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

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
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Today in History

1415 An English army under Henry V defeats the French at Agincourt, France. The French had out numbered Henry's troops 60,000 to 12,000 but British longbows turned the tide of the battle.
1760 George III of England crowned.
1854 During the Crimean War, a brigade of British light infantry is destroyed by Russian artillery as they charge down a narrow corridor in full view of the Russians.
1916 German pilot Rudolf von Eschwege shoots down his first enemy plane, a Nieuport 12 of the Royal Naval Air Service over Bulgaria.
1923 The Teapot Dome scandal comes to public attention as Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, subcommittee chairman, reveals the findings of the past 18 months of investigation. His case will result in the conviction of Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, and later Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall, the first cabinet member in American history to go to jail. The scandal, named for the Teapot Dome oil reserves in Wyoming, involved Fall secretly leasing naval oil reserve lands to private companies.
1940 German troops capture Kharkov and launch a new drive toward Moscow.
1944 The Japanese are defeated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the world's largest sea engagement. From this point on, the depleted Japanese Navy increasingly resorts to the suicidal attacks of Kamikaze fighters.
1950 Chinese Communist Forces launch their first-phase offensive across the Yalu River into North Korea.
1951 In a general election, England's Labour Party loses to Conservatives. Winston Churchill becomes prime minister, and Anthony Eden becomes foreign secretary.
1954 President Eisenhower conducts the first televised Cabinet meeting.
1958 The last U.S. troops leave Beirut.
1960 Martin Luther King, Jr., is sentenced to four months in jail for a sit-in.
1962 Adlai Stevenson shows photos to the UN Security Council that prove Soviet missiles have been installed in Cuba.
1962 In South Africa, civil rights activist Nelson Mandela is sentenced to 5 years in prison.
1971 United Nations expels the Republic of China and seats the People's Republic of China.
1983 1,800 U.S. troops and 300 Caribbean troops land on Grenada. U.S. forces soon turn up evidence of a strong Cuban and Soviet presence–large stores of arms and documents suggesting close links to Cuba.
1991 The last soldiers of the Yugoslav People's Army leaves the Republic of Slovenia.
2009 Terrorist bombings in Baghdad kill over 150 and wound over 700.

Want Your Youngest Child to Achieve?

Treat Him Like He's Your Oldest

by Sarah B. Weir
A new study indicates that first-born children perform better in school and also suggests why. It's not that they are smarter or have higher self-esteem, but that their parents are tougher on them. "People shouldn't feel limited because they are the second or third child," V. Joseph Host of Duke University, tells Yahoo Shine. "Yes, there are birth order patterns to what we accomplish, but these accomplishments are influenced by many different factors, including how we are raised by our parents." Host co-authored the paper with Juan Patano of Washington University.
The authors, who are both economists, looked at data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which surveyed more than 12,000 participants. The study controlled gender, divorce, family size, and other factors that might have influenced the outcomes. They found that parents of earlier-born children were harder on them when they brought home poor grades than they were with later-born children. Parents were also more lax with their rules for their younger kids when it came to television watching, video games, and other activities that might diminish time dedicated to homework. The study found that the oldest child in a family of four is significantly more likely to "face daily homework monitoring relative to the last born in that family." As a result, oldest children were more likely to be at the top of their classes and the youngest more likely to be at the bottom. What's also interesting is that the survey found that parents took a tougher approach because they were trying to establish their reputation as a disciplinarian. Once they felt their tough-love style had been established with the first child, they had the tendency to slack off.
Susan Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, says she appreciates the study's approach because it's focusing on the role of the parent rather than something intrinsic to a child. "There is so much that's written on birth order that seems very deterministic," she tells Yahoo Shine. "There is the tendency for parents to assume that the oldest is going to be better in school, so they put that expectation on them."
The fascination with birth order and its effect on personality and success goes back more than 100 years, when Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, first theorized that birth order has an inherent role in shaping personality and classified characteristics of first-, second-, and last-born children as well as only children and twins. To simplify, he characterized oldest children as attention seekers who were confused about their place after being usurped by their siblings. Middle children were competitive and in their adult lives needed to feel superior because they had successfully won their parents' attention and also had authority over their younger siblings. As for youngest children, he described them as being overprotected and prone to feeling inferior.
Since Adler's era, there have been more than 1,000 scholarly articles and many books published on the topic. The result of such intense interest is that today, the idea of birth-order-influenced traits has become codified – almost like one's zodiac sign. At the same time, because people believe so strongly in the significance of birth order, they impose stereotypes on their children, which become self-fulfilling. The eldest is pushed to be a high achiever, the youngest is babied, and so on.
A 2012 review looked at 200 studies on the topic and found that certain themes did emerge in defining the characteristics of people depending on when they were born. According to their tabulation of the data:
First-born children are often highly motivated, Type A personalities who are vulnerable to stress. They are the most conformist and influenced by authority.
Middle children are sociable and least prone to "acting out." They can also exhibit feelings of being an outsider.
Youngest children show the highest degree of sociability and empathy. They are also the most rebellious.

Only children have a strong need to achieve, are intelligent, and exhibit the most behavioral problems.
But, Whitbourne stresses that birth order is not destiny. She encourages parents to look at their own biases and nurture each of their individual children's strengths. That might mean letting your eldest child's grades slide on occasion and telling your youngest to turn off the TV and hit the books.


Matthew says: "The TSA is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases, including records such as car registrations and employment information." From the New York Times:
At the heart of the expanded effort is a database called the Automated Targeting System, which is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and screens travelers entering the United States.
Data in the Automated Targeting System is used to decide who is placed on the no-fly list — thousands of people the United States government has banned from flying — and the selectee list, an unknown number of travelers who are required to undergo more in-depth screening, like Mr. Darrat. The T.S.A. also maintains a PreCheck disqualification list, tracking people accused of violating security regulations, including disputes with checkpoint or airline staff members.
When I flew out of Burbank to Oakland on Sunday, the agent at the ID/boarding pass station had a mobile computer that he used to look up my information. It was the first time I'd seen something like this.

Tourism in Iran

With its ancient ruins, glittering mosques and spectacular landscapes, Iran is home to some of the world's cultural treasures, but ever since the 1979 revolution, these have largely remained unseen by international tourists... Now, however, the new administration of Hassan Rouhani is taking steps to open up Iran to foreigners in an effort to improve its international image after the gloomy years under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and to bring in much-needed foreign currency to an economy reeling from years of sanctions...

Chinese tourists are a priority. "World figures show that China sends more tourists to visit other countries than anywhere else," Najafi said. "With help from our embassy in China, we have spoken to Chinese tourism officials and we have invited a number of them to come to Iran."..

Brandon Stanton, an American citizen who travelled to Iran last year, attracted attention on returning home by posting an itinerary, along with pictures of Iran, on the Human of New York photo blog.

"Americans are especially loved," he wrote with astonishment. "This was noted in every travel account that I read, and I can confirm the fact. You will be smiled at, waved at, invited to meals, and asked to deliver personal messages to Jennifer Lopez. American music, movies, and media are thoroughly consumed by the people of Iran."

Amos Chapple, a photographer from New Zealand who has visited Iran on a number of times, said the Iran he saw was utterly different from the one represented in the west. "Every traveller I met felt the same way: they had arrived expecting hostility and danger, but ended up amongst the most cosmopolitan and generous people in the Middle East," he said.

"Having visited three times it's just heartbreaking to see what damage the sanctions are doing to ordinary people who have nothing but goodwill towards America."

Hey, here's a thought ...

Did you know ...

Here's 8 crazy facts about the brain

A scholar proves jesus was a Roman hoax

The tea party deep pockets group freedom works is in financial trouble

There 2 Mr. Rogers movies are in the works

The First Shots of the repugican Civil War Have Been Fired

Bring on the Insanity

Anyone who’s been following politics for the last few years had to see this coming.  Since the tea party burst onto the scene, the wingnut radicals of the repugican cabal have been frothing at the mouth to take over the repugican cabal.
The tea party was originally embraced as a PR stunt to try to “rebrand” the repugican cabal following eight years of a disastrous shrub junta. It was also the racist response to America’s first black president. Sure, most repugicans will never admit either of these things, but make no mistake, those two issues were the driving forces behind why the tea party was pushed so heavily by wingnuts.
But now that they’ve unleashed the monster, they don’t know what to do with it.  And the fact is, I don’t know if there’s anything they can do.  The tea party has incredible funding.  Not only does it have the funding, but tea party repugicans are often the die-hard voters that turn out in large numbers during primary season.
Meaning that many of the repugican candidates for president or congressional seats will have to appeal to these wingnut radicals the tea party has energized.
And there’s the problem for repugicans.  See, tea party policies are extremely popular with the far-right base that often determines which candidate will represent the repugican cabal in the general election.  However, these radical candidates don’t often appeal to the majority of Americans.
The recent shutdown is a prime example of this.  While many repugicans actually supported the shutdown, the vast majority of Americans not only rejected it—they blamed repugicans for it.
Even before the shutdown began you had repugicans calling the whole idea of shutting down our government foolish.  And even in the face of indisputable reality that the shutdown wouldn’t be successful in defunding “Obamacare,” tea party repugicans continued to insist that they wouldn’t support reopening the government unless it included gutting “Obamacare.”
See, when it comes to tea party repugicans, they really don’t care about reality.  These people live in a world where what they want to be real is more important than what’s actually real.  Who cares if the Affordable Care Act was deemed Constitutional?  They don’t feel that it is—therefore it’s unconstitutional.
Who cares if President Obama was overwhelmingly reelected by the majority of Americans?  They don’t like him.  Therefore any and all actions to oppose him are acceptable.  I really believe that these people would rather see our nation collapse into the abyss if it meant defeating President Obama on something—anything.
See, according to the tea party, President Obama is “destroying the United States!”  So, I guess it’s okay for them to do it—-to stop him from doing it?  Because that makes perfect sense.
Even many repugicans can’t reason with these people.  Many long-tenured repugicans are having to pander to the tea party out of fear of facing a primary challenger and losing their seat in Congress.
That’s why people like Ted Cruz are so dangerous for the repugican cabal — because repugicans love him. The repugican cabal is at risk of being torn apart by its own ignorance.  The tea party-backed politicians like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul can spout off whatever nonsense they want, all of which is completely fictional, and as long as it sounds like something tea party voters want to hear—it’s going to gain them support.
It doesn’t even matter if what they’re saying or doing is disastrous nationally for the party as a whole — they don’t care because it’s good for them.
Because no politician is safer in their position right now than a tea party-backed wingnut in a “strongly repugican” part of the United States. 

Which is great for them, but disastrous for repugicans in more moderate districts and states which face voters that aren’t wingnut radicals.  Someone like Ted Cruz can pretty much say whatever asinine statement he wants because his Senate seat is safe.  He doesn’t care that his statements, when published nationally, make the repugican cabal look terrible.  His behavior and actions boost his standing with the tea party, but they make his entire party look like a group of out of touch radicals determined to divide and destroy our country.  And he’s perfectly fine with that.
So while repugicans like John McCain or Jeb Bush make comments alluding to the need for the repugican cabal to “calm down” or “move on” (both comments obviously directed at people like Ted Cruz), it doesn’t matter to the tea party fringe.  Their seats are safe.  It just emboldens them to act even crazier and get even more accolades from the majority of delusional voters in their districts and states.
And right now, you’re seeing the first real shots being fired within the repugican cabal.  The tea party repugicans built on unwavering support from their radical base vs. more moderate repugicans that see the bigger picture nationally for their cabal.
Because while I never agree with repugicans like McConnell, McCain or Boehner—they know these tea party antics are a threat to their party.  Our government can’t function with an “all or nothing” approach to governing, forced on us by people who live in a wingnut land of make believe.
But that’s how the tea party operates.  They see “negotiation” as them saying, “This is what we want—or else.”  In short, they don’t negotiate—they use blackmail, extortion and hostage-taking tactics to try to force the opposition to do what they want.
Doubt me?  Just look at what they do to members of their own party.  There’s already talk of tea party operatives working to find tea party-backed challengers to defeat current repugican cabal members of Congress who voted to reopen the government.  Those wingnuts didn’t give in to their demands, so they’re threatening to find “real wingnuts” who will.
And this is only going to get worse for the repugican cabal.  Unless moderate repugicans in the cabal find some kind of large system of financial support to combat tea party radicals, their cabal is doomed.
Because make no mistake, the civil war within the repugican cabal has already started.  It’s going to be messy, it’s going to be ugly and it’s going to shake the entire cabal to its very core.
And at the end of the day, the whole ordeal will simply reek of irony.  The tea party, a mechanism meant to lift their party to new prominence after eight years of failed shrub policies, becoming the very thing that destroys the cabal from within.
While I’m not 100% certain how it’s all going to go down, I do know one thing for sure — it’s only going to intensify drastically heading into next year’s midterm elections.

Glenn Beck Vows to Destroy Muslim-Lover Grover Norquist

Beck says he will reveal the "background and workings" of Norquist and this is "just the beginning." Oooooh. Beckian ominous with icing on top…
Beck Gaffney Horowitz 
Wing Nut Daily, clearing house of conspiracy theories and the loons that subscribe to them, dished out the dirt yesterday on the new feud brewing between two tea party favorites: wacko Glenn Beck and wacko Grover Norquist.
Remember now, before we proceed, that just the other day, as Mother Jones reported, “Glenn Beck Show Claims Tea Partiers Are Better at Science—But Mangles the Research.” Glenn Beck says tea partiers are smart folks. There is no doubt the people backing and funding the tea party are as sinisterly clever as any plotters in history. But Glenn Beck is clearly no mastermind.
Here is what happened: Norquist made the mistake of criticizing Ted Cruz. Remember when he told Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog that Cruz had ‘pushed House repugicans into traffic and wandered away’? And it’s not that Norquist has a hard-on because Cruz refused to sign his tax pledge. Cruz did sign it and Norquist duly patted him on the head. This is about Cruz co-opting the fight against Obamacare. Norquist wanted negotiations. Cruz instead took hostages and issued demands.
Glenn Beck, who loves him some Ted Cruz, now wants to destroy Grover Norquist. But if Beck is the self-appointed patron saint of the tea party, Norquist is its ideological heart. A haters gonna hate but how’s he even such an accomplished hater as Glenn Beck going to pull this one off?
Well, so the Beckian reasoning goes, Norquist is a muslim lover and in the muslim Brotherhood’s hip pocket and therefore ripe for destruction at the hands of the muslim-hating tea party. And oh no, Grover Norquist is a “repugican cabal insider” says WND. You know what that means. There aren’t many dirtier words than “insider” in the tea party lexicon.
Tea party time!
It’s rather humorous that Democrats would have loved to found a way all this time to destroy Grover Norquist and couldn’t, and now the party that can’t is going to do it for us if Beck has his way.
So on his television show Monday, Glenn Beck revealed that he agrees with the left about Norquist. He said that he will reveal the “background and workings” of the founder of Americans for Tax Reform and that this is “just the beginning.” Oooooh. Beckian ominous with icing on top.
With Beck were the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney, the man behind Michele Bachmann’s obsession with the muslim Brotherhood, and Daniel Greenfield of the David Horowitz Freedom Center,which is working with Breitbart to start a sort of wingnut MediaMatters, except one that tells lies instead of reveals facts.
“[Norquist] is the guy responsible for a lot of the muslim Brotherhood stuff that goes on in the White House, isn’t he?” Beck asked his co-conspirators.
“Glenn, I think most people who know Grover only as a prominent anti-tax guy in the wingnut movement would find that statement unbelievable, and to be honest with you I would’ve, but for the fact that I saw it first-hand as a result of sharing office space for what I think of seven biblically long years with Grover Norquist,” answered noted islamophobe and conspiracy theorist Gaffney.
It is important to put Gaffney’s words in context. If Norquist does not exactly inspire trust, think about Gaffney, who the Southern Poverty Law Center refers to as “the anti-muslim movement’s most paranoid propagandist.” So think about what he says next:
“I saw terrorists in his office space. I had colleagues come to me and say, ‘You know there’s a muslim Brotherhood front operating out of his office suite?’”
Uh oh…
“It was called the islamic Free Market Foundation, or Institute,” Gaffney continued, saying it is more commonly known as simply the islamic Institute. “This was an operation that was created by a man who’s now serving time in federal prison for terrorism by the name Abdurahman Alamoudi.”
This sordid little episode is part of the ongoing war between extremists and the repugican establishment, as Beck made clear with his closing:
Greenfield later added: “If you were a freedom guy, then why would he be backing an ideology associated with a complete totalitarian regime? Why would he be backing the…misfortunes of the conservative movement? And why would he be doing everything possible to undermine the possibility that the repugican cabal can back a freedom-based agenda?”
Beck concluded by saying this is a “complex issue,” but that it is time that somebody takes on the “establishment repugicans” and tell you “exactly who’s who.”
“If you’re for the Constitution, I don’t care if you’re a liberal or a Democrat or a repugican and a wingnut, I don’t really care, if you’re for the Constitution of the United States of America,” Beck said. “That’s our dividing line, and there are too many in the repugican cabal, so let’s clean out our own house first.”
In response, Norquist emailed Wing Nut Daily and said “This is old and sad.” He didn’t seem particularly worried about being targeted by Beck for destruction, but then Beck said that you “don’t ever take this guy on unless you’re prepared.”
Norquist revealed that he had tried to help Gaffney when the shrub stole the presidency, gave him office space and “introduced him to folks.” In return, Gaffney accuses him of consorting with terrorists on 9/11 and “also says I am gay.”
“I have ignored [this] sad person and his self-absorbed conspiracy theories that revolve around himself.
“Say a prayer for Frank. No one deserves his troubles.”
So WND asked Gaffney to respond and Gaffney duly emailed that
Grover’s deflections, refusal to answer direct questions and falsehoods are typical of his response to date to very serious, factually based concerns about his past and continuing conduct with and on behalf of islamists.
Oh dear.
WND goes on to point out that,
Charges that Norquist is aiding and abetting radical Muslim leaders have come from members of Congress as well as other prominent critics of radical Islam.
In 2011, Rep. Frank Wolf, r-Va., denounced Norquist from the House floor for “unsavory” connections, including ties to Alamoudi and Al-Arian. Wolf also pointed to Norquist’s support for the Ground Zero mosque and his advocacy for transferring Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil.
“Simply put, I believe Mr. Norquist is connected with or has profited from a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream,” said Wolf.
“Documentation shows that he has deep ties to supporters of Hamas and other terrorist organizations that are sworn enemies of the United States and our ally Israel.”
Norquist, at the time, called Wolf’s speech a “hissy fit” and “a compilation of whack job criticisms,” arguing the congressman is one of only six Republican members of the U.S. House who has refused to sign ATR’s no-tax pledge.
One thing is clear: there is a lot of whack-jobbery in the repugican cabal but the repugican cabal did this to itself by making whack-jobbery a job prerequisite.
They say of professional sports teams that you never know just how good a team is until you have seen it react to adversity. Keeping in mind that sports teams are generally not composed of whack-jobs, that if that adage holds true in politics, then we have seen the true measure of the repugican cabal, and it’s not pretty.

Faux Used Fake IDs to Plant Talking Points on Critics’ Websites

What normal people call trolling, Faux calls P.R.

If you read the comment sections during the early days of internet news sites and blogs, you recognize the trolls.  In the early days, trolls dropped their list of talking points regardless of relevance to the topic.  They were prolific and argumentative.  It’s as if they either had no life or trolling was their job because they were always there. Chances are that if you encountered a troll singing the praises of Faux news, trolling was their job.
According to David Folkenblick, author of Murdoch’s World, Faux’s P.R. department had trolls on the payroll from the mid to late 00′s.  Former trolls for Faux told Folkenblick they used a variety of tactics to avoid being traced back to Faux.  They set up wireless broadband accounts, used dial up and old computers to that end. One of Faux’s former trolls told Folkenblick they used 20 fake accounts and another confessed to using 100 aliases to sing the praises of Faux on blogs and at websites that has less than positive things to say about the propaganda arm of the repugican cabal.
On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Faux PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Faux comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Faux rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Faux News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.  [Murdoch's World, pg. 67]
Although it’s unclear if Faux’s troll department continues to exist today, they remain appealing as tools for the wingnut’s powers that be.
The Koch brothers’ funded tea party hopes to use trolls as part of their on-going battle to deny people access to healthcare. In fact, they’ve turned trolling the ACA website’s live chat into a contest with cash and prices  for the “most shocking government response; funniest” and best uses of tolling.
You’ve conquered entire Facebook pages and gotten semi-celebrities to bite on Twitter, but are you ready to troll the biggest target of them all?” he writes. “If you said yes then get ready because it’s you versus the government and this time there are prizes to be won!
The Daily Beast reports that Stockton tried to downplay the troll strategy during his interview with them.
Stockton seemed rather pleased with the attention his trolling for prizes contest is getting from the press. “So far so good as far as generating press hopefully we’ll be able to get more attention throughout the week as we get closer to awarding the prizes!”
It could be said that trolling isn’t what it used to be when it qualified as a job at Faux. But then, desperate extremists whose support has collapsed are left with scraping the bottom of the barrel for brick bats

Hypnotized Parrots

British Words That Mean Something Totally Different In The U.S

In the United States they speak the same language as in Great Britain, but they don't always speak it the same way. Here are 20 words that have pretty different meanings in Great Britain than they do in the U.S.

How To Say Cheese In Other Languages

Cheese is the great uniter. Cheese brings together people from all walks of life. Cheese does not discriminate. Cheese is love! How to say cheese in 21 other languages. Dutch is not included in the list. But if you want to know, it's 'kaas.'

New world record set for most people on fire at the same time

A group of Cleveland, Ohio, residents set themselves on fire on Saturday, setting a new world record while raising money for charity at the same time. Twenty-one people were set on fire to break the Guinness World Record of the most people performing full-body burns.
The previous record was set in 2009 when 17 people were simultaneously set on fire. "We take a lot of heat in Cleveland as the Burning River City," said John Gadd, CEO of Hotcards, a Cleveland-based printing company that sponsored the event.
Participants wore multiple layers of special gel-soaked clothing to protect themselves from the flames in the event that took place along the banks of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland. A representative from Guinness World Records was on hand to certify the results.

"Oh, it was amazing, like the energy of the crowd was great," Beth Hayden, one of the participants said. "It felt really, really good. It was really great to be here with new friends, old friends all on fire together." Proceeds from the event go to the Cleveland Food Bank and Brick by Brick Organization,which is run by a Cleveland minister and burner, Mark Simone.

High times as majority in U.S. now want pot legalized

by Eric Pfeiffer  
Support for marijuana legalization has surged since 2000 According to the latest Gallup survey, 58 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Gallup says the poll culminates a year of “unprecedented success” for marijuana advocates and is almost certainly the harbinger of future legalization efforts. Support for legalization has climbed more than 10 percent in the past year alone.
“Whatever the reasons for Americans' greater acceptance of marijuana, it is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States,” Gallup says in its analysis of the poll.
And as Gallup points out, the 58 percent support for legalization is a stark contrast to the group's first legalization poll in 1969, in which only 12 percent of respondents said they favored making marijuana legal.
Gallup also found that 38 percent of respondents said they had personally tried marijuana at some point.
The largest area of growth has been among independent voters, 62 percent of whom now say they support legalization. Sixty-five percent of self-identified Democrats say they also support legalization. Republicans remain the only significant voting block opposed to legalization with just 35 percent support such an effort.
There is a also a direct correlation between legalization support and age, with voters over 65 representing the only age block opposed to legalization. Fifty-three percent of voters 65 and older say they oppose legalization, compared with just 31 percent of voters aged 18 to 29.
An August memo from U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated that the federal government will not attempt to interfere with Washington and Colorado’s efforts to implement marijuana legalization laws passed by state voters.
That decision recently was criticized by Craig T. Steckler, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Steckler used his introduction of Attorney General Eric Holder at a public address this week to criticize the administration’s stance on marijuana laws.
"We have entered a slippery slope that will be hard to turn away from," Steckler said, adding that his organization’s relationship with the Justice Department was akin to a “contentious marriage.”
While not directly responding to the policy criticisms, Holder did joke in his response, “"We may need marriage counseling."
Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing medicinal marijuana use for patients who receive written permission from a doctor.
Several states are planning legalization ballot initiatives set for 2014, including California, Alaska, Arizona and Oregon. Other states, including Rhode Island and Hawaii, are planning legalization initiatives for 2016 to coincide with the next presidential election.
A recent poll found that 65 percent of voters in California favor legalization, a move that has been endorsed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Because of Colorado and Washington, it’s created a cannabis tidal wave across the country,” marijuana activist Mike Jolson said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We want to capitalize on this wave.”

Motorist arrested for operating under the influence

A man was arrested on charges of operating under the influence early on Sunday morning.
Dennis Lalime, 64, of Pittsfield, Maine, lost control of his 2002 Buick Regal and went off the road at about 2am, according to Sgt. Timothy Roussin of the Pittsfield Police Department.

Lalime suffered no injuries, but his car was damaged as it struck multiple trees and a rock before it came to rest. A nearby homeowner heard the crash and called police, leading to Lalime’s arrest.
Roussin said Lalime, who told police he was returning home from a Halloween party, was cooperative. In the mugshot picture police took of Lalime a short while later, he is wearing white facepaint with large black circles around his eyes, and his hair is dyed green. Lalime later posed for a second booking photo.

Daily Comic Relief


No known hominin is ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans, study says

The search for a common ancestor linking modern humans with the Neanderthals who lived in Europe thousands of years ago has been a compelling subject for research. But a new study suggests the quest isn't nearly complete.
No known hominin is ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans, study says
This image shows diversity in premolar and molar morphology in Neanderthals, modern
humans and potential ancestral species [Credit: Aida Gómez-Robles, PNAS]
The researchers, using quantitative methods focused on the shape of dental fossils, find that none of the usual suspects fits the expected profile of an ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. They also present evidence that the lines that led to Neanderthals and modern humans diverged nearly 1 million years ago, much earlier than studies based on molecular evidence have suggested.

The study, which will be published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was carried out by an international team of scholars from The George Washington University, Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Austria, Indiana University and Atapuerca Research Team in Spain.

"Our results call attention to the strong discrepancies between molecular and paleontological estimates of the divergence time between Neanderthals and modern humans," said Aida Gómez-Robles, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral scientist at the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology of The George Washington University. "These discrepancies cannot be simply ignored, but they have to be somehow reconciled."

P. David Polly, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, is a co-author of the study. Other co-authors are Spanish researchers José María Bermúdez de Castro, Juan-Luis Arsuaga and Eudald Carbonell, co-directors of the excavations at Atapuerca sites. The study resulted from a collaboration that developed when Gómez-Robles spent a semester at IU studying with Polly while she was a graduate student at the National Research Centre for Human Evolution and at the University of Granada, both in Spain. It also makes use of statistical methods developed by IU Bloomington biologist Emilia Martins.

The article, "No known hominin species matches the expected dental morphology of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans," relies on fossils of approximately 1,200 molars and premolars from 13 species or types of hominins -- humans and human relatives and ancestors. Fossils from the well-known Atapuerca sites have a crucial role in this research, accounting for more than 15 percent of the complete studied fossil collection.

The researchers use techniques of morphometric analysis and phylogenetic statistics to reconstruct the dental morphology of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. They conclude with high statistical confidence that none of the hominins usually proposed as a common ancestor, such as Homo heidelbergensis, H. erectus and H. antecessor, is a satisfactory match.

"None of the species that have been previously suggested as the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans has a dental morphology that is fully compatible with the expected morphology of this ancestor," Gómez-Robles said.

The study also finds that the potential human ancestors discovered in Europe are morphologically closer to Neanderthals than to modern humans. This suggests the line leading to Neanderthals arose around 1 million years ago and the divergence of humans took place much earlier than previously thought. Other studies have placed the divergence around 350,000 years ago.

The researchers argue that quantitative and statistical methods provide a better way to settle debates about human origins than the descriptive analyses that have been used in the past. "Our primary aim," they write, "is to put questions about human evolution into a testable, quantitative framework and to offer an objective means to sort out apparently unsolvable debates about hominin phylogeny." They also suggest applying their methodology to study other body parts represented in the hominin fossil record.

What comes next? Answers to the ancestry question could come from studying hominin fossils from Africa, the researchers say. But the African fossil record from the era of interest is sparse.

"The study tells us that there are still new hominin finds waiting to be made," Polly said. "Fossil finds from about 1 million years ago in Africa deserve close scrutiny as the possible ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans."

Caminito Del Rey

The Most Dangerous Pathway In The World?

At first glance many might think they might like to have a go at doing that. Then you look down. For most people, 'might like' quickly turns into 'would never', ever in a million years. Welcome to Spain's Caminito del Rey, quite possibly the most dangerous pathway in the world.

A History Of Experimental Planes And Flying Machines From The 1950s

A selection of the experimental flying oddities dreamed up by aeronautical engineers since the 1950s, many of which were built without the help of the advanced computing technology and sophisticated wind tunnel modelling used today.

While craft like the saucer-shaped Avrocar and the Vertijet, an aeroplane with the ability to take-off vertically, were cancelled and others failed to make it past the prototype stage, they nevertheless helped push forward the possibilities of the technology.

The Seven Most Incredible Telescopes In Existence

When China completes its newest telescope project in 2016, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope, it will have a dish nearly half the size of a country (OK, only the world's smallest country, Vatican City, but still).

With FAST, scientists will be better equipped to study the universe and its mysteries, but other telescopes help research study the cosmos too, regardless of their size. Bigger isn't always better. Here are six other telescopes making astronomy better in ingenious ways.

Peruvian air force brings back its UFO probe team

Peru's air force has said it is reviving a department to research anomalous aerial phenomena -- in other words, UFO sightings.
Peru air force brings back its UFO probe team
Anomalous aerial phenomena forces Peru to revive its UFO probe dept [Credit: Web]
For people "who observe seemingly unconventional phenomena, which cause surprise or concern, know that there is an institution that will study and research your information," Colonel Julio Vucetich said in remarks published Saturday.

The Department of Investigation of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena, or DIFAA, will bring together sociologists, archaeologists and astronomers, as well as air force personnel, to analyze how often these events occur, where and what times, Vucetich said, according to the official Andina news agency.

DIFAA was first created in 2001, but it had been closed down five years ago due to administrative problems. Similar agencies exist in regional neighbors, including Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Peru's office is now being reopened because of "increased sightings that are occurring in the country and that people are reporting to media," Vucetich said.

According to media reports, residents of the town of Marabamba, in the central Andes, this week saw luminous objects in the sky over several days.

Large-scale deep re-sequencing reveals cucumber's evolutionary enigma

In a collaborative study published online today in Nature Genetics, researchers from the Genome Centre of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), BGI, and other institutes present a cucumber genomic variation map that includes about 3.6 million variants revealed by deep re-sequencing of 115 cucumbers worldwide. This work provides new insights for understanding the genetic basis of domestication and diversity of this important crop, and provides guidance for breeders to harness genetic variation for crop improvement.
Large-scale deep re-sequencing reveals cucumber's evolutionary enigma
Cucumbers [Credit: WikiCommons]
Cucumber is a major vegetable crop consumed worldwide as well as a model system for sex determination and plant vascular biology. In 2009, cucumber became the seventh plant to have its genome sequence published, following the well-studied model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the poplar tree, grapevine, papaya, and the crops rice and sorghum. More efforts have been put into cucumber genomics research since then.

As a part of these efforts, researchers from CAAS and BGI re-sequenced 115 cucumber lines sampled from 3,342 accessions worldwide, and also conducted de novo sequencing on a wild cucumber. In total, they detected more than 3.3 million SNPs, over 0.33 million small insertion and deletions (indels), and 594 presence-absence variations (PAVs), and then constructed a comprehensive variation map of cucumber.

Furthermore, researchers did a suite of model-based analyses of population structure and phylogenetic reconstruction. The results indicated that the three cultivated groups (Eurasian, East Asian, and Xishuangbanna) each are monophyletic and genetically quite homogeneous, but the Indian group shows clear evidence of substructure and genetic heterogeneity. Their further analysis also provide evidence on the ancestral status of the Indian group, which holds great potential for introducing new alleles into the cultivated gene pool.

To understand the population bottlenecks during domestication, researchers made a comparison analysis between vegetable and grain food crops. The comparison result indicated that the three vegetable crops (cucumber, watermelon, and tomato) probably underwent narrower bottleneck events during domestication than the grain food crops (rice, maize, and soybean). In addition, they also identified 112 putative domestication sweeps in the cucumber genome. These findings provide additional impetus for the use of wild germplasm in future vegetable breeding.

Wild cucumber is an extremely bitter fruit. An essential step in the domestication of the wild cucumber into a eatable vegetable must have degenerated its bitter taste. Two genetic loci, Bi and Bt, are known to confer bitterness in cucumber. In this study, researchers found that the Bt locus was delimited to a 442-kb region on chromosome 5 that harbors 67 predicted genes.

They further investigated the genomic basis of divergence among the cultivated populations for identifying genes controlling important traits. The most obvious trait is the orange endocarp, which distinguishes the Xishuangbanna group from the other groups. This trait is caused by the accumulation of large amounts of β-carotene that was reported to be controlled by a single recessive gene ore. In this study, researchers discovered a key natural variation in a β-carotene hydroxylase gene that could be used to breed cucumber with enhanced nutritional value.

Xin Liu, Project Manager from BGI, said "This study not only generates valuable genomic resource including additional wild reference genome, genome-wide variations for further studies and breeding applications on cucumber, but also gave us a better picture about how the cucumber genome evolved during domestication. It is also a good example for studies on vegetable or other economic crops. Large scale sequencing approach and genome wide analysis can be applied on different economic crops for better understanding their evolutionary process and specific traits, providing unique opportunities for further applications."

Remains of an extinct cervid species found in Spain

The journal of the French Academy of Sciences Comptes Rendus Palevol has just released the discovery of remains assigned to an extinct cervid species first recorded in the Iberian Peninsula. The animal, named Haploidoceros mediterraneus, lived in the Pleistocene about 90,000 years ago. To date, remains of H. mediterraneus were only found at two sites located in the South of France.
Remains of an extinct cervid species found in Spain
Skull of Haploidoceros mediterraneus [Credit: GRQ-SERP, UB]
Montserrat Sanz and Joan Daura, researchers from the Seminar on Prehistoric Studies and Research (SERP-UB) and the Quaternary Research Group (GRQ), affiliated with SERP-UB, discovered the remains. Their analysis was carried out together with Jean-Philip Brugal, researcher from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at Aix Marseille University.

Haploidoceros mediterraneus was smaller than today's deer. Antlers morphology is a key feature to differentiate between cervid species. H. mediterraneus has big antlers, comprising two sickle-shaped beams curving backwards and laterally. Haploidoceros comes from Greek haploides, 'simple shape' and ceros, 'antler'.

The Cova del Rinoceront is a Palaeolithic site with a long chronological sequence that extends from 200,000 to 80,000 BC. Researchers from SERP-GRQ of the University of Barcelona have been excavating there since 2002. The site has provided many Pleistocene faunal remains that give information about how the environment was before the last glacial period. In 2012, the skeleton of a young elephant and many remains of Mediterranean turtle were found. Although there is plenty information about the fauna of the last ice period, animals such as the mammoth or the woolly rhinoceros, the fauna which lived in the Catalan coast before the last ice period is quite unknown.

The discovery of an unknown species in the Iberian Peninsula turns the Cova del Rinoceront into one of the most relevant sites to obtain information about prehistoric fauna evolution and extinction. The finding certifies that Haploidoceros mediterraneus was a common cervid on both sides of the Pyrenees and that its origin might be the Iberian Peninsula. Remains correspond to all parts of the skeleton and to at least twelve individuals.

This new record of H. mediterraneus provides evidence of a longer chronological distribution because in France, to be exact in Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées, the most ancient remains are dated at about 300,000 years ago. It also demonstrates that in Pleistocene this species was more common than previously thought, and that its habitat occupied, at least, the South of Europe. Moreover, the finding enables to confirm that Haploidoceros mediterraneus co-lived with other cervids, such as the fallow deer or the red deer, and that it became extinct due to the climate changes produced at the beginning of the last ice period.

Woman accused of knifing boyfriend after his dog ate her marijuana

A Florida model allegedly slashed her boyfriend with a pink pocket knife after his dog wolfed down her marijuana stash, according to an arrest report. Shadae Scott, 26, who told a judge she does modelling work, was arrested on Sunday evening and charged with one count of domestic battery. Her boyfriend, Kevin Wiggins, suffered two small knife cuts in the face and head area and one gash across his hand.

Scott explained to deputies that her boyfriend kept walking into her knife as the two argued, according to an arrest report. According to the arrest affidavit, deputies were called to Scott's Dania Beach apartment shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday because of a domestic dispute. Wiggins told deputies the couple got into a fight after his dog ate her marijuana. Wiggins said she kicked him out of the apartment but he couldn't find his personal items.
The model hid all his stuff, the boyfriend said. He told deputies Scott then started stabbing at him after he asked where his computer was hidden. Scott told a different story, according to the report. She said the fight was over dinner plans. She said the argument turned physical after she tried to leave the apartment. but he stopped her from leaving. Scott said she then pulled out a pocket knife to protect herself.

"Scott added that during one of the many times during the argument, Wiggins walked into the knife and cut himself,' wrote Sheriff's Deputy Laughten Hall on the arrest report. Hall noted seeing three "small lacerations" on Wiggin's body, including a slash over his left ear. Scott's bond was set at $3,500, and shewas ordered to stay at least 500 feet away from her boyfriend at all times and prohibited her from possessing a knife. It is unclear what happened to the dog.

Dogs are overdosing on drug-users' poo

Drug-users' excrement is making dogs in Germany high. Vets in Berlin are warning about an increase in the number of pets falling ill and being unable to walk properly after eating the feces in the city's parks.

Parks in the Treptow and Kreuzburg areas of the capital see groups of drug users gathering – some of whom go to the toilet in the bushes. The results of which are proving dangerous for dogs. Vets say that they had seen a rise in the number of dogs being brought in that had eaten human waste. Tests revealed that they had been poisoned by illegal drugs, like heroin, still present in the excrement.
Vet Reinhold Sassnau said that symptoms include dehydration, shaking, an inability to walk properly and a rapid heartbeat. He sees a lot of these cases during his night shifts, he said. If owners take their dog to a vet in time, the animal can be given an emetic which forces them to vomit up the feces. If not, treatment can require staying in a clinic for some time to stabilize. Sassnau said fatal cases were rare.

One dog owner, identified only as Malte, said that he had to take his 10-year-old dog, Bob, to an emergency vet after walking him through Görlitzer Park, an area well-known for drug-dealing. “We thought he was going to die,” he said. Jörn Bischof, the vet at the Charlottenburg clinic who treated Bob earlier in October, said: “This is becoming more frequent.” He added that although dogs are often tempted to eat waste they come across outdoors, owners should try to train them not to.

Horse bit woman on the bottom after being bitten by possibly rabid dog

In a rare case of its kind, a horse ran after and bit a 51-year-old woman on the bottom. It is suspected that the horse became wild after it was bitten by a mad dog (possibly infected by rabies).
Kshetrimayum (O) Bina of New Checkon in Imphal City, the capital of Manipur in northeastern India, was riding a motorcycle when the horse suddenly ran after and bit her.
Ksh Bina said that she was returning home after purchasing some household articles from New Checkon market when the horse suddenly ran after her and bit her on the right buttock. Though the bite did not tear any flesh it left deep teeth marks leading to profuse bleeding. On seeing the ‘amazing scene’, people in the neighbourhood rushed in following which the rogue horse galloped off towards New Checkon Traffic Point.

“The mouth of the horse was already red with blood before it bit me. Possibly the horse had bitten some animals”, Bina said. Later Bina was administered a drug purchased from the Dog Care Centre, Konung Mamang. The horse might have gone wild after it was bitten by a dog infected with rabies, conveyed Bina as stated by the shopkeeper of the Dog Care Centre.

Venomous crustacean discovered

Dr Bjoern von Reumont: "This is the first time we have seen venom being used in crustaceans and the study adds a new major animal group to the roster of known venomous animals. Venoms are especially common in three of the four major groups of arthropods, such as insects. Crustaceans, however, are a glaring exception to the rule."

Animal Pictures