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Monday, June 17, 2013

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Today in History

362   Emperor Julian issues an edict banning Christians from teaching in Syria.  
1579   Sir Francis Drake claims San Francisco Bay for England.  
1775   The British take Bunker Hill outside of Boston, after a costly battle.  
1799   Napoleon Bonaparte incorporates Italy into his empire.  
1848   Austrian General Alfred Windischgratz crushes a Czech uprising in Prague.  
1854   The Red Turban revolt breaks out in Guangdong, China.  
1856   The Republican Party opens its first national convention in Philadelphia.  
1861   President Abraham Lincoln witnesses Dr. Thaddeus Lowe demonstrate the use of a hot-air balloon. 1863   On the way to Gettysburg, Union and Confederate forces skirmish at Point of Rocks, Maryland. 1872   George M. Hoover begins selling whiskey in Dodge City, Kansas–a town which had previously been "dry."  
1876   General George Crook's command is attacked and bested on the Rosebud River by 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Crazy Horse.  
1912   The German Zeppelin SZ 111 burns in its hanger in Friedrichshafen.  
1913   U.S. Marines set sail from San Diego to protect American interests in Mexico.  
1917   The Russian Duma meets in secret session in Petrograd and votes for an immediate Russian offensive against the German Army.  
1924   The Fascist militia marches into Rome.  
1926   Spain threatens to quit the League of Nations if Germany is allowed to join.  
1930   The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill becomes law, placing the highest tariff on imports to the United States. 1931   British authorities in China arrest Indochinese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.  
1932   The U.S. Senate defeats the Bonus Bill as 10,000 veterans mass around the Capitol.  
1940   The Soviet Union occupies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.  
1942   Yank a weekly magazine for the U.S. armed services, begins publication.  
1944   French troops land on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean.  
1950   Surgeon Richard Lawler performs the first kidney transplant operation in Chicago.  
1953   Soviet tanks fight thousands of Berlin workers rioting against the East German government.  
1963   The U.S. Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord's prayer and Bible in public schools. 1965   27 B-52s hit Viet Cong outposts, but lose two planes in South Vietnam.  
1970   North Vietnamese troops cut the last operating rail line in Cambodia.  
1972   Five men are arrested for burglarizing Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.
1994   Millions of Americans watch former football player O.J. Simpson–facing murder charges–drive his Ford Bronco through Los Angeles, followed by police.

Non Sequitur

Monday, June 17

Did you know ...

About the gender gap in silicone valley

That Google banned Google Glasses from its own shareholder meeting

That the rise of jellyfish reveals sickness of world's oceans

Just how Kodak failed

The repugican cabal, their supporters, and Münchausen Syndrome By Proxy

From Occupy Democrats

by Lisa Longo

Sometimes our children do amazing things. And we all like to brag about their amazing feats of agility, strength and intelligence. But sometimes you come across a parent who likes to complain instead of brag. We've all met them, the drama queens who love to tell you every misery and mistake their child makes. The tall tale tellers who say they don't want to create "more" drama, and then carry on with their melodramatic musings and pedantic pronouncements.

These parents take great pleasure in sharing their "misfortune" and seem to create circumstances that put their children in the worst possible light, but puts them in the spotlight. There is even a name for it, Munchausen Syndrome by proxy.

According to Wikipedia:

    Münchausen syndrome by proxy(MSbP or MBP) is a controversial term that is used to describe a behavior pattern in which a caregiver deliberately exaggerates, fabricates, and/or induces physical, psychological, behavioral, and/or mental health problems in those who are in their care

We've been friends with such a parent. And it isn't easy. The constant catastrophes. The continual complaints and contrived circumstances that always end in this parent being "misunderstood". The doctors who don't get it. The hospital staff that won't agree with her diagnosis. The therapists who give bad advice. It is hard to watch. We've had our concerns and tried to help, but you can't help someone who is hell-bent on being the producer, director and star of their own scary movie. They simply don't want the help. It dims their spotlight.

But I've come to the conclusion that this syndrome is actually a national problem. And the biggest victims are a few repugicans in the House and the wingnut hate speakers on Faux and talk radio. Yes indeed, the repugican cabal seems to have a bad case of "deliberately exaggerating, fabricating and inducing physical, psychological, behavioral and/or mental health problems in those who are in their care."

Now, the House Democrats aren't totally pure and blame-free, and there are one or two liberal commentators that lean pretty far left to make their point, and they've got their own issues, mostly along the lines of what I think of as premature effectiveness. They have great ideas, but they so often just can't hold out long enough to get the job done.

There is a huge difference between telling supporters to go out and buy guns and ammo, stockpile food, water and gold,  and telling them to go write a letter to your Congressperson or to make a call to your Senator.

That is the difference between conservative and liberal commentators. The barking Brick, vocal vomit spewing Dimbulb and hateful Hand-job tell listeners they have to bear arms because the "time is coming" when citizens will have to "defend themselves" from their own government. And yes, that is exactly what is said every day from 9am until 6pm on wingnut hate talk radio.

I know because I force myself to listen to their drivel. I consider it self-defense.

And just like the children of parents with Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, the followers of these dogmatic drama queens suffer the consequences. They believe what they hear is true, and then they act based upon the delusional drama they are fed constantly.

The repugican cabal Is Teaching Hate by Passing Their Bigotry Down To The Next Generation

Americans love to mark specific days to celebrate and honor important American achievements and various members of society, and cynics often state the obvious that days honoring children, grandparents, mothers, and fathers are promoted mercilessly by commerce to guilt consumers into spending their hard-earned cash. In 1910, as a complement to the day honoring mothers, a day celebrating fatherhood and to honor male parenting began humbly in Spokane Washington, and after a slow start, it has become a commercial success and for many, the one day each year they express gratitude for their fathers. There is little doubt that fathers play a crucial role in how their children grow and develop into adults, and it is true that one can learn a great deal about a father through their children’s attitudes, work ethic, and morality whether for the better or worse, and after recent revelations two Republican legislator’s sons posted vile bigoted remarks on social media, it informs they are, if not their fathers’ sons, they are certainly repugican cabal sons.
First, it is important to acknowledge that not all repugicans are racists, homophobes, anti-immigrant, and sexist sycophants, but there is no denying the repugican cabal made great use of coded, but glaringly obvious, references to lazy African Americans, dangerous immigrants, and homosexuals ripping apart the moral fiber of America before, during, and after the campaigns in the 2012 election. None of the references were accidental, and they catered to the significant number of bigoted voters repugicans counted on to win their respective elections whether it was for state or national legislatures or the presidency of the United States. It cannot be disputed that repugicans would not risk alienating minority, immigrant, women, or gay voters if they were not certain their supporters would have little trouble decoding not-so-subtle bigotry and show up at the ballot box to support candidates that shared their bigotry. Subsequently, repugican politicians’ children learned to recognize repugican cabal dog whistles to racists, homophobes, anti-immigrant, and sexist voters and two examples are Senator Jeff Flake (r-AZ) and Representative Joe Heck’s (r-NV) sons.
Jeff Flake’s son, Tanner, chose the moniker “n*ggerkiller” for an online game, made comments on YouTube freely using the n-word, referred to Mexican Americans as “the scum of the Earth,” and usedf*ggot” and “Jew” freely on social media outlet Twitter. Heck’s son, Joey, revealed he learned from repugicans’ coded bigotry and used words such as “f*ggot” and “n*gga,” and demeaned Mexican Americans claiming New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez “can hop the border faster than he can throw the ball.” He also parroted repugican anti-gay rhetoric that, “there are gays everywhere. Maybe that’s god’s way of thinning the population because faggots can’t have babies.” The young Heck also assailed presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz as unqualified because of her gender, and that Willard Romney “made Barack Obama his ‘slave.’” He also asserted President Obama was “promoting the sports of spear chucking and rock skipping; sports they do in his home country.”  Now, it is impossible to know for sure whether Flake and Heck’s sons learned their bigotry while campaigning with their dad’s or in the backyard playing catch, but they certainly noticed the dog whistles the fathers’ cabal used during the 2012 campaign.
The repugicans made frequent use of terms their constituency understood to demean African Americans and minorities with words such asillegals,” Newt Gingrich decrying Obama as the “food stamp President,” Romney claiming Obama supporters want handouts,” and “welfare;” especially during the repugican primaries in Southern states.  Although not repeated openly by repugicans in Congress, repugican cabal leaders never tamped down claims by wingnut conspiracy delusional hacks questioning the President’s citizenship, or assertions he was a “Muslim, power-mad socialist, dumb affirmative-action baby,” or that he won the presidency because of promotion by “a race-crazed, condescending liberal elite.” In a more direct form of racial animus, repugicans at all levels have been exposed for sending racist emails they dismissed as “politically inspired jokes” and never racially insensitive. It is likely that after four years of repugican propaganda, the racial hostility targeting the President did rub off on Flake and Heck’s sons, and it seems obvious they failed to condemn the racial animus at home or their children would not feel comfortable spreading hate on visibly open social media forums that were sure to be exposed.
It is entirely possible that Senator Flake and Representative Heck are not bigots in repugican ranks, and it is true their supporters do not define the politicians, but it is curious they never condemned the racial animus of their supporters. The repugican fathers must understand that every time they address supporters decrying the gay threat, lazy African Americans stealing wealth from white people, immigrants polluting America, and the African
American President who “needs to learn to be an American,” their children standing behind them absorb every word as gospel. Perhaps men like Flake and Heck spent quality time teaching their sons that part of campaigning is repeating bigoted rhetoric and just politics as usual and not their true sentiments, but based on their sons’ openly bigoted remarks, it is doubtful they were doing anything but parroting what they spent their short lives learning at home and on the campaign trail.
It is truly tragic that the majority of bigotry both adults and children express openly was passed down from father, and mother, to children over generations. Children are not naturally bigoted, prejudiced, or full of hate, but they are natural sponges and they pick up every bigoted remark their parents utter whether it is demeaning gays, minorities, or a religion other than christianity. Politicians’ children are not immune from their fathers’ rhetoric, and neither are children of parents parroting demeaning remarks made during the long and perpetual campaigns Americans suffer through. The repugican cabal is guilty of perpetuating racial animus, anti-gay sentiments, and the hateful intolerance toward immigrants to garner support from the current and next generation of bigoted voters. Fathers cannot control what repugican politicians do in words and deeds, but they can shield their sons and daughters from their bigoted rhetoric; unless they are repugican politicians themselves and in that case, they have already programmed the next generation of bigots.

Haters always hate

Good idea - take this child who was born in Denver and knows only English and send her "back" to Mexico because her parents wanted a slice of The Dream back in 2002.

The repugicans Are Quietly Rolling Back Obama’s Wall St. Regulations

It is not often, if ever, that a government gets the opportunity to track documented events that lead to devastation on a massive scale, and then have tools at their disposal to ensure a horrendous recurrence will never decimate its citizens’ lives again.  After the collapse of the financial sector in 2008, President Obama and Democrats took what were arguably critical steps to guarantee American financial institutions and Wall Street could never destroy America and the world’s economy through unregulated use of derivative trading by enacting financial reform. The repugicans claimed the steps were vicious government overreach holding back unrestrained banking profits regardless the reforms protected the nation’s economic health and the population’s ability to survive after shrub-repugicans eviscerated America’s economy. Leading up to the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama warned the American people that giving repugicans control of Congress was tantamount to granting them permission to drive the economy into the ditch, and his words were nothing short of prophetic.
Over the past two weeks, repugicans, with the assistance of a distressing number of Democrats, quietly took steps to re-deregulate derivative trading by eliminating crucial aspects of the 2010 financial reform bill (Dodd-Frank) to allow Wall Street and the financial sector to revisit and repeat the precise steps they took in creating the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. In a typical repugican rebranding to give the financial sector free rein to rape and pillage the American and world economy, House repugicans labeled a deregulatory measure “job creation” and convinced doe-eyed Democrats to help erase aspects of 2010′s financial reform that assured Americans they can expect another economic crash so the wealthy can prosper when they reap all the profits from the next Democratic President’s recovery efforts. Unsurprisingly, main stream media kept the devastating move out of the public’s glaze as corporate-driven media stands to profit from the next financial bailout and recovery efforts while more Americans slip into poverty, lose their retirement savings, jobs, and homes that will dominate weeks’ worth of news’ cycles and headlines for years.
The move by repugicans was part of a slate of deregulatory bills to roll back recent financial reforms and deregulate complex financial products (derivatives) that created the 2008 financial crisis. Unfortunately, the deregulatory legislation targeting financial regulation (Dodd-Frank) had broad bipartisan backing, with one bill passing despite vigorous objections from the White House, leading regulators, and senior Democratic lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee. Nearly two-thirds of House Democrats opposed the measure which aims to eliminate U.S. supervision of overseas activities by U.S. banks, even though nearly two-thirds of them on the banking committee voted for it last month. The good news is that the measures will likely fail in the Senate and President Obama’s veto, but it increases pressure on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to bow to repugican demands because they are wholly dependent on House repugicans for funding.
The repugican deregulatory measure explicitly restricts the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission from supervising overseas swaps trading by U.S. institutions meant to protect government and taxpayers who will ultimately pick up the tab when unsupervised trading leads to the same massive losses the world and nation’s economies suffered during the last shrub-repugican deregulatory frenzy. The repugican move is precisely what President Obama warned Americans would happen if they gave repugicans the keys to the economy again and portends America is bound to suffer another, more devastating, financial meltdown within a few years of the President’s masterful economic recovery maneuvers opposed by repugicans every step of the way.
What should be no surprise to any American with more than an amoeba’s brainpower is that the largest and most powerful American financial groups enthusiastically support, and likely pay handsomely for, the deregulation measures because the secretive swaps trading is among the most lucrative for the financial sector and Wall Street. The banking industry use swaps to hedge their risk and speculate on financial markets’ movements such as on interest rates and creditworthiness to the tune of more than $30 billion in annual profit. Profit, by the way, that flows directly to the wealthy and corporate banking sector that continues repugicans’ thirty year effort of wealth increase for the one-percent as regular Americans continue suffering declining incomes and assets repugicans are systematically transferring directly to their wealthy campaign donors.
Over the past couple of years many pundits attributed repugican economic ideology to insanity borne of “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” but repugicans know exactly what the results of deregulating the financial sector will be. It has been less than ten years since shrub-repugicans deregulated the financial sector that drove the nation into the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, and they are on a crusade to repeat the disaster again to enrich their masters in the banking, Wall Street, and corporate finance industry regardless the catastrophic effects on the American people. As a reminder, the last deregulatory enterprise cost tens-of-millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their life-long retirement savings that repugicans are on a tear to repeat as well as transfer Americans’ Social Security retirement accounts to epic failure 401Ks many retirees lost in the last repugican crash.
There is no other way to describe what repugican intentions are in repeating the same deregulation frenzy except to deliberately destroy the American economy once and for all to allow their wealthy supporters the opportunity to step in and buy the United States lock, stock, and barrel. After sitting back and observing repugicans repeat the rest of the world’s economic mistake of imposing austerity during a recovery to devastating effect on growth, unemployment, and social programs, and celebrating a job-killing sequester the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just cited as the reason they cut America’s 2014 growth forecast because of “excessively rapid and ill-designed government spending cuts,” there is no other conclusion but that repugicans want America to fail and are taking steps to hasten its demise.
Interestingly, the IMF specifically cited policy recommendations proffered by President Obama, and rejected out-of-hand by repugicans, to “repeal the sequester cuts and adopt a more balanced and gradual pace of fiscal consolidation” because the “automatic spending cuts exert a heavy toll on growth in the short term, and the indiscriminate reductions in education, science, and infrastructure spending will certainly reduce medium-term potential growth.” Now, it is glaringly obvious that not only are repugicans intent on prohibiting job creation and potential growth, they are Hell-bent on recreating the same environment and conditions that allowed one of their primary funding mechanisms to all-but destroy the nation’s economy in 2008, and have the audacity to give them the same tools to repeat their devastation again under the tired meme of “job creation.”

Yet Another Big Money Financial Scandal

Five Traders Say Foreign Currency Exchange Rates Rigged

    by Mark Karlin
    foreigncur6 12Despite widespread criticism that the titans of the financial world engage in illegal or destructive profiteering practices – and escape punishment except for a few scapegoats, evidence and reports of trading improprieties continue to emerge.
    Of all publications, Bloomberg.com headlines the most recent alleged global financial scandal: "Traders Said to Rig Currency Rates to Profit Off Clients."  Yes, Bloomberg reports that five big-time currency traders (as in converting dollars to yen for example) say that they have engaged in or witnessed the fixing of exchange rates for greater profit.
    In a rather complicated scheme that involves split-second timing, foreign currency traders, executing orders on behalf of clients, game the system to make larger profits at the expense of those who have retained them to convert currencies.
    That's a wordy way of saying clients get cheated by some of the foreign currency traders, because the traders are driving up exchange rates and making money on the increased margin.
    As a June 12 Bloomberg article reports:
    “The FX [foreign currency exchange] market is like the Wild West,” said James McGeehan, who spent 12 years at banks before co-founding Framingham, Massachusetts-based FX Transparency LLC, which advises companies on foreign-exchange trading, in 2009.
    “It’s buyer beware.”The $4.7-trillion-a-day currency market, the biggest in the financial system, is one of the least regulated. The inherent conflict banks face between executing client orders and profiting from their own trades is exacerbated because most currency trading takes place away from exchanges.
    Given the lawlessness and recklessness of the global financial giants in weakly regulated markets, imagine the larcenous behavior that likely occurs in a completely unregulated market.
    Doesn't it appear that large "too big to fail" institutions – whether they be financial, corporate or the federal government spying on us – appear guilty as charged when their response to charges of illegality and impropriety is a limp, "Trust us."
    Okay, trust a used-car salesman who when you lift up the hood of a rusty car -- parked on a lot of broken asphalt -- only to find no engine, and you gasp and tell the salesman that you won't buy the car without a motor, and his cool-as-a-cumber response is, "Trust me, it will run."
    Bloomberg financial news quotes an expert as to the toll of gaming the foreign currency exchange system: “The price mechanism is the anchor of our entire economic system,” said Tom Kirchmaier, a fellow in the financial-markets group at the London School of Economics. “Any rigging of the price mechanism leads to a misallocation of capital and is extremely costly to society.”
    So guess what?  When it comes to foreign currency exchange profiteering abuses, there is no regulatory recourse, according to Bloomberg:
    While U.K. regulators require dealers to act with integrity and avoid conflicts, there are no specific rules or agencies governing spot foreign-exchange trading in Britain or the U.S. That may make it harder to bring prosecutions for market abuse, according to Srivastava, the Baker & McKenzie partner.
    Spot foreign-exchange transactions aren’t considered financial instruments in the same way as stocks and bonds. They fall outside the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or Mifid, which requires dealers to take all reasonable steps to ensure the best possible results for their clients. They’re also exempt from the Dodd-Frank Act, which seeks to regulate over-the-counter derivatives in the U.S.
    “Just because Mifid doesn’t apply, the spot FX market shouldn’t be a free-for-all for banks,” said Ash Saluja, a partner at CMS Cameron McKenna LLP in London. “Whenever you have a client relationship, there is a duty there.”
    Ah, a duty!  Just trust the traders.  After all, their firms have signed a voluntary "code of conduct."
    Nothing like that old free market neo-liberal Chamber of Commerce "let them regulate themselves" cover-up for financial hanky panky.
    So if you have a yen for trading dollars into another currency, try the unlicensed street traders in the shady part of cities around the world.
    They'll probably cut you a better deal.
    But, of course, what Bloomberg is analyzing is big institutional movement of different currencies.  There's not enough profit in manipulating the street action.

    The truth be told

    Hypocrisy Overload

    From the "Pot calling the Kettle black" Department:

    Dick Cheney Calls Edward Snowden a Traitor

    Dick Cheney helped mislead the country into invading Iraq and has been convicted of war crimes, but he thinks Edward Snowden is a traitor.
    Faux News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Cheney what he thought of Edward Snowden. Cheney said, “I think he is a traitor. I think he has committed crimes that violate agreements given the position he had. He was contractor employed, but obviously granted top secret clearance, and this is one of the worst occasions in my memory of someone with access to top secret information doing enormous damage to the national security of the United States.”
    Wallace and Cheney then speculated on whether or not Snowden was spying for the Chinese. Cheney did say that he was deeply suspicious that Snowden was a spy, “because he went to China. It’s not ordinarily a place you want to go if you’re interested in freedom, liberty, and so forth.”
    What the former vice president left out of the conversation was that Snowden would have never had access to classified information without the explosion of the private contractor intelligence industry after the Patriot Act was passed. Without the Patriot Act, Edward Snowden may not have been in position to access classified information.
    Cheney was part of an junta that fabricated intelligence in order to mislead the country into invading Iraq, so I don’t think he has any room to be tossing the traitor word around.
    The lunatic’s capacity for hypocrisy is astounding. Ultimately Edward Snowden is responsible for his own actions, but the policies of shrub/Cheney junta opened the door for this to happen.
    The word traitor is being thrown around almost as often as the term whistle blower, but I am not comfortable with either description. The facts are that Snowden is a leaker, who definitely committed crimes. If Edward Snowden did pass intelligence to the Chinese, he is a traitor and a spy. (Interestingly, if Snowden did or does pass information to the Chinese, what does that make Glenn Greenwald?)
    Snowden’s decision to flee to Chinese controlled Hong Kong was an odd one, but it could also be the byproduct of being a high school dropout who may not be that smart.
    The lunatic is in no position to call anybody a traitor, but if anyone knows treasonous behavior it is certainly Dick Cheney.

    NSA admits it listens in on US phone calls and reads US emails without a warrant

    It's a pity that so many senators skipped the NSA's classified briefing on its secret spying program, because if they'd attended, they'd have heard something shocking: the NSA can and does access the content of emails and phone calls of Americans on US soil without a warrant. It's an important insight into the President's secret interpretation of FISA, one of America's most notorious spying laws.
    Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."
    If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
    Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
    Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.
    The NSA is supposed to only spy on us dirty foreigners. As sketchy as it is to divide the world into the spied-upon and the un-spied-upon, it is nevertheless the law, and should be comforting to those the latter category. This revelation confirms that the Obama administration has doubled down on GW Bush's project of lawless, authoritarian surveillance, treating the Constitution and Congress's laws as mere formalities. So much for "the most transparent administration in history."

    Reality is ...

    My computer hard drive crashed

    FYI: 53 Senators Blew Off Briefing On Secret NSA Program Because They Wanted to Go Home

    Fifty three senators skipped Friday’s briefing on the secret NSA data mining program, because they wanted to go home early for Father’s Day weekend.
    According to The Hill:
    The Senate held its last vote of the week a little after noon on Thursday, and many lawmakers were eager to take advantage of the short day and head back to their home states for Father’s Day weekend.
    Only 47 of 100 senators attended the 2:30 briefing, leaving dozens of chairs in the secure meeting room empty as Clapper, Alexander and other senior officials told lawmakers about classified programs to monitor millions of telephone calls and broad swaths of Internet activity. The room on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center is large enough to fit the entire Senate membership, according to a Senate aide.
    The problem is that these same senators who skipped the briefing are in charge of overseeing the program. When congress doesn’t take its oversight duties seriously, or even worse, abusing their powers to chase empty scandals, the freedoms of every American are at risk.
    It doesn’t matter how you feel about the Patriot Act and surveillance programs. This is about 53 members of the Senate who refused to stay at work, and do their jobs.
    The problem of members not attending briefings is a rampant epidemic. Members of congress constantly blow off important briefings, and instead rely on special interest groups to tell them how to vote. This is how the NRA was able to stop wildly popular background checks legislation. Some members of congress vote how they are told to, because they fear that special interest groups will work against them in the next reelection campaign if they don’t.
    The next time a member of congress claims that they didn’t know about something, the first question asked should be, “Did you attend the briefing?” The odds are pretty good that they didn’t.
    The fact of the matter is that a majority of the Senate doesn’t care about secret domestic spying. Most of them either voted for or to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
    The bigger story is that our congress is more interested in going home than doing the people’s business. The main reason why our legislative process is broken is because the people we are sending to the House and Senate don’t care enough to do their jobs.
    There are millions of dads who will be working this Father’s Day. They don’t have the luxury of blowing off work, like 53 members of the United States Senate.

    Affirmative action ruling contest: race vs. class

    FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, students walk through the University of Texas at Austin campus in Austin, Texas. This giant flagship campus - once slow to integrate - is now among the most diverse the country. A decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially sided with race in that argument, upholding the right of colleges to make limited use of racial preferences in admitting students. But in a ruling due in June 2013, the Court is widely expected to roll back that ruling. Such an outcome would shift the focus more toward giving a boost to socio-economically disadvantaged students, regardless of race. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) 
    In post-Great Recession America, which is the bigger barrier to opportunity — race or class?
    A decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court kept the focus on race as a barrier, upholding the right of colleges to make limited use of racial preferences to ensure a diverse student body. But in a ruling due this month, the court is widely expected to roll back that decision. Such an outcome would shift attention more toward a less constitutionally controversial practice: giving a boost to socio-economically disadvantaged students, regardless of race.
    If that happens, it would reflect more than just a more conservative makeup of the justices. Over the last decade, clogged social mobility and rising economic inequality have shifted the conversation on campuses and in the country as a whole.
    As a barrier to opportunity, class is getting more attention, while race is fading.
    "The cultural zeitgeist has changed," said Peter Sacks, author of the book "Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education."
    "The Great Recession really exacerbated the vast and growing inequalities between rich and poor in America," he said. "Talking openly about class has been taboo," he added, but in recent years the evidence of widening inequality has mounted and it's become "OK for the so-called 99 percent to talk about the 99 percent."
    The shift is perceptible in a range of ways:
    —You can see it in polling, like surveys from the Pew Research Center, which shows the percentage of Americans who feel racial discrimination is the chief impediment to black progress is falling, from 37 percent in 1995 to 23 percent in 2012.
    Polling on affirmative action varies widely depending on how questions are phrased, but an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday showed strong feelings about using race in college admissions: Just 22 percent of Americans support letting universities consider applicants' race as a factor, and 76 percent oppose the practice. The proportions supporting racial preferences were similar for blacks (19 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) as for whites (20 percent).
    —You can read it in the tone of recent opinion pieces penned even by left-leaning academics and columnists, whose support for racial preferences has eroded under a mountain of evidence that quality higher education is tilting further toward the already-wealthy.
    —You can hear it, too — in conversations on elite college campuses, where the dearth of low-income students is replacing race as a topic of debate. And in the words of the first black president, who has said there's no good reason his own daughters should benefit from racial preferences when they apply to college.
    The shifting debate has painted supporters of race-based affirmative action into a difficult corner. Most agree the barriers to low-income students are a serious problem that should be addressed, and of course, many minority students are also low-income.
    But they acknowledge widening income inequality has made it harder to make their case that special attention to race remains justified.
    "This is the first time you have whites thinking they face more discrimination than blacks do," said Camille Charles, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies class and race. "You have people who have come to believe the system is set up to benefit black people at the expense of white people." Such beliefs, she said, reflect ignorance about the persistence of discrimination, about how much harder minorities were hit by the Great Recession, and about how affirmative action actually works (many incorrectly conflate "affirmative action" with "racial quotas," which the Supreme Court long ago ruled unconstitutional).
    In his 2010 book "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth," Harvard economic historian Benjamin Friedman charted how during periods of prosperity, societies throughout history have expanded opportunities to disadvantaged groups and become more open and inclusive. During economic struggle, by contrast, they typically close ranks.
    The Great Recession was no exception, he said, persuading more Americans that efforts to ensure minorities are represented among the scarce slots at top universities are "a luxury they cannot afford," Friedman said by telephone.
    A report released Thursday by the Lumina Foundation underscored the large and persistent achievement gaps between races in the United States: Nearly 60 percent of Asian adults have a college degree, compared to 43 percent of whites but just 27 percent of blacks and 19 percent of Hispanics.
    More alarming are the numbers for those between 25 and 29 — an indicator of recent trends. Whites and Asians are doing better than their parents. Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are doing worse. That's a problem for everyone, said Lumina president and CEO Jamie Merisotis.
    "Narrowing these gaps is a matter of economic and social collective self-interest," he said.
    But other numbers in the same report revealed how profoundly family income determines how far you go in school: Four-fifths of 24-year-olds from families in the top quarter of income have college degrees, compared to just one in 10 in the bottom quartile.
    Other research, while calling the black-white degree gap worrisome, concludes the gap measured by class alone is far broader. Students of all races from educated affluent families are seven times more likely to complete a bachelor's degree than students from low-income families with less education (68 percent compared to 9 percent).
    One study of the freshmen entering the 193 most selective colleges in 2010 found two-thirds came from the top income quartile. Only 15 percent came from the bottom half of the country, income-wise.
    At the top 20 law schools, another study found, more than three-quarters of students came from the richest income quartile.
    "We continue to struggle with racial discrimination in this country, but class has become a far larger impediment to a person's life chances than race," said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, and a prominent advocate for replacing race-based affirmative action with class-conscious measures.
    On college campuses, arguments over race and gender have predominated for decades, but the lack of socio-economic diversity is getting more attention. One sign of the trend is the emergence of a student group called "U/FUSED" (United for Undergraduate Socio-Economic Diversity), with chapters on about 20 prominent campuses. Chapters at campuses like Wesleyan University and Washington University in St. Louis have undertaken a range of efforts, from developing a financial literacy curriculum to lobbying for more financial aid.
    But mostly, said Chase Sackett, who helped found the organization while an undergraduate at Washington University and is now a law student at Yale, the groups are getting people to talk about the previously taboo subjects of class, money and inequality.
    College students are actually fairly accustomed to talking about race, he said, but class "was something that was under the rug." He said minority groups have been eager to join the conversation, seeing it as complementary to the issues they care about.
    Kahlenberg, who informally advises the group, said such an organization would have been unthinkable in his own college days during the 1980s. But "the facts on the ground have changed." The test-score gap between blacks and whites, he noted, was once twice as big as the gap between rich and poor students. Now that's flipped and the income gap is twice as big as the racial one.
    Sackett said he and the group don't necessarily oppose race-based affirmative action; they just want more efforts to deal with socio-economic diversity.
    Indeed, many people ask, why not do both? Kahlenberg says he's all for that, but "universities never get around to the class part of the equation. They would rather have a class of fairly wealthy students of all races." A big obstacle is cost: By definition low-income students need more financial aid, while race-based preferences don't necessarily go to the neediest students. In fact, research has confirmed large proportions of minority students at selective colleges come from middle- and upper-income families.
    Kahlenberg believes with some creativity, colleges can use class-based affirmative action to ensure racial diversity. That's happened at many schools in states where affirmative action is already banned. However, the broader consensus is that, at least in the short term and at the most elite schools, replacing race-based preferences with class-based efforts would cause minority enrollment to fall.
    "Low-income will not replace diversity," said Ted Spencer, admissions director at the University of Michigan, which won the right to use race as an admissions factor in the 2003 Supreme Court case, but later lost it in a voter referendum. Michigan's numbers of minority students have not fully recovered.
    But Spencer emphasized the court's justification for race-based affirmative action has never been only about minorities, or about rectifying society-wide discrimination, or about pitting racial barriers against class ones.
    Rather, the court's justification was educational — that all students benefit from a racially diverse student body. Employers increasingly want students accustomed to working with people from different groups, and many students want that experience, too. If the court rules as expected, he's worried they'll have few options.
    "As we prepare people for work and life," he said, "the absence of diversity on campus deprives all of our students of a very important part of their academic growth."

    The truth hurts


    Link Dump

    Who invented the "high five" victory slap currently so common in many sports?  It dates back to the 1970s.

    An interesting article in the Los Angeles Times describes what it's like to be an agricultural  field worker:  "Americans don't want to do the fieldwork. They'll go over and make hamburgers for $8 an hour with no insurance, no nothing, when they can make more money here," Teixeira said. "I don't care if you pay $20 an hour, they'll come here one or two days, and they're gone. It's a mind-set: They think fieldwork is below them."

    The officer in charge of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program has been arrested for alleged sexual assault.

    The dark side of home schooling."  The christian home school subculture isn't a children-first movement. It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement. There is a massive, well-oiled machine of ideology that is churning out soldiers for the culture war."

    Not that it would ever happen, but just in case: "do not talk to the FBI without your lawyer present. If Harvey’s decades long experience is any indication, chances are that the agents will politely decline to interview you if you and your attorney insist on creating an accurate record of an FBI interrogation."

    A list of people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy AND Tony awards.  It's a short list with only 11 names. (Who would have thought John Gielgud won a Grammy?)

    After the Great French Wine Blight in the nineteenth century, the French wine industry was saved when surviving varieties were grafted onto rootstock from America.

    Lobsters show no signs of aging.  If they get enough food and avoid parasites (and humans) they can theoretically live forever (and keep getting bigger as they continue to molt).

    The health benefits of running may not apply to long-distance running.  "recent studies suggest the significant mortality benefits of running may diminish or disappear at mileage exceeding 30 miles a week and other, very small studies have shown elevated levels of coronary plaque in serial marathoners—a problem that rigorous exercise theoretically could cause."

    In 1942 a British forest guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons. All the bodies dated from 850 A.D. - and they may have been killed by a hailstorm.  Details at Atlas Obscura.

    Boston Children’s Hospital Finds Root Cause of Diabetes

    They say that with just a little more study, they could possibly cure type 1 diabetes.

    By Melissa Malamut
    What if you could treat diabetes without insulin shots? Boston Children's hospital is close. Insulin shot photo via shutterstock.
    What if you could treat diabetes without insulin shots? Boston Children’s hospital is close.
    Boston Children’s Hospital could be on the verge of curing type 1 diabetes. Seriously. This huge news, which was announced today on their blog, could affect the 215,000 people in the U.S. younger than 20 who have diabetes (type 1 or type 2). That’s a pretty huge number, so it’s no wonder why it’s been called an epidemic.
    People who live with type 1 diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to regulate the glucose in their blood. It’s an immediate fix to the danger of low having insulin levels, but there are many long-term complications associated with diabetes, like heart and kidney diseases, nerve problems, skin issues, and problems with vision, among others. “Insulin injections can manage hyperglycemia by reducing the patient’s glucose levels, but it is not the cure,” says Dr. Paolo Fiorina of the Nephrology Division at Boston Children’s Hospital in the report. The Nephrology Division was recently ranked number one in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
    Fiorina was looking for the molecular pathway that triggers diabetes, hoping to find better treatment options with the ultimate goal of finding a permanent cure. “In order to truly cure diabetes, we needed to pinpoint exactly why this happens. And then prevent it,” Fiorina says.
    According to Boston Children’s Hospital, Fiorina and his team found the root cause of type 1 diabetes:
    Fiorina and his team studied hundreds of pathways in animals with diabetes. They eventually isolated one, known as ATP/P2X7R, which triggers the T-cell attacks on the pancreas, rendering it unable to produce insulin.
    “By identifying the ATP/P2X7R pathway as the early mechanism in the body that fires up an alloimmune response, we found the root cause of diabetes,” says Fiorina. “With the cause identified, we can now focus on treatment options. Everything from drug therapies to transplants that require less immunosuppression is being explored.”
    It will still be a few years before they can test the therapies in children, but the outcome of what was discovered here could be truly amazing.
    “I believe it won’t be long before we can cure diabetes with a number of different therapies depending on the needs of the patient,” Fiorina says on the blog. “Then, if the right screening techniques for diabetes could be developed, it would be entirely possible in many cases that we could prevent the disease from ever developing in children. The future of diabetes treatment is very exciting.”

    Researchers develop easy and effective therapy to restore sight

    Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed an easier and more effective method for inserting genes into eye cells that could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from [...]

    SLAC X-rays resurrect 200-year-old lost aria

    At first glance the beautifully bound 1797 Luigi Cherubini opera Médée looks like an impeccably preserved relic of opera’s golden age. However, flip to the final pages of the aria “Du trouble affreux qui me [...]

    Tennessee home to oldest cave art in US

    The oldest and most widespread collection of prehistoric cave and rock art in the United States has been found in and around Tennessee, according to a new paper in the journal Antiquity that documents the art. It provides intriguing clues about what life was like for Native American societies more than 6,000 years ago. That is the age of the newly discovered cave art, one of which is seen here, showing what appears to be a human hunting. Other images are of a more direct spiritual/mythological nature.
    Tennessee home to oldest cave art in US
    The oldest collection of prehistoric cave and rock art in the United States has been discovered in and around Tenessee
    Lead author Jan Simek, president emeritus and a distinguished professor of science at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Anthropology, told Discovery News, “The discoveries tell us that prehistoric peoples in the Cumberland Plateau used this rather distinctive upland environment for a variety of purposes and that religion was part of that broader sense of place.” Jan Simek, Alan Cressler, Nicholas Herrmann and Sarah Sherwood/Antiquity Publications Ltd.

    A very large polychrome pictograph depicts humans, serpents and circles. The image, from the same overall site, but extending into Alabama, likely illustrated a myth spread across generations via word of mouth, with such permanent imagery further preserving its meaning, lost to history.

    Simek explained, “Human images are often shown in activities suggesting heroic or ceremonial action, flying, transforming into animal shapes or reaching through the rock surface.” 

    Simek said one of the images is “a black charcoal pictograph from an East Tennessee cave showing a transformational animal with the head, body, and tail of a dog or cat and the curving talons of a bird. Transformation is depicted in prehistoric art in both open-air sites and in dark zone caves in Tennessee.”

    He and his colleagues suspect that the open-air rock art and the cave art were connected as part of “an organized alteration of the landscape,” with the creators of the images mapping “their conceptual universe onto the natural world in which they lived.” This happened in three dimensions, with upper (celestial in nature), middle (plants and animals) and lower (darkness, death and danger) worlds matching content with where it was placed in the region.

    Simek describes another image & quote of a bird was incised in wet mud banks deep inside Mud Glyph Cave in Tennessee. Mud, which is associated with the origin of the world by many Southeast native American peoples, was often used as a medium by prehistoric cave artists. This example is still plastic and therefore extremely fragile.”

    Analysis of rock and cave art often employs non-destructive, high-tech tools, such as this high-resolution laser scanner operated by the RLS group in Chattanooga, Tenn. It precisely records the ancient art for conservation and analysis.

    According to Simek, “Many of the images, like this black charcoal pictograph of a rayed circle from Dunbar Cave in Tennessee, can also be seen on portable religious objects found in temple mounds and other prehistoric religious contexts.”

    Scorpions, with their painful stings, appear to have been part of the Native American vision of the “lower world.” At this extensive site, scorpion images were found in deep caves and not in the upper “celestial” area. In this case, an artist, or artists, produced the images by painting wet ashes onto the cave wall.

    “These tiny turkey engravings from Tennessee were extremely difficult to photograph, since they are only a few centimeters long and composed of very shallow lines made with a fine pointed tool,” Alan Cressler, project photographer, told Discovery News.

    “One of the best-known examples of Southeast cave art, these engravings of weapons and bird-human transformations form a complex composition in the dark zone of Devilstep Hollow Cave in Tennessee,” Simek said.

    Co-author Sarah Sherwood of The University of the South, added, “Rock art sites are only one type of specialized activity site we see in the area; we know that people came to the Plateau to find specific foods, including animals and plants (in fact, certain native plants were domesticated in the area more than 3,000 years ago) and to obtain non-food resources; rock art was an integral part of how people conceived and used their landscapes.”

    Long-lost stone found in stream by archaeologists

    A long-lost medieval stone has been rediscovered in a stream north west of Lampeter. The stone which dates back to the ninth or 10th century, was found just south-west of St Sulien's Church, in the village of Silian.
    Long-lost stone found in stream by archaeologists
    A medieval stone was found in a stream north west of Lampeter, just south-west of St Sulien's
    Church, in the village of Silian
    The church site is home to two further medieval inscribed stones and thought to have been of high-status having been in use for at least 1,500 years.

    Archaeologists Nikki Vousden, who works for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and Dr Roderick Bale of University of Wales Trinity Saint David University Lampeter, came across the stone while walking.

    The stone named 'Silian 3' consists of a linear Latin cross with a lozenge shaped ring at its upper end. It measures some 70cm x 38cm and the pattern is rare, with only two other definite examples of crosses in lozenge shaped rings in Wales.

    Ms Vousden said: "How the Silian 3 stone ended up in the steam is a mystery, especially as someone obviously once knew of its significance and took a cast.

    "We are currently awaiting information as to the provenance of the cast and photograph, and will provide an update when this becomes available. Amazingly, the stone lay hidden in the stream until one day the water on its wet surface helped highlight the inscribed pattern and it was spotted."

    The rare stone was first noted by Nash-Williams in The Early Christian Monuments of Wales: a cast of its incised face was kept at the National Museum of Wales.

    It was ascribed to Silian because of the label on a photograph, also at the National Museum of Wales.

    The stone is now being kept in St Sulien's Church.

    Lost medieval city found in Cambodia

    Lost medieval city found in Cambodia

    A lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser technology, a report said.

    Lost medieval city found in Cambodia
    Post holes on an old temple site
    In what it called a world exclusive, the Sydney Morning Herald said the city, Mahendraparvata, included temples hidden by jungle for centuries, many of which have not been looted.

    A journalist and photographer from the newspaper accompanied the "Indiana Jones-style" expedition, led by a French-born archaeologist, through landmine-strewn jungle in the Siem Reap region where Angkor Wat, the largest Hindi temple complex in the world, is located.

    The expedition used an instrument called Lidar -- light detection and ranging data -- which was strapped to a helicopter that criss-crossed a mountain north of Angkor Wat for seven days, providing data that matched years of ground research by archaeologists.

    It effectively peeled away the jungle canopy using billions of laser pulses, allowing archaeologists to see structures that were in perfect squares, completing a map of the city which years of painstaking ground research had been unable to achieve, the report said.

    Lost medieval city found in Cambodia
    Sydney Uni Professor Damien Evans leads several teams of archaeologists in the Siem Reap region
    It helped reveal the city that reportedly founded the Angkor Empire in 802 AD, uncovering more than two dozen previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient canals, dykes and roads using satellite navigation coordinates gathered from the instrument's data.

    Jean-Baptiste Chevance, director of the Archaeology and Development Foundation in London who led the expedition, told the newspaper it was known from ancient scriptures that a great warrior, Jayavarman II, had a mountain capital, "but we didn't know how all the dots fitted, exactly how it all came together".

    "We now know from the new data the city was for sure connected by roads, canals and dykes," he said.

    The discovery is set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

    Lost medieval city found in Cambodia
    The discovery of Thom Dab temple
    Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney's archaeological research center in Cambodia, which played a key part in developing the Lidar technology, said there might be important implications for today's society.

    "We see from the imagery that the landscape was completely devoid of vegetation," Evans, a co-expedition leader, said.

    "One theory we are looking at is that the severe environmental impact of deforestation and the dependence on water management led to the demise of the civilization ... perhaps it became too successful to the point of becoming unmanageable."

    The Herald said the trek to the ruins involved traversing rutted goat tracks and knee-deep bogs after travelling high into the mountains on motorbikes.

    Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy until the findings were peer-reviewed.

    Evans said it was not known how large Mahendraparvata was because the search had so far only covered a limited area, with more funds needed to broaden it out.

    "Maybe what we see was not the central part of the city, so there is a lot of work to be done to discover the extent of this civilization," he said.

    "We need to preserve the area because it's the origin of our culture," secretary of state at Cambodia's Ministry of Culture, Chuch Phoeun, told AFP.

    Angkor Wat was at one time the largest pre-industrial city in the world, and is considered one of the ancient wonders of the world.

    It was constructed from the early to mid 1100s by King Suryavarman II at the height of the Khmer Empire's political and military power.

    Large Iron Age houses discovered in Norway

    Archaeologists from the science museum in Trondheim have located the foundations of two large houses from the Iron Age, close to one of the biggest burial grounds in Hallem, near Stiklestad in Trøndelag.
    Large Iron Age houses discovered in Norway
    The Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg
    "This rarely happens in Norway, and it is completely unexpected" says archaeologist Marte Mokkelbost. The archaeologists have discovered two so-called "long houses" that confirm that Stiklestad was an area inhabited by people who were both wealthy and in power during the iron age.

    The burial grounds at Stiklestad is one of the largest collection of cemeteries in Norway. The houses were found very close by, and one of the houses is more than 50 meters long and eight meters wide.

    Professor in archaeology at the University in Trondheim, Lars Stenvik, explains that the houses may have functioned as halls, and not merely used as residences. "We think that this has been an important center for the chiefs in the iron age, and maybe all the way back to nativity," Stenvik tells NRK.

    The archaeologists are now using metal detectors to search the premises, and hope to find artifacts that may have belonged to the people who lived here. Already, they have seen signs that part of the flooring in the house is still intact. 

    Stone Age Siberians may have rarely hunted mammoths

    Contrary to their hunting reputation, Stone Age Siberians killed mammoths only every few years when they needed tusks for toolmaking, a new study finds.
    Stone Age Siberians may have rarely hunted mammoths
    Excavated mammoth bones from Siberia’s Yana archaeological site suggest that people hunted mammoths mainly for ivory, which they used to make tools
    People living between roughly 33,500 and 31,500 years ago hunted the animals mainly for ivory, say paleontologist Pavel Nikolskiy and archaeologist Vladimir Pitulko of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Hunting could not have driven mammoths to extinction, the researchers report June 5 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

    On frigid tundra with few trees, mammoth tusks substituted for wood as a raw material for tools, they propose. Siberian people ate mammoth meat after hunts, but food was not their primary goal.

    Several European and North American sites have yielded single mammoth carcasses lying amid stone tools. Such finds could reflect either hunting or scavenging. Finds at Siberia’s Yana archeological site provide an unprecedented window on the hunting and killing of mammoths over a long time period, says archaeologist John Hoffecker of the University of Colorado Boulder.

    Mammoth bones appear in sufficient numbers at some sites in Europe to suggest that hunters there did seek more than ivory, says archaeologist Jiří Svoboda of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Whatever happened at Yana, many groups were probably interested in obtaining mammoth meat, fat, bones, tusks and skin, Svoboda says.

    Since 2008, scientists have unearthed 1,103 bones from at least 31 mammoths at Yana. Radiocarbon measurements indicate that mammoth remains gradually accumulated there over 2,000 years.

    Right shoulder blades from two mammoths contain pieces of stone spear points. An ivory splinter, possibly from a spear’s shaft, pierced one of these bones. Another shoulder blade and a thigh bone display holes made by spears. Angles of these wounds suggest that hunters struck mammoths from behind. “Yana people definitely attacked from the mammoth’s blind spot,” Nikolskiy says.
    Most mammoth bones at Yana come from animals with slightly curved tusks that were the best size and shape for making hunting weapons, Nikolskiy and Pitulko propose.

    Researchers have found five mammoth bones from the base of the animals’ tongues at a campsite not far from where remains were excavated. Meaty parts of the animals were probably consumed there, the investigators say.

    While hunting was not the main cause of mammoths’ extinction in Asia and Europe, it may have been the last straw as warming temperatures shrank livable areas for the creatures. 

    Daily Comic Relief


    Study of oceans’ past raises worries about their future

    The ocean the Titanic sailed through just over 100 years ago was very different from the one we swim in today. Global warming is increasing ocean temperatures and harming marine food webs. Nitrogen run-off from fertilizers is causing coastal dead zones. A McGill-led international research team has now completed the first global study of changes that occurred in a crucial component of ocean chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, at the end of the last ice age. The results of their study confirm that oceans are good at balancing the nitrogen cycle on a global scale. But the data also shows that it is a slow process that may take many centuries, or even millennia, raising worries about the effects of the scale and speed of current changes in the ocean.
    Study of oceans’ past raises worries about their future
    Data from end of the last ice age illuminate the precarious nature
    of global ocean chemistry
    "For the first time we can quantify how oceans responded to slow, natural climate warming as the world emerged from the last ice age," says Prof. Eric Galbraith from McGill University's Department of Earth and Oceanic Sciences, who led the study. "And what is clear is that there is a strong climate sensitivity in the ocean nitrogen cycle."

    The nitrogen cycle is a key component of the global ocean metabolism. Like the proteins that are essential to human health, nitrogen is crucial to the health of oceans. And just as proteins are carried by the blood and circulate through the body, the nitrogen in the ocean is kept in balance by marine bacteria through a complicated cycle that keeps the ocean healthy. The phytoplankton (microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain) 'fix' nitrogen in the shallow, sunlit waters of the ocean, and then as they die and sink, nitrogen is eliminated (a process known as 'denitrification') in dark, oxygen-poor pockets of the ocean depths.

    Using sediment gathered from the ocean floor in different areas of the world, the researchers were able to confirm that as the ice sheets started melting and the climate warmed up at the end of the last ice age, 18,000 years ago, the marine nitrogen cycle started to accelerate. The ocean had stabilized itself in its new, warmer state, in which the overall nitrogen cycle was running faster, by about 8,000 years ago. Given the current dramatic rate of change in the ocean nitrogen cycle the researchers are not sure how long it will take for marine ecosystems to adapt.

    "We are changing the planet in ways we are not even aware of," says Galbraith. "You wouldn't think that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would change the amount of nitrogen available to fish in the ocean, but it clearly does. It is important to realize just how interconnected everything is."

    This research was funded by: the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) through the Earth System Evolution Program

    Huge Earth-Passing Asteroid 'Entirely New Beast'

    The asteroid that buzzed earth in May was completely unique, even primitive, a researcher says.

    Save the bees

    Save the bees

    Animal Pictures