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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Daily Drift

It's been one of those weeks ...

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Today in History

1598   The Edict of Nantes grants political rights to French Huguenots.
1775   Lord North extends the New England Restraining Act to South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. The act forbids trade with any country other than Britain and Ireland.
1861   After 34 hours of bombardment, Union-held Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederates.
1865   Union forces under Gen. Sherman begin their devastating march through Georgia.
1902   J.C. Penny opens his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming.
1919   British forces kill hundreds of Indian nationalists in the Amritsar Massacre.
1933   The first flight over Mount Everest is completed by Lord Clydesdale.
1941   German troops capture Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
1943   Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates the Jefferson Memorial.
1945   Vienna falls to Soviet troops.
1960   The first navigational satellite is launched into Earth's orbit.
1961   The U.N. General Assembly condemns South Africa because of apartheid.
1964   Sidney Poitier becomes the first black to win an Oscar for best actor.
1970   An oxygen tank explodes on Apollo 13, preventing a planned moon landing and jeopardizing the lives of the three-man crew.
1976   The U.S. Federal Reserve begins issuing $2 bicentennial notes.
1979   The world's longest doubles ping-pong match ends after 101 hours.

Non Sequitur


Editorial Comment

From all the hate mail we have been receiving from repugicans and other assorted wingnuts we here at Carolina Naturally are doing things correctly.

Troglodytes don't like it when you furnish them with the truth or facts they knee-jerk and begin to spout even more hatred and nonsense than they normally do. And their numerous threats to 'shut us down' have resulted in an increase in readership - not what they intended we're sure.

Not to rub it in to the wingnuts but fan mail outnumbers your hate mail by at least 20 to 1 on an average day. So, this is one site where you will fail in bombarding it with negativity and lies like you have with so many sites on the web. You are a infinitesimal minority and always have been and will be so get used to it. People have had enough of your ilk and the world will not abide you any longer.

Thank you to all the positive comments from our readers.

Now if we could get the Spammers to cease filling our inbox with Spam it would be a perfect world.

Kids these days have it too easy …

If you are 36, or older, you might think this is hilarious!
Teens with cell phonesWhen I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…. Uphill… Barefoot… BOTH ways…yadda, yadda, yadda
And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it!
But now that I’m over the ripe old age of forty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today. You’ve got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!
1) I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!
2) There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!
3) Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!
4) There were no MP3′s or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!
5) Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, Baby! Dig?
6) We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it!
7) There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn’t make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your “friends”. OH MY GOSH !!! Think of the horror… not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there’s TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.
8) And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent… you just didn’t know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!
9) We didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroids’. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen.. Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!
10) You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?!
11) There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!
12) And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!
13) And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside… you were doing chores!
And car seats – oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place!
See! That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!
The Over 40 Crowd

A $26K Bounty on Pachyderm-Shooting Punk

A $26,250 reward awaits anyone with information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators who shot a circus elephant in a drive-by in Mississippi.

Did you know ...

About the 5 poisons of privatization

About the 7 ways North Carolina is making it harder to vote

The truth hurts

Disability claims skyrocket

Here's why

The number of Americans getting some type of disability check from the federal government is soaring.
Since 2003, there's been a 29% jump in Americans with little or no work experience getting disability payments, according to the Social Security Administration. Over the same time, there's been a 44% increase in disability claims by people formerly in the workplace.
Disability claims among veterans are up 28% since 2008, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
All told, the federal government spent nearly $250 billion in 2011 paying more than 23 million Americans some type of disability claim. That's about 7% of the overall population, and 16% of the workforce.
Those numbers don't even include people out on worker compensation claims -- which are mostly paid for by private companies. Five states also offer short term disability, and there are nearly 1 million workers receiving private disability insurance.
But the Social Security-administered program that pays disability claims will likely run out of money by 2016, forcing politicians to either cut Social Security benefits, raise taxes or, most likely, dip into general Social Security funds for the money.
There are many reasons for the increase in disability claims, most notably the recession, an aging population, advances in medical technology and a decade of war.
The recession: The economic downturn in 2008 and early 2009 is thought to be the major reason for the jump in disability payments to people who were formerly working.
"With every recession, we see a rise in the number of applicants," said Andrew Houtenville, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability. "People are looking for options in terms of income support."
During the 2001 recession, disability claims from those who used to have a steady job shot up 13%, said Barry Lundquist, president of the Council for Disability Awareness, an insurance-industry funded organization. The growth in claims slowed during the subsequent boom years, but then skyrocketed during the most recent recession. In 2009, claims jumped 21%.
Lundquist said it is simplistic to characterize the jump in claims as people simply looking to substitute disability payments for unemployment.
"Most people really do want to work," said Lundquist.
But for some, it's really just not an option.
Aging population: The U.S. population has risen about 8% since 2003. In addition to more people, the population is also getting older as the baby boomers retire.
Older people tend to have more disability issues. And if someone in their late 50s or early 60s gets laid off and also has some sort of injury, they know it's going to be hard for them to find another job.
Still, Houtenville noted that disability claims are up among all age groups.
Welfare reform: Efforts in the 1990s to reform the nation's welfare laws had the perverse effect of pushing more people onto the Social Security program for people with little work history. That has continued.
States and municipalities actually set up screening centers to test welfare recipients for disabilities, said John O'Neill, director of employment and disability research at the Kessler Foundation, a non-profit focused on disability issues. If any were found, state workers helped the people apply for federal disability benefits.
"They shifted their costs onto the federal government," said O'Neill.
Medical advances: This is particularly relevant for military veterans. Thanks to better surgical techniques -- and body armor -- soldiers are ten times as likely to survive today's wars, according to the Veterans Administration. But soldiers often come home with severe injuries.
The recent decision to recognize post traumatic stress disorder as a disability has also lifted the number of benefits claims. The Veterans Administration noted that illnesses tied to the cancer-causing chemical defoliant Agent Orange used in Vietnam are also now viewed as a disability.
But medical advances aren't just helping soldiers. Premature babies have a better chance of living now, as are people who have a heart attack or stroke. However, surviving doesn't mean that people are entirely symptom-free.
"We're not just living longer, but we're living disabled longer as well," said Daniel Steenerson, president of Disability Insurance Services, a company what works with both insurance firms and disabled people.
Need for reform: Some of the increases in disability payments are arguably a good thing - like more veterans being covered.
But Houtenville said the Social Security disability program for former workers could be improved if there also was a short term disability program that encouraged people to return to work.
An increase in job training and education programs for the disabled would also help.

The truth be told

Meet The Puppet Master Who’s Turning North Carolina into a tea party Utopia

The pope of oz
When North Carolinians elected repugican Pat McCrory in November, they thought they were getting a “moderate” repugican.  Indeed, McCrory’s public record looked like a moderate repugican, he sounded like a moderate repugican and if you follow the logic about ducks, that means that as governor, McCrory would be a moderate repugican.
North Carolinians are seeing the flaw in duck logic, because something happened to their once moderate repugican governor.  It’s like the moment he was handed the keys to the Governor’s mansion he turned into a tea party militant overnight.
Yes, the State of North Carolina is turning into a Kochtarian Utopia, with McCrory as the face of a Moderate repugican and multi-millionaire Art Pope, playing the role of Dick Cheney. Mr. Pope is the CEO of Variety Wholesalers Inc. and has been an agitator in repugican politics throughout his adult life. That is, after he co-founded The Libertarian Party as a 20-year-old college student, studying political science at UNC – Chapel Hill.
Pope, who  counts the Kochs among his friends, makes the administrations of Rick Snyder, Scott Walker, and even Florida’s Rick Scott look like amateur hour.  When repuhicans won control of the State’s legislature in 2010, for the first time since 1870, 75% of the funding  that made it possible came from “independent” groups with ties to the personification of all that is glorious in the eyes of the Tea Party, the  great, white Art Pope.
Once the repugicans gained control of the State’s legislature for the first time in over a century, Pope provided his expertise in gerrymandering which means, as is the case in the repugican controlled House of Representatives in Washington, even when they lose, they still retain control.
Since McCrory took over the Governor’s mansion with Pope as his budget director, the litany of tea partyesque legislation has been spell binding. Attacking women’s rights, access to education, savage cuts to unemployment benefits, voting suppression on steroids and much, much more. Also proposed under Art Pope’s watchful eye, Romneyhood, a constitutional amendment for a right to work for less, and government handouts for homeschooling.  As Think Progress said, Pope with McCrory as his face is rapidly turning North Carolina into a tea party Utopia.
“With no remaining checks to repugican rule in North Carolina, the state has now become a haven for some of the most ideological — and ill-considered — tea party fantasies dressed up as legislation.”
It’s a dizzying pace, especially for people who say they don’t like government on their backs, but are more than content to make government an albatross on the backs of average North Carolinians.
We wouldn’t see proposals to impose any religion, let alone a specific religion, on the populace of North Carolina under a “moderate” repugican Administration and it certainly doesn’t make sense under Libertarianism. Yet, that’s just one of the laws proposed by the Pope/McCrory Administration.  This is particularly ironic, since Pope is familiar with the first amendment, when it comes to his “right” to throw as much money as possible at races where repugicans can’t sell their ideas.
Of course, he didn’t see it that way when he wrote the following in the National Review:
“I’m a wingnut repugican and I exercise my First Amendment rights by supporting wingnut public-policy and issue-advocacy organizations, grassroots activism, voter education, and repugican candidates. With the obvious importance of North Carolina in next year’s national elections, the Left now wants to silence me.”
If Pope and McCrory have their way, NC’s Racial Justice Act that sought to take racism out of North Carolina’s criminal justice system will be a thing of the past.
This is symptomatic of the tea party’s version of libertarianism, in which free speech applies to the uber rich when they buy politicians, but freedom of religion is reduced to “allowing” North Carolinians to choose which cult, spouting the state religion, they will attend.  Somehow, the first Amendment that Pope pointed to when defending his “right” to buy the State’s government no longer matters under the Pope/McCrory Administration.
It’s the sort of “libertarianism” that frowns upon assuring civil protections of people who are vulnerable to discrimination in favor of preserving the racists’ ‘freedom’ to be racists.
But wait, there is so much more. North Carolina shows us why the tea party is drawn to having inexperienced “fresh faces.”  It’s so much easier for Dick Cheney types  to pull their strings behind the curtain.
In 2012, Pope served as the co-chair for Pat McCrory’s transition team before he was appointed to be the state’s chief budget writer in McCrory’s Administration.  When his appointment as Budget Director was announced, observers of North Carolinian politics knew what lay ahead. McCrory serves as the Public face of his Administration, with Art Pope pulling his strings from behind the scenes.
As the Charlotte Observed noted:
“Many people find it difficult to think dispassionately about Pope because he has become such a polarizing figure – knight of the right to his admirers or a somewhat sinister Daddy-Warbucks-Dick-Cheney-string-puller to his critics.”
But for McCrory, a rookie governor with little Raleigh experience, having Pope at his side during the early months of his administration has been an asset. (my emphasis)
The litany of legislation that Pope and McCrory’s repugicans passed and are currently in the process of passing coincide with the Kochtarian version of freedom, in which corporations are free to do what they want, the rich are free to live as they want, and small government means regulating as many aspects of everyone else’s life as possible.
Bill Cook, one of those repugicans who benefitted from an influx of Pope money, introduced North Carolina’s version of voter suppression laws.
Most of the proposed voter suppression legislation is the same boilerplate laws we saw passed by repugicans before the 2012 election. However, the Pope/McCrory voter suppression package has a couple of additional laws that only a Kochtarian can see as an enhancement of liberty. First up is a law to remove the child deduction from parents whose children vote where they go to college instead of in their home town.  It has the same effect as a poll tax,  even if Pope and McCrory would deny that it is a poll tax.
Of course, Voter Integrity Project of NC which has ties to Art Pope, are salivating over this law. Like good soldiers of the Koch controlled tea party, they’re armed with talking points,  so they don’t have to worry their little heads by thinking about what they are advocating.
North Carolinians will be hearing about how this law, proposed by one of Art Pope’s puppets, is really just about “equalizing” the vote because college students are such a privileged lot. This message provided courtesy of one of Art Pope’s “grassroots” organizations will appear to be a “grassroots” concern, with Art Pope, once again, pulling the strings.  Granted, recognizing why this policy is constitutionally problematic would mean taking a look at the 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. But Pope’s puppets need not worry about it.  He does all the thinking, and all they have to do is propose his law and parrot his message. It’s so much more efficient when one person does the thinking and makes all the decisions, you know.
The Voter Integrity Project operates much like those other wonderful “grass roots” organizations, Americans For Prosperity and the tea party where Pope (and his bff’s the Koch Brothers” also have ties, in which “grassroots” really means “top down.” Their sugar daddies run the show, while the “grass roots” members act as broadcasters of their sugar daddy’s message. after legislators bought by their sugar daddies propose the policies envisioned by Art Pope and the Koch Brothers.
Pope isn’t stopping at voter suppression though.  As the person responsible for writing NC’s budgets, Pope is using the budget to eliminate NC’s Judicial Public Finance Program.
In short, the program provides public financing for judicial elections, rather than the sort of “grass roots” financing that comes from people like Art Pope.  Considering that Pope believes that money is speech, his opposition to this program is predictable.  After all, money is only speech when the money in question belongs to the uberrich and besides, public financing of elections sort of puts a damper on the uberrich’s financial megaphone silencing the voices of everyone else.  Then there’s practical reality.  To assure the laws proposed by the legislators that Pope invested in remain in tact, Pope needs the ability to buy judges to rubber stamp his laws should they, somehow be subject to constitutional challenges.
Just think of it, the same guy who writes the law, buys a lawmaker to propose it and has his “grassroots’ organization broadcast his talking points.  Just in case you people get uppity and decide to challenge the will of Pope, if he gets his way, he’ll have bought judges to rule in his favor.  It’s so efficient and so consistent with the liberty that Kochtarianism stands for.
As Paul Blumenthal of the Huffington Post reported:
“Most of the attacks [against judicial public financing] were really coming from one source, and that’s the political network that’s largely funded by Art Pope in North Carolina,” Chris Kromm, Director at the Institute for Southern Studies, a liberal non-profit in North Carolina, alleged.”
The lesson of North Carolina is a reminder of the sort of repuhican cabal we’re dealing with today.  It’s a repugican cabal controlled by people who believe they are entitled to buy legislators and judges to silence the voices of Americans who don’t belong to the billionaire boys club. It’s a party of plutocrats that not only can’t relate to most Americans, and all American values, but hold contempt for both. The real leaders aren’t those moderate faces on the campaign trail, they are those men hiding behind the curtain.

It says it all

The repugicans Decide The Best Way To Help Poor Children Is To Give Them Less Food

One of the tenets of christianity, real christianity and not the American version, is altruism where concern for the welfare of others defines a person’s attitude toward life. There are altruists in America, but they are in depressingly short supply and over the past four years their polar opposites, selfish egoists, have grown in numbers and tout their own self-worth and heap praise on those in their reprobate class. The idea that as Americans, the people have a responsibility to help the least fortunate and assist them to escape their lot in life was never the purview of wingnuts or their politicians, but repugicans are actively pursuing policies that target and punish the poor, or purposely keep them downtrodden and pile on misery as a punitive measure for being poor, and it characterizes the repugican cabal and their supporters across the nation.
In January, a Tennessee repugican decided the best approach to help poor students improve their school performance was legislation that cut their parents food stamp allotment as a “carrot and stick” approach to academic excellence. When state Sen. Stacey Campfield first introduced the measure, he said parents living in dire poverty had “gotten away with doing absolutely nothing to help their children” in school and accused them of committing child abuse. His remedy was cutting low-performing student’s parents’ TANF allowance by 30% on top of the 20% cut if students failed to meet attendance standards.  As it is now, Tennessee ranks second to Mississippi as the stingiest welfare assistance state in the Union with a maximum family welfare payment of $185 per month.
There is a reason children in poverty perform below their wealthier peers, and it has everything to do with being hungry as their parents struggle to provide food on part-time minimum wage jobs if they can find work at all. As far as Campfield’s assertion that poor parents fail to help their children, it is a Herculean task to promote sound academic habits when they struggle to scrape together enough cash to keep a roof over their heads and provide sustenance, so to aggravate an already pathetic existence, Tennessee repugicans punish poor children and their family by reducing the pitiful excuse for temporary assistance because hungry children are not performing in school.
It is well established that repugicans reward the wealthy for no other reason than they are already rich, but why do they persist in punishing the least fortunate Americans instead of helping them claw their way out of poverty? It is because they could not care less that Americans are struggling, and instead of empathy for citizens living a subsistence existence, they promote more cruelty to make their lives miserable and it is not unique to Tennessee repugicans.
It is sad indeed, that in the richest country in the history of the world, one political party claims America is too broke to strengthen anti-poverty programs that are the most miserly in the developed world, and yet have no qualms heaping more wealth on the richest Americans. The Paul Ryan Heritage Foundation deficit-reducing budget includes a nearly 15% tax cut for the rich while slashing domestic programs and social safety nets because “we can’t afford to subsidize the takers” because it burdens the wealthy. The so-called takers, a term Ryan lifted from his heroine Ayn Rand, are already working, if they can find employment, at poverty-level wage jobs and would jump at the opportunity to make a living wage, but no repugican over the past four years has lifted a finger to propose, or support, any job creation bills because they claim America is broke. However, America is never too broke to help the rich.
There is an intrinsic flaw in repugicans that drives them to punish the poor and it is not just in Tennessee or the United States Congress. In every state with a repugican governor and legislature, safety nets, education, healthcare, and the elderly face cuts to fund tax breaks for the wealthy and their corporations. Even in Democratic-controlled states, repugicans float truly Draconian measures to punish the poor simply because they are poor and their supporters applaud efforts to “give losers what they deserve;” nothing. Even in a solid blue state like California, repugicans suggested cutting food, healthcare, and housing assistance to families with children who underperform in schools starved for funding, while affluent schools are lavished with million-dollar artificial turf football fields and Olympic-quality aquatic facilities. The reasoning, if one can call it that, is always that more affluent students deserve finest schools, athletic programs, and extra-curricular facilities because they are “the best and brightest” and have a better chance of achieving success than their underprivileged counterparts.
The purely Draconian Tennessee law punishing poor children by withholding welfare is a growing trend among repugicans to punish children in poverty. And repugicans across the nation fiercely advocate for single-celled organisms inside their mothers’ wombs, and yet the minute the fetus draws breath and becomes a human being, repugicans cut the WIC program, TANF, SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, and Head Start that has nothing to do with America’s spending problem and everything to do with punishing poverty with more poverty. It is the defining characteristic of the wingnut, predominately christian, movement to seek out and discover new ways to kill anti-poverty programs to make life as fragile for the poor as possible and it will get worse.
It appears the long-term goal of the repugican cabal, and conservative movement in general, in increasing their assault on the poor and children living in poverty is slow eradication and extermination of an entire generation unfortunate enough to be born during the most extreme and Draconian era in American  history short of the Great Depression. It is true repugicans have their hearts set on slowly killing off seniors by robbing them of the healthcare they paid for their entire working lives, but this assault on children is unprecedented in the modern era and is nothing short of a deliberate attempt to snuff out a generation of “under-performing” children whether it is eliminating school lunch programs, cutting food stamps, reducing TANF, or cutting funding for Head Start.
America has the second highest child poverty rate in the developed world, and instead of strengthening anti-poverty programs, repugicans find new ways to literally take food out of children’s mouths and hand it to the wealthy in the form of tax breaks. Little mentioned is the repugican desire to eliminate child tax and earned income credits that kept 10 million American families out of poverty, as well as 5 million children, but wingnuts claim it gives the poor no incentive to work or pull their own weight, but to qualify for either credit a taxpayer has to work earning poverty level wages and support their children, so their galling effort is just another means to increase poverty to accompany cuts to food, healthcare, and housing assistance. Further, to perpetuate the cycle of poverty poor children are born into, repugicans in Congress and state legislatures have made slashing education one of their top priorities that serves two purposes; keep poor children ignorant and stuck in poverty, and send as many middle class teachers to join them as they are laid off, furloughed, and lose their pensions to make sure their retirement years are spent in poverty like children they teach are born into.
This week Tennessee repugicans are in the news for punishing poverty-level children, but the assault on the next generation has been ongoing for four straight years and it is still not sufficient for repugicans. The assault on the poor is not solely that money is wasted on children living in poverty, because there is always money for the rich and their corporations, and it is more than providing an incentive for them and their parents to stand on their own and make their own way, because repugicans are killing jobs and cutting education that could assist the next generation to escape the cycle of poverty they are doomed to remain in. It is a measured, well-planned, and long-term attempt to eradicate an entire class of the next generation because they were unfortunate and born into and remain victims of repugican-era economic hell.

Corporate Terrorism

To Hopis' dismay, tribal masks sold off in Paris

A French supporter of the Indian cause, who refused to give his name, left, holds a flag of the American Indian Movement and an American exchange student, member of the Arizona's Hopi tribe, Bo Lomahquahu, right, stand outside of the Druout's auction house to protest the auction of Native American Hopi tribe masks in Paris, Friday, April 12, 2013. A contested auction of dozens of Native American tribal masks went ahead Friday afternoon following a Paris court ruling, in spite of appeals for a delay by the Hopi tribe, its supporters including actor Robert Redford, and the U.S. government. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  
A Paris auction house went ahead Friday with a contested sale of dozens of Native American tribal masks after winning a court ruling, despite appeals for a delay by the Hopi tribe, its supporters and the U.S. government.
Shortly after the court announced its decision, auctioneers began selling dozens of brilliantly colored masks made of wood, leather, horse hair and feathers across town at the Drouot auction house.
The auctioneer argued that blocking the sale would have tremendous implications and potentially force French museums to empty their collections.
The Hopi tribe wants the masks returned, insisting they have a special status and are more than art — representing their dead ancestors' spirits. The Hopis, a Native American tribe whose territory is surrounded by Arizona, nurture the masks as if they are the living dead.
In its ruling, the court noted the Hopis ascribe "sacred value" to the masks but "clearly they cannot be assimilated to human bodies or elements of bodies of humans who exist or existed" — the sale of which would be banned in France.
The court also alluded to the 1978 U.S. legislation, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and wrote "no provisions banning the sale outside the United States of objects used in religious ceremonies or susceptible to be is applicable in France."
Advocates for the Hopis expressed dismay.
"This decision is very disappointing, since the masks will be sold and dispersed," the tribe's French lawyer, Pierre Servan-Schreiber, said outside the courtroom. "The Hopi tribe will be extremely saddened by the decision, especially since the judgment recognizes that these masks have a sacred value. The judge considers that the imminent damage (to the masks) is not sufficiently strong."
Jean-Patrick Razon, France director for Survival International, an advocacy group that supports tribal peoples, also expressed disappointment.
"The Hopi people have been pillaged throughout their history. We despoiled their land, we killed them, we violated their souls and it continues. Now, their ritual objects are being put up for auction," Razon said.
The Hopis' lawyers filed a request with the Council of Sales, the French auction market authority, to suspend the sale, Servan-Schreiber said, but a spokeswoman for the Council of Sales told The Associated Press that it had no legal grounds to intervene.
U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin tweeted Friday "I am saddened to learn that Hopi sacred cultural objects are being put up for auction today in Paris." On Thursday, he sent a letter to the French government and the auction house asking for a delay to allow better consideration of the tribe's concerns.
Hollywood star Robert Redford joined the effort, writing a letter calling the sales a "sacrilege" — even a "criminal gesture."
Auctioneer Gilles Neret-Minet said he would not gloat over the ruling "but I'm happy that French law was respected."
"I am also very concerned about the Hopis' sadness, but you cannot break property law," he said. "These are in (private) collections in Europe: they are no longer sacred. When objects are in private collections, even in the United States, they are desacralized."
Neret-Minet said the auction house has received "serious threats" ahead of the auction.
The 70 objects, mainly Hopi, went on display at Drouot for the first time as the court battle kicked off Thursday, offering a rare public glimpse of such works in Europe. They date to the late 19th century and early 20th century, and are thought to have been taken from a northern Arizona reservation in the 1930s and 1940s. The most expensive single mask is estimated to be worth at least 50,000 euros ($66,000).
The masks are striking — surreal faces made from wood, leather, horse hair and feathers, painted in vivid pigments of red, blue, yellow and orange. Hopi representatives contend the items were stolen at some point and wanted the auction house to prove otherwise.
The Associated Press is not transmitting images of the objects because the Hopi have long kept the items out of public view and consider it sacrilegious for any images of the objects to appear.
Disputes over art ownership, demands for restitution, and arguments over whether sacred objects should be sold are nothing new.
There has been a decades-long dispute between the British Museum and Greece over the Elgin marbles, which Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin removed from the Parthenon in the 19th century. Greece wants them back but opponents fear that would open the floodgates, forcing Western museums to send home thousands of artifacts.

Actress' age claim against IMDb rejected

Junie Hoang Hoang initially provided the IMDb site with a false birth year
An actress who sued Amazon.com after her date of birth was posted on its Internet Movie Database has had her claim rejected by a jury in Seattle.
Huong Hoang, who goes by the stage name Junie Hoang, alleged that offers dried up after the database revealed her age.
IMDb argued it had the right to publish accurate data and that Hoang, 41, could not prove she lost out because of it.
According to the website, her credits include the 2011 title Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver.
The site, which was launched in the early 1990s and purchased by Amazon in 1998, continues to post Ms Hoang's date of birth on her profile page.
In court documents filed anonymously in 2011, Amazon and its movie database subsidiary were accused of breach of contract, fraud, violation of privacy and consumer protection laws.
Parent company Amazon was dismissed as a defendant before the two-day trial, which concluded on Thursday.
The database's stance drew criticism in 2011 from two acting unions, who accused the site of "facilitating age discrimination".
During the trial, though, the site's attorneys said IMDb was not responsible for the actions taken by people who read their profiles.
Screenshot of Junie Hoang's IMDb profile Junie Hoang's IMDb profile continues to list her true date of birth - 16 July 1971
Ms Hoang, who had been seeking $1m (£650,000) in damages, had initially provided the site with a false birth year that reduced her stated age by seven years.
When she asked for that information to be removed, the site used a public records search to discover her true date of birth and published it against her objections.
Speaking after the trial, Ms Hoang said she had hoped to make the database change its policy.
"I knew it was a problem not just for me but for anyone else who had their age on their profile," she said.

Is Everyone Really Staring At You?

Do you ever walk down the street, convinced everyone you pass is staring you right in the face? First of all, it's possible they are, so duck into an alley and use your phone's front-facing camera to see if you have any weird dirt on your face or something. If there's nothing there, keep walking.

A recent study from the University of Sydney found that humans are hard-wired to think that strangers are staring at them. What's interesting here is that if the stranger is wearing sunglasses or if our view of their face is obscured, we still tend to assume we're being stared at.

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Different brains have similar responses to music

Do the brains of different people listening to the same piece of music actually respond in the same way? An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists says the answer is yes, which [...]

Horse poop key to streamlining biofuel production?

Courtesy of Creative commons http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=smiling+horse&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=T3BTYtoxUP6X3M&tbnid=5Wo6JEVZyC5TOM:&ved=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.flickr.com%2Fphotos%2Flindaburnett%2F833470186%2F&ei=TBhoUZWnGcniigKQmoCwAg&bvm=bv.45175338,d.cGE&psig=AFQjCNFdBYzXT0AAytZ6QmSK5ZGD97KcnQ&ust=1365862860784134

What the Wind is Shouting to the Trees

Climate change could flatten forests with more frequent and intense wind storms.

A hotel run by one family ... for 1,300 years

Hōshi is a ryokan (Japanese traditional inn) in Japan.  The hotel has been operated by the same family for forty-six generations (since 717 A.D.)

The fascinating explanation is in comments at the Reddit discussion thread:
It should be noted that Japan has a tradition of adopting adult heirs if it seems like there is nobody in the family that would be suitable/wanting to run the family business. Over 90% of adoptions in japan are of adult males in their 20s and 30s, and japan has one of the highest adoption rates in the world.

Because of this family businesses in japan are more successful than in other countries, which tend to die out due to blood lines or become other kinds of businesses.

Suzuki, Toyota, Kikkoman, and Canon are all family businesses. The current head of Suzuki was adopted, and the heir that will replace him will also be adopted.
and -
It's not a strange concept when you look at history. Some societies that placed a big importance on family (and there are many) allowed for the "adoption" of an adult. It's more about welcoming someone into the family and taking the family name than it is about providing for someone.

For example, the Roman Republic/Empire frequently engaged in adult adoption, even posthumously. Caesar adopted Octavian/Augustus after his own death as a way of having an heir. Quite a few of the Roman emperors were adopted by the previous emperors simply as a way of choosing an heir if there was no suitable or capable son that could take the job.

The Hidden Beach

The Marietas Islands off the Pacific coast of Mexico contain a gem of nature: a hidden beach. La Playa de Amor is accessible through a sea cave. It's  set in a wildlife preserve, so access is restricted. But those who can get in experience a geological marvel. You can view more photos at the link.

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Half-Human, Half Ape Ancestor Walked Pigeon-Toed

Two million years ago in South Africa, a cross between humans and apes walked with a pigeon-toed gait, ate mostly veggies and spent a lot of time swinging in the trees.

Ten Unbelievable Dinos That Really Existed

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Badass Fish Eats Puffins

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Lithuanian woman shares home with 3 puma cubs

A Lithuanian woman says she has been raising three pumas in her three-room apartment after fearing for their lives at the local zoo.
(AP Photo/ Ausra Pilaitiene)
Rasa Veliute, a 23-year-old volunteer at the zoo in Klaipeda, a Baltic Sea port town, says she took the cubs home four months ago after their mother began neglecting them.
The pumas - also known as mountain lions or cougars - are named Kipsas, Gipse and Kinde. Veliute says they eat a lot of chicken and get along well with her East European shepherd dog.
There is no Lithuanian law barring keeping the animals at home, and the zoo did not object to Veliute's actions. But Veliute told reporters Friday that the pumas have grown fast and will likely return to the zoo this summer.

Baby Birds Blackmail Mom for More Noms

Gimme more noms or else! New research shows that young pied babbler birds blackmail their parents to get more food by behaving dangerously:
Once the baby birds reach their fledgling stage, kind of like our awkward teenage years, the birds have a little more control over their bodies, but still not enough to fly or feed themselves. And like teens, when the young birds disagree with their parents, they start taking risks. When they want more food, for example, researchers found that the young birds leave the nest early. [...]
The study found that parents that heard recorded alarm calls of other species (signalling a possible predator in the area) nearly doubled how much they fed to ground-based babies, while feeding nest babies no differently. The authors speculate this is in part an attempt to get at-risk babies to move back to the safety of nearby bushes since the young birds don’t take as many risks or behave as dangerously when they are full.
From the youngster’s perspective, though, they might be paradoxically more inclined to leave the nest when the danger to them is the highest, since their manipulative powers to get more food are also strongest at that point.
Breanna Draxler has more at Discover's D-brief blog.

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