Welcome to ...

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.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Daily Drift

At home

Carolina Naturally is read in 191 countries around the world daily.

You know you want to!  ...

Today is Walk On Your Wild Side Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1204   The Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople.
1606   England adopts the Union Jack as its flag.
1770   Parliament repeals the Townsend Acts.
1782   The British navy wins its only naval engagement against the colonists in the American Revolution at the Battle of Saints, off Dominica.
1811   The first colonists arrive at Cape Disappointment, Washington.
1861   Fort Sumter is shelled by Confederacy, starting America's Civil War.
1864   Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest captures Fort Pillow, in Tennessee.
1877   The first catcher's mask is used in a baseball game.
1911   Pierre Prier completes the first non-stop London-Paris flight in three hours and 56 minutes.
1916   American cavalrymen and Mexican bandit troops clash at Parrel, Mexico.
1927   The British Cabinet comes out in favor of voting rights for women.
1944   The U.S. Twentieth Air Force is activated to begin the strategic bombing of Japan.
1945   President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies at Warm Spring, Georgia. Harry S. Truman becomes president.
1954   Bill Haley records "Rock Around the Clock."
1955   Dr. Jonas Salk's discovery of a polio vaccine is announced.
1961   Soviet Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin becomes first man to orbit the Earth.
1963   Police use dogs and cattle prods on peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama.
1966   Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American major league umpire.
1983   Harold Washington is elected the first black mayor of Chicago.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That if America is so great why do we have 100,000 homeless vets?

That one species doing well with global warming: Adelie penguins

Here's proof that white repugicans dominate Sunday talk shows in charts

They saved Hitler's toilet

Your email and text messages aren’t safe

Internal Revenue Service guidelines state that they can access your email, direct message tweets, and even your Facebook chats and cell phone text messages without a search warrant, according to the results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request initiated by the ACLU.As the ACLU notes, sadly the federal law governing all of this is “hopefully outdated.”  ”It draws a distinction between email that is stored on an email provider’s server for 180 days or less, and email that is older or has been opened,” writes Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney at the ACLU. “The former requires a warrant; the latter does not.”
In other words, the law still treats email as some newfangled gimmick that real people don’t use for serious things.  So if you have an email saved that’s over 180 days old – who would do that? – clearly you intended for the entire world to read it, because no one in the right mind would have email that old.  Right?

Yes, your grandfather wrote the law governing email in 1986

I just got off the phone with the ACLU’s Wessler, and the law governing email, and other electronic communications, was pretty much written in 1986, and not changed much since then.
A new-fangled "cell phone" advertised in 1986.
A new-fangled “cell phone” advertised in 1986, modeled by Duran Duran’s sister. 

Who even had email in 1986?  Or text messaging on their cell phones – or cell phones? Want to see what a cell phone looked like in 1986 (and actually this was rather avant-garde for 1986) – see the photo to the right.  We also didn’t really have online chat on AOL or Facebook or direct messages on Twitter in 1986 either.  But the law covered them, without even knowing what they were.
It’s understandable why the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act thinks that emails, text messages, and online chats older than 180 days should be accessible without a warrant – back then, no one had any of these (text messaging and chatting didn’t even exist), and second, if you did, you downloaded it right away and it didn’t stay on the servers.  Anything on the servers for older than 180 days was likely abandoned property.
When the ACLU asked the IRS if it’s opening people’s emails without a warrant, the agency got awfully vague in response.
The ACLU was not amused. “So does the IRS always get a warrant?,” Wesller asks. “Unfortunately, while the documents we have obtained do not answer this question point blank, they suggest otherwise. This question is too important for the IRS not to be completely forthright with the American public. The IRS should tell the public whether it always gets a warrant to access email and other private communications in the course of criminal investigations. And if the agency does not get a warrant, it should change its policy to always require one.”

How the government compels companies to turn over your emails, text messages, chats without a warrant

So how does the IRS, and the federal government, go about getting your old emails, text messages, and online chats without a warrant?  A few ways.  Let’s compare:
1. Warrant.  If they get a warrant, they need to be able to prove “probable cause.”  That’s not so easy, so instead they use…
2. A magistrate, which is kind of a government judge, who only requires that the requested emails be “relevant and material” to an investigation, rather than their being probably cause that you actually committed a crime.   Another option is…
3. An administrative subpoena or summons, where they don’t even need to go to a government judge – they just issue the summons to your Internet provider or phone company, demanding the information, and only if the company balks do they go to a court to enforce the summons.  And the standard for issuing the summons?  Simple “relevance” to the investigation.
Now you know why government agencies prefer not to get a warrant.

You wouldn’t necessarily know if the government read your email and texts

How would you know if the government did this to you?  Well, you wouldn’t necessarily.  If the government uses a warrant, they don’t have to tell you.  If they don’t use a warrant, they are required to tell you, but can delay it 90s days in the interest of the investigation (i.e., they don’t want to tip you off).  But then, at the end of the 9o days they can delay notification for another 90 days, and so on, and so on, and so on.  So you may never find out.
Google recently told the Feds to stick it.  The email giant told the government they wouldn’t release email or cloud information with a probably-cause court order.
It’s a long document from the ACLU, and worth a read if you’re into the nitty gritty, but their bottom-line conclusion is that the IRA has not changed its position, that it can access your emails that are older than 180 days, without a warrant.
Finally, to the present: has the IRS’s position changed this tax season? Apparently not. The current version of the Internal Revenue Manual, available on the IRS website, continues to explain that no warrant is required for emails that are stored by an ISP for more than 180 days. Apparently the agency believes nothing of consequence has changed since ECPA was enacted in 1986, or the now-outdated Surveillance Handbook was published in 1994.

Bitcoin Bubble Bursts

Hacker currency gets wild ride In this April 3, 2013 photo, Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer, holds a 25 Bitcoin token at his shop in Sandy, Utah. Caldwell mints physical versions of bitcoins, cranking out homemade tokens with codes protected by tamper-proof holographic seals, a retro-futuristic kind of prepaid cash. With up to 70,000 transactions each day over the past month, bitcoins have been propelled from the world of Internet oddities to the cusp of mainstream use, a remarkable breakthrough for a currency which made its online debut only four years ago. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)  
It's a promising form of electronic cash free from central bankers and beloved by hackers. It — Bitcoin — may also be in trouble, registering catastrophic losses that have sent speculators scrambling. Although the cybercurrency has existed for years as a kind of Internet oddity, a perfect storm of developments have brought it to the cusp of mainstream use.
As currency crises in Europe piqued investors' interest, a growing number of businesses announced they were accepting bitcoins for an ever-wider range of goods and services. The value of a single bitcoin began racing upward amid growing media attention, smashing past the $100 mark last week before more than doubling again in just a few days.
Then came the crash.
The price of Bitcoin has imploded, falling from around $266 on Wednesday to just above $40 on Thursday, according to bitcoincharts.com, which tracks trades across the Internet. The best-known exchange, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, has suspended trading for what it described as a 12-hour "market cooldown." By late Thursday, the currency was back up to just more than $100.
Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist for the ConvergEx Group, said it was a "great question" whether the currency could survive the wrenching ups and downs.
"At this point I would say yes, since it has before," Colas wrote in an email. But he noted that, unlike previous oscillations, Thursday's collapse was taking place in the full glare of international media attention.
"A lot more people know about Bitcoin than during the prior problems," he said.
To its supporters — tech-savvy libertarians, currency geeks, and online speculators — Bitcoin has enormous promise.
Bitcoins are created, distributed, and authenticated independently of any bank or government. The currency's cryptographic features make it virtually immune from counterfeiting, and its relative anonymity holds out the promise of being able to spend money across the Internet without fear of censors, regulators or nosey officials.
The linchpin of the system is a network of "miners" — high-end computer users who supply the Bitcoin network with the processing power needed to maintain a transparent, running tally of all transactions. The tally is one of the most important ways in which the system prevents fraud, and the miners are rewarded for supporting the system with an occasional helping of brand-new bitcoins.
Cryptographers argue over whether bitcoin is well-designed, but the true test of any currency is whether it can be used to buy anything.
Increasingly, Bitcoin is passing the test. From hard drugs to hard currency, songs to survival gear, cars to consumer goods, many retailers have welcomed the money, whose unofficial symbol is a dollar-like, double-barred B.
Atlanta-based BitPay handles Bitcoin transactions for more than 4,500 companies, taking payments in bitcoins and forwarding the cash equivalent to the vendor involved, which means that its clients are insulated from the cybercurrency's volatility.
BitPay Chief Executive Anthony Gallippi said many of the businesses he served were e-commerce websites, but he said an increasing number of traditional retailers were looking to get into the game as well.
"We just had an auto dealership in Kansas City apply," he said.
Artists are into bitcoins too. Tehran-based music producer Mohammad Rafigh said the currency allows him to sell his albums "all over the world and not only in Iran."
There's long been a black market use for bitcoins as well.
Argentine software developer Patricio Fink described how he recently swapped bitcoins for a wad of American currency with a couple of Australian tourists at a Starbucks in Buenos Aires. The visitors wanted spending money at black market rates without the risk of getting roughed up in one of the Argentine capital's black market exchanges. Fink wanted more bitcoins to insulate his savings from Argentina's high inflation.
"It's something that is new," said Fink, 24, who described the deal to The Associated Press over Skype. "And it's working."
One of the most prominent destinations for bitcoins remains Silk Road, a black market website where drug dealers advertise their wares in a consumer-friendly atmosphere redolent of Amazon or eBay — complete with a shopping cart icon, a five-point rating system and voluminous user reviews. The site uses Tor, an online anonymity network, to mask the location of its servers, while bitcoin payments ensure there's no paper trail.
One British usersaid he first got interested in Silk Road while he was working in China, where he used the site to order banned books. After moving to Japan, he turned to the site for an occasional high.
Drug dealers aren't the only ones cashing in on Bitcoin. The hackers behind Lulz Security, whose campaign of online havoc drew worldwide attention back in 2011, received thousands of dollars' worth of bitcoins after promising followers that the money would go toward launching attacks against the FBI.
A report apparently drawn up by the bureau and leaked to the Internet last year said that "since Bitcoin does not have a centralized authority, detecting suspicious activity, identifying users and obtaining transaction records is problematic for law enforcement."
It went on to warn that bitcoins might become "an increasingly useful tool for various illegal activities beyond the cyber realm"— including child pornography, trafficking and terrorism.
That is, if the currency survives.
Bitcoin's dramatic collapse — from peak to trough, the currency shed more than 80 percent of its value — has left many enthusiasts anxious and many skeptics saying "I told you so."
"Trading tulips in real time," is how longtime UBS stockbroker Art Cashin described Bitcoin's vertiginous rise, comparing it to the now-unfathomable craze that saw 17th-century Dutch speculators trade spectacular sums of money for a single flower bulb.
"It is rare that we get to see a bubble-like phenomenon trade tick for tick in real time," he said in a recent note to clients.
One Bitcoin supporter with a unique perspective on the boom-turned-to-bust might be Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer based in suburban Utah. Caldwell mints physical versions of bitcoins at his residence, cranking out thousands of homemade tokens with codes protected by tamper-proof holographic seals — a retro-futuristic kind of prepaid cash.
His coins are stamped with the words "Vires in Numeris" — Latin for "Strength in Numbers."
Some may wonder whether Caldwell's coins will one day be among the few physical reminders of an expensive fad that evaporated into the ether.
When asked, Caldwell acknowledged that bitcoin might be in for a bumpy ride.
"The way I look at it is that there will be bugs and there will be minor issues from time to time," he said. But barring a complete unraveling of the currency's electronic architecture, he predicted that it would continue to grow.
"Bitcoins will either be worth nothing or worth a whole lot more than its current value," he said.
For Colas, the market strategist, the most important thing to keep in mind was that bitcoins suffer from the same weakness as any other form of money. If people increasingly believe they're not worth anything, then they're not worth anything — no matter how clever the currency's design.
"The future of bitcoin is, like all currencies, going to come down to trust," he said.

Wall Street gains for fourth day, but weak tech hurts Nasdaq

The ticker symbol for JC Penney is displayed at the booth trading the stock on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 11, 2013. REUTERS-Brendan McDermid 
Stocks rose for a fourth straight day on Thursday, sending the Dow and the S&P 500 to new closing highs as positive data on the labor market and an encouraging retail outlook eased recent concerns about economic growth.
Despite the S&P 500's gain of 11.7 percent this year, investors have fretted about the pace of recovery, especially after last week's dramatically weak March payrolls report.
Jobless claims fell far more than expected in the latest week, dropping to the lower end of the range for the year. In another sign that the economy might be in better shape than some recent data had indicated, retail executives and analysts forecast improved same-store sales in April after mixed results in March.
Several of the S&P 500's top percentage gainers were retailers, with discount chain Ross Stores (ROST.O) up 5.9 percent at $63.80, Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc (LTD.N) up 4.3 percent at $50.25, and J.C. Penney Co (JCP.N) up 5.5 percent at $14.86. The SPDR S&P retail ETF (XRT.P) jumped 2 percent to end at a new closing high of $72.98. The S&P 500 retail index .SPXRT hit a 52-week high at 751.72 and then eased a bit to end up 1.2 percent at 747.34.
"This data is especially welcome on the heels of last week's jobs report, and it just adds to the tremendous demand that there continues to be for equities," said Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York. "The money that has been waiting for a pullback is running out of patience."
Still, the Nasdaq's gains were limited as technology stocks sold off on an industry report showing shipments of personal computers had fallen significantly in the first quarter. The S&P information technology sector index .SPLRCT slipped 0.5 percent.
Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) slid 6.5 percent to $20.88 as the S&P 500's top percentage loser, followed by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), down 4.5 percent at $28.94. Microsoft was also hit after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to "sell" from "neutral," citing "worsening PC trends and a lack of traction in tablets and smartphones."
Both HP and Microsoft are Dow components, but the index saw plenty of strength from other members. Three of the blue-chip average's five biggest gainers - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Boeing Co (BA.N) and Home Depot Inc (HD.N) - all hit new 52-week highs.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 62.90 points, or 0.42 percent, to close at 14,865.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX rose 5.64 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,593.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC edged up 2.90 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 3,300.16.
All three indexes finished higher for the fourth straight day. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new all-time intraday highs in midday trading before ending at new closing highs. The Dow climbed to an intraday record peak at 14,887.51, while the S&P 500 set a record session high at 1,597.35.
"It's amazing to me that we're already a few points away from our mid-year target of 1,600, which had seemed somewhat aggressive," said Grohowski, who oversees about $179 billion in client assets. "But there's still skepticism about the market and tons of cash on the sidelines, which encourages me that the market can continue to pull higher."
The Dow got its biggest boost from Pfizer (PFE.N), up 2.4 percent at $30.64 after JPMorgan raised its target price on the U.S. drugmaker's stock to $33 from $32.
Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc (ACAD.O) surged 64.4 percent to $13.10 after the drugmaker said data from an initial late-stage trial would be sufficient to file for approval for its experimental antipsychotic drug for Parkinson's disease patients. Earlier, Acadia's stock touched a session high at $13.92, its highest since November 2007.
Other economic data showed import prices slipped 0.5 percent last month, in line with expectations, while export prices fell 0.4 percent, signaling inflation pressure remained tepid and would allow the Federal Reserve to continue with its current monetary policy.
About 59 percent of New York Stock Exchange-listed shares closed higher while slightly more Nasdaq-listed shares fell than rose. About 6.17 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average so far this year of about 6.36 billion shares.

Maine repugican governor Rigged Jobless Benefit Hearings for Employers

The repugican “pro-business” (anti-labor) Gov. Paul LePage pressured employees at the Department of Labor to decide unemployment-benefit cases in favor of business owners over workers, sources told the The Sun Journal. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that under LePage,  the success of employees’ appeals went down, as employers’ success went up.
LePage is accused of  the very serious charge of politicizing the process by pressuring employees at a March 21 meeting to which he summoned state employees of the agency last month.
Bangor Daily News reported:
At that gathering, LePage scolded about eight administrative hearing officers and their supervisors, complaining that too many cases on appeal from the Bureau of Unemployment were being decided in favor of employees. He said the officers were doing their jobs poorly, sources said.
Hearing officers had been told by their supervisors about a year and a half ago that they too often rule on appeals in favor of employees after a company owner apparently complained to the LePage administration following an appeals hearing that ended with a ruling in favor of the employee.
As a result, hearing officers were told to report to their supervisors all decisions they found favorable to employees before entering their formal rulings on those cases. That practice lasted only a few months.
The Sun Journal spoke to “nearly” a dozen people who were present at the meeting, and they report that the hearing officers tried to explain to the governor that they’re required to adhere to federal guidelines in deciding cases. Their salaries are federally funded, which makes this charge even more serious.
Howard Reben, with Reben, Benjamin & March, a labor law firm in Portland, told the Sun Journal in a separate article on due process, “‘It’s certainly a breach of due process for (LePage) to even say anything’” to hearing examiners about their determinations. ‘The hearing officers are quasi-judicial people who have to interpret the law and to suggest that the law should be bent in a particular way is outrageous.”
Rick McHugh, senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project in New York, told The Sun Journal that undue political pressure violates the statutory fair hearing process.
The names of the Sun Journal’s sources are being withheld because they “fear retribution by the administration.” They reported feeling that their jobs were at stake, feeling “bullied, harassed and intimidated” by the Governor, who asked them to do things like missing federal deadlines in order to give employers more time to prepare cases against employees.
Wingnuts call this “job creation” because it’s pro-business, but it’s also “unprecedented” interference. A wingnut writing for the Sun Journal in an article from 2011 tried to claim that because unemployment claims were down, Governor LePage’s wingnut approach was working, “Those figures demonstrate that, under the leadership of Gov. LePage,  Maine is experiencing a lower unemployment rate.”
Perhaps those numbers are down because the claimants were being rejected:
Data requested by the Sun Journal from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the number of cases successfully appealed by employees to administrative hearing officers declined slightly from 2011 to 2012. Over that same period, the number of cases successfully appealed by employers rose by a small percentage.
What else is the Governor up to in order to make Maine more “business” friendly? Oh, just mulling the idea of vetoing a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9 by 2016. He has also planning to make his “newly formed Business Advisory Council exempt from the state’s right-to-know laws”. Apparently, “right-to-work” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be by the anti-labor LePage.
LePage might be bringing companies to Maine, but his approach is exceptionally unbalanced and short-sighted. If he has his way, his constituents may not have the money to purchase the goods made by businesses he brings to Maine.
These accusations are serious. They echo the accusations against the shrub junta’s constant politicizing of the process of government. LePage essentially tried to use his political muscle to rig unemployment hearings in favor of employers. It’s one thing to have an ideology, it’s another thing to break rules and laws in order to implement it.

Why We Need to Expand Social Security, Not Cut It

Trays of printed social security checks.

On the very day that a bleak jobs report exposed the feebleness of the recovery, the White House announced that the president will propose cuts in Social Security. This was designed to get repugicans to agree to negotiate a grand bargain on deficit reduction—or prove that they are obstructing a budget deal. House Speaker John Boehner's reaction immediately revealed the folly of Obama's ploy: "If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes."
The exchange has repugicans salivating. Cutting Social Security has now become Obama's choice, not something extorted by the repugican cabal. This could imperil Democrats running for re-election in 2014; those who support Obama's proposal will face the wrath of seniors and a flood of repugican ads accusing them of wanting to cut Social Security. If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have any sense, they will organize their caucuses and pledge to oppose any deal that cuts a dime from this popular New Deal legacy.
The economics of the president's proposal are even worse than the politics. The crisis we face isn't that Social Security benefits are too generous; it is that more and more Americans lack the means for a secure retirement. Only about 15 percent of employees have traditional defined-benefit pensions at their workplace, and 55 percent have no retirement plan at all. Decades of wage stagnation and the corporate rollback of pensions have sapped worker savings.
The Wall Street wilding that produced the Great Recession and the housing collapse savaged what little wealth workers had stored in their homes, as well as their 401(k)s and IRAs. And many families are racked by job losses or medical crises that upend their finances, forcing them to pay penalties to tap into retirement accounts.
Sixty percent of Americans receive at least two-thirds of their retirement income from Social Security, but the meager payments replace only 40 percent of earnings, on average. Most experts argue that retirees need about 70 percent to maintain living standards.
Yes, we need to reform Social Security, but the reform should increase—not cut—this crucial income support that millions rely on. In a sensible proposal released by the New America Foundation, Michael Lind, Steven Hill, Robert Hiltonsmith and Joshua Freedman call for adding a supplement to Social Security that would guarantee all retirees about 60 percent of their average wage in retirement (similar to that of most other developed nations).They would pay for the expanded benefit not by increasing the payroll tax rate, but by raising the payroll tax cap and eliminating top-end tax breaks, particularly those now offered to private retirement plans that disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
The authors argue that under their plan, we would end up spending about the same percentage of GDP on the nation's retirement system, but with a much fairer distribution of support. This would also stabilize the overall economy, since the elderly will spend those extra dollars, giving a boost to aggregate demand.
The greatest power of a president is the power to set the agenda. Barack Obama should be rallying Americans to protect and strengthen our already inadequate Social Security system. Instead, he's pushing for cuts. For most Americans, that's a lousy deal, not a grand bargain.

Slippery Slope Indeed

Mexico City tries to get salt shakers off tables

In this April 9, 2013 photo, a salt shaker sits on a table in a restaurant in Mexico City. The country's Health Secretary Armando Ahued launched a campaign, dubbed “Less Salt, More Health,” to get restaurants to take salt shakers off their tables. Officials and the city’s restaurant chamber signed an agreement to encourage eateries to provide shakers only if guests ask for them. The program is voluntary but the chamber is urging its members to comply. Photo: Alexandre Meneghini 
Salt and lime with tequila. Salt with your iced "michelada" beer. Salt and chili on fruit and even candy. Mexicans love salt, so much so that some estimates show them eating nearly three times the recommended amount and significantly more than what Americans put down.Add this to rising obesity and a hypertension epidemic, and you have a potential health nightmare that has spurred Mexico's massive capital city to try to get residents to shun the salt shaker.
Mexico City Health Secretary Armando Ahued launched a campaign, dubbed "Less Salt, More Health," late last week to get restaurants to take salt shakers off their tables. Officials and the city's restaurant chamber signed an agreement to encourage eateries to provide shakers only if guests ask for them. The program is voluntary but the chamber is urging its members to comply.
The anti-salt campaign is part of a growing wave of activism by mayors such as New York City's Michael Bloomberg , whose administration has nudged food manufacturers to reduce salt and promulgated voluntary salt guidelines in 2010 for various restaurant and store-bought foods. Bloomberg has also tried to cap the size of non-diet sodas and other sugary drinks, but a court struck down the beverage rule just before it was to take effect last month. The city is appealing.

Woman Dies from Lethal Butt Injections in Costa Rica

Costa Rican authorities are reporting the death of a 33-year-old woman from illegal buttocks injections.  The unidentified victim received butt shots as a cosmetic procedure that became infected. 
This case comes on the heals of a Santa Ana, Costa Rican woman claiming her butt was deformed by industrial silicone injects administered at an unlicensed clinic. 
Latina woman are often the victims of unlicensed, unscrupulous ‘cosmetic’ clinics here and throughout Latin America claiming to have the answer to a small or sagging posterior.  The cruelest of these medical frauds use silicone easily found at your local hardware store.  In the worse medical cases dubbed ‘silicone embolism syndrome’ the silicone will travel to the patient’s lungs and get stuck in airways.
These illicit procedures are on the rise, thanks to a slow economy and patients that can’t afford to be seen by licensed plastic surgeons.
Last year Whalesca Castilla was jailed for importing liquid silicone from the Dominican Republic and administering injections to women for butt enhancements. While Mexican singer Alejandra Guzman has struggled with the negative effects of a 2009 butt enhancement procedure.

Awesome Pictures


Eleven Totally Redundant Place Names

East of Lancashire, England lies Pendle Hill, known for its historical association with witch trials, scientific discoveries about air pressure, and religious visions that led to the founding of the Quaker movement. It is also known for having a tautological name. A tautological name has two parts that are redundant, or synonymous. Tautological place names usually come about when more than one language goes into the name. Some California examples that mix Spanish and English are Laguna Lake (Lake Lake) and Lake Lagunita (Lake Little Lake). The Pendle in Pendle Hill is derived from Pen-hyll, a combination of the Cumbric word for hill and the Old English word for hill. So Pendle Hill is really Hill Hill Hill. Here are 11 other redundant place names:

1. Lake Tahoe (Lake Lake)

This scenic body of water on the Nevada/California border gets its name from a loose pronunciation of dá’aw, a word from the Native American language Washo that means lake.

2. La Brea Tar Pits (The Tar Tar Pits)

The animal bones displayed at this California attraction were preserved in la brea, Spanish for the tar.

3. Milky Way Galaxy (Milky Way Milky)

The general astronomical term "galaxy" comes from the word the ancient Greeks used to describe the band of light they could see in the night sky, galaxias or milky.

4. Minnehaha Falls (Waterfall Falls)

The name for this Minnesota waterfall does not, as the legend has it, mean "laughing water." It comes from the Dakota word for waterfall.

5. Sahara Desert (Deserts Desert)

The name for this giant expanse of North Africa comes from çaḥrā, the Arabic word for deserts.

6. El Camino Way (The Way Way)

There's a street in Palo Alto, CA called El Camino Way, or The Way Way. If you drive down it in your Chevy El Camino you will be driving your way down The Way Way in The Way.

7. Avenue Road

The city of Toronto can't claim the foreign language excuse for this tautological street name.

8. Street Road

Nor can this name for Pennsylvania Route 132 be blamed on foreign language issues.

9. Mississippi River (Big River River)

Our favorite spelling word is derived from an Algonquian word for big river.

10. The Rock of Gibraltar (The Rock of The Rock of Tariq)

Gibraltar came from the Arabic Jabal Tariq, or The Rock of Tariq, named for Tariq ibn Ziyad, the 8th century Muslim commander who conquered Spain after assembling his troops at Gibraltar.

11. East Timor (East East)

Whether you say East Timor or Timor Leste, it still means East East. Timor comes from the Indonesian/Malay timur, for east. One could argue that the name isn't really tautological, since Timor is the name for the easternmost island in a chain of islands, and East Timor is the eastern half of that island. It's the easternmost part of the easternmost island. Not the same easternmosts!

Gloppy syrups gotta glop

And here's why ...

Honey, maple syrup, all those delicious gooey, gloppy things have some really interesting physics behind them, says Adam Becker at New Scientist. Viscosity alone can't explain the way strands of syrup stretch and drizzle as you pour them. Instead, when we see a difference between pouring honey and pouring water, what we're really seeing is the effects of tiny ripples in the honey.

Body Scanner Tech Finds Man Hidden in Roman Art

When art researchers turned a TSA-style body scanner on a fresco, they got a surprise.

Honesty and Dishonesty

In tough times, it's open season on just about anything. 
The wad of cash had been left in a bag by an elderly man on the seat of a train.

Random Photo


(via sonhar pelo verão - E Deus criou a Mulher)

Half-Human, Half-Ape Ancestor Reconstructed

Two million years ago in South Africa, individuals who were part human and part ape existed -- and now we know what they looked like.

Mayan, European calendars hook up

Using everything from carbon dating to tree rings, researchers conclude a previous alignment of the European and Mayan long count calendars was correct. The Maya are famous for their complex, intertwined calendric systems, and now [...]

Think the Planet Isn't Warming?

Claims that global warming is slowing down are ignoring a very large part of the planet.

Astronomical News

Sharemind program analyzes encrypted data without revealing secrets.
The sun has unleashed the biggest solar flare of the year, quickly followed by an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME). 
Raindrop-shaped sand dunes enriched with olivine swarm inside Mars' Copernicus Crater.

Upping the Cute Factor

Sea Urchins Thrive in Acidic Oceans

Some sea urchins may have an evolutionary trick that allows them to evolve around the difficulties of ocean acidification.

Squid beak inspires more comfortable implants

Researchers have turned to an unlikely model to make medical devices safer and more comfortable: a squid’s beak. Many medical implants require hard materials that have to connect to or pass through soft body tissue. [...]

Indonesian Survives Komodo Dragon Attack

An elderly woman gets in one life-saving kick.

Secret Population of Orangutans Found

A population of 200 of the world's rarest orangutans were found in forests of the island of Borneo.

Sea mammals take shelter thanks to 40 year old law

Four decades after passage of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, new research shows that the law is working. In 1972, a U.S. Senate committee reported, “Many of the great whales which once populated the [...]

Hairy Bean Leaves Trap Bed Bugs

Got bed bugs? Bean leaves may be just the thing you're looking for! New research reveals how the old folk remedy of leaving hairy bean leaves around the room actually works:
American entomologists studying the effect in the 1940s noted the bed bugs “could hardly be induced to move from the leaves,” and microscopic images suggested that fine, curved hairs called trichomes on the bottom of the leaves snagged the bugs’ feet.
Now, the California-Kentucky team has zoomed in even closer to reveal that the leaves’ sharp trichomes actually pierce the bugs’ feet like meat hooks, immobilizing them.
“It was astonishing to me that it worked at all,” says Catherine Loudon, a physical biologist at UC-Irvine and lead researcher of the new study, “You see this big muscular bug vigorously struggling, and it’s astonishing to me that the little tiny microscopic hairs don’t snap.”
Brooke Borel of PopSci has the post: Here.

Animal Pictures