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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking to you ...!
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Today in History

1601   The Treaty of Lyons ends a short war between France and Savoy.
1746   Charles Edward Stuart defeats the government forces at the battle of Falkirk in Scotland.  
1773   Captain James Cook becomes the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle.  
1819   Simon Bolivar the "liberator" proclaims Columbia a republic.  
1893   Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, is overthrown by a group of American sugar planters led by Sanford Ballard Dole.  
1852   At the Sand River Convention, the British recognize the independence of the Transvaal Board.  
1912   Robert Scott reaches the South Pole only a month after Roald Amundsen.  
1939   The Reich issues an order forbidding Jews to practice as dentists, veterinarians and chemists.  
1945   The Red army occupies Warsaw.  
1963   Soviet leader Khrushchev visits the Berlin Wall.  
1985   A jury in New Jersey rules that terminally ill patients have the right to starve themselves.

Celtic Lore: the tales that might have inspired Star Wars and Harry Potter

#3 of 5
Capricious Cauldrons
There is a Welsh mythic story called The Spoils of Annwn, which narrates a raid on Annwn (the Otherworld) by Arthur, whose target was a magical cauldron, described as made of shimmering bronze and studded with gems. This cauldron knew its own mind: it needed the breath of nine virgins to heat the broth within it, and it would never provide food for a coward.
Arthur’s cauldron-rustling expedition ended in a Pyrrhic victory: he gained the vessel but lost most of his men to the forces of darkness in so doing. Arthur’s cauldron is only one of many that had magical properties. For the Celts, cauldrons were vessels of rebirth. The myth of Brân the Blessed, lord of Harlech, a Welsh hero (so large that he could wade across the Irish Sea and whose severed head remained alive and talking after his death), contains an account of Brân’s most treasured possession, a cauldron that could bring the dead to life.
But, again, this was a vessel that had its own agenda. When Matholwch, king of Ireland, was insulted by one of Brân’s relatives when he came to woo his sister Branwen, he could be appeased only by the gift of the cauldron. Later on, when war broke out between Ireland and Wales, Matholwch used Brân’s gift as a weapon: every night, the Irish war-dead were cooked in the cauldron and emerged good as new to fight another day.
But these resurrected soldiers were, in fact, ‘undead’ zombies, for they had lost the power of speech. Ireland had its own cauldron-myths. Gods, such as the Daghdha (a father-god) had Otherworld ‘hostels’ in which they served food in ever-replenishing cauldrons, and where pigs that had been cooked and eaten – rather chillingly – returned charred and squealing to be re-cooked every day.

Obama Seizes The Political High Ground With Plan For Paid Worker Sick Leave

President Obama dealt another blow to congressional repugicans with executive action to expand sick leave for federal workers and a call for increased paid sick leave for all American workers.

Now more than ever, our Nation’s economic success rests on our ability to empower our citizens to choose jobs that best utilize their talents and interests. All employers, including the Federal Government, should support parents to ensure they can both contribute fully in the workplace and also meet the needs of their families. The availability of paid maternity leave, for example, has been shown to increase the likelihood that mothers return to their jobs following the birth of a child, and paid maternity and paternity leave has been shown to improve the health and development outcomes of the infant. In addition, it is critically important for parents and their newborn or newly adopted child to have the opportunity to form strong family attachments and relationships.

Men and women both need time to care for their families and should have access to workplace flexibilities that help them succeed at work and at home. Offering family leave and other workplace flexibilities to parents can help achieve the goals of recruiting and retaining talent, lowering costly worker turnover, increasing employee engagement, boosting employee morale, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce. Yet, the United States lags behind almost every other country in
ensuring some form of paid parental leave to its Federal workforce; we are the only developed country in the world without it.
My memorandum of June 23, 2014 (Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs), directs the heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) to more fully utilize workplace flexibilities and work-life programs to promote recruitment, retention, employee engagement, and workforce productivity. My Administration fully supports efforts to align the Federal Government with the parental leave policies of leading private sector companies and other industrialized countries, and will continue to take administrative steps to modernize leave policies to better support Federal employees.
The action that the president took builds on the memo that he signed last summer by giving federal employees six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth of a child. The president will also ask Congress to pass a bill that would give federal employees six more weeks of parental leave. Obama is also going to ask Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow workers in businesses with fifteen or more employees to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.
It has been 22 years since the Family and Medical Leave Act was passed. Over the last two decades, the juggling act between work and family has become even more difficult for American workers. Both parents are working in more than sixty percent of American households. More than 60% of women with children under the age of five are working. The repugicans portray themselves as the pro-family party, but they oppose measures that would benefit American families.
Politically, President Obama is challenging repugicans to walk the walk. Since the November election, the president has systematically knocked congressional repugicans back on their heels through a series of executive actions. The president is challenging repugicans to oppose legislation that would help working families.
The president has opened up a new front in his battle with the repugican misled congress that is certain to put Boehner and McConnell on the defensive.

Despite Obama’s National Economic Success repugican State Economies Are Failing

The repugicans ran on, and won big with, their claim that the repugican cabal is "the cabal of solutions" founded on wingnut 'pro-growth' economic policies, deregulation, and tax cuts for the wealthy …
It is too bad that during campaigning for the 2014 midterm elections, many Democratic candidates ran away from President Obama’s economic achievements and did their level best to be repugicans. The other day the  President briefly touched on his successful economic record that Democrats were terrified of and repugicans claimed was a major disaster.  The repugicans ran on, and stole the election, their claim that the repugican cabal is “the cabal of solutions” founded on wingnut 'pro-growth' economic policies, deregulation, and tax cuts for the rich they claimed were more successful than anything “hapless” Democrats or Obama could ever hope to achieve. This is despite the President’s nearly five-year job growth record, world-leading GDP growth, and increased revenue paying down the nation’s debt at a record pace.
This column has given special attention to the trickle-down economic disaster in Kansas, but plenty of other repugican states’ economies are failing miserably; especially states with repugican governors held up as the model for the nation in hopes of winning the White House and running nation’s economy into the ground. The repugicans said throughout 2014 that Democrats and the President consistently offer up “ineffective economic policies” responsible for the President’s failed economic policies leading to increased income inequality plaguing the poor and middle class. The repugicans have no interest in addressing income inequality according to red states with failing economies due to their storied “pro-growth agenda” of tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
In New Jersey, Chris Christie campaigned on and entered office on a pledge of balancing the state budget and “replenishing the state’s pension program.” Instead, Christie’s “pro-growth agenda” of cutting corporate taxes drastically increased pension liabilities, created Kansas-style revenue shortfalls, and earned the state a record eight credit downgrades; a new mark for a sitting governor. New Jersey is also, like Kansas, lagging the rest of the nation in creating jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while the national unemployment rate has been steadily dropping, New Jersey’s is growing just over the past year.
To save his failing pro-growth economy, Christie is following Brownback’s lead and cutting employee’s pension-fund payments and delaying property-tax relief for individuals. It has already adversely affected, and caught the attention of, public workers, senior citizens, and middle-class homeowners who likely voted for more trickle-down tax cuts for the rich. Christie’s pro-growth agenda has created a $1.7 billion revenue shortfall this year due to more than $600 million in corporate tax cuts that failed to deliver economic growth, increase revenue, or create job growth.
Christie tripled corporate tax cuts in less than three years with more coming this year and, like Brownback in Kansas and repugicans in Washington, he promised and still claims that more frequent and larger business tax cuts are absolutely necessary to grow the economy, create jobs, and most importantly; “benefit the big corporations.” The only part of Christie’s promise that reached fruition is the benefit to big corporations; the goal of all wingnut “pro-growth reforms.”
Despite a flagging economy, poor job growth, revenue shortfalls, and eight credit downgrades, Christie has pledged that he will do nothing to endanger the still-growing corporate tax cuts to save the state’s economy. In fact, even raiding and cutting pension-fund payments is not enough to make up for the growing corporate tax cuts he has no intent of stopping.
In Louisiana, repugican Governor Bobby Jindal’s wingnut economic policies have the state facing “a very large shortfall as we go into the spring session of 2015 because we’ve been relying too much on those onetime funds for recurring expenses” according to a  repugican state representative. Brett Geyman said Jindal has relied “too heavily on a non-replenishable pool of “onetime” funds that won’t be available next year.”
The “very large revenue shortfall” is in spite of “the steepest cuts to education ever proposed for the state” that the repugican speaker of the Louisiana House has vowed to block because they “will set us back generations.” The fact that Jindal is still in office is proof enough form semi-intelligent Americans that the state’s education system has already set the state back generations. Jindal claims the steep education cuts are necessary to balance the state’s budget even though with the drastic cuts, the state still faces a substantially large revenue shortfall. Jindal wants to completely eliminate corporate taxes completely and raise them on the bottom 80% of the population; a tactic that will exacerbate the revenue shortfall. However, like New Jersey’s Christie and Kansas’ Brownback claim, eliminating business taxes will be a “great benefit to big corporations.”
The repugican idiot Scott Walker of Wisconsin is also facing a “pro-growth agenda” revenue shortfall this year to the tune of $2.2 billion as well as a record “slower than average job and wage growth” compared to the national figures according to a recent analysis. Walker claims the facts are false, and that he will make up the $2.2 billion shortfall by “adjusting funding priorities” that in repugican economic parlance means steep cuts to domestic programs and pension payments. Walker already cut taxes for the rich and funded them partially with Medicaid cuts and still; the state faces a 2.2 billion revenue shortfall.
What is telling in all these repugican economic failures is that the national economy is and has been steadily growing, job growth is at record pace, manufacturing is growing, and gas prices are falling. There is a reason why these, and other, repugican-misled states are not enjoying the same growth and recovery as the rest of the nation and it is down to the repugican ‘pro-growth agenda’ of tax cuts for the rich and corporations and cuts to pensions and domestic programs that help drive the economy whether at the state or federal level.
Democrats who ran away from the President’s economic record were fools, and voters in economically-failed red states were morons for either electing or re-electing ‘pro-growth’ repugicans who are not only decimating their state economies, they are dragging down the national economy as well. The real obscenity is that Democratic states are stuck bailing out the idiots in red states who continue electing repugicans who have no other intent than advancing their failed pro-growth agenda on the national level.

Homeland Security Urges Obama To Veto repugican Passed Funding Bill

obama veto 40 hour work week
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson is not impressed with House repugicans using the agency as a political hostage with their amendments to the funding bill for the agency. Not only is he urging President Obama to veto the repugican cabal bill due to the amendments, but he forcefully condemned the repugican attempts to turn the agency into a “political volleyball.”
The statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson:
Yesterday the House passed H.R. 240, a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. As introduced by Chairman Rogers, H.R. 240 was a good bill. It provided $39.7 billion in appropriations for the Department, and funded key homeland security priorities and initiatives. Regrettably, the bill was then amended on the House floor to include politically-charged language to defund our executive actions to fix the broken immigration system. The amended bill passed the House by a narrow margin; some repugicans did not even vote for it, and we have made plain that if the bill in this form comes to the President’s desk, his staff and I will recommend that he veto it.

Recent world events — the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere, along with the public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives — call for increased vigilance in homeland security.

In these times, the budget of the Department of Homeland Security cannot become a political volleyball.

At present, the Department is operating on a continuing resolution due to expire on February 27. As long as this Department continues to operate on a CR, we are prevented from funding key homeland security initiatives. These include, for example, funding for new grants to state and local law enforcement, additional border security resources, and additional Secret Service resources to implement the changes recommended by the independent panel. Other core missions, such as aviation security and protection of federal installations and personnel, are also hampered.
I respectfully urge Congress to pass an appropriations bill for DHS as soon as possible, free of politically-charged amendments to defund our executive actions.
Johnson reiterated concerns raised repeatedly by the saner, namely that this is no time to mess with the agency tasked with homeland security, cyber crimes, border control and protecting the President. As I noted yesterday after participating in a call for reporters with the White House, the Secret Service can’t move forward with the recommendations for added security for the President until the agency is fully funded. This is not small matter, especially given that the recommendations were qualified as “crucial” to the protection of the president and his family.
The funding of homeland security is not an issue that should be “debated”. How much is an issue for debate. But leaving the agency operating on a CR is not acceptable.
The repugicans need to be held accountable for repeatedly using funding the government as a hostage in order to exact policies they didn’t earn the proper way. It is especially egregious that Republicans are holding the DHS hostage at this specific time, ironically hampering border security as they wax hysterical about our borders.
The DHS itself agrees that President Obama shouldn’t cave into the hostage taking, even though they desperately need to be funded. To give in or “negotiate” with repugicans using these kinds of egregious, unusual tactics would be to offer the DHS up as a political hostage/volleyball.
The security of our nation and our president are not negotiating tools for a party that can’t handle the President acting within his constitutional authority via executive actions that impact undocumented immigrants. This is not the way to debate policy and even the hostage itself agrees, the President must not give in.

Belligerent Open Carry Coven Confronts And Harasses Texas State Lawmakers

An open carry coven's belligerent behavior demonstrates that an armed society isn't necessarily a polite society.…
open carry kroger
The Texas House approved new rules to add panic buttons in House offices on Wednesday after a confrontational open carry group harassed state lawmakers on Tuesday. On the opening day of the 2015 legislative session, over a dozen agitators from Open Carry Tarrant County visited the Capitol to try to persuade legislators to approve House Bill 195. The measure calls for overturning Texas’ 125-year ban on the open carry of handguns. Texas already allows for the open carry of shotguns and rifles.
The Open Carry Tarrant County group, led by Kory Watkins, visited the offices of several state lawmakers. While citizens clearly have the right to apply constituent pressure to encourage lawmakers to vote a certain way, the open carry activists became so belligerent that persuasion gave way to bullying tactics and outright intimidation. Their provocative behavior prompted the House to add a rule that would permit the installation of Department of Public Safety (DPS) panic buttons in member offices.
The open carry group videotaped an exchange with representative Poncho Nevarez. While the recording was supposed to rally people to the open carry agitators’ cause, the rude, threatening behavior of the cameraman stood out more than anything else, as he taunted the lawmaker and refused to leave when asked to depart. When asked to leave the office, one of the agitators shouted back at Nevarez, “you need to leave my state”.
The actions were even denounced by other open carry covens. C.J. Grisham of Open Carry Texas, harshly condemned the Open Carry Tarrant County group’s tactics. On Facebook, Grisham posted:
I’ll be spending tomorrow cleaning up the horse manure Kory Watkins dropped throughout the Capitol today instead of building support for constitutional carry. If starting fires were up for a vote, he’d be a grand arsonist. Yes, I said it. Some of us actually want bills passed that repeal laws violating our fundamental rights instead of vying for the title of Jackass of the Year. I’m done playing softball. I’m still getting phone calls from representatives and media hours later.
Grisham refers to Watkins as “a malignant cancer for the gun nuts” who could jeopardize open carry legislation with his confrontational tactics. Grisham has a valid point. The argument that “an armed society is a polite society” isn’t very compelling when the people carrying guns are incredibly rude. Open Carry Tarrant County may enjoy heckling lawmakers, but being bullies who like to carry guns isn’t doing their cause any favors.

Fear City: The Insane Pamphlet the NYPD Used to Terrorize 1970s New York

by Andy Cush
In the weeks since Officer Daniel Pantaleo escaped indictment for killing Eric Garner, the NYPD and organizations that support it have targeted Bill de Blasio with airborne banners, mass back-turnings, and memes about his wife's choice of legwear. It's a horrible display of police fearmongering and entitlement-but it all pales in comparison to "Welcome to Fear City," a pamphlet law enforcement unions published four decades ago to attack the mayor they hated.
Harry Siegel at the New York Daily News brings up "Fear City" in a blog post today, and it made the rounds on city-centric sites like Gothamist in 2013. The story behind its publication should ring a few bells for anyone who's been following the news in New York since December.
In 1975, New York Mayor Abe Beame was on less-than-friendly terms with his police department. Faced with an enormous budget deficit, he publicly considered laying off more than 10,000 uniformed officers, and unions representing police, firefighters, and other city employees were fighting back. (One little-discussed facet of de Blasio's current NYPD battles: a contract dispute with the police union.)
"Welcome to Fear City" was their weapon. The pamphlet, published by a coalition of public-sector unions calling itself the Council for Public Safety, was ostensibly a guide meant for tourists who wanted to avoid danger during their visit to the big city. To a current-day New Yorker, its rules for safe conduct are laughable: Don't take the subway; never leave midtown Manhattan; stay inside after 6 p.m., no matter what neighborhood you're in.
"Fear City"'s true intention was laid out in its second paragraph:
Now, to "solve" his budget problems, Mayor Beame is going to discharge substantial numbers of firefighters and law enforcement officer of all kinds. By the time you read this, the number of public safety personnel available to protect residents and visitors may have already been still further reduced.
In other words, if the mayor gets his way, Fear City is about to get even scarier ...

The 7 Biggest Deadbeat States Who Mooch Off Taxpayers All Vote repugican

According to a study by The Tax Foundation, the seven states who take in the most federal tax dollars all, had one thing in common. They all voted repugican in the presidential 2012 election.
Here is the Tax Foundation’s map showing the percentage of federal aid that each state receives:
states who rely most on federal aid
The Tax Foundation summed up the data, “Though taxes are the most common and recognizable source of state government revenues, it’s important to remember that they’re not the only source. In fact, state governments received 31.5 percent of their total general revenues from transfers from the federal government in the 2012 fiscal year.
That number varies pretty widely for specific states, however. For example, Mississippi obtains 45.3 percent of its total state general revenues from the federal government (the largest share in the country). Also on the high end are Louisiana (44.0 percent), Tennessee (41.0 percent), South Dakota (40.8 percent), and Missouri (39.4 percent).”
Here’s the 2012 presidential election results map:
The states that use the most federal aid are the same states who vote repugican in presidential elections. A 2010 study by the Fourth Branch found, “There is a very strong correlation, then, between a state voting for Republicans and receiving more in federal spending than its residents pay to the federal government in taxes (the rust belt and Texas being notable exceptions). In essence, those in blue states are subsidizing those in red states. Both red and blue states appear to be acting politically in opposition to their economic interests. Blue states are voting for candidates who are likely to continue the policies of red state subsidization while red states are voting for candidates who profess a desire to reduce federal spending (and presumably red state subsidization).”
Red states also use the most food stamps. Red states are the base of the Republican Party. The majority of individuals living in these states continue to vote for repugican candidates who want to shrink the size of the federal government and eliminate entitlement programs. The states who are pushing this platform the hardest are also the ones who are taking the most federal tax dollars from blue states.
States that mostly support Democrats are subsidizing the red state conservatives who claim to hate them. The message is clear. Red state economic policies don’t work without heavy taxpayer subsidies. The reddest of the red states continue to mooch off of the rest of the country, as the battle cry don’t tread on me has been replaced by please pay for me.

Millionaire Renounces US Citizenship To Dodge Taxes Then Whines When He Can’t Come Back

Roger Ver is your typical free-loading libertarian millionaire: Loved all the perks he got from living in the United States, didn’t think he should pay for them. In fact, he was so incensed at the idea of having to pay taxes on his millions – that he totally earned in a complete vacuum having nothing to do with the infrastructure created by the tyrannical government – that in 2014, he renounced his citizenship and ran off to live in St. Kitts, a tropical island with almost no taxes.
Except now he’s upset because the US won’t let him back in:
Ver complains that the decision has forced him to miss speaking appointments at conferences and that the US embassy in Barbados refused to even consider the evidence for his application.
The official reasoning behind Ver’s rejection is that he doesn’t have sufficient “ties” to his country of residency in the Caribbean and has not demonstrated he has “the ties that will compel [him] to return to your home country after your travel to the United States,” according to a picture he tweeted of a letter that appears to be from the embassy.
In short, US officials are worried that Ver might choose to stay in his native country illegally.
Ver is known as “Bitcoin Jesus” because he fetishsizes the cryptocurrency that he’s hoping will overthrow the evil tyrannical government. Of course, like all libertarians, Ver doesn’t really care what happens to all the people not already rolling in bitcoins because he got his, so to the hell with them. The most annoying part of his hypocrisy? Ver worships a virtual currency that literally only exists because the United States government he loathes so much spent millions of taxpayer dollars to develop the internet that Bitcoin cannot exist without. What a complete and utter tosser.
It might seem petty for the US to deny Ver entry but let’s be honest, if you renounce your citizenship for the explicit reason that you already made your millions and don’t want to pay back into the system that allowed you to become wealthy, you’ve broken the social contract and the United States owes you absolutely nothing. He can go scratch where the sun don’t shine.

Russia faces wave of bankruptcies

by Virginia Harrison
File photo of Russian President Putin attending his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow
The pressure is building on Vladimir Putin: Russia will be hit by a wave of bankruptcies unless it cuts interest rates very soon, a top financial official warned Monday. chairman of parliament's financial markets committee, said firms were running out of cash.
"Bankers believe that keeping the situation as it stands will cause a wave of bankruptcies, not only credit institutions but also a number of businesses and companies," Aksakov wrote in a letter to the central bank, according to Russian state media.
Aksakov said the central bank must cut rates this month to 15% from 17%, then gradually to 10.5%, the level they were at before the current financial crisis. A central bank rate of 17% meant some companies were having to pay as much as 30% to borrow.
Lower rates would allow banks to lend more to companies and individuals, he said.
The comments signal deepening stress in Russia's financial sector. Ratings agency Fitch downgraded the country's sovereign debt rating last week, blaming a sharp deterioration in its economic outlook.
The impact of Western sanctions imposed over Russia's actions in Ukraine has sparked a cash crunch by shutting many companies out of international funding markets.
Regional airline Ak Bars Aero said Monday it would suspend operations until March, joining several other Russian carriers that have halted flights as the ruble slides and their financial troubles deepen.
A collapse in the ruble, driven in part by plunging oil prices, is causing economic pain by driving up inflation. Annual inflation hit 11.4% in 2014, state media reported Monday. That price pressure has prompted the central bank to jack up interest rates.
The ruble was under pressure again Monday, falling 1.3% against the U.S. dollar as oil prices continued to slide. Russia is heavily dependent on oil revenues. The currency shed about 40% of its value in 2014.
The government has attempted to shore up the banking sector with a series of handouts, spending billions to prop up lenders including VTB, Gazprombank and the failed Trust Bank.
BNP Paribas said Monday that Russia's banks may need an overwhelming amount of support this year.
"Banks may need up to ... $45 billion in capital in 2015 to support lending and absorb credit losses, and another ... $11.5 billion to address foreign exchange valuation losses," wrote credit specialist Tatiana Tchembarova.
At the same time, the central bank has been running down its stash of foreign cash to try to stabilize its currency and contain the economic crisis.
It burned through more than $120 billion in foreign currency supplies last year. It now has $388.5 billion left in total international reserves, including gold and other liquid foreign assets.

The Doctor Who Championed Hand-Washing And Briefly Saved Lives

Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) was a Hungarian physician now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the 'savior of mothers,' Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics.

Top 10 Bizarre Sleep Disorders

Sometimes we don't get enough, sometimes too much, and sometimes we get just the right amount; but everyone needs sleep and no one can avoid it for too long. It is the single best way way to refresh the body and to relieve daily stress and tension.
During sleep the brain is extremely active, as we dream. However, while some of us dream, others have to deal with a variety of sleep disorders. Sleep disorders are common, and you've probably heard of many, but here are some weird sleep disorders that may open your eyes.

Man who had been in coma for over a year woke up when nurses wafted cash under his nose

A Chinese man who had spent more than a year in a coma suddenly woke up when nurses wafted some cash under his nose. One sniff of a 100 Yuan note (£10, $16) was all it took to bring back Shenzhen resident Xiao Li as he lay unconscious in his hospital bed.
“It was extraordinary,” said chief medic Dr. Liu Tang. “I’ve never seen anything like it in 20 years as a doctor.” Li fell into his coma in August 2013 after spending nearly a week at an internet cafe without sleep. He had passed out as he was researching business ideas. For months doctors searched for a way to awaken Li, but to no avail.
It wasn’t until his family revealed what he loved most in the world that they found their key to success. “We had asked his family what really drove him, and they were very clear that it was money,” Tang said. “When we learned about his fondness for money we experimented with notes and change.
“Memories of smell and sound can be very powerful stimulants,” he added. “We found that a crisp, new 100 Yuan note crumpled under his nose worked best.” While Li’s family continues to hope for the best as he continues his therapy in Shenzen, doctors urged them to remain cautious.

Mother accused of throwing knives at son in dispute over missing pork chops

A 15-year-old boy said his mother cut him with a knife when she became angry over pork chops. Yolanda Veasley, 57, of Dayton, Ohio, was arrested on charges of felonious assault.
Police were called to Good Samaritan Hospital on Saturday after 8pm where they met with the 15-year-old victim and his aunt. The victim told police he called his aunt after his mother had stabbed him for eating pork chops. His aunt then took him to the hospital. The aunt told police Veasley was angry because she is on food stamps and has a fixed income.
She said Veasley cooked four pork chops the night before, but when she woke up on Saturday three were gone and her son lied about eating them. The aunt said Veasley then began to throw knives at the victim. The aunt said Veasley was drunk. Police noted the victim suffered a cut to his hand. Police caught up with Veasley at her home.
She told officers her son knocked her to the ground, which started the incident. Police said being knocked to the ground didn’t justify throwing a deadly weapon; officers said Veasley agreed. Officers said they found various knives on the kitchen counter and in the sink including a meat cleaver. They also found bloody towels. Children Services was contacted.

Brotherly dispute over what TV show to watch led to one stabbed in buttocks the other dead

A 45-year-old man from Beaumont, Texas, is dead and his 35-year-old brother is recovering from a stab wound after the two fought over what television programme to watch early on Sunday morning, according to a news release from the Beaumont Police department. The older brother who died has been identified as Lynell Whittington.
Police said they will not release the younger brother's name unless he is charged. Officers were called to a house in north Beaumont at around 12:30am. An elderly man called 911 saying his adult sons were fighting and one was unconscious. As officers responded, a 911 dispatcher got a call from a person at a house who reported that the younger son had run to their house after being stabbed.
Both brothers were taken to Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth ER. Whittington died at the hospital. The younger brother received stitches for a laceration to his buttocks. Witnesses at the scene told officers that the two brothers began arguing over what television show to watch. During the argument, the younger brother began to change the television channel and Whittington attacked him with a sharp object.
A fight broke out and during the fight, Whittington was rendered unconscious. That is when the younger brother was able to escape and run to the neighbor's house. Detectives are investigating the death as a homicide. They made no arrests at this time pending further investigation and presentation of the final case to the grand jury.

Police Puzzled by Fried Egg Left at Crime Scene

The Isles of Scilly are a British archipelago off the coast of Cornwall. Police there recently investigated the burglary of a soccer equipment storage shed at a school. There, they found a fried egg left at the door. The Cornishman quotes a member of the police force:
In the case of the egg, Sergeant Taylor said: “Somebody has forced open the door to the football club shed at the playing field next to the school.
“It is fairly evident that this was done sometime over Tuesday evening and most probably to get a football out for a kick around.
“Regrettably however the door was damaged in the process as can be seen in the picture with the bottom of the door split.
“There are few clues as to how this came to happen other than a fried egg was left at the scene.”
I don't think the egg is all that mysterious. Costumed criminals leave calling cards all the time, such as the Riddler's puzzles and the Joker's joker playing cards. This new supervillain is leaving his own signature. The only question that remains is: who is this new nemesis? In the comments, offer your own hypotheses.

Grilling on Top of a Moving Submarine

Redditor shanbuscus offers this photo of his dad on top of HMAS Onslow, a diesel submarine operated by Australia's navy from 1968 to 1999. It's now on display and open to visitors at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
In the comments, other redditors who were submariners describe at great length what submarine air smells like after a lengthy cruise.

Saudi fatwa bans snow camels and snowmen

Following snowfall in northern areas of Saudi Arabia, local residents drew on their imagination and sense of fun, braving the cold weather to build snow camels in a rare tribute to the local culture.
However, religious scholar Mohammad Saleh Al Minjed, has said that building snowmen or snow animals was not acceptable in Islam.
The fatwa said that building snowmen or any replica of an animal, even if it is for fun or recreation, could not be condoned.
Only lifeless things, such as ships, fruit and buildings could be imitated, the fatwa said.

Tillie Klimek, High Priestess of the Bluebeard Clique

Tillie Klimek spent a large part of her life cooking. The problem with that was that if she was mad at someone or if she was the beneficiary of life insurance, the recipe often included arsenic. By the time Klimek was arrested in 1922, she had three dead husbands and one in the hospital for arsenic poisoning, two dead children, one dead grandchild, a dead lover, and numerous dead cousins -all for whom she’d cooked meals. Her cousin Nellie Koulik, also a widow, was arrested for providing arsenic.
Since Chicago was so thoroughly out of control in the '20s, it's not surprising that Tillie's trial turned into something of a circus. On numerous occasions, the judge was forced to yell, "This is not a theater!" But the audience would have disagreed with him. Gossipy neighbors, three gravediggers, and a "lady undertaker" testified against Tillie, and just like Hamlet's gravediggers, they were hilarious. One gravedigger kept the audience in stitches by telling a scandalous story about Tillie's lover John, the one who would come over after Frank left for work. "Once I seen him kiss her," said the gravedigger, and when McLaughlin asked what happened next, the gravedigger replied, "Why then, Tillie put up some newspapers in front of the window, so I couldn't see in." Everybody cracked up at this part—even Tillie.
Tillie Klimek was far from the only woman in Chicago in the 1920s to go to trial for murder, but her case differed from the others in that she wasn’t pretty, didn’t flirt with the court and newspaper reporters, and she didn’t beat the rap, like so many others did. Read the whole sordid story of the perennial widow and her sensational trial at Jezebel.

Painted Leather Discovered in Iran’s Burnt City

The Tehran Times reports that archaeologist Seyyed Mansur Sajjadi and his team have found a piece of painted leather at the 5,200-year-old Burnt City in southeastern Iran. “Due to extensive corrosion, some experts and the archaeologists are trying to save the leather,” he said. This season’s excavation has also uncovered a structure with two thick walls supported by nine buttresses. “The signs of fire are clearly seen in some rooms of the building,” Sajjadi said. Pieces of textiles were found in the rooms, one of which may have been used for offering sacrifices. The Burnt City, which burned down three times and was not rebuilt after the last fire in 1800 B.C., was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites last year. To read in-depth about the Burnt City, see "The World in Between."

16 Things You Didn't Know About Hot Wheels

Since 1968, Hot Wheels have been a staple of every car-loving kid's toy box. Aside from their meticulous attention to detail, the speeds they reached going down those wobbly plastic ramps easily topped a scaled 300 mph. The main reason for this? The bearings were designed by an eccentric engineer who designed missiles.
Here are 16 things you didn't know about Hot Wheels.

Antonov 225 Takeoff At Minneapolis Airport

The Antonov 225 is the largest in the world. The first and only An-225 was completed in 1988. It was initially developed for the task of transporting the Buran spaceplane. It is now in commercial operation carrying oversized payloads.The airlifter holds the absolute world records for an airlifted single item payload of 189,980 kilograms (418,834 pounds) and an airlifted total payload of 253,820 kilograms (559,577 pounds).

Dozens dead at funeral after drinking beer possibly contaminated with crocodile bile

At least 69 people have died after drinking poisonous beer at a funeral in Mozambique, health authorities confirmed. The beer was locally brewed and is believed to have been contaminated with crocodile bile during the funeral. A toddler was among those killed.
The toll of the people affected did not stop there. Reportedly, another 49 victims have been admitted to hospital and 146 others have visited the hospital with poisoning symptoms, district health official Alex Albertini said. There is a risk that the death toll might climb, as health authorities admitted they do not have the resources to deal with this kind of situation.
All of the victims are said to have attended the funeral on Saturday, where they drank the locally brewed beer Pombe, according to Albertini. Police investigation has discovered that the beer was likely contaminated with crocodile bile during the funeral. Those who drank the beer in the morning of the funeral day reported no signs of illness, while those drinking it in the afternoon got sick, according to authorities.
The woman, who was in charge of brewing the beer also died from poisoning. All the blood and beer samples are being sent to the capital Maputo for testing as regional offices do not have the right technology. “We don’t have the capacity to test the samples,” provincial health director Carle Mosse said. Am investigation into the incident is ongoing and health officials are helping the affected families by collecting donations of food and other items.

Ancestor of Jawed Vertebrates

The remains of a 415-million-year-old fish skull from Siberia offer hints about the origins of all jawed vertebrates, ranging from reptiles to humans.

Humpback whale strikes boat off Maui

Humpback whale mom probably was distracted by her calf and a nearby male escort when she bumped into a boat off Maui; 'An absolutely amazing scene'
humpback whale
Whale watchers aboard a small boat off Maui watched with widening eyes recently as a humpback whale suddenly turned toward them, began to slap her large pectoral fin on the surface, and struck their inflatable boat.
The collision with the 25-foot vessel was more of a shove than a strike, but blunt enough to “toss our boat a good five feet when she hit,” said Jennifer Nap, who videotaped the unusual incident while on the trip with her husband, Ryan.
About 10,000 endangered humpback whales are in Hawaiian waters for the winter breeding and nursing season.
The Naps and their group were with Ultimate Whale Watch and had been following a mother and calf “from a safe distance,” Nap said, when the mother whale suddenly turned.
The crew shut the engines down as the whale “came straight for us, I think to warn us to move,” Nap said.
The calf had veered away from its mom, toward the vessel’s bow. The mom, still on her side and slapping her pectoral fin, glided into the boat as the passengers reacted with trepidation and joy.
“As soon as she was done pushing us aside she dove under, then popped right back up on the other side with her calf,” Nap said.
It remains unclear whether the bump was intentional. Flipper slapping is not typically used as a warning; a whale is more likely to violently slap its fluke, or tail fin, to signal its displeasure.
Plus, as researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger points out, humpback whales almost always trumpet blow to issue warnings, and no such sounds can be heard in the footage.
Lee James, CEO for Ultimate Whale Watch, said the female humpback was also distracted by a male escort who was nearby.
“It is most likely that this mom was distracted with her calf and keeping another eye on a escort that was being a little irritating for the female, as escorts can be,” James said. “We think she simply wasn’t paying attention and bumped the boat, then carried on pec slapping like nothing happened.”
Researchers have stated on Facebook that this probably would not have occurred if the engines had been idling, because the noise would have let the whale know the boat was there.
In any event, the whale seemed to be OK and the passengers returned to port with lasting memories.
Said Nap: “An absolutely amazing scene.”

How Big Are The Biggest Squid, Whales, Sharks, Jellyfish?

by Ed Yong
A few years ago, Carl Zimmer and I ran a workshop on science writing, where we talked, among other things, about explaining science without talking down to your audience. It apparently left an impression on Craig McClain, a marine biologist and blogger who was in the audience. “I made a comment about how I always wanted to write a post on how giant squid sizes are bullsh*t,” he recalls,” but that those always come off as an arrogant scientist telling the world that it’s wrong. And you said: You should write it, but you just need to find the right tone. That kicked me off.”Rather than an angry blog post, McClain decided to put together a scientific paper that would accurately answer a simple yet slippery question: How big do the biggest animals in the ocean get?
The oceans are home to giants: blue whales and great white sharks; giant squids and giant clams; elephant seals and Japanese spider crabs. These creatures have no trouble capturing the public imagination, but scientists often have trouble capturing them. Many are rare, elusive, or live in inaccessible parts of the sea. Some are only measured when they wash ashore, after dry land distends or deflates their bodies. Some are so big that they are just plain hard to measure. And so, oceans are also home to exaggeration.
Take the giant squid. Umpteen media report claim that this nigh-mythic animal can grow up to 60 feet (18 metres) in length. That’s absurd, McClain thought. The vast majority are less than half that length. Many individuals are measured when they wash ashore, after decomposition loosens their muscles and eager humans stretch their tentacles. One size estimate even came from someone counting his paces next to a beached squid! Shoddy data had been unleashed upon the kraken.
McClain, together with Meghan Balk from the University of New Mexico, went after better sources. They recruited five keen undergraduate students and large team of colleagues, who divided a list of target species between them. They trawled the scientific literature for measurements. They combed through books, newsletters, and newspapers. They asked colleagues at museums to measure specimens in their collections. They contacted networks that rescue stranded turtles. They reeled in eBay records to find the measurements of giant clams and snail shells. And together, they found the best possible estimates for the maximum sizes of 25 ocean giants.
For some species, widely quoted figures were outrageously wrong. The largest verifiable giant squid was 12 meters long—giant, sure, but a damn sight smaller than 18 meters. The biggest known walrus weighed 1,883 kilograms, a far cry from the 2,500 kilogram titan that a hunter supposedly shot, and clearly embellished.
For some species, estimates were outdated—giant clam sizes all date to the 60s and 70s. For others, like the lion’s mane jellyfish and Japanese spider crab, the team found that accurate data just doesn’t exist.
And “some animals may just not be getting as big as they used to get,” says McClain. In 1885, fishermen in the Aleutian Islands caught a Giant Pacific octopus that was 9.8 meters from one arm tip to the next. “The two octopus experts who were with me on this paper say that they just don’t get that big any more,” says McClain. “It could be pollution or climate change.”
Hype and decline aside, the stats from the paper still tell of oceans that are full of impressive leviathans. There are giant barrel sponges, whose bodies are just two layers of cells sandwiching a jelly filling, but can nonetheless grow to 2.5 meters wide. There are 2-metre-wide Nomura’s jellyfish that can weigh 200 kilograms. In the depths, 3-metre-long giant tube worms thrive near hot, belching, volcanically heated vents, and giant isopods—a kind of undersea woodlouse on steroids—can reach 50 centimeters. Seven treacherous meters exist between the tip of a great white shark’s toothy snout and the end of its powerful tail.
The largest mammal, the blue whale, grows up to 33 meters long, and can swallow half a million calories in one mouthful. The longest fish—the star-backed whale shark—gets to 18.8 meters. The longest bony fish—the bizarre, serpentine oarfish—can reach 8 meters. The heaviest bony fish—the ocean sunfish, which looks like the decapitated head of a much larger fish—grows to just 3.3 meters long but weighs up to 2,300 kilograms. That’s much heavier than the biggest turtle (leatherback, 650 kg), a little heavier than the biggest walrus (1,883 kg), and not a patch on the heaviest seal (Southern elephant seal, 5,000 kg).
These measurements are all as accurate as possible; finding them often involved a labyrinth of references and phone calls. For the Australian trumpet—a beachball-sized monster of a snail—McClain found an issue of Hawaiian Shell News, in which a collector named Don Pisor holds up an enormous and supposedly 90-cm shell. But McClain also found a copy of the Registry of World Record Size Shells, which said that the record-holder was just 72 centimeters long. It was also attributed to Don Pisor. Were these the same specimens? Was this guy a charlatan? Or just phenomenally good at catching escargods? There was only one thing to do: McClain tracked down Pisor and asked him. It was just one specimen, he said, and he donated it to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. McClain called the museum. 72 centimeters, they said. Another data point for the list.
In a few cases, the team discovered new things about the giants. Andrew Thaler, who collected the data on giant isopods suddenly realized that males were, on average, much bigger than females. “That’s not something either of us knew before and both of us know everything there is to know about giant isopods,” says McClain.
And for several animals, the team managed to plot out the distribution of their sizes, rather than just the maximum. Scientifically, that’s more useful. People love to know how big animals can get, but that tells us very little about their typical lives. The biggest known giant squid was 12 meters long, but their average length is 7.3 meters, and most individuals are shorter than 9.2. Its archenemy, the sperm whale, has a recorded maximum size of 24 meters, but 95 percent of these whales are shorter than 15 meters.
As McClain—himself a bear of a man at 6’ 2”—points out, “individuals may reach these extraordinary large sizes through developmental or genetic defects.” The tallest human ever, Robert Wadlow, was 8 feet and 11 inches in height; he also needed leg braces to walk and died at 21 from an infection aggravated by an autoimmune disease. The tallest woman, Zeng Jillian, reached her lofty 8 feet and 1 inch because of a tumor in her pituitary gland; she died at 17. We are fascinated by extremes, but life mostly plays out in the middle.

Runaway rhea is too fast for police to catch

A bird which can grow up to 6ft and is capable of speeds of 40mph is evading capture by police, with another also on the run. Police managed to locate one of the fugitive rheas in Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire, this weekend, but were unable to catch it.
The bird, an ostrich-like, flightless bird native to South America, was first spotted by a member of the public on Friday at around 6.30pm. On Sunday morning, East Hertfordshire rural police attended a further sighting of the bird, and tweeted: “PC Watson & PCSO Steve have located the Rhea, the problem is they can’t keep up with it.”
It is believed that two rheas escaped from a property in Essex in February and have now traveled into East Hertfordshire. While police will become involved if the birds pose a danger to public safety, for example if they walk into a road, it is the responsibility of the owners to locate and capture the birds.
Police advise the public not to approach the birds, which may become scared and run into a road, or cause a danger to others. East Hertfordshire rural police ask anyone who spots either of the rheas to call them.
You can see video footage of the runaway rhea here.

Siberian husky stuck in storm drain rescued

A Siberian husky has returned home safely after somehow getting trapped in a storm drain in the Encanto neighborhood of San Diego.
Two animal control officers arrived within minutes of the call on Friday to find the one-and-a-half-year old dog sticking her head out of the drain. When the officers approached, the dog retreated into the storm drain.
Officers blocked the pipe at the end of the drain to prevent the husky from going any deeper into the system and then restrained the dog and walked it down the drain until they reached a metal grate.
Deputy Director of Animal Services Dan DeSousa said a Good Samaritan was strong enough to pull the grate up and away and the dog was lifted out. The husky, named Bella, was scanned for a microchip and returned to her owner. It’s unknown how the dog got into the drain.

Animal Pictures