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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Daily Drift

Street Photographer by Thomas Hawk on Flickr.
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Today in History

1687   The French explorer La Salle is murdered in by his own men while searching for the mouth of the Mississippi, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
1702   On the death of William III of Orange, Anne Stuart, sister of Mary, succeeds to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1822   Boston is incorporated as a city.
1879   Jim Currie opens fire on the actors Maurice Barrymore and Ben Porter near Marshall, Texas. His shots wound Barrymore and kill Porter.
1903   The U.S. Senate ratifies the Cuban treaty, gaining naval bases in Guantanamo and Bahia Honda.
1916   The First Aero Squadron takes off from Columbus, NM to join Gen. John J. Pershing and his Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa in Mexico.
1917   The Adamson Act, eight hour day for railroad workers, is ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
1918   Congress authorizes Daylight Savings Time.
1920   The U.S. Senate rejects the Versailles Treaty for the second time.
1924   U.S. troops are rushed to Tegucigalpa as rebel forces take the Honduran capital.
1931   The state of Nevada legalizes gambling.
1935   The British fire on 20,000 Muslims in India, killing 23.
1936   The Soviet Union signs a pact of assistance with Mongolia against Japan.
1944   The German 352nd Infantry Division deploys along the coast of France.
1945   Adolf Hitler orders a scorched-earth policy for his retreating German armies in the west and east.
1947   Chiang Kai-Shek's government forces take control of Yenan, the former headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party.
1949   The Soviet People's Council signs the constitution of the German Democratic Republic, and declares that the North Atlantic Treaty is merely a war weapon.
1963   In Costa Rica, President John F. Kennedy and six Latin American presidents pledge to fight Communism.
1977   Congo President Marien Ngouabi is killed by a suicide commando.
1981   One technician is killed and two others are injured during a routine test on space shuttle Columbia.

Non Sequitur


Murdoch’s evil empire accused of 600 more phone hackings

The repugican cabal’s favorite mouthpiece is in trouble again. Rupert Murdoch’s empire has already admitted to hacking the phones of eight people, but the problem continues. An additional 600 new allegations of phone hacking by a News Corp (now closed) newspaper are now being investigated.The ugly story first emerged in 2011, when a News Corp’s UK tabloid was accused of hacking into the phone of a young girl who was murdered. The hacking erased several voice messages on the already-dead girl’s cell phone, which left the family with false hope that their young daughter was still alive (since who else could have erased her voice mails?).  The Murdoch tabloid continued to report the story, apparently knowing full well why the voice mails were erased.
Speaking as someone who was left wondering if a family member was alive or dead for days (in my family’s case, my brother had died) it’s hard to imagine anything more cruel than giving false hope to a family, and then profiting from their misery by selling stories about it. But that’s the Murdoch way. Nothing is too low for a story that sells.
Rupert Murdoch via Shutterstock

The Murdoch tabloid didn’t leave it there. They also were alleged to have hacked into the phones of those killed in the London 7/7 bombings. Again, the story was too good and the families were left to suffer.
Many more cases emerged involving celebrities, politicians and regular people. Murdoch’s response? Rupert Murdoch called the victims “scumbags” for caring about the invasion and abuse of their privacy. Again, this is the man that the repugican cabal can’t get enough of.
And now there are more allegations, via the Guardian of 600 new incidents of alleged phone-hacking.
There’s a reason why a UK parliamentary report found Murdoch “unfit” to run a global company. He remained quiet when the news broke that his employees were reported to have been hiding evidence, and while a UK police report showed that Murdoch’s paper showed disregard for the law and lied to the police.
Remind me again why he’s so loved and respected by the wingnuts?

The repugicans Can’t Hide Their Racist Obama Hate

gop racism
Most people would do whatever it takes to give the appearance they are doing something as well as possible to try to make a good impression, and perform in a way that causes other people to have a good opinion of them. Organizations take care that their agents represent the best and brightest of their particular industry and it is certain that political parties carefully groom and prepare their best advocates to embody their mission and agenda. Over the past three days, conservatives paraded their best spokespeople to advance their cause, and if they were trying to make a good impression on each other and observant voters, they failed miserably. Between the nutjobs and failed repugican candidates, the CPAC2013 gathering represented lunatic extremism at its finest and a group clinging to a version of reality unique to out-of-touch wingnuts.
One did not have to follow the daily recapitulation of crazy to comprehend the wingnut conclave’s purpose was to put on a torrid display of groundless anti-Obama rhetoric based on the roster of speakers. One by one, wingnuttery’s best and brightest fired up the crowds preaching that America’s salvation is steeped in religion, austerity, guns, and voiding the federal government, and the speakers each reiterated that repugicans lost the November election because the repugican cabal failed to articulate wingnut’s values and not that voters rejected lunatic extremism. Marco Rubio opined that “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works” and it revealed that to repugicans, extremism defines America, and voters are out of touch with America.
The featured speakers at CPAC represented fanaticism at its finest with Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan rambling on about America’s demise stemming from voter’s rejecting conservative ideas. To educate Americans on the value of embracing their vision of, and for, America, CPAC brought conservative’s marquee spokesperson out of retirement and turned her loose to lay the nation’s woes at the feet of President Obama.  In fact, Palin reiterated nearly every criticism about the President for twenty minutes she has dutifully uttered since 2008, and still failed to put forth a coherent thought, much less one based in reality, but that is the Palin Americans have come to know and disparage. However, although Palin cemented her role as one of conservative’s premier dunces, it was a racist at the assembly that stole the show and reminded Americans that intrinsic to repugicans’ inability to win elections, or appeal to voters is their racial animus.
During a repugican-run panel on “Trumping the Race” card, a North Carolina man complained that embracing diversity in the party by reaching out to blacks  was “at the expense of young, white, Southern males like myself, my demographic is being systematically disenfranchised.” When the discussion leader from the Frederick Douglass repugicans shared a story about abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s letter to his former slave-owner forgiving him for holding him in servitude, the racist said, “For giving him shelter and food?” The racist’s remark evoked cheers and applause from the crowd.
After the brief exchange, the racist muttered “why can’t we just have segregation?” When the racist was asked if he supported an America where African Americans were subservient to whites, he said “I’d be fine with that,” and continued that African-Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the tea parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was. When a woman confronted the man on the repugican cabal’s racist roots, he said “I didn’t know the legacy of the repugican cabal included women correcting men in public.” The repugicans still contemplating their loss in November can look back at the conversation on the benefits of slavery and subservient women, and consider that if that is their ideal of America, it is no wonder they lost women’s vote, the minority vote, and the election.
The interchange, although not part of the scheduled program, highlighted repugicans’ racism that the election of an African American as President has brought to the voters’ attention and alienated minorities in November’s election. To reinforce the point, tea partiers blamed the racist’s remarks on an African American woman reporter for asking a question they said was “disruptive and coercive;” she asked, “How many Black women were there?” The Black reporter also took exception to the contention that Democrats are to blame for the existence of the Ku Klux Klan, that enraged the crowd who shouted the woman down with cries of “We don’t want your question,” and “we don’t want to hear it.” One teabagger regaled in tri-corner hat, waistcoat and breeches typical of a Revolutionary War soldier shouted incessantly at the Black reporter and finally stormed out of the room.
The message from repugicans since their electoral loss, and at CPAC, is that there is nothing wrong with their policies and agendas that more extremism cannot remedy. Recall that during his portion of the program, Marco Rubio said, “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works,” and it encapsulates the extremist position repugicans will not abandon. The idea that America still works as a nation of racists and patriarchs was extreme in 1950, and despite the nation moving forward into the 21st century, it is the wingnuts yearn for and repugicans are intent on reestablishing as evidenced by their incessant demand to “take the country back.”
For a little over four years, repugicans have assailed President Obama regardless he saved the economy, created millions of jobs, reduced spending and taxes, and created an environment that gave business, corporations, and Wall Street record profits. At CPAC, conservatives lambasted the President for all manner of fallacious sleights, but in one panel on diversity and outreach, the sole, underlying reason for all of the repugicans’ extremism and hate was laid bare; sheer racial animus. CPAC was an extremists’ dream, and they brought out the cream of the lunatic crop to parrot extremist rhetoric and to demean President Obama for their electoral loss, but despite Palin’s worn-out one-liners, Rand Paul’s sudden regard for civil liberties, or Rubio’s assertion that the repugican cabal’s ideas are incredible and immutable, the basis for their extremism and opposition to President Obama is pure racism. Based on the group sponsoring CPAC’s white nationalist background, it is little wonder racists stole the show.

The truth be told

The war on women

The New York police apparently are joining in on it. they have to run criminal check on the victims of domestic violence...even if the only thing they have is an unpaid traffic ticket, off to jail the domestic violence victim goes. Yeah...this is really going to encourage women to report being victimized.
Women who report domestic violence are exposing themselves to arrest under a new NYPD directive that orders cops to run criminal checks on the accused and the accuser ...  More

CNN Reports Steubenville Verdict With Disgusting Pro-Rapist Bias

Who knew that CNN was pro-rape? The former cable news leader could not contain their sorrow over the fact that the two Steubenville football players who raped a teenage girl have had their lives ruined.
Video courtesy of Crooks and Liars:
Transcript from CNN:
CROWLEY: Again, this case was played out in juvenile court, that is why there was a judge, no jury. He decided on the verdict, as well as, you heard there, talking about the sentence.
We want to go now to CNN’s Poppy Harlow. She is in Steubenville, and has been covering this trial.
I cannot imagine having just watched this on the feed coming in. How emotional that must have been sitting in the courtroom.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I’ve never experienced anything like it, Candy. It was incredibly emotional — incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.
One of — one of the young men, Ma’lik Richmond, when that sentence came down, he collapsed. He collapsed in the arms of his attorney, Walter Madison. He said to me, “My life is over. No one is going to want me now.”
Very serious crime here. Both found guilty of raping this 16- year-old girl at a series of parties back in August, alcohol-fueled parties. Alcohol is a huge part in this.
But Trent Mays was also found guilty on a second count and that is of felony illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material because he took a photograph of the victim laying naked on the floor that night. Trent Mays will serve two years in a juvenile detention facility. Ma’lik Richmond will serve one year on that one count that he was found guilty for.
I want to let our viewers listen because for the first time in this entire trial we have now heard from the two young men. Trent Mays stood up, apologizing to the victim’s family in court. After him, Ma’lik Richmond.
TRENT MAYS, FOUND GUILTY OF RAPINGIN JUVENILE COURT: I would really like to apologize to (INAUDIBLE), her family, my family and community. No pictures should have been sent out or should be taken. That’s all. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything you’d like to say, Ma’lik?
MA’LIK RICHMOND, FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE IN JUVENILE COURT: I would like to apologize. I had no intention to do anything like that and I’m sorry to put you guys through this. (INAUDIBLE) I’m sorry.
HARLOW: I was sitting about three feet from Ma’lik when he gave that statement. It was very difficult to watch.
You know, something that came up throughout this sentencing. Ma’lik’s father had gotten up and spoke. Ma’lik has been living with guardians. His father, a former alcoholic, gotten to a lot of trouble with the law, been in prison before.
And his father stood up and he told the court, “I feel responsible for this. I feel like I wasn’t there for my son.” And before that, he came over to the bench where his son was sitting. He approached him, he hugged him and whispered in his ear.
And Ma’lik’s attorney said to us in a courtroom, I have never heard Ma’lik’s father before say, I love you. He’s never told his son that. But he just did today.
This was an incredibly emotional day. These two juveniles being carried out and they will be committed today, Candy.
Those poor, poor teenage boys who raped a 16 year old girl. According to CNN, we should feel sympathy for the rapists because their lives are ruined. Here’s a thought. Their lives wouldn’t have been ruined if they didn’t rape someone.
CNN was sure to mention the impact of the verdict on the two football players, but they didn’t mention that the victim had her life ruined too. As the victim of a violent sexual attack, she will potentially carry trauma and injuries with her the rest of her life.
Two boys may never get to play organized football again, but a teenage girl will be dealing with what happened that night forever. The football players are being punished for the crimes that they committed.
CNN is sad for the rapists who got caught, not the innocent girl who was raped.
I wish I could say that this was a CNN only problem, but the blame the victim culture being perpetuated by the media and the Republican Party has created an epidemic. It would have been appropriate for CNN to mention that this was a sad and troubling case all the way around, but the network’s sympathy for convicted rapists while never mentioning the victim was inappropriate and disgusting.
CNN should be embarrassed by their coverage. CNN apologized last year for music they used to introduce a segment about Sarah Palin, but I would hold my breath waiting for an apology for their pro-rapist coverage.

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How China Becomes Smarter

Through Education and Genetic Engineering
First, China decided to become a manufacturing giant, then an economic and military superpower. So you shouldn't be surprised that their next plan is to improve the actual Chinese people themselves.They're doing this two ways: the first is not controversial. China is massively investing in education.
Keith Bradsher of The New York Times wrote:
China is making a $250 billion-a-year investment in what economists call human capital. Just as the United States helped build a white-collar middle class in the late 1940s and early 1950s by using the G.I. Bill to help educate millions of World War II veterans, the Chinese government is using large subsidies to educate tens of millions of young people as they move from farms to cities.

Source: UNESCO (degrees, enrollment); China finance ministry via CEIC Data (Spending)
Chart: The New York Times
And it seems to be working (though as some people pointed out, quantity isn't the same as quality - and that, similar to United States and Europe, China is already facing a glut of educated college graduates who can't find jobs). Again, from Bradsher's article:
Sheer numbers make the educational push by China, a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, potentially breathtaking. In the last decade, China doubled the number of colleges and universities, to 2,409.
As recently as 1996, only one in six Chinese 17-year-olds graduated from high school. That was the same proportion as in the United States in 1919. Now, three in five young Chinese graduate from high school, matching the United States in the mid-1950s.
China is on track to match within seven years the United States’ current high school graduation rate for 18-year-olds of 75 percent — although a higher proportion of Americans than Chinese later go back and finish high school.
By quadrupling its output of college graduates in the past decade, China now produces eight million graduates a year from universities and community colleges. [...] By the end of the decade, China expects to have nearly 195 million community college and university graduates — compared with no more than 120 million in the United States then.
The second method is more controversial. According to this article by Aleks Eror published in VICE, China is working on making its people more intelligent by genetic-engineering:
At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points.
Eror interviewed evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller who said that smart people were being recruited, through scientific conference and word of mouth, to contribute their genetic material to be sequenced so the genes for intelligence can be identified (and later on, used to determine the intelligence potential of embryos).
What does that mean in human language?
Any given couple could potentially have several eggs fertilized in the lab with the dad’s sperm and the mom’s eggs. Then you can test multiple embryos and analyze which one’s going to be the smartest. That kid would belong to that couple as if they had it naturally, but it would be the smartest a couple would be able to produce if they had 100 kids. It’s not genetic engineering or adding new genes, it’s the genes that couples already have.
And over the course of several generations you’re able to exponentially multiply the population’s intelligence.
Right. Even if it only boosts the average kid by five IQ points, that’s a huge difference in terms of economic productivity, the competitiveness of the country, how many patents they get, how their businesses are run, and how innovative their economy is.

German Cops Issued A Parking Ticket To A Car Made Of Snow

Traffic wardens in Germany left a parking ticket - on a full-sized snow sculpture of a Volkswagen Beetle. Pranksters had built the car overnight in a no-parking zone in Aachen, complete with outlines for its headlights, windscreens and even the distinctive VW badge on the bonnet.

The wardens eventually realized they'd been had when they tried to scrape the snow off the number plate and found there was no plate, just snow. A police spokesman said: 'We can take a joke as well as the next person and it was a very convincing prank.'

Are We Running Out Of Scientific Geniuses?

Is the world clear out of geniuses? Will we ever have another Copernicus, another Darwin, another Einstein to shatter the foundations of our beliefs? Perhaps not, says a man who ought to know.

Dean Keith Simonton, professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis, thinks they may very well have ceased to exist. It may be that they have been rendered impossible, simply because of the way science works anymore.

A Taste of Potato History

vIreland's Great Famine in the mid-19th century led to the demise of farms, starvation, and many Irish emigrating to other countries. The most common potato affected was the Lumper, a popular potato at the time because it would grow in poor soil. It had all but disappeared until recently, when farmer Michael McKillop grew some heirloom seeds to resurrect the Lumper.
As its name implies, this potato is not especially beautiful. It’s large, knobby, and, well, lumpy, with pale brown skin and yellow flesh. Still, it was widely grown in Ireland before the famine because it did well in poor soil and could feed a lot of mouths.

According to University College Dublin’s Cormac O’Grada, an expert on the history of famines, the blight (Phytophtora infestans) destroyed about one-third of Ireland’s potato crop in 1845 and almost all of it in 1846. Because so many people were poor and relied on potatoes for sustenance, the blight had catastrophic consequences, including food riots and mass death from starvation.

Spuds are faring much better today thanks to modern farming techniques and technology, although potato blight is still an ongoing concern for Irish farmers.
Killop wants to bring back the Lumper for historic purposes, not to produce on a large scale. They don't taste as good as more modern potatoes. Irish potato farmers today generally grow newer varieties of potatoes for better quality and disease resistance. The news article includes a recipe for potato gratin, calling for russet potatoes. More

Orville Wright And The First Person To Die In An Airplane

The Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were the first pilots to have a successful manned flight, when they flew their airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December of 1903. Although many believe the Wright brothers flew together in a plane that historic day, this is untrue.

It was brother Orville who flew aloft for 12 seconds that day and proved that man, indeed, could fly. But Orville Wright holds another flying record. He was also the pilot of the first flight in history where a passenger died.

Ancient Chinese coin found on Kenyan island

A joint expedition of scientists led by Chapurukha M. Kusimba of The Field Museum and Sloan R. Williams of the University of Illinois at Chicago has unearthed a 600-year-old Chinese coin on the Kenyan island of Manda that shows trade existed between China and east Africa decades before European explorers set sail and changed the map of the world.
The coin, a small disk of copper and silver with a square hole in the center so it could be worn on a belt, is called “Yongle Tongbao” and was issued by Emperor Yongle who reigned from 1403-1425AD during the Ming Dynasty. The emperor’s name is written on the coin, making it easy to date. Emperor Yongle, who started construction of China’s Forbidden City, was interested in political and trade missions to the lands that ring the Indian Ocean and sent Admiral Zheng He, also known as Cheng Ho, to explore those shores.
Ancient Chinese coin found on Kenyan island 
“Zheng He was, in many ways, the Christopher Columbus of China,” said Dr. Kusimba, curator of African Anthropology at The Field Museum. “It’s wonderful to have a coin that may ultimately prove he came to Kenya,” he added.
Dr. Kusimba continued, “This finding is significant. We know Africa has always been connected to the rest of the world, but this coin opens a discussion about the relationship between China and Indian Ocean nations.”
That relationship stopped soon after Emperor Yongle’s death when later Chinese rulers banned foreign expeditions, allowing European explorers to dominate the Age of Discovery and expand their countries’ empires.
The island of Manda, off the northern coast of Kenya, was home to an advanced civilization from about 200AD to 1430AD, when it was abandoned and never inhabited again. Trade played an important role in the development of Manda, and this coin may show trade’s importance on the island dating back to much earlier than previously thought.
“We hope this and future expeditions to Manda will play a crucial role in showing how market-based exchange and urban-centered political economies arise and how they can be studied through biological, linguistic, and historical methodologies,” Dr. Kusimba said.

Is Legendary Viking 'Sunstone' Real?

The sunstone is a type of mineral attested in several 13th–14th century written sources in Iceland, one of which describes its use to locate the sun in a completely overcast sky. A theory exists that the sunstone had polarizing attributes and was used as a navigation instrument by seafarers in the Viking Age.

Though none of these sunstones have ever been found at Viking archaeological sites, a crystal uncovered in a British shipwreck could help prove they did indeed exist. The crystal was found amongst the wreckage of the Alderney, an Elizabethan warship that sank near the Channel Islands in 1592.

Random Photo

Astronomical News

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A recent simulation predicts that NASA's New Horizons probe could slam into a rocky killing field encircling the "binary planet" Pluto-Charon, during its 2015 flyby.
In Chile, a brand new radio telescope is coming to life -- Discovery News' Nicole Gugliucci was there to see the inauguration of the impressive Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array.
A trio of quasars, only the second of its kind ever discovered, has been found 9 billion light years away.
Astronomy can be a cosmic detective story, and our enduring fascination with the solar system's mysterious hinterland of small icy objects in the Kuiper belt is no exception. 
A newly discovered star system, made up of a pair of tiny brown dwarfs, is just 6.5 light-years away - this makes it the closest to be found since 1916, and the third closest star system to the sun! 

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A couple of cups of Dark Roasted Blend

Awesome Pictures


Sunset @ Coalmine Canyon (by vtgohokies)

Fossil Birds with Four Wings

Paleontologists in China have discovered ancient ancestors of birds that had both front and rear wings.
Modern birds generally work with two wings, using small, clawed hind legs for ground travel. A few, like the golden eagle, have fuzzy down on their back limbs, which is for insulating their appendages, not flying. Though researchers have unearthed evidence of downy limbs in feathered dinosaurs, little evidence existed that early birds were using those hind legs for flapping.

But 11 specimens from Liaoning in northeastern China, from several species show evidence of long, stiff feathers with curved shafts jutting out nearly perpendicular to the leg -- a far cry from mere insulation.

The feathers were arranged in a relatively wide, flat plane, making it a potentially flight-worthy design, says a team of Chinese scientists studying feathered fossils.
That design didn't seem to work out too well for the birds, as those species eventually died out. The two-winged versions are more aerodynamic, and using your rear appendages for walking, perching, or catching prey is handy. Read more about the fossils at the Los Angeles Times.

Will De-Extinction Become Reality?

Though scientists don't expect a real-life 'Jurassic Park,' an extinct species could be resurrected as long as it has enough intact ancient DNA.

Upping the Cute Factor

Lunch time

Baby Komodo dragons born in Indonesia zoo

Seven tiny cute little baby Komodo dragons have been born in a zoo in Indonesia's East Java Province. You'll want to watch the video here.

The Sea Cucumber Eats Through Its Anus

California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus), California, USA, Pacific Ocean. Photograph by Gerald and Buff Corsi, Visuals Unlimited/Getty Images
Remember the turtle that pees through its mouth we told you about last year? Well, here's a kindred spirit: the giant California sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) that eats using its anus as a second mouth. Oh, as if that's not enough, it also breathes through its butt.
You read that right:
Their first hint that the sea cucumber anus was doing triple duty came from a structure called the rete mirabile, a set of blood vessels that connect the sea cucumber’s respiratory trees with its gut.
Initially, Jaeckle, of Illinois Wesleyan University, and Strathmann, of the University of Washington, thought that the rete mirabile was used to transfer oxygen from the respiratory trees to the gut. But if P. californicus were obtaining food via its anus, it would likely use the rete mirabile to transfer the food to the gut.
To test their idea, the team fed several sea cucumbers radioactive algae, which also contained iron particles. [...]
Not surprisingly, the results showed that the sea cucumbers ate the algae through their actual mouths, which then traveled through their gut.
However, the researchers also found a high level of radioactivity when they looked at the rete mirabile. The only way that those blood vessels could have such a high concentration of radioactivity is if the animal was transferring food from the respiratory trees to the gut via the rete mirabile.
Carrie Arnold of National Geographic News has the story: Here.

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