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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Daily Drift

The Twenty-First of our trees of December ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Yuletide Greetings ... !
Today is  -  Yule 
and the Winter Solstice

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Votorantim, Brazil
Burnaby, Henry Farm, Montreal, New Liskeard, Ottawa, Quebec, Regina and Wanless Park, Canada
Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Puerres, Colombia
Quito, Ecuador
Boaco, Nicaragua
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Tirana, Albania
Kobilja Glava and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Ruse, Sofia and Varna, Bulgaria
Huddersfield, Kent and London, England
Cerny, Lyon, Oberhaslach, Puteaux, Rouen, Villeurbanne and Weitbruch, France
Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Wasserfuhr, Germany
Athens, Greece
Reykjavik, Iceland 
Dublin, Ireland
Catania, Ivrea, Naples, Ravenna and Rome, Italy
Riga, Latvia
Alkmaar, Duivendrecht and Utrecht, Netherlands
Nesoddtangen, Norway
Lagoa, Portugal
Moscow, Ryazan and Saratov, Russia
Pristina, Serbia
Madrid, Seville and Torrent, Spain
Kista, Sweden
Ankara and Catalca, Turkey
Rangoon, Burma
Bangalore, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Dhanbad, Jahanabad, Kolkata, Patna, Shillong, Shimla and Trichur, India
Jakarta, Indonesia
Tabriz and Tehran, Iran
Haifa, Israel
Otsu, Japan
Ayer Keroh and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Singapore, Singapore
Bangkok, Thailand
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Viet Tri, Vietnam
Algiers, Algeria
Cape Town and Randburg, South Africa
Lusaka, Zambia
The Pacific
Homebush, Subiaco and Sydney, Australia

Today in History

68   Vespian, a gruff-spoken general of humble origins, enters Rome and is named emperor by the Senate.  
1620   The Pilgrims land at or near Plymouth Rock.  
1708   French forces seize control of the eastern shore of Newfoundland after winning a victory at St. John's.  
1790   Samuel Slater opens the first cotton mill in the United States (in Rhode Island).  
1862   The U.S. Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor to be awarded to Navy personnel who have distinguished themselves by their gallantry in action.  
1866   Indians, led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, kill Captain William J. Fetterman and 79 other men who had ventured out from Fort Phil Kearny to cut wood.  
1910   Over 2.5 million plague victims are reported in the An-Hul province of China.  
1928   President Calvin Coolidge signs the Boulder Dam bill.  
1944   German troops surround the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne in Belgium.  
1945   General George S. Patton dies at the age of 60 after being injured in a car accident.  
1946   An earthquake and tidal wave kill hundreds in Japan.  
1963   The Turk minority riots in Cyprus to protest anti-Turkish revisions in the constitution.  
1964   Great Britain's House of Commons votes to ban the death penalty.  
1965   Four pacifists are indicted in New York for burning draft cards.
1969   American draft evaders gather for a holiday dinner in Montreal, Canada.
1986   500,000 Chinese students gather in Shanghai's People's Square calling for democratic reforms, including freedom of the press.
1988   Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York explodes in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, an hour after departure. All 259 passengers were killed in the explosion caused by a bomb– hidden inside an audio cassette player — that detonated inside the cargo area when the plane was at an altitude of 31,000 feet. A shower of airplane parts falling from the sky also killed 11 Lockerbie residents.  
1994   Popocatepetl, a volcano in Mexico spews forth gases and ash after nearly a half-century of dormancy.  
1995   The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.  
2004   A suicide bomber attacks the forward operating base next to the US military airfield at Mosul, Iraq, killing 22 people; it is the deadliest suicide attack on US soldiers during the Iraq War.

How Much Do You Really Know About Santa?

Did you know that Santa Claus moves at 650 miles per second on Christmas Eve? Or that he used to be a skinny bishop in the Middle East who placed candy in children's shoes? Or that the modern-day version of Santa Claus was illustrated by the same person, Thomas Nast, who illustrated the Republican Party's elephant?
Personal Creations made an infographic that will take your Santa IQ from zero to a hundred in only two minutes of reading.

I told you so ...


9 Inventions from 'Futurama' That We Need Right Now

The television show Futurama offered us a glimpse into a glorious future--a technological wonderland--brought to us by Hypnotoad, all glory to Him. We experience it as Fry who, like us, adjusts to new machines and products previously only imagined.
Among the inventions on Futurama, Bachelor Chow is the one that I find most appealing. It's like dog food for humans. Just pour some in a bowl, add water, and eat. There's no need for any cooking and barely any need for cleanup. It would save so much time to have instant, cheap food.
Bachelor Chow is 1 of 9 great Futurama inventions rounded up by Uproxx. Others include the transport tubes shown during the opening sequence and the more dubious smelloscope.

President Obama Outplayed The repugicans Again – So Stop Complaining

Once again, President Obama has out-maneuvered repugican plans to further wreak havoc on the nation, and although a clean funding bill would have been ideal …
Barack Obama,  John Boehner
It is a safe bet that everyone, at some point in their lives, has jumped to a conclusion based on errant information or, worse, failure to see beyond their own biases. On more than one occasion, President Obama has been the recipient of unfair criticism from the left and members of his own party simply because they failed to comprehend he was thinking several steps ahead of them. The repugicans have still not learned this lesson and despite outrage from the left, the so-called CRomnibus passed and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell now understand that the President just punked them again; he also won some major victories in getting the funding bill passed. In fact, as a former anonymous congressional staffer remarked, Obama deftly manipulated Republicans into what is a “Total public repudiation of their ultra-wingnut nullification caucus they had planned for the rest of his term.”
First, John Boehner never intended for Congress to pass the CRomnibus. His deceitful plan was to insert what he thought were a couple of poison pills Democrats would rail against so repugicans could pass a very short-term funding bill. In fact, House leadership promised to pull the CRomnibus for lack of votes and replace it with a short-term continuing resolution that would push the entire funding debate into early next year when repugicans could enact their “Obama nullification” agenda for the Koch brothers.
Now, a repugican-controlled Congress has lost its “power of the purse” to eviscerate several federal agencies in 2015. Remember, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already promised the Koch brothers last June that when repugicans controlled the House and Senate, they would “go after the federal government, all of it” in 2015 by threatening to shut down the government unless Obama caved. It was an ill-advised plan that President Obama anticipated and thwarted.
The repugican leadership intended to use a rash of short term government funding emergencies, and a series of shutdown crises, to force Obama’s hand on several issues including repealing Dodd-Frank in its entirety, eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, reverse the President’s immigration action, and repeal the health law. It is important to remember, that repugicans were not too concerned about blowback from shutting down the government because they did not suffer any negative repercussions from the October 2013 shutdown as evidenced by their midterm victories last month.
Indeed, there is still a relatively large contingent of repugicans and wingnut voters who support using the shutdown threat to blackmail the President to enact a “purely wingnut agenda.” That threat is now non-existent because Obama eliminated the repugican’s promised plan to use funding the government as leverage to advance the Koch brothers’ agenda for the rest of the President’s term. The repugicans cannot use the shutdown threat throughout 2015 and they certainly will not try it going into the 2016 presidential primaries.
There was, and still is, outrage among progressives and liberals alike about the so-called end of the 2010 financial reform law (Dodd-Frank), but the provision inserted into the CRomnibus is relatively insignificant. The lion’s share of the 2010 financial reform law is completely intact, and since the President prevented a repugican Congress from using funding the government to repeal the entire law, it is safe. There is an easy to understand explanation of why the “push-out” rule governing “some” commodities is the least important aspect of Dodd-Frank here. Not only does the provision in the CRomnibus not affect all derivative swaps, it has no impact on most of them and leaves the highly effective financial reform law intact and repugicans have no leverage to repeal or gut the successful law.
One has to give repugicans credit for creativity in devising so-called poison pills to kill the funding bill such as allegedly eliminating the Clean Water Act’s enforcement power. The provision in the CRomnibus prohibited the EPA from using the CWA to regulate backyard and agricultural ponds and ditches, a provision that was already firmly entrenched in the law. However, without investigating exactly what the repugican rider actually said, the idea drew outrage from environmentalists concerned the CWA was finished; including this column.
Even though the idea of cutting retirement benefits is abominable, the rider in the CRomnibus was supported by unions and multi-company plan administrators because some badly-managed pension funds are on the verge of insolvency; and soon. The director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multi-employer Plans saidThis bipartisan agreement gives pension trustees the tools they need to maintain plan solvency, preserves benefits for the long haul, and protects the 10.5 million multi-employer participants. With time, and money, running out on the retirement security of millions of Americans, moving this bipartisan proposal forward now is not only timely, but necessary.” The danger, however, is allowing the Koch brothers’ State Policy Network and American Legislative Exchange Council use the threat of insolvency to go after other pension plans, including public sector plans that are very healthy due to Wall Street’s growth thanks to President Obama’s handling of the economy. But now that repugicans cannot use funding the government as a hostage, their promise to the Koch brothers will go unfulfilled.
Once again, President Obama has out-maneuvered repugican plans to further wreak havoc on the nation, and although a clean funding bill would have been ideal, it was never going to happen because repugicans. Boehner once again miscalculated the President’s ability to see through a dirty devious plan to hold the country hostage every 60 days with government funding crises that were certain to last throughout the rest of the President’s term. With no shutdown threats to extract concessions the people would regret in the short and long term, the President not only saved the people a world of misery, he outplayed repugicans and eliminated their ability to use the budget process to enact the Koch brothers’ agenda.

Obama Adds To His Historic Achievements By Ending The U.S. Isolation of Cuba

President Obama began dismantling one of the final relics of Cold War foreign policy today by announcing the historic decision that his administration is ending the U.S. isolation of Cuba.
The president said,
In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.
Obama makes history on Cuba
There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 — just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.
I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people and our values through engagement. After all, these fifty years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.
The embargo will remain in place because it has been legislatively codified. Congress would need to pass a bill lifting the embargo before fifty plus years of U.S. policy towards Cuba could be fully reversed, but the president used his executive powers to do something that is an historic shift in approach in relations with Cuba.
Obama has taken a step that a majority of Americans have been in favor of for decades. Gallup has polled on the support for normalization of relations with Cuba, and in every year since 1999 at least 55% of Americans polled supported a normalization of relations.
The president was correct decades have demonstrated that the policy of isolation and embargo has failed. If anything, the approach that the US government adopted has strengthened the Castro brothers’ hold on power. If the United States wants a democratic Cuba, it needs to open the door to democracy.
Previous presidents have thought about Cuba, but Obama was one who was bold enough to take the step. What the president announced was history being made, and it could represent the beginning of a new phase in U.S./Cuba relations.

President Obama’s Cuba Surprise Sends John Boehner and Mitch McConnell Reeling

President Obama’s December Cuba surprise has sent both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell reeling as the president has again demonstrated his tactical superiority over the repugican congressional leadership.
Speaker of the House John Boehner reached deep into the empty bag of repugican shrieking points and pulled out the old Obama is caving to dictators line.
Boehner said, “Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not one second sooner. There is no ‘new course’ here, only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies. If anything, this emboldens all state sponsors of terrorism, as they now have an even better idea of what the president meant when he once told Russian leaders he would have ‘more flexibility’ after his re-election. We have seen this before, and I fear we will see it again. Despite these reservations about the president’s changes in our policy toward this communist regime, we all feel great joy and relief for Alan Gross and his family. Americans do not forget our own, and we speak out today because we have a moral responsibility not to forget anyone anywhere who longs for liberty and dignity.”
Mitch McConnell had even less to say. McConnell would only say that agreed with Marco Rubio (r-FL), “Sounds like the correct response to me. I think he knows more about this than almost anybody in the Senate if not everybody in the Senate and I wouldn’t differ with his characterization.”
Rubio’s response consisted of a temper tantrum where the Florida repugican compared Obama to Jimmy Carter.
After causing chaos within the repugican cabal with his immigration executive actions, President Obama has exposed more fractures and divides with his announcement of a change in policy towards Cuba. The end result has been Boehner disagreeing with Chamber of Commerce, House repugicans disagreeing with each other, and Mitch McConnell looking like a stooge by offering up a variation of yeah, what he said as a response.
The repugican control of Congress has unleashed President Obama, and if the last two months are any indication, Boehner and McConnell are in for a very difficult two years.

National Park to remove all trash cans in bid to stop overflowing rubbish

All rubbish cans at Litchfield National Park in Australia's Northern Territory will be removed in an unusual tactic to stem overflowing rubbish at the popular tourist destination. The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT advised that, as of January 19, it will be up to the 300,000 annual visitors to be responsible for removing their own rubbish and disposing of it elsewhere.
Top End Region District Manager Lincoln Wilson said they were confident that placing the responsibility of rubbish removal on to visitors would work. “We are confident that phasing out of rubbish cans within Litchfield National Park will be a win for visitors, taxpayers and the environment.
“The park does not have recycling capacity and to stop recyclable items adding to landfill we encourage all visitors to take their litter away with them to centers that allow for reuse and recycling, along with environmentally safe disposal of items such as batteries, oils and chemicals.”
Rangers will monitor the Wangi Falls, Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole day use and campground areas where cans will be removed to ensure the measure is effective. Mr Wilson added that it would also reduce the risk of native wildlife spreading the rubbish and building a dependency on it.

The French Court's Royal Ban On Smiles

During the days of Louis XIV, smiling - in real life and in portraiture - was considered gauche, not least because dental care was lacking. Then one smile sparked a revolution.
In the fall of 1787, the art establishment found itself shaken by a portrait hung in the Louvre by Elizabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun. Her sin? The smile depicted on her visage was not of the accepted tight-lipped, subtle variety, but rather portrayed her with mouth ajar, revealing her pearly whites. This seemingly innocuous painting was so disruptive and subversive in a France on the cusp of the Ancient Regime's demise.

Controversy as school replaces blind child's cane with swimming pool noodle

The parents of a blind child from North Kansas City are outraged after they say their son’s cane was taken away from him at school by a bus driver. Eight-year-old Dakota Nafzinger attends Gracemor Elementary School. Rachel Nafzinger said school staff took away her son’s cane as punishment for bad behaviour on the bus and then gave him a swimming pool noodle to use as a substitute. North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk confirmed taking away Dakota’s cane, calling it school property that was given to him when he enrolled.

The Idiot Ohio repugican Kasich Forces Public Schools To Partner with Religion Or Lose Taxpayer Funding

Ohio Governor John Kasich fucked up making "religious extremist duty" mandatory in Ohio.
Bradley SabinAmerican children, and their parents for that matter, should be thankful they live in a nation that prohibits religious indoctrination in the public school system. In many islamic countries, the government forces religious instruction on every student using taxpayer money that is just the price those poor people pay for living in a harsh theocracy controlled by religious extremists.
Of course, the religious leaders in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and many others assert that “faith plays an important role in shaping the lives of young people,” and their justification for forcing religion on students is because “dog has a purpose for each and every one of them (students) and we’re helping them find it.” That is the case in wide swathes of Syria and Iraq where the islamic state (ISIL) closed down “infidel schools” and forced teachers to undergo religious instruction training or lose funding, and likely their lives, unless they learn to teach religious extremism. Many Americans are likely thinking, “thank dog we live in America where that kind of religious edict is illegal and un-constitutional,” but they would be wrong in thinking America is not on pace to become a harsh religious theocracy.
Obviously, there are christian extremists in America who believe, like the islamic state extremists, that it is the government’s duty to force religious instruction on public schools, and Ohio Governor John Kasich made that “religious extremist duty” mandatory in Ohio. Kasich issued a statement through a spokesman informing Ohio schools that if they fail to align with christian covens, they will lose funding. It should disabuse any American of the idea that this sad country is exceptional; unless they consider theocracy a la ISIL exceptional.
A new mentoring program funded with taxpayer dollars requires ALL Ohio school districts to become partners with a faith-based coven (cult) and a corporation in order to have access to the public school money. The initiative is the brain-child of delusional religious repugican Governor John Kasich and provides funding to mentor at-risk students, but only if the schools allow a church and corporation to control the program. According to the initiative, “failure to incorporate a faith-based non-profit (christian cult) will eliminate a school district’s eligibility for the taxpayer funding.”
When asked why Kasich is forcing public schools to spend taxpayer money for incorporating religion in schools, his spokesman said, “The governor believes faith-based covens play an important role in the lives of young people. The dog has a purpose for each and every one of them and we’re helping them to find it.” And, any Ohio district that thinks for a second that using taxpayer dollars to insert religion in public schools is wrong will not get funding. ISIL leaders would be proud of Kasich because there are no exceptions according to one of Kasich’s theocratic 'advisers'. The United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson said if any school district expects taxpayer dollars for their program, “You must include a faith-based partner.”
Another one of Kasich’s theocratic underlings, and senior policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, Buddy Harris, broke the good news to a gathering of cult agitators that they are now firmly entrenched in, and will soon control, public education. He said that any school district’s application for taxpayer money must include a corporation and place of worship in its partnership. According to Harris, any “partnership” that dares exclude a faith-based group (church) will not qualify for public school tax dollars because “faith is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor.” Translation; religion runs the program with corporations, and schools are subject to oversight of the “senior partners.”
Kasich’s theocratic initiative is part and parcel of the religious right fundamentalists’ “Onward christian Soldier” campaign to eradicate  “deviant schools and replace them with institutions that will propagate christian family values by issuing government edicts that all education will be handed over to the cult,” and funded with taxpayer dollars. It is now the law in Ohio that joins several other religious repugican states using taxpayer dollars for public schools for christian religious instruction in private, charter, and public schools.
Sadly, since the vatican-5 on the Supreme Court deconstructed and demolished the Establishment, Separation, and Free Exercise clauses in the First Amendment, there is little redress for any American opposed to their child suffering religious brainwashing against their will. Despite the, soon to be abolished,  provision that public school dollars could not be used to pay cults to control curriculum and indoctrinate students, repugican governors and legislatures across the nation are violating the provision with impunity. Like the Internal Revenue Service’s abject fear of challenging evangelical clergy violating their 501 c tax-exempt status by campaigning from the pulpit, the Department of Justice, state and federal, are terrified of enforcing the law because of the unwritten mortal sin prohibiting challenging evangelical christians.
In states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, to name but a few, repugicans are blatantly funneling public school money into religious instruction with impunity. In Louisiana, for example, the State Supreme Court ruled that religious Governor Bobby Jindal’s scheme of diverting public school funding to private religious schools is “unconstitutional and violates the Louisiana Constitution.” However, since Jindal refuses to acknowledge that the state, or federal, Constitution has supremacy over theocratic edicts, the taxpayer dollars continue flowing freely for religious brainwashing.
In fact, across America, taxpayers are spending over $1 billion on religious brainwashing in public charter schools alone with no government accountability due to the official terror of violating that despicable “unwritten mortal sin.” It is that government fear of theocrats that empowered Ohio Governor Kasich to force public schools to “partner with” cults to qualify for taxpayer dollars for public schools; or in Ohio’s case, corporate christian madrassas.
If any American believed this nation is not rushing toward an ISIL-like theocracy, with apparent government support, they have been in a coma. Kasich’s move is the most blatant sign to date that the U.S. Constitution, or Founders’ intent, prohibiting religious control of the government or public education was a nice idea that will likely be as extinct as secular schools are in Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Religion Kills Child

A Canadian toddler has died from an infection that could have been easily treated. 

Traffic police officers in trouble after their speed camera was stolen as they slept while on duty

Two traffic police officers, who dozed off in Rome, Italy, while on duty and woke up to find their expensive speed camera had been stolen, are facing suspension. The officers were supposed to be tracking speed in the Casilina area on Friday night when they fell asleep in their car. They awoke at around 2am on Saturday to find that their speed camera, which was perched on a tripod in front of the vehicle, had been stolen.
At first, it was thought the officers could have been “drugged” by sleeping gas placed in the car’s ventilation system. But it was later concluded that they simply nodded off, perhaps aided by the warmth of the car's heater.
It’s a nap that could cost them dearly as the pair now face a disciplinary process, and possible suspension. The speed camera was part of a range introduced in the Italian capital in September last year.

Police question thinking behind Irish tourist's positioning of kayak on roof of his car

A senior police officer in New Zealand is astounded that a tourist drove along a busy road with a kayak tied to his roof crossways, endangering other traffic. The visitor from Ireland was stopped by a police patrol on State Highway 25A between Kopu and Hikuai on Sunday afternoon.
Rather than tying the kayak to the roof of his car lengthways, the tourist had attached the kayak crossways, so its ends were protruding over either side of the car.
District road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace said the man told police he had secured the kayak that way so it would not damage his car. "To make matters worse the officer was already on her way to a vehicle crash, and this driver's behavior could very easily have caused another - imagine if he had encountered a cyclist driving like this," she said.
Update: It turns out that the driver wasn't Irish, but Jonathan Waters from Auckland, and he disputes the version of events as described in the police report.

Intoxicated motorist stopped as he drove with four flat tires and deployed airbags

A 57-year-old man was arrested in Omaha on Tuesday morning for his sixth DUI in Nebraska. An officer reports seeing Richard Curzon driving while straddling the center line with four flat tires. The car's air bags had also been deployed.
The officer reported seeing the car at about 11:30pm on Monday. The driver took off when officers tried to stop him. A low speed chase ended nearby. Officers had to use a Taser to take the man into custody. Curzon was taken to Bergan Mercy Hospital.
A preliminary blood test revealed he had a Blood Alcohol Content of .253, more than three times the legal limit. A check of his records shows Curzon has two convictions for DUI and four cases pending.

Police also believe Curzon was involved in at least one hit and run accident, so he was booked for leaving the scene of a property damage accident. He also faces charges of felony driving with a revoked license, felony flight to avoid arrest, willful reckless driving, bond review, having an open container and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Man arrested for shoplifting during 'Shop with a Cop' event

A Florida man faces allegations of retail theft, accused of shoplifting from a Walmart at a most inopportune time.
Grant Scott Timm, 35, was arrested last Wed­nesday evening on a charge of retail petit theft with a value of $100 or less after he was allegedly caught shoplifting at the Walmart in Lecanto during the Shop with a Cop event hosted by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).
Shop with a Cop brings numerous deputies, firefighters and underprivileged children together to shop for Christmas gifts. According to the arrest report, a deputy found Timm acting suspiciously and removing items in various sections of the Walmart before leaving the store. A deputy approached Timm in the parking lot and asked him if he had purchased anything.
Timm said no, but said he took some steaks, the report said. Timm reportedly produced a package of steaks and a packaged bicycle computer from his waistband. He stated to the deputy that he was hungry and did not have any money to pay for the items. Authorities later found methadone tablets, not prescribed to him, inside a cigarette carton in Timm’s possession. Timm was arrested and transported to the Citrus County Detention Facility. Bond was set at $2,500.

Exhaled Pounds

When you lose weight, where does it go?
Turns out, most of it is exhaled. 

47 Sacks of Coke

A Charter Pilot's Run-In with Venezuelan Drug Lords
by Arndt Ginzel, Martin Kraushaar and Steffen Winter
47 Sacks of Coke: A Charter Pilot's Run-In with Venezuelan Drug Lords
It started as a routine charter flight. But when the business jet landed in Venezuela, armed men loaded 47 sacks of cocaine on board and forced the crew to fly the cargo back across the Atlantic. Since then, the German pilot has been living under an assumed identity.  More

Congress ends federal ban on medical marijuana

The federal spending measure passed this weekend, and one of the provisions in it "effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy," reports the LA Times. The provision forbids federal drug agents from raiding retail operations.
I asked Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, if this was as big of a deal as it seems to be. He said, “It’s an historic vote in the annals of marijuana law reform. The disconnect between Congress and the vast majority of Americans regarding federal interference with state medical marijuana laws at last is over.”

Cold vs. Flu

They might share many of the same symptoms, but the cold and the flu really are two very different things, starting with what causes them. Trace explains what you can and can't do when either of them comes calling your name.

Watching the climate-cholera connection from orbit

Dr. Kiki Sanford on how scientists are predicting outbreaks from an unusual new vantage point.
Researchers reported at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, CA on a satellite-based cholera outbreak prediction model in which specific environmental factors are correlated with epidemic cholera outbreaks. That's right, scientists are predicting disease from space.
Cholera is a devastating diarrhea disease indicative of inadequate sanitation and health infrastructure. It is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae that exists naturally in the environment. That means we can't get rid of it. We are just unlucky that it affects us the way that it does, so we have to learn how to deal with it, which basically involves cleaning up water supply and infrastructure.
Cholera infects some 3-5 million people a year globally, but is really only a concern in developing countries where water sanitation is not sufficient to remove or kill the bacteria. The dehydrating effects of cholera lead to death in 20% of those infected, and are the result of toxins released by the organism once it begins to colonize the small intestine.The disease doesn't really spread person-to-person, but outbreaks result from a complex combination of hydrological, climate, and societal factors.

"Cholera" by Unknown - Le Petit Journal, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Cholera.jpgThe organism can cause disease on an endemic and epidemic basis. In some regions of the world, usually coastal areas, it exists chronically in the population and environment with disease outbreaks occurring on a fairly regular basis. For example, in Bangladesh, the disease experiences a resurgence twice a year; once in the spring as a result of cholera-containing coastal waters intruding into the river system during the dry season when flows are low, and again in the fall after the monsoons when flooding causes contamination of water resources.
Epidemics, however, are much less predictable, occurring in a sudden, sporadic manner, and very often inland. Above average temperatures with above average precipitation combined with poor sanitation is the necessary pattern for epidemic outbreaks to get a start. In addition to the environmental parameters, any societal condition that devastates the water and community structure puts society at risk, but these are currently much more difficult to monitor.
The Indian sub-continent is where cholera is thought to have originated. But, it has been re-emerging in Africa over the past 10-15 years, especially in coastal Africa. So, researchers are using over 40 years of data to get an idea of its potential development in various African regions.
In India, 30 years of data show an increasing trend in both incidence and prevalence of the disease, which means that fatalities are down even as the number infected goes up. Prevalence doubled over the 30 year time period, and within just the past 10 years increased even faster. This is especially interesting as the past 10 years have been among the hottest on record. The models produced by the researchers based on the historical data and predicted hydro-climatic conditions suggest that by the 2050’s the entirety of central Africa will be at a substantially increased risk of epidemic cholera outbreaks. They didn't make any predictions for the Americas.
Rita Colwell, the lead researcher on this work, said over the phone that there is further environmental warming expected with projected climate change, and mentioned that in lab experiments with plankton, one of cholera's host species, increasing water temperatures leads to the production of larger numbers of infectious bacteria. Other experiments in the Gulf of Alaska have also revealed evidence that cholera concentration in water increases with increasing temperatures.
It's not a stretch to say that predictions of increased ocean warming and storms in areas of poor sanitation world-wide will lead to more frequent and intensive epidemics due to higher cholera numbers existing in the water. Yet, we have a chance of preventing these from terrible occurrences with predictive models like those described today. With enough lead time, health organizations will be able to distribute vaccines and oral re-hydration treatments to areas before devastation takes place.

The Matter-Antimatter Problem

In a proposed experiment for the newly-recommissioned Large Hadron Collider, physicists want to focus on the Higgs boson for clues as to why the universe is filled with matter and not antimatter.

Resurfacing Earth

Volcanoes can wreak havoc with our lives and even take them without warning, but to geologists keen observing how Earth regenerates its crust, they can be as educational as they are scary. 

30,000 Diamonds

Here's the perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything: A red and green rock, ornament-sized, stuffed with 30,000 teeny-tiny diamonds.

Thirteen puppies recovered after being stolen from pet store

Thirteen puppies taken from a pet store in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Tuesday morning were recovered hours later after a witness called police. Police said four teenagers are accused of breaking into Bill's Pet and Aquarium and taking the puppies. "We had chocolate Labs, a Chihuahua, two Cockapoos, a Yorkie and a Maltese and a couple great Pyrenees mixes," said Bill Sturgeon, owner of Bill's Pet and Aquarium.
At about 6:30am, Mike Gearty, who works next door, noticed the front door of the building had been smashed and called police. An officer sent to investigate spotted some suspects. "One of the officers observed several individuals, one of whom was carrying a puppy," said Sgt. Brian O'Keefe. "A foot pursuit ensued, and officers ended up locating and apprehending four individuals."
Police got another tip, when one of the suspects' grandmothers walked out of a house and announced she had several puppies inside that didn't belong to her. Police removed the puppies. Officials said the puppies were microchipped, making it easier to identify them. Victor Morina, 17; Samara Massey, 18; Curtis Massey, 17; and Ian Forsberg, 17, all of Manchester, were arrested. The four were charged with receiving stolen property.

In addition, Morina and Forsberg were charged with resisting arrest. Curtis Massey and Morina also face charges of violating bail conditions. Sturgeon said he has had dogs taken before, but nothing on this scale. He said he doesn't know why the puppies were taken, but he said there is a market for stolen pets. Sturgeon said the puppies weren't gone for long, and they appear to be fine, but he'll have them checked out by a veterinarian before they're ready for sale. "Having them back in our care is great," he said. "It's wonderful."

Converting Speakers

In a pinch, oyster shells function as speakers for an industrious, communicative fish.

15 Things You Didn't Know About Reindeer

So steeped in myth and magic are reindeer that many people grow up not realizing that they really exist. But they do! While associated with providing the deerpower for Santa's sleigh ever since the publication of 'A Visit from St. Nicholas' in 1823, reindeer have played an integral role in many Arctic cultures in Europe and Asia for millennia. But what’s their backstory?
Here are 15 things about everybody’s favorite Yuletide ruminant.

Could Mystery Horse Skeleton Be Legendary 18th Century Racehorse Doctor Syntax?

Doctor Syntax was a British Thoroughbred racehorse. Doctor Syntax won at least 36 races from 1814 to 1823. He was noted for his consistency and durability and recorded multiple wins in many of the period's leading staying races.
Now archaeologists may have discovered the skeleton of the legendary 19th century stallion. The bones were uncovered during the excavation of the former royal stables of Palace House, one of the homes of King Charles II, in Newmarket, Suffolk. The skeleton is almost completely intact and measures the same height as the horse, 15 hands.

Animal Picures