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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, May 4, 2013

The Daily Drift


Purpose Majesty: Grand Tetons, WY (by Mike Blanchette)
Purple Mountain's Majesty

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

Well, someone has to do it!  ...

Today is Tuba Day 

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Today in History

1471   In England, the Yorkists defeat the Landcastians at the battle of Tewkesbury.
1626   Indians sell Manhattan Island for $24 in cloth and buttons.
1715   A French manufacturer debuts the first folding umbrella.
1776   Rhode Island declares independence from England.
1795   Thousands of rioters enter jails in Lyons, France, and massacre 99 Jacobin prisoners.
1814   Napoleon Bonaparte disembarks at Portoferraio on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean.
1863   The Battle of Chancellorsville ends when Union Army retreats.
1864   Union General Ulysses S. Grant's forces cross the Rapidan River and meet Robert E. Lee's Confederate army.
1927   A balloon soars over 40,000 feet for the first time.
1930   Mahatma Gandhi is arrested by the British.
1942   The Battle of the Coral Sea commences.
1942   The United States begins food rationing.
1961   13 civil rights activists, dubbed Freedom Riders, begin a bus trip through the South.
1970   Ohio National Guardsmen open fire on student protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others.

Non Sequitur


Homemade Thor's hammer with an 80,000 volt Tesla coil in it

Not content with a "crappy plastic Thor's hammer," Caleb from Hackaday made himself a Tesla-coil-equipped Mjolnir with a tiny, 80,000 volt Tesla coil in its head. It shoots lightning! Lots of built photos on the Hackaday site, too.
I had seen some videos of [Staci Elaan] showing off her battery-powered coils and I really liked her results. I figured, with her experience, she could probably do a better job than I could on getting the most bang out of a small package. She was happy to be involved and delivered a small 12v powered coil for me to work with. I should also point out that the coils [Staci] makes are usually donated to educational groups. This woman is awesome.
She had built this big flat head on it, with the initial plan being that it would be the front “face” of the hammer. It didn’t really work out that way though. I ended up having to increase the size of the head a bit and change the orientation of the coil. I experimented with different types of foam and you can see in the “making of” video what I finally ended up using. The blue insulation board you see in the pictures melted way too easily.

The 10 Most Exciting Rescues in History

vHistory and current events can sometimes be more exciting, more suspenseful, and end more satisfying than anything Hollywood could dream up. But then again, it has to more exciting because it really happened, like the rescue of 500 POWs from the Cabanatuan prison camp.
It’s known as the most epic and complex mission of World War II. In January, 1945, 121 volunteer U.S. Army Rangers set out to rescue more than 500 allied prisoners of war who had already survived the Bataan Death March, a brutal multi-day forced walk through the searing heat of the Philippine jungles. Thousands of men died. Those who didn’t were imprisoned in the notoriously brutal camp, Cabanatuan.

To free their fellow soldiers, the Rangers snuck behind enemy lines and launched a surprise attack on the Japanese. The assault lasted 30 minutes and freed hundreds of soldiers, with minimal American casualties. The mission was chronicled in Hampton Sides’ 2002 bestseller "Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission."
This is just one of ten great rescues, some you may recall from your lifetime, others you may have seen in a movie, and some that may be news to you, in a list at Discovery News.

Who Has Your Back?

When you use the Internet, you entrust your conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what do these companies do when the government demands your private information? Do they stand with you? Do they let you know what's going on?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (an international non-profit digital rights group based in the United States) examined the policies of major Internet companies, including ISPs, email providers, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites, to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data.

Five Places To Look For Your Digital Footprint

Recently, many iPhone and iPad users were incensed to learn that Siri - the personal digital assistant for iOS devices - has an eerily long memory. Unbeknownst to Apple customers, Siri sends all your queries directly to Apple's company’s servers, where it is kept for two years before being deleted.

It's actually not really shocking. Data retention policies have been aggravating Internet and cellphone users for years now. Shrinking your digital footprint requires a lot of diligence, but if you'd like to get started then it helps to know which companies are hoarding your data and how long they intend to hold onto it.

The truth hurts

Friday, May 3

Did you know ...

That unemployment falls to the lowest number in 5 years

That a teacher was suspended for showing his class gardening tools

Texas fertilizer plant explosions: regulation costs vs. clean-up costs

That time may be on Howard Kurtz's side, but Newsweek isn't (neither is the Daily Beast)!

The repugican Census Bill Would Eliminate America's Economic Indicators

Gop Census
Rep. Jeff Duncan has introduced a bill to stop nearly all U.S. Census surveys.

A group of repugicans are cooking up legislation that could give President Barack Obama an unintentional assist with disagreeable unemployment numbers -- by eliminating the key economic statistic altogether.
The bill, introduced last week by Rep. Jeff Duncan (r-S.C.), would bar the U.S. Census Bureau from conducting nearly all surveys except for a decennial population count. Such a step that would end the government's ability to provide reliable estimates of the employment rate. Indeed, the government would not be able to produce any of the major economic indices that move markets every month, said multiple statistics experts, who were aghast at the proposal.
"They simply wouldn't exist. We won't have an unemployment rate," said Ken Prewitt, the former director of the U.S. Census who is now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University.
"I don't know how the market reacts if there is suddenly no unemployment rate at the start of the month," Prewitt said. "How does the market react if we don't have a GDP [gross domestic product]?"
"Do they understand that these data that the Census Bureau collects are fundamental to everything else that's done?" asked Maurine Haver, founder of business research firm Haver Analytics and a past president of the National Association for Business Economics. "They think the country doesn't need to know how many people are unemployed, either?"
A spokesman for Duncan declined to explain why the congressman wants to eliminate such data or even whether he understands that the data would be compromised by his bill, which has 10 co-sponsors.
But the proposed Census Reform Act is explicit in its intent to end nearly every survey the Census conducts, mandating the "repeal" of the nation's agricultural census, economic census, government census and mid-decade census. It would also bar the bureau from carrying out the American Community Survey (ACS), which the House voted last year to end, although the Senate let that measure die.
There is very little done by the government or big businesses that does not at some level depend on the reams of information provided by the Census surveys, from writing regulations and distributing federal services to rolling out new products and finding customers. The ACS is an ongoing survey that collects data every month, instead of every 10 years, so that governments and businesses have current information.
The primary motivation for the bill appears to be striking down the ACS, which Duncan spokesman Allen Klump said had been the subject of numerous constituent complaints as overly intrusive.
Independent observers had a hard time wrapping their minds around the legislation.
"This learning is valuable in so many ways -- in terms of helping the government allocate resources, allowing researchers to deepen our understanding of our social and cultural life, allowing business to make decisions about how to target customers and thereby become more profitable, and so on," said John Sides, a professor of political science at George Washington University.
"It's hard to take this seriously because they're really saying also they don't want GDP. They want no facts about what's going on in the U.S. economy," said Haver. "It's so fundamental to a free society that we have this kind of information, I can't fathom where they're coming from. I really can't."
"It's so unimaginable. It would be like saying we don't need policemen anymore, we don't need firemen anymore," said Prewitt. "To say suddenly we don't need statistical information about the American economy, or American society, or American demography, or American trade, or whatever -- it's an Alice in Wonderland moment."
Haver said she understands that a certain segment of American society distrusts the government and thinks the Census Bureau gathers data as some sort of prelude to dictatorship. But she noted that the information gathered is often anything but helpful to authorities.
"If it were Obama's dictatorship... I don't think it would have been in his interests seeking reelection to have put out data that showed the economy actually worsened under his presidency," Haver said.
"It's these government surveys that have told us the truth about what happened," she added. "I'm sure the people running [Obama's] campaign would have loved the unemployment rate to have been 2 percent. If we didn't have any figures, they could have said it was 2 percent."
Just as the House effort to stop the ACS went nowhere in the Senate last year, the current bill looks similarly likely to die there.
But supporters of the Census Bureau and of government-backed science are acutely aware that pieces of such measures have a way of getting attached to higher-priority legislation. In March, a measure from Sen. Tom Coburn (r-Okla.) that bars the National Science Foundation from doing political science research this year slid through the Senate attached to legislation to keep the government running.
And Duncan's bill comes as Congress has already proposed slashing the Census budget 13 percent below the president's request, and the bureau lacks a director to complain. There is also no secretary or deputy secretary at the Commerce Department, which oversees the bureau and would generally advocate its cause in Congress.
Haver suspects the move to ban data is essentially a sop to the wingnut base.
"There are those users of the data, like myself, who say this is so crazy, they just couldn't possibly believe it, so it has to be something they're just throwing out there because they want to be able to cite it in some tea party affair someplace," she said.
Haver also suggested there is a fundamental divide between people who are interested in solid, reality-based data and those who are not.
"If you know what you think, you don't need information to help you assess what's going on," she said. "The people that need information are the people who use it because they really want the truth, not people who think that because they believe it, it becomes the truth."

UPDATE: Wednesday, May 1 -- Rep. Duncan's office responded to reports of his bill on Wednesday afternoon, arguing that government surveys should be voluntary and driven by industry. He said, "It's perfectly reasonable for someone to be hesitant to share their personal information with the government."
Read Duncan's press release:
WASHINGTON, DC -- Recently, Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina introduced HR 1638, The Census Reform Act of 2013. This bill aims to repeal the authority of the government to conduct mandatory and invasive census surveys. Congressman Duncan stated that many of his constituents believe the surveys are invasive and ask too many personal questions. Current US law states if an individual fails to fill out these surveys, they can face fines up to $5,000. Duncan's legislation would eliminate these surveys and encourage a less invasive method of information gathering. "These surveys amount to legalized government harassment," said Duncan. "Right now the Census Bureau can ask citizens very invasive questions, and if they don't respond, the government shows up at their door and threatens them with a fine. Americans are fed up with these mandatory census surveys and they're asking us to stop the harassment."
While the fines are certainly a source of concern, others are worried about protecting their privacy. "While the Census Bureau already has a legal obligation to keep people's information confidential, we all know that in an age of cyber attacks and computer hacking that ensuring people's privacy can be difficult," Duncan said. "It's perfectly reasonable for someone to be hesitant to share their personal information with the government. The Census Bureau shouldn't be forcing anyone to share the route they take their kids to school, or any information other than how many people live in their home."
Unfortunately, South Carolinians are keenly aware of what can happen when government records fall into the wrong hands after over four million social security numbers, tax records and 387,000 credit/debit card numbers were stolen from the SC Department of Revenue last year by hackers; it remains the nation's largest hacking of a state agency.
Those who oppose Duncan's legislation claim that our nation would miss out on vital economic data. Duncan objects to this contention, and believes there are other ways to gather information that does not involve harassing or threatening individuals to turn over personal data. "As a former small business owner, I recognize that some economic data gathering is beneficial. However, it should be voluntary, industry driven, and not mandated by the government under penalty of law. I'm confident in our ability to develop innovative ways to gather information without harassing people, invading their privacy, or threatening them with fines. Americans are tired of too much government meddling in their daily lives."
Duncan said the inspiration of this bill came from multiple complaints from constituents in South Carolina since he has taken office. "One of my most important responsibilities is to listen. This is a major concern that people are sharing with representatives across the country, and I want them to know that their concerns are valid and being addressed. At the end of the day, we need to look at ways of gathering economic data that protects taxpayer's wallets and their personal privacy."

Follow the Money ...

... And You’ll Find Koch Dollars At the Root Of the Calls for Armed Revolution Against Obama
The concept of America as a representative democracy has worked relatively well for over 2 centuries, and it is ultimately superior to other forms of government that are oppressive and despotic; Americans can thank the Founding Fathers for protecting this country from becoming an authoritarian dictatorship. It is difficult to imagine many Americans agreeing to abandon democracy for another form of government, but there are a frightening number of citizens who hate America’s representative democracy with such passion that they are leaning heavily toward overthrowing the government and installing a fascist dictatorship. The group in question is not an extremist militia organization and they are not  concealing their plans from plain view, and in fact, have begun the transition to fascism from within the conservative movement with full cooperation and assistance from establishment repugicans in Congress and state legislatures around the nation.
The idea that America’s democratic form of government could fall to an authoritarian regime began taking shape shortly after the election of Barack Obama, and after a little over four years of constant propaganda by repugican politicians incensed that their reign came to an end in 2009, almost half of repugicans believe “an armed revolution might be necessary to protect our liberties.” A recent poll reveals that it is worse than it seems because more repugicans believe armed revolution might be necessary to overthrow the legally elected government than believe is not required, and repugican politicians have been hard at work inciting their base and putting the brakes on democracy since January 2009.
On Tuesday, a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll revealed that despotism is rampant among the repugican rank and file who are following the lead of repugicans in Congress who have taken extraordinary steps to bring America’s democracy to a halt through not-so-devious machinations and with stunning impunity. In the Senate, for example, the inordinate use of the filibuster has given minority repugicans control of the upper legislative chamber, and around the nation repugican-controlled states are taking extraordinary steps to bring an end to free and fair elections for non-repugican voters. If Americans are foolish enough to believe the repugican’s use of armed revolution to install a permanent repugican government is predicated on the right to unrestricted firearm possession, democracy is already doomed and all that is left is ceding control of the government to the Koch brothers and their fascist regime.
The idea of using violent force to prevent democratically elected government from operating according to the will of the people began when the Koch brothers’ funded teabaggers brought signs to rallies claimingwe came unarmed this time” during the healthcare reform debate throughout 2009. The repugicans and wingnut talking heads inflamed wingnuts with claims their liberties were being infringed up to the time the U.S. Congress passed a law helping 40 million Americans have access to healthcare insurance, and despite the Supreme Court ruling the Affordable Care Act was Constitutional, repugicans are angrier than ever that democracy worked and 44% of them think “armed revolution might be necessary” to protect their liberty. However, healthcare for millions is not the only repugican claim of an assault on their liberties as evidenced by repugican claims their liberties are infringed because the Constitution prevents them from imposing religious edicts on the people. Nearly half of repugicans believe armed revolution might be necessary to enforce christianity on the population. In repubgican-controlled states, the loss in two general elections enraged repugicans who tasked the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to write template legislation restricting Democratic-leaning voters from exercising their right to vote, and because the Department of Justice enforces the right to vote it is interpreted as an infringement of repugicans’ liberties;  their solution is “armed revolution” to “protect their liberty” to eliminate voting rights.
The repugican politicians are the primary drivers of the rise in threats of “armed revolution” against the government because if they cannot rule by religious and Koch brother edict, or get their way through the electoral process, then violent insurrection is their solution. The idea of using gun violence reared its ugly head when failed senatorial candidate Sharon Angles said the “public would bring down the out-of-control (Democratic) Congress with Second Amendment remedies” because they were part of “the tyrannical U.S. government,” and made particular mention of her opponent, Majority Leader Harry Reid. Michelle Bachmann said she wanted residents of her state “armed and dangerous” to oppose President Obama’s “because we need to fight back and do everything we can to thwart Democrats at every turn to make sure they aren’t able to secure a power base.” Last year, the Virginia repugican cabal called forarmed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November,” because they claimed President Obama was a “political socialist ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized.” The repugicans began claiming everything associated with the Obama Administration was a “government takeover” and infringement on repugicans’ liberties beginning in 2009, and it is close to bearing fruit now that half of repugicans support armed revolution against the democratically elected government, and it is all because repugicans are not allowed to rule.
What the repugican threats of armed revolution really expose is that anything outside the wingnut agenda, whether it is gay rights, contraception, clean air regulations, free and fair elections, immigration, or freedom from religious imposition is an assault on their liberty and more than enough reason for “armed revolution” against the government. The threats, all of them, have been incited by leading repugicans in Congress and statehouses who have used fear mongering and vitriol to encourage armed insurrection that, like during America’s Civil War, began with nullification infecting Southern states and spreading so that now, nearly half of all  repugicans have made their chosen form of government fascism, and not democracy. America has survived for over 230 years because democracy is the greatest form of government, and in the course of four years, because the people chose a Democratic President, nearly half of all repugicans believe “armed revolution might be necessary to protect their liberty” to impose an authoritarian and despotic regime.

Austerity Isn’t Working So repugicans Call for More Economic Failure

One of the signs of intelligence is learning that a certain action is ill-advised, and detrimental, and stopping and never repeating it again. Animals understand this simple concept as a matter of survival, and one would expect human beings would at least be a little more intelligent than animals, but history is rife with stories of morons repeating their, and others, mistakes regardless they will never get a different result.  After the devastation wrought by the 2008 economic downturn and subsequent worldwide recession, the European Union was certain that if they pursued a path of austerity and slashed government spending, their economies would recover quickly and prosperity would ensue by cutting government spending to reduce debt and deficits.
With a new President that listened to economic experts’ warnings that austerity during a recession would slow growth, kill more jobs, and perpetuate recession, America took a different path under President Obama and injected a small stimulus that staunched job losses and put the economy on a path of recovery. After five years of austerity and economic retardation, European nations have realized that austerity was a mistake and are calling for governments to abandon it and inject stimulus to encourage growth and reverse crushing unemployment. The repugicans however, being true wingnuts, are not only holding fast to Europe’s failing austerity economics, they are pushing for more in spite of the devastation Europeans are trying to correct.
The International Monetary Fund’s chief economist recently released a technical paper that noted “Forecasters significantly underestimated the increase in unemployment and the decline in private consumption and investment associated with fiscal consolidation (austerity),” and added that “they had corrected the forecasting error in the October 2012 World Economic Outlook.” The European Union’s president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said last week that the European Union was easing austerity policies and deficit reduction targets to help boost growth because the Eurozone’s unemployment rates continued to rise to another record high in March; overall,  12.1% of Europeans are now unemployed. Other European nations are exhibiting intelligence as well, and some, like officials in France and Italy are calling for total abandonment of austerity to save their nation’s economies from certain doom.
In France, officials charged that the entire debt-ridden continent needs to “stimulate growth at all costs,” including adding more debt if the region is going to ever climb out of the still on-going economic and financial crisis that began with repugicans’ crashing the world economy in 2008. In his first address to parliament, new Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, complained that “Italy is dying because of austerity alone. Stimulus policies can no longer wait,” and in Spain, the economy contracted for the seventh consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2013, and like the rest of austerity-crippled Europe, growth is stagnant or non-existent. Even European leaders who are not yet ready to abandoned austerity altogether are considering it to help countries like Spain and Greece whose unemployment rates are over 27 % , and although not as intelligent as French and Italian officials, they are at least seriously contemplating ending austerity.
What is interesting, is that although American leadership is pushing Europe to consider ending devastating austerity measures because Europe is America’s number one trading partner, repugican lawmakers are still laser-focused on retarding growth and increasing unemployment by continuing to pursue debt and deficit reduction with deeper cuts than the sequester because it guts vital programs and retards economic growth. If Americans have learned anything over the past four years, it is that Republicans are not interested in any policy that might help the economy, create jobs, and spare Americans the damage European residents have suffered for the past five years.  The repugicans are in league with wingnuts in England and Germany who, despite slow or negative growth and higher unemployment, are unwilling to admit austerity is a monumental failure and want the process run its course and send the economy into recession on the way to decimating what is left of America’s pitiful safety nets.
The one readily obvious fact is that every nation under conservative control, including the United States, is still pushing deeper austerity that kills jobs, retards growth, and sends millions of their residents into poverty. In fact, the only Western nation that stopped the recession and turned the economy around after the 2008 economic crash was America because President Obama’s stimulus put America’s growth on a faster pace than Europe hoped to experienced, but since 2011 when repugicans took control of the House, deficit reduction frenzy and  austerity succeeded in preventing economic recovery from taking full effect. As the full force of spending cuts and debt reduction damage began in earnest last year, repugicans began clamoring for more. The repugicans, like European wingnuts, have not shown the intelligence any animal possesses and instead of learning their actions are ill-advised and creating suffering for the people, are bound and determined to repeat the same mistakes Europeans made except repugicans know the outcome will not be any different and will celebrate higher unemployment and slow economic growth the same way they have with sequester cuts.
The only reason America’s economy recovered and stopped hemorrhaging jobs was because of the President’s government spending (stimulus) that has typically driven economic recoveries in America over the years. However, recovery began to plateau, and in fact slowed, since repugicans convinced President Obama and Democrats that there was a phony debt crisis with stunts such as the debt ceiling debacle that set debt and deficit reduction frenzy in motion the nation is suffering today. The repugicans have never had a view towards helping perpetuate the recovery, and have made every effort to stop it in its tracks with programs like the jobs and economy retarding sequester. The repugicans know, like European leaders are realizing, that austerity is an economy-damaging policy, and that President Obama’s stimulus created the economic recovery that eluded Europeans until they realized their mistake and began exploring steps to correct them. The repugicans however, learned Europe’s austerity mistakes destroyed jobs and halted economic growth and are actively pursuing ways to repeat them and it is not because they lack intelligence, it is because they hate America.

Police warn about fake 30 Euro notes

A German corner shop owner saw some of his profits disappear after he accepted payment for a pack of cigarettes with a non-existent 30 Euro note.
Euro notes come in denominations of 10, 20 and 50, leaving police puzzled as to why the fraudster chose to increase the risk of being caught by printing a non-existent 30 Euro note. The man even got 20 Euro in change from the storekeeper in North Rhine-Westphalia before getting on his bike and cycling off.

Police said that the note may have been created as a joke but it could have serious consequences if they manage to catch the person that had used it to buy the cigarettes. Police spokesman Martin Meyer said: "Using counterfeit notes is a serious offense, usually punishable with a jail term for anyone found proven to have faked currency - even such a poor quality fake as this one."

The fraud only came to light because the man seemed nervous in paying and left the shop in a hurry – prompting the storekeeper to take a closer look at the note and then realize that the 30 Euro note didn't exist. He said: "It was embarrassing but I was in a rush, and was easily distracted that day by all the customers. I tried to chase after him but he was very quickly gone."

Man took 'Finders Keepers' store sign literally

A man accused of taking items from a Derry, New Hampshire store is trying to clear his name, saying that he was confused by the name of the store: Finders Keepers. Police said Ruben Pavon was shown on surveillance video taking a grill from the porch of the Finders Keepers thrift shop. "I grabbed the box," Pavon said. "It was a fire pit, something like that. It turned into a grill, and I took it home."

Pavon admitted that it wasn't the first time he had taken something from there, but he said he thought the items were free. "I just grabbed one. I thought it was there for the taking," he said. "The sign did say 'Finders Keepers.' So I took that DVD player, took it home. A couple of weeks later, the stuff is still there on the porch, so I'm thinking to myself, 'Finders Keepers. They probably just put stuff out there for people to take.'"

The store's owner, Laura Barker, said she doesn't buy Pavon's claim. "I don't know of any stores where there's free stuff," she said. "It would be nice if there were. I'd be there on a regular basis myself." Barker said Pavon could have asked to verify his assumptions. "I've never seen him in the store," she said. "He didn't appear to try and open the door to see if we were open, if anybody was there, if anyone was even there to help him load it. Because the lights were off. So I assume he knew that nobody was there."

The video also shows a child helping Pavon carry the box off the porch, police said. Pavon said he's not a bad person. "I just want to clear my name and say I'm not a bad dad," he said. "I'm the best dad in the world." Proceeds from items that are sold at Finders Keepers go to charities for children and U.S. troops. Pavon has returned what was taken. Derry police said they are still investigating, and there's no word if there will be criminal charges.

Mother missing for 11 years turns herself in

NewImage Eleven years ago, Brenda Heist of central Pennsylvania vanished. She had dropped off her kids, then 8 and 12, at school. Dinner was defrosting. Laundry was half-done. And then she was gone without a trace. There was a long investigation. Her husband was considered a suspect at one point. Eventually, she was declared dead. Then last week, Heist walked up to police in South Florida and told them who she was. Not surprisingly, her children aren't ready to forgive her. From CBS News:
It began when three strangers reached out to comfort (Heist) as she cried in despair in a park in 2002, then offered to let her accompany them. She took them up on it…
Heist decided to join the three strangers as they hitchhiked for a month along Interstate 95 on their way to South Florida. She told (Lititz Borough Police Detective John Schofield) she slept in tents and under bridges, survived by scavenging restaurant trash and panhandling, and kept her previous life a secret, contacting no one and using a pseudonym.
Now 54, Heist told police she spent seven years living with a man in a camper and working odd jobs, but more recently she was homeless again, living in a tent facility run by a social service agency.
"She said she was at the end of her rope, she was tired of running," Schofield said.

Turkish Airlines bars staff from wearing lipstick

Europe's fourth-largest airline said the ban was aimed at keeping crews "artless and well-groomed with makeup in pastel tones", reports Ayla Jean Yackley; Turkey's move toward a more conservative brand of Islam has secularists concerned.



The Cost to Feed a Family of Four with Healthy Food?

$146 to $289 a Week

My Twinkies bill alone is more than that! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of feeding a family of four with a healthy diet ranges from $146 to $289 a week:
The USDA uses national food intake data and grocery price information to calculate different costs for a healthy diet at home. The latest numbers for a four-member family: a thrifty food plan, $146 a week; a low-cost food plan, $191 a week; a moderate-cost plan, $239; a liberal plan, $289 a week. Some food waste is built into these costs.
"We constantly hear the claim that you can't eat healthy on a budget, and to us that's a myth because a family can eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables that meets the Dietary Guidelines for Americans," says Robert Post, associate executive director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Find out more over at this USA Today article by Nanci Hellmich: Here.

Evolution, pregnancy, and food

The populations at lowest risk for developing gestational diabetes — namely, ladies of European decent — come from cultures that eat (and have eaten, for thousands of years) dairy and wheat-heavy diets that would, normally, increase your risk. Meanwhile, writes Carl Zimmer at The Loom, Bangladeshi women, who have one of the highest risks for gestational diabetes, come from a culture that traditionally ate a low-carb, low-sugar diet. What's going on here? The answer might lie in evolution. It's a particularly interesting read given the ongoing pop-culture debate about whether 10,000 years is enough time for humans to adapt to eating certain foods. This data on pregnant ladies would suggest the answer is, at least in some respects, yes. 

What neuroscientists think of the BRAIN Initiative

In general, they seem to like it. But with reservations. The Obama Administration's highly touted brain-mapping program — pitched as a neurological analog to the Human Genome Project — might be approaching the problem of how the brain works in the wrong way. In particular, if the Initiative only focuses on mapping activity in the brain, it's going to miss out on the ways activity and neural architecture work together to create a functioning system. 

Individual brain cells track where and how we move

Leaving the house in the morning may seem simple, but with every move we make, our brains are working feverishly to create maps of the outside world that allow us to navigate and to remember [...]

The Science of Hoarding

The next time your mom complains that you don't throw junk away, tell her that you're in good company: nearly 15 million people suffer from varying degrees of hoarding disorder. But what causes hoarding?
A few years ago, Samson (not his real name) unplugged his refrigerator. It had, he says, “got out of hand.” He didn’t empty it, and he hasn’t opened it since.
That's how Bonnie Tsui's journey to understanding the science of hoarding began:
In a National Public Radio interview a couple of years ago, Frost talked about the reasons hoarders might collect certain items: a decades-old newspaper because it could be useful in the future; an array of bottle caps purely for their fascinating physical characteristics; a seemingly insignificant postcard because it reminded the owner of a loved one or a specific event. Frost saw universality in the way the beliefs seem to be tied to information processing. “There are some problems with attention—that is, distractibility and sometimes a hyper focus, problems with categorization, the ability to organize things,” he explained. “People who hoard tend to live their lives visually and spatially instead of categorically, like the rest of us do.” One of his patients, Irene, would put an electricity bill on top of a pile; if she needed it again, she would remember where it was in space, rather than filing it away—mentally and physically—in a “bills” category.
“We don’t know the nature of the emotional attachments that people who hoard have to objects,” Frost told me. “How do they form, and why are they so? What are the vulnerabilities that lead up to it?”
Read the rest of Bonnie's article over at Pacific Standard Magazine.

Undergrad shows how Saturn magnetosphere changes with seasons

A University of Iowa undergraduate student has discovered that a process occurring in Saturn’s magnetosphere is linked to the planet’s seasons and changes with them, a finding that helps clarify the length of a Saturn [...]

Meteorite May Reveal Clues about Life on Mars

They're not only gorgeous, but these colorful microscopic minerals from a slice of a meteorite, may even reveal whether Mars once had sustained life:
... the team found mineral and chemical signatures on the rocks that indicated terrestrial weathering – changes that took place on Earth. The identification of these types of changes will provide valuable clues as scientists continue to examine the meteorites.
“Our contribution is to provide additional depth and a little broader view than some work has done before in sorting out those two kinds of water-related alterations – the ones that happened on Earth and the ones that happened on Mars,” Velbel said.

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Police found live alligator in car at college campus

A Tulsa, Oklahoma college student found with marijuana, prescription pills and a live alligator inside his campus-parked vehicle was arrested on Wednesday.

Officers found Tulsa Community College student Shane Allen passed out and slumped over the steering wheel of his Jeep at around 12:30pm at the school's south campus. Marijuana and three tablets of Xanax were also found next to the 21-year-old. But it was what police discovered in the back seat that they were likely most concerned about - a caged, bound, four and a half-foot alligator.

Tulsa police say Allen wasn't licensed to have exotic animals, and reportedly told authorities he borrowed the gator from a friend in Bristow. School officials say the student was most likely planning to bring it for a presentation, but don't know for sure. As for the alligator, it's currently in the hands of the state game warden until a proper place is designated for the animal.

"He'll be fine," said Carlos Gomez, Tulsa County state game warden, of the animal. "We'll get him in a safe holding place where he'll be comfortable for a few days and determine what's gonna be done with him and determine what will be done with the owners." Gomez says Allen, who's facing drug charges, could also face citations ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for being in possession of the alligator.

There are two additional news videos here.

Mouse model confirms how type 2 diabetes develops

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a new mouse model that answers the question of what actually happens in the body when type 2 diabetes develops and how the body responds to drug [...]

Digital Camera Based on a Bug's Eye

If one lens is good, then hundreds have got to be better! A team of researchers have created the world's first digital camera that mimic the compound eyes of bugs:
Taking cues from Mother Nature, the cameras exploit large arrays of tiny focusing lenses and miniaturized detectors in hemispherical layouts, just like eyes found in arthropods. The devices combine soft, rubbery optics with high performance silicon electronics and detectors, using ideas first established in research on skin and brain monitoring systems by John A. Rogers, a Swanlund Chair Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his collaborators.
“Full 180 degree fields of view with zero aberrations can only be accomplished with image sensors that adopt hemispherical layouts – much different than the planar CCD chips found in commercial cameras,” Rogers explained. “When implemented with large arrays of microlenses, each of which couples to an individual photodiode, this type of hemispherical design provides unmatched field of view and other powerful capabilities in imaging. Nature has developed and refined these concepts over the course of billions of years of evolution.”

Food Stamps for Pets

Pets may be the hidden victim of the sluggish economy. While humans can get food stamps to help them through a rough patch, but what about pets?
Enter Marc Okon, an entrepreneur who started a privately funded nonprofit called Pet Food Stamps that aims to help those already on government assistance to get free pet food:
The group has been swamped with more applications than his staff of a dozen people can readily process. Most applicants send letters detailing how they lost their jobs to outsourcing, their homes to foreclosure or their health to disease or accident.
"I just heard from a lady in North Carolina who has an autistic son whose only companion is a Jack Russell Terrier," he said. "It's cookie-cutter sadness. … Little details change but the gist of each story is the same."
Despite nominal improvements in the unemployment rate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture counts more than 47 million people in its food stamp program—nearly one out of every seven Americans.

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