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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Full-body scanners will be mandatory

© James Cridland / Flickr

No opt-out clause for prudish passengers

Passengers flying from Heathrow Airport will not be given the option of an alternative security check if they protest the use of full-body scanners, the government has revealed.

It had been thought that anyone who objects to the machines on privacy grounds would be given a choice of undergoing different secondary screening such as a manual pat-down.

But speaking to MPs earlier today, Transport Minister Paul Clark announced that there would be no such opt-out clause and travelers who refuse to comply will not be allowed airside.

Heathrow Airport is rolling out the experimental technology next week in response to a perceived heightened threat from terrorism following the Christmas Day Detroit bomb scare.

The new machines will be accompanied by a raft of other security measures – including “behavioral profiling” and improved global intelligence sharing – and their introduction comes as Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, put the UK on alert by raising the country’s terror threat level to “severe”.

In spite of the pressing security concerns, however, civil liberties campaigners have persisted in opposing the technology on the grounds that it violates privacy by seeing under clothing.

“We are talking about very intimate pictures,” a spokesman for the The Equality and Human Rights Commission told The Times. “To be blunt, one could imagine a bunch of loutish security guards seeing some attractive women in the queue and all rushing into the office saying, ‘Let’s have a look’.”

Supporters of the technology insist that the machines merely depict a hazy outline of body contours, with measures in place to ensure that machine operators cannot take pictures.

Cool Kid

How many seven year-olds do you know who could pull this off and be so selfless?
You can still click through to his site here to donate more.

He's no Wyclef Jean or George Clooney, but that hasn't stopped seven-year-old Charlie Simpson from raising more than £136,000 ($220,000) for the Haiti earthquake.

Simpson from Fulham, west London had hoped to raise just £500 for UNICEF's earthquake appeal by cycling eight kilometers (five miles)around a local park.

"My name is Charlie Simpson. I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives," said Simpson on his JustGiving page, a fundraising site which launched his efforts.

U.S. households struggle to afford food

Nearly one in five U.S. households ran out of money to buy enough food at least once during 2009, said an antihunger group on Tuesday, urging more federal action to help Americans get enough to eat.

Cops stop cyclist with butcher knife-pool cue axe

Alexandria police said man stopped for riding his bicycle at night without a headlight was carrying a weapon made from a butcher knife attached to a pool cue.

Cops stop cyclist with butcher knife-pool cue axe

Polish beekeeper Josef Guzy found still alive in coffin

As the lid of his coffin was about to be sealed, Josef Guzy's grieving widow made one last request for her late husband's necklace.

Full Story

Would be Bank Robber Calls 911 on Himself

Crime doesn't pay for those who aren't adept at planning or research.

According to the Freeman Institute, a North Carolina man, and would-be bank robber, broke into a local bank's basement...

'Fastest wind' record broken

'Fastest wind' record broken

A 231-mph gust recorded in 1934 on Mt. Washington had been a source of pride.

'Normal weight obesity' may affect millions

'Normal weight obesity' may affect millions

Even thin people can face serious health risks from hidden fat, a study claims.

Which debts to pay down first

Which debts to pay down first

Focusing on the credit card with the highest rate can be the wrong approach for some.

Be wary of some outlet store 'deals'

Be wary of some outlet store 'deals'

Many brands like Coach and Ann Taylor create outlet-only lines they sell at full price.

A number you literally can't imagine

A number you literally can't imagine

As annual federal deficits top a trillion, your brain probably can't picture how much that is.

Battle over burqa heats up in France

Battle over burqa heats up in France

Citing an "unacceptable" challenge to French values, a key panel urges a ban on the veils.

Little things that ruin work relationships

Little things that ruin work relationships

One bad habit in meetings annoys people more than any other, one expert says.

How to make extra cash without a new job

How to make extra cash without a new job

Here are ways to put more money in your pocket even if you're fully employed.

Strange landscapes from Mars

photograph of mars surface that looks like it has trees on it

This image looks remarkably like groves of trees growing among Martian dunes. But, the trees are an optical illusion. They are actually dark streaks of sediment on the downwind side of the dunes. They were created by escaping gas from the evaporating carbon dioxide ice below. The bottom of the ice melts into vapor and moves toward holes in the ice, carrying dark sediment along with it that is then deposited when the gas escapes.

photograph from the surface of Mars

Strange Places on Mars: What Do You Want to See Next?

Historians on the hunt for frozen, 86-year-old camera

everest coin.jpg

Did George Mallory and Andrew Irvine make it to the top of Mt. Everest three decades before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay? A group of historians hope to finally have proof—one way or the other—sometime next year, when they will set out to what investigate what they believe is Irvine's body.

Mallory and Irvine disappeared on Everest in 1924. They were known to be within a kilometer of the summit. Mallory's body was found in 1999, but experts say Irvine's corpse could be the real find.

Why? Because Irvine was carrying the camera.

Of course, a lot of questions remain. The anomaly thought to be Irvine was spotted in high-resolution aerial photographs from 1984. It may or may not actually be a body. If it is a body, it may or may not actually be Irvine. And, even if it is Irvine, the camera may or may not be there, or be there in a condition that makes developing the film possible.

Could a Frozen Camera Dethrone Hillary and Norgay as the the first to summit Everest?

Watergate redux

We all knew this was coming, well all of us except maybe the four 'morans'.

The phony filmmaker who doctored footage to make ACORN staffers look like criminals was guilty of criminal behavior then and lo and behold he is again.

This time the Federal Pen awaits.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at acorn field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the western district of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
Here's some of the Twitter traffic on this:

There's a lot we still don't know about the four men implicated in the alleged attempt to bug sen. Mary Landrieu's phones yesterday, but a little-known organization called the Pelican Institute appears to be key to the story.

Located at 400 Poydras st. in downtown New Orleans -- half a block from Landrieu's office at 500 Poydras st. -- Pelican describes itself as a state policy think tank dedicated to advancing "sound policies based on the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and limited government."


Another of the charged men, Robert Flanagan, works for Pelican, his attorney told the Times-Picayune. Flanagan allegedly dressed up a telephone repairman to infiltrate Landrieu's office.


What appears to be his Linkedin profile says Flanagan was an intern for rep. Mary Fallin (r-OK) in Washington last year. Fallin spokeswoman Kathryn Bruns tells TPM that Flanagan was a "helpful guy." He attended Rhodes college in Memphis.

The Wall Street Journal opinion page published a glowing profile of Pelican and its leader, Kevin Kane, in August 2008[.]


In yet another possible connection to the Landrieu case, Kane also blogs at Big Government, the Andrew Breitbart site.

Big Government is where O'Keefe's ACORN sting videos were posted, though Breitbart has said, "We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O'Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu's office."

It gets better ...
A federal law-enforcement official said one of the suspects was picked up in a car a couple of blocks away with a listening device that could pick up transmission.
This is a flat out case of espionage against a member of Congress who sits on the Homeland Security Committee.

Undersea internet cables could detect tsunamis

The electric field generated by a passing tsunami could be picked up by seafloor cables, providing a cheap alternative to existing warning systems.

Proof of swine flu's split personality is out

New figures from the US and UK back up earlier suspicions that swine flu is mild in most but very severe in a few.

Health News

The 52-gram drop in the weight of full-term singletons cannot be explained by an increase in caesarean sections, which shorten gestation.

US babies mysteriously shrinking

Science News

From BBC Science:
Sniffer dogs: The conservationist's best friend
The image that changed the way we look at bodies
Artist's impression of rover on Mars (Nasa)
The US space agency concedes defeat in its battle to free the Spirit rover from its Martian sand trap.

Cop News

And I Quote

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.

~ Ambrose Bierce

Politician's welfare remark sparks firestorm

Politician's welfare remark sparks firestorm

The man who nearly replaced S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford draws fire for his take on the needy.

Obama sees weakness in Bin Laden tape

Obama sees weakness in Bin Laden tape

Al-Qaida's claim of responsibility for the Dec. 25 bomb attempt is a sign of weakness, the president says.


Auschwitz survivor teams up with rap band

Auschwitz survivor teams up with rap band

A former member of the Auschwitz girls' orchestra finds some surprising musical soul mates.

Big companies that are hiring now

Big companies that are hiring now

Even in this economy, these leading businesses are eager to find skilled workers.

Female teachers may pass on math anxiety to girls, study finds

Girls have long embraced the stereotype that they're not supposed to be good at math.

It seems they may be getting the idea from a surprising source -- their female elementary school teachers. First- and second-graders whose teachers were anxious about mathematics were more likely to believe that boys are hard-wired for math and that girls are better at reading, a new study has found. What's more, the girls who bought into that notion scored significantly lower on math tests than their peers who didn't.

Dumb Crooks News

Man coughs up ring he tried to steal

Full Story

Police in Missouri say a man accused of stealing a ring coughed up the evidence while officers were questioning him.

Woman claims white powder came from doughnut

Full Story

East Tennessee police said a Knoxville woman who was later arrested for cocaine possession initially told an officer that she had been eating a powdered doughnut.

Stone Age amputee proves Neolithic medics more advanced than previously thought

Stone Age medicine was far more advanced than previously thought, scientists discovered, after unearthing the 7,000-year-old skeleton of a man with an amputated arm.

Full Story

And I Quote

If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt.

~ Dean Martin

Horizontal and vertical

Darwinian selection cannot explain why all life on Earth shares the same genetic code – it looks like another form of evolution came first.

The evolution of evolution

If you think a crow is giving you the evil eye…

... it probably is. Crows can recognize individual human faces and hold a grudge for years against someone who treats them badly.

The Evil Eye

Aggie researchers find ancient galaxies

Star gazing has paid off for some Texas A&M researchers with a new look at some very old galaxies.

Aggie researchers find ancient galaxies

Corporate developers abandon "underwater" property - why not individuals?

Tishman Speyer Properties and its co-investors just walked away from the largest real-estate deal in US history, simply defaulting on the properties and the loans that bought them and leaving their creditors in the lurch. The properties, Manhattan's 56-building, 11,232-unit Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, were "under water" (worth less than the debt hanging over them), so the corporate developers elected to simply jettison them.

They're not alone -- Morgan Stanley recently dumped five San Francisco office buildings, stiffing their creditors when the buildings went underwater.

As a business-strategy it makes sense: why repay loans secured by assets that are worth less than the loans? Just turn the assets over and cut your losses.

But individuals are shamed, bullied, and counseled not to do this when it's their private homes that fall underwater. Everyone from former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to credit counselors to the Mortgage Bankers Association tell you that defaulting on underwater property is low and dishonest (unless you're a Wall Street player -- then it's just "protecting shareholder value").

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson once said: "And let me emphasize, any homeowner who can afford his mortgage payment but chooses to walk away from an underwater property is simply a speculator - and one who is not honoring his obligations."

The head of the Mortgage Bankers Association, John Courson, played up the moral argument against walking away, telling the Wall Street Journal last month: "What about the message they will send to their family and their kids and their friends?

But corporations and businesses don't play by those rules. Like CalPERS's McKinley said, "You come to a point where you write it off or stay in the game. If you want to stay in you got to put in more capital. We reached our limit on that. It was not a prudent thing to put more money into it.

"You get to a point where you can't keep throwing good money after bad," he said. "These are illiquid investments. You gotta fish or cut bait."

As for homeowners walking away en masse -- perhaps lenders' biggest housing-related fear -- McKinley added: "We're hopeful that won't happen."

Thinking about time makes you sway

People who are thinking about the past sway backward, people who are thinking of the future sway forward
University of Aberdeen psychological scientists Lynden Miles, Louise Nind and Neil Macrae conducted a study to measure this in the lab. They fitted participants with a motion sensor while they imagined either future or past events. The researchers found that thinking about past or future events can literally move us: Engaging in mental time travel (a.k.a. chronesthesia) resulted in physical movements corresponding to the metaphorical direction of time. Those who thought of the past swayed backward while those who thought of the future moved forward.

Today is ...

Today is Tuesday, January 26, the 26th day of 2010.

There are 339 days left in the year.

Today In History January 26

Today's unusual Holidays and celebrations are:

National Speak Up and Succeed Day,
National Peanut Brittle Day,
as well as
Lotus 1-2-3 Day
Toad Hollow Day Of Encouragement

Our Readers

Some of our readers today have been in:

Markham, Ontario, Canada
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Mahhad, Khorasan, Iran
Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia
London, England, United Kingdom
Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Reykjavik, Reykjavik, Iceland
Izmir, Izmir, Turkey
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Manila, Manila, Philippines
Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Daily Horoscope

Today's horoscope says:

You're certainly aware of the power of words, if anyone is -- but you're about to receive a crash course on just how powerful they can really be.
For the moment, you'll begin to realize just how important each and every word you utter really is -- to one person in particular.
Take this very seriously.
And if you're not interested in them, don't pretend you are, not even if you think it might be fun to flirt a little.

Aw, shucks there goes the fun.