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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

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Today in History

1453   France defeats England at Castillon, France, ending the Hundred Years' War.
1762   Peter III of Russia is murdered and his wife, Catherine II, takes the throne.
1785   France limits the importation of goods from Britain.
1791   National Guard troops open fire on a crowd of demonstrators in Paris.
1799   Ottoman forces, supported by the British, capture Aboukir, Egypt from the French.
1801   The U.S. fleet arrives in Tripoli.
1815   Napoleon Bonaparte surrenders to the British at Rochefort, France.
1821   Andrew Jackson becomes the governor of Florida.
1864   Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaces General Joseph E. Johnston with General John Bell Hood in hopes of defeating Union General William T. Sherman outside Atlanta.
1898   U.S. troops under General William R. Shafter take Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
1944   Field Marshall Erwin Rommel is wounded when an Allied fighter strafes his staff car in France.
1946   Chinese communists attack the Nationalist army on the Yangtze River.
1960   American pilot Francis Gary Powers pleads guilty to spying charges in a Moscow court.
1966   Ho Chi Minh orders a partial mobilization of North Vietnam to defend against American airstrikes.
1987   Lt. Col. Oliver North and Rear Adm. John Poindexter begin testifying to Congress regarding the Iran-Contra scandal.

Non Sequitur


Why U.S. Non-Interventionism in Middle East is Sound Policy (For Now)

In recent weeks, I’ve come across a number of high profile articles mulling over President Obama’s Switzerland-esque approach to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, as well as the wait-and-see stance adopted in relation to continued unrest in Egypt. A number of commentators, including Aaron David Miller of Newsday, believe that direct American intervention in Syria is inevitable. Likewise, writers such as Taimur Khan of The National proffers US keen to keep Egypt aid flowing as the driving force behind the administration’s reluctance to choose sides in the recent military-enforced ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.
There are no doubt sundry and diverse motives for taking a sideline approach to the series of implosions occurring in the larger Middle East. Doubtless some of these are cynically diplomatic or financial in nature. But from the perspective of an ordinary citizen, as much as it pains me to witness the bloodshed and terror experienced by people advocating for freedom and opportunity, values held in esteem by all varieties of free nations, I applaud the extreme caution exercised by President Obama and his team. For it wasn’t so many years ago that we collectively witnessed the pitfalls of presumptive intervention in the affairs of other nations (see: the shrub junta), and we continue to suffer the ill financial and public relations effects of those decisions.
In the case of Syria, Miller points out, “Obama has avoided intervention not because he’s insensitive, incompetent, or even uninterested. He has done so because his options aren’t just bad, they’re terrible.” Although there can be no doubt that the unfolding situation in that country is a moral and humanitarian debacle, it cannot be taken as a given that the U.S. possesses the means and authority to set things right. Certainly not after the bungling swagger that was the American regime change offensive in Iraq, or the continued, resolution-less quagmire that Afghanistan has become. While Al Qaeda has suffered, the Taliban one could certainly argue, remains as tenacious as ever.
Miller continues, “The American experience in Afghanistan and Iraq looms large over the Syrian conflict. The parallel that’s worth paying attention to isn’t boots on the ground – it’s the question of connecting means to ends. In the Syrian case, the central question is: How does militarizing the American role – through providing arms to the rebels, creating a no-fly zone, or even launching military strikes – pave the way for a successful outcome?” And what, it must be asked, would be the collateral damage to our nation’s reputation in the Muslim world, a profile that President Obama has only just begun to repair after eight years of Bush II imperialism?
In Egypt, the situation is somewhat different, although the current American approach is the same. The Obama administration did in fact join protesting Egyptians in calling for the 2011 removal of President Hosni Mubarak, then supported the democratically elected regime of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi. Yet scarcely a year later, Morsi is out amidst worsening social and economic conditions for Egyptian citizens. No less an authority than former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, told Newsmax: “We made a big mistake — I said it at the time — in forcing Mubarak out. He’s no Jeffersonian Democrat, but he was an ally of the United States and he supported the Camp David accord with Israel.”
No one can accuse President Obama of failing to learn from the recent past. In light of the quick and profound collapse of Morsi, America would do well to allow the Egyptians to decide the next steps for themselves, providing advice and assistance as requested.
Certain war hawks and plenty of other well-meaning folks who simply wish for a speedy end to international suffering would do well to remember that this is not World War II. We are not superheroes with unlimited human and financial capital and it is, in addition, the height of arrogance to assume that the Middle East requires saving when so many, many problems require our collective attention at home. Look to the Iraq and Afghanistan examples. By pushing for premature intervention in what may hopefully become nascent democracies, the most positive outcome could only be, at best, an expensive win-lose.

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A Sniveling Mitch McConnell Begs Harry Reid Not To Use the Nuclear Option

Mitch McConnell abandoned his tough talk on Meet The Press, and went into full suck up mode. He called Harry Reid a good man, and a good majority leader while begging for no nuclear option.
McConnell first pretended that there was no problem in the Senate, but now, Mitch is ready to be bipartisan and talk, “Yeah. the reason we call it the the nuclear option, David, is because it’s breaking the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules of the Senate, which the Majority Leader, as you pointed out, in his book, indicated was something we should never do. Look, rather than getting down in the weeds on the rules, what is the problem here? The president has had 1,540 of his nominations confirmed, only 4 defeated. He’s not lost a single member of the cabinet. He’s getting them faster than the shrub was at the same time in his second term. The Majority Leader needs to bring these nominees up. most of them are going to be confirmed. It really kind of comes down to three appointments that the federal courts have told us were unconstitutionally recess appointed. Two members of the NLRB and the CFPB. We need to talk about that and we’re going to talk about it at a rather unusual joint session in the old Senate chamber on Monday of all senators. we need to start talking to each other instead of at each other, and see if we can’t resolve this in the same way that we did ten years ago when republicans had genuine provocation.”
McConnell also walked back his worst Majority Leader ever comments from last week, and generally tried to suck up to Reid, “No. He won’t be if he pulls back from the brink as we did ten years ago. We had much more serious case then than he has now. he’s a reasonable man. He’s a good Majority Leader, and we’re going to have a chance to air all of this out in a joint conference with all of our members Monday, and I’m hoping we won’t make this big mistake.”
Gone was the tough talk that McConnell used on the Senate floor to bash Reid. Now that the nuclear option looks like a real threat, all of the sudden Harry Reid isn’t such a bad guy.
What McConnell was putting out there today was pure and utter bulls**t. The goal of Senate Republicans isn’t deny Obama’s nominees confirmation. They don’t have the votes to flat out vote down the president’s nominees. The repugican goal is to delay the confirmation of Obama’s nominees for as long as possible. Senate repugicans understand that the president can’t govern as effectively without his leadership in key agencies of the federal government.
If McConnell can’t make Obama a one term president, he is going to do everything he can to weaken his presidency.
This chart from People For The American Way shows that there has been a 100% increase in cloture votes of executive branch nominees during the Obama presidency:
During his entire eight year junta the shrub faced 7 cloture votes on his nominees. President Obama faced 16 during his first term alone.
McConnell’s claim that Obama eventually gets his nominees confirmed was a swerve designed to distract from the real problem. The nuclear option is being threatened to deal with not if Obama’s nominees are confirmed, but when. Beyond the distraction tactic, McConnell’s other move is to claim that the sky is falling, and it will be Armageddon for the senate if Democrats change the rules. This is the standard repugican answer to anything that they don’t like. The election of President Obama was supposed to bring about the end of days. The sky was falling when Obamacare was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. The sky was falling when background checks were being debated as a part of gun legislation. If repugicans don’t like something, it means doom for America.
Throwing their arms up in the air, and claiming that the sky is falling is a main repugican go to move. The reality is that McConnell can’t factually defend the repugican abuse of the filibuster as tactic to delay confirmation of Obama’s nominees, so he had to make some stuff up.
The reality is that by blatantly abusing the filibuster rules, Senate repugicans brought this on themselves. By choosing to filibuster nearly everything, The repugicans left Harry Reid and the Democrats no choice but to change the rules.
Mitch McConnell can cry foul and pretend that there is no problem until the cows come home, but the truth is that repugicans broke the Senate, and Democrats may have to go nuclear in order to fix it. McConnell knows that if Reid goes nuclear, Barack Obama will have more of the staff he needs in order to get the job done. This a concept that repugicans are opposed to with ever fiber of their being.
When it comes to keeping his power to obstruct the president’s nominees, Mitch McConnell showed that he definitely ain’t too proud to beg.

Mitch McConnell's 30-Year Senate Legacy Leaves Kentucky In The Lurch

Ever since the U.S. government's uranium enrichment plant started hiring in 1951, there has been a Buckley helping to run it. Before his sons, a daughter-in-law and a grandson clocked in, Fred Buckley, now 86, would travel three hours a day from his home in West Tennessee to make $1.46 per hour as a plant security guard.It felt to Buckley like he was back in the Army, working with a close-knit group of men on a secret mission. He'd served in World War II -- after a few weeks of basic training, he ended up on the front lines at the Battle of the Bulge. He rose quickly from infantryman to staff sergeant to squad leader. The job at the plant promised the safety of a stable income and a sense of purpose at the dawn of the Cold War. One month before he started, the first of his two sons was born.
It seemed like Paducah was being reborn too. As new workers from neighboring Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee showed up, the small city in Western Kentucky faced a housing shortage. "So many people came in, you know?" Buckley told The Huffington Post. "Anything that had a roof on it -- chicken house, any kind of outbuilding, they were in it."
Room rates tripled until local officials imposed rent control. Home construction blanketed the city, while trailer parks rose up on cinder blocks throughout the surrounding county. More than 1,100 homes were built while Buckley waited for his chance to move to the Paducah area. After more than six years, he found a one-story, two-bedroom white frame house on a corner lot off Highway 60, just three miles from the plant. He still lives there today.
The flood of well-paid men had ramifications well beyond the homebuilding industry, lifting almost every business in the region. Even the local brothel expanded.
Paducah embraced the plant and its patriotic celebration of nuclear power. It called itself "The Atomic City" and envisioned thoroughfares bright with shiny, pastel-colored automobiles, a downtown humming with Cold War money. "The plant just made the town, you know?" Buckley says. He still remembers when they first raised the American flag in front of the plant's administration building. He was there, standing at attention.
fred buckley
Fred Buckley (left) with the Paducah plant union's vice president, Jim Key.
Nobody understands the plant's importance more than Mitch McConnell. For the past 30 years, the Senate minority leader, now 71, has been the plant's most ardent defender in Washington. The repugican lawmaker knows its 750 acres located just 12 miles from downtown. He's walked its grid under the haze of the ever-present steam cloud emanating from its cooling towers. He grasps its history, its hold on the imaginations of men like Buckley. No other jobs in Western Kentucky presented the opportunity to use more electricity than Detroit and more water than New York City every day of the week.
The senator has remained loyal to the plant and its workers, keeping it running on federal earmarks and complicated deals with the Department of Energy to convert its core function from producing warheads to mining nuclear waste to create electricity. At least in Paducah, McConnell is not the "abominable no-man," the sour-faced persona of Washington gridlock. He is an honorary union man. "He's been the best friend to the plant we've had over the years," Buckley says. "He went above and beyond the call of duty for the union."
Up until the tea party-led ban on earmarks a few years ago, McConnell played out this dichotomy across Kentucky. In Washington, he voted against a health care program for poor children. In Kentucky, he funneled money to provide innovative health services for pregnant women. In Washington, he railed against Obamacare. In Kentucky, he supported free health care and prevention programs paid for by the federal government without the hassle of a private-insurance middleman. This policy ping-pong may not suggest a coherent belief system, but it has led to loyalty among the repugican cabal in Washington and something close to fealty in Kentucky. It has advanced McConnell's highest ideal: his own political survival.
McConnell's hold on Kentucky is a grim reminder of the practice of power in America -- where political excellence can be wholly divorced from successful governance and even public admiration. The most dominant and influential Kentucky politician since his hero Henry Clay, McConnell has rarely used his indefatigable talents toward broad, substantive reforms. He may be ruling, but he's ruling over a commonwealth with the lowest median income in the country, where too many counties have infant mortality rates comparable to those of the Third World. His solutions have been piecemeal and temporary, more cynical than merciful.
And with McConnell's rise into the repugican cabal leadership, his continuous search for tactical advantage with limited regard for policy consequences has overrun Washington. McConnell has more than doubled the previous high-water mark for the number of filibusters deployed to block legislation, infamously declaring that his "top political priority" was to make President Barack Obama a one-term president. This obstruction has had serious consequences, as the Great Recession grinds on and large-scale problems like climate change march inexorably forward. Congress has failed to address the nation's most pressing challenges, and America has come to look more and more like McConnell's Kentucky.
At the Paducah plant, and throughout the Bluegrass State, McConnell's influence is a complicated, even poisonous one. As other aging nuclear facilities have been shuttered, Paducah has groaned its way into the 21st century. The plant has become a barely functional relic in the midst of a decades-long power down. The town's post-war pastels have given way to rust, padlocks and contaminated waterways. After three decades under McConnell, Kentucky residents are wondering whether his survival is good for them.
Up for reelection again in 2014, McConnell faces dismal polling numbers. In January, a Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll found that only 17 percent of residents said they were planning on voting for him. A recent Public Policy Polling survey showed him tied in a hypothetical race against Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's Democratic secretary of state, weeks before she announced she was running on July 1. Today, McConnell finds himself at both the most powerful and most vulnerable moment of his career. He faces not only a Democratic opposition out to avenge McConnell's attacks on Obama, but an energized tea party unhappy with the repugican cabal establishment and independents disgusted with Washington.
Keith Runyon was a veteran reporter and editorial page editor for the Louisville-based Courier-Journal, Kentucky's dominant statewide paper, which has generations of close personal ties to state and national Democrats. He witnessed McConnell's rise in Louisville and its suburbs of Jefferson County. He met his future wife, Meme Sweets, when she worked as McConnell's press secretary after his election as the county's judge-executive. Runyon came to know McConnell well. He says that McConnell was not always such a ruthless partisan obstructionist.
"It was not the local Mitch McConnell that became the problem," he told HuffPost. "It was what he became when he went to Washington."
In 2006, the former editor and publisher of the liberal Courier-Journal, Barry Bingham Jr., 72, "was dying and knew it," Runyon says. A week before his death in early April, he summoned Runyon to his home.
When he arrived on that balmy morning, Runyon recalls, Bingham was sitting up in a chair in his library. A breeze was drifting in through the windows. Among the many things Bingham wanted to talk about, the paper's early support of McConnell was one them. "He looked at me and he said, ‘You know, the worst mistake we ever made was endorsing Mitch McConnell' in 1977."



Teenager Saves Kidnapped Little Girl

Temar Boggs of Gable Park Woods, Pennsylvania, heard that police and firefighters were frantically searching his neighborhood for a kidnapped 5-year old girl. He and his friends got on their bikes and joined in the search. During their search they encountered a driver behaving suspiciously:
The car was on Gable Park and turned around when it got near the top of a hill toward Millersville Pike, where Boggs said several police officers were gathered with the kind of cart used to carry an injured football player off the field.

The driver, an older white man, then began quickly turning onto and out of side streets connecting to Gable Park, Boggs said.

The neighborhood is something of a maze; many of its streets are cul-de-sacs.

Boggs got close enough to the car to see a little girl inside. Garcia was nearby.

The driver looked at Boggs and Garcia, then stopped the car at Gable Park and Betz Farm Road and pushed the girl out of the car. The driver then drove off, Boggs said.

Boggs said he didn't see where the car went.

"She runs to my arms and said, 'I need to see my mommy,' " Boggs said.

Boggs scooped the girl onto his shoulders and began riding the bike toward home, but then decided that wasn't safe, so he carried her and walked back while Garcia pedaled along, guiding the bike Boggs had been using.

Busted by a Fart

It's a crime solved ... by a fart! When a policeman kept on farting in a police car, his colleagues were forced to roll down the window to escape the smell. But instead of fresh air, the waft of marijuana drifted in.
Metro has the story:
‘All three officers’ suspicions were raised and they left the car to get some fresh air and find the cause of the cannabis smell.
‘Imagine the surprise on the faces of the occupants of the house further along the road when the officers, following their noses, found a cannabis factory with a crop worth £12,000.’
Seven people at the property in Leicester were arrested.
Oh, and the cop who kept on farting? Metro explains:
The officer with the wind problem had been on a high-protein diet after taking up body building.

Man possibly overreacted following lipstick on face prank

A man flew into an inexplicable rage when two women he and a friend had been socializing with applied lipstick to his face after he had passed out at a party at a townhouse in Edmonton, Canada. As the two men were leaving the home the following morning, Owen Dallas Gerun, 30, realized what had been done to him and became "extremely angry," said Crown prosecutor Laura Marr.

Gerun smashed two windows with a shovel and a propane tank, respectively, and then reached through the shattered window and blasted bear spray throughout the kitchen. Marr said the amount of bear spray was so "overwhelming" that the fire department had to be called to clear out the noxious fumes. The two women hid in a closet and called 911, said Marr.

"The rightful occupants of the home were terrorized...over a prank.", Marr added. Gerun was caught at a nearby 7-Eleven and he still had the make-up on and smelled like bear spray. After being taken into police custody, he threatened to knock an officer's head off. After being told to calm down, Gerun - who has a significant record for violence - said: "I'm going to find you."

Gerun's defense lawyer said the women "admitted they had painted his face up pretty good and could see why he would be upset, but they didn't expect such a violent reaction." Gerun was sentenced to eight months behind bars after pleading guilty to mischief causing damage, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace and uttering death threats.



Firing 'attractive' assistant is Legal

Dentist's wife saw her as a threat

An Iowa dentist did not discriminate against a female assistant he fired for being "too attractive," the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Friday in its second decision in the case.

In December, the all-male court ruled that Dr. James Knight did not discriminate in firing Melissa Nelson after more than 10 years' service because he found her too attractive and his wife saw her as a threat.

Nelson had argued she would not have been fired if she were a man, and her attorney argued in seeking a second hearing that their decision was a setback for gender equality in the workplace.

In late June, the justices decided to reconsider the case.

If you read the whole story, the dentist began hitting on her in 2009.

Why should she be fired because HE was inappropriate at work?

Indonesian province bans female secretaries following string of extra-marital affairs

The governor of an Indonesian province has ordered his top staff to replace their female secretaries with men following a string of extra-marital affairs.
"I received inputs that many government office heads here are involved in extra-marital affairs with their female secretaries," Rusli Habibie, the governor of Gorontalo province on northern Sulawesi island said. "They treat them much better than their own wives. They bring them presents from official trips like perfumes or branded bags while their poor wives get nothing," he said.

"For these reasons, I ordered them to replace their female secretaries with male assistants or with old women who are no longer attractive," he added. Habibie is convinced that his subordinates will follow his instructions, though there won't be any punishment for those who don't comply.

"This is a moral sanction. I'm pretty sure they will follow my order, and all of them will get a male secretary soon," he said, adding that there were about 50 senior officials in the province who had hired female secretaries. Last year, the Gorontalo administration demanded 3,200 male civil servants to transfer their monthly pay to their wives' bank accounts in order to limit the number of affairs.

Chinese female traffic wardens fired after fighting in middle of busy street

Citing “extremely bad influences,” the police bureau in Tangshan, Hebei province have fired two female traffic wardens who were caught fighting at a busy intersection.

The two women didn’t stop fighting until a third female traffic warden interrupted.

"The fighting had extremely bad influences, and the labor contract was terminated,” a police statement said.

Dracula Resurrected by Romanian Tourism Board

The Romanian tourism board is promoting itself as a destination for vampire tourism, even if it means tarnishing a national hero.

London police sorry for stealing dead kids' identities for 40 years

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, chief of London's Metropolitan Police, has officially apologized for the Met's systematic, ongoing theft of the identities of dead children to create cover identities for its spies, a practice it has engaged in since the 1970s. "However, he has refused to tell any families that the identities of their children had been stolen by the spies."

Dead Woman Wakes Up, Dies

Being dead at one's own funeral is not unusual, but waking up at one's own funeral after being mistaken for dead, then actually dying is definitely unusual:
Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, 49, was mistakenly declared deceased by doctors [...] But she later woke up - in a coffin surrounded by sobbing relatives. She started screaming after realizing she was about to be buried alive.
Mukhametzyanov, a resident of Kazan, was rushed back to the hospital where she was declared dead -- this time for real.

Why A Symbol For 'The' Probably Won't Take Off

by Tyler Greenawalt
 This new symbol for "the" probably won't become a new trend.
This new symbol for "the" probably won't become a new trend.
An Australian restaurant owner-turned-innovator has created a character to replace the word "the" in the English language. Similar to how the ampersand replaces "and" and the "@" symbol replaces the word "at," Paul Mathis' character looks to simplify .
"The main functionality of this is in the texting space," Mathis . "Is this important? No. Is this going to change the world? Not really. But is it something that might be useful for people? I think so."
Mathis argues the ampersand (&) replaces "and," the fifth most common word in English, and that the word "the," which is used more frequently, has no such replacement. But as far as a new symbol for "the" goes, it won't be gaining any wide-scale recognition anytime soon. Here are three reasons why:
1. "Spelling reform" is a bad idea.
Mathis' symbol for "the" is basically an uppercase "T" combined with a lowercase "h" so that the two letters have the same stem (Ћ). But oddly enough, , particularly in the Serbian alphabet. It represents the "ch" sound, like in the English word "chew."
So is this 21st century spelling reform or just another version of shorthand? Peter Daniels, author of The World's Writing Systems, says it could be both, depending on how Mathis is trying to develop the character.
"For a language [like English] with a big literary history, spelling reform is almost never a good idea," Daniels says. "It would be perfectly simple to use this letter in English, except that it was designed to harmonize with the Cyrillic alphabet and not with the Roman alphabet. It wouldn't look good."
2. The symbol formerly known as "the" looks awkward.
Mathis' symbol won't work because as it stands now, using this Cyrillic character in English would look awkward when typed on a computer screen, Daniels says. The height and width are wrong, he says, so the character sticks out badly. If Mathis wants to create this new symbol, Daniels suggests having a typographer design a whole new character to fit into a font.
Two other symbols already exist in English to produce the "th" sound: and . They were in use until the 15th century, so Daniels wonders why one of these symbols couldn't be adapted, since they already exist. Eth (ð) is actually still used in the Icelandic alphabet.
3. Apple won't help sell it, and where it is available, people aren't buying.
Mathis has already spent more than $30,000 developing the symbol and on . But Apple refuses to promote the app for its mobile devices because it . Of the four Android apps, only the free one has been downloaded more than 100 times since its April 2013 release.
This symbol, while maybe not an example of spelling reform, could also be just another version of shorthand, Daniels contends. He remembers an older form of shorthand called , which replaced some of the most common English words with existing symbols. Daniels pointed out that in Notescript, the word "the" is replaced with "\" because it goes from a tall H to a low E.
Whether the movement has any steam or not, Daniels doesn't think there's much interest in the topic nowadays.
Despite all this, the man behind the "the" symbol is still pushing his cause.

People May Get Place in Geologic Time

The Anthropocene is the name of a proposed new geological time period (probably an epoch) that may soon enter the official Geologic Time Scale.

Ten Bizarre Physics Phenomena

We often take our daily experience of life on Earth for granted. But every moment, a plethora of forces are controlling our lives. There are a surprising amount of unusual, counterintuitive, or yet-to-be-explained principles of physics that we encounter on a daily basis.

Here are some frequently encountered occurrences that remain a mystery, and bizarre forces that we fail to perceive.

Montagne de Bueren

Bueren Mountain (Montagne de Bueren) is not really mountain, but that's what they call this staircase in Liège, Belgium. It has 374 steps! But it's not the biggest staircase in a list of 12 Amazing Staircases Around the World at The World Geography.

Pyramids Found?

Images of pyramid-like structures in the Egyptian desert could be buried pyramids.
Are mysterious structures hiding a major discovery in the Egyptian desert, or are they just naturally occurring outcrops?

Snow + Volcano = Magic

Russian photographer Denis Budko captured these stunning images of what happened when melting snow on the Mutnovsky volcano in Kamchatka, Russia, revealed an otherworldly snow tunnel: Here.
View more at Budko's Livejournal page: Here.

Hubble Discovers New Neptune Moon

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found another moon circling Neptune, one that Voyager 2 missed during its 1989 flyby of the giant world.

Japanese clinic launches the 'snail facial'

A Japanese beauty salon has developed a new skin treatment involving slime discharge from live snails. Live snails, hailed as an elixir for youthful and beautiful skin, take center stage in an unusual new "snail facial" launching today at a spa in central Tokyo. The treatment involves a therapist placing snails directly onto the faces of reclining clients and allowing the molluscs to move at random, leaving trails of mucus slime in their wake.

The secreted snail mucus is key to the facial, as it reportedly contains a beauty-boosting cocktail of proteins, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, which help skin retain moisture, reduce inflammation and remove dead skin. "This salon is the only place in Japan where you can try a live snail facial," said Yoko Minami, sales manager at Clinical Salon, the flagship outlet of Ci:z.Labo, a nationwide spa operator and affiliate of Japan's biggest medical cosmetics company.

"Snail slime can help the recovery of skin cells on the face, so we expect the snail facial to help heal damaged skin." The spa, in the Ebisu district of Tokyo, is currently home to five resident snails', kept in a small clear container where they are fed an organic vegetables, including carrots, Japanese "komatsuna" greens, spinach and Swiss chard. Spa staff said that the snails were bought from an organic snail breeder in Switzerland and are also fed organically to ensure that they are clean and healthy before being placed on customers' faces.

The live snails are the central part of a 60-minute treatment called the Celebrity Escargot Course, costing 24,500 yen (£161, $243), which starts with faces being washed before the molluscs are gently placed on the cheeks and forehead and allowed to move around as they please. This is followed by a series of massages, masks and electrical pulse machines using creams infused with snail mucus to ensure that the live secretions fully penetrate the skin.

First dementia dogs start work helping owners

The first ever "dementia dogs" have been working with their new owners. The dogs have been trained to help people with early-stage dementia and can remind them to take their medicine and help them get out and about.

They were the brainchild of a group of students from Glasgow School of Art. The students suggested that dogs could be trained to help people with dementia in the same way that guide dogs help people who are blind. With the support of Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs Scotland, two dogs underwent 18 months of training.

Golden retriever Oscar and Labrador Kaspa have been working with their new owners for four months, after 18 months of training. They have been taught to respond to alarms and bring medicine pouches, to nudge their owners to read a reminder and to encourage them to get out of bed in the morning.

Student Luke McKinney, said: "We thought, why can't we train dogs to help people with dementia in the same way as we train dogs to help people who can't see? We presented the idea to Alzheimer Scotland and also some service users, and the feedback we got was instantly huge." The first two dogs have proved such a success that two more are already undergoing training and the charities involved say dementia dogs could be a significant new way of helping people with early-stage dementia.

Dementia Dog website.


There are definite, proven steps to protect yourself from ticks.
Opposites don't attract in the spider dating scene.

The Loneliest Whale in the World?

The story of the 'loneliest whale in the world' may say more about humans than it does about whales.

Animal Pictures