Well, it's been a nice quiet Christmas. Not that we've been burning the candle at both ends for awhile. Christmas Eve we had our friend Linda over for dinner: Dungeness crabs, sourdough bread and lemon butter, with a nice wine. Joanie's daughter Lindsay had to work last night (she's an EMT) but she was able to come over and dig into the crab before she went on duty.
Today Joan took Lindsay to the airport early, then we had coffee and did presents. There's something going around Facebook, My Christmas list keeps getting shorter because what I want can't be bought. Well, that's true, but I've pretty much got everything I want, and that includes things you can't buy. We had a nice peaceful morning only interrupted by Gilbert's occasional snores.
We went out driving around Portland. We drove through The Pearl and the shopping district along 23rd Street over on the west side of town. It's probably the only day of the year you could find parking there. Absolutely empty, everything closed. We eventually headed over to 82nd Street back on our side of the Willamette and looked for someplace to have lunch. We ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant which was packed. It took an hour for us to get our food, but it was very good.
Then we came back, walked the dogs up and down the block and said Merry Christmas to the neighbors.
"It is the earliest site of elephant butchery in Britain," Dr. Francis Wenban-Smith, site leader and principal research fellow at the University of Southampton, told the BBC at the time.
Wenban-Smith recently told The Huffington Post that the discovery continues to be "massively important for our understanding of what early hominins were doing, and how they were able to colonize new terrain." His post-excavation analysis provides new information about the elephant and the estimated 80 flint tools that were used to cut it into pieces some 420,000 years ago.
"Some tools for its butchery were made on the spot, but others were brought to the carcass having been made elsewhere," Wenbam-Smith said. "This suggests that early humans first exploited it for meat shortly after its death, but that they then returned to it on subsequent occasions ready-equipped, indicating forward planning."
The elephant in question was much larger than today's African elephants, according to a statement issued by the University of Southampton. If early humans did learn how to hunt and eat animals like the Palaeoloxodon antiquus, it could help explain a resurgence of the Homo heidelbergensis species in northern Europe about 400,000 years ago, the statement said.
"It's so rare to find undisturbed remains of any sort from this period," Wenbam-Smith said. "This new evidence confirms the importance of elephant in their diet. Large herbivores such as this provided vitamins and nutrients that would have been vital to survival. It may therefore have been the ability to hunt elephants and other large herbivores that allowed colonization of new territory in aftermath of ice ages."
When you realize that the CIA (and NSA and FBI) are not under the power of the President or Congress, then you will begin to understand how things work.
Enraged by the lies and spin offered in response to recent disclosures of massive domestic spying, former NSA official Russell Tice blows his whistle again in this exclusive Boiling Frogs interview, co-hosted with Sibel Edmonds. Please share this podcast widely, and download it to ensure that it doesn’t somehow disappear.Tice makes numerous stunning disclosures in this interview, partly in reaction to the misleading statements from Obama, NSA chief Alexander, FBI boss Mueller and Congressional leaders who defend the programs that were confirmed by the recent leaks from Ed Snowden.
Tice is deeply concerned that his former agency has gone “rogue”, that Gen. Keith Alexander wields the power to blackmail as J. Edgar Hoover once did, and that hundreds of key people in government, the courts, business and political activism have been targeted for wiretapping and other surveillance. He names names.
He responds to the unsigned FISA Court ruling against Yahoo that dismissed 4th amendment issues and asserted that there have been no abuses. Tice knows of real abuses, and tells quite a bit.
We talk about cyberwarfare, and the NSA’s ability to originate cyber attacks but make it look like they came from China or Iran. Tice declines to comment on PRISM, as he considers it a lawful foreign intel program, but has plenty to say about the collection of phone records and the collection and retention of all of our phone calls.
Tice explains in detail how the National Security Agency targets, sucks-in, stores and analyzes illegally obtained content from the masses in the United States. He contradicts officials and the mainstream media on the status of the NSA’s Utah facility, which is already operating and “On-Line.” He reveals the NSA as a Deep State that targets and wiretaps US political candidates for its own purposes.
For decades now, I’ve seen the aftermath of botched drug raids; early morning mayhem in which police, using mauls and wearing body armor, smash through the front doors of ghetto homes, guns drawn, shouting for sleeping residents to drop to the ground. I’ve seen raids of sixteen or eighteen addresses come up empty for drugs and weapons at more than half of those locations. And of course, I’ve seen raiding officers drop a copy of the signed, documented and perfectly legal probable cause on the rowhouse floor, gather equipment, and walk out of homes from which they recovered no evidence of criminality.
“Are you gonna fix my door?” is always a stunned resident’s first question.
“You need to call the city for that,” is always the ready, ambiguous reply.
What poor and working-class communities routinely endure within the very constitutional construct of our drug war makes the wails of indignation over this NSA data-mining astonishing and embarrassing to me. And no, before you get wound up prematurely and choose the too-easy, I-didn’t-read-deep-enough argument, I am not saying that overreach in other realms of the criminal justice system justifies overreach anywhere else.
After all, no one is suggesting that we do away with court-approved search warrants for domestic crime suppression. Or dialed-numbered recorders. Or interrogation rooms. Or informants. Or just about any other law enforcement asset that can be used properly and misused egregiously. Oh, more people are now complaining about the excesses of the drug war, to be sure. But all of us understand that the existing legal weapons and strategies are there for all crimes — for murder, for rape, for robbery, for burglary. Hell, if a crew of detectives were pulling cell numbers off a tower to identify and arrest a rampaging serial rapist — and traipsing through the phone metadata of ten thousand other citizens to do it — we’d do more than applaud; we’d buy the film rights. We are comfortable with a certain level of intrusion involving all previous weapons of law enforcement, and even the use of phone metadata as it can be utilized. Why, I wonder. And why has this particular law enforcement intervention– no less legal as it was proposed to the FISA court — engaged the worst fears of many.
I'm curious how average Republicans are taking Obama's budget. He's offering "chained CPI" which is a way to slowly starve old folks and vets, as opposed to the Republican meatcleaver approach, which would work a lot faster. And yet I am sure that the typical Republican voter, while knowing about the "chained CPI", somehow has overlooked the Republicans' plans for granny.
Granted, this time around McConnell and company have stuck to vague terms, but suffice it to say that ol' Mitch thinks that Obama's offer isn't enough and that no one's raising any taxes on the wealthy.
It's the progressives and liberals who are fighting Obama over any Social Security cuts. Already it's been announced that any Democrat who votes for cutting Social Security will be primaried. Amazing the silence of the lambs on the right, though.
I wonder what kind of compass a Republican uses to continually misread the political turf. By the way, anyone who proposes to cut Social Security is not liberal, and certainly not a socialist.
So the Obama budget is out, Social Security cuts and all. Why is this happening?
Well, it’s all about the positioning. Ezra Klein gets at what I hear from the WH too (and what’s obvious in any case):
Today’s budget is the White House’s effort to reach the bedrock of the fiscal debate. Half of its purpose is showing what they’re willing to do. They want a budget compromise, and this budget proves it. There are now liberals protesting on the White House lawn. But the other half is revealing what the GOP is — or, more to the point, isn’t — willing to do. Republicans don’t want a budget compromise, and this budget is likely to prove that, too.
The question is, to whom are these things being “proved”?
Since the beginning, the Obama administration has seemed eager to gain the approval of the grownups — the sensible people who will reward efforts to be Serious, and eventually turn on those nasty, intransigent Republicans as long as Obama and co. don’t cater too much to the hippies.This is the latest, biggest version of that strategy. Unfortunately, it will almost surely fail. Why? Because there are no grownups — only people who try to sound like grownups, but are actually every bit as childish as anyone else.
After all, if whoever it is that Obama is trying to appeal to here — I guess it’s the Washington Post editorial page and various other self-proclaimed “centrist” pundits — were willing to admit the fundamental asymmetry in our political debate, willing to admit that if DC is broken, it’s because of GOP radicalism, they would have done it long ago. It’s not as if this reality was hard to see.
But the truth is that the “centrists” aren’t sincere. Calls for centrism and bipartisanship aren’t actual demands for specific policies — they’re an act, a posture these people take to make themselves seem noble and superior. And that posture requires blaming both parties equally, no matter what they do or propose. Obama’s budget will garner faint praise at best, quickly followed by denunciations of the president for not supplying the Leadership (TM) to make Republicans compromise — which means that he’s just as much at fault as they are, see?
So let’s nominate Michael Bloomberg, who will offer the exact same policies but, you know, really mean it (and supply Leadership (TM)).
No, seriously (but not Seriously): who do you think could possibly be persuaded by this budget who hasn’t already been persuaded?
In this case, it's Rand Paul and and his "Personhood At Conception Act".
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Friday introduced so-called “fetal personhood” legislation that would completely outlaw abortion in the United States.
The Life at Conception Act would declare that human life began at conception, providing fertilized eggs with the same legal status as born persons.
“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward,” Paul said in a statement. “ The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress.”
In a fundraising video for the National Pro-Life Alliance last year, the Republican senator explained that the bill would outlaw abortion without contradicting the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Citing the ruling, Paul claimed Congress had the power to define when human life began under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
“The Court then admitted that if the personhood of an unborn baby is established, the right to abort ‘collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the  Amendment,’” he said.
Pro-life activists have pushed to amend the constitutions of several states with “fetal personhood” language, but have so far been rejected by voters.
Have you seen little sperms? They're alive. They wiggle and swim and either get to the egg or they die. You can't die unless you are alive.
As are the little eggs. They're not dead. At least not until they die.
So what's this fine demarcation between life and death? An overwhelming majority of fertilized eggs are naturally aborted, most before a woman even knows she's pregnant. That would be about 75%. That would make God the Great Abortionist In The Sky.
It's particularly Senator Paul wants to grant personhood to every fertilized egg. First, that's not when life starts. Second, most fertilized eggs die naturally before anyone knows of the pregnancy. And a fertilized egg is a part of the pregnant woman, not a separate person.
I realize these arguments have zero affect on the right-wing religious zealots, despite no specific Biblical definition. And it's particularly embarrassing that someone who claims to a libertarian, who is supposed to support keeping government out of its citizens' lives, would support such an incredibly intrusive and stupid policy. At best, it's a political ploy.
However, this is a great way for Republicans to alienate even more women. Perhaps at some point they'll get the message. But then if Republicans didn't have these ridiculous things to distract the hoi polloi from the continuous plundering the Republicans wage on the bottom ninety-nine percent then they'd lose everyone.
A group of like-minded patriots, bound together by pride in American exceptionalism, plan on building an armed community to protect their liberty.
The group, named Citadel, intends to purchase 2,000 to 3,000 acres for the project in western Idaho. The community will comprise of 3,500 to 7,000 families of patriotic Americans who "voluntarily choose to live together in accordance with Thomas Jefferson's ideal of Rightful Liberty."
According to the Citadel website, Rightful Liberty means that "neighbors keep their noses out of other neighbors' business, that neighbors live and let live."
Citadel explains that residents in the community will be bound by the following:
Patriotism Pride in American Exceptionalism Our proud history of Liberty as defined by our Founding Fathers, and Physical preparedness to survive and prevail in the face of natural catastrophes --such as Hurricanes Sandy or Katrina -- or man-made catastrophes such as a power grid failure or economic collapse.