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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 31, 2014

The Daily Drift

Attitude IS everything ...

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Today is - Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

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Today in History

1606 Guy Fawkes is hanged, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up Parliament.
1620 Virginia colony leaders write to the Virginia Company in England, asking for more orphaned apprentices for employment.
1788 The Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart dies.
1835 A man with two pistols misfires at President Andrew Jackson at the White House.
1865 House of Representatives approves a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.
1911 The German Reichstag exempts royal families from tax obligations.
1915 Germans use poison gas on the Russians at Bolimov.
1915 German U-boats sink two British steamers in the English Channel.
1916 President Woodrow Wilson refuses the compromise on Lusitania reparations.
1917 Germany resumes unlimited sub warfare, warning that all neutral ships that are in the war zone will be attacked.
1935 The Soviet premier tells Japan to get out of Manchuria.
1943 The Battle of Stalingrad ends as small groups of German soldiers of the Sixth Army surrender to the victorious Red Army forces.
1944 U.S. troops under Vice Adm. Spruance land on Kwajalien atoll in the Marshall Islands.
1950 Paris protests the Soviet recognition of Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
1966 U.S. planes resume bombing of North Vietnam after a 37-day pause.
1968 In Vietnam, the Tet Offensive begins as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers attack strategic and civilian locations throughout South Vietnam.
1976 Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda vs. Arizona is stabbed to death.
1981 Lech Walesa announces an accord in Poland, giving Saturdays off to laborers.

Non Sequitur


Were you charged $9.84?

Be on the lookout for a recent $9.84 charge on your debit or credit card. It might be part of a massive, worldwide scam.

Thieves are using stolen payment cards to make small charges that could easily go unnoticed. The charges are attributed to generic-looking websites such as EETsac.com, CEWcs.com and EduAcc.in, which claim to offer customer support services.

The Better Business Bureau, a consumer protection group, put out a national alert about the scam on Monday. The organization urged people to closely monitor past and current credit card statements and to call the actual card-issuing banks to resolve the issues.

It's not yet clear how widespread the fraud might be or how and when the affected credit card numbers were stolen. The Better Business Bureau and the nation's two major credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, weren't immediately able to provide numbers.

The scam was first uncovered by cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs, who found that it's part of a network of schemes stretching from Cyprus and India to the United Kingdom. He traced the operation to two men from Cyprus and a Malta-based bank that was processing the debit and credit card payments.

Some of the companies behind the fraudulent charges appear to be related, because they list phone numbers that are identical except for the last few digits.

When a call was placed to those numbers, an operator explained that the $9.84 charge was for a "money-making online program" that came with access to videos and tutorials on how to work from home.

"If they really don't like online service, we will give them the full refund," the operator assured.

Did you know ...

That a high-ranked DEA agent quits job to join legal marijuana industry

About Pete Seeger's 60's TV show

That gun access = greater risk for murder & suicide

And happy 50th anniversary to Dr. Strangelove!  PS - it's almost all true!

Bill Maher Kicks Sand In the Face of Every Pretend Tough Guy repugican Bully

Bill Maher took down every pretend repugican bully by scathingly tearing them open to expose the cowardly frauds that they really are.
Maher said,
And yet somehow wingnuts — who boast by far the bigger list of non-serving chickenhawks — see themselves as the tough guys. But it’s rarely a real manliness, it’s more the pathetic bluster of a blogger in his bathrobe demanding that Obama “man up and bomb Iran!” while his mother fixes his macaroni and cheese.
None of this is going to get better until Democrats stop letting repugicans claim they’ve got the big balls, just because. For one, I never quite got how my life would be better with increased ball size. If you need to stick your balls in to get things going, you’re doing it wrong! And two, Democrats have to start being the party that redefines toughness as restraint. And stop responding to repugican taunts that have goaded Michael Dukakis into a tank, John Kerry into a duck hunting outfit, and Hillary Clinton into Iraq.

Because it’s not really masculinity wingnuts love, anyway — it’s bullying. Somehow we’ve gone from Teddy Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” to Chris Christie’s “speak loudly and be a big dick”.
Faux News’s manly He-Man Brit Hume said liberals don’t get Christie, because he’s a, quote, “old fashioned masculine muscular guy”. Or maybe four muscular guys in a garbage truck.
But bullying isn’t a masculine virtue; standing up to bullies is. Ignoring society’s least-abled people is not masculine; taking care of them is. But to macho people like Lush Dimbulb, who said Obama not letting his son play football was “irresponsible”, or Glenn Beck — another fountain of testosterone — who called on Obama to “stop being a chick” about football, this is what it always comes down to: Obama is a pussy like all Democrats are pussies.
It’s all part of their narrative that “we will keep you safe, cuz we’re the real men who aren’t afraid to send your kids off to die in wars of choice. And the Democrats are a bunch of nancy-boys who think of war as some sort of last resort. They believe in engagement, and other pansy concessions that could lead to dialogue, or even worse, peace.”
The former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, published his memoirs this month, and wrote something that seemed to be absolutely devastating about Obama, that he wasn’t enthusiastic about our war in Afghanistan, and that for him, it was all about getting out. That’s bad?!? Gates said the shrub was a good President because he “had no second thoughts about Iraq”. Right. Because to have second thoughts, you first have to have first thoughts!
Maher pointed out what is an obvious truth to anyone who has spent more than six seconds on the Internet. repugicans love tough talk. If you are a repugican candidate who wants to make the base swoon, all that is required is some tough talk about how weak Democrats are. This tough talk is not only essential to the repugican identity, but can also lead to wars of choice like Iraq, when the tough talkers try to translate their egos into real life policy.
The reality is that the conservative mind is one that is riddled with paranoia and fear. The repugicans fear everything. They think the government is out to get them. They live in a perpetual state of paranoia, because they think Barack Obama is really after their liberties and freedoms. The repugicans are afraid of the future, which is why they cling so tightly to the past. The repugican fear of change is why the good old days were always better.
Usually, the repugicans who scream the loudest are also the biggest cowards. The repugican bullies are always projecting their own fear on to others. They’re afraid, so they want to scare you too. They hurl insults because they are afraid. The tough guy image is what they wish they were, not who they really are.
Toughness isn’t about starting a war. It’s about ending it. It doesn’t take any toughness to cut off food stamps and unemployment benefits. These are the actions of bullies who are preying on the vulnerable. Real toughness is deciding to take a 50/50 chance on getting Osama Bin Laden. Real toughness is passing a healthcare reform bill, and still believing in it even when the criticism is flying.
Many repugicans pretend to be tough, but like Chris Christie they hide and blame others in a time of crisis. Bill Maher didn’t just call out repugican bullies. He kicked sand in their faces, and exposed them as the frauds that they really are.

Tom Perkins Is Wrong – Germany’s 1 Percent Were Hitler’s Allies, Not his Victims

Venture capitalist Tom Perkins would have you believe America's 1 percent are yesterday's Jews but nothing could be further from the truth…
Before he came to power: Hitler and Industrialist Fritz Thyssen, right
Before he came to power: Hitler and Industrialist Fritz Thyssen, right
Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins, not to be confused with the equally befuddled, dishonest, and hyperbolic religio-wingnut figure, compared, in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, America’s 1 percent to the Jews of Nazi Germany:
Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’
In a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, when the unemployed are denied unemployment benefits and the sick are denied medical care and everyone is denied a job, Perkins wrote of “a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” He claimed, “In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization.”
Perkins concluded that, “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
From this, you would expect the 1 percent to be thrown into concentration camps almost immediately. But nothing could be further from the truth, and the parallels with Nazi thinking are nonexistent. Perkins, not to put too fine a point on it, lied through his teeth.
Actually, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party were eager to climb into bed with the German 1 percent, other than rich Jews, of course, whose money could simply be confiscated later. In fact, it has been argued that without support from rich German industrialists, Hitler would never have risen to power in 1933. And not only did Hitler have financial supporters in Germany but in the United States.
Hitler’s confident and friend Ernst Hanfstaengl recalled later how in the early days of the Nazi movement, he brought Hitler into contact with “national-minded wealthy business men” and “national-minded Bavarian industrialists.” He notes also that Hitler was involved with the Bruckmanns, whom he described as “big publishers in Munich” and that Elsa Bruckmann “made something of a protégé of Hitler.” The Bechstein family, the piano makers, also took an interest in Hitler. The Party was also subsidized by the Germany army in Bavaria, which was looking for allies against the communists.
Another close acquaintance of Hitler, his photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, wrote that when Hitler left Landsberg prison he had not even “a farthing” in his pocket but that one of his “most ardent supporters, a wealthy member of famous aristocratic family and the wife of a highly respected businessman, arranged a personal office for him and furnished it with furniture of her own…”
Hitler’s press chief, Otto Dietrich, wrote in his memoirs that “Hitler addressed captains of industry for the first time in 1926 in my home town of Essen.” By the end of the 1920s, Hitler was not only receiving the support of German monarchists and the German aristocracy (“these were people from the right sort of society” as Hanfstaengl related – the 1 percent in other words), but started receiving, in Hanfstaengl’s words, “quite large subsidies” from German industrialists in the Ruhr like Fritz Thyssen and Emil Kirdorf. Fritz Thyssen later claimed in his memoirs that he “donated 100,000 gold marks to the NSDAP in October 1923.”
Accoding to Dietrich, Hitler “was a frequent guest at his [Kirdorf's] house in Mülheim-Saarn near Duisberg.” Hitler’s secretary Christa Schroeder, related in her memoirs an important incident related to Kirdorf:
He [Hitler] often spoke of the financial bonds in which the Party invested earlier, and were signed by him. Often somebody had to be found in the last moment to redeem them. He liked to quote this example:
I signed a Loan Note for the Party for 40,000 RM. Money I was expected had not been received, the Party coffers were empty and the redemption date on the note was coming nearer without any hope of my getting the money together. I was considering shooting myself, since there seemed no alternative. Four days before the redemption date I informed Frau Bruckmann of my unfortunate plight. She phoned Emil Kirdorf and sent me to see him. I told Kirdorf of my plans and won him over at once to the cause. He placed the money at my disposal and thus enabled me to liquidate the debt on time.
This is a story Hitler also related to Joseph Göbbels, who noted it in his diary on 15 November 1936.
From 1931 – and this is two years before Hitler came to power – 5 pfennigs out of every ton of coal sold by Rhine-Westfalen Coal Syndicate, went to the NSDAP. Wikipedia notes that Kirdorf “was personally awarded by Adolf Hitler the Order of the German Eagle, Nazi Germany‘s highest distinctions, on his 90th birthday in 1937, for his support to the Nazi Party in the late 1920s.”
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team notes that,
At a meeting of leading German industrialists with Hjalmar Schacht, Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, held on the 20 February 1933, IGF contributed 400,000 reichsmarks to the Nazi Party, the largest single amount in the total sum of 3 million reichsmarks raised at this meeting by German industrialists for the Nazi Party’s election campaign.
According to Antony C. Sutton, this money went into Hitler’s political “slush fund” and “It was this secret fund which financed the Nazi seizure of control in March 1933.*
Not all Nazis were so willing to deal with the wealthy. Hitler and Otto Straßer, for example, different how how to deal with these people when the Nazis came to power (Kirdorf left the Nazi Party in 1928 on account of Straßer but rejoined in 1934 after Straßer was killed on Hitler’s orders).
Thomas Friedrich relates that Straßer asked Hitler “what he would do with Krupp and similar companies in the event of his assuming power. Would everything remain unchanged in terms of ownership, profits and management?” “But of course,” Hitler is said to have replied. “Do you think I’m mad enough to destroy the economy?” Straßer was dismayed, writes Friedrich. “If Hitler was planning to retain the capitalist system, he could hardly speak of ‘socialism’…Hitler retorted that the term ‘socialism’ was intrinsically bad’ and repeated his view that companies could be nationalized only if they failed to act in the national interest. ‘As long as this does not happen, it would simply be a crime to destroy the national economy.’”
Before the 1932 elections, Hitler met with the Industrial Club at the Park Hotel in Düsseldorf and told them his economic policies were not a threat to them. Henry Ashby Turner writes that “From all indications, neither Hitler nor any other Nazis mounted any sustained follow-up from those who had been present at his Industry Club speech or otherwise to enlist them for their purposes.” Dietrich agrees, saying that the ice was broken but that contributions were “insignificant in amount.”
But what counts here is the efforts to which Hitler went to court, rather than, as Thomas Perkins claims, kill rich Germans.
Ashby-Turner claims that these rich industrialists were never a huge source of funding for the Nazi Party but whether they were or they weren’t, that they gave any money at to Hitler, and that he courted their support, and that after 1933 big business back Hitler to the hilt, paints a very different picture than that presented by Perkins, who would have us believe that the 1 percent should be equated with Germany’s Jews (the old anti-Semitic claim that the “Jews own everything”).
If anything, what emerges is a picture of Hitler and industrialists that reminds us of nothing so much as the repugican cabal’s relationship with the mainstream media and the tea party’s own relationship with big business. Hitler publicly condemned industrialists as Jewish interests just as the repugican cabal publicly condemns the mainstream media as leftist tools, but secretly relied on them, just as the repugican cabal relies on the mainstream media to spread wingnut propaganda and the tea party relies on Big Business to fund their supposed “grass roots” activities.
In no way can the 1 percent be compared to Hitler’s Jewish victims. They can, however, be compared to Hitler’s 1 percent, who saw in the Nazi leader an ally against the radical left, the same alliance of ultra-nationalist wingnut forces that exists today between the repugican cabal and America’s rich against the radical populist, and working-class left. One is reminded of Sarah Palin’s “blood libel” scandal, and Thomas Perkins should apologize to Hitler’s Jewish victims and to the American people.
* From Sutton: The I.G. Farben transfer slip dated February 27, 1933 is found on Nuremberg Military Tribunal document NI-391-395, the “Original transfer slip dated March 19, 1933 from Accumulatoren-Fabrik to Delbrück, Shickler Bank in Berlin, with instructions to pay 25,000 RM to the ‘Nationale Treuhand’ fund administered by Hjalmar Schacht and Rudolph Hess to elect Hitler in March 1933″ is found on Nuremberg Military Tribunal document NI-391-395, and “The transfer slip, dated March 2, 1933, from German General Eletric to Delbrück, Schickler Bank in Berlin, with instructions to pay 60,000 RM to the ‘Nationale Treuhand’ fund (administered by Hjalmar Schacht and Rudolph Hess) used to elect Hitler in March 1933 is found on Nuremberg Military Tribunal document No. 391-395.”

The repugicans Start a New Super PAC Intended to Make It Harder For You to Vote

The repugicans have created a new wingnut super PAC to support repugican secretaries of state that will pursue restrictive voter laws, purge voter rolls, and generally kill the democratic…

Obama Hating Conspiracy Theory Whack Job Dinesh D’Souza Indicted On Campaign Finance Charges

On Thursday, conservative political author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was indicted on fraud charges under campaign finance law. He is being charged with using straw donors to funnel money to a political candidate that is a close friend during the 2012 election. The candidate is widely believed to be Wendy Long, a repugican Senate candidate that ran a losing campaign against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY.)
Under federal campaign finance law, individual donors are only allowed to donate up to $2,500 to a candidates campaign. Federal prosecutors are stating that D’Souza donated a total of $20,000 to a candidate’s campaign. He had other people donate in their names and then reimbursed those people himself. Therefore, he was able to provide money to his fried who was running and make it seem like others were contributing to skirt campaign finance laws. He is charged with making illegal donations and making false statements.
D’Souza is known mostly for his conspiracy theories about President Obama, which have been presented in the form of a book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, and a film based on that book, 2016: Obama’s America. In both, he states that Barack Obama is carrying out the political view of his father and other Kenyan tribesmen as POTUS, and that it is all based around anti-colonialism and that he dismisses American exceptionialism. Essentially, Obama is in office to bring down the United States in order to help other countries rise up and take over their oppressors. D’Souza argues that Obama wants to make America a third-world country and suffer at the hands of other countries that it has dominated for so long.
Considering D’Souza’s work and background, it is inevitable that many wingnut mouthpieces would see a conspiracy at work here. In the end, the lunatic fringe seems to only deal with conspiracies anyway, and D’Souza made his name doing such, so it only makes sense.
You will get this from all of the wingnut defenders of D’Souza. All of the simplistic pundits that barter and deal in conspiracy theories and racist dog-whistles. People like Alex Jones, Lush Dimbulb, Glenn Brick, Laura Ingraham, Sean Handjob and the like will all claim that the Obama is acting like a dictator and trying to silence all of his critics by sicking his goons on them.
However, past all the bluster, the fact remains that D’Souza broke the law. It is pretty clear. Even his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has pretty much admitted that he did it and that it is all just a misunderstanding.
“Simply put, there was no ‘quid pro quo’ in this case, nor was there even any knowledge by the candidate that campaign finance rules may have been violated. Mr. D’Souza did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever. He and the candidate have been friends since their college days, and at worst, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza.”
See, it was all just so innocent. The candidate wasn’t aware that she was getting more money than she was allowed from one person, so there wasn’t any harm. D’Souza was just being a good friend and trying to help her out. Since he wasn’t asking for anything in return, there wasn’t any ill intent.
Except, there was. D’Souza knew that his friend needed more donations to run a better campaign. He had the money, but by law, wasn’t able to give it to her. So he setup a scheme knowing full well that it was illegal and that he’d face charges if caught. This wasn’t a friend innocently helping another friend out. This was one man knowingly breaking the law in order to give a politician more money. Simple as that. And no amount of bellyaching over Obama or liberals is going to change that.

Blackburn reflects on a ‘thriving economy’

by Steve Benen
Marsha Blackburn
Marsha Blackburn (r-Tenn.) decided to extend a caustic “welcome” to the president in advance of his visit to her home state.
“Welcome to Tennessee,” she said. “While you’re here take a look around because this is what a thriving economy looks like.
“Despite what your teleprompter may tell you, our success is not a result of your failed policies. It’s rooted in what’s always made our state and country great – hard work, ingenuity and fiscal responsibility.”
At this point, I’m starting to feel a little sorry for far-right lawmakers droning on with teleprompter jokes. After all these years, such cheap rhetoric tends to say far more about lazy lawmakers than the president.
And for the Tennessee repugican to complain about “failed policies” seems nearly as foolish, given the success the president had in rescuing the economy from the Great Recession he inherited.
But that’s not the interesting part. Rather, I was struck by Blackburn’s boast: if Obama wants to see “what a thriving economy looks like,” the president should look no further than the Volunteer State.
Is that true?
I checked the handy dandy chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that Tennessee’s unemployment rate is 8.1%, more than a full point higher than the national average. That doesn’t sound especially impressive.
But it gets worse. On a national level, Tennessee ranks 43rd out of 50 states when it comes to unemployment, with 50 being the worst. In fact, Tennessee is one of only a handful of states that saw its jobless rate go up, not down, over the last year. (repugicans control the state House, state Senate, and governor’s office, making it tough for repugican cabal officials to blame Democrats.)
The White House hasn’t said exactly why Obama will visit the Volunteer State this week, but it’s likely because he sees it as a state in need of an economic boost.
So here’s the follow-up question for Blackburn: does she know that Tennessee has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and unlike most states, it’s not improving? And if she does know that, why would she say the state economy is “thriving”?
Maybe someone could put the answer on a teleprompter?

Random Celebrity Photos


Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno

Worshipers had narrow escape after lightning struck Sikh temple

Worshipers had a lucky escape after a lightning strike blew a massive hole in a temple roof on Sunday. A group of elderly women were singing hymns when the roof caved in at the Ramgarhia Sikh Temple in Meynell Road, Leicester, at about 3pm.

The women were showered with debris and roof tiles in the main prayer hall. A whole section of the gable end of the building was destroyed, while timbers from the roof were thrown up to 40 yards away.
Kulwant Kaur Kalsi, 80, who is the oldest serving member of the temple, was hit by falling debris in the prayer hall. The 80-year-old said: “It was amazing that no-one was seriously hurt.
“One minute we were sitting there singing, then we heard the thunder and saw the lightning and the roof fell in. I was only hit by tiles but a woman was hit by some wood. She had cuts and bruises.”

Woman lucky to survive after jumping on to then falling between carriages of moving freight train

CCTV has emerged of a woman's dice with death at a train station in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. A woman jumped on to an open carriage of a freight train as it rolled through Springwood station. The woman survived despite slipping between carriages and having the train weighing thousands of tonnes pass over her. Two friends had been waiting for the last train home when a freight train appeared and rumbled through the station.
The pair watch the train and have a discussion before she does the unthinkable - she jumps onto an open carriage. From one angle you cannot tell whether she has landed safely. Her friend looked shocked as he paced the platform, not knowing if she survived. The reason is obvious when the train finishes passing through the station a minute later. The woman is lying motionless between the tracks, and her friend feared the worst.
Finally she moves, rolling over and getting back on her feet, and unbelievably she is alive, and walks over to the platform as another witness offers help. Bleeding and shaken, she is treated by paramedics and taken to hospital while police piece together what happened. They conclude by looking at two different angles of the CCTV that she jumped and fell between the carriages. She then managed to not only keep herself between the tracks but also underneath the bottom of the passing carriages.

Officers were stunned by what they describe as her stupidity, and the fact she survived. They could have charged her but chose not to. "This girl has probably learned a lesson the hard way, she could have been killed or seriously injured," Detective Inspector Mick Bostock said. "It's an offense for someone to touch a passing train or attempt to touch a passing train, so to actually try and jump on a moving goods train is very reckless and I wouldn't recommend it," Mick Bostock added. It is believed the woman needed stitches in her head and back, but was released from hospital the next day.

Man wearing 'weed' beanie hat arrested for possession of over six pounds of marijuana

A Missoula, Montana man was arrested on Friday afternoon during an Oregon State Police traffic stop in La Pine when a trooper discovered over 6 pounds of marijuana inside the man's car.
On January 24, 2014 at approximately 5:07pm, an OSP trooper stopped a 1999 Toyota Camry displaying Montana license plates for a lane change traffic violation.
As the trooper approached the car, he saw the driver and lone occupant, Ali Reza Tabibnejad, 32, from Missoula, Montana, was wearing a black beanie hat with the word "WEED" on it.
Subsequent investigation during the traffic stop led the trooper to discover and seize over 6 pounds of marijuana concealed in the vehicle. The estimated value of the seized marijuana is $15,000. Tabibnejad was arrested and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail for Unlawful Possession and Delivery of a Controlled Substance - Marijuana.

Psychedelics Don’t Harm Mental Health; They Improve It

mushrooms_psilocibinPsychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and LSD not only don’t cause mental health problems, they may actually improve mental health, say Norwegian researchers.
The study (here) pulled data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, observing 130,152 randomly-selected respondents from the adult population of the US. 13.4% of that group (21,967 individuals) reported lifetime use of psychedelics. Comparing this data to standardized screening measures for mental health, the researchers found that neither lifetime psychedelic use nor use of LSD in the past year were independent risk factors for mental health problems—and that, in fact, psychedelic users had lower rates of mental health issues.
Teri S. Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen, the Norwegian researchers, additionally noted that “psychedelic plants have been used for celebratory, religious or healing purposes for thousands of years” and that “psychedelics often elicit deeply personally and spiritually meaningful experiences and sustained beneficial effects… LSD and psilocybin are consistently ranked in expert assessments as causing less harm to both individual users and society than alcohol, tobacco, and most other common recreational drugs. Given that millions of doses of psychedelics have been consumed every year for over 40 years, well-documented case reports of long-term mental health problems following use of these substances are rare.”
The study also found absolutely no evidence that “flashbacks” afflict users of psychedelics, slaying another commonly-held superstition around psychedelic use.
The Norwegian study brings good news for the over 30 million Americans who have used psychedelics (compared to 100 million who have used marijuana). And while the media has been buzzing about Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s revelation that he “changed his mind on weed,” it may be time for psychedelics to get a similar PR rehabilitation.
While psychedelics still conjure images of 1960s-era bad trips like Art Linkletter’s daughter jumping out of a window on acid (an overinflated myth, says Snopes), they have undergone significant research and slow progress towards clinical acceptance in the past decades. Researchers still labor under the immensely negative Timothy Leary-era image of psychedelics, but are steadily chipping away at the cultural deadlock created by what many see as reckless abuse of psychedelics during the 1960s and 70s. Standing in stark contrast to the negatives of that time, however, are the immense clinical benefits that psychedelics are consistently being shown to offer.
Another recent study at the University of South Florida, for instance, found that psilocybin mushrooms erase conditioned fear response in mice, suggesting they could potentially be used to cure PTSD—and that psilocybin can even prompt growth of brain cells.
Multiple studies are currently being conducted (at New York University’s medical school and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center) into using psychedelics to alleviate fear in patients with late-stage terminal illness—easing the experience of death and allowing people to end their lives in states of acceptance instead of terror.
LSD and psilocybin even hold promise for treating cluster headaches, a condition so debilitating and painful that it often leads sufferers to consider suicide.
While marijuana enjoys its time in the spotlight, it may be time for its more potent—and potentially even more beneficial—siblings to join the party.

'Lard-like' substance washed up on beaches not harmful to humans unless ingested

A white "lard-like" substance washed up on several Isle of Man beaches is either animal or vegetable fat, government tests have proved.
A spokesman said it was "not harmful to humans unless ingested" after a number of samples were analyzed by specialists on Monday. He added that the fat was also "not toxic to the marine environment". Dog walkers are being asked to keep pets on a lead and prevent them from ingesting the deposits.
The coastguard said some of the substance which washed up on several island beaches this weekend is stone-like and of golf ball size while other pieces are approximately one foot square and three or four inches deep.
A clean-up operation was mounted after it was reported on Port Erin, Port St Mary, Fleshwick bay, Fenella beach, Ballaugh, the Lhen and Perwick Bay.



Town invaded by tumbleweeds

Mother Nature had quite a surprise for many residents of Clovis, New Mexico when they woke-up on Monday morning.
Tumbleweed, also known as Russian thistle, had invaded the small community.
A strong wind from the north began late on Sunday night causing a pile-up of the plants. Many residents say they have never seen anything like this before.

The City hopes to have the tumbleweed cleared by the end of the week. Until then residents will be digging out and driving cautiously.
There's a news video here.

First Porsche uncovered after 112 years of hiding

For as much as we talk about barn finds, the window of time for such vehicles tends to be measured in a few decades; any more than that and the ravages of time and memory tend to destroy anything so long abandoned. On Monday, Porsche revealed that it had recently acquired the barn find of the century — the first car ever designed by founder Ferdinand Porsche, which hit the roads of Austria in 1898, and has been locked away untouched for the past 112 years. The car in question doesn't look like much more than a horse buggy, but in its day was a technological feat. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the age of 22, the car was known as the Egger-Lohner, but also dubbed the P1 by its creator, who engraved that code on its major parts. Powered by a 3-hp electric motor in the rear driving a 12-speed control unit, the 2,977-lb. P1 could reach 21 mph, and travel 49 miles on a charge. The body, which no longer exists, could be easily altered from a coupe to a open-top style.
After its first drive on June 26, 1898, Porsche continued developing the car, and in September 1899 won a 24-mile electric-car race with three passengers, finishing 18 minutes ahead of the next challenger. Porsche would go on to work for Mercedes and other German automakers; it wouldn't be until 1948 that he would found his own automaker.
Porsche has declined to reveal details about how it found the car or how the P1 managed to exist in an unrestored state this long; a spokesman told Yahoo Autos that the person who uncovered it wished to remain anonymous. The vehicle will now live at Porsche's museum in Stuttgart, Germany — and with it, the mystery of how it survived the 20th century.

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Devastating Plague Strains Arose Twice, Could Return

Many centuries before the Black Death wiped out a third to half of Europe, an equally virulent pandemic called the Plague of Justinian killed upwards of 100 million people in just two short years between 541 and 543 A.D. Scientists have long debated the connection between what have been called the two most deadly plagues to wreak havoc on humankind. Now, an international team of researchers analyzing the remains of two people killed by the Plague of Justinian has concluded that the pandemics arose from two distinct strains of the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
The strain that caused the Plague of Justinian likely went extinct long before the emergence of the Black Death in the 14th century.
This is actually disturbing news for people today, the researchers said. Their findings imply that if such horrible strains of plague bacteria arose twice before, independently, there's no reason why another strain can't arise tomorrow … lurking today in the gut of a flea nesting in the fur of a rat.
This latest research appears today (Jan. 27) in the journal Lancet Infectious Disease.
The bacterium that causes the bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis, resides in the intestines of certain fleas that feed on rodents. A bite from an infected flea can spread the disease to humans.
"Plague remains a real threat in some places of the world, like Madagascar, which has more human plague cases than any other country — hundreds to over a thousand cases a year," said Dr. Dave Wagner, co-first-author on the study and an associate professor in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.
Even the United States sees an average of seven bubonic plague infections yearly, from a strain introduced to California from China about 100 years ago.
Bubonic plague is curable with antibiotics if treated within a few days after infection. This and the fact that most people in wealthier countries don't live in close proximately to flea-carrying rodents — unlike the situation in medieval Europe and Asia — means that the chances of a plague pandemic are unlikely.
Nevertheless, a bubonic plague epidemic could rip through poor countries lacking proper hygiene, killing viciously and indiscriminately in just a few days upon infection.
"The main reason why there are a lot of plague cases in Madagascar is because they have large populations of non-native rats, which are good hosts for plague," Wagner told LiveScience. In the United States, the hosts often are other kinds of rodents, such as prairie dogs.
Previously, Wagner worked on the research team that established that the Plague of Justinian was indeed a bubonic plague caused by Yersinia pestis, settling a long-standing debate. They made this conclusion through DNA analysis of two victims of that plague.
The new study probed deeper and compared this unearthed Justinian bacterial strain to the well-studied Black Death strain. The researchers isolated miniscule DNA fragments from the teeth of those same two victims, both buried in Bavaria, Germany. (This feat itself resulted in obtaining the oldest known human pathogen genome.)
Using these DNA fragments, the researchers reconstructed the Yersinia pestis genome and compared it to a database of genomes from more than one hundred contemporary strains. The scientists found that this more ancient strain was an evolutionary "dead end," distinct from strains involved in the Black Death and subsequent outbreaks.
In fact, the third and most recent bubonic plague pandemic, which originated in Hong Kong around 1850 and killed millions, stems from the very same Black Death plague that decimated Europe, the researchers found. In other words, the ancient strain was gone, and only the Black Death strain remained to cause the 1850 pandemic.
"[This] research is both fascinating and perplexing, [and] it generates new questions, which need to be explored," said Dr. Hendrik Poinar, the senior author on the study and the director of the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "For example, why did this [Justinian] pandemic, which killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people, die out?"
Poinar said he hopes the study of ancient genomes can answer such questions, thereby helping prevent such pandemics today.
The researchers also determined that the Justinian strain likely originated in Asia, though some have speculated it started in Africa. But the scientists don't know when. Earlier epidemics, such as the Plague of Athens (circa 430 B.C.) and the Antonine Plague (circa 165 A.D.), could also be independent emergences of particularly virulent Yersinia pestis strains.
Doctors warn that pandemics can take many forms and remain a constant threat in this world of rapid global transportation and migration. The last great pandemic was the 1918 flu pandemic, which infected 500 million people and killed at least 75 million. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has taken approximately 30 million human lives since 1980.
The bubonic plagues, however, were extreme in killing such a high percentage of the European population — indeed, arguably, the cause of societal changes that ended the classical era of antiquity and then, 800 years later, gave birth to the Renaissance.

Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth

Graduate student Jennifer Klunk of McMaster University examines a tooth used to decode the genome of the ancient plague.  
Graduate student Jennifer Klunk of McMaster University examines a tooth used to decode the genome of the ancient plague. 
Scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of a strain of bacteria that caused one of the most deadly pandemics in history nearly 1,500 years ago.
They did it by finding the skeletons of people killed by the plague and extracting DNA from traces of blood inside their teeth.
This plague struck in the year 541, under the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, so it's usually called the . The emperor actually got sick himself but recovered. He was one of the lucky ones.
Housing developers outside Munich found skeletons of people killed by the Justinian plague during the 6th century. 
Housing developers outside Munich found skeletons of people killed by the Justinian plague during the 6th century. 
"Some of the estimates are that up to 50 million people died," says evolutionary biologist at Northern Arizona University. "It's thought that the Justinian plague actually led partially to the downfall of the Roman Empire."
The swept through Europe, northern Africa and parts of Asia. Historians say that when it arrived in Constantinople, thousands of bodies piled up in mass graves. People started wearing name tags so they could be identified if they suddenly collapsed.
Given the descriptions, scientists suspected that it was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis — the same kind of microbe that later caused Europe's in the 14th century.
The bacteria get spread by fleas. After someone gets infected from a flea bite, the microbes travel to the nearest lymph node and start multiplying. "And so you get this mass swelling in that lymph node, which is known as a buboe," says Wagner. "That's where the term bubonic plague comes from."
The Justinian plague has been hard to study scientifically. But recently, archaeologists stumbled upon a clue outside Munich.
Housing developers were digging up farmland when they uncovered a burial site with graves that dated as far back as the Justinian plague.
"They found some [graves] that had multiple individuals buried together, which is oftentimes indicative of an infectious disease," Wagner says. "And so in this particular case, we examined material from two different victims. One of those victims was buried together with another adult and a child, so it's presumed that they all may have died of the plague at the same time."
Skeletons were all that was left of the pair. But inside their teeth was dental pulp that still contained traces of blood — and the blood contained the DNA of plague bacteria.
A tooth from the remains of a Justinian plague victim.
A tooth from the remains of a Justinian plague victim.

By decoding the bacteria's DNA, Wagner and a team of international scientists could trace the pathogen's evolutionary journey.
They think the strain of bacteria that caused the Justinian plague jumped from rodents into humans and then died out, the team Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The later emergence of Black Death seems to have been caused by a separate event.
The DNA also suggests that, like Black Death, the original source of the plague was in China, says microbiologist , another member of the research team at Northern Arizona University.
"So the ecological reservoir for plague, the historical reservoir, is in China," Keim says. "And it's this emergence, this pattern over and over again, with people moving commodities, rats and fleas around the world that we're able to document."
Overall, this ancient strain is not that different from modern ones that still circulate in places like Arizona, says Keim.
"The biology of the pathogen no doubt could cause another pandemic if it weren't for the changes in human culture and medicine," Keim says.
These days, though, antibiotics can quickly stop plague outbreaks in their tracks.

A 300,000-Year-Old 'Campfire' Found in Israel

A newly discovered hearth full of ash and charred bone in a cave in modern-day Israel hints that early humans sat around fires as early as 300,000 years ago — before Homo sapiens arose in Africa.
In and around the hearth, archaeologists say they also found bits of stone tools that were likely used for butchering and cutting animals.
The finds could shed light on a turning point in the development of culture "in which humans first began to regularly use fire both for cooking meat and as a focal point — a sort of campfire — for social gatherings," said archaeologist Ruth Shahack-Gross of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
"They also tell us something about the impressive levels of social and cognitive development of humans living some 300,000 years ago," Shahack-Gross added in a statement.
The centrally located fire pit is about 6.5 feet (2 meters) in diameter at its widest point, and its ash layers suggest the hearth was used repeatedly over time, according to the study, which was detailed in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Jan. 25. Shahack-Gross and colleagues think these features indicate the hearth may have been used by large groups of cave dwellers. What's more, its position implies some planning went into deciding where to put the fire pit, suggesting whoever built it must have had a certain level of intelligence.
Controversial cave
Qesem Cave was discovered more than a decade ago during the construction of a road some 7 miles (11 kilometers) east of Tel Aviv. At the site, excavators had previously uncovered other traces of fire (scattered deposits of ash and clumps of soil that had been heated to high temperatures) as well as the butchered bones of big game like deer, aurochs and horse left their by the prehistoric cave dwellers, possibly up to 400,000 years ago.
Anthropologists have debated what constitutes the earliest evidence of controlled fire use — and which hominin species was responsible for it. Ash and burnt bone in Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa suggests human ancestors used fire at least 1 million years ago. Some researchers, meanwhile, have speculated that the teeth of Homo erectus suggest this early human was adapted to eat food cooked over a fire by 1.9 million years ago. A study out last year in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal argued that fire-builders would have needed some sophisticated abilities to keep their hearths burning, such as long-term planning (gathering firewood) and group cooperation.
It's not entirely clear who was cooking at Qesem Cave. A study published about three years ago in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology described teeth found in the cave dating to between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago. The authors speculated the teeth might have belonged to modern humans (Homo sapiens), Neanderthals or perhaps a different species, though they noted they couldn't draw a solid conclusion from their evidence.
Nonetheless, study researcher Avi Gopher, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, said in an interview with Nature at the time, "The best match for these teeth are those from the Skhul and Qafzeh caves in northern Israel, which date later [to between 80,000 and 120,000 years ago] and which are generally thought to be modern humans of sorts."
That interpretation is at odds with the predominant view that modern humans, the only human species alive today, originated about 200,000 years ago in Africa before dispersing to other parts of the world.

The Rock Islands Of Palau

The Rock Islands, locally known as Chalbacheb, are 200 rounded limestone rocks neatly capped with lush greenery found in the island nation of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean.

This natural wonder is the only reason why most tourists ever visit Palau at all. Palau is an archipelago nation in Micronesia with a population of 21,000 distributed in its 250 islands. It is popular for its rich marine biodiversity which can be experienced through numerous snorkeling and diving sites throughout the region.

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Diving doctor attacked by shark stitched up own wound then went to pub before going to hospital

A medical degree came in handy for a junior doctor in New Zealand after he was attacked by a shark while fishing. James Grant, 24, fought the shark, and stitched himself up before his mates took him to hospital - via the local pub. Grant had just entered the water at Garden Bay near Cosy Nook in Southland on Saturday when the next thing he knew a shark was wrapping its jaws around his leg. "It was pretty well latched on, I was just trying to get it off."
But Grant gave as good as he got - stabbing what he believed was a type of seven-gill shark, with his diving knife as he tried to get it to unlatch. "I sort of just fought the shark off. The shark got a few stabs. The knife wasn't long enough though," he said. When Grant managed to get rid of the shark he tried to get the attention of his three friends, who were spearfishing just around the bay. But his mates did not take him seriously.
"I thought surely he hasn't been bitten, there's no way he has been bitten, he's got to be taking the p...," Mackley Lindsay said. But he wasn't, instead he sat on the shore stitching his own leg. His friends carried on fishing while Grant tacked the wounds together with a needle and thread from his first-aid kit for his pig-hunting dogs. "I'm pretty happy I had such a thick wet suit on too," he said. Friend Jim Robins downplayed the event at the time. "He was walking so it couldn't have been that bad," he said.
However, his friends did do him a favor - taking him to the tavern in Colac Bay before the hospital. The pub served him a beer alongside a few bandages to stop his leg from dripping blood on the carpet. "We gave him a pint of beer and his mates were kicking around, laughing," says Colac Bay Tavern co-owner Warren Bevin. "Then we brought out the big first-aid kit and got a little bandage out. There were a couple of good holes on both sides of his leg." His colleagues at Southland Hospital later gave his leg a proper stitch-up.

There's a news video here.

Chickens made bid for freedom when truck transporting them overturned on the freeway

Hundreds of chickens escaped on Saturday when a truck loaded with thousands of fowls overturned on a freeway in China, releasing them on to the road and surrounding grassland.
Traffic police attempted to chase down hundreds of elusive chickens and place them back in their coops.

The runaway chickens forced police to close down a section of the motorway in the southwestern Guizhou province.
The truck was carrying coops containing a total of 3,000 chickens, of which 900 escaped. The driver of the truck said that the vehicle swerved after he tried to brake whilst driving in dense fog.

Flatulent cows started fire in barn on dairy farm

Methane gas from 90 farting and burping cows exploded in a barn on a German dairy farm on Monday.
High levels of the gas had built up in the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf, then "a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames," a police spokesman said.
A spark, probably triggered by a massage machine in the barn, ignited the methane and started the blaze.
Firefighters and a gas field crew were called to the scene. The roof of the barn was damaged, with one cow suffering minor burns.

World’s first known ‘Peanut Butter and Jellyfish’

In crazy experiment, sea jellies eat creamy substance, change color, and grow Peanut Butter and Jellyfish
The world’s first peanut butter and jellyfish; photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo
In an experiment that began partly as attempt to find an economical and sustainable food source for captive gelatinous invertebrates, but mostly just to see if it could be done, scientists have created the first-known “Peanut Butter and Jellyfish.”
In doing so, P. Zelda Montoya and Barrett L. Christie of the Dallas Zoo also proved that scientists are not all left-brain thinkers; they can be highly imaginative and witty.
The experiment entailed feeding tiny aquarium moon jellies protein-rich peanut butter (no preservatives or food starch), and not only did the jellies gobble up to creamy substance, they changed color and experienced noticeable growth.
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish
Moon jelly at left, shortly after feeding, compared to a more pristine-looking jelly at right; photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo
In the January edition of “Drum and Croaker, A Highly Irregular Journal for the Public Aquarist,” the scientists stated that the widespread use of fish- or shrimp-based protein sources in aquaculture represents an unsustainable practice.
“That having been said,” the authors wrote, “we would love to claim we conducted this trial with noble purpose, but the truth is that we just wanted to make peanut butter and jellyfish simply to see if it could be done.
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish
Science thumbnails showing the jellies at various stages of peanutbutterification; photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo
“Whether or not it should be done is a question no doubt to be debated by philosophers for the ages (or at least by some aquarists over beers). We herein report on what we believe to be the first known unholy amalgamation of America’s favorite lunchtime treat and live cnidarians.”
Most surprising of all during the experiment was that the moon jellies actually ate the peanut butter.
As a result, “mean size increased to 4.17±1.06mm (n=19) after eight days of peanutbutterification. By day 31 the jellies had attained a mean size of 17.17±7.44mm (n=12).”
Translation: there was normal or slightly above-normal growth during the experiment, thanks to the fat-rich goodness in peanut butter.
Another surprise besides noticeable growth was the change in appearance shortly after the jellies began to eat (see top image and jelly at left in second image).
“Throughout this period it was noted that jellies that had recently fed displayed a distinct brownish hue owing to their high degree of peanutbutterocity.”
To borrow from a report in Deep Sea News, “They became little peanut butter jelly cups.”
It seems as though peanut-based protein holds promise, but more extensive studies will be needed to determine to what extent it can be used.
As for the Dallas Zoo study, the authors state: “The success of our trial group of Aurelia on this experimental diet was surprising, and we hope this ridiculous experiment illustrates that unconventional approaches in husbandry are at the very least, worth trying once.”

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