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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Daily Drift

Get it correct people ..!
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Today in History

1676 Indian chief King Philip, also known as Metacom, is killed by English soldiers, ending the war between Indians and colonists.
1862 Mistakenly believing the Confederate Army to be in retreat, Union General John Pope attacks, beginning the Battle of Groveten. Both sides sustain heavy casualties.
1914 Three German cruisers are sunk by ships of the Royal Navy in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, the first major naval battle of World War I.
1938 The first degree given to a ventriloquist's dummy is awarded to Charlie McCarthy–Edgar Bergen's wooden partner. The honorary degree, "Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comeback," is presented on radio by Ralph Dennis, the dean of the School of Speech at Northwestern University.
1941 The German U-boat U-570 is captured by the British and renamed Graph
1944 German forces in Toulon and Marseilles, France, surrender to the Allies.
1945 Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung arrives in Chunking to confer with Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek in a futile effort to avert civil war.
1963 One of the largest demonstrations in the history of the United States, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, takes place and reaches its climax at the base of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his "I have a dream" speech.
1965 The Viet Cong are routed in the Mekong Delta by U.S. forces, with more than 50 killed.
1968 Clash between police and anti-war demonstrators during Democratic Party's National Convention in Chicago.
1979 Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb explodes under bandstand in Brussels' Great Market as British Army musicians prepare for a performance; four British soldiers wounded.
1981 John Hinckley Jr. pleads innocent to attempting to assassinate Pres. Ronald Reagan.
1982 First Gay Games held, in San Francisco.
1983 Israeli's prime minister Menachem Begin announces his resignation.
1986 Bolivian president Victor Paz Estenssoro declares a state of siege and uses troops and tanks to halt a march by 10,000 striking tin miners.
1986 US Navy officer Jerry A. Whitworth given 365-year prison term for spying for USSR.
1993 Two hundred twenty-three die when a dam breaks at Qinghai (Kokonor), in northwest China.
2003 Power blackout affects half-million people in southeast England and halts 60% of London's underground trains.
2005 Hurricane Katrina reaches Category 5 strength; Louisiana Superdome opened as a "refuge of last resort" in New Orleans.
2012 US repugican coven nominates Mitt Romney as the cabal's presidential candidate.

Non Sequitur


Deported Children Being Killed After Being Sent Back

It's bad enough when 18-year-olds get executed and infants get flash-bang grenaded. Do we as a country have to knowingly send children to their death as well?  Apparently so.
Between five and ten migrant children have been killed since February after the United States deported them back to Honduras, a morgue director told the Los Angeles Times.
San Pedro Sula morgue director Hector Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that his morgue has taken in 42 dead children since February. According to an interview with relatives by the LA Times, one teenager was shot dead hours after getting deported..

As repugicans Attack Obama’s Foreign Policy, the American Legion Cheers The President

President Obama addresses American Legion 2014
Contrary to what repugicans are trying to sell, President Obama’s foreign policy drew cheers as he addressed the American Legion’s 96th convention in Charlotte.
President Obama said,
Now, sustaining our leadership, keeping America strong and secure, means we have to use our power wisely. History teaches us of the dangers of overreaching, and spreading ourselves too thin, and trying to go it alone without international support, or rushing into military adventures without thinking through the consequences. And nobody knows this better than our veterans and our families — our veteran families, because you’re the ones who bear the wages of war. You’re the ones who carry the scars. You know that we should never send America’s sons and daughters into harm’s way unless it is absolutely necessary and we have a plan, and we are resourcing it and prepared to see it through. (Applause.) You know the United States has to lead with strength and confidence and wisdom.

And that’s why, after incredible sacrifice by so many of our men and women in uniform, we removed more than 140,000 troops from Iraq and welcomed those troops home. It was the right thing to do. It’s why we refocused our efforts in Afghanistan and went after al Qaeda’s leadership in the tribal regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, driving the Taliban out of its strongholds, and training Afghan forces, which are now in the lead for their own security. In just four months, we will complete our combat mission in Afghanistan and America’s longest war will come to a responsible end. And we honor every American who served to make this progress possible — (applause) — every single one, especially the more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan to keep us safe.

And now, as Afghans continue to work towards the first democratic transfer of power in their history, Afghan leaders need to make the hard compromises that are necessary to give the Afghan people a future of security and progress. And as we go forward, we’ll continue to partner with Afghans so their country can never again be used to launch attacks against the United States. (Applause.)
Now, as I’ve always made clear, the blows we’ve struck against al Qaeda’s leadership don’t mean the end to the terrorist threat. Al Qaeda affiliates still target our homeland — we’ve seen that in Yemen. Other extremists threaten our citizens abroad, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq and Syria. As Commander-in-Chief, the security of the American people is my highest priority, and that’s why, with the brutal terrorist group ISIL advancing in Iraq, I have authorized targeted strikes to protect our diplomats and military advisors who are there. (Applause.)
And let me say it again: American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq. I will not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq. Because ultimately, it is up to the Iraqis to bridge their differences and secure themselves. (Applause.) The limited strikes we’re conducting have been necessary to protect our people, and have helped Iraqi forces begin to push back these terrorists. We’ve also been able to rescue thousands of men and women and children who were trapped on a mountain. And our airdrops of food and water and medicine show American leadership at our best. And we salute the brave pilots and crews who are making us proud in the skies of Iraq every single day. (Applause.)

And more broadly, the crisis in Iraq underscores how we have to meet today’s evolving terrorist threat. The answer is not to send in large-scale military deployments that overstretch our military, and lead for us occupying countries for a long period of time, and end up feeding extremism. Rather, our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader strategy to protect our people and support our partners to take the fight to ISIL.
The reception that the president received at the American Legion is interesting when contrasted with the repugican reaction to Obama’s foreign policy. The people who know the horrors of war most intimately are the ones who are supporting a policy of not sending ground troops back to Iraq.
There is a reason why the president’s pledge not to send ground troops back in draws applause from each audience that it is delivered to. The American people are tired of war, specifically war in the Middle East. The repugicans and their media lapdogs have been labeling President Obama’s foreign policy a failure, but judged by the criteria of what the majority of Americans say they want, it has been a success. Most people wanted the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is exactly what Obama has done.
The repugican definition of foreign policy success is a continuation of the shrub’s all war all of the time view of the world. The repugicans are still trying to vindicate the invasion of Iraq. Their claim of Obama foreign policy failure is flavored with a refusal to admit their own failures and defeats.
It is telling that those who have a personal understanding of war cheered President Obama’s foreign policy.

John Boehner’s Lawsuit Against Obama Will Cost Taxpayers $500/Hour In Attorney Fees

boehner-faceTaxpayers should be outraged. It was revealed that John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama will cost the American people $500 an hour in attorney fees.
According to Frank Thorp of NBC News, the contract for the law firm that Boehner hired to represent the House in his lawsuit against President Obama will cost taxpayers $500/hour.
Thorp tweeted:
Contract for BakerHostetler to handle repugican lawsuit vs. Pres Obama "agrees to pay...at a blended rate of $500 per hour for...attorney time."
Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel ripped Boehner in a statement, “This outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars is yet another reminder of House repugicans’ misguided priorities. Only in John Boehner’s world does it make sense to pay lawyers $500 per hour to work on a partisan lawsuit while refusing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for hardworking Americans trying to feed their families.”
This is an absurd waste of money. House repugicans have been blocking an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed since January because they claim that it is too expensive, but the Speaker is spending more on one hour of legal representation that it would cost in many parts of the country to give an unemployed American their benefits back for a week.
The cost of Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama has been a closely guarded secret. House repugicans have repeatedly refused to say how much the lawsuit will cost in total, but it is estimated that it will add up to millions of dollars. People need to remember that this frivolous lawsuit represents everything that House Repugicans stand for.
The lawsuit will be thrown out of court, but before it is, it will cost taxpayers millions of dollars that could have been used to create jobs, help veterans, or restore benefits to the unemployed. John Boehner is interested in doing what the American people want. His only purpose is to waste taxpayer money with gimmicks that he hopes will keep House repugicans in power.

A Koch Brother Does Damage Control As The American People Reject Their Agenda

Photo Credit: Getty Images
The AP interviewed one of the lesser known Koch brothers, William, in what seems to be an attempt to soften the public image of the family whom the AP tells us in their image description are “demonized” by Democrats.
To wit, the AP reported that brother William is a little confused by his brothers’ political involvement, “I wonder a little bit about the high profile they’ve (David and Charles ) taken but admire them for their passionate beliefs and their putting their money where their mouths are.”
William called his brother Charles a born-again Libertarian, “He’s a born-again libertarian or a born-again wingnut and sometimes born-agains take positions that are a bit extreme.”
Also, not everyone in the Koch family is a meanie. The are not all crazy wingnuts who hate everyone! Please don’t hate Koch Industries.
William told the AP, “We’re all branded as wingnut extremists or religio-wingnuts and I know my brother David and particularly I don’t care if two guys want to get married or two women want to get married. So what? And so I don’t think we have what you’d call the bible-belt attitudes that are thrown onto wingnuts. … Some of my brothers are socially liberal.”
That’s a super nice story and it sorta makes you feel guilty for wanting to boycott Koch industries because not everyone in their family hates everyone in America. But here’s the thing.
Anecdote is not the plural of data, as my university professors liked to remind us.
So, these are lovely, heart-warming stories about a diverse family, but what does Koch Industries spend its money on? Why do Democrats “demonize” the Koch brothers? What are the actual facts, aside from heart-warming stories?
To demonize means to “portray as wicked and threatening”. Portray implies it’s not accurate. And yet, the Koch brothers have been funneling untold numbers of dark dollars in politics with the express desire to help big industry make more money at the expense and health of real Americans.
Democrats aren’t “demonizing” the Koch brothers. They did that themselves. And William might be a super nice guy. I bet he even has some gay friends! But this does not change the fact that Koch brothers are harming people in Texas. Or that Koch Industries won the dubious award of being the 10th top polluter in 2010.
And that doesn’t include their oil deregulation pushes or the fact that they admitted to covering up environmental violations at their refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. Want to know why the Kochs hate regulation so much and thus pour millions into buying politicians via a phony grassroots movement called the tea party?
Koch will pay a total of $20 million dollars: $10 million in criminal fines and $10 million for special projects to improve the environment in Corpus Christi – a record amount imposed in an environmental prosecution. The plea agreement, filed today in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi, also requires that Koch successfully complete a five-year term of probation and adhere to a strict new environmental compliance program.
Federal grand juries returned an indictment against the company in September 2000 and a superceding indictment in January 2001, and a jury trial on the federal charges was scheduled to begin today in Corpus Christi. The company was charged with criminal violations of the Clean Air Act as well as conspiracy and making false statements to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.
In 2011, as the Koch brothers were carefully repairing their recently outed political interference and thus damaged reputation, Bloomberg blew their efforts to pieces:
Bloomberg revealed the deaths, bribes, felony charges, envelopes stuffed with cash, criminal violations, deliberate poisoning of the air with cancerous smoke, and hundreds of millions of fines behind the Koch Brothers. They revealed that employees are taught to cheat and steal under “The Koch Method.” Oh, and the Kochs sold millions of dollars in petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country recognized for sponsoring terrorism but also one of three countries in the shrub identified “Axis of Evil.”
Then Politico took a stab at explaining the way the Koch money trickled down, “POLITICO’s analysis of disclosures filed with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission found that the large groups spend big bucks on salaries, like the $500,000 that FreedomWorks paid its chairman, Dick Armey, endorsements from radio hacks like Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, and speaking fees to movement heroes like Sarah Palin and Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, not to mention millions more on consultants and ad buys.”
Demonizing them? No. The Koch money spent and spends big to demonize anyone who tries to stand up for their cancer victims, their unmitigated greed, and their dark, dirty political influence over the puppets they buy in Congress and in Governors’ mansions around the country (here’s looking at you, Scott Walker). But the Kochs won’t come out and own their ugly demonizing of citizens. No, they pay willing propaganda pushers like Glenn Beck to do it for them.
The Kochs hire people to demonize Americans who need affordable healthcare while they knowingly pump poisonous gas into the lungs of children.
William Koch may be a very nice man. But the way Koch Industries and his brothers spend their money is not nice at all. And sorry, but they don’t get to play the victims. What is really sad is that they and the AP see “Democrats” as the demonizers, when in fact any politician worth an ounce of integrity should not be pushing a Koch agenda. Allegedly, they work for the people. It is now “demonizing” to call out a failure to work for the people, and only Democrats have the courage and the integrity to do so? Oh, okay then. I’m sure the Democratic Party will be pleased to accept that honor.
Money buys almost anything in politics. Cynical folks say the Democrats and the repugicans are the same. But only repugicans work actively against things that disclose dirty money in politics, and they do that for a reason.

Legroom Spat Leads to Plane Diversion

A fight over legroom territory led to a unscheduled landing for a United Airlines flight. The Knee Defender is a set of clamps you can take on an airplane to disable the reclining ability of the seat in front of you. Many airlines prohibit them, including United. On Sunday, the use of the device led to an unscheduled landing. The flight from Newark to Denver diverted to Chicago, where the two passengers were put off the flight.
The fight started when the male passenger, seated in a middle seat of row 12, used the Knee Defender to stop the woman in front of him from reclining while he was on his laptop, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak.

A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, the official says. That's when United decided to land in Chicago. The two passengers were not allowed to continue to Denver.

Both passengers were sitting in United's Economy Plus section, the part of the plane that has four more inches of legroom than the rest of coach.
TSA officials and Chicago police talked to the fighting passengers and declined to arrest either one. The flight continued to Denver, where it arrived an hour and 38 minutes late, minus two passengers.

The 10 Most-Visited Countries In The World

We all know that Paris is a perennially popular tourist destination, but new data confirms that the city, is, in fact one of the most-visited destinations in the world. The World Tourism Organization just came out with new data on the most visited tourism destinations in the world in 2013, and France took the top spot.

Prescription drug overdose deaths lower in states with legal medical marijuana

Hopkins Study: Prescription drug overdose deaths lower in states with legal medical marijuana

In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana […]


Sleep drunkenness, more properly called confusional arousal, involves confusion or inappropriate behavior during or after waking from sleep, often with no memory of the experience. 

Things You Think Are Scientific Facts That Actually Aren't

Brain Usage  

  • It's a popular idea that humans only utilize 10 percent of their brains. The idea of unlocking the other 90 percent has spawned countless fictional creations, but the main point is they're all fictional.
  • There are times when humans only use a small percentage of their brain, such as when they sleep. However, in everyday life, they use all of it.
  • What Lies Beneath Stonehenge?

    In the September issue of Smithsonian magazine, we see how archaeologists can explore underground without digging it up. Vince Gaffney heads a project that has given us a sort of three-dimensional map of what’s underneath the land surrounding the most mysterious place in Britain: Stonehenge.
    Gaffney’s latest research effort, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, is a four-year collaboration between a British team and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria that has produced the first detailed underground survey of the area surrounding Stonehenge, totaling more than four square miles. The results are astonishing. The researchers have found buried evidence of more than 15 previously unknown or poorly understood late Neolithic monuments: henges, barrows, segmented ditches, pits. To Gaffney, these findings suggest a scale of activity around Stonehenge far beyond what was previously suspected.
    Read about what they found, and see plenty of pictures and graphics to explain the project at Smithsonian.

    World record price for a Navajo blanket

     Only about 100 of these original "first-phase" chief's blankets are thought to exist.
    Details at The Telegraph.  At the risk of throwing a wet blanket on a feel-good story, one has to wonder whether his ancestor in the 1860s spent four years' salary to purchase the blanket, as is postulated in the video.



    Serpent Mound

    In his column for The Columbus Dispatch, Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archaeology at the Ohio History Connection, describes his recent research into what historic American Indian tribes of the eastern Woodlands told arriving European Americans about the massive earthworks of North America. Many of these monuments are more than 2,000 years old. Lepper found that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, indigenous peoples living in the region had different ideas about how and why the monumental structures had been built. “Oral traditions simply cannot be passed down reliably over that span of time. Moreover, the centuries of disease, warfare, forced migrations and acculturation that followed the arrival of Europeans in America effectively erased much traditional knowledge that might otherwise have been preserved,” he writes. Lepper adds, however, that American-Indian oral traditions offer a source for ideas about the purpose and meaning of the sites that can be tested with archaeological data.

    A Massive Acid Spill in Mexico Has Turned This River Red and Toxic

    In this Aug. 12, 2014 photo, the contaminated Sonora river makes its way through the hills near the town of Mazocahui, in the northern state of Sonora, Mexico. Eighty-eight schools in Sonora state did not open Monday along with the rest of the country because of the danger of water contaminated by the spill of 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of acids from a copper mine into this and another river in the region. (AP Photo/El Imparcial, Julian Ortega)
    More than 10 million gallons of sulfuric acid from one of the world’s largest copper mines spilled into two major rivers—the Sonora and the Bacanuchi—in northern Mexico earlier this month, cutting the water supply of 20,000 people and closing 88 schools. Some locals even fear eating food.
    “If [a cow is killed], we don’t know if we can eat it,” housekeeper and farm laborer Ramona Yesenia said. “They say if the [cattle] drink just a little water [from the rivers], they get infected.”
    Civil defense official Carlos Arias told The Associated Press that the spill in Sonora, Mexico, on Aug. 7 was caused by defects in new ponds that hold the acids used to filter metal. Residents discovered the reddened water, usually clear this time of year, the next day. Grupo Mexico, which operates the Buenavista mine, hadn’t told authorities. 
    Mine operators alerted the Attorney General for Environmental Protection almost a full day after the leak, which was within the 24-hour filing requirement, according to Arturo Rodriguez, the agency’s head of industrial inspection. He said that careless supervision, rains, and construction errors seem to have resulted in the spill—noting that operators should have discovered the leak before a huge amount of sulfuric acid flowed into the rivers. Arias said the overflow has arsenic and other pollutants above normal levels.
    Local Jesus Sabori told AFP that the water has become “more and more red every day… It was only [Aug. 11] that they told us to keep our animals away.”
    “We’re angry because they didn’t take the time to tell us either that the spill had happened or that they cutting off our water,” said resident Israel Duran.
    In this Aug. 14, 2014 photo, the contaminated Sonora …
    In this photo, the contaminated Sonora river makes its way near the town of Ures …
    The mine’s executives simply blame “abnormal rains” for causing the acid to spill over from its tanks. They also claim to have notified the government by email, insisting that the acid is “not toxic in itself.”
    Grupo Mexico’s international relations vice president, Juan Rebolledo, told a local radio station, “There’s no problem nor any serious consequence for the population, as long as we take adequate precautions and the company pours lime into the river, as it is currently doing.”
    Lime, or calcium, will deacidify the Sonora and Bacanuchi rivers. “What you can’t get rid of are the heavy metals,” said Arias.
    So far no serious injuries have been reported, but according to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, short-term exposure to sulfuric acid may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Direct contact with skin and eyes will cause severe burns, and inhaling the vapor may result in tooth erosion, sore mouth, and trouble breathing. Arsenic can cause cancer.
    The Buenavista copper mine, which employs 9,000 people, hasn’t announced any plans to cancel or delay an upcoming expansion. By 2016, its output is expected to increase from 200,000 tons of copper to 510,000 tons.
    Duran said, “Even if [the mine] creates jobs, it would be better if they close it if they’re going to behave like this every time something happens.”

    Sequoias and Climate Change

    Will sequoias still be around as California's climate shifts under the influence of global warming? 

    Earthquake Threat in Yellowstone Region Bigger Than First Thought

    In a new report that's sure to eventually set your Facebook feed all aflutter with fresh volcanically-charged paranoia, scientists say that the risk for damaging earthquakes in the Yellowstone region is greater than originally thought.
    According to the United States Geological Survey, the region-already one of the most seismically hazardous areas in the nation (Yellowstone is a gigantic volcano, remember)-has shown a relative increase in earthquake hazards since the last USGS hazard report in 2006.
    It's important to note that earthquakes in the region are more than just a threat to, say, Old Faithful-a major quake could cause damage over an area stretching from Montana to Utah.
    University of Utah geophysicist Bob Smith told the Associated Press that the overall net increase since 2006 isn't exactly huge-5 to 10 percent of peak acceleration-but the stakes in the region in terms of life and property are getting higher.

    Quake vs. Volcano

    Both can cause widespread human and ecological devastation. But picking a winner in a destruction derby is a tough call.

    Daily Comic Relief


    What is unusual about this penny?

    It's a Lincoln head cent, issued in 1909 on the centennial of Lincoln's birth, and the first in a long series of gazillions of similar pennies differing only in date and mint marks.
    But there is something about this penny that no other penny on earth shares.  Answer below the fold... But there is something about this penny that no other penny on earth shares.  Answer below the fold...
    It's not on earth.  It's on Mars.  Embedded in the framework of the Mars Curiosity rover, it has been used to calibrate the optical elements.
    Image cropped from the original at Frankfurter Allgemeine, where there are additional pix of the aging of Curiosity.

    "Music" heard on the back side of the moon

    During a podcast of No Such Thing as a Fish, the elves mentioned in passing a "symphony" heard by astronauts on the far side of the moon.  Today I found the following at Above Top Secret:
    Most of us Conspiracy Researchers will recall the case of Apollo 10 Astronauts : Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan and John Young discussing the “outer-spacey” music they head while on the far side of the moon. This music happened during the LOS (loss of signal) period that occurred while the communications between themselves and mission control were temporarily unavailable due to their position behind the moon. Gene Cernan is the first to hear the music (in the LM) and the transcripts shows that he radios John Young in the CSM to confirm he is hearing the same thing. John young then replies “Yea, I got it too…….and see who was outside?” Not only does JY confirm he hears it, but look at his following statement, “and see who is outside” ! Now who could be “outside” the space vessels?! More importantly John Young is inferring that there may be a connection between the “music” and “who is outside” of their crafts. After a few minutes of dialogue regarding the mission Gene Cernan brings up the topic again, “boy, that sure is strange music” in which John Young replies “ Were going to have to find out about that. Nobody will Believe us.”

    During their next orbit of the dark side the “music” RETURNS. Addressing Tom Stafford this time Gene Cernan asks “You hear music Tom? That crazy whistling?” In which Tom Stafford replies “I can hear it.” Gene replies “that’s really weird” and Tom replies “it is.” Further on Gene AGAIN brings up the subject by stating “Listen to eerie music”. They even continue random dialogue regarding the music and how eerie and weird it was, and that nobody is going to believe them. 
    More at the link, where you can access Apollo 10 transcripts and experiences by other astronauts.  Here is one possible explanation:
    There hasn't ever really been an "official" explanation of these sounds (described as whistling and buzz-saw sounds). But most scientists offer that it could be attributed to either radio interference in the lander or perhaps an artifact of the Sun's solar wind.
    Since the most prominent example of this sound was when the Apollo 15 astronauts were on the far side of the Moon, it could be suggested that the Moon's gravity was gravitationally focusing the Sun's wind (a mix of high energy charged particles) onto the capsule. That interaction would created electromagnetic distortions, which could produce sounds inside the capsule.

    The Sun Is Slowly Killing Us

    You can run, but you can't hide: We're all getting hit with ultraviolet rays each time we go outdoors -- whether in clouds or sunshine. Trace explains what these killer rays do to our skin.

    Weird Cell-Shaped Structure Discovered In Mars Meteorite

    by Mike Wall
    Scientists have found a strange structure resembling a microbial cell inside a Martian meteorite, but they're not claiming that it's evidence of Red Planet life.
    The researchers discovered the microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911. While the structure's appearance is intriguing, it most likely formed as a result of geological rather than biological processes, team members said.
    Transmitted light photomicrograph of an oval structure (center) in the Mars meteorite known as Nakhla. There is no evidence that the ovoid is a sign of Martian life, researchers say.
    "The consideration of possible biotic scenarios for the origin of the ovoid structure in Nakhla currently lacks any sort of compelling evidence," the scientists write in a new study published this month in the journal Astrobiology. "Therefore, based on the available data that we have obtained on the nature of this conspicuous ovoid structure in Nakhla, we conclude that the most reasonable explanation for its origin is that it formed through abiotic processes."
    A cell-like structure
    The hollow ovoid is about 80 microns long by 60 microns wide, researchers said — far larger than most terrestrial bacteria but in the normal size range for eukaryotic Earth microbes (single-celled organisms that possess nuclei and other membrane-bound interior "organelles"). The study team is confident that the object is native to the sample and not the result of terrestrial contamination.
    The scientists studied the structure using a number of different techniques, including electron microscopy, X-ray analysis and mass spectrometry. This work revealed that the ovoid is composed of iron-rich clay and contains a number of other minerals.
    The researchers run through a number of possible formation scenarios in the new study, eventually concluding that the ovoid most likely formed when materials partially filled in a pre-existing vesicle — a vapor bubble, for example — in the rock.
    But this supposition doesn't rule out the possibility that Martian lifeforms had something to do with the structure, team members said.
    "Despite the extremely biomorphic overall shape of the ovoid, it is highly unlikely that it itself was an organism," said lead author Elias Chatzitheodoridis, of the National Technical University of Athens in Greece.
    "However, it could have been formed directly by micro-organisms, or it could trap organic material that came from elsewhere," Chatzitheodoridis told Space.com via email. "That the ovoid is hollow means that there is enough space to accommodate colonies of microorganisms."
    Making a firm link to Mars life would require further study and further discoveries, he added.
    "We would be happy if we could have found more than one ovoid, with exactly the same texture both in the micro and the nanoscale," Chatzitheodoridis said. "However, we require to open up enough sample in a very careful way. Compelling evidence, though, would be if we could really find many of the same, clearly in a form of a colony, together with chemical and mineralogical biosignatures that are common for terrestrial microbes."
    Habitable Martian environments?
    Nakhla is a well-studied meteorite — scientists have spotted possible signs of Mars life within it before —and previous research has mapped out its history in some detail. Nakhla's parent rock apparently crystallized about 1.3 billion years ago, Chatzitheodoridis and his colleagues write in the new study, then experienced two shock events that heated it up considerably.
    The first of these shocks likely occurred around 910 million years ago and the second 620 million years ago. This latter event, which was triggered by a nearby meteorite strike on Mars, apparently included the flow of hot water through Nakhla's parent outcrop, the authors write. Finally, about 10 million years ago, another impact blasted Nakhla free of Mars, sending it on a looping trip through space that ended with its arrival at Earth in 1911.
    Whether or not the Nakhla ovoid has some connection to Martian life, study of the meteorite can help researchers better understand the Red Planet's past (and, perhaps, present) potential to support life, Chatzitheodoridis said.
    Martian meteorites contain "important information, and latest work has shown that now one has to look more carefully at them and in finer detail," he told Space.com.
    "In our case, it is such work that allowed us to see from a small volume of sample a big story, i.e., that hydrothermal waters have actually acted also in the latest periods of Martian history, even if they were caused by a bolide impact, and that they were capable of initiating a number of complicated processes that resulted in the formation of niche environments which can sustain life, if life [ever] emerged on the planet," Chatzitheodoridis added.

    Saturn's Amazing Six-Sided Hurricane

    At four times the size of our pale blue dot, there is a storm raging over Saturn's north pole - and it is six-sided. That's right - a hexagonal hurricane. How did this geometric shape come to be, what caused it?

    Rare blue lobster caught off Maine coast

    Rare blue lobster caught off Maine coast
    This Aug. 23, 2014, photo provided by Meghan LaPlante …A Maine lobsterman says he and his 14-year-old daughter caught a one-in-two-million crustacean: a blue lobster.
    WCSH-TV reports Jay LaPlante of the Miss Meghan Lobster Catch company caught the curious creature in Scarborough around 10:45 a.m. Saturday. LaPlante and daughter Meghan were hauling traps when she discovered the bright blue critter.
    The story has a happy ending for the lobster. Meghan says she is naming it Skyler and donating it to the Maine State Aquarium, far from any dinner rolls or pats of butter. The aquarium says it has three other blue lobsters and an orange one.
    LaPlante says it's the first time he has caught a blue lobster.

    The Camels of Texas, 1856

    Camels existed in the Americas until about 10,000 years ago, when they were most likely hunted to extinction. The New World was then camel-less until 1856, when the US Army imported dromedary (one-humped) camels from Egypt. They were very useful for crossing the western deserts. Later, the camels went to work in as far north as Vancouver Island. Dr. John Lienhard of the University of Houston describes the adventures of these American camels:
    In any case, the Confederate Army captured the Texas Camels during the Civil War and used them to move cotton into Mexican ports. Meantime, private promoters in San Francisco also saw the potential for camels. They realized that two-humped Bactrian camels could carry even more freight than Dromedaries.
    So they began importing Bactrians from Manchuria. Some were sent to Los Angeles. In fact, someone even tried to set up a camel express service between Southern California and Arizona.
    But the camel saga takes a strange northward turn with the discovery of gold in British Columbia's Cariboo region -- off in the mountains two hundred miles north of Vancouver. One John Calbreath quickly bought 23 of the San Francisco Bactrian camels at three hundred dollars each. He had them shipped to Vancouver Island. From there they were put on a barge and taken to the Frasier River. There they went to work hauling goods into the mountains.

    Pitbull Takes Care of Baby Bunny

    Pit bulls get a bad rep in our society. Because the wrong type of people tend to get their hands on them, people see them as weapons or as a threat. But as this video shows, a Pit bull will act how it has been raised. They can be the most gentle, loyal, loving creatures on Earth, as you will see here. Please note just how gentle this Pit bull is being with this baby bunny. The dog is very much aware of its size and strength, and you can see it is holding back and giving little, baby kisses. It speaks in the favor of these dogs, who are often under-appreciated and over-feared. Just a little sweet and cute to kickstart your week.
    By the way, the dog's name is Sharky and you can learn more about this gentle and wonderful Pit bull here.

    Animal Pictures