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THE OSCARS: And the Nominees Are...

Best Picture
"Django Unchained"
"Les Miserables"
"Life of Pi"
"Silver Linings Playbook"
"Zero Dark Thirty"
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Daniel Day-Lewis - "Lincoln"
Hugh Jackman - "Les Miserables"
Joaquin Phoenix - "The Master"
Denzel Washington - "Flight"

Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain - "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva - "Amour"
Quvenzhané Wallis - "Beasts of Southern Wild"
Naomi Watts - "The Impossible"

Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin - "Argo"
Robert De Niro - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones - "Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz - "Django Unchained"

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams - "The Master"
Sally Field - "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway - "Les Miserables"
Helen Hunt - "The Sessions"
Jackie Weaver - "Silver Linings Playbook"

Animated Feature Film
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits"
"Wreck-It Ralph"

"Amour" - Michael Haneke
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Benh Zeitlin
"Life of Pi" - Ang Lee
"Lincoln" - Steven Spielberg
"Silver Linings Playbook" - David O. Russell

Writing - Original Screenplay
"Amour" - Michael Haneke
"Django Unchained" - Quentin Tarantino
"Flight" - John Gatins
"Moonrise Kingdom" - Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
"Zero Dark Thirty" - Mark Boal

Writing - Adapted Screenplay
"Argo" - Chris Terrio
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
"Life of Pi" - David Magee
"Lincoln" - Tony Kushner
"Silver Linings Playbook" - David O. Russell

Music - Original Song
"Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice," music and lyrics by J. Ralph
"Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted," music by Walter Murphy, lyrics by Seth MacFarlane
"Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi," music by Mychael Danna, lyrics by Bombay Jayashri
"Skyfall" from "Skyfall," music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
"Suddenly" from "Les Miserables," music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Foreign Language Film
"Amour" (Austria)
"Kon-Tiki" (Norway)
"No" (Chile)
"A Royal Affair" (Denmark)
"War Witch" (Canada)

"Anna Karenina"
"Django Unchained"
"Life of Pi"

Costume Design
"Anna Karenina"
"Les Miserables"
"Mirror Mirror"
"Snow White and the Huntsman"

Documentary - Feature
"5 Broken Cameras"
"The Gatekeepers"
"How to Survive a Plague"
"The Invisible War"
"Searching for Sugar Man"

Documentary - Short
"Kings Point"
"Mondays at Racine"
"Open Heart"

Film Editing
"Life of Pi"
"Silver Linings Playbook"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Makeup And Hairstyling
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
"Les Miserables"

Music - Original Score
"Anna Karenina"
"Life of Pi"

Production Design
"Anna Karenina"
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
"Les Miserables"
"Life of Pi"

Short Film - Animated
"Adam and Dog"
"Fresh Guacamole"
"Head over Heels"
"Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare'"

Short Film - Live Action
"Buzkashi Boys"
"Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)"

Sound Editing
"Django Unchained"
"Life of Pi"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Sound Mixing
"Les Miserables"
"Life of Pi"

Visual Effects
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
"Life of Pi"
"Marvel's The Avengers"
"Snow White and the Huntsman"

Who would get your vote?

Grandparents save five kids from 'tornadoes of fire' in Australia; pics

Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM PST
Grandparents save five kids from 'tornadoes of fire' in Australia; pics
by Eileen B

Breathtaking images: Grandfather Tim Holmes took these harrowing photos of his five grandkids escaping the wildfires because he feared their parents 'would never see them again.'

Tammy Holmes shelters her grandchildren Charlotte Walker, 2, Esther Walker, 4, Liam Walker, 9, Matilda, 11, and Caleb Walker, 6, under a jetty as a wildfire rages nearby in Dunalley, Australia, Jan. 4, 2013. This photo was taken by Tammy Holme's husband Tim Holmes.

Photo by Tim Holmes, via: Time

As I look at these photos, my brain keeps playing "the children are our future." I'm scared for the planet, and ashamed I haven't been louder in my calls for action.

"We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us and the next thing we knew everything was on fire, everywhere all around us," Tim Holmes told Australia's ABC News. "We lost three houses and by that time I had sent Tammy … with the children to get down to the jetty because there was no other escape. We couldn't get off.

"I ended up having to run down through a wooded area on my own, where there was so much smoke and fire, I didn't know where I was. So I just kept running. There was a moment of fear that this could be very, very dangerous. But I managed to run through and get to the water's edge, which was a kind of a sanctuary."

Tammy Holmes and her grandchildren take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages nearby in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer's extreme heat and fire risk.

Mr Holmes told how he sent his wife, their grandchildren and pet dog Polly to the nearby sea jetty when he saw smoke from the looming wildfire rise from a nearby ridge.

'For the next two-and-a-half hours, we huddled under the jetty as the fire intensified and produced a plume of smoke, ash and debris that left us with very little oxygen.

'There were times when we had to move out deeper because it was too hot and there were times when the jetty itself caught fire. I was able to scoop some water onto the jetty and put it out.'

Quotes Via DailyMail

This video tells the whole story:

From the Guardian:
Australia had its hottest day on record on Monday with a nationwide average of 40.33C (104.59 F), narrowly breaking a 1972 record of 40.17C (104.31 F). Tuesday was the third hottest day at 40.11C (104.2F). Four of Australia's hottest 10 days on record have been in 2013.

"There's little doubt that this is a very, very extreme heatwave event," said David Jones, manager of climate monitoring and prediction at the Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

"If you look at its extent, its duration, its intensity, it is arguably the most significant in Australia's history."


Sheriff Joe's Armed School Protection "Posse" includes Convicts & Sex Offenders

Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:31 AM PST
Sheriff Joe's Armed School Protection "Posse" includes Convicts & Sex Offenders
by Vyan

Chalk this one up in the You can't make this shit up column, but it's apparently true.


In a somewhat controversial move, members of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's volunteer posse are slated to start patrolling some Maricopa County schools.

Some of those posse members reportedly have criminal pasts. That's where the controversy comes in.

An MCSO spokesman said those people have already faced disciplinary action in connection with their crimes, either avoided felony convictions or petitioned to have their records expunged, and are now moving on

Ok, so that's just great. Slate clean. Get your gun, head for the local school. And exactly what are we "moving on" from, just so we're all clear about this?



Arpaio wants his army of 3,000 volunteer posse members to look like sworn deputies and sometimes perform the same duties. But an in-depth project by CBS 5 Investigates uncovered a number of posse members with arrests for assault, drug possession, domestic violence, sex crimes against children, disorderly conduct, impersonating an officer - and the list goes on.

These are crimes that are not tolerated in many professions, especially professions with an implied authority.

Usually this wouldn't be tolerated for someone under the color of authority, but in Sherriff Joe's Arizona - it is.

According to the local press these civilians will be insured by the Maricopa County Sherriff's Office, which means that the County is on the financial hook for anything that they might happen to do wrong - but they aren't.

Now it's fair to point this isn't really knew, Arpaio has tried it before.

Arpaio first started using his posse to protect malls during the holiday shopping season in 1993 in response to violent incidents in prior years. Since then he said malls where his posse members are on patrol have had zero violent re-occurrences and patrols by his all-volunteer squad during the 2012 shopping season netted a record 31 arrests.

Arpaio said since the program has worked so well in malls he believes it will work just as well protecting schools.

I can understand the desire to give someone a second chance but...

This is coming from the guy who - to this very day - thinks that Obama's Birth Certificate is a Forgery and is using taxpayer money to try and prove it.

This, coming from the Sherriff who arrested a six-year-old for suspicion of being "undocumented" on the same day that the President said that Federal Policy would be lenient on "undocumented" minors.

This, coming from the Sherriff who argued that he may need to supply his deputies with automatic weapons to protect them from the heinous attempted escape of undocumented suspects.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says, “Once again the entry into Maricopa County from Mexico by illegal aliens does not seem to have subsided by evidence of numerous arrests made by my deputies. Aside from their determination to get away we will continue to make every effort to pursue and apprehend human smugglers as well as drug traffickers. More and more illegal aliens are attempting to escape which places my deputies in dangerous positions. In the near future I will be issuing automatic weapons for all my deputies”.

But the truth is we're not really just talking about crimes and abuse from their past -- these are some examples of the what the local CBS station found have already happened with members of this "Posse".

"Don't get me wrong, I've done some things in my life that I'm not proud of," said Michael Hoopingarner who admits to being arrested for cocaine possession in 1999. "It's stuff that may not even be on paper. It's stuff that I had to disclose when I joined." ... A posse applicant "could be disqualified" if they have a felony conviction, have used illegal drugs excessively, or sport a misdemeanor narcotics conviction, according to the sheriff's office posse application. Despite Hoopingarner's disclosure, he was hired on the posse.

And then there was Jacob Cutler. According to a Flagstaff police report, Cutler threw his girlfriend to the ground and choked her while trying to sexually assault her in 2008. When she didn't cooperate, he allegedly threatened to call police and said they would side with him, because he "has a badge." He was a member of Arpaio's posse at the time.


Kevin Ray Campos was arrested in 2007 outside a Scottsdale club for disorderly conduct. According to the police report, he spit on several bouncers and then hurled profanities at a Scottsdale police officer. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, according to court records, and was hired as a posse member a year later.

Anyone else see a potential problem brewing here?



Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 08:30 AM PST
In one Australian town, it's too hot even to pump gasoline
by beach babe in fl

We've been reading about how Australia is suffering under some of the highest temperatures in it's history. It's so damn hot that heat maps had to add a new color to describe the phenomenon. The temperature increase is causing severe drought and wildfires.


IT was so hot in the South Australian outback town of Oodnadatta yesterday that the local servo stopped selling petrol.

The Outback town has been sweltering through one of its great heatwaves with the temperature soaring above 40 degrees every day this year, reaching a peak of 48.2 degrees yesterday.

"The ground, the building, everything is so hot, you walk outside and you feel it's going to burn you," Pink Roadhouse owner Lynnie Plate said.

Mrs Plate said the Roadhouse couldn't serve unleaded fuel after midday because it was vapourising and wouldn't pump in the extreme heat.

48.2 degrees Celsius is about 119 degrees F. According to Apple, that's too hot to use your iphone.

Unable to pump gasoline due to extreme high heat attributed to climate change? Irony run amuck.


Entitlement Reform Everyone Can Support

Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:28 PM PST
Entitlement Reform Everyone Can Support
by billyleeblack16

Come the end of February we will inevitably be facing another hostage crisis with the debt ceiling and demands for austerity. Austerity as we have seen it implemented in Europe has been a disaster for them. Just ask the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish and British public. The reason why it has failed is because the things that were cut were the exact things that stimulate economic growth and impoverish their middle classes.

However, I think we do need to make one big fundamental change to Medicare which will be the biggest driver of our long-term debt. I would like to reintroduce an idea that can cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare spending without touching the benefits that seniors receive. It is a free-market idea that has been proven to work in both the public and private sectors. It should be a central part of any demands that Obama has concerning the sequester cliff. If conservatives truly believe in the free market and cutting out waste in government, this should be something every Republican should support.

What I'm talking about reforming is Medicare Part D. Passed into law in 2003 and fully implemented in 2006, it was designed as a way for Medicare to cover prescription drugs. In reality, it turned out not to be a very good deal for taxpayers for one very important reason, Medicare can't legally negotiate drug prices.

This more than anything else is why Medicare Part D was a huge giveaway to the private healthcare industry. Medicare can't legally use their enormous pool of enrollees as a way to bargain for better prices on prescription drugs. This is something that happens all the time in the private sector. For example, using their leverage as America's largest retailer and employer, Wal Mart is able to offer one of the cheapest perscription drug plans in the country. There is absolutely no reason why Medicare shouldn't be able to do the same thing and save hundreds of billions of dollars in the process.

One may say, "That's something that can only work in the private sector." Wrong. In fact, the government's other single payer healthcare plan does exactly that and gets the same drugs at significantly cheaper prices. Unlike Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs is allowed to directly negotiate prescription drug prices for veterans. The result? In some instances the VA can get cheaper prices on brand-name drugs than Medicare can get for the equivalent generics. For example:

Although generic versions of (frequently prescribed to the elderly) drugs are now available, plans offered by three of the five (exemplar Medicare Part D) insurers currently exclude some or all of these drugs from their formularies.…Further, prices for the generic versions are not substantially lower than their brand-name equivalents. The lowest price for simvastatin (generic Zocor) 20 mg is 706 percent more expensive than the VA price for brand-name Zocor. The lowest price for sertraline HCl (generic Zoloft) is 47 percent more expensive than the VA price for brand-name Zoloft.

Here's an apples to apples comparison on specific drugs from that same study:

This is an absolutely unacceptable waste of taxpayer money. There are far fewer veterans receiving VA benefits than seniors getting Medicare benefits. With a much larger pool of beneficiaries, Medicare should be able to negotiate a much lower price for drugs than the VA can. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

So what does all this mean in budgetary terms? Economist Dean Baker estimated that Medicare could have saved between $332 billion to $563 billion between 2006 and 2013. Keep in mind this is government waste that a Republican Congress and a Republican president enacted into law. If all Congress did was replace the sequester next month with this change to Medicare, we would slash the debt by about a little more than a trillion dollars (factoring in the tax increases just passed) and we would extend the long-term solvency of Medicare without cutting anyone's benefits. I don't know about you but that is 'entitlement reform' I can get behind.

Whether or not a member of Congress supports this idea should be the true test of whether they are serious about wanting to extend the solvency of Medicare as we know it. Will enough of Congress grow the balls/ovaries to stand up to PhRMA and AHIP and tell them that they are a huge factor behind the deficit. Will enough Republicans notice that the VA is doing something far more efficiently than Medicare is and be willing to apply that best practice to Medicare? Any proposal about reforming Medicare that does not include this very basic reform should not be taken seriously. We can cut costs in Medicare without screwing over present and future seniors and overhauling Part D is how you do it...


...7:02 PM PT: From the comments (h/t Boundegar):

The Humana-WalMart plan isn't news. I was selling it last year, and it sold like hotcakes. But very few people understand how it works.

Medicare is forbidden by law to negotiate volume discounts - but WalMart isn't. Looking at the drugs on the list in the OP, WalMart is able to buy drugs in bulk at prices well below the VA price. Then they fill prescriptions and are reimbursed at the Part D price. Profit margins can be over 500%.

The good news is our seniors aren't getting robbed. The bad news is, the taxpayer is. When a prescription gets filled, the patient pays a (usually) very small copay. Humana bills Medicare at full retail price, and splits the profit with Walmart.

We would call this insurance fraud, except that the law is written to require these obscene profits.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rips heartless House GOP for blocking Sandy relief aid

Meet Tonight's Biggest Loser: Grover Norquist

Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 08:02 PM PST
Meet Tonight's Biggest Loser: Grover Norquist
by Mets102

For years, Grover Norquist has used these words to keep Republicans in line and prevent any realistic discussion about taxes:

Taxpayer Protection Pledge

I, __, pledge to the taxpayers of the (_ district of the) state of __ and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

Those days are now over. Yesterday, 40 Republican senators voted for higher taxes on the wealthy. Tonight, 85 House Republicans did exactly the same in passing the deal to end the fiscal cliff. It seems they didn't like the idea of another recession — one which they would be blamed for — after all. It also seems like they didn't feel like making government small enough to drown in a bathtub.

Now that we've seen that there are at least enough Republicans that have some degree of common sense, and are willing to vote for extra revenue, perhaps we've arrived at the day when the stranglehold of the crazy maybe, just maybe, finally began to break. It also seems that even Grover Norquist sees reality and understands just how difficult it would be to primary all those Republicans. He's now given his quasi-stamp of approval to the bill in what is certainly nothing more than damage control:

Grover Norquist


The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night. Every R voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge.
1 Jan 13

One last thing I'll note. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert's old rule that a bill needs the support of the majority of the majority, which has governed GOP House majorities since his speakership is now dead. Republicans voted against this deal by a nearly two-to-one margin.


They planned to kill us "if deemed necessary."

Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 10:26 AM PST
They planned to kill us "if deemed necessary."
by OllieGarkey

Image taken from documents received as part of a FOIA request to the FBI. You can search those documents here: http://www.justiceonline.org/commentary/fbi-files-ows.html

Naomi Wolf at the Guardian talked about this. These documents are verified by multiple media outlets. This is not a Conspiracy theory.

Someone planned to kill us, and the FBI knew. We don't know who it was. We don't know what the FBI did. We know they are supposed to inform political leaders when threats are made against them, but we were not informed of this particular threat.

Here's the thing: Occupy had no leaders. That's one of the reasons the movement is still kind of a shambles. That's why they couldn't do certain things effectively. That's why so many people are frustrated with occupy.

So the "leadership" in the minds of the people doing this work became anyone who talked to the press. Jesse Lagreca was pegged as one of those leaders. So was just about everyone else who talked to the press. We laughed about how the press was calling us leaders. Nothing happened unless the GA wanted it to happen, and most of our attempts to influence things were shot down. Most of everyone's attempts to influence things were shot down. A lot of the background stuff with the huge marches was most heavily organized by folks like Unions. People with a heirarchy who knew how to get things done.

We just held the park.

And that was enough for people to plan to assassinate us.

And the FBI did... what, exactly, when it recieved this information? Did it do anything at all? Was that written in the white box below? How is this not conspiracy to commit murder? How is the person or persons who planned this not being investigated? Someone planned to assassinate us. Who? He, She, or They would have carried out that task if deemed necessary. By whom? The FBI? Some bank?

Well at least I can have pride in the choices I've made. If they want us dead, we must be doing something right.

(Update) 11:25 AM PT: I'm still in kind of a state of shock, but facts matter, and there's a lot of wild speculation flying around. So let me point out what we know, and what we know that we don't know.

First: We do not know who "they" are. The FBI document does not tell us. This might be a lone actor, a terrorist organization, or a private security contractor. "If Deemed Necessary" seems to imply one of the latter two, because there was a decision making process that would potentially deem assassination necessary. "Suppressed sniper rifles" seems to suggest multiple shooters, and thus an organized group.

We do not know any of this. It could be any of these. This could have been a single actor, and an FBI agent who doesn't write very clearly. Bad writing happens.

What is clear, though, is that we need more information. We need answers.

We shouldn't jump to conclusions about any of this. What we know is bad enough. What we know is this:

1. "They" were planning an assassination of Occupy leaders.

2. The FBI knew of the plans, and did nothing to warn us, ignoring their own policies.

Anything more than that is conjecture.


Dear Family,

Due to a severe case of the flu in my household, my 83 year old mother in GA had to cancel her flight to spend Christmas with us in NY. She called me late Christmas night because she felt depressed. Not because she missed seeing us, although that was a part of it. She was depressed because she started a conversation about gun control at the GA family Christmas gathering (we have a huge family), and was amazed by the ultra-conservative-FOXNews-spewing ideas of 2 of her offspring and their respective spouses. She was dismayed and shocked. My Mother is a true liberal. My Dad and his wife (they all get along) played the fence coyly. Two of my sisters stayed out of it, and as one said, "I just played with the puppy" -- undoubtedly the best course of action. After contemplating my Mother's sadness around what had transpired, I wrote an email to my FOXNews watching relatives. I read the email to my mother and she asked me not to send it. I sat on it for a few days, but I find it too good not to share, so I shall post it here. But before I do, allow me to say that I love my family very, very much -- so please be kind to them in your remarks. They are wonderful people. Politically ignorant, but in every other way, some of the finest people you could know. Really. So here goes:

Dear Family,

I understand I missed a big lesson on the Second Amendment and my Constitutional right to bear arms last night. Sounds invigorating. Clearly, I have been misguided by the left-wing rhetoric of gun control. So glad to have seen the light. By golly, I now want every classroom in my childrens' schools to have a properly armed teacher. I want guards! I want fortification! I can hear those sweet words now, "Children, there will be a substitute in our classroom tomorrow. I need to go to my federally mandated lesson on how to fire a Magnum pistol should some crazed gunman enter our classroom. Don't worry though, the substitute has also passed the training course and knows how to fire a Magnum with deadly accuracy." YAY! Sounds like a GREAT idea! Cost be damned! We'll take it from book funding!

Of course, the founding fathers never intended for the Second Amendment to ensure the right of individual gun ownership; but rather the historical debate swirled around "state militias" and state militia funding. This was to avoid a concentration of military might on the federal level. But who needs real historical context when the NRA contrived meaning of our Second Amendment is thriving at FOX News?

For those of you who do disagree with me on that minor detail, allow me to refer to the article The Right to Bear Arms (Parade Magazine, 1990) in which former Chief Justice Warren Burger states:

"The Gun Lobby's interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies - the militia - would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires."

Seriously, now. Let's look at historical record.

In 2002, the famous court case Silviera vs Lockyer was brought before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the plaintiffs charged that 1999 gun control laws passed in California limiting access to semi-automatic weapons was unconstitutional. In their decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals closely examined and documented the historical record surrounding the adoption of the Second Amendment. In other words, the decision is based in historical FACT. The Court concluded that the Second Amendment intended to provide the right of states to form their own militias, and does not provide unfettered access to any gun a person wishes to possess. The entire opinion can be read here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1464183.html

Historically, the courts had always interpreted the Second Amendment as a state right to form militias.

From the Tennessee Supreme Court, 1840:

"A man in pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms." Aymette v. State, 21 Tenn. 154 (1840).

From the Texas Supreme Court, 1872:

"The word 'arms' in the connection we find it in the Constitution of the United States refers to the arms of a militiaman or soldier, and the word is used in its military sense." English v. State, 35 Tex. 473 (1872).

And from the West Virginia Supeme Court, 1891:

"In regard to the kind of arms referred to in the Amendment, it must be held to refer to the weapons of warfare to be used by the militia." State v. Workman, 35 W. Va. 367 (1891).

During the 19th century, Supreme Court decisions revolved around the legality of states regulating firearms. In United States vs Cruikshank (1875), the court ruled that the Second Amendment:

“has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government” 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1875)

In Presser vs Illinois (1886) the Court ruled the Second Amendment:

“is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the National government, and not upon that of the States.” 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886)

In 1939, the Supreme Court was once again called upon to interpret the Second Amendment in United States vs Miller. In this case, Miller was indicted for being in violation of the National Firearms Act of 1934 when he and his buddy crossed state lines with an unregistered sawed-off shotgun. Miller argued that the regulation of interstate transport violated his Second Amendment rights. The US District Court of Arkansas remarkably agreed with Miller. The Supreme Court, however, overturned that decision on appeal. After reading the Second Amendment in conjunction with the Militia Clause in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the Court concluded :

“in the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a sawed-off shotgun . . . has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.” 307 U.S. at 178. http://www.loc.gov/law/help/second-amendment.php

Then came Scalia and The District of Columbia vs Heller. In the 2008 landmark case, the Supreme Court shot down historical precedent with a...wait for it...5-4 decision. The majority opinion was written by Scalia and signed by the usual other 4. In this case, the plaintiff argued that new gun regulation laws passed in Washington DC were unconstitutional. These laws decreed that handguns within a person's home must be either dismantled or rendered useless via the security lock. This did not allow much in the way of self-defense. Oddly enough, and I'm sure I'll get hammered for this by all my liberal brethren, I'm rather glad the plaintiff won that ruling. I think the law went too far. I just vehemently disagree with basis on which it was won. The legal question brought before the Court was whether it violated:

"the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The Court focused on the clause "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." and came to the conclusion that this clause guarantees an individual right to possess and carry weapons. Laughably, they claim this was based on historical record. Let me say this again THE SECOND AMENDMENT WAS ABOUT STATE MILITIAS!!! NOT INDIVIDUAL GUN OWNERSHIP!!! The ruling can be read here: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf . The historically acurate dissent from Stevens can be read here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZD.html

So, here I sit, soaking in the knowledge that my closest loved ones believe my kids' teachers should be armed. You even go so far as to believe that if any Amendment should be abolished, it should be the First -- because we all know the blame lands squarely on the shoulders of Hollywood.

Like Dad facetiously chimed in, "Hell, why stop there? Let's arm the kids, too!"

In the end, I guess I am left pondering a tweet I read after the Newtown massacre -- Only in America, do we put up fight over who can get a marriage license, but don't give a shit about who possesses a semi-automatic weapon. I do love this country, but sometimes things just seem a little off. I think I'll go find a puppy.

BREAKING: Heavy fighting in Damascus as coup attempt reported in progress

Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:47 AM PST
BREAKING: Heavy fighting in Damascus as coup attempt reported in progress

by Clay ClaiborneFollow

30 Comments / 30 New

Alexander Page @AlexanderPageSY

UPDATE: #Muhajrin area of Central #Damascus is in a state of LOCKDOWN following blast just moments ago. regime forces secure area #Syria
17 Dec 12
Rami Jarrah @RamiJarrah

BREAKING: Huge blast rocks Muhajrin area of Central #Damascus just 500 meters from Presidential Residence #Syria
17 Dec 12
Stephanie Lamy @WCM_JustSocial

RT @freereb: Reports of an attempted #coup in #Damascus #Syria against #Assad. Troops loyal o VP #AlSharaa leading the assault on palace.
17 Dec 12
Follow clayclai on Twitter

There are reports of heavy fighting in many areas of Damascus this morning, as NBC Richard Engels is reported to have gone missing and Syrian VP Farouk Al-Sharaa has been speaking out in favor of a negotiated settlement with the opposition. He is speaking out everywhere. From the Associated Press we get this report:

We can’t win, Assad’s vice-president says

Dec 17, 2012 10:24 AM ET
BEIRUT — Syria’s longtime vice president said the army cannot defeat the rebels fighting to topple the regime, the first admission by a top government official that a victory by President Bashar Assad is unlikely.

In an interview with Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published on Monday, Farouk al-Sharaa offered the unusually bleak public assessment of the civil war.

“All these opposition forces can only conclude the battle to topple the regime if their goal is to push the country into chaos a cycle of violence that has no end,” al-Sharaa said in the interview. “I don’t see that what the security forces and army units are doing will lead to a definitive victory.” More... http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/17/we-cant-win-assads-vice-president-says/

Farouk was sidelined after the July Damascus explosion that took out four of Assad's top people, and hasn't had any real power or influence since. Also today al Akhbar English is running this exclusive interview:

Syrian VP Farouk Al-Sharaa Proposes Alternative to War

By: Ibrahim al-Amin
Monday, December 17, 2012
Syrian Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa is in the heart of the action, but not in the decision-making circles. He keeps in touch with a few officials, speaks to President from time to time, and communicates with some of the leadership.

His residence is under the same security precautions as those of figures in the decision-making circles, and so are his movements. But he is full of energy and also keeps communication channels open with members of the opposition and figures, who are not connected to the state or the regime.

Sharaa has his own views on the daily events, including criticisms and apprehensions, which he kept expressing in official meetings, but without going public with them in the media.

Something has changed, however. More...

Amidst all of tis come twitter reports of a coup in progress lead by forces loyal to the veep.

Stay tuned. More, later....

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