Welcome to ...

The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Daily Drift

When things don't go as planned ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 203 countries around the world daily.   
Over the fence ... !
Today is  - Grass Is Always Browner On The Other Side Of The Fence Day

You want the unvarnished truth?
Don't forget to visit:The Truth Be Told

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, Brazil
Quebec, Canada
Bogota, Colombia
San Benito, Guatemala
Kingston, Jamaica
Navojoa and Tlalnepantla, Mexico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Bottom, Sint Eustatius-Saba
Alpharetta, Empire, Ferndale, Garrison, Gilbert, Manti, Ocala, Ontario, Paducah, Pasadena, Pullman, Whittier, Woodstock and Yarmouth, United States
Merida, Venezuela
Brussels, Belgium
Glavinitsa and Sofia, Bulgaria
Hradec, Prague and Stare Mesto, Czech Republic
London, Manchester and Pool, England
Kruessaare, Estonia
Aalen, Berlin, Eschborn and Reutlingen, Germany
Athens and Piraeus, Greece
Reykjavik, Iceland
Milan, Palermo, Ravenna and Rome, Italy
Riga, Latvia
Chisinau, Moldova
Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Netherlands
Lisbon, Portugal
Iasi, Romania
Krasnodar, Moscow, Ryazan and Saint Petersburg, Russia
Ljubjana, Slovenia
Madrid and Valencia, Spain
Kista, Sweden
Baar, Switzerland
Ankara, Turkey
Kiev, Ukraine
Swansea, Wales
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Beijing, China
Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Calicut, Mumbai, Pitampura and Trichur, India
Jakarta and Malang, Indonesia
Esfahan and Tehran, Iran
Bayan Lepas, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kulim and Tawau, Malaysia
Karachi, Pakistan
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Hanoi, Vietnam
Damietta, Egypt
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Cape Town and Durban, South Africa
The Pacific
Brisbane, Perth and Surry Hills, Australia
Don't forget to visit our sister blogs Here and Here.

Today in History

1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sign a decree expelling all Jews from Spain.
1840 "Beau" Brummell, the English dandy and former favorite of the prince regent, dies in a French lunatic asylum for paupers.
1858 Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia patents the pencil with an eraser attached on one end.
1867 Russian Baron Stoeckl and U.S. Secretary of State Seward completed the draft of a treaty ceding Alaska to the United States. The treaty is signed the following day.
1870 The 15th amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race, passes.
1870 President U.S. Grant signs bill readmitting Texas to the Union, the last Confederate state readmitted.
1885 In Afghanistan, Russian troops inflict a crushing defeat on Afghan forces Ak Teppe despite orders not to fight.
1909 The Queensboro Bridge in New York opens. It is the first double decker bridge and links Manhattan and Queens.
1916 Mexican bandit Pancho Villa kills 172 at the Guerrero garrison in Mexico.
1936 Britain announces a naval construction program of 38 warships. This is the largest construction program in 15 years.
1941 The German Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel begins its first offensive against British forces in Libya.
1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration, Oklahoma, opens on Broadway.
1944 The U.S. fleet attacks Palau, near the Philippines.
1945 The Red Army advances into Austria.
1946 The Allies seize 1,000 Nazis attempting to revive the Nazi party in Frankfurt.
1950 President Harry S Truman denounces Senator Joe McCarthy as a saboteur of U.S. foreign policy.
1957 Tunisia and Morocco sign a friendship treaty in Rabat.
1972 Hanoi launches its heaviest attack in four years, crossing the DMZ.
1975 As the North Vietnamese forces move toward Saigon, desperate South Vietnamese soldiers mob rescue jets.
1981 President Ronald Reagan is shot and wounded in Washington, D.C. by John W. Hinkley Jr.
1987 Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers is bought for $39.85 million.

9 Things Many Americans Just Don’t Grasp (Compared to the Rest of the World)

Americans' lack of worldliness clouds their views on everything from economics to sex to religion.
To hear the wingnut ideologues of Fox News and AM talk radio tell it, life in Europe is hell on Earth. Taxes are high, sexual promiscuity prevails, universal healthcare doesn’t work, and millions of people don’t even speak English as their primary language! Those who run around screaming about “American exceptionalism” often condemn countries like France, Norway and Switzerland to justify their jingoism. Sadly, the U.S.’ economic deterioration means that many Americans simply cannot afford a trip abroad to see how those countries function for themselves. And often, lack of foreign travel means accepting clichés about the rest of the world over the reality. And that lack of worldliness clouds many Americans' views on everything from economics to sex to religion. 
Here are nine things Americans can learn from the rest of the world.
1. Universal Healthcare Is Great for Free Enterprise and Great for Small Businesses
The modern-day Republican Party would have us believe that those who promote universal healthcare are anti-free enterprise or hostile to small businesses. But truth be told, universal healthcare is great for entrepreneurs, small businesses and the self-employed in France, Germany and other developed countries where healthcare is considered a right. The U.S.’ troubled healthcare system has a long history of punishing entrepreneurs with sky-high premiums when they start their own businesses. Prior to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, many small business owners couldn’t even obtain individual health insurance plans if they had a preexisting condition such as heart disease or diabetes—and even with the ACA’s reforms, the high cost of health insurance is still daunting to small business owners. But many Americans fail to realize that healthcare reform is not only a humanitarian issue, it is also vitally important to small businesses and the self-employed.  
In 2009, the Center for Economic and Policy Research published a study on small businesses around the world and found that “by every measure of small-business employment, the United States has among the world’s smallest small-business sectors.” People in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium and other European countries are more likely to be self-employed—and the study concluded that universal healthcare is a key factor. According to CEPR’s study, “High healthcare costs discourage small business formation since start-ups in other countries can tap into government-funded healthcare systems.”
2. Comprehensive Sex Education Decreases Sexual Problems
For decades, social conservatives in the U.S. have insisted that comprehensive sex education promotes unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. But in fact, comprehensive sex education (as opposed to the abstinence-only programs that are common in the American Bible Belt) decreases sexual problems, and the data bears that out in no uncertain terms. Public schools in the Netherlands have aggressive sex education programs that America’s Christian Right would despise. Yet in 2009, the Netherlands had (according to the United Nations) a teen birth rate of only 5.3 per 1,000 compared to 39.1 per 1,000 in the U.S. That same year, the U.S. had three times as many adults living with HIV or AIDS as the Netherlands.
Switzerland, France, Germany and many other European countries also have intensive sex-ed programs and much lower teen pregnancy rates than the U.S. Still, far-right politicians in the U.S. can’t get it through their heads that inadequate sex education and insufficient sexual knowledge actually promote teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases instead of decreasing them.    
3. American Exceptionalism Is Absolute Nonsense in 2015
No matter how severe the U.S.’ decline becomes, neocons and the teabaggers continue to espouse their belief in “American exceptionalism.” But in many respects, the U.S. of 2015 is far from exceptional. The U.S. is not exceptional when it comes to civil liberties (no country in the world incarcerates, per capita, more of its people than the U.S.) or healthcare (WHO ranks the U.S. #37 in terms of healthcare). Nor is the U.S. a leader in terms of life expectancy: according to the WHO, overall life expectancy in the U.S. in 2013 was 79 compared to 83 in Switzerland and Japan, 82 in Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada and 81 in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Austria and Finland. 
4. Adequate Mass Transit Is a Huge Convenience
When it comes to mass transit, Europe and Japan are way ahead of the U.S.; in only a handful of American cities is it easy to function without a car. New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC are among the U.S.’ more mass transit-oriented cities, but overall, the U.S. remains a car culture—and public transportation is painfully limited in a long list of U.S. cities. Many Americans fail to realize that mass transit has numerous advantages, including less air pollution, less congestion, fewer DUIs and all the aerobic exercise that goes with living in a pedestrian-friendly environment.
5. The bible Was Not Written by Billionaire Hedge Fund Managers
Christianity in its various forms can be found all over the developed world. But the U.S., more than anywhere, is where one finds a far-right version of white Protestant fundamentalism that idolizes the ultra-rich, demonizes the poor and equates extreme wealth with morality and poverty with moral failings. The problem with hating the poor in the name of Christianity is that the Bible is full of quotes that are much more in line with Franklin Delano Roosevelt than Ayn Rand—like “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25) and “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).   
6. Learning a Second or Third Language Is a Plus, Not a Character Flaw
In the Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries, becoming proficient in two or three foreign languages is viewed as a sign of intellect and sophistication. But xenophobia runs so deep among many neocons, Republicans and Tea Party wingnuts that any use of a language other than English terrifies them. Barack Obama, during his 2008 campaign, was bombarded with hateful responses from Republicans when he recommended that Americans study foreign languages from an early age. And in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Newt Gingrich’s campaign ran an ad in South Carolina attacking Mitt Romney for being proficient in French.
In February, an eighth-grade girl who was studying Latin in Vermont received equally clueless responses when she wrote to a state senator suggesting that Vermont adopt a Latin motto in addition to its English-language motto (not as a replacement). The wingnuts went ballistic, posting on the Facebook page of a local television station that if the girl wanted to speak Latin, she should move to Latin America. 
7. Union Membership Benefits the Economy
In 2014, a Gallup poll found that 53% of Americans approved of labor unions while 71% favored anti-union “right to work” laws. Union membership is way down in the U.S.: only 6.6% of private-sector workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, belonged to unions in 2014 compared to roughly 35% in the mid-1950s. The U.S.’ overall unionization rate (factoring in both public-sector and private-sector workers) is 11.1%, which is quite a contrast to parts of Europe, where overall union rates range from 74% in Finland and 70% in Sweden to 35% in Italy, 19% in Spain and 18% in Germany. That is not to say unionization has not been decreasing in Europe, but overall, one finds a more pro-labor, pro-working class outlook in Europe. The fact that 47% of Americans, in that Gallup poll, consider themselves anti-union is troubling. Too many Americans naively believe that the 1% have their best interests at heart, and they fail to realize that when unions are strong and their members earn decent wages, that money goes back into the economy.
8. Paid Maternity Leave Is the Norm in Most Developed Countries
The U.S. continues to lag behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to maternity leave. Paid maternity leave is strictly voluntary in the U.S., where, according to the organization Moms Rising, 51% of new mothers have no paid maternity leave at all. But government-mandated maternity leave is the norm in other developed countries, including the Netherlands (112 days at 100% pay), Italy (140 days at 80% pay), Switzerland (98 days at 80% pay) and Germany (98 days at 100% pay).
9. Distrust of Oligarchy Is a Positive
In February, the Emnid Polling Institute in Germany released the results of a poll that addressed economic and political conditions in that country: over 60% of the Germans surveyed believed that large corporations had too much influence on elections. ThE survey demonstrated that most Germans have a healthy distrust of crony capitalists and oligarchs who take much more than they give. Meanwhile, in the U.S., various polls show a growing distrust of oligarchy on the part of many Americans but with less vehemence than in the German Emnid poll. A 2012 poll by the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that while 62% of American voters opposed the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, only 46% strongly opposed it. And in a 2012 poll by the Corporate Reform Coalition, most Americans agreed that there was too much corporate money in U.S. politics—although only 51% strongly agreed.

Life-sized elephant sculpture made from crashed cars aims to help save lives in Western Australia

A life-sized elephant made from the parts of crashed cars has been erected as part of a campaign to get people talking about high road fatality rates in Western Australia's country areas. The brightly colored sculpture, named The Elephant in the Wheatbelt, is currently in a wheat field on the outskirts of the Wheatbelt town of Northam and is being moved around different towns in the region by the RAC WA.
The motorists' association said the elephant was a symbol of the "silence" around road safety issues in the area. According to WA's Office of Road Safety, there were 105 deaths in the state's regional areas in 2014 and 79 in Perth. In the Wheatbelt, there were 2,155 people killed or seriously injured in the 10 years between 2004 and 2013. The RAC said it hoped to dispel myths about road safety such as most crashes happening at night time and only involving people visiting the area.
"What we want is for the community to start that conversation wherever they may be, in the sporting clubs, in the halls, in the pubs, in their lounge rooms, we want people talking about road trauma in the Wheatbelt," RAC general manager for corporate affairs Will Golsby said. "Attitudes, deliberate driver choices such as speed and drink driving, inattention and fatigue are major factors," Mr Golsby added. He said last year more than one person died on WA roads every two days.

Mr Goldsby said people needed to start taking responsibility for their safety, and check the star safety rating on cars they buy. "We know that you're twice as likely to be seriously injured or killed in a one-star car over a five-star car," he said. He said statistics from last year show one in three Wheatbelt road victims was not wearing a seatbelt, and more than 70 per cent of fatalities were single vehicle run-offs. The elephant has already turned heads in Merredin, Narrogin and is currently in Northam and will continue to make its way around the Wheatbelt.

Back from the Brink

Spain Emerges as Model for Europe
by Christoph Pauly
Back from the Brink: Spain Emerges as Model for Europe
After years of being one of Europe's shakiest economies, Spain has managed to institute strict reforms and bring back economic growth. But job numbers and research funding lag behind -- and the country's greatest challenge may be a political one.  More...

Caliphate Under Pressure

Is Islamic State in Trouble in Iraq?
by Susanne Koelbl and Christoph Reuter
Caliphate Under Pressure: Is Islamic State in Trouble in Iraq?
Islamic State is pulling out of once-conquered towns and villages in Iraq and dissatisfaction appears to be growing among its followers. Predictions of the jihadists' demise, however, are likely premature.  More...

Changing who you are ...

Wingnuts Refuse To Believe Germanwings Pilot Wasn’t Muslim Terrorist With Laughable Results

Conservatives Refuse To Believe Germanwings Pilot Wasn’t Muslim Terrorist With Laughable Results
Wingnuts are struggling to prove Germanwings pilot suspected of intentionally flying plane into ground was “secret” muslim and the results are really, really sad.

School Forces Boy With Disabilities To Remove Letter Jacket After Parent Complains He Didn’t ‘Earn’ It

School Forces Boy With Disabilities To Remove Letter Jacket After Parent Complains He Didn’t ‘Earn’ ItWhen the adults are behaving more immaturely than the students, that should be a major warning sign.

Country Music Is So Homophobic That Stations Banned A Song That Just Kinda Sorta Seems Gay

Country Music Is So Homophobic That Stations Banned A Song That Just Kinda Sorta Seems Gay (VIDEO)
The song is beautiful and haunting, but it’s not about a gay relationship, and what if it was?
OK, so a country 'music' song cannot be beautiful, much less haunting, but that is what the newscopy says.

City Councilman Beaten, Wrongfully Arrested By NYPD During Occupy Wall Street Wins $30k Settlement

(Image courtesy of Flickr) It’s more than three years down the line and Occupy Wall Street is still winning in court. According to Gothamist, a New York City Councilmember was...

Cop Indicted

‘So You Are Going To Shoot Me?’

Photo of Cameron Redus, the college student who was shot by Cpl. Chris Carter: The Redus Family/San Antonio Current. In December 2013 a campus cop, shot honor student Cameron Redus dead in front of his Alamo Heights, Texas apartment at around 2:00 in the morning.

No Murder Charges For Colorado Woman Who Cut Fetus From Womb, Focus Is On Brutal Assault Of Mother

Photo from Wilkins' family via GoFundMe.
Colorado has its attention on the right subject — the harm done to the mother in this a vicious assault.

Taxi driver presses charges after drunk would-be bank robber failed to settle fare

Stanley Geddie arrived by taxi and was drunk during an attempted heist of a bank in Tallahassee, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon, police say. The 46-year-old was arrested on charges of robbery, petty theft and resisting an officer after demanding $100,000 from a bank manager at the Capital City Bank on Capital Circle Northwest. Geddie told the manager he had a .357 handgun, was carrying C4 plastic explosives and “would blow this place up,” court records show.
Police arrived at the bank to find the cab driver, who advised them Geddie was drunk and had not paid his $25.50 fare. The driver told police Geddie said, “I will take care of you when I come out.” When police made contact with Geddie sitting in the manager’s office, he appeared “very intoxicated and spaced out,” according to court records.
Geddie did not follow officers’ commands and was tasered during the incident. Court records say that when police told him he would be shot if he made any sudden movements, he said “well then kill me.” He was arrested without further incident. A search revealed Geddie did not have a firearm or explosives. In an interview with police, the bank manager said Geddie indicated he also had the bank surrounded while continuing to demand the money.
Tellers alerted police to the robbery after the manager closed his office door with Geddie inside and they became concerned. While being treated for Taser wounds at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, Geddie indicated he had on two pairs of pants so he could remove one after the robbery to appear not to be the suspect. The cab driver told police he wanted to press charges for the unpaid fare, which resulted in the petty theft charge.

More Bad News From Antarctica

More Bad News From Antarctica: Study Shows Increase In Ice Shelf ThinningNot only is the ice cover in Antarctica receding, it is also thinning more rapidly than previously believed.

Man stole tortoise to fund his heroin habit

A man stole a £300 tortoise from a pet shop before selling it on to fund his heroin habit. The 37-year-old Lee Pemberton was caught on CCTV cameras at Glovers Tropical Fish & Water Garden Center in Stoke-on-Trent taking the reptile from a vivarium. North Staffordshire Justice Center heard a customer warned the shop assistant there was a man in the store who smelt of alcohol. Steve Knowles, prosecuting, said: "The assistant went to where the defendant had been seen and was asked if he was okay. Pemberton told him 'Yes don't worry'.
"But when the assistant went to investigate he found the locking bar to the vivarium was not on and the animal was missing." The court heard the CCTV footage was reviewed which showed Pemberton taking the tortoise. Mr Knowles said that when the defendant was interviewed he told police he could not recall the incident but admitted he must have sold the animal to fund his drug habit. Pemberton, of Stoke, pleaded guilty to stealing the tortoise. He also admitted possession of heroin and two offences of possessing class B drugs.
Lee Yates, mitigating, said his client had pleaded guilty to the offenses at the first time of asking. He added: "Mr Pemberton has been hospitalized due to health problems concerning his drug addiction. He is receiving help for his addiction." Magistrates jailed Pemberton for 18 weeks but suspended the sentence for 12 months because drug treatment had started. He was also ordered to pay £300 compensation, £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge. But Elizabeth Johnson, who works at Glovers, said the defendant should have been sent to prison.
She added that the staff will still concerned for the tortoise's welfare. She said: "It's all been very strange, and we still don't know where the tortoise has gone. The police said we can claim for the money, but it's not about the money, it's the animal's welfare. We've no idea if they were keeping it well, but it's expensive to keep a tortoise in the right condition, so we're very worried. To steal an animal you know you can't look after just for money is absolutely disgusting. He could have killed him. The sentence is way too low, he should have been sent to prison."

Dog which had plastic container stuck on his head for three weeks rescued by residents

A wayward black Labrador is alive, thanks in no small part to three southern Minnesota residents who captured the scared animal and pulled a plastic container off his head. Katherine Nelson of Madison Lake says that she, her husband Don and their friend Sue Leach of St. Peter had been trying to capture the lab, who they nicknamed Jughead, for three days after hearing he had been spotted running around a North Mankato park with the container on his head, unable to eat and drink.
Police said he had been stuck in the plastic container for three weeks, and the Nelsons and Leach feared that he would not last much longer. Nelson says they set a live trap with food in it, but that strategy didn't work. Finally, on Wednesday morning they went to check the trap and saw dog tracks in the newly fallen snow. They followed the tracks to a brush-filled swampy area, and saw that the dog was sleeping.
Don Nelson crept up on him so the dog wouldn't wake, then scooped him up. The lab struggled to get away for a short time, but didn't have the strength to resist. They loaded him up in their van and took the tired dog to Minnesota Valley Pet Hospital. "He didn't have much time left," Katherine Nelson said of the emaciated pooch. "Someone would have walked up and found him dead." The dog finally managed to wiggle free of the container while the Nelsons were unloading him at the vet.
Katherine describes his condition as dire, but says the folks at Minnesota Valley Pet Hospital are doing a great job, and are donating their services to nurse the starving lab back to health. She says he has soulful brown eyes, and is handsome if shockingly skinny. When he is ready for discharge the dog will live at the Nelson's farm near Madison Lake so he can be socialized with their dogs and allowed to completely recover. At that time they will help find a great home for him, one with a fenced in yard as police reports suggest that the dog may have been on his own for a year or more.

Primordial sea creature with spiky claws unearthed in Canada

by Will Dunham
A freshly excavated fossil specimen of Yawunik kootenayi is seen in this undated handout picture
A freshly excavated fossil specimen of Yawunik kootenayi is seen in this undated handout picture 
A fossil site in the Canadian Rockies that provides a wondrous peek into life on Earth more than half a billion years ago has offered up the remains of an intriguing sea creature, a four-eyed arthropod predator that wielded a pair of spiky claws.
Scientists said on Friday they unearthed nicely preserved fossils in British Columbia of the 508 million-year-old animal, named Yawunik kootenayi, that looked like a big shrimp with a bad attitude and was one of the largest predators of its time.
Including its claws, Yawunik measured about 9 inches (22.5 cm) long. That may not sound impressive, but most creatures at the time were much smaller.
The fossil beds in Kootenay National Park where it was found were in a previously unexplored area of the Burgess Shale rock formation that for more than a century has yielded exceptional remains from the Cambrian Period, when many of the major animal groups first appeared.
Yawunik, whose name honors a mythical sea monster in the native Ktunaxa people's creation story, was a primitive arthropod, the highly successful group that includes shrimps, lobsters, crabs, insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes.
A capable swimmer and active predator, it possessed rows of spikes along its large frontal claws, a highly developed sensory system comprised of two pairs of eyes and elaborate antennae, and a body divided into 17 segments.
"The new fossils show clearly that these primitive arthropods were sophisticated, fearsome predators," said paleontologist Robert Gaines of California's Pomona College. "Our vertebrate ancestors had not yet developed bones or jaws, and remained humble bottom feeders."
Cédric Aria, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, said more than a hundred Yawunik fossils have been unearthed.
"You could indeed say that it looks like a big shrimp whose antennae would also be made of large claws," Aria said, whose research appeared in the journal Palaeontology.
Two large grasping appendages at the front of the head were capable of a wide range of backward-forward motion. The spikes on its claws helped it grasp prey.
Elaborate antennae on these appendages allowed it to sense its environment, perhaps not only by feel but by detection of chemical traces, effectively smelling.
"I've been working with Burgess Shale-type fossils in the field for 15 years, and Yawunik is without a doubt the most exciting and the most beautiful fossil I have ever seen come out of the ground," Gaines added.

Animal Pictures