Republican halts unemployment, health payments

Just another example of how democracy is not permitted in the U.S. Senate.

Bunning of Kentucky says “No” – once again
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Resorting to an old-fashioned one-man filibuster, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) is blocking an extension of unemployment benefits and health insurance payments for hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans because of his concerns over the federal budget deficit.

The programs are set to expire at midnight Sunday, and the Senate’s inaction could delay payments.

Democratic and Republican leaders had agreed to pass a one-month extension through a process known as unanimous consent, in which no formal vote was required. But Bunning’s objection means the bill can’t go forward. The extension had been passed by the House and was ready to be signed into law…

“The simple fact of the matter is that this is an emergency situation and should be treated as such,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).Bunning has refused to yield as a wave of senators criticized him…

The White House joined in Friday, with spokesman Robert Gibbs saying, “These are the type of games that the American people fail to understand.”

Bunning is retiring to country club life in Kentucky. I think he has enough stashed from his career in Congress to skip the typical lobbyist gig after he’s out of office. says he’s worth between $½ million an $1 million. Think that’s enough for him to feel comfortable?

Giant predatory shark fossil unearthed in Kansas

Critter probably looked like this Nurse Shark – but BIGGER

The fossilised remains of a gigantic 10m-long predatory shark have been unearthed in Kansas.

Scientists dug up a gigantic jawbone, teeth and scales belonging to the shark which lived 89 million years ago.

The bottom-dwelling predator had huge tooth plates, which it likely used to crush large shelled animals such as giant clams.

Palaeontologists already knew about the shark, but the new specimen suggests it was far bigger than previously thought…

Dr Kenshu Shimada of DePaul university in Chicago, Illinois, US found the fossilized remains of the shark in rocks known as the Fort Hays Limestone in Kansas.

“Kansas back then was smack in the middle of an inland sea known as the Western Interior Seaway that extended in a north-south direction across North America,” says Dr Shimada…

“Although it represents a fraction of the entire body of the shark, the jaw fragment is gigantic. The estimated jaw length was almost 1m long, and that would suggest that the shark was likely at least 10m in length,” says Dr Shimada.

No doubt, our flat-Earth and creationist cousins in Kansas presume this is just leftover from the last catfish fry.

8.8 Earthquake hits Chile. Tsunami warnings throughout Pacific!

At the time of this posting, we are about 1 hour away from a tsunami hitting Hawaii.

A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake has rocked Chile, killing at least 147 people, bringing down homes and other buildings and causing tsumani warnings, watches and alerts in many parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Rescue workers rushed to the scene after the earthquake struck early Saturday several hundred kilometers southwest of the capital Santiago, about 100 kilometers from Concepcion, Chile’s second largest metropolitan area.

A rescue official said the number of dead was rising. Bodies were recovered in several regions. Power was cut off in many parts of the capital, and elsewhere as well.

Predictions on TV say an 8-foot wave is expected to hit Hawaii. The U.S. Navy has started pulling ships out of harbors and heading out to sea. Tsunami alarms have already been activated throughout the Hawaiian Islands.


10-15 minutes to go. Understand the first wave ain’t always the worst; but, prospects are looking better. The Marquesas expected 12 feet – and got 6 feet.

UPDATE: Tsunami warning called off in the last hour.

Baloney Detection Kit

This is one of those worthwhile short lectures I need to keep in mind on the blog for whenever an avatar of “let’s pretend to be a skeptic” shows up like “jonolan” at this iceberg post.

There is no perception whatsoever of scientific methodology much less any useful processes for examining the bullshit he believes – other than that it fulfills his political preconceptions. No inclination to read, to check sources on either side of the questions he’s decided. Still, the suggestion to view this video should be made.

When Jägermeister suggested this video, he noted it might be needed most of all over at the “big blog” where I’m senior contributing editor. Though he doubted if there would be much attention paid.

I agree. I think it would be ignored – except by the more fanatical nutballs.

Though I may still offer it.

Thanks, Jägermeister

Plastic rubbish blights Atlantic Ocean

Typical plastic debris collected in a surface plankton net

Scientists have discovered an area of the North Atlantic Ocean where plastic debris accumulates. The region is said to compare with the well-documented “great Pacific garbage patch”.

Kara Lavender Law of the Sea Education Association told the BBC that the issue of plastics had been “largely ignored” in the Atlantic.

She announced the findings of a two-decade-long study at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon, US. The work is the conclusion of the longest and most extensive record of plastic marine debris in any ocean basin…

The researchers carried out 6,100 tows in areas of the Caribbean and the North Atlantic – off the coast of the US. More than half of these expeditions revealed floating pieces of plastic on the water surface…

“We found a region fairly far north in the Atlantic Ocean where this debris appears to be concentrated and remains over long periods of time,” she explained. “More than 80% of the plastic pieces we collected in the tows were found between 22 and 38 degrees north. So we have a latitude for [where this] rubbish seems to accumulate.”

The maximum “plastic density” was 200,000 pieces of debris per square kilometre. “That’s a maximum that is comparable with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Dr Lavender Law.

But she pointed out that there was not yet a clear estimate of the size of the patches in either the Pacific or the Atlantic.

“You can think of it in a similar way [to the Pacific Garbage Patch], but I think the word ‘patch’ can be misleading. This is widely dispersed and it’s small pieces of plastic,” she said.

The impacts on the marine environment of the plastics were still unknown, added the researcher. “But we know that many marine organisms are consuming these plastics and we know this has a bad effect on seabirds in particular,” she told BBC News.

Human beings would probably continue to crap in an open sewer in the middle of the street if someone didn’t pass a law against it.

Dumb crook of the day

A German robber held up the same bank in Hamburg twice within 24 hours just a week after being released from jail — for the same crime.

A police spokesman said on Friday the 50-year-old man went into a savings bank in the center of the northern port city and flashed a pistol, saying: “I was here yesterday, and I want money again today!”

The repeat offender made off with 450 euros but with the help of video surveillance cameras, police were able to detain him three hours later. They said he had been in jail for robbing banks in Hamburg in 2002 and 2004.

Next time, he walks into the bank, the tellers will probably greet him by name. But, hopefully, not for several years.

Organiser of Darkmarket fraudsters jailed

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A man who created a website trading in stolen financial information linked to tens of millions of pounds in losses has been jailed for nearly five years.

Renukanth Subramaniam, 33, founded Darkmarket, a “Facebook for fraudsters” where criminals could buy and sell credit card details and bank log-ins.

The site was shut down in 2008 after an FBI agent infiltrated it, leading to more than 60 arrests worldwide.

Subramaniam admitted conspiracy to defraud at Blackfriars Crown Court. He also pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud…

Prosecutor Sandip Patel said the case was “extraordinary” because it was founded and promoted over the internet. “They were able to utilise modern technology in a way which gave them the capability to commit theft on an unprecedented scale… with no more than a dishonest will, a laptop, a mouse and internet access,” he said. “In short, it was a Facebook for fraudsters…”

It even operated a secure payment system, allowing users to “review” the criminal services on offer – creating a “one-stop-shop for criminals the world over”…

Also sentenced was Darkmarket user John McHugh, 66, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, who had the sign in “Devilman” and created fake credit cards that were sold through the site.

He was jailed for two years for conspiracy to defraud.

Sounds like it couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple of guys.

The prosecutor made a useful point about this lot setting up a criminal enterprise based on incompetent security – and figuring because they used internet cafes and thumb drives, they were bound to be secure enough.