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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Daily Drift

Some days are just like that ...

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Today in History

1442   Alfonso V of Aragon is crowned King of Naples.  
1812   Napoleon Bonaparte and his army invade Russia.  
1849   The gas mask is patented by L. P. Haslett.  
1862   Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart begins his ride around the Union Army outside of Richmond, Virginia.  
1901   Cuba agrees to become an American protectorate by accepting the Platt Amendment.  
1918   The first airplane bombing raid by an American unit occurs in France.
1920   repugicans nominate Warren G. Harding for president and Calvin Coolidge for vice president.  
1921   President Warren Harding urges every young man to attend military training camp.  
1926   Brazil quits the League of Nations in protest over plans to admit Germany.  
1931   Gangster Al Capone and 68 of his henchmen are indicted for violating Prohibition laws.  
1937   Eight of Stalin's generals are sentenced to death during purges in the Soviet Union.  
1942   American bombers strike the oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania for the first time.  
1963   Black civil rights leader Medgar Evers is assassinated by a gunman outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi.  
1967   The Supreme Court rules that states cannot ban interracial marriages.  
1972   At a hearing in front the of a U.S. House of Representatives committee, Air Force General John Lavalle defends his orders on engagement in Vietnam.  
1977   David Berkowitz gets 25 years to life for the Son of Sam murders in New York.  
1985   The U.S. House of Representatives approves $27 million in aid to the Nicaraguan Contras.  
1991  Mount Pinatubo in the Phillipines begins erupting for the first time in 600 years.

Non Sequitur


Saudi Arabia still tight-lipped on SARS-related virus with pandemic potential

In July, millions of people will travel to Saudi Arabia to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. When they do that, they might be at risk of contracting MERS — Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome — a coronavirus, similar to SARS. They could also be at risk of carrying MERS back to their home countries. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabian authorities have released so little information about MERS that global public health experts don't know how to advise these pilgrims as they prepare for travel. We don't know where MERS came from, we don't know what its infection patterns are or how the disease has changed since it was first identified. It's not even certain that we know the true extent of infections and deaths, given that the Saudi Arabian government has been releasing that information in batches, sometimes months after those infections and deaths actually happened.
Helen Branswell is one of my favorite sources on global public health and pandemic disease. She's got a guest post at Scientific American blogs that explains what we do know about MERS, and why the lack of information is such a big problem.
The new virus was first isolated in June 2012. But its existence came to the world’s attention only weeks before last October’s hajj, when an Egyptian infectious diseases specialist who had been working in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, Jeddah, reported that he had treated a man who died from an infection caused by a new coronavirus. Whether MERS has or can gain the capacity for sustained person-to-person spread is unknown.
... Infectious disease experts are aghast that this late into MERS’s spread the world still has no idea what puts people at risk of infection, how long the incubation period is, when people are contagious or whether there are mild cases that are being missed because surveillance is focused on finding sick people in hospitals. They put the problem squarely at the feet of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which accounts for 41 of the 55 infections to date.

Summer reading ...

Tuesday, June 11

In which Ye Olde Metadata Network tracks that traitor Paul Revere

Sociologist Kieran Healy does a nice job of explaining how even a data system that doesn't contain the actual content of conversations can be part of a very powerful surveillance state. Part parody and part demonstration, he uses information about organization membership roles in 18th-century Boston to pinpoint Paul Revere as a key player in a network of "traitors".

Things Get Weird When Lush Dimbulb Tries to Talk His Listeners Out Of Impeaching Obama

Obama laughing
Lush Dimbulb actually spent time on his show trying to talk his callers out of impeaching President Obama. Could Frankenstein be turning on its creator?
It all began with a pro-impeachment caller:
CALLER: Two reasons why it’s critical for America that we go through the impeachment process. First reason is, the IRS profiling of wingnuts and christians was intentional voter suppression, and that’s a constitutional legacy for our kids. It’s something we inherited, and it’s something we owe to our children. But, Lush, the second most important reason is, Obama left two SEALs to die in the dirt in Benghazi. And they were sitting there for six hours. There was military that was ready, willing, and able to rescue them, and they didn’t. And, Lush, if we don’t at least go through this process for America of impeachment, we’re really leaving them to die in the dirt also.

Well, you know, I would defer to our leadership, the repugican leadership, as to whether they do it, you know, whether this is before or after the reaction, but, Lush, we can’t go quietly into the night here. I mean, what happened to our guys in Benghazi has gotta be answered and to put up with the response of, “What difference does it make?” It makes a huge difference. And, you know, Lush? We may not win this fight. It may be that the House impeaches him and he gets off in the Senate, which is what happened with President Clinton, but we got to go through the process. It’s more about us as Americans than it is about Obama. We’ve got to go through this process.
Dimbulb says that repugicans are unlikely to impeach Obama, because they still feel like they are paying the price for impeaching Clinton.
The very next caller that Lush Dimbulb happened to to have on agreed with him that wingnuts should get off the impeachment thing. Here is her call and his reaction:
CALLER: I just wanted to put in my two cents about the impeachment thing. I think it’s the worst thing we could do as conservatives, to even talk about it. I think we just got to get off the Obama thing because it’s got to be the worst thing we can do. Let’s just get on to the Democrats, let’s just get on –

LUSH: Yeah, I agree. She’s reacting, folks — Diane, thanks very much. We had a caller in the first hour who thinks for the sake of the country, we have to state who we are. We have to plant the flag and tell everybody who we are, what we stand for, and what we will not tolerate. And for that reason we need to begin impeachment proceedings against Obama, and that’s what Diane’s reacting to. Politically it would be disaster because it isn’t gonna happen, ain’t gonna go anywhere. It doesn’t have a chance, and Obama, folks, as much as you don’t want to hear it, he should not be the focus, at least in terms of persuading people.
It’s got to be the Democrat Party and the ideology, liberalism, socialism, because all of this that’s happening can be tied directly to a political party. Obama needs allies for this to happen, and he’s got them. This is what happens, and you can point it out city by city where liberals have run the place unchecked. You see literal ghost towns. You see bulldozed Third World type locations, and this is linked to a particular political party, and that I think is where attention needs to be focused. I agree with you, Diane. I’m glad you called.
It is funny to see the Obama hate that Dimbulb has spread since 2008 come back and bite him in the backside. I am afraid that monster he has created is on a path of self-destruction. Lush Dimbulb understands what will happen to the repugican cabal if they catch a bad case of impeachment fever.
The Obama hate that Dimbulb helped to create has gotten completely out control. Dimbulb can’t talk them down anymore. They are hell bent on impeaching Obama because these are the seeds that Lush Dimbulb’s gutter stream of hate speech against this president have sown. Dimbulb has been demonizing President Obama everyday for nearly five years. What did he think was going to happen?
Of course, his audience is going to demand that the repugican cabal impeach Obama. This is what he has been telling them that the president deserves. The repugican rank and file is reaching the point where their own media can no longer control them.
This dynamic caused the weird scene today where Lush Dimbulb was actually arguing against Obama impeachment. The wingnuts are starting to hit code red, and not sure if Lush Dimbulb can stop the repugican meltdown.

Infinity ...

Tuesday, June 11

Faux News Won’t Tell Their Viewers That A repugican Was Behind IRS Targeting

Faux News is playing editing clips of Rep. Elijah Cummings, and refusing to tell their viewers that a repugican was behind the IRS targeting of tea party groups.
On America’s Newsroom, Bill Hemmer played the last part of Rep. Cummings interview on CNN where he expresses his opinion that the case is solved without showing their viewers why he feels that way. Earlier in the interview, Rep. Cummings said, “Listen up now. He was a 21-year veteran of the IRS. And he was — he described himself in the interviews in response to a repugican attorney’s question as a wingnut repugican. Very significant. He is a wingnut repugican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way to what’s showing that the White House was not involved in this. We knew that — and this is the guy by the way, this wingnut 21-year veteran of IRS is the same one who sent the initial case, the tea party case, up to the Washington technical office.”
Hemmer brought in Stephen Hayes from the Weekly Standard, so that they could engage in three minutes of IRS scandal mongering. Hayes tried to invalidate the evidence that a repugican started the review of wingnut groups. Hayes said, “This one person that Congressman Cummings suggests as somebody who tells a little bit of a different story. Now, that person’s story is interesting too. I mean it’s worth hearing all of these things, but to take that one account that suggests that this is not that big of a deal, and declare the entire episode over is somebody who’s looking first to solve the political problems, and not interested in the substantive questions…What Cummings is doing is trying to take one answer from one individual, and declare the whole thing over.”
Hayes then predicted that Rep. Cummings’ remarks will look like a pathetic attempt to deflect political concerns.
What is really pathetic is the obvious spin that Faux News is trying to put on this. Faux News has played the edited Cummings clip repeatedly, but they won’t tell their audience that the person who made this statements that Rep. Cummings is referring to is a repugican. That little piece of information is critical to the story. Since it was a repugican who first raised the red flag and started the targeting process, the wingnut claim that this was a partisan operation run from the White House is completely discredited.
If this is just “one person’s account,” why won’t Faux News give their viewers the specifics of the conservative IRS employee’s claims?
Faux is refusing to their viewers the truth. This is why Faux News isn’t news, and it is certainly not journalism. It is a propaganda network that is intentionally leaving out facts.

The repugican Deficit Hawks Go Silent After S&P Upgrades America’s Credit Outlook

Remember back when every wingnut ran to their mother hen media outlet, Faux News to attack President Obama and progressives when the United States’ credit rating was downgraded. Well, S  P (Standard and Poor’s) issued their latest outlook for America and stated they are upgrading America’s credit outlook from negative to stable. So where are the wingnuts applauding this? Nowhere! You would think that being the patriotic politicians and people they are they would view this would be great news for our country.
According to the report by Reuters,
Standard & Poor’s on Monday revised its credit outlook on the United States government to stable from negative, citing Congress’s avoidance of the year-end 2012 “fiscal cliff” and the higher-than-expected tax receipts that followed.
Additionally, the ratings agency, the only one to have cut the United States from the coveted AAA status, said it does not expect the debate later in 2013 regarding a raising of the debt ceiling to result in “a sudden unplanned contraction in current spending – which could be disruptive – let along debt service.”
The latter part of the paragraph above regarding contraction of spending is particularly interesting, and may be why wingnuts don’t want to talk about this news. S&P doesn’t want austerity spending contraction because it would have a negative effect of the economy which is steadily growing and in turn increasing tax revenue.
America’s deficit has been steadily declining, the treasury is reporting multiple months of surpluses this year already because the economy is substantially stronger, more people are working, and taxes on income above 400,000 dollars are up.
The bottom line is this disrupts the wingnut narrative about out of control spending that repugicans used as the reason for the downgrade in the first place.

Delaware Becomes the 15th State to Reject Citizens United

A bipartisan majority of the Delaware state legislature has come together to call on Congress to overturn Citizens United. Delaware is the 15th state to reject Citizens United.
The bipartisan letter sent to Democrats Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney read in part, “There is no more critical foundation to our government than citizens’ confidence in fair and free elections. The Citizens United decision directly undermines this confidence, and was issued in the absence of any evidence or searching inquiry to refute the fair assumption that unbridled and opaque spending in politics harms American democracy. … The United States of America’s elections should not be permitted to go to the highest bidder, and yet this is the risk that rises from the ashes of the Citizens United decision.”
Delaware joined Maine, West Virginia and Illinois to become the fourth state in the last two months to reject Citizens United. Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado, Montana, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont have also rejected Citizens United.
The movement to overturn Citizens United has been championed at the federal level by Sen. Bernie Sanders, but real change has to start in the states. After a majority of states reject Citizens United, the pressure will be on the federal government to act.
It took one Supreme Court decision to open the doors to the theft of our representation through dark money, but it will take years to reverse the damage that is being done. This is why it is important for citizens in every state to demand that their legislature reject Citizens United. Sign the petition supporting Sen. Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment. Most of all, people need to make their voices heard. The only way that our government will ever return to listening to the will of the people is if we get the special interest money out of their ears.
Red states are joining with blue states, because this isn’t about partisan politics. It’s about creating a government that works for the people, not the highest special interest dollar.

America’s Wealth-Making Machine Is Upside Down

Many well-meaning people mistakenly believe that the ultra-wealthy are the source of American prosperity. They do the saving and investment that creates jobs; they are the entrepreneurs who start new businesses and implement economic innovations; and the well-being of everyone in the working and middle classes is ultimately dependent on the health and prosperity of the ultra-rich, it is widely thought.

This belief is largely bipartisan, although obviously more widely shared among repugicans. Since at least the Clinton administration, Democrats have also worked to implement wealth-friendly policies, often called the “neoliberal consensus,” such as free trade, low taxes on capital income, low inflation and deficit reduction.
The fact that repugicans want these things even more should not obscure the fact that both parties generally share the same economic philosophy, differing only in degree. Thus, despite high unemployment, the federal government has done virtually nothing to create jobs; despite the obvious failure of “austerity” programs in Europe, both parties believe that deficit reduction is the principal fiscal priority; and the obsession with minuscule levels of inflation continues to constrain Federal Reserve policy.
There are, however, a few creative thinkers out there saying that our national priorities are all wrong and that the basic premise of where growth comes from is upside down. One of these is Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur from Seattle, Washington, who argues that strengthening the middle class is the key to wealth creation. And the key to middle class prosperity is good-paying jobs.
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on June 6, Mr. Hanauer argued that consumption is what drives investment, not the other way around.
But consumption is constrained by the continuing impoverishment of the middle class due to wage stagnation and high unemployment, which has reduced labor’s share of the income pie drastically over the last 13 years, as illustrated in the chart.

Hanauer makes a simple and obvious point, but one with profound implications for policy. If growth is essentially demand-driven, the wealthy cannot be the drivers of growth because they simply don’t consume enough and raise their spending very little in response to increases in income. How could they? The number of rich people is small and they can already afford whatever they want.

It’s not only the income of the middle class that is ultimately essential for growth. It’s the wealth of that class, which has been decimated by the fall in home prices and increasing indebtedness, as middle class families struggle to maintain living standards, put their children through college and cope with downward income mobility.
A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis says that the median household has only regained about half the wealth it lost during the recession from recently-rising stock market and home prices. (New data just released yesterday shows further improvement in rebuilding wealth from the recession.)
It’s easy to say that middle class families shouldn’t have locked so much of their wealth into a single asset, housing, that is a highly fickle investment, regularly rising spectacularly and then crashing just as spectacularly. One can also fault the middle class for investing insufficiently in stocks and continuing to stand by the sidelines as stock prices have risen.
The real question is what can be done now, given the straights that middle class families have fallen into. Simply cutting taxes, the repugican one-size-fits-all solution to every problem, isn’t viable as long as both parties insist that deficit reduction is the first priority of fiscal policy. Also, there is zero evidence that the tax cuts of the shrub junta did anything to stimulate growth.
Progressives believe that the decline of labor unions is a key. Unions now represent just 6.6 percent of private sector workers, down from more than 20 percent in the 1970s. Unions used to be able to raise wages and improve benefits in the continuing competition between capital and labor.
But unions declined because of deep economic forces, such as globalization and the shift from manufacturing to services. That will not be reversed by making it easier for workers to organize. The proof is that unions have declined just as much in countries with much stronger protection for unions than the U.S. has.
Mr. Hanauer believes that the rich should pay more taxes. He believes that if all rich people had to pay more it would have little if any economic effect because rich people are motivated more by status and their relative positions in society vis-à-vis other rich people than by the absolute level of their wealth or income. If they all took the same tax hit, their relative position would be unchanged and there would be no economic harm, Hanauer believes.
But unless the higher revenues from taxing the wealthy are somehow channeled into spending programs that benefit the middle class, it is hard to see this move as more than a half step toward middle class-driven, consumption-driven growth.
Mr. Hanauer favors a big increase in the minimum wage to improve the income of the middle class. He thinks the higher incomes of those who get higher wages will raise spending and, ultimately, economic growth and profits for businesses. But unless businesses can raise their prices to pay for a higher minimum wage, I don’t see how this can possibly work. And unless the Federal Reserve permits inflation to rise, it simply won’t happen. The result will be higher unemployment, not faster growth.
The important thing, at this point, is to have at least a dialogue on creative solutions to the nation’s core problem – the continuing impoverishment of the middle class due to high unemployment, wage stagnation, rising health costs, and the collapse of housing prices.
It should be obvious by now that further governmental austerity measures will only make matters worse, but there appears to be no support for an expansionary fiscal policy, a federal jobs program, or a more stimulative monetary policy. Sadly, this means there is no end in sight to middle class malaise, which means that economic growth likely will be stuck where it is for the foreseeable future.

Random Celebrity Photos


Ava Gardner stuns at the beach 
Ava Gardner stuns at the beach

Sober Man Arrested for DUI

Jessie Thornton arrested for DUI despite no alcohol in breathalyzerThe city of Surprise, Arizona, has an unwelcome surprise for 64-year-old retired firefighter Jessie Thornton: its police officers can tell whether a person is drunk simply by looking in his eyes, breathalyzer test be damned!
Christopher Sign of ABC15 has the scoop:
"He (the officer) walked up and he said 'I can tell you're driving DUI by looking in your eyes,'" said Thornton. [...]

According to documents provided to ABC15 from the City of Surprise, Thornton was taken to police headquarters where he took a breathalyzer test.
The test, according to the police documents came back with a blood alcohol level of 0.000.
"Yes, I do the breathalyzer and it comes back zero, zero, zero," said Thornton.
While in custody, a "DRE" or drug recognition expert is called to test Thornton.
"After he did all the tests, he says, 'I would never have arrested you, you show no signs of impairment,'" said Thornton.

Woman bitten by daughter during fried chicken fracas

An 18-year-old woman was arrested after reportedly biting her mother during a domestic dispute in Bethlehem, Barrow County, Georgia. Deputies arrived at the residence and found a "visibly upset" woman in the carport.

The woman, according to the incident report, had a "severe bite wound" on her shoulder that was bleeding. The bitten woman said she was trying to determine who had eaten some fried chicken. The woman explained that when she tried to ask her daughter, Laura Wun Ngai Fong, about the chicken, Fong turned up the music and ignored her.

The woman said she yelled for Fong to turn the music down, but Fong continued to ignore her. At that point, the woman "went close to her daughter to yell at her about the music and the chicken." Fong, according to the report, then grabbed a dumbbell and threatened to hit her mother with it. A physical altercation ensued during which Fong allegedly bit her mother on the shoulder. Another daughter separated the two until authorities arrived.

Based on statements from the parties involved and witness accounts, the deputy determined Fong was the primary aggressor for having picked up the dumbbell and turning a verbal argument into a physical confrontation. Fong was placed under arrest on charges of family violence aggravated assault and family violence battery.

How to Earn $333,000 Without Working a Day

BART general manager Dorothy DuggerNo, it's not a get-rich-quick scam. It's quite real.
Apparently the secret to a lucrative payoff is to work as a public employee for the Bay Area Rapid Transit, the San Francisco bay area's rapid transit sytem:
With a gross salary of more than $333,000, BART's highest-paid employee last year wasn't its general manager, police chief or a worker who racked up gobs of overtime scrubbing grime from filthy train seats.
It was someone who did no work at all for BART in 2012: Dorothy Dugger, the agency's former general manager who resigned under pressure more than two years ago.
Under a lucrative retirement scheme, Dugger, 57, quietly stayed on the books, burning off nearly 80 weeks of unused vacation time, drawing paychecks and full benefits for more than 19 months after she agreed to quit in May 2011, according to an analysis by this newspaper. By remaining on BART's payroll, she accrued almost two extra months of vacation, while sitting at home drawing a six-figure salary for unused time off.
Thomas Peele and Daniel J. Willis of Bay Area News Group reports in this Mercury News article: Here.

Twelve Amazing Earth Scars

Our planet is covered in pockmarks so deep that they can be seen from space. Some were caused by asteroid strikes, but most are the result of human meddling. Here are some of the most incredible examples of the scarred Earth.

Daily Comic Relief


The case for flowers on the farm

South African mango farms that added patches of native, flowering plants not only attracted more pollinators than traditional, monoculture mango farms — they also produced more mangoes.

Deer get themselves in a bit of a pickle

Well, this deer found by the side No Name Road in the Port Pine Heights, Florida Keys, is breathing more easily after a police officer removed a Doritos bag from its head.

While this deer, which had had a plastic jar stuck on its head for at least four days, was saved by Janet Murphy in Hermantown, Minnesota.

How to Make Apple Roses

roseTo make these cute snacks from Kouzino Mageieremata, core apples and slice them thinly. Boil the apple slices to make them soft. Then place layers of puff pastry in the bottoms of muffin cups and arrange the soft apple slices on the pastry dough like rose petals. After you add sugar and spices and bake them, you'll have an eye-catching and mouth-watering treat.

Blood Is Their Argument: anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon

I majored in anthropology in college, I was fascinated by the work of Napoleon A. Chagnon and his seminal 1968 text Yanomamo: The Fierce People. Chagnon's time as a field scientist in the Amazon had a profound impact on the field of anthropology even as his methods (and misunderstandings of his methods) resulted in an academic war on his research and his character. To further explore Chagnon's legacy, and what he really found in the rainforest, BB pal John Brockman of EDGE convened a meeting between Chagnon and big thinkers Steven Pinker, Richard Wrangham, Daniel C. Dennett, and David Haig. The result is 30,00 words of conversation and hours of video that John says is "one of the most significant events in (Edge's) sixteen year history." From an intro to the materials by Richard Dawkins:
YanoooChagnon committed the unforgivable sin, cardinal heresy in the eyes of a certain kind of social scientist: he took Darwin seriously. Along with a few friends and colleagues, Chagnon studied the up-to-date literature on natural selection theory, and with brilliant success he applied the ideas of Fisher, Hamilton, Trivers and other heirs of Darwin to a human tribe which probably ran as close to the cutting edge of natural selection as any in the world. It is sobering to reflect on how unconventional a step this was: science bursting into the quasi-literary world of the anthropology in which the young Chagnon was trained. Still today, in many American departments of social science, for a young researcher to announce a serious interest in Darwin's dangerous idea--even an inclination towards scientific thinking at all--can come close to career suicide.

What Your Doughnut Selection Says About You

You already know what your morning eggs say about you, but what about your choice of donut?  As a jelly-filled donut fan, I find the description pretty accurate because I am a big softie, especially when it comes to kitten videos. Do these descriptions fit you?

Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes

Your ancestors' lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.

Darwin and Freud walk into a bar. Two alcoholic mice — a mother and her son — sit on two bar stools, lapping gin from two thimbles.
The mother mouse looks up and says, “Hey, geniuses, tell me how my son got into this sorry state.”
“Bad inheritance,” says Darwin.
“Bad mothering,” says Freud.

Lost Egyptian City Found Underwater

The ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion disappeared beneath the Mediterranean 1,200 years ago. Founded around 8th century BC, it is believed Heracleion served as the obligatory port of entry to Egypt for all ships coming from the Greek world.

Prior to its discovery in 2000 by archaeologist Franck Goddio and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, no trace of Thonis-Heracleion had been found (the city was known to the Greeks as Thonis). Its name was almost razed from the memory of mankind, only preserved in ancient classic texts and rare inscriptions found on land by archaeologists.

Prehistoric henge unearthed in Kent

An “incredible” prehistoric henge has been unearthed during an archeological dig in Sittingbourne. The Bronze Age find at the Meads in Sonora Fields is the first of its kind to be confirmed and excavated in Swale.
Prehistoric henge unearthed in Kent
An aerial view of the site [Credit: Canterbury Archaeological Trust]
Experts said the Neolithic monument “would have been a significant feature on the landscape”, and its discovery centuries later at the centre of a busy housing estate could turn into a future mecca for historians.

Dr John Hammond, a specialist in prehistory at Canterbury Archeological Trust, which carried out the work, said: “This is an incredibly important site. It’s the second confirmed henge monument to be found in Kent [the first was in Ringlemere near Sandwich] and dates back to the period of Stone Henge. It’s incredibly exciting and we look forward to finding out more about how our ancestors lived 5,000 years ago. At the moment it’s a site of regional importance, but in two years’ time we could be talking about one of national importance.”

The trust began investigating the site - part of Meads housing estate - last November.

It was organised ahead of a proposed housing development by Abbey New Homes and followed a dig in 2008 at a neighbouring site which uncovered an Anglo-Saxon cemetery as well as Neolithic, Bronze Age burials.

Prehistoric henge unearthed in Kent
A horse's skeleton was among the finds [Credit: Canterbury Archaeological Trust]
During the latest exploration, archaeologists realised they were dealing with a henge when two circles of identical post-holes were revealed inside the large outer ditch. Finds included broken pottery, flint implements, a piece of unworked amber, a human cremation in an urn and the remains of a crouched human burial, where the body is laid on its side.

A group of four Anglo-Saxon graves were also discovered. These were thought to be “outliers” from the cemetery found during the 2008 dig. The graves contained a few personal items but the bodies they were buried with did not survive.

Dr Hammond, who also teaches archaeology at the University of Kent, said: “As our research continues, we hope to be able to build up a good picture of life in the Murston and Iwade areas during the early Bronze Age, which at this time is something we only have a very limited understanding about.

“To find a monument of this kind is very rare.”

For more information, visit the Canterbury Archaeological Trust's website

More rare ancient finds uncovered in Fukuoka

Lacquered bows and farm tools from at least 14 centuries ago were uncovered in a site here that amazed archaeology buffs earlier this spring with the discovery of a complete set of trappings and ornaments from a war horse.
More rare ancient finds uncovered in Fukuoka
The excavation site where bows and other ornaments were discovered in Koga,
Fukuoka Prefecture
Koga municipal board of education officials said June 7 it is extremely rare for so many items to be buried close to a burial mound.

The latest discoveries, in the Taniyama district, are so well preserved that scholars can determine the shape of the bows, as well as how metal ornaments were attached.

The findings will likely help researchers in determining what rituals were involved in selecting burial accessories.

The bows were uncovered at a site about 5 meters from the Funabaru burial mound, which dates to the late sixth century to early seventh century. The lacquered bows were between 2.2 to 2.3 meters long. At least six bows were discovered buried in a row in the northern part of the site.

Metal ornaments used on the bows were also found at equal distances to each other. Parts attached to the tips of the bows to tie the bowstring were also found. The parts were made of metal and antlers.

It is apparently the first time that so many bows have been found in a single location during excavations of sites from the "burial mounds age," which ran from the third through seventh centuries. The set will likely exceed the bows found at the Doboyama burial mound in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture.

Several dozen arrowhead were also found together in the southern part of the site. Among the farm tools found were a spade head and sickle made from iron.

Researchers also confirmed that there were at least four sets of horse armor at the site, which extended for about 5.3 meters in a north-south direction. A short extension was found at a right angle to the southern part of the site, forming a reverse L-shape.

First evidence that the genome can adapt to temperature changes

The researchers have been tracking the evolution of Drosophila subobscura, a small fly that is very common all over Europe, since 1976. They are focusing on a specific type of genomic variability known as chromosomal inversion polymorphism. The study has compared how the flies' genomes change from spring to summer, summer to autumn and autumn to spring, over the years.
First evidence that the genome can adapt to temperature changes
According to the research, the gene patterns of Drosophila subobscura, a common fruit fly, are changing so as to adapt to climate change
In pre-2011 studies of one of D. subobscura's five chromosome pairs, performed in a population near the town of Santiago de Compostela, the researchers observed that this type of adaptation is related to changes in environmental temperature. Two types of genetic variation were identified: one that adapts to the cold, since its frequency always increases in winter, and another that adapts to heat, showing the opposite behaviour pattern. The relative frequency of both types of variation was seen to have evolved in consonance with climate changes. Present-day flies present more heat-tolerant varieties than those of the 70s.

In April, 2011, monitoring coincided with the intense heatwave that struck western Europe and other parts of the world. The study was widened to cover not only the original chromosome pair but all the species' five chromosome pairs, and fly samples were collected from another population, in Gordexola, near Bilbao. The conclusions could therefore be extrapolated on a genome-wide scale and on a geographical scale, to the northern third of Spain.

In an article in the journal Biology Letters, of the British Royal Society, the researchers show that the 2011 heatwave dramatically altered the genetic constitution of natural populations of Drosophila subobscura. In the middle of spring, and over a single generation, the populations acquired a genetic constitution typical of the summer, because of the heatwave.

According to the study's findings, the difference in reproductive success between genotypes that were sensitive to the heatwave and those that were resistant to it was extremely high: during the heatwave, flies carrying genomic variants tolerant to the temperature increase left on average five times more descendents than those with variants that were sensitive to these changes.

It was also observed that, after the heatwave, the populations recovered their previous genetic make-up. This shows that some organisms possess high genetic resilience to this type of environmental disturbance.

"Our results indicate that resistance to heat has a genetic origin. However, we are not suggesting there is a gene for cold or a gene for heat, but rather that genetic factors for heat resistance are distributed throughout the genome, in these organisms at least," points out Francisco Rodriguez-Trelles, the UAB researcher who coordinated the study. "Our findings are substantial proof that the rise in temperature is affecting the evolution of certain species."

Also taking part in the study were Rosa Tarrío and Mauro Santos, researchers from the Evolutionary Biology Group of the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the UAB.

Extinct species revival raises hopes, fears

The world’s last passenger pigeons perished a century ago. But a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based research project could send them flocking into the skies again, using genetic engineering to restore the once-abundant species and chart a revival for other long-gone creatures.
Extinct species revival raises hopes, fears
Taxidermied specimen, Bird Gallery, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
The promise and peril of “resurrection biology” — which could bring back other long-gone species such as the woolly mammoth and Tasmanian tiger but runs the risk of undermining conservation efforts — was the topic for experts who gathered this weekend at Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.

“The grand goal is to bring the passenger pigeon back to life,” said researcher Ben Novak of Revive and Restore, supported by entrepreneur Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation of San Francisco and conducted at the University of California at Santa Cruz. “We’re at the baby step of stage one.”

After studying old and damaged gene fragments of 70 dead passenger pigeons in the lab of UCSC professor Beth Shapiro, the team will assemble — in computers — the genetic code of the bird once hunted to extinction. They hope to complete that within a year.

Within two years, they plan to synthesize the actual DNA code, using commercially available nucleotides. This material will be inserted into the embryo of the passenger pigeon’s closest living relative, a bandtailed pigeon.

Passenger pigeons once numbered in the billions, blackening the skies and inspiring naturalists like John James Audubon, John Muir and Aldo Leopold. They had vanished by the First World War, victims of hunting and habitat loss.

But resurrected flocks reintroduced into a modern environment could be an invasive species, noted Andrew Torrance of the University of Kansas Law School. They also would be genetically modified organisms, subject to federal regulation. “This could make reintroduction a challenge, under current law,” said Alex Camacho, director of UC Irvine’s Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources. “The Endangered Species Act did not contemplate revival of extinct species.”

Some conservationists say bringing back lost species will distract from conservation of living species in danger of extinction.

Animal Pictures