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Spy agencies fund climate research in hunt for weather weapon, scientist fears: US expert Alan Robock raises concern over who would control climate-altering technologies if research is paid for by intelligence agencies A senior US scientist has expressed concern that the intelligence services are funding climate change research to learn if new technologies could be used as potential weapons.
Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the world’s climate.
Robock, who has contributed to reports for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), uses computer models to study how stratospheric aerosols could cool the planet in the way massive volcanic eruptions do.
But he was worried about who would control such climate-altering technologies should they prove effective, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose.
Last week, the National Academy of Sciences published a two-volume report on different approaches to tackling climate change. One focused on means to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the other on ways to change clouds or the Earth’s surface to make them reflect more sunlight out to space.
Is geoengineering a bad idea?
The report concluded that while small-scale research projects were needed, the technologies were so far from being ready that reducing carbon emissions remained the most viable approach to curbing the worst extremes of climate change. A report by the Royal Society in 2009 made similar recommendations. (London Guardian)
New Glasses Make You Invisible to Facial Recognition Software AVG is a name well-known in the Windows world for its decent and free anti-virus software, but the company is apparently looking to expand outside of just software and protect people's privacy in the real world now. At Mobile World Congress, AVG is demoing a concept pair of glasses that both foil facial recognition software, and make it difficult for someone to snap a photo of your face.
New Glasses Make You Invisible to Facial Recognition Software
To make it difficult for facial recognition systems to actually recognize a wearer's face, the glasses feature a set of infrared LEDs around the eyes and nose that are only visible to digital cameras. When a photo of the wearer's face is snapped, those areas, which are crucial to facial recognition working, are obscured with a bright bloom. (Gizmodo)
IPCC models getting mushy In the next five years, the global warming paradigm may fall apart if the models prove worthless
There has been a lot of talk lately about the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and whether it will take into account the lack of warming since the 1990s. Everything you need to know about the dilemma the IPCC faces is summed up in one remarkable graph. The figure nearby is from the draft version that underwent expert review last winter. It compares climate model simulations of the global average temperature to observations over the post-1990 interval. During this time atmospheric carbon dioxide rose by 12%, from 355 parts per million (ppm) to 396 ppm. The IPCC graph shows that climate models predicted temperatures should have responded by rising somewhere between about 0.2 and 0.9 degrees C over the same period. But the actual temperature change was only about 0.1 degrees, and was within the margin of error around zero. In other words, models significantly over-predicted the warming effect of CO2 emissions for the past 22 years.
Chapter 9 of the IPCC draft also shows that overestimation of warming was observed on even longer time scales in data collected by weather satellites and weather balloons over the tropics. Because of its dominant role in planetary energy and precipitation patterns, models have to get the tropical region right if they are credibly to simulate the global climate system. Based on all climate models used by the IPCC, this region of the atmosphere (specifically the tropical mid-troposphere) should exhibit the most rapid greenhouse warming anywhere. Yet most data sets show virtually no temperature change for over 30 years. (Financial Post)
Anarchists vs. ISIS: The Revolution in Syria Nobody's Talking About The Middle East today is the last place anyone in mainstream western thought would think to look for progressive political thought, and even less to see those thoughts translated into action. Our image of the region is one of dictatorships, military juntas and theocracies built on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, or hollow states like Afghanistan, and increasingly Pakistan, where anything outside the capitol is like Mad Max. The idea of part of the region being not just free, but well on its way to utopian, isn't one that you're going to find on mainstream media.
But you're not on the mainstream media right now, are you?
Along Syria's borders with Turkey and Northern Iraq, lies a mainly Kurdish area with a population of 4.6 million where a huge social experiment is taking place at the centre of a crossfire between Syria's dictatorship, ISIS's collective insanity and Turkey's ongoing hostility towards the idea of Kurdish autonomy, with the US and NATO looming large in the background. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) established in the region of Rojava a society that mixes fierce libertarianism (guns are everywhere and there are no taxes – none) and Occupy-friendly anarchist thought with a healthy dose of feminism. While most Kurdish groups, especially those the US is friendly with, would some day like to establish a Kurdish state, in Rojava they have leap-frogged over the idea of the nation state into a more advanced system that they call Democratic Confederalism. (CVLT Nation)
Small Amounts of Gluten in Subjects with Suspected Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial. There is debate over the existence of nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) -intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms in response to ingestion of gluten-containing foods by people without celiac disease or wheat allergy. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial to determine the effects of administration of low doses of gluten to subjects with suspected NCGS. RESULTS:
According to the per-protocol analysis of data from the 59 patients who completed the trial, intake of gluten significantly increased overall symptoms compared with placebo (P=.034). Abdominal bloating (P=.040) and pain (P=.047), among the intestinal symptoms, and foggy mind (P=.019), depression (P=.020), and aphthous stomatitis (P=.025), among the extra-intestinal symptoms, were significantly more severe when subjects received gluten than placebo.
In a cross-over trial of subjects with suspected NCGS, the severity of overall symptoms increased significantly during 1 week of intake of small amounts of gluten, compared with placebo. (Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology)
Hyperloop Construction Starts Next Year With the First Full-Scale Track The track will be part of Quay Valley, a planned town halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. HTT/JumpStartFund
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the company that wants to move the revolutionary transit system out of Elon Musk’s brain into the real world, plans to start construction on an actual hyperloop next year.
OK, it will only run five miles around central California, and it won’t come anywhere close to the 800 mph Musk promised, but it’s a start.
The Hyperloop, detailed by the SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO in a 57-page alpha white paper in August 2013, is a transportation network of above-ground tubes that would span hundreds of miles. Thanks to extremely low air pressure inside those tubes, capsules filled with people zip through them at near supersonic speeds. (Wired)
List of excuses for 'the pause' in global warming is now up to 52 An updated list of at least 29 32 36 38 39 41 51 52 excuses for the 18-26 year statistically significant ‘pause’ in global warming, including recent scientific papers, media quotes, blogs, and related debunkings:
1) Low solar activity
2) Oceans ate the global warming [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]
3) Chinese coal use [debunked]
4) Montreal Protocol
5) What ‘pause’? [debunked] [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]
6) Volcanic aerosols [debunked]
7) Stratospheric Water Vapor
8) Faster Pacific trade winds [debunked]
9) Stadium Waves
10) ‘Coincidence!’ (Watts Up With That)
'Quantifying the consensus on global warming in the literature': a comment -- Upon inspection of their data file, the latest paper apparently showing 97% endorsement of a climate consensus really shows only 0.3% endorsement of that consensus. Cook et al. (2013) stated that abstracts of nearly all papers expressing an opinion on climate change endorsed consensus, which, however, traditionally has no scientific role; used three imprecise definitions of consensus interchangeably; analyzed abstracts only; excluded 67% expressing no opinion; omitted key results; and thus concluded that 97.1% endorsed the hypothesis as defined in their introduction, namely the "scientific consensus that human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW)". The authors' own data file showed that they had themselves categorized 64 abstracts, or only 0.5% of the sample, as endorsing the consensus hypothesis as defined in their introduction. Inspection shows only 41 of the 64 papers, or 0.3% of the sample, actually endorsed their hypothesis. Criteria for peer review of papers quantifying scientific consensus are discussed.
Introduction: no role for consensus in science
Though Cook et al. (2013) reviewed abstracts of 11,944 papers on climate change and concluded that 97.1% of those expressing an opinion supported consensus about anthropogenic global warming, the philosophy of science science allows no role for mere head-count. Aristotle's Sophistical Refutations, (c. 350 B.C.E.), codified the argument from consensus, also known as the argumentum ad populum or head-count fallacy, as one of the dozen commonest logical fallacies in human discourse.
Al-Haytham, a philosopher of science in 11th-century Iraq credited as the father of the scientific method and portrayed on a high-denomination Iraqi banknote and on the postage stamps of at least four Islamic nations, wrote that "the seeker after truth" – his phrase for the scientist – does not place his faith in any mere consensus, however venerable. Instead, he checks and checks again: "The road to the truth is long and hard, but that is the road we must follow."
T.H. Huxley, who debated evolution against Bishop Wilberforce at the Oxford Museum of Natural History in 1860, said: "The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin." (Watts Up With That)
Newsweek Rewind: Debunking Global Cooling Here's a fun fact: In 1975, some people were worried about global cooling. Not only that, there was concern that not enough was being done about it.
"Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change," science journalist Peter Gwynne reported. Statements like that are uttered all the time these days, but for the exact opposite reason. One outlandish suggestion for the perceived crisis involved "melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot."
These quant tidbits come from a short article penned by Gwynne and printed on Page 64 of Newsweek's April 28, 1975, issue. Titled "The Cooling World," it argued that global temperatures were falling—and terrible consequences for food production were on the horizon. Meteorologists "are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century," Gwynne wrote. "The resulting famines could be catastrophic."
The story, and others like it, has been cited by people who like to challenge current climate science and global warming. In 2009, for example, George Will referenced it in an opinion piece in The Washington Post, incorrectly describing it as a cover story, and using global cooling as an example of a global disaster that didn't happen (and implying that global warming is also on that list). (Newsweek)
The Cooling World There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production -- with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas -- parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia -- where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.
The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree -- a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars’ worth of damage in 13 U.S. states. (Newsweek)
VIDEO: Sacramento police arrest 20-year-old black activist Maile Hampton for 'lynching' Maile Hampton, a black 20-year-old woman and local political activist (pictured above), was arrested this past Monday with charges of felony "lynching."
City police arrived at 8:55 p.m. that night at her north Sacramento home with an arrest warrant touting charges of misdemeanor obstruction of justice and attempting to remove an individual from police custody, otherwise known as "lynching" under state law.
The charges against Hampton date back to a January 18 action at the state Capitol. On that day, a pro-law enforcement rally was taking place. Hampton and fellow activists with ANSWER Sacramento--an anti-war, anti-racism group--showed up to counter-protest. Their action was rooted in the "Black Lives Matter" movement. (Sacramento News & Review)
ACLU-Obtained Documents Reveal Breadth of Secretive Stingray Use in Florida The ACLU is releasing records today obtained from law enforcement agencies across Florida about their acquisition and use of sophisticated cell phone location tracking devices known as “Stingrays.” These records provide the most detailed account to date of how law enforcement agencies across a single state are relying on the technology. (The full records are available here.)
The results should be troubling for anyone who cares about privacy rights, judicial oversight of police activities, and the rule of law. The documents paint a detailed picture of police using an invasive technology — one that can follow you inside your house — in many hundreds of cases and almost entirely in secret.
The secrecy is not just from the public, but often from judges who are supposed to ensure that police are not abusing their authority. Partly relying on that secrecy, police have been getting authorization to use Stingrays based on the low standard of “relevance,” not a warrant based on probable cause as required by the Fourth Amendment. (American Civil Liberties Union)
Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: a comparison between 1995 and 2007. A variety of current-use pesticides were determined in weekly composite air and rain samples collected during the 1995 and 2007 growing seasons in the Mississippi Delta (MS, USA) agricultural region. Similar sampling and analytical methods allowed for direct comparison of results. Decreased overall pesticide use in 2007 relative to 1995 generally resulted in decreased detection frequencies in air and rain; observed concentration ranges were similar between years, however, even though the 1995 sampling site was 500 m from active fields whereas the 2007 sampling site was within 3 m of a field. Mean concentrations of detections were sometimes greater in 2007 than in 1995, but the median values were often lower. Seven compounds in 1995 and 5 in 2007 were detected in ≥50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in ≥50% of the air and rain samples in both years. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA), were detected in ≥75% of air and rain samples in 2007 but were not measured in 1995. The 1995 seasonal wet depositional flux was dominated by methyl parathion (88%) and was >4.5 times the 2007 flux. Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995 and was dominated by glyphosate. Malathion, methyl parathion, and degradation products made up most of the 2007 nonherbicide flux. (Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry)
Monsanto earnings fall 34% after a year of global protests: Company that has come under fire for its genetically modified seeds said its earnings fell 34% in its first fiscal quarter Monsanto said Wednesday its earnings fell 34% in its first fiscal quarter, as South American farmers cut back on planting corn, reducing demand for the company’s biotech-enhanced seeds.
US farmers harvested record crops of soybeans and corn last year, sending prices on those food staples to their lowest levels in years. That has resulted in farmers in South America and elsewhere reducing the number of acres they dedicate to corn. Monsanto said its business was also affected by reduced cotton planting in Australia.
The agriculture products company’s revenue fell more than 8% to $2.87bn in the period, on lower sales of corn seeds and herbicide. Analysts expected $2.96bn, according to Zacks.
The St Louis-based company reported a profit of $243m, or 50 cents per share, down from $368m, or 69 cents per share in the same period last year. (London Guardian)
Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.'s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.
Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down. (New York Times)
DHS intelligence report warns of domestic right-wing terror threat They're carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority.
A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism.
Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to -- and in some cases greater than -- the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.
The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010. (CNN)
Former George Bush Chief Economist Says 911 Was An Inside Job Morgan O. Reynolds was a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University and former director of the Criminal Justice Centre at the National Centre for Policy Analysis headquarters in Dallas, TX. He also holds three U.W-Madison degrees
He served as chief economist for the United States Department of Labor during 2001--2002, George W. Bush's first term.
In 2005, he gained public attention as the first prominent government official to publicly claim that 9/11 was an inside job, and is a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth.
Morgan refers to World Trade Centre # 7 in the video. (YouTube)
Strange Stars Pulsate According to the "Golden Ratio": Astronomers have discovered variable stars that periodically dim and brighten at frequencies close to the famed golden mean Scholars have seen the golden ratio in nautilus shells, the Parthenon, da Vinci paintings and now in stars. A new study of variable stars observed by the Kepler space telescope found four stars that pulsate at frequencies whose ratio is near the irrational number 0.61803398875, known as the Greek letter phi, or the golden ratio (which is also sometimes referred to as the inverse of that number, 1.61803398875…).
The golden ratio had not turned up in the celestial sphere before astronomer John Linder of The College of Wooster in Ohio and his colleagues analyzed the Kepler data. The researchers looked at a class of stars called RR Lyrae that are known for their variability. Unlike the sun, which shines at a near constant brightness (a good thing for life on Earth!), these stars brighten and dim as their atmospheres expand and contract due to periodic pressure changes. Each star pulses with a primary frequency and also shows smaller brightness fluctuations occurring on a secondary frequency. The ratios between these two frequencies “are very important,” says astronomer Róbert Szabó of the Konkoly Observatory in Hungary, who was not involved in the study, “because they are characterized by the inner structure of stars—and if a star exhibits many modes, then observation of the frequencies gives very strict constraints to stellar models.” For four of the six RR Lyrae stars the researchers analyzed, the ratio of the primary to secondary frequencies was near the golden mean—within 2 percent of its value in the case of the star KIC 5520878, for example. (Scientific American)
keywords: Baltimore, Euclid, George Markowsky, Golden Ratio, Hungary, Johannes Kepler, Konkoly Observatory, Leonardo Da Vinci, Mario Livio, Ohio, Pythagoras, Róbert Szabó, Space Telescope Science Institute, Sun, The College Of Wooster, United States, University Of Maine
"What about building 7?" A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Abstract: Recent research into the psychology of conspiracy belief has highlighted the importance of belief systems in the acceptance or rejection of conspiracy theories. We examined a large sample of conspiracist (pro-conspiracy-theory) and conventionalist (anti-conspiracy-theory) comments on news websites in order to investigate the relative importance of promoting alternative explanations vs. rejecting conventional explanations for events. In accordance with our hypotheses, we found that conspiracist commenters were more likely to argue against the opposing interpretation and less likely to argue in favor of their own interpretation, while the opposite was true of conventionalist commenters. However, conspiracist comments were more likely to explicitly put forward an account than conventionalist comments were. In addition, conspiracists were more likely to express mistrust and made more positive and fewer negative references to other conspiracy theories. The data also indicate that conspiracists were largely unwilling to apply the "conspiracy theory" label to their own beliefs and objected when others did so, lending support to the long-held suggestion that conspiracy belief carries a social stigma. Finally, conventionalist arguments tended to have a more hostile tone. These tendencies in persuasive communication can be understood as a reflection of an underlying conspiracist worldview in which the details of individual conspiracy theories are less important than a generalized rejection of official explanations. (Front Psychology)
14 Year Old Hacks Car with Homespun Kit with Circuits Bought From Radio Shack A 14-year-old School Going Kid Hacks Car at a Security Camp, leaves experts dumbfounded.
It took a 14 year old boy to stun the professional engineers, policy makers and white-hat security experts. The boy who was a part of a 5 day camp for car hacking and cyber security called CyberAuto Challenge.
The boy, who was 14 and looked like he was 10 as per Dr.Andrew Brown Jr., VP and Chief Technologist at Delphi Automotive, took up the challenge of remotely hacking a car.
The actual procedure for the participants of the camp including the school kids was to take help of the assembled experts and attempt remote infiltration of a car. (Tech Worm)
You can now find out if US spies passed on your data to the UK in illegal surveillance Following a landmark UK decision ruling certain mass surveillance practices illegal, a privacy group has simplified the process of demanding to know if your rights were violated. - You can now find out find out if US intelligence agencies passed information about you to UK spies by filling in a simple online form.
Following a landmark ruling that certain spying practices were illegal, advocacy group Privacy International has simplified the process of finding out if you were a victim: just fill in this online form and provide a name and email address.
The UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled earlier this month that certain modes of surveillance carried out before December 2014 were illegal. The ruling covers data handed by the US to the UK intelligence community listening post at Cheltenham's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ); specifically, data from the controversial Prism and Upstream mass surveillance programmes run by the US National Security Agency (NSA). (CNet)
A Victory for the Libyan People? The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya Since Colonel Gaddafi has lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a “success”. They believe this is a “victory of the Libyan people” and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the “responsibility to protect,” for “humanitarian interventionism,” and condemn the “anti-imperialist left”. Some of those who claim to be “revolutionaries,” or believe they support the “Arab revolution,” somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of “truth” that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya—and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.
These top ten myths are some of the most repeated claims, by the insurgents, and/or by NATO, European leaders, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and even the so-called “International Criminal Court”—the main actors speaking in the war against Libya. In turn, we look at some of the reasons why these claims are better seen as imperial folklore, as the myths that supported the broadest of all myths—that this war is a “humanitarian intervention,” one designed to “protect civilians”. Again, the importance of these myths lies in their wide reproduction, with little question, and to deadly effect. In addition, they threaten to severely distort the ideals of human rights and their future invocation, as well aiding in the continued militarization of Western culture and society. (Counter Punch)
Today In Creepy Privacy Policies, Samsung's Eavesdropping TV As the number of connected devices -- aka the Internet of Things, aka the sensornet -- proliferates so too does the number of devices leaning on voice recognition technology as an interface to allow for hands free control.
Last fall, for instance, Amazon revealed a connected speaker with a Siri-style assistant that can perform tasks like adding items to your ecommerce shopping basket on command. Internet connected ‘smart TVs’ which let couch-potatoes channel-hop by talking at their screen, rather than mashing the buttons of a physical remote control are even more common -- despite dubious utility to the user. The clear consumer electronics trajectory is for more devices with embedded ears that can hear what their owners are saying. And, behind those ears, the server-side brains to data-mine our conversations for advertising intelligence.
You can control your SmartTV, and use many of its features, with voice commands. If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition. (Tech Crunch)
Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ 1.8m users targeted by UK agency in six-month period alone -- Optic Nerve program collected Yahoo webcam images in bulk -- Yahoo: 'A whole new level of violation of our users' privacy' -- Material included large quantity of sexually explicit images - Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.
In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy".
GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans' images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant. (London Guardian)
Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban: Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. "Disconcerting and dangerous," says Shank. An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.
The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.
The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.
The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.
In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.” (Buzz Feed)
Knocking Down a Steel Man: How to Argue Better "The beginning of thought is in disagreement – not only with others but also with ourselves." – Eric Hoffer
You know when someone makes an argument, and you know you can get away with making it seem like they made a much worse one, so you attack that argument for points? That’s strawmanning. Lots of us have done it, even though we shouldn’t. But what if we went one step beyond just not doing that? What if we went one better? Then we would be steelmanning, the art of addressing the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented. Mackenzie McHale, from the Newsroom, puts it on her list of Very Important Things for journalists (#2), and it would serve us well, too.
Text: Newsnight 2.0 Rules: 1. Is this information we need in the voting booth 2. Is this the best possible form of the argument? 3. Is the story in historical context?
Why should we do this? Three reasons: It makes us better rationalists, better arguers, and better people. (The Merely Real)
Andrew Sadek: A Life Lost Over 4.5 Grams In April 2013, Andrew Sadek, a small-time campus pot dealer at the North Dakota State College of Science, was set up by a confidential informant working for the Southeast Multi-County Agency Drug Task Force (SEMCA). Sadek sold weed to the CI (who was trying to extricate himself from his own recent pot bust) on two occasions—an eighth of an ounce for $60 on April 4, and a gram for $20 on April 9. The deals were dutifully reported back to SEMCA, which eventually raided Sadek’s dorm room in November, finding an orange plastic grinder coated with cannabis residue that Sadek admitted belonged to him.
The following day, when Sadek reported to the Law Enforcement Center in Wahpeton, North Dakota, he was told that, because his deals occurred in a school zone, he was looking at two Class A felonies and a possible 20-year sentence.
Understandably frightened, the 20-year-old Sadek agreed to become an informant and set up other low-level dealers on campus. On three occasions between November 2013 and January 2014, he bought an eighth of weed from two different individuals. (High Times)
Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals: Randy Schekman says his lab will no longer send papers to Nature, Cell and Science as they distort scientific process Leading academic journals are distorting the scientific process and represent a "tyranny" that must be broken, according to a Nobel prize winner who has declared a boycott on the publications.
Randy Schekman, a US biologist who won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine this year and receives his prize in Stockholm on Tuesday, said his lab would no longer send research papers to the top-tier journals, Nature, Cell and Science.
Schekman said pressure to publish in "luxury" journals encouraged researchers to cut corners and pursue trendy fields of science instead of doing more important work. The problem was exacerbated, he said, by editors who were not active scientists but professionals who favoured studies that were likely to make a splash. (London Guardian)
The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.
The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.
In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”
With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt. (The Intercept)
Bringing Much-Needed Sanity to the Vaccine Debate I've tried to stay away from the vaccine debate, but it’s reached a psychological tipping point for me.
Watching the back-and-forth on social media alone has made it clear that there are massive critical thinking issues. And if we're going to get to any sort of agreement or respect between the camps, those critical thinking issues have to end.
As the title says, I want to bring sanity to the discussion. That doesn’t mean I want to change your position on vaccines…it means I want people to stop acting irrationally.
So, while this is quite random, here's what needs to be addressed in order to restore sanity...
Let's fix the misuse of the word "consensus." (Medium)
How Nebraska Took Its Energy Out of Corporate Hands and Made It Affordable for Everyone Publicly owned utilities provide electricity to all 1.8 million people in this red state. - In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. It is not a famously liberal state like Vermont or Massachusetts. Rather, it is conservative Nebraska, with its two Republican Senators and two (out of three) Republican members of Congress, that has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution.
In Nebraska, 121 publicly owned utilities, ten cooperatives, and 30 public power districts provide electricity to a population of around 1.8 million people. Public and cooperative ownership keeps costs low for the state’s consumers. Nebraskans pay one of the lowest rates for electricity in the nation and revenues are reinvested in infrastructure to ensure reliable and cheap service for years to come.
“There are no stockholders, and thus no profit motive,” the Nebraska Power Association proudly proclaims. “Our electric prices do not include a profit. That means Nebraska’s utilities can focus exclusively on keeping electric rates low and customer service high. Our customers, not big investors in New York and Chicago, own Nebraska’s utilities.” (Alter Net)
Former CIA officer: 'Absurd' to link uncle of Boston suspects, Agency Retired CIA officer Graham Fuller confirmed to Al-Monitor Saturday that his daughter was previously married to an uncle of the suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks, but called rumors of any links between the uncle and the Agency "absurd."
Graham Fuller's daughter, Samantha A. Fuller, was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (now Tsarni) in the mid-1990s, and divorced in 1999, according to North Carolina public records. The elder Fuller had retired from the agency almost a decade before the brief marriage.
"Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects," Fulller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. "They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe."
"I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND," Fuller continued. (Al-Monitor)
Debating How--Not Whether--to Launch a New War -- Missing perspectives on Obama's attack on ISIS Moments after Barack Obama’s September 10 primetime address laying out a military plan to attack ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, CNN featured a debate between Republican Sen. John McCain and former White House press secretary Jay Carney. The somewhat contentious exchange went viral. “Carney, McCain Spar on CNN Over ISIS Strategy” was the headline on the NPR website. “John McCain Has a Huge Fight With Jay Carney on CNN” was how it was billed at the Huffington Post.
But to anyone who actually listened, the two did not represent especially divergent positions: Both agreed that Obama should launch military attacks, although McCain—to no one’s surprise—thought they could be more aggressive.
The fact that such a narrow disagreement could be seen as a “huge fight” speaks volumes about how little debate exists in corporate media over this new phase of the “war on terror.”
To gauge the range of debate over the White House airstrikes plan, FAIR surveyed some of the key discussion/debate shows during what should have been the moment of most intense consideration of military options: Right after the release of the ISIS video beheadings of two American journalists, through Obama’s televised address and right up to the beginning of US airstrikes on Syria. - In total, 205 sources appeared on the programs discussing military options in Syria and Iraq. Just six of these, or 3 percent, voiced opposition to US military intervention, while 125 (61 percent) spoke in favor of US war.
On the high-profile Sunday talkshows, 89 guests were invited to talk about the war. But just one, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, could be coded as an anti-war guest. (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)
Beyond the CSA: Four Ways Communities Support Everything From Books to Beer
You know the model: Consumers purchase a share of the season's harvest upfront and get a box of fresh produce each week from the farm. Now you can get your medicine that way too. - Since the first community supported agriculture program was established in western Massachusetts in the 1980s, the concept of buying food directly from local farms has taken off. There are now thousands of CSAs across the country. It’s a simple enough model--consumers purchase a share of the season’s harvest upfront, and they get a box or bag of fresh, locally grown produce each week from the farm.
And this model is not restricted to farming. In recent years, people have applied the CSA idea to other types of goods and services such as dining out, microbrews, and even fish. It’s a system that works for both producers and consumers. Here are some of our favorite examples.
Community supported breweries
According to the Brewers Association, there were nearly 1,500 microbreweries in the United States in 2013, a 23 percent increase over the 2012 count. As craft beer becomes ever more popular, some breweries have adopted the farm CSA model to offer customers exclusive access to their favorite local brews.
By purchasing a CSB share, you get to take home a specified quantity of beer at regular intervals, usually monthly. You are directly purchasing from the producer, thus creating a relationship between creator and consumer. CSB memberships typically offer six- or twelve-month options and include additional benefits like discounts and members-only events. (YES! Magazine)
Nasa climate scientists: We said 2014 was the warmest year on record... but we're only 38% sure we were right Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’; But it emerged that GISS’s analysis is subject to a margin of error; Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all - The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 per cent sure this was true.
In a press release on Friday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’.
The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.
Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much.
As a result, GISS’s director Gavin Schmidt has now admitted Nasa thinks the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent. However, when asked by this newspaper whether he regretted that the news release did not mention this, he did not respond. Another analysis, from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, drawn from ten times as many measuring stations as GISS, concluded that if 2014 was a record year, it was by an even tinier amount. (UK Daily Mail)
Estimates of the Continuously Publishing Core in the Scientific Workforce Using the entire Scopus database, we estimated that there are 15,153,100 publishing scientists (distinct author identifiers) in the period 1996–2011. However, only 150,608 (<1%) of them have published something in each and every year in this 16-year period (uninterrupted, continuous presence [UCP] in the literature). This small core of scientists with UCP are far more cited than others, and they account for 41.7% of all papers in the same period and 87.1% of all papers with >1000 citations in the same period. Skipping even a single year substantially affected the average citation impact. We also studied the birth and death dynamics of membership in this influential UCP core, by imputing and estimating UCP-births and UCP-deaths. We estimated that 16,877 scientists would qualify for UCP-birth in 1997 (no publication in 1996, UCP in 1997–2012) and 9,673 scientists had their UCP-death in 2010. The relative representation of authors with UCP was enriched in Medical Research, in the academic sector and in Europe/North America, while the relative representation of authors without UCP was enriched in the Social Sciences and Humanities, in industry, and in other continents.
The proportion of the scientific workforce that maintains a continuous uninterrupted stream of publications each and every year over many years is very limited, but it accounts for the lion’s share of researchers with high citation impact. This finding may have implications for the structure, stability and vulnerability of the scientific workforce. (PLOS One)
What the Fake Syria Sniper Boy Video Tell Us About Media Experts Many mainstream media websites helped a fake video go viral this month. The video showing a young Syrian boy running through sniper fire to save a little girl, was exposed as a fake when the Norwegian producer Lars Klevberg made the fact public. One of the stated aims of the Norwegian film makers was to “see how the media would respond to a fake video.” This article examines how that experiment went.
The western press very quickly accepted the video as real and used it to support the US administration’s narrative on Syria. Many top US news sources began to spread the story. Even though the producer said he explicitly added big hints that the video was fake, like the children surviving multiple gun shots.
Propagating false stories on Syria, is nothing new for the western press. In the lead up to the conflict many stories were exposed as frauds, such as the Anti-government activist “Gay Girl in Damascus” which turned out to be a middle-aged American man in Scotland. Syrian Danny Abdul Dayem which was frequently interviewed by CNN was using fake gun fire and flames in his interviews.
The fake sniper video wasn’t enough to support US government narratives by itself, as the now deleted original upload didn’t suggest the identity of the snipers. So the west’s media suggested that it was Syrian military snipers that were targeting the children without any evidence. Journalists failed to mention how they reached the conclusion that an actor in Malta was shot by the Syrian military. It may be that the western press is quick to trust pro-rebel sources, as the video was uploaded by the pro-rebel Sham Times along with their own twist. (New Eastern Outlook)
Noam Chomsky | The Leading Terrorist State "It's official: The U.S. is the world's leading terrorist state, and proud of it."
That should have been the headline for the lead story in The New York Times on Oct. 15, which was more politely titled "CIA Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels."
The article reports on a CIA review of recent U.S. covert operations to determine their effectiveness. The White House concluded that unfortunately successes were so rare that some rethinking of the policy was in order.
The article quoted President Barack Obama as saying that he had asked the CIA to conduct the review to find cases of "financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn't come up with much." So Obama has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.
The first paragraph of the Times article cites three major examples of "covert aid": Angola, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, each case was a major terrorist operation conducted by the U.S.
Angola was invaded by South Africa, which, according to Washington, was defending itself from one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups" - Nelson Mandela's African National Congress. That was 1988. (Truth-Out)
Mitch McConnell's Freighted Ties to a Shadowy Shipping Company After drugs were found aboard the Ping May, a vessel owned by his wife's family's company, Colombian authorities are investigating. - Before the Ping May, a rusty cargo vessel, could disembark from the port of Santa Marta en route to the Netherlands in late August, Colombian inspectors boarded the boat and made a discovery. Hidden in the ship’s chain locker, amidst its load of coal bound for Europe, were approximately 40 kilograms, or about ninety pounds, of cocaine. A Colombian Coast Guard official told The Nation that there is an ongoing investigation.
The seizure of the narcotics shipment in the Caribbean port occurred far away from Kentucky, the state in which Senator Mitch McConnell is now facing a career-defining election. But the Republican Senate minority leader has the closest of ties to the owner of the Ping May, the vessel containing the illicit materials: the Foremost Maritime Corporation, a firm founded and owned by McConnell’s in-laws, the Chao family. (The Nation)
Scientists find how magic mushrooms alter the mind Scientists studying the effects of the psychedelic chemical in magic mushrooms have found the human brain displays a similar pattern of activity during dreams as it does during a mind-expanding drug trip.
Psychedelic drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms can profoundly alter the way we experience the world, but little is known about what physically happens in the brain.
In a study published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, researchers examined the brain effects of psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms, using data from brain scans of volunteers who had been injected with the drug.
"A good way to understand how the brain works is to perturb the system in a marked and novel way. Psychedelic drugs do precisely this and so are powerful tools for exploring what happens in the brain when consciousness is profoundly altered," said Dr Enzo Tagliazucchi, who led the study at Germany's Goethe University.
Magic mushrooms grow naturally around the world and have been widely used since ancient times for religious rites and also for recreation. (Reuters)
10 Ways to Protect Yourself From NLP Mind Control NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is one of the world’s most prevalent methods of mind control, used by everyone from sales callers to politicians to media pundits, and it’s nasty to the core. Here’s ten ways to make sure nobody uses it on you… ever. - Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a method for controlling people’s minds that was invented by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s, became popular in the psychoanalytic, occult and New Age worlds in the 1980s, and advertising, marketing and politics in the 1990s and 2000s. It’s become so interwoven with how people are communicated to and marketed at that its use is largely invisible. It’s also somewhat of a pernicious, devilish force in the world—nearly everybody in the business of influencing people has studied at least some of its techniques. Masters of it are notorious for having a Rasputin-like ability to trick people in incredible ways—most of all themselves.
After explaining a bit about what NLP is and where it came from, I’m going to break down 10 ways to inoculate yourself against its use. You’ll likely be spotting it left, right and center in the media with a few tips on what to look for. Full disclosure: During my 20s, I spent years studying New Age, magical and religious systems for changing consciousness. One of them was NLP. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum: I’ve had people ruthlessly use NLP to attempt to control me, and I’ve also trained in it and even used it in the advertising world. Despite early fascination, by 2008 or so I had largely come to the conclusion that it’s next to useless—a way of manipulating language that greatly overestimates its own effectiveness as a discipline, really doesn’t achieve much in the way of any kind of lasting change, and contains no real core of respect for people or even true understanding of how people work.
After throwing it to the wayside, however, I became convinced that understanding NLP is crucial simply so that people can resist its use. It’s kind of like the whole PUA thing that was popular in the mid-00s—a group of a few techniques that worked for a few unscrupulous people until the public figured out what was going on and rejected it, like the body identifying and rejecting foreign material.
What is NLP, and where did it come from? (Ultra Culture)
Annapolis police chief apologizes for citing hoax story in testimony against marijuana legalization Testifying against bills proposed to legalize and decriminalize marijuana in the state, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited a hoax story that claimed 37 people had died the first day marijuana was legalized in Colorado.
“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Pristoop testified at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”
But Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, who has proposed a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax the drug, immediately fact-checked Pristoop.
“Unless you have some other source for this, I’m afraid I’ve got to spoil the party here,” Raskin said. “Your assertion that 37 people died of a marijuana overdose in Colorado was a hoax on the DailyCurrant and the Comedy Central website.”
Indeed, Pristoop was apparently referring to a story by the satirical website DailyCurrant.com, which reportedly fooled some people with the headline ‘‘Marijuana overdoses kill 37 in Colorado on first day of legalization.” (Capital Gazette)
Conspiracy Theorists Aren't Really Skeptics: The fascinating psychology of people who know the real truth about JFK, UFOs, and 9/11 To believe that the U.S. government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you’d have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you’d have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught. To insist that the truth remains hidden, you’d have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them—the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organizations, peer-reviewed journals, news organizations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states—was incompetent, deceived, or part of the cover-up.
And yet, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 percent of U.S. adults agreed that the attacks “caught US intelligence and military forces off guard.” More than 30 percent chose a different conclusion: that “certain elements in the US government knew the attacks were coming but consciously let them proceed for various political, military, and economic motives,” or that these government elements “actively planned or assisted some aspects of the attacks.”
How can this be? How can so many people, in the name of skepticism, promote so many absurdities?
The answer is that people who suspect conspiracies aren’t really skeptics. Like the rest of us, they’re selective doubters. They favor a worldview, which they uncritically defend. But their worldview isn’t about God, values, freedom, or equality. It’s about the omnipotence of elites.
Conspiracy chatter was once dismissed as mental illness. But the prevalence of such belief, documented in surveys, has forced scholars to take it more seriously. Conspiracy theory psychology is becoming an empirical field with a broader mission: to understand why so many people embrace this way of interpreting history. As you’d expect, distrust turns out to be an important factor. But it’s not the kind of distrust that cultivates critical thinking. (Slate)
The Top 10 Marijuana Developments in 2013 This is my annual survey of the most significant marijuana policy developments in the United States.
This means it excludes foreign developments, such as Uruguay becoming the first nation to legalize marijuana. It also omits scientific developments, which I prefer to leave to other experts.
1. Public Opinion Polling: Public support for making marijuana legal reached a record high in 2013. A Pew Research Center poll released in April showed 52 percent support, and a Gallup poll in October showed 58 percent support. I believe the Pew poll is likely more accurate -- last year's Gallup poll found 48 percent support, and it's difficult to boost national support by 10 percent in just one year -- but it's now safe to say most Americans are fed up with marijuana prohibition.
2. Legalization in Colorado: Amazingly, the regulatory work carried out by the governor's marijuana task force, the state legislature, the Colorado Department of Revenue and many city governments went according to plan. In addition, 65 percent of Colorado voters passed a tax measure in November that was essentially the second part of the legalization initiative adopted in 2012. As a result, retail establishments are now legally selling marijuana to adults 21 and older, making world history.
3. Legalization in Washington State: While the voter-approved initiative in Washington isn't as good as the one in Colorado -- and the regulations and taxes appear to be a bit more burdensome -- the process worked. This spring or summer, Washington will become the second state in which retail establishments begin selling marijuana to adults.
4. Medical Marijuana in Illinois: After 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, the Illinois government legalized medical marijuana in August, making it the 20th state to do so. As a result, approximately 22 grow facilities and 60 retail establishments will crop up by the end of this year. (Huffington Post)
Weed: Been There. Done That. For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.
But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it.
We didn’t give it up for the obvious health reasons: that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers; that smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed; that young people who smoke go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.
I think we gave it up, first, because we each had had a few embarrassing incidents. Stoned people do stupid things (that’s basically the point). I smoked one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in English class. I stumbled through it, incapable of putting together simple phrases, feeling like a total loser. It is still one of those embarrassing memories that pop up unbidden at 4 in the morning.
We gave it up, second, I think, because one member of our clique became a full-on stoner. He may have been the smartest of us, but something sad happened to him as he sunk deeper into pothead life. (New York Times)
Mile high milestone: Pot fears were unfounded Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown predicted bad things for New Year's Day and the world's debut of legal recreational marijuana sales, fearing a press photograph of wanton dope smoking would stream across news wires and forever tarnish Denver's image.
He even penned a column for his constituent newsletter with the headline "Cannabis Chaos."
"I have to change that," Brown said on Wednesday, sitting in a chair inside the Medicine Man Denver marijuana store in Montbello. "I'm going to call it 'Marijuana Milestone.' "
All concerns were alleviated Wednesday as people calmly lined up, bought their weed and giddily drove away. (Denver Post)
Bernie Sanders to NSA: Spying on Hill? Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a letter Friday to the director of the National Security Agency asking if the agency is spying or has ever spied on members of Congress.
The Vermont independent said he was "deeply concerned" about the NSA's collection of information on Americans and called reports that the agency listens in on foreign leaders "disturbing."
"I am writing today to ask you one very simple question," Sanders wrote in the letter addressed to NSA Director Keith Alexander. "Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials? 'Spying' would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business." (Politico)
Do Stoned Dolphins Give 'Puff Puff Pass' A Whole New Meaning? The BBC will be airing a cool new underwater documentary on Thursday called Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, where carefully disguised cameras were used to film the daily lives of everyone’s favorite marine mammals. But the most interesting detail seems to have been leaked on Sunday: during the documentary, some of the dolphins reportedly used a pufferfish to get stoned.
“Even the brightest humans have succumbed to the lure of drugs and, it seems, dolphins are no different,” said The Sunday Times. The article goes on to describe how the team got footage of dolphins gently harassing a pufferfish, which led to the dolphins entering “a trance-like state after apparently getting “high” on the toxin.”
“After chewing the puffer and gently passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection,” said Rob Pilley, zoologist and one of the producers of the documentary. “This was a case of young dolphins purposefully experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating.” And so it would seem that we can add drug use to the long list of dolphin bad behaviors, (a list which includes bullying, rape and murder, for the record; illicit drug use seems a minor offense in comparison).
It sounds too awesome to be true—which means it probably is.
I’m not convinced. Dolphins are curious and intelligent, so I have no doubt that they would investigate a strange animal like a puffer. They might see what happens, explore the texture, taste, or smell of this novel creature in their midst, as they do in this video: (Discover)
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