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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Daily Drift

Funny how it works out that way!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kabul, Afghanistan
Pretoria, South Africa
Klang, Malaysia
Chisinau, Moldova
Warsaw, Poland
Mykolayiv, Ukraine
Cape Town, South Africa
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nairobi, Kenya
Panama, Panama
Kaunas, Lithuania
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Leeds, England
Cairo, Egypt
Panevezys, Lithuania
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Belgrade, Serbia
Baku, Azerbaijan
Riga, Latvia
Slough, England
Manila, Philippines
Sofia, Bulgaria
Valdivia, Chile
Abu Dahbi, United Arab Emirates
Puchong, Malaysia
Erbil, Iraq
Karachi, Pakistan
Caracas, Venezuela
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Bordeaux, France
Sandakan, Malaysia
San Jose, Costa Rica
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Johannesburg, South Africa
Lusaka, Zambia
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Khartoum, Sudan
Bangkok, Thailand
Tawau, Malaysia
Ankara, Turkey
Doha, Qatar
Joho Bahru, Malaysia

Today is Innovation Day 

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Today in History

1760   Cherokee Indians held hostage at Fort St. George are killed in revenge for Indian attacks on frontier settlements.
1804   Lt. Stephen Decatur attacks the Tripoli pirates who burned the USS Philadelphia.
1862   Fort Donelson, Tennessee, falls to Grant's Federal forces, but not before Nathan Bedford Forrest escapes.
1865   Columbia, South Carolina, surrenders to Federal troops.
1923   Bessie Smith makes her first recording "Down Hearted Blues."
1934   Thousands of Socialists battle Communists at a rally in New York's Madison Square Garden.
1937   Dupont patents a new thread, nylon, which will replace silk in a number of products and reduce costs.
1940   The British destroyer HMS Cossack rescues British seamen from a German prison ship, the Altmark, in a Norwegian fjord.
1942   Tojo outlines Japan's war aims to the Diet, referring to "new order of coexistence" in East Asia.
1945   American paratroopers land on Corregidor, in a campaign to liberate the Philippines.
1951   Stalin contends the U.N. is becoming the weapon of aggressive war.
1952   The FBI arrests 10 members of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.
1957   A U.S. flag flies over an outpost in Wilkes Land, Antarctica.
1959   Fidel Castro takes the oath as Cuban premier in Havana.
1965   Four persons are held in a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell and the Washington Monument.
1966   The World Council of Churches being held in Geneva, urges immediate peace in Vietnam.
1978   China and Japan sign a $20 billion trade pact, which is the most important move since the 1972 resumption of diplomatic ties.

Non Sequitur


Norway enjoys 12-hour TV special of a fireplace, with commentary

Reuters' Balazs Koranyi:
Norwegian public television plans to broadcast a burning fireplace for 12 straight hours from Friday evening, with firewood specialists providing color commentary, expert advice and a bit of cultural tutoring.
"It will be very slow but noble television," said Rune Moeklebust, a producer for state broadcaster NRK, before its commencement.

The 10 Worst Countries In The World For Women

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right that no human being should suffer degrading, cruel or inhumane treatment. Yet this basic right is violated wherever there is gender disparity and women are not treated equally. An unacceptable percentage of the world's female population is still discriminated against.

Here are the 10 worst countries in the world for women. Be warned, however: you may find some of the content upsetting.

Did you know ...

That rational speaking, we are all apocalyptic

Here are 10 pro-gun myths fact checked

That organizations with ties to hate groups are trying to influence immigration policy

About Skeeters - the repugican faux scandal outrage of the day

And on the repugicans: you can redesign the cereal box, but if what you are selling is rat poison, no one is going to buy it

A black family accuses Disneyland character of refusing to touch their kids

That the work stress cancer link now in doubt

Here's why U.S. internet access is slow, costly and unfair

The Hagel Filibuster Shows repugicans Hate America Almost as Much as They Hate President Obama

Campaign Hagel
Children often give bizarre excuses to defend or justify an action for which they are at fault to obfuscate their involvement in untoward behavior, and an excuse is not unrelated to rationale for a certain behavior that at least attempts to explain why an action was taken whether reasonable or not.  The furor over confirming President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has produced a variety of repugican excuses for why they oppose Hagel’s nomination, and why for the first time in America’s history they filibustered a Secretary of Defense nominee, but this is 2013 and although obstruction is the sole reason repugicans serve in Congress since an African American is President, thus far, the primary reason repugicans oppose Hagel is barely mentioned.
There is good reason to assume Senator John McCain’s opposition to Hagel is not just about his views on national security, and although McCain said he is angry at Hagel for criticizing the shrub’s handling of the Iraq war, it is likely more personal. In 2008, Hagel was seen as giving tacit support to Barack Obama’s candidacy over McCain, and recently endorsed a Democrat in his home state over the repugican candidate for the Senate. With Lindsey Graham, McCain has made the attack on diplomats in Benghazi one of the primary excuses for opposing Hagel, but during the shrub junta there were 12 attacks on diplomats that did not create Benghazi-level outrage McCain and Lindsey have aimed at Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Susan Rice, and now Hagel. However, the Benghazi attack and Hagel’s criticism of the Iraq war are childish excuses, because the real reason for repugican opposition to Hagel is his position on Israel, and if there is one thing repugicans, fundamentalist christians, and neon-con warmongers will not comport, it is failure to put Israel above the security of the United States.
The media was remiss to report on the national embarrassment that was the Senate’s armed services committee hearing on Hagel’s nomination last month, or the number of times Israel and Iran came up during questioning. Israel was mentioned 178 times and Iran was next at 169, while the same senators barely mentioned Hagel’s views on Afghanistan where American soldiers are currently fighting, Pakistan that still hides remnants of al-Qaida, or North Korea, a nuclear capable country where more than 30,000 American troops are deployed. However, they thrashed the Israel issue mercilessly and attempted to impugn Hagel’s character by implying he “has ties to the Iran foreign ministry,” courtesy of Jim Inhofe, and questioned if money in his “bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea” from the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, Ted Cruz.
Emboldened by Cruz and Inhofe’s conspiracy theories, repugicans blocked a vote on Hagel because they contend more time is needed for him to produce speeches he is alleged to have given, and to provide further documentation on the funding of organizations he’s been affiliated with. Hagel’s detractors represent an array of groups that include neo-conservative warmongers, evangelical groups such as Christians United for Israel, and the hawkish pro-Israel group, the Emergency Committee for Israel, and their goal is to shift the discourse to Israel instead of America’s defense. The christian Zionist organizations opposing Hagel are part of repugican opposition because he threatens long-held wingnut ideas about foreign policy, and at what length America is willing to go to disregard its own security in the defense of Israel.
The repugicans railed against Hagel for suggesting there are options to dealing with Iran besides joining Israel in a major war with the Islamic Republic, and Inhofe’s only concern remains Hagel’s position on Israel. He said, “The anti-Israel history of Chuck Hagel is real. We can’t have someone at the Pentagon who has made these kinds of statements,” because his statements are contrary to the pro-Israel at all costs crowd in repugican ranks. Hagel’s so-called anti-Israel statements are in regard to peace with Palestinians such as, “The Israeli government needs to understand that implementation of the peace agreement is in its own interests,” and “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.” He also is being harshly condemned as anti-Israel for saying, ”I think we should continue to pursue openings with Iran, we need to understand cold, hard realities and be very clear-eyed and clearheaded, but every opening we should take.”
The idea that there cannot be Middle East peace without all-out war to defend Israel is toxic to neo-conservative ideology, and it informs the primary opposition to Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense; not grudges or Benghazi frenzy. The Israel-first conservatives are staunchly opposed to any peaceful resolution in dealing with Iran, and the idea that Hagel believes it is in Israel, and America’s, best interest to open up a dialogue to address their so-called nuclear ambitions is tantamount to declaring war on god almighty.
Republicans are wont to obstruct anything the Obama Administration has attempted to accomplish, but their allegiance to Israel is compromising national security as well as violating a long-standing principle that the President picks his own cabinet. Hagel  once had the support of Republicans such as Mitch McConnell who said Hagel was one of the “most respected foreign policy voices in the Senate,” and McCain said he “would make an excellent secretary of state,” but now they are besmirching a fellow Republican over Israel based on conspiracy theories advanced by the likes of Ted Cruz. There are big-money groups attempting to derail his nomination precisely by creating the idea that Hagel is against Israel and pro-Iran, and neo-cons are still livid with Hagel for opposing the Iraq war and the failed “surge,” in spite of him being a decorated combat veteran, and veterans affair director under conservative god Ronald Reagan.
With American forces still fighting and dying in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda at large in Pakistan and across the Middle East, nuclear North Korea, a NATO defense ministers’ meeting next week, Republicans are sticking to their obstructionist ways over Israel. Americans have come to learn that Republicans hate this country nearly as much as they hate the President, but it is unimaginable that the party that prides itself in being adamantly pro-defense, is jeopardizing America’s national security and its troops around the globe just to show if you are not with their pro-Israel program, you are with Iran; and will not be Secretary of Defense.

The truth be told

What Scares repugicans More Than Paying Workers a Living Wage?

Voting Rights!
During his State Of The Union Address, the President spent most of his time on ideas to improve our economy and with it our lives.
The only thing that scares Republicans more than paying workers a living wage is our right to vote. One can only imagine what they were thinking when the President said:
” Defending our freedom, though, is not just the job of our military alone.  We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home.  That includes one of the most fundamental rights of a democracy:  the right to vote.  When any American, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.
So tonight, I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America.  It definitely needs improvement.  I’m asking two long-time experts in the field — who, by the way, recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney’s campaign — to lead it.  We can fix this, and we will.  The American people demand it, and so does our democracy.”
Combine that with Senator Boxer’s LINE Act (recently co-sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson) and repugicans see their efforts to destroy this most basic freedom go up in smoke. It’s enough to send repugicans into a fetal position for some time.
One can almost imagine them muttering to one another.  Bad enough the Democrats are sabotaging all our hard work to make sure only the right people vote.  But, co-opting Mitt Romney’s lawyer, it’s a communist plot I tell ya!
Rick Scott was probably trying to find another way to say that he had nothing to do with the reduced voting hours that forced 102-year-old Desiline Victor and many other Floridians to wait 5 to seven hours to vote.
Perhaps the cruelty inherent in Florida’s voter suppression policies played a role in Marco Rubio’s night of the big gulp. After all, how can you possibly look voters in the eye knowing that your party was directly responsible for attacking the freedoms that repugicans say they love, but attack when it hurts their interests?
It’s more than time to set national standards assuring that your right to vote is equally protected no matter where you live and no matter who your state government is.
One thing I’m hoping for, though not mentioned in the President’s remarks.  If we are to improve our voting experience, we need to fix the idea that dollars have voices worthy of protection under the constitution, while human voices are at the mercy of repugicans whose love for freedom, in truth, is restricted to their ever-dwindling voting base.

Virginia repugicans Destroys the Wingnut Argument Against the Voting Rights Act

voting rights act
Wingnuts and repugicans are waging a war on a key section of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), claiming that the South no longer has a problem with discriminating against minority voters. Ari Berman at The Nation reported on the Alabama lawsuit’s claims, “”Section 5′s federalism cost is too great” and that the statute has “accomplished [its] mission.”"
As they prepare to make this argument to the Supreme Court, Virginia Republicans just passed a new voter ID law that disenfranchises minority voters, which destroys the entire basis for their argument.
The essential part of the repugican/wingnut argument is that the Section 5 of the VRA is no longer needed because it accomplished its mission. Yes, things in the south are so great for minorities now. No problems down here, ya’ll, nothing to see!
The Civil Rights Organization debunks the myths about Section 5, in particular the argument that it unfairly targets covered jurisdictions:
“Fact: Congress approved Section 5 to prevent the implementation of new discriminatory laws or practices, not to punish for past practices. Section 5 applies to places that have a history of significant discrimination and where ongoing and persistent discrimination continues. Under the “bail-out” provision of the VRA, a jurisdiction can be removed from Section 5 coverage if it shows that it has not engaged in voting discrimination over the past ten years and has complied with the VRA. Recently, eleven jurisdictions in Virginia have done so.” 1
Notice how they use jurisdictions in Virginia as an example of areas that can be removed from Section 5 because at that time, they had not engaged in voter discrimination for ten years? Well, Virginia is about to engage in voter discrimination again (which sort of suggests that the Virginia is not to be trusted when they say all is well).
Virginia repugicans passed a new bill (Senate Bill 719 and House Bill 1337) that would change “acceptable” forms of ID required in order to vote. Things that used to be acceptable like “current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck” will no longer work, but hey, if you have a concealed weapons permit, you are good to go. If signed into law, Virginia voters will need a photo with their ID. The bill, if signed by repugican Governor Bob McDonnell, would go into effect conveniently in 2014.
Obviously this isn’t about proving that you live where you say you live, or are who you say you are. Virginia does not have a problem with voter fraud. It’s especially egregious since African Americans, Latinos, and the poor are the least likely to have a drivers’ license, and more prone to use the no-longer-acceptable forms of identification.
Sure, this is most likely illegal under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and that is exactly why repugicans and wingnuts are trying to get it overturned by the Supreme Court, which will hear their case on February 27. Section 5 is the part that changed everything, because it requires states to prove to the Justice Department that the changes to voting laws do not result in disenfranchisement of minorities. According to the Civil Rights Organization, the Voting Rights Act took aim at the deliberate disenfranchisment of African-Americans in the South and Latinos in the Southwest.
Virginia also just changed their Voter ID laws in 2012. That law was given the go-ahead by the DOJ because it did not appear to disenfranchise minority voters. Last year repugican Virginia State Senator Mark Obenshain argued on the floor that he opposed photo ID laws as he touted the “reasonable” legislation that allowed for all of the forms of ID they are now blocking.
Watch here, courtesy of Progress VA:
In January of this year, that same small government repugican introduced a bill that required pollworkers to match a photo and identifying information for each voter complied in the pollbook, and “if the voter does not appear to be the same person depicted in the photograph in the pollbook, any qualified voter may and the officer of election shall challenge the vote of such voter.” Quite the swing. Fortunately, his privacy invasion bill failed.
In 2006, the federal House and the Senate reauthorized the VRA in a bipartisan vote, which makes this new conservative argument even more absurd, especially given the number of repugican/ALEC-based voting law changes that were struck down around the country in the lead up to the 2012 election.
Wingnuts used to wail about liberals using the court to make changes that the legislative branch would not, and now here they are…. raging against the machine of justice, turning their backs on their own principles, all because they can’t win elections if minorities are allowed to vote.
1 [Sources: 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973b(a)(1), 1973b(f)(1); South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 333-34 (1966);

Question and Answer


Calling all Wingnut ‘Patriots’ - Please Identify All the Freedoms You’ve Lost

Here was a citizen contribution to a local newspaper column recently. It was from a fellow who was “getting a little sick” from comments praising President Barack Obama. Here are his direct quotes: “This man (Obama) seems bent on destroying what little is left of the moral and spiritual foundations upon which our laws have been based. He ends with “christians, you better get active or kiss this nation as you know it goodbye.”
Sounds like arms and ammo to me.
If progressives have one thing in common, it’s a collective confusion about what the hell the wingnut “patriots” are talking about when they bemoan the loss of “moral and spiritual foundations” accompanied by repetitious ramblings of “restoring the constitution” (state nullification efforts apparently notwithstanding). They also decry the loss of all their freedoms and liberty. What exactly can’t these folks do that they so desperately want to do?
No, they can’t aim a flame-thrower at the neighbor’s house or go unpunished for rape (unless it’s a Todd Akin “legitimate rape” of course). I could be wrong since we’re 400,000 rape kits short in this country as a consequence of repugican-bullied funding cuts. Maybe a number of rapists can go unpunished.
You will have to pay some kind of taxes or all services and infrastructure collapse. But those are the only notable exceptions I can think of for the average American in what surely must be the country with more freedom and liberty than any of earth’s other 195 or so nations.
In America, as in Uganda, you’re even free to deny freedoms to others if they’re different from you in any way. The LGBT crowd comes to mind, none of who dare share in the “Freedom and Liberty” patriots hold so dear. One of those two countries are even voting as we speak to put gays to death under certain circumstances. I think it’s Uganda. And don’t even get me started on your black racists core of which I’ve written often. Fear not, patriots, you have the “Freedom and Liberty” to be as racists and homophobes as long as you desire.
As for religious freedom, you can even permanently depart from your mother cult if it dares give any rights to gays. The South Carolina Episcopal cult has told its parent denomination to go eff itself (as Clint would say). Ordaining gay clergy; accepting same-sex marriage! How dare the cult grant true freedom and liberty to homosexuals. I’m outta here!
Not to worry Palmetto Patriots, every evangelical cult in the land will welcome you with open arms (no same-sex hugging, of course). The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence, Bishop of the SC Episcopal Diocese, is the hater behind the split. He is best known for opposing every liberal policy of the national cult. This intolerant homophobic zealot is exactly where he belongs, South Carolina. So hate away. There are no religious restraints, if you’re a christian that is, that come to mind. You can roll around on the floor to your hearts content at the First cult of DC Loathing or cozy up to deadly rattlesnakes on a Sunday Pentecostal service even if you get bit and die. West Virginia Pastor Wolford met that fate last May, just as his preacher father had years earlier.
Speaking of snakes, religion and politics, how ’bout that old rattler on the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag. “Liberals, you best watch yer step; that ole boy is fixin’ to strike.” The flag initially gained popular acclaim in 1775 as the U.S. Navy was off to its first Revolutionary War mission. A Continental Colonel named Christopher Gadsden (a South Carolinian naturally) gifted the flagship’s Captain with the bright yellow flag with its not so subtle message to George lll.
Warning! History lesson on freedom to follow.
In an uncomfortable but true historical footnote, the U.S. Navy was unsuccessful in preventing a British coastal blockade. In fact, it wasn’t until the French came along that the U.S. was able to prevail over the enemy in the Revolutionary War. And remember how much the pseudo-patriot crowd hates the French. Please goobers, read ONE, just One objective history book! Francophobes may want to start with a true account of Yorktown. Does the name de Rochambeau ring a bell, patriots? Didn’t think so. Oh, one more thing. The city of Washington that you hate so much was named after a certain American General who fought side-by-side with the French at Yorktown and went on to become our first President.
So the French were key contributors to our freedoms and liberty. Thus citizens can organize truly goofy political parties named after a popular drink from the Camellia sinensis plant. Any citizen, including dopes with limited dopamine, can run for office, even the highest ones, (see Sarah Palin).
You can get married, though 50% of you eventually flee the first attempt. In addition to churches, states can keep gays from daring to approach the altar through legislation and constitutional amendments. Politicians are free to smother the rich with love and let them destroy unions and fair wages. The repugicans, in particular, can keep the repressed, repressed and humbled by cutting programs for the poor and calling their leader the “Food Stamp” President. Is this a great country or what?
But, as free as we are, there remains enormous right-wing angst about the potential seizure of firearms. Patriotic Websites and blogs inevitably go back to the alleged gun-control eras of Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung and a handful of other genocidal monsters, killers of multiple millions right after taking their guns away. Academic and historical arguments aside, that means patriots lump President Obama in with history’s most repellent barbarians though there’s not even the tiniest hint of gun confiscation in the America.
Here’s this angst put into words at a patriotic blog. “Now, watch as our Constitution is assaulted and the Second Amendment is attacked from all sides. Most of the lib asshole mayors, governors and Senators are bouncing off the walls, right now, calling for more gun control, banning semi-auto rifles and banning guns in general.”
This is followed by a rather frightening follow-up entry. “Do it, go ahead, and you are going to have 100 million gun owners fight your asses. Be it police, FBI, ATF…I don’t give a shit…you try to disarm us and you WILL be fought and fought HARD! And blood WILL be spilled!” (Emphasis from the writer).
This is scary stuff that you’d better take seriously.

Lush Dimbulb Insanely Claims Environmentalists Are Coming to Steal Your Electricity

Lush Dimbulb took his insanity to a new level the other day by claiming that environmentalists are out to take away the freedom to use electricity because they oppose the generation of electric power.
Here is the audio from Media Matters:
Dimbulb said, “Let me tell you why this happened. It’s one very simple reason. The cruise ship lost electricity. If you want to see entire cities experience what happened on that cruise ship, then you stand by idly and let the environmentalist wackos have their way and encroach very gradually on your freedom to use electricity that you pay for. They are opposed to carbon fuels, which means they are opposed to the generation of electricity.”
I am sure there are a lot of environmentalists out there who must be shocked to find out that they are opposed to electricity. In Lush Dimbulb’s tortured fantasy world being in favor of cleaner, more environmentally friendly power is the exact same thing as being opposed to electricity.
What is even more hilarious is Dimbulb’s attempt to paint environmentalists as being out to take away your right to use electricity. Stand up for freedom, turn on all the lights in your house. Hoard all of the electricity that you can because it is only a matter of time until the environmentalists come knocking on your door to tell you, no more electricity for you.
This latest paranoid Dimbulb fantasy is eerily reminiscent of his 2011 warning to his listeners that Michelle Obama was coming to confiscate their furnaces.
You, sophisticated Internet reader, may be asking yourself, “Who could possibly believe that environmentalists don’t want people to have electricity? Environmentalists use electricity too.” The answer to that question can be found in demographics. Dimbulb’s audience is 72% male, 80% wingnut, 75% of them support the NRA, 75% are religo-wingnut christians, and/or tea partiers and 100% are insane lunatics. The average Lush Dimbulb listener is 67 years old. (Dimbulb’s audience is actually two years older than the Faux News audience).
The same people who think Barack Obama is a Marxist, Socialist, Kenyan, Black Satan believe that environmentalists are coming after their “freedom” to use electricity.
Wingnuts listen to Lush Dimbulb tell them that their freedom to use electricity is in jeopardy, yet wonder why they continue to lose elections.
To those of us who aren’t in the wingnut bubble, the answer is obvious.

Anti-Piracy Website Pirates The Pirate Bay

(L) The infamous The Pirate Bay (R) Finnish anti-piracy group CIAPC's website
Grab some popcorn, it's about to get good: To show the torrent site The Pirate Bay that piracy is wrong, Finnish anti-piracy group CIAPC set up a website that pirated The Pirate Bay website's iconic look and feel.
When The Pirate Bay got mad and threatened a lawsuit, millions of irony detectors were set off and the CIAPC reveled in the attention and welcomed the lawsuit as a way to identify the people behind the torrent site:
The Pirate Bay, generally quite supportive of copy-pasting, is not happy with CIAPC’s apparent infringement and plans to take legal steps against the anti-piracy group.
“We are outraged by this behavior. People must understand what is right and wrong. Stealing material like this on the internet is a threat to economies worldwide,” a Pirate Bay spokesman told TorrentFreak.
“We feel that we must make a statement and therefore we will sue them for copyright infringement,” the spokesman adds.
TorrentFreak has the story: Here.

Malware-Industrial Complex: how the trade in software bugs is weaponizing insecurity

Here's a must-read story from Tech Review about the thriving trade in "zero-day exploits" -- critical software bugs that are sold off to military contractors to be integrated into offensive malware, rather than reported to the manufacturer for repair. The stuff built with zero-days -- network appliances that can snoop on a whole country, even supposedly secure conversations; viruses that can hijack the camera and microphone on your phone or laptop; and more -- are the modern equivalent of landmines and cluster bombs: antipersonnel weapons that end up in the hands of criminals, thugs and dictators who use them to figure out whom to arrest, torture, and murder. The US government is encouraging this market by participating actively in it, even as it makes a lot of noise about "cyber-defense."
Exploits for mobile operating systems are particularly valued, says Soghoian, because unlike desktop computers, mobile systems are rarely updated. Apple sends updates to iPhone software a few times a year, meaning that a given flaw could be exploited for a long time. Sometimes the discoverer of a zero-day vulnerability receives a monthly payment as long as a flaw remains undiscovered. “As long as Apple or Microsoft has not fixed it you get paid,” says Soghioan.
No law directly regulates the sale of zero-days in the United States or elsewhere, so some traders pursue it quite openly. A Bangkok, Thailand-based security researcher who goes by the name “the Grugq” has spoken to the press about negotiating deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with government buyers from the United States and western Europe. In a discussion on Twitter last month, in which he was called an “arms dealer,” he tweeted that “exploits are not weapons,” and said that “an exploit is a component of a toolchain … the team that produces & maintains the toolchain is the weapon.”
The Grugq contacted MIT Technology Review to state that he has made no “public statement about exploit sales since the Forbes article.”
Some small companies are similarly up-front about their involvement in the trade. The French security company VUPEN states on its website that it “provides government-grade exploits specifically designed for the Intelligence community and national security agencies to help them achieve their offensive cyber security and lawful intercept missions.” Last year, employees of the company publicly demonstrated a zero-day flaw that compromised Google’s Chrome browser, but they turned down Google’s offer of a $60,000 reward if they would share how it worked. What happened to the exploit is unknown.

Tennessee cops in body armor tell old woman to remove marijuana bumper sticker (was a buckeye leaf)

Police in Tennessee, in a black SUV and in full body armor, pulled over an elderly couple because they had a “suspicious” marijuana-ish (or so the cops claimed) bumper sticker on their car, that in fact was a buckeye leaf – the couple are Ohio State Buckeye fans.  The cops then ordered the couple to remove the bumper sticker.Good grief. I’m not sure what’s the most ridiculous part of this recent episode.
Was it the person who phoned in the dangerous car sticker that slightly resembles a marijuana leaf?  The cops insinuated that it was another cop who called it in.
Or perhaps the idiotic Tennessee cops that pulled over the elderly couple with armor-covered police in black vans simply because they might have had a marijuana leaf sticker on their car?  Although, perhaps the most ridiculous part is the cop, after learning that it’s a buckeye leaf common to Ohio State fans, still ordered the woman to remove the sticker.
Buckeye leaf via shutterstock
Buckeye leaf 
This is just crazy.
It takes a special kind of stupid to think a major drug-running gang trafficking in marijuana would be so stupid as to put marijuana stickers on their car, just so everyone knows they’re doing it.
But then again, Tennesse is the same state where:
  • the lieutenant governor called Islam a cult (OK, technically that is scientifically correct although the scientific meaning was not what the moron intended.)
  • the repugican cabal called for jailing anyone that followed Shariah law
  • the state wanted to let science teachers offer alternatives (i.e. a pack of lies) to teaching about climate change
  • a repugican legislator claimed that AIDS came about “from one guy screwing a monkey”
  • a local gun nut made a video saying he was “gonna start killing people” if President Obama issued any executive orders on guns
  • a school principal told kids ”If you’re gay you’re going to hell”
  • the state tea party said on Barney Frank’s retirement “good riddance you perverted sodomite“
  • a repugican congressman suggested secession from the Union over health care reform (do you promise?)
  • the state legislature and governor bash gays pretty much every chance they get (along with the help of the US Chamber of Commerce)
  • where only 33% of repugican primary voters think President Obama was born in the US.
It’s bad enough that far too many states still spend far too much time focusing on marijuana, but this is too much. Are these people really responsible for maintaining law and order? If only the Tennessee police weren’t serious when they did this.
Two officers approached, one on each side of the car.
“They were very serious,” she said. “They had the body armor and the guns.”….
“What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” he asked her.
She explained that it is actually a Buckeye leaf decal, just like the ones that Ohio State players are given to put on their helmets to mark good plays.
“He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language,” she said.
And to make matters worse, the police who can’t tell the difference between a marijuana leaf and a buckeye leaf, told the elderly woman that she should remove the sticker from her window.  This was AFTER she explained that it was a buckeye leaf.
I love the woman’s comment:
“It’s just amazing they would be that dumb,” Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni said.
It’s not amazing.  It’s Tennessee.

Girl Kicked Out of School for Red(ish) Hair

Sporting hair that looks completely natural to the untrained eye, a ninth grade student was nonetheless sent home from class by the vice principal of Hurricane Middle School in Utah for violating the school’s dress code, which bans “extreme hairstyles and colors.” She was later permitted to return, although she did nothing to change the deep auburn color of her hair.
The report is another addition to these gems from the past few weeks:
If school is supposed to prepare you for the real world, what lessons are we teaching children by acting like this? Clearly, that obeying the letter of the law is far more important than getting an education or (God forbid!) expressing yourself.
By contrast, suspending Brandon Guzda, a high school student from New York who posted an insulting comment about a teacher on Twitter, may seem like overkill—but at least has sound justification.
"I thought I could say what I want on Twitter in the luxury of my own home,” Guzda said.
Sure, you can say it, but you will have to face the consequences. Word travels fast online, and once you say something it’s impossible to unsay it. Employees have lost jobs for venting about their bosses via social media. Better to learn this lesson now than later.
There will always be debate over what constitutes a sufficient punishment for breaking a rule. However, most of these students weren’t doing anything wrong.

Scantily-clad professional stunt driver left path of destruction during DUI rampage

Investigators say a professional stunt driver clad in extremely short white shorts and a cut-off vest left a path of destruction while driving under the influence of alcohol through downtown Orlando, Florida, early on Wednesday morning.

Grady Allen Bishop was questioned by police after his car broke down. Officers said the Winter Springs resident also crashed into several street lights. Bishop, 51, was given a field sobriety test and officials said his blood-alcohol level was over twice the legal limit. Bishop was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Dressed in the same short shorts and vest he was booked into jail before posting $1,300 bond. When asked what happened, Bishop said, “I don't know. I really don't.” No one was inside the three damaged vehicles at the time of the crash. The crash caused about $10,000 in damage.

Video link.

Bishop owns Extreme Stunts, a company that's done extensive work with motion pictures. His impressive movie resume includes "Fast and The Furious" and work for Disney's “Lights, Motors, Action.” Bishop’s colleagues said: “Mr. Bishop is highly respected and admired as one of the best stunt drivers in the industry."

The World's Wealthiest Royal Families

Ever wonder what royal life is like? Unlike entrepreneurs, these are individuals who owe their wealth to circumstances of birth and the privileges of their position, not to actual talent or effort. Nevertheless, many of them command resources that cannot be ignored.

The world of the royal elite is beyond comprehension for most. Here's a look at the palaces and wealth of the world's richest royal families.

Ten Of The World's Greatest Hotels Inspired By Literature

Book nerds need someplace cool to stay as much as art nerds do.
Check out ten literary hotels where you can spend the night with a book.

Ten Famous Tree Tunnels

A tree tunnel is a road, lane or track where the trees on each side form a more or less continuous canopy overhead, giving the effect of a tunnel. The effect may be achieved in a formal avenue lined with trees or in a more rural setting with randomly placed trees on each side of the route. It can create a beautiful setting

How The Egyptian Pyramids Were Built

A New Theory In 3D Animation
Jean-Pierre Houdin spent a couple of decades working as an independent architect around Paris. Then, his career took a big turn. Working with his father, Houdin tried to crack an ancient mystery - how were the great pyramids of Egypt built? Throughout the centuries, various theories have been put forth.

Herodotus speculated that some 'machines' were involved. Others thought that mounds serving as ramps played a central role in the construction. And still others have guessed that extraterrestrials were the real builders. Now, using state-of-the-art 3-D software, Houdin has concluded that the bottom portion of the pyramids were built with an external ramp, and the upper portions with internal ramps.

Random Photo

Meteorite Hits Russian Urals:

Fireball Explosion Wreaks Havoc

Around 700 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky in central Russia Friday morning sending fireballs crashing to Earth, smashing windows and setting off car alarms. Residents on their way to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave.

The meteorite raced across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phones worked only intermittently. Chelyabinsk city authorities said people sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass.

YouTube link

You can see videos of the impact and the damage here.

'It was no meteor, it was U.S. weapons'

In a Cold War throw back, a member of the Russian government said the Urals crash was American weapons testing
Russian politician: It was no meteor, it was U.S. weapons
While the crash of a meteor in Russia has left American Congress members concerned enough to call a House Science committee hearing on asteroids, some in Russia are keeping concerns terrestrial.
According to the Washington Post, citing Moscow-sponsored outlet Voice of Russia, controversial parliament member Vladimir Zhirinovsky “has blamed Americans for today’s meteorite scare.” Reportedly, Zhirinovsky told reporters, “Those were not meteorites; it was Americans testing their new weapons.”
WaPo notes that “Zhirinovsky is known for his nationalist, anti-Western, sometimes outlandish rhetoric” and has been called a “political clown” by German newspaper Der Spiegel.
Although outlandish and not widely shared in the Kremlin, Zhirinovsky’s meteor comments come at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia. The Economist noted Friday that “to Kremlin ideologists, the very concept of Russia’s sovereignty depends on being free of America’s influence.” The Economist notes a series of antagonist measures Russia and America recently introduced against the other:
The Kremlin has banned American couples from adopting Russian orphans, depriving many children with severe disabilities of the chance of a decent life. This was Russia’s first response to America’s Magnitsky act…[which] threatens sanctions against Russian officials directly involved in human-rights abuses. Russia’s second response was a law introduced by Mr Putin prohibiting Russian officials or their immediate family members from holding foreign bank accounts or foreign assets, because such things pose a threat to national security.

The Surface Of The Sun As You've Never Seen It

This extraordinary video looks back on the 3rd year of operation of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The observatory has continued to return breathtaking pictures and movies of eruptive events on the sun. By highlighting different wavelengths of light, scientists can track how material on the sun moves. Such movement, in turn, holds clues as to what causes these giant explosions.

YouTube link

Most Impressive Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Coral reefs cover less than one per cent of the world's oceans but support incredible biodiversity. Check out some of the most impressive coral reefs.

Rare albino wallaby born at zoo

A rare albino wallaby has been born at a zoo in Cambridgeshire. The bald joey, with pink eyes, was spotted by a member of the public after emerging from its mother's pouch at Linton Zoo, near Saffron Walden.

The zoo believes the albino red-necked wallaby, which will grow white fur, is a descendant of one given to the Queen. Zoo director Kim Simmons said staff initially got "a bit of a shock", but the joey was now being well looked after by its parents Kylie and Jason.

"It's been in the pouch for a little while now and we've been able to see it wriggling around, but when it popped its head out for the first time we got a bit of a shock - we didn't really expect it to be an albino," said Ms Simmons.

YouTube link.

"[Our wallabies] are probably descended from albinos that were donated to the Queen on a state visit to Australia in 1962. On the very odd occasion an albino will be born and we've got that very odd occasion."

Freaky cute frog is angry

This here is a Namaqua Rain Frog (Breviceps namaquensis) in Port Nolloth on the northwestern coast of South Africa.

Animal Pictures


Lynx (by Naturfotografie - Stefan Betz)