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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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Daily Drift

In a home by the sea ... Mewn cartref gan y môr

Some of our readers today have been in:
Johannesburg, South Africa
Medellin, Colombia
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Makati, Philippines
George Town, Malaysia
Caracas, Venezuela
Cape Town, South Africa
Kingston, Jamaica
Ankara, Turkey
Moscow, Russia
Mandaluyong, Philippines
Surabaya, Indonesia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Purwokerto, Indonesia
Sanaa, Yemen
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Lahore, Pakistan
Dhaka, Bangladesh

And let us not forget all those American readers in such two word named cities like:
La Crosse, Baton Rouge, Saint Louis, Saint Paul, Belle Fourche, Old Town, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Cedar Rapids, Roanoke Rapids, West Chester, Point Orchard, El Paso, Valle Cruces, Mountain View, Little Rock, Lake Placid, Hazel Park, Santa Rosa, El Centro, San Francisco, San Diego ...

And not to be left out that three word named city - New York City!

Top Colombian official to advise Mexican candidate

General Oscar Naranjo tells The Associated Press that he has been approached by the Pena Nieto campaign to work in an advisory role.

Today in History

240 BC Eratosthenes estimates the circumference of Earth using two sticks.
1536 Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, is beheaded.
1778 General George Washington's troops finally leave Valley Forge after a winter of training.
1821 The Ottomans defeat the Greeks at the Battle of Dragasani.
1846 The New York Knickerbocker Club plays the New York Club in the first baseball game at Elysian Field, Hoboken, New Jersey.
1848 The first Women's Rights Convention convenes in Seneca Falls, New York.
1861 Virginians, in what will soon be West Virginia, elect Francis Pierpoint as their provisional governor.
1862 President Abraham Lincoln outlines his Emancipation Proclamation. News of the document reaches the South.
1864 The USS Kearsarge sinks the CSS Alabama off of Cherbourg, France.
1867 Mexican Emperor Maximillian is executed.
1885 The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City from France.
1903 The young school teacher, Benito Mussolini, is placed under investigation by police in Bern, Switzerland.
1919 Mustafa Kemal founds the Turkish National Congress at Ankara and denounces the Treaty of Versailles.
1933 France grants Leon Trotsky political asylum.
1934 The National Archives and Records Administration is established.
1937 The town of Bilbao, Spain, falls to the Nationalist forces.
1942 Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Washington D.C. to discuss the invasion of North Africa with President Roosevelt.
1944 U.S. Navy carrier-based planes shatter the remaining Japanese carrier forces in the Battle of the Marianas.
1951 President Harry S. Truman signs the Universal Military Training and Service Act, which extends Selective Service until July 1, 1955 and lowers the draft age to 18.
1958 Nine entertainers refuse to answer a congressional committee's questions on communism.
1961 Kuwait regains complete independence from Britain.
1963 Soviet cosmonaut, Valentia Tereshkova, becomes the first woman in space.
1965 Air Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky becomes South Vietnam's youngest premier at age 34.
1968 Over 50,000 people march on Washington, D.C. to support the Poor People's Campaign.
1973 The Case-Church Amendment prevents further U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia.
1987 The U.S. Supreme Court voids the Louisiana law requiring schools to teach creationism.
1995 The Richmond Virginia Planning Commission approves plans to place a memorial statue of tennis professional Arthur Ashe.

The DREAM is still alive

Obama bypasses Congress on DREAM Act, stops deporting young illegals
The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives.

'Vagina' Muzzles Female Lawmaker

Two Michigan state representatives were told that they wouldn’t be recognized to publicly speak on any matters before the House because of comments they made.  
There is another word used for 'vagina' that is also used to denote one of lacking fortitude (a weakling as it were) and that word is 'PUSSY'. Mike Callton you are a PUSSY.

Words Wingnuts Hate

It's not just about promoting catchwords like the "death tax" -- repugicans have also been fighting to suppress words deemed overly liberal.
Bisexual sustainable development activists working to prevent climate change-related sea-level rise better watch out:
Just about all the preceding words have been flagged by wingnuts as liberal buzzwords that need to be stricken from public conversation, according to a spate of recent news stories.

Do you know ...

... about the repugican's disturbing passion for raising taxes on the poor.

Romney prefers to bring back pre-existing condition discrimination

Who would ever guess that a super rich white guy is in favor of screwing the general public? This has always been one of the most annoying aspects of the old US healthcare system because with few exceptions, everyone has a pre-existing condition (keep in mind that asthma, high cholesterol, even exczema could be considered a pre-existing condition precluding you from getting insurance).

If you're a rich guy like Romney, it's not a concern because it's easy to buy your way out of the problem. For everyone else, you have to wonder about the financial impact during an already stressful financial time that Paul Krugman is now calling a depression.

For all of the noise Romney made about Obama's poor choice of words last week when he said the private economy is doing "fine", this is much worse. This is a candidate talking about rolling back one of the provisions of Obamacare that people like and desperately need. Unlike the old days, most working families today change jobs often (compared to other parts of the world) which means signing up for new insurance plans each time you change jobs (and if you lose your job you eventuality lose your insurance).

Imagine the fun when you reach midlife and have kids and then discover you suddenly have a gaping hole in your insurance plan. This is a really big deal and it impacts almost every American. Romney continues to believe in insurance fantasy land where a few tweaks somehow make the problem go away.

When asked by the Huffington Post about their plan for pre-existing conditions, they did provide a response:
Fixing our health care system means making sure that every American, regardless of their health care needs, can find quality, affordable coverage. That is why Governor Romney supports reforms to protect those with pre-existing conditions from being denied access to a health plan while they have continuous coverage. And for those purchasing insurance for the first time, he supports reforms that empower states to make high risk pools more accessible by using cost reducing methods like risk adjustment and reinsurance. Beginning on his first day in office, Governor Romney is committed to working with Congress to enact polices like these that protect Americans’ access to the care they need.
This "plan" only shows how out of touch the campaign is on one of the central issues of the day.
The statement confirms that under a Romney presidency, there would be no federal prohibition barring health insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions. Instead, his administration would push reforms that help eat away at the problem. It would allow "reinsurance," in which insurance companies pool resources for a joint plan to cover high-risk patients (essentially an insurance policy for health insurers); provide block grants of Medicaid dollars to the states while giving them flexibility to cover their uninsured population; and encourage the creation of high-risk pools.

The Romney campaign believes that while a combination of these reforms won't eliminate the problem of people entering the health insurance market with a pre-existing condition and encountering discrimination, it will decrease it.
Many wish that the current healthcare reform did a lot more and had less gains for Big Insurance and Big Pharma but turning back the clock to the old way is not an option. Team Romney remains unable to appreciate the seriousness of the insurance situation, which is understandable though not excusable -- when you're worth a quarter of a billion dollars you don't need health insurance.

Mitt "Major pornographer" Romney now "major gambler" too

It's a funny thing, those Mormons.
They're very good at spending their millions to force other Americans to live under the Mormon religious coda, but when it comes to enforcing their own religious dictates against themselves... the Mormons seem increasingly squishy of late, especially when it comes to the nation's most famous Mormon, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

First there was Mitt Romney's ties to Marriott and their porn business.  Romney was on Marriott's board until he decided to run for president.  Porn is a big no-no to the Mormons, who are basically akin to the religious right in their far right stance on social issues and their exuberance for forcing those of other faiths to live under Mormon rules.

But that didn't stop Marriott from a making a ton of money selling porn in its hotels around the country while Romney was on Marriott's board (it also didn't seem to stop Romney from serving on the board of one of America's top purveyors of pornography).  And Romney continues to make money via his Marriott stock, money which comes in part from Marriott's ongoing porn business.

Romney took so much flak for his ties to Marriott's porn that Marriott kinda-sorta eventually will drop most of their porn but not all of it, eventually, maybe.  Not exactly an unequivocal moral stand by the Mormonest of companies, as noted by this top religious right activist.

And now we find out that Romney's biggest support is none of than Vegas gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has pumped $10 million into a pro-Romney Super PAC, and who reportedly will be giving "limitless" donations to help Romney win in November.

Yes, the Mormon bishop will be getting limitless help from Vegas gamblers.

So to recap, Romney is personally making money from pornography, and the biggest financial support of his run for the presidency is one of America's top gambling moguls.

Then again, we're dealing with a candidate who flip flops on a daily basis on abortion, guns, immigration, Super PACs, Solyndra, stem cells, climate change, the auto bailout, and even catfish.

And who can ever forget this one:
Via NewsOne

Traits of a Sociopath

Crazy Charles Guiteau

Charles J. Guiteau showed all the signs of mental illness to the point of delusions. He was convinced that President James Garfield would never have been elected without his help. But the fact that he wasn’t welcomed into the White House with open arms caused resentment. Guiteau was convinced that it was his divine duty to kill Garfield, and he stalked the president for the right opportunity.
Divine assassination was evidently a burdensome affair. The thought of injuring or otherwise traumatizing a bystander aroused Guiteau’s greatest apprehensions. He seemed to sincerely believe that he was on a God-given errand. One May morning Guiteau was loitering outside of the White House when he spotted President Garfield strolling alone to church. Guiteau made secret chase. He found a vantage point outside a chapel window, but he was concerned for the safety of others and postponed the murder. Several days later Guiteau was among the onlookers as the president escorted his wife to the train station. Mrs Garfield was suffering from malaria, and she was being sent to the Jersey shore where the sea air was rumored to be reinvigorating. Guiteau did not wish to upset the ailing first lady, so he kept his pistol pocketed. The stalking continued on the evening of 01 June 1881 when Guiteau trailed the president and James Blaine through the shadowy streets of DC. The aspiring assassin was appalled to see the two men walking and talking arm-in-arm, but he lacked the nerve to act.
The opportunity to act came the next day, on June 2, 1881. Read what happened on that day, how Garfield’s medical treatment contributed to his death, how Alexander Graham Bell figured in, and what happened to the delusional Guiteau, all at Damn Interesting.

We're at war?!

11 Wars That Lasted Way Longer Than They Should Have
Thanks to lost paperwork, diplomatic technicalities, or just plain forgetting they had declared war in the first place, many countries remained in a state of war long after the actual fighting had stopped.

China poised for most ambitious space mission yet

China will launch three astronauts, including a mother of one who flies transport planes, to live and work on a space station for about a week, a major step in its goal of becoming only the third nation with a permanent base orbiting Earth.
Asian Correspondent

Meet China's First Female Astronaut
On Saturday, China launched a manned mission to carry out an orbital rendezvous -- including the country's first woman astronaut.
  Read more

Meet China's First Female Astronaut: Big Pic

China Successfully Docks Manned Space Capsule
China became only the third nation in world history to manage a manned orbital docking. 

China Set for Historic Space Hookup

JPMorgan's gambling disrupted the markets more than imagined

We really need to keep talking about "too big to fail" because beasts like JPMorgan are having too much of an impact on the US markets. Interestingly enough, their massive bets are also part of the reason why their initial $2 billion loss is not $3 billion and counting. Because the bets were so large, everyone knew that it was them so others can now pounce on those positions and add to the loss.
In no way does it make any sense for a single bank to hold so much sway over the market. It's not safe for America (though we know that Jamie Dimon has no interest in what is helpful or hurtful for America) and from a structural perspective, it has to change.

If Washington cares so much about national security, why are they allowing one company to be so disruptive and potentially destructive? It's seriously a matter of national security. Break up the damned banks and do it now.
JPMorgan Chase & Co's disastrous bets on corporate debt may have caused unexpected collateral damage: erratic behavior in a barometer that measures the financial health of blue-chip U.S. companies.

Those bets used Wall Street derivatives called credit default swaps. They are supposed to act like homeowners insurance, allowing bondholders, banks and hedge funds to buy protection against declines in the value of corporate debt, and ultimately protection against a default.

In this case, though, they became more like the pawns in a battle between JPMorgan and hedge funds on the other side of its bet. This struggle so dominated a corner of the market that it sent false negative signals about the credit quality of some major companies whose underlying finances were largely unchanged, market experts said.
You need to click through and read the examples of how JPMorgan disrupted the financial system. Maybe we made it through OK this time but who knows about the next time? We could have very serious problems in the future if this is not addressed. Is Washington listening?

Surprise increase in jobless claims

Maybe now is a good time for the repugicans to stop their politics of destruction and think about the American public for once. We need a new jobs bill that gets workers working and not another round of tax cuts.
We have an infrastructure that is in desperate need of work and plenty of workers wanting to work. What's so hard about understanding this problem and then fixing it? Get a jobs bill and get it now because private industry is not going to fill in the gaps any time soon.
More Americans than forecast applied for unemployment insurance payments last week, another sign the labor market is struggling to improve.

Claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly climbed by 6,000 to 386,000 in the week ended June 9 from a revised 380,000 the prior week that was more than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists projected claims would fall to 375,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

A pickup in dismissals may raise concern the labor market will have trouble rebounding after a slowdown in job creation in the past four months. Weaker economic growth and a lack of clarity about the business environment may discourage companies from hiring at a pace needed to speed up the expansion.

Taco Bell Opening Hoax Devastated Alaskan Town

No chalupa for you, Bethel, Alaska! The town in bush Alaska (pop. 6,000) was reeling at the revelation that a Taco Bell opening was just a cruel, cruel hoax:
It was some unique form of tundra humor at work, apparently, that led to the fliers posted on various local bulletin boards, promising an opening in time for Bethel’s annual Independence Day parade and offering employment.
“We got excited, because we don’t have any fast food chains out here, and the idea of Taco Bell coming in? And they were going to be here for the 4thof July?” Chamber of Commerce director Bonnie Bradbury said in an interview.
“You bring a McDonald’s or a KFC, people will go crazy out here,” said Tatiana Dotdot, who works at the local AC store, the rambling supermarket that sells everything from diapers to all-terrain vehicles, as long as it can be brought in on a barge or a plane.

How Aunt Jemima Changed U.S. Trademark Law

Imagine that you spent time and money developing a brand and an advertising icon and someone else just decided they’d use your idea, too. You’d probably take them to court! There are gray areas in copyright, though. How much of an idea is stolen or not, and how much damage is done to a brand varies from case to case. The case of Aunt Jemima was an important precedent, because Aunt Jemima Mills Company (which made pancake mix) didn’t like it a bit when Rigney and Company used the Aunt Jemima character to sell pancake syrup.

Find out what happened and why here.

Teacher accused of burning and cutting teenagers to expel their demons

A teacher at a neighborhood family center was arrested after police say she burned and cut teens during a bizarre ritual to remove their demons. Authorities say Danielle Harkins brought the group of teens to an area near the St. Pete Pier on Saturday before dusk. They gathered around a small fire and that's when she told them to cut their skin to let the evil spirits out.
After they cut their skin, she said they would need to burn the wounds to ensure they would not return. Police say all of the seven teens involved were of an Asian background and knew Harkins from their time at the center in years past. Harkins is a literary teacher at the Lealman and Asian Neighborhood Family Center and has been with the center for the past 4-and-a-half years.

Police were alerted to the incident after one of the teens sent a text message to a friend, who showed it to their parents. During their investigation, detectives learned Harkins poured perfume on one teen's hand and lit it on fire. The teen suffered from second degree burns.

Harkins encouraged another 17-year-old to cut into his back to "get rid of an evil tick" and then burn himself to prevent anymore evil spirits from entering his body. Harkins, 35, has been arrested on child abuse charges and is being held on $55,000 bail. She has also been suspended from her job without pay.

There's more information and a video of Danielle Harkins' court appearance here.

TSA hired child rapists, murderers & thieves

Just another day at the TSA. Hopefully repugican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn's report is about reforming (or eliminating) the TSA and not a money grab like repugican Congressman Mica because it raises more serious problems at the agency.

We've all heard about the thefts by TSA agents and recently discovered the Philadelphia airport hired a child molester but the TSA being the TSA, there's always something else that defies logic. How does the TSA continue to be so untrusted and disliked yet have Congress calling for more fees to give the TSA even more budget?
Blackburn's report entitled "Not on My Watch: 50 Failures of TSA's Transportation Security Officers" shows photos and criminal records of the TSA's worst offenders, from statutory rape to murder.

"Many of them have committed the crimes while in their TSA uniforms," said Congresswoman Blackburn.

The crimes date back to 2005 and include several offenders from the tri-state area.

One of the former TSA agents was recently convicted for stealing someone's laptop at the Memphis airport. The theft happened in the baggage claim area while the agent was on break.

Not the best idea you ever had ...

Robbing the Same Liquor Store Three Times in Two Days
 Rob a liquor store once, shame on you. Rob it twice, well ... it probably didn't think it'd get robbed twice. But rob the same liquor store three times in two days? Jail time!
Investigators say that Singletary went inside Anna's Liquors at 4 p.m. Tuesday with a knife and T-shirt pulled over her head and demanded that the 52-year-old clerk give her money.
Police were unable to find her after a search.
Singletary then returned the next day at 10 a.m. to rob the store again, police said. This time, in addition to money, cigarettes, lottery tickets and liquor bottles were also taken. While police were typing up the incident report for the morning robbery, they received a call at 2 p.m. that Singletary was robbing the store again.

Archaeology News

17th Century Postal System Carved in Stone
17th Century Postal System Carved in Stone
Inscriptions on a stone in Madagascar served as a kind of 17th-century postal system between passing sailors.

Neanderthals Cave Art?

Photo: Pedro Saura
They may be cavemen, but they're artistic cavemen! Scientists using new dating technique found that many famous cave paintings are actually thousands of years older than previously thought, and may have been drawn by Neanderthals:
The biggest surprise was the age of several large red disks, also made by blowing pigment, at El Castillo: at least 40,800 years. Dozens of such disks and 40 hand stencils are in the same panel, along with rectangles and ovals, suggesting that 40,800 is the minimum age of the entire composition.
That makes the painting, which would not look out of place in a Joan Miro retrospective, "Europe's oldest known art by at least 4,000 years," said Pike said at a news conference Wednesday.
That extreme age raises the highly charged question of who the artists were. [...]
The more controversial possibility is that the art is the work of Neanderthals (or "Neandertals," in scientists' preferred spelling). "Symbolic culture clearly existed among Neanderthals," said archaeologist Joao Zilhão of the University of Barcelona, the study's senior author. Given that, "it wouldn't be surprising if they were Europe's first cave artists."
Sharon Begley of Reuters has the story.

Is Voyager I outside our solar system?

Probably not yet. But it's on the cusp. And part of what makes this entire process really, really interesting is that, by the very nature of this whole experiment, we don't know exactly what will happen when Voyager I does cross that imaginary boundary line. But, as Rebecca Rosen explains on The Atlantic, we do have some pretty good theories.
Some cosmic ray particles enter the heliosphere and we can see them here from Earth. But a slower type has a hard time entering the heliosphere. Last month, the sum of those slower particles, suddenly ticked up about 10 percent, "the fastest increase we've seen," Stone says. But an uptick does not mean Voyager has crossed over, though it does mean we're getting close. When Voyager does finally leave and enter the space "out there where all the particles are," the level will stop rising. The rising itself means that Voyager is not out there, yet. "But," cautions Stone, "we don't know. I mean this is the first time any spacecraft has been there." Since nothing's ever been there before, we don't know what it will look like, which makes it a little hard to recognize "it" at all. "That's the exciting thing," he continues.
This is the most exciting kind of science—the sort where we really don't know the answers and we're on the cusp of learning something truly, wonderously new. Stay tuned.
Read Rebecca Rosen's full article at The Atlantic

Did a Meteorite Crash Cause Tomatoes to Become Red?

Why are tomatoes red? Research by Dutch scientists discovered that a stressful event millions of years ago, like a meteorite crash, triggered the change in the plant's genome:
"Such a big genome expansion points to extremely stressful conditions,' says René Klein Lankhorst, the Wageningen UR coordinator of the tomato genome research project. 'We suspect that the meteorite crash and the resulting solar eclipse had created conditions difficult for plants to survive. A distant ancestor of the tomato plant then reacted by expanding its genome considerably in order to increase its chances of survival."
When conditions subsequently improved again, this ancestor of the tomato got rid of a lot of genetic ballast, but the genetic base for fruit formation had already been developed by then, the tomato fruit acquired its red colour and certain genes which produced toxins disappeared, says Klein Lankhorst. In this way, the tomato differentiates itself from a family member, the potato, which has no edible fruits.

Beautiful Holes

10 Of The Most Beautiful Natural Holes In The Earth
Nature never stops to amaze us with its magnificent phenomenon just like these inexplicable holes in the ground. These holes may be formed gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide. This is a list of beautiful natural holes from around the world which have become popular tourist destinations.

Deadly snakes found crawling freely on bus in Vietnam

Dozens of deadly snakes were found crawling around in a bus traveling from Da Nang to Binh Dinh in central Vietnam on Wednesday. The driver, Duong Dinh Son, told the police that a woman in Quang Ngai, identified only as Lam, had asked him to carry two bags to the terminal in Binh Dinh where someone would receive them.
He did not know they contained highly venomous banded kraits, he said. The snakes were detected at around 9:30 am when the bus reached Tu Nghia District inQuang Ngai. Huynh Thi Diep, one of the first passengers to find them, said she felt something touch her foot. “It was unbelievable. I was petrified to see it was a crawling krait,” she said.

Diep’s terrified cries caused other passengers to jump up. Meanwhile, dozens of snakes were crawling all over the floor of the bus. The passengers quickly jumped off the bus as it stopped. It took half an hour for them and local residents to either capture or kill all the snakes. They had escaped from two bags put in two boxes on the floor. Dozens of other snakes were still in the bags when they were taken out of the vehicle.

“Since it was packed, I agreed to carry them without asking what it was. It is lucky no one was bitten. Otherwise, it could have been fatal,” the driver said. Many terrified passengers boarded other buses to resume their journey though Son was allowed to drive on after reporting to the police. The banded krait is a protected species and classified in the Vietnam Red Book as "threatened." The venom of the banded krait mainly contains neurotoxins and severe envenomation can lead to respiratory failure and death due to suffocation.

Alligator snapping turtles overrun Oregon park

Police said that during one attempt to capture her, the feisty turtle swung its head around with alarming speed and tried to bite an officer's hand.

Take Your Dog To Work Day

 More Dogs Sit, Stay At The Office
Like any new addition to an office, Dolly had an adjustment period. The hardest part: learning not to bark at the mailman.

Sudden Aggression in Dogs Often a Sign of Pain

dogsIrritability from pain can make otherwise affectionate dogs violent and already aggressive dogs even more aggressive.  

Animal Pictures