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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, August 3, 2012

The Daily Drift

Let the truth be known!

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Also we would like to welcome our newest readers from The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Today in History

1347 Six burghers of the surrounded French city of Calais surrender to Edward III of England in hopes of relieving the siege.
1492 Christopher Columbus leaves Spain on his voyage to the new world.
1546 French printer Etienne Dolet, accused of heresy, blasphemy and sedition, is hanged and burned at the stake for printing reformist literature.
1553 Mary Tudor, the new Queen of England, enters London.
1610 Henry Hudson of England discovers a great bay on the east coast of Canada and names it for himself.
1692 French forces under Marshal Luxembourg defeat the English at the Battle of Steenkerke in the Netherlands.
1805 Mohammed Ali becomes the new ruler of Egypt.
1807 The trial of Aaron Burr begins. He is accused of plotting the secession of New England.
1864 Federal gunboats attack but do not capture Fort Gains, at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
1882 Congress passes the Immigration Act, banning Chinese immigration for ten years.
1908 Allan Allensworth files the site plan for the first African-American town, Allensworth, California.
1911 Airplanes are used for the first time in a military capacity when Italian planes reconnoiter Turkish lines near Tripoli.
1914 Germany declares war on France.
1916 Sir Roger Casement is hanged for treason in England.
1945 Chinese troops under American General Joseph Stilwell take the town of Myitkyina from the Japanese.
1958 The first nuclear submarine USS Nautilus passes under the North Pole.
1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson announces plans to send 45,000 more troops to Vietnam.

Blue Moon


Note to waitresses: Wearing red can be profitable

In many restaurants throughout the world, wait staff’s income depends largely on the tips received from customers.
Continue Reading

Where are the US jobs?

Ask the corporate cash hoarders
Not only are mega-companies not creating enough decent jobs with this cash, they continue to offshore work and underpay workers. 

Many are not even rewarding investors  

Corporate tax breaks won't boost the economy. If unemployment is to fall, giant companies must invest in job creation As it does every month, Friday's jobs report is expected to underscore the desperate need for job creation in America.

Wingnut study shows government austerity may be hurting economy

This is not a surprise, but it is interesting that the study is coming out of wingnut-land.

 From HuffPo:
The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, has some data out indicating that cutting government spending may be off-setting private sector growth. That's notable, especially when coming from an organization with the motto "Freedom. Opportunity. Enterprise."

Public sector GDP -- a measure of the goods and services produced by the government -- has shrunk for eight consecutive quarters, according to AEI. At the same time, private sector growth has increased for 12 quarters in a row, indicating that America’s slow overall GDP growth may mostly be a result of a drop in government spending.
Even the Wall Street Journal, owned by repugican propagandist Rupert Murdoch, admits that the end of the stimulus is hurting growth (the repugican party line has been that the stimulus actually "caused" unemployment, which is absurd, but the repugicans tend to pander to its uneducated base, and they've found that the truth doesn't tend to work for them at the ballot box).

Romney spokesman compares releasing his taxes to McCarthyism

Harry Reid says he talked to a source who says Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for an entire decade.  The response from Romney's campaign is classic:
“I’m telling you authoritatively speaking on the behalf of the Governor that those charges are untrue, they are baseless, and there is nothing to back them up,” said Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on Fox News Thursday. Invoking Army lawyer Joseph Welch’s famous exchange with Sen. Joseph McCarthy (r-Wis.), Fehrnstrom asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
Um, first problem, there's also "nothing to back up" the claims that the charges are untrue. So if we use the Romney standard that "nothing to back it up makes its untrue" then the claim from Romney that this is untrue is untrue.

Second, McCarthy, seriously? We're asking to see Romney's back taxes. Something his father had no problem doing. Something he had no problem providing them McCain campaign when he wanted to be VP. But now that he wants to be President, suddenly he refuses and, to top it off, asking Romney to release his taxes is now McCarthyism.

What's next Mitt, asking you to release your taxes is just like September 11? Or will you get Rudy "A noun, a verb, 9/11" to say that one.

A repugican congressman says birth control is just like September 11

So, just to keep things straight, asking Mitt Romney to release his taxes is just like McCarthyism.  And asking insurance companies to cover contraceptives is just like September 11.  (Except thousands of people died on September 11, and no one ever died from birth control, unless you consider 100m sperm people and if so, then you've got other problems.)
What's important about this story is keeping in mind this is a member of Congress. He's from the state, Pennsylvania, where one of the 9/11 planes crashed. And he has the audacity to talk like this.

We've permitted repugicans to move the bar of decency, slowly but surely, again and again. They always get away with it, and by doing so, slowly move the culture further and further to the crazy.

And repugican congressman Mike Kelly is very much what's wrong with the repugican party today. But he's also, sadly, a good sign of what's wrong with our country too.

Romney ignoring a dying man's plea for medical marijuana

Governor Romney dealing with the public in 2007. It's not just that he disagrees with the wheelchair-bound man who spoke with him.
Once he realized the situation the man was in and what he was asking, Romney turned his back as fast as he could. This is the emotional equivalent of sprinting away.

The second half of this short clip is incredibly discomforting. Try watching it twice.

Puts me in mind of this, from Joan Walsh:
But could it be more than entitlement and an odd personal style?

I’ve found myself wondering over the course of the campaign whether Romney has some kind of personality disorder, so dissociated does he occasionally seem from the well-worn routines of normal human interaction.

Maybe we should be asking to see his medical records and not just his tax returns. I don’t mean to be flippant about that or insensitive to any kind of problem he may struggle with. But his struggles are our struggles; he’s running to be our president.

There is something very odd about Mitt Romney.
Many of the very wealthy are inhuman, or at least inhumane. But I'm not sure that Walsh isn't onto something.

Just to be sure, I want to see those medical records, sir. Long form please.

New Olympic Game of … Synchronized Tweeting

USA! USA! USA! Here's a new Olympic sports that Americans will surely dominate for years to come. From the fertile mind of Dan Piraro of Bizarro Comics, here's Synchronized Tweeting: here

Female Olympians

Bad Girl Badminton Olympians Chucked Out

They were allegedly attempting to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage. Read more

Female Olympians Don't Get Endorsement Gold

American companies rarely employ female athletes as spokespeople. Read more
jordyn weiber

Olympics Delayed

TSA Thwarts Kidnappers

A woman whose "friends" turned into her kidnappers was rescued at Miami International Airport by TSA agents, reports CNN.

The woman had traveled to Miami from New Jersey with four friends when it all started to go badly wrong. Two of the women got drunk and started to abuse her, punching her in the face, stealing her valuables and debit card, and withdrawing money on it.

TSA officials noticed the 25-year-old trying to hide her facial injuries and acting fearful at a security checkpoint and asked her several if she was okay, until she broke down and said she was being kidnapped.
"Our officers recognized that the woman was in danger and acted immediately to protect her," CNN reported Mark Hatfield, the TSA's federal security director for Miami International Airport, as saying.

The two women -- Tori Beato, 19, of Secaucus, N.J., and Melissa Pineiro, 25, of North Bergen, N.J. -- were arrested.  
Now that's a switch - but then again criminals have always detested competition.

Scientology's "Hole"

Torture-camp for high-ranking execs who fell out of favor 
The Village Voice has a haunting, well-sourced account of "The Hole," where upper echelon Scientologists who have fallen into bad odor with the group's leader are imprisoned under inhumane conditions and tortured.
Debbie Cook was in for only 7 weeks in 2007, but her experience was brutal. She testified that Miscavige had two hulking guards climb into her office through a window as she was talking to him on the phone. "Goodbye" he told her as she was hauled off to the gulag. Like Rinder, she described a place where dozens of men and women were confined to what had been a set of offices. Cook testified that the place was ant-infested, and during one two-week stretch in the summer with temperatures over 100 degrees, Miscavige had the air conditioning turned off as punishment. Food was brought up in a vat riding on a golf cart. Cook described it as a barely edible "slop" that was fed to them morning, noon, and night. Longtime residents of the Hole began to look gaunt.
They had to find places on the floor or on desks to sleep at night. Rinder said there were so many of them they slept only inches from each other, and having to get up in the middle of the night was a nightmare of stepping over sleeping figures in the dark.
In the morning, they were marched out of the offices and through a tunnel under Gilman Springs Road to a large building with communal showers. They were then marched back to the Hole, and during the day would be compelled to take part in mass confessions.
During these, Rinder says people he had considered friends would put on a show for the officials overseeing them, trying to outdo each other with vile accusations against each other. Cook testified that Miscavige wanted Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre, two of his longest-serving and highest-ranking officials, to confess to having a homosexual affair. The men were beaten until they made some forced admissions. When Cook objected to what was happening, she herself was made to stand in a trash can for twelve hours while insults were hurled at her, she was called a lesbian, and water was dumped on her head.
Scientology's Concentration Camp for Its Executives: The Prisoners, Past and Present

Tornado snapshot from 1943

This is a photo of a tornado that hit the Cavalry Replacement Training Center at Fort Riley, Kansas, on May 15, 1943 at 3pm.
"It did $175,000 in damage, destroying 41 buildings. It took 400 carpenters, working around the clock one week to rebuild the buildings. Two were killed and 200 injured."

Immigrants: What Surprised You About America?

The (fantastic, btw) radio show This American Life recently featured a story about America looks to immigrants who recently moved to the United States. In that story, Mary Wiltenburg asked refugees about the image of America they had in mind and the rumor they heard before setting foot in the country, and how that image compared with reality.
In this follow up thread at Quora, immigrants and visitors are asked to relate facts about the United States they did not believe until they come to America.
The answers are fascinating, as Max Fisher of The Atlantic summarizes:
How do they get everyone to obey traffic laws?: Quoting cab drivers is sometimes considered the epitome of lazy journalism, but there is one trend I've found in talking to foreign-born cabbies working in the U.S. and to foreign-based taxi drivers who've visited the U.S.: amazement at how devoutly American drivers follow the rules of the road. Compared to the U.S., driving in many developing world cities can feel like organized chaos, with motorists ignoring not just stoplights and speed signs but lane markers and even the direction of traffic. If you go to Cairo and rent a car (side note: don't rent a car in Cairo), you're obligated to follow the standard every-man-for-himself style if you want to get anywhere; drive like you're back in the U.S. and you'll never leave the parking lot. The miracle of American roads, as outsiders have described it to me, is that it only really works if everyone follows the written rules and unwritten norms alike, and they do.
Nothing like what I saw on Friends: The U.S. is about as famous as a country can get. People around the world experience it through the American films and TV shows that dominate global entertainment. But those media portrayals can sometimes add more confusion than they dispel. A Chinese friend once insisted that of course 20-something Americans all get news boyfriends and girlfriends every single week: she'd seen it on Friends, and Seinfeld, and Sex and the City, and a half dozen other TV shows. They couldn't all be lying.
Read more over at The Atlantic: here

Spain arrests 3 al-Qaida suspects

Police have arrested three suspected members of al-Qaida who had amassed explosives and may have been plotting attacks in Europe, Spain's interior minister said Thursday.

Dumb Crook News

Inept Robbery Mistaken for Joke
Police say an Alabama man robbed the restaurant where he worked right after he clocked out, to his coworkers' disbelief - then returned three days later to visit with coworkers just as detectives were questioning them about the crime, The Birmingham News reported .

 Bleach put into dialysis machines
A judge has set a $525,000 bond for a man who authorities say poured bleach into the water tanks used for kidney dialysis machines as revenge against his employer.

Police Officer Couldn’t Find Himself for Eviction Notice

Lithonia Police Chief Washington Varnum, Jr. is fighting to keep his job, although the city of Lithonia, Georgia, found out his credentials had been revoked for an incident in his past position in the DeKalb County Sheriff’s department. That was the time he was supposed to serve an eviction notice on himself.
“He basically provided a sworn statement to the courts that he himself could not be found,” said Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) spokesman Ryan Powell.
Varnum was living at the Les Jardins apartment complex and working as a DeKalb County Deputy Marshal when, he said, a co-worker asked him to serve a stack of eviction notices at the complex.
Varnum told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer that he noticed his name was at the top of one of the notices, but he did not serve any of them. He instead checked the box which read, “Defendant not found in the jurisdiction of this court,” and hand-wrote underneath, “All breezeways must be properly marked with the unit numbers for service.”
The option chosen is a technicality used when officers cannot find a certain address, but the marshal’s office has a policy that deputies cannot be an interested party in papers they’re serving.
“Well, it’s an honesty issue. You could argue that it’s a violation of the law. So, POST takes those issues very seriously,” said Powell.
The POST Council voted to revoke Varnum’s police certification in December 2010, citing unprofessional or deceptive conduct and bad moral character.
Varnum’s defense is that he showed no partiality and treated his own eviction notice the same way he treated all the others in the stack. By ignoring them. Varnum resigned from his job while under investigation in 2010, and was hired by the city of Lithonia -and promoted to police chief- since the incident. More

Teddy bears bring down 2 Belarus generals

Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has sacked two of the nation's top defense officials after two Swedish advertising agency employees piloted a light plane into the country's heavily guarded airspace, dropping 879 teddy bears decked out in parachutes and slogans supporting human rights.


The Science of History?
If history repeats itself, you can blame cliodynamics. The so-called "science of history" is created by Peter Turchin, who specializes in population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs:
For the past 15 years, Turchin has been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator–prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and applying them to human history. He has analysed historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence in the United States, and has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way1. The peak should occur in about 2020, he says, and will probably be at least as high as the one in around 1970. “I hope it won't be as bad as 1870,” he adds.
Turchin's approach — which he calls cliodynamics after Clio, the ancient Greek muse of history — is part of a groundswell of efforts to apply scientific methods to history by identifying and modelling the broad social forces that Turchin and his colleagues say shape all human societies. It is an attempt to show that “history is not 'just one damn thing after another'”, says Turchin, paraphrasing a saying often attributed to the late British historian Arnold Toynbee.
Historians, on the other hand, are not amused: More

Why Females Live Longer Than Males

The Mother’s Curse
Why do females usually live longer than males? Science may have the answer, dubbed the "Mother's Curse" hypothesis:
The loophole lies in the mitochondria, the energy-generating parts of our cells. The mitochondria have their own DNA, separate from the DNA that resides in the nucleus of the cell that we usually think of when we think of the genome. In almost all species, the mitochondria DNA is passed down solely from mother to child, without input from dad.
This direct line of inheritance may allow harmful mutations to accumulate, according to a new study detailed today (Aug. 2) in the journal Current Biology. Ordinarily, natural selection helps keep harmful mutations to a minimum by ensuring they're not passed down to offspring. But if a mitochondrial DNA mutation is dangerous only to males and doesn't harm females, there's nothing to stop mom from passing it to her daughters and sons.
"If a mitochondrial mutation pops up that is benign in females, or a mutation pops up that is beneficial to females, this mutation will slip through the gates of natural selection and go through to the next generation," said study researcher Damian Dowling, an evolutionary biologist at Monash Univeristy in Australia.
The result: a load of mutations that don't harm females, but add up to a shorter life span for males.

Healthier Fast Food in New York City

New York City now has hard evidence that its ban on trans fat in restaurant food made a meaningful dent in people's consumption of the artery clogger and wasn't just replaced with another bad fat.

How Hot Is It?

It’s so hot, the streetlights are melting in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  

Climate change the cause of recent extreme weather, scientists tell congress

And of course, the far-right nuts running the repugican party just had to weigh in.
In one of the liveliest exchanges, Bernie Sanders of Vermont continued his effort to take down Inhofe for his statements that climate change is a hoax and a conspiracy.

Sanders asked the scientists on the panel for their opinions on some of Inhofe's more notorious assertions – that climate change is a hoax, that the planet is actually in a state of cooling, and that such environmental concerns were a conspiracy by the UN, Al Gore, and Hollywood.

The scientists did not support Inhofe's claims.
And we all know who the repugicans really mean when they say "Hollywood." That would be the folks Mitt Romney admires for their innate ability at "business."  And their horns.

Indian Blackout: Three Inconvenient Truths

Indian energy blackouts bad, but global perspective more serious for three 'inconvenient truths'?

Dead Zone Down: Thank You Drought For Something!

The drought that is parching the Midwest is allowing the Gulf of Mexico to take a breath of fresh air. Read more
  Dead Zone Down: Thank You Drought For Something!

World's Northernmost Coral Reef Discovered

The species and seascape in this newly found northern coral reef are completely different from tropical reefs.
 coral reef off Japan

Continental Drift, Hollywood Style

'Ice Age: Continental Drift' plays homage to the supercontinent Pangea, plate tectonics and the draining of North America's late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. Three cheers for geology!
  Continental Drift, Hollywood Style

Billionaire Reportedly Planning Real “Jurassic Park"

Clive Palmer, an Australian billionaire, is reportedly planning to clone dinosaurs like in the movie Jurassic Park. Sunshine Coast Daily reports that Palmer, who owns a mining company and is worth over $8 billion, is reportedly working with the team that cloned Dolly the sheep. Palmer allegedly wants to keep the cloned dinosaur at his Palmer Resort in Coolum, Australia.
He is currently building a replica of the Titanic, which will be finished in 2016.

Twenty Incredible Coconut Crab Photos

The coconut crab is the world’s largest land arthropod. If you don’t believe me, see this pictorial evidence that may haunt your dreams or delight your eyes at Environmental Graffiti.

Orphaned wombat and baby kangaroo become best friends and share same pouch

They are unlikely friends, but orphaned animals Anzac the joey and Peggy, the wombat have become best mates.

At just over five months old, Anzac was taken to the Wild about Wildlife Kilmore Rescue Centre in Australia after he was rescued in the Macedon Ranges.

Missing his mum, Anzac was placed with Peggy, the wombat, and the two now sleep together in the same pouch. Lisa Milligan, from the Wild about Wildlife Kilmore facility, said the unlikely friends were comforted by each other's movement and heartbeat.

"There are lots of baby animals about at the moment, and they are orphaned for a range of reasons," Ms Milligan said. She said the babies were developing their own personalities; Anzac was very social while Peggy was boisterous and cheeky.

Men floating Alaska river save drowning bear

The Peninsula Clarion reports that Dustin Klepacki was floating the Kenai River with his father and their friend last weekend when they came upon the bear cub drowning in a whirlpool.

Deep Sea Squid Detaches Tentacles to Attack

You've probably heard that lizards can lose their tail to escape from predators. Turns out, losing one's appendage is also a tactic employed by the deep sea squid Octopoteuthis deletron. Except that it's not just for a defensive measure:
The obvious interpretation is that the squid jettisons its body parts to confuse and distract a predator. But it can also use this ability offensively. When [scientists Stephanie Bush] threatened the animals with a bottle brush, several of them attacked it. Five of them broke off their arms while they were grabbing the brush. The arms flashed away while continuing to hold their grip, while the squids jetted off. It’s called “attack autotomy”. I imagine it would be quite off-putting if you were a fish or a bottle brush.
Read more and watch the video clip over at Ed Yong's Not Exactly Rocket Science blog: here

Vengeful bull gores man to death, follows him to hospital, then turns up at his funeral

A bull bided its time and gored an Indian man to death when an opportunity came a day after the latter had thrown hot water on it. The bull followed the man when he was being taken to a hospital and later appeared at the crematorium during his funeral in little-known Deori Township in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh.
The bull apparently kept a watch on frail Bhoop Narayan Prajapati, 65, and attacked him when he was having his morning tea, a day after he had thrown hot water on it for sitting in front of his hut. Prajapati ran inside his thatched hut to escape, but the bull followed him, pushed him to the ground twice and gored him. Neighbors, Bhura Khan and Nikhil Soni, came to the rescue of Prajapati. They hit the bull with sticks to scare it away.

When the bull was out of sight, they rushed the him to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. He died due to internal injuries to his stomach and chest. Much to people's surprise, the bull arrived at the hospital following Prajapati. Deepak Chourasia, a town-dweller, said that when the remains of Prajapati were being consigned to flames the bull again sprang a surprise by arriving at the crematorium. Prajapati's house is very close to the hospital and the crematorium is less than half-a-kilometer away, Chourasia added.

There is history between Prajapati and the bull. Six months ago, the bull had attacked him after he hit the animal with a stick. Prajapati was at that time admitted to a hospital where he stayed for more than a month due to leg injury, Deori police station inspector R P Sharmasaid. "I have also come to know during investigations in the case that the bull followed Prajapati to the hospital and the crematorium. It's something strange and surprising," Sharma said. "We are going to write a letter to the civic body to put this bull in a government shelter," the inspector added.

Dead humpback whale found in Sydney swimming pool

A dead humpback whale washed up in a Sydney ocean pool early on Wednesday, surprising morning swimmers and causing a major headache for rescuers who must now remove it. The 38 foot young adult humpback, which appeared to have been dead for several days, washed up at Newport beach's ocean baths overnight as rough seas lashed parts of Australia's east coast. Ocean baths are open-air man-made structures on the edge of the beach filled with sea water.

"It does have some external injuries but there's no way of knowing whether they were anti-mortem or post-mortem," said Wendy McFarlane from the Organization for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA). McFarlane said one possible explanation for the otherwise seemingly healthy animal, estimated to be about 25 to 30 tonnes, to die at sea could be that it had been struck by a ship.

Newport beach, which is north of Sydney city, was closed because of the risk of sharks being attracted to the carcass as wildlife experts mulled their best options to remove the giant creature. McFarlane said one option could be to demolish the pool wall and let the animal wash up on the beach. Another solution could be to pull it out to sea at high tide, or bring in an excavator to lift it over the damaged pool wall at low tide.

YouTube link.

Whales are often seen off Australia's coast in June and July as they make their annual winter migration from Antarctica up to the warmer waters off Queensland state, and again as they return before November. National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Chris Grudhoff said while a dead animal was unfortunate, it signalled there were increasing numbers of whales in the waters off Australia. "The upside of the fact that we are seeing more dead whales is that it indicates that we have a whole healthy population out there in the ocean," he said.

Limited cave access extended to fight bat disease

An order restricting access to caves and old mines on national forest and grasslands in five states is being extended, so that a bat-killing fungus won't spread.

New Jersey Man Finds 10-Foot Pythons in Yard Twice in 4 Days

Summer vacation has been anything but routine for a New York City social studies teacher who lives in northern New Jersey.
James Geist has spotted pythons twice within days in his West Milford yard. Geist was reading on his deck when he thought he saw a branch move on July 23. He soon realized it was a snake.

Lost fur seal shows up on Hawaii beach

A seal that would normally live in waters around the Aleutian Islands and California has shown up thousands of miles away on a beach in Hawaii, officials said Wednesday.

Animal Pictures