Andrew Reynolds: North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy (News & Observer)
When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.
Marc Dion: Alt-rightnik (Creators Syndicate)
There is a word, a word in Yiddish, the kind of Yiddish we speak in America, and the word is "alrightnik." An alrightnik is a person who's done well for him/herself, made some money, but is still a crude, ill-mannered slob.
Clive James: 'Trump's boasts spring from an aching wish' (The Guardian)
Any man who drivels about women when he is alone with a man has no clue what to say when alone with a woman.
Hadley Freeman: Chrismukkah? I'll light a candle to that (The Guardian)
I might say my prayers in Hebrew instead of Latin but I want to eat chocolate Santas for 10 days straight, too, OK?
Edward Helmore: Largest US police union asks Amazon to pull 'offensive' Black Lives Matter shirt (The Guardian)
An open letter is urging the online retailer to follow Walmart and drop the sale of the T-shirt, which carries the words 'Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter.'
Avril Lavigne attacks Mark Zuckerberg over Nickelback put-down (The Guardian)
The singer and ex-wife of Nickelback's frontman says Facebook CEO is 'promoting bullying' after a video suggesting the band have no good songs.
Jonathan Jones: Stallone refused Trump's arts job - but who will take this poisoned chalice? (The Guardian)
The actor and part-time painter was right to decline a role as chief of the National Endowment of the Arts. Whoever takes it will be tainted by a hellish reign.
Jonathan Jones: Ignore the snobs - Monet is a contender for the greatest artist ever (The Guardian)
A Monet pastel gifted to the Scottish National Gallery shows how powerful the impressionist is - a genius creator of poetic symbolism.
David Bruce: WISE UP! Archive (Athens News)
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
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David Bruce has over 80 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
"Doug's Most Shared Facebook Post" Today
Michelle in AZ
Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
A PEACE OF SHIT!
A RACE TO THE FINISH!
"PEACE ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN."
PEACE BE WITH US. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
Over an inch of rain!
Conservation Area To Help Wildlife
Bear River Watershed
A federal agency has established a 7,000-square-mile watershed conservation area in three Western states that includes major migration corridors for birds and mammals, officials said Thursday.
The Bear River Watershed Conservation Area in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming is part of a plan to protect wildlife habitat by buying perpetual conservation easements from willing private landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
The agency said it has identified some 1,400 square miles of potential easements that connects the northern and southern Rocky Mountains.
The conservation area includes national wildlife refuges in each state and the 500-mile Bear River. The river starts in the Uinta Mountains in Utah and flows north into Wyoming before making a U-turn in Idaho and flowing south back into Utah where it becomes the largest surface water source for the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.
The river is noteworthy for not having an outlet to an ocean as well as ending its 500-mile path just 60 miles from where it originates.
Bear River Watershed
Discovery Wins Award
It has been a great year for scientists associated with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). In February, and then again in June, researchers at LIGO - which consists of two detectors, one each in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana - announced that they had discovered gravitational waves created by two black holes colliding 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.
Since then, the LIGO collaboration has earned several accolades, including a $3 million award given to its researchers by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, the journal Nature naming LIGO spokeswoman Gabriela Gonzalez to its list of "10 people who mattered this year," and the magazine Physics World - published by the London-based Institute of Physics - naming the gravitational wave discovery the "Breakthrough of the Year"
Now, the significance of the discovery has been acknowledged once again - this time by the journal Science, which also named the discovery the "Breakthrough of the Year."
"The achievement fulfilled a 100-year-old prediction, opened up a potential new branch of astronomy, and was a stunning technological accomplishment," the journal said in a statement.
Scans Unveil Secrets
The world's oldest mummies have just had an unusual check-up.
More than 7,000 years after they were embalmed by the Chinchorro people, an ancient civilization in modern-day Chile and Peru, 15 mummies were taken to a Santiago clinic last week to undergo DNA analysis and computerized tomography scans.
The Chinchorro were a hunting and fishing people who lived from 10,000 to 3,400 BC on the Pacific coast of South America, at the edge of the Atacama desert.
They were among the first people in the world to mummify their dead. Their mummies date back some 7,400 years -- at least 2,000 years older than Egypt's.
The 15 Chinchorro mummies, mostly children and unborn babies, were put through a CT scanner at the Los Condes clinic in the Chilean capital.
Alabama Town Expanding Attractions
Nearly a year after the death of Harper Lee, a group in south Alabama hopes to develop new attractions and bring more tourists to the novelist's hometown of Monroeville, which helped inspire both "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Go Set a Watchman."
Working with Lee's attorney Tonja Carter and others, local businessman and philanthropist George Landegger has purchased the 1909 bank building that housed the one-time office of Lee's father A.C. Lee - who served as the model for attorney Atticus Finch in both books.
Organizers plan to renovate the 6,000-square-foot building and convert it into a museum in Monroeville, where Lee died in February 2016. Other attractions could be added later, including renovations of historic structures and reproductions of places mentioned in the books. A museum in the old county courthouse already prominently features Lee and author Truman Capote, childhood friend of Lee.
Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, who has been involved with discussions about the project, answered questions about plans to spruce up Monroeville, which served as Lee's model for fictional Macomb in both "Mockingbird," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and "Watchman," which Lee actually wrote first but released decades later in 2015.
Scraps KKK Series
A&E is scrapping plans for an eight-part documentary series about the Ku Klux Klan after finding out that some participants of the hate group were paid for their work on it.
The network said Saturday it was dropping "Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America" a day after discovering that "nominal" cash payments were given by third-party producers.
"While we stand behind the intent of the series and the seriousness of the content, these payments are a direct violation of A&E's policies and practices for a documentary," the network said in statement.
"Escaping the KKK" was to follow people trying to extract themselves from the racist and anti-Semitic hate group. The network had promised that no payments would be made.
The project triggered wide criticism as soon as it was announced earlier this month. The network, which originally titled the series "Generation KKK," changed the name and enlisted civil rights groups to collaborate on in-show educational content after getting heat for allowing the KKK's hate speech to be aired.
Cell-Tracking Case Appealed
7th Circuit Court
A dissenting opinion by a federal appeals court judge on police use of secret cellphone tracking technology has convinced a Milwaukee man to take his case a step further.
Attorneys for Damian Patrick filed a petition this week asking for a rehearing in front of the full U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, after losing a split decision in November to the court's three-judge panel. It's the first time the use of cell tower simulators, known as stingrays, has reached a federal appellate court, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
"It is time for the stingray to come out of the shadows, so that its use can be subject to the same kind of scrutiny as other mechanisms, such as thermal imaging devices, GPS trackers, pen registers, beepers, and the like," 7th Circuit Judge Diane Wood wrote in her dissenting opinion. "Its capabilities go far beyond any of those."
Stingrays are suitcase-sized devices that imitate a cellphone tower and draw signals from all nearby cellphones, not just the targeted number. It allows police to zero in on the phone's location, down to a specific apartment in a building. The phones don't have to be in operation, and some versions of the technology can even intercept content, like texts and calls, or pull information stored on the phones.
A U.S. House committee report issued Monday said clearer guidelines are needed for law enforcement's use of secretive and intrusive cellphone tracking technology, and police and federal agents should be upfront with a judge about their deployment.
7th Circuit Court
$50M To Buy Another Term
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner contributed $50 million to his own campaign fund as he prepares to seek re-election in 2018 - a record-setting amount that Republicans said was intended as a warning to Democrats considering challenging him.
The money from the multimillionaire former private equity investor, made public in documents filed Thursday, appeared to be the largest single donation any candidate for state office has given his or her own campaign, campaign finance experts said. Rauner's team indicated there was more to come, describing it as a "first installment."
The Illinois GOP, funded almost entirely by Rauner, already has been attacking potential candidates in online ads and email blasts.
"It's intended to intimidate people," said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "It's a pretty big statement by the governor that's intended to scare away opposition in the governor's race and put pressure on the Legislature."
Rauner has clashed with Democrats who control the Statehouse since even before he took office, pushing a pro-business and anti-union agenda he says is needed to repair decades of Illinois' financial mismanagement. Democrats have pushed back, saying Rauner's plans would hurt working families.
The result has been a stalemate unseen in Illinois history. Lawmakers have been unable to agree on a state budget, causing steep cuts to social services, higher education and other programs. The state now has a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and a nearly $11 billion backlog of unpaid bills.
More than 54,000 people in the southern German city of Augsburg will have to leave their homes Christmas morning while authorities defuse a giant 1.8-ton aerial bomb from World War II.
The city's medieval cathedral and City Hall are in the area to be sealed off. Police said Saturday that no one would be allowed into the surrounding streets after about 8 a.m. Sunday and everyone must be out by 10 a.m.
Schools will be opened for people who can't stay with relatives or friends. Police said that people can bring their pets to shelters and that public transportation will be free Christmas morning.
Finding bombs from the war is not unusual in Germany. This evacuation, however, is even bigger than the 45,000 people temporarily evacuated to remove a bomb in Koblenz in 2011.
Large parts of Augsburg were destroyed on Feb. 25-26, 1944, when the city was attacked by hundreds of British and U.S. bombers.
Ache People Exiled From Forests
Forced from their ancestral forests by the arrival of big agriculture in eastern Paraguay, the Ache people gave up the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that had sustained them for centuries.
Now they have taken up farming themselves -- and they want their old land back.
The Ache's homeland was remade in the 1970s by the mass arrival of industrial farmers from neighboring Brazil.
A territory of fertile land and abundant rivers, the tropical region provided the lush backdrop for the 1986 Academy Award-winning film "The Mission."
The changes were devastating for the Ache, who had managed to preserve their way of life despite centuries of clashes with white colonizers from Spain and Portugal.
Rick Parfitt, a hard-rocking British guitarist and songwriter who had multiple hits over the decades with the rock band Status Quo, has died in Spain at age 68.
His manager, Simon Porter, and Parfitt's family said in a statement that Parfitt died in a hospital in Marbella, Spain, on Saturday from a severe infection.
Status Quo formed in the 1960s and kept legions of devoted fans throughout the years. His partnership with Francis Rossi provided sparks on stage and in the studio. They were most popular in Britain but had followers in dozens of countries.
Parfitt was known for his aggressive style, often played on his signature 1965 white Fender Telecaster or other similar models. He wrote some of Status Quo's best known songs including "Whatever You Want" and "Backwater."
The band's website said Parfitt was known as "The Womorr," which stands for "the wild old man of rock and roll" but added that had changed to "mild" over the years.
The band played one of the biggest concerts in history when they opened the Live Aid show in London in 1985, ripping into a version of "Rockin' All Over the World" that left the crowd delirious.
Porter said Parfitt is survived by his wife Lyndsay and four children: Tommy, Lily, Rick Jr. and Harry.
Piers Sellers, a climate scientist and former astronaut who gained fame late in life for his eloquent commentary about the earth's fragility and his own cancer diagnosis, has died. He was 61.
Sellers died Friday morning in Houston of pancreatic cancer, NASA said in a statement.
Sellers shared his astronaut's perspective on climate change in Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary, "Before the Flood," released this fall. He told DiCaprio that seeing the earth's atmosphere as a "tiny little onion skin" from space helped him gain a fuller understanding of the planet's delicacy.
He also wrote a New York Times op-ed about grappling with the meaning of his life's work after learning he had terminal cancer. In both the film and the op-ed, he was optimistic, arguing that he expected human ingenuity to rescue the planet from a dire future of runaway global warming.
In the op-ed, Sellers wrote that the best way he could imagine spending his final months was to continue working, despite knowing he would not live to see the worst of climate change or the harnessing of possible solutions.
"New technologies have a way of bettering our lives in ways we cannot anticipate. There is no convincing, demonstrated reason to believe that our evolving future will be worse than our present, assuming careful management of the challenges and risks," Sellers wrote. "History is replete with examples of us humans getting out of tight spots."
The British-born Sellers was deputy director for sciences and exploration at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He started working for NASA as a scientist in 1982 and joined its astronaut corps in 1996. He made three flights to the International Space Station, the last in 2010.
"Howard Stern Show" star Joey Boots died in New York City Friday, TMZ reported. He was 49 years old.
Boots was best known as one of Stern's "Wack Packers." He was famous for his "Baba Booey" line.
Boots, whose birth name was, Joseph Bassolino, was found in Bronx apartment around 9:45 p.m. Friday night after police received a call for a male in need of medical attention. Boots was pronounced dead on arrival.
His cause of death is currently unknown, but is being investigated by the medical examiner. There was no apparent trauma, the New York Daily News
High Pitch Erik, who is a fellow Wack Packer, checked on Boots after he didn't show up to a scheduled gig. The two worked on the podcast, "The Joey Boots Show."
Their last podcast was titled, "Drown Vinnies Kids in The Tub." "The Guys probe Joey about his previous dating before he came out - High Pitch Erik is asked about how he and his Jewish family celebrated Christmas - Technical difficulty - Stupid broad calls in and gets hung up on - the boys discuss the attractiveness of Middle-Eastern women - High Pitch tells why his lawyer Vinny has to die. Callers wish Gonzo a happy 31st birthday - What does High Pitch know about #PizzaGate," the description reads.