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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.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Daily Drift


A drive-in theater in Alexandria, Virginia (1940s) © J. Baylor Roberts.
Back in the day

Some of our readers today have been in:
Ipoh, Malaysia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Kajang, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Donets'k, Ukraine
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Bangkok, Thailand
Butterworth, Malaysia
Istanbul, Turkey
Cheras, Malaysia
Waterloo, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Minsk, Belarus
Olsztyn, Poland
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Szczecin, Poland
Islamabad, Pakistan
Warsaw, Poland
Novi Sad, Serbia
Gdynia, Poland
Lahore, Pakistan
Caracas, Venezuela
Jakarta, Indonesia
Ankara, Turkey
Cebu City, Philippines
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Surabaya, Indonesia
Kiev, Ukraine

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Today in History

1553   The Sadians defeat the last of their enemies and establish themselves as rulers of Morocco.
1561   Philip II of Spain gives orders to halt colonizing efforts in Florida.
1577   William of Orange makes his triumphant entry into Brussels, Belgium.
1667   Slaves in Virginia are banned from obtaining their freedom by converting to Christianity.
1739   The Austrians sign the Treaty of Belgrade after having lost the city to the Turks.
1779   The American navy under John Paul Jones, commanding from Bonhomme Richard, defeats and captures the British man-of-war Serapis.
1788   Louis XVI of France declares the Parliament restored.
1795   A national plebiscite approves the new French constitution, but so many voters sustain that the results are suspect.
1803   British Major General Sir Arthur Wellesley defeats the Marathas at Assaye, India.
1805   Lieutenant Zebulon Pike pays $2,000 to buy from the Sioux a 9-square-mile tract at the mouth of the Minnesota River that will be used to establish a military post, Fort Snelling.
1806   The Lewis and Clark Expedition arrives back in St. Louis just over three years after its departure.
1864   Confederate and Union forces clash at Mount Jackson, Front Royal and Woodstock in Virginia during the Valley campaign.
1911   The Second International Aviation Meet opens in New York.
1912   Mack Sennet's first "Keystone Cop" film debuts, Cohen Collects a Debt.
1945   The first American dies in Vietnam during the fall of Saigon to French forces.
1952   Richard Nixon responds to charges of a secret slush fund during his 'Checkers Speech.'
1954   East German police arrest 400 citizens as U.S. spies.
1967   Soviets sign a pact to send more aid to Hanoi.
1973   Juan Peron is re-elected president of Argentina after being overthrown in 1955.

Hope you had a Happy First Day of Fall!

The first day of fall, also known as the autumnal equinox, started yesterday, Saturday, Sept. 22. Read more
fall colors

What kind of autumn will we have?

By Steve Lyttle
Meteorologists say our warm and wet summer will be followed by … a warm and wet autumn.
Summer officially ends and autumn begins at 10:49 a.m. Saturday, and forecasters say they expect the Carolinas to enjoy mild and damp weather over the next three months.
The good news, they add, is that the cooler weather this month will give a boost to autumn leaf colors and to homeowners hoping to revive their lawns.
The Climate Prediction Center, the government’s long-range forecasting division, says temperatures and precipitation will be above average from October through December in the Carolinas and the rest of the Southeast. That follows a summer that produced Charlotte’s hottest July in nearly 20 years and rain on 47 of 92 days from June through August.
Wet weather typically means vivid fall leaf colors, and the cool weather that spread into the Carolinas last week and is forecast to remain until early October is helping produce a color change.
That means, according to experts, that leaf color might be good this autumn – and we’ll be able to enjoy it in mild weather later in October.
“This far ahead, I am predicting a good year for fall leaf color, assuming our weather continues to cooperate over the next few weeks,” writes Howie Neufeld, an Appalachian State University professor who publishes a weekly fall leaf color report for the Carolinas.
Landis Wofford, director of communication for Grandfather Mountain, said a botanist on their staff says “the color change might come a bit early this year.”
Some of the maples, sourwoods and buckeye trees already have changed colors at the higher altitudes, she says.
The forecast also bodes well for homeowners and horticulturists who use autumn as a recovery time from the stresses of summer weather.
“This pattern – warm days, cool nights and moisture – have been good,” says Scott Ewers, horticulture agent for the state extension service in Mecklenburg County. “It’s working out nicely for people who are overseeding their lawns, which should be happening now.”
An El Niño pattern has become established, which means steering currents tend to bring storm systems across the South. That will account for the rainy weather this fall, forecasters say. A wet autumn not only helps lawns grow, but it also puts a dent in the Carolinas wildfire threat.
What worries some meteorologists, however, is that we might get too much of a good thing.
“We have to be careful, … particularly from Louisiana into the Southeast,” says Paul Pastelok, long-range forecaster for Accu-Weather, the large, private meteorology firm. “There is the potential for fronts stalling out and causing widespread flooding.
“That’s an area of concern as we get into October and November, especially,” he said.
Accu-Weather includes Charlotte in the zone that will be at risk for autumn flooding.
There are still several peak weeks left in the hurricane season, but meteorologists say the recent trend has been for tropical systems to remain in the open Atlantic.
Later in the fall, meteorologists will be watching to see whether the autumn pattern evolves into something different for winter. John Tomko, climatologist for the National Weather Service’s office in Greer, S.C., said a winter El Niño pattern, combined with what forecasters call a negative North Atlantic Oscillation, could bring cold air and moisture into the Southeast at the same time.
“That’s a recipe for snow and ice,” he says.


Blae, blae, blae is the dwinin simmer,
Fin craws are a squallich o midnicht i the lift;
The win that knells the aik is an eldritch drummer,
Garrin the fleggit leaves uptail an shift.
Wylin the wing frae cloud, the girse frae dyke,

Autumn's at han, the tarry-fingeret tyke -
The warlock, turnin the widlan reid an rent;
A sairer scythe in his sizzen isna kent.
Cauld, cauld, cauld, he's a worthless wooer -
Preein the bloom frae brae, the hairt frae howe;
Trystin awa the bonnie buskit flooer,
Bird, an berry, an breet frae the ferny knowe.
The screich o his loadit cairt on a pairtin stane -
Sma wis the whyle he bedd, wi the yird his bride;
Forhooied, her days staun dreich, her nichts hing teem,
The lan bled fite, like an auld love cast aside.
Syne, fin the yalla strae be a deid yestreen,
Dwined an dweeble, laigh i the park sae bare,
The oat, the barley-head wi the guid corn taen,
The wanton Autumn's seen i the warld nae mair.

BOOM: Sarah Silverman Blows Republican Voter Suppression Efforts Out Of The *^^%$ Water

Romney lists USA as a "foreign country" in his tax returns

We just copied this off of Mitt Romney's own campaign Web site, see below.

Now some context.  Just this week, Mitt Romney again chose to take something President Obama said out of context in order to try to hurt the President.  This time it was something that even Romney himself had said, but no matter.  And remember how Romney devoted the theme of his convention to an out of context quote from the President, "you didn't build it."  And how Romney's very first campaign ad was the President quoting John McCain saying something stupid, but in the ad Romney made it look like it was Obama who had said the stupid quote.

Mitt Romney is no stranger to lies and quotes out of context.  So he deserves to hear a lot, between now and the election, about how he thinks America is a foreign country.

And considering that Mitt Romney's family moved to Mexico to escape American anti-bigamy laws, and the only reason they came back to the US was to flee the Mexican Revolution, it's no wonder the Romney family finds America a "foreign country."

And don't forget all those foreign countries, and foreign taxes, Mitt Romney chose because America wasn't good enough for Mitt Romney's money.

So in a very real way, Mitt Romney probably thinks America's a foreign country.

Either way, he wrote it.  He owns it.  And had Barack Obama done this, it would be the only thing we'd hear from the Republicans between now and the election.  So have at it.

Kudos to Elizabeth Flock at USNews for catching this.

Romney's tax documents raise even more questions

If Mitt Romney thought that a partial release of his tax documents would change the discussion from his 47% remarks, he was mostly right. Unfortunately for Romney, the tax information that he provided brings everyone back to the problem that has nagged him for months. Romney's 2011 tax documents are a little too convenient since they failed to fully utilize deductions and they can easily be amended any time in the next three years.
My first thought when I read that he was releasing a summary going back 20 years was why 20 years? If the norm is 10 or 12 years, 20 sounds odd and it's probably for good reason. The weaselly 20% rate that PWC mentions is so light on detail that it's not even funny. The tax rate during the Clinton years was much higher, so everyone was paying more.

Was the purpose of releasing a 20 year summary meant to soften some painfully low years? It would not be a surprise if the purpose of including the 20 year term was so they could play typical Big Four accounting games to make the numbers look less outrageous than they would be over 10 years. Since they only released a summary, the 20 year term may have been used for this reason. How many tax report simulations did they run before they settled on 20 years?

As for the accounting firm, why should anyone be impressed with a summary from PWC. (You might call them Pay We Confirm.) PWC also did the books for AIG, Tyco and JPMorgan and the results were not without scandal. Should the PWC stamp of approval really mean much? The big accounting and consulting groups have a well earned public reputation for taking big money and delivering whatever result they are paid to deliver. Only an fool who hasn't watched the accounting industry in action would fall for their spin. Believe their numbers, at your own risk.

Others are now wondering whether there are ugly secretes inside the full Romney tax documents since only a sanitized summary was handed over. Did Mitt Romney file for tax amnesty with the IRS in 2009? Who knows? Did he have to pay back taxes related to amnesty, thus raising his tax rates? We do not know. What was the year-by-year rate as opposed to the broad summary? No clue. Why did Romney close a Swiss bank account in 2010, the year after the 2009 IRS amnesty program? Only Mitt knows. Andy why is there a 3.5% delta between the various numbers provided by PWC? It's nuts.

Even his 2011 charitable donations are worth noting. Most went to the Mormon church and the rest went to his own foundation, which then shovels over most of its money to the Mormon church.

To makes matters worse, the Romney campaign will only take questions via email. They will then pick and choose who they answer and how they answer. Is that supposed to be transparent? Mitt Romney has been running for president for years and this is the best he can do?

So yes, Mitt Romney has managed to change the subject from the 47% but he has brought us back to the original problem of whether or not he is paying his full share. We still don't know and we won't know until the full details are provided.

Mitt threatened to cancel Univision forum unless the network allowed him to bus in more of his supporters

Buzzfeed reports that a Latino-fied Mitt Romney threatened to pull the plug on his Univision forum earlier this week unless the network gave in to his demands, including busing in additional Romney supporters and re-taping the event's introduction.
Moderator Maria Elena Salinas told BuzzFeed that tickets for both the Romney and Obama forums were split between the campaigns, with both agreeing to keep the audience filled with mostly University of Miami students, who hosted the event.

However, finding little luck in gathering conservatives around campus (a National Journal poll has Obama currently leading Romney among college students, 63-27 percent), the campaign threatened to "reschedule" if not given an exemption to the student-only rule and allowed to bring in “rowdy activists from around southern Florida in order to fill the extra seats."

Like a beleaguered Romney housekeeper, the network gave in to his demands.

"We were a little bit thrown because it was supposed to be a TV show, it wasn't a rally," Salinas said of the audience change. "It was a little bit of disrespect for us."

Additionally, while being introduced at his forum, Romney allegedly threw a tantrum and refused to come out on stage after the forum moderators mentioned that he "had agreed to give the network 35 minutes, and that Obama had agreed to a full hour the next night." The network was forced to re-tape the introduction and instead mention the time differences at the end of the forum.

Is this a presidential campaign, or Mariah Carey's rider demands on "American Idol"?

Romney reads Ramos the riot act

By now, we all know that Mitt Romney packed the audience w/partisan cliques for his Univision interview. but what we found interesting was the fact that the mittster threw a tantrum to get the introduction he wanted:
That wouldn't be the last demand from the campaign: Romney himself almost pulled the plug on the whole thing minutes before the broadcast, [Univision anchor Maria Elena] Salinas said.

While introducing Romney at the top of the broadcast, Salinas co-anchor, Jorge Ramos, noted that the repugican candidate had agreed to give the network 35 minutes, and that President Obama had agreed to a full hour the next night. Ramos then invited the audience to welcome Romney to the stage — but the candidate didn't materialize.

"It was a very awkward moment, believe me," Salinas said.

Apparently, Romney took issue with the anchors beginning the broadcast that way, said Salinas, and he refused to go on stage until they re-taped the introduction. (one repugican present at the taping said Romney "threw a tantrum.")

"Our president of news was talking to the Romney campaign and negotiating it," Salinas said. "but at that point, you can't really argue with that. the candidate is there, everyone is in their seats, the show must go on. there's a limit to how much we can object to it."

The compromise reached was that the anchors would note the discrepancy in the candidates' time commitments at the end of the broadcast. but Salinas said, by then, the crowd was cheering so loudly that they drowned out the anchors' words.
And this is the guy who wants to be president?

Daily Comic Relief

Texas Mom Letting Kids Play Outside is Arrested, Charged with Child Endangerment

Tammy Cooper and her husband moved to their house on a cul-de-sac in a quiet La Porte, Texas neighborhood so they would have a safe place for their nine and six-year-old children to grow up.

Man Accused of Spending Stolen Antique Coins on Pizza, Movie

Garren allegedly spent valuable antique coins - worth thousands of dollars - on pizza and a movie for the coins' face value prices.

Pharmaceutical companies deliberately mislead doctors into prescribing useless and even harmful meds

Writing in the Guardian, Ben Goldacre reveals the shocking truth about the drugs that doctors prescribe: thanks to aggressive manipulation from the pharmaceutical companies and passivity from regulators, doctors often don't know that the drugs were ineffective (or harmful) in a majority of their clinical trials. That's because pharma companies set up their trials so that they the right to terminate ones that look unpromising (or stop them early if they look promising and report on the result partway through as though it reflected the whole trial), and to simply suppress the results of negative trials.
As a result, doctors -- even doctors who do their homework and pay close attention to the published trials, examining their methodology carefully -- end up prescribing useless (or harmful) medicines. And according to Goldacre, this is true of all doctors in every country, because every country's regulators allow pharmaceutical companies to cynically manipulate research outcomes to increase their profits. As Goldacre points out, a 2010 Harvard/Toronto study showed that "85% of the industry-funded studies were positive, but only 50% of the government-funded trials were" -- and in another analysis, industry-funded trials of statins "were 20 times more likely to give results favouring the test drug."
What's more, when scientists blow the whistle on this life-threatening criminality, they're smeared and hounded by the pharma companies, as happened when Danish scientists published a study critical of industry-funded trials in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After the study was published, Lif, the Danish pharmaceutical industry association, called for professional misconduct investigations into the researchers, though they couldn't provide any evidence of the alleged misconduct. Though the researchers were cleared of all wrongdoing, their employers were given copies of the accusations of scientific dishonesty, as did "the Danish medical association, the ministry of health, the ministry of science and so on."
This long piece is an excerpt from Goldacre's forthcoming book, Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients.

Sometimes trials are flawed by design. You can compare your new drug with something you know to be rubbish – an existing drug at an inadequate dose, perhaps, or a placebo sugar pill that does almost nothing. You can choose your patients very carefully, so they are more likely to get better on your treatment. You can peek at the results halfway through, and stop your trial early if they look good. But after all these methodological quirks comes one very simple insult to the integrity of the data. Sometimes, drug companies conduct lots of trials, and when they see that the results are unflattering, they simply fail to publish them.
Because researchers are free to bury any result they please, patients are exposed to harm on a staggering scale throughout the whole of medicine. Doctors can have no idea about the true effects of the treatments they give. Does this drug really work best, or have I simply been deprived of half the data? No one can tell. Is this expensive drug worth the money, or has the data simply been massaged? No one can tell. Will this drug kill patients? Is there any evidence that it's dangerous? No one can tell. This is a bizarre situation to arise in medicine, a discipline in which everything is supposed to be based on evidence.
And this data is withheld from everyone in medicine, from top to bottom. Nice, for example, is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, created by the British government to conduct careful, unbiased summaries of all the evidence on new treatments. It is unable either to identify or to access data on a drug's effectiveness that's been withheld by researchers or companies: Nice has no more legal right to that data than you or I do, even though it is making decisions about effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, on behalf of the NHS, for millions of people.
In any sensible world, when researchers are conducting trials on a new tablet for a drug company, for example, we'd expect universal contracts, making it clear that all researchers are obliged to publish their results, and that industry sponsors – which have a huge interest in positive results – must have no control over the data. But, despite everything we know about industry-funded research being systematically biased, this does not happen. In fact, the opposite is true: it is entirely normal for researchers and academics conducting industry-funded trials to sign contracts subjecting them to gagging clauses that forbid them to publish, discuss or analyse data from their trials without the permission of the funder.
Just read it. There's so much more. Paroxetine, a drug that was known to be ineffective for treating children, which had a risk of suicide as a side-effect, widely prescribed to children, because GlaxoSmithKline declined to publish its research data after an internal memo stated "It would be commercially unacceptable to include a statement that efficacy had not been demonstrated, as this would undermine the profile of paroxetine."

The drugs don't work: a modern medical scandal

A solution to reducing inflammation

Research carried out at The University of Manchester has found further evidence that a simple solution, which is already used ...
Continue Reading

New Uses for Old Tools Could Boost Biodiesel Output

Tried-and-true techniques could help optimize oilseed yield for biodiesel production, according to studies conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ...
Continue Reading



The Secret to Happiness and Productivity at Work

The secret to unlocking happiness and productivity at work, according to Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, is surprisingly simple. It's not the big wins, it's the small ones. And oh, yeah, you've got to keep track of them:
Speaking at the 99U Conference, Amabile describes a study that analyzed thousands of daily diary entries from more than 200 professionals. The research showed that keeping track of challenges, successes, and other experiences enhanced creativity and motivation.
Some of her tips:
Don't make a big commitment to it; tell yourself you'll do it for just one month. Five to 10 minutes a day, focusing on just one project, one issue, that you want to work on. Pick a time in the day when you're likely to have about 10 minutes uninterrupted. It's a good idea if it can be the same time every day. Attach a reminder to that time. So if you want to do your diary before you leave work, you might set a repeating calendar alert for 15 minutes before you take off ...
From Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg of The Atlantic: Link

Living Large in a Tiny House

Hari and Karl Berzins decided to build a tiny home for their family in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains to free themselves of the financial burden of owning a large home.
They knew that moving two children, a dog and a cat into a 168-square foot space would be a challenge, though it would also eliminate the need for a mortgage and cut their utility costs.
But they didn't expect it to completely change their lives, Hari Berzins said. [...]
"Living mortgage-free has given us the freedom to make decisions based on what will make us happy, not what we have to do to pay the mortgage," Berzins said in a CNN iReport.
The Berzins are part of a small contingent of homeowners who have found solace living in less than 500 square feet. Many of them live in homes built on trailers so they can move around; others, like the Berzins, live on property they own. Others live in Cob homes built of clay and mica. Some are motivated by a desire to lessen their carbon footprint while others want to own a home without worrying about property taxes.
Emanuella Grinberg has more over at CNN.

Random Photo

Search for Mysterious Lost Da Vinci Aborted

The fate of a lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, known as the Battle of Anghiari, will remain unsolved. Read more
Search for Mysterious Lost Da Vinci Aborted

Tomb raiders spoil Philippine archaeological find

A photo released by Philippine National Museaum (PNM) shows archaeologists working on a limestone coffin in Mulanay town, Quezon province, southeast of Manila. Philippine archaeologists said they had discovered a thousand-year old cemetery of rock coffins in a rainforest, but that tomb-raiders had found it decades earlier and stolen precious artefacts.Philippine archaeologists said Friday they had discovered a thousand-year old cemetery of rock coffins in a rainforest, but that tomb-raiders had found it decades earlier and stolen precious artifacts. The coffins are rectangular holes carved into a limestone hill, a burial method documented only in two other areas of eastern Asia, the leader of the National Museum's archaeological dig, Eusebio Dizon said.
Dizon said local officials informed the museum last year about the site, in a forest about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Manila.
"(But) treasure hunters had been there before, in the 1960s and the 1970s, and a little bit in the 1980s," Dizon said.
"They would have taken metal and other implements to be sold, and thrown away the human remains since they had no use for them."
Forest rangers have since secured the site, on the top of a hill called Kamhantik, which is near a coconut plantation, according to Dizon.
He said his team had cleaned at least 10 mostly empty coffins, measuring two meters (6 feet, six inches) long, 50 centimeters (20 inches) wide and about 40 centimeters (16 inches) deep.
Fragments of human remains from one coffin were sent to a university in the United States for carbon-dating, which confirmed the site as a 10th-century settlement, he said.
More moss-covered coffins were found within the 12-hectare (30-acre) area of forest, and they will be excavated when funds become available, according to Dizon.
"There could be more items, artifacts showing how they lived," Dizon said.
Dizon could not say if the rock-coffin people were migrants or long-time residents who had learned the coffin-carving from outsiders.
Similar stone coffins had also been found in Gilimanuk in the Indonesian tourist island of Bali and some parts of Taiwan, he said.
But in both cases other types of rocks were used, with the Gilimanuk finds made of volcanic material, he added.
In the Philippine graves, Dizon said the community was believed to have used metal tools, maybe iron, to carve the holes into the limestone.
Other 10th-century residents of the islands used earthen jars and wood as coffins, he said.
The team also found evidence of houses being built atop the limestone.
Most of the known human settlements in the islands at the time were on the coasts, but the Kamhantik find was about six kilometers (three miles) inland, he said.

Open Rebellion Breaks Out at a Boston Cannabis Festival

Activists rally at Hempfest to reform state and federal marijuana policies.  

Libyan protesters eject militants from Benghazi base

A Libyan demonstrator flashes the victory sign near the burning headquarters of the hardline Islamist group Ansar el-Sharia in Benghazi, Libya.Hundreds of Libyan protesters stormed the base of a hardline Islamist militia in Benghazi Friday, forcing the group to flee and then setting fire to the military compound. Members of the Salafist jihadi group Ansar al-Sharia fired in the air before being forced out of their base by the demonstrators.
The assault came after an estimated 30,000 residents of Libya's second city rallied earlier in the day against the influence of militias in the eastern city, which critics say have put themselves above the law.
To shouts of "The martyrs' blood was not shed in vain" the demonstrators pushed into the compound which was pillaged and set ablaze, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
Their protest drowned out a smaller rally by hundreds of radical Salafists angry over a film and cartoons deemed offensive to Islam.
Ansar al-Sharia has been accused of involvement in the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US citizens were killed. It denies the charge.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time described that assault as a "terrorist attack".
The militia, which rejects democracy and refuses to join the national security forces, raged against a film made in America mocking Islam and French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
"This brigade was a big problem for us and for everybody. It was a center of extremists," said one of the demonstrators, 32-year-old Tawfik Mohamed.
"The death of the ambassador was the spark that set off the fire," said another demonstrator.
Earlier Friday, a group of Benghazi residents stormed the barracks of another group, the Martyrs of Abu Slim brigade, and ousted its members.
"We kicked them out and called the army to take over this place," Hamza Jehani told AFP, adding that around 70 people had forced their way inside and driven the militiamen out.
"No to armed formations" and "Yes to the Libya army" read banners raised by protesters at the Tibesti Hotel before marching to Al-Kish Square, near barracks housing several brigades.
"Our law is God's law, not the law of the jungle," women chanted.
Banners paid tribute to the slain US ambassador, with signs reading "Libya lost a friend" and "We want justice for Stevens."
Organizers had called the march to demand that the central government in Tripoli tame the armed groups that have retained huge powers since last year's Western-backed uprising overthrew Moamer Kadhafi.
They demanded the withdrawal of powers conferred on the militias and urged the national congress to pass legislation criminalizing them and passing a law on bearing arms.
The organizers also called for the withdrawal of all armed groups from state buildings and institutions and support for measures to revitalize the police and army.
Organizer Mohammed Abujanah told AFP Benghazi's chronic security problems stem from the failure to disband the brigades of ex-rebels.
"We are saving Benghazi from insecurity," he said, saying the authorities were wrong to integrate the brigades into the security forces as intact units rather than disbanding them and selecting competent individuals from them.
The protest was also to reject extremism, which Abujanah described as "part of the brigades problem" and as a sign to the international community that Benghazi still needs its presence and moral support.
"Benghazi needs support now more than ever," he said.
"We have an elected body, now we need a strong army. Benghazi will regain its sparkle despite all the sad and unhappy events," Abujanah added.
The rival protest by Ansar al-Sharia drew hundreds of people waving black and white flags inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith.
"There is no God but God," they chanted, as well as "Obama is the enemy of God," referring to US President Barack Obama.
The militia, which rejects democracy and refuses to join security forces which they see as tainted by Kadhafi loyalists, raged against a film made in America mocking Islam and French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
"France and America are attacking us by mocking our prophet, not the other way round," said Mohammed Abdullah, a 30-year-old jobless man.
A brigade member said: "It wasn't enough for them to produce a film denigrating the Prophet in America, off goes France insisting on publishing cartoons in its newspaper that are offensive to our Prophet."
"We will never tolerate that."
Attack helicopters and fighter jets flew low over Benghazi in a clear warning to both camps. Police, troops and community leaders patrolled the site.

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation

Tehran University students in Tehran, Feb 2005  
Female university students in Iran have outnumbered men for the past decade

With the start of the new Iranian academic year, a raft of restrictions on courses open to female students has been introduced, raising questions about the rights of women to education in Iran - and the long-term impact such exclusions might have.
More than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different degree courses.
These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics and computer science, to English literature, archaeology and business.
No official reason has been given for the move, but campaigners, including Nobel Prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, allege it is part of a deliberate policy by the authorities to exclude women from education.
"The Iranian government is using various initiatives… to restrict women's access to education, to stop them being active in society, and to return them to the home," she told the BBC.
Higher Education Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has sought to play down the situation, stressing Iran's strong track record in getting young people into higher education and saying that despite the changes, 90% of university courses are still open to both men and women.
Men outnumbered Iran was one of the first countries in the Middle East to allow women to study at university and since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 it has made big efforts to encourage more girls to enroll in higher education.
The gap between the numbers of male and female students has gradually narrowed. In 2001 women outnumbered men for the first time and they now make up more than 60% of the overall student body.
A university entrance exam at a high school in Tehran, June 2009  
University entrance exams are highly competitive in Iran, with the number of female applicants increasing each year
Year-on-year more Iranian women than men are applying for university places, motivated some say by the chance to live a more independent life, to have a career and to escape the pressure from parents to stay at home and to get married.
Women are well-represented across a wide range of professions and there are many female engineers, scientists and doctors.
But many in Iran fear that the new restrictions could now undermine this achievement.
"I wanted to study architecture and civil engineering," says Leila, a young woman from the south of Iran. "But access for girls has been cut by fifty per cent, and there's a chance I won't get into university at all this year."

"Traditional politicians now see educated and powerful women as a threat”
Saeed Moidfar Retired professor from Tehran
In the early days after the Islamic revolution, universities were one of the few places where young Iranian men and women could mix relatively freely.
Over the years this gradually changed, with universities introducing stricter measures like separate entrances, lecture halls and even canteens for men and women.
Since the unrest after the 2009 presidential election this process has accelerated as conservative politicians have tightened their grip on the country.
Women played a key role in those protests - from the traditionally veiled but surprisingly outspoken wives of the two main opposition candidates, to the glamorous green-scarved demonstrators out on the streets of Tehran and other cities.
A woman protests after a heavily disputed Presidential election in June 2009 in Tehran's Azadi Square  
Some say it was the prominient role of women in 2009's protests that has unnerved Iran's conservative leaders
Some Iranians say it was the sight of so many young Iranian women at the forefront of the protests in 2009 that unnerved the country's conservative leaders and prompted them into action.
"The women's movement has been challenging Iran's male-dominated establishment for several years," says Saeed Moidfar, a retired sociology professor from Tehran.
"Traditional politicians now see educated and powerful women as a threat."
'Islamisation' In a speech after the 2009 protests, the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the "Islamisation" of universities and criticized subjects like sociology, which he said were too western-influenced and had no place in the Iranian Islamic curriculum.
Since then, there have been many changes at universities, with courses cut and long-serving academic staff replaced with conservative loyalists.

"From age 16 I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, I really worked hard for it ... But although I got high marks in the entrance exam, I've ended up with a place to study art and design instead”
Noushin A student from Esfahan
Many see the new restrictions on female students as a continuation of this process.
In August 2012 Ayatollah Khamenei made another widely-discussed speech calling for Iranians to return to traditional values and to have more children.
It was an affront to many in a country which pioneered family planning and has won praise from around the world for its emphasis on the importance of providing families with access to contraception.
"People are more educated now and they are more concerned about the size of their families," says Saeed Moidfar. "I doubt that the government plans will change anything."
However, since the speech there have been reports of cutbacks in family planning programs, and in sex education classes at universities.
It is not yet clear exactly how many women students have been affected by the new rules on university entrance. But as the new academic year begins, at least some have had to completely rethink their career plans.
"From the age of 16 I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, and I really worked hard for it," says Noushin from Esfahan. "But although I got high marks in the National University entrance exam, I've ended up with a place to study art and design instead."
Over the coming months campaigners will be watching closely to track the effects of the policy and to try to gauge the longer-term implications.

'No doubt' Nazi war criminal Heim dead

A photo dated from 1959 shows Aribert Heim -- who was known as "Doctor Death" for his experiments at the Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Mauthausen death camps during World War II. Court officials in southwestern Germany say there is no doubt the Nazi war criminal has actually died as reported.German judicial authorities Friday officially said for the first time that Nazi war criminal Aribert Heim, known as "Doctor Death", had died in Egypt in 1992 as reported. A regional court in the southwestern town of Baden-Baden said it was abandoning an investigation because there was "no doubt" the body found in Cairo was that of Heim, who had changed his identity and converted to Islam.
"The criminal case against Dr Aribert Heim on suspicion of multiple murders has been abandoned because of the death of the accused," the court said in a written statement.
Heim, one of the world's most wanted war criminals, became known as "Doctor Death" and the "Butcher of Mauthausen" after performing medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners.
Besides Mauthausen in Austria, he also served at the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald camps in Germany.
In February 2009, German public television channel ZDF and the New York Times said that Heim, a former member of the Nazi SS, had died of bowel cancer in 1992 at the age of 78, citing his son and acquaintances in Cairo.
But his death was never confirmed and a report by Der Spiegel news weekly several months later said investigators believed the ZDF and NYT report did not provide "any proof of his death" and they were continuing to examine "every lead" on the Austrian-born Nazi.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem also said it did not believe the story.
The Baden-Baden court however said on Friday that it no longer doubted that Heim was in fact a man named Tarek Hussein Farid who died of cancer in August 1992 in Cairo.
The court said it had reached the conclusion after, among other things, the defence for the accused had presented it with documents, including a certificate showing his conversion to Islam.
Together with information provided by his son, there remained "no doubt that the accused is identical to the person Tarek Hussein Farid and died in 1992 after suffering from cancer", it said.
German authorities charged him in 1979 with having "cruelly killed prisoners through injections or unnecessary operations" at the Mauthausen camp in 1941, the court said in its statement.
The court had announced in August that it aimed to establish in the coming months whether Heim was dead after receiving the initial results of the analysis of original documents from Egypt.
In 1945 at the end of World War II Heim was arrested by the US military but he was let go after two and a half years, and he went on to work as a gynaecologist in Baden-Baden.
He pursued his profession in the picturesque spa town for around 15 years but fled in 1962 as the West German authorities were about to arrest him.

The Shameful History of WWII Japanese American Internment

The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese left thousands dead and injured, but also had grave consequences for resident Japanese Americans. More

The Classics

Why Do Girls Throw Like A Girl?

You don't need to look any further than last week's news cycle to see proof that a girl can throw a ball: Erin DiMeglio, the first female quarterback to play high school football in Florida, made a splash by taking a spot on her team. But some research indicates it's an uphill battle.

It may be a borderline-offensive schoolyard taunt, but 'throws like a girl' has an element of truth. Studies suggest that girls often don't throw as well as boys. In fact, the 'throwing gap,' as it's called, is one of the biggest differences between the genders. It's not just the largest gap in physical activities - although it's the largest gap in that field - it's possibly the most salient gap.

"Baseball" in the fourteenth century

Got Medieval specializes in European Medieval history, with a recurring emphasis on the visual arts of the time and the marginalia inscribed on illuminated manuscripts. The image shown above, "found in the margins of the calendar that was originally part of the Ghistelles Hours, a 14th-century Flemish book of hours..."  Herewith a brief summary:
Though there's no base in sight, various historians of sport have identified this game as a version of "stool ball" or "stump ball", which was baseball played with only one base, where the object was for the pitcher to hit a stump or a stool or other handy protrusion with the ball while the batter protected it by batting away the pitcher's balls...

We have no clue how the scoring might have worked, but apparently the game was co-ed and the sort of thing you'd play at an Easter festival.
For further discussion and a picture of medieval monkeys playing baseball

Daily Funny

The snake and the frog …

Cottonmouth2I went fishing one morning, but after a short time I ran out of worms.  Then I saw a cottonmouth with a frog in his mouth.  Frogs are good bass bait.
Knowing the snake couldn’t bite me with the frog in his mouth, I grabbed him right behind the head, took the frog, and put it in my bait bucket.Jack D
Now my dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bitten.  So, I grabbed my bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a little whiskey in its mouth.  His eyes rolled back and he went limp. I released him into the lake without incident and carried on fishing using the frog.               Frog         Frog                                           
A little later, I felt a nudge on my foot…
It was that snake, with two more frogs.!!  

'Meteors' seen across UK skies

'Meteors' seen across UK skiesMeteor seen in skies at Maam Cross, Connemara, Ireland

Bright objects in the night sky, thought to be meteors, are sighted across the UK but some experts are suggesting they could be space junk.

Dark Energy Camera Sees First Light

The long-awaited Dark Energy Camera (DECam) is online and preparing to unravel one of the universe's greatest mysteries. Read more
Dark Energy Camera Sees First Light

Protoplanet Vesta Awash in Hydrogen

In a surprise finding, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has discovered the protoplanet is rich in hydrogen, which most likely was delivered by water-bearing meteorites striking the body. Read more
Protoplanet Vesta Awash in Hydrogen

Amazing Photographs Of Beach Rock Formations

While good photographers can find the beauty in almost any object, part of the game can still involve finding more interesting and beautiful things to photograph. Getting outdoors helps and these photographers found an object that, with the right conditions, can be presented amazingly well in a photograph. Enjoy these amazing photographs of beach rock formations.

Awesome Pictures

A diver swims beneath thick ice while the Northern Lights shine above the White Sea in the Arctic Circle.

Unusual Symbiosis Discovered in Marine Microorganisms

Scientists have discovered an unusual symbiosis between tiny single-celled algae and highly specialized bacteria in the ocean. The partnership plays ...
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Playboy Bunny Being Drowned Out by Rising Seas

A marsh rabbit named after Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner is dying out as oceans rise and shrink its habitat. Read more
Playboy Bunny Being Drowned Out by Rising Seas

Animal Pictures