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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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Daily Drift

The Twenty-Second of our trees of December ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Poetry ... !
Today is  -  National Haiku Poetry Day

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Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Monte Alto, Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Uberlandia, Brazil
Discovery District, Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver, Canada
Bogota, Colombia
Tlalnepantla, Mexico
Huancayo, Peru
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
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Yuri, Estonia
Gouzon, Lyon, Montpellier, Paris, Roubaix, Rouen and Tours, France
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Athens, Larissa and Thessaloniki,  Greece
Reykjavik, Iceland
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Moscow, Novgorod, Ryazan and Vladivostok, Russia 
Ljubljana, Slovenia
L'Olleria, Madrid and Valencia, Spain
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Ankara, Turkey
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Mashhad, Iran
Hedera and Tirat Karmel, Israel
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Karachi, Pakistan 
Doha, Qatar
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Praia, Cape Verde
Rabat, Morocco
Cape Town, South Africa
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The Pacific
Brisbane, Homebush, Melbourne, Subiaco and Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1135   Stephen of Blois is crowned the king of England.  
1775   Esek Hopkins takes command of the Continental Navy — a total of seven ships.  
1807   Congress passes the Embargo Act, which halts all trading completely. It is hoped that the act will keep the United States out the European Wars.  
1829   The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad opens the first passenger railway line.
1918   The last of the food restrictions, enforced because of the shortages during World War I, are lifted.  
1929   Soviet troops leave Manchuria after a truce is reached with the Chinese over the Eastern Railway dispute.  
1941   Japanese troops make an amphibious landing on the coast of Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, the Philippines.   
1942   The Soviets drive German troops back 15 miles at the Don River.
1944   During the Battle of the Bulge, General Anthony McAuliffe responds to a German surrender request with a one word answer: "Nuts!"  
1945   The United States recognizes Tito's government in Yugoslavia.  
1965   The EF-105F Wild Weasel makes its first kill over Vietnam.
1966   The United States announces the allocation of 900,000 tons of grain to fight the famine in India.  
1989   The Romanian government of Nicolae Ceausescu is overthrown, ending 42 years of communist rule.  
1989   The division of East and West Germany effectively ends when the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin reopens for the first time in nearly 30 years.  
1992   What became known as the Archives of Terror are discovered in a police station near the capital of Paraguay, records detailing tens of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly imprisoned, tortured and / or killed by the security services of several South American governments.  
1997   Hussein Farrah Aidid relinquishes his disputed title of President of Somalia, an important step toward reconciliation in the country.  
2001   President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, takes over an interim government.  
2001   A passenger on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris, Richard Reid, unsuccessfully attempts to destroy the plane in flight by igniting explosives he'd hidden in his shoes.  
2008   Some 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash slurry flood part of Tennessee after an ash dike breaks at a solid waste containment area in Roane County, in the eastern part of the state.  
2010  US President Barack Obama signs a law officially repealing the 17-year-old policy known as "Don't ask, don't tell"; the new law permits homosexuals to serve openly in the US military.


Think you are all European or African? DNA reveals that many of us are actually of mixed heritage.

The Truth Hurts


After 72 Years, Snubbed US Navy Captain Gets Credit for Sinking a U-Boat

On August 1, 1942, the US Navy subchaser PC-566 was escorting the passenger vessel Robert E. Lee out of the mouth of the Mississippi River. 25 miles off the coast, the German submarine U-166 attacked the Lee, sinking it.
The PC-566, then led by Lt. Comm. Herbert G. Claudius, counterattacked. It dropped depth charges on the u-boat. An oil slick formed on the surface of the water, which was evidence that the Americans had at least damaged the German sub and possibly destroyed it.
Claudius's senior officers did not credit him with sinking the sub. To the contrary, they criticized his actions, relieved him of command, and sent him to anti-submarine warfare school for retraining.
Now, 72 years later, Captain Claudius's record is finally clear. The famous undersea explorer Robert Ballard located the wreck of the U-166, right where Claudius said it would be. The US Navy has responded by amending Claudius's record. Brian Clark Howard writes for National Geographic:
But on Tuesday, Claudius was posthumously vindicated at the Pentagon, as the U.S. Secretary of the Navy announced that his ship had indeed fired the depth charges that sank German U-boat U-166.
"Seventy years later, we now know that [Claudius's] report after the action was absolutely correct," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a small ceremony attended by members of Claudius's family.
"[Claudius's ship] did sink that U-boat, and it's never too late to set the record straight," Mabus said, as he presented the late captain with a posthumous Legion of Merit with a Combat "V" device, which recognizes heroism in battle.
Claudius's son, Gordon Claudius, accepted the medal and said that he wished his father could have known about the correction to a largely forgotten chapter in American history.
"He would have felt vindicated," Gordon Claudius said.

Hobbit Holiday Homes You Can Stay In Around The World

As 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' hits the cinemas, here's a look at the best Shire-like abodes you can rent for your next holiday.

8 weird things that have happened during the festive season through history

It’s a time for gifts, last-minute shopping, and over-indulgence. But through history the festive season hasn’t just been about celebration: here, Graeme Donald, author of On This Day in History, reveals eight of the weirdest things that have happened during the xmas period through history…
1866, two members of the Ku Klux Klan. (MPI/Getty Images)
3 December 1926 – Gone girl
English crime novelist Agatha Christie disappears, possibly in an attempt to get her adulterous husband, Archie, arrested for her ‘murder’. Abandoning her car in the countryside, she hides in a hotel under a false name for 11 days while the police scour the nation. What happened in those days remains a mystery.
8 December 1660 – The play’s the thing
Margaret Hughes appears as Desdemona in The Moor of Venice – a reworking of Shakespeare's Othello – at London’s Vere Street Theatre, possibly making her England’s first professional actress. Prior to this, boy actors generally aged between 13 and 19 played women’s roles in the theater. It is thought that due to differences in diet and lifestyle in the Elizabethan period, boy’s voices did not break until much later. This enabled male actors to play female roles convincingly into their late teens.
18 December 1737 – The bills are alive with the sound of music
Master violin maker Antonio Stradivari dies in Cremona, Italy. It is estimated that he made about 1,000 instruments in his life – about 500 of them violins that are still in use. They are valued at about £2 million each.
22 December 1938 – Something’s fishy
Believed extinct for 80 million years, a coelacanth is caught by a South African fisherman. A coelacanth’s brain is 98.5 per cent fat, with only 1.5 per cent reserved for brain tissue. Only two species of coelacanth are today known to exist, and the Indonesian coelacanth is classified as vulnerable.
23 December 1888 – A bittear dispute
Distraught after arguments with his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cuts off part of his left ear before wrapping it in newspaper and taking it to a brothel where, according to the local newspaper, he asks a girl called Rachel to keep it safe.
24 December 1965 – What’s that in the sky?
A flaming mass arcs over the UK. The meteor, about the size of an office desk, is fortunately shattered into thousands of meteorites by its own sonic boom as it enters the atmosphere to shower the village of Barwell near Leicester. No injuries are reported.
25 December 1865 – Tis not the season of goodwill…
Formed yesterday in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Ku Klux Klan holds its first gathering. The six founding members were classically educated and mainly of Scottish heritage, so they based the name on the Greek word ‘kuklos’, meaning circle.
1 January 404 – Partners for afterlife
The last gladiatorial games are staged in Rome. The games evolved from the funeral of Brutus in 264 BC, at which men fought to the death to provide him with an escort in the afterlife.

Man faked heart attack so his friend could steal toys

Authorities say a man faked a heart attack inside a Wal-Mart store in Lake Wales, Florida, so his friend could steal toys, including a motorized Barbie car.
While the diversion proved initially successful, the pair were arrested on Tuesday on grand theft charges when they were linked to the crime via surveillance footage. The Polk County, Florida Sheriff's office say Tarus Scott, 30, and Genard Dupree, 27, walked through the store together.
Deputies say Scott then filled a shopping cart with a motorized power wheel Barbie car, Leap Frog tablet and a Barbie Glam vacation house, worth $369.94. Video surveillance shows Dupree make his way to the exit where he then faked a heart attack, clutching his chest and falling to the floor. As concerned citizens checked on him, Scott is seen walking out of the store with the cart filled with stolen goods.

Dupree’s heart trouble lasted 44 seconds before he was able to get to his feet and amble out. He then met up with Scott in the parking lot and the pair drove away, although it didn't take long for deputies to catch up with them. The men have long arrest records, and Scott had recently been released from prison after serving 10 years for armed robbery. Both men now face new charges.

Police seek thief who shut off water to 29 homes before stealing garden taps

Police are hunting a thief who has been stealing garden taps (faucets) and turning off water mains at houses across the north of Melbourne in Australia.
The man targeted 29 homes in Epping and Lalor between midnight and 5:30am on December 9.
Investigators have released security footage that shows the man venturing into people's gardens, turning off the water mains before unscrewing taps from the pipe.

In a statement police said they were "hoping to tap into public information to track down the water-saving thief". The man is described as thin and around 175 centimeters tall.

Man breached curfew by collecting shopping delivery from his front door

A man was arrested after breaching his curfew by going to his front door to collect his shopping.
The curfew imposed on 59-year-old Michael Jones meant that he was confined to his first-floor flat between 5pm and 7am. When he went downstairs to answer the doorbell when his shopping was delivered his electronic tag recorded him as “absent” for 15 minutes.
On Tuesday at Prestatyn magistrates’ court, Jones, of Rhyl in north east Wales, pleaded guilty to breaching the condition, imposed as a bail condition while he awaits trial on other charges in January.
The Bench allowed the bail to continue, with the area extended to cover the whole of the property, which is divided into four flats. But chairman Alun Williams told Jones: “If you step outside the door you are in trouble.”

Man arrested for setting his sock on fire during argument over communal dryer

William Hoglund, a 59-year-old resident of St. Cloud, Minnesota, faces possible felony arson charges for allegedly setting his sock on fire during an argument over a communal dryer.
According to information provided by the St. Cloud police, at around 9pm on Tuesday night, officers responded to a report of a fire in an apartment building.
"Investigation revealed that [Hoglund]... intentionally started his sock on fire in the hallway outside of an apartment, due to an argument with another tenant over the use of the communal dryer," a St. Cloud police news release says.
"The fire caused minor damage to the carpet in the hallway." Nobody was injured. Hoglund remains in custody at Stearns County Jail. Charges are pending.

Student accused of paying man to impersonate her at exam

A 20-year-old woman and 21-year-old man face charges in connection with an alleged unusual bout of cheating at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. The woman, Kaiwen Qian, is a student at the school. She appeared on Wednesday in a Kitchener court on charges of personation and uttering a forged document, and was released on $3,000 bail.

Mystery over square-shaped fire that started on sofa inside closed shop

A passer-by helped save a closed shop and flats in Fulham, south east London, from going up in flames after spotting a sofa which had mysteriously caught fire in a square shape.

Blurred Forms

An Unsteady History Of Drunkenness
In 1682, the Nonconformist minister Samuel Clarke told a peculiar tale about a soldier losing his wits and drinking to the health of the Devil, inviting the evil being into his world. The soldier was never heard from again.
This story was a warning to all regarding the treacherous fates that awaited drunkards. It was only one of the terrifying possibilities outlined by Clarke. Illness, madness, bodily and spiritual destruction, and - ultimately - death comprised the tragic fates that awaited every drunkard.

Sticky Fingers

6 Brazen Acts of Culinary Thievery
King Frederick inspects the potato crops.  
The potato came to Europe in the late 1500s, but it wasn’t met with a warm welcome. Disregarded by most, it was first used only to feed livestock. But Frederick the Great of Prussia saw the tuber’s potential. Sure, potatoes tasted bland, but they were versatile, cheaper than bread, and easy to stockpile. He introduced them to his army in 1744 and later freely distributed them to peasants during famine. The people weren’t convinced. In fact, the town of Kolberg was so put off that it responded in a letter: “The things have neither smell nor taste, not even the dogs will eat them, so what use are they to us?” To change public opinion, King Frederick employed some reverse psychology and established a royal potato field patrolled by soldiers. Soon, curious citizens were slinking around at night with stolen potatoes to plant in their gardens -exactly what Frederick wanted.
Thomas Jefferson knew how important healthy farms were to his fledgling nation, and he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty to keep his country strong. By summer 1787, the American rice industry was starting to crumble. The rice was mostly grown in swamps, and the stagnant water was a breeding ground for mosquitoes that made nearby workers sick. During his tenure as minister to France, Jefferson found the farmers’ solution: a dry, upland variety of rice grown in Italy. There was just one problem: Italian law forbade “the exportation of rough rice on pain of death.” Jefferson, however, used his power to declare the rice independent, secretly filling his coat pockets with the unhusked varietel before making for the border.

By 1848, the West had been enamored with tea for almost two centuries. The trouble was, hardly anyone outside of China knew how to turn the raw ingredients into the beverage Britain was downing by the potful. Enter Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist-turned-spy. Britain’s East India Trading Company contracted Fortune to go to China and infiltrate a green tea factory in the Wu Si Shan hills. China’s interior was forbidden to foreigners, so Fortune donned a Mandarin disguise and posed as an official from a faraway province. The ruse worked! Fortune would later reveal the tea production secrets to the rest of the world. Perhaps more shocking, however, was the discovery he made while undercover: The Chinese were unknowingly poisoning the British. Believing that English tea drinkers preferred their green tea bright green, manufacturers had been adding Prussian blue pigment and yellow gypsum to British shipments. Fortune recognized the deadly additives and haloed put an end to the practice!
Tabasco is arguably the most widespread hot sauce this side of the Rio Grande, but its origins are somewhat murky. Tabasco was founded in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny, who first sold the spicy stuff in used cologne bottles. his company has been the lone producer ever since. But rumored have long swirled that McIlhenny stole the famous formula from a purported friend, a man named Colonel Maunsel White, who supposedly had a “Concentrated Essence of Tobasco [sic] Pepper” of his own. (White believed it could fend off cholera.) The Tabasco Company concedes that White did produce a pepper sauce years before McIlhenny but argues that it’s just a coincidence and that the men never met. Despite the denials, the saucy rumors remain to this day.
In 2008, a cook at Brooklyn restaurant Junior’s was caught with his tail between his legs. A few tails, actually. A co-worker noticed 40-year-old Raymond Flores stuffing lobster tails -15 in all- down his pants and securing them with bandages. Flores was charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. The fact that his clothes smelled like clambake made it easier to swallow the fact that he lost his job, too.
Dairy may be perishable, but that doesn’t make it any less attractive to thieves. In 2009, a duo in New Zealand was caught stealing 20-kilo blocks of cheese from a train. During the ensuing car chase, the couple tried throwing off the cops by tossing boxes of vacuum-packed cheddar out the window. More recently, an Illinois man stole an impressive 21 tons of Muenster valued at around $200,000. It turns out, cheese is one of the world’s most “high risk foods.” That doesn’t mean it might make you sick -it indicates how likely it is to be stolen. According to a 2011 report from the Center for Retail Research, about 4 percent of the world’s supply has been pilfered!

10 Gorgeous Tree Art Installations

Many environmental artists use organic materials to draw attention to ecological problems like deforestation. Forests cover approximately one-third of the planet so it seems obvious that the subject of trees would be a major component of these artworks.
Here are 10 tree art installations that celebrate the beauty of nature and raise activist concerns.

The Deviant History of the Snowman

Documented snowmen go back at least as far as the Middle Ages, but we can assume that the art of building a human figure of snow goes back before recorded history. After all, snow is free and easily-manipulated, and human figures are our natural go-to art icon. The snowman in particular was often used as stress-relief, a structure we can abuse to our delight. They were often created as political statements, sinister beings, or ephemeral art illustrating taboo subjects. Or targets, as suggested in the painting above.
In the Middle Ages, building snowmen was a way for a community to find the silver lining in a horribly oppressive winter rife with starvation, poverty, and other life-threatening conditions. In 1511, the townspeople of Brussels banded together to construct over 100 snowmen in a public art installation known as the Miracle of 1511.

Their snowmen embodied a dissatisfaction with the political climate, not to mention the six weeks of below-freezing weather. The Belgians rendered their anxieties into tangible, life-like models: a defecating demon, a humiliated king, and womenfolk getting buggered six ways to Sunday. Besides your typical sexually graphic and politically riled caricatures, the Belgian snowmen were often parodies of folklore figures, such as mermaids, unicorns, and village idiots.
Even in modern times, we get a kick out of putting snowmen in situations we would not abide for real humans, such as the famous snowmen in the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes and several traditional snowman-destroying rituals to summon spring weather. Read about the horrible ways we’ve used snowmen throughout history at Atlas Obscura.

Ice Pancakes

It gets very cold in Scotland in December. Cold enough for ice pancakes! These strange discs of ice were seen on the River Dee at Lummels Pool in Aberdeenshire.
River Dee Team biologist Jamie Urquhart said it was thought foam floating about on the water started to freeze and bump together, forming the discs.
The phenomenon can be found in rivers and in the open sea.
Mr Urquhart, who found and photographed the "pancakes", said: "What we think happened is this - foam floating about on the water started to freeze, probably at night.
"Bits of frozen foam got pushed around in the eddy, and in the ensuing collisions became roughly circular."
There is more to the story of how the discs got their peculiar shape over several days. We could observe the process to make sure, but who wants to stay up all night outside when it’s cold enough for running water to freeze? See more pictures at BBC News.

Super-Intense Gamma Rays

Brief bursts of intense energy occur inside thunderstorms 1,000 times a day around the world, new research shows. 

The Most Detailed CO2 View

Fresh data from NASA reveals a comprehensive global view of CO2 in full color. 

Hidden Arctic Ecosystem

A remote-controlled underwater robot explores the underside of stable Arctic sea ice, collecting the most detailed information yet of this largely unexplored environment.

Taser used to pacify chocolate-fed monkey that had been terrorizing French city

An aggressive monkey, fed on a diet on Kinder chocolate, had been terrorizing a neighborhood in the southern French city of Marseille in recent weeks until it was finally tamed by police, with the help of a Taser. For several weeks the monkey had been provoking panic in Castellanne, a northern suburb of Marseille.
At one point it entered a primary school where “it caused bedlam and scratched some of the children” before heading to a senior school where it also left students frightened. Worried residents have been bombarding police with calls to alert them to the presence of the monkey, that reportedly measured 80cm in height. “We were given the location but by the time we turned up, it had disappeared. It happened every time,” a policeman said.
According to reports the monkey was abandoned among local youths, with whom it spent most of its time. It was abused by some of the youths and rather than being fed appropriate food, it was kept on a diet of Kinder chocolate. All of which could explain its aggressive attitude and why locals were making so many panicked phone calls to police. Traps were set to try and catch the animal but to no avail.
Finally, police located the monkey, but as they tried to detain it, the animal bit one of the officers. So a Taser was brought out to neutralize it. “This is the lesser evil, as we didn’t want to kill it,” an officer said. A criminal investigation has been opened up over the “illegal possession of a wild animal”. But this may not be the end of the story of monkeys terrorizing Marseille. Police say there are rumors that there is more than one of the animals on the loose.

Misplaced act of kindness led to seal pup being delivered to sealife center in back of a taxi

Staff at Scarborough Sealife Center staff have issued an urgent appeal after a healthy seal pup was delivered to their door in a taxi. The anonymous beachcomber who delivered the grey seal wrapped in a coat could inadvertently have separated it from its mother, the sanctuary in North Yorkshire has warned. “I was a bit stunned to be summoned to the car park to retrieve this pup from the back of a cab, and in my eagerness to get it wrapped in towels and safely indoors I didn’t have time to take any details of the lady’s name or number,” said the center’s displays supervisor Lyndsey Crawford.
“She was clearly an animal lover and had the best of intentions, but we soon realized the pup was fit and healthy. Pups will quite often haul out on the shore while their mums are searching for food, but they are rarely left on their own for more than an hour or so.” Lyndsey and a colleague immediately raced the pup back to the local beach where it was found, and are confident they were quick enough to ensure it was safely reunited with its mother.
They are now issuing an appeal for anyone who sees a lone pup on the shore to watch from a distance and to call either the sanctuary or the RSPCA if they become concerned. “Apart from the danger of inadvertently scaring off mum if they get too close, these are wild animals with very sharp teeth. It’s a miracle this lady wasn’t badly bitten,” said Lyndsey.

The Adventures of Ruuxa and Raina

Ruuxa the cheetah and Raina the Rhodesian ridgeback have grown up together since they were six and seven weeks old, respectively. Raina was selected to be paired with Ruuxa by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where the two reside.  Dogs are paired to be raised with chosen “cheetah ambassadors” in order to keep them calm and socialized. 
The video above shows Ruuxa restricted to limited mobility as he heals from surgery to repair a growth abnormality in his legs. Raina accompanied Ruuxa into surgery to keep him calm and happy throughout the procedure. The video below shows Ruuxa at seven months old, having recovered from surgery and gaining strength by exercising his legs and feet while running at full speed with Raina.  

Is Bigfoot In Britain?

Photos And Audio Prove Something Is
by Andy Campbell
Is this Bigfoot, or a sneaky ad for Jurassic World?
A man claims to have seen, heard and recorded Bigfoot in the British countryside. But like some tree stumps we've reported on in the past, this evidence doesn't yet have legs.
Adam Bird, 31, snapped a photo of what appears to be something lurking in the woods, as well as a video of groans in the woods that sound like they're ripped right out of the original Jurassic Park movies.
Take a look:
Bird, who claims to be a Bigfoot investigator, told Metro that his buddies tipped him off to a nature reserve in Friskney that is a hotbed for sightings.
"We stayed there for a few hours that day and felt watched and followed the whole time," he said. I took various photographs throughout the investigation and when I checked back through them I spotted the creepy picture ... It looks like a shadowy figure stood within the trees staring at us from afar."
He also took a photo of what he says is a Bigfoot print in the dirt. That photo is less convincing than the photo of a creature (or shadow, or stump) in the woods, but Bird's weirdest documentation is the video (above) that features sounds emanating from the woods.
To be fair, the sounds are consistent with what Bigfoot hunters across the pond have told us about the beast's habits. Cliff Barackman of Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" said last year that a Bigfoot will bang sticks against trees (called "knocking") and hoot and groan to communicate. Sounds similar to Barackman's description are featured in the video, but it's unclear whether the video is fabricated, and Bird couldn't be contacted by press time.
What do you think?


Four New Breeds

The distinctive dogs join the organization's official recognized list.

Prehistoric Platypus?

The 248-million-year-old fossil belongs to a group of mysterious early Triassic marine reptiles.

Animals Predict Disasters

Changes in certain animals can signal earthquakes, tornadoes, heat waves and more.

Carnivore Comeback

It was a great year for four large European carnivores whose populations are now numerous, stable and healthy.

Animal Pictures