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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

425   Theodosius effectively founds a university in Constantinople.  
1531   German Protestants form the League of Schmalkalden to resist the power of the emperor.
1700   The Pacific Island of New Britain is discovered.  
1814   Napoleon's Marshal Nicholas Oudinot is pushed back at Barsur-Aube by the Emperor's allied enemies shortly before his abdication.  
1827   The first Mardi-Gras celebration is held in New Orleans.  
1864   The first Union prisoners arrive at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.  
1865   Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers attack Hickman, Kentucky, shooting women and children.  
1905   The Japanese push Russians back in Manchuria and cross the Sha River.
1908   The forty-sixth star is added to the U.S. flag, signifying Oklahoma's admission to statehood.  
1920   The United States rejects a Soviet peace offer as propaganda.  
1925   Glacier Bay National Monument is dedicated in Alaska.  
1933   The burning down of the Reichstag building in Berlin gives the Nazis the opportunity to suspend personal liberty with increased power.  
1939   The Supreme Court outlaws sit-down strikes.  
1942   British Commandos raid a German radar station at Bruneval on the French coast.
1953   F-84 Thunderjets raid North Korean base on Yalu River.  
1962   South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem is unharmed as two planes bomb the presidential palace in Saigon.  
1963   The Soviet Union says that 10,000 troops will remain in Cuba.  
1969   Thousands of students protest President Richard Nixon's arrival in Rome.  
1973   U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Virginia pool club can't bar residents because of color.  
1988   Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.  
1991  Coalition forces liberate Kuwait after seven months of occupation by the Iraqi army.

Christian Homeschoolers Sell Daughter Into Arranged Marriage, Offer Discount Because She’s ‘Damaged’

by Jameson Parker 
Recently, America’s secretive “Christian homeschooling” movement found itself at the center of attention when a 19-year-old girl created a viral plea for help proving she really existed. Her parents had withdrawn so far from the rest of society that they had refused to get her a social security number, a birth certificate, or any form of medical history – in essence, the girl, now a young adult, was an undocumented illegal alien, despite having been born in Texas. The neglect has prevented her from entering into society on almost every level: She can’t get a job, she can’t attend college, she can’t rent or buy a home or car.
But if people assumed that the parental malfeasance displayed by her parents was the worst the movement had to offer, a new whistleblower has shown that these fundamentalist Christian communities can be infinitely more damaging than that.
Jennyfer Austin was adopted as a child into just such a home and was from then on blocked off from the outside world. During her formative years, Austin grew up under strict, oftentimes severe, religious parenting that she says only got worse as her mother was “egged on” by homeschooling friends and church leaders.
Christian fundamentalists often opt for homeschooling over public or private schools because it allows them to control every aspect of their children’s lives. A study released in 2013 found that homeschooling has been growing steadily in recent years. 77 percent of parents asked why they chose to homeschool their children said that it was a desire to provide moral instruction that they believe “secular” schools lack.
For Austin, being shut away from the watchful eye of the public school system allowed her parents to keep her near. Even when she reached adulthood, Austin was prevented from going out into the world. Unlike many Christian homeschooling children, Austin knew that she had a birth certificate and social security number (because of her adoption), but her adoptive mother hid the documents as a way of keeping Austin close.
Austin’s description of life in her home sounds like something out of Saudi Arabia, not California:
‘Dating was a complete no-no. I might be able to have a parent-approved courtship and go places in public, but I couldn’t possibly do something like hold hands with a boy.’
She was forced to wear long skirts and blouses with high necklines and long sleeves. If she chose a skirt which went to mid-calf, she would have to put on knee-length boots so no leg was shown.
‘Even my swimsuit went down to my knees and had sleeves,’ she recalled. ‘I wasn’t allowed to shave. My grandfather felt that any part such as my legs that needed to be shaved should not be shown off in public.’
Most appallingly, at the age of 20, Austin was told by her parents that she had been “sold” to a man twice her age, a situation that Austin and others like her say is disturbingly commonplace. She says her parents’ asking price for her was $25,000, a fee that was much smaller than the average (around $50,000), because due to her being molested as a child she was considered within her Christian community to be “damaged goods.”
Thankfully, Austin managed to escape from her appalling life, which was, to be frank, little more than an imprisonment. Escaping was nonetheless difficult. After refusing to marry the man her parents were paid to deliver her to, her mother said Austin owed the would-be husband a refund of his $25,000 down payment. Instead, she fled.
Austin is now married, albeit to a man that she actually chose to be with. She now says that she is focusing on rebuilding her life in a society that her parents had tried for her entire childhood to keep her from.
She says that because of her experience that she no longer identifies as a Christian. Her adoptive parents may not have been representative of all of Christianity, but Austin can certainly be forgiven for not wanting any part of it.
According to a report by the AHA Foundation, a group which focuses on protecting the rights of women, America is home to a large number of forced marriages. Concrete numbers are hard to come by given the secretive nature in which they take place, but the group identified as many as 3,000 cases in just the last two years. Many of the cases involve immigrants who maintain the customs from their home country, however there is anecdotal evidence to suggest the fundamentalist Christian movement is also implicated.

Lady's celebratory 21st birthday balloons led to police accusations of Islamic State propaganda

After Sarah Ericsson hung up balloons in the shape of the number '21' for her birthday, her home in Sweden was paid a visit by police officers who thought they stood for 'IS' and had been put up by supporters of the Islamic State extremist group. "It was a little strange," the 21-year-old student said.
She was already in class on Monday when her boyfriend Fabian Åkesson, who was staying at her home in Karlskrona, received a visit from police. A passer-by had called them after looking through the window at two balloons pushed together to make the number '21' and confusing their reverse image with the letters 'IS', which the extremist group also known as Isis and the Islamic State often uses as part of its propaganda.
"We understand why someone would report it if they thought it looked like IS-propaganda, although everyone else just thought it looked like the number '12' from outside," Ericsson said. Her boyfriend Fabian Åkesson explained that he was stood looking out of a window brushing his teeth on Monday morning when he noticed several police cars outside the house and then heard a knock on the door. When he went to open it, he was greeted by three police officers, who quickly realized that they had made a mistake.
"I laughed about it and they showed me a photo that they had taken where from their perspective, it did almost look like the letters IS," he said. But despite police accepting the error, Åkesson said he was still asked to remove the balloons from the window. "They asked me to take down the balloons to avoid further misunderstanding. We laughed some more about it all and they wished me a nice day, and wished my girlfriend a belated Happy Birthday," he said. "Extremism should always be taken seriously, and we did take the balloons down immediately," added Ericsson.

Mother angry after playground slathered in lube

A brand new playground in Plymouth, Devon, was coated with lubricant in a dangerous stunt by mindless yobs. Angry Clarice Thacker discovered the vandalism at the £40,000 park in Frogmore Field when she took her two-year-old boy Sonny along for one of their regular afternoons playing on the equipment.
After noticing Sonny slipping on climbing frame steps, Clarice realized the whole play park has been tarnished with the slippery substance. “At first I thought he’d just slipped, but then he went down the slide and he absolutely flew down it. Then his clothes and his hands were covered in lubricant.
“Another lady was there with her grandchild and she thought it was glue, but it was like jelly and we realized it was lubricant. I found an empty packet of lubricant on the way out and took a picture of it before I put it in the bin. It’s disgusting that someone would do this.” And Clarice says it’s just good fortune that Sonny, nor any other child, was badly hurt. “He could really have hurt himself when he slipped from the bars. And it was all over the climbing frame.
“We phoned the council straight away and they said they’d be out to clean it up.” A spokesman for Plymouth City Council said: “We take very seriously any reports of damage to our playgrounds and deal with them as quickly as possible. It’s disappointing that this act of vandalism has taken place on a playground that is primarily designed for younger children. All our playgrounds are cleaned and inspected on a weekly basis, but we would encourage anyone who finds any damage to contact us.”

Man suffered bruised knee after being blown out of exploding bathroom

A New York man escaped with just a bruised knee after he was a launched out of a bathroom by an explosion. Jeffery Oppenheim was visiting his friend Andrew Pessin in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sunday when the unusual incident occurred.

Fog blamed for boat crashing into restaurant

As fog shrouded the Florida coastline at about 5pm on Monday, a 39-foot boat crashed onto the shore in front of the Sunset Grille in Little Harbor, sliding across a broad beach and smashing into the restaurant.
Two people suffered minor injuries. Seven people were on the boat and one was taken to a hospital. The person driving the boat "just kept going straight and never turned,'' said witness Bob Schafer.
The four-engine boat was travelling at 40 to 50 mph, said Nacole Revette, a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman. She said firefighters shored up the restaurant roof.

No alcohol was suspected. The fog appeared to be a major factor in the crash, said Baryl Martin, a Fish and Wildlife spokesman. The boaters' names were not released. An investigation is ongoing, Martin added.

Thief caught out when phone rang in his shoe

A student who denied stealing an iPhone was exposed as a thief when the device started ringing in his shoe. When Harold Penn-Timity was confronted by the victim and his friends, as well as an off duty policeman, he thought he could brazen it out that the thief wasn't him. That was until someone rang the number of the missing mobile and the phone could be heard ringing from Penn-Timity's footwear and he was promptly arrested.
At Luton Crown Court the 25-year-old pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft. Douglas Page, prosecuting, told how on November 10 last year in Fitzroy Court, a halls of residence at Luton University, Penn-Timity was confronted by a group of young men over the theft of the iPhone 5. In fact a passing off duty policeman saw a group of males surrounding the defendant and decided to go and investigate. One of the young men present shouted out "That twat robbed me - look in his back pocket."
Mr Page said the off duty officer discovered the group suspected Penn-Timity of stealing the phone, but he was denying any responsibility and saying "I haven't got it." The prosecutor said it was then that the owner of the phone asked one of his friends to call his number. "It could be heard ringing and it was found in Penn-Timity's shoe," said Mr Page. The court was told he said "I didn't take it on purpose. I was going to give it back."
Penn-Timity claimed he had come across it and picked it up and then been frightened to hand it in thinking he would be accused of stealing and kicked out of the university where he was on a media course. Tim Nutley, defending, described it as a "opportunistic offense" and out of character. Judge Peter Wright sentenced Penn-Timity to a 12 month community order and told him he must perform 80 hours of unpaid work.

Man fell asleep while trying to steal bus

A 20-year-old man from north Belfast, Northern Ireland, who fell asleep on a bus he allegedly tried to steal has been refused bail. Joseph McMahon, from the Antrim Road, is charged with trying to steal a double decker bus. He is also accused of stealing two mobile phones from a shop, causing criminal damage to a phone, and possessing cannabis.
All the alleged offenses took place on 19 February. He is further charged with disorderly behavior at the Royal Victoria Hospital the following day. A detective constable told Belfast Magistrates Court that with 128 convictions, along with drink and drug addictions, Mr McMahon "appears to have no concern for the consequences of his actions, so is a danger to both himself and others".
"He passed out on the bus he attempted to steal, so given the circumstances, it's alarming to think about the consequences that may have ensued if he had managed to steal the bus," the detective said. He also said Mr McMahon had numerous breaches of bail and court orders, adding that he was currently under two suspended jail terms for burglary and theft and was only released from custody last month.
Mr McMahon's solicitor said he had instructed her that he would abide by any bail conditions set by the court, but a judge told the solicitor it was "very difficult for me to say that there's any chance of him keeping to conditions". The accused is due back before the court via videolink on 20 March.

Saunas May Help You Live Longer

Sweating it out in the sauna is good for your heart, suggests new research, which links saunas to the longer lives, at least among men.

Social Media and Body Image

Body-image-1The Impact of Social Media on Body Image

A new study estimates that approximately a half million teens struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating can cause serious physical problems and, at their […]

Too many food choices

Junk food diet binge eatingToo many food choices exacerbate the battle against obesity

Some scientists say that when mothers eat poorly during pregnancy, they pass along traits to their children that make them more likely to have poor diets and have related health […]

Prevent Allergy

With peanut allergies on the rise worldwide, a study found that contrary to previous advice, feeding foods containing peanuts to babies before 11 months of age may help prevent allergies.

Using Jupiter

A new study has taken a look at the gas giant from a whole different perspective -- as an alien, living far beyond the solar system, would see it.

New Craters Found in Siberia

Russian scientists discover 20 small sinkholes surrounding a larger crater in Siberia.

Wavelike Cloud Hugs Grand Tetons

A bizarre sheet of clouds embraced the highest peak in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

India's Polluted Air

About half of India's population lives in areas with dirty air that will reduce life expectancy.

Diversity is an important part of a healthy ecosystem

dragonflySmall predator diversity is an important part of a healthy ecosystem

Biodiversity, including small predators such as dragonflies and other aquatic bugs that attack and consume parasites, may improve the health of amphibians, according to a team of researchers. Amphibians have […]

‘Monster’ Hurricanes

‘Monster’ Hurricanes Have Hit New England For 2,000 Years

A new study shows that the American Northeastern seaboard has been hit by dozens of “monster” hurricanes over the past 2,000 years, many of them dwarfing recent storms such as […]

High and Low Tides

When the moon hits our eye it's less a pizza pie than a big, shiny tidal engine, tugging Earth enough to create the tides we see rolling on and off our beaches. Are other factors at play in Earth's tides? You might be surprised.

Deepest Ocean Water Teems With Life

Microscopic bacteria thrive in seawater at the lowest point on Earth's surface, the Mariana Trench.

Plastic-Eating Corals

Scientists found plastic deep inside the coral and worried the substance could hurt the creature's ability to digest normal food.

Ocean acidification threatens coastal communities

Ocean acidification threatens coastal communities across the U.S.

The first nationwide vulnerability assessment for ocean acidification, published today in Nature Climate Change, shows that coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the nation’s approximately $1 billion shelled-mollusk […]

Cooked by Acidic Seas

Climate change could push some shellfish over the edge.

Octopus Nabs Crab

An amateur video shot in Western Australia captures an octopus jumping out of the water and onto land long enough to seize an unsuspecting crustacean.

19 Manatees

The animals were in search of warmer water amid a Central Florida cold spell that had chilled their local lagoon.

Gerbils and The Black Death

Black rats may not have been responsible for outbreaks of the plague in Europe, a new study argues.

Scabby the mange-ridden fox nursed back to health with honey sandwiches

A woman nursed a mange-ridden fox back to health using honey sandwiches. Louise Carlton, 31, from Blackheath, south East London, has managed to cure the sick ginger visitor after Googling mange treatments. After leaving mange medicine in honey sandwiches, "Scabby" is now back to full health and still pays regular visits to her garden. She said: "It all started in August - I was in the garden sunbathing, had fallen asleep, and awoke to find this little fox licking my ear. To this day I am not sure whether he was being friendly/inquisitive or I was about to become his dinner. After this I became quite fond of him and used to notice him in the garden."
Miss Carlton named the fox Scabby last September when she noticed the fox looking ill and chronically underweight. She described him as being skinny and covered in mange with part of his tail bleeding. "I had become quite attached to him by this point and had a look on Google to see if I could work out what was wrong with him and make it better." After visiting a fox welfare website, Miss Carlton was advised to leave mange treatment medicine for Scabby in honey sandwiches. This was because Scabby would not take the medicine on its own and cats and dogs would not be interested in anything sweet.
Miss Carlton added: "It turns out Scabby absolutely loves honey sandwiches and I have been making them for him long since he completed his course of mange treatment." Since the sandwiches, Scabby's menu has received an upgrade and Miss Carlton's partner Jonathan now thinks the fox is better fed than he is. Miss Carlton said: "He has leftover roast chicken sometimes on a Sunday and I cooked him a Turkey crown at Christmas. He even knows when I have been shopping and has been known to turn up at the kitchen window at the sight of a shopping bag."
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "It is wonderful to see these people obviously enjoying the wildlife in the garden and wanting to help, but it is important to remember that if you regularly see foxes in your garden, they have probably already found a good food supply in the area and so do not need extra food. As a result we would always recommend caution when feeding foxes. It is also important that people take care to avoid making foxes tame, so never hand-feeding them or putting out too much food as foxes may not move far if all the food they need is available in one garden. In this particular case, the fox does look overweight and this may well affect his welfare."

Cheeky koala caught in the act while trying to steal Land Rover

A schoolboy from rural Victoria, Australia, returned home on Monday to find a furry carjacker behind the wheel of the family Land Rover.
Sam Box, 15, said he had just got off the bus after school when he found the koala “trying to drive”. He quickly snapped photos showing the koala sitting in the driver’s seat with its paws on the steering wheel.

“We see them a fair bit here but never in the car,” Sam said. He said he made a bit of noise so it would move on but the friendly intruder was not afraid. “It was checking me out as much as I was checking him out,” Sam said.
“I opened the door and he just got out and walked away.” Sam and his father Michael Box live on a 200-acre sheep farm at Maude near Geelong. Mr Box said he “couldn’t believe it” when Sam showed him the photos.

Animal Pictures