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


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

364 On the death of Jovian, a conference at Nicaea chooses Valentinan, an army officer who was born in the central European region of Pannania, to succeed him in Asia Minor.
1154 William the Bad succeeds his father, Roger the II, in Sicily.
1790 As a result of the Revolution, France is divided into 83 departments.
1815 Napoleon and 1,200 of his men leave Elba to start the 100-day re-conquest of France.
1848 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels publish The Communist Manifesto in London.
1871 France and Prussia sign a preliminary peace treaty at Versailles.
1901 Boxer Rebellion leaders Chi-Hsin and Hsu-Cheng-Yu are publicly executed in Peking.
1914 Russian aviator Igor Sikorsky carries 17 passengers in a twin engine plane in St. Petersburg.
1916 General Henri Philippe Petain takes command of the French forces at Verdun.
1917 President Wilson publicly asks congress for the power to arm merchant ships.
1924 U.S. steel industry finds claims an eight-hour day increases efficiency and employee relations.
1933 Ground is broken for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
1936 Japanese military troops march into Tokyo to conduct a coup and assassinate political leaders.
1941 British take the Somali capital in East Africa.
1943 U.S. Flying Fortresses and Liberators pound German docks and U-boat lairs at Wilhelmshaven.
1945 Syria declares war on Germany and Japan.
1951 The 22nd Amendment is added to the Constitution limiting the Presidency to two terms.
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson signs a tax bill with $11.5 billion in cuts.
1965 Norman Butler is arrested for the murder of Malcom X.
1968 Thirty-two African nations agree to boycott the Olympics because of the presence of South Africa.
1970 Five Marines are arrested on charges of murdering 11 South Vietnamese women and children.
1972 Soviets recover Luna 20 with a cargo of moon rocks.
1973 A publisher and 10 reporters are subpoenaed to testify on Watergate.
1990 Daniel Ortega, communist president of Nicaragua, suffers a shocking election defeat at the hands of Violeta Chamorro.
1993 A bomb rocks the World Trade Center in New York City. Five people are killed and hundreds suffer from smoke inhalation.

47 Alternatives to Wikipedia


Many internet users turn to Wikipedia as a quick reference when they're looking for an overview of information or a starting point to seek additional sources. The article linked below lists 47 other valuable online references for individuals looking for information. One can never have too many reference options to compare and use as bridges to additional sources.
Suggested resources include the Encyclopedia Smithsonian, a collection of all offerings from the Smithsonian Museum. The site consists of more than two million records with accompanying image, video and sound files, electronic journals and other museum resources.
Also suggested is HyperHistory, a database spanning 3000 years of world history, presented with interactive timelines, graphics and maps.
See the full list of 47 information sources to use as Wikipedia alternatives here.  

Connected Big Boys Access A Bottomless Pit Of Tax Credits

Upward
There’s a bill parked in the House Ways & Means Committee called the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Extension Act for 2015. Over at the Senate Chamber, a companion piece awaits introduction. The president likes NMTC; his budget and the legislation both call for NMTC to be made permanent. As is, it has been re-upped every two years since 2007.
NMTC, at its core, enriches rich folks. Even as the latest extension legislation snoozes in Ways and Means, connected opportunists are pursuing NMTC like lions stalk Springbok.
The program was called the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act when President Clinton signed it December 21, 2000. It was sort of a Clintonian Yellow Brick Road. Its purpose was to inject the spirit of economic development into communities that were statistically impoverished at the 25% level.
That’s supposedly still its purpose. A website called ‘Enterprise’ accurately defines NMTC’s logistics. NMTC is administered by the Treasury Department. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) awards allocation authority to Community Development Entities (CDEs). CDE’s, in turn, use the qualifying loan or equity investment in a project or business called a Qualified Active LOW-INCOME Community Business.
But the devil is in the details. As far as what you might have thought the bill stood for; fancy buildings and businesses with decent jobs in stressed neighborhoods, plus parks and recreation builds; well, there were just enough of those to claim a modest patina of legitimacy, but there were also projects that didn’t remotely qualify. The authors of the legislation were sneaky in their wording. Money was to go to COMMUNITIES that qualified under poverty guidelines, not necessarily into specific poor neighborhoods.
That was a welcome loophole enabling lenders to fiscally water projects that didn’t come close to meeting the intent of the bill. Fancy hotels, big Christian non-profits, questionable qualifiers that employed a single individual, but made money hand over fist, all won the day. And from 2003 to 2012, some 60 billion-loan dollars went to businesses, propped up by NMTC with half that total coming directly from NMTC-qualified money.
Now we get to the good part. The folks who actually made a killing in ancillary businesses and tax credits with what, on paper, was supposed to be a legit feel-good project. Of course, apologists and defenders of NMTC cite job numbers in the jillions with enormous growth everywhere. That’s interesting. In the nearest NMTC city in my home state of South Carolina, the average salary and poverty levels have barely budged since the decade of program involvement. Unemployment numbers fluctuate from time to time, but still exceed the national average.
Conversely, certain investors and banks have done fabulously well with investor tax credits of 39% over a 7-year period and great loan deals from banks that are gifted with a ridiculous 50% tax credit, the same reduction as some borrower’s costs. One bank in particular, headquartered in Canada, has captured most of South Carolina’s loan business.
New Market Tax Credit projects made up 42% of my nearby cities’ long-term debt according to their FY 2014 budget. NMTC transaction costs are roughly 15-20% of the Qualified Equity Investment (QEI). There are consulting firms (that have grown like kudzu on steroids since NMTC’s inception), the aforementioned CDE is either a domestic corporation or partnership with a 4% “allocation” fee (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). There are lawyers and consultants galore. The money has to flow from investors to the projects through CDE’s; then there’s something called a CDE AMF; another 5% skim.
The referenced Carolina city and its government feature a bunch of “Economic Development” groups; a city Economic Development Director, the Chamber, the Economic Futures Group, a community college, all with paid staff along with the City Attorney’s office. Can’t they do some of this stuff?
Let’s take an objective look at some of these projects for the “poor.” Wofford College is a good place to start. It’s a darn nice local center of higher education. The school population is around 1,600 students. A total of $15 million in loan tax credits was arranged. The loan funding (less the $15 mil for the feds) will build 20 dorm rooms, classrooms, a couple of places to eat and other stuff small colleges could use.
Wofford has an endowment approaching $200 million. Grants and gifts added another $67 million during a recent five-year period. And there’s always number one benefactor, former pro footballer and Hardees co-founder, Jerry Richardson. He owns the Carolina Panthers and brought their summer training camp facilities to his Alma Mater’s campus. Jerry’s worth about $1.1 billion and, I’m sure, would willingly part with a portion of that stash to fund anything the college really wants or needs. We hear there were 32 jobs created. That’s good. What were they? Short-term construction? Long-term, near-minimum wage dead-enders?
For our Baptist friends, there’s the $10 million in tax credits for investor/donors to the right-leaning Upward Star Center “Our Mission: Promote the Discovery of Jesus Through Sports”, AKA Upward Sports, AKA Upward Unlimited, the latter, the parent “non-profit.” A check of Upward Unlimited’s latest 2012 EO 990 numbers through Citizen Audit, shows the six top honchos making $134,682 – $271,700. From 2007-2011, this outfit has plumped up its bottom line to over $145 million. Nonetheless, Upward wants a 120,000 square foot sports complex/Sunday school and NMTC is going to make sure they get it.
Then there’s the work on a big, ‘ole fancy parking garage, including $15 million in three promissory notes with a ground lease of a buck a year for 22 years. The project is for the benefit of the USC Upstate Business School, an homage to a filthy rich local businessman whose name graces the facility. He could finance the garage out of pocket change. Then, of course, the state might want to kick in for a state institution. And like most NMTC projects, there’s a mind-boggling basket of hedging, swapping, exchanges, blended components, reserve accounts, pre-funding and an exorbitant $617,500 in “project management fees.”
Add some NMTC tax credit “investor” morsels for sprucing up a big ‘ole fancy hotel, plus a big ‘ole fancy building for a new school to train D.O.’s (Doctors of Osteopathy). Neither would appear to bring in a deluge or even a trickle of ongoing high-paying jobs.
And how about those project dollars flying over to the Airport Facilities Corporation? Now there’s a king-sized city payback that began in 2010 with interest only for 6 years, then principal and interest extending to February 16 of 2049. That’s only 39 years of local Hospitality tax money to repay whomever renovates and constructs a terminal and T-hangers, not to mention expanding office space, meeting rooms and the pilot’s lounge. And we all know how poor and needy pilots are. Permanent jobs? Not many!
The hospitality fee is an additional tax on local restaurant meals. The law states the proceeds can only go to projects that attract tourists. More dissembling of intent. No, for the most part, NMTC is a confusing numbers-spinning, big-boy game with little oversight or enforcement of the supporting legislation.
That’s my NMTC story, what’s yours?

The Truth Be Told

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Trapped Rat Bill O’Reilly Completely Cracks Up As He Threatens New York Times Reporter

bill o'reilly falklands
In an interview with the New York Times Monday evening, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly personally threatened a reporter over the paper’s coverage of the controversy surrounding O’Reilly’s claims that he was in a war zone when he covered protests in Buenos Aires in 1982. O’Reilly has found himself mired in a scandal after Mother Jones released a report Thursday accusing the host of embellishing stories of his work as a correspondent for CBS in the 1980s. Over the past few days, O’Reilly has resorted to personal attacks and insults to defend himself as former colleagues have come forward and confirmed that the former Inside Edition exaggerated or outright lied about his experiences.
During the broadcast of The O’Reilly Factor Monday night, O’Reilly aired footage that he obtained for CBS regarding a protest in Buenos Aires that he covered for the network in 1982. O’Reilly has long contended the protest, which occurred in the aftermath of the end of the Falklands War, constituted a combat or war zone and that he witnessed extreme violence, including multiple people killed. He’s also claimed over the years that a soldier pointed a machine gun right in his face — at times, he’s said it was multiple soldiers — and he also saved the life of an injured photographer.
On his Monday night show, he aired the clips and stated he was totally vindicated by the video evidence. He also brought on a former NBC bureau chief to defend him and agree that the Argentinian protest constituted a combat zone during a time of war. O’Reilly also said that he hoped this can all stop now and that everyone can move on.
Of course, airing the video really did nothing to refute any of the allegations made against O’Reilly, and while he found one reporter who backed up his claims of being in a dangerous war zone, there is a growing number of former CBS colleagues and other reporters who dispute his accounts. Both The Guardian and Mother Jones pointed out Monday evening that the video clips from CBS at the time do not back up O’Reilly’s claims that multiple people were shot and killed during the protests, that he saved the life of a seriously injured photographer or that he was personally threatened by a soldier. Nor does the video evidence suggest that O’Reilly was in what can be considered a combat zone in a war-torn country.
As stated before, the Fox commentator has used bombastic rhetoric over the past few days as a way to discredit and attack those who are disputing his record as a CBS correspondent. Generally, he’s called anyone who questions his ‘war’ coverage a “far-left zealot” (a term he used again Monday night) and has personally attacked Mother Jones’ David Corn and former CBS colleague Eric Engberg. O’Reilly even suggested that Corn needs to be placed in the “kill zone.” He used that bullying tactic again Monday night with a Times reporter who interviewed him over the scandal.
Below is from the Times’ article:
Mr. O’Reilly’s efforts to refute the claims by Mother Jones and some former CBS News colleagues occurred both on the air and off on Monday. During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter’s coverage was inappropriate. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.”
Times reporter Emily Steel confirmed on Twitter late Monday evening that she was the one that O’Reilly threatened. Even though Fox has noted that it has O’Reilly’s back during this controversy — a far cry from how NBC reacted to the Brian Williams fiasco — it appears that the Fox talking head is like a cornered rat and is lashing out in irrational and despicable ways. Seriously, threatening a reporter?

David Barton Lies That Lawsuit Which Did Not Take Place Proves He Doesn’t Lie

David Barton tried to refute his long history of lying by falsely claiming a lawsuit which never took place proves his innocence…
Barton_VotersSo pseudo-historian David Barton was accused of associating with white supremacists by a couple of Democratic opponents in Texas. He sued and won in December of last year. He says he didn’t know the groups he spoke to were white supremacist.
Fair enough. We have no choice but abide by the court’s ruling in that case.
But now Barton is falsely claiming in an email from his organization WallBuilders to his supporters, that his win somehow validates his dishonest portrayals of American history. The only thing is, his win wasn’t about history – it was about whether or not he was knowingly consorting with white supremacists.
Over the years, Barton has lied about any number of things. Just a few that I’ve covered here are his claim that the Due Process Clause comes from the Bible. It does not. It’s origins are to be found in Medieval England. The Brits are wrong: Jesus is not an Englishman.
Due Process is that which comports with the deepest notions of what is fair and right and just.”1 The content of due process is “a historical product”2 that traces all the way back to chapter 39 of Magna Carta, in which King John promised that “[n]o free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”3 The phrase “due process of law” first appeared in a statutory rendition of this chapter in 1354. “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”4
Then there is his lie that the Founding Fathers settled the Evolution debate – before there was a debate. The Founding Fathers didn’t so much as talk about Evolution, let alone decide it, because Jean-Baptiste Lamarck didn’t introduce the idea of evolution to the world until 1800, thirteen years after the United States Constitution – Barton’s touchstone – and the term biology wasn’t even coined until 1802 – again my Lamarck. Charles Darwin, the great promoter of the Theory of Evolution, was born in 1809 and did not publish his controversial “On the Origin of Species,” until 1859.
So, yeah…you do the math. Then do what Barton hasn’t done out of that great store of original documents he brags about: provide proof.
He has actually invented reasons the Founding Fathers supposedly did not grant women the vote. The problem is for Barton that the Founding Fathers did NOT decide the issue of women voting: they left it up to the states. This is what we call a lie.
He has also lied about who was burning whom at the stake back in the day. In saying that Christians were being burned at the stake, he “forgot” to mention that while this is true, the people burning them were also Christians. We call that a lie of omission.
So back to that email about how Barton never lies. He tells supporters to spread the Bartonian gospel far and wide, that everything he says is true, even as he lies about having proof of this:
When you see attacks against WallBuilders and David on Facebook, Twitter, in articles, comments, and so forth, please take a few minutes to enter your own rebuttal comments, even linking to the national articles reporting that the critics’ claims are false (e.g., David Barton Wins Million-Dollar Defamation Suit).
He goes on to claim that,
But the second lawsuit we won addressed the false claims that David’s works are widely discredited, that he is an admitted liar, that he makes up his history, etc.
Here are the facts Barton won’t give you: This second lawsuit was against a blogger, W.S. Smith, who rightly called Barton a liar. He even provided examples. So Barton, who makes a living calling other people liars, sued for being called a liar, and now is lying about the results of that lawsuit – which, as it happens, he did not win.
As Warren Throckmorton reported yesterday at Patheos,
“In fact, Parker County, TX records show that the suit against Smith was dismissed by Barton on April 18, 2012.”
Barton has now claimed that he won a second case; WND said the same thing. Where is the case? Who was involved? The Parker County records don’t support the narrative in Barton’s email or the WND article.
Oh dear. Isn’t that interesting? No lawsuit. No win. No vindication for David Barton.
A couple of side-notes here:
Interestingly, the very visible and outspoken Barton critic, Chris Rodda, research director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, was not sued, even though she actually invited Barton to sue her. It is worth noting here that Smith contacted Rodda, who published his response in an op-ed at The Huffington Post in 2011.
She is not alone among noted Barton opponents. Also not sued was Warren Throckmorton, co-author of a book refuting Barton’s book full of Jefferson lies. Nor was Rob Boston, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (au.org), who has called the lawsuit “the legal equivalent of a schoolyard bully’s shakedown.” Barton also did not sue Keith Olbermann, who interviewed Boston on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, back in 2010:
Boston, for the record, told Olbermann that “Barton is to history what the creationists are to science.”
All the respect in the world for Rob Boston, who has been writing about Barton since 1993, but that might be an understatement. David Barton has outdone himself here.
As Kyle Mantyla noted at Right Wing Watch, “But in typical Barton fashion, he was unable to even tell the truth about the results of his own defamation lawsuit.”
Ouch.
Finally, what follows in that email is, to me, the most critical. This is Barton’s “proof” of his own veracity:
(Makes up history? How ridiculous is this claim when WallBuilders owns one of America’s largest private collections of original Founding Era documents — more than 100,000 originals or copies of original documents from before 1812. In fact, we even footnote our historical email blasts!)
It is interesting, this theory that if you possess original documents, you cannot lie about them. You obviously can, since Barton penned an entire book of such lies, about Jefferson. Or that if you footnote your lies, your lies are suddenly not lies. But footnotes have no magical properties. They cannot transmute lies into fact.
The Blaze tells us that, “Barton said that he wanted supporters to know that his work is not comprised of ‘made-up stuff’ and that they have been able to rely on trustworthy history over the years.”
The problem is that his work is comprised of made-up stuff, and demonstrably so. And now, even his claims of proof that his stuff is not made up, are made up.
Let’s put this in simple terms:
David Barton lied that a lawsuit he himself dismissed, was ruled in his favor, and that as a result of this win which never actually took place, his lies are not really lies, but truths. Even though he is lying about the win he never had to prove he isn’t lying.
The verdict of history, if not the courts, is in: David Barton is a liar.

Another Republican Needs Remedial Lessons in Lady Parts

Oh no. A Republican tried to do biology again. This never goes well.
Lady PartsThis time it was Idaho state legislator Vito Barbieri, who sits on a committee considering a bill that would ban telemedicine abortions (where a woman video-chats with a doctor who prescribes medication to induce an abortion).  Barbieri had a question for a doctor testifying against the ban, and he had some…difficulties…with the basics of female anatomy.
He asked the doctor testifying if a woman could swallow a pill with a camera so her doctor could conduct a remote gynecological exam. In her vagina. With a camera. That she swallowed.
Here’s a (very) rough diagram for Rep. Barbieri to explain the problem with his plan. I drew it in crayon in the hopes that it would help him relate.
So unless Barbieri thinks doctors need to conduct rectal exams before they prescribe abortion medication, his suggestion is ignorant, offensive, and insane.
Needless to say, the bill still passed the committee, 13-4, because anti-choice Republicans are terrible.

An Oklahoma Legislator Wants to Ban Banning?

2MirrorMaze
And now, more from our ongoing coverage of the farce that Oklahoma has become. State legislators have proposed a bill that would ban local governments from banning oil and gas drilling in their city limits.
The ban-happy state has at last proposed a ban of the one thing we thought they could not ban: banning itself. Oklahoma has opened a wormhole in the baniverse. They’ve created banception.
The bill, proposed by Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Jeff Hickman, would hand over control of who decides where drilling takes place from local governments to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Hickman says he is doing it to protect Oklahoma’s economy, and that the state should be able to tap into any resources within state limits. “Minerals don’t stop under city limit boundaries,” he said.
But Democratic Rep. Cory Williams disagrees, saying the committee was swayed by, you guessed it, oil lobbyists. “There were no less than 30 to 35 oil lobbyists in that room. Our job is to represent the people who aren’t paid to be there and that’s our constituents.”
You would imagine that Oklahoma, which has suffered from a sudden spike in earthquakes that studies show is due to fracking, would see the negative effects that their current drilling policies have created.
Williams says his constituents “should have the ability to limit the intrusion into their lives that oil and gas gets to make.”
The bill has already made it through committee and will be considered by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. If it passes, the Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition says they will fight it on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
MirrorMaze
Oklahoma has been making national headlines lately for its bizarre bills seeking to ban things that most sensible outsiders would see as totally random, including hoodies, gays, and AP U.S. History classes.
To be clear, as an Oklahoman myself, I know firsthand that there are intelligent, amazing people like Rep. Cory Williams who, like me, are sick of rolling their eyes at their embarrassing government.
Perhaps the only ban that Oklahoma needs is a ban that bans banning.

Koch Brothers Needed a Scientist to Deny Climate Change — So They Bought One

KochThere is zero doubt that climate change is real, and that increased carbon pollution is the cause. To say it’s the overwhelming scientific consensus is to understate reality.
But every now and then a respected scientist pops up with a different theory. A great example is Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, an aeronautical engineer who works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He believes climate change is the result of variations in solar activity rather than humans pouring carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
Soon’s theory has made him the darling of conservative media (which often misidentifies him as an astrophysicist) and conservative politicians like Sen. James Inhofe, current chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. They point to Soon as evidence that there is a real controversy over what’s causing climate change.
extreme climate
But it turns out Soon’s research has been bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry — including the Koch brothers.
The New York Times reports that not only have corporations like Exxon and Southern Company Services — which owns many coal plants — paid for Soon’s research, but so have organizations with deep ties to the petroleum industry, like the American Petroleum Institute, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and Donors Trust, which funnels anonymous donors to conservative causes.
Corporate funding of scientific research isn’t unusual, but what’s different in this case is Soon’s direct acknowledgement that he would produce specific results for his funding. In his proposals for  funding, he referred to papers submitted to journals and testimony before Congress as “deliverables” — what his funders would get for their cash.
don't believe in climate changeJust as troublesome, Soon didn’t disclose his dependence on petrodollars to the journals where he published, a clear breach of the ethics governing scientific research. The journals are investigating, as are his employers at Harvard and the Smithsonian.
The media commonly cites the statistic that 97 percent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is a reality. Now we know where the the other 3 percent come from — the oil industry buys them off.

Non Sequitur

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Man awarded medal for foiling bank robbery in 2010 now accused of robbing a different bank

A man from Portland, Oregon, awarded a medal from the Portland Police Bureau five years ago for disarming a would-be bank robber now faces bank robbery charges of his own. Mark Rothwell was taken into custody shortly after the Wednesday afternoon robbery of Albina Community Bank, according to a federal complaint filed Thursday in US District Court. "It's me you want," the 49-year-old told arresting officers. Rothwell last crossed paths with Portland police in March 2010. He was one of two customers left inside a Chase branch inside the Hollywood Fred Meyer in Northeast Portland about five minutes before its 7pm closing.
The former Londoner had visited the bank to ask about exchange rates in anticipation of a trip back to England. A man walked in, pulled out a gun, which turned out to be a fake, and demanded cash. Seeing terror on the teller's face, Rothwell jumped at the man, knocked the gun away and held him down until police arrived. The following June, the Portland Police Bureau presented Rothwell with a Civilian Medal for Heroism for his actions. On Wednesday, the Albina teller told police that a man walked into the lobby carrying a gun in his right hand and said, "Give me all your cash," as he pointed the gun back and forth from one teller to another.
The tellers did as they were told, putting $15,703 in a "rope-cinched bag." One teller told Portland Detective Brett S. Hawkinson that the robber had a 2-inch cross tattoo on his neck, a 5 o'clock shadow and European accent. Hawkinson reviewed the surveillance video, which showed the suspect had not covered his face. Shortly after the robbery, police received information that the stolen cash was inside a running, unoccupied white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck nearby. The license plate on the truck was actually registered to a 2002 Audi sedan. Officer James West recovered a white bag containing a large quantity of cash, a black knitted cap, black gloves and a 9mm Beretta handgun
With the help of tracking dog, officers were led to a backyard of a home and confronted a man there. During the confrontation, another man identified as Mark Rothwell stepped out from behind the house. "It's me you want," Rothwell said, according to court documents. When Officer Scherise Hobbs asked him why, records show, Rothwell replied, "I just robbed the bank." Both tellers later identified Rothwell as the robber, and Hawkinson identified Rothwell as the suspect from the surveillance footage. "it appears to be an unfortunate turn of events in this man's life," said Sgt. Pete Simpson, a Portland police spokesman. Rothwell is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on Thursday.

Officials looking for meth lab found moonshine still instead

State probation officials in Florida searching a Plant City property for a meth lab instead found a moonshine still with a barrel of fermenting corn mash and strawberries, authorities said.
At 5:30pm on Thursday, Hillsborough County sheriff’s detectives and and state Department of Corrections officers responded to the home of Donnie Jones, to locate a meth lab, the sheriff’s office said.
The officials were were searching a shed on the property and found the still under an overhang, the sheriff’s office said. Detectives said they observed a red 50-gallon plastic barrel which contained corn mash and strawberries. Detectives said they also located a white plastic barrel with copper worm tubing.

Detectives found items to make methamphetamine but not an operational lab, the sheriff’s office said. Jones, 26, was arrested for violating probation on charges of resisting a law enforcement officer without violence, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Suspected thief found by police hiding in his mother's fridge

Police in Russia tracked down a suspected thief who had hidden in his mother's fridge. Eduard Bulgakov, 31, had been due to appear in court in Yekaterinburg, central Russia, but he did not turn up.
Judges issued an arrest warrant and officers turned up at his flat, only for his mother to claim she didn’t know where he was. Officers decided to wait outside in case he turned up, and after seeing a delivery man turn up with two large pizzas addressed to the woman who was supposedly on her own, they went back for a second look.
Police spokesman Kuzma Alekseeva said: "When officers and bailiffs went inside they could see that the pizzas had been eaten, and they doubted that the woman had done it on her own. So they searched the property, but could not find any sign of him."

The mother later became uncomfortable when police asked why she wasn’t putting the leftovers in the fridge. They opened the fridge door and found her son inside, shivering from the cold. Suspected thief Bulgakov was allowed to warm up and given a hot drink before being taken into custody.

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retrogasm:

Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner

Mysterious tunnel found near Canada sports venue

A sophisticated tunnel discovered near a major sporting venue and a university in Toronto,  but police tight-lipped about what its purpose might have been
A sophisticated tunnel has been discovered near a major sporting venue and a university in Toronto, reports said Monday, with Canada on edge over the threat of possible extremist attacks.
A municipal worker was walking through woods near York University and the Rexall Center last month when he spotted a piece of corrugated metal on the ground, lifted it up and found a passageway, the public broadcaster CBC said.
The tunnel was about seven meters (23 feet) long and 2.5 meters tall and was lit by an electric generator. The walls and ceilings had been reinforced and tools had been left inside.
Toronto is hosting the Pan American Games in July and the Rexall Center is one of the venues. The facility also hosts major tennis events.
National security officials have been alerted but there was no immediate suggestion the tunnel posed a threat, CBC said.
Authorities have now filled it in but police were tight-lipped about what its purpose might have been. CBC said authorities had ruled out the possibility of it being a drug lab.
Canadian authorities are on alert following two Islamist-influenced attacks last year that resulted in the deaths of two unarmed soldiers in Ottawa and Montreal.
And in a recent video the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgent group threatened Canada's massive West Edmonton Mall, along with a mall in the United States and a major shopping district in Britain.

Temporary Nazi tattoos removed from store after staff and management were told what they were

A store in Auckland, New Zealand, has removed Nazi temporary tattoos from its shelves after staff and management were advised what they represented.
No.1 Mart in Manukau said in a statement there would be a recall on the tattoo packets and they would be returned to the supplier. Both staff and management were previously "unaware of what the sign represented", the statement added.
Anthony Smith was shopping with his four-year-old daughter on Sunday when he came across the packet that included a Nazi-styled eagle perched over a swastika. He said his initial response was 'what the f***?'
"I had a look and yeah, it was an actual swastika with an eagle, next to peace signs weirdly enough." No.1 Mart thanked Smith for bringing it to their attention and apologized to all parents. "Our store stocks many products and it is not our aim to offend anyone."

Honeymooning man rescued after falling down 4,000-foot 'World's End' cliff while taking photo

A Dutch honeymooner has become the first person to survive a fall from the 4,000-foot World's End cliff in Sri Lanka. Mamitho Lendas, 35, was taking a photograph of his new bride when he took a step backwards and plunged off the cliff.
But rather than dropping to the bottom, his fall was broken by a tree about 130ft down the rock face. Sri Lankan army troops used ropes to reach him and winch him back to safety. Some 40 soldiers and a military helicopter were involved in the rescue.
"It was very scary and very painful as well," said Mr Lendas, who suffered no major injuries in the incident. "I was making pictures and I had a misstep and I fell down backwards. Then I sat in (a bush) for like three and a half hours... the longest three and a half hours of my life."

Sri Lankan army spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera said Mr Lendas was "extremely lucky" to survive. "He fell on top of a tree about 130ft from the top," he said. "He is the first person to survive a fall from World's End." The World's End cliff is the main attraction at the Horton Plains nature reserve in central Sri Lanka and is a key tourist attraction.

Tyrolean Night

Is the Ultimate Mountain Top Selfie
Austrian photographer Torsten Muehlbacher took this selfie to end all selfies.
The photo above, submitted to National Geographic Your Shot, depicts the photographer marveling at the night's sky in the Tyrolean Alps. Moonlight illuminates the snow-capped peaks of the Alpine mountain range. Muehlbacher wrote, "The guy on the pic is me ... I put my camera on a 25-second exposure and myself on a 25-second 'do not move.'"
View the larger image over at National Geographic.

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5 Pets Who Helped Solve Their Owners' Murders

Forensic science has come a long way in solving crimes, although murder remains unusually difficult do to the lack of cooperation from the victims. Investigators have to keep an open mind in order to find clues wherever they may be, including evidence from the deceased’s pets. In one particular case, that meant the victim’s cockatoo.
Texas native Kevin Butler was such a fan of NBA great Larry Bird that he ignored the potential redundancy and named his pet cockatoo after him. Friends said Bird was very devoted to Butler, and when Butler’s home was broken into in 2001, Bird tried to fend off his owner's murderers before he was mortally wounded himself. One of them, Daniel Torres, denied involvement until prosecutors presented evidence linking the DNA recovered from Bird’s beak to Torres. He received life in prison. Bird, just 18 inches tall, was heralded as “valiant” during the trial.
There are four other tales of crime-solving pets in this roundup at mental_floss. Not all of them had to die to solve the crime.

Tiny pony given periscope so he can see out of his stable

Children in Brixton, London, have come up with a clever solution to help Pedro the pony see over his stable door.
Pedro the Shetland Pony moved into the Ebony Horse Club a year ago but they only had full sized stables to house him in.
At just over a meter tall, Pedro can't see over his stable door. A group of school children were invited to come up with a solution. Building a new stable was too expensive, so the team came up with a clever idea.

They designed The Pedroscope, a periscope, which uses mirrors to let Pedro peek over the stable door. The club is now trying to raise money to build Pedro a new Pedro-sized stable.

Dramatic start to life for kiwi chick still inside egg that survived close encounter with 13-ton digger

A kiwi chick called Whisker has had a dramatic start to life after its burrow was run over by a 13-ton digger in a remote part of New Zealand's North Island. Whisker, named because he only survived his ordeal by a whisker, is now safe and well at Rainbow Springs' Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua. The accident sparked a massive community effort to save the unhatched chick.
Whinray Kiwi Trust volunteer Steve Sawyer said the kiwi chick's adventure began when the digger hit its burrow prompting the adult male kiwi which was incubating the egg to run for his life. Land owner Clive Lewis then spotted the egg at the side of the road, Sawyer said. "He was very surprised to hear a squawk and to see a partially hatched kiwi chick. Clive then carefully placed the egg down his (woollen) top to keep it warm and drove 3 kilometers back to his house to call me."
Lewis then drove into town and handed the chick to local woman and conservation enthusiast Amy England, who assembled a makeshift incubator, plucked her 4-year-old son from daycare and set off on the four-and-a half-hour drive north to the Kiwi Encounter conservation center in Rotorua. "Not only did Amy have to ensure that the egg was secured safely in the car and remained at a constant temperature of between 26 and 30 degrees [Celsius] she also had to entertain her son Cael for the long journey," Sawyer said.
Kiwi Encounter's assistant husbandry manager, Emma Bean, said the chick had survived the ordeal well. "When the chick arrived it had a lot of soil around its navel and needed a bit of a clean up, but apart from that it managed to complete the hatch itself and is strong and healthy." Whisker will be released into a Kiwi "crèche" near Gisborne in about three weeks. Once it reaches 1kg and is strong enough to survive in the wild, it will be released at Whinray Scenic Reserve.

Baby Chameleon Emerging from His Egg

The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska is now the home of 7 baby Carpet Chameleons who were born between January 12 and February 12. The species is native to Madagascar and is among the smallest chameleon species in the world. At this stage, they're really small. Each baby weighs about as much as 4 toothpicks!
You can see more photos at Zooborns.

Dolphins Swam into Mediterranean 18,000 Years Ago

Once too salty to harbor much marine life, bottlenose dolphins moved into the sea at the end of the last ice age, a new study finds. 

Butterfly Swarm


National Geographic offers a larger version of this image as a downloadable computer wallpaper. Steffen Reichle's incredible shot shows a swarm of butterflies in the Tucavaca Valley Municipal Reserve, a wildlife protection area in Chiquitos Province.









Endangered Species Watch

With only about 30 left, the amur leopard is on the brink of disappearing, due to loss of habitat forcing them to live in closer proximity to people.

Hippo Ancestry

An ancestral study of the hippo reveals that a wide variety of animals share distant relations with the mammal.

Rarest Cat Doubles in Population

Things are looking up for the world's rarest cat, whose population has doubled in number over the past decade. 

Animal Pictures