Mich. college offers course in zombies, apocalypse

Associated Press 2/10/14

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — Some Central Michigan University students are getting schooled in the undead this semester, thanks to a religion course that’s exploring apocalyptic themes in biblical texts, literature and pop culture.

Philosophy and religion faculty member Kelly Murphy says she always wanted to teach a course on apocalyptic literature, and she is a fan of AMC’s TV show “The Walking Dead.” The result is Murphy’s class, which is called “From Revelation to ‘The Walking Dead.'”

“Thinking about the end and imagining life in a different way is something that humans have always done,” Murphy said in a university release.

Murphy’s class will discuss biblical texts, review popular novels and watch clips from movies such as “Shaun of the Dead” and “28 Days Later.” Students also will discuss hypothetical ethical and theological problems that people could encounter in a post-apocalyptic world.

“The prevalence of apocalyptic stories in various media gives us a window into what people are worrying about, what they hope for and how they imagine they would react in the face of a cataclysmic event,” Murphy said. “In the same way, we can read the Book of Revelation … and learn what ancient Jewish and Christian groups were concerned about.”

Kevin White, a senior from the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores majoring in political science and religion, said it is important to incorporate popular culture into classroom settings because it helps to give students a way to connect with subjects of study.

“Studying ancient biblical texts isn’t most people’s cup of tea,” he said. “But, when you add zombies, it instantly becomes everyone’s cup of tea.”




I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Two Presidents honor Thomas Jefferson

President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande celebrated the two-nations longstanding relationship on Monday by visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate.Obama called Jefferson, who served as U.S. envoy to France before becoming president, “a Francophile through and through.
Our President being the incredible Statesman that he is. Follow the following link for the complete story:

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Sochi drone shooting Olympic TV, not terrorists

Associated Press By ANGELA CHARLTON4 2/10/14 11:22 PST

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — That drone you might have spotted hovering and zipping around the Sochi Olympic slopes isn’t searching for terrorists or protesters hiding behind the fir trees.

It’s being used to transmit live video of snowboard and ski jump competitions to a screen near you.

Unlike military drones, which often look like a remote-controlled airplane, the creature floating around Sochi resembles a huge flying spider. Drones are increasingly common at sporting events, and these Olympics is the highest-profile showcase yet for their use in broadcasting

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

First Lady Rallies Behind Gay Athlete

First Lady Michelle Obama took to Twitter on Monday to voice her support of Michael Sam, the gay college football star who came out on Sunday.

She is truly one of the great first ladies our country. Here’s the rest of the article if you’d like:

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Marijuana Farmers Unlikely To See Farm Tax Perks

DENVER (AP) — Marijuana farmers and agricultural tax breaks are the next wrinkle facing the states that have legal weed as lawmakers debate how to tax the product while it’s growing.
Legislatures in both Colorado and Washington are taking a look at pot farmers this session.

My take on this, is as the industry grows so well their profits and so will there contributions to various political candidates. I believe the right wing is very afraid of this new money coming into the political system.
Read the whole story at:

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Differences in perception in states over the economy

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index rose in all but five states in 2013. West Virginia remained the least confident state, while Massachusetts, along with the District of Columbia, was the most confident.
Read more at GALLUP.com.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

A fresh start for Hillary Clinton and liberals?

Associated Press By KEN THOMAS 2/9/14 20:34 PST

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Hillary Rodham Clinton mulls a second presidential bid, liberals are closely watching whether the onetime supporter of the Iraq war moves to the left or straddles the center.

Democrats say economic issues such as raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security have become paramount for anyone aiming to lead the party after years of tough economic times.

During the 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama, Clinton was hurt by her stand on the Iraq war while she was a senator. But she burnished her image among party loyalists during four years at the State Department in the Obama administration. Now liberals want to see how she might carry the torch from Obama.

“We’re going to see income inequality play the same role that the war in Iraq played in 2008,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group. “This is less about what she did before. The issue landscape right now is very different than in 2008.”

Whether a viable Clinton alternative emerges for the 2016 campaign remains a looming question.

Vice President Joe Biden is leaving his options open. Some liberals hope Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will reconsider statements that she has no plans to run. Others point to ex-Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who addressed a progressive group in Iowa in December, or Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a presidential run but endorsed Clinton in 2007.

Liberals have backed efforts by Warren to expand Social Security benefits instead of trimming them to keep the program solvent. In a speech at Colgate University last year, Clinton suggested she shared Obama’s approach for a “grand bargain” style deficit reduction that would include increases to tax revenue and adjustments to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Progressives want Clinton to take a tougher stand on Wall Street. They grumble about her speeches at private financial conferences, where she can command fees of $200,000.

“It’s a big unknown on where Hillary Clinton stands on issues like core economic populist issues,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. He said there are “a lot of people who want to support her and are rooting for her to adapt to the times” but if she doesn’t, there will be room for a challenger.

On Super Bowl Sunday, liberals reacted favorably when Clinton urged fellow Democrats to avoid tougher penalties against Iran as the administration negotiates a comprehensive nuclear deal.

“I have no doubt that this is the time to give our diplomacy the space to work,” Clinton wrote Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

During Hillary Clinton’s White House run in 2008, her 2002 Senate vote to authorize military force in Iraq gave an opening to Obama. He had opposed the use of force as an Illinois state senator and used the vote to energize his supporters.

Liberals deemed Clinton too hawkish on defense and wondered whether the New York senator was too closely aligned with Wall Street and would continue the centrist policies of her husband.

Last year, liberals pressured Obama not to choose Lawrence Summers, a former Clinton treasury secretary, as Federal Reserve chairman, and have said Wall Street executives wrongly escaped prosecution for the near financial collapse of 2008.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said while some activists may not be enamored with Clinton, the former first lady can connect with them on issues like early childhood education and addressing poverty. “She will be on the right side of history when it comes to progressives,” she said.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who sought the party’s presidential nomination in 2004, said he expected Hillary Clinton to face a primary challenge. But Dean predicted she would “satisfy a large number of Democratic voters, including a large number of progressives.”

“There are going to be issues where there is disagreement on. You can never please everyone,” Dean said. “The people who are not going to be pleased are well-organized voices and not a lot of votes.”

Asked whether he were considering running again, Dean was blunt: “Nope. Not as long as Hillary’s in.”

Clinton’s supporters say she always has embodied the central tenets of liberalism, the idea that government can address social problems and inequities. They point to a career that began with the Children’s Defense Fund, where she walked door to door in New Bedford, Mass., to understand why students were delinquent. She discovered many skipped school because of financial hardships or disabilities.

“She’s clearly been a progressive,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who cited her 1996 book, “It Takes a Village,” as a precursor to his prekindergarten initiative.

Others note that becoming the first female president would represent progress from the outset.

Clinton endorsed gay marriage shortly after stepping down as secretary of state last year, and she defended the Voting Rights Act, putting her in step with the party’s base. At her family’s foundation, she has promoted economic and educational opportunities for women and children, a lifelong passion.

On Twitter, Clinton has expressed support for women living in poverty and for extending unemployment benefits.

“In my mind we have a different Hillary than we had in 2008,” said Nancy Bobo, a Democratic activist from Des Moines, Iowa, who backed Obama.

Yet questions remain.

When the Clinton Foundation released its annual list of financial supporters, which it does voluntarily, it underscored the corporate support the family’s charitable organization has received, with cumulative donations of between $500,000 and $1 million from the Bank of America Foundation, Barclays PLC and ExxonMobil.

Others are watching how she will address the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices — at Colgate, she called for a “comprehensive discussion” on the security measures — along with her views of a major trans-Pacific trade deal opposed by labor unions and a proposed Canada-to-U.S. oil pipeline that environmentalists revile.

“It’s a new world out there,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America. “And we want to see that Hillary Clinton is adapting to the new world.”

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Drone strikes kill innocents by targeting NSA phone data, not people: Greenwald

By Sam Byford 2/9/14 23:13PST

The NSA’s surveillance programs are often used to help carry out drone strikes on targets, according to a new report. An anonymous former drone operator for Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) told The Intercept — a new publication helmed by Glenn Greenwald, who broke the first of many NSA revelations last year — that the US military and CIA use the NSA’s metadata analysis and phone tracking abilities to identify airstrike targets without confirming their veracity on the ground. The claims were corroborated by documents provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.


While the former JSOC operator says that the practice has been helpful in taking out known terrorists and insurgents that attack with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan, he also maintains that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the technology, which is known to be unreliable. Some targets reportedly use up to 16 SIM cards in an attempt to evade the NSA’s tracking, or lend their phones to friends or family members while unaware of the surveillance.

The Washington Post previously reported on the NSA’s involvement in drone strikes, claiming that it had become “the single most important intelligence agency in finding al-Qaeda and other enemies overseas,” with its geolocation team adopting the motto of “‘We track ’em, you whack ’em.'” But The Intercept’s report highlights the pitfalls and consequences of the technology. “Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” says the former JSOC operator. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”


“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” says the former JSOC operator. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people — we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

“They’ve gotten really smart now and they don’t make the same mistakes as they used to,” says Brandon Bryant, another former drone operator. “They’d get rid of the SIM card and they’d get a new phone, or they’d put the SIM card in the new phone.” Bryant says that drone operators are unaware of where the information on their targets comes from, claiming “If the NSA did work with us, like, I have no clue.”

The Intercept is the first publication from First Look Media, the journalism project started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who has expressed a desire to “convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens.” Among others, Greenwald is joined at the site by Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who worked with him on the Snowden leaks, and Dirty Wars author Jeremy Scahill, with whom he shares a byline on today’s report

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil