I like that comic. When I was a kid, I liked Woody Woodpecker. I'd watch his cartoons and think they were great but, honestly, all I ever paid attention to was his laugh.
So we're talking about woodpeckers tonight. Jon Hamilton (NPR) reports:
The brain of a woodpecker experiences a seemingly catastrophic impact every time beak meets wood.
"When you see these birds in action, hitting their head against a tree quite violently, then as humans we start wondering how does this bird avoid getting headaches or brain damage," says Sam Van Wassenbergh, a researcher at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
In the past, scientists have suggested the bird's brain is protected from the impacts, perhaps by a skull that acts as a cushion, or a beak that absorbs some of the force, or a tongue that wraps around the brain.
[. . .]
For example, "they close their eyes at the moment they impact the wood," Van Wassenbergh says, to protect their eyes from splinters.
The videos also showed that woodpeckers' beaks often get stuck in the wood. But they break free almost instantly, thanks to a clever beak design that provides independent motion of the upper and lower beak.
What the videos did not show is any sign that the woodpecker's brain is somehow cushioned.
"The way we see the head behaving is very rigid, like you would use a hammer hitting wood," Van Wassenbergh says.
That means the organ repeatedly experiences deceleration that would cause a concussion in a human brain. Yet the woodpecker brain emerges unscathed, even after thousands of impacts in a single day.
So how does the woodpecker avoid concussions? The size and orientation of the bird’s brain safeguard it, the authors say. Even the strongest of wood pecks left the bird brains with less than 60% of the pressure needed to give a human brain a concussion. In addition, woodpeckers may contain specialized mechanisms to prevent and repair minor brain trauma.
Some scientists aren’t ready to rule out the bird’s built-in pillow quite yet. Jae-Young Jung, a biomedical engineer at the University of California, San Francisco, notes that woodpeckers are known to brave opponents tougher than wood—including metal poles. Although he agrees the birds appear not to employ shock absorption for everyday hammering, he suggests they may need it for other scenarios. Still, he says, the study “will open up new questions and new ideas about how woodpeckers really do their job.” And it shows yet again how impressively adapted the birds are to their behaviors.
As for humans, our big brains aren’t cut out for conking, no matter how frustrated we get. So, you should probably stick to wearing a helmet.
The world of science is filled with many mysteries.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, July 14, 2022. Each day brings more proof that Joe Biden is not up for the job.
Lame duck Joe Biden went limping to Israel. Patrick Martin (WSWS) notes:
US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel Wednesday to begin a four-day trip whose major purpose is to align the main US client states in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with Washington’s plans for war against Russia and Iran. After two days in Israel and the West Bank, he will move on to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi leaders and with representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes the five other Persian Gulf sheikdoms as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
It was supposed to be a ten-day trip but White House staffers don't think Joe's up to that so it was reduced to four days. THE TIMES OF ISRAEL explains:
Concerns regarding 79-year-old President Joe Biden’s ability to weather a 10-day trip abroad were among the reasons why the White House decided to delay the Mideast portion of the tour, according to a Sunday report in The New York Times.
[. . .]
But while the White House hinted the delay had to do with factors regarding the host countries, a US official told The Times that it would have been “crazy” to put the oldest president in American history through a 10-day foreign trip.
He's not fit to be president. He should step down but he's too senile to grasp that reality so he limps and shuffles across the world stage, creating one embarrassment after another.
Patrick Martin also notes:
In pursuit of this military agenda, Biden is simply dropping the issues of “human rights” that have been used to screen the policies of American imperialism. In particular, Biden will hold a face-to-face meeting with the de facto Saudi ruler, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he once denounced as a “pariah” because of his role in ordering the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Israel too has been given a pass on murderous actions against the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, although that is nothing new for the US government. Only a week before Biden left for his visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the State Department issued a report on the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akhlef, who was shot to death by an Israeli sniper while she was reporting on Israeli military operations in the West Bank city of Jenin for Al Jazeera Arabic.
The report found that an Israeli soldier likely killed Abu Akhlef, but the State Department claimed that there was no evidence the shooting was deliberate, despite the journalist wearing a bullet-proof vest and a sign clearly identifying her as press. Her death was merely a “tragic accident,” the US government agency declared.
Joe offers nothing to root for, nothing to be proud of.
His 'accomplishments' tend to be failures. Lucy Bayly and Alicia Wallace (CNN) report:
Inflation surged to a new pandemic-era peak in June, with US consumer prices jumping by 9.1% year-over-year, according to fresh data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Consumer Price Index for June also showed that overall prices that consumers pay for a variety of goods and services rose by 1.3% from May to June.
Old Man Biden, one failure after another. He should be in a nursing home, not the White House.
The rate of inflation in the United States hit 9.1 percent in June, with consumer prices rising at the fastest pace since November 1981, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Wednesday. Across-the-board hikes in fuel, food, housing, medical care, clothing and other living expenses are squeezing household budgets. Everything is going up except workers’ paychecks.
The increase in the Consumer Price Index, which rose from an already four-decade high of 8.6 percent in May, continued to be driven chiefly by surging energy and food costs. Energy prices shot up 7.5 percent last month and are up 41.6 percent over the last 12 months. Gasoline rose 11.2 percent in June and is up 59.9 percent over the last year.
The current national average for a gallon of gas was $4.63 yesterday, according to the American Automobile Association, with prices in California at $6.02 a gallon. This means it takes $60 to fill up an average passenger car or $120 for a pickup truck or SUV. With an average manufacturing wage of $24.95 an hour before taxes, a factory worker now must labor anywhere from three to six hours just to pay for gas to go back and forth to work. Many now carpool to work, while lower-paid and part-time workers find it increasingly unaffordable to drive at all.
With electricity costs rising another 1.7 percent in June and 13.7 percent year-over-year, working class families and seniors on fixed incomes are shutting off lights and air conditioners despite the summer time heat wave. Natural gas rose 8.2 percent last month and 38.4 percent over the last year, leaving many wondering how they will heat their homes come the fall and winter.
Food costs also continued to jump, with prices rising 1.3 percent between May and June and 10.5 percent over the last year, the highest increase since 1981. Many common food items have risen even higher over the last year, with eggs and margarine up 36 percent, chicken parts up 23 percent and whole milk prices up 18.8 percent.
The anti-hunger Feeding America program reported in March that 65 percent of its 200 food pantries had seen increased demand compared to previous months. One of its affiliates, the Killeen Food Care Center in central Texas, reported that it served a record 8,830 people in June, including 1,600 seniors. “We have fed the highest amount of people in our 35-year history,” Raymond Cockrell, the center’s executive director, told the Killeen Daily Herald.
Joe will take no responsibility, he'll blame someone else. He keeps doing that and the American people keep seeing that he's not up to the job. It's causing panic for some Democrats facing re-election. Rick Klein, Averi Harper, and Alisa Wiersema (ABC's THE NOTE) report:
Inflation is low-hanging political fruit for Republicans amid everyday reminders -- underscored by weekly and monthly data drops -- that show prices spiraling while policy solutions are fleeting.
But what might be as telling this week, with President Joe Biden in the Middle East for a high-profile foreign trip, is what some Democrats are saying about the rising cost of goods that’s clearly not transitory and also seemingly not lifting itself from voters’ minds in time for the midterms.
It’s not just Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who fired another shot across progressive bows with a new declaration -- in the context of ongoing talks with the White House -- that “no matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have ... we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio -- a member of the majority party in the House who hopes to join the Senate majority next year -- called the latest inflation numbers “awful” in a video posted from the campaign trail: “People are getting absolutely crushed. We need a tax cut now.”
Pennsylvania's Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, also currently in elected office and also looking to join the Senate, said: “We need bold action NOW to make more s--- in America, fix our broken supply chains, and take on corporate greed to bring down the cost of everything, for everyone.”
Those three Democrats share something of an everyman profile and also hail from states where Democrats may need to work extra hard to make working-class connections. It’s a brand of politics that isn’t all that foreign to “Scranton Joe,” though.
How bad are things really? The International Money Fund is writing about the US:
The IMF’s annual review of the US economy focuses on the policies needed to return inflation to the Fed’s medium-term target. Most workers’ wages have failed to keep up with inflation, eroding the purchasing power of households and causing significant hardship. Although increases in gasoline and food prices have been affected by global events, the prices of a broader range of items have also risen strongly, including housing and transportation. If left unchecked, these price increases could become long lasting. In our assessment, we conclude that the Fed should act quickly and assertively to tackle inflation and restore price stability.
Joe Biden's biggest accomplishment? Turning the US into a third-world nation. At COMMON DREAMS, Jake Johnson writes:
Hotter-than-expected inflation data published Wednesday intensified fears among progressive economists that the Federal Reserve—in its single-minded drive to tame price increases—will needlessly lock in another major interest rate hike at its policy meeting later this month, further suppressing economic demand and moving the country closer to a recession.
"This morning's report highlights the fact that aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed have done little to combat the inflation that continues to take a toll on workers, families, and small businesses across the country," said Dr. Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative. "Additional rate hikes would push millions out of work and... raise the risk of a recession that would only worsen economic pain."
[. . .]
At its July 26-27 meeting, the central bank is widely expected to enact another rate hike of at least 75 basis points—and there's some concern that the Fed will go even further with a 100-basis-point increase.
The central bank appears hellbent on imposing additional rate hikes even though top officials, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell, have admitted that the blunt policy tool will do nothing to tackle sky-high energy and food prices.
Rate hikes also won't repair supply chain snags stemming from the coronavirus pandemic or tackle corporate profiteering, which progressive economists and lawmakers have argued is a major factor in persistent inflation.
Andrew Keshner (MARKETWATCH) reveals, "In the meantime, waning purchasing power is grinding people down. It just takes a trip to the grocery store to remember that. The latest inflation data showed grocery prices climbing 1% month over month and 12.2% year-over-year, marking the biggest increase since 1979."
Meanwhile, the always ridiculous Mustafa al-Kadhimi takes time out from doing nothing to write a piece for FOREIGN POLICY:
When U.S. President Joe Biden comes to the Middle East this week, he will be arriving in a region facing numerous challenges, from terrorism to food insecurity and climate change. But the Middle East is also a region that is increasingly facing those challenges together under a group of leaders pursuing positive change. I will represent a resilient Iraq that stands more confidently on the international stage and is stronger than when he last visited Baghdad as U.S. vice president in 2016—or even than when we met in the Oval Office last year.
For many years, Iraq leaned heavily on the United States. We are grateful for the years of assistance and the sacrifice Americans have made to support us. Today’s Iraq is finding its own footing at home, in the region, and in the world. One thing I hope he takes away from our meeting in Saudi Arabia on Friday is the firmness of my and the Iraqi people’s resolve to solve Iraq’s problems with Iraqi solutions.
Iraq is now a multiparty, multiethnic constitutional democracy. Yes, we are still in a protracted process of forming a new government following national elections last fall. It has taken a long time, rightly frustrating many in Iraq and abroad. I share that frustration—but I’m also proud of how our state has carried on the everyday business of serving Iraqi citizens, safeguarding the country’s natural resources, and leading regional initiatives that promote prosperity and security.
Mustafa should be out of office. Iraq held elections October 10th. No one wants the failure to continue as prime minister. But Iraq's inability to name a new president and a new prime minister leaves Mustafa in his job for now.
In their meeting, will Joe press the issue of equality? Will he call out the push to outlaw LGBTQs in Iraq? Cowardly and senile, Joe'll probably opt to offer another lecture about Ireland in the 1980s. Nico Lang (X-TRA) reports:
Homosexuality has been legal in Iraq for almost 20 years, but some prominent leaders in the country want to change that.
Aref al-Hamami, an MP representing the State of Law coalition, confirmed last week that he intends to introduce a bill that would recriminalize acts of sexual intercourse between partners of the same sex. On July 8, al-Hamami told the Iraqi News Agency that members of the parliamentary legal committee have agreed to hear a proposal “to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq.”
“[The] legislation of such a law will be reinforced by legal provisions that prevent homosexuality and the perversions associated with it,” he said.
Al-Hamami did not outline what kinds of punishments would be mandated for same-sex intimacy or when the Council of Representatives—the formal name of Iraq’s parliament—might take up the bill. The future of the legislature is currently uncertain: 73 parliamentarians abruptly resigned in June after the lawmaking body failed to form a coalition government for nearly eight months, according to Al-Jazeera.
Among those who exited parliament was one of the bill’s most powerful potential allies: the influential Shia cleric and scholar Muqtada al-Sadr. In a May tweet, al-Sadr cited the monkeypox epidemic—which has disproportionately impacted the LGBTQ+ community on a global scale—as a pretense “for a repeal of laws upholding gay rights to protect humanity.” In a separate post, he called for a “special day against homosexuals and their reprehensible obscenity on earth and in heaven.”
Oh, that Miss Moqtada, always spreading love, spreading love. He's disgusting and so is the US Congress which can't say a word on the issue. They can, however, fret over other things. MIDDLE EAST EYE notes:
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has urged President Joe Biden to publicly oppose Iraq's recently expanded law which criminalises the normalisation of relations with Israel.
In a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday, 24 House and Senate lawmakers urged Biden to further promote normalisation between Israel and Arab countries during his visit to the Middle East this week.
Earlier this year, Iraq's parliament passed a law that would make it a crime to normalise ties with Israel, with violations of the law punishable with life in prison or the death penalty. The new legislation provides wider definitions for acts considered a violation compared with the original statute dating back to 1969.
When Clarence Thomas gets around to outlawing gays in the US, remember that the US Congress doesn't work to protect American citizens, it works to protect the government of Israel. We'll note this Tweet:
I need you to take action on the Equal Rights Amendment today, Common Ills.
The Equal Rights Amendment prohibits discrimination based on sex. Given the devastating Supreme Court decision to repeal Roe in late June, it is even more obvious that the ERA is needed more than ever.
We MUST act now to enshrine the ERA in the US Constitution.
The US House has already removed the original time limit set on the ERA. Now the House is in the process of advancing House Res. 891, which expresses the sense of the House that the ERA to the US Constitution is valid. This means that the ERA has already been ratified.
The wording of House Res. 891 was intentionally modeled after the resolution used to confirm the validity of the very important 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
179 members of the House have already signed on to the resolution as co-sponsors. We want 218 total co-sponsors, the majority of the House, to sign on to House Res. 891. We want this to happen as quickly as possible. To do that we need your help.
Your job is easy! We need you to urge your Representative who is pro ERA to become a co-sponsor of this historic House Res. 891. As well, please ask your Representative to urge other members of the House to become a co-sponsor of House Res. 891. To show its importance, Speaker Pelosi has become the leading cosponsor.
P.S. Please help be a part of this historic moment by reaching out to your Representative today!