Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Top 5 New Crazy Republicans

Here's a look at the nuttiest of the incoming pack of crazy GOP congressmen-- courtesy of Hunter from the Daily Kos:

Glenn Grothman, WI-06: Top of the list has to be the new Wisconsin Representative Glenn Grothman.  Grothman is embarrassingly prone to saying the things Republicans are not supposed to say out loud.   He is a fervent believer in stopping The Gay Agenda, which he believes exists in our nation's classrooms.    In a December 2012 press release,  Grothman's state senate office asked, "Why Must We Still Hear About Kwanzaa?"  In it, Grothman claimed that Kwanzaa is a phony holiday promoted by "white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans."  Many still doubt that Grothman has the chops to outclass Texas Republican Louie Gohmert as America's Dumbest Congressman-- but we shall find out soon enough.

Jody Hice, GA-10: Another beneficiary of a hard-right conservative district, Georgia's Jody Hice isn't known for gaffes-- he's just plain mean. A proto-typical tea party asshole, Hice is a preacher, a conservative radio host, a gun-toter, and the district's replacement for Paul "Evolution and embryology and the big bang theory are lies from the pit of Hell" Broun.  Hice's most recent hit has been the assertion that Muslim-Americans are not protected by the First Amendment because Islam is not a true religion; he also is frothingly anti-gay and is for women entering politics only if it is "within the authority of her husband." Look for Hice to be a loudmouth-- not dumb, but meaner than a sack of snakes.

Mark Walker, NC-06: An also-ran compared to up-and-coming morons like Grothman and Rice, Mark Walker will nevertheless make a solid addition to the GOP whack-job Hall of Fame.  His highlight reel heavily features the time he proposed "we go laser or blitz"  on Mexico in order to teach them a lesson about immigrants crossing our southern border. He also says he'd vote to impeach Obama.

Joni Ernst, IA-Sen: When it comes to the Senate, all disaster forecasters are expecting great things from the Sarah Palin-esque Joni Ernst. A far-right conspiracy theorist, Ernst is a lock to join the contingent of Republican believers in all things conspiratorial and insane.   Part crazy grandpa, part tin foil hat wearer, Ernst alternated between ducking the press  and engaging in tortured word jumbles that rival the best Palin-isms.  Stand-up comics and underemployed reporters expect great things from her.

Tom Cotton, AR-Sen: He won't be a Joni Ernst, primarily because Ernst has squirreled away too much crazy for anyone but Ted Cruz himself to challenge, but Tom Cotton looks to be a solid GOP Craven Liar Republican.  Cotton's campaign showed a level of straight-up bullshit and pandering when he claimed that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels would be teaming up to attack us across our border, a conservative wet-yer-pants scenario aimed squarely for the dumbest  of Arkansas voters.  Cotton was also the most prolific user of ISIS-produced terrorism films in his campaign ads, a strategy both meant to invoke terror in Americans so they would vote his way and likely to earn the gratitude of the terrorist group for boosting publicity of their snuff films as they had intended.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Less Votes In Texas On Election Day

Disenfranchisement is the order of the day on Election day in the state of Texas-- thanks to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the Lone Star state's  restrictive voter ID law.  From Zachary Roth of MSNBC:

Lindsay Gonzales, 36, has an out-of-state driver’s license, which isn’t accepted under the ID law. Despite trying for months, she has been unable to navigate an astonishing bureaucratic thicket in time to get a Texas license she can use to vote. “I’m still a little bit in shock,” said Gonzales, who is white, well-educated, and politically engaged. “Because of all those barriers, the side effect is that I don’t get to participate in the democratic process. That’s something I care deeply about and I’m not going to be able to do it.”

Adam Alkhafaji, a student at the University of Houston, turned 18 in September and was excited to vote for the first time. But to prove his residency and get a Texas ID, he needed a residential housing agreement, a birth certificate, and a Social Security card, none of which he had. Overwhelmed with school, he ran out of time. “It’s almost like a milestone in your life: You take your first steps, then you get your driver’s license, and then you exercise your right to vote,” Alkhafaji said. “I’m more than disappointed.”

The majority of the Texans affected by the new voter ID law are minorities.  Catherine Overton, who is 70 and black, moved to Dallas from Las Vegas earlier this year. In a phone interview, she said she wasn’t told about the ID law when she registered to vote. When she went to the polls last week, Overton said she was turned away by a poll worker who told her, “If you’ve been here long enough to get a voter registration card, you’ve been here long enough to get ID.” She said she hoped to go with her sister Monday or Tuesday to get a state ID, then take it to the polls. But because they both have doctors’ appointments, it may not work out.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Beggars Sink To A New Low In China

Photographs of a maimed camel have sparked uproar on social media in China after suggestions that beggars had cut the animal’s hooves off to elicit cash donations.

Two beggars were photographed kneeling in front of the skinny camel, holding it by the reins as it crawled along the road in Foshan, Guangdong province.  The microblogger who originally uploaded the photos said the “camel’s limbs are maimed” and suggested the injuries were sustained in a deliberate act by the beggars.

The posting quickly went viral on China’s biggest social networking site with many posters condemning the beggars’ alleged cruelty and others expressing sympathy for the animal.

Nuerjiang Maidier, an associate professor from Xinjiang Agricultural University, who studies camel rearing, said the lower parts of the camel’s four limbs had been cut off.  “The operations it seems were carried out by a veterinarian,” Nuerjiang said after viewing the photos. “This is so brutal,” he said.

The two men in the latest incident were reported begging on a street in Fuzhou, Fujian province, around six months ago. News reports at that time cited local police as saying the camel’s hooves were missing and suspected it was a result of amputation.

Though wild camels are listed as one of China’s first-class nationally protected animals, those belonging to beggars are often identified as domestic camels, thus they are not protected by law.  China’s animal protection laws only cover wild animals that are considered endangered species, or animals of scientific use.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chinese Get In Shape To Throw Their Health Away

Thousands of runners have took part in the 34th Beijing International Marathon, many wearing face masks amid concerns about pollution.

The organizers warned runners to expect slight or moderate smog, but the U.S. embassy in Beijing said air quality early on the day of the race was "hazardous".  One resident in the city told reporters that the air smelt like burnt coal.

 The World Health Organization says daily pollution levels should not exceed an average of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of fine particulate matter.  The U.S. embassy's monitor reported peaks of up to 400 micrograms per cubic meter on the day of the race, which would be hazardous if a human was exposed to it over a 24-hour period.

Some athletes gave up the race altogether because of the pollution.  British runner Chas Pope tweeted that he was only able to do 10km (6 miles) of the race in a pollution mask before he was forced to pull out.  He said that race should have been cancelled because the air quality was "not suitable for outdoor activities".

Beijing resident Neil Holt told reporters that although the air quality was better than last year, it was still very polluted.  "You can hardly see [the stadium] through the smog. It's really hard to breathe when it is like this," he said.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Northern White Rhinos A Step Closer To Extinction

A Czech zoo says a 34-year-old northern white rhinoceros has died in Kenya, further reducing the world's dwindling population of the critically endangered animal.

Suni was born at the zoo in Dvur Kralove in June 1980. The zoo says Suni was found dead on October 17 in the Ol Pejeta animal sanctuary. The cause of death wasn't immediately clear, but the zoo has ruled out death by poachers.  He was one of the four northern white rhinos that the Czech zoo moved to Africa in December 2009 in an attempt to save the species from extinction. The zoo hoped it could be easier for them to breed at the conservancy in Kenya rather than in captivity.

Poachers had originally reduced the population or northern white rhinos from 500 to 15 by the end of the1980's.   From the early 1990s through mid-2003, the population recovered to almost three dozen animals.  But since then,  poaching intensified and reduced the wild population to only four animals as of 2005.  Ground and aerial surveys conducted in August of that year found only four animals-- a solitary adult male and a group of one adult male and two adult females.   In June 2008, it was concluded that the species had likely gone extinct in the wild, since none of these four known remaining animals had been seen in the previous two years.

There are now six remaining northern white rhinoceros on the planet-- all living in captivity.  San Diego has two animals-- a non-breeding pair: Angalifu (male) and Nola (female), and the Dvur Kralove zoo has a 30-year old female named Nabire.  The remaining three animals-- Sudan(male), Najin (female) and Fatu (female, and the last to be born in captivity in 2000)-- survive at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

With Allies Like Saudi Arabia, Who Needs ISIS?

Since January of this year, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia under the country's antiquated legal system based primarily around sharia law.  In September alone, Saudi Arabia beheaded at least 8 people—twice the number of Western hostages featured in ISIS' barbaric execution videos.

In August those executed in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to death for crimes such as adultery, "sorcery," and leaving the Islam religion.  In one case, four members of the same family were executed for "receiving large quantities of hashish," a sentence imposed  on the basis of "forced confessions extracted through torture."  The executions of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of 'confessions' extracted through torture has become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia," according to Amnesty International's Said Boumedouha.

Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said that "beheadings as a form of execution is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and prohibited under international law under all circumstances."  But Saudi Arabia has oil and is the ally of the U.S. . . . in the meantime, ISIS pales in comparison but still garners infinitely more outrage.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What It's Like For Women Under ISIS

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Flat-Out Cheap

As if Dan Snyder didn't have enough to deal with — getting ridiculed in this season's "South Park" premiere and again by the "Daily Show" a day later for his insistence on keeping a racist mascot — the Washington owner is now washing down his 14-45 New York-style butt whipping with expired World Cup beer.

That's right-- little Danny Snyder was caught trying to pinch pennies by selling fans stale beer.   Wapo reporter Dan Steinberg entered the four-month-old code from a beer into the "Track Your Bud" website and it confirmed that the World Cup-era suds were past their freshness date.

This isn't the first time cheapskate Snyder was caught trying to making a few extra bucks at the expense of fans.  Back in 2006, the diminutive owner was caught selling year-old peanuts he bought from a defunct airline. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Threat Level: Bogus?

Foreign Policy's Rosa Brooks gleefully mocked Obama's U.N. address this week:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: My fellow Americans, the Middle East today is frighteningly full of threatiness.

What, you ask, is threatiness? As my good friend Mr. Stephen Colbert will surely understand, threatiness is to threat as truthiness is to truth. By this, I mean that sometimes we cannot articulate why something is a threat, or offer evidence, but we still think it just feels, you know, threaty. We know it in our gut. And let me be clear: when there is enough threatiness floating around, America must take action.

So when exactly is somebody going to make a halfway-decent case for why anything in Syria or Iraq is enough of a threat to justify going back to war?  I'm not sure there is a case to be made.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dead Man Walking?

Speaking at a Manhattan news conference this afternoon, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried unsuccessfully to quell complaints the league has not acted quickly or sufficiently enough to address the issue of domestic violence in the NFL.   At least 14 players have been arrested for violence against women in the past two years alone.

Many news outlets have described Goodell's appearance as an elaborate kicking of the can down the road.  Goodell said that, despite mistakes, he believes that he has the support of team owners. He said he has not considered stepping down “because I acknowledged my mistakes.”

The news conference came upon the heels of Procter & Gamble's announcement that it was canceling an on-field breast cancer awareness promo it had been planning with NFL.  P&G joined a long list of displeased advertisers, including Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's, Visa, FedEx, Nike, and Campbell Soup Co. The NFL responded to the drumbeat of criticism like a unrepentant teenager, saying in a statement, “We understand. We are taking action and there will be much more to come.”

Goodell vowed to have a new policy in place by the time of the Super Bowl . . . or maybe it was a vow to have the committee that would develop the policy in place by the time of the Super Bowl . . . I'm not sure, since Goodell seemed to say both in the course of his rambling, robotic and insincere performance.

I laughed out loud when Goodell admitted that he now knows that when investigating a domestic violence case, not to interview the victim while the man who beat her also is in the room.  In other clunker moment,  Goodell continued to maintain that no one at NFL HQ had seen the second Rice video before its release by TMZ-- despite evidence and law enforcement testimony otherwise.  Incredibly, Goodell even went so far to try and blame the NFL's inconsistent treatment of domestic violence on differing laws among the fifty states.  I won't even bother to try and explain that convoluted logic.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland In A Historic Vote

Spokesman for Yes Scotland:  “It's clear that 'Project Panic' is willing to say anything in the last few days of the campaign to try to halt the Yes momentum - anything except what new powers, if any, they might be willing to offer.  The reality is that the only way to guarantee Scotland gets all the powers we need to create jobs and protect our NHS is with a Yes vote on Thursday - so that we can use our enormous wealth to create a better and fairer country."

David Cameron:  “Please, don't mix up the temporary and the permanent . . . If you don't like me – I won't be here forever.”

Alex Salmond:  “When you try to [pressure] people [and] companies, as the Prime Minister has undoubtedly been doing and indeed the Treasury, then that's a different circumstance.  I think people in Scotland will know the Prime Minister's fingerprints are all over the scaremongering campaign and the Treasury's fingerprints are all over the bank campaign.”

Dennis Canavan, Chairman of the “Yes” Campaign:  "A 'vow' - it looks like something written on the back of a fag packet at the fag end of a long campaign. But the people of Scotland will not be fooled.  There is only one guarantee of getting more powers for the Scottish Parliament and that is by voting Yes.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Switching Up The Debate On Child Abuse

Why is there any debate on the Adrian Peterson issue?  So what if a parent hit you when you were a kid?  It's not love- it's violence, for christ's sake!  And if you went to grade school, that's where you were supposed to learn that violence is not the answer to any of your problems.   Not surprisingly, Louis C.K. gets it right on this:

To put it simply, Adrian Peterson and his apologists are uneducated on this and need to get up to speed--fast.  And the only way to get the attention of these NFL guys is to take them off the field.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Throw This Guy In Jail Already!

Florida killer George Zimmerman is in the news yet again.  Last week, Zimmerman was reported to have threatened a motorist's life during a road rage incident.  The victim, 35-year-old Matthew Apperson said he was listening to music in his car when he was verbally assailed by two men in a truck at a stop light in Lake Mary, Florida.  According to police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett, Apperson later identified the truck driver as Zimmerman.

Apperson also stated that Zimmerman, who was openly carrying a gun, asked, "Do you know who I am?" before saying, "I'll fucking kill you."  Apperson pulled into a gas station, where he placed a 911 call reporting the incident.  Zimmerman was gone by the time police responded.

Two days later, Apperson was forced yet again to called 911 when Zimmerman showed up in the parking lot of his workplace.   In a statement to the police, Zimmerman claimed he was at the location for a doctor's appointment.  No charges have yet been filed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Palin Pack Parties, Packing Punches

The Palin clan stirred up some good old-fashioned shit last weekend, instigating a run-in at a friend's 50th birthday party.  It all started when the Palins caught sight of 20-year-old Willow's ex boyfriend Connor Cleary.  Track Palin (the eldest son) started things off by trading blows with Cleary on the from lawn.  When Cleary's father Steve tried to break the boys up, Todd Palin began to choke him. Papa Palin got the worst of it, eventually walking away with bruises and a bloody nose. 

As all hell started breaking loose, the failed vice-presidential candidate was seen nearly crawling on top of people to get involved in the altercation.  As things started to settle down, Korey Klingenmeyer (who hosted the party) politely asked the Palins to leave.

That's when Bristol Palin calmly stood up, brought her arm back and cold-cocked Klingenmeyer right in the face.  Bristol repeated the maneuver six more times before Klingenmeyer was able to push her off him.   Sarah began screaming profanities at everyone, telling bystanders "You know who we are, don’t you?"'

With the party now winding down, Track Palin stood out in front of the house with his shirt off, flipping his middle finger at people as they left the house.  The Palin clan eventually rolled themselves into their stretch Hummer, and left as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Can We Not Care About Killing Innocent People? is among those wondering how Justice Scalia can stay on the Supreme Court after the revelation last week that two convicted murderers he once described as lucky to be given the blessing of a lethal injection have turned out to be innocent.

Scalia famously criticized Justice Blackmum for declaring the death penalty as inherently unconstitutional, saying:
Justice Blackmun did not select as the vehicle for his announcement . . . the case of the 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”
Scalia also once mused over his role in the “the machinery of death” saying:
"My vote, when joined with at least four others, is, in most cases, the last step that permits an execution to proceed. I could not take part in that process if I believed what was being done to be immoral."
It was the overturning of the 1983 conviction of half brothers Leon Brown and Henry Lee McCollum which brought the issue of the death penalty back into the news.  The 15- and 19-year-old brothers, both mentally disabled, were railroaded onto death row over 30 years ago with coerced confessions by a corrupt police department.  Brown eventually had his sentence reduced to life in prison, but McCollum has been awaiting death by lethal injection.  A state commission with power to subpoena evidence looked into the case, and DNA from the scene (which was never tested) and other evidence (which implicated another convicted rapist but was ignored at trial) exonerated the two men.

Heather Digby Parton of took the opportunity to call out Scalia on his utter moral failure regarding the death penalty:
Death penalty supporters inevitably use cases like this to illustrate that “the system worked” and, by implication, always works. Except that’s sophistry and everyone knows it. The only reason it worked in this case was because the state of North Carolina empowered an outside commission to investigate. And what they found was malfeasance, a coverup and a corrupt indifference to justice. The legal system obscured the truth at every level and every step along the way. There is no way of knowing how often that happens but any sentient being realizes that it is impossible that this was the only time.

Worst of all, Justice Scalia and other death penalty proponents who find nothing immoral in the state’s conscious, coldblooded taking of a life are equally unconcerned that they might be taking the life of an innocent person. The horrifying injustice in such a mistake (or criminal corruption) is irrelevant. Apparently as long as the train of the legal system runs on time there’s no cause for him to lose any sleep.
Scalia claims that he could not be a judge if he thought his participation in the death penalty was immoral and yet he does not believe it matters under the Constitution if the state executes innocent people. How on earth can such a depraved person be on the Supreme Court of the United States? On what basis can our country lay claim to a superior system of justice and a civilized moral order when such people hold power?

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Chip Off The Old [Dumb] Block

Dad asks: Is our children learning?
Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, accidentally registered as a member of the Independence Party in New York, the New York Daily News reported.   Mission Accomplished!

There have been howls from media watchers ever since the Today show gave the goofy but earnest Bush progeny a job as a special correspondent just months after her father left the White House.  How fair can this world be when so many journalism school graduates still struggle for full-time work when Bush spawn continue to remain on-air?

The blonde Bush was widely ridiculed over her initial broadcast from Yellowstone Park, where she fumbled over her words ("woof-watching") and read her less-than-a-minute-long report straight from paper.  For many folk, it is actually very touching to see a kid so resemble her doofus father.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Killed By Negotiation?

 The killing of reporters violates what many of us would call an unwritten social contract whereby journalists deserve protection because they’re witnesses to history not representatives of any particular government.  But terrorists, as serial killers, invariably reject social norms in the pursuit of their irrational goals.

Making the situation worse is that major media organizations have closed foreign bureaus and are now reliant on freelancers as cheap alternatives. Without the backing of major media organizations, these freelancers tend to be at even more risk — especially if they and their families happen to live in the country where the conflict is taking place.

But by far the biggest contributor to the problem are European governments, who typically negotiate with and/or pay ransoms to terrorist organizations.  Kidnapping as a fundraising tactic is thriving and rates are going up.  In 2003, a ransom of roughly $200,000 was paid for each captive, according to the New York Times.  Last month, a NYT investigation found that al-Qaeda and its direct affiliates had received at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008—primarily from European governments. In the last year alone, they received $66 million.

Hostage-taking by extremist groups is now so pervasive that at least one major aid organization is not sending U.S. aid workers to areas where they might be abducted. Instead, the group is sending citizens from European countries with governments that will pay ransoms.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Giant Anteaters On The Attack

 Giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two hunters in separate incidents, raising concerns about the animals' loss of habitat and the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people, researchers said.

The long-nosed, hairy mammals are not typically aggressive toward people and are considered a vulnerable species.  They can grow up to seven feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. Giant anteaters typically eat mainly insects but they also enjoy citrus and avocados.  They have poor vision and if frightened, they can defend themselves with extremely muscular forearms and claws that are as long as pocketknives.

In the first case, a 47-year-old man was hunting with his two sons and his dogs when they came upon a giant anteater in northern Brazil. The hunter did not shoot at the animal, but he approached it with his knife drawn.  The anteater stood on its hind legs and grabbed the man with its forelimbs, causing deep puncture wounds in his thighs and upper arms.  The hunter bled to death at the scene.

The other case involved a 75-year-old man who died when an anteater used its long front claws  to puncture his femoral arteries, located in the groin and thigh.  Zookeepers generally avoid being in the same space as the animals, coaxing them into separate fenced-off areas when they approach their living quarters for cleaning,  Attacks are rare, but  serve as a reminder to give the animals plenty of space.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Addicted To Lethal Injection

This week, the state of Arizona botched the execution of murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood, who spent nearly two hours "snorting and gasping for air"  after he was given a new two-drug combination of lethal medication.  Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 pm, an hour and 57 minutes after his execution began.  Wood's attorneys briefly got the Arizona Supreme Court to consider halting the execution by claiming his 1st Amendment rights were violated by the secrecy of drugs used

States have recently begun to refuse revealing details such as the names of the medications used, which pharmacies are supplying the drugs, as well as who is administering them because of concerns over harassment.

The botched Arizona execution, along with two other recently mishandled executions, have renewed the controversy over the use of lethal injections in the U.S.

In January of this year, Dennis McGuire was executed in Lucasville, Ohio by a previously unused mix of medications.  According to reporters, the execution of McGuire took more than 20 minutes, with McGuire left gasping for air for 10 to 13 minutes. It was the first use of a new drug combination which was introduced in Ohio after the European Union banned sodium thiopental exports.

In April, Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack during a failed execution attempt at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.  Lockett was administered an untested mixture of drugs that had not previously been used for executions in the U.S., and survived for 43 minutes before being pronounced dead.  Lockett convulsed and spoke during the process, and attempted to rise from the execution table 14 minutes into the procedure, despite having been declared unconscious.  Oklahoma director of corrections, Robert Patton, recommended an indefinite hold on executions in the state as a result.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cat Scratch Asshole

USDA Grade A chickenhawk
Legendary rocker Ted Nugent has a “long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language,” Media Matters reported earlier this year.

That report came after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and referred to him as a “chimpanzee.” Nugent previously called Obama a Nazi and a “piece of shit” who should “suck on my machine gun.” He once called Hilary Clinton a “toxic cunt” and, on another topic, said, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best [if] had the South won the Civil War.”

This week, less than seven hours after being asked about Nugent's racist legacy, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians cancelled a scheduled performance by the controversial performer.

Chief Allan, Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, issued a one-sentence statement about the cancellation:  “We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Going Gonzo In Gaza

In a New York Times editorial, George Bisharat explains why Israel has overreacted and is now losing the public relations war:
All nations have a right of self-defense, including Israel. But that right may be exercised lawfully only in limited circumstances. Israel cannot validly claim self-defense in its recent onslaught against Gaza for two main reasons.

First, despite its 2005 withdrawal of ground forces and settlers from Gaza, Israel still exercises effective control over the region by controlling its airspace, coast and territorial waters, land borders (with Egypt), electromagnetic fields, electricity and fuel supply. Accordingly, Israel remains an occupying power under international law, bound to protect the occupied civilian population. Israel can use force to defend itself, but no more than is necessary to quell disturbances. Hence this is not a war – rather, it is a top military power unleashing massive firepower against a penned and occupied Palestinian population.

Second, self-defense cannot be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting more than 400, searching 2,200 homes and other sites, and killing at least nine Palestinians. There is no evidence that the terrible murders of three Israeli youths that Israel claimed as justification for the crackdown were anything other than private criminal acts that do not trigger a nation’s right of self-defense (were an American citizen, or even a Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed by drug traffickers on our border with Mexico, that would not entitle us to bomb Mexico City).
Note:  Israel today bombed/destroyed another hospital in Gaza.  Whatever the justification, there is now less capacity to treat hospitalized patients than there was yesterday.  The inhumane treatment of the residents blockaded in Gaza continues....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spreadsheet Leads To No Spreads In The Sheets

If your wife keeps turning you down in the bedroom, the solution is to track your sex life in a spreadsheet, right?  Well, some guy thought so, obviously.  Over a six week period, he listed each time he asked for sex, what the answer was, and the excuse his wife used if she said no.

But it gets better-- here's what happened next, according to the wife's Reddit post:
Yesterday morning, while in a taxi on the way to the airport, Husband sends a message to my work email which is connected to my phone. He's never done this, we always communicate in person or by text. I open it up, and it's a sarcastic diatribe basically saying he won't miss me for the 10 days I'm gone. Attached is a SPREADSHEET of all the times he has tried to initiate sex since June 1st, with a column for my 'excuses,' using verbatim quotes of why I didn't feel like having sex at that very moment. According to his 'document', we've only had sex 3 times in the last 7 weeks, out of 27 'attempts' on his part.

Ouch!  Looks like Mr. Excel locked in another six weeks of sexless wedded bliss . . .

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Oldest Known Depiction Of Sex

From Josh Jones of Open Culture: Painted sometime in the Ramesside Period (1292-1075 B.C.E.), the fragments above—called the “Turin Erotic Papyrus” because of their “discovery” in the Egyptian Museum of Turin, Italy—only hint at the frank versions of ancient sex they depict …. The number of sexual positions the papyrus illustrates—twelve in all—“fall somewhere between impressively acrobatic and unnervingly ambitious,” one even involving a chariot. Apart from its obvious fertility symbols, writes archaeology blog Ancient Peoples, the papyrus also has a “humorous and/or satirical” purpose, and probably a male audience—evidenced, perhaps, by its resemblance to 70’s porn: “the men are mostly unkept, unshaven, and balding, whereas the women are the ideal of beauty in Egypt.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Liberals' Ten Commandments

We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we're willing to fight for it.

We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.

We believe that the Internet shouldn't be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.

We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.

We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.

We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

We believe in equal pay for equal work."

We believe that equal means equal, and that's true in marriage, it's true in the workplace, and it's true in all of America.

We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.

We believe that corporations are not people and should not be able to buy elections or impose the values of its owners on the lives of its employees.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shocking Group Suicide Attempt Brings New Attention To Illegal Land Seizures in China

There is renewed attention being brought to illegal seizures of homes and land across China after a Chinese family staged a gruesome mass suicide attempt by drinking pesticide outside the offices of a major Beijing newspaper.

The group of five women and two men were seen foaming at the mouth outside the headquarters of the China Youth Daily newspaper. They had tried to kill themselves in protest against local officials who threw them off their land and bulldozed their homes.

A newspaper employee named Bo Tuan was on his way into work when he saw the protest. "I heard them shouting for justice and didn't really pay much attention but then they pulled out plastic bottles and gulped down the contents before clutching their throats and collapsing to the ground. It was shocking to see, they were frothing at the mouth and choking and then all of them just lay there still," he told reporters. Ambulances arrived quickly at the scene and took the victims to hospital for treatment.  Four have recovered and three remain in critical condition.

The seven were left homeless when their family home in the eastern province of Jiangsu was demolished five years ago and were never given any compensation in return. Despite handing out posters and leaflets in a bid to garner support for their case, they failed to generate any means of supporting themselves.

The group then decided they would head to the capital where they staged the demonstration outside the offices of official newspaper of the Communist Youth League of China. The group said that they were not prepared to carry on living without recognition for the wrong done to them, and that without death there was only dishonor.

Naturally, the Chinese government only decided to take action when they were publicly shamed into doing so. Beijing officials say they are now looking into the complaint of the seven, and discussing it with local officials to find out exactly what happened with the alleged illegal land acquisition.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fox Is Officially Full Of Shit

Fox News has won the battle for most "full of shit" news network.

A new survey by the Tampa Bay Times’ PunditFact, looking at the veracity of cable networks, found that Fox News was the leader in airing the most falsehoods. According to PunditFact, Fox News’ on-air talent were mostly false, false, or “pants on fire” 60% of the time.

MSNBC ranked second in falsehoods, at 46% of the time. And CNN had a mere 18% of falsehoods – meaning, CNN did a pretty good job getting it right.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Facebook Conducts Psychological Experiments On Its Users, Manipulates News Feeds Without Their Knowledge

Over 600,000 Facebook users have taken part in a psychological experiment organized by the social media company, without their knowledge.

Facebook altered the tone of the users' news feed to highlight either positive or negative posts from their friends, which were seen on their news feed.  Facebook then monitored the users' responses, to see whether their friends' attitude had an impact on their own.   The results indicated that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influenced users' emotions, constituting experimental evidence for mass-scale contagion via social networks.

Facebook was able to carry out the experiment because all users must check a box agreeing to their terms and conditions in order to use Facebook. The mandatory terms allow Facebook to conduct "internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement."

The lead scientist on the project, Adam Kramer, admitted in an interview when he joined Facebook that he took the job because "Facebook . . . constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Widespread Blackouts In Venezuela

Large parts of Venezuela were blacked out last night, as a widespread power outage crept across the South American country. The outage affected homes, office buildings and even the presidential palace in the capital city of Caracas, as well as nine of Venezuela's 23 states.

Electricity Minister Jesse Chacon said a major line that connects the country's central and western parts had failed, causing the blackout in the early afternoon. Electricity still had not been fully restored as night fell.  Subway systems and train schedules were suspended around the country, stranding people trying to get home from work.  Cellular networks were jammed for hours as people tried to cope with the chaos.  In Caracas, the sidewalks were filled with pedestrians, forcing people to walk in the streets. While some middle class neighborhoods were without power after nightfall, the city's center experienced only intermittent outages. The problems extended to Maracaibo, Venezuela's second city, and the industrial center of Valencia.

In 2007, former socialist leader Hugo Chavez nationalized Venezuela's power sector as part of a broad wave of state takeovers. The socialist country suffered major blackouts in both 2012 and 2013 as well.  Current President Nicholas Maduro weathered three months of often violent opposition demonstrations earlier this year, demanding his resignation that were in part motivated by complaints over shoddy public services.  Experts attributed the latest outage to government incompetence and a deteriorating infrastructure, which has long been suffering from deferred maintenance.  The administration blamed the power outages on sabotage, promising a investigation.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Twerp In Twat Tweeted

This week, Anderson Cooper reported on an American exchange student in Germany who got stuck inside a giant vagina.  It took 22 firefighters and five emergency vehicle to extricate the young man from the giant vagina-shaped sculpture at Tubingen University in southwest Germany.

CNN's Cooper commented:
 “I’m certainly no expert on the topic of vaginas. I know enough to know you’re not supposed to go in feet first.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blue Balls At The World Cup

Costa Rican soccer coach Jorge Luis Pinto said he doesn’t want girlfriends and wives flying around Brazil to be with the team during the World Cup, and noted that players will need to stay isolated and focused.  Added Pinto: “I can assure, with no doubts, they will be able to ‘enjoy themselves’ just as soon as they qualify for the next round.”

Although it’s often said that sex can be a distraction and exhaust players, no scientific studies support either claim. Still, teams like Mexico, Chile, Spain and Bosnia and Herzegovina have banned players from having sex during the tournament, according to this handy guide from Deadspin. Mexico coach Miguel Herrera justified the decision with this simple explanation: “Forty days of sexual abstinence is not going to hurt anyone.”

Italy reversed previous policies banning sex at the World Cup, while the French have said sex is fine as long as it’s not the only thing the team does to prepare for matches.  The United States coaching staff said they have more important issues to worry about than whether their players are "knocking cleats" with their chicas.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rotten To the (Common) Core

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has warned that the future of the nation depends on the Common Core standards. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for writing them, evaluating them, and promoting them.

On the other side are grassroots groups of parents, teachers, and principals who say the standards were written in stealth, imposed by the lure of federal billions, and implemented too rapidly. All testing must be done online, so the standards are a financial bonanza for the testing  and computer industries.

But the mass media mostly ignored the controversy until Louis C.K. starting tweeting about the subject and talked about it on David Letterman. Not only does Louis have two daughters in a New York public school, he has 3.3 million followers on Twitter. Suddenly the world woke up, and Louis' tweets were reported in Salon, Politico, and dozens of daily papers and websites.

My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!
— Louis C.K. (@louisck)

Teachers are underpaid. They teach for the love of it. Let them find the good in cc without the testing guns to their and our kids heads.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck)
My favorite responses have been adults proudly announcing that they were able to solve these problems from a 3rd grade test.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck)

Arne Duncan labeled complaining parents as "white suburban moms" who were disappointed to discover that their children weren't so bright after all.  Teachers and principals were ignored when they complained that the new federal tests were confusing and had multiple right answers.  No one paid any attention when Pearson, the giant test publisher, put a gag order on teachers forbidding them from revealing the contents of the tests.  No one cared that teachers couldn't help their students when they weren't allowed to discuss what they got wrong on the tests.  Maybe Louis C.K. will get people to listen.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Deadly Inaccurate

Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett died during a botched execution, minutes after a doctor had called a halt to the procedure, raising more questions about new death penalty cocktails used by the state and others.

Thirteen minutes had elapsed after officials administered the lethal injection when Lockett lifted his head and started mumbling. The doctor on scene immediately halted the execution.  Lockett however, unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack about 30 minutes after that. "We believe that a vein was blown and the drugs weren't working as they were designed to," state corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie said.

 "This might lead to a halt in executions until states can prove they can do it without problems. Someone was killed tonight by incompetence," said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment.

The incident comes on the heels of a new statistical study which concludes that about one in 25 people imprisoned under a death sentence is likely innocent. Which means it is all but certain that at least several of the 1,320 defendants put to death since 1977 were innocent, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Docs Hatch Snatch, Natch

Doctors have successfully implanted laboratory-grown vaginas into four teenage girls suffering from a rare birth defect, creating new organs with feel and function comparable to that of a "natural" vagina, according to reports.

In a process that took three to five weeks, doctors grew genital cells into larger tissue cultures that were then attached to a biodegradable "scaffold" hand-sewn into the shape of a vagina. The scaffolds were tailor-made to fit each patient and are made of the same type of material used in surgical sutures.

Once the new vaginas were ready, surgeons created a canal in each patient's pelvis and stitched the scaffold to the girls' reproductive structures. The girls' bodies proceeded to form nerves and blood vessels into the grafts, and gradually replaced the engineered scaffold with a new, permanent organ.

Tissue biopsies, MRI scans and internal exams using magnification all showed that the engineered vaginas were similar in makeup and function to natural tissue. Even doctors said they couldn't tell where the girls' natural tissue ended and the graft began.

Questionnaires the girls completed showed they test normal in all areas of female sexual function, including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and painless intercourse.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Poor Are Persecuted In The "War Against Drugs" While Corporations Participate In Drug Trafficking With Impunity

A Wall Street bank accused of laundering money for drug cartels only had to pay a fine. Meanwhile, a man caught with a joint in his pocket had to spend 47 days in jail.

These were the simple facts pointed out by Matt Taibbi on the Jon Stewart show as he criticized the Justice Department for its failure to criminally prosecute HSBC after the bank admitted to laundering billions of dollars.

“[HSBC] admitted it. They did it,” Taibbi said. “If you have a malefactor who is admitting to laundering $850 million for the Mexican drug cartel and [someone's] not going to jail, you should be ashamed if you’re a prosecutor.”

To heighten his point, Taibbi went to a Manhattan courthouse and looked for a drug case being heard that day.  "They found a guy for me who'd been caught walking in the street with a joint in his pocket -- he got 47 days in [jail]," Taibbi recalled. "That's worse than anything that happened to anyone at HSBC, and they're at the top of the illegal drugs pyramid."  Matt Taibbi recently exposed the hypocrisy of the "drug war" in an essay for the Rolling Stone-- I'm sure going to miss his muckraking for that venerable magazine (why he hasn't won a Pulitzer for his Rolling Stone work is beyond me).

If the Supreme Court says that corporations are "people", then why can't someone go to jail if the corporation has committed a felony?  And if people from these soulless corporations don't go to jail for these crimes, they're emboldened to continue committing them.  And that's just what has happened with HSBC-- last year, HSBC agreed to a settlement with the Treasury Department for transferring funds on behalf of financiers for the militant group Hezbollah.   How soon do you think it will be until HSBC gets caught committing another felony?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why Walmart Should Pay A Living Wage

I stopped going to Walmart a long time ago-- got sick of their practice of shifting their labor costs to taxpayers (by not paying Walmart workers a living wage, workers are forced onto public assistance).

Did The NSA Know About or Exploit Hearbleed Bug?

Kim Zetter at Wired has asked whether the National Security Administration had used the "heartbleed" bug, citing the words of Matt Blaze, a cryptographer and computer security professor at the University of Pennsylvania:
 “It would not at all surprise me if the NSA had discovered this long before the rest of us had,” Blaze says. “It’s certainly something that the NSA would find extremely useful in their arsenal.” 

Michael Riley at Bloomberg went even further:
"The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.
The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts. . . Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers."
 The NSA has not publicly responded to a query about whether these claims are true.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Getting Drone Operators To Face Humanity

The child pictured in the giant art installation above (whose name was not released) lost two siblings and both of her parents in a Predator drone strike.   The title of the work, Not a Bug Splat, refers to to a military slang terms for targeted victims of drone strikes.  Predator drone operators often refer to their kills as "bug splats", since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.   But many of these disembodied "insects" are innocent victims-- people who were unluckily in the vicinity of the intended drone target.

A 2013 study conducted by a U.S. military adviser found that drone strikes in Afghanistan during a year of the protracted conflict caused 10 times more unintended civilian casualties than strikes by manned fighter aircraft.   These findings directly contradict claims by proponents of drone warfare who say that drone strikes are precise and only target terrorists.   But a study from Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute found that the number of Pakistani civilians killed in drone strikes is “significantly and consistently underestimated" and that as many as 98% of those killed by drone strikes are civilians.  As a result of 193 Pakistan drone strikes authorized by Obama between 2009 and 2013, only 22 Al-Qaeda officers were killed-- but over 800 innocent civilians were killed, including 97 children.

In light of those statistics, a group of artists-- using the printing technology utilized in street artist JR’s work-- placed a massive portrait of the anonymous drone victim in Pakistan’s Pukhtoonkhwa region, where drones have killed over 200 people.  Their hope is that remotely-operating pilots flying overhead might see her face and be reminded of their victims’ humanity.


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