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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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Daily Drift

Wingnuts and reality - never the twain to meet ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 195 countries around the world daily

Hey, Bartender ... !
Today is - World Bartender Day

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Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Tijuana and Mexico City, Mexico
Templeton, Britannia, Sioux Lookout, Pikangikum, Fredericton, Montreal and Thunder Bay, Canada
Medellin and Bogota, Colombia
Santiago, Chile
Lima, Peru
The Bottom, Sint Eustatius and Saba
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Astoria, Memphis, Syracuse, Auburn, Merrimack, Lewes, Atlanta, Pasadena, Tucson, Seattle, Malibu, Ashburn, Boloxi, Montara, Spokane, Boronda, Atmore and Colfax, United States
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Moscow, Ryazan and Novosibirsk, Russia
Maribor, Slovenia
Sofia and Varna, Bulgaria
Torshavn, Faroe Islands
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Ivrea, Rome and Milan, Italy
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Bergen and Oslo, Norway
Dublin, Ireland
Ostrava, Czech Republic
Rouen, France
Heviz and Budapest, Hungary
Teo and Madrid, Spain
Amsterdam and Groningen, Netherlands
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Sarajevo and Hadzici, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Belgrade, Serbia
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Manila, Quezon City and Calamba, Philippines
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Greymouth, New Zealand

Today in History

786 Pepin the Short of Gaul dies. His dominions are divided between his sons Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman.
1525 In the first of the Franco-Habsburg Wars, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V captures the French king Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, Italy.
1538 Ferdinand of Hapsburg and John Zapolyai, the two kings of Hungary, conclude the peace of Grosswardein.
1803 Chief Justice John Marshall, by refusing to rule on the case of Marbury vs. Madison, asserts the authority of the judicial branch.
1813 Off Guiana, the American sloop Hornet sinks the British sloop Peacock.
1821 Mexico gains independence from Spain.
1836 Some 3,000 Mexicans launch an assault on the Alamo with its 182 Texan defenders.
1895 The Cuban War of Independence begins.
1908 Japan officially agrees to restrict emigration to the U.S.
1912 Italy bombs Beirut in the first act of war against the Ottoman Empire.
1912 The Jewish organization Hadassah is founded in New York City.
1914 Civil War soldier Joshua Chamberlain dies.
1916 A film version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opens in New York.
1921 Herbert Hoover becomes Secretary of Commerce.
1928 The New Gallery of New York exhibits works of Archibald Motley, its first show to feature a black artist.
1944 Merrill's Marauders, a specially trained group of American soldiers, begin their ground campaign against Japan into Burma.
1945 U.S. forces liberate prisoners of war in the Los Baños Prison in the Philippines.
1947 Franz von Papen is sentenced to eight years in a labor camp for war crimes.
1959 Khrushchev rejects the Western plan for the Big Four meeting on Germany.
1968 North Vietnamese troops capture the imperial palace in Hue, South Vietnam.
1972 Hanoi negotiators walks out of the peace talks in Paris to protest U.S. air raids on North Vietnam.
1991 General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the coalition army, sends in ground forces during the Gulf War.

Non Sequitur


Stolen '57 Chevy comes back to owner 30 years later

by Justin Hyde 

If you're unlucky enough to have your car stolen, there's roughly an 80 percent chance that your car will be found. Those numbers paid off for a retired northern California mechanic when his stolen 1957 Chevy Bel Air was recovered by law enforcement — 30 years after it went missing, and in far better condition than when it was snatched.
As first reported by the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Ian "Skip" Wilson got a call three weeks ago from the California Highway Patrol asking after the Bel Air he reported stolen in 1984. Wilson told Yahoo Autos he had paid $375 for the car back in the '70s on the East Coast, and had driven it daily for years before someone swiped it in 1982. Wilson had gotten the car back that time without an engine, and was working on it when it was stolen again. 
"I always figured somebody local took it, cut it up and put it on the fairgrounds racetrack," Wilson said. "I never imagined it could end up in Los Angeles."
Yet the car that rolled back into his garage had been restored, repainted and rebuilt throughout, with a new 350 V-8 engine, custom leather interior and show-quality chrome. It had also somehow been legally bought and sold four times despite Wilson's theft report. The car was a couple of days from being shipped from Los Angeles to a new owner in Australia when U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents discovered its criminal history, seized it from a shipping container and turned it over to California officials to reunite Wilson with his car.
Wilson says after calling him, the authorities took some convincing before they would believe the car was his. In addition to retrieving the 30-year-old copy of his theft report, Wilson had to describe the car in detail — and succeeded only when he mentioned how it had a hole in the floor from the days when it was used by the previous owner to smuggle cigarettes. Even then, it took weeks of working through red tape before it landed in his driveway — the first time he laid eyes on it since it went missing.
"My friend who picked it up said 'Oh you're going to be happy when you see this,'" Wilson said.
In recent years border agents have seized a growing number of stolen vehicles heading out of the country, beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Wilson says he feels for whomever was supposed to own his Bel Air, for which he has now paid an additional $900 in hauling fees, and plans to let his grandchildren enjoy it as well. "I’ll never drive this car unless it's a beautiful sunny day," he said. "It’s just unbelievable."

The Dalai Lama's secret to happiness in 140 characters

The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet has over 8 million Twitter followers, but he confesses he has never personally tweeted, explaining with his characteristic laugh that his fingers aren’t well-equipped for such modern technology. But he has no problem summing up the answer to happiness in 140 characters or less.
“More compassionate mind, more sense of concern for other's well-being, is source of happiness,” he said during a rare interview with “Politics Confidential” when asked how to sum up his philosophy for happiness in the form of a tweet.
Self-centered attitudes, he said, are at the root of unhappiness and human suffering.
“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation,” he said. “Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.”
It’s been 54 years since the Dalai Lama – escaping persecution by the Chinese government—fled from his native country of Tibet for India, where he still lives today in exile. There is still no sign that the Chinese government will grant a level of autonomy to Tibet, let alone independence. And President Obama reiterated in a statement following a meeting with the Dalai Lama on Friday that “the United States does not support Tibet independence” and recognizes Tibet as part of China. Still, the Dalai Lama remains eternally optimistic on the topic.
Some officials in the Chinese government have characterized the Dalai Lama as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and one even called him a “demon.” But he merely laughs off such remarks: “Let them say whatever they like; the reality is reality.”
“Sometime a few years ago, some Chinese official described me as a demon. Then, you see, some reporter ask me, ‘what's my comment?’ Then I usually respond, ‘yes, I'm a demon with horns,” he said, moving his hands to look like horns on top of his head and laughing.
The Chinese government has also claimed that they will determine who will be the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, a process which is traditionally determined by certain religious leaders within the Buddhist religion.
The Dalai Lama, who is now 87 years old and still appears to be in good health, has a different plan for succession.
“The Tibetan people will need to determine who the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is,” he said and added that it’s possible that the Tibetan people could decide that he is the last Dalai Lama and determine that the institution is “no longer relevant.” So long as it is the Tibetan people’s decision, he said, “I’m happy.”
“Sometimes I, jokingly, say … ‘I think, at least, six centuries, the history of Dalai Lama institution, ended with present Dalai Lama -- quite popular!’” he said with laugh.
He also said that it’s “very possible” that the next Dalai Lama, if there is another reincarnation, could be a woman. He notes that women, biologically, are more sensitive to other’s suffering; and for that reason, it may be more useful under some circumstances to have a female Dalai Lama.
On the topic of stress and frustration, he said he’s “always relaxed” but admitted that “sometimes, little irritation comes” during delayed flights of his extensive international travel.
He recalled one occasion when he lost his temper with a reporter.
“One lady [in] our interview, and she ask me, ‘what you want legacy?’ And then I told, no, I'm Buddhist monk, Buddhist practitioner, should not think about my name, these things,” he recalled, and explained that the reporter went on to ask the same question again three times.
“Then, I lost my temper,” he said with another laugh.

Obama met with the Dalai Lama at White House - China pissed

Despite strong opposition from the Chinese government, Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama at the White House
The Chinese government considers the Tibetan spiritual leader a separatist, and bans open displays of his photograph in Tibet. In an article published in November, the top Communist Party official in Tibet signaled how China was planning to clamp down on the Dalai Lama’s ability to get his message out. “Strike hard against the reactionary propaganda,” Chen Quanguo, the party chief in Tibet, wrote in the party journal Qiushi. He said the government would confiscate illegal satellite dishes, heighten monitoring of online content and take other measures to prevent the dissemination of the Dalai Lama’s message in areas with Tibetan populations so that “the voice and image of the enemy forces and the Dalai clique are neither seen nor heard.”

4 ways the rich will pay more this tax season

by Jeanne Sahadi Thinkstock 
Thanks to the fiscal cliff deal and the Affordable Care Act, the top 1% of taxpayers - and many in the top 3% as well - will have to pay a bigger tax bill come April 15. That's because those laws included four key tax measures that went into effect for tax year 2013.
Who'll be hit hardest? Those who make 7-figures with substantial wage and investment income.
Households with incomes over $1 million could pay about $170,000 more on average than they did in tax year 2012, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center.
Those making between $500,000 and $1 million would likely pay an average of $15,000 more.
Plenty of taxpayers with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000 also could be affected by some of the changes.
Here's where the increases will come from:
1. Higher top income tax rate
For those with taxable income over $400,000 ($450,000 if married), their top income tax rate is now 39.6%, up from 35% previously.
2. Higher capital gains and dividend tax rates
For those making over $400,000 ($450,000 if married), their rate on dividends and long-term capital gains is now 20%, up from 15% previously.
3. Higher Medicare taxes
For those making over $200,000 ($250,000 if married), their Medicare taxes will go up on their wages and, for the first time, their investment income will be subject to a Medicare tax as well.
On wages: They will pay another 0.9 percentage points of Medicare tax on wage income over $200,000 ($250,000 if married). That's on top of the 1.45% Medicare tax that they must pay on all their wages (or 2.9% if they're self-employed).
So, for example, a single bank executive making $500,000 in wages - which is $300,000 above the applicable threshold - would have to pay an additional $2,700 in Medicare taxes (0.9% x $300,000)
On investments: Some or all of their taxable capital gains, dividends, interest, rental income and annuities will be subject to a 3.8% Medicare tax. But just how much will be subject to tax will take some figuring. Good thing they can afford an accountant.
Here's how it would work: The 3.8% tax applies to whichever is less -- their taxable investment income or the amount that their modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds the $200,000/$250,000 threshold.
Say a married couple has a modified AGI of $350,000 - which exceeds the applicable threshold by $100,000 - and investment income of $150,000. They'd owe the 3.8% surtax on the lesser of those two. So their additional tax would be $3,800 (3.8% x $100,000).
It will come as a relief to many that capital gains from a home sale up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a married couple remain tax free.
4. Limits on deductions
For those whose AGI is over $250,000 ($300,000 if married) they could see the value of their personal exemptions and certain itemized deductions reduced because Congress reinstated the so-called PEP and Pease limitations.
Personal exemptions are reduced by 2% for each $2,500 that one's AGI tops the $250,000/$300,000 threshold.
The value of certain itemized deductions is reduced by 3% of the amount that one's AGI tops the income threshold. But the total reduction may not exceed 80% of the deductions' value.

Playing Chess in a Minefield

Simultaneous rebellions in Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand point to a history of revolutionary waves that can cross continents and oceans.

The Global Implications of the Ukraine Conflict

by Uwe Klussmann
 Chess in a Minefield: The Global Implications of the Ukraine Conflict
The bloody conflict in Ukraine could trigger yet another confrontation between the West and Russia. Dominance in Europe is at stake on the geopolitical chess board. While Ukraine itself could descend into civil war. More

Germany arrests 3 Auschwitz guard suspects

Undated file photo shows the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, in Poland, which was liberated by the Russians, in January 1945. Writing over the gate reads: "Arbeit macht frei" (Work liberates). German prosecutors have arrested three elderly men on suspicion they served as guards at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp. Stuttgart prosecutors' spokeswoman Claudia Krauth said Thursday Feb. 20, 2014 the three men, aged 88, 92 and 94, were all taken to a prison hospital where they will be held as the investigation continues. The men, whose names were not released, are all suspected of accessory to murder as guards at the death camp in occupied Poland. They are part of a group of some 30 suspected former Auschwitz guards that German federal prosecutors recommended charges against last September. (AP Photo,File)  
German police on Thursday raided the homes of nine elderly men suspected of serving as SS guards at the Auschwitz death camp and arrested three of them on allegations of accessory to murder. The arrests came five months after federal authorities announced they would investigate former guards at Auschwitz and other Nazi-era death camps. Their effort was inspired by the precedent-setting trial of former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in 2012 in a Bavarian nursing home while appealing his conviction on charges he served at the Sobibor camp.
"This is a major step," said Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, when told of the arrests. "Given the advanced age of the defendants, every effort should be made to expedite their prosecution."
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in any specific killing.
Munich prosecutors successfully argued that anyone who was involved in operating a death camp was an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk maintained he had been mistaken for someone else and never served as a guard.
Following the Munich precedent, Germany's special federal prosecutors' office responsible for investigating Nazi war crimes announced in September it was recommending charges against about 30 suspected former Auschwitz guards. State prosecutors since have worked to build cases.
The three men arrested, aged 88, 92 and 94, all live in state of Baden Wuerttemberg in southwest Germany. They were taken to a prison hospital, Stuttgart prosecutors' spokeswoman Claudia Krauth said.
Krauth said officials had yet to uncover enough evidence to merit the arrests of three other suspects aged 94, 91 and 90.
She said authorities seized "diverse papers and documents from the Nazi era" from the suspects' homes. She declined to provide details.
Five men made no statements, while the 88-year-old admitted being a guard at Auschwitz but denied committing any crimes, Krauth said.
Prosecutors in Frankfurt said more documents and photographs were seized during raids on the homes of two men aged 89 and 92 in the neighboring state of Hesse. A spokeswoman, Doris Mueller-Scheu, said neither suspect was arrested nor made statements.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, state police said they raided the apartment of a 92-year-old man who admitted being an Auschwitz guard but denied participating in any crimes. They found no incriminating material during the search.
The Nazis built six main death camps, all in occupied Poland: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka.
About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945. Overall, about 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.
Since handing off the Auschwitz cases to state prosecutors, federal authorities say they are focusing on identifying guards from other camps, starting with Majdanek. Results of that investigation are expected in a few months.

'We Don't Pursue Nazis, We Pursue Murderers'

by Benjamin Schulz
War Crimes Investigations: 'We Don't Pursue Nazis, We Pursue Murderers'
German prosecutors are currently looking in to pressing charges against several men believed to have been accomplices to murder at Auschwitz. Some in Germany are asking if justice can still be served almost 70 years after the war. More

Should California be Split Into Six?

Is California too large to be governed? Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper thought so, that's why he proposed to split the Golden State into six separate states.
"California as it is is ungovernable," Draper told ABC News, "It is more and more difficult for Sacramento to keep up with the social issues from the various regions of California. With six Californias, people will be closer to their state governments, and states can get a refresh."
Draper also noted that California, which is the most populous state in the United States, got only two senators representing it in Washington DC.
Draper's proposal includes splitting California into Jefferson in the far north, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California. Silicon Valley, some people pointed out, not only got to be its own state (how convenient!), but will also have the nation's highest per capita personal income. Compare that to neighboring Central California, which would have the nation's lowest.
Draper's plan is controversial, but he's got permission from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to start collecting petition signatures to qualify for a ballot. A total of 807, 615 registered voters need to sign Draper's Six Californias plan in 150 days before it can be put on the next state election.
What do you think? Should California be split into six? Or perhaps we should just wait for the big earthquake to tear California off the west coast into its own island nation?

Austin cops violently crack down on scourge on anonymous jaywalking

Jonl sez, "Streets near the University of Texas at Austin today are safer, thanks to quick and effective action by the local police, who caught and arrested a jogger, observed wearing a pony tail, black shorts, and a headset in the area. She was apparently menacing traffic by crossing the street in a manner construed as 'jaywalking,' however her apparent arrest was due to her failure to provide identification: i.e., she was guilty not just of jaywalking, but of anonymous jaywalking."

Kansas lawmaker introduces bill to permit teachers to hit children hard enough to bruise

Gail Finney introduced a law that would expand Kansas's already broad protection for teachers who hit their students, making it legal to hit children hard enough to leave a bruise. Finney said that teachers and parents needed to bruise the children in their care because "some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents, they're not minding school personnel."
The research on hitting children is pretty clear: it doesn't work. The bill would allow teachers and administrators to hit children, even those over 18, with permission from their parents -- legalizing the restraint and violent assault of a legal adult by a government agent.
A Kansas lawmaker has introduced a bill allowing parents, caregivers, and school officials to give harder spankings. The Sunflower State is already one of 20 (mostly Southern) states in which children can be hit as long as no mark or bruise remains afterward, but this proposed law would protect adults who strike kids forcefully enough to cause redness or discoloration. The woman behind the measure is Wichita’s Gail Finney, a mother of three sons. She outlined her objectives for the Wichita Eagle: to define corporal punishment for the judicial system, to restore parental rights, and to shield old-school disciplinarians from child abuse charges. “What’s happening is there are some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents, they’re not minding school personnel,” Finney said. Even with “a small amount of a bruise, a parent could still be charged with child abuse when it wasn’t anything serious.”

You Got To Be Fracking Kidding ME!

Exxon Mobil's CEO opposes fracking regulations and claims environmental concerns are overblown, but when another fracking company proposed to start drilling near his $5 million horse ranch, he filed a lawsuit to stop them. 


The trick to making sausage healthier may be baby poop, researchers say.

5 Common Things That Will Kill You

You go about your life day-to-day thinking that you're...relatively safe, right? Well, you're wrong! Laci breaks down a list of five things that you're around every day that could kill you!

What happens when you spill mercury all over your school bus?

Last September, an elementary school student in North Carolina brought a pound of mercury on board a school bus. The kids played with it, as kids are wont to do, and then spilled it all over the bus floor. The result: A thorough scrubbing for the kids and for the bus ... the crusher

PCBs Banned for Decades but Still Lurking in Some Yellow Products

by Sarah B. Weir 
(photo by: Getty) Yellow is associated with smiley faces and sunshine but consumers might want to steer clear of certain products made in this happy-looking color. Polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of chemicals commonly known as PCBs, have been banned in the United States since 1979. However, new research shows that a form called PCB 11, which is found in yellow pigments commonly used in paint and for printing clothing and paper, is leeching into the air, water, and also into our blood streams. "People thought that PCB issues were solved and they could forget about it," lead author of the study Lisa Rodenburg, an associate professor of environmental chemistry at Rutgers University, tells Yahoo Shine. "But now we are finding new sources in the environment." The work has undergone peer review, and she hopes the team's findings will be published later this year.
While PCBs are one of the most widely studied group of chemical toxins, some forms, including PCB 11, have been considered relatively safe because they are metabolized and excreted far more quickly by the body than others. But Rodenburg says PCB 11 and similar forms haven't actually been studied enough to evaluate their potential level of toxicity in humans. "They could be as toxic [as the others, or] more toxic, we just don't know." PCB 11 is not subject to the same regulations as the banned forms of the compound because of a loophole in the law. The pigment industry was given an exemption for the chemical's unintentional production as a byproduct of the manufacturing process since PCB 11 occurs in particularly high levels in the pigment diarylide yellow. An EPA spokesperson confirmed to Scientific American that, "some products, pigments and dyes, contain inadvertently generated PCBs" and added that the health risks are currently under review by the agency. The older, illegal PCBs were found to cause cancer and damage the immune system, reproductive function, and neurological system, among other harmful effects.
Rodenburg was first alerted to the PCB 11 issue about six years ago while testing the water in the Delaware River Basin as part of an assessment required by the Clean Water Act. "We were using a [sensitive] new method developed by the EPA and kept wondering where all these PCBs were coming from," she says. Meanwhile, a colleague was finding "huge loads" coming out of a sewage treatment plant near the New York/New Jersey Harbor. What they determined was that PCB 11 was coming from yellow pigments both being manufactured and disposed of around those waterways. Even worse, other studies have found PCB 11 the blood of children and their mothers in rural Iowa and in air samples around elementary schools in Chicago. Now, much of the pigment manufacturing and printing happens in Asia, but people in the United States can be exposed to the chemical through touching it, breathing it in, or ingesting it, according to a 2010 study from the University of Iowa.
For the current study, Rodenburg and other researchers tested readily available consumer goods for the chemical. They found PCB 11 in all 16 pieces of yellow-printed clothing that they tested, most of them children's items. They also found it in all 28 ink-treated paper samples, including maps, glossy magazine advertisements, postcards, and colored newsprint, that were manufactured abroad. And it was in 15 out of 18 US-manufactured paper goods tested. According to other research, the chemical is also present in yellow paint.
To avoid exposure through clothing, Rodenburg says you can look at the flip side of a piece of fabric to see if its printed or dyed (dyed items pose less of a risk). She adds that she washes any new yellow-printed clothing a few times in hot water before giving it to her own three children (which she acknowledges won't keep it out of sewage treatment, but will keep if off kid's skin). "Paper products are a bigger problem," she says. At this point, there is no good substitute for yellow 12, the pigment used in ink. She hopes that, at a minimum, ink producers will lower the load in their formulas while we wait for more research to come out the potential harmful health effects of PCB 11.



The Mary Celeste

The Mary Celeste was found floating aimless and alone in the middle of the ocean. Her cargo was undisturbed and her crew had vanished without a trace.

Learn the True Story of the Mary Celeste - watch it online: Here

Medieval Manuscript Appears to Show a Man Playing Air Guitar

Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel jokes:
Medieval fact you didn't know: carefully monitored competitions of playing air-guitar were held annually
These competitions were instituted by Bill & Ted during their excellent adventure through time.
Assuming that I understand the annotation correctly, this image can be found in the Engelberg 3 manuscript, which is a Twelfth Century copy of part of the bible.

Voynich Manuscript partially decoded

The 600-year-old, strangely-illustrated Voynich Manuscript (which resides at Yale University) has been called the most mysterious manuscript in the world. Not a single word of the secret language has been decoded, at least not until now. Stephen Bax of the University of Bedfordshire says he has decoded ten words from the Voynich Manuscript. This seems to indicate that the document is not a hoax filled with nonsense words, as some scholars have concluded.
Stephen Bax, who teaches at the University of Bedfordshire, has produced a paper and a video where he details his theories on the text and provides translations of ten words from the manuscript, which are proper names of various plants that are depicted in the manuscript. Professor Bax explains, “I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script.
We have not yet watched Bax's 47-minute video, above.

Silver Hoop Earrings Found Among Ancient Treasure in biblical City

A jug containing silver earrings and ingots has been discovered at the ancient biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah in Israel.
Found to the north of a massive structure that may be a tower, the jug and its treasure appear to date back to about 3,200 years ago, long before minted coins were invented, archaeologists said. Curiously, they found no sign that the treasure was hidden, and no one appears to have gone back for it, they added.
"We found it in a small jug leaning against a wall, apparently on a dirt floor," said researchers Robert Mullins, Nava Panitz-Cohen and Ruhama Bonfil in an email to Live Science. "It didn't seem to have been deliberately hidden in a niche or any other hidey-hole."
Panitz-Cohen and Mullins are co-directors of an excavation at the ancient city in Israel that found the treasure last summer, and Bonfil is the excavation surveyor and researcher. They published their initial findings recently in the journal Strata.
Why the treasure was not retrieved, and apparently not even hidden, is a mystery. "Perhaps the family needed to leave their home suddenly and hoped to return to retrieve this jug and its contents, but were unable to," the researchers said. Afterward, "this area was covered by accumulating debris and earth over the centuries, [and] no one knew that the treasure was there," they added.
The "massive structure," as the researchers called it in their journal article, may be a tower that overlooked the Huleh Valley. At some point, the structure fell out of use, and the area to the north of it was used for homes. The treasure may date to that time.
The site, now called Tell Abil el-Qameh,was first identified as Abel Beth Maacah in the 19th century based on its location and historical accounts, although little excavation has been done there until now.
Silver treasure
When the treasure was discovered, the silver was bunched together in what looked like a big ball. After conservator Mimi Lavi, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, cleaned the ancient silver, the team saw that it consisted of five hoop earrings.
They also found an enigmatic silver object that looks like a twisted knot, as well as several ingots or scrap pieces of silver that would have been used for monetary transactions. At the time, the treasure was abandoned, minted coins had not been invented and the pieces of silver would have been used for trade.
The earrings could have been worn by men as well as women, the researchers noted. "We know from ancient iconography and from burials that men also wore jewelry, so it is possible that these were not just female ornaments," the researchers said.
A period of collapse
The period around 3,200 years ago was a time when many cities were destroyed and some civilizations collapsed. Ancient records indicate an enigmatic group called the "Sea People" descended on the Middle East, leading to chaos in the region, although they do not appear to have settled in the area of Abel Beth Maacah.
Archaeologists are unsure how these events affected Abel Beth Maacah or if they have any bearing on the silver treasure.
"It seems most likely that Canaanites were 'in charge' — or at least were the main inhabitants" — of Abel Beth Maacah, the researchers said. If the city did suffer any destruction, it could have been abandoned for a time and perhaps repopulated by returning Canaanites or by Israelite tribes. "Hopefully, next season, we will be closer to some answers," the researchers said of their forthcoming dig at the site.
Biblical city
The city was used for a long period of time after the silver treasure was abandoned and is mentioned several times in the Hebrew bible.
According to scripture, a Benjaminite named Sheba ben Bichri, who was rebelling against King David, took refuge in the city. A man named Joab pursued him there and laid siege. A "wise woman," as the text calls her, protested this action, saying Abel Beth Maacah is part of Israel.
"We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord's inheritance?" (From 2 Samuel 20:14-22, New International Version)
The siege ended when the city's inhabitants killed the rebel and threw his head from the wall. Some scholars believe that King David would have lived about 3,000 years ago, roughly two centuries after the silver treasure was abandoned. While the biblical story doesn't shed light on why the treasure was abandoned, it illustrates the importance of the city in the time to come.
Mullins is also a professor at Azusa Pacific University, and Panitz-Cohen and Bonfil are with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology.

Montana Boy Bones Show Ancestral Links to Europe

by Rex Dalton
Montana Boy: Bones Show Ancestral Links to Europe
Despite general resistance, representatives of tribes in the US recently gave their blessing for DNA analysis of the remains of a Stone Age child. Research conducted on the boy's genes indicate that Native Americans have European roots. More

Daily Comic Relief


Desert Breath

Seventeen years ago, the D.A.ST. Arteam built a huge art installation in the Sahara Desert. The project called Desert Breath is still there, and visible by satellite on Google Earth.
The artwork was a collaborative effort spanning two years between installation artist Danae Stratou, industrial designer Alexandra Stratou, and architect Stella Constantinides, and was meant as an exploration of infinity against the backdrop of the largest African desert. Covering an area of about 1 million square feet (100,000 square meters) the piece involved the displacement of 280,000 square feet (8,000 square meters) of sand and the creation of a large central pool of water.
Which brings up a question: who got the job of carrying water from the Red Sea to a desert art pool for seventeen years? See more pictures of Desert Breath and watch a video about it at Colossal.

Wild Trees Grow Up The Side Of High-Rises In Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s greenery doesn’t feel the need to stay confined to the undeveloped areas on the outskirts of the city, the plants there are ready to move in to a penthouse apartment of their own.
These highly adaptive trees have begun to grow on the sides of high-rise buildings all over Hong Kong, hanging on to the sides of concrete buildings by their roots. This incredible phenomenon, nature surviving despite human development, has been documented by photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagreze in a series called Wild Concrete.
It’s fascinating to see the roots trail up the side of a massive high-rise, imagining the tree climbing its way up the building year after year until it reaches the rooftop and achieves maximum sun exposure.

Organic Farms Can Pollute Too

Scientists found higher levels of nitrogen pollution beneath organic farms than farms using synthetic fertilizers.

Gourd Invasion Beat Europeans Across Atlantic

Bottle gourds' wild ancestors may have crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the currents that run from western Africa to the Caribbean and South America thousands of years before Europeans made similar voyages.

Animal News

A 46,000-square-kilometer ray and shark fishery in Indonesia is now a protected area.
It's no wonder that dogs understand us so well. We have a lot in common, even in terms of how our brains work, a study finds.
Mind control might not be a thing of the future, because researchers were able to achieve this with two monkeys! Anthony discusses what possible uses this technology could have in humans.
Resourceful ants know what to do during a flood: They build a raft and stick the queen right in the middle of it.

Animal Pictures