Posted by: maboulette | July 28, 2014



German astronaut Alexander Gerst is midway through his six-month stay aboard the International Space Station. Gerst has tweeted a number of stunning images of the ISS, as well as of Earth as seen from space.
The image he posted on Wednesday was by far his most retweeted photo, and its subject was grim.
Captioned “My saddest photo yet,” the image shows an aerial view of Israel and Gaza, where ongoing tensions have turned deadly in recent weeks.


He adds, “From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel.” The photo has been retweeted more than 27,000 times. Web viewers have also stepped in to provide context for the photo.
Redditors overlaid maps and text noting the boundaries and cities involved in the conflict. One disputed the idea that anyone could see rockets or explosions from space, much less the photo. He surmised that the lights were more likely flares used to brighten dark areas in Gaza. Regardless of whether the photo was lit up with explosions or flares, Gerst captured the conflict from a rarely seen perspective.

Posted by: maboulette | July 26, 2014


This is what is new and has my attention!


ASSOCIATED PRESS – WYOMING For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America’s most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming is 85 feet deep and almost impossible to see until you’re standing right next to it. Over tens of thousands of years, many, many animals — including now-extinct mammoths, short-faced bears, American lions and American cheetahs — shared the misfortune of not noticing the 15-foot-wide opening until they were plunging to their deaths.

Now, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is preparing to reopen a metal grate over the opening to offer scientists what may be their best look yet at the variety of critters that roamed the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains during the planet’s last glacial period around 25,000 years ago.


Cave entranous

Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen said she has been getting ready to lead the international team of a dozen researchers and assistants by hitting the climbing gym.

The cave is perpetually cold and clammy, with temperatures in the mid-40s and humidity around 98 percent. Even Bureau of Land Management regional paleontologist Brent Breithaupt, who isn’t one to get the willies from lots of animal bones, describes it as a tad creepy.

Some mammal remains from the cave could be over 100,000 years old, Breithaupt said.

The remote site is exceptionally well preserved. It’s far too challenging and dangerous to have been trammeled in by casual spelunkers. The Bureau of Land Management installed the grate to keep people and animals out in the 1970s.

A mound of dirt and rock containing layer upon layer of animal bones rises from the floor of the 120-foot-wide, bell-shaped chamber. Meachen hopes the remains are sufficiently preserved in the cold, sheltered environment to contain snippets of genetic information.

Starting Monday, scientists plan to re-explore the cavern, dig and extract as many fossils over a two-week period as possible. The researchers will dig by lights powered by a generator at the surface.

Posted by: maboulette | July 14, 2014


This has been the week to kill the Republican myth that Obamacare isn’t really getting the uninsured covered, that the law is failing in its primary mission. So much for that. There was the Urban Institute: “Number of Uninsured Adults Continues to Fall under the ACA: Down by 8.0 Million in June 4th 2014


Then the Commonwealth Fund:
The uninsured rate for people ages 19 to 64 declined from 20 percent in the July-to-September 2013 period to 15 percent in the April-to-June 2014 period. An estimated 9.5 million fewer adults were uninsured.


And Gallup:
The uninsured rate in the U.S. fell 2.2 percentage points to 13.4% in the second quarter of 2014. This is the lowest quarterly average recorded since Gallup and Healthways began tracking the percentage of uninsured Americans in 2008.


Using a survey fielded by the RAND American Life Panel, we estimate a net gain of 9.3 million in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014. […] [T]he survey estimates that the share of uninsured American adults has dropped over the measured period from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent.


Add to that last month’s finding by the Kaiser Family Foundation that 57 percent of the people with Obamacare had previously been uninsured, and you’ve got a very dead Republican talking point.


Posted by: maboulette | June 25, 2014




When you’re Tiger Woods, few doors get closed when you show up, and that theme seems to continue on through the White House.

Woods, who returns to the PGA Tour this week after back surgery that has kept him away from the sport since early March, was asked about his trips to the White House as he and the rest of the Presidents Cup team will be visiting the most famous house in America on Tuesday afternoon, and gave this funny story about a trip to the Oval Office.

“I’ve been (to the White House) several — yeah, several times. It’s always an interesting experience. There’s umpteen security. There’s obviously cameras where you don’t know there’s cameras, and everything’s so well lit. I got a chance to go in the Oval Office and that was a pretty neat experience. I remember talking to President Obama, and he wanted to talk a little bit about some golf and blah, blah, blah, and we started talking about sports. And I see these other guys in the other room, and they are immaculately dressed. And I said, you know, Mr. President, I think I’d better go. He says, “Okay, well, I’d like you to meet my Joint Chiefs.” I’m like, oh, my God. I felt awful that I’m holding up a Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting because he wanted to talk sports (laughter).”

We all know that Obama loves his sports, with his obsession with golf and his fun with the Miami Heat and even his first pitches at MLB games, but this story was pretty epic.
The President was holding up a meeting with the most influential uniformed leaders in this country to talk pars and birdies with Tiger Woods? I’m sure some political talking heads are going to have some fun with that one!

My only hope is that Woods gave him a few tips on that golf swing of his, because it can sure use it!


Posted by: maboulette | June 19, 2014



No one can argue that Pope Francis deserves a little break. Since taking office in March 2013, the 77-year-old Argentinian has been on the move almost nonstop greeting his adoring public and reforming the Vatican’s many troubled institutions

But an announcement by the Vatican’s news service on Monday that the pope will be drastically curtailing his schedule by suspending his popular Wednesday audiences in July and skipping his daily mass at the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives, has many in Rome wondering if the pope is really ok.

The worries began last week, when the pope spontaneously cancelled his Monday and Tuesday engagements after his historic trip to the Holy Land and Peace prayer with leaders from Israel and Palestine, sending the Vatican press corps in Rome had a minor moment of panic. This week’s announcement of his amended schedule has only added to the speculation that the pope’s health is suffering.

Francis, who only has one functioning lung after having part of his other lung removed due to an infection when he was younger, has been noticeably tired in recent weeks. “Close observers are noting that the Pope’s physical body may be failing to keep up with his youthful energy and vigor, especially considering he only has one fully functioning lung,” says Pentin.

By some estimates, Francis has gained as much as 20 pounds since taking office, likely because his physical activity has diminished, even though his scheduled has intensified. “His repeated fatigue reports and weight gain suggest he may be slipping into a form of chronic heart failure common among victims of significant lung disorders,” Dr. Peter Hibberd told Newsmax. “His immunity will be challenged when under stress, and more frequent pauses to recover from otherwise small insults—such as colds, sore throats, and minor injuries—can be expected to increase in the future unless he paces himself.”


Posted by: maboulette | June 16, 2014



Future king of Great Britain – its Prince George at a Father’s Day Polo Match – they forgot to tell who won the polo match!

Posted by: maboulette | June 16, 2014




Iraq is being overrun with jihadists. What did we expect, that we’d go in there get rid of Saddam and fix the country and the entire Middle East? Well, yes, we did. It occurred to no one that the minute we left there would the Shiites and Sunnis, who’ve been fighting for centuries, would continue killing each other? It was a safer country under Saddam Hussein.

ISIS militants already control Fallujah, a city that American Marines took in 2004 in what was the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War. Now, with both Mosul and Fallujah under their control, nearly half of Iraq is in the grips of a group that is a formal affiliate of a terrorist group.
Equally troubling are the circumstances under which the city fell. Iraqi security personnel simply abandoned their posts, according to reports.

This is problematic for a host of reasons. First, it shows that the American-trained Iraqi military is not adequate. Second, Iraqi soldiers left their weapons behind – giving ISIS a huge cache of equipment.

But the most disturbing aspect of the desertion is what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki proposed to replace the missing troops. In an address to the nation Tuesday, he called on Iraqi citizens to take up arms against ISIS in an attempt to retake the city.


Posted by: maboulette | June 15, 2014


On this day in 1958 my father died. I was 10 years old. Three days later my mother and I buried my father. I have never written much about my Dad and I am not sure why – so today I would like to honor my father – Capt. Reginald Martin George, USMC Ret.

Most everything in my father’s life began and ended with the Marine Corp. He ran away when he was 17 to join the Corp but the Marines had to get my grandmother’s permission. Surprise, Surprise – my grandmother said yes! So at the age of 17 my father pledged his life to the Corp.

Dad served in WWII and the Korean War and every Marine Base in the States and before I was the age of 10, we had moved 7 times. While in Korea his health got bad and the Marine Corp retired him. He had been in the Marines for 23 years and my father was lost after that. My mother always said that he really died the day the Marine Corp retired him.

Dad was 6 foot tall with the deepest blue eyes and had the nickname of Tex while in the Marines. He was devoted to the Marine Corp, my mother, his mother and me – in that order I think. Every Sunday when he was home we drove to Brownwood to visit my grandmother. After his death, every Sunday my mother and I would visit my grandmother and the cemetery where Dad was buried.

My father and I did everything together when he was home – he would always take me to the movies, bowling, or we would fly kites together. When I was about 8 years old, I got mad about something and said I was going to run away so Dad packed my bag and put it and me on the front porch and locked the door. I thought he was serious so I sat on the swing on the front porch and cried until it got dark and Dad opened the door and carried me and my bag back in the house. Mother told me later that Dad stayed right by the front room window to make sure I was ok.

I loved my father just like every little girl does – he was my hero, my friend and the funniest person in our family.And he was a devoted Marine. Almost every day since that Father’s Day in 1958, my life has seemed only half full.


So, to my father every Marine salutes you – Happy Father’s Day Tex – you are still remembered!


Although many conservatives are becoming desperate to distance themselves – and their party – from the “repeal or replace” war they have waged on the Affordable Care Act, several Republican candidates running in 2014 have proven unwilling or unable to cut the cord.
With Election Day just months away, many GOP candidates now find themselves on the defensive, as hopes of repealing the law slowly die, and they struggle to introduce their own “replace” plans.
Read on to learn which six Republicans cannot actually explain what “replacing” Obamacare would entail, but are nonetheless vowing to do so.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a longtime foe of Obamacare, which he described in the past as a “reform that denies, delays or rations health care.”
As an alternative, McConnell says, “What I would have done instead is first of all tear down the walls, the 50 separate silos in which health insurance is controlled, and pit all the health insurance companies against each other in a national competitive market. Competition almost always works to keep prices down and quality up.”
As The Washington Post points out, this simple idea already has holes: Namely, the hundreds of thousands of Kentucky residents who cannot afford to buy health insurance, and depend on Medicaid. Approximately 300,000 Kentuckians have obtained coverage through the state’s Medicaid expansion, and an additional 300,000 residents are not yet covered.
To deal with this issue, McConnell suggests allowing Kentucky to keep expanded Medicaid up to 133 percent of cost if it is what residents want. Of course, the senator did not elaborate on how Kentucky would pay for that expansion without the Affordable Care Act (the bill would run approximately $584 million per year). He also did not acknowledge that his “replacement” model is more of a pick-and-choose repeal effort.
A staunch opponent of Obamacare, freshman U.S. representative Tom Cotton (R-AR) maintains that he wants “every Arkansan” and “every American” to have “quality, affordable access to health care.”

However, when asked to actually specify an alternative to Obamacare that would ensure this, Cotton did the usual GOP dance. “Once we repeal Obamacare, Arkansas, like every state, will address its own needs, hopefully with a Medicaid system that has been returned to them and lets them address their needs for the entire state,” he answered.
Cotton also refused to take a stance on Arkansas’ “private option” plan — which uses Medicaid funds to purchase health insurance for low-income residents – calling it a “state-based issue.” Meanwhile, he failed to acknowledge that the private option — which has allowed 100,000 Arkansas residents to obtain coverage, and is expected to help an additional 100,000 do the same — exists only if Obamacare does, too.



New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown – who, as a Massachusetts state senator, helped pass the “Romneycare” law on which the Affordable Care Act is largely based – despises Obamacare and wants it fully repealed. According to Brown, the Affordable Care Act is the “biggest issue in New Hampshire,” which is now asking for federal approval to implement its own private option alternative to Medicaid expansion that would use Obamacare funds to provide 50,000 poor residents with private health insurance. He is shy about elaborating on an alternative plan, however.
“I’m not going to get into any particulars,” he told reporters in May. “I know you want the details on a plan, but I think I’ve made a general concept as to what has been done.” Oddly, the only thing Brown has made clear is that if he could fully repeal Obamacare, he would still want to ensure that beneficiaries get “grandfathered in,” so they do not lose coverage. Brown has still not explained how that could work.
“The fact remains that Obamacare is driving up costs, causing people to lose their doctors and their plans, and it’s cutting Medicare,” Republican Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land (MI) said in a press call marking the four-year anniversary of the president’s signing of the Affordable Care Act in March.
Still, Land — who supports a full repeal of the law — has not introduced an alternative to the reform. Nor has she taken a stance on Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, through which 270,000 low-income people — half of the 477,000 uninsured and eligible residents — have already gained coverage. Land only says that she “applauds” Michigan Governor Rick Snyder – who is opting to expand Medicaid in the state — for “doing what he believes is best for michigan families, while complying with mandates from congress brought down in obamacare.”


Representative Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) senatorial campaign wants very little to do with the Affordable Care Act, which she acknowledges will be probably not be repealed despite her own wishes.
Yet, she still finds the law flawed and argues that “there are changes that need to be made,” and “we’ve got to reform it and make it work for children, families, and businesses.”
However, Capito has not elaborated on these “changes” or “reforms.” She also ignores the fact that West Virginia’s rate of Medicaid enrollments is second in the United States since it expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act, and she refuses to answer whether or not the state should continue with the expansion.
North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican candidate for Senate in North Carolina — where the fight for Medicaid expansion continues — wants a full repeal of Obamacare, but does not have his own replacement plan.
When asked if he agrees with Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) alternative plan – which does not involve a full repeal of the ACA – Tillis answered that the “outline” is worthy of consideration, but refused to give a firm answer.
Tillis’ own vision is similarly vague and again turns into just old Obamacare-bashing rhetoric. “I think there’s a lot of things we can do if we focus on a systematic approach to eliminating the bad,” he said in February. “Let’s focus on the [safety] net problem versus a policy that’s creating as many problems as it fixes in terms of health care, and then it’s also creating the most devastating problem of a deficit and debt that we can’t afford.”




Posted by: maboulette | June 8, 2014


The events with Bowe Bergdahl have shown beyond any doubt – if anyone has any doubt – is that the Republican right will junk just about any basic American value to satisfy its hatred of our President Barack Obama.  Due process, fair play, respect for families and the military, to most if not all so-called conservatives, none of these fundamentals matters nearly as much as the urge to undermine our nation’s first black president.  This is another reason, among many, why they no longer deserve the honorific “conservative.”

In the matter of Bergdahl, a member of the military held by the enemy in Afghanistan and released in a trade of prisoners, the right-wing fakers who call themselves conservative are trashing ideals that they routinely claim to hold sacred.

The military code of conduct that America has always upheld the assured that all service personnel that if captured by the enemy, “you must rest assured that your government…will use every practical means to contact, support and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war.” Leaving aside the moral imperative that is the very foundation of this policy, which predates the current military code by centuries, it is a simple military necessity.

Support the troops?  The morale of our men and women who are fighting would be severely damaged if they came to believe that the government would not do everything in its power to bring them home from captivity –regardless of any questions about their conduct.

The commitment of our nation to rescue American captives extends beyond those in uniform but also to any citizen who has been seized or kidnapped by any hostile force.  That was also the excuse when the president most members of the right celebrate – Ronald Reagan – handed over weapons that were advanced to a terrorist regime in the Iran-contra deal.  It is a commonplace observation that if a Democratic president had committed the same offenses, he and his cohorts would have been denounced for treason and perhaps rightly so.  But while the Republicans want to impeach Obama for releasing five Taliban who have been held for 12 years, they would still stamp Reagan’s image on coins and bills, raise monuments to his memory and inscribe his name on every structure in the country.

There are prominent voices on the right who now insist that Bergdahl was unworthy of rescue, because his capture supposedly occurred after he deserted his post.  None of the loudest wingnuts registered this complaint until after the White House secured his release; indeed, many of them were agitating for the Obama administration to save Bergdahl until last week.  After last weekend they declare with equal volume and fervor that he is a “traitor” who should have been left to rot with his Taliban captors.

So much for the American principles of due process and presumption of innocence – which happen to be among the very ideals that are supposed to differentiate us from our enemies.  Libertarians and conservatives always fiercely claim to uphold due process, especially when one of their own is in the dock. But for some curious reason, those principles don’t always apply when a Democrat is president. Thankfully, in the view of the Commander-in-Chief and the U.S. Army, which maintains jurisdiction and custody over Bergdahl, due process apparently remains in force, which must be why he was promoted to sergeant while a prisoner of war.

However angry Bergdahl’s former mates may feel, and however his actions may have justified their anger, they will likely have an opportunity to testify about him if the Army pursues a court martial. That would be the appropriate forum to sort out the facts about Bergdahl’s conduct – not a Twitter lynching party or a kangaroo court held by Bill Kristol on Fox News Channel. The proposal that we should leave a soldier in the hands of the enemy, based on suspicions or rumors of disloyalty, is disgusting on many levels, and should infuriate anyone who boasts of his devotion to the Constitution.

A decent respect for military families – owed to the sacrifices and hardships they confront – is another conservative virtue that the right no longer deems convenient. Whatever anyone thinks of Bowe Bergdahl parents please remember Robert and Jani Bergdahl have faced the same heartache as any captured soldier’s parents – and they have done nothing to deserve the sudden torrent of partisan abuse. The swinish Glenn Beck — a self-styled super-patriot who spent his youth snorting cocaine and swilling booze while others served their country — is eagerly leading the effort to demonize the Bergdahls.

In years past, the venerable taboo against abusing the reputation of an Army veteran, especially a former prisoner of war, to pursue a political vendetta would have been too powerful to ignore. Today we see the Republican right eagerly mobilizing its entire media apparatus — complete with cheesy Washington public relations flacks and sleazy fundraising appeals — to mount a bitter campaign against Bergdahl and his family.

Of course, the true target is Barack Obama. Everything and everyone else, from the beleaguered Bergdahls to respect for due process and the military code, even conservatism itself, are all just so much “collateral damage.” The radical right will not desist until it has all burned down.



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