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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, February 20, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Classics never go out of style

Some of our readers today have been in:
Bridgetown, Barbados
Pretoria, South Africa
Enugu, Nigeria
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Istanbul, Turkey
Kabul, Afghanistan
Quatre Bornes, Mauritius
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tbilisi, Georgia
Ankara, Turkey
Makati, Philippines
Sandakan, Malaysia
Beirut, Lebanon
Nairobi, Kenya
Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Puchong, Malaysia
Tunis, Tunisia
Kiev, Ukraine
Sofia, Bulgaria
Minsk, Belarus
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Belgrade, Serbia
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Bau, Germany
Warsaw, Poland
Karachi, Pakistan
Jakarta, Indonesia
Manila, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Quito, Ecuador
Cairo, Egypt
San Jose, Costa Rica
Doha, Qatar
Muscat, Oman
Klang, Malaysia
Luhansk, Ukraine
Khartoum, Sudan
Medan, Indonesia

Today is Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day

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Today in History

1513 Pope Julius II dies. He will lay in rest in a huge tomb sculptured by Michelangelo.
1725 New Hampshire militiamen partake in the first recorded scalping of Indians by whites in North America.
1792 The U.S. Postal Service is created.
1809 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the power of the federal government is greater than any individual state in the Union.
1831 Polish revolutionaries defeat the Russians in the Battle of Growchow.
1864 Confederate troops defeat a Union army sent to bring Florida into the union at the Battle of Olustee, Fla.
1900 J.F. Pickering patents his airship.
1906 Russian troops seize large portions of Mongolia.
1915 President Woodrow Wilson opens the Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
1918 The Soviet Red Army seizes Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine.
1938 Hitler demands self-determination for Germans in Austria and Czechoslovakia.
1941 The United States sends war planes to the Pacific.
1942 Lt. Edward O'Hare downs five out of nine Japanese bombers that are attacking the carrier Lexington.
1943 German troops of the Afrika Korps break through the Kasserine Pass, defeating U.S. forces.
1954 The Ford Foundation gives a $25 million grant to the Fund for Advancement of Education.
1959 The FCC applies the equal time rule to TV newscasts of political candidates.
1962 Mercury astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.
1963 Moscow offers to allow on-site inspection of nuclear testing.
1965 Ranger 8 hits the moon and sends back 7,000 photos to the United States.
1968 North Vietnamese army chief in Hue orders all looters to be shot on sight.
1971 Young people protest having to cut their long hair in Athens, Greece.
1982 Carnegie Hall in New York begins $20 million in renovations.

Non Sequitur


Celebrating lottery winners blew up their house

Two brothers who were celebrating a $75,000 winning Kansas lottery ticket by purchasing marijuana and meth accidentally blew up their house on Friday, said Sgt. Bruce Watts of the Wichita Police Department.
The explosion sent one of the brothers, a 27-year-old, to the hospital, where he remains in serious but stable condition with second-degree burns on his hands, arms and chest. The other brother was sent to jail, Watts said. The brothers were in a house in at about 7pm on Friday, Watts said.

One of the brothers went to the kitchen to refuel the butane torches they planned to use to light their bongs. He emptied a couple of large cans of butane lighter fluid, leaking butane into the air. “The butane vapor reached the pilot light in the furnace, and as you might expect, ka-boom,” Watts said. The victim was wearing a lottery T-shirt during the explosion.

The victim’s girlfriend loaded him and some children into a car and took him to the Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis emergency room, where she dropped him off and left. Officers went to the house with a warrant, where the other brother ran out, admitting he had marijuana and methamphetamine. He was arrested.

There's a news video here.

Did you know ...

That the war on terror leaves 6,500 Americans with severe brain injuries

That 22 veterans commit suicide every day

That homicides increase by 25% when background check law was repealed in Missouri

That trust in faux news falls to a four-year low There was trust to begin with?

Are gun company stocks in your investment portfolio?

A police chief is being investigated for calling a woman a piece of shit scum sucking baby killing bitch on facebook

House Democrats Crush repugicans With Their Best Fundraising Month Ever

House repugicans should be getting worried about 2014. Despite being the minority party, House Democrats had their best fundraising month ever in January.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) reported that raised more money than their repugican counterparts (nrcc) by nearly $2 million in January. House Democrats raised $6.1 million to the Republicans’ $4.4 million. In the House massive fundraising power usually comes with being in the majority, but Democrats are more than staying even.
The DCCC has been able to raise money, because like Obama, they understand how to use the Internet. House Democrats have been crushing repugicans in online fundraising. Roll Call has the numbers, “In the 2010 cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $14.6 million online; in 2012 it took in $49.3 million — a total representing one-third of its revenue. In the previous two cycles, online donations accounted for 5 percent to 9 percent of the DCCC’s total haul, according to DCCC fundraising figures provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call.
The online boom more than leveled the fundraising playing field for the minority party, allowing the campaign arm to raise $28 million more than its repugican counterparts last cycle.”
While House repugicans fight among themselves, House Democrats have been very successful at getting their message out online. Democratic voters are already showing a midterm enthusiasm for 2014 that hasn’t been seen since 2006. House Democrats won the popular vote in 2012, and the news that President Obama is going to be actively involved in candidate recruitment and campaigning has Democrats ready for a fight.
House repugicans should be very nervous about the 2014 election. They are deeply unpopular, divided, and disliked. It will be difficult for Democrats to win the 17 seats that they need to take the back the House majority, but they need to continue to remove the tea party elements from the House.
The Democrats are putting themselves in position to pull off a win that the mainstream media and pundits think is impossible. A difficult task is not the same thing as an impossible, and Democrats definitely have a chance in 2014.
If Democratic voters match their donations with votes, Nancy Pelosi will be holding the gavel by January 2014.
Be afraid, House repugicans, be very, very afraid.

To the tea party: Obama is Hitler

It’s time the we stopped pretending that the tea party is some real organization that deserves our respect, with the media going so far as giving the tea party a rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union Address.The tea party didn’t just invoke Hitler in a recent pro-gun fundraiser attacking President Obama.  The tea party said that President Obama is Hitler.  They even have a nice photo of President Obama sporting a Hitler mustache, titled “STOP AMERICA’S HITLER.”
Tea Party compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in an email fundraiser.
Tea Party compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in an email fundraiser. 

Here’s a screen capture of the tea party web page accompanying the email (there are two web pages, one has the Hitler image, the other does not, though both compare President Obama to Hitler.)
Tea Party compares Obama to Hitler
Interestingly, we got this email from a German friend who is on the tea party list, and who’s old enough to have been a little boy during Hitler’s reign, and he was horrified by it.
When your political opponent gets this crazy, they not only lose all respectability, they also start earning a visit from the Secret Service, the FBI, and possibly an unmanned drone.  This is the kind of thing you could imagine people saying right before they blow up federal buildings, or at the very least before they inspire others to violence.
The bizarre anti-Obama missive, titled “Stop America’s Hitler,” came out a few weeks ago from teaparty.org, a wingnuttier faction of the tea party that’s been quite vocal about putting its opposition to the President in the starkest of terms.  It’s an email and web ranting about gun control – what else? – and promotes the gun-nut lie that Hitler banned all guns.  He didn’t.
Here’s a little from the teaparty.org:
I am compelled to ask again: if you were to make a movie today about a nation where only the police and the military had guns would you call it, “Schindler’s America?”
Do not forget Oskar Schindler who, while still owning a company, was under the boot heel of an all-powerful government. Guns were forbidden, free speech was forbidden and voting was outlawed. Now, all that we hold dear as Americans could be utterly annihilated.
Many say, “Oh, that can’t happen here.”  Do NOT be a fool!!!! As astute philosopher George Santanaya said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Time is critical. It is running out! That is why we have decided to stand up and fight with all the power we have!
Oh, but NRA head Wayne LaPierre told us that gun nuts aren’t hoarding guns and ammunition in order to fight the inevitable war against the US government.  Yet, that seems to be what teaparty.org is telling us. And it’s the same thing that Tennessee gun nut said on that video a few weeks ago, the one where he threatened to “start killing people” if the President issued any executive orders on guns.  Here’s what LaPierre claimed in a recent piece he published predicting the end of the world, literally, because of President Obama:
Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there—or simply doesn’t show up in time.
Is that so?  Funny, how it’s the first argument gun nuts always reach to whenever you ask them why we shouldn’t ban guns. They don’t talk about hurricanes and riots, they talk about Hitler and Obama.  The repugican darling Matt Drudge even put up a picture of Hilter and Stalin in a story about the President’s push for a legislative response to the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre:
And check this out.  Wayne LaPierre’s article he published is called “Stand and Fight.”  It was published on February 14.  The tea party missive against the President isn’t titled Stand and Fight, but check out the URL for the page, and note what I bolded:
According to the comments on the tea party site, that piece went up in late January – a good two weeks before LaPierre’s “stand and fight.”  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
This part of the Tea Party email/Web missive is particularly disturbing:
Tea party obama hitler guns
If you can no longer depend on politicians to stop “America’s Hitler,” then what exactly are the gun nuts proposing?
So I don’t buy Wayne LaPierre’s BS when he says that “gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government.”  There’s a reason that both New York tabloids labeled LaPierre as insane following his response to the Sandy Hook massacre.  And it’s not because of the NRA’s, and the gun movement’s, cool head and calm self-restraint.
NY Post on NRA
Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA.
 NY Daily News on NRA Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA.
Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA. 

All this is hilarious because the public person who most closely resembles Hitler in his ideas and ideals (as well as those Mussolini)  is the shrub
and any number of wingnut sycophants that subscribe to the NAZI and Fascist tenets. For example - the entire repugican cabal.

The truth be told

High-stakes fight over soybeans at high court

FILE - This July 5, 2008 file photo shows a farmer holding Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soy Bean seeds at his family farm in Bunceton, Mo. A high stakes dispute over soybeans comes before the Supreme Court, with arguments taking place Tuesday. (AP Photo/Dan Gill, File)  
Vernon Hugh Bowman seems comfortable with the old way of doing things, right down to the rotary-dial telephone he said he was using in a conference call with reporters.
Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, 75, is seen visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013.  On Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case between Bowman and agribusiness seed-giant Monsanto. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
But the 75-year-old Indiana farmer figured out a way to benefit from a high-technology product — soybeans that are resistant to weed-killers — without always paying the high price that such genetically engineered seeds typically bring. In so doing, he ignited a legal fight with seed-giant Monsanto Co. that has now come before the Supreme Court, with arguments taking place Tuesday.
The court case poses the question of whether Bowman's actions violated the patent rights held by Monsanto, which developed soybean and other seeds that survive when farmers spray their fields with the company's Roundup brand weed-killer. The seeds dominate American agriculture, including in Indiana, where more than 90 percent of soybeans are "Roundup Ready."
Monsanto has attracted a bushel of researchers, universities and other agribusiness concerns to its side because they fear a decision in favor of Bowman would leave their own technological innovations open to poaching. The company's allies even include a company that is embroiled in a separate legal battle with Monsanto over one of the patents at issue in the Bowman case.
The Obama administration also backs Monsanto, having earlier urged the court to stay out of the case because of the potential for far-reaching implications for patents involving DNA molecules, nanotechnologies and other self-replicating technologies.
Monsanto's opponents argue that the company has tried to use patent law to control the supply of seeds for soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa. The result has been a dramatic rise in seed prices and reduced options for farmers, according to the Center for Food Safety. The group opposes the spread of genetically engineered crops and says their benefits have been grossly overstated.
"It has become extremely difficult for farmers to find high-quality conventional seeds," said Bill Freese, the center's science policy analyst.
Consumer groups and organic food producers have fought Monsanto over genetically engineered farm and food issues in several settings. They lost a campaign in California last year to require labels on most genetically engineered processed foods and produce. Monsanto and other food and chemical companies spent more than $40 million to defeat the ballot measure.
Monsanto says the success of its seeds is proof of their value. By and large, "farmers appreciate what we do," David Snively, Monsanto's top lawyer, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Herbicide-resistant soybean seeds first hit the market in 1996. To protect its investment in their development, Monsanto has a policy that prohibits farmers from saving or reusing the seeds once the crop is grown. Farmers must buy new seeds every year.
Like almost every other farmer in Indiana. Bowman used the patented seeds for his main crop. But for a risky, late-season crop on his 300 acres in Sandborn, about 100 miles southwest of Indianapolis, Bowman said, "I wanted a cheap source of seed."
He couldn't reuse his own beans or buy seeds from other farmers who had similar agreements with Monsanto and other companies licensed to sell genetically engineered seeds. And dealers he used to buy cheap seed from no longer carry the unmodified seeds.
So Bowman found what looked like a loophole and went to a grain elevator that held soybeans it typically sells for feed, milling and other uses, but not as seed.
Bowman reasoned that most of those soybeans also would be resistant to weed killers, as they initially came from herbicide-resistant seeds too. He was right, and he repeated the practice over eight years.
He didn't try to keep it a secret from Monsanto, and in October 2007 the company sued him for violating its patent. Bowman's is one of 146 lawsuits Monsanto has filed since 1996 claiming unauthorized use of its Roundup Ready seeds, Snively said.
A federal court in Indiana sided with Monsanto and awarded the company $84,456 for Bowman's unlicensed use of Monsanto's technology. The federal appeals court in Washington that handles all appeals in patent cases upheld the award. The appeals court said farmers may never replant Roundup Ready seeds without running afoul of Monsanto's patents.
The Supreme Court will grapple with the limit of Monsanto's patent rights, whether they stop with the sale of the first crop of beans or extend to each new crop soybean farmers grow that has the gene modification that allows it to withstand the application of weed killer.
The company sees Bowman's actions as a threat both to its Roundup Ready line of seeds and to other innovations that could be easily and cheaply reproduced if they were not protected.
"This case really is about 21st century technologies," Snively said.
Bowman and his allies say Monsanto's legal claims amount to an effort to bully farmers.
The Center for Food Safety's Freese says Monsanto's biggest moneymaker is corn seed, which cannot be replanted.
"So seed-saving would have no impact on the majority of Monsanto's seed revenue," he said.
The case is Bowman v. Monsanto Co., 11-796.

Dry crop belt counts on more than a drop of February rain

The last of the 2012 drought-stricken corn is seen at Mayne's Tree Farm in Buckeystown, Maryland October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron 
Wheat and corn farmers are banking on more rain and snow in late February so they can keep nursing depleted soil back to healthier levels of moisture amid the worst drought in the United States grain belt in more than 50 years. Agricultural meteorologists said on Tuesday that the precipitation in the next week to 10 days will provide significant relief for crop prospects in the U.S. Plains and Midwest.
John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring, said "this will really help add to soil moisture levels."
Dee said .50 inch to 1 inch of rain could be expected over most of the Plains hard red winter wheat region late this week with a similar system bringing rain and snow again next week.
"There also will be a lot of snow in the north, up to a foot in some areas, and this will really help as it will melt close to planting time," Dee said.
He said the driest areas of the Plains, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, would receive the lion's share of the precipitation.
Commodity Weather Group (CWG) said the most significant storm will arrive Wednesday through early Friday and favor the Plains and western Midwest. CWG meteorologist Joel Widenor said there could be at least 6 inches to 12 inches of snowfall for much of the Central Plains and western Midwest.
"Some drought relief will occur," Widenor said.
The chief bread grain hard red winter wheat crop grown in the U.S. Plains soon will break from its winter slumber and enter its rapid growth stage of development. At the same time, farmers are itching to get into corn fields to plant what could be a record crop, assuming big spring rains bring soil moisture reserves back up to normal.
Harsh drought conditions persisted in U.S. farm states over the last week but some improvement was noted thanks to recent rain and snow, climate experts said on Thursday.
The weekly Drought Monitor report issued by a consortium of state and federal climatologists showed the key farming states in the High Plains region remain drought stricken, although improvement was noted with severe or worse levels of drought at 82.51 percent of the region, down from 87.25 percent a week earlier.
Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather said roughly 4 inches to 6 inches of rain is needed in Kansas, the top producer of hard red winter wheat, to bring the state out of drought status. And up to 8 inches is needed in a pocket of severe dryness in northeastern Kansas, a big corn and grain sorghum growing area.
Similar amounts are needed in Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Missouri and the northern reaches of Illinois and Indiana.
Significant winter rainfall and snow has eliminated the drought for now in an area roughly from Illinois eastward, according to Keeney.
The Senate Agriculture Committee was told on Thursday that 56 percent of the contiguous United States was under moderate to exceptional drought, twice the usual amount.

States ramp up transportation spending with funding law

Commuters arrive at Holland Tunnel to drive into New York from Jersey City, New Jersey November 7, 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz 
State and local governments are spending more on highways, roads and bridges now that they have a long-standing funding commitment from the federal government, according to a recent report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
The group, the oldest transportation construction-related association in the United States, found that from October 1 through February 15, federal, state and local transportation departments have set aside $7 billion in federal funds for capital works projects, a 56 percent increase from the same period last year.
In January alone, the transportation departments obligated $2.3 billion, 13 percent more than in January 2012, the group said in a special report released last Friday.
"The current obligations levels are much more in line with what we expect to see in the marketplace," ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Black said in a statement, adding that they had been "quite low" the previous two years.
Transportation departments obligate, or set aside, money for projects about to be bid and constructed, and are an indicator of states' spending plans.
Legislation authorizing federal funds for transportation, commonly known as the "highway bill," expired in 2009 and states relied on a patchwork of temporary extensions until the middle of 2012 when a new, two-year law was passed. States spent cautiously during extensions, unsure of what amounts they would receive six months out.
Now, many in construction are worried about how federal budget fights will affect road and highway projects.
The main account for surface transportation, the Highway Trust Fund, which is filled with revenue from a gas tax charged at the pump, is not subject to the automatic federal spending cuts set to begin in 10 days.
But even though the account is exempt from "sequestration," it is still under threat in later years, said the Associated General Contractors of America on Monday.
The group estimated the trust fund, along with the Airport Improvement Program, Department of Veterans Affairs, and General Services Administration, which also escaped sequestration, will face $1.5 billion in funding cuts in the next few years because of caps the federal government has placed on its spending under the Budget Control Act.

The Police Fired Hundreds of Bullets at Each Other

A car chase in Cleveland, Ohio, ended up in a deadly firefight where more than a dozen of Cleveland police officers exchanged fire. In total, they fired nearly 140 bullets in less than 30 seconds. But after the gunsmoke dissipated, it was clear they had a problem. A big problem:
A November car chase ended in a "full blown-out" firefight, with glass and bullets flying, according to Cleveland police officers who described for investigators the chaotic scene at the end of the deadly 25-minute pursuit.
But when the smoky haze -- caused by rapid fire of nearly 140 bullets in less than 30 seconds -- dissipated, it soon became clear that more than a dozen officers had been firing at one another across a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland.

North Carolina fails to track, punish uninsured firms

A report by North Carolina's government watchdog says the state agency responsible for deciding whether injured workers are compensated and by how much does a poor job of making sure companies obey the law. 

State Auditor Beth Wood's office said Tuesday the Industrial Commission lacks an accurate way of checking whether employers have the required insurance that pays injured workers. The report says the Industrial Commission has been collecting only a fraction of the financial penalties punishing companies for failing to follow the law. 

The report says more than 11,000 businesses either cancelled their coverage or let it lapse during the year that ended in June. That can leave those workers with problems including lack of guaranteed payment for lost work, injuries that do not heal, and costly medical bills.

Ireland to apologize to women of nun-run laundries

Ireland's prime minister is expected to issue a state apology Tuesday to the thousands of Irish women who spent years working without pay in a defunct network of prison-style laundries run by Catholic nuns.
Former residents of the Magdalene Laundries have campaigned for the past decade for the government to apologize and pay compensation to an estimated 1,000 survivors of the workhouses.
Two weeks ago the Irish government published an investigation into the state's role in overseeing the laundries. It found that more than 10,000 women worked in 10 laundries run by former orders of nuns from 1922 to 1996, when the last Dublin facility closed.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny last week met groups of former Magdalenes in Dublin and London in preparation for Tuesday's planned apology in parliament.

Remembering 1960s Afghanistan

In 1967, Dr. William Podlich took a two-year leave of absence from teaching at Arizona State University and began a stint with UNESCO to teach in the Higher Teachers College in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the 'Expert on Principles of Education.' His wife Margaret and two daughters, Peg and Jan, came with him.

Dr. Podlich was also a prolific amateur photographer and he documented his family's experience and daily life in Kabul, rendering frame after frame of a serene, idyllic Afghanistan. Only about a decade before the 1979 Soviet invasion, Dr. Podlich and his family experienced a thriving, modernizing country.

The Secret Shipwrecks of the Baltic Sea

The dark, cold Baltic Sea holds the remains of shipwrecks going back as far as 800 years. The sea's freshwater doesn't support the life forms that break down wood in salt water. In a photo collection at Environmental Graffiti we see a Russian team explore the shipwrecks of the Baltic, including a close look at an American-made ship that once belonged to Tsar Nicholas I, which sank in 1856. More

Our Ancestors Had Much Better Teeth

The move from eating mostly meat to refined carbohydrates and grains meant tooth-decaying bacteria could thrive, finds a new study.

Strange slime baffles scientists at nature reserve

Scientists at a nature reserve in Somerset have been baffled by a jelly-like slime which has appeared in a number of locations at the site. Experts are divided over the origin of the jelly which has been found on grass banks away from the water's edge at the RSPB's Ham Wall base.
Spokesman Tony Whitehead said although unknown, similar substances have been noted in historical records. Visitors are being asked to report findings but warned not to touch it. Scientific speculation as to the nature of the jelly is varied with one of the more favoured explanations that it is a form of cyanobacteria called Nostoc.

Others suggest that it is the remains of the regurgitated innards of amphibians such as frogs and toads and of their spawn. "In records dating back to the 14th Century it's known variously as star jelly, astral jelly or astromyxin," Mr Whitehead said. "In folklore it is said to be deposited in the wake of meteor showers."

Mr Whitehead added: "It's great that in this day and age that there are still mysteries out there. We've read a few articles now and much speculation. One suggested it was neither animal nor plant, and another that it didn't contain DNA, although it does give the appearance of something 'living'. Our reserve team will be looking out for the slime over the next few days, but if anyone can offer any explanations we'd be glad to hear."

Meteorite fragments found in Urals

Russian scientists say they have found fragments of a meteorite that struck in the Urals region on Friday, injuring some 1,200 people.

The shark that only wants a single bite

The cookiecutter shark is one of those animals that kind of makes you believe nature just likes to mess with us. Instead of killing the things it eats, a cookiecutter shark just takes a bite — leaving a neat, tidy hemispherical divot. As marine biologist Yannis Papastamatiou told reporter Douglas Main, it would be more accurate to call the cookiecutter an "ice cream scoop shark". Despite only being about 20 inches long, the cookiecutter shark will try its luck on a wide variety of prey, including animals much larger than itself. It's been known to bite great white sharks, for instance. And there is one report of a cookiecutter biting a human, although that risk is probably not something you should bother losing sleep over.

The Top 10 Largest Meteor Craters On Earth

A meteorite unexpectedly pierced through the atmosphere over the Urals Region in Russia last Friday morning and exploded about 12 to 15 miles above ground, creating a shockwave that damaged houses, shattered windows and injured more than 1,200 people.

Usually, a meteor crater will be formed when a meteor impacts another celestial body. A number of meteor craters can be found across the Earth. Here are the top 10 largest meteor craters ever recorded in our planet's 4.6 billion-year-long history.

Astronomical and Atomic News

Cosmos may be 'inherently unstable'CMS collision data

Scientists say further study of the Higgs boson will reveal if there is an inherent instability in the Universe, leading to its eventual replacement. 939

Random Photo

Taiwanese activists call for ban on force-fed divine pig contest

Animal rights advocates have rallied outside the Chingshui Zushi Temple in Sansia District, New Taipei City, urging an end to “divine pig” contests. Chanting “overweight pigs do not bring fortune” while parading a model of a cartoon pig on the bridge leading to the temple, the advocates urged passers-by to join their campaign to halt the practice, the last such contest in the Taipei metropolitan area.

“I would like to make it clear that we are not against the tradition of having pigs as offering to deities and immortals, but if you choose to do this, please buy pigs that are raised in a healthy way and slaughtered humanely,” Environmental and Animal Society Taiwan (EAST) director Chen Yu-min told the crowd. “Pigs normally grow to over 130lbs [60kg], but the divine pigs are force-fed and grow to 1,300lbs or more, then have their throats cut while they are conscious. This is unhealthy, cruel and inhumane,” Chen said. She said that all deities are merciful and would not appreciate offerings that cause suffering in living creatures.

“Don’t forget that Chingshui Zushi was a learned and much respected Buddhist master and a vegetarian,” Chen said. According to tradition, the heavier the pig that a devotee presents as an offering, the more sincere the devotee, though both Buddhist and Taoist teachings urge vegetarian offerings at religious rituals. While contests on the weight of divine pigs were once popular across the country, only a few temples still hold such events. In Sansia, seven family clans take turns each year to be in charge of raising such pigs, receiving certificates and medals according to the weight of the animals.

According to EAST, there are 126 Chingshui Zushi temples across the country, but the Sansia temple is the only one still holding annual divine pig contests. Responding to the activists, the temple’s executive director Liu Chin-ta said that it may consider ending the divine pig contest in 2017. “Seven clans take turns to raise divine pigs, so each cycle lasts seven years. The current cycle started in 2010, and since we cannot just stop it, we have to wait until at least 2017 to put an end to the practice,” Liu said. “Of course, it’s up to the temple’s board of directors to make the final decision on the matter.”

How whale teeth came to be

Whales are mammals, but they don’t look like the mammals living around us, as they have a triangular fluke for tail, no hind legs and no body hair. And inside their mouths, whale teeth are ...

New insight into dog fear responses to noise

A study has gained new insight into domestic dog fear responses to noises. The behavioral response by dogs to noises can be extreme in nature, distressing for owners and a welfare issue for dogs.

Look out Tucson: A new scorpion is on the loose

A new species of scorpion, Vaejovis brysoni, was found in the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona.
Another scorpion of the same group also inhabits this mountain range, making this the first documented case of two vorhiesi group species distributed on the same mountain. The study was published in the open access, peer-reviewed journal Zookeys. These mountains overlook the city of Tucson, Arizona. Amazingly, in the 21st century, there are still new species to be discovered right here in the United States. What is even more surprising is that the new species was found within sight of a large metropolitan area.
female scorpion 150x150 Look out Tucson: New scorpion on the looseRecently Dr. Rob Bryson Jr. discovered this new species while looking for a completely different animal. Many important discoveries are made this way by scientists who start out working on something completely different. He sent specimens to the authors, who determined that they were indeed a new scorpion species. At that point, the team was assembled and the rest is history.
For over 50 years only four species of mountain scorpions were known from the state of Arizona. That number has more than doubled over the past six years, with a total of 10 species now known, all belonging to the same group. Arizona is known for isolated mountain habitats in the desert known as Sky Islands. These Sky Islands are where the new species are being discovered.
“This latest new scorpion is a prime example of the amazing diversity of life still to be discovered, right here in 21st century America.”, adds Richard F. Ayrey, one of the co-author of the original article.

Fauna and Flora News

Right whaleWhales benefit from action on noise

Scientists are working to reduce the noise levels and hazardous collisions that blight whale populations swimming off the northeast coast of the US.

Also in the News

Lively orphaned bears keep New Hampshire rehabilitator busy

In this photo provided by Ben Kilham, Kilham is seen inside his 8-acre forested enclosure with a bear cub, May 12, 2012 in Lyme, N.H. Ben Kilham is the state's only licensed bear rehabilitator. Typically he cares for three to five black bear cubs each winter. But when a bad year for feeding followed a good one for breeding, he ended up with 27 orphaned bears to to take care of for the winter. (AP Photo) 
Someone tell these black bear cubs they should be sleeping.

When a bad year for feeding followed a good one for breeding, Ben Kilham, New Hampshire's only licensed bear rehabilitator, found himself spending the winter with 27 lively and orphaned cubs — a huge jump from the three to five he typically sees.
"We didn't know what to expect as they kept coming in," Kilham said. "It was every week or twice a week we were getting calls, 'We've got a group of cubs,' then 'another group of cubs.'"
Kilham keeps the cubs in an 8-acre enclosed forest behind his house until spring, when he works with the state Fish and Game Department to release them in remote locations. Normally, the bears sleep all winter, but not this bunch.
"They've managed to keep themselves awake," he said. "There's always somebody who stirs up somebody else, and pretty soon, everybody's up."
For a while, Kilham tried withholding food in hopes that the bears would sleep, but that didn't work.
"They just roto-tilled the pen," he said. "It was obvious that they were seeking food, so we just gave up and started going back once a day feeding them."
Staying awake all winter won't hurt the bears any, he said, and if anything, they are better off having spent the winter in a large group. With just a few cubs, it was common for one to pace back and forth near the fence, Kilham said. But none of the current cubs are showing that kind of anxiety.
"They're just one big happy family, they roam around, play with each other," he said. "They are very, very happy as a big social unit."
Andy Timmins, the bear project leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, said officials were expecting more orphaned cubs than usual but were surprised at just how many turned up.
"It was like nothing we've ever seen. A high year in the past was maybe, seven or eight bears," he said. "It was a very challenging year, for sure, and we're not done yet. I'm absolutely positive there will be more showing up this spring as a result of these conditions last year."
The bumper crop of cubs can be traced to a two-year swing in the bears' food supply. Younger female bears often don't give birth during leaner years, but with an abundance of beechnuts, berries and other food in 2011, there was a baby boom. In 2012, however, dry conditions meant food was scarce, and bears were forced to venture into backyards for food. Sows that foraged for food in chicken coops and beehives ended up getting shot by property owners, leaving the cubs behind. That's how 16 of the 27 cubs ended up with Kilham.
"The big wave of them came in June and July as a direct result of females getting shot in chicken pens," Timmins said. "It was just bang, bang, bang, with calls coming in from people saying, 'I just shot a bear, come and pick it up.'"
The state has a program to help landowners install electric fencing to protect their coops, he said, but many are unwilling to use it. And the law is on the side of property owners.
"We bend over backwards to help people with that problem, and we'd like to see a little more tolerance out there among the public towards wildlife that might be attracted to the chicken pen," he said. "It's an easy fix."
Kilham agreed.
"Once the bear's in your chicken coop, the damage is done so there's nothing gained by shooting the bear," he said.
Kilham, who has been studying bears for more than 20 years, has produced and appeared in numerous documentaries and written two books about bear social behavior. The second, titled "Out on a Limb," is due out this summer, and he's also working on a doctoral degree in environmental conservation that builds on his work in China helping wildlife experts who are reintroducing pandas to the wild.
Back in Lyme, much of the day-to-day care of bears falls to Kilham's sister, Phoebe, who said despite the added workload this year — which includes four sets of triplets — it's not hard for her to keep track of so many bears. Some of them are named for the towns where they were found — there's "Moultonborough One" and "Moultonborough Two" — while others have more whimsical such monikers as Clarkie, Big Girl and Slothy.
Clarkie is the group lookout and runs up to be fed first, she said. Others hang back and don't eat until the Kilhams leave. And thanks to an outpouring of donations after a local television station publicized the situation, they have plenty of dog food to keep everyone well-fed until spring.
"You get to recognize them by behavior as well as by sight," she said. "We do pretty well. Some of those last triplets were hard to tell apart, but otherwise we do pretty well."

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