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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.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Carolina Naturally is read in 195 countries around the world daily.   

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Today is - There is no special celebration today

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Today in History

1624 Class-based legislation is passed in the colony of Virginia, exempting the upper class from punishment by whipping.
1766 Antonio de Ulloa, the first Spanish governor of Louisiana, arrives in New Orleans.
1793 Austrian troops crush the French and recapture Liege.
1821 James Monroe becomes the first president to be inaugurated on March 5, only because the 4th was a Sunday.
1905 Russians begin to retreat from Mukden in Manchuria, China.
1912 The Italians become the first to use dirigibles for military purposes, using them for reconnaissance flights behind Turkish lines west of Tripoli.
1918 The Soviets move the capital of Russia from Petrograd to Moscow.
1928 Hitler's National Socialists win the majority vote in Bavaria.
1933 Newly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt halts the trading of gold and declares a bank holiday.
1933 Hitler and Nationalist allies win the Reichstag majority. It will be the last free election in Germany until after World War II.
1943 In desperation due to war losses, fifteen and sixteen year olds are called up for military service in the German army.
1946 In Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill tells a crowd that "an iron curtain has descended on the Continent [of Europe]."
1956 The U.S. Supreme Court affirms the ban on segregation in public schools in Brown vs. Board of Education.
1969 Gustav Heinemann is elected West German President.
1976 Britain gives up on the Ulster talks and decides to retain rule in Northern Ireland indefinitely.
1984 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that cities have the right to display the Nativity scene as part of their Christmas display.

Non Sequitur


TV reporter unlikely to see his boots again after getting stuck in waist-deep mud

A TV news correspondent reporting from the scene of an unstable hillside in Azusa, Los Angeles on Friday got stuck in waist-high mud and had to be rescued.
Miguel Almaguer from NBC Nightly News was reporting in the hillside above the home of Dennis Sanderson when he got stuck in the mud.

Sanderson aided authorities in the rescue. According to Sanderson, Almaguer had intentionally waded into a pool of mud to demonstrate how thick it was.

But he was pulled out barefoot. “He’s probably never going to see those boots again,” said Roland Sprewell, captain with the County of Los Angeles Fire Department. After the rescue, Azusa police ordered news media and residents to evacuate the area.

Did you know ...

That 7 foods experts said were bad for us that turned out to be good

That 27% of flight attendants experienced sexual harassment in the past year

That the most economically thriving U.S. cities have the greatest income inequality

That some idiots, ahem, Georgia men used facebook to plot against the government

A Cold War reprise as US seeks Moscow's isolation

In a sudden reprise of Cold War sensibilities, the U.S. and its allies are weighing sanctions on Moscow and whether to bolster defenses in Europe in response to Russia's military advances on Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry, soon on his way to Ukraine's capital, said world leaders "are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion."
Much as when superpower tensions ruled world affairs, missile defense systems and troop levels in Europe have again become urgent questions in Washington and beyond, a renewed reality that may force President Barack Obama's administration to give up its intended foreign policy shift to Asia indefinitely.
Also echoing the era of East-West confrontation, there appears to be little if any taste in the West for a direct military response to Russia's provocation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave no indication that he would heed the West's warnings. Hundreds of armed men surrounded a Ukrainian military base in Crimea, a pro-Russian area. In Kiev, Ukraine's capital, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk alerted allies that "we are on the brink of disaster."
Senior Obama administration officials said they believe Russia now has complete operational control over Crimea and has more than 6,000 forces in the region. The U.S. was also watching for ethnic skirmishes in other areas of eastern Ukraine, though the officials said they had not yet seen Russian military moves elsewhere. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Kerry said he has consulted other world leaders and all are committed to doing what is necessary to isolate Russia diplomatically. President Barack Obama spoke Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
Kerry planned to travel to Kiev on Tuesday for meetings with the Ukrainian government. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the United States is ready to work with other countries and the International Monetary Fund to provide support for Ukraine's economy.
In Brussels, NATO's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Russia's actions have violated a U.N. charter. He said the alliance was re-evaluating its relationship with Russia.
"There are very serious repercussions that can flow out of this," Kerry said.
Beyond economic sanctions and visa bans, freezing Russian assets, and trade and investment penalties, Kerry said Moscow risks being booted out of the powerful Group of Eight group of world powers as payback for the military incursion.
Several U.S. senators also called for bolstered missile defense systems based in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia is "going to be inviting major difficulties for the long term," said Kerry. "The people of Ukraine will not sit still for this. They know how to fight."
Still, it was clear that few in the West were prepared to respond immediately to Putin with military force.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis used his traditional Sunday midday appearance in St. Peter's Square to urge world leaders to promote dialogue as a way of resolving the crisis in Ukraine.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discussing the potential of U.S. military strikes against Russian troops in Crimea, said, "I don't think anyone is advocating for that." One of the administration officials indicated that the U.S. was not weighing military action to counter Russia's advances, saying the Obama administration's efforts were focused on political, economic and diplomatic options.
Rubio and fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the Obama administration should return to plans it abandoned in 2009 to place long-range missile interceptors and radar in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia believed the program was aimed at countering its own missiles and undermining its nuclear deterrent. The White House denied that and has worked instead to place medium-range interceptors in Poland and Romania — aimed at stopping missiles from Iran and North Korea.
Experts said potential U.S. budget cuts to Army units based in Germany also could be slowed, or scrapped completely, to prevent a catastrophic erosion of stability and democracy from creeping across Europe.
The Pentagon is considering new reductions to Army units in Germany that already have been slashed under Obama. Currently, there are two Army brigades — up to 10,000 soldiers — based in Germany, where armored and infantry units have dug in since World War II. At the end of the Cold War, more than 200,000 American forces were stationed across Europe.
Damon Wilson, an Eastern European scholar, former diplomat and executive vice president of the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank, said the U.S. must be ready to pour its efforts into Ukraine, even at the cost of policies and priorities elsewhere.
"We should be no longer deluded by the fact that Europe is a safe spot of stability and security, and not a security risk for the U.S.," Wilson said Sunday. He said that if Putin goes unchecked, it could result in war — the second one on NATO's borders.
The 3-year-old civil war in Syria is already a crisis for neighboring Turkey, a NATO member state. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but it borders four nations that are — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
Russia has made clear it is ready to provide weapons and military equipment to governments across the Mideast that have irked Washington. Russia's permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council gives it veto power over major world deliberations.
"The challenge is, we do need to have some kind of working relationship with Russia?" Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked Sunday. "And while we can impose these costs and take these steps, we've got to be mindful of the fact that they can impose their own costs on us."
Kerry appeared Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," ABC's "This Week" and NBC's "Meet the Press." Rubio was on NBC, while Graham and Schiff were interviewed on CNN.

Pro-Russian troops take over Crimea terminal

Pro-Russian troops took over a ferry terminal on the easternmost tip of Crimea close to Russia on Monday, exacerbating fears that Moscow is planning to bring even more troops into this strategic Black Sea region.
The seizure of the terminal in the Ukrainian city of Kerch about 20 kilometers (12 miles) by boat to Russia, comes as the West try to figure out ways to halt and reverse the Russian incursion.
Early on Monday, soldiers were operating the terminal, which serves as a common departure point for many Russian-bound ships. The men refused to identify themselves, but they spoke Russian and the vehicles transporting them had Russian license plates.
Troops that Ukraine says are Russian soldiers have occupied airports in Crimea, smashed equipment at an air base and besieged a Ukrainian infantry base in this peninsula.
Outrage over Russia's military moves mounted in world capitals, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling on President Vladimir Putin to pull back from "an incredible act of aggression."
A day after Russia captured the Crimean Peninsula without firing a shot, fears grew in the Ukrainian capital and beyond that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine. Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. now believes that Russia has complete operational control of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of the country, and has more than 6,000 troops in the region.
Faced with the Russian threat, Ukraine's new government moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east, enlisting the support of the country's wealthy businessmen and dismissing the head of the country's navy after he declared allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said there was no reason for Russia to invade Ukraine and warned that "we are on the brink of disaster."
"We believe that our Western partners and the entire global community will support the territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine," he said Sunday in Kiev.
World leaders rushed to try to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
NATO held an emergency meeting in Brussels, Britain's foreign minister flew to Kiev to support its new government and Kerry was to travel to Ukraine on Tuesday. The U.S., France and Britain debated the possibility of boycotting the next Group of Eight economic summit, to be held in June in Sochi, the host of Russia's successful Winter Olympics.
On Sunday evening, the White House issued a joint statement on behalf of the Group of Seven saying they are suspending participation in the planning for the upcoming summit because Russia's advances in the Ukraine violate the "principles and values" on which the G-7 and G-8 operate.
In Kiev, Moscow and other cities, thousands of protesters took to the streets to either decry the Russian occupation or celebrate Crimea's return to its former ruler.
"Support us, America!" a group of protesters chanted outside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. One young girl held up a placard reading: "No Russian aggression!"
"Russia! Russia!" the crowd chanted in Moscow.
So far, however, Ukraine's new government and the West have been powerless to counter Russia's tactics.
Putin has defied calls from the West to pull back his troops, insisting that Russia has a right to protect its interests and those of Russian-speakers in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine. His confidence is matched by the knowledge that Ukraine's 46 million people have divided loyalties. While much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions like Crimea look to Russia for support.
Russia has long wanted to reclaim the lush Crimean Peninsula, part of its territory until 1954. Russia's Black Sea Fleet pays Ukraine millions annually to be stationed at the Crimean port of Sevastopol and nearly 60 percent of Crimea's residents identify themselves as Russian.

IMF says income inequality is a bad thing

International Monetary Fund concludes that income inequality is a drag on the world's economy

The International Monetary Fund has backed economists who argue that inequality is a drag on growth in a discussion paper that has also dismissed wingnut theories that efforts to redistribute incomes are self-defeating.
The Washington-based organization, which advises governments on sustainable growth, said countries with high levels of inequality suffered lower growth than nations that distributed incomes more evenly.
Backing analysis by the Keynesian economist and Nobel prizewinner Joseph Stiglitz, it warned that inequality can also make growth more volatile and create the unstable conditions for a sudden slowdown in GDP growth.
And in what is likely to be viewed as its most controversial conclusion, the IMF said analysis of various efforts to redistribute incomes showed they had a neutral effect on GDP growth. This last point is expected to dismay wingnut politicians who argue that overcoming inequality robs the rich of incentives to invest and the poor of incentives to work and is counter-productive.

Jobs That No Longer Exist

Bowling alley pinsetter, knocker up, ice cutter, lamplighter and resurrectionist.
Just some of the jobs that no longer exist.

Paul Ryan and John Boehner Go Back On Their Word By Demanding More Spending Cuts

House repugicans are reneging and crying foul because the budget they passed did not take Americans' Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, or food stamps away … House GOP Leaders Address Media After Party Conference
Greed, also known as avarice, is the inordinate desire to possess everyone’s wealth with the intent to keep it for one’s self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival or extravagant comfort. It is applied to an immorally high desire for, and pursuit of, wealth and power generally to those who already are wealthy beyond imagination. The inordinate desire for wealth in a particular class of people means going to any length to take every bit of wealth, including the necessities for survival, from every other person until there is nothing left to take; in America it is the ultra-wealthy and their legislative arm the repugican cabal taking everything from America and its people. Now, it is glaringly obvious that there are no limits to what repugicans will take from the people including food, jobs, wages, healthcare, pensions, housing, and their lives simply because they can and to satisfy the greed of the wealthy and their corporations.
In December 2013, the House and Senate passed a two-year budget and spending agreement that the President signed into law and it was hailed as a major accomplishment for the dysfunctional repugicans in the House particularly. The budget was a major gift to repugicans who brokered spending levels that were less than the Paul Ryan budget repugicans passed every year since they took control of the House knowing it would never get past the Senate or the President’s veto pen. However, despite just passing a budget for fiscal 2014 and 2015, repugicans are bemoaning Senate Democrats intent of not passing a budget for fiscal 2015 regardless they just passed a 2015 budget that is already in place. The issue repugicans cannot comport is the budget agreement they just overwhelmingly passed does not take everything from the people to give the rich and corporations unsustainable tax cuts.
Senator Patty Murray who teamed with Paul Ryan to negotiate the two-year budget said there was no reason to do a fiscal 2015 budget after the two-year deal struck in December with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. In a statement Murray said, “Fiscal Year 2015 is settled, the Appropriations Committees are already working with their bipartisan spending levels, and now we should work together to build on our two-year bipartisan budget, not create more uncertainty for families and businesses by immediately re-litigating it. I went into my negotiations with Chairman Ryan hoping we could give the American people some much needed certainty after years of lurching from crisis to crisis, and I was very glad that our two-year budget deal accomplished that.” However, on Friday repugicans began assailing Senate Democrats for “avoiding responsibility” in deciding against re-creating a budget for 2015 they just spent months negotiating and passing.
The motivation for  Ryan and repugicans to scrap and replace the two-year budget is because they did not get to destroy Medicare, all but eliminate food stamp funding, make major cuts to Social Security, or slash domestic spending that repugicans demanded, so John Boehner expects the House to pass Ryan’s 2015 budget despite the 2015 budget is already in place. A senior Democratic aide said the repugican cabal “just wants to reopen the FY15 budget so they can play politics and use a vote-a-rama for partisan and campaign-related show-votes,” and that may be true to a point, but they are serious about a new Ryan budget for 2015 to eviscerate domestic spending and put an end to programs Americans paid for and expect a return on when they retire.
Ryan said he intends to write a new budget even though the December budget law established a smaller discretionary spending level of $1.014 trillion for 2015 than his Path to Prosperity budget, but he failed to give the rich and corporations unsustainable tax cuts or eviscerate Medicare and Social Security that Ryan calls “entitlements.” He said his new budget will combat income inequality to foster economic growth by giving “job creators” incentives to start hiring; such as a 15.9% tax cut for the rich and corporations. Ryan said, “CBO says our budget outlook is unsustainable. We’ve made some progress on the discretionary side, but on the main drivers of our debt, entitlements, we’ve got a lot more work to do. House Republicans will keep offering real solutions to get spending under control, fix our broken tax code, create jobs, and put us on the path to balance.” According to Ryan, fixing the broken tax code and creating jobs means more tax cuts for the rich and corporations as well as tax increases for the middle class and the poor. Putting us on the path to balance means ending Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and food stamps as Americans know them even though the Draconian cuts still will not pay for his concept of “fixing the broken tax code” (more outrageous tax cuts for the richest Americans).
The long-term deficit has already been reduced by $3.3 trillion due to spending cuts President Obama negotiated to preserve the good faith and credit of the United States, but repugicans were unable to take Americans’ Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and food stamps that is their motivation to replace the budget deal they just passed in December. Senator Murray sent out a memo to her Senate colleagues on Thursday arguing that spending cuts since 2010 reduced the long-term budget deficit by $3.3 trillion, and proposed that Congress pivot away from more time-wasting budget fights since “we have some breathing room to focus more on creating jobs, expanding opportunity and generating broad-based economic growth now and into the future—while we keep looking for ways to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges using a balanced and responsible approach.”
The repugicans have absolutely no interest in a responsible and balanced approach to long term fiscal challenges, or creating jobs, expanding opportunity, and generating economic growth that does not entail more unsustainable tax cuts for the richest 1% and their corporations. Their approach for thirty years has been the so-called “trickle down” economic theory that not only failed to create jobs or improve the economy, it only enriched the wealthy and corporations beyond their wildest dreams. Subsequently, since their “approach” of taking from the 98% has so successfully enriched the wealthy, they are loath to change; particularly if change entails helping the great majority of Americans.
Even though House repugicans overwhelmingly voted (332 to 94) to approve a two-year budget including fiscal year 2015, they are reneging, criticizing Senate Democrats, and crying foul because although it cut spending more than Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget, it did not take Americans’ Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, or food stamps to partially fund tax cuts for the richest Americans. The repugicans are going to attempt to sell their “replacement budget” scheme as “getting spending under control, fixing our broken tax code, creating jobs, and putting us on the path to balance,” but Democrats will be there every step of the way to define “fixing the tax code, creating jobs, and getting spending under control” as absurdly unsustainable tax cuts for the rich, and destroying Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Besides backing out of a budget they already passed two months ago, they will successfully waste taxpayer time and money because their sole motivation for serving in Congress is taking everything from Americans to hand it to their greedy campaign donors.

The Truth Hurts

Man charged with drunk driving three times in 24 hours after his daughter was caught drunk driving

A man in Toronto, New South Wales, Australia has been allegedly caught drunk driving three times within a 24 hour period. At about 11.25pm on Friday 28 February, police stopped a 19-year-old woman for a roadside breath test. The woman allegedly returned a positive result and was arrested and taken to Toronto Police Station, where she returned a breath analysis of 0.016.

It’s alleged when the girl’s 37-year-old father drove to the station shortly after; he returned a positive breath test and later a breath test analysis reading of 0.192. He was issued a field court attendance notice for driving with high range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) and his Provisional driver’s license was suspended.
At about 1.20am on Saturday 1 March, police stopped the man driving, where he underwent a roadside breath test, which allegedly returned a positive result. He was taken to Toronto Police Station, where he allegedly returned a breath analysis reading of 0.190. He was issued a field court attendance notice for driving with high-range PCA and driving while his license was suspended.

At about 11pm on Saturday 1 March, the man was stopped again, when he lost control of the car and drove onto the incorrect side of the road. Police stopped the man and he allegedly returned a positive roadside breath test. He was taken to Toronto Police Station, where he returned an alleged breath analysis reading of 0.159. He was issued a third field court attendance notice for driving with high range PCA, driving while his license was suspended and negligent driving. He will appear at Toronto Local Court on 19 March.

26 people injured after elderly lady crashed pick-up truck into grocery store

Police say 26 people were injured after a truck drove into a Food 4 Less store in Las Vegas at about 2:49pm on Saturday.
An 88-year-old female drove the pick-up truck about 80 yards into the frozen food section of the store. "About 4 cash registers were just wiped out, then I went to the back of the store and there was a truck sitting at the end of aisle 6," said Cathie Blake, a witness.
Witnesses say they saw the driver clip a car in the parking lot before she went into the building. "She just kept on going," Tom Bennett, another witness said. 17 people were treated on scene for minor injuries, and 9 people were taken to hospital with mild injuries. According to police, 2 of the 9 people that were taken to the hospital were employees. One is said to be listed in critical condition.

Police say he was working a register at the front of the store and was one of the first people to be hit; his body was dragged the full 80 yards to the back of the store where the truck came to a stop near the frozen foods section. There is no word on if the driver was impaired or suffered from a medical episode, although police did conduct a sobriety test.

Irishman arrested after serial snorkeling in moat of Australian art gallery

A man has been arrested twice after snorkeling in the moat outside the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
The man was dressed in only shorts, flippers and a snorkel when he walked to the gallery at about 6pm on Tuesday night. Pedestrians and gallery staff then watched in bemusement as the man hopped in the water and began to swim.
This wasn't the first time the man had caused trouble outside the gallery but on this occasion security was called and asked him to leave. Police said the Irishman, aged 38, was arrested for drunk and disorderly behavior.

Late on Friday the man was charged with theft, handling stolen goods, going equipped to steal and possessing proceeds of crime after police responded to another report of him snorkeling in the moat. The man, of no fixed address, was refused bail and remanded overnight to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday.

Woman arrested after stabbing teddy bear during argument with boyfriend

A woman from Casper, Wyoming, faces prison time after allegedly stabbing a white, 5-foot-tall teddy bear given to her by a boyfriend and telling him, “I wish this was you!” Prosecutors charged Carly Marra with aggravated assault and battery, a felony, and possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor. She is free after posting a $5,000 bond set on Wednesday. According to a police affidavit, Marra had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with a man named Jordan McAlexander. The two had a 16-month-old child together. Marra moved to Casper in October to live with McAlexander.

Shortly after, she told him she was pregnant with another man’s baby, which she delivered in January. McAlexander began seeing another woman, an ex-girlfriend, and on Feb. 10, he and the new woman got matching tattoos of the Gaelic symbol for soul mate. At 4:45.m on Tuesday, McAlexander told Marra via text that they needed to end their relationship. Marra made plans to leave the state with the children, but asked McAlexander to have one last night with the family. He arrived at the home at 8pm. The couple began to argue after McAlexander wanted to smoke outside. Marra insisted he stay inside.
McAlexander told police he was concerned she wasn’t going to let him leave. He began texting a friend and his new girlfriend about the situation. McAlexander told police Marra became upset and went after the teddy bear with a kitchen knife. McAlexander tried to grab a piece of the bear, but Marra went after it too. McAlexander told police Marra raised the knife above her head and allegedly said, “I’m going to stab you,” while pulling the bear toward her. McAlexander told police he tried to grab the knife and restrain Marra. She bit him on the bicep and punched him with her free hand. She also punched, elbowed and kicked McAlexander in the face and groin.

McAlexander pried the knife from Marra, and tossed it down the hallway. He and Marra then wrestled as she allegedly tried to get the knife back. McAlexander grabbed Marra and put her in the bathroom before contacting police. Marra told officers McAlexander tried to go after the knife because he was upset by her cutting the teddy bear, since it was a gift. He allegedly thrust the knife at her two or three times, puncturing her arm. She also said her head was slammed against the corner of a hallway. Police found liquid THC and an ounce of marijuana in the apartment. Marra told police she was going to mail it to her father in Florida, who used it to self-medicate.

A 51-year-old man drowned trying to rescue his toy speedboat

The body of a 51-year-old man has been found floating in the River Torrens in Adelaide, Australia.
Police were called to the Torrens at 2.20pm on Saturday after a Netley man was reportedly seen swimming in the river, trying to retrieve a remote-controlled speedboat.

Witnesses saw the man go under water and never resurface.

The man's body was discovered with the assistance of Police Water Operations just before 4.30pm. Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

Indian man sets new world record for typing sentence in the shortest time with his nose

Mohammed Khurshid Hussain, who already holds the Guinness world record for typing the English language alphabet in the quickest time on a keyboard using his fingers, attempted to break the record for typing a sentence in the shortest time with his nose, in Hyderabad, India on Thursday.
It was Mr Hussain’s second attempt to break the world record for typing the sentence ‘Guinness world records have challenged me to type this sentence using my nose in the fastest time.’, with his nose.
The record had been held by another Indian man, Neeta, who achieved the feat in one minute and 33 seconds in Dubai on November 16, 2008. Mr Hussain’s clock stopped at 48.62 seconds when he finished typing the sentence with his nose, smashing the previous world record.

“If you want to set a record, every millisecond counts. This time I typed with one eye closed, as it is difficult otherwise to locate the keys. This is my second attempt to break the record. Earlier last month, I typed the sentence with my nose in 53.44 seconds, (video), for which I am yet to receive the certificate,” he said. Mr Hussain, 22, currently holds the world record for typing A to Z on a keyboard in 3.43 seconds, which was achieved on February 2, 2012.



West Nile in your town?

Since its introduction to the U.S. in 1999, West Nile […]

Women's Brains More Resilient

Women and girls are much less likely to have an intellectual disability than males, possibly due to a female protective effect.

More Than 120 Published Scientific Papers Withdrawn after Proven to Be Computer-Generated Gibberish

Two years ago, we learned that a scholarly journal of mathematics had published an article that was computer-generated gibberish without any mathematical meaning. The author--or rather, the person who used the authoring program--was trying to prove a point about how slipshod the peer-review process had become.
Now the scientific publishers Springer and IEEE have withdrawn more than 120 scientific papers from publication. Most of the papers originate in China. The publishers pulled them because a computer scientist developed a program that detects fake papers. Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France ran publication databases through his program. In the journal Nature, Richard Van Noorden describes the results:
Labbé does not know why the papers were submitted — or even if the authors were aware of them. Most of the conferences took place in China, and most of the fake papers have authors with Chinese affiliations. Labbé has emailed editors and authors named in many of the papers and related conferences but received scant replies; one editor said that he did not work as a program chair at a particular conference, even though he was named as doing so, and another author claimed his paper was submitted on purpose to test out a conference, but did not respond on follow-up.
Why do scientists engage in this practice? Because the more frequently a scientist is cited, the more prestige that author acquires. Labbé demonstrated this by creating a fake scholar and giving him enormous prestige:
In April 2010, he used SCIgen to generate 102 fake papers by a fictional author called Ike Antkare [see pdf]. Labbé showed how easy it was to add these fake papers to the Google Scholar database, boosting Ike Antkare’s h-index, a measure of published output, to 94 — at the time, making Antkare the world's 21st most highly cited scientist. Last year, researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, added to Labbé’s work, boosting their own citation scores in Google Scholar by uploading six fake papers with long lists to their own previous work2.

Neanderthals cleared of 'stampeding mammoths off cliffs'

Heaps of mammoth and woolly rhino bones found piled up at the foot of a cliff were thought to be the grim results of Neanderthals driving the beasts over the edge.
Researchers doubt mammoths would ever have ventured up to the high, rocky plateau where Neanderthals were alleged to have chased them
The piles of bones are a major feature at La Cotte de St Brelade on Jersey, one of the most spectacular Neanderthal sites in Europe. But the claim that they mark the remains of mass slaughter has been all but ruled out by a fresh investigation.
Researchers have found that the plateau that ends at the cliff edge was so rocky and uneven that mammoths and other weighty beasts would never have ventured up there. Even if the creatures had clambered so high, the Neanderthals would have had to chase them down a steep dip and back up the other side long before the animals reached the cliff edge and plunged to their doom.
"I can't imagine a way in which Neanderthals would have been able to force mammoths down this slope and then up again before they even got to the edge of the headland," said Beccy Scott, an archaeologist at the British Museum. "And they're unlikely to have got up there in the first place."
Hundreds of thousands of stone tools and bone fragments have been uncovered at the Jersey site where Neanderthals lived on and off for around 200,000 years. The site was apparently abandoned from time to time when the climate cooled, forcing the Neanderthals back to warmer territory.
Scott and her colleagues drew on a survey of the seabed that stretches away from the cliff to reconstruct the landscape when the Neanderthals lived there. The land, now submerged under higher sea levels, was cut with granite ravines, gullies and dead-end valleys – a terrain perfect for stalking and ambushing prey.
"The site would have been an ideal vantage point for Neanderthal hunters. They could have looked out over the open plain and watched mammoths, woolly rhinos and horses moving around. They could see what was going on, and move out and ambush their prey," said Scott. Details of the study are published in the journal Antiquity.
The researchers have an alternative explanation for the bone heaps. Neanderthals living there may have brought the bones there after hunts, or from scavenged carcasses, and used them for food, heating and even building shelters. Older sediments at the site are rich with burnt bone and charcoal, suggesting the bones were used as fuel. The heaps of bones were preserved when Neanderthals last abandoned the site, and a fine dust of silt blew over and preserved the remains.
Archaeologists have investigated the site at La Cotte de St Brelade since the mid-19th century. More artefacts have been unearthed here than at all the other Neanderthal sites in the British Isles put together.
The exposed coastal site, one of the last resting places of the Neanderthals, was battered by fierce storms in February, raising fears that ancient remains at the site had been destroyed.

Surreal Places That Could Have Been Colossal Works Of Art

Do you sometimes get the feeling when visiting a place that's so beautifully unreal it seems like you're stepping into a painting, a movie set, or a large-scale art installation? Our imagination can run so wild. Here's a list of incredibly captivating places that would draw you in and leave you breathless in wonder.

Six Flags On The Moon

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Do the Apollo flags remain where they were planted or have they fallen or have they disintegrated after four decades of exposure the lunar environment? James Fincannon wants to find out whether the flags are still in the same position as they were left.

Daily Comic Relief


Couple say life has been hell since pigeons moved in beneath solar panels on their roof

A couple said they have endured 12 months of sleepless nights and deteriorating health due to dozens of noisy pigeons setting up home beneath solar panels on their roof.
Stephen Fishenden and wife Linda, 65, of Chingford, east London, say they have lived through “hell” since the birds began to seek shelter beneath the energy-saving panels, which were fitted by a contractor working for council homes manager Ascham Homes.

Mr Fishenden first complained to Ascham Homes in March last year about the “horrendous” noise keeping them awake at night and his wife’s deteriorating health. The 65 year-old said: "I specifically asked at the time if we would have any problems with birds and was reassured they would not be a problem. It has been hell and has made my wife ill. She’s asthmatic and is having to use her pump more regularly.
"We are both constantly awake and have had hundreds of sleepless nights. It is particularly horrendous in the morning." Following further complaints, the couple said a contractor visited the property in late November and told them he would provide a quote for the scaffold tower, but never returned. A spokeswoman for Ascham Homes has apologized for the delay and blamed the weather.

Everglades Pythons

The estimated tens of thousands of Burmese pythons now populating […]

Man perturbed by large python in his toilet

Luke Harcla was attending to nature's call when nature itself came too close for comfort.
The hairdresser from Springfield, South East Queensland, Australia, was startled last Monday when he discovered a two-meter long diamond python in the toilet of his home. "When I first saw it I freaked," Mr Harcla said.
"I tapped the side of the toilet and it didn't move, so I got my big, long pair of tongs and gave it a bit of a poke. I thought it was dead, so I flushed it - it took a few goes - and it disappeared." But just when Mr Harcla was game enough to sit back down, the roving reptile returned to the bowl two days later.
"My partner came home to find the snake back and it was alive," he said. "Let's just say there were a few expletives." Although diamond pythons are non-venomous, they can inflict a painful bite. In some cases, their teeth have been known break off and remain implanted in the victim. Snake Advice and Relocation came to the rescue, retrieving the slippery serpent from the loo.

Escaped python lurking in woman's loudspeaker lured out by dead, delicious mouse

A woman from Stockholm in Sweden called the police after finding a python in one of her loudspeakers on Friday. Police were left baffled, and animal experts were called in with a "dead and delicious" treat to lure out the escapee. "The woman found it slithering on the floor of her apartment and she called the police, but before they arrived it crept inside one of the speakers," Jonas Wahlström, managing director of Skansen aquarium said.
Officers on the scene tried to cajole the reptile from its hideout, but were unsuccessful. "The woman was terrified for real, but we were not scared, we never are," a Södermalm police spokesperson said. In the end, the officers turned to the animal park for advice. Zookeepers suggested putting the entire speaker in a large bag and delivering the package to the park, and the police did as they were told. "We then decided to offer the snake a dead, delicious mouse right by the hole of the loudspeaker.
"It finally poked its head out and we grabbed it," Walhström explained. The snake turned out to be an Australian carpet python, also known as a diamond python. They aren't venomous, but their tiny sharp teeth can pack a painful punch. Carpet pythons can grow to four meters in length, but are usually half that, and feed on small mammals after suffocating them to death. Wahlström speculated that the python was an escapee from a neighbor of the Södermalm woman, and had made a break for it in a ventilation shaft.

"They're very good at creeping," he added. Police have labelled the snake as "lost goods", meaning the owner is free to collect it from the zoo. If no owner shows up, the snake will find a new home at Skansen or will be donated to another animal park. But there's one place it's sure not to end up. "We asked the woman if she wanted to keep it, and she just said 'Absolutely not'," Wahlström said with a chuckle.

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