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The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental to Replace Air Force One

Posted on January 30th, 2015 at 15:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


The United States Air Force (USAF) announced the long-awaited decision of what aircraft will serve as the replacement for the presidential transport, known as Air Force One (when the President is on-board). The choice has taken longer than most expected and the answer seemed quite obvious.

The USAF announced that the Boeing 747-8 will be the sole choice as the base aircraft for replacement of the current aircraft, the VC-25A (a modified 747-200).


The aircraft is still years away from being fully designed and certified; it doesn’t even have a USAF designation yet (like VC-25A, for it’s predecessor). The aircraft will be heavily modified to fulfill the requirements of not only the Air Force but also the U.S. Secret Service.

So an open bar and in-flight brothel?

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  1. “What’s that noise?”
    “That’s just the Secret Service in the cargo hold doing shots, Madame President.”

Stephen Fry on God | The Meaning Of Life

Posted on January 30th, 2015 at 13:55 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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  1. What’s the difference between Stephen Fry and god?

  2. I love the look on the interviewer’s face.

2 Fast 2 Fuherious

Posted on January 30th, 2015 at 12:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. That’s some swa-sticker! So loser chic!

  2. gotta be photoshop, right? Bad taste aside, what sort of wanker would do this and not expect his car to get trashed.. and in Poland no less! Gotta admit, I like the color scheme tho. Kriegsmarine war ensign, 1935-45.

  3. @Sue that pun made me groan.. :)

Gunman who stormed Dutch broadcaster claimed to be hacker

Posted on January 29th, 2015 at 22:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


A gunman who stormed into the headquarters of Dutch national broadcaster NOS demanding airtime Thursday night claimed to be from a “hackers’ collective,” according to a reporter who spoke to the man.

NOS was off-air for around an hour. When it came back, it showed recorded footage of the young man, wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie, and carrying a pistol.

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  1. Video from the point of view of the cops is here

  2. And the gun turned out to be fake. Here’s a rough translation

    Man with gun: I think it’s nice ehhh… I think it’s nice that you’re staying cool.

    Man off screen: I’m just as nervous as you are, man to man. But I have home… I want, I really want to go home.

    MG: Yeah, I understand sir.
    MOS**: So, I’m not going to hinder you…

    MG: I understand.

    MOS: …with the risk off… yeah?

    MG: Yes.

    MOS: Okay, and I’m glad that you also want me to get home tonight. [stammering] We must make sure that… Yeah… This has been done for a reason.

    MG: Of course, yes. I hope that you… Would you sit over there? When I have to start. I promise that nothing will happen to you. You see, if I’m here on my own… They’re probably outside already. [some stammering] The things that will be said eh… are big world affairs. We are hired by intelligence agencies and through those we have found out that question the current society. And we are going to bring those out now. So that’s why I said, we’re not such evil people. Because we also do this for the regular citizen. But, that’s why it’s possible that people above are standing outside, saying ‘finish him, nobody can hear this’. And if I’m sitting here alone, than the it is likely that they’ll think that they just rush in and shoot him. [asks MOS something I didn’t get, too unclear].

    MOS: Yes. I think the stage manager… I just hope that, even if I sit over there…

    MG: I promise… We can shake hands on it.

    MOS: You know, that you don’t take me with you in the process.

    MG: No, no, most certainly not. But I want… I’d like you to stay here, because the chances of them undertaking action are smaller.

    MOS: In such a way.

    MG: Yes. [stammering] When my speech is done I’ll let you go and…

    MOS: Yeah, okay, but when your speech is done, you’ll go outside with me, I think?

    MG: Nah, I’ll let you… I’ll let myself get arrested here or something.

    MOS: Yes, yes, okay, but…

    MG: Then I’ll let you go outside, you can just go outside then. But, I think this is taking too long.
    MOS [to somebody else]: Can you hear me? [to MG] You do have a live mic.

    MG: Yeah, but is there no contact eh… [silence] I think this is taking too long.

    MOS [to somebody else]: Yeah, eh… Somebody, direction? Well, you heard it, just like me, that the microphone works.

    MG: Yeah, the microphone works, but I have to know if we’re live on television. And I’m not getting anything from eh… [sighs]

    MOS: But, [stammering], you can only hear them?

    MG: Yes.

    MOS: They can’t hear you?

    MG: Yes.

    MOS: You understand? Because you’re standing here right now, with the microphone.

    MG: Yeah.

    MOS: And a camera and it’s red. And if you see yourself on the screen, that’s also the screen that goes out.

    MG: Yeah, but how do I know if this is seen on television?

    MOS: Yes, exactly. You have to get that from one of those people, they can see that.

    MG: Yeah, but I just heard something like ‘microphone works’? Oh, there is the police already. They’re going to…

    MOS: I truly hope. May I go outside?

    MG: Soon, okay? When the speech is done. [silence] [quietly] Stay. [louder] What are you going to do?

    [police talks on the background and come in]

    Police: Police, drop your weapon!

    [MG drops weapon]

    P: Drop it! Drop it!

    MG: I drop it, I’ve dropped it already.


    [lots of policemen shouting, they come in]

    P: Rest. On your stomach. Spread your legs. Spread your legs!

    P: Any suspicious movements and there will be shots fired, understood!?

    MG: Yeah…

    P: Contact control room, situation stable.

Jackie Chan – How to Do Action Comedy

Posted on January 29th, 2015 at 9:39 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. I’ve always loved Chan’s movies, especially the classic “Drunken Master”. Brilliant! :-)

Ending Greece’s Nightmare

Posted on January 26th, 2015 at 22:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.

You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.

What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.

What went wrong? I fairly often encounter assertions to the effect that Greece didn’t carry through on its promises, that it failed to deliver the promised spending cuts. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Greece imposed savage cuts in public services, wages of government workers and social benefits. Thanks to repeated further waves of austerity, public spending was cut much more than the original program envisaged, and it’s currently about 20 percent lower than it was in 2010.

Yet Greek debt troubles are if anything worse than before the program started. One reason is that the economic plunge has reduced revenues: The Greek government is collecting a substantially higher share of G.D.P. in taxes than it used to, but G.D.P. has fallen so quickly that the overall tax take is down. Furthermore, the plunge in G.D.P. has caused a key fiscal indicator, the ratio of debt to G.D.P., to keep rising even though debt growth has slowed and Greece received some modest debt relief in 2012.

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Syriza’s victory: this is what the politics of hope looks like

Posted on January 26th, 2015 at 22:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


Syriza’s victory is the biggest challenge to the era of “There Is No Alternative” yet. Syriza are presented as “far left”, while those they replace are presumably “moderates”. It is a fascinating insight into what the western media regard as moderation: plunging over half of young people into unemployment, almost doubling child poverty, stripping away basic social protections. The politics of despair peddled by elites mean you are supposed to regard such injustices as inevitable, irresistible, impossible to overcome. But the re-emergence of the left as a political force – at least offering the possibility of a different sort of society – represents a substantial punch in the face to an economic order that has prevailed for a generation.

No wonder so many leftists – from Britain, Spain, France, Italy, and all over Europe – travelled to Athens for this moment. For many of them, neoliberalist triumphalism is all they have ever known. The stripping away of hard-won social rights and the ever-growing dominance of the market are things they have almost taken for granted. Some looked rather dazed as the victorious Alexis Tsipras took to the stage, because they have grown accustomed to losing.

Syriza is not about to build a new socialist society. It has assembled a coalition with a rightwing party; it faces the determined opposition of EU leaders and powerful interests within Greece itself. It will be battered by the markets, and will compromise in a way that will undoubtedly alienate many of its own supporters, both in Greece and abroad.

Nonetheless, a left that was no longer supposed to exist has returned. Neoliberalism is no longer without formidable enemies. In Spain, Podemos – which has closely aligned itself to Syriza – is surging in the polls, and similar forces may gain traction in other European countries too. Neoliberal hegemony is – gradually and unevenly – being chipped away. It is still hard to see a world free of it. But it is no longer impossible.

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  1. I find it hard to believe that an election outcome will suddenly change Merkel and the troika’s minds. “Ohhh, you voted more leftwing, oh! well, in that case, let us help you out with more debt relief,” said no central banker, ever, right? So it seems hard to see how Syriza is going to have much success unless they make a credible threat of exiting the Euro, which might be seen as undesirable enough to Do Something™.

UK should consider ban on Mein Kampf, says Scottish Labour MP

Posted on January 26th, 2015 at 22:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


Scottish Labour MP Thomas Docherty is calling for a national debate on whether the sale of Adolf Hitler’s “repulsive” manifesto Mein Kampf should be prohibited in the UK.

Docherty has written to culture secretary Sajid Javid about the text, pointing out that it is currently “rated as an Amazon bestseller” and asking the cabinet member to consider leading a debate on the issue. An edition of Mein Kampf is currently in fifth place on Amazon’s “history of Germany” chart, in fourth place in its “history references” chart, and in 665th place overall.

“Of course Amazon – and indeed any other bookseller – is doing nothing wrong in selling the book. However, I think that there is a compelling case for a national debate on whether there should be limits on the freedom of expression,” writes Docherty to Javid.

Ok, here’s a debate point. Mein Kampf is horrible and was written by the most horrible person. It would be nice if this horrible person and the horror that they created weren’t just swept under the rug and forgotten about. Such would be a disservice to the people who were victims of that tragedy. Sometimes it’s important to not let hurtful things be forgotten, and risk having them happen again. It’s not pro-Nazi propaganda anymore; it’s Exhibit A in the case of Everybody v. Hitler.

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  1. While we’re banning books, why don’t we ban the Bible, the Koran, anything by L. Ron Hubbard, etc.

    There’s a compelling case indeed.

This needs to spread!

Posted on January 26th, 2015 at 21:08 by John Sinteur in category: News

Je suis Nutella!

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I Am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist

Posted on January 25th, 2015 at 23:40 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Excuse me while I die laughing!

Senator Wants DUI Charges Dismissed Citing that Lawmakers are “Privileged from Arrest”

Posted on January 25th, 2015 at 10:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


Frankfort, KY — A Kentucky state senator is having no reservations about proclaiming his political privilege. In fact, he’s simply citing a section of the Kentucky constitution that claims politicians are in fact, above the law.

Sen. Brandon Smith (R) was charged with driving under the influence and wants the case dismissed citing that lawmakers are “privileged from arrest.”

His attempt to circumvent the hand of justice have thus far proven to be successful too. On Wednesday a judge delayed Smith’s arraignment after his attorney filed this request.

“(Smith) has raised a serious constitutional issue regarding his immunity in this case,” attorney Bill Johnson wrote.

Smith and his attorney are citing a century-old rule, Section 43 of the Kentucky Constitution, which is still on the books and states:

“The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place.”

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  1. “Breach of the peace” is a lovely old catch-all phwase that includes dwunk dwiving, shurely?

    Happy Birthday to the Immortal Bard! I shall toast you in Dr. Bell’s Strong Wine for being a slippery customer, Senator!

  2. Slainte, Sue.

    “…to see ourselves as others see us”, indeed.

Davos: Mark Carney calls for tech sector to show ‘responsibility’ over tax

Posted on January 24th, 2015 at 21:14 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, challenged the world’s big technology companies to pay more tax as he stressed the perils of growing inequality at the World Economic Forum, in Davos.

Carney said IT companies needed to show a greater sense of responsibility. “Some of the firms that take advantage of international tax rules are the tech companies,” he said. “The amount of tax they pay is small in relation to the system. A sense of responsibility is needed.”

I don’t think they’re going to volunteer to save our economies, Mark. We all know the rich live in a different country.

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Grexit: An Escape to More of the Same

Posted on January 24th, 2015 at 20:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


The optimists, say someone like Hans-Werner Sinn, advise the Greeks to leave the euro and adopt a new currency. The value of this new drachma would immediately collapse. As long as prices in Greece are somewhat sticky, Greek goods & services will become incredibly competitive on world markets, spawning an export/tourism-led recovery. By staying on the euro, however, Greece forfeits the exchange rate route to recovery. Instead, Greece’s competitiveness can only be restored via a painful internal devaluation as wages and prices adjust downwards.

While the optimists tell a good story, they blithely assume a smooth switch from the euro to the drachma. Let’s run through the many difficult steps involved in de-euroization on the way to an independent monetary policy. All euro bank deposits held at Greek banks must be forcibly converted into drachma deposits, and speedily enough that a bank run is preempted as Greeks desperately try to evade the corral by moving euros to Germany. At the same time, the Bank of Greece, the nation’s central bank, needs to issue new drachma bank notes, the public being induced to use these drachmas as a medium of exchange.

Now even if Greece somehow pulls these two stunts off (I’m not convinced that it can), it still hasn’t guaranteed itself an independent monetary policy. To do so, the drachma ₯ must also be adopted as the unit of account by the Greek public. Not only must financial markets like the Athens Stock Exchange begin to publish stock prices in drachmas, but supermarkets must be cajoled into expressing drachma sticker prices, employees and employers need to set labour contracts in terms of drachmas, and car dealership & real estate prices need to undergo drachma-fication.

Consider what happens if the euro remains the economy’s preferred accounting unit, even as Greek drachmas begin to circulate as a medium of exchange. No matter how low the drachma exchange rate goes, there can be no drachma-induced improvement in competitiveness. After all, if olive oil producers accept payment in drachmas but continue to price their goods in euros, then a lower drachma will have no effect on Greek olive oil prices, the competitiveness of Greek oil vis-à-vis , say, Turkish oil, remaining unchanged. If a Greek computer programmer continues to price their services in euros, the number of drachmas required to hire him or her will have skyrocketed, but the programmer’s euro price will have remained on par with a Finnish programmer’s wage.

As long as a significant portion of Greek prices are expressed in euros, Greece’s monetary policy will continue to be decided in Frankfurt, not Athens. Should the ECB decides to tighten by lowering interest rates, then Greek prices will endure a painful internal deflation, despite the fact that it has formally exited the Euro and floated a new drachma.

We know that a unit of account switch (not to mention successful introduction of drachma banknotes) will be hard for Greece to pull off by looking at dollarized countries in Latin America. To cope with high inflation in the 1960s and 70s, the Latin American public informally adopted the U.S. dollar as an alternative store of value, medium of exchange, and unit of account. Even after these nations’ central banks had succeeded in stabilizing their own currencies, however, dollarization proved oddly persistent. This is referred to as hysteresis in the economics literature. Economists studying dollarization suggest that network externalities are the main reason for hysteresis. When a large number of people have adopted a certain standard there are significant costs involved in switching over to a competing standard. The presence of strong memories of past inflation may also explain dollar persistence.

In trying to de-euroize, Greece would find itself in the exact same shoes as Latin American countries trying to de-dollarize. Greeks have been using the euro for 15 years now to price goods; how likely are they to rapidly switch to drachmas, especially in light of the terrible performance of the drachma relative to other currencies through most of its history? Those few Latin American countries that have successfully overcome hysteresis required years, not weeks. If Greece leaves the euro now, it could take decades for it to gain its own monetary policy.

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  1. The informal economy in Russia works like this. Huge numbers of unrecorded transactions carried out in Euros or U.S. dollars – it’s gangster state arguably doesn’t really have a monetary policy.

The real agenda for the forced-birth March for Life crowd in one creepy tweet

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 at 19:57 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


Those tramps. Those harlots. The trollops. Those long lean thighs….

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  1. Yoga pants! It’s like two hardboiled eggs in a bag, I tell ya!

King Abdullah embodied the wickedness of Saudi Arabia’s regime

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 at 16:40 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


It is a final touch of absurdity in a kingdom that is wicked in itself, and a source of wickedness and corruption elsewhere in the world. Saudi Arabia practices torture and arbitrary judicial murder. Women are beheaded in the street, liberal thought is punishable by flogging, which can be a death sentence even more horrific, because it is more prolonged than having your head hacked off with a sword. It is a raft of fear and hatred lashed together, floating on unimaginable amounts of money, at least for the lucky few. Among the poor, not all of whom are slaves or foreigners, there is tufshan, a special word defined by an anthropologist as “subtle and incapacitating torpor”.

Saudi’s influence on the outside world is almost wholly malign. The young men it sent to fight in Afghanistan turned into al-Qaida. The Sunni jihadis whom Saudis have funded in Iraq and Syria turned into Isis. It has spread a poisonous form ofIslam throughout Europe with its subsidies, and corrupted western politicians and businessmen with its culture of bribery. The Saudis have always appealed to the worst forms of western imperialism: their contempt for other Muslims is as great as any American nationalist’s.

So that’s the good news, then!

The bad news?

Secretary of State John Kerry said, “The United States has lost a friend, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and the world has lost a revered leader.” He called King Abdullah “a man of wisdom and vision.”


And the British are lowering their flags to half mast in mourning.

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  1. I always wondered if we should have just let Saddam keep going in 1990. In fact, most of our wars since WWII accomplished nothing of value. They have just made things worse.

  2. @chas: Was this an option? I don’t really remember being asked.

    I do remember a lot of obvious media manipulation about most of these wars, though. Perhaps that counts.

Sheriff’s office rug with ‘In Dog We Trust’ typo sells for nearly $10,000

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 at 23:38 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


A Florida sheriff’s office has turned a $500 mistake into a $9,650 windfall for charity.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office ordered a new rug, which turned up last week with a typo. The large green rug with the black and yellow Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office logo included the phrase “In Dog We Trust” within one of its crests.

It was supposed to read “In God We Trust.”

The Sheriff’s Office said rug manufacturer, American Floor Mats, would replace it

That could have been the end of the story except Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had an idea.

He decided to auction off the unique item — the “doggone rug,” as he called it — and donate the proceeds to a local rescue.

“The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will not sweep anything under the rug,” the department said when it put up the item.

Jane Sidwell is the founder of Canine Estates Inc. She figured her shelter would net a few hundred bucks from the sale.

“I knew that the sheriff’s office paid $500 for it,” she told CNN affiliate Bay News 9 . “So I thought well, that’s great. We’ll get $500. But we had no idea it would escalate into what it has.”

Eighty three bids later, the rug was sold — for a whopping $9,650!

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ISIS Suffers Heaviest Defeat in Iraq in a Single Day

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 at 23:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


Over the last 24 hours, ISIS has been defeated in every front in Iraq in unprecedented way. From Mosul to the north to Anbar to the west and Diyala to the east, Iraqi government forces, Shiite militias, Sunni tribes and Kurdish forces were all victorious in battle.

Since the start of the U.S.-led air campaign, ISIS has lost its momentum in Iraq and lost some of the cities and towns that it captured in June 2014. It still controls the provincial capitals Mosul and Tikrit as well as the city of Fallujah west of Baghdad, and many other small towns throughout.

Want to really stop ISIS?

Kill the Saudi government. As well as Qatar, and a few other oil states. Once the money dries up the problem solves itself.

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  1. Well the Saudi King has finally croaked. So that’s a start then?

  2. So you’re saying the US should invade Saudi Arabia and bring some regime change along? :-p

Police union to state lawmakers: Don’t mess with warrants

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 at 23:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


Carrie Mills is a retired Atlanta Police officer with 30 years on the job – primarily in APD’s drug unit.

Mills is now a union rep for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. She considers herself an expert on search warrants, particularly no knock warrants, which allows officers to enter a structure without knocking first.

Mills says no-knock warrants helped close a lot of cases while she was an officer.

“If we knock and announced, all evidence is going to be destroyed,” Mills said.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, (D-39), has announced plans to introduce a bill that would make it harder to get no-knock warrants.

Fort says he was moved to introduce his bill after 19-month-old Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh was seriously injured when a flash grenade exploded near his face during a botched drug raid involving a no-knock warrant in Habersham County.

“We are saying there should be restrictions on them and we think the situation in the recent past where they have been abused warrants that,” Fort said.

But Mills doesn’t agree.

“I don’t think any changes are needed because it is not easy now,” Mills said.

Mills says law makers should be careful what they ask for.

“You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community’s right to live in a crime-free environment. You can’t have them both,” Mills said.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

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Net Neutrality: No on Reclassification, Yes on Adding Content & App Providers

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 at 18:49 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane


Here is BlackBerry’s perspective on the important issues raised by the various proposals under discussion.


Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system.

In other words, you want a law that forces me, a developer, to port anything I write to your crappy platform as well?


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  1. Why stop there, John? Do you think there might be a market for your apps on a Nintendo DS or a PS Vita? I’ve got an old Commodore VIC-20 that needs some new apps too.

  2. Finally, mobile apps for my PDP/8.

America’s best-selling cars and trucks are built on lies: The rise of fake engine noise

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 at 15:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you’ll hear a meaty, throaty rumble — the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades.

It’s a sham. The engine growl in some of America’s best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. And it’s driving car enthusiasts insane.

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  1. > “Mustang EcoBoost”

    *head kersplode*

The Zone Rangers

Posted on January 21st, 2015 at 19:04 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane

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  1. Brilliant!

  2. “This video is unavailable from your location”

    Damn Zone Rangers preventing me from watching shows in other regions.

Iraq War report ‘delayed until after UK election’

Posted on January 21st, 2015 at 18:27 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


The official inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War will not publish its long-awaited report before the general election…

The inquiry began its work in 2009 and held its last public hearing in 2011.

Blimey! Who’d have thought it would take so long to type “Tony Bliar dunnit” a couple of dozen times?

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Feds operated yet another secret metadata database until 2013

Posted on January 21st, 2015 at 13:18 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?, Privacy


In a new court filing, the Department of Justice revealed that it kept a secret database of telephone metadata—with one party in the United States and another abroad—that ended in 2013.

The three-page partially-redacted affidavit from a top Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official, which was filed Thursday, explained that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use “administrative subpoenas” to obtain business records and other “tangible things.” The affidavit does not specify which countries records were included, but specifically does mention Iran.

This database program appears to be wholly separate from the National Security Agency’s metadata program revealed by Edward Snowden, but it targets similar materials and is collected by a different agency. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported Friday that this newly-revealed program began in the 1990s and was shut down in August 2013.

The criminal case involves an Iranian-American man named Shantia Hassanshahi, who is accused of violating the American trade embargo against Iran. His lawyer, Mir Saied Kashani, told Ars that the government has clearly abused its authority.

“They’ve converted this from a war on drugs to a war on privacy,” he said.

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Alabama “Lawyers for Fetuses” Law (HB 494)

Posted on January 20th, 2015 at 20:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


A minor who does not or cannot obtain parental consent can petition the court for judicial waiver which will allow the minor to bypass the parental consent requirements. The minor must provide evidence that that she has been informed and understands the abortion procedure and its consequences. She also must provide evidence that she has been counseled about alternatives to abortion and that she is mature enough to make informed decisions.

The court must notify the district attorney that the minor has petitioned for a consent waiver and that the district attorney may participate in the proceedings as an advocate for the state, and may examine and question the minor in order to help the court make its decision as to whether to provide a waiver.

The law also states that the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the interests of the “unborn child.” The guardian ad litem shall assist the court in deciding whether or not to provide a waiver to the minor. In other words, the court can appoint a lawyer for the fetus, and may call witnesses to testify against the minor to help the court decide whether or not to grant the waiver.

The court is not permitted to make the parent or legal guardian aware of the judicial by-pass proceedings, but if the parent or legal guardian is made aware by some other means, they are entitled to notice of the proceedings and have a right to participate in the proceedings and to be represented by counsel.

A teenager has to prove that she’s mature enough to make an informed decision about her body and the responsibilities that come with it. And if she fails to prove that she’s mature enough, that she’s incompetent and incapable of making sound decisions…she now has a baby to raise. Yes. That makes sense.

The really, especially cruel, kicker is that the appointed guardian ad litem has APPEAL RIGHTS even in the unlikely event that access to an abortion is granted. Since Alabama ALSO has a strict 20-week abortion ban in place, how many of those appeals do you think will get resolved within the few week period from when the accused first becomes aware of her pregnancy (typically at least 6-8 weeks in) and the 20 week trigger?

That’s exactly the point.

Any attorney that accepts the role of guardian ad litem for a fetus should be disbarred on ethical grounds.

But… if the fetus is a legal individual, you get a gynecologist and a sheriff’s marshal to serve trespassing papers on it, and then evict it. See, the law works!

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Ann Jones, Answering for America

Posted on January 20th, 2015 at 19:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


Europeans understand, as it seems Americans do not, the intimate connection between a country’s domestic and foreign policies. They often trace America’s reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They’ve watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace its decaying infrastructure, disempower most of its organized labor, diminish its schools, bring its national legislature to a standstill, and create the greatest degree of economic and social inequality in almost a century. They understand why Americans, who have ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, are becoming more anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a government that has done so little new for them over the past three decades or more, except for Obama’s endlessly embattled health care effort, which seems to most Europeans a pathetically modest proposal.

What baffles so many of them, though, is how ordinary Americans in startling numbers have been persuaded to dislike “big government” and yet support its new representatives, bought and paid for by the rich. How to explain that?

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  1. The art of success in politics is to scare as many voters as possible into voting against their own best interests.

  2. John, I’m a firm believer in Democracy, but I don’t think the average voter has the intelligence to vote anymore. They get too much input for most of them to logically process.

Instead of Criminalizing Homelessness, Utah Is Doing the Opposite — And It’s Working

Posted on January 20th, 2015 at 13:25 by John Sinteur in category: News


A simple solution to a vexing problem: In 2005, Utah’s leaders asked themselves what all chronically homeless people have most in common, and found a strikingly obvious answer: the lack of a home. Their remedy was astoundingly simple: give homes to people without them.

“It’s just so rational,” Kerry Bate, the director of Salt Lake County’s housing authority, told Mic. “We really should’ve figured it out a long time ago, but we had some mental blocks in the way.”

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  1. Looking forward to when it says this instead:
    A simple solution to a vexing problem: In 2015, Utah’s leaders asked themselves what all chronically jobless people have most in common, and found a strikingly obvious answer: the lack of a job. Their remedy was astoundingly simple: give jobs to people without them.

    “It’s just so rational,” Kerry Bate, the director of Salt Lake County’s employment authority, told Mic. “We really should’ve figured it out a long time ago, but we had some mental blocks in the way.”

‘Corporate wolves’ will exploit TTIP trade deal, MPs warned

Posted on January 20th, 2015 at 0:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


The controversial TTIP trade deal between Europe and the US could depress workers’ wages by £3,000 a year and allow “corporate wolves” to sue the government for loss of profit, MPs have heard.

The claims were made in a highly-charged House of Commons debate, with many Conservative MPs defending the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership free trade deal and opposition MPs warning that it risks giving too much power to big US corporations.

Anti-TTIP campaigners claim one million people have signed a petition against the deal, mainly because of worries that it could open the door to US health companies running parts of the NHS. This has been firmly denied by the UK government and the European commission, who have said public services are explicitly excluded.

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

— Otto von Bismarck

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  1. Oh cmon, Airstrip One! Get with the program!

AMIA Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman found dead in his Puerto Madero home

Posted on January 19th, 2015 at 22:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


Nisman, who was expected to take part in a closed-door hearing in Congress today to reveal the details of explosive allegations that involved President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, was found minutes before midnight.

The prosecutor reportedly committed suicide, according to sources, who say he was found in a pool of blood. That information has yet to be confirmed.

How… convenient.

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  1. and he shot himself with a .22 If I was going to kill myself, with a handgun (there are cheaper less messy ways), I would want to make sure I was dead and NOT use a .22

    I’ll bet someone is blaming the Zionists as I type.

  2. Well, this isn’t suspicious at all…
    It’s just like the time they found that mafia informant who had shot himself with a 6-shot revolver. 18 shots to the back of the head with 2 pauses to reload – worse case of suicide anyone’s ever seen…

GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top international media

Posted on January 19th, 2015 at 22:47 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?


GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the US and UK’s largest media organisations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Emails from the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC and the Washington Post were saved by GCHQ and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise by the signals intelligence agency.

The disclosure comes as the British government faces intense pressure to protect the confidential communications of reporters, MPs and lawyers from snooping.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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  1. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? People like Snowden? He is my hero this year!

  2. As are the reporters and news organizations supporting his leaks. There should be a Nobel Prize for being Custodians of the Public Interest!

The Guardian view on the freedom of the internet: it’s under attack around the world

Posted on January 19th, 2015 at 20:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


When the power of the internet first became apparent, the obvious resort of government was simply to ban or block access to sources of information that political leadership found displeasing. But, as a recently released report from the Washington-based thinktank Freedom House points out, there is now a growing tendency to use more sophisticated methods. A recent study in Science magazine showed how the Chinese censorship regime lets through any amount of criticism of the party or its officials but clamps down hard on anything that might inspire political action. And here in Britain, a woman has just been jailed for five years for inciting terrorism in Syria on Facebook.

Other countries are just as authoritarian but less subtle about it. Out of 65 countries assessed by Freedom House, 36 have seen a deterioration of online freedom. The worst examples are in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, where media users and online journalists were targeted by the Yanukovych regime during the Euromaidan protest. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called Twitter “the worst menace to society”, and Vladimir Putin has called the internet a “CIA operation”. In May his government passed a so-called bloggers law that requires any site drawing more than 3,000 daily viewers to register with the telecommunications regulator – an approach intended to inhibit independent reporting of the Putin regime. There is now a frightening number of Russian laws repressing free speech online, which authorities often describe as “extremism”.

It is especially worrying that repressive techniques are being mimicked from one country to the next. The Snowden revelations led to a healthy debate on how a democratic country, the United States, as well as some of its allies, carries out massive online surveillance. But repressive regimes have seized upon this to introduce more online repression that increasingly leads to detentions. Surveillance, in these countries, is now used not just to collect huge amounts of data but to punish dissent and lock people up. The revelations of NSA activity, says Freedom House, have served “as an excuse” for some governments to “augment their own monitoring capabilities”.

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