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Monday, April 8, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Ain't that the truth ...

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Today in History

1789   The U.S. House of Representatives holds its first meeting.
1832   Some 300 American troops of the 6th Infantry leave Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, to confront the Sauk Indians in what would become known as the Black Hawk War.
1864   In the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, Federals are routed by Confederate Gen. Richard Taylor.
1865   General Robert E. Lee's retreat is cut off near Appomattox Court House.
1898   British General Horatio Kitchner defeats the Khalifa, leader of the dervishes in Sudan, at the Battle of Atbara.
1913   The 17th Amendment is ratified, requiring direct election of senators.
1935   The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is approved by Congress.
1939   Italy invades Albania.
1942   The Soviets open a rail link to the besieged city of Leningrad.
1952   President Truman orders the seizure of U.S. steel mills to prevent a strike.
1962   Bay of Pigs invaders get thirty years imprisonment in Cuba.
1974   Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth's record.
1975   Frank Robinson of the Cleveland Indians becomes first black manager of a major league baseball team.

Non Sequitur

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Florida celebrates 500th anniversary but history blurred by myth

Volunteers re-enact a colonial era canon firing in St Augustine, Florida January 20, 2013, a regular tourist attraction at the 17th century Spanish-built fort San Marcos. REUTERS/Michael Adams 
 By Amy Wimmer Schwarb 

Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon was only 4-foot, 11-inches tall, a trolley tour operator told his passengers as they rolled down a picturesque street in St. Augustine lined with moss-draped live oak trees.
But the Timucuan Indians he encountered when he set foot in Florida towered over him, standing 7 feet tall, the tour guide said.
Turning into the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, he noted: No wonder the explorer thought these tall, robust natives were drinking enchanted water.
This week Florida celebrated the 500th anniversary of the day when Ponce de Leon stepped onto the shores of what he thought was a large island and called the land "La Florida."
But the modern-day state of Florida built on the lure of sunshine and myth of eternal youth is still grappling with how to tell its first city's story — a rich history of centuries-old multiculturalism, yet distorted by useful falsehoods aimed at entertaining tourists who are important to its economy.
Take that trolley tour, for instance. Ponce de Leon wasn't especially short, the natives weren't especially tall, and the water at St. Augustine's Fountain of Youth didn't offer eternal youth. In fact, not only did Ponce de Leon never discover a Fountain of Youth, he wasn't even looking for one, historians said.
"Ponce de Leon has been said to be anywhere from 2 1/2 feet tall to 6 1/2 feet tall. The Timucuan Indians were 7 or 8 feet tall, like they were out of a space-age film or something," said J. Michael Francis, a history professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg who specializes in Spanish colonial Florida history.
Even that first moment, when Ponce de Leon stepped onto American soil, is mired in uncertainty, thanks to a missing voyage log that hasn't been seen in centuries. But where the historical record is unclear, promoters of the state over the last century have stepped in to fill in the gaps.
WHERE DID PONCE LAND?
The state's official Viva Florida calendar recognized a landing re-enactment in downtown St. Augustine and ceremonies for unveiling two statues: one in Ponte Vedra, just north of St. Augustine, and a second 185 miles farther south in Melbourne Beach. Both communities claim to be the explorer's landing site.
Certainly both statues can't be in the correct spot, but to the chagrin of historical purists, they also rely on historically inaccurate representations of the explorer himself.
"Wrong helmet, wrong pants, wrong sword," Chad Light, who portrays the explorer as a professional re-enactor, said of the new statues. "They cry history, history, history. But they just don't care."
The cautious line between entertaining and educating visitors is most apparent in St. Augustine, the former capital of Spanish Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in what would become the United States. The small city of 13,000 brings in more than $650 million per year in tourism dollars.
When British settlers were founding Jamestown, Virginia, at the launch of the 17th century, St. Augustine was a 50-year-old cultural hub.
Its 500 residents included Portuguese, French, Germans, Flemish, Native Americans and Africans, both free and enslaved. There were even two influential Irishmen, one a parish priest, the other a high-ranking merchant.
History teachers looking for more examples of strong women in early America can look to early St. Augustine, where a chieftainess, Dona Maria Melendez, ruled the Timucuan tribes along the Atlantic Coast in parts of Georgia and Florida.
St. Augustine became a destination for historically minded tourists beginning in the late 19th century, when railroad magnate Henry Flagler built a magnificent hotel that attracted wealthy tourists from the U.S. Northeast. He called it the Ponce de Leon.
A mile north of the hotel, an enterprising businesswoman began calling her property the Fountain of Youth and charged visitors to drink from the natural spring on the lush site.
"I think the real history is far more fascinating, far more engaging, far more interesting than some of the narratives you hear," Francis said.
Kathleen Deagan, a University of Florida archaeologist who has led annual excavations in St. Augustine for 30 years, said the city's history has been blurred for decades. In documents from the 1930s, historians railed against St. Augustine carriage drivers' distortions of the truth.
SETTING HISTORY STRAIGHT
One new attraction in St. Augustine, the Colonial Quarter, attempts to set straight that historical record. Deagan was among the University of Florida experts who helped vet information presented at the new downtown attraction, which offers visitors a look at four centuries' worth of history in one downtown venue.
Take the Fountain of Youth property, for instance. Though it was set aside a century ago as an imagined piece of the Ponce de Leon story, researchers in the last half-century have learned that the area was a Timucuan Indian village before the Spanish arrived and is likely the spot where Spanish sailor Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded St. Augustine in 1565.
"In a sense, it's a great paradox," Francis said. "By creating this site as a Fountain of Youth Park, they've basically preserved one of the most important archaeological sites in the state."

Did you know ...

That the former Florida repugican cabal chairman gets 18 months for grand theft

That there's Wisconsin - proof ALEC policies don't work

That the Koch brothers are even worse than you thought

That there's finally a way to only date people who agree with you on politics

The repugican cabal Hijacked the Budget Over Chained CPI in December, Now It’s Not Enough

In December of 2012, Speaker John Boehner said he had to have chained CPI. Oh, a little chained CPI would be compromise and if he got it, he’d give the President $1 trillion in revenue, “President Barack Obama is considering a possible budget concession on Social Security cost-of-living increases after House Speaker John Boehner dropped his opposition to raising tax rates for some top earners, said two people familiar with the talks…. A repugican congressional aide said Boehner is pressing harder for the CPI revision than for other entitlement changes, such as an increase in the Medicare eligibility age.”
Give us the chained CPI and we’ll give you 1 trillion in revenue, repugicans offered in December. Cut to April of 2013: Obama offers them chained CPI, and guess what?
Chained CPI is not enough of a compromise! It’s not even a real start. It’s just “rhetoric”. Boehner’s full statement:
“The president and I were not able to reach an agreement late last year because his offers never lived up to his rhetoric. Despite talk about so-called balance, the president’s last offer was significantly skewed in favor of higher taxes and included only modest entitlement savings. He said he could go no further toward the middle, and that’s why his last offer was rejected. In the end, the president got his tax hikes on the wealthy with no corresponding spending cuts. At some point we need to solve our spending problem, and what the president has offered would leave us with a budget that never balances. In reality, he’s moved in the wrong direction, routinely taking off the table entitlement reforms he’s previously told me he could support.
“When the president visited the Capitol last month, House repugicans stated a desire to find common ground and urged him not to make savings we agree upon conditional on another round of tax increases. If reports are accurate, the president has not heeded that call. If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That’s no way to lead and move the country forward.”
According to Speaker Boehner’s logic, by giving repugicans exactly what they asked for, Obama has proven that he is unwilling to compromise. Yes, because when the other side offers you exactly what you said you wanted and you don’t take it, but instead raise the bar, and don’t offer your own concessions, they are at fault because their offers don’t live up to their “rhetoric”. Speaking of rhetoric, it’s tough to imagine how Boehner can be so confident regarding his assessment of Obam’as budget offer when he never read Obama’s budget?
In case you’re not convinced that Republicans knew what they wanted as they held the country hostage last year, in December, chained CPI was the sticking point, “A Democratic aide said the problem was that McConnell’s proposal includes basing Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments on something called a chained CPI, a measure of inflation that grows more slowly than the way Social Security measures inflation now.”
Mitch McConnell even told the Wall Street Journal that chained CPI and means testing for Medicare “are the kinds of things that would get repugicans interested in new revenue.”
In fact, chained CPI was the hold up last December. It was the surprise attack, the last reason repugicans gave us for why they would not agree with the other side:
The repugicans have added changes to Social Security spending to their list of fiscal cliff demands, in a last-minute surprise that Democrats are characterizing as a major setback in negotiations.
According to new reports, repugican Senate negotiators are now demanding that any fiscal cliff deal include a switch to the chained CPI in calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases.
Grace Wyler, continuing on Business Insider pointed out, “National Review editor Robert Costa suggests that repugican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s new insistence on the chained CPI might be a political tactic aimed at helping House Speaker John Boehner save face by boosting support for a deal among repugican House members.”
Again, we return to the real problem. Boehner’s House of tea. The repugicans keep finding a new excuse for why they can’t compromise, when the truth of the matter is that they don’t have the votes for anything other than something as immoral, extreme and ineffective as Paul Ryan’s “budget”.
President Obama gave repugicans exactly what they said they wanted. Progressives are furious with him over it. Once again we reach an impasse when we get to the part where repugicans are supposed to give something.
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Sequester Tantrums Reveal Yet Again That repugicans Are Developmentally Stunted

The sequester has finally done some real damage and some real people are feeling the pain. With the cuts came the decision by the Obama Administration to close 149 air traffic control towers at small-sized airports and it is starting to affect rich people who like to tool around the country in their private jets. Oh the humanity! Don’t these closings mean there will be potential safety hazards? Certainly. On the other hand, all pilots are trained to communicate with one another to ensure safe take-offs and landings. Having an air traffic controller is just a safety net. In case these wealthy travelers hadn’t heard, safety nets are being eliminated for millions of people across the country. First responders, our police and fire fighters, are being laid off as a result of the sequester cuts. Cancer patients are being turned away from chemotherapy since the cuts, which substantially reduced Medicare reimbursement rates. Domestic violence services are being slashed, risking the lives of those in abusive relationships. Public health spending has been cut so that vaccines are not being given. The children, elderly, and others who become sick, and perhaps even die, from the diseases that those vaccines were supposed to prevent have no expectation of safety right now. Schools are even beginning to close for the Fall.
However, since air traffic controllers have taken away from 149 airports (and a substantial number more will have hours cut), the people affected have been more likely to be wealthy, so whiny Republican legislators representing people with deep pockets have been scurrying around trying to find ways to reinstate the funding for their pet concern, airports. Just as the empty heads at Faux News were beside themselves that the sequester was going to curtail White House tours, but couldn’t manage to give a damn that food is being taken away from infants and children as the WIC program is cut, these sniveling wingnuts have no qualms about harming poor people as long as their airport control tower stays open. The repugican Jerry Moran of Kansas even tried to get an amendment passed that restored $50 million to the budget for allocation to private plane travel. Loathsome Congresswoman Michele Bachmann looked approvingly at the cuts to food safety, public health, education for disabled children, aid to the poor, first responders, and then said that air traffic control towers closing in her district showed, “a troubling lack of priorities,” by the FAA and the Obama Administration.
While there is advice available on how to deal with childish adults, it is disturbing that our government has been usurped by wingnuts who are obviously delayed psychologically, as if stunted anywhere from their toddler through teen years. Childish adults display a number of behaviors that they should have outgrown, including throwing tantrums, an inability to share resources, whining, creating competitive rivalries, and forming cliques. We see all of these on display among today’s wingnuts, and illustrated perfectly in this story about the air traffic control towers. The entire morass was started by their inability to share resources resulting in the damaging implementation of the sequester. The whole ridiculous showdown occurred because repugicans couldn’t help themselves and they just had to nurse a juvenile competitive rivalry with the President. And of course, the only clique you can belong to that repugicans will politically represent are the wealthy elite.
Egocentrism is most often associated with early childhood, and it is characterized by an inability to appreciate the viewpoint of others. Those who haven’t moved beyond the childhood developmental period of intense egocentrism have difficulty with sharing, relating to the needs of others, or understanding that there could be a reality other than the one they recognize. Having legislators who can only understand the pain of cuts to government services when it directly affects them is pathetic. These are grown adults who should be capable of empathy, selflessness, and altruism. Nonetheless, the only time our current crop of repugican politicians can even mimic these qualities is when they are protecting the interests of the wealthy.
On Friday, Bill Maher pointed out that libertarianism has become a popular movement “intellectually stuck in its teen years.” Libertarianism in its present prevalent form is a selfish, egocentric political philosophy. The current formulation of libertarianism has infected the repugican cabal, particularly through its tea party wing. These individuals are virulently anti-government unless receiving a benefit or service themselves.
Paired with their emotional immaturity, their delayed intellectual development makes repugican leaders like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul tout the sequester regardless of the harm it causes to millions of Americans. To see repugicans, including the alleged deficit hawks of the tea party, reverse their economic dogma the moment their elite constituency is inconvenienced should be embarrassing to everyone in their party. Instead, it’s just another day at the office.

The repuicans Celebrate as Americans Face Losing Their Jobs

One of the benefits of 21st century technological advances is the quick availability of government reports that relay information to the population without commentary or criticism from a biased source such as a news organization or media pundit. Over the past four years, repugicans have not rejoiced much at reports the President’s economic policies have helped create millions of jobs in spite of their attempts to cripple the tepid recovery, and in spite of their news outlets and conservative belief tanks persistent rants that this President was toxic to the economy; government jobs reports have shown consistent growth. Yesterday there was another report that the economy added jobs, but it is likely that instead of despair, repugicans celebrated wildly that their austerity cuts have begun paying dividends and slowed job growth.
The good news is that the economy added 88,000 jobs in March and the jobless rate fell to 7.6%, but there are conditions that make the report less than encouraging. First, the new job numbers was the lowest increase in nine months signaling the job market recovery is slowing, and although the jobless rate did fall, it is likely because more Americans have given up hope and stopped even looking for work. The labor force contracted by about a half million people because if a person is not looking for a job, they are not counted as unemployed. The percentage of working-age Americans either with a job or looking for one dropped to 63.3 percent that is at its lowest level since 1979 and it means the pace of job growth in 2013 is slower than it was last year.
One can hardly blame some Americans for dropping out of the labor market because if there are jobs available, they are increasingly part-time minimum wage jobs that do not afford adequate food and shelter compared with unemployment benefits for those who qualify. In every state in the Union, a full-time job at minimum wage will not pay rent for the most austere apartment, and even if both parents are fortunate enough to hold down two part-time jobs, they still earn well below the federal poverty limit and struggle to feed their families.
The repugicans can take all the credit for the slowdown in jobs that are a direct result of their austerity frenzy that slowed GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2012, and that was well before the repugican sequester took effect on March first.  Part of the slowdown in hiring is that companies are not hiring because Americans are tightening their belts and not buying, and as sales drop, companies stop hiring or worse, start laying off workers. The sad news is, it is going get much worse and the repugican cabal must be wetting themselves at the prospects of rising unemployment and hungry and homeless Americans as they resist any of the President’s attempts to create jobs and grow the economy.
Economic experts warned consistently that austerity during a recovery retard growth and kill jobs, and after repugicans imposed Draconian spending cuts and repugican-controlled states shuttered schools, fired teachers by the hundreds of thousands, and eviscerated the public workforce, the downstream jobs are drying up rapidly. The sequester alone was promised to kill between 700,000 and a million jobs in its first of a ten year run, and doubtless March’s employment figures reflected the start of those job losses. Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, saidWhile the recovery was gaining traction before sequestration took effect, these arbitrary and unnecessary cuts to government services will be a headwind in the months to come, and will cut key investments in the nation’s future competitiveness.”
Federal Reserve officials warned that it is not just the slower pace of job growth that is disconcerting, but the quality of hiring is troubling according to Sarah Bloom Raskin. She said, “It’s important to look at the types of jobs that are being created because those jobs will directly affect the fortunes and challenges of households and neighborhoods as well as the course of the recovery,” and noted lower-wage jobs accounted for a large share of job growth that in turn slow consumer spending drastically. The largest share of jobs added in March were low-wage temporary and part-time work that might be good for large employers, but it means less job security and income for workers.  In fact, 7.6 million Americans who want full-time jobs are only finding part-time jobs that, for many Americans, are not worth taking and not because job seekers are lazy.  For example, a single mother who lost her full-time paralegal jobs after five years said, “When I’ve had offers for positions they’re part time or temporary, but the child care I’d need to pay to take the jobs is more costly than what I’d be getting paid for the job itself,” and it is a narrative heard more often than not.
The executive director of the National Employment Law Project said that midlife and older workers who lost their jobs to cutbacks are having to “dip into retirement savings in order to stay afloat, and that 10 years down the road, a lot of retirees who didn’t expect to live in poverty are going to be in poverty” and it does not appear there is any stopping the elderly’s march into poverty. Through it all, repugicans in states and Congress are actively cutting retirement and pension benefits on top of killing public sector jobs that drives the slowdown in hiring as more and more Americans are forced to cut spending in order to survive. Businesses large and small have cited lack of consumer spending as the prime reason for hiring slowdowns, and yet debt and deficit reduction and the resulting austerity are still foremost on the repugican agenda with no end in sight.
The repugicans’ spending cut frenzy gave Americans a firsthand look at the deleterious effects of austerity at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, and the sequester’s one month anniversary promptly revealed a slowdown in hiring that is only going to get worse. President Obama’s budget attempts to create jobs through infrastructure spending as well as replacing the arbitrary government cuts in the sequester, but John Boehner dismissed it immediately for not cutting Social Security enough and because it includes revenue to put Americans to work repairing a broken infrastructure. It is important for all Americans to remember that repugicans know, and were warned, their austerity and sequester would kill jobs and slow growth, and yet they proceeded anyway and celebrated accomplishing another job-killing policy.
Americans had just started feeling the economy was on a path of recovery and growth, but their good outlook failed to take into account the true leaders of this nation were hell-bent on staunching recovery and killing jobs. The slowdown in growth during the fourth quarter of 2012 should have been a warning sign to repugicans that their slash and burn austerity was dangerous to economic growth, but instead, they celebrated their sequester victory and promptly rejected the President’s budget because it replaces the sequester and creates jobs. They most likely celebrated again at the news hiring is slowing and more Americans are headed for poverty, and although they were discouraged there were any jobs created in March, they can rest assured that as the sequester enters its second month of a ten year run, they will have plenty to celebrate as more Americans lose their jobs, people drop out of the workforce, and the economy contracts; their goal for the past four years.

New Kansas anti-abortion law orders doctors to lie to their patients

By David Ferguson

Doctor and pregnant woman via Shutterstock
Legislators in Kansas’ repugican-led state House and Senate passed a draconian anti-abortion bill Friday night, including provisions that order physicians to tell their pregnant patients that breast cancer is a risk of abortion, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.

According to the Associated Press, the bill now heads to the desk of repugican Governor Sam Brownback, who is expected to sign it into law. The new restrictions are expected to be in place by July 1.
Included in the language of the bill is the concept of “fetal personhood,” which states that life begins at fertilization, making all forms of abortion and some forms of birth control illegal. The measure puts restrictions on what children are allowed to learn in school about sex and contraception and dictates what information doctors must provide to patients.
The repugicans argue that they are not gearing up to put abortion providers out of business, but rather celebrating god’s creation.
“The human is a magnificent piece of work at all stages of development, wondrous in every regard, from the microscopic until full development,” said Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (r), who supported the bill.
State Democrats have objected, calling the bill “Taliban-esque” and insisting that repugicans are playing politics with public health.
“It’s the very definition of government intrusion in a woman’s personal medical decisions,” said Democratic Rep. John Wilson.
The repugican state Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook said the new law is “a clear statement from Kansas with respect to the judgment on the inherent value of human life.”
The bill also takes away tax breaks normally provided to health care providers from any and all medical facilities that offer abortion services, raising their costs for all patients, not just those seeking to terminate a pregnancy. This type of punitive taxation is a tactic commonly used by anti-choice lawmakers who are trying to shut down women’s clinics.
Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy counsel for the New York City-based Center for Reproductive Rights, called the measures “appalling and discriminatory.”
“It’s probably, if not definitely unconstitutional,” said Goldberg, “and it’s incredibly mean-spirited.”

French spies demand removal of a Wikipedia entry, threaten random Wikipedia admin in France when they don't get their way

The French spy agency Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur inexplicably flipped out about a longstanding Wikipedia entry on a military base (station hertzienne militaire de Pierre sur Haute) filled with public domain, widely known information. They tried to get the Wikimedia Foundation to delete it, but wouldn't explain what, exactly, they objected to in the entry. When the Wikimedia Foundation rebuffed them, they picked out a random volunteer Wikipedia admin living in France -- a person who had never had anything to do with the post in question -- and threatened him with jail unless he used his admin privileges to delete the post.
The Foundation is trying to support the their volunteer as best as they can. Meantime, the post about station hertzienne militaire de Pierre sur Haute's pageviews have shot from a couple per day to 9000+.
The Foundation takes allegations of national security threats seriously and investigated the matter accordingly. However, it was not readily apparent what specific information the DCRI could consider classified or otherwise high-risk. Without further information, we could not understand why the DCRI believes information in the article is classified. Almost all of the information in the article is cited to publicly-available sources. In fact, the article’s contents are largely consistent with a publicly available video in which Major Jeansac, the chief of the military station in question, gives a detailed interview and tour of the station to a reporter. This video is now cited in the article. Furthermore, the page was originally created on July 24, 2009 and has been continually available and edited since. We do not know why the DCRI believes that the article has suddenly become an urgent threat now.
We requested more information from the DCRI, such as which specific sentences or sections they believed to contain classified information. Unfortunately, the DCRI refused to provide any more specific detail and reaffirmed their demand that the entire article be deleted. Therefore, the Foundation was forced to refuse their request pending receipt of more information that we could use to fully evaluate their claim.
On 30 March 2013, we discovered that the DCRI, evidently dissatisfied with the Foundation’s response, contacted a volunteer with administrative rights (a “sysop”) who resides in France. This sysop is not responsible for the hosting of the content on Wikipedia, had no role in the creation of the article, and is not part of the Wikimedia Foundation. As we understand it, the sysop attempted to explain his limited role as a volunteer and directed them back to the Foundation’s legal department.

The truth be told

Sunday, April 7

Study Links Suicide Risk with Rates of Gun Ownership, Political Wingnuttery


Residents of states with the highest rates of gun ownership and political winguttery are at greater risk of suicide than those in states with less gun ownership and politically liberal leanings, according to a [...]

The truth hurts

Thursday, April 4

Lethal weapons from duty-free stores


Here's a writeup of Evan Booth's Hack the Box conference presentation on making lethal weapons out of items bought in airport duty-free shops. It's pretty ingenious stuff (the video above is from a related presentation at CarolinaCon 2013).
The problem here is that legitimate purpose of airport security is not protecting passengers and flight attendants from harm. In reality, there's no way to accomplish that goal against a determined attacker. The real and legitimate purpose of airport security is to protect airplanes and cockpits from harm -- to stop people from hijacking and/or crashing airplanes (this is why the TSA correctly relaxed its rules about carrying small knives onto planes -- and why so many of their other rules are pointless and stupid). So long as none of these lethal weapons can crash an airplane or beat an armored, bolted cockpit door, they embody no new incremental threat to aviation -- on the other hand, the improvised battery-bombs are a real threat.
Besides a bomb knew Booth also easy to make a bow and arrow of stuff he had bought in a shop in an airport. For this he used an umbrella, hair dryer, socks, a leather belt and condoms. Too obvious things like a lighter and deodorant as alternative gas burner he did not elaborate.
Booth also made a crossbow of an umbrella, floss, grab a toy, a rolkoffertje, a straw and tape. With a straw, cotton and a piece of metal from a remote controlled helicopter he was able to make a blow gun for firing arrows.
Remarkable is also a club that he made a gift, what magazines, floss, a leather strap and tape. In a test showed that so firmly, that he with a single blow a coconut in several parts stores.
Onderzoeker maakt bom van artikelen luchthavenwinkels [Dutch, Nu.nl]
Researcher makes bomb Articles airport shops [Google Translate]

To be honest about it ...

Thursday, April 4

Health News

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have made a discovery in neuroscience that could offer a long-lasting solution to eating disorders such as obesity. It was previously thought that the nerve cells in [...]
UCLA researchers have used a brain-imaging tool and stroke risk assessment to identify signs of cognitive decline early on in individuals who don’t yet show symptoms of dementia. The connection between stroke risk and cognitive [...]
Cutting down on salt and, at the same time, increasing levels of potassium in our diet will have major health and cost benefits across the world, according to studies published on bmj.com today. Such a [...]

A new study shows that people make better food choices when they know how many miles they'd have to walk to burn the calories.

The Top 10 myths about hypertension busted

by Dr Anitha Anchan Hypertension myths 
April 7 wass World Health Day. And this year, the theme is ‘Control your hypertension’.

In this post, we bring you some myths that surround the disease and are often the cause for many untimely deaths.
Myth 1: High blood pressure is an old age disease.
Hypertension is not just an old age problem anymore. More and more young people are suffering from high blood pressure related ailments. With age blood vessels tend to weaken and hence the chances of getting high blood pressure increase as you grow older. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), high blood pressure affects every third person above the age of 18.  The proportion increases with age, from 1 in 10 people in their 20s and 30s to 5 in 10 people in their 50s.
Myth 2: Women are less likely to get hypertension than men.
Both sexes are at risk of developing hypertension affects. In India, 23.10 per cent men and 22.60 per cent women above 25 years suffer from hypertension. However, the condition is more common in men under 45 years old and in women after menopause.
Myth 3: If I had high blood pressure I would get headaches.
Hypertension is a ‘silent killer’ which has no real indicators and can strike at any moment. There are no symptoms most of the time. High blood pressure in most cases is established during a visit to the doctor. Hence, you may develop heart and kidney problems without knowing you have high blood pressure.
Myth 4: A single high blood pressure reading means I have hypertension
Normally, your blood pressure varies throughout the day. It lowers as you sleep and rises when you wake up. Blood pressure also rises when you’re nervous, excited or active. Hence, a single reading of high blood pressure is not the basis for diagnosing hypertension. In order to diagnose you with high blood pressure you should have persistently high readings over time. Likewise, one normal reading doesn’t mean you don’t have high blood pressure.
Myth 5: Hypertension can’t be prevented if I’m in high risk category
Even if hypertension runs in your family you can take certain preventive measures to keep high blood pressure at arm’s length. Make dietary and lifestyle changes – a healthy diet, decreased salt intake, regular exercise, quit smoking, reduce stress, etc. If you are obese or overweight, aim to lose those extra kilos.
Myth 6: It is okay if only one of the blood pressure parameters is high
Our heart can tolerate occasional increases in systolic blood pressure compared to diastolic pressure. Consistently high diastolic pressure can lead to health problems. However, high systolic pressure is of concern in people above the age of 50. Hence it is advisable to take action if either of your blood pressure readings is consistently high.
Myth 7: My salt intake is under control because I don’t use much salt in my cooking.
Controlling salt intake means more than not using salt in your cooking. You have to consider the hidden salt present in pickles and papads, processed foods and bakery eatables too. Processed foods often contain high concentrations of sodium; typical examples are foods whose labels list sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Sweet baked foods may not exhibit a salty taste. But they contain baking powder or baking soda which is a salt of sodium.
Myth 8: High blood pressure isn’t a cause for much concern
Since there are no symptoms most of the time, you may not consider high blood pressure to be a big deal. The bad news is that long standing hypertension can cause problems with your vision (hypertensive retinopathy) and decrease blood supply to your legs. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, bleeding from large blood vessel (aortic aneurysm), chronic kidney disease (hypertensive nephropathy), etc. What more – they can cause erectile dysfunction and affect your sex life.
Myth 9: High blood pressure can be ‘cured’ with medication.
Hypertension can be managed but not cured. It can be a lifelong disease. You will need to make dietary and lifestyle changes, and may need medication every day for the rest of your life.
Myth 10: If my blood pressure readings were fine the last time, I can skip the medication.
You are not equipped or knowledgeable enough to take decisions about your medications for hypertension. It is best that your doctor makes the changes in the dosages, drugs etc.

Aircraft of Tomorrow

With all the recent news stories about the problems suffered by Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, dubbed the future of commercial aviation, here's a look at some more futuristic aircraft.

Eleven Of The Most Unusual Elevators

Elevators have a simple task: take passengers from one floor to another safely. But it doesn't mean that they have to be boring. Elevator towers for urban transport and modern design elevators attract great attention of tourists, because of its uniqueness, unusual looks and the driving experience. Let's have a closer look at the most unusual elevators around the world.

Irish town to unveil statue commemorating flying monkey who dropped in for a drink

A flying monkey with a taste for rum is to have a permanent memorial in an Irish town. Tojo dropped in to the County Cork seaside town of Clonakilty during the Second World War when a US bomber had to land nearby. On board with Tojo were 10 crewmen and a supply of rum. The plane, christened T'Ain't a Bird, landed on 7 April 1943 after running low on fuel after a misleading radio report threw them off course. Local businessman Thomas Tupper has grown up with the story of Tojo and how he came to be in Clonakilty.

"An American Flying Fortress on its way to Britain from the southern states of America crossed the Atlantic from south America and on their way they picked up a monkey as a mascot," he said. "They actually circled the town here in Clonakilty at midday when everyone was having their dinner and this enormous plane, it must have seemed like a space ship, was flying low around the town. People were terrified it might knock the spire off one of the churches. It headed out towards the sea and landed on a marsh."

The airmen who initially thought they had landed in German-occupied Norway were armed and preparing to take the cyanide tablets in their possession until they were reassured that they were on friendly soil. A crowd gathered as they were taken into custody by local police. "The custody consisted of them being in a local hotel where a party ensued for three days," he said. The visitors provided some welcome relief and excitement to the war-rationed residents of Clonakilty. During their stay, the US airmen were able to reciprocate the warm Irish welcome they had received by sharing their 36 bottles of rum with their hosts and Tojo.



After several days, the crew were taken to Cork before they were driven from the neutral Irish Republic into Northern Ireland where they were handed over to the RAF. But one very important primate was missing when the the airmen left the west Cork town. Tojo had taken too much of a liking to the rum and other beverages. "The efforts of local doctors, chemists, and vets failed to save the monkey and Tojo died of pneumonia," said Mr Tupper. "It was a great tragedy and people lined up and queued to see the dead monkey laid out on a sheet in a bed upstairs in the hotel." But Tojo had made a lasting impression during his short stay and was given a funeral, with full military honors. On Sunday, a statue of the unusual visitor who became a local legend will be unveiled in Clonakilty.

Amazon Olympics

100 meter freestyle swimming in a nice, clean, piranha-free swimming pool? That's cute, Summer Olympics! REAL men swim at the brutal Amazon Olympics, where surviving the event itself is its own reward:
Poised on the starting blocks at the Olympics, the 15 swimmers had good reason to feel apprehensive. But the cause of their nervousness was not the race itself – it was the piranhas, anacondas and crocodiles lurking in the turbid waters below. [...]
The swimming events all take place in the murky waters of the Loretoyaco river, a tributary of the Amazon. Waiting for her 100m freestyle race, Lina Castro, a 20-year-old member of the Tikun indigenous community, gazed into the water and considered the hazards. "When the race is about to start I need to be calm and not think about all the things that live in the river," she said.
Toby Muse of The Guardian reports: Here.

Tech May Be Whistled Language's Demise

Whistled speech -- still used in remote parts of Mexico -- allows people to converse over long distances.


Why Did Old-Time Announcers Talk That Way?

Old-time sports announcers had a very specific style and cadence to their speech, which can be attributed to technique and technology.

Wonks test olde timey medicines to see what they actually do


What was in Dr. F. G. Johnson’s French Female Pills and other scientifically untested elixirs, nostrums and other quack cures that were the only medicines available to sick people during the 18th, 19th and early [...]

Discovery of 1,800-year-old ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Tropical Ice Cores


Like rings from an ancient tree, two ice cores drawn from the tropical Peruvian Andes reveal Earth’s tropical climate history in unprecedented detail—year by year, for nearly 1,800 years. Researchers at The Ohio State University [...]

Astronomical News

NASA has selected a $200 million mission to carry out a full-sky survey for exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. The space observatory, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is scheduled for a 2017 launch.
The hundreds of volcanoes on Io are strangely farther east than they're supposed to be.
The sun has cut communications from Earth to Mars rover Curiosity and will soon follow suit for rover Opportunity, Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
Swiss Space Systems' SOAR rocket plane is scheduled to start launching satellites into orbit by the end of 2017.
Astronomers working on a multi-year program with the Hubble Space Telescope have announced the discovery of the most distant supernova ever observed, a stellar explosion that occurred over 10 billion years ago.
The Kepler space telescope's prime objective is to hunt for small worlds orbiting distant stars, but that doesn't mean it's not going to detect some extreme relativistic phenomena along the way.
This might look like a painting of a fantasy star scene but it's actually a very real image from three of the world's most advanced space telescopes.

Animal News

With a leg span of 8 inches, even scientists studying the creature are a bit freaked out by its size.
It was just a mundane, typical house-cat moment, but one that would be preserved for hundreds of years.
New technologies could pave the way for these extinct creatures to make a comeback.

Doctors say sleeping with pets can interrupt sleep


According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are approximately 78 million dogs and 86 million cats owned by Americans.  

And many owners claim to sleep with their pets.

Is this a healthy idea?

Doctors say that although they can keep you warm at night, sleeping with cats and dogs can affect your sex life, cause allergies, put you in danger of certain diseases and interrupt your sleep patterns.

"We call that sleep fragmentation and you tend to be less rested, less alert, your ability to concentrate is diminished and your memory may be impaired," according to Dr. Barry Dicicco, Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist of Northern Virginia.

But there is an element of companionship, Dicicco said.

Freaky Canadian Fish Resemble Gulf Oil Mutants

A Canadian ecologist warns that lesions on fish living downstream of Alberta's oil sands resemble those on Gulf fish after the BP oil spill.

Animal Pictures