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U.S. OFFICIAL: The United States has begun airstrikes in Tikrit

A senior U.S. official says the U.S. has begun airstrikes in Tikrit in support of a stalled Iraqi ground offensive to retake the city from Islamic State fighters.

The official says the airstrikes began after the Iraqi government requested U.S. help. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the American attacks had not yet been officially announced.

An Associated Press reporter in Tikrit reported hearing warplanes overhead late Wednesday, followed by multiple explosions.


Republicans can’t stop fighting — even when they aren’t fighting Barack Obama

Since they won control of both houses in last November’s election, everyone has said that Republicans now have to “show they can govern.” But more than that, they have to actually govern, whether they’re showing it or not. And the current intra-Republican conflict over the budget shows that they may have gotten so used to shaking their fists and drawing lines in the sand that many of them can’t imagine any other way to go about negotiating — even when Barack Obama and the Democrats aren’t involved.

Republicans have been arguing bitterly among themselves for days now over a budget resolution — whether it will increase military spending, and if so, whether some of the money will be offset by other budget cuts or not. At various moments the conflict has pitted fiscal hawks against military hawks, the House leadership against uppity backbenchers, and the House against the Senate. The drama, which included a failed late-night vote Wednesday in the House Budget Committee, has largely been around a mere $20 billion of the $600 billion Republicans want to spend next year on the military. It sometimes seems like an endless episode of “Real Housewives,” where even the tiniest disagreement quickly turns to shouted insults and overturned chairs.

Speaker John Boehner is now crafting some parliamentary maneuvers that will get the GOP budget to a successful floor vote in a way that lets everyone tell themselves they won. I’m sure that eventually he’ll get there, though there may be more Keystone Cops pratfalls between now and then. But all this sturm und drang comes before Republicans can even start negotiating with their real enemy in the White House.

It suggests that at least some Republicans — enough to gum up the system — have so assimilated confrontation as a political strategy that they don’t know any other way to operate, even when they’re dealing with their allies (and they’re spurred on by conservative groups like Heritage Action that encourage intra-Republican conflict). The refusal to compromise is a political strategy, one whose efficacy people disagree about (some say the GOP made themselves look terrible with all the crises they created in the last few years; others respond that it didn’t seem to hurt them at the polls). But it was never much of a legislative strategy, if your goal is to actually craft a bill.



Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest







Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- Politics





Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- You Cruz You Lose

Police: Woman threw Molotov cocktail at Planned Parenthood during prayer vigil

AUSTIN -- Police have arrested a woman who reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail-type device into the front yard a South Austin Planned Parenthood on Monday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police said 52-year-old Melanie Maria Toney threw the object out the passenger side window of her car where two anti-abortion protesters standing outside of the clinic at 201 East Ben White Boulevard around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

One of the protesters said she was praying in the grassy area as a volunteer with Texas Alliance for Life when she saw Toney throw the bottle. The woman said she stomped out the fire and pulled out the wick to make sure the fire did not make contact with the contents of the bottle. The affidavit states the flaming item was a "Gum Out" fuel additive bottle with a burned piece of paper towel that had been rolled into a wick and lit on fire, a Molotov cocktail-type device.

Toney admitted to throwing a bottle out the window with some paper in it and said it "might" have been smoldering when she threw it.

The nut:

American Doctors Are Killing Themselves and No One Is Talking About It

It’s estimated that at least 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves every year. Many are struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction.
Greg Miday was a promising young doctor with a prestigious oncology fellowship in St. Louis. He spoke conversational Spanish, volunteered with the homeless, and played the piano as if he’d been born to it. He had rugged good looks, with dark wavy hair and a tall, athletic build. Everybody—siblings, patients, friends, nurses, professors, fellow doctors, and above all, his physician-parents—adored him.

On the evening of June 21, 2012, Greg drew a bath, lit candles, and put his iPod on speaker. He drank a copious quantity of vodka, and placed family photos on the ceramic ledge of the tub. At some point, he scribbled out a note that read:

“Dear Some,

My Family, I love you.
To others who have been good friends, I love you too.
This is just the end of the line for my particular train.
Earth wasn’t a particularly great place for me.
We’ll see what else is out there.
Will miss you all!
Am sorry for what it’s worth. Greg Miday.”

Then he climbed into the warm water and with surgical skill, punctured the arteries carrying blood to his hands and feet.

His parents called the next morning, but got no answer. Frantic, they reached his landlady, who summoned the St. Louis police after she heard music playing from the apartment but could not get Miday to open the door.

St. Louis police found the body. He was 29 years old.



Boeing patents 'Star Wars'-style force fields

A new patent granted to aircraft, defense and security company Boeing is taking its cues from science fiction. Just like the glowing energy shields seen protecting troops, machines and even spacecraft in Star Wars and Star Trek, the design -- named "Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" -- uses energy to deflect potential damage.

As it is described, the system is not designed to prevent direct impact from shells or shrapnel; rather, it is designed to protect a target -- such as a vehicle or building -- from the damaging effects of shockwaves from a nearby impact.

The patent is for a shockwave attenuation system, which consists of a sensor capable of detecting a shockwave-generating explosion and an arc generator that receives the signal from the sensor to ionise a small region, producing a plasma field between the target and the explosion using lasers, electricity and microwaves.

This small plasma field would differ from the surrounding environment in temperature, density and/or composition. This would provide a buffer between the target and the explosion that would hinder the shockwaves from reaching and damaging the target.



Charles P Pierce - To The Gulf Stream Waters: Maybe Somebody Should, Like, Do Something

In which we learn something about the oceans that is probably not good.

I am not a climatologist, but I've got to believe this is not a good thing. In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw a movie once in which this really wasn't a very good thing, and there were wolves, too.

In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Professor Rahmstorf and colleagues point out that maps of global surface temperatures have consistently indicated an overall warming trend around the world, except for the region of the North Atlantic south of Greenland. "It is conspicuous that one specific area of the North Atlantic has been cooling in the past hundred years while the rest of the world heats up," said Professor Rahmstorf, who added that previous research had indicated that a slowdown in ocean currents may be the explanation. "Now we have detected strong evidence that the global conveyor has indeed been weakening in the past hundred years, particularly since 1970," he said. The study used proxy measurements of the Atlantic currents, using ice cores, tree rings, coral growth and ocean and lake sediments, to estimate regional temperature variations and so assess how the Gulf Stream has changed over the past 1,000 years.

Why is this happening? Because freshwater from melting ice packs is flooding into the ocean, screwing up the delicate balance of the oceans, and especially, the Gulf Stream. Now, the only question is, what will the American conservative response to this be?

a) Don't trust the science-y scientists with their scientific science and Al Gore is fat, and what are "proxy measurements," anyway? or

b) Look at England and how nice and temperate it's been. Carbon dioxide is our amigo!

Let's ask the only declared Republican candidate for president, and a "true conservative," according to himself, in his own words, shall we?

"It's interesting that you say that, as I just came back from New Hampshire, where there's snow and ice everywhere," Cruz said. "My view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science, and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they've got a problem because the science doesn't back them up."

Well, that certainly wasn't worth the googling time, was it?


Charles P Pierce - The Sicker You Are, The More Free You Are

In which we learn that the ultimate measure of human freedom is diabetes.

There was an interesting story in The New York Times yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of the president's signing of the Affordable Care Act, about one of the undeniably beneficial results of the act's passage into law. It seems that, in those states that have condescended to accept FREE MONEY!, the Medicaid expansion has managed not only to help sick people to get well, but also to keep healthy people from becoming sick.

The health care law aimed to bring many of the most disadvantaged Americans into the medical system by expanding access to Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor. But with the release of federal health data still months away, it was impossible to know whether the new coverage was having any effect in identifying and treating critical health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. In the new study by Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing company, researchers analyzed laboratory test results from all 50 states in the company's large database over two six-month periods. In the states that expanded Medicaid, the number of Medicaid enrollees with newly identified diabetes rose by 23 percent, to 18,020 in the first six months of 2014, from 14,625 in the same period in 2013. The diagnoses rose by only 0.4 percent — to 11,653 from 11,612 — in the states that did not expand Medicaid.

For months, as people screamed in the streets, and as politicians who damn well knew better stirred them up, the people trying to get the law passed stubbornly argued that one of its underrated virtues was that it encouraged preventative care that some people otherwise could not afford. This was a practical way to "bend the cost curve" one life at a time. As the Times points out, Diabetes is one of the most expensive diseases to treat, and the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to plan how to keep it from bankrupting you and your family. Which is where the FREE MONEY! comes in.

Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said earlier detection — particularly among the poor, who are more likely to have the disease without knowing it — is the first step in preventing some of the most severe long-term consequences and saving dollars and lives. He pointed out that diabetes rates tended to be highest in the Southern states that did not expand Medicaid, and that full insurance coverage there would likely produce an even stronger effect. "This suggests that states that are accepting this kind of coverage are doing their populations a huge favor," he said, adding that the health care law was the most plausible explanation for the findings. "I couldn't find anything that sounded like a false note," he said of the study.

Now is the point where we remind people that, by the logic of every single Republican politician of any note, and especially by the logic of the party's only declared presidential nominee, the people who discover early that they have diabetes because the states they live in accepted the FREE MONEY! are less free than the people who wake up in some place like "Bobby" Jindal's Louisiana, who discover that they've gone blind and that their kidneys have turned to Titleist 2's.


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