The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

Watering Hole: Monday, December 26, 2011 – Is the Pigeon Smarter Than the Shooter?

One of the major issues that I fight for is the ending of the live pigeon shoots that are currently allowed in Pennsylvania.  I have written extensively about this animal cruelty at Pennsylvania for Change. Most of the time, these pigeons are brought into the state illegally from New York.  The captured birds are denied food and water for a few days and crated off to some rod and gun club for the big gambling event known as live pigeon shoots.  The dehydrated and weakened birds are tossed into the air and then the “Elmer Fudds” take a shot at them.  It is cruel and brutal and I won’t go into more details.  I’ve seen these “Elmer Fudds” in action and they truly look like Neanderthals (my apologies to the Neanderthals).

It turns out that pigeons may actually be smarter than these “Elmer Fudds”.  A recent study shows that pigeons are capable of higher math.

Pigeons, it turns out, are no slouches either. It was known that they could count. But all sorts of animals, including bees, can count. Pigeons have now shown that they can learn abstract rules about numbers, an ability that until now had been demonstrated only in primates. In the 1990s scientists trained rhesus monkeys to look at groups of items on a screen and to rank them from the lowest number of items to the highest.

They learned to rank groups of one, two and three items in various sizes and shapes. When tested, they were able to do the task even when unfamiliar numbers of things were introduced. In other words, having learned that two was more than one and three more than two, they could also figure out that five was more than two, or eight more than six.

So who is the higher species?  “Elmer Fudds” or the pigeons.  My money is on the pigeons.

This is our Open Thread.  Where are you placing your bet?  Speak Up!

Heavy Flooding Forecast for Harrisburg PA. As in “Three Mile Island” Harrisburg?

Flooding in 1972 from Hurricane "Agnes" (source: United States Coastguard)

Rampaging rivers, rock slides, torrents of rain and mass evacuations. The generation that grew up on tales of eastern Pennsylvania’s Agnes catastrophe of 1972 is getting its own story now, with rain-weary cities and towns along the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers hunkered down in anticipation of record-threatening crests.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee led to what one AccuWeather meteorologist called a “fire hose” of tropical downpours falling on land and water already overcharged by August’s record soaking. (read more)

This scares me quite a bit. I wonder what the Three Mile Island safety measures are for flooding. They are not worried, however. It is not as if the rains will stop any time soon. La Nina conditions are forecast, which will make extreme weather conditions more likely and there is TS Maria out there, which is about to come up on a very similar track as Irene did.

Stay safe and monitor what is going on closely, all you who are close to the area.

2 PA Teens Found Not Guilty For The Fatal Beating Of Mexican Immigrant

A former Pennsylvania high school football player was acquitted of murder Friday in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant last summer.

However, a Schuylkill County jury found Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak guilty of simple assault stemming from the death of Luis Ramirez, who died of blunt force injuries to the head after a fight with the defendants and their friends.

Continue reading

Joe the non-Plumber Doesn’t know…

Well, well, well… Joe the dumber non-plumber doesn’t know a lot about everything and I doubt that he knows even a little about anything and yet, he continues to shoot off his big mouth. Thank you to MorrillMajority for taking the trip to Harrisburg and interviewing the conservatives’ puppet, Joe Wertzelbacher. I knew that I could count on you :) .

Senator Specter and the EFCA

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I felt it was my duty to contact my Senator, Arlen Specter and request that he support the Employee Free Choice Act. It shocked me, when I received an email response from him the very next day. During the Bush years, Senator Specter would never respond to my emails. All I would get from him was a generic response stating that he just didn’t have time to address all his email. In other words, he would just blow me off. Now, he seemed eager to get back in touch with me. Ha!

Below is the email that I received which is cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change:

Dear Pennsylvania Constituent,
After giving exhaustive consideration to the Employee Free Choice legislation, I have decided to oppose the bill for reasons specified in my Senate floor statement which is contained below or you may read here and watch here.

I remain open to working to correct the imbalance which exists with so many jobs being exported and substantial labor losses in areas like pensions and health care.

In my floor statement, I have also laid out some suggested revisions to the National Labor Relations Act which could provide the basis for correcting the current imbalance.

Sincerely,

Arlen Specter

Here is his complete floor statement which was included in the email…

Senator Specter’s full floor statement, including the appendix, follows:

I have sought recognition to state my position on a bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons. First, on the merits, it is a close call and has been the most heavily lobbied issue I can recall. Second, it is a very emotional issue with Labor looking to this legislation to reverse the steep decline in union membership and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive more companies out of business or overseas. Perhaps, most of all, it is very hard to disappoint many friends who have supported me over the years, on either side, who are urging me to vote their way.

In voting for cloture – that, is to cut off debate – in June 2007, I emphasized in my floor statement and in a law review article that I was not supporting the bill on the merits, but only to take up the issue of labor law reform. Hearings had shown that the NLRB was dysfunctional and badly politicized. When Republicans controlled the Board, the decisions were for business. With Democrats in control, the decisions were for labor. Some cases took as long as eleven years to decide. The remedies were ineffective.

Regrettably, there has been widespread intimidation on both sides. Testimony shows union officials visit workers’ homes with strong-arm tactics and refuse to leave until cards are signed. Similarly, employees have complained about being captives in employers’ meetings with threats of being fired and other strong-arm tactics. Continue reading

Pork and Sauerkraut – Happy New Year

It is the Pennsylvania Dutch (German) tradition to serve pork and sauerkraut as the first meal of the New Year to bring good luck for the year.  This dish is usually accompanied by some yummy mashed potatoes and sometimes a little apple sauce to sweet the meal.  This is definitely one of my all time favorite foods combinations and I make sure that I have this meal every January 1st.

There are many different ways to make this dish and I will provide my recipe for my favorite rendition.

Pork and Sauerkraut (crock pot version)

1 pork loin or pork country spare ribs (portion size according to your needs)

1 bag of sauerkraut (I prefer the bagged sauerkraut because it tastes fresher)

dash of cinnamon

dash of ginger

several whole cloves or dash of ground cloves

Place all items in the crock pot and cook until the pork is very tender.  You will need to use your own judgment as to how much of each spice to use.  I never measure and I use my sense of smell to tell me if the combination is right.  These spices sweeten the sauerkraut.  You’ll know when the sauerkraut is ready and spiced properly because it will darken in appearance and become very tender.

The Mashed Potatoes

Continue reading

Largest Mock Teen Election In The Country Chose Obama

In the biggest mock teen election in the country, the students chose Obama for President.  They have correctly predicted the President in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential Races.  Channel One News which has 6 million middle and high school viewers chose Lordstown High School, in the swing state, of Pennsylvania to announce the results.   Students at Lordstown and 300,000 other students from across the United States voted in this mock election.  Obama swept 43 of the states to win in this mock electorial election.  Obama received 58.5% of the vote compared to McCain who received 41.5%.  This is a great piece and these students concerns are the same as the nations.

McCain Supporters in Pottsville Shout “Bomb Obama” and Hate-Filled Speeches

More of John McCain supporters, this time at Pottsville, Pennsylvania. October 27, 2008.

This is a report from Keystone Progress.

Continue reading

GOP Campaign Worker Lied About Being Attacked

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

(MSNBC reported on this Breaking Story)

Pittsburgh Police Commander told KDKA investigator that the McCain campaign volunteer confessed to making up the whole story about being attacked.  The police say Ashley Todd, of Texas, is now facing charges for filing a false report.

Continue reading

Olbermann: McCain & Palin “Playing With Fire”

1:25 PM Eastern Time, today, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. During the warm-up act by a Red Meat Congressional Candidate aptly named Chris Hackett, Hackett mentions Obama and a Palin audience member shouts “Kill Him.”

And Gov. Palin, as usual, does nothing about it says nothing to these thugs and psychos. She may not have heard this one. It is impossible to believe that by now she has not heard about the other ones. Her silence is deafening. Just as, Sen. McCain, you have done nothing when violence has been asserted. Correction. You have done one thing.

Asked why in real time you do not repudiate this hatefulness you act as if you are the victim. Speaking today to our NBC Station in Washington.

(H/T Americablog)

Palin Refuses To Admit Wrongdoing To Reporter

A bi-partisan legislative panel’s chief investigator says Alaska Governor Sarah Palin unlawfully abused her power by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

Sarah Palin’s rejected that she has violated any ethics rules.  This damaging report is going to cause even more problems for the McCain Campaign image of Palin being a “Maverick” when it comes to reform.  On the campaign trail, in Pennsylvania, this is what Palin had to say on the subject.

Asked by a reporter in Pennsylvania if the charges were true, Palin replied: “No, and if you read the report you will see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about it. You have to read the report.”

Continue reading

Pigeon Shoots – Elmer Fudd’s Day at the Field

\

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Pennsylvania is the only State that still holds pigeon shoots. This is barbaric and is animal cruelty. The PA HB 2130 would ban any type of “caged” hunting including tying turkeys’ legs with wire to hay bales and then using the turkeys for bow and arrow target practice.

DO SOMETHING: Link to Pennsylvania HB 2130

The Allentown Call tells it like is in this article.

Frankly, I can’t think of anything less sporting than a pigeon shoot, except maybe shooting animals you have tied up. Here’s how it works.

They set up a bunch of ”traps” — small wooden boxes — in one or more shooting rings. When a spring-loaded trap pops open, the dazed bird is propelled out, tries to flutter away and is blasted by Elmer Fudd.

Link to the USA Humane Society

“Shooting pigeons and calling yourself a sportsman is like hiring an escort service and calling yourself a ladies man.

~ by Walter Brasch (complete article published with the permission of the author)

Dave Comroe stepped to the firing line, raised his 12-gauge Browning over and under shotgun, aimed and fired. Before him, a pigeon fell, moments after being released from a box less than 20 yards away. About 25 times that day Comroe fired, hitting about three-fourths of the birds. He was 16 at the time.

“It’s not easy to shoot them,” he says, explaining, “there’s some talent involved. When a live pigeon is released, you have no idea where it’s going.”

Where it’s going is usually no more than five to ten feet from its cage. Many are shot on the ground or while standing on top of the cages, stunned by the noise, unable to fly because of being malnourished, dehydrated, and confined to a small space for hours, often days.

Nevertheless, even with “expert” shooters on the line, only about one-fifth of the pigeons are killed outright, according to Heidi Prescott, senior vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States. About a tenth of the birds usually escape. But about two-thirds are wounded.

“There really isn’t much you can do for a wounded pigeon except put it out of its misery,” says Comroe. Prior to an order in 2002 by the Court of Common Pleas in Berks County, most of the wounded were picked up by trapper boys and girls, some as young as eight years old, who killed the birds by stomping on their bodies, hitting them against structures, stuffing them into sacks, and dumping them, some still breathing, into large barrels. Some also wrung the birds’ necks or ripped them from their bodies. Since that order, the “trappers” are at least 18 years old and have gone “high-tech”; they now use garden shears to sever a bird’s head.

Trappers can’t get all of the birds. Hundreds at a large shoot will fly to surrounding areas and remain untreated as long as several days to die a painful death, says Johnna Seeton, Humane Society police officer. Pigeon shoot organizers do their best to keep observers from the scene, and don’t allow volunteers to pick up and treat wounded birds unless they fly off the property, even if there’s no shooting at the time. “We have only been able to rescue a few birds,” says Seeton.

Dave Comroe, now 32 years old, had begun hunting when he was 12 years old. That first year he killed his only deer. Although he has been deer hunting many times, he says he has “only taken a shot once.” He has gone pheasant and dove hunting about a half dozen times.

Continue reading

PA primary called for Hillary Clinton

The news networks are calling the Pennsylvania primary for Hillary Clinton, beginning when 1% of the precincts were reporting. I’m watching the CNN tally here, because it’s easy to read.

TheZoo’s own RUCerious has predicted Hillary Clinton will take the primary 53% to 47%. We’ll see how good his predicting skills are. :)

Right now (6:30 PT), CNN is reporting 21% of the precincts are in, with 54% for Clinton, and 46% for Obama. I’ll continue updating the numbers in the comments section.

Bush’s DOJ will monitor PA primaries

ThinkProgress:

Question: Would Bush’s heavily politicized Department of Justice be “monitoring” the primaries if twice as many REPUBLICANS had registered to vote?

Justice Department officials will be monitoring today’s primary elections in Philadelphia “to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws.” According to a DOJ press release, the monitoring arises from “a settlement agreement with Philadelphia related to allegations that the city had violated the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).” Pennsylvania election officials are expecting twice as many Democrats to vote in today’s contests as turned out for the 2004 primaries.

I don’t think any of us had illusions that our voting is strictly on the up-and-up anymore, but really, do they have to be so brazen about it?