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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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Daily Drift

Colorful Paris

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Belgrade, Serbia
Klang, Malaysia
Fermont, Canada
Jerudong, Brunei
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Chisinau, Molodva
Ankara, Turkey
Islamabad, Pakistan
Cape Town, South Africa
Makati, Philippines
Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
Kathmandu, Nepal
Armenia, Colombia
Meycauayan, Philippines
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Manila, Philippines
Hanoi, Vietnam
George Town, Malaysia
Cebu City, Philippines
Taipei, Taiwan
Sampaloc, Philippines

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1525   The Catholic princes of Germany form the Dessau League to fight against the Reformation.
1545   King Henry VIII of England watches his flagship, Mary Rose, capsize as it leaves to battle the French.
1788   Prices plunge on the Paris stock market.
1799   The Rosetta Stone, a tablet with hieroglyphic translations into Greek, is found in Egypt.
1848   The first Women's Rights Convention convenes in Seneca Falls, N.Y, organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
1870   France declares war on Prussia.
1942   German U-boats are withdrawn from positions off the U.S. Atlantic coast due to American anti-submarine countermeasures.
1943   More than 150 B-17 and 112 B-24 bombers attack Rome for the first time.
1975   Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts dock in orbit.

Knight Rides across Canada to Promote Chivalry

Vincent Gabriel Kirouac of Quebec recently arrived in Saskatchewan on horseback and in armor. He doesn’t hold an official knighthood, but he is making his knightly journey across Canada to promote chivalrous conduct:
He said he believes it is possible for people to behave with chivalry, even in hectic times.
Kirouac insists he has not only donned a knight’s costume but has taken the role to heart.
“I am a knight,” he said. “I’m trying to be that symbol of something that is incorruptible… and never to fail my duty, which is to be a knight and be good and be an example.”
He said he hopes people who hear his message will adopt some of what he is espousing in their own lives.
“It’s all about love,” he added.
People who have met Kirouac on his journey have responded positively:
He explained that finding a place to stay has been as simple as riding into a farm yard and knocking on a door.
“You ask for the hospitality and they say ‘yes’ all the time,” he said, adding the encounter usually begins with the person who answered the door giving him a quizzical look.

And I Quote

"To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."

~ Confucious

Huntersville bans smoking in parks

Mecklenburg considers similar ban
By April Bethea
Mecklenburg leaders could decide later this year whether to ban smoking or other tobacco use at county parks.
The move – which must be approved by park and recreation staff as well as county commissioners – could add Mecklenburg to a growing number of local governments in North Carolina that restrict or prohibit tobacco use in public parks.
On Monday, a majority of Huntersville commissioners voted to ban smoking in town parks effective immediately. Violators could face a fine if they don’t stop smoking after a warning.
Davidson also bans smoking in town parks. Meanwhile, Cornelius, Kannapolis, Concord and Cabarrus County ban all tobacco use in parks.
Mecklenburg parks director Jim Garges said a committee from his agency and the county health department are discussing a potential ordinance on smoking or tobacco use at parks.
A formal proposal hasn’t been drafted yet, and it’s not yet known how far any prohibition would go.
Smoking is already prohibited in public buildings in the state, including the county’s. But some communities have gone further to restrict tobacco in public areas as well.
Across the state, about a fifth of the state’s 100 counties, and 48 municipalities have smoke or tobacco-free policies in parks, said Patti Bossert, a grass-roots manager with the American Cancer Society.
Bossert said there are three main reasons why governments or others have considered restrictions on tobacco use in parks, including wanting to make sure adults are modeling healthy behavior to kids and trying to reduce second-hand smoke in bleachers or other common areas.
“We have about 2,000 teenagers nationwide who begin smoking every day so we want to do what we can to create a positive role modeling,” she said.

Syrian defense minister killed in suicide bombing

They also killed the president's brother in law. It was apparently a member of the security detail. Which is wild. From Reuters:
Syria's defense minister and President Bashar al-Assad's brother in-law were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Damascus on Wednesday, in the most serious blow to Assad's high command in a 16-month-old revolt.
TIME strikes a note of concern:
Besides a government crackdown, rebel fighters are launching increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several massive suicide attacks this year suggest al-Qaida or other extremists are joining the fray.
And, big surprise, who's one of the main impediments to peace? Russia.
The key stumbling block is the Western demand for a resolution threatening non-military sanctions and tied to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria.

Russia is adamantly opposed to any mention of sanctions or Chapter 7. After Security Council consultations late Tuesday on a revised draft resolution pushed by Moscow, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Pankin said these remain “red lines.”

Did you know ...

That the biggest threats we face are from wingnut religion

That you deserve a break today -- unless you're gay

That conservapedia still exists and it has it's most over rated sports stars

About 10 of the world's most infamous cults

Lush Dimbulb flunked out of college after just two semesters

The more you know.
Dimbulb graduated from high school in 1969 and enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University. He dropped out after two semesters and one summer after "he flunked everything," his mother said. "He just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."
Now, you know why we call him Lush Dimbulb - he's always stoned/drunk and he's stupid.  So you know what that makes his 'Ditto-heads', right? Yep, you got it ... idiots.

Is Faux News now a liability for the repugicans?

Since its launch in 1996, Faux News has provided the repugican party with an unrivaled propaganda machine. Faux News was the principal engine of the repugican echo chamber giving endless coverage to repugican smears and wing-nut conspiracy theories which the establishment media would then report as if they were credible. Without Faux News there would have been no Tea Party, no Swiftboat liars and no shrub AKA the pretender George W. Bush.
Faux News is now the dominant force within the repugican party. When Murdoch says jump, repugican politicians are forced to ask 'how high'. Practically the entire repugican base relies on Faux as their principal source for 'news'. When David Frum observed that "Repugicans originally thought that Faux worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Faux,” he was fired from his position at the AEI two days later.

But even as Faux consolidates its grip on power within the repugican party the Faux News echo chamber of old is broken. The establishment media no longer consider a story news because the Murdoch press is giving it saturation coverage. It now takes a Congressional committee investigation and a spurious contempt vote to gain the fleeting attention of the mainstream media.

The Faux News of old served as a conduit for repugican misinformation to the public at large. It is still a conduit for misinformation but now the repugican party is on the receiving end. It is not just Romney who is out of touch with the real world, his entire campaign team has spent the past decade in the alternative universe of Faux News.

How else could Team Romney have built their campaign strategy on the assumption that Barack Obama does not know how to respond to smears and derisive insults? Romney has spent over a year and a hundred million dollars fighting against the Obama that only exists in the mind of Faux News viewers: The weak guy who would apologize and offer Romney a hug, not the real Obama who responded with the 'Firms' ad in less than 24 hours.

What people have been explaining as the 'bitch slap' theory of politics has turned out to be no more than intelligent people acting on false information.  They assumed that the smears and lies that work so well on Faux would work in a campaign. If Romney had really been following the bitch-slap theory he would have thought that demanding an apology gives the appearance of weakness. Instead Romney blinked and after months of attack ads that were transparently unfair, demanded an apology for an attack nobody else thought unfair.

There is no question that Faux News was a powerful asset for the repugican party for its first ten years, it is hard to see it as any sort of benefit to the party today.

Romney brought ringers to NAACP speech

Romney was concerned that blacks might not be receptive to him, so he reportedly brought his own blacks to the NAACP speech.  Or worse, he planned the entire thing so he could tell Faux that he spoke with a lot of blacks who weren't going to vote for Obama, without acknowledging that they were ringers.  From the Atlanta Black Star:
An official with the NAACP suggested that repugican challenger Mitt Romney brought his own black supporters to the NAACP speech yesterday to give the appearance that NAACP members were applauding him. And when Romney later told Faux News that black people at the event gave him a standing ovation and said in a private meeting they would vote for him because of dissatisfaction with Obama, they were actually his own people, the official suggested.

The truth be told

Libor-rigging suits could cost Bank of America $4 billion

Bank of America could eventually be forced to pony up $4.2 billion in legal settlements connected to the Libor-rigging scandal, according to analysts with Keefe, Bruyette and Woods.

In a research note published Tuesday, the investment firm analysts speculate on the potential liability of big banks that help determine the key interest rate in the wake of Barclays' $450 million settlement of charges that its employees manipulated the Libor rate, keeping it artificially low. A number of other banks have disclosed that they, too, are under investigation.

Bank of America has not been identified as being under investigation for falsifying Libor submissions, but the Charlotte bank is a defendant in a civil suit brought by Charles Schwab making similar allegations.

KBW's liability estimates are based on the dollar value of derivatives each bank holds that are tied to Libor.

JPMorgan Chase could be on the hook for $4.8 billion, the analysts estimate, and Citigroup could pay $3.1 billion. The industry as a whole could make $35 billion in settlements.

The analysts pointed out, however, that the burden of proof against these banks will be difficult to meet, and say it will likely be tied up in the legal system for five to eight years.

The Myth That Entitlements Destroy a Nation's Growth, Busted in 1 Chart

By Matthew O'Brien
The euro crisis is supposed to be the death knell of cradle-to-the-grave government. But the reality is the only thing the euro crisis might be the death knell of is the euro. None of Europe's biggest welfare states are in trouble.

Let's look at some data. The chart below compares average social spending with adjusted per capita GDP growth since 2000. (Note: The y-axis shows social spending as a percentage of GDP; the x-axis shows percentage growth. Data is from the OECD and IMF). See if you can make out any kind of discernible relationship here.


I know this picture is worth 1,000 words, but here are four more. There is no pattern.

Okay, here are some more words. You might be wondering just how the per capita GDP growth figures are adjusted. If not, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. The adjustment tries to control for how wealthy each country is. In plain English, we'd expect poorer countries to grow faster than richer countries. It's what economists call convergence. Taking the purchasing power parity GDP per capita figures for each country and using a simple convergence multiplier, we can estimate how much faster (or slower) each country "should" grow compared to the United States.

It hasn't exactly been a good decade for growth anywhere in the rich world. But it hasn't been any worse for countries with big welfare states versus countries with small welfare states. Yes, 
social programs can affect growth. But so do other things. Like monetary policy. Or smart taxes. And that most ineffable of qualities, a strong entrepreneurial culture. Which, ironically, might be strengthened by some elements of the social safety net.

You don't need to sacrifice economic security for economic growth. Other countries manage both just fine. Actually, the U.S. is in better shape than most other rich countries because our demographic crunch is much less ... crunchy? Our society is still growing, if aging.

Hear that sound? It's the death knell of the death knell of the welfare state.

The Average Canadian Now Richer Than the Average American

Waitaminute! While we're busy trying not to lose our shirt in the Great Recession, those sneaky Canadians managed to get richer than us Yanks. But how did it happen?
On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.
According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.
A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.
The difference grows starker by the month: The Canadian system is working; the American system is not. And it’s not just Canadians who are noticing. As Iceland considers switching to a currency other than the krona, its leaders’ primary focus of interest is the loonie -- the Canadian dollar.
Stephen Marche of Bloomberg explains: here.

Random Celebrity Photo


Cash-for-coverage chick lit site threatens critic

Chick Lit Girls, which publishes positive reviews for money, is threatening legal action against a writer who publicized that fact earlier this week.
Describing itself as "basically goodreads[sic] for women", Chick Lit Girls has the stated mission of not publishing negative reviews. To quote, "we're here to help authors, not destroy them!"
When author Michele Gorman offered her latest novel for review, however, they first requested a $95 fee, then accused her of "harrassing[sic]" them when she criticized the practice on Twitter and at her blog.
We have the ability to track IP addresses, so I would think twice before you begin to defame our name…That is illegal, and we will take action. Our attorney has been notified!
After Chick Lit Girls pointed out that they do disclose the fee—albeit in the fine print—Gorman removed remarks that suggested otherwise. Gorman also removed named references to "Chick Lit Girls" from her site, but did not remove her criticism of paid reviews.
At Popehat, Ken White describes the "barely-literate" threats as bumptious and doomed to failure:
People who issue thuggish legal threats to those who criticize them ... can't be trusted, should not receive your business or traffic, and deserve no respect. Ms. Gorman made a mistake — sort of, given ChickLitGirls' rather vague dislosure — which she corrected. But it's clear from the title, text, and follow-up to the ChickLitGirls' threat that what they are really attempting to do is chill and deter criticism of their business model. That's why they describe criticism as "harassment" and "threats." That's contemptible. Moreover, it's legally unsupportable. If they are foolish enough to push it, they will lose, badly.

Madonna's Swastika Statement

The Symbol's Origins 
Madonna may be sued after displaying the swastika during a concert, but before World War 2, the symbol wasn't so controversial.
Madonna's Swastika Statement: Symbol's Origins

Fortunetelling Verdict Raises Thorny Questions

A federal judge has struck down an ordinance banning fortunetelling, palm reading and astrology. Read more
 Fortunetelling Verdict Raises Thorny Questions

Pink Panty Sheriff on Trial

Five years after he started "crime suppression" sweeps that terrorized Latino neighborhoods,
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is finally having to explain himself. Not to TV crews in Phoenix or to fawning hosts on Faux News, but before a federal judge.

A class-action civil-rights lawsuit, is scheduled to begin Thursday in Federal District Court in Phoenix.
The plaintiffs accuse the Pink Panty sheriff of waging an all-out, unlawful campaign of discrimination and harassment against Latinos and those who look like them.

They say the sheriff and his deputies made illegal stops, searches and arrests, staged wrongful neighborhood and workplace raids, and provoked widespread fear among citizens, legal residents and undocumented immigrants alike.

One plaintiff, Manuel Melendres, is a Mexican citizen who had a valid visa when Sheriff Arpaio's deputies arrested him in 2007. He said he was handcuffed and held for hours, not read his rights or allowed a phone call,or told why he had been arrested. Two other plaintiffs were accosted by deputies at gunpoint during a neighborhood sweep, for no explained reason. They are citizens.

As always, criminal repugicans will continue to commit crimes until a Democrat finds the courage to stand up and say, "Enough."

I hope this scumbag ends up in the Maricopa County jail, where it's 140 degrees. 

Google execs: our technology can be used to fight narcoviolence in Mexico

In a Washington Post op-ed, Google's executive chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen argue the case for technology as a tool to aid citizen activists in places like Juarez, Mexico. Schmidt and Cohen recently visited the drug-war-wracked border town, and describe the climate of violence there as "surreal."
In Juarez, we saw fearful human beings — sources — who need to get their information into the right hands. With our packet-switching mind-set, we realized that there may be a technological workaround to the fear: Sources don’t need to physically turn to corrupt authorities, distant journalists or diffuse nonprofits, and rely on their hope that the possible benefit is worth the risk of exposing themselves.
Technology can help intermediate this exchange, like servers passing packets on the Internet. Sources don’t need to pierce their anonymity. They don’t need to trust a single person or institution. Why can’t they simply throw encrypted packets into the network and let the tools move information to the right destinations?
In a sense, we are talking about dual crowdsourcing: Citizens crowdsource incident awareness up, and responders crowdsource justice down, nearly in real time. The trick is that anonymity is provided to everyone, although such a system would know a unique ID for every user to maintain records and provide rewards. This bare-bones model could take many forms: official and nonprofit first responders, investigative journalists, whistleblowers, neighborhood watches.
I'll be interested to hear what people in Juarez, and throughout Mexico, think of the editorial. The notion that crypto, Tor, or other anonymity-aiding online tools might help peaceful observers is not a new one, and not one that activists in Mexico need outsiders to teach them about. There are plenty of smart geeks in Mexico who are well aware of the need for, and usefulness of, such tools. But Google execs speaking directly to the conflict, and how widely-available free tools might help, is a new and notable thing. Red the rest here.

The 17-Year-Old Drug Kingpin

A certain 17-year-old high school student near Cincinnati, Ohio, certainly has a zeal for entrepreneurship: he has managed to juggle academics and run his own multimillion dollar business. Meet the 17-year-old drug kingpin:
Ohio police have arrested an alleged drug kingpin, a 17-year-old accused of running a multimillion dollar ring that distributed high-grade marijuana through two school districts and netted $20,000 a month.
When cops raided the boy's bedroom at his parents' home, they found over $6,000 in cash, prosecutors said.
Russell Goldman of ABC News has the story: here.

German police catch prolific thief who stole screws from road signs

Bavarian police have finally caught a man who spent months stealing screws from road signs. Officials, who were running out of the special screws needed, are said to be very relieved. A vigilant driver called the police after noticing the man working on a roadside warning lamp late on Saturday evening. He was reportedly wearing a headlamp, and kept hiding whenever a car approached.

Officers arrived to find a man who fit the description of a screw-thief who had evaded them for months, taking the screws from road signs around the small village of Peiting. "He had a large number of nuts and appropriate tools with him," police chief Rudolf Fischer said. "He quickly admitted that he had been dismantling road signs for some time," Fischer added.

Police later found kilos of stolen screws, nuts and eyelets in the man's home. They believe that he was motivated by a simple mania for collection. The 54-year-old man, who had no other convictions, was apparently psychologically disturbed and is receiving care. It is still unclear whether he can be made liable for his actions, which caused an estimated damage of €800.

"We are still missing a few road signs," said Fischer. Franz Multerer, local authority construction chief, greeted the news with relief. "Thank God," he said, explaining that he was beginning to wonder how he was supposed to re-attach the signs in the future. Multerer intends to contact the police as soon as possible to ask for the screws back. "Because they're all mine!" he explained.

Man lands job after threat to cut off boss's fingers

An out of work 26-year-old from eastern Sweden who threatened to cut off a business owner's fingers after being denied a job is facing criminal charges for the violent threat. The incident took place after the 26-year-old man's unsuccessful attempt to land a job at a small business owned by a man in Hudiksvall in eastern Sweden.
Following the failed job interview attempt, the 26-year-old became enraged and drove over to the business owner's home, equipped with a bag containing a pair of pliers, an iron pipe, a hunting knife, and a cutting board. Upon arrival, the scorned job seeker first threatened to kill the man and his family.

He then told the shocked business owner he would to cut off his fingers if he wasn't offered a job. The frightened business owner finally relented to the 26-year-old's demands, and agreed to offer him a job with the company. He also agreed to give his car to the 26-year-old, even signing an ownership transfer certificate.

A few days later, however, the business owner reported the incident to police, who promptly arrested the 26-year-old. Police have received reports that the 26-year-old threatened three other people in Hudiksvall. He is now facing charges for blackmail, assault, making illegal threats, and obstruction of justice.

Burger King worker who posted pictures of himself standing in bins of lettuce hunted down by vigilante website users and fired

When a Burger King employee posted pictures of himself stepping in bins of lettuce, offended fast-food lovers took a mere 15 minutes to expose him.

Non Sequitur

Odds and Ends

Chinese Girl Covered in Black Fur Hopes for a New Life
After being abandoned by her parents and bullied by other children, she is hoping that she can someday live a normal, happy life.
Coke vs. Pepsi: The History of the Cola Wars
For over a century Coke and Pepsi have been at each other's throats in a constant struggle for a bigger piece of the billion-dollar soda market.A Along the way the companies have picked up a slew of loyalists and fans, adamant that their cola reigns supreme.
Murder suspect tries to steal plane
A SkyWest Airlines pilot suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend stole an empty 50-passenger jet from a small Utah airport, crashed it as he drove near a terminal, then was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said Tuesday.
Glacier breaks off huge iceberg
An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan tore off one of Greenland's largest glaciers, illustrating another dramatic change to the warming island.

Prostitutes' Pole Dances Are Ruining Parking Signs
A New Zealand community is blasting local sex workers they say have bent and snapped 40 signs by dancing on them A booklet released by a local board and endorsed by the mayor of the town of Papatoetoe blames local sex workers for serious damage to more than 40 parking signs in the last year and a half.

Street-corner Science

What happens when you put a Nobel-prize-winning physicist on a street corner and allow anyone to ask him questions? 
  Street-corner Science: Gotta-See Videos

Huge Solar Blasts Spark Rare Aurora Colors

A big storm on the Sun Friday caused solar particle to enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday. The result was amazing auroras visible in unexpected places, and in unusual colors.
Space scientists believe the sunspots flung at least two clouds of charged particles—called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs—toward Earth, setting off the intense auroral display. Northern lights were seen rippling down from the Arctic and dancing into Canada and the United States, with sightings as far south as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Maryland.
See a range of such aurora in pictures at National Geographic News here.

Ancient Hellenistic Harbor Found in Israel

The harbor is the largest and most important found in Israel from this period.
Ancient Hellenistic Harbor Found in Israel

Manhattan-Size Iceberg Breaks Away

The giant ice island is 46 square miles and separated from one of Greenland's largest icebergs.  

Eight Amazing Drowned Buildings

When rivers are rerouted or dammed, or when lakes or reservoirs are built, previously dry land becomes part of the waterway. Most buildings in such places are either torn down or are eventually destroyed by the water, but some large stone edifices survive even under water. See eight of these building that only stick out a little above the surface, or only peek out now and again. Plus a bonus: a formerly drowned church in Venezuela that, due to a severe drought, is now on dry land again. Pictured here is the Church Of Altgraun In Lake Reschen, Italy. More

Google Street View’s Online Tours of the Shackleton’s and Scott’s Antarctic Huts

They're a bit out of the way, but thanks to new panoramas launched by Google Street View today, you too can explore two of the most famous huts in the history of exploration: the Shackleton's hut and the Scott's hut in Antarctica.
With this technology, you can go inside places like Shackleton’s Hut (pictured above) and the other small wooden buildings that served as bases from which the explorers launched their expeditions. They were built to withstand the drastic weather conditions only for the few short years that the explorers inhabited them, but remarkably, after more than a century, the structures are still intact, along with well-preserved examples of the food, medicine, survival gear and equipment used during the expeditions. Now anyone can explore these huts and get insight into how these men lived for months at a time.
View the panoramic imageries of the huts of the South Pole expeditioners over at the project's blog page: here.

The Seven Wonders Of Ukraine

What springs to mind when you think of Ukraine? Since independence in 1991 the second largest country in Europe has been somewhat demonized by elements of the Western European media. It has often been portrayed as something of a cultural backwater with little to recommend it. Here we address that issue by revealing to you the Seven Wonders of Ukraine.

Awesome Pictures

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View by 000-18 on Flickr.

Llamas Assist In The Long Goodbyes Of The Elderly

Alzheimer's and dementia patients incur an end-of-life experience that differs markedly from their care-givers. They traverse in two different worlds which might be parallel, but often don't allow them to connect as they once did. While set schedules and antipsychotic drugs are prescribed my many physicians, the idea of adding fun and animals to one's regimen is relatively new.

In a recent AARP report, one unconventional approach is seeing significant results with some late-stage Alzheimer's patient. 95-year old Laura Damuck who lives at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Massachusetts has come to know the comfort of llama.

Three elephants are flying to California

Pat Derby, co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, has been working for two years to get three 10,000-pound elephants in the air.

Shark Sucks on Fish

This whale shake has learned to suck fish right out of fisherman's nets!

A Cat Has Been Mayor of an Alaskan Town for the Past 15 Years

For fifteen years–almost his entire life–Stubbs the cat has had a lock on the mayoralty of Talkeetna, Alaska:
Fifteen years ago, the citizens of Talkeetna (pop. 800) didn’t like the looks of their candidates for mayor. Around that same time resident Lauri Stec, manager of Nagley’s General Store, saw a box of kittens and decided to adopt one. She named him Stubbs because he didn’t have a tail and soon the whole town was in love with him.
So smitten were they with this kitten, in fact, that they wrote him in for mayor instead of deciding on one of the two lesser candidates. Mayor Stubbs has held his position ever since.
According to local citizens, he’s an effective leader:
Many citizens are genuinely happy to allow a kitteh to rule the roost. “He doesn’t raise our taxes—we have no sales tax. He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest,” said Stec, who converted her store into a part-time mayor’s office when Stubbs claimed victory. Not even the dogs seem to take issue with their new boss, even though there are reportedly more canines in Talkeetna than there are people. “I’ve never seen a dog mess with him,” a local business owner said.

'Crocodile' terrorizing German town turns out to be a beaver

Police in Bavaria ended a week-long crocodile hunt empty-handed on Monday after experts concluded that their prey was probably a harmless beaver after all. A witness prompted a frantic search in and out of the water. Fearing dangers lurking in the depths of the Middle Klausen Lake near Regensburg, police hunted solidly for a week, even sending divers to scout around for signs of exotic reptilian life and a helicopter to check the lake from above.
In reality, the “long-tailed, big-clawed” animal reported by two witnesses was more likely to be a large beaver, the police said on Monday. Hope dwindled when not one of the 3,700 photos taken by camera traps was a mugshot of a “Klausi” the crocodile, as it became to be known. The hunt was called off and the swimming ban lifted after the the only wildlife captured by the four cameras was “foxes, grey herons, dogs and snapped branches, but no crocodile,” said Schwandorf spokesman Lothar Mulzer.

The town's mayor, a town council official and a fireman were recruited to inspect each of the photos. Around 50 police officers, fire fighters, water authority officials and technical volunteers were involved in the operation, which began on Monday morning after a 68-year-old man saw the animal in the reeds while walking his dog on Saturday evening. Officers reasoned that they could imagine someone keeping a crocodile as a pet but setting it free because it had got too big to keep at home.

“Our animal-lovers have everything you can imagine at home, such as highly poisonous snakes. Why not a crocodile?” a spokesman for Regensburg police said last week. “Now peace can return and everyone can go back in the lake,” said Mulzer, keen to sink lingering concern that swimmers might still risk coming face to face with Klausi. If a swimmer were to be attacked by a meter-long croc though, the bite would only be like that of a dachshund, said the town's fire marshal.

Animal Pictures