Darwin Award winner of the year candidate — Suicide Bomb Instructor kills himself and 22 trainees

Pay attention in class and follow instructions

A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives…

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara…Eight militants were arrested when they tried to escape…

The militant who was conducting the training was not identified by name, but he was described by an Iraqi Army officer as a prolific recruiter who was “able to kill the bad guys for once…”

A State Department official, Brett McGurk, said that ISIS had about 2,000 fighters in Iraq, and that its longer-term objective is to establish a base of operations in Baghdad, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been officially designated as a global terrorist by the State Department.

The dude qualifies all the way round. Especially since he took out 22 candidates with himself, wounded 15 more and survivors were arrested. Phew.

Has America’s love affair with cars entered middle age?

The car was one of the icons of post-World War II Americana. Soldiers came home from the war, bought an American car with as much chrome as they could afford and moved to the suburbs to raise a family. A new study from University of Michigan’s Transportation Research institute indicates, however, that American car consumption may have reached its peak and is now falling.

The study looked at the rate of households that do not own a car from 2005 to 2012, and then examined this rate in America’s 30 largest cities between 2007 and 2012. In 2007, 8.7% of US households did not own a car, and that figure grew to 9.2% in 2012. However, in the largest cities, the rate of families without cars is much higher. From 2007 to 2012, families in 21 of the 30 largest cities decreased their car ownership. The six largest cities all had car-less rates above 30%. New York topped the list at 56.5% of families without cars.

For commuters, this should be greeted as great news. It means fewer cars on the road, which can contribute to lighter traffic. Auto enthusiasts also get more open roads to enjoy. However, for automakers it means that competition will get even tighter, and they will have to fight that much harder for every sale to appeal to a smaller pool of buyers. Nobody is saying that the American love affair with the car is dead, but maybe we have just entered into the comfortable period of the marriage.

Subjectively, all that’s diminished my family’s car involvement is my retirement. If I was still working, I’d be driving about as much as previously. But, I’d be driving one of the new Ram 1500’s with the small V6 diesel – and probably averaging about 26mpg. My wife’s new Ford averages 40mpg on her daily commute. Fossil fuel consumption in our family has diminished about 35% per mile traveled.

When I first retired, I often hopped in my old pickup and went to town for a single item. Now, those trips are collated into an addition coming and going from our weekly grocery shopping. Miles traveled in total are down 30-40%.

Thorough, inclusive public transit only works with reasonable urban density – requiring sensible politicians and/or a thoughtful electorate willing to invest in infrastructure. Apparently, that’s actually happening in a number of cities. Automobile transport is maturing in use, leveling off; but, then, that’s beginning to happen with family size, too.

All in all, we’re getting smarter. That’s in the existential sense, folks. Nothing to do with brain cells.

Where’s the beef? Unsound, unwholesome and unfit for human consumption…

It all ends up looking like this

A California meat company has issued a recall of some 8.7 million pounds of meat as it was processed from “diseased and unsound” animals.

The Department of Agriculture”s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) revealed that the said meat was processed and sold without federal inspection.

Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp. has recalled the meat that was sold in the form of beef carcasses and boxes of beef oxtail, liver, cheeks and tongue in four U.S. states; California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

The recalled products were produced from in the first week of January and had pack sizes ranging between 30 pounds and 60 pounds. The Beef carcasses and boxes carried the establishment number “EST. 527″ inside the USDA mark of inspection…

“The products are adulterated, because they are unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food and must be removed from commerce,” the FSIS said.

The recall has been categorized as ‘Class 1 level’ which is considered to be the most serious and indicates that the product in question has the potency to cause “serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

We keep being told we have the safest, healthiest food in the world. That is – unless you apparently shop at Walmart, Kroger, Brookshire’s, and on and on. Sometimes, I think those low price value meats make it to store shelves because some chain store executive figures the profits are larger than the lawsuits from survivors!

Of course, if state and federal officials performed the tasks we entrust them with – we might stand a better chance of a long and healthy life.

Justice Department will defend same-sex marriage nationwide

dominos topple

In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights the US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced on Saturday that he will apply a landmark supreme court ruling to the Justice Department.

In prepared remarks delivered in New York to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group which works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Holder said same-sex spouses could not now be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages.

The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programmes, and Holder said same-sex couples will now qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said.

Just as in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Holder said, the stakes in the current generation over same-sex marriage rights “could not be higher”.

“The Justice Department’s role in confronting discrimination must be as aggressive today as it was in Robert Kennedy’s time,” Holder said of the attorney general who played a leadership role in advancing civil rights.

Right on!

Our nation confronts exactly the same kind of ignorance and bigotry we did with the civil rights advances of the 1960’s. Nice to see official Washington ready to join in, again. Excepting Congress and the Confederates, of course.

Pic of the Day

Click to enlargeAP Photo

Great visual and music effects with dancers performing to Swan Lake – with glass-fibre cloaks – in the opening ceremony from the Sochi Olympics. I haven’t found a decent video available, yet, that loads into WordPress. It really requires HD.

The overwhelming majority of critics and viewers loved it. Which means there still are a number of Fox News-level reviewers in the US who didn’t get it. Some folks have never seen a waterbird like a swan rise in slow motion from a lake, I guess.