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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.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Daily Drift

This is awesome… love the accordion… Yes by all means ...

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Today in History

296   St. Gaius ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
536   St. Agapitus I ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1500   Pedro Alvarez Cabral discovers Brazil.
1509   Henry VIII ascends to the throne of England upon the death of his father, Henry VII.
1529   Spain and Portugal divide the eastern hemisphere in the Treaty of Saragosa.
1745   The Peace of Fussen is signed.
1792   President George Washington proclaims American neutrality in the war in Europe.
1861   Robert E. Lee is named commander of Virginia forces.
1889   The Oklahoma land rush officially starts at noon as thousands of Americans race for new, unclaimed land.
1898   In the first action of the Spanish-American War, the USS Nashville, takes on a Spanish ship.
1915   At the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans use poison gas for the first time.
1918   British naval forces attempt to sink block-ships in the German U-boat bases at the Battle of Zeeburgge.
1931   Egypt signs treaty of friendship with Iraq.
1944   Allies launch major attack against the Japanese in Hollandia, New Guinea.
1954   The Senate Army-McCarthy hearings begin. They are broadcast on television.
1955   Congress orders all U.S. coins to bear the motto "In God We Trust."
1976   Barbara Walters becomes the first female nightly news anchor on network television.
1995   In Africa, Rwandan troops kill thousands of Hutu refugees in Kibeho.

Non Sequitur


Local weather does not always reflect global trends

Americans in the Midwest and residents of Europe may be surprised to discover that despite their local insufferably-prolonged winters, global temperature patterns were somewhat different:
 "...The globally-averaged temperature across the world's land and ocean surfaces was 0.58°C (1.04°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F), tying with 2006 as the 10th warmest March since records began in 1880. Both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres were also 10th warmest for March..."
Data from the National Climactic Data Center

Did you know ...

That a marathoner witnesses Boston bombing, flies home to Texas, sees fertilizer plant explode

About these 5 ways to stay sane during cable TV coverage of a crisis

That Karl Rove is accurately named as "terrorist" and "war criminal" during speech ... again

Wow, Dr. Who must be pleased: old, used Dalek found in a pond in England

West Fertilizer Company Failed To Disclose It Had Unsafe Stores Of Explosive Substance

West Fertilizer
The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb making - unaware of any danger there.

Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren't shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.

A U.S. congressman and several safety experts called into question on Friday whether incomplete disclosure or regulatory gridlock may have contributed to the disaster.

"It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid," Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. "This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up."

Company officials did not return repeated calls seeking comment on its handling of chemicals and reporting practices. Late on Friday, plant owner Donald Adair released a general statement expressing sorrow over the incident but saying West Fertilizer would have little further comment while it cooperated with investigators to try to determine what happened.

"This tragedy will continue to hurt deeply for generations to come," Adair said in the statement.

Failure to report significant volumes of hazardous chemicals at a site can lead the DHS to fine or shut down fertilizer operations, a person familiar with the agency's monitoring regime said. Though the DHS has the authority to carry out spot inspections at facilities, it has a small budget for that and only a "small number" of field auditors, the person said.

Firms are responsible for self reporting the volumes of ammonium nitrate and other volatile chemicals they hold to the DHS, which then helps measure plant risks and devise security and safety plans based on them.

Since the agency never received any so-called top-screen report from West Fertilizer, the facility was not regulated or monitored by the DHS under its CFAT standards, largely designed to prevent sabotage of sites and to keep chemicals from falling into criminal hands.

The DHS focuses "specifically on enhancing security to reduce the risk of terrorism at certain high-risk chemical facilities," said agency spokesman Peter Boogaard. "The West Fertilizer Co. facility in West, Texas is not currently regulated under the CFATS program."

The West Fertilizer facility was subject to other reporting, permitting and safety programs, spread across at least seven state and federal agencies, a patchwork of regulation that critics say makes it difficult to ensure thorough oversight.

An expert in chemical safety standards said the two major federal government programs that are supposed to ensure chemical safety in industry - led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - do not regulate the handling or storage of ammonium nitrate. That task falls largely to the DHS and the local and state agencies that oversee emergency planning and response.

More than 4,000 sites nationwide are subject to the DHS program.

"This shows that the enforcement routine has to be more robust, on local, state and federal levels," said the expert, Sam Mannan, director of process safety center at Texas A&M University. "If information is not shared with agencies, which appears to have happened here, then the regulations won't work."


Chemical safety experts and local officials suspect this week's blast was caused when ammonium nitrate was set ablaze. Authorities suspect the disaster was an industrial accident, but haven't ruled out other possibilities.

The fertilizer is considered safe when stored properly, but can explode at high temperatures and when it reacts with other substances.

"I strongly believe that if the proper safeguards were in place, as are at thousands of (DHS) CFATS-regulated plants across the country, the loss of life and destruction could have been far less extensive," said Rep. Thompson.

A blaze was reported shortly before a massive explosion leveled dozens of homes and blew out an apartment building.

A U-Haul truck packed with the substance mixed with fuel oil exploded to raze the Oklahoma federal building in 1995. Another liquid gas fertilizer kept on the West Fertilizer site, anhydrous ammonia, is subject to DHS reporting and can explode under extreme heat.

Wednesday's blast heightens concerns that regulations governing ammonium nitrate and other chemicals - present in at least 6,000 depots and plants in farming states across the country - are insufficient. The facilities serve farmers in rural areas that typically lack stringent land zoning controls, many of the facilities sit near residential areas.

Apart from the DHS, the West Fertilizer site was subject to a hodgepodge of regulation by the EPA, OSHA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Office of the Texas State Chemist.

But the material is exempt from some mainstays of U.S. chemicals safety programs. For instance, the EPA's Risk Management Program (RMP) requires companies to submit plans describing their handling and storage of certain hazardous chemicals. Ammonium nitrate is not among the chemicals that must be reported.

In its RMP filings, West Fertilizer reported on its storage of anhydrous ammonia and said that it did not expect a fire or explosion to affect the facility, even in a worst-case scenario. And it had not installed safeguards such as blast walls around the plant.

A separate EPA program, known as Tier II, requires reporting of ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals stored above certain quantities. Tier II reports are submitted to local fire departments and emergency planning and response groups to help them plan for and respond to chemical disasters. In Texas, the reports are collected by the Department of State Health Services. Over the last seven years, according to reports West Fertilizer filed, 2012 was the only time the company stored ammonium nitrate at the facility.

It reported having 270 tons on site.

"That's just a god awful amount of ammonium nitrate," said Bryan Haywood, the owner of a hazardous chemical consulting firm in Milford, Ohio. "If they were doing that, I would hope they would have gotten outside help."

In response to a request from Reuters, Haywood, who has been a safety engineer for 17 years, reviewed West Fertilizer's Tier II sheets from the last six years. He said he found several items that should have triggered the attention of local emergency planning authorities - most notably the sudden appearance of a large amount of ammonium nitrate in 2012.

"As a former HAZMAT coordinator, that would have been a red flag for me," said Haywood, referring to hazardous materials.

NRA Utopia

Condition of Indian girl who was raped improves

Indian women activists of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party jostle with Indian police women outside ruling United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s residence during a protest against the rape of a 5-year-old girl in New Delhi, India, Sunday, April 21, 2013. The girl was raped and tortured by a man who held her in a locked room in India's capital for two days. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)  
The condition of a 5-year-old girl who was allegedly kidnapped, raped and tortured by a man and then left alone in a locked room in India's capital for two days has improved, a doctor said Sunday, as protests continued over the authorities' handling of the case.
The girl was in critical condition when she was transferred Thursday from a local hospital to the largest government-run hospital in the country. But D.K. Sharma, medical superintendent of the state-run hospital in New Delhi where the girl was being treated, said Sunday that she was responding well to treatment and that her condition had stabilized.
Police say the girl went missing April 15 and was found two days later by neighbors who heard her crying in a locked room in the same New Delhi building where she lives with her family. The girl was alone when she was found, having been left for dead by the man following the brutal attack, police say.
A 24-year-old man was arrested Saturday in the eastern state of Bihar, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from New Delhi, in connection with the incident. After being flown to New Delhi, he was in custody Sunday and was being questioned, police said.
The incident came four months after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus sparked outrage across India about the treatment of women in the country.
For the second consecutive day, hundreds of people protested Sunday outside police headquarters in the capital, angry over allegations that police had ignored complaints by the girl's parents that she was missing.
About 100 supporters of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party protested outside the home of the chief of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, demanding that the government ensure the safety and security of women and girls in the city.
The protesters also demanded that the Delhi police chief be removed from office and that police officials accused of failing to act on the parents' complaint be dismissed.
"Police and other officials that fail to do their jobs and instead engage in abusive behavior should know that they will be punished," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Sunday.
Police said they detained more than 50 protesters when they tried to break down barricades on the road leading to Gandhi's house. The protesters were released after a few hours.
Police also placed restrictions on the gathering of more than four people on the main avenue in the heart of New Delhi after university students said they planned to hold a demonstration there later Sunday. Despite the police order, about 100 students gathered at New Delhi's iconic India Gate monument and held a peaceful protest late Sunday.
Sexual crimes against women and children are reported every day in Indian newspapers, and women often complain about their sense of insecurity when they leave their homes.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for changes in attitudes toward women in India, where there has been a fierce debate since December's fatal New Delhi gang rape about the routine mistreatment of females.
"The gruesome assault on the little girl a few days back reminds us once again of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society," Singh said Sunday at a meeting with civil servants.
A day earlier, Singh had urged Indian society "to look within and work to root out the evil of rape and other such crimes from our midst."
The fatal beating and gang rape of a young woman aboard a moving New Delhi bus sparked outrage and spurred the government to pass tough laws for crimes against women, including the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim's death.
But activists say that merely passing strong laws is not enough, and that the government has to convey its intention to crack down on crimes against women to its officials and the police.
"Enacting strong laws are simply a first step, but it needs the government to focus urgently on implementation if it is serious about protecting children and other victims of sexual abuse," Human Rights Watch's Ganguly said.

A South Carolina Man Accused Of Killing Two Claims “Stand Your Ground” Self-Defense

 An Irmo man accused of killing his wife and a man owed $20,000 by his sports betting ring is invoking South Carolina’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Brett Parker’s attorney, Dave Fedor, argued in a court motion Friday that Parker can’t be prosecuted because of the state law allowing a person who fears for his life to use deadly force. A similar law in Florida gained notoriety during the coverage of the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin.
Parker has said that Bryan Capnerhurst, 46, came to his $760,000 home and shot his 44-year-old wife, Tammy, in an upstairs room. Brett Parker said after hearing the shots he ran upstairs and was confronted by Capnerhurst, who pointed a gun at him and ordered him to get money from a safe in the room. Parker said he knelt down, grabbed a gun hidden on top of the safe, and fatally shot Capnerhurst.
But authorities say forensic testing, cellphone records, surveillance video and other evidence don’t back up Parker’s story.
Prosecutors say Parker killed his wife to try to collect more than $1 million in insurance money and retirement accounts. Investigators say Parker ran a gambling operation from his home and Capnerhurst came to the house to collect about $20,000 from bets.
Three men have been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty last year to running a gambling operation that collected thousands of dollars a day. Eleven other men have been arrested as Richland County sheriff’s deputies investigate the sports betting operation that was revealed after the double homicide last April.
Brett Parker faces a federal charge of operating an illegal gambling business. He could face the death penalty if convicted of double murder.
The “stand your ground” motion will delay the trial scheduled to start May 6. The motion will have to be heard by a judge, Fedor said, and the subsequent ruling could then be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Smuggler caught at airport with four gold bars in his socks and eight up his ass

Customs officials arrested a 50-year-old man at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, southern India, and seized 1.4 kilos of gold from his possession on Wednesday morning. The man, identified as Abdullah Mohammad Riyaz, said he had taken a flight from Chennai to Dubai only to stay there for three hours before he took another flight back to Hyderabad.
Sources said Riyaz, who had travelled abroad at least 100 times probably to carry out similar operations, was found carrying four gold biscuits weighing 116 gm each in his socks and eight similar gold biscuits in his rectum, with a market value of Rs4 million (£49,000, $74,000).

Stating that they were still interrogating Riyaz, the Customs officials said they had received a tip-off about the smuggling attempt. “We intercepted him when he tried to exit through the Green Channel,” the officials said, adding that after they recovered the gold biscuits from the socks, Riyaz said that was all he had on his person.

The Customs officials, however, got suspicious when they saw Riyaz’s discomfort while sitting, which prompted them to conduct an intense body search leading to the recovery of the gold biscuits from his rectum. With the duty payable on the gold amounting to Rs1 million, the officials arrested him under Section 135 of the Customs Act since the duty evaded was more than Rs500,000.

Woman told she was 'too fat' to tan by salon

A woman was told she was too fat to tan at a tanning salon. Kelly McGrevey said she purchased a tanning package at Aloha Tanning in Norton, Ohio, on Monday after a quick tour of the salon. On Monday, McGrevey tanned in a standup bed.

Random Photo


Beautiful Louise Brooks Love Moments

Heavy Texters Are Shallow, Racist

New study suggests that heavy texters are less likely to value living an ethical, principled life.

GMOs: The Walking Dead of the Food Industry

Some startling facts and figures about genetically modified organisms... More

Brain Development Is Guided by Junk DNA that Isn’t Really Junk

Specific DNA once dismissed as junk plays an important role in brain development and might be involved in several devastating neurological diseases, UC San Francisco scientists have found. Their discovery in mice is likely to [...]

Under the Microscope

So what do you know? Snow is made of teeny little snowflakes and sharks are just slithering gobs of goddamn teeth.


Sunday, April 21

How Parenting Advice has Changed

vRaising a baby means getting advice from those who supposedly know more than you do -and in the 19th century, there were no shortage of experts to sell you a book. But even the most commonly-followed advice seems strange to us now.
From the day of birth, schedules and strict discipline were of deep importance. This baby was to interfere as little as possible with your life. Affection was to be restricted, with care instructions more fitting a ficus than a child. From 1916's The Mother and her Child by Drs. Lena and William Sadler: "Handle the baby as little as possible. Turn it occasionally from side to side, feed it, change it, keep it warm, and let it alone; crying is absolutely essential to the development of good strong lungs. A baby should cry vigorously several times each day."

As the child grew, regulated contact could be tolerated. "At the age of two weeks, the child may be systematically carried about in the arms 2 to 3 times a day, as a means of furnishing additional change in position," is the precise advice of Dr. JP Crozer Griffith in 1900.
That appears cruel and unnecessary to us today, but if you dig a little deeper, there are reasons that they seemed like a good idea at the time. An article at the Atlantic tells the reasons why such advice might not have been "stupid" after all. More 

A History of "Trial By Ordeal"

Once upon a time, "trial by fire" was a literal trial, with literal fire. The idea was that if an accused criminal were subjected to mortal danger, such as a fire, divine intervention would save the truly innocent. These were called trial by ordeal, and in some ways it made sense.
Of course, the system was far from foolproof; many of the trials were easily manipulated by the administering judges (or priests) to “prove” a verdict that they thought was correct. Still, some authors, such as George Mason University economist Peter Leeson, say that in a society that unflinchingly believes in the efficacy of these trials, the ordeals and ordealists would have resulted in the “correct” verdict more often than not. After all, if a person was guilty, but believed that the trials always showed the truth, they’d be unlikely to be willing to undergo them—the punishment for pleading guilty was almost always far more lenient than the punishment for being “shown” to be guilty under trial by ordeal.
There were many different ordeals used to separate the innocent from the guilty -burning, poisoning, drowning, torture- and specific procedures for each that you can read about here.

Awesome Pictures

Grassy field in Florida was once secret CIA base from which Guatemalan coup was launched

There's a fascinating article in the Miami Herald today about a grassy field in Opalocka, Florida which was the site of the secret CIA base where the US-led coup of Guatemala was launched in 1953.
60 years ago on that very spot was Building 67, a two-story barracks, that in 1953 and 1954 served as CIA field headquarters for the covert operation that overthrew leftist Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. It was there that several senior CIA officers labored for months organizing the intricate logistical details of PBSUCCESS, the code name for the anti-Arbenz operation. Among the officers who worked at Building 67 was E. Howard Hunt, who later went on to help engineer the 1972 Watergate burglary as one of the White House plumbers. What happened at Building 67 was known at the time only to a very small circle of people, but the impact of the 1953-54 operation dramatically altered the history of South Florida and the United States.
Well, yes, and not to mention the history of Guatemala. The operation set off a series of catastrophic events that still affect the country today. I'm blogging this from Guatemala, where the genocide trial of former de facto dictator and ex-general Rios Montt is now in its second month. Montt was supported by and trained in the US. The successful overthrow of Arbenz from this clandestine Florida site emboldened the CIA "to try a similar operation, though on a larger scale, at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs." Read more here. And there is video here.

Play Black Sabbath Music to Make Your Plants Grow

Black Sabbath
Chris Beardshaw, an award-winning gardener and television show host, says that playing heavy metal music to plants helps them grow. Specifically, he suggests playing a lot of Black Sabbath:
Beardshaw, a familiar face on BBC2's Gardener's World over the years, said using rock music as a nutrient appeared to create larger flowers. Although the plants themselves were shorter, they were more disease-resistant.
The test came about because one of his horticultural students wanted to write a dissertation on the effects of music on plants.
"We set up four glasshouses with different sorts of music in to see what happened to the plants," Beardshaw said.
"We had one that was silent - that was a control house - and we had one that was played classical music, we had one that was played Cliff Richard and we had one that was played Black Sabbath.
"And the ones with Black Sabbath - great big, thumping noise, rowdy music - they were the shortest, but they had the best flowers and the best resistance to pest and disease.

A "grass tree"

Found only in Australia, all 28 species of grass trees are perennial, slow-growing plants belonging to the ancient genus Xanthorrhoea. Some species produce aboveground trunks, while others do not. A grass tree’s trunk is a cylinder formed from tightly packed leaf bases... The leaves of grass trees with trunks obtain water and nutrients via aerial roots that pass down through the open core of the trunk to the ground... Bushfires blacken the trunks of grass trees, but don’t kill the plants. Like many species of eucalyptus trees, grass trees possess highly resinous leaves and exist in an intimate relationship with fire, depending on it for their survival. Flowering is stimulated by fire.

Upping the Cute Factor

Surrogate mom

Tortoise who defied Hitler came back from the dead

A tortoise who survived Nazi attacks and a blazing bonfire was feared to have finally met his match in this year’s snow – until he made a miraculous recovery. Carey and David Miller believed their beloved pet reptile Adolf was dead after he was caught in late snowfall in their north London garden while they visited their son in New York.
His inert shell was discovered and taken inside by grandson Jake, eight, where it remained without a hint of life for the next month. But last Sunday, the Millers took him outside into the sunshine to see if the warmth might revive him. “We thought he was dead,” said Mrs Miller. “He was inert. We thought that was it. It was only on Sunday we took him out of the box and his head gradually came out. We were ecstatic!”

It is the latest in a long line of brushes with death for the tortoise whose actual age is unknown, but he is at least 70. His current owners were told that he was discovered crawling in a crater caused by a parachute mine which had destroyed three houses in 1942. He was adopted by the neighbours and named William, remaining happily with them until the Millers bought the house 35 years ago. They renamed him Adolf, in honour of surviving the Nazi attack, and he became a much-loved family pet.

However, it seems Adolf was not destined to live a quiet life. He has gone missing from the garden four or five times, giving the family a fright. Then there was the time Adolf thought he had found a good place for a nap – only to be woken up as the bonfire above him was lit. “My husband set fire to him accidentally – he lost a huge lump from his shell,” said Mrs Miller. Luckily, his shell grew back, and Adolf looks set to enjoy many more years of adventures.

Bar-coded Ants

How do you track the movement of hundreds or thousands of ants in a colony? With barcodes, of course! A team of Swiss scientists glued barcodes to hundreds of individual ants to record their movement to shed some light on the complexity of ant colonies:
Not surprisingly, the researchers found out that ants divide and conquer. They found three main groups of workers—one tends the young, another forages for food, and a third keeps the nest clean. Other studies have documented this segregation of labor before, but Mersch et al wanted to figure out how the ants know which groups they belong to. [...]
These researchers suspected that age might play a role in the division of labor, but it’s not easy to figure out how old an ant is. Instead, the researchers spent 60 weeks in advance of the experiment tagging the ants as they emerged from their pupal state—each week got its own color code.
Analyzing the color codes, they found that younger ants were more likely to work nursing the young, and older ants were more likely to be foragers. In general, they watched ants transition from nursing to cleaning to foraging as they age, but there’s a lot of individual variation in how quickly these transitions took place.
Kate Prengaman of Ars Technica has the post: Here.

Rare New Guinea Singing Dog Snapped in the Wilds of West Papua

An expedition into one of the most remote areas on Earth has shed new light on the fate of the New Guinea singing dog – one of the world's rarest canines. More

An Elephant Seal Scratches Its Head

Two things we learn from this cute photo by Mike Gin, who submitted his shot to National Geographic:
1. Elephant seals have fingers on their flippers (they even have fingernails)
2. It's useless to ask them questions. They only scratch their heads and say, "I dunno!"

River rescue lamb at center of custody battle

A schoolgirl who saved a newborn lamb from drowning is embroiled in a row with a farmer who has launched a legal battle to reclaim the animal. Kirsty Finnie, 15, pulled the creature from a river in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, and nursed him back to health before handing him over to an animal sanctuary. Now farmer John McIrvine has instructed lawyers to demand the return of the lamb, christened River, which he claimed had been stolen. He described the Willows sanctuary as a "funny farm" and said: "River has a future as a breeding ram, not spending his time castrated with a goat and a pony." The row began after Kirsty, from Peterculter, rescued the young animal from a river in Banchory on April 8.

She told Willows Animal Sanctuary, near Strichen: "I went into the river and pulled it out, by that time it had given up. I carried it back to the caravan, wrapped it in a towel and put a heater on. It recovered but was very weak. We couldn't see any sheep nearby so we think it had been swept down the river. It doesn't have any tags and still had a bit of its umbilical cord. We took it to our house in Peterculter. We looked up online how we should look after it. We have been feeding him 150ml of goats milk every four hours from a babies bottle. We decided it would be best to put him to Willow Animal Sanctuary so he could live a happy contented life. We found out that he is a male black faced sheep."

Staff said River has become an instant attraction at the sanctuary and is particularly popular with disabled visitors. But now he is at the center of a tug-of-love battle between the charity - which is determined to keep him - and farmer John McIrvine, who wants his lamb back. Charity trustee Kate Robinson said: "Young Kirsty risked her own life to rescue River and she is determined he should be allowed to stay where he is. People would be heartbroken if we had to give him away. What we want to do is appeal to the farmer's good side and ask him to let River stay with us. If he wasn't saved by Kirsty in the first place, he would have been lost for ever. We're hoping he can see things our way." A Willows spokeswoman said: "We are hoping that we can appeal to his better nature and are asking him to leave the lamb here where it is much loved by all our vulnerable people.

"We do not have a problem with farmers at all. We simply want what's best for River. We are well aware of how to care for lambs and sheep correctly and can assure you all that he receives the best possible care from us and our vets. We hope that the farmer will allow us to keep him here as our vulnerable clients are already deeply attached to him and the matter is in the hands of our solicitors." Mr McIrvine said he accepted that he was being portrayed as the “villain of the piece”. But he insisted: “This situation can be resolved. I have offered the sanctuary a donation and offered a replacement lamb that doesn’t have the same breeding potential. But they don’t want to know and that’s where we’ve got an issue. And if this lamb is castrated we are going into litigation. It is my living and I need the lamb.”

There's a news video here.

Animal Pictures