Boruch Spiegel, one of the last surviving fighters of the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, in which a vastly outgunned band of 750 young Jews held off German soldiers for more than a month with crude arms and Molotov cocktails, died on May 9 in Montreal. He was 93.
MAGALLON, Spain, May 20 (UPI) — Police in Spain said they arrested a man accused of breaking into a fortune teller’s home to recover the $212,000 he paid for a love spell that didn’t work.
Investigators said Jose Laparra, former manager of the Club Deportivo Castellon soccer team, paid the sum to a Magallon fortune teller in exchange for casting a spell to bring his former lover back to him, thinkSPAIN reported Monday.
However, Laparra allegedly broke into the woman’s house when the spell didn’t work and demanded his money back.
Police said Laparra suffered a panic attack during his arrest and was taken to Zaragoza’s Hospital Clinico.
So the fortune teller didn’t see that coming? What a surprise…
Arthur and Alfie Banks-Lowe were born a minute apart, sharing Down’s Syndrome and a carbon copy set of medical issues.
Yet, when mum and dad Emma and David applied for disability living allowance to help with round the clock care they got a bizarre reply.
Arthur was accepted and Alfie refused.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Emma said. “The boys are identical in every detail, they have exactly the same health issues, they need exactly the same care, yet one can get the allowance and the other can’t.
The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt has claimed that the blanket net wiretapping already being performed by the Swedish government is completely compatible with freedoms of speech and expression, as it is “performed discreetly”. This remarkably Orwellian statement was made in a panel at the Stockholm Internet Forum today, where Bildt is trying to portray himself as net-friendly. The Swedish government’s credibility is below zero in these matters among activists, as the recently-enacted FRA law mandates the government to wiretap all traffic online in bulk without a warrant, if it happens to cross a country border (which you can’t know in advance if yours does).
It will be noisier than you are used to. Emotions will be higher than they are at home. The food will be awful. People will be drunk. The weather will be bad. Many of the supporters, even the ones cheering the loudest, will not appear to be having fun as we know it, and will be expressing their feelings in novel combinations of swear words. The discomfort, the din, the rudeness, the cleverness, the chanting, the verbal abuse, the unalloyed ecstasy, the abject despair, the love, the hatred — all these are part of the ritual, essential to even to the most meaningless, late-season, non-standings-affecting match.
Energy exists all around us — in the motion of a heartbeat, the fluorescent light in an office building, and even the flow of blood cells through the body. These individual units of energy are relatively small, but they are numerous. Dr. Zhong Lin Wang, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has developed a way to harness this ambient energy. After months of work, Wang and his team have developed the very first hybrid cell, which is capable of harnessing both motion and sunlight. By tapping into multiple sources of readily available energy, the tiny cells have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our devices.
All of our electronic devices, from medical sensors to calculators, require a constant supply of energy. Currently, the most common methods are a plug and power supply or batteries, both of which are large and thus limit miniaturization. Since Wang’s cell is small enough to work on the nanoscale, it can readily be incorporated into biomedical sensors, cellphones, and other small electronics. The cell’s hybrid design is an advantage as well: Solar energy alone produces high voltages but is unsuitable for devices used in the dark, while energy from ambient motion is more consistent but is available on a smaller scale. By combining these sources, Wang’s device can provide a highly reliable supply of electricity.
Wang developed the motion-harnessing component of the hybrid cell in 2006. These devices, called nanogenerators, can collect energy at the micro- and nanoscales of motion by relying on piezoelectricity, the production of a current from compression or strain. To construct a nanogenerator, Wang grew a vertical array of microscopic zinc oxide (ZnO) wires on a flat base. On top of this, he placed an electrode with multiple pointed peaks that give it a “zig-zag” appearance. When the ZnO nanowires are bent out of their ordered formation, they generate small electric charges due to piezoelectricity. They then touch the zig-zag edge of the electrode, which collects all the electricity to produce a current. Due to its sensitivity, a nanogenerator can capture even vibrations of very small magnitudes, which can then be harnessed to power an object such as a pacemaker. In fact, nearly a milliwatt of mechanical energy exists in each cubic centimeter of the ambient environment.
The Bronx Defenders took a more aggressively experimental tack several years ago when, with little fanfare, they quietly spun off a nonprofit called the Bronx Freedom Fund.
After raising around $200,000, the fund began doing something at once simple and completely revolutionary: It bailed people out. When lawyers at the Bronx Defenders took on a client who couldn’t make bail but wasn’t considered a flight risk and wasn’t charged with anything more serious than a misdemeanor or a nonviolent felony, they would refer him to Zoe Towns, the fund’s only employee. If the defendant met the criteria, Towns would go down to the courthouse with a certified check and bail him out. When the defendant returned to court for his next hearing and the bail came back, it would be rolled back into the fund to help someone else.
The fund kept a low profile, in large part because its advisers worried that if judges and prosecutors knew that it existed, they might inflate bails to keep people in jail. But over the course of more than a year, the fund bailed out nearly 200 people. That was a tremendous boon for the defendants who could go home rather than stay locked up, but the project also generated some remarkable data.
First, the fund’s numbers gave the lie to the assumption that defendants won’t return to court if they don’t have a personal relationship with the people posting bail for them. Ninety-three percent of the fund’s clients showed up for every single one of their subsequent court hearings—a return rate higher than that of defendants who post their own bail or get commercial bail bonds.
But the really shocking revelation of the Freedom Fund experiment was this: More than half of the fund’s clients eventually saw their cases either completely dismissed or knocked down to some noncriminal disposition. Not a single one ever went back to jail on the charges for which they were bailed out.
Without access to a bail fund, defendants in similar positions pleaded guilty to criminal charges 95 percent of the time. The fund’s numbers made wincingly clear what everyone had already vaguely known: The current bail system has the direct effect of slapping criminal convictions on poor people who would otherwise win their cases.
The experiment didn’t last. Eventually, a judge discovered the existence of the program and launched an investigation, ultimately ruling that the fund was illegal because it was effectively operating as an uninsured bail-bond company.
Some people consider themselves sensitive to electromagnetic fields. They report symptoms such as burning skin, tingling, nausea, dizziness, or chest pain, and they blame their malaise on nearby power lines, cell phones, or WiFi networks. A recent Slate article described such people moving to a remote West Virginia town where radio-frequency signals are banned. (The town is within the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone, an area that’s enforced to keep signals from interfering with radio telescopes there—telescopes that work because they receive the radio-frequency signals constantly hitting our planet from space.)
There’s no known scientific reason why a wireless signal might cause physical harm. And studies have found that even people who claim to be sensitive to electromagnetic fields can’t actually sense them. Their symptoms are more likely due to nocebo, the evil twin of the placebo effect. The power of our expectation can cause real physical illness. In clinical drug trials, for example, subjects who take sugar pills report side effects ranging from an upset stomach to sexual dysfunction.
After watching the videos, subjects put on headband-mounted antennas. They were told that the researchers were testing a “new kind of WiFi,” and that once the signal started they should carefully monitor any symptoms in their bodies. Then the researchers left the room. For 15 minutes, the subjects watched a WiFi symbol flash on a laptop screen.
In reality, there was no WiFi switched on during the experiment, and the headband antenna was a sham. Yet 82 of the 147 subjects—more than half—reported symptoms. Two even asked for the experiment to be stopped early because the effects were too severe to stand.
Witthöft says he expected to see a greater effect in people who had watched the frightening documentary. This wasn’t the case overall. Instead, the movie mainly increased symptoms in subjects who described themselves beforehand as more anxious.
“It suggests that sensational media reports especially in combination with personality factors (in this case anxiety) increase the likelihood for symptom reports,” Witthöft says.
Allowing me to once again resurrect one of my oldest anecdotes:
Two Scotsmen are wending their way home after a Saturday night of heavy drinking. They come upon a newly painted brick wall. Something must be done! The first man starts to shake up his paint spray can.
Standing close to the wall, he starts to write in letters a metre high, “Fuck the Pope!”
When he’s finished he stands back in admiration. “A thung of beauty, Bully!”
The other fellow shouts, “Yeer a traitor Jimmy! I thought you were a Celtic supporter an ‘at!”
Jimmy sighs, “I’m truly sorry Bully, but I dinna have enough paint to write, ‘Fuck the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland!’”
He drew a connection to the last thing in the world the C.E.O.’s wanted linked to their products: cigarettes. First came a quote from a Yale University professor of psychology and public health, Kelly Brownell, who was an especially vocal proponent of the view that the processed-food industry should be seen as a public health menace: “As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies do the very same thing. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco.”
Coke was not alone in seeing Brazil as a potential boon; Nestlé began deploying battalions of women to travel poor neighborhoods, hawking American-style processed foods door to door. But Coke was Dunn’s concern, and on one trip, as he walked through one of the impoverished areas, he had an epiphany. “A voice in my head says, ‘These people need a lot of things, but they don’t need a Coke.’ I almost threw up.”
…it isn’t me! It is a conspiracy!
Thakur knew the drugs weren’t good. They had high impurities, degraded easily, and would be useless at best in hot, humid conditions. They would be taken by the world’s poorest patients in sub-Saharan Africa, who had almost no medical infrastructure and no recourse for complaints. The injustice made him livid.
Ranbaxy executives didn’t care, says Kathy Spreen, and made little effort to conceal it. In a conference call with a dozen company executives, one brushed aside her fears about the quality of the AIDS medicine Ranbaxy was supplying for Africa. “Who cares?” he said, according to Spreen. “It’s just blacks dying.”
Just to be clear, Ranbaxy is an Indian company and not a Western one.
It’s rare to see a macroeconomics experiment play out in real time in the way we are seeing it right now in Japan and in Europe. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has embarked on aggressive measures to stimulate Japan’s long-moribund economy since he took office in December, and the result so far has been strong growth — and, perhaps, liftoff after a triple-dip recession. Europe, on the other hand, remains mired in the muck of austerity and economic contraction.
New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ’s attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests – something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist – something done every day in Washington – and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for “espionage”.
But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen – the journalist – committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information – something investigative journalists do every day – Rosen himself broke the law.
Retirement has a detrimental impact on mental and physical health, a new study has found.
The study, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a think tank, found that retirement results in a “drastic decline in health” in the medium and long term.
The IEA said the study suggests people should work for longer for health as well as economic reasons.
Don’t retire, folks! You’ll be much happier if you drop in your traces like that hero Boxer, in Animal Farm.
BP wants Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene over the escalating cost of compensating US companies for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010…”BP is so worried by the potential magnitude of alleged undeserved payments it is making to companies that it is planning to ask the UK prime minister and chancellor for help in persuading the US government to intervene.
“It is hopeful that David Cameron will raise the issue at the G8 meeting of the government of the world’s richest countries, which the UK is hosting next month.”
The company is also under pressure, along with other oil majors including Shell and Norway’s Statoil, following allegations that firms colluded in fixing oil prices.
Bunch o’ cry-babies. “Oh goodness, we did a bad thing, and a bunch of other bad things and we need help!”
Iceland is awash in guns, yet it has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world…Violent crime was virtually non-existent. People seemed relaxed about their safety and that of their children to the point where parents left their babies outside and unattended.
I’d spent time in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, but those countries now appeared plagued with crime by comparison…
First – and arguably foremost – there is virtually no difference among upper, middle and lower classes in Iceland. And with that, tension between economic classes is non-existent, a rare occurrence for any country.
Not guns, not people, but inequality kills people?
Sketch group Improv Everywhere released a new video of people posing as city workers, “providing a ridiculous solution to the ‘texting and walking’ epidemic in New York.”
Participants dressed in custom orange New York City Department of Transportation vests inscribed with: “I can help you walk and text.” They also carried leashes that plainclothes’ participants held onto while texting and walking. For the project, Improv Everywhere collaborated with BuzzFeed and also offered the service to actual people in NYC. Watch their reactions here.
Over the last decade, former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig, a prominent lawyer, presidential advisor and biowarfare consultant to the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, has urged the government to counter what he called a major threat to national security.
Terrorists, he warned, could easily engineer a devastating killer germ: a form of anthrax resistant to common antibiotics.
U.S. intelligence agencies have never established that any nation or terrorist group has made such a weapon, and biodefense scientists say doing so would be very difficult. Nevertheless, Danzig has energetically promoted the threat — and prodded the government to stockpile a new type of drug to defend against it.
Danzig did this while serving as a director of a biotech startup that won $334 million in federal contracts to supply just such a drug, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.
By his own account, Danzig encouraged Human Genome Sciences Inc. to develop the compound, and from 2001 through 2012 he collected more than $1 million in director’s fees and other compensation from the company, records show.
IT IS a lesson of the past five years that benchmarks in unregulated markets can fall victim to the incentives they create. Subprime mortgages bundled into securities often won high scores from ratings agencies that stood to profit in a busy market. The London Interbank Offered Rate, LIBOR, was sometimes underestimated by banks which were cast in a healthier light by lower interest rates. Has something similar been going on in energy?
That is the suspicion after a series of raids on May 14th by the European Commission’s competition authorities. The commission declared that it feared oil companies had “colluded” to distort benchmark prices for crude, oil products and biofuels. Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Norway’s Statoil and Italy’s ENI (which was not raided) all said that they were co-operating with the commission. The competition authorities also called on the London offices of Platts, a subsidiary of McGraw Hill, an American publisher and business-information firm, which sets reference prices for these commodities.
And here’s a “before” picture:
Somehow during this visit to Curaçao a LOT of bad things are happening. First the murder of Helmin Wiels, now this:
I hope all Building Depot personnel (some of which I know) are fine…
from the “you can’t make this up” department: it happens to be the owners’ birthday today. He said “this is the most difficult gift I’ve received ever…”
Unions, activists and artists held a rally on Tuesday, to protest the possible sale of the Los Angeles Times to the Koch brothers, warning that such a sale would turn one of the US’s great newspapers into a right-wing mouthpiece.
Hundreds gathered outside the downtown Los Angeles office of Oaktree Capital Management, the largest shareholder in Tribune Co, which owns the LA Times, to deter it from making such a deal. Some carried signs saying “No Koch Hate in LA”.
“The idea that the LA Times could be taken over by right-wing radical extremists just boggles the mind,” said Glen Arnodo, staff director of the LA County Federation of Labor, as protestors prepared to picket. “It’s impossible to believe with their brand of extremism that there would be any objectivity whatsoever.”
Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, a Kansas-based energy and manufacturing conglomerate, and back conservative causes including the Tea Party movement. They funded Republican candidates in last year’s elections, through their organisation Americans for Prosperity. They have not confirmed interest in buying the financially troubled organ of a Democrat-leaning, liberal city – spokespersons have declined to comment, beyond saying the brothers respect the independence of journalistic institutions – but rumours of a bid have intensified in recent months.
Review of more than 900 cables reveals campaign to break down resistance to GM products in Europe and other countries.
American diplomats lobbied aggressively overseas to promote genetically modified (GM) food crops such as soy beans, an analysis of official cable traffic revealed on Tuesday.
The review of more than 900 diplomatic cables by the campaign group Food and Water Watch showed a carefully crafted campaign to break down resistance to GM products in Europe and other countries, and so help promote the bottom line of big American agricultural businesses.
The cables, which first surfaced with the Wikileaks disclosures two years ago, described a series of separate public relations strategies, unrolled at dozens of press junkets and biotech conferences, aimed at convincing scientists, media, industry, farmers, elected officials and others of the safety and benefits of GM products.
The report offers a further glimpse of the power of the agricultural and biotech industries in America, after the supreme court came down on the side of Monsanto in its effort to enforce its patented GM soybeans.
The court ruled on Monday that an Indiana farmer had to buy new seeds directly from Monsanto every time he planted the GM Roundup Ready soybeans.
The public relations effort unrolled by the State Department also ventured into legal terrain, according to the report. US officials stationed overseas opposed GM food labelling laws as well as rules blocking the import of GM foods.
The report notes that some of the lobbying effort had direct benefits. About 7% of the cables mentioned specific companies, and 6% mentioned Monsanto. “This corporate diplomacy was nearly twice as common as diplomatic efforts on food aid,” the report said.
David Sal Silva, a father of four, had trouble breathing and was taken to hospital after reportedly struggling with as many as nine police officers that responded to a call that a drunken man was lying in a field near the Kern Medical Centre in Bakersfield, California at 11.55pm. He died an hour later in hospital.
The official police account of the incident last Tuesday claims that Silva resisted arrest, leading them to call for back-up in the form of the dog unit to assist and used batons to subdue him, according to The Inquisitr. Five more deputies and two California Highway Patrol officers were also called. Witnesses, who filmed the incident, insist that the police officers continued to beat Silva as he pleaded for help.
The victims’ brother, Christopher Silva, was not present at the scene but said he spoke to witnesses who claimed that officers continued the beating for nearly 10 minutes: “My brother spent the last eight minutes of his life pleading, begging for his life.”
The head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis.
Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – “has lost this world and his afterlife”.
Twitter was the platform for those who did not have any platform, he said.
“The platform for those with no platform” sounds like an ad for something interesting. Which is the Sheikh’s real difficulty. It would make a good video, him watching a Twitter feed scrolling, gnashing and fulminating about evil-doers.