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Sat, 27 Feb 2021
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Mayan temple damaged in tourist 'apocalypse' frenzy


Guatemalan natives and visitors take part in a ceremony on December 21, 2012, at the Tikal archaeological site, Peten departament, 560 kms north of Guatemala City.
Tourists flocking to Guatemala for "end of the world" parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archeological site and urban center of the Mayan civilization.

"Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage," said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, which is located some 550 kilometers (340 miles) north of Guatemala City.

"We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site," he told local media.

Gomez did not specify what was done, although he did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable.

Temple II, which is about 38 meters (125 feet) high and faces the central Tikal plaza, is one of the site's best known structures.


Update: Motive sought in Pennsylvania slayings of 3; gunman killed

© The Associated Press/Altoona Mirror, J.D. Cavrich
Local law enforcement block off road along Rt. 22 near the Canoe Creek State Park, Pa. while investigating a shooting on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.
The shooting of a man who went on a rampage in central Pennsylvania, killing two neighbors and a third person before wounding three state troopers during a gunbattle, was a justifiable homicide, authorities ruled Saturday.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what set off the gunman, identified as 44-year-old Jeffrey Lee Michael of Geeseytown, a tiny village about 70 miles west of Harrisburg, the state capital.

''We're not sure of the motive. We'll be trying to find out by talking to people who knew him, see if he gave any indication,'' Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said of the violence, which began Friday morning in Frankstown Township and spanned five separate crime scenes across a 1.5-mile area.

Authorities said Michael knew his two males victims, who were related to each other, but investigators do not yet know whether he knew the third, a woman who was slain while decorating a church hall for a children's Christmas party.

Michael fired into the Juniata Valley Gospel Church from outside, then entered the church and fired again, killing Kimberly Scott, 58, of Duncansville, State Police Sgt. Gregory Bernard said.

Stock Down

Christmas food handouts double as millions of British subjects face 'financial precipice'


Food banks have sprung up all over the UK to stave off hunger, but for how much longer will Western civilization last?
Debt-ridden households could kill off economic recovery when interest rate rises, says Resolution Foundation

The number of people who will turn to food banks for sustenance is expected to double this Christmas, as a new report warns that millions more families face a financial "precipice" due to high personal debts, flatlining wages and future interest rate rises.

With three new food banks opening every week in the UK, the charity that oversees Britain's 292 emergency outlets, the Trussell Trust, says it expects to feed 15,000 people over the Christmas fortnight alone, almost double the number last Christmas.

At the same time, a study published by the Resolution Foundation, an independent thinktank, says millions of households with low to middle incomes will be pushed close to the edge if they are unable to reduce their debts, including mortgages, before the cost of borrowing returns to more normal levels.


I quit murdering people on November 17, 2012 (for now)

drone attacks Pakistan
I lost my job (outsourced) on November 16th.

Since I no longer pay taxes (since I'm unemployed - and no I'm not collecting unemployment), my tax dollars are no longer going to a government intent on killing people who look (or think) a little different than us.

That is the one thing I take comfort in since losing my job of 27 years.

I'm no longer drone bombing wedding parties in Pakistan.

I'm no longer killing the Afghani people.

I quit pointing guns at Iran.

I no longer give out $55 billion in foreign aid which goes to rogue governments who torture, imprison and murder their people.

I no longer sell or give military weapons to foreign nations who in turn suppress their people for U.S. weapons manufacture's financial gain.

I have quit sanctioning Iran and causing untold harm to innocent Iranians who never did a thing to me.

I no longer send Israel 3.2 billion dollars to kill Palestinians.


Gun frenzy: Photos show how quickly stores across the nation are selling out: "Lines out the door"

After nationwide calls to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Americans concerned about the government's coming move to restrict the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession of firearms deemed too dangerous to be in the hands of private citizens are cleaning out gun stores from coast to coast.

While some retailers have made the decision to suspend sales and stop selling certain firearms altogether, others are seeing sales skyrocket to never before seen levels. Parking lots are packed and hopeful shoppers are waiting hours for their chance to get their hands on weapons, parts and magazines that may soon be banned under Federal mandates.

The following photos taken over a three day period at a local gun store give us a glimpse of just how fast gun stores are clearing out their inventory. According to the shop owner who took these pictures, their store was selling upwards of one thousand guns per day.

Here's how the store looked on the Sunday before the frenzy:
© The Firearm Blog
On Monday:
© The Firearm Blog


Breaking the hold of corporate welfare on America's incarceration industry

© Reuters/Mike Segar

'An incarceration program is not an employment program,' said New York's incoming governor, Andrew Cuomo, at his 2011 State of the Union speech.
The US department of justice released a report this week (pdf) showing that 26 states have recorded decreases in their prison populations during 2011. California boasted the biggest decline of over 15,000 prisoners and several other states including New York and Michigan reported drops of around 1,000 prisoners each. This is the third consecutive year that the population has declined, and as a result, at least six states have closed or are attempting to close approximately 20 prisons.

This should be welcomed as good news considering that pretty much every state has been going over its own version of a fiscal cliff for the last several years and out-of-control corrections budgets play a significant part in that. But sadly, because incarceration has become a virtual jobs program in many states and because certain corporations are profiting handsomely from the incarceration binge that has been in place for the past few decades, the reduction in prison populations and prison closures is being met with huge resistance.

Road Cone

Post Mayan apocalypse blues: After mayan apocalypse failure, believers may suffer

© Andrea Dailey at Longwood University
This silkscreen shows dates in the Maya Long Count Calendar and a sacred calendar called the Tzolk'in. The silkscreen is based on carvings found in Quirigua, Guatemala.

You might expect the world not ending to be a cause for celebration. But for believers in doomsdays like yesterday's supposed Mayan apocalypse, the continued existence of the planet can be quite traumatic.

Yesterday (Dec. 21) was widely rumored online to be the end of the world, a misunderstanding of a calendar used by the ancient Maya people. Although the Maya made no doomsday predictions, some modern individuals and groups claimed they had foretold the end on Dec. 21, 2012.

Because the doomsday predictions were largely grassroots and spread online, the fallout from their failure is likely to be more varied than in doomsdays past, said Stephen Kent, a University of Alberta sociologist. Most of the time, doomsday predictions are made by charismatic leaders, often in cultlike settings.

This silkscreen shows dates in the Maya Long Count Calendar and a sacred calendar called the Tzolk'in. The silkscreen is based on carvings found in Quirigua, Guatemala.


2 killed, dozens injured in Argentina supermarket looting

© The Associated Press/ Diario Rio Negro
A man runs away carrying electronic goods and packages containing food during looting at a supermarket in San Carlos de Bariloche, about 1.630 km southwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Two people were killed in Argentina as looters ransacked supermarkets in several cities, officials said Friday.

Santa Fe Province Security Minister Raul Lamberto said the incidents were not triggered by social protests but were simple acts of vandalism.

Lamberto said two people were killed by a sharp object and gunfire after attacks early Friday on about 20 supermarkets in the cities of Rosario and Villa Gobernador Galvez. He declined to name the victims or the attackers but said 25 people were injured and 130 arrested during the looting about 190 miles northeast of Buenos Aires.

It followed a wave of sporadic looting that began Thursday when dozens broke into a supermarket and carried away televisions and other electronics in the Patagonian ski resort of Bariloche. The government responded by deploying 400 hundred military police to the southern city.

The disturbances evoked harrowing memories of Argentina's worst economic crisis a decade ago, when President Fernando de la Rua resigned after days of rioting and looting that left dozens dead and scores of protesters injured throughout the country.


Man held without bond for screaming and waving his arms at school children


A Broward judge ordered David Burch held without bond Thursday, saying he believed the 28-year-old man "intentionally terrorized" children at a Fort Lauderdale elementary school when he screamed and waved his arms at them.

Broward Circuit Court Judge John Hurley said he viewed Burch's actions Wednesday near Bayview Elementary School against the backdrop of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting last week.

Twenty-two children ages 7 and 8 were playing kickball on the field just south of the school when Burch, who was wearing camouflage pants, "started screaming and jumping up and down," Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Rick Rhodes said in court. "The physical education teacher had all the kids run back into the school for their safety."

Hurley, reading from a police report, said the kids were playing when Burch approached the fence and began "screaming in a very aggressive manner. One of the teachers observed Burch create a high level of fear in the 22 children."

Burch was later found by Rhodes in a wooded area near the school, Hurley added.

The judge noted that "the children and the teacher and the employee there, they were all in a heightened state of fear. And the backdrop to this is obviously what had just happened in Connecticut, where all those children were killed.

"So these children were in a unique position of emotional vulnerability, which never really probably ended until people knew that this man was apprehended," Hurley said.

Rhodes said that Burch behaved uncooperatively, and denied his behavior in front of the children.


Kentucky court upholds decision in penis removal case

© The Associated Press
Deborah and Phillip Seaton
Louisville, Kentucky - A Kentucky man lost his bid Friday to force a doctor to pay damages for removing a cancer-riddled section of his penis during what was scheduled to be a simple circumcision.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals found that a jury correctly concluded that 66-year-old Phillip Seaton of Waddy consented to allow Dr. John Patterson to perform any procedure deemed necessary during the Oct. 19, 2007, surgery.

Patterson, a Kentucky-based urologist, maintains he found cancer in the man's penis during surgery and that it had to be removed. The patient claims the surgery was supposed to be a circumcision and he never authorized the amputation, nor was he given a chance to seek a second opinion.

"Additionally, there is uncontroverted testimony in the record that if Mr. Seaton were not treated for the penile cancer, it would prove fatal in the future," Judge Janet Stumbo wrote for the court.

Judge Michael Caperton dissented, but did not issue a written opinion.

Clay Robinson, a Lexington-based attorney for Patterson, said the opinion was "very well-reasoned" and fact-based.

"You always appreciate when you see judges at any level go into that amount of detail," Robinson said.

Seaton and his wife, Deborah, sued Patterson, a Kentucky-based urologist, in Shelby County Circuit Court in 2008. Seaton, now in his 60s, was having the procedure to better treat inflammation. The Seatons also sued Jewish Hospital, where the surgery took place. The hospital settled with the couple for an undisclosed amount.