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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Daily Drift

Six Days To Go ....

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Today in History

1154 Henry II is crowned king of England.
1562 The French Wars of Religion between the Huguenots and the Catholics begins with the Battle of Dreux.
1793 French troops recapture Toulon from the British.
1862 Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest begins tearing up the railroads in Union generals Grant and Rosecrans rear, causing considerable delays in the movement of Union supplies.
1900 The French Parliament votes amnesty for everyone involved in the Dreyfus Affair.
1909 American socialist women denounce suffrage as a movement of the middle class.
1941 Japanese land on Hong Kong and clash with British troops.
1941 Adolf Hitler assumes the position of commander in chief of the German army.
1942 The British advance 40 miles into Burma in a drive to oust the Japanese from the colony.
1944 During the Battle of the Bulge, American troops begin pulling back from the twin Belgian cities of Krinkelt and Rocherath in front of the advancing German Army.
1945 Congress confirms Eleanor Roosevelt as U.S. delegate to the United Nations.
1950 The North Atlantic Council names General Dwight D. Eisenhower as supreme commander of Western European defense forces.
1959 Reputed to be the last civil war veteran, Walter Williams, dies at 117 in Houston.
1974 Nelson Rockefeller is sworn in as vice president of the United states after a House of Representatives vote.
1982 Four bombs explode at South Africa's only nuclear power station in Johannesburg.
1984 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang sign an agreement that committed Britain to return Hong Kong to China in 1997 in return for terms guaranteeing a 50-year extension of its capitalist system. Hong Kong was leased by China to Great Britain in 1898 for 99 years.
1998 President Bill Clinton is impeached. The House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton was the second president in American history to be impeached.
2001 The highest barometric pressure ever recorded (1085.6 hPa, 32.06 inHg) occurs at Tosontsengel, Khovsgol, Mongolia.
2001 Rioting begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the country's economic crisis.
2012 Park Geun-hye elected President of South Korea, the nation's first female chief executive.

Non Sequitur


Xmas Countdown Xmas Stories

Five Little Evergreens
Five little evergreens
outside in a row.

The first one said,
"Let's look at the snow."

The second one said,
"Oh-oh, it's getting cold."
The third one said,
"Xmas is coming so I'm told."

The fourth one said,
"I hope someone decorates me."

The fifth one said,
"We'll just have to wait and see."
5 little evergreens  

Hearing for North Carolina Election Law Challenge Set For July 2014

Last week, federal Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake scheduled a hearing for July 2014, to impose a temporary injunction on North Carolina's "voter ID" law.…

This repugican Moronically Compares ACA to Nazis and Terrorists

bob rucho 
On Sunday, State Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican out of North Carolina, took to Twitter and decided to make a comparison that is just unbelievable in its idiocy and complete lack of historical awareness and understanding. Below is the tweet:
Bob Rucho @SenatorBobRucho 
Justice Robert's pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined.
Yep. Rucho decided that Obamacare has caused more damage than Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and all the terrorist attacks COMBINED. Obviously, when discussing a health care law that has allowed millions of more Americans to get coverage, the best thing to do is make sure you bring up Nazis, right? Heck, why not bring up slavery as well?
Obviously, the tweet spread like wildfire and people let Rucho know how disgusted they were with his statement. I think the responses Rucho received can really be summed up in this little nugget of awesomeness:
Bob Rucho @SenatorBobRucho
Justice Robert's pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined.
Do you think this is really how @SenatorBobRucho wanted to spend his 15 minutes of fame -- as an ignorant buffoon? Well played, sir!

Of course, Rucho had to respond back on Twitter after the crap really started hitting the fan. Here was what he had to say:
Bob Rucho @SenatorBobRucho 
Those that tweeted, put your thinking caps back on:"The PEN is mightier than the SWORD."Edward Bulwar-Lytton,1839. But surely you knew that.

Well, that certainly clears it up. Or it just shows that Rucho has absolutely no clue and he thought he was being clever by referencing a famous quote. Was there an apology about referencing groups of people and events that caused millions of deaths? No. Not at all. Instead, Rucho thinks he was able to point out that because the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ that it totally justifies his idiotic and insensitive statement.
Then again, this is a man that used the occasion of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination to tweet this out:
Bob Rucho @SenatorBobRucho 
JFK could have been the founder and leader of the tea party. The real democrat party has been hijacked.
Of course, he would have been. Keep telling yourself that. While you’re at it, keep trying to convince everyone that the repugican cabal is for civil rights due to it being the Party of Lincoln. And that MLK would have been a repugican if he was alive today. Just keep believing in your fantasies, Bob.

POTUSING While Black

The repugicans Claim Obama Is Forbidden from Issuing Executive Orders 
The thinking among repugicans is that this President is forbidden from issuing executive orders and they have indicated that he is abusing the authority that every other president…
The word imperial has several meanings, but where unrestrained power of a country’s leader is concerned it relates to or suggests an empire or an emperor. The Founding Fathers were well-aware of the dangers of an imperial presidency, and as revolutionaries who detested kings coupled with their great concern that in establishing the United States they did not accidentally create a kingdom, they sharply limited presidential authority. The repugicans hardly noticed the imperial presidency of convicted war criminal the shrub, or so much as blinked when he issued executive orders. However, when the people elected an African American man to lead the executive branch, every executive order informed them America had fallen into the hands of an imperial President.
According to repugicans, Barack Obama became an imperial President for having the audacity to occupy the White House while being Black, and there has not been one instance of him issuing an executive order that repugicans did not decry “presidential overreach.” On Faux News last year, they claimed the “President planned to spend 2012 governing without Congress as part of Barack Obama’s re-election strategy.” One Faux legal analyst said that the “subtext” of Obama’s use of executive orders is “an abdication or giving up in terms of this notion of consensus.” Newt Gingrich, a presidential candidate at the time, concurred with the Faux brain trust and said, “I am insulted that a president of the United States would think that he could pretend to govern for a year without the Congress; it would be totally unconstitutional, and would represent a fundamental breach in our system.” The breach that drove repugicans to claim President Obama intended to govern an entire year without Congress was issuing executive orders while being Black, and now a cabal of House repugicans is calling for civil action against the President for “moving his administration in the direction of an imperial presidency.”
The repugican leading the charge, Representative Tom Rice (SC), introduced a House resolution directing the repugican-led chamber to bring action for “declaratory or injuctive (sic) relief to challenge policies and actions taken by the executive branch.” Co-sponsors of Rice’s resolution include the regular cast of Obama haters Michele Bachmann, Jim Bridenstine (r-OK), Tom Price (r-GA), Joe Wilson (r-SC) and Ted Yoho (r-TX); definitely not the best Constitutional minds in Congress. However, repugicans have hardly shown any comprehension of the Constitution since a Black man, and Constitutional scholar, occupied the White House. Rice and company want the House to take civil action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for, what else, aspects of the Affordable Care Act as well as the President’s deferred deportation policies for certain immigrants (children brought to America by their parents) they claim are “illegals;” decent Americans call them “undocumented.”
The thinking among repugicans is that this President is forbidden from issuing executive orders and they have indicated on numerous occasions that he is abusing the authority that every other president in the modern-era practiced with impunity. There was even a blatantly outrageous number, over 900, of Obama executive orders that conservatives repeated as if uttered from the mouth of god, but was debunked handily by any American with half-a-brain or access to the readily available Federal Register from the U.S. Office of the Federal Register. The true number of the President’s executive orders is 164, and is the fewest of any president over the past 100 years, but he is Black and it is likely that even one was an abomination in the eyes of racist repugicans and their news outlet Faux News.
Some of the repugicans decrying the President’s use of executive orders alleged the President all but suspended the Constitution and appointed himself emperor, and it drove one to assert that Obama committed impeachable offenses for doing what any white president did as leader of the Executive Branch of government. Libertarian teabagger and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul accused the President of “acting like a king or a monarch,” and South Carolina congressman Jeff Duncan declared in January that, “We live in a republic, not a dictatorship.” Evangelical Mike Huckabee who wants to replace the Constitution with the ten commandments proclaimed that the Obama White House has “nothing but contempt for the Constitution” and seeks to “trump the checks and balances of power in which no branch could act unilaterally.” Texas congressman Steve Stockman threatened impeachment because a President Obama issued executive orders, but forgot what fellow Texan  the shrub did while governing without Congress to keep the nation at war with Iraq.
In fact, President Obama has issued far fewer executive orders than his predecessor, the shrub that scholars and pundits alike regarded as the man who was an imperial pretrnder. The shrub issued 287 executive orders during his tenure as warmonger in chief, and in July 2007, the nation headed toward a Constitutional showdown over the shrub’s contention that he, and not the United States’ Congress, decided when the nation went to war and how it was funded.
By July 2007 it was common knowledge the shrub lied to take the nation to war in Iraq, and as Congress moved closer to passing a bill to limit or end the pre-emptive invasion and subsequent quagmire in Iraq, the shrub asserted that Congress did not have the power to stop the war. The shryb said in a press conference that “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war, they ought to be funding the troops.” According to the Constitution, not only does Congress have the sole authority to take the nation to war, but it is also in their purview to allocate, or withhold, funds for an illegal war as they saw fit; not what an imperial pretender dictated. However, the war was hardly the only area where the shrub expanded his powers beyond all legal justification, even though taking the nation to war on a lie is the ultimate expression of the danger of an imperial pretender; something the Founding Fathers understood well. However, in the shrub’s case the Founders and their Constitution was firmly on Congress’s side but the shrub prevailed, Congress failed, and despite the Constitution the only imperial pretender in the nation’s history kept the nation at war. Now, repugicans are ready to take President Obama to U.S. District Court for issuing an executive order delaying an aspect of the Affordable Care Act that repugicans complained for months did not give business’s time to prepare for changes in the healthcare reform law’s reporting requirements.
The repugicans have several issues going on with accusations President Obama is overreaching his authority in issuing even one executive order. First, he is the legally elected President and it is a fact they cannot accept despite the results of two elections. Second, he is not rolling over and ceding power to repugicans to run the government from the minority and he is not obeying their dictates without question. Third, and likely the heart of the matter, he is an African American they consider an outsider, illegal, not one of them (white), and maybe most importantly he is a real Constitutional scholar who directed the country out of his predecessor’s imperial presidency. The repugicans’ hatred for the President inform the calls for impeachment that began within weeks of his first term and continue unabated whether it is over phony scandals, the Supreme Court declaring the Affordable Care Act constitutional, shaking hands with the leader of a foreign government, or dog-forbid; exercising his constitutional right as leader of the Executive Branch to issue executive orders. Something they are certain gives them the right to demand “declaratory or injuctive (sic) relief to challenge policies and actions taken by the executive branch,” and something they never considered when the white guy led the nation to war over a pack of lies.

Democrats Gave Paul Ryan an Inch and Now He Is Trying to Take a Mile

Democrats allowed repugicans to behave badly and Ryan just said they will behave very badly and hold the debt limit hostage until his Path to Prosperity ransom is not met …
paul ryan  
There is an idiom, “Give somebody an inch and they’ll take a mile” that means if you allow someone to behave badly at all, they will start to behave very badly; especially when it involves making concessions. One can excuse someone for making concessions to a cabal they believe will not take the act of conceding as a sign of weakness, start behaving very badly, and take more until there is nothing left to take, but there is no excuse for conceding anything to bad actors dedicated to taking everything. Such is the state of Democrats who made concessions to repugicans in the recent bicameral negotiations resulting in a bad budget agreement that House Democrats approved to avert a government shutdown in January. The agreement typifies the idiom that because Democrats gave Paul Ryan and repugicans an inch, they will take a mile, and that is what Ryan said yesterday before the agreement is even approved in the Senate and signed by the President setting it in stone for two years.
Ryan, the new face of “compassionate wingnuttery,” went on Faux News yesterday and said what many predicted the repugican cabal would do when Congress must act to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debts; extract more concessions from Democrats. Ryan said, “We as a caucus — along with our Senate counterparts — are going to meet and discuss what it is we’re going to want out of the debt limit. We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit. We’re going to decide what it is we’re going to accomplish out of this debt limit fight.” Ryan even revealed that repugicans were planning on concessions they will demand for doing their Constitutional duty and pay debts Congress already ran up; in part for billions in oil, church, and agriculture subsidies, but that is another story.
According to Ryan, repugicans will decide what their list of concessions and ransom demands as a payment for raising the debt limit will be when House and Senate repugicans “meet in our retreats after the holidays and discuss exactly what it is we’re going to get for this.” Ryan even had the temerity to complain that “One of the problems and concerns I have with the debt limit is: We don’t know when it’s going to hit. Jack Lew, the treasury secretary, has ultimate discretion on when this could occur. So the timing of this is very much in doubt.” Apparently unlike most working Americans, repugicans get to enjoy a couple of weeks of underserved time off from work during their holiday hiatus and cannot depend on Treasury Secretary Lew to give them a firm date that may interfere with their plans to draw up their list of ransom concessions from Democrats during their retreats.
Democrats already conceded more than an inch to repugicans in the budget agreement, but as the saying goes, give them most of the Path to Prosperity budget proposals, and they will take the rest during the debt ceiling crisis in 2014. Democrats already gave them steeper spending cuts than Ryan’s barbaric budget called for, let them keep 99.6% of their precious sequester in place, enacted cuts to entitlement programs, let them take unemployment benefits from 1.3 million jobless Americans, and gave them $41 billion in federal employee and veteran’s pensions. Yes, it is more than “an inch” worth of concessions, but it informed Republicans they could take more in 2014 in the form of Path to Prosperity ransom demands. Sadly, although Democrats gave repugicans more cuts than Ryan’s budget demanded, the real damage is due when they hold the debt ceiling hostage.
Maybe Democrats don’t remember what the Path to Prosperity entailed, but they will get a stark reminder when repugicans hand over their list of demands to do their jobs and pay the debts they racked up over the past 12 years. Debt for unfunded tax cuts for the rich, two unfunded wars, hundreds of billions in no-bid contracts to Cheney’s company Halliburton, and a prohibitively expensive gift to big pharma in the shrub’s Medicare prescription plan. What Ryan did not get in the budget agreement was Medicare privatization, steep cuts to Social Security, raising the retirement age, deep cuts to Medicaid, $133 billion in cuts to SNAP (food stamps), tax hikes on the poor, and massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Those items will be on the list of concessions repugicans demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling that many, many Americans fail to understand is fundamentally unconstitutional.
The debt ceiling, debt limit, whatever repugicans call it is not in the Constitution. It is a legislative construct that repugicans have used to extract concessions from Democrats in the form of Draconian cuts affecting the poor and tax gifts for the richest 2% of income earners. The Constitution is very clear that the “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, shall not be questioned;” including for “the payment of pensions” repugicans convinced Democrats to steal from military retirees and government employees’ to reduce the unquestionable public debt. Now, Ryan admitted repugicans will demand more concessions because since Barack Obama has been President, the repugican cabal routinely questions the validity of the public debt. It is a mystery why the President, or any Democrat, has not told the American people that questioning the validity of the nation’s debt is unconstitutional; and remind them the repugicans questioning it swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.
President Obama said just over a month ago that he would not negotiate with repugicans over the nation’s debt, and Treasury Secretary Lew said “they should just extend the debt limit way in advance and not have any sense of crisis at all.” That was before Democrats gave repugicans more than an inch in the budget agreement, and when the crisis over raising the debt ceiling comes up in a couple of months, Ryan and company will be there with a list of concessions they expect Democrats to meet. If the past week is any indication, that list will be everything in the Path to Prosperity Democrats did not concede last week. If any American thinks it will not happen, just consider that Ryan said “we are going to meet and discuss exactly what it is we’re going to get out of the debt limit” before the budget agreement is even signed into law. Democrats allowed repugicans to behave badly and Ryan just said they will behave very badly and hold the debt limit hostage until his Path to Prosperity ransom is paid. It is what happens when the Party that won the last election conceded and let repugicans think they won; obviously they did.

Capitalism Requires Regulation

Seven Ripoffs Capitalists Would Like to Keep out of the Media

Tax-avoiding, consumer-exploiting big business leaders are largely responsible for these abuses. Congress just lets it happen. Corporate heads and members of Congress seem incapable of relating to the people that are being victimized, and the mainstream media seems to have lost the ability to express the views of lower-income Americans.

1. Corporations Profit from Food Stamps

It's odd to think about billion-dollar financial institutions objecting to cuts in the SNAP program, but some of them are administrators of the program, collecting fees from a benefit meant for children and other needy Americans, and enjoying subsidies of state tax money for services that could be performed by the states themselves. They want more people on food stamps, not less. Three corporations have cornered the market: JP Morgan, Xerox, and eFunds Corp.

2. Crash the Economy, Get Your Money Back. Die with a Student Loan, Stay in Debt.

The financial industry has manipulated the bankruptcy laws to ensure that high-risk derivatives, which devastated the market in 2008, have FIRST CLAIM over savings deposit insurance, pension funds, and everything else.

3. Almost 70 Percent of Corporations Are Not Required to Pay ANY Federal Taxes

And that's even before tax avoidance kicks in. The 'nontaxable' designation exempts 69% of U.S. corporations from taxes, thus sparing them the expense of hiring tax lawyers to contrive tax avoidance strategies.

4. Lotteries Pay for Corporate Tax Avoidance

This means revenue comes from the poorest residents of a community rather than from billion-dollar corporations. Many of the lottery players don't realize how bad the odds are. Fill out $2 tickets for 12 hours a day for 50 years and you'll have half a chance of winning.

5. The National Football League Pays No Federal Taxes

One of the most profitable organizations in America, with billions in tickets, TV rights, and merchandise sales, and with an NFL Commissioner who earned more money than the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and AT&T, is considered a non-profit. It has a tax-exempt status.

6. Live on Park Avenue, Get a Farm Subsidy

A disturbing but fascinating report called "Farm Subsidies and the Big Dogs" lists Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York City, in that order, as the worst offenders.

7. Profit Margin Magic: Turning a dollar into $100,000

Which costs the consumer more, printer ink or bottled water? Calculations by DataGenetics reveal that the ink in a $16.99 cartridge comes to almost $3,400 per gallon. The cost of a gallon of cartridge ink would buy enough gasoline to run the average car for over two years.

Water seems to cost less, until the details are factored in: we're paying for our own public water, which we've given away almost for free, and which comes back to us in no better condition than when it started.

For every 100,000 bottles sold, Nestle pays the proceeds from ONE bottle to those of us (the taxpayers) who own the water.

So This Is Capitalism..

Money Is Disgusting

You've heard how money is among the dirtiest objects in our lives. You've probably also heard how most money contains traces of cocaine. Anthony sees if there's any evidence to back up these commonly held notions.

NSA's bulk phone data collection ruled unconstitutional, 'almost Orwellian,' by federal judge

Judge Richard Leon
In the nation's capital on December 16, 2013, a federal judge has ruled that the National Security Agency's program of bulk phone record collection violates the reasonable expectation of privacy guaranteed to Americans by the Constitution. The judge ordered the federal government to stop gathering call data on two plaintiffs, and to destroy all previously-collected records of their call histories. The ruling by Judge Richard Leon (PDF Link), a US district judge in the District of Columbia, is stayed pending a likely appeal--which may take months. In his 68-page memorandum, Leon wrote that the NSA's vast collection of Americans' phone metadata constitutes an unreasonable search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
"Father of the Constitution" James Madison would be “aghast” at the NSA's actions if he were alive today, wrote Leon.
“The government does not cite a single case in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack,” the judge wrote.
“Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation – most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics – I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”
“Because the government can use daily metadata collection to engage in ‘repetitive, surreptitious surveillance of a citizen’s private goings on,’ the NSA database ‘implicated the Fourth Amendment each time a government official monitors it,” Leon said.
"The almost-Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1970."
From Charlie Savage's report in the Times:
Vanee Vines, a spokeswoman for the N.S.A., had no immediate comment on the ruling by Judge Leon, a 2002 appointee of President George W. Bush. The ruling is the first successful legal challenge brought against the program since it was revealed in June after leaks by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden. It was brought by several plaintiffs led by Larry Klayman, a conservative public-interest lawyer. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a similar lawsuit in the Southern District of New York.
Still from video released by Wikileaks on October 12, 2013 shows intel leaker Edward Snowden speaking during a dinner with US ex-intelligence workers and activists in Moscow on October 9, 2013.
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor whose leaks led to the controversy, issued a statement from his exile in Russia to journalist Glenn Greenwald. Snowden's statement was published by the New York Times and other outlets:
“I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” Snowden wrote. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”
More: NYT, NPR, Guardian, CNN.
Read the judge's 68-page Memorandum Opinion [PDF Link].

Two people jailed for a month while their soap was tested for drugs

Annadel Cruz and Alexander Bernstein spent one month in a Pennsylvania jail while their soap was tested for cocaine. They were released when the laboratory test results revealed the soap to be free of illegal drugs.
The trooper said he stopped the car on Interstate 78 because Cruz was driving five miles per hour above the posted speed limit and "hugging the side of the lane," as the Allentown Morning Call put it. Bernstein's lawyer thinks it is more likely that the trooper's suspicions were aroused by the sight of a young Latina driving a new Mercedes-Benz with out-of-state plates. After pulling over the car, in which Bernstein was a passenger, the trooper claimed to smell marijuana, and Cruz confessed she had smoked pot before leaving New York City. Then the trooper asked if he could search the car, and Cruz supposedly said yes.
What, no forced anal probes like they do in New Mexico and Texas?

There may not be a "Mozart effect"

According to an article in the Harvard Gazette, the idea that studying music improves intelligence is probably a myth:
Though it has been embraced by everyone from advocates for arts education to parents hoping to encourage their kids to stick with piano lessons, a pair of studies... found that music training had no effect on the cognitive abilities of young children. The studies are described in a Dec. 11 paper published in the open-access journal PLoS One.

More than 80 percent of American adults think that music improves children’s grades or intelligence,” Mehr said. “Even in the scientific community, there’s a general belief that music is important for these extrinsic reasons. But there is very little evidence supporting the idea that music classes enhance children’s cognitive development.”

The notion that music training can make someone smarter, Mehr said, can largely be traced to a single study published in Nature. In it, researchers identified what they called the “Mozart effect.” After listening to music, test subjects performed better on spatial tasks.

Though the study was later debunked, the notion that simply listening to music could make someone smarter became firmly embedded in the public imagination...
Details and discussion at the links.

Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

There's IQ, but what's EQ? It's a measure of emotional intelligence and it might be playing a much larger role in your life than you realize. Laci explains what exactly it is and why you should care about it.

Neanderthals Buried Their Dead

Humans weren't the only ones to bury their dead; Neanderthals did it too, according to a new study.

Hobbit's Gollum Lacked Precioussss Vitamins

An offbeat study concluded that evil characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' lost their battle against men, elves and dwarves due to bad nutrition.

Hand Fossil Turns Back Clock on Complex Tool Use

A 1.4-million-year-old hand-bone fossil means the modern human ability to make and use complex tools may have originated far earlier than scientists previously thought.



Rare "snonado" captured on Lake Superior

According to the Weather Channel, there are only six known photographs of winter waterspouts in existence. Then, last week, Jordan Detters captured a good minute and a half of video, showing winter waterspouts dancing along the waves of Lake Superior near Knife River, Minnesota.
While water spouts are relatively common in warm months, producing one in the winter requires a pretty specific set of meteorological circumstances, writes Minnesota Public Radio's chief meteorologist Paul Huttner. Thus, the dearth of images. In fact, for one to form at all you need a temperature difference between the water and the air of 19 degrees C.

Winter waterspouts occur when meteorological conditions are just right. You need a bitter arctic air mass passing over relatively warm lake water, and just enough light, low level wind shear to get the rapidly rising air currents spinning nicely.
Saturday’s contrast between bitter arctic air (air temp was about -7 degrees at Two Harbors nearby) and relatively warmer lake water (offshore surface water temps were around 40 degrees) create an “enhanced lapse rate” as temps cooled rapidly with height above the water. That produces rising air, and the lift needed to generate strong updrafts. Slight wind shear gets the air spinning, and small vortexes can form into waterspouts over the lake.

Earth News

A wild weather phenomenon that causes massive winter flooding in California also dumps snow in East Antarctica.
Italy's Mount Etna displayed its largest eruption in months.

Microscopic shells can record thousands of years of temperature, by the hour

Meet Globigerina bulloides (top) and Globigerinoides ruber (bottom) — two ocean microbes that contribute data to scientific attempts to reconstruct ancient climate changes

Daily Comic Relef


Lion sent flying by buffalo

Bull buffalo comes to the rescue of a friend brought down by young lion in Kruger National Park in South Africa

lion 2
Lion sent flying by buffalo in South Africa; photo is a screen grab from video
First, let it be stated up front that no animals were harmed in the making of this video, except perhaps the ego of a young lion getting badly bruised, as suggested by Barcroft TV in its post.
Two young lions were stalking a buffalo in the Mjejane Reserve on the border of Kruger National Park in South Africa when one lion decided to pounce. After bringing its prey down, the lion thought it would be enjoying a fresh meal of buffalo. It thought wrong. Watch as a bull buffalo comes to the rescue to save its friend, sending the lion flying in this amazing wildlife video:
Ian Matheson, 52, and his son Oliver, 16, were on an early morning drive in Kruger Park when they noticed the lions stalking the African buffalo, a.k.a. a cape buffalo. They watched for 45 minutes until one lion finally brought the buffalo down, as the prey cried out for help. Soon, the cavalry arrived in the form of a bull buffalo, which launched the lion in the air.
One commenter on the Barcroft TV YouTube post said, “I love this!! I always watch these lions attack and brutally kill their prey. It’s about time they get a taste of their own medicine!”

Unique Birth: Gorilla Twins

At Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands, gorilla N'Gayla gave birth to twins. Gorillas usually get only one young at a time. Mother and babies are doing well. Father is OK too.

Cat Domestication Traced to Early Chinese Farms

China, not Egypt, was likely where cats were first domesticated, with felines helping out farmers over 5,300 years ago.

Ice Age Drove Split Between Reindeer and Caribou

Santa's reindeer waited for the end of the last Ice Age to celebrate a family. Now, climate change could tear them apart.

How dogs protect kids against asthma and infection

Children’s risk for developing allergies and asthma is reduced when they are exposed in early infancy to a dog in the household, and now researchers have discovered a reason why. Exposure of mice to dust […]

Dogs are becoming addicted to cane toad hallucinogen

Dogs in Australia are becoming addicted to the hallucinogenic sweat that oozes off the backs of cane toads. Vets in Queensland have warned that some dogs are so desperate for a fix they deliberately hunt down the amphibians to stimulate the excretion of the deadly poison, then lick their prey. Like all addicts, the pooches are risking their lives for their cheap thrill. And with the wet season coming, and plenty of toads with it, dog owners are being warned it's time to have the illicit substances chat with their pets.
Jonathon Cochrane from the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science said there were some dogs he dubbed "serial lickers" who would be treated for cane toad poisoning a few times a year. "To say a dog or a cat is having an hallucination is impossible, but some do star gaze or track something across the room that isn't there and others just stare out of the cage while we're monitoring them," he said.
Cairns Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Dallas McMillan warned patients in a recent newsletter of the risk of addiction. "Some dogs even seem to become seemingly addicted to the "high" from the toads,'' he wrote. "If your dog repeatedly gets poisoned by cane toads, you should consider keeping them inside, especially at night and when it is raining.''

Nikita Den Engelse, 27, of Hemmant, is a woman battling to free her best friend from addiction. Her two-and-a-half year old dachshund-shih tzu cross Wally is now in diversion therapy - also known as being kept inside - after two run-ins with toads and being found frothing and trembling. "The vet told me dogs will lick cane toads because it gives them hallucinations from it," Ms Den Engelse said. "I pretty much cried the whole time. I was thinking 'oh God'. I was concerned he was going to die," she said.

Jaywalking dog caused four-car crash, five-woman fight and two-man punch-up

A jaywalking dog caused a four-car collision, a five-woman fight and a two-man punch-up in Katherine in Australia's Northern Territory on Saturday night. A witness said "they've run into each other, got the shits and started fighting".
Northern Territory Police Superintendent Jo Foley said a woman was driving when a dog ran in front of her vehicle at about 7.15pm. "She braked and was able to stop without collision," Supt Foley said. "A second and third vehicle traveling behind the lead vehicle were able to stop without collision.
"However, the driver of a fourth vehicle traveling behind was apparently distracted and was unable to brake in time to avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front, which pushed all of them into the rears of each other." Supt Foley said a heated exchange between the women followed. An intoxicated man who witnessed the incident reportedly got into a scuffle with one of the women's boyfriends, who turned up at the scene.
"There is information that the drivers were fighting and that a male person was being aggressive, although this person arrived in a vehicle that was not involved in the crash," Supt Foley said. St John Ambulance attended and transported two of the women to Katherine Hospital as a precaution. Sup Foley said that the driver of the fourth vehicle was issued with a traffic infringement notice. It is not known what became of the dog.

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