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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.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Daily Drift

Ain't nothing but a thing ...

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Today in History

1478 George, the Duke of Clarence, who had opposed his brother Edward IV, is murdered in the Tower of London.
1688 Quakers in Germantown, Pa. adopt the fist formal antislavery resolution in America.
1813 Czar Alexander enters Warsaw at the head of his Army.
1861 Victor Emmanuel II becomes the first King of Italy.
1861 Jefferson F. Davis is inaugurated as the Confederacy's provisional president at a ceremony held in Montgomery, Ala.
1865 Union troops force the Confederates to abandon Fort Anderson, N.C.
1878 The bitter and bloody Lincoln County War begins with the murder of Billy the Kid's mentor, Englishman rancher John Tunstall.
1885 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, is published in New York.
1907 600,000 tons of grain are sent to Russia to relieve the famine there.
1920 Vuillemin and Chalus complete their first flight over the Sahara Desert.
1932 Manchurian independence is formally declared.
1935 Rome reports sending troops to Italian Somalia.
1939 The Golden Gate Exposition opens in San Francisco.
1943 German General Erwin Rommel takes three towns in Tunisia, North Africa.
1944 The U.S. Army and Marines invade Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
1945 U.S. Marines storm ashore at Iwo Jima.
1954 East and West Berlin drop thousands of propaganda leaflets on each other after the end of a month long truce.
1962 Robert F. Kennedy says that U.S. troops will stay in Vietnam until Communism is defeated.
1964 The United States cuts military aid to five nations in reprisal for having trade relations with Cuba.
1967 The National Art Gallery in Washington agrees to buy a Da Vinci for a record $5 million.
1968 Three U.S. pilots that were held by the Vietnamese arrive in Washington.
1972 The California Supreme Court voids the death penalty.
1974 Randolph Hearst is to give $2 million in free food for the poor in order to open talks for his daughter Patty.
1982 Mexico devalues the peso by 30 percent to fight an economic slide.

Non Sequitur


'Odd French couple' found in deathly embrace

The dead bodies of a woman of 94 and a man of 55 have been found locked in an embrace in the flat they shared in the south-west French city of Bordeaux. Emergency services entered the flat after being alerted by a caretaker, whose suspicions were aroused by the smell on the stairs. They had lived together for five years or more, since the woman took the man in from a life on the streets.
When a fall two years ago largely confined her to the flat, he stayed on. Forensics experts believe the man, Didier Delavigne, died first and the woman, Elisabeth Devidas, died shortly afterwards. She was found on Monday afternoon with her arm wrapped around her companion in their bed in the flat, close to Bordeaux railway station.
People who knew them said they had made an "odd couple of iconoclasts", walking hand in hand in the street at the start of their relationship. "She was no ordinary woman, very free, someone who led her own life," said Nicole, a neighbor in the block of flats. "She was a character. When she took in this man... she knew what people were saying behind her back. She didn't give a damn. She defied the malicious tongues. She'd tell them 'We even got married!' or 'He's my boyfriend, so what?'"
"They say he was homeless and you could smell the wine from 10 meters away," Heri Rananaivoson, the caretaker, recalled of Mr Delavigne, when he first made his appearance six or seven years ago. But he seems to have changed after he met Ms Devidas, for whom he initially ran errands before moving in. "I saw him on the mend," said Mr Rananaivoson. "He stopped smelling of alcohol." The last time he saw Mr Delavigne, at the beginning of the month, he was "looking well". Nicole said she believed both Mr Delavigne and Ms Devidas had had a hard life. "What a beautiful tragedy," she added.

Pretty People Are Easily Forgotten

New studies are showing that the more symmetrical your face is, the less likely you'll recognize that person if you see them again. Trace explains how the human brain gets bored with symmetry, and how it loves to seek out and remember uniqueness!

Football club insist player is 17, not 41

Lazio have threatened legal action against those who have questioned the legitimacy of the age of their 17-year-old Cameroonian player Joseph Minala. The Italian side stated that his birth certificate is "absolutely legitimate". Lazio added: "We reserve the right to take action against those responsible for the protection of the good name of the company and the footballer."
The midfielder also issued a statement via the club's website denying he told an African website he was 41. He said: "I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my [official] documents. They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know." Minala joined the Rome club last summer and recently played for them in the Viareggio Cup youth tournament.
Italian journalist Max Evangelista, who reports on Lazio's youth team, said any suggestions the player was 41 were "unbelievable". He said Minala had scored five goals and made six assists this season for Lazio's youth team, who are the holders of the national title. "He is a very reactive player. You could never say he is 41," he said." When you are surrounded by players running like devils around you, in my opinion it is very tough to be 41.
"He runs, he is fast. It is unbelievable news, that is why Lazio felt the need to deny it. He was in an orphanage for a couple of years in Cameroon, then he had to face the situation here by himself. It is a controversial story because the face of the player is not that of a 17-year-old guy. On his face there is sign of his previous life, which was not a happy life. That is it. Period. There is nothing else that makes you think he is 41. He is a kid with the head of a kid. He only wants to play football as he did on the road years ago barefoot. That is the only thing he is focused on and being a talent because he is a talent."

Long lines as Spanish supermarket offers free bread and water to customers

A supermarket in Valencia is flooded with desperate customers every time it offers 200 free bottles of water and bread baguettes at 9 o’clock in the morning.
Staff at the Eroski food store in Carcaixent (Valencia) have started handing out basic goods to customers as part of a campaign to help those struggling to make ends meet. The freebies are basic: one baguette and one bottle of water per customer.
The shoppers aren’t necessarily just homeless people as one might expect, but customers who regularly buy at the supermarket and have to show a bill from a previous shop at the same store.
“A line forms before we open up the store, people want to make sure they get their basic goods,” an Eroski manager said. “Others who notice the line outside the supermarket don’t mind waiting in line for a while either as soon as they find out there’s free bread and water.” Every Tuesday, the line of students, housewives, pensioners and ordinary folk keeps getting bigger.

Did you know ...

That 26 children or teens have died in Florida stand your ground vases

That I can't believe it's not kristallnacht

Man hospitalized after being hit by falling 'under the weather' NHS sign dislodged by gales

A man was taken to hospital with head injuries after violent winds ripped a large advertising hoarding from the side of a building and brought it crashing down on top of him.Shoppers rushed to the injured man's aid after the solid wooden board was blown down in Fosse Road North, Leicester, at about 3.50pm on Wednesday. The heavy 15ft x 30ft NHS sign, which advises people to see their GP if they are feeling "under the weather", was brought down by gales which reached 59mph.
First aider Nick Pridden was at the scene when the hoarding fell and said the man, believed to be between 40 and 50, was left conscious but dazed. "He'd gone into the chemist to tell them the sign was flapping about and came out to look at it with the owner," said Mr Pridden.
"As the two of them were standing there it came down and hit him – it missed her by inches. She was very shaken afterwards and very lucky, too. He had a nasty gash on his head and was treated by paramedics and taken to the Leicester Royal Infirmary." No information about the man's condition has been released.

San Francisco police beat up and detain Good Samaritans who call 911 and perform first aid on accident victim

Peretz Partensky and his friend had just had a dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco's SOMA district when they happened on an injured woman who had fallen off her bicycle. They called 911 and performed first aid while they waited for emergency services. When the police got there, they beat up Partensky's friend and detained him, and when Partensky objected, they cuffed, brutalized and arrested him. Injured and in an holding cell, she asked to see a doctor, and the SFPD deputies on duty at the jail stripped him naked and threw him in solitary confinement and marked him as a candidate for psychiatric evaluation. 
Partensky complained to the SF Office of Citizen Complaints, documenting him plight in eye-watering detail (Partensky works for a company that supplies software to the restaurant on whose doorstep the entire incident took place, and they were happy to hand him CCTV footage of the incident). The entire procedure then went dark, because in San Francisco, you aren't allowed to know what happens to police officers who beat you up, thanks to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.
One of the officers who harassed, beat, and wrongfully arrested Partensky, Paramjit Kaur, is already the subject of a civil rights suit. The other SFPD personnel who attacked and arrested the Good Samaritans are Officers Gerrans and Andreott.
For Partensky, the take-away message is clear: if you see someone who needs medical assistance, don't call 911, because the police might come and beat you up. Instead, help that person get to the hospital in a taxi.
In the hope that it might help some other idealistic, nerdy people from following me down that rabbit hole, I conclude with several public service announcements:
* Don’t call 911. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the sad lesson is, there are fewer than you’d think.
* Call Lyft to take you to the hospital. (Worked well when I broke my elbow.)
* Take such incidents to trial, where justice isn’t veiled by the POBAR. It’s not a matter of litigious vindictiveness. It’s just the only available way. The SF Office of Citizen Complaints is not a valid alternative.
* Consider wearing a video camera at all times. It has been shown that when police wear cameras and are aware of being filmed, it moderates their behavior. As self reports of the need to use force decrease, so do complaints.

Man called 911 because the zipper on his wife's jacket was stuck and she couldn't get it off

A man in Washington County called 911 recently because the zipper was stuck on his wife’s jacket and she couldn't get it off.
The man told the dispatcher that he didn’t want to ruin the jacket and needed help.
Mark Chandler, a spokesman for the dispatch centre, said a fire crew responded to help the man and his wife.
The fire department rescued the woman and saved the jacket.
You can listen to the 911 call here. (Link goes directly to mp3 file).

Trail of footprints in the snow led police to burglary suspect

Police in Atlanta were able to find their way straight to a suspected burglar’s door on Thursday by following footprints he'd left in the snow. Kenneth Ray Evans, 58, was arrested and charged with burglary.
A burglar alarm triggered at around 3:30am led police officers to K&K Soul Food in northwest Atlanta. The place had been temporarily closed because of a fire, but officers arrived to find tire tracks and the impressions of footsteps leading away from the scene, police spokesman Officer John Chafee said.
Police followed the tracks to a house about a mile away. They entered the home to find a gas generator and an air compressor, and Evans asleep on the sofa. The tread on the wheels of the generator matched the tire tracks they’d followed to the house, and soles of Evans’ shoes were identical with the footprints, Chafee said.
And his shoes were still wet, police said. When Evans told officers he’d brought the machines from his work site, they checked and found no evidence supporting his claim. Evans was arrested. He remains in the Fulton County Jail awaiting a hearing to set his bond.
There's a news video here.

Trucker caught drunk driving twice within hours had 3 or 4 beers 'to stay sharp' after first offense

One drunken driving citation didn't faze a beer-loving trucker in western Sweden, who opted to stay on the road and crack open a few more. The trucker's legal troubles began when he was stopped on Monday at a police checkpoint on the E20 motorway outside of Alingsås.
Police found four empty beer cans in the cab. A breath test revealed that the man was over the legal limit. The trucker was promptly fined 4,000 kronor (£370, $620) and had his license revoked. Despite the midday run-in with the law, the trucker remained determined to reach the ferry home to Tallinn.
But at 11pm that evening, concerned motorists on the E20 called the police to report a truck that was being driven erratically. Police pulled over the truck only to find the same truck driver that they had stopped just hours before behind the wheel. After finding that the man had a blood alcohol level more than seven times the legal limit, police took the Estonian truck driver in for questioning.
The man explained that after being stopped the first time, he decided to down three or four more beers in order to stay sharp. The alcohol, he claimed, did not adversely affect his driving. Police were not swayed by the trucker's claims, however. He has since been charged for aggravated drunken driving and for driving without a licence and is due to appear at the Skaraborg District Court.

Driving instructor banned after 120mph four-mile dash to the toilet

A driving instructor led traffic police on a four-mile pursuit in which he reached speeds of up to 120mph - because he was desperate to get to the toilet. Aberdeenshire man Andrew Paton claimed he needed the loo so badly that he drove past a police stop at 86mph and proceeded to accelerate even further.
Paton, 49, was convicted of dangerous driving on Tuesday after a trial heard evidence from the traffic police involved, Forfar-based road policing unit officers Willie Strachan and Peter Fraser, that the accused had undertaken a car near Bogindollo before braking sharply. He only slowed his grey Audi A4 down so as not to trigger a speed camera near Finavon, then saw a police car labor to catch up.
Forfar Sheriff Court was shown a DVD of the chase, including an end segment in which Paton expressed difficulty leaving his car. “I think it’s obvious from the video that there was something very wrong with my nether regions,” he told the court. Paton said he had been driving at around 85mph when his stomach began cramping, and he accelerated faster to get to Peggy Scott’s restaurant at Finavon.
Paton, of Badenscoth Cottages, Rothienorman, had denied charges of driving with excessive speed, 120mph where the legal limit is 70mph, on the A90 between the Forestmuir flyover and the Oathlaw junction, on April 21 last year. Sheriff Valerie Johnston found Paton guilty and disqualified him from driving for two years, with a £350 fine.

Chinese man fined for driving fake Mercedes

A Chinese man who adapted his car to resemble a Mercedes-Benz in order to appear more successful has been fined for illegally modifying his vehicle, which was later seized by the police.
The man, surnamed Zhuo, in Fuzhou, Fujian Province of China was pulled over by police for driving without license plates last week. Upon further inspection, the police found that the car was registered as a BYD, a budget Chinese sedan.
It was later decorated with Mercedes emblems and bonnet ornament. Zhou admitted that he disguised his car as a Mercedes to seem more successful in the eyes of his relatives and friends.
Police impounded Zhuo's car and confiscated his license. He was additionally fined 1,700 yuan (£170, $ 280) for driving without plates and illegally modifying his vehicle.



Archaeologists and chemists trace diets of ancient Britain

The change by our ancestors from hunter-gathers to farmers is one of the most intensively researched aspects of archaeology. Now a large-scale investigation of British archaeological sites dating from around 4,600 BC to 1,400 AD has examined millions of fragments of bone and analyzed over 1,000 cooking pots.
Archaeologists and chemists trace diets of ancient Britain Early Neolithic Carinated Bowl from Knocknab, Dumfries & Galloway, one of several analyzed by researchers from the University of Bristol for a study which found that ancient Britons abandoned a fish diet for one based around milk and meat

 The team, led by Professor Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol's School of Chemistry, developed new techniques in an effort to identify fish oils in the pots. Remarkably, they showed that more than 99 per cent of the earliest farmer's cooking pots lacked sea food residues.
Other clues to ancient diets lie within human bones themselves, explored by the Cardiff group led by Dr Jacqui Mulville. The sea passes on a unique chemical signature to the skeletons of those eating seafood; while the early fisher folk possessed this signature it was lacking in the later farmers.
Lead author of the study, Dr Lucy Cramp said: "The absence of lipid residues of marine foods in hundreds of cooking pots is really significant. It certainly stacks up with the skeletal isotope evidence to provide a clear picture that seafood was of little importance in the diets of the Neolithic farmers of the region."
Returning to the pots, the Bristol team used a compound-specific carbon isotope technique they have developed to identify the actual fats preserved in the cooking pots, showing that dairy products dominated the menu right across Britain and Ireland as soon as cattle and sheep arrived.
The ability to milk animals was a revolution in food production as, for the first time humans did not have to kill animals to obtain food. As every farmer knows, milking stock requires a high level of skill and knowledge.
 In view of this, team member, Alison Sheridan from the National Museum of Scotland concludes that: "The use of cattle for dairy products from the earliest Neolithic confirms the view that farming was introduced by experienced immigrants."
Viewed together the findings show that Early British hunters feasted on venison and wild boar and ate large quantities of sea food, including seals and shellfish. With the introduction of domestic animals some 6,000 years ago they quickly gave up wild foods and fishing was largely abandoned, and people adopted a new diet based around dairying. Dr Cramp continued: "Amazingly, it was another 4,000 years before sea food remains appeared in pots again, during the Iron Age, and it was only with the arrival of the Vikings that fish became a significant part of our diet." Dr Mulville said: "Whilst we like to think of ourselves as a nation of fish eaters, with fish and chips as our national dish, it seems that early British farmers preferred beef, mutton and milk."
Why people changed so abruptly from a seafood to farming diet remains a mystery. Professor Evershed said: "Since such a clear transition is not seen in the Baltic region, perhaps the hazardous North Atlantic waters were simply too difficult to fish effectively until new technologies arrived, making dairying the only sustainable option."

Recent decades likely wettest in four millennia in Tibet

Recent decades may have been the wettest in 3,500 years in North East Tibet – according to climate researchers at the University of East Anglia (UK) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Lanzhou, China).
Researchers looked at 3,500-year-long tree ring records from North East Tibet to estimate annual precipitation. They found that recent decades have likely been the wettest on record in this semi-arid region. The precipitation records have been reconstructed using sub-fossil, archaeological and living juniper tree samples from the north-eastern Tibetan Plateau. They reveal a trend towards wider growth rings, implying moister growing conditions – with the last 50 years seeing increasing amounts of rainfall.
Notable historical dry periods occurred in the 4th Century BC and in the second half of the 15th Century AD. Dr Tim Osborn from UEA’s Climatic Research Unit said: “Our collaboration with scientists from China has been very fruitful, leading to what is currently the longest tree-ring-width record in the cold and arid north-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Not only is the record very long, it is based on samples from more than 1000 trees, some of which have an individual lifespan of more than 2000 years.
These are among the longest-lived trees in the world.” Not only are these trees long-lived, but they are useful for understanding how climate has changed. The widths of the tree rings show a close correspondence with observations from rain gauges over the last 55 years, such that tree rings in wetter years tend to be wider than tree rings in drier years.
Dr Osborn said: “The most recent few decades have, on average, the widest rings in the 3,500-year record which suggests that this may have been the wettest period, perhaps associated with global warming during the last century. Indeed, over the last two thousand years when the Northern Hemisphere is warm it appears to be wetter in the Mountains of North East Tibet.
This suggests that any further large-scale warming might be associated with even greater rainfall in this region – though we note that other factors could also have contributed to the increased ring widths.”

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

The 377-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is delivering electricity to California customers. It is the world's largest solar thermal facility located in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. The facility, which is a joint effort of NRG, Google, and BrightSource Energy, will produce enough clean, renewable electricity to power 140,000 homes.
Enjoy a virtual tour the of world's largest solar plant.

Fusion? Fusion! Fusion.

Yes, there is big news out of nuclear fusion energy research this week. For the first time, scientists at the National Ignition Facility created more energy via fusion than they used to start the reaction. This is a big deal for anybody dreaming of futuristic sustainable energy. That said, the reaction time was shorter than the blink of an eye and it's a far from the long-hoped-for "ignition" — the point at which a controlled fusion reaction can sustain itself without more energy being poured in. But it's still really cool. David Biello at Scientific American has a good piece with lots of numbers and nuance.

The Arctic Sea Ice Melt Season Is Getting Longer

The summer melt season for Arctic sea ice has lengthened by a month or more since 1979, a new study finds.
The primary culprit is a delayed fall freeze-up — the autumn chill when sea water freezes into ice — but the fallout remains the same: the Arctic ice cap is stuck in a vicious feedback loop betwixt its warming environment and melting ice, researchers reported Feb. 4 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on Earth. Temperatures here are rising twice as fast as the global average. As the atmosphere warms, the Arctic ice cap has shrunk by 12 percent per decade since 1978, when scientists started tracking ice with satellites, according to NASA. The seven lowest September ice extents (a measure of the total ice cover) have been in past 10 years, including 2013.
As the ice cover gets smaller, the amount of heat absorbed by the Arctic Ocean rises. Bright, white ice reflects most of the sun's energy, but the darker ocean water soaks it up.
"The ocean has gained so much heat it takes a while to release it," said lead study author Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "That's delaying the autumn freeze-up."
In the past decade, the additional heat stored in the upper ocean has increased Arctic sea surface temperatures by 0.9 degrees to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius), Stroeve and her colleagues report. These warmer ocean temperatures prolong the summer melt season because the ocean must fall below about 29 F (minus 1.9 C) before new sea ice forms.
In the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, Chukchi and Beaufort seas, the fall freeze now comes between six and 11 days later each decade since 1979. The researchers found a similar trend in the East Greenland and Barents seas, where the fall freeze may now be delayed by as much as 40 days per decade.
Oil and gas companies are already exploiting this delay by pushing for drilling leases that allow extraction and exploration well into autumn, Stroeve said. But year-to-year ice conditions can still vary dramatically.
Stroeve notes that while the overall trend is for less sea ice and a longer summer melt season, within the Arctic, ocean and weather conditions can influence how much ice is present. For instance, ice cover in the Bering Sea has increased by 20 percent in recent years, the study finds. Winds pushing sea ice south into the Bering Sea may be the cause, though scientists are still debating the reasons for the added ice cover here.
Stroeve plans further work to investigate whether the spring warming is caused by an increase in atmospheric moisture, which means more clouds and solar radiation absorption, or whether warm air coming from the south plays a role. She also hopes to track ice thickness. In the 1980s, 70 percent of the Arctic ice cap was thick, multiyear ice, which survives the summer melting. By the end of 2012, less than 20 percent of the ice cap was multiyear ice — most of the ice cover was seasonal ice, only a year old. The thinner seasonal ice melts faster.

Science News

Neoracism, or discrimination on the basis of genetics, is endemic in scientific research, bringing to mind slavery and Nazis, some experts say.
These deadly organisms can be tough to detect or kill. Still, the risk of infection remains low.
The discovery of the earliest-known human footprints outside Africa leads to a big question: How does carbon dating work? Trace is here to tell you all about carbon dating and other ways we can know the age of an object or fossil.

Astronomical News

Scientists have solved the mystery of the strange rock on Mars that suddenly appeared next to the Opportunity rover.
NASA's LADEE spacecraft has sent back its first close up looks at the lunar surface
Dear Science Communication Professionals: We have a problem. 
A strange ribbon of energy and particles at the edge of the solar system first spotted by a NASA spacecraft appears to serve as a sort of 'roadmap in the sky' for the interstellar magnetic field
New concerns about the world-ending potential of the second most powerful particle accelerator in the world stems from a misconception of "risk."

Daily Comic Relief


Ancient dog burial site found in Mexico City

This Jan. 17, 2014 image released by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, INAH), Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, shows canine skeletons unearthed by investigators in Mexico City. Archaeologists say they have discovered "an exceptional" burial site under an apartment building in Mexico City containing the remains of 12 dogs, animals that had a major religious and symbolic significance to the Aztec peoples of central Mexico. (AP Photo/INAH, Meliton Tapia) 
Archaeologists on Friday announced the discovery of "an exceptional" ancient burial site under an apartment building in Mexico City containing the remains of 12 dogs, animals that had a major religious and symbolic significance to the Aztec peoples of central Mexico. Previously, the remains of dogs have been found accompanying human remains or as part of offerings, experts with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, said in a statement. But this is the first time a group of dogs has been found buried together at one site.
"This is definitely a special finding because of the number of dogs and because we have found no connection to a building or with the deceased," said archaeologist Rocio Morales Sanchez.
Aztecs believed dogs could guide human souls into a new life after death on earth, and could guard pyramids and other monuments when buried under them.
The dogs were buried at around the same time in a small pit between 1350 a 1520 A.D., the heyday of the Aztec empire.
The team of archaeologists determined when the dogs were buried through ceramics and other items found in nearby pits under the apartment building in the populous Mexico City borough of Aztacapozalco, Sanchez Morales said.
Michael E. Smith, an anthropology professor at Arizona State University who was not involved in the project, said the discovery is important because it is the first such find.
"This is not the first time a burial of a dog has been found, but it is the first find where many dogs were carefully buried together, in a setting that is like a cemetery," Smith said.
Morales Sanchez said they will need to dig deeper to see if there are other items that could help them find out why the animals were buried in that area.
Smith said it will be important to see the results of the analysis of the bones.
"That work will tell us about the breed of these dogs, and it may tell us how they were killed," he said. "The full significance of the finds is rarely obvious at time of excavation; the analysis will give the full story."
Archaeologist Antonio Zamora, who works at the excavation site, said a biologist told the team the remains belonged to medium-sized dogs with full sets of teeth, likely common dogs.
Aztecs kept pets Techichi dogs, a breed with short legs believed to be an ancestor of the Chihuahua dog, and Xoloitzcuintlis (shoh-loh-eets-KWEEN'-tlees), whose remains can be identified because of the loss of some of their teeth during adult age.

Romania to debate giving human rights to dolphins

Remus Cernea is pushing a cause that he acknowledges few of his fellow Romanian lawmakers care about: giving dolphins the same rights as humans. The 39-year-old activist politician introduced a bill in parliament last week that would recognize the marine mammals as "non-human persons", on account of their highly developed intelligence, personalities and behavior patterns.
The bill, which will be debated in the Romanian upper house in the coming weeks, would make humans and dolphins equal before the law. Dolphin killers would be given the same sentences as murderers of human beings. The bill would also ban the use of dolphins in live entertainment shows. The aim of the bill is to help protect Romania's indigenous dolphins in the Black Sea, Cernea said.
It would also add the country's voice to a global movement against dolphin killings. "At this moment, I have no support," Cernea said. "This law asks you to make a huge step, philosophically speaking, to understand and to accept that somehow there is another species which is quite similar as we are," he added. His constituency, Constanta, is on a strip of coastline where dolphins get entangled in fishing nets and are found dead in their dozens.
The city is also home to the only two dolphins in Romania kept in captivity, both bought from China in 2010. At Constanta's dolphinarium, to the sound of blaring music, the dolphins practice tricks in a green indoor pool, such as balancing balls on their noses and prodding them through hoops. Each trick is rewarded with fish from a bucket. Cernea likens the pool to a prison - a view that brought a sharp rebuke from the dolphinarium's scientific director, Nicolae Papadopol. "Romania had good enough laws to protects its dolphins without Cernea's bill", Papadopol said, adding that the dolphin trick shows have been a source of Romanian pride.

Two women arrested for Animal Rescue League puppy snatching after being caught on camera

A puppy stolen from the Animal Rescue League in Pittsburgh earlier this week has been found. It was all caught on the animal shelter’s surveillance video and officials from the facility were very concerned about the animal and where it was taken.
Nicole Deusanio, 26, and Kayla Pint, 25, had gone into the East Liberty shelter to inquire about adopting a dog. Police say the women, who had a small child with them, thought no one was looking when they scooped the Pit Bull-Labrador puppy up and hid him in a sweatshirt. However, the shelter’s surveillance cameras were rolling the whole time.
Police Officer James Ilgenfritz saw a link to the surveillance video on a friend’s Facebook page and thought he recognized one of the women. He was on his way to her house when Pittsburgh Police said they too had been given the same name from a tipster. When Ilgenfritz got to the Homestead residence, the two women knew it was over.

“Both females from the video were there. They advised me that they knew we were looking for them,” said Officer Ilgenfritz. The duo told officers they were hoping for leniency, so they’d sent a friend to return the puppy. Officer Ilgenfritz took the women and the puppy and turned them both over to Pittsburgh Police. The women are now in jail.
There's a follow-up news video here.

Horse who moved into owner's home during storm doesn't want to leave

A horse who was brought into his owner's house during a storm more than two months ago has decided to stay long-term. The four-legged guest moved into his owner’s house in Holt, close to Flensburg in northern Germany at the start of December when a storm hit the area.
And Nasar the horse has been a regular visitor ever since at Stephanie Arndt’s home. “He is not a fan of the wind and the rain,” Arndt said. What was meant to be a short-term stay during the storm has now become normal as the horse comes by to wander around the rooms and investigate his owner’s home.
The animal is highly inquisitive about everything, but has caused little damage apart from the odd broken cup. “Nasar is extremely curious“, Arndt said. Nasar also has his own private room with hay, where he can be on his own. The three-year-old animal seems to prefer the comforts of a furnished room to his field and has abandoned his own kind in favor of spending time with human comforts.

He has also picked up some human habits such as eating sweets and playing the keyboard. The horse is also partial to fruit juice, which Stephanie gives him out of a glass. But Nasar is not allowed to spend the whole time in the house. In the evening he must leave the warmth of the home and head back to his stable with the other horses.

Runaway camel attacked people and cars in California

An aggressive camel went on the run from a rural property outside Los Angeles on Friday morning, terrorizing locals and motorists for a half hour before it was corralled.
The humped beast's rampage began at around 8:30am when it broke free from its enclosure on a property in Acton and began chasing people and attacking cars, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in Palmdale said.
"It was chasing people, chasing cars, acting crazy. It bit a guy in the head," Deputy Sheriff John Cereoli said. Cereoli said the man was taken to a hospital, but had no information about his injuries.
Sheriff's deputies and firefighters captured the runaway camel on a neighbor's property at 9:15am, and it was briefly returned to its pen before county animal control officials took custody of it. The camel's owner may be cited for endangering residents.
There's a short news video here.

Animal Pictures