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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.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Daily Drift

Aw, ain't that cute

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Today in History

1792   The United States authorizes the minting of the $10 Eagle, $5 half-Eagle & 2.50 quarter-Eagle gold coins as well as the silver dollar, dollar, quarter, dime & half-dime.
1796   Haitian revolt leader Toussaint L'Ouverture takes command of French forces at Santo Domingo.
1801   The British navy defeats the Danish at the Battle of Copenhagen.
1865   Confederate President Jefferson Davis flees Richmond, Virginia as Grant breaks Lee's line at Petersburg.
1910   Karl Harris perfects the process for the artificial synthesis of rubber.
1914   The U.S. Federal Reserve Board announces plans to divide the country into 12 districts.
1917   President Woodrow Wilson presents a declaration of war against Germany to Congress.
1917   Jeannette Pickering Rankin is sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1931   Virne "Jackie" Mitchell becomes the first woman to play for an all-male pro baseball team. In an exhibition game against the New York Yankees, she strikes out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
1932   Charles Lindbergh pays over $50,000 ransom for his kidnapped son.
1944   Soviet forces enter Romania, one of Germany's allied countries.
1958   The National Advisory Council on Aeronautics is renamed NASA.
1963   Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King begins the first non-violent campaign in Birmingham, Alabama.
1982   Argentina invades the British-owned Falkland Islands.

Non Sequitur


Who knew we had so many low-lifes in America?

What a bunch of big, brave, would-be men- showing up at a rally of women and children with guns to intimidate them. Probably had a hard time breaking away from beating their wives at home to get to this rally. Good guys with guns?

Did you know ...

That 57% of U.S. workers have less than $25,000 in retirement savings

That a preservation group buys herd of wild horses at BLM auction to save them from becoming pet food

That a 5-year-old girl discovers new species of dinosaur, names it after herself

Colorado prosecutors seek death penalty for theater gunman

Accused Aurora theater gunman James Holmes listens during his arraignment in Centennial, Colorado March 12, 2013. REUTERS/R.J. Sangosti/Pool
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against accused theater gunman James Holmes in the slaying of 12 moviegoers during a showing of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" last year, they said in court on Monday.
Holmes, 25, is accused of opening fire inside a suburban Denver theater during a July screening of the movie, in what was one of the deadliest outbursts of gun violence in the United States in recent years.
Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder for the shooting massacre that also wounded 58 moviegoers. Another dozen people suffered non-gunshot injuries as they fled the Aurora, Colorado, cinema.

Supreme Court declines to hear controversial professor's appeal

People walk in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst 
By Lawrence Hurley 

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by a former university professor who was fired in the aftermath of controversial statements he made about the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
The University of Colorado at Boulder fired Ward Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies, in 2007 following an investigation that found deficiencies and flaws in his academic work.
The investigation was prompted by comments Churchill made two years earlier in an online essay about the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon by al Qaeda militants piloting hijacked airliners.
Among other things, Churchill compared the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann, a notorious Nazi convicted of war crimes and executed in 1962.
Churchill sued the university, saying he was fired in retaliation for his comments, which provoked widespread public outrage, and that his First Amendment free speech rights were violated.
State courts ruled in favor of the university, saying in part that the investigation and subsequent determinations made by the university were a "quasi-judicial action" that was equivalent to a judicial process, meaning that Churchill could not sue.
The case is Churchill v. University of Colorado, U.S. Supreme Court, 12-719.

Religio-nut christians Lose It and Threaten President Obama, the repugican cabal, and the Supreme Court

Hate Christian value
Militarism is the belief that a group should maintain strong military capabilities and be prepared to use them aggressively to promote their interests, and it may imply the justification of conflict to administer a group’s policy on its enemies. Over the course of the past few years, wingnuts have threatened various levels of conflict to impose their particular agenda on the government and American people whether it was opposition to healthcare reform when teabaggers attended protests claiming “we came unarmed this time,” or threats of race, civil, or revolutionary war over gun safety laws and the election of an African American president. Whatever various conservative groups’ causes, their reason for threatening conflict is always their opposition to the government’s right to enact laws within the tenets of the U.S. Constitution. During the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop 8 that banned same-sex marriage, religio-nut christians became the latest group to use combative language to express their outrage at the prospect the Constitution forbids them from imposing their religious morality on the entire nation.
A little reported exchange during arguments in favor of perpetuating inequality in America was Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s reading a line from the House Report justifying DOMA’s passage in 1996 that defined the law’s entire legal underpinning. It said, “Congress decided to reflect and honor a moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.” That one line is all the reason the High Court needs to strike down the law on two counts; it is rank, government-sanctioned discrimination, and it is straight out of the christian bible making it a direct violation of the 1st Amendment’s prohibition on establishment of a state religion. Relio-nut christians, meanwhile, fearing the prospect the Court may strike down the law, immediately took up a militaristic posture leading one influential conservative Iowa talk radio host to say, “It’s going to raise the issue to Orange Threat Level, it’ll be DEFCON 6,” and his warning was repeated across the country.
In Texas, about 250 opponents of same-sex marriage assembled at the Capitol to hear the state’s repugican leadership promise that Texas will remain a bastion of “freedom, family and faith,” and that “the hope of America is Texas” according to state Sen. Ken Paxton. The state’s lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, kept up the battle-field rhetoric and inflamed rally-goers claiming that wingnut values were under steady assault from President Barack Obama and his administration,  and that “Over our dead bodies are we going to let this state turn blue.” Another Texas repugican, state Senator Donna Campbell said “Our core values are being attacked on a daily basis … by government fiat in our courts and in our schools. They want to redefine the Constitution and it’s just not going to stand with me” and promised that christian immoralities would be defended here “because there is no other Texas to move to.” Steve Deace, who warned the threat level was elevating to DEFCON6 said “these people have invested decades in this fight and they are not going to throw up their hands, they’re going to double down, it’s going to be even nastier.”
The 'freedom, faith, and values crowd', religio-nut christians, did not limit their threats to President Obama and the Supreme Court, and set their sights squarely on the repugican cabal. An anti-gay agitator, Gary Bauer, threatened repugicans and promised mass defections if they dared stand on the side of Constitutional equality, and promised to “leave the party and take as many people with me as I possibly can.” Bauer’s speech was for a “March for Marriage” event organized by the National Organization for (AGAINST) Marriage (NOM) at the National Mall, and he told the American Values crowd “shame on the politicians and the judges that are trying to undermine the institution of marriage,” and then dismissed reports of increasing support for marriage equality by claiming “the polls are skewed.” Poll results aside, the simple fact is that no-one is undermining the institution of marriage, redefining the Constitution, or attacking christian immoralities, but that was never the point. The point is many religio-nut christians are up in arms at the prospect of losing their government-sanctioned ability to force their religion’s “immoral disapproval of homosexuality” on the nation and they are fully prepared to “double down” and “get even nastier.”
An evangelical anti-gay agitator, Ralph Reed, leader of the Faith and Freedom Coalition predicted a protracted battle and said “If the court were to go to the most extreme case and strike down laws defining marriage, it will undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and spark a movement that will spend decades trying to reverse the decision.” However, the mood among hardline bigots in the religio-nut christian movement is at a heightened level of an existential threat and it is unlikely the people threatening to get nastier and defend their bastion of freedom, faith, and family values are going to stand by and lose their legal right to impose the bible’s immorality on all Americans for very long. It is not necessarily that religio-nut christians are going militaristic over marriage equality in the near future, but they are the same crowd that threatened civil war over gun safety proposals, election monitoring, President Obama’s re-election, implementation of the ACA, and various issues they deemed worthy of nullification and 2nd Amendment remedies. It is not even a stretch to imagine that a Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA and Prop 8 will be the final straw because it involves religion, and history is replete with violence precipitated by the belief that someone’s religion is under assault, and to millions of religio-nut christians, marriage equality is an attack on their faith, freedom, and families.
If religio-nut christians agree with Congress in 1996 that they “reflect and honor a immoral judgment and express immmoral disapproval of homosexuality,” they have that right according to their faith and bigoted family values. They also have the right to stay in traditional marriages if that is their wont and no-one will force them to change their innate heterosexual tendencies, divorce their opposite-sex spouses, and find a same-sex partner to marry. However, they or their repugican facilitators, do not have the right to force their faith and values on any American whether they are same-sex couples or women seeking contraception, and the Supreme Court is duty-bound to strike down DOMA on the grounds it is government-sanctioned discrimination and state-established religion. One just hopes that after four years of threats of violence against the government with an African American man as President for all manner of imagined slights, religio-nut christians restrain themselves from getting nastier and taking extreme measures to assert their will on Americans who do not adhere, or approve, of making moral judgments based on religio-nut christian’s disapproval of homosexuality.

An honest repugican, who knew?

Scott Walker’s wingnut austerity is destroying Wisconsin

The Koch Brother’s favorite governor, repugican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is struggling to show positive results on the local economy as neighboring states, and the rest of the country, pass Wisconsin by.  Since implementing Walker’s right-wing austerity-embracing economic agenda, Wisconsin has dropped in the state rankings for jobs creation from an already-bad 42nd to now 44th place.The bright side of Walker’s reign has been a forecasted budget surplus for the state economy, though this means little to the unemployed. In January of this year, unemployment spiked in Wisconsin, while nationwide it’s going down.  The best that could be said about February was that things didn’t get any worse.  A few more years of Scott Walker’s Paul-Ryan-style austerity and Wisconsin’s going to start looking like Spain and the UK and Portugal and every other country that mistakenly thought right-wing austerity would bring recovery.
Why do repugicans keep insisting on imposing failed European solutions on America?  Sounds like socialism to me.
Wisc. GOP Gov. Scott Walker tells all in real phone call with blogger posing as billionaire David Koch
Curiously enough what is keeping Walker’s state unemployment numbers from looking much worse is the addition of government workers. Somehow Walker and his supporters are quiet about that point.
Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin doesn’t have a budget problem, it has a jobs problem. The US economy is rebounding (slowly, in part due to the stimulus that was too small), as are the neighboring Midwestern states but not Wisconsin.
A local Wisconsin newspaper editor weighs in:
The most unsettling prospect with Gov. Scott Walker is the notion that he might actually believe what he is saying about the budget he is proposing for Wisconsin.
When Walker assumed the governorship two years ago, Wisconsin was holding its own economically. Job growth was competitive with neighboring states and the nation.
No more. Since Walker began implementing his austerity agenda, growth has stalled.
Just as president Obama is responsible for the national economy, Walker owns the state economy of Wisconsin. For all of his talk about creating private industry jobs, Walker and the state repugican cabal have failed as miserably as the national repugican cabal, and all of their far-right buddies in Europe. The repugican cabal's austerity is a recipe for disaster – a fact that Wisconsin had to find out the hard way.

The truth be told

Cartels dispatch agents deep inside US

Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world's most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels' move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
Cartel activity in the U.S. is certainly not new. Starting in the 1990s, the ruthless syndicates became the nation's No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, using unaffiliated middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin beyond the border or even to grow pot here.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
"It's probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime," said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago office.
The cartel threat looms so large that one of Mexico's most notorious drug kingpins — a man who has never set foot in Chicago — was recently named the city's Public Enemy No. 1, the same notorious label once assigned to Al Capone.
The Chicago Crime Commission, a non-government agency that tracks crime trends in the region, said it considers Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman even more menacing than Capone because Guzman leads the deadly Sinaloa cartel, which supplies most of the narcotics sold in Chicago and in many cities across the U.S.
Years ago, Mexico faced the same problem — of then-nascent cartels expanding their power — "and didn't nip the problem in the bud," said Jack Killorin, head of an anti-trafficking program in Atlanta for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "And see where they are now."
Riley sounds a similar alarm: "People think, 'The border's 1,700 miles away. This isn't our problem.' Well, it is. These days, we operate as if Chicago is on the border."
Border states from Texas to California have long grappled with a cartel presence. But cases involving cartel members have now emerged in the suburbs of Chicago and Atlanta, as well as Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Ky., and rural North Carolina. Suspects have also surfaced in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Mexican drug cartels "are taking over our neighborhoods," Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane warned a legislative committee in February. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan disputed her claim, saying cartels are primarily drug suppliers, not the ones trafficking drugs on the ground.
For years, cartels were more inclined to make deals in Mexico with American traffickers, who would then handle transportation to and distribution within major cities, said Art Bilek, a former organized crime investigator who is now executive vice president of the crime commission.
As their organizations grew more sophisticated, the cartels began scheming to keep more profits for themselves. So leaders sought to cut out middlemen and assume more direct control, pushing aside American traffickers, he said.
Beginning two or three years ago, authorities noticed that cartels were putting "deputies on the ground here," Bilek said. "Chicago became such a massive market ... it was critical that they had firm control."
To help fight the syndicates, Chicago recently opened a first-of-its-kind facility at a secret location where 70 federal agents work side-by-side with police and prosecutors. Their primary focus is the point of contact between suburban-based cartel operatives and city street gangs who act as retail salesmen. That is when both sides are most vulnerable to detection, when they are most likely to meet in the open or use cellphones that can be wiretapped.
Others are skeptical about claims cartels are expanding their presence, saying law-enforcement agencies are prone to exaggerating threats to justify bigger budgets.
David Shirk, of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, said there is a dearth of reliable intelligence that cartels are dispatching operatives from Mexico on a large scale.
"We know astonishingly little about the structure and dynamics of cartels north of the border," Shirk said. "We need to be very cautious about the assumptions we make."
Statistics from the DEA suggest a heightened cartel presence in more U.S. cities. In 2008, around 230 American communities reported some level of cartel presence. That number climbed to more than 1,200 in 2011, the most recent year for which information is available, though the increase is partly due to better reporting.
Dozens of federal agents and local police interviewed by the AP said they have identified cartel members or operatives using wiretapped conversations, informants or confessions. Hundreds of court documents reviewed by the AP appear to support those statements.
"This is the first time we've been seeing it — cartels who have their operatives actually sent here," said Richard Pearson, a lieutenant with the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, which arrested four alleged operatives of the Zetas cartel in November in the suburb of Okolona.
People who live on the tree-lined street where authorities seized more than 2,400 pounds of marijuana and more than $1 million in cash were shocked to learn their low-key neighbors were accused of working for one of Mexico's most violent drug syndicates, Pearson said.
One of the best documented cases is Jose Gonzalez-Zavala, who was dispatched to the U.S. by the La Familia cartel, according to court filings.
In 2008, the former taxi driver and father of five moved into a spacious home at 1416 Brookfield Drive in a middle-class neighborhood of Joliet, southwest of Chicago. From there, court papers indicate, he oversaw wholesale shipments of cocaine in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Wiretap transcripts reveal he called an unidentified cartel boss in Mexico almost every day, displaying the deference any midlevel executive might show to someone higher up the corporate ladder. Once he stammered as he explained that one customer would not pay a debt until after a trip.
"No," snaps the boss. "What we need is for him to pay."
The same cartel assigned Jorge Guadalupe Ayala-German to guard a Chicago-area stash house for $300 a week, plus a promised $35,000 lump-sum payment once he returned to Mexico after a year or two, according to court documents.
Ayala-German brought his wife and child to help give the house the appearance of an ordinary family residence. But he was arrested before he could return home and pleaded guilty to multiple trafficking charges. He will be sentenced later this year.
Socorro Hernandez-Rodriguez was convicted in 2011 of heading a massive drug operation in suburban Atlanta's Gwinnett County. The chief prosecutor said he and his associates were high-ranking figures in the La Familia cartel — an allegation defense lawyers denied.
And at the end of February outside Columbus, Ohio, authorities arrested 34-year-old Isaac Eli Perez Neri, who allegedly told investigators he was a debt collector for the Sinaloa cartel.
An Atlanta attorney who has represented reputed cartel members says authorities sometimes overstate the threat such men pose.
"Often, you have a kid whose first time leaving Mexico is sleeping on a mattress at a stash house playing Game Boy, eating Burger King, just checking drugs or money in and out," said Bruce Harvey. "Then he's arrested and gets a gargantuan sentence. It's sad."
Because cartels accumulate houses full of cash, they run the constant risk associates will skim off the top. That points to the main reason cartels prefer their own people: Trust is hard to come by in their cutthroat world. There's also a fear factor. Cartels can exert more control on their operatives than on middlemen, often by threatening to torture or kill loved ones back home.
Danny Porter, chief prosecutor in Gwinnett County, Ga., said he has tried to entice dozens of suspected cartel members to cooperate with American authorities. Nearly all declined. Some laughed in his face.
"They say, 'We are more scared of them (the cartels) than we are of you. We talk and they'll boil our family in acid,'" Porter said. "Their families are essentially hostages."
Citing the safety of his own family, Gonzalez-Zavala declined to cooperate with authorities in exchange for years being shaved off his 40-year sentence.
In other cases, cartel brass send their own family members to the U.S.
"They're sometimes married or related to people in the cartels," Porter said. "They don't hire casual labor." So meticulous have cartels become that some even have operatives fill out job applications before being dispatched to the U.S., Riley added.
In Mexico, the cartels are known for a staggering number of killings — more than 50,000, according to one tally. Beheadings are sometimes a signature.
So far, cartels don't appear to be directly responsible for large numbers of slayings in the United States, though the Texas Department of Public Safety reported 22 killings and five kidnappings in Texas at the hands of Mexican cartels from 2010 through mid- 2011.
Still, police worry that increased cartel activity could fuel heightened violence.
In Chicago, the police commander who oversees narcotics investigations, James O'Grady, said street-gang disputes over turf account for most of the city's uptick in murders last year, when slayings topped 500 for the first time since 2008. Although the cartels aren't dictating the territorial wars, they are the source of drugs.
Riley's assessment is stark: He argues that the cartels should be seen as an underlying cause of Chicago's disturbingly high murder rate.
"They are the puppeteers," he said. "Maybe the shooter didn't know and maybe the victim didn't know that. But if you follow it down the line, the cartels are ultimately responsible."

Drug maker Novartis loses patent battle

Novartis had argued that it needed a patent to protect its investment in the cancer drug Glivec, while activists said the drug did not merit intellectual property protection in India because it was not a new medicine. In response to the ruling, Novartis said it would not invest in drug research in India.
The court's decision has global significance since India's $26 billion generic drug industry, which supplies much of the cheap medicine used in the developing world, could be stunted if Indian law allowed global drug companies to extend the lifespan of patents by making minor changes to medicines.
Once a drug's patent expires, generic manufacturers can legally produce it. They are able to make drugs at a fraction of the original manufacturer's cost because they don't carry out the expensive research and development.
Pratibha Singh, a lawyer for the Indian generic drug manufacturer Cipla, which makes a version of Glivec for less than a tenth of the original drug's selling price, said the court ruled that a patent could only be given to a new drug, and not to those which are only slightly different from the original.
"Patents will be given only for genuine inventions, and repetitive patents will not be given for minor tweaks to an existing drug," Singh told reporters outside the court.
Novartis called the ruling a "setback for patients," and said patent protection is crucial to fostering investment in research to develop new and better drugs.
Ranjit Shahani, the vice chairman and managing director of Novartis India, said the ruling "will hinder medical progress for diseases without effective treatment options."
He said the court's decision made India an even less attractive country for major investments by international pharmaceutical companies.
"Novartis will not invest in drug research in India. Not only Novartis, I don't think any global company is planning to research in India," he said.
The Swiss pharmaceutical giant has fought a legal battle in India since 2006 to patent a new version of Glivec, which is mainly used to treat leukemia and is known as Gleevec outside India and Europe. The earlier version of Glivec did not have an Indian patent because its development far predated the country's 2005 patent law. Novartis said Glivec is patented in nearly 40 other countries.
India's patent office rejected the company's patent application, arguing the drug was not a new medicine but an amended version of its earlier product. The patent authority cited a provision in the 2005 patent law aimed at preventing companies from getting fresh patents for making only minor changes to existing medicines — a practice known as "evergreening."
Novartis appealed, arguing the drug was a more easily absorbed version of Glivec and that it qualified for a patent.
Anand Grover, a lawyer for the Cancer Patients Aid Association, which led the legal fight against Novartis, said the ruling Monday prevented the watering down of India's patent laws.
"This is a very good day for cancer patients. It's the news we have been waiting for for seven long years," he said.
Aid groups, including Medicins Sans Frontieres, have opposed Novartis' case, fearing that a victory for the Swiss drugmaker would limit access to important medicines for millions of poor people around the world.
Glivec, used in treating chronic myeloid leukemia and some other cancers, costs about $2,600 a month. Its generic version was available in India for around $175 per month.
"The difference in price was huge. The generic version makes it affordable to so many more poor people, not just in India, but across the world," said Y.K. Sapru, of the Mumbai-based cancer patients association.
"For cancer sufferers, this ruling will mean the difference between life and death. Because the price at which it was available, and considering it's the only lifesaving drug for chronic myeloid cancer patients, this decision will make a huge difference," Sapru said.
Leena Menghaney of Medicins Sans Frontieres said India would continue to grant patents on new medicines.
"This doesn't mean that no patents will be granted. Patents will continue to be granted by India, but definitely the abusive practice of getting many patents on one drug will be stopped," Menghaney said.
The judgment would ensure that the prices of lifesaving drugs would come down as many more companies would produce generic versions.
"We've seen this happening with HIV medicines, where the cost of HIV treatment has come down from $10,000 to $150 per year. Cancer treatment costs have come down by 97 percent in the case of many cancer drugs," she said.
"This decision is incredibly important. The Supreme Court decision will save a lot of lives in the coming decades," Menghaney said.

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The Postmortem Portraits of Phineas Gage

Phineas Gage is the famous name behind a horrifying incident in which Gage survived a large tamping iron that impaled him through the skull. Mind Hacks looks at the evolving artwork that explains his injury. Although the incident occurred in 1848, Gage lived until 1860.
The first such picture was constructed with nothing more than pen and ink. Gage’s doctor John Harlow sketched his skull which Harlow had acquired after the patient’s death.

This Gage is forever fleshless, the iron stuck mid-flight, the shattered skull frozen as it fragments.

Harlow’s sketch is the original and the originator. The first impression of Gage’s immortal soul.

Gage rested as this rough sketch for over 100 years but he would rise again.
Since then, scientists have constructed more and more bizarre images to illustrate the devastation to Gage's brain. See them, with explanations, in a post at Mind Hacks.

Random Celebrity Photo


Scarlett Johansson

Chainsaw-wielding man caught stealing tusk from museum elephant

Visitors to Paris's popular Museum of Natural History this weekend found a key exhibit under wraps after a man broke in and chainsawed a tusk from an elephant which once belonged to the Sun King, Louis XIV. Police were called to the museum in the early hours of Saturday morning where they found a chainsaw still whirring after a man in his 20s escaped over a wall with a tusk over his shoulder.

A police official said a neighbor of the museum on Paris's Left Bank alerted authorities after hearing a strange sawing sound at around 3am. The museum alarm system was activated and startled the intruder into fleeing just minutes after beginning his chainsaw attack. He was treated in hospital for a fractured ankle from a fall while escaping and was being questioned by investigators.

The African elephant, whose left tusk was sawn off, was a gift from a Portuguese king to Louis XIV in 1668. It lived for 13 years in the royal menagerie in the grounds of the opulent palace of Versailles where it became the star attraction. When it died, its skeleton was transferred to the natural history collection in Paris, one of the biggest in the world alongside London's Natural History Museum.

The museum opened as normal over the weekend but with the damaged elephant skeleton draped in plastic wrapping behind a notice that it was being restored. Jacques Cuisin, head of restoration at the museum, said the 3kg tusk did not have a great monetary worth, but it had major historical and scientific value and would be repaired. The tusk was not an original but had been added to the skeleton in the 19th century.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

India's Dazzling Shrine Saturated With Statues

The city of Madurai in the South Eastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and has been a functioning metropolis for over two thousand years. At its heart lies something extraordinary - a temple to the Hindu Goddess Parvati and her husband consort, Shiva.

The vast temple complex is guarded by ten gateway towers, known as gopuram. The tallest of the ten is the south tower which was built in 1559 and stands over 170 feet tall. The most antique is the eastern tower which dates back to 1216 built several centuries before Columbus sailed away to discover a faraway land.

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Untouched White Sea Shore

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Melt 'causes Antarctic sea ice rise'

Melt 'causes Antarctic sea ice rise'Antarctic sea ice

A paradoxical phenomenon involving more melt water may explain the recent expansion of Antarctic sea ice, scientists tell Nature Geoscience journal.

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New research predicts that rising temperatures will lead to a massive “greening,” or increase in plant cover, in the Arctic. In a paper published on March 31 in Nature Climate Change, scientists reveal new models [...]

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Scale insects are 13 times more abundant on oaks in hotter parts of a city.
The so-called last universal common ancestor (or LUCA), may be just a fantasy if life emerged from a collective state.
A huge swath of pristine rainforest will likely go to oil companies.

Congestion in the Earth’s mantle

The Earth is dynamic. What we perceive as solid ground beneath our feet, is in reality constantly changing. In the space of a year Africa and America are drifting apart at the back of the [...]

Daily Comic Relief


Mars Sky Show Has Scientists Excited And Worried

Scientists are both excited and worried about Mars' close comet encounter next year.

Time changes a fossil bird’s colors

Geological processes can affect evidence of the original colors of fossil feathers, according to new research by Yale University scientists, who said some previous reconstructions of fossil bird and dinosaur feather colors may now merit [...]

Animal Pictures


Fear by Paul Sangeorzan