Welcome to ...

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.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Daily Drift


Some of our readers today have been in:
Fermont, Canada
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Pasay, Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Santiago, Chile
Cape Town, South Africa
Warsaw, Poland
Jakarta, Indonesia
Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
Bangkok, Thailand
Tirana, Albania
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Bogota, Colombia
Poznan, Poland
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Hamburg, Germany
San Jose, Costa Rica
Manila, Philippines
Belgrade, Serbia
Cebu City, Philippines

  Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

917   A Byzantine counter-offensive is routed by Syeon at Anchialus, Bulgaria.
1619   The first group of twenty Africans is brought to Jamestown, Virginia.
1667   John Milton publishes Paradise Lost, an epic poem about the fall of Adam and Eve.
1741   Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering, commisioned by Peter the Great of Russia to find land connecting Asia and North America, discovers America.
1794   American General "Mad Anthony" Wayne defeats the Ohio Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in the Northwest territory, ending Indian resistance in the area.
1847   General Winfield Scott wins the battle of Churubusco on his drive to Mexico City.
1904   Dublin's Abbey Theatre is founded, an outgrowth of the Irish Literary Theatre founded in 1899 by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory.
1908   The American Great White Fleet arrives in Sydney, Australia, to a warm welcome.
1913   700 feet above Buc, France, parachutist Adolphe Pegond becomes the first person to jump from an airplane and land safely.
1914   Russia wins an early victory over Germany at Gumbinnen.
1940   After a previous machine gun attack failed, exiled Russian Leon Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico City, with an alpine ax to the back of the head.
1940   Radar is used for the first time, by the British during the Battle of Britain. Also on this day, in a radio broadcast, Winston Churchill makes his famous homage to the Royal Air Force: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
1941   Adolf Hitler authorizes the development of the V-2 missile.
1944   United States and British forces close the pincers on German units in the Falaise-Argentan pocket in France.
1971   The Cambodian military launches a series of operations against the Khmer Rouge.

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk

The truth hurts

Romney adviser proposing kicking 65 and 66 year olds off of Medicare to pay for tax cuts for the rich

Man in a coma is "fit for work," loses disability benefits

A post in a thread on rightsnet.co.uk claims that ATOS (a French private company that administers disability benefits assessments for the UK Department of Work and Pensions) has declared a man in a coma to be fit for work and cut off his benefits. This is part of a the stepped up campaign to stop "benefits cheats" by requiring complex paperwork from claimants. A companion piece on Libcom has comments from others who've been cut off, including a man who's suffered brain injuries that caused him to file his paperwork late.
Client’s husband is in hospital in a coma. He was sent ESA501.
Client contacted DWP to explain situation and was asked to obtain letter from hospital confirming he is in a coma. Did so. Was told to send it to ATOS rather than local BDC. Did so. Husband has now received decision letter – yep, as he has failed to return the ESA50 without good cause and is therefore capable of work [he is] no longer entitled to ESA…
Coma patient fit for work

Did you know ...

How to set up your own off-shore bank account

That bankster fraud has driven 100 million into poverty, killing many

The smallest government spender since Eisenhower? Barack Obama

That after a teen-led campaign, we'll have the first female moderator for the presidential debates in 20 years

Global corporate execs prefer Obama over Romney

Why are so many global corporate CEOs socialists who hate business? Don't they realize that Romney was also a CEO? Perhaps they noticed the poor economic performance of Massachusetts under government Romney or his keen ability to squeeze every cent out of his investments before throwing them away when there was no money left.
Twice as many business executives around the world say the global economy will prosper better if incumbent U.S. president Barack Obama wins the next election than if his Republican challenger Mitt Romney does, a poll showed on Friday.

Democrat Obama was chosen by 42.7 percent in the 1,700 respondent poll, compared with 20.5 percent for Romney. The rest said "neither".

Chris Christie's NJ hits 35 year high for unemployment

Tell us more about the New Jersey economic miracle, Governor Christie.
New Jersey’s unemployment rate jumped to a 35-year high of 9.8 percent in July, the state Labor Department said.

The rate climbed from 9.6 percent in June and is above the national level of 8.3 percent, which also increased last month. New Jersey lost 12,000 jobs in July, with the largest drops in manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services, the department said in a statement today.
A great example of how to fuck up an economy - let repugicans tamper with it.

US consumer sentiment up

Is the worst over? While it's hard to see much great news out there, enough people are starting to think that at least it can't get worse.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary August index of consumer sentiment increased to 73.6, the highest level since May, from 72.3 the prior month. The gauge was projected to be little changed at 72.2, according to the median forecast of 72 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

After two months of sliding sentiment, August’s advance indicates consumers may be feeling the benefits of growing payrolls. Rising confidence raises the odds households can sustain July’s pickup in retail sales, which set the pace for stronger growth in the third quarter.

“People have said the worst scenario is not going to happen,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. Confidence “seems to be stabilizing at a fairly low level, suggesting to me that consumer spending is going to continue. I don’t see a huge pick- up in growth.”
Though there's very little great news ahead, the economy could certainly get much worse if the repugicans  implement their plan of austerity. If one looks at what is happening in the UK or Spain, it's clear that the economy can get much, much worse with repugican tampering.

Sword-wielding robber killed at Vegas Dairy Queen

Police say a clerk at a Las Vegas Dairy Queen shot and killed a sword-wielding, masked man who tried to rob the restaurant.

Man forced to work in jail laundry while awaiting trial sues for "slavery"

In 2008, Finbar McGarry, a grad student at the University of Vermont, was arrested on gun charges. While he was awaiting trial, his jailers ordered him to work for $0.25 in the jail laundry or be condemned to solitary confinement. He's now suing for violations of his 13th amendment rights, saying that this amounted to slavery. The case was dismissed but that's been overturned by a higher court and is steaming forward. If he wins, it will have huge repercussions for America's jails, where pre-trial prisoners who have not been convicted of any charge are forced into hard labor.
Eventually, McGarry relented and chose to work in the laundry rather than face a prolonged and brutal spell in “the hole.” During the course of his work, McGarry says he contracted a serious MRSA lesion on his neck—a potentially deadly bacterial infection.
McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. In 2009, he pressed a suit against his former captors in Brattleboro, Vermont, federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The Brattleboro judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.
McGarry’s suit brings new life to the issue of pre-trial detention—the incarceration of people who are awaiting trial, yet to be convicted of a crime—which was already mired with debate and controversy.
A recent report by corrections expert Dr. James Austin, examining the jails of Los Angeles County (which suffer from notorious violence and overcrowding), found that upward of 1,000 inmates trapped in jail pre-trial posed little to no danger to the public—more than five percent of the county jail population. They were simply being held because they were too poor to pay for bail.
Pre-Trial Slave Sues Jail for $11 Million—in Vermont

Random Celebrity Photo

The neuroscience of race – is racism inbuilt?

The topic of race is one of fierce debate; never far from our minds and commonly discussed both in the ...
Continue Reading

Red wine compound could help seniors walk away from mobility problems

In a stride toward better health in later life, scientists reported today that resveratrol, the so-called “miracle molecule” found in ...
Continue Reading

Common parasite may trigger suicide attempts

A parasite thought to be harmless and found in many people may actually be causing subtle changes in the brain ...
Continue Reading

Yoga: A cost-effective treatment for back pain sufferers?

Specialized group yoga classes could provide a cost-effective way of treating patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain, according ...
Continue Reading

Scientists: Can now block heroin, morphine addiction

An international team of scientists says it has proven that addiction to morphine and heroin can be blocked, while at ...
Continue Reading

The Strange 1956 Tale of a "Virgin Birth"

virginbirthIn 1955, geneticist Helen Spurway discovered the phenomenon known as parthenogenisis: how some species procreate without a male. Spurway was studying guppies, but wanted to know if parthenogenisis, or "virgin birth," happened in humans. A call went out through the British magazine Sunday Pictoral to find possible cases. They found Emmimarie Jones, who had an 11-year-old daughter named Monica with no known father. Tests available at the time showed that Monica had many genetic traits eerily identical to her mother's, except for a skin transplant, which both mother and daughter eventually rejected.
Eight months after the search for a virgin mother had been announced, the Pictorial published a world exclusive on Emmimarie and her daughter. The full details of their tests were also revealed in The Lancet, which published “Parthenogenesis in Human Beings” by Dr Stanley Balfour-Lynn of Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London. On the skin grafts, The Lancet concluded that they indicated that Monica’s genes did not in fact match her mother’s, despite all the previous evidence to the contrary. Yet there was a scientific curiosity here. What any parthenogenetically conceived child certainly could not have, unless they had mutated, were any genes that had not come from the mother in the first place. This is why the skin graft from a virgin-born child would be expected to take when implanted on her mother, but one from the mother would not necessarily take on her child. Yet, the opposite had happened in Emmimarie and Monica’s test. What on earth was going on?
In such a case, Balfour-Lynn wrote, interpretation was very difficult, making rigorous proof impossible. True, the Joneses had failed the most stringent test, but that didn’t negate the validity of the first three; it only muddied the waters. The study concluded that Emmimarie’s claim that her daughter was fatherless must be taken seriously. “Doctors have been unable to prove that any man took part in the creation of this child”, screamed the Sunday Pictorial.
But modern DNA tests were not around in 1956, and no DNA samples from the women exist now. However, subsequence advances in science throw doubt on Emmimarie's story. Read the explanation at the Telegraph.

Random Photo

The Best and Worst Countries to be a Returning Athlete

Now that the Games are over and the athletes have gone home, what was waiting for them? In some nations, Olympic athletes are heroes, win or lose, while other nations could care less, at least officially. Either way, Mom will be happy to see you. Especially in Trinidad and Tobago.
The tiny island nation is happy just to be recognized as a competitor. The team may not have won a single game at the 2006 World Cup, but they were welcomed back with parties, national honors and financial rewards, and that was just for making it through the prelims. That bodes well for the 2012 T &T team, which became the most decorated in the country's history with four medals this year. So far, they've had a holiday in their honor, and gold medalist Keshorn Walcott has had a lighthouse, a plane, and a housing development named after him.
Meanwhile, one nation made both the best list and the worst list. You can probably guess which before you read the article at Foreign Policy

Police at Mexico City airport replaced

Mexico's federal police have replaced all 348 officers assigned to security details at the Mexico City International Airport in the wake of the June 25 shooting deaths of three federal policemen killed by fellow officers believed to be involved in trafficking drugs through the terminal.

Women in North Korea allowed to ride bicycles for first time in nearly 20 years

North Korean authorities have formally repealed a long-standing public order forbidding women from riding bicycles in urban areas. A source from North Pyongan Province said: “This August, approval for women to ride bicycles was handed down by the state.” It is not clear upon whose authority the public order has been withdrawn; nevertheless, according to the source, “People have welcomed it, saying that ‘penalties imposed by the father are being lifted by the son.’”

The repressive measure was first imposed by the regime of Kim Jong Il in the 1990s. Kim is said to have decreed it after hearing news of the death of Oh Hye Young, the daughter of Gen. Oh Geuk Ryeol, a vice-chair of the National Defence Commission. Oh had been hit by a car while riding a bicycle in downtown Pyongyang. A public order was immediately issued to set out the decree. Under it, 2m-wide bicycle lanes were established and a system of bicycle registration was brought in that required the display of numbers on each registered bicycle.

Those caught violating the order in Pyongyang were normally fined 1000-5000 North Korean Won, (£5-£25, $8-$40), though repeated violation may have led to a bicycle being confiscated. Though it was allowed to lose much of its power in provincial areas at the beginning of the 2000s, the Central Party still cyclically reasserted the order, something that led to temporary crackdowns nationwide.

In educational television dealing with the subject, the idea of a woman wearing a skirt while riding a bicycle was described as contrary to socialist custom. For the the majority of families ownership of a bicycle in North Korea is still seen in much the same way today as ownership of a private car in the developed world. Most of those bicycles in circulation are of Chinese or Japanese origin; finding an indigenous North Korean bicycle is extremely hard.

Opening Secret Tomb Of China's First Emperor Waits For Science

Buried deep under a hill in central China, surrounded by an underground moat of poisonous mercury, lies an entombed emperor who's been undisturbed for more than two millennia. The tomb holds the secrets of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died on September 10, 210 B.C.

The answers to a number of historical mysteries may lie buried inside that tomb, but whether modern people will ever see inside this mausoleum depends not just on the Chinese government, but on science.

Executive Inn in Belleville, IL: not a nice place to stay, evidently

The Belleville, IL Executive Inn sounds like one of the worst hotels in the world, judging from the TripAdvisor reviews. Incredibly, it's rated 8/10 for the city, which means that there are two worse hotels in town. Here's cpratt:
Oh sweet lord where do I begin :( first the room was filthy, they never cleaned in the two weeks I stayed there. The supposedly free wifi don't work, the tub, toilet and sinks were all clogged and backed up constantly. The water smelled like rotten fish, the ice machine was broke, there was a hooker that lived upstairs and did her job in front of her child! The management never cleaned the hotel, the residents do that! It smells and the pool don't work, and the management is rude. There are drug deals being done constantly, prostitution is ramped and there is black mold growing everywhere. I have the hospital papers to prove the black mold made me ill ! Heck I was in St. Elizabeth's for a week. If you value your health I would recommend you don't stay here. Hell the health department needs to shut the place down until the owners, who live and stay in California by the way, fix the hell hole up!
Some highlights from “Bring some bleach. And a weapon," by an anonymous reviewer:
The room, although massive, appeared to be the room that the hotel "forgot about". It didn't look like anyone had cleaned it in years. Honestly. The window was broken, the carpet was stained to the point that it almost looked like old flannel, the beds were broken and crooked... the bathroom would have been too gross for an uncensored HBO special, I think that the walls in the actual room were made from cardboard - I don't even know if the TV worked because we turned around immediately and asked for another room.
She understood, and gave us a key to a room upstairs. As we walked upstairs and through the hall, we were "greeted" by a man who burst out of his hotel room and looked a lot like a haggard BB King, fresh after a shot of "mace" directly to the eyes. After asking each one of us (there were 4 of us) if we had any cigarettes or anything to smoke, he let us go, but not before watching us take every last step into our 2nd room...
I would recommend visiting this place if you don't have any children to care for and want to shoot a documentary on the inner-workings of a drug ring.

Would You Buy A House Built on Top of a Shopping Mall?

Space is one thing you don't find easily in a city like Zhuzhou, Hunan province, China. But there is space on the rooftop of the Jiutian International Square shapping mall, and the owners have places four villas with lawns up there. The developers say these are not intended for sale, but they are not the only rooftop houses in the city -and other buildings have people living in such structures. More

Tourists and locals flee fire on Greek Island

Fire beach
The Greek Island of Chios has been hit by raging forest fires sending local villagers and tourists fleeing for safer ground.
Read all about it

Some Like it Hot - Climate Change and the importance of timing

The hungry little caterpillar will destroy us all: Climate change and importance of timing

My first year of graduate school, I set out to complete an independent field project in the hill country of ...
Continue Reading


Some like it hot: Tropical species ‘not as vulnerable’ to climate change extinction

In the face of a changing climate many species must adapt or perish. Ecologists studying evolutionary responses to climate change ...
Continue Reading

Ten Incredible Sea Forts

Red Sands sea fort
What you see here is the Red Sands sea fort six miles off the coast of England. It was used during World War II to guard against u-boats and aircraft attack. As you can probably guess, the was an unpopular post, and was only manned for a few months. Other sea forts look more comfortable, even spectacular, in a list of ten at The World Geography.

Ocean Health Gets 'D' Grade

A new Ocean Health Index grades the state of the world's marine waters.  
Read more
Ocean Health Gets 'D' Grade


Sunday, August 19

Astronomical Fact

The Latest Videos from Mars

curiosity Heat ShieldThe Mars Curiosity rover had its eyes wide open as it landed on the red planet. Meaning, the forward-facing camera was taking color images as it landed. In a couple of videos released by NASA, you can see the heat shield falling away from the rover, the heat shield slamming into the planet, and the dust of Mars stirring up as the rover itself touched down. See the videos, and read an astronomer's account of why they are so amazing, at Bad Astronomy

Mars Rover Snaps 1st Hi-Res Self-Portrait

Curiosity shows off in this image of the huge robot and its exotic Red Planet surroundings. Read more
mars rover

As luck would have it ...

You lucky bastard

Shark Culture

How Do We Connect with Sharks?
We may look at sharks as dangerous and alien, but it wasn't always that way. Many ancient cultures embraced them and they all studied them.  

sharks, shark week, eilperin, demon fish

Well, hello there!



Police called to chihuahua terrorizing neighborhood

Police in southern Sweden who were called out to apprehend a loose dog that was reportedly terrorizing a neighborhood in the Käglinge district of Malmö, were surprised to find that the aggressive canine was a Chihuahua.
“I did think it was going to be a bigger dog than that,” said Calle Persson of Skåne police. Police were alerted to the area to apprehend the cantankerous canine, after the little mutt had gained access to a building and in a fit of temper bit another dog.

Witnesses also said it had been seen scampering around in the neighborhood barking and acting aggressively against passers-by but without actually biting any of the people it encountered.

Officers searching for the pet returned to the station empty handed however, as the little dog had scarpered by the time they got to the scene. “The canine that was bitten is recovering well from the ordeal. We still haven’t found the dog either, I guess that could be because of its size,“ Persson said.

Animal Pictures