Monday, January 26, 2015

Strange New Tattoo Discovered On 'Ötzi The Iceman' Mummy

Researchers in Italy announced this week that they had discovered a strange new tattoo on the ribcage of the 5,300-year-old mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman.
The find raises to 61 the number of Ötzi's known tattoos, and it came as a big surprise.

"We didn't expect to find a tattoo on the thoracic, as all the other tattoos are mainly close to joints and on his lower back and legs," Dr. Albert Zink, director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano and one of the scientists behind the discovery, told The Huffington Post in an email.

Ötzi's newly discovered tattoo, on the lower right side of the mummy's chest.
Ötzi was discovered in 1991 by a pair of German hikers in the Otztal Alps, near the border between Austria and Italy. Since then, researchers have conducted many studies on the remarkably well-preserved mummy. In addition to finding scores of tattoos, they've determined that the Iceman was likely about 45 years old at the time of his death and that he suffered from heart disease, Lyme disease, tooth decay, and joint pain.
For the new research, Zink and his colleagues used a non-invasive photography technique to study Ötzi's skin from different angles and in multiple wavelengths. 
The analysis revealed the new tattoo hidden in deeper layers of Ötzi's dark-colored skin.
The tattoo consists of four parallel lines measuring 20 to 25 millimeters, RedOrbit reported. The researchers believe these markings were made by incisions into which charcoal was rubbed.
Since many of the Iceman's tattoos correspond to classic acupuncture points, the researchers previously thought that they were applied as part of a treatment for joint pain. But the new tattoo throws that theory into question, since it isn't located near a joint, according to Zink--though it may have been used as some sort of treatment for chest pain.
Whatever its purpose, the tattoo brings a sense of closure to Zink and his collaborators.
"For us, it was important to have finally (after more than 20 years) the exact number and location of all tattoos," Zink said in the email. "This work can now be used for further studies that will focus on the reason why the tattoos were made."

A paper describing the new found tattoo was published online Jan. 20, 2015 in the Journal of Cultural Heritage.

Aunt Jeannie , we asked  mama  to post  this  for  you ,  we  are  studying  it  in Nasa  class .  We  are  studying  the  tattoos , how  and  why .  A mystery  we  think  .
We  love  you 
Jonny and  Chris 

US East Coast Braces For Historic Blizzard Monday

Man grabs one of the few snow shovels left in New Jersey, just outside New York City, as the East Coast of the United States prepares for a blizzard on Sunday, January 25, 2015.Photo by David Handschuh/Yahoo News
Yahoo News - Man grabs one of the few snow shovels left in New Jersey, just outside New York City, as the East Coast of the United States prepares for a blizzard
(Reuters) - A swath of the U.S. East Coast from Philadelphia to New York City to Maine is bracing for a potentially historic blizzard on Monday that is expected to dump as much as 3 feet  of snow and snarl transportation for tens of millions of people.
The National Weather Service on Sunday issued a blizzard warning for the northern section of the East Coast from Monday afternoon until Tuesday, placing states from New Jersey to Indiana under winter storm watches and advisories. Airlines were already canceling hundreds of flights ahead of the storm.
"This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference, saying snowfall could reach up to 3 feet.
De Blasio told residents of America's financial capital and most populous city to stay off the roads and to "prepare for something worse than we have seen before."
The biggest snowfall on record in New York City was the storm of Feb. 11-12, 2006, that dropped 26.9 inches according to the city's Office of Emergency Management.
The NWS called the approaching system a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard," with many areas along the East Coast expected to see between 12 to 24 of snow. The New York City area could be the hardest hit from the storm with lashing winds and snowfall of 30 inches or more in some suburbs.
Delta said on Sunday it was canceling 600 flights because of the blizzard warning for the East Coast. Southwest Airlines said it had canceled about 20 flights and American Airlines had so far canceled a handful.
Cities along the heavily populated East Coast had snowplows and trucks to dispense road salt on standby. Stores have seen a rush of shoppers stocking up on essentials.
"People have been coming in since this morning, buying rock salt and shovels," said Michael Harris, who works at Ace Hardware in Wading River, New York.
The Philadelphia Streets Department said on its Facebook page that crews were preparing for a "messy Monday morning commute." The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation told travelers to postpone travel if necessary and carry emergency kits if they do go out.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation will have its entire fleet of snowplows, including 12 loader-mounted snowblowers, prepared to deploy, the governor's office said.
The NWS expects as much as 8 inches of snow for western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, while parts of New Jersey through eastern Massachusetts may get 6 to 12 inches of snow by Tuesday morning.

NASA Mission About to Take First Pluto Pictures

The US space agency's mission to Pluto is about to take its first pictures of the mysterious icy world.
The encounter is being billed as the last great exploration of our Solar System. NASA's New Horizons probe set off nine years ago - before Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
 Please tell me when did alcoholism became a disease ? A disease is when the body is ill and not functioning properly .
According to Webster's dictionary , addiction is the quality or state of being addicted , and continues that it is a "compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (as heroin , nicotine , or alcohol) characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal .
So why do alcoholics have a disease and those who abuse drugs are addicts ? Why do we tolerate the double standard ? 
An Alcoholic's Wife 
Dear Alcoholic's Wife,
In 1956 the American Medical Association decided that alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholism, according to the AMA, is a progressive and terminal disease if no intervention occurs. It leads to the break down and failure of the liver, kidneys and heart and affects the brain. There are also genetic and biological markers. They feel that alcoholism fits the definition of both mental and physical disease.
Alcoholism is classified as a 'substance abuse disorder' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Mental and emotional symptoms of alcoholism exist long before the grave physical complications appear. They believe thinking of the condition as a disease diminishes the moral stigma of it and supports the idea that alcoholics aren't responsible for their behavior. And it doesn't cover social and cultural influences that may play a role in alcoholism development.

In 1988, the United States Supreme Court found that alcoholism is always the result of the alcoholics "own willful misconduct." The Supreme Court also listened to the arguments presented in favor of the 'disease' theory of alcoholism and concluded, "the inescapable fact is that there is no set agreement among members of the medical profession about the designation of alcoholism."
In conclusion, maybe the answer lies somewhere between disease and substance abuse (or addiction). They just haven't found a better term to define it.
I know it's hard to stay positive, but hang in there,

Dear Maxy , 
A dear aunt passed away about six weeks ago . Unforfortunately, I could not attend her out-of- town funeral dur to the expense and my own health issues . But I knew she loved a partular flower and I had the florist send some to the funeral home .I have heard nothing from the family , although even a short note would have been appreciated . How do I check to see whether the flowers arrived on time ? I am uncomfortable calling the family . Can I check with the florist ? Have we all lost our manners in this day and age . 
Dumfounded Niece 
Dear Dumfounded Niece ,
It can be difficult  for family  members  to put  aside their grief long enough  to send  thank-you notes  and  other acknowledgments, and it  helps  to have  friends  assist them . Yes , you can  check  with the florist . But  there is nothing  wrong with picking up the phone  to call your  relatives  and express your  condolences , share  memories  of your aunt  and in the course  of  conversation , find out whether  the flowers  were received .

DearMaxy ,
My husband and I will celebrate  our  40th anniversary soon. We've sent out 100 invitations  to a party , and  60 people have responded   saying they  will be in attendance . The final  40 people  have not  RSVP'd as of  yet . I am nervous because my wife  and I took time out  to invite our friends  and they will potentially cost us  time  and money if they don't  show  up . How  much time do you allow  for  guests  to respond  to an invitation ? 
Race Against  Time 
Dear Race Against Time ,
One of the biggest challenges  that party planners  have is  that  increasingly  these days  people  do not RSVP  for events . You are right to be concerned , but  there  are some things  you can do . Start with  checking  with your  caterer  to find out  when you have to give one final  head  count .
This is the number  that is key  for your  budget . When  you feel  you are getting  close  to that date , if  you still have  a large  number  of  people  who have not  responded , you may  want  to pick up  the  phone  or shoot them an email  to double check  their status . You can tell  the truth , that you have to give the caterer  a final count  and want  to know  if they are planning  to attend  your  party .  Do not pressure  them to come  . Simply be  kind  and direct . 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loonie Tumbles as Bank of Canada Cuts Rate

A Canadian dollar or loonie is pictured in North Vancouver, on March 5, 2014. The Canadian dollar was at its lowest levels since April 2009 on Monday morning as oil prices continued to retreat amid a bearish price forecast from investment bank Goldman Sachs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
The Canadian Press - . The Canadian dollar or Loonie was at its lowest levels since April 2009 on Monday morning as oil prices continued to retreat amid a bearish price forecast from

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar plunged more than 1 1/2 U.S. cents Wednesday after the Bank of Canada surprised markets with a quarter-point cut to its key short-term rate. The central bank also trimmed economic growth expectations for Canada because of the collapse in oil prices.
The bank had been universally expected to leave its rate unchanged at one per cent, where it had been since September 2010. However, the bank dropped the rate to 0.75 per cent and said that "the oil price shock increases both downside risks to the inflation profile and financial stability risks."
The loonie tumbled 1.53 cents to 81.07 cents US — its lowest level since late April 2009. It was a second day of heavy losses. A combination of falling oil prices, a weak manufacturing report and an economic downgrade from the International Monetary Fund pushed the loonie down more than one U.S. cent on Tuesday.
Oil prices have plunged 55 per cent since last June amid a glut of supply and have fallen about 40 per cent just since the end of November after OPEC concluded its last meeting with a vow to leave production levels unchanged.
The Bank of Canada said it was projecting real gross domestic product growth will slow to about 1.5 per cent in the first half of this year.
It added that the negative impact of lower oil prices "will gradually be mitigated by a stronger U.S. economy, a weaker Canadian dollar, and the bank’s monetary policy response."
The bank added that it expects Canada’s economy to gradually strengthen in the second half of this year, with real GDP growth averaging 2.1 per cent in 2015 and 2.4 per cent in 2016.
It said that the economy is expected to return to full capacity around the end of 2016, a little later than was expected in October.
Crude oil prices were higher Wednesday ahead of the latest inventory figures from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Meanwhile, there was increasing clarity over what the European Central Bank may deliver in the form of another round of economic stimulus on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the board of the European Central Bank is proposing a substantial program of quantitative easing, which involves a massive round of government bond purchases. The WSJ said the bank would spend about 50 billion euros monthly on the program. Markets had been speculating the central bank would announce a program involving spending between 500 billion and 700 billion euros annually.
Economic growth has been tepid and there have been worries that the region could fall prey to deflationary pressures, a situation where businesses and consumers hold off on purchases in the hope that items will just get cheaper.

State of the Union Victory Lap

President Barack Obama winks during the State of the Union address.

On Tuesday night President Barack Obama faced a vexing challenge. How can he give a policy speech to a Congress that has little interest in what he has to say?
With the present effectively off the table, Mr Obama spent his time looking back - and forward.
Although the president said early in his 2015 State of the Union address that "tonight, we turn a page", it became obvious early on that he wasn't going to touch the book until he got in a few last words.
"America, for all that we've endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this," he said, "the shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
The words "victory lap" were bandied about by numerous commentators, as the president basked in the glow of an economy that is showing signs of life and approval ratings that, albeit ever so slightly, are on the rise. And although all this is happening as Republicans take over both houses of Congress for the first time since 2007, it did little to darken his mood.
"He asserted that the brightening economic picture - including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices - had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along," writes the Washington Post's David Nakamura.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  David Frum says Barack Obama is trying to 'box in' Hillary Clinton
"More than anything," says the Christian Science Monitor's Linda Feldmann, "the speech was a consummate display of political bravado."
It was an attitude that liberals enjoyed, but it left some conservatives grousing that the president's speech was more appropriate as "fantasy fiction for tweens", in the words of the New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.
CNN analyst Ruben Navarrette writes that the whole premise of the speech is "ridiculous".
"The president has just suffered a clear repudiation of his policies, and, instead of backing up and recalibrating his strategy for getting things done in a landscape that has changed dramatically, he's doubling down on his bet," he writes. "That's not leadership. It's hubris."
After painting a rosy picture of the nation's current condition, leavened with a few I told you so's, the president proceeded to launch into a more traditional State of the Union list of Democratic policy priorities - minimum-wage increases, addressing climate change, greater funding for education and tax reform that includes closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
He labelled his program "middle-class economics", and said policies like these will "continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way".
This, then, was the president's pivot to the future - his attempt to define terrain for the campaigns of 2016, when control of the presidency and both houses of Congress will be up to the voters.
"When Obama proposes progressive policies like these, he's playing a longer game - guiding Democrats on the Hill as they battle against Republican budgets, or laying out a menu of policies for his successor, who might have better luck with Congress," writes the New Republic's Brian Beutler.
He continues: "Seven years into Obama's presidency, the US economy is finally growing rapidly enough to boost his popularity and to sell the country on the idea that Obama's brand of - building out and improving existing institutions, directing resources through them to the middle class- has worked, and should serve as a beacon not just for liberals, but for conservatives aspiring to recapture the presidency."
Of course it's impossible to talk about 2016 presidential politics without acknowledging the looming presence of as-yet-unannounced-candidate Hillary Clinton. Given that she would be the prohibitive favourite for the Democratic nomination should she decide to run, was Mr Obama's speech a boost or a shot across the bow?
By proposing policies he has no hope of passing in this Congress, writes the Atlantic's David Frum, Mr Obama's "intent, pretty obviously, is to box in his presumptive successor as head of the Democratic Party". Obama's priority over the next two years seems to be to encourage Hillary Clinton to campaign and govern on his terms."
Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer and Margaret Talev say that the president's speech "gives a major boost" to members of the Democratic Party's populist wing, led by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Even if Ms Warren doesn't run for president - and so far she's been adamant that she is not - Mr Obama's speech was a warning to Ms Clinton that she needs to watch her left flank during the primary voting.
Beutler says that talk of friction between Ms Clinton and Mr Obama are overblown, however. He notes that key members of the president's inner circle are quietly moving into the former secretary of state's incipient campaign.
Instead, he says, Mr Obama's speech is laying the groundwork for Ms Clinton's campaign - one that will address income inequality and the lack of wage growth.
Although a lot can happen in two years, it appears that both parties are acknowledging that the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of US society resonates with the voting public. Ms Clinton has given speeches on the subject, and possible Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have also addressed it.
Will 2016 be the income inequality election? If it is, Mr Obama made clear in his State of the Union that he wants to be part of that debate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ISIS Threatens to Kill Two Japanese Hostages

Jihadi John
A man resembling 'Jihadi John' is in the video threatening the two Japanese men

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, escorts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. An online video released Tuesday purported to show the Islamic State group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive a $200 million ransom in the next 72 hours. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
The Canadian Press - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, escorts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the Palestinian Authority headquarters

The Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive $200 million in 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom, Tuesday, from Japan's premier during his visit to the Middle East. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to save the men, saying: "Their lives are the top priority."
Abe and other Japanese officials declined to discuss whether they'd pay the ransom for captives Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, though their armed forces generally only operate in a self-defence capacity at home. Their kidnapping also immediately recalled the 2004 beheading of a Japanese backpacker in Iraq, carried out by the Islamic State group's predecessor over Japan's involvement in the U.S.-led war there.
Tuesday's video, identified as being made by the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm and posted on militant websites associated with the extremist group, mirrored other hostage threats it has made. Japanese officials said they would analyze the tape to verify its authenticity, though Abe offered no hesitation as he pledged to free the men while speaking to journalists in Jerusalem.
"It is unforgivable," said Abe as he wrapped up a six-day visit to the Middle East. He added: "Extremism and Islam are completely different things."
In the video, the two men appear in orange jumpsuits with a rocky hill in the background, a masked militant dressed in black standing between them. The scene resembles others featuring the five hostages previously beheaded by the Islamic State group, which controls a third of Iraq and Syria.
"To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometres (5,280 miles) from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade," says the knife-brandishing militant, who resembles and sounds like a British militant involved in other filmed beheadings. "You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims ... and in an attempt to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, you have also donated another $100 million to train the (apostates)."
The militant's comments likely refer to money Abe pledged while in Egypt to help Iraq's government and aid Syrian refugees.

Abe said he would send Yasuhide Nakayama, a deputy foreign minister, to Jordan to seek the country's support and to resolve the hostage crisis. The premier also said the Israeli government, which Japan promised Sunday to co-operate with on counterterrorism, are sharing information to aid in the hostage crisis. The Israeli prime minister's office declined to comment.
Speaking in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also declined to say whether Japan would pay the ransom.
Yukawa, a 42-year-old private military company operator, was kidnapped in Syria in August after going there to train with militants, according to a post on a blog he kept. Pictures on his Facebook page show him in Iraq and Syria in July. One video on his page showed him holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle with the caption: "Syria war in Aleppo 2014."
"I cannot identify the destination," Yukawa wrote in his last blog post. "But the next one could be the most dangerous." He added: "I hope to film my fighting scenes during an upcoming visit."
Nobuo Kimoto, an adviser to Yukawa's company, told Japanese public television station NHK that he had worried "something like this could happen sooner or later."
"I was afraid that they could use Yukawa as a card," Kimoto said.
Goto, 47, is a respected Japanese freelance journalist who went to report on Syria's civil war last year.
"I'm in Syria for reporting," Goto wrote in an email to an Associated Press journalist in October. "I hope I can convey the atmosphere from where I am and share it."
The Islamic State group has beheaded and shot dead hundreds of captives — mainly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers — during its sweep across the two countries, and has celebrated its mass killings in extremely graphic videos. The group also beheaded American hostages James Foley and Peter Kassig, Israeli-American Steven Sotloff, and British captives David Haines and Alan Henning.
The group still holds British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in other extremist propaganda videos, and a 26-year-old American woman captured last year in Syria while working for aid groups. U.S. officials have asked that the woman not be identified out of fears for her safety.
Japan's military has been constrained by the country's commitment to pacifism in the constitution drafted during the American occupation following World War II. Abe is seeking to raise Japan's military capabilities and expand its reach, but he has ruled out sending troops overseas. It remains unclear whether Japan would ask the U.S., which has launched previous operations to free hostages in Syria, to attempt a rescue.
Tuesday's video marks the first time an Islamic State group message publicly has demanded cash. The extremists requested $132.5 million (100 million euros) from Foley's parents and political concessions from Washington, though neither granted them during months of negotiations before his killing, U.S. authorities say.
The Islamic State group has suffered recent losses in airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition, and with global oil prices being down, their revenue from selling stolen oil likely has dropped as well. The extremists also have made money from extortion, illicit businesses and other gangland-style criminal activity.
Its militants also recently released some 200 mostly elderly Yazidi hostages in Iraq, fueling speculation by Iraqi officials that the group didn't have the money to care for them.
Japan relies on the Middle East for most of the crude oil it needs to run the world's third-largest economy. It also has been working to build wider economic ties in the region, as with Abe's current Mideast tour.
This is Abe's second Mideast hostage crisis since becoming prime minister. Two years ago, al-Qaida-affiliated militants attacked an Algerian natural gas plant and the ensuing four-day hostage crisis killed 29 insurgents and 37 foreigners, including 10 Japanese who were working for a Yokohama-based engineering company, JCG Corp. Seven Japanese survived.
In 2004, followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq beheaded Japanese backpacker Shosei Koda and wrapped his body in an American flag because of Japan's troops in Iraq doing humanitarian work. A video by al-Zarqawi's group, which later became the Islamic State group, showed Koda begging Japan's then-prime minister to save him. I guess the question is, will Japan pay the ransom or call upon the US and allies to carry out a rescue?

Thanx to the Canadian Press