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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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Daily Drift

Something about a Chevy truck

Some of our readers today have been in:
Cambridge, England
Surabaya, Indonesia
Warsaw, Poland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Colombo. Sri Lanka
Quito, Ecuador
Baghdad, Iraq
Waterloo, Canada
Jakarta, Indonesia
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Maribor, Slovenia
Sanaa, Yemen
Belgrade, Serbia
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Trzin, Slovenia
Cape Town, South Africa
Doha, Qatar
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Ankara, Turkey
George Town, Malaysia
Istanbul, Turkey
Manila, Philippines
Kiev, Ukraine
Starachowice, Poland
Ottawa, Canada

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Today in History

1782 The British sign a preliminary agreement in Paris, recognizing American independence.
1838 Mexico declares war on France.
1861 The British Parliament sends to Queen Victoria an ultimatum for the United States, demanding the release of two Confederate diplomats who were seized on the British ship Trent.
1864 The Union wins the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.
1900 The French government denounces British actions in South Africa, declaring sympathy for the Boers.
1900 Oscar Wilde dies in a Paris hotel room after saying of the room's wallpaper: "One of us had to go."
1906 President Theodore Roosevelt publicly denounces segregation of Japanese schoolchildren in San Francisco.
1919 Women cast votes for the first time in French legislative elections.
1935 Non-belief in Nazism is proclaimed grounds for divorce in Germany.
1945 Russian forces take Danzig in Poland and invade Austria.
1948 The Soviet Union complete the division of Berlin, installing the government in the Soviet sector.
1950 President Truman declares that the United States will use the A-bomb to get peace in Korea.
1956 The United States offers emergency oil to Europe to counter the Arab ban.
1961 The Soviet Union vetoes a UN seat for Kuwait, pleasing Iraq.
1974 India and Pakistan decide to end a 10-year trade ban.
1974 Pioneer II sends photos back to NASA as it nears Jupiter.
1979 Pope John Paul II becomes the first pope in 1,000 years to attend an Orthodox mass.

Non Sequitur


Centuries ago native peoples, such as the Picts, Gales, Gauls and Celts, kept track of the seasons by giving a distinct name to each full moon. Last night's full moon is known as the Frost Moon.

Celtic Theology

In Celtic mythology, there is a relation between the ruler and deity, and that of the ruler and the land. The king was wedded in a sacred marriage to the goddess that was supposed to ensure the fertility of the land.

Quite often in ancient religions or myths, the earth and land was often represented by the feminine entities, such as the goddesses, or they were the personification of the land or e
arth. The goddess of the land often had the attributes of the mother goddess or the fertility goddess.

Of course, it is not necessary that she is a goddess; she may be the queen or the representative of the goddess, like a priestess. The king's consort, whoever she may be, she is often described as the "Sovereignty Goddess". The future fertility and prosperity of the kingdom depends upon the mating the king mating with the sovereignty of the land.

In Irish mythology, there were number of women or goddesses who were the Sovereignty of Ireland. Among them were Morrigan (and her triple aspects as the goddess of war – Badb, Nemain and Macha), Eriu and her sisters Banba and Fodla.

The three sisters, Eriu, Banba and Fodla were each a poetic name of Ireland. They were Sovereignty of Ireland, as well as Danann goddesses. However, Eriu was the most famous of the three sisters. In the Lebor Gabala (Book of Invasions) and Cath Maige Tuired (Second Battle of Mag Tuired), Eriu had a lover, named Elatha, who was Fomorian king. She became the mother of King Bres of Ireland, when Nuada lost his arm. With the defeat of the Fomorians in the second battle of Mag Tuired, she was one of the wives of the hero Lugh Lamfada, as consort. When the three grandsons of Dagda murdered Lugh, Eriu married one of the brothers, named MacGreine. Her sisters married the other two brothers – Banba to MacCuill and Fodla to MacCecht. So Eriu was the mother of one king and the wife of two kings.

When the Milesians arrived, the three sovereignties of Ireland knew that the Milesians would conquer Ireland, so each queen tried to persuade the Milesians to name the land after her name. Eriu, the last queen to approach the Milesians, promising them victory over her people. Eriu and her sisters fell with their husbands in the Battle of Tailtiu. As they had promised, the Milesians named the entire isle to Eriu, Erin or Eire, which is another name for Ireland.

One of the most amazing goddesses was Morrigan. Morrigan was the daughter of Delbáeth and Ernmas. Morrigan also had two sisters, Badb and Macha (and possibly of a third named Nemain).

Here she is seen as three separate figures. However, it is altogether possible that Badb, Macha and Nemain were all one person, known as the Morrigu, but each one represented one aspect of the goddess. So the Morrigu were the triple goddesses of war. They were also the sovereignty goddesses of Ireland, married to the high kings.

Badb and Nemain had been named as the wives of Neit, a shadowy figure in Irish myths, while Macha was the wife and consort of Nuada Airgedlámh. Macha and Nuada died in the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. Macha was also said to be the wife of Nemed, the leader of the Nemedians, a race that had settled on Ireland before the arrival of the Tuatha de Danann.

Before the Second Battle of Mag Tuired, the god Dagda encountered a beautiful woman at Glenn Etin at Samhain night (the eve before the battle). Dagda seduced and slept with this woman. It is believed that this woman was Morrigan, and she foretold victory to the Danann, promising aid. Each year, on Samhain night, Dagda had to mate with Morrigan, to ensure the fertility and prosperity of Ireland, because the war goddess was the sovereignty of Ireland.

Sovereignty goddesses were not limited to marriage with the high king of Ireland. Each province in Ireland had a sovereignty goddess in their province. There were also another Macha, who was the sovereignty of Ulster, and in the neighbouring province, Medb (Maeve) was the sovereignty of Connacht. There are uncertainty of whether the Ulaid Macha was the same queen/goddess as the Nemedian Macha and the Danann Macha.

However, the idea of sacred marriage between a king and the goddess doesn't just appear in the Irish and Welsh myths. In fact, a king wedded to the goddess was a very ancient ritual of many different ancient cultures. And like the Celtic myths, the sacred marriage had to do with the fertility of the land.

The one that come to my mind is the myth of the Sumerian goddess, named Inanna, whom the Babylonian called Ishtar. Inanna's attributes combined the Greek goddesses Aphrodite and Athena, because she was the goddess of love and war. Inanna had also being identified as the Phoenician fertility goddess Astarte, and the Egyptian Isis (Auset). So in a sense, Inanna was the sovereignty goddess of Sumer.

In the Norse mythology, the sacred marriage was called hierós gámos, though the marriage was between the sky god and the earth goddess. Since agriculture was important to the Scandinavians, the union of the between the deities, would ensure the fertility of the land. The soils required not only to be fertile, but it need sunlight and rain.

According to the Sumerian myths, she was the wife of Dumuzi the shepherd god. For some reason, Inanna descended into the Underworld, and Ereshkigal, the goddess of the dead, trapped her sister Inanna in her domain. However, Enki the god of wisdom send two of his creature to rescue Inanna. When Inanna escaped from her prison in the Underworld and fled to her home in the heaven, Ereshkigal send her demons after her sister. Inanna managed to protect herself and her children, but she could not protect her husband. Dumuzi was dragged into the Underworld. However part of his spirit escaped death.

As sovereignty of the land, Inanna was said to be the bride of each king. Each king was seen as the incarnation of Dumuzi, the husband of Inanna. So each king actually married and mated with the priestess of Inanna (Ishtar).

Since the legend of King Arthur and the Grail had also borrowed and used Celtic motifs and symbolism, they had also used the symbolism of the sacred marriage.

In the Welsh myths, Guinevere was known as Gwenhwyfar, a queen and goddess of Britain. So Gwenhwyfar was a personification of Britain; she was the sovereignty of Britain. When Arthur married Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), he was wedded to the land (Britain).

However, in the mainstream Arthurian literature, Guinevere not only representing the kingdom of Logres (Britain), but the source of Arthur's earthly power came from the Round Table.

There were several versions on the origin of the Round Table, but original table (told by Wace, in the Roman de Brut, c. 1155) was constructed so that all knights were equal, with no one having precedence over the others, regardless background (see the Life of King Arthur and Origin of the Round Table). The Round Table had nothing to do with Merlin and the Grail. But as the stories of the Grail became entwined with Arthur's knight, the origin of the Round Table was changed.

As early as 1200, a poet named Robert de Boron wrote a trilogy concerning the Grail: Joseph d'Arimathie, Merlin and Perceval. According to Boron, the Round Table was constructed by Merlin, using the Grail Table of Joseph of Arimathea as a model. Also Merlin made the table round because the circle was like the Earth. To shorten this story Merlin had originally built this for Uther Pendragon (Arthur's father), but at his death, King Leodegan of Camelide, the father of Guinevere, received the Round Table from Uther. When Arthur married Guinevere, Leodegan had bestowed the Round Table (and 100 knights) to Arthur as a dowry. (More detail about can be found in the legend of Excalibur, the Origin of the Round Table, and Merlin and the Grail.

The whole point of this story is that Guinevere was very much the symbol of the wholeness of the Round Table and the kingdom of Logres, in some way, she represented the power of kingship more so than Arthur himself. The Queen was one with the kingdom and the fellowship of the Round Table. The health of the kingdom and the fellowship of the Round Table depended upon Guinevere, since she owned the Round Table.

In the Mort Artu (Death of King Arthur, part of the romance in Vulgate Cycle), the Round Table had split because Guinevere was caught in her bedchamber with her lover Lancelot. She was to sentence to death, but Lancelot rescued her. War resulted with Arthur and his kinsmen against Lancelot and his kinsmen, and the division between two factions was symbolised the division of the Round Table. The division and war had seriously weakened Arthur's own power. However, the Round Table had further fractured when Mordred, his illegitimate son, acting as viceroy in Arthur's absence, had seized kingship and the kingdom. In this version, Mordred tried to force Guinevere into marrying him, but the queen had managed to escape.

In some early versions, it was Mordred, not Lancelot, who was Guinevere's lover. Mordred in the early legend was Arthur's nephew and the brother of Gawain. The king was absence in the war against Rome, when Guinevere had willingly seduced her husband's nephew. Through marriage to the Sovereignty of Britain (Guinevere), no one could prevent Mordred becoming the king of Britain. Like the later legend, Mordred's usurpation was short-lived.

In whichever versions you may have read Arthur's kingship was in crisis. By marrying his aunt, the Queen, Mordred had a legitimate claim to the throne and crown. Whoever marry the Queen, has the key to the kingdom, because the Queen was the kingdom.

In the legend of the Grail, the Grail King, sometimes also known as the Fisher King or the Maimed King, was more closely associated with the fertility of the land than Arthur. Because the Grail King was maimed, his kingdom became a desolated and barren Waste Land. (There are several version of his maiming, so I won't go over this, but if you are interested, then read the Fisher King.) Since the Grail King was wounded in the thighs and became sterile, so his land became barren.

To restore the kingdom and the fertility of the land, the Grail King must be healed. Again, there are many versions of how the king was healed, but the most common version was that Grail hero, had to ask the correct question about the mystery of Grail: "Whom does the Grail serve?"

The whole point of this is that land was linked to the king's health, as if he was actually wedded to the land. Cause damage or injury to the king, then the land will suffer too.

As can be seen, the Grail King and his land shared a common theme of the Celtic myths.

The wholeness of the kingdom depended upon the king being completely healthy. This bring us back to the Irish myths, where a king who suffered from physical imperfection or disfigurement, he was barred from kingship. Nuada lost his arm in the war against the Firbolgs. With only one arm he had to abdicate to Bres. Bres was physical beautiful and healthy, but he was unfit to rule as well, because he was a tyrant and the most ungenerous of king, which made him unpopular with his people. Such was Bres' tyranny that Nuada was first given a silver arm, so that Nuada can rule again. Later, Miach, the son of Dian Cécht, restored Nuada's arm, so that there was no uncertainty of Nuada's right to rule Ireland.

Another famous king that was disqualified from ruling Ireland was Cormac Mac Airt was disfigured. Cormac, the high king of Ireland, lost one eye, so he had to abdicate to his son Cairbre Lifechair.

Word ...

The truth be told

Scientists confirm sea levels rising 60% faster than projected

Don’t get me wrong, the experts are no Bill O’Reilly or Faux News loving crazy religious figures, so they don’t have the stamp of approval from Roger Ailes or Rupert Murdoch. So there’s your caveat. They’re merely peer-reviewed experts who have won over fellow experts.Although there are fortunately some Faux News viewers who are waking up to the realization that they’ve been swindled, most are still well behind the curve on climate change. Perhaps the flooding of the New York subway system was a wakeup, but it’s not as though reality has ever dented their ignorance shell before.
Hurricane Sandy NYC floods
As the NBC video segment below mentions, we should expect Hurricane-Sandy-like storms at least once every 15 years. Much of southern Florida and the Gulf Coast has a serious risk of being underwater if the problem is not addressed.
The big problem now is the continuing battle with outlets like Faux News who deny science for political purposes.
Murdoch fails to understand (or care about) the real problems of real Americans. Then again, I’ve often asked myself, to paraphrase Sarah Palin, whether he’s a “real” American at all.
NBC News:
“Global warming has not slowed down or is lagging behind the projections,” lead author Stefan Rahmstorf, a researcher at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said in a statement. “The IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks.”
The experts added that the faster sea level rise is unlikely to be caused by a temporary ice discharge from Greenland or Antarctica ice sheets because it correlates very well with the increase in global temperature.
The IPCC earlier estimated that seas rose by about 7 inches over the last century, and its most recent report, published in 2007, estimated a range of between 7 and 23 inches this century — enough to worsen coastal flooding and erosion during storm surges.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Did you know ...

That Karl Rove's new plan to save the repugican cabal will fail

About the postal deadlines for sending gifts to troops this holiday season

About these 5 charts about global warming that will make you very, very worried

That the world almost ended in 1883

Can democrats retake the house in 2014?

That next Saturday is a national day of action alert to preserve middle class tax breaks

The idiot repugican rep. paul broun: science is straight from the pits of hell

Oh no!!! Homosexuality is caused by incubi and succubi!!

About the future of the white man's party

Here are some other things to worry about besides the fiscal cliff

That in Kentucky you could spend a year in jail for not believing in god

That the nation's largest group of Ob/Gyn's thinks all birth control should be over-the-counter

Iconic 3D movie audience photo taken 60 years ago this week

LIFE 3 D 1952
Sixty years ago this week, JR Eyerman snapped the iconic photo above during the Hollywood premiere of Bwana Devil, the first full-length 3D movie. "A LION in your lap! A LOVER in your arms!" This is the caption that accompanied the photo in LIFE:
These megalopic creatures are the first paying audience for the latest cinematic novelty, Natural Vision. This process gets a three-dimensional effect by using two projectors with Polaroid filters and giving the spectators Polaroid spectacles to wear. The movie at the premiere, called Bwana Devil, did achieve some striking three-dimensional sequences. But members of the audience reported that the glasses were uncomfortable, the film itself — dealing with two scholarly looking lions who ate up quantities of humans in Africa — was dull, and it was generally agreed that the audience itself looked more startling than anything on the screen.

Random Celebrity Photo

Billie Burke long before she played Glinda the Good Witch of the North

We don’t need Facebook to violate our privacy; we do it to ourselves

You Own What You Post on Facebook

Earlier this week, my Facebook homepage was lit up by a series of posts from friends proclaiming that they were no longer subject to Facebook’s litany of privacy abuses and thefts of intellectual property.
As it turned out, both the intellectual property theft and the idea that it could be prevented on a ‘because-I-said-so’ basis were poorly-vetted, and previously-debunked hoaxes.

And You Control How Facebook Shares that Info (If You Change Your Privacy Settings)


A quick look at Facebook’s statement on rights and responsibilities and data use policy make abundantly clear that “you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared.”
It’s true that you need to change your privacy settings to prevent the website from using the information you post for research, promotional or analytical use, but that does not change the fact that you own what you post. (Two key privacy settings in Facebook are found here and here.)
Speaking of which, what are we posting online about ourselves, that we might not even realize?

Who Needs Facebook to Violate Our Privacy? We Do It Quite Well On Our Own

According to Consumer Reports’ latest “State of the Net” survey, we don’t need Facebook to violate our privacy; we do it quite well by ourselves. More than ever, users are making a wide array of information including our preexisting health conditions, plans for the day, phone number and personal finances public and available to employers, insurers, the IRS, divorce lawyers and criminals.
Moreover, 13 million users have not set, or didn’t know about, their privacy settings and 28 percent of Facebook users share all or almost all of their posts with an audience wider than just their friends. Unsurprisingly, eleven percent of Facebook users report having privacy-related problems. But their problems, ranging from identity theft to someone using their log in information, are by and large completely preventable.
Criticisms of Facebook’s stance on intellectual property are not only wrong and hypocritical; they are also misguided. Who owns social media is not at issue; at issue is the feed-like amount of data Facebook and other social networking sites collect, sell and distribute about things they should have no knowledge of. We have a great deal of control over the information we make public; we have far less control over information that should be kept private.
That Facebook, along with other social media sites, knows who I email, what other websites I visit and what I buy online is far more worrisome for those concerned about online privacy than who “owns” what is put in the public domain. Furthermore, Facebook’s support of CISPA, which would have allowed the government to circumvent due process and gather information from social networking sites without a warrant, represents a bigger threat to personal privacy than any faux-theft that can supposedly be wished away via online disclaimer.
In short, we own what we post publicly but we don’t own what we’d rather keep private.
That original poem you posted in a status update? Don’t worry; Mark Zuckerburg can’t claim that he wrote it. He can, however, use it and the Google searches you made to help tailor the ads you see, suggest possible friends, and, if he had his way, sell you out to the government if the poem is too risqué.

America's "Six Strike" copyright punishment system on hold until 2013

The American Six-Strikes regime -- through which ISPs voluntarily agree to punish their customers if the entertainment industry accuses them of piracy -- has been delayed, again, to "early 2013." The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) -- which will act on the entertainment industry's behalf -- blames Hurricane Sandy for the delay.
TorrentFreak has learned that the main problem is to get all actors, including the ISPs and the American Arbitration Association, lined up to move at once. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.
Three of the five U.S. ISPs participating in the copyright alerts plan have revealed what mitigation measures they will take after the fourth warning.
AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.
I love that AT&T will force its customers to complete copyright reeducation camps designed by the entertainment industry, and will withhold Facebook and YouTube until they pass the course and demonstrate their proficiency in parroting back Big Content's party line.
I wonder if Facebook will sue them for tortious interference.
Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Delayed Till 2013

SOPA's daddy, Lamar Smith, to chair the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Remember Lamar Smith (the guy who tried to pass off SOPA as being good for the internet)? Well there is a lot of talk about his chairing the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. This is like making an arsonist the fire-chief."

Illinois delays vote on legalizing medical marijuana

Cannabis plants that will soon be harvested grow at Northwest Patient Resource Center in Seattle, Washington January 27, 2012. REUTERS/Cliff DesPeaux
The Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday put off a vote to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes because the measure lacked the support for approval, its chief sponsor said.
Democratic Representative Lou Lang did not request a vote on his proposal because he did not want it to fail.
"He didn't call it because he was short of the votes," said Lang's spokeswoman, Beth Hamilton. Lang had earlier predicted the measure would pass if a few undecided members shifted to support.
The proposal for a three-year pilot program would make Illinois the second most populous state in the nation after California to allow medical marijuana. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington state voters decided on November 6 to allow recreational use of cannabis.
Lang said he could try again to pass the proposal when the Illinois legislature meets in early December.
The Illinois bill would be the most restrictive in the country, according to Lang.
Some Republicans in the Illinois House said they opposed legalizing medical marijuana because it could be a "gateway drug" to abuse of other illegal substances. Others said they were not convinced that the benefits of smoking marijuana for certain medical conditions outweighed the potential negative consequences.
Under the Illinois bill, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of 30 debilitating medical conditions, register with the Department of Public Health and have written certification from their physician. Patients would be limited to no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana every two weeks.
Under U.S. federal law, marijuana is considered an addictive substance and distribution is a federal offense. Federal law prohibits physicians from writing prescriptions, so many have issued "referrals" or "recommendations." The administration of President Barack Obama has discouraged federal prosecutors from pursuing people who distribute marijuana for medical purposes under state laws.

Woman on trial in killing of Florida lottery winner

Defendant Dorice "Dee Dee" Moore arrives in court at the Hillsborough County Courthouse for the opening statements in her case Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. Moore is charged with the murder of Florida Lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare. (AP Photo/The Tampa Tribune, Jay Conner, Pool) 
Abraham Shakespeare could barely read, wrote his name in block letters and had given away most of his $17 million in lottery winnings when he became friends with Dorice "Dee Dee" Moore, a calculating woman who later became his financial adviser, prosecutors said Wednesday.
During opening statements in Moore's first-degree murder trial in Tampa, assistant state attorney Jay Pruner said Moore swindled what was left of Shakespeare's winnings from his bank account in 2009, then killed him and buried his body under a concrete slab in her backyard.
Pruner said when Shakespeare won the lottery, his life "drastically and dramatically changed" — and that the money caused all sorts of problems, eventually leading to his death. One detective testified that Moore told him that Shakespeare was tired of people asking him for money.
Moore, 40, wore a yellow button-down blouse and black pants to court, and her long, curly hair framed her face as she highlighted notes with a yellow marker during Wednesday's trial.
Her attorney, Byron Hileman, said there is no evidence that ties his client to the gun used to shoot Shakespeare.
"There are no eyewitnesses who can testify that Ms. Moore shot and killed Mr. Shakespeare or was present when he was shot and killed or had any part carrying out his murder," Hileman said, adding that the evidence against Moore is mostly circumstantial.
Later in the day, witnesses included two investigators from the county medical examiner's office and a sheriff's detective.
Dr. Dollette White, the assistant medical examiner that worked on Shakespeare's autopsy, said his body was "mummified" and partially skeletonized. She said his body had been underground for a few months, but it was difficult to pinpoint exactly how long based on decomposition.
White also said that two bullets were recovered from Shakespeare's body, both lodged near his spine and heart. X-rays of Shakespeare's chest were shown to the jury.
Both attorneys agreed on one thing: that by the time Shakespeare and Moore met, the man had already spent or given away most of his lottery winnings. Friends and acquaintances owed him millions of dollars, the lawyers said, and Pruner called him a "soft touch."
Moore befriended Shakespeare in late 2008, claiming she was writing a book "about how people were taking advantage of him," said Pruner.
Prosecutors said Moore became his financial adviser, eventually controlling every asset he had left, including an expensive home, the debt owed to him and a $1.5 million annuity. Pruner said that during the trial, he will prove that Moore shifted money from Shakespeare's bank accounts to her own, and that she formed a company in his name — yet didn't allow him to withdraw money from the bank account attached to that company.
In April 2009, Shakespeare disappeared. Pruner said he was shot, killed and buried under a 30-by-30-foot concrete slab in the back of Moore's home.
Family didn't report him missing for seven months. During that time, Pruner said Moore simultaneously lied to Shakespeare's friends and family about seeing him around town while trying to pay others to say they had spotted him.
Pruner said she enlisted one of Shakespeare's friends, Greg Smith, to deliver a typed letter to Shakespeare's mother, ostensibly from Shakespeare — even though he was barely literate.
Smith is expected to take the witness stand because he became a confidential informant and recorded numerous conversations and meetings with Moore — who told police various stories about her relationship with Shakespeare and his disappearance.
In January 2010, investigators searched Moore's property and found Shakespeare's body.
Moore's attorney acknowledged that "we certainly would agree that Ms. Moore had some knowledge that something happened," and told a story about a meeting involving Shakespeare and a couple of guys at Moore's home.
"The fact is that something happened," said Hileman. "Ms. Moore may have suspected something happened but she was not an eyewitness to details."
The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Retro Photo


Aber fraulein..was ist Los ?
German Flapper..1920
Aber fraulein..was ist Los ?
German Flapper..1920

Two dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire this month, in protest of Chinese rule

At least 24 ethnic Tibetans have burned themselves alive this month alone, in "a dramatic acceleration of the protests against authoritarian Chinese rule," and "a new phase in the Tibetan protests," according to the AP.

Close to 100 have self-immolated since 2009, but what's different, in addition to the sheer numbers, is that most self-immolators now are lay people, not monks or nuns.

In Finland, piracy fines are orders of magnitude higher than fines for rape, torture and murder

Remember the scandal last week about the girl whose laptop was confiscated for downloading a album from Chisu?

Well, here's another shocking story about the same company, with a staggering €400,000 fine to a young man aged 21.

According to this, piracy is worse then rape or murder in Finland, i.e. a fine for murder is up to €11,000 and rape/torture €2,000.

The fine for downloading is a whopping €800,000 to a couple.

Moral of the story?

Learn to use a proper peerblock."

Depressed Swedes get bus stop light therapy

An energy company in Umeå, northern Sweden, has installed phototherapy lights in the city’s bus stops to combat the short days, lack of sunlight, and residents’ depression. "We wanted to show we care about the people living here in Umeå at this dark time of the year, people get depressed if they don't see the light,” Umeå Energi CEO Göran Ernstson said. The company installed so called anti-SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lights in 26 of the city’s bus stops last week.

Umeå, which lies some 500 kilometres north of Stockholm, is only light for around five hours a day at this time of year. Into December, as the temperature plummets, this figure shrinks by an hour. The snow has not yet settled, and as a result the city is even darker than usual, something the energy company wants to fight artificially. “Umeå residents both own us and are our customers and we believe we all need to be re-energized when it gets like this," Ernstson continued.

"Even though it snowed today, the sun had set by 2pm. People need to get their vitamin D somehow!” The energy company boasts that the energy used to power the lamps comes from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. In addition, the lights filter out harmful UV rays, preventing potential eye and skin damage for those standing beneath them waiting for the bus. However, not everyone in Umeå is beaming with the new additions to the bus stops.

Local resident Tomas Helleborg claims the lights are so dazzling that it’s almost a struggle moving past them. “The light is quite bright indeed and directed to the street outside the bus-stops, and I don't really like them,” he said. “They’re simply too bright when you’re biking or driving past in the dark!” Light therapy is a known treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder by compensating for lost sunlight exposure and resetting the body's internal clock. Also known as heliotherapy and phototherapy, it can be also used to treat skin, sleep and psychiatric disorders.

Embroidered Straightjacket

straightjacketDuring the 1890s, a German woman named Agnes Richter was institutionalized for a mental illness. She wasn't allowed to use conventional writing instruments, but she was allowed to sew. Richter was a good seamstress, so she embroidered hundreds of mysterious words and phrases on a straightjacket. Gail Hornstein, a psychologist, wrote a book about her exploration of this unique artifact and what it reveals about Richter's mind.

Awesome Pictures


Daniel Seung Lee

Just Like in the Alps

Kyrgyzstan resembles the Alps in some places. But if you travel in Europe you drive along the ideal asphalt with beautiful marking, nice parking lots, toilets and so-called viewpoints. In Juuku gorge everything is quite on the contrary. More

Eleven Magnificent Wonders Of The Ice World

In polar and other cold regions there are ice, snow and water formations that are unusual, unique, and some of them so beautiful they take your breath away.

Most of these wonders of nature can be visited only by scientists and rare adventurers who are ready for significant physical and financial exertions. Because of their volatility and locations, these formations can be seen only at certain periods of the year.

Evidence of Water Ice on Mercury

Data sent back to earth from the MESSENGER spacecraft shows that Mercury holds water ice and other frozen materials. We think of Mercury as a hot planet, but there are deep craters near the planet's poles are never touched by sunlight. Still, any water ice in the craters is buried under other materials.
MESSENGER uses neutron spectroscopy to measure average hydrogen concentrations within Mercury's radar-bright regions. Water-ice concentrations are derived from the hydrogen measurements. "The neutron data indicate that Mercury's radar-bright polar deposits contain, on average, a hydrogen-rich layer more than tens of centimeters thick beneath a surficial layer 10 to 20 centimeters thick that is less rich in hydrogen," writes David Lawrence, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist based at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the lead author of one of the papers. "The buried layer has a hydrogen content consistent with nearly pure water ice."

Data from MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) — which has fired more than 10 million laser pulses at Mercury to make detailed maps of the planet's topography — corroborate the radar results and Neutron Spectrometer measurements of Mercury's polar region, writes Gregory Neumann of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In a second paper, Neumann and his colleagues report that the first MLA measurements of the shadowed north polar regions reveal irregular dark and bright deposits at near-infrared wavelength near Mercury's north pole.  
Read more about the discovery at NASA.

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered vast comet belts surrounding two nearby planetary systems known to host only ...
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Seeing the world through the eyes of an Orangutan

She is a captive bred Sumatran orangutan. He is a neuroscientist specializing in cognitive and sensory systems research. With the ...
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Seven Bizarre Prehistoric Versions of Modern Day Animals

I love dinosaurs, a pure and simple fact. So how could I not post about this great list of 7 Bizarre Prehistoric Versions of Modern Day Animals? Above is an image of the real-life monster best known as the "BoarCroc" or the "dinosaur slicer." It's a giant super-crocodile that may have dined on dinosaurs.
The little kid inside of me is going crazy with excitement. As a cub scout (pre-boy scout) as part of a camping trip I got to spend a night in The Field Museum in Chicago, where I am from. We camped out in the dinosaur exhibit because that is only logical place for a boy of 11 to spend his night in the museum. Needless to say I loved it, and that same love is apparent as I read about this "BoarCroc."
Anyone who's watched more than two hours of the Discovery Channel knows that crocodiles are sharp-toothed, armored, writhing instruments of death ... but only if they're in about five feet of water. Ten feet farther on shore and suddenly they're 800 pounds of slow-moving, useless leather with sharp teeth at one end. If nothing else, the fact that crocodiles can't and probably won't chase you on land is the most comforting characteristic of what would otherwise be a relentless murder machine.

Except that about 100 million years ago, that wasn't the case. Kaprosuchus saharicus was evolution's stab at giving one predator every advantage except the ability to fly, making it completely unbeatable. Paleontologists often casually talk about them galloping after dinosaurs on their long legs like that's just a thing crocodiles do regularly.
Be sure to check out the entire list.


Paleontologists have constructed a model of a prehistoric penguin that stood almost 4 feet 6 inches tall when it lived in what is now New Zealand, approximately 25 million years ago.

Named Kairuku, a Maori word that means “diver who returns with food,” the penguin was reconstructed from fossilised bones that were collected in 1977 by Dr Ewan Fordyce, a paleontologist from the University of Otago.

Animal Pictures


Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Here’s a picture of a Red Wolf with its cubs at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina, which serves as the core area for reintroducing Red Wolves into the wild.Photo: Greg Koch

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Daily Drift

'Nuff Said 

Some of our readers today have been in:
Bridgetown, Barbados
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Baghdad, Iraq
Waterloo, Canada
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Karachi, Pakistan
Cape Town, South Africa
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Manila, Philippines
Ankara, Turkey
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangkok, Thailand
Cairo, Egypt
George Town, Malaysia
Kiev, Ukraine
Jakarta, Indonesia
Sanaa, Yemen
Kuching, Malaysia
Leeds, England
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tbilisi, Georgia
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Niugan, Philippines
Warsaw, Poland
Paris, France
Mandaluyong City, Philippines

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1760   Major Roger Rogers takes possession of Detroit on behalf of Britain.
1787   Louis XVI promulgates an edict of tolerance, granting civil status to Protestants.
1812   The last elements of Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Armee retreats across the Beresina River in Russia.
1863   The Battle of Fort Sanders, Knoxville, Tenn., ends with a Confederate withdrawal.
1864   Colonel John M. Chivington's 3rd Colorado Volunteers massacre Black Kettles' camp of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians at Sand Creek, Colo.
1903   An Inquiry into the U.S. Postal Service demonstrates the government has lost millions in fraud.
1923   An international commission headed by American banker Charles Dawes is set up to investigate the German economy.
1929   Commander Richard Byrd makes the first flight over the South Pole.
1931   The Spanish government seizes large estates for land redistribution.
1939   Soviet planes bomb an airfield at Helsinki, Finland.
1948   The Metropolitan Opera is televised for the first time as the season opens with "Othello."
1948   The popular children's television show, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, premieres.
1949   The United States announces it will conduct atomic tests at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
1961   NASA launches a chimpanzee named Enos into Earth orbit.
1962   Algeria bans the Communist Party.
1963   President Lyndon B. Johnson appoints Chief Justice Earl Warren head of a commission to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Non Sequitur


Celebrating the Christmas of the Past

vEnglish Heritage has some tips for celebrating Christmas in the Tudor and Victorian styles, if you want to be more traditional than everyone around you. For example, a Tudor-style Christmas would start with putting one person in charge of Christmas and all its parties.
If you want your celebrations to go with a bang, appoint a 'Lord of Misrule'. These were usually minor members of the household appointed to run the festivities. Henry VII is recorded as having both a 'Lord of Misrule' and an 'Abbot of Unreason' one year!
During Victorian times, families would play Snapdragon.
You'll need nerves of steel (and possibly a fire extinguisher) if you want to play any Victorian Christmas games. 'Snapdragon' involved making a big pile of dried fruit, covering it in brandy then setting it alight. Then in the dark, the aim was for everyone to pick up a piece of fruit before the fire went out. Let's hope nobody played it with long sleeves!
There's more, including links to some very old recipes and modern events, at English Heritage.

Photo Of Iceberg That Sank The Titanic To Be Auctioned

On the night of April 14th, 1912, the Titanic collided with a massive iceberg and sank. Now, one hundred years later, a photo that may the only surviving print showing that infamous chunk of ice is going up for auction. It's expected to fetch up to $10,000. The photograph was snapped by Captain W. F. Wood of a ship named S. S. Etonian, two days prior to the event.

Although there are no known photos of the actual iceberg taken on the day of the tragedy, there are a number of reasons that have led experts to believe the photo is of that very iceberg.

The repugican divide surfaces early in 2014 Senate contest

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2012, file photo, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., incoming Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, as incoming Minority Whip, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listen. Moran hasn't officially taken over as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee yet, but he already finds himself defending a potential nominee who's widely popular in her state while trying to avoid alienating influential players on the party's right flank. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File) That didn't take long.
The fissures within the repugican cabal that some say cost the repugican cabal control of the Senate have resurfaced just three weeks after the election. This time the wingnuts are targeting a popular veteran congresswoman from a storied West Virginia political family making a bid for Democrat Jay Rockefeller's Senate seat in 2014.
Within an hour of Shelley Moore Capito's announcement of her candidacy, the influential and uber-wingnut Club for Growth branded her as the "establishment candidate" whose record in Congress of supporting prominent bailouts has led to bigger government. Capito just won her seventh term to Congress, securing about 70 percent of her district's vote. Her father, former Gov. Arch Moore, for years was the chief political rival of the man she hopes to replace in the Senate.
The new head of the Senate's repugican campaign arm, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, dismissed the criticism from the right — "I don't see this as damaging to her cause" — but it's far from inconsequential in the repugicans' bid to retake the Senate.
Moran hasn't officially taken over as chairman of the National repugican Senatorial Committee yet, but he already finds himself defending a potential nominee who's widely popular in her state while trying to avoid alienating influential players on the party's right flank.
Downplaying the impact of the Club for Growth's criticism of Capito, Moran said Tuesday his committee hasn't made a decision on how heavily involved it will be in West Virginia's repugican Senate primary two years from now.
"Shelley Moore Capito is a known quantity in West Virginia," he said. "Her voting record is acceptable to the majority of West Virginians in her district for a long period of time. I don't see this as damaging to her cause."
Rockefeller, 75, has not said whether he'll seek a sixth term in the Senate, but Capito has the name recognition and fundraising ability to mount an effective campaign against an incumbent.
The Club for Growth wasted no time listing what it believes are her numerous faults. They likened her to candidates such as Rick Berg of North Dakota and Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, saying that while they were supposedly the most electable of the repugican candidates, they lost Senate races in repugican-leaning states.
"Her candidacy will undoubtedly be cheered by the repugican establishment, and dire warnings will be issued against any 'divisive' primary challenges, lest other candidates hurt Capito's chances of winning," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "The problem is that Congresswoman Capito's record looks a whole lot like the establishment candidates who lost this year."
But many of the Club for Growth's candidates in recent elections also have stumbled badly. Richard Mourdock lost in Indiana after bouncing veteran Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary. In the 2010 elections, the organization threw its considerable financial backing behind Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado, both losers to vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
Moran said the criticism of Capito from the Club for Growth was not unexpected.
"This is going to be decided not by the NRSC and not by the Club for Growth; it's going to be decided by the people of West Virginia," he said.
In the last election cycle, Democratic leaders in Washington didn't mind playing favorites during the primaries, heavily recruiting candidates they thought had the best chance of winning, while shunning some they did not see as formidable. repugican leaders, in contrast, sat back as their potential nominees fought it out.
Moran said figuring out the NRSC's role in the coming primaries will take a couple of months, and said his organization will play a role in some states.
"It's a state-by-state issue," he said.
Democratic officials, meanwhile, are enjoying the sideshow of a potential repugican split already in the works.
"Their argument is correct that the handpicked repugican establishment candidates did just as poorly as the more tea-party candidates," said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "It's hard to argue with them in that respect."
Canter said the establishment candidates stumbled in part because of their efforts to appeal to tea party supporters and strong anti-government organizations such as the Club for Growth. He said an outsider might find it easy to defeat Capito, because repugican primaries in West Virginia typically do not attract a lot of voters.
"It would be very easy for a right-wing candidate to get the votes needed to win," Canter said.
repugican strategist Ron Bonjean said he would have preferred for the Club for Growth to have waited to see if a viable alternative to Capito emerges before attacking her. With Mitt Romney easily winning the state, repugicans figure to have a strong shot of winning the Senate seat in 2014.
"She's the best that state has to offer at this point," Bonjean said. "There's not a deep bench of repugican candidates who can immediately step into the fold, who can take on Sen. Rockefeller. Going after a female repugican right now when we lost the women's vote is not necessarily the wisest political move either."
Chocola said supporting fiscal conservatives such as Jeff Flake in Arizona and Ted Cruz in Texas, both Senate winners this month, is the best way back for the repugican cabal.
"They are the future of the repugican cabal," he said.
Note to repugicans - You have NO future.

Former Florida repugican leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law

From the "Tell us something we didn't know: Department:

Former repugican chair, governor - both on outs with party - say voter fraud wasn’t a concern, but reducing Democratic votes was. A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida repugican staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former repugican officials and current repugican consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.
The repugican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former repugican chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: repugican victory.

Practice Makes the Perfect Liar

Are you a bad liar? Research shows a little practice can make all the difference. Read more liar

Syrian war clouds Turkish plan to clear land mines

For two people walking into a Turkish minefield, they looked awfully assured.The pair strode in from Syria on a recent afternoon, following a faint track across the grassy plain. They slipped into Turkey through a fence near a vacant military watchtower and vanished into an olive grove.
Such hazardous crossings are a smuggler's tradition at the border, where Turkish plans to clear a vast belt of land mines have been clouded by Syria's civil war. Last week, Turkey asked NATO allies to deploy Patriot missiles as a defense against any aerial attacks from Syria after shells and bullets spilled across the border, killing and injuring some Turks.
Starting in the 1950s, Turkish forces planted more than 600,000 U.S.-made "toe poppers" — mines designed to maim, not kill — and other land mines along much of its 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria, which runs from the Mediterranean Sea to Iraq. The aim was to stop smugglers whose cheap black market goods undercut the Turkish economy and later to thwart Kurdish rebels from infiltrating Turkey's southeast.
However, the mines also killed and maimed civilians, took arable land from Turkish farmers and are now considered by many as a crude method of policing.
Turkey says it plans to clear anti-personnel mines on the Syria border by 2016, missing a March 2014 deadline required by the international Mine Ban Treaty. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a Geneva-based group that won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, has criticized Turkey for its slow progress.
The European Union has committed €40 million ($52 million) to demining and surveillance equipment near Turkey's borders with Iran and Armenia on the basis that Turkey could eventually become the EU's most eastern border. Turkey, adjacent to the Middle East and Central Asia, has long been a drug trafficking route and a transit point for migrants who enter Europe illegally.
Since last year, nearly 200,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey, mostly through border posts or areas known to be free of mines. A Syrian man and two children were reported killed in August, however, by an explosive in an area of Mardin province that had been mined by the Turkish military. Syrian forces last year were also suspected of laying some mines to stem an embarrassing refugee flight into Turkey.
A Turkish smuggler in the border village of Akinci, south of the city of Gaziantep, said he has charged Syrian refugees up to 25 Turkish lira ($14) each to lead them through Turkish minefields. He has also acted as a lookout, monitoring shifts of Turkish military sentries and telling another smuggler who escorts Syrian clients, usually before dawn.
"I don't know where they are going. I don't care," said the gaunt man, who would not give his name and claimed he was desperate for cash. "I know it's risky for me, but I have to do it."
According to lore, villagers used to enter the Akinci mosque, which lies beside a minefield, for prayers and then sneak out the back into Syria for business.
On foot, mule or motorcycle, smugglers traditionally brought in items from Syria, including tea, gasoline, cigarettes, electronics and livestock, to sell for a profit in Turkey. The Syrian war has disrupted but not extinguished the trade among communities that were abruptly divided when the border was drawn in the last century.
Some smugglers try their luck at border posts, which became easier to cross when visa requirements were removed in 2009 after the warming of ties between Turkey and Syrian President Bashar Assad, now an enemy because of his attacks on the Syrian opposition. A few weeks ago, a Syrian man was detained while trying to enter Turkey with gold bars in his waistband.
Approved traffic moves the other way, as Turkey and other nations that oppose Assad send logistical and humanitarian aid to Syrian rebels and civilians. While Turkey says it is not arming the insurgency, Syrian rebels have told The Associated Press they receive some weapons and ammunition from the Turkish side with only sporadic interference from border patrols. According to rebels, these weapons are bought with funding from rich Syrians or sympathetic Gulf Arabs.
Fences are down and cars can cross in some parts adjoining Syria's Idlib province, an opposition stronghold.
The first mines on the Syrian border were planted after smugglers killed two customs agents in 1956. Turkey laid more mines in the 1980s and 1990s, at the height of its war with the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which was backed by Syria. Turkey is again worried about possible infiltration by Kurdish rebels who are cheered by an autonomy grab by their ethnic brethren in Syria.
The Turkish defense ministry told the AP it started evaluating bids from demining companies in July and would sign contracts once the assessment is complete.
"Developments in Syria to this day have not affected our plans or work," the ministry said. NATO said it is assisting with "technical preparations" for the mine clearance.
Cenk Sidar, managing director of Sidar Global Advisors, a Washington-based consultancy, said he believed that Turkey would sign contracts but wait until the Syrian civil war is resolved.
"According to plans, the government will build electronic border surveillance systems simultaneously with the demining. Even this seems too risky at this point," Sidar wrote in an email. "It may take a few years, and some qualified/selected firms may change their pricing or conditions due to the increasing instability."
Between 2010 and 2011, a Turkish firm, Nokta, and a partner from Azerbaijan cleared more than 1,200 mines around an archaeological site, Karkemish, on the Syrian border. They found anti-tank mines and M14 mines known as "toe poppers." It was hard to work with metal detectors because the soil also contained remnants of coins and other ancient fragments; some mines had to be dug out by hand rather than detonated to avoid damaging cultural treasures.
There is no reliable data for casualties from mines laid by the Turkish military, whose fight with the PKK has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The rebels, who regularly target security forces with mines and roadside bombs, took up arms in 1984 in the name of Kurdish rights; Turkey and the West label them terrorists.
Residents around Akinci recalled a villager who lost a limb to a mine several years ago while cutting trees for military sentries. Halil Kaya, 64, said he had heard of several dozen people over the decades who were killed or injured by mines. A deep furrow runs down Kaya's right forearm from a Turkish military bullet in his days as a smuggler.
Mehmet Dagdeviren, 49, said the Turkish military had softened and now might only fire warning shots at smugglers. He interrupted the chat to take a phone call, then rushed to a car and drove away.
A delivery from Syria needed collection.

Female military members sue to serve in combat

Plaintiff Colleen Farrell, a U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant, speaks during a media conference Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in San Francisco. Several active women military personnel have filed a federal lawsuit to demand combat action, requesting all branches of the military to remove the so-called combat exclusionary rule that bars women from fighting on the front lines. This suit, to be filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, is believed to be the first involving active duty military personnel. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Four female service members filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Pentagon's ban on women serving in combat, hoping the move will add pressure to drop the policy just as officials are gauging the effect that lifting the prohibition will have on morale. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, is the second one this year over the 1994 rule that bars women from being assigned to ground combat units, which are smaller and considered more dangerous since they are often in battle for longer periods.
The legal effort comes less than a year after the ban on gays serving openly was lifted and as officials are surveying Marines about whether women would be a distraction in ground combat units.
"I'm trying to get rid of the ban with a sharp poke," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt, who was among the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit and was injured in 2007 when her Humvee ran over an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
Hunt and the other three women said the policy unfairly blocks them from promotions and other advancements open to men in combat. Three of the women are in the reserves. A fourth, Marine Corp Lt. Colleen Farrell, leaves active duty this week.
Women comprise 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel. The lawsuit alleges that women are barred from 238,000 positions across the Armed Forces.
At a Washington, D.C., news conference, Pentagon press secretary George Little said the Defense Department was making strides in allowing more women into combat. He said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has opened about 14,500 combat positions to women.
"And he has directed the services to explore the possibility of opening additional roles for women in the military," Little said. "His record is very strong on this issue."
American Civil Liberties Union Ariela Migdal, who represents the four women, said Panetta's actions weren't enough. She called for an end to the combat ban. "These tweaks and minor changes on the margins do a disservice to all the women who serve," she said.
"It falls short," she said. "It is not enough."
Marine Corps Capt. Zoe Bedell said she left active duty, in large part, because of the combat exclusion policy. Bedell said she was frustrated that her advancement in the Marines was blocked by her inability to serve directly in combat units.
"The military is the last place where you are allowed to be discriminated against because of you gender," she said.
Bedell said the blurred front lines of modern warfare, with suicide bombs and sniper attacks, have put more and more women in combat situations.
More than 144 female troops have been killed and more than 860 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began, according to Pentagon statistics. Roughly 20,000 of the 205,000 service members currently serving in Afghanistan are women.
Military leaders say they want to make sure lifting gender-based barriers would not disrupt the cohesion of the smaller combat ground units and military operations.
The Marine Corps' top leader, Gen. James Amos, ordered a survey of 53,000 troops to get their views, including whether they believe women in those units would distract male Marines from doing their jobs. The results have not been released yet.
The lawsuit alleges the ban violates constitutional female service members' equal rights. "As a direct result of this policy," the lawsuit states, "women — as a class and solely because of their gender — are barred from entire career fields.
The lawsuit also alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units.
Air National Guard Major Mary Jennings Hegar sustained shrapnel wounds in 2009 when she exchanged fire on the ground in Afghanistan after her Medevac helicopter was shot down. Both she and Hunt received Purple Heart medals for their injuries.
The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Woman fined $105,000 after ex-boyfriend registered car in her name then parked it at airport for three years

A single, unemployed mother claims that she's unlawfully being charged over $100,000 in parking ticket fines for a car she didn't even know belonged to her. Jennifer Fitzgerald said her ex-boyfriend Brandon Preveau, a United Airlines employee, bought a used car, a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo, for $600 in 2008 and registered it in her name without her knowing. The couple broke up in 2009, and he dumped the car in an O'Hare International Airport parking lot.

Now three years later, the car has received 687 parking tickets, equaling a hefty $105,761.81 fine. It's the highest ever fine in Chicago history. Fitzgerald claims that she didn't know the car was parked in the airport. However, even if she did, Chicago law states that any car parked for more than 30 days in a city-owned lot is subject to an immediate tow to a city pound or authorized garage. She's arguing that the majority of the tickets would not have even been issued if the car had been towed.

When she found the first bunch of tickets, she claimed she tried to move the car herself, but she did not have the keys. She then asked the Chicago Police Department to help her move the car, but they did not have access to the lot. She then had the Illinois Secretary of State revoke the licence plates in September 2010 - but the car still received tickets. Fitzgerald then was told to transfer the registration and title to her ex-boyfriend by a judge to give him the responsibility, a move which the city deemed inadequate.

YouTube link.

Fitzgerald has lost her license as a result of all the tickets. The car still remains in an impound lot. A lawyer has taken on Fitzgerald's case for free. She is suing her ex-boyfriend, the city and United Airlines - who she claims should have towed the car 30 days after it was parked - for the debacle. The case will be heard in court in spring 2013.

Judge orders tobacco companies to admit deception publicly

Major tobacco companies must take out advertisements saying they deliberately deceived the U.S. public about the danger and addictiveness of cigarettes, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
The ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia aims to finalize the wording of the advertisements that the judge first ordered in 2006 after finding the companies violated federal racketeering law.
Cigarette butts in an ashtray in Los Angeles, California, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Tobacco companies fought a public admission of deception, calling it a violation of their free speech rights.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the companies' position, finding that the final wording - which the companies and the U.S. Justice Department have fought over for years - is factual and not controversial.
There are five different statements that the companies will be required to advertise.
One of them begins: "A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes."
The advertisements will be placed in media that are still to be determined, and they will be different from the warning labels that already are on tobacco products.
"The government regularly requires wrongdoers to make similar disclosures in a number of different contexts," Kessler wrote, calling the language "basic, uncomplicated".
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, which had urged the strong language, had no immediate comment.
Two of the largest companies, Altria Group Inc and Reynolds American Inc, did not immediately return messages requesting comment. The companies could continue to fight the language with another appeal in a case that began in 1999 with the government's racketeering charges.

More Facebook friends means more stress

A large number of friends on Facebook may appear impressive but, according to a new report, the more social circles ...
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New study identifies physiological evidence for "chemobrain" in cancer patients

A study presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) offers new evidence that chemotherapy can create changes in the brain that affect cognitive function. Using PET/CT scans, researchers detected physiological evidence of chemobrain, a common side effect of chemo in cancer treatment.
Instead of studying chemotherapy's effect on the brain's appearance, [Dr. Rachel A. Lagos] and colleagues set out to identify its effect on brain function. By using PET/CT, they were able to assess changes to the brain's metabolism after chemotherapy.
"When we looked at the results, we were surprised at how obvious the changes were," Dr. Lagos said. "Chemo brain phenomenon is more than a feeling. It is not depression. It is a change in brain function observable on PET/CT brain imaging."

Here's the full press release.

Losing ZZs Adds Pounds

A new study finds several ways that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain.
Losing ZZs Adds Pounds: DNews Nugget

Autism Linked to Air Pollution

Children with the greatest exposure to particulate matter are found to be twice at risk for autism. Read more
  Autism Linked to Air Pollution

The Future's Platinum: Flower Power

800px-Alyssum_montanum2 Fields of native flowers may soon become high tech nanoparticle factories. Read more

Climate Change Threatens French Truffle

Drier summers are killing the prized black truffle that grows on oak and hazelnut trees.  

Random Photo

Brazil deforestation hits record low

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2009, file photo a forest in the Amazon is seen being illegally burnt, near Novo Progresso, in the northern Brazilian state of Para. Brazil's lower house of Congress is expected to vote Tuesday, April 24, 2012, on changes to the nation's benchmark environmental law that detractors say would weaken protections for the Amazon rainforest and stoke more destruction. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, file)
 Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest level in 24 years, the government said Tuesday.
Satellite imagery showed that 1,798 square miles (4,656 square kilometers) of the Amazon were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said a news conference. That's 27 percent less than the 2,478 square miles (6,418 square kilometers) deforested a year earlier. The margin of error is 10 percentage points.
Brazil's National Institute for Space Research said the deforestation level is the lowest since it started measuring the destruction of the rainforest in 1988.
Sixty-three percent of the rainforest's 2.4 million square miles (6.1 million square kilometers) are in Brazil.
The space institute said that the latest figures show that Brazil is close to its 2020 target of reducing deforestation by 80 percent from 1990 levels. Through July 2012 deforestation dropped by 76.26 percent.
George Pinto a director of Ibama, Brazil's environmental protection agency, told reporters that better enforcement of environmental laws and improved surveillance technology are behind the drop in deforestation levels.
Pinto said that in the 12-month period a total of 2,000 square meters of illegally felled timber were seized by government agents. The impounded lumber is sold in auctions and the money obtained is invested in environmental preservation programs.
Environment Minister Teixeira said that starting next year Brazil will start using satellite monitoring technology to detect illegal logging and slash-and-burn activity and issue fines.
"Over the past several years Brazil has made a huge effort to contain deforestation and the latest figures testify to its success," said Adalberto Verissimo, a senior researcher at Imazon, an environmental watchdog agency. "The deforestation figures are extremely positive, for they point to a consistent downward trend."
"The numbers disprove the argument that deforestation is necessary for the country's economy to grow, he said by telephone from his office in the Amazon city of Belem." Deforestation has been dropping steadily for the past four years while the economy has grown," he said
"But the war is far from over. We still have a lot of battles to fight and win."
For Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace coordinator in the Amazon region, said the lower figures show that reducing deforestation is perfectly possible, but he added that "the numbers are still too high for a country that does not have to destroy one single hectare in order to develop."