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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 26, 2014

The Daily Drift

Carolina Naturally Is Moving!
To an afternoon/evening publishing format beginning Monday July 28, 2014.
Due to Life changes - the other half of the editorial team here whose illness that has consumed most of our time is stable and under treatment - and just plain boredom with retirement on the part of the other half's, half so the half not under physician's care is returning to the corporate world as of that date.
Carolina Naturally will continue to publish the fine blog that it is only instead of publishing just after midnight each morning it will be published around 5PM US Eastern Time each day (or maybe a bit earlier on weekends).
Tell Everybody ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

An Gosh Darned Honest Cowboy Photographed in 1888 ... !
Today is  - The National Day Of The Cowboy
Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Weehawken, Manahawkin, Windemre, Muskogee, Caledonia and Bemidji, United States
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mexico City, Mexico
Sao Paulo, Salvador and Curitiba, Brazil
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Chatham, L'ancienne-Lorette and Byward Market, Canada
Manta, Ecuador
Medellin, Colombia
Managua, Nicaragua
Valdivia, Chile
Rome, Treviso, Perugia, Ravenna, Milan and Genova, Italy
London, England
Moscow, Ryazan and Orel, Russia
Tallaght and Dublin, Ireland
Roubaix, Boulogne-Billancourt, Rouen and Cerny, France
Nuremberg and Eschborn, Germany
Vinnytsya, Ukraine
Square, Northern Ireland
Basauri and Madrid, Spain
Riga, Latvia
Cardiff, Wales
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Rijeka, Croatia
Damascus, Syria
Chandigarh, Ganganagar, Tiruchchirappalli, Patna, Bikaner, Surat, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Vijayanada, Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore, India
Seri Kembangan, Malaysia
Rangoon, Burma
Tehran, Shari-I-Tajan and Zanjan, Iran
Phom Penh, Cambodia
La Dagotiere, Mauritius
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Guangzhou, China
Banjar Masin, Indonesia
Islamabad, Pakistan
As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq
Petah Tikva, Israel
Lagos, Nigeria
The Pacific
Ashburton and Sydney, Australia
Quezon City, Sampaloc and Manila, Philippines

Today in History

657 Mu'awiyan defeats Caliph Ali in the Battle of Siffin in Mesopotamia.
1526 Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon and colonists leave Santo Domingo for Florida.
1529 Francisco Pizarro receives a royal warrant to "discover and conquer" Peru.
1758 British forces capture France's Fortress of Louisbourg after a seven-week siege.
1759 The French relinquish Fort Ticonderoga in New York to the British under General Jeffrey Amherst.
1775 The Continental Congress establishes a postal system for the colonies with Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general.
1790 An attempt at a counter-revolution in France is put down by the National Guard at Lyons.
1794 The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus, France.
1830 King Charles X of France issues five ordinances limiting the political and civil rights of citizens.
1847 Liberia becomes the first African colony to become an independent state.
1848 The French army suppresses the Paris uprising.
1886 William Gladstone is replaced by Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister of England.
1918 Britain's top war ace, Edward Mannock, is shot down by ground fire on the Western Front.
1920 The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified.
1948 In an Executive Order, President Harry Truman calls for the end of discrimination and segregation in the U.S. armed forces.
2005 The shuttle Discovery launches on mission STS-114, marking a return to space after the shuttle Columbia crash of 2003.

Non Sequitur


10 Signs We're in a Cold War

From sports and space, to trade and missiles, frosty U.S.-Russia relations are back. 

There's A New Squid-Faced Cryptocurrency In Town

Cryptocurrency “brands” are trying their darndest to become as likeable as greenbacks, using characters like Doge that appeal to the target audience, and since the whole thing is bordering on becoming fantasy funny money anyway it’s rather appropriate to use fictional characters as the spokesthings.
The latest cryptocurrency incarnation bears the horrifying, squid-faced visage of the Great Old One Cthulhu, and this crypto currency is guaranteed to drive those foolish enough to accept it mad with greed!
Here’s some of the strange rhetoric Cthulhu Offerings is using to get people to join their monetary "ritual"-
As the equinox approaches we begin the ritual; four weeks and five days long it builds until Cthulhu awakens and one worshipper is rewarded greatly!
The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us. Join us in our ritual.
Will you join in this monetary ritual, or let your dead presidents, and your sanity, stay safe and sound right where they are?

We’ve Tolerated ‘Too Big to Fail’ for Far Too Long

With international disasters and foreign policy imbroglios everywhere you turn, it’s easy to forget that we have numerous domestic issues with which we still must contend. To drill it down even further, we even have problems that warrant attention above and beyond nonstop repugican House attempts to disable Obamacare, either through legislation or lawsuit.
The Great Recession. Remember that? Although it’s been nearly six years since the catastrophic burst of the housing bubble and the subsequent stock market crash of late 2008, and though many experts tell us the worst was over in June 2009, most Americans aren’t feeling recovered. For a host of reasons including, but not limited to, sluggish job growth, stagnant wages, high levels of personal debt and underwater mortgages, the middle and working classes are struggling. And although the Big Banks would like very much for us to collectively forget their culpability in this mess, playing the persecuted victim card as often as possible (see U.S. venture capitalist Thomas Perkins’ letter to The Wall Street Journal, likening the “rising tide of hatred of the successful 1 percent” to the persecution of the jews during Nazi Germany), their Jedi Mind Tricks have been only marginally successful.
Early this week, The New York Times columnist Joe Nocera brought the issue of the Great Recession back to collective consciousness with his piece, “Did Dodd-Frank Work?” In it, he observes, “There are many aspects of the law on which Democrats and repugicans disagree. But there is one area in which the two sides are largely in agreement: ‘Too Big to Fail’ is still with us.”
I don’t think we need to be financial experts to comprehend that not much has altered with our precarious system. While Bank of America, et al may be out of the subprime mortgage business, and the stock market has come back in a big way since the collapse of 2008, it’s tough not to feel that the financial system’s rebound continues to come at our expense – without us enjoying similar progress.
It also seems hard to believe that if a major institution once again found itself in dire straits, Uncle Sam wouldn’t ride to the rescue. The more things change, the more they stay the same after all and anyone left with the impression that the health and well-being Corporate America comes second to that of human citizens just hasn’t been paying attention.
Moving beyond common sense intuition to actual legislative fact, Nocera points out that, “In one part of Dodd-Frank, the banks are required to write ‘living wills,’ laying out how they could wind down without causing a financial catastrophe. Although they are now on their third round of living wills, the documents are thousands of pages, and the government hasn’t yet told them whether the second round of living wills, filed a year or so ago, passed muster.”
I can’t pass up the opportunity to point out another obvious corporate vs. citizen double standard. Though there are cities in America where it is essentially illegal to be poor and homeless, you can count on one finger how many bankers went to jail over derailing the global economy. And anyone who has undergone a personal bankruptcy proceeding can attest to the dehumanizing, humiliating scrutiny of medical bills, student loan amounts and income. It can take up to a dozen years before any entity will issue an individual credit again. Yet despite the disproportionate bluster, the nation’s banks operate as though they didn’t come to Washington with collective hats in hand little more than a leap year ago. And apparently they are not being held accountable to ensure it never happens again.
What we are left with, in the words of Nocera, is this: “the ultimate problem: We have no way of knowing whether ‘too big to fail’ still exists until we have another crisis. Let’s just hope we don’t have to find out anytime soon.”
Yeah, that doesn’t work. We must demand better of our lawmakers and regulators. What’s that they say about the definition of insanity?

The growing trend that's got the religio-wingnuts thoroughly rattled

The real reason wingnuts are so determined to protect their religious freedoms? 
America's growing secularism
by Amanda Marcotte
There's been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America, which is at historically high levels. There's a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics, women's growing empowerment, the internet, the economy and cable news. But religion and religious delusion an important role as well. There's no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more like Western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. And caught in between are a group of liberal christians that are culturally aligned with secularists and are increasingly and dismayingly seeing the concept of "faith" aligned with a narrow and wingnut political worldview.
That this polarization is happening is hard to deny, even if it's harder to measure that political polarization. The number of Americans who cite "none" when asked about a religious identity is rising rapidly, up to nearly 20% from 15% in 2007, with a third of people under 30 identifying with no religious faith. Two-thirds of the "nones" say they believe in god, suggesting that this is more of a cultural drift towards secularism than some kind of crisis of faith across the country.
But even this may underrepresent how secular our country really is getting, as many people who say they belong to a cult don't really go to cult much, if at all. While Americans like to tell pollsters they go to cult regularly, in-depth research shows they are lying and many of them blow it off, putting our actual cult-going rates at roughly the same level of secular Western Europe.

Fake christians All Up in Arms about the Black Jesus TV Show

The real problem seems to be "jesus as a 'black guy' living in the hood," when every bigot knows black folks can't share in his AR-15 totin' goodness!…
There is a new television series about jesus coming to the Adult Swim network on August 7. Brought to you by Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder, the new show Black jesus has jesus living in Compton California and on a “daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood with the help of his small but loyal group of downtrodden followers.”
Watch the trailer:
jesus is played by Gerald “Slink” Johnson and as the review at the christian post complained shows jesus “talking faith and salvation to his neighbors and spearheading efforts for a community garden. “Black jesus” also shows the faux messiah dropping four-letter expletives and being accused of “smoking all the f—— weed,” in addition to being shot at and getting carjacked.”
Whoa, faux messiah? Why all the hate?
David A. Rodgers, pastor of the House of Prayer for All Nations Ministries in Chicago, is very angry and not at all in a mood to turn the other cheek for jesus as jesus instructed. Instead he has written a letter and posted it on his Facebook page:
We, the christian fantasyland are vehemently opposed and violently offended at this upcoming program soon to air on your channel called, ‘BLACK jESUS.’ The level of disrespect aimed at the depiction of our lord and savior is inexcusable. We are hard pressed to find any value in this program, its message or its purpose. As a group of deluded morons, we are prepared to launch a mass campaign and boycott of your channel and any advertisers that are financially profiting from this program. These continued attacks against our christian delusions and the degrading imagery of the lord jesus christ, will be met with social media awareness to the entire christian fantasyland and a targeted boycott of your advertisers.
There is no way that this show would be aimed at the jewish or muslim community. We are demanding an IMMEDIATE retraction of this show and a PUBLIC APOLOGY to the christian fantasyland at large. We will continue to make our fantasyland aware of your blatant disrespect until there is a redemptive shift in the culture of your channel and programming. Please understand that we will not take this lying down. We will fight this and any other program that seeks to demean our delusions, our savior and our fantasies. A draft of this letter is being distributed to every cult in America.
I suspect Rodgers won’t get far with his protest. The christian post writes that as of press time the post had “less than 200 shares” and when checked by me this morning it had 195 shares and a whopping 99 “likes.”
He is not alone however. One Million Moms, that cabal representing a few thousand moms (but what’s the religio-wingnuts without bombast?) calls Black jesus “a blasphemous new show” and “makes a mockery of our lord…the entire program will be based on the lies that is christianity.”
Oh, like the religio-wingnuts, you mean, which has pretty much kicked jesus and his teachings to the curb?
One Millions Moms says,
We need to send a loud and clear message to Adult Swim, its owner Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (a Time Warner Company), and all potential advertisers of “Black jesus” that this kind of programming is insulting and completely unacceptable. Adult Swim is not ridiculing any other religion currently and wouldn’t dream of mocking mohammed or muslims.
To be fair, groups like One Million Moms do a good enough job by themselves of mocking islam and other religions and are friends with an entire network whose sole focus seems to be mocking everything outside of the religio-wingnuts' own twisted mockery of christianity.
If we speak with one voice now, we can keep this program from ever seeing the light of day. christians must take a stand and not be silent. Networks like Adult Swim continue to mock christianity, and we will not stand for it. christians should no longer sit idly by and allow this blasphemy to continue without speaking up in protest. ‘Black jesus’ is another attempt to distort the lies that is christianity. There is power in numbers!
Except One Million Moms shouldn’t be talking about numbers. Their own Facebook page reveals the sum total of 66,915 likes. Now I’m no math guru, but it seems to me that 66k is a lot less than one million. Maybe they should not stress the numbers thing so much, given their own lack of them. Just sayin’.
There is also a Facebook group dedicated to stopping the show, Boycott the “Black jesus” TV Show. Numbers are a problem here too. christian post counted 600 followers yesterday. I counted 658 this morning.
republican_jesusI should mention here that the Black jesus Facebook page has 71,688 likes as of my writing, more than any of these critics.
The real problem, I suspect, is what One Million Moms, which is run, you’ll remember, by our bigoted friends at the un- American anti-Family Asshats, calls “jesus as a ‘black guy’ living in the hood,” with the emphasis on “black guy.” Everyone knows, and you can verify this with Megyn Kelly, that jesus, like Santa, is a white guy with disturbingly Northern European features.
We all know that the historical jesus was a jewish guy from Galilee. But if, as christianity has insisted, jesus is god, then certainly he can manifest as a black guy in Compton. Or are they saying jesus would NOT do such a thing. You know, because of all the black people? We are also all aware that for the Religio-wingnuts' ethnic nationalist set, jesus has become a sort of white guy’s personal god. You black folks can’t share in his AR-15 totin’ goodness!
It is amusing to watch the religio-wingnuts squirm and rage and ignore jesus’ teachings as they whine about how a guy they ignore anyway is being portrayed, and about having their beliefs mocked – all the while completely ignoring the fact that they make all their own money off mocking other peoples’ beliefs.
Truly hilarious. I have no doubt Black jesus will do far more justice to jesus than any of these critics. At least, unlike the religio-wingnuts, Black jesus seems to care about people.

Anti-Immigration Rally Blows Up in tea party's Face

A racist anti-immigration rally, headlined by Kooky Kongressman Steve King - what could go wrong?
Iowa's Steve King is well known for his hatred of brown people.  Last July, King smeared 99% of immigrate children as drug mules, stating
kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing that they were breaking the law. And [immigration reform supporters] will say to me and others that we have to do something about the 11 million, and some of them were valedictorians. [...] It's true in some cases, but they aren't all valedictorians, they weren't all brought in by their parents. For every one that's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.
Julius Streicher couldn't have produced more hateful garbage. Well, with immigration bashing going around the clock on Hate Radio and Faux News, King decided to hold his own Klan hate rally in his home district of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
I mean, Saturday was a beautiful summer day across America, and how better to enjoy it than getting together with friends while eating hot dogs and attacking children of color.  Who could argue with that!?
And with the financial backing of wingnut welfare, as well as the right wing propaganda apparatus  to promote and market the rally, surely the crowd in Steve King's red district would be massive, wouldn't..... well, wouldn't?
Yeah, not so much.
Please proceed, Kongressman.

Why Poor People Vote for repugicans

Considering how repugicans constantly attack the poor, they shouldn't have a chance with anyone who isn't already rich. So why do they?

Poor People
The repugicans like to say they are all about personal responsibility. Then of course, they support the SCOTUS decision taking personal responsibility away from citizens and placing it in the hands of corporations. They lie about a war, have us believing in non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and then try to blame the situation in Iraq on the subsequent administration.
The repugican cabal advocates slashing food stamps, denying unemployment assistance, opposing affordable healthcare, and cutting taxes for the wealthy. They constantly demonize poor people, and think the economically disadvantaged deserve only scorn and insults. If you’re poor, you’re just lazy. End of reasons. Yet they get heavy votes from lower income Americans. How are they doing this?
“People don’t vote to say ‘thank you,’ do they? They vote to say ‘fuck you!’” ~ Bill Maher
There are many factors as to why this is so, including gerrymandering districts, such as what just made news in Florida, and voter suppression. But these particular elements have been covered extensively, and they aren’t the only reasons for this phenomenon. The repugicans rely on a myriad of tactics to keep their poorer constituents voting against their own economic interests.
One tactic is misdirection. They paint Democrats as irresponsible whenever they can. They call our President, a man graduating manga cum laude from Harvard Law School, a community organizer. In short, they use smear tactics.
Meanwhile President Obama has proven eminently effective as leader of the nation. He has made healthcare accessible to millions of Americans, kept the USA out of a handful of wars, boosted the economy, and fixed some of the mess left behind by the the shrub junta. Yes, he has a long way to go and he’s far from perfect, but Obama has faced an uphill battle of repugicans refusing to work with him even before he took office.
Yet many wingnuts who know better say that the President hasn’t done anything to help the country. Or, hilariously, that he’s some kind of tyrant, right after saying he’s weak on foreign policy for not starting enough wars.
You also can’t ignore the infiltration of wingnut talking points into the faith of Red Staters. Evangelists, televised or not, spearhead the religio-wingnuts and are awful for “us against them” sermons and mentality. Don’t believe me? Look to Pat Robertson and his hateful rhetoric against LGBT Americans, Chic-Fil-A, or, again, the recent Hobby Lobby ruling for just a few examples
Poor People 
These people believe that their god is a wingnut. The #cwot (christian wingnuts on twitter) hashtag gets heavy use. There you will find christians tweeting anti-Obama, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and anti-Democrat statements. And all of them believe god is on their side. It is the very definition of zealotry.
Throw Faux News into the mix, which Politifact recently reported as disseminating more false information than truth. When you travel through Red States, Faux News is on in most gas stations, fast food restaurants, and public areas. An unabashedly wingnut media outlet, Faux News continually broadcasts a wingnut agenda to its viewers.
They blame The Other; immigrants, ethnic minorities, LGBT Americans, and women, while saying people need to “take America back” They repeatedly bash the President, give platforms to lobbyists and corporate shills, and constantly work to undermine progress and support obstructionists. They do all of this while telling the viewer that they are the chosen people of god and America.
Then they tell you the most important part, everyone else is lying to you. Don’t touch that dial. Faux News creates fake “wars” on Xmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and whatever will shock their audience. This paranoia is sown to distract their viewers from voting from the repugican cabal’s real war on poor people.
With Red State Education kept slashed, distrust against science and critical thinking is sown and everyone is highly encouraged to go to cult for more political divisiveness and false moral superiority. And Faux News backs all of this up. That’s how you get voters opposing their own health care, supporting corporations poisoning their water, or advocating cutting taxes for the wealthy.
This is a pure definition of the French word ressentiment. Yes, it sounds like the English “resentment” and is somewhat similar in definition. But it defines the phenomenon of an electorate voting against their own economic interests. “A generalized feeling of resentment and often hostility harbored by one individual or group against another, especially chronically and with no means of direct expression.” It’s textbook population control.
This also plays into how many wingnuts get made fun of as ignorant hicks, as they are manipulated to be this way. They swallow whatever story is spoon-fed to them, no matter how ridiculous. Birther crap. Benghazi mistruths. Even that Obama is the anti-christ. They cannot and will not accept that what they are saying is not true. They will not compromise or reason in debates, no matter how crazy their argument.
Poor People 
That gets seen by everyone else, correctly, as a willingly obstinate ignorance and even pure insanity, absolutely frustrating anybody dealing with them. This leads to insults, both sides of the debate dig in their heels, nothing gets accomplished, and the conservative thinks they have “won.” Meanwhile the political divide widens even more.
“Divide and conquer,” remember? Clear thinking Americans realize that their President is not a Kenyan/muslim/Fascist/Socialist/Communist/Tyrant/Weakling/King/Coward/anti-christ/Whatever. But if you inject enough irrational fear and/or loathing into your base, they won’t question you when you say someone else is to blame for their troubles.
And there you have the roots of the majority of America’s divisive issues and why poor people continue to vote against their interests. This problem is so deeply ingrained it will take generations to die out. And by then, we’ll have a whole new set of problems if we haven’t been defeated by the current ones. But you tell that to the kids today and they won’t believe you.

Homeless People Share Surprising Facts About Themselves

Homelessness isn't something that only happens to the mentally disabled and financially destitute, there are plenty of people from all walks of life who have found themselves homeless for any number of reasons, and you might be surprised to discover their life stories resemble your own.

The Rethink Homelessness program aims to change our preconceived notions about how someone becomes homeless, and they asked several homeless people from the Orlando area to share a fact about themselves that people might find surprising for this video entitled Cardboard Stories.
You'll probably be surprised by some of the facts they have to share, and not so surprised by others, but this video will definitely make you think of homelessness in a new light.

27 Unbelievable Local Traditions

To the folks who live there, these rites seem normal. But to the rest of us, but staging a buffet for monkeys is just strange. In this week’s mental_floss video, John Green tells us about the weird local traditions that may even be worth traveling for.

Eager Beaver Bar ends weekly 'Lingerie Night' after patron attempted to kidnap bartender

After a regular Lingerie Night attendee at Eager Beaver Bar in Appleton, Wisconsin, was charged last week with attempting to kidnap a bartender, the weekly event has been discontinued. The bar's owner, Christina Coon, said Lingerie Night, at which bartenders served customers while dressed only in underwear, was stopped in light of allegations against Dennis L. Mitchell, 45, of Appleton.
Police said Mitchell ran up to the bartender as she walked to her vehicle on July 10 and tried to put a plastic bag over her head. When the woman yelled, neighbors approached the pair, and the man ran away. Despite Coon's assurances that the incident was an isolated issue, one neighbor is calling for the bar to be shut down, citing frequent police calls and unruly crowds over the years.
In the days following Mitchell's arrest, the bar removed all traces of Lingerie Night from its Facebook page, including multiple photos of bartenders dressed in lingerie. Coon said she did so in an effort to protect her employees. "All the content has been removed for the safety of our bartenders, not to deny or to hide Lingerie Night," Coon said.

"We are no longer having Lingerie Night, and that's really all there is to say about it." In the four years Eager Beaver Bar has operated Coon said there haven't been any incidents as serious as the attempted kidnapping. "This was a one-time incident of a man who used poor judgment," she said. During an appearance in Outagamie County court last week, Mitchell's bond was set at $50,000. He is charged with attempted kidnapping, in addition to soliciting prostitution in a separate incident. If convicted, he faces more than 20 years in prison. Mitchell is scheduled to return to court on July 24th.

Chase quickly ended when man fleeing officers following traffic stop ran into police academy

A man who fled from a traffic stop in Mississippi unknowingly ran into a building where police academy training was in session.
Roger Wayne Beasley Jr., 30, apparently was so focused on getting away that he didn't notice marked cars parked outside the Harrison County Law Enforcement Training Academy building, Police Chief John Miller said.
An officer had recognized Beasley driving a vehicle on Wednesday and knew he didn't have a licence, Miller said. Beasley jumped out of his vehicle and ran off, so an officer jumped out of his car and ran after him. "He got to the door and was about to go through," Miller said.
He was outnumbered. Police arrested Beasley on charges of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, resisting arrest, no driver's license, careless driving, improper lane change, resisting arrest and failure to comply. Beasley was released from the Harrison County jail on bonds that total $51,670.

Armed bandits demand villagers supply them with 35 buckets of water a day or face death

Armed bandits are threatening villagers in northern India with death unless they deliver 35 buckets of water each day. Water in the area is scarce thanks to an ongoing drought and a poor supply. So far, 28 villages have been obeying the order, taking turns to deliver what the bandits are calling a daily "water tax," police said.
"Water itself is very scarce in this region. Villagers can hardly meet their demand," officer Suresh Kumar Singh said from Banda, a city on the southern border of Uttar Pradesh. The area is cut off from supply lines, leaving the bandits reliant on surrounding villages. Since 2007, it has been starved for rain, with the yearly monsoon bringing only half the usual number of 52 rainy days a year. "A few bandits are still active in the ravines," Mr Singh said. "They ask for water, food and shelter from the villages."
Afraid of the bandits, who are from the Balkhariya gang, villagers last Wednesday began hauling water - sometimes four kilometres (2.5 miles) - into the unruly region where the gang is believed to have hideouts, said Bagwat Prasad, from the local charity group that works on water and sanitation issues. "Any request from Balkhariya gang members is an order," Mr Prasad said. "No one can dare to say no." Though the number of bandits has declined drastically in recent decades, India's bandit tradition, which began more than 800 years ago, has continued in the hard-to-reach forests and mountains of the Bundelkhand region.
But while the bandits were once admired as caste warlords with a touch of Robin Hood about them, as they fought to protest feudal orders or to avenge personal wrongs, today's bandits are considered mostly opportunistic thugs seeking personal wealth and power. Small lakes and streams have dried up, and the bandits are reluctant to risk running into police by leaving the area to fetch water supplies. India has set a Rs.252,000 reward (£2,500, $4,200) for information leading to the gang leader's arrest on charges of murder, looting and kidnapping.



Spillage of fruit preserves caused traffic jam

Drivers in western Sweden were stuck in a jam after a van shed its load of preserves and juices which led to major traffic problems. The sticky situation occurred on the E45 outside Sunne at around midday on Tuesday. A police spokesperson said the delivery van had got into difficulty and started to shed all manner of different items.
"There was a lot of jam and juices which went down the drain," Tommy Lindh, spokesperson for the Värmland police said. The drama unfolded when the door of the delivery van opened and a pallet, loaded with breakfast favourites, was thrown out onto the road.
Predictably, it led to a traffic jam with a section of the road being sealed off so a clean-up operation of broken glass and sticky substances could be attended to. Emergency services were dispatched and firefighters ensured that the traffic backlog could be unstuck.
Firefighter Fredrik Persson, from Sunne emergency services said: "It's a mixed compote, common pancake jam. We have a stretch of 70 - 100 metres that is just full of jam." Nobody was hurt in the incident with drivers urged to take an alternative route while the clean-up continued. Traffic got back underway at 2pm

Teenager Gets 232 Teeth Pulled

Seventeen-year-old Ashiq Gavai of Buldhana, India, suffered a growth and pain in his jaw, but local doctors could not diagnose the problem. Fearing cancer, his father took him to J J Hospital in Mumbai, where doctors diagnosed Gavai with composite odontoma, a tumor in the part of the jaw that produces teeth.
Ashiq was diagnosed with a condition called composite odontoma or a benign tumour of the tooth, which can cause difficulties in eating, swallowing, and lead to a grotesque swelling of the face, though it is not life-threatening.

"The condition has been known to affect the upper jaw and a maximum of 25 teeth have been extracted from the tumour. But in Ashiq's case, the tumour was found deep in the lower jaw and we removed more than 232 teeth," Dr Sunanda Dhiware, head of the J J Dental Department, said.

Ateam of two main surgeons and two assisting surgeons performed an intra-oral procedure as they tried to remove every bit of the tumour. "While a few teeth were loose, others were in clumps which made it difficult to count. The tumour was an abnormal growth of the second molar which did not come out. It was also pressing on the wisdom tooth which we had to remove," Dhiware said.
Gavai was left with only 28 normal teeth, but will require followup surgery to repair the hole in his jaw. The hospital is going to forward the case to the Guinness Book of World Records for the most teeth extracted from one person. See more pictures here.

You Have To Play This 1,600-Year-Old Viking War Game

Especially if you’re a diplomat, soldier or spy, says one ex-spook

Viking warriors storm into the torch-lit camp of a rival clan. Outnumbered, the ambushed Norsemen are far from their boats. Their one goal: flee to a nearby castle while keeping their king alive.
At first glance, Hnefatafl (prounounced “nef-ah-tah-fel”) might just look like a knock-off version of chess with Norse helms and impressive beards, but the game is at least 600 years older—already well-known by 400 A.D.—and is perhaps a lot more relevant to the conflicts of the 21st century.
“I love the asymmetry in this game. To win in this game, you absolutely have to think like your opponent,” emails Kristan Wheaton, a former Army foreign area officer and ex-analyst at U.S. European Command’s Intelligence Directorate. “Geography, force structure, force size and objectives are different for the two sides. If you can’t think like your opponent, you can’t win. I don’t know of a better analogy for post-Cold War conflict.”
The game is similar to chess, but with several important differences. Instead of two identical and equal opponents facing each other, Hnefatafl is a game where one side is surrounded and outnumbered—like a Viking war party caught in an ambush.
The game might seem unbalanced. The attacking black player has 24 total pieces—known as “hunns”—to white’s meager and surrounded 12 hunns. But white has several advantages.
White has an additional unique unit, a king, which must be surrounded on four horizontal sides to be captured. Hunns require being surrounded on two sides, and that’s pretty hard by itself. White’s goal is also simple: move the king to one of four corner squares known as “castles.” Black’s goal is to stop them.
Other rules? All pieces move like chess rooks. Black makes the first move. Black cannot occupy a castle, which would end the game in short order. But black can block off several castles by moving quickly, forming the equivalent of a medieval shield wall.
“If the king goes as hard as he can as early as he can for the corner and the other side is not really on its toes, the non-king side typically loses in just a few turns,” adds Wheaton, who now teaches intelligence studies at Mercyhurst University. “Among experienced players, however, this rarely happens.”

Hnefatafl starting positions with four corner castles.

If lines are solid, they have to be flanked. Thus, it’s in black’s interest to force a symmetrical battle to force a likely win. If white can avoid engaging in a battle on black’s terms, then white’s chances of winning improve.
This was especially true at the time period this game was played, when battles were largely skirmishes and sieges, and before heavy cavalry arrived on the scene. Two warring sides would sit opposite each other, hacking away until the loser was either exhausted or flanked.
“Hnefatafl seems to teach a number of lessons to young Viking warriors,” Wheaton explains. “For example, it takes two soldiers to ‘kill’ an enemy (elementary battle tactics?), the king is the most important piece on the board (reinforcing the social order?), and, surrounded and cut off, it is easier (in novice games) for the smaller force to win (morale booster?). Someone analyzing the Vikings might learn a good bit about how they fight and what they value (and what they fear) by playing this game.”
That’s how, Wheaton notes, the game gives insight for generals, diplomats and spies tasked with fighting, besting—or at least—understanding what an enemy or rival thinks.
Hnefatafl is a Viking’s worst case scenario: Outnumbered, cut off from their boats—and on the verge of being massacred. Understanding the game played by Viking war parties on the way to raid England of its booty meant understanding something about the way the Vikings saw themselves. The total time spent playing the game may have been more than any individual warrior spent sacking the Anglo-Saxons, for instance.
“I think the games cultures play can help intelligence professionals understand something about the way cultures think about strategy. Much of the language of strategy gets re-cast as the language of the game,” Wheaton adds.
“There is no U.S. military officer who would not know what his or her boss meant if the boss said, ‘we are going to do an end-run on them’ and no U.S. official would misunderstand ‘It’s fourth and 10 and we have to punt.’ These kinds of games produce a common strategic language that cuts across bureaucratic lines. The military and the State Department may not understand each other but they both understand American football.”
More than that, understanding the games people play might help you learn more about how they operate.
Maybe Wheaton is overthinking it … or maybe not. “[Barack Obama’s] got the personality of a sniper,” journalist Michael Lewis said after watching one of Obama’s pick-up basketball games for a Vanity Fair profile. A commentary on drones, perhaps? George W. Bush used his co-ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team to boost his business credentials during his first presidential campaign. And what about Vladimir Putin? He has a black belt in judo.
“I don’t want to make more of this than it deserves,” Wheaton wrote, “but it seems logical to me, if I am very interested in a senior leader of a foreign country, to ask, ‘What game does he like to play?’”

12 Old Words That Survived By Getting Fossilized In Idioms

English has changed a lot in the last several hundred years, and there are many words once used that we would no longer recognize today. For whatever reason, words were pronounced differently, or they became obsolete.
There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize them because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries. Here are 12 lucky words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms.

What Is Genius and Where Does It Come From?

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12 Diseases That Just Won't Quit

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Daily Comic Relief


The Amazing Tree Of 40 Fruits

An old New York state orchard was about to be left for dead in 2008, an orchard that grows varieties of stone fruit over 200 years old, when artist Sam Van Aiken stepped in and took over the lease, saving many fruit varieties no longer commercially available.
Sam now grows totally magical trees that he calls the Trees of 40 Fruit, applying artistic ideas and some serious grafting skills to create a tree that "grows over forty different types of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds."
His fascinating take on tree hybridization as living sculpture has produced multiple hybrid trees, and Sam even gave a TED talk about his project, so why are we seeing a photoshopped image of the Tree of 40 Fruits?
Because it could take them decades to grow to that size, so at the moment his magic trees look more like this:

Elephants Surround Baby So It Doesn't Get Swept away by the River

A river runs through the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand. When it's time for this baby elephant to take a bath, all the nannies escort him into the river. They form a wall with their bodies so that he can wash and play without any worry of being swept away by the fast current.
As we've seen before, elephants take care of kids in their herd, even if the kids aren't their own children.

George Harrison memorial tree killed by beetles

A pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, in memory of George Harrison is to be replanted because the original tree died as the result of a beetle infestation.
The sapling was planted, unobtrusively, near the observatory with a small plaque at the base to commemorate the former Beatle, who died in 2001, because he spent his final days in Los Angeles and because he was an avid gardener for much of his adult life.
The memorial tree in Griffith Park had grown to more than 10 feet tall, but Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge said the tree beetle onslaught was too much for the tree.
Trees in Griffith Park have occasionally been the victims of bark beetles and ladybug beetles, among other tree-unfriendly creatures.

Swarm Of Flies Shows Up On Weather Radar

Once a year, the bugs emerge - millions of them. Every summer, they swarm en masse around the banks of the Mississippi River. It's mating season for mayflies. There are so many of them, in fact, that they can show up on weather radar.
This radar picture from the evening of July 20 shows clouds of mayflies leaving the Upper Mississippi River in Wisconsin and taking to the air to breed.

Animal Pictures