Welcome to ...

The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Yeah, it's like that ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 192 countries around the world daily.

Let's all follow the Pied Piper, shall we?! ...

Today is Rat-catchers Day 

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Today in History

1298 King Edward I defeats Scots under William Wallace at Falkirk.
1515 Emperor Maximillian and Vladislav of Bohemia forge an alliance between the Hapsburg and Jagiello dynasties in Vienna.
1652 Prince Conde's rebels narrowly defeat Chief Minister Mazarin's loyalist forces at St. Martin, near Paris.
1789 Thomas Jefferson becomes the first head of the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs.
1812 A British army under the Duke of Wellington defeats the French at Salamanca, Spain.
1814 Five Indian tribes in Ohio make peace with the United States and declare war on Britain.
1881 The first volume of The War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, is published.
1894 The first automobile race takes place between Paris and Rouen, France.
1934 American gangster John Dillinger is shot dead by FBI officers outside a Chicago cinema.
1938 The Third Reich issues special identity cards for Jewish Germans.
1943 Palermo, Sicily surrenders to General George S. Patton's Seventh Army.
1966 B-52 bombers hit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam for the first time.

Non Sequitur


Woman reported rape in Dubai: Sentenced to 16 months in prison

Criminal Sex
A NIGHTMARE: Marte Deborah Dalelv (24) is sentenced to prison in Dubai after she reported a rape. Photo: ANDREA GJEST VANG / VG / PRIVATE
A NIGHTMARE: Marte Deborah Dalelv (24) is sentenced to prison in Dubai after she reported a rape. 

Four months after supposedly being raped, Marthe Deborah Dalelv (24) is stuck in Dubai. She is now warning other women on holiday in the Middle East.

Dubai is presented as a paradise, like everything is nice. But it's not like that, says the 24 year old woman from Tønsberg, Norway to the newspaper VG.

The 6th of March this year she reported a colleague for rape.
But Tuesday this week, Dalelv was sentenced to 16 months in prison after being convicted for having extramarital sex and for drinking alcohol without permission.

The nightmare started when she attended a work trip to Dubai with her colleagues in the Qatar based interior company she worked for.

Woke up being raped

The last night in Dubai she went out on the town with female colleagues from Norway. A couple of their Qatari male colleagues also joined them.

- The morning after I woke up being raped, my clothes were taken off and I was lying on my stomach, Dalelv explains.
When she went to the police to report the assault, they didn't believe her.

- Two hours after being raped the police asked me: "Did you come to us because you didn't like it?". I then realized that they did not believe me, she says.

Took her passport

For four days she was detained in a prison cell, charged for having extramarital sex.

- They took my money, my purse and my passport before locking me in the prison cell. It was freezing cold in there, without enough places to sleep for everyone.

Dalelv was lucky enough to borrow a phone to call her parents and tell them what happened.

- I told my father rapidly: "I have been raped. I am in prison. You have to call the embassy. I am at the Burj Dubai station".

Her appeal hearing is scheduled for the 5th of September, and until then she is stuck in Dubai with the status "wanted". This means she will be arrested if she gets in touch with the police again.

Giving her support

Gisle Meling, the minister to seamen at the Norwegain seamen's church in Dubai characterizes the Norwegian woman's situation as terrible.

- The legal system here has obviously taken the information she has given them and concluded she is guilty of something else, Meling says.

We live in a country with a legal system that has come to this conclusion through their Sharia legislation.

Last night VG was in touch with the police officer Bilal Gomaa at the police station in Dubai where the rape of Dalelv is being investigated.

- Until you have applied for access to the investigation, we cannot give you any information in this case, Gomaa said to VG.
The minister of foreign affairs in Norway, Espen Barth Eide said Thursday that the conviction of the 24 year old woman is against the Norwegian belief in justice:

The conviction in Dubai against a Norwegian woman who reported a rape is against our belief in justice.

- We are giving her support in the process towards the appeal, he writes on his Twitter account.

The Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs does not want to comment further on the conviction, as it was appealed and therefore not yet legally binding.

OB/GYN doctors 'blindsided' by NC abortion bill

Lunatic Fringe 
Abortion rights groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood have complained that a flurry of bills in the North Carolina legislature sharply restricting abortion was a “sneak attack.”  Now, leading doctors say OB/GYNs were caught flat-footed as well.
“We were blindsided just like everybody else,” said Dr. John Albert, an OB/GYN and past president of the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.  “And we really want the legislatures and the government to stay out of the exam room.”

Doctors groups did not testify when the anti-abortion bill was debated in committee.  But from the floor of the state House of Representatives, lawmakers made repeated statements about the risks of abortion.

“People are dying in abortion clinics,” said Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County in the July 11 floor debate.  “Maybe they’re not dying in abortion clinics in North Carolina, but do we really want one person to die before we raise the standard?”

“I think it’s an emotional statement if you look at the bare facts,” said Dr. Frank Harrison, a long-time Charlotte OB/GYN.  “I have been in this state practicing now for 40 years and I have yet to see a woman die in an abortion clinic.”

Rep. Paul Stam of Wake County referenced the death of a woman following an abortion in North Carolina more than 20 years ago.  When asked for any examples in the last three to five years, Rep. Stam replied, “You wouldn’t know because they go to other places to die.”

“I don’t think they die at home and we don’t hear about it,” said Dr. Octavia Cannon, a Charlotte OB/GYN.  “Because certainly if (women) were to die, we would hear about it.”

Dr. Cannon said the state collects statistics of maternal mortality which measure the numbers and rate of women who die following childbirth or abortion.  Dr. Cannon supports tighter regulation of abortion clinics but disagrees with lawmakers rush to pass legislation.

“There do need to be some changes made but should we let the NC Medical Society of the Medical Board be the ones to handle that?” she asked.

Leaders of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists editorialized against the anti-abortion bills in the Charlotte Observer this week.  But with the legislature hurtling toward adjournment next week, most lawmakers seem to have made up their minds without getting a second opinion from the state’s leading doctors.

Rep. Laubenberg, will be a murderer, no different than some street punk who shoots up a liquor store

Lunatic Fringe 

 by Egberto Willies

LaubenbergA friend of mine sent me a link to an article by Texan, Kurt Eichenwald who was having health scare. His wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer during the rancorous debates over a draconian bill that not only takes women’s rights to their own bodies away, but put their health at risk.
The bill was submitted by Texas Representative Jodie Laubenberg. During debates, many of which I listened to live, it was evident she did not have a clue as to what was in the bill, the repercussions of the bill, or the grassroots movement that would grow from the attempt to pass and the passage of the bill.
This representative revealed her incompetence and ignorance when on the House floor she said that rape kits used by law enforcement to collect evidence can prevent pregnancy. She played the part of being unaware of the ultimate consequences of her bill. Mr. Eichenwald did not. He states categorically the following.
You, Rep. Laubenberg, will be a murderer, no different than some street punk who shoots up a liquor store. His weapon is a gun; yours, a smug satisfaction with your limited understanding of health policy. If Theresa and I were among the rural poor, she would now almost certainly be one the many people you would kill as a result of her inability to gain access to breast screenings. And for that, you deserve not only our contempt, but the contempt of every decent human being with the humility and intelligence to recognize the impact of the legislation you have “written,” yet aren’t bright enough to understand. [source]
For those who may think his statement is uncivil, they should read the bill. The bill is more than an ideological document for the uninformed. It tacitly creates the potential for high profit abortion centers even as it claims to want to stem abortions.
The following statement by Mr. Eichenwald is prescient.
Many Republicans, either out of self-delusion or deceit, deny they are causing any such thing. But there is no question that, in their obsession with zygotes, embryos, and non-viable fetuses as part of their supposed pro-life stance, they are effectively murdering real, walking, talking women – mothers and daughters, grandmothers and sisters, all sacrificed on an altar of Pecksniffian hypocrisy and contemptible disregard by people who have the insurance, connections, and available health care to feel certain their politics won’t kill their loved ones. Perhaps Theresa and I are re-directing our anger from the cancer, but so be it; our rage has focused on the financially comfortable, morally blind, and arrogantly self-righteous who tyrannically conspire to rob poor women of years of life they might otherwise have. It is for this reason that Theresa is willing to disclose her condition, in hopes that, in doing so, we will help highlight how politicians are blithely choosing to kill women who are not as fortunate as she is. [source]
He need however not despair. Much evil that has been placed into law in Texas; restrictions on women’s rights, restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, concessions to business over concessions to humans, and denial of healthcare for the poor and working poor by refusing to accept Medicaid expansion in the Affordable  Care Act (Obamacare). This has awakened the Texas progressive sleeping giant.  Sometimes a kick in the stomach is needed before a populace gets off its rear end and engages positively in the body politic.

Senate repugicans Splinter

Lunatic Fringe 
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, accompanied by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., left, talks to reporters about the fight over extending tax cuts following a political strategy session, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, accompanied by Sen. Roy Blunt, r-Mo., left, talks to reporters about the fight over extending tax cuts following a political strategy session, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Whether it’s immigration reform, the budget, or President Obama’s nominees, a faction of more moderate repugican senators are increasingly splitting from both their leadership and the tea party and partnering with Democrats on key issues.The growing signs of division are remarkable after years of exceptional Senate repugican cabal unity under the reign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (r-KY), during which minority use of the filibuster to thwart governance has soared to unprecedented heights.
This week, large numbers of repugicans, led by Sen. John McCain (r-AZ), broke with McConnell and voted with Democrats to secure the confirmation of Obama nominees to the Labor Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In all eight cloture and confirmation votes, McConnell voted “no.”
Nominee Tom Perez for labor secretary, overcame a repugican cabal filibuster by the thinnest of margins, 60-40. The six repugicans who joined Democrats in his favor, whom Democrats will look to for cooperation on other matters, were Sens. McCain, Bob Corker (TN), Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Mark Kirk (IL) and Lisa Murkowski (AK).
In a clear sign of boiling rank-and-file frustration, Corker reportedly cried “bullshit” loudly while McConnell was discussing the issue of nominations and Democrats’ nuclear option threat during a closed-door repugican cabal meeting on Wednesday. He later declined to apologize for it and said he’s “glad that that occurred.”
On immigration, 14 repugicans joined every Democrat in voting to comprehensively overhaul the system and offer unauthorized immigrants a path to citizenship.
On the budget, numerous repugican senators are urging wingnut colleagues to stop blocking conference negotiations with the House, and are pushing for a long-term budget agreement with Democrats that includes new revenues — anathema to the tea party.
McCain has led the dissent in each of these cases, earning effusive praise from leading Democratic senators and prompting jokes this week by Democratic aides that he is the new minority leader.
John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University, pointed to three apparent factors in the divisions: “[S]incere preferences about policy,” the outcome of the 2012 election, and the fact that some senators “value the institutions of the Senate.”
“They want to Senate to work better than it has been, and believe that confirming presidential nominees is part of that,” he said. “And they also value the filibuster, too. They want to preserve that feature of the Senate, and so a compromise on nominees was better than Reid’s using the nuclear option.”
Complicating matters for leadership is that McConnell and his No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn (r-TX), are both unpopular at home and face reelection next year. As a result, they’re working to ward off primary challengers by voting against Democratic initiatives as much as possible and avoiding the appearance of working with President Obama. That makes it harder for them to balance the concerns of rank and file members, who watched their party get crushed in a second consecutive presidential election and aren’t eager to spend another four years obstructing.
But it remains to be seen whether the divisions will usher in a new era of Senate cooperation, as McCain strikes a conciliatory posture with his 2008 rival on upcoming battles involving the debt ceiling and nominees to the influential D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On nominations, McConnell had sought to so vastly redefine the parameters of a Senate minority’s obstructionist muscle that the beating he took this week ultimately amounts to a battle lost in a war he’s still comfortably winning. On immigration, senior repugicans tacitly gave reform their blessing, seemingly for the sake of the party, even as they voted against the legislation. On the budget, the larger repugican cabal divisions are between the Senate (where members are less enthusiastic about massive spending cuts) and the House.

What The Wingnuts Don’t Want You To Know About Welfare

Lunatic Fringe 

9 Myths Exploded

by Wes Williams 
Would anybody like to guess who makes up the single largest group on welfare? Children. One in every four children in the U.S. receives welfare benefits. Image @ PortlandStateUniversity
Would anybody like to guess who makes up the single largest group on welfare? Children. One in every four children in the U.S. receives welfare benefits.

Every so often Facebook is covered with the little “ecards” and other items that complain about “lazy people on welfare” who have an iPhone, a new car, are buying cigarettes, and are just generally living the good life off of the rest of us who work for a living. Close your eyes for a moment, and develop a mental picture of an “average welfare recipient.” Now use that mental picture as a frame of reference for what you are about to read. If you are like many Americans, be prepared to have your beliefs about welfare and welfare recipients shattered.
Myth: “People on welfare are lazy and sit at home collecting it while the rest of us work to support them.”
Fact: The welfare reform law that was signed by President Clinton in 1996 largely turned control over welfare benefits to the states, but the federal government provides some of the funding for state welfare programs through a program called Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF). TANF grants to states require that all welfare recipients must find work within two years of first receiving benefits. This includes single parents, who are required to work at least 30 hours per week. Two-parent families are required to work 35 to 50 hours per week. Failure to obtain work could result in loss of benefits. It is also worth noting that, thanks to the pay offerings of companies such as Walmart, many who work at low wage jobs qualify for public assistanceeven though they work full-time.
The popular perception is that welfare recipients don’t want to work. There are people in all sorts of situations who would probably prefer not to work, but for welfare recipients the law gives them no choice;  within two years they have to find work or face losing benefits.
Myth: “People who go on welfare stay on it forever.”
Fact: According to statisticbrain.com, the vast majority of TANF recipients, 80.4 percent,  receive benefits for five years or less. (The site still refers to the program by the old name of Aid To Families With Dependent Children. AFDC is the program that seems to be most often identified with the term “welfare.” AFDC programs were replaced at the federal level by TANF in 1996, but it is still common to hear the program referred to as AFDC.)
Myth: “There’s a woman in Chicago. She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards. … She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000″ – Ronald Reagan
Fact: Ah, the “welfare queen.” Ronny loved to tell his stories, and his welfare queen story is one of the most popular. The only problem is, the woman he talked about didn’t exist. There is some evidence that elements of this story may have been based on facts, but the descriptions of abuse by an actual woman were wildly exaggerated by Reagan.
Myth: “Welfare recipients keep having more kids so they can get more benefits.”
Fact: According to a 2010 report released by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average family receiving TANF benefits has 1.8 children, which is about the same as the national average. Half of the families receiving TANF benefits only have one child. In fact, the average size of families receiving welfare benefits has declined from 4.0 in 1969 to 2.4 in 2010. Also, some states, such as Delaware and Georgia, make it clear to those who sign up for TANF benefits that their benefits will not increase if they have additional children. Taken from the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services website:
You will get information on family planning.  Your check will not increase if you have a baby 10 months or more after you sign up for this program. [Emphasis added]
Government Accountability Office report (page 45), shows the amount of TANF benefits paid in each state for one to three children. Even in states where having additional children will result in a benefit increase, that increase is, in most cases, $100 a month or less.
Myth: “Where Is The U.S. Headed If More Than 100 Million People Get Welfare?” – Headline of August 2012 column by CNN’s Jack Cafferty
Fact: 100 million Americans on welfare? Cafferty apparently gets his information from a biased source, the Center For Immigration Studies, which is connected to identified racist John Tanton. According to the 2010 federal HHS report, 1,084,828 adults and 3,280,153 children received TANF benefits that year, a far cry from 100 million.

Myth: ”I see these guys all the time, hanging out and drinking, and doing drugs, collecting welfare instead of working.”
Fact: The able-bodied single male with no dependent children who collects welfare in the United States pretty much does not exist, since the primary goal of most welfare programs is to provide temporary support for children and families. Single males can receive certain benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they are disabled.
Myth: “Most welfare recipients are drug users.”
Fact: That’s apparently what Florida governor Rick Scott thought, too. The state of Florida began drug testing welfare recipients in 2011. About 2 percent tested positive for drug use. According to the New York Times, federal statistics show that the rate of drug use among welfare recipients is about the same as it is for the public at large.
Myth: “Most welfare recipients are minorities and illegal immigrants.”
Fact: TANF benefits were paid out to roughly the same percentage of white and black recipients in 2010, according to the HHS report. In fact, the percentage of black families receiving welfare benefits has declined by almost 7 percent since 2000. Regarding illegal immigrants: those who are in the United States illegally are ineligible for benefits other than emergency Medicaid.
Myth: ”People collect welfare instead of work, and they get rich. They all have iPhones, drive new cars, have widescreen tv’s, etc. I work and I can’t afford any of that!”
Fact:  Since welfare payments vary by state and by the size of the family, it’s hard to provide all the pertinent numbers here, but here are some ranges:
  • A family of four can expect up to $500 a month in food stamp benefits. A single person can expect an average of $200 a month.
  • The average monthly allowance under TANF/AFDC is $900 for a family of four. For a single person the average is about $300.
It would be interesting to see what kind of “new car” anyone could buy on that income, or even an iPhone, for that matter. (Remember, despite what Newt Gingrich may have claimed during the 2012 election campaign, you can’t use food stamps for anything except food, so when you’re figuring how much money someone might have for an iPhone or a car, take that money out of the equation.) It is also worth observing that the people who sneer about welfare recipients having those things don’t take into consideration that the person may have had that iPhone or car before having to go on welfare. Along these lines, perhaps the most laughable criticism is of welfare recipients who have tattoos. Tattoos are permanent, folks! How do you know that someone got a tattoo after starting to receive welfare?
One final fact about welfare. Would anybody like to guess who makes up the single largest group on welfare in the United States? It’s children. One out of every four children in the United States receives welfare benefits.
Because the rules surrounding TANF require recipients to look for work, the problem is not with laziness, or a lack of education, but rather with the availability of jobs with good wages and benefits. Were more parents able to find well-paying jobs, fewer of their children would need welfare benefits. In fact, were more good jobs available, fewer Americans in general would need the assistance of welfare.

Detroit Is Beta-Test of the repugican cabal's Plan To Sell The Federal Government to Corporations

Lunatic Fringe
In the software world, the concept behind beta-testing is an external pilot-test of a product before commercial quantity production for public consumption. During the beta test stage, a product has already passed an internal pilot-test where glaring defects have been removed, but since the product may still have some minor problems that require user participation, it is released to selected customers to test under normal, everyday conditions to spot and correct remaining flaws. The repugicans have long sought to privatize government, and they have given indications that their penchant for restricting revenue sources and creating phony debt crises is part of their anti-government agenda to manufacture a scenario where the government is bankrupt to give corporations the opportunity to buy-out government assets and programs for a profit. On Thursday, the first beta-test of selling off a city to corporations began in earnest when an emergency manager in Detroit filed for bankruptcy, and it is a harbinger of the repugicans’ plan for the federal government. The repugicans have long sought to sell off government assets they claim are prohibitively expensive to private, for-profit enterprises they claim are better equipped to administer them because they will base operations on sound corporate business models. What Detroit is experiencing is the Bain Capital vulture capitalist tactic of taking over a company, leveraging it with debt, declaring bankruptcy, and selling off assets and firing union employees all while turning a profit. Michigan governor Rick Snyder followed Bain’s tactics in appointing his cohort to lead the city, disband the government, and create conditions allowing the emergency manager to declare the city bankrupt to sell off assets allegedly to satisfy creditors.
It is not common for a municipality to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy according to U.S. Courts, and the purpose is to “provide a financially distressed municipality protection from its creditors while it develops and negotiates a plan for adjusting its debts. Reorganization of the debts of a municipality is typically accomplished either by extending debt maturities, or refinancing the debt by obtaining a new loan.” It may not be typical for municipalities, but it follows the Bain model right down to “refinancing the debt to obtain a new loan” that is part and parcel of leveraging a company, or in Detroit’s case, a city, with more debt it will never be able to repay without selling off all its assets.
In Detroit’s case, the city was leveraged to the hilt with state-backed bond money to allow it to meet payroll for its employees, and by feigning resistance by creditors, unions, and pension boards to take pennies on the dollar for their assets to assist in restructuring the city’s finances, the bankruptcy gives the emergency manager power to liquidate city assets, including public employee pensions, to satisfy demands for payment. Willard Romney would be proud of emergency city manager Kevyn Orr’s adherence to the Bain tactics; especially because as city employees and residents suffer like hundreds-of-thousands of employees Bain companies ruined, corporations will buy government assets for a pittance.
Everything emergency city manager Orr has done is in line with Bain tactics including misrepresenting the city’s financial situation to create the necessity for cutting expenses, services, and finally declaring bankruptcy not unlike Bain Capital did to companies they took over. An attorney for Detroit, Krystal Crittendon, criticized a recent financial report filed by Orr and said the numbers do not accurately represent the city’s fiscal woes, and it follows typical repugican rhetoric regarding the federal debt. She said, “The whole foundation that brings him here is false. We do not have a $15 billion or a $20 billion debt problem. We have less than a $2 billion short-term debt problem that we could manage if we just went out and collected revenues that are owed to the city; stop giving tax abatement to people who can actually afford to pay taxes.” The repugicans have resisted raising taxes, or even funding the IRS to collect taxes, from corporations and the wealthy while they complain social programs like Social Security and Medicare are driving the country into bankruptcy as a reason to cut spending and turn over operations like Medicare to privatization.
What Detroit suffered is a microcosm of the federal government leveraged with debt from shrub-repugicans’ tax cuts for the rich, bailouts to Wall Street and banks designated as “too big to fail,” a Medicare prescription plan, and two unnecessary wars that were all unfunded and put on the nation’s credit card. To make it nearly impossible for the federal government to meet its debt obligations, repugicans refused to bring in more revenue, and spent four years driving up debt with extensions on tax cuts for the rich, over-funding the already bloated defense budget, and nearly causing the government to default on its debts during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. Along the way, repugicans have attempted cutting Medicare and Social Security spending they claim is driving the debt and deficit, as well as using the sequester to starve domestic programs into oblivion not unlike Detroit’s city manager withholding funding for education, city maintenance, and social programs as prohibitively expensive while giving tax breaks to the rich.
The city of Detroit’s emergency manager followed Bain Capital’s recipe for eviscerating a company, sending it into bankruptcy, and reorganizing to sell off assets to wealthy Wall Street investors to settle debts, and it is the repugican version of beta-testing their intention to privatize the federal government. The repugicans have long-panted to sell off government assets and operations to private corporations whether it is public education, Social Security, Medicare, or federal buildings and national parks. Because those programs are successful and popular with the people, and to portray them as creating the nation’s debt woes, they have systematically underfunded them while pushing privatization as the only means of their salvation. Over the past four years repugican leaders have complained “America is broke” and decried domestic programs driving it into bankruptcy at the same time they resisted new revenue and fought to give greater tax breaks and subsidies to the rich and corporations.
Michigan Governor Snyder telegraphed his intent when he appointed Orr, a “turnaround specialist,” saying, “Creditors and public servants deserve to know what promises the city can and will keep, and the only way to do those things is to radically restructure the city and allow it to reinvent itself without the burden of impossible obligations.” The victims of Snyder and Orr’s machinations are schools, city workers, and their pension plans that were given the option of taking 10-cents on the dollar or lose everything in Chapter 9 bankruptcy reorganization, and like Bain companies, employees will lose their jobs, pensions, and schools are sold off to for-profit corporations.
Doubtless, repugicans at the federal level are closely monitoring the devastation in Detroit to spot any remaining flaws in the bankruptcy to privatization strategy, and carefully scheming to convince Washington that Social Security, Medicare, public education, and domestic programs have to be radically restructured without the burden of impossible obligations.  For repugicans, impossible obligations are Social Security, Medicare, and public education, and lacking total control of Congress and the White House, they will continue rejecting new revenue, create a phony debt crisis, underfund critical domestic programs, and if possible, declare America is bankrupt and sell off the government to privatization.

What A Nation Would Look Like Built on repugican Ideology

Lunatic Fringe 
The repugicans believe that their ideology is what the United States needs in order to be “successful and prosperous.” Which always forces me to ask the question, “If wingnut ideology is so wonderful, why are so many of their states poor, rank near the bottom in median family income and their citizens have shorter life expectancy than people living in “liberal states?” Of course it’s a rhetorical question because most wingnuts either won’t answer the question or simply deny that it’s true.  It’s a question which challenges their cognitive dissonance, which means for many they simply can’t grasp the conflicting realities of what they want to believe and what’s actually there. But it did get me to thinking, what kind of country do these people want?  What might it be like?  What would their social structures be like?
So, I decided I’d try to paint a picture of what kind of nation these people want. Based upon what I’ve seen many repugicans support, if they had their way, they would have a country that:
  • Had a government based upon theocracy where all but one religion is vilified.
  • Women are seen as secondary citizens to men, and their rights would often be determined by only men.
  • Rape victims would often be viewed as poorly as those who committed the crime.
  • Prayer would be required in schools.
  • Homosexuality would be seen as an abomination.
  • Contraceptives would be strongly frowned upon or would be outright illegal.
  • Voting laws, and rules, would be structured to favor a particular section of its citizens.
  • Having an abortion would be an offense equal to murder (and punished as such).
  • Immigrants wouldn’t be welcome.
  • Anyone who opposed Republican beliefs would be viewed as an enemy to god and country.
  • Nationalism would be used as a tool to breed intolerance of anyone different.
  • Same-sex marriage wouldn’t be legal.
  • Homosexuals wouldn’t be allowed to adopt children.
  • Education would be manipulated by the theocratic beliefs of the government.
Wait, this all sounds very familiar.  I know I’ve heard of a country that shares many of these same values.
Oh that’s right—Iran.

Microsoft call center worker fired for hanging up on a neo-nazi

Lunatic Fringe 
Julian says: "We all have to deal with call centers and they are alas today's dark Satanic mills. A place where you can get low pay, high stress and no recognition. A friend of mine was recently canned at one (a contractor for Microsoft), for hanging up on someone with a pro Nazi nym.
Around 6:15 PM PST on July 17th of this year, I got a call from Dave. Dave had some kind of an accounts issue, which we don’t normally touch. I told him I could transfer him to the Live department and they could take a look at the issue for him. Up to this point Dave seemed perfectly nice. He didn’t even give me shit about being named April and having a male-sounding voice. Then I asked him his gamertag.
“I’ll spell it out for you,” says Dave. “It’s H-E-E-B, and then it’s all together, no spaces, H-U-N-T-E-R, and then an S-S. So it should be HeebHunterSS with no spaces.”

Atlantic City redevelopment keeps poor on the move

It's The Economy Stupid
This July 17, 2013 photo shows buildings with blue tarpaulins on roofs and boarded windows near the year-old Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. Some criticize the way the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which in 2011 was given the authority to run the city's tourism district, has handled plans to redevelop the neighborhood, which sits in the shadows of Revel. Low-income and middle-class residents accuse developers and officials of treating their homes like houses and hotels in Monopoly, the board game inspired by Atlantic City real estate. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) 
As Sandra Taliaferro prepares to move out of her apartment to make way for redevelopment efforts near Atlantic City's newest casino, she recalls the state of the city when she moved there as a teenager more than 50 years ago.
"You weren't allowed to go across Atlantic past a certain time," said Taliaferro, who is black, explaining that the city remained partly racially segregated.
Modern redevelopment efforts are having a similar effect, she said. "Now it's not race; it's money. You've got your side, and I've got my side of town."
At 66, Taliaferro is one of the main critics of the way the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has handled plans to overhaul her neighborhood, which sits in the shadows of the year-old Revel Casino-Hotel.
The battle is the latest conflict here in which low-income or middle-class residents believe developers and officials are casting aside their homes like the plastic houses in Monopoly, the board game inspired by Atlantic City real estate.
Linda Steele, president of the NAACP's Atlantic City branch, counts more than 500 housing units that have been cleared since the late 1980s to make way for projects including an outlet mall and convention center — a significant number in a city with 40,000 residents.
Many of the disputes have been local news, but some of the disputes attracted wide attention. In the 1990s, Donald Trump joined residents in a futile attempt to fight an Expressway expansion to serve a casino planned by his rival, Steve Wynn. The road was built, and so was a casino, though not by Wynn; the swanky Borgata is now the most profitable casino in the city. And then there's the case of Vera Coking, a widow who refused to sell her house to Penthouse owner Bob Guccione, prompting him to build the steel skeleton of a building right around it. Trump later tore down that frame to put up his own casino but never prevailed in getting Coking to sell.
The marriage of the casino industry and its host city has been complicated since gambling arrived in 1978. After decades of growth, casino revenue has fallen precipitously since 2007. And the city remains a place where signs of poverty co-exist with symbols of excess — limousines zipping past pawn shops and homeless people. The poverty rate is 29 percent, even higher than in 1980.
The opening of Revel has inspired plans for the surrounding South Inlet area.
A group that includes former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal has approval to build a $75 million entertainment complex, and the CRDA is trying to assemble and clear other land to sell to developers. The first step is obtaining about 70 units of housing, mostly in the two-story Vermont Plaza and Metropolitan Plaza apartment complexes. About a third of the families have moved out.
CRDA's executive director, John Palmieri, said there aren't specific plans for how that area might be transformed. "We want to create a neighborhood here," he said. "It's no mystery. It's a beautiful location."
As Revel opened last year, CRDA planned to use its revenue share — 1.25 percent of gambling winnings — to pay for a $50 million bond to buy and clear several blocks. But Revel has struggled, losing money, laying off workers, filing for bankruptcy and changing executive teams.
So CRDA is using a more modest $8.5 million from unrestricted funds to remake the neighborhood and is willing to use its eminent domain powers if owners decline to sell.
Many residents received eviction notices with deadlines to leave by last week, but they can stay longer to find suitable places, said Palmieri, who acknowledges they have a right to be angry.
Palmieri says his organization helps relocate the displaced residents, offering house-hunting help it doesn't have to and paying more for moving and new places than is required. His staff says three tenants who have moved out of South Inlet have used CRDA funding for down payments on homes of their own.
Also, when developers ask for financing or other approvals, CRDA requires that they set aside some housing for lower-income residents.
Taliaferro, retired from a career that included jobs as a casino dealer and bartender, said she understands the reality that upscale stores and houses could help tourism, but she wants the agency to build affordable housing. And she says the CRDA keeps finding her undesirable places in areas infested with rats or crime.
The timing of this redevelopment plan has also been troublesome to some.
After Superstorm Sandy ripped through the coast last year, there aren't enough suitable rental homes, housing advocates say.
Meanwhile, residents say several buildings in the redevelopment area have blue tarps on their roofs to cover holes ripped by the storm. The owners refuse to make repairs with the buildings slated to come down, said Taliaferro, who lives in the Metropolitan Plaza complex.
Tanya Coleman, who lives in the Vermont Plaza complex, said property managers have been unwilling to fix her leaky air conditioner, which is causing mold to grow in her bedroom.
Management companies for both apartment complexes didn't return calls to The Associated Press.
Coleman, a casino dispatcher, has been packing boxes so she's ready to go once the one-bedroom apartment she found is granted a certificate of occupancy.
She'd rather not leave her home of four years, but she doesn't want to stay in its current condition.
"Let's be real," she said. "This is about casinos and making money for them. It isn't about the people that live here."

The Beginner's Guide to the Paleo Diet

Culinary DeLites
The easy way to go Paleo 
The easy way to go Paleo 

The Paleo diet has been reported to eliminate bloating, clear up acne, eradicate seasonal allergies, free you from migraines, and even help you shed a few pounds. While none of this is guaranteed, cleaning up your diet and focusing on whole, fresh foods is definitely a good idea.

"Real foods in the right portions help you feel more satisfied because they help keep blood sugar levels even and your hunger hormones balanced," says Diane Sanfilippo, a holistic nutritionist and author of Practical Paleo.

The basic guidelines-skip grains (both refined and whole), legumes, packaged snacks, dairy, and sugar in favor of vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fats, and oils-seem easy, but to successfully go cavewoman takes some savvy.

Follow these 11 rules to get started.

1. Clean Out Your Kitchen

Gather all the "no" foods-grains, cereal, vegetable oils, beans, yogurt, cheese, milk, packaged foods, you get it-and toss them in the trash. Doing it all at once has an advantage. "It's easier to avoid temptation if it's not there," says Nell Stephenson, author of Paleoista, Gain Energy, Get Lean and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat.

But if you prefer to baby-step your way, that works too. Perhaps you cut out dairy the first week, eliminate refined grains during week two, skip all grains the next week, and so on until you're following a Paleo diet. Either way, be sure to restock your kitchen with whole foods so you have plenty to eat.

2. Pinpoint Your Motivation

Many people turn to Paleo in an attempt to help with medical issues, such as GI problems, autoimmune conditions, and allergies. Some simply want to feel better day-to-day or believe that it's the healthiest way to eat. Your reason will help determine the guidelines you follow and what you want to be meticulous about, Sanfilippo says. And be strict about your personal rules for the first 30 days, Stephenson recommends. "This is enough time to start noticing all the health benefits."

3. Follow the 85/15 Rule
After the first month, many experts recommend the 85/15 approach, meaning 85 percent of the time you're strictly Paleo, leaving 15 percent for non-Paleo stuff, whether that's a granola bar, a hamburger (bun and all) at a cookout, or cocktails with the girls. Pay attention to how you feel after reintroducing things into your diet, Sanfilippo says. For example, if you have a scoop of ice cream and wake up bloated the next day, you may decide that future discomfort isn't worth it.

4. Expect a Setback (or 2)
"It's totally normal to go Paleo and slip back into your normal eating habits," Sanfilippo says. "But don't feel like a failure. It's a learning process." Find likeminded people following the diet through local groups, blogs, forums, and Facebook, and connect with them to help steer you back on track-and keep you there.

5. Cook!

Because Paleo is based off of whole, fresh foods, it's easier to whip up meals at home rather than a restaurant where it's harder to control what ingredients are used. Take this opportunity to experiment with new foods-maybe even challenge yourself to buy the weirdest-looking vegetable at the farmer's market and ask the seller for advice on how best to prepare it. You can also search online or invest in some Paleo cookbooks for inspiration so your meals stay flavorful and aren't just plain seared chicken breast with plain kale and carrots.

6. Be a Label Decoder
You know to skip doughnuts, cookies, and crackers, but some foods are surprisingly not Paleo: peanut butter (it's a legume); nut butters or dried fruit with added sugars; and soy sauce, malt vinegar, lunchmeats, and many marinades and sauces (some contain soy, gluten, preservatives, and sugar). So be sure to read the ingredients list closely when buying anything in a package.

7. Rethink Your Plate
You've been taught to reserve half your plate for veggies, a quarter for lean protein, and the remaining quarter for whole grains. When you change to Paleo, stop holding a place for grains: A balanced plate consists of a palm-sized portion of protein, a dollop of fat, and veggies, veggies, veggies (fill the rest of your plate with them).

8. Make an Oil Change
Instead of reaching for canola, corn, or soybean oil for sautéing, use coconut oil or lard. Really. These high-quality saturated fats are healthy to cook with because they are more stable and won't oxidize when heated (oxidation releases damaging free radicals). And when it comes to lard, "animal fats-if from grass-fed cows-pack more omega 3s, as well as a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid, which some studies suggest may help burn fat," Sanfilippo says. Some experts also recommend butter from grass-fed cows, but many restrict dairy of any kind. (The choice is yours.) For cold applications, use olive oil, avocado oil, and walnut oil.

9. Eat Meat
"Many people have restricted meat from their diet because they believe it is harmful to their health. You can eat meat-just make sure it's high quality," says Paleo expert Loren Cordain, Ph.D., a professor at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Diet. So say goodbye to processed meats such as bologna, salami, and hot dogs. Wild meats like bison, elk, and boar are the ideal choice, followed by pasture-fed meats and poultry, and lean grain-fed meat should be your last pick. For seafood, opt for wild-caught as often as possible, and sustainable, low-mercury choices are best. Find good options via the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

10. Fool Your Sweet Tooth
Giving up sugar is a major hurdle for many people at first. If you love to have a treat after dinner, swap the cookies or fro-yo for a piece of fresh fruit. (For major sugar cravings, Sanfilippo says a Paleo secret is a little bit of dried mango.) With time, your taste buds will adjust-and that Oreo you loved so much before might become too sweet now, Sanfilippo adds. Seriously!

11. Eat Out with Ease

A business dinner or brunch with your best friend is still doable on the Paleo diet. All it takes is a little ingredient sleuthing, Stephenson says. First look at the menu ahead of time and pick one or two options that you can Paleo-ize. That might be wild salmon with broccoli. (Request double the veggies in place of the rice pilaf.) At the restaurant, don't be shy to ask questions about how things are prepared and request changes, if necessary.

The Strongest Girl In The World

Odds and Sods
Maryana Naumova, 13, lifts weight two times heavier than her own (87,5 kg!). She is called the strongest girl in the world. More

Man builds life-size Tonka truck

Brad Doane, a tow truck driver from Menomonie in Wisconsin, is extremely proud of having built a life-size Tonka truck that actually drives. "You can't mistake what it is," smiles Brad. "'Dang, that looks like a Tonka truck.'" It looks like a Tonka truck, because in essence it is. It's a 16 foot long, 10 foot tall, two ton life-size fabrication of a Tonka Mighty Wrecker.

Brad rolled it out of the shop earlier this year and has been turning heads ever since. "He had every Tonka there ever was," said Lonna Doane about her 40-year-old son. Lonna gets credit for putting the bug in Brad's ear when she brought home to the shop a well-used toy Tonka tow truck she purchased at a charity auction.

"He said, 'Mom, I want to build the Tonka." Brad found a drive train in an 1984 Chevy pickup he purchased along a roadside for $700. He then spent a year cutting, bending and welding steel into a shape that mirrors the original Tonka, only at 12 times the size. "When you're driving down the road and you meet people, it's not like they give a double take; it's like a triple take," says Brad.

Though the truck is fully functional and a registered vehicle, it won't be towing many cars. Like the toy it's based on, its winch has a hand crank. "I had to keep it true to the little guy you know," Brad laughs. Lonna describes her son's dedication to the project as a complete "labor of love for him." Brad plans to share the love by taking the truck to community parades and festivals.

Walt Disney's First Film

From 1922, Little Red Riding Hood by Walt Disney was part of he Laugh-o-Grams series. According to Flavorwire, this was a lost film for decades.

Produced in 1922 as part of the “Laugh-O-Grams” series, this short film was the first cartoon by a young Kansas City animator named Walt Disney. But it didn’t make any noise when it was released — the studio went bankrupt the following year — and by the time Disney became a household name, the film had vanished. It appeared on the AFI’s 1980 list of “10 Most Wanted Films for Archival Preservation,” and that was that. But later that decade, a British film historian and collector named David Wyatt found “Little Red Riding Hood,” as well as a later Laugh-O-Gram adaptation of Cinderella, at a sale of 16mm prints at a London library.

The story is part of a list of 17 Amazing Stories of Lost and Found Films.

Random Photos

Star Wars City Doomed

Scientific Miscellanea
Star Wars city doomed by sand duneSand dune
Sand dunes migrating over the Tunisian desert are poised to bury a famous Star Wars film set.

Scientists confirm neutrinos shift between three interchangeable types

Scientific Minds Want To Know

New research has shown that subatomic particles called neutrinos have a previously unseen identity-shifting property. The results confirm early indications that neutrinos change between different types, or oscillate, in three ways where they had previously [...]

Remains of sacrificed woman found in north Peru

Scientific Minds Want To Know
The mummified remains of a sacrificed woman of the Moche culture were discovered by Peruvian archaeologists at the El Brujo complex some 570 kilometers (350 miles) north of Lima, researchers said.
Remains of sacrificed woman found in north Peru
The human sacrifices found in archaeological centers of the Moche culture, extant between the 1st and 8th centuries A.D. on Peru's northern coast, were men and in the supine position [Credit: EFE/Andina]
The archaeologist in charge of excavating the complex, Regulo Franco, said "it came as quite a surprise to find a woman, and even more to see she was buried in the prone position with her head toward the west in the direction of the sea, and with one of her arms extended, a very abnormal position" because it is unlike any known until now.

The human sacrifices found in archaeological centers of the Moche culture, extant between the 1st and 8th centuries A.D. on Peru's northern coast, were men and in the supine position.

Franco added, in a statement to state news agency Andina, that "we suppose that, after having been sacrificed, her lifeless body was dropped into a previously prepared pit."

The mummified remains were found in the temple of Cao Viejo, which had a ceremonial courtyard over 25 meters (80 feet) high in the El Brujo complex, located in Ascope province of the La Libertad region.

The woman, between 17 and 19 years old, lay beneath the floor of the ceremonial courtyard, constructed toward the end of the Moche occupation of the region, between the 7th and 8th centuries A.D.

America archaeologist John Verano, who works with Franco's team, told local media that the woman's death seems to have been "caused by her swallowing some toxic substance or being strangled with a cord, the usual method with young women who accompanied Moche dignitaries to the tomb."

The El Brujo archaeological complex forms part of a project of the Culture Ministry and the Wiese Foundation for the research and recovery of the heritage of pre-Incan cultures that reached their height in northern Peru.

Alacahöyük diggings reveal Hittite canals

Scientific Minds Want To Know
The excavation area in Çorum’s Alacahöyük district reveals an ancient dam and water canals from the Hittite era, several thousand years ago.
Alacahöyük diggings reveal Hittite canals
Excavations in Alacahöyük revealed water canals dating from the Hittite era [Credit: AA/Hurriyet]
Alacahöyük excavation president Professor Aykut Çınaroğlu said the dam was discovered in 2004 during the excavations however the water canals are the new findings from the excavation works.

Noting that the dam excavation had been carried with the support of a construction firm, Çınaroğlu said the dam has believed to have been constructed by Hittites around 4,000 years ago. The dam was used for irrigation and providing drinking water to the city, he added, noting that this was the oldest dam to have been found so far.

The team also found a hieroglyphic tablet which was written in the 1250s. The tablet is believed to have been written for the Hittites’ strongest king, Budahepa, and the goddess Hepata.

“The technique used during construction by the Hittites is the oldest one. While generally cement fillings are used in the dam making, the Hittites used clay.” Çınaroğlu said

Watering canals

Çınaroğlu said state waterworks had analyzed the area and the water that passed through was still clean and could be drunk. The water canals extended to the north and south of the city, said Çınaroğlu.

“These canals are on private lands. Our aim is to restore these canals and make them a part of the ancient city. The final aim is to open those canals to visitors.”

According to Çınaroğlu, the best thing to do is flow the waters through the canals for everyone to see.
“If we can open them then this means Alcahöyük will have another open air museum for itself,” he said adding that, “The dam alone does not mean anything, the important thing is combining this with the canals.”

Alacahöyük, which currently draws around 50,000 visitors a year, uncovers more clues like those found each year. The first excavations had started at the ancient site in 1907, and lasted only 15 days, and were then restarted in 1935 on the order of Atatürk. 

Çınaroğlu said that this year’s digs in Alacahöyük, which is known as Turkey’s first national excavation area, would begin next month, adding that the works would focus on following up the pieces that were found last year and proved that the first settlement was seen in the area much earlier than thought. In the light of data to be revealed during excavations, Çınaroğlu said they had previously estimated that housing dated back to 8,500 years ago in Alacahöyük, “But we had suspicions that it might date back to earlier times. Last year we began finding pieces from the Neolithic age, confirming our suspicions.

We could not have found a Neolithic settlement but objects that will shed light on this settlement. Thus we saw that housing dated back to 1,500 years earlier than we had known so far. This year we will focus on these objects and try to find the traces of this settlement.”

He said that their goal was to reach a Hittite layer in this year’s works, adding, “This is what we expect this year. We may find it or not. Or perhaps we will find it in future excavations. The objects that we found in the last years were a very good discovery. We don’t know yet what to find this year.”

A 6,000-year-old wood carving unearthed in Wales

Scientific Minds Want To Know 
Archaeologists have unearthed what is believed to be one of Europe's oldest decorative wood carvings - dating back more than 6,000 - on a Valleys hillside. The decorative carving was exposed by workmen during the construction of Maerdy Wind Farm in the Rhondda Valley.
6,000-year-old wood carving unearthed in Wales
Decorative wood carving found in Maerdy is believed to be one of the oldest ever
recovered in Europe as it dates back 6,270 years [Credit: Wales Online]
Richard Scott Jones, an archaeologist from Heritage Recording Services Wales, said the piece of wood was “priceless” and would be unveiled to the public at the National History Museum in St Fagans next year.

He said the wood is likely to date back 6,270 years to the Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic period.

“In archaeological circles, this is the is equivalent to winning the lottery,” he said. “Finding a piece of decorative art like this is incredibly rare in this area of Wales, especially on uplands. And in terms of timber, this is truly unique. It gives us an idea of the sophistication in terms of artwork around at that time.”

Around 12 lengths of timber were discovered by workmen in waterlogged peat deposits during construction of a substation for the wind farm last September. One of the pieces, which was elaborately carved, was then removed off-site and cleaned for inspection. 

The timber, which measures around 1.7m long, has an intricate pattern along one side and an oval motif at one end. It is believed to have been used as a tribal marker post indicating a tribal boundary, a hunting ground or a sacred site.

As soon as the significance of the timber was discovered, it was sent to Newport Ship Centre for temporary preservation in a water holding tank and 3D laser scanning.

Experts from the University of Wales Trinity St David, the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust and a number of paleo-entomologists also examined the find. Further excavation was carried out at the wind farm site in the hope of discovering other artifacts - but none were found.

Alan Baker of 2020 Renewables said: “This is a tremendous discovery of real historical significance.

“We had a normal written scheme of archaeological investigation with Rhondda Cynon Taf council as part of the planning conditions for the wind farm. This meant putting protective fencing around a number of sites of cultural heritage before starting ground work and while stripping topsoil. Also, as part of that agreement we were responsible for the costs associated with the investigation and assessment of the find. It’s very exciting that this discovery has proved to be of such international significance and fully justifies our company policy of protecting sites of historic interest.”

The wood is now undergoing a conservation program of wax-glycol treatment at the York Archaeological Trust in York, where it is expected to stay until 2014.

Once this conservation work is completed, it  is hoped that it will be transferred to Cardiff and go on display at the National History Museum.

Epigraphs of ancient Turkic people discovered in Mongolia

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Two massive slabs of stone inscribed in ancient Turkic script have been found on the steppes of eastern Mongolia, the first such discovery in over a century, a Japanese researcher said July 16.
Epigraphs of ancient Turkic people discovered in Mongolia
Remnants of two ancient Turkic epigraphs, foreground, lie beside stone columns and other
artifacts at an archaeological site in Mongolia on May 29 [Credit: Takashi Osawa]
The epigraphs date from the mid-eighth century, said Takashi Osawa, a professor of ancient Turkic history at Osaka University's graduate school.

He said the finds may offer invaluable clues to the political systems and institutions of the Gokturk people, who faced the Sui and Tang dynasties in China in times of peace and war as they reigned over the steppes of Central Asia.

Osawa said he and researchers from the Institute of Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences discovered remnants of two giant epigraphs in May at an archaeological site called Dongoin shiree. It is near Mount Delgerkhaan, 400 kilometers southeast of Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital.

The epigraphs measure 4 meters and 3 meters, respectively. Combined, they are inscribed with 2,832 symbols, in 20 lines of ancient Turkic script.

Osawa, who deciphered the writing, said it describes the lamentation of people who have to leave their beloved families and homeland behind when they die.

"Oh, my home!" reads one inscription. Another reads: "Oh, my land!"

Signs engraved in the epigraphs indicate the artifacts likely represent epitaphs dedicated to members of the Ashina tribe, the reigning family of the Second Turkic Empire (682-744).

Epigraphs of ancient Turkic people discovered in Mongolia
Ancient Turkic inscriptions discovered in Mongolia, which should
be read from right to left [Credit: Takashi Osawa]
The Gokturks are the oldest nomadic people in Central Asia that left records of their own language in their own writing system.

The discovery is significant as it is the first of its kind since the three most renowned ancient Turkic inscriptions (Bilge Kaghan, Kol Tigin and Tonyukuk) were discovered in central Mongolia about 120 years ago, experts said.

"Other parts that remain buried in the ground may offer a record of the lives of the individuals commemorated," Osawa said.

"Research on ancient Turkic script has centered on the re-reading of known inscriptions after a Danish linguist deciphered the writing in the late 19th century," said Takao Moriyasu, a professor of Central Asian history at Kinki University. "The latest finds could help unravel new facts."

The history of the Gokturk state started when Yili Kaghan founded the First Turkic Empire in 552.

Political maneuvering by the Sui Dynasty of China split the Gokturk nation into an eastern and a western part, with the East Turkic Empire succumbing to Tang China's rule in 630. The Gokturks regained independence from Tang China to found the Second Turkic Empire in 682, only to be brought down by the Uighurs in 744.

Prehistoric figurine's missing head found

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Researchers from the University of Tübingen have successfully re-attached the newly discovered head of a prehistoric mammoth-ivory figurine discovered in 1931. 
Prehistoric figurine's missing head found
A lion figurine carved from mammoth ivory, now with refitted head. Found at Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany. Approx. 40,000 years old [Credit: H. Jensen. Copyright University of Tübingen]
The head was found during renewed excavations at Vogelherd Cave, site of the original dig in 1931. The recent excavations, between 2005 and 2012, have yielded a number of important finds. 

The discovery of this ivory head helps to complete a figurine which now can be recognized as a lion -- and demonstrates that it is possible to reassemble often fragmentary figurines from the earlier excavation.

The new discovery is presented in the 2013 edition of the journal Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg.

Vogelherd Cave is located in the Lone Valley of southwestern Germany and is by far the richest of the four caves in the region that have produced examples of the earliest figurative art, dating as far back as 40,000 years ago. 

Overall, Vogelherd Cave has yielded more than two dozen figurines and fragments of figurines. 

While the work of fitting together thousands of small fragments of mammoth ivory from Vogelherd is just beginning, the remarkable lion figurine, now with its head, forms an important part of the display of the earliest art at the Museum of the University of Tübingen (MUT) in Hohentübingen Castle.

Professor Nicholas Conard and his excavation assistant Mohsen Zeidi today presented the new discovery and discussed its scientific importance, after which the find rejoined the permanent exhibit at MUT.



Birds and humans have similar brain wiring

Scientific Minds Want To Know
You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realize, according to research. It shows that humans and birds have brains that are wired in a similar way.
Birds and humans have similar brain wiring
You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realise, according
to new research [Credit:  Imperial College London]
A researcher from Imperial College London and his colleagues have developed for the first time a map of a typical bird brain, showing how different regions are connected together to process information. By comparing it to brain diagrams for different mammals such as humans, the team discovered that areas important for high-level cognition such as long-term memory and problem solving are wired up to other regions of the brain in a similar way. This is despite the fact that both mammal and bird brains have been evolving down separate paths over hundreds of millions of years.

The team suggest that evolution has discovered a common blueprint for high-level cognition in brain development.

Birds have been shown in previous studies to possess a range of skills such as a capacity for complex social reasoning, an ability to problem solve and some have even demonstrated the capability to craft and use tools.

Professor Murray Shanahan, author of the study from the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, says: "Birds have been evolving separately from mammals for around 300 million years, so it is hardly surprising that under a microscope the brain of a bird looks quite different from a mammal. Yet, birds have been shown to be remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys. Our study demonstrates that by looking at brains that are least like our own, yet still capable of generating intelligent behaviour, we can determine the basic principles governing the way brains work."

The team developed their map by analysing 34 studies of the anatomy of the pigeon brain, which is typical for a bird. They focussed on areas called 'hub nodes', which are regions of the brain that are major centres for processing information and are important for high level cognition.

In particular, they looked at the hippocampus, which is important for navigation and long-term memory in both birds and mammals. They found that these hub nodes had very dense connections to other parts of the brain in both kinds of animal, suggesting they function in a similar way.

They also compared the prefrontal cortex in mammals, which is important for complex thought such as decision making, with the nidopallium caudolaterale, which has a similar role in birds. They discovered that despite both hub nodes having evolved differently, the way they are wired up within the brain looks similar.

The long-term goal of the team is to use the information generated from the wiring diagram to build computer models that mimic the way that animal brains function, which would be used to control a robot.

The study was published this month in the Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience journal.

Family tree of fish yields surprises

Scientific Minds Want To Know
The mighty tuna is more closely related to the dainty seahorse than to a marlin or sailfish. That is one of the surprises from the first comprehensive family tree, or phylogeny, of the "spiny-rayed fish," a group that includes about a third of all living vertebrate species. The work is published July 15 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Family tree of fish yields surprises
A new study detaisl the evolutionary history of the 18,000 species of spiny-rayed fishes, finding close evolutionary relationships between lineages of fish species and suggesting some fish lineages are experiencing high rates of new species origination [Credit: Patrick Lynch]
The spiny-rayed fish are an incredibly diverse group, including tuna and billfish, tiny gobies and seahorses, and oddities such as pufferfish and anglerfish. The fish occupy every aquatic environment from coral reefs and open oceans to lakes and ponds. It includes all the major commercially fished species -- all of which are threatened. But until now, no one has had any idea exactly how more than 18,000 species in 650 families are related to each other, said Peter Wainwright, professor and chair of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis and senior author on the paper.

"There has been a 'bush' at the top of the family tree leading to the rest of the vertebrates," Wainwright said. "Now we have this beautiful phylogeny of one-third of all vertebrates."

The study also shows that after roaring along for their first 100 million years, the pace of evolution of the spiny-rayed fish downshifted about 50 million years ago.

Some groups of fish have gone along steadily for millennia; others have gone through bursts of rapid evolution. Overall, the researchers found that the rate at which new species formed was fairly constant across the group from their origin to about 50 million years ago, then dropped about five-fold and has remained at that level since.

That might mean that these fish have essentially filled the available spaces, Wainwright said.

"It's not uncommon in evolution to see a rapid diversification followed by a slowdown, but it's never been seen on such a scale before," he said.

Wainwright's laboratory worked with the lab of Tom Near, a former postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis now at Yale University, and colleagues at the University of Tennessee, The Field Museum in Chicago, Florida Atlantic University and CUNY Staten Island to construct the family tree. Matt Friedman, a paleontologist at the University of Oxford, England, added fossils that helped set dates for branches of the tree.

The researchers looked at 10 genes in more than 500 fish species representing most of the families of spiny-rayed fish. They used the genetic data to construct a tree, grouping related families together. They also looked at the pace of evolution -- the rate at which new species formed -- in different branches, and across the group as a whole.

The spiny-rayed fish originated about 150 million years ago, separating from more primitive fish, such as lampreys, sharks and sturgeon, and from the ancestors of salmon and trout. Since then, they have spread into every aquatic habitat on Earth.

The tree shows some interesting relationships. For example, tuna are more closely related to seahorses than to swordfish or barracuda. The oddly shaped pufferfishes are related to anglerfish, the only fishes whose bodies are wider than they are deep.

Cichlids, a family that includes about 2,000 species of freshwater fish known for brooding their young in their mouths and a favorite for studies of evolution, are related to the engineer gobies, an obscure family of just two species that live on coral reefs and raise their young in a nest.

Wainwright's special interest is in the evolution of fish jaws. Fish have two sets of jawbones, an outer jaw and "pharyngeal jaws" in the throat that adapted to different functions. In some fish, the lower pharyngeal jaw is fused into a single solid bone that can be used to crush prey such as shellfish.

Biologists had assumed that this fused jaw had evolved once and then spread into different groups of fish. Instead, the new tree shows that this structure evolved at least six times in different groups of fish.

Additional collaborators on the project were: Samantha Price at UC Davis; Alex Dornburg, Ron Eytan and Kristen Kuhn at Yale University; Leo Smith at the Field Museum; Jon Moore, Florida Atlantic University; and Frank Burbrink, College of Staten Island/CUNY, Staten Island. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.