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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.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You need to put your money where your mouth is today.
Even better, you should endeavor to put your money where your bank is! It's definitely time to wrangle your finances and start thinking clearly about the future.
Your energy helps you get serious about long-term plans, and that has a definite effect on you right now.
Start thinking about where you want to be in a few years, because with the right planning, it will happen. Some of our readers today have been in:
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Montreal Quebec, Canada
Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Santiago, Region Metropolitana, Chile
London, England, United Kingdom
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Canberra, Australian, Capital Territory, Australia
Florence, Toscana, Italy
Graz, Steiermark, Austria
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France

as well as Luxembourg, Singapore, Wales, and the United States in such cities such as Homestead, Orlando, Austin, Cincinnati, Schleswig, Sebring and more

Today is Wednesday, May 5, the 125th day of 2010.
There are 240 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays and celebrations are:
Totally Chipolte day
Cartoonists Day
The Great American Grump Out

Today is ...

Party Time

Cinco de Mayo facts that may surprise you

Contrary to popular belief, most of Mexico does not celebrate May 5 as a national holiday.

As The World Turns

As The World Turns
Photos coming out of Greece show a debt-ridden nation spiraling into civil unrest.
Satellite photos catch Greek tax-evaders

As the nation of Greece teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, its tax authorities are taking aim at Greece's notorious tax-evading rich elite. Using satellite photos, the tax authority examined the claim of the residents of Athens's wealthy suburbs and discovered that, rather than the 324 swimming pools claimed by the locals, there were 16,974 of them.
The cheating is often quite bold. When tax authorities recently surveyed the returns of 150 doctors with offices in the trendy Athens neighborhood of Kolonaki, where Prada and Chanel stores can be found, more than half had claimed an income of less than $40,000. Thirty-four of them claimed less than $13,300, a figure that exempted them from paying any taxes at all. Such incomes defy belief, said Ilias Plaskovitis, the general secretary of the Finance Ministry, who has been in charge of revamping the country's tax laws. "You need more than that to pay your rent in that neighborhood," he said.
He said there were only a few thousand citizens in this country of 11 million who last year declared an income of more than $132,000. Yet signs of wealth abound.
"There are many people with a house, with a cottage in the country, with two cars and maybe a small boat who claim they are earning 12,000 euros a year," Mr. Plaskovitis said, which is about $15,900. "You cannot heat this house or buy the gas for the car with that kind of income."

Local Hospitality

Local Hospitality
Runoff needed for NC Democratic Senate nomination
In North Carolina's six-way primary for the Senate Democratic nomination, Elaine Marshall won by almost points. Marshall got over 36%. The second place candidate, Cal Cunningham, who had support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), got just over 27% of the vote. But, in NC, the winner must break 40% or there's a runoff:
In North Carolina, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) and former state senator Cal Cunningham (D) are headed for a June 22 runoff after neither candidate broke 40 percent of the vote.

That result buys national Democrats a bit more time to assist Cunningham. The national party helped recruit Cunningham into the race under the belief that he was the candidate best equipped to beat Sen. Richard Burr (r), but he underperformed on the fundraising front and struggled to make up ground against the better-known Marshall. Democrats view Burr, who won the seat in 2004, as one of the most vulnerable repugican incumbents in the country.
Really? Is that the best use of DSCC resources? Propping up its failed primary candidate?

Polling analysis from NC-based Public Policy Polling indicates that Marshall will win the runoff, which is scheduled for June 22. Frankly, I'd rather see Marshall in a battle against the vulnerable Burr.

Pam Spaulding
, who is also NC-based, thinks so too:
No one needs a costly, damaging runoff that will only give advantage to the horrid incumbent Burr. I'd rather have either candidate win outright rather than have to worry about money pouring in to sully either candidate, weakening them. We'll see what the priorities are for the Dems when the votes are all in.
Cunningham has every right to run in the runoff. He earned it. But, the goal is beating Burr in November. And, the DSCC shouldn't weaken its likely nominee.

Deal with the facts


New York terrorist score card

shrub: 0 for 2
Obama: 1 for 1

Update: Readers asked what is the scorecard when Clinton is included?

Clinton: 1 for 1
shrub: 0 for 2
Obama: 1 for 1

So... when presidents (loosely speaking when the shrub is included) that have no business ties to Osama bin Laden are profiled they have a 100% arrest rate when New York terrorist bombing incidents are examined.

Interesting how the facts and the truth are never with the wingnuts, isn't it.

Bomb and Bomber

Faisal Shahzad confessed to receiving explosives training in Pakistan, the government says.
Despite being on a no-fly list, Faisal Shahzad got on an international flight.  

Not long ago, Faisal Shahzad was living the American dream: Family, new home, master's degree. » Downward spiral 

To catch a terrorist

Hey Dick,
The next time you hear some wingnut (most notably Dick Cheney) sneer at the Obama administration's "law enforcement approach to terrorism," remember this.

Heal your headaches naturally

These six drug-free remedies should help ease the pain of minor tension, one doctor says.  

How a name gets on the Vietnam memorial

How a name gets on the Vietnam memorial

The family of Lt. Col. William L. Taylor watches in awe as the war veteran is immortalized. 

Tax Tipline

The IRS boosts payouts for tips on tax evaders – and sees a dramatic spike in the number of informants.

What's Up

4 Non Blondes

Tots and TV

Lots of TV at age 2 is linked with a host of problems at age 10, a new study finds.  

Wizard of Id


Kick-ass 4-story kid-built treehouse to be knocked down "because of liability issues"

A group of kids in Brisbane, Australia came together to build a spectacular, 4-story treehouse. It's the center of neighborhood life, site of block- and birthday parties. The kids' parents helped them ensure that the treehouse is structurally sound. So the City Council is tearing it down.

"It's our clubhouse. We made it from scratch," said one child, 6, whose parent did not want them to be named. "We all did it together."
Chairman of City Business and Local Asset Services David McLachlan said the structure, which is built on council land in Spencer Park, is a "safety, privacy and liability issue". "The top platform is some 4m off the ground," Cr McLachlan said.
"This is close to a property and the platform is built so they can overlook a neighbor's property, so there is a privacy issue."
More than 18 children under the age of 14 live in Market St and the treehouse has become the center of street parties, birthdays and other get-togethers.
"What kind of over-regulated society do we live in, when kids can't play in their tree house?" asked Nicholas Edwards, 12. "Mum didn't tell me to say that."

Picasso piece sets art auction record

A 1932 painting of the artist's mistress betters the price paid for a sculpture earlier this year.   

In Matters Of Health

In Matters Of Health
Common mutations in the DNA of mitochondria, tiny structures that form the energy powerhouses of cells, may protect people against stroke

Public optimism in economy growing, but still tepid

From the NYT:
Forty-one percent said the economy was getting better, up from 33 percent about a month ago, while 15 percent described the economy as deteriorating.Of that 41 percent, 75 percent approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy.

Another 43 percent said the economy was staying about the same; while 7 percent of that segment believe the economy is in good shape, the other 35 percent say it’s in bad condition.

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know
For five decades, most attempts at weather modification involved cloud seeding, a process usually meant to trigger rain by dispersing certain chemicals from airplanes. Thing is, it may not even work very well wile its environmental impact is cause for concern. Now, researchers from the University of Geneva are exploring whether firing lasers into the sky could stimulate rain more effectively and safely. They've published results from their experiments in the journal Nature Photonics.

From Nature News:
2010 100502 Images News.2010.213 Firing a laser beam made up of short pulses into the air ionizes nitrogen and oxygen molecules around the beam to create a plasma, resulting in a 'plasma channel' of ionized molecules. These ionized molecules could act as natural condensation nuclei, (optical physicist Jérôme) Kasparian explains.

To test whether this technique could induce droplets, the researchers fired a high-powered laser through an atmospheric cloud chamber in the lab containing saturated air. They illuminated the chamber using a second, standard low-power laser, enabling them to see and measure any droplets produced. Immediately after the laser was fired, drops measuring about 50 micrometres wide formed along the plasma channel. Over the next three seconds, the droplets grew in size to 80 micrometres as the smaller droplets coalesced.

The next step for Kasparian and his team was to take the technique outside....

Kasparian and his colleagues tested the (high-powered, portable) Teramobile laser over a number of different nights and in various humidity conditions. Once again, they detected the amount of condensation induced by monitoring how much the light from a second laser was back-scattered by any droplets. In low humidity conditions, the Teramobile laser did not induce droplets. But when the humidity was high, the team measured up to 20 times more back-scattering after the Teramobile laser was fired than before, says Kasparian, suggesting that condensation droplets were forming.

Working in a rare, "natural seafloor laboratory" of hydrothermal vents that had just been rocked by a volcanic eruption, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and other institutions have discovered what they believe is an undersea superhighway.
Some Black Holes can kill galaxies

 Black Holes can kill galaxies</a>
Black holes might kill entire galaxies with blazing energy, dooming embryonic stars before they can get born and condemning the remaining stars to a slow death, scientists have found.

Although nothing can escape from a black hole, before matter falls into one, it swirls around to form a disk that heats up as it packs together, radiating energy.

Supermassive black holes are thought to reside at the center of almost every galaxy, with some growing to billions of times the mass of our sun. To see what impact these monsters might have, researchers relied on data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, looking for galaxies with very high X-ray emissions, a classic signature of black holes devouring gas and dust.

The scientists discovered the accretion disks of super-massive black holes in at least one-third of all the massive galaxies in the universe far outshines the combined output of the hundreds of billions of stars in their host galaxies at some point in their histories. This outpouring of energy is high enough to strip apart every massive galaxy in the cosmos 25 times over, while the X-ray emission from them turns out to dwarf that from every other source in the universe put together.

Naked mole rat (SPL)
Meet the intriguing animal that biologists have dubbed the 'sabre-toothed sausage'

Paris trouser ban for women could be lifted

A law banning women from wearing trousers in Paris may finally be lifted more than two centuries after first being enforced. The curious rule was first introduced in late 1799 by Paris' police chief, and stipulated than any Parisienne wishing to "dress like a man" must seek special permission from the city's main police station.

This makes the laissez-faire French capital theoretically more hardline than Islamic states like Sudan in the fashion stakes. But a group of ten French MPs has now submitted a draft bill to parliament to remove the law, which has survived repeated attempts to repeal it. The MPs say the trouser ban is "obsolete" and should be "de-legislated".

In 1892, it was slightly relaxed thanks to an amendment which said trousers were permitted "as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse". Then in 1909, the decree was further watered down when an extra clause was added to allow women in trousers on condition they were "on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars". In 1969, amid a global movement towards gender equality, the Paris council asked the city's police chief to bin the decree. His response was: "It is unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore."

The latest attempt to remove the outmoded rule was in 2003, when a Right-wing MP from President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party wrote to the minister in charge of gender equality. The minister's response was: "Disuse is sometimes more efficient than (state) intervention in adapting the law to changing morays." Given that trousers are compulsory for Parisian policewomen, they are, in theory, all breaking the law.

Woman fined for wearing burqa in Italy

26-year old Mamel Marmouri became the first woman in Italy to be fined for wearing a burqa in public when she stopped at the post office on her way to the mosque near her home in Novara, in northern Italy. Anti-terrorist laws from the 1970s prohibit anyone from walking around in public with her face covered, but this wasn't enforced until recently, when the mayor of Novara — a member of the Northern League Party — started cracking down on things like immigration and mosque-building. Marmouri is Tunisian.

Her husband, Ben Salah Braim, had this to say about the incident:
I just don't know where we are going to get 500 euros to pay the fine. We thought as she was going to the mosque she was OK to wear the burqa. We knew about the law and I know that it's not against my religion but now Amel will have to stay indoors.
I can't have other men looking at her.

Editorial Cartoon


Wingnut christian leader George Rekers takes vacation with "rent boy"

Why did Professor George Alan Rekers (an anti-gay activist who cofounded the right-wing Family Research Council with James Dobson) hire a young male escort from RentBoy.com to accompany him on a trip to Europe? His answer: “I had surgery and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”
Maybe his insurance company sent him to rentboy.com instead of a real medical assistant agency. It's Obama's fault!
201005041639For decades, George Alan Rekers has been a general in the culture wars, though his work has often been behind the scenes. In 1983, he and James Dobson, America's best-known homophobe, formed the Family Research Council, a D.C.-based, rabidly Christian, and vehemently anti-gay lobbying group that has become a standard-bearer of the nation's extreme right wing. Its annual Values Summit is considered a litmus test for Republican presidential hopefuls, and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter have spoken there. (The Family Research Council would not comment about Rekers's Euro-trip.) He has also influenced American government, serving in advisory roles with Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services and testifying as a state's witness in favor of Florida's gay adoption ban. A former research fellow at Harvard University and a distinguished professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of South Carolina, Rekers has published papers and books by the hundreds, with titles like "Who Am I? Lord" and "Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality."
"While he keeps a low public profile, his fingerprints are on almost every anti-gay effort to demean and dehumanize LGBT people," says Wayne Besen, a gay rights advocate in New York City and the executive director of Truth Wins Out, which investigates the anti-gay movement. "His work is ubiquitously cited by lobby groups that work to deny equality to LGBT Americans. Rekers has caused a great deal of harm to gay and lesbian individuals."

Half the Amazon Could be Lost by 2050

deforesting the amazon photo 
Photo via Globo
In what could easily be considered a worst-case scenario for the fate of the world's largest rainforest, a study led by Brazil's National Institute of Special Research found that the size of the Amazon could be reduced 50 percent by 2050, the 'tipping point' for when it will slowly wither away entirely. Considering forest-threatening factors such as fires, deforestation, and the emission of greenhouse gases, the research found if the regions of the Amazon most crucial to maintaining the biome's climate are lost, large sections of the once lush rainforest may be reduced to a virtual desert.
Article continues: Half the Amazon Could be Lost by 2050, Says Study

Interesting In General

Interesting In General
The summer pastime has evolved from a backyard game to a semi-serious sport. 

A fish's zigzag taxi to takeoff

This photo of a flying fish carving the water with its tail shows how it becomes airborne.

Taken from a yacht in the Timor Sea, it shows how the fish break free of the water by angling upwards and accelerating to about 60km/h. Their wing-like pectoral fins enable them to glide for up to 200m out of water.

Unlike almost all other fish, their unevenly forked tail's bottom lobe is far longer than the top. They stay airborne by flapping their tails up to 70 times a second as the lower lobe touches the water.

Top 10 places for speeding tickets

Areas with miles of beautiful, sparsely populated roads may also have the busiest traffic cops.  

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe

McCain: Constitution shouldn't apply to brown US citizens

Once They Know Suspect Isn't A Teabagger, Relieved repugicans Go Back To Whipping Up Hysteria

NJ wingnut Christie To Deny Tenure To State's Court's Only African-American Justice

The Gulf oil spill makes wingnut 'drill baby drill' fans look like idiots. So of course, it's a liberal conspiracy

"All we’re doing - is enforcing federal law." 
     -- JD Hayworth, pretending federal law requires
        Arizona cops to pull over and check the darkies


Top Ten

Top Ten BP Excuses

It's Not Obama's Katrina, It's Cheney's Chernobyl

From Skippy:

This is the meme we have got to circulate: Cheney's Chernobyl

Steve Benen explains:
The piece is from William Galston, hardly a liberal firebrand, and it's worth a look. of particular interest, it notes that the Deepwater Horizon rig did not have a remote-control acoustic shutoff switch, routinely used by rigs elsewhere. why the switch wasn't there is what matters.
As the Wall Street Journal, reports, after a spill in 2000, the [Minerals Management Service] issued a safety notice saying that such a back-up device is "an essential component of a deepwater drilling system." the industry pushed back in 2001, citing alleged doubts about the capacity of this type of system to provide a reliable emergency backup. by 2003, government regulators decided that the matter needed more study after commissioning a report that offered another, more honest reason: "acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly." I guess that depends on what they're compared to.

The system costs about $500,000 per rig. BP is spending at least $5 million per day battling the spill, the well destroyed by the explosion is valued at $560 million, and estimated damages to fishing, tourism, and the environment already run into the billions.
The Minerals Management Service is the part of the Interior Department responsible for offshore drilling. towards the end of the Clinton administration, MMS officials wanted rigs to have the acoustic shutoff switches, but by 2003, the agency had changed direction.

What happened in those three years? Well, for one thing, the MMS in the Bush/Cheney era became one of the most corrupt government agencies in American history. the Minerals Management Service proudly embraced an anything-goes atmosphere that led to literally Caligula-like corruption and debauchery -- federal officials traded cocaine and sex for lucrative oil contracts, for example.

For another, Dick Cheney's secretive energy task force concluded that $500,000 for remote shutoff was simply too great a burden, and the former v.p. and his team didn't want to force BP and other oil companies to spend the money.
That last sentence is the key: the former v.p. and his team didn't want to force BP and other oil companies to spend the money.

Drive that point home, kids. Cheney's Chernobyl.

Its Only The Environment After All

Its Only The Environment After All
Officials hope a specially-built, 100-ton device will siphon the gushing oil leak in the Gulf.  

Massive Beaver Dam

 BEAVER dam</a>
This woodland construction is the world's biggest beaver dam, which at 2,790ft is more than twice the length of the Hoover dam and can be seen from space. The mammals use trees, mud and stone to make a type of moat where they can use their swimming skills to evade any predators.

The families live in lodges on the dams and spend their days adding to and repairing the incredible structures.

Dance Without Sleeping

Melissa Etheridge

Odds and Sods

Odds and Sods
In Cop News

Australian court rules it is acceptable to call a police officer a prick
A court magistrate in Sydney ruled yesterday that the word "prick" was part of the every-day vernacular as he cleared a university student of an offensive language charge.

Waverley Local Court magistrate Robbie Williams made his comments during a hearing for science student Henry Grech, 22, who was charged following a heated argument with Senior Constable Adam Royds at Bondi Junction train station last year.

Mr Williams said he wasn't satisfied that a "reasonable person" would be offended by the word prick in general conversation.

"I consider the word prick is of a less derogatory nature than other words and it is in common usage in this country," he said. "A police officer on a number of occurrences would hear words like this used on a much worse scale. Police officers would be used to this type of language."

Mr Williams said the spectrum of acceptable offensive vocabulary in society was a "moving feast".

"The words also take on different meaning. It is clear that there are some words which could be considered to be on the offensive list," he said. "As to whether the word prick falls into that category must be taken in the context of which it was used."

A 24-year-old Juneau woman went into a public restroom packing heat and left burned.

Not content with having neurotoxin weaponry, the tiger puffer tears chunks out of its brothers and sisters when it's growing up