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.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Daily Drift

Ref. 5623 by DonTaggart_railarchive on Flickr.
Another Era Gone By

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Today in History

1146   Zangi of the Near East is murdered. The Sultan Nur ad-Din, his son, pursues the conquest of Edessa.
1321   Dante Alighieri dies of malaria just hours after finishing writing Paradiso.
1544   Henry VIII's forces take Boulogne, France.
1773   Russian forces under Aleksandr Suvorov successfully storm a Turkish fort at Hirsov, Turkey.
1791   Louis XVI swears his allegiance to the French constitution.
1812   Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Russia reaches its climax as his Grande Armee enters Moscow–only to find the enemy capital deserted and burning, set afire by the few Russians who remained.
1814   Francis Scott Key writes the words to the "Star Spangled Banner" as he waits aboard a British launch in the Chesapeake Bay for the outcome of the British assault on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
1847   U.S. forces under Gen. Winfield Scott capture Mexico City, bringing the two-year Mexican War to a close.
1853   The Allies land at Eupatoria on the west coast of Crimea.
1862   At the battles of South Mountain and Crampton's Gap, Maryland Union troops smash into the Confederates as they close in on what will become the Antietam battleground.
1901   Vice President Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as the 26th President of the United States upon the death of William McKinley, who was shot eight days earlier.
1911   Russian Premier Piotr Stolypin is mortally wounded in an assassination attempt at the Kiev opera house.
1943   German troops abandon the Salerno front in Italy..
1960   Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia form OPEC.
1966   Operation Attleboro, designed as a training exercise for American troops, becomes a month-long struggle against the Viet Cong.
1975   Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton becomes the first native-born American saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

Non Sequitur

http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ucomics.com/nq120913.gif

From the "Tell us something we didn't know ..." Department:

2012 the hottest year on record so far in US 

Queue the dingbat repugican/Faux News denier who will talk about the day is snowed somewhere on a particular day. "It ain't hot here today, duh huh, duh huh."

At what point did the repugican cabal stop believing in science and choose stories from a book to explain everything?
The first eight months of 2012 have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States, and this has been the third-hottest summer since record-keeping began in 1895, the U.S. National Climate Data Center said on Monday.

Each of the last 15 months has seen above-average temperatures, something that has never happened before in the 117 years of the U.S. record, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the data center.

Winter, spring and summer 2012 have all been among the top-five hottest for their respective seasons, Crouch said by telephone, and that too is unique in the U.S. record. There has never been a warmer September-through-August period than in 2011-2012, he said.

How Barry Goldwater's Granddaughter Ended Up at the Democratic Convention

By Molly Ball
CC Goldwater reveres her grandfather's legacy -- and says he wouldn't recognize today's repugicans. Last week in Charlotte, she helped renominate President Obama.
 
Of all the things Barry Goldwater, who died in 1998, might find foreign about today's political scene, one was surely the scene that unfolded on the floor of the Democratic convention in Charlotte last Wednesday: His granddaughter, surrounded by Arizona's Democratic delegates, nominating President Obama from the convention floor.
"Madam Secretary, Arizona is the Grand Canyon state and has produced some fabulous politicians on both parties. One includes my grandfather, Barry Goldwater," the dark-haired, red-lipsticked woman in a blue dress said, stumbling over her words a little bit -- she was very nervous.
"I'm CC Goldwater," she continued. "My grandfather wouldn't recognize the repugican cabal of today."
 
It was very late -- 11:30 p.m., after Bill Clinton had finished speaking and most of the networks had cut away -- but to those still watching the convention, it was a riveting moment: A direct descendant of perhaps the most conservative presidential nominee the Republican Party has ever had, asserting that today's repugican cabal has gone too far. "Barry Goldwater believed in personal freedoms, the right to privacy, and a woman's right to choose," she said. "On behalf of the Arizona delegation, I want to cast 77 votes for Arizona for Barack Obama, the president of the United States!"
I caught up with Goldwater, who lives in the Phoenix area, this week to see how Barry Goldwater's granddaughter ended up at a Democratic convention. CC isn't actually a Democrat -- she's still registered as an independent, though she thinks she might switch over soon -- and she wasn't a convention delegate, just a guest of the Arizona delegation. Nor was it her first public foray into Democratic politics: In 2008, she came out in favor of Obama and against the repugican nominee from her home state, John McCain.
This might seem like a repudiation of the legacy of the man many credit with pioneering the repugican cabal's shift toward an ever more uncompromising wingnutism. But CC Goldwater -- a filmmaker who in 2006 completed an HBO documentary about her grandfather called Mr. Wingnut: Goldwater on Goldwater -- sees it as consistent. Goldwater, 52, lived with her grandparents for part of her childhood in order to attend high school in Phoenix (she grew up in the small town of Sedona), but her sense of her grandfather was mainly nonpolitical. "Sometimes I'd see the Secret Service at my window because Kissinger was coming over for coffee or something," she laughed. "I knew he was really important, but not what he stood for."
It was through the documentary that she got to know, and admire, her grandfather's politics, interviewing dozens of political figures on all sides about Barry Goldwater's beliefs and his legacy. It's this education that she believes qualifies her to say what he would think of today's repugican cabal. "At the end of his career, he was seeing it too," she said. "He was saying things like, 'If I had to run 10 or 20 years from now, I might not get elected in my own party.' The repugican cabal has changed into less than what I think Barry Goldwater would be supportive of."
CC's critique of the repugican cabal, one her grandfather began to articulate late in his life as well, is a libertarian one. "He was very vocal about his fear of people like the late Jerry Falwell and the religious lunatic right taking over the party," she said. "He was concerned about the change in civil liberties and women's rights." In fact, Barry Goldwater spent much of his political retirement as a thorn in the side of the mainstream repugican cabal. He said the party had been taken over by "kooks" and "extremists"; he called for gays to be allowed to serve in the military, saying, "You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight"; he even endorsed a Democrat in an Arizona congressional race.
A few weeks ago, CC and her mother Joanne Goldwater, Barry Goldwater's eldest child, endorsed Richard Carmona, the Democratic candidate for Barry Goldwater's onetime U.S. Senate seat, saying he best represented Barry Goldwater's integrity and support for abortion rights. It's safe to say Democrats haven't rushed to embrace Barry Goldwater in return, however. His name is most commonly used to invoke a conservatism so right-wing voters won't support it, as when Obama adviser David Plouffe told the New York Times that Romney was "the most conservative nominee that they've had going back to Goldwater, and that "one of the key issues in the campaign is to make sure people know that."
But to CC, her grandfather's legacy is best served by keeping Obama in the White House. But she has another, more personal reason for not supporting Romney. The decades-old conflict between the Romney and Goldwater families goes back to the 1964 repugican convention, when Barry Goldwater was the presidential nominee and George Romney, the governor of Michigan, helped lead a faction of moderates seeking to insert a civil-rights plank in the party platform. When they failed, Romney refused to endorse Goldwater, warning that the party was writing its death sentence with its extreme positions.
"George Romney walked out on my grandfather in 1964 at the Cow Palace," CC Goldwater says. "I'm not sure how I could support his son now. If my grandfather were alive, I think he'd say [of Mitt Romney], 'His father was a real weenie. He left me hanging.'"

The truth be told


Did you know ...

The NYPD secret squad set up for spying on Muslims disbanded after finding zero cases

That the hard right is paranoid about the wrong things

The shrub and Romney: deja vu all over again

Which president would win in a knife fight? (via)

One more out of work ...

Runner who called out Ryan's marathon time: It's a "verifiable lie"

As he says himself, it speaks to his character. Paul Ryan has looked bad since being chosen as Romney's running mate. He has not been able to provide policy details, he's talking a different story than Romney on many issues and he consistently has problems with telling the truth about his personal life and in his speeches.

LetsRun.com:
LRC: Are you surprised with how much attention the matter has received? One little post on a message board has generated a lot of attention. Do many people know that you are the guy who kicked this whole thing off?

Bill Walker: No. A Vice-Presidential nominee telling a verifiable lie about himself should attract a lot of attention. It speaks to his character, and that's relevant to the issue of whether someone should vote for Romney/Ryan in November.

It was one little post, but every story has a starting point. The credit goes to the letsrun.com posters who jumped on the question and pointed out repeatedly that they could not find any proof of Ryan's claim -- which attracted the attention of Scott Douglas at Runner's World, who called the Congressman's campaign office and got the truth.

My family, my running friends, and some of my law partners know about my starting the thread. My five minutes of fame.

LRC: So what's your take on Paul Ryan's explanation on the discrepancy?

Bill Walker: I don't believe him. I think he knew the truth about his one marathon when he gave the interview, and he just didn't care if he stretched the truth if it made him look better to potential voters.

Everything Romney touches about foreign policy goes wrong

Once again, Mitt Romney wades into foreign policy, and once again Mitt Romney screws up.

The UK Olympics

First there was his visit to the UK for the Olympics, where he offended our top ally again, and again, and again. Romney's staff also used the occasion of the foreign trip to take a potshot at the President, something that has traditionally been frowned upon by politicians when traveling abroad.

Poland

Then he went to Poland, and his aide was caught on tape making a vulgar comment at a location holy to the Polish people.

Israel

And finally he went to Israel, where he insulted the Palestinians while suggesting that Jews have some innate talent for making money (in much of the world that's considered an anti-Semitic slur). And then he came back to the US and only days after visiting Israel, Sista Souljah'd the US' top ally in the Middle East by suggesting that the Jewish state was built by socialists, and socialist are very bad un-American people.

Libya/Egypt Violence

And now Mitt Romney wades into something serious. A foreign policy, national security crisis. American lives are on the line. Four Americans are dead. So what does Mitt Romney do? He jumps the gun, and before he has all the facts, he politicizes the crisis, only a few hours old, by taking a partisan potshot at the President. Then, in the face of growing criticism, he holds a press conference in which he smirks the entire time, while speaking of the murder of four Americans, including a US ambassador, and then Romney gets the capital of Libya wrong.

The Scandal Over His Own Foreign Policy Spokesman

The man is a walking time-bomb of foreign policy inexperience, insult, injury and inappropriateness.  Heck, Romney couldn't even hire a foreign policy spokesman with causing an unnecessary controversy.  To suggest that Mitt Romney is in over his head is putting it kindly.  If he has to run for president, he should turn in his passport, keep his mouth shut, and leave our national security to the experts.

Romney lied, as advisers saw Libya/Egypt violence as "opportunity"

AP paints a devastating portrait of a man, Mitt Romney, who jumped the gun, didn't care that he was wrong, and whose staff was giddy that Americans were under attack abroad - while Americans saw death, Team Romney smelled "opportunity."
In Washington, repugican foreign policy veterans called Romney's initial statement premature and rushed, with limited facts and an incomplete understanding of what was happening in Egypt and Libya. Romney's team also was unclear about the timeline of when the Obama administration weighed in.

One Republican official advising Romney's campaign on foreign policy and national security issues painted a picture of a Romney campaign more focused on ensuring Romney's evening statement made it into morning news stories than on waiting for details about what had happened.

This official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Romney's campaign, said that as word of violence spread, campaign aides late Tuesday watched tweets coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that were criticizing the filmmaker rather than condemning the attackers, and saw an opportunity to criticize Obama.
I've actually never seen this strong a criticism from AP in one of their fact checks. This is one of those times where even the media - which sometimes tries so hard to be objective that they're afraid to call a lie a lie - calls a lie a lie.

For example, AP points out that Romney lied when he claimed that the US embassy issued their statement after the attacks - it was hours before, that's why the statement didn't condemn the violence.  There hadn't been any violence yet.

A damning fact check from AP:
The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of "disgraceful" handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

"The Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," Romney said in a statement first emailed to reporters at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time, under the condition it not be published until midnight.

In fact, neither a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day nor a later statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered sympathy for attackers. The statement from the Cairo Embassy had condemned anti-Muslim religious incitement before the embassy walls were breached. In her statement, issued minutes before Romney's, Clinton had offered the administration's first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.
Oh my god. AP walks you through what happened in a timeline, moment by moment - and it's devastating. Romney got everything wrong, but boy was he willing to jump and be the first one heard on the issue, even as the crisis was unfolding and no one knew what was happening.  Read this entire piece by AP.  It's long, detailed and devastating.

Liars

I watched former shrub press secretary Ari Fleischer on Anderson Cooper's show last night, talking about Mitt Romney's utter #FAIL on the Libya/Egypt crisis, and he really is a repugican. In the way that he's an utter liar, I mean.
Fleischer said that Romney criticizing Obama in the middle of a foreign policy crisis, that had only started hours before, and in which at least one America was already dead, is just like candidate Obama criticizing candidate McCain who wasn't president, who wasn't running American foreign policy, and who wasn't in the middle of a national security crisis where American lives were at risk. Amazing.

Then Fleischer goes on to say that John Kerry criticized the shrub on Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2004 campaign - two ongoing wars that shrub started and that were a disaster - and Fleischer said that that is the same thing as Romney commenting on the Egypt/Libya crisis only hours after it began, when we had no idea what was going on, other than that Americans were dead.

No, Ari, it's not the same thing.

You're just a liar, like most of your party leadership, and the natural thing for you to do is, well, lie and just assume that no one will notice.  Well, we noticed.

We're not idiots, Ari.  I know you assume a lot of your voters are. But we're not. There's a difference between undercutting the President only hours into a deadly national security crisis, and criticizing a war that's been going on for years.

Americans expect a presidential candidate to offer his views on an ongoing war.  They do not expect a presidential candidate to jump on a podium, with bunting and flags intended to make it look like he's speaking to the nation as president from the White House (yeah, we noticed), and start offering his opinions, and undermining the President, on a crisis that's just started, and about which the candidate has no idea what was even going on.

I'm surprised Romney didn't grab the mic and declare himself in charge of the entire federal government, a la Al Haig.

At that moment in time, when American lives were on the line in Libya and Egypt, no one in America gave a damn about what Mitt Romney was thinking.  But there he was, smirking like an idiot, getting his facts wrong, and treating the death of an American diplomat as "an opportunity."

Not very presidential.  But oh so repugican.

Team Romney and the GOP are in full damage control mode

You have to give the repugican cabal credit, they can organize a lie - or 100 of them - like no one else.
As was expected, the repugicans and their propaganda organ, Faux News, coordinated a massive defense of Mitt Romney's abject failure as a foreign policy leader by launching a gazillion attacks against President Obama today, pretty much all of them lies.

Here's one big one they're pushing today: Everything went crazy in Libya and Egypt because Obama isn't getting his daily intelligence briefing, instead he's traveling to Vegas! OMG!

Yeah, except it's not true.

Obama is still getting his Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) while on travel, the same way he always gets it on travel, by paper.  The PDB is a written, highly sensitive, intelligence document that the President gets every day.

Oh, but the repugicans say, Obama will be missing the oral briefing by a live person!

Let me tell you about that oral briefing.  It started during the shrub years because someone couldn't handle reading his daily briefing like all the other presidents before him, so he made an intelligence officer truck in every day to talk him through it, because big words are hard.

So let's not get started on why shrub needed someone to hold his hand during the briefing and why Barack Obama, like President Bill Clinton, doesn't (and didn't).

But this is just one example of how big of liars the repugicans are, but more importantly, how freaked out they apparently are by Mitt Romney having embarrassed himself over this Libya/Egypt imbroglio.

In debate, we used to call this "spreading."  It didn't matter if your argument was any good, you'd just spit out as many accusations as possible in 8 minutes, in the hope that your opponent couldn't respond to everything, and something would stick.

Mitt Romney has the country scared, the repugicans panicked - so let the spreading begin.  Because after all, if you can't win an election with the truth, then win the repugican way.

Washington Post editorial blasts Romney for "crude political attacks" over Libya/Egypt violence

Washington Post editorial board:
Mr. Romney did not then know the extent of the Benghazi incident — his statement referred only to “the death of an American consulate worker.” So it was stunning to see the repugican nominee renew his verbal offensive Wednesday morning, when the country was still absorbing the news of the first death in service of a U.S. ambassador since 1988, as well as the loss of three other Americans. Though reports were still sketchy, it appeared that a militant jihadist group, Ansar al-Sharia, took advantage of the Benghazi protest to stage an armed assault that overwhelmed the Libyan security force at the consulate.

At a news conference, Mr. Romney claimed that the administration had delivered “an apology for America’s values.” In fact, it had done no such thing: religious tolerance, as much as freedom of speech, is a core American value. The movie that provoked the protests, which mocks the prophet Mohammed and portrays Muslims as immoral and violent, is a despicable piece of bigotry; it was striking that Mr. Romney had nothing to say about such hatred directed at a major religious faith.

Egypt not an ally or enemy

President Barack Obama says the U.S. would not consider Egypt an ally, "but we don't consider them an enemy." Obama said in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo that Egypt is a "new government that is trying to find its way."


Morsi says Egyptians reject 'unlawful acts'
Crowds protesting at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo the same day climbed its walls and tore down an American flag, which they replaced briefly with a black, Islamist flag.
 More

Afghans seek shelter in Dubai ahead of pullout


Not long ago, Mohammed Daoud was making good money hiring out halls for wedding parties thrown by a new class of Afghan war entrepreneurs.
Today, he is using some of the profits to buy a $160,000 apartment nestled amid the skyscrapers and shopping malls of Dubai.
Daoud sees his 27th-floor bolt-hole as both a canny investment and the ultimate insurance policy against the darkest scenarios he can envisage for his homeland when the bulk of foreign forces leave.
"Nobody knows what's going to happen after 2014," he told Reuters in Kabul. "If something happens with the security situation here, I can take my family. We feel safe in Dubai."
Wealthy Afghans have sharply increased the pace of investment in property in the Gulf Emirate, motivated by a mix of hard-headed commercial calculations and more nebulous security fears sparked by the drawdown.
AFGHAN SHOPPING SPREES
Afghan buyers spent 220 million dirhams ($60.7 million) on property in Dubai in the first six months of this year, a 27 percent increase compared with the same period in 2011, according to Dubai government data obtained by Reuters. Some are spending up to 20 million dirhams on shopping sprees for multiple villas, while many buy million-dollar homes in cash, dealers say.
The growth outpaced a 21 percent rise in total property transactions in Dubai by both local and foreign investors in the same period. The interest was driven in part by a steep decline in prices in the Emirate's once white-hot property market.
The figures will make troubling reading for Western allies struggling to convince an uneasy Afghan population the transition will not be a prelude to international abandonment or an escalation in fighting with the Taliban.
Haji Obaidullah Sader Khail, chairman of the Afghan-Dubai Business Council, said the true scale of Afghan investment could be four times higher than the data suggests because many transactions may not have been registered.
"I know people who have bought 15 to 20 villas," he said.
According to the official figures, the number of properties Afghans bought in Dubai jumped to 114 in the first half compared to 76 in the same period in 2011.
BILLIONS IN SUITCASES
Reports from real estate agents that Afghans routinely buy luxury homes in cash will do little to ease concerns that some of the billions of dollars the United States and its allies spend to bankroll the government and security forces is seeping abroad.
Afghanistan's central bank says that Afghans carried $4.5 billion in cash from Kabul airport last year in declared currency exports, double the amount in 2010. The bank estimates that the total amount of cash leaving Afghanistan each year could be as much as $8 billion -- almost twice the size of last year's budget.
The exodus of money is even larger than the $6.37 billion in net official development assistance Afghanistan received in 2010 -- 45 percent of gross domestic product -- making it one of the world's most aid-dependent countries.
The central bank imposed new rules limiting the amount of cash an individual can take out of the country to $20,000 in March, but officials say cash is finding alternative paths, such as the poorly-supervised airport in Kandahar in the south.
"People are still taking physical cash from Afghanistan," deputy central bank governor Khan Afzal Hadawal told Reuters. "We are working on a mechanism to ensure the money is channeled through the banking sector."
While much of the outflow may represent the proceeds of regional currency trading or licit commerce in a cash-based economy, Afghan and Western officials believe a share is derived from government corruption, the theft of aid or heroin trafficking.
"With the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan a feeling of insecurity is setting in," said Parvees Gafur, chief executive of Dubai-based Propsquare Real Estate. "They want to invest before it's too late."
"TRADERS ARE LIKE BIRDS"
The legacy of the West's adventure in Afghanistan will not depend solely on the fight against the Taliban; if growth stalls it may be harder for the state to consolidate its authority as most foreign troops return home.
The flood of cash leaving Kabul airport in boxes and suitcases has stoked fears that entrenched graft and persistent capital flight will make it harder to put a booming but fragile war economy on a more sustainable path.
A U.S. government audit report last year found it was almost impossible to track where much of the billions of dollars spent on security and development projects in the last decade had gone given the country's weak financial tracking system and poor bank oversight. Afghanistan ranks near the bottom of Transparency International's 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Afghanistan's power elite has long cherished second, third or fourth homes in Dubai as footholds in a land of designer boutiques and safe neighborhoods less than a three-hour flight from the more unpredictable streets of Kabul.
Since the United States ousted the Taliban in 2001, lucrative and often badly-supervised contracting opportunities offered by NATO forces or civilian agencies have spawned a new breed of oligarchs who boast ostentatious addresses. With international forces scaling back, growth is sure to slow.
"Spending from the U.S. and international community is going to decrease," said Ajmal Saifi, chief executive of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai, part of an Afghan family-run conglomerate that includes construction and retail interests in Afghanistan.
UNCERTAINTY AFTER KARZAI
Uncertainty about who will replace President Hamid Karzai, due to step down in 2014, has compounded investor anxieties in a patronage-driven economy where fortunes are won or lost as the political landscape shifts.
Under pressure from aid donors, Karzai has ordered ministries to take steps to fight corruption and told the Supreme Court to accelerate investigations into long-standing graft cases.
Although few believe his call will have much impact, the announcements have caused jitters among Afghan plutocrats.
Western countries have pledged durable support to the Afghan government, keen to allay fears of a replay of the slow-motion collapse and civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
But Afghan investors are wary of risking their savings to build factories or farm projects that could help reduce Afghanistan's chronic dependence on foreign aid while the country is in flux.
"The traders are like birds, always looking for greener and more suitable places. But now they are flying from Afghanistan," said Khan Jan Alokozai, one of Afghanistan's most prominent traders and Vice-Chairman of the country's chamber of commerce.
"They all fear that if the government starts to crack down on corruption, they will lose all they have earned. So it's a good time to take out as much as they can," he said.
"ALWAYS CASH BUYS"
Buyers jetting in from Kabul are mainly purchasing property worth between three million dirhams ($816,800) and four million dirhams ($1.09 million), according to Gafur, the dealer.
Some have found their dream home in the Palm Jumeirah, a frond-shaped development of luxury seafront villas whose vista of passing yachts cuts a stark contrast with the panorama of tawny hills encircling Kabul.
Others have sought an abode in up-market developments with names like Emirates Living and Business Bay and in the needle-shaped Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
In spite of the sums involved, Afghans often prefer to pay cash to avoid the higher fees and greater scrutiny required to move money through the banking system, dealers say.
"They are always on cash buys," said Said Quaid Abbas, managing partner at Mideast Properties, a Dubai-based real estate firm, which counts some Afghans among its clientele. "They don't deal through banks."
BARGAIN HUNTING
Security concerns have motivated many Afghan house-hunters to buy in Dubai, but some are primarily looking for bargains.
Dubai real estate prices slumped by more than 60 percent from their peak in 2008 after the global economic crisis triggered a collapse in the Emirate's property market.
Prices have started to recover. The total value of real estate transactions in Dubai topped 63 billion dirhams ($17.2 billion) in the first half of 2012, a 21 percent increase over the same period in the previous year, according to the data.
Foreign investors bought 22 billion dirhams of the total, buying 12,875 properties.
Indians, Pakistanis and Britons were the top three investors in Dubai real estate, followed by Iranians, Russians and Saudis. The government only ranks the top ten most active buyers by nationality and Afghans do not figure on that list.
Middle Eastern investors seeking a haven from the turmoil of the Arab Spring are also snapping up houses, estate agents say.
In Afghanistan, a sharp slowdown in the property market has encouraged investment in Dubai.
Haji Shir Shah Ahmadzai, managing director of a real estate company in Kabul, said property prices in Afghanistan had fallen by about 35 to 50 per cent in the past year. "The only people who are selling properties are people who need money fast," he said.
BANK SCANDAL
The propensity of rich Afghans to acquire assets in Dubai fell under the spotlight after a run at Kabul Bank, the country's biggest private lender, in 2010.
Dubai villas account for about $160 million of some $900 million in assets auditors are trying to recover from the collapsed bank, which extended unsecured loans to a roster of well-connected individuals, according to a former senior Afghan official.
In June, the Afghan government told the International Monetary Fund that it had managed to retrieve properties in Dubai worth an estimated $44 million.
Afghans' faith in their financial system has yet to recover from the Kabul Bank scandal. It is a measure of the lack of confidence in the Afghani that some 70 per cent of deposits in Afghan banks are held in dollars, according to central bank officials.
Not everyone is gloomy. "We can't expect some John, or Matt, or others to build our country ... we have to do it and lead ourselves," said Ajmal Saifi, whose family business continues to invest in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, Daoud's laborers toil at the concrete skeleton of a new hall he is building in the belief that the top tier of Afghan society still has many more wedding parties ahead. He rests a little easier in the knowledge that there are at least six flights a day to his second home in Dubai.

Man says hospital denied him treatment due to him wearing inverted cross

A Canadian man says he’s furious after he was initially denied admission to the Rockyview General Hospital, Calgary, for a wrist injury last weekend when he refused to remove an inverted cross necklace he regularly wears as part of his goth garb. Stevahn Bullen, 22, said he feels he was discriminated against by a hospital admitting clerk and wants to ensure no one else faces the same barriers when seeking public health care. “I’m there to get medical attention and I find that absolutely horrible. I was basically denied medical attention right away because he didn’t want to help me,” Bullen said.

“The fact I was singled out because I was wearing something that was offensive to him and denied service — that kind of makes me lose hope in humanity a little bit.” Bullen, a self-described goth, arrived at the southwest Calgary hospital last Saturday afternoon after injuring his wrist at a skateboarding competition. After he was triaged, Bullen sat down with an admitting clerk to fill out some paperwork. Bullen said he initially laughed it off when the clerk pointed out he was wearing his silver necklace “upside-down.” According to Bullen, when the clerk then told him to take off the jewellery, he replied he’d tuck it under his shirt so it was no longer visible, but declined to remove the necklace, citing his arm injury.


That’s when the clerk told him to find someone else to admit him to the hospital, according to Bullen. “The only thing I made very clear was what he just did was highly inappropriate and very unprofessional and I walked away,” Bullen said. Bullen concedes he’s raised eyebrows before with his inverted cross, which is sometimes perceived as a Satanic symbol, and felt he’d offered a good compromise offering to hide it from sight. He didn’t expect the clerk to refuse to help him get admitted to hospital, he said.

“I was so taken aback and shocked by it all,” said Bullen, who wants a personal apology from the clerk. Bullen, who was admitted by another clerk and received treatment for his wrist, said other health professionals in the hospital treated him well and apologized for what happened. In an Alberta Health Services statement, the medical authority said it takes Bullen’s complaint “very seriously” and offered apologies to the Calgarian and his family. “Alberta Health Services staff are responsible for ensuring and providing care to Albertans in a fair and equitable manner. No patients should ever be denied care. This particular complaint is taken very seriously by AHS and will be fully reviewed.”

Man shot uncle dead in dispute over whether they were about to cook pork steaks or pork chops

John Cunningham of Jennings, St Louis, Missouri, used a shotgun to settle a fight with his uncle over pork steaks early on Monday. Cunningham, 43, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Lessie E. Lowe, 44.

Lowe was the maternal uncle of Cunningham. The shooting stemmed from an argument between Lowe and Cunningham over whether the cuts of meat they were planning to cook were pork steaks or pork chops, police say.


Cunningham said they were pork steaks, police said. Lowe disagreed. After the argument became physical at about 1 a.m., the two had to be separated by someone else in the home.

Cunningham went to another part of the home, grabbed a shotgun and shot Lowe. Lowe died later at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Cunningham, who was correct about the meat, was taken into custody.

Airport workers stole 100,000 booze bottles

Authorities say workers at New York's Kennedy airport stole 100,000 mini liquor bottles and duty-free items such as larger bottles of liquor, perfume and cigarettes.

Man pays $137 ticket with 137 origami pigs

How do you pay a $137 traffic ticket in style?

One man did it with 137 dollar bills folded into origami pigs.
 More

Number of U.S. poor holds steady but gap grows

By Susan Heavey and Lucia Mutikani 
 A homeless man begs for money in the Financial District in San Francisco, California March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
The share of people living in poverty in the United States changed little in 2011 after three years of hefty increases, according to government data released on Wednesday.
Overall, the 2011 poverty rate was 15 percent, representing about 46.2 million Americans, down slightly from 15.1 percent in 2010, data showed.
But median household income declined by 1.5 percent to $50,054 in 2011 from $50,831 in 2010.
A measure of household income inequality, the Gini index, increased 1.6 percent, recording its first annual increase since 1993, the U.S. Census Bureau said.
The bureau's poverty level threshold is about $23,000 for a household of four. The rate of poverty has been rising since just before the year 2000, accelerating with the economic stagnation of the past three years. It was 13.2 percent in 2008 and 14.3 percent in 2009.
The report comes amid a close presidential race in which disparities between the rich, the poor and the middle class have become an overarching theme, along with the overall state of the nation's economy.
Looming across-the-board budget cuts, as part of a larger effort to rein in the federal budget deficit, could shrink safety net programs, such as food stamps and welfare.
While many experts welcomed the report's finding that overall poverty has not worsened, they lamented the fact that the rate is still high.
"Despite the fact that the poverty rate did not change from 2010 to 2011, it is still higher than it has been in all but two years since the mid-1960s," said Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institute, a think tank in Washington. "It's not time to celebrate. We can celebrate when the economy improves and more people can find work."
Despite the reduction in income, programs such as unemployment benefits appeared to cushion the blow and keep more people above the poverty threshold, according to Census Bureau experts.
David Johnson, head of social, economic and housing statistics at the bureau, pointed to a large shift from part-time to full-time employment as well as help from programs such as unemployment benefits.
"It think all those things going together ... is what's keeping this lower," he told reporters.
Additionally, the number of Americans without health insurance declined to 15 percent in 2011 from 16.3 percent in 2010.
Among people aged 18 to 25 - a group that saw expanded access to coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare law - 25.4 percent were uninsured, compared with 27.3 percent in 2010.

Teachers are underpaid in Chicago and US overall

A lot of the contrived outrage around the Chicago Teachers Union strike is around the critics' false belief that the teachers are overpaid and greedy. You've probably heard that CTU teachers are paid an average of $70,000 and the union rejected a 16% pay raise.
Zaid Jilani has reported that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for a Chicago teacher is only $56,720. And about rejecting that big raise, in fact "The district offered a cost-of-living raise of 2 percent a year for four years, which the union said was unacceptable — especially after Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year canceled a previously negotiated 4 percent raise."

Jilani also reports that the teachers are fighting against generally bad conditions, including huge class size, crumbling schools with no libraries, no air conditioning, and limited access to the arts and music for students.

So in the midst of a lot of conservative misinformation about Chicago's overpaid teachers, it's worth noting, as Dean Baker does, that until very recently, we'd been lead to believe that salaries of $250,000 or even up to a million dollars a year were considered working class.
Since the Chicago school teachers went out on strike Monday, many political figures have tried to convince the public that their $70,000 average annual pay [sic] is excessive. This is peculiar, since many of the same people had been arguing that the families earning over $250,000, who would be subject to higher tax rates under President Obama's tax proposal, are actually part of the struggling middle class. They now want to convince us that a household with two Chicago public school teachers, who together earn less than 60 percent of President Obama's cutoff, have more money than they should.
Baker also gets specific, noting that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made over $274,000 at an apparent no show job at Freddie Mac after he left the White House, while noted austerian Erskine Bowles made $335,000 at Morgan Stanley the year his investment bank had to be bailed out to prevent its failure.

While Chicago's teachers are obviously underpaid in comparison to Freddie Mac's Emanuel and Morgan Stanley's Bowles, a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows American teachers are also very underpaid compared to their peers in the developed world.
The average primary-school teacher in the United States earns about 67 percent of the salary of a average college-educated worker in the United States. The comparable figure is 82 percent across the overall O.E.C.D. For teachers in lower secondary school (roughly the years Americans would call middle school), the ratio in the United States is 69 percent, compared to 85 percent across the O.E.C.D. The average upper secondary teacher earns 72 percent of the salary for the average college-educated worker in the United States, compared to 90 percent for the overall O.E.C.D.

American teachers, by the way, spend a lot more time teaching than do their counterparts in most other developed countries
One would think that if we wanted the US to be competitive with other countries in the developed world, we would want to have the best teachers, paid competitively with other countries' teachers.

The experience for Chicago's school children is not a good one, given the poor conditions they are asked to attempt to learn in. The Chicago Teachers Union is on strike to try to get guarantees from the school system to address these concerns and to make sure teachers have pay worthy of the important job of securing the future generations of American leaders.

Compared to the destructive economic actions of highly paid individuals like Rahm Emanuel and Erskine Bowles, it hardly seems controversial for Chicago's teachers to be paid a fair wage, under a fair contract.

For the last time, redheads are not going extinct


Pictured: Your great-grandchildren? 
I hear this "fact" a lot. Reality is, though, we aren't going anywhere. Yes, as Cara Santa Maria points out at Huffington Post, redheads represent only about 1% of the world's population. And this hair color is related to a recessive gene. Both your parents have to have a copy in order for you to be a redhead, so a redheaded person can have non-redheaded babies. But that's not the same thing as going extinct. Because here's our little secret: We redheads are stealthily infiltrating the rest of humanity. Only 1% of humans are redheads, but 4% of humans carry a copy of the gene that makes redheads. You could be a carrier and not even know it. So could your spouse. Two redheads are unlikely to make a brunette, but two brunettes can make a redhead. Good luck wiping us out. *Insert evil laughter here*
You can learn more about this at Cara Santa Maria's Talk Nerdy To Me vidcast, but I'll add a little piece of anecdata, too. My parents are both brunettes. So were their parents. I am largely an anomaly on both sides of my family. In fact, besides my brother and I, the only other redhead in my Mom's entire family (that anyone remembers) was her grandfather. And yet still, we rise.
How Stuff Works also has a great debunking of the redhead extinction myth
Some more info on how redheads are in yer genome, gingerin' yer descendants from the Stanford University Tech Museum

In the News

Angelina Jolie visits refugees in Turkey
Angelina Jolie has arrived in Turkey to visit Syrian refugees in her role as special envoy for the UN refugee agency.
Mexican marines detained a man believed to be the leader of the Gulf drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas, across the border from Texas, the navy announced late Wednesday.

A U.S. citizen jailed for nearly two years on money-laundering and drug charges in Nicaragua will be freed after a court unanimously upheld his appeal, his lawyer said Wednesday.

This picture shows members of the all-girl punk band "Pussy Riot" Nadezhda Tolokonnikova , Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich , sitting behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow.

Fisherman rescued after 26 hours adrift in fish crate

An Alaska fisherman survived for a day floating on frigid ocean waters in a 4ft-by-4ft plastic fish crate after his boat sank and said he kept up his spirits by singing. Ryan Harris, 19, said that he sang songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to keep himself awake through the night as the fishing crate bobbed on the waves.


Harris said that he gave himself a "pep talk," saying for hours on end: "I'm Ryan Hunter Harris and I'm not going to die here." Harris and his fishing partner, boat skipper Stonie Huffman, went into the water late on Friday when their 28-foot vessel sank off Sitka, according to the US Coast Guard.


Huffman found a survival suit in the debris, donned it and was able to swim to shore before flagging down rescuers, the Coast Guard said. But Harris spent an estimated 26 hours in the plastic fish tote before he was found by another fishing crew, the Coast Guard said. The fishing crew called for help, and a Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted Harris to safety on Saturday.



He was in relatively good shape when spotted by the other fishing crew, despite his ordeal at sea, Coast Guard Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst said. "He was active. He was waving his arms," DeVuyst said. "He was conscious." Emergency medical responders who examined Harris reported that he had "just a couple of minor injuries."

New hallucinogenic drug led to man's bizarre death

A new drug causing bizarre and irrational behavior has emerged in South Australia, and has led to the death of a man who killed himself by repeatedly running into trees and power poles. The two drug types - known as 25B-NBOMe and 25I-NBOMe - were responsible for the death of a man in the Mid North in March, who died from injuries sustained after running into fixed objects, trees and power poles as a result of an overdose.

In the past 11 days, there were two non-fatal overdoses - also in the mid-north of the state - in young adults who were related to each other. Drug Investigation Branch Acting Detective Superintendent Derryn Phillips said the relatively new drug was believed to be made in China and bought over the internet. She said its long and short-term health issues, and its presence interstate, were unknown.


The drug is a derivative of potent hallucinogens, 2CB and 2CI, both banned substances in South Australia. They are marketed similar to LSD. "The effects of these drugs causes bizarre and irrational behaviour, paranoia, fear and confusion. Other effects include increased body temperature, sweats and seizures," she said.

"Overdose on these drugs is a reality... and can obviously result in dire consequences." Acting Det Supt Phillips said users of the drug were setting themselves up as guinea pigs and often tended to double dose or redose if the effects of the drug were not felt immediately. She said there was nothing to suggest the drugs were isolated in the Mid North.

The High Price of a Degree in LSD

diploma

In 1965 and '66, author Ken Kesey and his friends, called the Merry Pranksters, held a series of parties called "acid tests." LSD, which was not outlawed in the U.S. until 1968, flowed freely at these parties in San Francisco. A "graduation" for those who "passed the acid test" was scheduled for Halloween, 1966.  
The circumstances leading up to the graduation have been well documented, by Tom Wolfe in his 1968 novel “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and by the first salaried employee of Rolling Stone magazine, Charles Perry, whose 1984 “The Haight-Ashbury: A History” stands as a definitive chronicle of the late-1960s San Francisco scene. Kesey had been working with rock-promoter Bill Graham to host his graduation ceremony at the Winterland Arena. The Grateful Dead would be the headliners, with support from a group of former Stanford University students called the Anonymous Artists of America.


Plans changed, but the graduation ceremony went on. Now one of those rare diplomas is up for sale, and the story behind it is explained at Collector's Weekly.

Europeana

Europe's Digital Library with Over 23 Million Objects from 2,200 Institutions in 33 Countries
This is epic. No, it's more than epic. It's Europeana, Europe's digital library which aggregates over 23 million artworks, books, photographs, recordings and films from over 2,200 contributing museums and cultural heritage museums from 33 countries.
Best of all, many of the items in Europeana's database is public domain CC0 (no copyright), so everyone can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work - even for commercial purposes - all without asking permission.
Jonathan Gray of the Open Knowledge Foundation explains over at The Guardian:
This is a coup d'etat for advocates of open cultural data. The data is being released after a grueling and unenviable internal negotiation process that has lasted over a year - involving countless meetings, workshops, and white papers presenting arguments and evidence for the benefits of openness.
Why does this matter? For one thing it will open the door for better discovery mechanisms for cultural content.
Currently information about digital images of, for example, Max Ernst's etchings, Kafka's manuscripts, Henry Fox Talbot's catotypes, or Etruscan sarcophagi is scattered across numerous institutions, organisations and companies. Getting an accurate overview of where to find (digitised) cultural artefacts by a given artist or on a given topic is often a non-trivial process.
To complicate things even further, many public institutions actively prohibit the redistribution of information in their catalogues (as they sell it to - or are locked into restrictive agreements with - third party companies). This means it is not easy to join the dots to see which items live where across multiple online and offline collections.
Opening up data about these items will enable more collaboration and innovation around the discovery process.
Take a look.

King Richard III's bones found?

Archaeologists searching for the grave of King Richard III say they have found bones that are consistent with the 15th century monarch's physical abnormality and of a man who died in battle.

Pushed to the Limit

risnerIn 1952, Air Force Captain James Robinson Risner and his wingman 1st Lieutenant Joe Logan chased enemy MiGs across Korea into Chinese territory. After the battle, Logan's plane was disabled and leaking oil and fuel. Instead of bailing out to be captured, Risner used his plane to push Logan's plane along!
With jet acedom and hours of practice time fueling his Fighter Pilot Ego, Risner vowed not to let Logan go down. Risner radioed instructions to his wingman: shut down the engine, and jetman jargon for “hang on to your butt”. Risner carefully positioned himself behind Logan, and gave the throttle a gentle nudge. He closed in on the damaged Sabre. The injured plane leaked fuel and hydraulic fluid into Risner’s engine, and smeared his canopy with a gooey patina. He kept on until the nose of his aircraft collided with Logan’s tail. The planes bucked unsteadily. “[the plane] stayed sort of locked there as long as we both maintained stable flight,” Risner explained, “but the turbulence created by Joe’s aircraft made stable flight for me very difficult. There was a point at which I was between the updraft and the downdraft. A change of a few inches ejected me either up or down.”

The unorthodox maneuver kept Logan at 190 knots, and imparted sufficient force to stay beyond the reach of AA guns below. Risner broke off after a few minutes when his own plane threatened to choke on the unwelcome juices in its intake. They glided for a time, but Risner had to push him again to get him out over the sea.
Risner's maneuver landed him on the cover of TIME magazine in 1965. But that's not the end of the story, because that issue caused him even more grief from enemy forces ...in Vietnam. Read the entire story at Damn Interesting.

N.C. State pitcher who struck out Babe Ruth dies

Olney Ray ‘Lefty’ Freeman, 98, struck out Babe Ruth during Fayetteville exhibition in 1935
By Tim Stevens
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Bobby Purcell, N.C. State's senior associate athletics director and executive director of the Wolfpack Club, talks with Lefty Freeman before the Wolfpack's game with Georiga Tech at the RBC Center Wednesday January 23, 2008.

Babe Ruth was nearing the end of his career in 1935 when the Boston Braves played an exhibition baseball game against N.C. State College at Highland Park in Fayetteville.
The game was eventually called when the town of Fayetteville ran out of baseballs, and the Braves continued to travel north after a 6-2 exhibition win in what was to be Babe Ruth’s final season as a player.
The Braves left behind more than 120 souvenir baseballs and the memory that sophomore left-handed pitcher Olney Ray “Lefty” Freeman struck out Babe Ruth.
Freeman, 98, died on Saturday. His funeral was Monday at the Rolesville Baptist Church.
In recent years, Freeman of Rolesville attended N.C. State baseball games, and coach Elliott Avent called upon Freeman to throw out the first pitch to open the season.
In an interview in 1977, Freeman recalled the day he played against the aging Ruth.
“We were all excited, of course, by the chance to play against Babe Ruth,” Freeman said.
“He was slowed down a lot by then. He was overweight, and you could tell he didn’t have many more years in the big leagues ahead of him.
“But he was Babe Ruth. There was only one. And still had the most perfect swing I’ve ever seen. When he got hold of a baseball the way he wanted to, it looked like an aspirin when it went out of the park.”
Striking out Ruth was the highlight of his athletic career, Freeman said. He recounted the story often.
Ruth, in his final game in North Carolina, walked twice, hit into a double play and was struck out by Freeman, who recently had begun experimenting with what he called his “underhand delivery.”
His first pitch in the sixth inning almost struck Ruth in the head, and the aging star dove to avoid being hit.
The next two pitches were wide, and the fans booed Freeman for not throwing a strike. Ruth missed a 3-0 sidearm curveball, fouled off another sidearm curve and swung so hard at the third strike, an overhand curveball, that he fell down.
The game was called soon after when the teams ran out of baseballs.
Fayetteville Mayor Q.K. Nimocks had proclaimed April 5, 1935 as “Babe Ruth Day” in Fayetteville. It was a business holiday, and a crowd estimated at between 7,000 and 10,000 crowded into Highland Park, which had a seating capacity of 3,000.
The Braves were headed north from spring training, and Fayetteville arranged the game to honor Ruth, who made his first professional appearance there in 1914 in an intrasquad game played at Fair Grounds Park.
Maurice Fleishman, who was then a 12-year-old bat boy for the Baltimore Orioles, said in 1977 that the first time he ever heard the nickname Babe was when one of his teammates saw Ruth taking the field and said, “Well, it looks like we’ve got a babe along this time.”
Fleishman remembered Ruth being thrilled to ride up and down the Lafayette Hotel’s freight elevator and paying the operator $5 to operate it. The 20-year-old Ruth was making $600 a year and bought a bicycle with his first paycheck.
Ruth’s return to the city was a huge event. Organizers encouraged spectators at the game to keep any ball they could get a hand on. Fans packed the foul lines and eventually moved into the outfield. One fan stopped the game when she walked on the field and got Ruth, who was playing first base, to autograph her souvenir ball.
The players joined the souvenir hunt. State reserve Mason Bugg went into the stands and got a couple of souvenir balls for himself.
When the initial supply of 48 baseballs (a dozen from State and three dozen from the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce) was down to four, the owner of a local store was summoned from the stands and sent to get more balls.
Later, it was announced that every new baseball in town, 120, was at the park.
“People were crowding in from the outfield and would grab up any ball, fair or foul, that was within reach,” Fleishman recalled. “It was a mess.”
Bugg was pinch hitting in the seventh inning with two men on base when he fouled off the last baseball. Bugg volunteered to give up his two souvenir balls, but umpire Robert Dunn declared the game over.
Anthony J. McKevlin, The News & Observer sports editor at the time, wrote:
“The game ended at the right time. Everyone went away happy – and whole. Had it continued, someone probably would have been seriously hurt by a line smash ... the fans were getting closer and closer.”
Ruth hit six home runs that season, including one estimated to have traveled 600 feet. He was hitting .181 when he took himself out of the lineup in June.
Freeman was born on Jan. 4, 1914 as one of 13 children of LeCausey Peterson Freeman and Lula Elizabeth Harmon Freeman. He was a retired farmer and a World War II veteran.
Freeman’s wife, Anna Eloise Averette Freeman, preceded him in death. He is survived by his three children, Betty Freeman, Nell Sligh, and Sally Long and their families; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

’Cue gasp: Charlotte home to first N.C. barbecue stand?

By Kathleen Purvis

  • This is an advertisement for barbeque which appeared in an April 4, 1899 issue of the Charlotte Daily Observer.


We may need to make room for another historical marker uptown: First barbecue restaurant in North Carolina.
That’s right, Charlotte. Our city is often maligned for its lack of North Carolina barbecue (even by the Observer’s own editorial board). But a Charleston culinary historian thinks Charlotte may have been the site of the state’s first documented barbecue restaurant.
Robert Moss is a writer for the Charleston City Paper and a culinary historian who wrote “Barbecue: The History of an American Institution” (University of Alabama Press, 2010). This summer, Moss has been writing blog posts about barbecue history for the Southern Foodways Alliance.
Last week, as Charlotte twirled in the national political spotlight, Moss posted a claim about Charlotte: An ad in the April 1899 edition of The Charlotte Daily Observer showed Mrs. Katie Nunn opening a grocery store and barbecue stand at 13 S. Church St., with meat cooked by her husband, Levi, in a pit behind the store:
“Call at the barbecue stand for good barbecued meats, beef, pork and mutton. Well-prepared by the only barbecuer in Charlotte.”
Moss says he found the ad while searching online archives for a genealogy website.
“It may be pushing it a little to call it a restaurant,” Moss said Wednesday. “But it’s certainly the first barbecue stand I can find. There’s so little evidence from back in those days.”
Before the 20th century, barbecue was usually a large, public event. On farms or in rural areas, people gathered for everything from family reunions to political speeches and cooked meat, usually done in a pit in the ground. It wasn’t until the 1920s or so that commercial barbecue businesses cropped up.
Most North Carolina barbecue histories credit the start of the modern barbecue business when Sid Weaver and Jess Swicegood began selling barbecue from tents outside the courthouse in Lexington. The Nunns’ business would have predated that by 20 years.
The address on South Church Street no longer exists, but would have been on the east side of Church just north of Fourth Street. Another news item noted that it was behind The Charlotte Daily Observer, at 32 S. Tryon St.
Apparently, the Nunns’ business wasn’t a big success. By December, another ad showed that 13 S. Church had become the location of Fasnacht’s Candy Manufacturing.
Records show that the couple moved on from Charlotte. The 1910 Census shows Levi and Catherine B. Nunn in Norfolk, Va., where he was a housing contractor. Levi L. and Katie B. Nunn are listed as buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Norfolk.
Moss conceded that barbecue fans will be quick to argue about whether the Nunns’ store could be considered a barbecue restaurant.
“There’s something about barbecue that you can’t help stirring up trouble,” he said, laughing.

Fruit Salad Trees

fruitMost big fruit tree orchards use grafted trees to combine a sturdier trunk and root plant with delicate branches that produce tasty and consistent fruit. A long-dead fruit tree can keep bearing fruit from branches attached to a different trunk. And it is possible to graft several different kinds of fruit branches onto the same tree!
Grafting unites the tissues of two or more plants so that they grow and function as a single plant. One plant in the graft is called the rootstock, selected for its healthy or hardy root system. The other plant or plants, chosen for their fruit, flowers or leaves, are known as scions. You can join a scion to a rootstock in many different ways. In one of the most common techniques, you remove a branch from a plant whose fruit you want to reproduce and cut the broken end of the branch into a V-shape not unlike the reed for a woodwind. Shaving the scion in this way exposes its vascular cambium—a ring of plant tissue full of dividing cells that increase the branch’s girth. Once the scion is ready, you slice lengthwise into a branch on the rootstock—exposing its vascular cambium—and wedge the scion into the cleft. Successful grafting requires placing the vascular cambia of both the rootstock and scion in close contact. Another grafting method involves cutting small pockets between the rootstock’s bark and cambium and slipping scions into those pouches. To seal the deal, you bind the scion and rootstock with a rubber band, tape, staples, string or wax.
Ferris Jabr at Scientific American goes on to explain what happens inside the branch as grafting takes hold. But you don't have to do it yourself. He also has links to several nurseries that sell fruit salad trees for your backyard. More

Awesome Pictures

diterra:

(by olivialynette)

Nottingham's wondrous caves


Geoff from BLDGBLOG sez,
I thought I'd send a link to a new and very long post I just put up, describing a visit last month to Nottingham, England, where we explored nearly a dozen artificial cave systems, carved directly from the sandstone, with archaeologist David Strange-Walker.
Nottingham, as few people seem to know, is a bit like a sandstone Cappadocia, in the sense that there are at least 450 caves--and quite possibly more than a thousand--that have been cut into the earth, serving as everything from malting kilns to private basements, from jails to "gentlemen's lounges" for underground sessions of cigar-smoking.
We spent literally all day down there, moving from one cave system to another, from pubs to graveyards, and we saw barely a fraction of what's actually under the city. The post includes some animations, tons of photos, and some laser scans produced by David's organization, the Nottingham Caves Survey. At the very least, their work is well worth checking out, as many of the scans (and the resulting videos) are incredible.
Caves of Nottingham

The Ten Oldest Trees In The World

Imagine having been alive for centuries, since before the time the ancient Babylonians started to measure time as we understand it today. Not only having been alive then, but carrying on through the developments of the Greek and Roman empires, the births of religions like Christianity and Islam, and right up to the present day, still bearing witness.

The Wild Twisted Kotuikan River of Russia


The Kotuikan river is located in the Krasnoyarsk region of Russia. It is 237 km (147 miles) long. Its catchment area is almost four thousand square kilometers (2,5 thousand of miles). In summer the river becomes more shallow and its body starts looking different. The twisted artery cuts the Anabar plateau into intricate patterns, reveals ancient rock formations and attracts numerous tourists who should put their tents high over the water and fix their rafts well. More

Animals On Trial

trialsIn medieval Europe, it was common for animals to be put on trial and sentenced to punishment as if they understood the proceedings. Livestock and wild animals would be tried for assault or murder of a human, insects and rats were prosecuted for destroying crops, and livestock could be put to death for bestiality along with the human perpetrator (although a beast could prove innocence with witnesses to its virtue). There were unspoken reasons behind these shenanigans, in the days when the separation of church and state was nonexistent. The church could lay blame for bad events on people or animals, and take credit for doling out justice.
Animal trials certainly solidified the church’s power, but they also made sense of an unknowable world by turning freak accidents into understandable events, with guilty parties and paths to justice. Our grain stores are gone because God is punishing us, or, alternatively, because Satan is toying with us; we must atone and pray. The pig killed my child because it is a common criminal; it must be punished. In this sense, animal trials were not unlike that other great, barbaric version of rudimentary legal justice: the witch hunt, which also reckoned with inexplicable phenomena by targeting scapegoats. Indeed, Evans writes, during witch hunts animals were often punished alongside all those single women and healers, in keeping with the belief that Satan commonly possessed creatures like goats, ravens and porcupines.
Drew Nelles writes about a variety of such animal trials at  MaisonNeuvue magazine.

New monkey isn't so much "new" as "newly documented in a scientific journal"

When somebody says that a new species has been discovered, it's easy to get the impression that this is an animal nobody has ever seen before. But that's usually not exactly what scientists mean.
Take the lesula (or Cercopithecus lomamiensis), an African monkey whose "discovery" is making headlines this week. While it does seem to be true that this particular species hasn't been previously named and documented in the scientific literature, the scientists who wrote about the lesula were not the first people to encounter one. What's more, lesula do not represent a species totally removed from animals we already knew about. Here's Mongabay's Jeremy Hance:
"There are monkeys out there between the three rivers that no one recognizes. They are not in our field guides," Terese Hart wrote tantalizingly in a blog post in 2008. "We've sent photos to the most renown of African Primatologists. Result: a lot of raised eyebrows. And the more we find out the higher our eyebrows go."
One of these monkeys was the lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis). John Hart first came across the new species in June 2007 when he and a field team were shown a captive baby lesula, kept as a pet by the local school director's daughter in the remote village of Opala. The next step was locating the species in the wild.
...the lesula is apart of the Cercopithecini family, which are commonly referred to as guenons. It's most similar to the owl-faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni), which is also found in the region. But the lesula sports a lighter coat and has unique calls. Genetic testing, furthermore, proves the species are distinct from each other and have likely been separated for a few million years, probably by impassable rivers.
I don't mean to downplay this find. It's pretty awesome for the Harts to be the first scientists to write about this species in a peer reviewed research paper. But I think there's a bit of a common mis-understanding between what scientists mean when they say they've discovered a new animal, and what the public often thinks they mean.
Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of what's going on.

"Handedness" in Fish

Look closely at the two scale-eating cichlid fish Perissodus microlepis above. See how their mouths are slightly asymmetric? For example, the mouth of the fish on the left curves slightly to the right. That, translates to handed foraging behavior:
... an asymmetric ‘left’ mouth morph preferentially feeds on the scales of the right side of its victim fish and a ‘right’ morph bites the scales of the left side. This species has therefore become a textbook example of the astonishing degree of ecological specialization and negative frequency-dependent selection. We investigated the strength of handedness of foraging behavior as well as its interaction with morphological mouth laterality in P. microlepis. In wild-caught adult fish we found that mouth laterality is, as expected, a strong predictor of their preferred attack orientation.
So, despite having no hands, fish can be left- or right-"handed" (or perhaps, left- and right-finned!) Now you know.
Here's the paper  at PLoS ONE by Lee HJ et al.

Animal Pictures