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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, June 22, 2012

The Daily Drift

Whoa, Dude!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Monteria, Colombia
Warsaw, Poland
Fort-De-France, Martinique
Vancouver, Canada
Seoul, Korea
Wellington, New Zealand
Cape Town, South Africa
Toronto, Canada
Sampaloc, Philippines
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Taipei, Taiwan
Lomonosov, Russia
Tokyo, Japan
Cebu City, Philippines
Caracas, Venezuela
London, England
Copenhagen, Denmark
Edinburgh, Scotland
Innsbruck, Austria
Manchester, England
Melbourne, Australia
Cardiff, Wales
Paris, France
Algiers, Algeria
Dublin, Ireland
Tbilisi, Georgia
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Pasig, Philippines
Jakarta, Indonesia
Rijeka, Croatia
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Manila, Philippines
Berlin, Germany
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
York, England
Florence, Italy
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Zurich, Switzerland
Ampang, Malaysia
Budapest, Hungary
Doha, Qatar
Santiago, Chile
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Singapore, Singapore
Jerudong, Brunei
Winnipeg, Canada
Jerantut, Malaysia
Sydney, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Luqa, Malta
Melaka, Malaysia
Mumbai, India
George Town, Malaysia
Acapulco, Mexico
Moscow, Russia
Timis, Romania
Bangkok, Thailand
Kiev, Ukraine
Belgrade, Serbia

Today in History

1558   The French take the French town of Thioville from the English.
1772   Slavery is outlawed in England.
1807   British seamen board the USS Chesapeake, a provocation leading to the War of 1812.
1864   Confederate General A. P. Hill turns back a Federal flanking movement at the Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, Virginia.
1876   General Alfred Terry sends Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer to the Rosebud and Little Bighorn rivers to search for Indian villages.
1910   German bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich announces a definitive cure for syphilis.
1911   King George V of England crowned.
1915   Austro-German forces occupy Lemberg on the Eastern Front as the Russians retreat.
1925   France and Spain agree to join forces against Abd el Krim in Morocco.
1930   A son is born to Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
1933   Hitler bans political parties in Germany other than the Nazis.
1938   Joe Louis floors Max Schmeling in the first round of the heavyweight bout at Yankee Stadium.
1940   France and Germany sign an armistice at Compiegne, on terms dictated by the Nazis.
1941   Under the codename Barbarossa, Germany invades the Soviet Union.
1942   A Japanese submarine shells Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River.
1944   President Franklin Roosevelt signs the "GI Bill of Rights" to provide broad benefits for veterans of the war.
1956   The battle for Algiers begins as three buildings in Casbah are blown up.
1970   President Richard Nixon signs the 26th amendment, lowering the voting age to 18.
1973   Skylab astronauts splash down safely in the Pacific after a record 28 days in space.
1980   The Soviet Union announces a partial withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.
1981   Mark David Chapman pleads guilty to killing John Lennon.
1995   Nigeria's former military ruler Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and his chief deputy are charged with conspiracy to overthrow Gen. Sami Abacha's military government.

“The money went flying in the air. I saw all these young lads started grabbing the notes and I thought I’ve got no chance here”

Barry Eastwood went to the bank to withdraw £1000 to pay for his car insurance when he tripped and fell. The money blew out of his hand and he managed to hold on to only £60.
A bunch of teenagers and young people rushed for the money ... and then this happened:
The grandfather of 13, said: 'The money went flying in the air. I saw all these young lads started grabbing the notes and I thought I’ve got no chance here.
'But they brought it all back back - I couldn’t believe it! They were jumping up and catching the notes - it’s a shame no one had a camera.
'There must have been about 20 lads - they were all young lads. I ended up with all the money back bar £20.'
Pamela Owen of The Daily Mail has the story that will reaffirm your belief in humanity here.

Egypt elects Muslim Brotherhood president, military takes over

Who didn't see that result happening? The voting was relatively close, with the Brotherhood showing 52% of the vote over the former Mubarak prime minister. Whether this will spur on new protests is now the question at hand. The other question is how the US and other countries will respond now that the military has effectively taken control of Egypt, again.
Leading up to the election, the Brotherhood candidate Morsi had made efforts to reach out to other groups including the Copts (~10% of the Egyptian population) and stressed that he was not seeking revenge, but rather an interest in governing all of Egypt. The Mubarak/military leadership has had limited interest in helping anyone outside of their own.

So one day after the election, we're back in a "wait and see" mode. The election settled the decision of who will be president though it also changed little, if anything.

More on the new military powers via The Guardian:
Egypt's generals awarded themselves sweeping political powers in an 11th-hour constitutional declaration that tied the hands of the country's incoming president and cemented military authority over the post-Mubarak era.

The announcement on Sunday night came as early presidential election results put the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi ahead of his rival Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's final prime minister and an unabashed champion of the old regime. But with thousands of polling stations yet to declare following the two-day runoff vote, the overall winner was too close to call.

Pro-change activists and human rights campaigners said the junta's constitutional declaration – which came just days after judges extended the army's ability to arrest civilians and following the dissolution of the Brotherhood-dominated parliament by the country's top court – rendered the scheduled handover of power to a democratically elected executive meaningless.

Voters blame the shrub

"Obama's not responsible for this mess"

More than two-thirds of Americans—including half of repugicans—still blame the shrub for the country's economic ills, according to a new Gallup poll

The current numbers show 68 percent blame the greedy policies of the shrub.  

The repugican zombies

Romney is upset that economy is improving, so he tells governors to stop talking about it

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive repugican nominee’s message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Scott, a repugican, was asked to say that the state’s jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, according to the people, who asked not to be named.

What’s unfolding in Florida highlights a dilemma for the Romney campaign: how to allow repugican governors to take credit for economic improvements in their states while faulting Obama’s stewardship of the national economy. The repugican governors in Ohio, Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin also have highlighted improving economies.

Yeah, it's like that ...

Even the dogs of America do not like Romney!

Romney not opposed to Obama amnesty for young illegals

This was news on last Sunday, but it's still important.  And it's a window into Mitt Romney's soul, and general lack of conviction.
Mitt Romney was asked three times, in an interview aired last Sunday night, if he would overturn President Obama's new executive order permitting illegal immigrants who came here at a young age, and have no criminal record, to stay in the US. And three times, Mitt Romney demurred.

In repugican-land, the President's plan in "amnesty."  And amnesty is apparently the worst thing ever (at least to repugicans).  Once upon a time Romney was for immigration, then he was against it, now he's just not sure.

Romney is more than just a flip-flopper.  He's unserious.  And squishy.

Not very presidential.

Not very repugican either.

But you already knew that.

The truth be told

The repugican strategy: Destroy Healthcare, then drag feet and do nothing

There you go! What a plan for America by the brilliant minds that are blinded by hatred and a desire to destroy America. It comes as no surprise that the repugicans don't have a plan to replace Healthcare Reform with anything because really, who out there really knows that there was an exploding healthcare crisis that led to the reform in the first place?
We can all agree that Healthcare Reform didn't solve every problem and yes, it could have been less about benefiting the insurance and pharmaceutical companies but to destroy it for no other reason other than because it was done by Obama is the usual repugican hatred.

Why is it so hard for repugicans to compromise and work for the American people rather than obstruct and destroy? One of these days the repugican party is going to have to start negotiating and delivering legislation that benefits someone other than industry.

Repeal and then ignore? Really?
Instead, repugican lawmakers cite recent announcements that some insurance companies will retain a few of the law's higher-profile provisions as evidence that quick legislative action is not essential. Those are steps that officials say repugicans quietly urged in private conversations with the industry.

Once the Supreme Court issues a ruling, "the goal is to repeal anything that is left standing," said Sen. John Barrasso, reptile-Wyo., a member of the party's leadership.

Beyond that, "we ought to go step by step to lower the cost" of health care, he added, a formula repeated by numerous other repugicans interviewed in recent days.

Terminal cancer 'Bucketlist' spend-up sends couple broke

A New Zealand are $80,000 in debt after he was wrongly diagnosed with terminal cancer and they spent heavily achieving a rapidly compiled bucketlist. Frank, 69, and Wilma, 65, who don't want their surname published, say they had "nothing to lose" after Frank was told in May 2010 that he had only a few months to live. The medical advice turned out to be wrong and though they are happy Frank is alive, their quality of life has been eroded by a spending spree, which included trips to Australia and Fiji.
Frank had part of his lung removed following a brush with cancer, and after chemotherapy started getting chest pains and was short of breath. He had an ultrasound done and fluid was taken from his pericardium - a tissue sac which surrounds the heart - for testing. A month later he was given the devastating news it was likely the cancer had returned to his heart and he only had a few months to live. So Frank and Wilma did what many people would do - they made every day count.

Frank, who used to own a handyman business in Auckland, gave away $30,000 worth of tools, fishing gear, a quad bike, clothes and household items. They sold their house in Wairoa at a loss of $70,000 and cancelled the health insurance. Frank began smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee after quitting during his first cancer diagnosis. The couple went to Fiji for 10 days. They blew $30,000 on food, a five-star resort and fishing activities, expecting his life insurance to cover the costs. "We had a good time. We spent too much money on food, going around New Zealand and then a business which fell down," Wilma said.

"What would you do in this situation? If he said jump I would jump ... I was putting him first, whatever he wanted, he got. I'm short on my credit cards for $80,000 and the money we had left went on a business and that didn't work out so we are broke." Frank had had another ultrasound test in December 2011 - and this cleared him of cancer. But it was not until the hospice worker told him in February that he knew he was in the clear. They don't know why the hospital didn't tell them earlier. The hospital has acknowledged it made an error, but says it made the right call based on the evidence at the time.

BCBS sued for tricking customers to leave better health insurance plans

Someone should lock all the insurance executives and the airline executives in a room together and watch them try to nickel and dime each other.  

From the SF Chronicle:
When Blue Shield of California raised the rates for Robert Jeffrey Martin's family insurance policy by 23 percent, the health insurer offered him two options: Stay in his expensive old plan or switch to a policy that offered his family skimpier benefits with a higher deductible.

Martin, 59, knew finding a new insurer would be tough and felt like he had no choice. The Gilroy farmer, who grows olives trees and bottles his own olive oil, switched to the new policy.

But then Blue Shield backed off on the proposed increase on his previous policy. When Martin tried to switch back, the insurer told him that was no longer possible because his old plan was closed to new members.

Canadian government wants to fill airports with KGB-style hidden microphones

The Canadian border agency wants to cover the nation's airports with spy-ears that can listen in on and record your conversations from a distance. They've already done it for some airports, though they're not saying which. Don't worry, though, they won't turn them on without a "privacy impact assessment."
Because the impact this will have on privacy isn't totally fucking obvious.
The recording equipment may also be linked to a federal initiative to help CBSA combat organized crime and internal smuggling conspiracies at big Canadian airports.
A 2008 RCMP report said at least 58 crime groups were believed active at major airports, typically by corrupting airport employees or placing criminal associates in airport jobs to move narcotics and other contraband to and from planes.
The Customs Act was amended in 2009 to allow for the creation of "customs controlled areas" within airports, starting with those in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, followed by Ottawa and other international Canadian aerodromes.

Innocent people remain in jail

     Innocent?  He's black, so we don't care.

Terrell McCullum did not commit a federal crime by carrying a shotgun and a rifle out of his ex-girlfriend's house.

But he is serving a federal prison sentence for it. And the fact that everyone — including the U.S.Justice Department — agrees that he is legally innocent might not be enough to set him free.

A USA TODAY investigation found more than 60 men who went to prison for violating federal gun possession laws, even though courts have since determined that it was not a federal crime for them to have a gun.

Many of them don't even know they're innocent.

The legal issues underlying their situation are complicated, and are unique to North Carolina. But the bottom line is that each of them went to prison for breaking a law that makes it a federal crime for convicted felons to possess a gun.

The problem is that none of them had criminal records serious enough to make them felons under federal law.

Still, the Justice Department has not attempted to identify the men, has made no effort to notify them, and, in a few cases in which the men have come forward on their own, has argued in court that they should not be released.


Sartorially challenged bank robber arrested

A brightly-dressed bank robbery suspect is behind bars, according to the FBI.
James Francis Deans, 27, of Hallandale Beach, was arrested on Friday and accused of robbing a Wells Fargo Bank branch at 6810 Miramar Parkway in Miramar on Thursday.

Deans was in federal custody and is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, agents said.

The suspect was dressed to distraction as a gaudy golfer in mismatched plaid shirt and shorts with a cap and sunglasses when he robbed the bank.

Woman Made Cab Driver Wait While She Robbed a Store

'Keep the meter running.' That's what one Florida woman must have said to the taxi driver she made wait for her outside a convenience store while she went inside to rob it.

It's always 4:20 in Montevideo

Uruguay to legalize pot to stop drug violence 
There are a number of good reasons to legalize marijuana and this is one of them. The war on drugs has been a lost cause since the beginning and after decades of fighting this supposed war, we are still spending massive amounts of money and the violence continues to get worse each year.

Besides the obvious tax receipt benefits, this is a smart move by Uruguay. Who needs to create a police state that is out-gunned and out-manned? It only escalates the violence and leaves innocent people dead for no good reason.

More from the BBC:
Uruguay has unveiled a plan to allow state-controlled sales of marijuana to fight a rise in drug-related crime.

Under the bill, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana to adults registered on a database.

Defence Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said this was part of a plan to remove profits from drug dealers and divert users from harder drugs.

The Science Of Getting Drunk

Plastered, wasted, three sheets to the wind; whatever you call it, all drinkers go through pretty much the same biological process to arrive at the destination of intoxication. Lets take a look at the science behind the intoxification process.

The Barbecue Grill Briefcase

This barbecue briefcase is perfect for the griller on the go, the charcoal chef who doesn’t want to be strapped down to a stationary grill.
Perfect for those who enjoy barbecuing while traveling, running from the police, or hiding from those attracted by the sweet smell of charred meat.
The Darwin Triangular BBQ is sure to make you the life of any party, and your friends will appreciate the forethought and planning that went in to you bringing along your own source of flesh searing heat, especially when their tummies get all rumbly.

The Stongest Girl On Earth

Varya Akulova aged 12 weighs 40 kg but lifts 350 kg in three exercises (press, strike and push-off). When she was 3 she managed to lift her first hundred of kilograms, at the age of 4 she got a senior category. Varya consists of granite will power, transparent body and thread tendons.
She eats nothing but macaroni because her family is rather poor and Varya has to support it. Varya believes she will become an Olympic champion one day. She's the strongest girl on the planet, and this fact was confirmed by Guinness Book of World Records twice. 

Six Strange Cases Of Science Fiction Trademarks

Trademarks are an important way for businesses to market their goods to consumers, but sometimes it can be difficult to know whose intellectual property toes you're treading on. For those who aren't familiar with this area of intellectual property, trademarks are words or images that individuals and businesses use to identify their products, services, etc. to consumers.

Here are six terms and concepts that companies claim to own, and some of them might surprise you.

Daily Comic Relief

The Hunt for Lost Cities

Machu Picchu
There is still a job for machete-wielding adventurers, because even with new technology finding lost cities requires feet-on-the-ground exploration. Some cities have had better luck with getting found than others. Read more

Wat Rong Khun

The White Temple
Wat Rong Khun is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist and Hindu temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. It was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat. Construction began in 1997 and is ongoing.

Awesome Pictures

Ten Science Policies That Could Make the World Better

Admit it, if you’re a scientifically-minded person, sometimes things the government does just drive you absolutely nuts. That’s why this list of 10 science policies the government should start enforcing is so great. Here’s one I think we can all agree on:
8. Every Study That Uses Public Funds is Published Publicly
This is as much to help scientists as to help everyone else. A lot of public money is spent on a lot of scientific studies. Those studies, if they are judged (often by people who volunteer their time) to be worthy of publication, are published in journals far less widely read than the people who do the work, or the people who need the work, would like. Scientific journal subscriptions can be massively expensive, and a barrier to people having the scientific information they, kind of, paid for.
Are there any they left off of the list that you think should be added?

Random Celebrity Photo

V’Ger is Exiting the Heliosphere

Voyager I, the space probe launched 35 years ago, has gone farther than any probe before, and is still communicating with earth. Soon it will be completely free from the influence of our Sun -in other words, it is leaving the solar system.
It’s hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain- and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth’s orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere — tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?
We’re not quite there yet, Voyager’s project scientist and former head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Edward Stone, told me. The spacecraft is on its way out — “it’s leaving the solar system” — but we don’t know how far it has to go or what that transition to interstellar space will look like.
Voyager launched in 1977. Today, Voyager I is about 121 astronomical units away (one astronomical unit is equal to the rough distance from the Sun to the Earth). That is so far that it takes 16 hours for the radio signals it transmits to reach us. (Voyager II is about 22 astronomical units — approximately seven years — behind.) It is traveling at about 17 kilometers per second (38,000 miles per hour), propelled by the slingshot effect from flying by Jupiter and Saturn. (“It’s well above escape velocity,” Stone said.) The spacecraft’s cameras have been turned off since 1990, when it took the pictures for the famous Family Portrait mosaic that captures the planets as they appeared as Voyager I looked back over the solar system it had traveled across.
Scientists are monitoring certain cosmic ray particles hitting Voyager, the kind that do not easily enter the heliosphere, to monitor its progress. Read more about it at the Atlantic.

Astronomical News

Sticky Wheel Interrupts Mars Odyssey Mission

And the moral of the story? Always carry a spare wheel. Read more
Sticky Wheel Interrupts Mars Odyssey Mission

Exoplanet 'Odd Couple' Defy Formation Theories

Discovery raises fresh questions about how planetary systems and their parent stars evolve. Read more
Exoplanet 'Odd Couple' Defy Formation Theories

Rumor Has It: Higgs Buzz Sparks Twitter Trend

Just before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the elusive Higgs boson made science history: it topped the list of trending Twitter topics. Read more
Rumor Has It: Higgs Buzz Sparks Twitter Trend

Probe Finds Moon's Shackleton Crater Pretty Dry

Up to 22 percent of the surfaces of Shackleton Crater, located near the moon's south pole, may be water ice -- but that's not a lot. Read more
Probe Finds Moon's Shackleton Crater Pretty Dry

When Galaxies Don't Quite Collide

They may look like they're colliding, but in reality they are tens of millions of light-years apart. Read more
When Galaxies Don't Quite Collide

Pluto's Moons Offer Clues to Alien Worlds

The "dwarf planet" is helping scientists figure out where to look for planets that circle two parent stars. Read more

White Marble View Over Arctic

arcticA newly released image from NASA shows off our home planet from an unfamiliar angle: the Arctic, arrayed in frosty white.  

Oregon Aurora

Photo: Brad Goldpaint - view more fantastic shots at Brad's website
Photographer Brad Goldpaint captured the northern lights over Crater Lake, Oregon, like you've never seen before:
A double-burst of solar particles sparked auroral lights over the weekend, as expected — but at least in some parts of the world, the colors were not what you'd expect. Instead of the typical greenish glow, observers reported seeing reds, pinks, violets and even blues.
Alan Boyle of MSNBC's Photoblog has more here.

Lake Pepto-Bismol

Those two dots are actually boats on Lake Retba in Senegal. The pink water, which made it look like the boats are floating on a Pepto-Bismol lake, got its color from the extremely high levels of salt.
Michael Danson, an expert in extremophile bacteria from Bath University, said: "The strawberry colour is produced by salt-loving organism Dunaliella salina.
"They produce a red pigment that absorbs and uses the energy of sunlight to create more energy, turning the water pink.
"Lakes like Retba and the Dead Sea, which have high salt concentrations, were once thought to be incompatible with life - hence the names. But they are very much alive."
Salt collectors can often be seen scouring the expanse to remove the valuable mineral - but first have to coat their skin with sheer butter.
Find out why the salt collectors have to coat their skin with butter over at The Huffington Post. 

In The Greenhouse, No One Can Hear You Scream

Faucaria Tigrina 
They say that life imitates art but perhaps in this case it is the other way around. This is Faucaria tigrina or the Tiger's Jaw - a succulent plant found in South Africa. Yet caught at the right angle the plant does not resemble so much the jaw of a tiger as that of an altogether alien creature, featured in a number of movies starring Sigourney Weaver et al.

The thick, green triangular leaves of the Tiger's Jaw have up to 10 pointed curved teeth along the edges making them look like open jaws. It does not take much of a leap of the imagination to see that there is a certain similarity to the alien. The leaves even form rosettes so you can cultivate a terrifying set of alien creatures in your own home.

Nature's Umbrella

Dogs Can Help Prevent Childhood Asthma

The microbes living on your pet dog may help to strengthen your immune system and prevent childhood asthma.
The microbes living on your pet dog may help to strengthen your immune system and prevent childhood asthma.  
Read more

Dogs, Penguins and Climate Change

Dogs, Penguins and Climate Change: Gotta-See Videos
The climate may be suffering, but put a penguin and a dog next to each other and they'll still want to play! Read more

Animal News

Secret to Cheetahs' Speedy Stride Found

Cheetahs' ability to switch gears while running helps them reach stunning speeds of up to 65 mph. Read more

Dogs Who Like to Surf

A look at the competitors in the recent Loews Dog Surfing Competition in San Diego. Read more
dog surfing

Do Dogs Really Like to Surf?

Does man's best friend really enjoy riding the waves or are they terrified? Read more

Mating Humpback Whales Captured in Photo

For the first time, mating humpback whales have been captured in a photo. Read more
Mating Humpback Whales Captured in Photo

Shark Rams and Destroys Surf Ski

A surf skier is lucky to be alive after a 10-foot-long shark hit him "like a steam train." Read more
Shark Rams and Destroys Surf Ski

Whale Blows Rainbow

What do you get when you have a whale spout, sunlight and a gust of wind? Read more

Lions on the Loose in Kenyan Capital

paw printBig cats are under pressure as one of Africa's fastest-growing cities creeps onto hunting grounds. Read more

Animal Pictures