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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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Daily Drift

You know it's going to be a good day when ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

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

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Today is  -  Bald Is In Day 
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The Pacific
Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1096 Crusaders under Peter the Hermit reach Sofia in Hungary.
1691 William III defeats the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.
1794 British Admiral Lord Nelson loses his right eye at the siege of Calvi, in Corsica.
1806 The Confederation of the Rhine is established in Germany.
1941 Moscow is bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.
1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposes a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.
1957 The U.S. surgeon general, Leroy E. Burney, reports that there is a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.
1974 G. Gordon Liddy, John Ehrlichman and two others are convicted of conspiracy and perjury in connection with the Watergate scandal.
1984 Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale chooses Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.

Non Sequitur


Our Spies

The world grows more dangerous by the day, and while high-tech gadgetry can do some of the heavy lifting, intelligences services still need the kind of information only human spies can gather. How does someone get a gig like that?

The Real Internal Revenue Scandal


There is a scandal going on at the Internal Revenue Service, but it has nothing to do with Lois Lerner or her missing emails. House repugicans have not given up on their noisy crusade to tie Ms. Lerner to what they imagine to be widespread political corruption within the Obama administration, but all they have proved is that the I.R.S. is no better at backing up its computer files than most other government agencies.
No, the real scandal is what repugicans did to cripple the agency when virtually no one was looking. Since the broad tea party-driven spending cuts of 2010, the agency's budget has been cut by 14 percent after inflation is considered, leading to sharply reduced staff, less enforcement of the tax laws and poor taxpayer service.
As the economist Jared Bernstein noted recently in The Washington Post, a weakened I.R.S. enforcement staff will be unable to make a dent in the $385 billion annual gap between what taxpayers owe and what they pay - an unintended tax cut, mostly for the rich, that represents 11 percent of this year's spending. Middle-class taxpayers who struggle to fill out their 1040s may welcome a diminished threat of an audit, but in fact this reduction is not about them. The I.R.S. audits a far higher percentage of tax returns from people reporting incomes over $200,000 than from those reporting less, because that is where the money is (along with the most profitable cheating).
But in 2013, it audited only 24 percent of returns over $10 million, compared with 30 percent in 2010. Of returns reporting between $1 million and $5 million, it audited 16 percent in 2013, compared with 21 percent in 2010. That is great news for the nation's highest-income taxpayers, many of whom donate generously to repugican politicians to keep their taxes low. They are getting their money's worth from lawmakers who debilitate revenue collection while claiming to be deeply worried about the budget deficit.
But it is bad news for building roads, keeping the air clean, protecting the nation's security, and countless other vital government tasks. Revenue collected by I.R.S. enforcement actions has fallen by more than $4 billion over the last four years, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And every dollar spent on enforcement yields $6 in additional revenue. Many I.R.S. computers use obsolete Windows XP operating systems and cannot keep up with a growing problem of identity theft that is directing refunds to criminals.

Fact-Checking Site Finds Faux News Only Tells the Truth 18% of the Time

From the "Tell us something we didn't know" Department:

For liberals, it's not exactly "breaking news" to find out that Faux News is mostly comprised of misinformation or flat-out lies.  Anyone with even a shred of common sense can watch just a handful of their featured shows and see that the entire channel is nothing more than a propaganda mechanism for the repugican cabal.
Punditfact, a branch of Politifact, has put together profiles for CNN, MSNBC and Faux News detailing just how honest each of these networks are.  And while it's obviously not a completely comprehensive profile (it would be nearly impossible to fact check every single thing said on each network) it's a decent measure of the honesty of each.
And what do you know, Pundifact found Faux News to have only told the truth 18 percent (15 of 83) of the time for the statements they checked.  And even of that 18 percent, only 8 percent of what they said was completely "True."  The other 10 percent was rated as "Mostly True."
A staggering 60 percent (50 of 83) comments were found to be either "Mostly False," "False," or "Pants on Fire."
The other 22 percent were rated "Half True."
Essentially well over half of what Punditfact has fact-checked on Faux News has been a lie and only 18 percent has been deemed factual.
To compare, CNN was found to have been honest about 60 percent of the time, while only having 18 percent of their comments found to be false.  As for MSNBC, they were found to have been honest about 31 percent of the time, while 48 percent of the comments they had fact-checked were deemed untrue.

Democrats Strike Back on Hobby Lobby Case With 'Not My Boss's Business Act'

gty udall murray kb 140709 16x9 608 Dems Strike Back on Hobby Lobby Case With Not My Bosss Business ActDemocratic Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall fought back today against the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling with plans for legislation intended to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act.
Joined by fellow Democrats from both chambers of Congress and women's rights groups, the senators urged repugicans to support the bill they have nicknamed "Not My Boss's Business Act."
"We are here to ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to healthcare," Murray, of Washington state, said, speaking at the Capitol. "I hope repugicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decision about their own health care and their own bodies."
It's an issue that Democrats hope will sway voters in the midterm elections. With their control of the Senate in jeopardy, Democrats are trying to energize and awaken liberal voters who tend to sit out congressional elections.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made clear that politics were at the center of the debate. He said he intends to bring the bill to a Senate vote as soon as next week, adding that anyone who opposes the measure faces the risk of being "treated unfavorably come November with the elections."
The bill, the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act, mandates that employers cannot disrupt coverage for contraception or other health services that are guaranteed under federal law. It comes a week after the Supreme Court's controversial ruling that closely held for-profit companies can deny contraceptive coverage under their company health plans if it goes against a sincerely held religious belief.
Although the court issued a narrow ruling focused on contraception in the Hobby Lobby case, some Democratic leaders fear the decision sets a precedent that could allow employers to deny other health care coverage based on religious beliefs.
"If bosses can deny birth control, they can deny vaccines, HIV treatment or other basic health services for employees or their dependents," Murray said.
Colorado's Udall said women should never have to ask their bosses for a "permission slip" to access birth control or other critical health services. Udall, who is among the Democrats facing a tough re-election bid, has publicly criticized his repugican opponent for his voting record on birth control and abortion.
The bill is receiving strong Democratic support, with 35 senators signing onto the legislation.
Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said today's bill "protects the right of all Americans, men and women alike, to make decisions about their medical care in consultation with their doctor, not their boss."
Harkin, D-Iowa, authored the health care act's provision to protection contraception coverage.
Senator Barbara Boxer, D- Calif., who has championed women's rights throughout her career, called the Supreme Court's decision an "outrage" at this morning's news conference and threw her support behind the bill as a congressional fix.
"The court's majority has decided that corporations are entitled to more rights than individual Americans," Boxer said, calling the majority's ruling "ideological" and "political."
Mitch McConnell, r-Ky., suggested that Democrats were simply trying to hold "show votes" to prepare for the November elections.
"We'd have a better chance of working our way through the bills that we need to pass if we cut out the show votes and didn't eat up time trying to score points for the fall election," McConnell said.
Representative Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said she would be introducing companion legislation in the House, joined by fellow Democrats Jerrold Nadler and Louise Slaughter, both of New York, "to ensure that women in American get the health care that they need."
Sixty members have already signed on to co-sponsor the bill, she said.
Slaughter said the Supreme Court was "peddling" the country back to the 19 th century with its decision.
The members were joined today by women's rights groups, including Planned Parenthood, who thanked Congress for its decision to stand up for women.
"Bosses should stick to what they know best: the boardroom and the bottom line," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center. "Stay out of the bedroom and the exam room."

How America’s biblical ignorance enables the christian wingnuts

SCOTUS' Hobby Lobby ruling has set a precedent for corporations to willfully misinterpret the good book's teachings
How America's Biblical ignorance enables the Christian rightThe bible doesn’t mention anything about contraception or abortion, but this hasn’t stopped 89 million American evangelicals acting as if “thou shall not consume a pregnancy pill” were one of the ten commandments. For the benefit of my mostly American audience, it’s not. In fact, the first four of the hebrew god’s Decalogue amount to nothing more than “maniacal throat clearing,” to steal a phrase from the late Christopher Hitchens.
The decision of the five wingnut justices to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, thus granting religious personhood to 90 percent of U.S. corporations, which means that certain for-profit companies may refuse to cover forms of birth control they find morally objectionable, has been debated from every angle except one: the theological perspective.
An overwhelming majority of hyper-religious Americans, and Americans in general, are incapable of debating the theological aspect of their faith. Not only do a staggering majority of Americans have no idea what is or isn’t written in the bible, they have not a morsel of knowledge as it pertains to just about all aspects of historical context and biblical scholarship.
At a time of heightened controversy surrounding women’s reproductive rights, most discourse relies upon the political, philosophical and legal dimensions of access to abortion and contraception. In almost all instances, religious traditions and theological perspectives are not fully explored beyond an occasional reference to the biblical commandment, “thou shall not kill.” The nation’s collective biblical ignorance not only prevents any reasonable theological debate, but also allows christian fundamentalists, like Hobby Lobby and its christian wingnut supporters, to contort scripture to their own advantage.
The lunatic fringe has successfully rebranded the brown-skinned liberal jew, who gave away free healthcare, was pro-redistributing wealth, and hung with a prostitute, into a white-skinned, trickledown, union-busting conservative, for the very fact that an overwhelming number of Americans are astonishingly illiterate when it comes to understanding the bible. On hot-button social issues, from same-sex marriage to abortion, biblical passages are invoked without any real understanding of the context or true meaning.
If you need to know what drives the christian wingnuts' rabid enthusiasm to rally behind Hobby Lobby, it’s important to understand how social conservatives have morphed jesus into a muscular, masculine warrior as a means of combating what they see as the modernization of society.
“A significant impetus behind the assault on women and modernity was the feeling that women had encroached upon traditional male spheres like the workplace and colleges. Furthermore, women’s leadership in the churches had harmed christianity by creating an effeminate clergy and a weak sense of self. All of this was associated with liberalism, feminism, women, and modernity,” Thom Hartmann writes.
biblical illiteracy has made its way all the way up to the bench of the nation’s highest Court. In 2002, Justice Scalia defended his pro-death penalty stance by claiming that the bible forgives those who wrongly apply the death penalty to innocent persons on the grounds that the wrongly convicted will have an opportunity to set the record straight in the courthouse of the afterlife.
More than 95 percent of U.S. households own at least one copy of the bible. So how much do Americans know of the book that one-third of the country believes to be literally true? Apparently, very little, according to data from the Barna Research group. Surveys show that 60 percent can’t name more than five of the ten commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple.
According to the American bible society’s 2014 “state of the bible” report, a majority of U.S. adults (81 percent) said they consider themselves highly, moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the bible. Yet less than half (43 percent) were able to name the first five books of the bible. The report also showed that only half knew that John the Baptist was not one of the 12 apostles, while roughly 82 percent believe “god helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse.
“All the research indicates that biblical literacy in America is at an all-time low,” Kenneth Berding, professor of new testament at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, told the christian post. “My own experience teaching a class of new college freshman every year for the past 15 years suggests to me that although students 15 years ago knew little about the bible upon entering my classes, today’s students on average know even less about the bible.”
No one should take the christian wingnuts' attitudes toward sexuality and abortion seriously when so many evangelicals believe Sodom and Gomorrah to be a married couple. Put another way: one should not be allowed to hide behind the veil of “religious freedom,” as an excuse to discriminate against others, when one has little or no understanding of their own religion.
Knowing the new testament is not simply a matter of reading the bible cover to cover, or memorizing a handful of verses. Knowing the bible requires a scholarly contextual understanding of authorship, history and interpretation. For instance, Hobby Lobby and anti-choice agitators hide behind the “thou shall not kill” commandment, but the bible demands death for a whole range of minor indiscretions, from cursing your parents (Exodus 21:17) to drunken behavior (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), from working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14) to a woman lying about her virginity (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
Invariably, christians dismiss these complicating and contradictory biblical laws with an, “Oh, that’s the old testament” defense. Typically they then claim the new testament supersedes mosaic law—the 613 commandments of the first five books of the old testament. But jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
In other words, if the followers of christ are to apply their religious beliefs in a way that is consistent with the laws and traditions of their faith, how does this not challenge a great number of the nation’s secular laws? The Supreme Court has set precedence in a way that allows corporations to cherry-pick which of the nation’s secular laws don’t suit them, while simultaneously allowing these same corporations the right to cherry-pick their own religious beliefs.

This Modern World

Man visiting son in jail trapped in room for over 30 hours

A man was trapped in a visiting room at Cook County jail, Chicago, for 31 hours over the weekend

Policewoman came to the rescue after man discovered venomous snake in toilet

A construction workers in Alabama got the shock of his life on Saturday morning. Willie Harris thought it was a joke when he saw a snake coming out of the toilet, but once he saw it move, he knew it was nothing to laugh about.
Harris’ boss called 911 and when the police showed up they devised a strategy to get the snake out. Police officer Alice Thompson used two batons to turn the snake. Once she had the snake in the right position, she grabbed it by its head.
"I was holding it actually on the corners of the mouth where the mouth was actually open at the time. Which for me, that was actually the first time I'd ever seen fangs that were folded back in a snake," Thompson said.
She did all of this while her two male partners, as well as the construction workers, huddled in a corner and watched. Thompson then took the venomous cottonmouth outside and released it down the road from the construction site. If anyone other than Officer Thompson showed up, there likely would have definitely been a different outcome. "He'd be dead," said Harris.

Man faces illegal weapons charges after building crossbow to protect himself from vampires

A man in western Sweden faces charges for illegal weapons possession after building a crossbow to protect himself from vampires. The man in Uddevalla, western Sweden, hates vampires.
He hates them so much that he built a crossbow at home and had it aimed at the door. The man had a history of weapons violations, and police were on their way to pick him up for a trial relating to a breach of knife laws. Upon entering his apartment they discovered that a crossbow, with arrow at the ready, was pointing straight at the door.
"Today I am going to go out and kill vampires," the man had written on his Facebook page. Other social media statuses included "Garlic!" and "What do you do when the blood is all gone?" The man admitted at the trial that he owns two crossbows, one which he had purchased and the "Zero - god's punishment", which he had made by hand.
The man said that he had the weapons because he felt threatened, and said that he admits to his crimes if indeed owning a crossbow is illegal. But if there is no clear law against it, he wants the weapons back. Police tried out the crossbow to see if it functioned - and lodged an arrow into a wall 22 metres away.

7 American Crime And Punishment Museums

If you're still planning a road trip this summer, you'll want to add some of the lesser-known stops to your tourist plans. There are crime scenes, prisons, and museums all over where you can learn something new about the sordid history of crime in America. Here are just a few of them.

25 Insane Facts About Amsterdam

Everyone knows that Amsterdam is the capital city of The Netherlands, but did you know that it also has more canals than Venice? Check out this infographic to learn why the city's buildings are so narrow, what the number one stolen item is, and why you need to be careful when asking your friends to stop by the coffee shop.



Early Case of Down Syndrome

The earliest case of Down syndrome comes from a 5- to 7-year-old child who lived in medieval France some 1,500 years ago.

Dark Chocolate Healthy?

If you were already having a good day, it just got better: Dark chocolate is good for you! So long as it's dark (not milk) and consumed in moderation, the joyous cocoa goodness has health benefits aplenty.

The Emotional Code

Forgotten Vials of Smallpox Found in Storage Room

We’ve been telling you for years that the only smallpox left in the world were two laboratory repositories, one in Russia and the other at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. We’ve even discussed the possibility of destroying those two stashes. But last week, a scientist cleaning out a room in Washington stumbled upon a cardboard box containing six glass vials of variola virus (smallpox) samples that had been there who-knows-how long.
The freeze-dried smallpox samples were found in a building at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, that has been used by the Food and Drug Administration since 1972, according to the CDC.

The scientist was cleaning out a cold room between two laboratories on July 1 when he made the discovery, FDA officials said.

Officials said labeling indicated the smallpox had been put in the vials in the 1950s. But they said it's not clear how long the vials had been in the building, which did not open until the 1960s.

No one has been infected, and no smallpox contamination was found in the building.
Officials said this was the first time smallpox has been found in the U.S. that wasn’t documented and accounted for. Scientists from the CDC don’t know yet whether the smallpox virus is dead or alive. The disease was declared eradicated in 1980.

Farming with LED Lights

This farm in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan is using a state-of-the-art system of 100 percent LED lighting, as opposed to other LED farms that pair the technology with traditional fluorescent lighting. Their exclusive use of LED enables the farm to harvest 1.5 times more vegetables, producing 10,000 heads of lettuce a day. The LED lighting system uses 40 percent less electricity compared with fluorescent systems and provides increased control over photosynthesis, which can be adjusted as necessary. Learn more here.

The Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now

Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now
Changes measured by the Swarm satellite over the past 6 months shows that Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm.
The biggest weak spots in the magnetic field — which extends 370,000 miles (600,000 kilometers) above the planet's surface — have sprung up over the Western Hemisphere, while the field has strengthened over areas like the southern Indian Ocean, according to the magnetometers onboard the Swarm satellites — three separate satellites floating in tandem.
The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is that Earth's magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA's Swarm mission manager. In fact, the data suggest magnetic north is moving toward Siberia.
"Such a flip is not instantaneous, but would take many hundred if not a few thousand years," Floberghagen told Live Science. "They have happened many times in the past."
Scientists already know that magnetic north shifts. Once every few hundred thousand years the magnetic poles flip so that a compass would point south instead of north. While changes in magnetic field strength are part of this normal flipping cycle, data from Swarm have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past. Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought. As such, rather than the full flip occurring in about 2,000 years, as was predicted, the new data suggest it could happen sooner.
Floberghagen hopes that more data from Swarm will shed light on why the field is weakening faster now.
Still, there is no evidence that a weakened magnetic field would result in a doomsday for Earth. During past polarity flips there were no mass extinctions or evidence of radiation damage. Researchers think power grids and communication systems would be most at risk.
Earth's magnetic field acts like a giant invisible bubble that shields the planet from the dangerous cosmic radiation spewing from the sun in the form of solar winds. The field exists because Earth has a giant ball of iron at its core surrounded by an outer layer of molten metal. Changes in the core's temperature and Earth's rotation boil and swirl the liquid metal around in the outer core, creating magnetic field lines.
The movement of the molten metal is why some areas of the magnetic field strengthen while others weaken, Florberghagen said. When the boiling in one area of the outer core slows down, fewer currents of charged particles are released, and the magnetic field over the surface weakens.
"The flow of the liquid outer core almost pulls the magnetic field around with it," Floberghagen said. "So, a field weakening over the American continent would mean that the flow in the outer core below America is slowing down."
The Swarm satellites not only pick up signals coming from the Earth's magnetic field, but also from its core, mantle, crust and oceans. Scientists at the ESA hope to use the data to make navigation systems that rely on the magnetic field, such as aircraft instruments, more accurate, improve earthquake predictions and pinpoint areas below the planet's surface that are rich in natural resources. Scientists think fluctuations in the magnetic field could help identify where continental plates are shifting and help predict earthquakes.
These first results from Swarm were presented at the Third Swarm Science Meeting in Denmark on June 19.

Missing Light

Hubble instrument reveals the universe is ‘missing’ light

Something is amiss in the universe. There appears to be […]

Daily Comic Relief


Gorilla B.O.

Silverback gorillas can broadcast their presence with a stinky stench, or turn off their scent to hide from strangers, new research suggests.

New Hedgehog Found

Fish Friendships

Study of stickleback fish finds they recognize each other if they have been housed together.

Cow Farts

Livestock burping, flatulence and manure was the source of more than 13 million tons of methane gas in 2004.

Anchovy Invasion

The school of fish measured about 50 feet wide and 325 feet long, and could have contained anywhere from 1 million to 100 million fish.

Greek Croc

A six-foot crocodile has been found in a lake near the seaside town of Rethymno on the Greek island of Crete, terrifying locals who claim it's been feeding on lambs and ducks.
It is an unusual sight, as wild crocodiles are not known to inhabit Europe - most are found spread across Africa, Asia and America. Residents have been blaming the crocodile for missing lambs and ducks, and souvenir shops are now selling inflatable crocodiles.
"Yes, they (the locals) are very upset because they are in danger. There are farm lands and properties (nearby) and people are in danger, they are afraid," said local resident Nikistratos Charokopou. "There are rivers from which people draw water to irrigate their fields and they are afraid to visit their land," he added.

Regional official Vangelis Mamangakis said it was unclear how long it has been there. Mamangakis said the crocodile was probably a pet that grew too big for its owner, who probably dumped him in the lake. Parts of the lake were fenced off and efforts will be made on Thursday to remove the crocodile.
There's a video of the crocodile filmed by a drone here.

Animal Pictures