Wednesday Reads: Lysol Disinfectant…Still “the girl he married”

offending_lysol4Good Morning

Oh, I am really trying to stay awake here, but just not making it work at all!  This sinus crap has its grip on me dammit. So…this is going to be a link dump…with a huge image gallery to boot!

It looks like there is some wingnut asshole planning a revolution? I guess you can call it that, I don’t know what else to call this shit: Operation American Spring promises to drive Obama from office this Friday

Self-styled revolutionary patriots plan to converge on Washington, D.C., this week to drive President Barack Obama and disloyal lawmakers out of office.

“We are calling for the removal of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Holder as a start toward constitutional restoration,” said retired Army Col. Harry Riley, leader of the Operation American Spring protest group. “They have all abandoned the US Constitution, are unworthy to be retained in a position that calls for servant status.”

Lysol AdOperation American Spring aims to pressure those lawmakers who remain – or are replaced by officials of their own choosing – “to sponsor and pass very Constitutionally crafted State legislation to dissolve the size, powers, scope and spending of the U.S. Government by 2/3rds.”

Yes, that is no mere coincidence that my first link of this morning’s news reads is about a douchebag… and all the images you will see on the thread today deal with douches. I am very literal when I feel like shit.

The activists say they expect 10 million to 30 million like-minded Americans to join them Friday in the nation’s capital for a rally patterned after Occupy Wall Street and “Arab Spring” protests.

They also plan a sister event the same day in Bunkerville, Nevada, where militia groups have gathered to support scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy in his dispute with the federal government.

Organizers also anticipate “incremental nullification” by state legislatures of “all withholding taxes, employment taxes, employer taxes, and income taxes.”

“This will effectively DOUBLE the size of ALL American Middle Class family weekly paychecks and cause our local city and town economies to boom,” the group promises on its Facebook page.

Tea Party Nation promoted Operation American Spring last month in an email to its members from founder Judson Phillips, who hinted at a violent response from the federal government, and sent invitations in January to the protest.

“There is no way a militia with small arms can defeat the kind of arms the U.S. government can bring to bear on such a battle, but one has to admire the courage of those people who showed up to confront them,” Phillips said, comparing the protest to the American Revolution. “That’s quintessentially American!”

000kpcseGawd, can’t these assholes be arrested for treason or something? (I know that they can’t.)  You really need to read the rest of that Raw Story article, it is beyond belief…well, no it is not. We all know what these batshit crazy bastards are capable of…Case in point: Ron Paul fanboys think those Sandy Hook truthers are on to something, so hmmm…

After the post went about about the dick who stole the sign from Grace McDonnell playground and then called the girl’s mother to tell her her daughter never existed, I was alerted to a little somethin’ somethin’ at The Daily Paul.

What is the Daily Paul, you might rightly ask?  It’s just a hub for Ron Paul lovin’ and also ‘Peace … Gold …Love,’ just like Jesus and Ron Paul preached when they were talkin’ ’bout rEVOLution.  Over at the Daily Paul you can get your fill of guvmint being wrong stuff, sovereign citizen updates, and some truly sweet Ron Paul swag, ownership of which will come in handy if you wear it to your interview for an ambassadorship in Rand Paul Administration.

Providing, of course, President Rand doesn’t cut off wasteful communication with foreigners because they are not Americans.

And you can also find out that the whole Sandy Hook massacre thing that left 27 people dead seems a little hinky and is probably not true and here is just the guy to ‘splain it all to you from this man-castle in Florida.

Meet Wolfgang W. Halbig.

This dude is not your average douche of the truthers…he has credentials. The former law enforcement kind…and he has been “inside” the public school system…as the Raw Story article continues,

He’s worked in public education as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, principal of an alternative school and as the Director for School Safety and Security for the Seminole County Public Schools, a school district of approximately 65,000 students.”

He has also been a Florida State Trooper, which gives him law enforcement cred, because Florida is the crazy crime center of the universe.

[…]

6a011168ca5559970c014e86b0b15c970d-800wiWhat set Wolfgang’s conspiracy gears ratcheting up into overdrive was a couple of Florida homicide detectives stopping by his home and telling him to quit sending harassing letters to Connecticut officials and school board members and even the Sandy Hook nurse who hid in a closet with some kids. You can read a few of his increasingly shrill letters here.

My favorite is to Sandy Hook Elementary nurse

To: Sally Cox <xxxx@newtown.k12.ct.us>
Subject: SHS Parent Contact

I am a trainer for the US Justice Department COPS IN SCHOOL PROGRAM.

Are you a registered Nurse?

Why in the closet for four hours?

Why close your eyes when you have seen blood before you are a nurse?

Wolfgang W halbig

Seems like a reasonable request of a woman who was on-site when a crazy person strolled around and murdered twenty elementary children and six of her friends and colleagues. WHY SO QUIET LADY! WHAT ARE YOU HIDING!??!

6a011168ca5559970c014e89bc7cd1970dAnd lest you think that Halbig is just a lone crank in the wilderness, he set up an account at gofundme to raise money to complete his ‘investigation,’ because he needs the money to hire lawyers to depose employees of the school and the officials who investigated the massacre and, hey, maybe a few of those fake grieving parents.

Who wouldn’t want to relive those days to satisfy the curiosity of some guy who lives a thousand miles away?

Total raised so far: $20,370.00, with the page shared 1.5K times on Facebook.

What the fuck is it with these people?

423410746_715b406ed7They are so willing to donate money to the cause of shit like this, but will not consider a slight tax for assistance to feed hungry kids in their own states?

Go and read the whole article, I picked through it, there is more audacity to shake your head at…also Alex Jones.

Since I am on the douchebag crazy kick now: Tea Party Scores Wins in Tuesday primaries | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC

That should make you cringe.

What about this for a turn: Not Crazy Enough | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

Why did Charleston Republicans censure South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham? Was he caught wearing diapers with a hooker?

No, of course not. Republicans don’t censure for that anyway. Lindsey Graham was censured for not being crazy enough.

37387729_0109ba28d2_o_edited-1The censure document against Graham included more than two dozen points, such as Graham supporting President Barack Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court and also working with Democrats, according to the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina.

The vote to censure Graham was 39-32. It was conducted by secret ballot.

Graham is charged with committing the most unholy of sins; working with Democrats for a very brief moment before going back to bleating about Benghazi.

Seriously, I feel like we beat a dead horse here. It just amazes me, these right wingers are like the EverReady bunny…they never quit.

Now that it is prom season, Teen Girl Kicked Out Of Prom So Her Dress Wouldn’t Lead Boys To ‘Think Impure Thoughts’ | ThinkProgress

The dress was not bad either, I have seen way worse:

clare-e1400003181333-638x711A 17-year-old high schooler from Virginia says she was kicked out of her prom because the parental chaperones were worried she was inspiring “impure thoughts” among the boys in attendance. Even though her dress adhered to the “fingertip length” dress code requirement, she was asked to leave.

Clare recounts her experience in a guest post on her sister’s blog. After Clare and her boyfriend bought tickets to the Richmond Homeschool Prom, she bought a new dress that she made sure was long enough according to the event’s “fingertip length” rule. But Clare is 5’9″, and even though the hem of her dress was within the guidelines, she says her long legs led some chaperones to assume she was breaking the dress code.

After Clare and her friends hung out a little bit on the dance floor — she writes that they weren’t even dancing, just “swaying with the music and talking and enjoying ourselves” — Clare was pulled away by one of the dance’s organizers, who told her that some of the fathers chaperoning the event had complained about her. They reportedly said that her dancing was too “provocative” and she was going to “cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts.”

When Clare protested that she wasn’t even doing anything, she was told that her dress was too short and she needed to leave. She says she demanded to speak with the woman who was in charge of the prom, but the other chaperones refused to let her.

article-0-14AA3A80000005DC-298_306x688“I was told that the way I dressed and moved my body was causing men to think inappropriately about me, implying that it is my responsibility to control other people’s thoughts and drives,” Clare writes in her blog post. “I’m not responsible for some perverted 45 year old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager. And if you think I am, then maybe you’re part of the problem.”

The so-called “fingertip rule” is a common dress code requirement in public schools to monitor girls’ hemlines. But Clare isn’t the first student to complain that it doesn’t accurately reflect different body types. Last week, an eighth grader in California wrote a letter to the editor of the Merced Sun-Star arguing that it’s a bad way for schools to regulate shorts. “Some girls have longer arms, almost to their knees, and others have arms that end about quarter of the way down their thighs. How is enforcing this rule equal and fair if fingertip-length varies?” she pointed out.

douche37I love what she wrote about her ass…and about the men being part of the problem. Kudos to you Clare!

And one thing honey, your ass is nowhere near big babe!

In a surprising ruling: Texas judges halt execution over mental health appeal | Al Jazeera America

Go figure, I was certain that execution was a go for launch.

The US is on a special list, according to the UN: GENEVA: U.S. alone among Western countries on lack of paid maternity leave, UN finds | Now that, is not a surprise.

So, big news in underwater archeology:Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria – Archaeology – Science – The Independent

More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.

june-13-1941-lysol“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working  with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.

If that does not tickle your fancy, perhaps this will? Video: Dumbo octopus | Earth | EarthSky

If you have never thought of an octopus as being cute, here’s your chance.

This dumbo octopus was spotted during the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2014 expedition and identified as the highlight of the cruise by many of the scientists and viewers alike.

Scientists say it displays a body posture that has never before been observed in a cirrate octopod (Cirrata is one of the two main divisions of octopuses.) And non-scientists say it displays a cuteness never before observed in an octopus!

And, if a dumbo swimming octopus doesn’t do it for ya, maybe this? Most detailed view yet of Milky Way’s magnetic fields | Science Wire | EarthSky

The Milky Way's magnetic field as seen by ESA's Planck telescope. Image redit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

A new map of the entire sky offers a remarkably detailed picture of the magnetic fields that shape the Milky Way, including field lines that run parallel to the plane of the galaxy and great loops and whorls associated with nearby clouds of gas and dust.

Researchers created the map using data from the Planck Space Telescope, which since 2009 has charted the light from the universe shortly after the Big Bang known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

But Planck also observes light from much closer than the farthest reaches of time and space. With an instrument called the high frequency instrument (HFI), Planck detects light from microscopic dust particles within our galaxy. The density of the dust is incredibly low; a volume of space equal to a large sports stadium or arena would contain one grain.

But then, you may be the sentimental type, so something like twins being born holding hands is syrupy enough for you: These Rare Newborn “Mono Mono” Twins Held Hands Just After Birth

These Rare Newborn "Mono Mono" Twins Held Hands Just After Birth

Identical twins are rare, but monoamniotic identical twins, who share the same amniotic sac and placenta, are even more so—they make up just 1% of all twin pregnancies. That’s why everyone is so excited that a lucky Ohio mom gave birth Friday to a pair of “mono mono” twins who clutched each other’s hands as doctors held them up.

“They’re already best friends,” said Akron, Ohio, mom Sarah Thistlethwaite, 32.

offending_lysol3-2-e1389382456610Then again, nothing makes me feel feisty like reading about old people in wheelchairs and walkers kicking ass and taking names.

Silver Patrol: Crime-fighting seniors on the beat look out for one another | Al Jazeera America

ean Smoak, a 70-year-old great-grandmother, made her way across the parking lot of her senior housing complex on a recent Friday night with her cane in hand, looking out for drug dealers and prostitutes.

The dealers, she said, cruise down Black Rock Avenue from Park Avenue in their “fancy sports cars” and stop by the lot’s entrance, where they reach out their car windows and exchange drugs for cash.

Smoak, a retired health care worker, said she’s fed up. She’s been jotting down license plate numbers, which the leader of her senior crime watch group plans to pass along to police.

“When they come and do that, other dangerous things can happen,” she said of the dealers. “The person that is waiting for it can come and steal money from people coming into the building.”

Smoak has also been taking notes on the dates and times she sees prostitutes on the corner, suspecting that some stray from a nearby homeless shelter.

“They come out with their Daisy Dukes and short skirts and tights,” she said, “and they’re standing there like they’re talking to themselves and they wait for a car to drive by.”

Smoak is one of 10 members on the Silver Crime Patrol at the Eleanor, a 63-unit, low-income senior housing complex on Park Avenue on Bridgeport’s west end.

See, birth and old age…a cycle of life…if you will.  Pictures at the link, you won’t be disappointed.

On another fight, this one for life too: Henna Crowns Help Cancer Patients Bring Beauty to a Difficult Time

Henna Crowns Help Cancer Patients Bring Beauty to a Difficult Time

Henna Heals, which boasts 150 henna artists around the world, offers a substitute to the traditional hats, scarves, and wigs that many use (my mother swore by the entire line of Raquel Welch wigs when she lost her hair) to cover their heads. Artists create intricate temporary crowns on the bare head with homemade henna paste. The designs last for about two weeks and, according to the organization’s founder, Frances Darwin, are both empowering and healing:

This is all about them reclaiming a part of themselves that would normally be perceived as ill or damaged or not nice to look at and making it more feminine and beautiful.

Nice.

And finally, an explanation of the douche advertisements: Early contraceptive ads, for your viewing pleasure

.Early contraceptive ads, for your viewing pleasure…Lysol advertising in the 1920s and 30s – specifically, on the use of Lysol as a contraceptive douching agent. Needless to say, it didn’t work so well, and lots of women ended up with vaginal burns and lots of other medical problems from applying Lysol to their lady bits.Early contraceptive ads, for your viewing pleasure

 

 

 

1

ETA: these are 4 of the 8 ads I looked at personally, from 1926-1934, but Lysol contraceptive advertising continued through the 1950s.

 

 

 

 

More vintage advertisements I found myself below, hope you enjoy them.

If you have any links you want to share please do, and….

Y’all have a “Lysol” clean day!


Saturday Reads: Obama’s “Grand Bargain” Rears Its Ugly Head Again, and Other News

coffins

Good Morning!!

Just in time for Halloween, Obama’s nightmare “Grand Bargain” once again rears its ugly head. Yesterday morning Bloomberg’s Joshua Green followed a hunch and attended a briefing by the President’s top economic adviser (who is not an economist). According to Green, Sperling told Democrats “they’ll have to swallow entitlement cuts.”

In his usual elliptical and prolix way, Sperling seemed to be laying out the contours of a bargain with Republicans that’s quite a bit different that what most Democrats seem prepared to accept. What stood out to me was how he kept winding back around to the importance of entitlement cuts as part of a deal, as if he were laying the groundwork to blunt liberal anger. Right now, the official Democratic position is that they’ll accept entitlement cuts only in exchange for new revenue—something most Republicans reject. If Sperling mentioned revenue at all, I missed it.

But he dwelt at length—and with some passion—on the need for more stimulus, though he avoided using that dreaded word. He seemed to hint at a budget deal that would trade near-term “investment” (the preferred euphemism for “stimulus’) for long-term entitlement reform. That would be an important shift and one that would certainly upset many Democrats.

Here’s some of what Sperling had to say. He led off with the importance of entitlement cuts. (All emphasis is mine):

“Sometimes here [in Washington] we start to think that the end goal of our public policy is to hit a particular budget or spending or revenue metric—as if those are the goals in and of itself. But it’s important to remember that each of these metrics … are means to larger goals. … Right now, I think there is among a lot of people a consensus as to what the ingredients of a pro-growth fiscal policy are. It would be a fiscal policy that—yes—did give more confidence in the long run that we have a path on entitlement spending and revenues that gives confidence in our long-term fiscal position and that we’re not pushing off unbearable burdens to the next generation. That is very important.”

After Green’s article was posted, White House spokesperson Amy Brundage tried to minimize the talk of cuts in the safety net in the following e-mail:

“Gene was reiterating what our position has been all along: that any big budget deal is going to have to include significant revenues if Republicans insist on entitlement reforms. And any budget deal needs to have first and foremost the goal of creating good jobs for middle class families and growing the economy—that’s our north star in any budget deal, big or small.”

Uh huh. They know Americans are paying attention to the constant threat of cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We need to stay vigilant and keep pushing back hard.

At Daily Kos, Joan McCarter responded: No, White House advisor Gene Sperling, entitlement cuts are not necessary.

You know what would be a really, really crappy idea? Making cuts to programs that are keeping millions from poverty in order to make a bad economy marginally better. But that’s what President Obama’s top economic advisor—Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council—is telling Democrats they’ll have to swallow….

Yeah, that would upset many Democrats. It would upset a helluva lot of voters, too. Millions and millions of them who have every reason right now to vote against Republicans. It would probably also not go over too well with the next generation who’s going to be far less impacted by the national debt than by having no hope of a secure retirement because a handful of austerity fetishists sold them up the river when they were young.

Sperling is saying that this will have to be done because “we still need to give this recovery more momentum.” Because of course the answer to the recovery is sacrificing some old people. By all means, get their skin in the game. They maybe have an inch or two of skin to spare.

Sign the petition from Senator Bernie Sanders, Daily Kos and an enormous coalition of progressives demanding that Congress and the President oppose any grand bargain which cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Here’s an article at The Atlantic that Obama and Sperling should read: Raising the Medicare Age: A Popular Idea With Shockingly Few Benefits

Increasing the Medicare age would barely save the government any money, while increasing healthcare spending overall by keeping seniors in less-efficient private insurance (if they even have it). Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the policy is fine.

It may seem obvious that raising the Medicare age should save money. After all, the projected rise of the long-term debt is mostly about the projected rise of federal health-care spending. If we raise the Medicare age, Washington can wait longer to pay for seniors’ health care, which means they’ll pay less, overall.

Any time there’s any chance for any kind of budget bargain, “grand” or otherwise, the discussion inside the Beltway inevitably turns to hiking the Medicare age. (Call it Peterson’s Law: As a fiscal debate grows longer, the probability of a CEO proposing a higher Social Security and Medicare age approaches one). Right on cue, this got trial-ballooned during the debt ceiling talks in 2011, and then again during the fiscal cliff talks in 2012. Professional deficit hawks think of raising the Medicare age as a sign of seriousness. It’s not so much about the money it saves as the message it supposedly sends markets: that the debt will be fixed.

Except it’s all a pack of lies. Read all about it at the link.

It’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and caused so much havoc that it was “the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.” In July 2013, it came out that four charities had been holding back millions in donations that were collected specifically for Sandy relief. Now NY is forcing them to cough up some of the money. From the NY Daily News:

Four charities that had been under fire for sitting on millions of dollars of Hurricane Sandy relief funds have agreed to pony up $10 million to aid victims of the storm.

The charities — including the American Red Cross and a fund created by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees — reached an agreement with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The deal came after revelations in July that 40% of the $575 million in Sandy aid collected by 90 charities had been disbursed within six months of the storm.

“We have been dogged about making sure that when they raise money and tell the world they are going to spend it on Sandy recovery, they in fact spend it on Sandy recovery,” Schneiderman said during an appearance Thursday in hard-hit Long Beach, L.I.

Brees’ charity had seriously dropped the ball, having received a single $300,000 donation but only allocating $75,000 of it, officials said.

Under the agreement with Schneiderman, the Brees Dream Foundation agreed to disperse the remaining $225,000 by October 2014, the second anniversary of the storm.

In less serious news–it IS Saturday after all, Gawker has learned that Fox News’ Shepard Smith began carrying on an office romance with a young producer at Fox, Giovanni “Gio” Graziano. Apparently, the two have been seen together all over Manhattan.

Gawker has learned that Smith is dating a 26-year-old Penn State grad and Fox Business producer named Giovanni “Gio” Graziano. According to multiple sources with knowledge of their relationship, the couple met sometime after Graziano started working at Fox Report in October 2011 as a production assistant. He’s the man with whom Smith frequents Bathtub Gin.

“Yes, that’s Shepard’s boyfriend,” Katya Minskova, the Bathtub Gin waitress Smith berated in March, confirmed to Gawker when shown a photo of Graziano. Another source who had seen them together at the Chelsea speakeasy confirmed Graziano’s identity as well. Both sources say they saw Graziano and Smith together at the bar on multiple occasions, and that they appeared to be romantically involved.

While Smith and Graziano’s boss Roger Ailes, a notorious homophobe, was apparently kept in the dark about the relationship—“higher ups had no idea,” a source close to Graziano said—the pair doesn’t appear to have gone to great lengths to keep the workplace romance from their co-workers.

Shep Smith arranged for Graziano to be transferred to Fox Business a year ago, so the two wouldn’t be directly working together. Now it’s not clear if Graziano is even working at Fox anymore.

Graziano’s current status at Fox is unclear. His LinkedIn profile indicates that he is currently employed at Fox Business (after three years as a production assistant at Fox News, including one year at Smith’s show). But the source close to Graziano claimed that he abruptly left Fox in mid-July. Graziano “dropped off the planet, cut off all his friends, to be with Shep,” the source said. “His former work friends are clueless about his current whereabouts.”

Very interesting . . .

I noticed this story at The Atlantic a few days ago, and saved it for today. Go to the link to check out this GIF of most popular baby girl names from 1960 to the present, based on data compiled by the Social Security Administration. Rebecca Rosen writes:

My friend Judy used to always say that whenever she met another Judy, she knew exactly how old that Judy was—to the day.

Now that level of precision might be a bit of a stretch, but, as the above map wonderfully shows, there’s good reason for that line of thinking. The most popular baby girl names in the United States are flashes in the pan—each one appearing on the map briefly, before being swept out by an up-and-comer.

The map was built in Adobe Illustrator by Deadspin‘s Reuben Fischer-Baum using data from the Social Security Administration. “Color palette,” Fischer-Baum wrote to me over email, “has to be credited to Stephen Few, from his excellent data viz book Show Me The Numbers.” Earlier drafts gave each name a unique color, he says, but in the end “it was a lot cleaner and more interesting to limit the palette to just the most popular name for any given year, and put the rest in grayscale so you could see how the different ‘eras’ of top names progressed.”

Over at Jezebel, Fischer-Baum describes the picture that emerges:

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half. If you’re named Jennifer and you were born between 1970 and 1984, don’t worry! I’m sure you have a totally cool, unique middle name.

Finally, here’s a really scary story for you from Talk to Action: A Majority of Americans 18-29 Years Old Now Believe in Demon Possession, Shows Survey.

Are Americans becoming less religious? While church affiliation is probably declining, don’t expect the atheist revolution anytime soon:

Over one half (63 percent, to be exact) of young Americans 18-29 years old now believe in the notion that invisible, non-corporeal entities called “demons” can take partial or total control of human beings, revealed an October 2012Public Policy Polling survey that also showed this belief isn’t declining among the American population generally; it’s growing.

Please read the whole creepy article at the link. It will scare you silly!

Those are my recommended reads for today. Please let us know what stories you’re following today by posting the links in the comment thread.


Tuesday Reads

adolphe-monet-reading-in-the-garden(1)

Good Morning!!

I have a varied selection of stories for you today. I’ll begin with one that doesn’t involve politics, racism, murder, woman-hating, or any other depressing topics. A new study released yesterday provides additional evidence that Dolphins may see each other as unique individuals. From BBC News: Dolphins ‘call each other by name’

It had been-long suspected that dolphins use distinctive whistles in much the same way that humans use names.

Previous research found that these calls were used frequently, and dolphins in the same groups were able to learn and copy the unusual sounds.

But this is the first time that the animals response to being addressed by their “name” has been studied.

Dr Vincent Janik University of St Andrews

To investigate, researchers recorded a group of wild bottlenose dolphins, capturing each animal’s signature sound.

They then played these calls back using underwater speakers.

“We played signature whistles of animals in the group, we also played other whistles in their repertoire and then signature whistles of different populations – animals they had never seen in their lives,” explained Dr Janik.

The researchers found that individuals only responded to their own calls, by sounding their whistle back.

According to Janik,

“(Dolphins) live in this three-dimensional environment, offshore without any kind of landmarks and they need to stay together as a group.

“These animals live in an environment where they need a very efficient system to stay in touch.”

More from Discover Magazine:

Although humans start naming things almost as a matter of course during early development, the process of creating and using a name is actually quite complex. Scientists refer to names as learned vocal labels, meaning vocalizations that refer to specific objects. Both parrots and dolphins have used learned vocal labels while in captivity, and researchers had no reason to believe that the animals couldn’t do the same in their natural environments. Now biologists Stephanie King and Vincent Janik from the University of Aberdeen have found that, indeed, wild dolphins use the equivalent of a human name to address each other.

What’s interesting to me is that if these dolphins can recognize each other as individuals and recognize their own names, this suggests a level of self-consciousness that is seen in very few animals other than humans. Even human children do not develop the ability to recognize themselves (PDF) in a mirror or on film until they are at least 18 months old and the development of true self-consciousness and awareness that others have similar thoughts and feelings (theory of mind) takes much longer.

The Washington Post reports on a depressing, but not surprising, poll on attitudes toward the Trayvon Martin case. Zimmerman verdict poll: Stark reaction by race.

The not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman has produced dramatically different reactions among blacks and whites, with African Americans overwhelmingly disapproving of the jury’s decision and a bare majority of whites saying they approve of the outcome, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll….

The new survey underscores not only the gap between whites and blacks, but also how passionate many African Americans are about the case. Among African Americans, 86 percent say they disapprove of the verdict — with almost all of themsaying they strongly disapprove — and 87 percent saying the shooting was unjustified.

In contrast, 51 percent of whites say they approve of the verdict while just 31 percent disapprove. There is also a partisan overlay to the reaction among whites: 70 percent of white Republicans but only 30 percent of white Democrats approve of the verdict. Among all whites, one-third say the shooting was unjustified, one-third say it was justified and the other third say they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

It figures that Republicans would be driving the results among whites. Republicans have truly become the party of white males who hate anyone who isn’t white and male. You have to wonder why any African American or any woman would choose to be a Republican. Unfortunately the poll didn’t break down the results by gender and geography. Would more women have disapproved of the verdict? It was an all-woman jury, but also a Florida jury. A more complex analysis would have been helpful.

Republicans–at least the ones who watch Fox News–are old too. It’s hard to believe, but even though Fox leads the other cable news channels in viewers, the average age of Fox viewers is 65-plus! From the NYT:

Fox News declined to make executives available for comment, but several recent signs — including changing personalities for some of its weekday programs — suggest the network may have decided the time has come to confront the issue of age.

Just how old is its audience? It is impossible to be precise because Nielsen stops giving an exact figure for median age once it passes 65. But for six of the last eight years, Fox News has had a median age of 65-plus and the number of viewers in the 25-54 year old group has been falling consistently, down five years in a row in prime time, from an average of 557,000 viewers five years ago to 379,000 this year. That has occurred even though Fox’s overall audience in prime time is up this year, to 2.02 million from 1.89 million three years ago….

“The numbers indicate they haven’t been replacing the younger viewers,” Mr. Moffett said of Fox News. Many of the loyal viewers the network has always had are simply aging up beyond the 54-year cutoff for many ad buyers. The result is an audience edging consistently above that 65-plus number.

News audiences always trend old, and the viewers of Fox’s competitors are hardly in the full flower of youth. MSNBC’s median age for its prime-time shows this year is 60.6; CNN’s is 59.8.

In terms of the rest of television, Fox News also is quite a bit older than networks considered to have a base of older viewers. CBS has frequently been needled for having older viewers, but at 56.8, its median viewer is far younger than Fox News’s. (Viewers at Fox News’s sister network, Fox Broadcasting, have a median age of 50.2; at ABC, the median is 54.4; at NBC, it’s 47.7.)

Speaking of old-fashioned viewpoints, I posted this in the comments yesterday, but it’s worth a closer look. Yesterday, Margaret Sullivan the NYT Public Editor posted a remarkable column about Nate Silver: Nate Silver Went Against the Grain for Some at The Times. Sullivan speculates that Silver may have decided to leave the Times for ESPN/ABC because his fact- and probability-based methods of writing about politics didn’t jive with the attitudes of some other Times journalists. She based her analysis on a number of conversations with Silver and “about him with journalists in the Times’s newsroom.”

* I don’t think Nate Silver ever really fit into the Times culture and I think he was aware of that. He was, in a word, disruptive. Much like the Brad Pitt character in the movie “Moneyball” disrupted the old model of how to scout baseball players, Nate disrupted the traditional model of how to cover politics.

His entire probability-based way of looking at politics ran against the kind of political journalism that The Times specializes in: polling, the horse race, campaign coverage, analysis based on campaign-trail observation, and opinion writing, or “punditry,” as he put it, famously describing it as “fundamentally useless.” Of course, The Times is equally known for its in-depth and investigative reporting on politics.

His approach was to work against the narrative of politics – the “story” – and that made him always interesting to read. For me, both of these approaches have value and can live together just fine.

* A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. The first time I wrote about him I suggested that print readers should have the same access to his writing that online readers were getting. I was surprised to quickly hear by e-mail from three high-profile Times political journalists, criticizing him and his work. They were also tough on me for seeming to endorse what he wrote, since I was suggesting that it get more visibility.

A few reactions to the Nate Silver story:

JM Ashby at Bob Cesca.com: Revenge of the Nerd

TPM: Nate Silver’s Seven Most Memorable Predictions

Politico: How ESPN and ABC landed Nate Silver

Business Insider got Silver’s own reaction to the Sullivan column: ‘The Culture Stuff Was Not A Big Factor’ In Me Leaving The New York Times

I’ll wrap this up with a some Edward Snowden updates. It’s very clear at this point that Snowden is being controlled by Russian intelligence. We don’t really know where he is, and his spokesman is an “attorney” who is in charge of PR for the Russian FSB. We also don’t know what Snowden has given the FSB in return for their help. Geoffrey Ingersoll at Business Insider:

Russian attorney Anatoly Kucherena — who also happens to be the head of public council for the Federal Security Service (FSB) — has announced that Edward Snowden may leave the Moscow airport on Wednesday.

His next destination: Russia.

That’s right, he’s likely not going too far.

We also know that Snowden supposedly said he has no plans to travel to Latin America because at this time, he thought it too dangerous to travel.

How do we know that? Well, Kucherena said Snowden said it, of course.

Not only does Kucherena run the FSB’s public council, but it seems he runs Snowdens public relations as well — he “helped” Snowden apply for temporary asylum, he relayed Snowden’s “promise” not to hurt the U.S. anymore, and he announced Snowden’s (very own) idea about possibly applying for Russian citizenship with the intent to stay for a while and “learn Russian culture.”

And here’s Michael Kelley, also from Business Insider: The Intel In Snowden’s Head Could Be More Damaging Than The Material He Leaked

National Security Agency whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden reportedly flew to Hong Kong carrying “four laptop computers that enable him to gain access to some of the US government’s most highly-classified secrets,” raising the concern that data could have been compromised in China or Russia.

But the information in his head may be more valuable, and accessible, than highly encrypted files.

Beyond trying to acquire information about the 10,000 NSA files Snowden accessed in Hawaii, a U.S. adversary would want to learn from Snowden’s expertise of internal NSA processes — such as its recruiting and vetting processes — to gain insight into America’s decision loop.

“Snowden understood exactly how far he could push [the NSA],” Robert Caruso, a former assistant command security manager in the Navy and consultant, told Business Insider. “That, coupled with his successful exploitation of our entire vetting process, makes him very dangerous.”

There’s much more of interest in the Kelley article, including a timeline of Snowden’s activities. Highly recommended.

I have several more Snowden links that I’ll just list for anyone who’s interested to click on:

NBC News: Lawyer: Snowden hopes to leave Moscow airport by Wednesday

CNN: Snowden did not access ‘crown jewels’ of NSA intel, official says

The Voice of Russia: US communicates concerns over Snowden to Russian gov’t – ambassador

ABC News: New Snowden Documents Show NSA-Germany Spy Links: Report

Atlantic Wire: Edward Snowden Has Everything and Nothing

Now it’s your turn. What stories have caught your interest today? I look forward to clicking on your links!


Sunday Reads: Bacon on Wheels, Alpaca Buzz Cuts and Penguins on Parade

151-001Good Morning

Guess you can tell from the title of this post, animals will play a feature role in today’s reads.  Right now here in Banjoville the skies are opening up and raining down cats and dogs. Loud thunder is shaking the house, and that means lightning…real bad lightning…so I best make this post short and sweet. So here are your morning reads in link dump fashion.

Well, down in Miami the police roughed up a kid who was holding a puppy because he looked at them funny. I should say not funny as in funny amusing, but as they put it….”dehumanizing.”

Police Allegedly Assault Black Kid Carrying A Puppy For Looking At Them Wrong

Miami-Dade Police allegedly handcuffed and choked a 14 year old boy while he was carrying a newborn puppy for giving them a “dehumanizing” stare. A court case over the incident will begin on July 16th.

Tremaine McMillian was, by his account, playing on a beach with a friend and his puppy on the Miami boardwalk when police came over to tell them to stop “roughousing.” Though the police later admitted the boys’ activity was neither criminal nor violent, they asked the boys where their parents were. McMillian directed the officers to his nearby mother, and that’s where the family and the police’s story diverge.

McMillian and his mother, Maurissa Holmes, say the police chased down McMillian on ATVs and attacked him essentially without provocation. “The police officers were on their ATVs, and my son was walking,” Holmes said. “They jumped off their ATVs, grabbed him and slammed him to the ground.”

You can read the police’s version at the link, you can also see video of the arrest as well…there are some discrepancies however…pointed out by Tommy Christopher…check this out.

…there’s another painfully adorable detail that was left out of that report. Here’s what Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaletatold CBS 4:

Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told D’Oench it was just after 11:00 am on Memorial Day on Haulover Beach when officers saw McMillian slamming another teenager on to the sand.

“They told him that behavior was unacceptable,” said Zabaleta. “He walked away and officers followed him. They asked where his parents were. He said he was not going to take them to them. When he started to leave the beach area, officers had to get off their ATVs to detain him. He had closed arms, clenched fists and pulled his arm away.”

“Once he was approaching the road, the officers restrained him. Again his body language was that he was stiffening up and pulling away,” said Zabaleta. “Now you’re resisting officers at that point and when the hands are swinging and you are resisting officers, at that point you have to be taken into custody.”

“Of course we have to neutralize the threat,” said Zabaleta. “When you have somebody resistant to them and pulling away and somebody clenching their fists and flailing their arms, that’s a threat.”

He said the police report did not indicate that a puppy was involved.

“At that point we are not concerned with a puppy,” said Zabaleta. “We are concerned with the threat to the officer.”

So, the police don’t seem to be disputing that the puppy was there, just that he didn’t merit inclusion in the report. But if the puppy was there, then how do police explain this?

“How could I be clenching my fists when I was taking care of my puppy and giving him some milk with a bottle?” asked McMillian.

I mean the kid was giving the newborn puppy a bottle of milk…WTF?

Shit…with the way law enforcement authorities are reporting things lately, that bottle of milk could have been a rocket launcher and the puppy? Well that was no puppy, that was a dwarf Muslim terrorist, hey….don’t mistake that fur for the towel on his head. /snark

I want to bring this story to your attention, it is about pigs but not the real animals. U.S. Naval Academy football players investigated for sexual assault | Reuters

Three members of the U.S. Naval Academy football team are being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female student, the Pentagon said on Friday, the latest in a string of scandals that have thrown a spotlight on sex crimes in the military.

The alleged incident took place in April 2012, when the student attended a party at the off-campus “football house” in Annapolis, Maryland and became intoxicated, her attorney, Susan Burke, said in a statement.

“She woke up at the football house the next morning with little recall of what had occurred. She learned from friends and social media that three football players were claiming to have had sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated,” Burke said, without identifying her client by name.

No charges have been brought forth yet, this is still being investigated.

Burke said that one of the football players pressured the woman not to cooperate with an initial investigation into the case. She initially followed that advice, but was still “ostracized and retaliated against by the football players and the Naval Academy community.” She was also disciplined for drinking, Burke said in a statement.

In early 2013, the female student decided to seek legal help and the Navy re-opened the investigation, Burke said.

“Over time, the midshipman began to recover from the trauma, and became angered at the lack of justice and retaliation in her case,” she said.

I am sure that this investigation will eventually end up like these cases usually do. But with the congressional hearings coming up…maybe there will be a fire under the ass of these military brass and justice will finally take a front seat and not get molested like so many of these women service members.

Here is yet another article about shitty pay and what it does to the economy. One Walmart’s Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year, House Dems Find

Then you have the other side of the coin, y’all heard that Tumblr was sold to Yahoo for 1.1 billion dollars…check this out: Tumblr’s Creative Director Quits

On to something more interesting, these next two links are about different things…but deal with the same subject.

First, this article from the New York Times: Justice Dept. Reports Rise in Prosecutions on Indian Lands

The Justice Department said this week that it had increased its rate of criminal prosecutions in Indian country by more than 50 percent in the past four years, a period in which violent crime on the nation’s Indian reservations has soared and tribes have complained of lawlessness.

The data, part of a Justice Department report released Thursday, found that United States attorneys had prosecuted about 69 percent of the 3,145 criminal cases referred to their offices from Indian country last year — an improvement over 2011, when the federal government tried 63 percent of 2,840 criminal cases in Indian country.

The report comes amid a wave of violent crime on Indian lands and criticism of the Justice Department by tribal officials who say United States attorneys pursue far too few violent criminal cases on reservations.

Prosecutors say they must decline many Indian country cases — about 60 percent of the total — because of a lack of evidence.

The feds usually prosecute murder, rape and white-collar crimes, but these numbers are a bit confusing because there is a new law that went into effect which includes various other violent crimes.

Previous government data have cited violent crimes, which presented a more pessimistic picture: that the Justice Department files charges in only about half of Indian country murder investigations and one-third of sexual assault cases. The data also showed the number of prosecutions by United States attorneys of violent crimes fell by 3 percent from 2000 to 2010, even as crime on some reservations increased by 50 percent or more.

But the report released this week does not separate the number of federal prosecutions for violent crimes. Instead, the report groups them with drug cases and white-collar crime.

On Friday, Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said the analysis did not specify figures for violent crime because the department was not required to do so by the Tribal Law and Order Act, a 2010 law that mandates that the department release prosecution rates in Indian country. (This week’s report is the agency’s first since the law went into effect.)

I guess these reports are just like any other reports out there, what the hell do they really tell us? And do they exist so people can twist these department figures to their advantage, and by doing that manipulate the dialogue to justify their own agenda. (I know the answer to that…)

The other link is this: Do Mascots Need Modernizing? « The Dish

Earlier this week, ten members of Congress sent a letter to the front office of the Washington Redskins, pushing them to select a new mascot:

In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs.  The usage of the “R-word” is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem.  It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to this important matter.

This is something that I am hesitant to get involved in. I am no fan of the Atlanta Braves, but they also have an Indian mascot. There is talk of getting the government involved, like previous strategy used by the JFK admin when the Redskins owners would not integrate the team.  See  the JFKs guys would not allow the Redskins on the stadium property because it was federal land…however,

Doug Mataconis disagrees with the liberal lawmakers’ strategy:

I have to wonder why this is something that Members of Congress need to be getting involved in, or why legislation is necessary to address something that is, in the end, a private business matter.

The people who don’t like the name are free to protest it. Dan Snyder and the rest of Redskins ownership are free to reject their pleas. If there ever comes a time when the public sympathizes with the protesters, then perhaps the team will feel the kind of economic pressure most likely to cause them to change positions, then we’ll likely see a name change of some kind.

Personally, I think the odds of that happening are pretty remote. The Redskins name has been in existence now since 1933 when the football version of the Boston Braves changed its name to Boston Redskins before moving to Washington, D.C. several years later. We’re not that far away from the 100th anniversary of that name. It’s going to be around for a long time to come, and I’m just fine with that.

Well, the Redskins play on the FedEx field in Maryland now…and it isn’t on Federal land. Like I said, I don’t know how I feel about this…guess we will talk about it in the comments below.

Ralph posted a link to an article about the DOJ Press Leaks by Walter Pincus last week in the comments and I thought everyone would appreciate this response from the ACLU. (I remembered the name Pincus because of Seinfeld…and Kramer, “Poor little Pincus.”) Anyway: Responding to The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus on Leaks and Shield Laws | American Civil Liberties Union

There is a rumor going round that Hillary Clinton is getting her own Twitter Hillary Clinton To Start Using Twitter: Report:This is supposed to be her handle…  https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton

For some far out images,  Global flight-path maps: Five interpretations  Large pictures here:  In pictures: Global flight paths

A bit of Manhattan History for those of you who are the nostalgic types: 1930s New York subway train makes rare trip from Queens to Manhattan

ccbcad213a676312330f6a706700ede3.jpg

May 30, 2013: In this photo provided by the New York Mass Transit Administration, an unidentified MTA employee checks the platform from between the cars of a 1930’s era subway train in the Queens borough of New York. (AP/Mass Transit Administration)

[…]

Lucky straphangers who happened to be in the right place at the right time on Thursday got to ride in eight subway cars purchased between 1930 and 1939.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority says some of the cars were taken out of the New York Transit Museum to commemorate the opening of a stretch of subway tracks badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

After the ceremony, the cars were put into regular passenger service for one quick trip from Queens to upper Manhattan.

Riders on board the train took pictures and gawked at its old-school style. Ads for Clark bars, fireworks shows on Coney Island and Levy’s Rye Bread adorned the walls.

More history for you, this is Breaking Bad meets Inglorious Basturds: Crystal Meth Origins Link Back to Nazi Germany and World War II – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Crystal meth is notorious for being highly addictive and ravaging countless communities. But few know that the drug can be traced back to Nazi Germany, where it first became popular as a way to keep pilots and soldiers alert in battle during World War II.

Photo Gallery: Crystal Meth's German Roots

“Alertness aid” read the packaging, to be taken “to maintain wakefulness.” But “only from time to time,” it warned, followed by a large exclamation point.

The young soldier, though, needed more of the drug, much more. He was exhausted by the war, becoming “cold and apathetic, completely without interests,” as he himself observed. In letters sent home by the army postal service, he asked his family to send more. On May 20, 1940, for example, he wrote: “Perhaps you could obtain some more Pervitin for my supplies?” He found just one pill was as effective for staying alert as liters of strong coffee. And — even better — when he took the drug, all his worries seemed to disappear. For a couple of hours, he felt happy.

This 22-year-old, who wrote numerous letters home begging for more Pervitin, was not just any soldier — he was Heinrich Böll, who would go on to become one of Germany’s leading postwar writers and win a Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. And the drug he asked for is now illegal, notoriously so. We now know it as crystal meth.

Man, that is some fucked up shit.

Alright, since we touched on chemistry…here is a link that ties in perfectly. Molecule Chemical Bond Images From UC Berkeley | Geekosystem

2-firsteverhig

Have you ever looked at a textbook diagram of the chemical bonds that make up molecules and thought to yourself, “This is just a dumb drawing — how do they know what it even looks like in real life?” Well stop it. Stop it right now. Felix Fischer of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is going to show you what it looks like with these gorgeous high-resolution images of individual carbon atoms linking together. And guess what? They look just like they do in the textbooks. Happy now?

I swear I had no idea these things really looked like this! Did you? Go to the link to read the rest. Amazing.

Back now to my own comfort zone: ‘Amazingly rare’ letter written by Robert the Bruce to Edward II found (But I gotta say, I hated the movie Braveheart!)

An unknown and “amazingly rare” letter written by Robert the Bruce at a pivotal point of the Wars of Scottish Independence has been uncovered by a Scottish academic.

In the letter, the fearsome Scottish warrior appeals to the English King Edward II for an end to “persecution and disturbance”. It was sent in 1310, less than four years before Bannockburn, the  victory that paved the way for Scottish independence.

Dauvit Broun, professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, found the letter in The British Library while studying a manuscript written by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey about 500 years ago. The correspondence  happened to be copied by the monks into their manuscript, the original has not survived.

Professor Broun said: “It’s  amazingly rare, a freak survival. There’s nothing like this that  survives from around that time.”

Listen to the tone of Robert the Bruce…

Bruce wrote to “beseech” the king that “you would take pains to cease from our persecution and the disturbance of the people of our kingdom in order that devastation and the spilling of a neighbour’s blood may henceforth stop.”

Take a look at the rest of the article at the link. I wish they had printed the full letter. I would have loved to read the whole thing myself.

Real quick archeology links:

Japan’s Oldest-Known Wooden Mask – Archaeology Magazine

San “Rain Control” in South Africa – Archaeology Magazine

Earlier this week I linked to the female mammoth with flowing blood that was found in Siberia…well, this was another cool “ice age” related article that I was planning on sharing with you:  Centuries-old frozen plants revived

Plants that were frozen during the “Little Ice Age” centuries ago have been observed sprouting new growth, scientists say.

Samples of 400-year-old plants known as bryophytes have flourished under laboratory conditions.

Researchers say this back-from-the-dead trick has implications for how ecosystems recover from the planet’s cyclic long periods of ice coverage. The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The receding glaciers are exposing land that has not seen daylight since the mini ice age.

Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism.

They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long.

“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” she told BBC News.

“If you think of ice sheets covering the landscape, we’ve always thought that plants have to come in from refugia around the margins of an ice system, never considering land plants as coming out from underneath a glacier.”

But the retreating ice at Sverdrup Pass, where the Teardrop Glacier is located, is uncovering an array of life, including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae. Many of the species spotted there are entirely new to science.

And from that story of new life from ancient plants to a post in The Atlantic, I will just put it here because…well, you all will see why: Why the Boomers Are the Most Hated Generation – Edward Tenner – The Atlantic (Look at the comments, some of them are funny and vicious indeed.)

While you “feast” on that, take a look at this op/ed from the LA Times…Jefferson Davis’ ‘presidential’ library –  It offers a rallying point for the myth of a gentle and just South dragged into the War of Northern Aggression.

And then…think about that little island in the Mediterranean for all us Sky Dancers to escape to:  The island of long life – On the Greek island of Ikaria, life is sweet… and very, very long. So what is the locals’ secret?

The island of long life – in pictures | Life and style | The Guardian

Ikaria - in pictures: Ikaria island - secrets of the blue zone

BTW, did you see my man Samuel L Jackson and his latest video? Samuel L. Jackson Quitting Acting To Pursue A ‘Life Of Vigilantism’? | Mediaite

Samuel L. Jacksonsubmitted a challenge to the Reddit community this week. “It’s simple,” he wrote, “write 300 words and the most upvoted post I’ll read out loud in monologue form.” Today, Jackson posted the winning monologue video and it was just as “bad-ass” as promised.

“Hi, I’m Samuel L. Jackson,” he began, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Reddit, but I’ve decided to break the rules of my own competition.” From there, the actor said he wanted to “speak to you all from my own heart, in my own words” before announcing that he was “quitting acting and pursuing a life of vigilantism.” Fortunately for fans of one of America’s most prolific actors, this was all part of the winning submission from Reddit user adiddy.

I love this mutha…

Jackson set up the unconventional contest to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and revealed on Reddit that the campaign had raised over $130,000. Everyone who donated was entered to win lunch with Jackson and a trip to his UK celebrity golf tournament.

The whole thing almost got “derailed by the internet forum 4Chan”but here it is…

Whoa….ooooeeee, that dude is awesome.

Now for the animals.

Sheared Alpaca – Business Insider

Alpaca Getting Sheared

Farmers shear an alpaca at a zoo in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, May 30, 2013…

Scrawny under all that fleece aren’t they. I just got one thing to say, that alpaca is not getting sheared by someone looking to spin the fiber into yarn. What a waste! Butcher of a job…

See:

What a difference….those of you inclined to fiber fun, check out the video and watch these guys get sheared.

Shearing Movies | Cliff House Alpacas

And see how the fiber is prepared:

After we Shear we Skirt | Cliff House Alpacas

Alright then, moving on to the penguins.

So This Happened | TPM Editors Blog

To greet African leaders arriving for conference in Japan, event organizers force group of Penguins to dress up in ‘African’ costumes …

And finally, meet Chris P. Bacon: The wheelchair pig

Chris P. Bacon The wheelchair pig

A Florida veterinarian who fashioned a wheelchair for his pet pig has just signed a three-book publishing deal on the life and adventures of his little friend he named Chris P. Bacon.

That’ll do pig. Oh he is so damn cute.

Geez, 3360 words later, short and sweet my ass!

That should keep everyone busy, now some of you will have storms to look out for today, so stay alert:  Severe Weather Warnings Page

And if you are around, stop and leave a comment or two….have a wonderful day!


Later SDB Evening News Reads: So Ronery? Try Colonial Penn

Poster produced for the WPA, via Library of Congress.

Good Evening

I have a question that maybe you all can help me with. This past week my mother, father and I have been busy hanging up pictures and putting things in their place…yes we are still moving in, but at least it is looking more like home.

In yesterday’s post I wrote about WW2 veterans…this was my grandmothers and grandfathers generation. They are all gone, but our house is full of images and photographs of my grandparents, aunts and uncles,  items my grandfather brought back from the War, and even a couple pillowcases he sent to my grandmother while he was in France after D-Day. They all are wonderful memories that hang framed on the wall.

So while we are working on hanging all these things, my brother is in the living room watching his shows.  He has TVLand on all day, of course, most of the commercial sponsors of MASH, Bonanza, I Love Lucy, The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son are aimed at the senior citizen generation. You know the ones,  AAPR/Medicare, Colonial Penn and catheter ads that used to target people of my grandparents generation. Since most of them have passed or will soon be moving on to greener pastures, it follows that those ads are now produced for the baby boomer generation…

My mom is 64 my dad is 65, my mom’s sister is turning 70 next year…they are the next big focus of future sales for “senior” products. So here is my question, why is it these commercials still use the same patronizing…stupid formula when pushing that Colonial Penn insurance? Isn’t this next generation supposed to be more educated than the last? I just can’t see the former hippie college graduate baby boomer watching these ads and saying, oh yes…I need that funeral life/death insurance policy for just pennies a day. It seems they would be more savvy than that.

I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent, so let’s get down to some newsy links.

Have you seen the latest “lie” reported by Politifact? Paul Krugman had this to say about it:

This is really awful. Politifact, which is supposed to police false claims in politics, has announced its Lie of the Year — and it’s a statement that happens to be true, the claim that Republicans have voted to end Medicare.

Steve Benen in the link above explains it, but let me just repeat the basics. Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.

The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.

How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?

Go to the link to see what the answer is…I’ll give you a hint, it has something to do with attempting to be “fair and balanced.”

In other GOP news, Gary Johnson has decided to officially run as a Libertarian. Hmmmm….I wonder what that means for Ron Paul?

Over in the swamp, the Senate is gone for the holidays, leaving those who would benefit the most from the payroll tax cut, and the extended long-term unemployment benefits, up shit creek without a paddle. Capitol impasse boosts chances of tax increase

The Senate is gone for the holidays, the House packed up to leave, and as a result the chances that working Americans soon will see a tax increase jumped sharply.

The Capitol emptied to an eerie quiet on Tuesday, with no signs of negotiations toward a compromise that would save an expiring payroll tax break. As of Jan. 1, the tax cut that has been in place all year is scheduled to return to 6.2% from its current 4.2%, meaning that biweekly paychecks on average will be $40 smaller. Long-term unemployment benefits for some 3 million people also are poised to expire. Doctors face an estimated 20% cut in Medicare payments.

That means things are going to get even worse for many people who have been struggling…and barely getting by.

There was an article in the NY Times this past week about the economy and consumption, it even had a cute graphic that went with a clever title, What Nail Polish Sales Tell Us About the Economy.

Illustration by Oliver Jeffers
Economics is all about consumption. People either spend money now or they use financial instruments — like bonds, stocks and savings accounts — so they can spend more later. A healthy economy is largely a result of a reasonable balance between consumption today and consumption deferred, and it’s pretty clear that balance has been ridiculously out of whack for a while.
[…]

Economists believe that what we feel about the state of the economy is best revealed not through what we say in surveys but rather through what we buy and exactly how much of it. There’s a lot of data available, though none come with a prepackaged psychological narrative attached. So analysts do the best they can, combing through our national shopping lists hoping to uncover clues. Sometimes they find remarkably helpful information in very unlikely places.

They also uncover plenty of cute facts that mean little. Consider this: 2011 was a banner year for the sale of insanely expensive fine wines at auction. Someone at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, for example, bought 12 bottles of 1985 Romanee-Conti for a bit more than $150,000, or about $600 per sip. And the grand lesson this teaches us about the overall economy is . . . absolutely nothing. There’s some meaning in this anecdote about how the superrich — especially the newly superrich in China — are doing far better than the rest of us.

So what are some of the “shopping-based indicators” saying about Americans and the US Economy?

The results were mixed, but we did uncover some ominous signs. Lipstick sales used to go up when the economy went down, perhaps because women were searching for a cheap pick-me-up or an edge in a job interview. For reasons nobody quite understands, the lipstick indicator doesn’t hold up anymore, though nail polish sales now seem to reflect the economy very clearly (albeit inversely). A rise in nail polish sales indicates that we’re searching for bargain luxuries as the economy craters — and sales of nail polish are way up right now. Women’s underwear sales are down, which historically suggests intense frugality and more rough times ahead.

But we were encouraged by the number of optimistic indicators we uncovered. There is good news in cemetery plot sales. They seem to have peaked a couple years ago when desperate families were unloading unused holes in the ground (though cremation numbers are rising). Sales of cardboard boxes, because everything from electronics to clothing is packaged in them, should also be a strong indicator of economic rejuvenation. (Current production — enough to paper over the entire state of Maryland — portends recovery.) Sales of men’s underwear, one of Alan Greenspan’s favorite metrics for predicting growth, are also up. Sales of cheap spirits, which soared during the worst of the recession (people need an affordable way to self-medicate), have now stabilized, meaning, at the very least, that people can now afford better liquor.

Of all the indicators we looked at, one of the most consistently accurate was Champagne sales. The amount of French Champagne that Americans consume has predicted — with nearly 90 percent accuracy — the average American income one year later. Apparently, when we pop a Champagne cork, we know that good times are ahead (see chart). Champagne sales hurtled upward twice in recent history — at the peak of the Internet bubble in 1999 and during the heyday of the housing bubble in 2007. These were both followed by slowdowns as fewer people found reason to celebrate.

I realize that we have an amazing resident Doctor of Economics here on Sky Dancing, and Dakinikat always explains all things Economics so well…but I just thought these shopping indicators were kind of funny, because most of the folks (oops, sorry Pat) that live in my redneck of the woods still can’t afford the high price booze, or electronics in their cardboard boxes…and most of the men in Banjoville have holes galore in their underwear.  (My dad says poor people have holes in their socks, and rich people have holes in their cheese…)

My point being that things are still bad, and with this payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits both parties are determined to do away with, it is going to get worse.

I wanted to end on an up note, so here are a few items about North Korea that should make you laugh.

Kim Jong un Cartman
Kim Jong un Cartman © Peter Lewis, Australia, Politicalcartoons.com,Kim, kim jong il, kim jong un, korea, north korea, nuclear

Awesome yes?

Well, after seeing this obvious South Park inspired cartoon, it reminded me of a movie called Team America, that South Park creators made a few years ago.

If you did not see it, the entire movie is done with puppets…which are quite impressive.

Here are a couple of clips from the movie, staring Kim Jong Il,  I hope you enjoy them.

Have a lovely evening!

This is a scene from the movie Team America, when Hans Blix from the UN comes to inspect Kim Jong Ils palace to see if he has weapons of mass destruction.

And here is Kim Jong Il singing…I’m so lonely!


Late Evening News Reads: Iran…Israel…US…Timing is everything.

Good Evening

Today was a busy news day, as far as the number of unread feeds in my reader…However, for tonight’s evening reads I am going to stick with Iran, Israel and the US.

Quixote sent me this link earlier this evening.

Iran explosions prompt speculation of secret attacks | McClatchy

Unexplained attacks in Iran

View larger image

JERUSALEM — A series of mishaps at Iranian nuclear facilities and weapons sites may be part of a covert organized attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, according to Western intelligence officials.

An explosion last week outside Iran’s third largest city, Isfahan, is thought to be the most recent strike, though details on the intended target are still unclear. A sprawling military base and nuclear facilities are outside Isfahan, and intelligence officials across the Middle East said there was strong evidence that the explosion had done some “significant structural damage.”

“We have seen enough evidence to know something has happened, but we are unclear on what at this point,” said one Western diplomat whose work includes the region, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “There are a number of parties interested in sabotaging and weakening the Iranian regime.”

This is where the article takes an expected turn, as Dakinikat has speculated early last week, there are suggestions that Israel is behind these explosions.

The second such incident in as many weeks cast doubt on Iranian claims that these were “accidents” and “coincidences,” and it set off speculation of a coordinated attack by Israel, whose officials long have threatened a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli officials denied direct involvement, but the growing number of mysterious or unexplained blasts and deaths has many suspecting an official program of sabotage.

Israeli newspapers declared last week that Israel’s war with Iran already had begun, but that the Jewish state, rather than launch massive airstrikes, had decided on a method of covert action in cooperation with other groups. Statements by current and former Israeli officials were being parsed for clues but did little to clarify the issue.

Tell me if these responses don’t give you pause…

“There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” said Israel’s former head of internal security, Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “We are not happy to see the Iranians move ahead on this (program), so any delay, be it divine intervention or otherwise, is welcome.”

Divine intervention…or did the dog do it?

It just seems like relations in the area have gone from bad to worse. This possible coordinated attacks from Israel may explain Panetta’s harsh language a few days ago:

Panetta to Israel: ‘Get to the Damn Table’ for Peace Talks « VOA Breaking News

The top U.S. defense official is warning Israel it cannot afford to further isolate itself from Arab neighbors in the Middle East.

During a forum in Washington late Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Israel needs to start by getting back “to the damn table” and negotiating peace with the Palestinians. He also called on Israel to mend its fraying relationships with traditional partners like Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

Some Israeli leaders have viewed the Arab Spring, and uprisings like the one that toppled long-time Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as a threat to regional stability as well as to Israel’s security. But Panetta urged Israeli officials to reject that way of thinking.

Panetta said Israel has no choice but to take some risks to ensure a safer future, starting with resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, a process that Panetta said has “effectively been put on hold.”

In this Reuters India link, they published a bit more of Panetta’s comment to Israel:

Panetta: Israel must get to damn peace table | Reuters

Panetta, addressing a forum in Washington, also made one of his most extensive arguments to date against any imminent military action against Iran over its nuclear program, saying he was convinced that sanctions and diplomatic pressure were working.

“You always have the last resort … of military action. But it must be the last resort, not the first,” Panetta said.

[…]

He said Israel needed to take risks, including by breathing new life into moribund peace talks with Palestinians. When asked by a moderator what steps Israel needed to take to pursue peace, Panetta said: “Just get to the damn table.”

“The problem right now is we can’t get ’em to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences,” Panetta said.

Panetta said the United States would safeguard Israel’s security, ensure regional stability and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — a goal Tehran denies having.

“Israel, too, has a responsibility to pursue these shared goals — to build regional support for Israeli and United States’ security objectives,” Panetta said.

“I believe security is dependent on a strong military but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. And unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow.”

Also heating up the already tense situation, is the recent US drone spy plane that was “brought” down by Iran…not by shooting it down, it looks like Iran was able to “hack” the drone. Reports are that Iran is in possession of the super secret spy plane.

Military sources confirmed that the Iranians have the RQ-170 drone, which is so advanced that the U.S. Air Force has not distributed even a photo of it. However, they did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane, as was reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

I realize that link goes to Fox, but JPost.com and Reuters are reporting this news as well.

Iran is still sticking with the “shot down” story for now, there is also a warning from the Iran military, from FARS News Agency: Fars News Agency :: Iran Warns of Wider Response to US Spy Missions

“Given the flagrant violation of our country’s borders, the electronic and operational actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces against the enemy planes will not be limited to the country’s borders,” an Iranian official told FNA.

The official had also informed FNA on Sunday afternoon that the country’s forces had downed a US RQ-170 Sentinel drone over the Eastern parts of the country.

“An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran’s armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran’s Armed Forces,” a military official told FNA on Sunday.

In similar remarks, military sources told Iran’s Arabic language Al Alam television that Tehran will intensify its response to the United States’ spying operations.

“The Iranian military’s response to the American spy drone’s violation of our airspace will not be limited to Iran’s borders any more,” a military source told Al Alam, without giving details.

After a day of silence, both Pentagon and NATO officials acknowledged the shooting down of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in eastern Iran, alleging that the aircraft with a mission to fly over western Afghanistan had gone astray.

The drone had been downed with help from the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit.

The military official warned of a strong and crushing response to any violations of the country’s airspace by American drone aircraft.

Then there is this bit of news from The Telegraph: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards prepare for war – Telegraph

An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.

Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.

The order was given in response to the mounting international pressure over Iran’s nuclear programme. Preparation for a confrontation has gathered pace following last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that produced evidence that Iran was actively working to produce nuclear weapons.

The Iranian leadership fears the country is being subjected to a carefully co-ordinated attack by Western intelligence and security agencies to destroy key elements of its nuclear infrastructure.

Recent explosions have added to the growing sense of paranoia within Iran, with the regime fearing it will be the target of a surprise military strike by Israel or the US.

Now, I realize the Telegraph and Fox News have their particular bias…but the story from FARS shows that relations between Israel, Iran and the US are getting more heated.

Of course, I have not mentioned the recent attack on the British Embassy in Iran.  It all just makes me very uncomfortable…and also at the heart of all this mess…is oil.  Iran, Facing New Sanctions, Warns of Oil at $250 a Barrel – NYTimes.com

Alarmed by the possibility of new Western penalties that could abruptly reduce or even halt its oil exports, Iran issued a warning on Monday that crude oil prices could more than double to $250 a barrel if such sanctions were given serious consideration.

The warning, issued by the Foreign Ministry, appeared to be part of an attempt by Iran to intimidate its adversaries as tensions grow. Western nations stepped up their efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically after mobs stormed and vandalized Britain’s diplomatic facilities in Tehran less than a week ago, evoking stark images of the United States Embassy takeover after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The assault was widely criticized, even by some of Iran’s friends.

The price of oil today did not “jump” because of this threat…there was little change in trading today.

Iran is the third-largest exporter of oil, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Its biggest customers —China, the European Union, India, Japan, and South Korea — together account for two-thirds of total Iranian oil exports, according to an analysis published by the Energy Information Administration in the United States. Reduced orders from just one of those customers could be disruptive for Iran, where the economy is already suffering from the accumulated effects of other sanctions.

After the assault on the British Embassy, European Union ministers said they would give serious consideration to an oil embargo at a meeting in January, and the United States Senate voted 100 to 0 for legislation that would penalize any foreign bank that does business with Iran’s central bank.

The Senate measure, meant to use access to the United States market as leverage in isolating Iran, is not yet law and could be modified. But analysts said that such a measure, if enforced, could wreak havoc on Iran’s oil industry, because the central bank is the main conduit for receipts from oil sales.

“At some point, sanctions become an act of war,” said Vali Nasr, a professor at Tufts University and an expert on Iranian affairs. “If you cut Iran out of the oil market, this is no longer economic pressure.”

What do you all think? It is making me a little nervous. With tensions escalating in Pakistan, and the Afghani president talking about resurgence of the Taliban…

The United States is vacating an air base in Pakistan at Islamabad’s request following a NATO attack that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told Pakistan’s Waqt TV on Monday that the United States is leaving Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan Province southwest of Quetta. U.S. drones have taken off from the base and refueled there for operations against Islamic militants, according to sources familiar with U.S. drone operations in Pakistan.

The order to clear out of the base comes in the aftermath of a November 26 incident in which a NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani troops.

The Taliban could make a comeback and take over Afghanistan again, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned on Monday at the Bonn Conference. “If we lose this fight, we are threatened with a return to a situation like that before Sept 11, 2001,” Karzai said.

There has been progress in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in the wake of the hijacked plane attacks on the United States, he said. But, he warned: “Our shared goal of a stable, self-reliant Afghanistan is far from being achieved”.

Seems like all the “alert” messages are being sent.

And what does the US Main Stream Media have to say about all this drone business…Don’t worry…the drone fell to earth from such a high altitude…it must be in little, tiny pieces…so Iran can’t get much insight or information from that. Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry – CBS News

“This is a high-flying unmanned aircraft that malfunctioned and then fell to earth. It’s likely to be broken up into hundreds of pieces.”

[…]

“Are we going to stop flying them? No. Was it a secret we were flying them? No,” said Pike. “Did Iran shoot it down? Probably not. Because Iranian air defenses are not very good, and it is a good stealth vehicle. And did Iranian hackers hack into it and bring it down? No. It’s just too hard to do.”

So say the “experts.”

This is a serious situation, and I worry it will be just another reason to step up the US military presence in the region, especially now that we are winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2012 election is also in the back of my mind…the timing seems to be one of the key coincidences in all this. We also have the triggered spending cuts that should be cutting into the military budget, so again my thoughts go back to the timing.

Timing is everything.

The European Union and its growing money troubles, austerity and cut backs…the US Economy and the corruption of  back room secret deals…people are going to need something to make them forget the elected (and not elected) people and corporations that got us into this mess.

But what do I know, I am just someone who lives in a small town in the American South.  I see all the things going on in the world from my laptop…things that I know are wrong or corrupt or manipulated to get the planned responses. Whether it be a rise in fear, so that more military spending is accepted, or the planned trillion dollars in bailouts, both public and secret, that “pay off” all those fat cat campaign contributors….or the possible terrorist attacks that bring about the acceptance of security measures so that more 85-year-old grandmothers can be striped search. (Yes, that now brings the total to three old women getting stripped searched at the same JFK terminal.)

Every day I feel more and more dejected and despondent and depressed. What makes it even worse is the feeling of abandonment from politicians and elected  officials that are supposed to act in our best interest…like sheep being led to slaughter, we are just wandering down the turnstiles and being directed which ever way the controlling class and media want us to move.

I wish I could have a better post for you tonight, that link Quixote sent was a good one, and I fear that I did not do it justice.

I’m just a silent sheep in Banjoland, no expert in foreign policy or military matters…and Iran and Israel are half a world away…but from the screen of my laptop, I see the problem growing…and I see all the ways it can be manipulated and used for other people’s advantage, and that makes me a little more concerned for what is coming…and my fear is that it will be something big.


Poverty in These United States

We are not Afghanistan.  We are not Haiti or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We are not any of the 3rd world nations that are sometimes callously referred to as the ‘black holes’ of the world, where national incomes range between $700-900 annually, where human assets in nutrition, education, health and adult literacy are the lowest of the low.  Nor do national fluctuations in agriculture production, instability of import/export services or economic smallness define us.

We are decidedly not one of the least developed nations on the planet.  Quite the contrary.  We are the richest, most powerful and technologically advanced nation the world has ever known.

Yet poverty exists and is rising.  American poverty is a fact, a condition defined not by 3rd world standards but by the standards of who and what we are as a premier Nation among all nations.

No sooner had the Census Bureau come out with its findings on poverty–the first report in September, followed by a supplemental report in early November—the naysayers lined up reminding us that the findings were misleading, that many of the so-called poor had cars and TVs, that children of the poor sported Xboxes. And my God, a goodly number actually have air conditioning!  I suspect many have heating, too.

The arguments are that unless a family or individual meets a 3rd-world definition of poverty then even the mention of rising American poverty levels falls into the category of gross exaggeration.  This in a time when unemployment is the top concern of the American electorate, when unemployment sits ‘officially’ at 9% but, in fact, has reached nearly 20%, when from 2001-2009 42,400 American factories closed their doors to traditional middle-class jobs.  This is also in a time of historical corporate profits and obscene CEO salaries in the financial services industry that through casino betting, accounting fraud and governmental bailouts brought this country and the world to its knees. And continues to do so, eg., MF Global headed by former NJ Governor Jon Corzine. 

The old canards are being taken for a rerun as well: poverty is a symptom of lazy minds and an entitlement generation or an unwillingness to work hard and save money.  Many will recall the Welfare Queen stories of the past, imagined always as a black woman with a dozen children, driving idly around town in her brand new Caddie.  Living life high on the hog, the hysterical claims insisted, bilking government largesse [ otherwise known as taxpayer money].  But as Ralph B. noted in an earlier thread, there’s nary a word about corporate/millionaire welfare, where companies and even individuals skate on Federal taxes through loopholes and accounting maneuvers and government handouts

Let’s get real.  The fallout of 2007-2008 hit many average families between the eyes, this after wages had been stagnating for three decades with a beginning upswing in the 90s, wage advancements quickly lost since 2000. Prices, however, have continued to rise, commodity prices in particular, those base products— gas, foodstuffs—that we all rely on to survive.  Medical costs/premiums have gone through the roof.  Is it any wonder seniors, who face a disproportionate share of medical problems and costs, have gotten caught in the old trap of choosing food or drugs?  Children are caught up in the economic whirlwind, too, as parents lose jobs and homes, scramble for low-paying, part-time positions, work that frequently is not enough to ensure adequate food and/or nutrition on a consistent basis.  Should we be surprised then at the increase of American children now classified as ‘food insecure?’ 

Here’s what we know:

49.1 million Americans have fallen into poverty, 16% of the population or 1 in 7 Americans.

Nearly 20% of that number are children; nearly 16% of the indigent are 65 years and older.

21.5% of American children have been classified as ‘food insecure.’

1 in 15 Americans are classified as the ‘poorest of the poor, which in 2010 translated to $5570 or less for an individual, $11,157 for a family of four.

The Census Bureau’s Supplemental report issued earlier this month takes into account governmental assistance—food stamps, the earned income tax credit, school lunch programs etc—without which the statistics above would be even worse.

From a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report:

Six temporary federal initiatives enacted in 2009 and 2010 to bolster the economy by lifting consumers’ incomes and purchases kept nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010, under an alternative measure of poverty that takes into account the impact of government benefit programs and taxes. These initiatives — three new or expanded tax credits, two enhancements of unemployment insurance, and an expansion of benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) — were part of the 2009 Recovery Act. Congress subsequently extended or expanded some of them.

Hence the total number of persons in poverty would have been even higher last year if not for the six government initiatives.

Btw, the link above gives a rather shocking comparison between the poverty rates in the US and Brazil.  Not pretty.

Yet, Michelle Bachmann’s prescription as well as many of her Republican colleagues is based on the old saw: self-reliance, an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  This in a time of record unemployment and rising poverty in the general population.

How many statistics, comparisons, articles and images are necessary to convince the disbelieving that American poverty is on the rise, that it is not the result of coddling, laziness or lack of self-reliance?  Or perhaps we must admit that there is also a poverty of spirit and reason running rampant through country, blinding those who would blame fellow citizens for the dearth of employment and opportunity without offering any workable solutions to an ever growing, bleak reality.