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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 44911 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #390 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:46am »

The Hill

K Street feels it's being unfairly targeted by bill disclosing lobbying violators
By Kevin Bogardus - 08/01/10 04:14 PM ET

K Street is blaming the politics of the 2010 midterm elections for a new bill that would toughen lobbying law enforcement.

The House unanimously passed legislation last week that would disclose suspected violators of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) for the first time to the public. The bill would also set up a Justice Department taskforce to investigate those cases, likely upping the law’s lax enforcement.

It’s unclear whether the legislation will be approved by the Senate and reach President Obama’s desk, but the House vote nonetheless sends a tough message to K Street that lawmakers are interested in being seen as cracking down on lobbyists.

Lobbyists told The Hill that they had no issue with more enforcement of the law but bristled at the bill’s suggestion that their profession is inherently corrupt.

Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group, said he thinks all lobbyists should follow the law and that his firm makes sure lobbying reports are filed on time.

“I hardly think it is one of the top law enforcement priorities. But it is an election year. You have to expect something like this to happen,” Podesta said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), is a freshman who faces a tough race in November. Her seat is labeled as a toss-up in the latest ratings of House races by the Cook Political Report.

“Rep. Kilroy championed this bill because of her deep desire to strengthen oversight on lobbying activities. She is hopeful that the Senate will take it up, but if not, she will push for this when she returns to Congress in 2012, again in 2014 and each subsequent congress until she gets the job done,” said Brad Bauman, her communications director

Some on K Street complained that the floor debate on Wednesday “looked like a campaign commercial” for Kilroy. That populism against lobbyists — an easy target for lawmakers at times — often rubs them the wrong way.

“The rhetoric is BS,” said a lobbyist. “Every time the president talks about it, we get a client.”

Others cited the bill’s quick progress from introduction to passage as reason for worry. Kilroy introduced the bill just under two weeks ago and it made it to the House floor with no committee hearing or markup, taking some by surprise on K Street.

“It’s very concerning that this bill came out of nowhere in a way that wasn’t transparent. Because there was no hearing or even markup, the bill that was voted on bears no resemblance to the bill that was put on the calendar,” said Howard Marlowe, president of Marlowe & Company.

The bill was actually weakened in favor of K Street. A provision that would have charged lobby firms an annual fee of $50 to file forms and assess a $500 penalty against late filers was removed.

On the floor Wednesday, Kilroy said she removed the fee provision because she was “informed by the Clerk of the House that they could not administer such a fee.”

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for watchdog group Public Citizen, said such a fee provision would have raised constitutional problems since it could favor big lobby firms over smaller boutique shops.

But even in its current form, the bill is “a desperately-needed measure to compel enforcement of the lobbying laws,” Holman said. “The legislation would prevent DOJ from ignoring LDA violations.”

Holman cited statistics where of the more than 8,000 potential LDA violations that have been referred to Justice by the Senate Secretary and the House Clerk, only three cases resulted in any enforcement actions by the department.

Some lobbyists agree that the bill is necessary and would force some to file forms again. Many have terminated their registrations to avoid tough new measures against lobbyists authored by the Obama administration.

“I am for it because some of these guys are making a mockery of the system. You have half of my colleagues deregistering right now. You have got to add some teeth to the system,” said the lobbyist.

Podesta thought the bill would be tougher considering the political climate. He was surprised that lawmakers took out the fee provision — or as he joked, “the death penalty.”

“At least no one has thought of getting us to file daily lobbying reports,” Podesta said.

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/112073-k-street-feels-its-being-unfairly-targeted-by-enforcement-bill

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #391 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:46am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:42am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Good morning,

That croc's looking at me! shocked

Crystal


Rofl..... laugh

True Crystal.... that alligator was only about 6 feet from me... and I swear it was eying me off for a snack....

Pen
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« Reply #392 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:51am »

New York Times

August 1, 2010
A Benchmark of Progress, Electrical Grid Fails Iraqis
By STEVEN LEE MYERS

BAGHDAD — Ikbal Ali, a bureaucrat in a beaded head scarf, accompanied by a phalanx of police officers, quickly found what she was out looking for in the summer swelter: electricity thieves. Six black cables stretched from a power pole to a row of auto-repair shops, siphoning what few hours of power Iraq’s straining system provides.

“Take them all down,” Ms. Ali ordered, sending a worker up in a crane’s bucket to disentangle the connections. A shop owner, Haitham Farhan, responded mockingly, using the words now uttered across Iraq as a curse, “Maku kahraba” — “There is no electricity.”

From the beginning of the war more than seven years ago, the state of electricity has been one of the most closely watched benchmarks of Iraq’s progress, and of the American effort to transform a dictatorship into a democracy.

And yet, as the American combat mission — Operation Iraqi Freedom, in the Pentagon’s argot — officially ends this month, Iraq’s government still struggles to provide one of the most basic services.

Ms. Ali’s campaign against electricity theft — a belated bandage on a broken body — makes starkly clear the mixed legacy that America leaves behind as Iraq begins to truly govern itself, for better and worse.

Iraq now has elections, a functioning, if imperfect, army and an oil industry on the cusp of a potential boom. Yet Baghdad, the capital, had five hours of electricity a day in July.

The chronic power shortages are the result of myriad factors, including war, drought and corruption, but ultimately they reflect a dysfunctional government that remains deadlocked and unresponsive to popular will. That has generated disillusionment and dissent, including protests this summer that, while violent in two cases, were a different measure of Iraq’s new freedoms.

“Democracy didn’t bring us anything,” Mr. Farhan said in his newly darkened shop. Then he corrected himself. “Democracy brought us a can of Coke and a beer.”

The overall legacy of the American invasion today, like that of the war itself, remains a matter of dispute, colored by ideology, politics and faith in democracy’s ultimate ability to take root in the heart of the Arab world.

Even Iraqis suspicious of American motives hoped that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would bring modern, competent governance. Still, the streets are littered with trash, drinking water is polluted, hospitals are bleak and often unsafe, and buildings bombed by the Americans in 2003 or by insurgents since remain ruined shells.

What is clear is that Iraqis’ expectations of a reliable supply of electricity and other services, like their expectations of democracy itself, have exceeded what either Americans or the country’s quarrelling politicians have so far been able to meet.

“Iraqi politicians are killing our optimism,” Hassan Shihab said, complaining about blackouts after Friday Prayer at a mosque in Baquba, northwest of Baghdad. Dictatorship, he added, “was more merciful.”

Iraq’s electricity problem is, of course, older than its still-uncertain embrace of a new form of government. Before Mr. Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait 20 years ago this month, Iraq had the capacity to produce 9,295 megawatts of power. By 2003, after American bombings and years of international sanctions, it was half that.

The shortages since have hobbled economic development and disrupted almost every aspect of daily life. They have transformed cities. Rumbling generators outside homes and other buildings — previously nonexistent — and thickets of wires as dense as a jungle canopy have become as much a part of Iraq’s cityscapes as blast walls and checkpoints.

Most of the generators are privately operated, and the cost — roughly $7 per ampere — has for ordinary Iraqis become too exorbitant to power anything more than a light and a television.

“I’ve never seen good electricity from the day I was born,” said Abbas Riyadh, 22, a barber in Sadr City, the impoverished Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad. As he spoke, as if on cue, the lights went out.

Billions of Dollars Later

The United States has spent $5 billion on electrical projects alone, nearly 10 percent of the $53 billion it has devoted to rebuilding Iraq, second only to what it has spent on rebuilding Iraq’s security forces. It has had some effect, but there have also been inefficiency and corruption, as there have been in projects to rebuild schools, water and sewerage systems, roads and ports.

The special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., said that one quarter of 54 reconstruction projects his office had investigated — including those providing electricity and other basic services — had not been completed or carried on by the Iraqis they were built for.

The United States is now winding such projects down, leaving some unfinished and others, already in disrepair, in the hands of national and provincial governments that so far seem unwilling or unable to maintain and operate them adequately.

“We brought the framework of electoral democracy,” Mr. Bowen said, “but its future efficacy is very much in doubt.”

Iraq does generate more electricity than it did in 2003, but nowhere near enough to match rising demand, driven higher by the proliferation of consumer goods, especially air-conditioners. Democracy, the easing of the country’s isolation and improving security have, paradoxically, created new conditions and demands that the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has been unable to address.

Iraq’s electrical grid remains a patchwork of old power plants and new, supplemented with makeshift and inadequate solutions. Iraq now imports 700 megawatts from Iran. When temperatures soared this summer, it paid for two electricity-generating ships from Turkey to dock near Basra, one of the most badly affected cities, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The country’s transmission and distribution networks are aging and mismanaged by a bureaucracy as sclerotic as it was in Mr. Hussein’s era.

The entire system is hampered by poor planning and by interagency rivalries that, for example, delay fuel to power plants; by a lack of conservation; by continuing terrorist attacks on electrical towers, including four in the last half of July in Baghdad, Anbar and Diyala Provinces.

Corruption — which the special inspector general’s office called “Iraq’s ‘second insurgency’ ” in a report released on Friday — is pervasive. Mr. Farhan, the shop owner, said his landlord had bribed Ministry of Electricity workers to install the pirated cables three years ago. “He couldn’t just connect the cables himself,” he noted.

Fight Against Pilfering

The government campaign against pilfering — which officials said resulted in hundreds of miles of cables removed, with barely discernible effect — followed the public protests, including one in Basra in June that ended with the police opening fire, killing two.

At first Mr. Maliki denounced the protests as the work of foreign agents, an ominous echo of the conspiracy-minded remarks of Saddam Hussein, while the Interior Ministry announced strict limits on public protests.

Then Mr. Maliki, fighting for a second term as prime minister, moved to quell the populist outrage. He fired his electricity minister and ordered cuts in power to the privileged enclaves of ministers and politicians, a practice that began under Mr. Hussein and continues. Few Iraqis believe those cuts have been meaningful or will be lasting.

In Mosul, the troubled northern city, the consequence of the campaign against piracy turned violent in June. When government workers cut an illegal connection from the Nineveh Textile Factory to a restive neighborhood called Mahmoun, insurgents retaliated by shelling the plant.

“I knew it was not safe for me, but I did it anyway,” said a ministry engineer, referring to ordering the cutting of the cables.

“After that, the electricity went back to normal, as it was before, but the reply came quickly when the factory was targeted with mortars. There were many victims of the success,” said the engineer, who would give his name only as Abdullah, Father of Mohammed. Twelve people at the factory were wounded.

Mr. Maliki and his ministers have pleaded for patience, which is clearly running out, especially as the newly elected Parliament remains deadlocked over choosing a new prime minister and government nearly five months after the election.

The new acting electricity minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, said at an investment conference in July that Iraq would add 5,000 megawatts by 2012 but acknowledged that that would not keep up with demand.

“The problem will persist because there is no magic wand or miracle that can solve it,” he said.

He then urged Iraqis to turn off all but one air-conditioner in their homes — and presumably to huddle with their families in that room.

Bureaucratic Hurdles

The government’s inaction compounds the problem. In 2008, Mr. Maliki announced a deal to buy 56 gas turbine generators from General Electric and 16 from Siemens for a total cost of $5 billion. More than two years later the purchase remains stalled because of political quarrels over financing and delays in negotiating contracts to install them.

These types of generators have their own problems. At Baghdad South, a complex of three power plants, two General Electric generators installed in 2005 by the United States operate at about half their 125-megawatt capacity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/world/middleeast/02electricity.html?_r=1&hp

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #393 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:52am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:46am, Luvey wrote:
Rofl..... laugh

True Crystal.... that alligator was only about 6 feet from me... and I swear it was eying me off for a snack....

Pen


Good evening Pen!
You got pretty darn close to that guy!!!!!!!
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« Reply #394 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:55am »

New York Times

August 1, 2010
Oil Spill Creates Hard Choices for the E.U.
By JAMES KANTER

BRUSSELS — The seemingly limitless amounts of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico this year left many Americans feeling powerless.

To make matters worse, President Barack Obama had to wait — and then wait some more — before the company responsible for the spill, BP, finally devised a way to stanch the leak.

The spectacle also made uncomfortable viewing for leaders in the European Union, where there are also serious concerns about the ability of regulators to assert their authority over the oil and gas industry.

Those concerns are focused on whether oil and gas companies are sufficiently liable for environmental damage from drilling offshore, and on whether the Union, like the United States, should halt new offshore drilling.

Mr. Obama announced his country’s moratorium within weeks of the spill. It is now scheduled to end in late November but could be lifted sooner, partly to aid the economy.

Meanwhile, leaders in the European Union are still dithering over whether to take similar action.

A key reason is European politics. The Union is rigidly divided along national lines when it comes to strategically important sectors like energy, making the kind of executive decision-making demonstrated by Mr. Obama almost impossible.

Another reason is that some of the most important deepwater projects are in waters outside European jurisdiction.

Rather eerily, the same company responsible for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is also in the spotlight in Europe. During the second half of this year, BP plans to begin drilling below the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya and just a few hundred kilometers from E.U. member states like Malta, Italy and Greece.

At around 1,700 meters, or a little more than a mile, BP’s project in the Gulf of Sirte would reach even greater depths than its ill-fated venture in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company’s Gulf of Mexico venture ended in tragedy when a rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. Since then, a well under the gulf has leaked millions of barrels of crude oil, shutting down fisheries across the region and leaving tar balls and oily sludge on faraway shorelines. The company has stopped the flow but is still in the process of drilling a relief well to plug it permanently.

BP has sought to reassure Europeans that a similar episode at its Libyan project is preventable.

The company planned to “take note of all we know” from the experience of dealing with the spill in the Gulf of Mexico before drilling off the coast of Libya, said Robert Wine, a spokesman for BP.

The rig and the blowout “preventer” that BP would use in the Libyan project would be “thoroughly checked and tested,” he said.

“We all share concerns for safety and the environment and will only start drilling operations in any location when we have carried out all preparations,” Mr. Wine added.

For the moment, projects deeper than 1,000 meters in Europe account for only a small percentage of offshore operations, according to research by the European Commission.

Moreover, offshore gas is a bigger business than oil in countries where the bulk of offshore drilling in Europe takes place, and a gas blowout would be less of an environmental problem than oil if it mixed with water, according to the commission’s research.

Even so, European officials have begun issuing warnings about BP’s Libyan project, partly because of the characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea.

Compared with the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean has lower exchanges of water with nearby oceans and calmer winds and waves, diminishing its ability to disperse or dilute a spill.

Franco Frattini, the foreign minister of Italy, suggested last week that a spill in the Mediterranean on the same scale as the spill in the Gulf of Mexico would be even more damaging.

Plans for deepwater drilling in the Mediterranean have also alarmed Günther Oettinger, the E.U. energy commissioner.

He told the European Parliament in early July that existing technologies might not be adequate for drilling safely in deep water, and he suggested a “de facto moratorium on new drills until the causes of the accident are known and corrective measures are taken for such frontier operations as the ones carried out by the Deepwater Horizon.”

In comments last week that his aides said were aimed at Libya and BP, Mr. Oettinger called on governments and companies to exercise “temporary restraint, when it comes to their operations not only in Europe but also in other jurisdictions worldwide.”

But so far, Norway, which is not a member of the Union, is the only important oil producer in Europe to have announced a ban on drilling in new areas until more is known about the causes of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Britain, another important producer, has instead opted for a parliamentary inquiry into deepwater drilling in the North Sea and, in particular, to the west of Shetland.

As part of that inquiry, the Energy and Climate Change Committee will hear evidence in the autumn and then give an opinion, perhaps by the end of the year, on whether current safety rules for deepwater drilling are “fit for purpose,” said Georgina Crowhurst, a lawyer with Clyde & Co. in London who is advising clients from the oil and gas industry on how to respond to the inquiry.

For Mr. Oettinger, who cannot order a shutdown, the lack of interest E.U. governments so far have shown in his advice is a source of concern — and mounting frustration.

“What is good for Norway should be good for E.U. member states as well,” Mr. Oettinger said after a recent meeting with oil industry representatives in Brussels.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/business/global/02iht-green.html?ref=science

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« Reply #395 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:59am »

Telegraph

Milk from offspring of cloned cow 'sold in Britain'
Milk from the offspring of a cloned cow is being sold in British shops, it has been claimed.

By Peter Hutchison
Published: 6:30AM BST 02 Aug 2010

The Food Standards Agency is investigating the claim made by an anonymous British dairy farmer.

The FSA said it believed that the practice of selling milk from cloned cows and their offspring was illegal.

The farmer said that as part of his daily production he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone. The milk was not being labelled or identified as being different from produce derived from a cow born naturally.

The farmer, who wanted to remain anonymous because he feared that consumers would stop buying his milk, made the claim to the International Herald Tribune.

He also said he was selling embryos from the same cow to breeders in Canada.

Earlier this month the European Parliament voted to ban the sale of meat and dairy products from clones and their offspring. However, it has yet to pass into law.

Under European law, foodstuffs produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and get approval before they are marketed. The FSA, the body responsible for assessing so-called novel foods, said it had not made any authorisations nor been asked to do so.

The cows being used to produce the milk started life in the United States as embryos created from the eggs of cloned cows and the sperm of normal bulls. The embryos were frozen and flown to Britain where they were implanted into host cows. The offspring produce higher quantities of milk than normal cows.

In 2007 it was disclosed that eight cloned cows were born this way on British farms, including one in Shropshire.

Research has identified concerns for the health of animals produced as a result of cloning. There is some evidence of premature births and deformities. However, an FSA spokesman said: “Based on the best available evidence, there are no food safety concerns surrounding consumption of products from healthy clones or their offspring.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/7921636/Milk-from-offspring-of-cloned-cow-sold-in-Britain.html

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #396 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:02am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:52am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Good evening Pen!
You got pretty darn close to that guy!!!!!!!
Crystal


Morning Crys... smiley

He wasn't that big.... but boy did he have an evil look in his eye.... Now if it had been a salt water croc.... I would have been running in the other direction..... They grow huge....and are known man eaters.

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« Reply #397 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:05am »

Telegraph

Naked woman falls through roof
A naked couple who clambered to the top of a building triggered a full-scale rescue by the emergency services after the woman plunged through the roof.

By Simon Johnson
Published: 4:44PM BST 30 Jul 2010

Eyewitnesses reported the pair “rolling about” in the nude on top of a four-storey building in Aberdeen city centre before she fell through the slates.

Two fire engines, three ambulances and several police cars were called to the scene at around 11am, as crowds of shoppers looked on in amazement.

The busy road was closed for more than an hour as firefighters broke into the Bridge Street building, which houses a mixture of flats, shops and restaurants, and searched for the pair.

The woman, believed to be in her 30s, was led out by paramedics with mud and cuts on her face and taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in an ambulance.

A man, thought to be in his mid-20s, was led out by police officers 30 minutes later and driven off in the back of a police car. Both were dressed by the time they emerged.

Two shocked joiners, who were working in the building, raised the alarm after they saw the couple attempting to break into an adjoining premises.

One of the workmen, who didn't want to be named, said: “We couldn't believe our eyes. We were both working to secure one of the empty premises when we see these two folk naked at the window.

“I don't know how they accessed that part of the building, but they were rolling about the roof naked. They had mud all over them.

“Then I saw the lassie falling through the roof. It's full of asbestos."

The other joiner added: “They looked crazy. It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen.”

A Grampian Police spokesman confirmed the woman “appeared to be okay”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7919219/Naked-woman-falls-through-roof.html

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« Reply #398 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:09am »

Telegraph

The conservation of luck
In the first of a new series, Ian Stewart, a professor of mathematics at Warwick University, takes a look at how we perceive luck and chance.

By Ian Stewart
Published: 1:00PM BST 02 Aug 2010

“A friend of mine won seven million on the Lottery,” said the chap next to me in the gym. “That’s the end of my chances. You can’t win if you know someone who has.”

There are as many urban myths about the National Lottery as there are legs on a millipede, but I’d not come across this one before. It set me wondering: why do people so readily believe this kind of thing?

Think about it. In order for the statement to be true, the Lotto machine has to somehow be influenced by your network of friends and acquaintances. It has to know whether any of them has won before, and then take steps to avoid your particular choice of numbers - which means that it also has to know what you have chosen. In fact, all 11 Lotto machines must know this, because the one used each week is itself chosen at random.

Since a Lotto machine is an inanimate mechanical device, this doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

The maths is straightforward. Each week, the chance of any particular set of six numbers winning the jackpot is 1 in 13,983,816. That’s because there are that many possible combinations of numbers, and each is equally likely to occur. If not, the machine would be biased, and it is designed to avoid that.

So it seems clear that the explanation for the myth must lie in human psychology, rather than probability theory.

A possible reason is an unconscious belief in magic, here manifesting itself as luck. If you think that luck is a real thing that people possess, and it improves their chances, and if you think that there is only a certain amount of luck to go round --- then perhaps your fortunate friend has used up all the luck in your neighbourhood. Which in this instance seems to be your social network.

Omigod. Can you tweet your luck away? Put your luck on Facebook for your so-called friends to steal? It’s a nightmare!

Or maybe the underlying idea is like the person who takes a bomb on board an aircraft whenever they travel, on the grounds that the chance of two bombs on the same plane is infinitesimal. It’s true that most Lottery winners do not have friends who are also winners. So, if you want to be a winner, avoid having such friends. Actually, most Lottery winners lack winning friends because there are relatively few winners.

As a mathematician, knowing that the odds are firmly against me, and not finding the alleged thrill of gambling worth the virtual certainty of throwing my hard-earned money down the drain, I never bet on the Lottery. But I have, over the years, been inadvertently betting on a lottery of my own: writing a bestseller. I haven’t won the jackpot (yet?) but I’ve definitely come out ahead.

A few weeks ago it was announced that the author JK Rowling (you know what she’s written) became Britain’s first self-made female billionaire. That’s five hundred times the size of a typical Lotto jackpot. And there are a lot fewer than 14 million writers in Britain.

The odds are far more favourable. Stuff the Lottery. Write a book.

Ian Stewart FRS is an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/7921859/The-conservation-of-luck.html

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« Reply #399 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:11am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:02am, Luvey wrote:
Morning Crys... smiley

He wasn't that big.... but boy did he have an evil look in his eye.... Now if it had been a salt water croc.... I would have been running in the other direction..... They grow huge....and are known man eaters.

Pen


Well you have some big cahones for getting that close to a wee croc! He does look cranky.
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« Reply #400 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:16am »

Phantoms and Monsters

Sunday, August 01, 2010
Legendary Humanoids: Banshee, Harbinger of Death
Some mythical creatures have their origin in tradition and tales from the distant past. However, each culture is associated with a multitude of interesting and odd creatures, many of these beings are humanoids. One of these legendary humanoids is the Banshee.

The Banshee, from the Irish bean-sídhe ("woman of the síde" or "woman of the fairy mounds") is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. Her Scottish counterpart is the bean shìth.

According to tradition, the Banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list. The Banshee can appear in a variety of guises, most often as an ugly, frightening hag, but can also appear as a beautiful woman of any age. In some tales, the figure who first appears to be a Banshee is later revealed to be the Irish battle goddess, the Morrígan. The hag may also appear as a washer-woman who cleans the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. Although not always visible, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die and usually near woodlands. The Banshee may also appear in a variety of other forms, such as that of a crow, hare and weasel, most any animal associated in Ireland with witchcraft. Banshees are frequently described as dressed in white or grey, often having long, fair hair which they brush with a silver comb.

In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seeress or banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. This is an example of the banshee in human form. There are records of several human banshees or prophetesses attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings.

In Welsh folklore, a Banshee-like entity is referred to as the Hag of the Mist (Gwrach-y-Rhibyn or the Cyoeraeth). Like the Banshee, the Hag of the Mist is portrayed as an ugly woman, whose shriek or cry is said to forewarn of misfortune or death. Often invisible, she can sometimes be seen at a crossroads or stream when the mist rises. If it is death that is coming, the name of the one doomed to die will be heard in her "shrill tenor". The misfortune may be coming to the person hearing her voice, or to someone in their family.

There are also tales of a Banshee in the Badlands of South Dakota. Thought to have been either a white victim of a red man's jealousy or an Indian woman who was killed there, the Banshee's cries have chilled the blood of many cowboys and prospectors. By moonlight, when the scenery is most suggestive and unearthly, and the noises of wolves and owls inspire uneasy feelings, the Banshee is seen with her hair blowing, her arms tossing in strange gestures.

If war parties, emigrants, cowboys, hunters, any who for good or ill are going through haunted country, the rocks are lighted with phosphor flashes and the Banshee sweeps upon them. As if wishing to speak, or as if waiting a question that it has occurred to none to ask, she stands beside them in an attitude of appeal, but if asked what she wants she flings her arms aloft and with a shriek that echoes through the blasted gulches for a mile she disappears and an instant later is seen wringing her hands.

Sometimes the Banshee is accompanied by an unfleshed skeleton that trudges about the ash and clay and haunts the camps in a search for music. If he hears it he will sit outside the door and nod in time to it, while a violin left within his reach is eagerly seized and will be played on through half the night.

http://naturalplane.blogspot.com/2010/08/legendary-humanoids-banshee-harbinger.html

Crystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #401 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:21am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:11am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Well you have some big cahones for getting that close to a wee croc! He does look cranky.
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I had my burly husband beside me..... grin Made me brave.... laugh

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #402 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 09:43am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 06:00am, philliman wrote:
Beautiful pics everyone. And thanks for that beautiful vid, SR!

Yes, we're so preprogrammed to fear anything which is alien, isn't it. Fear the Greys, fear the Reppies, fear the Nordics, Insectoids, Shadow Beings etc. etc. If you talk to people who have encountered such a being it appears that most of them had no reason to fear them at all.

Oh, wait...eyecandy. wink

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And lovely eyecandy it is grin
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #403 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 11:09am »

Hello Crystal, Pen and Carol. Glad you like that pic. smiley
on Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:46am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
The Hill

K Street feels it's being unfairly targeted by bill disclosing lobbying violators
By Kevin Bogardus - 08/01/10 04:14 PM ET

K Street is blaming the politics of the 2010 midterm elections for a new bill that would toughen lobbying law enforcement.

The House unanimously passed legislation last week that would disclose suspected violators of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) for the first time to the public. The bill would also set up a Justice Department taskforce to investigate those cases, likely upping the law’s lax enforcement.
...

Am looking forward if anything changes. Possibly just for the less powerful lobbyists. rolleyes
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #404 on: Aug 2nd, 2010, 11:23am »

on Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:21am, Luvey wrote:
I had my burly husband beside me..... grin Made me brave.... laugh

Pen


And if that croc had moved a hair you both would have probably run like heck! grin
Crystal
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