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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.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Daily Drift

Go for it!

Some of our readers today have been in:
George Town, Malaysia
Makati, Philippines
Jerudong, Brunei
Cebu City, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Lomonosov, Russia
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Sampaloc, Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Seoul, Korea
Jakarta, Indonesia
Edinburgh, Scotland
Manila, Philippines
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Ampang, Malaysia
Doha, Qatar
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Warsaw, Poland
Bam Lamung, Thailand
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
London, England
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Valencia, Venezuela
Krakow, Poland
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Today in History

1314   Scottish forces, led by Robert the Bruce, win an overwhelming victory against English King Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn.
1340   The English fleet defeats the French fleet at Sluys, off the Flemish coast.
1497   Explorer John Cabot lands in North America in present-day Canada.
1509   Henry VIII is crowned King of England.
1664   The colony of New Jersey, named after the Isle of Jersey, is founded.
1647   Margaret Brent, demands a voice and a vote for herself in the Maryland colonial assembly.
1675   King Philip's War begins.
1812   Napoleon crosses the Nieman River and invades Russia.
1859   At the Battle of Solferino, also known as the Battle of the Three Sovereigns, the French army, led by Napoleon III, defeats the Austrian army under Franz Joseph I.
1861   Federal gunboats attack Confederate batteries at Mathias Point, Virginia.
1862   U.S. intervention saves the British and French at the Dagu forts in China.
1896   Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to receive an honorary MA degree from Harvard University.
1910   The Japanese army invades Korea.
1913   Greece and Serbia annul their alliance with Bulgaria following border disputes over Macedonia and Thrace.
1931   The Soviet Union and Afghanistan sign a treaty of neutrality.
1940   France signs an armistice with Italy.
1941   President Franklin Roosevelt pledges all possible support to the Soviet Union.
1943   Royal Air Force Bombers hammer Muelheim, Germany, in a drive to cripple the Ruhr industrial base.
1948   The Soviet Union begins the Berlin Blockade, America responds with the Berlin Airlift.
1953   John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier announce their engagement.
1955   Soviet MIG's down a U.S. Navy patrol plane over the Bering Strait.
1964   The Federal Trade Commission announces that, starting in 1965, cigarette makers must include warning labels about the harmful effects of smoking.
1970   The U.S. Senate votes overwhelmingly to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on His Hands

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on His Hands

By Miss Cellania on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:00 am

Spencer West has no legs, so he walked on his hands. All the way up Mt. Kilimanjaro! Word came last night that West has reached Uhuru Peak in Tanzania, the highest altitude in Africa. From his blog:
The moment the summit was within sight… it was incredible. We looked around – me, David and Alex – and realized that, after seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat and tears (and, let’s face it, vomit) we had actually made it. We were at the top. The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.
Then it sunk in. We made it. To the top of the mountain. The mountain that I promised to the world I would climb. The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it. I looked at the guys, my two buddies who dreamed up this crazy plan with me, and realized we actually finished what we started.
Then we had a really manly moment, collapsed into a heap, and shed a tear (or two, but don’t tell my mom). There we were: me and my two best friends in the entire world, sitting together at the top of Africa, the continent that had taught us so much about compassion, humility and the power of we.
His climb was not only a personal accomplishment, but it raised funds for West’s charity, Free The Children. More
His announcement can be heard in a video from the BBC. here

A FedEx employee channels Lou Costello

Author Maureen Johnson needed to send a manuscript to Random House...
After filling in the forms and putting the object into a FedEx envelope, MAUREEN walks to counter and presents the object for processing.
FEDEX GUY spins package around, examines label, frowns.
FEDEX GUY: I can’t send this.
MAUREEN stares, waiting for further explanation. When none is forthcoming, she spins the package back around and looks at the label, because apparently she is going to have to figure out what it is that she didn’t put on it. Because it’s not just a delivery service-it’s a TEST OF WITS. Finding no blank spaces, she feels like a bit of a FedEx failure.
FEDEX: (very disapproving look) I can’t send this to a random house.
FEDEX: I can’t send this to a random house. You need an address.
Now MAUREEN gets it. She can barely believe this wonderful thing is happening, but she gets it.
MAUREEN: Oh! No, no. It’s a publisher.
FEDEX: Yeah, but I can’t send it.
FEDEX: I can’t send to a random house.
MAUREEN: No, I mean, it’s a business. It has an address.
MAUREEN points to the address on the label, under Random House, person to be delivered to, number, street, city, and zip code.
FEDEX: (in a “you need to listen to me now” tone) I can’t send to a random house.
MAUREEN: No, it’s called Random House. But it’s a publisher. A business. That’s its name.
FEDEX: I can’t …
MAUREEN taps furiously on address.
FEDEX GUY examines package for a minute.
FEDEX: You can’t send stuff like this.
MAUREEN: THAT’S ITS NAME. It is CALLED Random House, but it is not a random house. It is a business at that address.
FEDEX: But you can’t have random house in the “send to” line.
FEDEX GUY knows that he has said “you can’t send to a random house” about six times now and knows repeating it will not help. Looks at Maureen like she is very, very stupid...
The rest of the story (which she swears is true) is at her tumblr.

The jig is up!

Latina media legend Cristina Saralegui endorses Obama

Popular talk show host Cristina Saralegui announced her endorsement of President Barack Obama on Monday, the first time the Latina television legend has ever publicly endorsed a presidential candidate.

"Hispanics could very well decide the next election, and I will do everything I can from now until November to ensure that President Obama is reelected. There's simply too much at stake," she said in a statement.

The Cuban-American icon is popularly known among Spanish-speaking television viewers as the "Latina Oprah," whose eponymous Univision talk show was a ratings juggernaut and Latino household staple for nearly two decades.

The Obama campaign touted the endorsement, with spokesman Jim Messina adding that Saralegui is “one of the most trusted names in the Hispanic community [...] We’re honored to have Cristina be a spokesperson for the campaign, speaking directly to Hispanic voters about the President’s accomplishments."

Obama is currently enjoying a huge lead with registered Latino voters over presumptive repugican nominee Mitt Romney, 61% to 27%. This polling has yet to reflect Obama's recent immigration order, which stops the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth.

In response to the president's immigration move, a beleaguered Marco Rubio said that the repugican alternative to the DREAM Act would likely be shelved until after the election, leaving the repugicans little alternatives to offer Latino voters in November.

An immigrant who fled the Cuban Revolution with her parents at age 12 , Saralegui's unique journalistic style — every Cristina began with a double thumbs-up salute and the Cuban expression "Pa'lante, pa'lante, pa'tras ni pa' coger impulso" ("Forward, forward; don't step back, not even to pick up the pace") — eventually led to product endorsement deals, clothing labels, and a radio show.

In 2005, Time Magazine named Saralegui one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America." In that same year she also became the first Latina to be inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

The truth be told

Washington Post finds that Romney was a job creator at Bain .. . for India and China

So I guess it was relevant for the President to bring up Romney's involvement in Bain. And it was anyway, since Romney is claiming that this experience proves he's a job creator.  And in fact, we now know that he was a job creator.

In India and China.

Washington Post:
Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

House repugicans determined to kill jobs bill and economy

The obstructionist repugicans are doing it again. They have zero interest in doing anything that will help Americans work because they're much more interested in damaging the economy for political reasons. It's not possible to negotiate with them because they don't want to negotiate anything.
They may love to wrap themselves in the flag but underneath, they really do hate America. There's no other reason why they wouldn't be running to sign a bill that had strong support in the Senate since it's tied to 1.9 million jobs. Think Progress has more on the latest disgusting move by House repugicans.

It should noted that Representative John Mica, known for caring more about pork than national security, is part of the obstructionist movement. So unless the 1.9 million workers are going to fund his campaign, they're probably out of luck.

Day to Night

Take a look at photographer Stephen Wilkes's photo series "Day to Night," shot in New York City, and weep. Simply fantastic. This one above, of The Flatiron building.

Dad won't face charges in alleged attacker's death

Authorities say a Texas father who beat to death a man who tried molesting his 4-year-old daughter will not be charged.

Reminds one of the old 'Save the Bales' campaign form the 1970s

Navy Recovers 10 Tons Of Pot Dumped At Sea
The U.S. Navy says an aircraft carrier group recovered nearly 10 tons of marijuana dumped from small boats in the Pacific Ocean near California's border with Mexico.

TSA rolling out "Gumby" non-porno-scanners

For reasons which can only make sense at the TSA, the TSA believes the Gumby-scanners will solve all of their problems. Maybe they won't be the same porno-scanners that are now used to send attractive women through multiple times, but they still don't resolve the fundamental problems that have been shown in 2010 and then in 2012.
The Gumby-scanners also don't change the silly policies of humiliating the elderly or ban 18 month kids from flying. And no, Rep. Mica's private TSA hires fail to address any of these issues either. (Though they do add a chunk of change to his campaign coffers.)

This is not progress, but it's probably coming to an airport near you.
It's the enhanced version of a technology that caused quite a stir by allowing screeners to actually see passengers' private parts while screening for other things.

"That software, called Automatic Target Recognition, has gotten rid of the image associated with Advanced Image Technology. When you go through this unit at Roanoke Regional Airport, no one is going to see an image of your body," said Kawika Riley, a TSA spokesperson.

Groped passenger gropes TSA agent back

It's going to be interesting to see the video of the TSA agent groping the passenger, because the passenger is claiming that the TSA agent went too far. The passenger in question is a former TSA agent herself, so in theory should know.

Police were reluctant to release video that shows handcuffed and hog-tied woman being tased

Two years ago, police officers in Chariton, Iowa handcuffed and hog-tied a 34-year-old woman (The police had pulled her and her boyfriend over because they thought the woman might be the victim of domestic abuse). After being placed in the squad car, Police Sergeant Tyler Ruble then shocked the shackled woman with a taser while Lucas County Sheriff Jim Baker held her down. The woman never filed a complaint because she figured it would have been her word against the sergeants. But when it was discovered that the tasing had been videotaped, a TV station requested the tape. The police department refused to hand over the video, explaining that they were bound by regulations to protect the medical privacy rights of "non-City personnel." The TV station got hold of the tape anyway and ran it.
When the video aired, the Lucas County Law Center issued a statement, saying that the tasing was necessary to prevent the handcuffed and hog-tied woman from leaping from the squad car and injuring "children present at the scene."

NSA: Disclosing How Many People It’s Spying On is a Violation of Privacy

Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall asked the National Security Agency a simple question: just how many people inside the United States it is spying on.
But the answer is anything but simple:
The query bounced around the intelligence bureaucracy until it reached I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nominal head of the 16 U.S. spy agencies. In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general “and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons,” McCullough wrote.
Spencer Ackerman of Wired's Danger Room has the story: here


Why Government Wants to Keep Secret Things Secret

Yesterday, we told you the story of how Wired's Spencer Ackerman got the story about how the NSA thinks that telling you it's violating your privacy is a violation of your privacy.
Sadly, keeping secret and devising reasons why those secrets have to be secrets aren't exactly new to the government. Today, Spencer followed up with Washington's 5 Worst Arguments for Keeping Secrets From You.
For example:
Nuclear Experiments on People Would Have ‘Adverse Effects on Public Opinion’
Government secrecy is perhaps at its most pronounced with nuclear weapons. And most people would probably agree that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to the US’s most dangerous arsenal. But that leeway probably doesn’t extend to atomic experiments on human beings. Still, back in the 1940s, the Atomic Energy Commission decided you couldn’t know about anything of the sort.
We now know that at the dawn of the nuclear age, the commission indeed used human guinea pigs to learn what the effects of atomic blasts and lingering radiation would be on the human physiology. In 1947, the commission wanted word that it was, among other things, feeding irradiated food to handicapped children kept very quiet. Its rationale was straightforward in its brazenness: We don’t want to be sued by an outraged public.

Pictures in Profiling

In Egypt these days ...

Muslim Brotherhood prepares for protests as US warns Egyptian military

Somehow I think we've been here before. Following the announcements by the Egyptian military, the Muslim Brotherhood is preparing to take to the streets to protest what sounds like considerable overreach by the military.

The announcements proclaimed that the new president would only be transitional and that the military would be fully responsible for their own budget and management, regardless of what the president may or may not do. At the same time, the military reiterated its agreement to hand over power, or at least, whatever power exists outside of the military.

The US has warned the military that failure to hand over power could result in the loss of billions of dollars each year, though the wording and meaning is still vague. While the US is eager to move forward with a new government, there remains a level of concern over what may happen with a Muslim Brotherhood regime.

More from The Guardian on potential street protests in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood has vowed to face down Egypt's ruling generals in a "life or death" struggle over the country's political future, after declaring that its candidate had won the presidential election and would refuse to accept the junta's last-ditch attempts to engineer a constitutional coup.

As final ballot results trickled in and unofficial tallies suggested that Mohamed Morsi had secured approximately 52% of the popular vote, the Brotherhood deployed its harshest language yet against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), promising to bring millions of Egyptians back on to the streets if attempts to rebuild the old regime continued.

"Over the past 18 months we were very keen to avoid any clashes or confrontations with other components of Egypt's political system because we felt that it would have negative consequences for the democratic system and for society as a whole," said Fatema AbouZeid, a senior policy researcher for the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party and a media co-ordinator for the Morsi campaign. "But now it's very clear that Scaf and other institutions of the state are determined to stand in the way of what we're trying to achieve, and we won't accept this any more. Egypt will not go back to the old regime through any means, legal or illegal.

Sorcerer executed

AH, the sweet smell of superstitious bullshit!

How Much Data Is Created Every Minute?

Data never sleeps. Every minute massive amounts of it are being generated from every phone, website and application across the Internet. Just how much data is being created and where does it come from?

Extreme Summer Heat Breaks Records

Extreme Summer Heat Breaks Records
Record-breaking high temperatures becoming the norm is turning out to become a scorching reality this summer.  
Read more

Moscow Trees: Then and Now

Once Moscow was a green pleasant city. Today it is sooner a stone sack for dirty cars storage. It's hard to imagine that squirrels used to jump and birds used to sing on lime and chestnut trees of Moscow.  People even didn't notice when they disappeared. Due to lack of care some of them simply died others were cut off. And a passer-by of today walks not in the shadows of wonderful trees by through cars parked in dusty streets...

The officials say trees can't survive in so bad environmental conditions. It's nonsense, of course. Trees still feel well in any part of Moscow. They were destructed just because they hampered car owners and businessmen. They covered bright shop windows, signs, banners, they prevented drivers from parking wherever they wanted. However trees created pleasant atmosphere in the streets, because people still prefer walking among trees, not cars.

The Amazon's Dirty Mouth

amazon river
A photo from the ISS shows our planet's largest river pouring its contents out into the Atlantic.
Read more

Oldest Natural Pearl Found in Arabia

Oldest Natural Pearl Found in ArabiaUntil now, experts believed the oldest natural pearl came from a prehistoric Japanese site.  
Read more

Daily Comic Relief

Science Happenings

A digital reconstruction of the Burmese snub-nosed monkey (c) Dr Thomas Geissmann'On the brink' species counted

East Asia's status as the world's main "extinction hotspot" is confirmed in the new Red List of Threatened Species.

Near- and mid-infrared images of Zavattari frescoInfrared reveals new art details

Italian researchers unveil a novel method of artwork analysis using infrared light, showing off never-before-seen details of Renaissance and modern works.

Science News

Frosty glaciers keeping the world cozy warm

Here is the reason not to go to India: Eat, Pray, Love. These are not my words. These are the [...]
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Rare ‘Hot Jupiters’ and the Search for Alien Life

We tend to think of the sun as stable; we even describe its intensity as the ‘solar constant.’ Perhaps this [...]
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The Flow-Chart of Science

Next time you’re perusing your favorite newspaper or news website, it’s quite likely you’ll come across a headline announcing a [...]
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Fun with Science Facebook Page

My new Facebook page SciFact Central is beginning to attract a following of adults and teens who enjoy “Fun Facts.” [...]
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VHL and autophagy continued

Last week’s blog post described a clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) paper which suggests that microRNA-204 (MiR-204) acts as [...]
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Loneliness Linked to Serious Health Problems and Death Among Elderly

Loneliness — the unpleasant feeling of emptiness or desolation — can creep in and cause suffering to people at any [...]
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Buying life experiences to impress others removes happiness boost

Spending money on activities and events, such as concert tickets or exotic vacations, won’t make you happier if you’re doing [...]
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Arctic methane could spell trouble for Florida coastline

The ancient reserves of methane gas seeping from the melting Arctic ice cap told Jeff Chanton and fellow researchers what [...]
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World-class performers have high brain integration

Scientists trying to understand why some people excel — whether as world-class athletes, virtuoso musicians, or top CEOs — have [...]
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Million year old groundwater in Maryland water supply

A portion of the groundwater in the upper Patapsco aquifer underlying Maryland is over a million years old. A new [...]
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Researchers describe new anti-cocaine vaccine

A single-dose vaccine capable of providing immunity against the effects of cocaine offers a novel and groundbreaking strategy for treating [...]
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Cancer’s Next Magic Bullet May Be Magic Shotgun

A new approach to drug design, pioneered by a group of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) [...]
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Freud’s theory of unconscious conflict linked to anxiety symptoms

An experiment that Sigmund Freud could never have imagined 100 years ago may help lend scientific support for one of [...]
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Gut microbe produces neurotransmitter, could play role in inflammation

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital have identified commensal bacteria in the human intestine that produce [...]
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Arctic forests could increase C02 release

Carbon stored in Arctic tundra could be released into the atmosphere by new trees growing in the warmer region, exacerbating [...]
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Monkey Lip Smacks Provide New Insights Into the Evolution of Human Speech

Scientists have traditionally sought the evolutionary origins of human speech in primate vocalizations, such as monkey coos or chimpanzee hoots. [...]
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Astronomical News

The Dry Ice 'Snowflakes' of Mars

Everyone seems to ponder the lyrics of Train's song "Drops of Jupiter," so perhaps it's about time a songwriter includes the "Snowflakes of Mars" in their next ballad. Read more
The Dry Ice 'Snowflakes' of Mars

Is It Time to Go Back to the Moon?

The scientific case for returning man to the moon has never been stronger. Read more
Is It Time to Go Back to the Moon?

Review: 'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World'

In the Steve Carell movie, an asteroid threatens to destroy civilization. What would you do in the face of doom? Read more
Review: 'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World'

Mars Rover Curiosity's Retro Parachute

In finalizing the design of MSL's parachute, NASA looked to mission requirements and tests carried out nearly 50 years ago. Read more
Mars Rover Curiosity's Retro Parachute

Black Holes as Exotic Particle Honeypots?

Could swarms of elusive axion particles be detected around black holes? Read more
Black Holes as Exotic Particle Honeypots?

Findings of Deep-Sea 'Alien' Hunt Revealed

Scientists are skeptical that it's an alien structure but dramatic new images are fueling debate on what is at the bottom of the Baltic. Read more

Big Asteroid 2011 AG5 Will Miss Earth in 2040

After causing a stir in 2011, continued observations of the hazardous space rock show it's not a threat. Read more
Big Asteroid 2011 AG5 Will Miss Earth in 2040

Odds and Ends

Deadly Wolf Attack in Sweden

A 30-year-old worker was killed by a pack of wolves in their enclosure at a wildlife park in Scandinavia. Read more
Deadly Wolf Attack in Sweden

It's Not Just Summer, World Keeps Warming

As world leaders gather to assess the state of the planet's health, most reports are gloomy, save for a couple bits of good news. Read more

Octopus Gets Handsy on Dolphin's Privates

Dolphin learns to stop playing with its food. Hey, at least it wasn't crabs. Read more

Will Arctic Sea Ice Reach Record Low This Year?

Months before the sea ice reaches its annual minimum extent, the Arctic ocean is looking pretty wet. Read more
Arctic sea ice

News of the bizzare

French queen's pin found in toilet
A hairpin belonging to 16th century French Queen Catherine de Medici has been discovered at a royal residence outside Paris.

U.S. Sues to Return Dinosaur Skeleton to Mongolia
There's an international battle brewing over an auctioned-off Tyrannosaurus skeleton, and now the federal government is getting involved.

Why Do So Many Cultures Have a Version of Bigfoot?

Does proof of existence lie in the number of people who believe?
  Read more

Archeaology News

Stonehenge Built As Symbol of Unity

The prehistoric monument was built to unify east and west Britain at what they thought was the 'center of the universe.' Read more
Stonehenge Built As Symbol of Unity

Mysterious Building -- Older Than Pyramids?

The foundations of a house has been unearthed in Wales which could date back 6,500 years. Read more
Mysterious Building -- Older Than Pyramids?

It's a matter of survival

Elephant May Get Contact Lenses

C’Sar, an elephant at the North Carolina Zoo, showed signs of not being able to see. The problem was cataracts, which were removed surgically. C’sar perked up amazingly well after his sight was restored, but zookeepers suspect he is now farsighted. One possible solution that veterinarians are contemplating is to fit him with contact lenses.
After having CSar, the North Carolina Zoo’s 38-year-old elephant, undergo two rare surgeries to correct cataracts, caretakers at the zoo and a team of veterinarians from North Carolina State University are considering whether to get the  elephant corrective lenses, which would make  CSar  the first elephant ever to receive contacts.
But they fear the risks of the contact lenses could outweigh the benefits.
“It’s never been used before in an elephant or in many animal species, and so it’s a little bit difficult for us to predict how it would affect him,” said  Richard McMullen, assistant professor of veterinary ophthalmology at North Carolina State University. McMullen performed both of C’Sar’s cataract surgeries.
The decision won’t be made until this fall at the earliest.

The Insect Macro World

Check out some macro photos of an author who calls herself Iryna. More

Would you help?

A Snake with a Can on Its Head: Would You Help It?
If you see a cute mammal with its head stuck in something, you'd probably help. But what about this case? Would you help the snake? And how would you do it without getting yourself hurt?

Jaguars Captured on Camera

Well, it's not Austrian politician having sex, but the camera trap in a Colombian plantation snapped something just as remarkable: momma and baby jaguars strollin' through ...
Take a look at the rest of the pics over at National Geographic News: here

Animal News

Chinstrap Penguins Missing from Antarctic Island

More than a third of a breeding colony in Antarctica has been lost over 20 years. 

Shelter Dog Gets Big Movie Break

It reads like a classic "rags to riches" tale. Read more

Surprise Culprits of Lyme Disease Boom

A coyote boom, along with a drop in fox numbers, may explain the recent surge in cases of Lyme disease.  

Animal Pictures