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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

28 BC The Temple of Apollo is dedicated on the Palatine Hill in Rome.
1470 Henry VI of England is restored to the throne.
A Russian army commanded by Peter the Great defeats the Swedes at the Battle of Lesnaya. It will go down as one of the major battles of the Great Northern War.
1760 Austrian and Russian troops enter Berlin and begin burning structures and looting.
1779 The Luddite riots begin in Manchester, England in reaction to machinery for spinning cotton being installed.
1781 Americans begin shelling the British surrounded at Yorktown.
1863 Confederate cavalry raiders return to Chattanooga after attacking Union General William Rosecrans‘ supply and communication lines all around east Tennessee.
1888 The Washington Monument, designed by Robert Mills, opens to the public.
1914 The Germans take Antwerp, Belgium, after 12-day siege.
1934 In Marseilles, a Macedonian revolutionary associated with Croat terrorists in Hungary assassinates King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou. The two had been on a tour of European capitals in quest of an alliance against Nazi Germany. The assassinations bring the threat of war between Yugoslavia and Hungary, but confrontation is prevented by the League of Nations.
1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt requests congressional approval for arming U.S. merchant ships.
1950 U.N. forces, led by the First Cavalry Division, cross the 38th parallel in South Korea and begin attacking northward towards the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
1983 The president of South Korea, Doo Hwan Chun, with his cabinet and other top officials are scheduled to lay a wreath on a monument in Rangoon, Burma, when a bomb explodes. Hwan had not yet arrived and so escaped injury, but 17 Koreans–including the deputy prime minister and two other cabinet members–and two Burmese are killed. North Korea is blamed.
1999 Last flight of the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” stealth reconnaissance aircraft takes place.
2006 North Korea reportedly tests its first nuclear device.

September sets alarming global temperature record

September 2017 smashed multiple climate records, alarming scientists and further negating a favorite shrieking point of climate science deniers.

Anti-Anxiety Foods and Their Key Components to Help Calm Your Nerves

The World's Shortest Commercial Flight

The shortest regularly-scheduled commercial flight in the world is operated by Scottish airline Loganair. It runs between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands. The entire flight takes 80 seconds to cross less than two miles. This video is three times as long as the flight. Passengers don't even have time to get scared. But then again, the plane doesn't climb all that high and it doesn't go very fast, either, for an airline.
The flight is a lifeline for the fewer than 100 people who live on Papa Westray, because there is no bridge between the islands, and the ferry is quite time-consuming. It's almost like a city bus service. There's no mention of the airfare, so I went to Loganair's website and did not find this flight listed for advance reservations. I guess you have to be there, like getting on a bus.

Fans hurl insults at Louisiana high school coaches after player kneels for anthem

An angry fan berated Louisiana high school football coaches after one of their players knelt during the National Anthem.
A player on the North Central High School team engaged in a silent protest Sept. 29 before a game at Rosepine High School, and one of the fans approached coaches, reported the Daily World.
The fan walked behind the North Central team area and chastised the Hurricane coaching staff for allowing the demonstration.
“We have had plenty of time to review that with legal counsel and so we have talked with our coaches and athletes about what the federal courts have decided, that students have the that right during the pledge or the national anthem,” said St. Landry Parish Superintendent Patrick Jenkins.
“I don’t think we are going to have any problems with regards to players kneeling,” added Jenkins, an Iraq War veteran. “We communicated with everyone on that and we’ve communicated with the players. Everyone is going to stand and respect the flag in St. Landry Parish. We’ve just informed people of their rights. They have that right (to kneel or sit) if they want to. We don’t want to have any issues with the ACLU or any other legal entity for that matter or infringe upon anyone’s personal beliefs.”
Opposing fans harassed North Central players as they left the field and boarded a bus home, and some fans may have tossed objects at them.
North Central lost 58-21.

New bodycam footage shows Latino man had hands up when NC police fatally shot him

New bodycam footage shows Latino man had hands up when NC police fatally shot him

Michigan judge grants joint custody to child rapist

A Michigan judge granted joint custody of an 8-year-old boy to a convicted sex offender who  raped the child’s mother nearly a decade ago.

Iowa wingnut who plead guilty to incest arrested a second time for stalking his daughter

Rick Halvorsen, the former chairman of Iowa’s Warren County wingnuts, plead guilty to incest after having sex with his own adult daughter — and was arrested after entering the plea for stalking her.
Typical wingnut "family values" at their best.

Nazi Marches

White nationalist figurehead Nazi Richard Spencer led a crowd of three dozen supporters to the state of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday night.

Forced to return home, thousands of Burundi refugees face sexual violence, death, and torture

Thousands of Burundi refugees under pressure to return home face death, sexual violence, and torture after they arrive, according to a recent Amnesty International report, contrasting attempts by the government to appear like the country is safe enough for Burundians to return home.
In the report “Conform or flee: Repression and insecurity pushing Burundians into exile,” researchers spoke with 129 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers, who had fled because of “a pattern of killings and beatings, sexual violence, excessive use of force during arrest, torture and other ill-treatment in detention, and the payment of ransoms to be released from detention.” Nearly all of the Burundian refugees and asylum seekers spoke about the insecurity caused by the Imbonerakure, the youth league of the Burundi ruling party whose name means “those who see far” which has brutally killed and tortured people in the past.

SNL taunts ‘snowflake’ gun owners

SNL taunts ‘snowflake’ gun owners: ‘If you own 47 cats you’re not called a responsible pet owner’

NRA and the far-right are quietly mobilizing to kill gun safety reform after Vegas

Last Sunday night, a gunman in Las Vegas killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others. When law enforcement searched the hotel room 64-year-old Stephen Paddock had been shooting from, they found 18 guns, several of which were semi-automatic weapons Paddock had modified with bump stocks.

An Underwater Ghost Town

The area around Lake Minnewanka in Alberta has been settled continuously for at least 13,000 years. One of those settlements was Minnewanka Landing, which thrived in the summer with tourists and campers. There were hotels, restaurants, tour guides, and boating. But it's all gone now. Well, the people are all gone. The town itself survives at the bottom of Lake Minnewanka. Dams were built there three times: in 1895, 1912, and 1941. It was the 1941 dam that finally flooded Minnewanka Landing.
Today the reservoir hides a secret that many people will never get the chance to experience—unless they're scuba divers, that is. Thanks to Lake Minnewanka’s glacier-fed, ice-cold waters, many structures of the former resort town still remain intact, including house and hotel foundations, wharves, an oven, a chimney, a cellar, bridge pilings and sidewalks. (A full list of sites is available here.) Even the footings from the town’s original dam, built by the federal government in 1895, along with the footings from the dam built in 1912, remain visible.
Even if you're not a scuba diver, you can take a tour of Minnewanka Landing in a video at Smithsonian.

The Scandalous Witch Hunt That Poisoned 17th-Century France

King Louis XIV was upset that so many members of the French nobility were dying off in a hurry. It started in the late 1660s. Autopsies showed the victims' insides were blackened, as it they were rotting. Were they poisoned? Was it witchcraft? At the time, there was only a short leap from alchemy to witchcraft to crime. The king established a special tribunal to investigate a prosecute the murders.
The “Affair of the Poisons,” as it came to be known, is a misleading name for one of the largest witch trials in modern history. Over just five years, from 1677 to 1682, 319 subpoenas were issued, 194 individuals arrested, and 36 executed (with perhaps dozens more dead from suicide, or in prison or exile). In total, it claimed between two and three times as many lives as the Salem witch trials across the Atlantic, 10 years later. It began with what appeared to be an isolated case, but then door after door after door opened, eventually implicating rich and poor alike.
As the events unfolded, suspects were tortured before being killed, and their confessions implicated others, and scandals among the nobility were uncovered. There was definitely some rotten things going on underneath all that wealth and power. You can read an account of the Affair of the Poisons at Atlas Obscura.

The Haunted Bones of the Fighting Fairy Woman

In 19th-century Britain, human skeletons were often taken from criminals, who were either executed or died in prison. If you purchased a skeleton, it could have been the leftovers of a medical school dissection, and might originally have belonged to a petty thief, a murderer, or someone who was mentally deranged.
In the mid-19th century William Hicks, the mayor of Bodmin, in Cornwall, hosted a dinner party.  As the story goes, rather than entertaining his guests with music or poetry, he chose to prank his guests with a fake seance.  He brought in the skeletal remains of a purported witch and encouraged his guests to ask it yes or no questions.   In response, the spirit of the witch would supposedly rap its responses with the extra bones placed in front of the witch’s remains.  What he didn’t tell them was that the person doing knocking was a friend who was hidden nearby.
Everything that night was going to plan until the host and party goers encountered actual paranormal activity.  According to Cecil Williamson, the founder of The Museum of Witchcraft, the bones used for the rapping were “seized by the poltergeist force on that fateful night of the spoof seance organized by William Hicks and with which the assembled party guests were beaten about the head and shoulders.”
The bones were traced back to Joan Wytte, who was called the "Fighting Fairy Woman" because she was short and had a bad temper. Did that bad temper carry on after death? Read about Joan Wytte and the eventual disposition of her remains at Strange Remains

How People Walked In Medieval Times

People don't give much thought to the way they walk these days, and unless you're a runway model or you're trying to master a silly walk most people just walk the way they walk and talk the way they talk. But back in the Middle Ages people had a ball heavy way of walking that looks a bit odd by today's standards, like a catburglar creeping silently across the floor or a ballerina about to kick up into a pirouette.If those descriptions don't paint enough of a picture for you then watch historical reenactor Roland Warzecha from Hamburg, Germany demonstrate how to "Walk Medieval!":
The way that you walk is a very natural one. You put the ball of the foot onto the ground first. …the reason for this is pretty simple because… you sense your way, you feel your way. So like when I walk through grass I do it the same when I’m barefoot, if there’s a wasp or a slug or whatever, you sense it before your whole body weight is on falling onto it, as opposed to walking heel first.

New Neanderthal Genome Yields Data on Human Interbreeding

There has been learning a lot about Neanderthals in the past few years, particularly about how they left genetic evidence that they interbred with modern humans. You may be surprised to learn that most of that knowledge came from sequencing the genes of four Neanderthals, only one of whom had DNA good enough to identify variations in the genome. But now there is another- a Neanderthal woman found in Croatia who died 52,000 years ago has yielded a full genome to study. Scientists named her Vindija 33.19. And that process highlights the difficulty in hanging assumptions about Neanderthals from such a small sample size. 
Based on previous archaeological and genetic evidence, archaeologists and anthropologists suspected that Neanderthals were thinly dispersed across Europe and Asia. The lack of genetic diversity (low heterozygosity) in the Vindija 33.19 specimen affirms these earlier findings, showing that Neanderthals “lived in small and isolated populations” and “with an effective population size of around 3,000 individuals,” the researchers write in their study.
The earlier genomic analysis of the female Altai Neanderthal showed that her parents were half-siblings, which got scientists thinking that Neanderthals made it a habit of breeding with immediate family members. But the Vindija 33.19 genome is different; her parents were not as closely related, so we can no longer say that extreme inbreeding is a common fixture of the Neanderthals. That said, the Croatian Neanderthal shared a maternal ancestor with three other individuals found in the Vindija Cave (whose genomes aren’t nearly as complete).
No, we shouldn't assume anything is common about a culture from a sample size of one. However, the new genome shows that modern humans carry a few more Neanderthal genes than we previously thought, and that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals crossbred as far back as 100,000 years ago. Read more about Vindija 33.19 and the new findings at Gizmodo.

Science May Be Able to Bring Back the Wooly Mammoth

Animal Pictures