Welcome to ...

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.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Daily Drift

Just so you know ....

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Dance while you can ... !
Today is - Turkey Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Byward Market, Saint John's, Mississauga, Lansing, Montreal, Ottawa, Blainville, Pikangikum and Vancouver, Canada
Valencia, Venezuela
Rosario, San Isidro and Buenos Aires, Argentina
Caguas and San Juan, Puerto Rico
Curitiba, Rio De Janeiro and Campinas, Brazil
Tijuana, Mexico
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Raritan, Dekalb, Massillon, Yonkers, Delano and Gurnee, United States
Gistrup and Copenhagen, Denmak
Vinicne Sumice, Czech Republic
Salon-De-Provence, Coutances, Cherbourg-Octeville, Oulins and Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Rome, Pisa, Cavallino and Ivera, Italy
Kuopio and Nokia, Finland
Ryazin, Moscow, Russia
London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester and Guilford, England
Dublin and Swords, Ireland
Zhovti Vody, Ukraine
Cadiz, Madrid and Zeanuri, Spain
Dobanovci, Serbia
Rothe Erde, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg, Aalen, Nordend-Ost and Berlin, Germany
Antwerp, Belgium
Sandsli and Slemmestad, Norway
Porto, Portugal
Kista, Sweden
Ankara, Turkey
Warsaw, Poland
Steinsil, Luxembourg
Miskolc, Hungary
Newport, Wales
Zagreb, Croatia
Tbilisi, Georgia
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
New Delhi, Pondicherry, Thiruvananthapuram, Tumkur, Shillong, Kolkata, Pune, Bhilwara, Kottayam, Coimbatore, Meerut and Vengavasal, India
Tehran and Mashhad, Iran
Jakarta, Johor Bahru, Gubengairlangga and Semarang, Indonesia
Galkissa, Colombo and Vavuniya, Sri Lanka
Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Bayan Lepas and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Karachi, Islamabad and Multan, Pakistan
Seoul, Korea
Hayil, Saudi Arabia
Doha, Qatar
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Taipei Taiwan
Beijing, China
Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa
Manouiba, Tunisia
Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Omdurman, Sudan
Homebush, Australia
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Mandaluyong City and Manila, Philippines

Today in History

1520 Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, having discovered a strait at the tip of South America, enters the Pacific.
1729 Natchez Indians massacre most of the 300 French settlers and soldiers at Fort Rosalie, Louisiana.
1861 The Confederate Congress admits Missouri to the Confederacy, although Missouri has not yet seceded from the Union.
1868 Mt. Etna in Sicily violently erupts.
1872 The Modoc War of 1872-73 begins in northern California when fighting breaks out between Modoc Chief Captain Jack and a cavalry detail led by Captain James Jackson.
1899 The British are victorious over the Boers at Modder River.
1919 Lady Astor is elected the first woman in Parliament.
1925 The forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry, called the WSM Barn Dance, opens in Nashville, Tennessee.
1935 The German Reich declares all men ages 18 to 45 as army reservists.
1937 Spanish leader Francisco Franco blockades the Spanish coast.
1939 The Soviet Union scraps its nonaggression pact with Finland.
1941 The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise departs from Pearl Harbor to deliver F4F Wildcat fighters to Wake Island. This mission saves the carrier from destruction when the Japanese attack.
1943 Sir Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt meet at Tehran, Iran, to hammer out war aims.
1944 The first shipment of supplies reach Antwerp by convoy, a new route for the Allies.
1948 Dr. Edwin Land's first Polaroid cameras go on sale in Boston.
1950 In Korea, 200,000 Communist troops launch attack on UN forces.
1961 Ernie Davis becomes the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy.
1963 Cape Canaveral is renamed Cape Kennedy.
1971 The Anglican Church ordains the first two women as priests.
1975 East Timor declares independence from Portugal.
1980 Operation Morvarid (Iran-Iraq War); Iranian Navy destroys over 70% of Iraqi Navy.
1984 Republican Robert Dole is elected Senate majority leader.
1989 Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announces it will give up its monopoly on political power.
1991 South Ossetia declares independence from Georgia.
2002 Suicide bombers blow up an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

Non Sequitur


World Record Christmas Lights

David and Janean Richards of Canberra, Australia, have set another record for the number of Christmas lights on their home. They first held the record in 2011, but then were eclipsed by an American home in 2012. This year, the Richards set up 502,165 Christmas lights to regain the title. That brings bragging rights, and an electric bill that's over two grand a month! Luckily, the bill is subsidized by ActewAGL’s Greenchoice renewable energy company. The 331,038 lights lights the family displayed in 2011 raised $78,000 for their favorite charity, SIDS and Kids ACT. They hope this year will bring in even more funds.
Having sworn to never again undertake such a labour-intensive record attempt, in 2012 David discovered his record had been broken by the Gay family from Lagrangeville, New York, with 346,283 lights.

“Suddenly I had twice the drive,” David says. “I’d be raising more money for SIDS and Kids and winning back our record at the same time.
The display is open to the public from 7:30 to 10:30 each night through Boxing Day, and even later close to Christmas. The curious thing is that the tradition of putting up decorative lights for Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Tet, solstice, and other occasions is because it's winter and the nights are long and colorless. However, Christmas comes in summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so in Australia you have to stay late to see the full effect! Read more, and see a video, about the Richards' display at the Guinness site.

Did you know ...

That it's time to kill the notion that cutting taxes on the rich grows the economy

That almost half of the CIA's employees are women

That wal-mart asks employees to donate food to needy co-workers

Workers Hit Walmart Where It Hurts By Going On Strike Before Thanksgiving

Workers in Washington, DC are hitting Walmart where it hurts by walking off the job in protest of illegal treatment and low wages just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to Our Walmart, “Walmart workers walked off the job at three Washington DC area stores today, calling on Walmart to end its illegal retaliation against workers calling for better wages and full-time work. Many earning less than $25,000 a year at the country’s largest employer, these workers are risking their livelihoods by striking against an employer that aggressively, and illegally, fires and disciplines workers for speaking out for better jobs.”
Walmart worker Tiffany Beroid said, “I’m speaking out today because Walmart can afford to do better by its workers. We want to work full time, and earn above the poverty level. And we are taking action today because Walmart needs to publicly commit to ending illegal retaliation against workers and better wages.”
Beroid has worked at Walmart for two years, and said her low pay has made it necessary for her family to depend on food stamps in the past.
13 year Walmart associate Cynthia Murray said, “Associates around the country have been retaliated against and fired for speaking out about how it is to work at Walmart. Associates shouldn’t have to fear for our jobs when we are simply asking to be treated with respect, for talking about it. We won’t back down until the company commits to end all retaliation against workers who speak out, and pay all associates a minimum of $25,000 for full-time work.”
The risk that these low wage employees are taking by standing up for their rights is enormous. Walmart is already being prosecuted by the federal government for illegally firing and retaliating against 117 employees. Walmart is a modern day robber baron. They treat labor laws as if they do not apply to them. Walmart has been mistreating their employees for years, but with the gap between rich and poor at an all time high, employees are fighting back.
A one day strike/protest on Black Friday is a nice time event to bring attention to the issue of income inequality and the plight of Walmart workers, but strikes like the one in DC today are key to bringing about real change.
Workers have to hit Walmart where it hurts. These strikes and actions all bring attention to the idea that Walmart isn’t a desirable place to work. If workers in the free market decide that they no longer want to put up with abuse, mistreatment, and poor pay, Walmart will be forced to change their ways.
Happy Thanksgiving, Walmart. The bad publicity isn’t going away and the demand for a living wage grows stronger each day.

John Boehner Protects Cokehead Trey Radel While Florida repugican cabal Wants Him to Resign

trey radel 
The Florida repugican cabal and repugican county leaders have higher standards than John Boehner, who will justify and excuse any behavior in order to keep Trey Radel in the U.S. House. The Florida state cabal and county leaders are calling for Radel to resign after he plead guilty to buying an 8 ball from undercover officers.
With the support of repugican cabal of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry, county leaders called emergency meetings to prepare statements calling for Radel to step down.
They say Radel’s “actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term and if he should run for re-election, he would not enjoy our support,” and that he has “violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent and fall short of the standards for an elected official,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The repugicans told the Miami Herald that repugicans have a sense that “that his rehabilitation at a pricey Naples facility wasn’t genuine and that he wasn’t honest with them.”
Two repugicans, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of disclosing private repugican cabal talks, said Radel was reaching out to fellow repugicans to shore up support and talk politics while he was in rehab — instead of focusing on getting well.
“That left a bad taste,” a source said.
The repugicans are also not digging the comparisons to crack smoking Rob Ford and the way Radel has become a national joke.
Contrast the state and county repugican cabal’s standards with national repugicans in the U.S. House, who all jumped on board the “this is personal” bandwagon, even playing the god card in order to excuse a freshman lawmaker who breaks the law keeping his seat:
“He is a hard-working, good legislator and I hope that he makes the right decision for him, for his family and his district,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (r-FLA) said. “I don’t presume what is best for him. Other members have gotten in trouble. There but for the grace of god go all of us – perfect only god. I’m careful not to cast stones, because I live in a glass house as all of us do.”
Apparently repugicans still believe they’re the righteous cabal that can claim moral authority whenever they need it, because even worse were the reactions of repugican leadership. Remember that the repugican cabal used to proudly run on the “tough on crime” position as the “law and order” party. But now, repugican House leadership Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy are falling over themselves to excuse a freshman lawmaker who bought cocaine on more than one occasion, while voting to drug test food stamp recipients.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this statement came from the repugican idea of the “hippies” of the 1960′s:Aides said that this was an “an unfortunate time for congressman Radel and his family… He’s admitted he has done wrong and is seeking treatment.”
These radical repugican hippies will excuse anything with feelings and god. He just needs therapy…
How far the mighty have fallen. The repugicans are becoming everything they accuse Democrats of being. But don’t tell them, because repugicans are forever stuck in the 1950s and 60s.
The repugicans can’t see that their desperation is turning them into national jokes who now have a Congress full of “sinners”, post-abandoners, cheaters, campaign law violators, grifters, con artists, and full on crazies. These aren’t the fringe of the party. Oh, no. Leadership approves.

Karl Rove’s SuperPAC Gets Busted for Filing ‘Bullshit’ Documents with IRS

Just as we predicted with the phony IRS scandal, Karl Rove's Crossroads group spent more money than it said it did on politics ...
Karl Rove
As we speculated in May, “repugicans Are Using the IRS Scandal to Hide Their Koch Fueled Shady Activities .”
Busted. Karl Rove’s SuperPAC Crossroads GPS spent more money than it said it did on politics, according to a new tax return procured by Kim Barker at ProPublica.
Examining the Crossroads tax documents at the request of ProPublica, Marcus Owens – the former head of the IRS’ Exempt Organization division – definitively declared, “That’s called bullshit with a serving of horseshit on the side.”
It looks as if Rove’s group is playing a shell game with non-profit grants in order to qualify for “social welfare” status. ProPublica got their hands on Crossroads GPS’ 2012 tax return — “signed under penalty of perjury” they remind us — in which Crossroads cited grants of $35 million to nonprofits.
The return “specified that the grants would be used for social welfare purposes, ‘and not for political expenditures, consistent with the organization’s tax-exempt mission.’ But that’s not what happened,” per Barker.
According to new tax documents, at least $11.2 million was spent on political activity, and when this number is added to their 2012 total, it means that Crossroads spent about 45% of its total expenditures on politics. However, in order to qualify for tax exempt status, their primary purpose must be social welfare.
Or, as Owens put it, “bullshit with a serving of horseshit on the side.”
Of course, just because Kim Barker did all of the hard work to bust Crossroads and an expert agrees doesn’t mean the deliberately neutered IRS will touch them.
Senator Dick Durbin was on to Rove’s scam in May of this year, during the heat of the fake IRS scandal meant to do exactly what it did – force the IRS to back off wingnut groups out of fear of looking like they were targeting them, when in truth the IRS targeted both liberal and tea party groups.
Fox was outraged that Durbin mentioned Rove’s Crossroads. So Durbin explained to Fox News in May (my bold), “Citizens United really unleashed hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations seeking tax-exempt statuses to play in political campaigns. The law we wrote as Congress said that they had to exclusively be engaged in social welfare and not politics and campaigning. And so, here is the IRS trying to decide whether or not these organizations really comply with the law. Crossroads was exhibit A. They were boastful about how much the money they were going to raise and beat Democrats… what we basically need to say is all groups need to have the law applied to them equally.”
The fictional IRS scandal did indeed cause the IRS to back off of wingnut groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads. Back in May the New York Times reported, “Some election lawyers said they believed a wave of lawsuits against the I.R.S. and intensifying Congressional criticism of its handling of applications were intended in part to derail those audits, giving political nonprofit organizations a freer hand during the 2014 campaign.”
The real IRS scandal is the influx of dark money courtesy of Citizens United, and the right’s widespread abuse of 501(c)(4). And that’s a big old side helping of “horseshit”, Karl Rove style.
Between the government shutdown squeezing the IRS so that they are sending letters out to almost every taxpayer in America asking for documents they already have but lost and the ginned up “IRS targeting wingnuts” fake scandal, the IRS has been preemptively and deliberately neutered — just like the media. However, it’s their choice to be neutered. They could refuse to be manipulated in such clear and obvious ways. It’s called blind justice– applying the law without deference to shoddy media coverage of repugican deception.
The laws should apply to everyone, not just the little guys.

NSA spied on non-terrorist "radicalizers"' porn use in order to discredit them

A new Snowden leak reveals that the NSA targeted "radicalizers" of Muslim faith, mining their Internet connections for pornography usage. They compiled lists of targets who could be blackmailed, discredited and compromised by targeted leaks of this information, and circulated the lists to officials in the Departments of Justice and Commerce and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Only one percent of the targets of this program are alleged to have any connection to terrorists; the rest were targeted because of their political beliefs.
Instead, the NSA believes the targeted individuals radicalize people through the expression of controversial ideas via YouTube, Facebook and other social media websites. Their audience, both English and Arabic speakers, "includes individuals who do not yet hold extremist views but who are susceptible to the extremist message,” the document states. The NSA says the speeches and writings of the six individuals resonate most in countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Kenya, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia.
The NSA possesses embarrassing sexually explicit information about at least two of the targets by virtue of electronic surveillance of their online activity. The report states that some of the data was gleaned through FBI surveillance programs carried out under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act. The document adds, "Information herein is based largely on Sunni extremist communications." It further states that "the SIGINT information is from primary sources with direct access and is generally considered reliable."
According to the document, the NSA believes that exploiting electronic surveillance to publicly reveal online sexual activities can make it harder for these “radicalizers” to maintain their credibility. "Focusing on access reveals potential vulnerabilities that could be even more effectively exploited when used in combination with vulnerabilities of character or credibility, or both, of the message in order to shape the perception of the messenger as well as that of his followers," the document argues.

Man trespassed in home to climb stairs that reminded him of India

Police in Ocala, Florida arrested a man on Sunday morning after they say he trespassed in a home to climb stairs that reminded him of India. 27-year-old Tushar Patel, from India, is being charged with trespassing in an occupied home in Fore Ranch.
Ocala police said they found Patel in a resident's bathroom because Patel claimed the attic stairs he found reminded him of steps in India, so he went up. Police said homeowner Michael Herbert discovered Patel in his bathroom, holding the door knob to the bathroom door to keep it from opening.
Patel seemed to be speaking another language. After the door was opened and Patel handcuffed, they utilised the language line to find a translator; Patel seemed to be speaking Hindi. It was then translated that Patel claimed to be walking and saw the garage door to the home open and the attic door open too.

The steps to the attic reminded him of steps in India, so he ascended them. Police said Patel laid down to rest in the attic, getting up to use the restroom when Herbert's wife discovered him in the bathroom and went to get her husband. Patel was taken to Marion County Jail, where his bond was set at $1,000.

Six Real Heists More Badass Than Any Movie

Real-life robberies are often the subject of our "dumb criminal" posts, but every once in a while, thieves pull off a caper that is so brazen, clever, or just plain huge that you mentally compare it to a Hollywood film. Some of these real-life scripts would be rejected because they're "not believable." Of course, the most impressive robberies are those that are successful. Consider the case of the 2012 jewelry heist at Fraser Hart jewelers at a mall in London. A half-dozen guys dressed in black on motorcycles roared up to the second floor and smashed jewelry cases with axes!
Within a matter of minutes, the raiders had snatched up more than $3.1 million in Cartier and Rolex watches, loose diamonds, and an undisclosed number of those Jane Seymour "Forever Heart" pendants. Then they leaped back onto their doom cycles and thundered off, screaming at random bystanders and dropping loot like cartoon bandits in their wake.

Mall security sprang into action and locked down the entire mall just in time to prevent the bikers from returning and stealing anything else and keep the panicked, terrorized throngs of mid-morning shoppers trapped inside. Investigators found three stolen motorbikes dumped at a nearby golf course, but the trail of jewels apparently didn't lead any further than that, because the riders themselves remain shrouded in mystery.
That's just one of the 6 Real Heists More Badass Than Any Movie you can read about at Cracked.

Giant spinning ice circle discovered in North Dakota’s Sheyenne River

Retired engineer videotapes event he describes as 'an amazing wonder'; disc measured 50 feet in diameter

North Dakota's giant spinning ice circle; photo is a screen shot
North Dakota’s giant spinning ice circle
Just about everyone has heard of crop circles, but ice circles?
A retired engineer this week discovered an enormous circle of ice spinning slowly down North Dakota’s Sheyenne River (video posted below).
George Loegering described the rare phenomenon as “an amazing wonder” and can be heard in the video saying that the perfectly round, alien-like disc measured about 50 feet in diameter.
These ice circles, or ice discs, are believed to be formed by eddy currents, and are found only in slow-moving water. Rotational sheer is a scientific explanation of the event. (Picture a large chunk of surface ice breaking free atop a whirlpool eddy, and venturing downstream.)
While the phenomenon is considered rare, ice discs have been documented several times in recent years, in such locations as England, Russia, and the northern United States.
Most of those, however, were small by comparison.
According to Science Frontiers, a spinning ice disc with a diameter of 160 feet was discovered in Sweden’s Pite River in 1987.
The publication stated: “The fringe literature has made much of the huge, slowly spinning discs of ice seen on some rivers in northern climes. UFOs are connected somehow. Or, more recently, they must be associated with the infamous crop circles!”
Presumably, there is no UFO connection to ice circles. But they’re pretty mysterious-looking.

Interesting Causeways From Around The World

A causeway is a road or railway route across a broad body of water or wetland raised up on an embankment. Some causeways may only be usable at low tide and the distinction between causeways and viaducts can become blurred when flood-relief culverts are incorporated in the structure.

A causeway is however primarily supported on earth or stone, whereas a bridge or viaduct is mainly supported by free-standing columns or arches.

What is Sea Level?

We intuitively understand the concept of sea level, but how can it be measured in places that are far from the ocean? The Earth isn't even a regular sphere, so the sea level is different at different places. And then there's the fact that the ocean bulges out more at the equator due to centrifugal force. Add in the question of where would sea level be if there were no land masses -does that enter the equation at all? The technical definition of where sea level is for different places is pretty complicated, but Minute Physics does their best to give us an overview. Aren't you glad there are people dedicated to figuring these things out?

Why We Can't Tickle Ourselves

Ever try to tickle yourself? It doesn't work! Anthony explains how tickling works and why it's something you can't do alone

The Expansion of the Universe and Your Waistline

The universe is gradually expanding over time, growing larger and larger with each passing moment. You may have noticed that your own body is expanding, too. This is not a coincidence. When your body expands, acquiring additional volume and mass, it’s because of a basic, inescapable physical phenomenon.
Don’t blame yourself—or blame anything else. What’s happening to you is a natural process, as Cyanide & Happiness explains.



New clues about human sacrifices at ancient Peruvian temple

Human-sacrifice rituals at an ancient Moche temple in Peru likely featured the killing of war captives from distant valleys, according to an analysis of bones and teeth at the site.
New clues about human sacrifices at ancient Peruvian temple
The sacrificial victims were killed, displayed, and later swept into pits
[Credit: Dr. John Verano]
The human remains—mutilated, dismembered, and buried in pits—help explain territorial struggles among the Moche, who ruled Peru's arid coast from around 100 A.D. to 850 A.D.

Debate among scholars over Moche human sacrifices has centered on the question of whether they were ritual killings of elites or of war prisoners, says archaeologist John Verano of Tulane University in New Orleans, one of the authors of the report, available online and in an upcoming issue of Journal of Archaeological Science.

"They look like war captives," Verano concludes, pointing to the study's bone chemistry results, which suggest that sacrifice victims came from far away in the late days of the Moche empire.

Appeasing the Gods

The Moche left behind distinctive pottery, irrigation works, and giant adobe mounds, some adorned with murals depicting war captives.

Among the largest-known Moche ruins is the brick mound site of Huacas de Moche, located near the modern-day city of Trujillo, Peru. The mound consists of three platforms connected by corridors, plazas, and temples.

Roughly 70 sacrifice victims have been found there so far—an indication of frequent human offerings. That alone suggests the slaughter of captured warriors rather than rare killings of elites to appease the gods in religious rituals, Verano says. The victims were killed, displayed, and later swept into pits.

"You don't deny a proper burial, deflesh, mutilate, and turn your elites' bones into trophies as they did [at Huacas de Moche]," says Verano, whose work has been partly supported by National Geographic Society grants. "You don't make a drinking mug out of your elite [ruler's] skull."

Sacrifice ceremonies are depicted in Moche artwork, often showing the killing of bound, naked men. Priests and priestesses are portrayed offering goblets filled with the victims' blood to supernatural beings.

The sacrifice victims' bones were then left for vultures.

Victims From Far Away

The new report is the result of work on the remains of 34 people, some buried in neatly ordered graves and others in burial pits, the latter including young men with their throats slit and bones dismembered.

The chief author of the report, J. Marla Toyne of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, led efforts to analyze oxygen isotopes in the remains of the dead.

The water that people drink leaves specific oxygen traces in bones and teeth, which can help determine where victims lived, both in infancy and in the last decade of their lives. In the case of the Huaca de Moche burials, the male elite—buried in neat graves—were all locals who drank the local river water.

A Long-Term Shift

In the heyday of Huacas de Moche, around 600 A.D., perhaps 25,000 people lived there. Two large temples, the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) and the Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), sat atop the mound.

"Who you are choosing to kill, who you are choosing to sacrifice, says a lot about how you see other people," Toyne says. "We are seeing a long-term shift in the origins of sacrifice victims to farther and farther away."

For the past two decades, archaeologists have suspected that some Moche states pursued empire-building along the Andean coast, says Peruvian Ministry of Culture archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, who was not part of the study team.

"The Southern Moche, based in the Huacas de Moche, seem to have been the truly expansionist ones," he wrote by email. "Marla Toyne's research proves this with isotopic information."

Game of Thrones

When Huacas de Moche was first discovered 50 years ago, archaeologists thought that it was the capital of a long-standing Moche empire rather than a city that had expanded its geographic dominance over time.

The new study suggests that Moche centers vied with each other for power and resources, which likely led to warfare. The battles led to the taking of captives, and it seems that captives were slain in sacrifice ceremonies.

Another intriguing result of the bone analysis is that elite women buried at the temples also appear to have largely come from elsewhere.

That points to a "patrilocal" system for the Moche, suggesting that they traded "princess brides" between centers, Verano says. "Not so different from now in some places."

Overall, the findings are updating the view of the enigmatic Moche, who didn't leave behind records as detailed as those of contemporaries such as the Maya of Central America.

"We have to do a lot of careful detective work, still," says Verano, who has been part of excavation work at Huaca de Moches for more than a decade.

Remains of girl sacrificed 1,500 years ago found in Peru

Archaeologists have uncovered remains of a girl who was most probably used as a sacrifice some 1,500 years ago, according to RPP radio.
Remains of girl sacrificed 1,500 years ago found in Peru
The girl was most likely used as a sacrifice some 1,500 years ago,
say archaeologists [Credit: Peruvian Times]
The discovery was made in the district of Yautan, 40km inland from Casma in the Ancash region. The remains of the girl were discovered in a tomb by a group of archaeologists and students from the University of Santiago Antunez de Mayolo in Huaraz.

The archaeologists believe the girl could have been sacrificed as an offering to gods of the sea, perhaps as protection against the climate changes caused by the El Nino ocean current.

The team of experts, led by archaeologist Hilder Cruz, believe the burial site is possibly Wari culture, although in excavations a year ago, pots found were from Chavin.  Also in Chavin fashion, the site was built at the confluence of two rivers, the Chavin and the Yautan.

The Wari empire spanned much of modern Peru during the 8th and 9th Centuries A.D. Experts say that its capital, Huari, had a population of some 40,000 people, which would have been a major global urban center at the time. Much is still not known about the Wari, which like other pre-Hispanic civilizations, is overshadowed in Peru by the Incas.

The Yautan project, which began two years ago, is being funded by the local Municipality, which is setting aside a small part of the site for private investment in a museum.  According to Cruz, several of the archaeology students are also contributing to some of the expenses.

A 10,000 year old house unearthed in Israel

An extensive archaeological excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to widening Highway 38, which is being underwritten by the Netivei Israel Company, is producing amazing finds that provide a broad picture covering thousands of years of development of human society
10,000 year old house unearthed in Israel
A Chalcolithic period building and the standing stone (mazzevā) positioned
at the end of it [Credit:: Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority]
Among the rare finds uncovered in the excavation: evidence of a 6,000 year old cultic temple and the first 10,000 year old building to be discovered in the Judean Shephelah and a nearby cluster of rare axes

An extensive archaeological excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to widening Highway 38, which is being underwritten by the Netivei Israel Company, is producing amazing finds that provide a broad picture covering thousands of years of development of human society. Settlement remains were unearthed at the site, the earliest of which dates to the beginning of the eighth millennium BCE and latest to the end of the fourth millennium BCE.
10,000 year old house unearthed in Israel
This standing stone (mazzevā), which is worked on all of its sides, is believed to be evidence
 of cultic activity [Credit: Zinobi Moskowitz/Israel Antiquities Authority]
The finds revealed at the site range from the period when man first started to domesticate plants and animals, instead of searching for them in the wild, until the period when we see the beginnings of proper urban planning.

The oldest artifacts that were exposed at the site are ascribed to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (10,000 YBP). According to Dr. Amir Golani, Dr. Ya‘akov Vardi, Benyamin Storchan and Dr. Ron Be’eri, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is the first time that such an ancient structure has been discovered in the Judean Shephelah. The building, almost all of which was found, underwent a number of construction and repair phases that allude to its importance. It should be emphasized that whoever built the house did something that was totally innovative because up until this period man migrated from place to place in search of food. Here we have evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings and that in fact is the beginning of the domestication of animals and plants; instead of searching out wild sheep, ancient man started raising them near the house”.
10,000 year old house unearthed in Israel
View of the 10,000-year-old house unearthed near the town of Eshtaol, Judean
Shephelah [Credit: Dr Ya’akov Vardi/Israel Antiquities Authority]
A cluster of nine flint and limestone axes that were discovered lying side by side was found near this prehistoric building. “It is apparent that the axes, some of which were used as tools and some as cultic objects, were highly valued by their owners. Just as today we are unable to get along without a cellular telephone and a computer, they too attributed great importance to their tools. Based on how it was arranged at the time of its discovery it seems that the cluster of axes was abandoned by its owner for some unknown reason”.

In the archaeological excavation conducted at Eshta’ol an important and rare find from the end of the Chalcolithic period (second half of the fifth millennium BCE) was discovered in the adjacent area. During the course of the excavation six thousand year old buildings were exposed and a stone column (called a standing stone or mazzeva) was discovered alongside one of them. The standing stone is 1.30 meters high and weighs several hundred kilos. According to the excavation directors, “The standing stone was smoothed and worked on all six of its sides, and was erected with one of its sides facing east. This unique find alludes to the presence of a cultic temple at the site”. The archaeologists said, “In the past numerous manifestations have been found of the cultic practice that existed in the Chalcolithic period; however, from the research we know of only a few temples at ‘En Gedi and at Teleilat Ghassul in Transjordan”.
10,000 year old house unearthed in Israel
An aerial view of the large excavation along Highway 38 [Credit: Sky View
Company/Israel Antiquities Authority]
“We uncovered a multitude of unique finds during the excavation”, says Dr. Amir Golani, one of the excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The large excavation affords us a broad picture of the progression and development of the society in the settlement throughout the ages. Thus we can clearly see that in the Early Bronze Age, 5,000 years ago, the rural society made the transition to an urban society. We can see distinctly a settlement that gradually became planned, which included alleys and buildings that were extremely impressive from the standpoint of their size and the manner of their construction. We can clearly trace the urban planning and see the guiding hand of the settlement’s leadership that chose to regulate the construction in the crowded regions in the center of the settlement and allowed less planning along its periphery. It is fascinating to see how in such an ancient period a planned settlement was established in which there is orderly construction, and trace the development of the society which became increasingly hierarchical”.

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Netivei Israel Company will open the excavation to the visiting public this coming Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cannibal Neanderthals in northern Spain ate their neighbors

Scientists have discovered the remains of a group of Neanderthals in northern Spain who were butchered and eaten by a group of local cannibals, according to research presented at the Royal Society in London.
Cannibal Neanderthals in northern Spain ate their neighbours
A researcher at work in El Sidrón Cave
[Credit: CSIC Comunicación]
A cache of bones which had clearly been cracked open using tools has been analyzed in a painstaking study over the past 13 years.

First discovered deep inside the El Sidron cave system in 1994, the bones had been preserved for 51,000 years and have now been analyzed using modern-day CSI forensic techniques.

According to reports in the Sunday Times, Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona told the Society the slaughtered group included three children aged from two to nine, three teenagers and six adults.

“They appear to have been killed and eaten, with their bones and skulls split open to extract the marrow, tongue and brains,” he said.

“All had been butchered. It must have been a big feast.”

Dr Lalueza-Fox said the bone pile likely washed through a sinkhole from a rocky shelter above, eventually settling in the small alcove of the cave system where they were found.
Cannibal Neanderthals in northern Spain ate their neighbours
Neanderthal foot bones in a block of cemented sand and clay from the
El Sidrón cave in Spain [Credit: PNAS/Rosas et al'
This meant they were kept in a condition unlike almost any other Neanderthal remains, and proved a perfect snapshot of a single, deadly clash, likely between two local gangs.

The tools found at the site of the slaughter came from a few kilometers away, Dr Lalueza-Fox said, suggesting their fellow early human attackers were probably also their neighbors.

Finally, scientists proposed a theory for the motive behind the attack – and a simple one at that.

Unlike the earliest anatomically modern humans, who coped with periods of food shortage by joining forces in large, efficient groups, Neanderthals tended to gather in small family gangs of around 10-12.

When times were tough in winter, this meant they had to resort to extreme measures.

Dr Lalueza-Fox said: “I would guess they were killed in winter when food was short. There is no evidence of any fire so they were eaten raw immediately and every bit of meat was consumed. They even cut around the mandibles of the jaw to extract the tongues.”

Ancient minerals

Which gave rise to life?

Life originated as a result of natural processes that exploited early Earth's raw materials. Scientific models of life's origins almost always look to minerals for such essential tasks as the synthesis of life's molecular building blocks or the supply of metabolic energy. But this assumes that the mineral species found on Earth today are much the same as they were during Earth's first 550 million years -- the Hadean Eon -- when life emerged. A new analysis of Hadean mineralogy challenges that assumption.
Ancient minerals: Which gave rise to life?
The magnesium silicate forsterite was one of the most abundant minerals in the Hadean Eon, and it played a major role in Earth's near-surface processes. The green color of this mineral (which is also known as the semi-precious gemstone peridot, the birthstone of August) is caused by small amounts iron. The iron can react with seawater to promote chemical reactions that may have played a role in life's origins [Credit: Robert Downs, University of Arizona, Ruff Project]
Carnegie's Robert Hazen compiled a list of every plausible mineral species on the Hadean Earth and concludes that no more than 420 different minerals -- about 8 percent of the nearly 5,000 species found on Earth today -- would have been present at or near Earth's surface.

"This is a consequence of the limited ways that minerals might have formed prior to 4 billion years ago," Hazen explained. "Most of the 420 minerals of the Hadean Eon formed from magma -- molten rock that slowly crystallized at or near Earth's surface -- as well as the alteration of those minerals when exposed to hot water."

By contrast, thousands of mineral species known today are the direct result of growth by living organisms, such as shells and bones, as well as life's chemical byproducts, such as oxygen from photosynthesis. In addition, hundreds of other minerals that incorporate relatively rare elements such as lithium, beryllium, and molybdenum appear to have taken a billion years or more to first appear because it is difficult to concentrate these elements sufficiently to form new minerals. So those slow-forming minerals are also excluded from the time of life's origins.

"Fortunately for most origin-of-life models, the most commonly invoked minerals were present on early Earth," Hazen said.

For example, clay minerals -- sometimes theorized by chemists to trigger interesting reactions -- were certainly available. Sulfide minerals, including reactive iron and nickel varieties, were also widely available to catalyze organic reactions. However, borate and molybdate minerals, which are relatively rare even today, are unlikely to have occurred on the Hadean Earth and call into question origin models that rely on those mineral groups.

Several questions remain unanswered and offer opportunities for further study of the paleomineralogy of the Hadean Eon. For example, the Hadean Eon differs from today in the frequent large impacts of asteroids and comets -- thousands of collisions by objects with diameters from a mile up to 100 miles. Such impacts would have caused massive disruption of Earth's crust, with extensive fracture zones that were filled with hot circulating water. Such hydrothermal areas could have created complex zones with many exotic minerals.

This study also raises the question of how other planets and moons evolved mineralogically. Hazen suggests that Mars today may have progressed only as far as Earth's Hadean Eon. As such, Mars may be limited to a similar suite of no more than about 400 different mineral species. Thanks to the Curiosity rover, we may soon know if that's the case.

The work is published in American Journal of Science.

See Comet Tails Flap In Solar Wind

Last Thursday, NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory captured images of two comets passing through solar wind. At the center is Comet Encke, and emerging later is Comet ISON.

Daily Comic Relief


How turkeys fly

Turkeys do fly. But they're built more for running, with powerful legs. Those legs, though, come in handy when the birds do take to the air. Unlike other large birds that need a relatively long runway to launch themselves skyward, turkeys can basically just jump up and take off — sort of the helicopter to other birds' 747. 

Black-Naped Blue Monarch

The Black-naped Blue Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) is a slim and agile passerine bird belonging to the family of monarch flycatchers. The bird breeds across tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia and the Philippines.

Humans hunted giant sloths in South America 30,000 years ago

Most scientists agree that humans began arriving in the Americas between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago, and the Clovis people of North and Central America are generally considered the "first Americans." But new fossil evidence from a streambed in southern Uruguay could challenge such theories.
Humans hunted giant sloths in South America 30,000 years ago
A giant sloth bone might hold the key to the peopling of
the Americas [Credit: Martin Batalles]
Results published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggest the presence at the site of human hunters who may have killed giant sloths and other megafauna. That itself isn't odd, but the site, called Arroyo del Vizcaino, has been radiocarbon dated to between 29,000 and 30,000 years old—thousands of years before people were thought to be there.

"That's pretty old for a site that has evidence of human presence, particularly in South America," said study co-author Richard Farina, a paleontologist at Uruguay's Universidad de la Republica.

"So, it's strange and unexpected."

Giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, oversize armadillos, and other large mammals once roamed the Americas—a diversity that would easily rival an African savannah today.

But by 11,000 years ago, many of the species had disappeared, likely due to climate change or the arrival of human hunters in the New World. But when exactly humans got here, and how they arrived, remains unknown.

In 1997, severe drought forced local farmers to drain a lagoon in Arroyo del Vizcaino, which exposed a mysterious bed of gigantic bones.
Humans hunted giant sloths in South America 30,000 years ago
The giant sloth bones were uncovered at a dig site dated at 29,000 to 30,000
years old [Credit: Martin Batalles]
After a series of bureaucratic roadblocks, paleontologists excavated the site in 2011 and 2012, unearthing over a thousand fossils. "From the paleontological point of view, that is absolutely marvelous in itself," Farina said.

Many of the bones belong to three extinct ground sloth species, mainly Lestodon armatus. Weighing in at up to four tons, the animals "were the size of smallish elephants," he said.

Fossils from other common South American megafauna turned up in the mud as well: three species of glyptodonts, or armadillo ancestors; a hippo-like animal called a toxodon, which has no living relatives; a South American saber-toothed cat (Smilodon populator); and an elephant-like stegomastodon, among others.

Some of the bones bear telltale markings of human tools, which suggests the animals were hunted for food. The team also found a potentially human-made scraper that could have been used on dry animal hides, and stone flakes.

Clues from the site point to a human presence at Arroyo del Vizcaino much earlier than accepted theories of migration. Farina and his team are both excited and cautious about their results.

Farina said the strength of the new evidence lies in the team's methodology and the fact that two of the bones they tested for dating also bore markings similar to those made by human tools. "The association can't be closer than it is," he said.
Humans hunted giant sloths in South America 30,000 years ago
Panoramic view and orientation of the bones: (a) the bonebed showing the 1 m grid used to
reference collected elements: (b) schematic of the bones to show their orientation
[Credit: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,
doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2211]
The date of Arroyo del Vizcaino may make some archaeologists cringe: South America's earliest human settlement at Monte Verde in Chile dates to only 14,000 years ago.

The study certainly does not prove definitively that humans were killing giant sloths 30,000 years ago in South America.

The fossils found at Arroyo del Vizcaino might simply be a product of nature mimicking human tools, and the authors acknowledge that possibility.

"South America played an exceptionally important role in the peopling of the Americas, and I'm pretty sure we have some significant surprises waiting for us," Bonnie Pitblado, an archaeologist at the University of Oklahoma who was not associated with the study, said in an email.

"Maybe people killing sloths at [the Arroyo del Vizcaino site] 30,000 years ago is one of them, maybe it's not—but it certainly isn't going to hurt to have it on our collective radar screen as we continue to contemplate the peopling of the New World."

The Uruguayan team has further excavations and environmental reconstruction studies planned for the site.

Farina estimates that it could yield a thousand more bones, and they plan to build a local museum to house the site's many fossils.

Fresh effort to clone extinct animal

Scientists in Spain have received funding to test whether an extinct mountain goat can be cloned from preserved cells. The bucardo became extinct in 2000, but cells from the last animal were frozen in liquid nitrogen.
Fresh effort to clone extinct animal
A Spanish mountain goat, the Pyrenean Ibex, was formally confirmed as extinct in 2000
when the last one of its kind was discovered dead [Credit: Gobierno de Aragon]
In 2003, a cloned calf was brought to term but died a few minutes after birth. Now, the scientists will test the viability of the female bucardo's 14-year-old preserved cells.

The bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, calf born through cloning was an historic event: the first "de-extinction", in which a lost species or sub-species was resurrected.

The Aragon Hunting Federation signed an agreement with the Centre for Research and Food Technology of Aragon (CITA) in Zaragoza to begin preliminary work on the cells from the last animal, named Celia.

One of the scientists behind the cloning effort, Dr Alberto Fernandez-Arias, told BBC News: "At this moment, we are not initiating a 'bucardo recovery plan', we only want to know if Celia's cells are still alive after having been maintained frozen during 14 years in liquid nitrogen."

In addition to this in vitro work, they will also attempt to clone embryos and implant them in female goats.

"In this process, one or more live female bucardo clones could be obtained. If that is the case, the feasibility of a bucardo recovery plan will be discussed," Dr Fernandez-Arias, who is head of the Aragon Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands Service, explained.

The bucardo (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) was a sub-species of ibex, with distinct physical and genetic characteristics to other mountain goats inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula. It was perfectly adapted to life in its mountain habitat, and to survive the extreme cold and snow of winter in the Pyrenees.

However, its population had been declining for years for several reasons, including hunting. In April 1999, researchers captured the last animal, a female named Celia. They obtained skin biopsies and froze the tissue in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196C (-321F).

The following year, Celia was killed by a falling tree in the National Park of Ordesa in north-east Spain. But a team including Dr Fernandez-Arias, Jose Folch and others were able to inject nuclei from Celia's preserved cells into goat eggs that had been emptied of their own DNA.

Then they implanted the eggs into surrogates - hybrids between Spanish ibex and domestic goats. Of 57 implantations, seven animals became pregnant and one was carried to term.

The baby bucardo was born in 2003 - the first successful "de-extinction". But the clone of Celia died a few minutes later due to a defect in one of its lungs. Earlier this year, Dr Fernandez-Arias related the story in a TEDx talk, as part of a meeting on de-extinction.

Even if the new effort succeeds in producing healthy clones, any future recovery plan for the bucardo would be fraught with difficulty - especially given the only frozen tissue is from a lone female.

One possible approach for bringing back the bucardo might be to cross a healthy female bucardo clone with a closely related sub-species - such as the Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica hispanica) or the Gredos ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae) - and then selectively breeding the offspring to enhance traits typical of the bucardo.

Several other possibilities could also be explored. For instance, researchers have been able to reverse the sex of female mouse embryos by introducing a key gene that makes them develop as males.
Other options

In addition, George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard University, explained that a technique known as Crispr opened up new opportunities in the field of endangered species conservation and de-extinction. The technique allows researchers to edit genomes with extraordinary precision.

Such "genome editing" techniques could be used to introduce genetic diversity in populations that are so closely related it poses a threat to their survival.

"In some cases, you have a hunch as to what diversity is needed. You might specifically want diversity in the major histocompatibility complex [a large gene family involved in immune responses]," Prof Church told BBC News.

"For example, part of the problem with the Tasmanian devil is that they are so closely related in terms of their immune system that they have problems rejecting the facial tumour cells that they spread by biting each other."

However, he said, such techniques might eventually offer a way to extensively edit the genome of an Asian elephant to make it more like a mammoth, using a genetic sequence from the extinct animals.

Commenting on plans for the bucardo cells, the Aragon Hunting Federation said it wanted to "develop initiatives in the field of ecology in order to defend the natural environment".

The sum provided to fund the research at CITA has not been disclosed.

Forgotten ape threatened by human activity, forest loss

The most detailed range-wide assessment of the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee) ever conducted has revealed that this poorly known and endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world with growing human populations. The loss of usable habitat is attributed to both forest fragmentation and poaching, according to a new study by University of Georgia, University of Maryland, the Wildlife Conservation Society, ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority), African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto University, and other groups.
Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team found that the bonobo— one of humankind’s closest living relatives —avoids areas of high human activity and forest fragmentation. As little as 28 percent of the bonobo’s range remains suitable, according to the model developed by the researchers in the study, which now appears in the December edition of Biodiversity and Conservation.
“This assessment is a major step towards addressing the substantial information gap regarding the conservation status of bonobos across their entire range,” said lead author Dr. Jena R. Hickey of Cornell University and the University of Georgia. “The results of the study demonstrate that human activities reduce the amount of effective bonobo habitat and will help us identify where to propose future protected areas for this great ape.”
“For bonobos to survive over the next 100 years or longer, it is extremely important that we understand the extent of their range, their distribution, and drivers of that distribution so that conservation actions can be targeted in the most effective way and achieve the desired results,” said Ashley Vosper of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Bonobos are probably the least understood great ape in Africa, so this paper is pivotal in increasing our knowledge and understanding of this beautiful and charismatic animal.”
The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common chimpanzee. The great ape’s social structure is complex and matriarchal. Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse tension or aggression with sexual behaviors.
The entire range of the bonobo lies within the lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and currently beset with warfare and insecurity. The research team created a predictive model using available field data to define bonobo habitat and then interpolated to areas lacking data. Specifically, the team compiled data on bonobo nest locations collected by numerous organizations between the years 2003-2010. This produced 2364 “nest blocks,” with a block defined as a 1-hectare area occupied by at least one bonobo nest.
The group then tested a number of factors that addressed both ecological conditions (describing forests, soils, climate, and hydrology) and human impacts (distance from roads, agriculture, forest loss, and density of “forest edge”) and produced a spatial model that identified and mapped the most important environmental factors contributing to bonobo occurrence. The researchers found that distance from agricultural areas was the most important predictor of bonobo presence. In addition to the discovery that only 28 percent of the bonobo range is classified as suitable for the great ape, the researchers also found that only 27.5 percent of that suitable bonobo habitat is located in existing protected areas.
“Bonobos that live in closer proximity to human activity and to points of human access are more vulnerable to poaching, one of their main threats,” said Dr. Janet Nackoney, a Research Assistant Professor at University of Maryland and second author of the study. “Our results point to the need for more places where bonobos can be safe from hunters, which is an enormous challenge in the DRC.”
Dr. Nate Nibbelink, Associate Professor at the University of Georgia, added: “The bonobo habitat suitability map resulting from this work allows us to identify areas that are likely to support bonobos but have not yet been surveyed, thereby optimizing future efforts.”
“By examining all available data provided by a team of leading researchers, we can create the kind of broad-scale perspective needed to formulate effective conservation plans and activities for the next decade,” said Dr. Hjalmar S. Kühl of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
“The fact that only a quarter of the bonobo range that is currently suitable for bonobos is located within protected areas is a finding that decision-makers can use to improve management of existing protected areas, and expand the country’s parks and reserves in order to save vital habitat for this great ape,” said Innocent Liengola, WCS’s Project Director for the Bonobo Conservation Project and co-author on the study.
“The future of the bonobo will depend on the close collaboration of many partners working towards the conservation of this iconic ape,” said Dr. Liz Williamson of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and coordinator of the action planning process which instigated the bonobo data compilation for this study. In 2012, the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) and the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) published a report titled Bonobo (Pan paniscus): Conservation Strategy 2012-2022.

Animal Pictures