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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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Just Two Words From Apple On The NSA's iPhone Hacking Show How The Tech Community Now Hates The NSA If Walmart or McDonald's began describing the Obama Administration as an unconstitutional threat to the privacy of its customers, it would be front page/holy-cow news.
But that's what is happening in Silicon Valley right now, with America's biggest tech companies.
The most interesting two words in Apple's official statement today on the news that the NSA can put spyware on 100% of Apple's products, including the iPhone, are these: "malicious hackers."
The company said it was unaware of the NSA's hacking program, called "DROPOUTJEEP," and that it was working to end the breach. But note that Apple's statement went out of its way to portray the U.S. government as a security threat:
We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them. (Business Insider)
L.A. DUI Checkpoints: Now With More Saliva in Your Questionable Fourth Amendment Practices Bad news from the open-air prison we call America today out of L.A., where cops are going to start demanding saliva samples from citizens it stops at DUI checkpoints who it finds suspiciously suspicious.
Details from SoCal public radio station KPCC website:
Starting this weekend, law enforcement in Los Angeles will begin expanded use of saliva swab test kits on drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.....
Susan Melkisethian / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-NDSusan Melkisethian / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
The testing is already used at some LAPD DUI checkpoints and at three stations that have jails. A $520,000 grant awarded to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office will expand the regular use of the test next year...
Do you gotta give them your spit? No. Legally, just your blood. God bless America! (Reason)
Google Adds to Its Menagerie of Robots BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google’s growing robot menagerie.
Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.
It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software. (New York 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)
Congress Just Held a Remarkable Two-Hour Hearing on Aliens In a refreshingly pro-science move, the House Science Committee set aside two hours yesterday to discuss the ongoing search for extraterrestrial life. The ensuing conversation was fascinating, but at times infuriating, with the experts discussing everything from alien biosignatures to the possibility that we're being watched.
The hearing, called "Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond," was set up to examine the burgeoning field of astrobiology and the search for biosignatures in our solar system and beyond. To that end, the U.S. House of Representatives brought together three experts, all PhDs: Mary Voytek, Senior Scientist for Astrobiology in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters; Sara Seager, Professor of Physics and of Planetary Science at M.I.T. (whose work we featured earlier this year); and Steven J. Dick, Baruch S. Blumberg Chair of Astrobiology, Library of Congress (who we've also talked about here at io9).
The Republican-dominated House Committee centered many of their questions on the issue of whether astrobiology could be an inspiration for young people to get involved in science and engineering. The witnesses were even asked how they got into astrobiology.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla) even asked the witnesses what they considered to be the greatest danger to life on Earth. Perhaps he was wondering if extraterrestrial intelligences (ETIs) might pose a threat. The panelists' answers included asteroids, overpopulation, and somewhat inexplicably, the quest for energy resources. Regrettably, this subject is outside their area of expertise, and their answers reflected as much. (io9)
Google robots may pose challenge to Amazon drones Google has revealed it has taken over seven robotics companies in the past half a year and has begun hiring staff to develop its own product.
A spokesman confirmed the effort was being headed up by Andy Rubin, who was previously in charge of the Android operating system.
The spokesman was unwilling to discuss what kind of robot was being developed.
But the New York Times reports that at this stage Google does not plan to sell the resulting product to consumers.
Schaft Google has hired a team of Japanese engineers who make humanoid robots
Instead, the newspaper suggests, Google's robots could be paired with its self-driving car research to help automate the delivery of goods to people's doors.
It notes the company has recently begun a same-day grocery delivery service in San Francisco and San Jose, called Google Shopping Express. (BBC)
NASA funding shuffle alarms planetary scientists -- Agency restructuring will postpone a major grants programme for one Scott Guzewich spent six years as a weather forecaster in the US Air Force before switching to his dream career as a planetary scientist. Guzewich now studies the Martian atmosphere as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
But Guzewich’s dream job may be turning into a nightmare. On 3 December, NASA’s planetary science division announced a restructuring of how it funds its various research and analysis programmes. And what sounded like a bureaucratic shuffle touched a raw nerve among US planetary scientists, who already feel singled out in an era of shrinking budgets.
In particular, a newly formed research programme that will cover roughly half of all planetary science proposals will not be calling for new grant submissions in 2014. Researchers who draw the bulk of their salaries from grants will have no place to apply.
“Now I have to basically skip 2014 and submit in 2015,” says Guzewich. “If nothing gets funded in that call, then I guess it’s time for me to go to Walmart.”
Almost all US planetary scientists are funded, at least in part, by NASA’s US$1.2-billion planetary sciences division. Many older and more established researchers get money from individual missions such as the Mars Curiosity rover or the Cassini Saturn probe. Younger scientists, such as Guzewich, must rely more heavily on the roughly $250-million pot known as the research and analysis budget. This is the money designated to scientists exploring the data streaming back from planetary missions. According to a 2010 survey by the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, nearly half of US planetary scientists depend on this programme for more than half of their salaries. (Nature)
Waterboarding, prolonged stress positions, placed in a box and subjected to extreme noise: CIA's rendition of two terror suspects in Polish jail revealed Two terror suspects 'were transferred to a prison in Poland and tortured' -- Both men say they were brought to the country in December 2002 -- Allegations include being told their families would be sexually abused -- Poland has been accused of human rights abuses - Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay have accused Poland of human rights abuses.
They say they fell victim to the CIA's program to kidnap terror suspects and transfer them to other countries as they allege that they were tortured in a remote Polish prison.
The case marks the first time Europe's role in the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' of terror suspects has reached European Court of Human Rights.
Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay accuse Poland of human rights abuses
Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay accuse Poland of human rights abuses
One of the cases concerns 48-year-old Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who currently faces terror charges in the U.S. for allegedly orchestrating the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000, a bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded 37. (UK Daily Mail)
Meet Carl Hart, the Scientist Debunking America's Myths About Drugs Dr. Carl Hart defies all preconceptions of the word "neuropsychopharmacologist." With thick dreadlocks that dangle well below his shoulders, a penchant for studded earrings, and a gold incisor that flashes when he grins, Hart, 47, was the only black man in America to receive a Ph.D in neuroscience in 1996 upon completing his doctorate at the University of Wyoming.
Though he continues to break Ivy League stereotypes as Columbia University's first tenured African-American science professor, Hart shakes the foundations of his field in a much more significant way than race: His research suggests that for the last three decades, law enforcement, politicians, and the media have been lying to Americans about the dangers of cocaine, methamphetamines, and other illegal drugs.
"I have been studying drugs for 22 years," Hart said in an interview with Columbia College Today. "I am here to tell you, drugs are not the bogeyman that people said they were."
Dispelling the myths surrounding drug abuse and addiction is precisely the goal of Hart's new book, High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society.
Hart's autobiography weaves personal memoir, Drug Science 101, and enlightened discussions of American racial politics into one engaging narrative. High Price is structured around Hart's own remarkable journey from an impoverished childhood on the streets of Miami's roughest neighborhoods to a professional career studying drugs in the ivory towers of academia. (Policy Mic)
The internet mystery that has the world baffled For the past two years, a mysterious online organisation has been setting the world's finest code-breakers a series of seemingly unsolveable problems. But to what end? Welcome to the world of Cicada 3301 - One evening in January last year, Joel Eriksson, a 34-year-old computer analyst from Uppsala in Sweden, was trawling the web, looking for distraction, when he came across a message on an internet forum. The message was in stark white type, against a black background.
“Hello,” it said. “We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.”
The message was signed: "3301”.
A self-confessed IT security "freak” and a skilled cryptographer, Eriksson’s interest was immediately piqued. This was – he knew – an example of digital steganography: the concealment of secret information within a digital file. Most often seen in conjunction with image files, a recipient who can work out the code – for example, to alter the colour of every 100th pixel – can retrieve an entirely different image from the randomised background "noise”. (London Telegraph)
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)
Officials warn of dangers associated with earwax marijuana -- One former user: 'The dabs can take you' Dubbed pot’s most powerful high, earwax marijuana – also known as “dabs,” “honey oil,” or “butter” – has become a growing problem in the Sacramento region, according to drug addiction specialists.
Earwax was a name given for its yellowish color and texture.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the drug in marijuana that induces a high. While pot contains roughly 20 percent THC, earwax – which is butane hash oil – can contain up to 80 percent of it, making it a lot more potent.
Hundreds of YouTube videos show people smoking the substance.
“It literally took me down. I didn’t fall, but I got to the ground pretty darn quickly,” said one 23-year-old former smoker. “Within a couple of minutes, the high started and you start to feel like you’re going out of your body.” (NBC)
West Coast Evacuation Due To Fukishima Radiation Possible Nuclear Engineer Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, confirmed that ocean currents are carrying the radioactive water to the West Coast.
"There are several hundred tons of radioactive water that are pouring into the ocean at the site every day," Makhijani said.
According to a study published in the Journal Deep Sea Research 1, it will begin arriving this March. But Makhijani says there's no need to panic. The radiation will be diluted, and levels found on the West Coast are very low and not considered dangerous so far. But the question is, will we really know? (ABC)
Houston Anthropologist Reveals Irrefutable Proof That Recorded History Is Wrong Evidence Found Across the Globe of Highly Evolved Human Species from before the Ice Age, Demand Scientific Recognition of our Past that Depicts Societies of Advanced Technology and Culture
Houston anthropologist, Dr. Semir Osmanagich, founder of the Bosnian Archaeology Park, the most active archaeology site in the world, declares that irrefutable scientific evidence exists of ancient civilizations with advanced technology that leaves us no choice but to change our recorded history. An examination of the age of structures across the earth reveals conclusively that they were built by advanced civilizations from over 29,000 years ago.
“Acknowledging that we are witness to fundamental proof of advanced civilizations dating back over 29,000 years and an examination of their societal structures forces the World to reconsider its understanding of the development of civilization and history,” explains Dr. Semir Osmanagich. “Conclusive data at the Bosnian Pyramid site revealed in 2008 and confirmed this year by several independent labs who conducted radio carbon testing dates the site at 29,400 +/-400 years minimum.”
The radiocarbon dating tests of 29,200 years +/- 400 years was done by Radiocarbon Lab from Kiew, Ukraine, on organic material found at the Bosnian Pyramid site. Physicist Dr. Anna Pazdur of Poland’s Silesian University first announced the news at a Press Conference in Sarajevo in August of 2008. Professor of Classical Archaeology from the University of Alexandria Dr. Mona Haggag called this discovery “writing new pages in European and World history.” The C14 date of 29,000 years at the Bosnian Archaeological Park was obtained from a piece of organic material retrieved from a clay layer inside the outer casing to the pyramid. It follows a sample date obtained during the 2012 dig season on material located above the concrete at 24,800 years, meaning this structure has a construction profile stretching back almost 30,000 years. (Before It's News)
Rolling Stone Italia Just Offended the Entire EDM Culture, and We’re Wondering Why I had to transcribe this video before reacting to it: “What the hell are you doing? Electronic noises you’re trying to pass off as music. Is this your drug now? This is what gives you a buzz when you’re up at the mixer, right? DJs. Criminals with a license to shoot shit into our eardrums. Low quality MP3 pushers. Third class whores that give it away to the first bidder. You feel like superstars, huh? The owners of our night time. Heroes of the stage. No audience will ever chant your name. They’ll never know your songs by heart. Because you are an anonymity The day will come when your vocoders explode and your CDs catch fire.”
This goes on, and ends with Rolling Stone‘s logo and Italian mantra, “la bibbia del rock & roll.” Either this was a misguided shot, or someone thought it would be a good idea to spice things up and drum up some press for a struggling magazine. I can’t fathom though how any publication would fund someone to create a visual slam piece offending an entire culture, then get the thumbs up from editorial to release it. This video was the vision of director Federico Brugia, who’s previous work includes advertisements for Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. The budget for this nightmare must have been outrageous. It’s also been published for nearly a week, and would have undoubtedly been pulled if it wasn’t given a nod. We also see it posted on the Italian Rolling Stone website. (Do Androids Dance)
Portland's Pot Vote Could Make It A Gateway City For Maine It's been a big year in the marijuana legalization movement. Not only did Colorado and Washington voters make marijuana legal last November, but this week Coloradans approved a ballot measure to tax marijuana sales.
Also this week, Michigan voters in three cities removed penalties for possession. And in Portland, Maine, voters passed by an overwhelming margin an ordinance to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces.
At a victory party at a Portland pub Tuesday night, activists lit up a foot-long joint and passed it around in celebration — until they were asked to put it out. Smoking pot in public is still illegal, and marijuana remains outlawed at the state and federal levels.
That's why Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says not much will change as a result of the city's vote.
"State law pre-empts an ordinance of this sort, a local ordinance of any sort," he says.
The other reason Sauschuck says it won't change much is because Maine is one of 13 states that has already decriminalized marijuana possession. It's just a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. (National Public Radio)
D.C. mayor backs decriminalizing marijuana, replacing criminal charges with civil fines D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) on Wednesday offered his first unequivocal support for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, adding momentum to a legislative proposal that has the support of a supermajority on the D.C. Council and could make the District one of the nation’s most lenient jurisdictions on marijuana possession.
Under a measure proposed by council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in the District would no longer be punishable by six months in jail and a penalty of $1,000.
Instead, those caught with amounts of the drug deemed for personal use would risk only a civil charge and a ticket of $100 — the equivalent of parking in a no-parking area in the District at rush hour.
Wells, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, and civil liberties groups have urged passage of the measure. They say the District’s marijuana laws have disproportionately affected African Americans and have saddled some residents with criminal records, making it hard for them to find gainful employment. (Washington Post)
Florida Cop Buys $100 in Groceries for Woman Caught Shoplifting Food A struggling Florida mom who was caught trying to shoplift hundreds of dollars of groceries ended up with food and a ride home from a kind-hearted police officer, instead of a ride to the stationhouse.
When Miami-Dade Police Officer Vicki Thomas, 55, was dispatched to look into a shoplifting case at a Publix grocery store, a store manager led her to Jessica Robles.
"She was crying. I said, 'Okay, what did she take?' And he pointed to a grocery cart that was full of groceries," Thomas told ABCNews.com. "I've been on [the job] 23 years, and I went, wow."
"She just filled up the grocery cart and she just walked out, which shocked me and I asked her, 'Why?'" Thomas recalled. "She said, 'My children were hungry.' And that immediately impacted me." (ABC)
For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana -- Support surged 10 percentage points in past year, to 58% For marijuana advocates, the last 12 months have been a period of unprecedented success as Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. And now for the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. This is in sharp contrast to the time Gallup first asked the question in 1969, when only 12% favored legalization.
Americans' Views on Legalizing Marijuana
Public support for legalization more than doubled in the 1970s, growing to 28%. It then plateaued during the 1980s and 1990s before inching steadily higher since 2000, reaching 50% in 2011.
A sizable percentage of Americans (38%) this year admitted to having tried the drug, which may be a contributing factor to greater acceptance.
Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans' tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California's second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.
The Obama administration has also been flexible on the matter. Despite maintaining the government's firm opposition to legalizing marijuana under federal law, in late August Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the Justice Department would not challenge the legality of Colorado's and Washington's successful referendums, provided that those states maintain strict rules regarding the drug's sale and distribution.
The movement to legalize marijuana mirrors the relatively recent success of the movement to legalize gay marriage, which voters have also approved now in 14 states. Public support for gay marriage, which Americans also overwhelmingly opposed in the past, has increased dramatically, reaching majority support in the last two years. (Gallup)
Scientists Showcase the Wonders of the World at Burning Man Festival -- Scientists haul their wares to Burning Man Ever since Lake Lahontan dried up thousands of years ago, the Black Rock Desert in Nevada has been a forbidding habitat. The flat terrain is covered with a white alkaline powder, and dust storms are frequent. That has not deterred revelers at the annual Burning Man festival, however. This year they have come bearing water fleas, tardigrades and other creatures that would have been more at home in the Pleistocene lake.
“Ohhhhh, there's one!” Mariya Levina, wearing a lab coat over a bikini top and shorts, her pink hair pulled back in a ponytail, is peering into one of four microscopes arranged on a folding table. She is looking at a trumpet-shaped protozoan, Stentor, as it lurches to a halt on the slide.
The mobile science exhibit, known as the MicroZoo, is the brainchild of bioengineer Tristan Ursell, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University. He aims to reconnect visitors, for whom science classes may be a distant (or even unpleasant) memory, with the wonder of biology. “There's a whole world just out of view,” Ursell says. “I want people to think about that.” (Scientific American)
Will Legal Pot Cost More Than Black-Market Pot? -- High marijuana taxes could derail legalization in Washington and Colorado. When Congress banned marijuana in 1937, it did so in the guise of taxation, imposing a prohibitive levy on cannabis and created criminal penalties for those who failed to pay it. Marijuana taxes also played a prominent role in what may be the beginning of the end for pot prohibition: the legalization measures that voters in Colorado and Washington approved last fall.
Supporters of Washington's I-502 and Colorado’s Amendment 64 emphasized the revenue that the government could reap by recognizing cannabis production and distribution as a legitimate business. The tricky part, as officials in both states will soon discover, is balancing the desire for tax revenue against the desire to eliminate the black market created by prohibition. Or as UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman, an adviser to Washington’s marijuana regulators, puts it: “What if we gave a pot legalization and nobody came?”
The dilemma is especially clear in Washington, where I-502 specified a 25 percent excise tax at three levels: sales between producers and processors, between processors and retailers, and between retailers and consumers. That’s in addition to the standard state sales tax of 8.75 percent.
According to calculations by BOTEC, Kleiman’s consulting firm, these taxes will make the retail cost of cannabis 58 percent higher than it would otherwise be, accounting for 37 percent of the price paid by consumers. One BOTEC projection, based on a production cost of $2 per gram, indicates the after-tax retail price will be $17 per gram, or $482 per ounce. Another projection, based on a production cost of $3 per gram, puts the retail price at $25.50 per gram, or $723 per ounce. (Forbes)
Horrifying New Drugs! Does New Zealand's New Synthetic Drug Law Offer a Safer Way Forward? Time magazine warns "The World's Most Horrifying Drug May Have Claimed Its First U.S. Victim." The horror of this "new" drug, "krokodil," is that it "eats the skin" of those who use it.
Why would anyone use drugs with all their risks, let alone an untested new drug or a drug that reportedly "eats their skin?" Because the reasons that people use drugs are important to them. People use drugs to get high for various reasons (i.e. to feel good, to forget their troubles, to seek the "truth" or the "divine," for excitement or adventure, or to relieve boredom).They use drugs to ward off "dope sickness" (i.e. prevent withdrawal symptoms). They use drugs to enhance their performance of some task (such as studying, flying an airplane or driving a truck for many hours, or hitting homeruns). And people use drugs to fit in socially (to feel relaxed with strangers or to accommodate peer pressure). However, federal, state and international law recognize "medical use" as the sole legitimate reason one can use a drug (other than tobacco, alcohol and caffeine). These non-medical reasons are compellingly important to the tens of millions of Americans who use drugs knowing that their drug use is against the law and harshly punished. Laws and treaties that limit the legal manufacture of drugs only for medical purposes results in all non-medical drug use being more dangerous because it is unprotected by government or market-based regulation and inspection. Now New Zealand is changing that approach.
The dangerous drug du jour, "krokodil," is a version of desomorphine being made informally in Russia. It is a fast acting narcotic derived from codeine which is extracted from opium poppy. Desomorphine is reported to be 8 to 10 times more potent than morphine. (Huffington Post)
New Orleans Film Festival 2013, Day 3: 'Whole Gritty City' shines light on NOLA marching bands There's not an award for the New Orleans-iest movie shown at the New Orleans Film Festival, but if there were, "The Whole Gritty City" would certainly be a contender -- if not a shoo-in -- to win it.
Directed by Richard Barber and Andre Lambertson, it's an impassioned documentary look at the often-unsung heroes of Mardi Gras parades and halftime shows the city over: the local high school marching bands.
Those bands are, of course, vitally important to continuing New Orleans' legendary musical traditions, passing on a love of music from generation to generation. But, as Barber and Lambertson expertly show, they're far more than just music makers. Using emotion and humor -- and, of course, toe-tapping performances -- "The Whole Gritty City" isn't simply a lecture on why marching bands are important to us, the spectator. Rather, it ups the stakes by showing how the bands, and the tireless work of their big-hearted bandleaders, are so immeasurably important to the kids who form the rank and file. (The Times-Picayune)
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