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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.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Daily Drift


Some of our readers today have been in:
Khulna, Bangladesh
Cape Town South Arfica
Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Manila, Philippines
Bandar Labuan, Malaysia
Belgrade, Serbia
Kuantan, Malaysia
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Hamburg, Germany
Lviv, Ukraine
Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Gdansk, Poland
Kiev, Ukraine
Bogota, Colombia
Kinshasa, Congo
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Bangkok, Thailand
Encarnacion, Paraguay

As well as  Lewes, Palatine, Ronkonkoma, Sealy and Winnetka in the USA

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1265   King Henry III puts down a revolt of English barons lead by Simon de Montfort.
1578   A crusade against the Moors of Morocco is routed at the Battle of Alcazar-el-Kebir. King Sebastian of Portugal and 8,000 of his soldiers are killed.
1717   A friendship treaty is signed between France and Russia.
1789   The Constituent Assembly in France abolishes the privileges of nobility.
1790   The Revenue Cutter service, the parent service of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, is organized.
1864   Federal troops fail to capture Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, one of the Confederate forts defending Mobile Bay.
1875   The first Convention of Colored Newspapermen is held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1879   A law is passed in Germany making Alsace Lorraine a territory of the empire.
1914   Germany invades Belgium causing Great Britain to declare war on Germany.
1942   The British government charges that Mohandas Gandhi and his All-Indian Congress Party favor "appeasement" with Japan.
1944   RAF pilot T. D. Dean becomes the first pilot to destroy a V-1 buzz bomb when he tips the pilotless craft's wing, sending it off course.
1952   Helicopters from the U.S. Air Force Air Rescue Service land in Germany, completing the first transatlantic flight by helicopter in 51 hours and 55 minutes of flight time.
1964   The U.S.S. Maddox and Turner Joy exchange fire with North Vietnamese patrol boats.

Non Sequitur


UFO Sighted Over Olympics?

A UFO was sighted during the opening ceremony at the London Olympics. 
What was it?  
  UFO Sighted Over Olympics?

The 6 Worst Scandals In Olympic History

If you follow the Olympic Games in London you've probably heard about those women's badminton games that were thrown - first by a Chinese pair and then by three others from South Korea and Indonesia, leading to the disqualification of all eight players.

But it was far from the first scandal to hit the Olympics in recent history. Here is a brief tour through six of the most scandalous.

Belarus expels Sweden ambassador

President Lukashenko is said to be furious over a pro-democracy stunt by a Swedish PR firm last month The move comes a month after a Swedish PR firm dropped hundreds of teddy bears over Belarus in a pro-democracy stunt.

Long before CEO's douchey gay marriage comments, Chick-Fil-A were jerks to workers

In Salon, an article about series of lawsuits against Chick-Fil-A by former employees who claim managers "have wielded their authority over workers in ways that break the law: firing a Muslim for refusing to pray to Jesus; firing a manager so that she’d become a stay at home mom; and punishing workers for objecting to sexual harassment." In one incident, a supervisor is alleged to have phoned immigration authorities to have immigrant workers deported as punishment for complaining about sexual harassment.

Did you know ...

The top three myths wingnuts use to oppose raising the minimum raise

About the invasion of the drug cartels: the map

That the TSA wastes your money

That support for pot legalization is higher than ever

That Occupy Our Homes Minnesota stops b of a foreclosure on a house

A Koch-funded study says global warming is real

About reproductive rights on Battlestar Galactica

That they have finally engineered the perfect bagel

Congress Passes Restrictions On Military Funeral Protests

Delivers Blow To Westboro Baptist Cult
 Veterans Bill
Westboro Baptist Cult agitators will soon be severely limited in their ability to disrupt military funerals, after Congress passed a sweeping veterans bill this week that includes restrictions on such demonstrations.

Romney unfavorables remain high, increasing

Currently, slightly more voters have a favorable (50%) than unfavorable (45%) opinion of Barack Obama. Though there are still more than three months to go before the election, Obama’s current favorability ratings compare poorly with the final pre-election ratings for previous Democratic candidates. Not since Michael Dukakis in 1988 has a Democratic candidate gone into the election with favorability ratings as low as Obama’s are today.
Romney faces a more daunting challenge, as more voters say they have an unfavorable (52%) than favorable (37%) opinion of him. The only prior presidential candidates to be viewed negatively going into the election were George H.W. Bush in October 1992 and Bob Dole in October 1996.

The truth hurts

To Err is Human, To Really Foul Things Up Requires a Computer

Trading Firm Lost $440 Million in 45 Minutes Due to Software Bug
It's been a bad week for Knight Capital Group, a New Jersey brokerage that has been an unapologetic advocate for automated electronic trading when a software bug caused it to lose $440 million in just 45 minutes. That's a lost of about $10 million per minute, or $160,000 a second!
The high-speed trading arms race being waged on Wall Street has finally claimed its first major casualty.
Knight Capital Group, a brokerage that handles nearly 11% of all stock trading in U.S. companies, is in danger of collapsing after a software glitch triggered millions of unintended orders. The New Jersey firm lost $440 million in less than an hour — nearly four times the company's profit last year.
The blunder, which Knight's chief executive said on television was "a bug, a large bug" in its computer systems, caused Wall Street to shudder.
This, of course, reminds me of the funny saying "To err is human, to really foul things up requires a computer."

Isn't it Ironic

Mitt Romney says 'put up or shut up' on tax allegations, but Harry Reid won't back down


Them’s fightin’ words!

Mitt Romney told Sen. Harry Reid to “put up or shut up” about his claims the repugican candidate didn’t pay taxes, prompting the top Senate Democrat to issue a statement saying he got the allegations from “an extremely credible source.”

Want to know why we're broke?

Want to know why we're broke?

The truth be told

The Library of Congress welcomes our new galactic overlords

The Library of Congress has an official standard for abbreviations of different languages. It's a long list, because, well, there are lots and lots of languages that might be mentioned in the Library of Congress. In fact, the standard is so thorough that it includes Klingon.

Five things you may not know about Mars

Mars is set to get its latest visitor Sunday night when NASA's new robotic rover, named Curiosity, attempts to land there.

Almost 5,000 Flip Flops Wash Ashore On Chili Beach

In an epic display of environmental cleanup, volunteers gathered almost 5,000 flip flops (thongs to Australians) that had washed up on the shore of Cape York’s Chili Beach in Queensland.
It took marine conservation group Tangaroa Blue Foundation nearly a week to clean up the entire beach, and flip flops weren’t the only things gathered, although from the look of the photos they make up the overwhelming majority of the mess.
I’m pretty sure a similar pile could be found on most beaches here in California. I wonder how many complete pairs were found?

Global warming catastrophe

Island nation swallowed whole by the sea
The sinking nation of Kiribati is preparing for a mass evacuation to Fiji
Fox Van Allen
Global warming catastrophe: Island nation swallowed whole by the sea
Scientists have warned for years about the dangers of global warming, raising the grim specter of rising sea levels and cities being swallowed by the ocean. It all seemed more like a Hollywood movie plot than reality. But for residents of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, global warming is a terrifying real problem: Their entire country is about to be submerged under water.

At this point, the only workable solution seems to be to abandon the island entirely. That is why the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, is in desperate negotiations with the country of Fiji to find his nation a new, higher elevation home.

The ambitious plan, according to Tong, calls for a slow integration of his people into Fiji to reduce the impact on the Fijian people. An initial wave would send only skilled workers to Fiji. Subsequent waves of immigration would bring the rest of the nation's population, estimated to be just north of 110,000.

Already, the ocean has claimed a number of Kiribati's atolls, and much of the nation's agriculture and fresh water reserves have been ruined by invading salt water. Villages have been abandoned, and it is believed that the nation will soon be uninhabitable.

Kiribati, a sovereign nation recognized by the U.N., is considered to be one of the most sensitive to climate change and rising sea levels. The average elevation of the island is about 6 feet above sea level.

This lost continent off the coast of Scotland disappeared beneath the ocean 55 million years ago

This lost continent off the coast of Scotland disappeared beneath the ocean 55 million years ago
This week, a group of geologists report that they've found a lost continent off the coast of Scotland. 55 million years ago, about 10 million years after dinosaurs died out, a chunk of the seafloor erupted from beneath the water. It created a small continent that existed for at least a million years, covered in dramatic mountains and valleys, and irrigated with streaming rivers. Eventually the landscape sank back beneath the waves, its once-sunny mountains buried beneath 2 kilometers of seabed.

How did this happen? The answer reveals that our planet is even more dangerous and magnificent than we knew.

In Nature Geoscience, Earth scientist Ross A. Hartley and colleagues describe their discovery, and offer some theories about how an entire continent could rise and fall in a million years — a brief moment in geological time. Above, you can see the image they created of part of the continent, including its coastline and a mountain whose slopes were deeply cut by rivers.

Hartley and his team: "This image was constructed from sound waves which are bounced off different rock layers at depth. An ancient meandering riverbed can easily be seen."

They found this lost continent after using sound waves to map a volume of 10,000 square kilometers on the northwest continental shelf of Europe. Based on the weathering of rocks the researchers studied beneath the waves, it's clear that a huge chunk of the seafloor was once above water, being eroded by wind and sun. th21 300 io9 thermal anomalySo how did it happen? Hartley and colleagues suggest that this continent rose out of the water on what some geologists call a "thermal anomaly," and others call a "mantle plume." You could also call it a giant explosion inside the Earth. Basically, as you can see in the image at left, superheated rock in the Earth's mantle (near the core of the planet) can sometimes create giant plumes of heat that push to the surface of the planet. When this happens, radical disruptions can occur, such as huge chunks of the seafloor rising suddenly above the surface of the ocean. And that's what probably created this short-lived landmass.

This is the sort of thing that could only happen on Earth. Our planet has the unique feature of being both hard and soft at the same time: On the surface of Earth, we have several vast chunks of hard crust, the continental plates, floating atop a rapidly-churning layer of superheated liquid rock. And sometimes, the superheated liquid rock spurts up out of cracks between the hard crusts, creating your thermal anomalies, volcanoes, and other disaster movie scenarios.

But this mystery continent was part of a disaster even bigger than a giant volcano. It appeared during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or the most recent period of global warming in Earth's history. It was a time possibly much like ours, when the atmosphere was full of carbon and the temperature was going up. Scientists have long wondered what caused this ancient period of global warming, and this thermal anomaly may help answer that question.

th21 300 icelandic plume io9Here you can see a map of the Icelandic Plume, which is probably what set this weird geological story in motion. Commenting on the discovery of the lost continent, Earth scientist Phillip A. Allen explains how it could be connected to global warming:
Intriguingly, the timing of formation of the ancient landscape west of the Orkney-Shetland Islands coincides with a global climatic event known as the Palaeocene Eocene Thermal Maximum - a period of rapid and extreme global warming. Triggers of this climatic event are unclear, but could be linked to the release of large quantities of methane stored in sediments on the sea bed. Uplift of the sea bed would have caused the methane stored in the ocean floor to become unstable, triggering its release into the atmosphere. Pulses of hot mantle rising up in the Iceland mantle plume therefore provide a viable mechanism to elevate the sea floor at this time. Furthermore, about 33-34 million years ago, the climate suddenly cooled causing the planet to undergo a transition from a greenhouse to an icehouse world. This climatic change has been linked to periods when activity in the Iceland plume was suppressed, causing the sea bed between Iceland and Greenland to subside.

In other words, this thermal anomaly sent a plume of superheated rock to the Earth's surface, warming the waters and thawing the methane beneath them. Our lost continent rose to the surface as greenhouse gases filled the atmosphere, making the birth of this landmass into a veritable environmental apocalypse.

Scientists are trying to understand when such an event might happen again, and what we can learn from it that might help us deal with climate change today. Meanwhile, I wait for the disaster movie version of this scenario from Earth's past, which will hopefully include references to Atlantis and ancient alien civilizations.

Read the full scientific paper

A Dozen Amazing Pictures Of Lava Tubes Around The World

Lava tubes are natural conduits through which lava travels beneath the surface of a lava flow. Typically they are expelled by a volcano during an eruption and can be actively draining lava from a source; or they can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased and the rock has cooled and left a long, cave-like channel.

Here is a gallery of beautiful lava tubes around the world along with some interesting images of various formations within lava tubes such as lavacicles and lava pillars. When viewing, try to imagine a time when lava was flowing through these remarkable tubes.

Random Celebrity Photo

Greta Garbo

CDC issues warning about swine flu at fairs

It's the season for state and county fairs, and health officials are reminding fairgoers to be careful around pigs because of a new flu spreading from the animals to people.

Number of U.S. farmers markets grows

Ching Thao, of Mao's Farm, center, gives change to Richard Wolk, right, at the Vineyard Farmers Market in Fresno, Calif.

Toy butcher shop from 1840

 Articles Wp-Content Uploads 2012 08 Newbutchershop Top2
This is an 1840 butcher shop model. Note the exquisite detail down to the sawdust and blood on the floor. Such items weren't uncommon and were sold as promotional displays for shops or, yes, as child play-sets.

From Collectors Weekly:
As doll houses—which also started out as toys for adults—were being manufactured for children around the late 19th century, so were small-scale places of commerce, such as the butcher’s. These toy shops allowed kids to mimic adults and learn about money and food, just as supermarket playlets do today. The toy animal flesh, Wood says, wouldn’t have been shocking, because this is how meat was presented and bought and, with limited methods of refrigeration, children would have been used to seeing preserved cuts of meat hanging up. What we do know is that Victorians documented their entire world in miniature. According to (Robert Culff, author of The World of Toys), elaborate and accurate little replicas were modeled for every store in town: the draper, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, the baker, the milliner’s full of bonnets and hat boxes, and the sweet shop featuring “uncertainly balanced scales, jars of hundreds-and-thousands [a.k.a. sprinkles] and cachou lozenges in little tins smelling of ghostly roses and violets.”

Mayans may have used chocolate as spice

Archaeologists have discovered traces of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

Three Historical Food Fights

Any group of malcontents can dress up like American Indians and toss tea into a harbor to protest unfair taxation. But how many armies have actually mobilized over food? Real food—as in, “Leggo my Eggo … or I’ll send in the troops!” The answer? Not that many. Nevertheless, here are a few of history’s greatest culinary-based conflicts.
First Course: The Bovine Brouhaha
Grab a fork and a knife (and a rifle, if you’ve got one). First up on the menu is The Grattan Massacre, a bloody clash between American Indians and U.S. troops that played out in 1854 in the Nebraska Territory, just east of what is now Laramie, Wyoming.
If you thought Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was bad news, consider what the cow that wandered away from a Mormon pioneer train on the Oregon Trail started. The rabble-rousing bovine clomped its way into a camp inhabited by the Lakota Indians, one of seven tribes that made up the Great Sioux Nation. Not being ones to turn down a free lunch, the Lakota promptly killed the presumably abandoned cow and ate it.
That might not seem like a big deal, but in the mid-1800s, few peace pipes were being passed between American Indians and new settlers. So, when the cattle owner realized the fate his cow had met, he immediately went to tattle his tale at the Territory’s nearest outpost of officialdom, Fort Laramie. In response to the incident, U.S. officials dispatched an eager young second lieutenant and recent West Point graduate named John L. Grattan to bring the cow thieves to justice.
What happened next underscores the downside of history’s insistence on naming events only after they happen. Had John L. Grattan known he was riding off to The Grattan Massacre, it seems likely he might have conducted himself more civilly with the Sioux. Instead, Grattan’s approach would later prompt a fellow Fort Laramie officer to comment, “There is no doubt that Lt. Grattan left this post with a desire to have a fight with the Indians, and that he had determined to take the man at all hazards.”
Conquering Bear
With nearly 30 men in tow, Grattan met with the Brule Lakota chief, Conquering Bear, and demanded the surrender of the guilty parties. By most accounts, Conquering Bear was open and reasonable during the negotiations, and it was Grattan’s behavior that escalated tensions. At some point, Conquering Bear stood up, and nervous U.S. soldiers—thinking the chief was making a move—opened fire, killing Bear and his brother. Warfare quickly broke out on both sides, and Grattan’s entire party perished.
When news of the event reached the U.S. War Department, officials sought swift revenge on the Sioux. A little more than a year after the Grattan Massacre, on September 3, 1855, General William S. Harney and roughly 600 soldiers caught up with the Lakota tribe. Harney ordered his men to open fire, and nearly 100 Lakota men, women, and children were shot dead in what became known as the Battle of Ash Hollow. (Apparently, 30 Army men being killed equals a massacre, while 100 Sioux being killed equals a battle. Ain’t history grand?)
Second Course: The Breadfruit Battle Royale
History often depicts the infamous mutiny on the Bounty as a power struggle between Captain William Bligh and his crew. But it wasn’t about that at all. It was about breadfruit.

On August 16, 1787, 33-year-old Lieutenant William Bligh was named commander of the Bounty. Two months later, the ship was commissioned to sail to Tahiti, pick up some breadfruit plants, and deliver them to the West Indies, where it was hoped they would provide a cheap food source for slaves. It was a simple shopping trip, but one that seemed to go awry almost immediately. Weather conditions around Cape Horn were so bad that the Bounty was forced to detour across the Indian Ocean, prolonging the journey nearly 10 months. Once the ship finally arrived in Tahiti, the dastardly breadfruit were no longer in season. Bligh and his crew had no choice but to hang out there for five months and await the harvest. Of course, there are worse places to get stuck than Tahiti, and the boys of the Bounty took full advantage of the delay. Bligh allowed his men to live onshore, where they tended the breadfruit plants and “mingled” with the native ladies. Needless to say, discipline lapsed, and when it came time to set sail again, much sulking occurred.
Once more aboard the Bounty, the crew became further upset when they discovered how much room the breadfruit required. The ship carried some 1,015 potted plants in a large cabin beneath the deck, creating crowded conditions that caused an already percolating situation to boil over. On April 28, 1789, Bounty mate Fletcher Christian and nine supporters staged a mutiny.
Although bloodless, the incident was far from friendly. Bligh and 18 others were forced into a tiny 23-foot launch boat and abandoned at sea. The group first landed at nearby Tofua, but the island’s inhabitants didn’t take kindly to strangers. One of Bligh’s launchmates was stoned to death by natives, and the exhausted band had to set sail again on May 2. Making like MacGyver, Bligh captained the launch through a harrowing 43-day, 3,600-mile voyage to Timor using only a sextant and a pocketwatch. There, they finally found safe harbor.
Bligh and crew eventually made their way back to England and reported the mutiny on March 16, 1790. Eight months later, the Pandora sailed to Tahiti to find the mutineers and the Bounty (a pursuit that supposedly spawned the term “bounty hunting”). Unfortunately, that mission didn’t go so well, either. After the ship’s crew rounded up 14 stragglers from the Bounty and imprisoned them in a cell (cleverly named “Pandora’s Box”) on the top deck of the ship, the ill-fated Pandora sank on the Great Barrier Reef.
Bligh was eventually tried and acquitted for losing his ship, and he went back to work. In 1791, he received another commission—to collect breadfruit plants. This time, he succeeded in bringing the fruit to the West Indies, but—irony of ironies—the slaves didn’t like the taste and refused to have anything to do with them. Today, breadfruit growers of the world unanimously consider this the funniest thing ever to happen.
Third Course: Fishy Fisticuffs
Icelandic Cod
At first blush, cod don’t seem like provocative creatures. And yet, these bulbous, fleshy fish have brought NATO allies Iceland and Great Britain to the brink of war no fewer than three times in the past 50 years. Unimaginatively, these incidents are popularly known as The Cod Wars.
The root of the problem in all these tiffs has been Iceland’s enormous surplus of nothingness. The frosty island nation has no real fuel, minerals, or agricultural prospects. What they do have is the world’s oldest functioning legislative assembly—the Althing, first convened in 930. But, as anyone who’s tried to eat or sell a functioning legislative assembly will tell you, they bring little to the party. With nowhere to turn but offshore, Iceland turned to fish. In fact, it’s estimated that fish and fish products have long accounted for more than 90 percent of the country’s exports.
The first two Cod Wars (one in 1958 and the other from 1972 to 1973) were sparked when Iceland unilaterally decided to expand its fishing boundaries, arguing that it should be allowed to cordon off any areas deemed fit to protect its chief resource. Great Britain’s counterargument was, in essence, “Hey, we like fish too!” Ultimately, these “wars” were about as mild as cod itself, consisting mostly of threats, net cutting, and lots and lots of salty language.

A ramming incident during the Third Cod War.
The third Cod War, however, got a bit nasty. In 1975, Iceland deployed 16 ships to enforce control over its fishing territories. In response, Britain floated its own armada of nearly 40 vessels to the area to protect its trawlers as they continued to fish the contested waters. All the while, shootings, sabotage, and rammings were had by all. After seven months of skirmishes, Iceland finally got so bent out of shape it threatened to close its NATO base at Keflavik—a measure that would have compromised NATO’s ability to defend the Atlantic from Soviet incursion. That’s when NATO Secretary General Dr. Joseph Luns stepped in. On June 2, 1976, he brokered an agreement between the nations that limited the British fishing fleet to 24 ships and granted Iceland the right to halt and inspect British trawlers suspected of violating the agreement. In response, the British threatened an embargo on all Icelandic goods, but then remembered there were no Icelandic goods to embargo. Then they all had tea.

Kuldiga: the Latvian city that managed to preserve ancient architecture

Kuldiga is a city in the west of Latvia, its population is 13 thousand citizens. It was founded in 1242 not far from Riga. As opposed to many other Latvian cities the center of Kuldiga avoided destructions during the numerous wars and fires. Here was preserved the original wood architecture, some of the houses are dated the XVI-XVII centuries. More

Paleolithic "Lion Man" Statue

"On August 25, 1939, archaeologists working at a Paleolithic site called Stadelhole (“stable cave”) at Hohlenstein (“hollow rock”) in southern Germany, uncovered hundreds of mammoth ivory fragments. Just one week later, before they could complete their fieldwork and analyze the finds, World War II began. The team was forced to quickly fill the excavation trenches using the same soil in which they found the ivory pieces. For the next three decades, the fragments sat in storage at the nearby City Museum of Ulm, until archaeologist Joachim Hahn began an inventory. As Hahn pieced together more than 200 fragments, an extraordinary artifact dating to the Aurignacian period (more than 30,000 years ago) began to emerge. It was clearly a figure with both human and animal characteristics. However, only a small part of the head and the left ear had been found, so the type of creature it represented remained a mystery..." 
You can read the rest of the story about the recovery of additional pieces and the reconstruction of the figurine in the March/April issue of Archaeology.

'Dead' Bangladeshi man missing for 23 years found in Pakistani jail

A Bangladeshi man who went missing for 23 years has been reunited with his family, who had given him up for dead. Moslemuddin Sarkar, 52, arrived back in Dhaka on Tuesday, a day after being freed from a Pakistani jail with the help of the Red Cross. His family lost contact after Mr Sarkar left for India in search of work in 1989. Years later, he ended up in Pakistan, where he was arrested. He says he was beaten and tortured in his subsequent 15 years in prison. "I requested that embassy officials send me back to Bangladesh but no one listened to me," he said.
"I suffered a lot in the prison and was crying for help. But no-one came to my rescue. Still I don't understand why I was kept in jail for such a long time. At last, I am back with my family and I feel great." There were emotional scenes when Mr Sarkar was welcomed by relatives at Dhaka airport. A younger brother, Julhas Uddin, said that Mr Sarkar's mother "passed out as he hugged her" after returning to his home village. "It was a heartbreaking scene. He could not control his tears for hours," Julhas Uddin said.

A dockworker at the port of Chittagong, Mr Sarkar says he illegally crossed the border to India in 1989 in search of better opportunities, without telling his family. "We searched for him for years and finally gave up hope believing he might have drowned in the sea. But our mother always believed that her son would return home one day," Julhas Uddin said. In 1997, he was caught trying to enter Pakistan without valid travel documents, spending the next 15 years in prisons in Lahore and Karachi.

He said he was completely cut off from the world during that time. "I went to Pakistan believing that I would get a better job there. But they caught me at the border," he said. "I wrote dozens of letters to my village address, but did not have any clue that they were never posted. At one stage I lost all hope of returning home." His fate reportedly came to light when Pakistan sent a list of long-serving Bangladeshi prisoners to consular officials, who informed Mr Sarkar's family. They in turn appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross, who facilitated his release.

Murderers dumping bodies in Detroit

A dozen corpses of murder victims have turned up over the last year in desolate and decaying parts of Detroit -- vacant lots, abandoned homes, overgrown parks… From the AP:
"You can shoot a person, dump a body and it may just go unsolved" because of the time it may take for the corpse to be found, officer John Garner said…
When he joined the department 13 years ago, Garner patrolled a 3.6-square-mile area in the tough 3rd Precinct, bumping into another officer every 20 minutes. Now he covers 22 square miles and crosses paths with other officers "maybe once every two hours."
"If we know this, the criminals know this," Garner said. Sparse patrols and slow response times make it less likely that someone will be seen dumping a body.
"Years back, people would go to rural areas" to dump bodies, said Daniel Kennedy, a Michigan-based forensic criminologist. "Now we have rural areas in urban areas."

Underwear-clad intruder searching for tennis balls arrested

A man who claimed he was looking for tennis balls for his friend's dog roamed around a Florida neighborhood near Ormond Beach wearing nothing but his torn boxer shorts early on Wednesday. But 41-year-old Charles Snowden also rifled through the kitchen drawer of Karyna Foster who lives on Woodcrest Drive, according to a Volusia County sheriff's report. For Foster, the sight of an almost nude stranger standing in her kitchen was a rude awakening. "He totally did not know I was there," Foster said after the strange episode. "He was in his underwear. It was torn. I have no idea how he tore it."
It was just after 7 a.m. and Foster had just woken up after receiving a telephone call from her brother. She said she was happy she could stay in bed for a few extra minutes because it was her day off. But then she heard a sound coming from the kitchen of her mobile home. Worried because she has three small children and also because her sister was sleeping on the couch, Foster walked toward the kitchen. That's when she spotted Snowden looking through her silverware drawer.

Not one to stay quiet under normal circumstances, Foster said she somehow knew that this time she should not say a word. "I just wanted him out of the house so I could call 911," she said. "He walked right by me." Foster said she watched Snowden walk to another neighbor's front yard. When deputies arrived, they spotted Snowden at Woodcrest and Arroyo Parkway, an arrest report shows. When they approached the suspect, who lives a couple of blocks away on Myrtle Jo Drive, he told deputies he was looking for tennis balls for his friend's dog.

He was arrested and charged with unarmed burglary of an occupied dwelling. Sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said Snowden was "under the influence of an unknown substance. Foster also said Snowden was "out of it." Regardless, the mother of three was grateful that Snowden left her residence without hurting anyone. "I don't know what he was looking for," Foster said. "It was scary." Snowden was issued an orange jail jumpsuit and was being held Wednesday at the Volusia County Branch Jail on $1,500 bail.

Man makes frantic 911 call while clinging to moving truck

Newly released 911 tape shows the frantic moments when a New York man called begging authorities for help as he clung to a moving pickup truck. Robert Kowalik, 45, of Troy, N.Y., called 911 at around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday to report he had been hit by a truck and was being dragged through city streets. “I got hit by a truck. I’m hanging on the back of a white truck. Hurry, hurry,” Kowalik is heard saying on the 911 call, tape of which has been released by police.

Kowalik told authorities that he had been hit by a truck being driven by his acquaintance Seth Scudds, also 45, with whom he had been arguing outside of a store in Troy. “He just hit me, I’m hanging on his truck, hurry, hurry, oh please hurry, I can’t hang on too much,” he says on the call. “He ran over my leg. He ran over my leg. I can’t hold on much longer. He’s killing me.” Video shows Kowalik clinging to the side of the pickup truck near the back on the passenger side.

Midway through the call, Kowalik, who suffered cuts and bruises but no life-threatening injuries in the incident, can be heard pleading for an unknown medication. “I want my pills back … my narcotics,” Kowalik says to someone in the vehicle during the call. Kowalik held onto the truck while staying on the phone with authorities and telling them what streets he was passing, until Scudds came to a stop in a Walmart parking lot in nearby Brunswick, N.Y.

Surveillance cameras in the store’s parking lot captured Kowalik then grabbing a bag from the truck before Scudds sped away. Authorities later clarified that it was Kowalik who partly prompted the incident because he was hanging onto the truck and was not, as he claimed, hit by the truck. Scudds was later arrested and charged with assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. He is free on $7,500 bail and is scheduled to return to court later today.

Man accused of stealing potato peeler, knife and small dog

Police in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, arrested a 24-year-old man accused of breaking into an apartment building and stealing kitchen utensils and a dog.
According to the police report, Garrett Stauber broke into an apartment on Bridle Trail. Police said he took a kitchen knife and potato peeler and then fled with the resident’s dog. "That's completely weird. That's completely uncalled for," said witness Joseph Sarkis.

Authorities said Stauber appeared drunk after he left the apartment and was confronted by a neighbor. Stauber and the neighbor briefly fought before Stauber was able to get away. Investigators said they followed a footprint trail to a nearby apartment where Stauber was staying.

"They (police) knocked on a door and found a gentleman sitting on the sofa without a shirt on," said Capt. Greg Seamon of Moon Township police. He was arrested and charged with simple assault and burglary. The victim said they’ve since moved out of the apartment.

Chihuahua sniffs out girls lost in forest‎

On Monday, life stood still for David and Rebecca Parga of Newnan, Georgia. Their two little girls, Carlie, 8, and Lacey, 5, were missing. Also with them was Carlie's best friend, Victoria Baker. It was at about 4 p.m. when the girls took their dog, Lucy, for a walk down to the cul-de-sac. What was supposed to be a quick stroll turned into an all-out search. "We tried to find our way out of the woods," Carlie said. "We kept following paths and stuff and we got lost."

The girls wandered through the trails with Lucy for more than two hours. "We were scared we were going to get lost more," Carlie said. Carlie's and Lacey's father said once the girls didn't come back from their walk, he knew something was wrong. "It is not like them to wander off," David Parga said. "They were nowhere. I start running through the woods, calling at different spots, they are not answering, and I'm not hearing anything, so my wife called police."

As police, firefighters and neighbors searched for the children, Carvin Young, who lives across the street, joined in as well. He grabbed his 3-year-old Chihuahua and started looking. "Bell sniffed them out," Young said. "She smelled them, her tail went to wagging and she kept running and running until she got to them. She started jumping up on me and I knew we were close." The girls were found on the opposite side of the woods where they went in.

Carlie's and Lacey's mother, Rebecca Parga, is grateful that her kids play with Bell almost every day and that the dog was able to pick up their scent. "A sheer blessing that she (Bell) lives across the street from us," Rebecca Parga said. "Bell is familiar with them, and she knew they were back there, she knew my kids. That's what kept drawing her to go in that direction." The girls were a little scared when they were found but were not hurt. "She is a good dog, everybody loves Bell," Young said.

Dad buys 10-year-old daughter a zebra for her birthday

A Northern California father bought his daughter an unusual present for her 10th birthday. Brettany Lawton of Newcastle was surprised to walk into her backyard and see a zebra last week. Brettany's 10th birthday isn't until Monday, but that didn't stop her dad, Brett, from going through the measures of tracking down and then purchasing Arumbra, as Brettany affectionately calls her new pet.

"I felt really cool because no one else would get a zebra for their birthday and I felt really excited and really special that my dad got me a zebra because no one else has one and my friends didn't believe me or anything," Brettany said. Ever since Arumbra arrived with his friend, Donkey, the half-mini-horse half-donkey, the pair have had some adjusting to do as they snack on a diet that isn't too different from a horse.

For now, Arumbra and Donkey are confined to half an acre, but Lawton hopes to let the two roam around his property, which is fenced. He said Arumbra's current situation is much better from his previous home in Miami, which he had to be rescued from. Prior to his time in Miami, Arumbra was also featured in an advertisement for a cigar company and later a vodka company. He has also been in a few movies, according to Lawton.

Now, he's giving a little girl the best birthday ever. Arumbra is only part of Brettany's birthday package, though. She's also heading to Disneyland. "I thought I was sleeping or something because I never thought I would get a zebra, but I did, so it was really cool. He talked about getting a giraffe for a little while but I knew that was never going to happen, but then I got a zebra."

"Nessie" Sighted!

Nessie hunter George Edwards has waited 26 years for this sight, and he now believes he has the best picture ever taken of the Loch Ness monster. He spends around 60 hours a week taking tourists out on his boat Nessie Hunter IV, and has led numerous Nessie hunts over the years. But this image has convinced him that there really is a monster - or monsters - out there. It shows a mysterious dark hump moving in the water towards Urquhart Castle. After watching the object for five to ten minutes, Mr Edwards said it slowly sank below the surface and never resurfaced. 

Humanlike Skin Cancer Found in Wild Fish

The first case of skin cancer in a wild marine fish population looks eerily similar to the melanoma that plagues humans. Read more
The first case of skin cancer in a wild marine fish population looks eerily similar to the melanoma that plagues humans.

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