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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.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Daily Drift

Don't stand by while the repugicans destroy the United States!

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Chess anyone ... ?!

Today is National Chess Day 


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Today in History

54 Nero succeeds his great uncle Claudius, who was murdered by his wife, as the new emperor of Rome.
1307 Members of the Knights of Templar are arrested throughout France, imprisoned and tortured by the order of King Philip the Fair of France.
1399 Henry IV of England is crowned.
1670 Virginia passes a law that blacks arriving in the colonies as Christians cannot be used as slaves.
1775 The Continental Congress authorizes construction of two warships, thus instituting an American naval force.
1776 Benedict Arnold is defeated at Lake Champlain.
1792 President George Washington lays the cornerstone for the White House.
1812 At the Battle of Queenston Heights, a Canadian and British army defeats the American who have tried to invade Canada.
1849 The California state constitution, which prohibits slavery, is signed in Monterey.
1903 Boston defeats Pittsburgh in baseball's first World Series.
1904 Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams is published.
1942 In the first of four attacks, two Japanese battleships sail down the slot and shell Henderson field on Guadalcanal, in an unsuccessful effort to destroy the American Cactus Air Force.
1943 Italy declares war on Germany.
1944 Troops of the advancing Soviet Army occupy Riga, capital of Latvia.
1946 The Fourth Republic begins in France; will continue to 1958.
1958 First appearance of Paddington Bear, now a beloved icon of children's literature.
1967 First game of the fledgling American Basketball Association; Oakland Oaks beat Anaheim Amigos 134-129 in Oakland, Cal.
1972 Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashes in the Andes Mountains, near the Argentina-Chile border; only 16 survivors (out of 45 people aboard) are rescued on Dec. 23.
1976 Dr. F.A. Murphy at Center for Disease Control obtains the first electron micrograph of an Ebola viral particle.
1983 The Space Shuttle Challenger, carrying seven, the largest crew to date, lands safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
1990 The Lebanese Civil War ends when a Syrian attack removes Gen. Michel Aoun from power.
2010 After being underground for a record 69 days, all 33 miners trapped in a Copiapo, Chile, mine are rescued.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That banks are still discriminating against minorities in the foreclosure crisis

That the NYC opera is to file for bankruptcy

About this new technique to save threatened sea-grass meadows

And RIP astronaut Scott Carpenter

Koch Brothers Abandon tea party Government Shutdown Strategy

Koch Brothers Letter To Congress Government Shutdown Strategy
The Koch Brothers are crying uncle. They have abandoned the tea party government shutdown strategy. In fact they make the claim in their letter (the entire letter can be found below) that,
Koch has not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding ObamaCare nor have we lobbied on legislative provisions defunding ObamaCare.
The Koch Brothers may want America to believe that. The statement is not accurate. On February 14th, 2013 Matte Kibbe of FreedomWorks sent out a letter. The letter titled “Coalition Letter: Congress Must Honor Sequester Savings and Defund ObamaCare Before It Is Too Late” said that,
Wingnuts should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare.  This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty. [Source]
In other words they supported a government shutdown strategy. Why did they think a government shutdown strategy was necessary? They noted what every supporter of Obamacare knows.
On October 1, 2013, open enrollment begins for the federally backed health care exchanges. On January 1, 2014, new money from Washington will begin flowing to states and individuals, all but ensuring that these new entitlements will become a permanent fixture of life in America. The window of opportunity to stop the implementation of these massive new subsidies is closing. Although many of Obamacare’s provisions are now the law of the land, many of the law’s most damaging and irreversible provisions do not take effect until 2014. [Source]
FreedomWorks is one of the many organizations that are funded by the Koch Brothers. The Kochs are part responsible for this tea party government shutdown strategy. There is no doubt about it.
It is clear from the letter that the Koch Brothers were shaken. They want to us to ignore the New York Times article. They want to dispel Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s implicating them in the shutdown.
It is evident that the shutdown has become a train wreck for the tea party. By implication it could damage the reputation of the Koch Brothers with their own base, the lunatic fringe of the repugican cabal. They get little benefit from being associated with of Michele Bachmann (r-MN), Steve King (r-IA), and the other sophomoric architects of the government shutdown strategy.
How will the tea party react to this letter? Will they now allow John Boehner to bring the CR to the floor? It seems like they must find a way out since their chief sponsor is no longer on board. This may be the week when they bow out. This may be the week sanity returns.

Government Shutdown Strategy Abandoned?

Koch Brothers Letter To Congress Government Shutdown Strategy

The Ten Most Expensive Vehicles To Operate

You might think your Hummer costs a lot to drive, but it's small potatoes compared to the world's top ten! Jalopnik assembled a list of the ten most expensive vehicles to operate, ranked by cost per mile. There are quite a few factors that go into that figure.
For example, the Queen Mary II cruise ship costs $245 per mile, but if you divide that by the number of passengers it carries, it's actually pretty cheap transportation (so many passengers is also the reason I don't care to go on a cruise). The NASA crawler that moved the space shuttle to and from the launch pad is very expensive because it traveled a very short distance with an extremely heavy cargo -it gets 42 feet per gallon. An aircraft carrier has decent fuel usage, but they are expensive to build and it takes a lot of personnel to operate it.
Try to guess what other vehicles would be on the list, and how they would rank, before you go see the list at Jalopnik. Hint: there is only one street-legal car on the list.

Highest-Paid Athlete Hailed From Ancient Rome

Ultra millionaire sponsorship deals such as those signed by sprinter Usain Bolt and tennis player Maria Sharapova are just peanuts compared to the personal fortune amassed by a second century A.D. Roman racer.

An illiterate charioteer named Gaius Appuleius Diocles earned the staggering sum of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money. By today's standards that would be about $15 billion. Diocles was born in Lusitania, in what is now Portugal and south-west Spain, and started his spectacular career in 122 A.D., when he was 18. Records show that he won 1,462 out of the 4,257 four-horse races he competed in.

Animated Maps

War Between The States Battles In Action

The War between The States Trust's collection of animated maps bring battles of the American War Between The States to life, complete with troop movement animations, narratives, video, and more. There are animated maps of the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chickamauga.

Sisters stole wreaths from gravesides to sell on to other grieving families

Two Liverpool sisters who stole funeral wreaths to sell on for profit have been warned they could face jail. Marion Hill and Lyndsay Millett admitted taking tributes which had been left by family members at the funeral of an Anfield pensioner, after CCTV showed them in the act. The sisters had claimed they were taking the flowers from Springwood crematorium to put on their mum’s grave at nearby Allerton cemetery. But police who searched chef Hill’s home in Almeda Road, Speke found it was packed with blank condolence cards, wreath stands and what Liverpool magistrates were told was “wreath-making paraphernalia.”
They also discovered seven wreaths, including one bearing the word ‘DAD’, and a Winnie the Pooh photo album packed with various pictures of floral tribute arrangements was found. Among the haul were two wreaths, forming the words ‘MUM’ and ‘NAN’, which had been taken from outside the crematorium on the evening of May 7. Both tributes had been left by mourners at the funeral earlier that day of Bridget Jannet. Mrs Jannet’s son Chris, who attended yesterday’s hearing, said he had been devastated when he discovered the two wreaths, covered in blue and white flowers, as well as a bunch of roses, had gone. Mr Jannet, from Anfield, added: “This incident has left me shocked to the core to think somebody could commit such a callous act.”
Andrew Hodgson, prosecuting, told magistrates it was clear from the evidence police had found at the home of Hill, 41, that she was running a “commercial venture”. The court was told that when Hill was initially arrested, she told police “I’m admitting it.” Later she and sister Millett, 37, of Critchley Road, Speke, maintained the flowers were intended to go on their late mother’s grave. CCTV showed the pair arriving at the crematorium in a black Land Rover which had been hired by grandmother Hill, who was seen to run out, pick up the wreaths and stashed them in the back. She told the court she had hired the car for two days as a ‘pick-me-up’ after working long hours.

Mr Hodgson said: “What about if you hired it for picking things up, going round crematoria and cemeteries and picking things up and putting them in the back?” The court was told the two wreaths stolen had cost £90 each. Mr Hodgson said: “A reasonable sum of money can be made in this business, particularly if you are stealing the items that you are selling on.” Leanne Kennedy, defending, said the sisters claimed many of the items used for making wreaths had been left to them by their aunt, who the court was told had been keen on art. Chair of the magistrates Dennis Brant said the prosecution case was “overwhelming.” He said all sentencing options, including jail, were open. They were granted unconditional bail, and the case was adjourned until October 30.

Inflatable banana thieves caught on CCTV

The owner of a health spa that had its inflatable bananas stolen has issued CCTV images in the hope of getting them back.
Karen Simporis has put out an appeal for anyone with information to come forward about the theft of the 6ft bananas from Henry House in Worthing, West Sussex.

She has now issued the images in the hope it might help track down the two men responsible for the crime. Ms Simporis said: “We are a green business and try to promote all kinds of green things. If you cycle to Henry House we will give you a free Fairtrade banana.
“The giant bananas were to encourage people to use sustainable transport. We stuck them outside so people would take notice but they have gone. They had only been up there for five days when they were stolen. All we want is our bananas to be returned.”

Wine-fueled sword-swinging Braveheart impersonation landed woman in court

A woman from Australia's Gold Coast who was inspired by Oscar-winning film Braveheart when she drunkenly chased her neighbors with a sword, has faced court and been given back her freedom. Simone Nicole Bruce, 44, had been drinking wine and watching the Mel Gibson blockbuster at her Chevron Island home when she decided to pull out a sword and practice her fighting skills in the street. Frightened neighbors called police and in the Southport Magistrates Court on Tuesday the stay-at-home mum pleaded guilty to going armed to cause fear.

In sentencing, Southport magistrate Michael Hogan decided he would take her plea but not her freedom, granting her 18 months probation. The prosecutor, tongue firmly in cheek, asked the court to add a probation condition that she refrain from watching other violent films. "Your honor, I would make an application that she does not watch Kill Bill," Sergeant Michael Campbell said. Barrister Chris Rosser explained that Bruce believed she was distantly related to a supporting character in the film, the future King of Scots, Robert the Bruce, and had been inspired by his brave rebellion against the corrupt English monarchy.
"This may sound ridiculous but she was watching Braveheart the movie and got into the swing of things," he said. "She said she got well involved, picked up her son's sword and went on the driveway swinging the sword around, reliving the movie. It goes without saying that alcohol was behind all of this." Her neighbors arrived home in their car at about 8.30pm to find the armed woman in the middle of the road and called police. But as they drove away she chased them and struck the car with the sword on the back quarter panel.

Mr Rosser said the mother-of-two had Aspergers' symptoms and alcohol issues but had since sworn off alcohol and resolved issues with her medication. "She's so upset that she allowed herself to do this," he said. Magistrate Hogan accepted she was seeking treatment for her problems. "This is somewhat bizarre behavior," he said. "I must say that it seems to me that the community would be best protected from you if you addressed your underlying issues." The magistrate did order an extra probation condition requiring her to not consume alcohol and submit to random testing.



Don't Wear Obsession Cologne in the Jungle

Camera traps are a great way to observe wildlife species that would normally avoid humans -or hurt them. An infrared sensor trips the camera, so moving animals are captured in digital imagery with no human interaction required. But it's still a waiting game, and wildlife biologists have learned some tricks to get those animals to pose for the camera. In the case of jaguars, a dab of perfume helps. According to biologist Miguel OrdeƱana, the big cats are particularly attracted to Calvin Klein Obsession for Men.
What’s so special about this particular scent mixture? “It has civetone and it has vanilla extract,” he says. Civetone is a chemical compound derived from the scent glands of civets, smallish nocturnal cats native to the Asian and African tropics, and it’s one of the world’s oldest perfume ingredients. “What we think is that the civetone resembles some sort of territorial marking to the jaguar, and so it responds by rubbing its own scent on it,” he explained to me. And the vanilla might set off the cats’ curiosity response. No matter which compound is responsible for jaguars’ interest – or both – the key is that the scent gets them to stick around long enough to activate the camera’s shutter.
Keep that in mind when you pack for your next wildlife safari. Read more at Scientific American.

Experts discover the mother of Roman perfumes on Mediterranean coast

Researchers at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville have described a new plant in the eastern Mediterranean, growing mainly near the coast. The importance of this discovery is that the plant is the maternal ancestor of a species of hybrid origin, Reseda odorata, used since Roman times due to the fragrance of its flowers, and whose essence was used in the ancient cosmetics industry.

Experts discover the mother of Roman perfumes on Mediterranean coast
Researchers at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville have described a new plant in the eastern Mediterranean, growing mainly near the coast. The importance of this discovery is that the plant is the maternal ancestor of a species of hybrid origin, Reseda odorata, used since Roman times due to the fragrance of its flowers, and whose essence was used in the ancient cosmetics industry
An article published in the journal Annales Botanici Fennici describes a new species of flowering plant, Reseda minoica, from the eastern Mediterranean region, more specifically from Crete (Gavdos Island, Greek's southernmost island), Cyprus and Southern Turkey. "This species belongs to the genus Reseda of the Resedaceae family, related to the Cruciferae -- which includes plants such as cabbage, mustard and radish -- and grows on limestone substrates in scrubland near the coast," Santiago Martin Bravo, co-author of the study and Botanical researcher at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville (UPO), explains.

The plant is included in section Phyteuma of Reseda genus, a taxonomically complex group mostly containing narrow endemics from the western or eastern Mediterranean region, areas considered to be of critical importance in the diversification of Mediterranean flora.

"Until now this plant has been confused with related species such as R. odorata, R. orientalis and R. balansae," the research adds. Reseda minoica can be distinguished from these other species by its lower number of stamens, seed size and petal color.

According to Pedro Jimenez Mejias, the other co-author of the study and also a researcher at UPO, "the importance of this discovery is that Reseda minoica is the maternal ancestor of a cultivated species of hybrid origin, Reseda odorata, used since Roman times due to the fragrance of its flowers, and whose essence was used in the ancient cosmetics industry. The location of one of the parts of its origin (the mother species), provides information about the evolutionary mechanisms which produce species which are later useful to humankind."

Moreover, the scientists believe that the plant is "at present rare," and could require protection so that it does not become extinct. "If this were to happen, we would lose part of the Mediterranean's plant genetic resources, with a potential consequent loss for humankind in terms of use and opportunity," Jimenez notes.

In any case, since the species is a recent discovery, it is possible that botanists from areas where the plant grows will begin to search and discover it in other places.

Two other new species in Africa

The two researchers were also part of the recent discovery of two other new African species belonging to the genus Carex of the Cyperaceae family, which includes species such as the tiger nut and papyrus. One of these, Carex rainbowii, has been found in forests of the Drakensberg mountain range, in the KwaZulu-Natal region in eastern South Africa. The other, Carex modesti, is only known to exist at the edges of streams and peat bogs in a very localized area of the mountains of southern Tanzania.

The description of both species is a good example of the significant amount of biodiversity that may remain undiscovered, especially in remote areas of the planet, including in groups of living things well-known a priori such as plants and flowers.

Mesmerizing Translucent Waves From 19th Century Paintings

The late 19th century Armenian-Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900) created some truly spectacular paintings of seascapes that capture the beautiful, shimmering essence of the tumultuous waters.

What separates Aivazovsky's seascape paintings from others is his ability to replicate both the intensity and motion as well as the translucency and texture. His energetic waves and calm ripples are equally effective. Aivazovsky also plays with colors, simulating the effects of sunlight filtering through the waters to present an ethereal quality that imitates a sort of magical realism.

Were the First Artists Mostly Women?

Three-quarters of hand prints in ancient cave art were left by women, study finds.

Hand stencils surround a mural of spotted horses.
Hand prints in ancient cave art most often belonged to women, overturning the dogma that the earliest artists were all men.

by Virginia Hughes

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.
"There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time," said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. "People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why."

Archaeologists have found hundreds of hand stencils on cave walls across the world. Because many of these early paintings also showcase game animals—bison, reindeer, horses, woolly mammoths—many researchers have proposed that they were made by male hunters, perhaps to chronicle their kills or as some kind of "hunting magic" to improve success of an upcoming hunt. The new study suggests otherwise.
"In most hunter-gatherer societies, it's men that do the killing. But it's often the women who haul the meat back to camp, and women are as concerned with the productivity of the hunt as the men are," Snow said. "It wasn't just a bunch of guys out there chasing bison around."

Experts expressed a wide range of opinions about how to interpret Snow's new data, attesting to the many mysteries still surrounding this early art.

"Hand stencils are a truly ironic category of cave art because they appear to be such a clear and obvious connection between us and the people of the Paleolithic," said archaeologist Paul Pettitt of Durham University in England. "We think we understand them, yet the more you dig into them you realize how superficial our understanding is."

Sex Differences

Snow's study began more than a decade ago when he came across the work of John Manning, a British biologist who had found that men and women differ in the relative lengths of their fingers: Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men's ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

A comparison of hand stencils
These hand stencils found in the El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain, were probably made by a man (left) and a woman (right), respectively.

One day after reading about Manning's studies, Snow pulled a 40-year-old book about cave paintings off his bookshelf. The inside front cover of the book showed a colorful hand stencil from the famous Pech Merle cave in southern France. "I looked at that thing and I thought, man, if Manning knows what he's talking about, then this is almost certainly a female hand," Snow recalled.

Hand stencils and handprints have been found in caves in Argentina, Africa, Borneo, and Australia. But the most famous examples are from the 12,000- to 40,000-year-old cave paintings in southern France and northern Spain.

For the new study, out this week in the journal American Antiquity, Snow examined hundreds of stencils in European caves, but most were too faint or smudged to use in the analysis. The study includes measurements from 32 stencils, including 16 from the cave of El Castillo in Spain, 6 from the caves of Gargas in France, and 5 from Pech Merle.
Snow ran the numbers through an algorithm that he had created based on a reference set of hands from people of European descent who lived near his university. Using several measurements—such as the length of the fingers, the length of the hand, the ratio of ring to index finger, and the ratio of index finger to little finger—the algorithm could predict whether a given handprint was male or female. Because there is a lot of overlap between men and women, however, the algorithm wasn't especially precise: It predicted the sex of Snow's modern sample with about 60 percent accuracy.

Luckily for Snow, that wasn't a problem for the analysis of the prehistoric handprints. As it turned out—much to his surprise—the hands in the caves were much more sexually dimorphic than modern hands, meaning that there was little overlap in the various hand measurements.

"They fall at the extreme ends, and even beyond the extreme ends," Snow said. "Twenty thousand years ago, men were men and women were women."

Woman, Boy, Shaman?
Snow's analysis determined that 24 of the 32 hands—75 percent—were female.

Some experts are skeptical. Several years ago, evolutionary biologist R. Dale Guthrie performed a similar analysis of Paleolithic handprints. His work—based mostly on differences in the width of the palm and the thumb—found that the vast majority of handprints came from adolescent boys.

For adults, caves would have been dangerous and uninteresting, but young boys would have explored them for adventure, said Guthrie, an emeritus professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. "They drew what was on their mind, which is mainly two things: naked women and large, frightening mammals."

Other researchers are more convinced by the new data.
"I think the article is a landmark contribution," said archaeologist Dave Whitley of ASM Affiliates, an archaeological consulting firm in Tehachapi, California. Despite these handprints being discussed for half a decade, "this is the first time anyone's synthesized a good body of evidence."

Whitley rejects Guthrie's idea that this art was made for purely practical reasons related to hunting. His view is that most of the art was made by shamans who went into trances to try to connect with the spirit world. "If you go into one of these caves alone, you start to suffer from sensory deprivation very, very quickly, in 5 to 10 minutes," Whitley said. "It can spin you into an altered state of consciousness."
The new study doesn't discount the shaman theory, Whitley added, because in some hunter-gatherer societies shamans are female or even transgendered.

The new work raises many more questions than it answers. Why would women be the primary artists? Were they creating only the handprints, or the rest of the art as well? Would the hand analysis hold up if the artists weren't human, but Neanderthal?

The question Snow gets most often, though, is why these ancient artists, whoever they were, left handprints at all.

"I have no idea, but a pretty good hypothesis is that this is somebody saying, 'This is mine, I did this,'" he said.

Daily Comic Relief


Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians

Austrian scientists have found that 19 Tyrolean men alive today are related to Oetzi the Iceman, whose 5,300-year-old frozen body was found in the Alps.
Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians
Oetzi's genome was published in February, indicating his probable eye
color and blood type [Credit: S. Marco/EURAC]
Their relationship was established through DNA analysis by scientists from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University.

The men have not been told about their connection to Oetzi. The DNA tests were taken from blood donors in Tyrol.

A particular genetic mutation was matched, the APA news agency reports.

Oetzi's body was found frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991.

Walther Parson from the Institute told APA, the Austrian Press Agency, that the same mutation might be found in the nearby Swiss region of Engadine and in Italy's South Tyrol region.

"We have already found Swiss and Italian partners so that we can pursue our research," he said.

He was quoted as saying DNA had been analyzed from 3,700 men who had given blood donations in Tyrol. They also provided data on their ancestry.

Women were not included in the study, as a different procedure would be required to match their genes.

Since Oetzi was first found by hikers with an arrow buried in his back, experts have determined that he died from his wounds. There has been extensive debate as to whether he fell where he died or was buried there by others.

Clues to Lost Prehistoric Code Discovered in Mesopotamia

The code is sealed inside clay balls and may represent the world's first data storage system.

Fossil Necklace

 Chronologically ordered beads from the planet's history
Katie Paterson's Fossil Necklace is a gorgeous piece whose each bead is a chronologically ordered artifact from a significant moment in our planetary history, signposting events like the cretaceous, the rise of hominids, and more. (this PDF has detailed, piece-by-piece labels)

Secret Stones Of The Sahara

The Ennedi Plateau

Rising from the sands of the great Sahara Desert, the Ennedi Plateau is a revelation. Situated in the north east of Chad and surrounded by sand on all sides, this extraordinary, other-worldly place presents vista after vista of stunning rock formations.

Ennedi is little visited - there is nothing you could realistically call a road for many miles. The plateau is frequented only by local nomads and a handful of foreign visitors in their 4x4s.

A Good One

Frantic search for trapped animal uncovered sewer problem that sounded just like a puppy

A frantic effort to save what was believed to be a puppy trapped in an upstate New York city's sewer system has a happy ending. What sounded to many like a whimpering puppy trapped under the Utica National building in Utica on Tuesday was actually just a sewer system that sounds like one. As the search went on, workers and passers-by began to speculate as to what kind of dog, or animal, might be trapped below.

“After a thorough search, it was determined that there was not an animal trapped, but rather, a mechanical issue within the building itself that mimicked a puppy in distress,” said Steve Kukowski, the company’s corporate communications specialist. Mayor Robert Palmieri called off the search shortly after noon after crews from the Utica Fire Department, the city’s Department of Public Works and National Grid spent more than two hours trying to locate and rescue what they believed to be the source of the sound. Then, DPW crews filled the five-foot hole they had had excavated along the side of the building earlier in the morning.
“At the end of the day, I’m very glad it was not an animal,” Palmieri said. “Because of the heavy rain we had last night, the probability of a puppy finding its way inside the storm drain was very real.” The misguided but well-intentioned rescue effort began shortly before 9:30am, when employees first contacted the city and the Stevens-Swan Humane Society to report hearing whimpering sounds that seemed to be coming from under the building. Palmieri and crews responded, and assisted in checking manholes and air vents and reviewing sewer plans to try to determine where a trapped dog could be.

Firefighters then used a stethoscope and a heat sensor to try to pinpoint where the sounds were coming from, working both inside and outside the building. After National Grid crews used a more sensitive device to listen to the side of the building and the ground outside, crews began excavating a hole on the Broadway side of the building. Utica National thanked the city for its response. “We appreciate the efforts of all involved in what we all thought was a legitimate situation of an animal in distress,” Kukowski said.

Woman run over by own car after being stung by bee

A 56-year-old woman from Packwood, Washington, was airlifted to hospital after she was run over by her own car on Sunday morning.

The woman, Donna L. Rowe-Breidstein, was stung by a bee while she was getting into her 2004 Ford Explorer at about 11am, said Sgt. Rob Snaza.
While trying to get away from the bee, she fell on the ground and the vehicle ran over her leg. The vehicle then continued to roll down the road and struck a parked 2013 Honda.

The woman was transported to Morton General Hospital and later airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle due to her injuries to her leg and ankle.

Did They Really Find Bigfoot DNA?

A group is claiming they've found Bigfoot! Sound familiar? Well this time they come with DNA evidence. So is this yet another Bigfoot hoax, or the real deal? Trace and Anthony investigate these wild claims.

Dinosaur-era bird had two tails

A bird that lived 125 million years ago had a tail with two distinctly feathered zones, according to new fossils found in China.
Dinosaur-era bird had two tails
A modern bird-style tail has been found in the early bird Jeholornis, seen in detail
in the inset [Credit: O’Connor et al/Chinese Academy of Sciences[
First described more than a decade ago, the latest analysis of the bird Jeholornis surprised palaeontologists by revealing a previously unrecognized second group of flight feathers at the base of its tail. Like the tails of modern birds, these form an aerofoil without gaps.

It had been thought that Jeholornis only had feathers at the tip of its tail, spread out like a palm frond and largely useless for flight. This is similar to the tail feathers of tailed dinosaurs, such as the flightless dinosaur Caudipteryx and the four-winged dino-bird Microraptor.

In contrast, modern birds, which evolved from dinosaurs, have much shorter stubs of tails called pygostyles, formed by fusing several vertebrae. These have feathers attached to them, which most birds use for flight and some, like the peacock, use for display.

The find makes Jeholornis unique, as it combines an ancestral long tail with a fan of feathers at its base that resembles the tail feathers of modern birds, says Zhonghe Zhou of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing. "We did not expect to find this new structure," he told New Scientist.

Drag reduction

Zhou's group examined 11 Jeholornis fossils with preserved tail feathers and found that four had both aerofoil-like fans up to 10 centimeters long at the base of their tail and frond-like tufts of feathers at the tips. A further four just had the aerofoils, and two had just the frond-like tufts, while one had traces of feathers that could not be identified.
Dinosaur-era bird had two tails
A reconstruction of a two-tailed 120-million-year-old Jeholornis
[Credit: Aijuan Shi]
A key question is the purpose of the two groups of feathers. "We believe that the fan at the base of the tail mainly helps to streamline the body and reduce drag," says Zhou. With a continuous surface, he says it could generate more lift than the feathers along the tail of the most primitive bird, Archaeopteryx, making it more useful for flight.

The resemblance of the fan to the tails of modern birds suggests "it would be a reasonably good pitch and roll generator" in flight, says Michael Habib of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. But he doubts it could have done much for yaw – motion about the vertical axis. However, Stephen Gatesy of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, warns that we need to know how the feathers were attached to the body before we can tell how well they aided flight.

With only a handful of long-tailed dino-birds known, the find leaves the place of Jeholornis in the avian family tree unclear. "This could be an intermediate form or an 'evolutionary experiment', which left no descendants," says Habib.

Runaway horse tried to get into hotel elevator

Hotel guests found themselves sharing the lobby with a horse, which tried to get into the elevator. The runaway horse caused chaos as it charged in and out of the Best Western Birmingham Metro Maypole at 9.45am on Tuesday. It had earlier bolted across the car park of a nearby store and dodged attempts to lasso it with a tow rope. The animal, said to have been limping, rushed into the hotel’s lift before it was captured. West Midlands Police said officers brought the horse under control and returned it to its owner.
But a Best Western spokesman said the beast was later put down, leaving hotel staff “devastated”. Heather Thornton, director of sales at the hotel, off Maypole Lane, said: “I saw two police officers when I arrived at 9.50am and there were a lot of people standing around the hotel looking bemused. The horse tried to get into the lift and then it reversed out again. It was stressed and frightened. It did a lot of damage to the lobby. It made some dents in the wall and knocked over plants but the staff were worried about the horse.”

The horse had earlier run past a nearby Halfords store and escaped the clutches of duty manager Jay Gordhan. He said: “A customer walked in asking if anyone had seen a horse. Just then, it appeared and ran around the car park. I grabbed one of our tow ropes and tried to throw it over the horse. But it ran into the Best Western and smashed up a bit of their lobby. I told one of the girls to throw it some fruit to keep it there.”
The Best Western spokesman said the horse had come in through the hotel’s sliding glass front doors. “Clearly scared it was trying to find its way back out,” he said. “Staff and guests were very concerned about the horse and tried to make sure it did not injure itself. While some damage was done to the hotel, the horse eventually found its way out after trying to get in the lift. Sadly the horse had to be put down. The hotel staff do not know why, but are devastated.”

Platypus survives 15km joyride in car's engine bay

A platypus that got stuck in a car engine in Australia has been safely released back into the wild, Australian conservation officials say. The female platypus wedged itself inside the engine bay of a car driving through a flooded river crossing south of Canberra late on Wednesday. It was driven more than 15km (9 miles) before the driver realized an animal was in the car.
Officials described the incident as a "one-in-a-million" event. The driver, Cameron Blaseotto, said he heard scratching from under his car bonnet when he parked his car. He and his friend "originally thought a possum or something was going to jump out at both of us", he said. "We had a bit of an argument about who was going to open the engine bay," he added.
They were surprised to discover a platypus stuck in the engine bay, and called the territory's Parks and Conservation Service. "Our urban wildlife rangers get calls ranging from snakes in houses to quolls (a carnivorous marsupial) in trees, but this was definitely one of our most unusual calls," Regional Operations Manager Brett McNamara said.
"There's obviously many moving parts within an engine bay and given platypus have claws there is not much to hang onto," he said. "How this animal was able to climb up inside, hang on, and then drive all the way back into Canberra is a truly remarkable story." Mr McNamara added that the platypus, who was in perfect health, was returned to her home and released on Thursday morning.

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