Dave Stancliff AS IT STANDS blogarama.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014

‘To be, or not to be’ Scotland voting for Independence today

“The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!”
Robert Burns- To a Mouse.

Good Day World!

Today is the big day for more than 4.2 million registered voters (97% of the adult population) in Scotland. A lot of planning has gone on to reach this point.

Independence versus remaining part of the United Kingdom is on the table. Britain's government agreed to recognize the referendum, gambling that the Scots wouldn’t break up the union.

Oops! That might not have been a good idea.

With polls suggesting that a Scottish split from the rest of Britain is a real possibility, lawmakers including Prime Minister David Cameron are making urgent appeals to save Britain its biggest constitutional upheaval since the Wars of Independence that led to the creation of the United States.

Here’s some backround on the historic referendum:

BRIEF HISTORY 

Scotland was an independent country until 1707, when the Act of Union with England led to the creation of Great Britain and, ultimately, the United Kingdom -- which also includes Northern Ireland.

WHY DOES THE US WANT SCOTLAND TO STAY IN THE UK?

One really big reason: The US is nervous about the future of the joint U.S. and U.K. nuclear deterrent system.

Scotland is home to 58 U.S. Trident II D-5 missiles leased from Washington by the British government, but Scotland’s government wants to ban nuclear weapons on moral grounds within four years of gaining independence.

If Scotland becomes an independent country that could force London to relocate the weapons to alternative bases in England or return the weapons to the U.S., costing billions of dollars and leaving NATO without a European nuclear deterrent precisely at a time of heightened security concern.

WHAT’S THE ARGUMENT FOR INDEPENDENCE?

The ‘Yes’ campaign is led by First Minister Alex Salmond, whose Scottish National Party has governed since 2007.

It says Scots should have total control of their own affairs and that revenue from Scotland’s offshore oil fields would sustain the country’s economy.

Support for independence was boosted by the election in 2010 of a Conservative British government, angering voters in Scotland where the Conservative party remains deeply unpopular.

THE CASE FOR STAYING UNITED

The ‘No’ campaign says and independent Scotland would be weaker on the world stage and would have to raise taxes to pay for the replication of institutions and services currently shared with England, such as defense forces and state pensions. Many cross-border businesses have warned that they might withdraw from Scotland in the event of independence, threatening jobs.

WHAT WOULD AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND LOOK LIKE?

Scotland’s 5.3 million citizens represent about eight percent of the total U.K. population and would create a new country bigger than Ireland (4.5 million) but smaller than Denmark (5.5 million). (Snippets from NBC News)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

One may ride a free horse to death.” Old Scottish Proverb

Time for me to walk on down the road…

 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pop Culture Satanism: Worshippers Want To Educate the Public

Good Day World!

About a week ago I ran a post about Satanism being practiced in America.

Since then, I’ve gotten some interesting feedback that spurred me to post more on the subject today. 

I’ve been accused of being “narrow-minded” (among other things) on the subject of Satanism. I think I’m a pretty open-minded type of guy, and as a journalist I’ve always sought neutrality on every news subject I covered.

Some readers felt I was mocking their religion (Satanism). Not so. I have to admit it’s not my cup of tea, but I’m not going on any witch hunts soon. Speaking for the Boomer Generation, the Devil is a downer in our books!

Despite my feelings about Satanism, I’m sharing another article that gives some insight into the upcoming Black Mass to be held in Oklahoma (September 21st). Like nearly everything these days, political correctness has a way of repudiating the beliefs I grew up with.

Nevertheless, it’s what happening in our country today and deserves a look:

NO SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: WHY PEOPLE FEAR SATANISM

“A public ceremony of Satanists planned in Oklahoma City this month has prompted protests, a lawsuit from the Catholic Church, talk of a "black mass," and even the airing of laws against bloodletting. 

Such public images of fear are not uncommon when it comes to Satanist groups, though they may not be justified.

The ceremony for the Oklahoma City Satanists is slated for Sept. 21 in the city's civic center and requires a ticket for admission. Officials from the city could not legally bar the group, as doing so would violate their First Amendment rights.

Officials did warn, however, that all laws must be followed, including fire codes and those involving public nudity; a spokeswoman for the parks and recreation department noted:

"No bloodletting of any kind will be allowed." (Though bloodletting and animal sacrifice are popularly associated with Satanism, they have historically been part of many religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.) (Tales of the Top 10 Craziest Cults)

The event has been described in the news media as a "black mass," which, as James Lewis notes in his book "Satanism Today: An Encyclopedia of Religion, Folklore, and Popular Culture" (ABC-CLIO, 2001), "refers to a blasphemous parody of a conventional [Catholic] Mass that was traditionally thought to be the central rite of Satanism."

This ritual was typically said to involve perverse orgies, a torrent of various bodily fluids, obscene gestures and even "a black candle made from the fat of unbaptized babies," Lewis wrote.

The satanic group, Dakhma of Angra Mainyu, is using the event to make a point about freedom of religion and to educate people about their beliefs, according to news reports. "One of the dictates of the church is not only to educate the members but to educate the public and to debunk the Hollywood-projected image of our beliefs," one of the group's co-founders, Adam Daniels, told ABC News.

The popular image of Satanists as sinister and bloodthirsty is largely a sensationalized fictional Hollywood creation. (Witches & Wiccans: 6 Common Misconceptions)

Religious leaders in Oklahoma are upset that the Satanists are mocking Christianity and indeed they're right; much of the modern occult movement can be seen as a reaction to, and rejection of, mainstream religions and especially Catholicism.

But it's also a political statement: Where one religion has been allowed a place in public spaces such as civic centers, parks and courthouses, other, lesser-known religious organizations such as satanic churches have requested and received similar privileges.

It's not clear what exactly the "black mass" will involve, though the ceremony will include a woman in lingerie, blasphemous costumes, profanity, an unconsecrated host, and end with a mock exorcism, suggests the ABC News report.

The proceedings will likely be heavy on theater and spectacle; the shock value of Satanists holding a ritual in Oklahoma City is worth the price of admission for many.” (read the entire story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 6 Most Likely Democratic Candidates to Run for President in 2016

Good Day World!

When President Obama’s second term ends there’s going to be a huge vacuum in the Democratic Party.

The question today: “ Who is going to fill that vacuum?”

Can you think of anyone other than Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden? Don’t feel bad if you can’t. Most Americans would be hard-pressed to come up with other possibilities.

I suspect the Democratic lineup of presidential candidates for 2016 are going to look a lot like the clowns the Republicans featured on the last go-around.

In other words, a circus. If there’s any consolation for liberals it’s the likelihood that the Republicans will be fielding yet another new round of clowns. There is a slight possibility that one of the last group of GOP clowns, Mitt Romney, may try to join the upcoming presidential candidate circus.

Hillary has been playing coy about her White House ambitions. If I were a betting man, I’d say she’s going to run for the presidency.The First Lady-turned US Senator-turned-Secretary of State is the most frequently mentioned possible candidate.

Age may be an issue for her, however. Hillary will be 69 years old in 2016. Ronald Reagan was 69 when he won in 1980.

“Say it ain’t so” the gaffe-prone, Joe Biden, has hinted at running in 2016. Vice-Presidents are typically shoe-ins for their party’s next nomination should they seek it.

Again, age may be an issue for Joe; he’ll be 74 in 2016. While he did not fare well in the 2008 nominating contest, he was selected as Obama’s running-mate allegedly for his foreign policy “expertise.”

I’d say his chances are pretty slim. The GOP would probably love to see him as their opponent which would automatically have the effect of making their new crop of clowns more viable.

Have you ever heard of Cory Booker?

Like Obama, Booker was raised in a mostly well-to-do family, attended the best schools and universities, graduated from law school, and immediately became involved in politics.

He is much more experienced than Obama was in the sense that at least he was a mayor of a city.

The downside…most Americans would say “Who is this guy?” His national profile is knee-high to an ant.

Then we have the ‘polarizerAndrew Cuomo. You either love or hate this guy.

Andrew is the most experienced of the potential field. He served as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Bill Clinton and as New York Attorney General before being elected Governor of New York.

His executive experience in New York and political pedigree would typically be enough to make him a frontrunner for a presidential nomination.

I believe he’s too controversial to go very far. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’ll give it a shot – he certainly has the money to kick-start a campaign.

Another possible longshot candidate from a big city with a high profile is

Antonio Villaraigosa. If you don’t live in California however, the chances you’ve heard his name are pretty slim.

Antonio gets extra points for having one of the longest political resumes of the potential 2016 Democratic field.

He has been mayor of Los Angeles since 2005. If he runs for president, he would be a clear dark horse.

The last possibility would be Julian Castro.

His experience as mayor of San Antonio, Texas, since 2009 is encouraging. If anybody stood a chance to mimic Barack Obama’s political path it would be Julian.

He’s young, and has a reputation for being a gifted orator, a good statesman,and a charismatic person. Most Americans probably haven’t even heard of him, unless they’re from Texas.

He may be a regional star, but is only a dim light on the national scene. But as Obama proved, anything is possible.

After rambling around the internet, this group is the best I could come up with. If you can think of another possible candidate, please don’t hesitate to share!

Time for me to walk on down the road..

Monday, September 15, 2014

Afghanistan, Iraq Wars: US Leaving a Legacy of Chaos

                                  Good Day World!

It doesn’t take a prophet to see Afghanistan is descending into chaos when American and NATO troops leave the country at the end of this year. The situation will probably look very similar to what’s happening in Iraq right now.

After over a decade of lost lives and billions of dollars the country will probably default back to the Taliban. The signs are already apparent: 

"Afghanistan is on the brink of descending back into chaos and civil war,” Afghan lawmaker Nisar Haress told NBC News. “The situation is getting worse every passing day."

The outcome of the April election was seen as a make-or-break moment for Afghanistan’s future, with billions of dollars of funds tied to the success of a free and fair election.

The U.S. had high hopes for the vote, deeming it a critical test not just of Afghanistan’s ability to ensure a stable transition but also to measure the impact a decade of Western intervention had had on the country.” (source)

To say the whole electoral process collapsed in April is an understatement. The two presidential candidates are acting like greedy little babies. Their actions are taking the country to the brink of a breakdown:

“The United Nations threatened on Saturday to cut aid to Afghanistan if its staff are harassed, responding to tensions surrounding its participation in a drawn-out and bitter investigation into fraud in the still-unresolved presidential election.

The warning came a day after dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Kabul headquarters of the world body and accused it of aiding vote-rigging. It was another sign of heightened anxiety in the run-up to the release of final election results over the next week.

Analysts and officials are fearful the political impasse could embolden the Taliban to stage more brazen attacks – and to seize the opportunity to present themselves as a viable alternative to out-of-touch and paralyzed politicians.” (source)

The Taliban are gaining confidence,according to The International Crisis Group. "Ongoing withdrawals of international soldiers have generally coincided with a deterioration of Kabul's reach in outlying districts," an ICG report said in May.

You want to know the kicker? The US Reconstruction of Afghanistan Is The Most Expensive in US History.

“Washington's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said the U.S. has provided more than $104 billion to rebuild Afghanistan -- more money than the United States has spent on reconstruction for any one country in history.” (source)

All of the above is bad enough, but what are we going to do when Afghanistan becomes the Taliban’s playground again?

I look at what’s happening in Iraq and have a sinking feeling that Afghanistan is going the same route by next year.

One thing is for sure, billions of taxpayer dollars have been thrown down the drain in pursuit of global ambitions.

Have either of these wars accomplished anything? I certainly don’t think so. All I can do however, is to watch and wonder when we’ll ever learn our lesson – invading countries in the name of freedom is a horrible waste of lives and money!

Time for me to walk on down the road… 

 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

200th Anniversary: The Surprising Origins of the Star-Spangled Banner

Good Day World!

Happy anniversary Star Spangled Banner!

Did you know the melody is from an old song about drinking and sex?

Today is the anniversary of the bombarding of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812’s “Battle of Baltimore” on Sept. 13 to Sept. 14, 1814.

I thought it would be fun to look at the history of the song, The Star-Spangled Banner, that came about after that historic battle.

I strongly suspect most readers will be surprised at the origins of our National Anthem:

“At dawn, Francis Scott Key was able to see the U.S. flag waving over the fort, as he noted in his opening lines.

Key was on a British ship, part of a U.S. delegation to negotiate a prisoner release. He was kept on board to prevent the American forces from being tipped off about the forthcoming bombing by the British.

He was allowed to return to Baltimore on Sept. 14 and was so inspired by the U.S. pluckiness that he wrote a poem, "Defence of Fort M'Henry," which he published on Sept. 20, 1814.

Key wrote his poem to fit the beat and melody of British composer John Stafford Smith's "To Anacreon in Heaven" -- a popular tune Key had used for an earlier hymn to America’s military might, "When the Warrior Returns," which celebrated U.S. heroes of the First Barbary War.

Neither Key's early hymn nor the Barbary War is widely taught in American schools anymore (except for the reference in the Marines’ Hymn: “To the shores of Tripoli”).

Most elementary school classes note that the music for "The Star-Spangled Banner" came from a British drinking song. But in his well-received book, historian Marc Ferris, author of “Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America's National Anthem” (John Hopkins University Press, August 2014) gives a more sophisticated reading.

“The words of ‘To Anacreon in Heaven,’ the song that Francis Scott Key borrowed for the melody of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' is a sly 1700’s paean to drinking and sex. Though understated, the line 'I’ll instruct you, like me to entwine; The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s vine' is unambiguous,” he wrote.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" continued to gain in popularity over the decades and was backed by John Philip Sousa, who knew a thing or two about rousing music. It was officially made the national anthem in 1931 by President Hoover. (Condensed version. Full story found at LA Times Nation Now)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Swamp creature named after Mick Jagger, Sleepwalker walks off cliff, Ferrari stolen twice by same guy

Good Day World!

How’d you like to be known for your big lips?

Better yet, how’d you like to have an animal named after you?

Mick “The Lips” Jagger recently had a swamp creature named after him.

I know that being named after a fossil of an extinct pig-like swamp creature doesn’t sound like much of a tribute to the aging rock 'n' roll star, but one scientist says it is.

Ellen Miller, an associate professor of anthropology at Wake Forest University, paid homage to the pouty-lipped Rolling Stones frontman by giving the scientific name Jaggermeryx naida, or “Jagger’s water nymph," to the fossil of a large-lipped animal she and colleagues discovered. (source)

Man sleepwalks off Kentucky cliff, suffers minor injuries

An Ohio man fell 60 feet off a cliff while sleepwalking in a national forest in Kentucky, but suffered only minor injuries, officials said on Wednesday.

Ryan Campbell, 27, was camping with his friends in the northern part of the Daniel Boone National Forest early last Thursday when he plummeted down a steep incline a few yards into his nighttime stroll.

It took several hours for emergency crews to rescue him. (source)

Man held for stealing the same Ferrari twice

Authorities have arrested a Southern California man they say stole the same Ferrari — twice.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/Zg6kaD ) says Earnie Hooks of Los Angeles was arrested last week behind the wheel of the $250,000 car. Court records say he's pleaded not guilty to car theft and resisting police.

Police in Fontana, 50 miles east of LA, say they stopped Hooks at a drunken driving checkpoint on Aug. 29 and discovered that the black 2014 Ferrari 458 Spider he was driving had been reported stolen.

Police claim Hooks drove away from the checkpoint and later abandoned the car, which was impounded. But around 3 a.m. the next morning, someone stole it from the impound lot.

Hooks was arrested five days later while driving the Ferrari in his Studio City neighborhood. (source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, September 12, 2014

Is Independence Worth it? Historic Scottish Vote Set for Sept. 18th

Good Day World!

Will Scotland become an independent country this year?

There’s going to be a referendum to decide whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom or becomes independent for the first time in 307 years, on September 18th.

It’s been 700 years since Scottish warriors scored a celebrated victory over an invading English army. Now Scots are engaged in a new battle for independence. This time it’ll be at the ballot box, instead of the battlefield.

The modern battlefield is social media, where the economic and social pros and cons of a future divorce from London rule are debated under the #indyref hashtag.

PROUD HISTORY

Robert the Bruce secured Scotland’s status as an independent country by winning the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Scotland stayed an independent country until the early 18th century, when the Act of Union created the United Kingdom.

The independence debate in Scotland, whose 5.3 million inhabitants represent about eight percent of the total U.K. population would create a new country bigger than Ireland (4.5 million) but smaller than Denmark (5.5 million).

Britain seems worried about the possibility.

Prime Minister David Cameron and the main opposition leaders canceled a weekly Parliamentary showdown in order to travel to Scotland, where polls show a dramatic surge in support for independence from the United Kingdom.(source)

Will the Scots once again gain their independence?

Should they even bother too? Not having a horse in this race, my guess is they keep the status quo. Becoming an independent country can be an expensive proposition. Beside, things haven’t been that bad…have they?

Meanwhile, as they say in Scotland:

"Lang may yer lum reek" (Translated this Scottish saying becomes "Long may your chimney smoke" - meaning 'May you live long and keep well.')

RELATED:

Polls put Scottish unionists a nose ahead as vote approaches

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Unbelievable! Cheney Advises GOP on What to Do in Iraq

Good Day World!

The very definition of stupid is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results each time.

With little effort, I could name a legion of stupid politicians, but for brevity’s sake I’ll just talk about one; Dick Cheney. You remember him don’t you?

Thanks to Cheney,his puppet George Bush, and assorted cronies, the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses. The public was lied to about weapons of mass destruction and about the regime threatening Americans.

The Iraq War turned out to be a clusterfuck. Excuse my language, but there’s no better way to put it. Anyone who was involved in that sad chapter of American history should not be currently advising the US on military affairs. Period.

Here’s where the stupid comes in…twofold:

(1) Behind closed doors on Tuesday the Republican Party invited Dick Cheney to advise them on the current situation in the Middle East – specifically the ISIS situation in Syria and Iraq.

(2) Dick Cheney is all about invading countries, and he thinks by repeating history it’s going to turn out okay this time. If Cheney had his way we’d be invading half the Middle East right now.

Cheney urged his fellow Republicans to adopt a more muscular military posture in the Middle East without being too specific. Lots of bluster and flag-waving. His little booster talk at The Capitol Hill Club was simplicity itself.

“Bomb, bomb, invade, invade…take names..boost military spending…Obama is weak and we must show the world we can kick ass…”

You know, the usual stuff one can expect from that idiot.

When Republican Tom Cole was asked by a reporter if he saw any irony in Cheney giving advise on Iraq his reply was a classic stupid remark,No. because most of us think he did the right thing.” 

Most of who? Do the rest of the Republicans in Congress think Cheney was right, despite the facts and history? I don’t think so.

The ones who were listening to Cheney ought to be ashamed of themselves and need to throw themselves on their swords (metaphorically of course).

Not even the Republicans can re-brand the Iraq War. Despite Cheney’s allure for some conservative wackos, I don’t think he’s going to be a “player” in what the US does next in the Middle East.

I certainly hope not. That would be stupid.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why are increasing numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship?

Good Day World!

Why are more Americans renouncing their U.S. citizenship in the last six years?

The government doesn’t keep track of the reasons citizens give for renouncing their U.S. citizenship. If they have, they haven’t shared them, making it impossible to say for certain what has driven the sharp rise in Americans leaving our shores.

Consider this:

From 2001 to 2008, 3,937 people who had lived on U.S. soil for at least eight years either renounced their citizenship or gave up lawful permanent resident status, according to Andrew Mitchel, an international tax attorney in Centerbrook, Connecticut, who tracks the figures closely.

From January 2009 to the quarter ending June 30, 2014, the number rose to 9,566, according to a Yahoo News analysis of the figures published on a quarterly basis by the Internal Revenue Service.”(source)

It’s a fact that during the Obama administration the numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship has sky-rocketed. Are people so prejudice that the idea of an African-American in the Oval Office is sending them overseas?

Not likely. The real reason people are turning their backs on this country is taxes. For decades U.S. citizens have resorted to hiding their wealth overseas without fear of discovery.

That’s changed.

The most likely cause appears to be the Obama-era crackdown on U.S. citizens hiding their wealth overseas.

The rise has coincided with a campaign that has scooped up about $6 billion in taxes, interest and penalties from more than 40,000 U.S. taxpayers since 2009.

It appears to me that the idea of being proud to be an American has shifted in another direction. Once U.S. citizenship was a mark of honor. A coveted title that immigrants from around the world sought.

The new reality – the 21st century version – is a far cry from that. Even presidential candidates have shipped parts of their wealth overseas; take Mitt Romney for example.

The pride that came with being an American has disappeared, replaced with a “me-first” mentality that knows no borders.

Just saying.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Do you always know what your dog is thinking?

20130815_134402

It’s not uncommon for pet owners to think they know what their dog’s thinking.

I can look at my pug, Molly (photo), and tell she wants to play. It’s obvious. She brings me her toys for fun and games.

As the year’s go by you establish a language without a name. Your dog is super attuned to you. It knows all of your subtle behaviors because it’s always paying attention.

My wife, Shirley, and I, probably know more about what Molly is thinking than any one of our three sons! Her thoughts are transparent. They flit by like butterflies. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure what my pug is thinking about.

Researchers, however, have to research…even if it seems like a waste of time …the things you and I already know. The Canine Cognition Center at Yale University is currently studying whether dogs pick up on human social cues, and how a dog make a decision.

In other words, brilliant researchers are trying to figure out what dogs are thinking. I’m thinking they should have conducted a field study of dog’s and their owners if they wanted to find that out.

Instead, a research team is busy acting out puppet shows to find out whether or not dogs are moral. I’m not making this up.

Try to imagine a white-coated bespectacled researcher crouching on the floor with a rat puppet. He makes the rat run up a little hill. The rat sees another puppet, a hedgehog, having a hard time getting up the hill.

The nice rat helps him. This goes on a couple times as the bored dog watches.

Image fades.

That white-coated researcher is back with his rat puppet. This time the rat sees the hedgehog having trouble getting up the hill, and pushes him down! The dog is left to contemplate that after several repeats.

Then it’s time for the moment of truth; the dog is given a choice to check out the nice or the mean puppet rat. Can it tell the difference? Does it want to interact with the good or mean rat?

If this study turns out like a similar one done with babies, the dog will like the nice rat and want to play with him. Interesting huh? Just one thing: dogs are not human babies. Thus, I’ve concluded those researchers are going to get flawed results.

Gee…it’s a shame watching all those researcher dollars going to the dogs with no appreciable benefits.

Time for me to walk on down the road…