Hey, what do you know?
They use other animals to sniff out land mines, including dogs and rats…which seems like a more logical answer to me. I mean, if a rat missteps on a landmine and bang….little mess.
But an elephant?
What will you see when you see an elephant step on a landmine?
I’ll tell you one thing, it sure a shit won’t be a small showing.
But back to the elephants….Elephants can also smell water a kabillion miles away as well…so perhaps California could make use of them as well?
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.
As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.
Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.
As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
Well, that is a scary last paragraph there. More of that op/ed at the link.
I know that the beginning of the post was lighthearted, however now I need to touch on some of the destruction set in motion over the last 48 hours in the South Pacific.
Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu as the UN was hosting its third world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan.
That meeting heard that over the past 45 years the Asia Pacific region has suffered cumulative economic losses of $A1.49 trillion from natural disasters, and had lost more than 2 million lives. And Vanuatu, according to a key report presented to delegates, was the country most at risk in the entire world, followed by Tonga, The Philippines, Japan and Costa Rica.
Today, as the island nation begins to count its dead and the economic cost of the weekend destruction, it will need all its traditional resilience to live up to its name. Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever,” a phrase that has always struck an appropriately defiant note in the face of the many threats it faces.
In this latest challenge, winds of up to 270km per hour ripped through the island group, after building speed as the cyclone passed first over Kiribati and then Solomon Islands immediately to Vanuatu’s north west. Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, who was in Port Vila, told Reuters that as the cyclone hit the city, “it felt like the world was coming to an end”.
Be sure to read that article, it has a lot of information, about the island nation…it’s people and what they will be going through after the clean up.
Cyclone Pam hit the island as a Category 5. First aid teams reach Vanuatu, find widespread devastation after cyclone | Reuters
The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu reported widespread devastation on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency after a “monster” cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.
With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.
Aid workers were particularly worried about the southern island of Tanna. An official with the Australian Red Cross told Reuters an aircraft had managed to land there and aid workers confirmed there was “widespread destruction”.
“Virtually every building that is not concrete has been flattened,” said the official, adding two deaths had been confirmed on the island which has a population of about 29,000 and is about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital, Port Vila.
Witnesses in Port Vila described sea surges of up to eight metres (26 feet) and widespread flooding as the category 5 cyclone hit. Residents said the storm sounded like a freight train. Port Vila was strewn with debris and looked as if a bomb had gone off.
Pacific nation devastated by historic Cyclone Pam – Video at that link.
And then, on the other side of the world, a tragic bus accident: Brazil bus crash: at least 40 dead after plunge off cliff | World news | The Guardian
At least 40 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.
The bus, en route from the neighbouring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of metres before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were bringing up dozens of bodies as well as survivors.
The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.
Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.
Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.
Alright, back to the other links:
Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used his personal email while governor of Florida to discuss troop deployments, nuclear plant protection and other such matters, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The report followed revelations that Democrat Hillary Clinton, also seen as a likely presidential candidate, used a personal email account exclusively during her time as secretary of state, raising questions about security and transparency.
On his personal account, email@example.com, Bush discussed the Florida National Guard’s movements and training activities as well as his decision to provide less security to nuclear power plants in the state, the newspaper reported.
Bush aides told the Post that none of the emails contained sensitive or classified information, and many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts. But security experts say private email systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers.
Democrats have attempted to divert the focus on Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work as U.S. secretary of state by saying that Bush used the same practice in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
Then you have this, Hillary Clinton’s Over-Played Woman Card | RealClearPolitics
Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”
Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”
I assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)
That shitty piece is written by a woman by the way…I won’t quote any more from it, you can go and read the rest of the bait at the link if you really want to. That is if you feel like getting in a pissy mood.
So after a link to an article like that, how about a link to someone good…that cares about her fellow women: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian
One of the most common derisive taunts thrown at feminists – and one of the oldest – is “manhater”. It’s been around since the days of suffrage, and still gets used today, though its a pretty anodyne insult. Most feminists, like me, shun the label and work to convince people that despite the stereotypes feminists absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men.
But so what if we did?
It’s not that I recommend hating men or think it a particularly wise use of one’s time, but to each her own. Straight white men still hold the majority of political, economic and social power in the world, and everyone else struggles to make their lives work with less. So if the worst thing that happens to a man is that a woman doesn’t like him …well, he has it pretty damn good. It’s not as if we’re living in some sort of Wicker Man-inspired dystopia, after all.
Besides, when women hate men, we hurt their feelings. When men hate women, they kill us: mass shootings have been attributed to misogyny, and sexual and domestic violence against women is often fuelled by a hatred for women.
That’s why it’s so hard to take seriously any claims that “misandry” is a tremendous problem – they’re based on the idea that merely insulting men is similar to the life-threatening misogyny women face worldwide. (Most recently, Newsday writer Cathy Young argued that men being called “mansplainers” or rape apologists is akin to the rape and death threats that women get online.)
But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”
Finish it up at the link.
Hey, check this out: Republican Votes for Loretta Lynch May Be at Historic Low
The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.
Lynch is on course to be confirmed this month after the longest wait ever for a nominee to be attorney general — and very likely by the closest vote ever to put a new person in charge of the Justice Department.
When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate debate on the nomination would begin next week, it marked 17 weeks and three days since President Barack Obama announced his choice for one of the most prestigious and pivotal positions in his Cabinet. At the time, Lynch was assured the bare minimum level of public support required for victory. Only four Republicans have announced they’ll join the 46 members of the Democratic Caucus in voting for her, meaning that at least for the time being Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had best keep his March travel schedule a bit flexible.
Still, her sluggishly contentious path toward becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official has garnered relatively little public attention. That’s in large part because Lynch hasn’t become a focus of the daily partisan histrionics on the Hill or on cable news. And a big reason for that is because neither side views the fundamental dispute over her — extraordinary as it is by historical standards — to be remarkable at all in the context of today.
One more feminist article: TripAdvisor removes ‘feminist’ review | UK news | The Guardian
A review in which a customer described seeing a manager biting a waitress and slapping her on the bottom has been removed by TripAdvisor for contravening its guidelines.
And lastly…Cuba is coming into the 20th Century: Free Wi-Fi in Havana Shows Cuba’s Telecommunications Future — The Atlantic
It’s an image that’s familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country’s history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.
To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media. It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.
“Thanks to this service I can talk to him,” the man, Adonis Ortiz, told theWashington Post.
This is something amazing indeed…
At least I think so. Not on the political front, but just in terms of a cultural standpoint. We are talking about a country driven by the car wheels of the 50’s…literally.
Three months after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations, the island’s long period of isolation appears to be coming to an end—and telecommunications is just one dimension of the change. On Saturday, a group of 80 civic and business leaders will travel from New Orleans to Havana to attend a conference, marking the first direct flight between the two cities in 57 years. And next week, a New York-based tour operator will launch a weekly charter flight between the Cuban capital and New York’s JFK airport.
Still, Cuba’s antiquated communications infrastructure presents an obstacle to economic development. In anticipation of restored U.S-Cuban ties, Havana is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across a range of sectors, but the lack of IT resources hampers these relationships. Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.
The transition to a modern, Internet-driven economy won’t happen overnight. Nor is it certain to force political change. In the U.S., critics of normalization have argued that establishing closer economic ties to Cuba will only empower the Castro regime. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and probable presidential candidate, has cited evidence that engagement with other Communist countries did not compel them to liberalize.
“We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China,” Rubio said in December. “They’re not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened.”
Kcho’s cultural center offering free wi-fi in Havana, too, offers little promise of political liberalization—the center even hosted Fidel Castro last year. But for Cubans long deprived of the quality Internet service the developed world takes for granted, getting online has less to do with politics than with daily conveniences such as communicating with friends and buying things off the web. Belkis Baisal, a bed and breakfast operator in Havana, told AFP that regular Internet access will allow her to advertise her rooms. Normalization, she said, is a positive sign.
“It’s better to have friends than enemies.”
In an October (2014) survey, 40 percent of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking, the organization Safe Kids Worldwide reported. And 85 percent of those said they were listening to music, talking on their phones or texting when it happened.
Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cellphones.
That was almost six times as many as five years earlier.
And Nasar said the number was probably much higher since it isn’t strictly tracked. He hasn’t followed up since, although he and others are working on a study of just how prevalent cellphone use is on the street.
Several hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley said they don’t ask people if they were texting when they got hurt. And patients may be too embarrassed to volunteer the information.
“They may not want to admit they were an idiot,” Nasar said.
Most of us are no stranger to this scenario: A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them! Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two. It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then. Today’smultifunctional phones have become anindispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.
We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly. But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.
It’s been a long, terrible day. As you recount your struggles, you suddenly notice your partner is furiously typing on his phone. Your anger boils (you’ve forgotten that you did the same thing to him just yesterday). It’s time to step away from the smartphone, put down the tablet, shut the laptop and turn off the TV. A slew of recent researchsuggests that if people want happy relationships, they need to stop clinging to technology.
In a new study, Coyne asked 143 married or cohabitating women to answer questions about technology use and relationships. She wanted to understand how technology encroaches on our lives and relationships, what she calls “technoference.” The vast majority of respondents, 70 percent, said using a cell phone interrupted interactions between them and their partners sometimes, often, very often or all the time. Even more, 74 percent, said that computers sometimes, often, very often or all the time disturbed their interactions with partners.
The women who reported technoference also said they fought more with their partners, which made them feel badly about their relationships. On top of this, they felt more depressed and less satisfied with life.
“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” she says.
Still there’s other research showing that cell phone dependence can be unhealthy.
“Cell phone attachment is positively related to an increase in stress and anxiety and even depression,” says James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.
In a 2012 paper, Roberts coined the word “phub,” a mash-up of phone and snub. Phubbing occurs when someone chooses to play with an app, text or take a phone call instead of paying attention to a person.
“Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he says. “It touches at our core.”
Oh boy…the horror…..Cubans are a hot-blooded people, believe me I know from my experience. But we are also a passionate emotionally connected people with a strong culture of close associations. We are not a cold group of people either…we hug…human contact is big with us. So I hope that those kinds of cultural values don’t change as technology seeps into Cuba. I can’t say if it has changed within out own communities here in the US…as I have been stuck in Hicktown Banjoville for so dang long, but I can at least hope and pretend things are still the same back home in West Tampa. It’s all I got sometimes, when all around me is fried chicken and racist ignorance. I do miss the days when there were more colors in my world….all types of colors.
You all have a great day.
I’ve been looking at media stories this week. That includes both traditional and nontraditional forms. The internet continues to influence the release of news and how news is made and reported. Several topics really caught my eye. The first is the ease with which we’re seeing documentation of Bill O’Reilly’s exaggerations on places he’s been and news stories he covered. It seems like one exaggeration/lie after another is popping up from all kinds of places since David Corn of Mother Jones found out that O’Reilly was never near a battlefield during the Falklands War despite the stories O’Reilly tells. Here’s some of the latest on the life and times of the blustery, on line person who really is a serial liar.
Former colleagues of Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host whose tales of past reporting exploits are facing renewed scrutiny, have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.
Six people who covered the riots with O’Reilly in California for Inside Edition told the Guardian they did not recall an incident in which, as O’Reilly has claimed, “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protesters”.
Several members of the team suggested that O’Reilly may instead be overstating a fracas involving one disgruntled Los Angeles resident, who smashed one of their cameras with a piece of rubble.
Two of the team said the man was angered specifically by O’Reilly behaving disrespectfully after arriving at the smoking remains of his neighbourhood in a limousine, whose driver at one point began polishing the vehicle. O’Reilly is said to have shouted at the man and asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”
O’Reilly, 65, is one of the most influential figures in American broadcasting and publishing. He is paid a reported $20m a year to host his show, the O’Reilly Factor, which consistently ranks among the most-watched current affairs programs in US cable TV. He has also authored several bestselling books and memoirs.
He has for several days been defending himself against accusations that he inflated his recollections of reporting from Argentina at the end of the Falklands war as a young correspondent for CBS News. The Guardian found he had told differing versions of an apparent encounter at gunpoint with Argentinian forces.
He has also been accused of lying in one of his books about being present at the scene when a CIA source, who had allegedly been linked to the assassination of President John F Kennedy, killed himself in 1977.
Fox News and Holt–publisher of O’Reilly’s book on Kennedy–have stood firmly by their man. O’Reilly’s show has never much been about facts any way as delivering anger to a key republican base. This would seem hard to ignore. Additionally, O’Reilly has actually threatened reporters. Every one expected the name calling but it’s gone way beyond that now. How can Fox stand behind an on air personality that lies and threatens journalists?
As the controversy surrounding Bill O’Reilly and his war reporting experiences continues to heat up, with more allegations coming out each day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wonders how much longer Fox News can stand by the host.
On Wednesday evening, Maddow spoke with Mother Jones author David Corn, one of the journalists who wrote the original report revealing the inaccuracies in O’Reilly’s story. O’Reilly subsequently called Corn “a liar” and said that he deserves to be put in “the kill zone.” On Tuesday, the Fox News host threatened a New York Times reporter covering the scandal: “I am coming after you with everything I have,” O’Reilly said.
“Apparently, they [Fox News] think it’s proper for one journalist to call another one names,” Corn told Maddow. “Not that it scares me off the story, but I have family and I have friends who are concerned about me now.”
Corn called the threats “highly inappropriate” and noted that O’Reilly still has not disproven “a single fact” from his piece.
Maddow said that after his threats to Corn and the Times’ reporter, it is “untenable” for Fox News to stand by him.
“They employ a lot of journalists, including those who work in risky situations,” she said. “Fox is a good place to work for journalists.”
Maddow made a similar point on her show one night earlier, questioning what O’Reilly’s behavior will do to Fox News’ “work environment” and to the “real reporters” that work there
Why on earth do news personalities like O’Reilly and Brian Williams lie when their jobs should be all about integrity? Do they all yearn to be seen as Walter Cronkite? Do their memories and egos just run amok?
News in America has increasingly become infotainment—half factual information about the world’s events, half dazzling production and splashy narratives. Simultaneously, fewer and fewer Americans have ever seen battle; most of us only know war from what we see in film and television. So war itself becomes difficult to distinguish from entertainment. American Sniper, with its ambiguous moral commitments, is now the highest grossing American war film of all time, adjusted for inflation. Unlike popular war films about battles long past, American Sniper is set during the Iraq war, the effects of which are only beginning to ripple across our culture. Moreover, its story allegedly reflects the true-life story of its central character, sniper Chris Kyle. It’s somewhat true, like the news, but with a better script and pretty actors.
Which makes it hard for the news to keep up, even when you’re as handsome as Brian Williams. Unlike most cinematic retellings of wars, actual wars are multifaceted, complicated, anti-climactic, and grim. When war is already a successful subject in mainstream cinema, news purveyors whose professions have become increasingly akin to entertainment are shrewd to play up war stories in relaying the narrative of the day. The trouble is that shrewdness, for some news professionals, has morphed into a calculated consideration of the entertainment value of war stories, regardless of their factuality.
Maybe Williams and O’Reilly are merely victims of the fallible human brain. Or maybe that hunger to entertain—and, perhaps, for a touch of glory—overwhelmed their professional duty to the facts. What, after all, is more exciting than a war story in which you’re the star.
The other story I’ve followed has been yet another installment of “Is blogging dead?” These are articles that I’ve seen a lot of since around three years ago. I guess the collapse of the Andrew Sullivan experiment has brought on another deluge. The link explores the musings of bloggers from “The Golden Age” which seems an odd way to describe a period of maybe 5 years. Any way, there are a few bloggers with opinions both ways. I’ve followed a few of the links including this one from fellow economist/blogger Noah Smith.
In a nutshell, what is dying is the idea of the blog as a news source. In the old days, as a reader, you would have a favorite blogger, who would write many frequent posts throughout the day. That would be your main news source, your portal to current events. Often the post would have a slight bit of commentary or reaction. Basically, you got to hear the world narrated through the voice of someone you liked. For me, those narrators were University of California, Berkeley, economist Brad DeLong and Matt Yglesias, now at Vox. For many, it was Sullivan.
Twitter has basically killed that. With a Twitter feed you can integrate a bunch of different narrators into a single, flowing newsreel. It turns out that most of the micro-commentary that used to accompany a blog post can be squeezed into one or two tweets.
But the thing about micro-blogging is that, well, it’s micro. If you look at the blogs that Klein lists as the future (and there are many, many more), you will see that they all do posts that are about the length of a news article. That’s something Twitter complements, but can’t replicate.
However, that doesn’t mean that blog posts are now just news articles freed from the tyranny of professional editors. With blogs, you can do something that news can’t easily do — you can carry on a conversation.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about those declaring blogging to be the refuge of 40 year olds with kids or that nothing relevant happens on blogs these days. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are bloggers. But, I would like to point out that Lamar White–a blogging law student–broke two huge stories in the last year. The first was the shoddy situation with moonlight Congressman–now Senator–Double Bill Cassiday. The LSU med center just
audited whitewashed its findings and Lamar is still on top of it. His second piece connecting Congressman Steve Scalise to the local white supremacists and David Duke nearly cost Scalise a leadership position. Indeed, bloggers can frequently do good local investigations which is something local and national media rarely fund any more.
I would agree that blogging is changing but then so are all forms of written communication as well as broadcast media. Chris Cilliza has another notion.
The idea inherent in all of the death knells for blogging is that blogging is any one thing. It’s not. As I explain to anyone who will listen to me — an ever-shrinking populace — a “blog” is simply a publishing medium. It’s a way to put content on the Internet — usually a fast and, relatively, user-friendly way. But, the conflating a publishing medium with a sort of online writing — opinionated, snarky — that tends to be the preferred approach of many of its users is a mistake.
Well, we’re still standing–or sitting as the case may be–while sharing information with each other. We’ve all come a long way since we were booted from various communities for being loyal to Hillary back in 2008. I think there will always be a place for alternative voices. I say this as a former writer of an underground “newspaper”–The Aardvark–from way back in the day. The medium evolves. The writer’s voice and need to write carries on.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Well, perhaps “dumbassery” is being a little forgiving, since dumbass is not what I would call the two GOP examples below…more like assholes, yeah that is it.
But I don’t think “assholery” would have passed as part of the title so, there it is.
This tweet from CPAC should set the mood…
Aaaaand it goes down from there…one person who should be in attendance at that minority seminar: Conservative leader caught on live mic: ‘The Jews are the problem’ | The Raw Story
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (retired), the executive vice president of the conservative Family Research Council, was caught on a “hot mic” on Thursday joking that “the Jews are the problem” to an Israeli reporter and pitching his theory about President Barack Obama using “subliminal messages” to signal support for al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, in audio posted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Friday.
“If you understand anything about Islam, there are subliminal messages,” Boykin can be heard saying. “His message, really, I believe was, ‘I understand you, and I support you.’”
Boykin’s remarks were captured after an online broadcast of a panel at the National Security Action Summit. The SPLC reported that the event is held as a counter to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and features speakers who, like Boykin, have not been allowed to participate there.
(Emphasis mine.) Guess even CPAC has some kind of standards.
Though the panel’s video feed shut down, the audio continued broadcasting, enabling Boykin to be heard as he argued that, as a result of the “messages,” al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood saw that “that they have a president that identifies with them, that has been supportive of them inside the United States and is unwilling to go against them.”
According to the SPLC, Boykin was then approached by someone about doing an interview with Henry Schwartz, a reporter for Israel National News, described as a “right-wing” publication.
“The Jews are the problem,” Boykin can be heard saying. “The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.” An unidentified person responds, “I know, I know, that’s why we’re trying to fix everything.”
The event’s organizer, Frank Gaffney, has accused CPAC’s organizers, the American Conservative Union, of having ties to the Brotherhood.
I don’t know, this guy Boykin must be best friends with Mel Gibson?
Video at the link.
After something like that, we need to laugh. So take a look at this asshole, who gets the Aasif Mandvi treatment: ‘Fox Business’ Commentator Tells ‘Daily Show’ Correspondent, ‘If You’re Poor, Stop Being Poor’
After watching Aasif Mandvi’s segment on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” two things are clear: 1) America has the greatest healthcare system in the world (if 37th place is considered the greatest), and 2) some people shouldn’t do interviews with “Daily Show” correspondents.
Case in point, “Fox Business” commentator and NYSE Euronext Managing Director Todd Wilemon has a couple of jaw-dropping moments in this interview about “third world” healthcare conditions in Knoxville, Tennessee, not the least of which is his statement right at the end: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.”
Watch the clip above, and keep an eye out for one of the more awkward pauses in “Daily Show” history.
You can also see the video here: Third World Health Care – Knoxville, Tennessee Edition – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 03/06/14 – Video Clip | Comedy Central
By the way, pictures for today are from the blog Underground New York Public Library…which is not affiliated by the New York Public Library.
The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.
The photos come together as a visual library. This library freely lends out a reminder that we’re capable of traveling to great depths within ourselves and as a whole.
The blog work is done by Ourit Ben-Haim who says he:
…make the pictures and the posts. I’m fascinated by how we apply ourselves to stories and discourse. In so doing, we shape who we understand ourselves to be.
What a neat site to lose yourself in…enjoy it.
On Friday, Dak had a fabulous post about New Orleans…well, this next link is about the latest fashion “craze” is a perfect complement. In fact, I am sure those folks singing the traditional ‘shallow water, your mama,’ song were wearing the #normcore look and Dak must see the “mallclothes” “’90s-era dads” “anonymous” style as these young urbanites look for kale in that “Chocolate City.” (Ugh…yeah, I could not help myself. 10 years ago, wow.)
You may have noticed a new hashtag invading the internet this week: #normcore. It has everyone dusting off their stonewashed jeans and athletic socks and hopping on the bandwagon.
But just what is normcore exactly? In short: it’s a trend of young urbanites dressing like bland ’90s-era dads. Articles of clothing involved include athletic shorts, New Balance sneakers and fleece zip-ups. Basically, anything that will allow you to stand out by looking anonymous.
Nothing is more sexy than looking like a 90’s dad.
Why is normcore a thing? It seems to be a way for adherents to counteract stereotypes by dressing mundanely in order to stand out. Theories abound regarding why millennials are attracted to the trend, but the prevailing theory suggests that it’s a way for them to reject the idea of “buying in” to a particular style.
Basically, dressing like your parents did 20 years ago is cooler than shelling out money to assume another identity. Of course, it only works if you’re doing it on purpose.
Seriously, look at the tweets from this fashion twitter The Cut New York Magazine:
Here is the actual article: Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion – The Cut
K-HOLE describes normcore as a theory rather than a look; but in practice, the contemporary normcore styles I’ve seen have their clear aesthetic precedent in the nineties. The editorials in Hot and Cool look a lot like Corinne Day styling newcomer Kate Moss in Birkenstocks in 1990, or like Art Club 2000’s appropriation of madras from the Gap, like grunge-lite and Calvin Klein minimalism. But while (in their original incarnation) those styles reflected anxiety around “selling out,” today’s version is more ambivalent toward its market reality. Normcore isn’t about rebelling against or giving into the status quo; it’s about letting go of the need to look distinctive, to make time for something new.
The demographic leading the normcore trend is, by and large, Western Millennials and digital natives. Stylist-editors like Hot and Cool’s Alice Goddard and Garmento’s Jeremy Lewis are children of the nineties, teens of the aughts. The aesthetic return to styles they would’ve worn as kids reads like a reset button—going back to a time before adolescence, before we learned to differentiate identity through dress. The Internet and globalization have challenged the myth of individuality (we are all one in 7 billion), while making connecting with others easier than ever. Normcore is a blank slate and open mind—it’s a look designed to play well with others.
And what is more disgusting? Check out the price of these shorts…and t-shirt.
Dolce & Gabbana nods to vintage summer style with these washed-denim shorts, treated for an aged appearance. This pair is constructed in Italy for a laid-back fit and broken-in feel.
The secret to Sunspel‘s superb T-shirts is in the cotton: fine, long-staple yarns are used to create a soft and durable jersey that will hold its shape after repeated wear and washing. This version, striped in blue, grey and white, is a reliable choice that will remain stylish for years to come. Add it to your weekend repertoire as a go-to for relaxed days off.
What was that last sentence from The Cut?
Normcore is a blank slate and open mind…
Blank slate and blank mind. Well, all I got to say to that is, “Shallow water, Yo Mama”.
In addition to that ridiculous fashion trend of Normcore, did you see this sad story from Michigan? Woman’s car payments hid her death for 6 years, body found mummified in backseat of car
For years, the payments went out of the woman’s bank account.
Nobody batted an eyelid. Bills were paid and life went on as normal in the quiet neighborhood of Pontiac, Michigan.
Neighbors didn’t notice anything unusual.
The woman traveled a lot, they said, and kept to herself.
One of them mowed her grass to keep things looking tidy.
At some point, her bank account ran dry.
The bills stopped being paid.
And guess what happened then…
After its warnings went unanswered, the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the house, a common occurrence in a region hit hard by economic woes.
Still, nobody noticed what had happened inside the house.
Nobody wondered out loud what had become of the owner.
Not until this week, when a worker sent by the bank to repair a hole in the roof made a grisly discovery.
The woman’s mummified body was sitting in the backseat of her car, parked in the garage.
The key was halfway in the ignition.
Authorities say they believe the woman died at least six years ago.
They’re still trying to figure out what happened.
The woman, who authorities aren’t identifying until they’ve informed her family, paid her bills from her bank account through auto-pay, according to McCabe.
Neighbors said they didn’t know much about the dead woman, describing her as in her 40s and of German descent.
“She really kept to herself. We never really heard anything from her,” neighbor Caitlyn Talbot told CNN affiliate WXYZ.
Talbot said she wasn’t aware of anyone having seen the woman, who traveled a lot, in about six years.
“She was probably there for a couple of days, then she’d leave for a week, then she’d come back. Then she’d leave for a month and come back,” Talbot said.
McCabe says neighbors chalked up the woman’s absences to her returning to Germany for long periods of time.
Authorities told WXYZ that the house appears to have black mold inside it, and that detectives entered the building Thursday wearing hazardous material suits.
The mail never piled up, the cops came by the house once back in 2007 when one neighbor said she was not seen for a little while, but when they checked the front door, no sign of foul play so they left…and they never went back.
It seems completely unimaginable to me, how alone, for no one to miss her?
I am going to move on to something else. Prison. (talk about alone)
What started as repair of a tripping hazard at Alcatraz Island led to research that is revealing an old network of underground tunnels and fortifications.
Early results appear to indicate that a “caponier,” or part of an original fortified wall, still lies buried underground on the notorious island in San Francisco Bay.
More at the link…
And, another article on U.S. prisons seen through the eyes of ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ | Reuters
The pages are brown, faded and stained, but the handwriting is meticulous and the words detail a 150-year history of the U.S. prison system through the eyes of one of its most famous inmates.
Robert Stroud, known as the Birdman of Alcatraz for his painstaking study of birds while in federal prison, wrote a four-part book about brutality, sex, bribery and what he saw as the monumental failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates.
Part I “Looking Outward, A Voice from the Grave,” has recently been published in E-book form.
Stroud’s book about prison life, totaling more than 2,000 pages, languished in a basement long after his death in 1963, with publishers concerned about libel balking at a book that named brutal guards and supposedly on-the-take wardens.
“To sadistic-minded persons, helplessness is always an invitation to cruelty,” Stroud wrote.
The stacks of manuscripts stored at Stroud’s former lawyer’s house in Springfield, Missouri, have been converted into the book “Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau Prisons.”
That should be interesting…
One more story on prison life, but this is from a different vantage point…the camera lens: Family historians can now view Victorian criminal records online – Telegraph
Records of more than 67,000 Victorian criminals, detailing crimes ranging from petty theft and drunkenness to arson and murder, are published online for the first time today.
Family history website Ancestry.co.uk said its collection also tells the stories of local peacemakers of the time, including jury candidates and members of the local militia.
The Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners 1854-1904 also includes mug shots of 19th century convicts.
The records include the criminal’s name, place and date of conviction, sentence, physical description and details of previous crimes.
Criminals listed include Samuel Baker, aged 73, who was sentenced to nine months hard labour after breaking into a house to steal two brushes, some vests, and a pair of stockings in 1893; Charles Wood, an unemployed local drunk who was sentenced to one month in prison for “refusing to quit the beer-house” in 1872, and 18-year-old George Pill, who stole a donkey from a neighbour in 1894, resulting in a punishment of six weeks hard labour.
But crimes during the Victorian Age is not the only historical thing I’ve got for you this morning, oh yes, I am getting medieval on your asses today: How to defraud your lord on the medieval manor
In the 1260s, Robert Carpenter, a freehold farmer and former bailiff living on the Isle of Wight, wrote up a formulary – a collection of form letters and legal texts that would be useful for local administration. In the middle of these texts, however, he added detailed instructions on six ways you could commit fraud.
This work has been translated and analyzed by Martha Carlin in her article ‘Cheating the Boss: Robert Carpenter’s Embezzlement Instructions (1261×1268) and Employee Fraud in Medieval England’. Carpenter does not provide any introduction to these texts, nor does he give a hint on why he decided to include it in this work. Some scholars suggest he was bragging about his past exploits, others that he wrote it to warn his readers of ways they could be defrauded. Carlin adds another possibility – that it was “simply as a form of wry recollection or humour with which to entertain himself and his intimates.”
Give those “hints” a read through…I love it!
Here is something that should be criminal: Group warns almost 500 products contain chemical found in yoga mats – CBS News
Subway made news earlier in February when the sandwich chain announced it was removing a chemical called azodicarbonamide (ADA), which is used to make yoga mats, from North American formulations of bread. But now, a consumer advocacy group is warning people that almost 500 more food items on the market have this same compound.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a list Thursday of all the foods that have listed ADA as an ingredient. Large companies like Ball Park, Country Hearth, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Marie Callendar’s, Pillsbury, White Castle and Wonder are just a fraction of the 130 brands that used the chemical in their products. Most of the items are bread, croutons, pre-made sandwiches and snacks.
Nothing is more appetizing than yoga mats.
ADA is used to bleach flour and help make dough stronger and more rubbery. The Food and Drug Administration currently approved the use of the chemical as long as it is used in quantities less than 0.0045 percent of the weight of the flour used.
But, the World Health Organization raised concerns about the compound. Case reports have shown that some workers who come in contact with the product on a regular basis have developed asthma, respiratory symptoms and skin problems. Very few studies have been done on ADA, but animal research has shown that if the compound is inhaled or consumed it tends to not be absorbed and is easily eliminated with the body’s waste.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that ADA forms semicarbazide and urethane when baked, and both have been linked to cancers in mice. They have called for the FDA to ban the chemical since many other breads do not use the compound.
More info at the link…along with a link to the list of products that use ADA.
Last link for you is from Wisconsin Public Radio and includes a story on Weaving, in Afghanistan:
Not every story about Afghanistan involves guns and soldiers. We see the country through art, poetry and games – from the ancient sport of Buzkashi to Afghanistan’s famous hand-woven carpets. Also, Charles Yu on living safely in a science fictional universe.
The film “Buzkashi Boys” is a coming of age story set in Afghanistan’s national sport, Buzkashi. It’s a game of horse polo played with a dead goat instead of a ball. Plus, a coda from novelist Khaled Hosseini.
Anna Badkhen spent a year in the remote Afghan village of Oqa. She got to know the master weavers, who make some of the world’s most beautiful carpets.
Eliza Griswold went to the Pashtun region of Afghanistan to gather landay poems – a tradition of secret poems spoken by Pashtun women.
Afghan-born writer Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” reads from his latest novel, “And the Mountains Echoed.”
Hanan Al-Shaykh bookmarks “Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih.
Charles Yu on quantum parenting, time travel and other science fictional paradoxes. Yu is the author of the acclaimed novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.”
So, I hope you enjoyed those links. Sorry that there are no “newsy” news updates for you today. Please use the comment section below to add anything you find newsworthy…Have a wonderful day.
What a crappy few days it has been… such terrible stories in the news lately. Yeah…text messages, popcorn, penis pumps, poor dead children, (that should be dead poor children), rich GOP dead-beat dads, murdering cops, and judge’s decisions. Oh boy, and let me tell you, things are Fukushima’d up!
Let’s start with Fukushima: The Nuclear Disaster That Won’t Go Away
On New Year’s Day (nearly three years after the initial incident) operators of the Fukushima plant reported that “plumes of most probably radioactive steam” had been seen rising from the reactor 3 building. According to RT.com, “the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.” Unfortunately, high levels of radiation inside the building make it nearly impossible to determine the source of the mystery steam. Although TEPCO, the plant’s operator, claims there’s no increased danger (small comfort from the people who admitted to the world that they have no control over the situation), most agree that the plant is just seconds away from another disaster.
The latest on the Shooting down in Tampa: Profiles Of Man Allegedly Shot For Texting And His Suspected Killer
They say the gun jammed when the killer tried to shoot a second time. Who the fuck was he going to shoot the wife of the man he just killed?
After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that’s when he removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he “was in fear of being attacked.”
The sheriff said at a news conference that Reeves’ son — who was off duty from his job as a Tampa officer — was walking into the theater when the shooting happened. Nocco said Reeves briefly struggled with an off-duty deputy but released the weapon. The gun was jammed and unable to fire again.
I want to know where Reeves went and who he talked to and what was said…what was the son doing there just as the shooting occurred? The management probably to Reeves to move to another seat, I mean how ridiculous was his complaint. It was the damn previews.
Devon Detrapani and her husband Joseph were friends with the Oulsons and that the men worked together at Sky Powersports, a motorcycle and off road vehicle dealer.
Chad Oulson was the company’s finance manager and a hard worker, Detrapani said. He rode dirt bikes on the weekend and “liked” several motocross stars on Facebook, but his true love was his baby daughter, Lexi.
“They are awesome parents,” said Devon Detrapani. “They love that little girl so much.”
Detrapani said that Oulson was texting with his daughter’s daycare on the afternoon he was shot. She said that Oulson was a kind man with no anger issues.
“He is a very nice guy,” she said. “He would give the shirt off his back to help someone.”
Oulson had Monday off and his wife, Nicole, worked at USAA Insurance and took the day off so they could go to the movies together.
Detrapani said she and her husband, who attended kids’ birthday parties with the Oulsons, are in shock.
“This does not make sense. I don’t understand,” she said. “It should have never happened. Now poor Lexi has to grow up without a daddy and Nicole doesn’t have a husband.”
And…on that shooting in New Mexico:
A 12-year-old boy entered his middle school gym, pulled a shotgun out of a bag and opened fire on students waiting for school to start Tuesday, wounding two, authorities in Roswell, New Mexico, said.
A girl, 13, was in stable condition Tuesday night following surgery, authorities said. A boy, 11, was in critical condition after surgery.
The bloodshed rattled students and other citizens of Roswell, a city of just under 50,000 people 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque. Monique Salcido, a Berrendo Middle School student who saw two of her friends get shot, admitted she is “in shock.”
“I don’t want to go to Berrendo again because of what happened,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Because I’m afraid it’s going to happen again.”
The horror might have been much worse if not for one staff member. “(He) walked right up to him and asked him to put down the firearm,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
For some thoughts on this, Charlie Pierce: Gun Shootings January 14, 2014 – Two Days In Gun America
As it happens, I’m sitting in a hotel room a few exits east up I84 from the town of Newtown in Connecticut, where a crazy man named Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 26 people including 21 children. In the immediate aftermath, it was decided by elite opinion leaders that the country had reached a Teachable Moment in its insane attachment to its firearms. And this is what we’ve learned — people are coming to get our guns and we must buy more and better and bigger guns and carry them everywhere so that we can fight off the gun-grabbers and the insane people who we still must allow to have guns because the Second Amendment has no exception for insane people and therefore freedom.
That’s what we’ve learned.
And, in the past couple of days, we’ve had a school shooting in New Mexico, the killing of a man in a movie theater for the crime of texting his daughter, and a Republican group in Oregon which thought the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln was to raffle off a rifle. I mean, why not? Only one of those two guys was murdered with one.
It doesn’t end there. News of the acquittal of cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death is another nugget of shit from the past two days that has pissed me off and Digby has some good coverage of the story here: Hullabaloo
So they found the police not guilty of a crime in the torture and beating death of Kelly Thomas. I haven’t heard what the jury thought they were doing but the defense was based upon the idea that the officers were fighting for their lives.
Take a look at the victim after the beating he endured…
Go…go and look at it and read the rest. I could not bear to put the picture up on the post it is that graphic and disturbing.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out rules from the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, that required Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic equally, a principle known as “net neutrality.”
The decision in the case, which pitted telecommunications giant Verizon against the FCC’s Open Internet rules, might open the door for ISPs to charge major companies like Google or Facebook for speedier access to content, edging out smaller content providers.
This next one really takes the fucking cake: Judge Rules That ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’
Last week, a Swedish judge ruled that a man who proceeded to have sexual intercourse with a woman who was screaming “NO” so loudly that she went hoarse was not guilty of rape. People were understandably upset. And so, today, the judge wrote an op-ed clarifying that what he MEANT was that rape really depends on whether or not the rapist feels like they’re raping someone. Much better!
The case that’s causing forehead slaps across Sweden involves a 27-year-old woman who met a man at a restaurant and
invited him back to her homeaccompanied him back to his home. After some consensual kissing, the man attempted to push for other sex acts, which the woman declined. The man proceeded to have sex with her, anyway, as she screamed “NO” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. Which, you know, is rape. Pretty obviously rape.
Hmmm…..of course, you know…no means not no.
Lund district court judge Ralf G. Larsson, who listened sympathetically to the rapist’s claim that he didn’t think the woman actually meant that “NO” (which she was yelling); rather, she meant YES, which is a common synonym for NO. The woman countered that she most certainly did not mean YES, as she was screaming NO, but the judge ruled that because the rapist doesn’t know what NO means and thought that his victim was kind of into it, that thing he was doing to her as she was yelling NO, no rape was committed.
Today, he explained his big strong man judge logic with an op ed column that was both condescending and idiotic. Larsson wrote,
If the thought had not occurred to him, that she did not want to have sex with him, then he didn’t have any intention to do what he did.
He should have been acquitted. That’s how the rule of law works and that’s how the rule of law should work if I’m going to be a part of the justice system. […]
The woman had made very clear to the man at least six times that she did not want to do what he wanted to do. For example, oral and anal sex came up, and at each such incident the man did not proceed with what he wanted to do.
In other words, because he didn’t every kind of rape, he therefore could not have committed one form of rape. Rock solid logic.
If what is happening right now in mass and social media has the potential to scare less experienced judges, we’re on a dangerous path.
Raise your hand if you think Rolf Larsson has NO business being a judge. And by NO, I mean NO.
I will second that and add a NO and I mean FUCK NO!
In other ridiculous rape news: Anonymous Hacker Who Exposed the Steubenville Rapists May Get More Prison Time Than Rapists : Political Blind Spot
Deric Lostutter, the 26-year-old “hacktivist” who leaked the evidence that led to the conviction of two of the Steubenville, Ohio rapists is now facing more time behind bars than the rapists he exposed. The Steubenville Rape Case made national headlines when a video made by the rapists themselves, and their friends, proved that their victim was unconscious and unable to consent.
Instead of giving Lostutter thanks for exposing these criminals, however, the FBI raided his house last April. At first, Lostutter had denied that he was the man in the video, but he decided to come forward after the appalling reaction of the rapists after they were exposed.
Lostutter is now facing ten years behind bars if indicted for obtaining tweets and social media posts which revealed the details of the rape as well as for threatening action against the Steubenville rapists and school officials who helped to cover up the crime. Lostutter posted the video to the Steubenville High School football team website, bringing national attention to the case and the cover-up.
Word of Lostutter’s 10-years comes just as one of the rapists themselves, Ma’Lik Richomond, 16, was just released from prison for “good behavior.”
I think we need a new Superhero…make it a SuperShero. She is defender of rape victims everywhere, and she pulls a Bruce Wayne ala Peter Parker con Clark Kent on your ass if you rape or attempt to rape a person. Fuck yeah…this is gonna be good. Someone has to help me come up with a good name for her. And a good cover story and job and superpower.
She could be the Sky Dancer mascot…no that won’t do, it doesn’t go with the Buddhism thing. The idea of kicking someone’s ass to a pulp is not very peaceful is it. (I guess that is why the 5th season of Dexter resonated so much for me…not to mention the film Thelma and Louise.)
And while we are on the topic of Women’s Issues and how bad the situation is in the United States: America Gets An Embarrassing C- In Women’s Reproductive Health
The Population Institute has released its annual State of Reproductive Health And Rights report card, and it seems that in the opinion of the massive educational nonprofit, America isn’t doing so hot. If America were a high schooler, America would be grounded until America gets its grades up, otherwise America won’t be getting into any colleges.
The report consolidates information most people who have been paying attention to the news probably suspected: as the federal government attempts to expand access to reproductive health care, right wing ideologues at the state level are working busily to ensure that women can’t physically access the care the federal government is trying to expand. It’s like the federal government built a dream house halfway up a mountain and handed women the keys, but states were like, let’s make it illegal to build a driveway and then put a fence around the house and remove all the doors. And the women of states run by conservatives are like, hey, why can’t I get into my house? And the state legislators are like, use your bootstraps to get in. Monday morning analogy!
Because of this, the United States still lags embarrassingly behind other developed countries in women’s reproductive health (half of pregnancies in the US are “unintended,” which is absurdly high) and, if social conservatives at the state level get their way, could slip even further.
Well, nothing else would be more depressing then the attitude of those right-wing assholes once those pregnancies come to fruition. They just don’t give a damn. Like this next story out of Indiana, which is so upsetting, I can’t even tell you how it disturbed me to read about it. Three Children Died During The Polar Vortex After Their Heat Was Cut Off | ThinkProgress
Like the rest of the mid-west, the town of Hammond, Indiana, spent the first part of last week plunged below zero degrees. But while some families tried to shut out the cold by turning up their heat and staying under blankets, the bitter temperatures turned deadly for the family of a man named Andre Young.
The house that Young was renting for himself, his wife, and five children had its electricity cut off since March, gas since April, and water since October, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune. On that fateful night last week, the family was getting by on propane space heaters. Authorities suspect that’s what sparked a flame that engulfed the house around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8th.
According to witness accounts, Young ran in to the house to try to rescue his five children inside. He successfully saved two — a two-year-old and a six-year-old — before the flames caused serious injury and he collapsed into the snow. Another man tried to kick in the door and save the three children who remained inside, ages four, three, and seven months. But the attempts were unsuccessful; when first responders arrived, they found the three and the four-year-old holding on to one another, just feet from the door. The seven-month-old was nearby. All three children died.
Young, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, works in lawn care, according to the Tribune. His wife worked at Walmart, but most recently was a stay-at-home mom. As is the case with so many low-income families across the U.S., neighbors say the money was not enough to make the utility payments. On two occasions, he had tried to take electricity from meters hooked up to other houses.
Turns out the house had not been inspected and the landlord was ignoring officials and refusing to pay fines, in fact the landlord was supposed to be in court this past Thursday, but did not show. The mother worked at Walmart, the father was in lawn care.
“We inspect every rental property and this one was not inspected,” City Attorney Kristina Kantar told ThinkProgress. “No water, no power, no electricity, that’s bad. But we can’t tell that from the outside of the property.”
Kantar said that she sees cases like this “every day.” Sometimes people are squatters, or sometimes, like Young, they’re just behind on utilities, and no city officials realize there is a family inside. “It’s only because there’s a fire that you even know about this,” Kantar said.
There are some programs meant to assist families like Young’s. In Hammond, Indiana, the North Township Trustee administers the federal money provided by the federal low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP). The office can give amounts between $100 and $500 starting in October to individuals and families within 125 percent of the poverty line. Indiana’s utility, NIPSCO, also offers a hardship program and a discount program. NIPSCO spokesperson Kathleen Szot confirmed to ThinkProgress that Young was on some form of assistance, though she did not specify which kind.
Read the rest of this story. It is heartbreaking. These fucking Republicans have so much blood on their hands. Real human being blood, and not a zygote clump of cells. PLUB assholes.
After Michael Eisenga, a wealthy GOP donor and Wisconsin business owner, failed to convince several courts to lower his child support payments, he came up with an inventive plan B—he recruited a Republican state legislator to rewrite Wisconsin law in his favor.
A set of documents unearthed Saturday by the Wisconsin State Journal shows Eisenga and his lawyer, William Smiley, supplying detailed instructions to Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch on how to word legislation capping child support payments from the wealthy. Kleefisch began work on the legislation last fall, weeks after an appeals court rejected Eisenga’s attempts to lower his child support payments.
For example, in a September 13 letter, a drafting lawyer with Wisconsin’s legislative services bureau complained to a Kleefisch aide, “It’s hard to fashion a general principle that will apply to only one situation.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eisenga’s current child support payments for the three children he has with his ex-wife are set at $216,000 a year. (Per the couple’s prenuptial agreement, the divorce settlement left his $30 million in assets untouched.)
The balls on these guys!
In 2010, Eisenga donated $10,000 to Kleefisch and his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, according to the Journal Sentinel. Eisenga also donated $15,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The drafting documents, available on the Wisconsin legislature’s website, leave little not doubt that the bill was written to Eisenga’s specifications. According to the documents, on September 5, Eisenga’s lawyer briefed him on changes he was suggesting to a draft of Kleefisch’s bill. “We focused only on the portion that would require the court to modify your child support order based solely on the passage of the bill,” Smiley wrote. Eisenga then forwarded that letter to Kleefisch and one of his aides, saying, “Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill.” The next day, Kleefisch’s aide forwarded the letter to the legislative lawyer drafting the bill.
A hearing for the bill is scheduled Wednesday before the Assembly Family Law Committee.
Eisenga and Smiley declined to speak to local news outlets about their emails with Kleefisch. On Saturday, Kleefisch told the Journal, “I do a gamut of legislation with the help and assistance of many, many constituents, and whether they gave a contribution or not has not made a difference.”
Oh…I think Kleefisch is full of Bullshit!
While on the subject of inflated dickheads: Medicare Is Grievously Overpaying for Penis Pumps – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic
Perhaps you had assumed that penis pumps were merely novelty items, sold mostly by email spammers and in a few musty sex shops. If so, you might be interested to learn that they’re actually considered a medical fallbackoption for men whose erectile dysfunction cannot be cured by drugs like Viagra—and that Medicare has been vastly overpaying for them for years.
So says a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, descriptively titled: “Medicare Payments for Vacuum Erection Systems Are More Than Twice As Much As the Amounts Paid For the Same or Similar Devices By Non-Medicare Payers.”
A “vacuum erection system,” in case anybody’s unclear, is just a penis pump. Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare spent a total of $172 million to purchase 473,620 such devices, at an average cost to the government of $360 each. The Veterans Administration, by comparison, pays just $185 per pump. With a little Google searching, the OIG found options available for an average of $164.
Had Medicare paid those sorts of prices, it could have saved $14 million during each of the five years the report examined.
Ugh…go and read the rest of that shit too.
This next link is full of information, and it is just neat. 40 more maps that explain the world
Maps seemed to be everywhere in 2013, a trend I like to think we encouraged along with August’s 40 maps that explain the world. Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. You might consider this, then, a collection of maps meant to inspire your inner map nerd. I’ve searched far and wide for maps that can reveal and surprise and inform in ways that the daily headlines might not, with a careful eye for sourcing and detail. I’ve included a link for more information on just about every one. Enjoy.
And I will end with this wonderful tweet from NYC:
Innit it great to see the two of them outside that familiar diner once again?
Have a great day and stop by for a comment or two.
Ah, another damn year has gone by, 2014 has to be a hellalot better than 2013, it has to be!
If you missed New Years Worldwide, there are plenty of pictures here:
Now for a few links, did you see the latest on the booze front: Moderate alcohol consumption ‘boosts immune system’
The study researchers, led by Ilhem Messaoudi of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, say their research may help lead to a better understanding of how the immune system works, and how to improve its ability to respond to vaccines and infections.
To reach their findings, the researchers trained 12 monkeys (rhesus macaques) to consume alcohol freely.
That has to be a beginning of a joke, at the very least.
Prior to this, the monkeys were vaccinated against smallpox. One group of the monkeys was then allowed access to either 4% alcohol, while the other group had access to sugar water. All monkeys also had access to normal water and food.
The monkeys were then monitored for a 14-month period and were vaccinated again 7 months into the experiment.
You had some monkeys that were “heavy drinkers” and some that were “moderate drinkers.” (I really can’t help but get images of those little monkeys dressed up like little people, and acting like the comical drunk in silent movies.)
Anyway, the study showed:
The monkeys classed as heavy drinkers showed diminished responses to the vaccine, compared with the monkeys that consumed sugar water. But the investigators were surprised to find that the monkeys deemed as moderate drinkers demonstrated an enhanced vaccine response.
Not sure if 12 monkeys is enough of a group of “individuals” to quantify the experiment…but my husband is a “heavy drinker” and he never gets sick. According to him, it is because of his alcohol and tobacco use that colds and disease do not take hold in his body…maybe he is on to something?
And since we are on the topic of experiments on animals: Animal-Rights Activists Bully Dying Italian Girl – The Daily Beast
When 25-year-old veterinary student Caterina Simonsen posted an update on a Facebook page supporting the use of animals in medical research before Christmas, she was trying to say how lucky she felt to be alive. The Padua native suffers from four rare genetic pulmonary diseases that require her to use breathing tubes and experimental medication to thin the mucus in her lungs in order to breathe. Her extreme illness makes her quickly immune to treatments, and, as a result, she has been a human guinea pig in a host of medical trials as doctors search for ways to help her live longer. At 18, her doctors told her she couldn’t be cured, but this year, she had survived another birthday and simply wanted to say thanks. “I am 25 thanks to genuine research that includes experiments on animals. Without research, I would have been dead at nine. You have gifted me a future.”
Simonsen’s comments, on the heels of a hotly contested national telethon in Italy soliciting money for medical research, triggered a flurry of hate comments from animal-rights extremists. “You could die tomorrow, I wouldn’t sacrifice my goldfish for you,” a poster named Giovanna wrote on the Facebook page “A Favore Della Sperimentazione Animale” (In Favor of Animal Experimentation). Another wrote, “If you had died as a child, no one would have given a damn.” In all, Simonsen received 30 death threats and 500 cruel insults, which are being investigated by local police.
You should see what some of the people wrote to this woman, hateful disgusting stuff. But it may be that some of those asshole may get their wish because Giovanna is in the hospital again with a lung infection that the doctors say is stress induced, read more at the link.
I hate to start the new year with a shit news filled post…so I will just post the rest of the depressing links in dump format:
Iowa voter fraud investigation possibly financed by misused funds | WQAD.com
According to a report by the Des Moines Register, in July of 2012 Iowa’s Secretary of State Matt Schultz launched an investigation with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to look into cases of alleged voter fraud.
Schultz reportedly used Help America Vote Act funds for the investigation, which may have violated how the HAVA funds are supposed to be used.
Can you hear the laughter from my house? All that money to catch 5 people(or some ridiculously low number like that…), three of which turned themselves in…only to find out that the money they used was “misused funds” from their “Help America Vote Act” funds.
In other crime news: Can hidden information in photographs be used to spot criminals? – latimes.com
A new study concludes that people are very good at recognizing the faces of familiar people reflected in the pupils of portrait subjects. (Courtesy of Rob Jenkins, Christie Kerr, PLOS One / December 26, 2013)
When the Mentally Ill Own Guns – An op/ed from the New York Times.
Reverse Nazi salute, all the rage in Europe, is now coming to America -This is scary…go to the link to see the pictures.
We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton –An op/ed on those TED Talks…
In our culture, talking about the future is sometimes a polite way of saying things about the present that would otherwise be rude or risky.
But have you ever wondered why so little of the future promised in TED talks actually happens? So much potential and enthusiasm, and so little actual change. Are the ideas wrong? Or is the idea about what ideas can do all by themselves wrong?
Of course I have to bring you something medieval for new years…what about a medieval baby, in the making? Bet some GOP folks would believe it works this way…
Another medieval history link on Iceland: Beauty and brutality: Iceland’s literary landscapes
And one on Germany: Cheating and Cheaters in German Romance and Epic, 1180 – 1225
A picture of “What If?” here in America: The 124 states of America
What would the U.S. look like if all of the secession movements in U.S. history had succeeded? Well, Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears built a map to answer that question. (It covers secession movements through the end of 2011.) His 124 states of America is below. Click the map to enlarge it.
Map courtesy of Andrew Shears
It is missing some of the more recent movements out in Colorado…California…Idaho…Texas, etc.
Hey…for you Movie Buffs…Critics Poll: What Was the Worst Movie of 2013? — Vulture
A year in movies is often split between stunning works of art and jaw-droppingly awful films. For example: 12 Years a Slave hit theaters on the same day as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wait-this-actually-happened? team-up Escape Plan. So as Vulture celebrates the finest films of 2013 (you can see critic David Edelstein’s top ten here), so must we celebrate the worst. Welcome to the seventh edition of our annual worst-movies roundup, as voted on by critics, where soon-to-be-forgotten misfires earn a last turn in the spotlight.
This year, Vulture polled film critics on the year’s most torturous moviegoing experiences (some publications submitted collective ballots). Those responses, combined with a number of notable worst-of lists published elsewhere, added up to 42 lists, which were tallied to produce the final ranking of the ten worst films of 2013. It was a tight race, with critically maligned mainstream disasters (Gangster Squad, R.I.P.D.,The Hangover Part III) rubbing shoulders with polarizing auteurist efforts (Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder) just outside the bottom tier. Below, see the official ten worst of the worst for 2013, then peruse all of the individual critic ballots.
Fortunately I did not see any of the shit on that list. Did you?
Which brings me to another list for you this morning: The Year’s Very Worst Words Are So “Problematic”
Language is wonderful and language is alive, but language is also a form of psychological assault—especially when everybody suddenly starts using awful new terms and phrases just because everyone else is doing it, on Twitter. We are not so naive as to think we can “ban” this or that word, because “ban” is one of the words we would ban, if words could be banned. They cannot. Thanks to 2013, we’re stuck with this bunch of linguistic garbage.
bless your heart
Antiquated southernism for “fuck you,” often heard in open-plan offices where people are uncomfortable saying “fuck you.”
Yeah…that is one that is getting too much play from those northerners if you ask me…just leave it to the southern fuckwads, and just say it like it is.
Shorthand for “I have completed my bigoted statement.” See also: #sorrynotsorry.
Actually, one word I am fucking tired of is DUCK…funny that it does rhyme with FUCK?
Alright, that is it for the link “dump.” And…now we will end with a story about what kind of things gets “dropped” for the New Year: Pickles, Possums, Peeps: The Things We Drop to Ring in the New Year
Why do we celebrate the New Year … by dropping things?
It started with ships. Maritime vessels, back before they could turn to more precise forms of time measurement, relied on “time balls”: spheres that were dropped from masts and other shipboard poles at precise intervals to help insure that their chronometers were aligned with Greenwich Mean Time. In 1906, those time balls lent themselves to another kind of time: Times Square. New York City had just banned fireworks displays, and Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, wanted to give the throngs of people who would gather around his building another kind of show.
Ochs, as the Los Angeles Times reports, called on the paper’s chief electrician, Walter Palmer, to come up with another source of the spectacular. Palmer borrowed the maritime tradition and combined it with something that would work on land: electricity. And the Times Square Ball Drop was born.
Since then, the “dropping things” tradition has been modified by cities across the country, in ways both wondrous and weird. Plenty, still, drop their own balls—smaller versions of New York City’s. Many others, however, drop food (cheese, fruit, Peeps). Some drop animals (cows, fish, possums, goats). One (Seaside Heights, New Jersey) has dropped a person.
Below, re-categorized from Wikipedia’s amazingly extensive, state-by-state list, are some of the objects that people have chosen to ring in the New Year. They reflect regional pride, municipal quirk, economic diversity … and the rich weirdness that makes America what it is. Happy New Year, everyone.
I think I will now drop my fat ass into bed, since I am writing this post at 3:14 in the morning on January 1, 2014!
Happy New Year’s Day Y’all…
And, Bless Your Hearts….hee-hee.