Category: History

Remember also – the origins of Memorial Day

The purpose of Memorial day [nowadays] focuses on those who lost their lives while serving in the US armed forces.

And that cost has been enormous over the past century. Inspired by Poppy Field, a data visualization of all war deaths since 1900, we built this chart showing the death toll of the seven biggest American conflicts since 1914, along with total military deaths resulting from the conflicts:

The human cost of the Civil War was beyond anybody’s expectations. The young nation experienced bloodshed of a magnitude that has not been equaled since by any other American conflict. The cost of eliminating the tragic and inhuman greed of slavery took more lives on and off the battlefield than any war since.

That memory is the foundation of Memorial Day.

kwc-totals

Same-sex marriage wins in Ireland referendum 62% to 38%

This would have been “Pic of the day” except that I wanted to make the point this beautiful mural was an effort in support of the YES vote in Ireland for same-sex marriage. Good news all round.

Joe-Caslin-Girl-Mural
Click to enlarge

Artist Joe Caslin completed the 45ft tall installation over the weekend after stirring debate in Dublin with a similar work showing a gay couple hugging.

Republicans now control the cemetery vote

image

It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?…

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats…

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

RTFA for details and especially variables critical to both of the two parties if anyone is to take advantage of demographics.

One thing is certain. Dead people don’t vote, at least not as much as they did in Chicago in 1960. Core Republican voters not only oppose change, they fear progress. Core Democrats not only support change broadly, they welcome progress and equal opportunity.

Republicans hope for a narrow discussion of anything but the foolishness that actually guides their decision-making.

Thanks to my favorite recovering Republican

Dogs have been man’s best friend longer than we thought

The bond between humans and dogs can feel very strong, deep and profound. It may also be much older than we once thought.

A group of researchers discovered an ancient wolf bone and say its DNA suggests dogs diverged from wolves 27,000 to 40,000 years ago — not 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, as previous research has suggested. The researchers published their findings Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

In this latest study, researchers radiocarbon-dated a Taimyr wolf bone they found in Siberia and concluded it to be about 35,000 years old. Researchers point to the ancient wolf as possibly the most recent common relative of modern wolves and dogs.

That means two things could have happened about 40,000 years ago, with the simplest scenario being that dogs became domesticated.

“The only other explanation is that there was a major divergence between two wolf populations at that time, and one of these populations subsequently gave rise to all modern wolves,” study co-author Love Dalén of the Swedish Museum of Natural History said in a release.

Under that theory, the second wolf population would had to have gone extinct…

“The difference between the earlier genetic studies and ours is that we can calibrate the rate of evolutionary change in dog and wolf genomes directly, and we find that the first separation of dog ancestors must have been in the older range,” Skoglund told Reuters.

Another implication of this study: re-imagining how dogs became an important part of human society. As the BBC notes, a prevalent theory is that dogs became domestic creatures once humans settled into agricultural-based communities.

Humans could have also “caught wolf cubs and kept them as pets and this gradually led to these wild wolves being domesticated,” Dalen told BBC. “If this model is correct, then dogs were domesticated by hunter gatherers that led a fairly nomadic lifestyle.”

Being a longterm dog family, we’ve always felt that some extra smart dogs figured out we were a soft touch and moved in.

Luxembourg’s prime minister marries his same-sex partner


Gauthier Destenay and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel

Luxembourg’s prime minister is to become the first European Union leader – and only the second worldwide leader – to marry someone of the same sex.

Xavier Bettel, 42, and his partner, Gauthier Destenay, an architect from Belgium, are among the first gay men to wed in the mostly Catholic Grand Duchy since it became the latest EU state to extend full rights to same-sex couples.

Their union comes five years after Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the then prime minister of Iceland, became the first serving leader in the world to marry a same-sex partner.

Bettel and Destenay, who have been civil partners since 2010, were expected to say their vows in a quiet civil ceremony with friends and family, away from the glare of publicity…

Few details have emerged about the wedding, which Bettel had aimed to keep private. Press photographers have been banned…

Bettel, who is leader of Luxembourg’s centre-right Democratic party, came out publicly as gay in 2008. But since taking power 18 months ago he has played down the significance of his sexuality, insisting “what happens at home remains private”.

His party won its leading place in a coalition government after promising to be a modernising force for Luxembourg, with plans to replace religious education in schools with general ethics classes, and to lower the voting age to 16.

Same-sex marriage was another key pledge. It was previously knocked down in 2007 by the then ruling Christian People’s party, but a poll in 2013 found 83% of Luxembourgers supported a change in the law.

No doubt he didn’t invite Jeb Bush, any of the purportedly modern Republicans, or the rest of that mob of professional bigots and hate-mongers. Constitutional equality may be all right for some furriners; but, not “real Americans”.

Bon chance, mes amis. Have a wonderful journey in love.

U.S. Geography of Odd Deaths

You’re more likely to be shot by accident and die in Alabama than anywhere else in the U.S.

Further west in Louisiana, it’s syphilis. Think you’ll escape the clutches of strange death further north? Septicemia, a bloodstream infection, claimed more lives per person in New Jersey than any other state.

That’s according to a report published…by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing the most distinct causes of death in each state from 2001 to 2010. Using a list of 136 ways to go, each state is labeled with a cause of death that was higher on average than the rest of the U.S…

The map glimpses at less-discussed causes of death. Without killers like cancer and heart disease, things start to look a little weird. In Alaska and Idaho, air and water accidents were the most distinct cause of death. Flu claimed more lives in northern states like Maine and South Dakota than anywhere else.

Some of the unusual ways to kick the bucket were due to occupational hazards. In the coal-mining states of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, black lung disease, or pneumoconiosis, and chemical effects stood out.

In New York and neighboring Connecticut, female pelvic inflammatory diseases top the list. In women who get sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, the infections can spread when untreated, causing death in some cases.

I live in one of the states where the most distinct cause of death was “legal intervention.” You may have reason to wonder what that might mean. RTFA.

I knew exactly what it was. Instantly.

Vatican officially recognizes the State of Palestine


Pope Francis with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

The Vatican has officially recognized Palestine in a new treaty that switches the Holy See’s diplomatic relations from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine…

“During Pope Francis’ visit last year to the Holy Land, the official Vatican program referred to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as president of the state of Palestine. And, in its latest yearbook, the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See is listed as representing the state of Palestine.”

Abbas is scheduled to meet the pope on Saturday — the day before two new saints from the Holy Land are to be canonized.

The National Catholic Reporter says the text of today’s agreement will not be released until it receives approval at the highest levels…

The Crux, the Boston Globe’s website that covers the Catholic Church, provides some context about the Vatican’s position on the Palestinian issue:

“Diplomatically, the Vatican has long supported a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, providing security assurances for Israel and sovereignty for the Palestinians.

“Rome also backs an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem, including protection for holy sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.”

Israel continues to trudge down the path it helped construct for South Africa when that nation was ruled by apartheid and racism. Israel served as their front-man during the worldwide boycott of apartheid. Perhaps they will voluntarily recognize the futility of continuing their imperial occupation of Palestine.

I doubt it.

Warren 1 — 0 Republicans + Obama

Senate Democrats have dealt President Barack Obama a stinging setback on trade by blocking efforts to begin full-blown debate on his initiatives.

All but one Senate Democrat defied the president Tuesday by voting to prevent consideration of his request for “fast track” trade authority. Such authority would let Obama present trade agreements that Congress could ratify or reject, but not amend.

Proponents needed 60 votes to thwart a Democratic filibuster, but managed only 52 in the 100-member Senate.

Obama’s supporters say they will try again, possibly starting in the House. But Tuesday’s vote highlighted the deep divide between Obama and the many congressional Democrats who say trade deals hurt U.S. jobs.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

Just as NAFTA was passed under Clinton, essentially a Republican bill was offered with hopes for sufficient Blue Dog Democrats climbing on board to get it through.

Regardless of the rationales offered by President Obama, the only reason for passing fast track legislation is to inhibit an up-or-down vote in Congress. Especially in the case where a bill is anti-democratic, against the will and needs of workingclass families.

This may not be up to the stage of crystal ball forecasting; but, it surely is nice to see Democrats try to act like they haven’t forgotten their workingclass base, entirely.

Is this the end of the tale? Hardly. It won’t take dramatic progressive change in White House trade policies to get the average Dem to cave. And I expect cave they will. They owe as much to corporate lobbyists as do Republicans. Their accountability is still the kind defined by accountants – not workingclass heros.