After suffering with a migraine the last four days, I really do not know what the hell has been going on in the world…that is, other than the few interesting stories Boston Boomer wrote about yesterday.
One thing I have been keeping an eye on for updates, was any news on the birth of Drew Barrymore’s second child. Well…yesterday it happened. Drew Barrymore Welcomes Daughter Frankie with Husband Will Kopelman
Drew Barrymore‘s own heart just got a little bigger: her baby girl is here!
The actress and star of the upcoming comedy, Blended, 39, and her husband, art advisor Will Kopelman, 36, welcomed their second child on Tuesday, April 22, her rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively.
“Happy to announce that today we are the proud parents of our second daughter, Frankie Barrymore Kopelman,” the couple tell PEOPLE in a statement. “Olive has a new little sister, and everyone is healthy and happy!”
Yeah I know, for some I can hear the words…who gives a shit…but bully for her! Glad she has another healthy baby girl. I just thought the names made a great title for a post.
As for the cowboy and indians…from AJAM: Cowboys and Indians ride into U.S. capital to protest Keystone pipeline
For a few days, teepees erected by Native Americans and their cowboy allies will frame the view of the Washington Monument from the National Mall.
A group of roughly 60 ranchers, farmers, tribal leaders and members whose land falls near or on the proposed pathway of the contested Keystone XL pipeline, calling themselves the Cowboy-Indian Alliance, rode into the nation’s capital on horseback Tuesday to set up camp and begin four days of demonstration to register their protest of the project.
The yet-to-be-approved 1,179-mile pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, has been mired in controversy, legal challenges and delays for five years.
Critics, many of them environmentalists, say that the Keystone XL will only deepen the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, hasten the effects of climate change (although that contention is disputed) and violate landowners’ rights.
Proponents, on the other hand, say its construction will boost the economy, lead to the creation of American jobs, and move the country towards energy independence.
Many see the issue as the defining test of President Barack Obama’s commitment to the environment. As a candidate in 2007, he vowed to end “the tyranny of oil.”
The ranchers and Native Americans — about 40 of whom led a procession on horseback before coming to the National Mall to set up a camp of teepees — said they wanted to ensure lawmakers and the Obama administration were hearing them loud and clear about their qualms.
Matthew Black Eagle Man, a 45-year-old member of the Sioux Long Plain First Nation tribe in Manitoba, Canada, said the government attempting to build a pipeline on Native American lands continues a longstanding pattern of abuse inflicted on indigenous people.
“For 500 years, our people have been suffering,” he said. “The government gave us the most desolate places in the country for our reservations. Now they want to build a pipeline on our land.”
Black Eagle Man said too that Native Americans were committed to being good stewards of the earth’s resources.
“We’re here to help protect the water, our first medicine,” he said. “Our most abundant resource is being destroyed by man.”
As for the cowboys:
“I raise horses on a small ranch and they can’t drink oil. Sooner or later, that thing’s going to leak,” said Mike Blocker, 62, whose ranch is in Antelope County in Nebraska, directly in the path of the pipeline. “How can you sleep at night knowing that 830,000 pounds of this crap is flowing underground where you live?”
Donna Roller, 62, who owns a farm in York County, Neb., was appalled that more of the public was not up in arms that a foreign oil company — TransCanada, the owner of the pipeline — was marching into the United States and trampling on American land rights.
“What the hell? What is wrong with the American public that they are complacent in this?” she said. “This is a foreign corporation that’s going to make billions off our backs. We won’t allow them to go — we will lay our bodies on the line with the Native Americans.”
The Cowboy and Indian Alliance has four days of events planned, including documentary screenings, meetings with environmental groups and elected leaders, traditional Native American ceremonies and delivering a teepee painted by the activists to the Museum of the American Indian in honor of Obama, as a sign of respect. The week will culminate in a rally on Saturday that organizers are expecting to attract 5,000 protestors.
The protest is planned for a full week, let’s see what comes of it.
The pictures for today’s post were found on pinterest of course, you can see some of the images here:
For the pinups by George Petty:
And the one image that is my absolute favorite…which goes without saying….
Yes, he is what you think he is.
Alright then. On we go.
After the news yesterday from SCOTUS, that effectively puts those 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Act celebrations earlier in the month to shame. Court Backs Michigan on Affirmative Action
In a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions over what role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities.
The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.
States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.
In five separate opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.
I know that Dakinikat quoted the Justices yesterday in the comments, but I wanted front page this real quick:
But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the longest, most passionate and most significant dissent of her career, said the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”
Her opinion, longer than the four other opinions combined, appeared to reflect her own experiences with affirmative action at Princeton and Yale Law School. “I had been admitted to the Ivy League through a special door,” she wrote in her best-selling memoir, “My Beloved World.” For years, she wrote, “I lived the day-to-day reality of affirmative action.”
Signaling deep displeasure, Justice Sotomayor summarized her dissent from the bench, an unusual move that happens perhaps three times a term. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants. Athletes, children of alumni and students from underrepresented parts of the state, she said, remained free to try to persuade university officials to give their applications special weight. “The one and only policy a Michigan citizen may not seek through this long-established process,” she wrote, “is a race-sensitive admissions policy.” That difference, she said, violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent.
Justice Sotomayor seemed to mock one of Chief Justice Roberts’s most memorable lines. In a 2007 decision that limited the use of race to achieve integration in public school systems, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Justice Sotomayor recast the line. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” she wrote, “is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”
That is a great way to introduce this little tidbit of news from a disturbing Easter Egg incident in Virginia (with snark of course): Some White Supremacists Planted Easter Eggs with Racist Messages in Them | Mediaite
Parents in the West End of Virginia discovered, much to their horror, that amongst the Easter eggs planted for egg hunts, there were eggs that contained messages from a white supremacist group. One family discovered an egg with a little piece of paper “‘Diversity’ = White Genocide” at the top. Here’s what it read:
Yep, imagine your child getting an Easter egg with a recommendation to check out WhiteGenocideProject.com. Doesn’t that just fill you full of the holiday spirit?!
Parents are very disturbed that the eggs were placed on their property, with one saying, “You can hit the whole world with the Internet, stay out of my yard.”
I don’t know…the whole thing is fucked up. Like that shit with CNN even giving the opportunity to discuss the KKK rebranding itself.
Things are just bad. Real bad.
Just a few more articles:
Albuquerque police said an officer shot and killed an auto theft suspect early Monday, the third shooting by officers in the troubled department in just over a month and the first after a federal investigation faulted the department for excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression.
Gordon Eden, police chief of the New Mexico city, said the shooting occurred Monday morning during a chase.
“An officer pursued on foot when the suspect stopped, turned and pointed a handgun at close range,” Eden said.
Court records show Mary Hawkes had two previous run-ins with the law as an adult, one for drinking in public and another for shoplifting, according to the Albuquerque Journal. As a juvenile, she was charged in 2011 with attempted criminal sexual contact of a child under 13. She was convicted of a lesser battery offense and sentenced to two years of probation.
No further details about the shooting were immediately available. Phone calls and e-mails to the Albuquerque Police Department were not returned.
The shooting comes just weeks after a series of sometimes violent protests against Albuquerque police, who have shot at 38 people since 2010, killing 24.
Citizens and civil rights group have repeatedly expressed concerns that the department is using excessive force, particularly with the city’s mentally ill and homeless populations.
More at the link.
Huffington Post had a link to an interactive article from the NY Times, from back in January. Mapping Poverty in America – The New York Times
Seems fitting to review it again.
And it goes hand in hand with this from the Daily Banter: Medicaid Expansion Will Cost States Even Less Than Expected | BobCesca.com
From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
CBO now estimates that the federal government will, on average, pick up more than 95 percent of the total cost of the Medicaid expansion and other health reform-related costs in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the next ten years (2015-2024).
States will spend only 1.6 percent more on Medicaid and CHIP due to health reform than they would have spent without health reform. That’s about one-third less than CBO projected in February. And the 1.6 percent figure is before counting the state savings that the Medicaid expansion will produce in state expenditures for services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment provided to the uninsured.
The federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid until 2017 and, while it was projected that the government would cover 90 percent of the cost beyond that time period, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects that the federal government will cover more than 95 percent until at least 2024.
Expanding Medicaid was already a pretty good deal for states given that the federal government will cover the entire cost for several years and the overwhelming majority of costs thereafter, but the deal just got sweeter.
But that doesn’t mean shit to the assholes who run the states like mine.
Finally, not all things that quack like a duck…turn out to be a duck. For the last 50 years there has been these strange quacking sounds heard from the Southern Ocean that has kept people wondering…what the hell is it? Mystery of ‘ocean quack sound’ solved
The mystery of a bizarre quacking sound heard in the ocean has finally been solved, scientists report.
The noise – nicknamed “the bio-duck” – appears in the winter and spring in the Southern Ocean. However, its source has baffled researchers for decades.
Lead researcher Denise Risch, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Massachusetts, said: “It was hard to find the source of the signal.
“Over the years there have been several suggestions… but no-one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.”
The rest of this story sounds like something out of The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964):
The strange sound was first detected by submarines about 50 years ago. Those who heard it were surprised by its quack-like qualities.
Since then, the repetitive, low frequency noise has been recorded many times in the waters around the Antarctic and western Australia. Suggestions for its source have ranged from fish to ships.
In 2013, acoustic recorders were attached to two of the marine mammals and recorded the whales making the strange noise.
Dr Risch said: “It was either the animal carrying the tag or a close-by animal of the same species producing the sound.”
They still need to do analysis on the tapes to see when or why the whales make the sounds, but at least the scientist are sure the minke are the ones making the noise.
This is not the only acoustic puzzle that scientists have recently shed light on
Another baffling low frequency noise – called The Bloop – turned out to be the sound of Antarctica’s ice cracking.
And there you are…
Well, have a good day and if you feel like seeing some Cowboys and Indians…TCM is having a John Wayne marathon this week, 58 movies: John Wayne – Star of the Month
I am no Duke fan, but I had to end this post the way it started…pilgrim.
I’m going to remind you today of some events that happened 4 years ago with the BP Oil Gusher and show you that bad things are still going on in the Gulf.The leftover issues from abandoned oil rigs are bigger than Louisiana.Please consider this an open thread while I let you know how I feel.
If corporations are people, then BP and others in the extraction business are serial killers. All over our country and throughout our history, extraction companies have killed their employees, the people that live around their businesses, and the wildlife and the environment and water systems that sustain the life of our country. Look at that map. Those are active and orphaned/abandoned oil wells/pipelines that are disintegrating, leaking, and killing someone.
“I started noticing, towards the end of 2010, other leaks that were unrelated to the BP disaster,” Henderson says. “I would find wellheads that were leaking or platforms that were leaking. Just in the last year, I have filed 50 reports for different leaks and spills unrelated to the BP disaster.”
Under the Clean Water Act, when a company spills any amount of oil in the water, it must file a report with the National Response Center run by the Coast Guard. But when Henderson checked, he found many of those smaller spills were not making that list.
So environmental groups formed the Gulf Monitoring Consortium to get a better count on spills. The partnership is a blend groups of complementary skills.
Gulf Restoration Network, for example, has personnel who can spot spills from the air and file complete reports.
SouthWings, a group of volunteer pilots, helps get those spotters aloft.Louisiana relies largely on the oil industry to self-report leaks and spills. The Gulf Monitoring Consortium was formed to improve that effort and said it often finds smaller leaks like this one, near Golden Meadow, that go unreported by the companies.
A third member, the West Virginia-based tech group SkyTruth, finds the spills on satellite photographs, then applies a formula used by spill experts to translate the size of the oil sheen into gallons of oil in the water.
SkyTruth spokesman David Manthos says its estimates typically are much higher than what’s been reported.
“We found that the spill was usually 10 times larger than had been reported, and that was averaged out across a lot,” he says. “In some, the mismatch was much larger than that.”
The sheer size of the industry here means there’s seldom a quiet day for the consortium. In an average year, the NRC receives 10,000 reports of spills in the Gulf.
It’s a number that surprised even SouthWings Gulf Program Director Meredith Dowling, a veteran of monitoring efforts.
“I can’t think of a single instance where our volunteers have flown offshore and not found spills,” Dowling says. “This was something that was really amazing to me when I first moved here … that is was a continuous, absolute failure of business-as-usual practices.”
There are many active spills around here. Many come from orphaned and abandoned wells. Many come from active wells. They are all spewing toxicwaste and it’s not just in Louisiana. Here is a program in Pennsylvania dedicated to plugging orphaned and abandoned wells. There are similar issues in Texas, New York State, and just nearly anywhere there’s been activity. Louisiana alone has about 6000. You can see that they are nearly everywhere if you look at the map at the top of the post. Many of these wells were first put into play in the 1850s and were just left where they were. They are rotting, they are decaying, and they are leaking. They are also dangerous.
Methane is an odorless, colorless gas that exists naturally below the surface. It isn’t poisonous, but it’s dangerous. When enough methane gathers in an enclosed space — a basement or a water well, for instance — it can trigger an explosion.
The gas didn’t come from the Butters well, nor did it originate from the Marcellus Shale formation that a nearby Shell well had recently tapped into. What most likely happened to cause the geyser in June, Shell and state regulators say, was something of a chain reaction. As Shell was drilling and then hydraulically fracturing its nearby well, the activity displaced shallow pockets of natural gas — possibly some of the same pockets the Morris Run Coal company ran into in 1932. The gas disturbed by Shell’s drilling moved underground until it found its way to the Butters well, and then shot up to the surface.
Areas impacted by oil spills are never the same. The BP Oil Gusher has introduced issues into the ecosystem that have left endangered species teetering further towards extinction. In the case of Louisiana, it’s even the state bird.
On a bright spring morning, P.J. Hahn is walking through a graveyard in the middle of Barataria Bay.
It’s a 30-yard patch of mud and sand bristling with bare, dead mangrove brush surrounded by miles of open water. Each mangrove is a tombstone marking the death of a nesting site used for decades by brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills on what was once the string of wetland pearls that made up the Cat Islands chain.
But in 2010 the oil spewing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon would send them all to an early grave.
“Four years ago we had more than five acres of habitat and there were tens of thousands of birds nesting on these islands,” said Hahn, director of coastal zone management for Plaquemines Parish. “Then the oil came in and coated the mangrove roots, and two years later the islands started going.
“I don’t know where those birds are nesting now – but they can’t do it here any more.”
The post-BP story of the brown pelican, Louisiana’s official bird, is the perfect metaphor for the crisis confronting the state’s coast.
Before the Deepwater Horizon blew out on April 20, 2010, brown pelicans were living the good life in southeast Louisiana as one of the great wildlife comeback stories. In 1963 not a single brown pelican could be found in the state due to impacts from the insectiside DDT. The comeback started in 1968 when the state began transplanting birds from Florida, and populations began to soar after DDT was banned in 1972. Thanks to the abundant food in one of the world’s most productive fisheries, by 2010 their numbers were thought to be near historic levels, as high of 85,000.*
Four years later, the sea floor closest to the spill and even the shores in the Gulf of Mexico are comparable to an Arizona Desert. It is barren, bleak and dead. There was life there. Now, there is the look of a forest fire without the resultant new growth. Nothing will grow back amid the poison of Corexit and Oil.
When a crew of journalists and environmental groups studying the effects of the BP Deepwater Macondo oil spill disembarked on Cat Island in Baratria Bay last week, there was a collective gasp.
“It looks like there was a fire here,” said Doug Meffert, vice president of the National Audubon Society and president of the Louisiana chapter, “but there wasn’t a fire.”
The bones of black mangrove stumps are all that remain of what was a thriving bird rookery here in Plaquemines Parish Four years ago, footage of oiled brown pelicans and the thousands of shorebirds nesting here went around the world in the aftermath of the 200 million gallons of thick crude that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
Today the only green thing on the beach is a glass bottle. There are no pelicans, no mangroves, and worse, much of Cat Island itself is washing away. It and most of the barrier islands and marsh in Barataria Bay are steadily degrading, losing their battles with coastal erosion and subsidence faster than ever.
Areas around Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, La. were particularly hard hit, but they weren’t the only affected areas. Moreover, thousands of birds, other wildlife and marine life including dolphins perished, were oiled, sickened and overall left in distress. The effects on the area resonate now, which is only a shock to those either unfamiliar with garish oil spills or unwilling to accept the truth.
In the days following the “spill”, BP, apparently colluding with the US Government, doused a horrific amount of a deadly dispersant in the affected areas. Called “Corexit”, the cutesy name belies the sickening effects it brings to all it touches. On background, an environmentalist working in the area explained to me last year that they were, essentially, damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t, but chose the lesser of two ills.
That remains to be seen as the National Institutes of Health continues its 10-year “GuLF” study of BP spill health effects, from those most affected out on the Vessels of Opportunity boat that included BP-hired personnel trying to contain the spill, to residents in the line of fire, such as around Barataria Bay.
There is a way of life dying along the southern parts of the Gulf Coast in Louisana. The coastline disappears daily, the salt water intrudes in to the fresh water marshes, and the land doesn’t sustain the people or the animals like it once did. There is not better place to study the impacts of the extraction business and human addiction to fossil fuels than many parts of Cajun Louisiana.
Sea level rise is like an ultra-slow-motion hurricane for low-lying areas, but unlike a hurricane, it can be forecast decades in advance. Projections that some town or road will be underwater in 100 years can—and must—be mitigated against today.
Osborn characterizes the choice as “being proactive rather than reactive. Once you get into situations like Louisiana facing some very serious challenges in a very near time frame, all of a sudden you’re in a reactive posture.” Louisiana is a harbinger of things to come for New York, Miami, and other major coastal cities that would do well to look 20 to 75 years ahead and budget accordingly. Local, state, and federal governments will have to make critical decisions about infrastructure, water and sediment diversion, and wetlands restoration in the next 10 to 15 years, he says, and while NOAA scientists can contribute data, they can’t green-light projects or secure funding.
Osborn makes a technical distinction: “Right now it’s what’s called frequently flooded. And the risk is it will be routinely flooded.” Routine flooding will start to happen as early as 10 years from now, he says. They can call it whatever they want, but Gill says soon LA 1 will be “flooded every day during high tide.”
NOAA scientists predict that eventually all the marsh that surrounds LA 1 and Port Fourchon will disappear, connecting two major bodies of water that now are distinct: Barataria Bay and Terrebonne Bay. The only thing out in the water at all, by 2100, may be a raised road and Port Fourchon. “I can imagine Port Fourchon being like the Florida Keys,” says Chiasson, “being on its own, in the middle of open water, maybe a little marsh around it, but nothing between here and there.”
The fact that the entire extraction business is so fraught with so many bad things is why the men that run it must find politicians to protect them from lawsuits and regulations. Making these guys pay for what they’ve done would undoubtedly run their companies deeply into the red. Donation whores like Republican Governor Bobby Jindal will do anything to protect the benefactors that he hopes will fund him to the White House. There is nothing about Louisiana that this man is interested in except as a step on the rung of his personal ascent.
The state Senate targeted the flood protection authorities around New Orleans and the lawsuit one of the levee boards filed against the oil and gas industry for damages to the state’s wetlands.
In one bill, advanced by a Senate panel Wednesday morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal would get sweeping power to remove members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities. Opponents said the move, which would allow a governor to remove authority members under certain conditions, reintroduces politics into the levee boards, which is precisely what revamp after the 2005 hurricanes was designed to prevent.
Another measure, which was passed by the full Senate late Tuesday night, would derail a lawsuit filed last year by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East against 97 oil and gas companies. The levee board sought damages for contributing to coastal erosion and led to higher than anticipated storm surges.
Jindal opposes the lawsuit and has called it a windfall for lawyers, who would be paid with a portion of any winnings rather than a flat fee. Critics say the legislation would keep the oil and gas industry from taking responsibility for damage caused by drilling and productions activities over the years.
SB553 is aimed at a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. It would not impact similar suits filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. But other measures currently being considered might.
The legislation passed Tuesday night, Senate Bill 553, would apply to retroactively. That measure was sent Wednesday morning to the Louisiana House.
Even kindergartners know they should clean up their messes. That is ones that aren’t sociopaths.
But, wherever there has been the extraction business, there are the sociopaths. We have the hundred year anniversary of just such an example.
Linda Linville climbed down the steep stone steps into the dugout on the southern Colorado prairie Sunday where one branch of her family was wiped out in one day 100 years ago.
Her great aunt, her unborn baby and two children died in a fire that broke out during a battle between coal miners striking against John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Colorado National Guard in what became known as the Ludlow Massacre. Twenty-seven-year-old Cedilena Costa, 4-year-old Lucy and 6-year-old Onofrio suffocated from the smoke as they hid below ground to escape the battle. Linville said Cedilena’s husband, Charlie Costa, was captured and shot in the head that day and never knew his family’s fate.
“Anyone who says they died in vain is wrong,” said Linville, a retired history teacher from Corona, Calif., referring to the fact that the miners eventually ended up going back to work without winning any of their demands.
The massacre and battle left 21 people dead, including the Greek-American union leader Louis Tikas, and set off 10 days of civil war in which the miners killed 30 mine guards, supervisors and strikebreakers. They surrendered only after President Woodrow Wilson sent federal troops to the state.
The deaths drew national attention to the long running strike and forced Rockefeller to take a public role in Colorado Fuel & Iron. He instituted a company union and grievance system, which the miners later rejected when the won a right to unionize on their own during the New Deal. The massacre and the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 are credited with the helping win the eventual passage of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.
Linville and over 100 others — including members of the United Mine Workers of America wearing the red bandanas the strikers wore — gathered at the site of the former Ludlow tent colony to mark the massacre’s 100th anniversary with a Greek Orthodox Easter service. It was very similar to the one the miners, who came from a variety of countries, shared in 100 years ago with the Greek strikers the day before the massacre. In a coincidental reminder of Ludlow’s international community, the Easter service will include the traditional reading of the Gospel story in many languages to symbolize the universality of its message.
It is easy to look back at the years of coal and oil and see that not much has really changed in terms of the business. The only thing that’s changing is that people, nature, and animals don’t have a chance at all and the deathtoll and damage are obvious if you actually get to see it. I have a small car. I really don’t drive much at all. I think in a busy week I may put on 15 miles. I have a bike and nearly everything I need is about a mile away. I suppose, for me, that it’s nothing to say that I really don’t benefit from any of this. I’d frankly rather pay for every single person to have some form of solar or wind generator in their home than the tax breaks we give to the oil industry. I think it would save every one in the country a lot less grief in the short and long run. But then, I could care less how much money the likes of the Koch Brothers earn. I’d frankly rather be dancing on their graves.
I just wanted to add that I found some of these wonderful skull art prints from this site.
I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is an open thread.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Today is the last day of 2013. Tonight at midnight, we’ll bid adieu to another year. I can’t say I’m sorry to see this one go.
There will be lots of celebratory fireworks in cities around to world tonight; the revelry has already begun in New Zealand. USA Today:
New Zealand rang in the New Year with multicolored fireworks erupting from Auckland’s Sky Tower at midnight Tuesday as thousands of cheering revelers danced in the streets of the South Pacific island nation’s largest city.
Early pyrotechnic shows erupted over Sydney Harbor, dazzling hundreds of thousands viewers ahead of the main event in Australia and Dubai will later try to create the world’s largest fireworks show to ring in 2014.
Unfortunately we’ve also seen some scarier explosions in the past couple of days. Yesterday afternoon there was another accident in North Dakota involving the transport of crude oil. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: Cassleton, N.D. residents flee town after oil train explosion. So far the evacuations are still voluntary and only about 65% of the 2,400 residents of Cassleton have left their homes.
The explosion happened shortly after 2 p.m. Monday after a BNSF grain train derailed and crashed into a crude oil train near Casselton, which is 20 miles west of Fargo, causing tank cars to explode in towering mushroom-cloud flames. No one was injured in the crash….
In the initial hours after the explosion, authorities told residents to stay indoors to avoid the smoke. Later, when residents were urged to evacuate, some drove to Fargo, where a shelter had been set up for them.
BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the train carrying grain derailed first, then knocked several cars of the oil train off adjoining tracks. BNSF said both trains had more than 100 cars each….
“It was black smoke and then there were probably four explosions in the next hour to hour and a half,” said Eva Fercho, a Casselton resident who saw the fiery aftermath.
The cars were still burning as darkness fell, and authorities said they would be allowed to burn out.
The derailment happened amid heightened concerns about the United States’ increased reliance on rail to carry crude oil. Fears of catastrophic derailments were particularly stoked after last summer’s crash in Quebec of a train carrying crude from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch. Forty-seven people died in the ensuing fire.
The explosions Monday afternoon sent flames and black smoke skyward outside of Casselton, about 40 kilometres west of Fargo. Investigators couldn’t get close to the blaze and official estimates of how many train cars caught fire varied….
Ryan Toop, who lives less than a kilometre away, said he heard explosions and drove as close as about two city blocks to the fire, which erupted on a day when temperatures were below zero.
“I rolled down the window, and you could literally keep your hands warm,” Toop said.
The tracks that the train was on pass through the middle of Casselton, and Cass County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tara Morris said it was “a blessing it didn’t happen within the city.”
No kidding. I’d say that’s a pretty big understatement. Here’s some raw video of the explosion.
In Russia, there are fears that two suicide bombings on Sunday and Monday signal “that a terrorist campaign may have begun that could stretch into the Winter Olympics.” AP via ABC News:
In the wake of Sunday’s bombing at the city’s main railway station and Monday’s blast on a trolleybus, police reinforcements and Interior Ministry troops have been sent into the city, regional police official Andrei Pilipchuk was quoted as telling the Interfax news agency. He said more than 5,200 security forces are deployed in the city of 1 million.
The Health Ministry said three more victims died on Tuesday, raising the toll to 34 — 18 from the station bombing and 16 from the bus. Officials said 65 other people were hospitalized with injuries.
Volgograd authorities have canceled mass events for New Year’s Eve, one of Russia’s most popular holidays, and asked residents not to set off fireworks. In Moscow, festivities were to go ahead but authorities said security would be increased.
There has been no claim of responsibility for either bombing, but they came only months after the leader of an Islamic insurgency in southern Russia threatened new attacks on civilian targets in the country, including on the Winter Games that are to begin Feb. 7 in Sochi.
After their enthusiastic defense of the racism, sexism, pedophilia, and homophobia of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Roberts, you’d think right-wingers would hesitate to attack a mild commentary involving race on MSNBC, but you’d be wrong.
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and the panelists on her Sunday morning show drew criticism Monday for poking fun at a Romney family photo that included their adopted African-American grandson, Kieran Romney.
Harris-Perry had the panelists attempt to caption a Romney family photo, which included all of Mitt Romney’s grandchildren.
Harris-Perry joked that Kieran Romney would marry Kanye West’s daughter, North West.
“Could you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?” she asked.
Panelist and comedian Dean Obeidallah said the photo “really sums up the diversity of the Republican party.” And actress Pia Glenn started singing “one of these things is not like the other.”
Steve Benen took a look back at the Sunday political talk shows to see what proportion of the guests were from the Democratic and Republican parties. We knew this already, but it’s stunning to see it in a graphic.
The general impression is rooted in fact: the Sunday shows love Republicans. “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week,” “State of the Union,” and “Fox News Sunday,” hoping to reflect and help shape the conventional wisdom for the political world, collectively favor GOP guests over Democratic guests every year, but who were the big winners in 2013?
The…chart shows every political figure who made 10 or more Sunday show appearances this year, with red columns representing Republicans and blue columns representing Democrats. For 2013, the race wasn’t especially close – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) easily came out on top, making 27 appearances this year. That works out to an average of one appearance every 1.9 weeks (or 2.25 Sunday show appearances a month, every month for a year).
Incredible, isn’t it? Newt Gingrich doesn’t even hold any office and, as Benen points out, “hasn’t served in public office since resigning in disgrace 15 years ago” was in third place in front of Dick Durbin, the supposedly powerful Senate Majority Whip.
According to Mike Konczal of The New Republic, 2013 Was a Bad Year for Wall St. Lobbyists.
Last year, nobody thought that banks would face tougher holding requirements for capital, that regulations of the financial derivatives markets would advance, or that the final Volcker would be a pretty good start instead of an incoherent mess. Yet that is what appears to have happened in 2013. So what caused it? And how it might apply to future political goals?
The successes of 2013 were partially driven by the failures of Wall Street in 2012. The multi-billion dollar trading losses from JPMorgan Chase known as the “London Whale” changed the dynamics for financial reform in a way that took a year to realize. JPMorgan had been leading the charge against reform, arguing that the effort was over-harsh and destructive, and that Wall Street had already cleaned up its act on its own. Indeed, the big concern in 2012 was that Wall Street would convince enough moderate Democrats that Dodd-Frank had gone too far in certain respects, and that Congress would stop regulatory action before it was even completed. This fell apart right alongside the multi-billion dollar losses in JPMorgan’s position. Though various bills to remove parts of Dodd-Frank would pass the House by Republican votes, these efforts failed to generate moderate Democratic votes in the Senate after the Whale trade became public.
Read the rest at the link.
Hey did you know that dolphins like to get high? Read about it at The Independent: Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around.
In extraordinary scenes filmed for a new documentary, young dolphins were seen carefully manipulating a certain kind of puffer fish which, if provoked, releases a nerve toxin.
Though large doses of the toxin can be deadly, in small amounts it is known to produce a narcotic effect, and the dolphins appeared to have worked out how to make the fish release just the right amount.
Carefully chewing on the puffer and passing it between one another, the marine mammals then enter what seems to be a trance-like state.
The behaviour was captured on camera by the makers of Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, a series produced for BBC One by the award-winning wildlife documentary producer John Downer.
Hey, why is that surprising? Lots of animals probably enjoy altered states of consciousness. Have you ever seen a cat on catnip? What about a big cat?
Finally, I highly recommend these two posts on the NSF/Snowden story by NSFWCORP writers now publishing at Pando Daily, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine respectively.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please post your recommended links in the comment thread.
I hope 2014 will be a great year for all of you!!
If you listen to the GOP, you’d be convinced that the WH, Democrats in general and crazed environmentalists specifically had nixed the Keystone Pipeline out of sheer orneriness or a deep-seated hatred of good ‘ole American Capitalism. Rick Santorum and his Prince of Darkness tour would no doubt smell brimstone in the midst of any pipeline dissent.
Well, surprise, surprise. The push back is not limited to protestors in the United States. Our northern neighbors in Canada have as many if not more objections to the Petro State ripping through their country, poisoning watersheds, destroying wildlife and property, causing disease and health problems among citizens, all in the name of King Oil and the desire to wring every last drop out of the planet.
The Hell with Consequences!
First Nation, the indigenous population of Canada, has already predicted:
There will be blood!
Why the outcry? Enbridge, Inc. and the conservative government in Canada is pressing forward with their own pipeline project, Northern Gateway, which would carry 500,000+ barrels a day 731 miles from a town near Edmonton, westward through the Rocky Mountains to a port on the British Columbia [BC] coast. Over 60 indigenous organizations have expressed their opposition, refusing to be moved by the promise of revenue, jobs and an increase in their quality of life because their lives are deeply attached to the natural resources of BC, most importantly the integrity of the salmon trade that depends on the streams and tributaries of the Fraser and Skeena Rivers. In addition, the proposed port on the coast, which would host over 200 oil tankers a year, could expose the Great Bear rainforest to irreparable damage.
Interestingly enough, First Nation opposition is the most serious threat to the Harper government’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pipeline. Unlike other indigenous groups, First Nation never signed treaties with the Canadian government and consequently never relinquished their lands to the Federal government. On the other hand, the government and oil companies have nearly unlimited funds to fight this battle in court.
According to the LA Times report Tribal Chief Jackie Thomas has said:
“It’s going to be a war. The only question is, who’s going to draw the first blood.”
And here’s a chilling factoid: Enbridge is the same company responsible for the leak of 800,000+ gallons [the EPA now reports over 1 million gallons] of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River, Michigan. Presumably, the oil company has spent $700 million in reclamation procedures. The area is still a gigantic mess.
Added to the environmental risks [the cost of which is usually ignored] the Northern Pipeline is likely to boost the price of oil for Canadian consumers because like the Keystone proposal, the oil would be exported, not available domestically. The video below is instructive in a grim way.
Why are we having these bitter disputes?
Because we desperately need new energy sources. And there’s tons of money on the line. More importantly, we need an Energy Policy/Strategy, where the pros and cons of transitional sources are seriously considered–the trade-offs, the costs, what we as a culture are willing to put up with or risk until renewable, clean sources are developed and brought online. That’s a plan that would look at what we need today, five years down the road, 10, 20, 30 years. You set benchmarks. You invest in, encourage and unleash innovation, while focusing on increased efficiency from power plants–the traditional US coal power plant is only 35% efficient, meaning we’re wasting most of the energy we’re producing–to autos to buildings to everything else.
Where is that policy? Nada.
The Department of Defense’s push towards alternative energy is not a sign of the US military becoming rabid tree huggers. As the world’s largest institutional energy consumer, the DOD knows the score: the days of cheap fossil fuel are over and our dependence on foreign and unfriendly suppliers is a serious security issue. The Department’s commitment to this reality can be seen in proposed budget expenditures: $3 billion by 2015; $10 billion by 2030.
As GreenTech Media reported, this sort of shift has historical parallels:
Military spending in support of energy is not new. Winston Churchill’s decision in 1911 to move the British Navy, then the world’s then most dominant military force, from coal to oil changed the world’s energy marketplace. The emerging trend in DoD spending on renewables is an equally historic marker.
Neither American or Canadian energy needs should come down to an either/or contest: shut off the electricity or rip the environment apart, robbing people, wildlife, the very planet of their health, sustainability and future. We cannot poison our watersheds, jeopardize our aquifers or damage fertile farmlands for the sake of profits or our unwillingness to conserve and efficiently utilize what we have. King Oil has ruled long enough. The damage they’re willing to exact is unacceptable, even obscene.
First Nation peoples of British Columbia know this and are willing to fight tooth and nail to preserve what’s left of their way of life and cultural traditions. To save the irreplaceable.
There may very well be blood. It’s a worthy fight.