Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Em-Tea: Christine O’Donnell’s Book Sells Only 2,200 Copies

The 10 States With the Worst Economies In America

The global economic crash hurt almost everyone, but not equally so. Last week, we looked at 10 states that are doing better than most in this grueling economy. Today, we'll consider 10 that aren't faring so well.

What accounts for their relatively poor performance? Three of the four states that saw the biggest real estate bubbles arise in the 2000s are on the list, beaten down by Wall Street hucksters promising them never-ending growth in home prices. People in California, Nevada and Florida, fueled by irrational exuberance, got badly “over-leveraged,” and when the house of cards fell apart, millions were left underwater. These states saw extremely high rates of foreclosures, and steep job losses as people pulled back on spending while credit market tightened. States themselves invested pension funds and other reserves in mortgage-backed securities, thanks to AAA ratings bought from ratings agencies like Standard and Poors, and that, combined with a massive drop in tax revenues, led to budget crises and public sector cuts at the worst imaginable time.

Others like Mississippi, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are cheap-labor “right to work” states. These are the economies that were devastated during the Civil War, came back only after the United States began mobilizing for WWII and have never truly caught up with the rest the country. With some of the lowest average net worths in the country and large service sectors that rely heavily on consumer spending, they were less able to weather the economic storm. Rounding out their pain is a severe drought, which has devastated agricultural outputs.

Rounding out the list is Michigan, which may be seeing some “green shoots of recovery.” Michigan ranks fourth in high-tech workers and R&D spending, but has been hurt badly by the long decline of the auto industry, which was hastened during the 2000s by high fuel prices and an out-moded fleet of gas-guzzling products.

Google Launches Offline Versions of Gmail, Calendar & Docs

Google is launching a new Gmail web app and updates to Calendar and Docs, in an effort to increase its products’ offline utility.

Google users have called bringing Gmail, Calendar and Docs offline an essential step for improving productivity, Group Product Manager Rajen Sheth told Mashable. The problem, he explained, is that when users need offline access to their email or calendar, they really need it.

To that end, Google is launching a new Chrome app called Gmail Offline. Separate from Gmail itself, the new app is designed for accessing, managing and sending email while you’re disconnected from the web. “We can build on top of a lot of HTML5 standards, which gives us the capabilities to make it work offline,” Sheth said.

The HTML5 app looks and feels a lot like the Gmail app for tablets. That’s because Gmail Offline is based off the tablet version, which was designed to function with or without Internet access. It focuses on the key features users need to access while offline, including organizing, starring, labeling, archiving and responding to email. It won’t give you access to Gmail Labs features, but it will get the job done.

In addition to the Gmail Offline app, Google is rolling out the ability to access Calendar and Docs offline. The feature, available by clicking the gear icon at the top of the page, lets you view events and RSVP to appointments in Calendar and view documents in Docs. Offline document editing isn’t available yet, but Google promises to find a way to make it work. Part of the problem is finding a way to make sure document edits made offline don’t override edits made by online collaborators.

Iran Says Cheap "Made in China" Qurans Full of Typos

Iran's Organization of the Holy Quran is scolding Iranian publishers who've outsourced production of the holy book to Chinese printers.

Apparently, their copies of the Quran are riddled with typos, according to the Tehran Times.

"These tableaus are made quite cheaply in China but are sold for much more than they are really worth to make that much more profit," said an official with the organization who monitors and evaluates Qurans available in Iran.

The official even urged importers to halt future Quran shipments from China,

Another Human Foot Washes Ashore in British Columbia

Police in Vancouver, British Columbia, say a human foot inside a running shoe has washed ashore, the latest in roughly a dozen such cases since 2007.

Police say the foot and leg bone were seen late Tuesday afternoon floating along the shore of Vancouver's False Creek.

Police so far have no theories about how the foot ended up in the water.

In the past four years, about a dozen feet encased in shoes have washed up on beaches near Vancouver, along the southern Georgia Strait and off Washington state.

Most of the remains are unidentified, although investigators said at least two of the feet belong to men who were reported missing.

In previous cases, police said it appeared the feet separated from bodies naturally in the water and foul play wasn't suspected.

140 Mexican Schools Shut Down Amid Extortion Fears

The casino arson last week in Monterrey in which 52 people were killed really put a face on just how serious the drug violence in Mexico has become. Police believe that arson was likely the result of extortion.

Today, we get news that 140 schools in the city of Acapulco will not open for the new school year because teachers, who have been threatened with violence, are too afraid to show up. That's about 600 teachers and 140 schools out of the city's 1,400, according to Julio Bernal, schools delegate for the state of Guerrero.

U.S. Money is Taliban's No. 2 Revenue Source

It's no secret that war is expensive, but a report out Wednesday says the U.S. has wasted billions in Iraq and Afghanistan. More tax dollars will go down the drain unless the government makes big changes.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that in ten years of war, the U.S. has paid contractors $206 billion to do everything from building schools to guarding diplomats. Today, a blue ribbon commission put a number on how much has been lost not to violence but to mismanagement and corruption.

Commission on Wartime Contracting Chairman Christopher Shays says: "We are wasting between $30 and $60 billion during the course of our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Shays says $30 billion in waste can be documented; Everything from leasing four-wheel vehicles at "grossly exorbitant rates" of about $40,000 a year, to a $124 million prison renovation that was never finished. The larger $60 billion figure includes an estimate of how much money lined the pockets of corrupt officials and even the enemy.

Maya Angelou Says MLK Memorial Inscription Makes Him Look lLke an "Arrogant Twit"

The poet Maya Angelou is not pleased with how the new memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall has turned out. Angelou, who served as a consultant for the memorial, thinks a paraphrased inscription on the north face of the 30-foot-tall granite statue of King “minimizes the man."

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” King said in a sermon at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church on Feb. 4, 1968. “Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

The creators of the memorial wanted to use that quote, but because of a change during construction, they were forced to paraphrase. On the statue, it reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

“The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit,” Angelou told The Washington Post. “He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply."

“He had no arrogance at all,” she said. “He had a humility that comes from deep inside. The ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely.”

Angelou thinks the inscription needs to be changed and put in context. When the Post told her the paraphrase was the result of a design constraint, she replied "too bad."

August: Deadliest Month for U.S. in Afghanistan

August has become the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on the Obama administration to bring troops home sooner rather than later.

The 66 U.S. service members killed this month eclipses the previous record of 65 killed in July 2010, according to an Associated Press tally. Nearly half the August deaths occurred when insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter Aug. 6, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs.

Violence is being reported across Afghanistan despite the U.S.-led coalition’s drive to rout insurgents from their strongholds in the south.

Though American military officials predicted high casualties this summer as the Taliban try to come back after recent offensives, the grim milestone increases pressure on the Obama administration to withdraw U.S. forces quickly.

The military has begun to implement President Barack Obama’s order to withdraw the 33,000 extra troops he dispatched to the war. He ordered 10,000 out this year and another 23,000 withdrawn by the summer of 2012, leaving about 68,000 U.S. troops on the ground. Although major combat units are not expected to start leaving until late fall, two National Guard regiments comprising about 1,000 soldiers started going home last month.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has set the end of 2014 as the target date for Afghan police and soldiers to take the lead in protecting and defending the country, leaving international combat forces to go home or take on more support roles.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mike Luckovich, Copyright 2011 Creators Syndicate

The Birmingham Sports-Radio Wars Begin, with a Sign-On and a Ban

Cox Media Group debuted the new "Zone" this morning, replacing new country "97.3 The Buck" WNCB. The lineup starts off with Eli Gold (University of Alabama play-by-play announcer) and Stan White (former Auburn QB) doing 6-9am. Matt Coulter, once heard at Citadel Broadcasting's sports radio incumbent WJOX-AM/FM (690/94.5) is also part of the roster, as is the syndicated Tim Brando show.

Brando's inclusion is causing friction in the market, with the Capstone Report quoting this tweet from Brando: "Reminder to those that don’t listen to my show. I have been banned from @finebaum Network. Paul will be on my show and hopefully explain.” WJOX personality Finebaum is the flashpoint of the ban, since he has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Citadel, hoping to gain his freedom. Presumably, he would then move to the new Cox "Zone."

Cox market manager David DuBsoe says "We're excited to give Central Alabama a great new choice for sports talk", especially as the college football season begins.

Palin to Join Tea Party in NH for Labor Day

ormer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will appear at a New Hampshire tea party rally this weekend.

The Tea Party Express on Tuesday announced that Palin is slated to attend a Manchester rally on Labor Day, two days after the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is to speak at a tea party rally in Iowa. Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary traditionally are open the political nominating season.

Palin is weighing a presidential bid and has said she is likely to make a decision soon. She recently stoked speculation about her White House ambitions with a visit to the Iowa State Fair Aug 12, the day before a straw poll. 

The Tea Party Express is on a 30-day national bus tour ahead of a debate in Florida

World’s 7 Billionth Person About to be Born

The billion-mark was reached only after 1800 AD. When Jesus was born, there are thought to have been around 300 million people on earth.

In the days ahead, a baby will be born who will take the global population above 7 billion for the first time, and in all probability that birth will take place in China or India, the two countries with more than a billion inhabitants.

No one is sure. There may already be 7 billion passengers on spaceship earth, as no statistician would be prepared to say exactly when this event of largely symbolic significance takes place.

The United Nations has fixed October 31 as the date of the fateful birth, but events have so often proved demographers wrong in the past that the expectation is that it will be sooner rather than later The rate of population growth has soared over the course of recorded history: When Jesus was born, there are thought to have been around 300 million people on earth.

The billion-mark was reached only after 1800. As many as a billion have been added in the eleven years of the 21st century alone, and predictions on future population growth are now treated with the same caution and scepticism as long-range weather forecasts.

Could Bill O'Reilly Drag Fox News Into the Hacking Probe?

Rupert Murdoch is working hard to contain the fallout from the hacking scandal that has engulfed his U.K. newspapers. His nightmare scenario right now would be the coming to light of anything to suggest that the bad behavior that was so (allegedly) commonplace at the News of the World also happened with any frequency in the U.S. That means not just interception of voicemails but also use of  shady private investigators and improper relationships with, or payments to, law enforcement officials.

Assuming Gawker’s sources are correct, it’s unclear exactly what, if anything, O’Reilly himself did here. The former police commissioner who allegedly ordered the investigation denies that O’Reilly requested it. O’Reilly was reportedly dangling a large potential donation to the police department’s charitable fund at the time, but there’s no evidence that he ever made one. At this point, all that can be deduced for sure is that it looks bad. (Fox News and News Corp. haven’t replied to my requests for comment, nor did they respond to Gawker’s.)

Never Wrong Forecasting Model Predicts an Obama Victory In 2012

Allan Lichtman’s model for predicting presidential elections, The Keys To The White House, has correctly predicted the results of seven straight presidential elections, and the keys say that Obama will be reelected in 2012.

Lichtman’s model is based on 13 keys which evaluate the performance of the man who holds the presidency. If six or more of the keys go against the president’s party, the incumbent loses.

Shocking New Details of US STD Experiments in Guatemala

Fresh revelations about 1940s medical tests come to light, including deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases

Shocking new details of US medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study, have been disclosed by a presidential panel.

The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in US history, but panel members say the new information indicates that researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.

"The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second," said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

From 1946-48, the US Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies on medical research paid for by the US government that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis.

Israel Sends 2 Warships to Egyptian Border

The Israeli Navy (INF) has decided to boost its presence and patrols near Israel's maritime border with Egypt due to a viable terror threat in the area.

Israeli security sources told the Associated Press on Tuesday that two additional warships have been dispatched to Israel's Red Sea border with Egypt. Another source stressed that the operation was routine, telling Reuters that "two naval craft have been sent to the Red Sea. This is not unusual."

Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told the state-run agency that the Islamic Republic is planning to send its 15th fleet to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, adding that the fleet's main operational objective will be to patrol the high seas and thwart pirate raids.

The Islamic Republic's 15th fleet is comprised of a submarine and a several warships.,7340,L-4115781,00.html

Republicans Against Science

Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

To see what Mr. Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the G.O.P. nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”

Appeals Court: Arresting Guy For Filming Cops was a Clear Violation of Both 1st & 4th Amendments

We've had a lot of stories this year about police arresting people for filming them. It's become quite a trend. Even worse, a couple weeks ago, we wrote about a police officer in Massachusetts, Michael Sedergren, who is trying to get criminal wiretapping charges brought against a woman who filmed some police officers beating a guy. This officer claims that the woman violated Massachusetts anti-wiretapping law, a common claim from police in such situations.

Segederin may have been better off if he'd waited a couple weeks for an appeals court ruling that came out Friday, because that ruling found that arresting someone for filming the police is a clear violation of both the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. How the case got to this point is a bit complex, but basically, a guy named Simon Glik saw some police arresting someone in Boston, and thought they were using excessive force. He took out his camera phone and began recording. The police saw that and told him to stop taking pictures. He told them he was recording them, and that he'd seen them punch the guy they were arresting. One officer asked him if the phone recorded audio as well and Glik told him it did. At that point, they arrested him, saying that recording audio was a violation of Massachusetts wiretap laws.

Even more ridiculous, they then had him charged not just with that, but also with disturbing the peace and "aiding in the escape of a prisoner." After realizing that last one didn't even pass the guffaw test, Massachusetts officials dropped that charge. A Boston court then dumped the other charges and Glik was free. However, he wanted to take things further, as he thought his treatment was against the law. He first filed a complaint with Boston Police Internal Affairs who promptly set about totally ignoring it. After they refused to investigate, Glik sued the officers who arrested him and the City of Boston in federal court for violating both his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The police officers filed for qualified immunity, which is designed to protect them from frivolous charges from people they arrest.

A Higgs Setback: Did Stephen Hawking Just Win the Most Outrageous Bet in Physics History?

A few years ago, celebrated British physicist Stephen Hawking was widely reported in the press to have placed a provocative public bet that the LHC (along with all particle accelerators that preceded it) would never find the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle” believed responsible for having imbued massive particles with their mass when the universe was very young.

His pronouncement caused a stir in the global physics community, and the Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, whose name had gotten attached to the hypothetical particle (Higgs had done some work in the 1960s, as had several other physicists, paving the way for the theoretical existence of the mass-imparting boson) took the challenge personally, complained about Hawking, and later lamented that to answer Hawking’s challenge would have been “like criticizing the late Princess Diana.”

In fact, informal polls of physicists over the last decade have shown that an overwhelming majority believed that the existence of the Higgs was a foregone conclusion and that all that was needed was simply to run the LHC long enough: the Higgs would eventually show up. Hawking—known for controversial and contrarian pronouncements—was seen as simply throwing around his weight.

But the Higgs boson never appeared. Running continually at an unprecedented energy level of seven trillion electron volts since March 31, 2010, the LHC has been amassing petabytes of data that are being analyzed by a grid of interlinked computers worldwide in search of the missing boson. And yesterday, August 22, at the Biennial International Symposium on Lepton-Photon Interactions at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, the bombshell was dropped: CERN scientists declared that over the entire range of energy the Collider had explored—from 145 to 466 billion electron volts—the Higgs boson is excluded as a possibility with a 95% probability.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cam Cardow, Copyright 2011 Cagle Cartoons

The Nation’s Cruelest Immigration Law

You’d think that any state would think twice before embracing a law that so vividly brings to mind the Fugitive Slave Act, the brutal legal and law-enforcement apparatus of the Jim Crow era, and the civil-rights struggle led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But waves of anti-immigrant hostility have made many in this country forget who and what we are.

Congress was once on the brink of an ambitious bipartisan reform that would have enabled millions of immigrants stranded by the failed immigration system to get right with the law. This sensible policy has been abandoned. We hope the church leaders can waken their fellow Alabamans to the moral damage done when forgiveness and justice are so ruthlessly denied. We hope Washington and the rest of the country will also listen.

Terror Attack in Tel Aviv Leaves Eight Wounded

Eight people were wounded in south Tel Aviv early Monday when a Palestinian man from the West Bank city of Nablus ran over policemen with a stolen taxi, exited the vehicle and stabbed additional people. The perpetrator was also lightly wounded as police struggled to arrest him.

Tel Aviv District Commander Aharon Eksol said the attack was "definitely an act of terror".

Iran Frees 100 Political Prisoners

Iran's supreme leader ordered the release of 100 political prisoners Saturday including some involved in the huge protests against the disputed June 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The decision, reported late Saturday by the semi-official Mehr news agency, appeared timed to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which is in its final days, when compassionate release is sometimes issued to prisoners.

The report did not name the pardoned prisoners and there was no indication it included two Americans who were sentenced to eight years' jail last week for spying after they crossed the border from Iraq where they said they had been hiking.,0,4655152.story

US Tiptoes Towards Theocracy

In difficult times, nations sometimes embrace extreme solutions. In 1494 Florence became a Christian Republic and Savonarola commenced his inquisition. Now America is in turmoil and Republicans offer a radical vision -- Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Is the US sliding towards Theocracy?

In 1494, Florence, Italy, was in economic and social turmoil. Catholic Priest Girolamo Savonarola declared Florence a Christian Republic and formed a Theocracy. Claiming to receive direction from God, Savonarola preached about the Last Days, and sparked a moral "purification" campaign. Homosexuals and liberal thinkers were killed, thousands of books were burned, and gangs ravaged Florence looking for indications of moral laxity, resulting in the notorious Bonfire of the Vanities.

In 2011, America is in economic and social turmoil and Republicans offer the solution of Theocracy. It's been tried here before. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was a Puritan Theocracy -- in 1660 Quaker Mary Dyer was hanged on Boston Common for advocating her religion. Until the nineteenth century, several states had official Christian churches. Nonetheless, the separation of church and state seems a solid legal principle -- "free exercise" of religion is in the First Amendment of the US Constitution (the notion of "separation" came from an 1802 Thomas Jefferson letter).

Recently, Republicans and Democrats have argued about the notion of the US as a "Christian Nation." In 2007 John McCain stated, "The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." Yet in 2009, Barack Obama remarked, "One of the great strengths of the United States is... we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Now Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachman and Rick Perry actively advocate Theocracy. They believe the US was founded as a Christian nation and disdain the notion of separation of church and state.

Perry Became a Millionaire While Serving in Office

Since his first race for office more than a quarter century ago, Gov. Rick Perry has emphasized his roots as a rural farmer.

Yet Perry's bank account no longer reflects those humble beginnings as his bottom line has soared in recent years, records show, thanks largely to a handful of real estate deals that critics allege were achieved through the presidential candidates's political connections.

In just about every campaign Perry has run since 1989, allegations of his using his position for financial gain have come up. It's an issue Perry long ago accepted would linger as long as he remains in the public eye.

Obama Proposes 'Prologed Detention'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pat Bagley, Copyright 2011 Cagle Cartoons

Media Bias Helps Tea Party Fav Christine O'Donnell Cover Up Book Tour Bomb

It’s Over: Tea Party Favorite Christine O’Donnell Gets Crowd of Five for Book

Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell’s book signing in Republican Naples, Florida drew a total of five people. Five. Five people. That’s it. Just like a Sarah Palin event, the media outnumbered the actual attendees.

The next day she headed over to a yacht club (keepin’ it real!) in Fort Lauderdale at the invite of the Broward Republicans (apparently she’s still a secret crush within the GOP). According to the Broward Palm Beach blog, after that book signing she headed over to Fox News to ask Republicans to pray for her.

I don’t know why she felt like she had to ask, seeing as according to Republicans God runs Fox, but perhaps she’s feeling desperate. The polls are horrible for the Tea Party. No one shows up at their rallies. They’re in debt for a canceled Vegas conference. This little foray into rebranding the failure of the W GOP is over — And yet our media gave O’Donnell tons of coverage. She even got an interview on Piers Morgan (that she walked off of).

It’s time for the Lame Stream Media to quit their Tea Party addiction. I know they’re jonesing for the costumes, the misspelled signs, the inevitable easy drama of white rage meeting Medicare recipients who think they’re Libertarians, the yellow flags, the big guns, the pseudo patriotism – it’s all so made-for-TV/insta-hit high.

But it’s over.

It never really was, until they made it something. But now, no matter how they try to revive the Fox made fake grassroots rebranding of the same old same old far right fringe of the Republican Party post Bush debacle, it’s really over.

According to polls, Americans dislike Tea Partiers more than atheists, more than Muslims, more than any other political group. We note that both atheists and Muslims are in fact demonized by Fox News/Tea Party. Rachel Maddow noted several days ago, “It just doesn’t seem like the Tea Party phenomenon that drove all of last year’s politics is driving them now, at least on the state level.” I’m sure even the terrified eyeball counters at the cable networks can figure out what I’m putting together for them….Pssst — you are catering to a teeny tiny audience who have already been Kool-Aided by Murdoch. They are not open to new sources of media. And that audience is not trusted and in fact disliked by the majority of Americans. See how the base is narrowing?

Human Slaughterhouse Discovered in Tripoli

Rebel forces mopping up the last remnants of Gaddafi regime resistance in Tripoli have discovered a warehouse containing the charred skeletons of scores of prisoners killed and burned as troops fled.

Residents who live nearby the site, near the southern Tripoli headquarters of Libya's most feared military unit, the Khamis Brigade, loyal to Col Gaddafi's youngest son, say they heard the sounds of shooting and explosions on Tuesday evening.

They were unable to leave their homes to investigate while fighting in the area continued, but on Friday night rebel forces captured the base and drove out the remaining fighters. Yesterday morning, residents and rebel forces moved in to discover the still-warm remains of at least 53 people.

Eight bodies, hands bound, had been left decomposing outside the shed. Inside, the remainder had been burned as they lay, the canisters of petrol still lying in the corners among the bodies, which were still warm. Locals told The Sunday Telegraph that up to 150 people were thought to have been killed there.

CNN’s Jack Cafferty Slams GOP Frontrunners: Why Are Americans ‘Allergic To Brains?’

Cranky CNN commentator Jack Cafferty lit into Republican superstars Sarah Palin (R-FNC), Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Wednesday’s The Situation Room, comparing them to The Three Stooges (sans Shemp), calling Perry’s instant burial of Mitt Romney in the polls “a little scary,” and asking, “When it comes to presidential politics, why does America seem to be allergic to brains?”

Tell us how you really feel, Jack.

Since becoming a national media figure, Jack Cafferty has become known for this kind of Howard Beale-meets-Abe Simpson venting, and last night’s rant was vintage Cafferty. He blasted Bachmann’s promise of $2 gasoline, called Perry and Bachmann “whackjobs,” and derided “former half-term dropout governor of Alaska” Sarah Palin by sarcastically calling her a “Mensa member.”

Cafferty went on to praise candidates like Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman as examples of “the other end of the intellectual spectrum.”

Roberto Arango, GOP Politician From Puerto Rico, Linked to Nude Pics on Grindr

Another day, another politician who cannot keep his clothes on around cell phones. This time, the exhibitionist seems to be Puerto Rican conservative Sen. Roberto Arango, who had several anatomically vivid pics show up on popular gay cruising app Grindr, reports Gawker.

When asked about the photos by a Puerto Rican TV station, Arango responded with an Anthony Weiner-esque non-denial: "You know I've been losing weight. As I shed that weight, I've been taking pictures. I don't remember taking this particular picture but I'm not gonna say I didn't take it. I'd tell you if I remembered taking the picture but I don't."

Vermont Towns Vote to Arrest Bush and Cheney

Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported.

The nonbinding, symbolic measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro in a state known for taking liberal positions on national issues, instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

Vermont, home to maple syrup and picture-postcard views, is known for its liberal politics.

State lawmakers have passed nonbinding resolutions to end the war in Iraq and impeach Bush and Cheney, and several towns have also passed resolutions of impeachment. None of them have caught on in Washington.

Bush has never visited the state as president, though he has spent vacations at his family compound in nearby Maine.

Roughly 12,000 people live in Brattleboro, located on the Connecticut River in the state's southeastern corner. Nearby Marlboro has a population of roughly 1,000.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nate Beeler, Copyright 2011 Cagle Cartoons

Wells Fargo Report: Alabama Likely in Recession

A Wells Fargo report says Alabama is one of 12 states that have seen its economy likely slip into a recession, but two economic experts in the state have a different outlook.

The report released this week by the San Francisco-based bank said Alabama experienced an economic contraction in July. Written by the bank's senior economist Mark Vitner and economist Michael A Brown, the report said more states are "likely to fall into negative territory within the next six months" because of a persistent decline in manufacturing jobs.

Sam Addy, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, said Friday the state could be headed into recessionary territory if it has a couple more bad months.

"But we are not there yet," Addy said.

Keivan Deravi, an economist at Auburn University Montgomery, said the national economy is dragging down a lot of states' economies, including Alabama's, "but we are not in worse shape than most other states."

Like Addy, he said, "one has to be extremely careful to place too much credence in statistics such as the one provided by Wells Fargo."

100 Things You Can Say To Irritate A Republican

Conservatives are so easy to anger these days. Even the most insignificant statement can set off their tempers. If you want to enrage a conservative, I suggest saying the following: 

1. A Socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor, for free.
3. Joseph McCarthy was an un-American, witch hunting sissy.
4. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were traitors.
5. The South lost the Civil War, get over it.
6. The Founding Fathers were liberals.
7. Fascism is a right-wing trait.
8. Sarah Palin is an ugly cow (said to conservative males).
9. The Earth is round.
10. Reagan raised taxes eleven times as President.
11. Reagan legalized abortion as Governor of California.
12. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.
13. Ronald Reagan supported gun control.
14. Global warming is real.
15. Republicans hate illegal immigrants, unless they need their lawns mowed or their houses cleaned.
16. The military is a government-run institution, so why do Republicans approve the defense budget?
17. The Cold War is over and the Soviet Union no longer exists.
18. Paying taxes is patriotic.
19. Republicans: Peddling the same failed economic policies since 1880.
20. The Republican Party began as a liberal party.
21. The Presidents’ full name is Barack Hussein Obama and he was born in the United States of America.
22. George W. Bush held hands with the King of Saudi Arabia.
23. President Obama saved the American auto industry, while Republicans wanted to destroy it.
24. Hate is not a Christian virtue.
25. Jesus was a liberal.
26. Republicans spend MORE money than Democrats.
27. Tea parties are for little girls.
28. Public schools educate all children; private schools are for indoctrinating children.
29. The Constitution is the law, NOT the Bible.
30. Sharia law doesn’t exist in America.
31. The President is NOT a Muslim.
32. Corporations are NOT people. People are people.
33. Fox News isn’t real news, it’s just a racist, sexist, hateful, right-wing propaganda machine.
34. The Federal Reserve was a Republican idea.
35. Women are equal citizens who deserve equal rights.
36. Women control their own bodies.
37. Abortion is a relevant medical procedure, just ask Rick Santorum.
38. Please use spell check.
39. It’s “pundit”, not “pundint”.
40. Social Security is solvent through 2038.
41. Health care is a right, not a product.
42. Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan ruling made by a conservative leaning Supreme Court.
43. G.O.P also stands for Gross Old Perverts.
44. The donkey shouldn’t be the Democratic mascot because Republicans are the real jackasses.
45. Barack Obama ordered the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It took him two and half years to do what Bush couldn’t do in eight.
46. Waterboarding IS torture.
47. 9/11 happened on George W. Bush’s watch, therefore he did NOT keep America safe.
48. Republicans invaded Iraq for oil, so Iraq should be allowed to invade Texas to get it back.
49. Separation of church and state is in the Constitution, it’s called the First Amendment.
50. Muslims are protected by the Constitution, just as much as Christians.
51. Barack Obama is the first African-American President, get over it.
52. The Oval Office is NOT a “whites only” office.
53. America is a nation of immigrants, therefore we are all anchor babies.
54. The white race isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving.
55. God is a particle.
56. Evolution is real.
57. The Earth is 4.54 billion years old, not 6,000.
58. The Founding Fathers did not free the slaves.
59. The Revolution was NOT fought over slavery.
60. Paul Revere warned the Americans, NOT the British.
61. Federal law trumps state law.
62. The Civil War was about slavery, NOT state’s rights.
63. Corporations care more about profits than they do about people.
64. Getting out of a recession requires government spending.
65. Glenn Beck is a nut-job.
66. Republicans: Paranoid since 1932.
67. Republicans don’t want to pay for your birth control, but they want you to pay for their Viagra.
68. Republicans actually NEED Viagra.
69. Fox News is owned by an Australian and has a Saudi prince as an investor.
70. Republicans complain about immigrants taking American jobs, then freely give American jobs to foreigners overseas.
71. Republicans hate communism, so why do they refer to themselves as red states?
72. Labor unions built this country.
73. Republicans hold America hostage as a political strategy; the temper tantrum throwing kind of political strategy.
75. When Republicans see black, they attack.
76. Inside every Republican is a Klansman or a Nazi waiting to bloom.
77. Republicans only care about children BEFORE they are born.
78. Republicans are hypocrites, they’re just too stupid to know it.
79. The Christian-Right boycotts movies that have violence, and then promotes guns and insurrection.
80. I think therefore I am NOT a Republican.
81. Republicans that oppose gay marriage are most likely in the closet themselves.
82. Churches should stay out of politics, or be taxed.
83. People are too poor to vote Republican.
84. Democrats think for themselves, Republicans form think tanks to do it for them.
85. Republicans hate education because they couldn’t hack it in school.
86. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and Republicans wallow in it.
87. A little socialism on the Left is better than a little fascism on the Right.
88. The current corporate tax rate is the lowest in 60 years, so stop whining about it being too high.
89. Republicans: Anti-Gay Marriage, Pro-Lesbian sex.
90. Republicans: Terrorizing the America people since 1981.
91. Republicans have their own terrorists, just look up Timothy McVeigh.
92. Republicans love outsourcing, just ask the Chinese Communists.
93. The Republican answer to the oil spill was to apologize to BP, a foreign oil company.
94. Democrats will be working hard to bring jobs to Americans, while the Republicans tea bag each other in the middle of the aisles.
95. Voter disenfranchisement is immoral and un-American, that’s why Republicans do it.
96. Republicans would let your house burn down unless you pay them to put it out.
97. Democrats want to take care of the sick. Republicans take their credit cards and then deny them medical attention.
98. Republicans say teachers are union thugs, then proceed to rape and mug the entire middle class on behalf of corporations.
99. Republicans think rape isn’t a crime, but miscarriages are.
100. Republicans are idiots and arguing with them is a waste of time!

Bottom line? If you want to anger a conservative, tell them the truth.

How The Working Poor Became The New Welfare Queens

Fifteen years ago this week, President Bill Clinton gave his controversial signature to landmark welfare reform legislation. The anniversary has not gotten a lot of attention, even though the program created to replace “welfare as we know it” in 1996 is up for reauthorization by September 30. A few conservatives have rehearsed their revisionist histories of the 1996 law, according to which Clinton was forced to sign a bill he had vetoed twice (which ignores the rather profound differences in the three measures). A few liberals have either revived their original objections to the law, or have simply noted that an approach to public assistance that worked in the go-go economy of the late 1990s has not worked so well more recently, in part because the jobs that were the linchpin of the new system have all but evaporated, and in part because neither the federal government nor most of the states have kept the funding promises they made fifteen years ago.

But whatever you thought of the law in 1996, or of its performance since then, the biggest surprise has been the rapid erosion, especially during the last few years, of the hopes shared by liberals and conservatives alike that firmly connecting public assistance to a requirement to work would detoxify the social and racial poisons that had grown up around the old system. At first, that actually seemed to happen; the “welfare wedge politics” so common from the 1960s to the 1990s largely abated in the aftermath of the legislation. But now, even as the “working poor” (the bipartisan heroes of welfare reform) are bearing much of the brunt of the Great Recession, they have become the objects of a new and intense wave of conservative hostility that treats them as parasites just like the “welfare queens” of yore.

Court Says State Law Used to Ban Recording of Police Officers in Public is Unconstitutional

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim "qualified immunity" because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

Rebels Settle Scores in Libyan Capital

The killings were pitiless.

They had taken place at a makeshift hospital, in a tent marked clearly with the symbols of the Islamic Crescent. Some of the dead were on stretchers, attached to intravenous drips. Some were on the back of an ambulance that had been shot at. A few were on the ground, seemingly attempting to crawl to safety when the bullets came.

Around 30 men lay decomposing in the heat. Many of them had their hands tied behind their back, either with plastic handcuffs or ropes. One had a scarf stuffed into his mouth. Almost all of the victims were black men. Their bodies had been dumped near the scene of two of the fierce battles between rebel and regime forces in Tripoli.

"Come and see. These are blacks, Africans, hired by Gaddafi, mercenaries," shouted Ahmed Bin Sabri, lifting the tent flap to show the body of one dead patient, his grey T-shirt stained dark red with blood, the saline pipe running into his arm black with flies. Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed? Mr Sabri, more a camp follower than a fighter, shrugged. It was seemingly incomprehensible to him that anything wrong had been done.

The corpses were on the grass verges of two large roundabouts between Bab al-Aziziyah, Muammar Gaddafi's compound stormed by the revolutionaries at the weekend and Abu Salim, a loyalist district which saw three days of ferocious violence.

The United Nations issued an urgent call for restraint by both sides in the bloody and bitter endgame to the civil war yesterday. But the thirst for vengeance has been difficult to control, to which the morgues, hospitals and the urban killings fields of the Libyan capital bore testimony.

U.S.: We Will Stop aid to Palestinians if UN Bid Proceeds

The United States will stop all financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if they proceed with plans to ask the United Nations for recognition of an independent state in September, a U.S. official warned Friday.

U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, told chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in the name of the Obama administration, that the U.S. would veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for recognition of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip within the June 4, 1967 borders and for UN membership.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Growing Oil Slick Found at Site of Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Over the course of last week, allegations arose of renewed leaking in the Macondo oil field, the site of last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Map). New Orleans lawyer Stuart Smith initially reported that as many as 40 Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) boats were hired by BP to lay boom around a growing slick near the site of the Macondo field. Later, two ships that assisted in the mission to kill the leaking oil well were photographed near the site: Helix Producer I, an oil production vessel capable of handling 45,000 barrels of oil per day, and the Helix Express, a subsea construction vessel.

It is currently unknown what the two Helix vessels are doing in the vicinity of the Macando well, but there has been speculation that the ships are working to find the source of the leak via Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and perhaps working to construct subsea infrastructure that will allow BP to produce oil to the surface or connect into the 25,000 miles of underwater oil and gas pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mike Lester, Copyright 2011 Cagle Cartoons

NPR: Alabama Immigration Law Faces Challenge In Court

Alabama has adopted a very tough law aimed at discouraging illegal immigration. A federal judge is now deciding whether to block the law from taking effect on September 1st. The Justice Department, civil rights groups, among others, are arguing that the law is unconstitutional. The hearing was Wednesday.

Among those suing to stop the law is a group of local religious leaders who oppose a provision that would make it a crime for anyone to, quote, "conceal, harbor or shield illegal aliens," unquote.


Karl Rove Calls Sarah Palin 'Enormously Thin-Skinned'

Karl Rove, a target of this week's SarahPAC attack on all who would presume to know or speculate on what Sarah Palin's presidential plans are, shot back at Palin on Thursday via Fox News, where both are paid pundits.

"I'm mystified. Look, she is all upset about this, saying I'm somehow trying to sabotage her in some way. Look, if she doesn't want to be speculated about as a prospective presidential candidate, there's an easy way to end speculation: simply say, 'I'm not running.' "

Rove goes on: "It is a sign of enormous thin skin that if we speculate about her she gets upset and I suspect if we didn't speculate about her she'd be upset and try and find a way to get us to speculate about her."

President Obama’s Libya Triumph: A Great Foreign-Policy Presidency

Yes, the economic recovery is too slow. But events in Libya suggest that this may be a truly great foreign-policy president in the making. Michael Tomasky on what Obama’s doing right.

Barack Obama hasn’t been much of a domestic-policy president from nearly anyone’s point of view. And it’s a little hard to picture how he might ever be seen as such—that is to say, even if he’s reelected, he’ll probably have a Republican House or Senate (or both) that will thwart him at every turn, so the best he’ll be able to say is that he presided over a slow and very difficult economic recovery, which presumably will finally happen by January 2017. But foreign policy could be a completely different story. Here one can see how he might become not just a good but a great foreign-policy president. 

Yes, of course, let’s stipulate: the war isn’t actually, you know, over. And even after it is, Libya could descend into chaos or extremism or both (although it is heartening to read that the National Transitional Council, the recognized new governing body, apparently has detailed governance plans in place). So could Egypt, and Tunisia, and so on and so on. Lots of things could, can, and undoubtedly will go wrong. Let’s also stipulate that Obama did not drape himself only in glory on Libya. The administration’s statement in June that the conflict wasn’t under the purview of the War Powers Act because bombing didn’t constitute “hostilities” was ridiculous. And many critics reasonably felt back in March that Obama was a little slow to pull the trigger on the intervention (I didn’t share that view).

All that said, the administration has already handled a lot of these changes well (and in the face of absolutely constant know-it-all criticism). One of the best things an American administration can do when big changes are afoot somewhere in the world is stay out of the way and not act as if we can will an outcome just because we’re America. We have a group in this country that likes to will outcomes, and their track record demonstrates that that doesn’t work so well (unless you think, apropos Iraq, that eight years and more than 100,000 lives later defines “well”). Obama has been more in the mold of George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, Jim Baker, when the Eastern bloc was throwing off Moscow’s shackles. Offer encouragement and stability, give a few speeches about freedom, but otherwise let them do their own work.

Ron Paul Pulling Past Michele Bachmann in Polls, Americans Taking Notice

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul says he's the Rodney Dangerfield of U.S. politics, griping recently that he gets no respect from the media in terms of coverage even after finishing a close second to Michele Bachmann in the often game-changing Iowa straw poll.

The media, Paul said at the time, "is frightened by me challenging the status quo and the establishment."

But with this week's latest Gallup poll showing the libertarian pulling ahead of Bachmann and gaining on frontrunners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Americans are beginning to sit up and take notice of the 12-term Texas congressman who's considered the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party movement.

The Gallup survey has Paul running within two points of U.S. President Barack Obama. Mitt Romney, by comparison, runs two points ahead of Obama, while Rick Perry is tied. In a Rasmussen poll, Paul trails the president by just one percentage point.

And in a Pew Research poll released Thursday, Paul also nudged ahead of Bachmann to place fourth in a survey that asked Republican voters what candidate they'd prefer. Pizza magnate Herman Cain, whose fortunes have fallen significantly in recent weeks, was third behind Perry and Romney.

The Kingdom of Magical Thinking

Widely assumed to be a fabulously wealthy welfare state, Saudi Arabia is in fact an economic basket case waiting to happen.

In 1935, an oilman visiting the Middle East reported back to his headquarters, "The future leaves them cold. They want money now." Although the temptation of overspending has repeatedly undermined oil-rich governments from Caracas to Tehran, Saudi Arabia avoided this trap over the last decade through fiscal discipline that has kept its expenditures below its swelling oil receipts.

But in a recent report striking for the candor of its unpalatable conclusions, Saudi investment bank Jadwa laid out the kingdom's inexorable fiscal challenge: how to balance soaring government spending, rapidly rising domestic oil demand, and a world oil market that gives little room for further revenue increases. And that was before the recent economic turmoil knocked $20 per barrel off oil prices.

Saudi Arabia's government spending, flat since the last oil boom in the 1970s, is now rising at 10 percent or more annually. And it will rise faster still: The House of Saud's survival instinct in the wake of the initial Arab revolutions led King Abdullah to announce $130 billion of largesse in February and March. The resulting increases in government employment and salaries can be cut only at the cost of more discontent.

And that's only what the kingdom is spending on its "counterrevolution" at home. Saudi Arabia will pay the lion's share of the pledged $25 billion of Gulf Cooperation Council aid to Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman. With Iraq, Syria, and Yemen likely flashpoints yet to come, the bill will only increase. Already, nearly a third of the Saudi budget goes toward defense, a proportion that could rise in the face of a perceived Iranian threat.

Meanwhile, fast-growing domestic demand poses a serious threat to oil-export revenues. The kingdom is one of the world's least energy-efficient economies: With prices fixed at $3 per barrel for power generation and $0.60 per gallon of gasoline, Saudi Arabia needs 10 times more energy than the global average to generate a dollar of output. Subsidized natural gas, too, is in short supply, undermining an economic diversification drive focused on petrochemicals. As much as 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil are burned for electricity to meet summer air-conditioning demand, yet Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's second-largest city, still suffers frequent power cuts. By around 2026, Jadwa projects that domestic consumption will be over 5 million bpd, exceeding exports, which will never again reach their 2005 peak.

Death Toll Rises to 53 in Attack on Mexico Casino

The death toll climbed as workers continued to pull bodies out of a burned casino in northern Mexico, where gunmen spread gasoline and ignited a fire that trapped and killed at least 53 gamblers and employees.

Family members gathered at the caution tape outside the Casino Royale after the Thursday afternoon fire in the northern industrial city of Monterrey, some crying and others yelling at police for providing no information. Later they were allowed to view bodies in the morgue to help identify the victims.

Abuja Attack: Car Bomb Hits Nigeria UN Building

At least 10 people have been killed in an apparent suicide car bombing at the UN building in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

The powerful blast wrecked the bottom floor of the building. Dozens have been injured, some critically.

A UN official in Nigeria, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said the UN had received information last month that it could be targeted by Islamist group Boko Haram.

Security was stepped up in response.

A car bombing at police headquarters in June was blamed on Boko Haram, a group which wants the establishment of Sharia law in Nigeria.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Copyright © 2011 Creators Syndicate

Birmingham Man Charged in Beating of Priest

Birmingham Police have arrested a 55-year-old man in connection with the beating of a Catholic priest.

The Birmingham News reported that police said Calvin Payne of Birmingham was arrested at his home.

He is charged with attempted murder in the Wednesday beating of the Rev. Emmanuel Isi, 57, associate pastor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham, after a traffic accident.

Rick Perry Zips Past Mitt Romney in the Polls

America, you have a new GOP frontrunner: Rick Perry has roared to the front of the GOP presidential field, according to the latest Gallup poll.

In only a short few weeks since the Texas governor announced his candidacy, Perry has gobbled up former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s lead in the national polls and then some, opening up a 12 percentage point advantage.

Not only that: Perry leads Romney among conservatives by a 33-16 margin, among all categories of church goers (even those who rarely, if ever, attend), and among all age groups. The only geographic grouping where Romney prevails is in the east, and even there he is ahead by a single percentage point.

Case Closed: “Climategate” was Manufactured

It’s not often you can actually say "case closed", but in this case it’s literally true: climatologist Michael Mann has been cleared of all wrongdoing by the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation.

Did I say "has been cleared"? I meant has been cleared once again, since there have been several investigations into his research and Dr. Mann has been cleared of all charges every single time (like here and here). All of this stemmed from the "ClimateGate" nonsense of the past couple of years, where leaked emails were taken hugely out of context by the press and climate change deniers, and used to smear scientists. Dr. Mann was at the center of the whole manufactured controversy, being the biggest target of the people who want to deny the Earth is warming up.

North Korea 'Ready to Impose Nuclear Moratorium', Declares Kim Jong-il

North Korea is prepared to impose a moratorium on the production and testing of nuclear weapons, the country's leader Kim Jong-il told Russian president Dmitry Medvedev today, in a move that could help pave the way for a resumption of stalled nuclear disarmament talks.

The promise of a moratorium came during a summit meeting between Mr Kim, 69, and Mr Medvedev, who flew nearly 3,500 miles across Russia to a Siberian military base to hold the first meeting between the former Cold War allies for nearly a decade.

Reporting on the summit, a spokeswoman for Mr Medvedev said Mr Kim was ready to resume talks that stalled in 2009 without preconditions. The spokesman stated that "in the course of the talks North Korea will be ready to resolve the question of imposing a moratorium on tests and production of nuclear missile weapons."

Marcus Bachmann Embraces Gay Community, Starting with This Guy

Marcus Bachmann, the sexually enigmatic Christian therapist husband of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, says he does not pray the gay away. To the contrary: He holds the gay close, arms intertwined, bodies pressed together as one.

The above image shows Marcus with openly gay Fred Karger aide Kevin Miniter. A gay activist seeking the GOP presidential nomination, Karger is "the only gay candidate" of 2012.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Discovery of a 160-Million-Year-Old Fossil Represents a New Milestone in Early Mammal Evolution

A well-preserved fossil discovered in northeast China provides new information about the earliest ancestors of most of today's mammal species--the placental mammals.

According to a paper published today in the journal Nature, the fossil represents a new milestone in mammal evolution that was reached 35 million years earlier than previously thought.

It fills an important gap in the fossil record and helps to calibrate modern, DNA-based methods of dating evolution.

The paper, by a team of scientists led by Carnegie Museum of Natural History paleontologist Zhe-Xi Luo, describes Juramaia sinensis, a small shrew-like mammal that lived in China 160 million years ago during the Jurassic.

Juramaia is the earliest known fossil of eutherians--the group that evolved to include all placental mammals, which provide nourishment to unborn young via a placenta.

Saudi Arabia Discovers 9,000 Year-Old Civilization

Saudi Arabia is excavating a new archeological site that will show horses were domesticated 9,000 years ago in the Arabian peninsula, the country's antiquities expert said Wednesday.

The discovery of the civilization, named al-Maqar after the site's location, will challenge the theory that the domestication of animals took place 5,500 years ago in Central Asia, said Ali al-Ghabban, Vice-President of Antiquities and Museums at the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities.

"This discovery will change our knowledge concerning the domestication of horses and the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period," Ghabban told a news conference in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.

"The Maqar Civilization is a very advanced civilization of the Neolithic period. This site shows us clearly, the roots of the domestication of horses 9,000 years ago."

The site also includes remains of mummified skeletons, arrowheads, scrapers, grain grinders, tools for spinning and weaving, and other tools that are evidence of a civilization that is skilled in handicrafts.

Steve Jobs Resigns as Apple CEO!!!

PRESS RELEASE: Letter from Steve Jobs

August 24, 2011–To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

David Fitzsimmons, Copyright 2011 Cagle Cartoons

Incumbent William Bell Easily Wins 2-Year Term as Birmingham Mayor

Incumbent William Bell easily defeated five challengers to win an abbreviated, two-year term as mayor of Birmingham.

With all but one precinct reporting, unofficial results from the election Tuesday showed Bell ahead with 89 percent of the votes.

No other candidate had even 4 percent. Bell's challengers included Kamau Afrika; Patricia Bell; T.C. Cannon; Willis "Mickey Mouse" Buddy Hendrix; and Harry "Traveling Shoes" Turner Jr.

Bell will face election again in 2013. The short term is part of a new law that puts Birmingham's mayor and City Council on the same election cycle.

Bell has served since 2010, when he won a special election to replace former mayor Larry Langford, who was convicted in a bribery scheme and removed from office. Langford is now in federal prison.

Texas Legislators and Christian Groups Fight to Insert God Into Vets' Funerals -- Against Families' Wishes

Christian military groups are suing the VA to force families to include prayer during the burial services of veterans.

Shouldn't veterans and their families have the right to decide whether religion -- and what kind -- is welcome at their own funerals? The Department of Veterans Affairs says yes. But three Texas Congressman and Christian military organizations want to strip away this basic right. Instead, they want to be allowed to impose unwanted Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served the red, white, and blue.

Putting Children in Prison: We’re #1!

Some headlines are unbelievably unbelievable. Amidst a country with a constant stream of incredible headlines this one I read recently literally made my stomach get that sick hollow feeling:

“12-Year-Old Boy Jailed for 30 Years”

My first thoughts were this must be another country, not the USA. It was not. I then went to research the issue and the more I read the sicker I felt. I can’t find where this made any big headlines either, which bothered me even more. Because of my personal experience with the justice system and my studies in the area of social issues, I knew we had big problems when it came to how many people we incarcerate and how they are treated. I knew we jailed juveniles and tried them as adults but I had not really delved into that topic in great detail. This headline drove me to learn more about yet another issue concerning how far our country has sunk into the realm of unconscionable acts: government sanctioned child abuse.

It ends up that the United States is the ONLY country that sentences juveniles to life in prison without a chance of parole. The Equal Justice Initiative states that over 2,200 juveniles are in prison for life for crimes they committed as children. All of these cases do not involve crimes committed on the cusp of adulthood… as this most recent case shows. We’re talking 11 and 12 year olds in some cases. Children who commit violent acts need help and treatment, not imprisonment where they fall prey to all kinds of abuse, especially sexual. Most of these kids have already experienced abuse of some kind which was a catalyst for their actions.

This is one of those issues where I expect to see society rise up in outrage en masse, and take to the streets in protest, writing and calling the President, politicians, senators, congressmen…. etc. etc. etc. Then, as I read some of the comments posted online about this issue I got a rude awakening as to how many think kids who commit certain acts should be imprisoned for life. And back comes my despair as to how far removed we are from the ideals we espouse.

Has Ron Paul Become Electable?

Look behind you Mitt Romney – has Ron Paul suddenly become electable?

That’s a conclusion one might draw from a new Gallup poll that pits Republican presidential candidates against President Obama in head-to-head matchups.

The GOP establishment’s view of Representative Paul, an anti-foreign-intervention pro-gold-standard libertarian, is that he’s a sideshow, and not an amusing one. He is dismissed as someone with a committed core of supporters but little appeal to Republican voters as a whole or the country at large.

Yet in the Gallup survey, among registered voters Paul trails Mr. Obama by only two points – 45 percent to 47 percent. That’s within the poll’s margin of error.

Palestinian Local Elections 'Postponed Indefinitely'

The Palestinian Authority has indefinitely postponed local elections which had been expected to take place in October in the West Bank, a minister told AFP on Monday.

"President (Mahmud) Abbas issued a decree postponing the local elections indefinitely to pave the way for internal Palestinian reconciliation," local government minister Khaled al-Qawasmi told AFP.

Local elections had originally been scheduled for July 9 but following a surprise reconciliation deal between Abbas' Fatah and the rival Hamas movement which was signed in early May, the date was put back to October 22.

As the deal struggled to get off the ground, Palestinian officials told AFP in July that local elections would be limited to the West Bank as Hamas was hampering preparations for the vote in Gaza.

In response, Hamas had accused Fatah of failing to reform the Central Elections Commission -- a condition of the reconciliation deal.

Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads for years but their rivalry turned bloody in 2007, when the Islamists forced Fatah out of the Gaza Strip.

Russia Green Lights $65 Billion Siberia-Alaska Rail and Tunnel to Bridge the Bering Strait

n what could certainly be one of the boldest infrastructure developments ever announced, the Russian Government has given the go-ahead to build a transcontinental railway linking Siberia with North America.

The massive undertaking would traverse the Bering Strait with the world’s longest tunnel – a project twice the length of the Chunnel between England and France.

The $65 billion project aims to feed North America with raw goods from the Siberian interior and beyond, but it could also provide a key link to developing a robust renewable energy transmission corridor that feeds wind and tidal power across vast distances while linking a railway network across 3/4 of the Northern Hemisphere.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East Coast Quake

Rick Perry Struggles to Answer Question on Abstinence

Why 'Constitutional Conservatives' Like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry Have No Respect for the Constitution

It's ironic that those claiming fealty to the constitution habitually thumb their noses at its most sacred principle.

A great irony of our political discourse is that those who describe themselves as “constitutional conservatives” display not only habitual ignorance of what our founding documents proscribe, but also show blatant scorn for the most important principle they enshrine: the separation of powers.

For much of our history, people across the political spectrum laid competing claims to being the true champions of the United States constitution, but in recent years that ground has largely been ceded to the far-right. When the Tea Partiers stormed into Congress, one of their first acts was a bit of political theater arranged by Tea Party caucus leader Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota: reading the Constitution (with the embarrassing bits edited out) aloud on the floor of the House.

In her book, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History, historian Jill Lepore writes that the problem with the Tea Partiers’ claimed fealty to the Constitution is that it's a form of religion rather than analysis. “Originalism,” Lepore writes, “looks like history, but it is not; it’s historical fundamentalism, which is to history what astrology is to astronomy, what alchemy is to chemistry, what creationism is to evolution.”