Seal pup ends up – out of the weather – on car dashboard

A seal pup has been rescued after being spotted in a busy lorry park at a ferry terminal in south west Scotland.

Workers at the Cairnryan port spotted the six-week-old earlier this month…Despite their best efforts to encourage it back into the water the pup refused to go and so the Scottish SPCA was called in.

One ferry worker tried to put the animal in the boot of his car to keep it safe – but it broke out and was found on the dashboard.

The pup – which has been named Smartie – was recovered by Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer Alistair Hill…He said the weather in the area had been “particularly bad” at the time with strong winds and stormy seas…

“The seal pup had made its way into the lorry park via a steep, man-made banking,” he said…”It would have taken a lot of effort for him to get up there and he had no intention of returning to the choppy waters.

“Normally we’d ask people to leave seals alone until we arrive but there was a risk he could have been injured in the busy lorry park so a member of staff put him in their car until I got there.”

However, the seal managed to escape from the boot by pushing down one of the rear seats and wriggling up onto the dashboard.

He is clearly a very smart seal as he ended up watching the storm out the windscreen of the car from his warm, dry spot on the dash,” said Mr Hill

The seal is recovering from his adventure at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre near Alloa.

Good for you, Smartie.

Cardinal Mahony versus the Truth


Washing away responsibility is as easy as ignoring crimes

No member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy fought longer and more energetically than Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles to conceal the decades-long scandal involving the rape and intimidation of children by rogue priests. For years, the cardinal withheld seamy church records from parents, victims and the public, brandishing endless litigation and fatuous claims of confidentiality.

The breadth of Cardinal Mahony’s cover-up became shockingly clear last week with the release in court of archdiocese records detailing how he and a top aide concocted cynical strategies to keep police authorities in the dark and habitual offenders beyond the reach of criminal prosecution.

“Sounds good — please proceed!” the cardinal, now retired, instructed in 1987 after the aide, Msgr. Thomas Curry, cautioned against therapy for one confessed predator — lest the therapist feel obliged to tell authorities and scandalize the archdiocese. The two discussed another priest, Msgr. Peter Garcia, who admitted specializing in the rape of Latino immigrant children and threatened at least one boy with deportation if he complained. Cardinal Mahony ordered that he stay out of California after his release from a New Mexico treatment center out of fear that “we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors.” Monsignor Curry worried that there might be 20 young people able to identify the priest in “first-degree felony” cases.

It was the cardinal’s obligation under the primacy of secular law to instantly notify authorities of any priest’s criminal behavior. Instead, he invoked a nonexistent church privilege to hide miscreant clergy and shield the church and his own reputation. Cardinal Mahony has repeatedly apologized in recent years and insisted that the archdiocese was mending its ways. A lawyer for the archdiocese insisted that the scandal and the cardinal’s cover-up were “part of the past.” Not really. While statutes of limitations on possible criminal charges may have run out, Cardinal Mahony and his former aide could be deposed in civil suits. Monsignor Curry also managed to advance up the hierarchical ladder and would seem to merit instant removal from his current post as auxiliary bishop for Santa Barbara.

Religions that reward corruption and collusion deserve investigation and special watchdogs. We do it to corporations which persistently operate outside the laws of state and civil decency. Seems to me there’s no reason to exempt the Roman Catholic church from the same sort of scrutiny.

And speaking of exemptions — how about paying taxes?

Berlusconi commemorates the Holocaust by defending Mussolini

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi triggered outrage from Italy’s political left on Sunday with comments defending fascist wartime leader Benito Mussolini at a ceremony commemorating victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Speaking at the margins of the event in Milan, Berlusconi said Mussolini had been wrong to follow Nazi Germany’s lead in passing anti-Jewish laws but that he had in other respects been a good leader.

“…the government of that time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler’s Germany rather than opposing it,” he said.

“As part of this alliance, there were impositions, including combating and exterminating Jews,” he told reporters. “The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well,” he said, referring to laws passed by Mussolini’s fascist government in 1938…

Berlusconi’s comments overshadowed Sunday’s commemoration of thousands of Jews and others deported from Italy to the Nazi death camps of eastern Europe. They were condemned as “disgusting” by the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which is leading in the polls ahead of the February 24-25 election.

“Our republic is based on the struggle against Nazi fascism and these are intolerable remarks which are incompatible with leadership of democratic political forces,” said Marco Meloni, the PD’s spokesman for institutional affairs.

Antonio Ingroia, a former anti-mafia magistrate campaigning at the head of a separate left-wing coalition, said Berlusconi was “a disgrace to Italy“…

“We must be very careful to ensure that these sparks, which recur every now and then, cannot bring back tragedies which humanity should not suffer again,” outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday.

Berlusconi has always been the sort of opportunistic pig who would grovel for support from the bigots and racists still powerful in corporate Italy. Mussolini didn’t hesitate to imprison and torture jews – but also gypsies, members of the socialist and communist opposition, ordinary democrats who spoke out against his alliance with other fascists ranging from Horthy in Hungary to Hitler in Germany.

That he spent a portion of the national budget on infrastructure is only a symptom of a cunning swine – not largesse doled out to a needy populace. He did little more than the Mafia has ever done within their own fiefdoms. Criminals and gangsters who practice sufficient diplomacy to provide rationales for collaborators.

Afflicted with migraine headaches? Stay away from lightning!

University of Cincinnati researchers have found that lightning may affect the onset of headache and migraines.

These results, published in the Jan. 24, 2013 online edition of the journal Cephalalgia, are the first tying lightning to headache and could help chronic sufferers more efficiently anticipate headache and migraine arrival and begin preventive treatment immediately.

Geoffrey Martin and his father, Vincent Martin, MD, led the study which showed that there was a 31 percent increased risk of headache and 28 percent increased risk of migraine for chronic headache sufferers on days lighting struck within 25 miles of study participants’ homes.

In addition, new-onset headache and migraine increased by 24 percent and 23 percent in participants.

“Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches,” Geoffrey Martin says. “However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches…”

“We used mathematical models to determine if the lightning itself was the cause of the increased frequency of headaches or whether it could be attributed to other weather factors encountered with thunderstorms,” says Vincent Martin. “Our results found a 19 percent increased risk for headaches on lightning days, even after accounting for these weather factors. This suggests that lightning has its own unique effect on headache.”

He says that negatively charged lightning currents were also particularly associated with a higher chance of headache.

Nothing definitive derived from the study. Further work needed to focus deeper on cause-and-effect relationships. Of course.

By the same token, I’d suggest staying away from lightning is better for your health – for any reason. 🙂