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rpannier

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Gender: Male
Current location: Boseong
Member since: Fri Jan 30, 2004, 05:44 AM
Number of posts: 20,967

Journal Archives

Toad disguises itself as deadly viper to avoid attack

The Congolese giant toad, a triple cheeseburger-sized prize for any predator, may use its ability to mimic the highly venomous Gaboon viper to escape being eaten. The viper has the longest snake fangs in the world and produces more venom than any other snake.

"Our study is based on ten years of fieldwork and on direct observation by researchers lucky enough to see the toad's behavior first-hand. We're convinced that this is an example of Batesian mimicry, where a harmless species avoids predators by pretending to be a dangerous or toxic one," says Dr. Eli Greenbaum from the University of Texas at El Paso. "To fully test our hypothesis, we'd have to demonstrate that predators are successfully duped, but this would be very difficult in the wild, where the toads are only encountered rarely. However, based on multiple sources of evidence provided in our study, we are confident that our mimicry hypothesis is well-supported."

snip

Some mimics are exclusively visual, but for the Congolese giant toad, getting the look right is only part of the impersonation. If a Gaboon viper feels threatened, it will often incline its head and emit a long, loud warning hiss before it actually makes a strike. Similarly, Congolese herpetologist Chifundera Kusamba observed the toad emitting a hissing noise resembling the sound of air being slowly released from a balloon. Over a century ago, American biologist James Chapin observed a bow display by the toad, where the front limbs no longer prop up the viperine-shaped body, which looks similar to the cocked head of a snake threatening to strike.

https://phys.org/news/2019-10-toad-disguises-deadly-viper.html

Julian Castro speaks with Democrats Abroad - Oct 22

October 22nd, 11:00am DC time to your calendar and join a call with Julián Castro! He'll spend time with Democrats Abroad sharing his policy stance on Americans abroad issues (and other issues too, time permitting).

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Not La Dolce Vita: Chocolate Shoplifting Case Highlights Plight Of Russian Orphans

SAMARA, Russia -- Two parliamentary deputies, the rapper Ptakha, and thousands of ordinary Russians have come to the defense of Igor Shamin. The 20-year-old faces nearly 3 years in prison for stealing a 1,600-ruble ($25) box of chocolates.

snip

In addition, federal Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin announced on October 15 that he was sending a team of investigators out to this Volga River city 850 kilometers southeast of Moscow to look into Shamin's claims that he was beaten by police during his interrogation.

The case has put a spotlight on the unenviable fates of thousands of young Russians released from orphanages each year, usually without housing, jobs, or even basic survival skills. Only 10 percent of the country's orphans live to reach the age of 40, according to an estimate by the nongovernmental aid organization Arifmetika Dobra.

snip

"[Russian channel] REN-TV requested an interview with him," said Anton Rubin, who heads the local volunteer organization Home of Childhood -- which provides assistance to youths released from state-run orphanages when they grow up -- and is helping Shamin. "He was taken to the administration and gently instructed to sign a refusal. They promised to transfer him to a better cell."

https://www.rferl.org/a/not-la-dolce-vita-chocolate-shoplifting-case-highlights-plight-of-russian-orphans/30225051.html

It's really worth the read


2. North Macedonia PM calls for snap election after EU membership talks blocked

North Macedonia should have a snap general election, the country’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Saturday, after a bid to start EU membership talks were blocked.

The European Council said on Friday it was not going to begin formal talks with North Macedonia and Albania on joining the bloc.

This was a major blow for Zaev, the progressive leader of Macedonia’s social democrats whose main goal since coming to power in 2017 was gaining EU and NATO membership.

snip

Zaev commented that the decision left him “disappointed and angry” and called it a “huge historic mistake on the part of the EU”.

https://www.euronews.com/2019/10/19/north-macedonia-pm-calls-for-snap-election-after-eu-membership-talks-blocked


3. Thousands take to streets in Rome for far-right rally

Thousands of Italians descended on Rome for a far-right rally labelled “Italy pride”, evoking connotations to the “march on Rome” held on 27 October 1922 that marked the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s rise to power.

The rally on Saturday had been in the making since Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, was spectacularly ousted from government in late August.

snip

He was flanked on stage by Giorgia Meloni, who leads the smaller far-right party, Brothers of Italy, and Silvio Berlusconi, the four-time former prime minister and Forza Italia leader. The trio recently revived their coalition in a show of unity against the current left-leaning government.

“We’re here to say ‘no’ to the most leftwing government in history,” said Berlusconi.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/19/thousands-take-to-streets-in-rome-for-far-right-rally-salvini

'Most leftwing in history'? Insanity, Cognitive Decline or just plain Moron. Or all 3. I guess he found time away from his bunga bunga parties to show he's still an ass


4. Baku Police Detain Dozens As Opposition Rallies

BAKU -- Police detained dozens of opposition activists before and during a protest in the Azerbaijani capital on October 19.

According to police, a little over 200 people participated in the demonstration and 60 were detained. Police said 42 of those detained were released with a "warning."

snip

The protest was organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF), an umbrella group of Azerbaijani opposition groups, and was not authorized by the authorities.

snip

In the run-up to the demonstration, Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova said police also blocked three subway stations in an apparent attempt to thwart protesters from reaching the rally site. She also said Internet service had been blocked in most of the city.

https://www.rferl.org/a/police-arrest-opposition-activists-ahead-of-baku-rally/30225138.html


5. The future of burial: inside Jerusalem's hi-tech underground necropolis

snip

Cool air from deep inside the mountain lightly wafts through cavernous arched tunnels. Along the walls of the subterranean passages, rows of human-sized chambers have been dug into the rock. It is unmistakably a catacomb.

Yet this mass tomb is not a relic of the Roman empire. It was made with huge electric diggers, and the walls are lined with concrete. People will enter by lift, and those with limited mobility will be able to use a golf buggy to traverse the necropolis.

Facing a dire shortage of land, the city of Jerusalem is preparing at the end of this month to revive an ancient custom of underground burial. A four-year project has dug out a mile of labyrinthine tunnels into a hillside on the outskirts of the holy city to accommodate 23,000 bodies.

snip

The Kehillat Yerushalayim burial society, the biggest group overseeing Jewish burials in Jerusalem, has financed the project, which cost upwards of £45m. It has strict rules, including a ban on cremation and also that the deceased be physically connected to the earth, allowing their bodies to return to the ground.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/oct/18/the-future-of-burial-inside-jerusalems-hi-tech-underground-necropolis

Dark web: Largest ever online child porn bust leads to 337 arrests

Three-hundred and thirty-seven suspects were arrested after a massive, international multi-agency operation knocked out a horrific child abuse site.

Welcome to Video, a dark web site hosting over 250,000 videos featuring brutal child abuse, was being run from South Korea by 23-year-old Jong Woo Son, the British National Crime Agency uncovered in a press release announcing hundreds of arrests. The website's content amounted to almost eight terabytes of data containing sexual abuse images, that were sold on a bitcoin-centred marketplace worth over 730,000 dollars.

snip

The individuals were identified by following a trace of presumably untrackable digital currencies that had been used to buy illegal child pornography videos. "The website monetized the sexual abuse of children and was one of the first to offer sickening videos for sale using the cryptocurrency bitcoin," the NCA explained.

snip

The global operation was conducted by a task force set up by the NCA in collaboration with the United State's Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, South Korea's National Police and Germany's Federal Criminal Police. The arrests were made in 38 countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Canada and the United States

link
https://www.euronews.com/2019/10/17/dark-web-largest-ever-online-child-porn-bust-leads-to-337-arrests

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

(Sorry for not having posted in a while, Typhoon Hagibis kept us all pretty busy and didn't give me time to look for new stories)

1. First Flag: Kosovo's Would-Be PM Takes Serbian Heat For Favoring Albanian Banner

When Albin Kurti and his Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) party declared victory in Kosovo's snap elections earlier this month, it was unclear how the dramatic rise in Pristina of a 44-year-old Albanian nationalist might affect Kosovo's biggest international challenges.

Primary among them are stalled negotiations on normalizing relations with neighboring Serbia, whose resolution could boost Kosovo's decade-long pursuit of full recognition in the United Nations and eventual membership of major European institutions.

snip

Then there was a reminder of Kurti's insistence on displaying Albanian national symbols and his repeated calls in the past for a referendum on Kosovo's unification with Albania.

link
https://www.rferl.org/a/kosovo-kurti-serbia-vucic-albanian-flag/30222104.html


2. Orban says would have to 'use force' if Turkey 'opens gates' to refugees

Hungary would "use force" at its southern border with Serbia to protect the European Union's frontier if Turkey follows through on its threat to open the gates to Europe to refugees, Hungary's Viktor Orban said.

The Hungarian prime minister put up a fence on the country's border with Serbia to block the Balkan route of migration, where hundreds of thousands of people marched through from the Middle East to western Europe at the peak of the crisis in 2015.

snip

"If Turkey sets off further hundreds of thousands on top of this, then we will need to use force to protect the Hungarian border and the Serbian-Hungarian frontier and I do not wish for anyone that we should need to resort to that," he said.

link
https://www.euronews.com/2019/10/17/orban-says-would-have-to-use-force-if-turkey-opens-gates-to-refugees

(Sounds like he's planning on using force against refugees, not Turkey)


3. Dutch police arrest father of family held in farm basement

Dutch police have arrested the father of a family kept for nearly a decade in a farmhouse, saying they were investigating whether a “certain belief in faith” was behind the case.

The 67-year-old was suspected of depriving people of their liberty, harming the health of others and money laundering following the discovery of the family in the northern village of Ruinerwold, police said.

He is the second person to be arrested. The 58-year-old tenant of the farmhouse, an Austrian man, appeared before an examining judge on Thursday on similar charges and was ordered to be detained for two weeks.

link
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/17/dutch-police-arrest-father-of-family-held-at-farm-against-will


4. Bulgarian National Radio Chief Sacked In Free Speech Row

Bulgaria's broadcast regulator has sacked the chief of Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) for taking the channel off the air for several hours last month in a row with a presenter known for covering the country’s corruption-prone judicial system.

The five members of the Council for Electronic Media on October 17 voted to oust Svetoslav Kostov as BNR general director, saying that briefly suspending a live talk show for five hours represented a “grave violation” of Bulgarians' right to information.

snip

The September 13 shutdown occurred after BNR the previous day decided to suspend journalist Silvia Velikova from her job, claiming she had violated her contract by urging listeners while on air to join a protest over the appointment of Bulgaria's next chief prosecutor.

link
https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgarian-national-radio-chief-sacked-in-free-speech-row/30221988.html


5. Eurostar enjoys busiest August as passengers seek alternative to flying

Eurostar has reported its busiest August ever, with more than a million passengers travelling on the cross-Channel train service in that month.

The service appears to have benefited from increasing demand for an alternative to flying - a trend highlighted in Eurostar’s advertising campaign.

snip

“We have seen positive momentum over the summer, with strong growth in the number of North American passengers choosing to travel by high-speed rail,” he said.

link
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/17/eurostar-enjoys-busiest-august-as-passengers-seek-alternative-to-flying

5 Facts You May Find Interesting

1. Want to be immortal? You can. You just need to be a jellyfish.

Turritopsis dohrnii is now officially known as the only immortal creature. The secret to eternal life, as it turns out, is not just living a really, really long time. It’s all about maturity, or rather, the lack of it. The immortal jellyfish (as it is better known popularly) propagate and then, faced with the normal career path of dying, they opt instead to revert to a sexually immature stage.

It turns out that once the adult form of the 4.5 mm-wide species Turritopsis dohrnii have reproduced, they don’t die but transform themselves back into their juvenile polyp state. Their tentacles retract, their bodies shrink, and they sink to the ocean floor and start the cycle all over again. Among laboratory samples, all the adult Turritopsis observed regularly undergo this change. And not just once: they can do it over and over again.

https://immortal-jellyfish.com/
https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/greatmomentsinscience/the-strange-life-of-the-immortal-jellyfish-dr-karl-kruszelnicki/7666380

The fish can die. It can be eaten by other creatures and can catch illnesses.

2. Prince Charles has a car that runs on wine.

Queen Elizabeth gave Prince Charles an Aston Martin for his 21st birthday.

Engineers at Aston Martin had discovered that their cars could run on surplus English white wine (albeit mixed with a whey). Still, they urged the Prince not to switch out his fuel. "The engineers at Aston said, 'Oh, it’ll ruin the whole thing,'" he said, according to The Telegraph.

Charles wasn't about to take no for an answer. "I said, 'Well I won’t drive it then,' so they got on with it and now they admit that it runs better and is more powerful on that fuel than it is on petrol... And also, it smells delicious as you’re driving along."

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/a24883994/prince-charles-car-aston-martin-runs-on-wine/


3. Martin Luther King Jr and Anne Frank were both born in 1929

https://www.buzzfeed.com/kristinchirico/iconic-people-you-had-no-idea-were-the-same-age


4. The plural of Octopus should be Octopodes

Though octopuses is the most used and accepted plural form for octopus, octopus is (Latinized) Ancient Greek, from oktṓpous (ὀκτώπους ), gender masculine, whose plural is oktṓpodes (ὀκτώποδες ).


5. Betty White really is older than sliced bread

Betty White was born in 1922, the bread slicer was sold in 1928.
Betty White is also older than the trampoline, ballpoint pens, the jukebox, the garage, traffic signals, garbage disposals, synthetic rubber tires and frozen food.

Oh... and one more thing about sliced bread; it was briefly banned during WW II because it was sold in plastic bags and plastic was needed for the war effort.

The Bible's first critic

-Centuries before Spinoza, there was Ḥiwi al-Balkhi, a Jewish freethinker for whom the Bible was too irrational for faith

Much less known today is the fact that they, too, had a forerunner, and a rather early one at that. He lived eight centuries before their time, hailing from medieval Afghanistan: Ḥiwi al-Balkhi (also spelled as Chiwi), a man whom Spinoza and da Costa never heard of. But what do we know about this very early Jewish freethinker?

snip

Ḥiwi was an amazingly radical freethinker. About his life we know next to nothing. And most unfortunately, his notorious work, often called the Book of Two Hundred Questions, has not been preserved because the leaders of both Jewish communities of his day had no interest at all in its survival. They did all they could to achieve its disappearance, and nearly succeeded.

That we still know a fair amount about Ḥiwi’s work is something we owe to it being so controversial that, for several decades after its appearance, Jewish authors (including even Karaites) tried to refute the ideas of this heretic. Of course, in order to refute him they had to quote him: hence our knowledge of his radicalism. One of these authors was no less a person than Saadia Gaon, a leading Jewish scholar and rabbi from the early 10th century. (Abraham ibn Ezra, a famed biblical commentator of the same era, was another critic.)

snip

Ḥiwi argues that anyone who reads the Bible carefully will see that it often presents God as unjust and even ruthless (a question he asks is ‘Why did God inflict the Egyptian servitude upon the offspring of Abraham?’). Moreover, the Bible does not picture God as almighty and omniscient: in Genesis 3: 9, God asks Adam ‘Where are you?’ In Genesis 4: 9, God asks: ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ God is pictured as capricious since he repeatedly changes his mind, as in Genesis 6:6: ‘The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.’ The fact that the biblical God wants to receive bloody sacrifices can hardly be interpreted as an indication of God’s lofty status, or as Ḥiwi puts it: ‘Is not God represented as eating and accepting bribes?’ And what sense does it make that, when God prods David to commit a grave sin, it is the people of Israel who are severely punished, as when God sends a brutal plague to claim 70,000 innocent lives (2 Samuel 24)? Why did 30,000 Israelites have to be killed by the Philistines because the sons of the priest Eli seriously misbehaved (1 Samuel 4:10)? The conclusion, for Ḥiwi, must be that the biblical concept of the divine is primitive and in fact unworthy of God Himself.

link
https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-jewish-freethinker-iwi-al-balkhi-criticised-the-bible?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=67d9247265-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_10_06_16&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-67d9247265-70731013

Hard-Liners Upset, Iranian Women Celebrate After Buying Soccer Tickets For First Time

After decades of being banned from attending men's sporting events, Iran's female soccer fans are celebrating the fact they will be able to attend their national team's upcoming World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.

snip

Women -- as well as men -- have been celebrating on social media by posting copies of their tickets for the much-anticipated match, with the tickets reserved for women selling out within minutes after going on sale on October 4.

snip

Other women who managed to buy tickets expressed their excitement and disbelief on social media under the hashtag #Come_with_me_to_the_stadium (in Persian).

snip

"I bought tickets for my mother and my wife," said the deputy of Tehran's sports municipality, Farzad Radboy, on Twitter. He added that he will be babysitting his 10-month-old daughter on October 10 so that his mother and his wife can enjoy the match in peace.

snip

(adding this bit of the typical idiocracy)

The ultra-hard-line daily Kayhan criticized the decision to allow women to attend male sporting events by suggesting it wasn't a priority for them and that women have more pressing problems that need to be addressed.

link
https://www.rferl.org/a/iranian-women-celebrate-soccer-tickets-first-time-hard-liners-upset/30206200.html

I would point out to the Kayhan, that Iran has more pressing problems to be addressed than who is attending soccer games -- Just saying

Trump proved me wrong

In 2017, I told several people there is no way il douche could ever pick someone as less qualified, more onerous and horrible than Jeff Sessions
And, along came this AG

The Russian Bear Is Spooked By Greta The Eco-Activist

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg found herself thrust into the global spotlight after electrifying the UN General Assembly in New York, where she denounced world leaders for failing to tackle climate change in a speech on September 23.

snip

Russian President Vladimir Putin was the latest global leader to join the chorus of those condemning Thunberg, telling an energy forum in Moscow on October 2 that he did not share the excitement about her UN speech.

"No one has explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and different and...people in Africa or in many Asian countries want to live at the same wealth level as in Sweden," Putin said.

snip

Kremlin-friendly or controlled media have also found little to like about Thunberg or her speech.

"Mentally ill girl promised humankind 'mass extinction,'" was the headline of Komsomolskaya Pravda's article on Thunberg after her speech.

link
https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-greta-global-warming/30197495.html
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