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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 29, 2012

The Daily Drift

 It's a beautiful day!
Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
George Town, Malaysia
Karachi, Pakistan
Cape Town, South Africa
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Sentul, Malaysia
Manila, Philippines
Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Bandung, Indonesia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Tallinn, Estonia
Bangkok, Thailand
Moscow, Russia

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1236 Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon take Cordoba in Spain.
1652 Massachusetts declares itself an independent commonwealth.
1767 The British parliament passes the Townshend Revenue Act, levying taxes on America.
1862 Union forces, falling back from Richmond, fight at the Battle of Savage's Station.
1880 France annexes Tahiti.
1888 Professor Frederick Treves performs the first appendectomy in England.
1903 The British government officially protests Belgian atrocities in the Congo.
1905 Russian troops intervene as riots erupt in ports all over the country, leaving many ships looted.
1917 The Ukraine proclaims independence from Russia.
1925 An earthquake ravages Santa Barbara, California.
1926 Fascists in Rome add an hour to the work day in an economic efficiency measure.
1932 Siam's army seizes Bangkok and announces an end to the absolute monarchy.
1938 Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, and Olympic National Park, Washington, are founded.
1950 President Harry S. Truman authorizes a sea blockade of Korea.
1951 The United States invites the Soviet Union to the Korean peace talks on a ship in Wonson Harbor.
1955 The Soviet Union sends tanks to Pozan, Poland, to put down anti-Communist demonstrations.
1966 The U.S. Air Force bombs fuel storage facilities near Hanoi, North Vietnam.
1967 Israel removes barricades, re-unifying Jerusalem.
1970 U.S. troops pull out of Cambodia.
1982 Israel invades Lebanon.

Supreme Court upholds Healthcare Reform, including mandate

Yesterday was a good day for America

David G. Savage writes: "The Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. upheld the heart of President Obama's healthcare law Thursday, ruling that the government may impose tax penalties on those who do not have health insurance." The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice Roberts (not Kennedy) swinging it. [LA Times]

What the Health Care Ruling Means

The Supreme Court left standing the basic provisions of President Obama's health care overhaul. Here's what it will mean for you. Read more
What the Health Care Ruling Means
And just how are the wingnuts reacting to the obvious Constitutionality of Health Care reform?
As they typically do ...

Yes, no exaggeration,

And another:

Feel free to take Alabama and Mississippi with you.
And yet, Somehow I feel Fine!

Where next for John Roberts and the Supreme Court?

The upholding of the individual mandate is not just a defeat for movement wingnuts, the fact that it was Chief Justice Roberts and not Justice Kennedy who defied them may be a rather bigger "tell."
The Supreme Court has been handing down 5-4 decisions for quite a while. When O'Connor retired, the wingnuts thought that they would finally have the reliable partisan vote in their favor that would allow them to overturn Roe vs Wade, gut the civil rights act and a dozen other projects they could never achieve through Congress. Instead the court shifted to the right, but not nearly as much as the repugicans wanted, and Kennedy became the swing vote in a series of 5-4 decisions.

Roberts did vote for Citizens United, but he isn't a Scalia or a Renquist. Faced with the choice of delivering for the extreme right, Roberts decided to keep his reputation intact.

That vote is going to have consequences. There are no shades of agreement for movement conservatives, you are either with them 100% or a vile traitor and enemy. Expect the right to denounce Robert's vote as craven, giving in to pressure from the left, then give him the Faux News treatment till they have safely driven him out of their fold.

The hilarity of CNN + Faux's bungled Health Care Act reporting, in a single 'shoop

Gary He of Inside Images today tweeted his photoshopped interpretation of an epic CNN gaffe. His 'shoop visually references the historic 1948 photo of just-elected President Harry Truman displaying before a crowd a newspaper that incorrectly reported his defeat.
The image went viral after inclusion in this New York Daily News article on how CNN and Fox totally blew it, by incorrectly reporting that the health care mandate championed by Obama was voted unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, when the opposite was in fact the case. More on Poynter.

Dollars and Dentists: PBS Frontline investigates America's dental health crisis

In America, in the 21st century, people still die of toothaches and dental neglect. "Dollars and Dentists," the latest investigative documentary hour from PBS Frontline, explores America's broken dental care system and reveals how the pressure for profit leaves the poor and under-insured at risk.
As host Miles O'Brien reports in the film, more than 100 million Americans don’t go to the dentist because they can’t afford it. Many end up financially devastated and in severe pain. Some, including children, even die.

The film focuses on two companies whose practices raise questions: dental chain Kool Smiles, which treats children on Medicaid who might not otherwise receive care. Critics say Kool Smiles takes advantage of patients, pushing for more extensive treatment than standard, in an effort to rack up more billing. The firm's practices are under examination by federal and state authorities. And other chains, like Aspen Dental, offer credit cards and payment plans to help low-income patients finance care. But the cards, issued in dentists’ offices, are offered at what many consider to be predatory financing rates, in a pressured sales approach.

Here, have a Coke and a ...

... cancer causing ingredient.
Coca-Cola Co's namesake soda sold in several countries, including Brazil and Kenya, still contains a high level of a chemical linked to cancer in animals months after it made changes to the drinks sold in California, it was on Tuesday. - More

Washington Post editorial blasts Scalia's partisanship

The repugican Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is the judicial equivalent of a House repugican. Scalia is to the court what Faux News is to, well, news. He is a caricature of justice. He epitomizes elitism. He's what I'd call "intellectual trash" - you've heard of "new money," Scalia is "new intellect." Smart, but seemingly incapable of managing the burden that comes with both intellect and power.

Here's a part of the Post's editorial:
This gratuitous outburst, regarding a matter that might someday come before the court as a legal case, followed Justice Scalia’s performance during oral arguments on health care, which included a wisecrack about striking down the “Cornhusker Kickback” — even though that infamous dollop of Medicaid money for Nebraska, allegedly inserted in return for the vote of that state’s senator, was no longer in the statute. He sneered that asking the justices to read the entire 2,700-page Affordable Care Act would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. He launched into a muddled riff on an old Jack Benny comedy routine that became so protracted and distracting that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., amused at first, eventually had to declare, “That’s enough frivolity for a while.”

Did you know ...

That the Washington Post will not retract story on Bain despite Romney's request.

How 100-million year old geology affects modern presidential elections

The image above shows the outcome of the 2008 presidential elections in the American South. Counties that swung repugican are in red. Counties that swung Democratic are in blue. The result shows more than just the modern political landscape. In fact, the blue counties trace the outline of an ancient coastline, from a time when much of the South and Central-West parts of North America were inundated with shallow, tropical seas.
I love this article by Dr. M at the Deep Sea News blog, which explains the geologic history of these oceans and explains why an ancient sea would affect modern politics.
During the Cretaceous, 139-65 million years ago, shallow seas covered much of the southern United States. These tropical waters were productive–giving rise to tiny marine plankton with carbonate skeletons which overtime accumulated into massive chalk formations. The chalk, both alkaline and porous, lead to fertile and well-drained soils in a band, mirroring that ancient coastline and stretching across the now much drier South. This arc of rich and dark soils in Alabama has long been known as the Black Belt.
...Over time this rich soil produced an amazingly productive agricultural region, especially for cotton. In 1859 alone a harvest of over 4,000 cotton bales was not uncommon within the belt. And yet, just tens of miles north or south this harvest was rare. Of course this level of cotton production required extensive labor.
Read the rest of the story at Deep Sea News

Mexican drug cartels work to sway local vote

Before the sun climbed above the hills around this central Mexican town, Saul Garcia and his family awoke to the sound of bullets piercing the front gate.
The Mexican Drug Cartels - The repugican party South of the border!

Texas repugicans oppose critical thinking

Proudly ignorant?
One of our eagle-eyed readers emailed us to point out this unbelievable passage in the rpt 2012 platform, as adopted at their recent statewide conference.

"Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

What this really means is that the repugicans are doubling down on learn-by-rote fact recitation – of the kind spearheaded by the worst of the pro-testing advocates, and locally by IDEA Public Schools, which has committed to the anti-analytical direct learning model (aka "press button A, B or C.")

Notes from the bankruptcy of Stockton, CA

The LA Times's Diana Marcum tells the story of the bankruptcy of Stockton, California, a city of about 300,000 people, which has just filed for bankruptcy. The city -- and its developers -- borrowed heavily in the past decade to build a series of follies: a luxury hotel, a marina, a promenade, in a bid to lure people down from the Bay Area. Stockton is a boom-and-bust poster-child, and has just gone through the new AB 506 arbitration procedures set out for municipal defaults in California law, a drawn-out "death of a thousand meetings," and is still headed into bankruptcy.
Although a city of almost 300,000, Stockton is a place where many families have known one another for generations. The most impassioned speakers argued on behalf of others, with the main rallying cry a plea to keep health insurance for retirees with illnesses. A high school student spoke of his aunt, a retired city worker with cancer, and a retired fire chief spoke of his former secretary who cares for her ill husband.
"People look at me and say, 'Well he can afford his own insurance,' and I can," said Gary Gillis, the retired chief. "But how about the ones who mowed the lawns, went in the sewers, typed my letters? We have to protect the most vulnerable among us."
Experts say there are no clear answers to what comes next for Stockton or how its fall will affect the rest of the state. Other cities hit hard by the housing bust and state budget crisis are negotiating with employee unions for concessions and are watching to see if municipal bankruptcy proves medicine or poison.

Barclays fined for manipulating Libor rates

As The Guardian has detailed, 2012 has been a bumpy year for Barclays bank. Barclays CEO (American) Bob Diamond had been as much of a wallflower as JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon. Never happy with staying in the background and focusing on business, Diamond has rarely been able to control himself. He just has to be the center of attention or he will seemingly burst.
The Lehman collapse must have been the best of times for Diamond, as he received a sweet deal on that purchase including plenty of government help. In what was shaping up to be a dream year for Diamond, his 2011 payout of $27 million was halted after shareholder complaints. And now, Diamond has agreed to forgo his 2012 bonus following the latest scandal where his bank has admitted to manipulating markets. Suddenly, there is talk about the end of Diamond's career. His golden touch is no longer so golden, as if it ever really was golden.

So what about the market manipulation? Diamond's team involved in the manipulation talked about being quiet though they left a long and detailed history of emails and chats where they openly discussed "favors" for each other. Regulators continue investigations of similar abuse with numerous other global banks.
Requests came in such as: "We need a really low 3m fix, it could potentially cost a fortune. Would really appreciate any help."

And: "Your annoying colleague again ... Would love to get a high one month. Also if poss a low three month ... if poss ... thanks."

Traders made their requests in person, via email and through electronic "chats" over an instant messaging system.

On a few occasions, some traders even made entries in electronic calendars to remind themselves what requests to make of Barclays' Libor submitters the next day.
The outstanding issue now is whether the banks will be deterred from such actions in the future. Are these fines enough to change behavior or are they a nuisance, but still cheaper than actually following the law? To date, most of the settlements with the banking industry have been favorable to the bankers. This may be an expensive fine and it may end up costing Diamond his job, but Barclays will be just fine. That's how it always works out.

Spanish banks downgraded by Moody's, impact on US banks unclear

A story from the other day, but still important.  Included in the list of 28 downgraded Spanish banks are Santander and BBVA, two of their largest banks and two that operate in the US as well. BBVA accepted a substantial bailout late last year. While the two Spanish giants were not as heavily downgraded as other banks, it's still a concern.
What remains unclear is the impact any of this will have on their US operations. Santander, in particular, needs to focus on its home turf which is falling apart by the day. US regulators ought to be digging into this though looking at their history, they probably aren't.

Banco Santander SA (SAN) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), Spain’s largest lenders, were downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service because of the country’s sovereign debt and souring real-estate loans.

While Santander and BBVA remained investment grade, at least a dozen lenders were lowered to junk status, Moody’s said yesterday in a statement. The ratings company downgraded six banks by four levels and 10 by three grades, with the rest getting one- and two-tier declines.

From the Newswire

JetBlue pilot pleads not guilty
A JetBlue Airways pilot who left the cockpit during a flight and screamed about religion and terrorists has pleaded not guilty to interfering with a flight crew.

NM mom jailed for overdue 'Twilight' book, DVDs
A New Mexico woman was arrested and spent a night in jail for not returning the book "Twilight" and two-DVD set "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" back to the library on time.

Police Help Girl Find Lost Teddy Bear
A Swedish police officer uploaded this poster to the Sodermalm police Facebook page to help a little girl find her furry friend.

Taunted N.Y. bus monitor to meet her benefactor

School bus monitor Karen Klein, who endured relentless taunting by a group of students, will soon meet face-to-face with the Toronto nutritionist who started up a fundraising campaign that's raised more than $655,000 since last week to send her on the vacation of her life.

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours at 35

I'm a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac's California cocaine trilogy of Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, and Tusk. It's amazing that this year Rumours turns 35. Ken Caillat, who co-produced and engineered the record, has just written a new book that I'm really looking forward to reading titled "Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album." From a CNN interview with Caillat:
 Up-N-Adam Wp-Content Uploads 2012 04 Fleetwood-Mac-Book At the time they were recording the album, all five band mates were going through painful breakups: (John and Chrstine McVie) were divorcing, (Lindsey) Buckingham and (Stevie) Nicks' long-term relationship was coming to a bitter end and Fleetwood's wife was about to leave him for his best friend. It's all personal drama that Caillat chronicles in his book.
"In retrospect, it's a miracle that we were able to finish 'Rumours,' " he said. "But later, I came to understand that 'Rumours' probably succeeded because it was brilliant group therapy.
"Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album" (Amazon)
"Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' at 35: Still the 'perfect album'" (CNN)

Sarah Robles: The strongest woman in America lives on $400 a month

Meet Sarah Robles. She can lift as much as 570 pounds. In last year's weightlifting world championships, she bested every other American—both female and male. Sarah Robles is going to the Olympics in London this summer. But at home, in the United States, she lives on $400 a month.
Track star Lolo Jones, 29, soccer player Alex Morgan, 22, and swimmer Natalie Coughlin, 29, are natural television stars with camera-friendly good looks and slim, muscular figures. But women weightlifters aren't go-tos when Sports Illustrated is looking for athletes to model body paint in the swimsuit issue. They don’t collaborate with Cole Haan on accessories lines and sit next to Anna Wintour at Fashion Week, like tennis beauty Maria Sharapova. And male weightlifters often get their sponsorships from supplements or diet pills, because their buff, ripped bodies align with male beauty ideals. Men on diet pills want to look like weightlifters — most women would rather not.
Meanwhile, Robles — whose rigorous training schedule leaves her little time for outside work — struggles to pay for food. It would be hard enough for the average person to live off the $400 a month she receives from U.S.A. Weightlifting, but it’s especially difficult for someone who consumes 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day, a goal she meets through several daily servings of grains, meats and vegetables, along with weekly pizza nights. She also gets discounted groceries from food banks and donations from her coach, family and friends — or, as Robles says, “prayers and pity.”
She's not alone. Holley Mangold, the other American woman who'll be doing Olympic weightlifting in the same division, works part-time for a BBQ restaurant and lives in a friend's converted laundry room.
In fact, while the biggest stars in the most-watched events can pick up million-dollar endorsement deals, the truth is that most Olympic athletes live on extremely modest incomes. That's especially true in countries like Canada, which lacks the kind of government support system you find in places like China and Russia, but also lacks the plethora of large and small private endorsement deals that are available to some (but not all) American Olympians.
I think this is interesting. Every time the Olympics come up, I hear friends and talking heads alike arguing that the amateur athlete no longer exists. Everybody in the Olympics is really a professional and that makes it all less exciting—or so goes the conventional wisdom. The reality is that, for the most part, we're talking about people who make big sacrifices to be able to compete at a high level in a sport they're obsessed with for its own sake, not because they're getting rich. Sponsorships, rather than tainting the sport, do also help some athletes know where their next meal is coming from. After reading some of these articles, I think the vast majority of Olympic athletes probably fall squarely into Happy Mutant territory.
Read the rest of Buzzfeed's profile of Sarah Robles
• Read the New York Times' profile of weightlifter Holley Mangold
• Ivestopedia: Olympic Athletes—Back to Reality
• Wired: Olympic Runner Fights to Change Sponsorship Rules
• ABC News: How Can Olympic Athletes Find a Real Job?
• Time Magazine: Keeping Afloat (which contrasts the profits of the U.S. Olympic Committee with the small incomes that support many Olympic athletes)

Random Photo


Nicci Pisarri

The Valedictorian Lawsuit

Straight A's and a 4.50 GPA, accepted to Stanford with an engineering internship at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to boot but that's not enough for some parents. No, they wanted their daughter to get the top honor of valedictorian ... even if they have to sue for it:
And to Elisha’s mother, Carol, the second-place finish means that her daughter's "sleepless nights" were essentially “for nothing.”
"It's flawed. It's wrong," Carol told The Times. "All her hard work is not being recognized. All she had was straight A's. Not a B, ever."
Nelson said his family is considering suing LAUSD for failing to award their daughter the honor of valedictorian.

UN war crimes tribunal acquits Radovan Karadzic of 1 genocide charge; upholds 10 other charges

In this Nov. 3, 2009 file photo former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the courtroom of the U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Chinese corruption and looting on a vast scale: industry, government, and military

Here's a well-cited and pretty scary article describing the vast scale of corruption at the highest levels in China, and the extent to which "the success of 300m Chinese who live in western level prosperity depends on the continued exploitation and good nature of one billion people who live on an average of $5000 per annum." The author, Steve Keen (Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney) ranges widely over Chinese industry, government, and the military.
Zoomlion has an interesting business model, it is similar in many of ways to Caterpillar, except whereas Caterpillar report falling sales, Zoomlion reports astounding sales growth with a fivefold increase in revenue since 2007. Zoomlion customers sometimes buy ten concrete mixers when they planned to initially by one or two. They have a perverse incentive to buy more than they need because these concrete trucks are purchased via finance packages supplied by Zoomlion.
Then the machines can be garaged and used as collateral to borrow further funds from other lenders. Zoomlion continues to grow while cement sales have plunged. In May, cement output increased 4.3 per cent YoY, down from 19.2 per cent recorded last year. Zoomlion’s new debt of $22.5B buys roughly 900,000 trucks which could produce enough concrete (at six loads a day) to build over thirty Great Pyramids of Giza a day .
Every sector is infected with these kinds of perverse business practices, steel traders used loans meant for steel projects to speculate in property and stocks , it has been common (apparently) for steel traders to secure loans to buy steel then use this same steel as collateral to borrow funds to invest in property development and the stock market. In many ways this is the steel version of the Zoomlion model. A fundamental foundation of any lending market is the ability of the lender to ensure title and guarantee ownership of collateral...
...The current political leadership of China represents the greatest looting of a country by the political class ever seen in history. In the Hurun Report released in March 2012—the richest 70 members of the government have a net worth of $89.8 billion, an average of over $1B each. This compares to $7.5 billion for the 660 for the US government, an average of $11M each. China’s Billionaire People’s Congress Makes Capitol Hill Look Like Paupers. In a country so indoctrinated in the works of Marx, it seems only a matter of time before the current Chinese proletariat, suffering under extreme wealth distribution, will rise up. One only has to look at the geographic distribution of wealth to see where the problems might begin.
Furthermore, this does not take into account the wealth held by the families of these politicians. Nor is this corruption limited to politicians. The military, according to John Garnaut’s report, has become one of the most corrupt state enterprises of all. China’s wealth distribution is becoming completely one sided The success of 300m Chinese who live in western level prosperity depends on the continued exploitation and good nature of one billion people who live on an average of $5000 per annum. This week Chinese military leaders have been ordered to report assets under the following CCP directive – The General Political Department, Discipline Inspection Commission: Leaders Must Report Income, Real Estate Holdings and Investments. This is likely to be met with extraordinary resistance. This could result in a standoff between the CCP and the PLA , where both bodies equally riddled with corruption struggle for the upper hand. The great

Five Suspected of Stealing 9.5 Tons of Garlic

The Austria Press Agency says police stopped three overloaded and sagging vans about to cross into Hungary from Austria on Wednesday and found them packed to the roof with the pungent cargo.

A 72-year-old man accused of threatening neighbor with gun for farting

A 72-year-old man is accused of threatening his neighbor with a gun for farting outside his apartment, police said.
Daniel Collins Jr. is accused of pointing a silver revolver at his 47-year-old neighbor in the vestibule of their Cedar Lane apartment building and saying, “I’m going to put a hole in your head.” The confrontation occurred after Collins said his neighbor farted as he walked in front of Collins’ apartment, said Detective Lt. Andrew McGurr.

Collins told detectives he heard the un-neighborly act from inside his apartment. The neighbor called police, who found a revolver under the front passenger seat of Collins’ vehicle. The gun, a .32-calibre Taurus revolver, fit the description the neighbor gave investigators, McGurr said.

Collins was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and terroristic threats. He was released on his own recognizance, McGurr said. The men had an ongoing dispute stemming from noise complaints, McGurr said.

Man sets himself on fire at gas station

A motorist almost paid the ultimate price for committing one of the most stupidest of acts - testing a cigarette lighter while filling his car with gasoline.

Guess the purpose of this gun?

This rare handgun was made to function in an unusual environment. Can you guess what that might be? .
Underwater. According to my sources, the Soviet 4.5mm B-VI-307 was developed in the 1960s specifically for submerged use. The gun never made it into production. The one pictured above is at the Central Armed Forces Museum of Moscow.

Western US wildfires, as seen from space

NASA/NOAA GOES Project. Caption: NASA Goddard, Rob Gutro
The NASA GOES-15 satellite captured this image of the western United States which shows smoke from fires in many states creating a brownish-colored blanket over the region.

The dawn's early light revealed smoke and haze throughout the Midwest, arising from forest fires throughout the Rockies. While the most publicized fires occur along the populous eastern range in Colorado, the great smoke plumes in this image came from Wyoming. NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-15, captured this visible image on June 28 at 1245 UTC (8:45 a.m. EDT). This image was created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
More images at the NASA fire coverage site.

Awesome Pictures


Thunderhead and the Totem Poles in Monument Valley -

Colorful And Picturesque Villages Of Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a group of 18 islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The Faroe Islands are undeniably beautiful: green, rugged and wind-swept. The countryside is dominated by steep mountains, vertical sea cliffs and picturesque valleys.

There are over a hundred villages in the Faroe Islands. The houses are either painted in bright colours or the traditional black, whilst the roofs are often turf covered. The buildings are usually built very close to each other, which is very cosy. In most places sheep occupy the outfield throughout the whole year.

Why Does Hot Water Freeze Faster Than Cold Water?

Psst! Want £1,000? All you have to do is explain this curious property of water: why does hot water freeze faster than cold water.
The Royal Society of Chemistry is backing the prize:
"Ice cream makers and bartenders alike use the fact that hot water freezes more quickly than cold water every day in their work, but no one really knows why it works. The problem has been around for millennia, with philosophers such as Aristotle and Descartes pondering over it.
"But this effect was reintroduced into the scientific world in 1968 by Erasto Mpemba, a young inquisitive student in Tanzania during a lab session.
"Erasto questioned a teacher on why ice cream froze more quickly when it was boiled, and was quickly told that he was wrong and had probably imagined it. It was only when the teacher performed the experiment himself that he noticed this unusual phenomenon.
"Since the discovery of the effect, scientists have been trying to find out why the phenomenon occurs but remain divided as to what the answer is. It seems that there are lots of possible answers but a conclusive explanation hasn't been produced yet.

Pyura Chilensis, the living rock

This is not a geode. It's an animal. An apparently delicious animals with clear blood, whose body is accumulates surprisingly large amounts of a rare metal used to strengthen steel.
This is Pyura chilensis—an immobile ocean creature. Besides the other traits I mentioned, P. chilensis is also capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction. At the Running Ponies blog, Becky Crew explains the results of a 2005 study that detailed the creature's breeding habits for the first time.
The results showed that P. chilensis is born male, before becoming cosexual – having both male and female gonads – in its adolescence as it increased in size. The researchers also found that given the choice – that is, if situated around other individuals – these organisms prefer to breed via cross-fertilisation, writing, “Given that more events of natural egg spawning followed by successful settlement and metamorphosis were recorded in our paired specimens and in our manipulated cross trials … it appears that cross-fertilisation predominates in this species.”
ManrĂ­quez and Castilla also found that a greater number of fertilised eggs resulted from the paired specimens, which suggests that cross-fertilisation, or reproducing with another individual, predominates because it is more effective. This assumption was strengthened by the fact that individuals that had cross-fertilised before being put in isolation took at least two months before successfully producing offspring via selfing. However, they were careful to note that while cross-fertilisation was preferred, selfing did not produce inferior offspring. “No perceptible differences in fertilisation, settlement and metamorphosis success among self and outcross progeny were found,” they reported. This suggests that when stuck alone in the ocean, selfing provides an advantageous opportunity for loner P. chilensis individuals to still pass on their genes.

Astronomical News

Saturn moon may have ocean
Scientists reported Thursday on the strongest sign yet that Saturn's giant moon may have a salty ocean beneath its chilly surface.

Moonlight, Wolf


Frederic Remington : Moonlight, Wolf (ca.1909) (via)
Frederic Remington : Moonlight, Wolf (ca.1909)

When urban beekeeping gets too dense

Bees need a certain amount of nearby green space in order to find enough pollen to survive. Without that, bees can starve. They can also end up subsisting on a diet of syrup that's about as healthy for them as a diet of burgers and fries would be for you and I. London has had die-offs of bees in the past, when beekeeping got more popular than the city's limited green space could support. Some people are now worried that New York City could be headed toward that problem.

Firefighters rescue dog that chased raccoon up tree

When a call came in last week to a San Mateo County emergency dispatch centre that a dog had climbed 30 feet up a tree in Atherton and couldn’t get down, no one believed it. Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said that in his 32 years of service, he’s rescued plenty of cats that were stuck in trees, and even some exotic pet birds, but never a dog.
“The dispatchers thought, ‘Whoever it is must be wrong,’” Schapelhouman said. “I’ve never seen or heard of a dog that could climb a tree.”, On June 19 at about 9 p.m., a 40-pound Wheaten Terrier named “Guinness” pursued a raccoon high into the branches of an oak tree. Guinness got stuck, and his owner climbed the tree but couldn’t reach him.

When firefighters arrived, the dog was suspended in branches hanging over a drainage channel, Schapelhouman said. Firefighters used an improvised rescue harness, a rope system and a 36-foot ladder to reach Guinness, who was frozen in place, nervous and shaking. Firefighter Tony Eggimann climbed the ladder, secured Guinness in his harness and gave him a treat, Schapelhouman said.

The dog was safely carried down and reunited with his grateful owners. Schapelhouman, who said he has had decades of experience working with highly trained search-and-rescue dogs, said he has never seen a canine scale a tree like Guinness. “Its unbelievable,” he said. “That dog could really climb.” Guinness’ owners have since put a fence around the tree.

With news video. There's a raw video here.

Woman charged with animal abuse because her dog's barking caused a chicked to have a heart attack

Emotion overcomes Joy C. McDonald each time she pauses to think about what her future might hold. She could lose her job, her small rented home and custody of her three children — all because her two little dogs supposedly scared a neighbor elderly chicken to death.
According to McDonald, the penned bird apparently suffered a heart attack when her two Chihuahuas barked at it while running loose in their rural Lafayette County neighborhood. Actually, court records accuse the dogs of killing the chicken but don’t describe how. The bird’s owner refused to recount his version of events.

The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office released only the department’s incident log, which confirms deputies were called to investigate on April 5. And the county prosecutor is saying little because the case remains unsettled. “There are photos with a poor dead chicken and feathers everywhere,” said Lafayette County Prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell.

The 29-year-old McDonald faces a misdemeanor charge of animal abuse for not controlling her Chihuahuas — Peaches and Domino — that together weigh about 5 pounds, or about as much as the average chicken sold for slaughter in Missouri last year. If convicted, McDonald could be sent to the county jail for a year or be fined as much as $1,000, or face both penalties. “I think this is asinine,” said McDonald, who lives just east of Odessa. “I just can’t wrap my mind around it. All of this because of a dead chicken.”

Full story with news video here.

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