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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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Daily Drift

What are the odds ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

For those interested: In World Cup play there were no matches on the twenty-sixth day of the tourney.

Comic Book Guy ... !
Today is  - SCUD Day 
(Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama)
Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Toronto, Ottawa, Sainte-Foy, Seaton Village, L'ancienne-Lorette, Joliette, Saint John's, Guelph, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, Canada
Sao Paulo, Goiania and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Helotes and Durango, United States
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
L'Olleria and Madrid, Spain
Magureni, Romania
Square, Northern Ireland
Solna and Uppsala, Sweden
Rostov-Na-Donu, Ryazan and Vladivostok, Russia
Magenta, Salon-De-Provence, Orleans, Veliz-Villacoublay and Rouen, France
Ravenna, Ivrea, Milan, Bari, Pisa and Naples, Italy
Reykjavik, Iceland
Belgrade, Serbia
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Tallaght, Ireland
Tranbjerg, Denmark
Antwerp, Belgium
Wolfsburg, Germany
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Oslo, Norway
Aveiro, Portugal
Warsaw, Poland
Beersheba and Tel Aviv, Israel
Kolkata, Jodhpur, Patna, Madhipura, New Delhi, Tirupparangunram, Pondicherry, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Bikaner, India
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kuala Lumpur and Balakong, Malaysia
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Bojong and Banyumas, Indonesia
Kannabe, Japan
Bangkok, Thailand
Doha, Qatar
La Dagotiere, Mauritius
Karachi and Sialkot, Pakistan
Tunis, Tunisia
Shurugwi, Zimbabwe
Lagos, Nigeria
The Pacific
Auckland, New Zealand
Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1099 christian crusaders march around Jerusalem as muslims watch from within the city.
1608 The first French settlement at Quebec is established by Samuel de Champlain.
1663 The British crown grants Rhode Island a charter guaranteeing freedom of worship.
1686 The Austrians take Budapest from the Turks and annex Hungary.
1709 Peter the Great defeats Charles XII at Poltava, in the Ukraine, effectively ending the Swedish empire.
1755 Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with France as their disputes in the New World intensify.
1758 The British attack on Fort Carillon at Ticonderoga, New York, is foiled by the French.
1794 French troops capture Brussels, Belgium.
1815 With Napoleon defeated, Louis XVIII returns to Paris.
1822 29-year old poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowns while sailing in Italy.
1859 The Truce at Villafranca Austria cedes Lombardy to France.
1863 Demoralized by the surrender of Vicksburg, Confederates in Port Hudson, Louisiana, surrender to Union forces.
1864 Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreats into Atlanta to prevent being flanked by Union General William T. Sherman.
1865 Four of the conspirators in President Abraham Lincoln's assassination are hanged in Washington, D.C.
1879 The first ship to use electric lights departs from San Francisco, California.
1905 The mutinous crew of the battleship Potemkin surrenders to Rumanian authorities.
1918 Ernest Hemingway is wounded in Italy while working as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross.
1941 20 B-17s fly in their first mission with the Royal Air Force over Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
1943 American B-24 bombers strike Japanese-held Wake Island for the first time.
1960 The Soviet Union charges American pilot Francis Gary Powers with espionage.

Non Sequitur


Itty Bitty Barbeque

If you happen to find yourself somewhere with a canned drink in your hand and a jones for barbeque over the holiday weekend, let this video be your guide. The King of Random illustrates for BBQ desperadoes how to pull a MacGyver that nets them a tiny barbeque just big enough to grill a jumbo hot dog, slider or brat. This bittyQ is made with an aluminum can. Now there's a good excuse to have a 40 oz!

“Insane” Action Park is Open Again

The notorious Action Park in New Jersey has reopened after almost 20 years. The park had a reputation for danger, as people were injured there nearly every day -and six people died. The first aid station was always busy, and in the ‘90s, numerous lawsuits forced its closing. But a viral video titled The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever last year inspired its owners to reopen the amusement park, and to welcome those with nostalgic memories of Action Park. 
‘I was there three times when I was 9 or 10 – twice I left in an ambulance,’ said one former attendee.

‘The first time was broken ribs on the ‘Tarzan Swing’ (my dad had to jump into the water to save me) and next was the alpine slide, when my car had no brakes and I flew over the side and into the grass. I then had to walk the whole way down crying and dripping blood.

‘They kept sending us free passes to go back so we went again but I was extremely cautious and only went on one ride – a kayak where you simply paddled around a sort of lazy river. I loved it and it was safe but the next day the ride was closed because someone fell off their kayak and was electrocuted by the electric currents.

‘Never went back again – too afraid.’
We posted once about a water slide at Action Park, and the comments under it confirm the fond and scary memories others have about the park, which saw its heyday in the 1970s. The new version that opened in June is probably not as dangerous as it once was.

Now that the World Cup is over for the US

Sad but true ... 

Cutting Through The wingnut Lies About The Hobby Lobby Ruling

Two issues alone will have a devastating affect on any religious business or corporation's employees, but after doing a cursory reading of the Hobby Lobby et al complaint …
imageThe idiom “scratch the surface” generally means just beginning to find out about something, or only superficially examining what could be a very complex issue. The complexities of the Hobby Lobby decision are far deeper than just giving a corporation religious freedom, or allowing religious corporation to withhold contraceptives from their organization’s healthcare prescription plans. Those two issues alone will have a devastating affect on any religious business or corporation’s employees, but after doing a cursory reading of the Hobby Lobby et al complaint, the High Court decision will immediately affect more than just their employees.
Throughout the Hobby Lobby case, Americans heard ad nauseum that the artificial legal entity’s religious objection was about including contraception in their employees health insurance prescription plans. By now, most Americans are aware that the Green family insisted that their female employees, and male employees with wives, must pay separately for their own contraceptives even though they are already paying for their own contraceptives through their health insurance prescription coverage.
However, Hobby Lobby was not only objecting to prescription plans that covered contraceptives, they and their co-petitioners vehemently objected to health insurance plans that cover “related education and counseling for contraception.” In other words, the religious corporations appealed to the Supreme Court for constitutional authority to do precisely what repugicans lied about what the ACA would do; get between a doctor and their patient.
Of course the ACA does no such thing. But Hobby Lobby, other religious corporations, and private businesses can insert their corporate selves in a doctor’s examination room, right between a doctor and their patient, and prohibit physicians from giving routine reproductive medical counseling during office visits to their patients employed by Hobby Lobby or any other religious business, corporate or otherwise.
According to Hobby Lobby et al’s complaint, their religion objects to health care plans and issuers that provide education and counseling for all women beneficiaries with reproductive capacity. They also complained that a physician “counseling and educating women on reproductive health is incompatible and irreconcilable with Plaintiffs’ express messages and speech.” What that means is that Hobby Lobby will not tolerate being contradicted regarding the use, prescribing, or counseling women about their reproductive health choices and the High Court agreed. After the Hobby Lobby decision, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement and warned “the decision allowed employers to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship by limiting what discussions and options patients would be presented with.” But that was the express intent in including the gag order in the lawsuit. It is, not only infringing on a physicians freedom of speech, it also infringes on their ability to render their professional judgment and practice medicine.
Perusing the Hobby Lobby complaint exposes another fallacy from screeching heads on the lunatic fringe who claim that if a woman or man with a wife works for Hobby Lobby and seeks a doctor’s advice, and prescription for contraceptives, all they have to do is ask for it and then pay for it out of their own pocket. That is incompatible with Hobby Lobby’s religious liberty and they won the right to disallow women from using their own health benefit compensation package to make reproductive health choices. For the religious conservatives that scream it is no burden for women to spend only $9 a month for their own birth control, the cost for a prescription not covered in a group prescription plan is closer to $390 annually (IUD’s can cost over $900). It is true employees can opt out of religious corporations’ health plans, but purchasing healthcare on the open individual market can cost over 3 times more than a group plan.
Another unreported fallacy about Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit was that they claimed emergency contraceptives like Plan B and Ella were “abortifacients; that is patently false. They said they were abortion because in their religious minds, Plan B, Ella, and certain IUDs cause the death of the embryo. Their complaint said, “The use of artificial means to prevent the implantation of a human embryo in
the wall of the uterus constitutes an “abortion” as that term is used in federal law.
According to all known medical science, and an amicus brief filed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and several other medical associations; “there is no scientific evidence that emergency contraceptives available in the United States and approved by the FDA affect an existing pregnancy. Instead, they prevent ovulation, so there is no egg to fertilize, and no egg, like no implantation, means no pregnancy and no abortion.” The High Court ruled that it does not matter what medical science says, Hobby Lobby said emergency contraceptives are abortion and because that is their ‘deeply-held religious belief,” then contraceptives are abortion, their word is law, and medical science be damned.
Essentially, because Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood were successful, they won the right to refuse coverage for doctor’s visits that include medical advice about contraception generally discussed during routine general gynecological appointments or annual checkups. Now, if a woman, or gynecologist as much as acknowledges birth control during that appointment, the doctor must render the visit ineligible for coverage by the woman’s health care plan and the employee not only pays for full cost the prescription out of pocket, they have to pay for the entire doctor visit out of pocket in addition to their cost of being enrolled in the company health plan.
The real travesty is that the wingnuts on the Court did not deny that the contraception mandate, or doctor’s giving reproductive medical advice, did not meet a “compelling need for women’s healthcare;” they admitted that it did. But still ruled it was unconstitutional simple because Hobby Lobby did not like it. There have been suggestions that a viable option is a providing a religious health plan that expressly excludes contraceptive coverage, or a doctor speaking about reproductive health, without imposing “any cost-sharing requirements on the eligible organization or the group health plan.”
The attorney for Hobby Lobby has said she and the Greens have not even considered whether they would find that accommodation acceptable. It is highly likely they will not find it acceptable because other church-based organizations have already received this kind offer and are still going forward with contraception lawsuits. The reason is the idea of employees, or students in religious colleges, having access to reproductive healthcare, even if it is of no cost to the organization, is unacceptable.
The more one looks into what Hobby Lobby, and their substantial list of co-plaintiffs, demanded and won according to their religious liberty, the more it appears that there is no end to the damage they will impose on Americans. It was unfathomable they had the temerity, and the Court agreed, that their corporate religious liberty allows them to control their employees reproductive health choices, but the concept of prohibiting doctors from counseling their patients is beyond the pale. The tragedy is that the ruling affects much more than just Hobby Lobby’s employees, or physicians, because the ruling gives every “religious” business authority over their employees healthcare decisions and medical providers’ ability to do their jobs, and one just shudders at what else evangelical fanatics’ religious liberty has in the offing. One thing is clear; it is not going to end well for any American and it is just the beginning.

Russia's Newest Law Inches Nation Closer to the Utopia American wingnuts Want to Create Here

A lot of liberals have joked about Russian President Vladimir Putin being a bit of an icon for wingnuts in the United States.  His views on homosexuality mirror those of many wingnut 'christians' in the U.S. and quite a few repugicans were heaping praise on him for his "strength" compared to the "weak" President Obama.They were literally bragging about what a "strong leader" he was while lobbing partisan attacks at our own president.  It was embarrassing and disgusting.
But why wouldn't wingnuts support Putin?  Hell, from everything I've seen from the guy he's exactly the kind of leader wingnuts want.
He's a "manly man" who goes out hunting with his shirt off to prove how "strong" he is.  You know, kind of like how wingnut gun nut agitators like to stroll around Chili's with loaded AK-47?s.  Or how they seem to think that the more guns they own, the more powerful they are.
Putin also strongly opposes homosexuality.  Last year he essentially took the first steps toward making homosexuality illegal in Russia.  It's a process, you see.  You can't just come out and ban homosexuality.  But if you slowly chip away at their rights, eventually you build up to the point where homosexuality is illegal.

House repugican cabal cuts spending on policy staff, boosts spending on PR and spin

House repugican cabal priorities:
Since repugicans stole control of the U.S. House in January 2011, Speaker John Boehner, r-Ohio, has led a cost-cutting effort that has trimmed staff for House committees by nearly 20%, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. But the number of committee staff responsible for press and communications work has increased by nearly 15% over the same period, according to House spending records.
Hard to blame them, I guess. If you were in their shoes, wouldn't you want to do everything in your power to let people know about everything you've accomplished on their behalf? Actually, on second thought, that doesn't make a lot of sense, given that they've accomplished nothing. But on third thought, this is the repugican cabal we're talking about: To them, doing nothing is an accomplishment. So it makes sense to hire staff to brag about it.
Plus, if your primary investigations are focused on Benghazi and the IRS, there really isn't much to investigate, certainly not enough to justify expanding actual investigative staff. So you might as well invest in spinners-because you're going to need them.

Rancher must be held accountable

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say they agree with a Nevada sheriff's position that rancher Cliven Bundy must be held accountable for his role in an April standoff between his supporters and the federal agency.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Bundy crossed the line when he allowed states' rights supporters, including self-proclaimed militia members, onto his property to aim guns at police.
"If you step over that line, there are consequences to those actions," Gillespie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "And I believe they stepped over that line. No doubt about it. They need to be held accountable for it."
Bureau spokeswoman Celia Boddington, in a statement released Saturday, said the agency continues to pursue the matter "aggressively through the legal system."
"There is an ongoing investigation and we are working diligently to ensure that those who broke the law are held accountable," she said, declining to elaborate.
The FBI declined comment Saturday on its investigation. Bundy did not respond to a request for comment.
The Bureau of Land Management says Bundy owes over $1 million in fees and penalties for trespassing on federal property without a permit over 20 years. Bundy, whose ancestors settled in the area in the late 1800s, refuses to acknowledge federal authority on public lands.
A federal judge in Las Vegas first ordered Bundy in 1998 to remove "trespass cattle" from land the bureau declared a refuge for the endangered desert tortoise. Bureau officials obtained court orders last year allowing the roundup.
Boddington disputed Gillespie's contention the agency mishandled the roundup of Bundy's cattle 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The bureau backed down during the showdown with Bundy and his armed supporters, citing safety concerns, and released some 380 Bundy cattle collected during a weeklong operation from a vast arid range half the size of the state of Delaware.
Gillespie blamed the bureau for escalating the conflict and ignoring his advice to delay the roundup after he had a confrontational meeting with Bundy's children a few weeks before it began.
"I came back from that saying, 'This is not the time to do this,' " the sheriff told the Review-Journal. "They said, 'We do this all the time. We know what we're doing. We hear what you're saying, but we're moving forward.'"
Tensions further escalated early in the roundup after a video showed one of Bundy's sons being stunned with a Taser. The video drew militia members and others to Bundy's ranch.
Bundy was not a hardened criminal, Gillespie told the newspaper. He was a rancher who stopped paying his fees, the sheriff said, and that was not worth risking violence.
But Boddington said the bureau planned and conducted the roundup in "full coordination" with Gillespie and his office.
"It is unfortunate that the sheriff is now attempting to rewrite the details of what occurred, including his claims that the BLM did not share accurate information," she said. "The sheriff encouraged the operation and promised to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us as we enforced two recent federal court orders."
"Sadly, he backed out of his commitment shortly before the operation - and after months of joint planning - leaving the BLM and the National Park Service to handle the crowd control that the sheriff previously committed to handling," she added.

States look to gun seizure law after mass killings

As state officials across the country grapple with how to prevent mass killings like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and near the University of California, Santa Barbara, some are turning to a gun seizure law pioneered in Connecticut 15 years ago.
Connecticut's law allows judges to order guns temporarily seized after police present evidence that a person is a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold them for up to a year.
The 1999 law, the first of its kind in the country, was in response to the 1998 killings of four managers at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters by a disgruntled employee with a history of psychiatric problems.
Indiana is the only other state that has such a law, passed in 2005 after an Indianapolis police officer was shot to death by a mentally ill man. California and New Jersey lawmakers are now considering similar statutes, both proposed in the wake of the killings of six people and wounding of 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara by a mentally ill man who had posted threatening videos on YouTube.
Michael Lawlor, Connecticut's undersecretary for criminal justice planning and policy, believes the state's gun seizure law could have prevented the killings of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, if police had been made aware that gunman Adam Lanza had mental health problems and access to his mother's legally owned guns.
"That's the kind of situation where you see the red flags and the warning signs are there, you do something about it," Lawlor said. "In many shootings around the country, after the fact it's clear that the warning signs were there."
Gun nut agitators oppose gun seizure laws, saying they allow police to take people's firearms based only on allegations and before the gun owners can present their side of the story to a judge. They say they're concerned the laws violate constitutional rights.
"The government taking things away from people is never a good thing," said Rich Burgess, president of the gun nut cabal Connecticut Carry. "They come take your stuff and give you 14 days for a hearing. Would anybody else be OK if they just came and took your car and gave you 14 days for a hearing?"
Rachel Baird, a Connecticut lawyer who has represented many gun nuts, said one of the biggest problems with the state's law is that police are abusing it. She said she has had eight clients who had their guns seized by police who obtained the required warrants after taking possession of the guns.
"It's stretched and abused, and since it's firearms, the courts go along with it," Baird said of the law.
But backers of such laws say they can prevent shootings by getting guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people.
"You want to make sure that when people are in crisis ... there is a way to prevent them to get access to firearms," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the nonprofit Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence in Washington, D.C.
Connecticut authorities report a large increase in the use of gun seizure warrants involving people deemed dangerous by police over the past several years. Officials aren't exactly sure what caused the increase but believe it's related to numerous highly publicized mass shootings in recent years.
Police statewide filed an estimated 183 executed gun seizure warrants with court clerks last year, more than twice the number filed in 2010, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch data. Last year's total also was nearly nine times higher than the annual average in the first five years of the gun seizure law.
Connecticut police have seized more than 2,000 guns using the warrants, according to the most recent estimate by state officials, in 2009.
Police in South Windsor, about 12 miles northeast of Hartford, say the law was invaluable last year when they seized several guns from the home of a man accused of spray painting graffiti referencing mass shootings in Newtown and Colorado on the outside of the town's high school.
"With all that we see in the news day after day, particular after Newtown, I think departments are more aware of what authority they have ... and they're using the tool (gun seizure warrants) more frequently than in the past," said South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed. "We always look at it from the other side. What if we don't seize the guns?"

Chinese man praised as being an 'example to everyone' after working himself to death

Chinese financial regulators say one of their staff who worked himself to death by regularly staying in the office until midnight before collapsing from the stress of trying to get a report done on deadline is "an example to everyone". Li Jianhua, 48, worked for the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission for 26 years and was found dead in front of his completed report after working through the night to meet the early morning deadline. Now a statement by the regulatory commissions management committee has praised the dead man as an example that everybody else should follow. China is facing an epidemic of overwork, yet far from tackling the problem, it is seemingly being actively encouraged if one looks at the statement from the dead man's employers.
They said: "We can all learn from Comrade Li Jianhua, who always had firm ideals and beliefs, who showed that he was an employee who was loyal to the cause of the Party and the people, who gave an unremitting struggle to perform his best and to sacrifice everything. It was done with the goal of enhancing the quality of our work. Comrade Li Jianhua did long overtime, night and day, and put all his energy and passion into the regulatory business."
About 600,000 Chinese a year die from working too hard, with a daily death toll of 1,600. There are even words in Asia for death-by-overtime: "guolaosi" in Chinese and "karoshi" in Japanese. An employee in Li’s department said they all regularly worked until midnight or later. Li apparently had an attack of shingles, often related to stress, in the days before he died but did not go to the doctor because "he didn’t have any time."

Locally-grown, organic: LA's first ever pot farmer's market

By Veronique Dupont

Marijuana is weighed at Los Angeles, California's first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary on July 4, 2014It looks like any other American farmer's market. Buyers sniff the wares, test weights and compare, while vendors tout their product. But the only produce on offer is cannabis -- organic, of course.
"We have lollipops for $7, chocolate bars to help you relax for $13, and 'cosmic dust,'" said Bill Harrison, a seller who also stocks plain old smokable marijuana.
The Heritage Farmer's Market -- held over the July 4th long weekend -- was the first of its kind in Los Angeles. Despite the scorching sun, the line to get in stretched hundreds of yards (meters).
The crowd was diverse and multigenerational, interspersed with hippies, rockers, hipsters and some nondescript suburban types.
But they all have at least one thing in common -- they all have, as required for entry, a doctor's prescription.
In California, marijuana is only legal for medicinal purposes. For recreational use, possession of less than an ounce (28 grams) could result in a fine. Larger amounts can trigger criminal charges.
Edwynn Delgado knows the laws by heart: "for medical use, you are allowed up to four ounces at home, but I'd like to bring back home more today," he joked.
He has smoked pot since he was 11.
"In my neighborhood, there was a always a lot of weed around," the smiling 20-year-old said, wearing a baseball cap over his black hair.
He became a "legal" user at age 18, when he got a prescription to ease muscle aches.
Delgado waited for more than an hour at the stand that offers the best prices, at $180 per ounce, instead of $300 as charged in a regular dispensary.
Besides getting a good deal, Delgado prefers coming where he can count on quality product.
"Street dealers are dangerous because they put other stuff on it," he said.
- 'De-demonizing' cannabis -
"It's like in a regular farmer's market" said Adam Agathakis, one of the organizers of the weekend fair set to end Sunday.
"People come here to talk to growers, to check that it's grown without pesticides and that it doesn't have mold."
The bearded 35-year-old, in pleated pants and a striped shirt, has campaigned to "de-demonize" cannabis since his father died of cancer a decade ago.
"When he was dying, marijuana was the only thing alleviating the pain," Agathakis said.
Marijuana grower Terry Sand said that cannabis markets have sprouted elsewhere, including northern California and Washington state, but they weren't quite the same.
"They were more like conventions. Here it's special, because they are bringing growers and consumers together," Sand said.
The former elevator technician said he grew up amid cannabis and marijuana: "My parents were hippies, they were growing (marijuana) in their backyard."
But when a new technique emerged to help boost cannabis productivity in covered areas, Sand said he saw a "massive overwhelming opportunity."
Cancer patient Karen Flores, 50, said she smokes because "it helps me relax, it helps my nerves, it helps the pain I have."
She came to the market for good prices and quality. "It has to taste good, to smell good," Flores said.
But she doesn't like to light up in public. When she is away from home, she snacks on brownies, like those she just bought.
Also on offer: gold-plated pipes, pizzas, meringue pies and waffles.
At Mathew Gerson's stand, a more unusual product is for sale: "it's a vaginal lubricant, it is coconut oil-infused," he said.
"With young women, it enhances sensations, and with menopausal women, it awakens their sexuality. And it helps them sleep."
Cheryl Shuman, head of a public relations firm, said she almost died of cancer in 2006, and credits marijuana for helping her pull through.
She joined the campaign to decriminalize marijuana, organizing the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club and becoming one of the leaders of Moms for Marijuana, an international group for women who support legalization.
One weighty argument in favor, Shuman emphasized, is the economic potential of the market, estimated around $47 billion for the US states where it's legal alone.

Random Photos

Four-year-old boy asked to leave restaurant as his Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt violated dress code

A 4-year-old boy was asked to leave a restaurant at Phipps Plaza, Atalanta, because his shirt violated the dress code. Lewis Roberts thought the outfit he picked out, which included a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sleeveless shirt, looked great.
But when he and his family tried to sit down for lunch at the Tavern at Phipps, he was told he didn't meet the "Gentlemen's Dress Code." After Lewis' family explained that he was only 4, the hostess told them they still had to leave. When they asked to speak to a manager, the manager told them the dress code extended to "gentleman of all ages," and they were again asked to leave.
The message was clear: the restaurant didn't want a little Ninja Turtle in the dining room. "If we would have thought for a minute that he was inappropriately dressed, we would have gone to a different restaurant to save the embarrassment," said the boy's aunt. Amber Stewart, a company spokesperson, later issued a statement saying: "The rule does not apply for children and ladies - for gentleman only.
"It was an embarrassing misunderstanding on our part. She's a manager in training who had a gross misunderstanding of our policy. We apologize and are reaching out to the family. After talking to the restaurant, Lewis' family says apology accepted, and they plan to go back to the restaurant.

Cloaked 'assassin' is stalking German town

Police in Germany are attempting to quell hysteria after reported sightings of a mysterious hooded figure near a school. An unknown individual is said to be stalking the southern German town of Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg, dressed as an 'assassin.' Dressed in the monk-like garb, the shrouded figure is causing alarm among younger residents.
Reported repeated sightings over the past ten days, including in the vicinity of a school, have earned the prowler the nickname "Kampfmönch" (warrior monk). Parents have taken a dim view of the presumed prankster after their children began complaining of nightmares. "You are spreading fear about going to school among primary school and older pupils," the publisher of the Neue Rottweiler Zeitung newspaper wrote in an open letter to the 'assassin,' urging the person to turn themselves in to the police.
"You have also alarmed a small town. You are all people talk about all day and many parents are busy at night too because their children cannot sleep." But police in the normally sleepy town of 25,000 residents were quick to dispel as fantasy claims that he or she was also carrying a blood-stained knife.

"There is no indication that this unidentified person presents any danger," stressed police chief Michael Schlüssler, adding that the fighting monk's costume was readily available on the internet. While he urged the mystery walker to desist, he said authorities could not take action against someone for simply wandering around in public in a costume.

Norwegian man rescued after best-friend abandoned him on deserted island

A Norwegian man was rescued by the local sea-rescue service after his friend left him sleeping on a deserted island, stole the only boat, and rowed home.
The thirty-something male was forced to call for help after awaking to discover he had been left by his friend on Hastein island, west of Tungenes, in the sea outside of Stavanger.
Luckily, the local sea-rescue vessel, aptly named SRK "Sjømann" ("Seaman"), turned up to take him from the island and back to land.
Nils-Ole Sunde, the rescue leader on guard, said that the man was found wet, cold and without food or drink. The two 'friends' had gone to the island by boat on Thursday. No motive has as yet been given for the friend's desertion.

The Reykjavik Confessions



The Statue Of Liberty

In the summer of 1876, Philadelphia was teeming with tourists. Over the course of the season, 10 million people from 35 countries poured into Fairmount Park to take in the sights at the first-ever World's Fair in America.

One spectacle drew extra attention - a gigantic disembodied arm that towered four stories above the fairground. A late entrant to the festival, the lonely, torch-bearing limb wasn't included in the official guide. Few knew that it was destined to become part of an even bigger statue, meant to be a gift from France to America.

The Key to a Long Life

If you're a woman, postponing having children until mid-life may increase your overall longevity, a new study argues.

A Pyramid In The Middle Of Nowhere Built To Track The End Of The World

The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in Cavalier County, North Dakota, is the focus of an amazing set of images hosted by the U.S. Library of Congress, showing this squat and evocative megastructure in various states of construction and completion.
It's a huge pyramid in the middle of nowhere tracking the end of the world on radar, an abstract geometric shape beneath the sky without a human being in sight, or it could even be the opening scene of an apocalyptic science fiction film. But it's just the U.S. military going about its business, building vast and other-worldly architectural structures that the civilian world only rarely sees.

Daily Comic Relief


Skeletons found in El Salvador shed light on pre-Hispanic life

Picture provided by the Culture Secretariat of El Salvador showing the burial site where 1600-year-old human remains were discovered by archaeologists in the town of Nueva Esperanza, 90 km east of San Salvador, on April 11, 2014
Picture provided by the Culture Secretariat of El Salvador showing the burial site where 1600-year-old human remains were discovered by archaeologists in the town of Nueva Esperanza, 90 km east of San Salvador, on April 11, 2014
 Japanese and Salvadoran archaeologists said Friday they have found three human skeletons in El Salvador from more than 1,600 years ago that could shed new light on early human settlements in the region.
The three nearly complete human skeletons, preserved in volcanic ash, were found near the Pacific coast at a dig called "Nueva Esperanza," about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of the capital.
The area was buried in ash from gigantic eruptions between the 5th and 6th centuries, which has helped preserve evidence of a the pre-Hispanic coastal settlement, possibly dedicated to salt production and fishing.
The new find "opens a new door for Salvadoran archaeological investigations, which had (previously) focused only on ceremonial centers," project director Akira Ichikawa told AFP.
He expects more finds at the site, saying the two-meter (seven-foot) layer of volcanic ash hides an "archaeological wealth of evidence about the daily life and livelihood of these ancient coastal residents."
The three bodies are those of two adults, aged between 25 and 35 years old, and a child, between seven and nine years old, with two clay beads around the neck, archaeologist Oscar Camacho said, based on preliminary analysis.
They had been buried, two of them in a cross-legged position, along with offerings including clay pots and jars bearing dark brown and red stripes.
The remains are being cleaned for study by the Archeology Department at the National Museum of Anthropology in San Salvador.
A tooth and a portion of the ribs will be used for chemical analysis aimed at determining their sex, specific ages, as well as details of lifestyle, diet and illnesses suffered.

Bone Wand

A 10,000-year-old bone wand from Syria offers a unique glimpse at the faces of Neolithic people. More

Timeline of human origins revised

Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them.
These fossil skulls, representing pre-erectus Homo and Homo erectus, exhibit diverse traits and indicate that the early diversification of the human genus was a period of morphological experimentation. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. Kenyan fossil casts [Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Human Origins Program]; Dmanisi Skull 5 [Credit: Guram Bumbiashvili, Georgian National Museum]
A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth's climate became cooler and drier. However, new climate and fossil evidence analyzed by a team of researchers, including Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts, Susan Antón, professor of anthropology at New York University, and Leslie Aiello, president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, suggests that these traits did not arise as a single package. Rather, several key ingredients once thought to define Homo evolved in earlier Australopithecus ancestors between 3 and 4 million years ago, while others emerged significantly later.
The team's research takes an innovative approach to integrating paleoclimate data, new fossils and understandings of the genus Homo, archaeological remains and biological studies of a wide range of mammals (including humans). The synthesis of these data led the team to conclude that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. Additional information about this study is available in the July 4 issue of Science.
Potts developed a new climate framework for East African human evolution that depicts most of the era from 2.5 million to 1.5 million years ago as a time of strong climate instability and shifting intensity of annual wet and dry seasons. This framework, which is based on Earth's astronomical cycles, provides the basis for some of the paper's key findings, and it suggests that multiple coexisting species of Homo that overlapped geographically emerged in highly changing environments.
This chart depicts hominin evolution from 3.0-1.5 million years ago and reflects the diversity of early human species and behaviors that were critical to how early Homo adapted to variable habitats, a trait that allows people today to occupy diverse habitats around the world. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago [Credit: Antón, Potts and Aiello (2014), Science 345(6192)]
"Unstable climate conditions favored the evolution of the roots of human flexibility in our ancestors," said Potts, curator of anthropology and director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. "The narrative of human evolution that arises from our analyses stresses the importance of adaptability to changing environments, rather than adaptation to any one environment, in the early success of the genus Homo."
The team reviewed the entire body of fossil evidence relevant to the origin of Homo to better understand how the human genus evolved. For example, five skulls about 1.8 million years old from the site of Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia, show variations in traits typically seen in African H. erectus but differ from defining traits of other species of early Homo known only in Africa. Recently discovered skeletons of Australopithecus sediba (about 1.98 million years old) from Malapa, South Africa, also include some Homo-like features in its teeth and hands, while displaying unique, non-Homo traits in its skull and feet. Comparison of these fossils with the rich fossil record of East Africa indicates that the early diversification of the genus Homo was a period of morphological experimentation. Multiple species of Homo lived concurrently.
"We can tell the species apart based on differences in the shape of their skulls, especially their face and jaws, but not on the basis of size," said Antón. "The differences in their skulls suggest early Homo divvied up the environment, each utilizing a slightly different strategy to survive."
A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago [Credit: Antón, Potts and Aiello (2014), Science 345(6192)]
Even though all of the Homo species had overlapping body, brain and tooth sizes, they also had larger brains and bodies than their likely ancestors, Australopithecus. According to the study, these differences and similarities show that the human package of traits evolved separately and at different times in the past rather than all together.
In addition to studying climate and fossil data, the team also reviewed evidence from ancient stone tools, isotopes found in teeth and cut marks found on animal bones in East Africa.
"Taken together, these data suggest that species of early Homo were more flexible in their dietary choices than other species," said Aiello. "Their flexible diet -- probably containing meat -- was aided by stone tool-assisted foraging that allowed our ancestors to exploit a range of resources."
The team concluded that this flexibility likely enhanced the ability of human ancestors to successfully adapt to unstable environments and disperse from Africa. This flexibility continues to be a hallmark of human biology today, and one that ultimately underpins the ability to occupy diverse habitats throughout the world. Future research on new fossil and archaeological finds will need to focus on identifying specific adaptive features that originated with early Homo, which will yield a deeper understanding of human evolution. *******************************************************

See Layers Of Color Peel Off From These Eucalyptus Trees

We all know that nature is capable to create pretty amazing things, but usually a bright, vivid spectrum of colors is thought to always be artificially-made.
There's a reason that earth tones have that name after all. But in some really humid climates, you can find the rainbow eucalyptus tree - nature's color-happy artist that uses its bark as its canvas.

American Wilderness Faces a Firing Squad

by Doug Peacock
American Wilderness Faces a Firing Squad
“I come more and more to the conclusion that wilderness, in America or anywhere else, is the only thing left worth saving.” —Edward Abbey
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, wilderness in America, as physical sanctuary and as an idea, finds itself under an unprecedented swarm of threats.
The first of these threats is the usual business of extracting resources, pushed urgently to the forefront by discoveries in the energy field: coal-bed methane, fracking technology, and the tar sands of Alberta. Everyday, here in Montana, you can watch the protracted lines of coal cars headed night and day to Pacific ports where the dirtiest of fuel is shipped to feed an endless Asian appetite for energy. Settling over wilderness areas everywhere, like a deadly fog, is the scourge of our time: global warming.
Two bills recently passed by the U. S. House of Representatives aim at decimating wilderness protection: The first (H. R. 3942) would open wilderness areas in Yellowstone National Park to high-tech boating, while the second bill (H.R. 4089) passed in April, would gut the entire 1964 Wilderness Act, opening wilderness areas to development and managing the wildlife of these wild places as game farms. The sponsors of both these bills are well-known conservative enemies of wilderness and the wild animals who range freely in these habitats. Both bills aim at driving a political wedge between environmental communities and their past allies in the outdoor recreational industries. 
Rob Bishop (r-Utah) and his cohort Cynthia Lummis (r-Wyoming) introduced the River Paddling Act, which would open sensitive areas of wilderness in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to recreational paddling. Lummis and Bishop are counted among the legislators most hostile to wilderness and environmental protection on Capitol Hill, and why the paddling industry has chosen such unsavory bedfellows as their champions puzzles many. The only reason we have pockets of true wilderness left in a place like Yellowstone is because we once made a collective decision not to go there with our hoards of hikers, inner tubes, paddleboats, and other recreational toys—in a word, restraint.
 The Safari Club and the National Rifle Association have funded and backed H.R. 4089 all the way; the bill now sits in the Senate, slightly modified. But these two anti-wilderness, anti-wildlife (with rare Safari Club exceptions designed to keep a few trophy endangered animals around to mount on their walls) groups are not going anywhere soon. As a hunter with many guns, I despise these bullies and their deceitful shams of wildlife protection.
Curiously, Outside magazine has recently become the self-appointed cheerleader for trashing wild areas of national parks, complaining loudly on National Public Radio and OutsideOnline.com that “the people who are most desperate to be allowed in [to the National Parks]: the paddlers, mountain bikers and other adventure-sports athletes … are banned from many of the nation’s best natural playgrounds.”
The National Park Service (NPS) mandate of 1916 clearly stated that its purpose is “to leave the land unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” but the Outside author stumbles over this founding phrase and finds “unimpaired” and “enjoyment” to be “fuzzy concepts.” He writes: “Imagine the possibilities. You could park near an entrance point (to a national park), grab your bike, boat, climbing gear, or even wingsuit (to jump off cliffs) and, you know, roller-skate in the Sistine Chapel.” (Comparing Yellowstone to the Sistine Chapel is the brainchild of an ex-superintendent of Yellowstone Park.) The Outside writer accuses the NPS of suffering a “relevancy” problem, due to a “culture” that cancelled the “iconic Badwater Ultramarathon” and bans adventure sports where wildlife are granted priority. But “culture” is a straw man; I don’t think the park has a culture anymore. The NPS also believes in roads and tourist viewing; like most government institutions, it is a can of worms. In any event, that park decision, made long ago, to not allow paddling in a few, mostly remote, wild areas, was one of the best ideas Yellowstone has ever had. 
Another Outside argument: “The result is that many wilderness-loving athletes find themselves opposing new public-land designations because the added protections would get them barred from areas they currently use.” I wonder where they get this data? The proper vision of inclusivity, the Outside writer implies, is getting “ten million urban kids into the parks by 2017.” Those same kids would presumably be wearing and using the latest high-tech clothing and gear purchased for billions of bucks from slick, well-placed expensive ads in Outside. Geezers, it seems, are the problem. Gen Y dudes buy the gear while the National Parks Conservation Association, a historic defender of national parks, are old farts in their 60s, shuffling around in cheap hiking boots.
In fact, a number of us old farts once wrote defending-the-wilderness articles for Outside, which was not always a warren for the outdoor gear, Me generation, recreational fat tire-heads. Ed Abbey wrote for Outside, as did Terry Tempest Williams. I wrote at least a half-dozen articles myself; each, as I remember, had a distinct conservation theme.
At any rate, don’t worry too much about wilderness being under siege because, according to some academic professors and semanticists, it may not even exist. “Wilderness” is an antiquated concept, they say. The new paradigm is that “wilderness” is a flawed notion and an imperialistic enterprise of distinctly Western origins. These theorists are sometimes called “wilderness deconstructionists” and, whatever the hell that means, it doesn’t sound good. These guys claim Native Americans significantly altered the character of the landscape by fire and agriculture rendering the idea of untrammeled wilderness irrelevant. 
Incidentally, geneticists think Homo sapiens first made it to North America by way of Siberia 30,000 years ago, quite late in the record of human migrations. And what did the First Americans find? The largest wilderness that our species would ever encounter on earth, a wilderness five times the area of Australia and never before glimpsed by an upright primate. North and South America, though at that time uninhabited by people, teemed with huge, unfamiliar, and fierce beasts. Some of these extinct giant bears and lions probably actively discouraged human settlement; it may have taken another 15,000 years for the First Americans to get south of the ice. Some of those Pleistocene animals are still with us. 
Take the case of the American bison: The ice-age bison evolved into the Plains buffalo, Bison bison, perhaps 10,000 years ago. When Lewis and Clarke pushed up the Missouri River in 1804, some 60 million bison ranged the plains (an educated guess, but, in any case, lots of buffalo).  By 1902, there were 23 or 24 wild, free-ranging American bison left in the world; millions had been slaughtered to the edge of extinction between 1865 and 1881. That, in a pine nutshell, is illustrative of the differential weight of the footprint between Native Americans and European immigrants. When we white Americans got here, it was still all wilderness.
These two-dozen bison hid out in Yellowstone National Park in a place called Pelican Valley, a quiet place for wolves, grizzlies, and bison and exactly where today’s recreational paddlers want to launch one of their flotillas of pack rafts and inner tubes. I lived there for a half dozen months of spring, spread over a decade, 35 years ago, camped hidden back in the timber, just out of sight of the broad meadows through which bubbled a sluggish creek fished by rafts of white pelicans, its banks grazed by buffalo and grizzlies feeding on the fresh green grasses. It was a quiet time, an indulgence as I see it now. I told myself I was there to film grizzly bears, but that was merely my pretext for endless solo days spent silently watching the snow-corniced ridges for wildlife and listening to the wind. I saw no people and left few tracks, travelling on snowshoes over morning-crusted snow. I hid out for weeks in my wilderness, now just a small vulnerable island of wildness, but at the time it felt huge. Wilderness was what I needed most in those days, after returning from war in Southeast Asia.
I don’t go back there very often—a conscious decision. I did once see a pack of wolves try to bring down a bison at decade or so ago. But we make wild places less wild with our visits. What would professional running and competitive biking contribute to a place that has mountain lions and grizzly bears? The number of humans getting mauled, for one thing, would rise exponentially. The vast majority of grizzly-inflicted human injuries and fatalities comes from people surprising a mother bear with cubs on a day bed and then running. Biking and marathoning on park trails are to predators the equivalent of running. The first rule in grizzly country is never run.
“Wilderness begins in the human mind,” wrote Edward Abbey. For me, wilderness is also a good place to make camp, somewhere to hide out, less a fragile Sistine Chapel than the woods where the grizzly poops, a sufficiently wild enclave to see your own life as equal or subordinate to that of other species, like moose, cranes, and frogs. I prefer my wilderness areas to house a few man-eaters (technically, equal-opportunity predators). David Brower put it slightly more eloquently when he said: “Wilderness is where the hand of man has not set foot.”
Human consciousness evolved within wild habitats from the African savannah all the way to the frozen tundra of the North—those landscapes whose remnants we now call “wilderness.” That big brain we so tout today was shaped by the mammoths we hunted, by the great cats and bears that sometimes stalked us. And, as the wolf still sculpts elk evolution, in what landscape today reside the forces that yet hone the human mind born of wildness?

Pamplona's Running Of the Bulls

Revelers hold up traditional red neckties during the launch of the "Chupinazo" rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2014 San Fermin fiestas in Pamplona, Spain, Sunday, July 6, 2014. Revelers from around the world turned out here to kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls glorified by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises." (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Thousands of revelers crammed into the main square and adjacent narrow streets of northern Pamplona on Sunday for the start of Spain's famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival — a potent mix of adrenaline and alcohol-fueled celebrations that span over a week.
The fiesta, an uproarious blend of hair-raising daily bull runs and all-night partying, was immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises." The event still attracts huge crowds — and headlines of people being injured by the bulls — every year.
Revelers wearing traditional white outfits trimmed with red neckerchiefs and cummerbunds gathered for the noontime launching of a firework rocket, which signals the beginning of the nine-day festival.
Pamplona is located just south of the Rioja vineyard region, and wine has for centuries played an important role in the celebrations, which commemorate the city's patron saint.
On Sunday, festival-goers drank from traditional leather wine pouches, or delighted in spraying the liquid over each other. Others poured wine from balconies overhead.
The first of eight bull runs is set to begin at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) Monday when thousands of thrill-seekers will aspire to run alongside six fearsome bulls down a narrow 875 yards (800 meters) course through the city's streets.
Revelers are sprayed with wine during the launch of …
Late in the afternoon the bulls will face matadors and be killed in the ring.
Dozens of people are injured each year in the runs. Most get hurt after tripping and falling in the rush, but some are gored and trampled by the large, muscle-laden beasts.
The fighting bulls used in the centuries-old fiesta can weigh up to at 1,380 pounds (625 kilograms) and have killed 15 people since record-keeping began in 1924.
The regional government of Navarra said this year's festivities would be patrolled by 3,500 police to keep the events as safe as possible.
Animal rights activists protested Saturday, warning that 48 bulls are killed at the festival each year.

Animal Pictures