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

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Daily Drift

This is why I love the Smoky Mts. by picturesinmylife_yls on Flickr.
This is why the gods say when asked where the want to live - "Carolina, naturally!"

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Today in History

1630   The town of Boston is founded by John Winthrop as an extension of the colony at Salem. It is named after the town of the same name in Lincolnshire, England.
1787   The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia approves the constitution for the United States of America.
1796   President George Washington delivers his "Farewell Address" to Congress before concluding his second term in office.
1862   The Battle of Antietam in Maryland, the bloodiest day in U.S. history, commences. Fighting in the corn field, Bloody Lane and Burnside's Bridge rages all day as the Union and Confederate armies suffer a combined 26,293 casualties.
1868   The Battle of Beecher's Island begins, in which Major George "Sandy" Forsyth and 50 volunteers hold off 500 Sioux and Cheyenne in eastern Colorado.
1902   U.S. troops are sent to Panama to keep train lines open over the isthmus as Panamanian nationals struggle for independence from Colombia.
1903   Turks destroy the town of Kastoria in Bulgaria, killing 10,000 civilians.
1917   The German Army recaptures the Russian Port of Riga from Russian forces.
1939   With the German army already attacking western Poland, the Soviet Union launches an invasion of eastern Poland.
1942   British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meets with Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in Moscow as the German Army rams into Stalingrad.
1944   British airborne troops parachute into Holland to capture the Arnhem bridge as part of Operation Market-Garden. The plan called for the airborne troops to be relieved by British troops, but they were left stranded and eventually surrendered to the Germans.
1947   James Forestall is sworn in as first the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
1957   The Thai army seizes power in Bangkok.
1959   The X-15 rocket plane makes its first flight.
1962   The first federal suit to end public school segregation is filed by the U.S. Justice Department.
1976   The Space Shuttle is unveiled to the public.

Non Sequitur


Complaints about automated calls up sharply

By Jennifer C. Kerr
In this photo taken Aug. 20, 2012, Robert Madison talks about receiving automated marketing calls, outside his office in Overland Park, Kan. Complaints to the government are up sharply about unwanted phone solicitations, raising questions about how well the federal “do-not-call” registry is working. The biggest category of complaint: those annoying pre-recorded pitches called robocalls that hawk everything from lower credit card interest rates to new windows for your home. "I am completely fed up," Madison said. "I've repeatedly asked them to take me off their call list." When he challenges their right to call, the solicitors become combative, he said. "There's just nothing that they won't do." (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
So much for silence from telemarketers at the cherished dinner hour, or any other hour of the day.
Complaints to the government are up sharply about unwanted phone solicitations, raising questions about how well the federal "do-not-call" registry is working. The biggest category of complaint: those annoying prerecorded pitches called robocalls that hawk everything from lower credit card interest rates to new windows for your home.
Robert Madison, 43, of Shawnee, Kan., says he gets automated calls almost daily from "Ann, with credit services," offering to lower his interest rates.
"I am completely fed up," Madison said in an interview. "I've repeatedly asked them to take me off their call list." When he challenges their right to call, the solicitors become combative, he said. "There's just nothing that they won't do."
Madison, who works for a software company, says his phone number has been on the do-not-call list for years. Since he hasn't made any progress getting "Ann" to stop calling, Madison has started to file complaints about her to the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the list.
Amid fanfare from consumer advocates, the federal do-not-call list was put in place nearly a decade ago as a tool to limit telemarketing sales calls to people who didn't want to be bothered. The registry has more than 209 million phone numbers on it. That's a significant chunk of the country, considering that there are about 84 million residential customers with traditional landline phones and plenty more people with cellphone numbers, which can also be placed on the list.
Telemarketers are supposed to check the list at least every 31 days for numbers they can't call. But some are calling anyway, and complaints about phone pitches are climbing even as the number of telemarketers checking the registry has dropped dramatically.
Government figures show monthly robocall complaints have climbed from about 65,000 in October 2010 to more than 212,000 this April. More general complaints from people asking a telemarketer to stop calling them also rose during that period, from about 71,000 to 182,000.
At the same time, fewer telemarketers are checking the FTC list to see which numbers are off limits. In 2007, more than 65,000 telemarketers checked the list. Last year, only about 34,000 did so.
Despite those numbers, the FTC says the registry is doing an effective job fighting unwanted sales calls.
"It's absolutely working," Lois Greisman, associate director of the agency's marketing practices division, said in an interview with The Associated Press. But, she said, "the proliferation of robocalls creates a challenge for us."
Greisman said prerecorded messages weren't used as a major marketing tool in 2003, when the registry began. "In part because of technology and in part because of greater competitiveness in the marketplace, they have become the marketing vehicle of choice for fraudsters," she said.
For people trying to scam people out of their money, it's an attractive option. Robocalls are hard to trace and cheap to make.
With an autodialer, millions of calls can be blasted out in a matter of hours, bombarding people in a struggling economy with promises of debt assistance and cheap loans. Even if a consumer does not have a phone number on the do-not-call list, robocalls are illegal. A 2009 rule specifically banned this type of phone sales pitch unless a consumer has given written permission to a company to call.
Political robocalls and automated calls from charities, or informational robocalls, such as an airline calling about a flight delay, are exempt from the ban. But those exemptions are being abused, too, with consumers complaining of getting calls that begin as a legitimate call, say from a charity or survey, but then eventually switch to an illegal telemarketing sales pitch.
Robocalls can be highly annoying to consumers because they're hard to stop. Fraudsters use caller-ID spoofing so that when a person tries to call back the robocaller, they get a disconnected number or something other than the source of the original call.
The best thing people can do when they get an illegal robocall is to hang up. Do not press "1'' to speak to a live operator to get off the call list. If you do, the FTC says, it will probably just lead to more robocalls. The caller will know you're there and willing to answer, and may continue to call.
The FTC says people can also contact their phone providers to ask them to block the number. But be sure to ask whether they charge for that. Telemarketers change caller-ID information often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will soon change.
The industry says most legitimate telemarketers don't utilize robocalls to generate sales.
"They give a bad name to telemarketers and hurt everybody," says Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at Direct Marketing Association, a trade group.
Cerasale says the do-not-call list has resulted in telemarketers making far fewer cold calls to random people. Instead, he says, marketers have shifted to other methods of reaching people, such as mail, email or targeted advertisements on websites. That, he said, could be one of the reasons that the number of telemarketers checking the registry has dropped so sharply.
In light of the increased complaints, the FTC is stepping up efforts to combat robocalls. It recently released two consumer videos to explain what robocalls are and what to do about them. It also announced an October summit to examine the problem and explore the possibility of emerging technology that might help trace robocalls and prevent scammers from spoofing their caller ID.
Enforcement is another tool. The FTC has brought cases against about a dozen companies since 2009, including Talbots, DirecTV and Dish Network. The cases have yielded $5.6 million in penalties.
The agency said this month that it was mailing refund checks to more than 4,000 consumers nationwide who were caught up in a scam where the telemarketer used robocalls from names like "Heather from card services" to pitch worthless credit card rate reduction programs for an up-front fee. Checks to consumers range from $31 to $1,300 depending on how much was lost.
To file a complaint with the FTC, people can go online to www.ftc.gov or call 888-382-1222 to report their experience for possible enforcement.

Americans overwhelmingly want limits to cash in elections

It's unfortunate that the repugican cabal is against delivering what Americans want. The numbers aren't even close yet the repugican cabal wants to maintain the status quo.
More than 8 in 10 Americans in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center support limits on the amount of money given to groups that are trying to influence U.S. elections.

But they might have to change the Constitution first. The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United case removed limits on independent campaign spending by businesses and labor unions, calling it a constitutionally protected form of political speech.

"Corporate donations, I think that is one of the biggest problems today," said Walter L. Cox Sr., 86, of Cleveland. "They are buying the White House. They are buying public office."

Pennsylvania still a battleground state?

If this latest poll is accurate, it hardly sounds like it.
President Obama, already ahead in Pennsylvania, received a small bump from the Democratic National Convention and now leads Mitt Romney in the state by 11 points, according to the Inquirer Pennsylvania Poll.

But with eight weeks left before the Nov. 6 election, with debates yet to be held, and with foreign affairs suddenly atop the national agenda, it's early to concede the state to Obama, a bipartisan team of Inquirer pollsters said.

"I'm not 100 percent prepared to say Pennsylvania is not in play," said Adam Geller, of National Research Inc., a repugican firm.
Maybe Pennsylvania is 99%?

The truth be told


Santorum: "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side"

Failed repugican presidential candidate, former US Senator, and all around gay-hating guy, Rick Santorum told a religious right conference (sponsored by a number of officially-designated "hate groups") that smart people will never support religious right repugicans.

Santorum seems to have missed the irony.

Let's dissect Santorum's statement (which is below).

1. Smart people will never be on your side - but the audience, made up of religious right leaders from around the country, is on your side.  Thus religious right leaders are not "smart people."

2. If you really had the correct policy prescriptions for America, wouldn't you think "smart people" would embrace that?  I mean, do you think "dumb" people are better able to determine the life of a fetus than "smart" people?  Are dumb people better able to analyze the science on global warming and determine whether or not it's a hoax?  On gay rights, are dumb people really more capable at determining whether there's a constitutional right to civil rights for gays?  And finally (but not limited to), health care reform - you really think dumb people are better than smart people and determining its constitutionality, let alone whether health care reform is the best approach, among those available, at helping more Americans get more affordable, and better, health care without hurting the economy, et ?

I'm sorry, but when you have a brain tumor, you don't seek out a dumb doctor.  When the IRS audits you, you don't hire a dumb accountant.  No one wants a dumb banker, or a dumb lawyer.

It's seems the only time you really want someone dumb is when Rick Santorum and the religious right are stumping for votes.

That ought to tell them something.  But it clearly doesn't.

I'm reminded of a quote from high school (from the poet TS Eliot to be exact), "we had the experience but missed the meaning."

Perhaps they're just too dumb to get the irony.

PS I still can't read stuff like this and not see the word "Jew" hidden between the lines.  Maybe it's just me.

Rick Santorum at the hate group sponsored Values Voter Summit 2012:
"[T]he media doesn't go along with us. You have to understand that. They don't like conservatism. They like the other side. Not necessarily, I would argue, because they necessarily agree with them -- it's because they can influence the country more. You see, if just a few people make decisions about what this world looks like and what this country looks like, well then you can have people sitting in offices -- the major media outlets and in Hollywood -- they can deal with a small group of people, and influencing them and getting them to jump through the hoops they want them to. It's much harder if all of you collectively build America. It's much harder to influence you. We will never have the media on our side -- ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do. So our colleges and our universities, they're not going to be on our side."

Romney's tax plan to significantly increase taxes

Voodoo economics have been a hallmark of repugican politics since the Reagan years. Much like Mitt Romney's MIA tax documents, his proposed tax plan is murky and he's been unwilling to provide many details. Studies are now showing that the Romney plan is likely to hit typical repugican voters hard.
The rich will of course get their massive tax cuts but the upper middle class will lose deductions and pay considerably more than before. LA Times:
Mitt Romney's budget plan would significantly raise income taxes for many families making between $100,000 and $200,000, analyses by leading repugican economists cited by the Romney campaign show.

The repugican analyses were designed to rebut the Democratic charge that Romney's plan would "increase taxes for the middle class." The studies conclude that the plan could work as Romney has said, but that doing so would require eliminating all or most deductions and credits for households with income over $100,000. That would include wiping out such popular tax provisions as the deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.

Campaign debate so far has largely focused on the 2% of taxpayers with the highest incomes — whose taxes President Obama wants to increase — and those with earnings in the middle range of U.S. incomes. Much less attention has focused on the large number of families whose incomes are twice the national median or higher but whom Romney has defined as part of the middle class.

District Attorneys rent out their letterhead to debt collectors, split the shakedown loot

Over 300 US district attorneys have made arrangements with strong-arm debt collectors, through which the debt collectors send out threatening notices on the DAs' letterhead to people who've allegedly bounced checks, and split the payments they get back (including hefty "service fees" levied by the collectors) with the DAs' offices. Jessica Silver-Greenberg writes in the NYT:
Debt collectors have come under fire for illegally menacing people behind on their bills with threats of jail. What makes this approach unusual is that the ultimatum comes with the imprimatur of law enforcement itself — though it is made before any prosecutor has determined a crime has been committed.
Prosecutors say that the partnerships allow them to focus on more serious crimes, and that the letters are sent only to check writers who ignore merchants’ demands for payment. The district attorneys receive a payment from the firms or a small part of the fees collected.
“The companies are returning thousands of dollars to merchants that is not coming at taxpayer expense,” said Ken Ryken, deputy district attorney with Alameda County.
Consumer lawyers have challenged the debt collectors in courts across the United States, claiming that they lack the authority to threaten prosecution or to ask for fees for classes when no district attorney has reviewed the facts of the cases. The district attorneys are essentially renting out their stationery, the lawyers say, allowing the companies to give the impression that failure to respond could lead to charges, when it rarely does.
“This is guilty until proven innocent,” said Paul Arons, a consumer lawyer in Friday Harbor, Wash., about two hours north of Seattle.
In Prosecutors, Debt Collectors Find a Partner

Inside America's Poorest County

johnny noble

Inside America's Poorest County

A look at the people of Owsley County, Kentucky -- the poorest county in the United States.

Chase, Bank of America scrutinized in money-laundering inquiry

By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess
Federal and state authorities are investigating a handful of major U.S. banks for failing to monitor cash transactions in and out of their branches, a lapse that may have enabled drug dealers and terrorists to launder tainted money, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
These officials say they are beginning one of the most aggressive crackdowns on money-laundering in decades, intended to send a signal to the nation’s biggest banks that weak compliance is unacceptable.
Regulators, led by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, are close to taking action against JPMorgan Chase for insufficient safeguards, the officials said. The agency is also scrutinizing several other Wall Street giants, including Bank of America.
The comptroller’s office could issue a cease-and-desist order to JPMorgan in coming months, an action that would force the bank to plug any gaps in oversight, according to several people knowledgeable about the matter. But the agency, which oversees the nation’s biggest banks, has not yet completed its case.
JPMorgan is in the spotlight partly because federal authorities accused the bank last year of transferring money in violation of U.S. sanctions against Cuba and Iran.
In addition to the comptroller, prosecutors from the Justice Department and the Manhattan district attorney’s office are investigating several U.S. financial institutions, according to several law enforcement officials.
The surge in investigations, compliance experts say, is coming now because authorities were previously inundated with problems stemming from the 2008 financial turmoil.
“These issues may have been put on hold during the financial crisis, and now regulators can go back to focus on money-laundering and other compliance problems,” said Alma M. Angotti, a director at Navigant, a consulting firm that advises banks on complying with anti-money-laundering rules.
Until now, investigators have primarily focused on financial transactions at European banks, most recently Standard Chartered. The authorities accused several foreign banks of flouting U.S. law by transferring billions of dollars on behalf of sanctioned nations.
As the investigation shifts to U.S. shores, the Justice Department and the Manhattan district attorney’s office are moving beyond those violations to focus on money-laundering, in which criminals around the globe try to hide illicit funds in U.S. bank accounts. If these new cases follow the pattern of previous ones, prosecutors could follow up on regulatory actions with their own complaints.
Despite shortcomings, banks spend millions of dollars a year to guard against money-laundering. Compliance experts argue that violations are typically unintentional and often harmless because they aren’t always exploited by criminals. Banks also say that they are not the ones with lapses, pointing to check cashers and money transfer companies.
Still, prosecutors and regulators have spotted gulfs in the way financial institutions oversee suspicious cash transfers, according to the federal and state officials.
Under the Bank Secrecy Act, financial institutions like banks and check-cashers must report any cash transaction of more than $10,000 and bring any dubious activity to the attention of regulators. The federal law also requires banks to have complex controls in place to detect any criminal activity.
The comptroller’s office, JPMorgan and Bank of America declined to comment.
Federal officials are now examining whether problems run even deeper and if criminals have managed to exploit these vulnerabilities.
An example of how criminals can evade the system surfaced in a federal drug case in a Texas court this summer. Mexican drug cartels hid proceeds from cocaine-trafficking in two accounts at Bank of America, according to law enforcement testimony in the case, and some of the money was used to buy racehorses.
Bank of America was not accused of wrongdoing, and the comptroller’s office has said it is unlikely to bring an action related to the case, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Authorities have not disclosed the scope of their inquiries at Bank of America and JPMorgan, or the period being examined.

Goldman average pay to fall to only $314,000 this year

Oh the humanity! Don't we all shed a tear for the leading team that ran the global economy into the ground? While we will hear plenty of cries and complaints of evil socialism, the pampered class of Wall Street still doesn't get that they are the ones who caused the crash through their greed.

The deregulation that they had to have in the 1990s happened and it only took them a few years to see the results. New Wall Street regulations are having an impact, though we still need more disclosure and more control over the Wild West gamblers. They have proven over and over that they can't be trusted, nor should they be trusted with controlling the economy.

Sniffle, sniffle. How will they explain being bumped out of the 1% to the guys at the club?
The average compensation at Goldman (GS) is likely to fall by nearly $100,000 by the end of next year as new regulations, fewer deals and legal payouts hurt the firm's profitability. That's the conclusion of a recent report from a European division of rival JPMorgan Chase (JPM).

As recently as two years ago, Goldman's annual pay, which includes everyone from the people who work in the firm's IT department to CEO Lloyd Blankfein, had averaged $412,000. That salary put employees of the elite investment bank solidly in the top 1% of all earners in the United States. Last year, the cut off for the 1% was $368,000.

But by the end of next year, though, analysts at JPMorgan Cazenove expect compensation at Goldman to average just $314,000. That will bump the average Goldmanite all the way down to near the bottom of the top 2% of all U.S. earners. The cut off for the 98% tops out at around $290,000.
Even after dropping into the 2%, they're still doing much better than others who lost their jobs and houses. The pampered class should consider themselves lucky.

UK pro-austerity government to cap unfair dismissal payout

Isn't it curious how wage earners somehow need to be controlled and limited yet the most abusive people - the 1% - are not being asked to sign up for similar controls? It wasn't the middle class that caused the economic crisis so why are they always on the front line of cuts?
There's nothing fair about this, at all.
The maximum £72,000 [$117,000] compensation cap for unfair dismissal is to be slashed as part of a package of measures designed to remove disincentives from employers to take on new staff. The new cap may be set at the employee's annual salary, or another lower figure.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, thinks the current maximum – though awarded in only 1% or 2% of cases a year – deters employers from hiring staff. The current median award is only £5,000 to £6,000, with just 6% of cases leading to awards over £30,000.

Cable has resisted pressure to adopt compulsory no-fault dismissal – a proposal advanced by Adrian Beecroft in a report commissioned by David Cameron and given near totemic status by the Tory right.

Marijuana legalization leading in Colorado

It's close, but it's still ahead. If not this year, eventually Colorado voters will approve this. We really need to quit wasting money on this useless "war on drugs" and corporate prisons and focus somewhere else.

Denver Post:
The poll found that the measure, Amendment 64, has the support of 51 percent of likely voters surveyed, compared with 40 percent opposed. Men favor the measure more than women, a common gender split on the issue. But 49 percent of women polled said they support the measure, compared with 39 percent who said they are opposed.

Across every income bracket and in every age group except those 65 and older, more voters told pollsters they support the measure than oppose it, though some of the leads fall within the 4-percentage-point margin of error. Voters younger than 35 support the measure by a margin of 30 percentage points, 61 percent to 31 percent, according to the poll.

Anti-Putin protest draws tens of thousands

The first major protest against President Vladimir Putin after a summer lull drew tens of thousands of people, determined to show that opposition sentiment remains strong despite Kremlin efforts to muzzle dissent.

Tashkent: Asian city of the Russian Empire

The Russian Empire existed from 22 October 1721 until 1971 when a Soviet Republic was announced. It was the third largest Empire in history after the Britain and Mongol ones with its Emperor having an absolute power. The city of Tashkent photos of which is presented below was one of its possessions in the East. More

The Strange Lovecraftian Statuary of Puerto Vallarta

First seen at Wired, these are haunting and mighty weird sculptures, known as "La Rotunda del Mar" ("The Circle of the Sea") by artist Alejandro Colunga:

Dresden, Germany, Test Drives Longest Ever Bus

Dresden in Germany has unveiled the Autotram Extra Grand, a long bus meant to revolutionize public transport systems, combining the capacity of a train with the manoeuvrability of a bus. It's 30 metres (98 feet) long and can carry 256 passengers along busy urban streets anywhere.

Designed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, the bus is currently undergoing tests in special facilities outside the city, but is set to make its debut in Dresden traffic - on normal routes with real passengers - in October.

The Classics

1955 Chevrolet by SoulRider.222 on Flickr.
1955 Chevrolet

U.S. teen arrested in Chicago car bomb plot

U.S. citizen from a Chicago suburb, was arrested Friday night in an undercover FBI operation
Adel Daoud was active in jihadist Internet forums and was accessing articles written by Anwar al-Awlaki, (pictured above) the U.S.-born radical cleric who became a key figure in a Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot.
Adel Daoud was active in jihadist Internet forums and was accessing articles written by Anwar al-Awlaki, (pictured above) the U.S.-born radical cleric who became a key figure in a Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot.

Undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested an 18-year-old American man who tried to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar, federal prosecutors said Saturday.
Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, was arrested Friday night in an undercover operation in which agents pretending to be terrorists provided him with a phony car bomb.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, which announced the arrest Saturday, said the device was harmless and the public was never at risk.
Daoud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive.
Someone who answered a call to Daoud's home in Hillside on Saturday who said her name was Hiba and that she was Daoud's sister declined to discuss Daoud, the family or the arrest.

'We'd like to be left alone'

"We don't even know anything. We don't know that much. We know as little as you do," she said. "They're just accusations."
"We'd like to be left alone," she said.
No one answered the door of the two-story brick home later Saturday.
A next-door neighbour said he was shocked by the arrest, describing Daoud as a quiet boy who played basketball in the driveway with friends and calling his parents "wonderful" people.
"I heard maybe he had a little trouble in school," said the neighbor, 78-year-old Harry Pappas. "He was quiet, didn't talk much, but he seemed like a good kid."
Pappas said he saw a dozen unmarked cars drive up to the house Friday night and several agents go inside.
The FBI began monitoring Daoud after he posted material online about violent jihad and the killing of Americans, federal prosecutors said.
In May, two undercover FBI agents contacted Daoud in response to the postings and exchanged several electronic messages with him in which he expressed an interest in engaging in violent jihad in the United States or abroad, according to an affidavit by an FBI special agent.

29 potential targets

Prosecutors say that after being introduced to an undercover FBI agent who claimed to be a terrorist living in New York, Daoud set about identifying 29 potential targets, including military recruiting centers, bars, malls and tourist attractions in Chicago.
He is accused of settling on a downtown bar and conducting surveillance on it using Google Street View and visiting the area in person to take photographs.
Describing the target to the agent, Daoud said it was also a concert venue and next to a liquor store, according to the affidavit.
"It's a bar, it's a liquor store, it's a concert. All in one bundle," the document quotes him as saying. The affidavit said he noted that the bar would be filled with the "evilest people ... all the kuffars are there." Kuffar is the Arabic term for non-believer.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, Daoud met in the suburb of Villa Park with the undercover agent who claimed to be from New York, and the two drove to downtown Chicago, where the restaurants and bars were packed with workers ringing in the weekend on a pleasantly warm evening. According to the affidavit, they entered a parking lot where a Jeep Cherokee containing the phony bomb was parked.
Daoud drove the vehicle and parked in front of a bar that was among the pre-selected targets, then walked a block away and attempted to detonate the device by pressing a triggering mechanism in the presence of the agent, according to the affidavit. He was then arrested.
The court documents do not identify the bar.

Didn't walk away

Prosecutors said Daoud was offered several chances to change his mind and walk away from the plot.
The FBI has used similar tactics in other counterterrorism investigations, deploying undercover agents to engage suspects in talk of terror plots and then provide them with fake explosive devices.
In a 2010 case, a Lebanese immigrant took what he thought was a bomb and dropped it into a trash bin near Chicago's Wrigley Field. In a 2009 case, agents provided a Jordanian man with a fake truck bomb that he used to try to blow up a 60-story office tower in Dallas.
The affidavit said the Daoud was active in jihadist Internet forums and was accessing articles written by Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric who became a key figure in the Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year.
In his communications with one of the FBI agents about possible targets, Daoud allegedly said he wanted to carry out an attack that would kill a large number of people.
"I wanted something that's ... massive; I want something that's gonna make it in the news," he wrote, according to the affidavit. "I want to get to like, for me I want to get the most evil place, but I want to get a more populated place."

Jeffrey MacDonald revives push to prove innocence

0915 Jeffrey MacDonald
After best-selling books, a TV miniseries and seven reviews by the U.S. Supreme Court, the former Army doctor returns to court, attempting to show he didn’t kill his wife and two daughters.

Two adults arrested in Riverton Walmart assault that injured dozens

Unified police have arrested two 20-year-olds in connection with a pepper spray-like assault that injured more than 80 people at a Riverton Walmart Saturday.

Smugglers each swallowed $40,000 in cash

Two men who each ingested about $40,000 (£26,500) before trying to enter Colombia have been arrested, police have said. The pair were detained separately during the past week at the international airport in the Colombian city of Medellin and were on flights arriving from Costa Rica, according to security officials.

In the past, "mules" have used a similar method to smuggle contraband narcotics out of the country, swallowing packets of drugs worth thousands of pounds for sale in lucrative overseas markets. But authorities said they were unfamiliar with use of the same technique to sneak cash into the country. "This type of money laundering activity is new in Colombia," said Wilson Patino, a regional immigration director based in Antioquia state in northwestern Colombia.

The two suspects, a Colombian and a Venezuelan, were both described as being "heavy-set" whose large stomachs apparently did not have much difficulty accommodating the wad of illicit currency. Officials did not provide details about how the cash was recovered, but did describe how one of suspects came to be arrested. The Colombian man drew the attention of authorities when he appeared to be nervous and agitated while going through airport security.

He was asked to pass through a scanner again and the X-ray revealed numerous unusual items in the abdominal area. These turned out to be about 40 capsules, each containing $1,000, officials said. Authorities believe drug traffickers were behind the unusual plot, although they have not ruled out the involvement of other organized crime syndicates, possibly those engaged in arms or human trafficking.

Man found with pills, shoes, clothes, cologne and a watch in pants he shares with girlfriend

Byron Harvey of Vero Beach, Florida apparently had a lot going on in his pants. For starters, Indian River County Sheriff's Office deputies say he had almost $450 worth of shoes, clothes and other items stuffed in his trousers.

Additionally, in his pants pocket were a half dozen pills, which Harvey said belonged to his girlfriend who'd been wearing his pants. Harvey, 38, was arrested Sept. 10 after deputies went to a Bealls store in Vero Beach and encountered him in a dressing room. A sergeant heard and smelled Harvey burning plastic packaging off things and saw him jamming stuff in his pants.

Harvey, who also is accused of starting to fight deputies, was wearing shorts and pants. He told a deputy he'd been up for three days "drinking and doing powder and pills." At the jail, deputies found six green pills in Harvey's left front pants pocket. Harvey, who has "thug" tattooed on one arm and "life" on the other, said the pills were his girlfriend's.

He said they were in his pocket because she'd been wearing his pants. Deputies say Bealls officials recovered $449.97 worth of items including shoes, clothes, cologne and a watch that Harvey put in his pants. Harvey was arrested on felony charges including retail theft greater than $300, resisting with violence and possession of controlled substance.

Man stole 1.5 tons of hay in attempt to make-up with his girlfriend

A man suspected of stealing 1.5 tons of hay as a make-up gift for his girlfriend was detained in western Siberia’s Tyumen Region, local police said on Friday.

The man, who had quarreled with his girlfriend, stole the hay from a neighboring field, loaded it on his truck and took to her house.The man said he hoped that she would forgive him once she saw the gift, police reported.

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Nathalie Edenburg

Stress, depression may affect cancer survival

"A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ," John Steinbeck once wrote.

The weather pushes allergy and asthma miseries to new level.

As one of the hottest summers ever recorded drew to a close, jay Portnoy watched patients stream into Children’s Mercy hospital and clinics in Kansas City, Mo., coughing and wheezing with asthma, 20 admissions per day for the week that started with labor day, he said.

New Robot Turns Solar Panels Into Sunflowers

Bot-on-rails adjusts angle to sun to boost energy efficiency.  
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New Robot Turns Solar Panels Into Sunflowers

IBM Scientists Distinguish Individual Molecular Bonds

IBM scientists in Zurich, Switzerland, who captured the first close-up image of a single molecule (a pentacene back in 2009), and the charge distribution of a single molecule, has scored another scientific first: they were able to distinguish chemical bonds in individual molecules using noncontact atomic force microscopy.
"We found two different contrast mechanisms to distinguish bonds. The first one is based on small differences in the force measured above the bonds. We expected this kind of contrast but it was a challenge to resolve," said IBM scientist Leo Gross. "The second contrast mechanism really came as a surprise: Bonds appeared with different lengths in AFM measurements. With the help of ab initio calculations we found that the tilting of the carbon monoxide molecule at the tip apex is the cause of this contrast." [...]
The individual bonds between carbon atoms in such molecules differ subtly in their length and strength. All the important chemical, electronic, and optical properties of such molecules are related to the differences of bonds in the polyaromatic systems. Now, for the first time, these differences were detected for both individual molecules and bonds. This can increase basic understanding at the level of individual molecules, important for research on novel electronic devices, organic solar cells, and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In particular, the relaxation of bonds around defects in graphene as well as the changing of bonds in chemical reactions and in excited states could potentially be studied.


The Forgotten Opposition to the Apollo Program
The Apollo lunar landings are arguably the greatest achievements in American history. Six times we landed men on the moon and brought them back to Earth. And then, in 1972, we...stopped. We just stopped sending people on this amazing journey. Why?
The answer may lay in part with a fact that has escaped widespread attention. Prior to the first landing in 1969, the Apollo program was unpopular. Alexis Madrigal has an article in The Atlantic summarizing the opposition. He quotes space historian Roger Launius, who wrote:
Consistently throughout the 1960s a majority of Americans did not believe Apollo was worth the cost, with the one exception to this a poll taken at the time of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in July 1969. And consistently throughout the decade 45-60 percent of Americans believed that the government was spending too much onspace, indicative of a lack of commitment to the spaceflight agenda. 
Opposition among African-Americans was particularly strong:
Many black papers questioned the use of American funds for space research at a time when many African Americans were struggling at the margins of the working class. An editorial in the Los Angeles Sentinel, for example, argued against Apollo in no uncertain terms, saying, "It would appear that the fathers of our nation would allow a few thousand hungry people to die for the lack of a few thousand dollars while they would contaminate the moon and its sterility for the sake of 'progress' and spend billions of dollars in the process, while people are hungry, ill-clothed, poorly educated (if at all)."
The famous sociologist Amitai Etzioni wrote Moon-doggle, a book critiquing the program. Among other arguments, Etzioni said that Apollo was wasteful:
The space budget was increased in the five years that followed by more than tenfold while the total American expenditure on research and development did not eve ndouble. Of every three dollars spent on research and development in the United States in 1963, one went for defense, one for space, and the remaining one for all other research purposes, including private industry and medical research.

The Doomed Star Eta Carinae

You're looking at the doomed binary star Eta Carinae which looks like it's exploding. The two lobes are actually hot gaseous matters and dust which are moving outwards at about 1,500,000 mph. Each of those lobes are about the size of our solar system (Eta Carinae itself is about 100 more massive than our own Sun).
First cataloged by astronomer Edmond Halley (of the Halley's Comet fame), Eta Carinae is a very odd star. In the mid 1800s, the star brightened significantly like it was going supernova, but actually, it didn't really explode. Eta Carinae survived though probably not for long.
Astronomers surmise that because of its mass and stage of life, Eta Carianae is expected to explode in a supernova or even hypernova sometime in the future. How soon? Nobody knows. It could be next year or a hundred thousand years from today.

World’s oldest parrot in captivity died after telling owner ‘cheerio’

The world’s oldest domestic parrot has died aged 55 – after squawking his last word: “Cherrio”. African Grey parrot Tarbu croaked his final farewell to Nina Morgan, 89, as she made her way to bed. He was so weak the next morning that he couldn’t manage his usual greeting of “Hello, my darling” – and dropped dead from his perch. Mrs Morgan believes his longevity was down to a life of “being spoilt” – from munching his favorite Kit Kats to watching Emmerdale and Coronation Street every night.
He has lived an eventful life since being rescued from the clutches of a cruel animal trader in Tanzania in 1957 – and was once taken into police custody after going missing. The charismatic parrot was known for being vocal and would shout “Cheerio, bye, see you soon” to Mrs Morgan every time she left the house. He squawked “woof, woof” at dogs and would divebomb on any that entered his home – as well as calling “miaow, miaow” at cats that passed his window.

Tarbu even alerted partially-deaf Mrs Morgan to the doorbell by shouting “cooeee” and her name “Nina”, as she could not hear it ring. Widow Mrs Morgan, who lives alone, said she was “devastated” by the death of her beloved pet, who was her constant companion for 55 years. She said: “He was a very intelligent bird and very clever. We never taught him to talk, he picked everything up.

“The night before he died I went up to bed and he said ‘cheerio’ to me from his cage. It was the last thing that he said. He sounded very weak and I did think ‘oh dear, he is not well’ and had this feeling about it. The next morning he was on the top perch of his cage with both of his wings hanging down. I talked to him as usual and he gave me one or two little squeaks. I went to make a cup of tea and when I came back he was dead at the bottom of the cage. I cried for two days and I just miss him so much.”

Awesome Pictures

Grand Teton farm by picturesinmylife_yls on Flickr.

And that's a fact


Bow-tie wearing duck that raised thousands for charity banned for not having a permit

A bow-tie wearing duck that has raised thousands of pounds for charity has been banned – because he doesn’t have a permit. The bird – called Star – wears a dickie bow and waddles alongside his owner Barrie Hayman raising money for sick youngsters. Star and Barrie regularly visit businesses collecting cash from the public – already raising £6,500 for a children’s hospice.

But Barrie has now been told by several councils that his sidekick could be deemed ”irritating” and needs a permit. Barrie, of Bideford, Devon, now has to apply 28 days in advance for a single day’s permit – meaning he would only be allowed to collect on one day each month. He said: ”If I was putting into my own pocket, I could understand it, but everything goes to the sick children.

”If a permit covered me for a year and I was able to visit a different town each day, that would be fine, but on this basis I don’t think I can carry on.” Barrie and Star collect on average £200 a day by going into businesses around North and Mid Devon. Star dons a bow tie and Barrie carries a bucket and together the pair have raised £6,500 for Children’s Hospice South West in Fremington, Devon.

But council officials say to be fair to all charities, they must limit how often fundraisers are allowed to collect cash. They also say they have to ensure charity collectors are limited in their efforts to make sure they do not become ”irritating” to the public. But local businesses have slammed the decision and are calling for Star to be allowed to collect money as often as possible.

Boy drove off in pick-up truck at 100km/h after his mum said he couldn't have a pet duck

A eight-year-old Australian boy sped off in the family's ute and reached speeds of up to 100km/h because his mum wouldn't let him have a pet duck.

West Wyalong Sgt Ken Dale said the boy was from a farm between West Wyalong and Grenfell in the Central West region of New South Wales, but couldn't give too many other details because of the boy's age.

Sgt Dale said the boy's mother phoned police and followed her son as he drove on a public road. Police were told he reached speeds of up to 100km/h (60 mph) before stopping after getting two flat tires. When police arrived at the scene the mother was with her son.

Sgt Dale said the boy was below the age of criminal responsibility and would not be charged. "For an eight-year-old to drive a manual he's done well but he was lucky," Sgt Dale said. Police have given the boy a warning and warned parents not to leave their keys in cars or easy to find places.

Armadillo girdled lizard

The Golden Armadillo Lizard (Cordylus cataphractus) is a lizard endemic to desert areas of southern Africa.

The armadillo girdled lizard can be a light brown to dark brown in coloration depending on the subspecies. The underbelly is yellow with a blackish pattern, especially under the chin. Its size ranges from 16 to 21 cm (6.5 to 8.5 in) in length. It grows up to 12 cms

nout-to-vent length. As adults, they have such a strong bite force, they can break their jaws.

This lizard is relatively common in the pet trade. It can be found in pet stores and it is quite easy to breed in captivity. Wild populations are threatened by collecting for sale in the pet trade.

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