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Saturday, January 31, 2015

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Today in History

1606   Guy Fawkes is hanged, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up Parliament.  
1620   Virginia colony leaders write to the Virginia Company in England, asking for more orphaned apprentices for employment.  
1788   The Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart dies.  
1835   A man with two pistols misfires at President Andrew Jackson at the White House.  
1865   House of Representatives approves a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.  
1911   The German Reichstag exempts royal families from tax obligations.  
1915   Germans use poison gas on the Russians at Bolimov.
1915   German U-boats sink two British steamers in the English Channel.  
1916   President Woodrow Wilson refuses the compromise on Lusitania reparations.
1917   Germany resumes unlimited sub warfare, warning that all neutral ships that are in the war zone will be attacked.  
1935   The Soviet premier tells Japan to get out of Manchuria.  
1943   The Battle of Stalingrad ends as small groups of German soldiers of the Sixth Army surrender to the victorious Red Army forces.  
1944   U.S. troops under Vice Adm. Spruance land on Kwajalien atoll in the Marshall Islands.  
1950   Paris protests the Soviet recognition of Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
1966   U.S. planes resume bombing of North Vietnam after a 37-day pause.  
1968   In Vietnam, the Tet Offensive begins as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers attack strategic and civilian locations throughout South Vietnam.  
1976   Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda vs. Arizona is stabbed to death.  
1981   Lech Walesa announces an accord in Poland, giving Saturdays off to laborers.

Obama Gets a Huge Win As Democrats Withdraw Their Support For Iran Sanctions Bill

Obama Drills Republicans in Health Care Victory Lap Speech
President Obama got a huge win as ten Democratic senators have vowed to vote against the Iran sanctions bill being pushed by repugicans in order to give the president more time to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran.
United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) all signed a letter to the president expressing their support:
Dear Mr. President:

We remain hopeful that diplomacy will succeed in reversing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability, in accordance with the timeline that the P5+1 and Iran negotiating teams have set for themselves: March 24, 2015 for a political framework agreement and June 30, 2015 to conclude negotiations on the technical annexes of the comprehensive deal.

Congress has always been a partner in the shared goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon capability. We remain appreciative of your leadership in seeking to protect the United States, and our allies and partners, from the threat of a nuclear Iran. For more than two decades, the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government have worked together in a bipartisan way to implement sanctions legislation that successfully ratcheted up pressure on Iran’s nuclear program. This pressure proved to be decisive in compelling Iranian leadership to enter the latest round of nuclear negotiations in September 2013.

We remain deeply skeptical that Iran is committed to making the concessions required to demonstrate to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful by March 24 – the deadline agreed upon for a political framework agreement. Considering Iran’s history in nuclear negotiations and after two extensions of the Joint Plan of Action, we are concerned that Iran is intentionally extending the negotiations to improve its leverage at the negotiating table.
We are Democratic supporters of the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2015 – a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran only if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by the June 30 deadline. This bill also includes monthly waivers after June 30 to provide additional negotiating flexibility. We believe that this bill, as introduced, is reasonable and pragmatic, respects the nuclear negotiating timeline, and sends a strong signal to Iran and to the international community that endless negotiations under the interim agreement are dangerous, unacceptable, and could leave Iran with a threshold nuclear weapon capability.

In acknowledgement of your concern regarding congressional action on legislation at this moment, we will not vote for this legislation on the Senate floor before March 24. After March 24, we will only vote for this legislation on the Senate floor if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement. This deadline is the critical test of Iranian intentions. We expect that your Administration will consult closely with Members of Congress in the coming months, and look forward to working with you to achieve our shared goal of reversing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability.
The collapse in Democratic support came after President Obama promised to veto the sanctions bill, and repugicans insulted the president by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the White House. Boehner tried to force Democrats to choose between Netanyahu and Obama, and the Democrats have chosen their president. Another repugican attempt to divide Democrats has failed and the latest congressional attempt to undermine this president has fallen apart.
The repugicans in both the House and Senate have made such a big production out of the Iran sanctions bill that they have little choice, but to vote on the legislation that now has no chance of passing the Senate. The repugican attempt to destroy the talks with Iran represents a dangerous meddling in foreign policy for domestic political gain. Senate Democrats aren’t going to be pawns in the repugican cabal’s efforts to humiliate this president.
Democrats have the president’s back, as the repugican dreams of dividing and conquering are turning into the reality of a party united behind their president.

The Kochs Plan to Buy the 2016 Election for $889 Million

The Kochs are ready to outspend the repugican cabal in putting forth candidates THEY approve of in 2016
Charles Koch
The New York Times calls it $900 million. The Washington Post “nearly $1 billion.” CNN simply calls it “staggering.” Ben Ray, spokesperson for Democratic-aligned American Bridge put it best, telling USAToday: “What an obscene amount of money.”
The actual amount announced Monday at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton is $889 million, and that is what the Koch brothers’ political network (17 Koch-funded organizations) plans to spend buying the 2016 elections for corporate America and the 1 percent.
It is, as CNN informs us, “[M]ore money than any private network has ever spent on an election cycle.” It is also as much as either the repugicans or Democrats spend: Compare this to the $675 million spent by the repugican cabal in 2012. And the Kochs can spend the money however they want, unlike the RNC.
How much money is that? With a budget of $20 per person you could feed nearly 50 million people better meals than most of them have ever had for one day.
If you go by the approximately $3 the USDA reimburses schools for free student lunches, that $889 million would feed 296 million children. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service said 21 million kids received free or reduced-price lunches in 2013. You do the math.
Oxfam has already announced to the world that the “Richest 1 percent will own more than the rest by 2016.” Apparently, that isn’t enough for the Kochs. They’ve got to have their own country, too.
The massive financial goal was revealed to donors during an annual winter meeting here hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.
Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz  were all on hand at the Koch’s retreat for seminars and strategy sessions, greedily rubbing their fingers in anticipation. Not coincidentally, Newsmax tells us that,
Most of the 450 who attended the weekend event weren’t interested in another Mitt Romney run. They leaned more toward Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul.
What we can take from Charles Koch’s welcome speech Saturday, is that the Big Lie is alive and well in the Koch family: “Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” he said. Of course, collectivism is not a threat and the Kochs are huge corporate welfare queens, more than happy to take our tax dollars from the federal government they excoriate.
Like his bought men, Walker, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz, Charles Koch is simply inventing threats out of whole cloth, and reassured guests and employees both,
But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it! In fact, the work never really ends. Because the struggle for freedom never ends.
He claimed that,
Much of our efforts to date have been largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive – causing our culture to deteriorate. Making this vision a reality will require more than a financial commitment. It requires making it a central part of their lives.
So the Kochs are presenting themselves as defenders of American culture now. This, from a man so far removed from American culture he cannot begin to imagine an average American’s life. Yet he claims to be defending our culture. This is the point of Koch’s speech at which the Greek gods would begin casting lightning bolts, for hubris was always mankind’s greatest sin.
Just keep in mind, that freedom he is talking about is serfdom for you and me.
The impact of this amount of money cannot be ignored. As Ben Ray of American Bridge put it, “If they are spending more than the rnc, I know exactly who the (repugican) presidential candidates will listen to.”
And even Grover Norquist told The Washington Post that, “It’s not like a Chicago political boss where Charles would say, ‘We’re all for this guy.’ But if he said, ‘I really like this guy’ and did an op-ed, it would matter.”
Which means Mother Jones is not engaging in mere hyperbole when they say, “It’s official: The Kochs and their rich friends are the new third party.”
Democrats, who have neither a plethora of corporations nor a bevy of 1 percenters to fund their campaigns, will have to work a lot harder to find that kind of cash. Of course, Democrat money will reflect the views of actual Americans rather than the insatiable appetites of the 1 percent.
According to the Post, “The $889 million goal reflects the budget goals of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new technology and policy work, among other projects.”
The one thing a billion dollars can’t buy are a viable platform or likeable candidates. It remains to be seen whether it is enough to convince blacks, Latinos, women and others that the Republican Party actually cares about them.
But make no mistake: this represents a full-scale assault on American democracy. Ted Cruz was quoted as saying Sunday night that, “There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking points that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world.” He said that thinking is “grotesque and offensive.”
While you have to respect Cruz’s loyalty to his owners, he is wrong. What is grotesque and offensive is what he and his fellow employees of Koch Industries have been up to at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton: plotting the murder of American democracy.

Mitch McConnell Begs Senate Democrats To Stop Filibustering Keystone XL

mcconnell-frownMitch McConnell responded to Democrats successfully filibustering the Keystone XL bill by practically begging Democrats to allow the bill to move forward.
In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell responded to the successful Democratic filibuster:
The Keystone jobs bill is a bipartisan infrastructure project the American people deserve.
So the vote last night to filibuster was disappointing.
The Keystone jobs bill has been considered and reported out by the Energy Committee…
It’s been subject to weeks of open debate.
Senators on both sides have been able to offer and vote on amendments — two dozen and counting.
Our Democratic friends have had more amendments considered on this bill than repugicans — more amendments than all of last year combined.
And just a few days ago, we offered our friends the opportunity to have even more of their amendments voted on. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected that offer.
I’m asking them to reconsider.
Join us. Work with the bill managers, Senators Murkowski and Cantwell, to get your amendments processed. And let’s make progress for the American people.
What McConnell left out of his woe is me remarks was why Democrats are so angry. Mitch McConnell tried to go back on his word with an attempt to abruptly end debate on the Keystone XL. Sen. McConnell has been trying to strong-arm the DOA pipeline bill through the Senate. Senate Democratic Whip Sen. Dick Durban explained why Democrats are angry, “The authors of the amendment were denied 60 seconds to even explain their amendments. It didn’t leave a very good taste in the mouth of many Democrats, not even those who were supporting the Keystone Canadian pipeline.”
The obstructor has become the obstructed. The fast start that McConnell promised during the 2014 campaign has evaporated as he has been pinned down by Senate Democrats on one end and President Obama on the other. The Keystone XL debate is about more than a certain to vetoed pipeline authorization bill. The deeper meaning of the debate is that Democrats are showing that they won’t be pushed around while for repugicans Keystone XL was supposed to be a symbol of their newly won power.
As the weeks go by, the Keystone XL debate has morphed into a sign that repugicans still can’t govern as they are wasting weeks on legislation that will never become law. The argument that Democrats have become the obstructionists holding back progress won’t play well in a 2016 Senate election landscape that is tilted towards Democrats. McConnell’s comments are increasing sounding like blame shifting and are the biggest sign yet that Democrats are winning the legislative struggle over Keystone XL.
Editor's Note
Since this took place the Democrats stopped their filibuster (but not until McConnell got a small taste of his own medicine and a revelation of things to come). The repugicans quickly passed the bill  that now is headed to the president for a veto which will finally kill the bill and the Koch's dream for destroying America's heartland for their profit.

Time to prosecute Boehner for breaking the law

It is beyond refute that there is a more than glaring level of hypocrisy in the repugican cabal, and there is no better example than in the House of Representatives; particularly since the Koch brothers invested power in the teabagger delusion. After the 2010 midterm elections when repugicans stole control of the House they immediately launched myriad investigations into wrongdoing by the Obama Administration; including fabricating highly-profitable and phony scandals, only to find the Obama Administration is guilty of nothing untoward. In fact, the House, under the direction of  John A. Boehner, initiated a lawsuit against the President for exercising his executive authority according to the Constitution and long-settled Supreme Court rulings.
What is stunning hypocrisy is that there have been several unethical acts by House repugicans who are following the lead of their leader John A. Boehner; the ethics-challenged cretin that no-one is willing to prosecute. Like every common criminal, or once-convicted felon, who continues to escape punishment for violating the law, Boehner continues his unethical, and now illegal, behavior because he truly believes he IS above the law. It is time to disabuse Boehner of that belief and restore the American people’s faith in the nation’s justice system.
When Boehner conspired with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress to campaign and “send a clear message to the White House” about how Israel will set America’s foreign policy in the Middle East, he violated a 216 year old law. A law, by the way, devised and enacted by America’s Founding Fathers that repugicans claim are their exemplars. It is now time to finally call for Boehner to be charged, tried, and convicted for violating the law and put a stop to his career-long abrogation of long-standing ethical and legal provisions to send a clear message that no-one in America is above the law.
He openly violated the so-called Logan Act that was signed into law and enacted in 1799 by President John Adams and codified in 18 U.S. Code § 953. The Code addresses precisely what John A. Boehner did in conspiring with Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress to defeat the measures of the United States in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States.
The Logan Act prohibits any “Private correspondence with foreign governments” and reads; “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” The Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot and should not conduct foreign affairs; that power rests in the Executive Branch exclusively.
In the 1936 Supreme Court case, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp, the Court held that “all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President. It is given implicitly and by the fact that the executive, by its very nature, is empowered to conduct foreign affairs in a way that Congress cannot and should not.” Boehner just does not, and repugicans cannot, accept that yes, “all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President;” regardless of the fact he is an African American man or that repugicans’ allegiance is to a foreign power; in this case Israel.
Boehner violated the Logan Act just by “directly commencing or carrying on any correspondence with a foreign government, or agent thereof” with his admitted and explicit intent of influencing measures of the United States. Boehner did say publicly that his reason for illegally corresponding with Netanyahu was to “specifically ask him (Netanyahu) to address Congress and send a clear message to the White House about our commitment to Israel.” Boehner’s hubris, defiance, and obvious disregard for longstanding U.S. law was when he publicly said, “Congress can make this decision on its own.” No matter what Boehner says, or thinks, Congress cannot make that decision on its own according to a 216 year old law and reiterated by the 79 year old ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Boehner needs to be fully prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code § 953 to teach him that no American is above the law regardless what he thinks. Obviously, throughout Boehner’s political career he has considered himself above the law.
This is not Boehner’s first offense without facing any legal action or congressional ethics violation repercussions to remove him for various acts. He was caught red-handed, and admitted to handing out corporate bribes for favorable votes on the floor of the House that garnered expulsion for another Ohio congressman guilty of corruption. Boehner openly, and continues to, lie about the number of jobs the KeystoneXL pipeline will create since he bought stock in seven Canadian tar sand companies in 2010; a few months before becoming Speaker of the House. In 2013 the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) began an investigation into campaign finance violations and like Boehner’s other instances of malfeasance; nothing is done to put a stop to his criminality; likely because he is white.
It is difficult for regular Americans to understand how unarmed African Americans are gunned down in cold blood, and then tried and convicted in absentia (because they were murdered) by a hostile justice system when men like Willard Romney openly violated SEC and bankruptcy laws with impunity. Or, how seditious malcontents like Cliven Bundy can defy federal court orders and summon armed militias to confront and aim their weapons at federal officials in the commission of their duty; a federal offense and sedition, and face no charges. Every year across the nation evangelical clergy violate the conditions of their tax-exempt designation, videotape their illegal acts, and dare the IRS to take punitive action.  Former pretender the shrub and his co-conspirator Dick Cheney proudly boast that they authorized torture of captive enemy prisoners of war, many innocent, and nothing happens. Now, Boehner blatantly violates an over-200 year old law, boasts about it, and the Justice Department and congressional ethics committees turn away in what; fear?
One often hears politicians, including President Obama proclaim with authority that “no-one in America is above the law.”  Americans certainly understand that is undoubtedly one of the biggest lies, and farces, being parroted time and time again with no chance in proverbial Hell of ever changing. John A. Boehner is a sleazy, crooked politician, and although handing out corporate bribes for votes, lying to manipulate tar sand share prices, and taking illegal campaign donations are crimes, they pale in comparison to conspiring with a foreign nation’s leader to “influence and defeat foreign policy measures of the Unite States.
John Boehner’s most recent crime is not up for debate, or opinion; he deliberately and with substantial malice aforethought violated the Logan Act and Americans must demand that he be charged, tried in federal court, and convicted with his own confession that he defiantly “carried on any correspondence or intercourse an officer of a foreign government to defeat the measures of the United States” because Israel has a dispute with the United States of America’s Middle East foreign policy.

Boehner To Waste Millions More Taxpayer Dollars By Launching Second Lawsuit Against Obama

John Boehner told House repugicans that he was finishing plans that will waste millions more taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit against President Obama’s immigration executive actions.
Politico reported:
House Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team is preparing a resolution that could authorize further legal action against the Obama administration over its moves on immigration; he told his colleagues Tuesday morning.
The resolution, which Boehner discussed in a closed repugican meeting Tuesday, could authorize the House to take several different forms of legal action against the administration, but no final course of action has been decided. For example, the resolution could authorize the House to join a lawsuit that states have filed against President Barack Obama over the executive action.
“We are finalizing a plan to authorize litigation on this issue — one we believe gives us the best chance of success,” Boehner said in the meeting.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi blistered Boehner for not governing, “repugicans control both houses of Congress, but Boehner still doesn’t have the wherewithal to legislate. House repugicans’ latest lawsuit against the President is an embarrassing admission of failure. The repugicans’ radical anti-immigrant legislation is dead on arrival. Once again, House repugicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern. The repugicans should stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars suing the President, and start showing some seriousness for the security of the American people.”
House repugicans announced that they were delaying a vote on their border security bill because of the blizzard, but the real reason for the delay is that  Boehner doesn’t have the votes to pass the bill. Boehner has refused to govern most of the time, but when he has tried to pass legislation, he often doesn’t have the votes to pass his own bills.
John Boehner can’t govern, so he is going to sue President Obama for using his executive powers. Boehner’s Obamacare lawsuit is costing taxpayers $500/hour in attorney fees. Instead of passing legislation, Boehner’s answer to everything is to abuse the court system by filing frivolous lawsuits against President Obama.
The lawsuit strategy was born out of repugican desperation, ineptitude, and failure. Boehner’s lawsuits are an attempt to distract the country from the fact no matter how big of a majority Boehner has in the House, repugicans remain unfit to govern.

Judge Refuses To Dismiss Felony Abuse Of Power Case Against Rick Perry

Republican Presidential Hopeful Rick Perry Speaks To The Media In New York CityA Texas judge refused to dismiss a felony abuse-of-power case against Rick Perry on constitutional grounds, ruling that criminal charges against the possible 2016 presidential candidate should stand.
In 44 pages of decisions and orders, District Judge Bert Richardson, who like Perry is a repugican, rejected calls from Perry’s pricy defense team to toss the case because its client was acting within his rights as chief executive of America’s second-most populous state when he publicly threatened, then carried out, a 2013 veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors.
Richardson wrote that, “Texas law clearly precludes a trial court from making a pretrial determination regarding the constitutionality of a state penal or criminal procedural statute as the statue applies to a particular defendant.”
Perry was the longest-serving governor in Texas history but chose not to seek re-election last year and left office Jan. 20. He is seriously considering a second run for pretender after his 2012 White House bid flamed out in a series of public gaffes, however, and says he may announce a final decision as soon as May.
Perry has spent more than $1.1 million of his campaign funds on his defense — and Richard’s ruling means it will likely continue for several more months at least.
David Botsford, one of Perry’s defense attorneys, said the legal team had filed a notice of appeal. Another attorney, Tony Buzbee, issued a statement saying that the former governor “acted lawfully and properly exercised his power under the law” and that his continued prosecution “is an outrage and sets a dangerous precedent in our Democracy.”
Perry was indicted in August on charges of abuse of official power and coercion of a public servant. He is accused of publicly threatening — then making good on — the veto of $7.5 million in state funding for a public corruption division within the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. That came after Lehmberg, a Democrat whose county includes Austin, rebuffed Perry’s calls to resign following a conviction and jail time for drunken driving.
Texans for Public Justice, watchdog group based in Austin, raised concerns that gave rise to the criminal case. The group’s executive director, Craig McDonald, released a statement saying, “The prosecutor and a grand jury have said there’s compelling evidence against Perry. That evidence should be presented in court for all to see. The chances of that happening improved today.”
In a 60-page motion filed in August, Perry’s attorneys had said the law being used to prosecute him is unconstitutionally vague and decried “attempts to convert inescapably political disputes into criminal complaints.”
Richardson did rule that one of the charges against Perry was vague, but he gave the state time to correct it.
A grand jury in Austin — a liberal enclave in otherwise largely wingnut Texas — indicted Perry. If convicted, the former governor faces a maximum 109 years in prison. Perry calls the matter a political witch hunt and says he would issue the veto again if given the chance. When he was booked and fingerprinted, Perry smirked in his mug shot — then tweeted about going for ice cream.
Top national repugicans initially lined up to praise Perry and decry the criminal charges against him — but they’ve been less vocal about their support as the case drags on.
An exception was fellow TexanTed Cruz, who’s also mulling a pretender run. The teabagger darling called Perry “a good man, a man of integrity, and a friend.”
“The district court’s decision to allow this case to proceed is both unfortunate and wrong, and it profoundly undermines the rule of law,” Cruz said in a statement.
Richardson had previously refused to toss the case on a series of technicalities Perry’s lawyers raised, including questioning whether the special prosecutor assigned to the case, San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum, was properly sworn in.
McCrum has said from the start that the case is stronger than it may outwardly appear, and that it should be heard by a jury.

Prison Profits

It's a notion that might fly under the radar a bit, but not all prisons are state or federally run. Some corrections facilities are in effect outsourced to private firms. Julia explains.

How creative are you?

creativetypeHow creative are you? Depends where you’re from

With the “creative class” on the rise, many businesses are trying to capitalize on imagination and innovation. But when it comes to creative juices, some societies have a faster flow […]

Growng New Hair

Using stem cells to grow new hairUsing stem cells to grow new hair

In a new study from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham), researchers have used human pluripotent stem cells to generate new hair. The study represents the first step toward the development […]

Parental Time Pressure

Association between parental time pressure and mental health problems among childrenLink between parental time pressure, mental health problems among children

A doctor’s thesis at Sahlgrenska Academy has found that children whose parents experience time pressure are more likely to have mental health problems. Mental health problems among children and adolescents […]

Smelling Good

Things smell good for a reason

Fruit flies use olfactory cues to detect healthy antioxidants in their food Antioxidants are natural food ingredients that protect cells from harmful influences. Their main task is to neutralize so-called […]

Regulating Thirst

Researchers identify brain circuit that regulates thirstResearchers identify brain circuit that regulates thirst

Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have identified a circuit in the brains of mice that regulates thirst. When a subset of cells in the circuit is switched on, mice immediately […]

Advancing Multiculturalism

Participation in a cultural activity may reduce prejudiceRetreat of multiculturalism ‘is a myth’

Perceptions of a decline in multiculturalism as a means of integrating ethnic minorities are unfounded, research led at the University of Strathclyde has found. The study, comparing citizenship programs in […]

Early Mesoamericans and Climate Change

Climate puzzle over origins of life on EarthEarly Mesoamericans affected by climate change

Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland Mexico, and found the population drastically declined in the past, at least in […]

Oetzi's New Ink

A new imaging technique allowed researchers to identify 61 tattoos on the 5,300-year-old mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman.

Primitive New Human

The human history plot thickens with the discovery of a new archaic human from Taiwan that might have coexisted and interbred with our species.

Mysterious Easter Island

easter islandEaster Island mystery

A UCSB geographer teams up with archaeologists to clarify factors that contributed to the demise of early Rapa Nui society Long before the Europeans arrived on Easter Island in 1722, […]

The Gympie Gympie Tree

Being Stung by the Gympie Gympie Tree Is the Worst Kind of Pain You Can Imagine
‘Gympie-Gympie’ is hardly the name you’d expect for a stinging-tree. It looks quite harmless too, but in reality, the Gympie-Gympie is one of the most venomous plants in the world. Commonly found in the rainforest areas of north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas and Indonesia, it is known to grow up to one to two meters in height.
In fact, the Gympie-Gympie sting is so dangerous that it has been known to kill dogs, horses and humans alike. If you’re lucky enough to survive, you  only feel excruciating pain that can last several months and reoccur for years. Even a dry specimen can inflict pain, almost a hundred years after being picked!
With the exception of its roots, every single part of the deadly tree – its heart shaped leaves, its stem and its pink/purple fruit – is covered with tiny stinging hairs shaped like hypodermic needles. You only need to lightly touch the plant to get stung, after which the hair penetrates the body and releases a painful toxin called moroidin. Sometimes, merely being in the presence of the plant and breathing the hair that it sheds into the air can cause itching, rashes, sneezing and terrible nosebleeds.

Emoticons In Nature

Better Than Hubble

aragoscopeNew space telescope concept could image objects at far higher resolution than Hubble

University of Colorado Boulder researchers will update NASA officials next week on a revolutionary space telescope concept selected by the agency for study last June that could provide images up […]

Melting Caused Crater

A mysterious crater discovered in East Antarctica last month likely formed beneath a leaky meltwater lake.

Best Ever View of Dwarf Planet Ceres

A NASA spacecraft en-route to the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter returned its sharpest images yet of its target, the dwarf planet Ceres.

Solar System's Ancient 'Twin'

Astronomers have found an ancient, more compact version of our solar system, which could have implications for the search of extraterrestrial life.

5 Ancient Alien Planets Nearly As Old As the Universe

Found! 5 Ancient Alien Planets Nearly As Old As the Universe
Artist's concept of the 11.2-billion-year-old star Kepler-444, which hosts five known rocky planets.
Five rocky alien worlds that are 80 percent as old as the universe itself have been discovered, suggesting that Earth-size planets have been a feature of the Milky Way galaxy almost since its beginning. The newfound exoplanets circle Kepler-444, an 11.2-billion-year-old star about 25 percent smaller than the sun that lies 117 light-years from Earth. All of the worlds are Venus-size or smaller and are therefore rocky, though scientists know nothing else about their composition.
All five alien planets complete an orbit in less than 10 days, meaning they're almost certainly too hot to support life as we know it. But Kepler-444 hints at the existence of other ancient planetary systems that may be more hospitable, researchers said.
"We now know that Earth-sized planets have formed throughout most of the universe’s 13.8-billion-year history, which could provide scope for the existence of ancient life in the galaxy," lead study author Tiago Campante, of the University of Birmingham in England, said in a statement.
For perspective, Earth and everything else in our own solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago..
Campante and his colleagues discovered Kepler-444 and its five known planets after analyzing data gathered by NASA's Kepler space telescope. Kepler hunts for planets by noting the tiny brightness dips caused when they cross their host star's face from the spacecraft's perspective.
Kepler can also pick up brightness changes caused by sound waves within the star that affect its temperature and thus its luminosity. Studying these natural oscillations — a strategy known as asteroseismology — can help scientists determine a star's size, mass and age.
"When asteroseismology emerged about two decades ago, we could only use it on the sun and a few bright stars, but thanks to Kepler, we can now apply the technique to literally thousands of stars," said co-author Daniel Huber, of the University of Sydney in Australia.
"Asteroseismology allows us to precisely measure the radius of Kepler-444 and hence the sizes of its planets," he added. "For the smallest planet in the Kepler-444 system, which is slightly larger than Mercury, we measured its size with an uncertainty of only 100 kilometers [62 miles]."
The $600 million Kepler mission launched in March 2009, tasked with helping scientists determine how commonly Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way. The spacecraft has discovered more than 1,000 explanets to date, with more than 3,000 additional "candidates" awaiting confirmation by follow-up analysis or observations.
Kepler's original planet hunt ended in May 2013, when the second of its four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed. But scientists are still combing through the instrument's huge data set, as the new study shows. And Kepler has embarked upon a new mission called K2, which is continuing the exoplanet search but also includes observations of other cosmic objects and phenomena.
The new study was published today (Jan. 27) in The Astrophysical Journal.

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