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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1529 Ottoman armies under Suleiman end their siege of Vienna and head back to Belgrade.
1582 The Gregorian (or New World) calendar is adopted in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal; and the preceding ten days are lost to history.
1783 Francois Pilatre de Rozier makes the first manned flight in a hot air balloon. The first flight was let out to 82 feet, but over the next few days the altitude increased up to 6,500 feet.
1813 During the land defeat of the British on the Thames River in Canada, the Indian chief Tecumseh, now a brigadier general with the British Army (War of 1812), is killed.
1863 For the second time, the Confederate submarine H L Hunley sinks during a practice dive in Charleston Harbor, this time drowning its inventor along with seven crew members.
1878 Thomas A. Edison founds the Edison Electric Light Co.
1880 Victorio, feared leader of the Minbreno Apache, is killed by Mexican troops in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico.
1892 An attempt to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kan., ends in disaster for the Dalton gang as four of the five outlaws are killed and Emmet Dalton is seriously wounded.
1894 Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer, is arrested for betraying military secrets to Germany.
1914 Congress passes the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, which labor leader Samuel Gompers calls "labor's charter of freedom." The act exempts unions from anti-trust laws; strikes, picketing and boycotting become legal; corporate interlocking directorates become illegal, as does setting prices which would effect a monopoly.
1924 German ZR-3 flies 5000 miles, the furthest Zeppelin flight to date.
1941 Odessa, a Russian port on the Black Sea which has been surrounded by German troops for several weeks, is evacuated by Russian troops.
1945 Vichy French Premier Pierre Laval is executed by a firing squad for his wartime collaboration with the Germans.
1950 President Harry Truman meets with General Douglas MacArthur at Wake Island to discuss U.N. progress in the Korean War.
1964 Nikita Khrushchev is replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the Soviet Union.
1966 Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale establish the Black Panther Party, an African-American revolutionary socialist political group, in the US.
1969 Rallies for The Moratorium to End the War  in Vietnam draw over 2 million demonstrators across the US, a quarter million of them in the nation's capital.
1987 The Great Storm of 1987 strikes the UK and Europe during the night of Oct 15-16, killing over 20 people and causing widespread damage.
1989 Canadian hockey player Wayne Gretzky makes his 1,851st goal, breaking the all-time scoring record in the National Hockey League.
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the USSR, receives Nobel Peace Prize for his work in making his country more open and reducing Cold War tensions.
1997 Andy Green of the UK becomes the first person to break the sound barrier in the Earth's atmosphere, driving the ThrustSSC supersonic car to a record 763 mph (1,228 km/h).
2003 China launches its first manned space mission, Shenzhou I.
2007 New Zealand police arrest 17 people believed to be part of a paramilitary training camp.
2008 Dow Jones Industrial Average plummets 733.08 points, the second-largest percentage drop in the Dow's history.
2011 Protests break out in countries around the globe, under the slogan "United for Global Democracy."

The Top 50 Cities To See In Your Lifetime

From the great ancient capitals to the modern cities of Asia, the Americas, and beyond, here are the 50 cities you must see during your lifetime.

Inside the Confusing Origins of David Letterman's Top Ten List

Brian Abrams has published a book called AND NOW…An Oral History of "Late Night with David Letterman," 1982-1983, available at Amazon Kindle Singles. It’s full of stories from those who were there at the beginning, responsible for the show that became a late night institution. Part of that institution was Letterman’s Top Ten List, although there is some dispute about who came up with the idea. In a book excerpt, we get to hear from all sides.
By the summer of 1985, head writer Steve O’Donnell was no longer scouring for new personnel to come up with remote concepts and “Viewer Mail” pieces. (Monologue material stayed plentiful, as staffer Gerry Mulligan continued to oversee that part of the show.) Including co-creators Merrill Markoe and David Letterman, 13 individuals populated the writers’ room, and submissions from prospective writers continued to stack high on O’Donnell’s desk. An unassuming 23-year-old Tufts University grad named Rob Burnett wangled an internship in the talent department. And, at 30 Rock, the days of finding bored New Yorkers to fill up Studio 6A’s 200 or so seats at 5 p.m. tapings were ancient history.

But of all of Late Night’s much adored ironic obsessions that transformed comedy forever and enabled a generation of writers and comedians to flourish, there is one recurring bit that to this day has multiple writers claiming credit for its creation: The “Top Ten.”
Was it Merrill Markoe, Randy Cohen, Kevin Curran, Steve O’Donnell, Bob Morton, or Jim Downey? Every one of them had some claim to the idea, as you can read at Splitsider, or in the Abrams book

A Woman Banned From Women’s Sports

Banned from competition due to high testosterone levels, Indian sprinter Dutee Chand is taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
(Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)Dutee Chand is an 18-year-old sprinter from India. She was on the roster for July’s Commonwealth Games until somebody at June’s Asian Junior Athletics Championship requested that she be tested for hyperandrogenism. Those tests revealed Chand to have a naturally occurring high testosterone level and she has been banned from competition.
Juliet Macur profiled Chand for the New York Times and joined Bill Littlefield to discuss Chand’s current predicament.
What has Chand been told she needs to do to return to competition and why has she said she will not do it?
Basically, by the rules of the International [Association of] Athletics Federations (IAAF), which is under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee, they say that her testosterone levels have to be just below, or way below, what they call the “male level.” And to do that, she has to take either hormone-suppressing drugs or have surgery to have her body stop producing the testosterone.
And she has said she will not do that.
Who is a woman and who is a man isn’t as easy as we think it is, especially when it comes to sports.
– Juliet Macur, New York Times
She was basically shocked that anyone would ask her to change for sports, that people would actually say the body that you were born with is not enough, we need you to change this and that. And what she considers her natural advantage, perhaps, is something that needs to be changed. So even as an 18-year-old, she’s pretty confident that she won’t change for anybody, and that’s why she’s taking this case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is basically the Supreme Court in the sports world.
Athletes such as South Africa’s Caster Semenya have reportedly undergone treatment to fit the international standard. Chand might have made the same choice if not for Payoshni Mitra, a researcher and activist on gender and sports. What did Mitra do when she learned of Chand’s case?
Payoshni Mitra took a train and a bus and anything she could to get to Dutee Chand’s side and say, “Listen, you don’t have to go through this surgery or you don’t have to take these drugs. You can fight this.” And in many cases, the athlete hasn’t had these advocates. That’s why we haven’t heard about them in the news, they haven’t complained about it.
The IAAF, which is track and field’s governing body, uses testosterone levels to determine whether an athlete is considered a female. What are the limits of that rule?
JM: I just want to make sure that this is said correctly. It’s not actually a gender test; they’re not saying that you’re a female or you’re a male. Those tests, because of what happened to Caster Semenya, were thrown out because the Caster Semenya case was a disaster. It embarrassed her, it really embarrassed the IAAF. They actually have done away with it and went to this testosterone testing. And basically they’re saying, “You have too much testosterone to compete as a woman.” This is really one of the most complicated issues I’ve ever written about. There’s so many nuances to it, they’re not saying that she’s not a woman, but she can’t compete with other women, which sounds actually quite nonsensical when you think about it.
Hyperandrogenism is relatively rare in the general population. But it’s found in seven out of every 1000 female elite track athletes, most of whom quietly have surgery or leave sports altogether. But a study released last year found that those who chose surgery are also undergoing treatment which has nothing to do with their testosterone levels. What’s that all about?
Exactly — actually a lot of people involved in this case, whether it’s the sports world or the advocates for people like Dutee Chand were shocked when they saw this study that came out about four athletes who were identified at the 2012 London Olympics for having hyperandrogenism. Basically they were whisked away to one of these clinics in France. And not only did they end up getting surgery, but they also got basically plastic surgery of their genital area to make them look more like women. And of course that had nothing to do with their high testosterone levels at all.
People are saying this has gone way too far. Dutee Chand is certainly proud of how she was born, and they might be able to make her lower her testosterone level but they don’t have to suggest plastic surgery to make her look more like a stereotypical woman.
Chand has asked the CAS to review her case, and in your story for the New York Times, you question whether the body can come to a fair decision. So I’m going to put you on the spot: Is there any solution that could be considered fair to all involved and by all involved?
[Laughing] Thanks a lot. I’m really, really interested in following this case because I don’t know what the answer is. And in fact some of these scientists don’t know what the answer is. Who is a woman and who is a man isn’t as easy as we think it is, especially when it comes to sports. And I’m glad it’s the CAS and not me deciding where to make that line. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to make that line.

Democrats Listen to Liberals, Hitting repugicans for Their Dangerous CDC Cuts

Democrats listened to liberals. The DCCC blamed House repugicans for cutting funds to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in online ads starting Monday. …
If you liked the ad liberals cut blaming repugican budget cuts for Ebola deaths, you’re going to love this. Because, you see, Democrats are listening to liberals and beginning to fight fire with fire.
The DCCC blamed House repugicans for cutting funds to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in online ads starting Monday (see above). The CDC fights things like the Ebola virus repugicans keep desperately trying to blame on either President Obama or the Mexican border or ISIL (in other words, anyone they hate).
Jason Easley highlighted the hidden danger posed by the cuts in his article about the liberal ad coming after repugicans for their cuts:
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins admitted that there would already be an Ebola vaccine ready if Congress would not have slashed the NIH budget, “NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here…Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
Democrats are also pointing out that repugicans made these cuts while they protected tax cuts for their buddies like big oil. So, your health, 0 : rich guys getting richer, 10.
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel called out repugians in a statement, “Few issues better illustrate House repugicans’ out-of-whack priorities than their determination to protect special interest tax breaks, even when they come at the expense of our ability to fight the spread of diseases like Ebola – that’s why the DCCC is launching a national paid online effort to hold repugicans accountable for their dangerously misguided priorities.”
No more simpering Mr Nice Guy while repugicans destroy America and place us at risk abroad and at home, and then deny that cutting funding had anything to do with (insert disaster they are blaming on Obama). This is a Democratic Party with some fire, but remaining deeply rooted in their comfort zone of policy and fact.
This is not he said/she said. This is about policy and facts. There are records of votes and the records show that repugicans did this. It’s therefor not a distraction or a blame game, but a very real policy issue that voters should consider at the polls. The repubgicans should be able to defend their choice to endanger the entire country simply because they don’t believe in science and government.
Do you want to have a country that funds disease prevention in advance or would you rather play catch up after Ebola gets here? To be a person of common sense or to be an idiot, is basically the choice.
After years of liberals getting beaten up by repugicans regardless of facts while Democrats apologized from the corner, this is a welcome change. Oh, new Democratic Party, how long the liberals have waited (and by liberals, I mean reality based people of some humanity and common sense). Welcome.

Rachel Maddow Crushes repugicans for Trying to Rig Our Elections

As most liberals are well aware of, repugicans have been doing just about everything they possibly can the last few years to rig our election process. Sure, they mask these attempts in these new laws meant to “curb voter fraud” (which doesn’t exist), but anyone with even a shred of common sense knows what these laws are meant to do – disenfranchise voters who typically vote for Democrats.
Because these laws haven’t just been about ID, they’ve also made registering to vote more difficult and limited early voting times. In other words, these laws haven’t just been about simply making sure that votes are valid, they’ve been about limiting the accessibility many Americans have normally utilized to vote.
And like I’ve said countless times, anyone who’s trying to make it harder for Americans to vote should never be trusted. It’s not even debatable. I don’t care which political party you support, they shouldn’t be making it more difficult for Americans to vote – period.
But that’s exactly what many repugican-controlled state legislatures have been doing since 2010.
Well, Rachel Maddow tore into this behavior that’s become commonplace by these repugicans.
Now, I would normally transcribe a few things that she said, but then I’d be transcribing the entire video. It’s really something everyone should watch from beginning to end.
But what caught my eye is she also mentioned a study cited by Senator Bernie Sanders that was conducted by the GAO, which proved these new voter ID laws are decreasing voter turnout. In particular, among young voters and African-Americans.
Two demographics that often vote for Democrats.
Though I think the point she made which was most alarming was that these laws aren’t having any impact on voter fraud (because it doesn’t exist). Instead, they’re lowering overall voter turnout. And that’s a massive issue – even if Republicans want to try to downplay it.
Voter turnout in this country is already a big enough issue. We shouldn’t have state legislatures passing laws that lower the number of people who are turning out to vote. But that’s exactly what’s happening.
Not only that, but courts are finding these laws to be unconstitutional. As we’ve seen recently in Wisconsin and Texas where these new strict voter ID laws have been overturned by our court system. Showing that there’s a clear attempt by repugicans to skirt our Constitutional rights as much as possible to limit voting access for many Americans.
And this is an issue about which more liberals need to be outraged. We’re literally seeing repugicans rigging our elections before our very eyes. And as long as liberals sit idly by allowing this to go on, repugicans are going to keep doing it.
It’s up to us to stop them, and that starts this November. But, unfortunately, I have a feeling far too many liberals are going to “sit this one out” like they do during too many midterm elections.
Watch the segment via MSNBC:

The repugicans Attack and Mock Disabled Young Man Who Spoke Out For Wendy Davis

The repugicans were frothing so hard to get Wendy Davis that they are attacking Lamar White, a law student in his final year at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School …
Lamar White
A foolish Greg Abbott (r-TX) has fallen right into the trap Wendy Davis (D-TX) set for him. And I say this because there’s a particular genius Obama strategist at work on the Davis campaign, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they deliberately took the risk to roll out the wheelchair ad to get people talking about the issue, knowing that repugicans can’t resist being outraged about anything and everything as a way to avoid discussing the issues.
But as the dust settles from the outrage repugicans tried to drum up, what’s left is an ongoing debate about Greg Abbott opposing and blocking other disabled people from the same benefits he enjoyed. To make matters even worse, repugicans were frothing so hard to get Wendy Davis that they are attacking Lamar White, a law student in his final year at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School, after he advocated for state Senator Wendy Davis at a press conference she held Monday morning.
The repugicans called Mr.White a political prop and mocked him over his disability. They even highlighted a video of him being moved across the stage. Can you imagine if Wendy Davis’ ad showed Greg Abbott being carried out of his chair?
You see, campaign folks helped to move Mr. White’s chair across the stage when he was done speaking. Apparently repuhican media has never been around someone with a disability before, because they are clutching pearls today. A bit of the ugly:
People were not impressed, because you see, he wanted to move and asked them to move him. Apparently these wingnuts aren’t accustomed to alternatively-abled people moving in different ways than they do.
“I’m clumsy, and I fall sometimes. I didn’t want to fall on camera, so I personally asked them to slide me over in the chair… I asked them to move me. Because I was worried that if I stood up, I’d fall down on camera,” Mr. White explained to the Chron. “These critics have obviously never met someone with cerebral palsy before. Our movements are awkward. It’s part of the condition.”
Mr. White is having none of it, and is demanding an apology:
For the hypocrisy, Attorney General Greg Abbott got his and now he works actively to oppose ADA access complaints:
Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has said he supports the Americans with Disabilities Act, has tenaciously battled to block the courthouse door to disabled Texans who sue the state.
In a series of legal cases in his three terms, Abbott’s office has fought a blind pharmacy professor in Amarillo who wanted reflective tape on the stairs to her office; two deaf defendants in Laredo who asked for a qualified sign language interpreter in their courtroom; and a woman with an amputated leg. In that case, the state argued she was not disabled because she had a prosthetic limb.
Abbott, who has used a wheelchair since a tree fell on him while he was jogging and crushed his spine almost 30 years ago, applauds the 1990 federal law. It has helped provide the ramps, wide doors and access that allow him to give speeches and meet with constituents.
While Abbott, the leading repugican contender for governor, benefits from the ADA mandates that guide businesses, builders and cities, he believes it is unconstitutional to force the state to comply. He has argued that his duty is to protect the state’s autonomy and its taxpayers by using all legal tools available to him — including the argument that the state is immune from disability lawsuits brought under the ADA.
If repugicans gave a crap about alternatively-abled people, they would realize that access is king and without laws to demand access, few businesses would comply because profit rules. Thanks to the ADA, we live in a world where an alternatively-abled person can be independent, can fly, can go to college, can attend a sporting event…
The repugicans are supposed to be for freedom, but as we all know by now, if that freedom means a business might have to spend a few dollars, repugicans are against it. This leaves repugicans in the awkward position of only being able to defend their crap policies by spewing hate at random people who dare to have an opinion that differs with theirs. And so we have the hits on Mr. Lamar White, a patriot who exercised his right of free speech, much to the chagrin of the wingnuts, who seem to believe that disabled people shouldn’t or can’t have political opinions unless their name is Greg Abbott.
The wingnuts are now actively mocking the way an alternatively-abled person moves, in their attempt to smear Wendy Davis for having the temerity to show a wheelchair in her ad. This leaves us thinking that repugicans are really outraged at seeing a wheelchair mainstreamed. They’d rather not discuss it, unless Greg Abbott can use it to define his character. Which he has.
Greg Abbott got his, but no one else should.

This Video Explaining The Evidence For Evolution Will Drive wingnut ‘christians’ Crazy

Stephen D Foster Jr Across the country, wingnuts are crusading to mandate teaching 'creationism' in science class. It’s a threat to our education system that would cause science scores in America to plunge and make our nation even more of an international laughingstock among the academic community than it already is.
'Creationism' agitators inaccurately believe that all of world history occurred within a span of 6,000 years and that humans actually rode on the backs of dinosaurs. They claim there is absolutely no evidence proving the validity of evolution. But perhaps wingnuts just haven’t been taught in the correct way.
In a video created by Stated Clearly, a group of science advocates, an examination of the evidence proving the validity of evolution will likely cause any rwingnut with a jesus delusion to scream bloody murder. Clearly, the video was made with wingnuts in mind because it includes simple and colorful images that any five-year-old can understand.
As the video begins, group founder and narrator Jon Perry states that, “Thousands of observable facts from completely independent fields of study have come together to tell us the exact same story: all living things on Earth are related.”
Perry explains that Earth’s various creatures have developed and adapted for millions of years in order to survive. Using the fossil record and the findings of experts across multiple fields of scientific study, Perry and his group literally demonstrate why evolution is fact. However, because there are over eight million different species of animals on the planet, this particular video focuses on cetaceans, a group of sea animals that includes whales and dolphins.
Perry explains that biologists agree that all of these creatures evolved from a single four-legged land animal and then goes one to look at the list of evidence from comparative anatomy, embryology, fossils, DNA, species distribution, etc…
At one point, Perry describes how the evidence shows that hippos and whales have a common ancestor.
They both have multi-chambered stomachs, which is common for herbivores, but is almost unheard of for meat-eating mammals. They are both missing a coat of fur, and here’s a fun fact: whales and hippos are among the only mammals on Earth that have internal testicles.
You know, science and facts. Not a story from a 2,000 year old religious text that has absolutely zero evidence supporting it.
Here’s the entire video:
The fact is, evolution is based on real scientific evidence while 'creationism' is not. That’s why it only belongs in cult and not in our schools. Teaching 'creationism' would only confuse students and violate the religious liberty of students who are not fundamentalist 'christians'. The only reason wingnuts are railing against evolution is because they hate anything that challenges their narrow world view. To them, it’s about keeping kids stupid so that they are easier to manipulate and indoctrinate, thus creating the next generation of ignorance.
So go ahead, show this to wingnuts and watch as they learn something or their heads explode. Either way, it should be damn entertaining.

Top 400 U.S. Billionaires' Wealth Equals Brazil's GDP

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson comments on this data point from Forbes, noting that the social dysfunction caused by this kind of inequality isn't hitting the wealthy yet. But he says that even the wealthy are starting to realize that the country can't continue on this path.I think increasingly those billionaires and other wealthy people know that we're on an unstable trajectory, that the system is dysfunctional, the system's broken, and we are heading towards social conflict. Social conflict can take the form of more repression, military equipment, intimidation, incarceration. As you know, the prison population, particularly black male population, is exploding, and America has a tremendous eyesore associated with the incarceration of black males. But there is a sense in which if you have wealth or if you have the knowledge to create wealth, say, like an engineer at Apple Computer, you've got to be scared that it isn't going to go on, you're not going to be able to reap the fruits of your talents and your wealth unless we adjust course. I think wealthy people have to change course now. It's not sustainable.

The Truth Be Told



You know that jerky, twitchy, feels-like-you're-falling thing you feel sometimes just before you drift off to sleep? That's called the hypnogogic state, and Trace explains what going on with this phenomenon.

Disease Terror

Ebola made the cut, as did anthrax and botulism. Find what other diseases government officials are closely monitoring.

Man crawled up from New York subway hatch to throw smoke bomb at diners

Police say a man climbed out of a sidewalk grate and hurled a smoke bomb into Greenwich Village restaurant diners on Friday evening, before climbing back underground and vanishing. The incident happened at around 5:45pm at the Da Silvano restaurant and Bar Pitti restaurant. The suspect emerged from the grate that leads up from the subway system and threw the device, police said.
The bomb emitted red smoke when a suspect wearing an American flag T-shirt hurled it, police said. The manager at Bar Pitti said an employee grabbed the smoking device and tossed it back outside, at which point the suspect ducked back underground and disappeared. The incident brought the NYPD Bomb Squad to the scene, but no one was injured, police said.

“First thought was ISIS with everything going on. It’s scary. It’s nerve-wracking, as a native Long Islander coming to the city for dinner with friends and family,” said tourist Kay Maygothling. “I’m glad I didn’t bring my daughter.” Hours after the incident, restaurant customers filled the sidewalk café once more, under the watchful eye of a lone police officer.

Some of them joked about what might have been behind the bizarre incident. “It’s New York. We have troglodytes,” said Manhattan resident Hal Hayes. “They live down in the tunnels. They come out when they need some air.” It was not known whether the smoke bomb incident was a statement, a warning, or something to do with the restaurant business. Police said it was not related to terrorism. The suspect, who is described as a white male approximately 20 years old with blond wavy hair, remains on the loose.

Police used pepper spray to control women in hair weave melee

A sale on hair extensions at a beauty supply store in Orlando, Florida, got out of hand on Friday and forced police officers to use pepper spray to control shoppers, Orlando police said. Beauty Exchange, which opened about three months ago, was having one in a series of grand opening sales, manager Zaid Muhsen said. The first 50 customers of the day could get a bundle of hair for extensions or a weave worth $50 to $100 for one penny, he said.

The store has had similar one-penny deals before, Muhsen said, and while they usually draw a crowd, customers usually stay orderly. When Muhsen arrived at his store five minutes before the 9am opening, there were already shoppers waiting at the door, he said. "Hundreds of people," he said. "Hundreds. I'm not sure – 400, 500." The store's two security guards tried to keep the customers in line, and allow only 10 people in at a time, Muhsen said.
But shoppers did not listen to them, and eight police officers arrived to help with crowd control, Muhsen said. "The police tried to hold them up, they pushed the police, the police got mad. It started getting outta control, and then they [police] pepper sprayed," Muhsen said. Two of the officers aimed pepper spray over the heads of customers, who immediately scattered, Muhsen said. Sgt. Lovetta Quinn-Henry, an Orlando police spokeswoman, said the officers' conduct is being reviewed "to make sure everything was within OPD policy."

"What is most important is peace was restored, no one was injured or arrested," she said. Muhsen said he wished police did not use pepper spray on his customers. "When the police were saying everybody leave, everybody leave, I got a little upset. Because I'm doing this for the community, I'm doing this for my customers, and I don't want my customers to leave," Muhsen said. Still, Muhsen said he is not angry at officers. "They were doing their job, the police."
There's a news video here.

Teenager killed by bus in zombie maze

A teenager who was role-playing as a zombie has been run over and killed by a bus carrying paintballers inside an Idaho corn maze.
Jeremy T McSpadden Jr, 18, of Spokane Valley, Washington, stumbled, fell and was run over under the rear passenger wheel of a bus which was part of a “Zombie Slayer Bus Ride” held at the Incredible Corn Maze in Hauser, Idaho. “Many of the patrons believed it was just part of the ride,” said a release from the Kootenai County sheriff’s office.
“It was not until the bus had traveled away from the victim’s location and the role players began to reset for the next bus to come along that anyone realized something was wrong.” McSpadden was likely killed instantly when he was run over at about 10.30pm on Friday. Officials do not believe alcohol or speed were factors.
The bus was “creeping along”, witnesses said, at a speed not registered on the speedometer. “The focus of the attraction is the bus creeps forward so the customers have plenty of opportunity to blast away at the zombies,” Sergeant Crawford Ward said. “This looks like it was just a horrific confluence of events.” The Zombie Slayer Bus Ride was added to the Incredible Corn Maze this year.

Drunken hovercraft pilot jailed

A hovercraft pilot who transported passengers across the Solent while nearly three times the legal alcohol limit has been jailed for eight months. A colleague had to take the controls when Richard Pease collapsed after missing the landing pad at Ryde on the Isle of Wight on 22 June.
The craft was carrying 36 passengers at the time. It had previously taken 95 passengers to Southsea in Hampshire. Pease, 50, of Northwood on the island, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing. Newport Crown Court heard a colleague on the Freedom 90 craft noticed Pease's reaction time was slow during the crossing and that he failed to carry out a manoeuvre properly when the hovercraft came across a tanker.

When Pease was asked if he was okay following the failed landing, the court heard he gave no positive response, his head dropped and his body went limp in the chair. A colleague had to take the controls, releasing air, and making the craft safe. Another pilot then boarded to land it safely. When Pease was breath tested, some six hours later, he was nearly three times the legal limit.
Pease, one of Hovertravel's most experienced pilots, admitted a charge of being master of a hovercraft having consumed excess alcohol. Sentencing Pease, who has admitted to having a past dependency on alcohol, Judge Susan Evans QC said: "It's tragic that someone of your standing and with such an impressive past career should have destroyed all of that in one day. It was an appalling breach of your duty. Your actions could have resulted in tragedy but fortunately they did not."

Random Celebrity Photos


You know who it is…

American Warplane’s Forgotten Nazi Past

The A-10 has been the favorite plane of American grunts for decades. But it was one of America’s most fearsome enemies who helped inspire the design of the so-called Warthog.

The U.S. Air Force’s A-10 is an ugly, low-flying, slow-moving beast of an aircraft known affectionately by the troops as the Warthog. But even as the flying tank gets ready to shred ISIS terrorists to pieces over Iraq and Syria with its massive 30mm cannon—firing depleted uranium shells the size of a Coke bottle—it hides a dark secret: an unrepentant Nazi fighter pilot helped to develop the ungainly warplane.
Engineer Pierre Sprey, a former Pentagon procurement official who helped design the A-10, confirmed that none other than legendary Luftwaffe Colonel Hans-Ulrich Rudel was consulted to develop the Warthog.
“While we were readying the airplane and gun for full scale production, the 30mm gun program manager, Col. Robert Dilger, invited Rudel to lead a symposium in DC attended by several hundred engineers, analysts, tacticians and intel types on all aspects of CAS [close air support] operations in combat,” Sprey told the Daily Beast. “For lots of them it was eye-opening. I translated for Rudel who spoke very little English.”
Rudel was the Nazi-era Wehrmacht’s (which included the Heer, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe) most highly decorated officer and the only man to have been awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. During his wartime career, Rudel flew over 2,530 combat sorties over the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union and amassed a combat record of over 2,000 targets destroyed--800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, nine aircraft, four armored trains, several bridges, a destroyer, two cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat.
“Rudel was certainly the expert on killing Soviet tanks, 519 of them. But he was also brilliant on tactics—both ground and air—training, C3 [Command, Control & Communication], reconnaissance and squadron leadership,” Sprey said. “During our concept design phase, I required every member of the team to read Stuka Pilot, Rudel's superbly detailed recounting of his combat experiences, in order to understand the most crucial combat effectiveness characteristics of a CAS fighter.”
During his wartime career, Rudel flew over 2,530 combat sorties and amassed a combat record of over 2,000 targets destroyed--800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, nine aircraft, four armored trains, several bridges, a destroyer, two cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat.
Indeed, many of the characteristics of the Warthog, which is a darling of ground troops fighting in close proximity to enemy forces, were directly influenced by Rudel’s experience flying the Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive-bomber and the ground-attack version of the Focke-Wulf 190D-9 fighter against the Soviet Red Army.
“The book most certainly influenced me, particularly regarding how critical it was to incorporate in any effective CAS design such things as cockpit armor, fire suppression, need for ultra-tight turn radius maneuvering performance, ability to fly under 500ft weather, getting 3-5 sorties per day per plane, large caliber cannon, ability to move a squadron overnight, and ability to operate sustainably from unprepared fields--grass, dirt, mud, gravel, etc,” Sprey said in an email.
However, as good a fighter pilot as Rudel was, it is an undeniable fact the he was an unrepentant Nazi and devotee of Adolf Hitler. After, the war Rudel—who became a relatively successful businessman--continued to advocate for the Third Reich and its genocidal, racist policies. One example of that: Rudel was a prominent member of the neo-Nazi German Reich Party from 1953 onward.
Others within the U.S. Air Force dismiss Rudel’s impact on the A-10 design. “Frankly, I’m not sure why he would be consulted, Rudel was a statistical outlier in life-expectancy for ground-attack pilots in the Luftwaffe,” one Air Force official said.
Further, the Air Force official poured some cold water on the legacy of the Warthog—despite its popularity with the ground troops. “There is so much myth and half-truth wrapped around the A-10,” the official said.
It’s a common sentiment in some corners of the Air Force, which has been looking to jettison the A-10 for decades. The Air Force wants to replace the Warthog because the jet would be hopelessly vulnerable against a modern enemy like China or Russia even if the aircraft can handle itself against relatively primitive enemies in Iraq or Syria. Instead of the slow-moving, low-flying A-10, the Air Force would prefer to use the stealthy $400 billion F-35 stealth fighter for future wars. Thus far, Congress has prevented the service from putting the Warthog out to pasture.
The Air Force has some valid reasons for its view. One example cited by the Air Force official was the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria. The official pointed out that low and slow flying ground attack planes directly supporting the ground infantry were easy prey to even 1970s-era Russian-built surface-to-air missiles. “One inconvenient aspect of the A-10 is how its proponents often overlook the impact of the Yom Kippur War on the idea of CAS in a near-peer environment,” the Air Force official said—near-peer being a military jargon for well-equipped and trained forces like those of Russia or China.
Israel’s losses during the Yom Kippur led the U.S. government to begin a frantic effort to replace the planes that were mercilessly shot out of the sky. Instead of using slow, low flying planes to support ground troops Israel began deploying the supersonic Mach 2-capable F-4 Phantom II for that role. “Yom Kippur lead to Operation Nickel Grass in which the U.S. replaced nearly half of Israel’s ‘low and slow’ CAS capability destroyed by SA-6 [surface-air-missiles], which didn’t change the fact that the IDF [Israel Defense Force] had already switched to ‘fast-CAS’ with the F-4 in response.”
Even to this day, Israel uses fast sophisticated supersonic fighters like the F-15 and F-16 to support its ground forces—just like the majority of the U.S. Air Force’s missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the service often uses everything including B-1 and B-52 bombers to F-15E Strike Eagle fighters to support ground forces, the official said.
The Air Force, the official said, does not “hate” the Warthog as many critics have charged. The service is “being prudently skeptical about the resiliency of an aircraft merely designed to suffer ZSU-23 [radar-guided anti-aircraft guns] and SA-7 [shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile] threats,” the Air Force official said.
Simply put, the Air Force does not believe that an aircraft like the A-10, which was designed to survive in an era before long-range, high performance guided missiles were commonplace, can survive during future conflicts.
The Air Force official reiterated that modern enemy missiles are far more deadly than the weapons the A-10 was designed to face. “SA-6s are the least of our concerns for CAS in the modern age of surface-to-air missile system proliferation,” the official said.
Proponents of the Warthog, however, argue that the aging plane has no equal in supporting troops on the ground. “You've got a purpose-built airplane with the survivability, firepower and loiter time to cripple ISIS mobility,” said one veteran former U.S. Army Apache gunship aviator. Yes, the plane is vulnerable to ground fire. But it’s also super tough. “There's the survivability to take into account, too, which negates a lot of that vulnerability.”

'Flying Coffin'

A wreck of a U.S. World War II plane found in Italy brings back a forgotten story of death and survival.

Fossilized Bladder Stone

It may look innocuous now, but the little stone may have killed someone 700 years ago. 

The Pentagon On Climate Change

Global warming poses immediate risks to U.S. national security, the Pentagon warned on Monday. 

Asian Glacier Expansion

Seasonal snowfall explains how some Asian glaciers are expanding even in a warming world.

Icebergs Sailed to Florida on Ice Age Floods

Icebergs Sailed to Florida on Ice Age Floods
Iceberg scours offshore South Carolina.
Imagine icebergs as tall as the Eiffel Tower silently drifting by Florida's balmy beaches.
Add a few braying walruses, and mammoths grazing nearby on a broad coastal plain, and there's Ice Age Florida for you. And believe it or not, the icebergs are among the most indisputable parts of this picture.
During the last Ice Age, massive chunks of ice plowed deep grooves and furrows into the Atlantic seafloor from South Carolina to southern Florida. Named keel scours, after the V-shaped structures on boats, the features record the passage of massive glacial floods unleashed from Canada, according to a study published today (Oct. 12) in the journal Nature Geoscience. The far-traveled flood-waters suggest future ice sheet melting may be more complex than previously thought, the researchers said.
"We can't simply make the assumption that all of the cold, fresh water from ice sheet melting stays in the North Atlantic. Our results show that smaller, coastal currents can be very effective at redistributing this fresh water and impacting a much larger area," said lead study author Jenna Hill, a geologist at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.
The icebergs likely came from one of the huge glacial lakes, such as Lake Agassiz, that flooded northern North America during the ice ages. Now vanished, Lake Agassiz was once as big as the Caspian Sea. Several large lakes existat any one time during the period when ice sheets were at their peak, between 22,000 and 12,000 years ago. Ice dams walled off these glacial lakes from the ocean. When the dams collapsed, catastrophic floods of frigid freshwater spilled into the North Atlantic via the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Hudson Bay, carrying an enormous armada of icebergs.
When the huge floodwater pulse reached the North Atlantic, the cold, fresh water sat on top of hotter, salty water, forcing the latter to sink, scientists think. This shut down the ocean's natural currents, which keep the northern hemisphere warm. The rapid shift triggered a long cold snap.
Climate and currents
But the discovery of icebergs in Florida suggests not all of the ice age flood-waters went east. Some of the icy overflow headed south, beating back the warm Gulf Stream and insulating the icebergs on their journey southward.
"Previous research would have suggested the melt-water would have gone much further north, so people weren't expecting the subtropics to become fresher," said study co-author Alan Condron, an oceanographer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. "This actually has enormous implications for that model and for what triggers climate change."
Condron's detailed models of ocean currents off the shores of North America suggest the glacial floods could have carried icebergs from Canada south to Florida in as little as four months. This southward flow may have temporarily shut down the Gulf Stream, the current that warms the East Coast and Europe.
The iceberg scours match up with the modeling: The southwest-trending furrows indicates the icebergs drifted opposite the direction of the Gulf Stream current. The size and shape of the features also rule out other causes, such as river channels or trawling by fishing boats.
Hill discovered the scours off the coast of South Carolina, about 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) south of North America's giant Ice Age glaciers. The marks were found as far south as the tip of Florida, more than 3,100 miles (5,000 km) away from Hudson Bay. The furrows are beneath 500 to 660 feet (152 meters to 201 m) of water, because sea level is much higher today than it was during the glacial period.
The scour marks are each as long as a football field and as wide as a city bus is long, measuring about 360 feet (109 m) long and 30 feet (9 m) wide. They are up to 30 feet (9 m) deep. Some sets of marks can be traced for more than 18 miles (30 km). The marks' huge size implies that the icebergs were 100 feet (30 m) tall by the time they sailed past Florida, the researchers said.
As the icebergs neared the end of their journey, some hit shallow ground and got stuck, leaving behind a series of circular pits. The hunks of ice would melt, float forward, get stuck again and then repeat the cycle, like a giant, gleaming-white pogo stick.
Hill said the icebergs may also have had a more local effect on Earth's landscape. Many of the places where she found seafloor iceberg scours are now rich habitats for deep water corals, fish and other marine organisms. "I have wondered if these corals were living there when the icebergs came through or if the iceberg scour grooves have helped shape the habitat in some way," she said.

Woman called police about angry iguana

A woman staying at a resort in Key West, Florida, was bitten by an iguana on Wednesday night. But the reptile nipped her toe because she harassed the iguana to the point of angering it, according to a city Police Department report.
It's not clear who called police to the Coconut Mallory Resort, but Amy Russell, 39, reportedly from Alabama, told police the iguana bit her toe and she feared contracting salmonella.
Most iguanas are wild and the resort doesn't own the "bright green medium-sized iguana," Officer Brenda Sellers wrote in her report. Also, iguanas generally stay away from humans and rarely bite.
Sellers said that Russell, upon showing her toe with "bright red toenail polish, was squeezing her toe like she was trying to make it look red." But the officer wrote "no injury was visible." Two other women at the resort told Sellers that Russell was "pushing her foot towards the iguana, antagonizing it."

Fungus Discovered in Rainforest Capable Of Eating Plastic Pollution

http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/garbage-patch2.jpg One of the biggest problems facing the earth, plastic pollution, could soon meet its match if students at Yale University are able to breed a recently discovered plastic-eating fungus on a large scale.
Plastic pollution, exemplified by the giant floating island of trash the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean, is highly detrimental to the world’s ecosystem because it breaks down extremely slow. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, plastic doesn’t actually biodegrade:
Plastics do not biodegrade, although, under the influence of solar UV radiations, plastics do degrade and fragment into small particles, termed microplastics.”
This presents humans with a challenge that must soon be met, considering much of our plastic trash ends up in the ocean where it breaks down into toxic microplastics, winding up in sea life. Not only is this dangerous to the sea life, but it’s also dangerous to people because we end up consuming these very fish which we are poisoning with our trash.
Many groups and organizations have been formed to clean up plastic that ends up washing ashore on our beaches, but the vast majority of plastic pollution ends up in the ocean. The planet has a growing addiction to cheap and industrious plastic, increasing in use exponentially every year with no end in sight.
This is why the discovery of plastic-eating fungus is so exciting. According to Inhabitat,
On an expedition to the rainforest of Ecuador, students from Yale’s Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry discovered a previously unknown fungus that has a healthy appetite for polyurethane. According to Fast Company, the fungus is the first one that is known to survive on polyurethane alone, and it can do so in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, which suggests that it could be used at the bottom of landfills.
The discovery was published in the scientific journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Researchers were also able to isolate the enzyme responsible for decomposing the plastic.
It isn’t exactly clear how this fungus will be implemented in bioremediation, but one can picture floating plastic islands covered in mushrooms which will eat the entire trash pile then sink into the ocean.
It’s also important to wean ourselves away from petroleum based plastics because they require many resources just to manufacture, and pollution doesn’t start or end with the trash in the gutter. Many other sustainable options are available which could used instead, like hemp based or other plant based plastics.

Backpacker returned home from Vietnam with three-inch leech living up her nose

A backpacker has told how she returned home from Vietnam with three-inch leech up her nose. Daniela Liverani was traveling around south-east Asia when she started suffering persistent nosebleeds. The 24-year-old assumed it was nothing more than a burst blood vessel. Days later, after she returned home to Edinburgh, she spotted something poking out from her right nostril and thought it was just a blood clot. But last week, she was rushed into A&E at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary after discovering a leech had been living in her nose for a month. Daniela, originally from Glasgow, said: “About two weeks before I came home from Asia, I started having nosebleeds.
“I’d fallen off a motorbike just before they started so at first I thought I must have burst a blood vessel. After I got home, the nosebleeds stopped and I started seeing something sticking out of my nostril. I just thought it was congealed blood from the nosebleeds.” Even when the leech started to make its way out of her nose, Daniela still thought it was a blood clot. She said: “I saw him so many times but I just sniffed him back up. I tried to blow him out and grab him but I couldn’t get a grip of him before he retreated back up my nose. When I was in the shower, he would come right out as far as my bottom lip and I could see him sticking out the bottom of my nose. So when that happened last Thursday, I jumped out of the shower to look really closely in the mirror and I saw ridges on him.
“That’s when I realized he was an animal. My friend Jenny and I called NHS 24 and were told to get to accident and emergency as soon as possible.” Daniela was whisked into a treatment room where a nurse and doctor examined her nose using a torch, forceps and tweezers. She said: “The staff were horrified. The doctor used a nose forceps to pry my nostrils open really wide – it was agony. The nurse and Jenny pinned me down to the bed. Whenever the doctor grabbed him, I could feel tugging at the inside of my nose. Then all of a sudden, after about half an hour, the pain stopped and the doctor had the leech in the tweezers. He was about as long as my forefinger but as fat as my thumb. He could move so fast as well, which freaked me out.
“I’ve no idea how he got up there but he’d have got bigger and bigger from feeding on my blood. He had been curled up in a big ball, using my nostril as a little nest, so Jenny and I called him Mr Curly. At one point, I could feel him up at my eyebrow. I asked the doctor what would’ve happened if I hadn’t gone to hospital and she said he’d probably have worked his way into my brain.” Mark Siddal, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and an expert on leeches said: “Daniela could have picked up this leech from water in Vietnam, if she had been swimming. Or it could have gone in through her mouth, as she was drinking water. Even though it was there for around a month, these leeches don’t grow all that quickly, so it wouldn’t have been much smaller when it went up there. It would have been quite sizable. It’s interesting that people don’t feel these leeches go up their nose.”

An American Intruder Lurks In Scottish Streams, Clawed And Hungry

In the northwestern United States, this crayfish would be just a friendly bit of local fauna. But in Scotland, it's an invasive species wreaking havoc on trout streams. 
In the northwestern United States, this crayfish would be just a friendly bit of local fauna. But in Scotland, it's an invasive species wreaking havoc on trout streams. 
Forget Nessie: there's another insidious creature living in the waters of Scotland.
The story starts in the streams and lakes of the northwestern United States, where North American signal crayfish are a familiar sight. Turn over a rock and you may well encounter one.
But in Scottish streams and lochs, these creatures are intruders.
In the United States, we often hear about invasive Asian carp, zebra mussels or snakehead fish from China that take over American waterways. It's a two-way street: American species are causing chaos in other parts of the world, too.
And in Scottish waters, home to prize-winning trout, American crayfish may be destroying the catch.
'Hundreds And Hundreds And Hundreds Of Them'
Allen Pleus, with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Washington State, says that the signal crayfish is an important species in his region. It's the only native crayfish species, and the freshwater crustaceans are are just another part of the ecosystem.
"They play well with others," he says. "They've learned to be good neighbors with the other native species."
They eat aquatic insects and larvae; raccoons and herons, in turn, eat them. The system works.
But those same crayfish wreak havoc in Scottish waters like Clyde's Burn — a stream in Scotland where anglers from all over the world come to fish.
Matt Mitchell has been casting his line into these waters for about 40 years. "This area is probably, if not the best, certainly one of the best trout fisheries in the world," he says.
North American signal crayfish were introduced into England and have made their way north to Scotland.
North American signal crayfish were introduced into England and have made their way north to Scotland.
One day Mitchell got a call from an angler friend. The conversation changed Mitchell's life.
"He phoned me and said, 'I think we have a problem. You'd better come look at this,' " Mitchell says.
He jumped in the car and headed to the river.
"I could not believe the number of crayfish that were in this part of the river," he says. "You could literally walk across the river standing on crayfish. You couldn't walk without standing on a crayfish, they were so numerous!"
The North American signal crayfish, which had been introduced to English waters decades ago and spread steadily north, were taking over.
"What we did initially was just hand-catch them," Mitchell says, "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them."
There was some pinching involved. "I'll not repeat what the language was like," Mitchell says. "But they were big animals. I mean, some of these things were about 10, 12 inches long."
At that size, they don't even look like crayfish; they look like lobsters. Animals that big, Mitchell says, are more than a decade old; he guesses they've been in the river for 12 years.
No Trout Food, No Trout
The problem isn't just the size or quantity of the intruders; it's that the signal crayfish eat the same insects and larvae as the prize-winning trout that are native to these streams.
Mitchell's colleague Ian Miller is the man who first placed that concerned phone call from the Clyde Burn all those years ago; Mitchell calls him the best Clyde angler alive.
With the arrival of the crayfish, Miller says, "Stoneflies are gone — basically wiped off the face of the Earth."
That's a problem, because stoneflies are an important food for the fish. No trout food means no trout.
At the river, Miller pulls up a trap from the water to demonstrate. The plastic cage is alive with crawling, clacking crayfish — about a dozen of them, dark reddish-brown with giant claws, climbing all over each other inside the trap.
Crayfish like these can be a delicacy, but Scotland has decided that encouraging people to eat them would just create a market and make people spread them more widely.
As a result, anyone who pulls crayfish out of a Scottish river is legally required to kill them. The quickest way, Ian says, is to stomp them beneath a boot.
Fighting Invaders In Home Territory
Allen Pleus, the naturalist back in the Pacific Northwest, commiserates with the Scottish anglers.
Turns out, Washington State is struggling with a similar problem.
"Unfortunately, we now have our own invasive-species crayfish in this area — mostly red swamp crayfish from the southern United States," he says.
That's right. At the same time that the North American signal crayfish are taking over rivers and streams in Scotland, they're being crowded out of rivers and streams in their native habitat by other invasive crayfish — interlopers from Louisiana.
And those signal crayfish that are dominating streams in Scotland? In America, Pleus says, "They're considered wimpy in some cases — that they don't put up enough of a fight with these non-native species."
The serpent — or in this case, the crayfish — eats its tail.