Welcome to ...

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

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Daily Drift

It feels like one of those days ...

Today's readers have been in:

Groningen, Netherlands
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cork, Ireland
Zurich, Switzerland
Singapore, Singapore
Paramaribo, Suriname
Galati, Romania
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Santiago, Chile
Limerick, Ireland
Nyon, Switzerland
Dublin, Ireland
Naaldwijk, Netherlands
Seoul, Korea
Vantaa, Finland
Cairo, Egypt
Reykjavik, Iceland
Prague, Czech Republic
Sampaloc, Philippines
As, Norway
Lomonosov, Russia
Bern, Switzerland
Kulim, Malaysia

As well as these cities around the USA:

Waxhaw, Gretna, Aliso Viejo, Leipsic and Absecon.

Today in History

325 The Ecumenical council is inaugurated by Emperor Constantine in Nicea.
1303 A peace treaty is signed between England and France.
1347 Cola di Rienzo takes the title of tribune in Rome.
1520 Hernando Cortes defeats Spanish troops sent against him in Mexico.
1690 England passes the Act of Grace, forgiving followers of James II.
1674 John Sobieski becomes Poland's first king.
1774 Parliament passes the Coercive Acts to punish the colonists for their increasingly anti-British behavior. The acts close the port of Boston.
1775 North Carolina becomes the first colony to declare its independence.
1784 The Peace of Versailles ends a war between France, England, and Holland.
1799 Napoleon Bonaparte orders a withdrawal from his siege of St. Jean d'Acre in Egypt.
1859 A force of Austrians collide with Piedmontese cavalry at the village of Montebello, in northern Italy.
1861 North Carolina becomes the last state to secede from the Union.
1862 President Lincoln signs the Homestead Act, providing 250 million acres of free land to settlers in the West.
1874 Levi Strauss begins marketing blue jeans with copper rivets.
1902 The U.S. military occupation of Cuba ends.
1927 Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York for Paris.
1930 The first airplane is catapulted from a dirigible.
1932 Amelia Earhart lands near Londonderry, Ireland, to become the first woman fly solo across the Atlantic.
1939 Pan American Airways starts the first regular passenger service across the Atlantic.
1941 Germany invades Crete by air.
1942 Japan completes the conquest of Burma.
1951 During the Korean War, U.S. Air Force Captain James Jabara becomes the first jet air ace in history.
1961 A white mob attacks civil rights activists in Montgomery, Alabama.
1969 In South Vietnam, troops of the 101st Airborne Division reach the top of Hill 937 after nine days of fighting entrenched North Vietnamese forces.
1970 100,000 people march in New York, supporting U.S. policies in Vietnam.

The truth be told

Charities spent millions on direct mail

If you've ever wondered how much money charities spend mailing you those glossy brochures and free address labels along with their request for a donation, the answer might surprise you.

And I Quote

The House Republican Who Defied Grover Norquist and Lived to Tell the Truth to the American People Instead:

"The tax code is weighted toward the ultra-wealthy and ultra-wealthy corporations, and has created an offshore aristocracy of people who can afford to hire an army of accountants and lawyers. This shifts the tax burden to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and others."
~ Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (r-Neb.)

ECB official: EU banks "very close to having a collapse" last autumn

It has been clear for a while that this banking crisis was not going away any time soon. We now know for certain that the European banks were in bad condition last autumn and this week, we're seeing the downgrade of 16 banks in Spain including the global behemoth Santander. There remains plenty of uncertainty due to the ongoing issues in Greece, Spain and the Eurozone in general.
We're four years on from the crash, so when will the banking crisis end? So far it's been mostly about pain for the general population and too little change for the banks.

More on the crisis from The Guardian:
A senior executive at the European Central Bank has admitted eurozone banks were on the brink of collapse last autumn.

In an interview with the BBC to be broadcast on Thursday, Benoît Coeuré, executive director of the ECB, said: "In the autumn of 2011 the conditions were very dangerous … European banks were facing severe difficulties to fund themselves, to access finance, and we were very close to having a collapse in the banking system in the euro area, which would have also led to a collapse in the economy and to deflation. And this is something that the ECB could not accept."

The concern about the state of the banking system led to €1tn being lent to banks through three-year loans and came as UK banks were told to make preparations for a potential exit of countries from the single currency.

More signs of economic problems in China

Demand for raw materials from abroad has been slowing and real estate has been showing signs of cracking for a while. The next few months will be a difficult test for China, but with an economy as large as theirs that requires constant growth, it won't be easy. Any growth below 8% will be a sign of trouble, which means a high risk of social instability. At the moment, China is on a fine line and may fall below that growth level.

China’s home prices fell in a record number of cities last month and car dealers posted inventory levels that foreshadowed deeper price cuts, adding to signs of slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Prices of new homes fell from a year earlier in 46 of the 70 cities tracked by the National Bureau of Statistics, the agency said today. Dealerships for Honda Motor Co., Chery Automobile Co., BYD Co. (1211) and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. had more than 45 days of inventory at the end of last month, according to an official from the government-backed China Automobile Dealers Association.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. today joined banks including Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG in lowering its estimate for China’s second-quarter growth after weaker-than-forecast economic data released last week. The nation’s expansion may drop to a 13-year low this year, a Bloomberg News survey this week showed, as Europe’s debt crisis crimps exports and a campaign to rein in property speculation curbs domestic demand.


From the newswire

  Man Arrested for Throwing Bible at Roommate   (UPI)

  • Authorities in Florida said they arrested a man accused of throwing a Bible at the back of his roommate's head.
  •   Boot-Shaped Chicken Nugget Up for Auction   (UPI)

  • A Florida sheriff's office is selling a chicken nugget shaped like a cowboy boot to benefit its program for children.
  •   World's Tallest Lego Tower Built in Seoul   (UPI)

  • Lego officials in South Korea announced the crown prince of Denmark placed the final brick on the world's largest Lego tower, measuring 104 feet, 8 inches tall. 
  •   Family Wakes to Find Lexus in Pool   (Associated Press)

  • The Diaz family awoke to find a Lexus at the bottom of their swimming pool. 
  •   Cafe Full of Cats Opens in Vienna   (The Telegraph)

  • Austria's first cat cafe, where customers can have drinks while playing with cats, has opened in Vienna.
  •   Canadian Woman: No Memory of Hitting Moose   (UPI)

  • A Canadian woman says she has no memory of driving 25 miles down the highway after hitting a moose.
  •   Rooster Attacks Woman at Cemetery   (Associated Press)

  • A rooster was quarantined after attacking an 83-year-old woman who was visiting a loved one's grave at a southwestern Michigan cemetery.
  •   Man Claims 49 Lizards Were for Lunch   (Agence France Presse)

  • A German man stopped at customs with 49 live exotic lizards in his bag claimed they were destined for the cooking pot and even offered to bite one's head off to prove it.
  •   Woman Runs Over Husband in Voting Dispute   (UPI)

  • A woman intent on voting for one candidate in Wisconsin's gubernatorial recall primary election ran over her estranged husband, who backed another.
  •   Man Changes Name to Tyrannosaurus Rex   (Associated Press)

  • A 23-year-old southeast Nebraska man has legally become Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  •   Judge Jails Man for Taking Call in Court   (Associated Press)

  • A Northern Ireland man received a brief jail sentence after his phone rang, the judge told him to turn it off, but instead he took the call and had a brief chat.
  •   6th Graders Made Porn Video at School   (Associated Press)

  • Authorities in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Campeche have launched an investigation into a porn video made inside a classroom by sixth-graders at a local school.
  •   Family Says Home Invaded by Opossums   (Associated Press)

  • Members of a metro Atlanta family say opossums have taken over their living space, where the critters have been hanging from potted trees and swimming in the toilet.
  •   Capsules Contain Powdered Flesh of Dead Babies   (Yahoo! News)

  • The South Korean government revealed that it recently seized thousands of capsules filled with the powdered flesh of dead babies.
  •   Man Finds Turtle with Son's Initials on It   (UPI)

  • A Pennsylvania man said he recently found a live turtle his son carved his initials into 47 years ago.
  •   Man Called 911 to Report Phone Problems   (UPI)

  • An Illinois man who called 911 five times to complain about his iPhone not working properly was sentenced to a year of probation and a $1,000 fine.
  •   Woman Sues Dentist, Says She Swallowed Tool   (Associated Press)

  • A central Kentucky woman is suing a dentist, accusing him of dropping a small screwdriver down her throat that migrated to her digestive tract and later required surgery to remove.
  •   Man's Eye Plucked Out in Spat Over Radio   (Associated Press)

  • A roommate squabble has left a man with only one good eye after a dispute over a loud radio turned violent.
  •   Report of Mexican Woman Expecting Nine Babies a Hoax   (Reuters)

  • Reports that a woman in northern Mexico is pregnant with nine babies are a hoax.
  •   Man Complains Flight Attendant Woke Him   (UPI)

  • An Arizona man filed a complaint with police saying a flight attendant "rudely" woke him up by tapping his knee with a magazine.
  •   Friends Throw Dogs $5,000 Wedding   ([Palm Springs] Desert Sun)

  • What began as an innocent summer fling turned into happily ever after for two love-struck canines.
  •   Penguin Stolen from Theme Park   (The Telegraph)

  • Three men have been arrested after breaking into a Queensland Sea World to swim with the dolphins and steal a fairy penguin.
  •   Germany Sends Grenades in Potato Shipment   (UPI)

  • Two World War II-era hand grenades were discovered in a shipment of potatoes from Germany being unloaded at a Greek processing plant.
  •   Pilot Suspended for Meat Run   (UPI)

  • A Scottish butcher says he was surprised the pilot of a Shetland Coastguard helicopter was suspended for landing next to his shop to pick up a to-go order.
  •   Hundreds of Thousands May Lose Internet Access in July   (Associated Press)

  • For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.
  •   Alabama Bans Beer Brand Over Dirty Name   (Associated Press)

  • You can buy Fat Bastard wine in Alabama, but you'll have to go elsewhere for Dirty Bastard beer.
  •   Woman Who Asked to Get Stabbed Gets Prison   (Associated Press)

  • Two southeast Nebraska people have been given a year behind bars because one of them asked the other to stab her.
  •   McDonald's Customers Had Phlegm in Drinks   (Associated Press)

  • Deputies say a McDonald's employee spit in the iced tea of two customers after they returned them saying the drinks weren't sweet enough.
  •   Man Charged for Stealing School Typewriter   (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • A man has been charged with burglary after he allegedly broke into a former Seattle school � to steal a typewriter.
  •   Man Found Hiding in Toilet at Festival   (Associated Press)

  • Boulder police are looking for a man who hid in the tank of a portable toilet at a yoga festival.
  •   Inmate Sues Hospital Over Circumcision   (Associated Press)

  • A prison inmate in South Dakota is suing a hospital for performing a circumcision on him nearly 30 years ago.
  •   Phone Left in Plane's Restroom Triggers Bomb Scare   (Associated Press)

  • A Delta Air Lines flight bound for the United States made an emergency landing in Dublin because a passenger left a cell phone plugged into a socket in one of the aircraft's restrooms.
  •   Fugitive Who Noted Escape on Facebook Arrested   (Associated Press)

  • A man whose Facebook page got the attention of authorities after he eluded police has been arrested.
  •   Lotto Winner Charged with Welfare Fraud   (Associated Press)

  • A Michigan woman who continued to get food stamps after winning a $1 million lottery jackpot has been charged with welfare fraud.
  • Mother accuses school of forcing 13 year old girl to give Facebook password

    Besides being an obvious violation of privacy, it just sounds creepy not to mention wrong. School officials are claiming no such thing happened, that it would open the school up to legal problems. Hopefully there's a big mistake with this story because there is no way this should be tolerated.

    Pam Broviak, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Geneva, Ill., says her daughter was traumatized when the principal of Geneva Middle School South forced the child to log in to her Facebook account, then rummaged through the girl's private information.

    "What a violation of my daughter's privacy this whole episode was," Broviak said. The incident took "a huge toll on my daughter, who ended up crying through most of the rest of the day and therefore missed most of her classes. She was embarrassed and very upset."

    There have been several descriptions lately of Facebook prying by schools – and one lawsuit was filed recently by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of an anonymous plaintiff against a school district that allegedly demanded a student’s social media passwords. But Broviak may be the first parent to go public with concerns about what she sees as serious violations of student privacy.

    Facebook sued for tracking users, even after they logged out

    Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook and like (and love) it, but the regular stream of privacy problems encouraged me to delete my account years ago. As the financial pressure on Facebook to hit quarterly and annual numbers increases, this is likely to get worse than it already is today.
    Privacy matters:
    Facebook is being sued for $15 billion for tracking users, even after they have logged out of the social network, and violating federal wiretap laws. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Facebook faces nationwide class action tracking cookie lawsuit.

    Today’s lawsuit, filed in Federal Court in San Jose, California, combines 21 separate cases across the U.S. in 2011 and early 2012. It’s an amended consolidated class-action complaint that claims the company is invading the privacy of its users by tracking them across the Internet. If the claimants are successful in their case against Facebook, they could prevent Menlo Park from collecting the huge amount of data it collects about its users to serve ads back to them.

    Random Photos

    Man's defibrillator stops knife during attack

    San Diego police say the 57-year-old got into an argument with an acquaintance early Thursday near some elevators at the trolley station for the Fashion Valley shopping mall.

    Woman stabbed man with seashell

    A 40-year-old woman accused of stabbing a man with a seashell and biting his ear has been arrested on a felony charge.
    A 41-year-old man told Port St. Lucie police at about 3 a.m. on May 15 that he and Patricia Wehr "went out for drinks because she had to be in court tomorrow for a battery charge ... and she was stressed," according to a recently released police report.

    The man said they had a fine time until returning home. Wehr, he said, was intoxicated and started an argument. He said she tried to grab his head, scratching his face. He said Wehr bit him on his ear in the bedroom before following him to the kitchen. He said she stabbed his shoulder about four times with a "sea shell similar to a thin conch shell."

    Meanwhile, the man said he tried to get away and sat on a couch, but Wehr jumped on him. The attack, he said, stopped when he called 911. Wehr, listed as a dental assistant, told police she was going to lose her job. She also wanted the man out of her home. Wehr, of the 2600 block of Southeast Morningside Boulevard in Port St. Lucie, was arrested on an aggravated battery with a deadly weapon charge.

    This is so wrong

    Six human fetuses which had been roasted and covered in gold leaf as part of a black magic ritual have been seized from a British citizen in Bangkok, Thai police said.
    Chow Hok Kuen, 28, who is of Taiwanese origin, was arrested with the grisly haul in the city’s Chinatown this past Thursday, police said. The corpses had been packed into luggage and were set to be smuggled to Taiwan.
    The suspect bought the fetuses several days ago from a Taiwanese man in Thailand for 200,000 baht ($6500) and planned to sell them in Taiwan for up to six times that amount, police said. The origin of the fetuses was unclear.

    Man with 30 kids wants state help to pay his child support

    A 33-year-old man who's fathered 30 kids is asking the state of Tennessee to give him a hand with his child support payments. Desmond Hatchett is having a tough time making ends meet while working a minimum wage job and seeing half of his paycheck get split up between his 11 baby mamas.
    Uh, no.

    Daily Comic Relief

    Woman Eats Rocks

    I like a crunchy snack now and then, but Teresa Widener really ttakes that to a whole other level: she likes to eat rocks.
    Yep. Rocks:
    “Mmm-hmm, yeah. They crunch on my teeth,” said Teresa Widener while eating her favorite snack.
    Chocolate-covered pretzels? Everyone likes those.
    “I like that it has an earthy flavor,” added Widener, who is 45 and lives in Bedford, Va.

    French fries? Terra chips?
    No, “crunch” and “earthy” aren’t culinary terms of art — they’re literal. Widener, a mother of two who works with special-needs children, eats rocks.
    She doesn’t wash them. Sometimes she just sucks off the dirt. Other times, she takes a hammer and smacks them into bite-size pieces.

    Organic Food Turns You Into a Jerk

    Love organic food? Then you're a jerk ... at least according to research.
    Pschologist Kendall Eskine of Loyola University in New Orleans showed that people exposed to organic food are more judgmental and volunteer less than those exposed to comfort food:
    When it came to helping out a needy stranger, the organic people also proved to be more selfish, volunteering only 13 minutes as compared to 19 minutes (for controls) and 24 minutes (for comfort food folks).
    "There's something about being exposed to organic food that made them feel better about themselves," says Eskine. "And that made them kind of jerks a little bit, I guess."
    Why does eating better make us act worse? Eskine says it probably has to do with what he calls "moral licensing."
    "People may feel like they've done their good deed," he says. "That they have permission, or license, to act unethically later on. It's like when you go to the gym and run a few miles and you feel good about yourself, so you eat a candy bar."

    Brand New Fruit Called A 'Papple'

    The new fruit
    A fruit so new it is yet to be named, but described as a pear disguised as an apple, is to go on sale in the UK next week....

    What Do Strawberries and Petri Dishes Have In Common?

    Lots, surprisingly!
    Just think of this: If you bite into a juicy strawberry this summer, chances are you're eating something that's actually been grown in a petri dish.

    NPR's Dan Charles of All Things Considered tells us the secret life of strawberries:
    That strawberry you just bought at the supermarket traces its ancestry to a microscopic particle of plant tissue that somebody cut from the tip of a growing strawberry stem five years ago.
    That tiny bit of strawberry stem went into a little glass petri dish and grew into a new plant. Then it sent out dozens of little daughter plants called "runners."
    "Those runners are basically clones of the mother," explains Daren Gee, owner of Daren's Berries in Santa Maria, California, whom I caught in the middle of his peak harvest time. "And then they plant those, and take the daughters off of that one, and do it again and again and again."
    The whole process takes years. The plants are multiplied first in carefully controlled greenhouses; then in fields in the heat of California's Central Valley. Finally, the plants are trucked up into the mountains along the California-Oregon border. It's cold up there, which is crucial. Somehow the cold gets these plants primed for maximum production.
    "And then they'll dig up these mother plants, and all the daughters, and they'll throw the mothers away and they'll send me the daughters," says Gee. It's those daughters that produce California's monster strawberry crop.

    Group Sues Nebraska over Denial of Medicaid Coverage

    An advocacy group has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services over its Medicaid coverage for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

    The Cholesterol Debate: HDL a Lost Cause?

    A day after a study in the journal Lancet challenged the long-standing notion that raising levels of HDL -- commonly known as "good" cholesterol -- prevents heart attacks, top cardiology experts differed on whether the research really means the end of the road for therapies aimed at boosting HDL levels to beat back heart disease.

    Death warning over stolen plants

    Hundreds of plants stolen from a National Trust reserve in Derbyshire are potentially lethal if taken as a medicine, police have warned.
    The plants, Arum maculatum, were stolen from the reserve at Dovedale and police believe people may use them as a treatment for cancer. Officers warned that the plants have the potential to kill if they are not prepared properly.

    Other side effects include sore throat, stomach pains and irregular heartbeat. Wildlife crime officer PC Emerson Buckingham said: "We are concerned because these plants are poisonous.

    "It's been suggested that they could be used to fight cancer." The plants are more commonly known as Lords and Ladies or Cuckoo Pint.

    Pollution teams with thunderclouds to warm atmosphere

    Pollution is warming the atmosphere through summer thunderstorm clouds, according to a computational study published May 10 in Geophysical Research ...
    Continue Reading


     Starry Night
    Starry Night

    Wild elephant herds mourn death of man who helped them

    Author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony died March 2. His family tells of a solemn procession of Elephants that defies human explanation.
    For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”