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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.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1521 Martin Luther is excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
1777 General George Washington defeats the British led by British General Lord Charles Cornwallis, at Princeton, New Jersey.
1861 Delaware rejects a proposal that it join the South in seceding from the Union.
1903 The Bulgarian government renounces the Treaty of Commerce tying it to the Austro-Hungarian empire.
1910 The Social Democratic Congress in Germany demands universal suffrage.
1912 Plans are announced for a new $150,000 Brooklyn stadium for the Trolley Dodgers baseball team.
1916 Three armored Japanese cruisers are ordered to guard the Suez Canal.
1920 The last of the U.S. troops depart France.
1921 Italy halts the issuing of passports to those emigrating to the United States.
1924 King Tutankhamen's sarcophagus is uncovered near Luxor, Egypt.
1930 The second conference on Germany's war reparations begins at the Hague, in the Netherlands.
1931 Hundreds of farmers storm a small town in depression-plagued Arkansas demanding food.
1933 The Japanese take Shuangyashan, China, killing 500 Chinese.
1946 President Harry S. Truman calls on Americans to spur Congress to act on the on-going labor crisis.
1958 The British create the West Indies Federation with Lord Hailes as governor general.
1959 Alaska is admitted into the Union as the 49th and largest state.
1959 Fidel Castro takes command of the Cuban army.
1961 The United States breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.
1966 Cambodia warns the United Nations of retaliation unless the United States and South Vietnam end intrusions.
1977 Apple Computers incorporates.
1978 North Vietnamese troops reportedly occupy 400 square miles in Cambodia. North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops were using Laos and Cambodia as staging areas for attacks against allied forces.
1985 President Ronald Reagan condemns a rash of arson attacks on abortion clinics.
1990 Manuel Noriega, former leader of Panama, surrenders to US forces.
1993 George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin sign the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
1994 More than 7 million people receive South African citizenship that had previously been denied under Apartheid policies.
1996 The first mobile flip phone, the Motorola StarTAC, goes on sale.
1999 Mars Polar Lander launched.
2000 The last original weekday Peanuts comic strip is published after a 50-year run, following the death of the strip's creator, Charles Schultz.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

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Obama Turns Up the Heat and Pressures Boehner to Restore Unemployment Benefits

On New Year’s Day, the White House released a statement saying in no uncertain terms that the President will push for extended benefits to be reinstated for the 1.3 million people who were cutoff last week. Essentially, President Obama is placing pressure on Congressional repugicans to act, and act fast, to restore unemployment insurance to the jobless who have been out of work for a long time and rely on the money to live. Below is the full statement made by Gene B. Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council:

This New Year’s Day, there is likely less joy and more fear and distress in the homes of 1.3 million Americans who this week have seen their unemployment insurance suddenly cut off – a vital lifeline that these Americans depend on as they fight to find a job. There would be no better New Year’s resolution for Congress to make today than to commit to making the first new legislation for the new year the restoration of emergency unemployment insurance for those who have this week just been cut off.
Failing to extend emergency unemployment insurance through 2014 will negatively impact 14 million Americans – the 4.9 million workers who will see unemployment insurance cut off and the approximately 9 million additional family members they are supporting. But if Congress does the right thing and acts to extend emergency unemployment benefits through 2014, it is estimated to lead to 200,000 jobs and a fifth of a point of additional economic growth. This emergency unemployment insurance is temporary and by design will taper off as the unemployment falls around the nation.
The claims by some that those experiencing long-term unemployment are solely at fault are belied by the countless accounts of the names, faces and stories of responsible Americans among those 1.3 million who have worked hard their whole lives and are fighting to find a new job to support their families. Because these workers are only eligible for this emergency assistance if they are actively looking for work, extension will help encourage many of the long-term unemployed to keep at it even if they are getting discouraged.
We as Americans can choose to have each other’s backs when we face serious spells of long-term unemployment. In more than 50 years, we have never cut off emergency unemployment insurance when the rate of long-term unemployment was even above 50% of its current level, even though none of those recessions were nearly as deep as the one we are now recovering from. Serious studies make clear that those who are long-term unemployed face serious barriers to getting new jobs than can lead to lasting damage to their economic future. At a time when we as a nation should be moving forward in our efforts to help those who are long-term unemployed find new jobs, we should not take a harsh step backwards by abruptly cutting off their unemployment insurance.
The President strongly supports Majority Leader Harry Reid’s commitment to bring the bipartisan Reed-Heller bill for a vote the very first day the Senate returns on January 6th. By temporarily extending emergency unemployment insurance for three months, this bipartisan bill will provide benefits for over 2 million Americans when they need it most, and we urge every member of Congress to support this vitally important bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will bring this up for a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session on January 6th. It is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.There will be at least a handful of repugicans that vote for it as well. It all depends on whether or not Speaker of the House John Boehner (r-OH) will bring this up for a vote or not. Obviously, all the Democrats in the House will vote for this. You also have to feel that there are a number of non-tea party members of the repugican caucus that don’t want to explain to their constituents why they let some of them suffer needlessly.
It will be very interesting to see how Boehner reacts to this. It is quite possible that Reid is going to get this over to the House by Monday evening. Will Boehner refuse to bring this up for a vote because he doesn’t have the ‘majority of the majority’ on his side? Will he cower, once again, to the Tea Party and show that Ted Cruz is the true leader of the House Republicans? Or will he realize that refusing extended benefits to over a million Americans who are already struggling mightily is extremely bad PR for the repugican cabal and just bring it up for a vote, tea party be damned? It remains to be seen, but the ball is definitely in Boehner’s court.

John Boehner Blames President Obama For Three Years of repugican Incompetence

After spending three years killing jobs, sending Americans into poverty, and damaging the economy, Boehner is doing damage control and blaming President Obama for House repugican incompetence.…
Damage control is an action to limit the effects of a catastrophic accident or tactical error, but it can also be a means of covering over gross malfeasance often achieved by shifting the blame for one’s ineptitude to an innocent bystander. For the past year, due to inaction, obstruction, and deliberate acts to thwart economic recovery repugicans and teabaggers distinguished the 113th Congress as completely ineffectual. It has taken a couple of years, but noted scholars, Capitol Hill observers, and regular Americans now understand repugicans are responsible for wasting taxpayer time and money doing nothing but obstruct economic progress and render the government ineffective as their raison d’être. Now that the public knows Speaker John Boehner and repugicans lied to gain control of the House in 2010 after spending three years killing jobs, sending Americans into poverty, and damaging the economy, Boehner is doing damage control and blaming President Obama for House repugican incompetence. The President has begged, prodded, and pressured repugicans to work for the people creating jobs and growing the economy, but repugicans created phony scandals and refused to even debate, much less vote for, job creation bills, infrastructure improvements, or anything to grow the economy and assist the people. Two weeks ago Boehner, aware the people blame repugicans for Washington’s dysfunction and their economic plight, released a slick commercial accusing President Obama of “standing on the sidelines” and obstructing House repugicans’ heroic efforts to create jobs with legislation related to energy, education, agriculture, and healthcare.
Among the bills Boehner boasted House repugicans passed to grow the economy and create millions of jobs was superseding the President’s authority and passing legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, overhauling Boehner’s failed No Child Left Behind education law, and of course, repealing the Affordable Care Act. In the ad, Boehner says “Here in the people’s House, we’re focused on getting the economy moving again, passing good jobs bills” even though none of the bills Boehner cited would have a positive impact on the economy or create jobs. Boehner and repugicans are desperate to convince people that the “do nothing” label they rightfully earned in 2013 has nothing to do with their phony scandals or obstruction and as is their wont, found what they think is an easy scapegoat that fools no-one but their dyed-in-the-wool supporters and Faux News’ audience. According to Boehner, repugican ineffectiveness, obstruction, and job-killing efforts were entirely the fault of Senate Democrats and President Obama. To punctuate what he thought was a convincing and valid argument, Boehner ends the minute-long infomercial asking “Mr. President, what are you waiting for?”
Any American with a brain knows the President was waiting for House repugicans to do their jobs for the people and to help the economy instead of the oil industry, private and cult education organizations, and insurance industry who are precisely who House repugicans served over the past year. For example, House repugicans’ so-called “focus on getting the economy moving again” included eliminating overtime pay, keeping the job-killing sequester, privatizing schools, hampering GDP growth, and enriching the oil industry; particularly the Koch brothers.
Boehner failed to elucidate how fixating on the Affordable Care Act by shutting down the government, threatening a credit default, and symbolically voting to repeal it was “focusing on getting the economy moving again” and not just a plot to restrict Americans’ access to healthcare insurance.  He also did not expound on how holding the debt ceiling hostage unless the President and Democrats eliminated the health law was remotely related to “the people’s house passing good job legislation,” but with a fast-paced Hollywood-style propaganda video, facts are not as important as flashy images of repugicans milling about on the House floor.
Boehner’s contention the House bill reforming No Child Left Behind, his 2001 gift to corporations producing education testing materials and pushing private charter schools, is remotely related to reforming America’s ability to educate America’s children when its real purpose is neutering the Education Department and giving repugican governors the means to transform public education into private cult madrasas. The “reform” repugicans passed cut education funding, eliminated Department of Education standards, and provided funding for repugican states to privatize schools, eliminate teacher unions, rob public schools to fund religious schools, and cut funding for schools serving minority students. The only jobs the House repugican “education reform” would create were for clergy posing as educators and CEOs shuttering public schools and replacing them with for-profit corporate-run conservative propaganda mills and evangelical madrasas.
The repugican energy reform amounted to killing environmental regulations and expediting construction of the KeystoneXL pipeline to enrich Koch Industries, oil export companies, and John Boehner’s portfolio replete with stock in seven Canadian tar sand companies. Boehner contends legislation approving immediate construction of the pipeline is “the people’s house passing good jobs bills” even though it will not create any more than 2,500 temporary jobs for two-years, or that it sends Canadian tar to Koch and gulf refineries on its way to China and Europe. Maybe he meant the pipeline creates jobs for the healthcare industry when CO2 reaches toxic levels, or for scientists scratching their heads attempting to clean up several guaranteed tar-sand spills annually over prime American agriculture land and water supplies. There is no good outcome from building the Canadian export pipeline across American land and no possible way to misconstrue it as good energy policy or passing good jobs bills.
Under John Boehner’s leadership House repugicans have not passed one bill to create jobs or grow the economy since they won the majority in the 2010 midterm elections. They have, however, spent all of 2013 killing jobs and hampering economic growth with their precious sequester, cutting food stamps, failing to extend unemployment benefits, and shutting down the government which is their crowning achievement of 2013.  All the while, President Obama pursued and promoted job creation bills such as an infrastructure improvement bank, Veteran’s job program, American Jobs Act, and called for raising the minimum wage to put money into the economy and create more jobs in the process. With each new proposal from the President, repugicans stood on the sideline and if they were not actively obstructing bills, they were cutting programs that create jobs, and damaged the economy by sending more Americans into poverty.
Boehner can pay for, star in, provide voice-overs, and tell Americans House repugicans passed jobs bills and were focused on getting the economy moving again in 2013 only to be obstructed by President Obama he claims was standing on the sideline. However, the American people are well aware that only President Obama has called for, provided, and promoted real job creation legislation in his Inaugural Address, State of the Union, and most recently in a brilliant speech on repugican-created income inequality hampering economic growth and killing Americans’ jobs. When Americans look back over the past year and consider their economic plight and lack of jobs they know it was Boehner’s repugicans standing on the sidelines obstructing economic growth, killing jobs, and rejecting the President’s pleas for the do-nothing House to “focus on getting the economy moving again and pass good jobs bills;” something they are incapable of doing.

You Won't Believe wingnuts' Absurd Theories They Think Will Cure Poverty

Why pay attention to facts when you can pray to nonsensical idols?

According to a major new study by a group of academic researchers at Columbia University, government programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance have significantly helped the poor over the last 50 years.
But the very same study shows that America’s deregulated, capitalism-gone-wild economy has done far less to lift people out of poverty during that same period. The facts demonstrate clearly that government services have made the difference in people’s lives, while America’s economic policies have failed.
As Zachary Goldfarb reported in the Washington Post, the researched revealed that, “The safety net helped reduce the percentage of Americans in poverty from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012. The results were especially striking during the most recent economic downturn, when the poverty rate barely budged despite a massive increase in unemployment.”
You would think that ought to settle the matter: A strong social safety net is the best defense against poverty.
Yet in the face of these findings, Goldfarb’s paper recently ran a noxious editorial blasting the idea of expanding the social safety net, despite America's extreme current levels of income inequality and misguided economic policies that obviously redistribute wealth toward the rich. Could this be because the editorial board of the Post is caught in the grips of a bizarre belief based on the magic-making capacities of a flightless bird and a supernatural appendage? Let’s explore.
Back before the 19th century, American conservatives advocated what’s known as the “turkey basket” approach to poverty. You help the poor through charitable gestures, like bringing poor families in your community a turkey for Xmas. Poverty was a natural state and part of god's plan, after all, not a social problem. The poor were orphans and widows and such, and giving them alms was a religious duty.
But gradually, conservatives began to consider the ideas of Enlightenment thinkers who tried to approach poverty in a more systematic way. Wingnuts preferred the ideas of Adam Smith, the father of free-market fundamentalism, who suggested that a mysterious power called the invisible hand of the market would take care of the poor, providing them with a free, expanding economy that would bring a “universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people.”
So now wingnuts had both a bird and a supernatural agent to solve the problem of poverty (though truthfully, some were relieved to dispense with the Turkey altogether and just abandon the poor to the Hand). Unsurprisingly, this approach didn’t work. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, which woke up most thinking people to the mythology of a free-market paradise in which everyone would enjoy opulence, massive government programs were needed to counter the tsunami of poverty and prevent complete social chaos. Thanks to these programs, which included protections like unemployment insurance, America prospered, poverty was dealt a body blow, and income inequality shrank for the next several decades.
But American wingnuts could not abandon their peculiar idols. Starting in the 1970s, they began to agitate for a return to the old thinking. They called upon Marvin Olasky, a minor academic and religious zealot, who dusted off the ancient theories in the 1980s and repackaged them as “compassionate wingnuttery” — a doctrine dedicated to reducing the federal role in helping the poor and leaving them to the free market and whatever turkey baskets might come their way.
Paul Ryan serves up the latest Turkey-Hand recipe, relying heavily on promoting volunteerism and advocating charity in the place of food stamps to conquer poverty. And if that doesn’t work, hey, folks — just pray! “You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul,” Ryan explained to a Heritage Foundation forum. “Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.”
Well, Mr. Ryan, it didn’t save the nearly 6 million American children who live in homes where there isn’t enough food, a number which will rise if cruel cuts to unemployment benefits are made three days after Xmas.
It didn't save the 7 percent of all workers who earn wages that leave them below the poverty line of $18,530, while the CEOs of McDonalds, Disney, and Coca-Cola make over 25 million dollars a year.
It didn't save the 7 homeless people who have frozen to death so far this winter in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country.
With the repugican cabal's latest attempt to confront poverty by depriving 1.3 million jobless Americans of unemployment benefits and requiring hungry people to urinate in a cup in order to get food stamps, it's obvious what today's wingnuts really means when they talk about compassionate wingnuttery: wingnut compassion.
We know where the real turkeys are.

Governor Rick Perry’s Sacrifice For His Ideology?

The Death Of Texans!

Rick Perry Obamacare Medicaid Expansion op-ed
Where is the outcry? Where is the empathy? Where are the moral values? Governor Rick Perry wrote an op-ed about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in the Dallas Morning News that is nothing short of evil. If he is to be believed, the question every Texan and every American must ask is “what have you, Mr. Perry, done to help the millions of Texans and Americans without healthcare?” What have your Party done to assist the ever increasing medical catastrophe in this country over several decades of Republican obstruction to humane healthcare for all.

Rick Perry supports insurance companies ‘legally defrauding’ Americans.

Rick Perry begins with what he believes to be the new perfect attack against Obamacare.
People all across the country have witnessed what a disaster this program has been from its earliest stages, ranging from the $600 million website debacle to the sad fact that President Barack Obama flat-out deceived the American people when he promised that those who like their coverage could keep it.
He fails to acknowledge that these policies were cancelled not because the president broke a promise, but because these policies came into effect after the law was passed but before the regulations kicked in. The policies did not protect Americans and were simply insurance companies taking premiums for little or no service. Obamacare make those policies illegal. You cannot like what you do not know you do not have. Rick Perry in effect is supporting the ‘legal’ defrauding of Texans and Americans by that accusation.
Rick Perry shows who he really cares about in the op-ed. He says,
The insurance industry — already being forced to cover more people without seeing the promised influx of younger, healthier uninsured purchasing coverage to help cover costs — is being forced to cut costs and raise premiums, meaning less choice, less coverage and longer wait times for Americans at doctor’s offices and hospitals, despite paying more money out of their pockets.
Insurance companies do not add value to healthcare. Their sole purpose is to make a profit from paying your bill. They must only concern themselves with risk management and the composition of their pool of people to ensure they make a profit. The American citizens are nothing but raw material for them. If one assumes that all people are entitled to humane healthcare, there should be no risk pool. Everyone should pay a premium proportional to their income. That should afford them humane healthcare  that one should expect from a rich country.
Rick Perry’s above assertions implies America does not have a medical establishment capable of addressing the medical needs of the entire population. At the same time it implies the cost for this substandard system seeing more people is higher prices. In his closed loop system, that implies even further profits not only for insurance companies but the entire medical establishment. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Rick Perry believes one must be destitute before assistance.

The following statement is likely one of the most un-empathetic statements. On the surface it seems benign. At its core is the new Republican ideology.
Another consequence of Obamacare is the effort to cram more people into an already broken and costly Medicaid system without any reforms. Increasing income disregards, eliminating asset testing and forcing previously ineligible individuals into Medicaid all function as a backdoor expansion of Medicaid. Yet Obamacare’s own system to transfer Medicaid applicants to Texas doesn’t even work.
Rick Perry accuses the Medicaid system, one of our social safety nets as being broke and costly. Costly? Ask doctors who receive Medicaid payments how costly it is. They get less than Medicare rates. Many doctors complain but their standard of living remains high.
Within Rick Perry’s words lay something more ominous. The statement “asset testing and forcing previously ineligible individuals into Medicaid “ is a requirement of his ideology. It is what Obamacare is intent on eliminating. This implies that, as in Texas, one must be near destitute or one must become destitute before qualifying for any assistance.
The shortsightedness of said stance, said ideology is profound. If one gets a helping hand without having to be destitute the ability to grow out of poverty is that much greater. One has a base to build from. In Rick Perry’s world you must be relegated to a permanent underclass or die on the path to permanent underclass seeking healthcare. This is not hyperbole. It is reality.
Unfortunately most of the indigent in America gets no press. They suffer in silence. They feel as if they have no voice. As such they do not vote. They do not participate in the body politic. The constant attack on them by Rick Perry and his ilk demoralizes them.

Rick Perry must be stopped.

It is our civic responsibility as Americans who love democracy to ensure the failure of Rick Perry and his ilk in their immoral endeavors. It is time to get up from the keyboard and computer screen and help that demoralized neighbor. It is time to engage them. Talk to them. Listen to their problems. Share their problems. Help them with solutions and bring them back into the body politic. It is time that all Americans know this is their country and it is up to them to take away the reigns from those that have decimated the poor and the middle class as they built up the wealth of the few on their backs.

5 Million Uninsured Because They Live in repugican States

About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America.
They make up a coverage gap in President Barack Obama's signature health care law created by the domino effects of last year's Supreme Court ruling and states' subsequent policy decisions.
The court effectively left it up to states to decide whether to open Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, to more people, primarily poor working adults without children.

Hawaii woman with long last name gets new ID cards

A Hawaii woman whose last name is 36 characters long has finally gotten the whole thing to fit on her driver's license and state identification card.
Janice "Lokelani" Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele (KAY'-ee-hah-nah-EE'-coo-COW'-ah-KAH'-hee-HOO'-lee-heh-eh-KAH'-how-NAH-eh-leh) has a surname that consists of 35 letters plus an okina, a mark used in the Hawaiian alphabet. She received her new license and ID after her campaign to get her full name on the cards prompted the state Department of Transportation to change its policy to expand the number of characters that can appear.
Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele, 54, said Monday that she's happy she was able to help fix the problem of identification cards lacking sufficient space for long names.
"Now, in the state of Hawaii, we are no longer second class citizens because of the length of our name," she said.
Hawaii driver's licenses and ID cards previously had room for names totaling up to 35 characters. The new policy allows 40 characters for last names, 40 for first names and 35 for middle names.
Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele got the name when she married her Hawaiian husband in 1992.
He used only the one name, which his grandfather gave him after it came to him in a dream.
Under the old policy, Hawaii County issued Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele her driver's license and state ID with the last letter of her name chopped off. And it omitted her first name.
She told news media about the issue earlier this year after a policeman gave her a hard time about her driver's license during a traffic stop.
Last month, the state Department of Transportation announced it expanded the character limits.
Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele is now hoping to get the Social Security Administration to allow more characters on its identification cards.
The agency's cards have two lines for names. The first line has 26 spaces for first and middle names while the second line has 26 spaces for a last name and suffix.

Friday night is science movie night

All this month, Turner Classic Movies will be having a special "Science in the Movies" spotlight on Friday nights, with a weekly marathon of science-themed classics hosted by physicist Sean Carroll.

What Einstein and Szilard did in their spare time

Did you know that Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd once invented a refrigerator
And a life-saving refrigerator, at that.

5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds.

Quinoa is widely considered as one of the healthiest foods of all time. If you've only recently jumped on the bandwagon, there's probably a few things about this ancient grain you don’t happen to know yet.

Can a Dietary Supplement Treat a Concussion?

Exploiting the public’s rising concern about concussions, some companies are offering untested, unproven and possibly dangerous products that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The Food and Drug […]

Ancient Origin Of The Word 'Diarrhea' And Other Common Medical Terms

Human beings have suffered from many of the same chronic illnesses and conditions since the dawn of recorded history. In fact, many of the words we use to describe medical maladies today date back to the birth of classical civilization, when Greek and Roman physicians first began studying medicine.

For example, Hippocrates is credited for coining the term diarrhea. Derived from the Greek word diarrhoia, which means 'flowing through,' the term is found in numerous places in the Hippocratic corpus, as it is a symptom of a variety of diseases.

Chinese doctor admits to selling newborns

IOL Shuxia CHINA-_1230_11
Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician involved in baby trafficking, stands trial in Weinan Intermediate People's Court in Weinan, Shaanxi province.
Beijing - A Chinese doctor has admitted in court that she stole babies from the hospital where she worked and sold them to human traffickers, state media and a court said.
Zhang Shuxia, a locally respected and soon-to-retire obstetrician, stood trial on Monday in northern Shaanxi province's Fuping county, according to online postings from the court.
Zhang told parents their newborns had congenital problems and persuaded them to “sign and give the babies up,” the court postings said.
Calls to the Weinan Intermediate People's Court and the local Communist Party propaganda department went unanswered.
The case exposed the operations of a baby trafficking ring that operated across several provinces centering on Zhang, who delivered babies at the Fuping County Maternal and Child Hospital.
Child trafficking is a big problem in China, despite severe legal punishments that include the death penalty. Families who buy trafficked children are driven partly by the traditional preference for male heirs, a strict one-child policy and ignorance of the law.
The indictment said that from November 2011 to July 2013, she sold seven babies to middlemen who sold the babies to “couples” in central and eastern China. Six of the babies were rescued, but one that was trafficked for 1,000 yuan ($165) in April later died.
Zhang was found out when a mother suspected her baby had been abducted and reported her to police in July. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Zhang had taken the baby home with her and sold him to a man in a neighbouring province for 21,600 yuan ($3,600) the same night. He in turn resold the baby to a villager in central China for 59,800 yuan ($9,900). Several other suspects have been detained in at least four provinces, Xinhua said.
The case has added to public frustration with China's medical profession over rampant bribery and other abuses.
The Beijing Times newspaper called for a “fair punishment” for Zhang to deter other doctors. “It will inject the authoritativeness of law into professional ethics of doctors and will warn doctors not to take the wrong step that brings them lifelong regret,” the paper said.

Random Photos

America’s Monument to Its Most Infamous Traitor

Benedict Arnold
In the United States, the name of Benedict Arnold is synonymous with treason. In exchange for cash and a commission in the British army, Major General Arnold promised to betray his cause and hand over the American fort at West Point. When American leaders discovered the plot, Arnold fled.
But it’s important to note that Arnold gained his command at West Point by dint of his previous battlefield service. Arnold was a brave, daring and aggressive commander. He had helped seize Fort Ticonderoga, participated in the invasion of Quebec and led American naval forces at the Battle of Valcour Island.
General Arnold’s greatest moment came during the Saratoga campaign, which ended with the surrender of an entire British army. The senior American commander, Horatio Gates, was often indecisive and shy of battle. Arnold, in contrast, was eager for battle. He personally led a successful charge on a British redoubt. During that fight, Arnold was shot in the leg and his horse fell on him.
Had Benedict Arnold died that day, he would likely be known as one of the great heroes of the American Revolutionary War. There would be towns, counties and schools named for him.
But he didn’t die. Arnold lived on to betray his country.
Which brings us to the Saratoga battlefield and the scene of Arnold’s most heroic moment.
Part of the Saratoga battlefield area is a national park. On the grounds are assorted monuments to various leaders and events. These were, of course, all built well after Arnold’s betrayal. How does it address the critical and heroic role of America’s most infamous traitor in that battle?
Like this:
The monument to Arnold is known as the Boot Monument. That’s because it makes no mention of Arnold by name and honors the leg that was broken during the battle. The inscription reads:
In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental army, who was desperately wounded on this spot, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution, and for himself the rank of Major General.
John Watts de Peyster, a general in the New York State Militia during the Civil War, erected the monument in 1887. Perhaps de Peyster made it in response to the primary monument, which was erected a few years earlier. The 155-foot tall obelisk has niches for four statues. There are statues for three of the four great American leaders of the battle: General Horatio Gates, General Philip Schuyler and Colonel Daniel Morgan. The fourth niche is empty.
P.S. Arnold’s name has not been completely erased from American military epigraphy. The monument for the Battle of Valcour Island mentions him by name.

Medieval Cone Shaped Princess Hats Were Inspired by Mongol Warrior Women

Nothing says 'princess' like a pointy, cone-shaped hat. From kids' costumes to medieval paintings, the cone hat - more formally known as a hennin (or henin) - is a sure sign of royalty.

But here's something you might not know about the hat that adorn the heads of pale-skinned ladies: they were actually modeled after the hats of Mongol warrior queens.

In Celtic Tradition

MABON was the young son of Mother Modron. Throughout the world there was not a huntsman who could hunt with the dog Drudwyn, the whelp of Greid, the son of Eri, except for Mabon the son of Modron. He was taken from his mother when three nights old, and it was not known where he was, nor whether he were living or dead.
Gwynn Mygdwn, the horse of Gweddw, that was as swift as the wave, carried Mabon the son of Modron to hunt the boar Twrch Trwyth.
Mabon could not be sought for it was not known where he was unless Eidoel, his cousin kinsman in blood, the son of Aer, was found.
The whereabouts of Mabon son of Modron who was taken away at three nights old from his mother were known only to the Salmon of Llyn Llyw. In Gloucester it was that Mabon the son of Modron was imprisoned; and no imprisonment was ever so grievous as that of Mabon, neither that of Lludd Llaw Ereint, nor that of Greid the son of Eri.
Arthur summoned the warriors of the Island, and they journeyed as far as Gloucester, to the place where Mabon was in prison. Kai and Bedwyr went upon the shoulders of the fish, whilst the warriors of Arthur attacked the castle. And Kai broke through the wall into the dungeon, and brought away the prisoner upon his back, whilst the fight was going on between the warriors. And Arthur returned home, and Mabon with him at liberty.
And after that Arthur went into Armorica, and with him Mabon the son of Mellt, and Gware Gwallt Euryn, to seek the two dogs of Glythmyr Ledewic. And when he had got them, he went to the West of Ireland, in search of Gwrgi Severi; and Odgar the son of Aedd king of Ireland, went with him. And thence went Arthur into the North, and captured Kyledyr Wyllt; and he went after Yskithyrwyn Benbaedd. And Mabon the son of Mellt came with the two dogs of Glythmyr Ledewic in his hand, and Drudwyn, the cub of Greid the son of Eri. And Arthur went himself to the chase, leading his own dog Cavall.
Mabon the son of Modron, came up with Arthur at the Severn, upon Gwynn Mygddon, the horse of Gweddw, and Goreu the son of Custennin, and Menw the son of Teirgwaedd; this was betwixt Llyn Lliwan and Aber Gwy. And Arthur fell upon Twrch Trwyth together with the champions of Britain. And Osla Kyllellvawr drew near, and Manawyddan the son of Llyr, and Kacmwri the servant of Arthur, and Gwyngelli, and they seized hold of him, catching him first by his feet, and plunged him in the Severn, so that it overwhelmed him. On the one side, Mabon the son of Modron spurred his steed and snatched his razor from him, and Kyledyr Wyllt came up with him on the other side, upon another steed, in the Severn, and took from him the scissors.



Why It’s Called Lake Superior

Lake superior
Lake Superior contains ten percent of all the fresh water on the planet Earth.
It covers 82,000 square kilometers or 31,700 square miles.
The average depth is 147 meters or 483 feet.
There have been about 350 shipwrecks recorded in Lake Superior
Lake Superior is, by surface area, the largest lake in the world.
A Jesuit priest in 1668 named it Lac Tracy, but that name was never officially adopted.
It contains as much water as all the other Great Lakes combined, plus three extra Lake Erie ‘s!!
There is a small outflow from the lake at St. Mary’s River (Sault Ste Marie) into Lake Huron , but it takes almost two centuries for the water to be completely replaced.
There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover all of North and South America with water one foot deep.
Lake Superior was formed during the last glacial retreat, making it one of the earth’s youngest major features at only about 10,000 years old.
The deepest point in the lake is 405 meters or 1,333 feet.
There are 78 different species of fish that call the big lake home.
The maximum wave ever recorded on Lake Superior was 9.45 meters or 31 feet high.
If you stretched the shoreline of Lake Superior out to a straight line, it would be long enough to reach from Duluth to the Bahamas .
Over 300 streams and rivers empty into Lake Superior with the largest source being the Nipigon River
The average underwater visibility of Lake Superior is about 8 meters or 27 feet, making it the cleanest and clearest of the Great Lakes .
In the summer, the sun sets more than 35 minutes later on the western shore of Lake Superior than at its southeastern edge.
Some of the world’s oldest rocks, formed about 2.7 billion years ago, can be found on the Ontario shore of Lake Superior ..
It very rarely freezes over completely, and then usually just for a few hours.  Complete freezing occurred in 1962, 1979, 2003 and 2009.

4.3B-Year-Old 'Diamonds' Aren't Exactly Diamonds

Back in 2007, a team of researchers said they'd found 4.3-billion-year-old diamonds inside zircon crystals taken from Australia's Jack Hills. But those researchers had used a grinding paste made of synthetic diamonds to polish the zircons in preparation for lab tests ... and now a different team of scientists has discovered the so-called "diamonds" are actually just fragments of that polishing grit that got pushed into tiny cracks, LiveSciencereports. The first team of researchers agrees with the conclusion, but insists there might still be ancient diamonds deeper inside the zircon; the second team of researchers—and some other experts—say that's extremely unlikely.

Daily Comic Relief


One of the last known photos of the Formosan Clouded Leopard is a picture of a vest

It's a nice-looking vest, but it does make a rather strong point about humans' role in animal extinctions. The Formosan Clouded Leopard was one of the animals declared extinct in 2013.

10 Animals That Went Extinct in 2013

We get excited about new species discovered every year, but at the same time, there are those that we've given up hope of ever seeing again -alive. Researchers have searched for the Formosan Clouded Leopard in Taiwan for years, but what they found was this photograph of one that had been made into a vest. A living leopard has not been seen in thirty years.
We did just about everything we could to eliminate this animal; we destroyed their habitat, killed them for their skins, and got rid of the other animals they normally ate. They didn't have a chance.
And there are nine other species now on the extinct list that you can read about at Living Alongside Wildlife.

Dogs prefer to defecate and urinate along a north-south axis

Let's start the new year with something in trivial knowledge department.  Here's the introduction and results from an abstract published in Frontiers in Zoology:
Several mammalian species spontaneously align their body axis with respect to the Earth's magnetic field (MF) lines in diverse behavioral contexts. Magnetic alignment is a suitable paradigm to scan for the occurrence of magnetosensitivity across animal taxa with the heuristic potential to contribute to the understanding of the mechanism of magnetoreception and identify further functions of magnetosensation apart from navigation. With this in mind we searched for signs of magnetic alignment in dogs. We measured the direction of the body axis in 70 dogs of 37 breeds during defecation (1,893 observations) and urination (5,582 observations) over a two-year period. After complete sampling, we sorted the data according to the geomagnetic conditions prevailing during the respective sampling periods. Relative declination and intensity changes of the MF during the respective dog walks were calculated from daily magnetograms. Directional preferences of dogs under different MF conditions were analyzed and tested by means of circular statistics.

Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm MF conditions. This directional behavior was abolished under Unstable MF. The best predictor of the behavioral switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the MF. 
Conclusions here.

An Intimate Look at Tigers

Photographer Steve Winter has traveled to India, Sumatra, Myanmar and Thailand to photograph one of the most endangered big cats in the world.

The Kermode Bear

Spirit Bear Of British Columbia

This is a remarkable sub-species of the North American Black Bear. It is the Kermode Bearr - also known as the spirit bear. Living along the shorelines and central interior of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, around 10% of Kermode bears have white or creamy coats.

Pronounced kerr-MOH-dee, the lighter Kermode bears are not albinos. They appear much brighter than most of the population because of recessive alleles.

What's the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world up to?

 The coconut crab can live for 120 years, likes to steal silverware, and eats kittens. 

Animal Pictures