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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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Daily Drift


 Redwood Trees (by August Lion)
Take a quiet path once and a while ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Makati, Philippines
Somerset, England
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Istanbul, Turkey
Kangar, Malaysia
Dusit. Thailand
Kiev, Ukraine
Jakarta, Indonesia
Davao, Philippines
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Kathmandu, Nepal
Islamabad, Pakistan
Nicosia, Cyprus
Centurion, South Africa
Jogor, Bahru, Malaysia
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Tungi, Bagladesh
Warsaw, Poland
Geneva, Switzerland
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Tbilisi, Georgia
Maribor, Slovenia
Skopje, Macedonia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Gloucester, England
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sofia, Bulgaria
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cairo, Egypt
Mugla, Turkey
Bekasi, Indonesia
Amman, Jordan
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Hanoi, Vietnam
Ankara, Turkey
Sampaloc, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Kuching, Malaysia
Taytay, Philippines
Oxford, England
Paris, France
Manila, Philippines

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Today in History

1719 Philip V of Spain declares war on France.
1776 Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense, a scathing attack on King George III's reign over the colonies and a call for complete independence.
1792 The Ottomans sign a treaty with the Russians ending a five year war.
1793 Jean Pierre Blanchard makes the first balloon flight in North America.
1861 Southern shellfire stops the Union supply ship Star of the West from entering Charleston Harbor on her way to Fort Sumter.
1861 Mississippi secedes from the Union.
1908 Count Zeppelin announces plans for his airship to carry 100 passengers.
1909 A Polar exploration team lead by Ernest Shackleton reaches 88 degrees, 23 minutes south longitude, 162 degrees east latitude. They are 97 nautical miles short of the South Pole, but the weather is too severe to continue.
1912 Colonel Theodore Roosevelt announces that he will run for president if asked.
1915 Pancho Villa signs a treaty with the United States, halting border conflicts.
1924 Ford Motor Co. stock is valued at nearly $1 billion.
1943 Soviet planes drop leaflets on the surrounded Germans in Stalingrad requesting their surrender with humane terms. The Germans refuse.
1945 U.S. troops land on Luzon, in the Philippines, 107 miles from Manila.
1947 French General Leclerc breaks off all talks with Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh.
1952 Jackie Robinson becomes the highest paid player in Brooklyn Dodger history.
1964 U.S. forces kill six Panamanian students protesting in the canal zone.
1974 Cambodian Government troops open a drive to avert insurgent attack on Phnom Penh.

Non Sequitur


The trillion dollar coin solution to the debt ceiling

"[I]f Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, Treasury could avoid catastrophe by creating a … single trillion-dollar coin — deposit it in the Federal Reserve, and, boom, problem solved." New York: repugican member Greg Walden has introduced a bill banning the Treasury Department from using large denomination coins to save the economy from crazed repugicans.

AIG may sue US over $182bn bailout that saved them

As if we needed another example of how poorly executed the bailout was. AIG reportedly recognizes that they needed the $182 billion taxpayer bailout, but they’re now complaining that the terms of the bailout were too harsh for shareholders. To thank the American taxpayer for their sacrifice, AIG’s board is reviewing the possibility of filing a lawsuit for $25 billion against the US government, aka against YOU, the taxpayers, who got no bailout at all, but paid for theirs.Somehow the Wall Street players that destroyed the economy still don’t get why Americans hate them so much. I wonder what the impact would have been for shareholders if the US taxpayers let AIG completely fold?
First, here’s the latest outrage from AIG, then let’s talk a walk through recent history to get the full flavor of just how awful this company really is.
Thanks for nothing, jerks.
Fresh from paying back a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group has been running a nationwide advertising campaign with the tagline “Thank you America.”
AIG logoBehind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders.
The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show. The lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal’s high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer’s Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for “public use, without just compensation.”
Remember the time AIG’s CEO said that the retirement age would have to move up to 70, even 80 years of age?
Or the time, AFTER we already bailed AIG out to the tune of nearly $200 billion dollars, AIG paid $450M in bonuses to retain 400 people who lost $34 billion?
And then AIG’s spoiled rotten employees got all snippy and threatened to leave the company if we kept complaining about their obscene bonuses.  As if anyone would want to hire the guys who sunk AIG in the first place.  Good luck with that.
Or the other time a former AIG head sued the government because he didn’t like the way the bailout went – the one that saved his company’s behind?
Mitt Romney and Bill O’Reilly were right.  There is a class of people in America who simply “want things”: the “AIG class.”

Eleven $1 Billion Disasters in 2012

Eleven weather and climate disasters topped $1 billion in damages in the U.S. in 2012.  
  Eleven $1 Billion Disasters in 2012

Australia Heat Breaks Records

Extreme heat in Australia forced the government's weather bureau to upgrade its temperature scale, with new colors on the climate map. Read more
Australia Heat Breaks Records: DNews Nugget

Genes Boost Fast Food Weight Gain

In a new study, some mice gained twice their body weight when fed a rich diet while others stayed slim. Read more
  Genes Boost Fast Food Weight Gain

California medical pot dispensary operator gets 10 years in prison

Aaron Sandusky, who operates three medical marijuana dispensaries in California, has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars for selling medical marijuana through his dispensaries. Selling pot through dispensaries for medicinal purposes is legal under California law, but federal authorities do not recognize any medical use for the drug. Federal authorities busted Sandusky "for distributing hundreds of pounds of marijuana," says the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

Five injured after railway station escalator suddenly changed direction

Five people were injured on Monday morning in New Jersey when an ascending escalator at the Exchange Place PATH station suddenly changed direction and began moving backwards.

Three of the injured commuters were taken to the hospital. "Fortunately none of the injuries are life threatening," said spokesman Ron Marsico, describing injuries as "bumps, bruises and scrapes."

YouTube link.

Screams of “stop, stop, stop” were heard during the 9 am mishap. Commuters at the top of the escalator furiously kept their legs moving forward to keep up with the descending stairs.

People at the bottom of the escalator scrambled to get off the malfunctioning steps. Two of the station's three escalators were later shut down.

Why does Facebook data "tend to condemn" in court?

Wired News' Ryan Tate writes about why social media activity "is more readily used to convict you in a court of law than to defend you" because prosecutors generally have an easier time than defense attorneys "getting private information out of Facebook and other social networks, as highlighted in an ongoing Portland murder case." 

Buyer Beware! Homicide Homes OK to Sell

A court rules that sellers don't have to divulge murders that occurred in the home years earlier. 
  Beware! Homicide Homes OK to Sell

Man pelted girlfriend with oranges during argument over karaoke

Police in Collier County, Florida arrested a man who allegedly beat and threw oranges at his girlfriend after they had an argument over her singing karaoke. Deputies were dispatched to a neighbourhood on Turtle Creek Drive around 2:00 am after neighbors reported a woman was frantically knocking on doors with her infant saying she had been beaten by her boyfriend. Deputies spoke to the woman's boyfriend, Hai Tan Nguyen, 46, of Naples.
Nguyen told deputies that he, his girlfriend and their 8-month-old son had been at a house party that evening. While at the party, he noticed that the baby had a runny nose and told his girlfriend to hold the baby and keep him warm. Nguyen told deputies his girlfriend was singing karaoke at the time and did not stop to do what he asked which made him angry. Nguyen told deputies they got into an argument and left the party. When asked, Nguyen denied ever hitting his girlfriend.

Nguyen's girlfriend told deputies that he had become upset with her because she was singing karaoke at the party and several men appeared to be taking an interest in her. She told deputies that Nguyen told her that she was singing too loudly and it was hurting their baby's ears. She went on to say that when they got home, Nguyen began yelling and throwing oranges at her while holding the baby in his other arm. She told deputies Nguyen then put the baby down on the couch and began hitting her in the face and head.

She then picked up the baby and went outside to get help. Deputies noticed marks and scratches on the woman's body. After examining the couple's home, deputies noticed several damaged oranges on the floor and splatter marks on the wall. When deputies asked Nguyen about the oranges and the holes in the wall, he stated that his girlfriend had thrown the oranges at him. Nguyen did not answer when asked by deputies why he did not tell them about having the oranges thrown at him when they first spoke. Nguyen was arrested for battery and taken to the Collier County Jail.

Retro Photo

I said, No Pictures!

The 10 Most Courageous Undercover Journalists

Sometimes, getting the scoop on a story means doing more than simple research and interviews. Sometimes it requires a bigger and riskier sacrifice, like going undercover. Although the ethics and credibility of undercover tactics have been called into question, in some cases, the only way to unearth the truth is to go incognito.

Fabricated identities, hidden cameras, and gruesome and terrifying revelations are just a few of the aspects involved in this insider method of getting the story. And it's hard not to admire these gutsy journalists' passion and dedication to their careers, as they infiltrate everything from psychiatric hospitals and federal penitentiaries to jihadist terrorist groups and soccer hooligan gangs.

Chinese newspaper’s dispute with censors sparks petition, street protest

  In this photo taken and provided by activist Wu Wei, a man wearing a mask with words "Silent" holds a banner reading: "Let's chase our dreams together, go Southern Weekly newspaper" during a protest outside the headquarters of the newspaper in Guangzhou on Monday.

A dispute over censorship at a Chinese newspaper known for edgy reporting evolved Monday into a political challenge for China’s new leadership as prominent scholars demanded a censor’s dismissal and hundreds of protesters called for democratic reforms.
The scholars and protesters were acting in support of the Southern Weekly in its confrontation with a top censor after the publication was forced to change a New Year’s editorial calling for political reform into a tribute praising the ruling Communist Party. Rumours circulated that at least one of the newspaper’s news departments was going on strike, but they could not be immediately confirmed.
Protesters, including middle school students and white-collar workers, gathered outside the offices of the newspaper in the southern city of Guangzhou to lay flowers at the gate, hold signs and shout slogans calling for freedom of speech, political reform, constitutional governance and democracy.
“I feel that the ordinary people must awaken,” said one of the protesters, Yuan Fengchu, who was reached by phone. “The people are starting to realize that their rights have been taken away by the Communist Party and they are feeling that they are being constantly oppressed.”
Political expression in the public sphere is often viewed as risky in China, where the authoritarian government frequently harasses and even jails dissidents for pro-democracy calls.
Another protester, Guangzhou writer and activist Wu Wei, who goes by the pen name Ye Du, said the protest marked a rare instance in which people were making overt calls for political freedom since large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations were crushed in a military crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“In other cities, we’ve seen people march, but most of the time they are protesting environmental pollution or people’s livelihood issues,” Wu said. “Here they are asking for political rights, the right to protest. The Southern Weekly incident has provided an opportunity for citizens to voice their desires.”
The protest came as 18 Chinese academics signed an open letter calling for the dismissal of Tuo Zhen, a provincial propaganda minister blamed for the censorship. The scholars included legal professors, liberal economists, historians and writers.
Peking University law professor He Weifang, who was among the signers, said the newspaper’s good work needed to be defended from censorship.
“Southern Weekly is known as a newspaper that exposes the truth, but after Tuo Zhen arrived in Guangdong, he constantly pressured the paper. We need to let him know that he can’t do this,” He said. “This incident is a test to see if the new leadership is determined to push political reform.”
Six weeks ago, China installed a new generation of Communist Party leaders for the next five years, with current Vice-President Xi Jinping at the helm. Some of Xi’s announcements for a trimmed-down style of leadership, with reduced waste and fewer unnecessary meetings, have raised hopes in some quarters that he might favour deeper reforms in the political system to mollify a public long frustrated by local corruption.
The Guangdong provincial propaganda department did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions. But the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial that no Chinese media outlet should fool itself into thinking that it could occupy a “political special zone” in which it is free from government control.
“Regardless of whether these people are willing or unwilling, common sense says: In China’s current social political reality, there cannot be the kind of ‘free media’ that these people hope in their hearts for,” the editorial said.
China’s media in recent years have become increasingly freewheeling in some kinds of coverage, including lurid reports on celebrities and sports figures. Still, censorship of political issues remains tight — although government officials typically claim there is no censorship at all — and the restrictions have drawn increasingly vocal criticism from journalists and members of the public.

Vietnam puts 14 activists on trial on charges of attempting to overthrow government

Vietnam has put on trial 14 activists it accuses of carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the communist government amid an intensifying crackdown on dissent.
Defense lawyer Tran Thu Nam said the trial opened Tuesday in the central province of Nghe An amid tight security.
Nam said the defendants, 12 of them Catholics, are accused of working with the Viet Tan, or Vietnam Reform Party, in exile in the United States to carry out "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration." Four of them could face the death penalty if convicted.
The Vietnamese government has labeled Viet Tan as a terrorist group, but the U.S. government has said it has seen no evidence that the California-based group is a terrorist group.
Nam said the defendants, who were arrested in late 2011, are accused of attending Viet Tan's overseas training courses on nonviolent struggle and computer and Internet security. Some of them are also accused of participating anti-China protests and instigating others to join the protests.
People took to the streets in Hanoi for unprecedented weekly anti-China demonstrations in the summer of 2011 after Hanoi accused Beijing of interfering with its oil exploration activities in the South China Sea.
The verdicts are expected Wednesday.
International human rights groups have said Vietnam jails people for peacefully expressing their views, but Hanoi maintains that only lawbreakers are punished.

Taiwanese gamblers bet on when terminally ill cancer patients will die

Families of terminally ill patients are making bets to predict the date their relatives will die. The punters are wagering on a macabre game which has sprung up in Taiwan. Senior citizens' clubs have set up more than 10 gaming houses in Taizhong City as the bizarre trend has taken off.
Gamblers - including cancer patients' family members and even the doctors - have lodged NT$100m (£2.1m, $3.4m) with bookies. It is reported that those who want to take part in the game have to pay a membership fee of NT$2,000 (£43, $69) to the bookies.

The bookies then visit hospitals to seek permission from the patients' family. Then they take the punters to the hospital on their next visit to observe the patients.

According to the rules, the bookies win if the cancer patients die within a month. However, if they die between one and six months after the bets were placed, the gamblers would be paid three times their wager. Reports said police were investigating the gaming houses.

Random Photo

NuSTAR Spies Ravenous Black Holes

The new X-ray space telescope has carried out an unprecedented survey of a spiral galaxy, revealing two feeding black holes. Read more
  NuSTAR Spies Ravenous Black Holes

The Greek Island Of Old Age

The inhabitants of a small Greek island live on average 10 years longer than the rest of western Europe. So what's the secret to long life in Ikaria? It could be the fresh air and the friendly, easy-going, open-door lifestyle. It could be fresh vegetables and goat's milk. It could be the mountainous terrain. Everywhere on Ikaria is up, or down, so getting around keeps you fit.

It could even be the natural radiation in the granite rocks. But Stamatis Moraitis thinks he knows what it is. 'It's the wine', he says.


The Greek Island of Ikaria got its name from Icarus, who flew too close to the sun. But what sets this island apart is the fact that its inhabitants live an average of ten years longer than the rest of Europe. Scientists are trying to find out why.
It could be the fresh air and the friendly, easy-going, open-door lifestyle. It could be fresh vegetables and goat's milk.

It could be the mountainous terrain. Everywhere on Ikaria is up, or down, so getting around keeps you fit.

It could even be the natural radiation in the granite rocks. But Stamatis Moraitis thinks he knows what it is.

"It's the wine," he says, over a mid-morning glass at his kitchen table. "It's pure, nothing added. The wine they make commercially has preservatives. That's no good. But this wine we make ourselves is pure."
Or it could be that Moraitis is 98 years old and still tends his olive trees and his vineyard, and makes 700 gallons of wine every year. Sixty percent of the island's people over age 90 are still active, compared to 20% elsewhere. It's just a way of life for the people of Ikaria. Read more about them at BBC News. BBC News.

Hollow Mountain, China

Qingdao, China, may be more familiar to you as Tsingtao, as in Tsingtao beer. The city was a German colony for a couple of decades around the turn of the 20th century, and one of the first things they did was brew beer. The Germans used nearby Mount Fushan as a defense against the British colonial forces who wanted their piece of China. Darmon Richter got a chance to explore Mount Fushan and found plenty of tunnels, chambers, and bunkers from that era.
Torches switched to full-beam we stepped out of the storm, and into a still darkness.

The tunnel beyond was mostly formed from natural rock - the bulging contours of the passage illustrating where one crater at a time had been blasted into the solid rock, joining to form a corridor. Inside, nothing stirred... other than the slow, methodical dripping of condensation from the walls. Even the raging storm outside became inaudible, as we carefully made our way deeper inside the mountain.

Branching out from this main tunnel were a number of smaller caverns and chambers; some appeared to be no more than an accidental blast in the wrong direction, while others were reinforced with solid metal walls and bulkheads.

These chambers were often marked with Chinese characters scrawled clumsily across doorframes, and would have served as storerooms, ammo dumps, dormitories. At a humidity level not far off 100%, every surface was damp to touch - and the insides of these vaulted metal chambers sparkled like electric silver where the moisture ran down over mineral deposits.
Read more about the hollow mountain and the expedition at The Bohemian Blog.

Natural Arch Collapse Captured on Camera

Tons of rock fall onto beach before the startled eyes -- and ready cameras -- of holiday goers north of San Francisco. Read more Natural Arch Collapse Captured on Camera

Awesome Pictures


Top 10 Animal Discoveries Of 2012

Shocking, Bizarre And Amazing
They say there's nothing new under the sun, but just because something's been around forever doesn't mean we know about it. 2012 was a banner year for animals being newly discovered, newly re-discovered, and newly described.

Let's count down the 10 most interesting wildlife finds of 2012.

Mother woken by family cat found her baby in grip of two meter python

A mother from from Lismore in northeastern New South Wales, Australia, had the fright of her life when she woke up in the early hours of Saturday to find a python wrapped around her young daughter's arm. Richmond Hill's Tess Guthrie was woken by the hissing of her cat Duchess to discovered the two metre python wrapped around the right arm of her two and a half year-old daughter, Zara. "I used my phone as a torch and saw the snake. At that moment the snake started constricting, and bit her twice," Ms Guthrie said.

"The third time it really bit her deep, so I grabbed the snake's head and grabbed Zara and tried to pull them apart. "It was really hard, the snake was very strong. I could not believe a snake was biting my daughter. "This is something you hear about happening overseas, but not here," Tess said. "I threw the snake away and run with Zara to my dad's house next door." The mother bandaged her daughter's arm and cleaned her wounds, following instructions from paramedics over the phone.

The paramedics were very surprised to receive a call for a snake bite at 3.40am in the morning. The paramedics later treated the young victim and took her to Lismore Base Hospital. Tess later contacted snake safety advisor Tex Tillis who found the two meter reptile in a corner of the bedroom. Mr Tillis said he had attended about 170 jobs removing snakes from homes - 90 of them pythons. This is the first time, he said, he had heard of a python attacking a child. "Saturday was a cold night, so the snake may have been looking for warmth.

YouTube link.

"When Tess grabbed the snake, maybe the reptile's brain activated defense mode and it started to constrict and bite the little girl," he said. The snake was released into the wild by Mr Tillis. Tess and daughter Zara are happy to be back home. "We just need to ensure that her bites do not get infected. But she seems very much her normal happy self," Tess said. The family is still waiting for Duchess, the cat, to come back to the house. "We haven't seen her since that night. If she had not woken me up I would not have noticed the python until the next morning," Mrs Guthrie said.

Frogs Can Help Make Milk Stay Fresh Longer

There used to be an old Russian wive's tale that if a frog jumped in your bucket of milk, it wouldn't go sour. As it turns out, that might be true because the peptides in frog's skin secretions are antibiotic. It also means that as more diseases become antibiotic resistant, we might start turning to frog ooze to prevent infections.

Foster Pet Deductions Allowed

The IRS will allow deductions for those who foster dogs and cats for approved charities.  
  Court: Foster Pet Deductions Allowed

Baby Koala and Mom

Planckendael Animal Park in Belgium is home to this adorable new baby Koala. Dad and Mom are Goonawarra and Guwara, respectively. The gender of the baby is still unknown. Once the gender is determined, the baby will be given an Aboriginal name that begins with "N," as all newborns at the animal park this year will have a name beginning with that letter.

Animal Pictures