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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Daily Drift

It just dawned on us ...

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Today in History

1219 The port of Damietta falls to the Crusaders after a siege.
1556 The Emperor Akbar defeats the Hindus at Panipat and secures control of the Mogul Empire.
1605 Guy Fawkes is betrayed and arrested in an attempt to blow up the British Parliament in the "Gunpowder Plot." Ever since, England has celebrated Guy Fawkes Day.
1653 The Iroquois League signs a peace treaty with the French, vowing not to wage war with other tribes under French protection.
1757 Frederick II of Prussia defeats the French at Rosbach in the Seven Years War.
1768 William Johnson, the northern Indian Commissioner, signs a treaty with the Iroquois Indians to acquire much of the land between the Tennessee and Ohio rivers for future settlement.
1814 Having decided to abandon the Niagara frontier, the American army blows up Fort Erie.
1840 Afghanistan surrenders to the British army.
1854 British and French defeat the Russians at Inkerman, Crimea.
1862 President Abraham Lincoln relieves General George McClellan of command of the Union armies and names Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside commander of the Army of the Potomac.
1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested for trying to vote.
1911 Calbraith P. Rodgers ends first transcontinental flight–49 days from New York to Pasadena, Calif.
1912 Woodrow Wilson is elected 28th president of the United States.
1914 France and Great Britain declare war on Turkey.
1917 General John Pershing leads U.S. troops into the first American action against German forces.
1930 Sinclair Lewis becomes the first American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel Babbit.
1935 Parker Brothers company launches "Monopoly," a game of real estate and capitalism.
1940 President Franklin D. Roosevelt is re-elected for third term.
1968 Richard Nixon is elected 37th president of the United States.
1968 Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn, New York, becomes the first elected African American woman to serve in the House of Representatives.
1995 Andre Dallaire's attempt to assassinate Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is foiled when the minister's wife locks the door.
2003 Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, pleads guilty to 48 counts of murder.
2006 Former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein, along with Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, is sentenced to death for the massacre of 148 Shi'a Muslims in 1982.
2007 Chang'e 1, China's first lunar satellite, begins its orbit of the moon.
2009 The deadliest mass shooting at a US military installation occurs at Fort Hood, Texas, when US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 and wounds 29.

Non Sequitur


Dad Makes His Son a 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand for Just $10

A quality prosthetic hand cost tens of thousands of dollars…until the advent of 3D printing. Now we’re entering an age when so many machines can be produced at low cost.
12-year old Leon McCarthy of Marblehead, Massachusetts was born without fingers on his left hand. He didn’t have a functional prosthetic replacement until his father, Paul McCarthy, found online instructions for a design that could be built with a 3D printer. Leon’s school had a $2,500 3D printer. For just $5-10 of materials, they built a useful mechanical hand. As he moves his wrist forward, the fingers clench. As he moves it back, the fingers open.



Keeping It Cool

Multi-stemmed beech tree (Image: BBC)Trees help at-risk species keep cool

Dense tree canopies create a microclimate that protects a variety of cold-adapted plant species from warming air temperatures, a study shows.

Inspired by Snowden, more NSA insiders are blowing the whistle

Jesselyn Radack is a civil liberties attorney with the Government Accountability Project who has been in contact with Edward Snowden. In an ABC News interview, she reported that other NSA insiders have been inspired by Snowden's bravery and sacrifice and have come forward with further revelations about the organization's excess, criminality and lawlessness. She says that the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers has backfired, squandering the administration's credibility with its own operatives and inspiring them to speak out.
“I think the government hopes to chill speech by employees in the national security and intelligence fields, especially those at the NSA and CIA, but the unintended consequence is [that] more and more whistleblowers are coming through the doors of the Government Accountability Project (GAP),” said Jesselyn Radack, referring to the organization where she works as the National Security and Human Rights Director. “I think courage is contagious, and we see more and more people from the NSA coming through our door after Snowden made these revelations.”
Radack, an attorney who has met with and been in communication with Snowden, said “a handful” of people in the intelligence community have come forward since this summer when several major international newspapers began writing about the NSA’s classified foreign and domestic surveillance programs – stories based on thousands of secret NSA documents allegedly stolen by Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

America Has Never Faced The Threat Posed by the Koch Brothers and Congressional repugicans

The Founding Fathers were well aware that America could not survive without revenue to fund the government, but that is not the long term goal of the Koch brothers ...
Most Americans are confident that their nation will remain fundamentally unchanged forever and in part it is due to the once stable functioning government. However, as world leaders, political scholars, and economists have noted, America’s government has been, for all intents and purposes, brought to a standstill due to repugican denial they lost two presidential elections. There is a faction in this country made up of wealthy oligarchs, religious fanatics, and wingnut extremists who have intimated in various ways their only raison d’être is to destroy America from within and transform it into a mirror image of a stone-age nation like Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The war for America has been in the planning stages for two decades, but when American voters elected (twice) an African American man as President the insurgency began enacting their plan to destroy the federal government and by extension the country itself.
The groups lusting to destroy America and transform it into a libertarian theocracy certainly know that their goal could never reach fruition if they announced they were actively seeking to eliminate the functioning government, so they use catch phrases such as the Koch brothers’ infamous “transforming America” to fit their lawless vision of a nation without rules and regulations. Their staunch ally, Grover Norquist has been forthcoming that his goal is to “shrink government down to a size he can drown in a bathtub,” but his goal, like the Koch brothers, is a nation steeped in anarchy where peasants are at the mercy of a few wealthy industrialists. Although the Kochs and Norquist wield inordinate power and influence over a major political cabal, they are not elected representatives and depend on dark money and loyalty oaths to control repugicans at the state and federal level to enact their anti-government agendas. Now they have a powerful ally in the U.S. Senate who controls repugicans in the House and Senate and last Sunday he let it slip that his ultimate goal is destroying America.
It is fairly well-known that Rafael “Ted” Cruz is running the repugican cabal due to being anointed the evangelical wingnut messiah, and that he publicly announced the recent government shutdown and debt crisis was only the first battle in a longer war. Cruz has been unapologetic that his destructive strategy is part of a plan to achieve his future policy goals that he readily admits are more than defunding the Affordable Care Act he claims is responsible for the nation’s sluggish economy. However, when he spoke to Faux News’ host Sean Handjob on Sunday, he revealed that in his “multi-stage extended battle” he discovered “a model that I think is the model going forward to,” among other things, “abolish the IRS.”
Cruz’s remark was a stunning revelation that his goal is defunding the entire United States government that will serve to hasten the Koch brothers’ agenda of a nation void of laws, regulatory agencies’ enforcement, education, Social Security, healthcare, and national defense. Abolishing the I.R.S. will also invalidate the U.S. Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 that gives the federal government of the United States its power of taxation to fund the nation’s government. Without revenue to fund the government, America as it exists now would become a lawless, uneducated, and dangerous fascist state controlled by the wealthy and policed by religious extremists imposing the bible as the de facto law of the land.
If the power of taxation is eliminated, the government may be able to function for a couple of years at best, but it would mean selling off all federal assets and raiding Social Security’s $2.8 trillion reserves just to fund this nation’s national defense and nothing more. All regulatory and consumer protection agencies would be eliminated, education funding would cease to exist, and domestic programs would come to a screeching halt. In fact, with no revenue, the entire federal government would disappear and with it all the benefits the people depend on whether it is safe food, safe medicine, disaster relief, clean water, infrastructure, and security the people are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Actually, without a government, the Constitution itself will be obsolete and it would open the floodgates of regional morality laws under the purview of whichever religious group had the largest armory to enforce their edicts and transform America into Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
Without funding to operate, the US Congress, the executive branch, and judicial branch would be deemed unnecessary in a government-less state, and society would break down into little fiefdoms controlled by the wealthy and whoever they appoint to keep peasants in line. It is the ideal sought after by libertarians and 10th Amendment advocates who believe all power originates in individual states, but for Southern states wallowing in poverty and disrepair it will usher in anarchy and privatization that libertarians regard as a lifestyle improvement over living in a nation with a federal government.  Wealthier states with natural resources and agricultural products to sell on the foreign market might maintain a semblance of order for a while, but the quality of life for the average American would be reduced to subsistence living without consumer, environmental, worker, healthcare, or law enforcement protections a functioning government ensures.
The only people who would survive in a nation without a government would be the extremely rich who could sequester themselves away in gated compounds patrolled by armed guards to keep out the starving peasants. In fact, the majority of Americans would fall into dire poverty because with no federal government there would be no minimum wage or workplace protections that will leave workers at the mercy of the rich who may give them work for food; if they were lucky.
The Founding Fathers were well aware that America could not survive without revenue to fund the government, but government survival is not the long term goal of the Koch brothers, Rafael Cruz, and Grover Norquist. The Koch brothers particularly welcome a nation without a federal government because they would be unshackled from any regulatory enforcement and give them the freedom to conduct their business unrestricted and untaxed with absolute power to install the dictator of their choosing to keep the peasantry in line.
America has never faced the existential threat posed by the Koch brothers and their acolytes in Congress and state legislatures, and it is likely there has never been a concerted effort to destroy the government that America faces today. It is true that Cruz does not have the people behind him like he thinks, but with the Koch brothers’ dirty money and repugican-controlled states restricting the right to vote, Cruz’s lack of popular support is not a guarantee his “multi-stage extended battle to abolish the IRS” will fail. If nothing else, Cruz has revealed that, like the Koch brothers and Grover Norquist, his goal is destroying the government by defunding it and it cements his place in America’s libertarian axis of evil that makes him a legitimate enemy of the state and the people who own it.

Same Assholes Different Day

Paul Ryan starts budget negotiations by going after Social Security and Medicare

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan began the budget conference by laying out in no uncertain terms what was not going to happen:
"Taking more from hardworking families just isn't the answer. I know my Republican colleagues feel the same way."
Wow. So Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts are off the table? Not exactly. In fact, not at all. What Ryan was declaring off the table has little to do with "hardworking families," in fact:
"So I want to say this from the get-go: If this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we're not going to get anywhere."
Oh. The "hardworking families" who aren't going to be asked to give more are in fact major corporations currently benefiting from tax loopholes—that, after all, is the main place Democrats would be looking for added revenue. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and the hardworking families that rely on them are very much on Ryan's chopping block. Just as they always have been.

Nigeria: 24 die in cult stampede over politics

by Michelle Faul
 Attacks by Boko Haram on churches have killed hundreds across north and central Nigeria. 
A stampede at an all-night cult vigil disrupted by politicking over a contentious gubernatorial election has killed 24 people and injured 17 in Nigeria's southeast Anambra state, the Red Cross and government officials said Sunday.
The stampede occurred before dawn Saturday at an All Saints' Day open-air vigil organized by St. Dominic's catholic cult in the town of Uke, according to the deputy inspector general of police, Emmanuel Kachi Udeoji.
Dr. Peter Katchy of the local Red Cross chapter said they had a mobile clinic and small emergency station posted at the grounds because more than 100,000 people had gathered for very popular healing sessions by a local priest.
"There was a stampede, everybody said they heard someone crying 'Fire! Fire!' and in that stampeding some people were suffocated: 24 persons died there, five males, 19 females," Katchy said. He said another 17 casualties were hospitalized.
Katchy blamed "an over-large crowd and lack of crowd control."
Newspaper and TV reports blamed politicking for the Nov. 18 elections.
They quoted witnesses as saying the false warning of a fire was made to try to end a speech being made by Gov. Peter Obi, who attended the ritual and was booed as he tried to promote his gubernatorial candidate.
Obi said he left long before the stampede. "I did notice something unusual," he told reporters in comments broadcast on Channels Television. "When I wanted to speak, a group of people started shouting somebody's name. I had to curtail them and say we are here to worship. ... At the time I left everything was normal, there was no incident."
The name being shouted was that of a rival for the governorship, Sen. Chris Ngige, witnesses said on the TV.
Some said Obi's bodyguards charged into the part of the crowd from which the catcalls had ensued, causing the stampede when someone shouted there were armed men attacking them.
Other witnesses said the way out was blocked by protesters chanting slogans against Obi and in support of Ngige.
Udeoji, the police officer, said he could not understand how a stampede occurred when the vigil was out in the open, "there are no restraints here, there are no fences, nothing," he said on the TV, promising a full investigation.

Captain Justice Responds to Government's Motion to Ban the Word "Government"

In a fairly recent criminal case in Tennessee, an Assistant District Attorney General asked the judge to make the defense attorneys stop calling her "the Government," even though she actually represented the government, which was charged with prosecuting the defendant. That's the way trials work. The DA claimed that the term was derogatory and prejudicial. She  suggested an alternative title of "General R______." The defense attorney, appropriately named Drew Justice, issued a response to the request. He opened with a free speech claim, but then it got better, as the defense came up with acceptable terms for their side. First, the defendant should be referred to with his full name.
Alternatively, he may be called simply "the Citizen Accused." This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal "Defendant." The designation "That innocent man" would also be acceptable.

Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a "lawyer," or a "defense attorney." Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the "Defender of the Innocent." This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent.

Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation "Guardian of the Realm."

Further, the Citizen Accused humbly requests an appropriate military title for his own representative, to match that of the opposing counsel. Whenever addressed by name, the name "Captain Justice" will be appropriate. While less impressive than "General," still, the more humble term seems suitable. After all, the Captain represents only a Citizen Accused, whereas the General represents an entire State.
There's more to the response. Ya know, if the word "government" has become so derogatory as to prejudice a jury, maybe the government should do something about its reputation instead of hiding its role. Read the whole story at Lowering the Bar.

Dickie Bird statue raised to stop people hanging rude items from his finger

A statue of former Test cricket umpire Dickie Bird has been elevated to stop people hanging rude items on his outstretched finger.
The sculpture, in his hometown of Barnsley, has become a magnet for revelers who have hung condoms and pants from it.
Mr Bird, who has been spotted removing the items himself said he did not mind people having fun hanging items from the statue but worried about people falling off the plinth.

The life-size artwork shows the legendary former umpire raising his index finger to indicate a batsman is out. The sculpture has now been raised to make it harder to reach the statue's finger.

School official caught on camera taking iguana sculpture

An elected member of the Pojoaque Valley School Board in Jaconita, New Mexico, has been accused of stealing a 50-pound, 4-foot long, bronze iguana sculpture from a table inside a Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino restaurant.

Drunk teacher was nursing bottle

Erin Terry
 Erin Terry.

A substitute teacher in northern Utah has been arrested after school leaders spotted her outside of the school nursing a liquor bottle.
The Herald Journal of Logan reports that 32-year-old Erin Terry was arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of intoxication and open container violations. She has not yet been charged.
Cache County Sheriff Lt. Doyle Peck says Terry was spotted falling down Tuesday afternoon on the campus of a middle school in Hyrum, Utah, south of Logan.
Authorities say she was very drunk and had been drinking all day.
Cache County School District spokesman Kirk McRae says Terry worked at the school that same day, though he doesn’t know if she was drunk while teaching.
McRae says the district didn’t receive any reports from students or parents about Terry.

When Hollywood collaborated with the Nazis

You read the title correctly.  The reason for the logical disconnect is that the time period in question is the 1930s, before the war and the most overt atrocities, as explained in a Harvard Magazine review of a new book:
Based on nearly nine years of archival research in Germany and the United States, the book reveals a surprisingly cooperative relationship between studio executives and German officials throughout the 1930s... MGM head Louis B. Mayer made changes to films at the request of the German consul in Los Angeles in the 1930s...

In 1932, six months before Hitler came to power, Germany adopted a law stipulating that any film company caught making anti-German (or later, anti-Nazi) films would be prohibited from doing business in the country. For studio executives who feared losing access to German audiences, it was a powerful threat. Before World War I, Germany had been the second-largest market for U.S. films. By the 1930s, the studios were no longer making money there, but they hoped business would improve in time. Urwand says Hollywood executives also worried that if they left Germany and Hitler started a war, they would be expelled from any countries he invaded. So studio heads, many of whom were Jewish, collectively boycotted a proposed film, The Mad Dog of Europe, about the mistreatment of European Jews, and agreed to fire most of their Jewish salesmen in Germany...

Commentators have drawn parallels between the Nazi collaboration that Urwand describes and Hollywood’s current relationship with China, a burgeoning market for American films. Urwand stresses that “China isn’t Nazi Germany,” but he acknowledges some potential parallels. “Hollywood is not going to make a strongly anti-Chinese film at this point, just as it didn’t make anti-German films when it was trying to preserve its business with Germany.”

Random Celebrity Photos


Making Stuff From Fish Skins

This unique technology of curing fish leather belongs to the master from Ingushetia - Akhmed Shadiev. His products are popular in Canada, China, Chile, all over Europe. More

Sathorn Unique

Bangkok's Ghost Tower

The Sathorn Unique was supposed to be another glistening addition to Bangkok's ever growing skyline, a luxury residential skyscraper of over 600 homes and shops. Yet the building work came to a drastic halt in 1998.

The towering building has stood abandoned and incomplete from then on. Only urban explorers venture in now: many of the local population believe the skyscraper to be haunted and call it the Ghost Tower.

Global lightning strikes

And lodestones

An interesting distribution.

From the source Wikipedia page:
The intense currents of a lightning discharge create a fleeting but very strong magnetic field. Where the lightning current path passes through rock, soil, or metal these materials can become permanently magnetized. This effect is known as lightning-induced remanent magnetism, or LIRM. These currents follow the least resistive path, often horizontally near the surface but sometimes vertically, where faults, ore bodies, or ground water offers a less resistive path. One theory suggests that lodestones, natural magnets encountered in ancient times, were created in this manner.

Daily Comic Relief


Cleaning up ancient Human DNA

With the genomes of Otzi, the 5300-year-old iceman, and even Neanderthals pouring out of DNA sequencing labs lately, you might think that it’s now a piece of cake to glean the entire genetic code of an ancient human. But it turns out that those studies used exceptionally pure samples of DNA taken from human bone, tooth, hair, or other tissue typically preserved in frozen soil, ice, or a chilly cave. More often, human remains found by scientists have been sitting in soil warm enough to harbor bacteria, which swamp out the human DNA with their genes and make it too costly to analyze. A clever new method for purifying ancient human DNA samples—reported here last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics—could change that, however.
Cleaning up ancient Human DNA
A new technique could make it cheaper to decipher DNA from ancient humans
such as this Peruvian mummy [Credit: Science Now/U.S. Navy]
The average ancient DNA sample taken from, say, a human tooth or bone is often less than 1% short, degraded pieces of human DNA; the rest is bacterial DNA. Although scientists could sequence this gemisch, they would have to run the samples through their sequencing machines many times to zoom in on the human DNA portion, and it’s not worth the cost. Instead, researchers often prepare stretches of modern human DNA that roughly match the genes or sequences they’re interested in and use these so-called probes to filter the sample. (Modern and ancient human DNA are similar enough that the probes will stick to the ancient DNA.) But this is still expensive, and it reveals the sequence of only a subset of the genome.

A team at Stanford University has now come up with a better idea. Postdoctoral researcher Meredith Carpenter and others in the lab of Carlos Bustamante made their probes from RNA instead of DNA, which is “super cheap,” Bustamante says. They found a way to make enough RNA probes to cover the entire genome of an average modern human. The probe has a chemical group that sticks to special beads, so when the researchers mix the probes with an ancient DNA sample, they can wash away the nonhuman DNA. The final step is to use an RNA-chewing enzyme to get rid of the probes, leaving only pure ancient human DNA that can then be fed into a genome sequencing machine.

When the researchers tested this filtering method on a dozen ancient bone, teeth, and hair DNA samples from 500 to 3500 years old, they gleaned twofold to 13-fold more human genetic sequence from the samples than they could have by simply sequencing the mixture the same number of times. This higher resolution yielded new information about the samples. For instance, while previously they could only say that a more than 2500-year-old Bronze Age tooth from Bulgaria was European, they could now narrow its ethnic origin down to central or southern European. The team was also able to determine that a more than 500-year-old Peruvian mummy did not have European ancestry, as Spanish explorers claimed.

This new method will “substantially increase the number of samples amenable to whole genome sequencing,” said Bustamante in a talk at the conference. (The study also appeared online that day in The American Journal of Human Genetics.) He and his colleagues are now trying it on ancient dog DNA to elucidate the domestication of dogs. They also think the approach might come in handy for modern-day forensic scientists dealing with bacteria-tainted human DNA samples, as well as for microbial genomics researchers who need to remove contaminant human DNA from a sample.

The method is “super exciting and very interesting,” said geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, who studies the Neandertal genome, at the meeting. He tells Science in an e-mail that there are Neanderthal samples that have enough DNA to sequence, but it’s not worth it because they’re too contaminated by bacteria. “I think it remains to be seen whether the approach will become a practical method for whole genome sequencing of these difficult but important ancient DNA samples, but I think it is exciting that this is even conceivable.”

One of the oldest cases of tuberculosis is discovered

Tuberculosis was present in Europe as early as 7000 years ago, according to new research published October 30th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, by Muriel Masson and colleagues at the University of Szeged.
One of the oldest cases of tuberculosis is discovered
Active diffuse periostitis with extensive bone formation visible on the ribs
[Credit: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078252.g003]
A disease called Hypertrophic Pulmonary Osteopathy is characterized by symmetrical new bone formations on the long bones. Based on the archaeological record, it has been suggested that tuberculosis might have caused HPO thousands of years ago. HPO is a rare find in the archaeological record, making it difficult to verify this hypothesis.

In this study, the authors examined seventy-one human skeletons from a 7000-year-old site in the south of Hungary. They found numerous cases of infections and metabolic diseases, and some skeletons showed signs of HPO and therefore potentially tuberculosis. They focused on one skeleton in particular to verify this hypothesis, and analyzed the ancient DNA and lipids from its bones to do so. Both tests confirmed the presence of the bacterial complex associated with tuberculosis.

This is one of the earliest known cases of HPO and tuberculosis to date, and helps shed new light on this European community in prehistoric times. Masson adds, "This is a crucial find from a fantastic site. It is not only the earliest occurrence of fully-developed HPO on an adult skeleton to date, but also clearly establishes the presence of Tuberculosis in Europe 7000 years ago."

Mustache added to Cerne Abbas Giant for Movember

A huge mustache has been added to the UK's largest chalk hill figure.
The Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset is sporting facial "hair" in support of Movember, which raises awareness of prostate and testicular cancer.

The National Trust's Rob Rhodes said: "It's all a bit of fun to highlight an important subject so we were happy to give our support and join in the fun."

He said there would be no damage to the giant. "I am sure the giant would approve," he added. The 180ft (55m) tall giant's new mustache is 36ft (11m) by 9ft (2.7m).

Archeologists find booty from pirate Blackbeard's ship

Five large cannons from a sunken ship captained by the legendary pirate Blackbeard have been recovered by US archaeologists.
Archeologists find booty from pirate Blackbeard's ship
A one-tonne cannon is pulled from the water near Beaufort,
North Carolina [Credit: Reuters/Karen Browning]
The cannons were raised from the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, sunk off the coast of North Carolina, state officials said.

The cannons, four of which weighed between 900 and 1,360 kilograms, were excavated by a team attached to the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

Project director Billy Ray Morris said the largest of the cannons was believed to have been made in Sweden.

"We think the largest of the four cannons may be of Swedish origin, since the only other recovered gun this size was made in Sweden," Mr Morris said.
Archeologists find booty from pirate Blackbeard's ship
Members of the US Coast Guard and others raise a cannon from a sunken ship
off the coast of North Carolina [Credit: AFP]
"We also hope to recover two large concretions each the size of a twin bed. They may contain barrel hoops, cannon balls and other treasures."

Authorities in North Carolina have so far recovered an estimated 280,000 artifacts from the site.

Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach, achieved infamy during the early part of the 18th century when he terrorized Atlantic seafarers around the Caribbean and the American colonies.

The Queen Anne's Revenge, which was discovered in 1996, was intentionally run aground in 1718.

Blackbeard was killed in a battle with British forces later that year.

On The Far Side


Fox keeps sucking brake fluid from man's van

A fox has cost a driver £2,500 to have his van’s brakes fixed repeatedly. Jan Bryce, of Borough Green in Kent was baffled when he tried to stop at the end of his road and his brakes would not work back in December. When he inspected his vehicle he found his brake fluid had been sucked out by a fox.

Just a month later the same thing happened and Mr Bryce contacted a pest controller, who informed him that foxes like the taste of brake fluid. And now the mischievous animal has struck again. Mr Bryce says the fox has chewed on his brakes a further three times, in August and September. Mr Bryce is in despair.
He has tried spraying his van with citrus air freshener and parking it in a different place every day to outwit his furry nemesis. “I am now forced to park my vehicle away from the estate I live,” he said. “You may think these animals are lovely to have in your garden but if they chew your brakes you will think again, especially if it happens to you five times.”

And now he is appealing for anyone who may know a way to put foxes off gnawing at his vehicle to come forward. “Does anyone know of anything I could do to stop the foxes chewing brake pipes?” he said. “I know they like to play with rubber and also brake fluid tastes sweet to them. What do they not like that I could paint to the underside of my vehicle and on the rubber pipes?”

Serge the llama liberated from circus and taken for ride on tram

Five friends stole a llama from a circus in Bordeaux, France, before taking him for a ride on a tram. Just before dawn on Thursday, the five young men, who had just left a disco in the Bassins à Flot area, went wandering up the Rue Lucien Faure, where a Franco-Italian circus currently resides.
Noticing Serge, named after French crooner Serge Gainsbourg, in his cage they decided to take him with them, walking him into the city center before his tram ride. They also stole a stuffed lion and a trombone.
On noticing eight-year-old Serge, the tram driver stopped his vehicle before alerting authorities. Serge was then tied to a lamppost. The friends took advantage of the chaotic situation, leaving the scene without being arrested.

They got on to another tram before finally being arrested at the Place de la Comedie. They were kept in custody at the Police Central Station for a few hours before being released. They will face prosecution by the Criminal Court of Bordeaux. Serge was returned to the circus unharmed.

Dolphin superpod spotted off Canadian coast

Rob Maguire was traveling from the Gulf Islands to Tsawwassen when he witnessed a natural phenomena as close to 1,000 dolphins came alongside a ferry on Thursday afternoon.

On the leg between Galiano Island and Tsawwassen the BC Ferries crew alerted passengers to the pod of orcas off the side of the boat.

The dolphins stayed alongside the ferry for about three minutes before fading into the distance, Maguire says. Even though it was a short amount of time, the effect of seeing such natural beauty was lasting.

“It was a pretty quiet ferry ride until the dolphins turned up because no one was really talking to one another,” he says. “But afterwards everyone was abuzz, strangers were talking with strangers and getting to know one another.”

An 80-year-old man fights a bear in hand-to-paw cambat and survives

Yusuf Alchagirov, 80, is a shepherd in Kabardino-Balkaria, a region of Russia near the Georgian border. A bear attacked him in a raspberry field last week. Mr. Alchagirov took it in good Russian humor and repaid the favor with a barrage and kicks and headbutts, knocking it off balance. But the bear came back for more treatment:
The bear, apparently irritated by the feisty shepherd, tossed him off a cliff and sauntered away, said Alchagirov in an interview with local television. He was hospitalized with bruises, bite wounds and four broken ribs, but was spared a mauling, and released within a few days. It is not known whether the bear suffered any lasting injuries.
Mercifully, Mr. Alchagirov decided not to pursue the bear as it fled the scene. Local residents aren’t doing so either. After all, the bear was just playing:
In the most recent case, locals believed the bear was probably only playing with Alchagirov, Russian media said, and thus were not planning to track down the animal.

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