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Officer Darren Wilson’s story is unbelievable. Literally.

Posted on November 27th, 2014 at 17:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


But on Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence given to the grand jury, including the interview police did with Wilson in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And so we got to read, for the first time, Wilson’s full, immediate account of his altercation with Brown.

And it is unbelievable.

I mean that in the literal sense of the term: “difficult or impossible to believe.” But I want to be clear here. I’m not saying Wilson is lying. I’m not saying his testimony is false. I am saying that the events, as he describes them, are simply bizarre. His story is difficult to believe.

The medical examiner didn’t take photos of Mike Brown’s body because his camera ran out of batteries?


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Oh my!

Posted on November 27th, 2014 at 17:07 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Iraqi warplanes kill ISIS commander of Heet and 22 of his aides

Posted on November 26th, 2014 at 22:26 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


Al-Anbar (IraqiNews.com) On Wednesday, the president of al-Baghdadi Council Malollah al-Abidi announced, that the ISIS military leader of Heet district and 22 of his key aides have been killed in an air strike yesterday.

Al-Abidi stated for IraqiNews, “In the late hours of yesterday, Iraqi warplanes conducted an air strike against ISIS ranks, destroying 5 armored vehicles in an area located 70 km west of Ramadi. The air strike also resulted in killing the ISIS military leader of Heet, known as Sannan Moteb alongside 22 of his key aides.”

I guess he couldn’t…


( •_•)>⌐■-■


…take the heet.

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Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides

Posted on November 25th, 2014 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members.

Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse.

And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners.

As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.


A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.

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Ferguson’s Other Race Problem: Riots Damaged Asian-Owned Stores

Posted on November 25th, 2014 at 14:40 by John Sinteur in category: News



Among Asian-American business owners in Ferguson, and other business owners in the St. Louis suburb, there is a deep concern over whether insurance will cover the damages from the looting. Many insurance contracts expressly consider civil unrest a reason not to pay out policies.

“It’s a fear over whether the insurance cover the damage, and repeated damage,” said Kathleen Osborn, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Business Council, referring to the small businesses in Ferguson her group is trying to assist. “Some of them are so small they don’t have the expertise to fill out the insurance forms.”

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Symantec uncovers Regin, a highly advanced stealth spying tool developed by a nation state

Posted on November 24th, 2014 at 14:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


In the world of malware threats, only a few rare examples can truly be considered groundbreaking and almost peerless. What we have seen in Regin is just such a class of malware. Regin is an extremely complex piece of software that can be customized with a wide range of different capabilities which can be deployed depending on the target. It is built on a framework that is designed to sustain long-term intelligence-gathering operations by remaining under the radar. It goes to extraordinary lengths to conceal itself and its activities on compromised computers. Its stealth combines many of the most advanced techniques that we have ever seen in use.

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Startup bros trying to bio-hack vaginas is the problem with Silicon Valley

Posted on November 24th, 2014 at 13:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you are a woman, you might wonder which problem this is really solving. If you are a woman and have heretofore eschewed the douchebag industrial complex, you might, in fact, be perfectly happy with your healthy vagina’s natural smell and have never felt the slightest urge to have the scent of fuzzy fruits waft up from your lady garden. And you almost certainly would wonder why two guys have such firm ideas of how your vagina should smell.

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  1. I don’t see, or smell, the problem. Non-prescription cosmetics, perfumes, lubes, hair and body “care” products are a huge business. Cheaper to develop than drugs, in general you don’t have to prove efficacy, just safety. It’s all gravy if you can get people to buy it and, er, use it.

    Douchebag industrial complex? Blimey! I’ll do the worrying about climate change etc. if you take on the worrying about douche flavors, madam.

  2. And if you have a yeast infection, you might not wonder what problem this is solving.

Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt on Journalists

Posted on November 19th, 2014 at 16:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


There is something very wrong with this company. It’s like Richard Nixon came back from the grave and is running a startup.

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  1. Uber and “a French escort service?” Quelle horreur! Didn’t the lady know that tarts and taxis go together like, well, brie and baguettes?

Getting the word out

Posted on November 16th, 2014 at 10:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


A groundbreaking study traces toxins from Alberta’s oilsands to northern Alberta’s wildlife, vegetation and a cluster of cancer cases among First Nations in the region.

Never heard of it? That’s no surprise.

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  1. Even the language has been manipulated; nasty, dirty tar sand deposits have been cleaned up into job- and revenue-providing oilsands. The Canadian government (still using Mr. Rove’s playbook) won’t acknowledge anything difficult. They just don’t show up.

    Their base likes: war, the flag, extractive industries, (ice) hockey, property rights, big trucks, climate change, agribusiness.
    Dislikes: immigrants, first nations rights, women’s rights, environmentalists, civil servants.

    It’s a pity because there are a series of conversations that are overdue and they’re not completely wrong on everything.

  2. Obama on Keystone XL: “Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.”

  3. @johno: It’s one of the sad ironies of this development. For some reason digging this series of big fugging holes in the ground over 25 years and squeezing out that oil stuff into buckets wasn’t enough. They’re now competing for train tankers with explosive Nebraska crude.

  4. I’m really tired of all these studies that break the ground in so many places. Nature is precious, they should leave the ground alone.

Beat the Tube: London sprinter manages to get off a train, run to the next stop, and board it again

Posted on November 16th, 2014 at 10:12 by Paul Jay in category: News


So while the distance on the ground is only 0.1 miles, the journey time on the train is only a minute and a half, not to mention getting from the underground to street-level and back again! We’re in awe of this guy and relieved that he didn’t inadvertently knock down a dear old lady while pelting through a crowded station.

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  1. Купил както текстильное оборудование могу рассказать что полностью доволен приобретением, советую всем! заказ делал через сайтa интернет магазина, обработали быстрее чем я думал, консультанты для сайте вежливые и отзывчивые,нравиться было.)) Вот ссылка для самопроизвольно сайт, кому нужно все для текстеля

Syrian ‘hero boy’ video faked by Norwegian director

Posted on November 15th, 2014 at 12:01 by John Sinteur in category: News


Millions of YouTube viewers have been captivated by the ‘Syrian hero boy’ who manages to rescue a little girl while under gunfire. Now a group of Norwegian filmmakers have told BBC Trending they are behind it. They say it was filmed on location in Malta this summer with the intention of being presented as real.

Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director based in Oslo, wrote a script after watching news coverage of the conflict in Syria. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

“If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope,” he said. “We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator,” Klevberg said. “The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta.”

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81% of Tor users can be de-anonymised by analysing router information, research indicates

Posted on November 15th, 2014 at 10:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


Research undertaken between 2008 and 2014 suggests that more than 81% of Tor clients can be ‘de-anonymised’ – their originating IP addresses revealed – by exploiting the ‘Netflow’ technology that Cisco has built into its router protocols, and similar traffic analysis software running by default in the hardware of other manufacturers.

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The Truth About the Wars

Posted on November 11th, 2014 at 16:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


We did not understand the enemy, a guerrilla network embedded in a quarrelsome, suspicious civilian population. We didn’t understand our own forces, which are built for rapid, decisive conventional operations, not lingering, ill-defined counterinsurgencies. We’re made for Desert Storm, not Vietnam. As a general, I got it wrong. Like my peers, I argued to stay the course, to persist and persist, to “clear/hold/build” even as the “hold” stage stretched for months, and then years, with decades beckoning. We backed ourselves season by season into a long-term counterinsurgency in Iraq, then compounded it by doing likewise in Afghanistan. The American people had never signed up for that.

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  1. “Maybe an incomplete and imperfect effort to contain the Islamic State is as good as it gets. Perhaps the best we can or should do is to keep it busy, “degrade” its forces, harry them or kill them, and seek the long game at the lowest possible cost.”

    Aside from his frank admissions, I’m sure you caught his conclusion above. I think most Americans agree with him.

  2. He still joins up the Afghanistan war and the 2nd Iraq war. They were (and are) different. (The decision to go to war in each place was above his pay grade, I’m sure.)

    It didn’t matter whether they were fighting as if it was the previous war, or the one before that. (They also lost the Vietnam war, I seem to remember, and they did have a fairly clear objective there.)

    Empires have trouble with these kind of “away game” conflicts. “Declare victory and leave” is Gwnne Dyer’s advice. It is embarrassing and annoying but not an existential threat to the US.

    Pity the people who are killed, injured, terrorized or displaced in the process, not the disillusioned functionaries.

  3. FWIW, Mr. Dyer’s position: http://gwynnedyer.com/2014/terrorism-101/

  4. Not a traditional empire, Sue. Most empires (Greece, Rome, Persia, British, Russian, etc) annihilate and then plant their flag over their conquest. I give the functionaries a break and the “people who are killed, injured, terrorized or displaced in the process” who allowed the truly evil men and their enablers to spring up from within their midst, well, I assign them a modicum of responsibility for the condition they find themselves in. I do feel for today’s children in those parts of the world but my guess is they’ll grow up and continue to touch up the bullseye that the previous generations have maintained rather than paint over it and break the cycle.

  5. These countries seem to prefer isolation, and I agree completely with that.

  6. @Rob: An empire of Western democracies at the least, with the US at the head. On the whole, it has many advantages, which is why some people are prepared to die trying to get in illegally.

    If people don’t have democracy, I don’t see how they can be blamed for their government. To step out of line is to get arrested, tortured or killed. There were large anti-status quo demonstrations in the last couple of years in Iran, Bahrain, Egypt (to name but a few) that were ruthlessly suppressed. Hong Kong…who knows?

    (What I don’t understand is why many people in democracies don’t vote, but that’s another debate entirely :-)

  7. Yeah, who wouldn’t want to vote in the next election with Hillary and Jeb the front runners?

  8. I don’t see why the people can’t be blamed for their government, regardless of what type it is. The United States wasn’t always a democracy. She was a group of colonies under the thumb of the most powerful nation on Earth. Independence from tyranny is possible. The price now is the same as it was in 1776. No inflation in that economy … :)

    I voted for the first time in 1984, nine years after I was eligible. I’m disappointed in myself for that. I’ve missed one or two since but I mostly get to the polls when elections come around. I think one of the problems with voter apathy is that there are just entirely too many elections. Here in Louisiana, there are elections in every even-numbered year and we elect our governor every four years in an odd-numbered year. There are elections every year and sometimes even more than one per year. My precinct had over 70% turnout last week. Pretty high for a midterm. If we held elections every 500 years like they do in other parts of the world, I think we could expect higher turnout … :) The bigger and simpler reason we have voter apathy here, though, is because the average citizen goes through their daily life with almost zero deference to government. It’s simply not that important to them who’s in office because they think it makes no difference in their life.

  9. @chas: I’d pick the woman…isn’t her brother an ex-president or something?

    @Rob: Yup, we get the government we deserve :-)

  10. Wow, Sue. That last comment was wonderfully cutting in context. Well done.

Cable companies ‘stunned’ by Obama’s ‘extreme’ net neutrality proposals

Posted on November 11th, 2014 at 10:31 by John Sinteur in category: News


America’s major telecoms and cable companies and business groups came out fighting on Monday after Barack Obama called for tough new regulations for broadband that would protect net neutrality, saying they were “stunned” by the president’s proposals.

The president called for new regulations to protect “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. His move came as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalises a new set of proposals for regulation after the old rules were overturned by a series of court defeats at the hands of cable and telecom companies.

In response, Republican senator Ted Cruz went so far as to call Obama’s proposal for regulating the web “Obamacare for the internet”, saying on Twitter “the internet should not operate at the speed of government.”

The “Obamacare for the internet”? What does that even mean?

Something that’s actually in the best interests of the american people to have, but they are going to spin it so the american people are against it, because corporations can make more money screwing over people then they can giving them the service they actually want.

Or, if you have a pre-existing internet connection, you can get another provider?

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  1. Like most things internet, net neutrality is thoroughly misunderstood here and Republicans are masters of misunderstanding. :)

  2. The “Obamacare for the internet”? What does that even mean?—- It is code to the ditto heads, “You are supposed to hate this.”

    Republicans like Ted Cruz are relentless when it comes to hating all things Obama. These people have only one goal, total slavery for the American people. They are so beholden to large corporations they will do anything they say.

    PS, Ted Cruz was born in Canada– Canada will you please come and get your Ted Cruz, we are tired of him already.

  3. Sorry Joe, he is where he wants to be, and it’s a free country isn’t it?

    (Joking aside, I agree with your observation about corporatism. I am sorry to say that I don’t see all this ending well, but perhaps I am just a silly old woman.)

  4. He’s my senator. When I sent him a letter telling him I support net neutrality I got this awesome response:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding net neutrality. Input from my fellow Texans significantly informs my decision-making and helps me better represent your interests.

    The FCC’s latest ‘net neutrality’ order, a proposal to give itself the authority to dictate how Internet services will be provided to millions of Americas, would stifle innovation and subject the Internet to nanny-state regulation from Washington. Twice, a federal court has ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate the internet, and the FCC has yet utterly failed to present evidence of an actual problem that this proposal is supposed to address. This approach must be rejected.

    Since 1996, more than $1 trillion has been invested in broadband infrastructure in the United States, which has led to an explosion of new content, applications, and Internet accessibility. Congress, not an unelected commission, should take the lead on modernizing our telecommunications laws, and the FCC must not endanger future investments by stifling growth in the online sector, which remains a much-needed bright spot in our struggling economy.

    Thank you again for sharing your views with me. Please feel free to contact me in the future about any issue important to your family. It is an honor to serve you and the people of Texas.

  5. @jen

    well, we see who’s pocket he’s in. As a cynic, I cannot say I’m surprised. Most of them are sock cookers as far as I’m concerned.

    I seem to recall a Texas legislator opposing wind farms a few years ago on the basis that they harm the environment by slowing down the wind. Big oil? just a hunch.

    Don’t feel bad. Here in the “great” state of Alabama, we have our share of wankers too. (facepalm)

  6. @Michael: Great Alabama’s Wanker Share is a great band name, tho…

RIP: Click Tappet (1937-2014)

Posted on November 9th, 2014 at 16:07 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Tom Magliozzi who, along with his brother Ray, hosted NPR’s hit comedy show Car Talk for the last 37 years, died Monday morning from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. “Turns out he wasn’t kidding,” said Ray. “He really couldn’t remember last week’s puzzler.”

“Don’t die like my brother!” was a comment deleted by a moderator on the NPR website. Tom would have cracked up.


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  1. I read a few days ago that when Tom died, we had lost a national treasure. We have. If there’s an afterlife, I hope Tom has a good one. He deserves it. I know I’m gonna miss him and so will many others.

    Enjoy the road ahead Tom!

  2. I will avoid puns here and simply say it is always sad to loose such exceptional talent.

The profit motive in US education reform

Posted on November 8th, 2014 at 15:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Unfortunately, introducing children to classic works of literature won’t raise their abysmal test scores…. This is because standardized tests are not based on general knowledge. As I learned in the course of my investigation, they are based on specific knowledge contained in specific sets of books: the textbooks created by the test makers.

[But] there’s simply too little money in the education budget. The Elements of Literature textbook costs $114.75. However, in 2012–2013, Tilden (like every other middle school in Philadelphia) was only allocated $30.30 per student to buy books—and that amount, which was barely a quarter the price of one textbook, was supposed to cover every subject, not just one. My own calculations show that the average Philadelphia school had only 27 percent of the books required to teach its curriculum in 2012-2013, and it would have cost $68 million to pay for all the books schools need.

-From Meredith Broussard’s article in The Atlantic about standardized testing and how Philadelphia schools track (and afford) the textbooks necessary to pass.

In an interview with EdSurge, a trade outlet, Shelton explained that the Common Core standards will allow education companies to produce products that “can scale across many markets,” overcoming the “fragmented procurement market” that has plagued investors seeking to enter the K-12 sector. Moreover, Shelton and his team manage an education innovation budget, awarding grants to charter schools and research centers to advance the next breakthrough in education technology. Increased research and development in education innovation, Shelton wrote in testimony to Congress, will spark the next “equivalent of Google or Microsoft to lead the global learning technology market.” He added, “I want it to be a US company.”

-From Lee Fang’s article in The Nation how US education reform creates openings for private investors.

[An]n in-depth look into the district’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to close one South Ward school reveals how real estate concerns and facilities funding increasingly drive neighborhood school closings and the expansion of privately managed charter schools. By allocating millions of dollars in little-known bonds exclusively to charters while imposing austerity on public facilities, the state has quietly stacked the deck for charters, leaving neighborhood schools to molder in decline… Bringing a charter into Hawthorne could allow the state to scrimp on renovation costs. Charters’ access to bonds, Roberts says, allows them to “improve these community assets” – that is, school houses – “and allows the district to continue to operate. And keeps the district viable.” This saves the state, which controls Newark schools, from paying to fix the very schools it let fall into disrepair.

From Owen Davis’ article in truth-out.org about Charter Schools’ access to bonds not available to public schools in New Jersey.

Lastly, this hasn’t happened yet but if passed into law would be truly outrageous:

Yes, every profession has means of defrocking people who commit egregious and unpardonable offenses. But– and I’m going to repeat this because I’m afraid your This Can’t Be Real filter is keeping you from seeing the words that I’m typing– Massachusetts proposes to take your license to teach away if you have a couple of low evaluations.

From Curmudgucation.

All links from Observational Epidemiolgy.

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  1. Home school has meant religious fanaticism heretofore in the U.S. But moments like these may spawn the development of home school collectives. Corporate education is a testament to the deep corruption of the U.S. political system. Corporate education takes the fun and thrill of learning out children and turns it into a hated chore. What a better way to to create a nation of drone. Time for a revolt.

How the FBI just made the world a more dangerous place by shutting down Silkroad 2.0 and a bunch of online drug markets

Posted on November 7th, 2014 at 16:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


When it comes to the darknet economy, the general law enforcement impulse seems to be “shut everything down.” But as Conor Friedersdorf noted at the Atlantic last year, there’s a strong argument to be made that shutting down darknet sites makes the world more dangerous overall. For starters, the emphasis on quality means that darknet purchasers are getting purer, safer product than they would otherwise. This would lead to lower harm and loss of life due to ingesting adulterated drugs.

More to the point, if you’re buying drugs online you’re not supporting local drug dealers and the crime and violence that typically accompany open air drug markets, particularly in inner cities. By cutting those sellers out of the equation, you’re seeing a net reduction in violence overall.

The question, though, is whether the ease of drug access on the darknet will lead to higher rates of use overall, particularly of the more dangerous drugs like heroin and methamphetamines. The overall societal harm from increased use could offset any benefits accrued from the safer online transactions.

In any case, law enforcement agencies and policymakers should think long and hard before deciding to take action against illicit online economies.

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  1. Think? C’mon, we don’t do “reason”, we don’t do “harm reduction” – that’s just admitting that we had a War on Drugs and are still losing…Oh, wait…

  2. The “War on Drugs” isn’t about public safety or public health. It has 3 goals:
    1) Public outrage (leads to votes for conservatives)
    2) Enrich / empower police departments (law enforcement has tools to suppress non-conformity)
    3) Siphon money to large corporations (primary goal of all US laws)

    The goal was never to increase public health, because making people better isn’t a sustainable model either to get votes or make a profit. It’s too much like helping people who are in trouble, which only liberals do.

    The weakened effectiveness of goal 1 (public outrage now being directed against law enforcement) indicates that it’s going to take effort to maintain the charade (and the travesty) of this policy. However, those who have benefited from goals 2 and 3 are unwilling to abandon the policy, so it will be a hard fight before conservative lawmakers are willing to surrender on the issue, and even then it will be a surrender to distract from some other moral failure of a policy.

    The more cynical in the peanut gallery will notice that the 3 goals above are now served more effectively by the War on Terror, especially since the formula’s been tweaked to replace “outrage” with “fear”, since angry people are easy to lead, but fearful people are easy to control.

The U.S. Elections: Bi-Partisan Vote Buying. Corporate PR Campaigns. Déjà Vu All Over Again

Posted on November 7th, 2014 at 15:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


Eventually the tired game will exhaust itself. Beneath the billions of dollars U.S. elections are lifeless events. The predictable flopping from Democrat to Republican and back again, with voters given no real choice but to punish the party in power — by electing the party that was punished previously. This endless, irrational dynamic is the foundation of the U.S. electoral system.

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Families Rejoice As California Votes To Release All Non Violent Drug War Prisoners

Posted on November 7th, 2014 at 15:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


California approved a major shift against mass incarceration on Tuesday in a vote that could lead to the release of thousands of state prisoners. Nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will be downgraded to misdemeanors under the ballot measure, Proposition 47. As many as 10,000 people could be eligible for early release from state prisons, and it’s expected that courts will annually dispense around 40,000 fewer felony convictions.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the new measure will save hundreds of millions of dollars on prisons. That money is to be redirected to education, mental health and addiction services — a novel approach that reformers hope will serve as a model in the larger push against mass incarceration.

Dear California, there’s nothing novel about it, if only you bothered to look at different countries…

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  1. A tiny crack in the Berlin Wall of social conservatism.

2 pastors, 90-year-old man arrested for feeding homeless in Fort Lauderdale

Posted on November 6th, 2014 at 1:36 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Police in Florida arrested two pastors and a 90-year-old man who were feeding the homeless, say they violated a new ordinance in Fort Lauderdale that essentially bans public food sharing.

South Florida television station WPLG reports homeless advocate Arnold Abbott and ministers Dwayne Black and Mark Sims were arrested Sunday. They face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The ordinance took effect Friday.

Abbot runs a nonprofit group called Love Thy Neighbor, Inc. He says he was feeding the homeless in a park when a police officer told him to “drop that plate right now!”.

Mr. Abbot, 90, is what one might call a good Christian. Unlike the officials of Fort Lauderdale…there are many thousands of homeless people in their county and they are treating them like stray animals.

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  1. I’m curious. Are there laws against feeding pigeons and squirrels too? How about stray dogs? Alligators?

  2. I’m reminded of Key West’s heroic struggle with its chickens:


Marijuana profits up in smoke under IRS rules

Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 17:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


Voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., will decide Tuesday whether to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. But any new pot shops that voters approve may not be able to survive a drug war-era tax code that already threatens many businesses in Colorado and Washington state.

Under this tax code the federal government stands to make more money from the sale of marijuana than those legally selling it. And that could be enough to shut down many shops.

“It’s almost like they want us to fail,” said Mitch Woolhiser, while walking through his store called Northern Lights Cannabis Co. in Edgewater, Colo. “Everything I do is aimed at keeping us in business because if I don’t, then (the feds) win. And I’m not going to let them win.”

Woolhiser believes the federal government is actively seeking to undermine his business.

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What Shakespeare taught me about Marxism

Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 10:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you could watch Shakespeare’s history plays back-to-back, starting with King John and ending with Henry VIII, it would, at first sight, be like an HBO drama series without a central plot: murders, wars and mayhem, all set within an apparently meaningless squabble between kings and dukes.

But once you understand what a ‘mode of production’ is the meaning becomes clear. What you are watching is the collapse of feudalism and the emergence of early capitalism.

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As the Berlin Wall fell, checks on capitalism crumbled | Larry Elliott | Business | The Guardian

Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 10:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


As it turned out, the end of the cold war was not unbridled good news for the citizens of the west. For a large part of the postwar era, the Soviet Union was seen as a real threat and even in the 1980s there was little inkling that it would disappear so quickly. A powerful country with a rival ideology and a strong military acted as a restraint on the west. The fear that workers could “go red” meant they had to be kept happy. The proceeds of growth were shared. Welfare benefits were generous. Investment in public infrastructure was high.

There was no need to be so generous once the Soviet Union was no more. What was known as neoliberal economics was born in the 1970s, but it was not until the 1990s that market forces reigned supreme. The free market spread to poorer parts of the world where it had previously been off limits, expanding the global workforce. That meant cheaper goods but it also put downward pressure on wages.

What’s more, there was no longer any need to be inhibited. Those running companies could take a bigger slice of profits because there was nowhere else for workers to go. If citizens did not like “reform” of welfare states, they just had to lump it.

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  1. So wait, the existence of the Soviet Union determines whether workers in thre West will unionize?

    Will the U.S. start an arms race with France next to wipe out that bad example?

    Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

  2. That’s not the way I read it, Desiato. I took it to mean those who weren’t happy in their workplace could always pack up and move to one of those communist utopias. Their income level would be about the same or less but they’d only be as miserable as everyone else, not more. I’m sure you remember that wave of dissatisfied workers doing just that back in the 80s???

Fiona Woolf quits as head of inquiry into historic child sex abuse

Posted on November 1st, 2014 at 21:29 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Fiona Woolf has stepped down as the head of the inquiry into historic child sex abuse allegations…

Doubt was cast on her suitability for the role after it was revealed in September that she had links to Leon Brittan, the former Home Secretary who is likely to give evidence to the inquiry…

Woolf is the second head of the inquiry to step down. The original appointee, Baroness Butler-Sloss, voluntarily resigned the position in July after it was revealed that her brother, Lord Michael Havers, was attorney general during the period the abuse is said to have taken place.

To lose one posh female head of inquiry could be deemed a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.

(With apologies to Mr. Wilde)

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A few pages from Dr. Evil’s playbook

Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 22:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


A hallmark of his campaigns is the lack of transparency:

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ ” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

A particularly salient bit from the transcript of Berman’s speech (the first five or so pages, before his associate starts up, are particularly interesting):

We’re reframing this debate so it’s not just about going up to $10.10 [the minimum wage], there’s some other things that people need to think about.

You want to get people to say, one of my north stars is to get people to say, “You know, I never thought of it that way before.”

Because, if you can get people to say that, here’s what you get: instead of getting the ‘he said, she said debate,’ what you will get with the factual debate, often times, you’re going to get into people get overwhelmed by the science and ‘I don’t know who to believe.’ But, if you get enough on your side you get people into a position of pralysis about the issue.

We’re not experts and so you don’t want them trying to be experts. But if you put enough information out there and say, “Well, it could go to $10.10 but ou could also lose a lot of jobs, the Congressional Budget Office says you can lose a lot of jobs.” And again, we got a lot of ads on this thing.

You get in people’s minds a tie. They don’t know who is right. And you get all ties because the tie basically ensures the status quo.

People are not prepared to get aggressive and in moving one way or another. I’ll take a tie any day if I’m trying to preserve the status quo.

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  1. Curiously Dr Evil fits very nicely into at least one model of political behaviour: Pluralism. Pluralists argue that the western states are Democratic because they are open to the influence of rival pressure groups.
    What Dr Evil does sabotages this model. Political philosopher, Charles Lindblom realised this kind of serious disadvantage in his 1977 book Politics and Markets where he says “even in the democracies, masses are persuaded to ask from elites only what elites wish to give them.” (I’m quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_E._Lindblom)
    Of course, come the revolution Dr Evil and his henchmen… oh you know the rest.

  2. …will come to power and really run the world?

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes: 1 Dead, 1 Injured

Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 22:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


Virigin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane exploded and crashed during a test flight on Friday, killing one crew member and seriously injuring another, authorities said.

The explosion scattered debris across a two-mile swath of the desert floor outside Mojave, California, and came after the plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane. SpaceShipTwo was testing its rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months.

“During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,” Virgin Galactic said in a statement. “The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots.”

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Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 10:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Devan Dewey, the Chief Technology Officer of midsize investment consultancy NEPC, has an orderly office and a highly organized mind. So naturally, when some at-home employees near Boston complained they could barely work because their connections to the company data center had slowed to a crawl, Dewey and his team determined to find out why.

His team’s research led him to suspect something astonishing and dark: that NEPC, and probably many other businesses and consumers, were caught in the crossfire of an ongoing battle between “eyeball networks” run by Internet access providers, such as Comcast and Verizon; and “transit networks” used by competing video services, such as Netflix. He came to wonder whether, in their attempts to charge Netflix for access to their subscribers, Comcast and some other networks were recklessly affecting Internet connectivity for businesses like NEPC. Could that possibly be true?

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  1. And?

  2. #needmoarbandwidth

  3. @Desiato — And? Read the article, It is excellent.

    And my comment on the article – un-bundle the carrier from the content provider and breakup large carriers to spur competition.

Jian Ghomeshi: more women come forward with sexual violence allegations

Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 1:54 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


The latest allegations – which date back to 2002 – raise new questions about a culture at CBC that allowed Ghomeshi’s alleged behaviour to go unchallenged. Some of the women say they met him at CBC events or at the CBC offices, while others say they encountered him during a 2012 book tour or at media and film festivals.

Ahem…Jian? When they say “hitting on” someone, they don’t actually mean you’re allowed to hit them. Or choke them, or whip them, or bite them…

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Surprise! Controversial Patriot Act power now overwhelmingly used in drug investigations

Posted on October 30th, 2014 at 22:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


One of the more controversial provisions of the Patriot Act was to broaden the “sneak-and-peek” power for federal law enforcement officials. The provision allows investigators to conduct searches without informing the target of the search. We were assured at the time that this was an essential law enforcement tool that would be used only to protect the country from terrorism. Supporters argued that it was critical that investigators be allowed to look into the lives and finances of suspected terrorists without tipping off those terrorists to the fact that they were under investigation.

And as critics predicted, it is overwhelmingly used in cases that have nothing to do with terrorism. But even if you’re a cynic, it’s pretty shocking just how little the power is used in terrorism investigations.

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Take a guess

Posted on October 29th, 2014 at 21:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

This quote (don’t click the link yet!):


“We must end this assault on our humanity and the misappropriation of fundamental human rights.”

is from:

a) Kurdish refugees trying and failing to get asylum in Turkey
b) a girl being denied access to school in Pakistan
c) gay Iranian students
d) North Korean hard labor camp survivors
e) homeless veterans in California
f) the Motion Picture of America Association talking about downloads

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  1. It seems kinda funny to call out the RIAA on this, as they are actually calling out the torrent index sites for claiming that fundamental human rights protect their operation which actually involves predominantly copyright infringement. Who’s making the ridiculous claim? OK, yeah, the “assault on our humanity” bit is a bit of a stretch for a puppet of big corporations, true.

  2. It’s such an absurd claim I assumed it was from the Onion, how wrong I was, again.

  3. Some people/organisations really need to invoke the ‘Onion Standard’.

    And the ‘Onion Standard’ is… ‘If we say this, will people think it’s a joke by The Onion?’

    A good rule of thumb for meeting the Onion standard would be, if you’re rich & powerful, don’t say stuff like, “Poor little me, I’ve got it so tough!”

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