Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cartoon Justice in Ferguson

In his long questioning about why and how he shot Brown, Wilson mentioned that Brown’s size made him feel “like a five-year-old holding on to the Hulk.” But it’s not just the reference to a professional wrestler that makes the story feel so movie-like. At one point, Wilson said, Brown “had the most intense aggressive face . . . It looked like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

When Brown ran, Wilson said he saw “a cloud of dust behind him.” Now, sometimes there is a literal cloud of dust behind someone when he runs, but, coming after he compared Brown to a horror-story monster, it almost sounds like he’s switching gears and comparing him to a character with almost cartoon-like speed. It’s part of the overall impression Wilson still seems to have of Brown as someone of enormous, outsized power: He’s like Hulk Hogan (a fictionalized version of a real person); he’s like a demon; he’s like a speed demon.
And Wilson’s belief in the almost superhuman power that Brown possesses is his reason for shooting Brown to prevent being hit again: “I’ve already taken two to the face, and the third one could be fatal, if he hit me right.” People do get killed by punches sometimes, but it’s pretty rare for a cop to get killed by a single blow, and Wilson’s belief that it could happen—that it was such a distinct possibility that it was kill or be killed—suggests that he saw Brown as inhumanly strong.

And, for that matter, so does his description of the fatal shooting, where, by his own account, he kept shooting Brown when he wouldn’t stop coming toward him. Not only does this sound like something out of a horror film— you know,... the monster that continues to bear down on you even after being shot several times— but Wilson, once again, went on to portray Brown as superpowered: After the second round of shots, Wilson continued, “it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.”

A lot of Wilson skeptics were nasty about that comment. Some compared this version of Brown to the Hulk, others to Mongo from the movie Blazing Saddles, where the sheriff—a black guy fighting white villains—is told, “Don’t shoot him, you’ll only make him mad.”
The point here is not that none of these things happened; I’m not trying to judge the evidence. I’m just focusing on Wilson’s perspective on the events he describes, and it’s hard not to see that he thinks of Brown, not only as a big, strong, young guy, but as someone whose hugeness and strength defy the laws of nature: His anger is demonic, his speed is physically visible, he can barely be stopped by bullets.
Well, this perspective did not seem implausible to a jury; he was, after all, not indicted, and the prosecutor didn’t even seem to think the case was strong enough to be worth putting before a grand jury in the first place. But it’s hard to look at this testimony and see a cop who knows what life is like on the mean streets. Maybe he does, and he can only explain it in terms of supermen and monsters. Or maybe he thinks he’s a lone super hero, trying to save us all .

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Humans on Mars in 1979 ???

Alleged former NASA employee says there was a secret manned mission to Mars in 1979'Jackie' claims she saw humans walking towards the lander in 1979

 'Jackie' claims she saw humans walking towards the lander in 1979

Conspiracy theorists have gone wild over a ‘confession’ from a woman who claims to be a former NASA employee that she saw human beings on Mars in 1979.
The woman, called ‘Jackie’, called in to American radio station Coast to Coast AM with the claim – which reignited gossip over a ‘secret space programme’ kept from the general public.
Jackie claims to have seen space-suited humans via a live video feed from Mars - but that the information was covered up by NASA bosses.

Viking 1 and 2 sent back the first data from Mars in the 1970s (Sky News)
Viking 1 and 2 sent back the first data from Mars in the 1970s (Sky News)

Jackie claimed to have been part of a ‘downstairs’ team working on downlink telemetry from the Viking Lander - the first vehicle to send back images from the surface of Mars.
"I wonder if you could solve a 27-year-old mystery for me," she asked the presenter. "That old Viking rover was running around. Then I saw two men in space suits – not the bulky suits we normally used, but they looked protective. They came over the horizon walking to the Viking Explorer."
Jackie claims that she and six others witnessed the two humans walking on the surface – and rushed upstairs to the main NASA offices, only to have the door closed in their faces.
"We ran upstairs – but they locked the door, and taped paper over the door so we couldn’t see. My question is – were they our guys?"
Vikings 1 and 2 landed in 1975 and 1976, and sent back the first data about the Martian surface - including a distinct lack of extraterrestrial life.
NASA says, "Although no traces of life were found, Viking found all elements essential to life on Earth – carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus – were present on Mars."

‘Get your ass to Mars’: Buzz Aldrin wants humans to permanently occupy Mars (
‘Get your ass to Mars’: Buzz Aldrin wants humans to permanently occupy Mars

None of Jackie’s employees have corroborated this story – but UFO sites have talled it with other reports of a ‘secret space programme’ which began when humans landed on Mars in 1968.
Conspiracy theorists believe that this is being kept from the ordinary public for various sinister reasons - and that NASA and other governments are covertly in contact with aliens.
Some of these theorists believe that the current Curiosity Rover is a giant hoax – pointing to the vehicle’s shiny solar panels as ‘evidence’ that they are being polished by humans already on Mars.
Nigel Watson, author of the Haynes UFO Investigations Manual, says, "These accounts of secret space missions seem to be growing in number and remind me of the infamous Project Serpo."

"In November 2005, a contact called ‘anonymous’, who said they worked for the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) started sending information about an extraordinary alien exchange programme, called Project Serpo. Basing his claims on a 3,000-page document written in the late 1970s, he boldly claimed that six aliens were recovered from the Roswell crash.
"Claims that aliens living and/or dead were recovered from the Roswell crash are nothing new, but in this case it was stated that an alien survivor from the crash, called EBE 1, helped to organize twelve specially trained people to visit his home planet Serpo in the Zeta Reticuli solar system. This mission occurred in 1965 and they remained there until 1978. During their stay two of them died, two remained on the planet and the rest, after returning to Earth, have died because of the high levels of radiation they were exposed to on Serpo.
"Bill Ryan who posted these claims online concluded that ‘the Serpo story is a mixture of disinformation (i.e. truth mixed with added fictional elements) and naturally occurring compounded errors…surrounding a core of extraordinary truth."

How could man intervene to change the climate?

Namib desert
Could action by one country cause rains to stop in another?

Imagine the trouble that would ensue if China resorted to desperate measures to cool its climate but the result was that the Indian Monsoon suddenly failed. Or that India tried to head off a rise in temperatures only to find that Pakistan suffered from massive flooding. Or that the United States took drastic action to fight global warming and then saw that great tracts of Africa were suddenly left without any rain.
These are some of the nightmare scenarios conjured up by the latest thinking on what might go wrong if we try to intervene in our climate through what is known as geo-engineering. Ideas range from trying to block the Sun's rays with sulphur particles in the upper atmosphere to making the seas and deserts more reflective to forests of artificial trees soaking up carbon dioxide -concepts that seem so outlandish that many refuse to take them seriously.
Back in early 2009, at a climate science conference in Denmark, the event's organizer, an American professor, said that "no one in their right mind would want to think about these ideas but we may find that we have to".
For some, any notion of planes spewing out particles to reflect sunshine or fleets of ships spraying up seawater to make clouds brighter is so unrealistic that it does not deserve serious thought - and, worse, distracts from proper debate about global warming. In this view, the core task remains persuading countries and companies to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide - and that casual talk of easy technological fixes takes the pressure off that effort because it seems to offer a get-out-jail-free card. Yet another source of opposition is from those who fear that intervening with the climate is bound to backfire and that the law of unintended consequences means that the harm caused will be far worse than expected.
During a debate at a conservation conference in Barcelona in 2010, environmental campaigners were outraged by plans by a private company to conduct geo-engineering experiments in the ocean.

Monsoon clouds over the Indian Ocean
Monsoon clouds over the Indian Ocean

The idea was to see if carbon dioxide could be trapped and buried by fertilizing the waters with iron to encourage plankton to bloom. Similar experiments carried out by an Indian-German team did not work as well as hoped.This research has highlighted the challenges of any type of intervention and raised some fascinating questions. Would solar shielding launched by one country trigger a drought in another? Would that be a cause for war? Would anyone ever really know that the geo-engineering was to blame? If planes were launched to make the stratosphere more reflective, how long would it take for them to have a cooling effect? What if it took years or even decades to know if the technique was working or that it was causing weather turmoil elsewhere? And, in regions of the world already fraught with tension, how would it look to a nervous country if a far larger neighbour filled the skies with squadrons of jets?
Inevitably, given the scale of any of these operations, the military would have to be involved so, even if the purpose was genuinely benign, and was being conducted in the global cause of cooling the planet, the deployments might easily look like an act of war.

Would it really be possible to have planes spewing out particles to reflect sunshine?

One answer is that if climate change proves to be as far-reaching and pervasive as some projections suggest, it is bound to escalate tensions regardless of any geo-engineering and as pressures mount on vulnerable areas, vast populations could be on the move anyway, with or without attempts to block the sun.
The authors of the recent research are adamant that the risks are so great that any studies or experiments need to be as open and transparent as possible - and that actual operations, however distant in the future, must be governed by international treaty. But that is a very big ask.
Of all the challenges with geo-engineering - the technological hurdles, the enormous gamble with weather patterns, the dangers of conflict - perhaps the greatest is diplomatic. The past 22 years have seen the world repeatedly fail to agree to cut greenhouse gases to tackle global warming.

How much harder would it be to get it to agree on last-ditch measures that many would brand as hare-brained and dangerous?  In light of the lack of progress at previous climate summits, a decade or so from now, there may not be any alternative.

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
My boyfriend "Darrin" and I  have been  seeing  each other  for  five  years . I love him and  feel loved  by him . He is  affectionate and  a great listener . I have  grown children who are free  to pop in and  out of my house  whenever they please . We also have  many extended  family  get-togethers   throughout  the year .
Darrin will ask  me about  my kids  and siblings  and seem interested  when I talk about them . But  he doesn't  seem eager  to make  them part of  his  life . He says  he  doesn't  like  big  groups, so he rarely goes  with me to family  get-togethers . He also doesn't  like to come over when my kids are here and makes  no effort  to  know them . When I invite  him, he  makes  up excuses  for why he can't  come . My  kids think Darrin is  distant  and doesn't  care  about them . Will he  be  like this  if we marry  and live in the same  house ? Is this something  that can be worked  through ?
Need  More Involvement
Dear Need More Involvement ,
You  need  to discuss this with Darrin . Tell him  you find his  lack of  interest in your  family  upsetting  and  you want to now why he doesn't  care to get to know  them better . Your  children (not  to mention  your  siblings) are  important to you  and should  the relationship  progress, you want  to be certain  he will not  alienate  your  family . Keep in mind , however , that not all  people are  close  to the children  and  relatives  of their  significant  others . This  doesn't  have to be  a deal breaker . What counts  is that he  not interfere  with the level  of attachment   that you want .

Dear Maxy ,
My son wants  to go to  sleep-away camp next summer . Lots  of  his  friends   at school will be  going away  and he wants  to have that experience  as well . Out  family  is  not rolling in dough  like some  of  his  peers, though . My husband  and I looked  at the prices  for  the camps   that our  son (who is  12)  has  been talking  about  and the  price  is through the roof .
How  can  I manage  my son's expectations ? I don't  know  how  we  could possibly  afford  to send  him to any  of these  places .
To  Go or  Not  to Go
Dear To Go or  Not to Go ,
Don't  give  up until  you do some  research . Contact each of  the camps  that your  son has shared  with you . Find  out if   they offer financial  aid  to any of their students . Many camps  gladly  offer  aid  when parents  make the request . Sometimes they have  to show  proof  of  need, but  not  always . You  can also research more  affordable  camps . Some are rugged, some  more  refined  . Some  are affiliated  with the local Y or other  community organizations  and can be affordable . Plus  your  child  can go  for  a shorter time  period   if that helps  reduce  the  cost . The point is  that  you should   thoroughly look  into  your  options   before saying  no .

Dear Maxy ,
I have  been  working  for  myself  for  years   For  a long time, it was  going well . But  I am a consultant  and with the economy  being  soft , I am not making  very  much  money . It  gets  harder  and harder  to pay  my  bills  because  it is difficult  to keep clients  consistently . I'm thinking  I should  go back to school  to learn a trade  or  something, but  I can't really afford  to do that . How  can I get out  of this  hole ?
Need  a Change
Dear  Need a Change,
You are smart  to  be  considering  options  for  income  since  your  current  method of  earning  a living  isn't  satisfying  your  basic  needs .The  good  news is  that  there are  many  scholarships  available  for  students  of  all ages  . I  recently  interviewed   the  CEO  of the United  Negro  College  Fund  , Dr. Michael  Lomax , who explained that  more of todays college  students   are  returning  students  than 18 year-olds . And there is  money out there   for  nearly everyone  . So do  your  research  .
Figure  out  what  you want   to do  and what schools  offer  scholarships  or financial aid . Fill out the  Free Application  for  Federal  Student  aid  (  fafsa.ed,gov )  and shop until  you get the  support  you need .
Education  is  often  the  key to  economic  empowerment . Do not  give up  until you gain the skills  you need .

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Great Lakes Turning to Jelly

The legacy of decades of industrial pollution affecting our Great Lakes now appears to have taken the form of slimy crustaceans choking the life out of these precious aquatic ecosystems.
A new study released this past week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B has shown that the years of acidification of the lake waters has caused a dramatic decline in calcium levels in Canadian lakes, and that in turn has severely impacted the population of tiny shrimp-like creatures called Daphnia. 
Known more commonly as water-fleas because of their swimming style, these tiny creatures that are less than 0.3 mm in size but represent the foundation of all natural, healthy aquatic ecosystems. They can clear waters of toxic algae and are the staple food supply of many fish species.

And this new change in lake water chemistry has led to a boom in the number of another tiny organism that is literally leaving parts of the Great Lakes oozing with slimy jelly. Holopedium is a jelly-clad plankton species that turns out is a direct competitor to the Daphnia and only need one-tenth the amount of calcium to flourish.
Scientists say this jellification will not only affect stocks of critical fish species but also may very well damage vital filtration systems that are used to provide drinking water to urban centres.
“As calcium declines, the increasing concentrations of jelly in the middle of these lakes will reduce energy and nutrient transport right across the food chain, and will likely impede the withdrawal of lake water for residential, municipal and industrial uses,” said study co-author Andrew Tanentzap, an aquatic scientist from the University of Cambridge, in.
“In Ontario, 20 per cent of government-monitored drinking water systems now come from landscapes containing lakes with depleted calcium concentrations that favour Holopedium, and this is only set to increase.”

This handful of Holopedium comes from a lake in the Muskoka-Haliburton region of Ontario. (CBC)

This handful of Holopedium comes from a lake in the Muskoka-Haliburton region of Ontario. (CBC)

The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater bodies in the world and have been a primary source of drinking water and fisheries for generations. However, with industrial development and population growth in the region, human-caused acid pollution has skyrocketed in the lakes over the past hundred years. 
Increased acidification leads to less calcium carbonate minerals present in the lakes, which are the building blocks of shells and skeletons of tiny crustaceans and mussels, too. And the disappearance of all this calcium from the lakes is not the only foe the hapless Daphnia have to face. Climate change has also led to the loss of oxygen in the waters, which has led to ideal conditions to one of the main insect predators of Daphnia - and has just hastened their decline even more.
According to core samples of lake sediments, calcium loss began precisely at the same time as the start of the industrial revolution in the 1850s, but really began to pick up steam in the 1980s. And the changes will stay for a long time to come, Tanentzap says.
“It may take thousands of years to return to historic lake water calcium concentrations solely from natural weathering of surrounding watersheds,” said Tanentzap.
“In the meanwhile, while we’ve stopped acid rain and improved the pH of many of these lakes, we cannot claim complete recovery from acidification. Instead, we many have pushed these lakes into an entirely new ecological state.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Country Wide Protests Over Grand Jury Decision

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 23: Demonstrators march through the streets while protesting the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on November 23, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Tensions in Ferguson remain high as a grand jury is expected to decide this month if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson should be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, Mo. - Protesters returned to the riot-scarred streets of Ferguson on Tuesday, a day after crowds looted businesses and set fire to buildings in a night of rage against a grand jury's decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown.
Hundreds of additional National Guard troops were sent to the St. Louis suburb to help local authorities keep order. Hours after nightfall, tensions escalated as a police car was set on fire outside City Hall, and authorities released tear gas.

Meanwhile, officer Darren Wilson broke his long public silence, insisting on national television that he could not have done anything differently in the confrontation with Brown. In the aftermath of Monday's violence, Missouri governor Jay Nixon sent a large contingent of extra National Guard troops, ordering the initial force of 700 to be increased to 2,200 in hopes that their presence would help local law enforcement keep order in the St. Louis suburb.
"Lives and property must be protected," Nixon said. "This community deserves to have peace."

About 50 protesters converged on a barricade guarded by 30 Guard members. The group chanted "Whose streets, our streets," ''This is what democracy looks like" and "Hands up don't shoot," a slogan that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings.
Outside police headquarters in Ferguson, one woman was taken into custody after protesters threw what appeared to be smoke bombs, flares and frozen water bottles at a line of officers. Two other protesters wearing masks were arrested after defying police instructions to get out of the street.
Other demonstrations were held across the country. Hundreds of Seattle high school students walked out of classes, and several hundred people marched down a Cleveland freeway ramp to block rush-hour traffic.

During an interview with ABC News, Wilson said he has a clean conscience because "I know I did my job right."
Wilson, 28, had been with the Ferguson police force for less than three years before the Aug. 9 shooting. He told ABC Brown's shooting marked the first time he had fired his gun on the job.

Attorneys for the Brown family vowed to push for federal charges against Wilson and said the grand jury process was rigged from the start to clear Wilson.
"We said from the very beginning that the decision of this grand jury was going to be the direct reflection of the presentation of the evidence by the prosecutor's office," attorney Anthony Gray said. He suggested the office of the county's top prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, presented some testimony to discredit the process, including from witnesses who did not see the shooting.
During Monday's protests, 12 commercial buildings in Ferguson burned down, and firefighters responded to blazes at eight others, fire officials said. Other businesses were looted, and 12 vehicles were torched.
Brown's parents made public calls for peace in the run-up to Monday's announcement, and on Tuesday, their representatives again stressed that the people setting fires were not on Michael Brown's side. Videos that were widely circulated on Tuesday showed Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, standing atop a car and breaking down as the announcement of the grand jury decision blares over the stereo.
Her husband, Brown's stepfather, comforts her, then begins angrily yelling "Burn the bitch down!" to a crowd gathered around him. Asked about the comment at a news conference, family attorney Benjamin Crump said the reaction was, "raw emotion. Not appropriate at all. Completely inappropriate."

Protests continued during the day on Tuesday. In Clayton, where the grand jury met, clergy members and others blocked morning traffic for several hours. In downtown St. Louis, where demonstrators swarmed the steps of a federal courthouse and stopped traffic, at least four people were arrested.
Attorneys for Brown's family said they hope an ongoing federal civil rights investigation leads to charges. But federal investigations of police misconduct face a steep legal standard, requiring proof that an officer willfully violated a victim's civil rights.

Testimony from Wilson that he felt threatened, and physical evidence almost certainly complicates any efforts to seek federal charges. Under federal law, "you have to prove as a prosecutor that the officer knew at the moment that he pulled the trigger that he was using too much force, that he was violating the Constitution," said Seth Rosenthal, a former Justice Department civil rights prosecutor.
The Justice Department has also launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the department aims to complete those investigations as quickly as possible "to restore trust, to rebuild understanding and to foster co-operation between law enforcement and community members." Regardless of the outcome of the federal investigations, Brown's family also could file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Wilson.
Speaking in Chicago, President Obama said he knows the grand jury's decision "upset a lot of people" but that the "the frustrations that we've seen are not just about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of colour who have a sense that our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly."
Wilson's lawyers issued a statement praising the decision and saying the officer is grateful to his supporters.
"Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions," the lawyers wrote. "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law."

Scott Holtgrieve, a St. Louis County man who attended an August fundraiser on Wilson's behalf, always viewed with skepticism witness accounts that Wilson shot Brown while Brown held his hands up in a form of surrender and was on his knees.
"What they were saying just didn't seem rational — that an officer would shoot someone in cold blood that way at point-blank range, especially in that neighbourhood where you know a lot of people are watching," Holtgrieve said.

Marching in center city the Ferguson protestors on South Broad at City Hall, Philadelphia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo / The Philadelphia Daily News, Steven M. Falk )
Marching in center city the Ferguson protestors on South Broad at City Hall, Philadelphia, Monday

People protesting the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision took to the streets in cities across the U.S. for a second day Tuesday, showing that the racially charged case has inflamed tensions thousands of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb.
Peaceful demonstrators marched in Seattle and disrupted traffic in St. Louis and Cleveland. Rallies also formed in Michigan, Maine, Georgia and mid-Atlantic states.
For many, the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson recalled other troubling encounters with law enforcement. The refrain "hands up, don't shoot" became a rallying cry over police killings nationwide.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Footage of Extremely Rare Angler Fish

An extremely rare type of anglerfish, the Black Seadevil, has been captured on video for what is believed to be the first time. The clip, released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, clearly shows one of the ugliest and meanest-looking fish at a depth of about 600 metres.
According to MBARI Senior Scientist Bruce Robinson, this type of fish is so rare that he's only seen three of them despite diving in the Monterey Canyon for 25 years.

In the video, Robinson describes the unique appearance of the fish:
Anglers have a remarkable apparatus on their heads: a fishing pole, with a luminous lure at the tip, which they use to attract their prey. In the darkness of deep water, they flash the light to attract prey and draw them near the angler's mouth. When a fish or a squid swims up, it is quickly inhaled by the angler's huge mouth and trapped by its long, sharp teeth.
Robinson says this Seadevil has a broken tooth. And despite it's horrific appearance, it is only about 3.5 inches in length.
According to the video, this Seadevil is a female of the species – males are described as smaller, without the signature "fishing pole" attachement that females use to lure prey into their gaping maws.
"Males are ill-equipped for feeding, and their sole responsibility appears to be to find a female and mate with her as soon as possible," Robison narrates in the video.  Robinson said males essentially die while mating with a female Seadevil.
"The male bites into the body of the female, their tissues fuse," he said. "The male's body degenerates until it's a lump of tissue surrounding testicles." The female will then carry the male's remaining corpse with her for the rest of her life. Robinson said he has seen female Devilfish with as many as 11 males attached to a single female.
Robinson is researching the impacts of climate change in the deep sea, where the pace of life is slower due to less oxygen in the Monterey Bay.
Indeed, the oceans are filled with many rare and unusual creatures. And ugly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Evacuation plans readied as Buffalo flooding looms

First came the big storm, then the big dig. Now comes the big melt.

Residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo should move valuables up from the basement, pack a bag and prepare for the possibility of evacuation as up to 7 feet of melting snow posed the threat of flooding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Sunday.

"Err on the side of caution," Cuomo said at a news conference in Cheektowaga. "You prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that's what we're doing."

Across the Buffalo region - where rising temperatures were expected to approach 60 degrees on Monday - people took that advice to heart.

In Hamburg, Pete Yeskoot bought a portable generator to make sure his sump pump will keep working once the roughly 80 inches of snow that fell on his property melts. Possessions are up on blocks in the basement and he has food for several days.

"Behind us is an 18-mile creek so everything in the village will come through us at some point, so we have to get ready for the possibility of flooding," he said. "And given all this snow, we have to expect that this is real."

Rain fell Sunday, with temperatures rising to 50. It was expected to be even warmer Monday, accompanied by more rain and rising winds, leading to the threat of toppled trees and power outages.

National Guard members spent Sunday clearing storm drains and culverts to facilitate runoff, and shoveling snow off roofs.

The National Weather Service said core samples of the deep snowpack showed it contained as much as 6 inches of water. Forecasters said some stretches of road in urban areas might become submerged under several feet of water if storm drains remained clogged.

The melt could first cause basements to fill up and roads to flood, but another concern was creeks overflowing. In West Seneca, there was already a sewer pump stationed near Michelle Pikula's house along the Buffalo Creek.

"Hopefully the rain won't be here until later and this will be a slow thaw, but flooding is our major, major concern here," she said.

Cuomo said evacuation plans and emergency shelters were being readied in case of flooding Sunday night and Monday. As a backup to Red Cross shelters, Cuomo said the state would have shelters at community colleges and state university campuses.

The state Thruway, which had been closed for 132 miles at the height of the lake-effect storm last week, was entirely open Sunday. All driving bans were lifted except in Lackawanna, where snow-removal crews worked to open up streets that had become parking lots with hundreds of abandoned, buried vehicles.

Most snow-affected school districts remained closed Monday, and at least four called off classes for the entire Thanksgiving week.

This  is  not  a dream ,  I'm still here  .  Just wait  until they  get  my  damn  bill  , gonna take  a much needed  vacation .
Mr. Humble  at your  service .

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hitler watercolor sold for $162,000 at auction

In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, a picture titled “The Old City Hall” that - as the auction house said - was painted by Adolf Hitler is displayed in an auction house in Nuremberg, Germany. The 100-year-old watercolor of Munich’s city hall is expected to fetch at least 50,000 euros (US$ 60,000) at auction this weekend, not so much for its artistic value as for the signature in the bottom left corner: A. Hitler. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
The Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 photo shows the signature "A. Hitler" on a picture titled “The Old City Hall” that - as the auction house said - was painted by Adolf Hitler in Nuremberg, Germany. The 100-year-old watercolor of Munich’s city hall is expected to fetch at least 50,000 euros (US$ 60,000) at auction this weekend, not so much for its artistic value as for the signature in the bottom left corner. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
BERLIN (AP) - A watercolor of Munich's old city hall believed to have been painted by Adolf Hitler a century ago was sold for 130,000 euros ($162,000) at an auction in Germany on Saturday.

Kathrin Weidler, director of the Weider auction house in Nuremberg, said the work attracted bidders from four continents and went to a buyer from the Middle East. She declined to elaborate.

The auction house says the painting is one some 2,000 by Hitler and is thought to be from about 1914, when he was struggling to make a living as an artist, almost two decades before rising to power as the Nazi dictator.

The painting, which had been expected to fetch at least 50,000 euros, was sold by a pair of elderly sisters whose grandfather purchased it in 1916.

Hitler's paintings surface regularly, but the auction house said the 28-by-22 centimeter (11-by-8.5 inch) scene auctioned Saturday also includes the original bill of sale and a signed letter from Hitler's adjutant, Albert Bormann, brother of the dictator's private secretary Martin Bormann.

From the text of the undated Bormann letter, it appears the Nazi-era owner sent a photo of the painting to Hitler's office asking about its provenance. Bormann wrote that it appears to be "one of the works of the Fuehrer." 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Sky Falls on Buffalo

 Buffalo is hit by blizzard onTuesday, Nov.18, 2014... Parts of New York measured the season's first big snowfall in feet, rather than inches, as 3 feet of lake-effect snow blanketed the Buffalo area. The Thruway Authority said white-out conditions caused by wind gusts of more than 30 mph forced the closure of Interstate 90 in both directions from the Rochester area to Ripley, on the Pennsylvania border 60 miles southwest of Buffalo. Heavy snow also fell in Southern Ontario with gusting winds and below freezing temperatures. Winter has arrived in grand fashion.

Steven Gros shovels snow from outside his home in Orchard Park

Wintry Weather

Wintry Weather 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Silence is Not Always Golden.....Bill Cosby

After Bill Cosby settled a civil lawsuit in 2006 alleging that he'd repeatedly sexually assaulted a woman, his image as America's dad may have been temporarily tarnished, but was far from destroyed.
But in recent weeks as allegations of other sexual assaults have taken hold in published reports and on social media, his rock-solid persona seems in danger of permanent erosion.
"It's not like, if you have goodwill, you can borrow against that," says Eric B. Dezenhall, a Washington-based crisis management consultant. "And if your goal is to get everybody to un-remember what they just heard — well, that's just not doable."
Cosby, 77, has never been charged with a crime and so far has steadfastly refused to address the uproar. He's granted few in-person interviews to media. And an attempt to put out the fire with a positive social media buzz backfired, generating criticism rather than praise.
There is no sign that his silent treatment — outside of a statement from his attorney Sunday characterizing the accusations as "discredited" — will placate the two accusers who have recently told their stories or outlast their demands that he answer to their claims.
His staunchest fans have dismissed the assault accusations that have dogged him for years while they overlooked his admissions of marital infidelity. For them, his image remains snugly aligned with that of Cliff Huxtable, the gentle, all-knowing husband and father he played on "The Cosby Show" as a champion of family values who, 20 years earlier, broke TV's colour barrier with his 1960s series "I Spy."
But that image could hurt now more than help, even placing his legacy at risk.
"We love the concept of hypocrisy, whether it's true or not," says Dezenhall, who recently published the book "Glass Jaw — A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal." ''We love learning that somebody in reality may be the opposite of what they seem. ... The squeakier-clean your reputation, the more the public embraces these stories."
For older Cosby fans, Cosby undisputedly is "a venerated figure who stands for education and achievement and common sense," says NPR television critic Eric Deggans, who has reported on the accusations. "But there's an entire generation for whom his projects are distant memories with distant impact. And in later years, he has gone around demanding that poor black people pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get their house in order."
Cosby's blunt call for personal responsibility has often stigmatized him in young eyes not as America's dad but as America's cranky granddad "taking aim at youth culture," Deggans says.
It was this sort of attitude that may have prompted standup comedian Hannibal Buress to take aim at Cosby last month in Philadelphia where, during a performance, Buress mocked him, chiding the audience to "pull your pants up, black people, I was on TV in the '80s," and labeling Cosby "a rapist." (Buress has not responded to repeated requests from The Associated Press to discuss that performance.)
The sequence was captured on video and may have served as a major flashpoint. Barbara Bowman, who since 2006 has publicly accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her, gave Buress credit for bringing her long-voiced words new urgency in a Nov. 13 column, whose headline asked, "Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?"
Accusations from Cosby's past may also have been rekindled by their very absence from a new book, "Cosby: His Life and Times," an affirmative biography that makes no mention of those allegations. Author Mark Whitaker did not respond to a request for comment.

The firestorm against Cosby has flared as he was enjoying a revival that began a year ago when a standup TV special — his first in three decades — aired on Comedy Central.
"There's a gap," Cosby told the AP a few days before its Nov. 23 premiere, "between people knowing what I do and really believing that I still do that — and wondering what it is I really do."
Titled "Far From Finished," the program seemed to bridge that gap, attracting a robust 2 million viewers on the youth-skewing network.
Two months later, NBC confirmed rumours that a new sitcom starring Cosby as the patriarch of a multigenerational comedy series was on the drawing board.
NBC hasn't commented on the status of that project in recent months. Meanwhile, Cosby's busy standup schedule (he has at least 35 performances scheduled throughout the U.S. and Canada through May of 2015) so far seems untouched by the rising controversy.
But Cosby has dropped out of interviews planned to promote his upcoming Netflix standup special. (Netflix on Monday declined to comment on whether plans have changed for its Nov. 27 premiere.) He cancelled an interview scheduled for Tuesday with the AP, and last week confirmed that he would not be making a scheduled appearance on Wednesday's "Late Show with David Letterman."
Attempting to ride out the storm may not work. But what's the alternative?
As Dezenhall points out, gone are the days before social media when a public figure in a jam could sit down with Oprah Winfrey or Barbara Walters for a tell-all TV interview where he bared his soul and gained forgiveness from the masses.
"In the current culture, no matter what you do to defend yourself in one of these high-profile media vortexes, it generates multiple waves of new and negative coverage. Cosby has got to be thinking, 'Is the better of my very bad options to remain silent?'"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Europeans have prominent role in ISIS beheading video

PARIS (AP) -- The cold-eyed militants lined up behind their victims in the latest Islamic State video appear to come from outside the Middle East, including one from France and possibly two from Britain, as the extremist group tries to show a global reach.

The grisly video - clearly aimed at a Western audience - lingers as much on the faces of the camouflaged extremists as the men who are beheaded. The victims include American aid worker Peter Kassig and more than a dozen Syrian soldiers.

The images of the Islamic State militants, who are shown one by one in close-up, allowed authorities to identify one of them Monday as a 22-year-old Frenchman who converted to radical Islam.

Maxime Hauchard has been on the radar of French authorities since 2011 when he took two trips to Mauritania to attend a Quranic school, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. The prosecutor said investigators were trying to determine if another Frenchman also is in the video.

President Barack Obama confirmed Kassig's slaying after a U.S. review of the video.

The overwhelming majority of Islamic State fighters are from the Mideast, but the extremist group is trying to cement its claim on an Islamic empire straddling Iraq and Syria. Europe appears to be a fertile ground to find supporters, with officials saying thousands of young Europeans have headed off to jihad. More than 1,000 people in France alone are under surveillance for suspected plans to join the militants, officials said.

In the video released Sunday, some of the knife-wielding extremists standing behind their kneeling victims had distinctly Asian features. Another whose face was hooded had the familiar London accent of the jihadi who also appeared in beheading videos with American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and with British hostages David Haines and Alan Henning. There also were indications that a Welsh medical student may be the man standing next to Hauchard.

"It's quite transparent that IS is trying to exaggerate its base of support," said Charlie Winter, a researcher at the Quilliam Foundation in London. "They are trying to show that Muslims from all over the world are protecting their Syrian brethren and their Iraqi brethren."

European officials are trying just as furiously to counter that message.

"I call solemnly and seriously on all our citizens, and notably our young people who are the primary target of the terrorist propaganda, to open your eyes to the terrible reality of the actions of Daesh," said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. "These are criminals that are building a system of barbarity."

Hauchard gave an interview to France's BFM television in July, telling the network he had helped capture Mosul, the Iraqi city whose fall eventually prompted the United States to resume military operations in Iraq.

"We're waiting for death," Hauchard said at the time. "My objective is to be a martyr."

A man from Wales, Ahmed Muthana, said he thinks he saw his son, 20-year-old Nasser Muthana, in the latest video, and Winter, the British researcher, confirmed the likeness.

"It resembles him. I was shown a picture of the video. I cannot confirm it is him, but I think it might be," Ahmed Muthana told Britain's Press Association.

Kassig had gone to Syria on a humanitarian mission.

"(Our son) lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering," the slain hostage's parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, said in a statement.

As for the French militant in the video, Molins said he had used aid work as a pretext.

"The humanitarian action was a facade. In fact, he wanted to fight and join Islamic State agents," Molins said.

With Kassig's death, the Islamic State group has killed five Westerners it was holding.

Unlike previous videos of slain Western hostages, the latest one did not show the decapitation of Kassig, the moments leading up to his death or threaten to kill any other Western hostages.

It identified the militants' location as Dabiq, a town in northern Syria that the Islamic State group uses as the title of its English-language propaganda magazine and where they believe an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and their enemies will occur.

The high-definition video also showed the beheadings of about a dozen men identified as Syrian military officers and pilots, all dressed in blue jumpsuits.

All of the militants wore brand new camouflage uniforms, except for the black-clad man who spoke with a British accent and warned that U.S. soldiers will meet a similar fate.

"We say to you, Obama: You claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago," the militant said. "Here you are: You have not withdrawn. Rather, you hid some of your forces behind your proxies."

A U.S.-led coalition is targeting the Islamic State group in airstrikes in northern Syria, supporting Western-backed Syrian rebels, Kurdish fighters and the Iraqi military. The U.S. said 31 airstrikes had been carried out from Nov. 14-17 against Islamic State group targets.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Islamic State group could grow worldwide if left unchecked. Already, he said, the IS has seized more land and resources "than al-Qaida ever had on its best day of its existence."

IS "leaders assume that the world will be too intimidated to oppose them," Kerry said. "But let us be clear: We are not intimidated."

Kassig served in the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, a special operations unit, and was deployed to Iraq in 2007. After being medically discharged, he returned to the Middle East in 2012 and formed a relief group, Special Emergency Response and Assistance, to help Syrian refugees.

The Islamic State group still holds other captives, including British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in several videos delivering statements, likely under duress, 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 for er safety.

The group's militants have beheaded or shot dead hundreds of captives, mostly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, celebrating the mass killings in graphic videos.

The Islamic State group has declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate in areas under its control, which it governs according to its violent interpretation of Shariah law.

Hey guys , still filling  in for  'The  Genie'

Dr. Martin Salia becomes the second person to die in the US of Ebola

The surgeon being treated for Ebola has died at a Nebraska hospital only 48 hours after arriving.
Dr. Martin Salia, 44, who
arrived Saturday from West Africa in dire health, was pronounced dead Monday morning from the virus. He reportedly tested negative for the virus despite having been in the throes of infection.
[Nebraska Medicine @NebraskaMed ]
We are sorry to announce that the 3rd Ebola patient, Dr. Martin Salia, has passed away as a result of the advanced symptoms of the disease.
7:30 AM - 17 Nov 2014
Salia became infected while treating patients in Sierra Leone, his home country, and became the second person to die of the hemorrhagic fever in America.

The U.S. resident's condition was already nearing death when he arrived in Nebraska, officials said.
[Nebraska Medicine@NebraskaMed}
Dr. Salia was suffering from advanced symptoms of Ebola when he arrived on Saturday, which included kidney and respiratory failure.
7:32 AM - 17 Nov 2014
Officials previously announced that Salia was in "extremely critical" condition and late Sunday said it was an "hour-by-hour" situation, according to several reports.

He was flown to the same hospital that had previously cured two other Ebola patients.

Salia's rapidly declining health can reportedly be attributed to a previous Ebola test coming back negative, according to a
Washington Post report.

He tested negative for the lethal virus despite being infected, sources told the paper. In an even more tragic turn, those around Salia removed protective gear and embraced him in celebration.

It is not known if those people have since become infected.

Salia leaves behind a wife and two children aged 16 and 20-years-old, according to the Post. All three live in the U.S.

Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, in October, was the first person to die of Ebola in the U.S. Duncan passed away at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, and also infampously infected to nurses during his stay.

Both Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were eventually cured of the virus, but not before being flown to separate hospitals outside Texas.

Almost 5,200 people have died of Ebola around the globe, the World Health Organization announced
last week.

Nearly 15,000 people remain infected, and their ranks are only growing.

Mr. Humble sitting in for  'The Genie' .

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I've been on antidepressant and bipolar medication for 12 years . The problem is, I feel I am being over medicated . I want to sleep all day . I am also legally deaf . I live with my parents because I am unable to drive . My depression and resulting destructive spiral caused my grades to go south in college which has interfered with my ability to find a good job in my field and not all employers are willing to make accommodations for hearing disability .
My parents does not treat me particularly well . The medication helped a lot , but being on the meds for so long has cause other problems , including issues with my short-term memory . I am tired of taking medications that I feel is hindering more than helping , I saw a counselor for a while some years ago , and that did me more good than medication could . My family refuses to listen to me when I tell them the new medications are causing excessive drowsiness . I have been told by them to simply suck it up . My family won't let me stop taking the medications .
I would like to find a job so I can earn enough money to go back to college , but I have no idea where to start . My only job experience is some community service I did as part of my high school graduation requirements .
Fed UP

Dear Fed Up ,
First phone or make an appointment to see the doctor who prescribed your current medication and explain the drowsiness . It is likely you can have it adjusted . Also you could use some emotional . Please contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance at . Then check your state , city and county government offices for jobs for the disabled , along with the U.S. Dept. of Labor and at 1-877-US2-JOBS .

Dear Maxy ,
My husband is a chain smoker and has very poor dental hygiene and has lost most of his teeth He has never been an affectionate person , but when he does decide to kiss me , I am repulsed by his cigarette breath and the fact that he hasn't brushed his teeth . Therefore I try to avoid being near him .
My question to you is : should I nicely tell him he needs to see a dentist ?

Dear V ,
Yes , dear . Otherwise , you will be stuck with this situation for the rest of your married life and over time , it will put a terrible and unnecessary strain on your relational .
Tell him that his breath could use some assistance . Make him understand that not brushing his teeth puts him at risk for heart disease . I suspect he harbors a fear of dentists , so assure him that current dental techniques take that into consideration , and there are varies ways to alleviate discomfort . Ask him to come with you to find a good dentist he is comfortable with . Also but him some breath freshener that he can gargle with .

Dear Maxy ,
I have been dating a guy for about four months now . He is very sweet to me . I like his personality a lot . I work in an office as an office manager , he works construction . I think that's great , except he doesn't always need to shower and change at the end of the day . So if he asks me out on a date , even if he has time to come home and , shower and change , he often does not . I don't want to sound like a snob , but I really don't want to go to a nice restaurant or even to the movies and snuggles up next to someone that smells like dust and sweat .
Clean Up

Dear Clean Up ,
I bet your guy has been single for a long time . One of the most common "side affects" of a loving relationship is some good TLC. Chances are , he hasn't put two and two together at all . He is so eager to see you , getting to you is at the top of his mind . Bathing is not even n the radar . Definitely tell him , but in a nice way . When you are planning for your next date , ask him what he's going to wear . Encourage him by suggesting that he shower and wear whatever cologne you like that he wears s, or you could name a specific shirt and tie that you have loved him wearing in the past . Make it a sensuous experience . That should encourage him to clean up .