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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1096 Seljuk Turks at Chivitot slaughter thousands of German crusaders.
1529 The Pope names Henry VIII of England Defender of the Faith after defending the seven sacraments against Luther.
1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats his enemies in battle and affirms his position as Japan's most powerful warlord.
1790 The Tricolor is chosen as the official flag of France.
1805 Vice Admiral and Viscount Horatio Nelson wins his greatest victory over a Franco-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar, fought off Cape Trafalgar, Spain. Nelson is fatally wounded in the battle, but lives long enough to see victory.
1837 Under a flag of truce during peace talks, U.S. troops siege the Indian Seminole Chief Osceola in Florida.
1861 The Battle of Ball's Bluff, Va. begins, a disastrous Union defeat which sparks Congressional investigations.
1867 Many leaders of the Kiowa, Comanche and Kiowa-Apache sign a peace treaty at Medicine Lodge, Kan. Comanche Chief Quanah Parker refused to accept the treaty terms.
1872 The U.S. Naval Academy admits John H. Conyers, the first African American to be accepted.
1879 After 14 months of testing, Thomas Edison first demonstrates his electric lamp, hoping to one day compete with gaslight.
1904 Panamanians clash with U.S. Marines in Panama in a brief uprising.
1917 The first U.S. troops enter the front lines at Sommerviller under French command.
1939 As war heats up with Germany, the British war cabinet holds its first meeting in the underground war room in London.
1940 Ernest Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls is published.
1942 Eight American and British officers land from a submarine on an Algerian beach to take measure of Vichy French to the Operation Torch landings.
1950 North Korean Premier Kim Il-Sung establishes a new capital at Sinuiju on the Yalu River opposite the Chinese City of Antung.
1959 The Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opens in Manhattan.
1961 Bob Dylan records his first album in a single day at a cost of $400.
1967 The "March on the Pentagon," protesting American involvement in Vietnam , draws 50,000 protesters.
1969 Israel's Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan resigns over disagreements with Prime Minister Menachem Begin over policies related to the Palestinians.
1983 The United States sends a ten-ship task force to Grenada.
1994 North Korea and the US sign an agreement requiring North Korea to halts its nuclear weapons program and agree to international inspections.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That the repugican cabal has done real damage to the economy

About how the SAT essay test teaches kids to be terrible writers

Here's a brief history of conspiracy theories

Do people get their politics from their parents

The repugicans Have Resumed Their Koch Funded Seditious Conspiracy To Destroy Government

The seditious conspiracy in the war for America is still ongoing and the next major assault is already in the planning stages …

Paul Ryan’s Worst Nightmare Comes True as Bernie Sanders Is On The Budget Committee

Majority Leader Harry Reid has shattered Paul Ryan’s dreams of killing Social Security and Medicare by putting Sen. Bernie Sanders on the budget conference committee.
Sen. Sanders reacted to the official news of being appointed to the budget conference committee by saying, “I am excited about being a member of the budget conference committee and I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to end the absurdity of sequestration and to develop a budget which works for all Americans. In my view, it is imperative that this new budget helps us create the millions of jobs we desperately need and does not balance the budget on the backs of working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.”
In other words, Bernie Sanders opposes everything that Paul Ryan wants. Sen. Sanders has long been an outspoken critic of the Ryan budgets, and the Wisconsin repugican’s borderline obsession with privatizing Social Security and voucherizing Medicare.
In response to Ryan’s recent Wall Street Journal editorial where he once again put entitlements in the crosshairs, Sanders said, “In a sense, what Paul Ryan is saying is yeah, I lost the election. It doesn’t matter. I want you to implement all of the ideas that I campaigned on and lost. You know what? The American don’t want to see cuts in Social Security, or privatization of Social Security, They don’t want to see cuts in Medicare. They don’t want to see cuts in Medicaid. They don’t want to see the EPA abolished, the Department of Education abolished. They don’t want to see the VA privatized. They don’t want to see the minimum wage, the concept of the minimum wage, done away with so that the people of America could work for four bucks an hour.”
In 2012, Sen. Sanders called out Rep. Ryan for continuing repugican class warfare with his budget, “I think clearly what Ryan is about is continuing the repugican effort to engage in class warfare. Who in their right minds could support a proposal which says more tax breaks for the wealthiest people and yet we’ll cut Medicare and Medicaid in drastic form.”
Harry Reid and Bernie Sanders have been working together for years to protect Social Security. Reid has stated everytime that he has been asked over the past few years that no cuts to Social Security will pass the Senate. It is likely that Reid put Sanders on the budget conference committee to act as the anti-Ryan.
Paul Ryan has claimed that he wanted a budget conference committee, and now he’s got it. What he has also got that he might not have expected was Bernie Sanders sitting across the table from him fighting against his efforts to destroy Social Security and Medicare.
The appointment of Sen. Sanders sets the stage for some very interesting budget negotiations over the next two months that Paul Ryan definitely may not like.

Ted Cruz Is Raising More Money for Democrats Than He Is For Himself

Ted Cruz is turning into the best fundraiser that the Democrats have got. Cruz's fake filibuster and government shutdown raised more money for congressional Democrats than Cruz raised…
ted cruz 
In September, Congressional Democrats raised a record monthly haul at $8.4 million dollars, per an announcement today by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The DCCC aide said that the potential of a repugican government shutdown fueled a large portion of the committee’s fundraising this cycle. “About $2 million of the record-breaking haul came from online donations following repugican teabagger Ted Cruz’s filibuster.”
Imagine what they took in during the actual shutdown.
Congressional Democrats now have $20 million cash in the bank for the 2014 elections, per the DCCC.
In comparison, Cruz raised $797,000 off of his faux filibuster, and Jim DeMint’s Hertiage Action banked $330,000. So Cruz’s 21 hour pledge drive raised nearly twice as much money for his opponents than he raised for himself and his allies. Post filibuster, Cruz raised an additional $1.19 million. This means that Democrats raised more money off of Cruz’s one sideshow trick than Cruz has been able to raise in the last three months.
I promised you in March that Ted Cruz was the new Sarah Palin,. He is indeed living up to my prediction, including being a top fundraiser for Democrats — just like the half term Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
Every time either one of them speaks, a concerned citizen donates money to the Democrats.
Ted Cruz is a walking ATM for the Democratic Party. Please proceed, Teddy Boy.

The truth be told

The madness of King repugican

"The current moment in politics came about slowly, not suddenly," writes Jon Lovett in The Atlantic, charting how the repugican cabal went crazy, "but it doesn't make it any less of a national emergency."
The proliferation of horserace political coverage is of this brand of lunacy, where the presumption is that a political act will be described on the basis of how it will be perceived ... “Will the president’s statement hurt him?” ... There are more serious examples we can argue about. The way campaigns are financed. The expansion of presidential power. The size of our prison system. Yes, there are those who get angry about all this. “Hello? This is crazy, right? Anyone?” But eventually we all just go back to looking at our phones.
And then the government shuts down.
And here's a list of the 144 Republicans who voted to send the U.S. into default, people so bonkers that even the Wall Street Journal seems to have had its fill of them.

The tea party insult generator

The collapse of the repugican cabal-engineered shutdown has the tea party in a fury, and they're showing their wrath with a series of vicious posts to John Boehner's Facebook. The tea party Insult Generator teases these insults apart and recombines them to make them stronger, faster, better than before.
Lefty fascist RINO.
Cowardly Breitbart-betraying socialist.
Double-crossing establishment socialist.
Cowardly Muslim-loving devil.
Und so weiter...

The TSA admits "terrorists in America are not plotting against aviation"

An accidentally published, unredacted document from a lawsuit against the TSA reveals that the Taking Shoes Away people believe that "terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports." That is to say, there is no identifiable risk to America's skies -- and all of business with shoes and pornoscanners and horrible, abusive incidents involving toddlers, people with mental disabilities, cancer survivors, rape survivors, and the whole business of treating travellers like presumptive terrorists is all to prevent a problem that, to all intents and purposes, doesn't exist.
...The Court actually failed to seal the unredacted brief, and they have published in full the leaked document. The document — as of yet still available to the public through the PACER court records system — is properly labeled as “sealed” by the clerk’s office, meaning they received and understood my instructions that the document was not to be public, but neglected to hide the attachment from public view.
The information revealed, which I may now comment on since a third party has made it publicly available, is devastating to the TSA’s argument that virtually strip-searching the public using its $1B nude body scanner fleet, as well as literally putting their hands in the pants of travelers during full-body pat-downs, is necessary to prevent airplanes from dropping out of the sky at the hands of terrorists. In 2011, the year after the scanners became primary screening, TSA intelligence officials concluded that “terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports.”
The TSA has a lot of explaining to do, both to members of Congress and to the general public, all of whom were misled as to the threat we face and the justification for the most intrusive searches ever performed on the public at large in the United States in the history of this great nation. The terrorists that the TSA has made the country fear, it admits, do not actually exist.

China loves vintage U.S. cars, despite legal roadblocks

As a boy, Sun Jian loved to watch war movies such as Patton, about the U.S. general and hero of World War II. He dreamed of owning a vintage U.S. Army jeep like the one old "Blood and Guts" sped about in as he led the fight against Nazis in Europe. Now a successful real estate businessman, Sun, 47, finally got his jeep and wants to get his hands on more classic American cars. That is, if the Chinese government lets him.
China is becoming choked with automobile traffic in many of its cities, and authorities have banned from the roads vehicles over 15 years old out of concern that the older cars create more pollution. So importing classic cars is especially difficult, collectors complain.
The number of collectors is growing despite the obstacles as Chinese who have more disposable income from the country's economic boom look for ways to indulge the passions their money can buy.
"However tired or hungry you are, when you hear the engine start after months of hard work, it's unbeatable, the happiest moment in life," says Luo Wenyou, 59, who owns 200 classic cars of which more than half are from abroad.
This week a convoy of classic cars that includes a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray departed from the Great Wall near Beijing for an 1,100-mile tour to Shanghai. This is the third year of the Classic Cars China Challenge, which channels the spirit of the famous Peking to Paris Race in 1907.
Ninety drivers are taking part in the tour, including a record 16 Chinese drivers.
Hou Xiaoming, secretary-general of the Classic Vehicle Union of China, says nothing compares with the American automobile of the 1950s and 1960s.
"They have exaggerated, strong character. You can see culture and history in the designs, one car represent an era," he says.
"I also like secondhand or very old cars made for daily use, not like most Chinese who like brand new, luxurious cars," he says. "Their beauty shines when they are moving."
The popular turn to classic cars is going in the opposite direction of a newly prosperous society that often venerates the latest, flashiest brand.
"The technology nowadays is more advanced, but we can still learn from classic designs like this jeep, simple, tough and useful," Sun says.
Luo Wenyou runs a collectors group with more than 3,000 members. He says they speak a language that gear heads in the USA would recognize. But the communist-run bureaucracy is not going along for the ride.
"I called the Beijing traffic police, they told me, 'Your car has no doors, it's too dangerous,' " Sun says of his Jeep. "But it was the original design in World War II, to save money."
No matter, the government says. For the past three years, Sun has kept the jeep in a spot he leases on the outskirts of Beijing, driving it secretly on little-policed country roads like many classic car owners here.
"I really hope there could be new rules for collectors like me to drive our cars on the road, just from one city to another is enough," he says. "Let more people know the beauty of classic cars." Sun hopes his son, 15, will be able to drive the family pride and joy on his future wedding day.
Cars are not the only pricey passion that wealthier Chinese have trouble enjoying. They face similar challenges when trying to buy private jets and helicopters, enduring tight restrictions on their use enforced by the Chinese military that controls most of the country's airspace.
There is hope for classic car collectors. A proposal seeking more relaxed treatment of the oldies has been submitted to the national parliament, says Hou Xiaoming, whose Classic Vehicle Union of China organized the rally to Shanghai.
There's been no response to date, and it's the same petition that has been submitted every year for five years without result.
Hou says the problem is not safety and technical issues associated with older vehicles. Owner of 10 classic cars, including a U.S. Buick from 1984 once used by George W. Bush, Hou says the hurdle has more to do with the inherent difficulty in China of getting any rules changed.
Fellow collector Luo Wenyou regrets China's restrictive policy but says he understands its rationale: too many people, too many old cars and too much traffic. That has not dimmed his passion.
Luo has spent more than $11 million on his collection since his first purchase, a Polish model, back in 1978. He and his wife run a museum of classic cars but have to take three public buses to reach downtown, as none of their 200 vehicles can secure a licence to become street legal.
They could drive to work if they bought a newer car, but the couple prefer to spend all their money on the museum. Among the collection are Chevrolets, Dodges and a "Red Flag," a 1958 limousine based on a Chrysler and made for China's ruling Communist Party elite and visiting foreign dignitaries.
Government officials from Beijing came to visit the museum recently to see if perhaps they may want to display some of the vintage vehicles on Tiananmen Square.
Luo says most Chinese collectors buy the cars as an investment, but he buys for pleasure and does not see them as a good financial move. Carlos Tavares, CEO of Exclusive Classic Cars, a Portuguese company set up this year to sell classic cars in China, says the cars have value.
"There are lots of really wealthy people, and everybody can own a new Porsche, Maserati or Lamborghini," he says. "The new rich Chinese are looking for something more unique to show their friends they are different. Classic cars are forbidden for now, but it may be possible in the future."
Dang Wenque, 58, was admiring a Stingray, imported by Tavares' firm, at a public display last week on Wangfujing, China's most famous shopping street. Dang was the first member of his family to own a passenger car, a Ford Focus he bought in 2009 and a model that became the best-selling sedan in China in September.
"New cars are nowhere near as attractive," says Dang, soon to retire as a manager in a textile firm in central China.

Drunk driver smashed into pharmacy before walking to bar next door and resuming drinking

An allegedly drunk driver crashed his car through the front of an Atlanta pharmacy early on Friday, then walked away from the wreckage to a nearby bar, where he continued drinking.

South Florida Woman Asked Cops to Help Her Hire Hit Man to Kill Husband

Annybelkis Terrero, 38, is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder and two counts of bribery, Boynton Beach Police said. 
by Brian Hamacher 

The South Florida woman who asked police officers to help her hire a hit man to kill her husband and another man was arrested early Friday, authorities said. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo spoke with Boynton Beach Spokeswoman Stephanie Slater about the investigation.
A South Florida woman who asked police officers to help her hire a hit man to kill her husband and another man was arrested early Friday, authorities said.
Annybelkis Terrero, 38, is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder and two counts of bribery, Boynton Beach Police said. She was being held without bond at the Palm Beach County Jail Friday, and it was unknown whether she has an attorney.

According to police, the incident began several weeks ago when police responded to Terrero's home after neighbors complained about drug activity and prostitution. Officers with the department's narcotics investigation unit met with Terrero, who agreed to become a confidential informant, police said.
On Wednesday, the officers returned to Terrero's home to have her sign official paperwork to become an informant. While there, Terrero agreed to show the officers where a drug dealer lives, police said.
As Terrero and the officers drove to the house, Terrero discussed how she hated her husband and wanted him dead, and told the officers, who she knew were cops and who were wearing police vests (pictured below), about a plan she had to kill him, police said.

"She wanted her husband dead and that she had come up with a plan to do it," Boynton Beach Police Spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said.
That's when the officers took on a different role.
"At that point the agents switched gears, assumed the roles of undercover officers and implied that they could help her with her wish to have her husband killed," Slater said. "At that point she produced 2 stolen credit cards as a down payment and gave it to the officers.
The officers implied that they knew someone who could kill Terrero's husband, police said. Terrero gave them stolen credit cards as down payment and told them to use them quickly because they were "hot," police said.
On Thursday night, Terrero met with the two officers and an undercover Boynton Beach officer who was posing as a  hit man at a shopping center parking lot. Terrero brought a fully-loaded shotgun and ammunition to the meeting and offered it to the hit man as a down payment and sign of good faith, police said.
She also agreed to pay $30,000, and said the money would come from her husband's life insurance policy, police said.
Police said the other man Terrero wanted killed is an acquaintance. The incident is still being investigated.

Woman jailed for squirting boyfriend with water pistol

A Florida woman accused of squirting her boyfriend with a water pistol was thrown in jail by Port St. Lucie police, according to a recently released arrest affidavit. Giovanna Borge, 19, was arrested on Sept. 27 on a battery charge "for squirting water on (her boyfriend) to antagonize and agitate him against his wishes," the affidavit states.
Police went to an address in Port St. Lucie where Borge said her boyfriend "said something to her she did not like." Borge said she then grabbed a water pistol, squirting her boyfriend with water. The boyfriend, she said, then dumped a container of water on her and hit her with a pillow.

She wound up in the tub in the bathroom after "mutual shoving." Meanwhile, the boyfriend said Borge started screaming at him and squirted him with the water pistol. "He then poured water on her and also corroborated the mutual shoving," the affidavit states.
Three people in the apartment said Borge began screaming at her boyfriend unprovoked. They didn't see the alleged altercation but heard the boyfriend yelling "get off of me, get off of me." Borge was breathing in a rapid, shallow manner. Police gave her a bag to breathe in and took her to jail.

Woman stole 905 handbags

Jayne Rand, of Swindon, England, was sentenced this week to an 18 month jail sentence after shoplifting $200,000 worth of handbags. No kleptomaniac, Rand was such an expert thief that the judge, Rhys Rowlands, felt compelled to remark upon her professionalism:
"How you got away with it for so long without being caught was deeply remarkable. You showed professionalism and that is why you went undetected for so long. You travelled the country with the sole purpose of theft and you made a successful albeit dishonest business of selling stolen handbags. The values are quite outside of what the court comes across even from professional shoplifting gangs."

Indian gold hunt sparked by holy man's dream begins

A sadhu's dream of hidden gold treasure at Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh's fort in Uttar Pradesh, India, prompted a team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to survey the area and begin excavation work on Friday. The sadhu, Shobhan Sarkar, had dreamed that 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried in the remains of the fort situated in Daundaia Kheda village.
According to Sarkar's follower, Swami Omji, Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh, who was martyred during a 1857 fight with the British, came in the dream of Sarkar and told him to take care of the gold buried in the remains of his fort. Sarkar convinced Union minister Charandas Mahant of his dream, leading to which a team of ASI and Geological Survey of India (GSI) officials surveyed the area. Officials said after 'puja' was performed by Hindu sadhus the digging began.
ASI officials have been camping at the site for the last three days and have completed marking the area of the potential treasure trove amid tight security. Thousands turned up at the site as the news spread. The district administration has now banned the entry of people into the fort premises. Preliminary findings, officials say, have suggested presence of "some metal underneath the earth", following which ASI teams decided to begin the excavation.

Experts, however, are not too sure about the possibility of gold buried underneath. While many do not rule out the discovery of some gold, they say it is not possible for 1,000 tonnes of gold to have been buried within the fort as Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh was a ruler who presided over a zamindari stretching not more than 25-30km. "He was not a big king and hence it looks unlikely that such a huge gold reserve would be found there," said D P Tiwari, former head of the History and Archaeology department at the Lucknow University. For the villagers, however, Shobhan Sarkar's words are sacrosanct. Mahendra Pratap Singh, a descendant of the late Unnao ruler, says people firmly believe that if the seer has said it, the gold must be somewhere there.

Daily Comic Relief


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Regular exercise may lower the risk that a person's sense of smell will fade, which tends to happen as people age.
Brain cells get smaller during sleep, and the brain clears away toxins, reports a new study.
The earliest known population of humans outside of Africa has been found, with huge implications that could erase species from the human family tree.
What motivates people to help others? Could altruistic behavior be influenced by genes?
Scientists have just discovered a new, very important reason for you to get a good night's sleep. For the first time, they've been able to see the brain physically cleaning itself while its owner is asleep! Anthony explains how this cleaning works.
Controlling levels of a hormone produced during stress could prevent formation of PTSD.

How One Skull May Unite The Early Human Family Tree

At a site in Dmanisi, Georgia, researchers have been finding the bones and tools of early human ancestors for years. Now, however, an unearthed skull is posing something of a problem.

The top of its head is relatively small, resembling a humanlike species known as Homo habilis; but its jaw is fairly large, more closely resembling another species, Homo erectus. Naturally, a single skull can only come from a single species, but this one seems to be telling two separate stories.

New twist in mystery of lead coffin found near Richard III’s grave

by Peter Warzynski
The mysterious lead coffin found yards from the grave of Richard III has delivered another twist in the tale of the Greyfriars excavation.
Archaeologists had thought the 600-year-old metal casket, which was found in a stone tomb at Greyfriars in August, might belong to knight Sir William de Moton.
  1. Archaeologists expose the lead casket found inside a stone coffin at Greyfriars
    Archaeologists expose the lead casket found inside a stone coffin at Greyfriars
The University of Leicester team – which uncovered Richard III a year earlier – also identified two other potential candidates, in Peter Swynsfeld, who died in 1272, and William of Nottingham, who died in 1330 – both former leaders of the Franciscan friars.
However, recent analysis by the university has revealed the skeleton is likely to be female.
Lead archaeologist, Richard Buckley, from University of Leicester Archaeological Services, said: "Early analysis has shown the skeleton could be female, but before we have carried out a more thorough examination we can't say for sure.
"If it is female – and I'm not an expert on osteology, this is just what I've been told – then it's likely it's a local benefactress.
"A lead coffin is a very high status thing."
He said the heavy lead coffin could also indicate the person had been transported from elsewhere in the county, as it would protect the remains.
The coffin was removed from the New Street dig site in August and taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary to see if any organic tissue was preserved. An endoscope camera was inserted into a small opening in the foot of the coffin and showed that only bone and hair had survived.
Mr Buckley said: "We took it to the infirmary in case there was any organic material left, but we found that it was just a skeleton."
The coffin was then taken back to the university, where it was opened and the skeleton removed.
"Now we're waiting on the osteology," said Mr Buckley.
"But, to be honest, the project is on the back-burner for a while and we won't start examining the remains properly until the winter."
He said the identity of the body might never be discovered, despite new evidence of the friary's burial records.
"There is a list of names which gives more information about who it could be," he said.
"We're looking at those at the minute and it's too early to say anything about it.
"But assuming we had the name of everyone buried at Greyfriars, we would then need to exhume every set of remains and go about matching names to the skeletons, which would be very difficult."

Study sheds new light on how pre-Inca states became empires in early America

The Wari, a complex civilization that preceded the Inca empire in pre-Columbia America, didn't rule solely by pillage, plunder and iron-fisted bureaucracy, a Dartmouth study finds. Instead, they started out by creating loosely administered colonies to expand trade, provide land for settlers and tap natural resources across much of the central Andes.
Study sheds new light on how pre-Inca states became empires in early America
This is an aerial view of Pikillacta, facing toward the Cusco Basin
[Credit: Department of Library Services, American
Museum of Natural History]
The results, which appear in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, shed new light on how early states evolved into empires in the region that became the Inca imperial heartland.

The study is the first large-scale look at the settlement patterns and power of the Wari civilization, which flourished from about AD 600-1000 in the Andean highlands, well before the Inca empire's 15th century rise. Relatively little is known about the Wari -- there are no historical documents and archaeologists are still debating their power and statecraft.
Study sheds new light on how pre-Inca states became empires in early America
This is the Cusco region, with areas of full-coverage archeological surveys
reported in this paper [Credit: Alan Covey]
Many scholars think the Wari established strong centralized control -- economic, political, cultural and military -- like their Inca successors to govern the majority of the far-flung populations living across the central Andes. But the Dartmouth study suggests that while the Wari had significant administrative power, they did not successfully transition most colonies into directly ruled provinces.

"The identification of limited Wari state power encourages a focus on colonization practices rather than an interpretation of strong provincial rule," says Professor Alan Covey, the study's lead author. "A 'colonization first' interpretation of early Wari expansion encourages the reconsideration of motivations for expansion, shifting from military conquest and economic exploitation of subject populations to issues such as demographic relief and strategic expansion of trade routes or natural resource access."
Study sheds new light on how pre-Inca states became empires in early America
This is the distribution of Wari pottery identified through survey, with three-hour walking
intervals from Pikillacta and Tankarpata [Credit: Department of Library Services,
American Museum of Natural History]
The results are based on a systematic inventory of archaeological surveys covering nearly 1,000 square miles and GIS analysis of more than 3,000 archaeological sites in and around Peru's Cusco Valley. The data indicate Wari power did not emanate continuously outward from Pikillacta, a key administrative center whose construction required a huge investment. Instead, the locations of Wari ceramics indicate a more uneven, indirect and limited influence even at the height of their power than traditional interpretations from excavations at Wari sites.

Pre-Viking Age monuments uncovered in Sweden

Archaeologists in Sweden said Thursday they have unearthed the remains of unusually large wooden monuments near a pre-Viking Age burial ground.
Pre-Viking Age monuments uncovered in Sweden
Archaeologists in Sweden have uncovered this 1km-long row of wooden poles which is
believed to be from the 5th Century, but their purpose is unclear [Credit: flygfoto]
As archaeologists dug in preparation for a new railway line, they found traces of two rows of wooden pillars in Old Uppsala, an ancient pagan religious center. One stretched about 1,000 yards (1 kilometer) and the other was half as long.

Archaeologist Lena Beronius-Jorpeland said the colonnades were likely from the 5th century but their purpose is unclear. She called it Sweden's largest Iron Age construction and said the geometrical structure is unique.
Pre-Viking Age monuments uncovered in Sweden
The wooden monuments were found near a pre-Viking Age burial ground while work was
carried out to prepare for a new railway line [Credit: National Heritage Board]
"It is a completely straight line and they have dug postholes every 20 feet (6 meters)," she said. "They have had an idea of exactly where this line is going and where to build it. It is a fairly modern way of thinking and we don't have many traces of these sorts of constructions from that time."

She said the pillars are believed to have been at least 23 feet (7 meters) high. Bones found in some postholes indicate animals had been sacrificed there.
Pre-Viking Age monuments uncovered in Sweden
Archaeologist Fredrik Thölin sitting next to one of the foundations where the wooden
poles were erected around every 20 feet [Credit: Upplandsmuseet]
Old Uppsala is known as a center for Norse religion, where believers gathered to sacrifice animals to gods such as Odin and Thor. The colonnades were found near a famous burial site where the three Iron Age kings Aun, Egil and Adils are believed to be buried.

Beronius-Jorpeland said written testimonies from medieval times describe the city as a place for large pagan "blood ceremonies" and religious feasts.
Pre-Viking Age monuments uncovered in Sweden
Archaeologist Anton Seiler examines one of the foundations which held pillars that
were believed to be around 7m high [Credit: National Heritage Board]
She said she believes there may be more colonnades in the area and archaeologists will continue to excavate and analyze the findings.

Earth News

One of the highest points in the Maldives is an island made of trash.
With government cash flowing again, the U.S. Antarctic research program is scrambling to reverse the science shutdown forced into place last week.
Rising sea levels are transforming the Florida Everglades.
Some cruise companies are cleaning up their acts, but campaigners say more needs to be done.
Global warming threatens many species that don't often appear in the news.
Every corner of the world's oceans — from pole to pole and sea surface to seafloor — will undergo changes associated with global climate change.
A blood-engorged mosquito fossil is the first of its kind ever found in a shale rock, as opposed to amber.
How fast can volcanic gases turn a placid lake into an acidic death trap?


Missing link discovered between viruses and cells

With the discovery of Mimivirus ten years ago and, more recently, Megavirus chilensis [1], researchers thought they had reached the farthest corners of the viral world in terms of size and genetic complexity. With a diameter in the region of a micrometer and a genome incorporating more than 1,100 genes, these giant viruses, which infect amoebas of the Acanthamoeba genus, had already largely encroached on areas previously thought to be the exclusive domain of bacteria. For the sake of comparison, common viruses such as the influenza or AIDS viruses only contain around ten genes each.
Pandoravirus: Missing link discovered between viruses and cells
Pandoravirus salinus observed under the electron microscope
[Credit: Chantal Abergel and Jean-Michel Claverie]
In the article published in Science, the researchers announced they had discovered two new giant viruses:

  • Pandoravirus salinus, on the coast of Chile;
  • Pandoravirus dulcis, in a freshwater pond in Melbourne, Australia.

Detailed analysis has shown that these first two Pandoraviruses have virtually nothing in common with previously characterized giant viruses. What's more, only a very small percentage (6%) of proteins encoded by Pandoravirus salinus are similar to those already identified in other viruses or cellular organisms. With a genome of this size, Pandoravirus salinus has just demonstrated that viruses can be more complex than some eukaryotic cells [2]. Another unusual feature of Pandoraviruses is that they have no gene allowing them to build a protein like the capsid protein, which is the basic building block of traditional viruses.

Despite all these novel properties, Pandoraviruses display the essential characteristics of other viruses in that they contain no ribosome, produce no energy and do not divide.

This groundbreaking research included an analysis of the Pandoravirus salinus proteome, which proved that the proteins making it up are consistent with those predicted by the virus' genome sequence. Pandoraviruses thus use the universal genetic code shared by all living organisms on the planet.

This shows just how much more there is to learn regarding microscopic biodiversity as soon as new environments are considered. The simultaneous discovery of two specimens of this new virus family in sediments located 15,000 km apart indicates that Pandoraviruses, which were completely unknown until now, are very likely not rare.

It definitively bridges the gap between viruses and cells -- a gap that was proclaimed as dogma at the very outset of modern virology back in the 1950s.

It also suggests that cell life could have emerged with a far greater variety of pre-cellular forms than those conventionally considered, as the new giant virus has almost no equivalent among the three recognized domains of cellular life, namely eukaryota (or eukaryotes), eubacteria, and archaea.


[1] Arslan D, Legendre M, Seltzer V, Abergel C, Claverie JM (2011) "Distant Mimivirus relative with a larger genome highlights the fundamental features of Megaviridae." PNAS. 108:17486-91

[2] Parasitic microsporidia of the Encephalitozoon genus in particular.

Gene regulation differences between humans and chimpanzees more complex than thought

Changes in gene regulation have been used to study the evolutionary chasm that exists between humans and chimpanzees despite their largely identical DNA. However, scientists from the University of Chicago have discovered that mRNA expression levels, long considered a barometer for differences in gene regulation, often do not reflect differences in protein expression—and, therefore, biological function—between humans and chimpanzees. The work was published Oct. 17 in Science.
Gene regulation differences between humans and chimpanzees more complex than thought
Young chimpanzees from Jane Goodall sanctuary of Tchimpounga
[Credit: Delphine Bruyere/WikiCommons]
"We thought that we knew how to identify patterns of mRNA expression level differences between humans and chimpanzees that would be good candidates to be of functional importance," said Yoav Gilad, PhD, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. "Now we see that even such mRNA patterns are not translated to the protein level. Which means that it is unlikely that they can affect a functional phenotypic difference."

For genes to be expressed, DNA must be transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA), which then code for proteins, the biological building blocks and engines that drive cellular function. Although humans and chimpanzees share highly similar genomes, previous studies have shown that the species evolved major differences in mRNA expression levels. Many of these differences were thought to indicate areas of evolutionary divergence, thus pointing to genes important for human-specific traits.

To test this, Gilad, Jonathan Pritchard, PhD, currently at Stanford University, and their team, spearheaded by postdoctoral fellow Zia Khan, PhD, used high-resolution mass spectrometry to compare the expression levels of thousands of proteins with corresponding mRNA expression data in human and chimpanzee cell lines.

The team found 815 genes with differing mRNA expression levels but only 571 genes that differed in protein expression. In total, they identified an estimated 266 genes with mRNA differences that did not lead to changes in protein levels. They found similar results in rhesus macaque cell lines when compared to both chimpanzees and humans, confirming the trend.

"Some of these patterns of mRNA regulation have previously been thought of as evidence of natural selection for important genes in humans, but this can no longer be assumed," Gilad said.

The study raises questions over why mRNA expression levels differ between species if they do not necessarily cause protein differences. Although further study is needed, Gilad believes this study suggests that protein expression levels evolve under greater evolutionary constraint than mRNA levels, via a yet-uncharacterized compensation or buffering mechanism.

For now, research that uses mRNA expression levels as a measure of the functional importance of a gene requires reassessment, and not just in studies on evolution.

"We've gained insight into complex diseases by studying mRNA transcripts, but we also have a lot of gaping holes in our knowledge. Perhaps some of them are because of this disparity," Gilad said.

RIP Boogie the runaway dog who completed half-marathon

Boogie, the dog who ran the Evansville Half-Marathon by mistake, has sadly passed away.

Goats Eat Away Poison Ivy Problem

Goats Clear Farmer's Market of Poison Ivy
Poison ivy has invaded the area the Sustainable Food Center uses for their farmer's market in East Austin, Texas.
But rather than dousing it with plant-killing sprays, the SFC found an environmentally friendly -- and perhaps even a tasty -- solution.
The market has teamed up with nearby Swede Farms to use goats as a solution to the problem. The farm's goats love to eat poison ivy and, according to their owner Leeanne Carlson, the plant is a treat for the animals.
"Things we think of as nuisance plants they love and are very good for them," she said. "It's like coming to a dessert bar where they can make their own ice cream sundaes."
SFC will use other methods to kill off the plant once it's been eaten down. A solution that includes soap and orange oil will eradicate the plant without hurting the environment.
The Sustainable Food Center is the first in Austin to use the goats for clearing. Swede Farm is hoping they aren’t the last.

Animal News

Things are just ducky at the Central Park Zoo as eight rare duck species there have produced chicks this year.
Yeti, the hairy, ape-like stuff of legend for centuries, may have its mythical status undone thanks to a genetic match with a less fanciful creature.
The recent discovery of a monstrous fish off the Southern California coast has people buzzing -- what other "monsters" lurk beneath the waves?
How is it that certain bullfrogs, like Rosie the Ribeter, kick other amphibian butt during jumping contests?
A fossilized brain in the preserved remains of an extinct arthropod reveals an ancient nervous system remarkably similar to that of modern-day spiders and scorpions.
They've finally found a fossilized mosquito full of prehistoric blood! So a real "Jurassic Park" is right around the corner, right? Trace explains what exactly this discovery means, and if it means you'll be visiting Isla Nublar any time soon.
One key to the dinos' evolutionary ability to scale-up may have recently been found in their knees.
A bat with a rock-star name builds a speaker out of leaves to amplify and modify its calls.