Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m going to start out with an economics link today because I really get mad when partisan politics pushes an agenda that puts ignorance ahead of unbiased studies.  This is a prime example of why I no longer trust a single Republican to do what’s best for our country.  Congress asked for a study from the CRS –a nonpartisan, highly respected research source for Congress–on the relationship between high tax rates for high incomes and economic activity. It didn’t produce the results sought by Republicans so they squashed it.  I’ve shared a lot of studies over our years together that show the same thing including one a few weeks ago.  This is just one study showing that taxing rich people really doesn’t hurt the economy.   This just makes me want to scream.

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. McConnell and other senators “raised concerns about the methodology and other flaws.” Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”

Senate Republican aides said they had protested both the tone of the report and its findings. Aides to Mr. McConnell presented a bill of particulars to the research service that included objections to the use of the term “Bush tax cuts” and the report’s reference to “tax cuts for the rich,” which Republicans contended was politically freighted.

They also protested on economic grounds, saying that the author, Thomas L. Hungerford, was looking for a macroeconomic response to tax cuts within the first year of the policy change without sufficiently taking into account the time lag of economic policies. Further, they complained that his analysis had not taken into account other policies affecting growth, such as the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates.

“There were a lot of problems with the report from a real, legitimate economic analysis perspective,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee’s Republicans. “We relayed them to C.R.S. It was a good discussion. We have a good, constructive relationship with them. Then it was pulled.”

The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.

This is just one of a series of topics important to our future where we can depend on Republicans to ignore data, theory, and scientific evidence.  The worst ones come within the hard sciences like those dealing with in utero fetal development and climate change but this is just more of the same.  They want their ideology and have no regard for empirical evidence found through scientific research that shows just how wrong they really are.  More evidence that Republicans are insidious.

So, it’s Friday and we’re going to entertain my weird obsession of learning about people through graves and grave goods yet again.  Here’s my secret treasure trove of links and how Hurricane Sandy has exposed an interesting grave site. 

Superstorm Sandy  shut down Archaeology News for two days, and uprooted a tree in New Haven, Connecticut, that revealed a human skeleton. Authorities think the burial dates from the colonial era, when the site was used as a cemetery. The tree was planted in 1909 to commemorate the 100thanniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

In the 1950s, a skeleton with metal spikes  through its shoulders, heart, and ankles was found in central England, but a report on the discovery has just been made available. The burial dates to between 550 and 700 A.D. Such treatment of the dead was considered to be appropriate for individuals thought to be capable of returning to life and causing problems for the living. Scholars are no longer sure where this particular rare burial is located. “Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murderers, or traitors or later for those deviants who did not conform to society’s rules: adulterers, disrupters of the peace, the unpious or oath breaker. Which of these the Southwell deviant was we will never know,” said archaeologist Matthew Beresford.

Guess we’ll have to wait to see what they think about this newest find.

So, I think we need a little more female representation, experience and wisdom in our government so I’m so happy to see that Tammy Baldwin is ahead in Wisconsin and will play a key role in what goes on in the Senate in the upcoming Congress.  She’s been targeted by the worst of the worst and is running against Tommy Thompson who is a Republican favorite son.

New polls show Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, with a four-point lead over her Republican challenger, former governor Tommy Thompson, in a race which may determine control of the Senate and had previously been considered a lock for Republicans. If Baldwin is elected she would likely follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold and be one of the more independent and progressive members of the U.S. Senate.

Outside groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity are spending millions on ads tagging Baldwin as “too liberal” for Wisconsin, and a variety of Democratic groups have criticized Thompson for his work at a lobbying firm with ties to outsourcing, helping make the state’s close Senate race the second-most expensive for outside money in the country and themost expensive in state history. The intensity of the race has also made it exceptionally negative , underscoring how close the race has become and its national importance.

Another race that is exciting is in Illinois where Tammy Duckworth will most likely take down Joe Walsh who is one of the worst of the worst Tea Baggers.  However, tons of big money is flooding into the race so we need to show Tammy all of our love and support.

Though the latest polls say U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is likely to lose to Democrat Tammy Duckworth next week, key members of Chicago’s corporate community and a couple of huge super PACs are coming to his aid, leading to a furious exchange of verbiage over whether at least the spirit of the law has been broken.

The corporate cash comes from the Exelon Corp. PAC, the Hospira Inc. PAC and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer John Carpenter, each of whom donated $2,500 to Mr. Walsh’s campaign committee in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week.

There’s nothing particularly controversial in those donations, though some Republicans say privately that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

But much bigger cash — and a much larger flap — has arisen over a late $1 million “independent” expenditure on Mr. Walsh’s behalf by the Missouri-based Now or Never super PAC.

If you’ll recall, Now or Never spent $2 million and said it was “seriously considering” dropping in another $2.5 million here, but then said it changed its mind. But last night, the group sent reporters an email saying it had changed its mind again and decided to spend another $1 million on anti-Duckworth TV ads.

“This is a resource and opportunity-based reversal,” Now or Never spokesman Tyler Harber emailed me. Recent negative reports about Ms. Duckworth “presented us with an opportunity to deliver an effective closing message.”

But Mr. Harber didn’t respond when I asked him who paid for the late blitz. That’s pertinent because earlier this year, Now or Never had been getting the vast bulk of its funding from another group, Americans for Limited Government, which does not disclose its funding. And the Duckworth campaign says ALG Chairman Howard Rich and his wife both have donated to Mr. Walsh’s personal campaign committee in the last year, raising questions of whether the ALG/Now or Never spending truly is uncoordinated, as the law requires.

Please send the Tammys some money!!  Donations to Tammy Baldwin can be sent here.  Donations to Tammy Duckworth can be sent here.

The CSM has an interesting article up on Penn State’s former President–Spanier– who was indicted for a variety of things related to Sandusky’s horrible, serial, long term acts of  child sexual assault.  I find this an interesting set of law suits given similar actions by Bishops and others from Catholic Archdioceses all over the country and the hierarchy of the Boy Scouts. Both organizations have engaged in similar patterns of behavior when confronted with the sexual assault of young boys on their watch and have not been confronted with the same tough legal retributions.  Schultz here refers to a now retired VP who is yet to be charged.  Hasn’t there been evidence of prior knowledge and cover-up in other institutions?  Why can’t we protect our children and decrease the incidence of sexual predators in our society?

Schultz kept a file about the 1998 and 2001 incidents involving Sandusky at his campus office and told staff members never to look in the file, Kelly said.

It was removed from the office on the day charges against Sandusky were announced and delivered to Schultz’s home.

The file’s existence, along with other information relevant to the grand jury investigation, was not disclosed until after Spanier was fired and trustees ordered full cooperation with the probe, she said.

Unbelievable.

I’m going to end with a thought from a female Buddha since I’ve just about had it with male energy after reading that article.  She’s an emanation of female wisdom and wow, do we need some of that today.

‎”When you arrive at the extinction of reality, there is nothing but the spontaneity of pure potential. There is no other way to dance in the sky.”

- Yeshe Tsogyal (757–817)

Anyway, those things have been on my reads list.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

There are so many headlines flying about at the moment of interest that it’s hard to pick just a few this morning.  Let’s start with some big ones that won’t go away.

A 267 page internal investigation of pedophile Jerry Sandusky shows that every knew and they all concealed the horrible crimes. Gawker sums up the shameful findings.

If you don’t have time to review the full 267-page internal investigationof the Penn State scandal, here’s the gist: Everyone knew. Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno knew. Former Penn State University president Graham Spanier knew. Former Penn State University vice president Gary Schultz knew. Penn State Athletic Director (currently on leave) Tim Curley knew. Everyone knew. As far back as 1998, when they learned of a criminal investigation of Sandusky related to an instance of suspected sexual misconduct with a boy in a PSU football locker room shower.

Here’s a paragraph from investigator Louis Freeh’s remarks sent out alongside his report that damns “the most powerful leaders at Penn State University” quite succinctly:

“Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large. Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky’s victims.”

It’s really hard to put together the words that describe exactly how disgusted I am by this statement.  That last sentence just is shameful.  This sums up just about everything there is to say about how people in power with an agenda will behave when their interests are placed above everything else.

You wouldn’t know about the complete meltdown over Mitt Shady in the MSM and everyplace else if you hang out in right blogosphere or listen to Rush Limbaugh. It’s a wonderful day for race-baiting!  They’re stuck on the NAACP Romney appearance and appear oblivious to the continued uncovering of Romney’s lies to every one including two federal agencies.  Nope.  Rush just turns up the volume and hate. Here’s more on that from MoJo.

“Obama’s the Preezy,” Limbaugh told his listeners Wednesday, (get it? Cuz that’s how black people talk). “He’s confident they’ll boo Romney, simply ’cause Romney’s white. He’s confident of that.” I’m sure Limbaugh will have an impressive rationalization for why Vice President Joe Biden was so well received by the NAACP convention Thursday. This is, put simply, the dumbest thing Limbaugh has said since the time the 61-year old radio host revealed he didn’t know how birth control works.

Romney has now said he “expected” to get booed, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Romney of wanting to get booed in order to make himself look politically brave. Like Limbaugh’s ridiculous comment, Romney and Pelosi’s statements are unfair to the NAACP. There has only been one black president of the United States in history, and Mitt Romney is not the first white presidential candidate to address the NAACP. When Ross Perot (!) adressed the convention in 1992, press accounts don’t describe any boos despite Perot referring to the audience as “you people.” Then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was well received. Former Republican Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) declined to speak, saying he wanted to talk to audiences he “could relate to.”Both Al Gore and George W. Bush addressed the convention in 2000, and neither were booed.

There are only two instances in the past thirty years or so in which a “white guy” of comparable status to Romney getting booed at an NAACP convention. Following his appearance in 2000, George W. Bush snubbed the NAACP for years as president, but when he finally did speak in 2006, he was booed when he brought up charter schools and the war in Iraq. Prior to that, you have to go back about twenty years of white guys not getting booed to 1983, when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was booed because of his defense of the Reagan administration’s civil rights record. Even then, ABC News describes him as being “well received” when he returned as a presidential candidate in 1988.

Here’s something interesting from Paul Krugman quoted at Politico: “I miss Bush’s ‘honesty’.”

The “radicalized” GOP has gone so far off the deep end, according to Paul Krugman, that it has the New York Times columnist wishing for the days of George W. Bush.

Only one side’s to blame for our “nightmarishly dysfunctional political situation,” he tells Business Insider.

“It’s entirely one-sided,” Krugman said. “That’s one of those things, you know, the centrists — you want to be a centrist, and you want to blame both sides, and it’s one of those almost hilarious things because you see it again and again, the pundits who say, ‘Here’s what President Obama should do, he should reach out across the divide and propose some short-term stimulus but long-term spending cuts to balance the budget, and you say, ‘He’s actually proposed that.’”

“We have a radicalized, off-the-deep end Republican Party,” the Nobel Prize–winning economist added.

Krugman puts the GOP’s latest presidential candidate in that category.

“I find myself now, watching Mitt Romney campaign, I find myself wishing for the honesty of George W. Bush,” he said.

The FBI has released its report on George Zimmerman–shooter of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin–and has determined there is no evidence of racism present. CSM reports on the findings.

After interviewing 30 people familiar with George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain charged with killing African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, FBI agents found no evidence that the shooting was driven by racial bias or animus.

Before Thursday’s release of a Department of Justice report, both sides have argued over whether smatterings of racially charged testimony should be released to the public before the trial – in particular, the testimony of “Witness 9,” whom state prosecutors say has described an “act” by Mr. Zimmerman that suggests “he had a bias toward black people.”

The report released Thursday made clear that the FBI found no one willing to go on the record as saying Zimmerman is racist. Even one of the most skeptical local investigators with the Sanford, Fla., police department, Chris Serino, suggested to the FBI that Zimmerman followed Trayvon “based on his attire,” not “skin color,” and added that he thought Zimmerman had a “little hero complex,” but is not racist, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which obtained copies of the document.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a criminal (though the teen was doing nothing wrong), followed him, confronted him, and then killed him after a brief scuffle. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon in self-defense after the teen jumped him, knocked him down, and bashed his head against a sidewalk. The case caused a national uproar over racial profiling and gun laws after local police originally declined to charge Zimmerman. Forty-four days after the shooting, a special state prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

The report outlines how FBI agents asked each person interviewed whether Zimmerman “displayed any bias, prejudice or irrational attitude against any class of citizen, religious, racial, gender or ethnic groups.” No one said he had.

More information is available at the paper’s website.

I want to add a few interesting links since this is Friday! First, the CSM reviews DNA evidence that shows that indigenous Americans came to this side of the world in at least three waves.

Supporting a controversial view of how humans might have populated the Western Hemisphere, geneticists have found that groups from Asia traveled over the Bering Strait into North America in at least three separate migrations beginning more than 15,000 years ago — not in a single wave, as has been widely thought.

“We have various lines of evidence that there was more than one migration,” said Dr. Andres Ruiz-Linares, a professor of human genetics at University College London and senior author of a report on the findings that was published Wednesday by the journal Nature.The discovery was made possible by the sheer volume of genetic material the team was able to assemble and analyze, he said.

Ruiz-Linares and colleagues around the world analyzed DNA samples, primarily from blood, taken from hundreds of modern-day Native Americans and other indigenous people representing 52 distinct populations. These included Inuits of east and west Greenland, Canadian groups including the Algonquin and the Ojibwa, and a larger variety of people spanning the southern regions of the Americas from Mexico to Peru.

Investigating patterns in more than 350,000 gene variants, the scientists determined that most of the groups they studied did indeed descend from an original “First American” population.

One last link!  Ever wonder how dinosaurs had sex? Here’s some information on T-Rex’s Sex Life from the Daily Mail.  There’s even some paintings that depict the act.  Consider this!

Scientific illustrators have also attempted to capture the intriguing rituals of the huge beasts – including an illustrator who worked with Dr Halstead on a magazine article in 1988.

The physical challenges involved must have been formidable.

The penis of a tyrannosaur is estimated to be around 12 feet long.

Kristi Curry Rogers, Assistant Professor of Biology and Geology at Macalester College in Minnesota, told the Discovery Channel.

‘The most likely position to have intercourse is for the male behind the female, and on top of her, and from behind, any other position is unfathomable.’

So, that’s my offerings today!  That should get us started!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Late Nite Lite: Open Thread Wave…Heat Wave

Damn it is hot down here in Banjoville!

Good Evening!

Time again for those funny cartoons, Fridays do seem to come on you fast sometimes, with all the news this week…it is gonna be a good one.

First up, 7/1 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Pre-existing condition | Mike Luckovich

For more on the SCOTUS Decision:

BB will like this one:

So many to choose from, I love the expression on this elephant:

But…it is all Bush’s fault!

Obamacare Roberts © Steve kelley,The New Orleans Times, Picayune,John Roberts, Supreme Court, Constitution, Obamacare

And what about Holder?

Holder and Contempt of Congress © Daryl Cagle,MSNBC.com,Fast and Furious,the fast and the furious,Eric Holder, Darrell Issa, Congress, Contempt of Congress,Gun Running, elephant,clown,seltzer

Okay, I have to add this one from last week…on Sandusky:

Sandusky Cellmate © Bruce Plante,Tulsa World,Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, prison

And finally a couple of comments about immigration:

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 06/28/2012

Now this last one is particularly fabulous because of the scene it portrays:

Arizona immigration law Flesh wound © J.D. Crowe,Mobile Register,arizona immigration law, us supreme court

Alright…we’ll call it a draw!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

Wall Street Royal Jamie Dimon deigned to appear before a Senate Committee yesterday, and the Senators mostly sucked up to him. I’m surprised they didn’t ask if he needed a pillow for his chair. MSNBC: Senate treats JPMorgan CEO Dimon with kid gloves

Dimon was expected to receive a frosty reception in his first congressional appearance since he announced the bank sustained a trading loss some analysts now estimate is at least $3 billion. It was a massive loss for the nation’s biggest financial institution.

Instead, Dimon, who has won praise for bringing JPMorgan (JPM) through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, was treated cordially by most of members of the Senate Banking Committee. They peppered him with questions about regulation and risky practices at the bank, but did not press him to give an update on the losses resulting from the trade. JPMorgan is expected to give an update to shareholders when it reports its second-quarter earnings July 13.

“I think it was a pretty favorable day,” David Konrad, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods banking analyst, told CNBC. Konrad said he was surprised that the questioning of Dimon by lawmakers was so “professional.”

Excuse me, “professional” for a Senator would have been sending this man to the woodshed. NPR’s Marketplace called the treatment of Dimon “a wake for Dodd-Frank.”

Yahoo has named the winner of the “Most Tepid Endorsement of Mitt Romney” contest: it’s a bumper sticker that reads “At least he’s not a communist.”

Until recently, it appeared that no one could unseat Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the champion of the tepid Romney endorsement. Since Yahoo News started conducting reader polls on the politicians who supported Mitt Romney in the least enthusiastic terms, Daniels has defeated original champ George Pataki and defended the crown against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. (The former president came the closest to unseating Daniels.)

We thought the book was closed on the tepid endorsement bracket until Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody spotted a bumper sticker at last weekend’s regional CPAC conference in Chicago bearing these words of praise: “At least he’s not a communist.”

You can read the other tepid endorsements at the link.

First Romney made fun of Obama for wanting to help cities and states pay for cops, teachers, and firefighters. Then he went on Fox News and said it was a “strange accusation” for anyone to say he didn’t want to hire teachers and first responders.

After an extended skewering of President Obama for a gaffe about the private sector last week, ending with the charge that it was proof the president was “out of touch” Romney was asked by Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade for his response to Obama saying it was Romney who was clueless (Romney’s comment comes at about the 1:40 mark) :

[BRIAN] KILMEADE: He says that you’re out of touch. He says you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don’t understand what’s going on in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So, obviously that’s completely absurd.

But of course the federal government does subsidize states and they often use the money to pay for these public employees. In fact, the reason so many teachers, firefighters and cops are getting laid off now is because stimulus money has run out.

Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney’s plan would indeed cut billions from cops, firefighters and teachers

Yesterday Mitt Romney claimed that it was “ completely absurd” of the Obama campaign to argue that he favors cutbacks in cops, firefighters and teachers. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said, adding that they were paid by states and localities.

What’s getting lost in the back and forth here is that Romney’s actual economic plan would, in fact, cut billions of dollars in federal money that goes to cops, firefighters, and teachers — perhaps more than $10 billion a year, in fact.

This is the conclusion of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed Romney’s plan through the prism of the debate over public workers at my request.

As Michael McAuliff reported yesterday, despite Romney’s claim, the federal government does give billions of dollars to states and localities through programs like Title 1, the COPS program, FEMA and others — which pay for first responders and teachers.

This is amazing. Romney finally broke down and decided to talk to a media source that isn’t Fox News! He will be on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.

A full year into his presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show.

Romney has been interviewed several times on ”Fox News Sunday” this campaign cycle, but has declined repeated invitations to appear on any of the other Sunday shows, occasionally drawing scorn from veteran anchors accustomed to interviewing presidential candidates.

Let’s hope Shieffer asks a few tough questions. One thing Shieffer will probably ask about is Romney’s choice of Vice President. One of the leading contenders, Marco Rubio, announced yesterday that he supports the illegal Florida voter purge.

“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.

The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.

That might not help Romney win over Latino voters.

John Avlon has a piece at CNN on Jeb Bush and other “moderate” Republicans who are starting to fight back against Grover Norquist:

This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.

The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.

That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.

And Jeb is not alone.

As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It’s not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge’s effective veto of deficit reduction plans “ridiculous” when talking with Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, “We’re so far in debt, that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”

Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators — from Maine’s Susan Collins to Iowa’s Chuck Grassley to Wyoming’s John Barrasso — and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.

In pedophile news, Jerry Sandusky had another bad day in court yesterday with three victims testifying that he manipulated and threatened them into putting up with his sick sexual behavior.

The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn’t have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.

I’m not going to quote all of the sordid details–there are too many of them anyway. You can read it all at the link. I’ll just give you one excerpt that shows what Sandusky is all about:

Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.

“We were in the basement. We were wrestling,” he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. “The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me.” Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, “I freaked out.”

“Did he ever say anything to you about it?” McGettigan asked.

“He told me if I ever told anyone I’d never see my family again,” the young man replied. “Later he apologized and said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me.”

I hope Sandusky goes to prison for life, and I want to see prosecutions of his enablers at Penn State. It’s an outrage that he was allowed to go on abusing children for years after many at the school knew about his behavior.

And then there’s the Catholic Church: U.S. Catholics still suspect priests sexually abuse children: Report

The National Review Board said that, a decade after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a child protection charter, there has been a “striking improvement” in the way the Church deals with the abuse of minors by clergy.

“Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments, and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry,” said the report, released as the Conference began its annual spring meeting in Atlanta.

But it acknowledged: “Despite solid evidence (to the contrary), many of the faithful believe that sexual abuse by clergy is occurring at high levels and is still being covered up by bishops.”

Well, what did they expect? I’m certainly not surprised. In fact I’d be surprised if there aren’t still pedophile priests abusing children.

Forest boy

I’ll end with the strange story of “Forest Boy.”

Berlin police on Wednesday released photos an English-speaking teenage boy who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living for the last five years in the forest with his father.
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said all attempts to identify the boy since he emerged in the German capital on Sept. 5 have been unsuccessful, and they are now hoping the release of his photo may produce some leads.

“We have checked his DNA against all missing person reports, sent the data to Interpol so that they could check it internationally, but unfortunately without any success,” Neuendorf said.
The boy has told authorities his father called him “Ray” and that he was born June 20, 1994, but claims not to know his last name or where he’s from.

He said his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12 and after that he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, staying in tents or caves overnight.

He told authorities that after his father died in August, 2011, he buried him in the forest and then walked five days north before ending up in Berlin, and showed up at city hall.

As of last night, the identity of the boy was still a mystery even after release of the photos.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Another one here and another one there…

Good Morning

As my kids are sick, and I am damn tired…this morning’s post is going to be  a link dump of sorts.

And another drone bites the dust…Al Qaeda’s No. 2 killed in Pakistan by CIA drone strike – latimes.com

CIA drone strikes have killed Al Qaeda‘s No. 2 leader, Abu Yahya al Libi, and at least two other people in a rural village in northwestern Pakistan in what U.S. officials called a major blow to the battered core leadership of the terrorist network.

The CIA had targeted Libi with three separate drone-launched missile attacks over three days, finally succeeding early Monday in strikes that destroyed a house and a vehicle, U.S. and Pakistani officials said.

The Libyan-born commander escaped from a U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan in 2005 and later used online video messages to call for attacks on the United States, burnishing a reputation among militants as a charismatic leader and a prolific propagandist.

And just when you think you have heard the creepiest stuff on the news, this happens: Jerry Sandusky Wrote ‘Creepy’ Love Letters To Victims, ABC News Reports | Mediaite

Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky — who is facing charges of child molestation — allegedly wrote “creepy” love letters to his victims, ABC News reports. Eight of whom will be testifying against him in his trial.

Love letters reportedly “written from Sandusky to the accuser, known as Victim 4, will be read into testimony after the trial begins on Monday.” Apparently in Sandusky’s own handwriting, the letters are said to corroborate with Victim 4′s testimony. The report says the victim’s attorney, Ben Andreozzi, isn’t talking about the letter — but described them as “creepy,” and that one “includes a lewd title and is a love story between a boy and a man.”

“They have evidence to support his allegations, and there’s other evidence that has not been released to the public yet that I think will really resonate with the jury,” Andreozzi said. Victim 4 was one of five victims who “petitioned Judge John Cleland to keep their identities anonymous during the trial, continuing a practice put in place by the state attorney general’s office to protect their identities during the investigation. But Cleland denied their request, saying that all of the victims who were willing to testify must be willing to be revealed to the public.”

Now for some history and science themed links:

How WWII’s Battle of Dutch Harbor transformed Alaska | McClatchy

Seventy years ago today, bombs fell on Dutch Harbor. The casualties and damage on a remote Aleutian islet amounted to little more than a blip in the cataclysm of World War II. To this day, educated Americans are unaware that it happened at all.

But the battle permanently changed Alaska in ways that few at the time realized.

Noninvasive genetic test for Down syndrome and Edwards syndrome highly accurate
Using a noninvasive test on maternal blood that deploys a novel biochemical assay and a new algorithm for analysis, scientists can detect, with a high degree of accuracy, the risk that a fetus has the chromosomal abnormalities that cause Down syndrome and a genetic disorder known as Edwards syndrome. The new approach is more scalable than other recently developed genetic screening tests and has the potential to reduce unnecessary amniocentesis or CVS.
Mosquitoes Navigate Rain By Not Caring: Scientific American Podcast

Have you ever wondered what happens to mosquitos in the rain? A raindrop is, like, 50 times heavier than those little suckers. So getting hit by one has gotta hurt, right?

Well, not so much. Because researchers at Georgia Tech have found that the bugs are so light, speeding water drops simply brush them aside, without imparting much force. The results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Andrew K. Dickerson et al, Mosquitoes survive raindrop collisions by virtue of their low mass]

Previous studies have shown that precipitation can be a real pain for lots of winged critters. Bats expend twice as much energy flying through a storm as in clear skies. But what about bugs no bigger than the raindrops themselves?

Researchers used high-speed video to watch mosquitos wingin’ in the rain—well, through a spray of mist in the lab. They saw that when a skeeter and a water droplet meet, the insect basically hitches a ride for a bit before peeling away off unharmed.

So take a look at those articles, and please post some links to what you are reading and blogging about.
**I put a few updates on Wisconsin in the comments below…just fyi.

Sunday Reads: Three, Eight, Eleven, Fifty and Leap

Good Morning

I spent most of Saturday inside a mall in Atlanta. The place was packed but people were not spending much, aside from the pretzel joint and The American Girl store. Geez, those dolls were everywhere. Some girls even carried two of these freaky “Talky Tina” incarnate dolls, and what a sight…all three wearing the same outfit. Hmmm, I wonder how many of those dolls come to life and wind up telling Telly Savalas, “My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you.” (Yes, I know it is a cheap reference to Twilight Zone, don’t worry I have some other stories to share with you that will also have literary or film references.)

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a link in the comments that I think deserves front page mention. The article is about the latest revelation out of the Catholic Church…and I’m not talking about contraception. Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese’s Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.

Cardinal Bevilacqua died this past January 31st

The revelation is likely to further cloud Bevilacqua’s complicated legacy in the handling of clergy sex abuse and could shape what happens at the historic trial, the first for a cleric accused of covering up sex abuse. Jury selection began this week. Opening statements are March 26.

Prosecutors say that Lynn, as the secretary for clergy, recommended priests for assignments despite knowing or suspecting that they would sexually abuse children. Facing trial with him are two former parish priests accused of molesting a boy in the 1990s, the Rev. James J. Brennan and Edward Avery.

The Defense is arguing that the recently discovered memo is proof that the cover up of repeated child sex abuse was directed by church officials.

This story reads like a pitch for a Showtime movie of the week, or maybe a sick mini-series on Lifetime.

After becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, they say, Lynn began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children. He did it, his lawyers said, because he “felt it was the right thing to do.”

The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, who shared his duties documenting abuse complaints.

Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal’s top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo.

One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. “This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua,” say Molloy’s handwritten notes.

But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.

According to the motion, that safe remained untouched and unnoticed until 2006, when archdiocesan officials found it and hired a locksmith to open it. It’s unclear why the records inside were only recently turned over to Lynn’s lawyers and prosecutors, although church lawyers have said they have been reviewing thousands of files to comply with trial subpoenas.

Back in 2002, Bevilacqua had mentioned a list of 35 suspected priests, of which the archdiocese had giving information on to the Philadelphia District Attorney. However…

…He did not mention any memo from eight years earlier or his order to shred it.

During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn.

“I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up,” he testified.

This now places some concern about the Cardinals videotaped testimony, and whether he perjured himself…and what effect this will have on the prosecution’s case. James Molloy died in 2006. The article mentions an interview he gave before his death that may have hinted at the memo and extra copy of the list of abusive priest.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Molloy described reaching a point when “I couldn’t be sure that I could trust my superiors to do the right thing.” So, he said, he became diligent about documenting his actions.

“I wanted my memos to be there if the archdiocese’s decisions were eventually put on the judicial scales,” Molloy said then. “This way, anyone could come along in the future and say, this was right or this wrong. But they could never say it wasn’t all written down.”

It looks as though Lynn has been used as a scapegoat…but if this is all true it sounds eerily similar to the abuse situation and cover-up at Penn State. .

Think about the parallels between the two cases. Though they are not exact, they seem to mirror one another.

In the Sandusky scandal, an assistant coach walks in on Sandusky anally raping a young boy in the school’s gym shower. He goes to the men in charge, head coach, college president and head of college security…and tells them what he saw. The cover up goes from there…and nothing is done to protect the children who are being abused by Sandusky.

In Lynn’s case, two of the main players, the Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. Malloy are now dead…with Penn State, Head Coach Joe Paterno died last month. Testimony was given in both cases to a grand jury before the men died…it would be something if the Feds find a “smoking” gun or memo in the documents they have subpoenaed from Penn State this past week.

Since I have brought up the Sandusky Child Abuse story, I might as well update you on that.

Feds seek PSU hard drives, financial info in Sandusky case

Penn State adds detail about Sandusky subpoena

Jerry Sandusky scandal:  Feds subpoena Penn State for top officials’ info

I am going to stick with US news for now…so more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Of Birth Control and Self-Cloning Sea Grass

Good Morning

The results are in…If you didn’t follow the three primaries yesterday, or didn’t know there were three primaries yesterday, or knew there were three primaries, but did not give a rat’s ass…here are links to several articles discussing  Santorum’s victories in Colorado,  Missouri and Minnesota.

Rick Santorum wins Colorado Republican caucuses – The Denver Post

Santorum revives campaign with wins in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota – The Washington Post

The High Stakes in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri – NYTimes.com

Twin victories revive Santorum’s White House hopes | Reuters

Jubilant Santorum wins Minnesota, leads in Colo. – Boston.com

Two Santorum Victories Redirect G.O.P. Spotlight – NYTimes.com

Live: Santorum blasts Obama, Romney in victory speech

We have a lot of news to get to this morning, lets start with What’s Next for Proposition 8?

gaymarriageruling-body.jpg

Reuters

Anyone surprised by the tenor and base of Tuesday’s same-sex marriage ruling hasn’t been paying much attention to the years-long legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative which sought by popular vote to end the Golden State’s brief, court-sanctioned recognition of gay marriage. The 2010 trial resulted in a rout of Prop 8’s forces. So, naturally, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the left-coast bastion that conservatives love to hate, was going to follow suit and continue to block the enforcement of Prop 8.

The only serious question, in the 552 days between the trial court’s ruling and today, was how far the 9th Circuit would travel, doctrinally, in declaring Prop 8 to be an unconstitutional violation of the due process and equal protection rights of same-sex couples. Would it follow the logic and reasoning of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, the Republican appointee who presided over the trial in this case and then had to defend himself against allegations that he was biased because he is gay? Or, would the 9th Circuit strike out on its own?

The Volokh Conspiracy » Why Same-Sex Marriage Bans Qualify as Sex Discrimination

Today’s Ninth Circuit decision striking down California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage is unpersuasive because it claims that the law fails to meet even minimal “rational basis” scrutiny. Eugene Volokh does a good job of explaining why. But there is an alternative constitutional rationale for striking down same-sex marriage bans that avoids this problem. Proposition 8 is an example of sex discrimination, and must be evaluated under the higher standards of scrutiny applied to gender discrimination by the Supreme Court.

Although the sex discrimination argument has been advanced by several academic advocates of gay marriage, nonacademics tend to be skeptical because the same-sex marriage bans seem to be targeted against gays, not men or women. Hostility towards gays is certainly part of the motivation for bans on same-sex marriage. But that does not prevent these laws from qualifying as sex discrimination. In terms of the way the law is actually structured, a same-sex marriage ban in fact discriminates on the basis of gender rather than orientation. And one can discriminate on the basis of sex even if the motivation for doing so is something other than sexism.

Ilya Somin had another article published yesterday which you may also find interesting, it also moves us towards the next topic I want to focus on this morning. The Volokh Conspiracy » Issues on which People are Most Resistant to Persuasion

This semester, I am once again teaching Constitutional Law II: The Fourteenth Amendment. I often tell my students in this class that there are three issues on which most people are particularly resistant to rational persuasion: abortion, the death penalty, and affirmative action. And it so happens that the course covers all three.

Lately there has been a backlash from the Catholic Church regarding the Obama Healthcare policy on contraception. It makes me mad to think of just how bad the war on women is getting in the country.

Excuse me, but all this crap about birth control has nothing to do with religious devotion or religious consciences.  It has more to do with the GOP’s grand plan to control every aspect of a woman’s life. I can guarantee that men are getting Viagra and other limp dick drugs and treatment, where is the backlash on that? So the double standard is a woman can’t get birth control coverage, because of the religious freedom and rights owed the crazy right-wing, mostly male PLUBs.  What about her right to privacy and liberty from male oppression? (And if that is too strong a phrase for some of you, how about liberty from male interference? Or, male domination? Or, male control?)

It is discrimination, plain and simple…

And make no mistake: health plans that exclude services used only by women constitute a form of discrimination. That’s why in 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that employers that cover prescription drugs but do not cover contraception are in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Such employers have “circumscribed the treatment options available to women, but not to men,” it said. The EEOC’s ruling made no exemptions for religiously affiliated organizations. Indeed, in 2009, responding to a lawsuit, the EEOC ruled that the Catholic college Belmont Abbey discriminated against women when it refused to cover birth control.

Because that is what it all comes down to.

Because if it really had to do with religious righteousness and living a good Christian life, these same concerned Catholics, Mormons and Christian GOP nitwits would be putting all this energy into real good things. Like protecting children from pedophiles and going after the obvious cover ups and sick acceptance of child abuse within the Catholic Church. Retired Cardinal Edward Egan Faces Criticism For Taking Back Abuse Apology

Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan is facing criticism from representatives of clergy sexual abuse victims for a recent interview in which he said he regretted apologizing for the priest abuse scandal in 2002 when he was bishop of Bridgeport.

In the interview with Connecticut Magazine, Egan said “I don’t think we did anything wrong” in handling abuse cases. He said he was not obligated to report abuse claims and maintained he inherited the cases from his predecessor and did not have any cases on his watch, according to the magazine.

Clergy in Connecticut have been required to report abuse claims to authorities since the early 1970s, according to attorneys who represented numerous abuse victims.

“Egan never did so and his failure to do so constitutes a violation of the law…”

This latest statement from a Representative of the Church is exactly what I am talking about. Where is the massive protest from those who claim to be “good Christians.” (And those are sarcastic quotes mind you…)

In the recent interview, Egan was asked about a letter he wrote to parishioners in 2002 saying “if in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”

“First of all I should never have said that,” Egan responded, according to the magazine. “I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

Egan said in the interview that he sent accused priests to treatment.

“And as a result, not one of them did a thing out of line. Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control.”

Egan also said he was not surprised that “the scandal was going to be fun in the news, not fun but the easiest thing to write about.”

As for reporting claims to authorities, he said, “I don’t think even now you’re obligated to report them in Connecticut.”

“I sound very defensive and I don’t want to because I’m very proud of how this thing was handled,” Egan said.

At another point, Egan said, “I believe the sex abuse thing was incredibly good.” Asked if he meant because it resulted in positive changes, he responded, “Good that … the record, I think, is an excellent record.”

Egan’s statements describing the scandal as “fun” for the news or “incredibly good” shows he’s out of touch, the attorneys said.

“For the cardinal to `take back’ his apology is just another slap in the face of every victim who has endured the physical and emotional upheaval and betrayal of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest,” the attorneys said.

Oops, I have wandered a bit…Here is the link I was talking about. The GOP Candidates weigh in on Birth Control and Religious Freedom. Contraception issue heats up as Santorum makes headway – Political Hotsheet – CBS News

You can read it at the link, I don’t even what to bother with quoting these assholes.

One thing however, all this talk of child rapists flows into the next link I have for you today…h/t Boston Boomer: Prosecutors Press For Tougher Bail Conditions After Sandusky Is Seen Watching Children In Schoolyard | Fox News

 Prosecutors asked Tuesday to have Jerry Sandusky kept indoors as part of his bail conditions, citing complaints that the former Penn State football assistant was seen outside and watching children in a schoolyard from the back porch of his home, where he remains under house arrest while awaiting trial on child molestation charges.

The state attorney general’s office argued in a court filing that Sandusky’s bail conditions should be revised so that he is not allowed outside except to seek medical treatment. Prosecutors said they opposed Sandusky’s request to be allowed contact with his grandchildren as he awaits trial on 52 child sex-abuse charges.

“Several individuals from the adjacent elementary school have expressed concerns for the safety of children at their school and the adjacent neighborhood,” prosecutors wrote. “Such concerns will only mushroom if defendant is permitted to roam at will outside his house.”

The allegation he was watching children was outlined in an exhibit attached to the filing, a memo from a state investigator to a county probation officer that said a teacher and intern had reported concern for the children’s safety.

“They advised the neighbor that yesterday they had the children outside for recess as it was a warmer day, and that they both witnessed Mr. Sandusky on his rear house deck watching the children play,” wrote investigator Anthony Sassano on Jan. 26.

Sandusky should be behind bars…it is disgusting. The man is obviously unable to control his behavior when it comes to young boys, I wonder what kind of behavior he would encounter in the general population at the local jail.

Moving on to other US news: GOP’s War on Voting, Minnesota Edition: The Twelve Ways of ALEC’s Kiffmeyer to Disenfranchise Us | MyFDL

Phoenix Woman has some interesting points here…

As Minnesota holds its 2012 election caucuses tonight, I thought this might be apposite.

I was planning to wait until this weekend to discuss the State Rep from ALEC’s Mary Kiffmeyer and her strange war on Native Americans and their defenders, but I decided to take advantage of what Jon Walker had to say about the Virginia front in the GOP’s War on Voting, and of a document that’s circulating through the local online media, and which I received through the e-mail transom.

This document summarizes twelve specific actions taken by Mary Kiffmeyer during her time as Minnesota’s Secretary of State (1998 to 2006) that put the integrity of voting in Minnesota at risk during that time. Here they are, in order:

Go to the link to read about all the twelve ways of voter disfranchisement.

With all the Komen, Planned Parenthood, Catholic Birth Control news going on lately, you may have missed this news out of Indiana. The Maddow Blog – Actual voter fraud

Republican policymakers, at the federal and state level, are often desperate to find real-world, high-profile examples of voter fraud. The good news for the GOP is that a legitimate example has come to public light. The bad news is, the example is from their side of the aisle.

The top elections official in Indiana was convicted of multiple charges in a voter fraud case on Saturday, bringing uncertainty to one of the state’s most powerful offices.

A Hamilton County jury found Charlie White, the Indiana secretary of state, guilty of six of seven felony charges: two counts of perjury and one each of false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot and theft. He was acquitted of one fraud charge. [...]

It was not immediately clear what would happen in the state office. Mr. White has resisted calls to resign by Democrats and fellow Republicans, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, but state law bars anyone convicted of a felony from remaining in office.

That whole Political Affective Disorder thing is really hitting me bad tonight.

So I will just speed this post up and link to some other kinds of stories.

The Very Last World War I Veteran Has Died – Global – The Atlantic Wire

Reuters

A British woman who served with the Royal Air Force for the last two months of World War I was the last known veteran of the war when she died in her sleep Saturday night. Florence Green joined the RAF at the age of 17 and died just before her 111th birthday, which would have been Feb. 19. She had been a mess steward with the air force, the BBC reported, serving in two U.K. air bases after she joined up on Sept. 13 1918. The Allies signed the armistice with Germany on Nov. 11, 1918. Green follows Claude Choules, a Royal Navy sailor who was the last WWI combatant before he died in May 2011, and Frank Buckles, the last American veteran of the war, who died in February 2011. All were 110 years old.

The Atlantic also has a series of articles which may interest you: Civil War – The Atlantic

Marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Atlantic’s special commemorative edition, featuring an introduction by President Barack Obama, showcases some of the most compelling stories from the magazine’s archives. Contributors include such celebrated American writers as Mark Twain, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.

Through reporting, essays, fiction, and poetry, The Atlantic chronicled the conflict firsthand—from the country’s deepening divisions in the years leading up to the conflict, to the horrors of the battlefield, to the reshaping of society after the war’s conclusion. Now this 148-page edition captures all of that. With contemporary essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jeffrey Goldberg, along with memorable images from the National Portrait Gallery, this rich collection is perfect for anyone interested in the dramatic story of America’s most transformative moment.

For a link to the essays, look on this page here: Table of Contents – Magazine – The Atlantic

An Australian man is planning on Parachuting from space

It is the ultimate parachute jump.

From the edge of space, Felix Baumgartner will leap from a balloon and plummet 36,500 metres.

After 35 seconds he will break the sound barrier, and finally, at 1520 metres, he will deploy a parachute and – hopefully – land safely.

The jump will take 10 minutes…I don’t know about you, but have you ever had those nightmares where you feel like you are falling? Then you wake up disoriented for a few seconds? That is what I imagine this free fall must feel like. Ten minutes of that is one hell of a nightmare to me.

Two science/environment links will end today’s post.

The Frog of War | Mother Jones

When biologist Tyrone Hayes discovered that a top-selling herbicide messes with sex hormones, its manufacturer went into battle mode. Thus began one of the weirdest feuds in the history of science.

Darnell lives deep in the basement of a life sciences building at the University of California-Berkeley, in a plastic tub on a row of stainless steel shelves. He is an African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, sometimes called the lab rat of amphibians. Like most of his species, he’s hardy and long-lived, an adept swimmer, a poor crawler, and a voracious eater. He’s a good breeder, too, having produced both children and grandchildren. There is, however, one unusual thing about Darnell.

He’s female.

Genetically, Darnell is male. But after being raised in water contaminated with the herbicide atrazine at a level of 2.5 parts per billion—slightly less than what’s allowed in our drinking water—he developed a female body, inside and out. He is also the mother of his children, having successfully mated with other males and spawned clutches of eggs.

Yes, you need to read that article in MoJo, it is a long one…but man it is disturbing.

So from confused sex hormones and herbicide atrazine, to asexual grass…ah, lets call that asexual old-ass grass…Self-Cloning Seagrass May Be World’s Oldest Living Thing | Environment | English

Australian and European scientists say they believe ancient seagrass growing on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea may be the oldest living organism on the planet.

The researchers say their findings indicate the vast beds of submerged vegetation are most likely at least 100,000 years old.  That is nearly 60,000 years older than a Tasmanian plant that currently holds the title of world’s oldest living thing.

Hmmm, I wonder if we should get a patch of this Posidonia oceania and plant it over in the Creation Museum…and make sure that there are little English saddles on each blade of grass. Should go nice with the saddles on Dinosaurs.

(These religious nuts are destroying our world! Mayan End of World Prophecy? Has to be the cause of the destructive actions of religious extremist all over the world.)

What do you think? See you in the comments later on…