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

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1547   Ivan IV crowns himself the new Czar of Russia in Assumption Cathedral in Moscow.  
1786   The Council of Virginia guarantees religious freedom.  
1847   John C. Fremont, the famed "Pathfinder" of Western exploration, is appointed governor of California.   
1865   General William T. Sherman begins a march through the Carolinas.
1900   The U.S. Senate recognizes the Anglo-German Treaty of 1899 by which the UK renounced its rights to the Samoan Islands.  
1909   One of Ernest Shackleton's polar exploration teams reaches the Magnetic South Pole.  
1914   Maxim Gorky is authorized to return to Russia after an eight year exile for political dissidence.  
1920   The League of Nations holds its first meeting in Paris.  
1920   Allies lift the blockade on trade with Russia.
1939   Franklin D. Roosevelt asks for an extension of the Social Security Act to include more women and children.  
1940   Hitler cancels an attack in the West due to bad weather and the capture of German attack plans in Belgium.  
1942   Japan's advance into Burma begins.  
1944   Eisenhower assumes supreme command of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe.
1945   The U.S. First and Third armies link up at Houffalize, effectively ending the Battle of the Bulge.  
1956   The Egyptian government makes islam the state religion.  
1965   Eighteen are arrested in Mississippi for the murder of three civil rights workers.  
1975   The Irish Republican Army calls an end to a 25-day cease fire in Belfast.  
1979   The Shah leaves Iran.  
1991   The Persian Gulf War begins. The massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq — Operation Desert Storm — ended on February 28, 1991, when the shrub declared a cease-fire, and Iraq pledged to honor future coalition and U.N. peace terms.

Talking Two Million Years

Tool bad and Tool good might have been some of the first sentences spoken by our early ancestors, research concludes.

CO2 Milestone Already Passed

Atmospheric CO2 levels have already passed the 400 ppm mark in 2015, and it's only January.

A Coup and A Rebellion

In 2014, there were five supposed coup attempts around the world. The question, though, is how many of them were actual coups and how many were really rebellions? Trace explains how the two forms of government change differ.

Bernie Sanders Sets repugicans Up To Humiliate Themselves On Climate Change Vote

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has forced Senate repugicans into a potentially embarrassing vote on whether or not climate change is real. Mitch McConnell (r-KY) said that the Senate will vote on the Sanders climate change amendment to the Keystone XL bill.
The Hill reported:
At his weekly press briefing, McConnell said “nobody is blocking any amendments” to legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The repugican cabal leader had promised to allow an open amendment process on the Keystone bill.
But a measure proposed by Senator. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had raised questions about whether he would stick to that commitment.
Democrats believe the measure could be a tough vote for some repugicans, particularly repugican cabal senators running for reelection in 2016 in states carried by President Obama in 2012.
McConnell shot back at reports he might block the Sanders amendment, exclaiming “yeah” when asked if his caucus is prepared to take a vote on climate change.
The Sanders amendment is part of a strategy within the Democratic caucus to test Mitch McConnell’s commitment to an open amendment process. The strategy also is going to force repugicans into taking several uncomfortable votes. Senate repugican incumbents in blue states who are already facing a potentially difficult reelection environment will now be forced to own their positions on climate change.
It is the sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the opinion of virtually the entire worldwide scientific community that—
(1) climate change is real;
(2) climate change is caused by human activities;
(3) climate change has already caused devastating problems in the United States and around the world;
Senator Sanders has wrecked the repugican plot for simple passage of the bill by wanting to get repugicans to admit their climate change denial positions on the record, “The American people need to know whether Congress is listening to the overwhelming majority of scientists when it comes to climate change. On this issue, the scientists have been virtually unanimous in saying that climate change is real, it is caused by human action, it is already causing devastating problems which will only get worse in the future and that we need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. Do members of Congress believe the scientists or not?”
The debate and amendment process will take the Senate weeks to get through. So far Mitch McConnell is sticking to his word about allowing votes on amendments, but Bernie Sanders and his fellow members of the Democratic caucus are getting set to make life very uncomfortable by not allowing repugicans to hide their extremist positions any longer.

Hacktivist Group Anonymous Declares War on ISIL

What will #OpCharlieHebdo mean for ISIL? Given the hacktivist group's record so far, ISIL might want to refer back to the KKK for an answer …
As you may know by now, the Belgian branch of Anonymous has declared war on al-Qaeda and ISIL after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, which took the lives of twenty people, including the terrorists. On January 9, Anonymous posted the following video.
This is a press release by anonymous.
In the case of the terror attack against Charlie Hebdo, as we had previously told you, we plan on shedding light on all these events and give homage to those innocent killed.
The anonymous of all the planet have decided to declare war on you terrorists. We will track you down to the last one and will *kill (destroy) you. You allowed yourselves to kill innocent people. We will therefore avenge their deaths.
We will track all of your activities online. We will close your accounts on social networks. You will not impose your Sharia in our democracies. We will not let your stupidity kill our liberties, and our freedom of expression.
We have warned you. Expect your destruction. We will track you everywhere on the planet. Nowhere will you be safe.
We are anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forget.
We do not forgive.
Be afraid of us, Islamic State and Al Qaida. You will get our vengeance.
On January 10, an English version was posted, telling the world, “Attacking freedom of speech is attacking Anonymous. We will not permit it”:
Simply put, though ISIL is currently fighting Iraq, the Kurds, and the United States, they may have finally pissed off the wrong people. When Anonymous says they will “shed light” ISIL need only ask the KKK what, precisely, this means.
Bad blood exists already. ISIL hacked an Anonymous Twitter account in June, and Anonymous has already announced @opiceisis a campaign called Ice Isis, “Aiming to destroy ISIS propaganda and influence on the internet,” as a representative of the group explained to France 24 back in September.
Though this representative said that the United States is “not free of blame” for its contributions to the crisis (a reference, at the very least, to Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its bungled aftermath), he also made clear that Anonymous does not see ISIL as representative of islam but instead, “gangsters who hijacked the islamic religion,” marking Anonymous as not only more intelligent, but having more integrity, than the repugican cabal. As if this will come as a surprise to anyone.
It is well to consider how effective might be Anonymous’ declaration of war. Besides “attacking their ideologies with truth and logic,” as was explained to France 24, theirs is exactly the sort of response to which ISIL’s campaign of terror has no answer. You cannot torture, rape, or behead, a computer hack, which, by its very nature, is not only virtual, but untraceable. For ISIL, this will be like being shot at by soldiers they cannot see.
The representative told France 24,
In the video we released, we plan to attack several countries that were knowingly supporting ISIS financially, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We warn that if they continue to support ISIS, we would be forced to destroy their virtual infrastructure, and yes, we have those who can do this.
Since the United States cannot bring the full weight of its powerful conventional arsenal to bear, and the Iraqi army seems ill-equipped to face ISIL on the battlefield, the terrorists’ weak link would seem to be its financial infrastructure.
It takes a huge war chest to run an operation like the Caliphate’s, and this is not a chest full of gold sitting in the back of a tent in a remote desert, or even in an opulent palace. In today’s economy, this money is in banks, in investments, and will leave an electronic trail.
According to Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C., ISIL is “the best-financed group we’ve ever seen.”
And according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, speaking in October,
[ISIL] has amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace, and its revenue sources have a different composition from those of many other terrorist organizations. Unlike, for instance, core al-Qa’ida, ISIL derives a relatively small share of its funds from deep-pocket donors, and thus does not, today, depend principally on moving money across international borders. Instead, ISIL obtains the vast majority of its revenues through local criminal and terrorist activities.
The mainstream media has done its fair share of reporting on ISIL’s finances.
Newsweek examined on “ISIS’s robust, sprawling, and efficient financial operation” in November, telling us of the terrorist organization’s “currencies of choice—cash, crude oil and contraband,” which “allow it to operate outside of legitimate banking channels.”
The reach of ISIS’s financial portfolio is broad and lucrative. Highly localized and multiple revenue streams feed the terrorist organization’s coffers—generating up to $6 million a day, according to Masrour Barzani, head of Kurdish Intelligence and the Kurdistan Regional Security Council.
Where does this money come from? Some sources are obvious: Kidnap, extortion, and other criminal activities, says the Brookings Institution, though revenue from ransoms has diminished as ISIL runs out of likely victims.
CNN points to ISIL’s oil sales, explaining that “sources told CNN, the group probably makes between $1 million and $2 million per day, but probably on the lower end.” This oil goes not only to the Assad regime in Syria, but across the border to Turkey.
David Cohen points out that following the money trail is not a straightforward process, that this oil money travels via black marketeer to bank.
ISIL also receives money from sympathizers in various muslim states, Kuwait, and especially Qatar, ironically enough, Qatar being a Western ally and Kuwait being the country the U.S. moved in to liberate in the First Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied the country. Saudi Arabia is another source of funding for the terrorist group.
Saudi Arabia is an important if problematic US ally in the war on terror. Federal options may be limited, but, of course, Anonymous may be an answer for this:
Government of Saudi Arabia, prepare. Banks, TV & ISP' are going . is coming.
ISIL also has a sizable area it can not only plunder, including banks, including $430 million alone from a bank in Mosul, though this is a resource ISIL can tap only once when they occupy a city, and also taxation. Business Insider revealed in August that “For example, ISIS brings in nearly $12 million a month in revenues from extortion and other shady practices in the Iraqi city of Mosul alone.”
Time Magazine informed us back in October that,
The U.S. Treasury recently confirmed plans to try to bankrupt the militant group by targeting its oil businesses and imposing sanctions on those financing them.
And David Cohen revealed,
I will expect that we will have an impact on ISIL’s financial situation long before 36 months. But this is not going to be a case of, we flip a light switch and all of a sudden all of their financial resources have disappeared.
Certainly the American intelligence community has shown its own cyber chops in the recent (if virtual) tête-à-tête with North Korea. But how much more effective would Anonymous be using a somewhat less straightforward approach?
What will #OpCharlieHebdo mean for ISIL’s prospects? Certainly the military struggle must continue. But given Anonymous’ declaration of war, democracy’s struggle – and that of the United States, though it is no doubt help the federal government does not want – might have just become a great deal easier.

A “muslim free” Shooting Range In Arkansas Turns Away Brown-Skinned non-muslim Customers

In an example of purely ignorant racism, a shooting range in Arkansas turned away two prospective customers because the owner believed the men are muslim. While that in itself would show blatant discrimination, it turns out the men she told to leave aren’t even muslim. The father and son are of South Asian descent and have brown skin, which appears to be the justification the owner used in booting them from the premises.
The Arkansas Times reported on the story Tuesday after speaking with the son, who requested that his name not be released. The man explains he and his father went to The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs to spend some “guy time” together shooting guns. He pointed out that he is a college student who attends away from home and hadn’t been to the shooting range in a while. The man explained that he and his father used to go to the range before with no problems but it has “changed ownership recently.”
The current owner, Jan Morgan, was profiled by the Times last September when she declared her gun range a “muslim free zone.” Her declaration made her something of a celebrity among the misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment and the gun nuts crowd. In her essay, she said the reason she was banning muslims from her establishment is her belief that islam is a theocracy. Here is her explanation:
I view islam as a theocracy, not a religion. islam is the union of political, legal, and religious ideologies. In other words, law, religion and state are forged together to form what muslims refer to as “The nation of islam.”
It is given the sovereign qualities of a nation with clerics in the governing body and Sharia law all in one. This is a Theocracy, not a religion.
The US Constitution does not protect a theocracy.
Now, we can debate whether or not certain followers of islam feel it is a theocracy and that governments should be run following the tenets of islam. However, the fact that Morgan points to “The nation of islam” to make her point shows just how utterly ignorant and ridiculous she truly is. The nation of islam is a black separatist movement based in the United States that uses muslim teachings and has had ties with other islamic leaders, but only has a core membership of about 50,000 and hardly speaks for muslims around the world.
When the Times profiled Morgan last September, they wondered how she was going to determine who was muslim and who wasn’t when they walked through her doors. Well, it appears that they got their answer — good old fashioned racism. According to the prospective customer, once they started filling out paperwork at the counter, the woman assisting them (presumably Morgan) told them that the range was a muslim free zone and asked if they were muslim. Both of them said they weren’t, but the father asked why the range didn’t allow muslims. After a short conversation, the woman told them that they needed to leave or she was going to call the cops on them, saying “I don’t think you guys should be here.”
As the man explained, he and his father have brown skin, which may have made her suspicious of their supposed religious affiliation. He also pointed out that she said, “I would hope if you were muslim you guys wouldn’t be cowards and would be up front about it.” The college student told the Times he wouldn’t be pressing charges or taking any further action, but did want to get the story out due to the intolerance he faced. A call to the gun range from the Times was not answered as the paper said the person answering quickly hung up on them.
After the Times had run the story Tuesday afternoon, Morgan responded with a Facebook post of her own. In her post, she provided pictures of Indian customers of hers, claiming she serves brown-skinned people all the time. She also took a shot at the “liberal mainstream media” (natch) and said she has the right to refuse service to anyone she deems to be a danger or acting irrationally, perhaps implying that the two customers in the Times piece acted out of line or exhibited dangerous traits.
Anyway, if you aren’t a muslim, or have no problems supporting a business that plays on xenophobic fears, then make your way down to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and go shoot some guns!

NYPD Harassment Stories: The Unending Abuse of Power by Officers

Last month, in a dispatch for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote, "The police are representatives of a state that derives its powers from the people." The gravity of Coates's words are not lost on me, and I have considered the sentence's trueness many times in the preceding weeks. "We, the people," our founding fathers inscribed in the preamble to the Constitution. But our present condition-one that finds the NYPD constantly at odds with the community it is designed to protect-is a reality our founding fathers perhaps had not predicted: a citizenry devoid of power, and a petty police force with no sense of moral obligation to the communities it serves. The deaths of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley-and all the lives the NYPD has unfairly taken, and will likely take again-are what happens when the people have no power. I am troubled.But Coates continues, writing: "The killings of Officers Liu and Ramos prompt national comment. The killings of black civilians do not. When it is convenient to award qualitative value to murder, we do so. When it isn't, we do not. We are outraged by violence done to police, because it is violence done to all of us as a society. In the same measure, we look away from violence done by the police, because the police are not the true agents of the violence. We are." These words are also not lost on me. I am now wondering: How do we reclaim the power that we have given the NYPD, how do we reform a system so rooted in city politics-the consequences of which have become an unending and expected American practice-and alter our present existence? By showing just how toxic this system has become, and by continuing to chip away at the cracks..
As part of an ongoing series, Gawker is publishing stories from New Yorkers who have been victims of, or witnesses to, police harassment and brutality by the NYPD. Police brutality, which we believe should be treated as a national crisis, is not limited to the streets of Brooklyn, Cleveland, or Los Angeles. But examining the actions of the country's largest and most famous police force, and giving a voice to the victims of its violence, is a start.
1. My laptop was stolen in Grand Central Terminal. The crime which was record by surveillance cameras was assigned case #10-12692 by officer O'Donnell, after officer Zimmerman claimed the item was not stolen, but lost, and refused to accept the complaint. As part of a scheme to fudge the crime statistics, officer O'Donnell prepared a "lost property incident report" case #10-12629, containing statements he knew to be false, including; "The victim stated that he did not have a phone and did not possess identification. He was irrational, argumentative, and belligerent. He did refuse to provide a date of birth or social security number. Address provided was checked and is a homeless shelter." As a result, officer O'Donnell has caused the crime to disappear, false information to be entered into official record, and the Police record is bogus. I live in fear. [male]
2. A few years ago, I was on the Q train heading to 34 Street and a woman had a massive seizure. While she lay on the floor shaking, no one did anything so I went over and shifted her and held her head so she wouldn't swallow her tongue. They held the train in the station and two cops showed up. As the woman's seizure subsided one cop asked me if I was was "with her". I began to explain the situation but after a few words he suddenly screamed at me "ARE YOU WITH HER!!" I again tried to explain but he stepped very close and screamed again "I'M ASKING YOU, ARE YOU WITH HER!!!" At this point I completely shut down and said nothing. Two women who had been watching began to cry and pleaded with the officer, "He was just trying to help!" Then he turned back to me and I just said quietly, "No I am not with her."
He left me alone for a minute when the paramedics came, but then returned and said: "Hey buddy, I know you're ok I just don't take shit from anyone, you know?" It was totally bizarre. When he was screaming at me I felt like he could have done anything. I also felt that he was on something. He was terribly aggressive for no reason. And the whole time his partner acted like nothing was happening. The cop was a white male in his 30s and I am also a white male in my 30s. [male]

3. [I] was on the E this morning - a middle aged black dude in traditional "corporate" clothes (ID card hanging around his neck and all) walked through the sliding doors between subway cars (technically not legal). A cop in the subway car stopped him, asked for ID (ok, so far standard), and then asked him over and over if this man had ever been arrested before (no)...then asked him over and over if he'd ever gotten a ticket or citation. The dude paused and the cop immediately was like "oh, you had to think about it" - then verbally harassed him for 5 minutes about whether or not he'd ever been in trouble with the law - eventually forcing him to get off at the next stop to come with him....all for being black and walking between the subway cars - something many NY'ers do daily. [male]

Former TSA officer reveals widespread misery there

Image: Shutterstock Being a TSA officer is a dream job for sadistic sociopaths, but for people who are able to sympathize, it's a nightmare. "I hated it from the beginning," writes former TSA officer Jason Edward Harrington, in an essay published in Politico Magazine. He recounts the daily shame of having to confiscate nail clippers from pilots (to prevent the pilots from using them to "hijack the very planes they were flying"), jars of homemade apple butter ("on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security") and a bottle of champagne from some Marines returning home from Afghanistan who wanted to share it with a young soldier who'd lost his legs to an I.E.D.
He also admits everyone at the TSA "knew the [$150,000] full-body scanners didn't work before they were even installed."
Our instructor was a balding middle-aged man who shrugged his shoulders after everything he said, as though in apology. At the conclusion of our crash course, one of the officers in our class asked him to tell us, off the record, what he really thought about the machines.
"They're s---," he said, shrugging. He said we wouldn't be able to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat and that guns were practically invisible if they were turned sideways in a pocket.
(The useless full body scanners turned out to be lucrative for former U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, who "wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post advocating the full-body scanning systems without disclosing that Rapiscan Systems was a client of his [private consulting] firm.")

Good Looking Customers Eat for Free at This Chinese Restaurant

I’ll never have to pay for a meal again—provided that I can get to this restaurant in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China. At this sophisticated eatery, a team of employees from a plastic surgery clinic assesses the appearances of guests. Under the “Pay by Face” program, if you look good enough, then your meal is free. The scoring rubric and grading results are publicly available, so restaurant guests know how well they stack up.

Police called to disturbance at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet after staff covered up desserts

Police in Manchester were called to a disturbance at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet caused when staff covered up the desserts.
Officers received a 999 call about a disturbance at Buffet City just before 11.30pm on Friday night. The caller said a customer, a 51-year-old man, was refusing to pay the bill because staff had covered up the desserts and he had not finished his meal.
The man, who was eating with a woman, had got into a heated row with door staff over the pudding concealment, so officers attended the scene within minutes to defuse the situation.
The parties were informed it was a civil matter. Greater Manchester Police later revealed that the man was eventually given a refund.

Woman drunk on vanilla extract charged with DUI

A woman was arrested in Western New York after police say she was behind the wheel while drunk on vanilla extract.
Police say Carolyn Kesel, 46, of Seneca Falls was driving erratically in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Macedon in Wayne County.
The woman apparently told police she had got lost on her way home. A breathalyzer revealed the woman's blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.
Police say she was drinking vanilla extract that contained 41 percent alcohol. That's similar to the alcohol content of vodka and gin.
There's a news video here.

Nine and ten-year-old schoolgirls plotted to kill their teacher with hand sanitizer

Deputies with the Genesee County Sheriff's say a group of fourth graders, aged 9 and 10, planned to kill their teacher at Elba Elementary School in New York. According to the incident report, the Elba Elementary School Principal called authorities after discovering a plot to harm the teacher. Three students, all girls, are accused of planning to put hand sanitizer on different items the teacher would touch.
That teacher is highly allergic to hand sanitiser, and police say the students knew this would hurt the teacher. Sheriff's deputies and other officials met with the children accused of the plot and their parents. At least one parent said the children knew the teacher could become very sick from contact with hand sanitizer, according to the incident report. One of the mothers said after learning about the plan, she contacted the school. Another set of parents said they knew about it as well, but did not tell anyone.
The Genesee County Sheriff's Office has closed their case after finding no crime had been committed. Because the plot was never carried out, police say the students are not facing charges. "Because nothing had happened, with the juvenile laws the way they are in the state of New York, for a person under the age of 16 to be charged with something, they have to commit either a misdemeanor or a felony," said Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster.

The school district is taking over the investigation and says it is using "this incident as a vehicle for educating the district's students regarding appropriate behaviors." The district says "it is important to note that no one was injured or actually placed in harm's way." School officials will not comment on the specifics of the event, including possible disciplinary actions taken, citing protections under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Man accused of threatening to kill son following dispute with wife over game of Yahtzee

A father from Mayville, North Dakota, has been charged with felony terrorizing after he allegedly threatened to kill his 9-year-old son if the boy didn’t call 911 following a drunken fight between the man and his wife over a game of Yahtzee. Brian Cutshall, 40, pleaded not guilty on Thursday in Traill County District Court to a single count of Class C felony terrorizing.
According to documents with the charges, Traill County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched at about 2:34am on Dec 18 to an address in Mayville on a report of a scared boy who called to report a domestic dispute that became physical. The boy’s mother also got on the phone to report she was hit in the head with something, dispatch told deputies. When deputies arrived, they spoke with Cutshall, whose cheek was swollen and marked with red, and who was slurring his words and hard to understand.
Cutshall, smelling strongly of alcohol, angrily denied hitting his wife with anything, court documents allege, and said she hit him in the face with an empty wine bottle. A deputy then interviewed Cutshall’s son, who told them he came downstairs and found his mother on the floor with a bloody nose. The boy told the deputy he went upstairs to bed when his parents began arguing while playing a game of Yahtzee. When he heard screaming, he went downstairs. When a deputy told the boy he did a good job by calling 911, he said his father told him if he didn’t call 911, he was going to kill him, documents state.
The deputy asked the boy if his father was being hit by his mother when he threatened to kill him, and the boy replied yes. Deputies interviewed the boy’s mother, who also smelled strongly of alcohol and had red marks on the left side of her neck, documents state. The woman, slurring her words, denied hitting Cutshall, said there was no wine bottle, and said she didn’t recall Cutshall hitting her. The boy said his father put the empty bottles in the sink, which was where the deputy discovered an empty 40-ounce bottle of beer and an empty bottle of Boone’s Farm wine. The boy was taken into protective custody.

Shopfront Elegy

Shopfront Elegy is a website that's a celebration of old commercial facades. Photographed over many years by Vici MacDonald. Some have gone, some live on, but all share a sense of better days gone by.

The Forbidden Places And Subterranean Secrets Of 10 Big Cities

There is more to a city than meets the eye - for what we see, what we know of a place, is often but a narrow cross-section of the complete organism. Like the layers of an onion, so too are our urban environments built upon layers and layers of infrastructure; from drains and sewers, to cable runs and metro lines.
Some cities conceal the remains of ancient civilizations, while others hide more recent interments. Here is a look at 10 cities from around the world, and a sample of the subterranean secrets each one keeps.

Poland's Elbląg Canal

Thanks to steep variations in elevation, Poland's Elbląg Canal is broken up into short strips of water that are separated by stretches of land that make the course traditionally unnavigable.
However, undaunted by the very shape of the Earth, local engineers solved the problem by creating a series of railroad tracks that let passing ships turn into railroad cars for the more troublesome portions of the journey.

Iguazu Falls

Big Water Of The Borders
In the local Tupi language, the word means big water. One look at the staggering Iguazu Falls, located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones and you realise that this is no exaggeration.
The edge of the waterfall is almost three kilometers (1.86 miles) in length and it is dotted with numerous islands. These islands create a copious number of separate falls. Many have their own names - for example the narrow chasm down which half the flow disappears is known as the Devil's Throat.

NASA and The Volcano

The small bots will help researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory map fissures and learn more about how eruptions occur.

Gold Threatens Everything

Driven by demand from Asian consumers, rising prices, and made possible by new technologies -- gold mining is threatening some of the most diverse tropical forests in South America. 

No Brain and Carnivorous

An insect-eating plant proves that a brain isn't needed in order to be clever. 

Flowers Of The Sky

Flowers of the Sky is a depiction - in chronological order - of comets, meteors, meteorites and shooting stars, spanning almost a whole millennium.

Spectacular Photo Captures Optical Phenomena

The photo above, taken by Joshua Thomas, is of a sunrise in Red River, New Mexico. But it's not simply a beautiful photo. A number of optical illusions are captured in the image, namely a 22º halo, a sun pillar, a sun dog, infralateral arc, supralateral arc, helic arcs, sunvex parry arc, upper suncave parry arc and upper tangent arc.
After the photo was posted to Facebook by the National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas, the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wisconsin created the graphic below, labeling the phenomena. Visit their post of the graphic here, see this site for additional information, and click on the terms above for definitions.

Missing Beagle found on Mars?

No, it's not Snoopy's long-lost cousin; it's a spaceship that hasn't been seen or heard from in more than 10 years. News to be released on Friday might change that.
by Michael Franco
This is what the Beagle 2 would have looked like if it had deployed correctly on the Martian surface. Today, it's likely a lot more dusty

  On December 19, 2003, a tiny spaceship called the Beagle 2 was released from Mars Express, a craft orbiting Mars. On Christmas day, the lander plunged through the Martian atmosphere traveling more than 20,000 kph, and then it was never heard from again. Now there's reason to believe that NASA has spotted the diminutive craft that was part of a British-led effort under the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission.

The Guardian is reporting that NASA representatives involved with the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will participate in a conference this Friday to provide updates about the Beagle 2 mission.
The speculation is that the camera, which can shoot pictures on the Martian surface of objects as small as 3 feet in diameter, has spotted the lost Beagle, much in the same way it found the two Viking landers, which settled into their Martian homes in 1976.
"HiRise is the only camera at Mars that can see former spacecraft like Beagle 2," Shane Byrne, a scientist on the HiRISE team at the University of Arizona, told The Guardian. "It's definitely pretty close to its intended landing spot, no matter what. It entered the atmosphere at the right time and place." He also told the paper that he and his team have been asked to refrain from saying more until Friday's conference.
An image of the Beagle 2's descent toward Mars.
The original hope for the saucer-shaped Beagle 2 -- which is named after the ship upon which Charles Darwin traveled and did research -- was that it was going to "stick its devices right into Mars, sampling rocks and soil on the surface and below," according to a NASA report about the mission at the time.It was to do this with two devices that were attached to its robotic arm -- a mole that could dig into the planet's surface and retrieve core samples and a rock abrasion tool that could take interior samples from rocks. All the samples were meant to be brought back to Beagle 2's onboard oven and cooked. The gas from the process was to be analyzed by a mass spectrometer, which would seek out signs of life in the form of different carbon signatures.
None of that came to fruition, though -- nor did the musical score that the band Blur was supposed to write and then play when the Beagle landed. (You can learn more about that here.) Instead, the Beagle bounced into oblivion, remaining unseen for over a decade. If it's announced on Friday that it has been found, it will put to rest some theories about the fate of the spacecraft, including this one that postulates that the Beagle 2 burned up in the Martian atmosphere.

Man hunted down and killed crocodile with spear after it ate his pregnant wife

A fisherman from Kaliro district in Uganda has been hailed as a hero by his village mates after he killed a crocodile that mauled his pregnant wife. Mubarak Batambuze, 56, of Kibuye village, Nawaikoke sub-county in Kaliro, used a spear to stab the crocodile in the stomach shortly after it had eaten his eight-month-pregnant wife, Demeteriya Nabwire.
She was eaten by the crocodile during the early hours of last Sunday morning as she went to search for firewood on the shores of Lake Kyoga. Residents found slippers Nabwire was wearing, toes, fingers and a mobile phone at the spot where she was devoured by the deadly reptile. Batambuze said the same crocodile is believed to have eaten six women and children who had gone to fetch water at the same spot last year.
He said after discovering that his wife had been killed by the crocodile, he went to the scene and found the beast still resting there. “I went to a blacksmith and paid him sh20,000 (£4.65, $7) so that he could make me a very sharp spear." Batambuze stabbed the crocodile once in the stomach, looped it with a rope and pulled it towards the shore with the help of five other fishermen.
The brave-heart was hoisted shoulder-high by the residents who praised him as a hero of the village for being brave enough to kill the crocodile that had terrorized people in the area. Five other people survived being eaten up by a crocodile last year after they were rescued by the residents. In those earlier incidents, the survivors lost their limbs and sustained deep cuts inflicted by the reptile. An official of the Uganda Wildlife Authourity (UWA), John Opio, said the crocodile was 25-footer and weighed over 1,000kg.

Family reunited with their dogs after they were stolen by a FedEx driver

A Houston family have been reunited with their French bulldogs after they were allegedly stolen by a FedEx driver. Armando and Erica Correa said they first began looking for their two dogs, Sheila and Bruno, on Wednesday when they noticed them missing from the backyard. After searching the neighborhood by foot for their missing pets, they turned to their home surveillance video and found clues.
The surveillance video showed a FedEx driver snatching up the first dog, Sheila, and putting her in his truck. As the driver went to grab the second dog, Bruno, Sheila escaped from the truck, but the driver caught her again and eventually left with both dogs. "Once we seen them on the video we were like, I can't believe it," Erica Correa said. "We are supposed to trust these people to deliver packages and they are stealing our dogs."
The story had a happy ending for the Correas after a stranger found the dogs together on a neighborhood street about 30 miles from the family’s home. The stranger, who was not identified, took the dogs to a veterinary clinic where someone recognized the dogs from a local newscast. “They were in great condition,” said Dr. John Gregory of Kirkwood Veterinary Hospital. “They look happy, healthy, very playful.”

The dogs were reunited with the Correa family, including 5-year-old daughter, Savannah, on Thursday night. It is not clear if the dogs were let go by the driver or if they escaped. In a statement FedEx says it is “taking this incident very seriously and continues to work closely with authorities investigating this matter. Pending the completion of this investigation, the driver will not be providing service on behalf of FedEx ground.”

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