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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1521 Cortes captures the city of Tenochtitlan, Mexico, and sets it on fire.
1630 Emperor Ferdinand II dismisses Albert Eusebius van Wallenstein, his most capable general.
1680 War starts when the Spanish are expelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, by Indians under Chief Pope.
1704 The Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Austria defeat the French Army at the Battle of Blenheim.
1787 The Ottoman Empire declares war on Russia.
1862 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeats a Union army under Thomas Crittenden at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
1881 The first African-American nursing school opens at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
1889 The first coin-operated telephone is patented by William Gray.
1892 The first issue of the Afro American newspaper is published in Baltimore, Maryland.
1898 Manila, the capital of the Philippines, falls to the U.S. Army.
1910 British nurse Florence Nightingale, famous for her care of British soldiers during the Crimean War, dies.
1932 Adolf Hitler refuses to serve as Franz Von Papen’s vice chancellor.
1948 During the Berlin Airlift, the weather over Berlin becomes so stormy that American planes have their most difficult day landing supplies. They deem it ‘Black Friday.’
1961 Construction begins on Berlin Wall during the night.
1963 A 17 year-old Buddhist monk burns himself to death in Saigon, South Vietnam.
1978 Bomb attack in Beirut during Second Lebanese Civil War kills more than 150 people.
1989 The wreckage of a plane that carried U.S. congressman Mickey Leland and others on a humanitarian mission is found on a mountain side in Ethiopia; there are no survivors.
1993 US Court of Appeals rules Congress must save all emails.

Animal Pictures

Bronze bench sculpture to get sign warning that it gets hot in the sunshine

A caution sign is to be put on a bronze bench sculpture in Somerset, warning people it gets hot in the sunshine. Man on a Bench by Giles Penny was unveiled in Bruton in June and now attracts a number of visitors who sit on it to have their photograph taken. Town mayor Steve Hall, said he was certain it "won't heat up to griddle levels" this summer but it could be a "shock" to those wearing shorts.
The sign warning that the "surface will be hot" in the sunshine, is to erected. The sculpture by the renowned artist was installed two months ago. Since then, according to Mr Hall, it has become a "star attraction". "It's not a bench, it's a piece of art but because you can sit on the bench next to the sculpture a lot of people are going up and having their photograph taken," he said.
"You can sit on it comfortably, 99% of the time but I decided if we did get a real 1976 summer again it would probably be very, very uncomfortable and may even result in burns." As a precaution the sculptor had been asked to make a sign, warning people to "test it" before sitting on it.

Companies Increasingly Turning To Illegal Tactics To Silence Criticism

Image CC by Nathaniel DownesMany companies have been slipping clauses into contracts designed to prevent any criticism of them. Be wary.

Citigroup Banks On Libertarian Gullibility, Will Introduce Own Cryptocurrency

Bitcoins photo cc 2013 Antana via Flickr.
A fool and his money are soon parted appears to be the guiding principle behind Citibank’s new plan to create a competitor to Bitcoin.

‘Trigger-happy’ brother of Kansas' idiot Sam Brownback terrorizing neighbor family

Kansas' Republican idiot Sam Brownback’s brother is reportedly living a completely lawless existence in one wingnut county in the state, terrorizing his neighbors and openly flouting the law.

‘Neanderthal’ college demands rape victim provide her entire sexual history to prove she wasn’t a virgin

Woman crying on bench - Shuttertsock
A private college in Virginia being sued by a woman who claims she was raped on campus is demanding she provide them with her entire sexual history — including partner’s names — in a motion filed in Norfolk Circuit Court.

Would-be shoplifter forced to flee on foot after his car was repossessed while he was inside store

A man was from Zion, Illinois, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with retail theft after his would-be getaway car was repossessed while he was allegedly trying to steal electronics in a Wal-Mart store, according to Round Lake Beach police.
Che Hearn, 25, faces one count of misdemeanor retail theft involving merchandise valued at less than $300, according to Lake County Circuit Court records. According to Michael Scott, deputy chief of Round Lake Beach police, officers responded at about 3pm to a report of a retail theft at the Wal-Mart.
Upon arrival, Scott said, officers were informed that a man was observed loading electronics into a shopping basket and leaving the store. After employees confronted the suspect, he dropped the items and fled on foot, police said. Hearn was later located walking by the side of the road, according to police. When asked why he was walking, he responded that his car had been repossessed while he was at the Wal-Mart, police said.
Investigators determined that the repossession company had followed Hearn to Wal-Mart, police said. The car was towed away when he entered the store, giving Hearn the only option of fleeing the scene on foot, police said. Scott said Hearn, who was called an "Unlucky thief" in a police press release, was released from custody on a recognizance bond after being charged with retail theft. He is scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 1.

Smash and grab burglar snatched six ukuleles from store

At 11:30pm last Friday surveillance cameras picked up a shadow. Seconds later the man lurking outside Joy's Gift Shop in Hilo, Hawaii, smashed his way inside the store. "We were fast asleep in bed and we get a call from the alarm company followed up by a call from the police," said co-owner Bill Heideman.

Who are the biggest killers in America?

The richest Americans not only steal more wealth through white-collar crime, but their crimes also lead to more deaths.

Teabagger Cop: Blacks ‘Have Earned’ Prejudice

Confederacy-Loving Tea Party Cop: Blacks ‘Have Earned’ Prejudice (SCREENSHOTS/VIDEO)A police officer who complained about ‘anti-white’ discrimination from the black community toward police officers’ Facebook page is filled with racism.

Arizona Man Beheads Wife, Cuts Off Own Arm, Plucks Out Own Eye, In bible-inspired Blood Bath

Featured image credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Kenneth Wakefield told police he cut his wife’s head off to “get rid of the evil.”

Babysitter and daughter accused of selling mother's possessions while she was out

Joanie Knight from Bogalusa, Louisiana, came home from work on Tuesday to find that nearly everything in her home of value was missing. Police say the woman’s babysitter Estelle Ard, 64, and the babysitter’s daughter, Cathy Knight, 27, are accused of selling the woman’s possessions on Bogalusa’s WBOX radio swap shop.
“They cleaned out my house,” Joanie Knight said. “Everything that we worked so hard for. They just sold it out.” Appliances, including their refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer and television, were sold. Police said the babysitter took Joanie Knight’s children to a nearby park while Cathy Knight called the radio station and sold the items.
“While the mama, who was the paid babysitter, and the kids were gone, (Cathy Knight) called the swap shop, which is a local radio station,” Bogalusa Police Chief Joe Culpepper said. “For the people to be in the house, it's an occupied residence, and just call the swap shop, and make out like it's your stuff, and you need to sell it. It's a new concept. I don't think I've ever seen it here before.” Culpepper said the woman sold the items right out of the house.

“They sold brand new appliances for like $40 and $50 and people didn't think this was odd. They advertised it on the radio,” Joanie Knight said. “I'm angry. I'm upset. I'm scared. I don't know if she has friends that are going to try and come after me, because I went to the police.” Cathy Knight has been arrested by police, and authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Ard. Authorities are trying to recover the items illegally sold from the home. Anyone with information about the alleged crime are asked to contact police.

Experts warn that eruption of Yellowstone supervolcano could kill 90,000 instantly

"Grand prismatic mineral deposit at Yellowstone National Park" via ynp on Flickr, Creative Commons license
Experts have been watching the volcano for changes since they discovered a second gigantic magma chamber beneath the volcano in April, saying it is large enough to fill up the Grand Canyon 11 times over.  

Glaciers Are Melting Faster Than Ever

The New Mass Extinction: Glaciers Are Melting Faster Than Ever
There is no room for glaciers in the Anthropocene.
Read more 

Bank customers escorted under umbrella to protect them from dive-bombing seagulls

Bank customers were escorted in and out of a branch in Ipswich, Suffolk, under an umbrella on Friday as dive-bombing seagulls protected their chick which had fallen from the nest. Unsuspecting customers parking up at Natwest Bank in Ransomes Europark had to duck for cover when approaching the main entrance as the parent seagulls swooped on anyone getting to close to their offspring.
The baby seagull had fallen from a nest on the bank’s roof overnight and remained on the ground near the main entrance for most of the day before shuffling off to a more remote location at the bank. Branch manager Lorna McQueen said two customers told staff they were “hit on the back of the head” by the protective seagulls early in the morning, saying they were more “stunned” than injured. When reporting the incident to the RSPCA, Mrs McQueen said she was told that hiding under an umbrella would be one of the best deterrents and safety measures.
She therefore took it upon herself to offer customers the option of being escorted in and out of the branch under her large black umbrella she had retrieved from her car. She said: “The RSPCA told me not to move the chick as once it has your scent on it, the parents could stop looking after it. The seagulls have nested on the roof before but something like this has never happened before. The RSPCA said they might not come out as it is not a priority, but I hope they do.” A spokesman for the bank later confirmed the baby seagull was still alive and had begun to “move around a little”.

He added: “The young seagull has shuffled away from the door of the branch and the ATM, so the adult seagulls are no longer swooping on customers or staff.” An RSPCA spokesman said: “We assess each call we receive on a case by case basis as many of these gulls, and other young animals, do not need rescuing as they should be looked after by their natural parents. Many fledglings discovered by members of the public are mistakenly thought to be injured or abandoned, and subsequently moved from their natural habitat. But their chances of survival are much better in the wild than in captivity. If the bird is injured, however, it may be a different story so it is important that is made clear on a call. Swooping is often just a protective mum’s way of keeping their babies safe. The best thing to do is keep a distance and monitor.”

Florida Bear Hunting Permits May Outnumber Actual Bears In The State

Florida Bear Hunting Permits May Outnumber Actual Bears In The State There may be a bit of a supply and demand issue for the hordes of ammosexuals eager to spend a week shooting bears in the state of Florida — specifically,...

Nursing home patient found live snake in his underpants

Workers at the Titusville Rehab and Nursing Center in Florida have said that a resident at the home woke up, went to the bathroom and found a live snake in his underpants. "(It was) in his underwear," said certified nursing assistant Veronica Mitchner. "I was like, a snake? A real snake. And I wanted to see the snake and when I seen the snake in a cup, I was like, 'Dang, that's a real snake.'"
Mitchner said supervisors at the 157-bed facility told nurses not to report what happened. "She told them not to do an incident report," Mitchner said. But Mitchner said the supervisors' response is what prompted employees to act, and an anonymous call was made to police. "A live snake, a little baby live snake," the caller said. "Okay," said the dispatcher. The caller told dispatchers that supervisors were trying to cover up the incident.
"They don't want it to be known. They don't want the Health Department to be called. They don't want anything to be done." The police report shows the director of nursing said she would call pest control, saying the snake may have got to the resident from a blanket due to the laundry facility being outside. Mitchner said the snakes aren't new. "I've been here for two years, and I've seen them for two years," she said.

YouTube link.Original video.
She said she wants to see more being done to control the pest problem. Other employees said management tried to further cover up what happened by telling them not to talk with the media. The resident was not bitten or injured by the snake, authorities said. He even told police he'd like to keep the reptile as a pet. A statement from the facility identified the snake as a 3-inch nonpoisonous ring neck snake. It also said the pest control company that inspected the grounds found no evidence of snakes.

Mysterious fungus killing snakes in at least 9 states

by Wilson Ring
In this July 31, 2015 photo, two rattlesnakes hide in a crack in a rock at an undisclosed location in western Rutland County, Vt. Biologists say a mysterious fungus is threatening to wipe out some isolated populations of rare rattlesnakes in Vermont and elsewhere.  Vermont Fish and Wildlife Biologist Doug Blodgett said Vermont's small population of rattlesnakes is being threatened by the fungus that was first identified by scientists a few years earlier. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Hidden on hillsides in a remote part of western Vermont, a small number of venomous timber rattlesnakes slither among the rocks, but their isolation can't protect them from a mysterious fungus spreading across the eastern half of the country that threatens to wipe them out.
In less than a decade, the fungus has been identified in at least nine Eastern states, and although it affects a number of species, it's especially threatening to rattlesnakes that live in small, isolated populations with little genetic diversity, such as those found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York.
In Illinois the malady threatens the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, which was a candidate for the federal endangered species list even before the fungus appeared.
Biologists have compared its appearance to the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats, which since 2006 has killed millions of the creatures and continues to spread across North America.
It's unclear, though, if snake fungal disease, "ophidiomyces ophiodiicola" was brought to the United States from elsewhere, as was white nose fungus, or if it has always been present in the environment and for some unknown reason is now infecting snakes, biologists say.
"I think potentially this could overwhelm any conservation effort we could employ to try to protect this last remaining population," said Doug Blodgett, a biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife who has been studying the state's rattlesnake population for 15 years. "We don't have any control over it. It's just completely out there in the wild."
In this July 31, 2015 photo, two rattlesnakes hide … Rattlesnakes were once found across much of the country, but habitat loss and efforts by fearful humans to wipe them out reduced their numbers, especially at the northern edges of their range.
In New Hampshire, the disease helped halve the population of rattlesnakes — now estimated at several dozen — after it was first spotted in 2006, although it was only afterward that scientists linked the fungus to the decline, officials said.
Vermont's population of timber rattlesnakes is down to two locations near Lake Champlain in the western part of the state with an estimated total population of several hundred.
An Associated Press reporter was allowed to accompany wildlife officials to a rattlesnake habitat on condition the exact location not be revealed out of concern that too much attention could further threaten them. Blodgett led an hours-long search for some of the elusive creatures until he found a pair hiding in a rocky crevice, though it wasn't clear if they were infected. Later, a healthy single snake was found on the forest floor.
The disease can cause crusty scabs and lesions, sometimes on the head.
In this July 31, 2015 photo, Vermont Fish and Wildlife …
Jeffrey Lorch, a microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, said he's been getting reports of snake fungal disease from all over the eastern United States. Not every location is reporting that the disease is threatening snake populations.
"It does seem to be a disease that has different effects in different areas," Lorch said.
The fungus poses a greater risk to snakes that reproduce slowly, such as rattlesnakes, which can live up to 30 years, experts say.
In Illinois every year the disease infects about 15 percent of the population of about 300 of massasauga rattlesnakes, most of which are in Clinton County, with a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent, said Matt Allender, a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist at the University of Illinois who started noticing the fungus in 2011. The mortality rate in infected timber rattlesnakes is estimated between 30 and 70 percent, he said.
The fungus' impact on the massasauga is expected to play a part in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's determination on whether to list the snake as endangered, officials said.
"I think that in populations that have been shrunk due to other mechanisms, such as habitat loss, other environmental changes, those types of things, are more at risk of going extinct from snake fungal disease mainly because it's a smaller population," Allender said. "They have less of a buffer to withstand these diseases."
In this July 31, 2015 photo, Vermont Fish and Wildlife …Part of the challenge in studying the disease is that snakes, especially venomous varieties, don't get much sympathy from the public, which makes funding studies harder. Snakes are also harder to find than, say, white-nose-infected bats where scientists can go into a cave and see tens of thousands of carcasses, Lorch said.
The fungus has been found in all five rattlesnake populations in Massachusetts, but it doesn't appear to have had the high mortality rate reported elsewhere, said Anne Stengle, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Massachusetts who is overseeing a federal grant in nine states to study the fungus.
Since the initial hit, the decline in the Granite State's timber rattlesnakes appears to have stabilized and some are reproducing, said New Hampshire Fish and Game Biologist Mike Marchand.
"I'm at least optimistic that there are animals that are successfully surviving from year to year as well as reproducing," Marchand said. "We had a pretty strong dip in the population."