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

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Daily Drift

Ahem  ...

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Today in History

1072 Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger take Palermo in Sicily.
1645 The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, is beheaded on Tower Hill, accused of acting as an enemy of the British Parliament.
1724 King Philip V shocks all of Europe when he abdicates his throne in favor of his eldest son, Louis.
1811 An uprising of over 400 slaves is put down in New Orleans. Sixty-six blacks are killed and their heads are strung up along the roads of the city.
1847 General Stephen Kearny and Commodore Robert Stockton retake Los Angeles in the last California battle of the Mexican War.
1861 Florida secedes from the Union.
1863 London's Underground begins operations.
1870 John D. Rockefeller and his brother William establish the Standard Oil Company of Ohio.
1899 Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo renounces the Treaty of Paris, which annexed the Philippines to the United States.
1901 The Automobile Club of America installs signs on major highways.
1903 Argentina bans the importation of American beef because of sanitation problems.
1911 Two German cruisers, the Emden and the Nurnberg, suppress a native revolt on island of Ponape in the Caroline Islands in the Pacific when they fire on the island and land troops.
1912 The world's first flying-boat airplane, designed by Glenn Curtiss, makes its maiden flight at Hammondsport.
1917 Germany is rebuked as the Entente officially rejects a proposal for peace talks and demands the return of occupied territories from Germany.
1918 In Washington, the House of Representatives passes legislation for women's suffrage.
1920 The Treaty of Versailles goes into effect.
1923 The United States withdraws its last troops from Germany.
1940 German planes attack 12 ships off the British coast; sinking 3 ships and killing 35 people.
1941 The Soviets and Germany agree on the East European borders and the exchange of industrial equipment.
1946 Chiang Kai-shek and the Yenan Communist forces halt fighting in China.
1964 Panama breaks ties with the U.S. and demands a revision of the canal treaty.
1984 The United States and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations for the first time in 117 years.
1985 Sandinista Daniel Ortega becomes President of Nicaragua, vowing to continue the country's transformation to a socialist state with close ties to the USSR and Cuba.
2007 A general strike begins in Guinea; eventually, it will lead to the resignation of the country's president, Lansana Conte.

Non Sequitur


Just To Remind You, There Are A Lot Of Good People In This World

Meet 19-year old Joey Prusak. He works at a Dairy Queen fast food restaurant in Minnesota. He saw a 20$ bill drop from a blind man's wallet. A woman quickly picked it up and put it in her purse. Prusak asked the woman to return the money to the blind man. She refused.

Prusak then went over to the blind man, took $20 out of his own pocket and gave it to him, telling him it was the money the man had dropped. Prusak didn't tell people what he did and it was a week or so before the owner of the Dairy Queen location found out about his good deed when she received a letter from another customer who had witnessed the whole event.

Huge 9/11 Fraud Case Accuses Retired New York Cops, Firefighters

Scores of retired New York City police, fire and corrections officers were arrested today in a crackdown on disability fraud stemming from the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The fraud cost taxpayers millions of dollars, prosecutors claim.
The Manhattan district attorney's office accuses the retired workers, along with their lawyers and doctors, of faking work-related stress, including feigned psychiatric disorders related to 9/11.
Among those busted today was John Minerva, the disability consultant for the Detectives Endowment Association, officials said.
Today's arrests cap a two year investigation, aided by federal investigators, the city's Department of Investigation and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau.
The alleged fraud cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in improper Social Security benefits.
None of the accused actually suffered from debilitating stress, officials claim. Many were caught working after retirement, a violation of disability benefits.
And some of the retired officers retained their gun permits. Retired officers cannot possess guns if they are being treated for stress.
The 9/11 attacks took a heavy toll on the city's cops, called "New York's Finest," and firefighters, dubbed "New York's Bravest." The casualty count from the terror attacks included 23 police officers and 343 firefighters.
Most of the arrests in the fraud sweep took place in the city, with others being busted in Florida and elsewhere in New York State.
It was the second 9/11 scam to be revealed this week. On Monday, two New Jersey men pleaded guilty to raising and keeping $50,000 for a Sept. 11 charity that was supposed to help families who lost loved one in the catastrophe.
Thomas Scalgione and Mark Niemczyk never gave any of the more than $50,000 in proceeds to the victims' families or to charities as promised, they told the court.

The Era of Obama Is Driving the repugican cabal Extinct as repugican Identification Plunges

If it seems like you are watching the repugican cabal vanish before your eyes, it’s because you are. According Gallup, repugican cabal identification has fallen to a 25 year low of 25%.
Gallup’s latest party identification poll found that Democratic identification has remained stable. Democratic identification has gone from 36% in 2008 to 31% today, but repugican identification has dropped in each of the last three years, until it has hit its lowest point in the 25 year history of the poll. The repugican identification reached a peak of 34% during 2004, but eroded during the shrub’s second term. By the time the shrub left office, repugican identification was down to 28%.
All of those disappointed repugicans have left the repugican cabal and deemed themselves Independents. Forty percent of those polled now identify as Independents. Of course, some of the repugicans who have departed the repugican cabal aren’t really Independent. They still vote repugican, but now they do it as an Independent. This is why Independents voting for repugican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney isn’t a surprise. It is also why the media needs to change their thinking about Independents. Independent voters are no longer neutrals, but they are more likely disaffected repugicans who have left their cabal.
The repugican decision to obstruct Obama at all costs has led to their own demise. When the repugicans became the cabal of no, they lost much of the country. The Obama era could have been one of bipartisan compromise and achievement, but repugicans rejected the validity of this president and his presidency from day one. The decision not to evolve with the country has left them taking unpopular position after unpopular position just so that they can say no to Obama.
The overall tone of the country’s political identification is decidedly more left. Contrary to what repugicans like to claim, America is not a wingnut country. For the third straight year, the nation has identified more with Democrats than repugicans. When Independents were included in the partisan leanings question, Democrats maintained their six point advantage from last year, and led repugicans 47%-41%.
Not only is the repugican cabal facing extinction, but the country itself continues to move left. The nation is leaving the repugican cabal behind, and as the repugican cabal has gotten smaller, the lunatic fringe has taken control. The only thing saving the repugican cabal from total irrelevance at the federal level is their control of the House of Representatives. Of course that House of Representatives is the least popular Congress in history, which speaks volumes about the condition of the repugican cabal.
America is moving on without the repugican cabal. The United States truly has become no country for the old white wingnut men who are the majority constituency of the repugican cabal, as President Obama is leading a new era in American politics.

The repugicans: Getting Dumber by the Day

Objective proof: repugicans are getting stupider

They really are getting dumber:
In 2009, 54% of repugicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of repugicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.
Looking at the results another way, in 2009, 39 percent of repugicans thought humans existed in their present form in the past (i.e. "Garden of Eden"). In 2013, that number is 48 percent.
So three years ago, wingnuts looked around at each other and said, "we're kinda stupid, but not stupid enough. Let's work on that!" Mission accomplished.

Leaked Memo Shows repugicans Being Coached on How to be Compassionate to the Unemployed

House repugican leaders are having to coach the entire repugican cabal conference how to sound empathetic to the unemployed.…
Congressional Dedication Of The Bust Of Winston Churchill 
The repugican whisperer Robert Costa has moved to the Washington Post, where he revealed that House repugican leaders are having to coach the entire repugican cabal conference how to sound empathetic to the unemployed. The memo explains to what can only be robots that being unemployed is a “personal crisis”.
Costa wrote:
House repugican leaders sent a memo this week to the entire repugicancabal conference with talking points designed to help rank-and-file repugicans show compassion for the unemployed and explain the repugican position on unemployment benefits. In the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, House repugicans are urged to be empathetic toward the unemployed and understand how unemployment is a “personal crisis” for individuals and families. The memo also asks repugicans to reiterate that the House will give “proper consideration” to an extension of long-term insurance as long as Democrats are willing to support spending or regulatory reforms.
The repugicans are told to respond that they will consider extending unemployment benefits if Democrats can be fiscally responsible (a hurdle that repugicans have failed to meet when they are in charge- see Medicare Part D, the renewal of long term unemployment benefits under every other President but this one, etc). The repugicans are then supposed to pivot to the issue of how they are working hard to create jobs.
This would be awkward if the press were ever to ask exactly how repugicans are working on creating jobs, since their standard answer of Keystone XL is actually not a jobs plan at all.
The real problem here is that repugicans have become caricatures of their extremes. These are people so absurdly out of touch with real life and with humanity that they have to be coached on how to respond to human crises like unemployment.
It was obvious yesterday that these same talking points made their way to Senate repugicans, though some were more amenable to them than others. The general gist of yesterday was, “We are open to helping, it’s just that you must pay first.” The repugicans love to play scolding daddy from their dubious moral perch after years of absolute fiscal recklessness. Luckily for them, the press rarely reminds them of their fiscal record.
It’s not helping repugicans’ image that Senator Rand Paul is running around trying to sell his 2016 “shame them and they will find a job” plan, which relies on the ideas that if we just stop helping people, they’ll magically get a job and also if we give tax breaks to corporations, then jobs will appear.
No one ever asks repugicans how we have money to give corporations tax breaks and why this kind of welfare is okay, but helping our neighbors through tough times is not okay. If a corporation can’t be successful on its own, if they can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps during tough times, then their failure is due to their own inherent unworthiness (applying the standards repugicans use on people to corporations) and thus they do not deserve a tax break/welfare/state subsidy. If we stop giving them subsidies, they will find a way to become profitable or die.
It’s time for repugicans to get out of the fictional world Ayn Rand presented in a novel we all read in 5th grade that has absolutely no bearing on reality.
Yes, being unemployed is a personal crisis. Perhaps repugicans should try it courtesy of the voters, in order for them to develop the empathy skills expected among adult humans.

Boehner Admits That He Won’t Lift a Finger to Help Unemployed Americans

Image: John Boehner
On Tuesday, after the Senate passed a bill to extend unemployment insurance to the long-term unemployed, and President Obama held a press conference requesting the repugican cabal-led House to also pass it, Speaker of the House John Boehner (r-OH) released the following statement:

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (r-OH) released the following statement after the Senate vote on the extension of “emergency” unemployment insurance.
“Far too many Americans are still unemployed in President Obama’s economy. For each of them, it’s a personal crisis that we cannot overlook. Getting these people back on their feet starts with a strong safety net – six months of unemployment benefits – that we continue to have in this country. But the ultimate solution to joblessness is more jobs.
“That’s why the House has passed bill after bill that, taken together, would create a better environment for economic growth, investment, and new hiring in America. Dozens of bills are awaiting action in the Senate that would provide job skills training for the unemployed, ease job-destroying burdens on small businesses, promote innovation and education, create energy and infrastructure jobs, and get rid of the president’s health care law that is making it harder to hire workers in this country. To help Americans find new jobs, the president should call on the Senate to act on them.
“One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I’ll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America’s unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job.”
NOTE:  The recently-expired “Emergency Unemployment Compensation” program is put in place only in the worst economic conditions and is designed to be temporary. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the recent program, which went into place as we entered a recession in 2008, was in place longer (66 months), was extended more times (12), aided more people (24 million), cost more ($265 billion), and added more to the debt ($210 billion) than any previous program. The expiration of this temporary program does not take away the vital safety net that provides all eligible unemployed workers 26 weeks of benefits.  The unemployment rate is lower today than it was when emergency benefits were allowed to expire following the recession of the early 1980s.
First off, how about the brass cojones on Boehner to put the word emergency in quotes at the beginning of the press release. For quite a few Americans, this is an emergency. They have had their only source of income unceremoniously cutoff and Boehner and his staff feel that it is best to trivialize it. One can actually imagine Boehner doing air quotes while reading it.
However, what this statement really says is that Boehner is not going to bring this bill up for a vote. To cover himself, he points out that he wants to provide the promise of more jobs to those who are unemployed. Therefore, he wants any extension of UI benefits to be tied to repugican cabal-led bills that are supposed to spur the economy and create jobs. Except, the reality is that the so-called House repugican cabal jobs bill is anything but. It is just an effort to get regulations cut for businesses and tax cuts for the wealthy. In other words, pure and simple trickle-down economics.
Boehner knows that the President and Democrats won’t go for this, no matter how many times the Speaker calls it a ‘jobs’ bill. The other thing that Boehner may want to trade for is the Keystone XL pipeline, which repugicans have constantly touted as both a job creator and energy producer for the country. However, the fact is that the pipeline won’t create a real net benefit in American jobs and will do nothing for improving energy needs and independence for the country. However, what it will do is give the Koch Bros. a profit of $100 billion over time if it is approved.
With most of the country dealing with bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snow, it seems especially cruel to try to extort massive profits for the rich in order to allow the less fortunate to survive. Hopefully, the amount of negative reaction to the House repugican cabal refusing to act on this will force Boehner to cave. But for now, it is apparent that the repugicans are going off of a strategy of being cruel to the poor, especially when you combine this inaction with the recent vote to cut SNAP benefits and repugican cabal-led states refusing to expand Medicaid.

Delusional Hypocrite

US marks 4 straight years of slowing health costs

Even as his health care law divided the nation, President Barack Obama's first term saw historically low growth in health costs, government experts said in a new report Monday. The White House called it vindication of the president's health care policies, but it's too early to say if the four-year trend that continued through 2012 is a lasting turnaround that Obama can claim as part of his legacy.
A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. A crucial weekend for the troubled website that is the backbone of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul appears to be off to a shaky start, as the U.S. government took the HealthCare.gov site offline for an unusually long maintenance period into Saturday morning. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH POLITICS)For the second year in a row, the U.S. economy grew faster in 2012 than did national health care spending, according to nonpartisan economic experts at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
That's an important statistic. In most years, health care spending grows more rapidly than the economy, like bills that rise faster than your paycheck. That cost pressure steadily undermines employer insurance as well as government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. But the pattern slowed starting in 2009, and then appears to have reversed ever so slightly and tenuously.
"Have we turned the corner in a sustainable way? That's still an open question," said economist Robert Reischauer, who serves as a public trustee overseeing Medicare and Social Security financing. "But I am more optimistic than I have ever been that fundamental changes are under way." For example, even though baby boomers are joining Medicare in record numbers, that program's costs are basically stable when measured on a per-patient basis, Reischauer noted.
Nonetheless, America still spends a whole lot. Monday's report found that the nation's health care tab reached $2.8 trillion in 2012, the latest year available. Health care accounted for 17.2 percent of the economy, down from 17.3 percent in 2011.
Total spending averaged $8,915 for every man, woman and child, well above the level in other advanced economies. But more spending doesn't equate to better health. By many health measures, other countries are ahead.
Also, the per-capita dollar amount doesn't tell the full story. In any given year, most of the spending goes for the sickest patients, a small fraction of the population.
The report said Obama's health care law had only had a "minimal impact" on overall spending. It contributed less than 0.1 percent to rising costs from 2010-2012, the authors said. That will change this year when the law's big coverage expansion for the uninsured is expected to increase U.S. health spending by about 6 percent.
Whether that starts a return to the old pattern of faster growth remains to be seen. The White House does not believe that will happen.
"There will be a temporary, one-year increase as those folks are brought into the system, but there is very reason to believe that the trend of slowing growth rates per beneficiary will continue into the future," said Jason Furman, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers.
"It's increasingly clear as each year of data comes out and the slowdown persists that there is also something structural going on, and the Affordable Care Act is contributing," he added.
The report said it's too early to discern where things might be headed next. In the past, health care spending has stabilized two to three years after an economic recession, only to resume its upward track as consumers regain confidence. More evidence is needed before concluding that there's been a structural break in the relationship between the health sector and the overall economy, the authors said in an article published in the journal Health Affairs.
Below the topline figures, spending grew faster in some areas and more slowly in others, making it more difficult to piece the puzzle together.
Spending for hospital care and doctors' services grew more rapidly.
So did out-of-pocket spending by individuals. That reflects the trend of employers increasing annual deductibles and copayments to shift a greater share of medical costs directly on to employees and their families.
Spending on prescription drugs barely increased, reflecting an unusual circumstance in which patent protection expired for major drugs like Lipitor, Plavix and Singulair. Generic drugs accounted for an ever-increasing share of prescriptions.
Medicare spending grew more slowly, reflecting a one-time cut in payments to nursing homes and some of the spending reductions in Obama's health care law. Spending per Medicare recipient grew by 0.7 percent in 2012, down from 2.5 percent in 2011.
Spending for private insurance also grew more slowly, reflecting the shift to high-deductible plans that offer lower premiums.
Part of the good news for 2012 reflected a statistical revision that the Commerce Department adopted last year, resulting in a more robust estimate of Gross Domestic Product. Without that change, health care spending would have approached 18 percent of the economy. The report's authors said that they updated statistics going back to the 1960s to account for the new GDP methodology.
No matter which party controls the White House, it would be good for the country to get health care costs under control, said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director and an adviser to Republicans. He's not convinced.
"In the 1990s we had four straight years of very low growth, and then it disappeared," said Holtz-Eakin.
"I think the jury is still out on where we end up," he added. "But it's a very interesting set of data, and one that everybody is staring at."

How you may have lost $9,000 — without even knowing it

The U.S. economy might finally bounce back for good in 2014, springboarding the nation out of five years of stagnation. So if you feel like we're still in a recession, are you imagining things?Not at all. In fact, some economists think we’re in a kind of faux recovery that masks deep harm still being done to the economic prospects of millions of Americans. Brad DeLong, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a government policymaker during the Clinton administration, wrote recently that, “unless something returns the U.S. to its pre-2008 growth trajectory, future economic historians will not regard the Great Depression as the worst business-cycle disaster of the industrial age. It is we who are living in their worst case.”
Worse than the Depression? By most measures, the economy has been weak since 2008, but not nearly as ruinous as in the 1930s. But DeLong has crunched some numbers in a way that helps explain why many people still feel they’re falling behind, even with an economy that has supposedly been growing every year since 2010.
GDP began to decline in 2008, and it wasn’t until 2010 that it reclaimed the 2008 peak. Adjusted for inflation, GDP peaked in 2007 and didn’t reach that level again until 2011. DeLong goes one step further, adjusting GDP for both inflation and population growth, to capture the state of the economy most people actually feel. By that measure, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth per capita won’t reach the 2007 peak until sometime in 2014.
A lower output
The growth in real economic output per person has averaged about 2% per year for the past century. So if growth has been essentially zero for the past seven years, says DeLong, output is 14% lower than it would have been had the economy been growing at normal rates.
Such statements tend to leave ordinary people wondering, “So what?” But DeLong has addressed the so-what question. That output gap, he says, amounts to about $9,000 per person each year in terms of money not spent on goods and services that could have made people’s lives better. That’s roughly equal to a year’s worth of mortgage payments on a $200,000 home. For a family of four, the lost output adds up to about $36,000 per year — the equivalent of a fully loaded Ford Fusion sedan. And the per capita output gap is likely to get even bigger if growth continues on the current trendline.
That doesn’t mean everybody would have automatically become wealthier if not for the 2008 financial meltdown and corresponding recession. Median incomes had been stagnant for nearly a decade by the time the recession hit, on account of factors such as globalization and the digital revolution. The divide between haves and have-nots had been widening, too, with highly skilled technocrats generally prospering and lower-skilled workers in fading industries falling behind, perhaps never to catch up.
Even if that $9,000 in per capita output hadn’t disappeared, it wouldn’t have been divided evenly among all Americans. The wealthy probably would have captured more of it, the poor less. And it’s always tricky accounting for what didn’t happen, since it’s impossible to know what else might have occurred to make things better or worse.
But DeLong’s calculations help explain the sense of backsliding many Americans seem to feel. In 2007, during the prior peak for real GDP, the Conference Board’s consumer-confidence index was around 91. Today, with the total level of real GDP higher, it’s at 78. Back then, 27% of poll respondents told Gallup they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States; in the latest poll, only 20% felt this way.
Still, it could be worse. A recent study by two prominent Harvard economists, Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, found financial crises such as the one that erupted in 2008 usually produce worse downturns than what we’ve experienced. Rogoff and Reinhart are controversial because of some mathematical errors in a previous study of debt-ridden nations, but they are still considered premier chroniclers of finanicial panics. And on average, they find, such panics cut per-capita real GDP by 9%, requiring 6.7 years for the economy to recover. The latest crisis, by their account, caused only a 5% decline in GDP, followed by a six-year recovery.
So take heart: Had the 2008 crisis been a more like a “normal” one, your family might have lost a Mercedes rather than a Ford.

Economic Health

Has Greece Turned a Corner?
Economic Health: Has Greece Turned a Corner?
Greece, which took over the European Council presidency on Jan. 1, claims it is returning to economic health and is even expecting modest growth this year. But a closer look raises doubts.

Would-be bank robber unsuccessful as teller couldn't read his handwritten note

A 29-year-old man was arrested on Monday morning after he tried to rob a bank with a note the teller couldn't read. Jamal Garrett, of Antioch, California was arrested across the street from the Wells Fargo Bank, where police said the man demanded money at about 9:45am.
The attempt was unsuccessful, authorities said, in part because bank employees did not immediately know they were being robbed. The man reportedly walked into the bank and silently produced a note, which the teller couldn't read because of the bad handwriting, Sgt. Tara Nissen said.
The woman went to get her manager to help her decipher the message, during which time the suspect left through a back door. According to Nissen, the bank teller and manager decoded the note together and determined the man had tried to rob them. The pair called Antioch police, who scanned the area in search of the suspect.
Officers found the man after a Somersville Towne Center employee called to report an unwanted guest, Nissen said. The man matched the description of the attempted robbery suspect, and was later identified by witnesses at the bank. Garrett was booked into County Jail in Martinez on attempted robbery charges, as well as for an outstanding warrant for parole violations.

5 Tech Products That Will Be Dead in 5 Years

With the speed of innovation in the tech industry, we can't know every piece of technology that will fill our everyday lives in five years, but we can predict what won't last. As smartphones begin to render low-end cameras obsolete and Netflix continues to upend the DVD and Blu-ray market, it's clear the technology landscape will look dramatically different in the near future.

Here are five tech products that will go the way of the dodo in the next half-decade.



1775: America Builds Its First Submarine

Even before there was a United States, the American people were innovators in military technology. David Bushnell, a Connecticut supporter of the rebellion against British rule, designed and built the roughly spherical ship Turtle in 1775. It was the first submarine in naval history to see combat.
Bushnell’s ship was a technological wonder of its time. It was the first submarine to use water as ballast. The pilot could control water flow into the bilges with a foot pedal and then make finer adjustments to the depth level with a vertical screw. A forward-mounted screw pulled the submarine through the water.
The pilot had enough air to keep breathing for half an hour. But he also had a snorkel that gave him access to fresh air when surfaced. It closed automatically when the vessel submerged.
The Turtle was equipped with a time bomb which could be detonated underwater—again, an invention that Bushnell devised. His plan was that the pilot of the submarine would drive a screw into the wooden hull of an enemy ship. The bomb would be attached to the screw. The pilot could then escape before the bomb detonated.
After Bushnell completed the Turtle in the fall of 1775, he planned to use it to break the British blockade of Boston. But the British abandoned Boston in March of 1776, so Bushnell decided to put his invention to work against Royal Navy vessels in New York harbor. General George Washington took a keen interest in the project and assigned Sgt. Ezra Lee to pilot the Turtle.
On the night of Sept. 6, 1776, an American ship towed the Turtle out into the harbor. Lee submerged the Turtle and proceeded to HMS Eagle, the British flagship. Lee tried to attach the bomb, but it would not connect to the hull of the Eagle. Eventually, he cut it loose. The bomb floated away and detonated in a huge but harmless explosion.
Bushnell tried two other times to use the Turtle, but these were also unsuccessful. On October 6, the British sank the American ship carrying the Turtle and the submarine never saw action again. The project was a failure, but it inspired the imaginations of military leaders. Reflecting on the project in 1785, Washington wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson that “I then thought, and still think, that it was an effort of genius.”
Bonus item: the first submarine to sink another vessel in combat was the Hunley, a submarine of the Confederate Navy.

Disaster Centennial

The Disturbing Relevance of World War I
by Klaus Wiegrefe Disaster Centennial: The Disturbing Relevance of World War I
It has now been 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, but the European catastrophe remains relevant today. As the Continent looks back this year, old wounds could once again be rubbed raw.

Snapshots Of Life Aboard Hospital Trains In WWI

Hospital trains during World War I enabled medical personnel to tend to ill and injured servicemen on their way to hospital. Though conditions were more crowded and sometimes less hygienic on the trains than in brick-and-mortar hospitals, nurses and doctors could provide vital treatment to soldiers, no doubt saving countless lives.

Here are ten snapshots of life aboard hospital trains in WWI.

Norwegian Brides And Their Stunning Headgear 1870-1920

A collection from 1870 to 1920 showing some photos of Norwegian brides. The pictures are to be found in the Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo. Subtlety was neither aimed for nor achieved with these bonny bonnets.

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.. and she asks: What are your 2014 resolutions? 

Geyser In Subzero Temperature In Iceland

A geyser in Iceland during record cold looks like liquid nitrogen.


People in Canada have reported large booming sounds that didn't lead to any explosives. What they are hearing are "frostquakes," which is kind of like an earthquake, but produced by the cold weather.
Known to experts as cryoseisms, frostquakes happen when moisture that has seeped into the ground freezes very quickly. It expands and builds up pressure, causing the frozen soil or rock near the surface to crack, emitting a sound that people have likened to a sonic boom.

They're not very common because they require such a rapid change in temperature. In southern Ontario, a drop from 5C (41F) to about -20C (-4F) was preceded by an ice storm, which ensured there was a lot of moisture in the ground that became ice.

That doesn't happen every year, says Geoff Coulson of Environment Canada, who says the term "frostquake" is new to him. It's like a very weak earthquake and the house might shake but there is hardly ever significant damage, he says, and it will only be felt or heard within a kilometre (0.6 miles) at most.
Where I live, we had rain and then snow with rapidly-falling temperatures (below zero now), but if I heard a big boom, I would just assume it's the nearby railroad. Read more about frostquakes at BBC News.

The Rock Of Guatapé

La Piedra Del Peñol, or the Rock of Guatapé, is a massive rock located in the town and municipality of Guatapé, in Antioquia, Colombia. The 10 million-ton rock rises 200 meters from the surrounding plain, visible from miles around the countryside.

The top of the Rock of Guatapé consists of a small fenced in area with stalls for buying souvenirs, and a viewing platform. Food vendors have laid out outdoor tables where you can enjoy snacks with a bottle of beer taking in the outstanding vista that stretch to the horizon in every direction.

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Prehistoric Shark Nursery Found at Illinois Nuke Plant

by Jennifer Viegas
This long-snouted shark called Bandringa was one of the earliest close relatives of all modern sharks.
The earliest shark nursery containing fossils of both young sharks and eggs has been found at the site of a nuclear power plant in northeastern Illinois.
The nursery, once located at what is now Mazon Creek at the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station site, dates to 310 million years ago, according to a paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. It used to be teeming with a long-snouted shark called Bandringa, which was one of the earliest close relatives of all modern sharks.
"At least a dozen juvenile Bandringa shark fossils -- and probably more -- have been recovered from the site," University of Michigan paleontologist Lauren Sallan, who co-authored the paper with Michael Coates, told Discovery News.
The ocean is a strange and scary place. And few ocean animals are scarier than sharks!
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Some of the fossils are in a remarkable state of preservation.
"We even have soft body tissue from the juvenile sharks," Sallan said, adding that the tissue retains pigment that, in the future, could reveal the precise coloration of the sharks. DNA could probably not be extracted from it, though.
The paleontologists studied the fossils, along with those of 12 adult Bandringas. This shark was previously classified into two species, but the researchers determined that all of the fossils belonged to just one species. The scientists also gained a more complete picture of the extinct shark's anatomy and distinctive features.
"Bandringa had a head entirely covered in large spines, a long paddle-like rostrum (snout) with electroreceptors, and one of the earliest jaws capable of protruding and suction feeding," Sallan said.
It resembled present-day sawfish and paddlefish. The huge snout took up half of its body length. The electroreceptors on the snout helped the sharks to locate prey, which consisted of small crustaceans and other marine life.
Juveniles were 4 to 6 inches long. They grew into adults of up to 10 feet long.

Missing monkey wins zoo's beauty contest

A missing monkey has won a beauty contest at the Takasakiyama Natural Zoo monkey park in Oita, Japan. In a poll among park visitors  a monkey named Bentsu collected 518 of the 2,637 votes cast.
At an estimated 35 years of age, Bentsu is more than 100 years old in human terms, making him the oldest among the 16 contestants. A park official said the victorious monkey has been missing since Dec. 16. “It's too bad he's missing, but we want people to recognize him as a manly monkey,” the official said.
The monkeys taking part in the contest were from two troops, groups B and C, of wild monkeys that feed at Takasakiyama Natural Zoo, located in a forested area at the foot of Mt. Takasaki. More than 1,000 monkeys live there. Bentsu, the boss of Group C, scored an overwhelming victory with a margin of 187 votes over second-place finisher Zorome, who is ranked No. 2 in Group C.
Bentsu previously went missing in September but returned to his leadership position in Group C after being discovered in a residential area of the city. He disappeared again in mid-December. The park conducted its third search for the monkey on Saturday. The results of the contest were released on Friday.

Diamond from £18,000 wedding ring recovered after being swallowed by trainee police dog

A woman had the diamond from her £18,000 wedding ring eaten by a trainee police dog, but recovered it two days later. Jack chewed up Angie Collins's wedding ring and swallowed the diamond. It took Mrs Collins, who looks after police puppies being trained, two days of waiting and sieving Jack's faeces before the diamond appeared. Mrs Collins, 51, from Exmouth in Devon, said: "I thought it was futile. But the sun was shining, and there it was." Mrs Collins had left her ring on a side table while she manicured her nails. "It must have winked at him," she said. "I went to the kitchen, came back and it was gone."
The ring was a mangled mess on the floor but the diamond was nowhere to be found, despite a frantic search by Mrs Collins and husband Graham. "My husband and I emptied the entire room bit by bit which took hours. I could only conclude that Jack had eaten it," she said. "The vet said because a dog's stomach is so intricate it was unlikely I would get it back."
But she was undeterred. "As a dog walker you always keep your pet's 'poop' in a bag so I took it home and sprayed it with the hose pipe and sieved it every single day - four times a day at least, Mrs Collins said. She said she found the ring in the third lot of dog mess she looked through. "I had almost given up, so it was the last shot," said Mrs Collins who has been walking police dogs for 18 years.

Blind dog back home after being rescued from bay by police boat

A blind dog named Frankie is back with his family after he was found swimming in Biscayne Bay, Miami. A Marine Patrol officer rescued him on Monday morning. Johanne Poirier spotted the little dog swimming from her home in the Venetian Islands. She and her husband tried to coax him onto shore.

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