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

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Daily Drift

The Eighth of our trees of December ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
You can thank the repugicans for this ... !
Today is  - There is no special celebration today

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Today in History

1660   The first Shakespearian actress to appear on an English stage (she is believed to be a Ms. Norris) makes her debut as Desdemona.  
1861   CSS Sumter captures the whaler Eben Dodge in the Atlantic. The American Civil War is now affecting the Northern whaling industry.  
1863   Union General William Averell's cavalry destroys railroads in the southwestern part of West Virginia.  
1914   The German cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Nurnberg, and Liepzig are sunk by a British force in the Battle of the Falkland Islands.  
1920   President Woodrow Wilson declines to send a representative to the League of Nations in Geneva.  
1932   Japan tells the League of Nations that it has no control over her designs in China.  
1941   Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita begins his attack against the British army at Singapore.  
1943   U.S. carrier-based planes sink two cruisers and down 72 planes in the Marshall Islands.  
1944   The United States conducts the longest, most effective air raid on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima.  
1948   The United Nations approves the recognition of South Korea.  
1967   In the biggest battle yet in the Mekong Delta, 365 Viet Cong are killed.  
1968   South Vietnam's Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky arrives in Paris for peace talks.
1980   John Lennon is shot to death outside his Manhattan apartment building.  
1982   The Washington, D.C., police shoot and kill a man threatening to blow up the Washington Monument.  
1987   The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed.
1987   An Israeli army tank transporter kills 4 Palestinian refugees and injures 7 others during a traffic accident at the Erez Crossing on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, leading to the First Intifada.  
1991   The leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine sign an agreement that dissolves the Soviet Union and establishes the Commonwealth of Independent States.  
2004   The Cuzco Declaration signed in Cuzco, Peru, establishing the South American Community of Nations.  
2010   SpaceX becomes the first privately held company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.  
2010   The Japanese solar-sail spacecraft IKAROS passes the planet Venus.

MSNBC Elevates Rachel Maddow To News Anchor

Viewers’ dreams of Rachel Maddow someday hosting Meet The Press took another step forward as new MSNBC advertising refers to as a news anchor.
According to TVNewser,
You won’t likely see MSNBC host Rachel Maddow filling in for Brian Williams on “NBC Nightly News.” While Maddow is usually described as the “host” of a cable news show, she is rarely called a “news anchor.” Her own NBC bio describes her as a “host”- and never even uses the word “journalist.”

So it’s worth noting that a new MSNBC promo flips the script, describing Maddow as a “news anchor with a big personality. She’s smart, funny and passionate.”
It is an interesting change, and one that reaffirms MSNBC’s commitment to Maddow being the center of the network. Maddow has been anchoring the network’s election night and other big event coverage, so it isn’t inaccurate to refer to her as MSNBC’s news anchor.
The problem is that Rachel Maddow continues to lose viewers because she is surrounded by a lot of shows that people aren’t watching on MSNBC. The network managed to lose 6% of its total viewers and 8% of its younger viewers during the midterm election last month.
Chris Hayes’ 8 PM show has been sinking the entire primetime lineup and pushing cable news viewers towards CNN by the thousands. It is a good idea to make Rachel Maddow the center of the network. It was a bad idea to remake the network in her image by hiring a group of low rated Maddow clones who have caused the ratings to plunge.
Instead of highlighting and emphasizing Maddow’s uniqueness, the network has watered down her impact by trying to recreate her success with several other hosts.
NBC News has held the position that Rachel Maddow can’t host Meet The Press because she is too partisan, but the elevation to news anchor is another step into journalistic territory.
The MSNBC ship continues to sink, but Rachel Maddow’s star is still shining bright.

Thanks, Obama! 2014 Is Best Year For Job Growth Since Bill Clinton Was President

Obama-Smile-full-side-featThe Bureau of Labor Statistics unveiled the latest jobs report Friday and the results blew out all expectations as the economy added 321,000 jobs in November. Forecasters expected job gains to be in line with the past year’s average, which has been around 224,000 new jobs a month. The latest report also revised the job gains for September and October upward. Then unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8%. All in all, the BLS report was positive and showed that 2014 has been the strongest year for job growth since 1999.
Over the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped 1.2 percentage points, and we’ve seen a reduction of 1.7 million unemployed persons. The private sector added 314,000 jobs while 7,000 local, state and federal government jobs were filled. Median wages did grow slightly as the median wage for a worker rose 9 cents to $25.66. However, the average wage increase over the past year has been only 2.1%, which is in line with inflation, suggesting wages are stagnant. The average work week went up slightly from 34.5 to 34.6 hours per week. Manufacturing jobs saw a larger increase in the average workweek of its workers.
Below image courtesy of CNN:
jobs report 2014 cnn
There was also some slightly good news for the long-term unemployed. For workers actively seeking work, but who’ve been unemployed for over 27 weeks, the numbers fell by 101,000 to 2.8 million. Over the past year, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen by 1.2 million. This would suggest that much of the job growth we’ve seen has affected some, but not all, of those who’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a while.
Steady job growth was seen in the healthcare industry as it saw a net gain of 29,000 jobs in November. Manufacturing gains were also strong as the industry added 28,000 jobs last month. Unsurprisingly, retail saw a surge ahead of the holiday season, as 50,000 jobs were added in November. The finance sector added 20,000 jobs while construction added the same total.
Of course, it isn’t all good news. Millenials are not seeing many opportunities for advancement or higher-paying jobs. While we see job growth across many industries, and the unemployment rate is falling, jobs for younger people are actually seeing the median wages drop. Discussing a report by Young Invincibles, Tami Luhby of CNN Money wrote the following:
Median annual wages have fallen in nearly all of the most popular industry sectors that employ 25 to 34-year-olds over the past decade.
In retail and wholesale trade, which employs the largest share of these older Millennials, median wages plummeted 15% to $25,000. Wages in the leisure and hospitality industry fell 5% to $18,000. Only healthcare, the second most popular field, saw wages grow, albeit by a paltry 2% to $30,000.
“They are not finding the jobs they need to set them up for their long-term financial future,” said Konrad Mugglestone, co-author of the report.
Due to that dissatisfaction among young workers, and the reality that they are seeing their earnings cut while the cost of living goes up, it is imperative that the federal minimum wage be lifted ASAP. With that in mind, fast-food and other low-wage workers have continued to protest in the streets to push for a living wage in their industry.
While income inequality and stagnant wages are a real concern that needs to be addressed immediately, there is still a lot of good news in this report. The fact that we have seen the best job growth in this country in 15 years is something that should be celebrated. It also indicates that Democrats missed the boat during the midterms. They should have ran on the growing economy and the fact that under President Obama the country has dug itself out of a huge hole caused by the financial crisis in 2008. Instead, they allowed repugicans to set the narrative while they ran as far away from Obama as possible.

Obama Smacks repugicans Right Between The Eyes With The Facts On His Record Job Growth

obama best job creator since ClintonPresident Obama hit repugicans with the cold hard facts about his job creation record, which repugicans can only dream of matching.
The rnc chairwimp Reince Priebus responded to the news of historic Obama job creation by saying, “Creating 300,000 jobs in one month shouldn’t be a new high; it should be the minimum we expect. Today’s jobs report shouldn’t be an aberration; it should be the norm. Sadly, it’s not.”
The president responded to the repugican criticism with a dose of reality.
The president said,
Last month, America’s businesses created more than 300,000 jobs. This keeps a pace so far this year that we have not seen since the 1990s. So far this year, over the first 11 months of 2014, our economy has created 2.65 million jobs. That’s more than in any entire year since the 1990s. Our businesses have now created 10.9 million jobs over the past 57 months in a row. And that’s the longest streak of private sector job growth on record.

We also know that the pickup in the pace of job growth this year has been in industries with higher wages. And overall, wages are rising — a very welcome sign for millions of Americans. So we’ve got an opportunity to keep up this progress if Congress is willing to keep our government open, avoid self-inflicted wounds, and work together to invest in the things that support faster job growth in high-paying jobs. That means exports, infrastructure, streamlining our tax code, immigration reform, giving minimum wage workers a raise.
President Obama’s economy created over 300,000 jobs in a month, whereas the shrub averaged 58,000 jobs created per month during his presidency. Priebus said that the economy should at minimum create 300,000 jobs per month, but during the shrub years job growth only grew by 300,000 or more six times. The shrub also lost 300,000 or more jobs six times during his junta.
The president delivered a dose of hardcore reality by highlighting the fact that he is doing something that the repugican cabal failed to do. The repugicans created the Great Recession, while this president has dug the country out of the depths of economic despair.
Obama has accomplished this feat while being saddled with a repugican controlled House that has spent their days trying to devise ways to wreck the economy. Beyond the basic job creation numbers, President Obama has overcome repugican obstruction and gotten the economy back on the right foot.

Obamacare Is Working: Millions More Are Insured Than A Year Ago

The Urban Institute’s latest Health Reform Monitoring Survey, released on December 3rd, shows that Obamacare is working. The survey finds that the number of uninsured nonelderly American adults fell by over 10 million between September 2013 and September 2014. That figure represents over a 30 percent decrease in the number of uninsured adults age 18-64, in just one year’ s time.
In September 2013, an estimated 17.7 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-64 lacked health insurance. By September 2014, the percentage had fallen to just 12.4 percent of 18-64 year-olds. The gains in coverage benefited Americans across all ages, income levels, and ethnic groups. However, the most substantial improvements in coverage came for low-income Americans in states that accepted the federal Medicaid expansion.
If Republican Governors in many states had not blocked Medicaid expansion, even more Americans would have health insurance coverage. The uninsured rate plummeted a staggering 36.3 percent in the states that implemented the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. By contrast, in states that rejected the Medicaid expansion, the uninsured rate dipped just 23.9 percent.
One of the primary stated goals of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) was to make coverage more secure for those who had insurance, and to extend affordable coverage to those who were without insurance. The Urban Institute’s latest survey of health care outcomes demonstrates quite clearly that Obamacare is working as intended. The study also reveals that it would be working even better if Republican Governors and state legislatures would have accepted the Medicaid expansion instead of being hell bent on preventing the Affordable Care Act from working.
For the over 10 million adults between the ages of 18-64 who are now insured, the numbers are not mere statistics. They are opportunities for better health, obtaining necessary medications, and enjoying a longer life. Despite all of the criticisms heaped upon “Obamacare” by the charlatans and naysayers on the far right, the program is working as intended. For most Americans that is a good thing.

Senator Ron Wyden introduces a bill banning FBI backdoors

It's a legislative shot across the bow of the FBI, who are demanding back-doors in phones and other devices, claiming "children will die" unless our pocket supercomputers are designed to allow untrusted parties to secretly take them over.
Wyden points out that crypto that is as strong and well-implemented as possible is the best way to keep Americans' data safe.
Wyden makes one want to move to Oregon. It'd be nice to be represented by a lawmaker who wasn't a total, colossal asshole for a change.
U.S. government and independent experts have extensively documented the multi-billion dollar threat posed by constant cyberattacks from criminal organizations and foreign government-sponsored hackers. The U.S. government also urges private companies and individuals to protect sensitive personal and business data, including through the use of data security technologies such as encryption. The recent proposals from U.S. law enforcement officials to undercut the development and deployment of strong data security technologies by compelling companies to build backdoors in the security features of their products work against the overwhelming economic and national security interest in better data security.
Moreover, the decision of government officials to repeatedly mislead the American public about domestic surveillance activities has resulted in an erosion of public trust. Requiring computer hardware and software companies to now create intentional gaps in their data security products to facilitate further government access to personal data will undermine the effort to restore trust in the U.S. digital economy.
Government-driven technology mandates to weaken data security for the purpose of aiding government investigations would compromise national security, economic security and personal privacy.

Congress gives Native American lands to foreign mining company with new NDAA

Reuters/Gary Cameron Congress is poised to give a foreign mining company 2,400 acres of national forest in Arizona that is cherished ancestral homeland to Apache natives. Controversially, the measure is attached to annual legislation that funds the US Defense Department.
This week, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees quietly attached a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would mandate the handover of a large tract of Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tinto, which co-owns with Iran a uranium mine in Africa and which is 10-percent-owned by China.
The “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015” - named after the retiring chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services panels - includes the giveaway of Apache burial, medicinal, and ceremonial grounds currently within the bounds of Tonto. News of the land provision was kept under wraps until late Tuesday, when the bill was finally posted online.
The land proposed to be given to Resolution Copper, in exchange for other lands, includes prime territory Apaches have used for centuries to gather medicinal plants and acorns, and it is near a spot known as Apache Leap, a summit that Apaches jumped from to avoid being killed by settlers in the late 19th century.
Senator John McCain.(Reuters / Joshua Roberts )Lands included in the plan will stop 1,500 feet short of Apache Leap and will not initially include an area known as Oak Flats, though, when it comes to the oaks, contradictory legal parameters are but a minor hurdle for a company like Resolution Copper to eventually drill there.
The House may vote on the NDAA as soon as this week with rules included that would bar the Senate from amending the legislation. On Wednesday night, a last-minute effort to strip the land provision from the NDAA failed in the House Rules Committee, which voted to give one hour for debate over the NDAA in the House.
Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, told The Huffington Post he was saddened by news of the proposal, yet not all that surprised.
“Of all people, Apaches and Indians should understand, because we’ve gone through this so many times in our history,” Rambler said.
“The first thing I thought about was not really today, but 50 years from now, probably after my time, if this land exchange bill goes through, the effects that my children and children’s children will be dealing with,” Rambler added.
“Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland," Rambler said. "We’ve had dancers in that area forever - sunrise dancers - and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off from the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas.”
Arizona Sen. John McCain was instrumental in adding to the NDAA the land deal that had been pursued by Rio Tinto for a decade, according to HuffPo. Some in Congress were reportedly concerned with the deal, but it ultimately materialized thanks to economic assurances. Rio Tinto claims mining in Tonto will generate $61 billion in economic activity and 3,700 direct and indirect jobs over 40 years.
Rambler said whether Rio Tinto’s economic assertions are true or not, it may not matter.
“It seems like us Apaches and other Indians care more about what this type of action does to the environment and the effects it leaves behind for us, while others tend to think more about today and the promise of jobs, but not necessarily what our creator God gave to us,” he said.
Rambler said he was particularly concerned with long-term ramifications, including the company’s intent to use “block cave” mining, which means digging under the ore, causing it to collapse.
“What those mountains mean to us is that when the rain and the snow comes, it distributes it to us,” Rambler said. “It replenishes our aquifers to give us life.”
Resolution Copper has said its mining plan for the area has been filed with the National Forest Service and that it will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that supposedly protects federal lands.
AFP Photo / Jeff Topping
But Rambler said NEPA is no match for Resolution Copper’s intent.
“This is what will happen - the law in one area says there will be consultation, but the law in another area of the bill says the land exchange will happen within one year of enactment of this bill,” Rambler said. “So no matter what we’re doing within that one year, the consultation part won’t mean anything after one year. Because then it’s really theirs after that.”
Basically, NEPA will only protect lands that remain in federal hands. The rest is fair game, according to federal law.
“We would only have to do NEPA on any activity that would take place on remaining federal land,” said Arizona Bureau of Land Management official Carrie Templin.
The 2015 NDAA contains other land deals, including one that would subject 70,000 acres of Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and another provision that would give 1,600 acres from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State for purposes of industrial development, a plan that has spurred tribal protest.

Michigan License To Discriminate A Portent Of Impending Theocracy

It is astonishing, but the extremist christian fundamentalists are basing their punitive power on the religious freedom guarantee in the First Amendment; with Supreme Court approval.…
There has been no dearth of news stories, reports, and commentary over the past few months on the epidemic of racists, whether in law enforcement or the general population, either inflicting or attempting to inflict, punishment on African Americans for being African Americans. As noted, “there are certain groups who are adamant that as superior human beings they have authority to mete out punishment for violations of their beliefs that are usually borne of religion.”
Despite protections in the U.S. Constitution and federal and state laws, the past six years have seen an increase in religious fundamentalists claim they have theocratic authority to punish women, gays, and any American unwilling to comply with their theocratic edicts. It is apparent that Americans have no more constitutional protections from religious tyranny than unarmed African Americans have from racist cops shooting them with impunity. It is astonishing, but the extremist christian fundamentalists are basing their punitive power on the religious freedom guarantee in the First Amendment; with Supreme Court approval.
Before becoming one the Supreme Court’s papal-5 imposing the vatican’s edicts in the Humanae Vitae on America’s women, Justice Antonin Scalia firmly believed the Constitution’s Framers did not define “religious freedom” as the right to violate state or federal laws. In fact, in writing for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith, Scalia said that the First Amendment freedom of religion does not allow individuals to break the law: he said, “We have never held that an individual’s beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the state is free to regulate.” He said it would be “courting anarchy” to create exceptions every time a religious group claims that a law infringes on its religious freedom.
Around the nation over the past few years, repugicans have not “courted anarchy” in creating religious exceptions to established constitutional laws, they attempted to impose evangelical tyranny under the guise of “religious freedom.” There has been so much attention on trigger-happy cops exercising their racist freedom to shoot and kill unarmed African Americans recently that pundits overlooked biblical repugicans exercising religious freedom to impose theocracy on Michigan residents.
The latest religious tyranny is Michigan House Bill 5958, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that legalizes a christian extremist’s religious freedom to discriminate, among other atrocities in an alleged civilized society. But even that description understates the abomination about to be forced on Michigan residents as a prelude to the theocracy about to be unleashed on America. The law makes it legal to refuse service, deny employment, housing, and violate other citizens’ rights, any rights, if a theocrat claims it violates their religious freedom and objects on religious grounds. The bill’s proponents cried foul and claimed H.B. 5958 is not a “license to discriminate,” but a Democratic representative proved it is that and much more.
The Democratic representative, Jeff Irwin, was concerned the RFRA was more than protecting religious freedom so he introduced an amendment to the legislation that explicitly stated that RFRA would not permit evangelical actions such as putting up a sign that says, “No christians will be served.” Obviously, a bill that was not a license to discriminate would not necessitate such an amendment, and to prove the religious repugicans were lying, the amendment was rejected out-of-hand by the majority repugicans who would not countenance language that explicitly forbid discrimination masked as “religious freedom.”
However, as atrocious as legalized discrimination may appear, and it is an abomination, it is the legislation’s other uses that should terrify Michigan residents. For example, as the ultimate “conscience clause,” an extremist christian in the healthcare industry can put a stop to medical care if they claim their objection is founded on religious beliefs. Under the legislation, a healthcare provider would be obliged to send a patient away. It is bad enough that religious pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions if they “think” a person is gay, a woman is a single mother, or the patient is the “wrong religion,” but that is just the beginning. A first responder, whether law enforcement, fire protection, or ambulance personnel can use “religious objections” to refuse to provide service to a person or group they feel violates their religion’s tenets.
Americans just cannot accept that their freedoms, all of their freedoms, are under siege by a small majority of religious extremists. It is important for all Americans to comprehend that in Iraq and Syria, brutal islamic extremists in ISIL are a small majority and yet they are wreaking death and destruction on the region. The extremists in the christian wingnuttery movement, as author Chris Hedges explains and the fundamentalists admit, adhere to an ideology that calls for the “eradication of social ‘deviants’ including gay men and lesbians, muslims, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, left-wing activists, undocumented workers, poor African-Americans and those dismissed as ‘nominal christians’—meaning christians who do not embrace this peculiar misinterpretation of the bible—will also be ruthlessly repressed and quickly eradicated. That also includes ‘deviant’ government (secular), ‘deviant’ media, ‘deviant’ schools, and ‘deviant’cults that will be crushed. In their place “all institutions will propagate ‘christian and ‘family values, and all education (indoctrination) will be handed over to the cult.
None of those prospects are imaginary, or overstated by any means, and any American that believes that because they claim christianity as their faith, or live under a founding document that protects them from religious tyranny are safe, they are deluded. Americans likely believed the days when white law enforcement officers could murder African Americans with impunity were over; recent events prove that is  not the case. Americans also likely believed that their Constitution protected them from religious imposition, or guaranteed their equality under the law; that is also no longer the case after the Supreme Court deconstructed and demolished the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses in the First Amendment.
The Michigan RFRA is a product of a lazy apathetic population that just cannot comprehend that elections have consequences. Subsequently, now that the religio-wingnuts control both houses of Congress, there is nothing except President Obama to stop them from passing personhood laws the House has passed every year since 2011. Senate repugicans introduced the same “life begins at intercourse” legislation as well, but they were thwarted because they did not have the majority; that ends next month. The recent midterms put more wingnut religious extremists in the House and  Senate than the 2010 elections, and now that they are in power, the Michigan RFRA will look tame compared to what morons like Ted Cruz have planned for the people who will wish that a “license to discriminate” was their only worry.

Texas Public School Teaching Kids That Jews Practice 'Flawed Religion' and that Blacks Are 'Descended from Ham'

A religious studies professor found instances of students learning a literal interpretation of the bible. A report put out by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund reveals that in some Texas public schools, classes on the bible's impact on history are being taught from a wingnut, fundamentalist christian standpoint.
A Southern methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey found instances of students learning a literal interpretation of the bible, that the earth is approximately 6,000 years old and that judaism is a “flawed and incomplete religion” with materials “designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the bible’s influence.”
TFN also found a lesson explaining “racial origins traced from Noah.”
The claim that Africans are descendants of Ham, whom Noah curses in  Genesis 9 after he “saw the nakedness of his father,” has long been used as a biblical justification for  anti-black racism and slavery.
The report [ PDF] even found courses that embrace the christian nationalist ideology of the religio-wingnuts, including inauthentic quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers:
In a few districts, bible courses echo false claims made by the religio-wingnuts that the Founding Fathers were largely orthodox protestant christians who intended for the United States to be a distinctively christian nation with laws and a form of government based on the bible. This logic is implied, for example, in a Dalhart ISD daily lesson plan: “The student understands the delusions, and idiocies taken from the biblical texts and applied to elements of the American system of government.” These claims are problematic not only because they are historically inaccurate but also because they figure prominently in attempts by the religio-winguts to guarantee a privileged position in the public square for their own religious delusions above those of others.
Lubbock and Prosper ISDs are among the districts that relied on material from the NCBCPS [national coven for bible corruption of public schools] course on this topic. Since at least 2005, the NCBCPS corruption has included a 10-page selection of isolated quotations (at least five of them spurious) praising the bible, dog and christianity set against a blurry backdrop depicting soldiers carrying an American flag.

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Betty Grable
Betty Grable

5 Amazing Health Benefits Of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in savory foods. Cinnamon is good for your health. For example, one teaspoon of cinnamon packs as much antioxidant potency as a half cup of blueberries, and cinnamon's natural antimicrobial properties have been shown to fight strains of E. coli.
Also, while technically not sweet, 'sweet spices' like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger have been shown to boost satiety and mimic sweetness, which allows you to cut back on sugar in nearly anything, from your morning cup of Joe to a batch of homemade muffins.

Thousand-year-old crucible provides more evidence of the Vikings in Canada’s Arctic

Baffin Island - photo by Mike Beauregard / FlickrAlthough it was found about fifty years ago, archaeologists have just determined that a small stone container discovered on Baffin Island in Canada’s Arctic region was actually part of metallurgical equipment used by the Vikings around the year 1000 A.D.
The findings were revealed in an article published in the journal Geoarchaeology, by archaeologist Patricia Sutherland. She and her co-authors report that scanning electron microscopy was employed to determine if metal traces were present in a small stone container (about 48 mm tall) from an archaeological site on Cape Tanfield, part of the southern coast of Baffin Island.
They found that the interior of the vessel contained fragments of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, as well as small spherules of glass which are formed when rock is heated to high temperatures. The object is a crucible for melting bronze, likely in order to cast it into small tools or ornaments. The crucible appears to have been broken while in use, suggesting that it was likely used at the locality where it was found.
The artifact was originally excavated during the 1960s and identified as the fragment of a small soapstone pot made by the local indigenous people, the Palaeo-Eskimo who occupied the area in the centuries around 1000 A.D. However among the Palaeo-Eskimo artifacts Sutherland has identified a wide range of specimens that resemble those used by Europeans of the Viking and medieval periods. These include lengths of yarn spun from the fur of local animals, whetstones bearing metal traces from tools that had been sharpened, and tally sticks of the type used for recording transactions. The authors write:
Copper–tin alloy occurs in crevices between mineral grains, on angular corners of relatively hard albite, within as well as on top of patches of organic-rich matrix, and on both the interior surface and broken edge of the vessel. This variety of settings, together with the “shredded” aspect of individual particles and the presence of glass spherules that are similar to those associated with high-temperature processes, are consistent with the use and breakage of the vessel in an environment where metalworking occurred. One or more small amounts of tin and copper or copper–tin alloy appear to have been melted, probably for the casting of small bronze objects. The broken condition of the crucible would suggest that it was used at the site. The specimen was recovered from an area that also yielded pieces of spun cordage, bar-shaped whetstones bearing traces of smelted metals on the working surfaces, and other specimens related to early European technologies that are consistent with a Norse presence. SEM-EDS analysis of soil matrix from the Nanook site also produced evidence of smelted metal particles.
The Vikings and their medieval Norse descendants established colonies in southwestern Greenland about 1000 AD, and occupied the region for over 400 years. After more than a decade of research on material from the Eastern Arctic, the evidence indicates a significant early European presence in Arctic Canada.The Norse would likely have travelled to the area in order to obtain furs and walrus ivory, either by hunting or by trading with the indigenous people.
Dr. Sutherland comments, “the crucible adds an intriguing new element to this emerging chapter in the early history of northern Canada.”
The Inuit and earlier peoples of Arctic Canada cold-hammered meteoric iron and native copper in order to make tools, but neither they nor other indigenous peoples of northern North America practised high-temperature metalworking. This crucible may be the earliest evidence of high-temperature non-ferrous metalworking in North America to the north of what is now Mexico.
Click here to read the article Evidence of Early Metalworking in Arctic Canada from Geoarchaeology
To learn more about Dr. Sutherland’s work, see Arctic encounters between Norse and Natives

Missing tree-climbing sculpture found in different tree

A tree-climbing sculpture that vanished from a park in Dublin, Ohio, reappeared in the same park but in a different tree.
The fiberglass climbing man, one of four displayed in trees in Coffman Park since 2008, was found “sitting” on a lower branch of a small tree near the skate park.
The $9,000 sculpture, which city officials speculated might have been blown from its original perch by high winds, sustained only minor damage, which will be repaired before it is reinstalled.
The four climbers, together titled Exuvia, were created by Todd C. Smith, a tree-climbing enthusiast from LaGrange, Kentucky.

Bank robber's getaway thwarted by heavy stash bag

An armed bank robber has been arrested in China while trying to make his getaway - because the cash bag he stole was too heavy.
The 29-year old man struggled to load the bag onto his motorcycle in Huludao City in the northeast Liaoning Province. The bag contained around 1.77 million Yuan, (£185,000, $290,000), and weighed more than 13 stone (182 lbs).
The robber had used a replica gun to threaten a member of bank staff who was carrying the money from an armored van into the bank building. He was shot in the leg during his failed escape and is being treated in hospital.

Police say the man owns a shoe-repair shop and committed the crime in order to get enough money to be able pay his mortgage. The robber said: "I hate myself for doing that. How could I do such a thing? I will treat my parents and my wife kindly if one day I'm let out of prison.”

Couple made 911 call about fake shooting to keep police officers busy while they shoplifted

Captain Sheila Lingle of Salisbury Police in North Carolina admits it is one of the strangest shoplifting cases she's seen recently. A couple reportedly called 911 about a fake shooting as a distraction to keep officers busy while they shoplifted from Walmart. According to the report, a woman called 911 just after 7:00am on Tuesday to report that someone had been shot at a business. The caller said that "a woman was down."
The call sparked a large response from police and emergency workers, but nothing was found and witnesses in the area said they had not seen anything unusual or heard any gunshots. At the same time, about two miles away in the Walmart, police say 33-year-old Mark Shrader, Jr and 32-year-old Erin Maureen Shrader, from China Grove, were filling up a shopping cart with items. Just moments earlier, Erin Shrader reportedly borrowed a cell phone from a Walmart employee. The employee overheard her calling 911 to report the shooting. According to police, the employee thought the incident was odd, and when she got the phone back, took it to her manager.
When they looked at the call history, it showed that the last number called was only three digits: 911. Walmart called police and then started watching the Shraders. According to the report, they had filled up a shopping cart, but realized they were being watched, so they left the cart and walked out of the store. Police say they couple then went to their car, which was parked beside the store. That's when the Shraders took items from beneath their shirts and placed them in the car, then walked back into the store and started to fill a second shopping cart.
An undercover police officer then confronted the couple in the store. When additional officers arrived, Mark Shrader was searched and police reportedly found a crack pipe in his pocket and a second crack pipe in his boot. Mark Shrader, Jr was charged with drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Erin Maureen Shrader was charged with concealment of merchandise and misuse of the 911 system. Two sets of sheets, valued at $37.29, were found in the car. Police also noted that the license plate of the car had been covered over with paper.

Lady's 'Skywalker' passport cancelled for being 'frivolous'

A woman who added Skywalker as a middle name has had her passport cancelled after being told her application was "frivolous". Laura Matthews, 29, had been told her signature - "L. Skywalker" - infringed a trademark in July this year. She was issued with the document several weeks later, after threatening to take legal action.
But she has now been told the passport was issued in error and has been cancelled. Ms Matthews said the decision has left her feeling "upset, frustrated and disappointed". A Home Office spokesman said: "Protecting the integrity of the UK passport is vital and we do not accept a change of name for frivolous reasons." In a letter to Ms Matthews, the Passport Office said its "published guidance provides that we will refuse to recognize a change of name... if it is made for a bet or frivolous purpose.
"Additionally, in your case, the signature used in the passport is different to your surname and by your own admission was done for 'a laugh'. Regrettably, an error was made in issuing your passport," the letter said. "I am sorry that the error was made but I have to inform you that your passport will be cancelled." Ms Matthews said this was the fourth time the Passport Office had changed its mind about her case.
"Now I'm not sure if it's my signature they have a problem with, or my middle name," she said. "All I know it's extremely disappointing that I've been let down again by an organization which doesn't seem to know if it's coming or going. I don't think I'm going to be able to fight it. I don't know what else I can do." The Home Office spokesman added: "We have apologized to the applicant and agreed to meet the cost of a new passport in a name that meets the published guidance."

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Worst In 1,200 Years

Record heat is magnifying the effects of the state-wide drought, according to climate scientists from the University of Minnesota and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The Day The Sea Turned To Gunk

It was as if the ocean has been turned in to a giant cup of cappuccino, a particularly frothy one at that. This display of nature's occasional freakiness had people scratching their heads in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sea Point Beach on the outskirts of the city was transformed in to a foamy mess when the sea suddenly frothed itself into a frenzy. It seems that a variety of impurities in the seawater combined at just the right amounts and, shaken and stirred up by the powerful motion of the waves, formed bubbles.

Cosmic Eye

The world's largest telescope has gotten its official construction go-ahead, keeping the enormous instrument on track to start observing the heavens in 2024. 

Is It True That Jupiter Protects Earth?

Is it true that Jupiter could be considered our friendliest planet because - without Jupiter - comets would be more likely to hit us? The answer is yes... and no. Some astronomers believe that one reason Earth is habitable is that the gravity of Jupiter does help protect us from some comets.
Long-period comets, in particular, enter the solar system from its outer reaches. Jupiter's gravity is thought to sling most of these fast-moving ice balls out of the solar system before they can get close to Earth.

Magnetic Heart

Scientists believe they have solved a 40-year-old mystery about what caused rocks collected by NASA's Apollo astronauts to become magnetized.

Suspicious package left in bank turned out to be a rabbit

Police officers in Bad Säckingen, Germany, were unprepared for what they found when a bank employee called to report a suspicious package on Tuesday.
The cloth bag was left in the bank in the Baden-Württemberg town, but passed unnoticed until clerks became alarmed when it began to move. Rather than risk a mauling from whatever might be inside they decided to call the authorities.
Police cautiously opened the bag to find that the mysterious creature was in fact a rabbit. As they were unable to find either the animal's owner or place for it in a shelter, it has temporarily been taken on by a vet's office.
The rightful owner of the abandoned rabbit is welcome to come forward, but police said they would check claims carefully to discourage people looking for a free Xmas roast dinner.

Buzz to Stun

Electric eels deploy a double-pulse of power to first detect and then immobilize prey. 


Pufferfish can breathe while inflated, but it may actually tire them out and put them at risk of being eaten once they've deflated. 

Wolf Kill

Disruption in pack social cohesion can free more wolves to mate, creating more mouths to feed in a tighter range, 

Snake Bit

Hear the answer straight from the anaconda's mouth (so to speak) -- Paul Rosolie describes his experience to DNews. 

The Death of an Orangutan

The animal was found on a palm oil plantation in critical condition, riddled with air-rifle pellets, an animal protection group said. 

Animal Pictures