Climate science discovers more bad news

❝ A new US government report delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP — by the end of the century.

❝ The federally mandated study was supposed to come out in December but was released by the Trump administration on Friday, at a time when many Americans are on a long holiday weekend, distracted by family and shopping…

“The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities,” NOAA’s David Easterling said…

❝ The report’s findings run counter to President Donald Trump’s consistent message that climate change is a hoax.

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?” as some Americans faced the coldest Thanksgiving in over a century.

But the science explained in these and other federal government reports is clear: Climate change is not disproved by the extreme weather of one day or a week; it’s demonstrated by long-term trends. Humans are living with the warmest temperatures in modern history…

History will answer whether Trump is a pathological liar, incredibly ignorant or just a crook! Meanwhile, we need to get on with trying to turn the United States to playing a constructive and useful role in economics and environmental health.

Snopes’ Field Guide to Fake News Sites and Hoax Purveyors


Click to reach the story

I hope you’ve realized by now that Trump, the Alt-Right flavor of racists and bigots, know-nothings and nutballs, aren’t going to disappear the day after the election. Aside from deliberate hoaxters – who think they contribute to humor – the truthiness brigade of white nationalists and conspiracy nutballs will roll right along.

There are sufficient nooks and crannies in the Web and uneducated American brains to store their lies and slander for centuries. But, please, don’t get used to it. Among other resources, check in with snopes.com every now and then. Please.

Piltdown Man: on the trail of the hoaxer


Charles Dawson on the left in the photo – and the oval inset

It was a shocker, no doubt about it. The Piltdown Man scandal is arguably the greatest scientific fraud ever perpetrated in the UK.

When the fake remains of our earliest ancestor were unmasked for what they really were, shame was heaped on the research establishment. But exactly 100 years to the week that this extraordinary hoax was presented to the world, the Piltdown Man “fossils” are back in the lab and the subject of serious study.

The intention is not to try to re-authenticate them; rather, the purpose is to try to identify once and for all who was responsible for the deception.

The majority view is that it was Charles Dawson, a solicitor, antiquarian and amateur palaeontologist from the southern English county of Sussex.

He was at hand for most of the major “discoveries” at the dig sites on the edge of Piltdown village.

Most people believe his hand was responsible for planting the key faux specimens in local gravels…

But although chemical testing finally exposed the fraud in 1953, there has always been some doubt over the culprit’s true identity.

Hence, the new battery of testing now under way, which aims to close the book on the remaining uncertainty, according to Prof Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum.

“What we’re trying to do is apply forensic level techniques to this material,” he told the BBC World Service Discovery programme…

You would be forgiven for thinking that the British scientific community would really have liked to pack the Piltdown specimens in a box and have them crushed. But the memory and interest is maintained, if for no other reason than the whole affair serves as a warning for how things can go horribly wrong.

That said, it proves also the power of the scientific method ultimately to find the truth. Prevalent theories stand or fall in the face of constant questioning; and although it took 40 years to finally unmask the deceit, the Piltdown claims were looking ragged long before their eventual collapse because of truly compelling discoveries made elsewhere in the world.

I’m already a forensics nut. Combine that with a detective story decades old and archaeology and I’m hooked.

It’s certainly worthwhile tracing the bits and pieces that went into this hoax. Especially if researchers can tie everything down to one person. Case closed.

Dumb crooks of the day


Police Constables Andy Clare and Steve Browett with boxes of bait for dumb fish

Police arrested 19 wanted criminals after pretending they had won free beer to trick them into coming forward.

Undercover officers with Derbyshire police sent letters to dozens of people who had evaded arrest asking them to ring a marketing company to collect a free crate of beer.

A total of 19 suspects fell for the hoax and called the number which put them through to police officers based at Chesterfield Police Station.

A time and date was arranged for the free alcohol to be dropped off at an agreed address. But instead of being handed free ale the wanted men found themselves confronted by police, handcuffed and under arrest.

Chief Inspector Graham McLaughlin, who is leading the sting known as Operation Rocky, said: “These suspects are people who have managed to evade arrest for some time so we have used different tactics to find them…It has been very cost effective as it can take a lot of time and money to track people down…

Alleged offences committed by some of those arrested range from burglary and robbery to a serious sexual assault.

None of which obviously required a whole boatload of brains.

Bomb hoax phone call gets jail time for spurned hubby

A hoax bomber has been jailed for claiming his wife was carrying explosives aboard a transatlantic flight because he wanted to “humiliate” her after their relationship ended.

Kevin Flynn, a 31-year-old chef, phoned police to say a device was being taken on a New York-bound aircraft by his wife, Kerensa, from either Heathrow or Gatwick airport.

Flynn made the anonymous call from a phone box in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, after the couple decided to end their relationship and she was travelling home to the United States…

Judge William Wood QC said: “When there is a chance of large-scale disruption or evacuation of buildings or aeroplanes and airports, this class of misconduct is so serious there is no possibility to do anything but impose an immediate custodial sentence…”

Following the sentencing, a spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Flynn acted without care for any anxiety or disruption he might cause and our investigation and the sentence reflects the seriousness with which we and the courts take such hoaxes.”

RTFA for the details of the soap opera.

Fact is that if the coppers hadn’t been sharp and connected Flynn to an earlier call from his home they might have gone for an emergency evacuation of the plane and the nearby terminal. You don’t always succeed in something like that being safe and orderly. Some innocent person could have been injured in a fear-driven stampede – just for his anger at his wife.

Thoughtless fool makes 18,000 hoax 911 calls

An East Los Angeles man who allegedly made more than 18,000 prank 911 cellphone calls over six months was arrested Friday, the California Highway Patrol said.

Maurice Cruz, 43, was booked on suspicion of misusing 911 emergency lines to annoy or harass, a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail or both. He was released Friday afternoon on $5,000 bail, according to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Inmate Information Center.

I hope that misdemeanor charge can be for each call.

The CHP alleges that Cruz made many of the calls on a deactivated cellphone, which does not provide the caller’s location or phone number, in order to make the calls difficult to trace.

CHP and Secret Service investigators, however, tracked him to a home in East Los Angeles and took him into custody.

I couldn’t wait till the end to comment. Sorry. The sort of egregious, demented dipshit who makes careless use of an emergency service does no good for anyone.

He wastes the cost of the emergency responders who don’t know in advance the calls were a hoax. He threatens the live of those who suffer diminished access to relief when emergency services are drawn away from usefulness – to deal with a hoax.

Throw away the key. That’s the least physically harmful suggestion I might make.

Inventor of holy water makers charged with fraud after customers complain devices don’t work

A South Korean professor who claimed he could make tap water into holy water will face fraud charges, police say.

The man, named as Prof Kim, claimed he could digitally capture the elements of holy water from Lourdes, France, that believers say has healing powers.

He had sold devices to more than 5,000 people, making almost 1.7bn won ($1.3m, £870,000).

Eight people, including Prof Kim’s wife and brother-in-law, will also be charged.

The famous shrine to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes offers water which some believe has healing powers.

Mr Kim had claimed his ceramic and paper filters, and plastic cards used in water purifiers, had captured those powers for onward transmission…

The police also said that the people who had bought the devices had complained when they did not work.

Write your own punchline (if you can come up with anything better than the final line).

Taiwan-China flight forced to land after bomb hoax

An airliner travelling from Taiwan to China made an emergency landing after a passenger jokingly claimed he had a bomb on board, officials say.

The Taipei-Shanghai flight of Taiwan’s China Airlines landed safely in Hangzhou, eastern China, and the passenger was held for questioning.

Police then checked the man’s luggage and found no explosives.

The man – identified only as Lin – later admitted he made the comment as a joke, the officials said.

China Airlines spokesman Bruce Chen said the passenger was travelling on a US passport, the Associated Press reports.

He did not appear to have been drinking excessively, the spokesman added.

So, uh, maybe he was just drinking “enough”?