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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Daily Drift

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

 Art ... !
Today is  - International Artists Day 
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Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Joliette, Quebec, Oakridge and North York, Canada
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Goleta, Athol, Largo, Corvalis, Biloxi and Kokomo, United States
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Boaco, Nicaragua
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The Bottom, Sint Eustatius-Saba
Kista, Sweden
Treviso, Ravenna, Naples, Milan, Campelle Sul Clitunno and Turin, Italy
Cacem and Moscavide, Portugal
Schwarzach, Austria
Ankara, Turkey
Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Luts'k, Ukraine
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Kermanshah, New Delhi, Kolkata, Gurgaon, Jodhpur and Sri Karanpur,  India
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Singapore, Singapore
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Lagos, Nigeria
Sandton, South Africa
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The Pacific
Homebush, Australia
Makati, Philippines

Today in History

1415 An English army under Henry V defeats the French at Agincourt, France. The French had out numbered Henry's troops 60,000 to 12,000 but British longbows turned the tide of the battle.
1760 George III of England crowned.
1854 During the Crimean War, a brigade of British light infantry is destroyed by Russian artillery as they charge down a narrow corridor in full view of the Russians.
1916 German pilot Rudolf von Eschwege shoots down his first enemy plane, a Nieuport 12 of the Royal Naval Air Service over Bulgaria.
1923 The Teapot Dome scandal comes to public attention as Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, subcommittee chairman, reveals the findings of the past 18 months of investigation. His case will result in the conviction of Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, and later Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall, the first cabinet member in American history to go to jail. The scandal, named for the Teapot Dome oil reserves in Wyoming, involved Fall secretly leasing naval oil reserve lands to private companies.
1940 German troops capture Kharkov and launch a new drive toward Moscow.
1944 The Japanese are defeated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the world's largest sea engagement. From this point on, the depleted Japanese Navy increasingly resorts to the suicidal attacks of Kamikaze fighters.
1950 Chinese Communist Forces launch their first-phase offensive across the Yalu River into North Korea.
1951 In a general election, England's Labour Party loses to Conservatives. Winston Churchill becomes prime minister, and Anthony Eden becomes foreign secretary.
1954 President Eisenhower conducts the first televised Cabinet meeting.
1958 The last U.S. troops leave Beirut.
1960 Martin Luther King, Jr., is sentenced to four months in jail for a sit-in.
1962 Adlai Stevenson shows photos to the UN Security Council that prove Soviet missiles have been installed in Cuba.
1962 In South Africa, civil rights activist Nelson Mandela is sentenced to 5 years in prison.
1971 United Nations expels the Republic of China and seats the People's Republic of China.
1983 1,800 U.S. troops and 300 Caribbean troops land on Grenada. U.S. forces soon turn up evidence of a strong Cuban and Soviet presence–large stores of arms and documents suggesting close links to Cuba.
1991 The last soldiers of the Yugoslav People's Army leaves the Republic of Slovenia.
2009 Terrorist bombings in Baghdad kill over 150 and wound over 700.

This Dilapidated, Spooky Mansion Sold for One Dollar

This Louisvile, Kentucky building called the Ouerbacker Mansion, after its coffee magnate owner Samuel Ouerbacker, was built in 1860. The  Romanesque structure in the once trendy Russell neighborhood is now boarded up, crumbling and has no intact windows.
After Ouerbacker's death in 1922, Reverend George Clement, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, purchased the mansion and lived there through the 1930s. Then in a neighborhood that was no longer fashionable, a tax business bought the mansion next, only using the first floor.
By the year 2005, the once palatial home had been abandoned and was in a state of disrepair. The city then took over the house. That year, part of the building collapsed, and the city sunk approximately $100,000 into the structure to stabilize it.
Earlier in 2014, a company called Oracle Design bought the mansion for one dollar. Oracle plans to restore the structure and convert it into apartments. One can see from the pictures that Oracle not only has their work cut out for them, but if they restore the mansion's once grand architectural details, it should make for some beautiful real estate, even when divided.
See more pictures and learn more about the mansion here.

Creepy Crawlies of the Nikon Small World 2014 Competition

Just in time for Halloween, we’ve got some teeny tiny horrors that would make your skin crawl… if they were large enough to see, that is! We're talking about the images in the category of Creepy Crawlies from the Nikon Small World 2014 microphotography competition. Go on, take a peek, they won't hurt you!
See more featured images over at Spotlight

Society of Biology's Best Biology Photographs of 2014

The London-based Society of Biology recently announced their top picks for best biology photographs of 2014. The competition is for amateur photographers. The theme for 2014 was "Home, Habitat, and Shelter." Winning photographs were selected from approximately 800 entries. 
See all the winning photographs at the Society of Biology site.

Photographer’s Notebook Found in Melting Antarctic Ice

A notebook belonging to George Murray Levick has been recovered from the melting snow and ice at Captain Scott’s 1910-1913 expedition base at Cape Evans, Antarctica, by New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust. According to The Guardian, Levick used the “Wellcome Photographic Exposure Record and Diary 1910” at Cape Adare in 1911 to list dates, subjects, and exposure details for his photographs. “It’s an exciting find. The notebook is a missing part of the official expedition record. After spending seven years conserving Scott’s last expedition building and collection, we are delighted to still be finding new artifacts,” said Nigel Watson, Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Executive Director. The book’s binding had dissolved, so the pages were separated, conserved, and digitized before the book was sewn back together. The entries in the notebook have been linked to photographs held by the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. For more on photographs from another Antarctic expedition, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Photographs from Shackleton’s Expedition Developed."

Costco To Start Carrying 93 Inch Bear Next Month

As if walking out of Costco with your giant tub of mayo wasn't weird (yet practical) enough, now you might find yourself walking out of Costco with a bear that almost 100 inches tall. I know this is weird, but like, how can you even be mad? Those bears are going to make whoever gets them very happy (as long as they don't live in a studio apartment) and they are only $179.99.
I do realize one hundred eighty dollars may sound steep for a stuffed bear, but would you think that if said bear was being given to a sick child, or being used to re-conciliate a marriage?
If you look at it that way, that is quite reasonable, actually. And don't even act like your face wouldn't light up if someone got you one of those, because we all know it would. All of ours would.
That is what makes it so awesome.


The Wacky Czech Sport You've Probably Never Of
Woodkopf is a crazy new sport invented in the Czech Republic. The popular sport involves a pair of opponents wearing two-meter wooden boards on their heads and trying to knock the other's board down without dropping their own.
The wacky sport can be traced back to July of 1992, when it was practiced during a cultural festival of art school graduates in Prague. Woodkopf (which literally translates to 'wooden head') is popular partly due to the fact that the game is simple, inexpensive and requires no complex equipment, but also because it never fails to supply a good dose of humor.

Did you know ...

That marijuana growers are not necessarily good for the environment
That Dimbulb shown to be least reliable source of news
The census proves: Floridians are worse off than 5 years ago
That I hate i heart radio
About the tools of oppression in male-dominated societies
About the overpaid CEO
About Dinesh d'Souza, america's greatest troll
About the myth of homework
That big brother is watching you - through your metadata
That the NFL kept quiet about hundreds of domestic abuse cases
About the massive methane hotspot over 4 corners detected by satellite
About "homeland" and other un-American words
That the mysteries of inequality are mysterious only to the elite
And is you dentist ripping you off?
Ebola:  nurses are outraged by the blame game
That bears once roamed Manhattan in droves
That wingnuts suddenly are quoting unions
That sexual assault victims in Louisiana face hefty bills for medical care
And don't fall for the repugican cabal's over-the-counter contraceptive scam
Swatch inventor says Swiss watch industry missed the smart watch boat

Kay Hagan goes on NC First Tour While Desperate Thom Tillis Talks to An Empty Chair

Tillis and empty chair
While Kay Hagan spent Tuesday on a NC First tour meeting with diverse groups of voters across the state, a desperate Thom Tillis talked to a chair.
Senator Hagan spent her day meeting with voters.  She met with farmers at Sharp Farms to discuss job creation through the Farm Bill.  The Senator also spent some time listening to Military spouses in Spring Lake.  Hagan spent some time with Seniors.
According to the Times Union Tillis shared his views on issues that were discussed during the 3 debates that Hagan and Tillis agreed to back in July.  During his closing statement, Tillis said expressed his “disappointment” that Senator Hagan wasn’t there.
According to reports, Tillis complained to the chair about the fact that Senator Hagan was not at the “debate” several times even though he knew of Hagan’s decision back in July.
The “debate” was originally promoted as a debate between Tillis “and other candidates.”  However, Hagan was never going to be part of it and the Libertarian candidate, Sean Haugh, didn’t meet the 15% polling threshold that was required to participate in this “debate.”  So it was Tillis, a couple of reporters asking questions and an empty chair.
This is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s discussion with an empty chair at the repugican coven in 2012, and we all know how well that worked out.
Since Senator Hagan out performed Tillis in the three debates that were agreed upon, this was obviously a stunt by a man desperate to close the gender and youth gaps.
While Kay Hagan’s lead is steady but slim, Tillis has the largest gender deficit in the country.  According to the Public Policy Polling Senator Hagan has a 12% advantage over Tillis with women.  Hagan enjoys support from 61% of young voters, while Tillis has a paltry 27%.  Hagan’s support among African-Americans is 85%, while their support for Tillis is virtually non-existent at 4%.
Of course, Tillis’ war on women’s rights and his instrumental role in disenfranchising African Americans along with young voters with North Carolina’s vote suppression law probably had a lot to do with these numbers.  In the case of young voters, Tillis didn’t show any interest in wanting their votes until recently.
The fact is, Tillis’ lacks support from significant parts of North Carolina’s electorate because of policies that wage war on their rights, their interests and their concerns. Resorting to stunts like talking to an empty chair isn’t going to change that.

Texas Voter Turnout Was Higher On Its First Day of Early Voting Than It Was In 2010

Say no to vote suppression
Wendy Davis with help from groups that support her is leading the way in the people’s fight against vote suppression.
While Greg Abbott dedicates his efforts to disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in Texas, Wendy Davis is encouraging voters to exercise their franchise and Davis’ efforts are paying off.
Monday was the first day of early voting in Texas and according to figures released by the Secretary of State, voter turnout in the six largest counties were higher than the first day of early voting in 2010.
This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication by groups who support Wendy Davis. Led by Battleground Texas voter registration groups rolled up their sleeves and got to work registering millions of voters, many of whom are minorities. While Greg Abbott decided it better served his interests to disenfranchise these voters, Texans with the help of voter registration groups had a different idea.
So far, there have been no reports of problems at the polls.
No doubt, supporters of vote suppression laws will argue this proves that the laws in question do not and never were intended to suppress the vote. The fact is, people will be disenfranchised be it under the strictest voter ID law in the United States for reasons I and others have stated on numerous occasions.  While some states may offer “free voter ID” the costs involved in getting the documents needed to get that “free ID” still amount to an unaffordable poll tax.  Often repugicans will say the ID is “free” for people who can’t afford it, but fail to mention the costs that go with getting the ID needed to get the “free voter ID.”  Aside from the costs of those documents, it means taking time off work.  That means aside from the costs, voters are hit with the additional financial penalty of losing income.
The fact is, repugicans know it and some, are saying it.  Chris Christie said categorically that repugicans have to win gubernatorial elections so that they can control “voting mechanisms.”
Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?
Rick Scott, Scott Walker and John Kasich have all been before the courts defending “laws” that amount to perpetrating a fraud on the public under the pretense that they care about stopping election fraud.
The repugicans like to muddy the waters by suggesting that being a Republic and having honest, fair and open elections are mutually exclusive. The truth is that repugicans they are willing to throw free and fair elections under the bus because they can’t win by honest means.
It’s up to us to send repugicans a loud and clear message that rigging elections has consequences.  Stealing people’s votes will not be tolerated.
The groups led by Battleground Texas are showing us how it’s done.

Faux News Hacks Tell Young Women Not To Vote, Go Back To Tinder And Match.com

.....back to the 50's we go.... Instead of educating our youth, lets keep them in the dark and clueless.... Especially women... After all we are all brainless baby makers.... Talk about 3rd world ignorance! Please take these crack heads off TV..
by Catherine Taibi 
Faux News is discouraging young people from voting again, but this time the target is more specific: young women.
"The Five" co-hack Kimberly Guilfoyle said Tuesday that young women should excuse themselves from voting in the upcoming midterm elections because they don't share the same "life experience" as older women and should just go back to playing around on Tinder and Match.com.
"It's the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea," Guilfoyle said. "They don't get it!"
Earlier in the conversation, co-host Greg Gutfeld made the point that "with age comes wisdom" and the "older you get, the more wingnut you get."
In other words: "Hey kids! Hold off a little. You don't have to vote just yet. Wait until you're wingnut enough old enough!"
Guilfoyle agreed, suggesting that you can't cast an informed vote until you've gone through adult things, like paying the bills.
"They're [young women] like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world," she concluded. "They can go back on Tinder or Match.com."
On a previous episode in October, co-host Harris Faulkner also said that young people should stay away from the polls if they "don't know the issues." We've already explained why it's a terrible -- and illogical -- idea to convince young people not to vote. But driving young women away from the polls? Do we even have to get into why that's potentially one of the most damaging and regressive things that could happen to society?

Christie wants repugican cabal control over ‘voting mechanisms’

by Steve Benen
 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a news conference at Bristol-Myers Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University October 07, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. When it comes to repugican governors imposing harsh, new voting restrictions, New Jersey's Chris Christie (r) is hardly the first name that pops up. The repugican vetoed an early-voting bill last year, he’s offered some odd criticisms of same-day registration recently, and he played some shameless political games when scheduling his state’s U.S. Senate special election last year, but in general, Christie isn’t known for electoral mischief, at least not by contemporary repugican cabal sub-standards.
But that’s all the more reason to take note of Christie’s comments this week on “voting mechanisms.” The Bergen Record reported:
Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that repugicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling “voting mechanisms” going into the next presidential election.
Christie stressed the need to keep repugicans in charge of states – and overseeing state-level voting regulations – ahead of the next presidential election.
In remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey governor said, “Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?”
I’m not sure which is worse: the prospect of Christie making these remarks without thinking them through or Christie making these remarks because he’s already thought this through.
In theory, in a functioning democracy, control over “voting mechanisms” shouldn’t dictate election outcomes. Citizens consider the candidates, they cast their ballots, the ballots are counted, and the winner takes office. It’s supposed to be non-partisan – indeed, the oversight of the elections process must be professional and detached from politics in order to maintain the integrity of the system itself.
So what exactly is Chris Christie suggesting here?
One possible interpretation is that repugican thefts will lead to control over elections, which in turn will lead to more repugican thefts.  If this is what the governor meant, Christie is endorsing corruption.
A more charitable interpretation is that the governor thinks Democrats will try to cheat, so electing repugicans will ensure the proper “voting mechanisms.”
Still, political scientist Norm Ornstein paraphrased Christie’s comments this way: “How can we cheat on vote counts if we don’t control the governorships?”

Wingnut Filmmaker’s Attempt To Prove Voter Fraud In Colorado Blows Up In His Face

Wingnut agitator and professional troublemaker James O’Keefe released another one of his ‘blockbuster’ stings Wednesday that supposedly showed voter fraud in action in Colorado. The convicted criminal took his cameras to Colorado earlier this month in an attempt to expose Democrats taking part in voter fraud to assist Democratic candidates in the close races for Senate and Governor. While in O’Keefe’s deluded mind, and surely hard-core wingnuts’, he completely exposed voter fraud in action, the reality of the situation is he didn’t document one actual instance of voter fraud being committed.
In typical O’Keefe fashion, the self-proclaimed muckraker donned disguises and pretended to be a liberal activist while speaking with volunteers at liberal non-profit organizations who were working on voter registration and mobilization drives. In a few instances that he caught on video, he was able to convince some of these other activists that utilizing unused mailed ballots to vote for Democrats was a good idea. Colorado is one of three states that has an all mail-in voting system. O’Keefe presented various scenarios to the activists in the video where he’d be able to get a hold of unused ballots. He was able to get some of them to agree that it was a good idea.
In the end, this is really just a bunch of nothing. All O’Keefe was able to do was present strawman scenarios to a few people and get them to agree that they could potentially work. In the video, we see him state that he has a bunch of fraternity brothers that have moved out but they will receive their ballots because they didn’t change their addresses. He also pushed forward the idea of rummaging in the trash in historically low-turnout areas to find thrown out ballots to use and turn in. Overall, he ran with the long-held wingnut delusion that widespread voter fraud is unbelievably easy, especially with mailed ballots. In this case, he was able to videotape a few people agreeing with his stupid plans, though he didn’t film anyone taking part in anything illegal.
On Monday, Mother Jones ran a preemptive article which hamstrung O’Keefe’s upcoming ‘bombshell.’ In the piece, it was revealed that a number of Democratic staffers caught O’Keefe trying to catch them in a sting when he suggested running a voter fraud scheme to them. O’Keefe and his assistants ran the same scheme that you see in the video, bringing up ballots found in the trash or for college students who have moved off campus. However, O’Keefe and his helpers were turned away from the offices. O’Keefe was also caught trying to disguise himself and go back to the same office. O’Keefe was also turned away from a non-profit organization after he tried to prove that the organization was directly collaborating with Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign.
The repeated questions about submitting other people’s ballots led Democratic staffers to suspect they were being targeted. Later, the staffers viewed photos of O’Keefe—including one taken in Colorado showing O’Keefe sans mustache and sporting a Udall campaign sticker and a Women for Udall button—and they concluded that O’Keefe and the college professor were the same person. They also said the image O’Keefe tweeted of himself with a mustache matched the man who visited the Boulder office on Friday.
O’Keefe and two male colleagues also targeted a progressive nonprofit named New Era Colorado, according to New Era executive director Steve Fenberg. On Saturday, Fenberg says, O’Keefe and his friends contacted New Era’s Fort Collins office to set up an in-person meeting and identified themselves as activists affiliated with Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. The three men arrived carrying Udall campaign literature, Fenberg notes, but a New Era organizer met them outside the office’s front door and refused to let them enter with the Udall materials. Outside groups such as New Era cannot coordinate with political campaigns, and Fenberg says he believes O’Keefe and his collaborators “were trying to establish evidence we were working together.”
james o'keefe coloradoeditedWhen New Era’s staffers began taking pictures of O’Keefe (including the photo embedded at left), Fenberg says, O’Keefe and a colleague went to their car and returned with a large video camera and a microphone. “If you want to take photos of us, we’ll take photos of you,” O’Keefe said, according to Fenberg, and the New Era staffers closed the door while O’Keefe and his friend tried to push it open and stick their microphone inside. Fenberg says New Era filed a police report about the incident.
Mother Jones Editor David Corn needled O’Keefe on Monday when the MJ piece ran and again on Wednesday when O’Keefe’s video was published. O’Keefe had originally responded to Corn on Monday and claimed that Corn would end up with “egg all over [his] undercover-Polk-award winning face” after the video was released. On Wednesday, Corn was relentless with the Twitter attack on O’Keefe.
Game. Set. Match. I guess we should give him a little credit. At least this time, he didn’t don an Osama Bin Laden mask while attempting to prove islamic terrorists were crossing the Rio Grande and infiltrating America.

Driver with no use of his legs used walking stick to operate car's pedals

A man with no use of his legs has been caught driving in Auckland, New Zealand, using a walking stick to control the pedals, police say. Police criticized the disabled man for his "blatant disregard for his own safety" and charged him with dangerous driving.
The man was driving with one passenger who had no legs and another passenger who had a disqualified drivers license, they said. The man was pulled over in Manukau on Wednesday morning at an automatic number plate recognition checkpoint. Sergeant Mark Fleming described the offending as a "very unusual".
The man was driving a regular vehicle without hand controls, but was using a walking stick to operate the brake and accelerator, Fleming said. "Needless to say this was a very surprising thing to come across." The man has held a learner license since 2002. He also had two passengers, neither of whom were licensed to drive. Fleming said the man put himself and other road users in danger.
"Operating a vehicle with a stick is an extremely dangerous practice and it would be impossible to safely control a vehicle in this way." He said it was very disappointing to see that in spite of the efforts made by police there were still people out there who were taking these kinds of unnecessary risks with people's safety. The 31-year-old man is due to appear in the Manukau District Court next month.

Air Force member arrested after giving police officer a double wet Willy

An intoxicated member of the Air Force was arrested early on Saturday after he gave a Minnesota police officer a double “wet Willy.”
As a Mankato Department of Public Safety officer was speaking with a municipal bus driver at around 2:20am, the officer “felt two fingertips that were obvious to him as wet with saliva being pushed into his right and left ear canals,” according to a probable cause statement. The officer turned around and saw a tall white male walking away.
“I just gave the cop a wet Willie,” the suspect said as he joined a group of his friends. The officer confronted the man, later identified as Riley Swearingen, a 23-year-old who was home on leave from his post at North Carolina’s Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base. Swearingen told the officer that the “wet Willy” was a joke for which he was sorry.
Swearingen, who smelled of alcohol and appeared drunk, was then arrested. When asked what would happen if he gave a “wet Willy” to a military superior, Swearingen “admitted it would be a very big deal.” Swearingen was charged with felony assault on a police officer, misdemeanor assault, and disruptive intoxication. During a court appearance on Monday, Swearingen pleaded guilty to the drunk charge and was sentenced to the three days he had already spent in custody.

Uncle accused of stabbing nephew over pork chops

An argument over pork chops turned violent and bloody between relatives in Florida on Monday night. Fellsmere police arrested Billy Wall for stabbing his nephew with a butcher's knife two times in the abdomen.
The two were apparently arguing over how many pork chops each person would get to eat. Officers responded to the victim’s house just before eight o’clock. The victim, Charles Williams, came stumbling out the front door as police arrived. Wall was tracked down and arrested at his neighbors house a block away.
That neighbor, Carolyn Bibbs, said that Wall came to her door covered in blood and asking for a change of clothes. “He was drenched with blood because I seen it all down his leg,” Bibbs said. ”I ain’t givin’ him no clothes to put on.” Police said Wall claimed self-defense as he was being put in handcuffs. “He kept saying ‘I stabbed him’,” Bibbs said. “He say, ‘He try to get a machete at me and cut me with a machete and I stabbed him.”

Wall was arrested on aggravated battery charges. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office processed the scene and officers recovered the machete. The knife has yet to be recovered. Family members saidthat Williams had to undergo emergency surgery because of liver damage. Thankfully, the blade barely missed an artery and Williams is expected to survive, according to his family. The investigation remains active and additional charges may be filed, according to police.

The Man with the Golden Blood

Thomas has a very rare blood type, known as Rhnull. Rh negative blood is only missing the Rh D factor, while Rhnull blood is missing all 61 Rh antigens. There are only 43 people in the world known to have Rhnull blood. Thomas, and others with very rare blood types, are encouraged to donate blood so that it will be available for others with rare blood types who need it, but the logistics of distributing rare blood globally are extremely difficult. For example, a woman with a rare blood type in Nigeria needed heart surgery. The surgery wasn’t available in Nigeria. It would be too expensive in the U.S. The United Arab Emirates could do it, but the country had no blood of her type, and prohibits imported blood. Cameroon could do the surgery, but had no blood to match. Finally, the logistics were worked out to fly in six bags of blood from English donors. The surgery was successful.
The difficulty of shipping blood across international borders is such that it’s easier for donors like Thomas to travel internationally than to ship blood. But donors cannot be paid, even for their travel expenses. And what if the donors, who the world depends on, ever need blood themselves?   
Over tea, he described the impact of his blood on his life. As a child he couldn’t go to summer camp because his parents feared he might have an accident. As an adult he takes reasonable precautions: he drives carefully and doesn’t travel to countries without modern hospitals. He keeps a card from the French National Immunohematology Reference Laboratory in Paris, confirming his Rhnull blood type, in his wallet in case he is ever hospitalised. But one thing that is in his blood – and that of almost everyone growing up in the shadow of the Alps – is skiing. Abstaining seems to have been an option he never even considered.
Read about some extremely rare blood types, and the people who live with them, in a fascinating article at Mosaic.

Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer

walnutMissing Link Between Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in […]

This is NOT the skull of an extraterrestrial alien

An archaeological discovery of 13 Conehead-shaped skulls in Mexico has people recalling the famed Saturday Night Live sketch. The bones, which are about 1,000 years old, dating back to 945 A.D. to 1308 A.D., were discovered accidentally during a dig for an irrigation system in the northwest state of Sonora in Mexico. While it’s not unheard of for archaeological sites to be unearthed during modern excavations, the misshapen skulls discovered on the site are fairly uncommon, especially as far north as Sonora. “This was a Hispanic cemetery with 25 skulls, and 13 of them have deformed heads,” Cristina Garcia Moreno, who worked on the project with Arizona State University, told ABC News. “We don’t know why this population specifically deformed their heads.” Some news videos of the discovery have described the procedure of cranial deformation as a "rite of passage into adulthood," but clearly deformation to this degree has to be undertaken on a pliable skull of an infant.
There's more information at the Artificial Cranial Deformation page at Wikipedia, where I found the image at right ("Painting by Paul Kane, showing a Chinookan child in the process of having its head flattened, and an adult after the process") and these notes:
Early examples of intentional human cranial deformation predate written history and date back to 45,000 BC in Neanderthal skulls, and to the Proto-Neolithic Homo sapiens component (12th millennium BCE) from Shanidar Cave in Iraq.  It occurred among Neolithic peoples in SW Asia.  The earliest written record of cranial deformation dates to 400 BC in Hippocrates' description of the Macrocephali or Long-heads, who were named for their practice of cranial modification.
Reposted from 2012 to add information from a new BBC article about cranial modification in Australia:
...they owe their strange appearance not to the blind hand of evolution but to the guiding hand of humanity. Australia's ancient inhabitants were among the first in the world to deliberately transform the shape of their own skulls...

H. erectus had a wide skull and a small braincase, while the unusual Australian skulls are narrow and have large braincases, just like today’s humans do. This makes it highly unlikely that their flat foreheads were shaped by ancient H. erectus genes - and far more likely that they were actually sculpted by human hands...
The modern counterpart to this occurs when parents place babies on their backs to minimize the chances of SIDS:
Encouraging parents to routinely putting babies to sleep on their backs before their soft skulls harden led to a dramatic increase in cases of plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome. A study published last year found almost half of a sample of 440 healthy young babies attending two clinics in Calgary, Canada, showed signs of it.

The Stone Dolls Of Kuklica

The stone town is an area consisting of over 120 naturally formed stone pillars, located in the village of Kuklica, near Kratovo in Macedonia. Legend tells of a man who could not decide which of two women he should marry. So, the man planned to marry each woman on the same day at different times.
When the first wedding was in progress, the woman to marry the man second went to see who was getting married on the same day as she. When she saw her future husband marrying another woman, she cursed all in attendance at the wedding and turned them into stone.

Sun Unleashes Powerful X-Class Solar Flare

Sun Unleashes Powerful X-Class Solar Flare (Video, Photos)
A monster solar flare erupted early Sunday (Oct. 19) from a huge sunspot that may just be getting warmed up.
The sun fired off an X-class solar flare — the most powerful type — that peaked at 1:01 a.m. EDT (5:01 GMT) Sunday. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft captured photos and video of the intense sun storm, which researchers classified as an X1.1 flare.
The flare erupted from a sunspot called AR (Active Region) 2192, which has since grown to become 78,000 miles (125,000 kilometers) wide, according to Spaceweather.com — almost as big as the planet Jupiter.
"Since [Sunday's flare], the sunspot has almost doubled in size and developed an increasingly unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field," Spaceweather.com's Tony Phillips wrote in an update. "It would seem to be just a matter of time before another strong explosion occurs."
AR 2192 has been pointing away from Earth, so its outbursts to date have not affected the planet much. But that could change soon; the sunspot is now rotating around toward Earth, Phillips added.
Solar flares are bursts of energetic radiation that can cause temporary radio blackouts and affect the precision of GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite measurements. Scientists classify strong flares into three categories, with C being the weakest, M medium-strength and X the most powerful.
Flares are often accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), clouds of super-hot solar plasma that rocket through space at millions of miles per hour. Earth-directed CMEs can cause geomagnetic storms that can disrupt power grids and radio communications, and also amp up the beautiful auroral displays known as the northern and southern lights.
Sunday's flare was far from the strongest of the year; the sun blasted out an X4.9 flare in February. (X4 flares are four times more intense than X1 flares.)
The sun is currently near the peak of its 11-year activity cycle, which is known as Solar Cycle 24. But the current solar max is the weakest one in a century or so, scientists say.

When Earth's Largest Shark Disappeared

Giant, 60-foot-long (18 meters) Megalodon sharks used to lurk in the Earth's oceans, but while researchers are still unsure why these behemoths of the deep went extinct, scientists now have a better estimate for when it happened.
In a new study, researchers analyzed dozens of Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon) fossils, and now estimate that the ancient shark, the largest to ever live, likely went extinct about 2.6 million years ago.
This date falls on the border between the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs, right when baleen whales began growing to their modern-day gigantic sizes. The timing of the Megalodon's extinction makes sense, since these ancient sharks fed on marine mammals, including whales and dolphins, the researchers write in the paper. Without the presence of a predator, the baleen whale could flourish.
Megalodon's disappearance
It's difficult to pinpoint the exact date the Megalodon went extinct, because its fossil record is incomplete, the researchers said. Scientists have developed ways to determine the last appearance date of an animal, based on the most recent fossils it left behind. Most Megalodon fossils date back to the middle Miocene Epoch (15.9 million to 11.6 million years ago) and the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago). The researchers identified 42 of the most recent fossils after sorting through the Paleobiology Database – a large online compilation of fossil data.
The team used the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) technique to estimate when the Megalodon died out. But applying this technique to the fossil record can be tricky, the researchers said. Each of the 42 fossils is entered into the database with an upper and lower date estimate for when it appeared. The researchers ran 10,000 simulations, and each simulation selected a date for each fossil somewhere between the upper and lower boundary.
The technique examines the spacing between the fossil dates, said Chris Clements, a research assistant at the University of Zurich, who worked on the study.
"Based on the distribution of those gaps and how those gaps change, it will then infer the point in time where that species can be considered to be extinct," Clements told Live Science.
The technique doesn't pinpoint the exact date when a species went extinct, but instead gives the date by which, statistically, it can be assumed that a species has gone extinct, Clements said.
"We get 10,000 estimates for the time the species has gone extinct by, and then we look at the distribution of those estimates through time," Clements said.
The idea is to identify the point where most of the estimates cluster. The results for the Megalodon fossils placed that point for this species at 2.6 million years ago.
Megalodon is definitely extinct
Six of the 10,000 simulations place the giant shark's extinction beyond the present day, suggesting the species could still be alive. However, since 99.9 percent of the simulations suggest the species is long gone, the researchers wrote in the new study that they reject "the popular claims of present-day survival of C. megalodon."
Those six estimates past the present day come from the uncertainty in the fossil record dates, Clements said. Among the 10,000 simulations, there are a few that end up with such widely spread fossil dates that the estimated time of extinction is projected to be close to or past the present day.
"It definitely doesn't mean that the species is still alive," Clements said.
The Discovery Channel's wildly popular Shark Week programming perpetuated the idea that the Megalodon could still exist. The series kicked off last year with a documentary-style special called "Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives," which the network followed up this year with a feature called "Megalodon: The New Evidence."
However, marine scientists agree that the shark is long gone. After this year's Shark Week, David Shiffman, a graduate student at the University of Miami who has become a social media authority on sharks, wrote in a Slate.com blog post that "there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that these sharks are extinct and have been for millions of years. If a 50-foot-long predator that fed on surface animals and lived in coastal environments were still around, someone would have found evidence of this by now." 
The new findings are published online today (Oct. 22) in the journal PLOS ONE.

How A Single Parasite Species Can Change Every Life-Form Around It

Parasites are nature's freeloaders, living off their hosts while giving nothing in return. But scientists have come to appreciate that even the greediest parasites can indirectly benefit other species by manipulating ecosystems - providing food, assisting predators and even building habitats.
But how could organisms as small and selfish as parasites have a similarly significant impact on their surrounding environments? Frequently, they do so through the manipulation of other, larger species.

Man bitten despite attempting the ‘stand still snake trick’

Jono Roberts from New South Wales in Australia thought he was doing the right thing by standing still as a snake approached him.
According to most sources, standing still is the appropriate course of action in a snake encounter.
However, as Mr Roberts discovered - it can still end in a snake attack. Mr Roberts said he tried the 'old stand still trick.' “Always show respect and never get too complacent.”
Unfortunately for Mr Roberts, the snake did not feel respected enough, or maybe had not read up on the appropriate protocols for man/snake encounters.

Bear cub went for a stroll around pharmacy

Shoppers at a southern Oregon pharmacy were surprised when a brown bear cub walked into the store. Luckily, they had the cell phone cameras rolling as the bear cub was captured wandering the halls of an Ashland, Oregon Rite Aid on Sunday afternoon.
But the quick stop at the drug store was apparently just part of the little guy’s adventure that day. The bear first wandered into Ashland that morning and made his way into a nearby Super 8 motel.
After roaming the halls and entering one of the rooms, the cub jumped through one of the windows and made his way across the street and into the Rite Aid. That’s when Robin Bishop, one of the shoppers at the drug store chain, whipped out her cell phone and started recording.

After several minutes, police were able to capture the curious cub – ironically, under a shopping basket. The bear is now under the care of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Because of its close contact with humans, the cub can no longer be released into the wild, so they’re looking at options for caring for the bear, including a rehab center or a zoo.

Mountain Goats Are Shrinking - A Lot - Because of Global Warming

Chamois goats in the Italian Alps have gotten smaller over the past few decades.
A photo of a mountain goat on a slope in Italy.
Wild mountain goats in the Italian Alps have gotten significantly smaller over the past few decades in response to a warming climate, scientists reported Tuesday.
Although global warming is known to be driving changes in body size in a number of animals, this result was more dramatic than researchers expected and suggests that a changing climate may have significant impacts on natural systems in the near term, in ways that are only beginning to be understood.
Young Alpine chamois mountain goats (Rupicapra rupicapra) now weigh about 25 percent less than animals of the same age did 30 years ago, scientists at Durham University in the U.K. reported in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.
At the same time, temperatures where the goats live have risen by 3° to 4° Celsius, or 5° to 7° Fahrenheit.
"Over the past few years there's been quite a few papers coming out showing that all sorts of species, from mammals to fish to birds, have tended to get smaller as climate warms," says Stephen Willis, a study co-author and professor of biology at Durham University.
But scientists hadn't expected such a significant change among the Alpine goats in such a short period, says Willis.
Willis adds that scientists "don't know enough about how extreme climate might affect the population of this species," but he said continued warming might be a problem for the animal's survival in the future. As it stands, though, the population has actually increased over the past few decades.
Too Hot to Eat?
Willis says he and his colleagues discovered the change in body weights by measuring carcasses of yearlings collected by hunters since the 1980s. The researchers studied yearlings rather than adults to be sure of comparing animals of the same age. When they noted a steady decrease in size for animals that were all one year old, they began looking for a cause.
Decreases in food availability or quality as a result of global warming have been implicated in size declines in other species. But satellite data showed no decline in vegetation in the Italian Alps over the past few decades.
Next, the scientists considered the goats' behavior. "It's been known that these animals spend more time resting when it's hot, so that led to the idea that maybe it's the climate directly that is changing their behavior, rather than the indirect means of affecting their food," says Willis.
In other words, the scientists think that the goats are avoiding overheating in a warmer world by spending more time resting and less time foraging. That has reduced their body weight—which may be further reinforcing their ability to withstand the heat. In a given species, smaller animals shed heat faster than larger ones because they have more surface area relative to their body mass.
A factor unrelated to climate change may also be contributing to the size decline, however. The goats' population density has been rising, possibly due to greater restrictions on hunting. That may have increased competition for prime grazing spots, which may have helped keep their weights down.
Are They Really Better Off Small?
Clifford Rice, a wildlife biologist with Washington State's Department of Fish and Wildlife who studies mountain goats, says the fact that the scientists had such a long record of weights to go on is highly unusual. Such data are especially rare in North America, says Rice, who was not involved in the study.
In general, says Rice, "there is the potential for threats to mountain ungulates around the world due to climate change, including shrinking habitats, but exactly what those consequences might be we don't know yet."
The declining size of the Italian chamois has a potential downside, Willis and his colleagues write: Lighter goats don't overheat as easily, but they may be more susceptible to freezing to death in harsh winters. The balance of the two effects will depend on whether winters warm as much as summers in the Alps.
Willis notes that the team's findings may have wider implications for other species, or even domestic animals.
"If climate change results in similar behavioral and body mass changes in domestic livestock, this could have impacts on agricultural productivity in coming decades," he says. Translation: Farm animals that eat less produce less meat.

Is Your Salmon Small Because of Hungry Cavemen?

Stone Age hunters didn’t need to tell fish tales—the fish they caught really were whoppers, according to a new study.
Photo of an Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).
Remains of prehistoric fish dinners from caves in northern Spain suggest that Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) have shrunk significantly in size over the past 20,000 years—from a combined average of up to 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms) to about a pound (0.4 kilogram).
What’s more, it’s because of our ancient ancestors’ fishing skills that rivers in the region today are populated with much smaller fish, according to a team of scientists from the University of Oviedo in Spain. That’s because the scientists suspect that the Stone Age fishers deliberately targeted larger specimens.
“Bigger fish will be more valuable as food,” said archaeologist Pablo Turrero, who led the study. “They would only have caught the small fish if they absolutely had to because there was nothing else.”
Over time, prehistoric hunters’ preference for catching big ones caused salmon and trout to downsize, because proportionally more small fish survived to breed and pass on their genes.
A trend for shrinking sizes starts to show up in the cave fish fossils about 10,000 years ago, “but size selection had been going on all the time,” said Turrero.
Big Fish, Little Fish
Published October 22 in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the study compared the backbones of about 30 Atlantic salmon and brown trout specimens unearthed at ten prehistoric sites in the northern province of Asturias with those of their living descendants.
These calculations revealed the ancient fish averaged 6 to 10 inches (16 to 26 centimeters) longer than those types of salmon and trout in the same rivers today.
Turrero said this equates to a typical weight of 2.9 to 5 pounds (1.3 to 2.2 kilograms), whereas the modern-day Asturias angler can expect an average catch that weighs less than a pound (0.4 kilogram).
The fossils also indicate that the modern humans who replaced the Neanderthals some 40,000 years ago were serious about fishing “pretty much as soon as they started settling in the region,” according to Turrero.
Fish meal leftovers found in the caves aren’t as abundant as those of prey animals such as deer, “but you always get them,” Turrero added.
Prehistoric Fish Fry
Often burnt, the fish fossils show that hunters “would catch the fish in the nearest stream, then bring them to the cave to cook by the fire,” he said.
Past excavations at the fishbone sites have found evidence for these fires, as well as the human remains of these prehistoric salmon-eaters.
Though no fishing gear remains have been identified to date, such artifacts have been found at similarly aged sites elsewhere in Europe.
The ancient salmon hunters may have used hooks made from mollusk shells, traps made of branches, spears, or even their bare hands, Turrero added.
The importance of salmon and trout to these cavemen can also be seen in two Asturias caves that boast extremely rare Ice Age examples of ancient fish paintings, Turrero noted.
Human Influence
In addition to human preference, climate change and other factors also likely played a role in shrinking fish size over time, the study authors said.
Karin Limburg, a fish expert at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, agreed.
However, “given that humans have been in that region for a very, very long time, and salmon running into rivers would have been a great source of protein,” the new finding is “not so surprising,” Limburg said.
 “What strikes me about the study is that it shows, yet again, size declines in a fish that is exploited by humans,” she added. “The more we look, the more we see this has occurred.”

Giant carnivorous kangaroos, and why we dance when we hold our pee

On This Week in Science:
Kiki talked stem cells; not the controversial side of things, but the straight up science of figuring out more about these populations of cells as they exist inside our bodies throughout our lives. It looks like we have a lot to learn. Also, she brought up a story about using filament proteins from nerve cells to produce brush-like coatings for materials. Better living through... biology?
Justin talked about finding the base materials for a potential new family of antibiotics in bacteria found on turkeys. Then he delved into the immune system strengthening powers of estrogen in women, and pills full of poo for people with bowel issues.
Blair's Animal Corner brought collaborative hunting by crocodiles into sharp focus, as well as news about the collapsibility of bird wings, and how geckos climb down.
The second half of the show was hot with talk of western droughts, oil rigs outpacing coral reefs for fish productivity, giant carnivorous kangaroos, a new idea about asymmetry involving the Higgs particle, Ebola updates, and why we dance when we hold our pee. TWIS shownotes