Ye Olde Soapbox

Unmanned Flight

Picture of an eight-armed German MikroKopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle

The Drones Come Home

Unmanned aircraft have proved their prowess against al Qaeda. Now they’re poised to take off on the home front. Possible missions: patrolling borders, tracking perps, dusting crops. And maybe watching us all?

By John Horgan

Photograph by Joe McNally

At the edge of a stubbly, dried-out alfalfa field outside Grand Junction, Colorado, Deputy Sheriff Derek Johnson, a stocky young man with a buzz cut, squints at a speck crawling across the brilliant, hazy sky. It’s not a vulture or crow but a Falcon—a new brand of unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, and Johnson is flying it. The sheriff ’s office here in Mesa County, a plateau of farms and ranches corralled by bone-hued mountains, is weighing the Falcon’s potential for spotting lost hikers and criminals on the lam. A laptop on a table in front of Johnson shows the drone’s flickering images of…

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Trayvon Martin, Rest in Peace! 1


Murdered Trayvon Martin and his father

Murdered Trayvon Martin and his father

Trayvon Martin

More…


Bell Book Candle

According to Greek mythology, the original sea-questers were Jason and his band of Argonauts who sought the Golden Fleece on the southern shore of the Black Sea. It is thought that the Golden Fleece was an ordinary fleece that was used to separate gold from the surrounding ore much like modern gold miners use a pan while panning for gold.

In Washington, DC, on the banks of the Potomac, Grover Norquist and his band of Republican‘ts seek to mine taxpayer gold from the US Treasury for the 1%. Rather than panning for gold or seeking a modern-day Golden Fleece, they use lobbyists and campaign cash and back-room deals to mine for gold, hidden from public scrutiny by 501(c)(4) charitable? organizations.

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mykeystrokes.com

They’re baaack! Just about two years ago, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairmen of the late unlamented debt commission, warned us to expect a terrible fiscal crisis within, um, two years unless we adopted their plan. The crisis hasn’t materialized, but they’re nonetheless back with a new version. And, in case you’re interested, after last year’s election — in which American voters made it clear that they want to preserve the social safety net while raising taxes on the rich — the famous fomenters of fiscal fear have moved to the right, calling for even less revenue and even more spending cuts.

But you aren’t interested, are you? Almost nobody is. Messrs. Bowles and Simpson had their moment — the annus horribilis of 2011, when Washington was in thrall to deficit scolds insisting that, in the face of record-high long-term unemployment and record-low borrowing costs, we forget about jobs…

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This Just In

The U.S. Supreme Court has just blocked a lawsuit over the federal government’s sweeping electronic monitoring of foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying.

The 5-4 conservative majority on Tuesday morning concluded that the plaintiffs a group of attorneys, journalists and others lacked “standing” or jurisdiction to proceed, without a specific showing they have been monitored. The National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose monitoring specifics, which detractors call “Catch-22” logic.

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This Just In

The Senate Finance Committee has approved the nomination of former White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to be treasury secretary.

The nomination of Lew (pictured) now goes to the full Senate for approval.

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O-blog-dee-o-blog-da

By Melanie Nathan, February, 25, 2013.Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 7.08.50 PM
Last week the small Southern African country of Botswana saw a highly unusual and courageous event.  In a country that criminalizes homosexual acts, a film festival was held at the University of Botswana to educate the community on same-gender relationships.

According to a report in the local Monitor publication, the week long festival was “proved to have touched many hearts and left many with a different view about Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI).”

The films were organized by ‘Batho BaLorato’ film festival and were mainly targeted to help Batswana discuss and learn more about issues surrounding human sexuality in what was considered an open forum.

One of the event organizers in an interview with The Monitor said the films really had a big impact on viewers. “One of the attendees said we should take the films all over the country as they could…

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O-blog-dee-o-blog-da

proposition 8 mel signProposition 8 was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections. The measure added a new provision, Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, to the California Constitution, which provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

By restricting the recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples, the proposition overturned the California Supreme Court‘s ruling of In re Marriage Cases that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. The wording of Proposition 8 was precisely the same as that which had been found in Proposition 22, which had passed in 2000 and, as an ordinary statute, had been invalidated by the State Supreme Court in 2008. California’s State Constitution put Proposition 8 into immediate effect the day after the election.  The proposition did not affect domestic partnerships

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