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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Daily Drift

Yeah, it's like that ...

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Today in History

4004 BC According to 17th century divine James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and Dr. John Lightfoot of Cambridge, the world was created on this day, a Sunday, at 9 a.m.
1641 Rebellion in Ireland. Catholics, under Phelim O'Neil, rise against the Protestants and massacred men, women and children to the number of 40,000 (some say 100,000).
1694 American colonial forces led by Sir William Phips, fail in their attempt to seize Quebec.
1707 The first Parliament of Great Britain meets.
1783 Virginia emancipates slaves who fought for independence during the Revolutionary War.
1861 President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in Washington, D.C. for all military-related cases.
1918 President Wilson feels satisfied that the Germans are accepting his armistice terms and agrees to transmit their request for an armistice to the Allies. The Germans have agreed to suspend submarine warfare, cease inhumane practices such as the use of poison gas, and withdraw troops back into Germany.
1929 The first transcontinental air service begins from New York to Los Angeles.
1942 The Western Task Force, destined for North Africa, departs from Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1952 The Nobel Prize for Medicine is awarded to Ukranian-born microbiologist Selmart A. Waksman for his discovery of an effective treatment of tuberculosis.
1954 In Paris, an agreement is signed providing for West German sovereignty and permitting West Germany to rearm and enter NATO and the Western European Union.
1973 A U.N. sanctioned cease-fire officially ends the Yom Kippur war between Israel and Syria.
1983 A truck filled with explosives, driven by a Moslem terrorist, crashes into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The bomb kills 237 Marines and injures 80. Almost simultaneously, a similar incident occurs at French military headquarters, where 58 die and 15 are injured.
1989 The Hungarian Republic replaces the communist Hungarian People's Republic.
1998 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat reach a "land for peace" agreement.
2002 Chechen terrorists take 700 theater-goers hostage at the House of Culture theater in Moscow.
2004 An earthquake in Japan kills 35, injures 2,200, and leaves 85,000 homeless or displaced.
2011 Libiyan National Transition Council declares the Libyan civil war is over.
2012 The world's oldest teletext service, BBC's Ceefax, ceases operation.

Non Sequitur


A 100 Facebook friends show up to defend bullied student

... and he even gets an apology

by Eric Pfeiffer
Halsey Parkerson stands in front of some of the 50 cars that showed up to his anti-bullying rally

A high-school bully decided to apologize after 100 Facebook users showed up to rally behind a boy he had accused of having no friends.

South Salem High School Junior Halsey Parkerson got a huge surprise on Friday, when more than 50 cars showed up at his school to help him stand up to a local bully.
KATU reports that on Thursday, Parkerson’s aunt had stopped by his school to have lunch with him. That’s when a bully began taunting Parkerson and saying it didn’t matter because he “didn’t have any friends.”
Parkerson told his aunt that it happened “all the time.” In response, she reached out to an online car club she belongs to on Facebook and asked people to show up to the school for lunch on Friday.
In response, more than 50 cars showed up, carrying at least 100 people. And KATU's
"It's just unbelievable," Parkerson told KATU. "I now know whenever I get bullied I'll raise my head up and say, 'Sorry, I have too many friends to think I'm being bullied.'"
And the story just gets better from there. When Parkerson and his new friends approached the unnamed bully, he offered Parkerson a high-five and an apology.
“I apologize,” the student, whose identity is being withheld, told Parkerson. “I apologize and I take it back.”
When the mass of cars first showed up at South Salem High School on Friday, Principal David Phelps was immediately alerted of the unusual incident. However, once he learned why all of the visitors had showed up, he decided to let the event continue.

A study from the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that a third of all students have experienced bullying in some form. An even as awareness over school bullying has risen in recent years, the news continues to see tragic stories of children and teens who have been bullied by classmates and peers. CNN reported that a day after an Illinois high school showed students a video on bullying a student committed suicide. When his Brad Lewis found his 15-year-old son's suicide note, he said his son said bullying had pushed him over the edge.
Since Friday, Parkerson said he has received an outpouring of support. On his Facebook page, he wrote:
“Thanks to everyone who was there with me and my family thanks also to the ones who could not make it by all you making a difference,” he wrote. “I truly mean it I’m tearing up thanks guys for standing up with me and helping me make a difference!!”
Parkerson said that while he’s grateful for the incredible show up support, he realizes it was not about him specifically. Rather, it was a public display meant to encourage anyone who is being bullied to seek out support.

"If you're being bullied, stand up and express yourself," Parkerson said. "This is one glorious day."

Did you know ...

That taxation is not theft; it's a cover charge for entry into civilization

About the effects of 'disaster capitalism'

That wingnuts react more strongly to insults than liberals

The Halloween costumes we are dreading

Ted Cruz Is Just the Figurehead of The Koch/DeMint Destroy Government Conspiracy

Ted Cruz is little more than a figurehead of a much larger conspiracy whose real leaders are teabaggers Charles and David Koch and Jim DeMint…
It is completely normal for human beings to focus their rage and anger at one person whom they feel assaulted them; especially if they think the person jeopardized their country’s economic health and shut down their government. It is doubtful there are many decent Americans who are not outraged at Ted Cruz for his role in the government shutdown, and it is likely he relishes the increased attention as conservatives’ messiah. Cruz appeared to be the de facto repugican leader who shut down the government and threatened a credit default as leverage to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, but the teabag hero was little more than a figurehead of a much larger conspiracy whose real leaders are teabaggers Charles and David Koch and Jim DeMint.
While Cruz-led repugicans are plotting their next fiscal crisis to avenge their failure to tank the economy unless the President and Democrats paid a ransom, the Koch brothers and DeMint have been waging a ferocious battle to take the health law down in the states as well as in Congress. Americans should make no mistake that repugicans and their masters the Kochs and Jim DeMint will go to any lengths to derail the health law, because when all is said and done, they intend to deprive Americans from having access to healthcare regardless the cost to the nation’s economy or the people they lust to dominate.
Americans have a two-and-a-half month respite until repugicans in Washington enact their next fiscal crisis to eliminate the health law, but Virginia residents are feeling the full effect of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity crusade to stop a key feature of the health law, Medicaid expansion, to deny poor Virginians access to healthcare. The primary target of the Koch-funded AFP is a long-time repugican tasked with leading a commission to decide if Virginia will expand Medicaid and provide the poorest residents with basic health care services. The man, repugican state senator Emmett W. Hanger Jr. reports he is coming under heavy fire from Americans for Prosperity and their army of operatives deployed to spread Koch propaganda that expanding Medicaid is tantamount to ceding America to Adolf Hitler.
Hanger said the Koch acolytes are waging what he called “an attempt to intimidate me in Richmond and at home,” and he reported that AFP operatives have telephoned his constituents, distributed leaflets, and knocked on 2,000 doors in his rural district to warn of the impending disaster if poor Virginians get access to healthcare. Hanger also said when the repugican town committee met Monday night in his home county, Augusta, Americans for Prosperity was there. On Tuesday, AFP field organizers bused in hundreds of volunteers in green shirts and provided Subway sandwiches for lunch as recompense for attending the Hanger-led commission hearing on the benefits of expanding Medicaid.
The president of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, said “This has been one of those trench warfare kind of efforts for a year now, and I think it is one of those hidden stories of the whole fight against Obamacare. It’s not flashy; it’s just in a whole bunch of state capitals and in the districts of a whole lot of state legislators, but it’s such a crucial aspect of the overall long-term effort to destroy Obamacare.” The war plans to go state-by state is a shift from co-conspirator Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation’s tactics that drove the shutdown and default effort in Washington DeMint said “will now be the issue for the next few years,” and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity concurred that Americans will be lambasted with anti-Obamacare propaganda for years. The Pennsylvania leader of AFP said “this is going to be an issue all through 2014 for us. I don’t believe this fight is in Washington or ever was. I think this is a street fight. It’s a man to man, so to speak, fight of going door to door.”
If Americans thought pundits’ assertions that repugicans are waging war for domination to hurt Americans were exaggerations, the language the Koch and Heritage acolytes use are war parlance. Trench warfare, fighting door-to-door, and street fighting are war terms that make the point that picking on hapless Ted Cruz as the be all, end all, target for his role to eliminate the healthcare reform law is erroneous. Without the money, fear-mongering, and electoral pressure from the Koch brothers and DeMint, it is likely more repugicans would abandon the seditious conspiracy to prevent, obstruct, or delay execution of an established law like the ACA. It is true the great majority of repugicans harbor enough hatred for the American people, especially poor American people, to drive their anti-healthcare crusade, but few of them would risk enraging voters with a shut down and credit default without the support, funding, and direction from Koch and DeMint’s anti-American organizations.
The effort to eliminate the established healthcare insurance reform law is a conspiracy, and not the act of one man or even one faction of the wingnut movement. Every repugican in Congress who voted to keep the United States government shut down and crash the economy are just as culpable as Cruz, the Kochs, and DeMint’s Heritage Foundation, and every last one deserves the people’s wrath because they were elected to help Americans, not keep them sick, shut down their government, or tank the economy.
The media and many pundits are wont to excuse incompetent Speaker John Boehner because he cannot rein in recalcitrant teabagger extremists in the House, but it was Boehner who allowed 40-plus votes to repeal the ACA that he asserted “was the law of the land” after President Obama’s re-election last November. It is important to remember that seditious conspiracy is two or more persons preventing, hindering, and obstructing execution of a United States law, and as such it means nearly all repugicans in Congress are guilty of a crusade that has no goal other than preventing Americans from having access to health care.
It is easy to focus on one man like Cruz as the culprit in the fight to eliminate the healthcare law, and he certainly is worthy of Americans’ rage for his role as spokesman and de facto leader of the anti-Obamacare movement, but losing sight of the effort’s real masterminds is why there is no public outcry against the Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, Jim DeMint, or the Heritage Foundation. In fact, in an unscientific survey over the past three weeks, only one person out of 22 had ever heard of the Koch brothers, AFP, Jim DeMint, or the Heritage Foundation and it is why they wield inordinate power over repugicans; they are virtually invisible to the public. There is no doubt whatsoever that if the American people knew who controlled repugicans in Congress and the states, and what their agenda for this country entails, they would abandon the repugican and teabag party en masse and frankly, that is the only scenario that is going to save this country and help all Americans have access to healthcare.

Ted Cruz Claims That The Left Is Threatening His Personal Safety

On CNN, Ted Cruz (r-TX) blamed the left for threats that he is getting to his and his family’s personal safety.
CNN Dana Bash put on her concerned face, and asked Cruz about threats to his personal safety. Cruz used his answer to suggest that the left was to blame for threats against his safety. Cruz said, “You know, some of that is a natural outgrowth of the animosity and venom. You know, I have to admit that I read Twitter daily, and I actually read a lot of those on the far left who are attacking me daily with incredible personal venom and nastiness. I think that’s really unfortunate. We should be able to treat each other with civility in public discourse. We should be able to treat each other with respect. I very consciously do not reciprocate the attacks that are launched my way, and in fact I don’t defend myself.”
Cruz then equated the left with a mentally ill person who threatened to murder Cruz, his father, and blow up the sun if he wasn’t given $3 million. Sen. Cruz was pulling a page straight out of the Sarah Palin playbook. Like Palin, Cruz claimed that threats were being made against both himself and his family. Cruz blamed attacks by the left for the threats.
Ted Cruz is trying to appeal to those tea party/evangelical repugicans by playing the martyr. Cruz always claims to be turning the other cheek, but this is all a big scam that the American people have seen before. Like Palin, Cruz is trying to take attention away from the criticism that he is getting from within his own cabal by constructing a threat to his physical safety from the left.
No one deserves to have their life threatened, but Cruz is promoting this adversarial environment by trying to deny access to healthcare to 30 million Americans. People are going to get angry when a sitting United States Senator tries to raise his political profile by lying about a law that will help and benefit millions of people. If Cruz wants to see more civility, he can start by telling the truth. Every lie that he tells about the ACA is another step towards harming civil discourse on healthcare.
Cruz claims he wants civil discourse and respect while he divides people by claiming that the left is attacking him with venom and nastiness. Cruz was asked generically about the threats that have been made against him, and he intentionally used his answer to plant the seeds of martyrdom in the minds of his supporters.
Ted Cruz is profiting from a fight that he picked, and a toxic environment that he created. Cruz is a more dangerous version of Sarah Palin, and he has got his eyes on a 2016 run at the White House.

Marco Rubio Says repugicans Will Kill Immigration Reform Because Obama Was Mean to Them

On Faux News Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio blamed President Obama refusal to cave to repugicans by gutting the ACA for his own party’s refusal to pass immigration reform.
Sen. Rubio said, “The president has undermined this effort, absolutely, because of the way he has behaved over the last three weeks…It’s my position as well that the House deserves the time and space to craft their own solution. Now, this notion that they’re going to get in a room and negotiate a deal with the president on immigration is much more difficult to do for two reasons. Number one, because of the way the president has behaved towards his opponents over the last three weeks as well as the White House and the things they’ve said and done, and number two, because of things I’ve outlined to you. So I certainly think that immigration reform is a lot harder to achieve today than it was just three weeks ago because of what’s happened here.”
In layman’s terms what Rubio was saying is that since President Obama was a big old meanie by refusing to give repugicans what they wanted, congressional Republicans are now going to punish the president and millions of immigrants in this country by refusing to pass immigration reform. The problem for Sen. Rubio is that the Senate already passed immigration reform. There isn’t much he can do in the Senate, but what he was referring to was the House repugican plan to “punish Obama” by not voting on immigration reform.
The best way for repugicans to continue to place their House majority is jeopardy is by refusing to vote on comprehensive immigration reform. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor won’t bring the comprehensive immigration reform bill to the House floor for a vote, because it would definitely pass.
Instead of a vote, they have chosen to hand President Obama and the Democrats a giant club to beat them over their heads with for the rest of this year and through the 2014 election. The strategy going forward for repugicans is clear. They are going to use the president’s refusal to give in to their demands of killing the ACA as an excuse not to vote on anything.
Congressional repugicans are refusing to do their jobs while still getting paid by the taxpayers. The strategy of blaming President Obama for their failure to do what the taxpayers are paying them for is almost as bad as Ted Cruz’s shutdown the government to kill Obamacare gambit.
The repugicans are just spinning their wheels. Congressional repugicans are still fighting a PR battle, when they have already lost the war, and they are steaming down a path giving Democrats control of the House.

The Threat of the religio-wingnuts is as old as christianity

Pagan Romans feared not a violent revolution but something far more sinister, a political coup exactly like we are seeing today …
Third century the proto-Orthodox christian scholar Origen went to a lot of effort to argue away second century Pagan critic Celsus’ portrayal of christians and christianity as one of anti-social seditionists bent on the destruction society, as a caricature of his movement.
Celsus’ book was called The True Doctrine (‘alethès logos). Celsus himself was a Pagan Roman intellectual and Platonist, and he was very concerned about the threat posed to his world, to his culture and society and to its families, by christianity.
Little is known of Celsus otherwise, and Origen, who produced his counter-polemic Contra Celsum (Against Celsus) in CE 248, or some 50-70 years after Celsus wrote, was able to learn little about him.
We know only that Celsus’ book was important enough and influential enough to pose a real threat in turn to the christian movement. Celsus painted a bleak picture of his era’s christians, saying that they suffer from the “disease of sedition.”
They refuse to serve in the military, he says, and also to hold political office, and when Celsus talks of sedition and revolution, he is not talking about a violent coup but a political coup, something far more sinister, something much more along the lines we have seen since the religio-wingnuts began to infiltrate and take control of the repugican cabal following Goldwater’s defeat.
Two other symptoms of christianity as Celsus identifies them are still readily apparent today in the religio-wingnuts: xenophobia and separatism. Celsus was also troubled by another element very familiar to us today: the idea that the earth was made for christians alone. “He has made us entirely like god,” they proclaim, “and all things have been put under us, earth, water, air, and stars; and all things exist for our benefit, and have been appointed to serve us…”
With thinking like this, it was perhaps no surprise that the christians felt that the cult was above the state, yet another cry we are familiar with today as we see the bible put above the Constitution time and again.
A low intellectual bar was something else noted by Celsus. “Let the stupid draw near!” was their appeal, he says. Their favorite expression are, he says, “Do not ask questions, just believe!” and “Your faith will save you!” More, he relates, the christians teach nothing new: “There is nothing new or impressive about their ethical teaching; indeed, when one compares it to other philosophies, their simplemindedness becomes apparent.” They are simpleminded, he says, because they will believe anything (again, one is reminded of the religio-wingnuts and the many bizarre claims they make on a daily basis).
Today’s teabangelicals (I am thinking of Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and others) sound very much like Celsus’ christians:
“Now I would not want to say,” Celsus writes,
that a man who got into trouble because of some eccentric belief should have to renounce his belief, or pretend that he has renounced it. But the point is this, and the christians would do well to heed it: One ought first to follow reason as a guide before accepting any belief, since anyone who believes without testing a doctrine is sure to be deceived.
“If only they would undertake to answer my question,” Celsus laments,
which I do not ask as one trying to understand their beliefs (there being little to understand!). But they refuse to answer, and indeed, discourage asking questions of any sort.” Instead, they prey on the ignorant and shy away from debate with the educated: “Make sure none of you obtains knowledge, for too much learning is a dangerous thing: knowledge is a disease of the soul, and the soul that acquires knowledge will perish.
Nor were early christians seen as embracing anything like family values; rather, they were family wreckers, said Celsus, infiltrating families and destroying them by turning children against fathers and luring away daughters; christianity is thus, believes Celsus, a rebellion against the state but against the very fabric of society and culture, and thus “harmful to the life of mankind.” They also attack the day’s education system, just as they attack today’s, calling it “corrupt” just as they call it corrupt today, because it does not teach those things christians want it to teach.
Celsus explains that “religious innovation stems from social causes,” which, as one modern scholar says, is “a perhaps surprisingly ‘modern’ and rationalist view’” and “quite common in classical religious, philosophical, and political thought.” We have certainly seen this with the religio-wingnuts and their manufactured culture war.
Celsus, writes this scholar, “depicts the christians as genuine enemies of humanity, a conscious conspiracy (at least on the part of its leaders) of the intellectually doltish, the socially inferior, and the morally bankrupt. The success of such a movement would spell the end of his civilization.”
Far from saving it, what Celsus believed is true today as well. The religio-wingnuts will not save our civilization but will destroy it, and for the same reasons. One wonders what Origen would say were he alive today to see what had become of his movement. The religio-wingnuts seem determined to make a mockery of Origen’s defense and make true Celsus’ accusations.
Origen said all christians should not be judged by the examples of a few, and this is certainly as true of christians as of any other group, a lesson the religio-wingnuts have forgotten in its xenophobic reactions to the religious Other, muslims especially, but also Pagans and historically, jews. It is, perhaps, no surprise that Origen himself became the Other after his death, when he was declared by the later orthodox church to be heretical.
The christians Celsus most feared were those who personal charismatic authority and prophecy and these christians today are those we also should most fear, the dominionists who drive the religio-wingnuts and the Sarah Palins and Ted Cruzes of the world. Celsus did not overstate the threat they represented to his world, for they did, in fact, destroy it, and we should not underestimate the threat they pose to ours.

Emerging Challenges

What's In Store for the New Global Powers

An Essay by Erich Follath
Emerging Challenges: What's In Store for the New Global Powers
China, India and Brazil are taking the global economy by storm, becoming more politically confident on their way. But even as they form a front against the West, they will have to tackle slower growth and major domestic problems that their newly prosperous citizens are no longer willing to tolerate.More

Ten Tell-Tale Signs You Have a Terrible Boss

by Vivian Giang
If you have a nightmare of a boss, oftentimes it will affect your life beyond office hours.
Merideth Ferguson, co-author of  a  study conducted by Baylor University, calls this the "spillover effect," meaning your work life also affects your marriage and other intimate relationships.
"Most people quit supervisors; they don't quit jobs," said Ferguson, assistant professor of management at Utah State University , in the study.
It's important to identify these signs before you get too involved, especially if you spot them during the job interview. This way you can decide if it's something you actually want to deal with.
Based on the book "Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots" by Vicky Oliver, we've compiled the top 10 signs your boss will eventually  crush all happiness you're clinging to.
1. Your boss is never, ever wrong.  Learning to admit that you're wrong is one of the best things you can do for your colleagues. If your boss refuses to admit that they're wrong, this means they're not willing to go out of their comfort zone for you.
2. Your boss expects you to be just like them. Most people like others who are similar to them.  But good bosses know that different types of personalities can improve their team. If your boss is constantly trying to cast their image onto everything you do, try following one or two of their suggestions and thank them for the rest. Stay true to your colors, but also show that you value your boss' suggestions.
3. They have a pesky habit of calling you on your day off. You put in your hours and get permission for a long weekend off, but your boss doesn't hesitate to call you during your off hours.  To deal with this kind of boss, Oliver says you need to set your boundaries early.
4. Your boss is a micro-manager. Is your boss so pushy and overbearing that you find yourself unable to accomplish anything efficiently? This may be a perpetual problem, so get ready for it early.
If they want a play-by-play of every meeting, email, and call, then take detailed notes of every business interaction and send them to your boss, suggests Oliver. Your boss will think that they're on top of things and will leave you alone.
5. Your boss constantly changes their mind. Does this sound familiar? In the morning, they tell you one thing. After lunch, it's a different story.
"Pick the [suggestion] that benefits you most and pursue that direction," Oliver advises. "Kick the habit of being dependent on him in the first place. Never ask for permission. Instead, simply inform him of your intentions. If he has a problem with any of your decisions, he'll let you know."
6. Their feedback isn't relevant. Do you feel like you've gained nothing after receiving feedback from your boss? Is it so vague that it's not helpful? Your boss may either be unsure of what to tell you, meaning they're not equipped for the job, or they don't want to tell you anything useful, says Oliver.
You boss could be withholding information in order to have some kind of advantage. This person is not a team player.
7. Your boss has favorites. This will cloud their ability to recognize your skills and the value you add to the company. They also fail to see that they're treating you unfairly.
8. Your boss hogs the limelight. Does your boss constantly use the word "I" when associating with success? Do they fail to invite you to meetings to present your own work?
They may be intentionally keeping you out of the limelight so that they can stay in it, warns Oliver.
9. They're quick to blame you for mistakes, but rarely express gratitude when you succeed. Does your boss put you down in front of others? If you let it go once, it'll happen over and over again. Good bosses know they should have this conversation with their employees in private.
Oliver suggests apologizing to your boss behind closed doors.
"While it may sound counterintuitive to apologize to someone for something that clearly wasn't your fault, amazing things happens when you can bring yourself to do so," she writes. "An intimate bond is forged. All you have to say is something akin to, 'I blame myself for your outburst earlier today. Clearly, I've been relying on you too much. If you have any issues with me, I'd appreciate hearing about them in the privacy of my office.'"
10. It's getting harder for you to wake up in the morning. If you have a knot in your gut every time you have to face your boss, or if it's taking you twice as long to drag yourself out of bed every morning, take notice. You may just have a terrible boss.

Police want to remind you that thrift stores can't resell your giant bags of weed

Seattle police want to remind everyone that thrift stores can't resell donated bags of marijuana.
The department put a notice on their website on Friday to helpfully remind the public of the rules after employees at a thrift store in North Seattle found a large bag of marijuana in the donation bin.

In the notice, police say: "Donating to thrift shops is a terrific way to give a second life to your well-loved Velcro sneakers, keyboards or flannel zebra jammies." However, they say tires, soiled mattresses, laptops and large bags of marijuana cannot be accepted.
A thrift store employee called police on Thursday afternoon to say he found a garbage bag containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana in the store's donation bin. An officer confiscated the marijuana and put it into evidence for destruction.

Teenager hit mother over the head with frying pan after she refused to let him use her Kindle

A 16-year-old boy hit his mother over the head with a frying pan after she refused to let him use her Kindle.

The assault occurred in Ballston, Virginia, according to the Arlington County Police Department.
Police have not released the child's name.

He was charged with malicious wounding and destruction of property.

Jail for bungling thief who threatened bookies with garden shears

A bungling robber who threatened terrified bookmaker staff with a pair of garden shears has been jailed for four and a half years. Leigh Barry, 28, was caught on CCTV trying to break security glass with first a brick, then a chair.
Barry, from Chelmsley Wood in Birmingham, grabbed a handful of pound coins from the counter, dropping most of them as he fled the store. Last week, he was jailed for 18 months over the botched raid. He was also handed a further three years due to his part in a bank robbery from June last year.

DCI Simon Wallis, from West Midlands Police, said: "Despite his relentless attempts to get through to the counter Barry clearly didn’t have the strength to break the glass and instead settled for a handful of pound coins. As he went to leave the dropped most of the coins and spent several minutes picking them off the floor.

"This clear CCTV footage made a very strong case against him and he pleaded guilty when he appeared at court. While his efforts may look ridiculous, he was clearly a violent offender and is no longer a danger to members of our communities."

Daily Comic Relief


Ponte City Tower

Ponte City, also called Ponte Tower, is a 54-story cylinder of apartments in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was built in 1975 as luxury housing. The 32,000-square-foot core of the building is open space, with windows facing inward from each apartment as well as outward. During apartheid, white families lived in the outer apartments, with windows overlooking the city, while their black servants lived facing the inner core.
The building, visible from all over the city, became an icon of the Johannesburg skyline. As the neighborhood declined, so did the building. Gangs moved in, and the site became a hub of drugs and prostitution in the 1990s. The building became dangerous, with three stories of garbage piled in the central core.
Investors evicted almost all the residents in 2007 to begin a massive renovation, but abandoned the project when the financial crisis hit. The original owners then took a second look and started their own redevelopment. After much work, Ponte Tower is once again a safe place for families and professionals to live, and more people apply for apartments every day.

China smog emergency shuts city of 11 million people

People ride along a street on a smoggy day in Daqing, Heilongjiang province, October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Choking smog all but shut down one of northeastern China's largest cities on Monday, forcing schools to suspended classes, snarling traffic and closing the airport, in the country's first major air pollution crisis of the winter.
An index measuring PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), reached a reading of 1,000 in some parts of Harbin, the gritty capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province and home to some 11 million people.
A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20.
The smog not only forced all primary and middle schools to suspend classes, but shut the airport and some public bus routes, the official Xinhua news agency reported, blaming the emergency on the first day of the heating being turned on in the city for winter. Visibility was reportedly reduced to 10 meters.
The smog is expected to continue for the next 24 hours.
Air quality in Chinese cities is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leadership because it plays into popular resentment over political privilege and rising inequality in the world's second-largest economy.
Domestic media have run stories describing the expensive air purifiers government officials enjoy in their homes and offices, alongside reports of special organic farms so cadres need not risk suffering from recurring food safety scandals.
The government has announced plans over the years to tackle the pollution problem but has made little apparent progress.
Users of China's popular Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site reacted with both anger and bitter sarcasm over Harbin's air pollution.
"After years of effort, the wise and hard-working people of Harbin have finally managed to skip both the middle-class society and the communist society stages, and have now entered a fairyland society!" wrote on user.
Other parts of northeastern China also experienced severe smog, including Tangshan, two hours east of Beijing, and Changchun, the capital of Jilin province which borders Heilongjiang.
Last week, Beijing city released a color-coded alert system for handling air pollution emergencies, to include the temporary halt of construction, factory production, outdoor barbeques and the setting off of fireworks.
Beijing suffered its own smog emergency last winter when the PM2.5 surpassed 900 on one particularly bad day in January.

The Exception

How Denmark Saved Its Jews from the Nazis

by Gerhard Spörl
The Exception: How Denmark Saved Its Jews from the Nazis
Denmark was the only European country to save almost all of its Jewish residents from the Holocaust. After being tipped off about imminent roundups by prominent Nazis, resisters evacuated the country's 7,000 Jews to Sweden by boat. A new book examines this historical anomaly.  More

The Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties is an interactive project dedicated to attempting to recreate for its listeners not just the sound of the past but also its sonic culture. It offers a sonic time machine; an interactive multimedia environment whereby site visitors can not just hear, but mindfully listen to, the noises of New York City in the late 1920s, a place and time defined by its din.

A 155 Years Before The First Animated Gif, Joseph Plateau Set Images In Motion With The Phenakistoscope

Nearly 155 years before CompuServe debuted the first animated gif in 1987, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau unveiled an invention called the Phenakistoscope, a device that is largely considered to be the first mechanism for true animation. The simple gadget relied on the persistence of vision principle to display the illusion of images in motion.

Battle of Nations

Leipzig Preps for Huge Reenactment

Battle of Nations: Leipzig Preps for Huge Reenactment
Six thousand historical reenactors clad in 19th-century military garb will descend on Leipzig this weekend to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Nations, which proved a crucial turning point in the German fight against Napoleon. More


Russian Ambassador Slams Wartime Rape Sculpture

'Pseudo-Art': Russian Ambassador Slams Wartime Rape Sculpture
The brief appearance of a concrete sculpture in Gdansk last Saturday depicting a Red Army soldier raping a pregnant woman has sparked ire on both the Polish and Russian sides. Now the artist could be facing two years in prison. More

Man Told to Tone Down His Halloween Decorations Because They Made a Child Cry

Since 2009, James Creighton of Stevenage, UK has decorated his house for Halloween. He’s very serious about the work and uses it to raise funds for a charity. This year, he re-created a scene from classic horror movie The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, complete with disemboweled corpses that you can view here.
It was, perhaps, a bit much. Police informed him that they had received a complaint that it was too horrifying for neighborhood children. The officers asked Mr. Creighton to put a black tarp around his fence to block the line of sight of children passing by. He’s annoyed:
"I was shocked - more to the point that the parent couldn't come to the door themselves and speak to me personally, but had to get the police involved and waste their time.
"Police have asked me to put black tarpaulin along the fence so the kids can't see it, but why should I do that? It ruins the whole rest of the display for everyone else.
"All the other kids love it. It is just this one who doesn't like it.
"It is a bit gruesome, it's a bit gory, but that is Halloween, it is meant to be fun and scary. It is all for a good cause."
I can understand his frustration, but perhaps Mr. Creighton should take the complaint as a mark of pride. It’s not easy to create a Halloween display that terrifying.

This Enormous Portrait Covers 11 Acres

At 11 acres in area, this portrait of a youngster in Belfast is the largest in the United Kingdom. It’s entitled “Wish.” Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, an American artist, composed it for an annual festival in that city. He and his crew used GPS transponders to lay out 30,000 wood makers, then earthmovers to arrange 4,000 tons of soil, sand and glass. The entire project took 4 weeks to complete.
Gerada, who is the festival’s artist-in-residence, says that “Wish” reflects his experiences with the city. He told the Belfast Telegraph:
"Getting to know the city on multiple trips and letting the creative flow helped bring the image to me of what I wanted to do.
"I told them it was going to be based on what kind of feedback we got from the city.
"This is not a project I wanted to do based on throwing money at it, but based on a collaboration with the city, using different entities within the city, from major construction companies like McLaughlin Harvey to the fire brigade.
"It's a very large mix, a lot of people, a lot of volunteers, a lot of really dedicated workers that gave a month of their time."
You’ll need a helicopter to see the work for yourself. In the meantime, you can view more photos here.

Retro Photos



The yellow Cadillac, 1956. 

Let’s go for a spin!
The yellow Cadillac, 1956.

Which Came First ...

The Rain or the Rainforest?

Here's a question I'd never thought to ponder before: which came first, the rainforest or the rain? One would suppose there was rain before the rainforest appeared, but was it as much as a rainforest normally gets? MinuteEarth explains the cycle of water moving through a tropical forest, and what happened millions of years ago to kickstart this cycle. However, mankind is doing extensive damage to the rainforest, which is already showing signs of disrupting the water cycle that was establioshed so long ago. This may have implications for global weather in the years to come. 

Farmer ordered to tear down building housing protected bats faces prosecution if she does so

A farm owner is on the verge of ruin after being prosecuted by the council for failing to tear down an outbuilding - but facing criminal charges if she does as it is home to protected bats. Jenny Burner and her husband Graham have been locked in a battle with their local council for six years over a structure at their farm in Loddiswell, Devon, which is several feet larger than they have permission for. But if they comply with the council’s demands to take it down they face criminal prosecution and up to six months in prison for destroying the habitat of the brown long eared bat.
She pleaded guilty to breach of a planning enforcement order earlier this week, and was ordered to pay £11,000. In desperation she called police after the case, but was advised not to touch the roost. Mrs Burner, who said that they are facing financial ruin and the case has put a strain on their relationship, said: “Things are about to come to a really sticky end. We can't cope with this." The bats can only legally be moved if a licence is granted by Natural England, as their habitat is protected under European law. However, one of the conditions is that a suitable alternative is provided, and the Burners’ say they have been unable to get planning permission from the council for a new home for the roost.
Mr Burner, 53, claims that he built the building to the wrong specifications as he is dyslexic. It stands at 20 ft by 30ft, 2ft larger each way than their planning permission allows. They use the building, originally built as a dairy, to incubate chicks as there are around 5,000 birds on the farm. He said: “With brown long eared bats you can’t use bat boxes, you have to have a large space like a roof. We can’t get planning permission so we can’t get a license. We have got nowhere to go it looks like every year we have got to get a large fine and a summons to court and we can’t do anything about it because the council won’t do their side. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we weren’t animal lovers, the bats are brilliant.”

A spokesperson for South Hams District Council said: “The dairy building has become a non-breeding summer roost for common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and brown long eared bats. To remove the building in compliance with the Enforcement Notice Mrs Burner will have to obtain a European Protected Species License from Natural England to destroy the bats roost.” Devon and Cornwall police confirmed that Mrs Burner contacted them and “she was advised that if she did take the bats roost down there would be a likelihood of prosecution by police”. Removing the roost carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a £5,000 fine, while breaching an enforcement notice leaves a person liable to an unlimited fine.

Storytime at the Library Features a Real Alligator

Children’s Librarian Susan Scatena of the Whitestone branch of the public library system of Queens, New York promised her kids something amazing: if the 300 children registered with the summer reading program read at least 4,000 books, she would read a story to an alligator. And not to a stuffed animal version, but a real alligator.
The kids reached that goal and Ms. Scatena kept her word. Last September, before an audience of hundreds of children and one alligator, she read Mercer Mayer’s There’s an Alligator under My Bed. Wally, a five-foot long alligator, and her handler, Eric Callendar, listened attentively.
Do you see anything wrapped around Wally’s mouth to act as a muzzle? I don’t.

That Researcher With a Nematode in His Mouth

Warning: this story might make sensitive people a little queasy. Jonathan D. Allen is an invertebrate biologist, so when he started noticing a rough patch in his mouth moving around, he knew it was a parasite inside his cheek. He documented the symptoms he observed as well as you would expect a trained scientist to, and went to his doctor, who referred him to an oral surgeon.
Referring back to the paper: “Upon presenting the oral surgeon with photographic evidence (Figure 1A and B) and a detailed description and preliminary diagnosis of gongylonemiasis, the surgeon disputed the patient’s self-diagnosis, claiming this was simply normal discoloration of the skin.”

Referring back to my notes: “My jaw just dropped,” Allen said. But he couldn’t change the surgeon’s mind. “I said, ‘Look, I study these things for a living’. And he said, ‘Well, I look in people’s mouths every day.” The scientist and surgeon did not part on a happy note. “I paid my co-pay and left. It was totally depressing.”

And he stayed depressed – “I’d lost faith in the medical profession” – until he woke up about 3 a.m. the following morning. The spot had moved toward the front of his mouth again. He realized could remove the worm himself.
Which is exactly what he did, with the assistance of his wife. Then Allen preserved the specimen and got a colleague to run a DNA test to see if it was the nematode genus Gongylonema, as he suspected. Now, I debated posting a picture of the parasite that came out of the lining of Allen's mouth, and decided against it, but you will see it at Wired, where you can read the entire sequence of events.

Animal Pictures