Recent reading.


Afghanistan: MSF denounces blatant breach of International Humanitarian Law in Kunduz. Statement by Dr Joanne Liu, President, MSF International. Medecins Sans Frontieres (Oct. 2015).

On the night of the bombing, MSF staff working in the hospital heard what was later confirmed to be a US army plane circle around multiple times, releasing its bombs on the same building within the hospital compound at each pass.

The building targeted was the one housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms and physiotherapy ward. Surrounding buildings in the compound were left largely untouched.

Despite MSF alerting both the Afghan and Coalition military leadership, the airstrike continued for at least another 30 minutes. The hospital was well-known and the GPS coordinates had been regularly shared with Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials, as recently as Tuesday 29 September.

This attack cannot be brushed aside as a mere mistake or an inevitable consequence of war. Statements from the Afghanistan government have claimed that Taliban forces were using the hospital to fire on Coalition forces.

These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital, which amounts to an admission of a war crime.

Afghanistan: Kunduz bombing latest. Medecins Sans Frontieres (Oct. 2015).


Financial Crimes Perpetrated by Far-Right Extremists in the United States: 1990-2013. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), Research Brief (Jun. 2015) (pdf).

The most prominent  affiliation is with sovereign citizens (40%), who believe they are freemen not subject to  governmental authority. Sovereign citizens either declare themselves to be entirely sovereign entities or members of a state republic, often creating their own common law court systems. An additional 5% were affiliated with militia or patriot groups, and 4% affiliated with white supremacists (KKK, neo-Nazi, Christian Identity, etc.). The remaining 23% of extremist individuals are tax protesters. Tax protesters use a wide array of frivolous anti-tax arguments to morally and legally justify not paying  taxes, arguing that taxes and other laws are unconstitutional, illegal, invalid, or voluntary.

10 Things I Discovered About Ayn Rand’s Addled Brain After Reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Lee, A., AlterNet (Oct. 2015) [h/t SJ]:

If you’ve ever voted for politicians who passed safety regulations or accepted any kind of loan or grant money from the government or criticized the excesses of capitalism or valued your own family more than rich strangers or done any of a hundred other seemingly innocuous things, then according to Ayn Rand, you too deserve to die. The number of people who’d meet her very strict criteria for worthiness to continue living is tiny — which is precisely the point.

[She seems nice. –Ed.]

Why Right-Wing Christian Leaders Are Often Indifferent to Needless Suffering. Tarico, V., AlterNet (Sep. 2015). [h/t SJ]

These political scientists may have just discovered why U.S. politics are a disaster. Swanson, A., The Washington Post (Oct. 2015):

This study offers evidence that inequality leads to political polarization. Though they have yet to produce definitive findings, the researchers also believe, as many others in their field do, that political polarization also in turn produces more inequality, creating a vicious feedback loop of inequality and polarized politics.

[NEWSFLASH: Hierarchy begets hierarchichal worldviews. You know, I could have saved these people the trouble of doing this study. But what do I know? I’M JUST THE WORLD’S LEADING EXPERT ON CONSERVATIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER, that’s all. –Ed.]


Exposed: Pro-Israel Modern Day McCarthyites Going to Extremes to Slime Human Rights Activists. Blumenthal, M. and Carmel J., AlterNet [Part 1 in an ongoing series] (Sep. 2015):

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a campaign against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that is spreading on American college campuses…It is inspiring an atmosphere of incitement and intimidation, and the FBI is now investigating violent threats made against BDS activists.

Netanyahu has created a special ministerial post for countering BDS, and the Israeli army recently announced its intention to monitor groups involved in boycott campaigns across the globe.

Flush With Cash, Right-Wing Extremists Train the Future Zealots of Pro-Israel Campus Activism. Blumenthal, M. and Carmel J., AlterNet [Part 2 in an ongoing series] (Oct. 2015).

Why Are Dianne Feinstein and Janet Napolitano Backing a McCarthyite Push Against Palestine Activists? Blumenthal, M. and Carmel J., AlterNet [Part 3 in an ongoing series] (Oct. 2015).

A New Report Shows That the Palestinian Movement is Under Attack in the US. Nevel, D., AlterNet (Oct. 2015).

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US. Palestine Legal (2015).


Maths palace built by calculus ‘rock star’ on sale for £11.4m. Bellos, A., The Guardian (Oct. 2015). [I can haz £11.4m na plz. kthx. –Ed.]

stewarthouse17 Satellite Photos Around the World that Will Change Your Perspective. Twisted Sifter (Jun. 2014).

central-park-new-york-city-from-above-aerial-satelliteCentral Park – New York City, USA
40°46’56″N; 73°57’55″W

Burning Man: The Portfolio. Trey Ratcliff, Stuck in Customs. [h/t SJ]

Burning-Man-Day-1 (1006 of 1210)-X3


If Pope Francis Really Wanted to Fight Climate Change, He’d Be a Feminist. Pollitt, K., The Nation (Sep. 2015). (“The world will never be healed of its ecological ills as long as women cannot control their fertility.”) [The world will never be healed of a whole lot of its ills as long as women cannot control their fertility. –Ed.]

USDA: We will not steer people away from meat to protect the environment. Whoriskey, P., The Washington Post (Oct. 2015). [This is your government on Democrats. –Ed.]


“Female Privilege” and Sexist Arguments. Poland, B., (Oct. 2015):

The concept of female privilege requires looking at a social outcome and deciding that it favors women, regardless of who had the power to make that decision or on what grounds the decision was made. If women appear to be favored, as in custody cases or “women and children first,” the reason for that choice is ignored; if women are left out, as in the draft, the basis for such exclusion is left unexamined. Key to arguing for “female privilege” is ignoring the actual beliefs about gender that inform the outcome, and simply blaming women for all of it.

Study: White people react to evidence of white privilege by claiming greater personal hardships. Edwards, D., Raw Story (Sep. 2015):

Researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business have found that white people respond to evidence that they are privileged by their race by insisting that they face greater hardships in life.

denzel-door-slam[Jeezus fucking Christ get some fucking perspective, white people. –Ed.]
[h/t feminace for the gif.]


College Talk vs. “Girl Talk” at a Texas Elementary School. Marcotte, A., Slate (Oct. 2015).



Idaho teen threatened to ‘kill all the girls’ because cheerleaders wouldn’t send him any ‘freaking nudes’. Gettys, T., Raw Story (Oct. 2015):

“Because no one will give any to me,” the teen complained. “Every one hates me.”

[Good. I hate you too, d00d. –Ed.]

It’s Not Your Kids Holding Your Career Back. It’s Your Husband. Grose, J., Slate (Nov. 2014):

The authors found, definitively, that the “opt-out” explanation is a myth.

while millennial [Harvard Business School] grads are a little more egalitarian than their older peers, half of the youngest men still assume that their careers will take precedence, and two-thirds of them assume their spouses will do the majority of child care.


Study shows that countries with more generous welfare programs have more citizens motivated to work. Einenkel, W., Daily Kos (Sep. 2015).


PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links for the fabulous Palace library does not imply 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.

Iris has a terrible headache from drugs.

Here we have a promoted story from The Washington Post highlighting a recent “scandal,” whereby some douchebro Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of an off-patent AIDS drug by like 5,000 percent or something, and now the entire Internet hates him. Even all the other drug companies hate him! The Post reports:

The major pharmaceutical and biotech industry groups have portrayed Shkreli’s actions as totally repugnant and the work of just one company, acting alone, with a flippant young chief executive who doesn’t reflect the broader values, practices, or trends of other companies.

Hahaha. Sure. The Post article proceeds to demonstrate that this is rank bullshit:

For example, tetracycline, an antibiotic discovered in 1948, cost 5 cents for a 500 milligram capsule back in November of 2013…Nearly two years later, it’s coming in at $11 a pill — a nearly 2,200 percent increase. Clomipramine, an antidepressant developed in the 1960s used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, cost 22 cents per pill in November 2012. Now, it’s $8.17 — a 3,600 percent increase.

In 2010, Amedra Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to abendazole, an off-patent drug used to treat intestinal parasites. At the time, the average wholesale price of the drug was $6 a day. By 2013, it was $120 — a nearly 2,000 percent increase.

These are hardly the only egregious examples the Post could have mentioned: this nifty interactive infographic from Bloomberg charts 74 top-selling drugs for which the cost increased in the US between 2007 and 2014 by at least 75 percent, and sometimes many multiples of that. Why, one might be inclined to wonder what’s going on here with all these skyrocketing drug prices. Alas, the Post only offers: “The trouble is this: right now, we can’t tell why prices are high, or even if they are high.”


Oh wait, no. No, it’s not. See, drug prices are not this high everywhere else, or even anywhere else: USians pay from two to six times more than the rest of the world for pharmaceuticals. Why?

Well, the short answer is that US taxpayers and consumers massively subsidize the world’s pharmaceutical research costs. For a more comprehensive answer, anyone (presumably including the bewildered author of the Post piece) can read an in-depth article at Medscape Medical News entitled, appropriately enough, Why Are Drug Costs So High in the United States?

But that is not our forte at the Palace. Here, we will just want to highlight a few perverse and corrupt policies that impact US drug pricing, and what is responsible for them. SPOILER ALERT: it’s conservatism.

Econ 101: desperation vs. demand. 

In the mythical world of the Free Market™, buyers and sellers will come to a compromise on the price for goods and services: too high, no one will buy; too low, and sellers will not have viable businesses. This is the storied principle of supply and demand, blah blah blah. But when it comes to health care, the “demand” side of the equation is driven by factors very different from those that drive demand for ordinary consumer goods. We are talking about human suffering, often profound, and sometimes the kind where life and death hangs in the balance. When that suffering human is you—or your child, or indeed anyone you love—you will pay anything for medicine and appropriate care, even if it means you lose everything.

Even post-ACA, health care is still the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US:

A recent Harvard University study showed that medical expenses account for approximately 62 percent of personal bankruptcies in the US. Interestingly, the study also showed that 72 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy due to medical expenses had some type of health insurance.

That said, the ACA is having a positive effect on some cost-related trends. For example, in 2012, 80 million people “didn’t visit a doctor or clinic for a medical problem, didn’t fill a prescription, skipped a follow-up, treatment or test, or did not get needed specialist care” because of the cost. Two years later, only 66 million people reported the same. That trend is encouraging, and so is the fact that in 2014 almost 9 million more people had health insurance coverage than in 2013, bringing the total share of uninsured down to 10.4 percent.

Now I really hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but I would be remiss if I did not point out that (a) bankruptcy and poverty are terrible fucking outcomes, (b) 33 million of us still remain uninsured, and (c) the 66 million of us who delayed or denied ourselves health care because we could not afford it is greater than the total population of the UK, where no citizen faces any of these problems for accessing health care. Ever. Nor do all 35,749,600 Canadians.

The ACA is based on a for-profit (read: conservative) health care reform model, one that Mitt Romney rolled out statewide as governor of Massachusetts. It did not slow medical bankruptcies there.

Price negotiation.

Elsewhere, single-payer and nationalized systems like the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) negotiate a single price with drug manufacturers for the entire country’s supply. By contrast, the US “system,” if one can even call it that, is mainly comprised of multiple for-profit insurance companies and hospital systems, all running countless different programs and plans, each of which negotiates pricing separately. In this scenario the sole supplier of any drug, patented or generic, has the upper hand. But where there are only a few large payers—or only one—drug companies are forced to come to the table and offer a reasonable price if they want access to that market.

And here’s the kicker: government-run Medicare, one of the largest payers for prescription drugs, is prohibited by law from negotiating drug pricing. You read that right. This was already true before the ACA, which only cemented it. That is because pharmaceutical companies got what they wanted with the ACA: “We got a good deal,” wrote Bryant Hall of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), one of the largest, most influential lobbying groups in Washington.

One need look no further for proof of the power of negotiation than the government-run Veterans Administration, which is not barred from negotiating drug prices: costs run 25% to 50% lower than Medicare.

In 1992, federal Medicare spending on drugs was $400 million. By 1999 it was $7 billion. By 2013, $50 billion. Gosh, I wonder what it’ll be in a decade? EXCITING.


The ACA also banned reimportation: US patients cannot legally purchase less expensive drugs from another country like Canada. While the ACA was being cooked up by lobbyists and the Democratic president behind closed doors, PhRMA lobbyist Bryant Hall wrote that “WH [the White House] is working on some very explicit language on importation to kill it in health care reform.” Neat, huh?

But don’t you feel left out, my Canadian friends! PhRMA is coming for you, too:

“America’s big drug companies are intensifying their lobbying efforts to ‘change the Canadian health-care system’ and eliminate subsidized prescription drug prices enjoyed by Canadians” … “A prescription drug industry spokesman in Washington confirmed to CanWest News Service that information contained in confidential industry documents is accurate and that $1 million US is being added to the already heavily funded drug lobby against the Canadian system.” PhRMA was the leading drug industry trade group behind the increased lobbying and PR campaign. PhRMA was also independently spending $450,000 to target the booming Canadian Internet pharmacy industry, which has been providing Americans with prescription drugs at lower prices than in the United States.

And the UK’s NHS is barreling down the same road.

But fret not. This is only happening because Free Market™ health care is SUPER AWESOME! Once people wake up and smell the freedom, they will never want to pay reasonable prices for drugs again.

Comparative drug review.

Other countries compare drugs to determine whether a new, higher-cost treatment is any more effective than existing alternatives. These investigations can inform price negotiation, or determine whether a drug gets approval at all. In the US, our FDA has no legal authority to consider pricing, or to compare medications to one another. Even if it did have the authority, FDA does not even have the resources to confirm that data supplied by drug companies is accurate and complete—or, you know, not. Conservatives, chronically infected with deregulatory fever, will never task a federal agency with assessing the value of a new drug. After all, that might interfere with the Free Market™ gouging US patients on drug pricing. NO ONE WANTS THAT.

But what about research and development huh what about R&D?

The pharmaceutical industry defends its US pricing more or less thusly: it costs over a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, and furthermore, more drugs fail to make it than succeed. We want to incentivize new and better drugs, don’t we?

YES! And that is why US taxpayers fund 85% of the basic research. No wonder US companies generate most new drug discoveries! GO USA! We also helpfully elect corrupt politicians who let the industry’s lobbyists write our nation’s health care laws. Yet strangely, we get nothing in return for any of this, while other countries reap the benefits. Consider the new hepatitis C drug, sofosbuvir. US patients will pay $80,000 to $160,000 for a course of treatment, while in Egypt and India the manufacturer has agreed to charge $900 per patient. And it’s still enormously profitable: a course of sofosbuvir costs only $138 to produce.

Nobody disputes that it’s a risky and expensive proposition to develop a new drug. But they do dispute the numbers. An oft-cited analysis by the Tufts Center pegs the development cost for a new drug at about $1.3 billion. Hagop M. Kantarjian, MD, professor and chair at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, begs to differ. In a 2013 paper he co-authored on cancer drug costs, Dr. Kantarjian and his colleagues suggest the actual figure might be as low as 10% of that:

“The figure may be inflated, because it includes ancillary expenses, salaries, bonuses, and other indirect costs not related to research or development, as well as an 11% compounded discount rate over 10 years based on stock market returns on capital investment,” they write. “Other independent estimates of cost of drug development put the figure as low as 4% to 25% of this estimate.”

Moreover, “R&D” for some new drugs apparently means “buying a smaller company that already did the R&D.” Gilead’s sofosbuvir, the hepatitis C wonder drug, is once again illustrative. When Gilead bought Pharmasset, Inc. in 2012 for $11.2 billion, Pharmasset reported $62 million in R&D costs over the three years to develop sofosbuvir (out of $177 million spent on R&D company wide over the same period). Before the Gilead buyout, Pharmasset was planning to make a reasonable profit selling sofosbuvir at $36,000 for a course of treatment; Gilead is now charging $80,000 to $160,000. Unless you live in Egypt or India, of course—then it’s only 900 bucks. FREE MARKET™ HEALTH CARE, everyone.

Another analysis published in the BMJ estimates the typical R&D cost at between $60 million and $90 million. But even if the $1.2 billion figure is accurate, there is no justification for US taxpayers and patients disproportionately footing the bill. Especially when we pay dearly in other ways, too: with people bankrupted for accessing life-saving medication, or going without it altogether.

There is a solution: Medicare For All, where “all” includes congresscritters. Just for starters, you would see drug prices negotiated so fast it would make your head spin, and we’d all find just how far they can fall. We really could have a less corrupt and more equitable system, in which corporate greed is not the driver of pharmaceutical innovation or pricing—human health is. But it’s just not going to happen unless and until we find the cure for conservatism. And it sure as shit isn’t in the interests of the pharmaceutical industry to cure that.

And listen. Lest you think I’m just a lefty kook talking out of my ass with no skin in this game: I am alive today only because of pharmaceutical innovations and the privilege to access them affordably. I’m a Type 1 diabetic, and I inject two different bio-engineered insulin analogs daily. I also take several oral medications to mitigate or prevent complications of the disease. I am grateful for this every fucking day. My grandmother’s generation had few alternatives to pig-derived insulin, which could be suddenly and violently rejected at any time by the body’s immune system (sometimes causing premature death), and rendering it useless as an intervention such that the disease would take its natural course (always causing premature death). In fact, as a young adult my grandmother’s sister died from complications of Type 1 diabetes.

I am not arguing for abolishing profits and nationalizing the drug companies. (Not yet, anyway. But if they keep this shit up I just might.) Again, I am arguing for a less corrupt and more equitable paradigm, wherein corporate greed is not the primary driver of pharmaceutical innovation or pricing—human health is.


Rock bottom cookies.

[CN: sexual assault “humor” as branding.]

So I saw this sign on the counter of a concession stand at a movie theater in Chelsea today. (I saw The Martian, by the way, which was freaking awesome. !) Now, it is true that I am one of those notorious Humorless Feminists™ you have undoubtedly heard a lot about, so you might want to keep this very important fact in mind here. But…



“Grabba Sweet Bottom ;D”? That’s your fucking trademark? May I politely suggest—as someone who has had her “sweet bottom” grabbed without her consent (by MEN of course) on too many occasions to count, much less recount—that these Sweet Bottom Cookie people just go right ahead and fuck themselves, and then go fuck right off? Yeah? Like, right now? Thanks, ever so much.

And I get the sweet bottom/butt joke, I really do. I think it’s boring and infantile and infantilizing, but yes I understand it. And I like butts! I like ogling butts, I like butt sex, I like butt porn, I even like butt jokes! I am a fan of The Butt. But see, when you add grabbing? To sweet bottom? It ceases to be merely uninspired humor, and moves squarely into the realm of rape culture. Butts do not exist for the grabbing, not without the butt owner’s consent. That is sexual assault. And you know what? It is not fucking funny. Girls and women do not need products marketed to them with the message that butt grabbing is normal and fun and funny and not harmful in any way. And believe me, boys and men certainly do not need that message reinforced, either.

Here’s some more clever marketing:

sbc3Oh hahaha! Geddit?

sbc2Freddie Mercury hates you too. Or he would if he were alive

This is who we’re dealing with here, people.


palacefuckyou(Extra FUCK YOU, just for Michele Lewis.)

You can contact this asshole here to inform her that a Humorless Feminist™ has nothing but bottomless (<—hahaha) contempt for her sexual assault “joke” shenanigans.

FYI: Now that Michele Lewis’s Sweet Bottom Cookie company has partnered with Nestlé, I’m sure you can look forward to a sexual assault “joke” on a cookie wrapper coming soon to a convenience store near you!

Recent reading.


Federal bust of long-running escort site leads to protests. Mullin, J., Ars Technica (Sep. 2015). [The Department of Homeland Security, people: Keeping Us Safe™ from the consensual gay sex terrorists. –Ed.]

Minister Louis Farrakhan Wants Jay Z To Keep Beyonce “Covered”. Robertson, I., Vibe (Sep. 2015). [HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! STFU 4EVAH, Lou. –Ed.]


Americans are leaving religion. Why are we still subsidizing it? Niose, D., The Washington Post (Sep. 2015). [Why indeed. –Ed.]


The Hypocrisy of the Anti-Muslim Bigotry Arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, in One Tweet. Levine, J., (Sep. 2015):

ahmedtexastweetThe tweet shows the younger Mohamed, left, in handcuffs as police led him out of his high school Monday. On the right are two white, gun-holding children who showed up with other open carry activists at a 2014 arts festival in Fort Worth, Texas, where the group had previously been banned. Neither the children nor other members of the group were arrested.


tysonaliens[Oh, I don’t know, Neil. I’m not surprised, why should aliens be? Have you met humans? –Ed.]

Here’s what happens when you try to replicate climate contrarian papers. Nuccitelli, D., The Guardian (Aug. 2015):

[T]here is no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming. Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on. There is a 97% expert consensus on a cohesive theory that’s overwhelmingly supported by the scientific evidence, but the 2–3% of papers that reject that consensus are all over the map, even contradicting each other. The one thing they seem to have in common is methodological flaws like cherry picking, curve fitting, ignoring inconvenient data, and disregarding known physics.


Picture yourself as a stereotypical male. Michelle G., MIT Admissions (Sep. 2015):

As it turns out, there is zero statistically significant gender difference in mental rotation ability after test-takers are asked to imagine themselves as stereotypical men for a few minutes. None.

Similar findings have been shown regarding racial identities: for example, asking black students to indicate their race before a test both significantly increases their anxiety and lowers their test scores.


17 Genius Tweets from the Person who Allegedly ‘Sits Next to Kim Davis’. SheWired (Sep. 2015):


[LOL. –Ed.]

oscarwildetruth[They might kill you anyway. –Ed.]


30 military cadets hurt in West Point pillow fight. Yahoo News (Sep. 2015).

The brawl left 24 young cadets with concussions, The Academy told the paper, after reports that some stuffed their pillows with hard objects.

A total of 30 cadets were injured, and students reported that the list of wounds included one broken leg as well as dislocated shoulders.

No disciplinary measures have been taken against the cadets and there were no plans to end the yearly brawl…

[Shit mocks itself, really. –Ed.]


Why the Fuck you Lyin’, Carly Fiorina? Feminace, Seriously?!? (Sep. 2015):

You wanna end [Planned Parenthood]? Offer to be its CEO.

[BOOM. –Ed.]

shirleychisholmabortionJeb Bush would rather you forget that his grandfather helped found Planned Parenthood. Palma, S., Dead State (Aug. 2015):

the grandfather and father of the last two Bush presidents, Prescott Bush, was the treasurer of the organization in its early years.

Republican’s mind [sic] blown when witness tells him some Planned Parenthood patients are mothers. Gettys, T., Raw Story (Sep. 2015):

“How can they be the mothers of the children when children are aborted through Planned Parenthood?” Sensenbrenner said…“Well, I don’t think that there’s statistics that indicate that’s the case.”

[Here in reality—a place conservatives are only dimly aware of, I know—61 percent of women who seek an abortion already have at least one child. And yeah, “there’s statistics that indicate that’s the case.” FFS. –Ed.]

The War on Women is Over—And Women Lost. Redden, M., Mother Jones (Sep. 2015):

“Sometimes, I feel like I’ve gone back 40-some years,” [Renee Chelian, founder and CEO of Northland Family Planning Centers] says. “And I can hardly believe that.” Women trek hundreds of miles north from Dayton, Ohio, or east from South Bend, Indiana, for an abortion at one of her centers. Some are already miscarrying—probably after taking pills or herbal concoctions they got from the internet. A few have tried to open their cervix by digging into it with a sharp object.



Trying to follow what is going on in Syria and why? This comic will get you there in 5 minutes. Huber, A., UpWorthy (Sep. 2015).

Decoding the Current War in Syria: The Wikileaks Files. Ganesan, J., Global Research (Sep. 2015):

The US strategically schemed to cause unrest in Syria against the Bashar al-Assad government. Faced with the rise of ISIS, which the US was not only aware of but also encouraged, the US slides deeper into a complicated war it helped escalate in the first place…


Invisible War Crimes – The Corporate Media On Yemen. DC, Media Lens (Sep. 2015).

The overarching framework, Chomsky points out, is the so-called Clinton Doctrine, named after former US president Bill Clinton. The doctrine asserts that United States is entitled to the ‘unilateral use of military power’ to ensure ‘uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources’. This entitlement is dressed up as alleged ‘security’ or ‘humanitarian’ concerns.

Mosaic of Facts. Francis-Santiago, M., RT via youtube (Sep. 2015). (VIDEO).

Miguel Francis-Santiago delves deep to try to understand the intricacies of information war. He meets media experts and puts together the Mosaic of Facts, showing how public opinion is manipulated, not just over the Ukrainian Crisis but throughout the world.

[Behold: your liberal media. –Ed.]


Colorado Becomes First State In History To Collect More Taxes From Pot Than Alcohol. Taylor, C., Occupy Democrats (Sep. 2015). [Doooooood. That’s, like, sooooo freakin’ awwsummm? –Ed.]


The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s Dictatorship Started. Grandin, G., The Nation (Sep. 2015):

In the 1970s, socialism was, for many, on the horizon of the possible, with the principle of “excess profit” seen as a way for exploited countries to, in Allende’s words, “correct historic wrongs.” Today, forget nationalization, much less socialism. If the TPP is ratified and ISDS put into effect, countries won’t be able to limit mining to protect their water supply or even enforce anti-tobacco regulation.

This September 11, as the Obama administration makes its final push for the TPP, it’s worth taking a moment to realize why all those people in Chile—and in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, and throughout Latin America—died and were tortured: to protect the “future profits” of multinational corporations.

Swedish nurses experiment with 6-hour work day and efficiency goes up and turnover goes down. Einenkel, W., Daily Kos (Sep. 2015):

There are drawbacks to this. It costs some money and CEOs cannot make 300 times more than their workforce if they do this. You also may only be able to buy a new private jet once every ten years and not once every three years. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country where I can’t dream about owning more stuff than other people and then telling them they’re lazy…


PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links for the fabulous Palace library does not imply 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.

So let me get this straight.

ahmedmohamedBy now everyone in the world with an Internet connection knows the story: 14-year-old Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at his Texas high school for the unconscionable crime of bringing in a home-built clock to show his engineering teacher. Teachers, administrators and police pretended the clock might be a bomb (because OMFG he’s a Muslim! HELLO?!!!), but of course they never for one second believed any such thing. Otherwise the school would have been evacuated immediately, and a bomb squad sent in. Instead, five regular cops showed up and proceeded to physically handle the scary, scary clock, search all of Ahmed’s belongings, confiscate his tablet, and then sit around with the principal interrogating the kid. When he was first pulled out of class to meet the officers, one whom the teen did not recognize leaned back in his chair and said: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” The principal threatened to expel him if he did not make a written statement.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed said.

“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”


Ahmed’s clock was decorated with a hologram tiger image on the front, which to me suggests a movie time machine, not a movie bomb, but what do I know? I am not a professional law enforcement officer trained to spot movie bombs (but not clocks).

Choking back tears, Ahmed was hauled through the hallways in handcuffs to shocked looks and gasps from other students and his guidance counselor. He was taken to a juvenile detention facility for processing: mug shots, finger prints, the whole deal—plus another round of interrogation by police, again with neither his parents nor a lawyer present. The ordeal ended when his parents arrived to pick him up.

Police have admitted they did not alert the bomb squad because, just like the teachers and school administrators, no one ever actually suspected Ahmed’s clock was a bomb. They arrested him because, they say, “he could offer no ‘broader explanation’ for his clock besides describing it as a device that measures time.”

I have to admit they’ve got me there. I am sitting here scratching my head, trying to come up with a broader explanation for a clock besides, you know, a device that measures time. But try as I might, I cannot for the life of me conceive of any other explanation. Any Ph.D. physicists among my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ who would care to enlighten me? Because apparently the Irving Texas police department understands something about a broader explanation for clocks that I…I just don’t get. :(

So then the flaming asshole principal sent a self-righteous ass-covering letter to district parents, posing as the Great and True American Hero™ of this colossal farce:

In Irving ISD and at MacArthur High School, your child’s safety and well-being is always our top priority [unless your child is named Ahmed Mohamed, obviously] and we want to maintain open, honest and timely communication with you [and/or lie to you to cover up our comical negligence and overt racism and bigotry]. If there was ever an imminent threat to your child [again, unless your child is named Ahmed Mohamed], we would take immediate and necessary precautions [except for evacuating during a bomb scare], and we would inform you immediately. [Or maybe not: we might call the police instead, and then we’ll all sit around interrogating, searching and bullying your child.]

Irving Police Department responded to a suspicious-looking item [person] on campus yesterday. We are pleased to report that after the police department’s assessment the item [person] discovered at school did not pose a threat to your child’s safety [except if your child is named Ahmed Mohamed—then of course all bets are off].

Our school is cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation [!!!?], and we are handling the situation in accordance with the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws [which CLEARLY prohibit all clocks, watches and any other devices by which students might discover the time of day]. Please rest assured that we will always take necessary steps to keep our school as safe as possible [for those students who are not named Ahmed Mohamed. In case that wasn’t clear].

If the principal were not a case study in Conservative Personality Disorder, the letter might have read something more like this one, at the blog Without Bullshit:

I need to run a school in a town with a community of Muslims and a few Muslim-haters, too. Please stop thanking me and the police chief for our vigilance. I know this looks bad. In the future, I’ll try to hassle students of all races and religions equally.

Have a conversation with your kids about making friends with people who are different from themselves. That’s the best way to make sure we all know what’s going on, and can tell a boy with a clock from one with an assault rifle.

Sincere but stressed, your principal

Yeah. And maybe include in that conversation with your kids the fact that “over the last three decades, 90 percent of high school or elementary school shootings were the result of White, often upper-middle class, perpetrators.” Which reminds me of this:

racistturbanwhiteguymovietheaterorschoolThe criminal charges against Ahmed were eventually dropped but the school still gave him a three-day suspension, presumably for being able to tell time on campus.

CPCCrPjU8AI_5bJThe upside for Ahmed is that the Twitterverse rose mightily to the occasion: he now has a personal invitation from our American Muslim child murdering president to bring his clock to the White House, an invitation from Mark Zuckerberg to meet with him at Facebook, and invitations from MIT and Harvard to tour their physics labs. An anonymous donor has paid for a scholarship for Ahmed to attend Space Camp. YAY.


Meanwhile, here is a story about another 14-year old boy, who built a fucking nuclear reactor in the lab at his school. Not a clock, mind you, and not a movie bomb (or even a movie nuclear reactor). No. AN ACTUAL NUCLEAR FUSION REACTOR. Not surprisingly, officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy took a keen interest, which is why his belongings were confiscated and he was arrested, searched and interrogated multiple times, without his parents or a lawyer present.

I’m just kidding. DHS and DoE offered that kid technical assistance, equipment and an invitation to submit a grant proposal. The kid paraded around with his fusion reactor at a bunch of science fairs to much acclaim, and won over $100,000 in prizes, a trip to Switzerland and a tour of the Large Hadron Collider.

Care to guess what color his skin was? Go ahead, guess. I’ll give you a hint: his name is Taylor Wilson.

Via Gawker, here are seven clock-building students not named Ahmed Mohamed “who got off scot-free for the heinous crime of DIY timekeeping, plus a bonus kid who brought an actual inert bomb to school.” He wasn’t even suspended.


Anyway, I fucking love this Ahmed Mohamed kid.

Fortunately, Ahmed has no plans to return to his shitty high school. “I’m thinking about transferring from MacArthur to any other school,” he says. Good thinking there, Ahmed. Perhaps you might consider transferring to any other country. I highly recommend Costa Rica! :D 

Ahmed Mohamed embodies everything that used to be great about this country: education, innovation, opportunity, ambition, optimism, freedom. Now, he represents what we have become: a fascist, racist police state.

Welcome to post-racial ‘Murikkka, people. Nothing to see here.


Have a nice day.


The art of awkward conversation.

[CONTENT NOTE: racism/White Supremacy, xenophobia (FROM AN IMMIGRANT…), fat shaming, food policing, general assholery.]

I mentioned recently that I had been traveling through the region of the country I call Pennsyltucky. I was accompanying My Amazing Lover™ to a conference in Dallas, TX, where I had occasion to take the hotel shuttle to the Dallas Galleria shopping mall. I know, I know: you simply cannot envision Your Humble Monarch™ ever gracing with her presence such a monument to base consumerism, labor exploitation and fluorescent lighting. But you would be wrong for at least three reasons, two of which are generally applicable and one specific to this particular point in spacetime:

  1. New Yorkers don’t really have malls per se, so an opportunity to partake of the same indoor shopping ritual so many of my fellow citizens perform on a regular basis is rare for us indeed. (Yes we have the Manhattan Mall, which is small and always overcrowded and no one I know has ever gone there more than once. WE DON’T EVEN SPEAK OF IT.) An argument could be made that excepting Central Park, the entire island of Manhattan is essentially one enormous shopping mall. But a shopping excursion here is an entirely different experience from mall shopping altogether. For example: weather is a factor.
  2. Cultural anthropology, people. Intrepid journalists and pontificating pundits (such as myself) must go forth from time to time and, horrifying though it may be, bravely gaze with our own eyes upon the suburban American zeitgeist. For instance, one might notice (and then ponder the implications of) the fact that the Dallas Galleria contains not one but two sports memorabilia shops, and not one single book store.
  3. During my travels, a very happy event occurred: the daughter of My Amazing Lover™ gave birth to a gorgeous and healthy baby girl, a few weeks earlier than expected. We wanted to meet her as soon as possible upon our return, and of course no envoy from the Palace would ever dream of doing so without bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh non-toxic age-appropriate gifts. Thus a trip to a shopping mall seemed in order. (Where, by the way, I totally scored some great deals on some cool stuff EXCEPT FOR BOOKS BECAUSE THERE ARE NO BOOKS THERE.) Perhaps somewhat relevant to the rest of this post is the fact that this beautiful child is biracial.

I sat on a bench under a shade tree just outside the entrance to a Banana Republic, waiting for the hotel shuttle’s return. I was soon joined by a middle-aged woman who spoke very good English with a distinct Russian accent. (Let’s call her Elena.) Elena asked if I was with the same group she was and headed back to the same hotel, and I said yes. We made small talk about the weather and the conference hotel and whatever. The rest of our conversation went something like this.


ELENA: The driver that brought me here was so rude.

IRIS: Huh. Mine wasn’t, he was nice and very helpful.

ELENA: Can you believe he had a big sign behind his seat, right in my face, that said “tips are appreciated”? For what? It’s only a five minute drive!

IRIS: Well I gave mine five bucks. Seemed worth it to me—a cab would probably cost more. Plus I have no idea what his pay is, so.

[A group of three young women pass us on their way into the mall. ELENA’s gaze follows them. IRIS ignores them and checks her phone for messages.]

ELENA: Did you know that by 2040 or 2050, white people will be in the minority in this country?

IRIS: [looks up. stares at ELENA.]

ELENA: The same thing is happening to Europe, too. [shakes head disapprovingly.]

IRIS: Good. We’ve certainly done a terrible job and made a HUGE mess of things.

ELENA: …well, I was…um…

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA:  …I read that, so…

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA: …I was just saying something about what I read…

IRIS: (aside)

wonkaminorityImage: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, smirking amusedly.

ELENA: …I was just making conversation…so…

IRIS: Yes. This is a conversation.

[Hotel shuttle arrives. ELENA and IRIS climb in and THE DRIVER, who appears black, pulls away.]

ELENA: So Iris where are you from?

IRIS: I live in New York City. Originally from Philadelphia.

ELENA: [points to the “tips are appreciated” sign, rolls her eyes exaggetatedly.] I live in South Carolina, but I’m Russian.

IRIS: Well. That’s quite a difference.

ELENA: Yes it is. You know I have to cook every single meal? Because Southern food is just awful.

IRIS: Huh. [vividly imagines buttered grits, biscuits & gravy, slow-cooked BBQ ribs, fried chicken, peach cobbler, pecan pie, banana pudding…]

ELENA: I tell you, we cannot even go out to eat! Everything at the restaurants is fried! It’s disgusting!

IRIS: It’s delicious.

ELENA: It’s why everyone is so fat!

IRIS: Is it?

ELENA: I cannot eat it! This food!

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA: I don’t need it. No one needs it!

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA: [stares out the window glumly.] Hmm.

[THE DRIVER soon parks the shuttle in front of the hotel.]

IRIS: [very cheerily] It was so great meeting you Elena! I’ll see you tonight at the cocktail hour!

ELENA: Uh, very nice meeting you too. Yes.

[IRIS makes a beeline toward the hotel bar.]



Hat tip to the amazing Captain Awkward, who frequently reminds me that whenever people say shitty things, it’s okay to let the horrid stench of their verbal poo linger in the air, without response or acknowledgement of any kind. This has a tendency to make them very uncomfortable, which when you think about it is really an ideal result.

Last month in mockery.

I was just going to plunk this into a link roundup, but upon re-reading it I like it so much I really want to highlight it. It has everything Loyal Readers™ crave: the appalling truth about how our government and media actually operate, witty snark, and a cudgel with which to clobber conservatives, all of it expressed by someone who clearly relishes the opportunity and/or understands the necessity of doing so.

A few weeks ago, a blogger at Daily Kos who goes by mtosner posted The Biggest Scandal in US History That We’re Still Not Talking About, based on this truly excellent 3-part work of investigative journalism by Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr for Reuters from July.

That would be July of 2013.

Take it away mtosner:


The above is roughly what 8.5 Trillion dollars would look like… and those are $100 bills. Take another look and let that sink in for a bit…   I find it absolutely astonishing that the pentagon could lose track of this much money and for there to be no MSM coverage of this scandalous amount of mismanagement and fraud. Where is the demand for accountability? Why is the first question to ANY candidate for president not “What would you do about the massive fraud and waste at the Pentagon?”  Where are the hearings, nay indictments, that are warranted when a sum equal to 1/2 of our national debt can be sent to the pentagon to never be accounted for.

In an update, the author also notes the fact that since 1996, the Pentagon has been required by law to be “audit ready.” In the nearly 20 years that have passed since then, no real accounting systems have been implemented, much less actual audits. I have been traveling the last day or so through the part of our country I refer to as Pennsyltucky, with brief stops in Latrobe, PA, Lexington, KY and Memphis, TN (don’t ask), and I can attest that every television screen in sight is broadcasting Republican warmongers whinging about the Iran deal, and no one appears the slightest bit concerned with the mysteriously missing EIGHT AND A HALF TRILLION DOLLARS. Why just this morning, I caught my BFF George Pataki yammering on CNN about how the U.S. got “nothing” from the Iran deal. And here I thought “not going to war with Iran” would be less expensive in terms of blood and treasure than, you know, actually going to war with Iran. Silly me. I mean at this point, what’s a few more trillion dollars down the rabbit hole, plus thousands more dead and maimed soldiers, millions of dead, maimed and displaced Iranians, and yet another politically unstable country in the Middle East? “Nothing,” that’s what.

Of course $8.5 trillion worth of Pentagon corruption and/or incompetence (with no end in sight) affects virtually everyone across the nation, but soldiers and veterans suffer the worst of it by far. Just read the first part of the Reuters series to see what “supporting the troops” looks like in practice.

With all of that as backdrop, mtosner urges us to get our game on and work that $8.5 trillion into every political conversation we have, especially with conservatives*. To wit:

“What’s that? Body cameras for all cops will be too expensive? How bout we find 1/10,000th of the money we sent to the pentagon.”

“Oh really? There’s 500 million in provable food stamp fraud going to poor people how bout the 8.5 TRILLION the pentagon can’t account for?”

“Oh really? You think Obama care is going to cost us almost a trillion dollars over 15  years? How about the 8.5 Trillion that just disappeared into the ether at the pentagon? What’s you’re take on that?”

“Oh really, you’re concerned about deficit spending and the debt? Fully 1/3 of the national debt it is money we sent the Pentagon and they can’t tell us where it went. It’s just gone.”

“College for everyone will cost too much? You must be really pissed at the 8.5 Trillion, with a ‘t’, dollars the pentagon’s spent and can’t tell us where it went.”

Yes indeed.

Moreover mtosner is correct that the corporate media’s silence on this issue (among others) ought to require the modification of the oft-used term Military-Industrial-Complex to Military-Industrial-Media-Complex. Then again, when defense contractor GE owns NBC—including MSNBC, beloved by liberals who think Rachel Maddow is as leftist as it gets—perhaps it’s redundant. As mtosnter points out, “It seems for few hundred million in ‘be all you can be’ ad buys the MSM will keep it’s mouth shut.”

I do have a few nits to pick with mtosner, though, who suggests that this exercise exposes conservatives’ hypocrisy. This is true as far as it goes, but conservatives are notoriously impervious to charges of hypocrisy no matter how blatant (just think of all the sexual shenanigans by the Traditional Marriage™ types). But my bigger disagreement with mtosner is the characterization of any of this as “scandalous,” as if it represented some kind of aberration in the way things ordinarily operate. It isn’t. It only appears that way if you buy into the illusion that we are living in anything resembling a constitutional democracy.

*Unless you are simply enjoying sharpening your fangs, I don’t generally recommend having conversations with conservatives, ever, unless there is an audience. In that case it’s your goddamn patriotic duty to mock them mercilessly and thereby, perhaps, enlighten your fellow citizens. It’s not like the corporate media is going to do the job for us, people.


Today in Mockery.

This week not one but two outstanding activist mockers managed to warm my cold little heart and ignite a tiny spark of hope for humanity, however fleetingly.

First via Raw Story, we learned of comedian Ted Androsky’s Twitter campaign to raise money for Planned Parenthood by taunting Sen. Ted Cruz in an effort to get himself blocked by the Republican presidential candidate. Cruz has promised to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood if elected president, because like the True Conservative Christian™ he is, he really wants poor women to give birth to a whole lot of babies they do not want and to suffer from numerous preventable and curable diseases, all of which the state will have to pay for one way or another. In reality, of course—a concept with which conservatives are only minimally acquainted—it is already true that no federal funding can ever be used for abortion services, anywhere, precisely because of disease-loving Forced Birthers like Ted Cruz.*

After Androsky tweeted about getting blocked by the Church of Scientology, a friend dared him to target Cruz next by promising to donate $100 to the charity of his choice if the Cruz campaign blocked him. Game on.

What started with silly memes escalated when Androsky began urging supporters to use Planned Parenthood’s online form to donate directly, then “select ‘in honor of’ and use the name fields to make a joke about @tedcruz.” That led to screenshot captures such as gems such as: 

“On behalf of everyone here at Planned Parenthood, thank you so much for your gift of $10 to Planned Parenthood, in honor of Ted Cruz’s Minions bath toys.”


“in honor of that time Ted Cruz tried to pet a dog but it farted and he cried,”

and my personal favorite:

“in honor of the time Ted Cruz pouted for a week because his wife wouldn’t sleep in the garage when she was on her period.”

There are so many more on Androsky’s Twitter timeline, peppered with outraged anti-choicer rantings about Planned Parenthood’s terrible Nazism etc. Good times.

The comedian also had some insightful things to say about activism and this Twitter stunt specifically:

“I think the reason this has resonated with people is because this Republican field is so cartoonish. They’re monsters and they’re dangerous, sure, but it’s so over-the-top now that it’s so easy to push it into comedy. Activism is a serious thing, but online activism in many cases is so self-serious that it gets in its own way of actually doing anything. Being another white guy who just complains or makes jokes about injustice while my life isn’t under any threat felt hollow.”

“Ted Cruz is truly evil,” he explained. “Why not combat it with targeted silliness?”

Why not indeed.

When asked how much money he hoped to raise for Planned Parenthood, Androsky said, “My goal is to raise $2,294,642, because that spells out ‘bazinga’ on a phone keypad.”

Well played, Mr. Androsky.

Next up comes a speech from perhaps our greatest living mocker, Stephen Colbert. It’s from 2012, but we only stumbled upon it recently—and it remains just as relevant today if not more so. The occasion was a gala celebrating Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, and among the honorees were Colbert and notorious supervillain and enemy of all life on planet Earth, David Koch. The whole speech is fantastic, but the section directed to Koch is some seriously primo shit:

Of course, all of us should be honored to be listed on the TIME 100 alongside the two men who will be slugging it out in the fall:  President Obama, and the man who would defeat him, David Koch. Give it up everybody.  David Koch.

Little known fact — David, nice to see you again, sir.

Little known fact, David’s brother Charles Koch is actually even more influential. Charles pledged $40 million to defeat President Obama, David only $20 million.  That’s kind of cheap, Dave.

Sure, he’s all for buying the elections, but when the bill for democracy comes up, Dave’s always in the men’s room. I’m sorry, I must have left Wisconsin in my other coat.

I was particularly excited to meet David Koch earlier tonight because I have a Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC, and I am — thank you, thank you — and I am happy to announce Mr. Koch has pledged $5 million to my Super PAC. And the great thing is, thanks to federal election law, there’s no way for you to ever know whether that’s a joke.

By the way, if David Koch likes his waiter tonight, he will be your next congressman.


It reminds me of a meme I saw on Facebook recently:

billlawHard to say whether this qualifies as mockery, straight up journalism, or just an ordinary page from a U.S. middle school civics textbook.

*Of course conservatives generally have no trouble at all funding the killing and maiming of brown babies and pregnant people on the other side of the globe with sanctions regimes, cluster bombs and drones. No word yet from the Republican presidential candidates on inflicting numerous preventable and curable diseases on these folks too, but we can assume statements from their respective campaigns on this important issue will be forthcoming shortly. I will promptly update this post when we have them.

Recent reads.



Immigrant Teens Less Likely To Commit Crime, Consume Drugs, Study Finds. Attanasio, C., Latin Times (Sep. 2015):

[T]he U.S. may have a criminalizing effect on immigrants, not the other way around.

Instead of immigrants “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime” to the U.S. — as the immigration analysis of Donald Trump has argued — the research implies that it is the U.S. that brings drugs and crime to immigrant youth.


Racial Injustice Fatigue: Coping with the Toxicity of Well-Meaning White People. Daroe, K., For Harriet (Sep. 2015).


AI robot that learns new words in real-time tells human creators it will keep them in a “people zoo”. Glitch.News (Aug. 2015). WATCH:

[OMFG. –Ed.]


Cheers Erupt As Guatemala Paves Way to Arrest School of the Americas-Trained President Perez Molina. Germanos, A., Common Dreams (Sep. 2015). (“‘Now that Guatemala has kicked open the door, set an example for the world, this trail of blood can be followed wherever it leads, including back to Washington,’ says journalist Nairn.”) [Hahaha. Sure. You know what I always say: Don’t count your incarcerated war criminals before they’re led off in shackles at the Hague. –Ed.]


U.S. Police Routinely Travel to Israel to Learn Methods of Brutality and Repression. Gardner, G., The Free Thought Project (Aug. 2015):

At least 300 high-ranking U.S. sheriffs and police from all over the country, as well as FBI and US Customs and Border Protection agents, have traveled to Israel to learn first-hand the most efficient means of subduing populations.  The purported reason is counterterrorism, but protests and crowd control methods are commonly discussed…The use of excessive or deadly force for crowd control is rarely questioned.

Israeli Police Brutality Is Out of Control, and the Media Is Still Silent. Moreh B.D.K. and R. Abraham, Counter Current News (Nov. 2014).

It’s Time To Admit It. Israeli Policy Is What It Is: Apartheid. Burston, B., Information Clearinghouse (Aug. 2015).


Arizona school district requires students to paste anti-abortion sticker in science textbook. Mother Mags, Daily Kos (Aug. 2015).

Consumer Reports calls latest Tesla best vehicle they’ve ever tested, right wing goes nuts. kos, Daily Kos (Aug. 2015).



Hispanic Or Latino? A Guide For The U.S. Presidential Campaign. Garcia-Navarro, L., NPR (Aug. 2015) [via Skepchick.]:

A quick test to see if you’re paying attention to the original question: What am I?

I’m neither Latina nor Hispanic because I don’t live in the U.S.

I’m a Cuban-Panamanian-Brit who speaks Spanish and lives in a Portuguese-speaking part of Latin America.

See, it’s simple.


Why one naturopath quit after watching her peers treat cancer patients. Belluz, J., Vox (Sep. 2015):

I had a lot of perception bias and self-fulfilling prophecies. I saw myself getting better, friends having healing experiences, that now in hindsight I realize was due to other things — self-limiting conditions, evidence-based medicine sprinkled in with the naturopathic medicine we were doing.

Put down the Emergen-C — vitamin C does not ward off colds. Guth, D., PRI (Public Research International) (Aug. 2015). [via Skepchick.]


POTUS at the Bully Pulpit. Coleman, A.D., The Humanist (Aug. 2015) [h/t Don Ardell]:

[A]s Goya wrote, the sleep of reason produces monsters. Religion, by definition, anesthetizes reason, and those who believe the application of compassionate reason is the best way to help others should point out such anesthetization whenever it occurs, especially when everyone’s watching.


Vintage Magazines Repurposed: Belgian artist Sammy Slabbinck. Skidmore, M., AnOther (Aug. 2015).

goingnowheresammyslabbinckGoing Nowhere © Sammy Slabbinck.


Despite Global Ban, Saudi-Led Forces Kill Dozens in Yemen Using U.S.-Made Cluster Bombs. Goodman, A. and Roth, K., Democracy Now, (Sep. 2015):

Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. Neither the United States, Saudi Arabia or Yemen have joined the global convention banning the use of cluster munitions.

U.S. launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria. Miller, G., The Washington Post (Sep. 2015).

A Syrian Photographer Survives to Show His Country’s Destruction. Schatz, B., Mother Jones ( Aug. 2015). (“Mahmoud al-Basha lost nearly all his photos when he was kidnapped. Here’s what’s left.”)

The Nuclear Deal. Chomsky, N., teleSUR (Aug. 2015). [FIVE STARS.Ed.]


These 7 Household Names Make a Killing Off of the Prison-Industrial Complex. Davidson, K., US Uncut (Aug. 2015):

“Insourcing,” as prison labor is often called, is an even cheaper alternative to outsourcing. Instead of sending labor over to China or Bangladesh, manufacturers have chosen to forcibly employ the 2.4 million incarcerated people in the United States. Chances are high that if a product you’re holding says it is “American Made,” it was made in an American prison.

On average, prisoners work 8 hours a day, but they have no union representation and make between .23 and $1.15 per hour, over 6 times less than federal minimum wage. These low wages combined with increasing communication and commissary costs mean that inmates are often released from correctional facilities with more debt than they had on their arrival. Meanwhile, big businesses receive tax credits for employing these inmates in excess of millions of dollars a year.

Drug Sentences Rise, While Time Served For Other Crimes Falls. Hayes, M., BuzzFeed (Aug. 2015). (“A new study finds that drug offenders are serving more time in federal prison while all other sentences are on the decline.”)


Half a million California children are homeless. Mclean, A., World Socialist (Aug. 2015):

More broadly, the gutting of federal programs for food stamps and the health care overhaul by the Obama administration have hacked away at what little is left of a social safety net, placing more of the burden on the backs of working people. The result of these policies has been the highest rate of child homelessness since the Great Depression. As the global economic crisis intensifies, the capitalist politicians will more and more seek to force the working class to pay for a crisis that it did not create. The impoverishment and homelessness of a large number of children in the US is a further symptom of this process.


Similarities Between Anti-Suffragette Posters and Anti-Feminist Memes: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Poland, B., Suite (Aug. 2015).

savecountry[“My” country? I think I see the problem… –Ed.]


PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links for the fabulous Palace library does not imply 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.

Drones vs. anti-drone laser cannons for fun and profit. UPDATED. UPDATE 2.


Loyal Readers™, prepare to be dazzled—if unsurprised—by my astonishing prescience.

Early last week I was dining with My Amazing Lover™, and of course the topic of drones naturally came up. We were discussing the article by The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock that I had linked in one of my Recent Reads roundups; thanks to a whistleblower at FAA, we now know about the 700 near-collisions between planes and drones this year (so far).

“But don’t worry about it!” I scoffed. “Drone manufacturers will surely come up with a perfect solution to the very drone menace they created! Then our tax dollars will not only pay for drones themselves, we’ll also happily pay America’s Owners for the technology to neutralize them! WIN-WIN!”

We ordered another bottle of rosé. It was half-price bottle night! But let’s face it, we would have ordered another one anyway.

And then lo and behold, on Wednesday morning Boeing debuted its new compact drone-blasting laser cannon!

dronelasercannonImage: Jordan Golson/WIRED

Isn’t it cute? It looks like the infant spawn of R2D2 and the girl robot from WALL-E!

ever2d2^These two are working for Boeing now, OBVIOUSLY.

The adorable little laser weapon is designed specifically for turning drones into flaming piles of wreckage. The device is controlled with a standard Xbox 360 controller, and no, I did not just make that up. (“If it breaks, just head to the barracks to get a replacement!”).

In the demo, Boeing used the laser to burn holes in a stationary, composite UAV shell, to show how quickly it can compromise an aircraft. Two seconds at full power and the target was aflame…the compact system is small enough to fit in four suitcase-sized boxes and can be set up by a pair of soldiers or technicians in just a few minutes.

Front_View_2kW_Session_1GIF: Boeing.

What could possibly go wrong shooting high power laser beams at drones buzzing around commercial aircraft? FLAMING WRECKAGE FTW.

And what a business opportunity! The market is huuuuge, and I’m not just talking about every single airport in the U.S. (and beyond), or even the military. Last month, drones chased away firefighting helicopters from burning cars on a California highway, which means that every municipal fire department requires a laser cannon, too. There has been a rash of drones dropping all sorts of contraband—weed, weapons, heroin, porn—into prison yards in Ohio, Maryland, South Carolina and probably other places where they went undetected. Boeing blasters on top of every guard tower, anyone? Hundreds of stadiums need laser beam drone exploders, amid growing concerns about all those drones flying overhead. Better to have flaming drone wreckage falling on football fans and players than take a chance on nefarious jihadi plots involving unmanned aerial vehicles, amirite? It would certainly make watching the games much more interesting, that’s for sure. Oh and remember last year when I told you about that 400 pound military drone that crashed landed at a Pennsylvania elementary school? There are a hundred thousand or so public schools in the U.S., and all of them now require an advanced laser weapon. And a working Xbox controller.

And why stop there? The Second Amendment surely guarantees that anyone in the market for a drone blasting laser cannon should be able to get one from Boeing. I’ll certainly need a few of these babies myself, stationed atop the Palace turrets. I’ll be a goddamned one-woman well-regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state! Whoo-hoo!



Now that you are utterly in awe of my psychic prediction powers, here are some super fun facts about The Boeing Company:

droneattackBoeing’s Unmanned Little Bird H-6U drone under laser attack by Boeing’s new Compact Laser Weapon System.
(Artist’s rendering.)

  • Boeing paid no federal taxes from 2008 to 2010, instead receiving $178 million in tax rebates on profits of $9.7 billion. It spent $52.29 million on lobbying during the same period, when the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.
  • In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama “was by far the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from Boeing employees and executives, hauling in $197,000 – five times as much as John McCain, and more than the top eight Republicans combined.”
  • Since 2008, Boeing has laid off 14,862 workers. In 2010 it increased pay for its top five executives to $41.9 million—a 31% raise.

Have a nice day.

*Okay, anyone with even a minimal understanding of how U.S. capitalism and government work would have predicted precisely this development. But My Amazing Lover™ sure seemed quite impressed with me as I jumped around the Palace animatedly, shrieking “Didn’t I JUST SAY this would happen?! Huh? Weren’t we JUST TALKING about this?!” All right, so maybe “impressed” isn’t exactly accurate. But it’s what I’m going with, people.


Two things pinged my radar after posting yesterday:

Just a little reminder, from the Palace Library archives:

A study conducted by a US military adviser has found that drone strikes in Afghanistan during a year of the protracted conflict caused 10 times more civilian casualties than strikes by manned fighter aircraft.


It turns out you don’t need a Boeing laser cannon to take down a drone after all: chimpanzees with sticks can get the job done quite nicely.

Plus, you have to admit it would be so awesome having a bunch of chimps hanging around all our airports, prisons, schools and stadiums.

IMAGE 5Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird H-6U drone under attack by chimpanzees with sticks
(Author’s rendering.)

Anybody know whether the chimps have a lobbyist yet? Asking for a friend…