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Survivor of Obama's first drone war crime: "What he has an act of tyranny"

Posted on: Sat, 01/23/2016 - 23:16 By: Tom Swiss

Why do they hate us? Oh yeah, because we kill and maim them.

Victim of Obama's first drone strike: 'I am the living example of what drones are' (the Guardian)

It took nearly 40 days for Qureshi to emerge from a series of hospitals, all of which he spent in darkness. Shrapnel had punctured his stomach. Lacerations covered much of his upper body. Doctors operated on the entire left side of his body, which had sustained burns, and used laser surgery to repair his right eye. They could not save his left.

Kasich rising in NH

Posted on: Tue, 01/19/2016 - 21:49 By: Tom Swiss

I have to admit I'd counted Kasich out. But if he manages even a second place finish in New Hampshire he could still have a shot.

Poll shows Kasich rising in New Hampshire (TheHill)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is gaining ground in New Hampshire.

Kasich garners 20 percent support in the American Research Group (ARG) poll of the state released Tuesday, second only to Donald Trump’s 27 percent.

Marco Rubio follows Kasich, with 10 percent. Chris Christie and Ted Cruz are tied for fourth with 9 percent, and Jeb Bush has 8 percent.

Kasich’s total is a big jump from the previous edition of the poll a week earlier, when he had 14 percent support.

National Reconnaissance Office serves Cthulu?

Posted on: Tue, 01/19/2016 - 13:12 By: Tom Swiss

A giant tentacled beast grips the earth. An illustration from a Lovecraft story about the Elder Gods? No, a mission logo from the secretive National Reconnaissance Office.

"A little sinister!!" The story behind National Reconnaissance Office's octopus logo (MuckRock)

When the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced the upcoming launch of their NROL-39 mission back in December 2013, they didn't get quite the response they had hoped for ...

That might have had something to do with the mission logo being a gigantic octopus devouring the Earth.


The 15-page file clears up a lot of questions surrounding the logo approval process - rather than simply being somebody's bad idea that just didn't get squashed, it turns out the octopus had made it across many, many desks before that final OK.

...[A]n article for what appeared to be the ODNI's internal magazine reveals the "secret origin" of the octopus, which has less to do with an admiration of mollusca and more with a faulty component called an "octopus harness."

That article draws from a speech made by the Mission Manager - a full transcription of his remarks are included in the file, and they expand upon NRO's capabilities with a charming obliviousness to just how terrifying all this sounds.

Sanders tied with Clinton in Iowa; if he takes it Dems have a real race

Posted on: Thu, 01/14/2016 - 09:17 By: Tom Swiss

Everyone expected Sanders to beat Clinton in New Hampshire, New England is his home turf. But if he takes Iowa too, that's a gutpunch to the Clinton campaign. The two latest polls have the Democratic race there a tie: this one has him slightly up, a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll has him slightly down, both within the margin of error.

Clinton is up in the next two races, Nevada and South Carolina. But if the first four Democratic primaries break out as two for Sanders and two for Clinton, it smashes the DNC/HRC narrative and the Democrats may have a chance of avoiding the doom of a Clinton candidacy. But if it's 3-1 Clinton she'll probably take the nomination, and we'll have a President Rubio or President Cruz to look forward to. If, somehow, Sanders takes Iowa and then parlays that into a further victory in either Nevada or South Carolina and takes three of the first four primaries, Clinton can start planning her concession and retirement, but that's an unlikely scenario -- though some are seeing Nevada as in play.

Sanders Takes Slim Lead Over Clinton in New Iowa Poll (ABC News)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has climbed to a slim lead over national frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a new Iowa poll.

With just 20 days remaining until the first-in-the-nation caucus, a Quinnipiac University poll released today shows Sanders leading Clinton for the first time in the Hawkeye State with 49 percent support -- his highest support in any Iowa poll yet. Clinton garnered 44 percent support.

That's a 9 percentage point increase for Sanders and a 7-point drop for Clinton since the last Quinnipiac poll in Iowa almost one month ago.

Sanders' lead, which is still barely within the margin of error, is bolstered by a broad gender gap...

Why "Of Oz The Wizard" is a Discordian masterpiece

Posted on: Fri, 01/08/2016 - 19:06 By: Tom Swiss

I don't know what inspired Matt Bucy to take The Wizard of Oz and remix so that every bit of dialog is in alphabetical order. But in so doing he's given a brilliant illustration of one of the core tenet of Discordianism, the "Law of Eristic Escalation": Imposition of Order = escalation of Disorder.

By imposing an order on The Wizard of Oz that does not arise naturally from the work, Bucy has created beautiful chaos. Hail Eris!

Some Madman Edited The Wizard Of Oz To Be In Alphabetical Order, And I Can’t Look Away (

Sometimes you have to just sit back and appreciate the internet in all of its ludicrous glory. Sure, there will be some of you that think the decision by a deranged editor to slice together all of the dialogue from The Wizard Of Oz in alphabetical order is a giant waste of time, when it actually it should be celebrated for being so hugely superfluous but still finding an audience on the world wide web. The result is also oddly hypnotic. Especially when it gets to actual words....

You can still send telegrams stop How cool is that stop

Posted on: Mon, 01/04/2016 - 14:00 By: Tom Swiss

I guess most of us thought the telegram died when Western Union shut down their service. But it lives! Now I shall be looking for an excuse to send one.

Technology You Didn't Know Still Existed: The Telegram (Atlas Obscura)

But a handful of companies are carrying on the tradition. Principal amongst them is the International Telegram Company who inherited and still operate Western Union’s former telex and cablegram network. They are well aware of their own anachronism: “Most people are pretty surprised to learn that telegrams still exist, and in fact are still pretty widely used in some parts of the world,” says Colin Stone, Director of Operations. Overall, he says that about 20 million telegrams are still delivered every year.

...[W]hen it comes to urgent hand-delivered messages, the telegram is still the gold standard. “People use them for canceling contracts and sending legal notifications because a copy of the message is retained in our files for 7 years and can be legally verified,” explains Stone. Everything from legal notices to social correspondence for births, funerals and weddings are being routinely sent by telegrams. In the U.S., Stone says that people still send telegrams for a simple reason, echoing the famous quote about why humans climb Mount Everest—"because they can."

A sympathetic backgrounder on the Malheur NWR protest

Posted on: Sun, 01/03/2016 - 13:00 By: Tom Swiss

I have near zero sympathy for ranchers; their business is built on exploiting public land -- land that belongs to all of us, not just to residents of one state. It's built on externalizing costs and is incompatible with ecological sustainability. Animal agriculture is going to have to go extinct the same way coal mining is, that's just the fact.

And this backgrounder is from an obviously far-right web site, take the details with salt. And the comments section is the usual hive of scum and villainy.

On the other hand, even when people's way of making a living is destructive to the ecosystem, you can't take it away without transitional plans. And I have little tolerance for overreach by federal bureaucracies or for the constant aggressive expansion of federal power into the lives of citizens. Once you understand the evils of our national drug policy -- and I mean "evils" quite literally, there are few things in this world to which that term is more accurately applied -- you never look at government power and criminal justice the same way again.

The very important takeaway here is this: two men, almost certainly over-charged as is the standard federal practice these days, already did their time as convicted and sentenced. The feds, in apparent violation of the double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment clauses, have decided they need to be put back in jail for more time on those same charges.

That authoritarian overreach justifies some disruptive protesting, so long as no aggressive violence is used. It is of a piece with broader concerns about criminal justice reform. It's a shame that just as this far-right website doesn't grasp that, and has a whole section dedicated to slandering and vilifying African-American victims of state violence, many progressives and folks on what's left of the American left will not get the point either.

Full Story on What's Going on In Oregon - Militia Take Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge In Protest to Hammond Family Persecution... (The Last Refuge)

By the 1970’s nearly all the ranches adjacent to the Blitzen Valley were purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and added to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge covers over 187,000 acres and stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide. The expansion of the refuge grew and surrounds to the Hammond’s ranch. Being approached many times by the FWS, the Hammonds refused to sell. Other ranchers also choose not to sell.


(a4) By the 1990’s the Hammonds were one of the very few ranchers that still owned private property adjacent to the refuge....

Man robs bank to get healthcare in jail
Tom Swiss Fri, 01/01/2016 - 11:51

This is the low our healthcare system and social safety net have reached: a man finds himself so desperate for care he throws away his freedom and risks his life (he could easily have been shot) to get behind bars where he can get his basic survival needs met.

Old man wanted more than money in Branson bank robbery (Springfield News-Leader)

Cyrus turned himself in to police a few days after the robbery and pleaded guilty on Nov. 10.

Cyrus gave an emotional speech in the courtroom after pleading guilty, saying he has bad feet and is losing his hearing. He told the judge he recently lost his job and was turned away by a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Cyrus said he woke up the morning of the robbery in his trailer at the Yacht Club Mobile Home Park in Hollister with roaches crawling all over his body.


Two hours later, Cyrus paid his rent in cash, put a "for sale" sign in his truck and left town. He would later come back to Branson and turn himself in.


Hendricks said he could only think of one explanation when he heard Cyrus had been arrested for robbing a bank.

"The very first instinct that I got after he did it is that he wants to get popped so that he can go to jail, because the jail will take care of him," Hendricks said. "It makes you wonder what's wrong with our system."

1950s US plans to nuke Soviet civilians revealed

Posted on: Wed, 12/23/2015 - 12:43 By: Tom Swiss

As an 80s kid, I grew up with the possibility of nuclear armageddon in thirty minutes or less always in the background, but my parents generation had to possibility of a version that might take hours or days to play out via bomber. And both our generations grew up with the idea that the USSR was paranoid and aggressive, that the US was just responding to the Soviet wasn't until later that I figured out that it was mostly the other way around. (Times Russian or Soviet troops have invaded the US: 0. Times US troops have invaded Russia: 1. Nuclear attacks by USSR to intimate US: 0. Nuclear attacks by US to intimate USSR: 2.)

1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight (

For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States’ potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China.

It lists many targets for “systematic destruction” in major cities, including 179 in Moscow (like “Agricultural Equipment” and “Transformers, Heavy”), 145 in Leningrad and 91 in East Berlin. The targets are referred to as DGZs or “designated ground zeros.” While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated “Population.”

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