I pledge allegiance, to the pants of the United Slacks of America and to the button for which it holds…
The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher.
“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,” the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”
Jeffrey Grossman, on Twitter:
I have confirmed that the SSL vulnerability was introduced in iOS
6.0. It is not present in 5.1.1 and is in 6.0.
According to slide 6 in the leaked PowerPoint deck on NSA’s PRISM program, Apple was “added” in October 2012.
These three facts prove nothing; it’s purely circumstantial. But the shoe fits.
But banks aren’t just buying stuff, they’re buying whole industrial processes. They’re buying oil that’s still in the ground, the tankers that move it across the sea, the refineries that turn it into fuel, and the pipelines that bring it to your home. Then, just for kicks, they’re also betting on the timing and efficiency of these same industrial processes in the financial markets – buying and selling oil stocks on the stock exchange, oil futures on the futures market, swaps on the swaps market, etc.
Allowing one company to control the supply of crucial physical commodities, and also trade in the financial products that might be related to those markets, is an open invitation to commit mass manipulation. It’s something akin to letting casino owners who take book on NFL games during the week also coach all the teams on Sundays.
The situation has opened a Pandora’s box of horrifying new corruption possibilities, but it’s been hard for the public to notice, since regulators have struggled to put even the slightest dent in Wall Street’s older, more familiar scams. In just the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of scandals – from the multitrillion-dollar Libor saga (major international banks gaming world interest rates), to the more recent foreign-currency-exchange fiasco (many of the same banks suspected of rigging prices in the $5.3-trillion-a-day currency markets), to lesser scandals involving manipulation of interest-rate swaps, and gold and silver prices.
But those are purely financial schemes. In these new, even scarier kinds of manipulations, banks that own whole chains of physical business interests have been caught rigging prices in those industries. For instance, in just the past two years, fines in excess of $400 million have been levied against both JPMorgan Chase and Barclays for allegedly manipulating the delivery of electricity in several states, including California. In the case of Barclays, which is contesting the fine, regulators claim prices were manipulated to help the bank win financial bets it had made on those same energy markets.
And last summer, The New York Times described how Goldman Sachs was caught systematically delaying the delivery of metals out of a network of warehouses it owned in order to jack up rents and artificially boost prices.
Millefiori No. 01 (2012) Ferrofluid is a magnetic, hydrophobic liquid that forms colorful curves and channels when deposited onto a magnet and injected with watercolor paints. More starting at 5:20 in Oefner’s talk.
Formally trained in art and design, Oefner says that he has always been interested in science. Though he can’t pinpoint the exact moment when he became interested in pairing his two loves, he views both pursuits as inextricably linked by a crucial bond: “The most important quality of science or art is curiosity,” Oefner tells the TED Blog. “That’s what keeps me going and always finding something new.”
On the TED stage, Oefner demonstrates the science at work behind three of his photographs. As he explains his process, the mystical quality of the images gives way to understanding. But how important to him is it that the casual viewer of his artwork know the underlying scientific principles? Actually, not very. “I’m not too didactic about my work. If people just want to appreciate it for its beauty, that’s absolutely fine,” he tells us. “And if I present it without an explanation, people tend to come up with their own, which is often even more poetic.”
For an imagination-friendly, explanation-free viewing of Oefner’s work, watch the first 45 seconds of his talk. For viewers who’d rather forego the poetry in favor of learning, here are 10 close-up views of Oefner’s fascinating work – and, just as fascinatingly, how he made it. This gallery includes works from series both new and old (the first three are the examples featured in the talk), inspired by everything from scientific papers to household chores.
This has got to be the best lede of all time. And a great article, too. Caitlin Flanagan, writing about fraternities, law, liabilities, and corruption in the Atlantic magazine:
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
“The Dark Power of Fraternities” [The Atlantic]
Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroic actions during World War II, died Thursday at the age of 92.
Ehlers, who joined the armed forces in 1940, was the last living Medal of Honor recipient who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day.
He earned his Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” on June 9 and 10, 1944, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Despite these caveats, the researchers write, the fact remains that, “A small, child-like humanoid robot had enough authority to pressure 46% of participants to rename files for 80 minutes, even after indicating they wanted to quit.”
And in what may be the most disturbing result, a number of the participants expressed concern the robot might be broken or malfunctioning—yet they didn’t stop working. “They followed a possibly “broken” robot to do something they would rather not do.”
So, I’m in Kentucky for work and today when we got back, 1000 high school students had checked into our hotel. They had been making quite the ruckus tonight, but then did this to celebrate the start of the Olympics. Not the best video, (cause my fear kept me pretty far from the edge) but that’s 18 levels of them singing! Amazing!
The top Obama administration officials working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership came to government from investment banks who will benefit immensely from its provisions, which severely curtail countries’ ability to pass laws regulating banks and other corporations. These top advisors, who came from Bank of America and Citigroup, were given multimillion-dollar exit bonuses when they left their employers for government. For example, the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, was handed $4M from Citigroup as a goodbye gift on his way into his new job.
Homeland security officials on Wednesday abruptly shelved a proposal to build a national database of license-plate scans after criticism from privacy advocates.
The proposal, which had been posted online last week by the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sought a contractor who could establish a searchable database of license plates, with the times and locations where they were spotted by traffic cameras and other sources.
But in a statement late Wednesday, the department announced a reversal.
“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been canceled,” said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. “While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.”
It was unclear whether the proposal was dead or was merely withdrawn for revisions.
Well, their “operational needs” probably include that people don’t know about it…
Despite questions about who’s to blame for those broken bolts and corrosive water leaks, the prime contractor on the new Bay Bridge eastern span has been rewarded with nearly $49 million in bonuses – including $20 million for finishing the job on time.
The state made that on-time payment to American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises even as officials haggled over who should pay $30 million needed to fix problems caused when 32 bolts snapped last year as workers tightened them down on a seismic-safety structure on the bridge.
“It’s hard for the public to accept or understand,” admitted Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Especially hard since Caltrans is spending another $10 million to test the rest of the bolts and metal rods on the bridge to see if any of them need replacing as well.
When Los Angeles police were investigating allegations of child abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in 1988, they asked for a list of altar boys at the last parish where the priest worked.
Archbishop Roger Mahony told a subordinate not to give the list, saying he didn’t want the boys to be scarred by the investigation and that he felt the altar boys were too old to be potential victims, according to a February 2013 deposition made public Wednesday.
The detectives investigating allegations against Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, a visiting Mexican priest, ultimately got the names of the boys from parish families. They determined the priest molested at least 26 boys during his 10 months in Los Angeles, according to the priest’s confidential archdiocese file and police records made public by attorneys for the victims.
Twenty-five of the alleged victims were altar boys and the 26th was training with the priest to be one, said Anthony DeMarco, a plaintiff attorney. It’s not clear what impact Mahony’s action had on the investigation, though at the time police complained that the archdiocese wasn’t fully cooperating.
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock, as the world’s largest social network looks for ways to boost its popularity, especially among a younger crowd.
Facebook said on Wednesday it will pay $4 billion in cash and about $12 billion in stock in its single largest acquisition, dwarfing the $1 billion it paid for photo-sharing app Instagram.
Shares in Facebook slid 5 percent to $64.70 after hours, from a close of $68.06 on the Nasdaq.
As part of the deal, WhatsApp co-founder and Chief Executive Jan Koum will join Facebook’s board, and the social network will grant an additional $3 billion worth of restricted stock units to WhatsApp’s founders, including Koum.
Also, Facebook promised to keep the WhatsApp brand and service, and pledged a $1 billion cash break-up fee were the deal to fall through.
Facebook was advised by Allen & Co, while WhatApp has enlisted Morgan Stanley for the deal.
An attorney for Edward Snowden says she was questioned by officials at London’s Heathrow Airport over her relationship to the whistleblower.
The Government Accountability Project (GAP), a whistleblower advocacy group, claimed Monday that one of their attorneys representing Mr. Snowden, Jesselyn Radack, was “interrogated and harassed” by a British border enforcement agent as she tried to enter the U.K., and that from the questions asked, the official was concerned over her connection to the former NSA worker.
The Washington Times has reached out to officials at Heathrow Airport but has not yet received a response.
“When a government subjects the attorney for a political defendant such as Edward Snowden to intimidation and harassment, then in practice, that government infringes the right to counsel,” said Bea Edwards, GAP executive director. “The government of the U.K., together with the U.S. government — to the extent that it cooperated — explicitly violated Edward Snowden’s right to counsel by harassing Ms. Radack, his attorney.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s preliminary test results show porcine blood plasma, an ingredient used in feed for just weaned pigs, may be a vector that could contribute to the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, says Canada’s chief veterinarian Harpreet Kochhar.
They’re feeding pig blood to piglets? There’s a nearly 100% fatal epidemic of piglet disease in the U.S.? Sounds fishy.
Last Tuesday, the residents of the small rural community of Bobtown in the far southwestern corner of Pennsylvania woke up to a horrible shock — the sound of a massive explosion in their backyards. The source of the blast and the intensely hot fire that followed was a Chevron fracking well that had been set to begin production, but instead shot orange flames high into the air and gave off loud hissing sounds that could be heard hundreds of yards away.
But the people of Bobtown who endured the Chevron blast got a sweet — or rather savory — consolation prize for all that agita.
Pizza, pizza!. OK. actually just…pizza.
It has the force of a parable. Along the road from High Ham to Burrowbridge, which skirts Lake Paterson (formerly known as the Somerset Levels), you can see field after field of harvested maize. In some places the crop lines run straight down the hill and into the water. When it rains, the water and soil flash off into the lake. Seldom are cause and effect so visible.
That’s what I saw on Tuesday. On Friday, I travelled to the source of the Thames. Within 300 metres of the stone that marked it were ploughed fields, overhanging the catchment, left bare through the winter and compacted by heavy machinery. Muddy water sluiced down the roads. A few score miles downstream it will reappear in people’s living rooms. You can see the same thing happening across the Thames watershed: 184 miles of idiocy, perfectly calibrated to cause disaster.
Today conservatives see environmental regulation as just another example of government overreach into the sacred free markets. Some go so far as to believe that the green movement is a dark horse for socialism in the United States.
The US director of national intelligence has conceded that the US government ought to have told American citizens that the National Security Agency collects their phone data in bulk.
James Clapper, whose misleading testimony to the Senate about the mass surveillance now overshadows his nearly four years atop the US intelligence agencies, continued to defend the bulk domestic phone, fax and other “telephony” data collection, as well as his honesty.
But in an interview released late Monday with the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake, Clapper said that crucial moment was the first revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on 5 June last year, when the Guardian revealed the bulk phone records collection, which claims legal authority under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. “What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” Clapper said.
Clapper said that the controversy would not have occurred had the security apparatus been more open before. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11 – which is the genesis of the 215 program – and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards … We wouldn’t have had the problem we had.”
“Um, our bad…we’ve got the message, so that’s all right then?”
More than 500 Indian migrant workers have died in Qatar since January 2012, revealing for the first time the shocking scale of death toll among those building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
Official figures confirmed by the Indian embassy in Doha reveal that 237 Indians working in Qatar died in 2012 and 241 in 2013. A further 24 Indians have died in January 2014.
These come after the Guardian revealed last month that 185 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar in 2013, taking the total from that country to at least 382 over two years.
Slaves are constructing our circuses.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande will discuss this week how Europe can keep email traffic away from U.S. servers.
Merkel is planning to discuss this issue when she meets her French colleague on Wednesday, she said in a weekly podcast.
“We will talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection. Above all, we will discuss which European providers we have who offer security to citizens. So that you don’t have to cross the Atlantic with emails and other things, but also can build up communication networks within Europe,” Merkel said Saturday.
The point is that Comcast perfectly fits the old notion of monopolists as robber barons, so-called by analogy with medieval warlords who perched in their castles overlooking the Rhine, extracting tolls from all who passed. The Time Warner deal would in effect let Comcast strengthen its fortifications, which has to be a bad idea.
Interestingly, one cliché seems to be missing from the boilerplate arguments being deployed on behalf of this deal: I haven’t seen anyone arguing that the deal would promote innovation. Maybe that’s because anyone trying to make that argument would be met with snorts of derision. In fact, a number of experts — like Susan Crawford of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, whose recent book “Captive Audience” bears directly on this case — have argued that the power of giant telecommunication companies has stifled innovation, putting the United States increasingly behind other advanced countries.
And there are good reasons to believe that this isn’t a story about just telecommunications, that monopoly power has become a significant drag on the U.S. economy as a whole.