It has become such a strange place. Any protection will be difficult.

Researchers investigating erosion at Jerusalem’s Western Wall found that limestone with very small crystals eroded up to 100 times faster and had sometimes receded by tens of centimeters, potentially weakening the wall’s structure. The researchers described an accelerated erosion process causing some rocks to become more weathered than others, and showed that chemo-mechanical erosion extends down to the tiny micron scale. The findings could help guide preservation techniques at cultural heritage sites worldwide.

I hope we didn’t pay too much for this study.

Immigration to the US may result in increased smoking in Latino and Asian women, according to new research by sociologists. The current study found that accounting for gender differences in aspects of acculturation (including time spent in the U.S., citizenship status, and English-language proficiency) explained gender differences in smoking frequency for both Asian and Latino migrants.

You would think that they would be headed in the opposite direction.

Despite the Security Situation: Over 300 New Immigrants Land in Israel

Reports about the security situation in Gaza did not deter immigrants from the United States who took off yesterday and landed at Ben Gurion Airport this morning. Among them: 107 young adults who are expected to join the army, some of whom will serve as “lone soldiers”.

Just when you need every possible business.

With no explanation, Brian Brookman last month lost the bank account for his pawn shop.

He had no idea why. Brookman says his store in Grand Haven, Mich., never had been in trouble with federal or state officials. And being in the pawn industry, he was required by law to get a city license every year.

“If there was ever a problem, they wouldn’t renew my license,” Brookman, a former police officer and Army veteran, told The Daily Signal.

After researching his case on the Internet, Brookman says he concluded that his banker, JP Morgan Chase, closed the account because two of his business activities — dealing in vintage coins and selling firearms — were labeled “high risk” by federal bureaucrats as part of an Obama administration initiative called Operation Choke Point.

Critics say Operation Choke Point, so dubbed by Department of Justice officials, seeks to weed out businesses that the White House considers objectionable.

Too easy.

Arrests in Kosovo

Kosovo police on Monday arrested at least 40 people in a major operation targeting Islamic radicals suspected of fighting alongside extremists in Iraq and Syria.

Spokesman Baki Kelani said weapons, ammunition and explosives were seized as hundreds of police officers and special police units raided 60 locations across Kosovo, including makeshift mosques believed to have served as recruiting centers.

The police operation is the largest ever against suspected Islamic radicals in Kosovo. Authorities have been on alert as a growing number of ethnic Albanians have joined militants in Syria and Iraq and appeared on social media in attempts to lure more followers.

The thorny issue of religion has often brought conservative Muslims at loggerheads with secular Kosovars as the two groups struggle to set up a functioning country in the aftermath of the 1998-99 separatist war against Serbia.

Well it’s good I got up this morning.

World Elephant Day

Geez … ya think? #2

Voters Want Health Care Choices When Their Money’s At Stake

Attitudes toward the national health care law remain mostly negative, and voters continue to overwhelmingly favor consumer choice when buying health insurance. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44% of Likely U.S. Voters share a favorable opinion of the health care law, while 53% view it unfavorably. This includes 19% with a Very Favorable opinion and 39% with a Very Unfavorable one.

The lawless are complicating real law.

Ten years in the making, a landmark terrorism-related case is set to go to trial this week in New York. It has unearthed shocking documentation of the formalized network in which Mideast charities solicited funds to reward the families of Hamas suicide bombers. Interest in the lawsuit is heightened given the current violent outbreak between Israel and the Palestinians. …

But instead of a criminal case aimed at the attackers, the lawsuit goes after the prominent international Arab Bank for allegedly knowingly providing material support and services to Hamas, a designated terrorist group. Arab Bank contends it did not knowingly serve terrorists.

Probably paid under minimum wage.

Here’s The Burger-Flipping Robot That Could Put Fast-Food Workers Out Of A Job

A company called Momentum Machines has built a robot that could radically change the fast-food industry and have some line cooks looking for new jobs.

The company’s robot can “slice toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.” The robot is “more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.” That’s one burger every 10 seconds.

Geez … ya think?

Frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to psychologists. “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said one expert.

History shows us that they’ll find a way to screw it up.

It is not only Nevada. Republicans, who had appeared to hit a high-water mark in control of statehouses in recent years, are seeking to pick off another half-dozen chambers this year, taking advantage of President Obama’s persistent unpopularity, anxiety about the economy, and a history of anemic turnout among Democrats in nonpresidential election years. In addition, the party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in statehouses in those years.

You’re right – it is depressing.

Who knew that ‘back dooring’ all those devices would lead to fewer sales?

Apple iPads and MacBook Pros banned for Chinese government use

They can’t help themselves. Bad loans continue.

And they will continue to make sure that a number of people go broke and end up with a terrible credit rating.

I’m getting a government loan to buy a house. Is the next housing crisis my fault?First I’m going to tell you why I can afford a house, then I’m going to tell you why some people think that is a bad thing.

It was over a plate of linguine and cream sauce that I learned I could afford a home. We were eating at an upstairs neighbour’s apartment when Joel told us they bought their first home through the Federal Housing Authority. The government-run programme allows buyers to put down as little as 3.5% of the property’s sales price.

This was puzzling. Mortgage calculators and relatives always assumed a 20% down payment, thus so had I. What was this obscure programme Joel spoke of?

Iraq fighting back.

Key Takeaway: Iraq’s incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki maneuvered elite military units in Baghdad overnight on August 10, cutting off entrances to the protected Green Zone, in an effort to secure power by use of force. This is currently serving as a demonstration of force. The National Alliance has nominated an alternate Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, who is from Maliki’s Dawa Party and is serving as the Deputy Speaker of Iraq’s parliament. Iraq’s President Fuad Masum has asked him to form a government. Maliki is not likely to give up power quietly. Today will be decisive for the formation or demise of Iraq’s government.

Geez … ya think?

A Governor’s Dilemma: Illegal Immigrants Divert Resources From State’s Own Citizens

Who you gonna call? … Yeah, that would have been my first choice.

The leader of a health care advocacy group working with the Massachusetts Health Connector said she had no idea a company she hired to help enroll Bay Staters in Obamacare is a Democratic political strategy firm tied to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s daughter.

“I had never heard of Democracy Partners so I just Googled them,” Health Care For All Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer told the Herald in an email. “HCFA is VEHEMENTLY nonpartisan! We work very hard to maintain relationships on both sides of the political aisle, and have a consistent 30-year track record of working with the State Administration regardless of their party affiliation.”

Hmmm … they probably didn’t see this one coming.

Oracle Corp. has sued the state of Oregon in a fight over the state’s health insurance exchange, saying government officials are using the technology company’s software despite $23 million in disputed bills.

Oracle’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against Cover Oregon was filed Friday in federal court in Portland. It alleges that state officials repeatedly promised to pay the company but have not done so.

The lawsuit seeks payment of the disputed $23 million plus interest, along with other unspecified damages.

Oregon’s health-insurance enrollment website was never launched to the general public. State officials have blamed Oracle, but the company says the state’s bad management is responsible.

Now they tell us – after we’ve all stopped smoking.

Used Cigarette Filters Could Enable Next Generation of Supercapacitors

Say it isn’t so …

Two weeks ago, at a conference in South Africa, scientists met to discuss how to contain a deadly banana disease outbreak in nearby Mozambique, Africa. At fault was a fungus that continues its march around the planet. In recent years, it has spread across Asia and Australia, devastating plants there that bear the signature yellow supermarket fruit.

Pretty good history of the banana industry.

These ‘selfies’ can frequently lead to problems.

The Wikimedia Foundation insisted on Thursday it would not remove from its website a “selfie” taken by a mischievous monkey, despite claims from the British photographer whose camera was used that it breached his copyright.

David Slater says he is the owner of the photo of the grinning black crested macaque that went viral when he posted it online in 2011, and is threatening to sue Wikimedia for lost earnings of up to $30 000 (22 500 euros).

But the not-for-profit foundation, which oversees Wikipedia among other online resources, refuses to remove the picture from its bank of royalty-free photographs.

“Under US laws, the copyright cannot be owned by a non-human,” Wikimedia spokeswomen Katherine Maher told AFP.

Good idea.

Researchers are using graphene to develop artificial retinas that could be used as optical prostheses to help blind people see again.

Antisemitism in Europe

In the space of just one week last month, according to Crif, the umbrella group for France’s Jewish organisations, eight synagogues were attacked. One, in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, was firebombed by a 400-strong mob. A kosher supermarket and pharmacy were smashed and looted; the crowd’s chants and banners included “Death to Jews” and “Slit Jews’ throats”. That same weekend, in the Barbes neighbourhood of the capital, stone-throwing protesters burned Israeli flags: “Israhell”, read one banner.

In Germany last month, molotov cocktails were lobbed into the Bergische synagogue in Wuppertal – previously destroyed on Kristallnacht – and a Berlin imam, Abu Bilal Ismail, called on Allah to “destroy the Zionist Jews … Count them and kill them, to the very last one.” Bottles were thrown through the window of an antisemitism campaigner in Frankfurt; an elderly Jewish man was beaten up at a pro-Israel rally in Hamburg; an Orthodox Jewish teenager punched in the face in Berlin. In several cities, chants at pro-Palestinian protests compared Israel’s actions to the Holocaust; other notable slogans included: “Jew, coward pig, come out and fight alone,” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”

Across Europe, the conflict in Gaza is breathing new life into some very old, and very ugly, demons.

Aww geez …

Jonathan Alter at The Daily Beast has an idea that will infuse the president’s “economic patriotism” rhetoric with some bite: Compel companies to take “loyalty oaths” to prove their patriotism.

You may find this suggestion a little creepy, maybe even a little fascistic; but Alter says that “it’s time for red-blooded Americans to take matters into our own hands.”

And by taking the matter into “our” hands, Alter means that President Barack Obama would unilaterally bar any company that practices “inversion” — corporate merging with foreign firms to save on U.S. tax bills — from doing business with the federal government. Companies that follow the administration requirements would earn a government seal of approval. If you were to act “un-American” and fail to recognize your “real interests” and those of the United States — which are, naturally, indistinguishable from the president’s agenda — you would be shunned and your business punished.