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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

19 Germanicus, the best loved of Roman princes, dies of poisoning. On his deathbed he accuses Piso, the governor of Syria, of poisoning him.
732 At Tours, France, Charles Martel kills Abd el-Rahman and halts the Muslim invasion of Europe.
1733 France declares war on Austria over the question of Polish succession.
1789 In Versailles France, Joseph Guillotin says the most humane way of carrying out a death sentence is decapitation by a single blow of a blade.
1794 Russian General Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov crushes the rebel Polish army at Maciejowice, Poland.
1845 The U.S. Naval Academy is founded at Annapolis, Md.
1863 The first telegraph line to Denver is completed.
1877 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer is buried at West Point in New York.
1911 Revolution in China begins with a bomb explosion and the discovery of revolutionary headquarters in Hankow. The revolutionary movement spread rapidly through west and southern China, forcing the abdication of the last Ch'ing emperor, six-year-old Henry Pu-Yi. By October 26, the Chinese Republic will be proclaimed, and on December 4, Premier Yuan Shih-K'ai will sign a truce with rebel general Li Yuan-hung.
1911 The Panama Canal opens.
1933 At Rio de Janeiro, nations of the Western Hemisphere sign a non-aggression and conciliation treaty. President Roosevelt adopts a "good neighbor" policy toward Latin America and announces a policy of nonintervention in Latin American affairs at the December 7th International American Conference at Montevideo, Uruguay.
1941 Soviet troops halt the German advance on Moscow.
1953 The Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and South Korea signed.
1966 U.S. Forces launch Operation Robin, in Hoa Province south of Saigon in South Vietnam, to provide road security between villages.
1970 The Quebec Provincial Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte, is kidnapped by terrorists.
1971 The London Bridge, built in 1831 and dismantled in 1967, reopens in Lake Havusu City, Arizona, after being sold to Robert P. McCulloch and moved to the United States.
1973 Spiro Agnew resigns the vice presidency amid accusations of income tax evasion. President Richard Nixon names Gerald Ford as the new vice president. Agnew is later convicted and sentenced to three years probation and fined $10,000.
1985 An Egyptian plane carrying hijackers of the Achille Lauro cruise ship is intercepted by US Navy F-14s and forced to land at a NATO base in Sicily.
2008 Orakzai bombing, Afghanistan: members of the Taliban drive an explosive-laden truck into a meeting of 600 people discussing ways to rid their area of the Taliban; the bomb kills 110.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

About the Koch bros.' war against Obama

That racist, wingnut, sheriff Arpaio will now be overseen by a federal monitor

Left-Leaning American Majority Sees Views Consistently Ignored

The mistakes legislators make tend to fall in one direction, giving U.S. politics a rightward tilt compared to what most voters say they want…
Wingnuts speak often of their outrage over what they perceive as godlessness and immorality. But it is liberal-thinking Americans who should be outraged. The repugicans have long claimed that America is right-leaning; they tout the numbers of self-identifying wingnuts over liberals. But what they ignore is that many wingnuts are socially liberal. They ignore the catholics who in defiance of the cult, embrace contraception. Liberal-thinking Americans see their views consistently ignored in Washington and by the mainstream media.
In 2009, Brookings Institution’s senior fellow Pietro Nivola looked at the question of a right or left-leaning America and opined that,
The contents of platforms are but partial indicators of partisan positioning, of course, which is a multi-dimensional, dynamic process. Depending on the circumstances, political parties may gravitate toward their bases, or, in due course, drift away from them. Either party, or both, could retreat or depart from the markers they’ve laid down so far. A lot of factors influence such adjustments, not least the perceived success or failure of policies championed by the party in power, and the receptivity of the general electorate.
The receptivity of the general electorate. But what if the perception of this receptivity was skewed?
In September of this year, Democracy published an article by David Broockman & Christopher Skovron titled Politicians Think Voters Are More wingnut than They Really Are, examining the question of whether or not candidates champion the priorities of people in their districts.
They asked candidates “to estimate the percentage of the people in their districts who would agree that:”
  • same-sex marriage should be legal
  • the federal government should implement a universal healthcare program
  • all federal welfare programs should be abolished
They compared their list of questions to a large national survey and “found major disconnects between voters and their would-be elected representatives.”
When we compare what legislators believe their constituents want to their constituents’ actual views, we discover that politicians hold remarkably inaccurate perceptions. Pick an American state legislator at random, and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket issues, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points.
This might be thought bad enough but the authors found that “the mistakes legislators make tend to fall in one direction, giving U.S. politics a rightward tilt compared to what most voters say they want. ”
The authors found,
  • The typical wingnut legislator overestimates his or her district’s wingnuttery by a whopping 20 percentage points. Indeed, he or she believes the district is even more conservative than the most right-leaning district in the entire country.
  • Liberals also think their constituents’ views are more wingnut than they really are, but are typically only off by about five percentage points.
  • Most wingnut legislators believe their positions on same-sex marriage and health care command majority support in their districts—but only two-fifths are correct. In contrast, liberal legislators usually share views with constituents, but one in five does not know it.
Much remains to be learned about why U.S. legislators think constituents are more conservative than they truly are, but researchers have found that politically active citizens tend to be wealthier and more conservative than others. Politicians who want to represent all the people in their districts need to keep this in mind.
Of course, this presumes that politicians WANT to have an accurate view of their constituents’ views. I think this is hopelessly optimistic. These politicians do not operate in a vacuum. The big players around politicians are right-leaning, from corporations to foundations and think tanks, from religious organizations like the unAmerican anti-Family Association and anti- Family Research Council to corporate-funded tea party organizations. These groups are all clamoring not only for right-leaning positions but lunatic fringe leaning positions. And it is their money that is flooding these politicians’ coffers.
The authors write that “some research suggests that public opinion can influence what politicians do” and this may well be true. But letters and petitions carry less weight than corporate dollars and fear of the extremists who now make up their base.
Pietro Nivola observed that figuring out what the public wants can be a tricky process. “The devil is in the details,” he writes – that much depends on how you ask the questions – and “Public opinion can “be notoriously fickle or unstable.”
True enough. But polls do generally show a left-leaning America, particularly on social issues, but also on the question of war and environment. We are also now well aware of the strength of preconceived notions and the conservative tendency to shrug off any input that violates their precons.
All the petitions in the world will not break the tea party/religious extremist/corporate stranglehold on our government. These groups have money and they have a vested interest in forcing their views on Americans. In the face of poll after poll to the contrary, they insist they are only doing what Americans want.
Each day we see how these wingnut politicians further convince themselves that not only are they doing the right thing by their constituents, but they are winning. We have learned through hard experience never to downplay the influence of cognitive dissonance.
Or the power of a mainstream media that is far from the wingnut Shibboleth of a “liberal media elite” but rather a corporate media that has consistently taken the repugican side. So pronounced is this bias that in the rare cases the mainstream media finds some objectivity – as in Romney’s run for president – wingnuts accused the media of plotting to give Democrats the victory. Compare media portrayals of the Occupy Movement as compared to the tea party terrorists.
Liberal-thinking Americans – and this includes socially liberal wingnuts – must struggle to have their voices heard in the face of political and media establishments determined to ignore them and corporate and religious establishments determined to delegitimize them. The trick lies first in realizing we have this power and second, in actualize it in the face of this resistance.

Bernie Sanders Terrifies the Koch Brothers By Outting Their Role In the Government Shutdown

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is standing up the Koch brothers attempted takeover of the United States government by outing the conservative billionaires’ role in causing the government shutdown.
Sen. Sanders put the blame for the government shutdown square on the Koch Brothers, “Let’s not kid ourselves. This shutdown is not something that just came about a couple of weeks ago through Ted Cruz. This has been planned by the Koch brothers and other very, very wealthy people from the day after Obama was reelected, and what their feeling is. Let us go to the extreme. Let us be prepared to shutdown the government, not pay the national debt. Let us use every ounce of leverage that we have. Even if it means catastrophic pain for America and the world, so long as we get our way.”
Later Sanders discussed the Koch brothers’ agenda, “If you look at what the Koch brothers agenda is. Look at what many of the extreme right wing people believe. Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage. They want to privatize the Veterans Administration. They want to privatize Social Security, end Medicare as we know it, massive cuts in Medicaid, wipe out the EPA. You don’t have an Environmental Protection Agency anymore. Department of Energy, gone. Department of Education, gone. That is their agenda, and many people don’t understand it. Koch brothers have poured hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into the tea party, and to all other kinds of ancillary organizations to push this agenda. So what you are finding now is a continuation of the class warfare that as been going on this country for the last many years. The rich are getting richer. Poverty, number of people in poverty all time high. Middle class disappearing, and these guys using Citizens United and other forms are now banging away and doing everything they can to get more tax breaks for the people on top, and devastating cuts for working families.”
The Koch brothers don’t like the kind of attention that Bernie Sanders brings to them. They want to operate behind closed doors. The Koch brothers know that their agenda is doomed if the American people understand what they are trying to accomplish. Charles and David Koch are happy to let their repugican stooges like John Boehner and Ted Cruz take the fall for them. As long as they are willing to spend the money, repugican politicians are disposable goods.
The Koch Brothers are the real power behind the government shutdown.
The point that Sen. Sanders made can’t be expressed often enough. The real ideology and agenda behind the government shutdown belongs to the Koch brothers. The Koch boys hate Obamacare because they don’t want the working and middle class people to have the same access to healthcare that they do. They are opposed to anything that empowers working class individuals, because are seeking a new Gilded Age where the employer controls the lives of their employees.
Sen. Sanders is one of the few members of congress that is willing to stand up and tell the Koch brothers no. Bernie Sanders is also doing something that is very important. He is pulling back the curtain and showing America who is really running the Republican show.
At heart, the Koch brothers are cowards who hide behind Citizens United in order to anonymously advance their agenda. A senator like Bernie Sanders scares the Koch Brothers. He ignores their money and rallies the masses to join the fight. If the American people are ever going to get their government back from the conservative money men, they are going to have to send more people like Bernie Sanders to the House and Senate.



What the repugicans Don’t Want You To Know About Healthcare And Prosperity

The repugicans don't want you to know this, but that there are ways to provide ordinary citizens with healthcare and prosper while doing it. …

For the unaware ...

From Hostage Takers to Buffoons

House repugican Ineptitude Heads for Default…
Even a short term debt ceiling agreement is up in the air now. Not the actual debt ceiling limit, but a short term agreement. We can’t even do that now, if Robert Costa’s readings are accurate.
Costa tweeted, “One of my best House r sources thinks Boehner may, just may, be able to get votes for short-term DL ext, but even that is up in air”
Robert Costa just published a detailed breakdown at the National Review, in which he writes that many House wingnuts are unlikely to support any debt ceiling “deal”.
“They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard,” Representative Scott Garrett (r-NJ) told Costa. “If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”
They must get something more than everything they want, in order to stop destroying America. Got it?
We had an indication this was coming. “You’re seeing the tremor before the tsunami here,” Ted Yoho (r-FL) said a few days ago, swearing, “I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling.” So there. Neener neener, economy!
It is indeed the House of Indecision, as Costa quoted a repugican aide saying in a separate article.
“It’s the House of indecision,” says a weary repugican aide familiar with the talks. “We don’t have the votes for a big deal, small deal, or short-term deal.”
Of course, that’s not true. Boehner does have the votes, unless he’s still pretending that the Hastert Rule is a real thing, and it’s not. It’s only real as far as his career goes, so while we can understand that Boehner is choosing to let the country implode in order to save his own skin, it’s becoming harder and harder to justify.
Unless, of course, they’re not dealing with reality. To wit, Senator Richard Burr (r-NC) is pretending that not raising the debt ceiling is no biggie:
This opinion places Burr in opposition to actual experts on the economy, but hey. Whatevs.
As the Maddow Blog pointed out in late September, Burr wasn’t always this extreme. He once called the idea of shutting down the government over ObamaCare “dumbest idea” he’d ever heard.
“I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of,” Burr said at the time. “Listen, as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law.”
And who can forget repugican Representative Dennis Ross of Florida admitting that this entire debacle is all about wounded repugican pride. Seriously.
If you’re wondering how repugicans can be so out of it when the polls keep instructing them otherwise (as if the ONLY issue here is their own political survival, forget the people or this country), perhaps this level of utter cluelessness will be informative. When asked if the repugicans have their next move mapped out and if Boehner has any legislation drawn up regarding the debt ceiling, “Negatory,” Representative Pete Sessions replies. You see, it’s all about “messaging”. “We’re going to keep with our great, positive attitude and tell the president, ‘you’ve got to sit down and negotiate.’”
So, their great positive attitude involves tanking the economy and shutting down the government because they lost an election. Huh. Also: Only in repugican world is holding a gun to the country’s head before being willing to “talk” an act of good faith.
The repugicans don’t understand this president very well at all, but then, we tend to project our own values onto others so this is understandable. They never should have threatened the country. They could have threatened anything but the American people and the democratic process, and this President wouldn’t have felt compelled to take a stand.
But they don’t know who Barack Obama is, and they don’t even know what they want. They certainly don’t know how to get what they want, unless losing 2014 has been their secret goal.
The repugicans shutdown the government and they can’t sort out how to pass the CR that was funded at levels they requested. Now they can’t figure out how to pass a short term agreement to raise the debt ceiling in order to pay for the bills they themselves approved.
The repugicans are obviously incapable of governing.

The truth be told


Boehner’s Bad Math: 195 Democrats + 22 repugicans Doesn’t Equal Magic 217

There are now at least 22 repugicans who support a clean CR, but Speaker John Boehner keeps refused to put it up for a vote, claiming he doesn't… boehnerbooze
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) keeps saying that he doesn’t have the votes to pass the “clean CR” that passed the Senate. Boehner refuses to prove that he doesn’t have the votes by putting it up for a vote.
There are now at least 22 repugicans (and a lot more if they’d make it a secret vote) who are willing to end this shutdown by voting for the clean CR, according to Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post. Her count:
The number of those repugicans hit 22 (a soft 23, including Rep. Rodney Davis) — surpassing the magic 17 votes needed to pass a clean funding bill if all 200 Democrats stick together and team up with them.
There are 195 Democrats who would vote for the CR (200 excluding five non-voting delegates) that is set at repugican spending levels, because Democrats are putting their country first. (Note: I don’t agree with this clean CR business, since it was set at repugican levels and the American people didn’t vote for that, but we’re ten steps down the hostage plank at this point.)
Someone needs to tell John Boehner that 195 plus 22 equals 217. Even in repugican Math.
Let’s recall that this all started because repugicans claimed that ObamaCare was destroying the economy. They never provided any proof of that claim. The CBO has repeatedly said that ObamaCare lowers the deficit, and repugican claims about ObamaCare creating a part-time economy were also discredited. If these things were really true, repugicans would let Democrats fall flat on their ObamaCare faces. Of course, the real problem is that Americans want their ObamaCare. The real problem is that once again, Democrats came up with a way to help average Americans and that makes repugicans look bad.
But really, none of this is even relevant because it doesn’t matter why repugicans object to ObamaCare.
The repugicans don’t get to hold the economy hostage because they are out of power and they disagree with policy being set by the party that won power per the democratic process. The repugicans have placed themselves in opposition to the country’s best welfare. They have made their position the party that will crater the economy unless it gets concessions. Logically this places them against the country – Democrats must entice them to keep them from destroying the country. This is not a good bumper sticker for 2014.
Cartoonists are already noting that repugicans have managed to do what Al-Qaeda couldn’t. At some point, it loses its cuteness, if it ever had any. If only the Democrats had a missile like Sarah Palin, they’d be accusing repugicans of working for terrorists.
The repugicans are claiming they “stumbled” into this shutdown, but it was planned by wingnut groups as soon as Obama’s second term started.
The repugicans aren’t good at math. We know this. But can’t someone get Speaker Boehner a calculator?

Obama Dares Boehner to Prove That He Doesn’t Have The Votes to Open the Government

President Obama is calling John Boehner’s bluff and daring him to prove that he doesn’t have the votes to reopen the government through a House vote on a clean CR.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The President said, “The truth of the matter is that there are enough Democratic and repugican votes in the House of Representatives right now to end the shutdown immediately with no partisan strings attached. The House should hold that vote today. If repugicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes then they should prove it. Let the bill go to the floor, and let’s see what happens. Just vote. Let every member of Congress vote their conscience, and they can determine whether or not they want to shut the government down. My suspicion, my very strong suspicion is that there are enough votes there, and the reason that Speaker Boehner hasn’t called a vote on it is because he doesn’t apparently want to see the government shutdown end.”
John Boehner made a colossal blunder when he went on national television yesterday, and lied his tan off about the House not having the votes necessary to reopen the government. House repugicans have been coming out of the woodwork for days, and telling the country they would be willing to vote for a clean CR. Everybody knows that the votes are there for passage. The only thing stopping the government from reopening is John Boehner’s refusal to allow a vote.
There is one question that Speaker Boehner can’t answer. If House repugicans are willing to vote in favor of reopening individual parts of the government, why won’t they allow a vote on the Senate passed bill that would open the whole government? Everytime that this question is asked the repugicans duck and dodge, and try to change the subject to the bills that they have passed, but they refuse to talk about the one that they will not allow a vote on.
When Boehner blatantly lied yesterday about the House’s ability to pass a clean CR, he opened the door for President Obama to issue a challenge that the Speaker will never accept. Obama and the Democrats aren’t just winning the political argument. The Democrats are exposing to the world the fact that House repugicans are unfit to govern.
John Boehner is outmatched, outwitted, and he has had his bluff called by President Obama.

That Works


Blame Obama Backfires as Disapproval of repugican Shutdown Tactics Surges to 70%

The repugican plan to blame Obama for the government shutdown is completely backfiring as the new ABC/Washington Poll poll shows disapproval of the repugican cabal's shutdown tactics has surged…

Poll of Congressional Races Shows That Michigan Has Grown Weary of repugicans

The latest PPP poll on Congressional races reveals that the repugican cabal has fallen into serious disfavor in the state of Michigan.…
The Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released this week of two dozen competitive House districts reveals the tremendous risk repugicans face by shutting down the government. In the 24 districts that were polled repugican incumbent trail a generic Democrat in 17 of the races.  In 16 of those 17 races the incumbent repugican House member has a negative approval rating as well.  Much attention has focused on the electoral peril these repugicans face, but a closer look at the numbers reveals something else as well. The repugican cabal has fallen into serious disfavor in the state of Michigan. Whether it is national repugicans, or Rick Snyder’s dictatorial tendencies as Governor of the state, it is clear that the repugican cabal’s grip on power in the Wolverine State is slipping away, because of their unpopular policies.
Among the seventeen most embattled repugican incumbents in the US House, the two most vulnerable members (Dan Benishek and Kerry Bentovolio) are from Michigan as is Tim Walberg who is also in the top five in terms of electoral vulnerability. While it is possible to note that most of the seventeen repugican incumbents in jeopardy are in toss up races, that is not the case for the Michigan trio. These guys are in deep, deep trouble. Dan Benishek, who represents the First District, which includes the Upper Peninsula, has a dismal 33 percent approval rating from his constituents with 54 percent disapproving of his job performance in the US House. In a head to head matchup against a generic Democrat he would get shellacked by a gaudy 56-35 margin if an election were held today.
Downstate, Tim Walberg, does not fare much better. His popularity is also mired at 33 percent approval with 46 percent of his constituents disapproving of his job performance. In a match up against a Democrat he would get pummeled 49-41. His prospects are not quite as bleak as Benishek’s but he still faces the possibility of a double digit repudiation at the polls.
Suburban Detroit’s Kerry Bentivolio may be in the worst shape of all among members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation. His approval rating is a dismal 28 percent with nearly twice as many (55 percent) of his constituents disapproving of his job performance. The ill-mannered, hot-tempered tea party firebrand may have to go back to being a reindeer rancher after the 2014 election, because he trails a generic Democrat 53-37.
The Michigan repugican delegation has clearly worn out its welcome, and while these seats are especially in jeopardy, they may not be the only repugican-held House seats in Michigan that are in play. Justin Amash (3rd District), Dave Camp (4th District), Fred Upton (6th District) and Mike Rogers (8th District) can perhaps take solace in knowing that their constituents were not polled, but since each lives in a reasonably competitive district they may have reason to worry as well. Even Bill Huizenga (2nd District) and Candice Miller (10th District) might have to break a sweat in 2014, meaning all nine repugican held House seats could be at least marginally competitive. The state’s 9 to 5 repugican House majority was achieved through partisan gerrymandering, but the repugican cabal overplayed their hand so poorly that Democrats could threaten to run the table in 2014. They probably will not topple every repugican Representative from the state, but Benishek, Bentivolio and Walberg, at the very least, are close to being doomed. Democrats just need to seize the moment and run them out of the Michigan House delegation before they can do too much more damage. For residents of the Wolverine State 2014 cannot come soon enough.

Daily Comic Relief


Burglar caught by cucumber

A burglar was caught by police after having a bite out of a cucumber. Billy Joe Donnelly, 22, was peckish when he raided a greenhouse down a country lane. During the raid, however, he couldn't resist sampling the home-grown produce and his DNA was later discovered on a cucumber.

The honorary Recorder of Hull and the East Riding, Judge Michael Mettyear, declared in disbelief: "He was caught by a cucumber." Donnelly, of Bransholme, Kingston upon Hull, ate a variety of produce and then burgled the home of the owners on August 21. Prosecutor Jharna Jobes said: "The owner was going to sell the items he was growing in the greenhouse, but someone had been in there and eaten most of the vegetables and a cucumber. A cucumber was found with his DNA on it.
"The occupants were in bed asleep at the time and there must have been some planning involved in this." Donnelly then broke into the house next to the greenhouse in the village of Preston by breaking a window. Donnelly ransacked the house, stealing treasured possessions including a retirement watch the homeowner had been given when he retired. His wife woke to discover her car was also missing.

In a victim impact statement, the couple said they now felt they needed to sell their home of more than 20 years because they no longer felt safe after what Donnelly had done. Judge Mettyear jailed Donnelly, who has previous convictions for a burglary and shop thefts, for two and a half years.

Husband-to-be made bomb hoax call after failing to book wedding venue

An embarrassed Liverpool groom triggered a bomb scare at his wedding so his bride-to-be would not find out he had bungled the booking. Panicked Neil McArdle telephoned St George’s Hall to pretend an explosive had been left in the building where he was due to marry. He even let his unwitting fiance turn up in her wedding dress, only to find the venue evacuated and swarming with police. The 36-year-old now faces a jail sentence after admitting making the bomb hoax call.
McArdle, of Kirkby, had planned to marry his fiance Amy Williams at Liverpool Register Office, within the building, on April 24 this year. The date was penciled in and the pair were given “right to marry” paperwork to complete in order to legalize proceedings. But by time the big day arrived, the McArdle realized he had not completed the forms and knew the venue was not officially booked. Panicking, he went to a phone booth near his home on the morning of the supposed wedding and rang St George’s Hall. He told the receptionist: “There’s a bomb in St George’s Hall and it will go off in 45 minutes”, before putting the phone down.
The hall was immediately put on lockdown and dozens of people inside were evacuated as police and a bomb disposal unit were sent to the scene. The bride and her wedding party arrived at the hall still believing the wedding would take place. When the hall was re-opened around an hour later, with the groom present, it emerged there was no booking in the name of McArdle and Williams. A source said: “He realized that he hadn’t filled this form in. But he hadn’t got the heart to tell his missus and her family. The whole wedding party turned up to this bomb scare and then they found out there was no actual booking.”

Enquiries led to McArdle being arrested and subsequently charged later that day with making a bomb hoax. It is understood the husband-to-be made full and frank admissions to police, admitting he sparked the hoax in a bid to postpone the wedding and buy himself more time. McArdle, who appeared in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court last week for a brief appearance, admitted a single charge of communicating false information with intent. He will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court later this month.

Female Assassins And Their Intended Victims

History shows us that the vast majority of assassins are male. Every now and again, though, the fairer sex let the side down (or not, depending on your perspective).

However, there is a lamentably short list of female assassins in the annals of history and - more often than not - they fail to kill their intended target. Perhaps that is nothing to be ashamed of, after all. Here, though, are 10 of history's female assassins and their intended victims.

Surprising Facts About Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system.

A new statue of Nikola Tesla now graces New York's Long Island, the latest homage to the celebrated visionary. The statue was unveiled last week by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic. Here are 5 surprising facts about Nikola Tesla.

A Dozen Surreal Landscapes Found On Earth

These bizarre locations may seem like a series of elaborate movie sets, but they are real destinations that you might want to see for yourself.

Elemental Iceland

A stunning timelapse short by Norwegian photographer Stian Rekdal shot in Iceland in September of 2013.

Elemental Iceland
from Stian Rekdal on Vimeo.
Vimeo link

The Origins Of River Names

Because early peoples depended on rivers for survival, they were among the first geological features to receive official names. Many of the origins are so old, in fact, that they're lost to history. Here are some of the origins of river names that we do know.

Random Photos


The Pygmy Goat

Not So Gruff

Who is the gruff looking buck above? There is something familiar about him but this is no standard goat, no sir. This is the pygmy version and it is a cousin of the variety we generally picture when the animal comes up in conversation. Welcome to the world of the pygmy goat.

Canelo The Howler Monkey

Howler monkeys are among the largest of the New World monkeys. These monkeys are native to South and Central American forests. Howler monkeys are famous for their loud howls, which can travel three miles through dense forest. Canelo, the biggest howler monkey in La Senda Verde Animal Refuge in Bolivia showing his power.

Growing taste for crocodile meat in Jamaica worries conservationists

A growing taste for crocodile meat and even eggs in Jamaica has conservationists worried that the reptiles might be wiped from the wild altogether, although they've been protected by law since 1971. Experts believe the reptiles may be reaching a tipping point in economically struggling Jamaica. A recent newsletter from the Crocodile Specialist Group, a global network involved in conservation, said the situation appears dire on the island as the impact of habitat loss deepens with a "new demand for crocodile meat, both for personal consumption and for local market distribution."

The poaching problem has become so bad in Jamaica that a passionate reptile enthusiast, Lawrence Henriques, has set up a crocodile sanctuary and captive rearing program just outside a tiny northern mountain town called Cascade, far from the animals' southern habitat, as insurance against future loss. He also hopes to educate islanders who revile them or want to barbecue them. Crocodile meat appears to be a specialty high-end business in Jamaica, with wealthy private buyers willing to pay as much as $35 per pound.
Some of the meat stays in rural towns along the reptiles' brackish habitat, with secret crocodile-eating parties drawing men who insist it enhances sexual virility. "It's totally underground and people keep it very hush-hush," said Sharlene Rowe, a conservation officer with the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation who has seen two carcasses with tails chopped off floating down the Salt River in southern Clarendon parish.

The animals mostly live among tangled mangrove roots in places such as the Black River, which snakes through a marshland known as the Great Morass. "I went from never hearing about anyone eating crocodile meat, much less crocodile eggs, to hearing about it all the time. There's just so much carnage going on," said Byron Wilson, a reptile specialist at Jamaica's University of the West Indies. Reptile experts say it's far from clear why poaching is now on the rise. Some suggest the demand has grown due to a rising population of Chinese immigrants, who reportedly eat the reptiles. Others say cable TV food shows may be boosting a local demand for exotic meat.

Couple say Gladys the nappy-wearing goose makes great house pet

Many people have unusual pets, but the Westcott family of Layton, Utah, have a pet goose named Gladys. Kevin and Diane Westcott say geese make great pets. “We started keeping geese back in 2003, and with our first set of geese that we got, one of the goslings started to go lame on us, and we had never kept geese before, so we started doing some research and we found this website for the Goose Mother,” Diane said.

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