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

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, this means you ...!
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Today in History

1739 Russia signs a treaty with the Turks, ending a three-year conflict between the two countries.
1776 Congress borrows five million dollars to halt the rapid depreciation of paper money in the colonies.
1862 At the Battle of Corinth, in Mississippi, a Union army defeats the Confederates.
1873 Captain Jack and three other Modoc Indians are hanged in Oregon for the murder of General Edward Canby.
1876 John L. Routt, the Colorado Territory governor, is elected the first state governor of Colorado in the Centennial year of the U.S.
1906 The first conference on wireless telegraphy in Berlin adopts SOS as warning signal.
1929 The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes officially changes its name to Yugoslavia.
1931 The comic strip Dick Tracy first appears in the New York News.
1940 U.S. Army adopts airborne, or parachute, soldiers. Airborne troops were later used in World War II for landing troops in combat and infiltrating agents into enemy territory.
1941 The Maltese Falson, starring Humphrey Bogart as detective Sam Spade, opens.
1942 Germany conducts the first successful test flight of a V-2 missile, which flies perfectly over a 118-mile course.
1944 German troops evacuate Athens, Greece.
1951 A "shot is heard around the world" when New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, beating the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the National League pennant.
1952 The UK successfully conducts a nuclear weapon, becoming the world's third nuclear power
1955 Two children's television programs and a family sitcom all destined to become classics debut: Captain Kangaroo, Mickey Mouse Club, and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
1963 A violent coup in Honduras ends a period of political reform and ushers in two decades of military rule.
1985 The Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight.
1989 Art Shell becomes the first African American to coach a professional football team, the Los Angeles Raiders.
1990 After 40 years of division, East and West Germany are reunited as one nation.
1993 Battle of Mogadishu, in which 18 US soldiers and some 1,000 Somalis are killed during an attempt to capture officials of the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid's organization.
1995 Former pro football star and actor O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, ending what many called "the Trial of the Century.".
2008 The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to purchase distressed assets of financial corporations and supply cash directly to banks to keep them afloat.

Alaskan Summer

If you think that summer never lasts for long, spare a thought for your average Alaskan. At around four weeks in length, summer in Alaska takes a long time to arrive and then is gone before you barely get used to it.
However, with around twenty three hours of daylight, plant life here at the edge of the Arctic bursts into life. There is a side to Alaska that does not necessarily always have to involve the white stuff.

"The Roosevelts": Ken Burns' economics lesson for America

The new PBS documentary examines how New Nationalism and the New Deal saved the country from capitalism's excesses 
Ken Burns's superb documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, is in many ways a celebration of leadership, of the triumph of personal will over adversity, and of the belief in the age-old American story that each of us - no matter how burdened by life's tragedies - has the capacity to accomplish great things.
The film also has much to say about the transformative nature of government: the idea, which all three Roosevelts shared, that it was the responsibility of government to serve as the primary guarantor of social and economic justice for all Americans - not just the privileged few at the top. It was this belief that formed the basis of Theodore Roosevelt's New Nationalism and Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, and this belief that helped inspire Eleanor Roosevelt's efforts to craft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was ratified by the United Nations just three years after its 1945 founding.
What is often overlooked in this story is the role that all three of these remarkable leaders played in helping to preserve the American free enterprise system, of trying to mitigate the worst excesses of capitalism, not only out of a desire to protect the American people from exploitative labor practices or fraudulent financial dealings, but also out of a desire to protect our very way of life during an era when liberal capitalist democracy was under siege in much of the rest of the world. As the late Arthur Schlesinger Jr., once remarked, the twentieth century in many respects can be viewed as a struggle of ideologies, a time in which the anti-democratic forces of fascism and totalitarian communism were on the march, so that by January 1942 at the height of the Second World War, there were only a handful of democracies left on the planet.

Judge Slams Voter Suppression Law — ‘Why Does The State Of North Carolina Not Want People To Vote?’

Legislative Protests Voting rights advocates in North Carolina caught a lucky break on Thursday, where it was revealed that the panel of three judges who would consider that state’s comprehensive voter suppression law included one Clinton appointee, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, and two Obama appointees, Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd. Last month, a shrub appointee to a federal trial bench in North Carolina allowed the law to go into effect during the 2014 election, the panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit are now considering whether to affirm or reverse that decision. They heard oral arguments in the case on Thursday.
Several provisions are at issue in this case that all make it more difficult for residents of North Carolina to cast a vote. One provision cuts a week of early voting days. Another restricts voter registration drives. A third implements a strict voter ID law, although that provision does not take effect until 2016, so it would be reasonable for the court to decide not to suspend it during the 2014 election.
One provision that received a great deal of attention from the judges during Thursday’s oral arguments in this case is a change to the state law that causes ballots to be tossed out if a voter shows up in the wrong precinct. For the last decade, voters who showed up at the wrong precinct would still have their votes counted in races that were not specific to that precinct, so long as they voted in the correct county. The new law prohibits these ballots from being counted at all. According to the Associated Press, that means thousands of ballots will be thrown out each election year.
Judge Wynn, the only member of the panel who lives in North Carolina, appeared baffled by this provision. Explaining that he lives very close to a precinct that is not his assigned polling place, he asked the state to justify why his vote should be thrown out if he did not travel to a precinct that is further away from his home. At one point, his questions grew quite pointed — “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?” Wynn asked. At another point, he described a hypothetical grandmother who has always voted at the same place. Why not “let her just vote in that precinct?” he wondered?
An attorney defending the North Carolina law spent a great deal of his time at the podium arguing that it would be too disruptive for a court to suspend parts of North Carolina’s election law this close to the November elections. As a legal matter, this is a strong argument. In a 2006 case called Purcell v. Gonzalez, the justices reinstated a voter ID law that had been halted by a lower court. They explained that “[c]ourt orders affecting elections, especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls. As an election draws closer, that risk will increase.”
Yet the judges seemed skeptical of this argument as well, questioning what evidence the state could show that voters would actually be confused. When an attorney argued that restoring lost voting rights could be logistically challenging for the state, Judge Floyd asked whether “an administrative burden [can] trump a constitutional right?”
The argument that judges should heed Purcell‘s warning and be cautious about changing voting law close to an election also did not convince a wingnut panel considering another voter suppression law in Wisconsin. Earlier this month, a panel of three repugican judges reinstated a voter ID in a single page order issued the same day that they heard oral arguments in the case. At the time, election law expert Rick Hasen criticized this order as a “very bad idea,” in part because of the reasons stated in Purcell. There are already early signs that Hasen was correct.
The Wisconsin case is already making its way to the Supreme Court, and the North Carolina case is likely to wind up there as well, especially if the Fourth Circuit rules against the state’s law. Should both cases come before the justices, that means that they will be confronted with one case where a court changed a state’s election law in a way that Democrats generally approve of, and another case where a court changed the state’s election law in a way that repugicans generally approve of. Both of these changes, moreover, would be made close to an election.
If the wingnut Roberts Court really meant what it said in Purcell, then it is likely to allow the North Carolina law to go into effect while suspending the Wisconsin law. Should it allow both laws to take effect, however, that would raise serious concerns about whether the justices are willing to apply the same rule to every case, regardless of whether the rule benefits Democrats or repugicans.

The wingnut Supreme Court Gives repugicans Another Huge Victory in Their Attempt to Steal Elections

by Allen Clifton
When it comes to voting, I live by a simple rule: Anyone who’s trying to make it more difficult for Americans to vote shouldn’t be trusted.
There’s no logical reason why anyone would support making voting more difficult for Americans, other than doing so because they had some kind of ulterior motive behind it. And by that I obviously mean that they’re trying to rig elections.
See, repugicans can’t outright ban people from voting. So what many repugican-controlled legislatures around the country have done is pass legislation that targets voting trends. They realized that while they can’t outright block people from voting, they can try to use loopholes that make it more difficult for certain types of people to vote.
Specially, those voters who don’t often vote for repugicans.
The most known process they’ve used to do this has been strict voter ID laws. And while those have made the headlines, its their attack on early voting that’s most alarming to me. Because there’s absolutely zero logical reason why anyone would object to early voting. Unless, of course, you’re trying to make voting more difficult hoping to rig elections.
We saw how that played out during the 2012 elections in Florida where the lines created by Rick Scott’s corrupt voting laws made national news. It’s estimated that around 200k Florida voters didn’t vote due to ridiculously long lines.
Well, the repugican cabal just scored a huge victory in their continued attempt to steal elections. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Ohio’s new voting laws which reduce early voting times in the state can remain in place.
And take a wild guess which five justices ruled in favor of this law? That’s right, the five wingnut ones.
I know, you’re shocked.
Amazing though, isn’t it? These same five justices who’ve ruled repeatedly that money somehow equals free speech, seem to have no issues with a state such as Ohio trying to restrict the rights for some people to vote.
So, according to these wingnut justices, money equals speech therefore it can’t be restricted – but the average American’s voting rights can be.
Because, again, anyone who’s trying to make voting more difficult is clearly not acting in the best interests of the American voter. We already have an issue in this country where too few Americans are getting out to vote in the first place. Cutting early voting times will only increase that problem – not help it.
But repugicans really don’t care about voting rights, our civic duty or any of that cliché patriotic rhetoric. What they care about is passing these laws hoping that they’ll disenfranchise Democratic voters so that it’s easier for repugican candidates to steal close races.
And as long as wingnuts control the majority on the Supreme Court, most of these repugican-backed laws that are trying to disenfranchise voters will continue to be upheld.

The wingnut Supreme Court joins repugican War on Voting in Earnest

The Supreme Court's anti-democracy wing; Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy issued an announcement that their decision was not on the merits of the case ...
Vote Discrimination
There is a very obscure, and unofficial holiday in America that is observed by some schools in America that is normally celebrated on or around the last school day in September. The holiday, officially named “Ask a Stupid Question Day” was created by savvy school teachers during the 1980s to encourage students to ask questions regardless if they think other students will ridicule them for being “stupid.”  Although the holiday was meant for students, a North Carolina appellate court judge joined in the “fun” and asked what has to be one of, if not, the stupidest questions ever posed by a federal jurist because he already knew the answer.
The judge, part of a three-member panel for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, was apparently baffled during oral arguments defending North Carolina’s rash of voter suppression laws specifically targeting African Americans and working people. Judge James Wynn is the only panelist who lives in North Carolina and could not comprehend why Republicans shifted polling places, including his own, far away from where voters live and demanded to know why “his vote” should be thrown out for originating from the wrong precinct. Obviously the state’s lawyer could not come up with an intelligent or reasonable answer for the judge, so Wynn was very specific and asked a follow-up question worthy of “Ask a Stupid Question Day” recognition as a doozy; He asked, “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?”
Let’s face it, the judge, like any non-comatose American already knew the answer even though the state’s lawyers refused to answer. North Carolina is in the grips of a racist repugican legislature, is part of the former Confederacy, and dutifully serves the Kochs, ALEC, and Americans for Prosperity. North Carolina’s assault on people of color’s, students’, and working Americans’ right to vote is not unique to the state, or the rest of the former Confederate states actively restricting voting rights of people they think may not automatically vote for repugicans. In fact, even the state’s anti-democracy laws are not unique primarily because around the country repugican cabal-legislatures used American Legislative Exchange Council “fill-in templates” to, as Georgia repugican Fran Millar said, “put a stop to African Americans voting.”
There are several provisions at issue in the North Carolina case deliberately devised by ALEC with the sole purpose of making it more difficult for residents of North Carolina to cast a vote. One provision cut early voting by a week, another implements a harsh voter ID law, and a third put a severe restriction on voter registration drives. Not only do repugicans want to put a stop to people of color’s right to vote, they intend to put a stop to efforts to register people of color to participate in the democratic process. Now, some pundits claim the North Carolina restrictions have a better than average chance of being struck down because the three judges on the court were appointed by Democratic presidents, but they fail to remember there are five repugican-appointed Justices on the Supreme Court who oppose voting rights for non-repugican voters. Don’t believe it?
Yesterday, the five repugican-appointed wingnut Justices reversed a federal district court’s ruling that struck down repugican-imposed voting restrictions in Ohio after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in a unanimous order that Ohio residents could begin early voting today if they so desired. The Supreme Court’s anti-democracy wing; Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy issued an announcement that their decision was not on the merits of the case because they had not yet heard any oral arguments defending voting restrictions. They just believed so strongly that since Ohio’s repugican Secretary of State Jon Husted invested such an incredible amount of time and energy to disenfranchise minority and working-class voters, and labeled his “appeal” an emergency, that as good wingnuts it was prudent to support Ohio repugicans’ efforts to block voting. Since the wingnut-5 were appointed by repugican presidents, they felt duty-bound to honor their cabal’s anti-democracy crusade and make it official by judicial fiat. Although the North Carolina case has not yet been decided, if the Appellate judges do strike down North Carolina’s anti-democracy statues, repugicans can rest easy a repugican appeal deemed “an emergency” by the state’s secretary of state will have the restrictions back in place well before election day.
There is no possible way any American can dispute that repugicans are “taking back their country” to an era that voting was restricted as a matter of course. The preponderance of repugican vote suppression laws are more strident than during Jim Crow simply due to the various demographic groups being targeted for disenfranchisement. It is true African Americans are the primary target, but coming in at a close second are working Americans likely toiling away at two jobs just to make ends meet, students, and the elderly. In fact, in Texas, and likely other former Confederate states, an official student ID is not a valid form of identification but an NRA or gun registration permit means a prospective voter is a repugican and a real American. Texas is also the state that passed a law requiring women’s voter registration to have their birth certificate name to restrict the women’s vote; even repugican women’s vote.
This is the new and improved American democracy that the United Nations noted was deliberately blocking people of color’s access to voting, and yet the mainstream media as well as Democrats were too terrified to expose to the American people that the entire world is now aware America’s storied democracy is a pathetically sick joke and not long for this world. Oh, there may be elections going forward, but they will be reserved for what in repugican parlance is known as “real Americans;” white 'christians' with a jesus card, gun owners with an NRA card, or any southerner wearing a NASCAR cap (backwards of course). The wingnuts on the Supreme Court certainly understand who the real Americans (repugican voters) are because they have been loyal puppets thwarting voting rights of any group repugicans, the Kochs, ALEC, or Americans for Prosperity deem unfit to participate in elections. It is too bad for America because no Constitution, United Nations, or appearance of being a democracy is going to stop wingnuts from creating an environment that allowed a hated brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein to win elections. Saddam just used a different form of violence to block opposition votes than repugicans.

The Truth Be Told

But certainly not his...

Man faces jail if he writes more than two letters of complaint to the council a month

A man who has been plaguing the municipality of Dordrecht in the western Netherlands with thousands of letters in the last years has been warned that he has now been given a letter-limit of two per month.
The court in Dordrecht has ruled that for any extra letter or e-mail that Mustafa Karasahin sends to the municipality, he will spend a day in jail, with a maximum of a year. The warning extends to any other form of contact to the municipality. The city of Dordrecht asked the court to impose some sort of ban on the professional complainer, who has sent 3,500 letters to the municipality in only two years.
According to the municipality, Karasahin was a slumlord, but Karasahin himself believes that the municipality was using a different yardstick to measure him. That was two years ago. Since then, Karasahin has been beleaguering the municipality with letters. His lawyer stated earlier that it was out of revenge. Karasahin himself admits he wanted to make the city pay up. Dordrecht is obliged to answer all letters and e-mails.
Having to answer letters from residents costs the municipality money, and this particular complainer has been costing Dordrecht more money than the average citizen. The municipality spends almost €500,000 per year answering correspondence. With this ban, the municipality “hopes” that Karasahin will now stop sending letters. If he doesn’t, then the municipality will make use of the possibility to put the man behind bars. A spokesperson for the municipality said that Karasahin has said that he will continue pestering the city, perhaps under another name.

Grandmother claims she can cure eye problems by licking eyeballs

A Bosnian pensioner claims she can cure eye problems by licking eyeballs with her golden tongue. For over 40 years, granny Hava Cebic, 77, has been helping friends and neighbors in her small village of Crnjevo, in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, by licking eyeballs.
Later, as her fame spread, locals from other villages have traveled to see her. She said she had started when she was a child, and her brother had complained he had dry eyes, so she had pinned him down and licked them for a joke. She added: "He told me he had been able to see better after that". She had then tried it on others with eye problems, and it had really worked, to her surprise.
She said she had cured allergies, dry or tired eyes, as well as others diagnosed with problems like conjunctivitis and ocular hypertension. She says her licking can even help the symptoms in serious conditions like cataracts. "At first my husband was very confused and didn’t want me to do it," she said.
"But one day he got a piece of wood in his eye and after I licked it out he agreed that I had a gift, and I should help others. Now, whenever anyone has something stuck in their eye or whatever, they come to me," boasted happy Hava. "They come from different towns and villagers and in a minute or two their problem is solved. But I always make sure I wash my tongue in alcohol before and after an eye licking," she stressed.

Thai tourism minister says visitors may be issued with identification wristbands

Identification wristbands may be distributed to tourists in Thailand, the country’s tourism minister says. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said she had approached hotels over the idea of handing out wristbands to help identify tourists who get lost or into trouble.
“When tourists check in to a hotel they will be given a wristband with a serial number that matches their ID and shows the contact details of the resort they are staying in, so that if they’re out partying late and, for example, get drunk or lost, they can be easily assisted,” Kobkarn said.
“The next step would be some sort of electronic tracking device but this has not yet been discussed in detail.” She said a “buddy system”, pairing tourists with a local minder at tourist destinations, was also being discussed.
Kobkarn admitted the wristband idea had already met some resistance. “Most people welcome the idea but some hotels are concerned that tourists may not want to wear the wristbands.”

Men accused of assaulting neighbor dressed like a pirate

Larry Harcar was swaggering down his street in Florida last week in full "Pirates of the Caribbean" regalia: Bearded, in black and with a toy gun and sword. It's what he likes doing this time of year for entertainment, he told authorities. The fun ended when Harcar, 49, found himself face down on the ground with two loaded pistols pointed at his head. The guns were in the hands of two startled neighbors from three doors away, the Broward Sheriff's Office said, who were fearful of the "pirate's" appearance.
The drama began on Wednesday afternoon, when Harcar was spotted by Ahmed Othman, 24, and Muhamad Ahmad, 22, who were home in Dania Beach. Harcar's outfit "scared" Othman, Sheriff's Detective Stephanie Newton said in a report. "They felt the man was acting peculiar," Othman's lawyer, Lawrence Hashish, said. "The man had a gun and a sword, and they didn't know they were toys." So Othman and Ahmad armed themselves and warned a security guard there was a man going around dressed in a costume. 
Several neighbors and a security guard called 911. Othman and Ahmad drove around looking for Harcar, who they saw in a hallway of their apartment complex, the Sheriff's Office said. Pointing their guns, the pair told Harcar to put up his hands and get on the ground. When he complied, one of the men put Harcar's hands behind his back, placed a knee in the back of his neck and held a gun to Harcar's head. The other man also pointed his weapon at the prone man's skull, Newton wrote.
There were also verbal threats made to Harcar, according to the report. In a sworn statement, Harcar told authorities he was just walking home to fix his costume, and that he feared the men were going to kill him, according to Newton. Othman and Ahmad were each charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, battery and false imprisonment. They were released from a Broward County Jail on Thursday on $8,500 bond each. Neither man has a criminal record, according to state records. "They're the ones who called 911 and security," Hashish said. "All of this is really just a misunderstanding." At his apartment, with a bird squawking in the background, Harcar declined comment.

Student arrested for jogging while drunk

A student was arrested for jogging while drunk, Pennsylvania police report.
James Finan, 21, was spotted “jogging without any light” at 1:27 on Sunday morning, according to a Lower Saucon Township Police Department report.
Finan attends nearby DeSales University, where he is a business major. According to police, “vehicles were observed to take defensive measures to avoid Finan” as he ran alongside the road.
When officers confronted Finan, he reportedly smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet. A subsequent breathalyzer test registered his blood alcohol content at .19, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

Music Makes You Smarter

Your brain functions better when listening to music you like, reports a new study.

An Apple A Day ...

Apples-USDA-ARS-350-200x300An apple a day could keep obesity away

Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds […]

Improve your memory

shino_and_participantLift weights, improve your memory

Here’s another reason why it’s a good idea to hit […]

Esquire's Best Dressed Mobsters

A mobster's life ain't all it's made out to be, what with the rats, RICO laws, cops, and that little, last, nagging shred of your conscience that keeps telling you it wasn't cool to kill all those dudes just so you could hang out with a bunch of teamsters.
But a life of organized crime couldn't buy a guy some damn nice suits. And when you're a boss, no one can tell you how to wear what you wear, allowing crime kingpins to flex sartorially and break more than just the social contract. Here are the ten chicest mobsters according to Esquire.

Classic Hollywood’s First Asian-American Star

Anna Mae Wong grew up in Los Angeles, determined to be a part of the glamorous world of Hollywood. She became the most famous of the very few Chinese actors of the 1920s and ‘30s, navigating an industry that woefully underutilized her talent. Still, she had a groundbreaking career in silent films and talkies in both the U.S. and Europe.
Wong’s acting was subtle and unmannered; her eyebrow game was on point. She had a piercing stare that made you feel as if she saw the very best and very worst things about you, and her signature blunt-cut bangs made her face seem at once exquisitely, perfectly symmetrical. Given the quilt work of exotic roles she’d played on the silent screen, audiences expected her to speak with a broken, accented, or otherwise un-American English. But her tone was refined, cool, cultured, like a slap in the face to anyone who’d assumed otherwise.

Her early success, like that of Japanese star Sessue Hayakawa, can at least partially be attributed to the global market for silent films. Yet to truly understand Anna May Wong’s unique place in Hollywood — and the particular type of racist role available to her — you have to understand both the rampant fetishization of the “Orient” by the West and the place of Chinese-Americans in California in the early 20th century.
One illustration of this was how fan magazines tried to explain that Wong was all American, and therefore nothing to be afraid or suspicious of, yet they also explained that she was really Chinese, really, because audiences were used to Asian roles being played by white actors in makeup. And the roles Wong got were stereotyped as the exotic victim, villain, or sidekick. There was one role that she was dubbed “too Chinese” for, although the character was, in fact, Chinese. The role went to Helen Hayes. Read about Anna Mae Wong’s life and career at Buzzfeed.

10 Of The Most Unusual Vintage Microcars

A microcar is the smallest automobile classification. Such small cars were generally referred to as cyclecars until the 1940s. More recent models (1960 and later) are also called bubble cars due to their bubble-shaped appearance.
The heyday of these cars was surely in the mid- to late 1950s, when post-war Europe turned to creating mobility solutions for the masses. The original Mini and Fiat 500 may be the most recognisable machines, but here are ten of the most unusual microcars from this era.

Ancient Earthquake Revealed

A woman's gold pendant and the thigh of a statue are among the items archaeologists recovered in the ancient city of Hippos.
Skeletons crushed under a collapsed roof reveal death and destruction caused by the earthquake that hit Israel and the region in 363 A.D.

Old Canoe

Sophisticated oceangoing canoes and favorable winds may have helped early human settlers colonize New Zealand, a pair of new studies shows.

Random Photos

Satellite photos show world's fourth-largest lake disappearing

The disappearing Aral Sea as seen from space. (NASA)
The disappearing Aral Sea as seen from space. (NASA)

The Aral Sea, once the fourth-largest lake in the world, is nearly gone.
Satellite images released by NASA this week show half of the inland lake that spans the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border in Central Asia are almost totally dry.
"For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried," NASA said in a release.
The shrinking began in the 1960s, NASA reported, when the former Soviet Union started diverting the Aral Sea's snowmelt-fed water from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers to irrigate the desert farms of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
The first satellite image, taken in 2000, shows the lake split in two, creating the Northern and Southern Aral seas. A 2005 emergency dam project by Kazakhstan's government to save the northern part, followed by a four-year drought, expedited the southern sea's disappearance. The most recent image, taken in August, shows a dry lakebed where the Southern Aral Sea used to be.
The loss of water has wreaked havoc on the local community and climate, NASA notes:
As the lake dried up, fisheries and the communities that depended on them collapsed. The increasingly salty water became polluted with fertilizer and pesticides. The blowing dust from the exposed lakebed, contaminated with agricultural chemicals, became a public health hazard. The salty dust blew off the lakebed and settled onto fields, degrading the soil. Croplands had to be flushed with larger and larger volumes of river water. The loss of the moderating influence of such a large body of water made winters colder and summers hotter and drier.

According to Philip Micklin
, geographer emeritus at Western Michigan University and an Aral Sea expert, there has been significantly less rain and snow this year in the distant Pamir Mountains, greatly reducing water flow to the Amu Darya.
In 2003, NASA scientists warned that "complete desiccation" of the sea "could happen in as few as 15 years."
Looks like their prediction is right on schedule.

Zavikon Island

This is Zavikon Island, one (or actually two) of the Thousand Islands between New York and Ontario in the St. Lawrence River. You may have seen this picture, with the bridge with flags attached, and the story that the larger island is in Canada and the smaller island is in the United States, causing the homeowner to become an international traveler when visiting his/her other island. That’s not true. According to Wikipedia,
The smaller and more southeasterly of the pair of islands is sometimes called Little Zavikon Island. It has a US-Canada Boundary Commission reference monument, from which, along with other reference monuments on the shore and islands, surveying measurement are used to calculate the international boundary line turning points in the waterway (in this case, about 140 meters southsoutheast of the southern tip of Little Zavikon Island as shown on the largest scale USGS map of the area.
Google Maps shows that the border does not run between the islands. Reportedly, tour guides still beef up their patter with the tale of the island divided by an internaitonal border, which is believable because of flags decorating the bridge. But what a lovely place! You can see a larger version of this picture at Wikipedia.

The Mystery Of The Great Blue Hole In Belize

The Great Blue Hole is an amazing natural wonder off the coast of Belize. It is a large, circular underwater sinkhole situated near the middle of Lighthouse Reef.
This natural phenomenon measures more than 300 meters across and is about 124 meters deep. It is a top destination for recreational scuba diving with its crystal clear waters and diverse marine fauna. It forms a portion of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rising Seas

Antarctica shotChanging Antarctic waters could trigger steep rise in sea levels

Current changes in the ocean around Antarctica are disturbingly close […]

Sea Monkeys and Ocean Currents

As the shrimp swarm to the surface in one large, culminating force, they may contribute as much power to ocean currents as do the wind and tides.

Maritime Ghosts

Things that go bump in the night may not be ghosts after all.

In Plain Sight

Newly Discovered Ant Species Hides in Plain Sight

Researchers plan and plot every considerable aspect of their work, […]

Coyote recovering after being found stuck in vehicle's bumper

Passengers at Waukegan train station in Illinois couldn’t believe their eyes on Sept. 24 when a train conductor pulled into the employee parking lot before work with what looked like a fox stuck in the bumper of his vehicle. “It was 6:30 in the morning when dispatch called me,” said Amber Manley, an animal control officer for the Waukegan Police Department.

“I asked if it was alive and they said, ‘yes.’ I told them I’m on my way,” she said. When Manley arrived, the owner of the vehicle, Kenosha resident Mark Armour, told her that he thought he hit something on his way to work as a train conductor. “He said he thought he hit something, he could feel it, but he didn’t see anything,” Manley said. Right away, Manley knew the animal wasn’t a fox, but a coyote.
She was stunned the coyote happened to be the right size to fit in the tight space. “It was even more amazing he survived,” she said. Using safety equipment so the animal couldn’t bite her, Manley helped the coyote get loose. The animal appeared to be in shock. “He seemed docile,” she said, adding that she placed him in an animal control crate and then into her van. Manley then called Susan Elliott, director of animal control in Waukegan, to see if the coyote could be taken to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation for medical attention.
Dawn Keller, executive director and founder of the Barrington-based wildlife center, agreed to take the coyote. She found the coyote had suffered three fractures in his legs. Keller set the fractures, gave the coyote antibiotics and reported that the coyote is now resting comfortably. By the next day, he was more alert and eating. The wildlife center hopes to release him back into the wild after winter.

Animal Pictures