Gravity Waves from Two Blacks Holes Merging


Cosmic Chirp From Black Holes Colliding Vindicates Einstein

Scientists say they heard the faint chirp of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, fulfilling Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Chocolate Rain


FOD : Depp Does the Donald


Officials Outraged After 'Shocking' Report on NYPD Kicking People Out of Homes

Read the main story here

New York City officials said reforms were needed after our investigation showed that the police have been locking out residents who haven't been charged with a crime.

by Sarah Ryley for ProPublica

A wide swath of public officials are calling for change in response to a Daily News and ProPublica investigation about the NYPD's use of an obscure type of lawsuit to boot hundreds of people from homes. The cases are happening almost exclusively in minority neighborhoods.

Several city council members said they were considering amendments and other reforms to safeguard abuses.

Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson said the statistics included in the story are "shocking."
Public Advocate Letitia James said she would conduct a thorough inquiry into "some serious legal and constitutional questions" raised by the story. "Some of the rights that individuals are forfeiting, to me, constitutes coercion."

The judge who oversees the day-to-day operation of the state's trial courts, which handle nuisance abatement cases, also said there should be more safeguards.

"It strikes me that this law may be broader than it should be," said Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks. "The Mayor's Office and the city council might take a close look at that."

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected on a promise of police reform, deferred comment to the NYPD. The NYPD ignored repeated requests for comment.

As a result of the story, Marks said that an educational session for judges handling the nuisance abatement cases would be held later this month. Marks stressed judges are independent and entitled to apply the law as they interpret it.

Requiring more recent evidence, prohibiting hearsay evidence, and requiring that cases include an arrest or conviction are all issues that would need to be addressed legislatively, Marks said.

The Daily News and ProPublica story found the NYPD has used the nuisance abatement law, enacted in the 1970s to clean up Times Square, to lock families out of their homes over investigations that often never led to a criminal conviction. After reviewing more than 500 cases filed against residences during 2013 and the first half of 2014, the investigation found:

  • In 75 percent of cases, judges approved the NYPD's request to lock people out before residents even had a chance to come to court
  • NYPD requests for locking out residents came an average of six months after the alleged illegal activity, even though the requests justified such an extreme measure by claiming illegal activity was "ongoing".
  • In order to settle the cases, tenants and homeowners often agreed to onerous provisions, such as banning specific family members for life, warrantless searches, and automatically forfeiting leases if merely accused of wrongdoing in the future.
  • 173 of the 297 people who gave up their leases or were banned from homes were not convicted of a crime. Forty-four of those people appear to have faced no criminal prosecution whatsoever.
  • Tenants, who rarely had lawyers, described scenarios of being left to fend for themselves against an NYPD attorney, while a judge was nowhere to be seen.
"I would hope that the administration, including the mayor and the police commissioner, (Bill) Bratton, gets to the bottom of this," said James, the public advocate. "The office of public advocate will be drafting a letter asking for the specificity and answers to some very serious questions."

James said she would look at whether there's a pattern of "illegal enforcement," of the law, the lack of criminal convictions in the cases, the reliance on confidential informants, and whether this is "a continuation of Broken Windows," referring to the NYPD's strategy of aggressively enforcing low-level offenses to prevent more serious crime.

City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) said his office is working on three legislative items: a bill that would require the NYPD to produce regular publicly available reports on its use of the nuisance abatement law; establishing a 90-day window within which the NYPD must file an action after the last-known violation; and stipulating that these cases can only be brought after an arrest or conviction.



Possibly one of the finest pieces of political art this century from one of it's most unique artists.

Alls my life I has to fight, nigga
Alls my life I
Hard times like God
Bad trips like: "God!"
Nazareth, I'm fucked up
Homie you fucked up
But if God got us we then gon' be alright

Nigga, we gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
We gon' be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
Huh? We gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright

Uh, and when I wake up
I recognize you're lookin' at me for the pay cut
Behind my side we lookin' at you from the face down
What mac-11 even boom with the bass down
Schemin'! And let me tell you bout my life
Painkillers only put me in the twilight
What pretty pussy and Benjamin is the highlight
Now tell my mama I love her but this what I like
Lord knows, 20 of 'em in my Chevy
Tell 'em all to come and get me, reapin' everything I sow
So my karma come and Heaven no preliminary hearing
So my record and my motherfucking gang can stand in silence for the record
Tell the world I know it's too late
The hoes, the girls think I gone crazy
Try and fight my vices all day
Won't you please believe when I say

When you know, we been hurt, been down before, nigga
When my pride was low, lookin' at the world like, "where do we go, nigga?"
And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga
I'm at the preacher's door
My knees gettin' weak and my gun might blow but we gon' be alright

Nigga, we gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
We gon' be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
Huh? We gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright

What you want, a house or a car
40 acres and a mule, a piano a guitar
Anything, see my name is Lucy, I'm your dog
Motherfucker you can live at the mall
I can see the evil, I can tell it I know when it's illegal
I don't think about it, I deposit every other zero
Thinkin' of my partner put the candy, paint it on the regal
Diggin' in my pocket ain't a profit, big enough to feed you
Everyday my logic, get another dollar just to keep you
In the presence of your chico ah!
I don't talk about it, be about it, everyday I see cool
If I got it then you know you got it, Heaven, I can reach you
Pet dog, pet dog, pet dog, my dog that's all
Pick back and chat I shut the back for y'all
I rap, I'm black, on track and rest assured
My rights, my wrongs are right till I'm right with God

When you know, we been hurt, been down before, nigga
When my pride was low, lookin' at the world like, "where do we go, nigga?"
And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga
I'm at the preacher's door
My knees gettin' weak and my gun might blow but we gon' be alright

Nigga, we gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
We gon' be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
Huh? We gon' be alright
Nigga, we gon' be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright

I keep my head up high
I cross my heart and hope to die
Lovin' me is complicated
Too afraid, a lot of changes
I'm alright and you're a favorite
Dark nights in my prayers

I remembered you was conflicted
Misusing your influence, sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screamin' in the hotel room
I didn't wanna self destruct, the evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went runnin' for answers

Paul Simon: Wristband


A new tune he performed on the Prairie Home Companion show Feb 6th 2016

Reinstalling Windows 10


Tech Tip


Q. The Windows 10 upgrade is a free download for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 machines, but it doesn't seem to have its own serial number and obviously didn't come with an installation DVD. What happens if I need to reformat my hard drive and reinstall the operating system? How do I reactivate Windows?

A. Depending on how you upgraded to Windows 10 and the version you were previously using, you may not need a product key (serial number) to activate Windows 10 again after a clean installation. Microsoft notes that product keys for many versions of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 can be used now, starting with Windows 10, version 1511, which was released as a system update last November. The product keys for Enterprise editions of those older Windows versions, as well as those from volume licenses or counterfeit copies of Windows, will not work, though.

When Windows 10 was first released as an upgrade for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 users, Microsoft was activating the new software with what it called a "digital entitlement" that took the place of a product key. As long as the computer is running a fully upgraded and legitimate version of Windows 10 that was activated without errors, the digital entitlement should allow you to reinstall the system on the PC as needed. (However, the company says that if you have made major changes to the computer's hardware, like swapping in a new motherboard, you may have to call Microsoft Customer Support to reactivate Windows 10.)

Before you reinstall Windows 10, make sure the system has indeed been activated by going to the Start menu to Settings, then to Update & Security and on to Activation. Later, if you are asked for a product key during the reinstallation (and did not use the number from an older version of Windows to originally activate the software), click the Skip button; Windows 10 should automatically activate itself after it finishes installing.

If you have to fully reinstall Windows 10, you can do so in several ways, including from a previously created recovery drive or from Windows 10 installation software on a DVD or USB drive. The Microsoft Software Download page on the company's site has the software and tools you need to create a bootable Windows 10 DVD or make your own USB recovery drive, as well as a frequently asked questions page that may have some useful answers.

Another example of why conservatives = death


The Republican Refusal to Aid Flint


flintwater.jpgThe water crisis in Flint, Mich., has elicited a lot more hand-wringing and apologies than concrete actions to provide for the needs of children and adults whose health may be damaged by water from pipes that are leaching lead into taps all over the city. The state government, whose officials caused this crisis, has been loath to commit substantial funds to long-term needs, and Congress, under the control of Republicans, is finding excuses not to rescue this poverty-stricken, majority-black city of nearly 100,000 people.

The evasions were on prominent display on both sides of Congress this week.

A House oversight committee held a hearing on Wednesday whose purpose was purportedly to identify those responsible for the Flint crisis and determine what could be done to alleviate it. But the committee failed to summon Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, whose environmental officials and emergency managers were the ones who made monumental blunders that led the city to draw water from the polluted Flint River without treating it properly. Instead, Republicans heaped blame on the Environmental Protection Agency, which made mistakes but was a bit player in this drama.

Then on Thursday, in the Senate, negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on a financial aid package for Flint, to be attached to a bipartisan energy bill awaiting passage, broke down, and Democrats refused to approve the bill without the aid package, pushing any hope of assistance into next week.

The Democrats have already yielded a lot of ground, cutting their original $600 million aid package to less than half of that, only to meet Republican objections that the costs were not fully offset by other cuts in federal spending and that no money should be provided until Michigan had a more thorough plan on how the money would be spent.

There is little doubt that some, perhaps all, of Flint's corroded pipes will need to be replaced, at a cost that the governor estimates at $767 million and others say could be above $1 billion. We believe that the Army Corps of Engineers ought to do the job and bill the state for its services. It is outrageous that Flint residents, even though the city has switched back to cleaner water from Lake Huron, still have to rely on bottled water and filters because the lead continues to leach from the pipes.

A Poem


Juggling Excess and Imbalance in a Time of Drones
Amy Uyematsu

-- after Juan Felipe Herrera, "Fuzzy Equations"

Pilotless warplanes + nonstop surveillance - Al Queda targets = innocent civilians + American hostages

Forgiving Bush for making an illegal war on Iraq > forgiving Obama for being black

Spyware + a pair of sneakers purchased on my Visa = tsunami of ads on my iMac screen

No talent Kim Kardashian + cocky Kanye West = reward + punishment for a brainless American public

People who know the names of "American Idol" judges > people who can name 1 American Poet Laureate

Bigger classes + underpaid teachers + corrupt bureaucrats + over-testing = kids who can't frickin read or write

California's water supply - agribusiness usage - oil company fracking = homeowners who better cut back

2 lumpectomies + 31 days of radiation = 1 more breast cancer survivor

Leftover rice + bacon + green onion + egg + soy sauce + salsa = Japanese lunch for my Chicano husband

Restaurant table of 7 friends รท 7 cell phones = 1 pitifully lonely meal

3 e-mails + 2 voice messages + 1 text = no guarantee that a Gen X child will call back

Khaled Said memorial page on Facebook = 400,000 followers + uprising in Cairo's Tahrir Square

Freddie Gray - 6 Baltimore cops = Michael Brown - 1 Ferguson policeman = Eric Garner - 2 NYPD officers

Tents + shopping cart closets + makeshift car motels = 44,000 homeless in LA county alone

WALK sign x impatient driver who looks me straight in the eye = pedestrian suicide

The # of cars crawling south on the 405 from 6 AM to 10 AM = routinely diabolical City of the Angels procession

Suffering + courage + forgiveness = heart

Truth + imagination + hope = art

Line of the Day


Death dances silently in everyone's shadow

Pussy Riot Returns


MOSCOW -- Wearing police uniforms and fishnet stockings, they whip hooded prisoners and waterboard them in their prison cells. The well-made-up women gleefully throw wads of cash into the air and flirt viciously with their viewers.

The Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot sashayed back into the public eye on Wednesday with the release of a music video savaging the country's prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika, who locked up three members of the group in 2012.

It is a black satire of the Russian criminal justice system, in which the women, playing prison guards, rap lustily about money and torture a man with hot clothes irons.

Obama's Visit to Mosque


A major problem is the President's lack of addressing Muslim women's issues during his visit.

Obama's About to Make Muslim-Haters' Heads Explode

This was bound to happen: Barack Hussein Obama's first-ever visit to a U.S. mosque as president. The right-wing freakout was bound to happen, too.

The anti-Muslim bigotry from the right in America is so predictable it's actually boring. They're like Pavlov's dog, but instead of salivating, they instinctively attack anything Muslim. No offense intended to dogs, which are far smarter.

We heard Herman "Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" Cain exclaim on Fox News that Obama is going to the mosque because he wants to "go kissy-kissy with the Muslim Brotherhood." And right-wing publications like The Daily Caller,, and Town Hall all wrote of nefarious ties between this mosque and the Muslim Brotherhood.

I wouldn't be surprised if Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or Ben Carson makes similar allegations or claims that Obama cares more about Muslims than Christians or Jews despite the fact Obama has visited synagogues and prayed at numerous churches over the years.

The reality is that it doesn't matter what mosque Obama visited. The anti-Muslim industry, in a six degrees of Kevin Bacon type of way, would connect the mosque leaders to someone who once ate a falafel with a guy who is friends with a dude who is a neighbor to a guy allegedly in the Brotherhood.

Now if you are wondering what exactly is the Muslim Brotherhood in America, you are not alone. I'm Muslim and have appeared at hundreds of Muslim-American events across the United States and have yet to meet a person who even mentioned it. And if you Google "Muslim Brotherhood," you will be treated to numerous articles written by these very same right-wing publications incestuously citing one another for support.

But putting partisan BS aside, does anyone actually believe that Obama would make his first visit to an American mosque that's tied to radical Muslims or terrorism? But facts don't matter to these media outlets. They smear every visible Muslim, be they members of Congress, Muslim organizations, or even Muslim American comedians--with the goal being to marginalize Muslims from every aspect of American society.

Now just so it's clear, as a Muslim American, I can assure you that I have zero tolerance for any terrorism, be it Muslim or right-wing anti-government terrorists like the Bundy gang in Oregon. And I have an even greater interest in ensuring that not one more Muslim is involved in any type of terrorism because I don't want to see people killed in the name of my faith. So if you see something suspicious involving Muslims or anyone for that matter, ignore political correctness and immediately contact the authorities.

Homo Thugs


More Bowie


David Bowie Wanted Ashes Scattered in 'Buddhist Ritual': Report

Associated Press

Rock legend David Bowie wanted his ashes scattered in Bali "in accordance with the Buddhist rituals," and he left most of his estate to his two children and his widow, the supermodel Iman, according to his will filed Friday in Manhattan.

The 20-page document, filed under his legal name David Robert Jones, said the estate was worth about $100 million, but didn't break down the finances.

The singer left the SoHo home he shared with Iman to her, and half of the rest of his worth. His son from a previous marriage, Duncan Jones, received 25 percent and his daughter Alexandria also received 25 percent as well as his Ulster County mountain home.

Bowie left $2 million to his longtime personal assistant Corinne Schwab and left her shares he owned in a company called Oppossum Inc. He left $1 million to Marion Skene, Alexandria's nanny.

The chameleon-like star transformed the sound - and the look - of rock with his audacious creativity and his sexually ambiguous makeup and costumes. His hits included "Space Oddity," "Golden Years," "Heroes" and "Let's Dance." He had cancer about 18 months before he died Jan. 10. He was 69.

Working Man's Hero


you think you're so clever and classless and free
well, you're still all freaking peasants
as far as I can see...- Lennon

feudalism then and now.jpg

Police and Community


We've invested so much in police departments as protectors that we have forgotten what it means to serve our communities, says Baltimore Police officer Lt. Colonel Melvin Russell. It's led to coldness and callousness, and it's dehumanized the police force. After taking over as district commander in one of Baltimore's toughest neighborhoods, Russell instituted a series of reforms aimed at winning back the trust of the community and lowering the violent crime rate. "Law enforcement is in a crisis," he says. "But it's not too late for all of us to build our cities and nation to make it great again."

A Beautiful Rendition


The Sistine Chapel is one of the most iconic buildings on earth -- but there's a lot you probably don't know about it. In this tour-de-force talk, art historian Elizabeth Lev guides us across the famous building's ceiling and Michelangelo's vital depiction of traditional stories, showing how the painter reached beyond the religious iconography of the time to chart new artistic waters. Five hundred years after the artist painted it, says Lev, the Sistine Chapel forces us to look around as if it were a mirror and ask, "Who am I, and what role do I play in this great theater of life?"

Krugman on Health Care Reform


Krugman's probably right, but I'm all for just going for Bernie's idea to just go for universal single payer now.

Health Reform Realities

Paul Krugman

Health reform is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency. It was the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare was established in the 1960s. It more or less achieves a goal -- access to health insurance for all Americans -- that progressives have been trying to reach for three generations. And it is already producing dramatic results, with the percentage of uninsured Americans falling to record lows.

Obamacare is, however, what engineers would call a kludge: a somewhat awkward, clumsy device with lots of moving parts. This makes it more expensive than it should be, and will probably always cause a significant number of people to fall through the cracks.

The question for progressives -- a question that is now central to the Democratic primary -- is whether these failings mean that they should re-litigate their own biggest political success in almost half a century, and try for something better.

My answer, as you might guess, is that they shouldn't, that they should seek incremental change on health care (Bring back the public option!) and focus their main efforts on other issues -- that is, that Bernie Sanders is wrong about this and Hillary Clinton is right. But the main point is that we should think clearly about why health reform looks the way it does.

Eagles Founder Glenn Frey Dies at 67


Another major loss so soon.

Can better tunes be written than "Hotel California", "Life in the Fast Lane," or "Desperado"?


Glenn Frey, who co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley and became one of history's most successful songwriting teams has died at 67.

Bill Burr on Trump


Religious Discussion #68943


You'll note in my post I specifically referred "Deity based Religions..." and I do not attack the scholars of such I refer to the common layman approach and understanding of those religions.

One of all time favorite authors for example was the Catholic Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

He managed to balance his spiritual affectations with the secular and said things such as:

"The time has come to realize that an interpretation of the universe--even a positivist one--remains unsatisfying unless it covers the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter. The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world."

"Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation."

"Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever newborn; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth."

His "Phenomenon of Manbook is possibly one of the greatest pieces of literature ever to emerge from ecclesiastical thought.

In his preface he writes:

"If this book is to be properly understood, it must be read not as a work on metaphysics, still less as a sort of theological essay, but purely and simply as a scientific treatise. The title itself indicates that. This book deals with man solely as a phenomenon ; but it also deals with the whole phenomenon of man."

To me that is good use of religion that doesn't require the liturgical recitations of consensus dogmas or magical thinking, which the average "religious person" engages in when they are judging the worthiness or not of the "others" not included in their exclusivity club.

So I again refer to the historical ledger which indicates that for the most part religion fails to elevate the consciousness of the majority of it's adherents and instead leads to conflict with and social violence against those found out of favor because of tribal taboos, nationalism or ethnicity.

I do not accept the concept that humans are inherently born evil and must be corrected by alignment with some God's apparent wishes as told by authoritarian priests and that only through abdication of their own reasoning can find some "cooperative and good place" in creation. To me it's just all irrelevant

Outside of religion's mysteries and myth poetics, religion is nothing more than a harness for the mule so that it might be made to plow straight rows.

The Joys of Spam


What all of us should do.

David Bowie - Self Eulogy


My Favorite Bowie Song


Bewlay Bros

And so the story goes
they wore the clothes
They said the things
to make it seem improbable
The whale of a lie
like they hope it was
And the Goodmen of Tomorrow
Had their feet in the wallow
And their heads of Brawn
were nicer shorn
And how they bought their positions with saccharin and trust
And the world was asleep
to our latent fuss
Sighing, the swirl through the streets
Like the crust of the sun
The Bewlay Brothers
In our Wings that Bark
Flashing teeth of Brass
Standing tall in the dark
Oh, And we were Gone
Hanging out with your Dwarf Men
We were so turned on
By your lack of conclusions

I was Stone and he was Wax
So he could scream,
and still relax, unbelievable
And we frightened the small children away
And our talk was old
and dust would flow
Thru our veins and Lo!
it was midnight
Back o' the kitchen door
Like the grim face
on the Cathedral floor
And the solid book we wrote
Cannot be found today

And it was Stalking time
for the Moonboys
The Bewlay Brothers
With our backs on the arch
In the Devil-may-be-here
But He can't sing about that
Oh, And we were Gone
Real Cool Traders
We were so Turned On
You thought we were Fakers

Now the dress is hung,
the ticket pawned
The Factor Max that proved the fact
Is melted down
And woven on the edging of my pillow
Now my Brother lays upon the Rocks
He could be dead, He could be not
He could be You
He's Chaemilion, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
"Shooting-up Pie-in-the-Sky"
The Bewlay Brothers
In the feeble and the Bad
The Bewlay Brothers
In the Blessed and Cold
In the Gretch-hungry Dark
Was where we played our Mark
Oh, and we were Gone
Kings of Oblivion
We were so Turned On
In the Mind-Warp Pavilion

Lay me place and bake me Pie
I'm starving for me Gravy
Leave my shoes, and door unlocked
I might just slip away
Just for the Day, Hey!
Please come Away, Hey! .............


Bowie Gone




I'm closer to the golden dawn
Immersed in Crowley's uniform
Of imagery
I'm living in a silent film
Portraying Himmler's sacred realm
Of dream reality
I'm frightened by the total goal
Drawing to the ragged hole
And I ain't got the power, anymore
No I ain't got the power anymore

I'm the twisted name on Garbo's eyes
Living proof of Churchill's lies
I'm destiny
I'm torn between the light and dark
Where others see their target
Divine symmetry
Should I kiss the viper's fang
Or herald loud the death of man
I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death's release

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah

I'm not a prophet or a stone age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I'm living on
I'm tethered to the logic of homo sapien
Can't take my eyes from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don't explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it
On the next bardo
I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death's release

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death's release

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah

Person of Interest Binge


All I can say is that is one of the best series I've ever watched and that there will be a final, if short, season 5.




Good Question



faith in the doubt that produces the faith


This Week in God, 1.2.16

By Steve Benen


First up from the God Machine this week is a surprising new poll that shows when Americans express support for religious liberty under the Constitution's First Amendment, they're really supporting their faith's freedom to worship - not the faiths they don't like. The Associated Press reported this week:

Americans place a higher priority on preserving the religious freedom of Christians than for other faith groups, ranking Muslims as the least deserving of the protections, according to a new survey.
Solid majorities said it was extremely or very important for the U.S. to uphold religious freedom in general. However, the percentages varied dramatically when respondents were asked about specific faith traditions, according to a poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

At a recent debate for Republican presidential candidates, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) argued, with a straight face, that Islam is "different" when it comes to religious liberty. "The fact of the matter is Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law," Santorum said. "It is also a civil government. It is also a form of government so the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong."
Remarkably, plenty of Americans also appear comfortable with different standards for different traditions. According to the survey's findings, 82% of the public agreed that protections for Christians are important. For Jewish Americans, support slips to roughly 70%. For Mormons, it's 67%. And at the bottom, 63% of Americans are on board with protections with those with no religion, and only 61% say the same about Muslims.
Some may take solace in the fact that majorities are willing to endorse protections across the board, but the gap between groups is nevertheless disheartening.
Given the nature of the political debate, perhaps it's not too shocking that so many people would embrace an ugly double-standard, but this doesn't change the fact that we're talking about public attitudes that cut against bedrock American principles.
The idea that the First Amendment applies to everyone, regardless of their belief system, and that the law doesn't play favorites among traditions, is a core constitutional truth - which many Americans evidently take issue with.
Also from the God Machine this week:

* Ironically, creationists apply descent with modification to their tactics: "In what is almost a too-clever illustration of how evolution works, a scientist at Australian National University has created a chart to show us the evolution of anti-evolution bills. The study was published last week in Science, on the 10th anniversary of the historic Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, which struck down the teaching of intelligent design, an attempt to mask creationism with pseudo-scientific language. Evolutionary biologist Nick
Matzke revealed how these bills have evolved over time to avoid potential predators such as the pesky Constitution and public outcry."

* A patient at a Catholic hospital in California asked for a tubal ligation during a scheduled C-section procedure, but the hospital refused on religious grounds. Because refusing "pregnancy-related care" for non-medical reasons is illegal in California, the patient and the ACLU filed a lawsuit that's worth keeping an eye on. The first court hearing is scheduled for this Tuesday.

* And the fine folks at Right Wing Watch identified "five failed right-wing prophecies and predictions" from 2015, "including fears about the looming imposition of martial law, establishment of Obama's private army and the assassination of conservative leaders." My personal favorite were the prophecies about divine punishment in 2015 over marriage equality, which some religious right figures said would include hurricanes, riots, and a mass migration away from the United States. None of this actually happened.

New Numbers from Krugman


How Bad America Could Get If a 1%-Loving Republican Wins in 2016

Krugman paints a picture that shows how bad things could easily get, again.

Paul Krugman now has some official numbers on his side to make the case that having Obama in the White House instead of Mitt Romney has made a serious difference to the country.

In Monday's column, Krugman looks at the IRS's tax tables for 2013, which were released last week, and concludes that elections have real consequences. His argument is directed to people on the left, who are disappointed with Obama and argue that there is no major difference between the two parties (except Bernie Sanders) and that the wealthy will always dominate.

Well, yes, but there has been some measurable progress, Krugman argues.

For one of the important consequences of the 2012 election was that Mr. Obama was able to go through with a significant rise in taxes on high incomes. Partly this was achieved by allowing the upper end of the Bush tax cuts to expire; there were also new taxes on high incomes passed along with the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

If Mitt Romney had won, we can be sure that Republicans would have found a way to prevent these tax hikes. And we can now see what happened because he didn't. According to the new tables, the average income tax rate for 99 percent of Americans barely changed from 2012 to 2013, but the tax rate for the top 1 percent rose by more than four percentage points. The tax rise was even bigger for very high incomes: 6.5 percentage points for the top 0.01 percent.


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