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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Daily Drift

One Day To Go ....

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Santa's real identity  ... !
Today is - Xmas Eve

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

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Mississauga, Waterloo, Pikangikum, Thunder Bay, Blainville, Britannia, Vancouver, Montreal, George, Ottawa, Joliette, Guelph and Kitchener, Canada
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Santiago, Chile
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The Bottom Saba, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Mexico City, Mexico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Rouen, Paris, Roubaix and Versailles, France
Nuremberg, Sulzbach and Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
Ivrea and Rome, Italy
Nokia, Finland
Madrid, Cadiz, L'Olleria, Zeanuri and Basauri, Spain
Warsaw, Wroclaw and Starachowice, Poland
Bila Tserkva, Zhovti Vody and Kiev, Ukraine
Cambridge, London and Consett, England
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Sarajevo and Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Moscow, Chelyabinsk and Velikiy Novgorod, Russia
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Homebush, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand
Suva, Fiji

Today in History

1638 The Ottomans under Murad IV recapture Baghdad from Safavid Persia.
1812 Joel Barlow, aged 58, American poet and lawyer, dies from exposure near Vilna, Poland, during Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Barlow was on a diplomatic mission to the emperor for President Madison.
1814 A treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, ending the War of 1812, is signed at Ghent, Belgium. The news does not reach the United States until two weeks later (after the decisive American victory at New Orleans).
1861 The USS Gem of the Sea destroys the British blockade runner Prince of Wales off the coast at Georgetown, S.C.
1862 A Christmas present arrives a day early for the Federal troops at Columbus, Kentucky, in the way of artillery on board the USS New Era.
1914 Over 577,000 Allied soldiers are to spend Christmas as prisoners in Germany.
1917 The Kaiser warns Russia that he will use "iron fist" and "shining sword" if peace is spurned.
1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower is appointed the Allied Supreme Commander, even though almost everyone believed the position would go to American Chief of Staff George C. Marshall.
1947 An estimated 20,000 communists, led by guerrilla General Markos Vafthiades proclaim the Free Greek Government in northern Greece. They issue a call to arms to establish the regime throughout the nation.
1956 African Americans defy a city law in Tallahassee, Florida, and occupy front bus seats.
1963 New York's Idlewild Airport is renamed JFK Airport in honor of the murdered President Kennedy.
1964 The U.S. headquarters in Saigon is hit by a bomb killing two officers.
1966 A Soviet research vehicle soft-lands on the moon.
1967 The Greek Junta frees ex-Premier Papandreou.
1968 The first pictures of an Earth-rise over the moon are seen as the crew of Apollo 8 orbits the moon.
1970 Nine GIs are killed and nine are wounded by friendly fire in Vietnam.
1972 Hanoi bars all peace talks with the United States until U.S. air raids over North Vietnam stop.
1974 An oil tanker's spill pollutes 1,600 square miles of Japan's Inland Sea.
1974 Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, destroying more than 70 percent of the city's buildings, including 80 percent of its houses.
2005 Chad declares a state of war against Sudan in the wake of the Dec. 18 attack on the town of Adre, in which approximately 100 people were killed.

Non Sequitur


Xmas Countdown Xmas Stories

How do I say Merry Xmas in another language?

Afrikaner [Afrikaans] "Geseënde Kersfees"
Albanian "Urime Krishtlindjet"
Amharic "Enkwan laberhana ledat abaqqawot"
OR "Melkam amat ba`al yehunellachihu"
Arabic "Milad Majid" OR "Milad Saeed"
Argentine "Feliz Navidad"
Armenian "Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand"
Bohemian "Vesele Vanoce"
Brazilian Portuguese "Feliz Natal"
Briton "Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat"
Bulgarian "Tchestita Koleda" OR "Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo"
Cambodian "Soursdey Noel"
Chinese [Mandarin] "Sheng Dankuai Le"
Chinese [Cantonese] "Sing Daan Faai Lok"
Cornish "Nadelik Lowen"
Croatian "Sretan Bozic"
Czech "Velike Vanoce"
Danish "Glædelig Jul"
Dutch "Vrolijk Kerstfeest"
English [American] "Merry Xmas"
English [Australian] "'Ave a bonza Chrissy, Mate"
English [UK] "Happy Xmas"
Esperanto "Gojan Kristnaskon"
Estonian "Roomsaid Joulu Puhi"
Farsi "Xmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad"
Faroese "Gleðilig Jól"
Filipino "Maligayang Pasko"
Finnish "Hauskaa Joulua"
French "Joyeux Noël"
Frisian "Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier"
Gaelic "Nollaig Shona Dhuit"
German "Froehliche Weihnachten"
Greek "Kala Christouyenna"
Hawaiian "Mele Kalikimaka"
Hebrew "Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova"
Hindi "Shub Badadin"
Hungarian "Boldog Karácsonyt"
Icelandic "Gledileg Jol"
India "Tamil Nadu - Xmas Vaazthukkal "
Indonesian "Selamat Hari Natal"
Iraqi "Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah"
Irish "Nollaig Shona Duit"
Italian "Buon Natale"
Japanese "Meri Kurisumasu"
Klingon "QISmaS Quch Daghajjaj"
Korean "Sung Tan Jul Chuk Ha"
Latvian "Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu"
Lithuanian "Linksmu Kaledu"
Malay "Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru"
Maltese "Il-Milied it-tajjeb"
Maori "Meri Kirihimete"
Navajo "Ya'at'eeh Keshmish"
New Guinea Pidgin "Meri Xmas"
New Zealand "Happy Xmas"
Norwegian "Gledelig Jul"
Pennsylvania German "En frehlicher Grischtdaag"
Peru "Felices Fiestas" OR "Feliz Navidad"
Polish "Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia"
Portuguese "Feliz Natal"
Punjabi "Hacahi Ke Eide"
Rumanian "Sarbatori Fericite"
Russian "S Rozhdestvom Kristovym"
Serbian "Hristos se rodi"
Slovakian "Sretan Bozic" OR "Vesele vianoce"
Samoan "Manuea le Karisimasi"
Scots Gaelic "Nollaig chridheil huibh"
Slovak "Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok"
Slovene "Srecen Bozic"
Spanish "Feliz Navidad"
Swahili "Heri ya Krismasi"
Swedish "God Jul"
Tagalog [Philippines] "Maligayang Pasko"
Tahitian "Ia ora'na no te noere"
Telugu "Santhasa Krismas"
Thai "Suksan Xmas"
Turkish "Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun"
Ukrainian "Z Rizdvom Krystovym" OR "Veselogo Rizdva""
Urdu [Pakistan] "Shadae Xmas"
Uzbek "Yangi Yiligiz Mubarak Bolsun"
Vietnamese "Chuc Mung Giang Sinh"
Welsh "Nadolig Llawen"

Swedish yule goat burns ... Again

http://uploads.neatorama.com/images/posts/983/67/67983/1387671194-0.jpgDespite the best efforts of the authorities, vandals have managed yet again to burn down the Yule Goat in the city of Gavle. This is at least the 24th burning since Gavle started putting up a giant version of the traditional Yule Goat in 1966. While illegal, it's become something of a cat and mouse game between the erectors and the destroyers.

The Biggest Science Discoveries Of 2013

Since you read Carolina Naturally, you are probably more familiar with the items in this article than the average person, but seeing the biggest discoveries of 2013 all in one place will make you feel better about the current state of scientific inquiry. From the exploration of distant space to the manipulation of DNA, we know more now than we've ever known before. And "we" have traveled farther than we ever thought possible.
One of the year's biggest announcements came from news that actually happened in 2012. The aftershocks of a pair of solar storms in September confirmed that NASA's venerable Voyager 1 spacecraft had actually entered interstellar space. (See "Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System, NASA Confirms.")

"It is an incredible event, to send the first human object into interstellar space," study lead author Donald Gurnett, of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, told National Geographic.
The rest of the stories also have links to further reading, at National Geographic News.

Unexplained Mysteries of 2013

Scientific investigations are all about the search for answers, but their conclusions can create more questions.

Deft Diplomacy

How a Little-Known Document May Have Just Prevented an African Genocide
As multiple media outlets this week have bashed President Barack Obama for having a difficult year, he very well may have just had one of the greatest triumphs of his presidency.
And, not surprisingly, nobody in the media is talking about it.
The background on this story involves the escalating conflict in the Central African Republic between secretariat christian and muslim groups for the preceding eight months.  In early December, nearly 400 people were killed in clashes in the capital city of Bangui.  Thousands of refugees fled the city and it appeared that there was nothing that could be done to prevent the additional violence and murders.  The world appeared to be watching the events of a modern-day Rwanda unfold in front of its eyes and seemed perfectly content to let it happen.
Enter Barack Obama and a little-known 2011 document called Presidential Directive Study 10, or PSD-10.
PSD-10 stated that ”preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.”  This is the first official document in our nation’s history in which genocide prevention is specifically designated as an area of American security.  PSD-10 allowed for the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board, a panel which drew upon eleven agencies such as the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the CIA.  It addition to long-term planning, it also established an emergency response to emerging crises and it outlined specific steps that should be followed should potential genocide situations arise.  With the situation in the Central African Republic precariously close to all-out war, the board went swiftly into action.
On December 9th, President Barack Obama met with with security advisers on the board.  A plan was implemented in which he would give a nationally broadcasted speech to the people of the Central African Republic, urging peace and tranquility.  The speech was actually recorded in Senegal while Obama was on a layover on his way to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.  Obama’s speech, available on whitehouse.gov, reads as follows:

Mbi bala ala kouè.  This is President Barack Obama, and today I want to speak directly to you—the people of the Central African Republic.
I know that in your lives you have faced great hardship.  But I also know that you’ve lived together in peace—as diverse and vibrant communities, christian and muslim.  Together, you celebrate a proud history and a land of extraordinary beauty.  Together, you emerged from colonialism and achieved independence.  Together, you realize that we are all children of god and that—whatever our faith—we all deserve to live in peace and dignity.
But the awful violence of recent days threatens the country you love.  Innocent men, women and children have been killed.  Families have fled their homes.  And we know from the bitter experience of other countries what happens when societies descend into violence and retribution.  Today, my message to you is simple: it doesn’t have to be this way.  You—the proud citizens of the Central African Republic—have the power to choose a different path.
Respected leaders in your communities—muslim and christian—are calling for calm and peace.  I call on the transitional government to join these voices and to arrest those who are committing crimes.   Individuals who are engaging in violence must be held accountable—in accordance with the law.  Meanwhile, as forces from other African countries and France work to restore security, the United States will support their efforts to protect civilians.
Most of all, every citizen of the Central African Republic can show the courage that’s needed right now.  You can show your love for your country by rejecting the violence that would tear it apart.  You can choose peace.  You can choose to live up to the rule that is at the heart of all great faiths— that we treat other people the way we want to be treated ourselves.
That is how we honor our faiths.  That is how reconciliation occurs.  That’s how the Central African Republic can move forward—and return to a better path, toward a future where you and your fellow citizens can seek the security and dignity and peace you deserve.
In addition to the speech, on December 11th the United States donated $60 million worth of aid to the Central African Republic in an effort to re-establish peace in the region.  They then donated an additional $15 million on December 19th for further relief efforts, including the airlifting in of supplies.  According to an in-depth piece by ThinkProgress, it was almost like a “switch had been thrown” in the region due to both President Obama’s call for unity as well as the aid and supplies provided by the United States.  The violence had temporarily subsided and refugees were being given the essential supplies they needed in order to survive.
What’s remarkable about this story is the fact that it was done entirely without the gridlock of a partisan Washington, D.C.  PSD-10 is brilliant in that it gives its advisory board complete authority to act in the best interest of the United States in preventing genocide.  It takes the lessons learned from Rwanda in 1994 and replaces them with a quick and efficient way to act at once to avert a crisis.  Whereas the United States had a politically volatile debate regarding whether or not to act in Syria last year, PSD-10 clearly outlines the need to immediately act on behalf of our country’s national security.
It also helps establish the United States as a force for good in the world.  Whereas the previous administration had arbitrary reasons for intervening in foreign lands, PSD-10 specifically states that the United States’ ”security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods. America’s reputation suffers, and our ability to bring about change is constrained, when we are perceived as idle in the face of mass atrocities and genocide.”  Those lines right are a loud and clear message that the United States will not stand down and allow a repeat of Rwanda to happen on its watch.
While the American media last week chose to ridicule our President for taking a picture with other world leaders, he very well may have helped to prevent an African genocide a mere hours beforehand.  All this was accomplished with no political gamesmanship, no flashy press releases or conferences, and no public acknowledgement of what he and his administration had just done.  He just did it, simply because it was the right thing to do to ensure peace among the Central African people.
Somewhere up there, Nelson Mandela is smiling on a job well done.

Did you know ...

That progressives must stand up to the wingnut war on public employees

That study shows low IQ and wingnut ideology go hand in hand

A Nobel winner declares boycott on science journals

That Uruguay becomes first county to legalize marijuana

Ten Preposterous Wingnut Myths

by Wes Williams 
Political cartoon about conservative myths: Structure that spells out LIES with Republicans waving sign, "We built this."
We keep debunking them, but most Americans still believe these 10 preposterous wingnut myths.
A lot of people will occasionally believe something that “just ain’t so.” Fortunately most will let go of an erroneous belief when presented with proof that their belief is incorrect, but that is often not the case if the person is a wingnut. Wingnuts are notorious for clinging to, and repeating, myths and falsehoods long after they have been debunked. Although an exhaustive list of myths that conservatives cling to would be longer than space permits here, below are ten things that many wingnuts believe that “just ain’t so.”

1. President Obama is spending the United States into the poor house.

On June 12, 2012, Godfather of “supply side” economics Arthur Laffer and libertarian flunky Stephen Moore wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal that disingenuously claimed that President Obama continued the shrub’s junta record of spending when he took office. Laffer and Moore blamed the Democratic congress that took office in January 2007 for spending levels during the last two years of the Bush administration, and made the following claim:
After taking office in 2009, with spending and debt already at record high levels and the deficit headed to $1 trillion, President Obama proceeded to pass his own $830 billion stimulus, auto bailouts, mortgage relief plans, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and the $1.7 trillion ObamaCare entitlement.
CNNMoney.com explains how the auto bailout helped the economy and prevented an even bigger cost to the treasury: the loss of tax revenue from General Motors and Chrysler if those companies had failed, as well as the loss of thousands of jobs, which would have added to costs for unemployment insurance and would have deprived the government of the taxes paid by the laid off workers.
Laffer’s and Moore’s article appeared to be a response to a WSJ Market Watch story from May of that year by Rex Nutting, where he explained in some detail how spending growth has actually been lower under Obama than under all of his predecessors dating back to ronny raygun. Who was right? Politifact.com rated Nutting’s claim as “mostly true.”
2. Obamacare changed federal policy on abortion and permits federal funding for abortions on demand.
The site LifeNews.com claimed that Obamacare “bypasses the Hyde Amendment,” which forbids federal money being used for most abortion services. Section 1303 (a) of the Affordable Care Act states explicitly that health plans are not required to offer coverage for abortion services. It further states that nothing in the law changes current federal or state laws regarding abortion. The President issued executive order 13535 clarifying that the law did not have any effect on the Hyde Amendment.

3. Social Security is going bankrupt.

Failed Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan features the claim that “Social Security Is Going Broke” on his website. He says
Projected long run program costs are not sustainable under current program parameters. The Social Security Trustees project that the cash flow deficits that began in 2010 will continue permanently.
However, Social Security is not going bankrupt, either fast or slowly. John T. Harvey explained on Forbes.com why Social Security cannot go bankrupt. Since the system is designed to pay benefits to current retirees from payroll taxes contributed by current workers, the system can’t run out of money as long as tax revenues equal benefit outlays. The Social Security Trust Fund, he argues, is unnecessary, and actually reflects payments made by past workers that were in excess of what was needed for benefit payments.

4. Ronald Reagan tried to cut spending and balance the budget, but Democrats in congress wouldn’t let him.

Americans For Tax Reform makes the following claim:
Faced with a Democratic Congress and the challenge of curbing the power of the evil Soviet Union, President Reagan could not adopt his full agenda for cutting both marginal tax rates and spending.
This chart showing administration budget requests vs. appropriated amounts shows that for four of his eight years in office congress approved budgets that were lower than what the Reagan administration had requested. Also worth noting is that during most of raygun’s time in office repugicans controlled the U.S. Senate.

5. We were attacked on September 11, 2001, by people who “hate our freedoms.”

So said the shrub on September 20, 2001. Bush claimed, in a speech to a joint session of congress, that
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
But the mastermind of the attack, Osama bin Laden, gave a different explanation. In a detailed letter, bin Laden claimed the attacks were because of American military involvement in the muslim world.   In a letter addressing the attacks bin Laden said
(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?
(Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:
Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.
The letter goes on to list the grievances that bin Laden had against the U.S., from American and Israeli involvement in Palestine and Lebanon, to support for Indian and Russian actions against muslims in Kashmir and Chechnya.

6. The shrub did a better job of protecting our embassies than Obama is doing.

In September 2012, wingnut columnist Charles Krauthammer implied that events such as that year’s storming of the U.S. embassy in Cairo never happened under the shrub. Krauthammer said on Faux News Special Report:
So to imply that we somehow had mistreated muslims, which was the premise of his speech, and how the Iraq war had inflamed the Arab world against us — well, there was no storming of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in those days.
Actually, U.S. embassies and consulates were attacked thirteen times during the shrub junta. Policymic.com provides the following list:
  • January 22, 2002-U.S. consulate in Calcutta, India attacked
  • June 14, 2002-Suicide car bomb detonated outside U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
  • October 12, 2002-U.S. consulate in Indonesia attacked during the string of attacks known as the “Bali Bombings”
  • February 28, 20030 U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan attacked again
  • May 12, 2003-Terrorists storm U.S. compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Nine Americans die
  • July 30, 2004-U.S. embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan attacked by Islamists
  • December 6, 2004-U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia attacked
  • March 2, 2006-U.S. consulate in Karachi attacked for a third time. Diplomat David Foy is killed
  • Septempber 12, 2006-U.S. compound in Damascus, Syria attacked
  • January 12, 2007-Greek terrorists fired a rocket propelled grenade at a U.S. consulate building
  • March 18, 2008-A mortar was fired at the U.S.embassy in Sana’a, Yemen
  • July 9, 2008-Four attackers fired on the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
  • September 17, 2008-Two Americans and 16 people overall died in a second attack on the U.S. embassy in Sana’a

7. Scientists still disagree on whether climate change is taking place and if human activities are responsible.

A 2010 report on the site ClimateDepot.com trumpets the claim that “more than 1000 international scientists dissent” in regard to global warming. A close inspection reveals that many of the scientists who are among the skeptics are not meteorologists or climatologists, but rather are chemists, theoretical physicists, and others whose fields have little or nothing to do with climate and weather. A survey of peer reviewed literature conducted by SkepticalScience.com found that out of over 12,000 papers that took a position on climate change, 97 percent agreed that global warming is occurring and that humans are responsible. So technically there is disagreement on the subject, but not much.

8. The U.S. government gives away free ‘Obamaphones’ to undeserving welfare recipients

According to the website Freegovernmentcellphones.net, the “Obamaphone” myth started with an email that was circulated in 2009. The email made the following claim:
…welfare recipients are now eligible to receive (1) a FREE new phone and (2) approx 70 minutes of FREE minutes every month. I was a little skeptical so I Googled it and low and behold he was telling the truth. TAX PAYER MONEY IS BEING REDISTRIBUTED TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS FOR FREE CELL PHONES.
FauxNewsInsider is one of many wingnut sites to perpetuate the “Obamaphone” myth. The site offered an “expose” of Obamaphone abuse filmed by none other than James O’Keefe, whose heavily doctored video was at least partly responsible for the demise of ACORN.  What conservatives like to call the Obamaphone refers to the federal Lifeline program, which has been around since the 1980′s and was started by none other than ronny raygun. Reganphone anyone?
Orignally the Lifeline program applied to landline phones. But as the cost of cell phones came down over the years it made sense to include those in the program. Freegovernmentcellphones.net sums up the issue:
…in 2008 the first application of this program for mobile phones began when a company called Tracfone started their Safelink Wireless service in Tennessee. Aha, some say, that’s the same year Obama was elected! Well, that’s true. But the service in Tennessee was launched three months prior to Obama being elected. And that means the discussion and approval of the extension of the program occurred under the shrub’s watch.

9. Non-union power crews were turned away from New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

The claim, spread far and wide in wingnut media, is that power crews from non-union southern utility companies were not permitted to work in New Jersey when cleanup from the storm started. TheBlaze.com picked up the story from the Alabama television station that originally ran it:
With millions still struggling to get power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, non-union work crews from Alabama have been turned away by New Jersey. The reason? Their non-union status. WAFF in Alabama reports that the crews rushed to help after receiving calls from Seaside Heights, NJ. However, when they arrived, they were told that their services would not be needed.
The story was completely false, and was debunked by the power companies that were involved within hours of being first reported . CBSNews.com reported on November 2 that spokespersons from Decatur Utilities, Joe Wheeler EMC, and Hunstville Utilities all denied that any of their workers were “turned away” due to non-union status. The Alabama station later issued a clarification, but the damage was done, and the incident became part of the right wing vocabulary.

10. America is a wingnut country, and most Americans consider themselves to be wingnuts.

So proclaimed a Faux Nation story from 2011. As usual, a Faux site has a problem with math. They accurately quote the numbers from a Gallup survey, but they missed one little detail. In addition to the 40 percent surveyed who identified themselves as wingnut, 35 percent called themselves “moderate,” and 21 percent identified themselves as “liberal.” So the total of the “non-wingnuts,” 56 percent, is substantially greater than the percentage of wingnuts. A more recent survey shows that fewer Americans consider themselves to be “economic wingnuts,” and the number who call themselves “socially liberal” is at an all time high.
Now you have some more information for the next time you argue with your crazy uncle after Sunday dinner.

New Study Shows Money Behind Climate Change Denial Effort

NSA had secret deal on back-doored crypto with security firm RSA, Snowden documents reveal

"As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry," reports Joseph Menn at Reuters in an exclusive today:
Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

US Department of Defense's public domain archive to be privatized, locked up for ten years

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "The U.S. Department of Defense has entered into a contract with T3 Media to get its gigantic still and moving image collection digitized at no cost to the government. In exchange, T3 Media will become the exclusive public outlet for millions of images and videos for ten years. Unlike most other developed nations, the U.S. Government does not claim copyright on video, film, photographs and other media produced by its workers. The immense number of works in the U.S. public domain have enabled countless researchers, makers and citizens to read, view and make many new works. True, those wishing to use modern military materials (1940s-present) in DoD's archives often need to negotiate their release with military public affairs, but these materials have traditionally been available for just the cost of duplication. This is soon to change."
In exchange for covering a share of digitizing and hosting costs (the government will pick up an unspecified share of costs as well), T3 Media will provide access to the government and receive a 10-year exclusive license to charge for public access to these public domain materials.
I contacted T3Media's communications manager who could only tell me that "the material will be available for licensing." Costs, procedures and restrictions are still undecided or undisclosed. T3 will possess the highest-quality digital copies of these materials and there is no guarantee that DoD will offer them to the public online when the 10-year window expires. It's therefore hard to know whether this contract will serve the public interest.
While I have not yet seen the contract, the project Statement of Objectives offers additional information and here's T3Media's release.

Heroin stamped 'Obamacare' and 'Kurt Cobain' nabbed by Massachussetts police, with K9 assist

Massachusetts state police announced  on an official Facebook page that a trooper stopped a vehicle in which 1,250 packets of heroin stamped "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain" were found. The four people inside the car were arrested. A state police dog ("K9 Frankie") found the bags of heroin after a routine traffic stop. 
State police Lt. Daniel Richard says it's not unusual for heroin to be stamped with numbers, words or symbols to identify who's selling it. But he says the "Obamacare" stamp is one he hadn't heard of.
NBC Connecticut:
Police arrested Tyler Robenstein, 23, of Colchester, Vt., and charged him with trafficking in heroin, conspiracy to violate the drugs laws, possession to distribute a Class A substance, speeding, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and failure to change lanes for an emergency vehicle. The three passengers -- Marquese Jones, 22, and Sherod Green, 24, both of Newark, N.J., and Ashley Beaulieu, 21, of Colchester, Vt. -- were charged with trafficking in heroin, conspiracy to violate the drugs laws and possession to distribute a Class A substance.

Two men suspected of installing card skimmers at LA area banks

Two men were arrested in the greater Los Angeles area Sunday on charges they installed ATM card-skimmers at banks in Sherman Oaks and Encino. The operation was managed by the Southern California High-Tech Task Force (SCHTTF), a law enforcement team that includes LA Sheriff's Department personnel and agents from Secret Service and FBI.
An LA Sheriff's rep says North Hollywood resident Geori Nikolov, 32, and Santa Monica resident Dimitar Dimitrov, 36, installed the devices at Chase and Bank of the West locations in order to steal credit and debit card information and PIN numbers.
“They would attach the skimmers for a few hours and then go and retrieve them and the banking information they stole,” said the spokesman.
More: CBS Los Angeles, Patch, and a press release.  



America: The No-Vacation Nation

This likely won't be news to Americans, but citizens of the United States get the least amount of vacation time of any developed country. Laci Green tells us the unexpected impact of all this work.

Chronic Sinus Problems?

Chronic sinus problems may be caused by your immune system, acting too aggressively against harmless microorganisms in the body.

How about a joke?

A blonde is watching a ventriloquist perform at a bar and the ventriloquist, with his dummy, is telling blonde joke after blonde joke, filling the bar with laughter. After several of these jokes, the blonde stands up, infuriated, and yells, “Listen here, jackass. Not all blondes are stupid and the jokes need to stop, it is a very cheap way to get laughs.”

Stunned, the ventriloquist timidly begins to apologize, “Ma’am, I am so sorry. I had no idea I was offending anyone.”

The blonde replies, “Stay out of this, sir. I’m talking to that little shit on your knee!”

In Celtic Tradition

In Celtic Tradition: ANGUS MAC ÓG was the golden-haired ‘young son’ of the Irish gods. He is widely accepted the Irish counterpart to Continental Celtic divinity Apollo Maponos. Apollonian gods had to do with clear vision and Apollo Maponus, as a divine youth and hunter, may have embodied a notion of the untainted, pristine vision of youngsters and keen-eyed huntsmen. Because Angus Óg displaced his father, some commentators have suggested that he might be the counterpart of Zeus in displacing Cronus but the analogy is probably closer to the relationship between Zeus and Apollo, who interpreted the will of his father to the oracles. Other forms of his name are Angus mac Óc, Angus mac Ócc, Angus mac-ind-Óg, Angus Óengus Óc, Angus of the Brug. See Françoise Le Roux, ‘Le Rêve d'Oengus’, Ogam, 18 (1966), 132–50. Christian -J. Guyonvarc'h, ‘Le Rêve d'Oengus’, ibid. 117–31. Angus Óg has been a popular figure with Anglo-Irish writers. See W. B. Yeats, ‘The Song of the Wandering Aengus’ (1897) and ‘The Harp of Aengus’ (1900); Liam O'Flaherty, The Ecstasy of Angus (1931). In James Stephens's The Crock of Gold (1912), Angus Óg, calling himself ‘Love’ and ‘Infinite Joy’, contends with the Greek Pan for the favour of the young heroine; see also Stephens's In the Land of Youth (1924).

100 year old submarine exposed by extreme low tide

100 year old submarine exposed by extreme low tide
The wreckage of a German U-boat, marooned for almost a century on the Kent coast, is again causing a stir with locals and tourists.
The World War One relic now lies completely exposed at low tide on the mudflats of the River Medway in Hoo, and comes as a reminder of the war ahead of next year’s centenary.
Experts have known of the vessel for almost 100 years but say there is still an air of mystery to it.

Random Photos

Can u luv me again? by KrizZa

Rare Tlingit war helmet discovered at museum

The mystery began to unfold when Museum staffers began to select objects from the over 200,000 items in the Museum’s collections for a new display titled “People of the Northwest Coast.” Dr. Ellen Savulis, the Science Museum’s Curator of Anthropology, was intrigued by one of the items described in collections records as simply an “Aleutian hat.”
Rare Tlingit war helmet discovered at museum
Stored on a shelf for over 100 hundred years, a rare anthropological treasure was recently discovered in the Springfield Science Museum’s permanent collections. Museum Director David Stier, who has worked in museums collections for almost 30 years, describes the discovery as nothing less than “the find of a lifetime” [Credit: Springfield Museum]
The object was relatively large, ornately carved, and made from a single piece of dense wood. Although Dr. Savulis’ main area of expertise is Northeastern United States archaeology, she had the foresight to question whether hats made by the Unangax, the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands, were typically made from such dense wood. Upon further investigation, Dr. Savulis found that the only type of wooden hat made in the treeless Aleutians is the hunting hat or visor, made from a thin plank of driftwood bent into a lopsided cone. None of this information matched the object she had in front of her.

Dr. Savulis suspected that she had a helmet of some kind, and enlisted the help of Steve Henrikson, Curator of Collections at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.  After hearing the description and an extensive viewing of artifact images, Mr. Henrikson responded enthusiastically, “This is a Tlingit war helmet, absolutely, no question!”  He went on to say that “it’s very rare - there are less than 100 Tlingit war helmets in existence that we know of. I’ve been studying them for over 20 years and I’m sure I’ve seen most of them.”

Museum records show that the artifact was accepted into collections sometime after 1899, the year that the Springfield Science Museum (formerly the Museum of Natural History) moved into its own building at the Quadrangle.  The source of the artifact was not known, and it carried the simple label “Aleutian hat.” Having limited experience with cultural materials, museum specialist Albertus Lovejoy Dakin accepted the accuracy of the object’s label and entered it as such in the collection records. Some 40 years later the artifact received a permanent museum collection number from museum director Leo D. Otis, who still had no reason to dispute the “Aleutian hat” claim. There the artifact remained in its spot in the permanent collections, carefully preserved and unheralded, waiting to be found.

According to Mr. Henrikson, we now know that the object is indeed a war helmet from the Tlingit people of southeast Alaska.  The style of the carving and decoration on the helmet (probably the emblem of a clan) dates it to the mid-19th century or earlier. With the mass importation of firearms to the region in the mid-1800’s, this sort of body armor became relegated to ceremonial uses. Today, a few helmets are still brought out at ceremonial gatherings, such as potlatches, to commemorate prominent events and honor past clan elders.  Because they are associated with combat, the helmets are not actually worn on the head during such peaceful gatherings, but are instead held in hand or perhaps held over the head of someone needing spiritual support.

Henrikson estimates that there are approximately 95 war helmets in existence today, mostly in large museum collections. Many of these were collected by Russian explorers on the battlefield following clashes with the Tlingit. The largest collection of Tlingit armor is at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology in St. Petersburg.

Beginning as protection for Tlingit warriors in battle, war helmets today serve the Tlingit as healing reminders of their rich and ancient history.  A glimpse of this rich history can be seen starting Thursday, December 26, when the helmet will be placed on display for the first time since arriving in Springfield over a century ago.

Ancient cranial surgery in Peru investigated

Cranial surgery is tricky business, even under 21st-century conditions (think aseptic environment, specialized surgical instruments and copious amounts of pain medication both during and afterward).

Ancient cranial surgery in Peru investigated
Some 900 years ago, a Peruvian healer used a hand drill to make dozens
of small holes in a patient's skull [Credit: Danielle Kurin]
However, evidence shows that healers in Peru practiced trepanation -- a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool -- more than 1,000 years ago to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness. And they did so without the benefit of the aforementioned medical advances.

Excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru, UC Santa Barbara bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin and her research team unearthed the remains of 32 individuals that date back to the Late Intermediate Period (ca. AD 1000-1250). Among them, 45 separate trepanation procedures were in evidence. Kurin's findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

"When you get a knock on the head that causes your brain to swell dangerously, or you have some kind of neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illness, drilling a hole in the head becomes a reasonable thing to do," said Kurin, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at UCSB and a specialist in forensic anthropology.
Ancient cranial surgery in Peru investigated
New bone growth at the trepanation site on the side of the head indicates a successful procedure.
However, the holes drilled at the top of the skull were as the individual was
dying or shortly after he died [Credit: Danielle Kurin]
According to Kurin, trepanations first appeared in the south-central Andean highlands during the Early Intermediate Period (ca. AD 200-600), although the technique was not universally practiced. Still, it was considered a viable medical procedure until the Spanish put the kibosh on the practice in the early 16th century.

But Kurin wanted to know how trepanation came to exist in the first place. And she looked to a failed empire to find some answers.

"For about 400 years, from 600 to 1000 AD, the area where I work -- the Andahuaylas -- was living as a prosperous province within an enigmatic empire known as the Wari," she said. "For reasons still unknown, the empire suddenly collapsed." And the collapse of civilization, she noted, brings a lot of problems.
Ancient cranial surgery in Peru investigated
A cutting method was employed for this incomplete trepanation. The patient died
before the bone plug could be removed successfully [Credit: Danielle Kurin]
"But it is precisely during times of collapse that we see people's resilience and moxie coming to the fore," Kurin continued. "In the same way that new types of bullet wounds from the Civil War resulted in the development of better glass eyes, the same way IED's are propelling research in prosthetics in the military today, so, too, did these people in Peru employ trepanation to cope with new challenges like violence, disease and deprivation 1,000 years ago."

Kurin's research shows various cutting practices and techniques being employed by practitioners around the same time. Some used scraping, others used cutting and still others made use of a hand drill. "It looks like they were trying different techniques, the same way we might try new medical procedures today," she said. "They're experimenting with different ways of cutting into the skull."

Sometimes they were successful and the patient recovered, and sometimes things didn't go so well. "We can tell a trepanation is healed because we see these finger-like projections of bone that are growing," Kurin explained. "We have several cases where someone suffered a head fracture and were treated with the surgery; in many cases, both the original wound and the trepanation healed." It could take several years for the bone to regrow, and in a subset of those, a trepanation hole in the patient's head might remain for the rest of his life, thereby conferring upon him a new "survivor" identity.
Ancient cranial surgery in Peru investigated
Several trepanation holes were drilled over an area of mottled, inflamed bone.
The surgery may have been done to alleviate the pain caused
by serious infection [Credit: Danielle Kurin]
When a patient didn't survive, his skull (almost never hers, as the practice of trepanation on women and children was forbidden in this region) might have been donated to science, so to speak, and used for education purposes. "The idea with this surgery is to go all the way through the bone, but not touch the brain," said Kurin. "That takes incredible skill and practice.

"As bioarchaeologists, we can tell that they're experimenting on recently dead bodies because we can measure the location and depths of the holes they're drilling," she continued. "In one example, each hole is drilled a little deeper than the last. So you can imagine a guy in his prehistoric Peruvian medical school practicing with his hand drill to know how many times he needs to turn it to nimbly and accurately penetrate the thickness of a skull."

Some might consider drilling a hole in someone's head a form of torture, but Kurin doesn't perceive it as such. "We can see where the trepanations are. We can see that they're shaving the hair. We see the black smudge of an herbal remedy they put over the wound," she noted. "To me, those are signs that the intention was to save the life of the sick or injured individual."
Ancient cranial surgery in Peru investigated
Ancient practitioners used various tools to create trepanations of
distinct sizes and shapes [Credit: Danielle Kurin]
The remains Kurin excavated from the caves in Andahuaylas comprise perhaps the largest well-contextualized collection in the world. Most of the trepanned crania already studied reside in museums such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Natural History or the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. "Most were collected by archaeologists a century ago and so we don't have good contextual information," she said.

But thanks to Kurin's careful archaeological excavation of intact tombs and methodical analysis of the human skeletons and mummies buried therein, she knows exactly where, when and how the remains she found were buried, as well as who and what was buried with them. She used radiocarbon dating and insect casings to determine how long the bodies were left out before they skeletonized or were mummified, and multi-isotopic testing to reconstruct what they ate and where they were born. "That gives us a lot more information," she said.

"These ancient people can't speak to us directly, but they do give us information that allows us to reconstruct some aspect of their lives and their deaths and even what happened after they died," she continued. "Importantly, we shouldn't look at a state of collapse as the beginning of a 'dark age,' but rather view it as an era that breeds resilience and foments stunning innovation within the population."