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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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, this means you ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
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Today is  - International Hat Day

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Today in History

2348 BC   biblical scholars have long asserted this to be the day of the Great Deluge, or Flood.  
1863   Union ends the siege of Chattanooga with the Battle of Missionary Ridge.  
1876   Colonel Ronald MacKenzie destroys Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife's village, in the Bighorn Mountains near the Red Fork of the Powder River, during the so-called Great Sioux War.  
1901   Japanese Prince Ito arrives in Russia to seek concessions in Korea.  
1914   German Field Marshal Fredrich von Hindenburg calls off the Lodz offensive 40 miles from Warsaw, Poland. The Russians lose 90,000 to the Germans' 35,000 in two weeks of fighting.  
1918   Chile and Peru sever relations.  
1921   Hirohito becomes regent of Japan.  
1923   Transatlantic broadcasting from England to America commences for the first time.
1930   An earthquake in Shizouka, Japan kills 187 people.  
1939   Germany reports four British ships sunk in the North Sea, but London denies the claim.  
1946   The U.S. Supreme Court grants the Oregon Indians land payment rights from the U.S. government. 1947   The Big Four meet to discuss the German and European economy.  
1951   A truce line between U.N. troops and North Korea is mapped out at the peace talks in Panmunjom, Korea.
1955   The Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation in interstate travel.
1963   The body of assassinated President John F. Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  
1964   Eleven nations give a total of $3 billion to rescue the value of the British currency.  
1986   As President Ronald Reagan announces the Justice Department's findings concerning the Iran-Contra affair; secretary Fawn Hall smuggles important documents out of Lt. Col. Oliver North's office.
1987   Typhoon Nina sticks the Philippines with 165 mph winds and a devastating storm surge and causes over 1,030 deaths.  
1992   Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia votes to partition the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, beginning Jan. 1, 1993.  
2008   Sri Lanka is hit by Cyclone Nisha, bringing the highest rainfall the area had seen in 9 decades; 15 people die, 90,000 are left homeless.

Germany's Longest Word Has Officially Ceased To Exist

Germany's longest word - Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz - a 63-letter long title of a law regulating the testing of beef, has officially ceased to exist.
The law was considered a legitimate word by linguists because it appears in official texts, but it never actually appeared in the dictionaries, because compilers of the standard German dictionary judge words for inclusion based on their frequency of use.

Hari-Kuyo - Japan's Unique Memorial Service For Broken Needles

Hari-Kuyo is a Japanese festival dedicated to old and broken needles. This festival sees hundreds of women dressed in colorful kimonos, gathering at various Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples in and around Tokyo.
This 400-year-old ritual involves sticking old and broken needles into soft chunks of tofu or jelly as a way of showing thanks for their hard work. It's not just about needles, several Japanese women consider Hari-Kuyo as a time to value the small, everyday objects of daily life that are otherwise forgotten.

Did you know ...

According toMike Nichols: "we are all Willie Loman now"
That police killings are at their highest in two decades
That there was no investigation in over 1,000 sex crimes in New Orleans
This NY mall will fine stores if they don't open on Thanksgiving
That trace amounts of Fukushima radioactivity found in waters off California coast
About why wingnuts opt for propaganda over reality
About the haves and the leftovers
That Mark Twain predicted the internet in 1898
That K-mart says employees may request Thanksgiving off; the reality is a bit different
That this new clock may end time as we know it
Here meet the lawyer whose new job is defending scientists against climate deniers
About why the Democrats lost in 4 letters: the DCC
That Michigan State University literally refuses to debate creationism
That a former white supremacist wants to include people of color in the Ku Klux Klan
About this former minister: why I left christianity and started an atheist church
Here Dilbert mansplains feminism
And is Arlington county, VA racist?
Just don't you wish you were paid to smoke pot
That the Galapagos giant tortoises are making a comeback
And we're sorry, but your request to play the devil's advocate has been denied
Here meet the women who are fighting online harassment
That Trader Joe's is under pressure to stop selling antibiotic-raised meat
That the number of homeless students reaches record levels
That support for fracking plummets among Americans
That when freedom becomes just another word for selling products, it isn't freedom
That we will have equality in the workplace in about 2095
The 5 of the craziest conspiracy theories the wingnuts will bring to the freshman congress
About why sand is disappearing

The Simple Truth: President Obama is Too Intelligent for repugicans to Understand

by Allen Clifton
A few years back I worked with a guy who was probably a genius. In fact, he often struggled in life interacting with people because his brain simply performed at a higher level than the average person. I remember asking him what his biggest belief was in making life decisions and he always, without fail, told me “think of the bigger picture.” And while I’ve always tried to be a big picture thinker, knowing him when I did helped me understand it a little better.
He always told me the biggest issue he faced when dealing with people was that he’d see things in a bigger scope that most people simply couldn’t follow. While many people tend to not see beyond a particular moment, day, week or even month, he operated with a sense of “is what I’m doing now the best course of action to set me up for success not just now, but later on.” He used to tell me people would come to him for advice every once in a while and often walk away angry because what they wanted to hear wasn’t usually what they needed to hear. He was actually one of the first people who made me aware of the fairly obvious (though I was young and had never really thought about it) human characteristic of adoring people who tell them what they want to hear, or what they understand, while condemning those who don’t. Most people really just want to be assured of what they hope will happen rather than take a good long look at what’s best for themselves in the long run.
And while he wasn’t right about everything, he was fairly brilliant when it came to a lot of things. I will say as a young person at the time, this person – who I haven’t spoken to in years – made a profound impact on how I viewed life going forward.
Which brings me to President Obama. While I’m not calling him a genius, I do think he’s extremely intelligent. I also believe that his tendency to use “big picture” thinking while drafting policy is something most repugican voters simply can’t understand.
Take “Obamacare” for instance. It’s not a “fix health care today” law. In fact, the law itself is made to grow and evolve over time. My belief is that it’s a springboard to true socialized medicine. But, as it is now, it’s a long-term outlook on our health care. While many repugicans want to look at the “now” aspect of the Affordable Care Act, they seem unable to grasp the reality that as more Americans get health insurance, giving them access to preventable care, this lowers expenses down the road for everyone. If people can prevent very costly heart attacks, strokes or other debilitating health issues now, that’s an overall savings for practically everyone from consumers to health insurers to doctors who now have more patients. Quite literally, improving the overall health of Americans will improve the health of this country. It even makes sense for our economy. If workers are healthier, because they have access to quality health care, that means there will be fewer people calling in sick to work, showing up sick to work (putting other employees at risk) or relying on government programs because their health conditions (that were preventable) render them unable to work at all.
But to see all of that requires “big picture” thinking and repugicans seem unable to understand anything beyond the spoon-fed bumper sticker shrieking points they’re given by the repugican cabal and the wingnut media.
Minimum wage is another issue you see this with. The repugicans constantly paint it as a “job killer” (it’s not) while also rallying against the millions of people who are on government assistance. Funny thing though, a good portion of the Americans who are on government assistance have jobs. If we made sure that no American working full-time had to rely on government programs just to survive, instantly we would save our country hundreds of billions of dollars over the years. Not only that, but when Americans have more money, they have more to spend. And what’s the biggest driver of economic growth? Consumer spending. More consumer spending means higher profits and higher demand, which means - more jobs. 
But once again, when it comes to repugicans and explaining job creation, anything outside of “tax cuts create jobs” is often too complex for many of them to understand.
The same goes for war. When it comes to ISIL, repugicans just want to send in troops and “crush the terrorists.” They’ve hammered President Obama relentlessly about how he’s handled the entire situation. See, to many of them, they just want to go in guns blazing because that’s what sounds good. But as we’ve learned by our previous war in Iraq, going into these situations haphazardly without a plan leads to absolute chaos. Remember, the existence of the ISIl we see today is a direct result of the shrub’s Iraq War.
When it comes right down to it, I really do believe a huge part about why so many of the non-racist repugicans are against President Obama is because many of them are simply unable to grasp his “big picture” thinking that drives a lot of his policies. That requires intelligence and far too many wingnuts would rather just be told what to think by Faux News. They want their policies to be so simplified and catchy that they fit on bumper stickers.
It’s like I’ve often said, Democrats are trying to use science, math, reality, history and education to reason with people who deny science, don’t trust math, create their own reality, distort history and often devalue quality education.
And that’s a big reason why we’re not getting anywhere in this country.

The sad, twisted truth about wingnut christianity’s effect on the mind

Religious delusions alter brain function, making us more prone to anxiety and depression
I am 30 years old and I am struggling to find sanity. Between the christian schools, homeschooling, the christian group home (brain-washing work slave camp) and different cults in different cities, I am a psychological, emotional and spiritual mess.” –A former Evangelical
The sad, twisted truth about conservative Christianity's effect on the mindIf a former believer says that christianity made her depressed, obsessive, or post-traumatic, she is likely to be dismissed as an exaggerator. She might describe panic attacks about the rapture; moods that swung from ecstasy about dog’s overwhelming love to suicidal self-loathing about repeated sins; or an obsession with sexual purity.
A symptom like one of these clearly has a religious component, yet many people instinctively blame the victim. They will say that the wounded former believer was prone to anxiety or depression or obsession in the first place—that his christianity somehow got corrupted by his predisposition to psychological problems. Or they will say that he wasn’t a real christian. If only he had prayed in faith believing or loved dog with all his heart, soul and mind, if only he had really been saved—then he would have experienced the peace that passes all understanding.
But the reality is far more complex. It is true that symptoms like depression or panic attacks most often strike those of us who are vulnerable, perhaps because of genetics or perhaps because situational stressors have worn us down. But certain aspects of christian delusions and christian 'living' also can create those stressors, even setting up multi-generational patterns of abuse, trauma, and self-abuse. Also, over time some religious delusions can create habitual thought patterns that actually alter brain function, making it difficult for people to heal or grow.
The purveyors of religion insist that their product is so powerful it can transform a life, but somehow, magically, it has no risks. In reality, when a drub is powerful, it usually has the potential to be toxic, especially in the wrong combination or at the wrong dose. And religion is powerful drug!
In this discussion, we focus on the variants of christianity that are based on a literal interpretation of the bible. These include evangelical and fundamentalist cults, the cult of latter day saints, and other wingnut sects. These groups share the characteristics of requiring conformity for membership, a view that humans need salvation, and a focus on the spiritual world as superior to the natural world. These views are in contrast to liberal, progressive christian cults with a humanistic viewpoint, a focus on the present, and social justice.
Religion Exploits Normal Human Mental Processes.
To understand the power of religion, it is helpful to understand a bit about the structure of the human mind. Much of our mental activity has little to do with rationality and is utterly inaccessible to the conscious mind. The preferences, intentions and decisions that shape our lives are in turn shaped by memories and associations that can get laid down before we even develop the capacity for rational analysis.
Aspects of cognition like these determine how we go through life, what causes us distress, which goals we pursue and which we abandon, how we respond to failure, how we respond when other people hurt us—and how we respond when we hurt them. Religion derives its power in large part because it shapes these unconscious processes: the frames, metaphors, intuitions and emotions that operate before we even have a chance at conscious thought.
Some Religious Delusions and Practices are More Harmful Than Others.
When it comes to psychological damage, certain religious delusions and practices are reliably more toxic than others.
Janet Heimlich is an investigative journalist who has explored religious child maltreatment, which describes abuse and neglect in the service of religious delusion. In her book, Breaking their Will,Heimlich identifies three characteristics of religious cabals that are particularly prone to harming children. Clinical work with reclaimers, that is, people who are reclaiming their lives and in recovery from toxic religion, suggests that these same qualities put adults at risk, along with a particular set of manipulations found in fundamentalist christian cults and biblical literalism.
1) Authoritarianism, creates a rigid power hierarchy and demands unquestioning obedience. In major theistic religions, this hierarchy has a god or gods at the top, represented by powerful cult leaders who have power over male believers, who in turn have power over females and children. Authoritarian christian sects often teach that “male headship” is dog’s will. Parents may go so far as beating or starving their children on the authority of godly leaders. A book titled, To Train Up a Child,by minister Michael Pearl and his wife Debi, has been found in the homes of three christian adoptive families who have punished their children to death.
2) Isolation or separatism, is promoted as a means of maintaining spiritual purity. evangelical christians warn against being “unequally yoked” with nonbelievers in marriages and even friendships. New cult converts often are encouraged to pull away from extended family members and old friends, except when there may be opportunities to convert them. Some cults encourage older members to take in young single adults and house them within a godly context until they find spiritually compatible partners, a process known by cult analysts as “shepherding.” Home schoolers and the christian equivalent of madrassas cut off children from outside sources of information, often teaching rote learning and unquestioning obedience rather than broad curiosity.
3) Fear of sin, hell, a looming “end-times” apocalypse, or amoral heathens binds people to the cult, which then provides the only safe escape from the horrifying dangers on the outside. In evangelical Hell Houses, Samhain (aka: Halloween) is used as an occasion to terrify children and teens about the tortures that await the damned. In the Left Behind book series and movie, the world degenerates into a bloodbath without the stabilizing presence of believers. Since the religious cabal is the only alternative to these horrors, anything that threatens the cabal itself—like criticism, taxation, scientific findings, or civil rights regulations—also becomes a target of fear.
bible delusion Creates an Authoritarian, Isolative, Threat-based Model of Reality
In bible-delusional christianity, psychological mind-control mechanisms are coupled with ideas from the Iron Age, including the notion that women and children are possessions of men, that children who are not hit become spoiled, that each of us is born “utterly depraved”, and that a supernatural being demands unquestioning obedience. In this view, the salvation and righteousness of believers is constantly under threat from outsiders and dark spiritual forces. Consequently, christians need to separate themselves emotionally, spiritually, and socially from the world. These delusions are fundamental to their overarching mental framework or “deep frame” as linguist George Lakoff would call it. Small wonder then, that many christians emerge wounded.
It is important to remember that this mindset permeates to a deep subconscious level. This is a realm of imagery, symbols, metaphor, emotion, instinct, and primary needs. Nature and nurture merge into a template for viewing the world which then filters every experience. The template selectively allows only the information that confirms their model of reality, creating a subjective sense of its veracity.
On the societal scale, humanity has been going through a massive shift for centuries, transitioning from a supernatural view of a world dominated by forces of good and evil to a natural understanding of the universe. The bible-deluded christian population however, might be considered a subset of the general population that is still within the old framework, that is, supernaturalism.
Children are Targeted for Brain-washing Because the Child Mind is Uniquely Vulnerable.
Here I am, a fifty-one year old college professor, still smarting from the wounds inflicted by the righteous when I was a child. It is a slow, festering wound, one that smarts every day—in some way or another…. I thought I would leave all of that “dog loves… dog hates…” stuff behind, but not so. Such deep and confusing fear is not easily forgotten. It pops up in my perfectionism, my melancholy mood, the years of being obsessed with finding the assurance of personal salvation.”
Nowhere is the contrast of viewpoints more stark than in the secular and religious understandings of childhood. In the biblical view, a child is not a being that is born with amazing capabilities that will emerge with the right conditions like a beautiful flower in a well-attended garden. Rather, a child is born in sin, weak, ignorant, and rebellious, needing discipline to learn obedience. Independent thinking is dangerous pride.
Because the child’s mind is uniquely susceptible to religious delusions, religious brain-washing particularly targets vulnerable young children. Cognitive development before age seven lacks abstract reasoning. Thinking is magical and primitive, black and white. Also, young humans are wired to obey authority because they are dependent on their caregivers just for survival. Much of their brain growth and development has to happen after birth, which means that children are extremely vulnerable to environmental influences in the first few years when neuronal pathways are formed.
By age five a child’s brain can understand primitive cause-and-effect logic and picture situations that are not present. Children at this have a tenuous grip on reality. They often have imaginary friends; dreams are quite real; and fantasy blurs with the mundane. To a child this age, it is eminently possible that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and delivers presents if you are good and that 2000 years ago a man died a horrible death because you are naughty. Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, the Rapture, and hell, all can be quite real. The problem is that many of these teachings are terrifying.
For many years, one brain-washing technique targeting children and adolescents has been the use of movies about the “End Times.” This means a “Rapture” event, when real christians are taken up to heaven leaving the earth to “Tribulation,” a terrifying time when an evil Antichrist will reign and the world will descend into anarchy.
When assaulted with such images and ideas at a young age, a child has no chance of emotional self-defense. These christian delusion rantings that sound true when they are embedded in the child’s mind at this tender age can feel true for a lifetime. Even decades later former believers who intellectually reject these ideas can feel intense fear or shame when their unconscious mind is triggered.
Harms Range From Mild to Catastrophic.
One requirement for success as a sincere christian is to find a way to believe that which would be unbelievable under normal rules of evidence and inquiry. Delusional christianity contains concepts that help to safeguard the delusions, such as limiting outside information, practicing thought control, and self-denigration; but for some people the emotional numbing and intellectual suicide just isn’t enough. In other words, for a significant number of children in christian families, the religion just doesn’t “take.” This can trigger guilt, conflict, and ultimately rejection or abandonment.
Others experience the threats and fear too keenly. For them, childhood can be torturous, and they may carry injuries into adulthood.
Still others are able to sincerely devote themselves to the delusions as children but confront problems when they mature. They wrestle with factual and moral contradictions in the bible and the cult, or discover surprising alternatives. This can feel confusing and terrifying – like the whole world is falling apart.
Delayed Development and Life Skills.
Many christian parents seek to insulate their children from “worldly” influences. In the extreme, this can mean not only home schooling, but cutting off media, not allowing non-christian friends, avoiding secular activities like plays or clubs, and spending time at cult instead. Children miss out on crucial information– science, culture, history, reproductive health and more. When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development.
Religious Trauma Syndrome.
Today, in the field of mental health, the only religious diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is “Religious or Spiritual Problem.” This is merely a supplemental code (V Code) to assist in describing an underlying pathology. Unofficially, “scrupulosity,” is the term for obsessive-compulsive symptoms centered around religious themes such as blasphemy, unforgivable sin, and damnation. While each of these diagnoses has a place, neither covers the wide range of harms induced by religion.
Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a new term, coined by Marlene Winell to name a recognizable set of symptoms experienced as a result of prolonged exposure to a toxic religious environment and/or the trauma of leaving the religion. It is akin to Complex PTSD, which is defined as ‘a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim’.
Though related to other kinds of chronic trauma, religious trauma is uniquely mind-twisting. The logic of the religion is circular and blames the victim for problems; the system demands deference to spiritual authorities no matter what they do; and the larger society may not identify a problem or intervene as in cases of physical or sexual abuse, even though the same symptoms of depression and anxiety and panic attacks can occur.
RTS, as a diagnosis, is in early stages of investigation, but appears to be a useful descriptor beyond the labels used for various symptoms – depression, anxiety, grief, anger, relationship issues, and others. It is our hope that it will lead to more knowledge, training, and treatment. Like the naming of other disorders such as anorexia or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the RTS label can help sufferers feel less alone, confused, and self-blaming.
Leaving the Fold.
Breaking out of a restrictive, mind-controlling religion can be liberating: Certain problems end(!), such as trying to twist one’s thinking to believe irrational doctrines, and conforming to repressive codes of behavior. However, for many reclaimers making the break is the most disruptive, difficult upheaval they have ever experienced. Individuals who were most sincere, devout, and dedicated often are the ones most traumatized when their religious world crumbles.
Rejecting a false religious model of reality that has been passed on through generations is a major cognitive and emotional disruption. For many reclaimers, it is like a death or divorce. Their ‘relationship’ with dog was a central assumption of their lives, and giving it up feels like an enormous loss to be grieved. It can be like losing a lover, a parent, or best friend.
On top of shattered assumptions comes the loss of family and friends. Cults vary with official doctrine about rejection. The mormon cult, for all the intense focus on “family forever,” is devastating to leave, and the jehovah witnesses require families to shun members who are “disfellowshiped.”
The rupture can destroy homes, splitting spouses and alienating parents from children.
For Women, Psychological Costs of Delusion Include Subjugation and Self-loathing.
Delusional christianity poses a special set of psychological risks for people who, according to the Iron Age hierarchy found in the bible are unclean or property, including women. Evidence suggests that the combination of denigration and subservience takes a psychological toll on women in christianity as it does in islam. Not only do women submit to marital abuse and undesired sexual contact, some tolerate the same toward their children, and men of dog sometimes exploit this vulnerability, as in the case of catholic and protestant child sexual abuse. But most of the damage is far more subtle: lower self-esteem, less independence and confidence; abandoned dreams and goals.
Why Harm Goes Unrecognized.
What is the sum cost of having millions of people holding to a misogynist, authoritarian, fear-based supernatural view of the universe? The consequences far-reaching, even global, but many are hidden, for two reasons.
One is the nature of the trauma itself. Unlike other harm, such as physical beating or sexual abuse, the injury is far from obvious to the victim, who has been taught to self-blame. It’s as if a person black and blue from a caning were to think it was self-inflicted.
The second reason that religious harm goes unrecognized is that christianity is still the cultural backdrop for the brain-washing. While the larger society may not be fundamentalist, references to dog and delusion abound. The bible gets used to swear in witnesses and even the U.S. president. Common phrases are “dog willing,” “dog bless,” “dog helps those that help themselves,” “In dog we trust,” and so forth. These lend credence to theistic authority.
Religious trauma is difficult to see because it is camouflaged by the respectability of religion in culture. To date, parents are afforded the right to teach their own children whatever doctrines they like, no matter how heinous, degrading, or mentally unhealthy. Even helping professionals largely perceive christianity as benign. This will need to change for treatment methods to be developed and people to get help that allows them to truly reclaim their lives.

Canadian Mother Gives Birth While On Vacation In The U.S., Faces $1 Million Hospital Bill

by Tara Culp-Ressler
Jennifer Huculak, who lives in the Canadian province Saskatchewan, was six months pregnant when she flew to Hawaii to go on a vacation with her husband. But two days into her 2013 trip, her water unexpectedly broke; she spent the next six weeks on bed rest, and her daughter was delivered prematurely via an emergency C-section.
A year later, the Huculaks and their daughter are healthy and back at home. But they're now facing medical bills that total $950,000 for the hospital care they received in the United States last fall. "It makes you sick to your stomach," Huculak told CTV News. "Who can pay a million-dollar medical bill? Who can afford that?"
Although the couple purchased travel insurance from Blue Cross before their vacation, the insurance company says that Huculak's previous pregnancy complications - she had a bladder infection when she was four months pregnant - amounted to a pre-existing condition, so her medical expenses won't be covered. Blue Cross also maintains that the Huculaks' plan expired while they were still in Hawaii.
Jennifer Huculak told CBC News that she's frustrated with Blue Cross because she thought she did everything right. She had approval from her doctor to travel, and after her water broke, she tried to figure out how to return to Canada. But she couldn't find a medical evacuation company that was willing to transport her home in her condition.
It's not entirely uncommon for visitors to the U.S. to accrue big medical bills if they suffer from a health condition while they're here. Travel insurance isn't currently subject to all of the regulations under the Affordable Care Act - and the health reform law doesn't apply to people who aren't U.S. residents - so there can be confusion about how exactly these plans will work in practice. Other Canadian travelers have been stuck with hefty bills after unexpectedly suffering from kidney failure and struggling with high blood pressure while in the United States.

After 13 years, 2 wars and trillions in military spending, terrorist attacks are rising - and rising sharply

by Christopher Ingraham
Last year saw the highest number of terrorist incidents since 2000, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index released by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Worldwide, the number of terrorist incidents increased from less than 1,500 in 2000 to nearly 10,000 in 2013. Sixty percent of attacks last year occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
The report suggests that U.S. foreign policy has played a big role in making the problem worse: "The rise in terrorist activity coincided with the US invasion of Iraq," it concludes. "This created large power vacuums in the country allowing different factions to surface and become violent." Indeed, among the five countries accounting for the bulk of attacks, the U.S. has prosecuted lengthy ground wars in two (Iraq and Afghanistan), a drone campaign in one (Pakistan), and airstrikes in a fourth (Syria)..
The report defines terrorism as  "the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation."
The U.S. will invest somewhere between $4 and 6 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with untold additional resources spent on anti-terrorism efforts elsewhere, according to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. While we haven't suffered any major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11, the Global Terrorism Index numbers cast considerable doubt on whether that money's been well-spent. And they give some credence to the notion that our ham-handed foreign policy is actually a destabilizing factor in world affairs.
In other news, the Obama administration recently approved doubling the number of troops we currently have on the ground in Iraq.

Woman riding jet ski on motorway called stupid

A woman caught sitting on a jet ski as it was towed by a truck along a motorway in Auckland, New Zealand, has been labelled careless and stupid. The over-enthusiastic jet skier was seen by a passing motorist on the North-Western motorway in the area of the inner-city suburb of Newton - where other vehicles passing her could reach speeds of 100 kmh (60mph).
Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty rebuked the woman for her life-threatening stunt. ''Stupidity on the roads causes heartbreaks in homes," she said. She said the woman and the driver were committing a traffic offense. If police track them down, they risk penalties for dangerous driving and having an unrestrained passenger in tow.
She said police were asking people to come forward and identify the woman. AA motoring affairs boss Mike Noon said the woman posed a risk to herself and other motorists who would be distracted. ''It's very, very silly behavior. It's in the same category as people standing on the back of cars, people sitting on the roof of the car, things like that.
''I'm sure if they thought it through they wouldn't do it.'' Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson said the woman flirted with her own life. "Quite clearly, the process of natural selection is at work here: if the car that's towing her stops suddenly, she gets removed from the gene pool."

Man fearing attack by Russia who hoarded guns and explosives in nuclear-proof bunker arrested

Police in Kelheim, Germany, said on Friday they had arrested a man who hoarded guns, ammunition and bomb-making material in a nuclear-proof family bunker he built fearing an attack by Russia.
The 59-year-old electrician had constructed the emergency shelter by expanding and reinforcing the basement of his family home in the small town near Regensburg in Bavaria. Police said they had confiscated two submachine guns, 80 rifles, 60 handguns, 20,000 rounds of ammunition and 40 kilograms of materials to make explosives.
"He was afraid of the threat posed by a large eastern European power. He was afraid of Russia," a police spokesman said. ”We don't know when he started construction. He did it all by himself." The man had also stored food supplies and built underground air filtration and water treatment systems.
There is no evidence he is mentally ill or has extremist political views, police said, adding that the man was arrested on illegal weapons and explosives charges. Police said they took three days to enter and explore the extensive survival shelter and weapons arsenal, using power tools to crack through the walls.

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pollyhanrahanphotography: Saoirse at Seven Sisters, Moth Lingerie, Regarder les filles

Employment tribunal rules that performing the chicken dance isn't grounds for dismissal

A operator for Sydney Ferries in Australia was ordered to rehire an "alpha male" employee who was fired for allegedly performing the chicken dance in a mocking move to his colleague.
The workplace tribunal ordered Sydney Ferries operator Harbor City Ferries to reinstate Timothy Redden, 51, after finding that performing the chicken dance was not a valid reason for dismissal. Harbor City Ferries terminated Mr Redden's employment when it discovered he called his colleague a "dog" and, when his colleague ignored him, performed the chicken dance at him to imply he was a chicken for not retaliating. One of the two dances was captured on a CCTV.
Fair Work Commissioner Ian Cambridge found the employee, who he described as an "alpha male", was unfairly dismissed and should have been given a final warning instead. "In particular, one major aspect of the reasons for dismissal which involved a finding that the applicant performed the "chicken dance" as an intentional act to intimidate, harass or otherwise harm another employee, was simply fanciful and did not represent valid reason for dismissal," he said.
The commissioner also said the workplace investigation was flawed in that the employer readily accepted the words of others and rejected Mr Redden's, perhaps due to the sacked employee's "somewhat disagreeable demeanor". "Even unpleasant people are entitled to justice," he said.

Plan to close school with no pupils

Plans to close a school with no pupils have been consulted on. Ravenstonedale Endowed School in Cumbria has had no children since September. A head teacher and five part-time staff are still employed. The proposals will be voted on in March and, if approved, the school will close in April.
Pupil numbers have dropped from 65 in 2000 to 26 in September last year, falling to zero by the beginning of the current academic year.
Cumbria County Council said there was "little prospect" of the school recovering in the "foreseeable future". The nearest alternative school is just under five miles (8km) away in Kirkby Stephen.

The Best Corn Maze Ever Has Lost People Calling 911

What should have been an a-maze-ing fall activity had some California residents calling police. The largest corn maze in the world - in Dixon, California, USA - is no laughing matter to Dixon county deputies who had to respond to constant emergency calls from people stuck in the labyrinth.
Matt Cooley, the owner of the maze, suggests that next year people should grab a map before heading in.

Police in toasted sandwich mercy dash to elderly lady

Police in New Zealand rushed to the rescue of an elderly woman who had not eaten in three days. The 90-year-old from Wanganui was trying to get a toasted sandwich delivered to her home last week and, in desperation, called the police. Her call went out over the police radio and was picked up by an enthusiastic patrol, who ordered a toastie from a fish-and-chip shop and delivered it.
Sergeant Colin Wright said the call came in about 9.30pm after the woman, who lived alone and had been unwell, became "distressed and desperate" when she could not order a toastie to be delivered. "She hadn't eaten, the previous three days," Mr Wright said. "I don't know how many places or who she'd phoned.
"She had obviously tried a couple of fish and chip shops and probably there was nobody else to call." He said police "absolutely" enjoyed doing those types of jobs when a person needed their help. "We're forever going to victims of burglaries, assaults and car crashes. This is someone who's vulnerable who we can help.
"One of our roles is to look after vulnerable people, be that mentally, physically or age-wise. That's why officers jumped to it. We could even have gone back to the police station and cooked one up ourselves." Mr Wright felt the tale epitomized what police stood for "in terms of serving the community". He called the hospital and they were arranging for social services to help the woman. "It's an opportunity for people to see we're human, believe it or not."

Would-be shoplifter fled store wearing only his boxer shorts after fight with owners

A 21-year-old man who allegedly tried to steal two bottles of beer from a convenience store in Beaverton, Oregon, ended up wearing just his boxer shorts after the store owners wrestled with him.
The co-owners of Best Mart grabbed hold of Solomon Yemane-Berhane soon after one prevented him from walking out the front door late on Nov. 9. The three tussled for about three minutes as the store owners attempted to detain him, while at least two customers stood and watched.
Yemane-Berhane eventually managed to slip out of the grip of the husband and wife owners, after losing his jacket, hat, shirt and shorts in the process, and sprinted out of the door. He came back moments later to pick up his jacket and again left. The owners had followed Yemane-Berhane out the door after he managed to elude them. The two other people in the store left soon after, as well.

Broken beer bottles, overturned displays and merchandise were strewn throughout the store after the scuffle. Police arrested Yemane-Berhane nearby. Yemane-Berhane was indicted last Friday by a Washington County grand jury on charges of resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, third-degree robbery, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree theft and fourth-degree assault.

Becareful what you wish for ...

A Florida town passed an anti-homeless law that prohibited lying in parks.
A homeless man called the police on a family having a picnic.
The family was escorted away
The Dumbest Stories to Ever Make the News
... You just might get it.

Tourists in Venice risk €500 fine for loud luggage

Tourists to Venice in Italy, could face a €500 (£400, $630) fine if they wheel noisy suitcases around the watery city, under new proposals outlined on Thursday.
Venetians are tired of being kept awake at night by throngs of tourists, wheeling their luggage through the city’s narrow streets and over its famous bridges.
Now the city’s special commissioner, Vittorio Zappalorto, has come up with a plan to let his citizens get their 40 winks, by banning the suitcases. Under new anti-noise pollution proposals, tourists will be barred from bringing luggage with plastic or full rubber wheels to Venice.
But bicycle-style tires, made from rubber and filled with air, will be allowed. If Zapalorto’s plan gets the go ahead, tourists will be fined between €100 and €500 if they break the suitcase rule. Venetians, however, will be free to continue to use whichever luggage they please.

6 rue du Lac (Brussels/ Belgium)

This beautiful Art Nouveau building on 6 rue du Lac in Brussels was designed by Ernest Delune in 1902. It was the studio and home of Austrian master glass maker Clas Grüner Sterner, who also made the stained glass doors & windows.

Colorful South American Buses

Here is a smorgasbord of various interesting buses and truck-conversions from different countries in South America, most of them using standard production models from the 1960s and 1970s - just wildly embellished and decorated. If you are braving some of the riskiest roads, you might as well have a colorful ride!

This 2000-Year-Old Pigment Can Eliminate The Third Dimension

by Esther Inglis-Arkell
This 2000-Year-Old Pigment Can Eliminate The Third Dimension
Han purple is an ancient pigment that wasn't reconstructed by modern chemists until 1992. After the chemists got done with it, it was the physicists' turn. Han purple, they found, eliminates an entire dimension. It makes waves go two-dimensional!
The Chemistry of Han Purple
This 2000-Year-Old Pigment Can Eliminate The Third DimensionYou'll see Han purple on the famous terracotta warriors surrounding the tomb of the first emperor of China, or on ancient pottery and other works of art. Where you won't see it is on anything made between 220 A.D. and 1992, because after the pigment disappeared it took 1700 years to re-discover it. Elisabeth FitzHugh, a conservator at the Smithsonian, pinned down the chemical composition of the pigment and announced it was a barium copper silicate. (The paper describing the discovery is a fun read. It starts by pointing out the inferiority of other ancient purple pigments, which tended to be closer to red than purple. It also stresses that Tyrian purple, made from sea snails, was a textile dye, not a pigment, and that it could range anywhere from "reddish-blue to purplish-violet." Take that, Phoenicians!)
Exactly how some inventor stumbled on a way to make the pigment is still a matter of debate. An early theory, not believed by many, is that the Chinese learned how to make purple pigment from the Egyptians. Egyptian purple pigment seems to be similar, but the chemical formulas don't add up — Egyptians used calcium instead of barium. It's also not an easy process to pass from one culture to another. To get the elements to melt together, they have to be heated to about 850-1000 °C.
Most researchers think that because it contains both silicon and barium Han purple was a by-product of the glass-making process. Barium makes glass shinier and cloudy, which means this pigment could be the work of early alchemists trying to synthesize white jade.
Han Purple and the Third Dimension
Barium copper-silicate doesn't just have archaeologists and chemists intrigued. At normal temperatures, it's an insulator and is nonmagnetic. Along with its many fine properties - prettiness, historical importance, a hint of aristocratic style — barium copper-silicat has many electrons, some of which spin up and some of which are spin down.
This 2000-Year-Old Pigment Can Eliminate The Third DimensionSomething unusual happens as the temperature drops and as a magnetic field is applied, although the temperature has to drop pretty far, going down to between one and three degrees Kelvin, and the magnetic field has to be about 800,000 times the strength of Earth's magnetic field. The results are worth it — the electrons seem to merge, taking on one spin, and acting as one electron.
That sounds like an ordinary superconductor, you say. Then you're as foolish as a Phoenician in sub-par purple! Han purple still has a trick up its sleeve. Drop the temperature some more and something happens to the magnetic wave traveling through the substance. At higher temperatures, it propagates like a regular wave, traveling in three dimensions. Get under one degree Kelvin, and it no longer has a vertical component. It propagates in two dimensions only.
Scientists think that this has something to do with the structure of barium copper silicate. It's components are arranged like layers of tiles, so they don't stack up neatly. Each layers' tiles are slightly out of sync with the layer below them. This may frustrate the wave and force it to go two dimensional.
Anyone wonder if ancient physicists discovered this? And if the secret to making Han purple was lost because they waved themselves into two dimensions?

Pink And Blue Quartz Geode

26 Pictures Will Make You Re-Evaluate Your Entire Existence

The universe, man... the universe is scary!

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Space

Astronomy provides a fascinating and even downright astonishing view of the universe.
Here are 10 oddities and misconceptions about space that you may - or may not - have heard before.

Mysterious Shrimp May Hold Keys To Alien Life

According to exobiologists at NASA, a mysterious shrimp and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies. It's life that may be similar - at the basic level - to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under

Police called to help escort pod of whales away from shoreline

Police officers from Essex were called in to help escort a pod of whales away from the shoreline to prevent them from being stranded on beaches or sandbanks. Officers from the marine unit and the helicopter were called in after the pod of forty 16ft long pilot whales was seen entering the River Blackwater on Tuesday. Members of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity called police and Coastguard when the whales were close to shallow water at St Lawrence Bay. The Special Branch Marine Unit used a high-speed RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) to reach the scene and, with local boats, managed to turn the pod back towards the open sea. The mammals, which were believed to be following and eating shoals of herring, were later seen heading towards the shore between St Osyth and Jaywick.
Marine officers then called in a helicopter from the National Police Air Service. Also on board the aircraft was a technician from a mapping contractor who had previously served In the Royal New Zealand Air Force and had experience in marine surveillance and monitoring whales in Antarctica who was able to provide valuable information. PC Kevin Flinn, observer on the helicopter, said: "Our passenger was certainly an expert on using aircraft to shepherd the pod of whales. We hovered between the beach and the pod and were able to move closer to them until they turned and went back to deeper water. The whales were about five meters long and in very shallow water and with the tide receding.
"There certainly was a risk of them beaching on the sandbanks, but we moved them away from danger. The marine unit boat and other vessels then took over and escorted the pod further offshore.” At one point the helicopter descended to about 200ft to ‘flag down’ a fishing boat that was heading straight for the whales. The officers used their Sky Shout broadcasting system to alert the crew. The vessel stopped and the skipper was asked by the marine unit to steer clear of the whales. PC Simon Lofting from the Special Branch Marine Unit said: "We've had small numbers of dolphins and porpoises off Essex but this is the first time so many whales have been seen. We'd been out the previous day on the Thames when there were sightings off Southend and Kent, but we didn't find them.

"But on Tuesday, following sightings in the River Blackwater, we were contacted by British Divers Marine Life Rescue and asked to assist. We had an expert from BDMLR on board our boat and he had real concerns that the whole pod could strand themselves. The helicopter did an amazing piece of work, not only moving the whales from shallow water but counting them accurately when the pod had split. We were told the previous day that there were 29 whales so the helicopter was a great resource in giving us accurate information. I would also like to thank the assistance of Inshore Fisheries and the river bailiff. Between the three vessels we managed to bring the whales together when the pod split and we moved to deeper water. It was certainly one of our more usual operations and we all worked closely to ensure that the whales were not stranded in shallow water while chasing shoals of herrings.”

Raccoon with head stuck in storm drain rescued

Members of Framingham Department of Public Works in Massachusetts recently rescued a raccoon with its head stuck in a storm drain.
Stormwater Supervisor Brooks McCarty said he and Animal Control Officer Kathy MacKenzie used soap to successfully get the critter unstuck from the cover.
"We soaped his head up and pulled and pulled and twisted,"
McCarty said.
"All of a sudden he just popped out and she let him go and he stood there confused and then just ran up into a tree."

Missing kitten found in duffel bag 2,300 miles from home

A New Mexico woman’s missing kitten has been located in Maine, although exactly how the feline made the 2,300-mile trip remains a mystery. The female kitten, named Spice, was turned in to the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook earlier this month by a man who found her inside a duffel bag outside a Portland thrift store.
“If only Spice could talk, imagine the story she would tell us,” said Jeana Roth, community relations manager of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. “We called the microchip company and traced that microchip back to Albuquerque, New Mexico to a woman whose grey and white kitten went missing on Halloween night,” said Roth.
Jennifer Brown of the Animal Refuge League says she talked to the owner, who said Spice bolted on Halloween when she opened her door for trick-or-treaters. “The owner’s reaction was our reaction. She couldn’t believe it. She’s never been to Maine. She doesn’t know anybody who lives in Maine, so how her cat who got out of her home on Halloween night, made it to Portland, Maine, is a mystery to her as well as to us,” Roth said.

“Perhaps somebody who was crossing the country picked Spice up as a travel companion,” Roth said. “She’s lovely. She seems like she’s had a great adventure if only she could tell us what happened,” Roth added. A Maine businessman has now agreed to pay for Spice’s commercial airline flight back to New Mexico.

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