Welcome to ...

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.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Daily Drift

May be? Hell, IS harmful to our country...

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

 Lips: Appreciate Them ... !
Today is - Lips Appreciation Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Soacha, Bogota, Medellin, Colombia
Britannia, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, Byward Market, Edmonton, Canada
Tijuana, Mexico City, Mexico
Valdivia, Chile
Chelmsford, Hesperia, Irondequiot, Decatur, Crum Lynne, United States
Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Barquismeto, Venezuela
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Paramaribo, Suriname
Brussels, Belgium
Paris, France
Mikolow, Stalowa Wola, Poznan, Poland
Tbilisi, Georgia
Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Croatia
L'Olleria, Basauri, Madrid, Barcelona, Spain
Vladivostok, Samara, Moscow, Ryazan, Kazan, Russia
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Milan, Rome, Vicenza, Florence, Andria, Italy
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dublin, Ireland
Reykjavik, Iceland
Bratislava, Slovakia
Stockholm, Sweden
Ankara, Turkey
London, England
Athens, Greece
Uzhhorod, Kiev, Horlivka, Ukraine
Prague, Vinicne Sumice, Czech Republic
Sofia, Bulgaria
Buala, Jakarta, Medan, Indonesia
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Jabalpur, Pune, Kolkata, Noida, Bikaner, Chennai, Delhi, India
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad, Iran
Hanoi, Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Qaraghandy, Kazakhstan
Taipei, Taiwan
Colombo, Gampaha, Sri Lanka
Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Pakistan
La Dagotiere, Mauritius
Kuala Lumpur, George Town, Malaysia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Dakar, Senegal
Lagos, Nigeria
Nairobi, Kenya
Ouargla, Algeria
Cairo, Egypt
North Ryde, Homebush, Perth, Australia
Makati, Quezon City, Philippines

Today in History

37 On a trip to the Italian mainland from his home on Capreae, the emperor Tiberius dies on the Bay of Naples.
1190 The Crusades begin the massacre of Jews in York, England.
1527 The Emperor Babur defeats the Rajputs at the Battle of Kanvaha, removing the main Hindu rivals in Northern India.
1621 The first Indian appears to colonists in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1833 Susan Hayhurst becomes the first woman to graduate from a pharmacy college.
1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is published.
1865 Union troops push past Confederate blockers at the Battle of Averasborough, N.C.
1907 The British cruiser Invincible, the world's largest, is completed at Glasgow shipyards.
1913 The 15,000-ton battleship Pennsylvania is launched at Newport News, Va.
1917 Russian Czar Nicholas II abdicates his throne.
1926 Physicist Robert H. Goddard launches the first liquid-fuel rocket.
1928 The United States plans to send 1,000 more Marines to Nicaragua.
1935 Adolf Hitler orders a German rearmament and violates the Versailles Treaty.
1939 Germany occupies the rest Czechoslovakia.
1945 Iwo Jima is declared secure by U.S. forces although small pockets of Japanese resistance still exist.
1954 CBS introduces The Morning Show hosted by Walter Cornet to compete with NBC's Today Show.
1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson submits a $1 billion war on poverty program to Congress.
1968 U.S. troops in Vietnam destroy a village consisting mostly of women and children, the action is remembered as the My-Lai massacre.
1984 Mozambique and South Africa sign a pact banning support for one another's internal foes.
1985 Associated Press newsman, Terry Anderson is taken hostage in Beirut.

Non Sequitur


The repugicans Take Cruelty to a New Level By Denying Hungry Children Food

Over the past two weeks repugicans have lined up behind Paul Ryan to support his attack on anti-poverty programs that takes aim at food assistance for the poor…
When most Americans hear the word inhumane they likely think of human beings so cruel, heartless, and without compassion for misery or suffering of animals that they mistreat them for sheer pleasure. It is highly probable that some Americans who decry cruelty and inhumane treatment of animals are avid supporters of repugicans whose inhumanity towards other Americans, especially hungry children, far exceeds cruel mistreatment of animals. Over the past two weeks repugicans have lined up behind Paul Ryan to support his attack on anti-poverty programs that takes aim at food assistance for the poor with special emphasis on children benefitting from food stamps, school lunches, and Head Start.
There is little argument that repugicans preventing Americans, especially working-poor Americans, from having access to healthcare exposes their lack compassion and is a hallmark of conservative cruelty. But their new effort to take food out of the mouths of Americans and openly targeting hungry children to the delight of their equally inhumane supporters is beyond the pale. Apparently repugicans believe denying children food is a winning campaign strategy going into the 2014 midterm elections and it is likely their inhumane supporters will reward them handsomely.
It is not that repugicans are hungry and need the food that anti-poverty programs provide to hungry children; they simply do not want poor Americans to have basic sustenance because they are cruel savages. Even wild predators do not take food out of the mouths of other animals once their hunger has been satisfied and it is what elevates wild beasts above the heartless beasts in the conservative movement. Perpetuating food insecurity in the poor is an idea repugicans and teabaggers embrace because taking food out of the mouths of the poor, whether working Americans, Veterans, senior citizens or children obviously gives them a high degree of satisfaction.
Wingnuts believe the government wastes too much money helping the poor because they believe it is better to spend on subsidies for big oil, churches, corporations, and tax cuts for the richest Americans. According to repugicans, government assistance to feed children with free or reduced-price school lunches, food stamps, and programs such as Head Start is proof of liberals’ unfair wealth redistribution that teaches poor families earning poverty wages to hate their children.
Portraying government assistance recipients as less than human is a hold-over from repugicans’ man-god Reagan that has re-emerged as a dependable dog-whistle that is very popular with wingnuts; especially since Americans elected an African American man as President. The popularity of taking food from children among wingnuts explains repugican protests that they are tired of giving “those blah people” free stuff using other people’s (read white people) money. Interestingly, it is red states with predominately white repugican voters who take more taxpayer money for food stamps, healthcare, and other “free stuff” who will support repugicans in spite of their promise to take the food out of their own children’s mouths. Americans may remember that in inhumane mormon country school officials ripped lunch trays away from dozens of elementary school children before they could eat anything, so any American that thinks repugicans will not take food away from poor children has not been paying attention.
The latest repugican to join Paul Ryan’s attack on school lunches is Jack Kingston (r-GA) who is a primary candidate in the Georgia Senate race. Kinston argued that poor students must start earning that “free lunch” by forcing them to do janitorial work in school before they get their food. The barbaric Kinston hates the federal school lunch program, but is open to supporting the National School Lunch Program if poor students are forced to work for them to teach small children that nothing is free. Kingston said he talked to the Secretary of Agriculture about forcing the kids to sweep the floor of the cafeteria because “think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.” What Kingston and all repugicans fully understand is that over 60% of school teachers report that students regularly come to school hungry and, as this author can attest, the problem is getting much worse according to a survey by No Kid Hungry. The repugicans are anxious to make the problem incredibly worse and there is no doubt if they are able the school lunch program will be abolished if men like Paul Ryan and Kingston have their way.
The National School Lunch Program provides federal assistance for public (and private) schools to offer lunch to children every school day if their household earns below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. The school lunch program provides 17.5 million kids with free or reduced-cost lunches and repugicans lust to take the food away from 17.5 million children. Earning below the poverty line informs that most poor children participating in the program live in households where their parents work earning poverty wages that belies the repugican assertion that able-bodied people are just lazy and exist to mooch off the federal government. Their claim that working poor Americans are lazy fits perfectly with their other claim that liberals decry the dignity of work and are teaching the poor that working at low-wage jobs means they are lazy if their children receive free school lunches. Kingston’s use of “no free school lunches” looks like a rallying cry to marshal support from inhumane wingnuts who want the school lunch programs abolished and Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan is leading the charge to take food from children.
It was reported the other day that Ryan cited a white nationalist’s (Nazi) “racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by genetic inferiority.” Ryan said poverty is the result of lazy inner city (read Black) men who refuse to work and expect taxpayers to support them via government assistance. Ryan claimed his focus to combat the ‘lazy Black man problem‘ is “creating work requirements for men in our inner cities” to deal with what he called “the real culture problem in these communities.” However, Ryan can hardly create work requirements when he and repugicans have opposed, obstructed, and outright blocked every attempt to create living-wage jobs and spent the past four years killing millions jobs for sheer sport and to add more Americans to the ranks of poverty.
Ryan has been at the forefront of every repugican plot to increase income inequality by perpetuating the “real wingnut culture problem” of keeping Americans in poverty by opposing anti-poverty measures such as raising the minimum wage, opposing unemployment insurance extensions, and voting to abolish overtime pay. It is worth reiterating that Ryan attacked every anti-poverty program in existence in a blatantly false examination of anti-poverty programs over the past 50 years. Ryan, like Kingston, said “We want people to reach their potential and so the dignity of work is very valuable and important and we have to re-emphasize work and reform our welfare programs.” Reforming welfare programs is conservative-speak for abolishing school lunches, food stamps, Head Start, and every program that helps millions of Americans working at poverty-wage jobs that forces them to depend on school lunches and food stamps to feed their hungry families.
It is irrelevant why poor students need programs like Head Start, food stamps, or free school lunches. The repugican concept of abolishing the programs, or eliminating child labor laws to force children to work at school to eat, exposes repugicans and teabaggers as heartless, inhumane, and cruel. It takes an innately cruel human being to deliberately withhold food from hungry children, and repugicans are growing more aggressive in their drive to starve already hungry children. It is a common practice to euthanize aggressive animals that injure or harm people, and yet repugicans are allowed to live when their aggression towards children is no less injurious or cruel than a rabid dog mauling a small child to death; only slower. Human beings readily put-down aggressive animals without giving it a second thought, and there is no justification for not putting down aggressive repugicans for their inhumane treatment of America’s children.

Delusional Creationists Attack Neil deGrasse Tyson for Blind Faith in Science

As you can imagine, the forces of the so-aptly-called religio-wingnuts are really not happy with the new TV series, Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, which premiered last Sunday night. The series is, of course, a reboot of the 1980 series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was hosted by astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan. This time around the series is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Of course, when Sagan produced the original series, scientists could actually talk about science without being metaphorically burned at the stake. That is no longer true, and you might have heard how one local station, KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, managed to edit out the only mention of “evolution” in the series’ first episode.
Meanwhile, deGrasse finds himself attacked for an oxymoronic “blind faith” in science. Because, apparently, blind faith in the comprehension of the Cosmos of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age humans is so much more advanced, and trustworthy, than ours. If you see something bizarrely hypocritical about creationists attacking somebody for having “blind faith,” you’re not alone.
Apologetics cabal answers in genesis reviewed the new series (a religio-wingnut delusional group-think tank), and found it lacking, finding fault with Carl Sagan’s words, that, “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” The producers, we are warned, “have hoisted a most unscientific flag above this ‘ship of the imagination.’”
And answers in genesis is a huge backer of what is called “young Earth creationism” and their pet astronomer, Danny Faulkner, who, for a change, actually has some scientific credentials: a B.S. (Math), M.S. (Physics), M.A. and PhD (Astronomy, Indiana University), had this to say about the Sagan’s words:
There is not a bit of science in that statement. When Sagan said it 34 years ago and then wrote it in his book, a lot of people were saying, “Wow! What a profound scientific statement,” but it’s actually a philosophical statement. It is denial of the supernatural, saying the only thing that exists is the physical world, the natural world. But to say that with any certainty Sagan had to get outside the physical universe and see that the physical universe is all that there is. And he would have had to do that in eternity past and in eternity future in order to say that. If he could really see that, then he would be god. It’s a very bold, metaphysical statement. It’s an assertion. But it’s not science. It’s not a scientific statement.
Don’t you just wish Carl Sagan were here to respond to that statement? If you’re like me, you get chills just thinking about it. But in fact, in his final book, 1996′s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, he anticipated it. There, Sagan wrote that “Religions are often the state-protected nurseries of pseudoscience,” and that pseudoscience itself “is easier to contrive than science, because distracting confrontations with reality – where we cannot control the outcome of the comparison – are more readily avoided. The standards of argument, what passes for evidence, are much more relaxed.” Also, he points out that “Pseudoscience speaks to powerful emotional need that science often leaves unfulfilled” and warns that at its heart “is the idea that wishing makes it so.”
Wishing definitely plays a role in Faulkner’s thinking. You have to wonder when, precisely, science took the supernatural into its embrace. The absurdity of the claim makes a mockery of Faulkner’s scientific credentials, because even the word “supernatural” (which is a medieval word, by the way: supernātūrālis: supra “above” + naturalis “nature”) is defined (by my Oxford American Dictionary) as “referring or relating to events, forces, or powers that cannot be explained by science or the laws of nature.”
Science, then, by its very nature, cannot include the supernatural. Notice how Faulkner tries to denigrate Sagan’s words as “philosophical” while his own embrace of the supernatural is somehow scientific. Science becomes no more than a “bold metaphysical assertion” while religion-based pseudoscience becomes – you guessed it – science.
And answers in genesis complains,
In short, the opening of Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey spends an hour (less with commercials) summarizing the naturalistic evolutionary view of the origin of life and all things, tricks out the story with colorful computer-generated graphics and photography, and dismisses any religious-based objections by echoing Bruno’s 16th century challenge that our view of god must simply be too small, thus inviting the theistic evolutionary view to become comfortable in the notion that god used a toolkit of star stuff to create us. (Read more about the problems with compromising the plain teachings of god’s word with the fallible and unverifiable claims of evolution and billions of years in “10 Dangers of Theistic Evolution,” “Feedback: Theistic Evolution,” “jesus, Scripture and Error: An Implication of Theistic Evolution,” and “Theistic Evolution: An Incoherent and Inconsistent Worldview?”)
Wait just a second: Evolution is unverifiable and the claims made by unknown authors (there is more than one creation story in genesis) based on Bronze Age religious belief IS verifiable?
We are told that,
The scientific method has led to the discoveries and technological leaps that shape our lives and our understanding of the universe. Unfortunately, when it comes to the topic of unobservable origins, mainstream scientists who believe big bang cosmology and molecules-to-man evolution think that the god-free framework they have invented is a factual reality that accurately and reliably describes a past they can never examine. They test their ideas about the past within their own concept of what the past was like, and they believe they are actually using the scientific method to make observations about the past.
Coming from a religious cabal that apparently knows less about science and the supernatural than did people in the 16th century, when the word “supernatural” was first used, this is a laughable statement. And answers in genesis complains that abiogenesis “violates the fundamental laws of biology” but the book of genesis does not. “Evolutionary blind faith in a ‘great mystery’ – such as that invoked by Bill Nye in the recent Nye-Ham Debate—trumps the scientific method.”
Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, if the first segment is any indication, will attempt to package unconditional blind faith in evolution as scientific literacy in an effort to create interest in science. We hope that future segments will spend more time showing actual scientific observations—such as the brief part of this episode showing where earth is in relation to the rest of the universe. In fact that segment of the program is reminiscent of the theme of the Creation Museum Planetarium production, Created Cosmos. In Created Cosmos we see how we as people of earth stand in relation to the immensity of god’s creation. So seeing the enormity of what god in his power created, we get a better perspective on god’s great love for us. god made all that we have just seen, told us how and when he did it in his word, chose to continue loving rebellious human beings, and sent jesus christ, the son of god, into the this world to suffer and die to bear the sin-guilt of us all (Hebrews 2:9-10). Why should such a great god, who can create the universe and the atom and all life, care about us?
We maintain that god our creator was the only eyewitness to the time of origins and that he has given us the truth about how he created everything in his word. He is the one that created the natural laws that govern the physical world and make science possible. Drawing correct conclusions about the unobservable past requires evaluating ideas about the past within the framework of the creator’s history. Drawing correct conclusions about our own nature, how we should live our lives, and what will happen to each of us when we die also requires that we get our information from the word of the source of life, the one who created the cosmos.
That’s fine. But that’s not science. That’s religion. That’s not fact, it’s belief. And in fact, in the Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan had something to say about that, as well:
I meet many people offended by evolution, who passionately prefer to be the personal handicraft of god than to arise by blind physical and chemical forces over aeons from slime. They also tend to be less than assiduous in exposing themselves to the evidence. Evidence has little to do with it: What they wish to be true, they believe is true.
There is a difference, after all, between belief and fact, between wishes and truth, between pseudoscience and science. And insisting on adherence to a Bronze Age level of belief about the cosmos and its origins, makes no sense at all in the face of 21st century science. And insisting, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, that the bible is somehow science and that science is not, is about as sad and sorry an example of wishful thinking as you can imagine.

Good Question


Jail for woman, 47, who tried to fool bank staff out of £22,000 while disguised as 81-year-old

A 47-year-old care worker walked into a bank disguised as an 81-year-old in an attempt to steal £22,000 from the woman's account. Blonde Linda Cramphorn donned a curly brown wig, spectacles and a green hat and jacket, with a long skirt and flat shoes, and headed to the Halifax branch in Coalville, Leicestershire.

Sri Lanka seeks hangman who doesn't get upset at sight of gallows

Sri Lanka is searching for a new hangman after the latest recruit got upset on seeing the gallows for the first time and quit, officials said on Tuesday.

The Prisons Department appointed the new hangman, the third most qualified from 176 applicants, last week, months after two hangmen chosen late last year failed to show up for work.
"We gave him one week's training, but he resigned after seeing the gallows, saying that he didn't want the job," Chandrarathna Pallegama, commissioner general of prisons said.

"He told me that after seeing the gallows he got upset. Next time, we will show the gallows to the new recruits before giving them basic training." Sri Lanka has not carried out an execution since 1976, despite the fact that there are at least 405 convicts on death row.

Man breaks world record for smashing walnuts with his head

Mohammad Rashid managed to break 155 walnuts with his head in one minute at the Punjab Youth Festival in Lahore, Pakistan, smashing the previous record of 44 held by Ashrita Furman of the US.

The Sad Truth Is ...


English mispronunciations that became common usage

Here's a great history of English mispronunciations that became the received pronunciations.
The piece makes the important point that English has no canon, no unequivocal right way or wrong way of speaking -- a point that is often lost in Internet linguistic pedantry and literacy privilege.
I'm as guilty as anyone of thinking that my English is the best English, but the next time I wince at "nukular," I'll remind myself that "bird" started out as "brid" and "wasp" started out as "waps," but were mispronounced into common usage.
Adder, apron and umpire all used to start with an "n". Constructions like "A nadder" or "Mine napron" were so common the first letter was assumed to be part of the preceding word. Linguists call this kind of thing reanalysis or re-bracketing.
Wasp used to be waps; bird used to be brid and horse used to be hros. Remember this when the next time you hear someone complaining about aks for ask or nucular for nuclear, or even perscription. It's called metathesis, and it's a very common, perfectly natural process.

Language 'evolution' may shed light on human migration out-of-Beringia

Evolutionary analysis applied to the relationship between North American and Central Siberian languages may indicate that people moved out from the Bering Land Bridge, with some migrating back to central Asia and others into North America, according to a paper published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 12, 2014 by Mark Sicoli, from Georgetown University and Gary Holton from University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Language 'evolution' may shed light on human migration out-of-Beringia
This polar projection map of Asia and North America shows the approximate terminal Pleistocene shoreline. The center of geographic distribution of Yeniseian and Na-Dene language is in Beringia. From this center burgundy arrows extend toward the North American coast and into Siberia. A blue arrow indicates Interior dispersals of Na-Dene
Languages evolve slowly overtime and may even follow human migratory patterns. A proposed language family known as the Dené-Yeniseian suggests that there are common language elements between the North American Na-Dene languages and the Yeniseian languages of Central Siberia. To investigate this further, scientists employed a technique originally developed to investigate evolutionary relationships between biological species called phylogenetic analysis, where a tree is constructed to represent relationships of common ancestry based on shared traits. Scientists used linguistic phylogeny to work out how approximately 40 languages from the area diffused across North America and Asia. The authors first coded a linguistic dataset from the languages, modeled the relationship between the data, and then modeled it against migration patterns from Asia to North America, or out-of-Beringia.
Language 'evolution' may shed light on human migration out-of-Beringia Network summarizes all splits with at least 10% support in 3,001 trees sampled. Longer branch lengths indicate higher probabilities for splits.
Results show an early dispersal of Na-Dene along the North American coast with a Yeniseian back migration through Siberia and a later dispersal of North American interior Na-Dene languages. Sicoli explained, "we used computational phylogenetic methods to impose constraints on possible family tree relationships modeling both an Out-of-Beringia hypothesis and an Out-of-Asia hypothesis and tested these against the linguistic data. We found substantial support for the out-of-Beringia dispersal adding to a growing body of evidence for an ancestral population in Beringia before the land bridge was inundated by rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age."
Although the authors cannot conclusively determine the migration pattern just from these results, and state that this study does not necessarily contradict the popular tale of hunters entering the New World through Beringia, it at the very least indicates that migration may not have been a one-way trip. This work also helps demonstrate the usefulness of evolutionary modeling with linguistic trees for investigating these types of questions.
These finding suggest that phylogenetics may be used to explore the implications of deep linguistic relationships.

Ancient Greek Tombstones Served as Therapy

Analysis of tombstones from the Hellenistic period suggest tombstones served as much more than markers for the dead.

The genomic medicine revolution still has a little ways to go

Your whole genome can now be scanned in a couple days for a few thousand dollars. Unfortunately, it's not yet accurate enough to be a clinical tool in your doctor's office, writes Nancy Schute at NPR.

‘Love hormone’ could provide new treatment for anorexia

‘Love hormone’ could provide new treatment for anorexia
Oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’, could provide a […]

The Science of a 'Perfect' Gas Explosion

Natural gas can cook your dinner, blast the roof off your house, and so much more.

Random Photos

Bomb shelters as underground farms

Zero carbon foods tunnel jpg 800x450 q85 crop upscale Underground the city of London are eight massive bomb shelters like the one pictured above that have been empty or used as document storage for more than 50 years. Now, one of them is being transformed into a subterranean farm. The farming group, called Zero Carbon Food, based their system on hydroponics and LED light powered by wind-generated electricity.
"When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy, but when I visited the tunnels and sampled the delicious produce they are already growing down there I was blown away," says two Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jr.

Rare mutant redwood to be chopped down to make way for railroad

Matthew says: "An extremely rare albino chimero coast redwood tree is growing in the small Sonoma County town of Cotati. Federal regulators say the tree must be chopped down because the genetically mutated redwood is too close to a proposed set of new railroad tracks. Preservationists are hoping to raise public awareness and save the tree. The tree is believed to be one of fewer than 10 albino chimero redwood trees in the world."

Monster Rare Yellow Hypergiant Star Discovered

HR 5171A is one of the ten largest stars known to exist in our galaxy, and it's co-joined with a stellar binary partner.

Lost Einstein Paper Posed Alternate Cosmic Theory

Albert Einstein wasn’t always convinced that the universe began with a Big Bang.

Daily Comic Relief


Warmer Antarctic May Help Humpbacks, Harm Seals, Penguins

Summer ice cover reductions may alter the base of the Antarctic ecosystem.

Extinct Mammal Had an Extreme Underbite

Waters off the California coast were once home to a porpoise that used a long, lower snout to hunt for food.
A "graveyard of fossilized whale skeletons" has been discovered in Chile.

Lost Footage of Extinct Bird Found

Once common in America, the prairie chicken called the Heath hen went extinct in 1932. Until recently, there was no hope of seeing the bird in motion again. But a 1918 film was found, in bad condition, a few years ago and has now been restored for viewing. Wayne Petersen of Mass Audubon calls it “the birding equivalent of an Elvis sighting.”
“I had heard about this film through various channels off and on through the years. It had gotten to the point where it was almost apocryphal in my mind” said Petersen, director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Areas program for Mass Audubon. “Nobody knew where it was, nobody had ever seen it, but I was aware it existed. It was like the holy grail.”
The 40-minute film was shown publicly for the first time at the Mass Audubon Birders Meeting last weekend. A two minute clip is available online at The Boston Globe, along with the story of the Heath hen and how it went extinct

Terrified girl called police after mistaking chameleon for a crocodile

A terrified girl in Abu Dhabi made an emergency call to police after she thought she had spotted a crocodile in her back garden, only for officers to find it was a chameleon. She called the police operations room to tell them the creature was flapping its tongue and about to attack her.

Police mobilized forces and arrived at the property, where they found that it was just her neighbor pet chameleon that had escaped. The distressed girl was calmed down by a policewoman. A police spokesman said the force takes all reports of escaped animals seriously. He asked pet owners to ensure their animals are properly restrained to avoid them escaping and causing alarm to the community.
A wildlife expert said although it was the first time she had heard of someone mistaking a chameleon for a crocodile, it wasn’t an impossible presumption if the person hadn’t seen either animal in real life. “Chameleons and crocodiles are physically very different,” said Cynthia Barwise Joubert, head of invertebrates at the Sharjah Wildlife and Breeding Center.

“It really depends on what people know and don’t know. It is very possible for a crocodile to get into a garden in the UAE. Animals escape because people hold them illegally. They release them either because they have had enough or they escape because they don’t have proper enclosures. There are a lot of animals which shouldn’t be in this country.” She said people regularly mixed up different species of animals spotted in the wild.

Tortoise-sniffing dog is doing her bit for conservation

Brin the two-year-old Malinois (Belgian shepherd) is helping to save a critically endangered South African tortoise. The geometric tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) is South Africa’s most endangered terrestrial tortoise and the status of this species was recently upgraded to critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is now the third most endangered land tortoise in the world, and has been listed as one of the top 100 most threatened species on earth.
The species is found in the Cape lowlands and is mainly threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation, frequent fires, alien vegetation encroachment, and a probable increase in predation pressure. “In order to monitor and conserve this species, conservationists must have vital information about the size of the population and its presence or absence in suitable habitat,” explained CapeNature spokesman Justin Lawrence. “Getting this type of information requires many, many man hours and this is a limiting factor when gathering data about this species.”

Lawrence said cryptic coloration and the sedentary behavior of the tortoise created problems when conducting counts. “They are incredibly difficult to spot from a visual perspective,” he said. In the United States, the use of conservation detection dogs had been demonstrated to be safe, effective and cost efficient. Dogs were investigated for use as an alternative to humans who were limited to visual clues for finding tortoises. The dogs use their sense of smell to detect geometric tortoises in their natural environment. Presently in South Africa there is one dog handler team conducting field work in the Western Cape.
Brin was trained over six months by CapeNature’s ecological coordinator Vicki Hudson. “Brin loves her ball more than anything else in the world, even food,” said Lawrence. “This is her reward for sniffing out tortoises and she is happy to do this over and over again at any time or place.” Since its implementation, the team has successfully carried out search and rescues, presence/absence surveys, species diversity surveys, and total population estimates. Despite being a new field, Lawrence said it was highly specialized and required distinctive skills to be successful.

Rampaging elephant pulled down house but then rescued trapped baby

An elephant in India smashed a house to bits in Olgara village in West Bengal's Purulia district on Monday night but when it heard a 10-month-old baby crying under the debris, it turned back and carefully removed every last bit of stone, brick and mortar from the infant's body before heading back to the forest.
It's all the more surprising because the lone tusker has killed at least three people in the last year, say forest officers. The family in Olgara village are still in awe. Mother Lalita Mahato said: "We worship Lord Ganesh (the elephant god) in our village. Still, I can't believe that the tusker saved my daughter after breaking down the door and smashing a wall. We watched amazed as it gently removed the debris that had fallen on her. It's a miracle." The child's father, Dipak Mahato, said they were having dinner around 8pm when they suddenly heard a "cracking sound" and then a huge crash from the bedroom.

"We ran over and were shocked to see the wall in pieces and a tusker standing over our baby. She was crying and there were huge chunks of the wall lying all around and on the cot," he said. "The tusker started moving away but when our child started crying again, it returned and used its trunk to remove the debris." They took the girl to Deben Mahato Sadar Hospital. She has some external injuries from the debris falling on her but is not in danger. Hospital superintendent Neelanjana Sen said the infant is stable but they will keep her under observation for 48 hours.
"Unless people attack an elephant, these gentle giants do not harm human beings. They only come down here in search of food," Purulia DFO Om Prokash said. "What's really surprising is that this elephant left the little girl alive even after damaging the house. It seems to have a heart, too," Jhalda ranger Samir Bose said, adding that the lone tusker was last spotted resting in Ghoshra forest on Tuesday evening. A similar incident was reported in Jalpaiguri's Madarihat about six months ago when an elephant herd carefully removed a little girl from harm's way before smashing several houses.

Animal Pictures