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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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, we know who you are and where you live ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

For those interested: In World Cup play Argentina bested Nigeria 3-2: Bosnia-Herzegovina bested Iran 3-1: Switzerland bested Honduras 3-0 while Ecuador and France played to a 0-0 tie in play on the fourteenth day of the tourney.

Canoe, Y'all ... !
Today is - National Canoe Day
Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

 Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Mexico City and San Miguel De Cozumel, Mexico
Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Fredericton, Joliette, Ottawa and Edmonton, Canada
Santiago, Chile
Buenos Aries and Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina
Pescara, Naples, Cagliari, Treviso and Ravenna, Italy
Castello De La Plana, Basauri, Madrid and L'Olleria, Spain
London, Gateshead and Doncaster, England
Warsaw, Poland
Konstanz, Germany
Vladivostok, Razvilka, Ryazan and Moscow, Russia
Paris, France
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Stockholm and Kista, Sweden
Dublin, Tallaght, Ireland
Zaventem. Belgium
Belgrade, Serbia
Lausanne, Switzerland
Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Bratislava, Slovakia
Celje, Slovenia
Tranbjerg, Denmark
Usti Nad Labem, Czech Republic
Panipat, Delhi, Rajahmundry, Pondicherry, New Delhi, Raipur, Gurgaon, Sawai Madhopur, Pune, Mumbai, Bikaner and Chandigarh, India
Beirut, Lebanon
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jakarta and Mulyorejo, Indonesia
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Seoul, Korea
Tehran, Iran
Bangkok, Thailand
La Dagotiere, Mauritius
Hanoi and Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan
The Pacific
Sydney and Adelaide, Australia

Today in History

1096 Peter the Hermit's crusaders force their way across Sava, Hungary.
1243 The Seljuk Turkish army in Asia Minor is wiped out by the Mongols.
1541 Former followers murder Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Conqueror of Peru.
1794 The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus.
1804 The Lewis and Clark Expedition reaches the mouth of the Kansas River after completing a westward trek of nearly 400 river miles.
1844 Julia Gardiner and President John Tyler are married in New York City.
1862 General Robert E. Lee attacks McClellen's line at Mechanicsville during the Seven Days' campaign.
1863 Jubal Early and his Confederate forces move into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
1900 The United States announces it will send troops to fight against the Boxer Rebellion in China.
1907 Russia's nobility demands drastic measures to be taken against revolutionaries.
1908 Shah Muhammad Ali's forces squelch the reform elements of Parliament in Persia.
1916 Russian General Aleksei Brusilov renews his offensive against the Germans.
1917 General Pershing arrives in France with the American Expeditionary Force.
1918 The Germans begin firing their huge 420 mm howitzer, "Big Bertha," at Paris.
1926 A memorial to the first U.S. troops in France is unveiled at St. Nazaire.
1924 After eight years of occupation, American troops leave the Dominican Republic.
1942 The Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter flies for the first time.
1945 The U.N. Charter is signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, California.
1951 The Soviet Union proposes a cease-fire in the Korean War.
1961 A Kuwaiti vote opposes Iraq's annexation plans.
1963 President John Kennedy announces "Ich bin ein Berliner" at the Berlin Wall.
1971 The U.S. Justice Department issues a warrant for Daniel Ellsberg, accusing him of giving away the Pentagon Papers.
1975 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is convicted of election fraud.
1993 Roy Campanella, legendary catcher for the Negro Leagues and the Los Angeles Dodgers, dies.

Non Sequitur


President Obama Shows repugicans What Real Family Values Are All About

President Obama fired up the crowd today at the Working Families Summit in DC to advocate support and flexibility for working families. You know, real family values.…

obama-family-valuesSpeaking to a room full of activists who cheered and often clapped, President Obama fired up the crowd today at the Working Families Summit in DC to advocate support and flexibility for working families. You know, real family values.
“Parents who work full time should earn enough to pay the bills,” President Obama reiterated to the maxed out crowd in the Regency Ballroom at the Omni Hotel.
“Even if repugicans in Congress refuse to budge on this issue this year, everyone knows America deserves a raise,” the President thundered. He explained a few of the things he’s done without Congress, for example, “Since I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, 13 states have taken steps to raise it on their own.”
The repugicans scoffed when President Obama vowed to make this a year of action in spite of their legendary obstruction, but now he’s showing them exactly what he meant at the first ever Working Family Summit in DC, finally giving hard working families a voice in DC. In his 30 minute speech, the President talked about the importance of family friendly policies and how they can work in corporate America.
The summit was designed to support working families while also boosting businesses’ bottom lines — proving that a profitable business and valuing assets like people are not incompatible.
Here’s a video by Center for American Progress, “Good for the family, good for business”: 
In addition to the working families summit, President Obama is working toward economic security for working families in this country by issuing a Presidential memorandum that directs agencies under the purview of the federal government to expand access to flexible work schedules and gives employees the right to request them.
The President based his memorandum on a report “Nine Facts About American Families and Work.”
Obama has already taken action like raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, expanding retirement opportunities, strengthening overtime protections, and signing an Executive Order that protects workers from being retaliated against by their boss if they discuss their wages.
While the President can make a change from the executive office for those workers whose jobs fall under the executive branch purview, only Congress can change the laws for the rest of the country. So the President is calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, among other bills to benefit workers.
This is why elections matter, because our current Congress refuses to do anything other than shut down the government and pass fake Obamacare repeal votes.
President Obama just hijacked family values from repugicans. Only he’s not using the slogan as a bumper sticker, but rather guidance for policy, action, and aspiration. This is real change, even in the face of historical obstruction.

As repugicans Dream Of New Ways To Harm Workers, Obama Fights For Working Families

Photo by:Jason Easley The contrast is stunning. While President Obama spent the day outlining his vision of a better nation for working families, repugicans were dreaming up ways to harm America’s workers.
At the White House Summit on Working Families, President Obama called family the bedrock of our lives, and he discussed the decisions that people shouldn’t have to make in the conflict between work and family.
The president talked about how Americans have to figure how to balance work and family, and how hard it is for people to get by. President Obama talked about the fact that the relative wage hasn’t really gone up in 15 years. He talked about the importance of workplace flexibility. The president said that workers often have to make painful decisions because of the lack of paid family leave,
Obama said that in 31 states child care costs more than a mortgage. He moved on to the minimum wage and said 28 million Americans would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10, and the average minimum wage worker is 35 years old.
Obama said many of these issues aren’t partisan until they get to Washington. The president announced a memorandum giving federal employees access to flexible work schedules. He also announced $25 million for childcare for parents who want to enroll in job training programs.
The president closed by bringing up an interview where he was asked if this was political because women are more likely to vote for Democrats. The president answered, “Women are smarter.”
President Obama said that he takes this issue personally because, “I am the father of two unbelievable young ladies.”
The president laid out a vision of a country that actually makes it easier for working people to have jobs and families.
This was the complete opposite of the repugican agenda. The repugican position on families hasn’t changed in the 21 years since the Family and Medical Leave Act was passed. In 1993, future Speaker of the House, John Boehner warned, “America’s business owners are a resilient bunch, but let there by no doubt, HR 1 will be the demise of some. And as that occurs, the light of freedom will grow dimmer.” Of course, FMLA didn’t destroy freedom, but as the income gap continues to grow, the need for paid family leave has never been greater.
Instead of trying to improve conditions for working families, Speaker Boehner’s office tried to sell repealing Obamacare as the repugican plan to help working families.”The House has passed bill after bill to help working families. In a recent guest post on the Speaker’s blog, Rep. Renee Ellmers (r-NC), chair of the repugican women’s degradation coven, highlighted several of these solutions, including legislation allowing private-sector workers the same comp time flexibility as their public-sector counterparts, and more.”
The bills that Boehner claimed that the House has passed to help working families were actually attempts to take healthcare away for working families and cut taxes for businesses.
While Obama and the Democrats are trying to help working families in America keep up with the rest of the developed world, repuficans refuse to create jobs, extend unemployment benefits, and are opposed to common sense measures that would make life easier for workers.
President Obama is beginning this fight, but it is clear that Democrats and the left are going to be the ones to finish it.

Obama Says Women Are Smarter Which Is Why They Are More Likely to Vote Democrat

During his remarks at the White House Summit on Working Families, President Obama joked that women are more likely to vote for Democrats because they are smarter …
Obama during his remarks at the Working Families Summit. Photo by Sarah Jones.
Speaking at the Working Family Summit in DC on Monday, President Obama fired up the room with his historical support for women.
The president brought up an interview where he was asked if this was political because women are more likely to vote for Democrats. The president answered, “Women are smarter.”
President Obama discussed why the White House is holding this summit, “Part of the purpose of this summit is the point that you are not alone…. These things can’t just be fixed by working harder or being a better parent. All too often they are the result of outdated policies and old way of thinking. Family leave, childcare, these are not frills these are basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses they should be part of our basic needs.”
“All too often these problems are thought of as women’s issues which I guess means you can kinda scoot them aside? At a time when women are a large segment of our work force… when women succeed, America succeeds.”
The room went nuts clapping.
“These are common sense issues. It is about you too, men! Men care about having high quality childcare. Dads rearrange their schedules to make it school meetings… But as someone pointed out to me, when men leave early to get to the game, everybody in the office is like ‘Aw,’ but when women do it, they ask if she is really committed to the job.”
Of the things he loves the most about being President, Obama said Air Force One is one of the biggest, the Truman balcony and the fact that anyone will give you their baby are others. This was his segue to taking care of his girls “and watching sports center once in a while, which I thought was good for their development.”. The President explained that he was lucky to be able to take time off for his girls but not everyone is that fortunate.
The president said, “21st century families deserve 21st century work places… and that means paid family leaves. There is only one developed country in the world that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave and that is us, and that is not a list you want to be on!”
To Congress, the President thundered, “Don’t talk the talk, we want you to walk the walk.”
To the audience, he continued, “If Congress won’t act, we’ll need mayors to act. We’ll need governors to act. We’ll need CEOs to act. And I promise you you will have a president who will act.”
Out of nowhere, someone from the audience shouted out, “Working families love you, President Obama.” The President nodded, “Well, thank you.” Earlier when another citizen shouted “We love you,” he said, “I love you back.” The crowd was fired up for the President’s message regarding working families and women’s rights.
Obama added, “I think if you do the same work you should get the same pay, so Congress should do the right thing and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,” the President said to huge cheers.
The President has been a big champion of women and working families, and now since Congress won’t take any action, he’s taking charge as part of his Year of Action — taking things into the hands of local people, businesses, and using the power of his office to do the right thing for workers.

Women Unchained

Nancy Pelosi and Gloria Steinem Terrify the repugican cabal By Calling On Women To Vote
Speaking of the way some men in the media mocked Hillary Clinton saying they crossed their legs when they see her, Gloria Steinem said, “These serious men –”
Nancy Pelosi interrupted, “They weren’t that serious.”
It was that kind of panel.
A panel of kick butt women rocked the DC Working Families Summit, with refreshing candor. It was moderated by Mika Brzenzinski, and included Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Dr. Judith Rodin, Katherine Phillips, Debra Lee and Gloria Steinem.
A rather unchained Mika listed many of the things that President Obama has done for women, starting with the first piece of legislation he chose to sign (the Lily Ledbetter Act). This was Mika at her best, the way we don’t get to see her on Morning Joe. (Note to MSNBC: many women and men would enjoy a show just like this panel led by the brilliant Ms. Brzenzinski.)
The panel debated how to get more women at the table. Nancy Pelosi answered that if we got money out of politics and the debate were more civil we would be able to elect more women to Congress. The audience of mostly women responded very enthusiastically to this, suggesting that at least some women do feel isolated from running for political office by the ugliness and rudeness exhibited in our political debate.
Pelosi said we need more women in office not because women are better than men, but that the balance is important and would create a more wholesome environment.
“When women vote, women win,” the former Speaker of the House told the audience. The fact of the matter is that too many women don’t vote.
“Companies with women on the boards are actually more productive, and we look at Europe where the rate of diverse boards is more productive, I think it’s double,” Gloria Steinem offered, noting that women contribute a lot in societies where they are at the table. She joked, “We do have some things to teach, what to do wrong, for one thing.”
Steinem pointed out that we need to focus on state legislatures if we want progress. “We can all see from the retrograde legislation and the anti-abortion legislation that some of them are totally unrepresentative of their states because we haven’t paid attention and then they redistrict themselves into perpetuity. That’s why we get members in the House that don’t represent their own states. And we have to do that, we have to focus on that. If each of you take ten people and each of you take one guy and monitor him all of the time, and you demonstrate outside of his house, we could change the nature of state legislature.”
Steinem reminded women to be careful of what they model themselves after — in other words, it’s not that women want to behave like those folks who aren’t being egalitarian to others. She reminded everyone we need to let some folks know that the huge salaries that some are making in this economy is ridiculous.
Speaking about women’s negotiating behaviors, Mika pointed out that the White House made an app for women so they can see what others make. She urged women to get out and learn to talk, saying that speaking live makes her sweat bullets but she does it anyway. She told women that we worry about people liking us, but, “They will like you. After they respect you.”
Mika gave the women a tip to forge their own way, “Don’t act like Joe. Joe can act like Joe.”
Pelosi pointed out that Obamacare gives women a big chance at independence, it gives women an equal chance at being entrepreneurs because they aren’t locked into a healthcare plan for their kids. This is the kind of freedom our founders fought for.
An audience member shouted out, “Thank you Nancy for the ACA!” The audience clapped and Pelosi blushed happily. Pelosi always has a very focused direction. She said she wanted to take this idea that when women succeed, America succeeds, to Congress. Pelosi said it’s not just about getting women into office because not every woman supports other women.
These women were on fire today — unchained. This is the sort of dialogue that should be mainstream, and if it were, would model for young girls that being a strong woman might not be easy, but it’s worth it.

Americans' confidence in their Congress at record low levels

Data from Gallup:
The percentage of Americans expressing a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress is the lowest for a trend that dates back to 1973. The high point for Congress, 42%, came in that year...

Democrats, independents, and repugicans are about equally likely to express low confidence in Congress. This is a change from the past and likely reflects the split control of Congress... Between 2009 and 2012, a period that saw Congress come under split control, these partisan differences gradually diminished, and this year, Democrats are a mere two percentage points more likely than repugicans to report having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

Americans' confidence in Congress is not only at its lowest point on record, but also is the worst Gallup has ever found for any institution it has measured since 1973. 

The Koch Brothers Take a Loss As The Supreme Court Rules The EPA Can Regulate Greenhouse Gasses

In a complicated ruling, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Koch Brothers by not overturning the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses.
The utility industry, the Chamber of Commerce, and 13 states led by Texas argued that the EPA does not have the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but by a vote of 7-2, the court ruled that the EPA does have the authority to regulate emissions at facilities that already release pollutants.
The EPA declared victory in a statement, “Today is a good day for all supporters of clean air and public health and those concerned with creating a better environment for future generations. We are pleased that the Court’s decision is consistent with our approach to focus on other Clean Air Act tools like the Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan.”
Meanwhile, Justice Scalia grumbled that the EPA got almost everything they wanted out of the ruling.
The EPA wanted the power to regulate 86% of emissions, the court ruled that they could regulate 83%.
The repugicans and the Koch Brothers have been contesting the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for years, so this is a major loss for the Kochs and a definitive step in the fight against climate change.
The EPA has the authority to regulate, so now the political battle will move towards regulating future polluters, not just those who are already polluting.

Mississippi tea party Candidate Refuses To Concede In Furious Post-Election Speech

Sore Loser 
(but then again he is a wingnut so it goes without saying since he cheated as all wingnuts do and still lost ...) 
Chris McDanielA furious Chris McDaniel refused to concede the repugican nomination for U.S. Senate to incumbent  Thad Cochran on Tuesday night, casting a pall of illegitimacy on Cochran's win in a heated runoff battle.
In an approximately nine-minute long speech after multiple news outlets had handed victory to Cochran, McDaniel accused his intra-party opponents of "abandoning the wingnut movement" to win — without ever mentioning Cochran by name.
"There’s something strange about a repugican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats," McDaniel said, after he was introduced by a supporter as "the repugican nominee" for Senate.
"It's our job to make sure the sanctity of the vote is upheld."
The possible next steps for the McDaniel campaign are unclear, but spokesman for McDaniel said to "stay tuned."
McDaniel said in his speech there were "dozens of irregularities" reported at polls. 
"You've heard the stories," he said, when supporters began shouting, "Tell us!"
The  final three weeks of the nasty campaign  the race featured a back-and-forth, racially charged battle over the state's voting laws.
Cochran had sought to save his Senate seat by expanding the electorate, particularly by turning out non-traditional repugican cabal primary voters including black Democrats. Mailers supporting Cochran accused the tea party of trying to suppress the black vote on Tuesday by, among other things, sending so-called poll watchers to election spots.
"Before this race ends, we have to be certain that the repugican primary was won by repugican voters," McDaniel said.

Utah County Declares BLM's Authority 'Is Not Recognized' There

A Utah county passed a resolution this month asserting that the authority of federal agents, specifically those of the Bureau of Land Management, to enforce state or local laws -- even on federal land -- would not be recognized within its borders.
The Carbon County Commission approved the resolution unanimously on June 4.
"Any such attempted exercise of law enforcement powers by an official of a land management agency IS NOT RECOGNIZED by Carbon County," the resolution stated (caps in original), "and shall be deemed AN IMMINENT THREAT TO THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS OF CARBON COUNTY."

Deadly Brawl Tests "Make My Day" Self-Defense Laws

A Colorado prosecutor said he's frustrated that the state's "Make My Day" law prevents him from charging a man who killed an acquaintance during a drunken brawl that spilled into his home, becoming the latest test to self-defense gun laws nationwide..
The New Year's Day shooting involving "foolish, drunken children" likely was not what lawmakers had in mind when they adopted Colorado's law, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said. It protects homeowners from prosecution for using deadly force when someone illegally enters their home and there's reason to believe that person will commit a crime.
Self-defense laws like Colorado's have received renewed attention recently after deadly shootings in Montana, Minnesota and Nevada.
After a six-month investigation, Hautzinger decided last week not to file charges against Joseph Hoskins, 36, in the death of Randy Cook, 47.
After a night of drinking at a party in the western Colorado city of Grand Junction, Cook and another man went to fight Hoskins outside his house. The fight moved inside and to Hoskins' bedroom, where the homeowner said Cook tried to snatch away his shotgun. Hoskins tackled Cook and shot him, according to Hoskins' account of the night, which was relayed to investigators through an attorney.
"These grown men, otherwise basically upstanding, law-abiding citizens, are acting like drunken children, and as a result, a good man got killed, and I can't hold anyone accountable for it in the criminal justice system," Hautzinger said.

What is ISIS?

No doubt you're hearing the term "ISIS" all over the news each day. While clearly it's a terrorist organization, things get more complicated, and frightening, once you know more about them better. Tara has the details on ISIS in this Explainer.

Lightning strike blew man out of his boots

A man who was blown out of his boots by lightning at the weekend says he’s grateful to be alive. Sean O'Connor, 30, from Coweta County, south of Atlanta, Georgia, said he had just picked up a rake on Saturday when, suddenly, he heard a loud crack. “It sounded like a tree falling over,” he said.
“It threw me across the driveway and knocked me out of my boots.” Disoriented, O’Connor initially assumed he had been hit by a tree, until seeing his smoking boot. “When I noticed my boots were on the other side of the driveway and I heard the thunder, I realized it was lightning that had just hit me,” he said.
“When I stood up, I had blood in my mouth. I could smell burnt hair; felt like I had a bad sunburn on my leg," he added. After collecting himself, O’Connor called his wife to tell her what had happened, sending her a cellphone video of the scene when she initially thought he was exaggerating.

O’Connor’s wife then urged him to go to the hospital, where he was held for 24 hours because of an irregular heartbeat. O’Connor returned home on Sunday, emerging from the potentially fatal incident with lower back pain, a few scrapes from when he was thrown and no indications of permanent damage. “I look like my normal self,” he said. “It’s hard for people to believe I was struck by lightning.”

Police officer fired after friend used patrol-car speaker to make inappropriate remarks to public

A Broward Sheriff's Deputy was fired after letting his friend use his patrol car speaker to heckle people on the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Deputy Rodrigo Mello, 33, was off-duty and behind the wheel of his marked patrol car on the night of August 11, 2013, when he took two drunk friends on a joy ride and gave one of them access to the P.A. system. 911 calls started coming in at around 2:30am to report the police cruiser's activities.
One caller reported that the men inside the car were "saying extremely lewd and really stupid things over the PA" A hot dog vendor told deputies he was repeatedly heckled by the joy-riding cruiser that first drove by about 2am and passed by at least three more times in a half-hour. "Hey, how are your hot dogs? Those hot dogs any good?" the vendor said he heard. "I want a hot dog." Whoever was on the loudspeaker also issued catcalls to women on the street and seemed fixated on women's private parts, the vendor said.

"Girls, put your vaginas back in your pants," the vendor said he heard repeatedly. Thinking the patrol car had been stolen, Fort Lauderdale police pulled Mello and his friends over in an alley after the 911 calls began streaming in reporting the errant cruiser. Mello, who was driving, immediately produced his badge and identification to confirm he was a deputy, a noticeably intoxicated friend was in the front passenger seat and a woman was passed out in the back seat.
A sheriff's captain, who went to the scene, determined Mello was not intoxicated, took his vehicle and sent him home. "It was stupid as could be and I look back at it now and it's absolutely ridiculous," Mello later said in a sworn statement. "It was innocent fun. Now looking back at it, it was the stupidest decision I ever made in my life." Mello was a deputy for nearly a decade when he was fired as a result of the incident. He was terminated back in January, and is trying to get his job back.



Why Do People Get Ice Cream Headaches?

You may know an ice cream headache by one of its other names: brain freeze, a cold-stimulus headache, or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. But no matter what you call it, it hurts like hell.
Brain freeze is brought on by the speedy consumption of cold beverages or food. According to Dr. Joseph Hulihan, a former assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at the Temple University Health Sciences Center, ice cream is a very common cause of head pain, with about one third of a randomly selected population succumbing to ice cream headaches.

5 Famous Dishes That Are Named After Humans

If you think that the Caesar's salad is in honor of Julius Caesar or do not know why a certain pizza is called Margherita, or even if you think that Carpaccio refers to an Italian painter, this is the time to figure everything out.
Here are five dishes, and a lot of people's favourite choices, that are named after actual humans. And, yes, you are right believing that the Wellington beef was named after the 1st Duke of Wellington.

$50K worth of cocaine baked into delicious cookies seized at US airport

Customs and Border Protection officials at Newark airport confiscated a batch of cocaine cookies with an estimated street value of over $50,000. Some 118 pellets of cocaine were baked into the tasty treats.
From the Asbury Park Press:
Officials at the airport confiscated cookies with a street value of more than $50,000. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says that's because the cookies had 118 pellets of cocaine baked into them. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)A spokesman for the agency said Thursday that customs officers made the discovery June 5 during an examination of luggage from passengers arriving at the New Jersey airport on a flight from Guatemala City. Customs officials say Guatemalan citizen Mauricio Isidro Rivera Hernandez was arrested after officers allegedly discovered the cookies in his three checked bags.

'Elixir of Long Life'

An 'Elixir of Long Life' is found among 19th-century liquor bottles in New York, and archaeologists mix up a batch.

Homeless in Hawaii

A Nightmare in Paradise
Roberta Huddy, 50, has lived in her van with her husband for about a year.
They are constantly moving to avoid harassment and ticketing by the police.
Living in the tropical paradise of Hawaii - with its glistening surfs and golden sands - is dream to many of us, but to some, it's a living nightmare.
With the highest cost of living of any state in the United States of America, it's no wonder that Hawaii has a problem with homelessness. There's an estimated 4,700 homeless people living in the Hawaiian island of Oahu (1,600 of them go without shelter at any given night). Honolulu, the largest city of the island, has the dubious distinction of being fifth in the list of US cities with high homelessness rate. The island itself has the largest homeless encampment in the United States.
But tourists visiting Honolulu probably didn't notice. Mayor Kirk Caldwell was recently lauded for cleaning up the problem at the beaches of Waikiki. "Police officers came up to me and said it looks much better," Caldwell said, "Residents who live there came up to me and said, 'Mayor, what are you doing? It looks so much better.'"
But the reality is that the homeless are still homeless - they didn't find housing, but instead, they were being bounced from "sidewalk to sidewalk and park to park," as Nick Grube reports:
A good night’s sleep in Waikiki is hard to come by for Roberta Huddy.
She became homeless about a year ago after losing her job as a guest services agent at one of the hotels.
Now Huddy, who was born and raised on Kauai, lives in a worn-down Ford Astro with her husband, Greg, on Kalakaua Avenue next to Kapiolani Park.
Their few belongings fill the vehicle from the passenger seat to the back hatch, blankets on the floor serving as a makeshift bed.
The van is also their getaway vehicle. It allows them to avoid police and city park crews who have ramped up their efforts to clear the homeless out of Waikiki.
Like many others who live on the streets, the Huddys are on the run.
“All they say is that we should move around,” Huddy complained while perched on the edge of her Astro. “At night I like to go up to Kapahulu because at least there I can sleep in peace.”
Read the entire story here.

A Nepalese "living goddess"

She's worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal, who believe she's a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.
I got to know the mother of this Kumari - Nepal has a few of them - after several visits to her house. How did it feel when her daughter, Samita, was chosen to be a Kumari, I asked?
"I felt both happy and sad," she says. "On one hand, I felt happy because when your daughter becomes god, having a god in the home is a delightful thing. But I also got scared because I wasn't sure if we would be able to follow all the rules."
There are many rules. For one, Samita's mother has to apply special makeup to her daughter's face in intricate designs. The girl isn't allowed to go outside except for festivals. On those occasions, her feet must not touch the ground. That means someone has to carry the young goddess...
I expect we'll do the interview in Nepali, but when I ask her a question, she starts speaking fluently in English. She tells me that she learned the language by reading newspapers during her Kumari days.
"When I was a goddess, I used to peek through the holes of windows," Chanira says. She's now a 19-year-old business student, and looks like any ordinary teenager in her fashionable green T-shirt and black trousers. She became a Kumari when she was just five years old...
This divine life ended abruptly when Chanira was 15, on the day she first menstruated. Suddenly she was no longer the Kumari. She says the transition was difficult. "When I had to step out of my house for the first time, I didn't know how to walk properly," she says. "My mom and dad, they used to hold my hands and teach me how to walk." Photo and text from the BBC.

The "rat people" of Pakistan are microcephalics

From a 2006 article in The Telegraph:

Daily Comic Relief


Marais Poitevin

France's Green Venice
Probably the best known and certainly the largest wetlands in France is the Camargue. Yet the second largest is, outside of the country, little known. Marais Poitevin in the south western region of Poitou-Charentes covers a huge area - over 370 square miles.
Its name means the Poitou Marsh but the French also know it by a more venerable title - la Venise Verte. This Green Venice certainly lives up to its name.

A Scandinavian megacity?

[The Oslo to Copenhagen] corridor is the most densely populated stretch of Scandinavia, home to 8 million of the region's 20 million people. An ambitious plan aims to link up its cities, medium-sized by global standards, across three different countries to form a single megalopolis - '8 Million City'.
The glue that will hold this megacity together? A high-speed train link that should reduce rail travel time between Oslo and Copenhagen from 7.5 hours today to 2.5 hours by 2025.
More at Big Think, which notes that expansion with a side link to Stockholm would create a 12-million-person megalopolis.  Personally, I would argue with the hypothesis that "next-level development is hampered by the demographic dispersal in small, relatively isolated urban centers," but obviously there's big money at stake here.

Viagra Induces Fractal Growth in Mushrooms in Switzerland

This study investigates the effect of Sildenafil (a synthetic drug that is known to much of the public as “Viagra”) on the growth and shape of the mushroom Boletus edulis (a Basidiomycete of the Boletaceae family), diffused in the beechwood trees (Fagus) of Ticino, the region with Italian culture located in the Southern part of Switzerland.
Background: About Sildenafil, and these Mushrooms, and Fractal Analysis
The pharmacological compound Sildenafil has been shown to treat the male erectile dysfunction “impotentia erigendi” by inhibiting a set of c-Phospodiesterase-5 enzymes, what in turn intensifies the blood afflux into the “corpora cavernosa”, filling them up to turgidity leading to penis erection. (Dunzendorfer 2004).
Mushrooms of Boletaceae family including the Boletus edulis type, mostly display a phallus-like morphology formed by a stalk and a cap (pileus) whose extent and consistency may be influenced by various environmental agents, including growth factors and complex molecules such as polyphenols and other natural antioxidants.
Some analogies were noticed between Sildenafil and the chemical structure of natural polyphenols, flavonoids and many other cyclic compounds as rosmarinic acid abundant in macro-fungi, which exhibited an antioxidant free-radical scavenging activity (Guo et al. 2012). These morphological and physiological properties prompted us to investigate the role of Sildenafil on the proliferative capacity and on the morphological changes of Boletus type growing in the natural habitat of a Fagus forest.
Proper morphologic measures were obtained by means of an analytical approach based on the principles of fractal geometry developed by Mandelbrot (1982). These principles can be used to unravel irregular pattern of biological elements and complex physio-pathological phenomena that could not reliably be understood by means of conventional Euclidean geometry (which is more appropriate for describing ideal regular objects).
The term fractal (fractus i.e. fragmented) derives from the Latin verb frangere and means to break, to create irregular fragments. To be called fractals, biological and/ or natural objects must fulfill a certain number of theoretic and methodological criteria including a high level of organization, shape irregularity, functional/morphological and temporal auto-similarity, scale invariance, iterative pathways and a non-integer peculiar fractal dimension [FD]. Whereas mathematical objects are invariant or self- similar over an unlimited range of scales, actual biological components and living structures are statistically self-similar entities iterated within a fractal domain called a “scaling window” (Losa 2012). Only within this scaling window can the object’s fractal dimension be calculated. The fractal dimension is a numerical statistical measure that one can use to describe these kinds of irregular shapes and self-similar processes and, on all scales large and small, to correlate their shapes with the functional behaviors. This is a powerful tool for better understanding a good many kinds of biological tissues, both normal and pathological.
Fractal Geometry Principles
In nature, a fractal object is defined by its structural properties, namely by surface rugosity and/or absence of smoothness, form invariance or self-similarity, complexity and a fractal dimension [FD] usually greater than the topological dimension [DT]. The Richardson-Mandelbrot equation provides the mathematical basis for understanding geometric and spatial fractal structures, namely L(ε)=N(ε). (ε) (1) where L(ε) represents the length of the biological component under investigation, (ε) the unit length of measure and N(ε) the number of unit lengths (ε) needed to cover the contour L(ε). By a logarithmic substitution the above equation can be rewritten as: log[L(ε)/lo] = (1-D) log[ε/lo] (2) This equation depicts a straight line with slope 1-D, from which the dimensional exponent D can be calculated to yield the numerical value of the fractal dimension [FD] (Losa & Nonnenmacher 1996).
Material and Methods
Two square domains, each with a surface area of 100 m2 (10 m x 10 m side), were selected inside of a beech (Fagus) forest along the line Insubrica crossing the central zone of Ticino in southern Switzerland. Both domains located at convenient distance in order to avoid spatial overlapping or any other undesirable effect.
To the test domain we applied 50 mg of Sildenafil per square meter of surface area. This corresponds to a dose usually prescribed to human males and gauged with respect to the estimated median human body surface of 2 m2 (Haycock 1978).
The control area received a placebo deprived of the active substance.
Active compound and placebo were dispersed through the forest domains distinctly delimited by a visible red ribbon. In both area of interest, measurements were performed in the afternoon at a fixed time (5 pm), just preceding the planned treatment which was repeated every two days during fourteen days. Experiments were conducted during the first two weeks of September, a time of year that is usually characterized by stable meteorological conditions with an external day temperature interval between 18-30ºC. This period also featured an absence of moon — we chose this time so as to prevent malicious sarcastic popular comments evoked when scientific knowledge is missing.
All Boletus grown in untreated (control) and treated areas were counted and the numerical density [#B/m2] established. Specimens from both area were selected according to a random systematic procedure usually applied in stereology, sagittal sections cut through the entire fungus and pictures taken at 10 X magnification projected onto a two-dimensional plane. Well-identifiable cap and stalk profile outlines were segmented from grey level-threshold images by means of Image J program and from these digital micro-graphs the fractal parameters determined by using the FANAL++ package. This analysis included subroutines for applying the box-counting method, implementation of the power law equation, data fitting, visualization of the true fractal domain called “scaling window”, and delimitation by upper and lower limits [ε12] of a bi-asymptotic curve fitting in a double logarithmic plot from which a straight line can be drawn, its slope being used to evaluate the fractal dimension [FD]. Both scaling limits were defined by determining the widest interval [log ε1-log ε2] within the standard deviation of the estimated slope. The practical evaluation of the fractal dimension could be obtained by the box counting method based on counting of the non-empty boxes N at a variable grid length (ε) (Dollinger et al. 1998).
Data from Boletus specimens collected in the domain exposed to Sildenafil showed a significant growth increase as expressed by the numerical density [#B/m2], which ranged from 0.15 at time zero to 0.5 at day 14 of treatment, whilst it remained stable around 0.2 without significant changes in the control domain. A significant reduction of the fractal dimension FD from 1.22 to 1.11 was measured, what actually quantified the loss of irregularity or complexity occurring on both stalk and cap border outlines during the treatment period. These results contrasted with those recorded on Boletus samples found in the control domain, where both parameters i.e. the fractal dimension [FD] of stalk and cap border outlines and the numerical density [#B/m2] remained rather constant along the investigation period, with a median value accounting for 0.15 and 1.22 for [#B/m2] and FD respectively (Figure 1).
While the morphological, physiological and biochemical effects of Sildenafil on human male sexual apparatus are well documented, its action on Boletus edulis mushroom became clear only as a result of this study. We found two quantifiable, notable effects of the drug on the mushrooms:
(A) a reduction of the fractal dimension [FD] which documented an increased smoothness of cap and stalk borders; and (B) the increment of the numerical density.
Likely, the reduction of border irregularity is provoked by  the stretching of cap surface and simultaneously, on the other, under side, by increased consistency or firmness of stalk tissue during growth. As far as is known, most biological processes governing growth and shape of fungi are not well understood — science still struggles to make complete sense of the complexity and specificity of their biological pattern. [For example, due to lack of chlorophyll, the fungus is unable to manufacture carbohydrates such as sugar, the backbone for the chemicals needed for life must be retrieved from the tissues of other organisms. Acids, iron, calcium, and other inorganic materials are derived from the soil, wood, or animal substances in which the mycelia grow, while not much fat was found nor starches were formed (Figure 2).] Compelling evidence has led to certainty that drawing of water and basic food material occurs by the mycelium from the place where it grows.

Knowing the role of sildenafil on certain parts of the male human body, one can easily hypothesize an analogous effect on other, rather different biological targets such as Boletus mushrooms. According to such a hypothesis, in these mushrooms, a strengthened lymph drawing and water afflux suitable to permeate the roughage tissue, thus favoring both firmness of stalk and smoothness of cap. If so, then the effect induced in mushrooms might mimic the polymorphous effect observed in human males.
But how to explain the observed diverging behavior? On the one hand, the numerical density [#B/m2] increased by 35%, proving a significant growth of Boletus after fourteen days of treatment. On the other hand, the height dimensions of specimens treated with Sildenafil were found smaller than those of control area, with data interval ranging between 6.5-8.1 cm and 7.4-9.6 cm respectively.
Hence in this experimental system the growth rate was inversely related to Boletus height. The fractal dimension values recorded on the cap and stalk border outlines of Boletus mushrooms deserved a critical comparison with data recovered in the living realm; in the former fractal dimension values ranged between 1.10 and 1.23 rather close to fractal dimension values recorded on contour profiles of most biological structures and cell tissues, notably liver cells, healthy lymphoid and white blood cells, leukemic circulating cells, oocytes, immature astrocytes and neuronal cells, all characterized by a similar degree of irregularity (Losa & Nonnenmacher 1996).
Unfortunately, fractal dimension data on mushrooms have never been calculated (or at least have not been reported in the scientific literature).
To sum up: The numerical density (#B/m2) of the mushroom was increasing with time, i.e. from 0.15/m2 up to 0.5/ m2 at day 14 of treatment, while the fractal density reduced from 1.23 to 1.11. Thus, there was a significant reduction of border profile complexity and irregularity in Boletus mushrooms that were treated with Sildenifil, a drug that provokes penile erections in human males.
To put this in simple terms:
Our investigation highlighted the main fractal principle which rests on the unlimited iteration of a unit fragment as a chief generator, either determined or unknown, until completion of the whole structure. The same principle serves to explain the fractality of growth mechanisms, the irregularity of morphological structures and the complex dynamics of living processes which occur at different spatial and temporal scales in connection with the principle of the recursive genome function (Pellionisz 2008), all the phenomena implicated in growth and maintenance of the fascinating and mysterious kingdom of mushrooms.

This 'diamond in space' is the coldest star ever detected

Astronomers have identified the coldest dwarf star ever detected, and scientists are calling it a "diamond in space."
Phys.org reports that the Earth-sized star "is so cool that its carbon has crystallized," creating the diamond-like effect. "It's a really remarkable object," David Kaplan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who found the star, told Phys.org. "These things should be out there, but because they are so dim, they are very hard to find."
White dwarf stars have been cooling and fading for billions of years, and scientists estimate that the star in question is the same age as the Milky Way, roughly 11 billion years old. The new star also has a companion pulsar, which was originally thought to be another white dwarf star. The pulsar is the first object in its system to be detected and has a mass 1.2 times that of the Sun. (The white dwarf's mass is 1.05 times the Sun's.)
For more on the star, head over to Phys.org.

Russia finds two 'well-preserved' dinosaur skeletons

People work on an excavation site in the mountains south of Kislovodsk, Russia in October, 2009
Russian paleontologists have dug up well-preserved skeletons of two dinosaurs that roamed the Earth 100 million to 120 million years ago, a museum involved with the dig said Monday.
The team found two dinosaur skeletons at a depth of some 2.5 metres (eight feet) below the surface after spending three weeks at a well-known excavation site near the village of Shestakovo in the Siberian region of Kemerovo.
"The skeletons are intact and in great condition," Olga Feofanova, director of a local museum involved with the excavation works, told AFP.
She identified the species as Psittacosaurus sibiricus, noting that each skeleton was around two metres long.
"It is very rare to find whole dinosaur skeletons in such condition," said Feofanova. "These discoveries have global significance."
The excavation began in late May after Feofanova's museum received permission to conduct the work together with a team of Moscow-based paleontologists.
The rare finds will go on display in the regional museum, local authorities said in a statement.

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