Saturday, February 14, 2015

New York City breaks ‘modern’ record with no murders in 11 days

The city is in the midst of a murder-free streak that snapped the 'modern-day' record at midnight Thursday. The last murder the NYPD had to investigate was on Super Bowl Sunday. City officials praised the efforts of police, although cold and snow are often causes of dips in crime. 

MAYOR Bill DiBlasio
The NYPD has not investigated a fresh murder in 11 days — the longest stretch since reliable records have been kept.

Police and city officials didn’t immediately credit Officers Cold and Snow — often the causes of dips in crime. They were just pleased by the lull in homicides since Feb. 1.

“This extraordinary streak of safety over the past several days is testament to the hard work of the men and women of the NYPD, and further evidence that New York City is the safest big city in America,” Mayor de Blasio said. “It’s also proof we can bring police and the community closer together and keep crime down in our neighborhoods.” READ MORE

Yo, Pundits! Here's What's Up With the Republicans

I find this map endlessly fascinating. Nominally, this
is a plot of counties that voted "more Republican" in
2008 than in 2004
In the earliest decades of this nation -- before this nation was even a nation -- four waves of settlers arrived from Britain. The first three waves landed in New England, the Southern Colonies and the Middle Colonies, respectively, and each defined the culture of its own region. The fourth wave came in mostly through the Middle Colonies, but it didn't stay there. Instead, it migrated inland, into the Appalachian mountain range. It spread south, then west, through the Tennessee River Valley. It crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. And because of its greater willingness to migrate, it's reached into almost every corner of this country.

The fact that this culture has, to a greater or lesser degree, influenced almost every part of America, doesn't mean that it is America. It's only one color in the mosaic. Yet it claims a monopoly on "American values," and incredibly, the media let it get away with that.
Here's why the media are wrong.

We have two dominant political parties. Each of those parties is built upon two of the four primary waves of migration from Britain that defined America in its earliest years. Historian David Hackett Fischer, in his book Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, identifies these waves as:
  • Puritans, who settled in New England;
  • Cavaliers, who settled in Virginia;
  • Quakers, who settled in the Delaware River Valley; and
  • Borderers, who settled in the "backcountry," as Appalachia and the Highland South were termed back then.
These four waves weren't the only immigrants to bring their cultures to America -- there were also Dutch colonists and Jews in the Hudson River Valley, French colonists in Louisiana and Maine, Catholics in Maryland and Huguenots in South Carolina -- but they came to dominate American culture and politics, for two reasons. First, they held not just local power but regional power. Second, they migrated westward.

Through the 18th and early 19th centuries, politics revolved on a Puritan–Cavalier axis. The Civil War was fought, essentially, between Puritan abolitionists and Cavalier slaveholders. But in the late 19th century, the descendants of Quakers and Borderers settled the West, while the descendants of Puritans and Cavaliers mostly stayed east of the Mississippi River. Consequently, the balance of power began to shift, and the four cultures found themselves on more equal footing. Today, if anything, the Quaker and Borderer strains in our culture and politics are stronger nationwide than the Puritan and Cavalier strains. Since the political realignment of the 1960s, we have essentially had a Northern Party (the Quaker–Puritan Democrats) and a Southern Party (the Borderer–Cavalier Republicans), with the Great Plains and the Mountain West leaning toward the Republicans until just recently.

Knowing all this, we can begin to analyze what's going on in politics right now. Let's begin with an interesting artifact from the 2008 presidential election: READ MORE

Global Drone Assassination Program on verge of collapse

Competition of good-paying jobs is fierce these days, but there is one job sector where they will train you, you can get paid six-figures, and you don't even have to work hard.

  No kidding, in the private sector the starting salary is $100,000.
  There's just one small catch: You sometimes have to kill children.

For some people that's a deal breaker.

The Air Force has a problem with their drone program.
It seems the drone pilots aren't happy with killing lots of civilians.
  Drone pilots in the Air Force are quitting faster than they can be replaced.
There are currently 988 active-duty pilots for the Predator and Reaper drones – the two most lethal unmanned aircraft commonly used for surveillance and strikes. More than 1,200 pilots are needed.

   Gen. Welsh says that the Air Force can only train approximately 180 drone pilots a year.  But the annual need for drone pilots is closer to 300. And the Air Force loses about 240 drone pilots a year, as drone operators move to other jobs, or leave the military for higher paying jobs operating drones for the drone manufacturers that sell them to the military. READ MORE

How Mitch McConnell became very rich

It seems, from's review of his financial disclosure forms, that McConnell's wealth has jumped substantially in the last few years.

Back in 2005, McConnell's net worth was somewhere between $1,645,032 and $4,278,999, ranking him the 38th richest Senator.

After four years when the stock market has flatlined, McConnell now has a net worth between $7,102,036 and $32,756,000, and he's now the 12th wealthiest Senator.

Pretty good, for a guy who has evidently NEVER had a private sector job.  READ MORE

Fox News wins in court

(From the diaries. It's nice to see Fox so clearly admit to their modus operandi -- kos)
In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.
Lawyers paid by Bill O'Reilly's bosses argued in court that Fox can lie with impunity.
It's their right under the 1st Ammendment
FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves.
December 1996, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, were hired by FOX as a part of the Fox “Investigators” team at WTVT in Tampa Bay, investigat bovine growth hormone (BGH), a controversial substance manufactured by Monsanto Corporation.
Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. READ MORE

SC Senator Says 'Woman Are A Lesser Cut Of Meat' Than Men

With each passing day, another Republican politician spews misogynistic nonsense. I still don't think I'm getting numb to it yet, but I wonder if that's their end game. To say so much vitriolic crap on a continuous basis that we don't find it offensive any more. Republican SC State Senator Tom Corbin is no stranger to the stupid or the acerbic language that has infected southern politicians. He coauthored a bill that would exempt unorganized militias from federal government and firearm restrictions.
A state Senate panel today unanimously cleared a bill that would allow South Carolinians to keep legally-acquired firearms and ammunition regardless of any gun-control steps the U.S. Congress might take.
I imagine he'd send Cliven Bundy a Paypal donation to help his cause. Corbin's boorish behavior also extends to the ladies, where he feels men are far superior because of Adam's rib.

A Republican state senator in South Carolina called women “a lesser cut of meat” and suggested that they belonged barefoot and pregnant, the libertarian-leaning blog FITS News reports. READ MORE

Canada's 'Fox News North' Goes Off The Air

The right wing, low budget network failed to attract much love north of the border.
via The Canadian Press
The Sun News Network is shutting down Friday morning after negotiations to sell the troubled television network were apparently unsuccessful.
Sun News Network hit the airwaves in April 2011 with heightened expectations and the watchful eyes of media observers who nicknamed the channel “Fox News North.”


O'Reilly Fearmongers That ISIS Is Coming To Kill Us All

Never mind the fact that almost three hundred people a day on average are shot, and almost ninety are killed by gun violence in the United States, or that you're much more likely to die in an accident than you are from some terrorist ever making it to our shores, Bill O'Reilly would like for you to be wetting your beds in fear that a member of ISIS is going to come to the U.S. and kill you. Be afraid people! Be very afraid!

Bill O’Reilly cautioned tonight that the administration continues to lack an effective strategy to defeat ISIS as the threat from Muslim fanatics worsens.

He explained that ISIS controls territory in Iraq and Syria, and has now expanded into Libya and Egypt. Plus, he said that ISIS assassins freely travel all over the world. READ MORE

SC Proposes NRA Second Amendment Education Act For All Public Schools

PTR Industries, a manufacturer of semiautomatic weapons, moved their company out of Connecticut due to Connecticut's strict laws on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The moved their business to Horry County, South Carolina, an area with 8% unemployment. The result of creating 45 new jobs for the county has prompted South Carolina to further bend over for all gun manufacturers by adopting an NRA school course designed to indoctrinate kids with guns.
State Rep. Alan Clemmons is attempting to keep the pro-gun momentum going through legislation that would force the topic of guns into classrooms, front and center. The bill, the Second Amendment Education Act, would mandate a three-week National Rifle Association–developed Second Amendment curriculum in all public elementary, middle and high schools.

Gun control advocates say the measure, proposed in December, would use South Carolina children for the benefit of the gun industry.

For the gun industry, however, the bill could be considered a big carrot, one that demonstrates that level of support to other gunmakers considering relocating to South Carolina, Grabowski said. “It’s a big handshake,” he said. “It’s a big ‘hello.            READ MORE

Scott Walker's Most Heinous Budget Stunt Yet

Scott Walker
Under Medicaid guidelines, a disabled adult or a frail elderly person would need to go into a nursing home to be able to access Medicaid funding to pay for their care. However, each state has a waiver program that allows the person to divert that money into community-based support services that allows the person to remain in the community, if not in their own home.

In Wisconsin, there are three programs that offer this type of waiver. One is Family Care, which can provide such things as residential services, day programming and personal cares. Another is Partnership, which does the same thing as Family Care, but includes an HMO component for medical care. The third is IRIS, which allows the person to self-direct their services.

At least one of these programs is offered in 57 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin. Many of them have two options, Family Care and IRIS. Of the remaining 15 counties, eight of them are already in the process of transitioning to Family Care.

Until now.

In his 2015-17 proposed budget, Scott Walker wants to make sweeping changes to these programs and the way they are administered.

One of the biggest changes would be the elimination of IRIS. The effect of this will be devastating for a lot of these people and their families:  READ MORE

Now The USSC wants men to nurse?

In this article HERE the U.S.S.C. denies a woman a right to nurse on her job,  by admonishing her that "men can also lactate",  which leads one to believe they are alluding to that,  perhaps it is time for men to stand up and begin sharing nursing duties.  Just so you know what the Roberts Court is thinking. READ MORE HERE

Musings 2

In the last few paragraphs of musings one, I speculate about the utility of propaganda.  Now I'd like to expand on that.

Reviewing the history of war and warfare,  it seems to me that the precursor of offensive wars is propaganda.  I speculate that this is because,  weak/corrupt or otherwise ill intended gov't officials,  unable to govern a state properly,  will devolve to attempting to distracting the populace from the ills their poor governance has caused.  To this end an "enemy" is decided upon,  and the ills are then blamed upon them.  Thus,  the ills that the civilians suffer,  are now thought to be part of a cause,  and that they must be borne as the "enemy" desires that these ills weaken the state for eventual conquest.

As the protagonists take power,  by gaining control of the media apparatus,  for the purpose of spreading their propaganda,  they take control of the civilian "understanding" of events,  and use this to gain increasing powers of state.  Of course,  as they gain increased powers of state,  the state fails to govern and the growing ills are assigned to the machinations of "the enemy" which,  of course, must be defeated.  A state of war covers all ills,  as we note in the historical record and it can be relied upon to continue to do so for quite some time.

The next thing the propagandist must seek is some "catalyzing event",  that will allow them the unfettered use of the powers of state to wage war.  In the meantime,  those who can or do attempt to debunk the propaganda,  are labeled as "the enemies rear guard",  who as such are not to be paid any attention.  Thus are the thoughts for the need for better governance distracted away from,  and the growing ills the population suffer,  are painted as necessary evils that must be borne for the survival of the state.

The opposition in government,  is faced with a dangerous quandary; either challenge the propaganda head on,  and thereby expose themselves to open attack by their opponents,  who can then focus the powers of the media and state upon them and eviscerate their numbers and strength,  or "go along to get along" and try to preserve their strength and numbers until some "counter catalyzing event" can either be contrived,  or arrive on the wings of fate and begin their return to power.  Make no mistake about how powerful and dangerous the powers of state can be and are,  in the hands of those who hold it.  Evidence; "You're either with us or against us!",  the mark of painting any opposition as in consort with the enemy.  It is therefore rather remarkable that our modern forms of government,  allows for the minorities to continue to hold power sufficient to be of some influence,  even in the face of an extremely powerful opponent party.  Yet,  the minority must still "duck and cover",  in the face of power,  to be ready and able to take advantage of any break in the front or make use of any  "counter catalyzing event".

I would see Katrina as one form of a "counter catalyzing event",  where those in power,  being unable to govern,  first sought to ignore it.  To their chagrin it would not go away and it became a media event itself,  that continued to play, in the civilian sphere,  until they could no longer ignore it,  then their misshapen response only served to escalate the problems and reveal their ineptitude at governance.  Their ineptitude in Iraq was yet another discrediting failure.  This allowed for the beginnings of civilian sentiment to shift away from the party in power,  and reduce their hold on the powers of state,  despite their potent propaganda machines.  Unfortunately,  those same forces of government,  that allowed the minority to hold on in the face of the powerful,  also allows those,  declining in power,  to hold on as well.  Thus,  there can be no sudden break in the course that the nation has been set on,  but only a slow scaling back.  The civilian population must be won over first,  and as this happens incrementally,  the opponents of those who failed to govern properly,  are greatly distressed at the slowness of change.  But, it is either that or complete turmoil with the attendant tragic results.

A democratic republic must move on civilian acceptance of rule,  not forced compliance.  Meanwhile the continued existence of the powerful propaganda machines stands in the way of the complete and easy capitulation of those who failed to govern.  But there is no other alternative,  since we now live in a world where there are no foreign lands to conquer,  and only sporadic terrorist organizations to fight.  As one can easily see,  no state would dare openly own any terrorist organization.  So there is no real "Oceania" to wage war against.  There are only the "enemies" that the propagandist hope to elevate to the "Oceania" status,  in the hopes of regaining control of the powers of state once again.
Needless to say,  they will attempt to use any "faith based" methodology,  that does not rely upon facts or provenance to prevail.  Which ties in well with their inability to understand how government's responsibilities to the governed,  works to improve social and economic function.    They would prefer that everyone be each others enemies,  with them standing in between and thus holding unfettered power,  just for the sake of just holding power.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nationwide: This Is Seriously Messed Up.

Nationwide must really have it in for kids.

After their strange and misplaced Super Bowl ad about a dead child, they’re in the news again this week in one of the most bizarre and disappointing fails on the part of the American justice system I have ever witnessed.

Here’s what happened:

When new mother Angela Ames returned from maternity leave at Nationwide, she asked her manager for the ability to pump and store milk for her child. That manager, epitome of workplace compassion s/he was, said, “Just go home and be with your babies.”

The supervisor went on to dictate a letter of resignation to Ames that day, essentially forcing her resignation. (More specifics of the case here). She was fired for needing to pump milk.

Ames sued.

It would be bad enough if this were where it ended, that the Nationwide supervisor and high-ups didn’t fix the situation immediately, reinstate the woman, and apologize profusely. It would be bad enough that a woman had to sue for the right to keep her job and provide for her infant at the same time.

Infinitely more distressing, however, is the fact that a few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected her petition to review her case’s dismissal. They essentially told her to “just go home,” as well. Even more ludicrous was their reasoning: Some men can lactate, too.

I’m sorry … what? READ MORE

In a Warming World We Can't Keep Depending on the Same Few Crops

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:35 By Sayed Azam-Ali, The Conversation | Op-Ed 

We are in the middle of one of the biggest experiments in human history. At its core is the homogenisation of global food systems, which increasingly must deliver the same products to an expanding population (in all senses) across the world.

I now live in Kajang, in the Klang Valley around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This area typifies many fast emerging economies where increasing wealth and aspirations lead to an appetite for global brands – to buy and to eat. Within a few kilometres of my house I can purchase the same fast-food as in New York, London or Sydney.

The first McDonald’s in Kuala Lumpur opened in 1982. Now, there are more than 250 restaurants in Malaysia, with 42% of the local fast-food market in the Klang Valley. It is hard to imagine that when the McDonald brothers opened their first branch in California in 1940, they would initiate a global phenomenon whereby 70m customers in 118 countries would consume an estimated 1% of the food eaten every day on the planet in a McDonald’s outlet.

Kajang actually claims to be the home of satay. However, it seems inconceivable that a local “mamak” stall owner could ever sell satay on virtually every street corner around the world. McDonald’s now serves 144m “happy meals” in Malaysian outlets each year. Presumably, this saves 144m bored Malaysians from staring into their bowls of curry mee, satay and Roti Canai.

Global Systems for Global Food  READ MORE


Has anyone noticed that the media today,  does a very poor job?   Well,  firstly one must have some idea of what the medias "JOB" really is.  Their job is to advance the knowledge of their readership,  so that a best informed public,  can make better decisions about how to configure society,  to improve the life of all citizens.    Obviously that has not been the case lately. 
A free people,  within a republic,  requires that,  across a very broad spectrum of life,  have specific information,  that is true,  about the various things that concern their social,  political and economic well being.  Misinformation leads to mistakes being made,  people voting and acting against their own best interests and that eventually leads to such chaos that a free republic can no longer exist.  With everyone scurrying and struggling for mere self preservation,  the niceties of civilization vanish quite quickly and people come to rely on  strong men as a way to preserve what they have.

There was a time in history when,  people had so little information about how the world actually worked,  they turned to the most powerful force that the human condition could muster to keep people working together peacefully.  That force turned out to be superstition and it's provenance depended upon everyone's fear and ignorance of the unknown.  Since there was little about the world that was known,  the field was wide open for leadership to step forward and offer their own theories of what was what,  and how things should be.  Quite unsurprisingly,  their notion of "governance"  was that they should be taken at their word for everything,  and that since "the gods" had ordained what they said,  no compromise could be permitted.

This,  of course,  gave the leadership absolute power,  with which to do whatever they wanted,  with zero accountability for their failures.  Hardly a wonder that they regarded the people they ruled with extremely low esteem.  After all,  why would you have any respect for people who slavishly followed orders and,  on your mere word,  would put people to death?  The rulers did not feel any need to provide for their people,  and therefore left them to hazard the vagaries of life alone.  They only paid any attention to the needs of the populace,  when the people were needed to wage wars,  which were usually fought to take over the hard won fortunes of others,  who had somehow managed to prosper by self sacrifice and hard work.

You're in a village somewhere in prehistoric times.  You've either noticed or been told that seeds from a fruit or vegetable,  could be planted and they would grow into more fruit and vegetables.  So you follow the course and eventually,  step by small step,  you manage a workable farm.  Now you have food when others are at the tender mercies of chance discoveries of groves.  So you've got bushels of tomatoes,  while many have none.  They look at you and someone says to himself,  I've got the warriors,  let's simply force him off of his farm and take his crops!  So they do that and you have to move (if you're lucky enough to be allowed to live).  

In the next stage of social development,  some farmer gets an idea.  If he can supply the chief with some of his crop,  then perhaps the chief will protect him and his farm from other would be raiders.  This turns out to be a pretty beneficial arrangement for a good long while and there is peace in the land,  until a larger horde of raiders overcomes the local lord.  

This looting raiding and waring goes on for quite sometime,  until the next good idea comes along,  some wise leader realizes that,  if he offers people protections and some rights,  more people will follow him than others,  so he quickly builds a much larger and therefore more powerful tribe.  This goes on for sometime and as the idea of civil rights and protections allows leaders to build greater villages,  and villages become cities,  a civilization gets underway.  These things did not happen quickly mind you,  each step probably took several generations or more.  As the problems of governing cities came up,  some cities failed to solve them,  enforced unworkable solutions and  failed.  While other cities with smarter leadership,  found solutions and thrived.  

For the most part, as civilizations grew,  the needs of the people being ruled had to be dealt with in some amicable way.  If a ruler sought to impose draconian laws,  laws that people had too much trouble living within,  the obvious solution was to get rid of the ruler.  Rulers,  on the other hand,  had limited ability to fight within their own societies,  since they would essentially be fighting with their own people and that almost always leads to civil disaster.

The thing is,  as a society ages and the rules become sophisticated enough to handle the most pressing problems,  the rulers become quite entrenched.  It is this "entrenchment" that gives them the power to become very arbitrary indeed,  about the ways they can rule.  So that,  after a few generations,  the leaders have so much power,  they can and do spend and waste and eviscerate whatever passes for a sort of "public treasury".  The "government" needs money to spend on things like soldiers pay,  uniforms and equipment,  buildings and shrines/monuments/palaces,  as well as grants and payoffs to people who managed to gain standing within the society,  such that they have control over fiefdoms,  or are followed by enough citizens that they can foment resistance to the rules.  Such things must be handled delicately,  since power centers can and do shift.  

After eviscerating their treasuries,  (usually done by second or third generation leaders who have not the knowledge or the good sense about how to rule) a lunkhead in power decides that,  the best way to replenish the treasury is to wage war on some more prosperous neighbor.  Failing to realize that war is a very expensive undertaking,  such that it usually creates more debt than the spoils will pay.  Worse yet,  the conquered prosperous entity,  will no longer continue to prosper.  Leaving the foolhardy ruler with an even bigger deficit than he started with.  The Romans were the first to solve this problem by using threats and coercion,  as well as agreements to conquer,  rather than wage outright war in many instances.  Saving warfare for only when it was a strategic necessity,  such as to secure trade routes and borders.  But alas,  entropy sets in and in the succession of rulers,  usually from father to son,  unfit rulers come to power with truly dreadful concepts about ruling a nation.  In history we see this happen time and again,  so it should come as no surprise that absolute rule gave way to parliamentary forms of governance.  Where a "free" people,  have a level of freedom to diversify,  to learn new things and develop new techniques,  the social structure becomes increasingly complex.  Ever higher levels of stability are needed from government to allow the often time consuming processes of discovery,  and to assimilate new discoveries and learn of the impact they will eventually have on the society.

While instability chases technicians away,  causes investigation and discovery processes to slow or cease,  society falls into decline and everyone suffers,  until things reach such an abysmal state that power then shifts,  often with catastrophic results.  Because people,  no matter their station in a society,  feel the over arching need for self preservation,  if their contributions are not sufficiently recognized by that society,  then the search for a better way begins to take hold.  So that the real choice for the leadership is,  either find some way to recognize the contributions of all,  or risk propelling the search for a better way,  to grow to disastrous proportions.

If wars are so unprofitable,  how does one go about getting the populace behind them?  The answer is enter PROPAGANDA!  The trick is to tell lots and lots of made up lies,  to trick people into thinking they are being threatened and get them to fear,  all while offering them the idea that there will be the spoils of war for them to enjoy. So,  this then becomes the dodge that ill configured leadership uses to distract people away from the shortcomings their own leadership has caused,  and direct the discontent towards another object,  so as to preserve the leaders mandate for an extended period of time. 

While those are the way the mechanics of early civilizations worked,  clearly with today's highly technical societies,  many of those same elements are still at work today and must be paid attention to.  After all, not all people are capable of engaging the highest levels of technological skills and developments,  but they still have the self preservation impulses.  Let them get out of balance and the entire social structure is doomed.  Any mere attempt to simply defeat "the masses" will fail for two very good reasons.  One is that the effort to impose very strict controls on "the masses" is costly and highly resource consuming,  while at the very same time,  it also requires a concomitant ratcheting up of restraints upon the upper classes,  that undermines the processes of learning,  discovery and innovation,  such that life across the boards becomes ever less palatable for all concerned.  Until,  finally,  people of every stripe are looking for anything that seems to offer a more desirable change.

Parliamentary systems are designed to allow people to seek change within the existing structures.  That works only if they system does not become "ossified",  so well entrenched that it no longer responds to the public's needs and resists making the changes that are needed,  to ensure that order and stability are maintained by public acceptance of the rules,  rather than by the use of force to enforce them.  Governments tend to fill,  over time,  with people who see and seek only the powers that office will give them,  while ignoring or being unaware of the responsibilities that make government able to discharge it's responsibilities.  They categorize people in need as mere parasites,  and do not see need to use gov't powers to mollify these peoples concerns.  If left unchecked this is a dangerous disease being allowed to fester and grow,  and which,  if left unchecked,  can and will create truly massive problems for governance.

The formula we can extract from the lessons of history are that,  it is infinitely better and more profitable,  to keep improving governance to keep and hold the widest acceptance of the people,  rather than allowing things to stagnate and devolve to where force must be used to obtain compliance.  

Things Are Looking Up For Planespotters, The World’s Most Obsessive Aviation Geeks

“We couldn’t give a fuck about Obama,” Luke Amundsen says as he stares through a car windshield toward a taxiing Qantas jet. “We just want to take photos of his airplane.”

It’s a horribly windy Friday morning in mid-July at Brisbane Airport, situated 10 miles northeast from the third biggest city in Australia. Amundsen and Simon Coates are sitting in the cabin of a silver Holden Commodore while commercial aircraft alternately take off and touch down. “If there was a private jet due in, we’d come out here just for that,” says Coates. “We don’t care who’s on it — we just want the jet.”

He switches on a dashboard radio unit, which picks up staccato blasts of aviation jargon from the nearby control tower. “…Qantas 950 two-five-zero degrees, three-zero knots — cleared to land,” says a calm male voice. Amundsen exhales, impressed. “Three-zero knots!” he says. “That’s a decent wind.”

Amundsen is a tall 28-year-old, with facial stubble and short, spiked brown hair. He’s the more enthusiastic of the pair. Coates, also 28, plays it much cooler: His eyes are hidden behind sunglasses, and his responses are more measured. He maintains the Brisbane Airport Movements blog, while Amundsen helps run a Facebook page, Brisbane Aircraft Spotting, which has around 6,000 fans. Together, the two have also invested tens of thousands of dollars and a year of their lives in the development of a new website, Global Aircraft Images, which seeks to challenge established spotter-friendly communities such as and
Spotters at the Brisbane Airport Kurt Clifford / Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) / Via Flickr: 111459372@N02

While we sit facing the tarmac — the second busiest single airport runway in the world, after London’s Gatwick — a news van glides past. “They must be out here for the Malaysian thing,” says Coates, before turning to me. “Did you hear about the Malaysian that went down?” It’s July 18, 2014, the day that news breaks of MH17’s wreckage being scattered across the Ukrainian countryside. Amundsen reveals that he has flown on that destroyed Malaysia Airlines plane, while Coates has flown on MH370, the one that went missing in March. They know this because they both keep records of every flight they’ve ever taken. READ MORE

Tennessee’s Drug Tests Of Welfare Recipients Find 37 Drug Users

Less than one half of one percent of Tennesseeans who applied for public assistance flunked a drug test in the first six months of the state’s experiment with drug screenings for welfare recipients, according to recently released state figures.

Out of more than 16,000 applicants from the beginning of July through the end of 2014, just 37 tested positive for illegal drug use. While that amounts to roughly 13 percent of the 279 applicants who the state decided to test based on their answers to a written questionnaire about drug use, the overall rate among applicants is just 0.2 percent.

Such an infinitesimal rate of drug use among welfare applicants contrasts sharply with the state’s overall 8 percent rate of drug use. Across the country, states that implement drug tests for low-income families have found that economically vulnerable people are less likely than the general population to use drugs. Utah spent $30,000 on tests that caught just 12 drug users, for a positive rate of 0.2 percent of total benefits recipients, compared to 6 percent of all state residents who use drugs. Before a judge ruled Florida’s drug testing system was illegal, it had turned up a drug use rate of just 2 percent among public assistance users, compared to 8 percent of its total population.

Separate research has also found that the facts do not support the stigmatizing ideas about low-income Americans and drug use that motivate drug testing schemes like these. Less than 4 percent of welfare recipients have a drug abuse problem — the kind of habitual dependence on a drug that the tests are theoretically designed to root out — and the rate of non-abusive drug use among the welfare population is barely above that of comparable non-welfare families.

“Other physical and mental health problems are far more prevalent” among low-income people than substance abuse problems, social scientist and public benefits expert Harold Pollack wrote in the Washington Post, and “yet these less-moralized concerns receive much less attention from legislators or the general public.” Pollack’s research found that age is a better predictor of drug abuse than welfare participation, with men aged 18 to 24 being roughly twice as likely to have a substance abuse problem than a food stamps recipient. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have condemned dragnet drug testing for welfare recipients as ineffective, harmful, and unnecessary.  READ MORE

Parents Reportedly Throwing ‘Measles Parties’ To Infect Their Unvaccinated Kids

Some parents in California are reportedly considering hosting “measles parties” — social gatherings where unvaccinated children can come into contact with infected kids — to build up their children’s natural resistance to the infectious disease.

Julie Schiffman, who has chosen not to vaccinate her two children, told KQED’s California Report that she was recently approached by a friend who invited her to a measles party. The friend offered to arrange a play date with a child who currently has measles. Schiffman turned her down.

“I would want that to be something they decide on their own, when they’re older and are more capable of assessing the risks and dangers,” she said. “When they’re teenagers, I’d say, ‘okay, you have a choice, you can get vaccinated or you can get the measles, what would you rather?’”

Before the development of the chicken pox vaccine, this particular “natural infection” tactic used to be popular among parents who wanted to give their children the virus while they were still young and the infection would be less severe. Now, despite the fact that there’s a vaccine available to prevent that disease, the practice has persisted among some parents who are skeptical about following the government’s recommended immunization schedule.

The rise of social media has made it easier than ever before for parents to plan so-called “pox parties.” The Facebook group Let’s Have a Chickenpox Party, for instance, helps anti-vaccine parents connect with each other and publicize their pox-related events. In 2011, some adults even started mailing infected lollipops across state lines, something that violates federal law.

The idea has been floated for other diseases, too. When a serious strain of influenza colloquially known as “swine flu” started spreading in 2009, some people started suggesting holding swine flu parties for their kids. The idea was that surviving a milder strain of the virus earlier in the season would protect children from a deadlier strain that could emerge later.  READ MORE

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How do these children's school lunches from around the world compare to the United States?

The United States of America is number one. We are basically the best in just about everything. Basketball, baseball, American-rules football.  
Sweetgreen's tumblr site put this up to show how much ass we kick around the globe in the food we feed our children.

Fried ‘popcorn’ chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, fruit cup and a chocolate chip cookie

Local fish on a bed of arugula, pasta with tomato sauce, caprese salad, baguette and some grapes


Almost 1 billion monarch butterflies have vanished

Monarch Butterfly - Danaus plexippus
The Washington Post reports a truly disturbing fact brought to light today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service summed it up in just one grim statistic on Monday: Since 1990, about 970 million have vanished. It happened as farmers and homeowners sprayed herbicides on milkweed plants, which serve as the butterflies’ nursery, food source and home. In an attempt to counter two decades of destruction, the Fish and Wildlife Service launched a partnership with two private conservation groups, the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to basically grow milkweed like crazy in the hopes of saving the monarchs.
From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's press release:
“We can save the monarch butterfly in North America, but only if we act quickly and together,” said Ashe. “And that is why we are excited to be working with the National Wildlife Federation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to engage Americans everywhere, from schools and community groups to corporations and governments, in protecting and restoring habitat. Together we can create oases for monarchs in communities across the country.”
I went to an inner-city school in East Harlem, from elementary school through high school. To this day I remember, as do many children who are not such young children anymore, the activity of taking monarch butterflies from caterpillar through their entire lifecycle. We fed them sugar water on droppers and then went into the concrete yard off of Lexington Avenue and let them free. They were everywhere. READ MORE

Papa John's in NYC owes nearly $800,000 in unpaid wages

What's their secret ingredient? Greed.
Emstar Pizza Inc. (which owns seven Papa John's pizza locations in Queens and Brooklyn) and its owner Emmanuel Onuaguluchi have been ordered to pay workers $789,507.06 in unpaid wages and other costs.

“This judgment sends a clear message that like every other business in New York, fast food employers must follow the law,” New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “This Papa John’s franchisee brazenly violated the law, shaving employees’ hours and avoiding paying overtime by various means, including giving managerial sounding titles such as ‘head driver.’
This ruling follows a long probe set up by the Attorney General's office going back a few months:
Local franchises are being eyed for possibly cheating workers out of overtime pay by masking a more than 40-hour-a-week schedule by having workers divide their time between two stores, sources said. For example, a franchisee with two stores would have one employee work 20 hours at one store and 30 hours at another. Since each store is a separate company that reported the labor numbers to the state separately, it’s hard to tie them together. READ MORE

Jeb Bush dumps emails on the 'net; reveals names, addresses, SS #s

You won't believe this.
Well, yes, you will, especially as it comes on the heels of Bush appointing a rabid mysoginist to his campaign's tech team.
Jeb Bush, a rumored 2016 Republican presidential candidate, just decided to publish hundreds of thousands of emails sent to him during his time as governor of Florida. On its face it seems like a great idea in the name of transparency, but there's one huge problem: neither Bush nor those who facilitated the publication of the records decided to redact potentially sensitive personal information from them.
 "In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here," a note on Bush's website says. "Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration." Some also contain the email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of Florida residents. The emails are available in Outlook format, and can be searched on the web at Bush's website. 
From The Daily Kos

Ku Klux Klan takes a stand with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The seething, bigoted spectacle taking place in Alabama this week after becoming the latest state to join the nation in marriage equality has been predictably nauseating. With Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ridiculously ordering the state's probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, chaos has ensued across the state.

This has professional bigots such as Tony Perkins, The National Organization for Marriage and The American Family Association celebrating his illegal action like the second coming. Joining the hateful fray, The United Dixie White Nights has posted a message of support of Moore's misguided actions on its website.

Please join me over the fold.

From the website:
The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama's chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny. The Feds have no authority over individual States marriage laws. The fudgepackers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda! READ MORE

Kevin Davis wrongly killed by police after calling 911 for help

Kevin Davis did the right thing. On December 29, Kevin called 911 for help. His girlfriend, April, had just been stabbed and the man who did it, Terrance Hilyard, fled the scene. Within minutes, the family dog, Tooter, and Kevin were each fatally shot by Dekalb County Police Officer Joseph Pitts. According to April:

Tooter ran out the door and she and Davis heard at least one gunshot. A wounded Tooter came running back inside the apartment. At this point, she and Davis were convinced that Hilyard had returned with a gun. At this point, not even the police are trying to claim that JR Pitts identified himself as a police officer, either before or immediately after shooting Tooter without warning. The neighbors all agree that police did not identify themselves until Davis was himself shot and police backup had arrived to assist JR Pitts. After a wounded Tooter ran inside, Davis approached the door to his apartment with the gun in his hand. Before he exits the apartment, he was shot by Pitts. April and her neighbors agree that it was only after Davis was shot that Pitts said anything. His first words? "Drop your weapon."
Instead of being hailed as a hero, Kevin, for the final two days of his life, was treated like a violent criminal and charged with crimes he did not commit. READ MORE

Family Requests Welfare Check for Elderly Veteran Relative; Police Kill Him Instead

Mary Battle
A concerned family is grieving after they requested a welfare check on an elderly relative, and responding officers shot the man instead.  The family of the man, identified as James Howard Allen, requested that Anson County make a welfare check around 10 p.m. on Saturday, said Gastonia (NC) Police Chief Robert Helton.

“Due to some medical issues he had had — some surgery he had recently — they were concerned for his well-being,” said Helton.
An officer visited the home of Allen around 10:20, but received no answer when he knocked on the door.  Anson County Sheriff’s Office asked that local hospitals be checked, but Allen was not found.  At that point, an officer returned to Allen’s home and spoke with neighbors, who said they had seen Allen the day before.  Allen’s car was in the driveway. A terrible decision was made around 11:30 p.m. to enter Allen’s home.  Neighbors report that police and firefighters kicked in Allen’s door:
“They done kicked the door in,” said [Ted] Campbell, upset at the shooting.
Chief Helton says the officer, Josh Lefevers, announced himself as police, but Allen confronted police with a gun.  Officer Lefevers shot Allen twice, and Allen later died. READ MORE

10 Rush Limbaugh Sponsors To Boycott (With One Honorable Mention)

Many of us want to do something that makes a difference, but funds are tight. One thing that is free and easy to do, is avoid buying from companies that support the hate monger, Rush Limbaugh. The vile Conservative radio talk show host who calls women 'femi-nazis' and 'semen receptacles,' is mostly known for spreading hate and outright lies, while promoting/inciting racism, lgbt hatred, bigotry, and misogyny. And for 25 years he has gotten away with it. But for the last two years, the general public has become more and more proactive against his type of commentary. Concerned consumers have contacted and petitioned Rush Limbaugh sponsors, and asked them to pull their advertising from his show. For those companies who opt to ignore consumers, they are not only boycotted by hundreds of thousands, they are permanently associating their company's name/brand, in the minds of many, with a hate monger. Seems a pretty foolish business move, when you think about it.

Here is a list of 10 very loyal Rush Limbaugh sponsors. To support the boycott, one only needs to avoid buying from these companies, and spread the sponsor information. Even if you haven't heard of these sponsors and/or don't do business with them, by circulating their names to friends, family, and on social media, you will have an impact. Together, the public is sending a message to businesses and the media, that we do not support companies that support hate speech. Rush Limbaugh has lost thousands of sponsors due to this national boycott, which means he has lost millions in ad revenue.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sarah Palin Elevates Racism to a New Level

19 Votes

There was a time when Sarah Palin seemed to be interested in young Black men.

Whether if was a bad experience with Glen Rice, jealousy over her loss to Maryline Blackburn 

in the 1984 Miss Alaska beauty pageant, or the 2008 loss to the First African American candidate for the Presidency, it seems Sarah Palin has established herself as one of the leading racists of our time.

Most celebrities and politicians are worried about being politically correct, even if their underlying views are racist. Not Sarah. She was quoted as saying,
“Looks like Sambo beat the bitch.”

People who know Sarah have reported that she regularly refers to Alaska’s Aborginal people as “Arctic Arabs,” “mukluks” and “fucking Eskimo’s.” READ MORE

Brazilian Prison Guards Duped By Trio of ‘Dominatrix’ Who Set Prisoners Free Instead

Wake Up Sleepy Head!!!
*Well here’s some news that may fulfill the “inner rogue” lying dormant in us all.
Instead of just chanting “Free the prisoners! Free the prisoners!” three women dressed up as dominatrix walked into a Brazilian prison with a different intention than they let on. The guards were led to think an orgy was about to take place, instead the women duped them and twenty-eight prisoners were set free.

All we can say is…Oops. READ MORE

They left this behind.

Films ‘Through a Lens Darkly’ & ‘American Denial’

Independent Lens premieres two new documentaries in February for Black History Month

Feb 8, 15 by EURweb editor/BJ

*This February, Independent Lens presents two provocative new documentaries that take a fresh look at not only the African American experience but the ongoing question of the meaning of race in America.

Directed by Thomas Allen Harris, the film probes the recesses of American history through images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost. Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and vernacular African American photographers, the film opens a window into the lives of black families, whose experiences and perspectives are often missing from the traditional historical canon. READ MORE

Tucker Carlson: 'Christianity Is The Reason We Don't Have Slavery In The World Today'

Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Sunday declared that all slavery in the world had been eradicated thanks to the Christian faith.

At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, conservatives accused President Barack Obama of comparing Christianity to the Islamic terrorist group ISIS when he observed that many religions had been used to justify violence throughout history.

"So we're responsible for the Crusades a thousand years ago?" Carlson complained. "Who's 'us' anyway? And by the way, who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians."

"Christianity is the reason we don't have slavery in the world today," he added. "I mean, talk about ahistorical."

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that Obama's remarks were "completely inappropriate" because there were many evangelical Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast.

"Know your audience," she recommended. "No one expected the Inquisition to be mentioned at the National Prayer Breakfast."

"What's so striking though is his mention of the Crusades as a way to make the point, 'Before you judge ISIS, keep in mind that that Christians did it too,'" Carlson asserted. "The Crusades is a fixation among jihadis. There's not a press release from ISIS or from al Qaeda that doesn't call us Crusaders."

"And so for the president to use that specific word, aping the language of the jihadis is ominous and bizarre."

According to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 35.8 million slaves in the world.
Late last year, leaders of the largest religions in the world -- including Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths -- met to sign a declaration of commitment to end slavery by 2020.
At the time, Pope Francis called slavery an “atrocious scourge present on a large scale throughout the world." READ MORE

CNN searches for anti-vaccinations doctor after he stops coming on their shows

Trust me kid, it's better than polio.
A curious side effect of the current measles outbreak: It seems to be causing some of the more prominent opponents of vaccination to clam up.

He calls measles 'benign.' If you vaccinate your child, he calls you a bad mother. And he says our children "have the right" to get infections. When Dr. Jack Wolfson speaks, jaws drop. [...] But this week, he's suddenly gone silent.
What could have happened? Has he gotten the mouth-measles? Did someone dart him with a mercury-laden vaccine, thus altering his mind according to Illuminati wishes? There is clearly a conspiracy afoot, a grown man known for his theories on vaccines does not suddenly fall silent unless there is a conspiracy afoot.
It may have something to do with the investigation that the Arizona Medical Board has opened against him.
Oh. Yeah, or that. Before anyone suddenly raises their opinion of CNN for asking the hard questions on this one or for staking out this one particular fellow as if he was a missing airplane, note that Dr. Jack Wolfson has been loudly explaining why children should get measles and spread measles to others using the broadcast airwaves of, for example, CNN: READ MORE

Wow! David Brooks passionately defends President Obama's National Prayer Breakfast statements

David Brooks must be giving kudos for getting it right. He went against the Right Wing grain as well as against rather elitist comments from journalists Andrea Mitchell and Jon Meacham.
Jon Meacham claimed that within Christianity, the Crusades was an exception to the rule. This illustrates how one can change a narrative when the context is kept limited in scope for a self-serving purpose. As noted in my previous post "This Obama speech put fear into Right Wing Evangelical Leaders,"
The President was rather kind by not articulating the fact that similar heinous behavior in our country is less than just a few centuries and decades past. Isolated heinous acts are less than a few months in our past.
Andrea Mitchell's comment was simply ludicrous. She does not believe the prayer breakfast is a place to speak truth. "You don't use the word Crusade in any context right now. It's too fraught,"

Andrea Mitchell said. "And the week after a pilot is burned alive and a video shown, you don't lean over backward to be philosophical about the sins of the fathers. You have to deal with issues that are in front of you or don't deal with it at all." In other words ignore the sins that indirectly impact or have impacted all that is occurring in the world.

Jon Meachem does seem to believe that atrocities in the name of Christ ended with the Crusades. He forgot the savagery Christianity inflicted on Native Americans from the tip of South America, the Caribbean, Central America, to North America. He forgot that African slaves throughout the America's were murdered, lynched, burned, and beheaded, many of these acts justified by religion. He forgot that while some did these bad deeds in the name of Christ, most Christians remained quiet. READ MORE

FOX NEWS: Only Muslims have ever killed anybody in the name of religion

So Erik Bolling, of Fox News says zero people have ever been killed in the name of any religion, except for Islam. Bolling said:
Reports say radical Muslim jihadists killed thousands of people in the past few months alone. And yet when you take Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, their combined killings in the name of religion––well, that would be zero.
This is all in the context of Obama's remarks at the nation prayer breakfast. I am a freelance journalist and medieval historian. I wrote about this for the Guardian. I wrote, among other things:
It’s a mistake to believe in Christian exceptionalism – the idea that Christianity alone has solved its problems – while other religions are still “medieval”. One of history’s lessons is that any ideology, sacred or secular, that divides the world into ‘us versus them’ can and will be used to justify violence.

But when we talk about the past, we’re often really talking about ourselves. In my scholarship, for instance, I look at the ways in which medieval people developed stories about holy war as a response to contemporary problems – which often had little to do with the Crusades.  READ MORE
Don't get me started.  It never seems to fill my mind with wonder about how,  while religions have killed heretics for things like blasphemy and refusal to honor their ideas,  ideals and scriptures,  seeking to wipe out any and all opposition,  even from scientists who can prove what they claim.  While scientists, have never killed anyone,  allowing everyone to believe whatever they choose to believe.  Have never taken over from superstitious.

Scientists have successfully spread their beliefs without arresting,  imprisoning,  torturing or executing a soul.  While the "Sacred Words of Love Everlasting" has needed to spread it's fare by dint of force of torture,  fears of death and war.  You'd think that the peaceful scientists would have won out by now,  but,  as we can see,  that is far from the case.  

Hackers Anonymous disable extremist social media accounts

Hacking group Anonymous has issued another warning against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.

It came during a video posted on YouTube where the hackers claimed to have shut down Twitter and Facebook accounts used by the terrorists.

"ISIS, we will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails and expose you," warns the video.
Anonymous "declared war" on jihadist websites last month after an attack on a magazine's offices in Paris.  READ MORE