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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Daily Drift

'Nuff Said 

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Tbilisi, Georgia
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Warsaw, Poland
Paris, France
Mandaluyong City, Philippines

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Today in History

1760   Major Roger Rogers takes possession of Detroit on behalf of Britain.
1787   Louis XVI promulgates an edict of tolerance, granting civil status to Protestants.
1812   The last elements of Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Armee retreats across the Beresina River in Russia.
1863   The Battle of Fort Sanders, Knoxville, Tenn., ends with a Confederate withdrawal.
1864   Colonel John M. Chivington's 3rd Colorado Volunteers massacre Black Kettles' camp of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians at Sand Creek, Colo.
1903   An Inquiry into the U.S. Postal Service demonstrates the government has lost millions in fraud.
1923   An international commission headed by American banker Charles Dawes is set up to investigate the German economy.
1929   Commander Richard Byrd makes the first flight over the South Pole.
1931   The Spanish government seizes large estates for land redistribution.
1939   Soviet planes bomb an airfield at Helsinki, Finland.
1948   The Metropolitan Opera is televised for the first time as the season opens with "Othello."
1948   The popular children's television show, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, premieres.
1949   The United States announces it will conduct atomic tests at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
1961   NASA launches a chimpanzee named Enos into Earth orbit.
1962   Algeria bans the Communist Party.
1963   President Lyndon B. Johnson appoints Chief Justice Earl Warren head of a commission to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Non Sequitur


Celebrating the Christmas of the Past

vEnglish Heritage has some tips for celebrating Christmas in the Tudor and Victorian styles, if you want to be more traditional than everyone around you. For example, a Tudor-style Christmas would start with putting one person in charge of Christmas and all its parties.
If you want your celebrations to go with a bang, appoint a 'Lord of Misrule'. These were usually minor members of the household appointed to run the festivities. Henry VII is recorded as having both a 'Lord of Misrule' and an 'Abbot of Unreason' one year!
During Victorian times, families would play Snapdragon.
You'll need nerves of steel (and possibly a fire extinguisher) if you want to play any Victorian Christmas games. 'Snapdragon' involved making a big pile of dried fruit, covering it in brandy then setting it alight. Then in the dark, the aim was for everyone to pick up a piece of fruit before the fire went out. Let's hope nobody played it with long sleeves!
There's more, including links to some very old recipes and modern events, at English Heritage.

Photo Of Iceberg That Sank The Titanic To Be Auctioned

On the night of April 14th, 1912, the Titanic collided with a massive iceberg and sank. Now, one hundred years later, a photo that may the only surviving print showing that infamous chunk of ice is going up for auction. It's expected to fetch up to $10,000. The photograph was snapped by Captain W. F. Wood of a ship named S. S. Etonian, two days prior to the event.

Although there are no known photos of the actual iceberg taken on the day of the tragedy, there are a number of reasons that have led experts to believe the photo is of that very iceberg.

The repugican divide surfaces early in 2014 Senate contest

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2012, file photo, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., incoming Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, as incoming Minority Whip, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listen. Moran hasn't officially taken over as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee yet, but he already finds himself defending a potential nominee who's widely popular in her state while trying to avoid alienating influential players on the party's right flank. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File) That didn't take long.
The fissures within the repugican cabal that some say cost the repugican cabal control of the Senate have resurfaced just three weeks after the election. This time the wingnuts are targeting a popular veteran congresswoman from a storied West Virginia political family making a bid for Democrat Jay Rockefeller's Senate seat in 2014.
Within an hour of Shelley Moore Capito's announcement of her candidacy, the influential and uber-wingnut Club for Growth branded her as the "establishment candidate" whose record in Congress of supporting prominent bailouts has led to bigger government. Capito just won her seventh term to Congress, securing about 70 percent of her district's vote. Her father, former Gov. Arch Moore, for years was the chief political rival of the man she hopes to replace in the Senate.
The new head of the Senate's repugican campaign arm, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, dismissed the criticism from the right — "I don't see this as damaging to her cause" — but it's far from inconsequential in the repugicans' bid to retake the Senate.
Moran hasn't officially taken over as chairman of the National repugican Senatorial Committee yet, but he already finds himself defending a potential nominee who's widely popular in her state while trying to avoid alienating influential players on the party's right flank.
Downplaying the impact of the Club for Growth's criticism of Capito, Moran said Tuesday his committee hasn't made a decision on how heavily involved it will be in West Virginia's repugican Senate primary two years from now.
"Shelley Moore Capito is a known quantity in West Virginia," he said. "Her voting record is acceptable to the majority of West Virginians in her district for a long period of time. I don't see this as damaging to her cause."
Rockefeller, 75, has not said whether he'll seek a sixth term in the Senate, but Capito has the name recognition and fundraising ability to mount an effective campaign against an incumbent.
The Club for Growth wasted no time listing what it believes are her numerous faults. They likened her to candidates such as Rick Berg of North Dakota and Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, saying that while they were supposedly the most electable of the repugican candidates, they lost Senate races in repugican-leaning states.
"Her candidacy will undoubtedly be cheered by the repugican establishment, and dire warnings will be issued against any 'divisive' primary challenges, lest other candidates hurt Capito's chances of winning," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "The problem is that Congresswoman Capito's record looks a whole lot like the establishment candidates who lost this year."
But many of the Club for Growth's candidates in recent elections also have stumbled badly. Richard Mourdock lost in Indiana after bouncing veteran Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary. In the 2010 elections, the organization threw its considerable financial backing behind Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado, both losers to vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
Moran said the criticism of Capito from the Club for Growth was not unexpected.
"This is going to be decided not by the NRSC and not by the Club for Growth; it's going to be decided by the people of West Virginia," he said.
In the last election cycle, Democratic leaders in Washington didn't mind playing favorites during the primaries, heavily recruiting candidates they thought had the best chance of winning, while shunning some they did not see as formidable. repugican leaders, in contrast, sat back as their potential nominees fought it out.
Moran said figuring out the NRSC's role in the coming primaries will take a couple of months, and said his organization will play a role in some states.
"It's a state-by-state issue," he said.
Democratic officials, meanwhile, are enjoying the sideshow of a potential repugican split already in the works.
"Their argument is correct that the handpicked repugican establishment candidates did just as poorly as the more tea-party candidates," said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "It's hard to argue with them in that respect."
Canter said the establishment candidates stumbled in part because of their efforts to appeal to tea party supporters and strong anti-government organizations such as the Club for Growth. He said an outsider might find it easy to defeat Capito, because repugican primaries in West Virginia typically do not attract a lot of voters.
"It would be very easy for a right-wing candidate to get the votes needed to win," Canter said.
repugican strategist Ron Bonjean said he would have preferred for the Club for Growth to have waited to see if a viable alternative to Capito emerges before attacking her. With Mitt Romney easily winning the state, repugicans figure to have a strong shot of winning the Senate seat in 2014.
"She's the best that state has to offer at this point," Bonjean said. "There's not a deep bench of repugican candidates who can immediately step into the fold, who can take on Sen. Rockefeller. Going after a female repugican right now when we lost the women's vote is not necessarily the wisest political move either."
Chocola said supporting fiscal conservatives such as Jeff Flake in Arizona and Ted Cruz in Texas, both Senate winners this month, is the best way back for the repugican cabal.
"They are the future of the repugican cabal," he said.
Note to repugicans - You have NO future.

Former Florida repugican leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law

From the "Tell us something we didn't know: Department:

Former repugican chair, governor - both on outs with party - say voter fraud wasn’t a concern, but reducing Democratic votes was. A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida repugican staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former repugican officials and current repugican consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.
The repugican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former repugican chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: repugican victory.

Practice Makes the Perfect Liar

Are you a bad liar? Research shows a little practice can make all the difference. Read more liar

Syrian war clouds Turkish plan to clear land mines

For two people walking into a Turkish minefield, they looked awfully assured.The pair strode in from Syria on a recent afternoon, following a faint track across the grassy plain. They slipped into Turkey through a fence near a vacant military watchtower and vanished into an olive grove.
Such hazardous crossings are a smuggler's tradition at the border, where Turkish plans to clear a vast belt of land mines have been clouded by Syria's civil war. Last week, Turkey asked NATO allies to deploy Patriot missiles as a defense against any aerial attacks from Syria after shells and bullets spilled across the border, killing and injuring some Turks.
Starting in the 1950s, Turkish forces planted more than 600,000 U.S.-made "toe poppers" — mines designed to maim, not kill — and other land mines along much of its 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria, which runs from the Mediterranean Sea to Iraq. The aim was to stop smugglers whose cheap black market goods undercut the Turkish economy and later to thwart Kurdish rebels from infiltrating Turkey's southeast.
However, the mines also killed and maimed civilians, took arable land from Turkish farmers and are now considered by many as a crude method of policing.
Turkey says it plans to clear anti-personnel mines on the Syria border by 2016, missing a March 2014 deadline required by the international Mine Ban Treaty. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a Geneva-based group that won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, has criticized Turkey for its slow progress.
The European Union has committed €40 million ($52 million) to demining and surveillance equipment near Turkey's borders with Iran and Armenia on the basis that Turkey could eventually become the EU's most eastern border. Turkey, adjacent to the Middle East and Central Asia, has long been a drug trafficking route and a transit point for migrants who enter Europe illegally.
Since last year, nearly 200,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey, mostly through border posts or areas known to be free of mines. A Syrian man and two children were reported killed in August, however, by an explosive in an area of Mardin province that had been mined by the Turkish military. Syrian forces last year were also suspected of laying some mines to stem an embarrassing refugee flight into Turkey.
A Turkish smuggler in the border village of Akinci, south of the city of Gaziantep, said he has charged Syrian refugees up to 25 Turkish lira ($14) each to lead them through Turkish minefields. He has also acted as a lookout, monitoring shifts of Turkish military sentries and telling another smuggler who escorts Syrian clients, usually before dawn.
"I don't know where they are going. I don't care," said the gaunt man, who would not give his name and claimed he was desperate for cash. "I know it's risky for me, but I have to do it."
According to lore, villagers used to enter the Akinci mosque, which lies beside a minefield, for prayers and then sneak out the back into Syria for business.
On foot, mule or motorcycle, smugglers traditionally brought in items from Syria, including tea, gasoline, cigarettes, electronics and livestock, to sell for a profit in Turkey. The Syrian war has disrupted but not extinguished the trade among communities that were abruptly divided when the border was drawn in the last century.
Some smugglers try their luck at border posts, which became easier to cross when visa requirements were removed in 2009 after the warming of ties between Turkey and Syrian President Bashar Assad, now an enemy because of his attacks on the Syrian opposition. A few weeks ago, a Syrian man was detained while trying to enter Turkey with gold bars in his waistband.
Approved traffic moves the other way, as Turkey and other nations that oppose Assad send logistical and humanitarian aid to Syrian rebels and civilians. While Turkey says it is not arming the insurgency, Syrian rebels have told The Associated Press they receive some weapons and ammunition from the Turkish side with only sporadic interference from border patrols. According to rebels, these weapons are bought with funding from rich Syrians or sympathetic Gulf Arabs.
Fences are down and cars can cross in some parts adjoining Syria's Idlib province, an opposition stronghold.
The first mines on the Syrian border were planted after smugglers killed two customs agents in 1956. Turkey laid more mines in the 1980s and 1990s, at the height of its war with the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which was backed by Syria. Turkey is again worried about possible infiltration by Kurdish rebels who are cheered by an autonomy grab by their ethnic brethren in Syria.
The Turkish defense ministry told the AP it started evaluating bids from demining companies in July and would sign contracts once the assessment is complete.
"Developments in Syria to this day have not affected our plans or work," the ministry said. NATO said it is assisting with "technical preparations" for the mine clearance.
Cenk Sidar, managing director of Sidar Global Advisors, a Washington-based consultancy, said he believed that Turkey would sign contracts but wait until the Syrian civil war is resolved.
"According to plans, the government will build electronic border surveillance systems simultaneously with the demining. Even this seems too risky at this point," Sidar wrote in an email. "It may take a few years, and some qualified/selected firms may change their pricing or conditions due to the increasing instability."
Between 2010 and 2011, a Turkish firm, Nokta, and a partner from Azerbaijan cleared more than 1,200 mines around an archaeological site, Karkemish, on the Syrian border. They found anti-tank mines and M14 mines known as "toe poppers." It was hard to work with metal detectors because the soil also contained remnants of coins and other ancient fragments; some mines had to be dug out by hand rather than detonated to avoid damaging cultural treasures.
There is no reliable data for casualties from mines laid by the Turkish military, whose fight with the PKK has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The rebels, who regularly target security forces with mines and roadside bombs, took up arms in 1984 in the name of Kurdish rights; Turkey and the West label them terrorists.
Residents around Akinci recalled a villager who lost a limb to a mine several years ago while cutting trees for military sentries. Halil Kaya, 64, said he had heard of several dozen people over the decades who were killed or injured by mines. A deep furrow runs down Kaya's right forearm from a Turkish military bullet in his days as a smuggler.
Mehmet Dagdeviren, 49, said the Turkish military had softened and now might only fire warning shots at smugglers. He interrupted the chat to take a phone call, then rushed to a car and drove away.
A delivery from Syria needed collection.

Female military members sue to serve in combat

Plaintiff Colleen Farrell, a U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant, speaks during a media conference Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in San Francisco. Several active women military personnel have filed a federal lawsuit to demand combat action, requesting all branches of the military to remove the so-called combat exclusionary rule that bars women from fighting on the front lines. This suit, to be filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, is believed to be the first involving active duty military personnel. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Four female service members filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Pentagon's ban on women serving in combat, hoping the move will add pressure to drop the policy just as officials are gauging the effect that lifting the prohibition will have on morale. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, is the second one this year over the 1994 rule that bars women from being assigned to ground combat units, which are smaller and considered more dangerous since they are often in battle for longer periods.
The legal effort comes less than a year after the ban on gays serving openly was lifted and as officials are surveying Marines about whether women would be a distraction in ground combat units.
"I'm trying to get rid of the ban with a sharp poke," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt, who was among the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit and was injured in 2007 when her Humvee ran over an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
Hunt and the other three women said the policy unfairly blocks them from promotions and other advancements open to men in combat. Three of the women are in the reserves. A fourth, Marine Corp Lt. Colleen Farrell, leaves active duty this week.
Women comprise 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel. The lawsuit alleges that women are barred from 238,000 positions across the Armed Forces.
At a Washington, D.C., news conference, Pentagon press secretary George Little said the Defense Department was making strides in allowing more women into combat. He said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has opened about 14,500 combat positions to women.
"And he has directed the services to explore the possibility of opening additional roles for women in the military," Little said. "His record is very strong on this issue."
American Civil Liberties Union Ariela Migdal, who represents the four women, said Panetta's actions weren't enough. She called for an end to the combat ban. "These tweaks and minor changes on the margins do a disservice to all the women who serve," she said.
"It falls short," she said. "It is not enough."
Marine Corps Capt. Zoe Bedell said she left active duty, in large part, because of the combat exclusion policy. Bedell said she was frustrated that her advancement in the Marines was blocked by her inability to serve directly in combat units.
"The military is the last place where you are allowed to be discriminated against because of you gender," she said.
Bedell said the blurred front lines of modern warfare, with suicide bombs and sniper attacks, have put more and more women in combat situations.
More than 144 female troops have been killed and more than 860 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began, according to Pentagon statistics. Roughly 20,000 of the 205,000 service members currently serving in Afghanistan are women.
Military leaders say they want to make sure lifting gender-based barriers would not disrupt the cohesion of the smaller combat ground units and military operations.
The Marine Corps' top leader, Gen. James Amos, ordered a survey of 53,000 troops to get their views, including whether they believe women in those units would distract male Marines from doing their jobs. The results have not been released yet.
The lawsuit alleges the ban violates constitutional female service members' equal rights. "As a direct result of this policy," the lawsuit states, "women — as a class and solely because of their gender — are barred from entire career fields.
The lawsuit also alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units.
Air National Guard Major Mary Jennings Hegar sustained shrapnel wounds in 2009 when she exchanged fire on the ground in Afghanistan after her Medevac helicopter was shot down. Both she and Hunt received Purple Heart medals for their injuries.
The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Woman fined $105,000 after ex-boyfriend registered car in her name then parked it at airport for three years

A single, unemployed mother claims that she's unlawfully being charged over $100,000 in parking ticket fines for a car she didn't even know belonged to her. Jennifer Fitzgerald said her ex-boyfriend Brandon Preveau, a United Airlines employee, bought a used car, a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo, for $600 in 2008 and registered it in her name without her knowing. The couple broke up in 2009, and he dumped the car in an O'Hare International Airport parking lot.

Now three years later, the car has received 687 parking tickets, equaling a hefty $105,761.81 fine. It's the highest ever fine in Chicago history. Fitzgerald claims that she didn't know the car was parked in the airport. However, even if she did, Chicago law states that any car parked for more than 30 days in a city-owned lot is subject to an immediate tow to a city pound or authorized garage. She's arguing that the majority of the tickets would not have even been issued if the car had been towed.

When she found the first bunch of tickets, she claimed she tried to move the car herself, but she did not have the keys. She then asked the Chicago Police Department to help her move the car, but they did not have access to the lot. She then had the Illinois Secretary of State revoke the licence plates in September 2010 - but the car still received tickets. Fitzgerald then was told to transfer the registration and title to her ex-boyfriend by a judge to give him the responsibility, a move which the city deemed inadequate.

YouTube link.

Fitzgerald has lost her license as a result of all the tickets. The car still remains in an impound lot. A lawyer has taken on Fitzgerald's case for free. She is suing her ex-boyfriend, the city and United Airlines - who she claims should have towed the car 30 days after it was parked - for the debacle. The case will be heard in court in spring 2013.

Judge orders tobacco companies to admit deception publicly

Major tobacco companies must take out advertisements saying they deliberately deceived the U.S. public about the danger and addictiveness of cigarettes, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
The ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia aims to finalize the wording of the advertisements that the judge first ordered in 2006 after finding the companies violated federal racketeering law.
Cigarette butts in an ashtray in Los Angeles, California, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Tobacco companies fought a public admission of deception, calling it a violation of their free speech rights.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the companies' position, finding that the final wording - which the companies and the U.S. Justice Department have fought over for years - is factual and not controversial.
There are five different statements that the companies will be required to advertise.
One of them begins: "A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes."
The advertisements will be placed in media that are still to be determined, and they will be different from the warning labels that already are on tobacco products.
"The government regularly requires wrongdoers to make similar disclosures in a number of different contexts," Kessler wrote, calling the language "basic, uncomplicated".
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, which had urged the strong language, had no immediate comment.
Two of the largest companies, Altria Group Inc and Reynolds American Inc, did not immediately return messages requesting comment. The companies could continue to fight the language with another appeal in a case that began in 1999 with the government's racketeering charges.

More Facebook friends means more stress

A large number of friends on Facebook may appear impressive but, according to a new report, the more social circles ...
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New study identifies physiological evidence for "chemobrain" in cancer patients

A study presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) offers new evidence that chemotherapy can create changes in the brain that affect cognitive function. Using PET/CT scans, researchers detected physiological evidence of chemobrain, a common side effect of chemo in cancer treatment.
Instead of studying chemotherapy's effect on the brain's appearance, [Dr. Rachel A. Lagos] and colleagues set out to identify its effect on brain function. By using PET/CT, they were able to assess changes to the brain's metabolism after chemotherapy.
"When we looked at the results, we were surprised at how obvious the changes were," Dr. Lagos said. "Chemo brain phenomenon is more than a feeling. It is not depression. It is a change in brain function observable on PET/CT brain imaging."

Here's the full press release.

Losing ZZs Adds Pounds

A new study finds several ways that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain.
Losing ZZs Adds Pounds: DNews Nugget

Autism Linked to Air Pollution

Children with the greatest exposure to particulate matter are found to be twice at risk for autism. Read more
  Autism Linked to Air Pollution

The Future's Platinum: Flower Power

800px-Alyssum_montanum2 Fields of native flowers may soon become high tech nanoparticle factories. Read more

Climate Change Threatens French Truffle

Drier summers are killing the prized black truffle that grows on oak and hazelnut trees.  

Random Photo

Brazil deforestation hits record low

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2009, file photo a forest in the Amazon is seen being illegally burnt, near Novo Progresso, in the northern Brazilian state of Para. Brazil's lower house of Congress is expected to vote Tuesday, April 24, 2012, on changes to the nation's benchmark environmental law that detractors say would weaken protections for the Amazon rainforest and stoke more destruction. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, file)
 Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest level in 24 years, the government said Tuesday.
Satellite imagery showed that 1,798 square miles (4,656 square kilometers) of the Amazon were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said a news conference. That's 27 percent less than the 2,478 square miles (6,418 square kilometers) deforested a year earlier. The margin of error is 10 percentage points.
Brazil's National Institute for Space Research said the deforestation level is the lowest since it started measuring the destruction of the rainforest in 1988.
Sixty-three percent of the rainforest's 2.4 million square miles (6.1 million square kilometers) are in Brazil.
The space institute said that the latest figures show that Brazil is close to its 2020 target of reducing deforestation by 80 percent from 1990 levels. Through July 2012 deforestation dropped by 76.26 percent.
George Pinto a director of Ibama, Brazil's environmental protection agency, told reporters that better enforcement of environmental laws and improved surveillance technology are behind the drop in deforestation levels.
Pinto said that in the 12-month period a total of 2,000 square meters of illegally felled timber were seized by government agents. The impounded lumber is sold in auctions and the money obtained is invested in environmental preservation programs.
Environment Minister Teixeira said that starting next year Brazil will start using satellite monitoring technology to detect illegal logging and slash-and-burn activity and issue fines.
"Over the past several years Brazil has made a huge effort to contain deforestation and the latest figures testify to its success," said Adalberto Verissimo, a senior researcher at Imazon, an environmental watchdog agency. "The deforestation figures are extremely positive, for they point to a consistent downward trend."
"The numbers disprove the argument that deforestation is necessary for the country's economy to grow, he said by telephone from his office in the Amazon city of Belem." Deforestation has been dropping steadily for the past four years while the economy has grown," he said
"But the war is far from over. We still have a lot of battles to fight and win."
For Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace coordinator in the Amazon region, said the lower figures show that reducing deforestation is perfectly possible, but he added that "the numbers are still too high for a country that does not have to destroy one single hectare in order to develop."

Great Lakes Filled With Plastic Bits

The world's largest freshwater ecosystem is added to the list of natural places filled with massive swirls of plastic pollution.  
 plastic bag

Alaskan Glacier to Halt Retreat in 2020

The retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier may halt by 2020 after climate change has melted 15 miles of the glacier, relative to its size in 1794. Read more Alaskan Glacier to Halt Retreat in 2020

Australian beaches close as red algae moves in

Several popular Sydney beaches, including the iconic Bondi, resembled scenes out of an apocalyptic film yesterday after an algae bloom turned the water blood red.

Patches of the red algae, a natural phenomenon that can be exacerbated by certain weather conditions, were sighted between Bondi Beach and Maroubra Beach. Both Bondi Beach and Clovelly Beach were closed while authorities conducted tests in the water. Gordon's Bay was also closed due to the algal bloom.

Waverley head lifeguard Bruce Hopkins said the bloom was spotted drifting off the north side of Bondi Beach at around 6.30am. "It has got quite a fishy smell to it,'' Mr Hopkins said. "It can irritate some people's skin but generally not much more than that.''

YouTube link.

Mr Hopkins said the bloom has a "reddy-purple'' tinge and sits on the surface like oil sheen. Red algae was uncommon but not unheard of at Bondi, Mr Hopkins added.

Science News

Polar lake's clue to alien lifeLake Vida    Alison Murray DRI

The discovery of microbes living in the briny, sub-zero conditions of an Antarctic lake could raise the prospects for life elsewhere in the Solar System.

Collared lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus)Ice Age warmth wiped out lemmings

Lemmings became "regionally extinct" five times due to rapid climate change during the last Ice Age, scientists have found. BBC Nature

Entomologist discovers 14 new beetles in Tahiti

Along with being a beautiful tourist destination, Tahiti is also a good place to discover unknown insects. A Cornell entomologist ...
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How Does a Volcanic Crater Grow? Grab Some TNT and Find Out

A new University at Buffalo study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters examines maar craters, which resemble the bowl-like cavities ...
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Hagfish slime as a model for tomorrow’s natural fabrics

Nylon, Kevlar and other synthetic fabrics: Step aside. If new scientific research pans out, people may be sporting shirts, blouses ...
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Thin, long snake crawls out of one of Earth’s biodiversity hotspots

Field and laboratory work has resulted in the discovery of a new species of blunt-headed vine snake from the Chocoan ...
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Largest Predator Performs Acrobatics to Feed

Blue whales execute impressive 360-degree rolls to capture bigger mouth-fulls of krill. Read more whale

The Great Beaver Drop

vIn 1948, the Idaho Fish and Game Department hatched a scheme to relocate beavers by airdropping them into “generally inaccessible wilderness” areas. Before they could perform such a strange task, they had to test their methods and equipment to determine the optimum dropping altitude.
Satisfactory experiments with dummy weights having been completed, one old beaver, whom we fondly named “Geronimo,” was dropped again and again on the flying field. Each time he scrambled out of the box, someone was on hand to pick him up. Poor fellow. He finally became resigned, and as soon as we approached him, would crawl back into his box ready to go aloft again. You may be sure that “Geronimo” had a priority reservation on the first ship into the hinterland, and that three young females went with him. Even there he stayed in the box for a long time after his harem was busy inspecting the new surroundings. However, his colony was later reported as very well established.
Read the rest of the story at Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine. Here.

Animal Pictures