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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today is Humanitarian Day 

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Today in History

1624 Riots flare in Mexico when it is announced that all churches are to be closed.
1811 In a secret session, Congress plans to annex Spanish East Florida.
1865 Union troops capture Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
1913 The first telephone line between Berlin and New York is inaugurated.
1919 Peasants in Central Russia rise against the Bolsheviks.
1920 The Dry Law goes into effect in the United States. Selling liquor and beer becomes illegal.
1920 The United States approves a $150 million loan to Poland, Austria and Armenia to aid in their war with the Russian communists.
1927 The Dumbarton Bridge opens in San Francisco carrying the first auto traffic across the bay.
1929 The U.S. Senate ratifies the Kellogg-Briand anti-war pact.
1930 Amelia Earhart sets an aviation record for women at 171 mph in a Lockheed Vega.
1936 In London, Japan quits all naval disarmament talks after being denied equality.
1944 The U.S. Fifth Army successfully breaks the German Winter Line in Italy with the capture of Mount Trocchio.
1949 Chinese Communists occupy Tientsin after a 27-hour battle with Nationalist forces.
1965 Sir Winston Churchill suffers a severe stroke.
1967 Some 462 Yale faculty members call for an end to the bombing in North Vietnam.
1973 Four of six remaining Watergate defendants plead guilty.

Non Sequitur


Mali Islamists counter attack, promise France long war

Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counteroffensive in Mali on Monday after four days of French air strikes on their northern strongholds, seizing the central town of Diabaly and promising to drag France into a brutal Afghanistan-style war.France, which has poured hundreds of troops into the capital Bamako in recent days, carried out more air strikes on Monday in the vast desert area seized last year by an Islamist alliance grouping al Qaeda's north African wing AQIM alongside Mali's home-grown MUJWA and Ansar Dine militant groups.
"France has opened the gates of hell for all the French," said Oumar Ould Hamaha, a spokesman for MUJWA, which has imposed strict sharia, Islamic law, in its northern fiefdom of Gao. "She has fallen into a trap which is much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia," he told Europe 1 radio.
Paris is determined to shatter Islamist domination of the north of its former colony, an area many fear could become a launchpad for terrorism attacks on the West and a base for coordination with al Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.
The French defense ministry said it aimed to deploy 2,500 soldiers in the West African state to bolster the Malian army and work with a force of 3,300 West African troops from the immediate region foreseen in a U.N.-backed intervention plan.
The United States, which has operated a counter-terrorism training program in the region, said it was sharing information with French forces and considering providing logistics, surveillance and airlift capability.
"We have a responsibility to go after al Qaeda wherever they are," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters heading with him on a week-long tour of European capitals.
As French aircraft bombarded mobile columns of Islamist fighters, other fighters launched a counter-attack to the southwest of recent clashes, dislodging government forces from the town of Diabaly, just 350 km (220 miles) northeast of Bamako. French and Malian troops attempting to retake the town were battling Islamists shouting 'Allahu akbar', residents said.
The rebels infiltrated the town overnight from the porous border region with Mauritania, home to AQIM camps housing well-equipped and trained foreign fighters. A spokesman for Ansar Dine said its fighters took Diabaly, working with AQIM members.
Dozens of Islamist fighters died on Sunday when French rockets hit a fuel depot and a customs house being used as a headquarters. The U.N. said an estimated 30,000 people had fled the fighting, joining more than 200,000 already displaced.
France, which has repeatedly said it has abandoned its role as the policeman of its former African colonies, convened a U.N. Security Council meeting for Monday to discuss the Mali crisis.
The European Union announced it would hold an extraordinary meeting of its foreign ministers in Brussels this week to discuss speeding up a EU training mission to help the Malian army and other direct support for the Bamako government.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France would do everything to ensure that regional African troops were deployed quickly to follow up on the French military action, which was launched to block a push southwards by the Islamist rebels.
"We knew that there would be a counter-attack in the west because that is where the most determined, the most organized and fanatical elements are," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France's BFM TV.
France has said its sudden intervention on Friday, responding to an urgent appeal from Mali's president, stopped the Islamists from seizing the dusty capital of Bamako.
President Francois Hollande says Operation Serval - named after an African wildcat - is solely aimed at supporting the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS which received U.N. backing in December for a military intervention to dislodge the rebels.
Hollande's robust intervention has won plaudits from Western leaders and has also shot down domestic criticism which portrayed him as spineless and indecisive.
Under pressure from Paris, regional states have said they hope to send in their forces this week. Military chiefs from ECOWAS nations will meet in Bamako on Tuesday but regional powerhouse Nigeria, which is due to lead the mission, has cautioned that training and deploying troops will take time.
Two decades of peaceful elections had earned Mali a reputation as a bastion of democracy in turbulent West Africa but that image unraveled after a military coup in March left a power vacuum for MNLA Tuareg rebels to seize the desert north.
MUJWA, an AQIM splinter group drawing support from Arabs and other ethnic groups, took control of Gao, the main city of the north, from the Tuaregs in June, shocking Mali's liberal Muslim majority with amputation of hands for theft under sharia.
Malian Foreign Minister Tyeman Coulibaly said the situation had become "untenable" in the north. "Every day, we were hearing about feet and hands being cut off, girls being raped, cultural patrimony being looted," he told the French weekly Paris Match.
Last week's drive toward Bamako appeared to have been led by Ansar Dine, founded by renegade Tuareg separatist commander Iyad ag Ghali in his northern fiefdom of Kidal.
The group has said that the famed shrines of ancient desert trading town Timbuktu - a UNESCO world heritage site - were un-Islamic and idolatrous. Much of the area's religious heritage has now been destroyed, sparking international outrage.
France's intervention raises the threat for eight French hostages held by al Qaeda allies in the Sahara and for 30,000 French expatriates living in neighboring, mostly Muslim states.
Concerned about reprisals at home, France has tightened security at public buildings and on public transport.
However, top anti-terrorist judge, Marc Trevidic, played down the imminence of the risk, telling French media: "They're not very organized right now ... It could be a counter attack later on after the defeat on the ground. It's often like that."
Military analysts warn that if French action was not followed up by a robust deployment of ECOWAS forces, with logistical and financial support from NATO, then the whole U.N.-mandated Mali mission was unlikely to succeed.
"The French action was an ad-hoc measure. It's going to be a mess for a while, it depends on how quickly everyone can come on board," said Hussein Solomon, a professor at the University of the Free State, South Africa.

The truth be told

Impeach Obama for Pagan Gun Safety Laws?

Larry Pratt
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America
That’s what Larry Pratt,the executive director of Gun Owners of America, wants. Pratt, you might remember, was the target of Piers Morgan’s ire the day he got himself put on a petition for his deportation by saying Pratt was “an unbelievably stupid man.”
Piers Morgan nailed that one, as events proved, not that it’s any great surprise given Pratt’s past history, including a stint as director of Pat Buchanan’s campaign co-chairman in 1996, when he tried to organize white supremacists and militia leaders on behalf of the racist Buchanan.
Now Pratt, who denies being a racist (I’m sure it’s just a joke we liberals just don’t get), sees the twice-elected President Barack Obama as a dictator whose “administration seems to view the American people as the enemy.”  He compares Obama to King George III, an accusation sure to resonate with gun-toting Tea Partiers.
But it is Larry Pratt, who in December suggested eliminating gun-free zones as a means of protecting the American people from people with guns. It is Larry Pratt who, appearing on Fox News the other day, argued against expanded background checks on gun purchases.
It sounds to me as though it is Larry Pratt who sees us as the enemy; a herd to be culled at best.
According to Pratt, who appeared on Crosstalk with televangelist Vic Eliason of the VCY America Radio Network, Obama should be impeached if he signs ”an executive order to take away our guns.”
Never mind that neither Obama nor Biden are proposing taking away people’s guns.
Never mind that there are plenty of things Obama can do to with executive orders that are perfectly constitutional, by the way, without involving Congress.
Never mind that the Second Amendment is speaking to a militia that no longer exists, as these days America has a standing army and the National Guard.
Right Wing Watch relates how the topic came up:
Caller: If Obama’s going to be signing an executive order to take away our guns isn’t there something we can do to arrest this man? It’s a treasonous act. He’s swore an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States.
Pratt: Yeah, it’s called impeachment and that would be, along with defunding, the kinds of messages that need to go to Capitol Hill: When are you going to impeach this guy? When are you going to defund his illegal activities? repugicans can’t continue, at least I hope they cannot, continue to be spectators while the country is being torn apart.
Shrill and nonsensical would be the words best used to describe Pratt’s day of absurdities. But wanting Obama impeached for a crime he has not committed is just the tip of the iceberg for Pratt, who had yet to achieve full lunacy. That came when he said that gun-control laws are “pagan” and  ”the most pagan of paganism.”
How are gun-control laws Pagan, you might be asking yourself. It’s simple, according to Pratt, who clearly doesn’t know the first thing about Paganism, either historical or modern:
Pratt: Frankly, it almost would seem that animism won’t go away. The left, which is largely made up of people who don’t believe in jesus christ’s blood as being necessary for our salvation, view inanimate objects as possessing their own will. That’s animism, that’s a return to the most pagan of paganism and look at what nutty political views it ends up supporting.
Okay, so let’s get this straight: a man who says we need a dead guy’s blood, and not just a dead guy’s blood but the blood of a guy who died and spent three days in a tomb before coming back to life, a guy who was not just a mortal man but also a god and more than that, a holy spirit, to save our souls thinks gun-control laws are nutty?
I am a Heathen. I know something about animism. Look, first of all, animism is a modern term dating from about 1720. Ancient Pagans had no term for the idea that inanimate objects have a spiritual essence. They did not think that these objects had wills of their own, that a gun, for example, would be able to shoot somebody without a human pulling the trigger, or that a rock would be able to hit a person without being thrown, or that water does leap up out of a pool and drown a person.
An animist respects those objects he feels possess a spirit, meaning that if Obama was truly an animist, he would respect guns, perhaps putting them on a par with humans. He might even leave a gun offerings.
This is clearly and demonstrably not the case. But Pratt thinks he is not the one being nutty.
Do these people ever think about what they’re saying? Sadly, no. They do not think about what they’re hearing either, or people like Pratt and Eliason would not have an audience.
Liberals and gun-control advocates do not view guns as having their own will. This is more of the NRA nonsense that guns don’t kill people, which is, I suppose, something you can believe until a slug turns your head into a canoe.
The simple fact of the matter is that a man with an 18th century pistol or musket is going to kill one person (at best, assuming the weapon does not misfire, a common problem) before he is mobbed and disarmed. A man carrying an AR-15 with an expanded drum can kill dozens, and there may not be anybody left to mob and disarm him before he reloads and does it again.
The Founding Fathers did not foresee the AR-15 or expanded drums (the Aurora shooter had a 100-round drum magazine). The guns the Founding Fathers envisioned were single-shot muzzle loaders that did not work well in the rain. The British “Brown Bess,” or “Land Pattern Musket” might fire three to four times in a minute if the gunman knew what he was doing, and the 18 mm ball might travel 50 to a hundred yards.
Here was how you loaded a Brown Bess:
  1. Tear cartridge with teeth and prime the pan directly from the cartridge;
  2. Stand the musket and pour the bulk of the powder down the barrel;
  3. Reverse the cartridge and use the ramrod to seat the ball and paper envelope onto the powder charge.
The procedure for the AR-15 is somewhat different: you slap a clip into it and pull the trigger. You can empty a 30-round clip in a couple of seconds and you can do so in the rain. A fully automatic AR-15 can fire 800 rounds per minute and they don’t go 50 to 150 yards; effective range for an AR-15 is from 400 to 600 yards. It’s true that these civilian models are not meant to be fired automatically, but even so, with an AR-15 you can fire as often as you can pull the trigger, which is many more times than three-to-four times a minute.
Even firing once per trigger pull, you can empty a half-dozen 30-round magazines in a few minutes’ time, a incredibly destructive rate of fire compared to that envisioned by the Founding Fathers when they voted on the Second Amendment.
One can readily see the difference between slaughtering a room full of theater-goers with an AR15 and trying to do the same thing with a musket.
But Pratt thinks gun-control laws are nutty.
Tell me you are going to see many mass murders by single shooters armed with muskets. And then convince me you are not nutty, Mr. Pratt.
But it is too late for that, as the rest of Pratt’s conversation demonstrates, with he and Eliason indulging in an all-too-familiar intellection circle-jerk:
Pratt: It’s the talk of a dictator, ‘I will do what I want, whatever seems right in my own eyes I’m going to do,’ and the idea that there’s any restraints imposed by the Constitution is simply not acceptable to the ruling crowd in Washington and they’re getting bolder because now they don’t have to stand for re-election. I believe, first of all, they understand they probably don’t have the votes in the Congress so why make their Democrat buddies go walk the plank and vote against the Second Amendment, they remember what happened in ’94 when that happened and I don’t think they want a repeat of that.
But what they may not understand is that people are watching. If there is an executive order issued in lieu of congressional action, which would be unconstitutional either way, then I’m hearing such resentment and anger and opposition that their simply going to lose any credibility the federal government might have had. It’s going to be a byword, it’s going to be a joke and people are not going to obey such an outrageous executive order.
Eliason: People would be marching in the streets.
Pratt: That would be the nicest thing that would happen.
Eliason: The frightening thing is this: if the President makes such an executive order and seeks to enforce it, is the military or who is there to enforce it if the order goes through?
Pratt: Then he has to ask how many of those police officers and soldiers would actually carry out such an obviously outrageous order. We had consequences rightly come to Lt. Calley for the slaughter of the people of the little village of My Lai and we hung Germans for following orders after World War II.
Perhaps Pratt and Eliason should buy homesteads in the Citadel (and take Pat Buchanan with them). They would no doubt be happier in the natural habitat of white supremacist, gun-fanatic survivalists who think they’re the last best hope for the Anglo-Saxon race.
What I want to know is, why the guys who claim they are exemplars of the Anglo-Saxon race, not only not look like Brad Pitt or Chris Hemsworth, but are inevitably mental rejects?

Gun Nuts to Build 2,000 Acre Citadel in Idaho’s American Redoubt

American Redoubt 
We’ve all heard of gated communities. We’ve all heard about the Second Amendment. Have you ever wondered what happens when you put the two together? How about a fortified community? That’s the latest wingnut tactic.
CNS News reports that, ” A group of like-minded patriots, bound together by pride in American exceptionalism, plan on building an armed community to protect their liberty.”
Notice the keywords used:
American exceptionalism
armed community
Yes, the worst elements of the Second and Tenth Amendments have come together in the creation of a monstrous American afterbirth.
According to CNS,
The group, named Citadel, intends to purchase 2,000 to 3,000 acres for the project in western Idaho.  The community will comprise of 3,500 to 7,000 families of patriotic Americans who “voluntarily choose to live together in accordance with Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of Rightful Liberty.”
By contrast,, the mound of the biblical city of Megiddo, in Israel, covers some 15 acres, and early Roman London was about 350 acres. Central part is 843 acres.
We are not talking about a small community. If each family is 3 people, a minimum estimate, we are talking about a town of from 10-20,000 people. You know these people intend to breed, because they see themselves as the last best hope of White America.
The Citadel site explains their concept in the following terms:
“The Citadel is evolving as a planned community where residents are bound together by:”
  • Patriotism
  • Pride in American Exceptionalism
  • Our proud history of Liberty as defined by our Founding      Fathers, and
  • Physical preparedness to survive and prevail in the      face of natural catastrophes — such as Hurricanes Sandy or Katrina — or      man-made catastrophes such as a power grid failure or economic collapse.
Citadel Concept 
Where will this paradise on earth be located? In the mountains of Idaho, of course, the bastion of America’s survivalist subculture – “the American redoubt.”
PROJECT LAUNCH: We plan to purchase land for the Citadel in 2013 and break ground soon after. Even before unveiling our national advertising campaign, more than 200 families reserved space within our community!
WHY APPLY FOR RESIDENCE: If living in an affordable, safe, well-prepared, patriotic community where your children will be educated in school rather than indoctrinated, consider the Citadel. Approved applicants receive a Lifetime Lease (paid off in only 30 years). No credit check. No background check. Zero down payment. Zero interest. Zero property taxes.
What is amusing is the group’s description of what they embrace and consequently, what they abhor.
“The Citadel is not profit-driven. The Citadel is Liberty-driven: specifically Thomas Jefferson’s Rightful Liberty.”
Jefferson’s rightful liberty apparently demands that,Residents should also agree that being ‘prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures.’”
And of course, we all know how Jefferson felt about liberals:
Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.
I’m just throwing this out there, but I am thinking the group missed a few American history classes. Or maybe the only book on Jefferson they have read is David Barton’s counter-history, The Jefferson Lies. Just sayin’.
Liberalism, of course, is all about liberty. Liberty for all, not just a few who embrace a particular ideology, but those of all ideologies and religions. Citadel misses that important point entirely, as a group of gun-loving, government-hating, right-wing extremists who want to hide from an increasingly modern and diverse world.
Instead liberty for all, Citadel says that every patriot selected to live within the community “will voluntarily agree to follow the footsteps of our Founding Fathers by swearing to one another our lives, our fortunes and our Sacred Honor to defend one another and Liberty against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
In other words, gun down all those icky people who are different from you. Not that icky people are likely to be getting in, as “the community will be protected by a perimeter wall that will be inaccessible to ‘tourists.’  Each neighborhood within the community will have lower walls, dividing the town into defensible sections.”
They can’t build a Great Wall around America’s borders, so they’re going to build them around their Citadel, complete with towers: a medieval fortified city, though they call it castle.
I guess we can rest assured they won’t be asking for government assistance. They have created their own firearms company after all, to employ the first wave of pioneers (though gun sales tell us they’ll be well-armed when they arrive). They figure tourism will take care of the rest, as Americans travel to see the freaks in the American redoubt in their natural habitat.

Did you know ...

That Beijing's air quality is so bad the EPA doesn't have a scale that goes up far enough to define it.

That following Current TV deal, Al Gore is now richer than Mitt Romney

Do our brains work better out of doors away from technology?

The first antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea detected in north america

That Christopher Tolkein says Peter Jackson 'eviscerated' his father's work 

How Internet copyright laws let Big Content get away with paying less to artists

In other words, by asking governments to ascribe liability to these “intermediaries” (services that sit between creators and audiences), the entertainment industry is demanding that the Internet be scaled back to something that’ll fit in cable TV’s bathtub. Something where only people with a lot of capital and clout can speak and be heard. Something where big entertainment companies can use their money and power as a wall to stop anyone from challenging their pride of place.
When a big star goes into a record-company negotiations, she isn’t limited to saying, “Sorry, that deal’s not good enough, I’ll see what I can get across the street at your competitor.” Now she can say, “That’s not good enough, I can do better on my own, like Trent Reznor did.” Or, “That’s not good enough, I can hook up with a new kind of music business,” like Madonna did. But only if the intermediary liability is small enough to allow all these different kinds of companies to clamor for artists’ attention and products.
When a successful beginner like Amanda Hocking or EL James comes before a big publisher who wants to take her from indie to pro, the worst deal they can offer her has to be better than the best deal she could get for herself, or from one of the new startups.
Put it another way: There’s never been a time when tight controls over distribution were good for artists: fewer labels always means worse deals for musicians; fewer studios always means worse deals for filmmakers, actors, and other film professionals; fewer publishers always means worse deals for authors.

Yep, that's about it

Adding Nonsensical Math to a Paper Improves Its Perceived Quality

clockIs math not your strongest subject? Don't let that hold you back when it comes to scholarly publishing. Just shove some complex-looking mathematical expressions into your manuscript. This will improve your chances of getting into print. Kimmo Ericksson reached this conclusion after asking reviewers to examine manuscripts with and without nonsensical math. From her abstract:
In those disciplines where most researchers do not master mathematics, the use of mathematics may be held in too much awe. To demonstrate this I conducted an online experiment with 200 participants, all of which had experience of reading research reports and a postgraduate degree (in any subject). Participants were presented with the abstracts from two published papers (one in evolutionary anthropology and one in sociology). Based on these abstracts, participants were asked to judge the quality of the research. Either one or the other of the two abstracts was manipulated through the inclusion of an extra sentence taken from a completely unrelated paper and presenting an equation that made no sense in the context. The abstract that included the meaningless mathematics tended to be judged of higher quality. However, this "nonsense math effect" was not found among participants with degrees in mathematics, science, technology or medicine.
You can read Ericksson's journal article at the link. It has a lot of math that I don't understand, so it must be excellent.

Teacher with fear of children sues school district for discrimination

High school teacher Maria C. Waltherr-Willard, 61, is suing a school district for discrimination, claiming it pushed her to resign because of her age but also her disability. Waltherr-Willard has pedophobia, a fear of children. For 35 years, Waltherr-Willard has been a teacher in Mariemont, a community just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. From Cincinnati.com:
Documents filed in the case by her medical doctor, psychiatrists and psychologists note that she experiences stress, anxiety, chest pains, vomiting, nightmares and higher than healthy blood pressure when she’s around young children. A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed three of the six claims in her lawsuit, claims which alleged Mariemont violated an implied contract to keep her from young students.
District Judge Herman J. Weber said the district lived up to its written contract – with the teachers union – and that Waltherr-Willard would still be employed had she not resigned.
He did not rule on the other main allegations of the suit, giving the district’s attorneys more time to respond to them.

Social networks may inflate self-esteem, reduce self-control

Users of Facebook and other social networks should beware of allowing their self-esteem—boosted by “likes” or positive comments from close ...
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A whopping 30 percent of teen girls report meeting offline with someone they met online

A new study highlights the risk that female teenagers face when they go online – a risk heightened for teen ..
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Seijin No Hi

Japan's Coming of Age Day v
The second Monday in January is set aside to welcome Japan's new adults, meaning those who turned 20 years old between last April and this coming April. On the holiday Seijin No Hi, the honorees dress in traditional kimono (although a business suit is also also okay for men) and girls get their hair done in elaborate styles. Municipal and/or family ceremonies are held, and afterward the young adults have parties. Attendance may be down this year, as heavy snowfall has slammed eastern Japan, including Tokyo. More

Random Photo


… Aprile che dopo viene maggio

How belly fat differs from thigh fat—and why it matters

Researchers discover that the genes active in a person’s belly fat are significantly different from those in his or her ...
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Genes link Australians with India

Genes link Australians with IndiaAboriginal man

Far from being cut off from the rest of the world, Australia experienced a migration from India about 4,000 years ago, a study suggests.

Random Celebrity Photo


Heidi Klum
Heidi Klum

There is no crying in space

Or, rather, there can be. 

Galactic Monster Dwarfs the Milky Way

As far as spiral galaxies go, the Milky Way is a relative pipsqueak, especially when compared to one known as NGC 6872.

Hubble's Dwarf Galaxy Stellar Treasure Trove

Anyone who's read or seen The Hobbit knows that dwarves love sparkling treasures -- and this image from Hubble shows that dwarf galaxies are no different.

Mystery cloud near galaxy core hints at how how stars are born

It’s the mystery of the curiously dense cloud. And astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are on the ...
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Life Surviving in Salty Spanish River Mimics Martians

Within the harsh environment of the Tinto River, biologists identified pockets of salt that created an oasis for bacteria. Similar salt deposits on Mars could also provide refuge for life.

Hog-nosed skunk causes stir at Grand Canyon

A hog-nosed skunk is seen near a campsite in the Grand Canyon in Arizona in this photo made on Aug. 4, 2012. A river guide familiar with animals in the Canyon spotted the skunk - not known to the area - and now park officials are deciding whether to add it to the list of species found in the park or ignore it as just another animal passing through. (AP Photo/Jen Hiebert) 
Desert bighorn sheep, river otters and mountain lions, yes. But a hog-nosed skunk at the Grand Canyon? Hardly.
The striped creatures are usually found in southeastern Arizona, Texas and Mexico. But one of them somehow made its way north of the Colorado River last year.
A group of rafters camping along the river in August was headed for bed when they noticed a black-and-white animal in the bushes near one of their tents. Jen Hiebert grabbed her camera, zoomed in and took some pictures.
When the rafters didn't see the skunk listed as one of the animals found at the Grand Canyon, Hiebert sent photos and a note to the National Park Service.
"It was just walking through the canyon, totally ignored us and was just digging away in the sand," said Hiebert, of Moscow, Idaho. "I'm not sure what it was after."
Grand Canyon biologists later confirmed the group's suspicion that it was a hog-nosed skunk.
At first, officials weren't sure whether the skunk was merely visiting the area, or if they should to add it to the list of about 90 mammals that live in the national park. They decided that by listing it — even as extremely rare — people might be on the lookout for more of the skunks, and that could help biologists determine how prevalent they are in the park.
"Obviously it's in the park and there's a photograph of it," Grand Canyon wildlife program manager Greg Holm said. "I guess the question would be, is it going to live out its life here or was it traveling from point A to point B?"
The hog-nosed skunk is just as smelly as the western spotted skunk and the striped skunk, which are also found in the park. But it's distinguished in appearance by its entirely white back and tail, largely naked snout and long claws.
Holm said skunks tend to be solitary animals so it wasn't strange that Hiebert and the others saw just one. The puzzling thing for biologists was how it crossed the Colorado River, which Holm said tends to be a significant barrier to animal movement because of water temperature, the river's flow and its size.
"Whether or not it crossed, swam across, it certainly could," he said. "How else would it get there?"
The other idea is that the skunk came from southern Nevada, traveling east from the north end of Lake Mead through the Grand Canyon, but "it's all speculation," Holm said.

Awesome Pictures

Did Great White kill monster croc?

A decapitated crocodile head has washed up on a South African beach stunning locals. It could be a case of great white shark one, crocodile nil.
Two people walking along a South African beach were stunned to find the head of a large crocodile washed up on the shore.
Neale and Brigitte Cary-Smith are in now doubt that the crocodile came off second best in a fight with a great white shark.
Mr Smith quickly filmed the find, explaining in great detail that the crocodile came from a nearby river mouth out into the ocean where it met its match.
Others believe the crocodile was killed by poachers.
But Mr Smith, in his video, says wounds left by shark teeth can be clearly seen.
In the vision, Mr Smith says: "You can see where the shark has actually ripped it. On the side here in the flesh you can see the shark teeth.
"It’s quite normal for sharks to swim here in the sea at St Lucia and it’s also very normal for very large sharks to be very close to the shore."

Secret of Dingo's Down-Under Origin Revealed

Indians migrating to Australia more than 4,000 years ago may have introduced dingoes to the island continent.

A Moth Inside Its Cocoon

urodid moth cocoon
This wonder of nature is a urodid moth cocoon. What advantage does this screen offer that a full cocoon doesn't? Phil Torres, a biologist, speculates:
I couldn’t find a lot of literature on these guys, but my best guess is the almost 1 foot long silk string it hangs from and the detailed lattice structure would do well to protect against ants while minimizing investment in an all-encompassing cocoon as many moths have. 

Animal Pictures

Communion by ml_thorsteinson on Flickr.