Key Word: Forgiveness

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It's not often that I agree with David Brooks...but...

True Love

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There's a huge amount of human behavior worthy of criticism. This not one of them.


Couple Married for 70 Years Die Just 15 Hours Apart

NASHPORT, Ohio -- A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, died at 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning.

The couple's eight children say the two had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported.

They remained deeply in love until the very end, even eating breakfast together while holding hands, said their daughter, Linda Cody.

"We knew when one went, the other was going to go," she said.

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According to Cody, about 12 hours after Helen died, Kenneth looked at his children and said, "Mom's dead." He quickly began to fade and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died the next morning.

"He was ready," Cody said. "He just didn't want to leave her here by herself."

The pair had known each other for several years when they eloped in Newport, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on Feb. 20, 1944. At two days shy of his 21st birthday, Kenneth -- who went by Kenny -- was too young to marry in Ohio.

"He couldn't wait," son Jim Felumlee said.

Kenneth worked as a railroad car inspector and mechanic before becoming a mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office. Helen stayed at home, not only cooking and cleaning for her own family but also for other families in need in the area.

When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus.

"He didn't want to fly anywhere because you couldn't see anything as you were going," Jim Felumlee said.

Although both experienced declining health in recent years, Cody said, each tried to stay strong for the other.

"That's what kept them going," she said.

Ungilding the Cages

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I predict that the American fall toward oligarchy will be stopped only by violent revolution.






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Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn't a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age -- or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque -- defined by the incredible rise of the "one percent." But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty's work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past -- back to the early 20th century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France.

The result has been a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends in inequality. Before this revolution, most discussions of economic disparity more or less ignored the very rich. Some economists (not to mention politicians) tried to shout down any mention of inequality at all: "Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution," declared Robert Lucas Jr. of the University of Chicago, the most influential macroeconomist of his generation, in 2004. But even those willing to discuss inequality generally focused on the gap between the poor or the working class and the merely well-off, not the truly rich -- on college graduates whose wage gains outpaced those of less-educated workers, or on the comparative good fortune of the top fifth of the population compared with the bottom four fifths, not on the rapidly rising incomes of executives and bankers.

It therefore came as a revelation when Piketty and his colleagues showed that incomes of the now famous "one percent," and of even narrower groups, are actually the big story in rising inequality. And this discovery came with a second revelation: talk of a second Gilded Age, which might have seemed like hyperbole, was nothing of the kind. In America in particular the share of national income going to the top one percent has followed a great U-shaped arc. Before World War I the one percent received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by more than half. But since 1980 the one percent has seen its income share surge again -- and in the United States it's back to what it was a century ago.

Still, today's economic elite is very different from that of the 19th century, isn't it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren't today's economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn't as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven't just gone back to 19th-century levels of income inequality, we're also on a path back to "patrimonial capitalism," in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties.

It's a remarkable claim -- and precisely because it's so remarkable, it needs to be examined carefully and critically. Before I get into that, however, let me say right away that Piketty has written a truly superb book. It's a work that melds grand historical sweep -- when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac? -- with painstaking data analysis. And even though Piketty mocks the economics profession for its "childish passion for mathematics," underlying his discussion is a tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.


The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the 'red line' he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.

Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad's offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama's change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn't match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army's chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn't hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria's infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria's neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. 'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria - and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration's public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong.

The Destructive Scam of Finance

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Three Expensive Milliseconds

by Paul Krugman

Four years ago Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, abruptly canceled America's biggest and arguably most important infrastructure project, a desperately needed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Count me among those who blame his presidential ambitions, and believe that he was trying to curry favor with the government- and public-transit-hating Republican base.

Even as one tunnel was being canceled, however, another was nearing completion, as Spread Networks finished boring its way through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Spread's tunnel was not, however, intended to carry passengers, or even freight; it was for a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds -- three-thousandths of a second -- off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn't tells you a lot about what's wrong with America today.

Who cares about three milliseconds? The answer is, high-frequency traders, who make money by buying or selling stock a tiny fraction of a second faster than other players. Not surprisingly, Michael Lewis starts his best-selling new book "Flash Boys," a polemic against high-frequency trading, with the story of the Spread Networks tunnel. But the real moral of the tunnel tale is independent of Mr. Lewis's polemic.

Think about it. You may or may not buy Mr. Lewis's depiction of the high-frequency types as villains and those trying to thwart them as heroes. (If you ask me, there are no good guys in this story.) But either way, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to save three milliseconds looks like a huge waste. And that's part of a much broader picture, in which society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.

How much waste are we talking about? A paper by Thomas Philippon of New York University puts it at several hundred billion dollars a year.

Mr. Philippon starts with the familiar observation that finance has grown much faster than the economy as a whole. Specifically, the share of G.D.P. accruing to bankers, traders, and so on has nearly doubled since 1980, when we started dismantling the system of financial regulation created as a response to the Great Depression.

What are we getting in return for all that money? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. Mr. Philippon shows that the financial industry has grown much faster than either the flow of savings it channels or the assets it manages. Defenders of modern finance like to argue that it does the economy a great service by allocating capital to its most productive uses -- but that's a hard argument to sustain after a decade in which Wall Street's crowning achievement involved directing hundreds of billions of dollars into subprime mortgages.

Wall Street's friends also used to claim that the proliferation of complex financial instruments was reducing risk and increasing the system's stability, so that financial crises were a thing of the past. No, really.

But if our supersized financial sector isn't making us either safer or more productive, what is it doing? One answer is that it's playing small investors for suckers, causing them to waste huge sums in a vain effort to beat the market. Don't take my word for it -- that's what the president of the American Finance Association declared in 2008. Another answer is that a lot of money is going to speculative activities that are privately profitable but socially unproductive.

You may object that this can't be right, that the invisible hand of the market ensures that private returns and social returns coincide. Economists have, however, known for a long time that when it comes to speculation, that proposition just isn't true. Back in 1815 Baron Rothschild made a killing because he knew the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo a few hours before everyone else; it's hard to see how that knowledge made Britain as a whole richer. It's even harder to see how the three-millisecond advantage conveyed by the Spread Networks tunnel makes modern America richer; yet that advantage was clearly worth it to the speculators.

In short, we're giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing -- maybe less than nothing -- in return. Mr. Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I'd argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America's return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It's the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that's undermining our economy and our society.

Ecce Heterocephalus Glaber

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When you feel no pain, resist cancer and show no signs of aging during your unusually long life, does it really matter that you look like an angry scrotum?

Behold: the naked mole rat


You're welcome.

Jesse Winchester Dead at 69

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So sad to hear of Jesse's passing.
Carolyn MCleod , Randy price and I had the opportunity to tour Quebec with Jesse in the very early 70's as a group called Moonstone. Jesse was an amazing talent and musical magician. The way he could capture the attention of an audience with his soft voice and small movements was astonishing.

We adopted his simple 1:30 second song "Do It" after hearing him play it on tour into our standard set.

If you want to hear a sample of our version there's an old partial live take at http://www.deeperwants.com/vids/music/thinice2.mp3

He was a major inspiration to all of us. Salut and peace,Jesse.

Jesse Gone

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Jesse Winchester, the esteemed singer-songwriter who became a symbol of the anti-war movement when he moved to Canada to escape the draft in the Sixties, died Friday from bladder cancer. Winchester, who was living in Virginia when he died, was 69.

While never as well known as peers like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, Winchester wrote some of the defining singer-songwriter tracks of the seventies -- evocations of American and Southern life like "Yankee Lady," "Biloxi," "Mississippi You're on My Mind" and "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz" that ached with feelings of loss for the country he decided he had to leave. The songs gained him a cult following and critical respect, and were covered by everyone from George Strait to Tim Hardin. Winchester was considered such a formidable songwriter that a 2012 tribute album, "Quiet About It," featured versions of his songs by Taylor, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Vince Gill, among others.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1944, Winchester started playing music in Memphis, where his family later relocated. In 1967, he received a draft induction letter, but instead of showing up, he took a plane to Montreal. "I was so offended by someone's coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth," he told Rolling Stone in 1977. He arrived in Canada with only $300 and no connections, but settled into a new life, joining a local band and finally writing his own material.


In 1970, Robbie Robertson of the Band, another Canadian musician, met Winchester in the basement of a monastery in Ottawa. "A friend of mine told me about him, and we went from Montréal, where I was living, to pay him a visit," Robertson says. "He sang me a few songs, and I knew immediately he was the real thing. Great songwriter, with a very moving vocal sound."

Robertson not only hooked Winchester up with the Band's (and Dylan's) manager, Albert Grossman, but produced Winchester's eponymous 1970 debut album, recorded in Toronto. "We had to do it in Canada because he was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam and was avoiding the draft," Robertson says. "When the record came out, it was received with open arms, and many recording artists covered his songs. Jesse's music stands up today as good as it did then, and I am so proud to have been a part of it."

Winchester released several more albums, including 1972's "Third Down, 110 to Go," produced by Todd Rundgren. No matter the producer, Winchester's voice and songs largely remained gentle, thoughtful and restrained. Unfortunately, he couldn't leave the country to tour or promote any of his early albums. "People say, 'Coming to Canada, that must have been a hard decision,'" he told RS. "But that really was the easy part. The hard part comes later, when you start trying to live your life in line with that decision. That's when it gets complicated." Winchester became a Canadian citizen in 1973.

During this period, Winchester's mythic status grew: During one of the Rolling Thunder Revue shows in 1975, Joan Baez dedicated a cover of the folk-pop hit "Please Come to Boston" to Winchester. In 1977, Winchester was pardoned by then-President Jimmy Carter and was finally able to tour America, although he wouldn't move back to the States for another quarter-century.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1944, Winchester started playing music in Memphis, where his family later relocated. In 1967, he received a draft induction letter, but instead of showing up, he took a plane to Montreal. "I was so offended by someone's coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth," he told Rolling Stone in 1977. He arrived in Canada with only $300 and no connections, but settled into a new life, joining a local band and finally writing his own material.

Also from Rolling Stone: 10 Amazing Backstage Moments From the Rock Hall's 2014 Induction

In 1970, Robbie Robertson of the Band, another Canadian musician, met Winchester in the basement of a monastery in Ottawa. "A friend of mine told me about him, and we went from Montréal, where I was living, to pay him a visit," Robertson says. "He sang me a few songs, and I knew immediately he was the real thing. Great songwriter, with a very moving vocal sound."

Robertson not only hooked Winchester up with the Band's (and Dylan's) manager, Albert Grossman, but produced Winchester's eponymous 1970 debut album, recorded in Toronto. "We had to do it in Canada because he was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam and was avoiding the draft," Robertson says. "When the record came out, it was received with open arms, and many recording artists covered his songs. Jesse's music stands up today as good as it did then, and I am so proud to have been a part of it."

Winchester released several more albums, including 1972's "Third Down, 110 to Go," produced by Todd Rundgren. No matter the producer, Winchester's voice and songs largely remained gentle, thoughtful and restrained. Unfortunately, he couldn't leave the country to tour or promote any of his early albums. "People say, 'Coming to Canada, that must have been a hard decision,'" he told RS. "But that really was the easy part. The hard part comes later, when you start trying to live your life in line with that decision. That's when it gets complicated." Winchester became a Canadian citizen in 1973.

During this period, Winchester's mythic status grew: During one of the Rolling Thunder Revue shows in 1975, Joan Baez dedicated a cover of the folk-pop hit "Please Come to Boston" to Winchester. In 1977, Winchester was pardoned by then-President Jimmy Carter and was finally able to tour America, although he wouldn't move back to the States for another quarter-century.

Winchester continued recording sporadic albums and, about a decade ago, returned to the States; he and his second wife lived in Memphis before finally settling into Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2011, Winchester was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but he beat the disease and eventually mustered the energy to record a new album, "A Reasonable Amount of Trouble." Produced by Mac McAnally, the album will be released this August. But this February, the cancer returned, to his bladder, and Winchester had spent the last week in a hospice.

Although Winchester was keenly aware of his lack of commercial success, he maintained a sense of integrity that proved as influential as his songs. "I didn't want to get into this business of trying to be the top [expletive] or something like that," he told RS in an earlier interview in 1970. "I'd rather just hang in there all the time with good music, slow and steady, and share it, rather than set the world on fire all at once."

Winchester continued recording sporadic albums and, about a decade ago, returned to the States; he and his second wife lived in Memphis before finally settling into Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2011, Winchester was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but he beat the disease and eventually mustered the energy to record a new album, "A Reasonable Amount of Trouble." Produced by Mac McAnally, the album will be released this August. But this February, the cancer returned, to his bladder, and Winchester had spent the last week in a hospice.

Although Winchester was keenly aware of his lack of commercial success, he maintained a sense of integrity that proved as influential as his songs. "I didn't want to get into this business of trying to be the top [expletive] or something like that," he told RS in an earlier interview in 1970. "I'd rather just hang in there all the time with good music, slow and steady, and share it, rather than set the world on fire all at once."

The School to Prison Pipeline

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Florida leads the nation on charging kids as adults

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by Meredith Clark

Florida's criminal justice system has received a lot of attention in recent years - and for good reason.

According to a new report, the state is on the wrong side of international human rights law. A Human Rights Watch review of Florida's policies for juveniles charged with crimes found more than 12,000 children have been moved from the juvenile to adult court system in the past five years - more than half of whom were charged with non-violent crimes.

The report, released Thursday, found that 98% of all the children who end up in the adult court system do so as a result of Florida's "direct file" statute, which allows prosecutors the discretion to move a case from juvenile to adult court without a hearing or any input from a judge. Between 2003 and 2008, Florida transferred juveniles into the adult court system nearly two times as often as the state with the second highest transfer rate, and five times as often as the average rate in 12 other states.

041114-youth-transfer-01.pngBlack youth are also disproportionately affected by the law, according to the report. While black boys make up 27% of those who enter the juvenile justice system, they account for more than half of all transfers to the adult system. White boys actually make up a slightly larger proportion of those who enter the juvenile system - 28% - but they comprise slightly less than a quarter of those who end up in adult court. ( enlarge graphic at right )

Heather DiGiacomo, communications director for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said that the department had not had the opportunity to fully review the report and couldn't comment on it.

The report also found that black boys are more likely than white boys to be charged as adults for drug felonies and for violent crimes that are not murder.

The report also alleged that some prosecutors may be using the threat of adult charges to get defendants to plead guilty in juvenile cases. This would not be a new phenomenon; an HRW report released in December claimed that federal prosecutors use the threat of harsh mandatory minimum sentences to extract guilty pleas from drug defendants. Ninety-seven percent of federal drug defendants plead guilty.

Florida is not just out of step with much of the United States when it comes to prosecuting children, the report said. International law requires children be treated differently in criminal cases, something HRW alleges Florida does not do. "To comply with international standards, any criminal process that a child is subjected to must take into account the fact that children are uniquely capable of rehabilitation," the report read.

Even within Florida, the chances a young teenager will end up charged as an adult varies between jurisdictions, something the report's authors want to see changed.

Hey sometimes ya get to see genius right out loud.

US Taxes Comparatively

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Remember Karen Silkwood

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Positive Propaganda

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You can already hear the ever Lautermewling from the right wing deniers....

Ann Curry's Report on Climate Change to Air on NBC this Sunday

anncurry.jpgIn a special one hour documentary airing this Sunday night, NBC News' Ann Curry reports there is virtually no debate among climate scientists: 97 percent now believe climate change is real and the warming is largely caused by human activity. A year in the making, and less than a week after stunning predictions about the future from the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Ann Curry Reports: Our Year of Extremes - Did Climate Change just Hit Home?," takes viewers on a journey to the Arctic at the top of the world, to drought stricken regions in the American West, to the edge of rising seas in Florida, and into extreme weather events all over the globe.

The report features ordinary people who say their experiences convince them - they are eyewitnesses to climate change, including the Inuit in Greenland, and the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We also hear from some of the world's top climate scientists who explain whether there is a link between climate change and extreme storms, like the deep freeze this past winter in places like Atlanta. They also tell us how to get ready for what some call the new normal.

"If climate scientists are right, we could face a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions," said Curry. "We owe it to our children to put politics aside, and weigh the latest scientific evidence for ourselves. Our report aims to give our viewers a chance to do just that."

Social media users can join the conversation and share their thoughts with hashtag #Extremes as "Ann Curry Reports: Our Year of Extremes - Did Climate Change just Hit Home?" airs this Sunday, April 6 at 7p/6c.

Read more

May 1

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Killing off the trend to oligarchy through political finance reform

Seven years ago, Internet activist Aaron Swartz convinced Lawrence Lessig to take up the fight for political reform. A year after Swartz's tragic death, Lessig continues his campaign to free US politics from the stranglehold of corruption. In this fiery, deeply personal talk, he calls for all citizens to engage, and offers a heartfelt reminder to never give up hope.

Most Corrupt Speed Trap in FL

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Good lord, this state is a riot

Bid to wipe out the most corrupt town in Florida

- where there is one heavily-armed cop for every 25 residents

  • The tiny landlocked town is an infamous speed trap with one police officer for every 25 residents
  • State officials fear at least $1 million in city revenue has gone to line the pockets of city workers
  • The town's elected mayor is in jail awaiting trial for allegedly selling an oxycodone to a cop for $20
  • An audit showed 31 potential city misdeeds including a $132,000 bill at a convenience store next to city hall
  • Auditors were even told that some missing public records were 'lost in the swamp'

By Joshua Gardner

hampton04.jpgA Florida town has been deemed so completely corrupt by state lawmakers that they want it completely wiped off the map.

Just under 500 people live in the few blocks of metal-roofed homes that make up Hampton, Florida, but city revenue from speeding tickets manages to keep a police officer for every 25 people in town on the payroll.

Even the mayor calls the town's officials a bunch of crooks, though he's currently in jail awaiting trial for allegedly selling an oxycodone pill to an undercover police officer.

Sunshine State lawmakers are pushing for the nuclear option after an audit released February 10 revealed a history of shockingly misused funds in the tiny town. That is, when any records were taken at all.

CNN reports that the city--which has existed for 89 years for the purposes of pumping water to its residents and for maintaining a police force--told auditors they'd simply lost records of water meter readings 'in the swamp.'

The audit found that Hampton officials were guilty of 31 misdeeds and mishandling of funds that were as egregious as $132,000 in charges at the BP convenience store next door to City Hall.

'What's wrong with that picture?' Jim Mitzel, mayor from 2000 to 2008, asked CNN. 'That's a lot of cigarettes and beer and what-have-you. That's corrupt as heck.'

They also found that city employees had racked up $27,000 in charges on the city's credit card for 'no public purpose' and that the city police cars weren't even insured.

Though, there were plenty of them.

The city keeps a bloated police force in order to continue pursuing what many say is its sole purpose: ticketing drivers as they drive through town.

The town has even extended its city limits 1,260 feet down the width of a busy highway in order to lay claim to any and all traffic violations--end their accompanying ticket fines--that occur there.

hampton03.jpgThe sight of Hampton Police sitting alongside U.S. 301 on lawn chairs and pointing their radar gun at passersby bas become the norm on the outskirts of town.

They became infamous for ticketing anyone and everyone they possibly could for even the tiniest of infractions and between 2010 and 2012 raked in an unbelievable $616,960 in fines.

The money allowed them to upgrade their police cars to SUVs and check drivers' speed while wearing pricey riot gear.

One such police officer became known by the nickname Rambo because of his swagger and the AR-15 rifle he wore while greeting vacationing speeders during traffic stops.

'It became "serve and collect" instead of "serve and protect." Cash register justice,' local Sheriff Gordon Smith told CNN. 'Do y'all remember the old Dukes of Hazzard? Boss Hogg? They make Boss Hogg look like a Sunday school teacher.'

hampton02.jpgEven more glaring evidence that something is very wrong in Hampton is its last mayor, Barry Layne Moore.

Just a few weeks after he took office, he made headlines when he was arrested for allegedly selling pain pills to a police officers.

'I ride a bicycle around town. I had my lights cut off twice last year. If I am a dope dealer, why are my lights getting cut off,' Moore asked CNN in an interview from jail.

'I'm a good guy that got caught up in a bunch of nonsense that was bigger than me.'

Moore has been in jail since around Thanksgiving because he can't afford the $4,500 bond.

To save themselves further headache, state officials--including State Senator Rob Bradley, whose district includes Hampton--say they just want the town erased from the map.

'It's like something out of a Southern Gothic novel,' Bradley told Time.

Bradley said the support to wipe away the mistakes of Hampton's past is strong with area Floridians as well as in the legislature.

'This town exists apparently just to write speeding tickets,' Bradley said. 'Most people don't understand why it exists in the first place.'

When Bran Ferren was just 9, his parents took him to see the Pantheon in Rome -- and it changed everything. In that moment, he began to understand how the tools of science and engineering become more powerful when combined with art, with design and beauty. Ever since, he's been searching for a convincing modern-day equivalent to Rome's masterpiece. Stay tuned to the end of the talk for his unexpected suggestion.


Hysterical Humor Site

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Go Igor, Revel !

Pointless Planet

Sample:

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Abortion clinic protest? Koran burning? Kirk Cameron movie?

Fighting Creeping Creationism

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Nothing is scarier than the stupidity a person has to be willing to entertain in themselves than that represented by anti-evolution creationism. The fact that hundredss of American private schools are receiving public tax finding via vouchers is appalling.

Religious fundamentalists backed by the right wing are finding increasingly stealthy ways to challenge evolution with the dogma of creationism. Their strategy includes passing education laws that encourage teaching creationism alongside evolution, and supporting school vouchers to transfer taxpayer money from public to private schools, where they can push a creationist agenda. But they didn't count on 19-year-old anti-creationism activist Zack Kopplin.

From the time he was a high school senior in his home state of Louisiana, Kopplin has been speaking, debating, cornering politicians and winning the active support of 78 Nobel Laureates, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New Orleans City Council, and tens of thousands of students, teachers and others around the country. The Rice University history major joins Bill to talk about fighting the creep of creationist curricula into public school science classes and publicly funded vouchers that end up supporting creationist instruction.


Also on the program, journalist and historian Susan Jacoby talks with Bill about the role secularism and intellectual curiosity have played throughout America's history, a topic explored in her new book, The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.

Chris Matthews responds to Donald Rumsfeld's and Mitt Romney's recent remarks criticizing the president on his foreign policy, and compares them to high school drop-outs who are only trying to disrupt others who are trying to learn

Thrilling Work

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Workers from a Phoenix-based company had an awe-inspiring view as they dangled from ropes to clean the glass at the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

The more than 40 panes of glass underneath the horseshoe-shaped bridge aren't easily accessible. Technicians from Abseilon USA had to hook up a series of ropes before polishing the underside Tuesday.

Click pic to enlarge

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The structure juts out 70 feet from the edge of the Grand Canyon, offering visitors a view of the Colorado River 4,000 feet below.

Abseilon USA Vice President Kenneth Piposar says the company's work also has included rappelling down into the Grand Canyon to retrieve water bottles, hats and other trash.

The Skywalk is at the west end of the Grand Canyon, outside the national park's boundaries.

By Ronnie Polidoro and Alexa Keyes

Women's History Month is coming to a close, a time to reflect on how far women have come in the United States, to appreciate the progress women have made, and to understand the ways in which women continue to lag behind men, even in 2014. Women make up a majority of the U.S. population and represent 59 percent of the college-educated, entry-level workforce, yet they earn lower pay and fill fewer top jobs than men, according to the Center for American Progress.

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How does the United States measure up to other countries? Although the U.S. has reversed the gender gap when it comes to higher education, the country ranks 67th in the world when it comes to wage equality and 60th for women's political empowerment, according to the World Economic Forums' 2013 Gender Gap Index of 136 countries.

Comment du Jour

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re: MSNBC article:


Protesters Rally as Supreme Court Hears Case on Obamacare and Religion

Bart Conner

#15

Hobby Lobby's main supplier are factories in China, a country with one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

Even Hobby Lobby's religious feelings have limits.

Exactly.

Google Enhances Encryption Technology for Email

Google has enhanced the encryption technology for its flagship email service in ways that will make it harder for the National Security Agency to intercept messages moving among the company's worldwide data centers.

Among the most extraordinary disclosures in documents leaked by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden were reports that the NSA had secretly tapped into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.

Google, whose executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said in November that he was outraged over the practice, didn't mention the NSA in Thursday's announcement, except in a veiled reference to "last summer's revelations." The change affects more than 425 million users of Google's Gmail service.

Yahoo has promised similar steps for its email service by this spring.

Google and other technology companies have been outspoken about the U.S. government's spy programs. The companies are worried more people will reduce their online activities if they believe almost everything they do is being monitored by the government. A decline in Internet use could hurt the companies financially by giving them fewer opportunities to show online ads and sell other services.

"Your email is important to you, and making sure it stays safe and always available is important to us," Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail's security engineering lead, wrote in a blog post.

Lidzborski said that all Gmail messages a consumer sends or receives are now encrypted.

A secret Jan. 9, 2013, accounting indicated that NSA sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the NSA's Fort Meade, Md., headquarters, according to documents released by Snowden last year.

Google and other technology companies provide information to the NSA and other government agencies when required by a court order.

"Google is making it tougher for the government to spy on its customers without going through Google," said Chris Soghoian, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

"There are still ways for NSA to spy on the bad guys," Soghoian said. "But this will prevent them from spying on 500 million people at once."

Ed Snowden and the NSA at TED

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Snowdon talks about the issues surrounding his releasing of secret documents.

Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden speaks at TED2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. The right to data privacy, he suggests, is not a partisan issue, but requires a fundamental rethink of the role of the internet in our lives -- and the laws that protect it. "Your rights matter," he says, "because you never know when you're going to need them." Chris Anderson interviews, with special guest Tim Berners-Lee.



After the surprise appearance by Edward Snowden at TED2014, Chris Anderson said: "If the NSA wants to respond, please do." And yes, they did. Appearing by video, NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett answers Anderson's questions about the balance between security and protecting privacy.

Earth: The Operator's Manual is the best presentation of rational perspectives on climate change I have seen yet.

The host, Richard Alley a registered Republican and an American geologist and Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, who through a completely non-partisan lens congenially yet succinctly presents the nature of earth's environment historically and likely arcs into the future.


You can view it aove or on youtube at this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY8GNSi4MsU

or watch the

Hulu version

Cosmic Inflation Theory

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Why get bigger at all?

'Smoking Gun' Reveals How the Inflationary Big Bang Happened

By Alan Boyle

New findings show that the universe underwent a burst of inflation that was seemingly faster than the speed of light in the first instant of its existence, throwing off a storm of exotic gravitational waves in the process.

The evidence comes from the BICEP2 experiment at the South Pole, which captures and analyzes the faint glow left over from the Big Bang. BICEP2's researchers found a subtle twisty pattern in the polarization of that light, which would be characteristic of primordial gravitational waves.

The results support a concept known as inflationary Big Bang theory, and they can be further analyzed to reconstruct how the Big Bang blew up 13.8 billion years ago. Even in advance of Monday's public reveal, physicists were gushing over the implications.

"Other than finding life on other planets or directly detecting dark matter, I can't think of any other plausible near-term astrophysical discovery more important than this one for improving our understanding of the universe," Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carroll said in a pre-announcement blog posting.

MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark wrote that "before long, it will lead to at least one Nobel Prize."

'Smoking gun' for inflation

Stanford physicist Andrei Linde, one of the pioneers of inflationary Big Bang theory, said Monday's revelation was "something I have been hoping to see for 30 years.""These results are a smoking gun for inflation, because alternative theories do not predict such a signal," Linde said in a news release.

MIT physicist Alan Guth, who is credited with articulating the inflation concept in 1980, told The New York Times that he was "bowled over" by the results.

Flash interactive: Beyond the Big Bang

The Rich get Richer...

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on the backs of the poorer.

Fortune 100 Companies Have Received $1.2 Trillion in Corporate Welfare

By Aaron Cantu

Military contractors, oil companies and banks are the biggest 'welfare queens' around.

Crpwlfr.jpgMilitary contractors, oil companies and banks are the biggest 'welfare queens' around.

Most of us are aware that the government gives mountains of cash to powerful corporations in the form of tax breaks, grants, loans and subsidies--what some have called "corporate welfare." However, little has been revealed about exactly how much money Washington is forking over to mega businesses.

Until now.

A new venture called Open the Books, based in Illinois, was founded with a mission to bring transparency to how the federal budget is spent. And what they found is shocking: between 2000 and 2012, the top Fortune 100 companies received $1.2 trillion from the government. That doesn't include all the billions of dollars doled out to housing, auto and banking enterprises in 2008-2009, nor does it include ethanol subsidies to agribusiness or tax breaks for wind turbine makers.

What Open the Book's forthcoming report does reveal is that the most valuable contracts between the government and private firms were for military procrument deals, including Lockheed Martin ($392 billion), General Dynamics ($170 billion), and United Technologies ($73 billion).

After military contractors, $21.8 billion was granted out to corporate recipients in the form of direct subsidies; literally transfers of cash from the pockets of Americans to major corporations. The biggest winners were General Electric (GE) ($380 million), followed by General Motors (GM) ($370 million), Boeing (BA) ($264 million), ADM ($174 million) and United Technologies ($160 million).
$8.5 billion in federally subsidized loans were also doled out to giant oil companies Chevron and Exxon Mobile, and $1 billion went directly to massive agri-business Archer Daniels Midland.

Of course, the banks also got their piece of the pie: $10 billion in federal insurance went to Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, not including any of the 2008 bailout money. Walmart enjoyed its share of federal insurance backing as well.

Thanks to Open the Books, the curtain has been lifted and the whole country can now witness the great suckling of corporate America. As Open the Books founder Adam Andrzejewski put it: "Mitt Romney had it wrong: When it comes to the Fortune 100, it's 99%, not 47%, on some form of the government's gravy train."

Deep Green Power Alternatives

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Ever heard of CCAs? Me neither.

The Breaking of a Power Monopoly: Community Choice?

Pacific Gas & Electric has had a monopoly on the energy needs of the northern two-thirds of California since 1905. But a new state government entity called Community Choice Aggregation promises to turn over most conventional wisdom of who has the power.

by Dina Rasor

PGandEpower.jpgPacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), as an energy utility, has had a monopoly on the energy needs of the northern two-thirds of California since 1905. As an investor-owned power company, it has amassed great wealth, assets and political power over the years. However, there is a new state government entity, called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), that promises to turn over most conventional political wisdom of who has the power.

The first attempt to break PG&E's monopoly came in 1996, when Republican Gov. Pete Wilson pushed through a bill that loosened up the lucrative California energy market to the "Wild West" of a free market with few price regulations in the price of electricity sold to the state's utilities. But it did not remove the restriction and cap on prices of what PG&E could charge to their retail customers for electricity. In 2000, drought and other problems put a strain on the California energy market. The notorious Enron Corporation artificially made the shortage worse by illegally shutting down their energy pipelines from Texas to California and manipulated markets to create an artificial power shortage in California. Enron began selling energy to a strapped PG&E at inflated prices but PG&E, by regulation, still had a regulatory cap restricting it from passing most of these energy costs to its customers. From April to December, energy rates increased an astounding 800 percent. Because PG&E was not able to require its customers to pay for most of this outrageous increase, its cash flow was drained quickly. PG&E was headed toward bankruptcy. The next year saw a series of infamous rolling blackouts, and the state had to step in and buy expensive power on the spot market because PG&E did not have the cash. The public did get stuck with paying for the state's losses through taxes and the cost of PG&E's bankruptcy that increased PG&E's overhead and cost of doing business through higher electric bills. Billions of dollars were lost, with some estimates being as high as $45 billion.

After this ongoing trauma was inflicted on the state, PG&E emerged from bankruptcy with its monopoly intact. Many California communities were growing interested in renewable energy, but PG&E had gotten its rate of renewable energy only to less than 20 percent. In 2002, still smarting from the damage of the artificial market crisis, environmental and consumer groups looked for another way to try to infiltrate part of the PG&E's power empire. This time, California legislators tried another route. They passed a law creating CCA. Communities now have the right to pool the citizens' and businesses' energy use in their cities or counties to purchase power for their aggregate unit. Communities such as cities and counties can also group together to form a larger CCA. CCAs are governmental agencies that generate income, similar to water districts.

How could these communities have their own power agencies compete with a powerful PG&E? To understand it, you need to think about PG&E having two monopolies. One is the ability to buy or make and sell electricity - that is, to sell electrons. The other is the infrastructure needed to deliver those electrons, through power towers and power lines, to your door. It would be ludicrous to think that a CCA could duplicate the infrastructure to deliver the electricity to your house or business. CCAs are just buying and/or generating the electrons. So PG&E still has a monopoly in delivering the electricity but the CCAs now have the ability to use PG&E's power lines to compete and deliver electricity that has a higher percentage of renewable energy and perhaps even at a cheaper rate.

Many cities and counties, such as San Francisco, Marin County, Sonoma County and Berkeley, began to look and see if they could form their own CCAs, generate and buy the power and have a much higher percentage come from renewable sources. Marin County's CCA, called Marin Clean Energy (MCE), ended up being the first one out the door. It was formed in 2008 and it started service in May 2010.

The Empire Strikes Back

My first reaction to the prospect of breaking up the energy monopoly of PG&E was that this investor-owned power giant born in 1905 would not passively sit back and allow these tree-hugging municipalities and counties to pick off some of its lucrative territory. My instincts were right.

On the June 2010 state ballot, a month after MCE had launched its service, PG&E financed the placement and support of California's Proposition 16. California has an extensive system of allowing the public, by turning in petitions, or the Legislature to put propositions on the ballot each time there is a statewide election. The public and special-interest groups are allowed to donate money for or against these propositions, and there has been enormous money in this propositions election process. This proposition would require any state municipality or county to get a supermajority of two-thirds vote from the citizens, rather than a majority from a town council or county supervisors before they could spend funds or efforts to form a CCA. As anyone knows, demanding a supermajority usually kills any initiative in our closely divided country.

The supporters of Prop 16 couched their argument as a taxpayers' rights issue, but it was abundantly clear that PG&E wanted to drown the CCA babies in the bathtub before they had a chance to walk. PG&E spent an astonishing $46 million on the proposition against the less than $100,000 raised by the opponents. The CCAs, by law, were not allowed to get involved in the election because they are government entities, so it was just up to environmental groups to mount a web campaign to defeat this proposition to save any chance of trying the CCA concept.

PG&E ended up with mud on its face when Prop 16 was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent, especially when electric rate payers realized that it had used $46 million of its assets to try to defeat the CCA little guys. It was an amazing win for the CCAs.

With the specter of the supermajority vote banished, MCE launched its service. According to the law, every power customer is automatically enrolled in MCE, but customers have the right to opt out and continue to buy electricity from PG&E and its 20 percent renewable energy. But MCE went one step farther: Fifty percent of MCE's basic service, called Light Green, comes from renewable sources. Customers also can "opt up" for an MCE program called Deep Green, where 100 percent of the energy is renewable.

and giving it to Those People.

That Old-Time Whistle

Paul Krugman

There are many negative things you can say about Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the G.O.P.'s de facto intellectual leader. But you have to admit that he's a very articulate guy, an expert at sounding as if he knows what he's talking about.

So it's comical, in a way, to see Mr. Ryan trying to explain away some recent remarks in which he attributed persistent poverty to a "culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working." He was, he says, simply being "inarticulate." How could anyone suggest that it was a racial dog-whistle? Why, he even cited the work of serious scholars -- people like Charles Murray, most famous for arguing that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. Oh, wait.

Just to be clear, there's no evidence that Mr. Ryan is personally a racist, and his dog-whistle may not even have been deliberate. But it doesn't matter. He said what he said because that's the kind of thing conservatives say to each other all the time. And why do they say such things? Because American conservatism is still, after all these years, largely driven by claims that liberals are taking away your hard-earned money and giving it to Those People.

Indeed, race is the Rosetta Stone that makes sense of many otherwise incomprehensible aspects of U.S. politics.

We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare. How can this contradiction be explained? Well, what do many Medicaid recipients look like -- and I'm talking about the color of their skin, not the content of their character -- and how does that compare with the typical Medicare beneficiary? Mystery solved.

Or we're told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it's hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees. Instead, all the movement's passion, starting with Rick Santelli's famous rant on CNBC, has been directed against any hint of financial relief for low-income borrowers. And what is it about these borrowers that makes them such targets of ire? You know the answer.