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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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You have a certain strongly held opinion, and no amount of contrary evidence or persuasive argument is going to sway you today.
You are following your own compass, and you'll have little (if any) use for outside information.
This is wonderful if you are focusing on personal matters and choices right now, but not so useful if you have to work for a larger group cause.
Being stubborn can be beneficial, but ignoring facts and committing a group of people to your personal agenda is not.

 Some of our readers today have been in:
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Riyadh, Ar Riyad, Saudi Arabia
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Red Deer, Alberta, CAnada
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Cologne, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Delhi, Delhi, India
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Bandung, Jawa Barat, Indonesia
Quezon, City, Manila, Philippines
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Georgetown, Demerara-Mahaica, Guyana
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
San Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador
Seoul, Kyonggi-Do, Korea
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brussels, Brussels, Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgium
Newbury, England, United kingdom
Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Gloucester, England, United Kingdom
Morini, Morini, Comoros
Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Cork, Cork, Ireland
Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Jankoping, Jankopings Lan, Sweden
London, England, United Kingdom

as well as Slovakia, Malta, Bulgaria, Israel, Finland, Austria, Norway, Georgia, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, Tibet, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Paraguay, Sudan, Vietnam, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Maldives, Qatar, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland

and in cities across the United States such as Locust Dale, Kalamazoo, Kill Devil Hills, Beaverdam, Canyon Country, Mandeville, Tamarac, St. Clair Shores, Olyphant, Paducah and more!

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, November 23, the 327th day of 2011.
There are 38 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Dr. Who Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Wondrous Wednesday


If you watch Faux News you’re less informed than not watching any news at all

Quick, were Egyptian protesters successful in their bid to overthrow longtime president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year?

According to a new poll (PDF) from Fairleigh Dickinson University, if you watch Faux News you are significantly less likely to know the correct answer to that question than if you mostly avoid news shows and newspapers all together.

After controlling for factors like partisanship, education, and other demographic factors, the pollsters found that Faux New viewers were 18 points less likely to know that the revolt was successful than their non-active news consuming counterparts. Faux News viewers were also 6 points less likely to know that the Syrian uprising has yet to succeed.

Did you know ...

Obama's re-election looks more and more likely.

Oh, why are we not surprised? Banking De-regulation worsens economic crises.

More proof of CEO greed.

And meanwhile, Corrente Wire discusses psycopathy as a preferred corporate executive trait.

Ex-CEO of AIG Now Wants $25 Billion For His Troubles

Remember AIG, the insurance company that had to be bailed out to the tune of $182 billion, the biggest federal bailout in US history?
Well, Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the ex-CEO of AIG is back, and this time he wants $25 billion for his troubles:
Former American International Group CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg thinks he got a raw deal, and he wants the government to pay up. Greenberg filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims asserting that the government bailout and takeover of the insurance giant was an unconstitutional seizure of private property, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Greenberg's Starr International Co., which used to be AIG's biggest stakeholder, is seeking $25 billion in damages, based on the value of the 80 percent stake in AIG the government took after providing it with an $182 billion bailout.
Raw deal, eh?

Protester gives note to Obama

The Occupy movement interrupts a Barack Obama speech, and afterward a member slips him a note.

Attorney Rick Kammen will defend Saudi accused in USS Cole attack

Gained His Rep By Defending Adult Book Stores

In a 40-year law career, Richard Kammen has stood before judges and juries to defend people accused of despicable crimes.

He's represented a teenage boy suspected of killing a pregnant 16-year-old girl, a woman convicted of running a baby adoption scam and a former state trooper accused of cold-bloodedly murdering his wife and children.

Along the way, he's built a national reputation for defending people facing execution for their crimes. As recently as last year, he persuaded a jury to spare the life of a man convicted of gunning down an armored truck employee during a heist.

But the 65-year-old Kammen, known to colleagues as "Rick," may be facing his biggest challenge yet: He's the lead attorney for the accused terrorist charged in the planning and preparation for the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000, a bombing that killed 17 sailors and wounded several dozen others.

Abd al-Rahim Hussein Mohammed Al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia is scheduled to stand trial in November 2012 in a military court at Guantanamo Bay, where he's being held with dozens of other suspected terrorists.

Many people and even some lawyers might recoil from having contact with someone associated with such evil. To Kammen, it's simply about seeing humans rather than crimes.

"I think you have to see people as more than the worst thing they've ever done," Kammen said.

"I have seen people who have certainly been accused of doing horrific things, but who have shown tremendous courage and tremendous grace and really some sensitivity. I think people are more complex than how we want to simplify them."

Kammen first gained notoriety in the 1970s and 1980s in Indianapolis for successfully defending the First Amendment rights of shops to sell adult materials. Since the 1980s, he's become one of the most prominent lawyers in death-penalty cases. In 35 cases in which he was lead attorney, none of his clients has been sentenced to death.

He was a public defender during his first case. Ed Robert Anderson was charged with murdering two people during a robbery spree in Indianapolis in 1977. He was found not guilty of both murders in 1983, though the jury convicted him of attempted murder, three counts of armed robbery and criminal confinement.

Now Kammen is a go-to guy in federal cases. But nearly 25 years ago, he got the job simply by meeting a few qualifications. When Congress passed a capital punishment statute in 1988, officials began looking for defense attorneys with experience in federal court who had defended clients in local death-penalty cases. And, Kammen says, a willingness to travel was a must.

"There really weren't very many of us at that time who fit the mold," he said.

Criminal attorneys who defend clients accused of the most heinous crimes, legal experts say, must set aside their feelings.

"When you have a client you on a personal level might find morally reprehensible," said Fran Watson, a law professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, "you have to be skilled at setting aside your personal judgments. You are representing a client within the construct of the law and ethics, and once you step into that box, if you find you can't handle it, you have to get out."

Former drug pusher Steve Keller was touched when Kammen treated him with respect and honesty. Keller, 42, pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy to possess and distribute 215 pounds of marijuana in a drug-trafficking case. He served a couple of years in prison instead of the 40 he faced.

Keller remembers that every sentence Kammen uttered in court was carefully crafted to deliver the most impact. But the attention to detail stood out the most.

"He knew everything about me in a short period of time -- seven days," Keller said. "I don't have a clue how, to this day."

And one more thing. Kammen hired Keller's daughter -- a student at IUPUI -- this year as a summer intern. A teenager in high school in 2007, she had mentioned she was interested in attending college. Kammen told her to look him up if that happened.

"He's an exceptional man and an exceptional attorney," Keller said. "He's not what I expected, because of the tags attorneys have."

But prosecutors tell a different story.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman won't forget the unpleasant feeling he'd get when Kammen walked into a courtroom. Indianapolis has its share of hard-nosed lawyers -- James Voyles, Robert Hammerle, Monica Foster -- but Newman says Kammen is in a class of his own.

The highly competitive Kammen is not the type to have a drink with prosecutors at the end of the day. He doesn't chat during court recesses and doesn't make small talk in the courthouse hallways.

Newman does recall one conversation in 1986, his first year as a deputy prosecutor. Kammen told him exactly how he was going to beat him -- and then he did it.

"He is very good, he is very thorough, and he is no fun to deal with," Newman said, adding, "It was like knowing you were going to have a colonoscopy."

Kammen has been known to stand during prosecutors' arguments in court, hands in pockets, head bowed to the floor, shoulders rocking gently with silent, mocking laughter.

"It's very disconcerting," said Newman.

Kammen's peers say he's cordial enough -- until he's in court. Standing before a jury and judge, he's confrontational, accusatory, intimidating. He peppers police officers and prosecutors with sharp questions to cast doubt on how they've investigated his clients.

"The world according to Rick," Newman said, "is like this: The defendant may or may not be a terrorist, a child molester or a murderer. But so what? We know for sure that the prosecutor is a scoundrel and a reprobate, not to be trusted!"

Those tactics appear to influence juries. In a three-month federal trial last year in Detroit, Kammen persuaded a jury to spare convicted killer Tim O'Reilly's life. During a heist, O'Reilly shot armored car employee Norman Stephens in the back, killing him, after he was already wounded and on the ground.

O'Reilly reportedly showed no remorse in the years since, and boasted he would beat the charges.

Despite pressure from prosecutors and Stephens' family, the jury gave O'Reilly life without parole instead of lethal injection. Kammen wove the picture of a man who was the product of a bad childhood and easily manipulated by cohorts in the crime.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts presided over that trial, and she noted Kammen's expertise at jury selection and his thorough understanding of the case.

"Mr. Kammen, I thought, was incredibly skilled during the jury selection process in trying to . . . find out what made them tick, whether they were compassionate, empathetic, whether they could stomach the testimony they were going to hear, whether they would regard his client as a human being even though he is accused of crimes that are quite heinous."

Voyles, a prominent Indianapolis criminal attorney, said lawyers enjoy the challenge presented by high-profile cases. And death-penalty cases, he said, have different stakes.

"Success in Rick's cases is to save the guy's life," Voyles said. "Some people say that's not much, but yes, it is, if it's your life on the line."

But none of Kammen's clients has been charged with doing anything more horrific than Al-Nashiri, the accused terrorist.

The Department of Defense appointed Kammen to defend Al-Nashiri at trial this year. Kammen had represented Al-Nashiri since 2008 at the request of the John Adams Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. The project provided death-penalty-qualified lawyers to assist military lawyers in representing high-value detainees.

Al-Nashiri, 46, is accused of coordinating the suicide bombing of the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, while it was refueling in Aden, Yemen. Two men boarded a small boat laden with explosives and rammed the warship, blowing a 30-foot-by-30-foot hole in its side.

He's also implicated in planning a failed strike on USS The Sullivans in Aden in January 2000 and of an attack on a French oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden in 2002.

He has been in U.S. custody for nine years at Guantanamo Bay and other CIA "black sites," where he has been waterboarded and subjected to mock executions. The case of Al-Nashiri, who appeared in public for the first time at a hearing Nov. 9, is the first death-penalty case to be tried in a military commission under President Barack Obama.

"The allegations are that he was a lieutenant to Osama bin Laden," Kammen said. "We don't have discovery yet, so I don't really know what evidence the government has."

And what of Al-Nashiri?

"I'm not allowed to discuss anything he has told me," Kammen said, "but he is certainly a person with feelings and a heart. We tend to see people in terms of black and white. . . . This is not a one-dimensional person."

Kammen says he's being sincere. After spending endless hours with defendants, he says, he gets to know them as people.

"In the end," Kammen says, "you're helping people. Sometimes you're helping people through the worst times of their lives. Sometimes you're helping people through situations where there really is no good resolution."

New 'revolution' rocks Egypt

Crowds battle riot police as startling claims surface about the army generals who took over after Mubarak.

Americans arrested in Egypt

The students are shown on television after allegedly throwing firebombs at police.  

Lady arrested for kneeing police officer in the groin

'Drunk' driver Michelle Watson gives thumbs-up in mugshot after arrest
While being jailed may not be most people's idea of a top night out, one woman wasn't going to let the small matter of an arrest ruin her fun.

Meet Michelle Watson. The 24-year-old motorist had an eventful on Thursday evening in Prescott, Arizona.

Watson was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and “DUI-super extreme.”

'Six degrees' theory modified

A study of Facebook data shows the actual "degrees of separation" between people is even lower. 

Bosses who should be fired

Watch out if your manager acts like a petulant, narcissistic child with an oversized ego.

Sunniest places to retire

These balmy locations offer loads of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities.  

Hidden benefits of gratitude

Children who are truly grateful are happier and more satisfied with their lives, experts say.



Edison Vs. Westinghouse

A Shocking Rivalry
More than a century ago Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse engaged in a nasty battle over alternating and direct current, known as the 'War of Currents.'

Both men knew there was room for but one American electricity system, and Edison set out to ruin Westinghouse in 'a great political, legal and marketing game' that saw the famous inventor stage publicity events where dogs, horses and even an elephant were killed using Westinghouse's alternating current.

Products better old than new

Old-fashioned sewing machines and vintage audio equipment can outperform new models.  

Volkswagen Bus Makes A Comeback In The Netherlands

The Volkswagen Type 2, officially known as the Transporter or Kombi, informally as Bus or Camper, was a panel van introduced in 1950 by German automaker Volkswagen. To Europeans and Americans the Volkswagen Bus is a distant memory of days gone by. Once commonly used as every day transportation for all walks of life, the Bus has been sent to the vast pantheon of automotive history.

In Latin America the story is different, because Brazil still makes them. The Bus' popularity and desirability in Europe and the fact that they are still coming out brand new in Brazil created a magnificent opportunity for Volkswagen's Dutch operations and as of last month, the Bus is available as a 2012 model.

Goo on highway disables cars

Hundreds of Pennsylvania drivers get a rude surprise when their cars are mired in a weird sludge.  

Highway sign history

There have been many tweaks, including the color of stop signs and a shift away from 'men.'

Random Photos


Google, Sony, Others Advertising on Softporn Sites

More major brands have been caught buying online ad space on soft porn sites as pressure mounts on Google to declare its hand on the commercial use of this content across its online advertising network.

Google has also been using such websites to promote free trial advertising offers, sharing the same pages with ANZ savings accounts, ANZ business credit cards and GE Money ads – all these campaigns have appeared in the past week. They join Westpac, Coles and Sony who have also been advertising in online environments packed full of nudity, partly as a result of the push by major corporates to demand cheap online inventory through non-premium websites.

Westpac and Sony immediately withdrew parts of their online advertising schedules last week after AdNews presented screenshots of their brands placed in online environments bursting with raunchy and unusual pictures.

Telstra and HSBC were also found to be advertising on a file-sharing site which could facilitate illegal content downloading. Although TVLinks was compliant with standards from the Internet Advertising Standards House (iAsh), the ad network responsible for the site, Adconion, pulled it from its list immediately.

The ongoing appearance of major brands on these sites is escalating as media agencies realize it may not just be due to rogue operators or an occasional glitch. Google has gone to ground on some issues but media agencies are pressing the online giant.

“Google sets the benchmark and standards and is an influential player in the market,” UM chief executive Mat Baxter said.

“You expect them to get it right. If it’s true and Google is not getting it right, it brings more gravitas to the issue for the whole market.”

The managing director of ANZ’s online buying agency emitch, Matthew Crook, said the company was investigating and expected compensation for ANZ.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it right now,” Crook told AdNews.

“We are speaking to all our major ad network partners. I’m in discussions with Google. They guarantee all their sites are iAsh compliant and that these sorts of sites will not be utilized. We’re going through the process of who is responsible and seeking adequate compensation.”

Google would not comment at the time of publishing about its own advertising policy which has seen it use sites called “Plunder Media” – with sections which include “Plunder Girls” and “Top 20 Japanese Girls” - to promote “a $75 free Google advertising trial”. These are the sites which ANZ and GE Money have appeared on with Google.

It did release a statement minutes from publishing: "Google understands that brand protection is, and always has been, critical for the industry and for online marketers. We are laser-focused on creating a safe environment and give ad buyers granular control over the sites to which they target ads - for example they can exclude specific sites, all anonymous sites, categories they do not want to appear on, or they can limit their ads to top 1000 sites. We don't comment on specific sites, but if a site violates our policies about inappropriate content, whether intentional or not, we take quick action and stop serving ads to that site." The company would not elaborate.

The chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Paul Fisher, said the industry body had already started the process of establishing a set of standards covering this area but it did highlight the decision advertisers must make between low price and transparency in their online advertising schedules.

“The reality is should agencies being buying on sites for clients if they don’t know where that inventory is going to fall?” Fisher said.

“Blind ad networks have a place in the ecosystem but the reality is if you are concerned about your brand needing 100% transparency on where your inventory falls, it might not be right. If you were just looking for cheap inventory and a degree of risk then blind networks would be ok. The industry needs to put some best practice around this. We’ve found some standards from the US and UK and we’re looking at localizing them.”

The 25 worst passwords

If you see any of your passwords on this list, stop reading and go change it immediately.  

In the Future, Bionic Contact Lenses Will Let You Keep up with Your Twitter Stream through Your Eyeballs

If there’s one big problem with the Internet, it’s that you can’t be on it all day, every day, without interruption. No, sometimes you must take your eyes away from the screen. Those are sad times, but they will soon be in the past. Researchers have made progress toward interactive contact lens displays. Here’s the future envisioned by the developers:
They envisage hundreds more pixels could be embedded in the flexible lens to produce complex holographic images.
For example, drivers could wear them to see journey directions or their vehicle’s speed projected onto the windscreen.
Similarly, the lenses could take the virtual world of video gaming to a new level.

Washington, D.C. as It Might Have Been

John Diamond’s 1792 design for the Capitol was topped with a weathercock. Jim Allegro and Doug Michels wanted to build the National Sofa across the street from the White House so that hundreds of people could watch the President on an enormous television. John Russell Pope proposed that the Lincoln Memorial take the form of a step pyramid. Throughout the history of Washington, D.C., architects have proposed both grand and eccentric building ideas. View a slideshow at the link of some of these that were thankfully never built.

Thirty-three Haunting Black And White Photos Of Japan's Ghost Island

Urban decay has never looked so beautifully eerie. Hashima, or Gunkanshima was a former coal mining community established in 1887. The mine was shut down in 1974 and the city abandoned. Now it has a new nickname: Ghost Island.

The Katskhi Pillar

In the Seventh Century, monks built a monastery on the top of a natural stone pillar outside of Chiatura, Georgia. It was used by the Stylites — Christian ascetics who lived on top of pillars to express their devotion. That sect is now extinct, but the monastery is still there. Visitors get to the top by climbing a 130 foot ladder.

Awesome Pictures


Search on for missing pony with pink mane and tail

She's kind of hard to miss -- a pony with a pink mane and tail. That's why it's so hard to understand how a valley woman's pony went missing in the night. Siri Cole runs a unique business, Charming Party Ponies in Queen Creek, Arizona. She owns petite little ponies, available for rent at parties and festivals.

Pixie is a 10-year-old white Welsh pony mare, Cole's prized possession. "I love her, she's really dear to me," she says. "I really want her back." Pixie performed on Saturday night at a festival offering rides to children. She was put away in her stall about 9 p.m. The next morning, she was nowhere to be found.

"The clip had fallen down, so I tied it with a rope instead. And I came out and this was open." Cole says Pixie would've had to get through 3 gates on her own - so she's afraid someone took her.

While she's worried about work and fulfilling contract obligations, she's most concerned about her beloved Pixie. "She needs to be fed, she needs water, she needs to be treated with kindness. I just want her to be taken care of."

African Tuber: A Root Cause of Famine

African Tuber: A Root Cause of Famine
Like Ireland's potato in the 19th century, African cassava is under attack from a disease that may put poor farmers at risk to famine.

Crabby Road


'Dry-brining' your turkey

A food editor promises that this method is the "simplest possible technique" for a succulent bird.  



Dozens of rabbits found along Colorado roadside

Animal advocates are trying to find out why someone apparently left dozens of rabbits along a road in Colorado Springs.

Feds seize 881-pound fish

A Massachusetts man was thrilled at the incredible find in his nets — until federal agents turned up. 

Salmon put in strange place

The fish find themselves trying to make it across a Washington road after heavy rain hits the area.

Octopus Notices Humans, Menacingly Crawls onto the Land

(Video Link)
The octopus crawled out of the sea and deposited a crab in front of the humans. YouTube user tuantube thinks that this was a friendly gesture. It wasn’t. Like a cat leaving a dead mouse before you, it’s a simple message that expresses “You’re next.”

How a dog can cost you $5,000

When Terry Mulligan's pug got cancer, she spent a small fortune to try to save her dog.  

Animal Pictures