Some interesting links for you tonight, all along the theme of bullshit, a piece of shit and more bullshit.
First let us get to the real turd of the evening, this is an ancient…prehistoric nugget. We are talking about a dump taken before time…before the era of the dinosaurs…imagine, Tapeworm Eggs Found in 270-Million-Year-Old Shark Poop.
270 million years ago, a shark pooped near the coast of Brazil. That poop was fossilized and preserved into a coprolite, which is the scientific term for fossilized poop. Scientists found that shark poop, and have been carefully studying it. We don’t know exactly what they were looking for, but we do know what they found — and it’s gross.
By carefully dissecting the shark poop into thin cross-sections, paleontologist Paula Dentzien-Dias of the Federal University of the Rio Grande found a group of 93 tapeworm eggs. The eggs are so small, about one-and-a-half times as wide as a human hair, and only found in one section of the coprolite sample.
“Luckily in one of them, we found the eggs,” said Dentzien-Dias. Lucky indeed! Where would we be without this story of fossilized tapeworm eggs inside fossilized shark poop?
The coprolite dates back to the Paleozoic era, before even the dinosaurs. That puts these tapeworm eggs at about 140 million years earlier than any intestinal parasites found in vertebrates, meaning they’ve been a problem for much longer than previously thought.
The scientist can’t tell what species of shark the coprolite is from, but what I find so intriguing is that tapeworms, like roaches, seem to have been around since the beginning of time. Of course, don’t tell anyone from the religious right this news, cause the world is not that old!
Another fish story for you, Video Documents Thought In Fish Brain For The First Time
Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Genetics believe they’ve captured a world first video — images of a thought making it’s way through the brain of a zebrafish. It’s not a particularly complicated thought — essentially ‘Hey, that looks like it could be food.’ — but the fact that the team has imaged the very stuff of even simple thought for the first time is really kind of amazing — not unlike magic.
Researchers were able to image visual perception in the fish using a new tool designed just for the purpose — a super-sensitive fluorescent probe that detects neuron activity, causing neurons to light up when they’re activated. In this case, the images are of the activity in neurons as a zebrafish watches a paramecium flit around it, registering the movement of its prey. After this strong first showing, they’re hopeful that examples of the probe could be used to learn more about the ill-understood circuitry of the brain, and how connections between brain cells work together to produce thought or register and act on perception.
Video at the link.
This next article is thought provoking, Yoon Young-kwan: Asia Feels Like Pre-War Europe
Whether east Asia’s politicians and pundits like it or not, the region’s current international relations are more akin to 19th-century European balance-of-power politics than to the stable Europe of today.
Witness east Asia’s rising nationalism, territorial disputes and lack of effective institutional mechanisms for security co-operation. While economic interdependence among China, Japan, South Korea and the members of the Association of South-east Asian Nations continues to deepen, their diplomatic relations are as burdened by rivalry and mistrust as relations among European countries were in the decades prior to the First World War.
You can read more about this at The Scotsman.
Ah…now for the bullshit, a few links that make you scratch your head and wonder.
A new theory about Gandhi making headlines in The Telegraph, The truth about Mahatma Gandhi: he was a wily bigot, not India’s smiling saint.
The Indian nationalist leader had an eccentric attitude to sleeping habits, food and sexuality. However, his more controversial ideas have been written out of history
This week, the National Archives here in New Delhi released a set of letters between Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and a close friend from his South African days, Hermann Kallenbach, a German Jewish architect. Cue a set of ludicrous “Gay Gandhi” headlines across the world, wondering whether the fact the Mahatma signed some letters “Sinly yours” might be a clue (seemingly unaware that “sinly” was once a common contraction of “sincerely”).
The origin of this rumour was a mischievous book review two years ago written by the historian Andrew Roberts, which speculated about the relationship between the men. On the basis of the written evidence, it seems unlikely that their friendship in the years leading up to the First World War was physical.
It is a juicy article, go read the rest of it.
Maybe Seinfeld was on to something? Gandhi his bald head in oil…
Then you have the bullshit, Conservative Former SNL Star Victoria Jackson Deletes ‘White History Month’ Article
Former Saturday Night Live star and current conservative celebrity Victoria Jackson has made a second career as a mascot for deranged opposition to President Barack Obama that includes calls for secession, statistical analyses of the white baby population, and comparing America to The Big Bopper on Election Night, but it looks like restraint has finally gotten the better of her. Wonkette’s Rebecca Schoenkopfcalled Jackson out earlier today for posting an article suggesting that the persecuted, underrepresented White Christian Male needs some scale-balancing, asking “Why is there a Black History Month but not a White History Month?”
Jackson also featured a video that lists “Things To Thank White People For,” which curiously did not include Baywatch (but does include “recorded music” without noting that black people invented all of the good recorded music) and listed some white accomplishments, on her own, for the ungrateful non-whites who control everything:
Just for the record, white men invented rockets, space travel, airplanes, the automobile, the English language, the U.S.A., most medical advances, electricity, television, telescope, microscope, Ivy League Universities, the computer, the Internet, and on and on. I think white men should be praised and respected. White Christian Conservative Men especially, should be loved and adored. They were the backbone and originators of the greatest nation on earth. We need more of them now.
I’m pretty sure that rockets were invented by Chinese people, and Ivy League Universities aren’t really inventions, and the first man to give his life for this country was black, and since black people did help out with that whole syphilis thing, maybe medical advances aren’t a fair example, but point taken. White people rule. That is the point, isn’t it?
You can read Jackson’s bullshit here: Google cache of Victoria Jackson’s White History Month
There is new information coming to light on the 10th Anniversary of the Columbia Explosion. Columbia Shuttle Crew Not Told of Possible Problem With Reentry
What would you tell seven astronauts if you knew their space shuttle was crippled on orbit?
It was a question that faced NASA’s Mission Control considered after initial suspicions that something might be wrong with the shuttle Columbia as it was making its doomed reentry in 2003.
Wayne Hale, who later became space shuttle program manager, struggled with this question after the deaths of the Columbia crew 10 years ago. Recently he wrote about the debate in his blog, recalling a meeting to discuss the dilemma:
“After one of the MMTs (Mission Management Team) when possible damage to the orbiter was discussed, he (Flight Director Jon Harpold) gave me his opinion: ‘You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS (Thermal Protection System). If it has been damaged it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?”
A bleak assessment. Orbiting in space until your oxygen ran out. The dilemma for mission managers is that they simply didn’t know if the space shuttle was damaged.
The doomed astronauts were not told of the risk.
To me, that sounds like bullshit, these are scientist and pilots…they can handle the news professionally and should have known.
Makes me think of that line in Apollo 13, when the capsule is still shallow during re-entry:
Okay, lets end this post with some pictures, Hillary Clinton: 2 Decades in the Spotlight (Photos)
Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, will be Hillary Clinton’s last day as Secretary of State, ending a career in the public eye that has spanned more than two decades. While the question on everyone’s mind is “will she come back?” let’s take a look at what she has done.
Just go to that gallery link and enjoy!
This is an open thread.
I was hiking yesterday (23rd) and looked out to sea. This is what I saw.
An orange-brown band of dust? smog? all of the above? stretching over the whole horizon. There’s a larger composite picture here that shows more of the extent. (In the foreground, you can make out the Navy Seabees target practice range. That’s Anacapa Island shrouded in the distance.)
I’ve lived here for years and never seen anything like it. Ordinary Los Angeles pollution looks like this:
It’s more purple-colored, much fainter, and bigger toward LA, petering out toward the ocean. (The picture is from an old post where I was puzzling about wind direction.)
View of Beijing smog. From aworldchaos.wordpress.com.
NASA regularly tracks Chinese pollution across the Pacific, but it wasn’t usually still as thick as soup by the time it got here.
Well, it is now. I’m fairly sure that’s what I was seeing. Dirt pushed across the whole Pacific ahead of a huge storm system that also brought us rain later on. One to two weeks is how long it takes to get here from China.
This is not good.
Crossposted from Acid Test
Superstorm indeed. I just saw on the weather channel that we’re having high wind warnings and may even get snow here in central Indiana today. Exhaustion finally set in for me last night from drive 1,000 miles, so I’m writing this at 5:30 AM.
I had MSNBC, CNN, and the weather channel on a few times during the night, but most of the news was still about New York City only. You’d think something would have happened in other parts of New York state that was worth covering. Of course I don’t want to minimize how bad things are in NYC, It’s just that with a storm so huge, you’d think there might be some TV coverage of other places.
This morning they were actually talking about the snowstorm in West Virginia a little bit, but I have no idea if the storm did anything in New England. So let’s see what’s happening out there–largely in link dump fashion.
Superstorm Sandy hurled a wall of water of up to 13 feet high at the Northeast coast, sweeping houses out into the ocean, flooding subway tunnels in New York City and sparking an alert at a nuclear power station in New Jersey.
At least 10 people were killed, more than 7 million were without power as the historic storm pounded some 11 states and the District of Columbia. More than a million people across a dozen states had been ordered to evacuate.
Power outages are expected to be widespread and could last for days. NBC meteorologist Bill Karins warned to “expect the cleanup and power outage restoration to continue right up through Election Day.”
The New York Times has massive coverage and lots of photos: Storm Barrels Ashore, Leaving Path of Destruction
The mammoth and merciless storm made landfall near Atlantic City around 8 p.m., with maximum sustained winds of about 80 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said. That was shortly after the center had reclassified the storm as a post-tropical cyclone, a scientific renaming that had no bearing on the powerful winds, driving rains and life-threatening storm surge expected to accompany its push onto land.
The storm had unexpectedly picked up speed as it roared over the Atlantic Ocean on a slate-gray day and went on to paralyze life for millions of people in more than a half-dozen states, with extensive evacuations that turned shorefront neighborhoods into ghost towns. Even the superintendent of the Statue of Liberty left to ride out the storm at his mother’s house in New Jersey; he said the statue itself was “high and dry,” but his house in the shadow of the torch was not.
The wind-driven rain lashed sea walls and protective barriers in places like Atlantic City, where the Boardwalk was damaged as water forced its way inland. Foam was spitting, and the sand gave in to the waves along the beach at Sandy Hook, N.J., at the entrance to New York Harbor. Water was thigh-high on the streets in Sea Bright, N.J., a three-mile sand-sliver of a town where the ocean joined the Shrewsbury River.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” said David Arnold, watching the storm from his longtime home in Long Branch, N.J. “The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad.”
But, you know, global climate change–that’s not happening. It must be gay marriage that’s causing this.
There was a huge explosion at a Con-Ed power plant in lower Manhattan during the night. Here’s the viral video.
I’m relieved to see that Sandy’s wrath wasn’t quite as bad in New England.
Sandy brought snow to West Virginia.
And in Virginia…
In other news…
Think Progress: PA radio station runs misleading voter ID ad
Everyone’s talking about how Mitt Romney recommended getting rid of FEMA and making state handle their own disaster responses, but of course now he’s flip flopped once again, according to Politico: Romney would give more power to states, would not abolish FEMA
Here’s something incredible from Bloomberg: Romney Avoids Taxes via Loophole Cutting Mormon Donations
In 1997, Congress cracked down on a popular tax shelter that allowed rich people to take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money.
Individuals who had already set up these vehicles were allowed to keep them. That included Mitt Romney, then the chief executive officer of Bain Capital, who had just established such an arrangement in June 1996.
The charitable remainder unitrust, as it is known, is one of several strategies Romney has adopted over his career to reduce his tax bill. While Romney’s tax avoidance is legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become an issue in the campaign. President Barack Obama attacked him in their second debate for paying “lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less.”
In this instance, Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity — the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing — to defer taxes for more than 15 years. At the same time he is benefitting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires, according to tax returns obtained by Bloomberg this month through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Wow! This guy is the champion of sleezeballs! Too bad no no one is paying attention now that Sandy has taken over the next few news cycles.
Former President Clinton and Vice President Biden blasted Republican nominee Mitt Romney over a campaign ad that says Chrysler is moving Jeep production to China because of President Obama’s policies.
The Hill kinda-sorta tries to make it sound like the ad is OK and the Obama campaign is just whining!
The Obama campaign has complained about the Romney campaign’s Jeep ad, which links the president to a report saying Chrysler plans to move its Jeep production from the U.S. to China.
Chrysler released a statement on Monday saying it had no plans to stop producing Jeeps in the U.S.
The statement said, “U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation.”
Yeah, because there’s two sides to every story even when one is a bald-faced, blatant, dirty lie.
Now it’s your turn. What’s going on where you are? I sure hope all you Sky Dancers are staying safe and warm.
I”m finally getting over this sinus infection so I’ve had a chance to actually read a few interesting things. First up, is yet another one of those folks that insists that baby boomers are parasites. I really hate generational warfare, don’t you? However, this one is interesting. It’s put in terms of a conversation between baby boomer son and ‘greatest generation’ father and the arguments are backed up by interesting anecdotes and statistics. Still, why do have to keep score on who’s screwed up the country more in terms of age groups?
The boomers haven’t been a total disaster, of course. They did indeed blaze huge social and economic trails for women, minorities, and people with disabilities. Those groups have gained rights that, as long as the rest of us remain vigilant, will never be reversed: Young women can grow up to be lawyers or scientists. African-Americans can grow up to be president. Boomers gave us Apple and Microsoft. They made the Star Wars movies. They grew the economy for a bit. Once, for a couple of years in the late 1990s, they balanced the federal budget.
But the numbers on the laptop remind me how fleeting much of that progress was—and how boomers chose short-term gratification when they had opportunities to secure a better future for generations to follow. Classic example: Instead of devoting the budget surpluses of the late ’90s to social programs that desperately needed them, they voted themselves tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and an expanded Medicare benefit shortly after—a move a Congressional Budget Office study from that era suggests raised the expected tax rate on future generations from 29 percent to 53 percent. They borrowed heavily to cope with the economic sluggishness of the 2000s and, in so doing, inflated a housing bubble that, when it popped, triggered the Great Recession.
Median-income growth has stagnated for women and minorities over the past decade. The typical African-American today has less wealth than his or her parents did, according to Pew. Labor-force participation for women this year hit its lowest level since 1991.
So, the Brits pile on boomers too. Here’s something from The Economist on “Sponging Boomers” and how that relates to the next crisis.
These boomers have lived a charmed life, easily topping previous generations in income earned at every age. The sheer heft of the generation created a demographic dividend: a rise in labour supply, reinforced by a surge in the number of working women. Social change favoured it too. Households became smaller, populated with more earners and fewer children. And boomers enjoyed the distinction of being among the best-educated of American generations at a time when the return on education was soaring.
Yet these gains were one-offs. Retirements will reverse the earlier labour-force surge, and younger generations cannot benefit from more women working. There is room to raise educational levels, but it is harder and less lucrative to improve the lot of disadvantaged students than to establish a university degree as the norm for good ones, as was the case after the war. In short, boomer income growth relied on a number of one-off gains.
Young workers also cannot expect decades of rising asset prices like those that enriched the boomers. Zheng Liu and Mark Spiegel, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, found in 2011 that movements in the price-earnings ratio of equities closely track changes in the ratio of middle-aged to old workers, meaning that the p/e ratio is likely to fall. Having lived through a spectacular bull market, boomers now sell off assets to finance retirement, putting pressure on equity prices and denying young workers an easy route to wealth. Boomers have weathered the economic crisis reasonably well. Thanks largely to the rapid recovery in stockmarkets, those aged between 53 and 58 saw a net decline in wealth of just 2.8% between 2006 and 2010.
More worrying is that this generation seems to be able to leverage its size into favourable policy. Governments slashed tax rates in the 1980s to revitalise lagging economies, just as boomers approached their prime earning years. The average federal tax rate for a median American household, including income and payroll taxes, dropped from more than 18% in 1981 to just over 11% in 2011. Yet sensible tax reforms left less revenue for the generous benefits boomers have continued to vote themselves, such as a prescription-drug benefit paired with inadequate premiums. Deficits exploded.
Yes. So, all of us should just head to the ice floes. La-ti-da.
So, here’s my weekly update on interesting historical graves. Archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of an ancient queen in Guatamala. A tiny jar has given them some key clues.
Glyphs carved into a tiny alabaster jar have led archaeologists to conclude that the tomb in Guatemala where the jar was found belonged to one of the greatest queens of the Classic Maya civilization, known as Lady K’abel.
“She was not only a queen, but a supreme warlord, and that made her the most powerful person in the kingdom during her lifetime,” David Freidel, an archaeologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a report released today. That description would put Lady K’abel in the same class as other ruling women of the ancient world, ranging from the biblical Queen of Sheba to Egypt’sHatshepsut and Cleopatra.
That’s some heady company for Lady K’abel.
Some of the most bizarre comments made by Mitt Romney was his dislike of shipping jobs to China or having China fund our lifestyle as compared to funding their own. It takes brass ones to suggest that he’s not been in favor of shipping jobs to China given this Bain Capital investment in a Chinese factory that is quite shocking. The word sweatshop is so inadequate. No wonder he thinks all of us are freeloaders if he thinks this situation constitutes a normal working conditions. Romney discussed the working conditions so he was well aware of where his money was going.
Economist Paul Davidson recently pointed out the truth on AlterNet : “Romney has spent his career offshoring and outsourcing American production processes — and associated jobs — to countries like China where human labor is valued in the market at a very low wage rate.” The sub-human conditions at these production facilities represent things that Americans are strongly opposed to: child abuse, squalor, forced overtime, and peanuts for pay.
Romney’s penchant for bragging about his business activities at fundraisers helps underscore just how vile his brand of capitalism really is. While CEO of Bain, Romney invested in a Chinese sweatshop which he appears to be describing in detail at the very same Boca Raton fundraising event where he made his infamous case that nearly half of all Americans are freeloaders.
A report recently released by the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights reveals that while Romney was deeply invested at a firm called Global-Tech, low pay and horrific conditions were status quo at its Chinese appliance factory.
Here are some really horrifying details from the same article.
From April 1998 through August 2000, Romney and his Brookside Capital Partners Fund, a Bain affiliate, poured around $23 million into the Global-Tech sweatshop in Dongguan, China. Among the details outlined in the report were the following:
- Factory workers made 24 cents an hour in 1998 and less than $2 a day. Wages in Global-Tech were less than 2 percent of U.S. wages.
- As CEO, Romney appears to have been uninterested in calling for improvements at the facility. Today, the sweatshop is still a horror where starvation wages prevail and workers’ rights are nonexistent. Overcrowded, filthy dormitories; rotten food; routine 15- to 16-hour shifts; and backbreaking 105- to 112-hour, seven-day workweeks are the norm.
- The appliance factory has 800 student “interns” — 16-years-olds forced to work repetitive, exhausting 15- to 16-hour shifts on assembly lines with no overtime pay.
… Dimon’s sanguinity is somewhat belied by the formidable lobbying machine that he’s built in Washington. JPMorgan’s shop is much bigger than that of other banks, and it is chock-full of politically connected former congressional staffers. The firm has become known for the regularity with which its top people show up in Washington.
Dimon has put himself front, center, and uncensored in the debate about tougher oversight. He’s lambasted regulators for failing to recognize that, while some companies were “too big to fail,” others were “ports in the storm,” and for making “hundreds of rules, many of which are uncoordinated and inconsistent with each other.”
Part of the explanation is purely pragmatic: Dimon is trying to preserve his firm’s profits—and maybe the firm itself. But it’s hard not to hear something more emotional when you listen to Dimon. “This country would be flying if we had gotten stuff right and all worked together, but we haven’t,” he says. He frequently says that banks and bankers are being “scapegoated” for their role in the crisis, and he is full of righteous indignation. He often invokes Abraham Lincoln: “I’m a Democrat, and I tell Democrats and Republicans, you guys are busy simplifying and scapegoating—well, Abe Lincoln wouldn’t do it.” He says he’s heard the story of a young officer telling Lincoln during the Civil War, “We’re going to win because God is on our side.” Lincoln responded, “Son, let’s hope that we’re on God’s side.”
I watched Amy Goodman on Democracy Now after the end of the Debates. She did a great segment on the difficulty of getting outsider candidates into the presidential debate. You may want to watch it if you get a chance.
President Obama made a good point in late 2011, when he told “60 Minutes,” “Don’t judge me against the Almighty; judge me against the alternative.” If only the public had a full range of alternatives against which to judge. In fact, most people do. They just don’t know it. The reason they don’t know it is because the media don’t report on third-party politics or campaigns. These campaigns also lack the funds to purchase television airtime, or to compete against the Democratic and Republican campaign fundraising juggernauts. This leads to less diversity of voices, and far fewer alternatives on the ballot.
It hasn’t always been this way. In 1980, the League of Women Voters ran the debates, and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson was allowed to participate (President Jimmy Carter opposed his participation and boycotted the event). In 1992, billionaire Ross Perot used his personal funds to overcome the media blockade of his presidential campaign. His successful debate performance temporarily propelled him ahead of both Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush in the polls.
Since then, no third-party candidate has been allowed into the presidential debates. The debates are run by the Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization described by George Farah, founder and executive director of Open Debates, as “a private corporation financed by Anheuser-Busch and other major companies, that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties to seize control of the presidential debates from the League of Women Voters.”
Farah told me that in 1988, “you have the Michael Dukakis and the George Bush campaigns drafting the first-ever 12-page secret debate contract. They gave it to the League of Women Voters and said please implement this. The League said, Are you kidding me? We are not going to implement a secret contract that dictates the terms of the format. Instead, they release the contract to the public and they held a press conference accusing the candidates of ‘perpetrating a fraud on the American people’ and refusing to be ‘an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American people.’”
The Democratic and Republican parties wrested control of the debates from the League of Women Voters, and have controlled them since.
So, I love Japanese woodcut prints and had quite a collection of them prior to the divorce. Fortunately, older daughter has been ensuring they don’t disappear to E-bay and into her step mother’s casino fund. The one above is called Beauty and Violence. I wanted to end with a really interesting and inspiring story about the elderly in Japan. Japan has an extremely large population of long-lived seniors. This story is about them and their participation in athletics. Notice that Japan is not promoting the ice floes like Paul Ryan and a lot of Republican leaders even though Japan’s debt is substantially more worrisome than ours.
Saddled with record public debt, Japan is promoting social interaction to curb the cost of caring for the 32 percent its people older than 60 — the highest proportion globally. By 2050, one in five people worldwide will be over 60, from one in nine now, according to the United Nations. Japan’s approach may help other countries also facing rising numbers of elderly.
“It enables them to participate quite actively in community life,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, secretary general of the UN’s Population Fund, which is leading UN efforts on aging. People with strong social networks “will probably not fall ill as frequently,” he said in an interview in Tokyo, where the UN released a report on aging this week.
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare released policies on health and aging that focus on strengthening seniors’ community involvement in July, a shift from previous approaches that centered only on individual behavior.
Finding cost-effective ways to promote healthy aging will be critical for countries trying to reconcile rising welfare costs and a shrinking tax base. By 2050, 42 percent of Japan’s population will be at least 60 years old, according to Global AgeWatch.
Read on about Japan’s 10 point plan for Healthy Aging. It includes subsidizing exercise for seniors and rewarding them for doing civic and group activities with coupons.
In Tokyo’s Suginami ward, where Doi lives, authorities award points in the form of stickers to seniors who participate in government-approved activities from picking up litter, to attending health and sporting events, to cultural activities. Each point has a value of 50 yen (64 cents) and can be exchanged for grocery coupons. The Suginami local government has allocated 80 million yen for the project this year, according to its website.
“People who are disadvantaged socially and economically have more health problems,” the health ministry in Tokyo said in July.
Each year since 1988, the ministry has hosted the “Nenrinpic” carnival in which seniors compete at a national level in sports such as tennis, petanque and croquet. Doi’s petanque team has represented Tokyo five times, been a finalist three times and won the championship in 1999, she said.
Health clubs are benefiting from a growing enthusiasm for exercise among seniors. Koshidaka Holdings Co., which operates 1,200 women-only fitness centers in Japan, says 50- and 60-year- olds make up more than 60 percent of its 500,000 members.
“The core customers have never really exercised in their adult life before, so they feel the benefits from an easy, 30- minutes of weight training,” Hiroshi Koshidaka, the company’s president, said in an interview. “Many come three times a week, feel improvement, make friends, encourage others to join, and stop people from quitting.”
The purpose of the plan is to end the isolation that many seniors feel and support them in a healthy, connected life style. Wow. Imagine that.
So, I’ve gone way past my usual length and MABlue always gives me a hard time about that so, I’ll leave the rest of the day’s news reporting to you. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’ve decided to avoid presidential politics this morning, but I have a variety of interesting news links that I hope you’ll enjoy.
I’m going to begin with some crime stories. Do you remember Amy Bishop? She was the University of Alabama Huntsville biology professor who was turned down for tenture and later murdered three of her colleagues and wounded three others at a department faculty meeting in early 2010. I wrote a couple of posts about her at the time, see here and here. Today Bishop was sentenced to life in prison.
A former Alabama biology professor who pleaded guilty to killing three colleagues and wounding three others in a 2010 shooting rampage was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Monday after a jury convicted her in a shortened trial.
Amy Bishop avoided a death sentence by admitting earlier this month to gunning down her colleagues during a biology department staff meeting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
Alabama law requires a jury to decide the punishment and confirm a guilty plea for a capital murder charge.
Bishop’s defense attorneys did not contest the facts of the case during the abbreviated proceedings on Monday.
“She has admitted she did these terrible things,” defense attorney Robert Tuten said in his opening statement.
A few days ago, there was some interesting news in the Trayvon Martin case.
Forensic tests made public Wednesday show that George Zimmerman’s was the only DNA that could be identified on the grip of the gun used to fatally shoot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The results rule out Martin’s DNA from being on the gun’s grip. Zimmerman’s DNA also was identified on the gun’s holster, but no determination could be made as to whether Martin’s DNA was on the gun’s holster, according to the report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
I wonder if that will affect Zimmerman’s decision to go through with the stand-your-ground hearing that his attorney Mark O’Mara has scheduled for next year?
O’Mara is also trying to get access to Trayvon Martin’s school records even though they couldn’t be introduced at trial because they are not relevant to the crime, according to prosecutor Bernie de La Ronda.
In a new pleading, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asks Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to seal whatever those records show and in the future to keep O’Mara’s subpoenas a secret.
O’Mara is entitled to go on a fishing expedition to find out about Trayvon’s past, according to court paperwork de la Rionda filed Wednesday, but “he is not allowed to chum the waters and then, by innuendo or otherwise, to publish irrelevant items … to the media in an attempt to influence public perception or otherwise curry favor with potential jurors.”
De la Rionda also Wednesday filed a new evidence list – his eighth. It shows that a book and television appearance by Zimmerman’s self-proclaimed best friend, former Seminole County deputy Mark Osterman, are now officially part of the case prosecutors are building against Zimmerman.
Osterman’s self-published book, written with his wife, is titled “Defending Our Friend: The Most Hated Man in America.” From Examiner.com:
A new book claims that before being shot in the chest and dying, Trayvon Martin grabbed the gun of George Zimmerman, as the two struggled during a violent encounter, according to a report Thursday. This, despite the findings released this week that none of the teen’s DNA was found on the weapon….
The Miami Herald reports that Osterman was the first person Zimmerman’s wife called after the shooting. A former U.S. air marshal, he was with his friend during Zimmerman’s first three police interrogations.
According to the Herald, Osterman’s account of what took place the night of Martin’s death is “a sharp deviation from the versions Zimmerman gave…”
In his book, Osterman quotes Zimmerman as saying, “I desperately got both of my hands around the guy’s one wrist and took his hand off my mouth long enough for me to shout again for help.”
The quote continues, “For a brief moment I had control of the wrist, but I knew when he felt the sidearm at my waist with his leg. He took his hand that was covering my nose and went for the gun, saying, ‘You’re gonna die now, mother*****.’ Somehow I broke his grip on the gun where the guy grabbed it between the rear sight and the hammer. I got the gun in my hand, raised it toward the guy’s chest and pulled the trigger.”
I also have an update on the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. Accused shooter James Holmes recently appeared in court with short brown hair and a few days’ growth of beard.
Seeking to avoid any delays in the Colorado movie theater shooting case, prosecutors gave up their fight to see a notebook the suspect sent to a university psychiatrist and instead argued for a palm print to compare with one found on the inside of a theater exit door.
James Holmes appeared in court Thursday with short brown hair instead of a wild shock of orangish-red hair and seemed more animated than he has been in the past. He smiled and glanced around the courtroom, looking at his lawyers and reporters covering the hearing. He appeared to be moving his mouth but not actually talking.
Prosecutors believe they still have good arguments for getting access to the notebook and will continue to fight for it. Oddly, some victims’ families refuse to believe that Holmes is mentally ill.
Family members receiving updates about Holmes from the courtroom said it’s all an act by the former University of Colorado, Denver, neuroscience graduate student to appear mentally ill.
“He’s just putting on a show,” said Greg Medek of Aurora, whose daughter Micayla, 23, died in the shooting. “I don’t think he’s crazy. He’s just evil.”
The last crime story is about the New York man who jumped into a tiger cage.
Before his now-infamous tangle with a Bronx Zoo tiger, David Villalobos adorned his Facebook page with New Age odes to Mother Earth and affirmations like, “Be love and fearless.”
Police said Saturday that Villalobos had told detectives that it was without fear that he leaped from an elevated train into the animal’s den. His reason, they said, was that “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”
Villalobos also recounted how, after he landed on all fours, the 400-pound beast attacked him and dragged around by his foot, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. Despite serious injuries, he claimed he was able to get his wish and pet the tiger — a male Siberian named Bashuta — before his rescue, the spokesman added.
Based on those admissions and a complaint from the zoo, police charged the hospitalized Villalobos with misdemeanor trespassing on Saturday. It was unclear if the 25-year-old real estate agent had an attorney, and attempts to reach relatives were unsuccessful.
There’s much more weird info at the link.
Here’s a bloodcurdling historical story for you from The Daily Beast. It’s a review of a new book, “Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying: The Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs” by Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer.
How much did World War II German soldiers know about the Holocaust? Publicly, many of them denied knowledge. But a long-lost cache of secret recordings that the British intelligence service made of German prisoners of war show that, in private, they chatted openly and casually about mass-murdering Jews, demonstrating what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil.”
The book consists of transcripts of conversations secretly recorded by British intelligence. I’m not going to include an except, because the material is pretty gruesome. You can read it all at the link. But this certainly will be a valuable addition to the history of Nazi Germany and WWII.
The Foxconn plant in China where apple products are manufactured has been shut down because of riots that took place over the weekend.
SHANGHAI — Foxconn Technology, a major supplier to some of the world’s electronics giants, including Apple, said it had closed one of its large Chinese plants Monday after the police were called in to break up a fight among factory employees.
A spokesman said some people had been hurt and detained by the police after the disturbance escalated into a riot involving more than 1,000 workers late Sunday.
The company said the incident was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.” It said the cause of the disturbance was still under investigation.
One Foxconn employee reached by telephone Monday afternoon, however, said the incident began when workers started brawling with security guards.
Unconfirmed photographs and video circulated on social networking sites, purporting to be from the factory, showed smashed windows, riot police officers and large groups of workers milling around. The Foxconn plant, in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, employs about 79,000 workers.
The Chinese state-run news media said 5,000 police officers had been called in to quell the riot.
This one is for Connie: Stranded 655-pound turtle reluctantly released.
A 655-pound leatherback sea turtle that had been stranded in thick mud in Truro on Wednesday night was released off the coast of Harwich Port Saturday morning, New England Aquarium officials said.
A Massachusetts Audubon Society staff member spotted the 7-foot-long black male turtle in Pamet Harbor Wednesday night as high tide approached, said Connie Merigo, the aquarium’s rescue director.
Aquarium staff and volunteers, along with staff members of the Audubon Society and International Fund for Animal Welfare, brought the turtle to the aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy near dawn Thursday.
The sea turtle was about 100 pounds underweight and had low blood sugar and an old injury on his front right fin, Merigo said.
“When he first got here he was fairly lethargic, especially out of the water,” head veterinarian Dr. Charles Innis said.
Innis said the turtle was treated aggressively with “injectable sugar solution, vitamin and mineral supplements, steroids, and antibiotics to stave off infection.” It wouldn’t have been possible to keep him any longer, because leatherbacks are so stressed by being in captivity that they usually don’t survive long.
That’s all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed the break from politics. I know I did. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?