Archive for January, 2013
Take a look at this article at the DailyMail.co.uk tonight:
‘It was better for them to die unexpectedly': NASA expert reveals Columbia shuttle crew were not told of problem with re-entry as families mark 10-year anniversary
Note this photo (and the caption) that’s included:
The caption reads:
Disaster: The space shuttle broke apart on re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003
Read more of the DailyMail’s article (link above):
When Mission Control had it confirmed that the shuttle had broken up over Texas…
The DailyMail claims this photo is of the shuttle breaking up over Texas? Really? Unbelievable. I remember it. This is a photo of the shuttle Challenger exploding (more photos here) upon liftoff over Florida in 1986. But do they care? No.
The Daily Mail is as credible as Lance Armstrong. It doesn’t care what it throws up on its site. Don’t believe a thing you see there.
This is the kind of crap so-called news sites are putting up these days. They don’t care about facts anymore.
Simultaneously sad and hilarious:
Yo, dude, Phil, I can’t wait to see what your next move is. It won’t be to ask for FEDERAL ASSISTANCE, right?
Follow Gingrey on Twitter – here — to see how he gets out of this fix.
Two Arizona lawmakers are stirring Constitutional debate and threats of legal action after introducing bills that would require the state’s students to express love of country under God.
House Bill 2467, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Bob Thorpe, would require all public high school seniors to take an oath to “support and defend” the U.S. Constitution and proclaim, “so help me god.” A second proposal, House Bill 2284 sponsored by Republican state Rep. Steve Smith, would require all public 1-12 students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The oath, as proposed by Thorpe, reads:
I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.
I came across that at the same time I came across this:
These are the notes 42-year-old former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords (D) (a bright and successful woman) had in front of her today when she “testified” before the Senate Judiciary Committee on gun violence. Giffords was shot in the head with a Glock during an assassination attempt on January 8, 2011.
Two+ years on, she read these elementary sentences “with difficulty:”
As I posted earlier today, the NRA stooges in congress have made it almost impossible to track statistical/scientific information about gun violence in the United States.
And while we continue to weep for the 26 children and school personnel killed in December in Newtown, Connecticut, the carnage in the six weeks since then has been unbelievable:
How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?
Slate partners with @GunDeaths for an interactive, crowdsourced tally of the toll firearms have taken since Dec. 14.
(Roughly 1440 people in the United States have been killed by guns since Newtown. Go to the “More” link below for more.)
The answer to the simple question in that headline is surprisingly hard to come by. So Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths [more on that here] are collecting data for our crowdsourced interactive. This data is necessarily incomplete. But the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be. You can help us draw a more complete picture of gun violence in America. If you know about a gun death in your community that isn’t represented here, please tweet @GunDeaths with a citation. (If you’re not on Twitter, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Insofar as the NRA, with congress’s help, has shut down the pipeline for information, we’ve got to rogue so thanks to Slate for this brilliant idea.
If you read or hear about a gun death in your area, tweet the info to @GunDeaths or email Slate (above) with the info.
The NRA doesn’t want us to know how bad it is. Let’s tell them, through our action, that’s unacceptable. Knowledge is power. Right now, they’ve got it, but we can change that.
I don’t remember exactly when I learned that the right to vote isn’t enshrined in the Constitution but when I did, I was floored. For most of my adult life I thought it was one of those “God given, inalienable rights,” kinda like, as the NRA claims, owning an assault rifle is. But no:
Making Voting Constitutional
Our governing document creates no right to vote. It’s time it did.
Unlike citizens in every other advanced democracy—and many other developing ones—Americans don’t have a right to vote. Popular perception notwithstanding, the Constitution provides no explicit guarantee of voting rights. Instead, it outlines a few broad parameters.
“A constitutional amendment for the right to vote is needed to make it explicit,” says Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil-rights organization. “Making it explicit will send a signal to state legislatures and courts that any barriers to our democracy must be carefully devised so that they don’t disenfranchise people.”
An affirmative right to vote would create a more democratic society. It would also help shift power back to everyday citizens. A country in which more people vote is one where wealth and corporate influence are a little less powerful.
It was hard to decide what to cut and paste out of the article. There’s a lot of good information in it so check it out if you’re interested.
Anyway, who knew huh? And yes, though the Constitution doesn’t create a right to vote, it’s beyond time it did. Maybe then there would be less inclination for certain groups (you know who you are) to mess with it.
53-year-old Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut. On December 21, 2012 he arrived at the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz for a “long duration stay.”
Since his arrival he has been posting absolutely gorgeous photos to his Twitter account, which you can find (and follow) here. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, click on the photos on the left to begin looking at them.
Here are a few of my favorites. Incredible:
Again, go here to follow Commander Hadfield, to see more pix, or both!
This happened during today’s congressional hearing on requiring background checks for gun purchases:
PHOENIX — Phoenix police say three people have been shot at an office complex. Their conditions are unknown and there is no suspect in custody.
Officer James Holmes says the victims were taken to hospitals. He didn’t know if their injuries are life threatening.
Holmes says police so far believe there was only one shooter but don’t know his whereabouts.
A few days ago I posted about: Scientists Reach Subglacial Lake in Antarctica That Could Contain One Million Year Old Water.
What microbes and sediments might be in that ancient water isn’t the only fascinating thing about this project. There’s also the dirt at the bottom of the lake. Who knows what that dirt holds? Soot from ancient fires? The remains of long-extinct bugs or sea creatures or plants?
Anyway scientists pulled some of that dirt up today:
Hello, Dirt!Sediment from subglacial Lake Whillans, including mud, clay and rocks, makes its first supraglacial appearance on the multicorer instrument retrieved from the borehole. Reed Scherer (right) speeds the tray of sediment to the lab as Alex Michaud (center) and Ross Powell stabilize the multicorer above the borehole. The multicorer was successfully deployed to the bottom of Lake Whillans three times on January 30, providing abundant samples for chemical, physical and biological analysis.
I heard something about this shocking factoid a few days ago but I forgot to look into it so I’m glad this came across the internets just now:
With the debate over gun control headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, it’s worth recalling that the NRA has successfully gutted the government’s ability to sponsor research into the actual effects that guns have on public health.[...]
Governmental research into gun mortality shrunk by 96 percent since the mid-1990s, according to Reuters.[...]
Prior to 1996, the Center for Disease Control funded research into the causes of firearm-related deaths. After a series of articles finding that increased prevalence of guns lead to increased incidents of gun violence, Republicans sought to remove all federal funding for research into gun deaths. In 1996, Republican Rep. Jay Dickey removed $2.6 million from the CDC budget — the precise amount the CDC spent on gun research in 1995 — at a time when the center was conducting more studies into gun-related deaths as a “public health phenomenon,” according to The New York Times.[...]At the behest of the NRA, Congressional Republicans successfully removed all federal funding to the Center for Disease Control that would have gone into researching the effect of guns and the root causes of gun violence.
That funding was eventually reinstated, but has been decreasing since, and eventually the CDC re-designated the money to conduct research on traumatic brain injuries.
Because of the NRA’s successful campaign to eliminate the scientific research into the public health effect of firearms, very few researchers specialize in the field anymore, University of California Davis Professor Garen Wintemute told Reuters.
Imho, the big news here isn’t that the NRA per se won this fight, it’s that D.C. politicians enabled it. Organizations are free to lobby for whatever they want, of course, but that lobbying doesn’t go anywhere unless lawmakers enact laws the lobbyists want. So I hold our congresspeople directly responsible for this shameful state of affairs.
We. Have. Got. To. Get. Money. Out. Of. Politics.
Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the National Rifle Association is on Capitol Hill as I write, testifying before a Senate committee on gun control and advocating against — against — universal background checks.
Knowing LaPierre, he’s probably exaggerating by two or three fold the number of laws on the books but never mind that. Check this out from a poll released on January 17:
Support for universal background checks went across party lines: 89 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats and independents were in favor, as well as 93 percent of gun households and 85 percent of those living in a household with a member of the National Rifle Association.
Wayne LaPierre isn’t representing NRA members at this hearing. He’s representing the gun industry. I hope everyone in that room and everyone watching knows that.
Armed Man’s Capitol Intrusion Unnerves Idaho Lawmakers
A man with a handgun used a tour for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as cover to inspect legislators’ desks and reach into a waste bin on the House floor.[...]
The man attached himself to an evening tour led by freshman Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, who had been asked by a constituent to show the Cubs and Scouts around. “I thought he was a parent,” Holtzclaw said, noting that the troop leader assumed the man was a security officer because of his gun.
The man’s identity is unknown. He left the Capitol after an unarmed guard confronted him. The man said something like, “If I’m not being arrested or detained, I don’t have to answer your questions,” Luna said.[...]
Guns and long knives were banned in the Capitol from 1996 to 2008 by executive order. Gov. Butch Otter [a Republican] let the order expire, citing a 2008 law in which the Legislature said it had exclusive power to regulate guns in Idaho.
Signs were erected outside the House and Senate galleries after the 2012 Occupy protests. They list prohibitions: food, drinks, men wearing hats, signs, sitting on rails, cellphones, distracting noises. Bags are subject to search. But there is no firearm ban.
So the man with the gun wasn’t breaking any laws, but when actually faced with someone walking around with a sidearm, legislators who let a ban on guns in the Capitol expire freaked out? What’s with that? I thought guns made us safer!
Oh the irony.
There has got to be life out there somewhere:
Andromeda’s Colorful Rings
The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation.
The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbor. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimeter in size. Herschel’s ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings.
The colors in this image have been enhanced to make them easier to see, but they do reflect real variations in the data. The very coldest clouds are brightest in the longest wavelengths, and colored red here, while the warmer ones take on a bluish tinge.
So proud of my state, out here in a wild, wild west which is looking saner than some other parts of the country. It’s a state that lived through the Columbine slaughter and the Aurora theater massacre and we’ve said no to arming teachers.
Eileen McCarron, a retired math teacher and the president of Colorado Ceasefire, a group that argues for greater gun control said,
“We Coloradans do not wish to turn our school into prisons or our teachers into prison guards.”
Iceland’s president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is a really, really cool guy:
Here is some of what he says:
We didn’t follow the prevailing, traditional orthodoxies of the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we ah, we provided support for the poor, we didn’t introduce austerity measures of the scale you’re seeing here in Europe, and the end result, four years later, is that Iceland is enjoying progress and a recovery very different from the other European countries that suffered from the financial crisis.
Asked if he thinks Iceland’s policy of letting the banks fail would have worked for the rest of Europe, he said,
I think so. … Why do [people] consider the banks to be the holly churches of the modern economy? Why are [inaudible] banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies allowed to go bankrupt if they have been conducted in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bailout banks is a theory about bankers enjoying for their own profit the success, and then letting ordinary people feel the failure through taxes and austerity and people in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run.
I had never heard of “blast fishing” until about five minutes ago. It’s when fishermen throw gunpowder into the ocean which causes an explosion that stuns or kills whole schools of fish. Like this:
This shocking video has emerged from the Mentawai Island chain, a collection of roughly 70 small islands which are part of Indonesia. As you can see from the footage, some local fishermen are using gunpowder to stun or kill schools of fish before collecting them.
The process, known as ‘blast fishing’, spells destruction for the ecosystem that exists on the ocean floor. The area was badly affected by the tsunami in 2004 and as a result social conditions on the islands are poor. Therefore attention is now on islanders being able to provide for their families, rather than the state of the ocean reefs.
However, it needs to be remembered that this method of fishing will eventually impact the livelihoods of all who use the surrounding waters of the Mentawai Islands to make a living. Blast fishing was practiced around Greece and Turkey 50 or so years ago, as a result there are now few fish left in their waters.
You have to feel for the fishermen. They’re desperate to continue the only way of life they’ve ever known but they need to understand how shortsighted what they’re doing is. Go here to sign a petition asking the Indonesian government to intervene.
Enough already. The oceans are already on the brink.
Today, three months on, the second Hurricane Sandy relief bill finally passed the Senate. There were 62 yea votes and 32 nay votes. All the nay votes were Republicans:
Oh, and all Repubs need to do to win votes is shine their shoes. Yeah. Right.
Oh, and Chris Christie vetoed a teeny tiny raise in the minimum wage today because it was too much. He wants to phase in a $1.00 wage increase OVER THREE YEARS. That’s like 30c a year.
This would be the view as photographed and posted by Jim Sciutto of ABC News about three minutes ago of Beijing on what would be — their time — Tuesday morning:
Love that they don’t have a bunch of pesky government regulations regarding pollution there, huh? Ain’t it great? Just think. If Republicans have their way, we could have “views” like this too. Screw the EPA.
See more of Sciutto’s shots here. No clouds. No sun. Everything’s gray.
Republicans: Doing their best to connect to We the People:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) today vetoed an increase in the minimum wage that was passed by the state’s Democratic senate. Using what’s known as a “conditional veto,” Christie sent the bill back saying he would sign it if certain changes were made, including: shrinking the increase from $8.50 to $8.25 per hour, phasing it in over three years, and eliminating a provision tying the wage to inflation.
New Jersey’s current minimum wage stands at $7.25, so Christie’s veto, in essence, is saying that he believes a $1 increase in the wage over three years is sufficient. As the New Jersey Policy Perspective noted, “the first year increase proposed by the governor of 25 cents will be erased by inflation by the time the third year kicks in its 25 cents.” Here are more benefits that Christie denied to working New Jerseyans.
There was a time when the “only” people making minimum wage were African-Americans, immigrants and teenagers. And of course nobody cared about them so vetoing a minimum wage increase was something most mainstream Republicans blew off or even applauded. Problem is, lots and lots of people — including people Republicans have traditionally attracted — white folks — are working for minimum wage now too.
So they’ve got a problem they’re apparently unaware of. It isn’t just “the other” who are going to suffer here.
Not only that, this is just plain cruel and I think people sense that.
Okay, here it is, what we’ve all been waiting for: The 2013 Puppy Bowl live feed! Now we don’t have to wait until Sunday to watch the kids play. ;)
Again (I say tongue in cheek) go here to watch.
I hope this means people are starting to realize that being gay doesn’t mean being a pedophile:
Boy Scouts Close to Ending Ban on Gay Members, Leaders
The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.
If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.
Individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.
But since then, a scouting official said, local chapters have been urging a reconsideration. “We’re a grassroots organization. This is a response to what’s happening at the local level,” the official said.
This would be huge. I hope it happens.
It’s amazing how blind Republicans are to why they’re losing elections (note the headline — my favorite of the day):
GOP Leaders Insist No Overhaul Needed
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Republican Party honchos who huddled here for their first big gathering since the election devoted lots of time talking about the need to welcome Latinos and women, close the technology gap with Democrats and stop the self-destructive talk about rape.
But the party’s main problem, dozens of Republican National Committee members argued in interviews over three days this week, is who delivers its message and how, not the message itself. Overwhelmingly they insisted that substantive policy changes aren’t the answer to last year’s losses.
“It’s not the platform of the party that’s the issue,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday after being easily reelected to a second, two-year term. “In many cases, it’s how we communicate about it. It is a couple dumb things that people have said.”
A slide presented during a closed-press strategy session said that Mitt Romney might be president if he had won fewer than 400,000 more votes in key swing states.
“We don’t need a new pair of shoes; we just need to shine our shoes,” said West Virginia national committeewoman Melody Potter.
Huh? In other words they believe the issue is how their message is delivered, not what the message is. Shine the shoes and spiff their message up and they’ll be fine.
Problem is, they’re still watching too much Fox. Poll after poll show voters disagree with Republicans on immigration, abortion, minimal gun control and balancing the budget (i.e., “entitlement reform”) to name but a few. Putting shiny shoes on issues the majority of Americans disagree with you on won’t cut it. But hey, if they want to plow ahead thinking that’ll do it, fine by me.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest translates Coca-Cola’s new kumbaya-like “Coming Together” ad:
I like the plain truth President Obama told Steve Kroft in his 60 Minutes interview tonight:
You know, Steve, I gotta tell you, the — you guys in the press are incorrigible. I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you’re talking about elections four years from now.”
And I like the plain truth he told The New Republic too:
One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.
Memo to Obama and all Democrats: Keep it up, hammer away at it, drive it home and for God’s sake, don’t let up!
Three or four months ago I read about this project and now it’s finally done. I can’t wait to hear what scientists find in this virgin water that could be as old as one million years. Wow.
Scientists have peered for the first time into the interior of a lake hidden beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Subglacial Lake Whillans, located less than 400 miles from the South Pole, had sat isolated under the ice for hundreds of thousands of years—perhaps up to a million years. But over the last week a team of ice drillers has used a jet of hot water to melt a narrow hole into the lake through 2,600 feet of ice.
The drilling of the hole represents only the beginning of the work. This narrow, 20-inch aperture into the subglacial world will gradually freeze shut over the next few days. Twenty researchers are now working round the clock to take advantage of this opportunity that they have waited years for.
A variety of instruments will be dropped into the lake—as many as time allows. Bottles lowered on cables will sample lake water. That water will be analyzed for dissolved minerals and living cells. Water currents will be measured. Sediment cores will be punched out of the lake floor; the layers of sand or mud could provide clues to the history of the lake—and perhaps, an idea of how long this spot has been covered by ice. The researchers will also scrutinize these sediments for microbes. If Lake Whillans contains life, then most of it will probably reside in the mud at the bottom of the lake: in this world devoid of sunlight and photosynthesizing plants, the ultimate source of energy will most likely be minerals, which bacteria chew on in the dark.
Love this hilarious post from Smart Ass Cripple. Snark at its finest:
Kentucky Fried RatA guy picks up a bucket of chicken. He takes it home, turns on the game, settles back, digs in. And soon he discovers that one of his pieces of chicken is really a Kentucky fried rat.I hear a story like that on the news and I really get upset. I say to myself, “What a lucky sonuvabitch!” How come nothing like that ever happens to me? I suppose one reason I never find a Kentucky fried rat in a bucket of chicken is because I never buy a bucket of chicken. But that’s because every time I’ve bought a bucket of chicken all I’ve ever gotten is chicken. That’s the kind of rotten luck I have.
Biting into a Kentucky fried rat would cause me some serious PTSD sure enough. Imagine the nightmares. But it would also turn my pupils into dollar signs. I’ve gotten to the point where my retirement investment strategy consists solely of finding a Kentucky fried rat and suing that Colonel’s sorry ass from here to Toledo! Screw IRAs. It’s too late for that for me. My only hope for a financially comfy old age is to invest in a KFR.
Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.
The industry’s strategies include giving firearms, ammunition and cash to youth groups; weakening state restrictions on hunting by young children; marketing an affordable military-style rifle for “junior shooters” and sponsoring semiautomatic-handgun competitions for youths; and developing a target-shooting video game that promotes brand-name weapons, with links to the Web sites of their makers.
The pages of Junior Shooters, an industry-supported magazine that seeks to get children involved in the recreational use of firearms, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. At the end of an accompanying article that extolled target shooting with a Bushmaster AR-15 — an advertisement elsewhere in the magazine directed readers to a coupon for buying one — the author encouraged youngsters to share the article with a parent.
How about we say (1) the gun industry can’t market to children under the age of 18, and (2) children under the age of 18 aren’t allowed to purchase or own guns, just like we do with cigarettes and alcohol?
Today, the new darling of the GOP, Ted Cruz (R-TX) said,
Jindal’s advice was DOA.
The stupid party lives. Ooh yah.