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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.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Daily Drift

Virtual Reality ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

Literally ... !
Today is  - Country Inn Bed and Breakfast Day
Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad-Tobago
Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Maple, Ridge, Vancouver and Moncton, Canada
Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Londrina, Brazil
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Mexico City and Ecatepec, Mexico
Ukiah, Trego, Secaucus and Donegal, United States
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Prague, Usti Nad Labem and Karlin, Czech Republic
Timisoara, Romania
Treviso, Naples, Milan and Nola, Italy
Almere Stad, Netherlands
Tbilisi, Georgia
Woking, Slough and London, England
Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece
Ryazan and Moscow, Russia
Velizy-Villacoublay, Roubaix and Rouen, France
Cacem, Portugal
Sarajevo and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
Wloszakowice, Poland
Arendal, Norway
Torrent, Spain
Berlin and Stuttgart, Germany
Marsa, Malta
Dublin, Ireland
Ruse, Bulgaria
Grande Riviere Sud Est, Mauritius
Kolkata, Pune, Bali, Patna, New Delhi and Howli,  India
Tehran, Iran
Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Hanoi and Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Doha, Qatar
Rangoon, Burma
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Peshawar, Pakistan
Palembang and Tangerang, Indonesia
Taipei, Taiwan
Khon Sawan, Thailand
Tel Aviv, Israel
Osaka, Japan
Pretoria and Centurion, South Africa
Cairo, Egypt
The Pacific
Homebush, Australia

Today in History

1762 The British fleet bombards and captures Spanish-held Manila in the Philippines.
1795 The day after he routed counterrevolutionaries in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte accepts their formal surrender.
1813 U.S. victory at the Battle of the Thames, in Ontario, broke Britain's Indian allies with the death of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, and made the Detroit frontier safe.
1821 Greek rebels capture Tripolitza, the main Turkish fort in the Peloponnese area of Greece.
1864 At the Battle of Allatoona, a small Union post is saved from Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood's army.
1877 Nez Perce Chief Joseph surrenders to Colonel Nelson Miles in Montana Territory, after a 1,700-mile trek to reach Canada falls 40 miles short.
1880 The first ball-point pen is patented on this day by Alonzo T. Cross.
1882 Outlaw Frank James surrenders in Missouri six months after brother Jesse's assassination.
1915 Germany issues an apology and promises for payment for the 128 American passengers killed in the sinking of the British ship Lusitania.
1915 Bulgaria enters World War I on the side of the Central Powers.
1921 The World Series is broadcast on radio for the first time.
1931 Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon complete the first heavier than air nonstop flight over the Pacific. Their flight, begun October 3, lasted 41 hours, 31 minutes and covered 5,000 miles. They piloted their Bellanca CH-200 monoplane from Samushiro, 300 miles north of Tokyo, Japan, to Wenatchee, Washington.
1938 Germany invalidates Jews' passports.
1943 Imperial Japanese forces execute 98 American POWs on Wake Island.
1947 US President Harry S Truman delivers the first televised White House address.
1948 A magnitude 7.3 earthquake near Ashgabat in the USSR kills tens of thousands; estimates range from 110,000 to 176,000.
1962 The first James Bond film, Dr. No starring Sean Connery, debuts.
1965 U.S. forces in Saigon receive permission to use tear gas.
1966 A sodium cooling system malfunction causes a partial core meltdown at the Enrico Fermi demonstration breeder reactor near Detroit. Radiation is contained.
1968 Police attack civil rights demonstrators in Derry, Northern Ireland; the event is considered to be the beginning of "The Troubles."
1969 Monty Python's Flying Circus debuts on BBC One.
1970 The US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is established.
1970 Members of the Quebec Liberation Front (QLF) kidnap British Trade Commissioner James Cross in Montreal, resulting in the October Crisis and Canada's first peacetime use of the War Measures Act.
1986 Britain's The Sunday Times newspaper publishes details of Israel's secret nuclear weapons development program.
1988 Brazil's Constituent Assembly authorizes the nation's new constitution.
2000 Slobodan Milosevic, president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, resigns in the wake of mass protest demonstrations.

The World's Loudest Sound

The sound made by the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883 was so loud it ruptured eardrums of people 40 miles away, traveled around the world four times, and was clearly heard 3,000 miles away.
Think, for a moment, just how crazy this is. It's like being in Boston and clearly hearing a noise coming from Dublin, Ireland. Traveling at the speed of sound, it takes a noise about 4 hours to cover that distance. This is the most distant sound that has ever been heard in recorded history.

A Secret Weapon For Winning Any Negotiation

When it comes to negotiation, you need to make sure you've planned ahead and go in with a winning strategy. Anchoring your position is a great way to get what you want, and this infographic tells you exactly how it works.

The Truth Be Told

Two little known statutes may make religious delusion superior to the law of the land

by Jeffrey Shulman
Jeffrey Shulman from Georgetown Law looks at the unintended consequences of two statutes that could, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, “permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”.
Abdul Maalik Muhammad (or Gregory Holt)
We have all learned to be sensitive to the many symbolic dimensions of hair. Cultural marker, religious mandate, personal statement, good luck charm—hair matters. And we all know that most things that matter sooner or later become the stuff of legal conflict. Indeed, a facial hair dispute will soon be before the Supreme Court.
Abdul Maalik Muhammad, who will enter legal history as Gregory Holt, wants to grow a beard in accordance with his salafi muslim faith. Though obligated by his understanding of islamic law to leave his beard entirely uncut, Mr. Holt seeks to grow only a half-inch beard. The problem is that he is in an Arkansas state prison, where he is serving a life sentence for burglary and domestic battery, and state prison officials have their own set of hair dictates.
The state Department of Correction prohibits beards, though it does allow quarter-inch beards that are grown for medical reasons. Prison officials argue that safety and security concerns—a half-inch beard could become a hiding place for contraband; a prisoner who escaped could change his appearance by shaving his beard; it would be difficult to monitor beard length; any exceptions to a uniform grooming policy could breed resentment—require a uniform no-beard policy. What makes this case interesting, however, is not the merits of the department’s justifications for its grooming policy, but the burden of proof under which the department will have to labor. It’s the burden of proof that will decide this case—and in all likelihood make the decision an easy one.
If Mr. Holt were claiming that the state’s prison policy violated his right under the federal Constitution to exercise his religious beliefs freely, things might be a little dicier. In constitutional law, there are rights, and then there are rights. Most laws (or other forms of state action) receive a deferential review from the courts, despite the fact that they might impinge upon a host of personal prerogatives. Under “rational basis review,” courts presume the constitutionality of legislation. The party trying to overcome this presumption must show 1) that the law serves no legitimate purpose, or 2) that the means employed by the law has no rational relation to the law’s stated goal.
But laws (or other forms of state action) that impinge upon rights considered to be “fundamental” get a far more skeptical judicial reception. Under a “strict scrutiny” standard, courts will presume that such a law is unconstitutional. To overcome this presumption, the government must show 1) that the law serves a compelling purpose, and 2) that the means employed by the law are as narrowly tailored as possible to achieve the law’s stated goal.
Because the hurdle of strict scrutiny is so difficult to clear (“strict in theory and fatal in fact,” it is commonly, if not entirely accurately, said), the level of review employed by the court can easily determine the outcome of a case.
With regard to regulations that incidentally burden religious practice, the Supreme Court has said that rational basis review applies. Such restrictions are constitutionally permissible unless they directly target religious practice or discriminate against religious groups. This is the core principle of Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith. Decided in 1990, the Smith Court held that where state regulation burdens religious freedom only incidentally—that is, where the burden is a secondary effect of a regulation that is neutral and generally applicable, restricting secular and religious activity alike—the courts will presume its constitutionality. Thus, for example, a law that makes illegal the use of peyote because of safety and health concerns—this was the case in Smith—would be subject to, and would survive, rational basis review, even though it would burden the beliefs and perhaps effectively prohibit the practices of some religious groups.
Smith unleashed a perfect storm of outrage, with blasts of criticism coming from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. Since 1990, critics of Smith have sought a statutory return to the heightened review of free exercise claims. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which required a strict scrutiny standard for any federal or state action that “substantially burden[s] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”
In 1997, for reasons not relevant here, the Supreme Court overturned RFRA insofar as it applied to the states. (Think second perfect storm.) But RFRA remains good law where the action of the federal government is concerned. Its strict scrutiny standard was the heavy finger that tipped the scales in favor of Hobby Lobby’s claim that its rights were violated by Obamacare’s contraception mandate—violated not under the Constitution, but under the federal RFRA.
Soon after the demise of RFRA’s application to state laws, Congress went to work to find a way to bring heightened review to some aspects of state conduct. The result (in 2000) was a statute with the ungainly title of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which goes by the even more ungainly acronym RLUIPA. In brief, RLUIPA applies strict scrutiny to claims of religious burdens involving prisoner rights or discriminatory land use.
Which brings us back to the question of prison grooming policies. For Mr. Holt is not suing under the First Amendment. His claim is that Arkansas prison officials have violated RLUIPA. Thus, to justify a uniform grooming policy, prison officials will have to do more than show that the policy is reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest. That’s the constitutional standard. Under RLUIPA, prison officials will have to show that there is a compelling state interest in a no-beard policy and that such a policy is the least restrictive means to further this interest.
This burden will probably be too much for the Department of Correction to bear. In trial testimony, prison officials failed to offer much in the way of specific evidence to demonstrate the validity of their safety and security concerns. Or anything in the way of evidence to show why they had ruled out less restrictive policies. (This explains why the department argues that courts should not insist on data, studies, and examples as proof to uphold prison officials’ predictive judgments.) It’s not going to help the department that an exemption is already made for medical reasons. Nor is it going to help that at least 44 state and federal prison systems would permit Mr. Holt to grow his beard, and that 42 of these jurisdictions would impose no length limitations whatsoever.
There’s little choice but for state officials to fall upon the argument that courts have historically accorded great deference to prison officials in matters of safety and security. This is true enough, but it’s precisely this degree of deference that the strict scrutiny standard of RLUIPA is meant to change. In discussing strict scrutiny under RFRA (the standard is the same under RLUIPA), the Court has said that the test contemplates an inquiry more focused than a mere categorical approach. It “requires the Government to demonstrate that the compelling interest test is satisfied through application of the challenged law ‘to the person’—the particular claimant whose sincere exercise of religion is being substantially burdened.” These laws thus “look beyond broadly formulated interests justifying the general applicability of government mandates and scrutinize the asserted harm of granting specific exemptions to particular religious claimants.”
Interestingly, the Department of Correction did not argue with any energy that its beard policy was appropriate given the particular religious claimant who brought this case. Yet Mr. Holt had declared “a state of war” with the prison barber after one beard-trimming episode. The two had to be permanently separated. The department’s failure to pursue this line of argument is curious. In its amicus brief supporting Mr. Holt, the United States noted this altercation, remarking that “[i]n general, if an inmate who is permitted to grow a half-inch beard as an accommodation creates a security risk by initiating hostile altercations with a barber, it may be appropriate to withdraw that accommodation to further proper security interests.” The Solicitor General’s invitation to pursue this line of argument is curious, too.
All of this leaves open the question whether as a policy matter it would make more sense for courts to defer to the judgment of prison officials. More broadly, cases like those brought by Mr. Holt and Hobby Lobby should cause us to ask why the constitutional standard is not the appropriate measure by which to judge neutral and generally applicable regulations that incidentally burden religion. Was Justice Scalia wrong in Smith to warn that strict scrutiny review of neutral and generally applicable laws would “make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect . . . permit every citizen to become a law unto himself”? And should we not ask—indeed, some have—what business Congress has in telling the Supreme Court that it must apply strict scrutiny where the Court has already decided it is inappropriate to do so?
There was much liberal outrage when the Supreme Court handed down Hobby Lobby. But a strict scrutiny standard for regulations that burden religion was the child of legislative parents liberal and wingnut. (RFRA’s primary co-sponsors were Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch.) Sooner or later, strict scrutiny will deliver an unpleasant surprise to wingnuts, too. Perhaps, then, when we think about religious objections to neutral and generally applicable regulations, the law that we should really pay attention to is the law of unintended consequences.


A two-fer for Tillis: Donors could make millions thanks to privatized toll lanes

North Carolina repugican Thom Tillis has been pushing privatized toll lanes hard, telling residents that the alternative was "no improvements to I-77 for 15 or 20 years." Rather than raise taxes to widen the interstate for everyone, the state House speaker and Senate candidate is all in on creating lanes that drivers have to pay to use. Of course, bringing inequality to the very lanes of the highway is exactly the kind of thing Tillis would do just because that's who he is, but there's a little something extra in it for him: A group of Tillis donors stand to profit from the toll lanes.A Donald Trump-promoted company called ACN owns a plot of land that would be worth a whole lot of money, if only there was a new highway exit to make it accessible. As it happens, the toll lanes come with a new bonus fund that could pay for that new highway exit-and the day after the governor signed the transportation bill creating that bonus fund, Tillis' Senate campaign got $26,000 in contributions from executives of ACN and their wives. That's not all:
But there was a second political contribution from ACN which coincided with state action moving toward a new exit 27.
On September 13, 2013 state Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker toured Augustalee. Cornelius town leaders wanted her help for exit 27.
And Decker told them there was hope. [...]
That was September 13. On September 18, five days later, a company called TC Investors donated $25,000 to the superPAC Grow NC Strong which backs Thom Tillis for the US Senate.
TC Investors is managed by a company run by Robert Stevanovski - founder and chairman of ACN.
Gosh, that's not at all suspicious, is it? Yeah, okay, maybe a little. But that's the repugican way of doing business: reserve your new infrastructure investments for people who can afford to pay, send 50 years of tolls to a private company, possibly use the new revenue to add a highway exit benefiting a company whose executives have given a lot of money to a top repugican.

The big "middle class" rip-off: How a short sale taught me rich people's ethics

by Edwin Lyngar
So many of us are clueless about business and finance. 
Here's why that's just the way the investment class likes it
"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime." - Honoré de Balzac.
The closest I ever came to acting like a rich person was two years ago when I short-sold my primary residence.  I might have been able to keep it but strategic default made life easier.  I owed about $400,000 on a house that short-sold for $150K.  The bank lost more than a quarter of a million dollars, and I lost at least $80K in down payment and property improvements.  In a short sale the bank agrees to settle debt for the lesser amount and the seller gets nothing but is "punished" by not being able to finance another house for at least two years (rules vary).  My moment of acting rich was when I bought a second house before short-selling the first to skirt around the repercussions of my own bad luck.
When the housing market tanked a few years ago, the government rescued every bank and business (even a damned insurance company), while ignoring everyone else.  I realized that the game was fatally lopsided, so I didn't just walk away in middle-class shame, but rather I employed all my (extremely limited) cunning and deviousness to get a similar home before ditching the old one.  I was able to cash in on low housing prices from a couple of years ago, coupled with low interest rates, to come out on top.  The biggest barrier to getting a great deal was an almost overpowering need to behave like a middle-class sucker.
I was taught growing up to "keep my word" and that your handshake "meant something."  Yet businessmen and individual wealthy people make decisions that are far less moral than a short sale.  People "incorporate" so they can avoid legal responsibility for individual actions.  It works great. You can stiff creditors, declare bankruptcy, pollute daily and raid pensions to enrich individual executives.  If it all goes wrong, like it has so often for Donald Trump, you can keep your mansions and individual fortunes.  It is no accident that the best-paid CEO in America has never made a dime for the company.  If regular Americans acted like corporations and the moneyed class, our country would collapse in a week from systemic theft, corruption and greed.
I always knew business was getting over on me, but I had no idea the extent until I started looking to short-sell.  I first learned all I could about private home financing.  I called up some shady investment groups around town and questioned them at length.  I didn't end up using them, but they were frank, informative and unashamed.
"Who would pay 11 percent on a home loan?" I asked.
"Rich people," said "Bill" from the legal loan-sharking company.  "The rich have terrible credit."
Rich people = bad credit: Just let that sink in.
Bill told me in roundabout ways that rich people never pay a bill if there is any way around it. If something goes wrong in an investment or a business, they always preserve their own assets first. We've all heard the generalization that they're lousy tippers.
Most Americans are clueless about business and finance. Instead, we are a caste of customers.  We consume short-term predatory lending, school loans that can never be discharged, inflated mortgages, high-interest credit cards, fast food and overpriced automobiles.  We "invest" in basic IRAs, doomsday prepping or Ponzi schemes.  The worst part is that no matter how much money we gain or lose, the investor class always gets paid.
During the same five- or six-year period my house value tanked, I also lost tens of thousands of dollars in retirement accounts. At the same time, my "money manager" collected a fee day after day, month after month.  Since he is the dealer of America's crack-based stock market, he got paid regardless of performance.
Middle-class Americans just aren't the same species of human as the wealthy, but we refuse to even discuss the class issue in America. "Class" is for the British, even though the U.K. now has more upward mobility. There have been many great essays and movies about the parallel but unequal capitalist systems in America.  There exists a baffling, byzantine maze of corporate and personal benefits enjoyed by the super-rich and investment class both indecipherable and unavailable to regular people.
We pay banks for the privilege of fleecing us, a fact made obvious by the growing slice of corporate profits generated by the financial sector.  Employment in the financial sector hovers around 5 percent of the American workforce, while they skim a third of all corporate profits off the top.  They create nothing and add nothing, so in essence, a massive chunk of American profit is made up of handling fees.
Lest I be accused of "sour grapes," because I'm not rich, let me be clear.  I live what used to be a middle-class life.  We vacation every year without fail, own a home and live in a nice neighborhood.  My hands stay clean at work.  Of course, it could all crumble tomorrow, but for the moment, I'm a "winner" of some kind.  Because I've reached some small level of financial stability, I've had the time to look around and see how utterly broken the system has become for most people.
Living a middle-class life is an impediment to meaningful change.  We are taught that we have everything we should dare to expect and capitalism has "worked" for us.  Middle-class people are also urged to hate poor people, and those who cannot or will not work.  They are the "other," the moocher class.  Poor people are the reason you haven't gotten a raise in five years or that your house is worthless or that your company only gives you one week off a year.  Those who have something detest those with nothing.  We're letting rich people get away with fleecing America, while turning our rage on poor people.
When you examine it, you cannot blame the rich for the oligarchy we've become or for what looks more and more like the return of Dark Age feudalism.  Rather, the blame lies with my fellow work-a-day slobs who vote for politicians and policies that favor investment and wealth over the work of regular people.  Middle-class Americans are self-flagellating and dispirited over their own lack of wealth, as if it were a character flaw.  At the same time, they fall for the deception that everyone can be rich when, of course, most people lack the connections, education and plain old luck to even get close.
I can uncover an individual's actual potential for wealth with one easy test: If you equate business opportunity with a multilevel marketing scheme, like Amway, you will never be rich.  If that doesn't work, just ask yourself if you think you've got a shot at winning the lottery.  If the answer is "yes," you will most assuredly die poorer than you are now.
For my entire life (and I don't think this will ever change) I've watched friends and family engage in one Fred Flintstone-esque, get-rich-quick scheme after another.  I've also been caught up in more of these than I'm comfortable admitting, and they always fail, without exception.  At the same time (at least in my own circles) this starry-eyed group of middle- and lower-class strivers vote overwhelming for the Republican Party.  I find a direct correlation with an unlikelihood to ever become wealthy corresponding with a stronger commitment to vote Republican.  They further solidify institutional advantages of the business elite to which they will never, ever belong.
As a public service to every member of the get-rich-quick community I offer this: You will never (ever) become millionaires.  Not with a "paying gold claim" or a giant Amway distributorship.  Not with a system for winning at blackjack or a rich uncle about to croak.  I beg you, for your own sanity and well-being, stop voting for more benefits for the monocle-wearing, martini-sipping, trust fund class.  They care nothing about you, your feelings, your family, or life or death.  They already have plenty, so stop enriching them at your own expense.
I do have the start of a solution, and it starts with America taking a hard look at itself.  As a people, we suck at self-examination, but if we can manage it let's ask: Why does society exist?  Does every human live with the sole purpose of enriching the smallest sliver of the species?  Do we consider rich people better than the rest of us?  Or, should we instead attempt to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people, while still promoting innovation and competition?
I entered the shark-infested waters of high finance with a short sale.  It was the worst ethical decision, but finest, most profitable business moment, of my adult life.  It was an informative, even transformative, experience. People are too hesitant to talk about such dealings, especially because most people make shitty financial decisions (like me), but this sheepishness perpetuates systemic financial illiteracy.
As a species, the American-brand human is reluctant to talk about fiscal failure and our own constant victimization at the hands of faceless corporations. Furthermore, our misplaced "ethics" in dealing with big business, a group devoid of anything resembling morality, hurts regular people and society as a whole.  If I could legally find a way to screw over a bank, I'd do it without hesitation.  The financial industry would screw me six ways from Sunday to save a nickel.  The least I can do is return the favor.  I only wish I had more homes to short-sell.

The Truth Hurts


The Smell of Death

Olfactory dysfunction in older people could augur the end of life within just five years.

Woman drove car over raised bridge

A woman in Croatia startled onlookers by leaping several meters across a raised bridge in her car, apparently after missing a red light.

The movable part of the bridge in the seaside town of Tisno was raised at 2.5m (8ft) when the yellow Peugeot zipped up it and landed on the other side. The unnamed woman, 58, passed a red light that had just come on, according to bridge warden Tome Mejic Sidic.
"I was shouting and gesturing her to stop but it was no use", he says. "She ignored me, went full throttle and flew across the bridge. I was convinced she'd overturn the car." Another witness estimates the woman's speed at about 80km/h (50mph). "It sounded like a bomb had gone off," he says of the landing.

"There was a terrible noise and all the airbags were opened by the force of the crash." The driver and her passenger came to a halt next to a cafe on the other side, unharmed. The woman reportedly later told police that she'd been blinded by the sun and hadn't seen the red light.

Australian Man Tries to Rob Gas Station with a Boomerang

A man walked into a Shell gas station in Tarragindi, a town south of Brisbane, Australia. He was armed with a boomerang.
The man demanded money from the customers, then the clerk. Although he was armed, no one seemed intimidated by his boomerang. It's no wonder: there wasn't enough room in the store for him to throw it properly.*
Eventually, the would-be robber left. People in the store called the police, who recognized their description. They arrested a suspect and charged him with being a public nuisance.
*I've just had a great idea for a mass-produced consumer product: a bayonet mount for a boomerang.

Grandmother accused of dressing as witch to abuse 7-year-old girl

A woman from Oklahoma City has been arrested on child abuse charges after a 7-year-old girl told authorities she had been beaten, burned and tortured while the woman was dressed in a witch costume. Officers were called to a home in southeast Oklahoma City after the alleged suspect tried to take the victim to Griffin Memorial Hospital. According to the police affidavit, 49-year-old Geneva Robinson told employees at the hospital that she could not control the girl anymore. The 7-year-old child looked to be malnourished and had numerous burns and bruises across her body, according to the police report.

Supermarket employee accused of stealing $1,200 worth of meat hidden in his pants

A New York supermarket employee has been accused of leaving the store with $1,200 worth of meat hidden in his pants.
State police say Gregory Rodriguez, of Ossining, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. Rodriguez works at the A&P in Croton-on-Hudson. Police were called on Monday about the theft.
Rodriguez was arrested on Tuesday. A state police spokeswoman, Trooper Melissa McMorris, says the theft occurred in one day. She did not know if it involved more than one trip to the store.
Rodriguez was arraigned on Tuesday night in Cortlandt and sent to the Westchester County Jail without bail. The court clerk says no lawyer was present and no plea was entered.

French Fries Around The World

At one time, potatoes were only eaten by Americans. Then Columbus came along, and potatoes spread all over the globe, where people eat them in all manners, but none more than fried.
Once you've cooked them and named them, the method of eating French Fries varies from place to place. Of course, in any country there are many different preferences, but tradition and taste fall into different styles in different places.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Wine

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here the author of Black Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.
1. Digital eyes are everywhere in vineyards. Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base -or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they soon may be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!
2. There are also lots of cow skulls. They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation no. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.
3. Ferocious foliage is a vintners friend. The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes -tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.
4. What a canary is to a coal mine, roses are to a vineyard. Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.
5. Vintners exploit the food chain. Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.
6. Wine needs cleaning. Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspected solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized  remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.
7. The big problems in tasting rooms are very small. Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bug-eating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.
8. Atoms have all the answers. About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.
9. Fine wines get MRIs. Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved with buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen in a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at the University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.
10. There’s a trick to aging your wine. If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electrified field charges the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

Twin Basketmaker Villages Discovered in Arizona

Two villages estimated to be 1,300 years old have been discovered in the high desert of northern Arizona. The sites, recently acquired by Petrified Forest National Park, feature walls and floors lined with slabs of sandstone. “Last year we found a large habitation site, and this summer we found a match, less than a mile away, a site that has dozens and dozens of different features. We have now two large groups of pit house structures, both of them with probably more than 50 structures associated with them,” park archaeologist William Reitze told Western Digs. He and his team also recovered ceramics and stone points from the late Basketmaker period, when the residents of the village were transitioning from nomadic foraging to a more sedentary society based upon agriculture. “These sites are often in large sand dunes, but there is no rock there. So any kind of slab at all that you find out there was brought in by people,” Reitze explained. To read more about the prehistory of the Southwest, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Who Were the Anasazi?"

Solo in the Northwest Passage

The MV Nunavik, a cargo ship fortified against ice, completed a solo trip through the hazardous Northwest Passage. 

Climate Change and the Male-Female Ratio

Climate change could affect the ratio of human males to human females that are born in some countries, a new study from Japan suggests. 

Gravity Dips

Rapid ice loss from West Antarctica's ice sheet caused a slight dip in the Earth's gravitational field over the region.

'Bolt from the Blue'

Lighting can strike the ground miles away from the towering thunderstorms that produce it, a phenomenon called a bolt from the blue. 

New Way to Make Oxygen Doesn't Need Plants

New Way to Make Oxygen Doesn't Need Plants
The carbon dioxide in Earth's early atmosphere could have been turned into oxygen by intense UV light as well as by photosynthesis.
Earth's atmosphere wasn't always full of life-giving oxygen — it was once a choking mixture of carbon dioxide and other gases, more like the atmosphere of Mars or Venus.
It's widely believed that the rise of plants turned that carbon dioxide into oxygen through the chemical reactions of photosynthesis, in a period called the Great Oxygenation Event. But a new study suggests there may be another way to make oxygen from carbon dioxide, using ultraviolet light.
The findings could explain how the Earth's atmosphere evolved, and hint at a way to make oxygen in space, the researchers said.
Even though scientists think plants produced most of the oxygen present on Earth, they suspected some oxygen may have existed before photosynthetic organisms arose, said Cheuk-Yiu Ng, a physical chemist at the University of California, Davis, and co-author of the study published today (Oct. 2) in the journal Science.
But, it was thought that the planet's oxygen (O2) formed from two oxygen atoms colliding and combining on some surface, not because the oxygen molecules split from carbon dioxide (CO2), Ng said.
When light breaks apart CO2, the molecule normally splits into carbon monoxide (CO) and an oxygen atom (O). One theory suggested carbon dioxide could potentially be stripped into molecular oxygen (O2) and carbon (C) instead, but "nobody had ever detected" such a process, Ng told Live Science.
Ng and his colleagues built a one-of-a-kind instrument to split up carbon dioxide, using ultraviolet light in a vacuum. The device consists of two lasers — one to split the CO2, and one to detect the fragments produced.
"This machine is unique in the world," Ng said.
When the researchers shone the first laser on the carbon dioxide, the second laser detected O2 molecules and carbon atoms, suggesting a small amount of carbon dioxide (about 5 percent) was turned into oxygen. Though small, that's enough to show that it's possible to produce oxygen from CO2 by a nonbiological process, Ng said.
The findings reveal a possible way oxygen entered the atmosphere of Earth and other planets, the researchers said. This has implications on the search for extraterrestrial life, suggesting that merely detecting oxygen in the atmosphere of another planet is not enough to signify the presence of life, Ng said.
Finally, the researchers hinted that it may be possible to use this technique to make oxygen in space or on other planets. But first, more studies are needed to verify the fundamentals of how this reaction occurs, the scientists said.
One reason the experiment hadn't been done before is because of the difficulty of creating intense vacuum ultraviolet light, Ng said. One way is to use a particle accelerator called a synchrotron, but the laser in Ng's lab is 10,000 to 1 million times brighter than those produced by existing synchrotrons, he said.

Random Photos

Is Demoted Planet Pluto Making A Comeback?

Ever since astronomer Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, discovered it on February 18, 1930, we've believed that we live in a solar system with nine planets. Then, in 2006, along came the International Astronomical Union. The group decided Pluto isn't a planet.
It was demoted to a dwarf planet. But the group's definitions sparked lots of debate. On September 18, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics jumped into the debate: What is a planet? It had some experts discuss the definition of a planet and then let the audience vote. Guess what? They voted that Pluto is a planet.

US reroutes flights to avoid walrus stampede in Alaska

The plight of thousands of walruses forced to crowd on to an Alaska beach because of disappearing sea ice has set off an all-out response from the US government to avoid a catastrophic stampede. The Federal Aviation Authority has re-routed flights, and local communities have called on bush pilots to keep their distance in an effort to avoid setting off a panic that could see scores of walruses trampled to death, federal government scientists said. Curiosity seekers and the media have also been asked to stay away. An estimated 35,000 walruses were spotted on the barrier island in north-western Alaska on 27 September by scientists on an aerial survey flight.
The biggest immediate risk factor for the walruses now is a stampede – especially for baby walruses – but they have been facing a growing threat from climate change, the scientists said. The extraordinary sighting – the biggest known exodus of walruses to dry land ever observed in the Arctic under US control – arrived as the summer sea ice fell to its sixth lowest in the satellite record last month. “Those animals have essentially run out of offshore sea ice, and have no other choice but to come ashore,” said Chadwick Jay, a research ecologist in Alaska with the US Geological Survey. Until 2007, it was unheard of for walruses to leave the sea ice for dry land for prolonged periods of time. But the retreat of sea ice has seen “drastic changes” in behavior, Jay said.
Walruses have struck out for beaches in six of the last eight years. He said there was no doubt the migration – or “hauling out” as it is called – was caused by climate change. “It is really a reduction in the sea ice that is causing the change in behavior, and the reduction of sea ice is due to global warming,” Jay said. But the immediate concern was to avoid a stampede – a leading risk factor for walruses when they crowd onto beaches and barrier islands. The FAA is asking pilots to remain above 2,000ft and half a mile away from the walruses. Helicopters – a bigger risk to the walruses because they are noisier – have been asked to remain 3,000ft up and a mile away. News crews, which have been clamoring to film the walruses, have also been asked to stay away. “The government and local communities are respectfully asking you to leave the haul-out alone,” Joel Garlich Miller, a Walrus biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said.

Walruses are naturally skittish animals, unused to being closely packed together. They also spend 80% of their time on water. Those in the Chukchi sea this time of year are generally females and juveniles and so at greater risk of being trampled to death. “You have all these animals that are normally distributed on a flat surface. When they lose their sea ice habitat and come ashore in places that are accessible – like flat, sandy beaches – they gather in large numbers, and it becomes like a giant pig pile,” said Margaret Williams, managing director for the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic program. “When they are disturbed it can cause stampedes in large numbers.” In addition to the stampede risk, it is also much harder for the walruses to hunt from the beach. The walruses typically disperse over large expanses of water, uses ice floes as a platform to hunt for the clams and other shell fish that are their main food source.

Wild Chimpanzees Observed Transmitting Behavior Socially

The Sonso chimpanzee community living in Uganda’s Budongo Forest has been observed passing a new natural behavior from individual to individual by a team made up of scientists from the University of St. Andrews, the University of Neuchâtel, Anglia Ruskin University, and the Université du Quebec. This is the first time that social transmission has been documented in a wild community. The chimpanzees developed variants of using “leaf-sponges,” which are folded leaves used for drinking water. The variations included adding moss to the leaves to make a drinking device, and reusing a discarded leaf sponge. Science Daily reports that by using a technique called network-based diffusion analysis, the researchers estimated that each time a “naïve” chimpanzee observed moss-sponging, this individual was 15 times more likely to develop the behavior. Thibaud Gruber of the University of Neuchâtel explained that such social learning probably originated in an ancestor common to great apes and humans. “This study tells us that chimpanzee culture changes over time, little by little, by building on previous knowledge found within the community. …In this respect, this is a great example of how studying chimpanzee culture can help us model the evolution of human culture. Nevertheless, something must have subsequently happened in our evolution that caused a qualitative shift in what we could transmit, rendering our culture much more complex than anything found in wild apes. Understanding this qualitative jump in our evolutionary history is what we need to investigate now,” he said. To read more about chimpanzee tool use, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Cultured Cousins?"

Rainbow Colored Sheep Beneath a Rainbow

In his youth, photographer Gray Malin once heard of a Scottish shepherd who dyed the wool of his sheep in order to make them more visible at night and thus less easily stolen. This story rolled around in his head for years until it came into fruition as the "Dream Series."
Malin dyed a flock of sheep bright, vibrant colors. Then he photographed them as they moved around. The results are magical in appearance, as though these animals have become mysterious cryptids passing into our world only temporarily.

Acer, the Dwarf Miniature Horse

Even among miniature horses, Acer stands out for being the shortest at only 22 inches tall! Mainestar Aces High was born of an imported sire, who has since been gelded, at Wolfscastle Miniature Horse Farm. The only survivor of three foals of the sire, Acer was born with dwarfism. Outside of a deformity of the rear hooves, which has been corrected with artificial hoof extensions, Acer appears to be in good health. Read his story here. The three-year-old horse is smallest in Britain!

Animal News

Handful of swimmers ferried to shore after being corralled and slapped by the large adult mammal.
Sharks, like people, seem either to be incredibly shy, extremely social, or fall somewhere in between.
Researchers gather the first experimental evidence that birds actively select nest-building materials that hide their nests.

Animal Pictures