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Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1492   Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Santo Domingo in search of gold.
1776   Phi Beta Kappa, the first scholastic fraternity, is founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.
1812   The majority of Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Armeé staggers into Vilna, Lithuania, ending the failed Russian campaign.
1861   Union General George G. Meade leads a foraging expedition to Gunnell's farm near Dranesville, Virginia.
1862   President Abraham Lincoln orders the hanging of 39 of the 303 convicted Indians who participated in the Sioux Uprising in Minnesota. They are to be hanged on December 26.
1863   The monitor Weehawken sinks in Charleston Harbor.
1876   Jack McCall is convicted for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok and sentenced to hang.
1877   Thomas A. Edison makes the first sound recording when he recites "Mary had a Little Lamb" into his phonograph machine.
1906   Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge flies a powered, man-carrying kite that carries him 168 feet in the air for seven minutes at Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
1917   The Bolsheviks imprison Czar Nicholas II and his family in Tobolsk.
1921   Ireland's 26 southern counties become independent from Britain forming the Irish Free State.
1922   Benito Mussolini threatens Italian newspapers with censorship if they keep reporting "false" information.
1934   American Ambassador Davis says Japan is a grave security threat in the Pacific.
1938   France and Germany sign a treaty of friendship.
1939   Britain agrees to send arms to Finland, which is fighting off a Soviet invasion.
1941   President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues a personal appeal to Emperor Hirohito to use his influence to avoid war.
1945   The United States extends a $3 billion loan to Great Britain to help compensate for the termination of the Lend-Lease agreement.
1947   Florida's Everglades National Park is established.
1948   The "Pumpkin Spy Papers" are found on the Maryland farm of Whittaker Chambers. They become evidence that State Department employee Alger Hiss is spying for the Soviet Union.
1976   Democrat Tip O'Neill is elected speaker of the House of Representatives. He will serve the longest consecutive term as speaker.

Non Sequitur


Spain Study Confirms Hemp Oil Cures Cancer Without Side Effects

By Mark Sircus Ac., OMD

The medical science is strongly in favor of THC laden hemp oil as a primary cancer therapy, not just in a supportive role to control the side effects of chemotherapy. The International Medical Verities Association is putting hemp oil on its cancer protocol. It is a prioritized protocol list whose top five ite
ms are magnesium chloride, iodine, selenium, Alpha Lipoic Acid and sodium bicarbonate. It makes perfect sense to drop hemp oil right into the middle of this nutritional crossfire of anti cancer medicines, which are all available without prescription.

Hemp oil has long been recognised as one of the most versatile and beneficial substances known to man. Derived from hemp seeds (a member of the achene family of fruits) it has been regarded as a superfood due to its high essential fatty acid content and the unique ratio of omega3 to omega6 and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) – 2:5:1. Hemp oil, is known to contain up to 5% of pure GLA, a much higher concentration than any other plant, even higher than spirulina. For thousands of years, the hemp plant has been used in elixirs and medicinal teas because of its healing properties and now medical science is zeroing in on the properties of its active substances.

Both the commercial legal type of hemp oil and the illegal THC laden hemp oil are one of the most power-packed protein sources available in the plant kingdom. Its oil can be used in many nutritional and transdermal applications. In other chapters in my Winning the War on Cancer book we will discuss in-depth about GLA and cancer and also the interesting work of Dr. Johanna Budwig. She uses flax seed oil instead of hemp oil to cure cancer – through effecting changes in cell walls – using these omega3 and omega6 laden medicinal oils.

Actually there is another way to use medical marijuana without smoking the leaf. According to Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, “The usual irritating and toxic breakdown products of burning utilized with smoking are totally avoided with vaporization. Extraction and inhaling cannabinoid essential oils below ignition temperature of both crude and refined cannabis products affords significant mitigation of irritation to the oral cavity, and tracheobronchial tree from pyrollytic breakdown products.[iii]

Dr. Mikuriya continues saying “The usual irritating and toxic breakdown products of burning utilized with smoking are totally avoided with vaporization. Extraction and inhaling cannabinoid essential oils below ignition temperature of both crude and refined cannabis products affords significant mitigation of irritation to the oral cavity, and tracheobronchial tree from pyrollytic breakdown products.”[iv]

Rick Simpson, the man in the above mentioned videos, has been making hemp oil and sharing it with friends and neighbors without charging for it. In small doses, he says, it makes you well without getting you high. “Well you can’t deny your own eyes can you?” Simpson asks. “Here’s someone dying of cancer and they’re not dying anymore. I don’t care if the medicine comes from a tomato plant, potato plant or a hemp plant, if the medicine is safe and helps and works, why not use it?” he asks.

When a person has cancer and is dying this question reaches a critical point. The bravery of Rick Simpson from Canada in showing us how to make hemp oil for ourselves offers many people a hope that should be increasingly appreciated as money dries up for expensive cancer treatments. We are going to need inexpensive medicines in the future and there is nothing better than the ones we can make reasonably cheaply ourselves.

For most people in the world it is illegal so the choice could come down to breaking the law or dying. There is no research to indicate what advantages oral use of hemp oil vs. vaporization but we can assume that advantage would be nutritional with oral intake. Dr. Budwig Below work would sustain this point of view especially for cancer patients.

The Science

According to Dr. Robert Ramer and Dr. Burkhard Hinz of the University of Rostock in Germany medical marijuana can be an effective treatment for cancer.[v] Their research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Advance Access on December 25th of 2007 in a paper entitled Inhibition of Cancer Cell Invasion by Cannabinoids via Increased Expression of Tissue Inhibitor of Matrix Metalloproteinases-1.

The biggest contribution of this breakthrough discovery, is that the expression of TIMP-1 was shown to be stimulated by cannabinoid receptor activation and to mediate the anti-invasive effect of cannabinoids. Prior to now the cellular mechanisms underlying this effect were unclear and the relevance of the findings to the behavior of tumor cells in vivo remains to be determined.

Marijuana cuts lung cancer tumor growth in half, a 2007 Harvard Medical School study shows. The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

This is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy. THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors.

“The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer,” said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine. Acting through cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, endocannabinoids (as well as THC) are thought to play a role in variety of biological functions, including pain and anxiety control, and inflammation.

Researchers reported in the August 15, 2004 issue of Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, that marijuana’s constituents inhibited the spread of brain cancer in human tumor biopsies.[vii] In a related development, a research team from the University of South Florida further noted that THC can also selectively inhibit the activation and replication of gamma herpes viruses. The viruses, which can lie dormant for years within white blood cells before becoming active and spreading to other cells, are thought to increase one’s chances of developing cancers such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease.

In 1998, a research team at Madrid’s Complutense University discovered that THC can selectively induce programmed cell death in brain tumor cells without negatively impacting surrounding healthy cells. Then in 2000, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine that injections of synthetic THC eradicated malignant gliomas (brain tumors) in one-third of treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by six weeks.

Led by Dr. Manuel Guzman the Spanish team announced they had destroyed incurable brain cancer tumors in rats by injecting them with THC. They reported in the March 2002 issue of “Nature Medicine” that they injected the brains of 45 rats with cancer cells, producing tumors whose presence they confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). On the 12th day they injected 15 of the rats with THC and 15 with Win-55,212-2 a synthetic compound similar to THC.

Researchers at the University of Milan in Naples, Italy, reported in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics that non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana inhibited the growth of glioma cells in a dose-dependent manner, and selectively targeted and killed malignant cells through apoptosis. “Non-psychoactive CBD produce[s] a significant anti-tumor activity both in vitro and in vivo, thus suggesting a possible application of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.”

The first experiment documenting pot’s anti-tumor effects took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest of the U.S. government. The results of that study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that marijuana’s psychoactive component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”

Funded by the National Institute of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice — lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia. The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor research even though the researchers “found that THC slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”

“Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids,” an article in a 1975 Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports, “Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded by the oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBN)” — two types of cannabinoids, a family of active components in marijuana. “Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with THC and CBN had reduced primary tumor size.”

Marijuana relieves pain that narcotics like morphine and OxyContin
have hardly any effect on, and could help ease suffering from
illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer.

According to Devra Davis in her book Secret History of the War on Cancer, 1.5 million lives have been lost because Americans failed to act on existing knowledge about the environmental causes of cancer. It is impossible to calculate the added deaths from suppressed ‘cancer cures’ but we do know of the terrible suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who have been jailed for marijuana use.

Hemp oil with THC included has the making of a primary cancer treatment, which even alone seems to have a great chance of turning the tide against cancer tumors. It has the added advantage of safety, ease of use, lack of side effects and low cost if one makes it oneself. Surrounded by other medicinal anti-cancer substances in a full protocol it’s hard to imagine anyone failing and falling in their war on cancer.

THC should be included in every cancer protocol.

Sodium bicarbonate is another excellent anti tumor substance that reduces tumors but is much more difficult to administer than THC hemp oil. Cannabinoids are able to pass through all barriers in the body like Alpha Lipoic Acid so simple oral intake is sufficient. With bicarbonate we need intravenous applications and often even this is not sufficient, often we have to use catheters and few doctors in the world are willing to administer this way.

In the end all cancer treatments that are not promoted by mainstream oncology are illegal. No licensed doctor is going to claim that are curing cancer with sodium bicarbonate though they will treat people with cancer explaining they are balancing pH or some other metabolic profile with this common emergency room medicine found also most kitchens of the world. More than several states have passed laws making medical marijuana legal but the federal government will not relax and let people be free to choose their treatments even if their lives depend on it.

Davis notes that the cowardice of research scientists, who publish thoroughly referenced reports but pull their punches at the end, by claiming that more research needs to be done before action can be taken. Statements like these are exploited by industry that buys time to make much more money. It is a deliberate attempt that creates wholesale public doubt from small data gaps and remaining scientific uncertainties.

They have done that with everything right up to and including sunlight. Everything is thought to be dangerous except the pharmaceutical drugs which are the most dangerous substances of all. Stomach wrenching chemotherapy and the death principle of radiation are legal yet safe THC laden hemp oil is not.

It is legal for doctors to attack people with their poisons but you can go to jail for trying to save yourself or a loved one from cancer with the oil of a simple garden weed. Our civilization has put up with this insanity but there is a great price being paid. In a mad medical world people die that need not and this is a terrible sadness that has destroyed the integrity and ethics of modern medicine.

The science for the use of hemp oil is credible, specific fact-based, and is documented in detail. There is absolutely no reason to not legalize medical marijuana and create an immediate production and distribution of THC hemp oil to cancer patients. Unfortunately we live in a world populated with governments and medical henchmen who would rather see people die cruel deaths then have access to a safe and effect cancer drug.

Meanwhile the Food and Drug Administration approved Genentech’s best-selling drug, Avastin, as a treatment for breast cancer, in a decision, according to the New York Times, “that appeared to lower the threshold somewhat for approval of certain cancer drugs. The big question was whether it was enough for a drug temporarily to stop cancer from worsening — as Avastin had done in a clinical trial — or was it necessary for a drug to enable patients to live longer, which Avastin had failed to do. Oncologists and patient advocates were divided, in part because of the drug’s sometimes severe side effects.”

The differences between Avastin and hemp oil are huge. First Avastin will earn Genentech hundreds of millions where THC hemp oil will earn no one anything. Second there are no severe or even mild side effects to taking hemp oil and lastly it is not a temporary answer but a real solution. Certainly hemp oil will ensure a longer life.

America’s energy future: Coal, gas, solar, water, wind or what?

Consumers. People are consumers. That’s what we do. Consume. And consumption at its essence is no better typified than in ...
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Faux News yanks Karl Rove & Dick Morris off air

You know you’re a hack when your lies are too embarrassing even for Faux News. 

You might remember that on election day during Faux New’s coverage, Karl Rove melted down in spectacular fashion on live TV (that video is at the bottom of this post).While former Clintonista, turned-Faux-News-diva, Dick Morris predicted a massive Romney victory with 325 Electoral College Votes.  Let me share the Morris video right now, because it’s precious – his main argument for Romney’s “landslide” is “unskewed polls“:
It’s so good, let me share a quote:
“We’re gonna win by a landslide.  It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history. It will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nail biter, where in fact Romney’s going to win by quite a bit. My own view is that Romney is going to carry 325 electoral votes…. In the popular vote he’s going to win by more than 5 points…. I base it on reading the polls.  The exact same polls that say Obama is going to win…. When it says Romney’s gonna lose by 3, he’s gonna win by 4.”
Or not.
Now in an effort to move away from the 2012 failures, Faux News is pulling both Rove and Morris from appearances. Faux News never has a problem with pumping out incorrect information, but in this case, the embarrassment of losing so badly must have been too much even for them.
New York Magazine:
A Faux News spokesperson confirmed the new booking rules for Rove and Morris, and explained that Shine’s message was “the election’s over.”
Multiple sources say that Ailes was angry at Rove’s election-night tantrum when he disputed the network’s call for Obama. While the moment made for riveting television — it was Ailes’s decision to have Kelly confront the statisticians on air — in the end, it provided another data point for Faux New’s critics. A spokesperson for Ailes denied any rift between Ailes and Rove, and said the two plan to meet this week.
As soon as everyone forgets about the election, don’t be too surprised to see both Rove and Morris back on Faux News.  But in the meantime, let’s relive Karl Rove’s glorious meltdown on election night – shall we?

Karl Rove Argues With Fox News Election Call

Congress slightly more trusted than car salespeople

Why does Congress rank so high?
In the Navy, this falls into the category of being “lower than whale sh*t.” While Congress is one point higher than last year, they still rank below insurance salespeople and HMO managers, and even below lawyers, bankers and stockbrokers.
From President Obama’s perspective, it certainly does give him a reasonably good position of strength for negotiations with the repugican cabal. Obama’s approval rating is considerably higher than Congress’. This should give him the power to win the day, but will it, and will he take full advantage of it?
Have I got a fiscal cliff deal for you!

On the other hand, if Congress decides to keep playing the losing hand that they have, maybe they will drop below car salespeople in the next poll. With Gallup’s poll record being what it is, Congress may actually already be in last place and we just need Nate Silver to generate the real numbers.
A new Gallup poll finds that only 10 percent of Americans rank the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress as high or very high, while 54 percent give Congress low or very low marks for honesty and ethics.
That puts those elected officials right down there with car dealers: Only 8 percent of those polled gave car salespeople high marks for honest and ethical standards in the poll released Monday.
There’s a lot at stake for the American middle class and relying on the supposed wisdom of one of the least like
d groups in the country sounds risky and it is risky. Congress is so obviously in the pocket of one of the other groups that’s low on the list, business CEOs. Whether CEOs should be ranked above Congress is a debate better left for another day.
Whether or not Obama will hold firm in the negotiations is another issue and from four years of history – including positive movement in the last year or so – I remain cautious with believing in his ability to negotiate. Until I see him negotiate and close the deal, I’m not buying into this popular new theory of Obama as a good negotiator. It’s a nice thought and would like to hope it’s real, but seeing is believing.

Poll shows support for raising taxes on the rich

President Barack Obama smiles as he is introduced by Jim McNerney, chief executive officer of The Boeing Company, before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5,2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Americans prefer letting tax cuts expire for the country's top earners, as President Barack Obama insists, while support has declined for cutting government services to curb budget deficits, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows. Fewer than half the repugicans polled favor continuing the shrub-era tax cuts for the wealthy.
There's also a reluctance to trim Social Security, Medicare or defense programs, three of the biggest drivers of federal spending, the survey released Wednesday found. The results could strengthen Obama's hand in his fiscal cliff duel with repugicans, in which he wants to raise taxes on the rich and cut spending by less than the repugican cabal wants.
As Obama and repugicans joust over ways to avoid tumbling over the cliff when the new year begins, the poll offers scant evidence that the public is willing to sacrifice much when it comes to specific cuts in the name of budget austerity.
Social Security, Medicare and defense account for just over half the $3.8 trillion the government is projected to spend this year. Voters typically voice support for deficit reduction but shy away from painful, detailed cuts to achieve it.
In the poll, 48 percent said tax cuts should expire in January on earnings over $250,000 but continue for lower incomes. An additional 32 percent said the tax cuts should continue for everybody, which has been the view of repugican lawmakers who say raising taxes on the wealthy would squelch their ability to create jobs. Thirteen percent said the tax cuts dating back to 2001 and 2003 should end for all.
"If you are fortunate and have some extra, you need to help those who don't," said Robin Keck, 49, of Golden Valley, Minn., who owns a framing business and supports ending tax cuts for the rich. "I believe people who have more money generally find more uses for it than putting other people to work."
A November 2010 AP-CNBC poll showed similar support for allowing the cuts to expire for people with the largest incomes. Polling earlier in that year had shown a preference for continuing the cuts for everyone, including the wealthy.
Support for renewing the tax cuts for everyone has ebbed among repugicans since 2010, dropping from a high of 74 percent just after the repugicans recaptured the House in that year's elections to 48 percent now. Among Democrats, support for allowing tax cuts for the wealthy to expire was a robust 61 percent, though down slightly from two years ago.
Unless the two parties strike a deal, the new year will begin with the triggering of broad spending cuts plus tax boosts on almost every taxpayer. Economists warn that the brew of sharp deficit cuts — nicknamed the fiscal cliff — could revive the recession.
The battle is occurring when the public trusts the two parties about equally to handle the deficits. Democrats have a slight edge on handling taxes but enjoy a much bigger preference when it comes to addressing Medicare, according to the poll.
Obama was re-elected last month insisting that taxes be raised on the rich as their contribution to deficit reduction. He has proposed continuing shrub-era tax cuts for all but the country's top earners, letting taxes rise on income exceeding $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.
Though repugican lawmakers have long opposed raising taxes on the highest earners, repugican leaders have proposed curbing unspecified tax deductions to avert the fiscal cliff, raising revenue that House Speaker John Boehner, r-Ohio, says could come from upper-income people.
The new poll found that, by 46 percent to 30 percent, more favor cutting government services to raising taxes to tackle budget deficits. That sentiment echoes the view of the repugican cabal, which has emphasized spending cuts during four years of budget battles with Obama.
Yet support for trimming government services has dropped in AP-GfK polls. It was 56 percent last February and 62 percent in March 2011.
Still, Ray Wilkins, 58, of Belton, Mo., a warehouse worker, said, "The government's gotten too big. The federal government tries to do just about everything."
Thirteen percent said budget balancing efforts should focus equally on service cuts and higher taxes, more than doubling that sentiment in previous polls.
When it comes to specifics, people are leery.
By 48 percent to 40 percent, more oppose proposals to gradually raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65. Only 3 in 10 support slowing the growth of annual Social Security benefits. And more people oppose than favor cutting military spending.
Sentiments about culling savings from Social Security and Medicare were similar among Democrats and repugicans. The strongest opposition to raising the Medicare eligibility age came from people ages 30 to 64. People 50 to 64 were most opposed to slowing the growth of Social Security benefits.
Just over half of Democrats favor cutting defense; two-thirds of Republicans oppose it.
People were about evenly split over an idea voiced by defeated repugican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to put a dollar limit on taxpayers' deductions.
Another idea — ending the tax deduction for home mortgage interest in exchange for lower income tax rates — was favored 42 percent to 33 percent, slightly less support than the proposal received in 2010. Homeowners were closely divided over the proposal.
Just over half the poll respondents say they doubt Obama will be able to reduce budget deficits during his remaining four years in office. In his first days in office in 2009, more people than not thought he would be able to do so.
The poll found little change in the nation's partisan makeup after the contentious presidential election campaign, with 33 percent saying they consider themselves Democrats, 23 percent repugicans and 27 percent independents. That's about the same as in AP-GfK polling over the past six months.
The Associated Press-GfK poll was conducted Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,002 adults nationwide. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
 Graphic shows AP-GfK poll results on Congress and the budget

The repugicans are warned against a new debt ceiling fight

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
 Hewing to a hard line, President Barack Obama warned congressional repugicans on Wednesday not to inject the threat of a government default into complex fiscal cliff negotiations aimed at avoiding year-end tax increases and spending cuts that could harm the economy.
"It's not a game I will play," declared Obama as repugicans struggled to find their footing in talks with a recently re-elected president and unified congressional Democrats.
Among the repugicans, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma became the latest to break ranks and say he could support Obama's demand for an increase in tax rates at upper incomes as part of a comprehensive plan to cut federal deficits.
Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said repugicans want to "sit down with the president. We want to talk specifics." He noted that the repugicans had made a compromise offer earlier in the week and the White House had rejected it.
Since then, neither Obama nor congressional Democrats have signaled interest in negotiations that both sides say are essential to a compromise. Presidential aides have even encouraged speculation that Obama is willing to let the economy go over the "fiscal cliff" if necessary and gamble that the public blames repugicans for any fallout.
Eventually, Democrats acknowledge, there will be compromise talks, possibly quite soon, toward an agreement that raises revenues, reins in Medicare and other government benefit programs, and perhaps raises the government's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.
For now, the demonstration of presidential inflexibility appears designed to show that, unlike two years ago, Obama will refuse to sign legislation extending top-rate tax cuts and also to allow public and private pressure to build on the repugican leadership.
So far, the repugican cabal has offered to support non-specified increases to raise tax revenues by $800 billion over a decade but has rejected Obama's demand to let the top income tax rate rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.
To buttress their case, repugican officials in Congress pointed to numerous proposals that Obama has previously advanced that could generate the same amount of revenue he is seeking — without raising rates. The list includes limiting the tax deductions taken by upper-income taxpayers, raising taxes on the oil and gas industry and curbing or eliminating the deductibility of tax-exempt bonds.
Separately, in a bit of political theater, Senate repugican leader Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to allow a vote on Obama's current plan, which calls for a $1.6 trillion tax increase over a decade, in an attempt to show it lacks support.
The majority leader, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, refused.
The "fiscal cliff," with its year-end deadline, refers to increases that would affect every worker who pays federal income tax, as well as spending cuts that would begin to bite defense and domestic programs alike. Economists in and out of government say the combination carries the risk of a new recession, at a time the economy is still struggling to recover fully from the worst slowdown in decades.
Obama delivered his latest warning at a meeting of the Business Roundtable a few blocks from the White House.
He said he was aware of reports that repugicans may be willing to agree to higher tax rates on the wealthy, then seek to extract spending cuts from the White House in exchange for raising the government's borrowing limit.
"That is a bad strategy for America, it's a bad strategy for your businesses and it's not a game that I will play," Obama said, recalling the "catastrophe that happened in August of 2011."
That was a reference to a partisan standoff that led the Treasury to the brink of the nation's first-ever default and prompted Standard & Poor's to reduce the rating for government bonds.
Avoiding that crisis led directly to the current standoff, since part of the compromise then was to set in motion the spending cuts that Obama and Congress are now trying to avoid.
Coburn, a  rebel within the repugican ranks, made it clear months ago he was ready to support higher tax revenue as part of an overall deal to restrain government spending programs.
In an interview on MSNBC, he went one step further.
"I don't really care which way we do it," he said. "Actually, I would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way because it gives us greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., taunted members of the House repugican leadership. They are "like generals, hunkered away in a bunker, who don't realize that their army in the field has already laid down its arms," he said.
A handful of other repugicans in both houses have said in recent days they could support raising the top tax rates. In the House, wingnuts say they suspect House Speaker John Boehner let it be known he wouldn't mind the discussion, even though he made a case in a closed-door meeting of the rank and file last week that raising rates would be worse for the economy than raising revenue by closing tax loopholes.
House repugicans opened the week by proposing a deficit reduction plan that includes raising $800 billion in higher revenue and curtailing cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other government benefit programs as part of a plan to cut deficits by $2.2 trillion over a decade.
In addition, they recommended raising the age of eligibility for Medicare beginning in a decade, a step that generates no savings in the next 10 years but makes longer-term changes that would strengthen the program's financial foundation.
The White House ridiculed that plan as "magic beans and fairy dust," saying taxes must rise on families earning $250,000 or more to generate enough revenue to deal with the nation's fiscal crisis.
Obama dispatched Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the Capitol last week with a proposal that would raise taxes by $1.6 trillion over a decade, make relatively small spending cuts and include new funding to stimulate the economy as well as renew expiring unemployment benefits, help hard-pressed homeowners and protect doctors who treat Medicare patients from a looming cut in reimbursement rates.
He also sought authority to raise the debt ceiling subject only to a congressional vote to override his decision. Under current law, Congress must approve any increase before it takes effect.

Repugican leaders remove 4 from plum House committees

FILE - This Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas speaking in Emporia, Kansas, before winning his seat in Congress. House Speaker John Boehner's decision to take plum committee assignments away from four Republican lawmakers after they bucked party leaders on key votes isn't going over well with conservative advocacy groups. Huelskamp will lose his seat on the House Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan next year. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)
House Speaker John Boehner's decision to take plum committee assignments away from four wingnut repugican lawmakers after they bucked party leaders on key votes isn't going over well with advocacy groups that viewed them as role models.
reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan will lose their seats on the House Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan next year. And reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona are losing their seats on the House Financial Services Committee.
The move is underscoring a divide in the repugican cabal between tea party-supported conservatives and the House repugican leadership.
"This is a clear attempt on the part of repugican leadership to punish those in Washington who vote the way they promised their constituents they would — on principle — instead of mindlessly rubber-stamping trillion dollar deficits and the bankrupting of America," said Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party group FreedomWorks.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, would only say Tuesday that the party's steering committee chaired by the speaker made the decision "based on a range of factors."
Groups aligned with the tea party movement were generally big supporters of Huelskamp, Amash and Schweikert. Jones is viewed more as a wingnut maverick than a tea party repugican. He has frequently siding against repugican leaders on a range of issues over the years. For example, he voted against the repugican budget because he opposed the changes proposed for Medicare.
Schweikert said it was made clear to him "I should vote for the team more."
"Look, we're walking into the 113th Congress with a smaller majority," Schweikert said. "I would have though the fixation would have been family unity. This isn't the way you start a family meeting."
"The repugican leadership might think they have silenced wingnuts, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our wingnut delusions," Huelskamp said in a statement Tuesday. "This is clearly a vindictive move and a sure sign that the repugican establishment cannot handle disagreement."
All four lawmakers had voted against the summer 2011 deal negotiated between repugican leaders and President Barack Obama for extending the government's ability to borrow money in exchange for $1 trillion in spending cuts and the promise of another $1 trillion in reduced deficits. Three of the four, the exception being Schweikert, voted against the Ryan-written repugican budget blueprint that the House passed last March.
Their removal from key committees with jurisdiction over the two issues was viewed by some as a signal to other repugican lawmakers to look favorably on whatever final deal Boehner and Obama put together to avert a "fiscal cliff" combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts in January.
"It's sending a clear message to get behind the leadership no matter what the policy is, and that is contrary to what the repugicans supposedly stand for," Freedomworks' Kibbe said.
"If it was intended to be a signal, it's going to be a weak signal because the majority of winguts are going to do what they think is right based on their delusions," Jones, the North Carolina congressman, said.
Amash said he has not been told specifically why he was removed, only that it was not based on his votes and that he should go talk to leadership. He said he voted with the Budget Committee's leadership 95 percent of the time. He said the move is likely to make him more independent in the future.
"Being nice to leadership and playing well with them doesn't pay off," Amash said. "They expect a near total agreement with their approach."
The changes in committee assignments could bring about more discipline from the repugicans on high-priority issues next Congress, but wingnuts were taking the news as an attack on their priorities.
"As the sun rises this morning we can look at John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy and know the opposition is not just across the aisle, but in charge of our own side in the House of Representatives," Erick Erickson wrote on the wingnut website, RedState. "All the time and energy I would otherwise have to spend to convince wingnuts that these gentlemen would be a problem for the repugican cabal has been spared. They've proven it themselves."

Boehner purges Tea Party members over budget, Grover Norquist loyalty

Grover, Grover, Grover.repugican House member Justin Amash posted a blistering broadside at the House repugican leadership the other night, via Facebook, for being booted off a key House committee because of his insistence on voting against the House leadership in budget battles, and for Grover Norquist.
First, about losing their seats:
reps. Justin Amash (r-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (r-Kan.) lost spots on the House Budget Committee, according to an aide. The Hill listed Amash earlier this year as one of the House repugican’s most frequent defectors.
In particular, Huelskamp cited a video he recently posted to his congressional website urging repugicans to adhere to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge advocated by Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform, as something that could have upset party leaders.
“It’s clearly meant to punish and penalize in a vindictive manner,” he added.
As Dave Weigel points out, Amash and Huelskamp, among others, are being punished for being too wingnut, read: too Tea Party-friendly and too Grover-friendly:
Over the next two weeks, Washington bubbled with rumors of repugicans agreeing to raise taxes, and violate the pledge they’d made to Grover Norquist, if it got them a “grand bargain” that cut spending on entitlements. Huelskamp responded with a YouTube video in which he warned that “a lot of my colleagues appear ready to break their word,” but when he signed that pledge, he “meant it.” On Dec. 3, repugican leaders sent an open letter to President Obama admitting that their ideal plan couldn’t pass, but some combination of entitlement cuts and “revenue” enhancement could. Conservatives like Huelskamp attacked, joined by David Koch’s Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation.
This was when Huelskamp learned he’d lost the plum committee assignment. Joining him in exilewere Michigan rep. Justin Amash, who’d also been bounced from Budget, and Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, who’d lost a place on Financial Services. Huelskamp and Amash had both voted against Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget when it got into the committee, on the grounds that it didn’t balance fast enough….
Conservative activists interpret the Amash/Huelskamp/Schweikert purge as a rearguard action against the party base. There’s reason to believe them. The 2011 debt limit standoff cratered public opinion of the repugican cabal, and when it didn’t recover, leaders started to criticize the new outside groups that had subjected repugicans to litmus tests, threatening them if they cast wayward votes. On Tuesday, Amash said he voted against the 2013 Ryan budget—after “voting with our team 95 percent of the time”—because “we did not take a strong enough stance in dealing with our debt.” That was exactly the argument made by Heritage Action, the campaign branch of the conservative think tank, which had launched in the Tea Party year of 2010. Republican leaders can’t punish Heritage, but it can punish back-benchers.
And here’s the blistering broadside against Boehner that Justin Amash posted on Facebook last night:
Rumor has it that I’ve been removed from the House Committee on the Budget. Remarkably, I still have not received a single call, e-mail, or text from repugican leadership confirming this story. In fact, I wouldn’t even have learned about it if not for the news reports. I look forward to hearing from my party’s leadership about why my principled, conservative voting record offends them. That’s sure to be a lively and entertaining conversation.
In the meantime, I can only speculate as to what specifically would make repugican leadership punish several of its party’s most principled members. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who was kicked off of both Budget and the Committee on Agriculture, voted with me against the 2013 House budget resolution because it does not sufficiently address the federal government’s debt crisis. That was one of only three times during this Congress that I voted against the Chairman’s recommendations in committee. In fact, I voted with the repugican Chairman more than 95% of the time, and I have voted with my party’s leadership more than three-quarters of the time on the House floor.
What message does leadership’s heavy-handedness send? It says that independent thinking won’t be tolerated, not even 5% of the time. It says that voting your conscience won’t be respected. It says that fulfilling your commitment to your constituents to work with both repugicans and Democrats to reduce our debt takes a back seat to the desires of corporate special interests. And, most troubling for our party, it says to the growing number of young believers in liberty that their views are not welcome here.
I’ll miss working with my colleagues on Budget. I don’t relish this situation, but if one thing is clear based on the response from the grassroots, it’s that leadership’s actions will backfire. If they think kicking me off of a committee will lead me to abandon my principles or stifle my bipartisan work toward a balanced budget, I have a message for them: You’re dead wrong.
Young believers in liberty?  You go get ‘em, Paul Revere.
Oh, and as an aside, I’m loving the comments on Amash’s Facebook page:

You’d think jesus would know how to spell.

LA ports reopening after crippling strike

Shipping containers are seen as port operations are halted during a strike at the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says both sides in a strike at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have agreed to federal mediation. However, the union representing clerical workers says the strike now in its eighth day will continue. Clerical workers are striking 10 terminals at the nation's busiest port complex and dockworkers won't cross picket lines. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Work resumed Wednesday at the nation's busiest port complex after a crippling strike was settled, ending an eight-day walk-off that affected thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in cargo.
Gates at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors reopened, and dockworkers were ready to resume loading and unloading ships that had been stuck for days, Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.
"It's going to take a few days, maybe a week or two to get back to normal," Long Beach port spokesman Art Wong said.
Dozens of ships were stuck idle at the complex or delayed on their way in, officials said. Auto parts, retail merchandise for January sales and repair parts for Redbox video kiosks were among the items that could be late in getting to their destinations around the country, Wong said.
Television reports showed huge cargo vessels moving into port, and a line of trucks waiting to enter a terminal.
Clerical workers who said that shippers were outsourcing their jobs struck on Nov. 27 and thousands of dockworkers in the same union refused to cross picket lines, paralyzing much of the port complex that handles 44 percent of all container cargo that arrives by sea nationwide, including items such as cars from Japan and computers from China.
Negotiators reached a tentative agreement to end the strike late Tuesday, two hours after federal mediators arrived from Washington, D.C. No details about the terms of the deal had been released by early Wednesday, though a statement from the workers' union said it had won new protections preventing jobs from being outsourced.
Port officials estimated that roughly $760 million worth of cargo a day failed to move through the ports during the walkout. Some 20 ships diverted to other ports in California and Mexico while others scheduled to reach Southern California simply didn't sail.
A full account of all of the goods affected was not immediately available; holiday items had arrived weeks ago.
Days of negotiations that included all-night bargaining sessions suddenly went from a stalemate to big leaps of progress by Tuesday. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the sides were already prepared to take a vote when the mediators arrived.
"I'm really pleased to tell all of you that my 10,000 longshore workers in the ports of LA and Long Beach are going to start moving cargo on these ships," said Ray Familathe, vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. "We're going to get cargo moved throughout the supply chain and the country and get everybody those that they're looking for in those stores."
At issue during the lengthy negotiations was the union's contention that terminal operators wanted to outsource future clerical jobs out of state and overseas — an allegation the shippers denied.
Shippers said they wanted the flexibility not to fill jobs that were no longer needed as clerks quit or retired. They said they promised the current clerks lifetime employment.
The strike began when 450 members of the ILWU's local clerical workers unit walked off their jobs. The clerks had been working without a contract for more than two years.
The walkout quickly closed 10 of the ports' 14 terminals when some 10,000 dockworkers, members of different unit of the same union, refused to cross picket lines.
Even though the deal was reached soon after their arrival, the federal mediators said they had little to do with the solution.
"In the final analysis, it worked. The parties reached their own agreement," said George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. "There is no question in my mind that collective bargaining is the best example of industrial democracy in action."
During the strike, both sides said salaries, vacation, pensions and other benefits were not a major issue.
The clerks, who make an average base salary of $87,000 a year, have some of the best-paying blue-collar jobs in the nation. When vacation, pension and other benefits are factored in, the employers said, their annual compensation package reached $165,000 a year.
"We know we're blessed," one of the strikers, Trinnie Thompson, said during the walkout. "We're very thankful for our jobs. We just want to keep them."
Union leaders said if future jobs were not kept at the ports, the result would be another section of the U.S. economy taking a serious economic hit so that huge corporations could increase their profit margins by exploiting people in other states and countries who would be forced to work for less.
After the deal was reached, the ports' management said they were "delighted that the terminals will be operating again, that the cargo will be flowing."
The clerks handle such tasks as filing invoices and billing notices, arranging dock visits by customs inspectors, and ensuring that cargo moves off the dock quickly and gets where it's supposed to go.
Villaraigosa, who had been calling for the two sides to reach a deal for days, said he was pleased by the resolution.
"I think it's appropriate to say 'mission accomplished,'" he said.

Hostess employees get 8% pay cut, management gets $1.8m bonuses

You remember Hostess.  Home of the Twinkie.  Gone bankrupt and closing down after the previous CEO tripled his salary, knowing full well they were on their way to the poor house.Well here we go again, Lucy.
While it’s worth noting that current Hostess acting CEO Gregory Rayburn, to his credit, is not accepting a bonus, you have to ask yourself why anyone would be getting a bonus in the first place, with the company in bankruptcy.
Well.  It seems that at the same time the company went into bankruptcy, and now is cutting employees’ pay by 8%, just in time for Christmas, the management team finagled itself a whopping $1.8m bonus.  ”The money is intended as an incentive for 19 top-level managers to remain with the Twinkies and Ding Dongs maker to oversee its liquidation,” the LA Times reports. Right, because you wouldn’t want to lose any of the winners that oversaw a company going into bankruptcy.

Nothing says shared sacrifice like the blue collar guy getting his pay cut while the white collar guy gets a bonus.  (Who negotiated this deal anyway, John Boener?)
Merry Christmas!
And it’s not like Hostess could have found any other good use for that $1.8m in bonuses:
Hostess, which stopped contributing to its pension plans last year, also told the court that it needed to stop paying $1.1 million a month in retiree benefits.
As for acting CEO Rayburn, the reason given for not cutting his pay too – he earns $1.5m a year – is that he’s not on the Hostess payroll.
A lot of Americans have been through similar situations where they’ve been asked to accept temporary pay cuts, but it’s less typical to see the acting CEO – whether he works directly for the company or not – continue at the same pay rate. It’s not what most would consider “working as a team.”
It’s hard to see much future success from a business with a CEO who fails to join the financial pain that others are forced to accept.  Then again, it looks like Hostess is being liquidated.  But if that’s the case, then why give bonuses to keep the management team there if the entire thing is being shut down anyway?
What is also curious is how much big money has been thrown around at Hostess. The unions were forced to take cut after cut but that was never enough.  And now, when the employees keep being told there just is any more money to go around, they found some more money to go around.  (Kind of the way repugicans always find the cash, our cash, to go to war or cut taxes.)

Did you know ...

About Wal-mart, Sears and a mass grave in Bangladesh

And don't listen to wall street - taxing the rich would be good for the economy

Klek Shops

The Berlin wall came down in 1989, for Bulgarians that meant finally escaping the clutches of Communism. In Sofia, that capital city, things were a challenge with high rent prices and opening up new business with a store front was no easy task. So what to do? Open a business in a basement, that's what!
"Klek" shops are small pop-up convenient stores that operate out of basements, using a small window as a means of doing business. These aren't new, klek shops have been around since the fall of the wall, but they are starting to disappear. Luckily Deviantartist Sograph has put together a great gallery of the shops around Sophia before they are all gone.

Amsterdam planning to segregate anti-social offenders in 'scum villages'

Amsterdam is to create "scum villages" where nuisance neighbors and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with "minimal services" under constant police supervision. Holland's capital already has a special hit squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six month course in how to behave. Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.  Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam's Labor mayor, has tabled the £810,000 plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behavior every year.

He complained that long-term harassment often leads to law abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbors, being driven out. "This is the world turned upside down," the mayor said at the weekend. The project also involves setting up a special hotline and system for victims to report their problems to the authorities. The new punishment housing camps have been dubbed "scum villages" because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.

"Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighborhood and sent to a village for scum," he suggested last year. "Put all the trash together." Whilst denying that the new projects would be punishment camps for "scum", a spokesman for the city mayor stressed that the special residential units would aim to enforce good behavior. "The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said. The tough approach taken by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam's famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behavior that falls short of criminality.

There are already several small-scale trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for persistent offenders, living under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police. Under the new policy, from January next year, victims will no longer have to move to escape their tormentors, who will be moved to the new units. A team of district "harassment directors" have already been appointed to spot signals of problems and to gather reports of nuisance tenants. The policy is not a new one. In the 19th century, troublemakers were moved to special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam. The villages were rarely successful, becoming sink estates for the lawless. "We have learned from the past," said the mayor's spokesman. "A neighborhood can deal with one problem family but if there are more the situation escalates."

Woman arrested after boasting about bank robbery on YouTube video

A woman accused of a Waco, Nebraska, bank robbery apparently made a YouTube video bragging about it before her arrest. Hannah Sabata, 19, of Stromsburg,  was arrested on Wednesday. She is accused of robbing the Cornerstone Bank branch in Waco on Nov. 27 after stealing a car in York.

In the video, titled “Chick Bank Robber,” Sabata holds up handwritten signs, accompanied by subtitles, in which she says she's having the “best day of her life” because she stole a Pontiac Grand Am and walked away with more than $6,000 when she robbed a bank. She also holds up car keys, saying, “My new car is shiny. Of course I took the plates off already.”

Then she slowly unveils a sign that says, “Then I robbed a bank with a gun, a pillow case and a note,” and holds up a bundle of cash. At one point, she fans herself with the cash. Sabata also claims that she is a “victim of the government” because the state took custody of her baby. She says she plans to pay off student loans and “go on a shopping spree.”

YouTube link. Alternative LiveLeak link.

In the video, Sabata is wearing the same clothes she was wearing when she was arrested. The outfit matches the clothes worn by the robber in surveillance footage. She also puffs on a pipe in the video and holds up a baggie of what she says is marijuana. York County Sheriff Dale Radcliff said a copy of the YouTube video will be turned over as evidence in the case.

Random Celebrity Photo


lackyy: Scarlett Johansson 
 Scarlett Johansson

China to Grow Veggies on Mars?

Could the nation leapfrog the US in the realm of human spaceflight by landing the first extraterrestrial "greenhouse" on Mars? Read more China to Grow Veggies on Mars?

The Trench Talk That Is Entrenched In The English Language

If you're feeling washed out, fed up or downright lousy, World War One is to blame. From cushy to crummy and blind spot to binge drink, a new study reveals the impact the First World War had on the English language and the words it introduced.

New research has shown how the conflict meant that hundreds of words and phrases came into common parlance thanks to the trenches. Among the list of everyday terms found to have originated or spread from the conflict are cushy, snapshot, bloke, conk out and pushing up daisies.

The World's Toughest Survivors

Was traffic unbearable this morning? Boss not appreciative of your work? Did that barista put too much foam on your latte? Cool, maybe some of these folks will sympathize with the hard day you've had. Like the Chilean miners who spent 69 days underground after the mine they were working in collapsed, or the guy with the broken leg who crawled five miles back to camp after he was left for dead.

Gladiator's Tomb to Be Reburied

The large marble monument of Marcus Nonius Macrinus will be reburied as an archaeological project runs out of funds. Read more Gladiator's Tomb to Be Reburied

How Did the Oracle at Delphi Really Prophesize?

A scientific explanation for what caused this woman of ancient Greece to utter her confused prophecies. Read more
  How Did the Oracle at Delphi Really Prophesize?

Oldest Dinosaur Found

A Labrador retriever-sized animal lived a record 243 million years ago, calculations show. Read more Oldest Dinosaur Found

RIP Little Space Spider

Nefertiti, the first jumping spider to survive a trip into space, has died. Read more RIP Little Space Spider: DNews Nugget

Restaurant owner battered rat to death in the middle of environmental health inspection

The owner of an Indian takeaway restaurant killed a rat in front of horrified health inspectors during the middle of an official inspection. Environmental health officers were left stunned after Rajakumar Rajalingam left the rat in a pool of blood on the floor, in an incident recalling an episode of Fawlty Towers.
Local authority inspectors also found evidence of a serious rodent infestation, including rat and mouse droppings and gnawed chicken bones, in kitchen and "food preparation areas" of the New Chutney Express in Tooting, South London. Health officers were left "horrified" saying that they had "never before witnessed such a scene during a food inspection".

Rajalingam was fined almost £20,000 after pleading guilty at Kingston crown court to a series of food safety and trading standards offenses. He was also sentenced for selling counterfeit goods at his general store on the local high street after trading standards discovered counterfeit Jacob's Creek wine in the shop. The court also heard that Wandsworth council took legal action against him in 2007 for selling counterfeit champagne.

A Wandsworth Council spokesman said: “This was a shocking catalog of hygiene and food safety breaches. These premises were in a truly appalling state and posed an unacceptable danger to public health. The judge was quite right when he told Mr Rajalingam that he should be ashamed of himself." He added: "This should of course act as a warning to other food retailers who are prepared to play fast and loose with food safety laws."

Police seek owner of endangered stuffed dwarf crocodile found in German wood

A prankster who thought it would be good fun to leave a stuffed crocodile in a hunter's private wood at Modautal in Germany is being sought by police who discovered the 6-foot beast was from a protected species and had probably caught by poachers in Africa.

Hunter Joerg Radler, 48, said he had been checking on the woods to make sure everything was in order when he pushed a bush to one side and saw the crocodile motionless on the ground in front of him. He said: "My first thought was that there isn't a pond there and then I suddenly remembered how fast they can run when they want to. I started to back slowly away but then I realised it really wasn't moving and I guessed it was either dead or plastic."

A closer look showed the croc was missing several teeth and after throwing a branch to triple check he called police who quickly identified that it was once a real crocodile that had been professionally stuffed. The beast was identified by experts as having been between 20 and 40 years old and a female of the species Osteolaemus tetraspis - the so-called dwarf crocodile from Africa.

In addition police believe the crocodile was probably illegally caught and smuggled into Europe and as it is a protected species, they are now looking for the former owner with a view to pressing charges. A police spokesman said: "The animal had only recently been stuffed and it had been professionally done. As it is an endangered species threatened with extinction in the wild it is a serious matter."