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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Daily Drift


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Today in History

1537   Pope Paul III bans the enslavement of Indians in the New World.  
1774   The Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to allow British soldiers into their houses, is reenacted.  
1793   Maximillian Robespierre, a member of France's Committee on Public Safety, initiates the "Reign of Terror."  
1818   The British army defeats the Maratha alliance in Bombay, India. 1859   French forces cross the Ticino River.  
1865   At Galveston, Texas, Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders the Trans-Mississippi Department to Union forces.  
1883   The first baseball game under electric lights is played in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  
1886   Grover Cleveland becomes the first American president to wed while in office.  
1910   Charles Stewart Rolls, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce, becomes the first man to fly an airplane nonstop across the English Channel both ways. Tragically, he becomes Britain's first aircraft fatality the following month when his biplane breaks up in midair.  
1924   The United States grants full citizenship to American Indians.  
1928   Nationalist Chiang Kai-shek captures Peking, China, in a bloodless takeover.  
1942   The American aircraft carriers Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown move into their battle positions for the Battle of Midway.  
1944   Allied "shuttle bombing" of Germany begins, with bombers departing from Italy and landing in the Soviet Union.  
1946   Italian citizens vote by referendum for a republic.  
1948   Jamaican-born track star Herb McKenley sets a new world record for the 400 yard dash.  
1953   Elizabeth II is crowned queen of England at Westminster Abbey.  
1954   Senator Joseph McCarthy charges that there are communists working in the CIA and atomic weapons plants.  
1969   The Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne slices the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans in half off the shore of South Vietnam.

Non Sequitur


Bomber enraged by spelling error can't blow up sign because his bomb instructions were riddled with typos

A 50-year-old man was upset that the sign in front of the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission read "Oregon Teacher Standards an Practices Commission" (the D had fallen off the sign or been worn away), so he resolved to explode it with a pressure-cooker bomb. But the bomb didn't work, an outcome the man blamed on the spelling errors and typos in the bomb-making instructions he'd downloaded from the Internet. So he took his bomb into the Oregon Teacher Standards an Practices Commission and gave them a piece of his mind, vis-a-vis bombs, standards, and education. And practices.
"He walked quite confidently into our office as though he had a mission," she said, "and I think that was what alarmed me right off the bat." (Because no one who wants to be a teacher comes in with a good attitude? My guess is that the pressure cooker with wires sticking out of it might have also played a role in her alarm.) The man explained that he was upset with their misspelled sign and had just tried to blow it up for that reason. Didn't work, and you know what else?
After discussing his failed attempt to detonate his bomb, the man complained that the instructions he downloaded to make the bomb also had misspellings. [According to the director, he] implied that [she] and her employees should be concerned about the level of education children receive, given that his [bomb-making] instructions were rife with errors.
I think that only follows, though, if these were official State of Oregon bomb-making instructions that he'd gotten hold of. Then it would be fair to worry that our children are not getting the kind of training in literacy and improvised explosive devices that they will need to be successful in today's competitive economy. But if these were just any old bomb-making instructions, then the state's not to blame. You always have to be careful with what you find on the internet.

Did you know ...

That the American food industry doesn't want you to eat healthy

About the 10 state legislatures that have beaten the NRA since Newtown

That payday loan users are hooked on quick-cash cycle

That an elephant stomps on poacher who tried to shoot him

That facebook was hit with social media campaign over its sexist content

That an all-male FauxNews panel laments female breadwinners

It’s Beyond Time For All Americans To Stand Up To repugican Obstruction

The concept of governing through formal, orderly, and extended expression of thought on a subject using fair interchange of ideas and discussion according to rules of parliamentary procedure is regarded as bipartisan governance. Even in government where one side’s voice carries greater weight by virtue of a majority, there is still room for discourse and debate to come to decisions benefiting all citizens and give every opportunity to examine each possible opinion and prevent one side from ruling by edict.
Up until January 2009, American government operated according to so-called “majority rule” that still depended on bipartisan agreements where all voices and positions were given equal weight prior to deliberations and votes, but on inauguration night in 2009 when Washington celebrated a new President, repugicans met and plotted to bring governance to a halt by opposing any and every agenda put forth by the newly elected President and Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. It is four-and-a-half years later, and despite President Obama winning re-election and Democrats gaining seats to bolster its majority in the Senate, repugicans are still opposing and blocking any and every proposal put forward by the Democratic majority and the African American President.
Over the past couple of days, there has been renewed talks of changing Senate filibuster rules to deter repugicans from continuing to bring governance to a standstill and stop their attempts to rule by minority, but simply talking about a semblance of order to allow the legislative bodies to operate evoked a claim by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that Democrats were “fostering a culture of intimidation.” McConnell’s contention is more repugican projection of their tactics on to Democrats, and an attempt to garner support to oppose reform and continue obstructionism for the sole purpose of keeping government at either a standstill, or under repugican rule despite their minority position and losses in the recent election.
At the start of the 113th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry struck a deal with repugicans with the goal of “streamlining Senate floor business,” and he failed to implement fair rule changes because Democrats were terrified of poisoning the non-existent bipartisan relations during what could have been a productive period for governance. The result has been more filibuster and obstruction of President Obama’s nominees for critical department positions as well as preventing legislation repugicans and their corporate masters refuse to tolerate, but it is McConnell’s assertion that Democrats are fostering a culture of intimidation that reeks of hypocrisy and informs the repugican’s tactics throughout President Obama’s tenure in office. There are varying opinions why repugicans brought normal governance to a whimpering end, and whether it is racist opposition to an African American President or their frenzied anti-government agenda, they have used intimidation, economic terrorism, and outright obstructionism to ensure this government cannot operate to serve the people.
Just in the past two weeks, Senate repugicans threatened to obstruct the President’s nominees to head the Consumer Protection Bureau (CPB), Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, and three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals even before the President officially submits nominee’s names for confirmation. The repugicans claim the court’s workload is too light for a full complement of judges, they oppose CPB to protect bankers and leave consumers at the mercy of predatory financial institutions, openly called for eliminating the EPA to enrich the oil industry, and want to keep the Labor Department from protecting the American labor force for their corporate donors’ benefit.  For the past two months, repugicans reiterated their threats to hold the debt ceiling increase hostage for more Draconian cuts to safety nets and tax reform to enrich the wealthy in a repeat of 2011′s hostage scenario that drove rating agency S&P to downgrade America’s stellar credit rating for the first time in its history.
This week, Democrats and several groups have begun anew pushing for reforms to give the government a chance to work for the people, and it is about time since Senator Reid’s “expression of comity” for his “esteemed colleagues across the aisle” at the start of the current session of Congress did absolutely nothing to alleviate the gross level of repugican obstruction that has continued unabated over the past five months. It is the push to stop repugican obstructionism, stop their economic terrorism, and install leaders to run various protection agencies that precipitated Mitch McConnell’s allegation that Democrats were fostering a culture of intimidation, or as its definition informs; to compel or deter actions with the use of threats. It is despicable that repugicans have used threats against Democrats to enable them to rule from a minority position, but their actions have gone beyond threats and their obstruction is creating real harm to the people they were sent to  Washington to serve. The repugicans have taken filibusters and obstruction to such an unprecedented degree that they have blocked discussion and debate of their own ideas and policies that impact every man, woman, and child in America, and they have convinced many Democrats that abridging the obstructionist tactics is toxic to discourse and bi-partisanship the repugican cabal is successfully blocking.
Republicans have played on Democrats, especially President Obama’s, desire to govern in a bipartisan manner to such an extent that Democratic inaction is part of why Washington is paralyzed and the nation cannot progress beyond repugican limitations. There are a substantial number of liberals and Democrats that are so terrified of offending repugicans by calling out their obstruction or accurately portraying their un-American and anti-government tactics that they openly criticize any negative characterization of the repugican cabal as “prohibiting reasonable discourse and debate” and “threatening bipartisan solutions” to America’s problems. Whether the left’s altruists are aware that discourse and debate is not remotely possible with wingnuts, or that repugican cabal intransigence drove them to reject their own solutions because President Obama embraced them is questionable, but their naiveté and ignorance of the current crop of repugicans and their opposition to governance is absolutely stunning. It has gotten so perverse that political commentators who use  facts to expose repugican malfeasance are accused of prohibiting discourse, civil debate, and discussion necessary to solve the nation’s problems, and it is the same argument that drove Harry Reid to just “streamline Senate floor business” instead of bringing an end to repugican Senate rule from a minority position.
It is beyond time for Americans to stand up to repugican obstruction and demand reform to allow the government to operate on behalf of the American people. That may require some Democrat, any Democrat, to go in front of the American people and tell them exactly why roads and bridges are crumbling, why wages are declining, and why education, social programs, and consumer protections face extinction. However, not only will that require telling people the truth, it will mean hurting repugicans’ feelings and engender outrage, cries of intimidation, and accusations of tyranny from wingnuts, as well as incite many Democrats to decry truth as obstructing discourse, debate and their precious bipartisanship that is as much a pipe-dream as expecting repugicans to give up ruling from a minority position. Regardless of what one thinks about Mitch McConnell and his anti-government and un-American ideology, he is at least smart enough to know all he had to do to intimidate Harry Reid and President Obama was tell them attempting to govern through orderly discussion, discourse, and debate is Democrat’s “culture of intimidation” that will likely produce three-and-a-half more years of obstruction, super-majorities for discussion, unwarranted filibusters, and of course the requisite Democratic “we’re sorry; please forgive us.”

Another repugican lie debunked.

From The Political Carnival...

Study: Immigrants NOT a drain on federal health care spending; they give more to Medicare than they receive.

Via the New York Times:

    Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending.

    The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants' contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program's revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period.

The era of 2nd Amendment terrorism has begun

It was only a matter of time.  You can only tell people so many times that the socialist Muslim is plotting to take away their guns, and then enslave all of humanity (or simply slaughter everyone), before one of those people take it upon themselves to save humanity by taking out the bad guy.Second Amendment supporters are suspected to have committed three terrorist acts this week on American soil – one against the group Mayors Against Gun Violence, another against Mayor Bloomberg, who is a staunch gun control advocate, and a third against President Obama.  All were sent similar suspicious letters, at least two contained powder, and at least one tested positive for the deadly poison Ricin.
The motivation for the attacks?  The Second Amendment:
CNN, citing a source with knowledge of the letters to Bloomberg and his gun-control group, said those letters include this:
“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die.”
NBC reports that the same gun-nut letter was sent to President Obama.
The text of the Obama letter was identical to the text in the other two letters, which warned that anyone who comes to the sender’s house will “get shot in the face” and vows to protect a constitutional and God-given right to bear arms.
The text also warned: “What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”
Is anybody really surprised?  I’ve said for a while now that Second Amendment supporters have been making a great case for why they are the last people on earth who should be permitted to own a gun.  And these terrorist attacks prove it.
Think about it.  The NRA has been justifying their need to bear arms based on, what they seem to be suggesting, will be a coming zombie apocalypse.  Who wouldn’t be scared witless after reading this recent missive from NRA head Wayne LaPierre:
After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all….
Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
According to the NRA, it’s quite literally the end of the world coming, and Barack Obama wants you and your family to die.  What do people do when someone tries to kill their family?  They try to stop that killer first.
Is it any wonder that people like James Yeager, the CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that specializes in weapons and tactical training, would post a video on Facebook and YouTube talking about how he’s going to start “killing people” if Obama acts on his fiendish anti-gun plans:
“I”m not f’g putting up with this… if it goes one inch further, I’m gonna start killing people.”
Of course, the dirty little secret is that Second Amendment advocates want their guns in order to fight the government, not the blacks and the immigrants. LaPierre’s zombie apocalypse is a recent swerve away from the more common gun-nut theme of how the evil gummint is coming to get you, and the only thing that will stop them is your gun. Clearly, the gun groups are getting a little worried that their “stop the government at all costs” message might just come back to haunt them. And haunting them it is, now that pro-gun supporters are launching terrorist attacks in the name of the Second Amendment.
But what are rural gun nuts supposed to think when they hear garbage like this on a daily basis from NRA board members like Todd Ratner?

Then there’s NRA board member Ted Nugent, another great profile in prozac.  There’s so much on Nugent, it’s easier just to send you to our archives, so you can peruse the extremism at your leisure.
Keep in mind, these are people whose motto talks about having to take their guns out of their “cold dead hands.”  Meaning, you’ll have to kill them in order to beat them politically.  Again, any surprise that people like that have turned violent?
We’re talking about guns.  Instruments of extreme violence.  And now we’re supposed to be surprised that people who have a fetish for violence are using violence.  The repugicans, and their allies in the gun groups, the religio-wingnuts, the tea party and all the rest, have consistently told Americans that the United States Government is the enemy. Just look at the way they demonize judges, and federal employees, and the IRS.
After you tell people that the government is quite literally the enemy, and repeat it for a few decades, and then arm your supporters against that enemy, is it any wonder that people eventually take up arms to stop that enemy?
And finally, think of the violence we’ve seen in our country over the past few decades.  How many have been liberal-themed and how many have been wingnut-themed?  How much of the violence comes from gay people (perhaps one attack in 20 years), and how much from the anti-gays (hate crimes abound).  How many from anti-gun supporters (zero), and how many from gun nuts (there are shootings every week).  How much violent from pro-choicers (zero), and how much from pro-lifers (all the abortion doctor murders, for starters).
There is a reason that so much of the political violence in this country comes from people who embrace right-wing ideology.
Second Amendment advocates have no one to blame but themselves for the terrorist turn their movement has now taken.


Article 3, Section 3 of the United States Constitution...
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

And then there's this ...

From Think Progress

Leader of Armed March On Washington Calls For 'Revolutionary Army' To Topple Government

Thousands of people signed up to attend an armed march on Washington over the course of the last month. But now, the leader of the march is setting his sights much higher than a single demonstration - he wants his armed followers to help overthrow the American government.

About a month ago, a gun activist named Adam Kokesh called for thousands of people to join him in an armed march on Washington, D.C. to "put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny." As of this writing, nearly 5,200 people have RSVPed for Kokesh's armed march.

Late last week, however, Kokesh decided to abandon this march in favor of a much larger effort to bring down the entire federal government. In a statement written from a jail cell in Philadelphia (Kokesh faced charges for allegedly resisting arrest during a pro-marijuana rally. He now says he's been released), the gun activist called for his supporters to form a secessionist "army":

    A new American revolution is long overdue. This revolution has been brewing in the hearts and minds of the people for many years, but this Independence Day, it shall take a new form as the American Revolutionary Army will march on each state capital to demand that the governors of these 50 states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the federal government through secession and reclamation of federally held property. Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while the crimes of this government are allowed to continue, we may have passed the point at which non-violent revolution becomes impossible.

Judge to Google: comply with warrantless FBI data requests

A federal judge has ordered Google to comply with the FBI's warrantless requests for user data, rejecting its claim that the demands are illegal. Google had requested that the court modify or discharge 19 National Security Letters, a form of request that bypasses the courts and which generally forbids the recipient from disclosing their existence. The hearing, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Ilston, was held in secret, reports CNET; the FBI issued nearly 200,000 of the letters between 2003 and 2006, with 97 percent including a gag order.

U.S. Poverty: By the Numbers

by Greg Kaufmann
U.S. poverty (less than $17,916 for a family of three): 46.2 million people, 15.1 percent
Read the full report at the National Center for Children in Poverty website. Children in poverty: 16.1 million, 22 percent of all children, including 39 percent of African-American children and 34 percent of Latino children. Poorest age group in country.
Deep poverty (less than $11,510 for a family of four): 20.4 million people, 1 in 15 Americans, including more than 15 million women and children
People who would have been in poverty if not for Social Security, 2011: 67.6 million
(program kept 21.4 million people out of poverty)
People in the U.S. experiencing poverty by age 65: Roughly half
Gender gap, 2011: Women 34 percent more likely to be poor than men
Gender gap, 2010: Women 29 percent more likely to be poor than men
Twice the poverty level (less than $46,042 for a family of four): 106 million people, more than 1 in 3 Americans
Jobs in the U.S. paying less than $34,000 a year: 50 percent
Jobs in the U.S. paying below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually: 25 percent
Poverty-level wages, 2011: 28 percent of workers
Percentage of individuals and family members in poverty who either worked or lived with a working family member, 2011: 57 percent
Families receiving cash assistance, 1996: 68 for every 100 families living in poverty
Families receiving cash assistance, 2010: 27 for every 100 families living in poverty
Impact of public policy, 2010: Without government assistance, poverty would have been twice as high — nearly 30 percent of population
Percentage of entitlement benefits going to elderly, disabled or working households: Over 90 percent.
Number of homeless children in U.S. public schools: 1,065,794
Annual cost of child poverty nationwide: $550 billion
Federal expenditures on home ownership mortgage deductions, 2012: $131 billion
Federal funding for low-income housing assistance programs, 2012: Less than $50 billion

It’s Time To Wake Up And Smell The Inequality

American Workers Are Cheated

hadeer featured
The U.S. stock market hit a new record on Tuesday, encouraged by the strongest gains in home prices in 7 years and a 5-year high in consumer confidence, new signs that the economy is recovering more steadily. In the meantime, the average American is still waiting for the wealth to trickle down while struggling with relatively high unemployment rates, and abysmal wage growth.
Those are not the only problems that middle class families are facing in today’s job market. A new study from The Center of Economic and Policy Research found that the U.S. is the only developed country that does not require employers to offer a paid vacation for their employees. Among 21 developed nations, all except the U.S. have laws that make employers offer between 10 and 30 annual paid days for vacations. However, the picture is not all bad; about 77 percent of American workers still receive paid time off from their employers at an average of 13 days per year.
This number is still small in comparison with other developed countries like France or Germany  where they offer more than 30 days of paid time off if we calculate the vacations and holidays together. Back to the U.S, Even among those % 77, a fewer workers are asking for time-off. The job insecurity in today’s market makes them more hesitate to ask their employers for a paid vacation, or even any type of time-off.
A decent amount of recreational time is not the only “privilege” the American worker lacks in compare with their European peers. As a matter of fact, the United States is also the ONLY developed nation that does not require employers to provide a paid maternity leave. That means a working mother of  a new born child will not be paid for the time off she spend with her child in the first weeks after giving birth. In other words, she is forced to go back to her job as soon as she delivers the baby; otherwise, she might lose her job. That isn’t true in all cases, but the fact remains that legal protection is not there.
The lack of federal regulations and laws that provide the workers paid time off to spend  with their families exposes the social difference in what is considered a privilege or right. Europe, for example, has reached the level where they redefined basic needs to reflect a higher quality of living. The European worker enjoys rights that are still considered “privileges” in the United States, be it universal healthcare, or paid time off. It is worth to mentioning that the US worker productivity is the highest in the world, and it has increased steadily since the beginning of the recession. During the massive layoffs in 2008-2009, employers have put more work and pressure on the remaining employees, who are afraid to lose their jobs.
With record profits in the first quarter and the recent surge in stock prices, US corporations have never been richer, yet the job gains are still very modest, and wages are barely growing. The workforce is squeezed with more job stress, less money, less recreational time, and also suffers due to the lack of sufficient protections for workers.
We are becoming a purely capitalist society that benefits the wealthy and big business alone and neglects the average middle-class worker, who is, in reality, the back-bone of our consumer-based economy. Nevertheless, corporations and politicians are not the only to blame for this workforce’s conditions. The workers’ lack of knowledge about other societies and countries’ experiences is also to blame. We tend to not pay attention to what other countries offer for their citizens and taxpayers, what kind of social and economic model they adapt, and how is their tax money spent. “American exceptionalism” is blinding us to the accomplishments of other cultures.
It is hard to mention the privileges and rights other developed nations enjoy without mentioning universal healthcare. The United States is also the only developed nation that does not provide universal healthcare for all of its citizens. Approximately 25 percent of the US population is without any type of medical coverage, despite being the top country worldwide in healthcare spending (almost 18 percent of GDP). Many of our politicians still consider the choice of aborting a baby as a murder, yet rejecting policies that allow 30 million people to access proper healthcare is not considered “attempted murder” for some strange reason.
The alarming reality is that we are facing a new type of slavery. Employees are becoming slaves for the greed of large corporations;  we are doing much more, while getting much less, and told to be thankful for having a job in this “bad” economy, when profits are in record territory.

Ten Gender Differences Backed Up by Science

Are men and women hard-wired for different skill sets?

Chemical Reaction Caught in the Act!

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory got a neat surprise when they were trying to develop a new method of making graphene. They managed to capture a chemical reaction in the act, atom by atom, bond by bond:
“We weren’t thinking about making beautiful images; the reactions themselves were the goal,” says Fischer, a staff scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division (MSD) and a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. “But to really see what was happening at the single-atom level we had to use a uniquely sensitive atomic force microscope in Michael Crommie’s laboratory.” Crommie is an MSD scientist and a professor of physics at UC Berkeley.
What the microscope showed the researchers, says Fischer, “was amazing.” The specific outcomes of the reaction were themselves unexpected, but the visual evidence was even more so. “Nobody has ever taken direct, single-bond-resolved images of individual molecules, right before and immediately after a complex organic reaction,” Fischer says.

Coronavirus: What Is It?

A virus that has killed half the people it's infected causes worldwide concern. 

High Times

Seattle Pot-trepreneur plans $100 Million chain of weed stores throughout America

Get ready for the Walmart of weed. Even Mexican President Vicente Fox thinks it's a good idea. The Stranger reports on a Seattle entrepreneur's plans to launch a $100 Million chain of marijuana stores throughout the US.

Though marijuana is a well-known recreational drug, extensive scientific research has been conducted on the therapeutic properties of marijuana in the last decade. Medical cannabis is often used by sufferers of chronic ailments, including cancer [...]

Usury in the UK

A UK Parliamentary committee blasted the Office of Fair Trading -- a consumer watchdog agency that is supposed to regulate moneylenders -- for doing effectively nothing to curb the growth of usurious, predatory moneylenders who attack poor and vulnerable people. There are 72,000 consumer credit firms in the UK, some chargin annual interest rates of 4,000%, but the OFT has never fined a single firm for breaking lending rules. On some rare occasions, it did shut down firms, but did nothing to stop them from reopening immediately under another name.
This week the charity Citizens Advice said it knew of cases where loans had been given to under-18s, to people with mental health issues, and to people who were drunk at the time of securing the loan. One client who took out a £50 loan was targeted with emails and texts offering more cash and ended up with debts of £800.
"Some of these lenders use predatory techniques to target vulnerable people on low incomes, encouraging them to take out loans which when rolled over with extra interest rapidly become out of control debts," the committee's chair, Margaret Hodge, said. "Meanwhile, the OFT has been ineffective and timid in the extreme. It passively waits for complaints from consumers before acting."
PAC's report said the OFT lacked information on how much lending was being done by each firm, and about how different people used consumer credit. A study commissioned from the National Audit Office suggested the scale of consumer harm was at least £450m a year, but the OFT was accused of lacking detailed information on the types of harm suffered by different groups of borrowers.

CNN Anchor Draws Legal Parallel Between catholic Teacher's Firing and Sharia Law Stoning

Chalk this one up to the absurd. CNN's Ashleigh Banfield on Wednesday tried to draw a legal parallel between a Sharia Law execution and a catholic school firing a teacher for violating her contract by disobeying church teaching on pregnancy. Banfield argued both violated the teacher's Constitutional rights.

"Well if it's an islamic school and they decide to go with Sharia Law and they decide to stone me for this, they can't do that either," Banfield ridiculously argued. "Then don't sign up to be the teacher," responded prosecutor Christine Grillo, who multiple times reiterated that the teacher had violated her contract.

The teacher in question, Christa Dias, was fired from her position with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati because she got pregnant through artificial insemination, contrary to the teaching of the catholic cult. Since her contract stipulated that she could not do that, Dias was fired.

Banfield was obviously frustrated with Dias's plight. "At what point, though, do their rules and regulations stomp all over your rights as an American?" she fretted, comparing the firing to segregation.

"Separation of church and state," answered Grillo. "You are deciding to work for a catholic school. It's just like deciding to attend a catholic school. You are there – you must abide by the rules and regulations or they are free at will to kick you out."

Banfield then tried to pull the segregation card. "For instance, I could go to that school and sign up as a teacher, and they can't tell me that I can't drink from a water fountain because I'm white," she bizarrely insisted.

Grillo immediately shot her down: "they're not saying that within the bible and the practices of this religion that you can't drink out of a water fountain because you are white. These are long known standards and fantasies of the catholic cult."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on May 30 at 11:46 a.m. EDT:

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: Let's go to another school district, shall we? In fact, it's in Ohio, and it's a catholic school teacher at question now. That teacher was fired because she got pregnant through artificial insemination. And now that teacher is fighting back. Her name is Christa Dias, and she's suing the school and the Roman catholic diocese, or archdiocese, rather, in Cincinnati. Diaz is gay. And she told jurors in her case this week that she did not know that artificial insemination violated cult doctrine.

A lot of issues are at play here. So I want to turn to Christine Grillo who is with the Brooklyn D.A. For starters, she did not have premarital sex. And that's one of the tenets that apparently this plaintiff, or rather this defendant had to sign away when she signed contracts to work at the school. She didn't do that, but she got artificially inseminated, which apparently is in the contract. So is it kind of cut and dry?

CHRISTINE GRILLO, prosecutor, Brooklyn District Attorney's office: It's contractual. This is a contractual law issue. And when you think about it, there are so many other issues at play. There is your sexuality, there is premarital sex, there's artificial insemination. People full of opinions about all of this. But when you cut simply to the point here, she went to work for a catholic school. The catholic school has rules. In order to work for that school, they have you sign a contract to follow our rules. You can't say ignorance. It's no defense. It's just no defense, not even in this.

BANFIELD: It's funny the school had to answer the question. What about a man? Let's say there was a male teacher who with his wife, they were unable to conceive, so they went through artificial insemination and had their baby. He would be also breaking the doctrine and should be fired?

GRILLO: According to their doctrine at this particular point if he had signed it at the time, then yes, contractually the law would state that they broke the contract. Now that doesn't mean – they said they'd never been presented with that issue. So they've never had to decide it for that –

BANFIELD: Because the men don't usually show up with big tummys.

GRILLO: That is the point – and that is a point well taken. They may not know. Once again, it isn't going to be something against women because we are the ones who carry the babies.

BANFIELD: Okay, so it's church doctrine. But we have federal law that protects us from being fired for getting pregnant even if we intend to –

GRILLO: Separation of church and state.

BANFIELD: I knew you were going there.

GRILLO: I am. Because this is a catholic school. You are deciding to work for a catholic school. It's just like deciding to attend a catholic school. You are there – you must abide by the rules and regulations or they are free at will to kick you out.

BANFIELD: At what point, though, do their rules and regulations stomp all over your rights as an American? For instance, I could go to that school and sign up as a teacher, and they can't tell me that I can't drink from a water fountain because I'm white.

GRILLO: Right. However, they're not saying that within the bible and the practices of this religion that you can't drink out of a water fountain because you are white. These are long-known standards and fantasies of the catholic cult. And if you want to go and work for a school that is teaching this catholic fantasy –

BANFIELD: Well if it's an islamic school and they decide to go with Sharia Law and they decide to stone me for this, they can't do that either.

GRILLO: Then don't sign up to be the teacher. If you can't –

BANFIELD: But they can't do it. Even if you sign up and sign that contract, federal law protects you. You would think it would protect you against these kinds of tenets.

GRILLO: Protecting you from stoning you to death and protecting you from your ways to conceive or – actually, no one even mentioned the sexuality. That I'm surprised that they didn't even go back to her about the sexuality. If that's within the contract, I don't know. But just what you're saying, let's say that Islamic school does not allow you to show your face, that you need to wear the appropriate garb required for Islamic religion. And you decide that, no, I'm not going to do this anymore. You can lose your job. You must abide by the contract that you've signed up to work for.

BANFIELD: I could argue about this all day because if they force me to go get my driver's license and wear that veil, I'd say no. No, because the law won't let me. But you have to come back and we'll have to talk about this once we figure out where they go with this case. Christine Grillo from the Brooklyn D.A. She is tough. She is so Brooklyn.

Two maids get 10 years and 1,000 lashes for sorcery

The Asians were accused of practicing witchcraft on their employers 
A Saudi court sentenced two Asian housemaids to 10 years in jail and ordered their lashed 1,000 times each after they were found guilty of indulging in sorcery at their employers’ houses in the Gulf Kingdom, a newspaper reported on Monday.
Their Saudi employers reported the two maids to the Gulf country’s feared religious police, saying they had discovered that their families had been harmed because of sorcery practiced by the maids against them.
Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice who searched the two houses in Riyadh found talismans and other magic items in the bedrooms of the two maids, Sabq Arabic language daily said.
“The court found them guilty and sentenced them to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes each,” the paper said without identifying the maids or specifying the harm they caused.
Saudi Arabia, which strictly enforces Islamic law, has beheaded many persons convicted of practicing magic over the past years.
More than two million domestic servants work in Saudi Arabia, mostly from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Africa.

Boat reconstruction changing view of Bronze Age

hey were not clad in skins and they did not have to paddle for six hours at a stretch, but the experience of taking a replica Bronze Age boat out to sea was enough to convince archaeologists and boat builders of the value of their work.
Boat reconstruction changing view of Bronze Age
Archaeologists and maritime museum volunteers ease off their paddles after taking the
replica Bronze Age boat for sea trials at Falmouth
"Until you build a boat like this, you cannot know the difficulties people in prehistory overcame," said lead archaeologist Robert Van de Noort. "And until you take a vessel out on the water you cannot see how efficient they were."

Professor Van de Noort, along with shipwright Brian Cumby, was the driving force behind a project to build the first full-size replica of a boat used around our shores 4,000 years ago. Hewn from solid oak at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and launched in March, the volunteers who undertook the labor, along with several archaeologists, put the boat through its paces this week.

Using specially crafted paddles, 19 men and women were guided in the fine art of powering seven tons of wood through the water. The short voyage was hailed a triumph of collaboration between academic and artisan.

Remarkably stable and relatively quick for its size, the crew was soon able to move around buoys and other vessels with ease. Professor Van de Noort, who is based at the University of Exeter, said he was delighted with the results, adding that the project had proved the enormous value of experimental archaeology.

"She moves well in the water – perhaps better than I'd expected," he said. "I could turn her quite easily with the rudder paddle. One thing we've learned already is that because she sits very high in the water, it is likely she can probably carry a much greater load than we first thought.

"Because she is flat-bottomed and has no keel the wind does tend to push her away. But with a few tons of ballast – perhaps tin ingots – she might handle better."

Professor Van de Noort explained that his interest in Bronze Age mariners went back many years. He said the project team consulted drawings made in the 1930s by Ted Wright, who discovered what became known as the Ferriby boats on the Humber.

"I have studied this sort of boat for many years and have written a lot about what they did and what they meant," he said. "But after a while I began to think it was all a bit silly because everything we write is only hypothesis. It was then I decided we should a have a go at building one. Fortunately Brian is a brilliant shipwright and was keen to take it on."

Named Morgawr, after the mythical sea serpent of Falmouth Bay, the boat took a team of 50 volunteers 11 months to construct. A first for "experimental archaeology" and a first for the NMMC, it was built as part of a collaborative project with the University of Exeter. The bulk of the hull was cut, using bronze adzes, from two huge oak trunks. Once shaped, they were "sewn together" using yew withies and sealed with moss and tallow.

"This is experimental archaeology at its best," said archaeologist and NMMC assistant curator Jenny Wittamore. A former student of Prof Van de Noort, she added: "A lot of people have preconceived ideas of what life was like in prehistory and there is an assumption that technology was very limited. So they were surprised to realize technology several thousand years ago was so complex.

"For me it is wonderful to change people's perspectives about what life was like in prehistory."

There are now plans to conduct further experiments to help build a clearer picture of Bronze Age travel and transportation. Screenings of a film by award-winning Cornish cinematographer Mark Jenkin, charting the boat's journey from log to launch, are being arranged for later this year.

Earliest case of child abuse found in Egypt

A two to three-year-old child from a Romano-Christian-period cemetery in Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, shows evidence of physical child abuse, archaeologists have found. The child, who lived around 2,000 years ago, represents the earliest documented case of child abuse in the archaeological record, and the first case ever found in Egypt, researchers say.
Earliest case of child abuse found in Egypt
Close-up of upper body of burial 519, the 2,000-year-old remains of the abused
toddler in Egypt
The Dakhleh Oasis is one of seven oases in Egypt's Western Desert. The site has seen continuous human occupation since the Neolithic period, making it the focus of several archaeological investigations, said lead researcher Sandra Wheeler, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Central Florida. Moreover, the cemeteries in the oasis allow scientists to take a unique look at the beginnings of Christianity in Egypt.

In particular, the so-called Kellis 2 cemetery, which is located in the Dakhleh Oasis town of Kellis (southwest of Cairo), reflects Christian mortuary practices. For example, "instead of having children in different places, everyone is put in one place, which is an unusual practice at this time," Wheeler told LiveScience. Dating methods using radioactive carbon from skeletons suggest the cemetery was used between A.D. 50 and A.D. 450. 

When the researchers came across the abused toddler — labeled "Burial 519" — in Kellis 2, nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first. But when Wheeler's colleague Tosha Duprasbegan brushing the sand away, she noticed prominent fractures on the child's arms.

 "She thought, 'Whoa, this was weird,' and then she found another fracture on the collarbone," Wheeler said. "We have some other kids that show evidence of skeletal trauma, but this is the only one that had these really extreme fracture patterns."

Signs of abuse

The researchers decided to conduct a series of tests on Burial 519, including X-ray work, histology (microscopic study of tissues) and isotopic analyses, which pinpoint metabolic changes that show when the body tried to repair itself. They found a number of bone fractures throughout the body, on places like the humerus (forearm), ribs, pelvis and back.

Whereas no particular fracture is diagnostic of child abuse, the pattern of trauma suggests it occurred. Additionally, the injuries were all in different stages of healing, which further signifies repeated non-accidental trauma.

One of the more interesting fractures was located on the child's upper arms, in the same spot on each arm, Wheeler said. The fractures were complete, broken all the way through the bone — given that children are more flexible than adults, a complete break like that would have taken a lot of force.

After comparing the injury with the clinical literature, the researchers deduced that someone grabbed the child's arms and used them as handles to shake the child violently. Other fractures were also likely caused by shaking, but some injuries, including those on the ribs and vertebrae, probably came from direct blows.

The archaeologists aren't sure what ultimately killed the toddler. "It could be that last fracture, which is the clavicle fracture," Wheeler said, referring to the collarbone. "Maybe it wasn't a survivable event."

A unique case

Child abuse in the archaeological record is rare. One possible reason, Wheeler said, is that archaeologists didn't really pay much attention to child remains until about 20 years ago, believing that children couldn't tell them much about the past.

A few cases of possible child abuse have since come out of France, Peru and the United Kingdom, all of which date back to medieval times or later. "Certainly, our case has the best context in terms of the archaeology and skeletal analysis," Wheeler said.

Of the 158 juveniles excavated from the Kellis 2 cemetery, Burial 519 is the only one showing signs of repeated nonaccidental trauma, suggesting child abuse wasn't something that occurred throughout the community. The uniqueness of the case supports the general belief that children were a valued part of ancient Egyptian society.

By contrast, though Romans loved their kids immensely, they believed children were born soft and weak, so it was the parents' duty to mold them into adults. They often engaged in such practices as corporal punishment, immobilizing newborn infants on wooden planks to ensure proper growth and routinely bathing the young in cold water as to not soften them with the feel of warm water.

"We know that the ancient Egyptians really revered children," Wheeler said. "But we don't know how much Roman ideas filtered into Egyptian society," she added, suggesting that the unique child abuse case may have been the result of Roman influence.

The research will be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Paleopathology.

Ancient Egyptians Crafted Jewelry From Meteorites

An iron bead found inside a 5,000-year-old tomb was crafted from a meteorite.

Meet America's First Climate Refugees

Newtok, Alaska, is losing ground to the sea at a dangerous rate and for its residents, exile is inevitable.
Russia is evacuating 16 scientists from a research station located on an ice floe in the Arctic as the ground beneath their feet has disintegrated. 

Earth News

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are to blame for global warming since the 1970s and not carbon dioxide, according to new research from the University of Waterloo published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B this week. [...]

Zapping a volcano on a regular basis is a great way to see if the mountain is preparing a potentially murderous eruption.

On the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest, a spectacular new website highlights the mountain's retreating glaciers.

Blowing Cover

Simulation of G2 cloud passing galactic centreCloud may blow black holes' cover

Researchers say we may finally see evidence of small black holes scattered around our galaxy's center as an enormous cloud of gas passes by.

Astronomical News

Despite satellite images that show vast networks of channels, past Mars rover missions have shown limited evidence for flowing water on Mars. Now, rocks analyzed by NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover team, including Linda Kah, associate [...]


A chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen “food” to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of [...]

When Curiosity was coasting through interplanetary space on its way to Mars, I doubt it considered the possibility that the landing site inside Gale Crater would be a pebbly beach -- almost.
A large asteroid that will sail relatively close past Earth on Friday is not alone.
We've all seen familiar objects in random shapes, but what are the top ten examples of pareidolia on Mars?
A crowd-funding campaign to include public participation in a planned privately owned asteroid-hunting telescope was closing in on the halfway point of a $1 million goal -- in its first day. 
A radiation sensor inside NASA’s Curiosity rover shows that, even under the best-case scenario, future Mars travelers will face a huge amount of radiation.
From a distance, Saturn's rings look solid and unchanging. Up close, they reveal dynamic behavior that isn't easy to explain.
Is it a rat? Or is it a rock? (It's a rock.) 
For rocky planets like Earth the key to holding on to water, a prime ingredient for life, is: location, location, location.

Apes also get emotional over games of chance

Like some humans, chimpanzees and bonobos exhibit emotional responses to outcomes of their decisions by pouting or throwing angry tantrums when a risk-taking strategy fails to pay off, according to research published May 29 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Alexandra Rosati from Yale University and Brian Hare from Duke University.
Apes also get emotional over games of chance
These chimpanzees were study subjects at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo
The researchers assessed the emotional responses and motivation of chimpanzees and bonobos living in African sanctuaries. Rosati explains, "Psychologists and economists have found that emotions play a critical role in shaping how humans make complex decisions, such as decisions about saving or investing money. But it was not known if these processes are shared with other animals when they make decisions about their important resources--such as food."

The apes in this study faced two different types of problems: one where they made choices about whether to wait to obtain larger rewards, and one where they made choices about whether to take a chance to obtain a high-quality treat, but risk obtaining a non-preferred food item if their gamble did not pay off. 

The scientists found that both species displayed emotional responses to the outcome of their choice, but chimpanzees were more patient and likely to take risks than bonobos. When their choice yielded the less preferred outcome, both species displayed negative emotional responses including vocalizations similar to pouts and moans, scratching, and banging--a type of tantrum thought to reflect anger in apes. 

In the risky choice task, the apes even tried to switch their choice after the fact when they realized they had made a losing gamble, but never did so when their risk-taking paid off. Some of the emotional and motivational responses displayed by the apes were species-specific while others reflected individual differences in the animals.

Based on their results, the authors conclude that apes do exhibit emotional responses to decision-making, like humans. They add that further research is needed to determine whether these emotional responses to outcomes can change the apes' future choices and decisions.

Sea Worms and Zombie Plants

Hot pink tube worms living on scalding deep-sea hydrothermal vents actually like to keep things relatively cool.

Plants that were frozen under a glacier for hundreds of years return to life.

Animal News

Sloths are so photogenic they have been recruited to serve as animal ambassadors for Suriname, a country in northern South America.
Turtle shells evolved before dinosaurs roamed the earth.
For apes, much like for people, the consequence of decisions cause emotions that play a major role in shaping future decisions.
Space-aged technologies have uncovered secret hunting behaviors that might redeem male lions from couch potato status.
Water births and dolphin-assisted births are a popular New Age fad -- but what's behind them, and are they dangerous?
The earliest known cousin of Triceratops was Judiceratops, a newly identified dinosaur that sported a hoodie-like growth on the back of its head.
Russian team says its discovery may yield living cells that could be used to clone the creature.
See photos and illustrations of Aurornis xui, which has displaced Archaeopteryx as the world's first known bird.