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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.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Daily Drift


Some of our readers today have been in:
Tirana, Albania
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cheria, Algeria
Cape Town, South Africa
Belgrade, Serbia
Puchong, Malaysia
Edinburgh, Scotland
Szczecin, Poland
Corlu, Turkey
Johannesburg, South Africa
Slough, England
Sejny, Poland
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Lagos, Nigeria
Karachi, Pakistan
Swarzedz, Poland
Bordeaux, France
Vries, Netherlands
Panevezys, Lithuania
Bangkok, Thailand
Jakarta, Indonesia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Manama, Bahrain
Taipei, Taiwan
Davao, Philippines
Odessa, Ukraine
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Saint George's, Grenada
Minsk, Belarus
Makati, Philippines
Sandakan, Malaysia
Tunis, Tunisia

Today is World Play Your Ukulele Day

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Today in History

962   Otto I invades Italy and is crowned Holy Roman Emperor.
1032   Conrad II claims the throne of France.
1494   Columbus begins the practice using Indians as slaves.
1571   All eight members of a Jesuit mission in Virginia are murdered by Indians who pretended to be their friends.
1626   Charles I is crowned King of England. Fierce internal struggles between the monarchy and Parliament characterized 17th century English politics.
1848   The Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War.
1865   Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers rob citizens, burn a railroad depot and steal horses from Midway, Kentucky.
1870   The press agencies Havas, Reuter and Wolff sign an agreement whereby between them they can cover the whole world.
1876   The National Baseball League is founded with eight teams.
1900   Six cities, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago and St. Louis agree to form baseball's American League.
1901   Mexican government troops are badly beaten by Yaqui Indians.
1916   U.S. Senate votes independence for Philippines, effective in 1921.
1921   Airmail service opens between New York and San Francisco. Airmail's First Day.
1934   Alfred Rosenberg is made philosophical chief of the Nazi Party.
1939   Hungary breaks relations with the Soviet Union.
1943   Last of the German strongholds at Stalingrad surrender to the Red army.
1944   The Germans stop an Allied attack at Anzio, Italy.
1945   Some 1,200 Royal Air Force planes blast Wiesbaden and Karlsruhe.
1948   The United States and Italy sign a pact of friendship, commerce and navigation.
1959   Arlington and Norfolk, Va., peacefully desegregate public schools.
1960   The U.S. Senate approves 23rd Amendment calling for a ban on the poll tax.
1972   The Winter Olympics begin in Sapporo, Japan.
1978   U.S. Jewish leaders bar a meeting with Egypt's Anwar Sadat.
1987   Largest steel strike in American history, in progress since August, ends.

Non Sequitur



BRIGIT kindles and stokes her fire to ward off the chills and hungry wolves of the mid-point of the coldest quarter of the year. Though the year is at its coldest, the light is increasing and the darkest quarter has been left behind by her festival of Imbolg (aka: Imbolc) but her fires are needed more because of the drop in temperature. Her festival paves the way for the fires of passion in the mating season to begin and so she is fertile and youthful. Her fires warm the land to prepare it for the green Adonis.

Brigit is fundamentally a goddess of rising splendor as seen in the rising of the year, the rising of the sun, the rising of life from its wintry sleep, the soaring splendor of artisans and smiths and the rising of uplands (Brigantia). In this sense, she is the Celtic analogue of Minerva who is Her Eminence and of Athena of the rising acropolis and high-brow erudition.

Waitress who posted no-tip receipt from “pastor” fired from Applebee's

The Consumerist reports that Chelsea, the Applebee's employee who earlier this week posted a receipt with a note from a tightwad "pastor" that read "I Give God 10%. Why Do You Get 18," was fired.
“We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” she explains. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.
In her job, Chelsea says she skipped bathroom breaks when things got busy, went hungry when she had to work several tables at a time, would work until 1:30 a.m. and then come back in at 10:30 a.m.
“I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people,” she tells Consumerist. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”

Jobs report “steady but uninspiring”

The very good news is that the December jobs numbers were revised upwards from 155,000 to 196,000. The fourth quarter was fairly strong, with around 200,000 jobs per month being generated in the US.
The January numbers are okay, but nothing particularly special at 157,000 new jobs (because our population is growing every day, you need about this money jobs created per month just to break even). Though I wonder if that number will also be revised upward as I sense that many companies picked up hiring in the US after the holidays. The downside to the report was that unemployment climbed slightly from 7.8% to 7.9%.
With the Republicans still playing games and pretending as though they won in November, the economy is hardly out of the woods. It’s an unfortunate reality that the repugican cabal is more focused on disrupting the economy and spewing out nonsense than focusing on creating jobs.
NY Times:
Jobs via Shutterstock

Retail, construction, health care and the wholesale trade sector added positions, while the government again shed jobs. Government payrolls have been shrinking almost every month over the last four years.
The monthly jobs numbers were close to what economists had forecast, although many had been hoping for an upside surprise. Recent weeks have brought a slew of gloomy economic data, showing that the nation’s output unexpectedly shrank at the end of 2012 and that consumers were becoming increasingly pessimistic about their finances and job prospects.
Dysfunction in Washington over the fiscal budget and higher tax rates that kicked in last month could further dampen consumer confidence and hiring early this year.

America Moves Forward with Obama as repugicans Double Their Attacks on Gays and Women

GOP Theocracy
It is important for a nation’s leaders to prioritize their agenda for the coming year, and it is expected they would assign importance to issues regarding their country’s economic health, national security, and benefits for its people. In his Inauguration Address, President Obama’s priorities for his second term were immigration reform, global climate change, sane gun controls, growing the economy, and he stressed the importance of the nation coming together to assure the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights is extended to every citizen regardless of gender, sexual preference,  or economic station. It has taken a little over a week, but finally as repugicans floundered to find a specific priority besides obstruction, corporatism, austerity, and gun proliferation, they picked up where they left off from the last session of Congress and officially announced their highest priority is imposing policy shaped by wingnut christianity on Americans.
Speaker of the House John Boehner made the announcement to an anti-choice group he addressed at a National Right to Life rally, and he did not have to make it official after repugicans in Congress began the 113th session with a personhood bill, opposition to the VAWA, and balking at immigration reform that includes same-sex couples. Boehner said repugicans were focusing on “working to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” and that it was the repugican cabal’s “most fundamental goal this year” to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life” and pledged to make legal abortion a “relic of the past.” It is ironic that Boehner is using the christian bible, a true “relic of the past” as the guiding force for making legal abortion a relic of the past, especially since a majority of Americans believe it is a woman’s personal choice and do not want legal abortion restricted via overturning Roe v. Wade. However, the theocrats have a different opinion, and they will waste more of Americans’ time and money to replace the Constitution with the christian bible.
It was little surprise repugicans chose religion and the continuing repugican cabal's war on women’s reproductive rights as their top priority, especially after failed vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan joined a gang of theocrats to re-introduce a ridiculous personhood bill soon after the 113th Congress was in session with a view to banning abortion, contraception, and decriminalizing rape.  In fact, in several Dominionist states, defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting abortion rights began in earnest within a week of the general election and continued shortly after the start of the new session of Congress.
Boehner is not alone in the repugican cabal’s push for theocracy as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told the crowd at the National No Choice rally about his intention of pursuing a “spiritual cleansing” and imposing “a gospel that cannot be resisted. We much preach a gospel so full of compassion, a gospel so full of justice that it cannot be resisted.” Senator Paul’s rousing Inquisition-era rhetoric informs what many Americans have warned about for years, and it is the imposition of Dominionist martial law and little else, and it does not stop at attacking a woman’s right to choose.
The House of Representatives is still balking at re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act because they object to protection for same-sex victims of violence, and immigration reform that includes same-sex couples. Obviously, the repugican objections are founded in the bible’s prohibition on homosexuality and abortion, as well as a twisted adherence to patriarchy that provides the bible view that men are born to dominate women. What is telling about repugicans is that they still have not learned one lesson from the voters’ rejection of their extremist religious views they are intent on passing off as governance.
If one sets aside the repugican cabal’s insistence on pursuing an extremist christian vision of theocracy as a means of dominating women and gays in their war on women and homophobic frenzy, there is the little issue of exactly why they are in government to begin with. Their top priority of imposing a “spiritual cleansing, gospel full of justice, and preaching a gospel full of compassion” to protect the “sanctity of life” of a zygote, or defend the traditional definition of marriage, will not create one job, reduce gun violence, grow the economy, bolster national security, address climate change, or secure energy independence, but it does punish women and gays for their part in re-electing President Obama; all under cover of the Christian bible. Their top priority also wastes valuable time and taxpayer money that is better spent creating jobs or growing the economy because with a non-theocratic (Democratic) Senate and White House, there is little chance their predilection for Dominionism will succeed and, in fact, is doomed to fail.
Shortly after the November election, repugicans renewed their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in the states and Congress, and pass more abortion restrictions in states. Any sane politician would think that after spending the entire 112th Congress assaulting women’s reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, that reiterating those theocratic issues is a horribly bad idea after suffering an electoral defeat for attacking women’s reproductive rights and same-sex marriage. Many theocratic right-to-life groups assailed The repugicans after the election for not engaging Democrats on the abortion/rape issue, despite that in races where abortion and women’s reproductive health were attacked in full view of the voters, Dominionist candidates were rejected by wide margins because voters understand woman’s reproductive health is the not the purview of repugicans’ puritanical sensibilities.
The repugicans have found themselves in an unenviable position of lacking support from mainstream America that is not founded in extremist christianity or guns, and instead of abandoning their two-year war on women’s reproductive rights, they have doubled down and made it their top priority for 2013. Although the wingnut bible crowd is solidly behind any politician promising to impose the bible’s sanctions on women and gays, the rest of America is moving forward and supporting the President’s agenda of addressing gun violence, the economy, jobs, climate change, and most importantly, equality for all Americans; even women and their right to choose their reproductive health.
The religious wingnuts, Dominionists and theocracy advocates, have been attempting to impose their will on Americans for decades, and they have always had willing partners in repugican ranks. It is curious that the party that decries government intervention into Americans’ personal lives insists on spending another session of Congress intervening in a woman’s right to choose and it is down to one decision they determined is the hill they are willing to die on, and it is their choice to support and defend the bible as the law of the land instead of the nation’s founding document. As more Americans understand that repugicans are working toward a theocratic institution dominated by patriarchs wasting taxpayer money and precious time to punish women and make their reproductive decisions for them, they will continue rejecting them at the ballot box because at this point, rejecting repugicans is rejecting Dominionism and its archaic theocratic edicts.

The truth hurts

British taxpayers to fund $400m in bonuses for bank fined in Libor scandal

The British taxpayers will have plenty of reasons to be furious with this abusive behavior though they won’t have much support for reform, just as we don’t have any support for reform in the US. As Elizabeth Warren has said at the DNC last year, the system is rigged.
In this case, the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 82% owned by the state, plans to dish out nearly $400 million in bonuses to the very staff who are implicated in the bank owing a nearly $800 million fine for its role in the Libar-rigging scandal.  But the bank is state-owned, so the taxpayers are paying for both the fine, and the bonuses to the people who may be responsible for the bank being fined.
Talk about an entitled group of people. Wow. Funny how entitlements like this are never cut.
George Osborne is braced for a new political backlash over bank bonuses, as state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland prepares to pay as much as 250 million pounds ($393 million) to staff at an investment banking division heavily implicated in the Libor-rigging scandal.
The chancellor’s discomfort has been amplified by the fact that the bonus round comes just as RBS prepares to settle with US and UK regulators over the Libor scandal with a fine expected to top 500 million pounds. The taxpayer will effectively be paying RBS investment bankers about 250 million pounds in bonuses, while simultaneously footing the bill for the bank’s abuse of Libor over a number of years up to 2010.
The majority of the Libor fine will be paid to US authorities. Although negotiations are not yet complete, those close to the talks say the British taxpayer could end up sending a check for more than 400 million pounds across the Atlantic. The bank, which is 82 per cent state-owned, is expected to pay about 100 million pounds to the Financial Services Authority.

The truth be told

Two women arrested at airport wearing duct tape diapers full of cocaine

Priscilla Pena and Michelle Blassingale, of The Bronx, arrived at JFK Airport on a JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic on Saturday.

Pena was selected for inspection by customs agents because a drug-sniffing dog alerted agents to something around Pena’s midsection. Agents searched Pena’s luggage and said she appeared very nervous during the search.

An agent then requested a pat-down and Pena agreed. That is when the agent found a hard object around Pena’s stomach and buttocks. A partial strip search revealed a duct tape girdle, resembling a diaper and a silver plastic wrapper. It contained cocaine, agents said.

Pena was placed under arrest. Pena then told agents she was traveling with Blassingale, who was also searched and was found to also have cocaine in her duct tape diaper. In total, both women were found with nearly seven kilos of cocaine. Blassingale is in custody in Brooklyn and Pena was released on $150,000 bond.

Ten Incredible Historic Flying Cars

From as early as the 1930s, when cars and planes were both still in their early stages, some enterprising inventors tried their hand at roadable aircraft - or flying cars - with varying levels of success. Here's a look at 10 historic flying cars.

From Bomb Victim to Public Garden

Many historic buildings in London were damaged or destroyed by German bombs in World War II. Some were later demolished, and some were repaired and restored. An exception was the church of St. Dunstan-in-the-East. Originally built around 1100, only the north and south walls and the tower remained after the Blitz. Too historic to tear down and too expensive to rebuild, it was designated a public park in 1967. Since then, lovely trees and foliage have grown up, making the church a peaceful contemplative place to stop and think, but it still serves as a monument to the destruction of war. See more pictures at Urban Ghosts .

Icelandic girl wins right to use her given name

Blaer Bjarkardottir, 15, left, and her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir Blaer Bjarkardottir, 15, left, and her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, outside a court building in Reykjavik. 

The court did not grant her any damages

A 15-year-old Icelandic girl has been granted the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother, despite the opposition of authorities and Iceland's strict law on names.Reykjavik District Court ruled Thursday that the name "Blaer" can be used. It means "light breeze."
The decision overturns an earlier rejection by Icelandic authorities who declared it was not a proper feminine name. Until now, Blaer Bjarkardottir had been identified simply as "Girl" in communications with officials.
"I'm very happy," she said after the ruling. "I'm glad this is over. Now I expect I'll have to get new identity papers. Finally I'll have the name Blaer in my passport."
Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. Names are supposed to fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules — choices like Carolina and Christa are not allowed because the letter "c'' is not part of Iceland's alphabet.
Blaer's mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, had fought for the right for the name to be recognized. The court ruling means that other girls will be also allowed to use the name in Iceland.
In an interview earlier this year, Eidsdottir said she did not know the name "Blaer" was not on the list of accepted female names when she gave it to her daughter. The name was rejected because the panel viewed it as a masculine name that was inappropriate for a girl.
The court found that based on testimony and other evidence, that the name could be used by both males and females and that Blaer had a right to her own name under Iceland's constitution and Europe's human rights conventions. It rejected the government's argument that her request should be denied to protect the Icelandic language.
Blaer had told the court she was very happy with her name and only had problems with it when she was dealing with state authorities who rejected it.
The court did not grant her any damages. The government has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Google adds North Korean death-camps to maps

Google Maps has added notorious, secretive North Korean prison camps to its maps of the country. The data is gleaned from user contributions, including a first-person account of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who escaped from Camp 14, a death camp where he was born and raised.
Called Map Maker, Google’s information for the country’s layout comes primarily from visitors and from former citizens who defected, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The mapping idea stemmed in part from a 28-year-old South Korean who tried to use Google maps on a trip to Laos four years ago, but found it unhelpful, at best. He ultimately helped devise the Google map application for North Korea.
“I thought if I could fill in information on North Korea, it might be useful in an emergency or tragedy if Google can provide a map for aid agencies,” the South Korean told the Wall Street Journal.

Priceless Timbuktu Manuscripts Escape Burning

Most of Timbuktu's priceless manuscripts survive fires set by Islamic militants aka Human Scum, experts confirm.

Aztec Conquest Altered Genetics of Early Mexicans

For centuries, the fate of the original Otomí inhabitants of Xaltocan, the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state, has remained ...

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'Canary in the Trousers' Could Warn Men

Erectile dysfunction does not cause heart disease but can be a marker for it, researchers say.

Silibinin, found in milk thistle, protects against UV-induced skin cancer

A pair of University of Colorado Cancer Center studies published this month show that the milk thistle extract, silibinin, kills ...
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Beer as Medicine?

The bitter-tasting chemical found in hops could be used in treating diabetes, inflammation and some types of cancer.

Beer’s bitter compounds could help brew new medicines

Researchers employing a century-old observational technique have determined the precise configuration of humulones, substances derived from hops that give beer ...
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Ancient strain of rice rediscovered in China

An article in China Daily excitedly touts the re-discovery of an ancient variety of rice known as Wannian rice. " It can reach 1.8 meters while ordinary rice grows less than 1 meter high.Also, there is no need for pesticides or chemical fertilizers since this 'heirloom' rice variety has proven resistant to insects and over centuries has adapted to low soil fertility.

How science discovered the supertasters

Supertasters are seemingly normal humans who have more bumps on their tongues — a difference that allows them to taste more intensely than average people and (as a side effect) to detect bitter flavors that most of us miss. And they were discovered by accident, when one scientists could taste the chemical dust released in his laboratory and his colleague could not.

‘Hungry Twin’ Stars Gobble Their First Meals

Just-forming stars, like growing babies, are always hungry and must “feed” on huge amounts of gas and dust from dense ...
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Four Volcanos Erupting in Kamchatka

A simultaneous eruption of four volcanoes is taking place on the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka. Despite the fact that all four are within 110 miles of each other, geologists believe that the volcanoes do not share a common magma source, which makes it all the more remarkable.
All four of the volcanoes now erupting have shown significant activity in recent years. Most recently, Tobalchik began spewing lava on Nov. 27 of last year, creating the impressive lava flows visible in the 360 degree video taken by Airpano. Shiveluch, the northernmost of the four, prefers shooting columns of ash high into the air, which it has been doing on a regular basis during the last four years since a magma dome in its crater exploded. Besymjanny awoke with a bang in the 1950s following 1,000 years of dormancy and has been active since then, with huge clouds of ash rising on a regular basis. Finally, the southernmost of the quartet, Kisimen, has been erupting regularly since 2010, and there is concern that it could perform a repeat of the violent explosion which sheered off half of the mountain some 1,300 years ago.
The Russian photography company Airpano flew over the area, taking panoramic shots and a 360-degree video that follows a helicopter visiting all four volcanoes. More

Random Photo

Pack of wild monkeys go on rampage in village and leave seven people injured

Ten primates descended on Toddang Pulu, in South Sulawesi and attacked residents
A mob of wild monkeys went on a rampage in a village in eastern Indonesia, entering houses and attacking residents.
Seven people were injured, including one who is in a critical condition.
Ambo Ella, a spokesman for Sidendeng Rappang District in South Sulawesi province, said the surprise attack by about 10 monkeys happened in Toddang Pulu village.
He said a 16-year-old boy was badly bitten in the attack and was being treated in hospital.
He believes the troop came from a nearby forest protected by a local tribe.
It is unclear why the monkeys, which are usually afraid of humans and flee when they hear human voices, emerged and attacked.
Authorities are investigating to find out what prompted the attack, which caused panic among villagers.

Twasn’t illness what killed off the Tasmanian Tiger

T’was man!

Humans alone were responsible for the demise of Australia’s iconic extinct native predator, the Tasmanian Tiger or thylacine, a new ...
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Warming imperils wolverines

The tenacious wolverine, a snow-loving carnivore sometimes called the "mountain devil," is being added to the list of species threatened by climate change — a dubious distinction that puts it in the ranks of the polar bear and several other animals that could see their habitats shrink drastically due to warming temperatures.
Federal wildlife officials on Friday will propose Endangered Species Act protections for the wolverine in the lower 48 states, a step twice denied under the Bush administration.
The Associated Press obtained details of the government's long-awaited ruling on the rare and elusive animal in advance of Friday's announcement.
There are only 250 to 300 wolverines in the contiguous U.S., clustered into small, isolated groups primarily in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.
Maxing out at 40 pounds and tough enough to stand up to grizzly bears, the animals will be no match for anticipated declines in deep mountain snows that female wolverines need to establish dens and raise their young, scientists said.
Yet because that habitat loss could take decades to unfold, federal wildlife officials said there's still time to bolster the population, including by reintroducing them to the high mountains of Colorado.
Wildlife advocates, who sued to force the government to act on the issue, said they hope the animal's plight will be used by the Obama administration to leverage tighter restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. As with the polar bear, the government could sidestep that thorny proposition by not addressing threats outside the wolverine's immediate range.
But a special rule proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service would allow Colorado's wildlife agency to reintroduce an experimental population of the animals that eventually could spill into neighboring portions of New Mexico and Wyoming.
Federal officials also want to shut down wolverine trapping in Montana, the only one of the lower 48 states where the practice is still allowed.
In recent years, Montana wildlife officials have waged court battles against environmentalists who want to stop trapping. If Friday's proposal goes through after a public comment period, wolverine trapping would be banned.
Federal officials said other human activities — from snowmobiling and skiing to infrastructure development and transportation corridors — are not significant threats to wolverines and would not be curtailed under Friday's proposal.
Once found throughout the Rocky Mountains and in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, wolverines were wiped out across the Lower 48 by the 1930s due to unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns, said Bob Inman, a wolverine researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
In the decades since, they've largely recovered in the Northern Rockies but not in other parts of their historical range, he said.

How owls swivel their heads

OwlsHow owls swivel their heads

Scientists detail the smart bone and vascular structures that enable an owl to turn its head almost a full circle.

Animal Pictures