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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Daily Drift

Now that it's over we can see the secretive preparations for the repugican cabal.

Some of our readers today have been in:
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Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Panama City, Panama
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Puchong, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
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Seremban, Malaysia
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

30 BC Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt, commits suicide.
1617 Rosa de Lima of Peru becomes the first American saint to be canonized.
1721 The Peace of Nystad ends the Second Northern War between Sweden and Russia, giving Russia considerably more power in the Baltic region.
1781 The French fleet arrives in the Chesapeake Bay to aid the American Revolution.
1813 Creek Indians massacre over 500 whites at Fort Mims Alabama.
1860 The first British tramway is inaugurated at Birkenhead by an American, George Francis Train.
1861 Union General John Fremont declares martial law throughout Missouri and makes his own emancipation proclamation to free slaves in the state. President Lincoln overrules the general.
1892 The Moravia, a passenger ship arriving from Germany, brings cholera to the United States.
1932 Nazi leader Hermann Goering is elected president of the Reichstag.
1944 Ploesti, the center of the Rumanian oil industry, falls to Soviet troops.
1957 In an effort to stall the Civil Rights Act of 1957 from passing, Senator Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.) filibusters for over 24 hours. The bill passed, but Thurmond's filibuster becomes the longest in Senate history.
1961 President John F. Kennedy appoints General Lucius D. Clay as his personal representative in Berlin.
1983 Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford, Jr., becomes the first African-American astronaut to travel in space.

Non Sequitur


Retro Photo

We still do today

Poll: Americans think rich don't pay enough taxes

Uh oh. It looks like the teabagging repugicans are on the losing side of this debate.
The poll found that many Americans believe rich people to be intelligent and hard-working but also greedy and less honest than the average American. Nearly six in 10, or 58 percent, say the rich don't pay enough in taxes, while 26 percent believe the rich pay their fair share and 8 percent say they pay too much.

Even among those who describe themselves as "upper class" or "upper middle class," more than half — 52 percent — said upper-income Americans don't pay enough in taxes; only 10 percent said they paid too much. This upper tier was more likely to say they are more financially secure now than they were 10 years ago — 62 percent, compared to 44 percent for those who identified themselves as middle class and 29 percent for the lower class. They are less likely to report problems in paying rents or mortgages, losing a job, paying for medical care or other bills and cutting back on household expenses.
As this article mentions, it's not a problem that Romney is rich, but that he is strongly perceived as the candidate who will promote policies that mostly benefit the rich.

Did you know ...

Why republicans think leading from weakness will work

The west Nile virus - what is the actual risk?

Why Todd Akin thinks breastmilk cures homosexuality

Why do we yawn?

Romney wraps up nomination with low favorability ratings

Americans simply don't like the guy and a few speeches won't change that perception. Mitt Romney has no sense of compassion or appreciation for the struggles of others and he doesn't even try to understand. One can argue that Obama needs to stand up for the middle class in a more forceful way, but he at least invests energy into the process of helping someone other than the 1%.
Anyone who makes jokes about the "funny" times when his dad closed factories causing the loss of jobs doesn't have a clue. Throwing millions around still hasn't changed his perception of being an insensitive rich guy.
Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination for president this week with the lowest personal popularity of any major-party nominee in polls dating to Ronald Reagan's presidency, a difficulty for Romney that's persisted throughout this election cycle.

Forty percent of registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Romney favorably overall, while 51 percent rate him unfavorably - 11 points underwater in this basic measure, with a majority unfavorable score for just the second time in polls since last fall.

Barack Obama does better in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, but hardly well - 50-47 percent in favorable vs. unfavorable views among registered voters, essentially the same as his 2012 average in ABC/Post polls. On this, as on other measures, as hard as they've campaigned, views of the two hardly have budged.

American flag not good enough for Mitt Romney

Now who's the foreigner?

For a campaign and party that likes to race-bait President Obama as some kind of "foreign" entity (rnc chair Reinhold Reince Priebus got smacked down for doing it again earlier this week), Mitt Romney sure seems to have a problem with America.

First Mitt's family self-deported to Mexico in order to evade those pesky US anti-polygamy laws.

Then Mitt chose the Burmese dictatorship to make our 2002 Olympic uniforms, rather than good ole Americans.

And now, Romney is caught holding a campaign event, during the repugican cabal, on a ship flying a foreign flag, because apparently being proud of America costs Mitt too much in taxes, and when it's a choice between being proud of America and evading his taxes, Mitt always goes with the money.

Speaking of Mitt Romney's dearth of national pride, it's interesting to note that Romney also wasn't proud of the fact that America caught Osama bin Laden.  He even chastised President Obama for saying that he was proud that we caught OBL.  Why does Mitt Romney have such a problem with pride of (this) country?

And finally, just imagine what the repugicans would do if our candidate - Barack HUSSEIN Obama, as they like to note - were flying a foreign flag instead of the stars and stripes at a campaign event DURING the convention?  It would be THE central theme of the entire convention.

From ABC News, and they've got a photo of the ship not flying the American flag:
Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.

The exclusive event, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht "Cracker Bay," was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney's bid.

"I think it's ironic they do this aboard a yacht that doesn't even pay its taxes," said a woman who lives aboard a much smaller boat moored at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.
No more ironic than the repugicans nominating a candidate who doesn't even pay his taxes.

The truth hurts

A repugican cabal speaker says "I did build this" - he took stimulus money and $2m in government contracts

The jokes just write themselves at this point. "We did build it" - the guy says - uh no you didn't. He took $2m in government contracts and over $200,000 in stimulus money to "build" his company. So in fact, WE did build it - we the people, we the taxpayers, built this guy's firm. And he's on stage mocking President Obama, claiming he got no government help to build his business, and now we find out he did.
They really are pathetic.
Another small business owner featured at the repugican national cabal undercuts the Fox-fueled "We Built It" narrative surrounding the event.

Steven Cohen, president of Ohio-based manufacturing company Screen Machine Industries, is scheduled to speak tonight at the convention. According to a press release from his company announcing the speaking appearance, Cohen will speak on "political issues important to manufacturing." Much like Sher Valenzuela, the Delaware small business owner that was featured on "We Built It" day at the convention, Cohen's business has also received help from the government.

Screen Machine has received more than $2 million in government contracts, including nearly $220,000 in stimulus funds, and claims a "long and proud history of supplying heavy-duty American Made equipment to government agencies and the US Military."

The repugican cabal flooded by lies

The repugican party should have had a fighting chance of winning the 2012 Presidential election on the issues. Four years is more than enough time for voters to forget who created the current economic mess (hint: them).
Instead the 'We Built It!' convention is themed as a rebuttal to a statement that was never made. Here is what the President actually said:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
It is one thing to win a media cycle or two with an out-of-context quotation, but using a malicious mis-quotation as the whole convention theme is completely unprecedented. Faux News thinks it is 'ironic' that the Conference is 'using the President's 'own words' against him, but what is genuinely ironic here is the fact that as Issac headed towards the repugican cabal, repugican governors across the South were calling for precisely the type of assistance that Obama was talking about in his speech.

The idea behind this lie is that it is meant to demonstrate the President's 'hostility to small businesses'. And so the repugicans have a parade of small business owners to tell the convention how they built their businesses on their own without any government help apart from grants, loans, tax breaks and government infrastructure. In other words no government help apart from all the types of help that governments provide, and the very help the President was talking about.

Which gets me to the fundamentally stupid part of this whole 'We built it' charade: If businesses have no need of any form of government help whatsoever, then a Romney administration can't be any better for business than an Obama administration.  And we can forget about all those pesky tax cuts too.

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GOP attendee ejected for throwing nuts at African American CNN camera woman + saying "This is how we feed animals."@TakeActionNews 

The truth be told

Report on Putin: Life as a Galley Slave

It's not nearly as easy as you might think to be a modern tsar in Russia. The mansions, the yachts, the helicopters, the $75,000 toilets. It's rough. What's especially difficult is pretending that you're a simple guy, with simple tastes while so many struggle to reach even the middle class.
According to the report (which includes photos of the alleged mansions, yachts and jets) by his former deputy prime minister, Putin has amassed wealth far beyond what most even imagine. His greatest fear of giving up his leadership position is losing access to his luxurious lifestyle. (Accessing the report is not easy though this article includes photos of some of his properties.)

As Russians do join the middle class, will they continue to support Putin? For years my Russian friends and colleagues (who eventually all left Russia) tolerated it because there was a general movement upward for many. Now there is more frustration and a general realization that things may be about as good as it gets in Russia. Will that be enough for Putin?
There are the columned facades of palaces outside Moscow, in the southern resort of Sochi, and dozens more around the country. On an island in the center of Lake Valdai, stands a 930 hectare estate serviced by a 1,000-strong staff that includes a "presidential church, swimming pool, two restaurants, movie theater, bowling alley and concrete helipad".

The authors compare Putin's nearly two dozen official residences to the number held by other state rulers – two for the leaders of the United States and Germany, and three for the president of Italy. Nine of the villas were built while Putin was at the helm of the country, they note.

The leader has long attempted to present an image of average Russian machismo, staging regular photo ops with factory workers and bikers. Images of his stark home life stand in contrast to the meetings he holds in the Kremlin's gilded halls. During a televised meeting of his participation in Russia's nationwide census in 2010, Putin appeared on a drab beige sofa in one of the two modest flats he is officially registered as owning.
Yes indeed. Just a simple galley slave, as Putin calls himself.

Sri Lanka begins interviews for hangman and assistant

Sri Lanka's Prison Department yesterday began conducting interviews to select a new hangman. The interviews are being held at the main Welikada Prison in Colombo by a three-member panel, the Prisons Department said.

The Department are looking to fill two posts - the hangman and an assistant- out of 178 eligible candidates selected from the vast number of applications the department received .

Sri Lanka judiciary imposes capital punishment but has not implemented the death penalty since 1976. The government reinstated the death penalty in 2004 for murder, rape and drug trafficking following the murder of a high court judge.

Since 2000 there are 1,164 death row inmates languishing in jails waiting for execution or a final decision for commutation for execution. Some prisoners on death row at the moment have served over 15 years while waiting for their sentences to be carried out.

Spain's Ugliest Face Competition

faceHey, you. Yes, you, dear reader. There's an annual competition in Bilbao, Spain called the Concurso de Feos. There's something about you that makes me think you've got a great chance of winning.
Men and women, old and young, take the stage to contort their faces into the ugliest grimace possible -- and the grosser, the better.
If you watch the competitors closely enough, you can discern some clear trends and classic faces. For example, one of the more popular faces involves rolling one's eyes until only the whites are visible. This is frequently combined with extended tongues or a mouth that is pulled as wide as possible.
You can view a slideshow of contestants here.

The World's Longest Bus Can Hold 256 People

bus You'd think that this whopper, at 98 feet long, would be hard to maneuver. But the drivers of this new bus in Dresden, Germany won't need any extra training:
Said to be as easily maneuverable as a commonly sized bus, the Autotram Extra Grand makes use of a computer system to aid its driver with turning. The system's primary purpose is to ensure that the rear section of the bus precisely follows the front and middle sections at all times. In addition to the sophisticated guidance system, the bus incorporates green technology in the form of a hybrid gas and electric engine that can travel five miles operating purely on battery power.

Flight attendant's career breaks record

Ron Akana, 83, worked his last route over the weekend on a United Airlines flight from Denver to Kauai, ending his career in the state where it began.

A 128-year-old man denied free medical insurance cover for being too old for computer system

He is among the world’s oldest men, but cannot get what he needs most — medical insurance cover. Computers are frustrating Mzee Julius Wanyondu Gatonga’s efforts at getting the cover under the Kenyan National Hospital Insurance Fund. He is deemed too old for the system, since his ID indicates he was born in 1884; the computers only accept birth dates from 1890. For this reason, efforts by his family to have him covered under the NHIF hit a snag; his age is beyond the NHIF computer system, so his application to be a member was rejected due to his age.

Mzee Wanyondu from Mihuti village, Mukurwe-ini District in Nyeri County has had his name rejected several times once entered to be registered as a beneficiary of NHIF. Family members cannot understand the circumstances under which this was happening. “Unbelievable,” said 70-year-old John Nguru Wanyondu, the fourth child of Mzee Wanyondu. He said as a family they felt embarrassed by the feedback that their father was too old to be registered. “Our father is too old, and looking at his age, we don’t know what will happen next, so we are urging the authorities to consider his case and do something,” he said.

He says it is also embarrassing for the family as the system is insinuating that their father is supposed to be dead by now. Mr John Macharia, an agent of NHIF based in Mukurwe-ini, said the family members of Mzee Wanyondu visited his office seeking medical cover for their ageing parents. Mr Macharia said the family first sought to register their parents in March this year, but the old man’s name was rejected by the NHIF computer system. “The man has been regarded as being too old for the computer, despite the NHIF claim that there is no age limit with the fund,” said Mr Macharia.

He says they now use his 89-year old wife Beth Wanjiru as the contributor, because he has completely been rejected by the system. Mr Macharia says efforts to get help from the Nyeri NHIF Branch manager have hit a snag as he says he does not understand the error. “We tried all means to register Mzee, even through his wife’s details, but it still it declined to register him citing age,” added Mr Macharia. The NHIF systems only accept details of persons born after 1890, but for Mzee Wanyondu, the system fails to detect his age because he is older than the stipulated age limit. The family now regards this as an issue of age discrimination and an embarrassing computer glitch which needs to be fixed quickly before the medication for Wanyondu becomes urgent.

Can you prevent Autism?

Scientists recommend a variety of preventative measures for autism. For the past few decades, autism has been one of the scariest mysteries of parenting, with debate swirling around its definition, how rapidly the epidemic is growing, and most urgently, what causes it. 

That's why we were surprised to read a claim this weekend by science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff in the opinion section of The New York Times that scientists have figured it out: In at least a third of cases, autism is an auto-immune disorder that starts in the womb.

"The mother's attempt to repel invaders - her inflammatory response - seems at fault," the story says. A range of maternal issues from disorders like celiac disease, asthma and arthritis to getting sick during pregnancy in the most common ways--flu, urinary tract infections--have been shown to be significant risk factors for autism.

The story is a science-writer's synthesis (informed by a wide and reputable body of science) but has far-reaching implications for all pregnant women. Most surprisingly, it includes a twist on the autism-and-vaccines story, which is that the mother being vaccinated, even for common things like the flu, could be a risk factor for autism.

Current CDC guidelines and most obstetricians recommend routine vaccination during pregnancy.

Yahoo! Shine talked to a variety of experts and scientists whose research was quoted in the Times story, and found that the takeaways for pregnant women seem to be twofold. The first is that women with conditions like celiac disease, asthma, arthritis, metabolic syndrome or other auto-immune disorders should be aware that they are at a higher risk for having an autistic child.

The second is that all women may want to take sickness and infection during pregnancy more seriously, as a safety precaution.

"Everyone gets sick when they're pregnant and they don't all have autistic outcomes," Dr. Judy Van De Water told Yahoo! Shine. Dr. Van De Water is an immunologist who studies the immunobiology of autism in children at the MIND Institute at University of California, Davis. However, she says, "If you are exposed to something [while you are pregnant] and you respond very strongly to it, that could change factors that come from the immune system that affect neuro-development."

"Not every vaccination or flu episode is going to result in an autistic outcome," says Dr. Paul Patterson, a professor of biological science at CalTech whose research was also quoted in the Times story. "The factors involved are probably the genetics of the woman or the genetics of the fetus. Another factor would be the severity of the infection or the severity of the mother's response. The timing of the infection (first, second or third trimester). Not every infection results in an autistic outcome! One doesn't have to be scared to death, but it is a risk factor."

Dr Patterson's book Infectious Behavior: Brain-Immune Connections in Autism, Schizophrenia and Depression and his blog go into more detail about his thinking on autism, inflammation and what women can do. He told Yahoo! Shine that his research has shown in animals that "activating the mother's immune system artificially has the same effect on the offspring as the actual flu infection," a finding which implies questions about the safety of vaccination during pregnancy. "Getting a flu shot is controversial." Dr. Van De Water confirms.

Dr Van De Water recommends that women get their flu shot before they become pregnant. Dr Patterson suggests that women who decide not to get a flu shot while pregnant take "common-sense preventative measures that everyone already knows about but we don't do." These include: "Washing your hands constantly, especially when you have been out in public like going to the grocery store or putting gas in the car. Using anti-bacterial wipes on your hands. Avoiding people who are sick, like friends and relatives. Not eating raw meat, or don't change the cat litter."

As of yet, doctors do not have a universal screening method to predict which women are at risk to have autistic outcomes if they get sick during pregnancy. However, about 15 percent of mothers with autistic children have auto-antibodies in their blood. Auto-antibodies guarantee that the child will be an autistic, Dr Van De Water says, "100 percent of the time." An auto-antibody test for widespread usage is under development.

Though pregnant women want to take every precaution not to get sick, ironically, Moises Velasquez-Manoff's argument locates the source of the modern increase in auto-immune disorders to people not getting sick often enough. It's what's known as "the hygiene theory," which posits that the human immune system evolved to cope with the filthy and disease-ridden conditions of a previous era. Without microbes and parasites as a foil, it is more likely to function improperly, causing all kinds of health consequences including autism.

It's all in the Genes

Gene predicts happiness in women

A new study has found a gene that appears to make women happy, but it doesn’t work for men.
Continue Reading

Malaysian tribe could help find East Asian skin color genes

Genetic investigation of a Malaysian tribe may tell scientists why East Asians have light skin but lower skin cancer rates ...
Continue Reading

Retro Photo

Alice's Bucket List

Alice PyneWhen British teenager Alice Pyne found she had terminal cancer, she made a "bucket list" of things she wanted to do before she died. That was four years ago. One year ago, she started a blog and posted her list, but acknowledged that "some are possible, some will remain a dream." 
She quickly became something of an Internet sensation – the hashtag #alicebucketlist began trending on Twitter, attracting the attention of celebrities from David Cameron, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Johnny Depp, according to the Huffington Post. The hashtag even became the top trending term one morning in June, The Guardian reported.

Through her Internet stardom, Pyne has managed to get 40,000 people to join the Bone Marrow Register, according to ITV News. But Pyne, cognizant of her terminal illness, hopes the trend will continue far into the future. “It’s really good that I’m getting so many people to join the register, but what about when I’m not here?” she wrote in 2011. “I don’t want it all to stop.” Pyne then explained her next mission: to have large card companies such as Hallmark, Camden, and Phoenix become involved in spreading the word as well.
And just recently, a company in Vancouver arranged for Alice to accomplish the last thing on her original list.
Whale watching was probably one of the main things on my bucket list and I've wanted to go for as long as I can remember but I'd kind of accepted that I would never get to do this one. I wanted to see Orca whales in their natural habitat and without me knowing, Mum had been chatting to Nicole at Mackay Whale Watching to set things up. I first chatted to Nicole about a year ago cos she sent me a You Tube video that she'd made of whale watching. At the beginning, it has her dad saying "welcome aboard Alice" and I can't tell you how amazing it was to hear him say that to my face! Yes, it was a bit mad as we couldn't get full insurance but mum and dad had decided that they needed to get me there regardless and as I was on what we call 'a good spell', they just took me!
Congratulations, Alice! Link to story. Link to blog

Artist Explores the Sea in Her Wheelchair

Sue Austin
Sue Austin, an artist in the UK, can see the wonders of the ocean without leaving her wheelchair:
To move through oceanic depths, the wheelchair uses a propeller and fins positioned at the back of Austin’s legs that allow her to steer via an acrylic strip attached to her feet. According toSmartPlanet, the design originally proved challenging since most propeller models rely on hand movements, but Austin lacks the strength to maneuver them properly. Instead, the team worked to make her wheelchair more buoyant by modifying the heel plates into fins and tweaking the seat to cope better with underwater pressure.
At the link, you can watch a mesmerizing video of Ms. Austin moving easily through the water.
More | Artist's Website

Nine Substances That Only Exist In Sci-Fi

Soaring through space at warp speed, traveling through time, and being indestructible are, unfortunately, all out of the reach of present-day science. The technologies we need to achieve wondrous feats such as these remain a mystery to us.

Luckily, science-fiction creators are not bound by the known and can use their imagination to fill in the gaps in current understanding, creating marvelous substances that can achieve the seemingly impossible. Here follows a summary of some of the most famous substances that only exist in our collective imagination.

The Fastest Winda and Category 6 Hurricanes

Fastest Wind: Hurricane Isaac vs. Mt. Washington

Hurricane Isaac may pack some fast winds, but a Mount Washington gust still holds the U.S. wind speed record. Read more
hurricane isaac wind

Will Hurricanes Ever Reach Category 6?

Scientists predict an increase in strong hurricanes with global warming. Will we have to revise the rating scale? Read more

Hurricane Risks: Surprising Map Shows Vulnerable Areas

More than 60 percent of hurricane-related deaths occur inland and away from the ocean.  
Read more
hurricane map

A waterspout whips across the Adriatic Sea

Waterspout 2Waterspout 3Waterspout 4Waterspout 5Waterspout 6Waterspout 7
While out for a walk one humid day, a photographer and his friend suddenly spotted a waterspout offshore. This amazing sequence of pictures captures what happened. More

Blood Red Camargue River Delta

Russian photographer Sam Dobson was passing through Southern France when he noticed something unusual: the river delta Camargue has turned blood red due to its high salt content.
With every small branch encrusted with salt crystals and all flora and forna encased in white and set against the dark red background, the pictures could have been taken from the stills of a science fiction film.
Mr Dobson said: 'Every small branch is covered with crystals and with the red water as a background it looks like something extra-terrestrial.
The Daily Mail has more: here.

Tweleve Water Castles

A water castle is a castle or stately home whose site is entirely surrounded by moats or natural water bodies. The water that surrounds the castle was used as an obstacle to hinder an attacker. In many places in Europe, castles that had formerly been fortified changed their role or were converted over the course of time so that they became largely representational and residential buildings.

The first written words of the English language

The earliest known example of written words of the English language are preserved not in a book or manuscript, but in a medallion - the Undley Bracteate, which dates to the 5th century:
Believed to have been made in southern Denmark and brought to England by some of the earliest Germanic-speaking settlers, the Bracteate features a helmeted head, a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus and a runic inscription…

It says "maegae medu" – the word "medu" is well known in old English, it means reward or gift. "Maga" certainly means kinsman or colleague or chief or something like that. The thing that nobody knows is another word from the inscription – gaegogae. What on earth does that mean? The a and e are actually a symbol – it’s pronounced ga-go-ga. The Library are guessing that it might mean she-wolf or it might just be some sort of magical incantation – it sounds a bit like that...
It was found by a farmer plowing a field.

The Goddess Temples of Malta

The island of Malta was inhabited in approximately 5200 BC, by a highly developed neolithic people. The great temples of Malta, are some of the oldest free standing structures known, and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The temples themselves date to about 3000 BC. There have been remains of about 50 temples on the island of Malta. In these temples, arti
facts of pottery, bones, figurines of women and signs of fire have been discovered. At some point, it is said that red ochre covered some of the walls in these temples. The well known "Sleeping Goddess of Malta" figure, was found in the temple Hal Saflien. It is also said, that at the Mnajdra temple complex, some of the stones are aligned with the sunrise on the winter and summer solstices , and also the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Find out more about Malta neolithic Temples here.

Fossils That Witnessed Creation of the World

We aren't going to bother you with plenty of scientific information. It's the interest of geochronology specialists. We'll just say that the river of Taimyr - Kotuikan has shredded Anabarskoye plateau and exposed the geological strata that had formed three and a half billion years ago. The former bottom of the Archean sea turned into sedimentary rock and having destroyed under the impact of water and wind it reveals fossilized lamellar stomatolithic formations. Their shapes are rather weird: some resemble a football, others - a tortoise shell... Nature is still the best artist... More

Science News from a British perspective

Chimp grooming postcode lotteryChimpanzee grooming

Chimpanzee grooming habits are influenced more by where they live than by genetic or ecological influences, according to research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Binary systemDouble-star system hosts planets

A new study shows that planetary systems can form and survive in the chaotic environment around pairs of stars.

Wild Nature of Russia 2012

"National Geographic Russia" magazine and the Russian geographic community have held a photo contest "Wild Nature of Russia 2012". The photos must be taken all over Russia and feature landscapes, wild animals in natural habitat, underwater shots etc. Only Russians can participate in the contest. Below are some photos from the contest held last year. More

Some Sweets For a Bear

They feed bears right on the road. Bears don't come alone, lots of them get used to get some tasty human food. There is a belief that if a bear once tries one of those he would return back for more again and again... and if one day they don't find the treats an unlucky human can experience true bear food addiction rage. Though till then it looks like fun... More

Runaway Jack Russell took 50-mile train trip to London

Footage has emerged of Frankie the dog catching a busy commuter train from Gravesend to London in the middle of the morning rush hour. The clip shows Jack Russell Frankie, six, darting through the legs of busy commuters before hopping onto a carriage at Gravesend Station, Kent last week. Once on-board the Southeastern service to London King's Cross, Frankie quickly found a window seat - much to the surprise of his fellow commuters.

Photo from SWNS.

The intrepid hound had already made his way 1.6 miles to the train station after sneaking out of his front door as his owner left for work. However, after half-an-hour as a stowaway, Frankie's freedom was eventually cut short when he was scooped up just minutes from King's Cross by train manager Richard Cheeseman.

The Jack Russell was eventually reunited with his worried owner Jane Abbott, 47, after a member of the train staff rang the contact number on his collar. Mrs Abbott had been searching her home and neighbourhood for hours and was shocked when Frankie eventually turned up 50 miles away in London. "What we don't understand is why Frankie chose rail. He's never been on a train before," she said.

Mrs Abbott and her daughter Stephanie spent £59 to buy tickets to collect their beloved pet. Frankie was excused from paying the £17.80 usually needed to buy a ticket for his journey. In a statement Southeastern rail said: "We're pleased we were able to help reunite Frankie and his owners."

The Burrowing Owl

The Smallest Species Of Owl
There are a number of things which separate the burrowing owl from other species. The first clue is in the name. Another is that they are the smallest species of owl on the planet and usually they are not more than half a pound in weight and reach around ten inches in height. They also come out in the day time, unlike most other owls.

The Mystery of the Monster Larva Solved

Photo: Darryl L. Felder
For two hundred years, scientists have wondered what the monster larva Cerataspis montrosa (above) pulled from the guts of fish would look like when it's all grown up. Well, mystery solved:
"It's very exciting to have solved a nearly 200-year-old conundrum," Keith Crandall, a biology professor at George Washington University, said in a statement.
Drawing from genetic evidence, Crandall reported in the journal Ecology and Evolution this month that the larva, Cerataspis monstrosa, is actually a baby version of the deep-water aristeid shrimp known as Plesiopenaeus armatus.
Making this match-up between the baby and adult forms was not as easy as finding a larger version of the larva. In fact, the two couldn't look more different, the researchers said. C. monstrosa has a thick body covered in armor with "exceptional horn ornamentation," the researchers write. Yellowfin and blackfin tuna and dolphins prefer this "monstrous and misshapen animal," as the larva was called, for prey — and it was in these predators' gut contents that scientists had encountered the monster larvae.
LiveScience has the story: here.

Deep-Sea Anglerfish Filmed For the First Time in Its Native Habitat


Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has filmed for the first time a deep-sea anglerfish in its native habitat off the ocast of California, at depths of 7,800 to 10,800 feet below the ocean's surface.
From the BBC:
Using a remote-operated vehicle, biologists observed the fish "walking" with its fins and using its namesake lure.
Scientists suggest the footage also shows that the fish change colour as they age. [...]
"[Our results] reveal a little more information about an animal that lives 3200 metres below the ocean's surface that no one has ever seen before," said Senior Research Technician at MBARI Lonny Lundsten, "and we've got gorgeous HD video of it!"
Like Nancy Sinatra once said, these fins are made for walking: Hit play or go to Link [YouTube]

Flesh Eating Seagulls Devour Whales Alive

Right whales off the coast of Argentina face the gruesome threat of being slowly eaten alive by birds every time they take a breath. Read more
Flesh Eating Seagulls Devour Whales Alive

Why Are Dalmatians Linked to Firefighters?

These days any fire stations that actually have dalmatians just keep them around for the sake of appearances, but if you've ever wondered why they chose the spotted dogs in the first place, there's actually a good reason:
In the 1800s, fire engines were horse-driven carriages. Unfortunately, horses and much of the other equipment found in a fire station were a prime target for thieves...Eventually the solution became clear: a watchdog...Horses are not solitary animals...Left alone too long, they grow restless and neurotic. Dalmatians, it was discovered, more than any other breed of dog, formed an amazingly close bond with horses once they were introduced. They also became quite protective and possessive of their equine friends, so it became impossible for anyone to try to spirit away a horse under cover of the night.

A Grizzly Encounter

Hiker wins Darwin Award
The grizzly bear stares at the camera with a look that appears ominous in the last photograph snapped by Richard White just before the animal mauled him to death in Alaska's Denali National Park.

The photo is among 26 snapshots of the male bear taken in an eight-minute time frame by the 49-year-old San Diego backpacker on Friday afternoon. National Park Service investigators are scrutinizing the images, hoping to gain a better understanding of the attack as well as confirm estimates based on the photos that the bear was between 35 and 45 meters from White.

"Definitely way too close," chief park ranger Pete Webster said on Monday.

The Largest Moth in the World

The Atlas Moth, Attacus atlas, is the world's biggest moth by wing area. Find out where and how it lives. More

Animal Pictures