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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.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking to you ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
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Today in History

1236   Henry III marries Eleanor of Provence.  
1526   Francis of France, held captive by Charles V for a year, signs the Treaty of Madrid, giving up most of his claims in France and Italy.  
1797   Napoleon Bonaparte defeats Austrians at Rivoli in northern Italy.
1858   Emperor Napoleon and Empress Eugenie escape unhurt after an Italian assassin throws a bomb at their carriage as they travel to the Paris Opera.  
1864   Confederate President Jefferson Davis writes to General Joseph E. Johnson, observing that troops may need to be sent to Alabama or Mississippi.  
1911   The USS Arkansas, the largest U.S. battleship, is launched from the yards of the New York Shipbuilding Company.  
1915   The French abandon five miles of trenches to the Germans near Soissons.  
1916   British authorities seize German attaché Franz von Papen's financial records confirming espionage activities in the U.S.  
1917   A Provisional Parliament is established in Poland.
1920   Berlin is placed under martial law as 40,000 radicals rush the Reichstag; 42 are dead and 105 are wounded.  
1942   President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders all aliens in the U.S. to register with the government.  
1943   Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles DeGaulle meet at Casablanca to discuss the direction of the war.  
1943   Italian occupation authorities refuse to deport Jews living in their territories in France.  
1969   A blast on the U.S. carrier Enterprise in the Pacific results in 24 dead and 85 injured.  
1980   The United Nations votes 104-18 to deplore the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.
2000   UN tribunal sentences 5 Bosnian Croats to prison for up to 25 years; they were charged with killing some 100 Muslims in a Bosnian village in 1993.  
2004   The Republic of Georgia restores the "five cross flag" as its national flag after some 500 years of disuse.  
2005   Huygens probe lands on Saturn's moon Titan.
2010   Yemen declares war on al-Qaeda terrorist group.
2011   Zine El Abinine Ben Ali, former president of Tunisia, flees to Saudi Arabia after a series of demonstrations against his regime.

A labyrinth is not the same as a maze

In colloquial English, labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single path to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and is not difficult to navigate.
Although early Cretan coins occasionally exhibit multicursal patterns, the unicursal seven-course "Classical" design became associated with the Labyrinth on coins as early as 430 BC, and became widely used to represent the Labyrinth – even though both logic and literary descriptions make it clear that the Minotaur was trapped in a complex branching maze. Even as the designs became more elaborate, visual depictions of the Labyrinth from Roman times until the Renaissance are almost invariably unicursal. Branching mazes were reintroduced only when garden mazes became popular during the Renaissance.
There are examples of labyrinths in many disparate cultures. The symbol has appeared in various forms and media (petroglyphs, classic-form, medieval-form, pavement, turf, and basketry) at some time throughout most parts of the world, from Native North and South America to Australia, Java, India, and Nepal.
One can think of labyrinths as symbolic of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. Many people could not afford to travel to holy sites and lands, so labyrinths and prayer substituted for such travel. Later, the religious significance of labyrinths faded, and they served primarily for entertainment, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen a resurgence.
Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Modern mystics use labyrinths to help them achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind. The Labyrinth Society provides a locator for modern labyrinths all over the world. [below: the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral].

Obama Smashes repugicans With Threat To Veto Scheme To Stop His Immigration Executive Action

The House repugican plan to stop President Obama’s immigration executive actions fell apart as President Obama threatened to veto a House bill that would fund Homeland Security, but stop his executive actions on immigration.
The veto threat came in a statement of administration policy:
The Administration appreciates the Congress’ continued robust funding of the Department, including support for important Federal cybersecurity initiatives, disaster relief and recovery programs, and essential law enforcement activities. These funds are critical for ensuring the Department can help keep our Nation safe from harm.

However, the Administration strongly opposes the addition of any amendments to the legislation that would place restrictions on the Department’s ability to set smart enforcement priorities focused on criminals, national security threats, and recent border crossers, hold undocumented immigrants accountable, and modernize the legal immigration system. The President’s immigration accountability executive actions strengthen our border security, ensure undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents pass background checks to obtain temporary relief from removal, and require everyone to play by the same rules.

If presented to the President with objectionable restrictions, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.
House repugicans thought that they could force the president to undo his executive actions by attaching their immigration provisions on to the funding bill for Homeland Security. Before the White House issued their veto threat Senate repugicans, were already worried that the House plan was going to backfire. At a time when the world is deeply concerned about terrorism, House repugicans are continuing hold Homeland Security funding hostage in order to score partisan political points.
The nightmare scenario for Senate repugicans is that the Department of Homeland Security gets shut down because House repugicans refuse to move off their demand that President Obama take back his executive actions on immigration. If Homeland Security gets shut down, the blame will be all on the repugicans for jeopardizing national security because they are angry over President Obama’s immigration executive actions.
House repugicans thought that they could pressure Obama, but the president has turned the tables and it is repugicans who have their backs against the wall. If House repugicans refuse to yield, Homeland Security will shut down, and repugicans in the House and Senate will be blamed. Obama has given repugicans enough rope to hang themselves with, and it appears that Boehner and his delusional caucus are happily stepping up to the gallows.

Bernie Sanders Exposes repugican Plot To Cut Social Security For 11 Million Disabled People

bernie sanders talks koch brothers on all in
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is warning that repugicans are plotting to cut Social Security benefits for 11 million disabled Americans through a rule change that would make it more difficult to fund the disability account.
In a statement, Senator Sanders explained what the House rules change will mean for disabled Americans who depend on Social Security:
“Around 11 million Americans, including nearly 2 million children with a disabled parent, rely on Social Security to help keep them out of poverty,” said Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

A new House rule creates a legal obstacle course that would make it harder to shift funds from the Social Security retirement account, which has a big surplus, to the smaller disability account. Such transfers have been done routinely in the past under both repugican and Democratic presidencies, including four times under Reagan.

Without a transfer to shore up the disability fund, Social Security Administration experts say the disability program will run short of money next year, and there will be only enough to cover 80 percent of scheduled benefits.
“Instead of working to strengthen Social Security for all, the House repugicans’ new rule puts America’s most vulnerable at risk,” Sanders said.
The rule change is a part of a repugican effort to kill Social Security. If the disability fund can’t be replenished, Benefits will have to be cut, and some of the most economically vulnerable people in our society will be pushed deeper into poverty. According to experts, the problem with the Social Security disability cash assistance programs is that it limits the earnings of disabled individuals to just above the poverty line. This creates a trap that makes it impossible for individuals who can’t work to escape poverty.
The ideal solution would be the exact opposite of what repugicans are trying to do. Instead of cutting benefits, lawmakers should raise the income limit, so that disabled individuals can keep their benefits while also possessing an avenue to potentially escape poverty.
The repugican rule change that would lead to more benefits cuts will only push millions of Americans with no source of income further into poverty. House repugicans are repeating a pattern of attacking those who most need assistance. Since they have stolen the majority, repugicans have tried to cut benefits for the unemployed, children, wounded veterans, the elderly, and the disabled.
Senator Sanders is using his position as the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee to sound the warning about what repugicans intend to do. The repugican agenda is all about taking from those at the bottom in order to give more to those at the top. The repugicans want to carry out a massive upward redistribution of wealth. John Boehner rejected the idea of a $2,000 tax cut for middle-class families but has long been a champion of permanent tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
The repugican desire to remake America into an oligarchy knows no limits. Senator Sanders is leading the charge against the oligarchs, and the economic future of millions depends on his warnings being heeded.

Boehner Screws Over The American People By Blocking A $2,000 Middle Class Tax Cut

House Democrats introduced a new proposal that would give middle class families a $2,000 tax cut that was immediately shot down by  Boehner, because repugicans have no interest in helping the middle class.
The Washington Post described the Democratic plan as a step towards addressing income inequality:
The centerpiece of the proposal, set to be unveiled Monday by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is a “paycheck bonus credit” that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year.
The windfall — about $1.2 trillion over a decade — would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street “high rollers” through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1 percent of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks.
Speaker Boehner shot down the idea via a tweet from his spokesperson:
Boehner spx Steel on Van Hollen plan: The last thing we need is a new trillion-dollar tax hike added to the current broken tax code.
What this statement meant in terms of legislative action is that Boehner is not going to allow the Democratic proposal to be brought to the House floor for a vote. Throughout his time as Speaker, Boehner has killed legislation that he opposes by not allowing it to come to the floor for a vote.

Boehner’s position that tax cuts add to the deficit apparently only applies to tax cuts for the middle class because it was only last month that Boehner supported a $440 billion tax cut for corporations. Boehner is fond of referring to the House as the People’s House, but it clear that the people he is referring to aren’t working folks or middle class Americans.
By the People’s House, Boehner means the Koch brothers, corporations, or other special interests. If repugicans were serious about governing, they would seize the opportunity to pass a middle-class tax cut that Democrats would support and the president would sign. Instead, repugicans are using their power in Congress to harm the middle class while claiming to be carrying out the will of the people.
A middle-class tax cut would put money back into the pockets of those who need it most while providing a boost to the economy. Boehner’s rejection of the Democratic proposal is another reminder that the repugican cabal doesn’t care about ordinary hard working Americans,

Kansas teabagger Experiment Fails As Brownback Supports New Tax Hikes

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s attempt to make his state a model for teabagger governance has ended in abject failure. 
sam-brownbackBrownback’ massive tax cuts for the wealthy were supposed to create a Grover Norquist inspired utopia where the government could be drowned in an irrigation ditch, and the Sunflower State would morph into the land of milk and honey. Instead, the ruinous, ideologically-driven, tax cuts have starved the state of revenue, lowered its credit rating, and left gaping budget shortfalls.
Now Governor Brownback, once the undisputed champion of teabagger economics, has waved the surrender flag. While he hasn’t specified all the details in his new budget proposal, he is calling for some “revenue enhancements” to help close the burgeoning state budget deficit. Revenue enhancements are repugican-speak for tax increases.
In the understatement of the decade, Brownback’s chief of staff, John Hummel lamented that, “Revenue didn’t come in quite as was projected”. Imagine that. Huge tax cuts don’t increase revenue to the state’s coffers. Faith-based economic policies may play well before a crowd of die-hard market fundamentalists, but in the real world, it takes more than an abiding faith in the market to raise revenues. Sometimes it takes taxes.
Brownback apparently is slowly coming to the realization that the state will not be able to simply grow its way out of the current budget mess. Unfortunately, even with his admission that tax hikes are required, he still plans to focus more on spending cuts than tax increases, to try to cut into the over 600 million dollar projected budget shortfall. Education cuts are expected to be a major part of his new plan.
By acknowledging that tax increases are necessary, Brownback is tacitly admitting that the teabagger experiment is over in Kansas. It has ended in failure. The Governor still seems to be minimizing the extent of the problem. He continues to assure voters that future budgets will be “revenue positive”. However, he at least now realizes that taxes need to be a part of the budget equation.

The refugee crisis in Europe

The cargo ship Ezadeen, which set sail under a Sierra Leone flag from a Turkish port this week, was discovered drifting without a captain 40 nautical miles from the Italian coast. Italian coastguards were forced to intervene to prevent a disaster and possibly save the lives of the estimated 450 people on board, many of them thought to be Syrian refugees. … The Ezadeen was the second vessel in four days to be found sailing without a crew. Earlier in the week, 800 migrants on the Blue Sky M, a Moldovan-registered ship, were rescued by Italian coastguards when it was discovered sailing without an active crew five miles off the coast. The two incidents have left observers of migrant routes in the Mediterranean fearing that people-smugglers have found a new and ruthless way of working in the area despite a recent decision to scale back Italian rescue operations.
Frontex estimates that the smugglers on the two large cargo ships that arrived in Italy last week cleared more than $3 million after the price of the aging vessel was subtracted.
Wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq, severe repression in Eritrea, and spiraling instability across much of the Arab world have all contributed to the displacement of around 16.7 million refugees worldwide. A further 33.3 million people are “internally displaced” within their own war-torn countries, forcing many of those originally from the Middle East to cross the lesser evil of the Mediterranean in increasingly dangerous ways, all in the distant hope of a better life in Europe.

Humanity’s ‘Dark Side’

milgram3Study of humanity’s ‘dark side’ may show how to keep it at bay

In 1961, with memories of Holocaust atrocities and the prosecution of Nazi officials at Nuremburg still fresh, psychologist Stanley Milgram undertook a series of now infamous experiments on obedience and […]

Murder by digitalis

Poisoning in the 14th century
From the abstract in the Journal of Archaeological Science:
Cangrande [della Scala] died on July 22 1329, four day after his triumphal entrance in the city of Treviso. The sudden death was preceded by vomit and diarrhea with fever that, according to written documents, he had contracted a few days before by “drinking from a polluted spring”. The gastrointestinal symptoms manifested by Cangrande in his last hours of life are compatible with the early phase of Digitalis intoxication and the hypothesis of poisoning is mentioned by some local historical sources. The palaeo-pathological analyses confirm a Digitalis poisoning. The most likely hypothesis on the causes of death is that of a deliberate administration of a lethal amount of Digitalis. Although several cases of poisoning through the use of organic substances are known from historical sources, no other direct evidences are documented in the palaeopathological literature.
A well-done Powerpoint presentation of the autopsy findings is available here.  The photo of the foxglove was taken in our back garden.
A physician of Cangrande's was hanged by his successor Mastino II, adding more weight to the possibility that foul play was at least suspected, although who was ultimately behind the killing is likely to remain a mystery. One of the principal suspects at least in terms of motive must in fact be Cangrande's nephew, the ambitious Mastino II himself.

A 700-Year-Old Murder Mystery

A study of fecal matter from a medieval warlord -- the patron of the poet Dante Alighieri -- suggests he was poisoned with a deadly heart-stopping plant called foxglove.

Online Avatars

Sexualized avatars affect the real world, Stanford researchers findWhat can your online avatar say about your personality?

More communication among individuals is occurring online, and often between individuals who do not know each other offline. Researchers at York University are looking to understand the potential impressions and […]

Playing catch ...

10067692Playing catch can improve balance, prevent falls in seniors

The simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the elderly, according to research at the University of Illinois at […]

Optimistic people have healthier hearts

Elderly can be as fast as young on some brain tasksOptimistic people have healthier hearts, study finds

People who have upbeat outlooks on life have significantly better cardiovascular health, suggests a new study that examined associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults. “Individuals […]


Venflon_intravenous_cannula_2Researchers find cancer biopsies do not promote cancer spread

A study of more than 2,000 patients by researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, has dispelled the myth that cancer biopsies cause cancer to spread. In the Jan. […]

Hep C

liverInterferon-free combination therapy prevents recurrence of HCV after liver transplant
A 24-week course of sofosbuvir and ribavirin can eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in two-thirds of patients who undergo liver transplantation, with positive consequences on their short- and long-term […]

Employment tribunal ruled serial urinator must be given job back as he ‘wasn’t the only one’

A technician in Brisbane, Australia, sacked for repeatedly urinating behind a shed has got his job back after a ruling that his co-workers were also using shipping containers as outdoor urinals. The stench of urine was so bad at Hitec Welding in Pinkenba that several litres of disinfectant was repeatedly spread to overpower it, and the area was later concreted. Boss Jozef Lewandowski also installed a porta-loo and told his workers they must use it or make the 10 minute walk to the 11 plumbed toilets on site.
Gregorio Garcia was sacked for “misconduct” on May 7. He was told it was because he had failed to stop urinating behind the main workshop despite a written warning to stop. Fair Work Commission deputy president Ingrid Asbury found Mr Garcia wasn’t the only one responsible for urinating in the work area and ruled Mr Garcia should be reinstated and paid $16,900 in compensation and superannuation. In her decision, she found that the Hitec bosses decided Mr Garcia was the “culprit” without sufficient evidence. The only witness was one staffer who saw Mr Garcia “adjusting his clothing” while leaving the area on one occasion.
“I am satisfied that Mr Garcia was not the only employee who engaged in this practice,” Deputy President Asbury found. “I am satisfied that Mr Garcia’s dismissal was unfair on the basis that it was harsh, unjust and unreasonable,” she stated. She found Mr Garcia was not properly warned about his behavior and it was questionable whether Hitec gave him a written warning. She stopped short of accusing Hitec of “fabricating” a copy of the written warning allegedly posted to Mr Garcia, saying it was “strange” that it was sent by mail when it would have been simpler to give it to him at work.
Mr Lewandowski told the Commission hearing that he caught Mr Garcia relieving himself on May 5 and when he confronted him Mr Garcia told him he would “piss where he wanted to piss”. But Deputy President Asbury rejected Mr Lewandowski’s evidence, saying it was “improbable” that Mr Lewandowski would put up with an insult from a “vulnerable” foreign worker and “beggars belief” that he would wait two days to sack him. Mr Garcia was working in Australia on a 457 visa, sponsored by Hitec for four years. It was a path that was set to lead to an application for permanent residency.

Traffic police told to wear diapers ahead of pope's visit to the Philippines

When pope Francis visits the Philippines next week, about 2,000 traffic enforcers who will be on duty will be required to wear adult diapers, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman, Francis Tolentino, has said. Tolentino also encouraged people who will wait for hours to see the pope to also wear nappies.
The prospect of wearing diapers while on duty was “well received” by his men, he said on Wednesday. Tolentino said the idea will be tested on Friday by 800 traffic enforcers who work shifts during the nearly 24-hour annual procession of the Black Nazarene. It will be the first time that traffic enforcers in the Philippines will wear diapers while on duty in the streets, he said.
The Black Nazarene procession attracts hundreds of thousands of barefoot, mostly male, Filipino Roman catholics, who parade a centuries-old black statue of jesus christ which devotees believe possess mystical powers that could cure ailments and answer wishes of good health and fortune.
Tolentino says there won’t be enough portable toilets for the millions of people expected to see pope Francis hold an open-air mass at the seaside Rizal Park on 18 January. “If you attend an event that will last for 24 hours, you cannot go around looking for a [portable toilet],” Tolentino said. Priests, nuns, seminarians, and the elderly also should consider wearing diapers, he said. Asked if he will also wear one, Tolentino said, “I will try, but in my case, I have less hydration.”

Police seek prolific obese confectionery thief

An obese man with a chronic sugar craving, who police have dubbed “the candy man”, is believed to be stealing confectionery in the Doncaster suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Doncaster detective Senior Constable Leanne Trusler said the man had stolen $9000 worth of sweets from Coles at Westfield Doncaster by smuggling them past staff in a shopping trolley three times.
He targets mainly chewing gum, Mentos, Tic Tacs, Butter-Menthols and Anticols, she said. Police are appealing to anyone with information to come forward to find the candy man. Once inside the store the man fills up empty environmental shopping bags with boxes of assorted confectionery.
He then leaves the store without paying. Constable Trusler said the man had allegedly stolen from Coles Doncaster on November 2 and December 7 and 13, and attempted to steal from the store on December 20. “He must have a good dentist,” she said. “He will load up with a large amount, about $4000 at a time.”
Staff approached the man and asked him to leave the store on December 20. “No stealing is good but it’s unusual for that amount of confectionery to be taken.” The offender is described as Caucasian, 30-40 years old, obese with thinning short dark hair. Police have released images of a man that they believe may be able to assist with their inquires.

Thieves gave themselves a hair cut after breaking into charity shop

Thieves broke into a charity shop in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and made a mug of coffee before sitting at the manager’s desk and giving themselves a hair cut.
The British Heart Foundation shop manager Janet Kenworthy arrived at work to find a vandalized till and the office computer gone - but was more shocked when she went to her desk and found a pile of brown hair cuttings at the foot of her chair.
Her desk scissors were left covered in hair strands in the break-in, where the thieves took two jars of coffee and three tins of baked beans from the office kitchen but left the bread. Ms Kenworthy said: “Who breaks in and gives themselves a hair cut?
“It was a big pile of brown hair on the floor. So strange. It is senseless, but also unpleasant to think people have been in the shop and rifled through the drawers and made themselves a drink.” Thieves broke in by kicking down the front door at the shop in Market Place. The break-in happened some time between 5pm on Monday January 5 and early morning Tuesday 6. Police are appealing for witnesses.

Dismay over theft of tiny trees from planters

A Councillor has hit out after thieves stole trees from decorative flower pots in Bromley Cross, Bolton, Greater Manchester. Around 20 conifers, standing no more than a foot tall, have gone missing from pots put around the village to the dismay of the volunteers who planted them.
Cllr Alan Wilkinson said he noticed the thefts earlier this week, with the trees only planted four weeks ago. He said: “I think it is just disgusting that someone has stolen them. I don’t think it is vandalism. All of the other plants are there, there’s no soil on the floor.
“I think someone has just uprooted them, put them in carrier bags and taken them to make a hedge somewhere. It is straightforward theft. They are not very expensive, they would only be a couple of pounds each, and it is disgusting when someone comes along to pinch them.” Anyone with information is urged to contact police.

Explaining the ‘warming hiatus’

volcanoSmall volcanic eruptions partly explain ‘warming hiatus’

The “warming hiatus” that has occurred over the last 15 years has been partly caused by small volcanic eruptions. Scientists have long known that volcanoes cool the atmosphere because of […]

How Low Can It Go?

You see those scary cold numbers of the TV weather map, but here's what they really mean.

Photonic booms ...

Photonic booms may help illuminate astronomical secretsPhotonic booms may help illuminate astronomical secrets

If you sweep a laser pointer across the Moon fast enough, you can create spots that actually move faster than light. Anyone can do it. At a meeting of the […]

New Light On An Old Puzzle

Map of mysterious molecules in our galaxy sheds new light on century-old puzzleMap of mysterious molecules in our galaxy sheds new light on century-old puzzle

By analyzing the light of hundreds of thousands of celestial objects, Johns Hopkins astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have created a unique map of enigmatic molecules in […]

Opportinity at the Rim

NASA's veteran Mars rover Opportunity has climbed its highest peak in 40 months of exploring the rim of Endeavour crater, despite suffering 'amnesia' issues with its on board flash memory.

Crocodile skull macramé pendant seized by customs officials

A crocodile skull designed to be worn as a giant pendant has been seized by biosecurity officers at Christchurch Airport in New Zealand. A passenger arriving from Indonesia declared the skull to Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officers earlier this week.
It was nearly 25 centimeters long and was attached to a string with a macramé basket. The passenger planned to wear the pendant to parties, and was disappointed to lose it, MPI border clearance team manager Michael Walker said. "There's the obvious biosecurity risk of such items carrying pests or diseases," Walker said.
"But the main reason for seizing the skull was New Zealand's obligations under the Trade in Endangered Species Act. The passenger didn't have an official permit, so the skull couldn't come in." He said the passenger did the right thing in declaring the skull. "For biosecurity reasons . . . we take a hard line on those who don't," Walker said.
"Passengers should be aware of the biosecurity risk of any souvenirs they bring back from overseas." The skull was given to the Department of Conservation. Walker said it was unusual for MPI staff to intercept crocodile heads. They occasionally came in from Australia. "I have to say it's very odd to see one used as a macramé necklace," Walker said.

China’s aquaculture threatens world fish supplies

14697-fish_newsChina’s aquaculture sector can tip the balance in world fish supplies

In a new paper in Science a research team led by Stanford postdoctoral scholar Ling Cao and Professor Rosamond Naylor offers the clearest picture to date of China’s enormous impact […]

Scorpion disturbed woman's breakfast

A scorpion scuttling across her kitchen floor gave Carol Cook from Stansted, Essex, a huge shock on Tuesday morning. She encountered the animal after opening a new box of Weetabix cereal and fears it was lurking in the carton. The angry arthropod reared up at Carol and raised its tail in a characteristic show of aggression.
Carol, who is in her early 50s, and husband Gary subdued the brown beast with a sheet of paper and a plastic container before seeking advice from the RSPCA and Uttlesford District Council’s environmental health department. She said that both told her that the scorpion’s brown colouring was a comforting sign - as the most venomous versions are black. Mrs Cook estimated her intruder was around three inches long – or around 7.6cm.
She said husband Gary was unperturbed by their visitor: “He said ‘Calm down, calm down’ but I’ve seen the film, The Scorpion King. When I saw its tail lifting up, it was quite scary, because you are aware it could sting.” She was anxious to find out more about the creature, which now appears to be dead. Mrs Cook said: “I would like someone to say what it is - and whether or not I should have worried about it.”
Although scorpions are found on every continent except Antarctica, she speculated global warming might be playing a part in her discovery. Scorpions are not native to the UK but colonies have been established after the species was introduced. In all, around 1,750 species of scorpions have been identified. Of these, only about 25 are known to have venom capable of killing a human. Iain Newby, who runs Dangerous Wild Animal Rescue Facility, in Great Wakering, Essex, said it "could be something quite venomous". He added: "It might have been in the cardboard packaging during shipping, or in the factory, or it could have come from somewhere completely different."

Animal Pictures