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

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts do you ever get tired of being completely wrong all the time ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Times a wastin' ... !
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Today in History

1170   Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of Henry II.
1607   Indian chief Powhatan spares John Smith's life after the pleas of his daughter Pocahontas.
1778   British troops, attempting a new strategy to defeat the colonials in America, capture Savannah.    
1845   Texas (comprised of the present state of Texas and part of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming) is admitted as the 28th state of the Union, with the provision that the area (389,166 square miles) should be divided into no more than five states "of convenient size."    
1849   Gas lighting is installed in the White House.
1862   Union General William T. Sherman's troops try to gain the north side of Vicksburg in the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs.    
1890   The last major conflict of the Indian wars takes place at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota after Colonel James W. Forsyth of the 7th Cavalry tries to disarm Chief Big Foot and his followers.
1914   The production of Belgian newspapers is halted to protest German censorship.    
1921   Sears Roebuck president Julius Rosenwald pledges $20 million of his personal fortune to help Sears through hard times.    
1926   Germany and Italy sign an arbitration treaty.
1934   Japan formally denounces Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.    
1940   In a radio interview, President Roosevelt proclaims the United States to be the "arsenal of democracy."    
1940   London suffers its most devastating air raid when Germans firebomb the city on the evening of December 29.    
1948   Tito declares Yugoslavia will follow its own path to Communism.    
1956   Dwight Eisenhower asks Congress for the authority to oppose Soviet aggression in the Middle East.    
1965   A Xmas truce is observed in Vietnam, while President Johnson tries to get the North Vietnamese to the bargaining table.    
1981   Ronald Reagan curtails Soviet trade in reprisal for its hash policies on Poland.

President Obama Is Finally Beginning To Get Credit For The Nation’s Economic Turnaround

It has been frustrating for supporters of President Obama, but it looks like the American people are beginning to give the president credit for the nation’s economic recovery.
The most recent polls from CNN and Gallup reveal that the American people are rewarding the president with higher job approval ratings. However, Republican bias against Obama continues to hold his job approval ratings down.
In a 2011 paper, political scientists Peter Enns and Gregory McAvoy found that partisan bias delays public perception of economy, “The total effects of partisanship appear to reduce the overall response of the public to changes in economic conditions. Even for economic evaluations, partisan attachments can overwhelm motivations for accuracy. This result may hold significant economic implications. When partisan bias is high, as during the shrub junta, aggregate economic evaluations appear less responsive to the objective economy.”
Partisan bias is the reason why 40% of repugicans in the latest CNN poll rated the current state of the economy as poor. The extreme degree of partisan bias in the country is also why President Obama is unlikely to get full credit for the economic improvements that have occurred during his time in office. The good news is that polling reveals that the public is starting to catch on.
The CNN poll showed Obama’s approval rating hitting a 20 month high, while a recent Gallup poll revealed that President Obama is polling ahead of where shrub was at the end of his sixth year pretending. Obama is likely to see his approval ratings continue to grow as long as the economy blossoms. A president’s approval numbers tend to move in line with major economic shifts. The shrub was already on the downswing thanks to a stagnant economy and an unpopular war. Barack Obama is on the upswing.
The president may finally get some of the credit that he fully deserves over the next two years. Without elections, a divided Congress, or an economic crisis to get in his way, President Obama finally has a free hand to guide the country.
A good economy would also change the shape of the 2016 election, and could perfectly set the table for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to campaign on the need for the country to stay on the right path and turn this economic growth into a Bill Clinton style economic boom. The republicans may find themselves with precious little to campaign on in 2016 if the economy continues to surge.
Instead of a lame duck, President Obama could be resurgent political force as his time in office enters its final phase.

How the Elevator Transformed America

Gentlemen, let's say that you enter an elevator and find that a lady is present. Should you remove your hat, as you would in a home, or keep it on, as you would if you encountered her on a train?
That was one of many questions considered when elevators arrived in the United States during the 1860s. Leon Neyfakh recently published an article in the Boston Globe about the social history of elevators. He explains that as the car helped Americans expand horizontally, so did the elevator help the nation grow vertically. It also encouraged a new form of mingling between people of different social classes:
Its uniqueness as an environment also has allowed social scientists to use it as a fruitful laboratory for experiments on behavior. One study tested the effect of smiling on people’s willingness to stand near strangers, for instance, while another looked at how men and women choose to situate themselves in relation to each other upon boarding. The distinctiveness of elevators as social spaces is also the reason we speak of an “elevator pitch”—so named after the one place the company CEO might spend 60 seconds as captive audience to an ambitious intern.
For elevator fans like Bernard, Wilk, Gray, and Carrajat, this mixing of worlds is one of the main things that makes elevators so important. And the more opportunities modern life gives us to separate ourselves from others—by getting into our cars and escaping into our suburban homes, by hiding in our cubicles and burying our heads in our social networks—the more the elevator matters as a place that squeezes us together for a moment and forces us to grapple with one another’s existence.

Boy Scouts Rescue Pilot Who Crashed into River

Last Saturday, a single engine plane crashed into the Congaree River in Calhoun County, South Carolina. It promptly sank completely underwater. Boy Scouts in Troop #597 from Dacula, Georgia were paddling canoes in the area. They spotted the pilot swimming away from it. The scouts took him to a riverbank. It was quite cold and the pilot was in risk of dying of hypothermia, so the scouts lit a fire and wrapped him in a blanket.
They then summoned rescue workers. Unfortunately, the ambulance was on the opposite side of the river, so the scouts put the pilot into a canoe and took him across. The pilot went to the hospital and is in good health.

CNN Suddenly Seems to Notice the repugican Reliance on religio-wingnuts

Bobby Jindal Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images.
CNN is reporting that the repugican cabal moves early to court wingnut christians. We are told that, “The first votes of the 2016 campaign won’t be cast for another year but there’s already a race well underway: The christian primary.”
The repugicans are actively courting white evangelical and born again christian voters, knowing they will be crucial in early-voting states such as Iowa and South Carolina.
Leave it to the mainstream media to mangle the truth about the unholy marriage of the repugican cabal and the religio-wingnuts. This is not accurate news. It’s not even really news at all, and hasn’t been for decades. Because these days, the repugican cabal and the religio-winguts are the same thing.
After all, it was a year-and-a-half-ago that rnc chairwimp Reince Priebus told the christian brainwashing netherworld that the repugican cabal was their cabal, that the repugican cabal was, in fact, a religion.
Priebus reassured his audience, however, that the repugican cabal is “a cabal that embraces marriage,” and that he “is a chairwimp that is deluded that there’s only one sovereign dog and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics, that what ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring dog in the things that we do every day.”
Even then, this was just stating plainly what was by then an already established fact.
This was the inevitable outcome of a process that began with Goldwater’s defeat in 1964. As The New York Times observed in their September 28, 1996 issue, “Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign brought many evangelicals into active politicking.”
His defeat triggered the recognition by former Goldwater strategist Paul Weyrich that there was the vast, untapped potential of religious wingnuts who could vote in the repugican cause. It was then that religious wingnuts got a toe-hold in the repugican cabal that they never relinquished.
The process continued in the late 1970s with the formation by Jerry Falwell of the Immoral Non-majority. Falwell’s message to his christian soldiers was to “get them saved, get them baptized, and get them registered.”
Paul Weyrich said, “We are talking about christianizing America. We are talking about simply spreading the gospel in a political context.” Once you start spreading the gospel in a political context, you have hopelessly blurred the lines between politics and religion. Which was, of course, the intent all along.
Speaking in Dallas on August 21, 1980, with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other infamous evangelicals in attendance, Ronald Reagan told a crowd of 15,000 christian wingnuts, “I endorse you.”
The timing of Goldwater’s now famous warning about the religio-wingnuts is not coincidence, saying in a speech to the U.S. Senate on 16 September 1981,
I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious cabal who thinks it has some dog-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘wingnuttery.’
Yet CNN wants to pretend this is a new development. Where has the mainstream media been while all this is taking place?
It was busy mainstreaming extremism. The mainstream media did not seem to notice any of this until 2012, and even then, Rachel Maddow had to out the MSMs downplay of Rick Perry’s extremist supporters, telling America that contrary to everything they were being told, Rick Perry was anything but a “mainstream” candidate.
Religious extremists, including David Barton, even wrote the 2012 repugican Platform, seemingly without the mainstream media noticing.
Religio-wingnut insider Frank Schaeffer, self-described “former repugican religious wingnut agitator,” explains how the two became one:
The 1970s evangelical anti-abortion movement that Dad (evangelical nutjob Francis Schaeffer), C. Everett Koop (who would be Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general) and I helped create seduced the repugican cabal. We turned it into an extremist lunatic fringe cabal that is fundamentally anti-American. There would have been no teabaggers without the foundation we built.
And they are the same. As Schaeffer puts it, “The difference between now and then is that back then we were religious lunatics knocking on the doors of normal political leaders. Today the lunatics are the political leaders.”
Anyone who has any doubt of this need only look at our recent slew of repugican candidates, including Colorado’s Gordon Klingenschmitt and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis (another one of those the MSM considers “mainstream”) and Iowa’s Joni Ernst. The MSM ignored all her extremist rhetoric as well. The religio-wingnuts rode a tide to victory in the 2014 midterms on MSM complicity.
Rick Perry has been joined by Bobby Jindal, and Jindal is now the one holding the prayer fast, and busily downplaying the extremism at its heart, and claiming his prayer fast is “not a political event, it’s a religious event.” Never mind that Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis of the group behind the event, the AFA, is very political, saying that the First Amendment (that’s politics, not religion, by the way) applies only to christians.
We’ve gotten to the point where Bryan Fischer can say that he wants the religio-wingnuts to choose the repugican pretender for president. It’s not clear what’s holding them back more: the fact that they’ve done their job too well and sprout a veritable plethora of candidates each presidential election cycle, fracturing their vote, or the repugican establishment.
But even then, Mitt Romney only got as far as he did by trying to sound more like Rick Santorum and less like Goldwater. The mainstream media took more notice of Romney’s numerous gaffes than his kowtowing to religious lunatics by embracing their stance on same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception.
We must take Reince Priebus at his word: the eepugican cabal is a religion, or at least a religion with its own political cabal. And if the mainstream media continues to ignore this fact, American voters must not, at their peril.

Judge Rules America’s Fastest Growing Industry Is Exempt From Minimum Wage Law

While the Labor Department's rule change was meant to protect worker's rights, the Judge protected Home Care Associates, the International Franchise Association, and the National Association for Home…
The term wage slavery is a pejorative term used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification affecting large groups of a workforce. Wage slavery is a result of unequal bargaining power between labor and capital best represented by workers slaving for long hours and poverty wages in sweatshops. The repugicans have given every indication that between their opposition to raising the minimum wage, and desire to abolishing it altogether, nothing would please them or their Chamber of Commerce and corporate funders more than a population earning slave wages.
It is likely that most big industries would love nothing more than having repugicans pass legislation exempting them from paying the minimum wage and, despite the nation’s labor laws, one of the fastest growing, lowest paying industries in the nation succeeded in not only winning an exemption from paying minimum wage, they were exempted from overtime laws. One law, 1974’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), requires American employers to pay their domestic workers at least the minimum wage as well as extra pay for overtime hours. Earlier in the year, the Department of Labor expanded FLSA to cover home care providers who were left out of minimum wage and overtime laws due to industry leaders designating their work as nothing but providing “fellowship” for elderly sick and disabled people.
The home care industry interpreted the exemption broadly  to deny basic labor rights from all their employees who provide medical care, feed, clothe, and bathe Americans too sick to care for themselves. In 2007, the wingnut Supreme Court ruled that an employer forcing a woman to work extremely long hours was within its right to refuse giving overtime pay because regardless the extent of the care the woman provided, it was designated “fellowship and protection.” The Department of Labor issued a new rule forbidding the practice beginning January 1, 2015.
On Monday, just in time to stop implementation of the Department of Labor’s rule change, a U.S. District Judge, Richard Leon, bowed to industry pressure and struck down the change that would finally give minimum wage and overtime pay protections to home care workers. While the Labor Department’s rule change was meant to protect worker’s rights, the Judge protected Home Care Associates, the International Franchise Association, and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice rights to make bigger profits. The rapidly-growing industry’s leaders convinced the judge that paying the minimum wage, and the outrageous idea of overtime pay, was an abomination and would have a “destabilizing impact” on the nation’s fastest-growing  industry.
According to the judge’s  ruling, home care workers who are employed by agencies and other third-party employers can legally be denied the minimum wage and overtime pay if “agencies and third-party employers” claim the workers provide “fellowship” rather than more in-depth care. Workers employed by agencies can also be denied overtime pay. The only thing the “agencies, third-party employers” and judge did not decide, yet, is that home health care providers have to work for free; but that is likely the next logical step in the very near future to avoid the “destabilizing the impact” on the industry of having to pay its employees at all.
Although home care workers make up one of the fastest-growing industries in America with an aging population, they are clearly one of the lowest paid. The workforce’s median wage is about $20,000 a year, and it represents a 5% income decline since 2003 after adjusting for inflation. Like an ever-growing number of American workers, because they are prohibited from earning the federal minimum wage, most workers live below the federal poverty line. In fact, about a third of workers in New York City earn less than $15,000 annually, and clearly 40% of them are dependent on vanishing public benefits just to survive; it is the epitome of a slave wage workforce.
Even if the home care workforce could earn the federal minimum of $7.25 hourly, they still could not support themselves.  Subsequently they have joined forces with the growing fast food worker movement protesting for a minimum raise increase of $15.00 per hour. The work home care providers toil at can be long, grueling, and constant and not, as the industry claims providing “fellowship and protect;” like a babysitter. One home care provider who has worked for the same mentally disabled client for ten years giving around-the-clock care for 199 hours every two weeks complained she  has never had a penny of overtime pay. She said, “The work I do is not companionship or babysitting,” but because the industry designates her as providing “fellowship” for the she barely subsists in poverty, and she is not alone.
As the population ages, the number of home healthcare providers will grow by 70% within the next five years. As of early 2014, there were 2.5 million home care providers barely surviving due to working without minimum wage or overtime pay which is why the Department of Labor made the rule change. The real issue is that despite the explosion in available jobs, the demand for home health care providers will far outpace supply within the next decade and better wages and worker protections would make the difficult jobs more appealing. However, like fast food and large retail chains like Walmart and McDonald’s, the home healthcare industry will never voluntarily raise wages.
President Obama has called for raising the minimum wage to no avail, and in the recent midterm elections, voters in four states overwhelmingly approved raising the minimum wage. But the same voters also elected  Republicans to Congress who have, ad nauseum, stated they have no interest or intent on raising the minimum and a growing number are in favor of abolishing the federal minimum. In fact, last year House Republicans passed so-called “jobs legislation” abolishing overtime pay, and several Republican states banned current and future legislation raising the minimum wage, offering sick leave, and sick pay.
Americans want higher wages for their increased, and world-leading, productivity, but they will never get it as long as repugicans hold a majority in either house of Congress. Americans are also aging and at the rate repugican governors and legislatures are raiding pensions, lusting to slash Social Security, and keep home care providers at poverty levels, many of those aging Americans are going to be on their own because Republicans and the home care industry avidly believe the path to prosperity is a population mired in wage slavery.

Is there an upside-down flag on this $10 bill ?

This image is a closeup of the reverse side of a $10 bill from the series of 1950C (printed between 1961 and 1963).  It looks like the flag is being flown upside-down.  This has been vehemently denied by government officials and numismatists:
Let us put this rumor to rest. It doesn’t matter whether or not the flag on the back of a series of 1950 bill appears upside down. This is not considered an error and in no way does it command a premium.

It takes a team of eight engravers hundreds of man hours to engrave a plate used for printing currency. There is no rogue engraver out there inverting American flags. Whether the flag on the back of 1950 does or doesn’t appear upside down is all in the eye of the beholder. The fact of the matter is that the flag looks the way it is supposed to look.

 So spread the message and please do not call asking about an upside flag on 1950 or any other bills. It is not a recognized error and it never will be.

Black Cops Feel Threatened By And Fear Other (White) Officers

Black New York City police officers admitted they are regularly racially profiled by white officers and worse…
Over the course of the past year while many different groups weighed in with opinions surrounding the epidemic of African Americans being killed by police, there is one group that has been relatively silent. Police officers have generally closed ranks and defended the racially-motivated killing of unarmed African Americans, and have been brutally airing their contempt for anyone demanding accountability from law enforcement whether through protests, demonstrations, or public displays of support for demonstrators. However, there has been precious little comment from African American police officers, and according to a recent report, there is a reason that reinforces the assertion that many white police officers are racists.
The report by Reuters revealed that Black New York City police officers admitted they are regularly racially profiled by white officers and worse, are victims of the same violent abuse and mistreatment as nearly every other African American male. The report focused on 25 Black male policemen; ten currently serving the public and 15 retired cops. Not surprisingly, all but one of the Black cops reported they were victims of racial profiling in and out of uniform.  The report defined racial profiling as a law enforcement officer “using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.”
The black police officers said their experiences were the same type of racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life after he was swarmed by police and choked to death for the capital crime of selling loose cigarettes. The officers reported regularly being pulled over by police for no reason (multiple times for most), being stopped in public and frisked, thrown into prison vans, and being physically assaulted and threatened by white cops. The issue is not reserved to the New York police department, and the threat of retaliation or retribution is why the abuse goes largely unreported; not that the media or general population would care if it was reported.
The officers interviewed for the report related “having their heads slammed against vehicles and having white officer’s guns being brandished in their faces.” One recently-retired NYPD sergeant  reported he was stopped while jogging by white police officers and only prevented a rapid escalation into violence because he had his department issued police ID close at hand. The retired sergeant is suing the NYPD for being racially harassed on the job; not for what police told  him was being stopped and accosted like a common criminal for being “suspicious while jogging in jogging clothes.”
In the same manner there is no recourse, or formal complaint process, for African American males subjected to racial profiling and police abuse, the Black officers reported they had been racially profiled by white officers exclusively; about one third said they made “some form of complaint to a supervisor” to no avail. In fact, all the officers except one said that after reporting being racially profiled, either on the job or out of uniform, “their supervisors either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions.” Some officers were so aware that racial profiling is deeply entrenched in the system that they refrained from reporting their experiences because “they feared certain retribution.”
Besides protesting the unwarranted murder of unarmed African American boys and young men, people are protesting the indignation of being stopped by white police for no reason and without the ability to lodge formal complaints. Black police officers are in the same situation according to a former NYPD captain and now  Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Adams said he was stigmatized and retaliated against throughout his 22-year career for reporting racial profiling and police brutality that informed him “There is no real outlet to report the abuse.” According to Adams, when and if a Black officer does make a report to the Internal Affairs Bureau, their identities are leaked to the rank and file and it leads to more abuse. The consensus among the Black police officers is “If I was white, it (abuse) wouldn’t have happened,” and that according to the racist police attitudes claiming innocent African American lives, “That could have been any one of us.” There is an indication that what is happening to African America males at the hand(s) of racist cops is not going to stop because racial bias is firmly entrenched in the population.
According to research from social psychologists at Stanford, Yale, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, there is “implicit racial bias in the American psyche that correlates Black maleness with crime.”  In fact one of the researchers, John Jay professor Delores Jones-Brown cited a 2010 N.Y. State task force on police-on-police shootings that found over the past 15 years, Black officers “suffered the highest fatalities in encounters with white officers who ‘mistook’ them for criminals.” It is beyond reason that a white police officer could possibly “mistake” a Black officer for a criminal when they are wearing a police uniform; it is “not so-friendly fire” and not a mistake. It is apparent that police officers steeped in racial animus and white supremacy just like shooting, choking, and abusing African Americans whether they wear a police uniform, sell loose cigarettes, shop at Walmart, or jay-walk in Ferguson Missouri and there is evidence that aggressive (read racist) policing is intensifying.
John Jay professor Jones-Brown cited a 2010 New York State report from the N.Y. City Comptroller revealing the exact kind of excessive force that killed Eric Garner has risen by 214% in the past ten years. It has rightly led to an increase in lawsuits against the city that has cost taxpayers $64.4 million in 2012 alone; a 75% increase. Still, the racial profiling continues unabated with no regard for the loss of innocent Black lives whether they are police officers, teenagers walking in Ferguson, or selling loose cigarettes.
It is a sad state of affairs, and a damning commentary on this nation, that Black police officers are subjected to the same abuse, racial profiling, job discrimination, and sheer hatred regardless they put their lives on the line for the public just like white cops. Of course, it would be errant to assert that all white cops are racists, but one hears about as many white cops speaking out against racial profiling, or killing unarmed African American males, as Black officers reporting they are victims of racially-driven abuses. It is probable that if they did speak out more, either the media would ignore them, they would lose their jobs, get shot by other cops, or the racist public would champion the white cops who pose as much of an existential threat to Black police officers as they do every other African American male. It is damn high time this nation’s population come to grips with a basic fact; America is inherently racist and the disease is an epidemic.

Nice try, shame it didn’t work *hic*

Nice try, shame it didn’t work *hic*
A Wisconsin man was charged with his 10th drunken driving  offense following a creative excuse.
75-year-old John Przybyla was stopped after a deputy noticed him crossing the center line.
When asked how much he had been drinking, the criminal complaint alleges Przybyla told the deputy he had not been drinking alcohol.
Instead, he claimed he had eaten beer battered fish.
He was arrested and charged with operating while intoxicated, operating while revoked and three traffic citations. Move along there's no more to see here

New York State Trooper Threatens Driver With Arrest For Video Recording Traffic Stop

officer rosenblatteditedA New York state trooper told a driver recording a traffic stop earlier this month that he’d “find a way for the DA’s office to arrest you” if the driver posted the video to YouTube. The driver, John Houghtaling, posted the video to YouTube on December 21st, shortly after the traffic stop. The trooper, known as Officer Rosenblatt, stated during the video that Houghtaling was stopped for a loud exhaust. As Houghtaling recorded the interaction with the trooper, Rosenblatt became increasingly defensive and angry, demanding numerous times that Houghtaling put down the phone.
The video starts after Houghtaling has been pulled over. The driver points out he does not know why he’s been stopped and that he’s going to record the conversation with the officer. Once Rosenblatt approaches the car, he requests Houghtaling to stop recording the interaction. He also attempts to block the camera from seeing his face. After about a minute of back and forth between the two, a clearly perturbed Rosenblatt responds to a question from Houghtaling by saying, “How about if I see this video posted to YouTube I find a way for the DA’s office to arrest you?”
Throughout the traffic stop, Houghtaling repeatedly asks if it is illegal to record the police or if he’s legally obligated to answer a certain question. Rosenblatt reacted belligerently to all of Houghtaling’s questions and told him on more than one occasion that if he tells him to stop recording that he needs to stop. Beyond issuing the threat of arrest through nefarious means, Rosenblatt seems to not be aware of the actual law and instead feels the need to bully the driver into full compliance with his orders.
Below is video of the stop, courtesy of Houghtaling’s YouTube page:
Apparently, Houghtaling has a reputation in the area for video recording his interactions with local law enforcement. Towards the end of the video that Houghtaling posted, Officer Rosenblatt specifically asks him, “What is your issue with always videotaping?” Houghtaling responded back to Rosenblatt’s question by saying, “Am I legally obligated to answer that?” Eventually, the cops storms off, presumably to write up the ticket for the traffic violation.
In this instance, it would seem like the officer should face some kind of discipline, up to and possibly including termination, for threatening to concoct an arrest just to get revenge on the driver. It seems like Houghtaling is a bit of a provocateur and was itching for a reaction from the police officer by being a bit ‘in-your-face’ with his recording of the stop. However, he was well within his rights and police officers need to get used to citizens recording traffic stops, arrests and other interactions.

Mail thief attempted to make getaway in stolen kayak without a paddle

A suspected mail thief in Sammamish, Washington, chose an unusual getaway vehicle, then got caught in the middle of a lake. "I just thought it was a kayak theft, a kayak hijacking,” said Brian Conway. Little did he know that the man who hijacked his kayak, then became involved in what was described as a low-speed pursuit, was wanted for mail theft. Kerek Edwards had confronted the alleged thieves earlier, and police said they ditched a stolen car full of stolen mail in a driveway in Sammamish early on Christmas Eve morning. Neighbors called police, then another neighbor used her car to block theirs and the pair ran through Edwards' backyard.
Jail records confirm it was Jeremy Webb and Desiree Segar who ran into the woods behind Edwards' house. Police caught her, but he made it down a hill to Brian Conway's dock, where he hopped in a kayak without a paddle. Brian's son, Nolan, grabbed another kayak from the garage and gave chase. “And we got a paddle,” Brian Conway said. “I think what this poor fellow is going to have a lot of time to think about is if you take the kayak, you've got to take the paddle, too."
“I think he thought I was a sheriff, initially,” Nolan Conway said. “He was very apologetic. It was a little sad to be out there. He was so wet and so cold; he was so miserable." Webb has nearly 50 charges against him from possessing stolen property to drugs and resisting arrest. Segar has a handful of theft and drug charges from 2007. Both suspects are now in King County Jail for investigation of mail theft.

Daily Comic Relief

The 8 Most Intriguing Unsolved Crimes

When a crime is never solved, it can become both maddening and tantalizing. The victims never get justice, their loved ones never get closure, and law enforcement officers can turn into haunted, True Detective-style obsessives.
Here are eight fascinating cases that remain unsolved to this day.

Facebook must face privacy violation lawsuit over scanning users' messages to target ads

A judge in Oakland, California ruled that Facebook does indeed have to face a class action lawsuit charging that the social media firm violated user privacy when it scanned the contents of users' messages for the purposes of targeting advertising to those users.
From the Los Angeles Times:
facebook-head-big1Judge [Phyllis] Hamilton denied Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed by Facebook users Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley in 2013. The suit alleges that until October 2012, when the social network says it stopped the practice, it scanned the content of private messages sent between users for links to websites, which were then used for delivering targeted advertising. The complaint alleges that this violated the federal and state privacy laws by “reading its users’ personal [and] private Facebook messages without their consent."
Facebook had argued that the practice was covered by an exception under the federal Electronics Communications Privacy Act, and that it disclosed to users that it “may use the information we received about you” for “data analysis." But Judge Hamilton said the company had “not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary court of business,” and that the disclosure was not specific enough to establish that users expressly consented to the scanning of the content of their messages.

A Warm, Cozy Fire and Your Health

A new study hypothesizes that we derive health benefits from just staring at a comfy fire, or even video of a comfy fire! Trace explains why a toasty hearth might make a dent in your blood pressure.

Workaholics Actually Get Less Work Done

A new study looks at the kind of hard-charging workers who don't even know how to let the holiday season interrupt their efforts. If you pass up holiday pie for working late, you may be a workaholic. Julian explains why this is a bad thing. 

Stress makes us work harder for pleasurable rewards, but doesn't make us appreciate them more

Photo: "Diet concept. frightened girl in the stress and flying around the burgers on a red background." Evgeny Atamanenko for Shutterstock. A new study from researchers at the University of Geneva suggests that while stress can cause us to work very, very hard to achieve rewards, being stressed out doesn't help us enjoy those rewards.
Specifically, the study helps shed light on why stress can often lead to binge-eating, relapses in alcoholism and drug addiction, or gambling.
"Most of us have experienced stress that increases our craving for rewarding experiences, such as eating a tasty bar of chocolate, and it can make us invest considerable effort in obtaining the object of our desire, such as running to a convenience store in the middle of the night," said the study's lead author Eva Pool, MS, a doctoral student at the University of Geneva. "But while stress increases our desire to indulge in rewards, it does not necessarily increase the enjoyment we experience."
From the study announcement:
Stress prompted chocolate lovers in an experiment to exert three times as much effort to smell chocolate than unstressed chocolate lovers, but both groups reported about the same level of enjoyment when they got a whiff of the pleasing aroma, according to the study, published in APA's Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition.
For the experiment, researchers recruited 36 university students, of whom 19 were men, who said they love chocolate. To induce stress, the researchers asked students to keep one hand in ice-cold water while being observed and videotaped. Another group immersed a hand in lukewarm water. Ten minutes before and 30 minutes after the task, researchers collected samples of the participants' saliva and tested them for levels of cortisol, a hormone involved in stress response. Following the stress conditioning, all participants had to press a handgrip for the chance to smell chocolate when they saw a certain symbol. The researchers measured the amount of effort participants invested for a chance to smell the chocolate, and asked participants how pleasant they found the odor.
"Stress plays a critical role in many psychological disorders and is one of the most important factors determining relapses in addiction, gambling and binge eating," said another author, Tobias Brosch, PhD, also of the University of Geneva. "Stress seems to flip a switch in our functioning: If a stressed person encounters an image or a sound associated with a pleasant object, this may drive them to invest an inordinate amount of effort to obtain it."
Here's the summary from the report:
Stress can increase reward pursuits: This has traditionally been seen as an attempt to relieve negative affect through the hedonic properties of a reward. However, reward pursuit is not always proportional to the pleasure experienced, because reward processing involves distinct components, including the motivation to obtain a reward (i.e., wanting) and the hedonic pleasure during the reward consumption (i.e., liking). Research conducted on rodents demonstrates that stress might directly amplify the cue-triggered wanting, suggesting that under stress wanting can be independent from liking. Here, we aimed to test whether a similar mechanism exists in humans. We used analog of a Pavlovian-Instrumental Transfer test (PIT) with an olfactory reward to measure the cue triggered wanting for a reward but also the sensory hedonic liking felt during the consumption of the same reward. The analog of a PIT procedure, in which participants learned to associate a neutral image and an instrumental action with a chocolate odor, was combined with either a stress-inducing or stress-free behavioral procedure. Results showed that compared with participants in the stress-free condition, those in the stress condition mobilized more effort in instrumental action when the reward-associated cue was displayed, even though they did not report the reward as being more pleasurable. These findings suggest that, in humans, stress selectively increases cue-triggered wanting, independently of the hedonic properties of the reward. Such a mechanism supports the novel explanation proposed by animal research as to why stress often produces cue-triggered bursts of binge eating, relapses in drug addiction, or gambling.
PDF: Stress Increases Cue-Triggered “Wanting” for Sweet Reward in Humans

Awesome Pictures

10 Things About France That Shock First-Time Visitors

Before you dive head first into a trip to France, you better get to know some of the local customs or you might just be a little disappointed. Check out these 10 things that often shock first-time visitors to France.

Archaeological Discoveries of 2014

From a mysterious Greek tomb to revelations about King Richard, 2014 was a big year for big finds.

Peru providing its citizens with free solar power

“This program is aimed at the poorest people, those who lack access to electric lighting and still use oil lamps, spending their own resources to pay for fuels that harm their health."

The water cycle, and water in the earth's mantle

An article at BoingBoing makes note of the vast quantities of water stored in the earth's mantle.
Deep inside the mantle, where the temperature and pressure are so high you would think it impossible, viscous crystalline rocks potentially trap the equivalent of the Pacific Ocean...
We know that ringwoodite can hold water, but it has been determined that below 660 km, ringwoodite transitions into yet another form of olivine called bridgmanite, which can't hold much water. However, seismic mapping experiments have detected areas of melt, melted material held within the crystalline solids that differ in their chemical composition, and which are possibly indicative of water, at depths of 760 km. This is 100 km deeper than water should be able to venture...
Whereas previous estimates have put the amount of water in the mantle at 1-3 times the amount of water on the surface, this study brings that quantity down to a single ocean. Regardless of the reduction, this is still substantial considering that all of the water could have originated from geochemical processes alone.



Even NASA wastes money

In June, NASA finished work on a huge construction project here in Mississippi: a $349 million laboratory tower, designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space. Then, NASA did something odd.
As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially “mothballed” — closed up and left empty — without ever being used... The reason for the shutdown: The new tower — called the A-3 test stand — was useless. Just as expected. The rocket program it was designed for had been canceled in 2010.
But, at first, cautious NASA bureaucrats didn’t want to stop the construction on their own authority. And then Congress — at the urging of a senator from Mississippi — swooped in and ordered the agency to finish the tower, no matter what.
The result was that NASA spent four more years building something it didn’t need. Now, the agency will spend about $700,000 a year to maintain it in disuse...
So the tower stand has taken its place on NASA’s long list of living dead. Last year, the agency’s inspector general found six other test stands that were either in “mothball” status, or about to be. Some hadn’t been used since the 1990s. Together, those seven cost NASA more than $100,000 a year to maintain. More grim details at the Washington Post.

Understanding Moon Phases

Why does the moon seem to change its shape every night? The answer is the moon is a world in space, just as Earth is. Like Earth, it's always half illuminated by the sun. In other words, the round globe of the moon has a day side and a night side.
From our earthly vantage point, as the moon orbits around Earth, we see varying fractions of its day and night sides. These are the changing phases of the moon. As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Understand the various phases of the moon.

Martian Dust Devils

Mars' atmosphere is often viewed as frigid and unchanging, but in studies of the red planet's aeolian processes, nothing could be further from the truth -- particularly where Martian dust devils are concerned.

Martian Frosting

Although this crater rim is entering summer, its south-facing slopes are still festively frosted in ice.

Buffalo vs. Bison

We’ve all known someone like this, right? And we’ve all had the urge to shoot them, but luckily did not have our pedantic jackass rifle around at the time. This comic is from Neil Kohney at the webcomic The Other End

Animal Pictures