August 20, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood Jihad against Christians “Right now there is a bullseye on the back of every Christian living in Egypt.”

It is perfectly clear to me that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is conducting a violent jihad against Christians.

Andrew Doran, writing at National Review, calls the current wave of anti-Coptic violence in Egypt a Coptic Kristallnacht:

In the violence that erupted on Wednesday and Thursday, 32 churches were destroyed and 19 severely damaged, according to the Maspero Youth Union, a Christian human-rights organization. Scores of Christian homes, businesses, and automobiles were destroyed — all of this in roughly 24 hours.

And yet, bizarrely, Western media have largely portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as the victims of violence
“So much violence, so many innocent people killed,” says Mina Thabet, an Egyptian human-rights activist who lives in Cairo. “The [Mohamed] Morsi supporters are armed and killing people in the streets. They are targeting Copts. But if the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in power, we would have the same violence and much more because he would use the institutions of the country, the army and the police, against us.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s systematic and coordinated attacks against Christians in Egypt are reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938, when Nazi paramilitaries systematically vandalized Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues and murdered scores of Jews in a disturbing foreshadowing of the fate of European Jews over the next few years.

Islamist mob parades nuns in Cairo as prisoners of war after six hours looting church school and replacing cross with banner resembling Al Qaeda flag

In some villages, the homes of Christians were marked with red paint so they would be easier to target.

On Facebook, a Muslim Brotherhood Memo blesses the burning of churches.

47 churches and monasteries that have been burned, robbed, or attacked since Aug. 14 in a wave of violence against Christians since the brutal police crackdown on the former president's supporters, according to Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He adds that dozens of Christian schools, other religious buildings, homes, and shops have also been attacked and burned, and seven Christians killed.

One church in Minya, Egypt was forced to cancel Sunday mass for the first time in 1600 years.

Reporter Gary Lane writes

What do Muslim Brotherhood members do when Egyptian Security Forces launch a forewarned operation to clear them from Cairo tent cities? Attack Christians. That’s right.

Morsi supporters responded with a monumental attack–unprecedented in modern times–on churches throughout Egypt. The torching and destruction of churches occurred within six hours of the start of the military crackdown.

Even Aljazerra reported More than 30 churches have been destroyed in the past week as thugs launch a campaign of intimidation.

Why does the Muslim Brotherhood attack churches as part of its argument with the military government?

The first reason is because the Christian minority, unlike the military, is vulnerable. Throughout the long year when Egypt suffered under Morsi’s Islamist rule, Christians and their churches were increasingly subject to attacks as the Muslim movement sought to make the position of the religious minority untenable. 
Second, … such attacks are an inextricable part of their worldview as they seek to transform Egypt in their own Islamist image. In the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt, there is no room for Christians or even secular Muslims. That is why so many in Egypt applauded the coup as perhaps the last chance to save the country from permanent Islamist rule.
As difficult as it may be for some high-minded Americans to understand, in this case it is the military and not the protesters in Cairo who are seeking to stop tyranny. Though the military is an unattractive ally, anyone seeking to cut off vital U.S. aid to Egypt should remember that the only alternative to it is the party that is currently burning churches.

Andrew McCarthy writes Muslim Brotherhood ‘Reprisals’ & ‘Enemies of Islam’

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic supremacist allies – portrayed in the mainstream media as “peaceful protesters” subjected to unprovoked violence by Egyptian security forces – continue their jihad against Christians. And that jihad continues to be portrayed in the mainstream media as “reprisal” attacks, as if it were the Copts rather than the armed forces who had ousted the Brotherhood from power.

IBD: World Silent as Muslim Brotherhood Targets Egypt's Coptic Christians

Amid the raging violence in Egypt, a less-publicized war is being waged against Egypt's long-persecuted Coptic Christians, this time using the excuse that they were somehow involved in the military's ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi from power.

How is it that Vladimir Putin is the only leader who says the world should unite against anti-Christian persecution?

Did you know that the Muslim Brotherhood were Nazi collaborators?

There are huge amounts of archival evidence, including documents showing not only Nazi payments to the Brotherhood but also that the Nazis provided them with arms for a rebellion to kill Christians and Jews in Egypt.  There is no evidence that the Brotherhood has changed its positions.

David Warren in Chronicles of "peace, peace"

In Egypt, we should note that the fate of ten million Christians is on the line. Either the Muslim Brotherhood will be uprooted, or the Christians will be uprooted. There is no “third way,” & those who speak & act as if there were have effectively taken sides, with evil.

Islamic Brotherhood failed to understand the majority of Egyptians rejects fundamentalism

Group’s leadership aims to transform country into Islamic state.

Egypt’s Coptic Church announces support for army, police

Michael Coren Stop the persecution

Yet no matter tragic human suffering is, the deliberate removal of a fourth century church from Egypt is on a different level of sociological violence and ethnic cleansing.  You see, Christianity pre-dates Islam by 600 years, and Egypt was a majority Christian country long before Islam existed. The attack on the church was a clear statement to the 15% of Egyptians who refuse to abandon Christ. “You do not belong, you never existed.”

At almost the same time as the church was destroyed, a little Christian girl, 10-year-old Jessica Boulous, was shot through the chest and killed in Cairo as she walked home from a Bible class.
The Copts of Egypt are the indigenous people of the country, with far more rights to the land than many Muslims. But while the world will sympathize with Palestinians, or for that matter Canadian natives and Australian aboriginals, it prefers to ignore persecuted Christians.

U.S. State Dept. Spokeswoman Psaki Denounces ‘Enemies of Islam’

While Obama was forcing Mubarak out, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “largely secular” organization that “eschewed violence.”

On Martha’s Vineyard, Obama disavowed all responsibility for the Muslim Brotherhood while insisting, once again, that its leaders should be set free.

The President denounced  the “arbitrary arrests” of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the “broad crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s associations and supporters” and then insisted “We don’t take sides with any particular party or political figure.”

Allies Thwart America in Egypt Israel, Saudis and U.A.E. Support Military Moves

The U.S.'s closest Middle East allies are undercutting American policy in Egypt, encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile.  The parallel efforts by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have blunted U.S. influence with Egypt's military leadership and underscored how the chaos there has pulled Israel into ever-closer alignment with those Gulf states, officials said. 

A senior Israeli official called the anti-Muslim Brotherhood nations "the axis of reason".

Mark Steyn 

General Sisi has made a calculation that he has a small window of opportunity to inflict damage on the Muslim Brotherhood that will set them back decades and that it is in Egypt’s vital interest to do so. Grasping that, the Brothers are pushing back hard.

For the same reason, the Gulf monarchies, having weathered the immediate storms of the Arab spring and understanding the longer-term threat the Brotherhood represents, have supplanted Washington as Cairo’s principal paymasters:

Canada Free Press. Egypt championing Coptic Christians while Obama plays Nero

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham should take lessons in courage from Egyptian defense minister Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who has vowed to rebuild Coptic Churches destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Not only is the courageous El-Sisi vowing to rebuild Muslim Brotherhood-destroyed Coptic Churches, but his order aims to have them rebuilt ASAP, according to the Mid-East Christian News.
Yesterday top U.S. Senate Republicans McCain and Graham were siding against El Sisi and throwing in with the Muslim Brotherhood
Obama did take time out from partying to say that the United States has cancelled a joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise because of the Egyptian crackdown on protests supporting Morsi—without, of course ever mentioning that he was quite willing to have military exercises when it was Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in power.

A list of the churches attacked, looted, destroyed or burned by the Muslim Brotherhood all over Egypt

“Right now there is a bullseye on the back of every Christian living in Egypt,” says Middle East Expert Erick Stakelbeck

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:02 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2013

Take back August

Whatever Happened to August? by David Shribman

It used to be the perfect peak of idleness, but we've ruined the month with work, school and calendars run amok.

It's the month when the summer nights have a consistent, delicious crispness to them unknown at any other time of the year. It's when the corn is sweet, the plums are purple and pungent, the baseball pennant races are mature, the ocean temperatures are warm. It is the very best month of the year. And we have ruined it.

Not so long ago—well within the memory of half the American population—August was the vacation month. It was a time, much anticipated and much appreciated, of leisure, languor, lassitude and lingering at the beach well into suppertime. Unlike July, it had no holiday disruption, no grocery-store rush, no rituals, no reason to hurry, except maybe to get to the ice-cream stand before closing time, and even that was flexible, depending upon the length of the line. Hardly anyone got married, and no one went to class. Congress barely met, and then it departed for most of the month, a great relief to them and an even bigger one for the nation. It was an idyll of idleness, a time of pure ease—and now it's gone.

We've made August a horror of back-to-school and blinding activity, a time when offices are open late and summer camps close early.
August is America at its best. Let's take it back.

Hear, hear.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

"The Mother of All Scandals is the Taxman"

Michael Leeden, The Mother of Scandals Is Always Pregnant

The mother of all scandals is the taxman.

Benghazi is an event, a terrible event, but the systematic use of the IRS as an instrument of oppression, the omnipresent long arm of the state-to-be, is even worse. It’s a crucial instrument for redistributing wealth, for intimidating critics, and for preventing political opponents from amassing the wherewithal to challenge the would-be tyrants.

Moreover, it serves as cover for collecting sensitive information about us. Sure, the NSA megadata collection is scary, but the IRS is right there, not only putting the Tea Party in purgatory but even grabbing medical records that include very private matters, as emerges in a California law suit.

The suit alleges that IRS agents seized tens of millions of medical records in the course of a search in connection with an investigation of a single person’s failure to pay taxes to the IRS’s full satisfaction:

“These medical records contained intimate and private information of more than 10,000,000 Americans, information that by its nature includes information about treatment for any kind of medical concern, including psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual or drug treatment, and a wide range of medical matters covering the most intimate and private of concerns,” the complaint reads.
The IRS scandal is truly the pregnant mother of them all, giving birth to corrupt institutions and corrupt citizens at an alarming and depressing rate. We can speedily recover from the disgusting Benghazi affair by changing leaders. But it will take a full-scale purge to restore the tax collector to virtue.

Ted Cruz has the right idea: abolish the IRS and reform the tax code so that anyone can easily calculate how much he owes, and see that it is fair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:10 PM | Permalink

Lean Back

The Economist.  Schumpter  In Praise of Laziness

the biggest problem in the business world is not too little but too much—too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness.
office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. Managers allow meetings to drag on for hours. Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.
This activity is making it harder to focus on real work as opposed to make-work.
It is high time that we tried a different strategy—not “leaning in” but “leaning back”. There is a distinguished history of leadership thinking in the lean-back tradition. Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s favorite prime minister, extolled the virtues of “masterful inactivity”. Herbert Asquith embraced a policy of “wait and see” when he had the job. Ronald Reagan also believed in not overdoing things: “It’s true hard work never killed anybody,” he said, “but I figure, why take the chance?”. This tradition has been buried in a morass of meetings and messages. We need to revive it before we schedule ourselves to death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:47 PM | Permalink

Workers spill the dark secrets of their industries UPDATED

From Business Insider, Workers Spill The Dark Secrets Of Their Industries That Companies Don't Want You To Know About


Big chain bookstores throw massive amounts of books away…..
I almost cried the first time I had to rip up a load of kid's books (in a city with high child poverty rates and underfunded schools).


"I work on a farm. When they say you should wash your produce thoroughly at home, they're not joking."


"I work for a UPS store. Here is a few things I have learned since working here…Writing fragile on your package means nothing…..Your package WILL get thrown around, dropped, and beaten up.

Fine dining

"Fine dining cook here. 30% of your meal is butter. That's why it's so good."

UPDATE from Quora, What's something that is common knowledge at your work place, but will be mind blowing to the rest of us?

Movie theaters

Movie theaters are not in movie business they are in Candy Business.  More than 85% and in some cases 100% of the revenue from ticket sales goes to the movie producers. The real profit for the movie theater comes from the largely overpriced popcorn and coke that is sold.

Car Insurance

Most people are shocked when I tell them that your credit score is BY FAR the most predictive of car insurance claims

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:42 PM | Permalink

August 16, 2013

Interesting reads for the weekend

Archaeology: The milk revolution
When a single genetic mutation first let ancient Europeans drink milk, it set the stage for a continental upheaval.

In the National Geographic, Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?

Data seem to support the 12-step program's benefits for addicts.

In the Paris Review, Amanda Fortini interviews Mary Karr and The Art of the Memoir

The Liars’ Club, Karr’s 1995 memoir of her Gothic childhood in a swampy East Texas oil-refining town, won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, sold half a million copies, and made its forty-year-old author, who was then an obscure poet, a literary celebrity. …Five years later Karr published a second memoir, Cherry, which detailed her intellectual and sexual awakenings…. In Lit, Karr tackles her early adulthood and what she calls her journey “from black-belt sinner and lifelong agnostic to unlikely Catholic.” Taken together, Karr’s memoirs, written in a singular voice that combines poetic diction and Texas vernacular, form a trilogy that spans the thematic range of the genre: harrowing tale of childhood, coming-of-age story, conversion experience.

In Slate, Why the French Secretly Love the Golden Arches

How McDonald’s conquered the world by becoming a defender of local cuisine. Anyone for a McCamembert?

At American Digest, Love Gone Missing

I've seen love go missing in a single, secret, brief and enraged glance on Christmas Day. I've heard love go missing months before the front door slammed. I've seen it go missing in me in a hundred silent moments where I did not speak my heart and in a hundred other moments when I spoke my heart falsely and far too quick. And the only thing I think I've learned about love gone missing is to let it go -- and I'm not even sure about that no matter how often it is repeated to me. Your milage, of course, may vary.

What is important in life? Economists, insurance adjusters and old people agree.

They all recognize one thing that really makes a life valuable: Relationships.

The Golden Age of Radio and how broadcasting came to be

The 1931 Histomap. History of the World in One Chart

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 PM | Permalink

Just a reminder - Ten Simple Things You Can Do to Be Happier

Lifehacker proposes Ten Simple Things You Can Do to Be Happier, Backed by Science

1.Exercise More
2. Sleep More
3. Move closer to Work
4. Spend Time with Friends and Family
6. Go Outside
7. Help Others
8. Practice Smiling
9. Plan a Trip
10. Meditate

Don't miss the wonderful discussion and images about the scientific studies that back all this up.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2013

Health Roundup: Super honey, killer sugar, buzzer banishes constipation

Doctors discover 'super honey' with amazing power to treat soldiers' wounds and kill superbug infections

A new honey has been produced that has had ‘amazing’ results treating wounds and infections.The bio-engineered product Surgihoney was tested on babies, new mothers, cancer patients and the elderly for over a year in Hampshire hospitals.

Wounds and ulcers, including those infected with the superbug MRSA, healed within days, while the number of women who suffered infections after giving birth by caesarean section has halved. It has also healed the wounds of soldiers returning from Afghanistan, and been used to treat acne and to protect the skin of cancer patients fitted with a catheter for chemotherapy.
Dr Matthew Dryden, consultant microbiologist at the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘It will revolutionize wound care around the world.’

Honey has been used for its healing powers for thousands of years, although doctors favor penicillin and antibiotics. 
‘Honey is a fantastic natural medicine. The important extra is that it kills the bugs but doesn’t damage the tissue.’

A jar of honey should be in every first aid kit.

High Blood Sugar Linked to Dementia

A large health care system in Washington State showing that higher blood glucose levels are associated with a greater risk of dementia — even among people who don’t have diabetes. The results, published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine,
“We found a steadily increasing risk associated with ever-higher blood glucose levels, even in people who didn’t have diabetes,” Dr. Crane said. Of particular interest: “There’s no threshold, no place where the risk doesn’t go up any further or down any further.” The association with dementia kept climbing with higher blood sugar levels and, at the other end of the spectrum, continued to decrease with lower levels.
This research “offers more evidence that the brain is a target organ for damage by high blood sugar,” said Dr. Munshi. “And everyone is still working on the ‘why’.”

Is sugar an invisible killer? Even 'safe' levels of the sweet stuff could lead to an early death, scientists warn

U.S. researchers gave mice sugary diet and found female animals died twice as fast as those eating healthy snacks.
Scientists from the University of Utah found male mice consuming the sugary diet were less able to hold territory and reproduce.
Strangely the animals showed no signs of ill-health including obesity or raised blood sugar levels.

Me and my operation: The buzzer in your body that can banish chronic constipation

At first, I felt the tingling in my lower back, but now I don’t notice it. And since the battery is deep under the skin of my buttock, I can’t feel it.
Now I’m back at work, and enjoying swimming, aerobics and the gym again, and have just been walking in the Brecon Beacons. I’ve finally got my life back.
Around 95 per cent of people can be helped by these measures [diet, laxatives and special exercises], but when all else fails we can consider surgery
Sacral nerve stimulation, the procedure Kathryn had, works by stimulating the nerves that control bowel and bladder function
It’s an exciting option because it is low risk — and we can test to see if it works before putting in a permanent implant (it works in around half of patients).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

August 14, 2013

Parenting roundup: Organic family planning apps, hormonal contraception, Gameboy back, unruly children get fat

New app helps track best times to conceive  It's called Glow and it's available at the App Store.  Tech Crunch described it thusly

completely free fertility tracker, which lets women enter detailed data about their menstrual cycles and the symptoms surrounding them to help predict their exact level of fertility each day. The Glow fertility predicting app can be used worldwide.

It sounds very much like the science behind Natural Family Planning which has its own app MyFertility MD available at the  App Store and on all mobile devices .  The developers of the app  call it 'organic family planning' and an app by doctors for women.

The organic alternative sounds especially good after reading this story.  Is your birth control pill controlling YOU? New book claims hormonal contraception is a tool to suppress women in society

British author Holly Grigg-Spall has written 'Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control' and believes that a number of studies proves her point that contraception is in fact controlling women.

She adds that women’s unquestioning acceptance of such powerful medications is in some ways a submission to a culture steeped in hatred of the feminine.
While Ms Grigg-Spall was on birth control she felt a distance between herself and her ‘femaleness'.  She said, "Over the years [of being on the Pill] I felt no connection between my self and my body, between my self and the world around me, between my femaleness and myself.’

A 2011 study of women both on and off hormonal contraception found that the medication did affect a woman's memory.
A 2012 study revealed that women on hormonal birth control - which suppresses naturally occurring testosterone - were attracted to men with lower testosterone levels.

The World Health Organization has declared several forms of oral contraceptives and estrogen replacement therapy as a Group 1 Carcinogen.  Links to WHO data on Birth Control Pill and Estrogen Replacement Carcinogenicity here.

Rise of the 'Gameboy Back': Children are developing curvature of the spine because they hunch over consoles and smartphones

They say the modern phenomenon, which causes curvature of the spine and sometimes herniated (slipped) discs, is a result of children sitting hunched over games consoles and smartphones for hours on end.

They do not however believe a ban on such devices is required. Instead more attention needs to be paid to correct posture, they said.

Surgeons Piet van Loon and Andre Soeterbroek said the last time such symptoms were observed was more than 100 years ago, when child labour was common in Europe.  The problem is particularly prevalent in eight to 18-year-olds.
'It makes no difference to the body whether you’re hunched over in a cigar factory or spending eight hours over an iPad.'

Device Nags You to Sit Up StraightLumoBack Sensor Vibrates Whenever You Slouch.  Lumoback website

Your Personal Posture Trainer…$150

LUMOback acts as your personal posture trainer, gently correcting you and offering encouragement in your journey toward better posture and a healthier lifestyle. It serves as a posture monitor, providing consistent reminders to maintain healthy posture and be more mindful of your body.

Our mobile app allows you to easily track your progress as you improve your posture. It also encourages you to be more active by tracking how many steps you take each day and what percentage of the day you spend sitting, standing, walking, and running. You can even monitor your sleep patterns and track your mood changes.

Inducing and Augmenting Labor May Be Associated With Increased Risk of Autism

Pregnant women whose labors are induced or augmented may have an increased risk of bearing children with autism, especially if the baby is male, according to a large, retrospective analysis by researchers at Duke Medicine and the University of Michigan.

The findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics on Aug. 12, 2013, do not prove cause and effect, but suggest the need for more research, particularly as labor induction and augmentation have been used more frequently in recent years.
The findings suggest that among male children, labor that was both induced and augmented was associated with a 35 percent higher risk of autism, compared with labor that received neither treatment.

Disciplining children really IS for their own good: Unruly kids become fatter adults

Encouraging 'good' behavior in youngsters definitely makes parents' lives easier. It is also assumed to instill positive personality traits that will help them grow in to well rounded adults. And now new research has revealed that a person's behavior as a child could have a startling impact on their waistline in their future.

The longitudinal study observed a group of Hawaiian schoolchildren in the 1960s and then compared their vital statistics today as 50-year-old adults.
ORI scientist Sarah Hampson, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health, Hawaii report these findings in the August issue of Health Psychology. …This is the first study in which all the big five personality traits assessed in childhood have been used to predict objective health status assessed by multiple biomarkers over 40 years later in older adulthood.

Others have shown that more conscientiousness children live longer. Now we have shown that these conscientious children are also healthier at midlife' noted Dr. Hampson, while on a panel on personality and health at the national American Psychological Association meeting in Honolulu.

Hawaiian school-children rated by their teachers in the 1960s as less conscientious had worse global health status as adults. They also had significantly greater obesity, high cholesterol, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand If you have unruly kids and they do get fat, they probably have a better chance of surviving the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis.

'I survived a flesh-eating bug because I'm FAT': 27 stone man's excess flab meant bug had plenty to eat - giving doctors time to save him

Russell Kimble, 39, developed necrotising fasciitis after a routine operation.  The bug was spreading at a rate of three centimeters an hour.  He spent nine days in an induced coma and had 20 operations, spending a total of seven weeks in hospital and missing his own wedding
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 PM | Permalink

August 13, 2013

Mental health roundup: Cellphone holdout, Facebook, shopping and power

The managing director of an investment firm: My Life as a Cellphone Holdout

For the last two decades, I have spent 83% of my waking hours enjoying the freedom of not owning a cellphone, 5% feeling smug about it, 2% in situations in which a phone would have been awfully convenient and 10% fielding incredulous questions. The first is always: How do you do your job? (I'm not the junior blacksmith at the Renaissance Faire; I'm a managing director at a private-equity firm.) I explain that my colleagues are very tolerant, the firm provides me with all of the latest communication tools (computer, telephone, Post-its) right at my desk, and accomplishing my daily tasks without a smartphone is not beyond human capability. Indeed, people lived this way back at the Dawn of Civilization, circa 1992.
I don't own a cellphone because I don't want to disappoint Henry David Thoreau. …I know that cellphones have their uses. But it was hardly a difficult choice to sacrifice their utility in an attempt to make more room for thought.

Study: Posting Facebook Photos Negatively Impacts Real-Life Relationships

According to research from the University of Birmingham, University West of England and the University of Edinburgh, people who frequently post photos to Facebook can’t control how their various “friends” will perceive the posts.

“It’s worth remembering that the information we post to our ‘friends’ on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people: partners; friends; family; colleagues and acquaintances,” said Dr. David Houghton, lead author of the report, told “And each group seems to take a different view of the information shared.”

“Our research found that those who frequently post photographs on Facebook risk damaging real-life relationships. This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don’t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves.

Shopping actually makes us feel lonely - especially if we're doing it to fill a void or impress others

new research from the University of Chicago suggests that shopping as a cure for loneliness is futile - and could in fact make us feel more lonely.  In fact, the very act of fending off loneliness by shopping can create a vicious cycle where one shops because they are lonely, feels more lonely because they have shopped, and continues shopping in a misguided attempt to cure the loneliness.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, analyzed data from 2,500 consumers over six years.

Power Corrupts … the Brain

full story at
When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart

Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.
It turns out, feeling powerless boosted the mirror system — people empathized highly. But, Obhi says, "when people were feeling powerful, the signal wasn't very high at all."

So when people felt power, they really did have more trouble getting inside another person's head.

"What we're finding is power diminishes all varieties of empathy," says Dacher Keltner, a social psychologist at University of California, Berkeley,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2013

Helpful hints: Mosquitos and WD40

A light fan blowing on your deck will keep mosquitos away.  via Book of Joe's Low-tech mosquito deterrent

The American Mosquito Control Association…  "Mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers,so placing a large fan on your deck can provide a low-tech solution." The group says mosquitoes fly slowly — from roughly 1 to 1.5 miles per hour, depending on the species.

Scientists have identified another factor. The breeze from a fan disperses the human emanations that allow female mosquitoes to zero in on us. (Females need the stolen blood for egg making.)

And another A homemade mosquito trap that really works!

       Homemade-Mosquito-Trap      Items needed:

  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 gram of yeast
  • 1 2-liter bottle

If anyone in your family is awaiting an organ transplant, make sure it's been tested for rabies. 

The rabies-infected man whose organs went to four people, including a kidney recipient who died, is now revealed to have been bitten by raccoons at least twice in the months before he died.  Tests have now also confirmed his rabies-infected kidney caused the recipient's disease and subsequent death and that the rabies originated from raccoons.

WD 40 can do most anything. Here are just a few Amazing uses for WD40.. 

  • Separate stuck glassware
  • Get off that stuck ring
  • Exterminate roaches and repel insects
  • Remove chewing gum from hair
  • Remove tough scuff marks, marker and crayon marks
  • Clean toilet bowls
  • Winterproof boots and shoes
  • Protect a bird feeder
  • Keep wasps from building nests
  • Remove doggie-doo
  • Remove strong glue and loosen zippers
  • Keep wooden tool handles splinter free
  • Break in a new baseball glove or leather furniture
  • Remove decals and stickers from glass
  • Remove burrs from horse
  • Rejuvenate the barbecue grill
  • Renew faded plastic furniture
  • Keep snow from sticking to snow shovel

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:05 PM | Permalink

Dream Wedding IN Salmon River

She’s quite a catch! Couple who love fishing marry in a river filled with salmon, flanked by groomsmen carrying rods and wearing waders

 River Wedding Setting

it's clear from the beaming smiles on the faces of both the bride and groom, as they stand knee deep in freezing, flowing waters of a salmon river in Alaska, that this is the perfect wedding for them.

Flanked by supportive bridesmaids and groomsmen, wearing protective long waders, the happy couple exchanged their vows to the sound of the running river in the remote but beautiful setting.

 River Wedding Groomsmen

Kadie Walsh and Dake Schmidt, both local fishing guides, opted for a rather nontraditional salmon fishing theme for their entire wedding.

The couple's rings were presented each in the mouths of two king salmon and both the bridesmaids and groomsmen were carrying fishing rods complete with flower posies throughout the ceremony

Shortly after the newlyweds were married, they were each handed a rod and both caught their own pair of handsome pink salmon on the Buskin River, on Alaska's southern Kodiak island.

 River Wedding Bride&Groom&Salmon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:28 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2013

A Puerto Rican, a South Korean and a New Yorker met online and...

Amazing, you have to watch this.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2013

Breaking Bad

I am a big fan of Breaking Bad, so I'm looking forward to the final season which begins on Sunday.  Curiously, I've been unable to watch any of the last season again because the series makes me so uncomfortable.    This article explains why.

Why We Need Breaking Bad  Watching Walt's slow slide off the moral cliff might just inoculate us against what TV usually teaches.

I think Breaking Bad is a great show because it rejects this line of thinking, because its running time is a five-season rebuttal to the idea that there are choices that matter and choices that don't. Walt's pride at a dinner table is ultimately as important to the villain he becomes as his murder, his lying as corruptive as his violence. In Gilligan's eyes, there's no differentiating between Walt's pride and his rage and his enviousness and his determination to succeed at all costs, to be the Kingpin, the only one. Telling the story of how Walt chose to become the villain takes every minute of all 67 episodes aired so far.
Walter is us. And that is a dangerous message, and it hurts. It hurts to be awakened to choices you didn't know you were failing to make, or making poorly. It is always, always easier to deny choice than to accept it, to want to brush things off until it's really important
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Techno-brain clutter

How Clutter Affects Your Brain and What You Can Do About It

Clutter Isn’t Just Physical

Files on your computer, notifications from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anything that goes “ping” in the night competes for your attention. This creates a digital form of clutter that erodes your ability to focus and perform creative tasks. Mark Hurst, author of Bit Literacy, a New York Times best seller on controlling the flow of information in the digital age, put it best when he said:

When you have to-do items constantly floating around in your head or you hear a ping or vibrate every few minutes from your phone, your brain doesn’t get a chance to fully enter creative flow or process experiences. When your brain has too much on its plate, it splits its power up. The result? You become awful at: filtering information, switching quickly between tasks and keeping a strong working memory.

The overconsumption of digital stuff has the same effect on your brain as physical clutter.

 Brain Clutter

Cluttered brain, too much on your mind

David Somers, an associate psychology professor who researches in the BU Center for Neuroscience, pointed to brain clutter as a larger public health concern. 

“Brain clutter is responsible for many of the things we forget – either because we didn’t fully pay attention or because we got distracted when we were supposed to remember,” he said. “Brain clutter is responsible for car accidents and many other sorts of mistakes that we make. These problems are much more severe in clinical populations – ADHD, schizophrenia, OCD, Alzheimer’s – all have major attentional components.”

Somers also identified habits such as compulsively checking one’s Facebook or reading text messages as a self-generated, technological form of brain clutter.  Even in the absence of a cue that we’ve got new mail or texts, we obsessively check,” he said. “This really cuts into our productivity. This techno-brain clutter is a learned phenomena, it is rather like an addiction, and frequently interrupts us with little conscious awareness that we’ve stopped our tasks.

There are drugs like Adderall to deal with this, but, by far, the most effective treatment for distraction is developing the habit of spending time daily in meditation or prayer.  I've found both clears the mind, settles it down and brings peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

Good Habits

Why is it So Hard to Stick to Good Habits?  by James Clear. 

Have you ever set out with the goal of actually sticking to a new behavior … only to find yourself not doing it at all one week later?
I know I have.

Why is so hard to form good habits? Why is it so difficult to make consistent change? How can we have the best intentions to become better, and yet still see so little progress?  And most importantly, is there anything we can do about it?

Your Life Goals are Not Your Habits
Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. But it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you—the shift in daily habits that would mean a re–invention of how you see yourself.
— Seth Godin

Good Habits: Dream Big, But Start Small
If you’re serious about making real change — in other words, if you’re serious about doing things better than you are now — then you have to start small…..I think the following quote from BJ Fogg, a professor at Stanford, sums this idea up nicely.

If you plant the right seed in the right spot, it will grow without further coaxing. I believe this is the best metaphor for creating habits.

The “right seed” is the tiny behavior that you choose. The “right spot” is the sequencing — what it comes after. The “coaxing” part is amping up motivation, which I think has nothing to do with creating habits. In fact, focusing on motivation as the key to habits is exactly wrong.

Let me be more explicit: If you pick the right small behavior and sequence it right, then you won’t have to motivate yourself to have it grow. It will just happen naturally, like a good seed planted in a good spot.
—BJ Fogg

Life goals are good to have because they provide direction, but they can also trick you into taking on more than you can handle. Daily habits — tiny routines that are repeatable — are what make big dreams a reality.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink

"Meaning is Healthier than Happiness"

In the Atlantic, Meaning Is Healthier Than Happiness by Emily Esfahani Smith

People who are happy but have little-to-no sense of meaning in their lives have the same gene expression patterns as people who are enduring chronic adversity.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece called “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” about a psychology study that dug into what happiness really means to people. It specifically explored the difference between a meaningful life and a happy life.

It seems strange that there would be a difference at all. But the researchers, who looked at a large sample of people over a month-long period, found that happiness is associated with selfish “taking” behavior and that having a sense of meaning in life is associated with selfless “giving” behavior.

"Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided," the authors of the study wrote. "If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need.” While being happy is about feeling good, meaning is derived from contributing to others or to society in a bigger way. As Roy Baumeister, one of the researchers, told me, "Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily make us happy.”

 Meaning Of Life Google

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:49 AM | Permalink

"I tell myself a lot of stories"

The Stories We Tell Ourselves
A tool for change

Retrospect is an uncomfortable thing. Looking back at the last five years of my life is a cringe-inducing exercise. All my failings, mistakes and poorly thought out actions are glaringly horrific. The nights I got too drunk. The people I’ve hurt with my selfishness. The time I’ve wasted and the opportunities I’ve missed can all paint a dark picture. It’s a picture many thirty year old American men can paint. Its the picture of trying to figure your shit out in your late twenties. But, luckily, there is some brightness too.

Today, I consider myself a happy person. I love what I do. I love the people in my life. Despite the messiness of the last few years, I’ve been able to create a life that I enjoy. But only recently did I realize that the tool that finally helped me figure it out was one of the oldest practices known to man: storytelling.

I tell myself a lot of stories. These days, I like to tell myself the “anything is possible” story, the “practice makes perfect” story or the “life is short” story. At the time of writing this I’m a big fan of the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” story and I can guarantee the “sleep’s the best medicine” story will have me in bed by 9 tonight.

The stories I tell myself are the anchors of my thoughts, my words and my actions. They are the internal narratives that make me who I am. There was a time when I told myself the “get money or die trying” story. Thanks, 50. There was the time I was convinced by the “bugs are scary” story. That was embarrassing. I was even tempted by the “no one understands me” story for a bit; also embarrassing. The stories I tell myself are always changing.

My current narrative is a borrowed set of story lines. They are the narratives I’ve collected from a host of movies, articles, lectures and friends. They are the gathered learnings from my mentors. They are the reciprocal stories of my upbringing, a series of “I’ll never be like them” stories. But it is through the recognition of these story lines, in all their beauty and ugliness, that I’ve seen the potential to guide my narrative towards a particular and positive outcome.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:40 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Malaria drug triumph, chocolate, steak, broccoli, starving diabetes, healthy gut, artificial ear, nightlight

Wonderful news.  Breakthrough in battle against malaria as new vaccine proves 100 per cent effective against disease for the first time in history

U.S. scientists have announced a significant breakthrough in the fight against malaria after a human trial of a new vaccine was 100 per cent effective against the disease for the first time in history.  More than three dozen volunteers were given multiple doses of a vaccine produced with a weakened form of the mosquito-borne disease that kills around one million people a year.

And their results were promising: The months-long trial was 100 per cent successful in protecting all of the subjects who received the strongest dose of the vaccine.  The results, which suggest scientists could be nearing eliminating the disease, were released by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the Navy, Army and other organizations Thursday.

Chocolate may help keep brain healthy, sharp in old age, study says

In the journal Neurology, researchers reported that chocolate may help improve brain health and thinking skills in the elderly. The Boston-based team found that older people who initially performed poorly on a memory and reasoning test and also had reduced blood flow to their brains showed improvement after drinking two cups of cocoa every day for a month.

How feasting on steak and spinach can cut the chances of Alzheimer's

Iron-rich foods can delay onset of degenerative disease, say researchers.  Anaemic people are more likely to develop conditions like Alzheimer's.

Broccoli's a wonder veg… and now we know why: Chemical only found in the food helps maintain 'batteries' that power body's cells

They discovered that a chemical found solely in the vegetable helps maintain the health of the tiny ‘batteries’ which power the body’s cells.  This, it is thought, helps ward off health problems including cancer and heart disease.  Scientists from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich ran detailed blood tests on men and women before and after they ate the vegetable

‘Two to three times a week is probably enough, I don’t think many people want to eat broccoli more than that.’

Daily Mail I reversed my diabetes in just 11 days - by going on a starvation diet

The theory behind the diet, which is the brainchild of Roy Taylor, professor of medicine and metabolism at Newcastle University, is based on the fact that type 2 diabetes is often caused by fat clogging up the liver and pancreas, which are crucial in producing insulin and controlling blood sugar.  Professor Taylor’s studies have shown that drastic dieting causes the body to go into starvation mode and burn fat stores for energy — and the fat around the organs seems to be targeted first.  This leads to the liver and pancreas becoming unclogged, and insulin and blood sugar levels returning to normal.

One study by Taylor’s team, published in 2011 in the journal Diabetologia, found that out of 11 type-2 diabetics following the diet, all reversed their diabetes in under eight weeks.  Further studies revealed that type 2 diabetics needed to lose one-sixth of their pre-diagnosis body weight to remove enough fat from the pancreas to allow normal insulin production to resume.

After contacting Professor Taylor, and getting the nod from my GP, I decided to follow the diet (experts warn never to start such a drastic regimen without first checking with your doctor).

How the digestive system could be the key to curing cancer: Keeping it healthy could allow patients to survive much higher doses of chemotherapy

Protecting the digestive system could be the key to curing deadly cancer, experts have claimed.
Keeping the gastro-intestinal tract healthy and functioning may allow patients to tolerate normally lethal doses of chemo and radiotherapy, research suggests.
Deadly advanced cancers that have metastasised, or spread around the body, could then be eradicated, scientists believe.
The research is at a very early stage and conducted on mice, which were treated to help them survive powerful cancer therapies.
But lead scientist Dr Jian-Guo Geng, from the University of Michigan in the U.S., said: ‘It's our belief that this could eventually cure later-staged metastasised cancer. People will not die from cancer, if our prediction is true.’
A major problem with chemotherapy agents and radiation treatment is that they can kill patients before curing cancer.

Scientists build artificial ear that looks and works just like the real thing - using cells from SHEEP and a 3D printer

Researchers created the artificial ear by 3D printing a life-like mold which was filled with cow collagen and sheep cartilage cells
Cells were implanted into rats and grown over a three-month period

The color of your nightlight could affect your mood

In a study involving hamsters, researchers found that blue light had the worst effects on mood-related measures, followed closely by white light.  But hamsters exposed to red light at night had significantly less evidence of depressive-like symptoms and changes in the brain linked to depression, compared to those that experienced blue or white light.  The only hamsters that fared better than those exposed to red light were those that had total darkness at night.  The study appears in the Aug. 7, 2013, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 AM | Permalink

How civil forfeiture laws are being used to target the innocent

In the New Yorker, TAKEN by Sarah Stillman

Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?

In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one. Unlike criminal forfeiture, which requires that a person be convicted of an offense before his or her property is confiscated, civil forfeiture amounts to a lawsuit filed directly against a possession, regardless of its owner’s guilt or innocence.
But a system that proved successful at wringing profits from drug cartels and white-collar fraudsters has also given rise to corruption and violations of civil liberties. Over the past year, I spoke with more than a hundred police officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and forfeiture plaintiffs from across the country. Many expressed concern that state laws designed to go after high-flying crime lords are routinely targeting the workaday homes, cars, cash savings, and other belongings of innocent people who are never charged with a crime.

Tip:  Don't ever drive through Tenaha, Texas.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:34 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2013

Chaos coming in October with security concerns with the Obamacare Data Hub

Just a couple of weeks ago, I posted that the Obamacare Data Hub was a 'Honey Pot' for ID Thieves  and last May, The IRS Leviathan is getting bigger  as it will be getting vast new powers  in health care.  It gets worse.

Former HHS Counsel: Obamacare’s Privacy-Protection System is ‘Chaos’

“It’s chaos,” Michael Astrue said on Fox News last night. HHS procrastinated in designing the system, he explained, ultimately throwing it together hastily in order to meet the October 1 date. “They played catch up, and they didn’t have the time and money to do it right — they started doing shortcuts,” he explained.

Avik Roy writes in Forbes HHS Inspector General: Obamacare Privacy Protections Way Behind Schedule; Rampant Violations Of Law Possible

In order for Obamacare to work, the government will need to know a lot about your financial, medical, and employment situation. Has the Obama administration set up adequate safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy under the law? According to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the answer is no. Based on OIG’s analysis, Obamacare’s exchanges may end up illegally exposing Americans’ private records to hackers and criminals.

Obama administration legally required to provide privacy safeguards  ….[it] must adhere to the guidelines of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in achieving these safeguards, before the Obamacare exchanges can legally operate.

Privacy safeguards are at least two months behind schedule…. according to Gloria Jarmon, Deputy Inspector General for Audit Services at HHS, “several critical tasks remain to be completed in a short period of time…If there are additional delays in completing the security authorization,” the chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may not have the required “security controls needed for the security authorization decision” to open the exchanges on October 1…..What makes them think that they can accomplish a 51-day review in just 10 days? They don’t. The Obama administration is so determined to get Obamacare up and running on time that they are likely to ignore the legal requirements to adequately review these privacy safeguards.
Social Security Commissioner: Obamacare exchanges are ‘the most widespread violation of the Privacy Act in our history’
Michael Astrue, who recently stepped down as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and also once served as HHS general council, is scathing in his condemnation for the Obamacare privacy breach.

“A functional and legally compliant federal exchange almost certainly will not be ready on October 1,” he writes in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard. “The reasons for failure are not short timelines (Congress gave HHS more than three years), political interference (Congress has not focused on ACA systems), or complexity (states have built well-designed exchanges). The reason is plain old incompetence and arrogance.”

According to Astrue, CMS “threw together an overly simplistic system without adequate privacy safeguards,” leaving exchange enrollees “open to identity theft, lost periods of health insurance coverage, and exposure of address for victims of domestic abuse and others…the beta version [of the exchanges] jammed through a few months ago will, unless delayed and fixed, inflict on the public the most widespread violation of the Privacy Act in our history.”

Delay Obamacare’s exchanges by one year  is one solution. 

By all means, sign the petition at Grant American People ObamaCare Exemption

IBD ObamaCare Poses a Massive Privacy Risk

Despite repeated assurances that the ObamaCare data hub is on schedule, a government audit finds that vital security measures to protect private information likely won't be ready by Oct. 1. The implications are profound.

As far back as December 2012, Obama administration officials were insisting that the data hub at the center of the ObamaCare exchanges was nearly finished.
Yet all the while, they were pushing back deadlines or missing them altogether, to the point where, unless ObamaCare's launch is delayed, millions of people's privacy will be at risk.

Obama officials may, in fact, have flat-out lied to lawmakers about the data hub's progress.
And HHS's chief information officer will now have just 10 days to review the final security assessment report before the hub goes live, instead of the seven weeks originally planned.  Deven McGraw of the Center for Democracy and Technology told Reuters that with these delays, "they've removed the margin for error."

Given the privacy risks involved with the data hub, this is completely unacceptable.
Obama officials — desperate to open the exchanges on time — continue to insist that the hub will be ready.  But given their track record, why should anyone believe them?

The bottom line is that if ObamaCare starts on Oct. 1 with an incomplete and unsecured data hub, it could create a privacy nightmare for millions of Americans.
If there were ever a reason to delay ObamaCare, this is it.

This is what the Obama data hub looks like:

 Obamacare Data Hub-2

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:17 PM | Permalink

Government spying is worse than we thought

The spying by the government on American citizens is so far beyond what anyone thought was possible, it's hard to comprehend its scope.  Except that it gets bigger and bigger.

New York Times. N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.

To conduct the surveillance,’ reads the report, ‘the NSA. is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border…[the] computer searches the data for the identifying keywords or other “selectors” and stores those that match so that human analysts could later examine them.’

Revealed: How the NSA will spy on you if you just put the word Osama in an email, text message or Facebook chat

By identifying the recipient of the emails or text messages as the target of the surveillance instead of the sender, the NSA sidesteps a 2008 law that allows spying on domestic soil without warrants as long as the target was a noncitizen abroad.
The official said the remaining emails, those not selected by the software, are deleted.  Nonetheless, privacy proponents were in disbelief.

‘The program described by the New York Times involves a breathtaking invasion of millions of people's privacy,’ American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. ‘The NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans' international communications, collecting and monitoring virtually all of them, and retaining some untold number of them in government databases. This is precisely the kind of generalized spying that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit.’

Reuters.  Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

"I have never heard of anything like this at all," said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

"It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."

In a follow-up article Reuters reports Exclusive: IRS manual detailed DEA's use of hidden intel evidence

Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.

The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.

Meanwhile, Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles

“It’s a very common complaint about N.S.A.,” said Timothy H. Edgar, a former senior intelligence official at the White House and at the office of the director of national intelligence. “They collect all this information, but it’s difficult for the other agencies to get access to what they want.”

“The other agencies feel they should be bigger players,” said Mr. Edgar, who heard many of the disputes before leaving government this year to become a visiting fellow at Brown University. “They view the N.S.A. — incorrectly, I think — as this big pot of data that they could go get if they were just able to pry it out of them.”

Report:  Feds Demand Major Internet Companies Turn Over User Passwords

The federal government has demanded that major internet companies turn over users’ stored passwords, two sources told the respected tech website CNet.
“If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user,” the report says. “Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.”  But it doesn’t end there. The government is not only requesting the passwords, but its also asking for algorithms and even security questions:

At the same time, the government is doing everything it can to protect its own secrets, today's example, the EPA

The EPA's Game of Secret Science  The agency pursues rules that will cost billions but refuses to reveal its research.

As the Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with some of the most costly regulations in history, there needs to be greater transparency about the claimed benefits from these actions. Unfortunately, President Obama and the EPA have been unwilling to reveal to the American people the data they use to justify their multibillion-dollar regulatory agenda.

To cite a few examples of where the EPA would like to take the country, the agency is moving forward with strict new limits on ozone that by its own estimates will cost taxpayers $90 billion per year, which would make the regulation the most costly in history. Other examples include a Mercury and Air Toxics Standard for power plants (previously known as "Utility MACT") that the EPA estimates could cost up to $10 billion a year. Yet more than 99% of the EPA's health-based justifications for the rule are derived from scientific research that the EPA won't reveal. Taxpayers are supposed to take on faith that EPA policy is backed by good science.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 PM | Permalink

What happened to Barnaby Jack?

Was this computer nerd killed after discovering how to murder anyone with a pacemaker?

When the acclaimed television drama  series Homeland climaxed with a devious plot by terrorists to kill America’s vice-president by hacking into his electronic pacemaker, critics scoffed at the ludicrousness of the idea.

But the outrageous storyline was thought credible by many in the world of computer security.  Among those was the New Zealand-born computer hacker Barnaby Jack.  The 35-year-old — who, unlike many in the business, used his skills ‘ethically’ — had spent his career demonstrating the dangers posed by unscrupulous hackers combined with computer manufacturers’ failure to install proper safety devices on equipment.
 Barnaby Jack
Jack thought it highly plausible that a terrorist could hack into someone’s pacemaker and speed up their heartbeat until it killed them.  He also believed it was possible to infect the pacemaker companies’ servers with a bug that would spread through their systems like a virus.

‘We are potentially looking at a “worm” with the ability to commit mass murder,’ he said. ‘It’s kind of scary.’ Jack certainly knew what he was talking about — having become famous after demonstrating how he could sabotage cash machines and make them dispense large sums of money (a trick he called ‘Jackpotting’) by hacking into a bank’s computer system.

Another stunt was to reveal how a diabetic’s insulin pump — which is designed to deliver insulin to the body day and night — could be hacked from 300ft away, so it could dispense a fatal dose.

Jack, who had been obsessed with computers since childhood, emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 21 and joined a firm specializing in computer security issues.
In recent years, he had developed a specific interest in what is known as ‘embedded’ technology, the hardware and software built into everyday objects such as cars, banking systems, home appliances and medical devices. Jack thought it plausible that someone could hack into a pacemaker and speed up their heartbeat until it killed them

He was preparing to demonstrate his work two days ago at a major computer-hacking convention in Las Vegas.

In an address to the Black Hat convention titled ‘Implantable medical devices: hacking humans’, Jack was due to show an audience of hackers and cyber security experts at Caesar’s Palace how he could hack into devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators.
However, he was never to give the demonstration. A week beforehand, Jack was found dead in his flat in the San Francisco neighborhood of Nob Hill. His body was believed to have been found by his girlfriend, Layne Cross, a 31-year-old model. According to friends, he was found dead in bed.

To say his sudden death  remains shrouded in mystery is putting it mildly.

Predictably, for someone who worked in such a shadowy world, there have been countless theories about how he was killed. Hackers are a suspicious bunch who have become even more paranoid since the U.S government’s efforts to silence whistleblowers such as ex-soldier Bradley Manning (who faces jail for leaking secret government cables to WikiLeaks).  The absence of even the most basic details about Barnaby Jack’s untimely death has ignited a firestorm of speculation that foul play could be involved.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink

August 2, 2013

"Hail Mary Moon" and "Diverging Destinies"

NYT: The Hail-Mary-Moon

Couples deal with relationship woes in many ways — from denial to outright war, and every fraught emotion in between. But for some, egged on by couples’ therapists and travel agents, the best way to address a rift in the marriage, and to see whether it can be healed, is to take a last-ditch vacation, maybe a beach getaway or a road trip à deux.

For the lucky ones, it works……For others, not so much.

People with money and education know the importance of marriage as the NYT finally noted in  Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

“It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

About 41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago. But equally sharp are the educational divides, according to an analysis by Child Trends, a Washington research group. Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent.
Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist, warns that family structure increasingly consigns children to “diverging destinies.”

Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time. By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man.

The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers,” Ms. McLanahan said. “The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go.”

She said, “I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

The IRS Stinks to High Heaven

Does anyone think this Administration will truly investigate the IRS?

Kim Strassel New Links Emerge in the IRS Scandal Emails released this week sweep the Federal Election Commission into the conservative-targeting probe.

Congressional investigators this week released emails suggesting that staff at the Federal Election Commission have been engaged in their own conservative targeting, with help from the IRS's infamous Lois Lerner. This means more than just an expansion of the probe to the FEC. It's a new link to the Obama team.

In May this column noted that the targeting of conservatives started in 2008, when liberals began a coordinated campaign of siccing the federal government on political opponents. The Obama campaign helped pioneer this tactic.
Thanks to Congress's newly released emails, we now know that FEC attorneys went to Ms. Lerner to pry out information about AIP—the organization the Obama campaign wanted targeted……Nine minutes after Ms. Lerner received this FEC email, she directed IRS attorneys to fulfill the request.

This matters because FEC staff didn't have permission from the Commission to conduct this inquiry. It matters because the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential information, even with the FEC

Is the IRS obstructing justice?  Telling graph at the link

The Internal Revenue Service has produced “less than one percent of the total documents requested in the Congressional inquiry into the IRS targeting of conservative groups,” the Ways and Means Committee announced in a statement Thursday morning, indicating that the agency’s actions are beginning “to look a lot like obstruction.”

“The IRS demands that hardworking Americans comply with its rules and regulations subject to strict deadlines, but it appears that same agency cannot comply with a straightforward Congressional request,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said in a statement.  “The IRS has not even produced one percent of responsive documents – that is inexcusable.  “The IRS has pledged accountability and transparency, but the slow production and compliance in this investigation begins to look a lot like obstruction,” Camp continued.

The IRS Mafia: Hush Money and Politics

Ex-IRS Employee: IRS targeting of Christine O’Donnell “not an aberration.”

Noonan: Fortress IRS Agency stonewalling could permanently harm Americans' faith in government.

In all the day-to-day of the IRS scandals I don't think it's been fully noticed that the overall reputation of the agency has suffered a collapse, the kind from which it can take a generation to recover fully. In the long term this will prove damaging to the national morale—what happens to a great nation when its people come to lack even rudimentary confidence in the decisions made by the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government?

It will also diminish the hope for faith in government, which whatever your politics is not a good thing. We need government, as we all know. Americans have a right to assume that while theirs may be deeply imperfect, it is not deeply corrupt.
One irony here is that the Obama White House, always keen to increase the reach and power of government, also seems profoundly disinterested in good governing. It is strange.
House investigators this week said they have in fact received less than 1% of the documents they have been asking for from the agency. The IRS itself at one point identified a whopping and rather intimidating 65 million documents that might be relevant to the tea-party scandal. To date—almost three months since the scandal became public—the House Ways and Means Committee says the IRS has turned over only 13,000 pages. And some of them were duplicates.

IRS fails to release political groups' financial filings    Agency won't say why it's withholding normally accessible 527 group disclosures.

IBD  Media Can't Ignore New Developments In IRS Scandal

Lew, Carney and Obama himself act like people worried about a threat lying a little farther under investigators' shovels. And they should be considering the suspicious timeline of Obama-appointed IRS chief counsel William Wilkins visiting the president on April 23 last year; IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visiting the White House the next day; and Wilkins' office sending the IRS "guidance" on the Tea Party the day after that.

The IRS is one of the most powerful, frightening arms of the U.S. government. ObamaCare, about to be implemented, will mean "an unprecedented and unauthorized expansion of IRS power," bypassing Congress' constitutionally defined taxing powers, warns a soon-to-be-released book, "Impeachable Offenses."

If we find our tax-collection agency helped re-elect a president under political orders, Watergate could look trivial by comparison.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 PM | Permalink

Benghazi: Pressure on CIA officials NOT to talk

If it's a 'phoney' scandal, why the coverup?

CNN's Jake Tapper.  Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack

Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.

The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well."

Another says, "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation."
Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

Almost from the beginning, I've suspected the U.S. was transporting weapons from Libya to the rebels in Syria, but I never thought that included surface-to-air missiles.  Naively I thought the Administration would at least brief the Intelligence Committees.

Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic The Attack in Benghazi: Worth Investigating After All

CNN reports that dozens of CIA agents were on the ground there -- and that they're being pressured to keep quiet. Why?

Trey Gowdy: Administration Is Hiding Benghazi Survivors All Over the Country to Block Us From Interviewing Them

The implication, very clearly, is that this is being done not to protect intelligence assets from terrorist retribution but to “protect” them from Republicans asking inconvenient questions. Which isn’t the first time the GOP’s had trouble talking to relevant personnel: Marine Col. George Bristol was somehow indisposed for months, with the Pentagon unwilling to reveal his whereabouts to investigators, before the House Armed Services Committee finally landed him for a classified briefing this past week

All quiet on the White House front: No press briefing following Benghazi bombshell

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:26 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2013

Hollywood and Hitler

 Hitler At The Movies

How Hollywood bowed to the wishes of Hitler: 1930s studio bosses censored and dropped films at the requests of Nazis - and one MGM exec even agreed to divorce his Jewish wife

A Harvard film scholar has revealed in terrifying detail how Hollywood was at the whim of the Nazis throughout the 1930s - censoring films and dropping others in a sinister collaboration with Hitler.

In one particularly extreme case, one non-Jewish MGM executive divorced his Jewish wife at the demand of Germany's Propaganda Ministry - and she ended up in a concentration camp

In his new book, Ben Urwand has revealed how studios including MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox failed to stand up to Hitler and painted his regime as heroic and desirable.

'I want to bring out a hidden episode in Hollywood history and an episode that has not been reported accurately,' the Harvard scholar said.

Although other film historians dispute it, Urwand said studio chiefs were happy to work with Nazi censors to change or cancel productions so that they could keep access to the German film market.  From 1932, Nazi laws meant studios could have their licenses revoked if they produced films, shown in Germany or abroad, that were considered offensive to Germans.  Urwand believes that filmmakers not only wanted to continue working during the build up to the war, they also thought Hitler may win the war and wanted to safeguard the future of their businesses.

In his book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler, which has been excerpted in the Hollywood Reporter, in Urwand said that Hollywood was happy to bow to Hitler's demands.

For example, when All Quiet on the Western Front was released in December 1930, Joseph Goebbels told protesters to set off stink bombs and release mice in the movie theaters.  It caused such disruptions throughout theaters that the films were stopped and it was eventually banned from the country, due to how Germans felt they had been depicted.
In the mid-1930s, relationships between studios and prominent Nazis grew and Paramount hired a manager for its German branch, Paul Thiefes, who was a member of the Nazi party.  It was at the time that the head of MGM in Germany, Frits Strengholt, divorced his Jewish wife at the request of the Propaganda Ministry.
They paid attention to workers too; German composers dubbed music originally created by Jewish musicians, while names were slashed from credits if they had dealt with anti-Nazi films in the past.

Bill Donovan of the Catholic League comments in Hollywood and Hitler

Standing against the Hollywood moguls, Urwand says, was Joseph Breen, the Irish Catholic official who worked for, and eventually succeeded, Will Hays of the so-called Hays Office; the private association monitored Hollywood movies for objectionable fare. Looks like Breen’s commitment to decency trumped Hollywood’s commitment to cash.  Breen was not a fan of the way Hollywood conducted itself, but he did not balk when asked by the two authors of the Hays Code, Martin Quigley and Jesuit priest Father Daniel Lord, to make a public statement condemning anti-Semitism in 1939.
When the Catholic League merely criticizes a movie, we are tagged a censor. When Hollywood studio chiefs cooperate with Chinese government agents by altering their films, they find ways to congratulate themselves. For example, Steven Soderbergh welcomes the input of Communist censors: “It’s fascinating to listen to people’s interpretation of your story.” He must have learned his obsequiousness from those who collaborated with Hitler.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

Oprah says millions of people were lynched

In an interview in Parade magazine, Oprah Winfrey decries Americans' Ignorance on civil rights and laments the 'millions' of blacks lynched.   

How embarrassing for her that

Historians at the Tuskegee Institute estimate that approximately 3,446 African-Americans were lynched from 1882-1968.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

"It's better to hold the door for a woman than to let it slam in her face."

There may be a chance now that it's being touted in the New York Times which has discovered, Chivalry Is a Virtue We Should All Aspire To  by Emily Esfahani Smith.

Ordinary people are seeing that chivalry contributes to healthy relationships. A recent study in the academic journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that chivalry is associated with greater life satisfaction among men and women. An initiative called the Gentlemen’s Showcase, led by college women on campuses across the country for the past few years, rewards young men for helping out others in need. And perhaps most important, a major study of more than 10,000 people from around the world — one of the largest studies of its kind — found that the No. 1 attribute that both young men and women seek in a mate is not money or beauty or intelligence, but kindness, which lies at the heart of the chivalrous act.
Being good — being noble — is also at the heart of chivalry. As a society, we can agree that certain types of behavior are better than others. It is, for instance, better to hold the door open for a woman than to let it slam in her face; it is better to give up your seat to someone in need rather than let that person stand in your stead; it is better to forgo a late-night cab when a stranger with young kids needs it more.

Chivalry is, as Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield might say, a manly virtue, but that does not mean that women cannot be chivalrous too. The essence of chivalry is self-sacrifice. Whether or not we name that selflessness chivalry, the compassion that stands behind it is something we should celebrate.

 Live With Chivalry

Glenn Reynolds comments "Chivalry was a system, and one that made demands on women every bit as much as on men." 

One commenter said, "Women were expected to behave in a chaste manner and be loyal to their husbands and supportive (in the traditional woman's role sense) of the warriors who were sacrificing for them."

Reynolds replied, "Precisely. It was a system involving mutual obligations; with one set deemed obsolete, it's absurd to expect the other set to continue as before."

I looked up the first reference in the article in the Psychology of Women Quarterly where chivalry is described as "benevolent sexism", Why Is Benevolent Sexism Appealing? Associations With System Justification and Life Satisfaction.    The authors make this astonishing conclusion:

Our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.

The major study referred to in the article, published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 1989  is entitled  Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures by David M. Buss Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, but I had to search through almost impenetrable language for what is indeed  the most important conclusion which was almost an aside in the main text and discussed no further.

Both sexes rated the characteristics 'kind-understanding' and 'intelligent'  higher than earning power and attractiveness in all samples, suggesting the species-typical preferences may be more potent than sex-linked preferences.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

"Christianity, bad; Islam, good."

Michael Barone Obama administration: Some religions are more equal than others

The Obama administration “strongly objects” to a proposed House amendment to the defense authorization bill which would require, in the words of its sponsor, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., “the Armed Forces to accommodate ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the member...

Fleming points to evidence that Christian service members and chaplains are being penalized for expressing their faith. Examples:

•  The Air Force censored a video created by a chaplain because it include the word “God.” The Air Force feared the word might offend Muslims and atheists.
A service member received a “severe and possibly career-ending reprimand” for expressing his faith’s religious position about homosexuality in a personal religious blog.

A senior military official at Fort Campbell sent out a lengthy email officially instructing officers to recognize “the religious right in America” as a “domestic hate group” akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.

• A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because, consistent with DOMA’s definition of marriage, he could not allow same-sex weddings to take place in the chapel.
There’s a tension between this policy–arguably suppressing expressions of Christian faith–with the White House’s assurance, according to Investor’s Business Daily, that FBI surveillance not including any investigation of mosques.

So, it appears, Christian religious expression must be suppressed, while Muslim religious expression cannot even be monitored. … But it sure looks like a double standard to me: Christianity, bad; Islam, good. I seem to remember, from some ancient reading, the phrase, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

I love belly timber and rain napper

Tyler Vendetti has her say on these wonderful words that are rarely heard today

Mackintosh/Macintosh (n.): waterproof raincoat

Pusillanimity (n.): cowardliness

Belly Timber (n.): food

Wiseacres (n.): a know-it-all

Habiliments (n.): clothing

Messmates (n.): a person with whom one eats with regularly

Cavil (v.): to raise trivial objections; a quibble

Palaver (v.): to talk unnecessarily at length; a long parley usually between persons of different cultures or levels of sophistication; tedious business

Chafe (n.): argument, dispute

Rain Napper (n.): umbrella
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink