh child came to be. Argentinian presidents started adopting the seventh child born in a family as godchildren.

Seriously…werewolf children?

Over the last few days, sources have been reporting that this Argentinian custom was adopted as a response to the murder and abandonment of these “el lobizon” children.

5a8673aca2f3444ec3df0f8435f048beHowever, others like the Guardian are debunking this. Reportedly, the godchild custom goes back all the way to 1907 when Russian emigrés asked the then-president José Figueroa Alcorta to become the godfather to their seventh son, reports the Guardian.

“The local myth of the lobizón is not in any way connected to the custom that began over 100 years ago by which every seventh son (or seventh daughter) born in Argentina becomes godchild to the president,” Argentine historian Daniel Balmaceda told The Guardian.

Brazilian woman and her baby 1855

Brazilian woman and her baby 1855

So what exactly what special about Iair Tawil’s case? Traditionally, the seventh son or daughter could only become a godchild of the Argentinian president if he or she was Christian. But Tawil was the first Jewish young man to do so — making it a tweet-worthy affair.

Fernández has become the president godmother to roughly 700 children since she took office in 2007, reports The Guardian.

From Diana To Danvers: What Can We Expect From The New Female-Led Comic Movies? | The Mary Sue

It’s the dawning of the age of the superheroine. With comics like the new Ms. Marvel, starring the kick-ass Kamala Khan, making bold and potent statements, it’s not surprising that the movie moguls are taking notice. 6d4f4989b1ec4d9ce34b279ab18de547Shortly after the Wonder Woman movie was chalked up on DC’s slate for a 2017 release, Captain Marvel was announced for the following year. Both, it seemed, had been waiting for the other to step out onto the dance floor. Whispers of a potential Captain Marvel movie had been floating around since late 2013, so there’s a whiff of DC exploiting the sudden surge of demand for a female-led superhero movie; but, politics aside, bright days are ahead for comic book heroines and their fans.

fde90f79750be9e11fa1188c42c187c4Despite being a little later than DC in announcing their first female lead since the bland Elektra, Marvel have given themselves a 1-up by taking another of their infamous risks. Right now, it’s hard to imagine even a margin of risk existed, with many converting to Captain Marvel comics in the wake of the movie announcement, her new series penned by Kelly Sue DeConnick  proving popular with fans and critics, and action figures of Carol Danvers’ alter-ego already on the shelves. There’s a feeling that, if played by the right person (ahem, Katee Sackhoff [Editor’s Note: Correct.]), the character will do just fine on her own merit. Especially since, if Danvers’ movie is given the same TLC as Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s already set to be a rollicking spectacle.

One of the last living classic movie greats passed from the earth a couple of days ago: Luise Rainer Dead At 104 – First Back-To Back Oscar Winner | Deadline

luise rainerThe German-born star of The Great Ziegfeld and The Good Earth, Luise Rainer, died Tuesday at her home in London. She was 104. The Associated Press reports that Rainer’s daughter Francesca Knittel-Bowyer said the Oscar winner succumbed to pneumonia. Rainer won consecutive Oscars for both 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld and 1937’s The Good Earth, becoming the first actor ever to do so.0a7efda04b1a04931847d38d13644146

Rainer was born in 1910 and was discovered by MGM in the mid-30s after appearing in some German and Austrian films. Her first Hollywood role was in 1935’s Escapade with William Powell. The next year, she appeared again opposite Powell, and Myrna Loy, in Robert Z. Leonard’s The Great Ziegfeld. A relatively small role, it nevertheless earned her the Best Actress Oscar, notably for a scene in which she tearfully congratulates her ex-husband on his new marriage. Dubbed “the Viennese Teardrop,” she went on to play O-Lan in the adaptation of Pearl S Buck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Good Earth. She again won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance.

61a281b76b484bcc056e7af02c32703aTCM is showing the - Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival (2011) –  with Rainer on January 12th at 7:30pm, it is a great interview…she gives up some dirt on various actors and directors and Hollywood folks…I loved what she says about Paul Muni. Be sure to give it a look see.

Hope everyone enjoys their From Hoppin’ John to ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ how the world will welcome 2015 | Al Jazeera America

south africa, Native Young Boy or Girl. 1940'sAnd since this post has been illustrated with vintage baby pictures, take a look at these: Destined for Greatness: Baby Pictures of Famous Authors – Flavorwire

Attention book nerds: if you want to see Ernest Hemingway in a dress, look no further. Sure, he’s probably less than a year old and outfitted in his christening garb, but still: Ernest Hemingway in a dress. As you probably know, here at Flavorwire we’re huge literary geeks, and therefore obsessed with all things relating to our favorite authors, be them large or small — and in this case, they’re pretty small. The authors, that is.

Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor

We’ve collected a series of pictures from the early childhoods of some of our favorite writers, so that we might see the cute and cuddly origins of the literary canon we’ve all come to know and love. Some are instantly recognizable (Patti Smith’s impish grin) and some charmingly apropos (Flannery O’Connor scowling at her picture book) but all of them give us a little peek into the young lives of some of our favorite figures. Click through to see literary luminaries like Plath, Hemingway, Nabokov, Salinger, Joyce and many more when they were still innocent babes, and let us know if you have any other famous authors’ baby pictures to share!

Have a safe night tonight…Happy New Year.


Sunday Reads: Lost Again

Good morning

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Well another commercial aircraft has gone missing in the area of Indonesia. This time it is an Air Asia flight: [Updated statement] QZ8501

https://m.facebook.com/notes/airasia/updated-statement-qz8501/10152667884908742

AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 (Surabaya LT) this morning. The flight took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at 0535hours.

The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer on board.

The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours

There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew.

And if that was not enough, a ferry with over 400 passengers is also in trouble: Norman Atlantic ablaze: Major rescue under way as Greece-Italy ferry evacuated in high winds – Europe – World – The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/norman-atlantic-ablaze-major-rescue-under-way-as-greeceitaly-ferry-evacuated-in-high-winds-9946679.html

An international rescue effort was under way in high winds after a car ferry carrying 466 passengers and crew caught fire while sailing from Greece to Italy and its captain ordered its evacuation.

Passengers who telephoned Greek television stations gave dramatic testimony of conditions on the ship, which caught fire just before 6.00 a.m. local time (04:00 GMT) while travelling from Patras in western Greece to the eastern Italian city of Ancona.

“They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no co-ordination,” one said. “It’s dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching… we opened some boxes and got some life vests, we are trying to save ourselves.”

It was unclear whether there had been any casualties or whether any passengers were in the water, where cold winter temperatures would make survival difficult unless rescue came quickly.

The Norman Atlantic, carrying 222 vehicles, 411 passengers and 55 crew, was 44 nautical miles northwest of the island of Corfu when it sent a distress signal after a fire started in the lower deck, Greek coast guard officials said.

Makes you wonder what other massive transportation disaster will make headlines today…we have the air and sea covered, it will have to occur on land.

Since I am writing this post on my iPhone, the links are short and few.

GOP Figures used racist Ape imagery for Obama before North Korea did | Informed Comment

http://www.juancole.com/2014/12/figures-imagery-before.html

None of the examples should surprise you.

What to read something crazy? New York Police Trace Ismaaiyl Brinsley Gun to Georgia Arrowhead Shop | The New Republic

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120639/new-york-police-trace-ismaaiyl-brinsley-gun-georgia-arrowhead-shop

Investigators have traced the gun Ismaaiyl Brinsley used to kill two New York City police officers and wound his ex-girlfriend to a Georgia strip mall 900 miles away. The Arrowhead pawn shop, which bills itself as a “family-owned business dedicated to good prices, good customer service and good vibes,” as of 2010 was the fifth-largest source of guns used in crimes nationally and the number-one source of out-of-state guns seized by the New York Police Department.

What happened between the time the silver Taurus semiautomatic handgun was purchased in 1996 and Brinsley came across it? We don’t know. Brinsley was barred from owning a gun because he had committed multiple felonies; if he had to complete a background check, he would have failed it. But he never had to complete a background check. Police say the Asian man who bought the gun at Arrowhead later gave it to his cousin, and there have been no traceable purchases since, meaning it exchanged hands in private and illegal deals.

Weak federal laws and disparate state laws enable a black market where felons and domestic abusers can get their hands on guns. Georgia is among many southern states whose lax gun laws effectively supply firearms for criminal activity in states with stricter laws. Some 90 percent of guns traced in New York City crimes come from out-of-state sources. Compare New York’s laws to a state like Georgia, and it’s easy to see why these southern states are known as the Iron Pipeline.

Read more at the link, I suspect it is only going to get worse.

And my last link, because my index finger is getting tired. Yes, I type on my phone with my one finger…

How Humans Spend Their Time

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-humans-spend-their-time-2014-12?

Most human beings get about 75 years of existence.

That’s about 3,900 weeks. Or 27,000 days. Or 648,000 hours.

We spend about a third of those hours sleeping, a number that hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

What has changed is what we do with the remaining time.

As the following two charts show, over the past 150 years, thanks to the irrepressible inventiveness and ingenuity of the human animal, we have engineered a profound shift in what we do with our waking hours.

There are 168 hours in a week. 56 go to sleeping, which leaves 112 for everything else.

150 years ago, we spent about 70 of those 112 waking hours working.

Thanks to the remarkable productivity enhancements we have made over the past 150 years, the average workweek in most countries has dropped by about 30 hours:

Go figure?

Well, whatever you want to call it, I am off to spend my time sleeping.

Think of this as an open thread.

But wait…perhaps this is the third shoe to drop: One dead and 15,000 cars stranded in French Alps as snow sweeps region – Europe – World – The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/one-dead-and-15000-cars-stranded-in-french-alps-as-snow-sweeps-region-9946733.html

You read that right. 15,000 cars stranded. Ooof!


Friday Nite Lite: Cartoons and stuff…a year end round up.

IMG_1878

Sunrise in Banjoville, looking out over the Black Angus farm next door…late December, 2014.

Good Evening

Damn…Damn…Damn.

I wanted to run through the past cartoon post and throw up some of the funnier editorial cartoons from the past year, but my laptop issues are making this little task impossible at the moment.

I shouldn’t complain really, this laptop has gotten a lot of use over the last 5 years…well, almost five years. Yup, on December 2nd I started my fifth year writing for the blog…That is a long-ass time between sunrises.

December 2nd, 2010 mountain morning off our back porch.

December 2nd, 2010 mountain morning off our back porch.

Is that five years? Shit I can’t even count straight anymore.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a kickass holiday. Here are your cartoons for the last Friday Nite Lite of 2014:

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Ross Gosse, Editoons, iNCk. – 12/26/2014

Cartoon by Ross Gosse -

 

Coal Country by Political Cartoonist Mark Streeter

157923 600 Coal Country cartoons

 

Christmas by Political Cartoonist Petar Pismestrovic

157910 600 Christmas cartoons

Coal Bag by Political Cartoonist Cameron Cardow

157821 600 Coal Bag cartoons

 

Holiday carry on bags by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

157776 600 Holiday carry on bags cartoons

 

Mars methane detected by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

157902 600 Mars methane detected cartoons

Another Fence Jumper by Political Cartoonist John Darkow

157894 600 Another Fence Jumper cartoons

Peace On Earth Quit Install by Political Cartoonist R.J. Matson

157893 600 Peace On Earth   Quit   Install cartoons

 

Really Needs a Rewrite by Political Cartoonist Ingrid Rice

157866 600 Really Needs a Rewrite cartoons

CYBER WAR by Political Cartoonist Randy Bish

157847 600 CYBER WAR cartoons

 

Dow Jones by Political Cartoonist Larry Wright

157842 600 Dow Jones cartoons

Three Wise Men by Political Cartoonist Alex Falco

157829 600 Three Wise Men cartoons

Movie Ratings by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

157825 600 Movie Ratings cartoons

God Helps Putin by Political Cartoonist Marian Kamensky

157801 600 God Helps Putin cartoons

Torture Report by Political Cartoonist Jen Sorensen

157798 600 Torture Report cartoons

 

Torture and Cuba by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

157771 600 Torture and Cuba cartoons

Cuba and 1961 by Political Cartoonist Steve Greenberg

157743 600 Cuba and 1961 cartoons

Joe Cocker RIP by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

157805 600 Joe Cocker  RIP cartoons

 

This is an open thread…

 

 


Wednesday Christmas Eve Reads

e6d89d61ea0216c1e6dfa425c695c8ebGood Morning

Merry Christmas!

And all that other stuff…

This is the best I can do today, my computer’s hard disk drive is kaput…so until I can get a new laptop, I’ve got to put these posts together on my phone…or do quickie threads on my mom’s computer.833a0c7bb38742bbefe14cfb3c376562

Anyway, these are your links for this Christmas Wednesday:

First a couple of links that feature some holiday cards, one from Great Britain:

24 Funny Homemade Christmas Cards (PICTURES)

The Christmas jumper and chicken (in Christmas hat)
The pizza delivery guys

You know that one is my favorite!

17 Beautifully Festive African-American Christmas Cards From The 1950s And ’60s

 

A dreamy peppermint inspired dress.

A dreamy peppermint inspired dress.

 

Santa relaxing after a long night of delivering gifts.

Santa relaxing after a long night of delivering gifts.

Of course I pick that last one because: dwarfs.

Now the links…

Elder Former President Bush Is Hospitalized in Houston – NYTimes.com

The elder President George Bush was taken to a Houston hospital Tuesday night after experiencing shortness of breath, a family spokesman said.

Mr. Bush, 90, would be held at least overnight at Houston Methodist Hospital as a precaution, said the spokesman, Jim McGrath. He is expected to be fine, Mr. McGrath said.

The former president spent nearly two months at Houston Methodist — including a week in the intensive care unit — in late 2012 and early 2013 while suffering from a bronchitis-related cough and fever.

Mr. Bush, the oldest living former president (he is about four months older than Jimmy Carter), has a form of Parkinson’s disease and often uses a wheelchair or scooter. He and his wife, Barbara, frequently make public appearances in Houston, and Mr. Bush went sky diving on his 90th birthday in June.

Australia Anti-Terror Police Arrest Two a Week After Sydney Siege – NBC News

Australian counter-terrorism police said on Wednesday they arrested two men in Sydney, eight days after a 16-hour siege in a central city cafe ended with the deaths of two hostages and a gunman with radical Islamist sympathies. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said on Tuesday that security officials intercepted a heightened level of “terrorist chatter” in the aftermath of the Sydney cafe siege, but there were no specific threats of attacks.

A 20-year-old man was charged with being in possession of documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack and a 21-year-old was charged with breaching a control order, police said. The documents had mentioned potential government targets but were not directed at the prime minister, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told a media conference in Sydney. Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, is on high alert for attacks by sympathizers of the radical group and from home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East. Police said they had now arrested and charged 11 people with terrorism-related offences since launching massive raids in Sydney and Brisbane in September, soon after raising the terror threat to “high” for the first time.

Tornado Hits Mississippi, Fierce Storm Moves Through Southeast

Several tornadoes hit the Southeast on Tuesday afternoon, including one in Mississippi that left at least four dead, numerous others injured, and caused damage to structures.

Two people died in Marion County, Mississippi, and two more in Jones County, state Emergency Management Agency spokesman Brett Carr confirmed to the Huffington Post.

https://twitter.com/stormchaser4850/status/547536674591211520

A tornado formed near Amite City, Louisiana and moved on to Columbia in southern Mississippi, which appeared to be hit the hardest. Striking Columbia at about 2 p.m. CT, the tornado “was a very large one,” Karla Brown with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department told the Huffington Post. Columbia saw extensive damage, and numerous people were injured, Carr said. The Sheriff’s Department was responding to reports of people trapped.

It looks like the weather is going to be bad all over the place….Christmas Twisters: Deadly Storms Threaten Holiday Travel – NBC News.com

flight delays began piling up at East Coast airports on Tuesday because of the tornado-storm system packing strong winds, thunderstorms, snow. Another system is threatening rain and heavy snow in the Northwest and Rockies. And dozens of flights were scrapped at Philadelphia International and at LaGuardia in New York, and delays ran as long as two hours.

The East Coast system will pivot to the north on Wednesday, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds into the Great Lakes. Chicago and Milwaukee could see “significant” snowfall toward the end of Christmas Eve, Lucksinger said.

“At the moment the system could just clip Chicago on Christmas Eve with potentially heavy snow that would certainly disrupt flights,” Lucksinger added.

And a separate storm arriving in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday is set to bring rain before moving across the Rockies. Salt Lake City could see up to 8 inches of snow on Christmas Day.

Updating you on the jackasses in the news:

This is a review of what the Scumbags Blaming de Blasio and Obama for Slain Cops

After shooting his girlfriend Saturday morning, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley of Union City, Georgia traveled from Baltimore to New York and gunned down two NYPD officers, apparently in retaliation for recent police-related homicides. According to some commentators, however, Brinsley was only partially responsible for the murders, aided by accomplices Bill de Blasio and Barack Obama.

North Carolina abortion ultrasound decision: Quotes from Judge Wilkinson on medical ethics and first amendment.

A panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted today to strike down a highly controversial North Carolina law requiring doctors and ultrasound technicians to perform an ultrasound, display the image of the sonogram, and specifically describe the fetus to any pregnant woman seeking an abortion, even if the woman actively “averts her eyes” and “refuses to hear.” The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and others challenged the law, which was enjoined last year by a lower federal court.

Today, in a unanimous decision authored by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a three-judge panel affirmed a lower court’s determination that the law is a compelled speech provision that violates the First Amendment rights of providers. The language in Judge Wilkinson’s opinion is striking in its solicitude for the uniquely vulnerable half-dressed woman on an examining table, forced to listen to information she does not want to hear. It also addresses head-on conflicting rulings from the 5th and 8th Circuits that have upheld such provisions.

Perhaps the most striking part of the opinion comes at the very end, where the court starkly contrasts the standard informed-consent conversation between a physician and her patient with the statute enacted in North Carolina:

 Go and read the opinion at the link.

This next article really pissed me off, express scrips is the insurance we have…they do not cover Jake’s Type One Diabetes supplies or insulin…or my hormone patch…but they will cover the dick hardening drugs.

Express Scripts presses for expansion of drugs it won’t cover | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Express Scripts, the largest manager of prescription drug plans for U.S. employers, is taking an increasingly aggressive stance in price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies after winning discounts on medications with a strategy introduced last year.

On Monday, Express Scripts said it lined up a cheaper price for AbbVie Inc.’s newly approved hepatitis C treatment and, in most cases, will no longer cover Gilead Sciences Inc.’s rival treatments after trying for nearly a year to win a deeper discount.

The move threatens to undermine profits at Gilead, and was viewed by Wall Street as a sign that other major biotechnology players, including Amgen Inc. and Biogen Inc., will face steeper U.S. pricing pressure from insurers. Other drugmakers without potentially transformative new products, such as Shire Plc, Novo Nordisk and Theravance Inc., may also be particularly vulnerable, analysts said. Neither Shire, Novo Nordisk nor Theravance responded to requests for comment.

Express Scripts will further expand the number of medicines it won’t cover for 2016, including treatments for common illnesses such as diabetes, pulmonary hypertension and arthritis, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Miller, in an interview earlier this month. In some cases, Express Scripts could drop coverage for newer specialty medicines in the biotechnology field, he said. The timing on specific drugs will depend on when new competing drugs with similar clinical benefits are approved for the U.S. market.

Express Scripts first began excluding drugs from its largest national reimbursement list for 2014, with 44 medications, and increased that number to 66 for 2015.

The prospect of having their drugs dropped from Express Scripts’ biggest “formulary” list of covered medicines has prompted some leading pharmaceutical makers to discount their prices, Miller said.

Express Scripts is acting on behalf of clients who need to rein in healthcare costs, and estimates that the move has so far saved such employers more than $1 billion in annual spending, Miller said.

But see, the thing is…it does not mean good news for the consumer. When Express Scripts drops companies from their list of covered meds…they usually stay off the list. I know…because it means that people will need to find a way to pay full price. The drug companies are counting on it, they know people need those drugs.

Sony re-gifts ‘The Interview’ in limited Christmas release

“The Interview” was put back into theaters Tuesday when Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its cancelled release.

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said that Seth Rogen’s North Korea farce “will be in a number of theaters” beginning Thursday. He said Sony also is continuing its efforts to release the film on more platforms and in more theaters.

“We have never given up on releasing `The Interview,'” Lynton said in a statement Tuesday. “While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”

For Sony, the decision was the culmination of a gradual about-face: After initially saying it had no plans to release the movie, the company began softening its position after it was broadly criticized.

And finally…Cows’ Moos Carry A Lot More Meaning Than You Ever Imagined

What do cows mean when they moo?

Scientists in England have been eavesdropping on “conversations” between cows and their calves to answer that question–and they’ve discovered that moos convey a lot more meaning than you ever imagined.

“This is the first time that complex cattle calls have been analyzed using the latest and best techniques,” Dr. Alan McElligott, a senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London and the co-author of a new study about moos, said in a written statement. “Our results provide an excellent foundation for investigating vocal indicators of cattle welfare.”

The scientists spent 10 months digitally recording call sounds from two herds of free-range cattle on a farm in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire. The researchers then spent several months performing the acoustic and statistical analysis of the data. They determined that mother cows use two types of contact calls with their calves: a quiet low-frequency call when the calf is nearby and a loud high-frequency call when the calf is far away. Calves produce one type of contact call when they’re separated from their mothers and they want to nurse.

Have a wonderful and safe Christmas Eve…

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: If a hard drive crashes, does it make a sound?

Good Morningfloppygirl_1280

My laptop is giving me awful warnings, something about a hard disk drive failure…run backup immediately…the shit is about to hit the fan. You know, the kind of thing you don’t really ever want to see pop up on your computer screen. So, since the laptop may crash while I am writing this post, I will keep this thread short and sweet.

The big news overnight was the shooting of two police officers in Brooklyn, NY:

Two N.Y.P.D. Officers Are Killed in Brooklyn Ambush; Suspect Commits Suicide – NYTimes.com

Two police officers sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn were shot at point-blank range and killed on Saturday afternoon by a man who, officials said, had traveled to the city from Baltimore vowing to kill officers. The suspect then committed suicide with the same gun, the authorities said.

The officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were in the car near Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the shadow of a tall housing project when the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, walked up to the passenger-side window and assumed a firing stance, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said. Mr. Brinsley shot several rounds into the heads and upper bodies of the officers, who never drew their weapons, the authorities said.

Mr. Brinsley, who had a long rap sheet of crimes that included robbery and carrying a concealed gun, is believed to have shot his former girlfriend near Baltimore before traveling to Brooklyn, the authorities said. He made statements on social media suggesting that he planned to kill police officers and was angered about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.

NYPD shooting victims: ‘Targeted for their uniform’

New York City and the USA as a whole are mourning the deaths of police officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos, shot dead Saturday in their patrol car a Brooklyn neighborhood.

Liu was a two-year veteran of the force with a new wife. Ramos had just marked his 40th birthday with his wife and their teenage son earlier this month.

“They were, quite simply, assassinated, targeted for their uniform and the responsibility they embraced,” an obviously shaken New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at an evening press conference. “Both were ambushed and murdered.”

NYC Police Union Chief Blames Mayor, Protesters For Police Killings

After the murder of two NYPD officers on Saturday, the outspoken head of the city’s primary police union blamed protesters and Mayor Bill de Blasio for the deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

“There’s blood on many hands tonight,” NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch said Saturday night, ratcheting up already frigid tensions between City Hall and One Police Plaza.

Lynch blamed those who “incited violence on the street under the guise of protest,” — a reference to the swell of demonstrations in New York City and across the U.S. in the wake of a grand jury decision to not indict a New York police officer for killing an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, earlier this fall.

Lynch then went after Mayor de Blasio: “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor.” He went on to praise the fallen officers, and said that those responsible for the killing will be held responsible.

Video at link.

They also have a suspect in the killing of all those children in Peshawar: Peshawar attack mastermind is Umar Mansoor, father of 3 – Hindustan Times

The most hated man in Pakistan is a 36-year-old father of three and volleyball enthusiast nicknamed “Slim”.

His real name is Umar Mansoor and the Pakistani Taliban say he masterminded this week’s massacre of 132 children and nine staff at a school in Peshawar – the deadliest militant attack in Pakistan’s history.

A video posted on Thursday on a website used by the Taliban shows a man with a luxuriant chest-length beard, holding an admonishing finger aloft as he seeks to justify the December 16 attack. The caption identified him as Umar Mansoor.

“If our women and children die as martyrs, your children will not escape,” he said. “We will fight against you in such a style that you attack us and we will take revenge on innocents.”

The Taliban say the attack, in which gunmen wearing suicide-bomb vests executed children, was retaliation for a military offensive carried out by the Pakistani army. They accuse the military of carrying out extrajudicial killings.

The accusation is not new. Many courts have heard cases where men disappeared from the custody of security services. Some bodies have been found later, hands bound behind the back and shot in the head, or dismembered and stuffed into sacks.

Some security officials say privately the courts are so corrupt and afraid, it is almost impossible to convict militants.

“You risk your life to catch terrorists and the courts always release them,” said one official. “If you kill them, then they don’t come back.”

The country is so inured to violence that the discovery of such bodies barely rates a paragraph in a local newspaper. Despite this, the school attack shocked a nation where traditionally, women and children are protected, even in war.

pc5160adNot quite sure about that last bit of the paragraph, women and children protected? even in war? but maybe I am wrong…can someone set me straight?

Six Pakistani Taliban interviewed by Reuters confirmed the mastermind was Mansoor. Four of them said he is close to Mullah Fazlullah, the embattled leader of the fractious group who ordered assassins to kill schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.

“He strictly follows the principles of jihad,” one said. “He is strict in principles, but very kind to his juniors. He is popular among the juniors because of his bravery and boldness.”

Mansoor got a high school education in the capital, Islamabad, two Taliban members said, and later studied in a madrassa, a religious school.

“Umar Mansoor had a tough mind from a very young age, he was always in fights with other boys,” said one Taliban member.

More at the link.

As for the Sony mess:

Sony Pictures hack fuels speculation about studio’s possible sale – LA Times

allout from the crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has called into question exactly what the future holds for one of Hollywood’s biggest names.

A paralyzed computer system has hampered the studio’s ability to make deals, promote upcoming movie releases and conduct business. Some employees at the Culver City film and television studio still were having trouble accessing their email this weekend.

But, beyond the day-to-day running of a studio, there’s a sense in Hollywood that big changes are ahead.

“Major upheaval will occur at Sony,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School. “This will reset the studio’s relationship with Japan.”

Emails released on the Internet by hackers show that Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai had been concerned for months that “The Interview” could be trouble, given that the comedy depicted the fictional, gruesome assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hirai ultimately agreed to the film’s release, but analysts say that may not be enough to save the jobs of Sony Pictures’ top two executives, Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal. They canceled the Christmas Day release of “The Interview” in the wake of terror threats on cinemas. Theater chains had worried about the safety of moviegoers and the impact on box office receipts over the crucial holiday season.

That decision, however, drew scorn from many — including President Obama — that the studio capitulated to a hollow threat from the North Korean hackers who federal officials say launched the cyberattack. This only added to the controversy surrounding the film.

“The current situation is likely to be a strain on relations with the Japan headquarters,” said Jochen Legewie, a crisis advisor and a managing director of the global consultancy CNC Japan.

hard-disk-ad-northstarSony declined to comment, though it issued a statement Friday condemning the attacks and explaining its position.

But there is one thing about this hacking story…it’s got everything: Foreign intrigue, star wattage: Sony hacking has all elements of Hollywood thriller – Hindustan Times

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing executive emails.

 One month later, the Obama administration confirmed what many had suspected: The North Korean government was behind the punishing breach. US officials are promising a response, unspecified so far.

It was an extraordinarily public reaction from the highest levels of American government, considering that far more vital domestic interests have taken hits from foreign hackers in recent years – including the military, major banks and makers of nuclear and solar power whose trade secrets were siphoned off in a matter of mouse clicks.

Yet even in a digital era with an endless cycle of cyberattacks, none has drawn the public’s attention like the Sony breach and its convergence of sensational plotlines:
-an isolated dictator half a world away.
-damaging Hollywood gossip from the executive suite.
-threats of terrorism against Christmas Day moviegoers.
-the American president chastising a corporate decision to shelve a satirical film.
-normally reticent law enforcement agencies laying bare their case against the suspected culprits.

“I can’t remember the US talking about a proportional response to Chinese espionage or infiltration of critical infrastructure for that matter, as a policy issue in the same way that we’re talking about this today,” said Jacob Olcott, a cyberpolicy and legal issues expert at Good Harbor Security Risk Management and a former adviser to Congress.

Could you just imagine what a Joseph L Mankiewicz or Billy Wilder do with a story like that?

Meanwhile, there was an interesting post at the Daily Mail: Maria Southard Ospina asks magazine editors worldwide to fix her using Photoshop

Plus-sized woman asks 21 magazine editors from around the world to ‘fix’ her using Photoshop. Guess which three countries made her thinner

The original: Colombian-American Maria Southard Ospina told the various editors to 'fix' a woman of her size using this original photograph while upholding the ideals of beauty in their country.

Colombian-American Maria Southard Ospina told 21 editors to ‘fix’ a woman of her size while upholding the ideals of beauty in their country
Ukraine, Mexico, and Latvia were the only three countries to drastically alter her weight
Iceland refused to Photshop her image at all because they don’t believe in the practice saying, ‘I don’t believe in re-touching a person’s natural beauty’

Give that link a look over.

And can you believe it has been 10 years?

10 years on, tsunami-hit city is cleaned up but concerns linger over hazardous waste

Cars. Fishing boats. Houses. Entire villages. The 2004 tsunami left Banda Aceh with mountains of debris up to 6 kilometers (4 miles) inland.

Driving in the remade communities today, it’s easy to wonder where it all went. Some of it is still there — recycled into road materials, buildings and furniture. Some of it was burned, creating new environmental hazards. And most of it was simply washed out to sea.

Ten years after that gigantic wave engulfed this city of 4 million on the day after Christmas, Banda Aceh has been almost totally restored. The tangled mountains of rubbish are gone, and it’s hard to imagine the destruction that once choked rivers, blocked streets and ripped up trees by the roots.

The endless heaps of twisted metal, splintered wood and broken concrete have all disappeared except for some scattered reminders for tourists and local residents. A drive along the coast highlights a stunning coastline with new houses perched near the beach. Lush mangroves have been planted to help withstand future tsunamis, fishermen are back at sea and farmers are again working their rice paddies.

Still, authorities are concerned about the health and environmental risks posed by debris contaminated by oil, asbestos and medical waste sitting on the seafloor off the coast and in 32 unregulated dump sites around the city.

I still can ‘t believe, ten years. Where have they gone.

A Decade After Tsunami, Scars Linger in Indonesia’s Aceh – The Jakarta Globe

Dec. 26, 2004 began much like any other Sunday. Dilla Damayanti was sitting in her parents’ living room having breakfast when the tremors hit: first an insistent shaking, then a pause, then a sudden violent seizure. The family quickly took refuge at a nearby mosque. “It was very quick,” she said. “Suddenly, water was coming, very fast.”

b42d4f1225a1f384cb59ffc893b6ed28Dilla was just 5 years old when the Indian Ocean tsunami slammed into her small village near the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province. She and her family survived the waves, but from her refuge on the mosque’s second floor she saw something she would never forget — her young school friend, a girl named Nadia, washed away in the deluge.

“She was shouting, help, help, but there was nothing we could do,” recalled Dilla, now a high school student. “That’s why I cannot forget. I thank God that I survived.”

Ten years ago this month, an earthquake 160 kilometers off the coast of Sumatra island triggered waves which killed an estimated 230,000 people, devastated coastal communities in 11 countries, and added a terrifying new term to local peoples’ vocabulary.

Among the worst-hit regions was Aceh, an Indonesian province on the northern tip of Sumatra. As massive waves — some as high as 30 meters — surged inland, around 130,000 people were killed and more than half a million displaced.

Read those stories and remember some of the pictures and video from the days and weeks after that event. Do you wonder how some of the children who lost everything, parents…siblings…..grandparents, do you ever wonder how they turned out?

Me too.

That one article from Jakata states that they people got their freedom  that day.

Amrullah of Plan International said that at the time the tsunami hit, people affected by the war were already suffering from a variety of mental health problems. While the roadblocks and checkpoints of the civil war years are now gone, he added, “psychologically [they’re] not”.

The people of Aceh “got trauma from the military, then they were hit with the tsunami. We cannot measure the magnitude.”

But for all the problems still facing the region, ten years of reconstruction have dulled the grief, repaired shattered infrastructure and at least given people a fresh start.

Before the tsunami, life in Lamboro Nijid, a village on the outskirts of Banda Aceh, was tough. Due to the war, movement was restricted. Curfews were common. Local people were frequently taken in for questioning about their supposed links to GAM rebels, and sometimes tortured for information.

“When there was conflict the worst affected were the ordinary people,” said Rahmadullah, a resident of the village. Then, one day came the roaring waters to wash it all away.

“After, we could speak freely,” he said of Dec. 26, 2004. “What happened that day? We got freedom.”

I guess my question would be at price?

This is an open thread.