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

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts get a life...

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Quiet, the Fat Lady's Singing ... !
Today is - Opera Day

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Today in History

1587 Mary, Queen of Scots is beheaded in Fotheringhay Castle for her alleged part in the conspiracy to usurp Elizabeth I.
1807 At Eylau, Napoleon's Marshal Pierre Agureau attacks Russian forces in a heavy snowstorm.
1861 Delegates from seceded states adopt a provisional Confederate Constitution.
1862 Union troops under Gen. Ambrose Burnside defeat a Confederate defense force at the Battle of Roanoke Island, N.C.
1865 Confederate raider William Quantrill and men attack a group of Federal wagons at New Market, Kentucky.
1887 Congress passes the Dawes Act, which gives citizenship to Indians living apart from their tribe.
1900 British General Buller is beaten at Ladysmith, South Africa as the British flee over the Tugela River.
1904 In a surprise attack at Port Arthur, Korea, the Japanese disable seven Russian warships.
1910 The Boy Scouts of America is incorporated.
1924 The gas chamber is used for the first time to execute a murderer.
1942 The Japanese land on Singapore.
1943 British General Orde Wingate leads a guerrilla force of "Chindits" against the Japanese in Burma.
1952 Elizabeth becomes Queen of England after her father, King George VI, dies.
1962 The U.S. Defense Department reports the creation of the Military Assistance Command in South Vietnam.
1965 South Vietnamese bomb the North Vietnamese communications center at Vinh Linh.
1971 South Vietnamese ground forces, backed by American air power, begin Operation Lam Son 719, a 17,000 man incursion into Laos that ends three weeks later in a disaster.
1990 CBS television temporarily suspends Andy Rooney for his anti-gay and ant-black remarks in a magazine interview.

Non Sequitur


5 Reasons the Sochi Winter Olympics Could Be a Disaster

The most expensive Olympics in history is not necessarily going to be the most successful.

In U.S., 'Natural' Food May be Anything But

Because there's no definition of natural, foods with chemicals regularly stock U.S. shelves.

Clay Aiken Announces He’s Running For Congress Against repugican Renee Ellmers

Singer and former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken officially announced on Wednesday that he will run for Congress against Rep. Renee Ellmers (r-NC) in North Carolina’s 2nd District. The announcement was made via a video posted on his campaign website. He’s been hinting at making a run at Ellmers for more than a month now.
Ellmers is a two-term Representative who got herself into office in the great tea party sweep during the 2010 midterm elections. At that time, she defeated longtime Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge by less than 1%. Her campaign was noted for using hateful and bigoted rhetoric throughout. She made national headlines when she used a campaign ad condemning the Park51 project in Manhattan. While it was an obviously racist and anti-Muslim commercial, it most likely fired up the tea party base in her district to come out and vote. She was also endorsed by none other than Sarah Palin.
Ellmers has since stayed in the spotlight by saying and doing stupid things. During the government shutdown last year, she stated that she would not fore-go her paycheck because she needed it, even though she supported shutting down the government and denying pay to hundred of thousands of workers. The gun-loving repugican who eschews any and all gun regulations also had to deal with the embarrassment of having to admit that her AR-15 rifle was stolen from her home.
In his announcement, Aiken made a few key and poignant comments.
“I am not a politician. I never want to be one. But I do want to bring back, at least to my corner of North Carolina, the idea that someone can go to Washington to represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not…The years I spent as a special education teacher for students with autism was my first window into the difference that a person can make in someone’s life…for most Americans, there are no golden tickets. At least not like the kind you see on TV. More families are struggling today than at any time in our history. And here in North Carolina, we’ve suffered more than our share of pain.”
Also, perhaps in an attempt to appeal to moderate and independent voters, Aiken pointed out that Ellmers has not been a friend to the military during her tenure in Washington. Besides highlighting her numerous votes to cut funding to the military, Aiken also said that Ellmers just does what her party leaders tell her to do, which is why she voted to shut down the government 21 times. He also made sure to get a nice little dig at Ellmers by mentioning that she complained that she needed her paycheck while she was cutting off the pay of others. Overall, it was a well done campaign kickoff video that did a good job of introducing Aiken to North Carolina voters.

The repugicans Ignore Boehner and Refuse To Pass Clean Debt Limit Hike

john boehner
Worst Speaker Ever 
A day after John Boehner told them to pass a clean debt ceiling increase, House repugicans ignored him and can’t agree on a bill to avoid economic disaster.
According to Roll Call:
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio met with his top leadership team Wednesday morning to discuss the next steps, but leaders and staff do not yet have a plan for how to proceed, aides said.

Boehner and leaders have said they intend to do so, but their rank and file has insisted that they need to attach Republican legislative priorities to the bill in order for them to support the policy. The problem is that between members’ far-flung demands, there is no consensus about one add-on that could bring the conference together.
Speaker Boehner offered to attach a measure that would repeal a section of the ACA or get the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline moving, but neither option got enough support from House repugicans to pass.
House repugicans are once again making insane demands, like the total repeal of the ACA or massive spending cuts to social programs, before they will consider raising the debt limit. None of these ransom notes disguised as legislation will ever pass the Senate, or be signed into law by President Obama.
This is the same pointless dance that the country has been doing with tea party Republicans since they arrived in Congress in 2011. A group of House repugicans view the looming threat of economic annihilation as a position of strength from which they demand the implementation of their unpopular agenda. Despite the fact that they have consistently failed, they are going to stomp their feet again while demanding something for nothing on the debt limit.
Yesterday, Boehner warned repugicans what was going to happen if they marched down this path. He told them that if they refuse to pass a clean increase in the debt limit, the Senate may act first by passing a debt limit hike that includes an extension of unemployment benefits.
This would result in the exact same situation that occurred during the government shutdown. Democrats would just say no, and wait out the House repugicans, who will cave and pass the Senate bill when they start feeling the political pain that comes from their foolishness. Democrats aren’t going to give the House repugicans anything, because they don’t have to.
Boehner will likely be on television soon telling the country how House repugicans will only accept the complete destruction of Obamacare in exchange for raising the debt limit.
John Boehner isn’t leading the House repugicans. They are leading him, and they are really are dumb enough to provoke an economic crisis in an election year when their own seats are on the line. Boehner can’t lead. He won’t lead, and that’s why the country will once again be forced to deal with the political equivalent of repugican tween angst and drama throughout the month of February.

Busted repugicans Try to Skulk Away from Their Fake IRS Scandal

Now that they are busted, repugicans urge Americans not to jump to conclusions about the fact that they deliberately wasted millions of your tax dollars pursuing something they knew was false… 
Darrell Issa
The repugicans were 'poutraged' that President Obama had the nerve to call them on their scandal mongering during his Super Bowl “interview” with Faux’s Swill O’Really. They urge Americans to not follow their example of jumping to conclusions.
Remember when repugicans were accusing Obama of a cover up like Watergate? They called him Nixon, which while it may have been a nice break from calling him Hitler and demanding his birth certificate, was woefully inaccurate and sadly revealed repugicans’ deep desire to find something they could pin on this President — something that rivaled one of the major repugican presidential scandals. This has caused them to hyperventilate on a daily basis over a constantly replenished buffet of accusations that Obama is the shrub and Nixon. No one bothers to ask them what this suggests about their cabal — that in order to smear Obama, they accuse him of acting like a republican president.
So Mike Kelley (r-PA) urged caution at a Committee hearing today, saying, “The truth of the matter is, we don’t know yet what the answer is in the investigation of the IRS.” The translation for this is “We’ve been busted, the evidence actually suggests that we deliberately misled people, so let’s do a big pivot.”
All summer long we told you the IRS “scandal” was not real. There was no evidence of targeting wingnuts, in fact, both “sides” were “targeted”, also known as the IRS attempting to do its job.
Then came the endless hearings during which Darrell Issa only allowed the soundbites that furthered the repugican cabal narrative to air. All of this was assisted along by a press happily willing to play possum and pass along repugican aides’ interpretations of alleged documents and events as fact.
Then Democrats called repugicans on deliberately burying evidence that proved their conspiracy theory wrong from the beginning. Democrats presented irrefutable evidence of this fact that Issa’s investigation had redacted. Yet repugicans had no problem making accusations back then, knowing that they were misleading people.
Cut to February 2014, nine moths later, and there is no IRS scandal. The evidence that came forward only revealed one scandal, and that was Darrell Issa suppressing evidence that did not correspond with the repugican story. And maybe it was scandalous that the press laid down and played dead once again in their desperation for some kind of scandal the public could latch onto, because it was summer and news was slow. The repugicans excel in crafting a cynical circus show during slow news periods when it will get the most play and the least questions.
So now what do we hear from repugicans, who have moved on with nary a moment of reflection or shame, into pretending there is an Obamacare scandal? Now we hear that we should not jump to conclusions on their other accusations (if you’re keeping track, their Benghazi accusations were also a bust, and once again, the facts actually point the finger at them for failing to fund security).
Yes, the very people who jumped to conclusions and urged you to jump of the reality cliff with them or rather for them, now urge caution. Now that the facts are out, and the facts make repugicans look like shameless con artists busted selling snake oil at a tent revival, now they urge you not to jump to conclusions.
The Ways and Means Committee Democrats noted some facts: “The IRS has 150 employees working full-time to accommodate the investigations. Since May, the agency has turned over more than 500,000 pages of documents to Congress. Five dozen interviews have been conducted with current and former IRS employees. And yet, as the President noted Sunday, not a single piece of evidence has emerged showing any political motivation.”
The Ways and Means Committee Democrats were kind enough to offer a rather striking contrast in the stance of repugicans before they were busted and after:

Chairman Darrell Issa, May 14: “This was the targeting of the president’s political enemies effectively and lies about it [sic] during the election year, so that it wasn’t discovered until afterwards.” (CBS).

Chairman Dave Camp, May 17: Accuses the White House of a “culture of cover-up” and “political intimidation,” and adds, “It seems like the truth is hidden from the American people just long enough to make it through an election.”
(W&M Hearing)
Chairman Hal Rogers, June 3: “Of course, the enemies list out of the White House that IRS was engaged in shutting down or trying to shut down the conservative political viewpoint across the country—an enemies list that rivals that of another president some time ago.” (Faux News)
Chairman Mike Rogers, June 16: “You have IRS that clearly showed some criminal behavior that at least we know was back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” (Face the Nation).
Hey, repugicans NOW: Don’t jump to conclusions
Rep. Mike Kelly, Feb. 5: “The truth of the matter is, we don’t know yet what the answer is in the investigation of the IRS.” (W&M Hearing)
Rep. Tom Reed, Feb. 5: “There’s no way to come to a conclusion at this point in time.” (W&M Hearing)
Having covered this manufactured IRS story from its birth to its destruction, I can tell you that it was completely surreal when I got my hands on the documents Democrats were referring to. The number of relevant facts being omitted from almost all coverage of this bad fiction simply blew my mind.
It was also surreal to see the press pass off a conservative group that had recently been found guilty of illegally aiding repugicans in an election as being persecuted by the IRS for being conservatives, with no mention of their very recent history. I found all of this highly troubling. While Democrats are far from perfect, repugicans have reached a level of malfeasance and deliberate deception that is truly disturbing.
Now that they are busted, repugicans want to play high minded reasonable types, and urge Americans not to jump to conclusions about the fact that they deliberately wasted millions of your tax dollars pursuing something they knew was bull crap from the beginning. They did this as they ignored the real crises facing Americans today.
It’s simply morally unconscionable — but this is exactly what I would expect from a party that is still bending itself over backwards to deny that the mistakes made in the shrub years have anything to do with their platform. Until repugicans hit bottom, we can expect more of this disgraceful behavior. They’re addicts, who refuse to face the reality of their party and their platform. And just like an addict, they’d love to bring us all down with them.

Fugitive found in California 37 years after escape

In this photo provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections is Judy Lynn Hayman who authorities say escaped from a Michigan prison nearly 37 years ago while serving time for attempted larceny. Hayman, now 60, has been found living under an alias in San Diego where she is now in jail awaiting extradition to Michigan, police said Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Michigan Department of Corrections) 
In this photo provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections is Judy Lynn Hayman who authorities say escaped from a Michigan prison nearly 37 years. 
A woman who escaped from a Michigan prison nearly 37 years ago while serving time for attempted larceny was found living under an alias in San Diego, police said Tuesday. Acting on a tip from the Michigan Department of Corrections, San Diego police went to an apartment on Monday in the Hillcrest neighborhood, where a woman matching the description of fugitive Judy Lynn Hayman answered the door.
She identified herself as Jamie Lewis and produced government documents with the name, San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer said. Officers, however, remained suspicious because of inconsistencies in her story and her resemblance to an old Michigan mug shot they were holding.
"Her eyes gave her away," Mayer said. "The eyes in the picture matched the eyes of this woman."
The officers took her to a police station, where she eventually acknowledged being Hayman, Mayer said.
Hayman, 60, was being held in a San Diego County jail awaiting extradition to Michigan, where she escaped from the Ypsilanti prison in 1977 while serving time for attempted larceny, Mayer said. He did not know if she had retained an attorney and no court date had been set.
When she escaped, Hayman was about halfway through a minimum sentence of 1 1/2 years for attempting to steal clothes from a Detroit-area store.
Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said Tuesday she must be returned to prison to finish the sentence, which has a maximum term of two years. The state parole board typically determines whether an inmate can be released after serving the minimum.
"We can't just write it off," he said. "We don't have the ability to say it's been a long time, you're free to go," he said.
Authorities in Washtenaw County, Mich., where the prison is located, would decide whether additional charges related to the escape are filed, Marlan said.
It was not immediately clear how long the woman had been living in San Diego. Her 32-year-old son was visiting when police arrived, and officers said he appeared stunned by their questions.
"This seemed very much a surprise to him," Mayer said.
He did not have the son's name, and public listings for the residence under the name Jamie Lewis did not include a phone number.
Neighbors said Hayman had lived in the complex for several years and mostly kept to herself.
Neighbor Maria Lopez, 60, told the U-T San Diego newspaper that Hayman did not appear to work. She said people came by the house to do her laundry, and she had frequent visits from her son.
Mayer said he was impressed by the investigators' ability to "put some dots together" and provide San Diego officers with the right address after nearly four decades.
"I commend them for their tenacity," he said. "This is a very old case."
The case is similar to that of Marie Walsh, who also escaped from a Michigan prison when she was known as Susan LeFevre.
Walsh had served 14 months of a 10-year prison sentence for a heroin deal when she fled in 1976. She was found living under an alias in San Diego, in 2008.
Walsh spent 13 more months in prison then returned to San Diego where she resumed her life with her husband of more than 20 years and wrote a book called "A Tale of Two Lives" about her ordeal.

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First Death From New Bird Flu Reported

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Does Shivering Help You Lose Weight?

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How Memory Rewrites the Past

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Cherlemange Found

After 26 years of research, scientists confirm that the bones interred at Charlemagne's supposed resting place belong to the emperor.
Bones in a golden casket in Germany belong to the casket's rightful occupant: Charlemagne, one of Europe's earliest and most successful monarchs, according to new research

Humanity's forgotten return to Africa revealed in DNA

Call it humanity's unexpected U-turn. One of the biggest events in the history of our species is the exodus out of Africa some 65,000 years ago, the start of Homo sapiens' long march across the world. Now a study of southern African genes shows that, unexpectedly, another migration took western Eurasian DNA back to the very southern tip of the continent 3000 years ago. Humanity's forgotten return to Africa revealed in DNA
Not so isolated: Khoisan tribes have European DNA
According to conventional thinking, the Khoisan tribes of southern Africa, have lived in near-isolation from the rest of humanity for thousands of years.
In fact, the study shows that some of their DNA matches most closely people from modern-day southern Europe, including Spain and Italy. Because Eurasian people also carry traces of Neanderthal DNA, the finding also shows – for the first time – that genetic material from our extinct cousin may be widespread in African populations.
The Khoisan tribes of southern Africa are hunter-gatherers and pastoralists who speak unique click languages.
Their extraordinarily diverse gene pool split from everyone else's before the African exodus.
Ancient lineages
"These are very special, isolated populations, carrying what are probably the most ancient lineages in human populations today," says David Reich of Harvard University. "For a lot of our genetic studies we had treated them as groups that had split from all other present-day humans before they had split from each other." So he and his colleagues were not expecting to find signs of western Eurasian genes in 32 individuals belonging to a variety of Khoisan tribes. "I think we were shocked," says Reich.
 The unexpected snippets of DNA most resembled sequences from southern Europeans, including Sardinians, Italians and people from the Basque region.
Dating methods suggested they made their way into the Khoisan DNA sometime between 900 and 1800 years ago – well before known European contact with southern Africa. Archaeological and linguistic studies of the region can make sense of the discovery.
They suggest that a subset of the Khoisan, known as the Khoe-Kwadi speakers, arrived in southern Africa from east Africa around 2200 years ago. Khoe-Kwadi speakers were – and remain – pastoralists who make their living from herding cows and sheep. The suggestion is that they introduced herding to a region that was otherwise dominated by hunter-gatherers.
Humanity's forgotten return to Africa revealed in DNA Genetics show a return to Africa starting around 3000 years ago, long before European colonialism
Khoe-Kwadi tribes Reich and his team found that the proportion of Eurasian DNA was highest in Khoe-Kwadi tribes, who have up to 14 per cent of western Eurasian ancestry. What is more, when they looked at the east African tribes from which the Khoe-Kwadi descended, they found a much stronger proportion of Eurasian DNA – up to 50 per cent.
That result confirms a 2012 study by Luca Pagani of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, which found non-African genes in people living in Ethiopia. Both the 2012 study and this week's new results show that the Eurasian genes made their way into east African genomes around 3000 years ago. About a millennium later, the ancestors of the Khoe-Kwadi headed south, carrying a weaker signal of the Eurasian DNA into southern Africa.
The cultural implications are complex and potentially uncomfortably close to European colonial themes. "I actually am not sure there's any population that doesn't have west Eurasian [DNA]," says Reich. "These populations were always thought to be pristine hunter-gatherers who had not interacted with anyone for millennia," says Reich's collaborator, linguist Brigitte Pakendorf of the University of Lyon in France. "Well, no. Just like the rest of the world, Africa had population movements too. There was simply no writing, no Romans or Greeks to document it."
Twist in the tale 
There's one more twist to the tale. In 2010 a research team – including Reich – published the first draft genome of a Neanderthal. Comparisons with living humans revealed traces of Neanderthal DNA in all humans with one notable exception: sub-Saharan peoples like the Yoruba and Khoisan. That made sense. After early humans migrated out of Africa around 60,000 years ago, they bumped into Neanderthals somewhere in what is now the Middle East. Some got rather cozy with each other. As their descendants spread across the world to Europe, Asia and eventually the Americas, they spread bits of Neanderthal DNA along with their own genes. But because those descendants did not move back into Africa until historical times, most of this continent remained a Neanderthal DNA-free zone. Or so it seemed at the time. Now it appears that the Back to Africa migration 3000 years ago carried a weak Neanderthal genetic signal deep into the homeland. Indeed one of Reich's analyses, published last month, found Neanderthal traces in Yoruba DNA In other words, not only is western Eurasian DNA ancestry a global phenomenon, so is having a bit of Neanderthal living on inside you.

Rabbits unearth a trove of New Stone Age treasure at Land's End

 Archaeologists believe the find may just be the tip of the iceberg
by Antonia Molloy 
The family of rabbits are believed to be responsible for unearthing the archaeological “gold mine” less than 200 yards from the Cornish landmark.
Archaeologists said that the animals had uncovered arrow heads, flint tools and hide scrapers dating back to the Neolithic Age.
Although a formal excavation of the 150-acre site hasn't started yet, the discovery suggests there could also be a large Neolithic – or New Stone Age -  cemetery, Bronze Age burial mounds and an Iron Age hill fort buried there.
Team leader Dean Paton, 30, told the Daily Mirror: “It seems important people have been buried here for ­thousands of years – probably because of the stunning views. It’s a million-to-one chance rabbits should make such an astounding find.
“They dug two little burrows right next to each other and all these ­treasures were thrown out of the earth. No one knows the scale of it but it’s a gold-mine. A family of rabbits have just rewritten the history books.”
A team from Big Heritage, based in the Wirral, are to spend up to two years excavating the site.
Dean added: “The bunnies are quite nosy and come out to see what we are doing.”
Big Heritage also plans to create an “archaeobunnies” children’s trail at Land’s End.
The iconic spot, which is the  most south-westerly point of mainland Britain, is a popular tourist destination. It gained widespread attention in May 2012 as the starting point of the London Olympics torch relay.

Bones of a previously unknown species prove to be one of the oldest seabirds

Fossils discovered in Canterbury, New Zealand reveal the nature of one of the world’s oldest flying seabirds. Thought to have lived between 60.5 and 61.6 million years ago, the fossil is suggested to have formed shortly after the extinction of dinosaurs and many marine organisms. Bones of a previously unknown species prove to be one of the oldest seabirds Fossils of Australornis lovei from the late early Paleocene Waipara Greensand
Bones of the bird were discovered in 2009 by Leigh Love, an amateur fossil collector. The new species, Australornis lovei has been named as such in honour of Love’s discovery. The bird lacks key morphological features of penguins, though it was found near the fossils of the Waimanu manneringi, the oldest penguin, of which it is also estimated to be the same age.
The research is published in Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand by Dr Gerald Mayr and Dr Paul Scofield. The authors claim the discovery ‘represents one of the most significant records of a marine Paleocene bird from the Southern Hemisphere’ and supports the ‘emerging view that most modern birds were already diversified in the earliest Paleogene’.
Despite the distinctness of this new species, its derived features are not limited to a single bird group. It does resemble an extinct species from Antarctica, however, highlighting the links between Antarctica and New Zealand in the late Cretaceous period.

The disappearance of wildflowers may have doomed Ice Age giants

A Mammoth tusk extracted from ice complex deposits along the Logata River in Taimyr, Russia, is shown in this undated handout photo provided by Professor Per Moller February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Per Moller/Johanna Anjar/Handout via Reuters 
A Mammoth tusk extracted from ice complex deposits along the Logata River in Taimyr, Russia, is shown in this undated handout photo provided by Professor Per Moller February 5, 2014.  
by Will Dunham
Flower power may have meant the difference between life and death for some of the extinct giants of the Ice Age, including the mighty woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros.
Scientists who studied DNA preserved in Arctic permafrost sediments and in the remains of such ancient animals have concluded that these Ice Age beasts relied heavily on the protein-rich wildflowers that once blanketed the region.
But dramatic Ice Age climate change caused a huge decline in these plants, leaving the Arctic covered instead in grasses and shrubs that lacked the same nutritional value and could not sustain the big herbivorous mammals, the scientists reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
The change in vegetation began roughly 25,000 years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago - a time when many of the big animals slipped into extinction, the researchers said.
Scientists for years have been trying to figure out what caused this mass extinction, when two-thirds of all the large-bodied mammals in the Northern Hemisphere died out.
"Now we have, from my perspective at least, a very credible explanation," Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, an expert in ancient DNA who led an international team of researchers, said in a telephone interview.
The findings contradicted the notion that humans arriving in these regions during the Ice Age caused the mass extinction by hunting the big animals into oblivion - the so-called overkill or Blitzkrieg hypothesis.
"We think that the major driver (of the mass extinction) is not the humans," Willerslev said, although he did not rule out that human hunters may have delivered the coup de grace to some species already diminished by the dwindling food supplies.
The Arctic region once teemed with herds of big animals, in some ways resembling an African savanna. Large plant eaters included woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, horses, bison, reindeer and camels, with predators including hyenas, saber-toothed cats, lions and huge short-faced bears.
The scientists carried out a 50,000-year history of the vegetation across the Arctic in Siberia and North America.
They obtained 242 permafrost sediment samples from various Arctic sites and studied the feces and stomach contents from the mummified remains of Ice Age animals recovered in places like Siberia. They determined the age of the samples and analyzed the
While many scientists had thought the ecosystem had been grasslands and the big animals were grass eaters, this study showed it instead was dominated by a kind of plant known as forbs - essentially wildflowers.
"The whole Arctic ecosystem looked extremely different from today. You can imagine these enormous steppes with no trees, no shrubs, but dominated by these small flowering plants," Willerslev said.
Christian Brochmann, a botanist at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo, said the permafrost contained "a vast, frozen DNA archive left as footprints from past ecosystems," that could be deciphered by exploring animal and plant collections already stored in museums.

The truth about Echinacea

Widely believed to ward off and treat colds and flu, […]

Cave Icicles

A RARE SIGHT: The gigantic icicles of Lake Superior's caves are visible for the first time in 5 years! Thanks to the frozen lake, visitors to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (a collection of 22 islands off the coast of Wisconsin) can walk across the lake to explore the caves where icicles can reach several stories high!

Earth News

Rain forests in Central America suffer from drug traffic, and the smugglers aren't the only ones at fault.
Environmentalists bemoan wrecked habitat, destroyed wildlife populations and bungled attempts to remedy the consequences of a massive program to ready Sochi for Friday's opening ceremony.
A complex interaction between lava and water, rather than a battle between mythical trolls, is responsible for unusual basalt pillars in Iceland.
Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier broke its own speed

Ocean wave looks like man's face

A spooky face is created by the spray from a wave hitting the harbor in Dorset, England, Feb. 4, 2014
The strong storms that have lashed the European coast have produced some big waves and powerful images — perhaps none more striking than one captured by a lucky photographer in West Dorset, England, on Tuesday.
In the photo, the spray from a 30-foot wave takes the shape of a bearded man's face, with nose, lips and chin clearly visible.
The image was taken by Simon Emmett, who was taking photographs of waves breaking at the Cobb, a man-made harbor in the coastal town Lyme Regis.
Initially, Emmett didn't notice the wave face. Only later, when he looked again, did he realize his photo included the foamy profile.

Daily Comic Relief


Crying Wolf

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 Crying Wolf: Saxon Hunters Say Predators a Danger
Hunters believe wolves may have caused a serious accident in the state of Saxony in December. They claim the animals, which have been repopulating Germany over the past decade after a 150-year absence, are increasingly feared by the local community. More

Whale shark about to eat diver, or so it appears

Marine biologist Simon Pierce, who studies whale sharks, happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture amazing photo off Cancun, Mexico
by David Strege
Whale sharks open their huge mouths to feed on plankton, though this one appears to be interested in eating a diver.
Simon Pierce was diving off Isla Murjeres in Mexico when he happened to find himself in the right place at the right time to capture an image of a whale shark about to consume another diver, swimming near the surface with a snorkel. Or at least that’s what appears to be unfolding in the photo above.
Pierce is a marine biologist from New Zealand who does research and conservation work on threatened marine species with his main focus being the whale shark, the biggest fish on Earth. Whale sharks are harmless to humans.
The largest known aggregation of whale sharks in the world are these waters off Cancun, and on this day there were 100 whale sharks swimming in the area.
“I was trying to capture the shark’s wide-open mouth, which was rather successful in this case,” Pierce told GrindTV in an email. “Having the swimmer there gives some great perspective of the sheer size, too: This shark was about 26 feet in length. I had a ‘fisheye’ lens on for this shot, which gives an extreme wide-angle view, so the shark was probably only about a foot away from me as it passed.”
With the number of whale sharks in the area, it wasn’t a shock to see a giant mouth appear, Pierce added. Whale sharks feed on plankton filtered through large mouths that feature 300 to 350 tiny teeth and 10 filter pads, and stretch 5 feet wide.
“As long as it’s not filled with sharp teeth, I’m pretty relaxed about it,” he said of capturing the photo. “It may look like a dangerous situation, but it’s actually just pure fun. You can see in the last shot, [the diver] already turned around to seek out the next customer.” That photo is below.
A diver calmly turns his attention away from the passing whale shark
Pierce sent GrindTV a series of photos that captured the moment, to dispel any claims that it might have been Photoshopped. “I don’t even know how to use it,” he said.
The photos (there are more below) were taken last summer but released publicly for the first time Wednesday via Caters News Agency. Pierce said he was leading a whale shark research expedition for his organization, the Marine Megafauna Foundation, and a group of marine tourists from Aqua-Firma U.K.
“My scientific work involves photo-identifying each individual shark from their unique spots, so my camera is a vital research tool, but there are so many sharks present that I allow myself a few more attractive images as well,” he said.
Sheer size makes whale sharks photogenic. They can reach up to 65 feet in length, weigh 66,000 pounds, likely live for more than 100 years, dive well over a mile deep, and can be fun for divers, though some discourage the practice of swimming near them.
“Because they feed on plankton, and are often quite curious about human swimmers, they’re a very popular subject amongst dive tourists, who can swim freely with them,” Pierce said. “In this shot, one of the guests on the boat was thoroughly enjoying this close encounter, but I imagine this sight was the last those plankton ever saw. The shark was completely unfazed by my presence, so I was able to capture this photo sequence as the shark continued to feed on the way past.”
He also captured these mesmerizing photos for your enjoyment:
Whale sharks are the largest creatures on Earth yet very docile and curious about divers
Whale sharks are filter feeders, using their huge mouth to suck in plankton
The sheer size of whale sharks makes them photogenic

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