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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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Daily Drift

We are the champions  ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
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Today is - New Year's Eve Day

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Today in History

1775 George Washington orders recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the army.
1852 The richest year of the gold rush ends with $81.3 million in gold produced.
1862 Union General William Rosecrans' army repels two Confederate attacks at the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stone's River).
1910 John B. Moisant and Arch Hoxsey, two of America's foremost aviators, die in separate plane crashes.
1911 Helene Dutrieu wins the Femina aviation cup in Etampes. She sets a distance record for women at 158 miles.
1915 The Germans torpedo the British liner Persia without any warning killing 335 passengers.
1923 The Sahara is crossed by an automobile for the first time.
1930 Brewery heir Adolphus Busch is kidnapped.
1941 General MacArthur reports that U.S. lines in Manila have been pushed back by the Japanese.
1942 After five months of battle, Emperor Hirohito allows the Japanese commanders at Guadalcanal to retreat.
1944 Hungary declares war on Germany.
1965 California becomes the largest state in population.
1977 Cambodia breaks relations with Vietnam.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

About the most overlooked trends of 2013

About the stinkiest media moments of the year

About project censored's most overlooked stories of 2013

That America is the most inhumane civilized nation on the planet

That scientists theorize on how complex networks develop consciousness

About these 5 unnecessary swat raids that went terribly wrong

That sailors from the USS ronald reagan, which helped with the Fukishima earthquake clean up, are coming down with symptoms of radiation sickness

Happy New Year: Minimum Wage Workers in 13 States Will Get Automatic Pay Raise

Minimum wage workers in over a dozen US states have something to celebrate as they ring in the new year -- a pay raise. …

The New York Times Turns repugican Benghazi Hoax Inside Out

The Times has stated that al Qaeda was not behind the spontaneous" - not planned - Benghazi attack, setting wingnut heads a-spinning…
The New York Times laid down the smack on Benghazi scandal enthusiasts by making some very bold claims of its own. The Times says that “Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda,” that “Anger at the video motivated the initial attack,” and that “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi.” The Times explained that “Fifteen months after Mr. Stevens’s death, the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines”:
One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.
The other, favored by repugicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. The repugicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
As usual, things were not so clear cut. A book, The Benghazi Hoax, has detailed how the wingnuts engineered a scandal out of whole cloth by misusing and fabricating “evidence.” It has also become clear that the media, after first questioning the repugican claims, later became complicit in their spread and perpetuation.
This new piece by the Times is sure to be as unwelcome. FauxNews immediately “debunked” the Times’ claims, calling “liar liar” by repeating all the lies they’ve already told (of course, FauxNews was the key player in the hoax and have the most need to sustain it now). The Blaze, not surprisingly, calls these claims by the Times “shocking” – particularly use by the Times of the word “spontaneous,” a word that rips the entire repugican hoax to shreds.
Says the Times:
The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.
The repugican leaders are insistent that this was an al Qaeda assault. It had to be in order for the Obama administration to be shown guilty (never mind that al Qaeda killed 3,000 Americans without making repugican the shrub guilty).
But the New Your Times report states that,
The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.
Nothing The New York Times says will influence the wingnut scandal machine in the least (as the FauxNews coverage attests). All the facts in the world won’t do that in a cabal that cites the bible without reading it first. Facts are their worst enemy, emotion – angry, fearful emotion – their biggest friend. They will continue to insist on their version of events because it is the version – fact-free as it is – most congenial to their agenda.
I asked once if the repugican Clown Car would ever find its way out of Benghazi and today I still do not see that happening. Benghazi has become catnip for repugicans. Creating a scandal, they instantly believed what they invented and they cannot now conceive a reality other than one in which Barack Obama – necessarily because he is black and Kenyan and therefore a muslim and anti-American – is complicit in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and others.
But what must be because you need it to be is hardly a worthy or reliable determinant of fact, as the repugicans found out both in 2008 and in 2012 when the American people rejected their lies for the facts on the ground. The repugican leaders like Darrel Issa have made it clear they intend to ride Benghazi into the ground and so reports like the Times’ must inevitably be unwelcome. The only good news to the repugican cabal at this point is fake news, like Lara Logan’s recent and inept attempt to scoop an earth-shattering overturning of everything the Obama administration has said about Benghazi.
For fact-seeking, enlightened people, The New York Times report is of great interest. It is to the point, highly readable, and free of obscuring government-ese. It will hopefully restart the dialog on Benghazi in at least some quarters of the mediascape (CNN, for example, is reporting on it without debunking it), and lead us closer to the truth of what happened that night on the other side of the world.

Darrell Issa Hid The Truth About Benghazi For a Year While Attacking President Obama

Darrell Issa who has had the same information the New York Times reported for over a year and sat on his ass wasting taxpayer time and money …
It is an unfortunate human trait to look for some kind of moral wrong or legal malfeasance in specific events to incite general public outrage either to benefit someone or to cast aspersion on someone else. Shortly after repugicans won a House majority in the 2010 midterm elections a corrupt repugican, Darrell Issa, promised his only job as chairman of the House Oversight Committee was to have “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks” investigating the Obama Administration when the 112th Congress began. Issa was desperate to find a scandal to take down President Obama and has investigated everything from the 2009 federal stimulus program to fabricating President Obama’s part in the scandalous repugican government shutdown two months ago.
Issa has wasted taxpayer time and money for three years looking for Obama Administration scandals he subsequently never found, including the tragic deaths of 4 American diplomats in Benghazi Libya on September 11 2012.  Issa’s scandalous investigations aside, it was revealed that an extensive investigation into the attack on the diplomatic outpost that claimed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three diplomats’ lives found no involvement of al-Qaeda or other international terrorists groups whatsoever like repugicans have claimed for over a year. Instead, the attack was precipitated by, as first reported, extremist christians in the United States.
A lengthy and comprehensive New York Times investigation informed what repugicans are desperate to keep under wraps because it revealed the Benghazi attack was “accelerated in part by anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating islam.” The report parroted what any American with half-a-mind has known since repugicans began their relentless propaganda campaign that the Obama administration attempted to cover up al-Qaeda’s alleged role in the attack. According to the chairman of the House Intelligent Committee, repugican Mike Rogers, who kept the al-Qaeda meme alive last month on Faux News, “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an al-Qaeda-led event.”
However, according to the Times, “The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished and had no prior knowledge of the assault.” The report said militants surveyed the U.S. compound at least 12 hours before the assault started, but “the violence also had spontaneous elements fueled in large part by anger at the (anti-islam) video that motivated the initial attack.” It is important to note that the video, titled “Innocence of muslims,” was made by an American and “had also prompted protests for hours the day before at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”
The report continued that “Dozens of people (in Benghazi) joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters.” According to a suspect who denied participating in the attack, “the video insulting the Prophet Mohammed might well have justified the killing of four Americans.”
Still, Congressional repugicans continue to assert that Stevens and three diplomats died in a carefully planned assault by al-Qaeda because they sought to undermine President Obama’s claim that al-Qaeda was decimated after killing its leadership including Osama bin Laden. The repugicans assailed Susan E. Rice for announcing that based on early intelligence reports; the attacks were inspired by “spontaneous street protests that got out of hand as a result of the video denigrating the prophet Mohammed.” Susan Rice was mercilessly condemned by leading repugicans for allegedly lying about the attacks that led her to withdraw her name from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of State.
For the past year-and-a-half repugicans led a phony search for a Benghazi scandal wasting taxpayer time and money, but why did criminal Issa never investigate the christian extremists for making, promoting, and releasing the video that clearly fueled the attacks that killed four American diplomats? If the criminal really wanted to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the attacks he would have begun immediate investigations into American christians and not President Obama.
Issa can hardly claim christian extremists were innocent in provoking the attacks because American non-profit Media for christ obtained film permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and the project was promoted by Morris Sadek by email and on the blog of the National American coptic Assembly. By early September, the film was dubbed into Arabic and broadcast on September 9 on Al-Nas, an Egyptian television station; at this point it is prescient to reiterate the video “had prompted protests for hours the day before (the Benghazi attack) at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.” The extremist christian agitator Terry Jones, known for a quran-burning controversy that led to riots around the world and endangered American soldiers, knew of the video’s existence prior to the Benghazi attacks and promoted it by announcing his plan to show the 13-minute trailer at his cult on September 11, 2012.  It is incomprehensible that the video did not incite protestors to attack the diplomatic outpost due to “anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating islam,” or that extremist christians are not culpable for the violence in Benghazi.
Law professors and constitutional law experts pointed out the government cannot prosecute the film’s producer(s) for its content because of the First Amendment, but regardless of First Amendment rights, the Obama administration asked YouTube to review whether to continue hosting the video at all under the company’s policies. YouTube said the video fell within guidelines because it is against islam, not against muslim people and thus not considered “hate speech.” Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “It does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship.” However, the Supreme Court has ruled that there are circumstances when free speech is not protected and pulling the video before it was exposed in muslim countries would have saved four Americans’ lives.
A popular metaphor for speech or actions made for the explicit purpose of creating panic that can lead to injury or death, “shouting fire in a crowded theater,” is a paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s Supreme Court opinion in the case Schenck v. United States which held the defendant’s speech in opposition to the draft was not protected under the First Amendment. It is true that Darrell Issa is not, and never will be, a member of the High Court, but if he is frantic to get to the bottom of why four American diplomats were killed in Benghazi it is within his purview and duty to investigate the extremist christians who incited protests and outrage at Americans in Cairo, and Benghazi, as a result of an anti-islam video that denigrated the faith and its prophet.
Extremist christians have a right of free speech, but when their “freedom” results in the deaths of, as repugicans continue repeating, “four American heroes,” then they explicitly created panic leading to the diplomats’ deaths. Fundamentalist christians have expressed every form of hate speech imaginable against gays, immigrants, and particularly muslims with impunity and it is high time they are brought to account for their actions. However, there is a tendency in America to give anyone thumping a bible and wrapping themselves in the flag a free pass because they are christians. The current scandal in Washington is that slimy crook Darrell Issa who has had the same information the New York Times reported for over a year and sat on his ass wasting taxpayer time and money pursuing Barack Obama. The repugicans owe Susan Rice a humble apology, the American people tens-of-millions of dollars, and have once again exposed themselves as America’s biggest scandal.

If repugican Led ‘Real America’ Was a Country It Would Be the 3rd Poorest on Earth

If the entire country ever resembled the Southern United States, it would rival the poorest third world nation on the planet with
The repugicans and their teabagger comrades are wont to claim they are the real Americans, and those residing in the former Confederacy like to claim they live in the real America. Never mind that over 150 years ago they waged the nation’s deadliest war to tear America apart, or that they threaten a nullification crusade and secession that led to the Civil War. Now, repugican governors, primarily from Southern states and all ALEC alumni, are running a television ad campaign touting the achievements of repugicans in Southern states they intend on spreading to the rest of the country. It is doubtless the America they created in the South is the goal the Koch brothers, repugicans, and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have for the entire nation. However, if the entire country ever resembled the Southern United States, it would rival the poorest third world nation on the planet and besides less-than-poverty wages, 30% of children living in  dire poverty, and religious fundamentalism as higher education, it would be very deadly indeed.
As if the Southern states did not already distinguish themselves with seriously depressing statistics in every quality of life category, eleven of the top 12 states with the highest mortality rates are located in the South. As a contrast, the top 10 states with the lowest mortality rates are in the Northeast and Western United States and of the 25 states that are above the national average, 19 are blue and just six are red. Conversely, of the 25 states below the national average, 17 are red and just eight are blue. It is no coincidence that states with no environmental policies, little to no access to healthcare or insurance, and no workplace regulations are uniquely repugican-controlled Southern states and all contribute to the higher than normal mortality rates.
Every factor contributing to higher than normal mortality rates is the result of conservative policies that  were paid for by the Koch brothers and enacted by ALEC with propaganda from Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, and Wall Street. They are all organizations representing corporations benefiting from low wages, no corporate taxes, no environmental protections, no labor protections, and no healthcare for what Southerners call the real America.
It is difficult for reasonable Americans to comprehend why people living in the Southern United States vote for repugicans when their policies have transformed the former Confederacy into a poverty-ridden region including the 14 states with the highest child poverty rates in the nation, and in many cases highest in the world.  The South also has the distinction of having the lowest graduation rates in the nation because wingnuts have convinced ignorant Southerners that higher education is the purview of snobbish Democrats who will turn good christian children into dirty fascist liberals, so why graduate from high school. It is likely why Southerners elect repugicans who promise to transfer taxpayer-funded public school money to private religious schools to teach the next generation that destroying the environment is of no consequence because jesus is returning to “rapture” the faithful to heaven and leave sinners behind to suffer a polluted environment during the War of Armageddon.
Every one of the low Southern state ratings are due to voter ignorance that drives them to vote against their best interests and elect representatives beholden to the Kochs and ALEC that created a workforce that made the South the preferred third-world wage-base for first world nations outsourcing their manufacturing. Southern states have supplanted countries like Indonesia, India, and Pakistan because their residents reliably elect repugicans who enacted ALEC legislation such as right to work for less laws, no overtime pay, no workplace safety, and no vacation time every civilized nation provides their workforce.
It is possible repugicans take advantage of Southern state residents due to their predilection to fundamentalist christianity, and it informs the ease at which repugicans convince voters that “the other,” “un-American,” and “not like us” President is in a crusade to destroy America as a christian nation. It is no coincidence that Southern  repugicans pass “no Sharia” laws, Draconian abortion laws, and convince residents voter suppression laws are necessary to preserve their christian way of life. It is likely that many Southerners understand they live, work, and will die prematurely in a hazardous region of the country, but if christ’s return is just around the corner, why worry or change?
Americans living in the Southern states have the lowest wages, least access to healthcare, highest mortality rate, highest child poverty rate, lowest graduation rate, and least amount of protections for their residents.  But they have no-one but themselves to blame because they elect repugicans out of fear, ignorance, and in some distortion of reality; a sense of pride that they are the real Americans living in real America. However, it is a wingnut construct because the Koch brothers bought and paid for it to realize their vision of a transformed America.
It is getting difficult to feel empathy for ignorant Southerners, and if not for the people who want better wages, education, food and healthcare for their children, and a safe environment to work and live, it seems it would be in America’s best interest to let the South secede. However, this is America and decent Americans will continue sending their tax dollars to house, feed, provide healthcare, and attempt to educate a population that is determined to undermine the entire nation and fulfill the Koch brothers’ dream of fifty states as hazardous as the South.

Random Celebrity Photos


Marlene Dietrich, 1929
Marlene Dietrich, 1929

What Happens When You Drop A Screw In A Turbine Engine?

Rare opportunity to demonstrate a sound that no turbine tech wants to hear... ever!

Ten Wacky biblical Conspiracy Theories

The bible sets out the guiding principles of jesus' teachings, offers advice for life, and gives the craziest people on the internet something else to project their madness onto.

And it turns out that for every regular christian drawing inspiration from the bible, there are tons of lunatics using it to turn their collective insanity up to 11. Here are 10 biblical conspiracy theories so flat-out bizarre they'd make Dan Brown weep.

Man offers $500 reward for return of his beloved Teddy Bear

A $500 reward has been put up for the return of a middle-aged Teddy Bear last seen at the Dux Live music venue in Christchurch, New Zealand. Teddy is about 47 years old, white in color and 30cm tall.  His owner, Christchurch car mechanic Doug Macleod, is offering $500 to be reunited with his oldest friend. "This is definitely not a joke," Macleod, 47, said. "He's been in my life since I can remember and I want him back."  
Teddy's last sighting was at Dux Live on December 13, where he spent most of the night stuffed head-first into Macleod's pocket before 'mysteriously disappearing'. "It was a reasonably quiet night for him, no drinking or anything, and he must've just slipped out because I had no idea until I woke up the next morning and was like, ‘where's Teddy?' ".  Macleod went back to Dux Live to ask if Teddy had been handed in and to "have a scope around in the bushes outside".
He even plastered a few "missing Teddy" posters around the area, but has had no luck relocating his wayward bear. Macleod's Addington home has been rather lonely without Teddy.  "Life without Teddy is a little bit different, but I suppose that's life - you lose people and you lose stuffed animals and you've got to carry on. I just wanted to try find him first." Teddy has been in Macleod's life for as long as he can remember. Growing up on a farm in Ashburton, the young duo were inseparable but, during Macleod's early adult life, Teddy spent most days alone, lounging around on the bed.
It wasn't until Macleod's parents moved out of their family home in the early 1990s that Teddy shifted to Christchurch to live with Macleod again. And about three years ago, the bear began joining him for the odd night out at the pub. "He liked to meet people, especially women as he had a knack of getting their attention," Macleod said. "People laugh and hold him and say how cute he is and all the girls come over and say ‘Isn't Teddy lovely'. I'd say 90 per cent of people think Teddy's cute and the other handful laugh at him and think, ‘What a dickhead' about me."

Random Photos

Picky mugger handed back victim's flip phone

Beggars might be not be choosers, but muggers apparently are. A gun-toting mugger in Central Park, New York was so disappointed by his victim’s flip phone that he handed it back.

“Once he saw my phone, he looked at it like, ‘What the f–k is this?’ and gave it back to me,” recalled Kevin Cook, 25, of Brooklyn.
“It’s like a 3-year-old generation Windows phone,” said Cook, who was walking with a friend at 12:30am on Saturday. “I guess he didn’t think he could get anything for it,” Cooke added. “It’s kind of humorous.”

The gunman, who threatened to kill Cooke and his friend, was wearing a dark-green winter coat and blue jeans. His accomplice wore his long black hair in a ponytail. Both fled before police officers arrived.

Woman hypnotized priest before stealing cult donations

A woman made off with Xmas offerings made to a church in the Northern Italian city of Padua after having hypnotized the local priest and entered the cloisters where women are banned to make off with some 1,800 euros in cash.

The money was the total offerings gifted to the parish over the Xmas period.

The 71-year-old priest of Padua's Santa Giustina abbey alerted the police after one of his colleagues informed him of the theft after he came out of the hypnosis-induced trance the woman had placed him under.

She was described to law enforcement officers by the victim as a Roma (gypsy) aged around thirty-five.

A koran healer killed newly-married woman by trampling on her neck

Police in Yemen have arrested a koran healer who allegedly cures spiritual and physical diseases by reciting verses from the Koran, after the death of a patient in northern city of Ibb.

Relatives of a 23-year-old woman had taken her to the spiritual doctor saying she suffered from psychological problems.
The husband of the newly-married woman said that the healer told them that she was suffering from a demonic possession and magic and that he had to use forces to treat her. The woman died when the man trampled over her neck in an attempt to “exorcise a demon from her body”.

The husband collapsed when he heard about the death of his wife as they had only recently married. Many koran healing centers can be found in every corner of the country. Healers say that this practice can treat mental and other diseases.

Police recovered gold chain from thief who swallowed it by putting him on banana diet

Police in Mumbai, India have finally been able to recover an 11g gold chain from a thief after making him eat dozens of bananas. The man had swallowed the chain after stealing it from a doctor on board a long-distance train. When the Kalyan Government Railway Police arrested 28-year-old Damu Gupta on December 22 for snatching the mangalsutra of a women traveler on the Vidarbha Express, they were in no hurry to recover the stolen item.

Officers decided to exhibit extraordinary patience after they realized that Gupta had swallowed the piece of jewellery. So they put him on a banana diet and waited. Their patience paid off at around 1am on Thursday when Gupta excreted the precious metal. They then had the relatively easier task of cleaning the necklace. It is now in the custody of the GRP. Gupta, who hails from Gondhava village in Uttar Pradesh, snatched the gold chain from Sheetal Kamble.
As Kamble raised the alarm, other passengers on the train held Gupta and handed him over to the railway police. However, when officers searched Gupta they did not find anything on him. It was then a passenger informed them that he had seen Gupta swallowing the chain. The police first took him a private hospital in Dombivli where an X-ray report proved inconclusive. The next day, they took Gupta to Thane Civil Hospital. A sonography test revealed the presence of the mangalsutra in his body. Doctors then advised that Gupta be put on a banana diet.

Inspector S Nirmal of Kalyan GRP police said, “He must have had more than seven dozens of bananas in the past three days. Around 1 am on Thursday, the jewellery came out with his stool. We cleaned it and kept it in our custody. We will hand over the item to its owner once the case is over.” Nirmal added, “We have also learnt that Gupta faces many cases in his home state. He will be produced in a court on December 30.” Sheetal’s husband Yadav Kamble, praised the police for the recovery. He said, “I am happy that the mangalsutra is now with the police. I was also informed that the chain-snatcher is under the supervision of doctors. I wish him good health and let the law take its own course.”

Former Indian Minister seeks police inquiry after sudden surge of Facebook likes

A sudden surge of 'likes' on his Facebook page has astounded former Indian Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has approached the police and sought an inquiry.
Suspecting foul play, the Congress MP from Chandigarh has lodged a complaint with the police stating that the number of 'likes' on his Facebook page had shot up from 51,600, on Tuesday to 62,500 on Wednesday.

In his complaint to inspector-general of Chandigarh police R P Upadhyay, Bansal has said he suspected foul play behind the surge in the number of 'likes'. Bansal, who resigned from the railway ministry in May over the Rs 10-crore (£980,000, $1,125,000) 'Railgate', termed it an "abnormal increase".
"This increase happened in just one day and it shows that somebody is doing so without my knowledge and for some ulterior purpose," says the complaint. "Usually, 10 to 20 'likes' are received on my Facebook page every day, but thousands of 'likes' in about 24 hours was alarming," Bansal said. "I'm sure that someone with malicious intentions cooked up these 'likes'." Police forwarded the complaint to the cyber cell for a probe, which will be conducted by DSP Rajesh Kalia.



Subterranean London's Forgotten Pneumatic Dispatch Railway

In 1855, inventor and social reformer Sir Roland Hill commissioned a feasibility study on the construction of a pneumatic tube-based system between the General Post Office and the West District Central Post Office in London, UK.

Developed by the London Pneumatic Dispatch Company, the tube system was meant to transport mail, parcels and light freight between several key locations. But despite favourable reports, the scheme was considered too expensive.

The Icebreakers Of Old

Most of us woke up to presents on Xmas morning. The MV Akademik Shokalskiy ship, on the other hand, found itself trapped in ice up to 10 feet thick on all sides. The research vessel sent out a distress signal, hoping help would arrive as quickly as possible, considering the 74 crew members were currently sitting in the Antarctic sea.

Icebreakers have helped carve paths through frosty seas since the 1800s; of course, the designs of these behemoths have much improved upon the glorified whalers that once sliced through the ice. Here's a look back at the boats that helped humans explore new - very cold - lands.

A 100-Year-Old Box Of Negatives Discovered By Conservators In Antarctica

Almost one hundred years after a group of explorers set out across the frozen landscape of Antarctica to set up supply depots for famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, a box of 22 never-before-seen exposed but unprocessed negatives taken by the group's photographer has been unearthed in one of those shacks, preserved in a block of ice.

This incredible discovery was made by the Conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust who are working to restore an old exploration hut. The 22 cellulose nitrate negatives were left there by Shackleton's Ross Sea Party, which became stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea during a blizzard.

Skiing the Pole

"Parker Liautaud, a 19-year-old geology student, has become the youngest man to ski to the South Pole after completing the journey in 18 days. Along with his expedition partner Doug Stoup they set a new world record for the fastest journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole

The pair skied for 349 miles (561) from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica on December 3 and arrived at 13.43 on Christmas Eve in 18 days, four hours and 43 minutes. During the journey they pulled sleds weighing in excess of 80kg across the Transantarctic mountain range in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius. The duo travelled for up to 12 hours a day, averaging 17 miles (28km) per day.

They were followed behind by a vehicle which filmed the entire journey using long-distance cameras, but offered them no support other than radio contact."

Thousand-Year-Old Vineyards Found in Spain

Traces of ancient vineyards that date back 1,000 years were discovered in the terraced fields of a medieval village in Spain.

This is Cryoseim

"Around 11 p.m. Xmas Eve, people reported hearing a loud “boom” in Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Belleville, Richmond Hill, and Sutton. Not only was the boom heard, but it rattled houses, leaving many to believe that a tree had fallen on their rooftop...

The most likely explanation is that it was a cryoseism, also known as a frost quake.
Cyroseisms are rare, localized seismic events that occur when a sudden drop in temperature freezes the groundwater, which then expands and cracks the soil and rock. The crack will release a sudden burst of explosive energy, resulting in a loud noise and the shaking of the ground. They usually occur between midnight and dawn."

Daily Comic Relief


Two-headed, six-legged baby gecko found in Thailand

Three men who share a house in Patong, Phuket were woken at around 1am a couple of days ago by a baby house gecko. But this was no ordinary house gecko.
It has six legs and two heads. The second head and the extra two legs stick out from the left side of its body. One of the trio, Ratchapol Pangsri, said: “When my brother found it three nights ago, one of its heads was still covered with eggshell. It’s very small – about the length of a baby’s finger – and it was very weak.”

The baby gecko is being kept in a green plastic bowl. “We are treating it as a pet, giving it food and water.” The men have been putting a little sugar in the bottom of the bowl, which then attracts ants. “We feed it with insects – ants and little bugs. I don’t know if geckos normally eat these things, but it looks much healthier now.”
Dr Sansareeya Wangkulangkul, biology professor at Prince of Songkhla University in Haad Yai, is an expert on geckos. She said; “This is very unusual. House geckos usually live about one year, but I’m not sure about this one because it’s deformed. The owners could try feeding it with black ants, which will not sting the gecko, or with mealworms.” Many Thais are fascinated by deformed animals, regarding them as something supernatural, and examine them and their surroundings for any clues as to the winning lottery numbers for the week.

Want a ‘Pet’ Croc?

The Physics of Ants

Are ants solid, or a fluid? Ants clinging together in a ball act differently from an individual insect. Banded together, they change their nature. Ants are now being studied by physicists, namely Zhongyang Liu and David Hu of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
To flow, they moved around, rearranging themselves in the group, acting like a thick fluid. When the aggregation struggled to keep its shape, the ants clung to each other, acting like an elastic solid — rubber for example.

The research could have practical implications, Dr. Hu said, for self-assembling robots, which build themselves out of smaller bits and for self-healing materials.
Read more about the research at The New york Times.

Animal Pictures


Gray Hawk by marzipan bunny

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Daily Drift

We still have the flu, but we still go on ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Bacon  ... !
Today is - Bacon Day

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Today in History

1460 The Duke of York is defeated and killed by Lancastrians at the Battle of Wakefield.
1803 The United States takes possession of the Louisiana area from France at New Orleans with a simple ceremony, the simultaneous lowering and raising of the national flags.
1861 Banks in the United States suspend the practice of redeeming paper money for metal currency, a practice that would continue until 1879.
1862 The draft of the Emancipation Proclamation is finished and circulated among President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet for comment.
1905 Governor Frank Steunenberg of Idaho is killed by an assassin's bomb.
1922 Soviet Russia is renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
1932 The Soviet Union bars food handouts for housewives under 36 years of age. They must now work to eat.
1947 Romania's King Michael is forced to abdicate by Soviet-backed Communists. Communists now control all of Eastern Europe.
1965 Ferdinand E. Marcos is sworn in as the Philippine Republic's sixth president.
1972 After two weeks of heavy bombing raids on North Vietnam, President Nixon halts the air offensive and agrees to resume peace negotiations with Hanoi representative Le Duc Tho.
1976 Governor Carey of New York pardons seven inmates, closing the book on the Attica uprising.
2006 Saddam Hussein, former Iraq dictator, is executed by hanging for crimes committed against his own people during his rule.

Non Sequitur


The Most Ridiculous repugican Attempt to Paint President Obama as a Racist You Will Ever See

by Allen Clifton
I’ve been thinking about doing a satire piece about repugicans accusing President Obama of being a racist.  But after reading the comments that came from freshman Florida Congressman Ted Yoho, no amount of creative satire could be nearly as ridiculous as what he actually said.
Essentially, he said that the 10% “tanning tax” included in “Obamacare” is a racist attack based on the color of someone’s skin.
I swear to you, that’s what he said.

Here are his actual comments during a town hall meeting in Florida:
“I had a little fun with Boehner and told him about the sun tanning tax.  He goes, ‘I didn’t know it was in there,’ and I said, ‘Yes, it’s a ten percent tax.’ He goes, ‘Well, that’s not that big of a deal.’ I said, ‘It’s a racist tax.’ He goes, ‘You know what? It is.’”
His explanation:
“I had an Indian doctor in our office the other day, very dark skin, with two non-dark skin people, and I asked this to him, I said, ‘Have you ever been to a tanning booth?’ and he goes, ‘No, no need.’ So therefore it’s a racist tax and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”
So, President Obama is attacking people for the “color of their skin” because of a 10% tax on tanning booths he included in “Obamacare.”
I can’t even properly respond to this level of stupidity, because the language I would use wouldn’t be appropriate.
All I can say is—wow.
But shockingly, this isn’t the first time President Obama has been called a racist for including a 10% tanning tax in the Affordable Care Act.  Just last year former Congressman Allen West echoed the same sentiment, telling a group of people the tax was racist because “he isn’t tanning.”
Allen West is, of course, African American.
Or maybe the fact that tanning booths have been linked to skin cancer might be the reason why there’s a 10% tax attached to a law about health care.  Just a wild hunch.
The ironic part is, I’ve known Italians, Hispanics, African Americans and others with darker than average skin who’ve used tanning booths.  So isn’t it really racist to imply, as Yoho and West have done with their comments, that it’s only Caucasians who would use them?
But there’s no real point to try utilizing logic, rational thoughts or even sanity when trying to understand the ignorantly insane.
Congressman Yoho’s comments are simply those of a buffoon—pure and simple.  There’s no reasoning behind them.  There’s no logic and they defy rational thought.  They define ignorance, and repugicans should be ashamed people like Yoho represent their party.
Sadly, I highly doubt many of them are ashamed.  It’s just par for the course with this group of nincompoops and the people who vote for them.

Michele Bachmann Heads Further Off the Deep End, Claims Obama Has Brought About “End Times”

by Thomas Barr 
Yes, Michele Bachmann is still a United States Congressperson and yes, she is still on the House Committee on Intelligence. Let that sink in before reading the rest of this story (which is not satire, by the way).
…. sigh ….
Speaking on Jan Markell’s “Understanding the Times” apocalyptic-themed radio program on Saturday, Bachmann showed us once again that yes, she is absolutely capable of wading further into the waters of utter insanity. If you can stomach reading it (oh, and there’s audio too), Bachmann said:
“President Obama waived a ban on arming terrorists in order to allow weapons to go to the Syrian opposition… Your listeners, US taxpayers, are now paying to give arms to terrorists including Al Qaeda. This happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists. Now what this says to me, as I’m a believer in jesus christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in god’s end times history…  The prophets longed to look into the future to see these days of his coming! Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice! Maranatha come lord jesus, his day is at hand!”
And for good measure, she added:
“And so when we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; that these days would be as the days of Noah. We are seeing that in our time. Yes it gives us fear in some respects because we want the retirement that our parents enjoyed. Well they will, if they know jesus christ.”
You hear that, folks? praise the lord, jesus is coming! President Obama armed Syrian rebels, so therefore… jesus!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way trying to demean christians, christianity as a whole, the bible, jesus or anything about any religious belief. But come on… There’s a thin line between devout christianity and believing in jesus, and twisting that into something that borders mental illness and completely contorts christianity to suit your own insidious agenda. If anybody is demeaning christianity, it’s Michele Bachmann.
Just look at this woman’s own words. They don’t even make sense! 
“This says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in god’s end times history…  The prophets longed to look into the future to see these days of his coming! Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice! Maranatha come lord jesus, his day is at hand!”
“And so when we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; that these days would be as the days of Noah.”
Is she saying that because she exists, that is proof that we’re in the “end times?” Because her and her fellow tea party repugicans are the only ones in government who have proven time and time again that they think “up is down and right is called wrong.” Feeding the poor and healing the sick? Wrong! Proven science and history? Wrong! 
Seriously, Rep. Bachmann has always been a little off her rocker, but it seems like ever since she made the announcement that she won’t be seeking re-election, she’s used that as an excuse to trade the rocker in for an apocalyptic broom and pointed hat. Gone are the rather amusing days of talking into the wrong camera and looking crazy on magazine covers; she’s now conducting crazed press conferences in Egypt and hitting the airwaves on Armageddon radio to apparently sing the praises of President Obama for summoning the return of jesus.
Aside from the utter absurdity and borderline insanity of her comments, let’s not lose sight of how terribly misguided she is on her understanding of the “Last Days.” Bachmann, like millions of others in our country today, would do herself well to reassess whether she truly knows prophecy and when “jesus will return.” As my colleague Arik Bjorn has pointed out in a fantastic piece which I’d highly encourage checking out:
Suddenly christianity’s coded comfort codex is turned into an Agatha Christie whodunit.  And each passing generation, further removed from the text’s original intent and increasingly anxious that Jesus has not yet returned as long ago promised, interprets Revelation more and more as a Hollywood disaster film.  As one of my theology professors once put it:  “In the past millennium, not one generation has gone by without christians insisting that the Book of Revelation points to christ’s imminent return, and that all of the text’s cryptic references can easily be mapped to the current political world.  And every single generation has been spectacularly wrong.
I don’t have a problem with people believing what they want to believe, as long as they aren’t doing harm to others in the process. We have the First Amendment for a reason, and even the craziest get to utilize their rights. But there’s a difference between nutjobs like those associated with the Westboro baptist cult utilizing their First Amendment rights (as disgusting as they might be), and a whacko like Michele Bachmann utilizing hers. She is a sitting member of Congress, with direct influence over matters of intelligence in our country. She helps to oversee the CIA, FBI, NSA, DOJ and several other extremely important (and sensitive) departments. And here she is, expressing her belief that President Barack Obama has brought us to the Last Days.
Congresswoman, do us all a favor and just resign from your position in Congress. It’s obvious you’re more interested in expressing your opinions on Armageddon rather than doing any sort of actual governing — you’d do the whole country (which you claim to love) a good deed by stepping down immediately.
I’d highly encourage everybody reading this to stop by Rep. Bachmann’s Facebook page and let her know your thoughts, as well.

Low-wage, hourly workers struggle with inadequate hours, schedule uncertainty

The Arbitration Trap

You can't generally just opt out of this forced arbitration. The provisions are baked in to the products we use every day. Our cell phones, cable and Internet. Credit cards, payday loans, car loans, mortgages. Car rental contracts. You can hardly talk or move or buy anything without signing away your rights.
It's bad enough that thousands of people every day are signing away a core constitutional right without realizing it. But the problem with mandatory arbitration isn't just that you can't get a trial. It's that the arbitration people are stuck with is so unfair.
Arbitration is not just a friendly, low-hassle, let's-talk-it-over alternative to a mean, scary court proceeding. Time after time, arbitration has been found to favor corporations over complainants. One report from 2007 found that consumers in California arbitration cases won just 4 percent of their cases. The companies typically choose the arbitrator and the location. Consumer advocates argue that arbitrators reach decisions that please the corporation, rather than decisions based on facts, in hopes of getting repeat business.

The Media Calls Out repugican Grinches and Scrooges For Screwing Over the Unemployed

The repugicans end the year with a bang, being called Grinch and Scrooge by US News and the Daily Beast for allowing long term UI benefits to end …
In case you missed it, this past year was the year of the repugican rebrand. Yes, they were to move away from the cabal of You People disdain, carefully avoiding legitimate rape and lemon pregnancies, while stepping around their contempt for arguably more than 47% of the country. All of this rebranding was to be in service of a tent that did not collapse upon them when the old Faux watching white men died.
Instead, repugicans end the year with a bang, being called Grinch and Scrooge by US News and the Daily Beast (neither of which are liberal outlets), as well as becoming a constant target in political cartoons for their now infamous miserliness when it comes to the people, and their utter spinelessness when it comes to corporations and rich white men.
So it is at the end of 2013 that 1.3 million Americans stand to lose their emergency unemployment benefits and repugican hero Rand Paul announced that he doesn’t understand what a lack of jobs means. The Kentucky Senator justified the repugican cabal position of refusing to extend unemployment benefits to the long term unemployed with this bit of idiotic confusion, “When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.”

The Senator apparently hasn’t stopped reading novels intended for juvenile boys because nothing in his statement reflects an awareness of reality here on Earth. On Earth, where gravity is a thing and global climate change exists, America is short on jobs. We have been since 2007. This is why President Obama has been pushing his jobs bill since he took office. But repugicans don’t believe in passing a jobs bill or in extending long term unemployment benefits, because once again they appear to believe in the Magic Fairy of Luck who creates jobs for those with good intentions and starves the children of the rest.
Some in the media are not impressed. On Xmas Eve, US News ran, “The repugican cabal Embraces Its Inner Grinch: repugican opposition to extending unemployment benefits is cold-hearted and wrong-headed By Robert Schlesinger.”
Mr. Schlesinger wrote:
Occasionally, in politics, parties drop the pretense, stop fighting it and just embrace their caricatures. So the repugican cabal, which every December transmogrifies in its critics’ eyes into the living embodiment of Dr. Seuss’ Grinch, has embraced the role.
How else can one explain the fact that, thanks to the repugican cabal refusing to allow an extension, Congress is just days away from letting supplemental unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million Americans? And that’s just for starters. According to the White House Council on Economic Advisers, an additional 3.6 million people will lose their benefits by the end of 2014. These families should not, in other words, splurge on a Xmas feast of Who-pudding and rare Who-roast beast.
Jamelle Bouie at The Daily Beast was on the same page only he saw Scrooge instead of the Grinch with “the repugican cabal Decides to Play Scrooge as Millions Lose Benefits: repugicans are all that stands between security and crisis for the millions of Americans who are set to lose emergency unemployment benefits”:
Even after you get a job, the harm from long-term unemployment can last for years. Indeed, the idea that this is something people enjoy—that anyone wants to stay idle—is ludicrous. “If you look at the long-term unemployed, a good chunk of them have children. A good chunk are married. A good chunk are college-educated or have had some college and in their prime earning years,” writes Michael Strain of the wingnut American Enterprise Institute, “It strikes me as implausible that this person is engaged in a half-hearted job search.” People want to work, the problem is that—with three seekers for every position—there aren’t enough jobs to go around.
Mr. Bouie felt compelled to explain math to the Scrooges in the repugican cabal, as in: There are 3X number of people but only X number of jobs. Forget math! The Republicans believe in the Magic Fairy over math and science. The Magic Fairy creates jobs for the worthy. The Magic Fairy makes sure everything is fair and no one who is worthy is ever unlucky.
This is the mentality of actual Senators running this country — they still believe that lucky is indicative of character, which implies justice is inherent in their good fortune and therefore other people’s bad fortune is their fault. This is a very small-minded, immature set of beliefs caused by an over-inflated sense of self combined with smug privilege that seeks to place causality where there is none.
Sure, hard work is often behind success, but as an example, hard work is not evident among the very privileged repugicans in the House of Representatives, and yet they still have great jobs with healthcare. Therefore, there is something else at play besides hard work.
And all of the grown ups can see this truism and have had to accept tough facts of life like unintended pregnancy caused by rape and desperately needing a job and still not getting one. You see, contrary to the beliefs of little boys like Senator Paul, we don’t always get what we want or need. And that is the very frightening reality that most of America has to deal with at some point, while the children of the repugican cabal play Scrooge out of willful blindness and epic selfishness.

The repugican Lies Rejected

73% Say Congress Has Done Nothing To Help the American People 
A new CNN poll found that the American people aren’t buying what repugicans are selling as 73% of those polled said the repugican cabal has done nothing to address the nation’s problems.
Every demographic group in the poll agreed that this Congress is the worst that they have ever seen in their entire lives. Women, men, African-Americans, repugicans, Democrats, Independents, rich, poor, old young all agree that this Congress is the worst.
The bad news for repugicans is that they aren’t fooling anyone with their rhetoric about doing the work of the American people. 73% of respondents said that this Congress has done nothing to address the nation’s problems. The negativity cuts in every direction. 52% believe Democratic policies would take the country in the wrong direction. 54% believe repugican policies would take the country in the wrong direction, and the same 54% believe President Obama’s policies would take the country in the wrong direction.
It may not look like it, but there is a possible advantage available for the president and the Democrats. While John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and congressional repugicans are trying to convince the American people that doing nothing is a productive political agenda, Democrats are hard at work on a platform for 2014 that is centered on job creation, tax fairness, and raising the minimum wage.
As the healthcare rollout continues to smoothly progress, President Obama’s poll numbers will rebound. The president is still being hurt by the barrage of bad media coverage that surrounded the ACA website rollout, but he also has a growing economy working in his favor. If the economic message takes center stage in 2014, Democrats will be in a great position come Election Day next year.
What this poll reveals is that the American people aren’t stupid. People are paying attention, and they understand obstruction for political gain when they see it. The repugicans have been successful in creating the kind of toxic political climate that holds down turnout in a midterm election year, but they have damaged themselves so badly that the repugican brand may be virtually unelectable in 2016. The repugican cabal’s short sighted strategy looks to be dooming them to a best possible outcome of controlling the House and nothing else for years to come.
The more likely scenario is that Democrats run on their jobs, fairness, and anti-income inequality agenda and end up being the only party discussing the issues that voters care about. The repugicans should be very worried about these poll numbers. They may think that they are getting what they want, but in reality repugicans are sowing the seeds for Democratic victories for years to come.