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Cartoon Friday Watercooler: MehWhoop!

8:11 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

A siamese cat studies a dangling string bean

No, kitty! Don’t eat MehWhoop!

It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Tonight’s selection is MehWhoop: The Saga of the Lost String Bean from Marty Cooper, a.k.a. Hombre McSteez.

Accidentally strewn to the supermarket floor, MehWhoop is left to navigate the world alone in search of his bean bin buddies. His exhausting search leads him to a familiar yet unexpected place.

MUSIC:

Original Score:
William Ryan Fritch
http://www.williamryanfritch.com/

End Credits:
Robbie Benson (Super Soul Brothers)
http://www.supersoulbros.com/

“Moonglow” by Podington Bear
from The Sound of Picture Production Library
http://soundofpicture.com

We visited with McSteez just a over a month ago for his Augdemented Reality but the saga of poor lost little MehWhoop was too adorable to pass up sharing.

Bonus Friday Comic: The Man Is Taking a Nap On the Couch” from the adorable Breaking Cat News.

Seen any good cartoons lately? Or tell me about what you’re watching on TV these days.

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Help Kevin Gosztola keep reporting the real (not cat) breaking news.

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Remembering A People’s Uprising: 1 Year After HB2

4:02 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

No expense was spared to oppress every Texan who needs access to reproductive healthcare.

On July 12, 2013, the deadly anti-abortion bill HB2 passed the legislature in Texas, forced through in an expensive special session despite the extremely loud opposition of thousands of people who came out to shake the granite building with their angry voices. On that same day this month, one year after the passage and the police brutality of the final night of protests, a few of us returned to the Texas Capitol to reflect on what’s been lost.

From behind, Joshua Pineda and another activist study the Senate hallway where a sit-in took place.

Joshua Pineda (left) revisits the Senate hallway where police violently broke up a sit-in he participated in, resulting in a hospital visit and cranial stitches.

In the previous weeks, there’d been numerous other events to mark what happened last year. Wendy Davis, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and one of the primary legislators to side with reproductive rights, had packed a major events center in town on the anniversary of her filibuster. She seems to take all the credit for it in the media these days, despite the grassroots direct action which temporarily kept the bill from passing after her filibuster was shut down by male politicians.

The same night as the Davis fundraiser, another celebration occurred at a small bar attached to a local theatre — organized by some of those grassroots activists, but still featuring a stump speech by Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Both were upbeat, aimed at bringing activists together to honor the most powerful and positive moments of last summer and encourage hope for the upcoming election.

I hadn’t attended either. My requests for press credentials at the Palmer Events Center went ignored — unsurprising given the chilly and deliberately hostile reaction I got from the Texas Democratic Party last summer. And the tone of the other event felt off to me — too positive for a bill that is expected to close all but 6 clinics in Texas and which is already endangering lives and causing a rising number of self-administered abortions. I didn’t hate anyone’s desire to celebrate — summer of 2013 held some unforgettable moments of popular activism showing its true power, despite the defeat. But on the filibuster’s anniversary, I felt a lingering sadness when I rode my bike through the Capitol grounds and saw only tourists — not a single person there to claim that public space for free speech and reproductive liberty.

Days later Jay Kasturi, an ally and friend from those days, invited me to co-organize a small vigil on the Capitol grounds on the one year anniversary of the bill’s actual passage. It seemed perfect to me — a chance to honor what we’d done but also all that was lost by everyone who needs open access to reproductive healthcare.

In 2013 we’d held a sit-in the small hours of July 12, and Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers — dozens of them, imported from all around the state — bore down on us in a spasm of violence and patriarchal rage. One woman had her pants pulled down as Troopers paraded her to detainment in front of witnesses. One temporarily disabled comrade of mine was pushed up and down a short flight of stairs by a pair of Troopers unable to understand why she wouldn’t comply with them until a third pointed out that she was trying to reach her cane.

Anti-police brutality activist Joshua “Comrade” Pineda was also part of that sit-in, and Troopers hurt him so badly he bled, half-conscious, onto the marble floors before being taken to the hospital for stitches in his head. He and about a dozen others still face charges for taking part in nonviolent civil disobedience.

But Pineda and all the rest we reached out to loved the idea of our vigil, and he and several others joined us that evening while others let us know they were “attending in spirit.” At 6pm, it was still in the 90s so we circled in the shade. The ritual Jay proposed was a simple one, drawn from Buddhist meditation. We’d sit in contemplative silence on the grass outside the Capitol for ten minutes, then spend about twenty on a meditative walk through the Capitol, before returning to discuss our experiences and share our feelings.

I looked around to new faces in the circle, like the family that drove out from Dallas for our vigil, and at others I’ve been working with now for years. The silence of the Capitol grounds — even broken by the voices of the handfuls of tourist families and a bride with a fleet of maids on a pre-wedding photography mission —  felt barren compared to the raucous energy that had filled them the year before.

After the sitting meditation, I followed Pineda up to that marble hallway where the final confrontation took place.

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Tar Sands Healing Walk 2014

6:39 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

Late last month, indigenous activists from Canada’s Athabasca region and their allies took part in the fifth and final “Tar Sands Healing Walk.” Over a route of about 10 miles, they marched and gave witness to the devastation that Tar Sands extraction has brought to the land.

In Yes! Magazine, Liana Lopez shares a beautiful, photo-filled essay about this direct action:

‘This isn’t protest or a rally,’ organizer Crystal Lameman told the participants in the walk. ‘This is a spiritual gathering with prayers and ceremony in order to help bring all of us to an understanding about how bad this is and why it has to stop. The best way to stop it is at the source. So we need to start here.’

The Healing Walk gathering took place from June 27 to 29, with workshops and traditional ceremonies leading up to Saturday’s walk. A lot of discussion this year centered on the Canadian Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling, announced the day before the gathering, which granted aboriginal title to the Tsilhqot’in Nation. The decision may set a precedent for other First Nations, allowing them better footing in their fight against tar sands pipelines and other forms of industrial development.

Groups even came from the United States:

In this final year of the Tar Sands Healing Walk, organizers were quick to point out that their fight is not yet won. Far from it, as tar sands extraction is ramping up in Canada. Yet, just within the last five years, awareness about the issue has spread at a tremendous pace. And this year’s Healing Walk drew participants from all over world, including, for the first time, a Gulf Coast delegation from Houston, Texas, and Mobile, Ala., where tar sands refining and storage is set to take place this year.

‘We wanted to come see the source of what will be coming to our area and learn what can be done to stop it,’ said Mae Jones, who came with the Alabama delegation. ‘We are honored to be part of the walk this year.’

As noted in Lopez’s article, the Healing Walks are ending after five years but the work is just beginning.

A row of drummers marching as they drum on the Healing Walk.

Solidarity to all the earth justice superheroes that joined this Walk! -Kit

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Thursday Watercooler

8:47 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

A Banksy rat stencil on a wall, holding a paintbrust. "I'm Out of Bed And Dressed -- What More Do You Want?"

Your liver, too.

Tonight’s music video is Yo La Tengo, recorded live on Seattle’s KEXP. This is a full 40 minute performance from their studio.

Recorded on January 18, 2013.

Songs:
I’ll Be Around
The Point of It
Ohm
Before We Run

Host: Kevin Cole / Audio Engineer: Kevin Suggs / Cameras: Jim Beckmann, Shelly Corbett & Justin Wilmore / Editor: Scott Holpainen

Agence France-Presse reports that scientists have a new technique to supercool organs — specifically, rat livers — leading to hope that we can someday preserve organs for far longer. via Raw Story:

The method involves cooling the livers while flushing them with oxygen and nutrients and preserving them in a solution containing a form of antifreeze. The livers can be conserved at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) yet not freeze and thus suffer cell damage.

All rats given livers ‘supercooled’ for three days (72 hours) were healthy after three months, a benchmark for survival. Of those who received livers stored for 96 hours, 58 percent survived to the three-month mark, said study results published in the journal Nature Medicine. Rats that received transplant livers preserved with current methods survived only for hours or days.

‘To our knowledge, this is the longest preservation time with subsequent successful transplantation achieved to date,’ said study co-author Korkut Uygun of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Engineering in Medicine. ‘If we can do this with human organs, we could share organs globally, helping to alleviate the worldwide organ shortage.’

Existing technology can preserve human livers well for up to about 12 hours outside the body.

Thanks to Eric W. Dolan for the link.

Bonus: The Books of Orange Is the New Black” from Vulture, who have some excellent analysis of the show.

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VIDEO: Cecile Richards on Hobby Lobby

5:57 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards: Unruly over Hobby Lobby

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood (and daughter of Texas Governor Ann Richards) sounds off on the topic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burvell V. Hobby Lobby on today’s Democracy Now!

Amy, there’s a lot of hypocrisy in this entire case. Hobby Lobby actually used to cover for their employees the same types of contraceptives that they are now so exercised about. So, I think what we’re seeing is there has been a concerted effort, and we have dozens of lawsuits, by employers now to challenge this birth control benefit, wanting to take it away from women, even some of the—but many of whom already covered it. I think the point is, as you said earlier, 99 percent of women in America use birth control at some point in their lifetime. For women, this is not a controversial issue. It is a basic healthcare issue. It’s an economic issue. The only controversy is: Why in the world in 2014 are we still fighting to get birth control covered by insurance plans?

It was a little over a year ago that Richards came back home to support the women of Texas in the struggle against HB2, the deadly anti-abortion law. While local reproductive justice groups often seemed terrified of civil disobedience, I can remember Cecile Richards encouraging the crowd to be loud during the people’s filibuster after Wendy Davis had been shut down. She, at least in that moment, seemed to understand how serious the war on women has become, and that true free speech is unruly and unashamed.

She commented on the parallel events earlier today on Twitter:

As Richards points out, over 80,000 have signed off on Planned Parenthood’s People’s Dissent since the Supreme Court decision came down. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of a new and even more unruly mob of freedom-loving women.

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Monday Watercooler

8:05 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

Panting dog on a sidewalk

Social Media Is Wrong: Thirsty doggies love ice water too.

Tonight’s music video is “The World Coup — THIEFA Vs. Brazil” from Juice Rap News.

THE WORLD COUP! [Juice Rap News S02:E06]. All eyes are on Brazil as it endures… errr…. hosts the 2014 soccer World Coup — the most watched sporting event on the planet. Join Robert Foster as he investigates why many Brazilians are protesting against THIEFA, the shady organisation that runs the World Cup, and the rather fascist policies it has introduced to their country ‘for the good of the game.’ But Brazil is not the only country to get shafted in this epic episode, which features exclusive interviews with captains of the strongest teams in the running for the notorious WORLD COUP. So, click play and find out why they really call it ‘The World Game.’

Written & created by Giordano Nanni & Hugo Farrant in a suburban backyard home studio in Melbourne, Australia, on Wurundjeri Land.

Thanks to Kelly Cooley for this video.

Scientists may be closer to overcoming the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria, reports Wired.Co.Uk:

A team of molecular scientists has uncovered a way to disable the defensive structure of the multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria, paving the way for new antibiotics that target this barrier. [...] Misuse of antibiotics has led to a worrying trend of drug-resistant bacteria in circulation, leading to the emergence of ‘superbugs,’ and it has been singled out as one of the greatest single problems threatening the future of our health.

‘These drug resistance numbers increase every year, making antibiotics useless, which results in hundreds and thousands of patient’s deaths,’ Changjiang Dong, from the University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School, told Wired.co.uk. ‘So we are trying to find a way to solve this drug resistance problem.’

He and his team have now found a way around this particular bacterium’s defences, according to a paper published in Nature: lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This is a molecule made up of a tough outer membrane that the UAE team wanted to crack. Until now, how the molecule’s transport proteins are utilised to create that membrane has been unknown.

The team has developed a detailed model of how the transport proteins function and move the building blocks of the molecular barrier to the surface. Now that they have the structure, they can design targeted drugs and test its function. Dong predicts the first drugs could be with us in a few years. Lead author on the paper, PhD student Haohao Dong, added: ‘The really exciting thing about this research is that new drugs will specifically target the protective barrier around the bacteria, rather than the bacteria itself. Because new drugs will not need to enter the bacteria itself, we hope that the bacteria will not be able to develop drug resistance in future.’

Bonus: Don’t listen to Facebook, ice water is usually safe for your dog this summer from Fox8 Piedmont — vets say the real danger is if a dehydrated dog drinks too much water of any temperature too fast (more information on Snopes).

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Thursday Watercooler

8:24 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

A dog asleep wearing large audio headphones

Audio dog says, “Don’t panic!”

In tonight’s video, a group called Women of Action Against Violent Extraction (WAAVE) stop the first bulldozer beginning construction on a tar sands extraction project in southeastern Utah. A statement from WAAVE via Utah Tar Sands Resistance:

Development of tar sands and oil shale on the Colorado Plateau is a violent and dangerous act requiring a bold defense. The Colorado River system, which provides water to 40 million people in the US, Mexico and many indigenous nations, is already over-tapped and tainted by numerous industrial poisons. Dirty energy kills millions world over at the site of mines, refineries, and in downsream communities. Moreover, extreme extraction like tar sands strip mining threatens our hope for a livable planet. That’s why we made a small but direct contribution to stop this violence against the Earth and its inhabitants. We invite all people to resist extreme extraction in their communities, defend life and fight for liberation.

A lot of media sources, even reputable ones like The Guardian have reported that videos by small music labels are about to vanish from YouTube. It’s not quite that simple or that dire, retorts Digital Music News, in an article titled “Everyone Calm Down. YouTube Is NOT Going To Remove Music Videos.”

It just goes to show, that a sensationalist headline is too good to pass up. And yes, if YouTube was going to rip down every video containing music that was not signed up to their new Spotify-esque music streaming service, then that WOULD be HUGE news. As it was today.

Sure, Robert Crookson of the Financial Times got the interview with Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, but even he got the story wrong. YouTube has been so secretive up to this point about it’s alleged streaming service (they hadn’t gone on record that it even exists until today) that Crookson interpreted what Kyncl said wrong.

Note that in Crookson’s article, Kyncl is not quoted anywhere saying ‘YouTube will be blocking music videos.’ Crookson said it. And everyone else repeated it.

You really think that every video that contains music is going to be ripped down if that song has not been submitted to YouTube’s new music streaming service? That would be a nightmare for YouTube. With lots of room for error.

According to an anonymous source of the author, Ari Herstand, what may be blocked is the internal ID Google uses to monetize videos.

This source explained that the ‘account’ they refer to is the CMS account you get from YouTube when you become an approved partner of their video monetization program and the account partners use to manage content ID claims. Since the streaming service and content ID will be managed under the same partner agreement, you must agree to both.

So, monetization will be shut down from videos that contain music that has not been submitted to YouTube’s music streaming service. It’s well documented that YouTube’s proposed royalty rate for independent labels and musicians on its pending music streaming service is horribly unbalanced.

This is still a harsh move — and doesn’t seem supportive of small artists at all. It doesn’t mean your favorite videos are going to be blocked or vanish overnight, but it does potentially mean that some independent musicians begin to move away from YouTube toward other platforms.

Bonus: io9 offers “10 Pseudo-science Theories We’d Like to See Retired Forever.”

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Please Save Firedoglake

2:26 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

Here at Firedoglake we’ve never been one to back down from a political fight. From our support of whistleblowers to our Occupy Supply fund during the height of OWS, this site has always sided with people over partisan politics. But now, under constant denial of service attack by our enemies, we need your help so we don’t sink under ever mounting technical support bills.

Let me talk a moment about how I got involved, and why FDL is important to me.

I’ve been a writer for a long time, but it was through the Occupy movement & FDL that I became a full-time journalist. As I witnessed arrests and injustice on the streets of Austin, Texas, I felt compelled to cover the events through livetweets and writing. I covered the Houston Port Shutdown in December of 2011, where undercover Austin Police officers led to 7 felony charges against occupiers, and the Occupy Austin eviction in February of 2012. Police targeted our livestreamer, Corey Williams, for early arrest that night, destroying his laptop in the process. Soon after, Occupy Supply sent him a new one that he still uses to this day in activism.

Women & allies in orange t-shirts block a staircase at the Texas Capitol

Firedoglake carried Kit’s live coverage of the People’s Filibuster in Texas. Now FDL needs your help to stay alive!

In April of that year, Jane invited me to join the Firedoglake team as the weekday editor of MyFDL. Ever since then I’ve been here with you almost every day Monday through Friday, enjoying your words, ideas, and images. It’s been an honor to be part of a team that includes top journalists like Kevin Gosztola, whose coverage of Chelsea Manning and the rapid loss of our right to dissent is almost unmatched. When a new issue arises I’d like us to support, the FDL team is always one step ahead of me — after Hurricane Sandy, I remember thinking, “I should email Jane about sending support to Occupy Sandy. I’ll do it in the morning.” But the next morning, Jane and talented coworkers like Bev Wright and Brian Sonenstein were already sending out action alerts to raise money for the cause.

Believe it — every time FDL gets involved with a cause, we make an impact far beyond even what our sizable monthly traffic counts should allow. That’s because our readers are engaged, active, and willing to do far more than just vote once every four years. You’re part of the solution, every day.

And Firedoglake has touched my life too. I have fibromyalgia, a disability which causes severe chronic pain and fatigue. There aren’t many jobs I can easily work with this condition — there’s days I’m out on the street covering a march for you, but others when I can barely get out of bed to feed myself. Since fibromyalgia isn’t on a list of “approved” conditions, it would require a years-long legal battle to get on Social Security Disability with no guarantee of success. Firedoglake lets me do meaningful work, and pay the rent, even on days when I’m barely mobile. Perhaps more importantly, I can think of few jobs that would allow me the freedom to cover protests like last summer’s pro-choice people’s filibuster in the Texas Legislature.

All of this could change if we can’t keep paying our bills to keep our servers on. As we begin the fight for net neutrality and continue to struggle for a real voice in politics, sites like Firedoglake are more important than ever and growing rarer ever day.

FDL reflects an incredibly wide range of viewpoints about politics and the issues of the day. What unites these views almost across the board is a belief that our politicians could do a better job of serving the people and safeguarding our planet.

Despite my personal investment in Firedoglake’s survival, if we shut down the real tragedy would be the loss of this diverse, justice-seeking viewpoint that American and global politics so desperately needs. Please donate today to keep Firedoglake alive, and share this post with your friends who read (or should read) FDL.

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Tuesday Watercooler

8:44 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

A lego minifig emerging from a space on a lego minifig-shaped ice cube tray

Suspended animation is becoming a reality under another name.

Tonight’s music video is “Tesla” by They Might Be Giants. This long video is actually 9 remixes of the same song, some instrumental. Click the icons along the side to jump between versions!

Human testing of suspended animation will soon begin on emergency room patients with severe bleeding, reports io9.

Twenty years ago, Peter Safar and Ron Bellamy proposed that the rapid induction of hypothermia could ‘buy time’ for a trauma surgical team to control bleeding. Now, thanks to the work of Peter Rhee and Samuel Tisherman, this idea is officially ready for prime time.

‘We are suspending life, but we don’t like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction,’ noted Tisherman in a New Scientist article. ‘So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation.’ The idea is to buy patients precious time during critical operations, such as after a massive heart attack, stabbings, or shootings.

The technique will be used on 10 patients who would otherwise be expected to die from their injuries. The doctors on the project will be paged when a candidate patient arrives at the hospital; there’s usually one case like this every month, typically with survival rates less than 7%.

[...] This technique involves internal rather than external cooling. A team of surgeons will remove all of the patient’s blood, replacing it with a cold saline solution; the cold fluid is administered through a large tube, called a cannula, which is placed into the aorta, the largest artery in the body. This will slow down the body’s metabolic functions, significantly reducing its need for oxygen. Then, a heart-lung bypass machine will be used to restore blood circulation and oxygenation as part of the resuscitation process. A state of profound hypothermia will be induced, at about 50ºF (10ºC), to provide a ‘prolonged period of cardiac arrest’ after extensive bleeding. In other words, clinical death.

Bonus: Stretch your notions of gender and beauty with these “Portraits of Genderqueer Nation” from Vocativ.

Donate: Both Jane Hamsher and Elliott asked today that Firedoglake’s readers chip in to keep us alive under mounting bills caused by a denial of service attack. Please consider donating to Firedoglake.

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Tuesday Watercooler

7:55 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

 

Black bloc members holding hands in a protest march

The couple that blockades together …

Tonight’s video is “How the Heart Actually Pumps Blood” from TED-Ed.

For most of history, scientists weren’t quite sure why our hearts were beating or even what purpose they served. Eventually, we realized that these thumping organs serve the vital task of pumping clean blood throughout the body. But how? Edmond Hui investigates how it all works by taking a closer look at the heart’s highly efficient ventricle system.

Lesson by Edmond Hui, animation by Anton Bogaty.

A group of activists have started OKComrade, a Facebook page which hopes to match up the revolutionary-minded who are looking for love. From Huffington Post:

OKComrade, a new dating platform which launched on May 4, bills itself as a leftist alternative to ‘bourgeois’ dating sites like OKCupid — a way for socialists, communists and anarchists to connect with like-minded revolutionaries. There are a few rules: ‘No Sexism, no racism, no heterosexism, or transphobia.’ But according to their Facebook page, you’re basically welcome to join so long as you aren’t ‘a dick.’

[...] Due to the Facebook page’s relative success in garnering about 3,700 ‘Likes,’ [Currently over 7,000 -Kit] one of OKComrade’s creators, who identified himself simply as Jacob, told The Huffington Post that his team is working hard to develop a full-blown website or mobile app.

‘We want this to be a safe space for leftists to meet people who share our values,’ he said in an email. ‘Your politics reflect those values as well as your entire worldview and it makes sense to seek out the companionship of those who share similar world-views. If Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Atheists can have their own matchmaking sites, there’s no reason someone who’s politics are one shade of red or another can’t either,’ he added.

They say a revolutionary army of lovers cannot fail … OKComrade also saw a mention on Buzzfeed. Disclaimer: I am friends with “Jacob.”

Bonus: Drone camera photographs fearsome photos of brown bear from New Scientist.

Housekeeping notes:

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