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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Daily Drift

Some of our readers today have been in:
Cape Coast, Ghana
Canberra, Australia
Mugla, Turkey
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Ampang, Malaysia
Vilseck, Germany
Jakarta, Indonesia
Athens, Greece
Leeds, England
Makati, Philippines
Lahore, Pakistan
Kiev, Ukraine
Lodz, Poland
Cape Town, South Africa
Durres, Albania
Sampaloc, Philippines
Imphal, India
Belgrade, Serbia
Tbilisi, Georgia
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Lille, France
Vienna, Austria
London, England
Rue, France
Fermont, Canada
Johannesburg, South Africa
Paris, France
Riga, Latvia
Novi Sad, Serbia
Kuching, Malaysia

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Today in History

1517   Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg in Germany. Luther's theories and writings inaugurate Protestantism, shattering the external structure of the medieval church and at the same time reviving the religious consciousness of Europe.
1803   Congress ratifies the purchase of the entire Louisiana area in North America, adding territory to the U.S. which will eventually become 13 more states.
1838   A mob of about 200 attacks a Mormon camp in Missouri, killing 20 men, women and children.
1864   Nevada becomes the 36th state.
1941   After 14 years of work, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is completed.
1952   The United States explodes the first hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
1968   The bombing of North Vietnam is halted by the United States.
1971   Saigon begins the release of 1,938 Hanoi POW's.
1984   Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated in New Delhi by two Sikh members of her bodyguard.

Non Sequitur



Also called Samhuinn (Scottish Gaelic)
Sauin (Manx Gaelic)
Observed by Historically: Gaels
Today: Irish people, Scottish people, Manx people, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans
Type Cultural,
Pagan (Celtic polytheism, Celtic Neopaganism, Wicca)
Significance End of the harvest season, beginning of winter
Date Sunset 31 October – sunset 1 November (N. Hemisphere)
Sunset 30 April – sunset 1 May (S. Hemisphere)
Celebrations Bonfires, guising, divination, apple bobbing, feasting
Related to Halloween, Hop-tu-Naa, Calan Gaeaf, Kalan Gwav, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day
Samhain (play /ˈsɑːwɪn/, /ˈs.ɪn/, or /ˈsn/),[1]—sometimes Anglicized as Sawin, Sowin, or similar—is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the 'darker half' of the year. Most commonly it is held on 31 October–1 November, or halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh it makes up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. It was observed in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).
Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them, as at Beltane. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[2] Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the 'door' to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which is thought to have led to the custom of guising. Divination was also done at Samhain.
It was popularized as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer.[3] It has been linked with All Saints' Day (and later All Souls' Day) since the 9th century, when the date of that holiday was shifted to 1 November. Both have strongly influenced the secular customs of Halloween.[4]
Samhain is still celebrated as a cultural festival by some (though it has mostly been replaced by Halloween) and, since the 20th century, has been celebrated as a religious festival by Celtic neopagans and Wiccans.[5] Neopagans in the southern hemisphere often celebrate Samhain at the other end of the year (~30 April–1 May).

A Worldwide Celebration Of Halloween

Halloween is still largely considered to be an American holiday, but more and more countries are joining in on the spooky sweet fun each year, and it seems like Halloween may one day be a holiday that the entire world celebrates together. Here's an overview of how Halloween is celebrated worldwide.

Did you know ...

The Samhain Edition

That nothing's spookier than abandoned mortuaries

That zombies very popular for this year's costumes

About London's ghoulish legacy: grave-robbing for scientific study

and be sure to get your H.P. Lovecraft action figure!

Are there clinical explanations for vampires, zombies or werewolves?

When people don’t understand how something works, they often come up with their own explanations. For example, when ancient societies ...
Continue Reading

Weekly portions of oily fish — but not supplements — can help ward off stroke

Weekly portions of oily fish — but not supplements — can help ward off strokeEating at least two servings of oily fish a week is moderately but significantly associated with a reduced risk of ...
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Lucy the Elephant 1881 novelty house survived Sandy

Elephanttttt Todd Lappin reports:
Monday night, tropical story Sandy made landfall approximately 5 miles southwest of Atlantic City, NJ. That means Sandy came ashore in Margate, NJ, on the exact site of Lucy the Elephant -- a charming 19th century house built in the shape of a gigantic circus elephant. Lucy has survived the ravages of time for more than 120 years, but she sits just a block off the beach in Margate, so things did not look good for the old girl when Sandy struck. Tuesday morning, however, Patrick Armstrong took a photo of the site which revealed that Lucy the Elephant survived — and more or less intact. Incredible.


How New Yorkers reacted to Sandy

The shrub’s FEMA Director During Katrina Criticizes Obama For Responding To Sandy Too Quickly

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown offered criticism of President Obama’s early responses to Hurricane Sandy yesterday, including a dig at the administration’s response to last month’s attack in Libya.
Yesterday, ahead of the storm’s pummeling of the eastern seaboard, Brown gave an interview to the local alternative paper, the Denver Westword, on how he believed the Obama administration was responding to Sandy too quickly and that Obama had spoken to the press about Sandy’s potential effect too early.
Brown turned then to a reliable wingnut attack on the President’s response to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that killed four Americans:
“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”
Wingnuts have been hitting Obama for weeks on his attendance at a fundraiser in Nevada following the assault in Benghazi, claiming at alternate times that the President either cared more about politics than lives lost or that he was trying to downplay the attack’s significance. Now the critique has mutated into a belief that Obama is currently “playing President” to score points during disaster relief in the run-up to the election, in contrast to his actions in September.
Brown is not the only one making the insinuation that Obama and his administration are responding too quickly to Sandy only for political reasons. He’s joined in his accusations by such prominent right-wing commentators as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and columnist Charles Krauthammer.
However, Brown’s comments carry a special irony due to the role he played during the Hurricane Katrina debacle in 2005. As director of FEMA during the legendarily botched response, Brown, famously dubbed “Brownie” by the shrub, was in the center of criticism from both sides of the aisle that the Bush administration was too slow to respond. An internal review by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector-General following the disaster concluded, “Much of the criticism is warranted.” Brown resigned from his position as director less than two weeks after Katrina hit.

The truth be told

Romney bought $5k of food for people to “donate” back to him at phony “hurricane” rally

You See Victims, Romney Smells “Opportunity”

It IS Paul Ryan and the soup kitchen!

From McKay Coppins at Buzzfeed:
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)
Romney phony relief event for Hurricane Sandy
Distributing birther-inspired anti-Obama t-shirts
at the “non-partisan” rally.
Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.
Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”
No relief for you!
We’ve all been through it before. Grandma’s getting old. Mom goes and buys grandma’s Christmas gifts, or maybe mom even gives you a 20 and tells you to buy yourself something from grandma, then wrap it up for Christmas eve – and make sure you look surprised when you unwrap your gift in front of grandma!
And that’s okay, because grandma’s 90 years old and has a hard time getting around.
What’s Mitt Romney’s excuse?

Team Romney Admits “Relief” Event Was Staged for Political Reasons

I also found this part of the story fascinating. The Romney campaign admits that the intent behind the rally was swing state election visibility, not hurricane relief:
But Boston wasn’t quite ready to lose a full day of swing state visibility with a week left in the race. So, after some deliberation, the campaign decided to use their existing venue in Ohio to stage a makeshift, and nonpartisan, humanitarian project. It would be a way for Romney to show leadership — and get on the local news — without looking craven or opportunistic.
They weren’t willing to lose a day’s visibility in a swing state, so they came up with the event and crafted it in a way that would still get them political benefit, but would camouflage the intent.  So, as I predicted, Team Romney saw Hurricane Sandy – saw the imminent peril of tens of millions of Americans – as a political “opportunity” to exploit.

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.

And as the reports from the rally prove, Romney’s “relief event” was a lot of partisan politics, and not much relief.
And keep mind, the Red Cross doesn’t want these “donations.”  The Red Cross specifically says on its Web site NOT to give it donations of goods.  It needs money and blood donations.  When people send goods, it requires staff time to go through, distribute them, etc – time that is better spent working on more efficient means of helping disaster victims.  And I quote from the Red Cross Web site:
Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel.

It’s the “Chinese Jeeps” of Charity Events!

Mitt Romney spent $5,000 on a political stunt when he should have simply donated the $5,000 to the Red Cross. But had he donated the money, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good a PR event, and remember, with Mitt Romney, it’s not about helping people – it’s about fueling his ambition.
Need more proof? Jennyjinx on Twitter just noted the following:
@aravosis Why couldn’t Romney have asked his supporters to write a check or plop money in a can?
The Romney people decided that you “had” to have food in hand in hand to donate, or they wouldn’t let you in.  But if you didn’t have any food, they’d give you some food they bought – food the Red Cross doesn’t want.  Why didn’t the Romney people at the very least ask people who didn’t bring food to write a check, or donate cash?  They could have a laptop sitting there with a connection to the Internet, and people could have donated to the Red Cross via the Red Cross’ own Web site.  But they didn’t.  Because this event wasn’t about helping the Red Cross or Hurricane Sandy’s victims.
How long until Romney voters try to destroy this charity as well?  Then again, by intentionally impeding the Red Cross’ hurricane relief work, they’re already off to a good start.
PS Compare Romney’s made-for-TV stunt with what President Obama did when visiting FEMA HQ this morning:

No TV cameras allowed.  But, what – you say – the President isn’t trying to make hurricane relief a partisan media spectacle of opportunity?  Clearly, un-American.

Red Cross had to divert staff to deal with Romney’s phony “relief effort”

Please Ignore the Black Man on the T-shirts
As we warned earlier, because the Romney campaign preferred a political stunt to actually helping Hurricane Sandy victims, the Red Cross is now busy wasting valuable resources processing donations from the Romney campaign that its own Web site admits it does not want.
As you’ll recall, Mitt Romney, after promising not to campaign today, campaigned anyway.  And to add insult to injury, he used the pretense of Hurricane Sandy to hold campaign events wrapped in a cloak of “storm relief.”
Not surprisingly, Romney then turned his “relief” events today into what the campaign called “victory rallies,” including a Romney campaign propaganda video and the distribution of t-shirts saying “Obama, You’re Fired!”

Here is a tweet from CNN’s Jonathan Karl:
Note that that woman must have gotten that
Obama t-shirt at the non-partisan disaster relief rally.
So it’s abundantly clear what kind of non-partisan event this was.  In fact, Mitt Romney used the suffering of millions of Americans as a shield to fend off criticism that this was a political event.  But it was a political event, as countless reporters attested.  (And it was more than a shield.  He used people.  He used their suffering to advance his own ambition. And he got caught.)

Here’s Something You Said You Don’t Want, Hope You Like It

The other way that Romney attempted to camouflage his campaign event as a “relief effort” was by, yet again, asking people to bring donations of supplies that the Red Cross has said repeatedly it does not want, and in fact, they’ve said it will impede hurricane relief efforts.
And I quote from the Red Cross Web site:
Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel.
And that’s what happened as a result of Mitt Romney’s little hurricane stunt earlier today. We learn via a tweet from CNN’s Jim Acosta that the Red Cross is now having to spend staff time dealing with the collected food and other items the Romney campaign gathered today:
Red Cross Romney
From CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta.
Here’s the longer Red Cross statement. Read it, then let’s talk about the criticism of Romney buried between the lines:
“The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the campaign to process this donation of supplies,” the statement read. “We are grateful that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have also encouraged the public to send financial donations to the Red Cross. We encourage individuals who want to help to consider making a financial donation or making an appointment to give blood.”
Note that last line: “We encourage individuals who want to help to consider making a financial donation or making an appointment to give blood.”  That’s the equivalent of your grandma saying “thank you so much for the inflatable Elvis doll, honey, and I encourage anyone else wanting to get me a birthday gift next year to try something I can actually use.”

Forget About You, What About Me?

The Red Cross outright told anyone else doing what Romney did today, to collect financial donations or blood – not supplies.  It was a subtle rebuke to the Romney campaign, and an effort by the Red Cross to undo the damage Romney has already done in sending the message to the American people that the Red Cross needs us to donate food, when they don’t, and it will actually hurt their relief efforts by diverting necessary manpower.
And that is exactly what happened today, now that the Red Cross is having to “work with the Romney campaign to process this donation of supplies,” instead of focusing on the actual victims of Hurricane Sandy who need their help in the eastern United States.

This repugican congressman: Hurricane Sandy aid shouldn't go to "Gucci bags and massage parlors"

Christ, what an asshole. Congressman Steve King, a repugican from Iowa (a state that has long benefited from a shit-ton of federal funds and tax breaks) said Tuesday federal aid for people whose homes and lives were trashed by Hurricane Sandy should include restrictions against using aid "Gucci bags and massage parlors."
Quoth the douche, "I want to get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this water and the sand and the ashes and the death that's over there in the East Coast and especially in the Northeast."
"But not one big shot to just open up the checkbook," he later added, "because they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of in addition to what was necessary," he said, referring to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

This repugican House hopeful mum on campaign manager’s incendiary, false tweets about Hurricane Sandy

Chris Wight For Congress Owes New Yorkers an Apology
There were a lot of amazing tweets during the night about the increasingly dire situation in New York City during the height of Hurricane Sandy, including some extraordinary photos of the damage.
But several of the most inflammatory tweets that went viral, and were used by newsrooms, were a lie.
Buzzfeed’s Jack Stuef discovered that they were posted Shashank Tripathi, a man working as campaign manager for repugican US House candidate Chris Wight, who’s running against Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York’s 12th congressional district, which includes parts of Manhattan that were flooded by Hurricane Sandy.  According to some reports, Tripathi is Wight’s campaign manager.
Stuef is also a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney, and claims to have organized phone banks for Romney in New York.
A sample of the things Tripathi wrote last night (Buzzfeed has many more):

That’s some pretty incendiary stuff.

Not a Word From Wight About Hoax

So it’s odd that wannabe congressman Chris Wight hasn’t said boo about his staffer trying to incite mass panic in New York last night during a national disaster.
Wight replaced Tripathi as campaign manager with someone else today, but Wight’s statement says absolutely nothing about the scandal committed by own campaign manager.  Not an acknowledgement, not even an apology.
You’d think Chris Wight would issue a statement apologizing to the people of New York, who he hopes to represent.  After all, the hoax was played on his own to-be constituents (should he win).  They deserve an answer.
What’s particularly odd is that Chris Wight replaced
Was this about trying to harm Democrats?  Was it about trying to influence the election in some way?  Did Chris Wight know that his campaign manager was orchestrating this charade?
We don’t know because Chris Wight isn’t talking.
Maybe time he did.

Ann Romney hates public education

She wants the whole "thing" dismantled. yet another Romney "let them eat cake" moment.

Ann Romney told Good Housekeeping magazine that the campaign issue closest to her heart is taking on teachers unions and dismantling public education as we know it. - More

Obama's Army of Election lawyers are being dispatched all over the country

Obama's reelection campaign, openly concerned that repugicans will try to block
Democratic voters, is offering legal help to voters who see problems.

The president today said that the campaign has enlisted an army of lawyers to clear hurdles away

for his supporters, saying, "If people have problems voting, we can solve those problems.
We've got lawyers all across the country."

Urging supporters to vote early
, he said that voters should contact his campaign if they are prevented
from voting.  "If you vote early and you see that problem, we've got time to fix it," he said.

Democrats are worried that repugicans will block minorities and the poor at the polls.


Two thoughts:
It's nice to see Obama acting like he ain't no bandleader.

Bring your camera when you vote. If some repugi-thugs try to stop you,
   record it, upload it to Youtube and then send the link to everyone you know

The repugican's nasty campaign tactics: Phony voting instructions

With a week to go until Election Day, the nasty campaign tactics are coming out.People in Florida, Virginia and Indiana have gotten calls falsely telling them they can vote early by phone and don't need to go to a polling place. In suburban Broward County, Fla., a handful of elderly voters who requested absentee ballots say they were visited by unknown people claiming to be authorized to collect the ballots.
And there's a mysterious DVD popping up in mailboxes that purports to be a documentary raising questions about the true identity of President Barack Obama's father.
It's one more indication of just how close this presidential election is. Voting rights advocates say reports of political deception and underhandedness are on the rise.
"Unfortunately it seems like the shadowy individuals that want to prevent people from voting are doing things earlier," said Eric Marshall, legal mobilization manager at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The organization is part of a coalition called Election Protection that is monitoring voting access and rights nationwide, including a toll-free hotline set up to take complaints.
"Each American's vote matters. It's important to them and it's important to the community," Marshall said.
Indiana's secretary of state launched an investigation of the phony voting instructions being phoned to homes in that state, and Virginia officials issued a warning to voters there asking them to report any such calls.
In the Broward County, Fla., case, elderly voters "were told, 'I'm an official and I'm here to pick up your absentee ballot,'" said Alma Gonzalez, a senior Florida Democratic Party official working on voter protection efforts. "There is no official who picks up your ballot."
In addition to those cases, garish billboards warning that voter fraud is a crime punishable by jail time and fines were put up in minority neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin. They were recently taken down amid complaints they were aimed at intimidating African-American and Latino voters. The people behind the billboards have not come forward.
"It's hard to believe that these were just public service announcements," Marshall said. "Those neighborhoods were specifically targeted."
"It doesn't pass the smell test."
Independent Florida voter Jane Bowman smelled something bad, too, when she recently discovered a DVD in her mailbox questioning the identity of Obama's father.
"I think it's just a dirty trick. It just astonished me," said Bowman, a Jacksonville resident who says she plans to vote for Obama as she did four years ago. "I think they're doing everything they can to win Florida. It's a sorry situation."
The DVD's director, who says he has mailed some 7 million copies to homes in swing states, says that he is unaffiliated with political campaigns or their supporters and that the film reflects his own painstaking research into Obama's family background.
The DVD, "Dreams from My Real Father," posits that the president's true father was a communist agitator, author and poet living in Hawaii named Frank Marshall Davis — not the Kenyan man who shares the president's name. Both men are now dead.
The title is a reference to Obama's book about his family history. That book does mention a poet named "Frank" who was a friend of Obama's maternal grandfather.
In an interview, DVD director Joel Gilbert described himself as a nonpartisan independent who seeks only to tell what he views as an extremely important story. Gilbert said he did not coordinate distribution of the DVD with any political entity and also took no political contributions to finance it. Yet the DVD was targeted at voters in key battleground states, including 1.5 million in Florida and 1.2 million in Ohio, according to Gilbert's website.
"It's a publicity measure," he said of the free mail distribution. "This has been an effort to force and embarrass the media into covering the content of the film."
Gilbert declined to disclose how the DVD and its distribution were financed, saying his production company is private and not required to. He has also made what he calls "mockumentaries" exploring whether former Beatle Paul McCartney might really be dead — as was rumored in the 1960s — and finding Elvis Presley alive and living as a federal agent in Southern California. He has also done films on Islamic-Jewish relations and Iran's strategic ambitions.
Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher declined comment on the DVD.
Another mysterious batch of mailings to voters in at least 23 Florida counties is being investigated by the FBI and state officials. These anonymous letters, which were postmarked from Seattle, raise questions about the voter's citizenship and provide a form that supposedly must immediately be filled out and returned to elections officials. Otherwise, the letter says, the voter's name will be purged from the rolls.
"A nonregistered voter who casts a vote in the State of Florida may be subject to arrest, imprisonment, and/or other criminal sanctions," warns one of the official-looking letters complete with eagle-and-flag logo, which appear to have been aimed mainly at registered Republicans.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has asked all of the state's supervisors of elections to report any similar letters. There could also be federal charges against those responsible.
Voting rights advocates also say there have been scattered complaints of bosses ordering employees to support a particular presidential candidate or face job repercussions. And in the past, students and other groups have been the targets of robocalls falsely saying they can vote on the day after Election Day if the lines are too long.
Marshall said such misinformation tactics surface election after election because it's not illegal in most states to deceive someone about the timing or place of an election, or to lie about a candidate's political affiliation. Most laws, he said, are more geared toward preventing voter intimidation and ensuring physical access to polling places. Those who do get caught in deception usually claim it was all a big misunderstanding.
"It's very difficult to stop," he said. "The tactics have evolved but the law hasn't."
Election Protection voter complaint hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Boy faces murder trial in neo-Nazi dad's death

Jeff Hall holds a Neo Nazi flag while standing at Sycamore Highlands Park near his home in Riverside, Calif. 
The 10-year-old son of a neo-Nazi leader told his younger sister that he planned to shoot their father, then a day later took a gun from his parents' bedroom and fired one bullet into his father's head as he slept on a couch, a prosecutor alleged Tuesday.
The boy's father, Jeff Hall, was an out-of-work plumber who as regional leader of the National Socialist Movement headed rallies at a synagogue and a day labor site.
In opening statements at the murder trial, Riverside County prosecutor Michael Soccio dismissed the notion that Hall's neo-Nazi beliefs contributed to his son's behavior, as the defense maintains, and instead said the boy, now 12, was a violent child who had been kicked out of every school he attended.
The boy also suspected his father was going to leave his stepmother, and he didn't want the family to split up, prosecutors have said.
"You'll learn that (the child) would have shot his father even if he'd been a member of the Peace and Freedom Party. It made no difference," Soccio said, before showing the court photos of Hall playing tea party with his young children. "They lived a relatively normal life."
The Associated Press is not identifying the child because he is a juvenile.
The boy with light brown hair sat quietly in court next to his attorney and wore a purple polo shirt and glasses. He showed little emotion when the prosecution flashed photos through a projector of his blood-spattered father, and he appeared to be taking notes in a spiral-bound notebook.
On several occasions, he asked his attorney how to spell the name of a witness taking the stand.
Defense attorney Matthew Hardy countered in his opening statement that his client had grown up in an abusive and violent environment and was conditioned to believe it was right to kill people who were a threat.
Hall taught his son to shoot guns, took him to neo-Nazi rallies and once to the Mexican border to teach him how to "make sure he knew what to do to protect this place from the Mexicans," Hardy said.
"If you were going to create a monster, if you were going to create a killer, what would you do?" he said. "You'd put him in a house where there's domestic violence, child abuse, racism."
Hardy also claimed the boy's stepmother Krista McCrary, who is expected to testify, goaded the boy into killing Hall because Hall was planning to leave her for another woman. Hall sent her text messages on the night he was shot saying he would divorce her, and spent more than five hours talking to his girlfriend on the phone, Hardy said.
McCrary sat in on the child's interviews with police and psychiatrists after the shooting, he said, and she lied to investigators.
The boy saw an opportunity when his father came home from a party but was locked out and had to get in the house by crawling through a window, Soccio said.
Hall fell asleep on the couch, and the boy got a gun from his parent's room and shot Hall at near point-blank range behind his left ear, the prosecutor said.
"He held the gun about a foot away and, as he explained, he took four fingers and put them into the trigger and pulled the trigger back and the gun discharged," Soccio said, showing images of a bloodied Hall on the couch covered by a blue blanket.
Several police officers testified that the boy and at least one of his siblings voluntarily gave statements immediately after the shooting that indicated the boy had killed his father.
One younger sister asked the boy why he hadn't shot their father in the stomach, as he said he planned to do, according to Officer Robert Monreal, who picked up the exchange on a belt recorder.
Prosecutors previously said the two siblings talked about the killing as they played on a swing set.
Another officer testified that the boy was held in a patrol car at the scene and began to talk almost non-stop from the backseat. Officer Michael Foster said the child acknowledged shooting his father and began to show remorse.
"He was sad about it. He wished he hadn't done it," Foster recalled. "He asked me about things like, do people get more than one life, things like that. He wanted to know if he was dead or if he just had injuries."
The boy has a history of being expelled from school for violence, starting at age 5 when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil on the first day of kindergarten, Soccio said outside court. He also tried to strangle a teacher with a telephone cord a few years later, he said.
Hall, 32, who said he believed in a white breakaway nation, ran for a seat on the local water board in 2010 in a move that disturbed many residents in the recession-battered suburbs southeast of Los Angeles. The day before his death, he held a meeting of the neo-Nazi group at his home.
The boy's stepmother told authorities that Hall had hit, kicked and yelled at his son for being too loud or getting in the way. Hall and the boy's biological mother had previously slugged through a divorce and custody dispute in which each had accused the other of child abuse.
Kathleen M. Heide, a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa who wrote "Why Kids Kill Parents," said children 10 and under rarely kill their parents and that only 16 such cases were documented between 1996 and 2007.
Heide also said parenting and home life would undoubtedly play a role in the development of the boy.
If a judge finds the boy murdered Hall, he could be held in state custody until he is 23 years old.
The state currently houses fewer than 900 juveniles.

The High Rise Slums of Venezuela

In the early 1990s, the 45-story Torre David office tower in Caracas, Venezuela, was near completion when its developer died and then the economy cratered. What happened next is the strange story of an abandoned tower and the squatters that moved in:
Torre David, about 90% finished at the time, was abandoned--as both a project and a property. Electrical infrastructure had not yet been installed. The lower stories were still missing finished flooring, sewage pipes, and paint. Large slabs of marble meant for a luxury hotel on the first six floors had been carted into the building but never installed.
Looters, not surprisingly, picked over the remains. Then came the families: More than 750 of them who moved in anyway over the years, occupying the skeletal office tower like a kind of vertical slum. The world’s resourceful poor have for years manufactured makeshift communities on the edges of mega-cities. But this was a notably different model, a one-time high-end high-rise turning the sprawling shantytown on its ear. After all, why should such a formidable structure, designed by Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez, sit vacant? If a luxury hotel won’t move in, why can’t the poor?
Emily Badger of Fast Company has the story: here.

Random Photo

Russian Beard Tax Token

beard token
Peter the Great (1672-1725), Tsar of Russia, wanted to Westernize his nation. To do so, among other actions, he required the men of Russia to shave their beards in imitation of the highborn men of Western Europe. Or, alternatively, to pay a beard tax. Men who paid this tax were given a token as proof:
On 16 January 1705, men 'of all ranks', including merchants and artisans (but not priests, deacons and peasants), were ordered to shave. Anyone who wished to keep his beard and whiskers had to pay a fine on a sliding scale according to status: 60 roubles for nobles, military officers and chancellery officials, 100 roubles for merchants of the first guild, and so on. Permits took the form of a beard token disc obtainable from the Police Office. Bearded persons had to pay a kopeck each time they entered the city gates.

New account found about Robin Hood

 A freshly-discovered document highlighting negative attitudes towards Robin Hood has been deciphered by an academic at the University of St. Andrews.

The previously unknown chronicle entry introduces never before seen facts about "a certain outlaw named Robin Hood".

Rather than depicting the traditionally well-liked hero, the article suggests that Robin Hood and his merry men may not actually have been "loved by the good".

Dr. Julian Luxford from the University's School of Art History found the reference to the legendary figure in an inscription from around 1460 which appears in an English manuscript owned by Eton College.

Dr. Luxford, an expert in medieval manuscript studies, explained, "The new find contains a uniquely negative assessment of the outlaw, and provides rare evidence for monastic attitudes towards him."

The pre-Reformation article is the only English chronicle entry to have been discovered which mentions Robin Hood. To date, just three Scottish medieval authors are thought to have set Robin in a chronological context.

Dr. Luxford continued, "The new find places Robin Hood in Edward I's reign, thus supporting the belief that his legend is of thirteenth century origin." A translation of the short inscription, which contains only 23 words in Latin, reads, "Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies."

Dr. Luxford said, "While Little John is not mentioned here, Robin is assigned partners-in crime. And the inscription's author does at least acknowledge that these men were active elsewhere in England.

"By mentioning Sherwood it buttresses the hitherto rather thin evidence for a medieval connection between Robin and the Nottinghamshire forest with which he has become so closely associated."

The discovery has been written up as an article which will be published later this month in the Journal of Medieval History.

Science News from a British perspective

Martian soil sample 'like Hawaii'Martian soil as seen by Curiosity

The results are in from the Mars rover Curiosity's first taste of Martian soil - and it looks like what geologists see on the Hawaiian islands.

Bananas on the way to market from the Mount Kenya regionBananas could be future staple

Plants from the banana family could become a critical food source for millions as a result of global warming, say scientists analyzing world food security. 305

Potanichthys xingyiensis fossilEarliest fossil flying fish found

New flying fish fossils found in China reveal earliest evidence of over-water gliding in vertebrates. BBC Nature

Another Sandy Casualty: NYC Bees

Another Sandy Casualty: NYC Bees: Eighteen deaths in New York City, more than 100 homes burned at Breezy Point, Queens, a tanked subway system, flooded homes, crushed cars and fallen trees: Hurricane Sandy has taken a serious toll in New ... Read more
Another Sandy Casualty: NYC Bees: DNews Nugget

Polar Bear Drowns Frankenstein

The world can rest easy now that Frankenstein has been drowned by a polar bear at the San Diego Zoo. Read more

Polar Bear Drowns Frankenstein

'Extinct' Frog Back from the Brink

The Kihansi spray toad is back in a big way thanks to a breeding program that reintroduced them to their native habitat. Read more
Extinct Frog

The Skull Caterpillar

This caterpillar is all decked out for Halloween! Ecologist and photographer Lui Weber snapped a photo of the rare pink underwing moth caterpillar, which has skull-like markings on its head:
Found below the altitude of 600m in undisturbed, subtropical rainforest, the species survives on the vine Carronia multisepalea, a collapsed shrub that provides the food and habitat the moth requires in order to breed.
Lui said: 'Sadly this moth is very rare I only know of a single adult seen last year so I do not have photographs of the adult yet.
'This southern subspecies is listed as nationally endangered in Australia.'
The Daily Mail has more awesome photos by Lui: More

Animal Pictures

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Daily Drift

'Nuff said!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Weymouth, England
Belgrade, Serbia
Vienna, Austria
Kiev, Ukraine
Alexandria, Egypt
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Cynwyd, Wales
Cape Town, South Africa
Crawley, England
Fermont, Canada
Angeles City, Philippines
London, England
Odessa, Ukraine
Johannesburg, South Africa
Ankara, Turkey
Riga, Latvia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kuching, Malaysia
Samaploc, Philippines
Novi Sad, Serbia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Paris, France
Athens, Greece
Tbilisi, Georgia
Mariehamn, Aland Islands
Rue, France
Makati, Philippines
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1270 The Seventh Crusade ends by the Treaty of Barbary.
1485 Henry VII of England crowned.
1697 The Treaty of Ryswick ends the war between France and the Grand Alliance.
1838 Oberlin Collegiate Institute in Lorian County, Ohio becomes the first college in the U.S. to admit female students.
1899 Two battalions of British troops are cut off, surrounded and forced to surrender to General Petrus Joubert's Boers at Nicholson's Nek.
1905 The czar of Russia issues the October Manisfesto, granting civil liberties and elections in an attempt to avert the burgeonng supprot for revolution.
1918 The Italians capture Vittorio Veneto and rout the Austro-Hungarian army.
1918 Turkey signs an armistice with the Allies, agreeing to end hostilities at noon, October 31.
1922 Mussolini sends his black shirts into Rome. The Fascist takeover is almost without bloodshed. The next day, Mussolini is made prime minister. Mussolini centralized all power in himself as leader of the Fascist party and attempted to create an Italian empire, ultimately in alliance with Hitler's Germany.
1925 Scotsman John L. Baird performs first TV broadcast of moving objects.
1938 H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds is broadcast over the radio by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. Many panic believing it is an actual newscast about a Martian invasion.
1941 The U.S. destroyer Reuben James, on convoy duty off Iceland, is sunk by a German U-boat with the loss of 96 Americans.
1950 The First Marine Division is ordered to replace the entire South Korean I Corps at the Chosin Reservoir area.
1991 BET Holdings Inc., becomes the first African-American company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Non Sequitur


You would think ...

But No!!!!!!!!!!!

Sweden Is Running Out of Garbage

Sweden has a few claims to fame that the U.S. simply can't compete with, namely Ikea, the Nobel Prize, and a historical avoidance of war. (Oh, and meatballs. Mmm.) But now it can add "emergency trash imports" to the list, because the country is running dangerously low on household and industrial waste.
According to the country's Waste Management site, two million tons of waste is converted to heat and electricity each year, with only 4% of the nation's trash ending up in landfills. But it's not enough:
Due to its efficiency in converting waste to renewable energy, Sweden has recently begun importing around 800,000 tons of trash annually from other countries.
Norway is now paying Sweden to take its garbage. Swedish sights are also set on Bulgaria, Romania and Italy as future trash exporters, as Catarina Ostlund, a senior advisor for the country's environmental protection agency, told PRI. Those countries rely heavily on landfills – a highly inefficient and environmentally degrading system.
Compare this to the United States, which recycles about 34% of the 250 million tons of trash generated per year. The majority of the rest is landfilled.
I don't know about you guys, but I have plenty of trash I could sell to Sweden. Give me a call; I'll pull my bin back from the curb.

Woman handcuffed for speaking too long at city council meeting

Police handcuffed Riverside, California, city council critic Karen Wright, accused her of disrupting a public meeting and led her from the chambers after she spoke for too long and refused to sit down. Wright, 60, said she’s still shocked by what happened and doesn’t think she did anything wrong. City officials said officers used their discretion when Wright didn’t follow the rules.

The incident unfolded after Wright exceeded her allotted three minutes to speak at the lectern while commenting on a sludge hauling contract. One of two police officers who provide security at meetings was leading her away when she stopped. The situation then escalated. Council speakers regularly exceed the three-minute limit, but few, if any, have been handcuffed or arrested.

Residents and an open-government advocate questioned the arrest, which led to a citation for a misdemeanor.After starting to leave the lectern with the officer, Wright turned back and told the council, “I would like you to quit the harassment with the police.” The officer tried to take her by the arm and get her to sit down or leave the chambers, but she pulled away, possibly trying to retrieve her bag from a nearby seat. Wright ended up on the floor in a sitting position, and Loveridge halted the meeting.

First one and then two other officers approached. They handcuffed Wright and tried to get her to stand while she shouted that she is disabled and couldn’t get up without using her hands. The handcuffs were removed, Wright got up and was led outside, where she said later she was taken to a police car and written a citation with a date to appear in court. Speakers,including Wright, are often warned by the mayor when they speak too long, but Mayor Ron Loveridge said he hasn’t seen someone handcuffed in the chambers during his 32 years in office.

Donald Trump's lawyers tried to stop BBC showing Scottish bullying film

Donald Trump tried to force the BBC to drop the broadcast of a critically acclaimed documentary on his alleged bullying of residents near his Scottish golf resort. Lawyers for the New York property magnate contacted the BBC two days before the feature-length film You've Been Trumped was screened on BBC2, claiming it was highly defamatory, biased and misleading, and demanding a right of reply. In a letter to the BBC from Dundas & Wilson, a prominent Scottish law firm which has acted for Trump for several years, the Trump organization threatened to complain formally to Ofcom and the BBC Trust if the screening went ahead.

The BBC rejected the request and gave the documentary, directed by Anthony Baxter, its network television premiere. It was watched by an estimated 1.1 million viewers, about 40% higher than average figures for the last three months, and earned praise from reviewers. Trump's organization retaliated saying it was appalled by the BBC's decision to show the "highly biased and manipulative so-called documentary". George Sorial, Trump's chief counsel, said the trust should sack Roger Mosey, the acting director of BBC Vision. "The BBC is now an active participant in what many who are familiar with Baxter's work know is a complete false telling of the story behind the construction of Trump Golf Scotland," Sorial said.

YouTube link.

"I would say Roger Mosey should certainly resign or the BBC should consider firing him. We're filing complaints with Ofcom and the BBC Trust and are considering other available legal actions." Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump International Golf Links, who featured in the film, said: "We totally denounce the BBC for further abandoning its own editorial integrity by blatantly refusing us a right of reply at the end of the broadcast. "It just goes to show that recent criticism of the BBC's lack of sound editorial judgment to be correct. It is not a documentary – it is a piece of propaganda that is wildly inaccurate, defamatory and deliberately misleading."

She said Baxter had sought to make "a sensationalist, Local Hero story, through underhand, clandestine means, in the hope of making money off the Trump name. He's created a modern day fairytale that bears no resemblance to reality or the truth." Trump has refused to see the film but last week he described his critics as "morons". He asserted that Baxter had "zero talent" and was a "stupid fool" whose film had helped publicize and promote his golf course at Menie, north of Aberdeen. Baxter said he repeatedly asked Trump for an interview while he was making the documentary but none of the offers were taken up. The film showed Baxter asking Trump to respond to allegations of bullying and ill-treatment against local residents a number of times. It featured Trump talking 16 times and quoted his supporters backing the project.

Residents now fear Trump will launch another eviction onslaught.

The Curse of the Werewolf

We've all heard the werewolf legend, seen it in films and on TV. In real life, it's called Lycanthropy. Here's a little of its history.
Nearly every society has legends about people who can change into animals. In Russia there are stories of were-bears. In Africa, they have were-leopards, were-hyenas, and were-hippos. In Asia there are tales about were-tigers, elephants, crocodiles, snakes, and even sharks. Why are these animals singled out? "In almost all case," Nancy Garden writes in her book, Werewolves, "the animal has these characteristics: 1) It is commonly found in the area; 2) It is feared by the inhabitants; and 3) It has been known to attack people and/or farm animals."
In Europe, wolves fit that profile: As the population grew over the centuries, Europeans settled in parts of the continent where wolves had roamed freely. As the wildlife that wolves depended on for food began to disappear, they often preyed on livestock. And when food was really scarce, they might even go after humans. As late as 1875, an estimated 160 people were attacked by starving packs of wolves in Russia. So it's not surprising that when Europeans told scary stories by the fireside, wolves were a common subject. Their spooky habit of howling at the moon made then that much more fearsome.
No one (or at least hardly anyone) believes in werewolves today, but in the Middle Ages, they were taken quite seriously. "Of all the world's monsters," says Daniel Cohen in his book Werewolves, "the werewolf is the one that has been most widely believed in, and the most widely feared." Here are some of the things people commonly believed:
* A person could become a werewolf in a number of ways: if he was cursed, drank water from a wolf's pawprint, ate the meat of an animal killed by a wolf, wore a girdle made of wolfskin, or used a magic salve. "The business about becoming a werewolf after being bitten by another werewolf is basically a creation of the movies," says Cohen. "'Real' were wolves didn't just bite people, they tore their victims to pieces and ate them."
* In some versions of the legend, the werewolf remained human, but took on wolf characteristics, such as fur, fangs, and paws. In other variations, the person literally turned into a wolf.
* Werewolves could be killed any way that a normal wolf could be killed.
It was commonly accepted that werewolves were in league with the devil. Even educated churchmen who didn't believe human beings could really transform into other animals assumed that the devil was involved. "They often said that the devil created the 'illusion' of transformation," Cohen writes. "He made people 'think' they had turned into wolves, and made the victim 'think' they were being attacked by the creature." Some "authorities" believed a real wolf could be turned into a werewolf when the spirit of an evil person entered it. "It was possible therefore," Cohen explains, "for an evil person to be asleep in his bed at night, or even locked in a cell under the eyes of his jailers, and yet his spirit could roam free as a werewolf.
As a result, a lot of people were convicted of being werewolves even after it was proven that they were nowhere near the place where the werewolf had allegedly committed its crimes." This was serious business. In Europe, as late as the 18th century, if you were suspected of being a werewolf you could be put on trial and then be put to death. Untold thousand were put to death -between 1520 and 1630, an estimated 30,000 cases of "werewolfry" trials were recorded in central France alone, and thousands more trails took place in other parts of Europe.

Two of the best known "werewolves" in European history are Peter Stube and Jean Grenier -famous as much for what they symbolize as for what they did. One was tortured to death; the other was confined to a mental institution. Stube lived in the 1500s; Grenier lived in the 1800s.
Peter Stube It was big news when Stube was arrested in Cologne in 1590 and "confessed" under torture that he was a werewolf. According to his confession, a female demon had given him a magic belt that he could use to turn into a giant wolf. For nearly 30 years, he had supposedly used this power to attack and kill villagers, livestock and even wild animals in the surrounding countryside. The townspeople accepted his confession, and he was sentenced
to have his body laid on a wheel, and with red hot burning pincers in ten places to have his flesh pulled off from the bones, after that, his legs and arms to be broken with a wooden axe or hatchet, afterward to have his head struck from his body, then ho have his carcass burned to ashes.
A pamphlet describing Stube's crimes and trial, illustrated with "gruesome" details, became a bestseller all over Europe.
Jean Grenier By the 19th century, authorities were more enlightened about werewolves. They were skeptical when Grenier, a 13-year-old boy, "admitted" in 1849 to killing and eating "several dogs and several little girls" -all of them on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays just before dusk, the times when he claimed to become a werewolf. Philip Riley writes in The Wolfman: "The town's lawyer asked the court to set aside all thoughts of witchcraft and lycanthropy (werewolfism) and ...stated that lycanthropy was a state of hallucination and the change of shape existed only in the disorganized brain of the insane, therefore, not a crime for which he should be held accountable." Instead of sentencing Grenier to death, the judge ordered that he be confined to the monastery at Bordeaux, "where he would be instructed in his Christian and moral obligations, under penalty of death if he attempted an escape." Grenier slid even deeper into madness and died at the monastery seven years later. He was 20.
Centuries after werewolves "roamed" Europe, scientists have found some real "curses" -diseases and physical conditions- that may have inspired the legends.
* Porphyria makes a person extremely sensitive to light ...which would cause them to only go out at night. It creates huge wounds on the skin -which people used to think were caused when the afflicted person ran through the woods in the form of a wolf.
* Hypertrichosis causes excess growth of thick hair all over the body, including the entire face. The disease is extremely rare. Scientists estimate that as few as 50 people have suffered from the disease since the Middle Ages -but it may have contributed to werewolf legends. When the sufferer shaves off the excess hair, they appear perfectly normal -which may have contributed to the idea that people were changing into wolves. Scientists believe the disease is caused by an "atavistic genetic defect," or mutation that allows a long-suppressed gene to become active after thousands of years of dormancy. Human skin cells, the theory speculates, still have the ability to grow thick coats of fur that were normal thousands of years ago, but that evolutionary processes have "switched off."
* The belladonna plant was once eaten as medicine or rubbed on the skin as a salve. It also has hallucinogenic qualities when eaten in large quantities; eating too much can make people think they are flying or have turned into animals.

Prehistoric monument filled in with rubble after owner tried to keep it tidy

When a retired businessman bought one of Britain’s most important prehistoric monuments as a pension investment, he plainly felt a responsibility to keep it looking nice. But Roger Penny, 73, found himself in court after contractors he asked to “tidy” up a 5,000-year-old earthwork ring filled in historically-important holes with rubble. Mr Penny, a retired plant-hire manager, was found to have caused serious damage to the Somerset monument, known as Priddy Circles, as a judge warned him “significant archaeological information” could have been lost. He has now admitted causing or permitting the works without proper consent, and has been ordered to pay £10,000 in a fine and court costs. Mr Penny, described as a man of “impeccable character”, has also pledged to pay around £38,000 for restoration work to the monument after appearing at Taunton Crown Court.
Photo from SWNS.

David Maunder, prosecuting, told the court the “internationally significant” circles are “one of the country’s most important prehistoric monuments”, as the Recorder said archaeological evidence was "significantly diminished" by the damage. The court heard Mr Penny bought a former hunt stables and house as an investment, with adjoining land including the southernmost Priddy Circle. The ring, which dates back to 3,000BC, was built around the same time as Stonehenge and is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The appellation means English Heritage must be consulted before building or renovation work is carried out. Instead, Mr Penny instructed two contractors to “tidy” and renovate the area, so he could eventually let it out for profit. The court heard one of the hired firms used rubble to fill important “swallet” holes in the ring; described as natural cavities which may have been key to the monument’s creation.

The workers also cleared gorse and bracken between April and October 2011, bringing rubble into the field to help rebuild a wall and moving a gate. In doing so, the court heard, ruts were made in the ground inside the circle by agricultural machinery. The damage included the destruction of a circular ditch said to be completely bulldozed. Mr Penny was aware the ring was scheduled and told the contractors not to touch it, but because part of the site is not visible to the naked eye "serious damage" was caused. English Heritage was not consulted about the size of the monument and was not able to grant permission or give advice about how to carry out the work. It has now successfully prosecuted Mr Penny, from Chewton Mendip, Somerset, who will pay to attempt to restore the damaged monument.

Photo from SWNS.

Mr Maunder, prosecuting, said: "These circles are regarded as among a small group of the country's most important prehistoric monuments, with enormous potential to inform us about the Neolithic period, and in archaeological terms are internationally significant." Charles Rowe, defending, added his client was a man of "impeccable character"' who deeply regretted what had happened. Recorder Jeremy Wright told Mr Penny: "Although the part you bought might not have been visually spectacular, common sense would have told you that the land inside the circle was also important. Your actions may have meant that significant archaeological information has been lost. Although some evidence may be available, it's significance and value has been significantly diminished by the damage you have done." An English Heritage spokeswoman described the damage as a "major incident", adding the structure was one of only about 80 henges in England. She said the loss of the fabric to the henge meant a "really, really rare piece of Neolithic engineering had been lost forever".

The Origins of the Iron Age Picts

Who were the Picts? Well, if you were looking for an area that is full of controversy this is it! This is in no way a comprehensive picture but an outline of one or two theories of the origins of the Picts. I will however be going into more detail of the Picts and the various areas mentioned here in future articles.

There is no doubt that the whole subject of th

eir origins is misted in Fables, Legend, Fabrication and a severe lack of historical and archaeological information. Were they Celtic, Iberian, Scandinavian etc? I think to try and make sense of it all we must first go back to go forward, to a time not long after the ice age and Scotland's hunter-gatherer Mesolithic past (8000 –4000 BC).

These Iberian hunter –gatherers moved through France and lower Britain to enter Scotland around 7000BC. Remains of their campsites are rare, Morton in Fife and another on the River Lussa being two examples. At Lussa the camp contained stone rings approximately 1.5m in diameter and may be the oldest stone structures in Scotland. The West of Scotland Islands give a further reinforcement to the movement of these Mesolithic people by the finds of large shell mounds and various tools such as fish hooks and harpoons but as I said Artifacts of the period are scarce.

A slow transition took place for these Mesolithic people and by (4000 – 2500 BC) they moved into a Neolithic farming life. Many other things must be taken into consideration at this time too like the introduction of new flint and stone tools, pottery, permanent settlements, new religious beliefs and Tombs and ‘Temples’. These structured Tombs were round barrows called Cairns in the East, like Calva Cairn while in the West and North the Chambered tomb such as Maes How in Orkney was preferred and these Tombs are probably the best supplier of artifacts of this time. There is very Little evidence of the settlements but probably the best known is that of Skara Brae in Orkney which remained virtually intact due to being covered for many centuries. Other Neolithic monuments in Scotland include henges and stone circles. Henges are widely spread across the country including two in Orkney - the Ring of Brogar and the Stones of Stenness. A henge is a banked and ditched enclosure, there is a central platform enclosed by a deep ditch, the ditch material is then thrown onto the outer edge to form a bank around the whole.

(2500 – 700 BC) sees the entrance of the Beaker People from Northern and Central Europe and the start of Scotland’s Bronze Age. The beaker people are known by this name for the cremated remains of their dead being cremated and buried in pots and interred in single graves, unlike the Neolithic people who buried their dead in groups. It is also recognized that the beaker people were the ones to introduce metalwork to Scotland. There is no record of any conflicts between the two peoples in Scotland although their lifestyles were in many ways so different and it is the bonding of these two peoples into various tribes (who for unknown reasons seemed to be forever pushed northwards). That leads to the theory that the Picts were an aboriginal race and non-Celtic. The difference in language must also be taken into consideration with this theory, as it is believed that the Picts did not speak with a Celtic tongue.

The second theory of the Picts is that their origins were Celtic. Believers in this describe the two branches as Q-Celts and P-Celts. Both origins were that of Indo-European qu being Q-Celtic and the other transforming the qu into p became P-Celtic. Examples given of this are Q-Celtic were Goedelic languages such as Irish, Scottish, Gaelic and Manx and the P-Celtic were Gaulish and Brittonic that of British, Welsh, Cornish and Breton.

It is suggested that the Q-Celts reached Ireland by the 6th Century BC and the P-Celtic entered Scotland in the 4th Century BC at the start of the Bronze Age. There is no doubt that the Q-Celts entered the South of Scotland in Argyle from Ireland but there is weak evidence apart from possible similarity of language and the written ‘Ogham’ (the Brandsbut Stone at Inverurie being an example) that the Picts were of Celtic origin.