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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Daily Drift

The Fourth of our trees of December ...!
 
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Today in History

771   With the death of his brother Carloman, Charlemagne becomes sole ruler of the Frankish Empire.  
1861   The U.S. Senate, voting 36 to 0, expels Senator John C. Brekinridge of Kentucky because of his joining the Confederate Army.  
1861   Queen Victoria of Britain forbids the export of gunpowder, firearms and all materials for their production.  
1862   Winchester, Va., falls into Union hands, resulting in the capture of 145 Southern soldiers.  
1863   Seven solid days of bombardment ends at Charleston, S.C. The Union fires some 1,307 rounds.  
1872   The U.S. brigantine Marie Celeste is found adrift and deserted with its cargo intact, in the Atlantic Ocean between the Azores and Portugal.  
1900   The French National Assembly, successor to the States-General, rejects Nationalist General Mercier's proposal to plan an invasion of England.
1914   The first Seaplane Unit formed by the German Navy officially comes into existence and begins operations from Zeebrugge, Belgium.  
1918   France cancels trade treaties in order to compete in the postwar economic battles.  
1941   Operation Taifun (Typhoon), which was launched by the German armies on October 2, 1941, as a prelude to taking Moscow, is halted because of freezing temperatures and lack of serviceable aircraft.  
1942   U.S. planes make the first raids on Naples, Italy.
1947   Tennessee William's play A Streetcar Named Desire premieres on Broadway starring Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy.  
1950   The University of Tennessee defies court rulings by rejecting five Negro applicants.  
1952   The Grumman XS2F-1 makes its first flight.  
1959   Peking pardons Pu Yi, ex-emperor of China and of the Japanese puppet-state of Manchukuo.  
1981   The pretender ronnie raygun broadens the power of the CIA by allowing spying in the United States.  1985   Robert McFarland resigns as National Security Advisor. Admiral John Poindexter is named to succeed.
1991   The last American hostages held in Lebanon are released.  
1992   The shrub's daddy orders 28,000 troops to Somalia during the Somali Civil War.

Christmas Tree Throwing Contest

It’s been an annual event in Germany for some time, and now it appears that the sport of  Christmas tree throwing is spreading! A competition was held over the weekend at the Keele Christmas Tree Farm in Staffordshire, England. Participants tossed a 6-foot, 22-pound Christmas tree for both length and height (trying to get it over a bar). There were about 100 trees of the same height and weight available, as tossing does tend to wear a tree out fast. The event was a fundraiser for the Help for Heroes UK military charity. See more pictures at Buzzfeed.

China and North Korea

China and North Korea have been treaty partners and official allies since 1961. Given the obvious disparities between the two nations, what does each get from their alliance, and can it hold up much longer? Tara explains.

A fully transparent solar cell that could make every window and screen a power source

by Sebastian Anthony
Transparent luminescent solar concentrator, Michigan State University
Researchers at Michigan State University have created a fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass (like your smartphone’s screen) into a photovoltaic solar cell. Unlike other “transparent” solar cells that we’ve reported on in the past, this one really is transparent, as you can see in the photos throughout this story. According to Richard Lunt, who led the research, the team are confident that the transparent solar panels can be efficiently deployed in a wide range of settings, from “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”
TLSC, colorful backgroundScientifically, a transparent solar panel is something of an oxymoron. Solar cells, specifically the photovoltaic kind, make energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity). If a material is transparent, however, by definition it means that all of the light passes through the medium to strike the back of your eye. This is why previous transparent solar cells have actually only been partially transparent — and, to add insult to injury, they usually they cast a colorful shadow too.

TLSC, organic molecules, emission graph
The organic salts absorb UV and infrared, and emit infrared — processes that occur outside of the visible spectrum, so that it appears transparent. To get around this limitation, the Michigan State researchers use a slightly different technique for gathering sunlight. Instead of trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell (which is nigh impossible), they use a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC). The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light, which they then luminance (glow) as another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible). This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity. [Research paper: DOI: 10.1002/adom.201400103 - "Near-Infrared Harvesting Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrators"]
If you look closely, you can see a couple of black strips along the edges of plastic block. Otherwise, though, the active organic material — and thus the bulk of the solar panel — is highly transparent. (Read: Solar singlet fission bends the laws of physics to boost solar power efficiency by 30%.)
Michigan’s TLSC currently has an efficiency of around 1%, but they think 5% should be possible. Non-transparent luminescent concentrators (which bathe the room in colorful light) max out at around 7%. On their own these aren’t huge figures, but on a larger scale — every window in a house or office block — the numbers quickly add up. Likewise, while we’re probably not talking about a technology that can keep your smartphone or tablet running indefinitely, replacing your device’s display with a TLSC could net you a few more minutes or hours of usage on a single battery charge.
The researchers are confident that the technology can be scaled all the way from large industrial and commercial applications, down to consumer devices, while remaining “affordable.” So far, one of the larger barriers to large-scale adoption of solar power is the intrusive and ugly nature of solar panels — obviously, if we can produce large amounts of solar power from sheets of glass and plastic that look like normal sheets of glass and plastic, then that would be big.

House repugicans Want To Cancel President Obama’s State Of The Union Address

House repugicans have sunk to a new level of petty as a group of hardcore Obama haters want to cancel the president’s State Of The Union address.
Politico reported,
obama and boehner state of the unionOne scheme has emerged as a favorite. The leadership would like to craft two bills to fund the government: one that would keep most of the government open through September 2015, and another that would fund immigration enforcement agencies through the first few months of the year. There’s also the potential for stand-alone legislation to try to target Obama’s executive action.
the repugican cabal hard-liners have ideas of their own. Some have floated censuring Obama or canceling his State of the Union address, although neither will happen, senior aides say. Legislation is unlikely to come to the floor until next week.
To the group of diehard critics who want nothing less than impeachment, canceling the president’s annual State Of The Union address might seem like a slap on the wrist, but it would sink political dysfunction to a new low. There would be a national backlash if House repugicans refused to invite the president to address the country on the state of our union.
Even the thought of canceling the State Of The Union demonstrates that congressional repugicans never had any intention of working with the president. The repugicans thought that they would take over Congress, and the president would be forced to bend to their will.
The exact opposite has happened. The president has moved to left and joined with a newly empowered group of congressional liberals to put Boehner and McConnell on the defensive. Boehner and McConnell wanted to get off to a fast start in January, but it looks like they will have the black cloud of another government funding battle hanging over their heads.
It may seem totally normal to some House repugicans to demand that the president be censured, or the State Of The Union canceled, but this is a cabal on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The repugican dysfunction is about to veer off into a whole new crazy direction.

Blame Reagan For America’s Persecution Complex, Victim Mentality and Decline

Wingnuts in the 21st Century, from repugicans to Koch-libertarians have embraced, perpetuated, and transformed Reagan's extremist language into cabal policy ...
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Persecution complex is, in late 20th and 21st Century America, a perception of hostility and ill-treatment at the hands of “the other” because of race, political, or religious beliefs, and is very closely related, if not engendered by, what psychologists refer to as Victim mentality. Victim mentality is rampant among evangelicals, white supremacists, and angry wingnuts who acquired (learned) what they regard as a highly-valued personality trait. Americans were not always, and did not consider themselves, weak and terrified victims of imagined negative actions of “the other,” but to hear them wail and moan, that is certainly the case. This is regardless there is no  clear evidence they have suffered anything and in fact, have been empowered to persecute and victimize other Americans through their religious and economic legislative arm; the  repugican cabal.
Over the past two years, there has been a preponderance of reports, surveys, and research documenting America’s decline in every imaginable measurable category. It does not matter if it is the middle class’s demise, lower wages, lost pensions, the nation’s pathetic and crumbling infrastructure, homelessness, child poverty, gun deaths, or income inequality, all signs point to a very specific time frame when America began its race to mediocrity within the third world, and failure to keep pace with developed nations. Regardless which category America is lagging the rest of the world, everything points to the election of repugicans’ man-god ronnie raygun as the beginning of America’s fall and the victim mentality plaguing the population claiming they are being persecuted.
Wingnuts in the 21st Century, from repugicans to teabaggers to Koch-libertarians have embraced, perpetuated, and transformed Reagan’s extremist language into party policy to great success with their claims that America is destined for a “thousand years of darkness” unless wingnuts destroy government tyranny. Government tyranny, by the way, manifest in what Reagan and repugicans claim are fascism, religious persecution, and liberal social programs such as Social  Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, taxes, and workplace and environmental regulations. All programs that, according to Reagan and repugicans, amount to stealing from “real Americans” to give to other non-Americans (read minorities) including every aspect of the extremely popular New Deal programs. In fact, nearly every repugican anti-government policy embraced by the victim-segment of the population was inspired by Reagan’s extremist pronouncements.
For example, it was Reagan who embraced the religio-wingnuts and ushered in their perversion of government and domestic policies as a christian nation with a warning that “If we ever forget that we are one nation under dog, then we will be a nation gone under.” It was also Reagan who inspired the evangelical crusade to replace the U.S. Constitution with the christian bible with rhetoric proclaiming that “Within the covers of the bible are all the answers for all the problems men face.” In fact, although prior to Reagan’s presidency the religio-wingnuts' stance on contraception and abortion was that it was a personal medical decision between a woman and her physician, the United States coven of catholic bishops convinced both Reagan and evangelicals that all good christians “have the duty to protect the life of an unborn child” according to Ronald  Reagan.
The push to decry education as liberal indoctrination, oppose science, and reject empirical data today was initiated by Reagan’s statement that “They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. I say there are simple answers to our problems and they are found within the covers of the bible.” It is likely why evangelicals overwhelmingly attribute America’s woes from climate change to poverty and an African American President to the bible’s last days and Armageddon.  Science and economic expertise is too complicated when a simplistic ‘bible’ answer is close at hand.
However, every repugican policy today is an extension of Reagan’s perpetual preaching that Americans are persecuted and victims of government; whether federal, state, county, or local. Every repugican and Koch brother anti-government utterance over the past six years is directly attributable to Reagan who spent over a decade warning Americans that their government existed as a “hostile alien force seeking only to steal their money to give to “others” and “eradicate their freedoms.” It is the Paul Ryan “takers versus makers” ideology and Willard Romney’s “47% moochers” remark that teabaggers and the repugican base embraced as victims persecuted by the government that takes their poverty wages and gives them to moocher retirees, Veterans, hungry children, and disabled people.
This idea is part and parcel of red state wingnuts who blame unemployment, poverty wages, and lack of healthcare on other Americans laziness, regardless if they work. Reagan claimed unemployment insurance was nothing more than a “pre-paid vacation for freeloaders,” and it has been parroted ad nauseum by repugicans over the past three years. It is stunning, really, but a fair number of Americans working for companies like Walmart and McDonalds actually believe they earn poverty wages because other Americans working at Walmart and McDonalds receive food stamps, Medicaid, or earned income tax credits provided to “freeloaders” by the hostile government stealing their money. After over thirty years of hearing repugicans parrot Reagan’s assertion that “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” and that “Government does not solve problems; it creates them,” it is little wonder repugicans are able to campaign, and steal elections, on the promise of eliminating the source of their base’s misery; the government.
Many Americans are perplexed as to why low intellect Americans, predominately in the bible-belt and red states, consistently vote against their own best interests; often with full knowledge they will increase their own suffering. It is due in great part to their persecution complex and victim mentality as well as their inherent stupidity. However, for over thirty years repugicans have pounded into their pea-brains that until Reagan wingnuts destroy the government, hand the nation to corporatists, and replace the Constitution with the christian bible, they will be victims of  “a hostile alien force” intent on persecuting them with fascist programs such as food stamps, Social Security, minimum wage, Medicare, Medicaid, roads, and schools.
There has never been a greater anti-government movement as the repugican, teabagger, and Koch brother crusade Americans are witnessing today, but like America’s decline into mediocrity, it all began in earnest with repugican man-turned-god ronnie raygun. An evil demented man-god and horrid B-movie actor who dutifully read a John Birch Society anti-government script and basically transformed an entire generation of Americans into victims of the repugican cabal; not the government.

The 10 most Liberal (and wingnut) cities in America

The U.S. is a much more complicated political patchwork than you might expect
by Allegra Kirkland
The 10 most conservative (and liberal) cities in America Americans have countless stereotypes about people from different regions of the country. There’s the polite Midwesterner, the abrasive New Yorker, the Berkeley hippy, the gun-toting Texan. There is red America and there is blue, and never the twain shall meet. But a study of Liberal cities published in American Political Science Review suggests that the United States has a much more complicated political patchwork than we might expect.
In order to determine which cities are most Liberal, researchers analyzed large-scale surveys that questioned residents of over 1,600 towns and cities about a range of policy areas, from education to healthcare. Study authors Chris Tausanovitch of UCLA and Christopher Warshaw of MIT created an ideological score for each city based on these responses. The final study looks at the 51 U.S. cities that have at least 250,000 residents.
Some of their findings, like the fact that the U.S.’ biggest urban centers lean toward the liberal side of the spectrum, are unsurprising. But there is a remarkable ideological range within states, and beyond the top contenders, the rankings aren’t what you might expect. Mesa, Arizona’s title as the most wingnut city in the country fits in with our preconceptions about national politics, but the fact that Buffalo, New York is more Liberal than Chicago or that Portland doesn’t even crack the top 10 is more of a surprise. According to their results, San Francisco is the most Liberal city, followed by Washington DC and Seattle.
The most interesting takeaway of the study is that ideology has tangible effects on policy at the municipal level. Academic literature has long held that city officials are unresponsive to their constituents, thanks to the constraints placed on them by state and federal governments and the impossibility of catering to a constantly changing demography. Yet as it turns out, “the substantive impact of citizens’ preferences on policy outcomes is quite large.” The most Liberal cities have higher taxes per capita, rely on less regressive tax systems, and spend twice as much per person as their most wingnut counterparts. And as Hunter Schwarz points out at the Washington Post, “even cities with governments designed to be less partisan, with institutions like nonpartisan elections and professional managers instead of elected mayors, are in line with residents’ political beliefs.”
Check out the top 10 most and least Liberal cities below, or look through the Economist’s ranking of all 51 cities.
Most Liberal
1. San Francisco, CA
2. Washington, DC
3. Seattle, WA
4. Oakland, CA
5. Boston, MA
6. Minneapolis, MN
7. Detroit, MI
8. New York, NY
9. Buffalo, NY
10. Baltimore, MD
Most wingnut
1. Mesa, Arizona
2. Oklahoma City, OK
3. Virginia Beach, VA
4. Colorado Springs, CO
5. Jacksonville, FL
6. Arlington, TX
7. Anaheim, CA
8. Omaha, NE
9. Tulsa, OK
10. Aurora, CO

Paul Krugman Reveals the Culprit Behind the repugican cabal's Rabid Anti-Environment Stance

by Janet Allon
Breathing used to be a non-partisan issue. Here's what changed.

Since when did breathing clean air become so politicized? It predates President Obama's recent attempts to install regulations to curb ozone emissions, but not by that much. Paul Krugman takes up the truly bizarre Republican opposition to even the most tepid attempts to protect the environment in Friday's column and digs deeper to find the root cause. Of course, polluters will defend their right to pollute, he points out, but why can they always depend on repugican support?
Some background from Krugman: 
It wasn’t always thus. The Clean Air Act of 1970,  the legal basis for the Obama administration’s environmental actions, passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 73 to 0, and was signed into law by Richard Nixon. (I’ve heard veterans of the E.P.A. describe the Nixon years as a golden age.) A major amendment of the law, which among other things made possible the cap-and-trade system that limits acid rain, was signed in 1990 by the shrub's daddy.
But that was then. Today’s repugican cabal is putting a conspiracy theorist who views climate science as a “gigantic hoax” in charge of the Senate’s environment committee. And this isn’t an isolated case. Pollution has become a deeply divisive partisan issue.
The repugicans have moved to the right of Nixon and the shrub's daddy. That's part of it, but, again, why?
Money in politics is part of the answer, no doubt. Mega polluters like the Koch brothers pour mega doses of cash into politics, and while it used to flow to both parties, it goes "overwhelmingly in one direction" today. What changed? Rabid anti-government, pro-market ideology is part of the answer. Krugman peels the onion further to conclude that this pernicious ideology is just "a symptom of the underlying cause of the divide:  rising inequality."
The basic story of political polarization over the past few decades is that, as a wealthy minority has pulled away economically from the rest of the country, it has pulled one major party along with it. True, Democrats often cater to the interests of the 1 percent, but repugicans always do. Any policy that benefits lower- and middle-income Americans at the expense of the elite — like health reform, which guarantees insurance to all and pays for that guarantee in part with taxes on higher incomes — will face bitter repugican opposition.
Protecting the environment has become a class issue, in part. Everyone breathes, but only the super-wealthy own huge amount of stock in coal companies. Krugman concludes: 
In the case of the new ozone plan,  the E.P.A.’s analysis suggests that, for the average American, the benefits would be more than twice the costs. But that doesn’t necessarily matter to the non-average American driving one cabal’s priorities. On ozone, as with almost everything these days, it’s all about inequality.

'Saint ronnie raygun’s' Labor Secretary Admitted ‘Trickle-Down’ Failed, Led to Inequality

After the release of the monthly jobs numbers last Friday, PBS’s Newshour spoke with economist Barry Bluestone about the success of “The Gipper’s” trickle-down economics regarding socioeconomic inequality.He explains why, for the 4 million long-term unemployed, things are not looking any rosier. Inequality for those at the bottom persists, and as he explains, it is linked to high unemployment.
Destroying the basic tenets of top-down trickle-down reaganomics, he said, “The wealthiest people spend maybe 30% of their income. Poor people spend 100%, working people spend 98%, so as we move money away from working families towards very wealthy families, we take more and more consumption out of the economy, means slower and slower growth, means higher and higher an extended unemployment.”
The interview gets even better, as Bluestone struggles to explain why the repugican establishment has refused to abandoned trickle-down economics even in the face of growing social economic inequality.
Please watch the video below and share this and other related articles on social media forums so that everyone will know that trickle-down Reaganomics leads to growing wealth inequality.

Protecting ourselves from violent Americans

"The American people have one of the highest murder rates in the industrialized world. Almost all of these people are killed by other Americans. War hustlers and Bin Laden pimps love to go around screaming, but 9/11! Three thousand people died on 9/11. Nearly 15,000 Americans were killed in 2012. Americans perpetrate roughly five 9/11s against other Americans every year. By the end of this week, more Americans will be killed by other Americans than were ever killed by ISIL.Why are our politicians ignoring this plague of American-on-American crime? Why are American leaders not protesting the cult of death that fills the graveyards of America? Who will bravely challenge the culture of failure that says that Americans should only be outraged when Muslims kill Americans? Who will challenge the American pathology that says that a boy who walks unarmed is acting French?
I demand a TSA checkpoint at every shopping mall to shield Americans against Americans. I demand drones to kill Americans before they kill other Americans. I demand that American leaders stop pretending that American morgues and American cemeteries are full of young men because of jihadis. The evidence is clear-American-on-American violence is a silent killer that only Americans can stop. American criminality is now so rampant that it must always be the only topic of any conversation. Let us not speak of any act of international terrorism until American terrorism has been wholly vanquished."
~ Ta-Nehisi Coates, making a good point.

Is American society becoming more narcissistic?

iStock_000035680754Medium_webProbing Question: Is American society becoming more narcissistic?

It has been exactly one hundred years since Sigmund Freud penned his pivotal essay “On Narcissism.” It’s easy to wonder how the father of psychoanalysis might react to society today, […]

Gene Simmons' designer daughter Sophie on why she refuses to allow her photos to be retouched - and how she learned to embrace her father's 'crass' attitude

  • The size eight 22-year-old has her own fashion label, Sophie x The Style Club, which is aimed at women who are 'average sized' 
  • Sophie's mother is former Playmate of the Year Shannon Tweed 
Designer Sophie Tweed-Simmons has revealed that she refuses to let images of herself be retouched before they are shown to the public. 
In an age when almost every photo featured in the pages of the world's favorite fashion magazines has been subject to at least a few photoshop tricks and tweaks, the 22-year-old insists that people should be able to see her exactly as she is, without any unrealistic enhancements.
Speaking to Yahoo Style, the designer, who admits to changing dress sizes on a regular basis, confessed that size eight is her 'happy place', adding: 'I like eating cookies and food.
'I like the treadmill, but I don't want to kill myself.'
Posing in a stunning set of images for the fashion site, the designer insisted that none of the photos, which were taken in New York City, should undergo any 'cosmetic' alterations. 
And it's not just this shoot on which Sophie has taken such a stance.
Indeed after completing her first photoshoot for her fashion range, Sophie x The Style Club, the burgeoning fashion star noticed that the images had later been retouched - and she promptly sent them back and asked them to be returned to their former natural glory.
'My legs looked too good,' she recalls.
'I want to give girls confidence': Sophie's fashion label doesn't discriminate by size, and she hopes that her designs will suit all women, no matter what their shape 
Having faced her fair share of the spotlight before reaching the age of 18, beginning when she first starred in her family's reality series, Gene Simmons: Family Jewels, at the age of 11, Sophie admits she was eager to step away from the shadow that both of her parents had cast and make a name for herself as a designer.
'When I'm singing, I'm Gene Simmons's daughter,' she said. 'When I'm acting, I'm Shannon Tweed's daughter. With fashion, I'm just me. I'm not just "daughter of blank".'
That said, Sophie confesses she was happy to trade on her well-known name to a certain extent - provided she could use it to help her make a change within the industry.
'I felt like I really had the chance to give girls confidence with affordable clothing,' she added. 
'If you have a platform, you should use it.'


And it's not just her parents' creative talents that Sophie has inherited. The designer admits that, while she was often embarrassed by her father's over-the-top and in-your-face behavior when she was a child, now she sees it as a blessing. 
'When I was little, I'd think: "Can't you just be nice?"' she said of the 65-year-old rocker.
'He taught me that there's being nice and then there's lying. It's better to be blunt and un-liked than shade the truth. I appreciate people who are honest.'
Her straight-talking attitude no doubt helped when it came to making a name for herself within the fashion industry, marking her out from those designers who only cater to the small, select group of women who can fit into their clothing.
'I'm not a high-fashion model, and I'm not plus size,' Sophie says of her own body. 'Which is weird for fashion, but not for life.
'A lot of designers that I love don't fit me. I wanted to do cuts that would be flattering to girls who have some shape.'
Earlier this year, Sophie, who is based in Los Angeles, revealed that her first 18-piece collaboration with The Style Club was tailored to suit her own body type - particularly in the derriere. 
'The cuts of the pieces are all flattering,' Sophie explained. 'All the waistbands are elastic, which I prefer. Essentially, the collection is based around my butt...
'We don't want to limit who buys the collection based on sizing; the cuts will look good on everyone.
'We want our shoppers to be part of the process with us. So give us feedback and tell us what's working on your body. Just because it works on my butt doesn't mean it works for everyone.'  

Culinary Delites

Apple Pecan Corn Bread Dressing Recipe
Apple Pecan Corn Bread Dressing
"Savory, yet sweet this cornbread dressing will satisfy anyone's appetite. 2 teaspoons dried parsley can be substituted for fresh."
Original recipe makes 20 servings
1 (9x9 inch) pan
3 cups herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix
1 cup corn meal
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon mineral salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic power
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
2 cups apple juice
2 cups chopped apples
3eggs
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Butter one 3 quart casserole dish.
In a large bowl combine the corn bread, stuffing mix, parsley, salt pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon and ginger.
In a heavy saucepan melt the butter and saute; the celery and onion for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
Add this to the cornbread mixture and mix well.
Stir in the chopped apple, chopped pecans, apple juice and beaten eggs.
Toss lightly.
Spoon dressing into the prepared casserole dish.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

The Gigantic, Secretive Market Where France’s Top Chefs Buy Their Food

The largest wholesale food market in the world is the Rungis International Market, about a half hour outside of Paris. The city’s top chefs, restaurants, hotels, grocers, and smaller food markets get fresh meat, fish, produce, and other perishables there every day. The market covers 573 acres and 11,000 people work there. Author Cody Delistraty takes us on a tour of the facility, which is not open to the general public. First, the fish processing building, then the butcher area.
Then to the cheese warehouse, where giant wheels of Gruyère and Emmental are stacked atop one another to entice restaurant buyers; followed by the vegetables warehouse, where leeks and ginger and asparagus and kale sit in wooden boxes littered throughout the room; and then, finally, to the flowers warehouse, where asters and callas and carnations and dahlias and hyacinths and peonies and poinsettias burst with reds and pinks and blues and purples in a wonderful display.

It’s only after seeing all of the warehouses that you realize the immense power that Rungis holds over the French food industry.
Find out more about the immense Rungis International Market and see plenty of pictures at Medium.

Company that produced hospital food in a cement mixer shut down by authorities

National authorities in Denmark have shut down a company that produced food for nursing homes and hospitals in a cement mixer. The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) discovered that the food company Nordic Ingredients violated hygiene rules by producing gelled foods in a cement mixer.
The food was delivered to public nursing homes and to hospital patients who have difficulty swallowing whole food. A Food and Veterinary Administration official said that in addition to producing food in a cement mixer, the hygiene levels at the company’s production facility were abysmal.
“It wasn’t just a bit of mess from the most recent production, and we determined that the cleaning standards were completely inadequate,” Henriette Mynster told DR. Mynster said that the cement mixer didn’t appear to have been cleaned in between uses. “It was an orange cement mixer just like bricklayers use. There were layers from previous uses, where bacteria and other micro-organisms can easily hide,” Mynster said.
According to the food authorities, up to a dozen public facilities receive food from Nordic Ingredients. Many of them spent Thursday destroying all food that came from the company. Other facilities that have received the cement mixer food include Svendborg Hosptial, Aalborg University Hospital and Vendsyssel Hospital. Many of the facilities say that they were unaware that the company, which has now been shut down, was not registered with the proper authorities.

Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease

The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema. A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame. 'This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,' they said. Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune DiseaseJunk foods at fast food restaurants as well as processed foods at grocery retailers represent the largest sources of sodium intake from refined salts. The Canadian Medical Association Journal sent out an international team of researchers to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Subway. They found that the average salt content varied between companies and between the same products sold in different countries. U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries. While government-led public health campaigns and legislation efforts have reduced refined salt levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary. Many low-fat foods rely on salt--and lots of it--for their flavor. One packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15 calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has 510 mg sodium--about 1.5 times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. (Feel like you’re having too much of a good thing? You probably are. Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway--just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing--has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon. How Refined Salt Causes Autoimmune Disease The team from Yale University studied the role of T helper cells in the body. These activate and 'help' other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections. Previous research suggests that a subset of these cells - known as Th17 cells - also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases. In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more 'aggressively.' They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation. They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease associated with multiple sclerosis in humans. The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level. Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are proteins used to pass messages between cells. Study co-author Ralf Linker, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, said: 'These findings are an important contribution to the understanding of multiple sclerosis and may offer new targets for a better treatment of the disease, for which at present there is no cure.' It develops when the immune system mistakes the myelin that surrounds the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord for a foreign body. It strips the myelin off the nerves fibres, which disrupts messages passed between the brain and body causing problems with speech, vision and balance. Another of the study's authors, Professor David Hafler, from Yale University, said that nature had clearly not intended for the immune system to attack its host body, so he expected that an external factor was playing a part. He said: 'These are not diseases of bad genes alone or diseases caused by the environment, but diseases of a bad interaction between genes and the environment.' Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no salt. It's one of the reasons that having a particular gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to salt. 'Today, Western diets all have high salt content and that has led to increase in hypertension and perhaps autoimmune disease as well.' The team next plan to study the role that Th17 cells play in autoimmune conditions that affect the skin. 'It would be interesting to find out if patients with psoriasis can alleviate their symptoms by reducing their salt intake,' they said. 'However, the development of autoimmune diseases is a very complex process which depends on many genetic and environmental factors.' Stick to Good Salts Refined, processed and bleached salts are the problem. Salt is critical to our health and is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Our bodies are not designed to processed refined sodium chloride since it has no nutritional value. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously for their incorporation into our diet. "These mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated," argues Dr Barbara Hendel, researcher and co-author of Water & Salt, The Essence of Life. "We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid." "In water, salt dissolves into mineral ions," explains Dr Hendel. "These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. They're also needed to balance PH levels in the body." Mineral salts, she says, are healthy because they give your body the variety of mineral ions needed to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal. These healing properties have long been recognised in central Europe. At Wieliczka in Poland, a hospital has been carved in a salt mountain. Asthmatics and patients with lung disease and allergies find that breathing air in the saline underground chambers helps improve symptoms in 90 per cent of cases. Dr Hendel believes too few minerals, rather than too much salt, may be to blame for health problems. It's a view that is echoed by other academics such as David McCarron, of Oregon Health Sciences University in the US. He says salt has always been part of the human diet, but what has changed is the mineral content of our food. Instead of eating food high in minerals, such as nuts, fruit and vegetables, people are filling themselves up with "mineral empty" processed food and fizzy drinks.

Possibly booby-trapped landmine-laden property is proving hard to sell

Federal officials expect to hold a second auction to sell a secluded hilltop home in New Hampshire that has failed to attract bidders – and possibly contains hidden explosives. In August, a US marshal-hosted auction failed to attract a single bidder for the 100-acre property that was once owned by Ed and Elaine Brown, who were based there during a nine-month standoff with federal officials in 2007. Minimum bids for the home were set at $250,000.
US marshals are now working out the details for the next auction, while warning that the property could contain landmines or other hidden explosives. Ed Brown retreated to the home in January 2007, after a judge convicted him and his wife of hiding $1.9m in income from 1996 to 2003. Elaine Brown joined her husband in the standoff in April 2007, after the couple were ordered to serve a 63-month sentence. In October 2007, the Browns were arrested without incident. In 1997, Brown told the Internal Revenue Service he would not pay taxes until the agency could prove it was a legal practice.
Courts rejected his argument that collecting taxes was illegal. In 1994, Brown said he believed in a wide-ranging conspiracy, involving politicians including Bill Clinton, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, to “deprive Americans of their liberty”. He predicted a violent “revolution” in the US. The couple, armed with assault rifles and pipe bombs, entertained like-minded visitors during the standoff and even held a picnic, which ultimately led to their arrest. Undercover US marshals, pretending that they were supporters delivering goods from Elaine Brown’s dental practice, were invited into the house.
Ed Brown initially kept an assault rifle trained on the marshals as they unloaded items, but lowered the weapon once he became comfortable, according to court documents. The group shared beer and pizza before additional marshals were called in to make the arrest. Following the couple’s arrest, a court said the property was host to “a vast supply of explosives, firearms, and ammunition, including rifles, armor piercing bullets, pipe bombs, and bombs nailed to trees”. If the house is sold, proceeds will go to the municipalities of Plainfield and Lebanon, which are owed part of the unpaid taxes. In January 2012, the US first circuit court of appeals rejected an appeal by the Browns.

Bank says sorry for any inconvenience after handing out fake notes to police officer

A police officer and his wife are furious and still reeling from a "humiliating and frightening experience" after they were given counterfeit bank notes when they withdrew money from their bank. Lucy and Dominic Doyle, of East Grinstead, Sussex, withdrew thousands of pounds from their local HSBC branch to begin work on their home and also gave some of the money to their young nephews. But they say it wasn't until Mrs Doyle's sister tried to bank some of the cash that she was told the notes were fake, leading to what the family say was a public humiliation. "As soon as we realized what happened we took the money to the branch in Croydon where my sister lives. I was visibly upset and explained that we were worried sick as to how much counterfeit money we'd been given. But the assistant said it was unlikely any of it was counterfeit and that the notes were probably just damaged. We explained what a humiliating and unacceptable situation this was, and left the bank not knowing if we were going to be the ones shouldering the blame and if our savings were at risk." Mr Doyle, who has been a detective constable for the Metropolitan Police for nearly 20 years, had to excuse himself from a court case to go back to HSBC while each of the notes was counted individually.
The bank confirmed that £160 of the notes were fake. The notes were replaced, but the couple have been less than impressed with the response from HSBC. Mrs Doyle added: "We were told by HSBC that they would investigate but to this day we haven't received an explanation. We then received a half-hearted apology and the offer of a bottle of wine as compensation, which I think is disgusting. I am absolutely appalled that my husband has been offered a bottle of wine as compensation for being through an utterly humiliating and frightening experience. We were then offered £50, which we declined on the basis it had taken 100 miles of petrol and our time, sleepless nights, leave from work and caused a lot of distress, worry and humiliation.
"I hold personal and business accounts with HSBC and have lost all faith. Why would a huge bank like HSBC not wish to resolve this quickly and reassure their customers about their security in banking with them?" A spokeswoman for HSBC said: "We have procedures in place to identify and stop counterfeit notes entering circulation. Unfortunately after leaving the branch, our customers notified us that they had received some counterfeit notes as part of their cash withdrawal, so we arranged for these to be swapped. The customers made a complaint, and after speaking with them several times we made a final offer of £100 as compensation. We are very sorry that they are unhappy with the situation and for any inconvenience caused."

Man fled scene of car crash to avoid girlfriend yelling at him

A New Jersey man fled the scene of an accident last Sunday night because he did not want to be yelled at anymore by his girlfriend, according to police.
David Scarpa was having a “verbal argument” with his girlfriend when he put his vehicle in reverse and struck a utility pole at around 11pm.
The caller who reported the hit-and-run accident said he heard people “yelling,” then heard a “bang,” and discovered debris on the ground next to the utility pole, police said.
Scarpa, 21, of Vineland, turned himself in to police at around 4pm on Monday. Scarpa said he fled the scene and did not immediately report the accident because he “did not want to deal with his girlfriend yelling at him,” authorities said. Police charged Scarpa with leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving.

Two men had lucky escape as car tumbled into sinkhole

Two men had a lucky escape as their car was swallowed by a sinkhole on a busy road in China.
As their vehicle dangled precariously over the edge of the hole the driver and his passenger managed to get out. Minutes later the tarmac gave way underneath, and the car rolled over into the hole, landing on its roof.
The hole, which appeared at the center of a busy junction in Jinjang City in China’s eastern Fujan province, was caused by the collapse of sands beneath the road’s surface.

It had been created about half an hour before the incident, when a heavy truck ran over the weak spot, caused the tarmac to collapse.

The last known photo of the Titanic

11.) The last known photo of the Titanic.

Discovery Of 9th Century Quranic Manuscripts Predate Columbus Travels By Five Centuries

quran
For centuries it was believed that Christopher Columbus was the first man from the Old continent to cross the Atlantic to the New World, but new evidence from a research team from the University of Rhode Island suggests Muslim seafarers might just be the first people to have settled on the shores of America, a possibility that could rewrite history as we know it.
The discovery completely took the researchers by surprise admits professor Evan Yuriesco, in charge of the research team.

“We were expecting to find traces of prehistoric Native American settlements, as we have in the area for the past decades. We were not prepared to find 9th century clay pots containing ancient manuscripts written in the Arabic language” he explains.

The team of researchers fell upon what could be the mass tomb of 9th century seafarers. The four skeletons that have been found on the site are in a state of advanced decomposition which could make DNA testing impossible, warns the expert, although the teeth showed premature decay which could explain the cause of death by a poor diet or an unknown illness.
archeo-rhode
Researchers from Rhode Island University were not expecting a discovery of such a controversial nature 
A number of items were also found, as cloths, coins and two scimitars, yet the remaining artifacts were in such a bad state that they are barely recognizable, as rust has destroyed any possible recognizable trace of writing on the swords and coins, and the pieces of cloth having rotten due to age and the extreme humidity of the area.

Two clay pots were also found in a surprisingly good state, one of them containing the precious manuscripts and the other a mixture of unidentified dried spices which, when identified, could bring further proof of the origin of these sea dwellers.

Islamic medieval scholar Karim Ibn Fallah from the University of Massachusetts has determined that the age of the manuscripts is from the 9th century based on the Kufic script of the manuscripts. “Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts and consists of a modified form of the old Nabataean script” he explains. “Kufic developed around the end of the 7th century in Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name. The discovery of Kufic scripts in pre-Columbus America is extremely fascinating” he adds, visibly excited.
parchement-a
The documents are thought to be of the 9th century based on the Kufic script of the manuscripts, claim experts 
Byron Kent, museologist at the Smithsonian, admits the find is extremely troubling. “There is no question that Arab maps were the best in the world, but none of the existing early maps demonstrates any knowledge of the Americas” he ponders. Even though the burden of historical evidence has been against the idea of Muslim populations traveling across the Atlantic in pre-Columbus times, the expert does not dispute that Muslims could have beaten Columbus to the New World.

“They certainly possessed the technological expertise to have done so; but, until now, there was no reliable evidence that they did. This discovery, however, is compelling proof that they, in fact, did” admits the expert.

Richard Francaviglia of Willamette University and Best Selling author of “Far Beyond the Western Sea of the Arabs…’: Reinterpreting Claims about Pre-Columbian Muslims in the Americas” also admits the discovery is unexpected.

“The premise of pre-Columbian Islam in the New World is attractive because it is so plausible. The navigational accomplishments of Muslims were significant indeed. The record confirms that they rapidly explored and colonized a substantial portion of the Old World by the ninth and tenth centuries CE. Columbus himself was clearly indebted to Muslim seafaring skills, and there is little doubt that Muslims had the technological expertise to have reached the New World”.

Muslim historian and geographer Abul-Hassan Ali Ibn Al-Hussain Al-Masudi (871-957 CE) wrote in his book Muruj adh-dhahab wa maadin aljawhar (The meadows of gold and quarries of jewels) that during the rule of the Muslim caliph of Spain Abdullah Ibn Mohammad (888-912 CE), a Muslim navigator, Khashkhash Ibn Saeed Ibn Aswad, from Cortoba, Spain sailed from Delba (Palos) in 889 CE, crossed the Atlantic, reached an unknown territory (ard majhoola) and returned with fabulous treasures. In Al-Masudi’s map of the world there is a large area in the ocean of darkness and fog which he referred to as the unknown territory, which many scholars believe to be the Americas.
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Although this post IS NOT an 'article' from The ONION you might want to take it with a few grains of salt.
It is known that other Europeans and Asians as well came to the Americas centuries before Columbus so the post's premise is faulty from the get go. The above voyage referenced is not known to science, however, it is entirely possible that a voyage by a Moor of Spain could have taken place as described.

Archaeologists Discover Remains of New Humanoid Species

A team of archaeologists affiliated with the University College Dublin, have unearthed three skeletons from a previously unknown humanoid species of extremely small size in a wooded area of Eastern Ireland. The specimens measuring between 47 and 61 centimeters are presumably from an entirely new species of humanoid, distinct from modern humans, which would have survived until the 12th or 13th century AD.
skeletonThe bones which were presumably partially unearthed by a recent rainfall, and were found by three local children who were playing in the area. The young boys immediately contacted the police, believing they had found the remains of murdered children. The medical examiner called on the site, rapidly understood that this was not a modern crime scene, but seemed instead to be an unusual archeological site. He contacted the University College Dublin to ask for help, and the institution sent Professor Edward James McInnes to analyze the discovery.
The bodies of two females and one male were discovered with a small number of artefacts in what appeared to have been a small settlement, near the banks of the river Boyne. The team of archaeologists led by Professor McInnes, has named the species Homo minusculus, which means either ‘Tiny Man’ or ‘Is small in comparison’.
This tiny axe blade was found near the body of the male individual. It is presumed to have been both a weapon and a tool.
This tiny axe blade was found near the body of the male individual. It is presumed to have been used as both a weapon and a tool.
Various small stone Tools and weapons were found near the bodies, including an axe, two knives, a spear point and even two miniature sewing needles. These items suggest that the Homo Minisculus had only reached a technological level comparable to human hunters-gatherers from the Paleolithic period, as no pottery or metal items have been found on the site. Many bones from various small animals including squirrels, hares, moles and hedgehogs were found near the settlement, many of which bore traces of cooking.
The various dating analyses realized on the bones and artefacts have shown that they dated from somewhere between 1145 and 1230 AD, which means that the species would have coexisted with modern humans for more than 45000 years. This amazing discovery suggests than many tales and stories from the Middle Ages which were considered as fantastic by historians, could indeed be based on real facts. Homo minusculus could have inspired stories of leprechauns, elves and brownies that are common in European folklore.
Professor McInnes and his team believe that Homo Minusculus could have feared humans, and would have had very little or no interaction with the surrounding communities.
Professor McInnes and his team believe that Homo minusculus could have disappeared due to the destruction of its habitat by surrounding human communities.
It remains unclear at the moment if Homo Minusculus evolved from Homo erectus, from Homo sapiens idaltu or even from Homo sapiens sapiens, but its morphological similarities with modern humans suggest that it evolved as a separate subspecies towards the end of human lineage.
The explanation for its small size also remains a mystery, but Professor McInnes believes it could be linked to the scarcity of resources during the most recent glacial period which  extended the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago.
After the discovery of the Homo Floresiensis (that would have stood about 1.1 m in height) in 2003, on the island of Flores in Indonesia, a human subspecies which is believed to have gone extinct about 30000 years ago, this new find proves that many other hominin subspecies did indeed coexist with modern humans for thousands of years.
***
Although this post IS NOT an 'article' from The ONION you might want to take it with a few grains of salt.
There are still mysteries lurking out there in the swirling mists of time about we humans, but this 'discovery' may not be one of them, then again, it just might be, so as said above whatever amount of salt you need to get this to go down - use it.

Big Old Block

The 2,000-year-old stone block was likely cut to be used in a temple, but was abandoned because it was unsuitable for transporting. 

Arctic Sharks

The stark, barren landscape of Banks Island in Canada has yielded more than 8,000 shark teeth that date back millions of years.

'About-to-Eat-You' Mode

A curious shark chases and attacks an underwater camera, striking the electronics lens-first, in a head-on chomp.







Polar Bear Peril

Forward-looking models and polar bear energetics data foresee an alarming loss of habitat by the century's end. 

Couple surprised to discover that their newly-purchased dog had only been leased

After Anthony and Françoise Claessens from San Diego picked out a purebred bichon frise puppy and got it home, they were more than a little surprised as they looked closely at the paperwork. They had leased a dog. The contract required regular service and maintenance and allowed the finance company to “inspect the pet at any reasonable time.” At the end of 27 months of $95.99 payments, they would still not own the dog, which they named Tresor II. “I have never heard of leasing a dog in my life,” Anthony Claessens, 80, said. “We were under the understanding we were purchasing a dog… I feel that we were swindled.” The store, Oceanside Puppy, and finance company WAGS Financing of Reno, Nevada, say that’s not the case.
“We call it puppy payments, and you can make payments via lease or via traditional loan program,” said David Salinas, who owns the shop on Oceanside Boulevard. “Just like any other transaction, whether you buy a car or a puppy, or jewellery, the transaction is the same when you make a payment.” Salinas’s Oceanside store, and another in National City, offer four financing options. WAGS is just one of them. Salinas said 90 percent of his customers choose to finance the cost of their new pet, allowing them to take home a dog they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. “I think that’s very unfair that they are saying we are being fraudulent,” he said.
The Claessens were in the market for a dog because their previous bichon frise, which they had for seven years, had died. They could not afford to pay the $495 asking price for the dog at Oceanside Puppy, so they chose the financing option. After 27 months of payments, they could pay a $93.52 fee to end the lease or $187.04 to purchase the pet - “plus official fees and taxes.” According to the couple, no store employee mentioned that they were signing up for a lease rather than a purchase. Salinas said his employees do the best they can to explain the financing packages, but it’s the customer’s responsibility to read the terms. Claessens found himself back at the store less than 24 hours after taking the dog home on Nov. 13. He cancelled the contract.

Salinas said, “We will make it a point to educate our customers a little bit more about the financing options so there is no confusion. We are actually a very legitimate moral company. We knew there was a need for purebred puppies in the store. We do a wonderful job at being able to help customers afford puppies. We provide amazing puppies, not from puppy mills.” Claessens’ wife, Françoise, said she hopes no one else has to go through what the couple did. “It’s a lot of trauma. When you don’t have children at home, you look at that pet as a child. This is a bad, bad disappointment, and they hurt your emotions,” she said. “What they are doing is irresponsible.” The Claessens later went to a dog shelter and obtained another bichon frise, this one for free.
There's a copy of the leasing agreement here. (PDF doc.)

Animal Pictures