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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1570 Pope Pius V issues the bull Regnans in Excelsis which excommunicates Queen Elizabeth of England.
1601 Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex and former favorite of Elizabeth I, is beheaded in the Tower of London for high treason.
1642 Dutch settlers slaughter lower Hudson Valley Indians in New Netherland, North America, who sought refuge from Mohawk attackers.
1779 The British surrender the Illinois country to George Rogers Clark at Vincennes.
1781 American General Nathaniel Greene crosses the Dan River on his way to attack Cornwallis.
1791 President George Washington sign a bill creating the Bank of the United States.
1804 Thomas Jefferson is nominated for president at the Democratic-Republican caucus.
1815 Napoleon leaves his exile on the island of Elba, returning to France.
1831 The Polish army halts the Russian advance into their country at the Battle of Grochow.
1836 Samuel Colt patents the first revolving cylinder multi-shot firearm.
1862 Confederate troops abandon Nashville, Tennessee, in the face of Grant's advance. The ironclad Monitor is commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
1865 General Joseph E. Johnston replaces John Bell Hood as Commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
1904 J.M. Synge's play Riders to the Sea opens in Dublin.
1910 The Dalai Lama flees from the Chinese and takes refuge in India.
1919 Oregon introduces the first state tax on gasoline at one cent per gallon, to be used for road construction.
1913 The 16th Amendment to the constitution is adopted, setting the legal basis for the income tax.
1926 Poland demands a permanent seat on the League of Nations council.
1928 Bell Labs introduces a new device to end the fluttering of the television image.
1943 U.S. troops retake the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, where they had been defeated five days before.
1944 U.S. forces destroy 135 Japanese planes in Marianas and Guam.
1952 French colonial forces evacuate Hoa Binh in Indochina.
1956 Stalin is secretly disavowed by Khrushchev at a party congress for promoting the "cult of the individual."
1976 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states may ban the hiring of illegal aliens.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That an angry mob chased George Zimmerman out of Miami

That a breitbart editor can't do math

That shopping cart accidents increase to 66 per day

That the richest 20 Americans aren't makers - they're takers

That McDonald's fires employee for paying for firefighters meals

That photos surface showing the late Andrew Breitbart and James O'Keefe hanging out with white nationalists (AKA: NAZIS)

John Boehner Would Rather Commit Suicide Than Raise The Minimum Wage

Suicide is intentionally causing one’s own death and is usually committed out of despair that may be attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Human beings in the modern era may also be driven to take their own life due to seemingly overwhelming stress factors such as the inability to cope with interpersonal relationships or financial difficulties. Mental health experts are constantly making efforts to prevent suicides including limiting access to firearms, treating mental illness and drug misuse, and improving economic situations. For Speaker of the House John Boehner, it is the prospect of the government attempting to improve the economic situation of underpaid workers that drives him to consider suicide.
Boehner seriously wants Americans earning minimum wage to stay in poverty and has no plan to allow a vote on raising the minimum wage. When Boehner was head of the House Republican Conference in 1996, he said, “I’ll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum-wage bill” during an interview with the Weekly Standard.  Four months later President Bill Clinton signed a minimum wage increase of 90 cents from $4.25 per hour to $5.15 despite Boehner’s objections and suicide threat even though the bill contained Republican demands for tax breaks for businesses. Boehner voted against another wage hike in 2007 when Democrats took over the House that raised the minimum to its current rate of $7.25.
The only time Boehner voted to increase the minimum wage came in 2006, and that was because the legislation destined to fail. Boehner backed a measure that raised the minimum wage to $7.25 over three years, but it also included deep cuts to the estate tax that made the bill dead-on-arrival in the Senate. Boehner’s opposition to help hardworking Americans out of poverty is still so stressful he reiterated this past week that he would rather kill  himself than raise the minimum wage. If Boehner had his way, minimum wage workers would still be earning $4.25 per hour and it informs his desire to see a nation of peasants and big businesses posting more obscene profits than they already regularly record.
For over a year President Obama has sought Congress’s assistance in raising the federal minimum wage to help tens-of-millions of underpaid workers escape poverty, if only barely, and boost the economy because minimum wage workers would have more money to spend. During his Saturday radio address the President  called on Americans to plead with repugicans in Congress to raise the minimum wage and reiterated that raising the pathetic $7.25 minimum “would lift wages for more than 16 million Americans without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. But even though a majority of Democrats, independents and repugicans across the country support raising the minimum wage, repugicans in Congress don’t want to give it a vote.” However, it is highly likely that if the President called for eliminating the minimum wage or reducing it to $1.00 per hour, repugicans led by John Boehner would vote for it in a heartbeat to provide big businesses like Walmart and McDonald’s a giant boost to their bottom line.
The President is correct that there is overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage, but like anything this President and the American people want, repugicans serve higher powers and as slaves to big business Boehner will not allow a vote. The President recognizes the opposition in the House and told radio listeners that “Hardworking Americans deserve better than ‘no’. Let’s tell Congress to say ‘yes.’ Pass that bill. Give America a raise. Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty– and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead.” It is possible President Obama is unaware of Boehner’s suicidal tendencies at the mere mention of lifting Americans out of poverty, or the principle that hard-working Americans should not live in financial despair, but he is likely aware that Boehner and repugicans truly want a nation of peasants groveling before the rich for an existence that would drive lesser peoples to suicide.
It is true that Boehner and repugicans want the entire American workforce earning poverty wages and it has everything to do with their association and adoration of corporations funding lobbyists producing tainted economic reports detailing the existential threat to America if workers earn a penny more than poverty wages. One corporate-backed organization is the Employment Policies Institute wingnuts depend on to bolster their contention that a nation of peasants is key to a thriving economy. In fact, the group regularly produces reports warning that raising the minimum wage will severely damage the American economy and send poverty wage employees into deeper poverty. Last month during a briefing to Capitol Hill staffers, Joseph J. Sabia, an associate professor of economics at San Diego State University who has earned at least $180,000 in grant money from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) said “There is never a good time to raise the minimum wage, because you are not reaching the poor workers you want to help.” One wonders what perversion afflicts wingnut economists who claim raising poor workers’ minimum wages does not reach the poor workers earning minimum wages, but wingnut economists’ minds are perverse indeed and fit nicely with repugicans’ views of the poor.
The organization’s reports are generally prepared by outside academics like Sabia, and internal company documents show that members of the EPI team regularly discuss ways to massage academic data to change outcomes when they benefit corporate-backed projects such as thwarting a hike in the minimum wage. The man leading EPI, Richard Berman, said “I get very upset when people say we are putting out junk science and twisted economics, because that happens to be our criticism of other people,” and yet Berman’s group used seven separate reports concluding that increasing the minimum wage causes damage to poverty wage workers and the economy. Maybe Boehner is so wrought with sorrow and compassion for workers earning $3.00 more per hour now than in 1996 when he first considered suicide that his conscience will not allow a vote to raise the minimum, or he and his fellow repugicans just hate the poor and love big business.
Regardless of what President Obama or the American people want, Boehner will not allow a vote on a minimum wage increase and it has nothing to do with his aversion to staying alive. Doing anything to help poverty wage workers is contrary to everything repugicans and their corporate sponsors believe in. Besides, Boehner earns $223,500 and House members $ 174,000 annually for 113 scheduled days of doing absolutely nothing and it does not include tens-of-thousands of dollars in honoraria and corporate gifts or their taxpayer-funded health insurance benefits. It is remarkable that while Boehner is willing to commit suicide instead of raising the minimum wage, House members pay increased from $133,600 in 1996 to $174,000 currently and there are no reports of Boehner threatening suicide or calling for a reduction in congressional pay to relieve the stress of receiving a minimum congressional pay  hike.
As President Obama wisely elucidated in his radio address, raising the minimum wage will not require a tax increase or any additional government spending which has been the repugican objection to anything he has proposed to help the economy or Americans barely surviving on less-than-poverty wages. The President can make all the impassioned pleas to Americans to demand Congress vote for a minimum wage hike and chastise repugicans to no avail because Boehner is not going to call for and repugicans will not vote for a raise. It has nothing to do with Boehner’s suicide threat and everything to do with their desire for a nation of poverty-level workers and regular record quarterly profits for corporations.

Scott Walker Falls Apart When Asked About Incriminating Emails On Faux News

Another repugican hope for 2016 crashed and burned Sunday as Wisconsin repugican Scott Walker got agitated and defensive while refusing answer questions about incriminating emails on Faux News Sunday.

WALLACE: Thousands of emails were released this week that indicate that you knew that public workers were working on county time in political campaigns, which is against the law.
WALKER: That’s absolutely not true, and if you look at the facts out there. This is old news. This is about a case that was closed last March. A Democratic district attorney in Milwaukee County spent multiple years looking at all this information. The 27,000+ pages of documents that were just released this week. Looked by a team led by a Democrat in Milwaukee County, and last year in March, he announced the end of that case. Plain and simple. It’s old news.What we have political operatives at the DNC and the DGA. They desperately want to switch the subject..
WALLACE: In one email that was released this week, your then chief of staff Thomas Nardelli, let’s put this up on the screen, writes campaign and county workers that you wanted to hold daily conference calls, “to review events of the day or of a previous or future day so we can better coordinate sound timely responses,” and in another e-mail county administrative director Cynthia Archer suggests that colleagues should use a private e-mail account. “I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW,” that’s you, “and Nardelli, the former chief of staff.”
Question: if county workers were doing nothing wrong, why should they be using a private e-mail account?
WALKER: Well, but that’s exactly to my point. you had a Democratic district attorney spend almost three years looking at every single one of those communications, interviewing people, talking to people and closed the case.
WALLACE: Did you have your own private e-mail account?
WALKER: It’s one of those where I point out district attorney has reviewed every single one of these issues.
WALLACE: But sir, you’re not answering my question.
WALKER: No, because I’m not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information.
Earlier in the interview, Walker was rolling along, lying about his jobs record in Wisconsin. He was selling himself to repugicans as a potential 2016 nominee. Host Chris Wallace was playing his usual Faux News role. He asked a question that was open ended enough for Walker to explain the emails. The trouble started when Walker decided not to answer Wallace’s question about personal knowledge of illegal activities.
Scott Walker is guilty. He can hide behind the fact that he hasn’t been charged with a crime yet, but he knew that what his county workers were doing was illegal. He urged the usage of a private email system because he knew he was breaking the law.
A smart 2016 candidate would have offered some sort of pseudo apology for the whole scandal, and moved on.
Scott Walker has demonstrated time and again that he is not smart.
Walker got defensive, bunkered down, and added fuel to the scandal fire. Some in the conservative chattering class have been touting Scott Walker as an inside favorite to win the 2016 repugican nomination, but judging from his answers on Faux News, Walker could never be elected president.
An electable candidate would not have reacted the Walker did in this interview. They would have had a prepared answer that would have satisfied Chris Wallace’s low threshold for truth.
Walker became obviously agitated when he was pushed on the emails, and the country got to see that, just like Chris Christie, the myth of Scott Walker has been destroyed.
If Scott Walker can’t handle a little needling from Chris Wallace, he definitely can’t handle the scrutiny of a presidential campaign.
Back to the drawing board repugicans. Another one of your 2016 saviors has self destructed.

It’s Time to Call the repugican Spade a Spade Instead of a Spoon

For years, the repugican cabal has tried, and succeeded, in brainwashing their base to believe that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are Nazis.…
In the name of winning elections, political rhetoric exploits horrors of the past – and at times distorts the ideas that made those horrors possible to fit the narrative.  For years, the repugican cabal has tried, and succeeded, in brainwashing their base to believe that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are Nazis.
That’s what makes it possible for the tea party to persuade some people that Nazism is the secret belief system of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
If only this was about people using words they don’t understand.  In reality they do understand them, and espouse things that are, at minimum, similar to that of Nazi ideology which believes in the superiority of one group of people and individual deference to the power of the state as envisioned by the ideology.
In the name of all things tea party, wingnut talking heads, media and increasingly the “mainstream” media is parroting the notion that was once a spade is now a spoon and what was a spoon is now a spade.
Elie Wiesel knows more about Nazism and the Holocaust than one can learn from a book because he experienced and survived it.  He experienced and survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald. And he knows what “values” make it possible for a government to establish concentration camps and work people to death. He understands what can arise from dehumanizing people for who they are or taking all the good things they do as human beings and labeling it a threat to an ideological ideal.
Wiesel also knows that contrary to today’s repugican rhetoric, tolerance and acceptance of diversity are neither Nazi principles nor are they a threat to national security.
He knows because despite the Nazis concerted effort to rid the world of him, Wiesel survived.
He went on to establish the Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, with the objective of promoting something today’s repugicans equate with evil: tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Back in 2009, when the repugican brainwashing machine touted claims that Obama and the Democratic Party are Nazis, this is what this extraordinary human being who survived everything the real Nazis dished out said in a tweet.
Elie_Wiesel tweet
If anyone has a right to pronounce on what is Nazi and what is not, it is someone who lived through the horrors of what happens when a political leader or party tries to equate hate with freedom or in the repugican cabal’s case, religion.
One can argue not every repugican agrees with Ted Nugent’s latest racist description of the President of the United States. One can claim that not every repugican believes our environmental policies or policies on women’s reproductive rights should be based on Nazi “science.”
The problem is there aren’t very many (if any) repugican voices condemning Nugent, his sentiments, or less high profile people who express similar sentiments in misspelled signs. Nor are there many (if any) voices condemning ideas espoused by repugicans that are based on Nazi “science.” Just as there aren’t many repugican voices condemning Arizona’s “law” codifying discrimination against the LGBT community.  Some may claim they had really harsh words for that law behind the scenes, but in public they remain silent in the name of not wanting to offend someone. The last people on the planet we should worry about offending are those who would take offense at the idea of condemning on its face a law seeking to dehumanize other human beings.
That would be like worrying about Nazis, who themselves dehumanized their own list of “undesirables,” including jews, Slavs, the Roma People, Gays, people with disabilities, and anyone who questioned any aspect of Nazi “doctrine”.
Over the past several years, adjectives like “conservative” and “libertarian” have been used to describe a political belief system that has a list of human beings it considers less than human. It’s an ideology that asserts, based on Nazi “science”  that victims of “legitimate” rape can’t get pregnant because their bodies have magic powers to shut that whole thing down.  Or who argue that the earth makes new oil every day because the Nazi “science“ said so.
I refuse to play that game of downplaying these extreme and repugnant ideas by describing them as “conservative” or “libertarian.”  They are neither of those things.  Those ideas and the people behind them are, at the very least, sympathetic to the sort of ideals espoused by the Nazis and similar ideologues on the far right of the ideological spectrum.  A spade is a spade. A spoon is a spoon. A Nazi sympathizer is a Nazi sympathizer.

If repugicans Don’t Want to be Compared to Nazis, They Should Stop Acting Like Nazis

The repugicans, like the Nazis, want to enforce through legislation obedience to and a belief in a mythical white paradise
United States of Christ 
We have witnessed a great deal of wingnut madness over the past five years, since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. Some of us during the intervening years have wondered where it would end. I was one of those who early on began to compare the religio-wingnuts and the tea party to the Nazis. It was not a careless or spiteful comparison, but one based on the evidence of their rhetoric and avowed goals. There is a reason I made the above map resemble the Nazi flag.
nazi_propagandaIt is no accident that the Nazi cry of Germany for the Germans is echoed by the repugican cry of America for Americans. Once upon a time there were “real” Germans and our own time brought us “real” Americans – the obvious consequence of such claims being that everybody else was an interloper, inferior – the “other.” With a single utterance, people like Sarah Palin, like Hitler before her, was able to delegitimize half of the population. The “other” become parasites attacking the health of the country. This is a claim made by both Nazis and the religio-wingnuts.
Of course, that horrified progressives, to say such horrible things. Godwin’s Law was, of course, invoked (we need a law about the invocation of Godwin’s Law – seriously). But a comparison should not be shied away from because it seems extreme. As I have argued repeatedly both here and elsewhere, the comparison holds water. If somebody acts like a Nazi, we should certainly be able to point out that they are acting like a Nazi.
Which brings us to first Kansas, a state which was driven to the brink of Nazification by repugicans, and then, perhaps in horror of what it had almost done, backed away, and then to Arizona, which is now our first state to embrace Nazism. Sure, S.B. 1062 is not a law until Gov. Jan Brewer signs it, and she says she needs more time, but who, really, needs more time to decide whether or not to oppose Nazism? Other than Ted Nugent, that is.
Many of us saw this coming. We were laughed at. We warned people what the religio-wingnuts wanted, what they intended. As with the Nazi Party in its early days, far too many people did not take the forces of oppression seriously. This tendency to deny unpleasant realities, even while they are occurring, is frustrating to say the least. It is dangerous at the worst: People will not fight back against something they cannot bring themselves to believe.
Believe it. People used to talk about Nazi Germany in disbelief even after the fact. How could it happen? It could happen very easily. It had happened before in human history and there was no reason to believe it would not happen again. And again. It could happen here, too, if we are not vigilant. In state after repugican state, we are seeing what amounts to state-sanctioned violence against the other, from Stand Your Ground laws to Arizona’s S.B. 1062.
The one constant is intolerant wingnut christianity, the driving force of oppression dating all the way back to the dawn of the movement. When wingnut christianity achieved a dominant position in the Roman Empire, the first thing it did was produce the Theodosian Code, which I have warned of here on previous occasions. The Theodosian Code was, like S.B. 1062, a tool of oppression, a collection of laws passed by the emperor Constantine and his successors, “was presented to the empire as a Xtmas present in 438.”
The attitude of wingnut christians toward the “Other,” one of, if you can’t convince them, force them, is embraced today by repugican lawmakers. Bishop Caesarius of Arles told his sixth century flock to admonish unbelievers “harshly,” to chide them “severely,” and if this failed, to strike them, to pull their hair, even to forcibly restrain them. In this he was following the advice of John Chrysostom, a Saint, who advised “rebuke” by way of punching the unbeliever: “Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify thy hand with the blow.”
As Sabine MacCormack observes of the infamous Book 16, “In the Theodosian Code…we can document the incorporation of sins into the purview of the criminal code; and as a result, the range of actions surveyed by the law and changed and expanded.” In other words, Book 16 “articulates for the first time in a Roman law code, what religion and what religious practices ‘are to be done and what are to be avoided’; and what was ‘the True Religion.’”
By the 450s, a generation after the publication of the Code, MacMullen argues that the “legal system became wholly an instrument of persecution.” Look at the violence we see today and argue that we are not far from the Theodosian, or in more modern terms, Nazi precipice. As MacMullen makes clear, witnessing did not end with harsh words, or even with fists:
Government too, at the urging of the bishops weighed in with threats, and more than threats, of fines, confiscation, exile, imprisonment, flogging, torture, beheading, and crucifixion. What more could be imagined? Nothing. The extremes of conceivable pressure were brought to bear. Thus, over the course of many centuries, compliance was eventually secured and the empire made christian in truth.
Substitute America for empire, and you have the dominionist dream for our country and our time. From the top down, the deck was stacked against the other, whoever they might be, from jews to Pagans and even to other christians. There are good reasons you don’t see Gnostic cults today on your street corner. No more than christians and then Nazis would abide a synagogue, will conservative christians abide temples and mosques. The jews and gays were targets of Theodosian christianity before they were targets of Nazism and finally, of the religio-wingnuts.
The antecedents of the religio-wingnut’s war on tolerance are ancient. Nazism is ultimately but a way stop on that road, a product itself of all that came before, and the most recent example we have of what happens when intolerance is legislated into law – as is in danger of happening in America today.

The White Rose

On Feb. 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst were executed for their role in urging students to rise up and overthrow the Nazi government. They were members of a group called the White Rose, who organized nonviolent resistance to Hitler, and were arrested for printing and distributing anti-Nazi flyers. 
Hans Scholl-24 (left), Sophie Scholl-21 (center), and Christoph Probst-24 (right), leaders of the White Rose resistance organization. Munich, Germany, 1942
The three young people were, after a sham trial, declared guilty of treason by a Nazi court, and sentenced to death. Their crime was the distribution of anti-Nazi pamphlets. That same day they were taken to a basement and, one by one, beheaded by the guillotine seen here, which was recently found in storage in the basement of a Bavarian museum.
Sophie was given the chance to avoid execution if she would say that Hans and Christoph were the leaders, and if she would give up the names of their resistance group The White Rose. She refused, saying she was proud of what she'd done, and that if one believes in freedom for all people, one must be willing to die for it.
See trailer for film Sophie Scholl – The Final Days: Here

Did Nazis Study Insects for Use in Biological Warfare?

Was the Nazi SS studying insects with the intent of launching a bug-based attack? A new analysis of archived documents concludes that, yes, they were. Scholars have known for decades the feared SS (Schutzstaffel or "protection squadron") in Nazi Germany had established an entomological research institute at the Dachau concentration camp. Documents that survived World War II describe experiments related to biological warfare. However, it can be difficult to parse whether these experiments were intended to protect against insect-borne Allied attacks, or to devise ways to use insects as bioweapons against the enemies of the Third Reich.
After reading through historical documents, including those descriptions of experiments and their results, a modern-day entomologist has concluded the SS wanted to create creepy-crawly weapons.
"You cannot suggest this was defensive research anymore," said Klaus Reinhardt, who studies bedbugs and fruit fly sperm biology at the University of Tuebingen in Germany. But, he said, "in technical terms it was far away from a bomb, or a massive malaria infection and breeding program being carried out."
Evil entomology
On Jan. 2, 1942, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, the organization that controlled the police force and the concentration camp system, ordered the creation of an entomological institute. This wasn't an overt call for biological warfare research. Hitler had forbidden research into bioweapons, although some authorities attempted to circumvent this ban, Reinhardt writes in an article published in the December issue of the journal Endeavour.
There were other reasons for Himmler to launch studies of insects. Insect-borne diseases, such as typhus, threatened SS troops and concentration camp guards. Reinhardt also links the foundation of the institute with the SS supplying slave laborers to industry in return for financial support from the companies. Without a certain survival rate among the prisoners, the SS could not uphold their end, he writes.
Himmler also had a personal motivation: a phobia of flies.
Reinhardt stumbled across this topic when he noticed that a German book on dragonflies first published in 1933 by an unknown in the field, Eduard May, which sparked his curiosity. Reinhardt then found that the same Eduard May had also headed up the SS's entomological institute, in spite of his poor qualifications. Reinhardt's research offers a glimpse into the inner workings, and dysfunction, of the SS by revealing how more qualified candidates were passed over.
Mosquitos, fleas & flies
The entomological institute was established at Dachau, where some Nazi researchers conducted horrific experiments on prisoners. Dr. Claus Schilling inoculated prisoners with malaria, and Schilling's malaria research was one reason for locating the insect studies at Dachau. (Schilling was tried, convicted and executed after a war crimes trial.) However, May reportedly refused to conduct experiments on humans.
May arrived with a background in pesticides, and research in this area was at the top of all of the institute's proposed research programs. In a meeting, he discussed pesticides as a defense against a bio-attack — "the airborne dropping of plant pests" — and proposed using toxins sprayed from an airplane, Reinhardt writes.
Mosquitos were a major focus, and documents discuss the feasibility of dropping mosquitos from an airplane in order to cause a mass malaria infection and how to counter such an attack.
The intent of the experiments —offensive or defensive —is often debatable, but Reinhardt sees clear evidence of intent to use the insects as weapons when May recommends a certain mosquito species, Anopheles maculipenni, based on experiments showing its ability to survive longer without food.
"'If you want to use them take this species.' This is in an active voice and an active recommendation," Reinhardt told Live Science. "It is unlikely to be interpreted as defensive."
However, the studies were not done with malaria-infected mosquitos, so the ability to launch such an attack was so far away as to be almost irrelevant, he said.
The institute also appears to have worked with fleas, although details are scarce, because most surviving evidence is circumstantial. For instance, May sought a meeting with a plague expert and access to fluorescence microscopy in order to study the survivability of microorganisms; the institute also sought rats for experiments, Reinhardt writes. (Plague bacteria are spread through rats and fleas.)
Himmler's phobia got its due as well. A research protocol documents an experiment in which flies were exposed to a fly-killing fungus.

Are Craigslist 'Satanic Serial Killer's' Confessions for Real?

It's not likely that Miranda Barbour really killed too many people to count. But why would she lie about it, and about her Satanic connections?

Shoplifter walked out of Burberry store with HK$995,000 alligator coat

A shoplifter helped himself to an alligator skin coat worth nearly HK$1 million (£77,000, US$130,000) from a Burberry store in Hong Kong.

The brazen robber - who was caught on security cameras in the Burberry store in Tsim Sha Tsui - is understood to have simply lifted the trench coat off the mannequin it was on and calmly walked out of the store into the crowded Silvercord shopping mall on Canton Road at around 7.30pm on Wednesday.
Staff didn't notice it was gone until several hours later when they were doing a stock take at closing time. The police were called in at midnight. The garment had only been delivered to the store hours earlier and was not fitted with a security tag, police said. Security cameras showed a man taking the coat off the mannequin inside the three-storey store and walking out unchallenged. He was in and out of the shop - one of 14 Burberry has in the city - in around a minute, a police officer said.

Two men were arrested on Thursday afternoon. A 37-year-old man of South Asian origin was stopped in Yau Ma Tei at about 3pm. Two hours later, another man of South Asian origin, aged 31, was arrested in Tsim Sha Tsui, where officers found the coat in a bag that had been left in a roadside flower bed. The two men were arrested and detained for theft and handling of stolen goods, respectively. No charges have been laid. Police are still investigating.

Teenager shot friend dead with AK-47 during squabble over which TV channel to watch

Muhammad Umair and Amir Muawiya, both in their late teens, were watching television at Umair’s family house in Bhambar Tarar village on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

The village is located some 12 kilometers east of the Islamabad Highway near the road’s southern end. A petty squabble over which TV channel to watch quickly escalated into a heated argument, according to the account of Umair’s father, Muhammad Hanif.
Amid the argument, Muawiya, who was allegedly armed with an AK-47 at the time, shot Umair dead. The Koral police have registered a murder case against Muawiya on Hanif’s complaint .

The Investigation Officer could not confirm if the weapon was licensed or why Muawiya was armed in the first place. “They got into a heated argument which led to the fatal shooting,” the officer said.

Man who stole sound system from home returned half an hour later for remote control

Police in New Jersey arrested a Camden County man after he stole a sound system from a Haddon Township home, then returned a half an hour later to take the remote control he had forgotten to take.

Carlos Ruiz, 42, of Pennsauken, was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief after he entered a home twice in about 30 minutes on Feb. 4. Authorities said surveillance video near the home captured Ruiz pulling up to the home in a vehicle at around 9am.
He broke into the home and spent less than 10 minutes inside before walking out with valuables, including a sound system, police said. Half an hour later, police said, Ruiz was seen returning to the crime scene and re-entering the house. An investigation revealed that Ruiz went back to the home for a remote control to the sound system he stole on the first trip into the home.

Authorities said the burgled home was selected at random by Ruiz and his crime was fueled by his addiction to heroin. Ruiz was found to be a fugitive in a Pennsylvania fraud case and wanted by the Camden County Sheriff's Department for failure to pay child support. Authorities said he could face more charges in both Camden and Burlington counties. He is being held in Camden County Jail pending a Camden County Superior Court appearance.

Hapless bank robber dropped stolen cash before filling upturned umbrella then slipping on ice

A man accused of robbing a bank in Laurel, Maryland, on Wednesday with no bag to put the swag in dropped the stolen cash before stuffing it into an open umbrella.
Firstly he dropped the more than $20,000 (£12,000) on the floor of the bank.

He then took up valuable time collecting the cash into the upturned umbrella. After eventually making his getaway, he slipped on ice and cut his head open.

Still he managed to make it to the getaway car - but all the delays caught up with him as police managed to stop the vehicle and make the arrest. 42-year-old Robert C Williams was charged with robbery.

How Big Banks Are Cashing In On Food Stamps

by Virginia Eubanks

Many benefit programs have gone high tech with debit cards and J.P. Morgan Chase and others are making a pretty penny charging users fees. What is there to be done?
The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama last Friday, includes $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. One way the bill proposes to accomplish these savings is by reducing food stamp fraud. When the new farm bill is enacted, many of America's hardest working families will experience cuts in services and have trouble putting food on their family's table. But there will be major gains for an industry that most Americans might not expect: banking.
Banks reap hefty profits helping governments make payments to individuals, business that only got better when agencies switch from making payments on paper-checks and vouchers-to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards look and work like debit cards, and by 2002, had entirely replaced the stamp booklets that gave the food stamp program its name. SNAP is the most well-known program delivered via EBT, but they also carry payments for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); childcare subsidies; state general assistance; and many other programs. EBT use is widespread, from the corner store to the supercenter. According to a 2012 USDA report, SNAP funds, averaging $133 per family member per month, can be spent at more than 246,000 authorized stores, farmers' markets, farms, and meal providers nationwide.
Not only are the operating costs of delivering benefits by EBT lower-no paper checks to cut, envelopes to stuff, or postage to pay-but electronic forms of payment allow banks to multiply opportunities for revenue generation. Banks hold contracts with federal, state, and municipal agencies to provide EBT cards and services, collect interest on federal reserve money held for government programs (though not on SNAP funds), charge transaction fees for merchant use of bank technology and infrastructure, and levy penalties on users for EBT card loss, out-of-network use, and balance inquiries. Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.
Distributing government benefits is a lucrative industry. According to the Government Accountability Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, which currently controls EBT contracts in 21 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, made more than half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2012 providing government benefits to U.S. citizens. In New York alone, J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services (EFS) holds a nine-year, $177 million EBT services contract with the State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). New York currently pays $0.95 per month for each its 1.7 million SNAP cases. In addition, J.P. Morgan EFS collects penalties and fees from benefit recipients: $5 to replace a lost EBT card, $0.40 for each balance inquiry, $0.50 each time their cards are declined for insufficient funds, and $1.50 per withdrawal if they use ATMs to get cash more than once a month.

Dishonesty and creativity

New research shows that lying about performance on one task […]

You Actually Don't Need to Dress to Impress!

For years, we've thought that if you dress up, more people will think and treat you as though you are rich and successful. Anthony and Meg talk about how the rise in entrepreneurship is causing society to dress more relaxed in the workplace.



The Opium Wars

It was a major drug bust with more than 1,600 arrests and the confiscation of 11,000 pounds of a highly addictive substance. No, this wasn't a DEA raid of a major meth operation, or an Interpol investigation into international drug smuggling.
It was the year 1839 and the Chinese government was cracking down on British importation of opium. The drug issue was a powder keg that led to a series of wars between the two countries over the course of more than 20 years and changed both nations for generations.

This Circular Ship Was the Weirdest Warship Ever Built

After its defeat in the Crimean War (1853-1856), the victorious powers forbade Russia from operating battleships on the Black Sea. Once these restrictions ended, Russia rebuilt its Black Sea fleet with modern warships that it hoped could defeat the navies of France and Britain should they ever cross again.
From 1872 to 1874, Russia built on the Black Sea one of the strangest-looking warships the world had ever seen. Andrei Alexandrovich Popov, the naval officer responsible for the design, wanted an ironclad monitor, which was a common naval design concept. But Popov built one had a circular hull. The Novgorod weighed 2,490 tons and had a diameter of 101 feet. It carried 2 12-inch guns that retracted into an armored turret. The guns sat on a turntable that could move 35 degrees in either direction. The ship had 6 engines, each of which powered 1 propeller.

(The cannons of the Popov via Mehl's Naval Guns)Russia followed up on the design by building a larger version from 1874-1877. After testing the Novgorod’s seaworthiness, Popov decided that the second ship should be bigger. So the 3,550-ton Vice-Admiral Popov had a diameter of 120 feet. It was named in honor of its designer.
Popov’s ships had a rare design premise—and for good reason. They often floundered even in calm water and rivers, let alone the open sea. Worse, when idling, Novogord and Popov tended to spin in circles. The Czar, however, was fond of the design and ordered the construction of the Livadia, a circular royal yacht. Historian Stanley Sandler jokes that this must have been because the Czar “presumably suffered more from seasickness than dizziness.”

(The royal yacht Livadia via Larry Neilson)Nonetheless, both warsships performed adequately during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) in which Russia bested its longtime enemy. The Novgorod and the Popov served in Russia’s naval forces on the Danube River (then a heavily militarized body of water) and were in use until 1903. They were scrapped in 1912.
You can see more photos, drawings and diagrams of these ships here.

9 Terrifying Urban Legends From Victorian London

Have you ever wondered whether people in other times and other places spread urban legends the way folks do today? Well, they couldn’t do it exactly the same way, because internet. But rumors and terrifying tales were passed around that only tenuously had anything to do with reality. The scares and panics from Victorian London were well documented so that we can enjoy them today. Here’s one that kept folks off the streets for a while.
1. The Great Garroting Panic of 1862

What they believed: A band of criminals were stalking the capital, garroting anyone unfortunate enough to come into their path. One unfortunate M.P., Hugh Pilkington, had already fallen victim to them as he made his way home from his club.

Why they believed it: Pilkington was mugged and quite possibly choked - this much is true. But this random incident exploded in the public’s imagination. And that was due to magazines and periodicals, who were keen to stoke up a frenzy about the end of transportation to Australia and the activities of ticket-of-leave men (offenders released on a provisional licence), as well as the apparent ineffectiveness of reform programmes for criminals. As a result, in 1863 Parliament passed the Garrotters Act, which reintroduced corporal punishment for armed or violent robbery, and in 1864 the Penal Servitude Act, which made mandatory the police supervision of ticket-of-leave men.
That’s only the beginning. People also feared pigs roaming in the sewers, ghosts, mutant humans, wild animal attacks, and more, which you can read about at Buzzfeed.

They Were Who They Weren't

6 Audacious Impostors

Throughout history, people have changed their identities and become someone completely different. Sometimes it was to avoid consequences in their previous lives, and sometimes it was to be something grander than they were.
Here are 6 audacious impostors.

Daily Comic Relief


Watch This Liquid Transform Like Magic

A ferrofluid is a liquid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field.

Sierra Leone unearths $6-million diamond

Sierra Leone said on Saturday it had discovered a diamond worth $6.2 million, declaring it one of the most precious finds of the past decade.
The stone, dug up last week in the eastern district of Kono, was measured at 153 carats, making it significantly bigger than the largest find of 2013, a 125-carat diamond unearthed in the same area, the state-run National Minerals Agency said.
"This 153.44-carat diamond is one of the finest diamonds to be found in Sierra Leone in the last 10 years," the agency said in a statement.
It was graded as D+ on the D-to-Z diamond color scale, meaning that it has almost no yellow tint caused by nitrogen impurities, and the agency said it "could only be matched or surpassed by fancy diamonds such as blue or pink in terms of price".
"The diamond is a cleavage in terms of shape and the clarity is of very high quality," the statement added.
"In other words, this is a premium stone as a result of its color and clarity, and had it been an octahedron-shaped stone, it could have almost doubled the price of $6 million."
Sierra Leone remains one of the world's poorest countries after a brutal 11-year civil war which ended in 2002 -- a conflict that left the world with images of feared rebel leaders armed from the sale of "blood diamonds" recruiting drugged-up child soldiers and hacking the limbs off thousands of civilians.
But the country's mineral riches -- which include gold, bauxite, titanium ore and magnetite iron-ore, as well as diamonds -- have attracted massive investments.
Small-scale artisanal mining has sustained the country's eastern region since diamonds were discovered in 1930, and it was here that the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone -- the largest alluvial diamond ever found -- was mined in 1972.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Illegal wildlife trade, linked to global criminal gangs and terrorist groups, is estimated to be worth over $10 billion.
Find out how and why these key species are being threatened by illegal wildlife trade.

Research Shows That Cows Produce More Milk When Listening to Slow Jams

Do you want your cows to get in the mood to produce more milk? Scientists have found that playing slow, rhythmic music helps.
In 2001, psychologists at the University of Leicester (UK) played fast music and slow music to 2 different groups of cows. The cows that heard fast music demonstrated no change in milk production. But the cows that listened to slow music increased their milk output by 3%.
Some dairy farmers agree with this assessment and play music for their cows. To promote the practice, the British Columbia Dairy Association is holding a contest which asks participants to submit playlists of good milk production music.

The Old Man Of The Sea

The Wolf Eel

Picture one of those double-take moments when you have to look again in a mixture of curiosity and alarm. Then imagine that you are thirty meters underwater when that happens.

Over the years, divers off the coast of California have had many such moments when they suddenly come across the huge face of an old man peering at them from the rocky reefs below. It is the face of an extraordinary creature, the wolf eel.

Animal Pictures