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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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Daily Drift

Word ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

Chili Cheese Dog  ... !
Today is  - National Chili Dog Day
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Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
United States -Brazil - Canada - Dominican Republic - Colombia - Mexico - Nicaragua
Bosnia-Herzegovina - England - Italy - Denmark - Spain - France - Finland - Belgium - Romania - Sweden
Germany - Ireland - Russia - Cyprus - Croatia - Slovenia - Ukraine
Thailand - Jordan - Kuwait -Mauritius - Indonesia - India - Iran - Saudi Arabia - Taiwan - Iraq - Malaysia  Cambodia - Sri Lanka - Lebanon - Israel - Singapore - Azerbaijan
Kenya -Togo
The Pacific
Philippines -Australia

Non Sequitur


Today in History

904 Arabs capture Thessalonica.
1703 English novelist Daniel Defoe is made to stand in the pillory as punishment for offending the government and church with his satire The Shortest Way With Dissenters.
1760 Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, drives the French army back to the Rhine River.
1790 The U.S. Patent Office opens.
1882 Belle and Sam Starr are charged with horse stealing in the Indian territory.
1875 Former president Andrew Johnson dies at the age of 66.
1891 Great Britain declares territories in Southern Africa up to the Congo to be within their sphere of influence.
1904 The Trans-Siberian railroad connecting the Ural mountains with Russia's Pacific coast, is completed.
1917 The third Battle of Ypres commences as the British attack the German lines.
1932 Adolf Hitler's Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) doubles its strength in legislative elections.
1944 The Soviet army takes Kovno, the capital of Lithuania.
1962 Federation of Malaysia formally proposed.
1971 Apollo 15 astronauts take a drive on the moon in their land rover.
1987 An F4 tornado in Edmonton, Alberta kills 27 and causes $330 million in damages; the day is remembered as "Black Friday."
1988 Bridge collapse at Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth, Malaysia, kills 32 and injures more than 1,600.
1990 Bosnia-Hercegovina declares independence from Yugoslavia.
1991 US and USSR sign a long-range nuclear weapons reduction pact.
1999 NASA purposely crashes its Discovery Program's Lunar Prospector into the moon, ending the agency's mission to detect frozen water on Earth's moon.
2006 Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to his brother Raul Castro.
2007 The British Army's longest continual operation, Operation Banner (1969-2007), ends as British troops withdraw from Northern Ireland.

USA Today Publishes John Boehner Editorial Then Trashes His Lawsuit Against Obama

John Boehner cryingUSA Today published an editorial by House Speaker John Boehner defending his lawsuit against President Obama, while at the same time their own editorial board published an editorial blasting the lawsuit.
Boehner wrote, “Congress makes the laws; the president executes them. That is the system the Founders gave us. This is not about executive orders. Every president issues executive orders. Most of them, though, do so within the law. This is also not about me vs. President Obama. This is about future Congresses and future presidents. There is a conflict between the executive branch and the legislative branch of our government. It is the judiciary branch’s role to help resolve it. I believe this path is the right one to defend our institution and preserve the Constitution, while continuing to focus on the American people’s top priority — helping our private sector create more American jobs.”
The editorial board at USA Today put out a nearly simultaneous editorial that took Boehner to task for the lawsuit.
The editorial board wrote:
It’s possible to view this as a high-minded dispute over where the Constitution draws the lines of authority between Congress and the president. Republicans cite scores of examples of what they say is executive overreach, such as Obama’s decision not to deport children brought here illegally by their parents.
But the lawsuit focuses solely on a small part of Obamacare, one that repugicans themselves would love to see delayed forever. A fair-minded look at the suit’s merits suggests it’s really more of a political grudge match, one in which the repugican cabal is seeking an outcome it hasn’t been able to achieve at the polls or through the legislative process.
For one thing, Obama’s temporary delay to part of the health law doesn’t seem much different from the shrub’s action in 2006 to extend the deadline and waive penalties for certain seniors who hadn’t signed up in time for the new Medicare prescription drug program. Both presidents appeared to be making reasonable, short-term accommodations to reality, and courts have traditionally given the executive branch broad discretion in implementing complex new laws.
It’s not good when the editorial board of the newspaper that published Boehner’s defense of his lawsuit felt compelled to write their own editorial condemning his tactics. Outside of wingnut circles, Boehner is not finding a warm reception anywhere for his lawsuit. The lawsuit isn’t fooling anybody. It has always been a path towards drumming up support for impeaching the president. Boehner’s frivolous abuse of the court system is also intended to make Obamacare the front and center issue during the midterm elections.
The lawsuit does look like an attempt by a sore loser at petty political retribution. The repugicans lost at the ballot box. They’ve lost in court of public opinion, because people like what the ACA does. All that they have left is a desperate run to the courts in the hopes that partisan agitator judges will bail them out.
As a political strategy, the lawsuit has backfired. Democrats are fired up over Boehner’s clumsy tactics. As a fundraising gambit, the lawsuit has been a disaster. Democrats continue to raise millions of dollars off of a tactic that was supposed to help repugicans gain seats in the fall.
Boehner has shot the repugican cabal in both feet with his lawsuit, and it has gotten to the point where no credible publication wants to be tainted with the embarrassment surrounding his attempt to sue the president.

This repugican Governor Who Won’t Expand Medicaid Blames Obama For High Uninsured Rate In State

A study done by WalletHub finds that Mississippi is the only state that has seen its uninsured population increase since the implementation of Obamacare.because Phil Bryant decided not to expand Medicaid …

phil_bryantDue to the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of uninsured people in this country has decreased dramatically over the past few months. However, there is one state where there has actually been an increase in those who lack health insurance. A study done by WalletHub finds that Mississippi is the only state that has seen its uninsured population increase since the implementation of Obamacare. Prior to the first enrollment period on the health care exchanges, Mississippi’s uninsured rate was 18.11%. It has since climbed to 21.46%, which is the second highest uninsured rate in the nation, trailing only Texas.
When presented with this information by The Daily Journal, repugican Gov. Phil Bryant knew exactly where to point the finger of blame.
“If statistics show that the ill-conceived and so-called Affordable Care Act is resulting in higher rates of uninsured people in Mississippi, I’d say that’s yet another example of a broken promise from Barack Obama.”
Of course, what the Governor failed to point out is that he has refused to expand Medicaid in his state even though his state won’t have to pay for it for the first three years, and the federal government will pay 90% of the expansion in subsequent years. What is even more dumbfounding about Bryant’s decision to not provide expanded Medicaid coverage to the state’s residents is that Mississippi is the nation’s poorest state and has largest percentage of its population living below the poverty line. Mississippi also has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
In an effort to see Obamacare fail, Bryant and other repugicans in Mississippi are going out of their way to deliberately hurt the poorest people in their state. In a state that has proven time and time again that pushing an extreme wingnut ideology only makes things worse, Mississippi repugicans continue to insist that everything is the fault of liberals and Democrats. If they aren’t blaming Obama for their ills, they are claiming that not having insurance isn’t all that bad anyway. That it is really just about having a choice. Mississippi’s Speaker of the House Philip Gunn had the following to say when asked if it was good that more people in Mississippi are now uninsured.
 “I don’t know if it is good or not. That is their call to make.”
The fact is, due to the high number of poor people in Mississippi, if the state agreed to expand Medicaid, over 300,000 residents would become immediately eligible. That would almost certainly bring down the uninsured numbers in the state. While the majority of red Southern states have declined to participate in the expansion, the ones that have seen huge decreases in the uninsured rates in their states. Kentucky, which also create its own state exchange, has seen its rate drop to 8.95%. It was previously at 17.3%. Arkansas has gone from 20.87% to 13.77% while West Virginia has seen a huge difference with the rate down to 6.59% after being at 17.34%
However, in states like Mississippi and Texas, the governors and repugican-dominated legislatures would rather obstruct and prevent their residents from receiving health coverage. Why? Because they hate the man currently occupying the White House. Of course, it plays well to their ‘base,’ who will support the repugican cabal due to their own prejudices, even as they vote and act out against their own self-interests. I guess it is better to be poor, bitter and bigoted than accept anything from a Democratic black man.

Kansas Is Going Bankrupt And repugicans Are Lying About the Tax Cutting Reason Why

Despite repugican warnings the state will be bankrupt in two years, more than 100 Kansas repugicans swearing to help replace Brownback with a Democrat for governor, and a …

imageIn the field of psychiatry, pathological lying, compulsive lying, or pseudologia fantastica is a behavior of habitual lying that is defined as “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime.” In some cases the individual may be be unaware that they are relating fantasies, but when they repeat the same lie as fact for thirty years despite empirical data disproving their assertion, it is safe to say they know they are lying.
The repugicans and wingnut 'economists' continue claiming cutting taxes for the rich is key to full employment, wealth for the masses, government flush with money, and a robust economy. In fact, Kansas repugican Sam Brownback and the repugican legislature were so confident that slashing safety nets, cutting education, and spending a budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich would produce an economic bonanza, they gave the wealthy well over a billion dollars in unfunded tax cuts that has the state’s economy starved of revenue. However, despite repugican warnings the state will be bankrupt in two years, more than 100 Kansas repugicans swearing to help replace Brownback with a Democrat for governor, and a credit agency downgrading Kansas credit, a noted wingnut 'economist' lied to support Brownback’s tax cuts as a job creating bonanza. Kansas is lagging behind the rest of the nation in creating jobs besides facing a revenue shortfall of massive proportions.
The Heritage Foundation’s senior 'economist', Stephen Moore, wrote a pro-Brownback op-ed attacking Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman because like every economist not in the employ of the Heritage Foundation and Faux News, Krugman does not support repugicans’ failed trickle-down scam. Moore was caught red-handed deliberately using incorrect statistics to convince readers that Brownback’s tax cuts create jobs. Moore lied and claimed states that do not give huge tax cuts to the rich are “getting clobbered by tax-cutting states” in the number of jobs created. The editorial board of The Kansas City Star caught Moore’s lies and published annotated corrections to his false assertions specifically stating that “the author misstated job growth rates for four states and the time covered.” In other words; Moore was lying to convince Kansas residents that Brownback’s “ruinous” and “dramatic tax-cutting failure” warrants giving him another four years to completely eviscerate the Kansas economy.
In another instance of wingnuts projecting their malfeasance on Democrats, Moore accused “liberals” like Krugman of “cherry-picking a few events” to argue that major tax cuts like Brownback’s are failing miserably. Not only did Moore deliberately “cherry pick bad data to support his claims,” he cherry-picked a time frame when the entire nation was suffering from the Great Recession due, in part, to shrub-repugicans’ major tax cuts for the rich. One might think Moore is unaware he was lying about the benefits of continuing to give tax cuts to the rich, but after thirty years of trickle-down’s abject failure, he knew he was lying like he has done for years.
For example, Moore has consistently criticized the idea of raising the minimum wage he claims will result in a “big increase in unemployment.” Obviously Moore, a “noted wingnut economist,” saw the recent statistics that the states he claimed lag “major tax-cutting repugican states” that raised their minimum wage, and taxes, are leading the nation in job creation as well a overall economic growth. One of the states Moore specifically cited, California, is experiencing the nation’s best job creation increase according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in spite of increasing the minimum wage and taxes on the rich. Moore also spent years claiming the Affordable Care Act would kill millions of American jobs, and yet the unemployment rate is falling and there has been 52 straight months of private sector job growth while millions of Americans have healthcare for the first time in their lives.
Stephen Moore, like the Heritage Foundation he represents, is not just a pathological liar, he is guilty of pseudologia fantastica. It is unlikely Kansas residents believe such fantastic lies about the raging success of Brownback’s tax cutting-spree because they see the devastation of the trickle down scam first hand. Certainly, a group of one-hundred-and-four current and former Kansas legislators understand that Brownback’s billion-plus dollar tax cuts for the rich are decimating Kansas.
The group, repugicans for Kansas Values, endorsed Brownback’s Democratic challenger and released a statement saying, “All of us standing here today know Kansas can do better. We can have better schools and a stronger economy. The values that unite us as Kansans are much bigger than the partisanship and experiment of Sam Brownback. Through hard work and cooperation, we can restore Kansas together.” The 104 repugicans cited Brownback’s failed trickle down tax plan, severe cuts to schools, and fiscally irresponsible budgeting as reasons for their historic decision and praised Paul Davis (D) for being a moderate with common sense leadership and “focus on proven solutions” such as “reinstating taxes and spending at their previous levels;” precisely what Stephen Moore lied and said is a recipe for disaster.
Obviously, there is no lie too fantastic, including citing false statistics, repugicans and their Heritage Foundation 'economists' are willing to parrot ad nausem to perpetuate their thirty year failed economic theory that giving more tax cuts to the rich is the key to economic wonderland. Moore has always been a condescending liar and for the second time he has been caught lying. In February, CNN’s Carol Costello destroyed Moore’s wingnut economic lies disparaging any consideration of raising the minimum wage, and correctly noted “that raising it would increase incomes and decrease poverty.”
One would think that of all the states Moore would choose to unleash a rash of lies about the benefits of giving major tax cuts to the rich, he would have picked anyplace except Kansas. But repugicans, and so-called “noted” wingnut 'economists', are such pathological liars that they likely actually believe Kansas residents are unaware their state is drowning in debt, suffered a credit downgrade, lags the entire nation in job creation, and cannot afford $100,000 to keep a children’s homeless shelter open; all due to what Stephen Moore says is the reason Kansas is “clobbering states” that are succeeding because they did not give tax cuts to the rich.

Detroit schools emergency manager raises class size to emergency levels

As Detroit struggles with bankruptcy, its public schools are struggling, too. They even have their very own emergency manager, and he has a new plan. Instead of a mere 38 students per class in grades 6 through 12, the new target will be 43 students per class in those grades. I'll repeat that: 43 students per class.Next up, we can expect a wave of publicity about Detroit's failing teachers, to which I again say "43 students per class. YOU teach under those circumstances." If you're saying "well, Detroit is bankrupt, it's to be expected," first off, you are morally bankrupt. Second, this:
    ... the proportion of general fund dollars reaching the classroom has declined under emergency management - and not just by a little bit! Spending on classroom instruction constituted 55 percent and 58 percent, respectively, of all general fund expenditures in 2008 and 2009 - the last two years that the elected board set spending targets. Since then, spending on instruction has trended downward, reaching a historic low with Jack Martin's 2015 budget at a level of just 46.8 percent.

Random Photos

Defeating useless rich people

Taming wealthy, unproductive "moochers" will require a populist campaign to stop them. Here's how we can do it
In two previous columns, I argued that left and right alike are confused by a failure to distinguish productive businesses that sell innovative goods and services from "rentier" interests - landlords, lenders, copyright holders and others - which use their natural or artificial monopoly power to extract excessive tolls, fees and other recurrent payments from the rest of society, including productive businesses. The fees or rents extracted by these interests constitute a kind of "private taxation" which - rather than public taxation - is the greatest threat facing America's productive economy.
Today America's powerful rentier interests, particularly those in the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) sector, are mobilizing campaign contributions and paid propaganda to promote what I called the Rentier Agenda: low taxes on those whose income is derived from capital gains; the privatization of public infrastructure and the deregulation of regulated private utilities, to generate windfall profits for investors in privatized or deregulated agencies; and a macroeconomic policy that serves the interests of creditors, at the expense of slow growth and mass unemployment, rather than productive businesses and workers. Similar observations have been made by many on the left and some mavericks on the right.
To counter the domination of America's rentier oligarchs, we need an Anti-Rentier campaign that would unite unlikely groups: owners of productive businesses as well as workers, populist conservatives and liberal reformers. An Anti-Rentier movement would distinguish businesses that make profits by providing worthwhile goods or services in innovative ways from rentier interests that passively extract exorbitant tolls and fees from the economy without adding any value.

Daily Comic Relief


Border Patrol agents hold Iowa Boy Scouts at gunpoint for taking a picture of them

A Border Patrol agent allegedly held a member of an Iowa Boy Scout troop at gunpoint while another threatened another boy with arrest and a 10-year prison term for taking a picture of him, KCCI-TV reported.
The incident reportedly took place while members of Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 and volunteers traveling with them were attempting to drive through the border between Canada into Alaska. Troop leader Jim Fox told KCCI that the group was detained and searched after the scout took the picture. The agent allegedly told Fox that the scout had committed a federal offense.
"The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison," Fox was quoted as saying.
Fox and his troop complied with the agent's order, but as another scout was unloading luggage from one of the group's vans, "He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here's this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man's head."
The troop was released after being detained for four hours, and made it back to Iowa this past Sunday.



8-year-old Takes Disabled Brother on Triathlon

Noah and Lucas Aldrich are inseparable brothers. Lucas was born with the brain disorder lissencephaly, which affects his growth and development. Lucas does not walk or talk, but thanks to his parents and brother, he gets to do a lot of things able-bodied kids do. Eight-year-old Noah recently entered a youth triathlon, and he took Lucas along. He pulled him on a bicycle, towed him while swimming, and pushed him while running. Sing it with me now: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” See more pictures of Noah and Lucas at Buzzfeed.

Go Out And Play

Play: One of the most important factors in a child’s development

The previous two articles in this series by Michigan State […]

Clootie Wells

There are several places in Scotland, England, and Ireland where the trees are wrapped with rags. These are clootie wells, forests with mineral springs that are believed to have healing powers. A relic of ancient paganism, the idea is that if you have an ailment, you should wash the afflicted area in water from these springs. Then you tie the rag you used around a tree, and as the rag rots, your ailment will disappear. You can see the problem here: Cotton and wool rags may take years to rot, but polyester can take centuries, which means more and more rags survive longer and damage the forest. But it’s terrible luck to remove them. Read more about this ancient practice at Atlas Obscura.

Wari geoglyph found in southern Peru

Archaeologists undertaking investigations in the Peruvian region of Arequipa discovered a large geoglyph last December.
The large geoglyph is being described as similar to the famous Nasca lines
According to Peru21, the geoglyph is approximately 60 meters by 40 meters and is located in the province of Caylloma. Peru21 reports that the initial archaeological investigations were performed at the request of the Consorcio Angostura – Siguas, an agroindustrial company that is executing an irrigation project in the area. Consorcio Angostura – Siguas would have ordered the investigation in order to receive a certificate from the Ministry of Culture stating that there were no archaeological sites in the area, allowing them to continue with their irrigation project.
Experts say that the geoglyph was created by members of the Wari culture in 1200 or 1300 AD. The geoglyph has been dubbed “Gross Munsa,” and is the only known geoglyph in Arequipa.
Peru21 reports that excavators also found other objects that they hope will help to shed some light on Wari culture and practices

Food Supplies Threatened ...

Food supplies threatened by climate change, air pollution combo

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change […]

Dinosaurs and the Perfect Storm

Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows

Dinosaurs might have survived the asteroid strike that wiped them […]

Why do dogs smell each other’s behinds?

Why do dogs smell each other’s behinds? Chemical communication explained

Here at Reactions, we ask the tough questions to get […]

Animal Pictures

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Daily Drift

That just about sums it up ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

Strawberry Cheesecake  ... !
Today is  - Cheesecake Day
Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
United States - Chile - Brazil - Nicaragua - Canada - Mexico - Dominican Republic
Poland - Sweden - Cyprus - Ireland - Spain - Switzerland - Greece - Italy - Ukraine - England - Romania - Germany - Iceland - France - Guernsey - Russia - Denmark - Bosnia-Herzegovina - Finland -  Belgium - Czech Republic
Sri Lanka - India - Iran - Israel - Saudi Arabia - Japan - Mauritius - Malaysia - Thailand - Jordan - China - Kuwait - Indonesia - Taiwan - Iraq - Cambodia
Nigeria - Zimbabwe
The Pacific
Philippines - Australia

Non Sequitur


Today in History

1619 The House of Burgesses convenes for the first time at Jamestown, Va.
1787 The French parliament refuses to approve a more equitable land tax.
1799 The French garrison at Mantua, Italy, surrenders to the Austrians.
1864 In an effort to penetrate the Confederate lines around Petersburg, Va. Union troops explode a mine underneath the Confederate trenches but fail to break through. The ensuing action is known as the Battle of the Crater.
1919 Federal troops are called out to put down Chicago race riots.
1938 George Eastman demonstrates his color motion picture process.
1940 A bombing lull ends the first phase of the Battle of Britain.
1960 Over 60,000 Buddhists march in protest against the Diem government in South Vietnam.
1965 President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law.
1967 General William Westmoreland claims that he is winning the war in Vietnam, but needs more men.
1975 Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa disappears, last seen coming out of a restaurant in Bloomingfield Hills, Michigan.
1988  King Hussein dissolves Jordan's Parliament, surrenders Jordan's claims to the West Bank to the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
1990 Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent forces George Steinbrenner to resign as principal parter of the New York Yankees.
2003 The last of the uniquely shaped "old style" Volkswagen Beetles rolls off the assembly line in Mexico.
2012 Blackout in India as power grid failure leaves 300 million+ without power.

Congress Blocks Obama’s Attempt to Order New Office Supplies

Borowitz Report 
The Borowitz Report
by Andy Borowitz
The war between Congress and the White House took a turn for the worse on Friday as House repugicans sought to prevent President Obama from ordering new office supplies.The House panel that mandated the office-supply freeze denied that it was politically motivated, citing “budgetary concerns.” “It’s time President Obama learned a tough lesson,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “Being President does not entitle you to a spending spree at Staples.”
At the White House, the President blasted the repugicans’ move to strip him of legal pads, pencils, and other office essentials, calling it “just their latest attempt to keep me from doing my job.”
In an Oval Office appearance, a visibly irritated President Obama showed reporters a nearly empty supply cabinet and said, “They have manufactured this crisis,” noting that he will be out of paper clips and Post-its by August.

George Will stuns Faux News panel: ‘Preposterous’ that U.S. can’t shelter child refugees from violence

by David Edwards
Faux News contributor George Will shocked his fellow panelists on Sunday by asserting that the United States should not deport child refugees who were fleeing violence in Central America.
George Will speaks to Fox News
“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school, and get a job, and become American,’” Will suggested. “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county.”
“They idea that we can’t assimilate these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous,” he added.
At that point, Faux News host Chris Wallace interrupted: “You got to know, we’re going to get tons of email saying, ‘This guy doesn’t understand the border. Why should we be dealing with Central America’s problem? We can’t import the problem, they’ve got to deal with it there, and our border has to mean something.’”
“We can handle this problem is what I’m saying,” Will explained. “We’ve handled what [American poet] Emma Lazarus called the ‘wretched refuse of your teeming shore’ a long time ago, and a lot more people than this.”

China’s Navy Shows Off Massage Techniques in Soft-Power Display

On a Chinese hospital ship off Hawaii, crew members demonstrate traditional massage techniques to U.S. sailors. The mood is one of collegiality, even after China opted out of Japan-led humanitarian drills at the world’s largest international naval exercise. There are no guns in sight as Senior Captain Sun Tao stands on the deck of the Peace Ark that’s taking part in the five-week-long Rim of the Pacific Exercise, known as Rimpac. Inside the ship, sailors tuck into fatty pork and steamed buns, watching President Xi Jinping on state television, while others give out Chinese massages.
“The Chinese navy now is acting on orders to have a cooperative and open attitude,” Sun said after Chinese navy cameramen filmed reporters visiting its eight operating theaters, dental facilities and CT scanner. “I think cooperative areas are growing wider.”
The Peace Ark, at about 580 feet, is the friendly face of China’s expanding military power in the Pacific, helping treat thousands after Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines in November 2013. In another bid to soften its public image, the army turned to dancing robots, served up Big Macs and showed that amphibious vehicles can indeed do donuts at its latest open day in Beijing on July 22.

Even so, China’s decision to avoid the Japan-led Rimpac disaster-relief drills reflects remaining tensions with its neighbors over territory as Xi pledges to restore China to naval prominence in the region. China fanned concerns about its intentions by sending a surveillance vessel to waters off Hawaii even as it participated in the 22-nation Rimpac exercise for the first time, sending the second-largest fleet.
‘Fame, Friendship, Fear’
“China’s participation is motived by fame, friendship and fear,” said Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “The hospital ship shows China wants to present the benign image that its naval modernization is actually beneficial to the region. The spy ship shows there is still a trust deficit between the two sides.”
Rimpac offers China and the U.S. a non-confrontational way to learn more about each other’s capabilities compared with more tense encounters including a near-collision with a U.S. cruiser in December. While China’s four People’s Liberation Army Navy ships have been welcomed they’ve been kept out of core war games, and the exercise is led by the U.S. along with allies Australia, Canada and Japan. China and Japan are sparring over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, over which China declared an air defense identification zone last November.
‘Might for Peace’
Commissioned in 2008, the Peace Ark has visited 16 countries and provided medical services to Chinese navy escort fleets in the Gulf of Aden. On its way back from Hawaii, the ship will stop in Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, Sun said.
“The Peace Ark is one of the most notable it’s sent to Rimpac, because the Peace Ark was deployed in the past to build China’s image of its growing military might for peace and humanitarian purposes,” said Jian Zhang, a senior lecturer at the Canberra-based Australian Defence Force Academy of the University of New South Wales. “It wants to show it can play a positive and constructive role in international security cooperation.”
Limited Participation
Even so, while China initially indicated interest in participating in some of the “scenario-driven” humanitarian events, it limited the scope of its participation to military medicine exchanges and training, Lieutenant Lenaya Rotklein, a public affairs officer for Rimpac, said by e-mail. Peace Ark did take part in a medical orientation and military medicine symposium with more than 120 international medical officials.
“While at sea, Peace Ark and USNS Mercy participated in mass casualty events and medical evacuation training,” she said.
The Peace Ark has worked closely with U.S. hospital ship USNS Mercy and even requested the U.S. ship attend the exercise for the first time, Captain Paul Spedero of the amphibious assault vessel USS Peleliu, which is at Rimpac alongside the Mercy, said in an interview on the bridge of his ship. The U.S. is restricted by law on the types of contacts it can have with the Chinese, Captain Spedero said.
“They’ve been pursuing this capability for some time, they’re very interested in our capability with the Mercy in the Pacific,” he said. “They are very serious about the development of that capability.”
Typhoon Relief
When Haiyan hit the Philippines, the U.S. sent the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, as well as two amphibious ships carrying around 900 marines from Okinawa in Japan.
China sent the Peace Ark, which ferried the sick and injured from shore using its sole helicopter. The visit was the first time the navy engaged in overseas humanitarian medical aid, according to the Ministry of Defense.
“I felt that the people of the Philippines -- ordinary people, government officials, or the military -- welcomed our services,” Sun said about his experience there. “Through this medical service, they can deepen their understanding of the Chinese navy and its thinking.”
While it will focus on humanitarian work, the ship’s triage area can handle wartime casualties, according to Du Xin, a lieutenant commander on the ship.
China and the Philippines are embroiled in a territorial dispute over resource-rich shoals in the South China Sea. The Philippines has accused China of building artificial islands in the area and harassing its coast guard and fishing boats.
First Carrier
As it presses its territorial claims, China is building longer-range naval and air capacity. Its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was commissioned in 2012 and has conducted sea trials. The country is holding military exercises in the South China Sea until Aug. 1 and a drill in the East China Sea until Aug. 2.
“In between the extremes of humanitarian uses for its navy and cold-war style espionage, may be found capacities that show China is no laggard in what Chinese President and commander-in-chief, Xi Jinping requires of the country’s armed forces -- the ability to fight and win wars,” Rosita Dellios, an associate professor of international relations at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast, said in an e-mail.
For now, China is stressing the humanitarian work of its navy. On board the Peace Ark, Commander Fu Bensheng received a traditional cupping massage in the Traditional Chinese Medicine ward. The ship carries a slogan from Chairman Mao Zedong that “being humble helps you become a good person, and being arrogant does the opposite.”
“The Chinese Navy will take part in more rescues,” Sun said, sipping green tea in the ship’s cafe. “Whenever there is a disaster, countries’ rescue ability is limited. You need many countries to help them. China will positively take part in international humanitarian rescues.”

The Muslims of Tromsø: Ramadan in the Land of the Midnight Sun

by Dennis Betzholz
The Muslims of Tromsø: Ramadan in the Land of the Midnight Sun  
During Ramadan, Muslims fast until the sun goes down. But what if you live in a place where there is no sunset? The believers in Tromsø, Norway spent years searching for a solution to that conundrum. Now that they have found one, new problems have arisen.  More

Police investigate Hugging

Police are investigating a non-aggravated assault that involved a recently discharged patient hugging a staff member unprovoked on Friday morning outside the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.
An employee told police that a man approached her at around 10:18am near the loading dock, grabbed her coffee and hugged her.
The man left when another staff member "interrupted the confrontation," according to the U-M police log. Responding police officers were unable to find the man, but he was identified as a recently discharged patient.
The suspect was described as a white male, very dark tan, 40s, 6 feet tall, shoulder-length greasy dark brown hair, wearing blue jeans, a white shirt with “Staff” written on the back, red hospital socks and no shoes.

Couple recieve probation

A western Pennsylvania couple, accused of luring their five-year-old son into the trunk of their car with candy to resolve his fear of the dark, were granted probation this week.
Jeffrey and Danielle Lenhart were charged with felony child endangerment and reckless endangerment for locking their son in the car during three trips to the Idlewild amusement park in Lingonier, Pennsylvania, in July 2013. They gave him a flashlight and told him to look for sweets before locking the trunk at the park, about 9.5-miles (15 km) from their home in Latrobe, court officials said.
They were accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program on Thursday in a deal approved by Westmoreland County Judge Richard McCormick Jr., according to Danielle Lenhart's lawyer, Deborah Jackson. "She recognizes the serious nature of what has happened and I don't think we will see her in court again," Jackson said of her client. The incidents came to light when one of the couple's children was interviewed by child welfare officials for undisclosed reasons.
The boy and another sibling, who is 4, have been staying with relatives following the charges, but will be returned to the home, court officials said. A younger sibling, 1, has already been reunited with the parents. Upon completion of two years probation, charges against the Lenharts will be dismissed and records expunged, Jackson said. A previous judge in the case did not want to allow the Lenharts to enter the rehabilitative program, but Jackson said she was pleased with McCormick's decision.
There's a news video from an earlier court hearing here. In this report the child is wrongly identified as being aged three.

Man accused of bar hopping on lawnmower charged with drunk driving

A Northern Colorado man has been arrested on suspicion on DUI while was driving a lawnmower. Police said Kenneth Welton was driving drunk from bar to bar along a very busy road in Garden City on a riding lawnmower.

“He couldn’t stand on his own. He was showing signs of impairment,” said Weld County Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Standridge. Welton’s driver’s license had been revoked when he was arrested.
From jail, Welton, 53, said he was not using the lawnmower to get around, but instead to take care of overgrown weeds. “It was just surprising, it was just a total shock. What are you kidding me?

“I haven’t been, I’ve been working, I have been mowing, I haven’t been bar hopping,” said Welton. Standridge said deputies arrested Welton on Tuesday night after getting 911 calls from concerned drivers. “He’s lucky he didn’t hurt somebody or get himself hurt from somebody hitting him,” added Standridge.

Spanish city cracks down on noisy domino players

Authorities in the southern Spanish city of Seville have taken the unusual decision to ban dominoes and dice games in outdoor cafe areas, as part of a wider plan to crack down on noise in the city.The new measures will also look to clamp down on unnecessary car engine revving and loud TVs in restaurant terraces. Rolling beer barrels in the street or eating and drinking while standing up next to café terraces has also been banned.
Neighborhood associations have suggested most of the new regulations, 40 percent of which were ultimately voted in by the City Council. Opposition groups see the bizarre new measures as regressive and doubt the police will manage to control their implementation.
‏Spain is the noisiest country in Europe according to the World Health Organization.‏ Most Spaniards have to put up with noise levels of at least 70 decibels while the WHO recommends limits of 55db during the day and 45db at night.



Bacteria’s ability to fight obesity

Bacteria’s ability to fight obesity

A probiotic that prevents obesity could be on the horizon. […]

Twenty-Five Major Blunders

Number 22

The Banana Massacre

You are probably aware that the term “banana republic” came from the practices of the United Fruit Company, a U.S. firm that bought up large portions of several South American countries and wielded inordinate political power in the region, in order to supply the U.S. with bananas. The company’s power was such that government troops were made available to put down workers’ strikes. In Colombia, this led to a massacre.
In November 1928, grumbling among the more than 25,000 workers on the banana plantations of the United Fruit Company turned into a united effort with a well-organized strike against the massive American corporation.

The workers’ demands from United Fruit were far from unreasonable — a direct contract with the company, six-day work weeks, eight-hour days, medical care and the elimination of scripts (only good at company stores) that were paid to the workers instead of cash. Ten years earlier, the company’s workers had gone on strike with similar demands, but had failed to achieve their goals.
The Colombian government was afraid of a worker’s revolution, and also afraid the U.S. military would step in. Tensions led to a standoff between 1,400 workers and family members and 300 troops with machine guns on December 6. When the troops opened fire, the death toll was somewhere between 47 and 2,000 people. We will probably never know the exact number. Read about the massacre at Modern Farmer.

Faces of Medieval Scots Reconstructed

Forensic artists from the University of Dundee have rebuilt the faces of several of the nearly 400 men, women, and children whose remains were discovered in a medieval cemetery five years ago. “We have had a forensic pathology report done on all of the remains and that is allowing us to gain information about the population,” city archaeologist John Lawson told The Edinburgh Evening News. Most of those buried in South Leith Parish Church’s graveyard probably died of infectious diseases, and a small number of the women died in childbirth. Chemical analysis of a sample of the bones suggests that 80 percent of the dead had grown up in the Leith or Edinburgh area, eating a diet made up of predominately meat and dairy products with some marine fish. “It would have been a difficult life and it would have been hard for these folk because it was only a small hamlet,” added Jim Tweedie of Leith History Society.

Ancient 'astronomy lab' discovered in northern Peru

The archaeological complex of Licurnique, located four hours from Olmos district in Peru’s northern region of Lambayeque, reveals evidence of an astronomical laboratory from the formative stage.
Stone altar engraved with astronomical symbols is 3,500-4,000 years old
According to excavators, astronomical functions were engraved on rocks that have successfully stood the test of time.
The said archaeological site dates back to 3,500 or 4,000 years ago, and it is worth exploring without a doubt.
In it, archaeologists found a petroglyph that consists of a stone altar, an expression of religious superposition. It details and provides an understanding of Licurnique’s inhabitants.
Furthermore, astronomical observatories were engraved on a flat-surface rock, which were used to track stars and therefore to forecast rain fall for crops and human consumption.
In addition, explorers Juan Martinez and Manuel Curo agree that this complex combines ancient, Hispanic and Andean influences, event though it is unusual to find a blending of these three cultures’ customs, art and believes.
The astronomical laboratory was located near a river, whose vestiges are still visible but need to be preserved.
It should be noted that Licurnique is one of the 24 archaeological sites to be preserved under an inter-institutional agreement between Olmos district and the Naylamp-Lambayeque Executive Unit.

Daily Comic Relief


9 Reasons Why You’re a Mosquito Magnet

9 Reasons Why You’re a Mosquito Magnet
Mosquitoes are picky creatures — unsurprising if you’re the one always ducking for cover under a swarm of bloodsuckers while your friend remains unscathed. Good thing scientists are on the hunt to discover what makes certain people especially attractive to the tiny insects. Here are nine reasons they’ve come up with so far.
You Breathe
In many ways, no one is immune. The fact that humans breathe makes us all mosquito targets to varying degrees. More than 30 years ago, researchers discovered that carbon dioxide is one of the main reasons mosquitoes seek us out. The insects will fly to higher concentrations of CO2 (i.e. - large groups of people at sporting events and backyard parties), then use other sights and smells to narrow down their target.
You’re Tall
Because larger people produce more carbon dioxide and more body heat, they’re naturally more attractive to mosquitoes. This is why, when in groups, adults usually get bitten more than children, and men are targeted more often than women.
You’re Pregnant
Along with swollen feet and morning sickness, pregnant women are also nearly twice as likely to get bitten than those who are not expecting, according to one international study. Two reasons: Pregnant women produce excess amounts of carbon dioxide and body heat. 
You Exercise Regularly
During a workout, the body produces a chemical called lactic acid, which is released through sweat glands on the skin. And one German study confirmed that mosquitoes can detect and are attracted to lactic acid at close range.
Your Feet Stink
One study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that people with a higher abundance but lower diversity of bacteria on their feet are highly attractive to mosquitoes. The bacteria, which is pungent, is also found in Limburger cheese and is so effective at attracting mosquitoes, that scientists are using the cheese to trap and control the flies in Africa.
You’re Wearing Perfume
Mosquitoes suck the nectar of flowers for energy, so they’re attracted to floral scents. And certain floral odors are effective enough that researchers are figuring out how to use them to lure mosquitoes with their sweetness.
You’re Genetically Predisposed
Your genes are responsible for your body odor, so scientists are starting to test how genetic makeup could affect one’s susceptibility to mosquitoes. For example, one study published in the journal Infections, Genetics, and Evolution found that people with a particular HLA gene are more likely to be bitten. 
You Drink Beer
Downing just one 12-ounce beer can increase the risk of being bitten, says the Journal of the American Mosquito Association, although it’s unclear why. Just make sure that backyard beer is worth it.
You Have O Blood Type
This one is debatable. Several studies, including the most recent published in the journal Experimental Parasitology, show that people with blood type O are more likely to get bitten. However Joseph M. Conlon, a technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association, has disputed some of the research, blaming “bad statistics.”

Goat Reaches Fruit By Balancing On A Donkey

Now this is true friendship! 
A donkey allows his goat friend to balance on top of him while reaching for fruit in a tree.

Animal Pictures


Beautiful Huge Dall Ram - Like A Painting (by AlaskaFreezeFrame)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Daily Drift

The truth be told ...!
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Today in History

1588 The Spanish Armada is sighted off the coast of England.
1602 The Duke of Biron is executed in Paris for conspiring with Spain and Savoy against King Henry IV of France.
1603 Bartholomew Gilbert is killed in Virginia by Indians, during a search for the missing Roanoke colonists.
1693 The Army of the Grand Alliance is destroyed by the French at the Battle of Neerwinden.
1830 Liberals led by the Marquis of Lafayette seize Paris in opposition to the king's restrictions on citizens' rights.
1848 A rebellion against British rule is put down in Tipperary, Ireland.
1858 Japan signs a treaty of commerce and friendship with the United States.
1862 Confederates are routed by Union guerrillas at Moore's Mill, Missouri.
1875 Peasants in Bosnia and Herzegovina rebel against the Ottoman army.
1915 U.S. Marines land at Port-au-Prince to protect American interests in Haiti.
1921 Adolf Hitler becomes the president of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis).
1945 After delivering parts of the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian, the U.S.S. Indianapolis is sunk by a Japanese submarine. The survivors are adrift for two days before help arrives.
1981 Prince Charles marries Lady Diana.
1990 Boston Red Sox hit 12 doubles in a game, setting major league record.
1996 A US federal court strikes down the child protection portion of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, calling it too broad.
2005 Astronomers announce discovery of dwarf planet Eris, leading the International Astronomic Union to clarify the definition of a planet.