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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Daily Drift

Roughing it!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Warsaw, Poland
Cape Town, South Africa
Sydney, Australia
Athens, Greece
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Orleans, France
Kaunas, Lithuania
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Johannesburg, South Africa
London, England
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Panama City, Panama
Lima, Peru
Belgrade, Serbia
Kalisz, Poland
Beirut, Lebanon
Nicosia, Cyprus
Erbil, Iraq
Bangkok, Thailand

And all across Malaysia in cities such as:
Bayan Lepas
Kota Kinabalu
Kuala Lumpur

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Today in History

357 Julian Caesar defeats the Alamanni at Strousbourg in Gaul.
1346 Edward III of England defeats Philip VI's army at the Battle of Crecy in France.
1758 The Prussian army defeats the invading Russians at the Battle of Zorndorf.
1765 In protest over the stamp tax, American colonists sack and burn the home of Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson.
1830 The "Tom Thumb" steam locomotive runs its famous race with a horse-drawn car. The horse wins because the engine, which had been ahead, breaks down.
1862 Union and Confederate troops skirmish at Waterloo Bridge, Virginia, during the Second Bull Run Campaign.
1864 Confederate General A.P. Hill pushes back Union General Winfield Scott Hancock from Reams Station where his army has spent several days destroying railroad tracks.
1875 "Captain" Matthew Webb becomes the first man to swim across the English Channel.
1916 The National Park Service is established as part of the Department of the Interior.
1921 The United States, which never ratified the Versailles Treaty ending World War I, finally signs a peace treaty with Germany.
1925 A. Phillip Randolph organizes the Sleeping Car Porters' Union.
1940 The first parachute wedding ceremony is performed by Rev. Homer Tomlinson at the New York City World's Fair for Arno Rudolphi and Ann Hayward. The minister, bride and groom, best man, maid of honor and four musicians were all suspended from parachutes.
1941 British and Soviet forces enter Iran, opening up a route to supply the Soviet Union.
1943 The Allies complete the occupation of New Georgia.
1944 Paris is liberated from German occupation by Free French Forces under General Jacques LeClerc.
1989 NASA scientists receive stuning photographs of Neptune and its moons from Voyager 2.

Non Sequitur


Eva Longoria to speak at Democratic Convention

Latinos know Romney hates them
Eva Longoria is taking her support for Obama to the next level.
The 37-year-old actress will be speaking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"This is how I try to live my life day to day and this is what I see in everything President Obama does. Whether he’s fighting for affordable healthcare and access to education, or supporting small businesses in the Hispanic community, over the last three years he’s worked to reform our immigration system, to give everyone a fair shot at the American Dream."

Poll: No Blacks Support Romney

From the "And this is surprising how?" Department:
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds 96 percent of Black voters support Obama, but zero back Romney. Read more
With overwhelming majorities favoring Obama in every demographic it should be of no surprise that Black voters favor the president over the liar.

Gawker gets, publishes, 1000 pages of Bain documents

They still need to be gone through.  More from Gawker here:
Today, we are publishing more than 950 pages of internal audits, financial statements, and private investor letters for 21 cryptically named entities in which Romney had invested—at minimum—more than $10 million as of 2011 (that number is based on the low end of ranges he has disclosed—the true number is almost certainly significantly higher). Almost all of them are affiliated with Bain Capital, the secretive private equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984 and ran until his departure in 1999 (or 2002, depending on whom you ask). Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him, the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places that his money has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance between his own criticisms of Obama's fiscal approach and his money managers' embrace of those same policies. They also show that some of the investments that Romney has always described as part of his retirement package at Bain weren't made until years after he left the company.

Reagan, Ryan, Legitimate Rape, and the repugican party’s Deteriorating tea party Endgame

A History Lesson!

The stridency of anti-government and anti-tax rhetoric coming from Tea Party activists within the repugican cabal has its roots in Ronald Reagan’s two Presidential campaigns and what is known as the Southern Strategy. In 1984, Reagan’s political messaging operation leveraged the Southern Strategy as masterminded by the campaign’s deputy director Lee Atwater.
What is the Southern Strategy? (Make no mistake, it is still being employed with a vengeance.)
Wikipedia notes: ”Though the “Solid South” had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party’s defense of slavery prior to the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many white Southern Democrats stopped supporting the party following the civil rights plank of the Democratic campaign in 1948 (triggering the Dixiecrats), the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and desegregation.”
This approach to converting longtime Democratic voters to the repugican cabal was evident in Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign. But it was in the 1980′s that the Southern Strategy was formalized as a central repugican political strategy by operatives like Lee Atwater. He knew that he could turn out white Southern voters by leveraging racial code language delivered in the carefully nuanced political abstractions of the repugican cabal.
Wikipedia quotes from political scientist Alexander P. Lamis’ book titled Southern Politics. In that book, Atwater framed the Southern Strategy this way: Atwater: “You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Atwater’s no holds barred street fighting style of electioneering continues today in the ongoing influence of Karl Rove, Ed Rollins, Roger Ailes, Lush Dimbulb, and others who have helped drive the messaging of the repugican cabal. This emotionally volatile, wedge issue driven style of politics has, over the last thirty years, increased in stridency to the degree that Ronald Reagan’s wingnut credentials would fall far short of what is required in present day tea party politics. This increasingly ideological hardening of the repugican cabal that has fostered the rise of the present day tea party anti-tax, anti-government, and virulently anti-immigrant platform. The highly emotional framing and messaging Lee Atwater encouraged and Karl Rove carried forward, the wedge issues, the southern strategy, the use of anti-big government rhetoric, have been amplified in subsequent elections to the degree that they have dramatically shifted the ideology of the repugican base to the far right, alienating independent, Latino, and Women voters.
With each ensuing election, the repugican cabal has, out of the need to again energize its base, pushed further and further to the ideological right, encouraging its supporters to attack gay rights, public education, abortion, birth control, environmentalism, immigrants, social security, and a range of the Democratic Party’s core ideological strongholds.
This strategy has proven to be highly successful over the last 30 years, shifting the political center in America to the right. But the endgame of Atwater’s anti-government Southern Strategy is now playing out in a much different way than he might have hoped. Because as the political rhetoric of far-right candidates continues to shift ever further right, we are seeing that no matter how far those ideologies go, there is always an additional step they can take, and as they express these next ideological shifts, they are imploding their political prospects at crucial moments in state wide and national campaigns.
Four years ago, Sharron Angle failed in her run for U. S. Senate in Nevada. By all rights, it was a year in which Democrats like Senator Harry Reid were very vulnerable. Two years into Obama’s first term, the economy was in tatters. The House of Representatives shifted repugican by huge margins, often due to tea party candidates who, because they were not running in state wide or national elections, could leverage their extreme rhetoric to win in limited regions of the country where voters shared their philosophy. But Angle’s race was state wide. Meaning that her political platform needed to appeal to more than just the tea party base that was instrumental in her nomination.
Angle has stated:
• She does not believe Constitution mandates the separation of church and state.
• She favors the privatization of Medicare.
• She opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, saying that it is against god’s “plan”.
• She says that the Social Security system should be “transitioned out”.
But what was most alarming during the campaign was Angle’s repeated mentioning of what she calls “second amendment remedies;” a direct reference to the right to own guns. For example, On Bill Manders’ radio show, she stated that the Second Amendment is there “to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.”
On Lars Larson’s radio show, she stated “…but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, ‘My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?’ I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
And so it has been going in elections across the country. Again and again, the tea party is showing it has the muscle to nominate candidates, but in many cases, those candidates once nominated in the much more ideologically dogmatic party primary are supporting policies that make them unelectable in a general election. And now we have the implosion of Congressman Todd Akins, who until a few days ago was competing successfully against embattled Sen. Claire McCaskill, in the race for the U. S. Senate seat from Missouri.
As reported by the Washington Post, ”Akin, an engineer by training, was asked about his staunch opposition to abortion even in the case of women getting pregnant after a rape.
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
The implication that Adkins has clear ideas about what does or does not qualify as “legitimate rape” has created a firestorm of public anger and once again reinforced the message that where women’s issues are concerned, the repugican cabal just doesn’t get it.
If this were a singular instance, it could be viewed as an anomaly. But it is not. The daily drumbeat of extreme comments by repugican candidates is reinforcing the view that the repugican cabal is being dominated by ideological extremists.
In California, the repugican cabal has simply collapsed. The New York Times reports: “It’s no longer a statewide party,” said Allan Hoffenblum, who worked for 30 years as a repugican consultant in California. “They are down to 30 percent, which makes it impossible to win a statewide election. You just can’t get enough crossover voters.”
“They have alienated large swaths of voters,” he said. “They have become too doctrinaire on the social issues. It’s become a cult.”
By creating the perfect storm of conservative religious fervor and anti-government zeal over the last few decades, the repugican cabal has shifted its base past a political tipping point. In order to be nominated, national and state wide candidates supported by the tea party lunatic wing of the party hold political beliefs that alienate cross over voters in the context of a general election. What once was a guarantee of national election viability, the building of coalitions between the southern red state voters and disillusioned independent voters, has moved incrementally further right to the degree that independents have begun the flee the ideological shift of the repugican cabal. Meanwhile, Democratic politicians, in their own rightward shift have filled the vacuum with what Bill Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council called New Democrats. Democrats that have moved away from the left leaning democratic politics historically epitomized by Presidential candidates like Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. But Democrats continue to reach out to women and minorities.
In two very specific ways, increasingly vitriolic repugican rhetoric has already had a significant impact on the 2012 election cycle. First, what has come to be framed as evidence of the repugican “war on women” is Lush Dimbulb’s notorious attack on Sandra Fluke wherein he called her a slut for wanting access to birth control via her health care benefits.
That coupled with the aging white tea party’s virulent anti-immigration stance has set the repugican cabal on a path veering toward political irrelevance. And now, with Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP candidate, the repugican cabal presidential ticket is one degree of separation away from Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment. Why?
ABC is now reporting: “Akin and Ryan cosponsored a 2011 bill, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, that would redefine rape as “forcible rape,” narrowing the scope of what’s considered rape in cases of abortion. Akin and Ryan also cosponsored a personhood bill and the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2004, which would require abortion providers to “make a specified statement to the pregnant woman that Congress has determined that there is substantial evidence that the process will cause the unborn child pain.”
Todd Akins and Paul Ryan’s No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act which seeks to legally redefine rape as “forcible rape” puts them both in the room during discussions about what is or is not “legitimate rape.” This is only the beginning of the public’s growing awareness of Paul Ryan’s extreme positions on a range of issues outlined in his budget proposal and other legislative efforts.
Sometimes endgames are planned. Sometimes a particular endgame is the result of events set in motion by limited vision and an obsession with short term gains. And unless I miss my guess, the 2012 Presidential election will be another example of the declining fortunes of the increasingly extremist repugican cabal, which in its growing stridency and dogmatic inflexibility, will lose critical races in a political and economic environment.

Two TV stations say Romney told them no Akin questions

When the story first broke, the Romney folks tried to say it was an aberration. Now we know that this happened twice - two different times the Romney people told reporters they weren't permitted to ask Romney about the Akin abortion controversy.
The WHIO interview was one of four satellite appearances Romney made on local TV stations Thursday. Per common practice, campaign officials fished around for topics and questions that might come up prior to the taping. In at least two of those interviews, the Romney campaign tried to shut down questions about Akin, whose continuing Senate campaign in Missouri is ensuring that abortion stays at the center of the presidential campaign narrative.
Romney sure seems to plead the 5th a lot for a guy who claims to be innocent of any wrongdoing. He refuses to release his taxes like other presidential candidates, and now is trying to dictate to reporters what they can and can't ask him.

This suggests a few things:

1. Romney's staff doesn't trust what their boss might say to reporters, so better to cut any questions off before they get asked.
2. The Akin controversy has hurt Romney.
3. Arrogance. Romney has an unhealthy does of Sarah Palin in him; a sense that he will decide what information the public is entitled to, and no one else. It smacks of arrogance. But it also smacks of insecurity. For someone who shows little emotion, Romney sure seems awfully afraid of something.

What is he hiding?

Romney's energy 'plan' is government by magic pony, and higher prices for you

Mitt Romney has just announced his energy plan, a "bold" scheme to make the US self-sufficient in oil by 2020 by increasing domestic production and building the XL pipeline. There will mean even bigger subsidies for the oil industry, while tax credits for wind power will end.

There is only one small problem with Romney's plan, it can't possibly work because the US doesn't have enough oil reserves to meet demand:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s the question. We are drilling at a record pace but we’re doing so in a way that protects the health and safety and the natural resources of the American people. (Applause.)

So that’s point number one. If you start hearing this “drill, baby, drill; drill, drill, drill” -- if you start hearing that again, just remember you’ve got the facts -- we’re doing that. Tell me something new. (Applause.) That’s problem number one.

Here’s the second problem with what some of these politicians are talking about. There’s a problem with a strategy that only relies on drilling and that is, America uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. If we drilled every square inch of this country -- so we went to your house and we went to the National Mall and we put up those rigs everywhere -- we’d still have only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. Let’s say we miss something -- maybe it’s 3 percent instead of 2. We’re using 20; we have 2.
If Romney's plan for energy independence were possible we would be doing it already. George W. Bush was in the oil business. The GOP had eight years to implement the Romney plan for self-sufficiency. They invaded Iraq instead.

That Keystone XL pipeline isn't the answer to 'North American' oil self sufficiency either. The real point of extending the pipeline through to Texas is so that Canada can then have the option of loading the crude onto tankers and selling it to China. It is a good move for Canada and for oil speculators but a terrible one for US consumers. At present, Canada can only sell the oil shale to refiners in Cushing Oklahoma, and they have to accept the market price there. With the XL expansion, Canada will be able to charge the US refiners what China would have paid for the oil, meaning "more."

This is the sort of business detail that slick money men like Mitt Romney make their fortunes from.  For the rest of us, it means higher energy prices.

During the Iraq war, Atrios satirized this type of thinking as 'wishing for a magic pony'. Romney has expanded the Bush approach to turn it into a complete theory of government, a general theory of magic ponies. Per Romney, all the US need do to become self sufficient in energy is to believe that the oil reserves exist and they will miraculously appear out of thin air (like WMD in Iraq).

Belief in that type of thinking is perfectly fine for authors of trash self-help books and religious types. But we tried eight years of the Magic Pony approach to governance under the last Republican President, and we are still cleaning up the mess that pony left behind.

Twisted Sister frontman denounces Paul Ryan's use of "We're Not Going to Take It"

Dee Snider's spokesperson has denounced Paul Ryan's use of his band Twisted Sister's anthem "We're Not Going to Take It" in his campaign:
“I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan’s use of my band Twisted Sister’s song, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ in any capacity,” Snider told TPM in a statement relayed by his manager Tuesday. “There is almost nothing he stands for that I agree with except the use of the P90X.”
According to Wikipedia, P90X "is a commercial home exercise regimen, known for being intense."
Dee Snider To Paul Ryan: We’re Not Gonna Take Your Use Of Our Music

The repugican cabal to hold NRA "Shoot-Out" event days after shoot-out at Empire State Building

Via NYPD presser: 9:03 this morning... disgruntled employee, in front of office, shot and killed former coworker, shooter aged 53 fled east on w 33rd to 5th aven, went north with 45 caliber handgun in black bag under arm. Construction worker followed him, alerted two cops, who were at Empire State. As cops approached shooter he pulled gun and fired on them, who retired fire and killed him. An additional 9 people were wounded during exchange. No children were shot (because in America, that's kind of expected).

UPDATE: GOP Convention to hold incredibly inappropriately named NRA-sponsored "shoot-out" event days after shoot-out at Empire State Building, week after shoot-out at Family Research Council, one month after Aurora shooting. "Stars and Stripes Republican Convention Shoot-Out" - seriously?  A shoot-out is when multiple people pick up guns and kill each other in a mass spray of bullets.  What a creepy idea for an event in the middle of all these mass shootings, and what a creepy name - it sounds like a terrorist attack against the convention, how inappropriate can you be? (Source: I have the entire GOP convention schedule, and copied this from it.)

If I were a member of Congress I wouldn't want to be caught at this event if yet another "shoot out" happens somewhere in America next week. And at the rate we're going, about one a week lately, odds are high.

It's time to bump this post about how important it is that we not take political advantage of [insert shooting here]:
It's time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.

Before we get started, let's go over a few basic ground rules.

1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy it's time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it's easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to vote (or buy French cheese).

2. And we won't tolerate any second guessing of the Second Amendment right to carry assault weapons, or questions about how the Framers could have possibly envisaged an assault rifle over 200 years ago, or why a "hunter" needs six thousand rounds of ammunition, or kevlar, or smoke grenades to kill a pheasant.
Up to five people were reportedly shot. Info just coming in. Stay tuned.

Details coming in. Gunman randomly opened fire on pedestrians.

ABC says it was a workplace dispute that spilled out on to the street.

CNN: Ten shot, several killed including shooter.

Did you know ...

The top 26 CEO's who got paid more than their companies paid in federal tax

About this note from a repugican who fled the 'cult'

A top psychic admits: psychics are frauds

Apocalypse not: why you shouldn't worry about end times

About the 7 ways the repugican cabal uses slavery rhetoric to scare people

And 5 ways privatization is ruining America

The repugican cabal newsletter calls for armed insurrection if Obama is elected

That when chalking is outlawed, only outlaws will play hopscotch

UK's QE program benefits go to the rich

Whether it's in the UK or the US or anywhere else, the quantitative easing programs are more about helping the rich - welfare for bankers, you might say - than anything else. There's always talk about benefits for everyone but somehow those benefits never trickle down, do they?
The Bank of England's recent report promotes the idea of spreading the wealth for everyone though it also admits that it primarily benefits the top 10% of the population.

The Independent:
In its report on the effectiveness of its controversial quantitative easing (QE) programme, the Bank said it successfully pushed up share prices and other asset values, delivering an overall boost to the net financial worth of UK households of around £600bn. The Bank said this worked out at an average benefit of around £10,000 per person.

However, financial assets are unevenly distributed around the population, meaning that the benefit was highly unequal. And an analysis by The Independent reveals that the wealthiest 10 per cent of households would have benefited from QE more than 240 times as much as the poorest 10 per cent.

The Bank's researchers suggested that the £325bn of sovereign-bond purchases enacted by the Monetary Policy Committee since March 2009 boosted asset prices across the economy by around 28 per cent. The most recent research on levels of wealth by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in July showed that the wealthiest 10 per cent of British households held £2.5 trillion in pension wealth at the end of 2010, while the poorest 10 per cent held just £2bn.
If governments are going to use tax money to pump up the system, why should most of the benefits go to the select few? Even from a practical perspective, it's wasteful because the rich do not spend extra money but the middle class and poor will spend it.

Eurozone eyes second recession in two years

For those who are eager to see how austerity plays out, pay attention. Cutting spending and services will not help an economy grow as we're seeing in the UK and Europe. What will hurt the most in Europe is the slipping economy in Germany.
The euro zone now looks destined for its second recession in three years, according to business surveys that showed the economic rot is even spreading through Germany, the region's largest and strongest economy.

The 17-nation bloc's economy will contract 0.5-0.6 percent in the current quarter as orders for new business decline again, Markit's Purchasing Mangers' Index (PMI) suggested — far worse than the consensus in the latest Reuters poll.

A debt crisis which began in the euro zone's smaller economies is now hammering business and consumer confidence across the bloc, putting pressure on policymakers to take radical steps to help vulnerable countries such as Spain and Italy.
After spending the last four weeks in Southern France, my circumstantial evidence also pointed towards recession. Besides those from Northern France, people from Northern Europe love spending summer vacation in France but business owners were all concerned with lower numbers this year. More Americans are traveling (thanks to better exchange rates and stronger economy) but those numbers will always be small compared to home grown tourists.

Even upon my return to Paris, the usual empty streets of August were suddenly full. Europeans see the slowing economy and are putting the breaks on spending. It's possible that EU governments have learned a few lessons from the failed austerity programs, but not likely. With a fragmented political system in the EU, it won't be easy to climb back out of recession any time soon.

Mom released after 16 years

Crooked cops claim she killed her son 

Kristine Bunch was basking in the warm Indiana sunshine for the first time Wednesday following 16 years behind bars for a murder she said all along she didn't commit.

Jailers released the 38-year-old woman less than a half-hour after a judge granted her bail at the suggestion of prosecutors. The state plans to try her again on murder and arson charges for the 1995 fire that killed her 3-year-old son.

The whirlwind that followed her arrest in 1996, when she was accused of setting the blaze that destroyed her mobile home and claimed her son Tony's life.

The Indiana Court of Appeals last week ordered the local court to allow Bunch's release on bond while she awaits her second trial. The appeals court ordered a new trial in March, finding that the evidence used to convict her was outdated, weak and wrongly withheld from the defense.

Bunch's attorney said prosecutors "did exactly the right thing" by asking for a low bond, but he was disappointed they still planned another trial in light of scientific advances that he said suggest there was no real evidence of arson.

We see this again and again and again.

Crooked cops and crooked prosecutors can fuck with anybody they want.
And when they get caught withholding PROOF the guy was innocent, they say "My bad" and then they fuck the next guy.

And this was a decent-looking white lady.

How many THOUSANDS of "worthless niggers" died in prison for crimes they didn't commit?
Or are we talking about hundreds of thousands of innocent victims?

It's not even a crime to knowlingly frame a guy in "the world's greatest country."

Doesn't that make you sick?

The 10 Stupidest Criminals

Every once in awhile, we find proof that there's not much to understand of the criminal mindset. Here are the stories of the 10 Stupidest Criminals and their stupid crimes that are just too bizarre not to be true.

An inept robber needed help escaping from shop he'd tried to rob

A foolproof disguise and a meticulously planned getaway would rate highly on any armed robber’s to-do list. But such thoughts were clearly a long way from the mind of bungling raider James Allan. Allan’s catalog of errors began when he selected Martin's newsagent in Northcourt Road, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, as his target.

Four police departments join forces to find the 'Duct Tape Bandit'

With four banks robbed in less than three months, the Edmonds, Poulsbo, Redmond, and Stanwood Police Departments in Western Washington are collaborating to catch a bank robber dubbed the “Duct Tape Bandit.”

The robber is wanted for thefts at the Whidbey Island Bank in Stanwood on May 24, a KeyBank in Pouslbo on June 7, a Wells Fargo in Edmonds on June 20 and a First Citizens Bank in Redmond on Aug. 8.

In all four robberies, the man showed a gun and demanded money be placed in a white cloth bag. Police say he attacked a customer and employee during the robbery in Stanwood.

The man is described as in his mid 20s with short, light brown hair, about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a thin to medium build. Police believe he might have a tattoo on the inside of his left leg.

Police seek cats who beat and robbed man

Two suspects dressed in close fitting cat costumes - one with distinctive tail - beat and robbed a man in Hereford, Herefordshire, early on Monday morning. Detectives are studying CCTV footage of an attack that ranks amongst the most bizarre crimes ever committed in the county.
Both suspects came out of the College estate at around 5.20am this morning (Mon) to pounce on a man walking to work at the nearly Special Metals plant in Old School Lane.

Images from SWNS.

Security cameras at the plant captured the "cats" pushing the man into a concrete post and kicking him once he's down to rifle his bag for cash and a set of keys. The pair then ran off up Old School Lane towards the Pegasus football ground.

Detective Sergeant Tim Powell said one suspect was dressed in a "camouflage" looking costume with a distinctive tail, the other is in a burgundy costume. Both costumes came with "cat" ears.

Wig-wearing man went on early morning beef-jerky stealing spree

A bizarre burglary has police looking for a beef jerky bandit after surveillance video shows a wig-wearing man taking extreme measures to make sure nothing stood between him and his favorite late-night snack. Early Monday morning surveillance video at Mike’s Jerky on Menaul near Juan Tabo in northeast Albuquerque captured a convertible whipping through the parking lot.

A man, wearing a wig, gets out and means business. The man grabs a brick from his backseat. He throws it at the glass door several times and then rams his foot through the bottom half. With just enough room to get in the man squeezes through the shards of glass, slides in the store and goes for the goods. The store’s owner Michael Grier said he was stunned when he saw the video.

“We knew he put a lot of effort into it because he was wearing a wig, he had on glasses,” Grier said. Grier said more than 20 flavors of beef jerky line the walls of his store. He said its enough to satisfy many cravings but he never thought in his wildest dreams it would lead to someone cooking-up a plan like this. He said the beef jerky bandit knew what he was looking for.

“He grabbed all these, these ones were full the pepper and the salt of course,” Grier said. “Then he passed up all of these to go over her for the bacon [flavored] .” Grier said the bacon flavor has been out for only four weeks. It’s an original blend he concocted. Grier said he wonders if the beef jerky bandit is a huge beef jerky fan or if he's just out to make a profit. “I don't put anything past anybody when it comes to thievery,” he said. Grier said the man could probably make a few hundred bucks selling the stolen beef jerky.

Man who assaulted wife with ostrich egg because her pet pig damaged his tools jailed for six months

A New Zealand man who threw an ostrich egg at his wife because her pet pig damaged his tools has been sent to jail. Phillip Marau Glanville Russell, 47, lost his temper when he discovered the pig had caused $2500 of damage to his saw.

Russell was sentenced to six months' jail when he appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday, after earlier pleading guilty to charges including assault using an ostrich egg as a weapon.

He picked an argument with his wife of 20 years when she came home to their rural Waipawa property with their 9-year-old child in early July. He swore at her before spitting at her four or five times. He then grabbed a large ostrich egg from the kitchen table and threw it at her with force. The heavy egg hit her in the chest, causing bruising.

His lawyer, Antony Willis, said Russell had asked his wife repeatedly to keep the pig under control because it had damaged their house, their neighbor's house and council property. But his wife insisted it should be given free range. The offending occurred while Russell was subject to a sentence of supervision. He has been in custody since appearing in court on July 10.

Police warn of perils of driving with paint kept on back seat of cars

An unfortunate driver and his passengers in Australia found themselves whitewashed when a 25-litre bucket of paint which had been resting on the backseat of their car caused a bit of a mess following a minor shunt in a car park.

Chifley LAC (Local Area Commands) police in New South Wales posted this photo on its Facebook page with a safety reminder to always put paint, or any other not secure items, in the boot and not on the back seat.

Woman found suffering from hypothermia after 'sleep swimming'

A Burley, Idaho, woman who went missing in the early-morning hours of Tuesday was found safe after apparently swimming in the Snake River while asleep. According to a Cassia County Sheriff's report, the 31-year-old wife and mother has a history of sleep walking.

Deputies located her one other time disoriented and soaking wet in the city of Burley after apparently swimming in the river. This was the third incident in the past five weeks. After the Tuesday incident, a Cassia County judge issued an order to have the woman’s mental health evaluated and she was not found to be a danger to herself or others.

The woman’s husband called the sheriff’s office at 2:25 a.m. to report his wife missing after finding a sliding door in their home open. The woman apparently left the home in pajamas and barefoot. Mini-Cassia Search and Rescue was called out to assist with the search along with a neighbor and members of the couple's church.

The woman was located about a quarter of a mile downstream from her home on the Cassia County riverbank. She was wet and suffering from hypothermia. The woman was taken to Cassia Regional Medical Center by ambulance. According to the sheriff's report, a deputy told the woman's husband they needed to get help with the problem because in another month the temperatures will drop and the outcome could be more severe.

Sleepy woman flew from Pakistan to France and back again

A Frenchwoman endured an 18-hour journey from Lahore to Paris and back again after sleeping through her plane's stop in the French capital, officials said on Wednesday. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is investigating how ground crew failed to notice the woman during the plane's two-hour stopover at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

The woman, Patrice Christine Ahmed, who is married to a Pakistani, left Lahore at noon on Tuesday to fly to Paris via Milan, but did not wake up to get off the plane, airline spokesman Sultan Hassan said. The woman did not mention her mistake to cabin crew and the matter only came to light when she was stopped by immigration officials on arrival back in Lahore on Wednesday morning after a 12,000-kilometre round trip.

Hassan said PIA was investigating the incident and the French subcontractor responsible for passenger handling in Paris. "We have put questions to this French firm also about the incident but it is also the responsibility of the passenger to disembark at the destination," he said. "It is a passenger's responsibility to check about the destination and disembark when the plane arrives at the particular airport," he added.

PIA later arranged to send the woman back to Paris with another airline because none of its own flights were available, but said that the party responsible for the negligence will pay for the extra ticket. "It depends who is at fault. If it is a mistake by the local firm, they will pay and if the woman herself is responsible than she will have to bear the cost," Hassan said.

Surgeon Commandeers Pink Bike to Get to Work

Bausom on bikeDr. Catherine Baucom was on her way to the Elliot Mastology Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a patient was waiting for her to perform surgery on Wednesday morning. But an accident on I-10 created a huge traffic jam in which hundreds of cars were stopped. That's when Baucom took matters into her own hands, creating a scene right out of a Hollywood movie. She recognized the neighborhood, and knew a colleague that lived nearby.
"Catherine called, she was outside my house.  She said 'Hey do you have a bike?'  I walked outside and said yea, its a kids bike," said Dr. Brian Barnett.  After a quick test run, Dr. Baucom decided the bike was her only choice to get to the hospital.  "I got the air pump out and aired the tires up as much as I could."

He gladly loaned her his seven year old daughter's bike and helmet and the nearly six foot tall surgeon resumed her journey to the surgery center.

"It was hot pink and small," Dr. Baucom said, describing the bike.  "The helmet was pink with princesses."  He added he was laughing so much he couldn't get video of her before she peddled away.  "But she did utilize the plastic basket on front, to put her cell phone in.  Showed her experience with the bike."

She says she traveled down Tara Boulevard, onto Fairway Drive, crossed Jefferson Highway and over to Essen Lane.  When she reached I10, she was stopped by police.  After explaining the circumstances and where she was headed, she was escorted through to meet her patient.
The police couldn't resist taking some video of the doctor. More

Lance Armstrong to be Banned for Life, Stripped of 7 Tour de France Titles

The fight between Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is over:
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough,'" Armstrong, 40, wrote in a statement emailed to The Times and other news agencies.
"For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999."
Armstrong's attorneys asked a USADA attorney to turn the matter over to UCI, the international cycling union, but USADA maintains it retains jurisdiction to strip the titles.
Armstrong never tested positive for performance-enhancing use during his decade-plus of Tour races.
Now, as he abandons his impassioned fight against anti-doping authorities, the perception of an American hero who rallied from cancer to become champion of perhaps sport's most demanding endurance test has been recast.
Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times reports: here

California passes location privacy bill

For those who are not already familiar with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, you need to check them out. They're the best digital rights advocacy group out there and they sponsored this new privacy bill in California. We need to see more states adopt legislation like this that actually benefits consumers.
Location privacy scored a victory today when the California Assembly overwhelmingly passed an EFF-sponsored location privacy bill, SB 1434, on a bipartisan vote of 63-11.

The bill would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant anytime it requests location information from an electronic device. It codifies the Supreme Court's decision from earlier this year in United States v. Jones, which ruled that the installation of a GPS device for purposes of law enforcement investigation requires a search warrant. Having passed both chambers of the California legislature by a combined vote of 93-17, and assuming the Senate concurs with the version of the bill passed by the Assembly, the bill will soon land on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown.

The last EFF supported California privacy bill -- SB 914, which would have required police to obtain a search warrant before searching the contents of an arrested person's cell phone -- was vetoed by Governor Brown in 2011. In his opinion vetoing the bill (PDF), he wrote "courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections." But when it comes to location data, legislatures play an important part in protecting privacy for all of us.

What Happens While You Sleep And How It Affects Your Every Waking Moment

The Ancient Greeks believed that one fell asleep when the brain filled with blood and awakened once it drained back out. Nineteenth-century philosophers contended that sleep happened when the brain was emptied of ambitions and stimulating thoughts. Even today, sleep remains one of the most poorly understood human biological functions.

In Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, journalist David K. Randall explores 'the largest overlooked part of your life and how it affects you even if you don't have a sleep problem.' From gender differences to how come some people snore and others don't to why we dream, he dives deep into this mysterious third of human existence to illuminate what happens when night falls and how it impacts every aspect of our days.

Front yard gardener wins over officials with petition

We recently wrote about a fantastic front yard veggie garden in Drummondville, Quebec, which local officials wanted destroyed. Alejandro De La Cruz writes to say that they've backed down: not only will the garden stay, but the town publicly announced that it will implement new guidelines which explicitly permit it.
Drummondville town officials announced the decision [Ed note: Link is in French] this week during a special session of the Municipal Council to discuss the case. The decision could create a ripple effect in other cities worldwide as zoning laws are a constant debate in urban environments. Roger told us, “The Drummondville case was one of the highest profile examples of a local municipality challenging the right to grow food in one’s own yard. While it took place in Canada, it quickly attracted international media attention because of the garden’s beauty and productivity. The win is significant because it helps establish a precedent that other urban and suburban gardeners can refer to when similar challenges arise in other parts of the world.”

Millenials Say Thanks But No Thanks to Cars and Houses

Every generation is different, but in America, there's one thing that is constant: our love of cars. Owning a car has been a celebrated rite of passage for Americans since, ... well, since the invention of cars.
Until today. It seems that the Millenials have broken that tradition (they also don't like to buy houses), and that shift in attitude can cause a huge shift in the economy.
Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic explains:
... Millennials have turned against both cars and houses in dramatic and historic fashion. Just as car sales have plummeted among their age cohort, the share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 is half what it was just 10 years ago, according to a Federal Reserve study.
Needless to say, the Great Recession is responsible for some of the decline. But it’s highly possible that a perfect storm of economic and demographic factors—from high gas prices, to re-­urbanization, to stagnating wages, to new technologies enabling a different kind of consumption—has fundamentally changed the game for Millennials. The largest generation in American history might never spend as lavishly as its parents did—nor on the same things. Since the end of World War II, new cars and suburban houses have powered the world’s largest economy and propelled our most impressive recoveries. Millennials may have lost interest in both.

The Ten Most Impressive Polyglots In World History

Polyglotism is the ability to speak several languages with a high degree of proficiency. There is no consensus on exactly how many languages a person has to speak to be a polyglot. One could say 'four or more,' since speakers of two or three languages are commonly called bilingual and trilingual, respectively.

Throughout history, a few intrepid language enthusiasts have taken on the challenge of learning not one or two but dozens of languages. A few have even purportedly mastered as many as 100 distinct languages and dialects. Learn more about a few of these astonishing language learners, who just might inspire you to step up your own language learning game.

Town Set to Open Mysterious Century-Old Package

As a small Norwegian town prepares to open a mysterious century-old package, locals are speculating on what it could contain.

The Treasure of Lima

As reported in The Telegraph:
Shaun Whitehead is leading an archaeological expedition to Cocos Island, the supposed hiding place of the “Treasure of Lima” – one of the world’s most fabled missing treasures.
The haul – said to be worth £160 million – was stolen by a British trader, Captain William Thompson, in 1820 after he was entrusted to transport it from Peru to Mexico...

The team plan to use a small, unmanned helicopter, fitted with specialist cameras, to fly above the nine mile square island, which will enable them to make a computer-generated 3D map of the landscape.

They will then use a snakelike robot that can be dragged across the parts of island and, using ground penetrating radar, detect voids and cavities up to a depth of around 60ft. This data will be added to the 3D map to identify any likely concealed caves. After this, a team will use a specialist “keyhole” drill, which can reach more than 100ft, to dig down into the cave. A probe camera can be sent down through the 1in diameter. 
An original inventory showed 113 gold religious statues, one a life-size Virgin Mary, 200 chests of jewels, 273 swords with jewelled hilts, 1,000 diamonds, solid gold crowns, 150 chalices and hundreds of gold and silver bars.
PBS' NOVA has the background:
The most famous Cocos hoard of all is the "Great Treasure of Lima." In 1820, as the revolutionary José de San Martín advanced on Lima, the Spanish Viceroy realized he had better remove the stores of gold and silver under his command. Officials of the more than 50 Spanish churches in the city came to the same conclusion about their ecclesiastical riches, which included a solid-gold, gem-encrusted, life-size image of the Virgin Mary. Figuring that hiding this wealth anywhere near Lima would be foolish, the Viceroy entrusted it to a British sea captain named William Thompson, a known and respected trader in the region. The Viceroy's plan was to have Thompson sail around for several months, with the treasure stowed aboard his merchantman, the Mary Dear, until the political situation improved. Big mistake. A load of such value—at the time, Spanish officials deemed it worth between $12 and $60 million—proved too great a temptation to Thompson and his men. Once out of sight of land, they cut the throats of the Viceroy's appointed guard, tossed their bodies overboard, and made haste to Cocos, where they duly buried the treasure.made haste to Cocos, where they duly buried the treasure.
Thompson and his crew decided to split up until things simmered down, then reconnoiter to divvy up the spoils. But not long after leaving Cocos, the Mary Dear was picked up by a Spanish man-of-war. The crew was put on trial for piracy, convicted, and hung—all except for Thompson and his first mate, who agreed to lead their captors to the stolen goods if their lives were spared. Soon after they stepped on Cocos under an armed guard, however, Thompson and the mate suddenly hotfooted it into the jungle. Despite a protracted search, they were never found, and their frustrated captors finally left the island. According to some versions of the story, the pair were later picked up by a whaler and taken to Puntarenas, in Costa Rica, where the mate contracted yellow fever and died. For his part, William Thompson seems to have vanished from the pages of history shortly thereafter, and there is no indication that he ever returned to Cocos Island.

Testing out a Star Wars-style hover bike in the Mojave desert

I really, really hope that this is real and not another cruel hoax by Robert Zemeckis.
Popular Science says it's legit, and that you wouldn't need any special training to drive the thing:
Brought to you by aerospace firm Aerofex, the bike runs on a pair of powerful fans. It picks up on instinctive movements people make while riding a bicycle or motorbike, then moves in the same way (except, you know, flying), meaning anyone can have a go at it. For safety reasons, they've tested it at 30 mph and 15 feet high, although earlier versions of it went as fast as a helicopter.

Google Maps Travels North To Canada's Arctic

Google has embarked on a trip to build the most comprehensive map of Canada's Arctic region to date. It is the furthest north that the Google Maps Street View team has traveled in Canada, and marks the first time that it has set foot in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Residents of Cambridge Bay (picture above), a small northern hamlet, used Google Map Maker to add roads, rivers, lakes and other points of interest to the area's map. The tool, which allows locals to add their knowledge directly to Google Maps, supports Inuktitut, one of Nunavut's official languages.

The sun is round ...

Very, very, very round.  Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 584 Cache Twin-Prom-Sun 58429 600X450
The sun is the roundest natural object known to humans, according to new research. University of Hawaii researcher Jeffrey Kuhn and his colleagues used NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory to precisely measure the sun's shape. A precise understanding of the sun's roundness and the factors that shift its shape, such as sub-surface turbulence, could shed new light on changes in the Earth's climate. From National Geographic:
If the sun were a meter-wide (3.3-foot-wide) beach ball, Kuhn said, the variation in the sun's shape from the highest to the lowest point would be about 17 microns—less than the width of a fine human hair, according to the SDO measurements… Study leader Kuhn said his team is going to update computer models of the sun's cycle to see if and how the highly accurate shape affects their behavior.
"We're not done with measurements, though. We need to follow a full 11-year solar cycle to make sure the sun isn't fooling us," Kuhn said. "By doing that we can improve the accuracy even further."

The First Tarzan Yell

This clip is from the 1929 film Tarzan the Tiger. It was not the first Tarzan film, but the first with sound. Frank Merrill did his best to illustrate vocally what Edgar Rice Burroughs had written about. The final product sounds totally lame to our ears, after decades of hearing Johnny Weissmuller's iconic yodel. But was the yell we know so well really Weissmuller's? Mental_floss looks at the history of that yodel in a post called The Disputed History of the Tarzan Yell. More

Fish near Fukushima 258 more radioactive than legal limit

The problem seems to be the worst with fish that eat along the bottom of the sea, but this is still a significant problem.
Radioactive cesium measuring 258 times the amount that Japan's government deems safe for consumption has been found in fish near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported Tuesday.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. found 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in two greenlings in the sea within 20 kilometers of the plant on August 1 – a record for the thousands of Fukushima-area fish caught and tested since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to a nuclear disaster at the plant, Kyodo reported.

Japan's government considers fish with more than 100 becquerels per kilogram unsafe for consumption. A becquerel is a measurement of radioactive intensity.

Cobra Bites Man, Man Bites Back and Kills Cobra

Like the Captain says, "If someone tries to kill you, you try and kill 'em right back." A man in Nepal understood this rule and took revenge on a snake that bit him:
Nepali daily Annapurna Post said Mohamed Salmo Miya chased the snake, which bit him in his rice paddy on Tuesday, caught it and bit it until it died.
"I could have killed it with a stick but bit it with my teeth instead because I was angry," the 55-year-old Miya [...]

Helium-huffing gibbons sing like human sopranos

Humans were believed to have evolved our unique speaking ability through an evolutionary change in our anatomy, but an analysis of how gibbons sing under the effects of helium gas suggests otherwise. The study by Japanese scientists demonstrates that gibbons share the same vocal structure as humans, indicating that humans have simply learned to use our voices in a more complex way.

In their songs, gibbons use the same difficult vocal technique that soprano singers learn which allows them to put more power behind higher notes than lower ones, the researchers found. Dr Takeshi Nishimura, who led the study, said: "This is the first evidence that gibbons always sing using soprano techniques, a difficult vocalization ability for humans which is only mastered by professional opera singers.

"This gives us a new appreciation of the evolution of speech in gibbons while revealing that the physiological foundation in human speech is not so unique." Gibbons use their songs to communicate with neighbors and potential mates across up to two miles of jungle, producing a loud melody which is acoustically different to other primates. Researchers from Kyoto University recorded 20 calls made by gibbons in a zoo, and compared them with 37 calls made when the animals had breathed in helium.

The gas makes voices appear high-pitched and squeaky by altering the way our vocal tract processes the sounds we produce. In normal air the lowest frequencies of a gibbon's song are the loudest, but under the effect of helium the tuning of their vocal cords and resonance of the vocal tract changed to amplify higher frequencies. The results showed that gibbons are capable of consciously manipulating their vocal chords to make their signature calls. This suggests gibbons produce sounds in the larynx but use a filter to manipulate them, in the same way humans craft basic sounds into speech.

This is what a gibbon normally sounds like. And this is the sound of a gibbon after huffing helium. (Both links go to mp3s).

Animal Pictures