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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.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Infuse your home with some new, stylish additions.
Even if you aren't a big believer in feng shui, there are some principles that anyone can follow and make sense of.
For example, a clean, pleasant and orderly space is generally more pleasant to come home to, and makes getting ready in the morning much easier.
Even a quick paint job or mail stand can make a major difference.
Some of our readers today have been in:
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais Brazil
Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Bad Homburg, Hessen, Germany
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Lille, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
London, England, United Kingdom

as well as Scotland, Spain, and the United States in such cities as Silver Spring, Curryville, Nantucket, Vashon and more

Today is Monday, June 28, the 177th day of 2010.
There are 186 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
There is none.

As The World Turns

As The World Turns
They've voted before - but never freely, and never fairly. On Sunday, junta-ruled Guinea cast ballots for a new president in the first democratic election this West African nation has ever known.
Guinea on Sunday held its first free election since independence more than half a century ago, a vote many hope will finally end decades of harsh military rule and launch a new democratic era.

World Cup Soccer

Manuel Neuer's quick thinking leads to one of the most controversial moments in this World Cup.  
These World Cup officials maintain near-perfect harmony as they prepare for a big game. 
Gabriel Heinze inadvertently slams his head into a camera after Argentina scores a goal.

Landon Donovan's next move

Landon Donovan is being targeted by one of the world's richest soccer teams, sources say.

Non Sequitur

Non Sequitur

An offer you cannot refuse

The Pigeon Mafia has been looking for you

Robert Byrd dies at 92

The West Virginia Democrat set the record as the longest-serving senator in U.S. history.

Best swimming holes in America

Beat the summer heat at spots like Redfish Lake, Peekamoose Blue Hole, and Sliding Rock. 

Alex head into the Gulf

From the "This could be nasty" Department:
Tropical Storm Alex moved into the Gulf of Mexico Sunday after weakening to a depression as it swirled across Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, dumping rains that left at least four people dead across the region.

The Ancient Law Code Of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest known examples of human laws being defined and written down in an orderly way. Little is known about Hammurabi himself; he ruled Babylon nearly four millennia ago, from roughly 1792-1750 B.C.

The Code of Hammurabi has 282 entries covering all sorts of civil interactions, from inheritance to theft to slave ownership. Some of the laws are general and others quite specific. The code's best-known dictum is 'If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out' - commonly quoted as 'An eye for an eye.'



On The Job

On The Job
If you don't explain some career moves in the resumé itself, there won't be any interview. 

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Anagramma fern
Scientists rediscover an ancient fern on one of Britain's overseas territories
Goce geoid (Esa)
The Goce satellite returns a remarkable high-definition view of how gravity varies across the Earth.

The Large Hadron Collider doubles its rate of particle collisions, paving the way for a new phase of operation.
Germany's TanDEM-X satellite, sent into orbit to make the most precise 3D map of the Earth's surface, acquires its first images.

Ageing Brains Retain Knowledge

The human brain improves as it gets older in some functions, according to scientific research that suggests age really does confer wisdom. A study by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York has found that long-term memory remains unaffected with age and a person's vocabulary, emotional intelligence and social skills may all get better.

Short-term memory, learning skills and the ability to reason do decline with age, the research shows, but not all mental faculties reach their peak when a person is in their 20s as is commonly believed.

Beds are burning

Midnight Oil

EU to ban selling eggs by the dozen

Shoppers will be banned from buying bread rolls or eggs priced by the dozen under new food labeling regulations proposed by the European parliament. Under the draft legislation, to come into force as early as next year, the sale of groceries using the simple measurement of numbers will be replaced by an EU-wide system based on weight.

It would mean an end to packaging descriptions such as eggs by the dozen, four-packs of apples, six bread rolls or boxes of 12 fish fingers. The legislation could even see special unit-based promotional packs offering 'eight chocolate bars for the price of six' banned, according to a report in trade magazine, The Grocer.

It comes after MEPs last week voted against an amendment to the regulations that would allow individual states to nominate products that could be sold by number. Individual countries are currently allowed to specify exemptions, but the proposed Food Labeling Regulations make no such provisions.

The changes would cost the food and retail industries millions of pounds as items would have to be individually weighed to ensure the accuracy of the label. The Grocer said food industry sources has described the move as "bonkers" and "absolute madness". Its editor, Adam Leyland, said the EU had "created a multi-headed monster".

Buying bad homes near good schools

It's supposed to be a buyer's market, but some education-obsessed parents aren't feeling it.  

Wizard of Id

Wizard of Id

The Scimitar Oryx

Once one of the most numerous horned animals in North Africa, the Scimitar Oryx has now been classified as extinct in the wild.

A pale antelope with a ruddy chest this almost horse-like mammal would perhaps be unremarkable save for one thing - it's majestic and incredibly long curved horns. For this reason it was hunted almost to extinction.

Drop the Harpoon! Whale-Watching is Good Business

guy whale-watching photo  
Photo via TopNews
New research into the whale-watching industry is confirming what we've known all along--that the world's largest mammal is worth more alive than it is dead. Sure, there may be a dwindling number of folks salivating at the thought of whale, thinking on making a meal of blubbery steak, but the booming whale-watching industry is shown to be the more lucrative business. In fact, whales have been such an attraction around that world that just last year some 13 million tourists paid to see them, turning whale-watching into a $2.1 billion industry--plus no one has to be eaten.

Here's your sign

With the economy as it is maybe this sign needs updating.

Income gap in US is increasing

And they want to stay the course?
The new CBO data — the most comprehensive data available on changes in incomes and taxes for different income groups — also show the following:

* In 2007, the share of after-tax income going to the top 1 percent hit its highest level (17.1 percent) since 1979, while the share going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level during this period (14.1 percent).
* Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation — an increase in income of $973,100 per household — compared to increases of 25 percent ($11,200 per household) for the middle fifth of households and 16 percent ($2,400 per household) for the bottom fifth (see Figure 1).
* If all groups’ after-tax incomes had grown at the same percentage rate over the 1979-2007 period, middle-income households would have received an additional $13,042 in 2007 and families in the bottom fifth would have received an additional $6,010.
* In 2007, the average household in the top 1 percent had an income of $1.3 million, up $88,800 just from the prior year; this $88,800 gain is well above the total 2007 income of the average middle-income household ($55,300).

Police accused of using a Taser on an 86-year-old, bed-ridden grandmother

Police have been accused of tasering an 86-year-old bed-ridden grandmother. Lonnie Tinsley called the emergency services to his home in El Reno, Oklahoma, when he became concerned that his grandma Lona Vernon had failed to take her medication. But instead of a medical technician, he claims at least a dozen armed police officers answered his call.

When Mrs Vernon ordered the police from her house, officer Thomas Duran allegedly decided she was being 'aggressive' and gave the order: 'Taser her.' Her alarmed grandson, is then said to have replied: 'Don't taze my granny!' According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Tinsley’s 'obstructive' behavior prompted the police to threaten him with their tasers.

He was then was assaulted, removed from the room, thrown to the floor, handcuffed, and detained in a police car. At this point, the heroes in blue turned their attention to Lona. According to officer Duran’s official report, Mrs Vernon had taken an 'aggressive posture' in her hospital bed. In order to ensure 'officer safety', one of his men 'stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation'.

Another of the officers then shot her with a taser, but the connection wasn’t solid.
A second fired his taser, 'striking her to the left of the midline of her upper chest, and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain', and unconsciousness. Lona was then handcuffed with sufficient ruthlessness to tear the soft flesh of her forearms, causing her to bleed. After her wounds were treated at a local hospital, Lona was confined for six days in the psychiatric ward at the insistence of the El Reno Police Department.

British Wingnuts launch attack on welfare recipients

This is so typical of the Tories (the British repugicans). Attack those who are the least advantaged and talk about cost savings. Nobody really doubts that there are cases of abuse but to suggest there's so much there that it will impact the budget deficit in any noticeable way is laughable. How stupid does one have to be to really believe such rubbish? As always it's too easy to attack people at the bottom while giving a free pass to the richest who have indeed bee profiting enormously from welfare handouts. Bankers, anyone? Wouldn't it be nice to see the wingnuts be half as aggressive with going after the biggest spongers of them all rather than the poor?

It's all too predictable and the same old nastiness that we've come to expect from the Tories.
Ministers are to signal a tougher approach to incapacity benefit this week as the next stage of its welfare reforms, by reducing the benefit levels of those tested if they are found capable of doing some work.

Details are expected to be announced by the work minister, Chris Grayling, this week. Early pilots suggest half of those assessed are being taken off the higher rate benefit on the basis that tests reveal they are fit to do some work, government sources say.

Those deemed capable are likely to be required to do more to make themselves available for work if they are to continue receiving benefit.

Ministers have also looked at whether they can speed up the testing, but denied a suggestion that they could treble the number tested.

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe
When dealing with wingnuts ... Remember the rule: 
If they accuse someone of something, then they're already guilty of it.
Liars and Fools
Louis Gohmert (retard-Texas) approvingly reads Thomas Sowell's "Obama is Hitler" essay into the Congressional record.
This is an asshole doing what assholes do - being an asshole.

Faux's Sarah Palin encourages followers to read columnist Thomas Sowell's article warning that the BP escrow fund could lead to a Nazi-like dictatorship.
Anyone still listen to what this crazy bitch says?! Now, that's a surprise.

Faux's Glenn Beck says "I think we're headed for a civil war".
No, we aren't. We averted that when we ousted the shrub and the cabal in November of 2008.

Faux's Sean Hannity and guest Stuart Varney lie: Obama and radical environmentalists have sabotaged Gulf cleanup to advance their radical socialist agenda.
No, that would be Bp along with the other oil companies and their lapdogs the repugicans who have sabotaged and are continuing to sabotage the efforts to clean up and stop the leak

Jon Voight writes in newspaper about Obama's "destruction of this country".
This from an idiot who's only claim to fame is playing to his true nature and portraying a male whore in the film Midnight Cowboy? We can discount this out of hand.


Bad Cops

Bad Cops

G-20 Summit

Police raid a university building, where they seized a cache of "street-type weaponry."  
Of course there is the other view of the 'Vandalism,Violence outside the G-20 summit.
Riot police charge and strike at peaceful protesters at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada.
The Guardian and other news outlets report that Canada spent a billion dollars on security for the event (by comparison, London last year spent some $30 million). 

G-20 Steps Up Efforts To Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies

photo via flickr
There's news out of Canada, home of this week's G20, about fossil fuel subsidies. Reports say that at the behest of the USA, the group of the 20 largest economies in the world have agreed to remove language that says that cuts in subsidies should be "voluntary." The result could be greater price party for renewable energy sources. The movement seems to be the result of the Gulf oil spill, which continues unabated.

Croc Vs Shark

croc eats shark photo 
On what otherwise might have been an average excursion through Australia's Kakadu National Park, tourists were treated to an epic battle between two of nature's most ferocious predators, a crocodile and a shark. There's no saying just how long the pair were at it for, but by the time the tour boats arrived on the scene and the cameras began snapping it seemed the 6 foot long saltwater crocodile had the upper hand, having torn the bull shark in half. Like a rowdy crowd watching a prizefight, "nearly 100 people saw it all up and they were jumping for joy," says the tour's guide.

Rare look at the Gulf's 'city at sea'

The massive floating rigs are drilling 18,000 feet down to a Frisbee-sized hole.

Your highway department at work

Your highway department at work

Broom Hilda

Broom Hilda

Abortion hotline in Pakistan faces violent opposition

An abortion hotline which has been set up in Pakistan is facing violent opposition. Islamic groups and political parties have condemned the hotline, which was launched yesterday, as "anti-Islamic" and "colonial", even though it will save the lives of thousands of women who die each year in backstreet abortion clinics. They have warned the organizers that they are at risk of reprisals. The hotline, set up by a collection of women's groups in Pakistan and the Dutch pro-choice group Women on Waves, advises women how to use a drug to induce miscarriage safely and aims to reduce the estimated 890,000 unsafe illegal abortions performed in Pakistan every year.

"There will be very strong opposition," said Ahsan Iqbal, of the Pakistan Muslim League. "This could create misuse. It cannot be done as free choice under our law and our religion." Access to abortion in Pakistan is very limited. Forbidden under Islamic law unless the mother's life is in danger, terminating a pregnancy carries a massive social stigma in the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim. As a result, a flourishing trade in backstreet abortion clinics has developed.

Figures from the Population Council of Pakistan show that the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, with 320 women dying for every 100,000 live births – compared to 13 per 100,000 in the UK. The Guttmacher Institute, which researches sexual and reproductive health, estimates that as many as one in six deaths are a result of illegal abortions. "We want to save women's lives," said Gulalai Ismail, founder of the Pakistani women's group Aware Girls, which is helping to set up the hotline. "We are empowering women, and trying to give them information to help them take control of their bodies. Any groups which try to help women will have problems with extremist and fundamentalist groups. Ninety-nine per cent of clerics will oppose this."

As well as the hotline, trained Pakistani staff will offer abortion information in communities in rural Pakistan, particularly in the tribal areas of the North-West Frontier Province, where opposition is expected to be fiercest. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, warned the organizers that they risked reprisals. "To go against the majority like this might be seen sympathetically in the West, but it will be counterproductive and will create huge problems. At best, they are misguided, at worst they are trying to provoke," he said. "It is part of the colonial idea that the West's way is the best, and that is not the case."

Not crucified

Want to rattle a closed-minded bigot's little mind ... show him this:
Historical Jesus
I’ve read before that although the Romans kept meticulous records of crucifixions, there is no surviving record of a Jewish radical from Nazareth being crucified in the claimed time period. I don’t have references handy, but I can dig some up if anyone’s interested. Christian scholars, when presented with this lack of evidence, have sometimes argued the lack of a record is due to the fact that Jesus was crucified by Jews, not by Romans. However, this Christian scholar actually argues that Jesus wasn’t crucified at all:
The legend of his execution is based on the traditions of the Christian church and artistic illustrations rather than antique texts, according to theologian Gunnar Samuelsson.
He claims the Bible has been misinterpreted as there are no explicit references the use of nails or to crucifixion – only that Jesus bore a “staurus” towards Calvary which is not necessarily a cross but can also mean a “pole”. [...]
The ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew literature from Homer to the first century AD describe an arsenal of suspension punishments but none mention “crosses” or “crucifixion.”
Mr Samuelsson, of Gothenburg University, said: “Consequently, the contemporary understanding of crucifixion as a punishment is severely challenged.
“And what’s even more challenging is the same can be concluded about the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus. The New Testament doesn’t say as much as we’d like to believe.”
However, I would expect the Romans would have kept records of all executions, crucifixions or not, though I suppose the “he was executed by Jews” caveat would still apply.
Samuelsson also claims “That a man named Jesus existed in that part of the world and in that time is well-documented. He left a rather good foot-print in the literature of the time.” My understanding is that there are no surviving contemporary accounts of Jesus, but I could be wrong.
(I still subscribe the “composite character” theory of Jesus – he was based on several historical Jewish radicals, not a historical single person, and later sexed up with Pagan Theology to make christian mythology more palatable)

Want an island ... cheap?!

From The Guardian:
Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sun-kissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.

The Guardian has learned that an area in Mykonos, one of Greece's top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Potential investors also looking at property on the island of Rhodes, are mostly Russian and Chinese. Investors in both countries are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, is among those understood to be interested, although a spokesman denied he was about to invest.

Greece has embarked on the desperate measures after being pushed into a €110bn (£90bn) bailout by the EU and the IMF last month, following a decade of overspending and after jittery investors raised borrowing costs to unbearable levels.