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Friday, March 29, 2013

Frankenstein’s Cat: How animal biotechnology informs us about our humanity

More bullshit courtesy the biotech cheerleaders called the Genetic "Literacy" Project.
Jon Entine
The Genetic Literacy Project
March 18, 2013

Is transhumanism—the possibility of enhancing human intellectual, physical and psychological capacities through biotechnology —a brave new world that we should welcome with open arms? Is it, as science writer Ron Bailey has contended, a “movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity”? Or is it one of the ‘world’s most dangerous ideas’, as conservatives such as Francis Fukuyama or über liberal organizations like the Council for Responsible Genetics and the Center for Genetics and Society  would have it?

Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is the metaphor for transhumanism gone bad. The children’s book writer Curtis Jobling toyed with the theme in his 2001 children’s book, Frankenstein’s Cat, in which he imagined a kind of prequel to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece: the mad scientist’s first creation, a cat he named Nine—not because cats have “nine lives,” but because that’s how many cats it took to make him.

Now science writer Emily Anthes has moved from fiction to fact [Fact... oh, really?] with the publication of Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts. It’s an animated review of the many ways in which biotechnologists have altered some of the non-human cohabitants of our planet. But it’s far more than just a fascinating read about animal manipulation. As it touches the third rail of “manipulating Nature,” which seems to irritate non-religious liberals as much as evangelicals, its implications go far beyond controversies associated with animal biotechnology to the ethics of “positive eugenics” in humans.

Anthes’s Frankenstein’s Cat colorfully explores all the fascinating and in some cases gruesome ways humans are reshaping the animal kingdom. She discusses how genetic engineering could help rescue endangered species from extinction or create new animals—from sensor-wearing seals, cyborg beetles, a bionic bulldog and (get this, Mary Shelley) the world’s first cloned cat.

The modifications are linked to the possibility of doing genuine good for the world. Citing just one of her many examples, scientists at Cambridge University and Scotland’s Roslin Institute—the facility that created Dolly, the cloned sheep, in 1996—have developed chickens that can’t spread avian flu to others in their flock, opening up the possibility of developing flu resistant animals. “Given how hard it is to develop vaccines to combat the rapidly evolving flu virus, this genetic modification could end up saving the lives of many birds, and perhaps humans,” she writes.

The raging debate over the ethics of animal enhancement or transanimalism foreshadows the emerging public discussion over manipulating humans. It’s understandable if these new technologies stir concern. The idea of humanity entering into an advanced state of biological existence while leaving behind the rest of nature can be disconcerting, Anthes suggests. But she thoughtfully pleas for reasoned contemplation and discussion rather than knee jerk reactions.

“Humans are a force of nature—we are, in some senses, the force of nature—and we influence animals whether we intend to or not,” she writes. “So the real question, going forward, is not whether we should shape animals’ bodies and lives, but how we should do so—with what tools, under what circumstances, and to what end. Are the needs of other species truly best served by leaving them to fend for themselves in a world that we have come to dominate?”

Read more of this self-important trite here...

*****

There is no literacy in the Genetic "Literacy" Project (hence the quotes).

You know, I try and live my life as best as I can and I never ask anything of another, be it human or otherwise, that I would not do myself. I am sick and tired of these idiots and their arguments; "have developed chickens that can’t spread avian flu to others in their flock, opening up the possibility of developing flu resistant animals". For these people to actually drink their own Kool-Aid they must be the pinnacle of stupidity. Do they learn NOTHING from watching the evolution of the flu virus, continuously pushed by flu shots? The part regarding avian flu is equally stupid in that it doesn't even begin to address the cause (could it possibly be the conditions the fucking animals are raised in???). Lastly, if pieces like this and the individuals they refer to do not disturb you I am at a total and complete loss for words. We need to clamp down on this type of research and biotech in general... and hopefully keep Pandora from finishing her exit from her box. I sincerely view individuals and organizations that promote biotechnology, cloning, eugenics, and transhumanism as my ideological enemy. If they think they need science alone to evolve as a human being they are beyond naive... let alone a science based on exploitation and torture.

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US sailors sue over Fukushima radiation exposure


Sara Reardon
New Scientist
March 22, 2013

Fukushima's financial fallout is far from over. US military personnel and their families are seeking $2 billion in damages for illnesses they believe were caused by the nuclear plant's meltdown. They allege that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant's operator, misrepresented the amount of radiation present when it accepted US military assistance to deal with the crisis.

Soldiers aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, which rerouted from Korea to assist after reactors at Fukushima went into meltdown in 2011, have filed a lawsuit against TEPCO in the District Court for the Southern District of California. So far, 24 people are claiming damages, but Paul Garner, a lawyer based in San Diego, California, who is representing the plaintiffs, says that the 70,000 US military personnel and families stationed in or near Japan at the time could be party to the suit if they wish.

The plaintiffs claim that the Fukushima radiation leak caused leukaemias, testicular cancer, vision problems and gynaecological bleeding, among other illnesses.

The source of this photo claims "Fukushima cancer risk slightly up for those exposed..." Are human beings really stupid enough to believe that???
"It seems like a pattern, a lot of cancers," says Garner. TEPCO has not responded to New Scientist's request for comment.

The Pentagon has put together an online registry to document radiation levels in Japan and surrounding areas where military staff might have been. According to the website, all the known levels are far too low to cause harm. That concurs with a recent World Health Organization assessment which found that infants in the immediate vicinity of the stricken plant may have a slightly increased risk of developing some cancers, but that the risk to adults is low.

David Brenner of Columbia University in New York says that although leukaemia can develop within a brief period after exposure to radiation, "at the doses of relevance here, one would not expect much else by way of health effects in the first two years".

TEPCO's legal issues don't end there. Earlier this month, over 1600 residents from around the Fukushima area filed a lawsuit with Fukushima District Court, demanding compensation for psychological damage and displacement.

*****

Hey Obama? Let's shut down coal plants and build these all over... preferably on a fault near you. Sound good? We can always bury the waste where we don't have to worry about it until tomorrow.

***** 

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Coal bad, nuclear good..?

Toxic tuna bring radiation to California...

Japan sends radiation to the United States and Canada...

Ontario turtle soup on the menu brings $10,000 fine for restaurateur

If you guessed the owner is Chinese... you're right.
Alex Ballingall
The Star
March 26, 2013

They’re disappearing rapidly from the rivers and lakes where they’ve been able to survive at all. But at one Scarborough restaurant, they were blatantly listed right there on the menu: to delight the palate, soup made from threatened freshwater turtles.

Da Zhao Jian (Chinese), owner of Fortune Seafood Restaurant on Midland Ave., was handed $10,000 in fines on March 21 for making the dwindling turtle dish available at his eatery.

He was charged with possessing and selling the spiny softshell turtle — listed as threatened by the provincial and federal governments — when Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officials found 31 of the critters packed in a freezer at the Cantonese restaurant during a “routine inspection” of seafood establishments in May 2010.

“The fact that he was brazen enough to put them on the menu … He must have a big ego, or didn’t understand the laws in Ontario,” said species-at-risk biologist Scott Gillingwater.

The restaurant owner was convicted of unlawful possession of the spiny softshell turtles under the Endangered Species Act, and of listing a protected species for sale under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Each violation carried a $5,000 fine, according to the ministry.

Asked to comment through an English-speaking employee, the owner declined to say anything about the fine or where he obtained the turtles.

Read more...

*****

The douche doesn't even speak English... or French. If I was Canadian I would send his dumbass back to China. But hey, help push a species a little closer to extinction? $10 grand and we'll call it even?  Bullshit.

*****

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Incredible North Atlantic storm spans Atlantic Ocean

(NASA)


Jason Samenow
The Washington Post
March 28, 2013

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a storm this big before.

The storm shown here stretches west to east from Newfoundland to Portugal. Its southern tail (cold front) extends into the Caribbean and the north side of its comma head touches southern Greenland.

Not only is it big, but it’s also super intense – comparable to many category 3 hurricanes.  The storm’s central pressure, as analyzed by the Ocean Prediction Center, is 953 mb. Estimated peak wave heights are around 25-30 feet.

(Ocean Prediction Center)
The storm is forecast to remain more or less stationary over the next few days before substantially weakening and then eventually drifting into western Europe in about a week as a rather ordinary weather system.

Note to Washingtonians: this is the same storm that blanketed the region with 1-4 inches of snow Monday. It’s grown into a monster from humble beginnings.  The storm’s giant circulation has drawn down the cold and windy conditions we’ve had since it passed.

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NASA personnel use "hot" summers to push carbon fascism...

Cost of Chemtrail Program Put At $5 Billion a Year


Kim Jong-Un and Kid 'n Play

I never liked Korean food, K-Pop, Starcraft, etc... but man this is style.

You know, it doesn't take more than a handful of brain cells to know that the silly B2 drills in South Korea by my country and its globalist masters is going to agitate. All this talk and hype of the North and its missiles is equally absurd - it's a simple demonstration to the N. Koreans and to shore up the population (ie. it servers internal goals...). So, until I see it as worthwhile to post on it, I am going to ignore the charade there.

*****

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Are we are supposed to feel sorry for these guys?


The Decline of the Monarch Butterfly


Sarah Fecht
Genetic Literacy Project
March 25, 2013

Monarch butterfly populations have been on a downward spiral for decades, and the most recent news stories report that monarch numbers have reached an all-time low this year.

There are several reasons why monarchs are a threatened species—including deforestation, parasitism, and ebbing populations of the milkweed plants they depend on. But a new study has reignited the debate over whether or not genetically modified crops are playing a role in the monarch’s decline. Last week the headlines claimed that “GMO Crops Are Killing Butterflies.” Here’s what Grist had to say about it:
We’re all familiar with Big Ag’s bad reputation of picking on small-scale and organic farmers. Now Monsanto and its cronies are beating up an even more innocuous set of victims: beautiful, defenseless monarch butterflies.
Blaming GM crops for monarch declines is nothing new. The controversy began in 1999, when a paper in Nature concluded that pollen from Bt corn—which is genetically modified to carry a Bacillus thuringiensis gene that allows the corn to produce a toxin meant to kill pest insects—could kill monarch butterfly caterpillars. The study was discredited by 2001, but in the interim, “the monarch butterfly rapidly became a public symbol of the environmental hazards of GM crops,” says a report from the Council on Foreign Relations. In fact, monarch declines sparked the first discussion of GMO food labels, according to the CFR report.
The US Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture held the first Congressional hearings on GM foods and in November 1999, legislation was introduced in Congress requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. The FDA held a series of hearings throughout the United States to reexamine whether GM foods should be considered an additive, thus requiring mandatory labeling, as well as to explore the need for further testing to ensure consumer safety. For its part, the EPA began to review its policies about whether genetically modified seeds should be subject to pest control regulations. And in January 2000, EPA directed companies marketing corn that produces Bt toxin to request that farmers voluntarily plant a buffer zone of traditional corn as a protection for monarch butterflies.
Responding to the widespread fear, the National Academy of Sciences launched a major risk assessment study published in 2001 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which ran a series of articles evaluating the effects of biotech corn on monarch butterflies in the wild. The researchers concluded that Bt-corn’s impact on monarch butterfly populations is “negligible.”

Rick Hellmich, an entomologist with the Agricultural Research Service and co-author of the follow-up report, told National Geographic that “butterflies are safer in a Bt cornfield than they are in a conventional cornfield, when they’re subjected to chemical pesticides that kill not just caterpillars but most insects in the field.”

The latest hubbub over GMOs and butterflies centers around a recent study in Insect Conservation and Diversity. The study does not actually test the hypothesis that GMOs are behind the monarch declines. Instead, the authors’ main conclusion is that “a loss of agricultural milkweeds is a major contributor to the decline in the monarch population.”

GMOs come into the picture because the article cites a 2010 paper which found that milkweed populations on farms declined dramatically between 1999 and 2009, at the same time that Roundup Ready crops were becoming widespread in the Midwest. Roundup Ready crops are engineered to be herbicide-resistant so that farmers can apply weed killers without damaging their crops. The 2010 paper reasons that the widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops likely led to increased use of weed killer, and that milkweed populations may have suffered as a result.

The argument seems logical, but it’s not iron-clad proof—correlation does not prove causation, and there don’t appear to be any controlled experiments that compare milkweed growth rates near Roundup Ready crops versus non-GM crops. Even assuming that modern, GM-using farming techniques are responsible—indirectly—for an increased decline in monarch butterflies, it’s still not the same as GM crops killing the insects outright.

Bottom line: It’s the farmers that are responsible, not the technology they’re using. Milkweed is after all a weed, and since weeds decrease yield, farmers always have and always will fight them. Most of the world is fed via conventional farming whose aim is to maximize efficiency and output. It’s unfortunate, but there really isn’t much room for biodiversity in conventional farming, especially for plants without a clear economic value like milkweed.

Some have proposed that we could protect milkweed plants, or that biotech companies could engineer a Roundup-resistant milkweed variety. A New York Times article from 2011 suggests that it is “unrealistic to expect farmers to give up the herbicide-tolerant crops — so efforts should be made to preserve or grow milkweed elsewhere, perhaps on farmland set aside for conservation.” Monarch Watch, an organization dedicated to studying and protecting the butterflies, says people can help by creating monarch habitats in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, along roadsides, and on other unused plots of land.

Grist’s article may exploit the specter of Big Bad agriculture, but it gets one thing right: “at this rate, if we’re going to save monarchs, we may need to make it a national priority to cultivate milkweed outside of farms.”

*****

Oh wait; GMO proponents claim the ability to feed the world... regardless of altering and/or destroying the natural world.  And consumers, Americans at least, could give a damn what they are feeding their families.

This article borders on absurdity.  The Genetic Literacy Project is a shill organization that errs on the side of biotech time and again.  Actually, its entire existence is devoted to transhumanism and biotechnology.  Does that say enough for you?

Visit Monarch Watch to find out what YOU can do. 

*****


Stop the Monsanto Rider

[Change You Can Believe In] Obama Clears the Way for Approval of First Genetically Engineered Animal

Monsanto Funded Anti-GMO Labeling Campaign Gets Away with Impersonating Govt. Agencies


Friday, March 22, 2013

NYPD Surveillance Will Be Everywhere

Police surveillance camera at  59th St. and Fifth Ave. Mayor Bloomberg said he envisions a day when it will be nearly impossible for New Yorkers to escape the eye of Big Brother in the Big Apple.


Tina Moore
NY Daily News
March 22, 2013

'You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they’ll be cameras everyplace . . . whether you like it or not,' Bloomberg said Friday. 'The argument against using automation is just this craziness that 'Oh, it’s Big Brother.' Get used to it

Big Brother is watching. Now get used to it!

Envisioning a future where privacy is a thing of the past, Mayor Bloomberg said Friday it will soon be impossible to escape the watchful eyes of surveillance cameras and even drones in the city.

He acknowledged privacy concerns, but said “you can’t keep the tides from coming in.”

“You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they’ll be cameras everyplace . . . whether you like it or not,” Bloomberg said.

The security measures have drawn scorn from some civil libertarians — but Bloomberg scoffed at privacy concerns on his Friday morning program on WOR-AM.

“The argument against using automation is just this craziness that 'Oh, it’s Big Brother,’” Bloomberg said. “Get used to it!”

The New York Civil Liberties Union has documented nearly 2,400 surveillance cameras fixed on public spaces in Manhattan alone. Many are operated by the police, others by poroperty owners.

In Lower Manhattan, an initiative developed after 9/11 known as the “Ring of Steel” integrates the NYPD’s cameras with those of banks and other institutions.

But in the future, the cameras won't just be planted on buildings and utility poles. Some of them will be able to fly, the mayor pointed out.


“It’s scary,” Bloomberg said. “But what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean intellectually I have trouble making a distinction. And you know you're gonna have face recognition software. People are working on that.”

Bloomberg warned that drones would be able to peep into private residences - but that Peeping Tom legislation could help maintain some privacy.

“It's just we’re going into a different world, unchartered,” he said.

“We're going to have more visibility and less privacy. I don't see how you stop that. And it's not a question of whether I think it's good or bad. I just don't see how you could stop that because we're going to have them.”

*****

This is the very definition of a police state.

I have money that says that New Yorkers aren't going to sack this moron.  I got money that says New Yorkers won't do a damn thing about it. I got money that says these cameras and drones will go up and New Yorkers privacy will be out the window. But then again, don't we get what we deserve [i.e. you allow it to happen]?

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Gruesome Video Shows Syrian Rebel Beheading Civilian


Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
March 21, 2013


How much longer can the Obama administration hide its support for violent [terrorists]?


A gruesome YouTube video shows a member of the US-backed Free Syrian Army beheading a civilian in yet another example of how the west is supporting an uprising led by violent jihadist extremists.

**WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC VIDEO. VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED. We expect this video to be removed from YouTube shortly.**

The clip, which should not be watched by those of a nervous disposition, shows a masked man hacking away at a prisoner’s head with a machete before holding the severed head up in the air as those around him shout in celebration.

This is by no means the first time FSA militants have been caught on camera beheading civilians. Back in December we featured a video showing Syrian rebels forcing a child to behead a bound prisoner.

Later that same month, the Australian reported how rebels beheaded a young Christian man by the name of Andrei Arbashe because he complained about how the rebels were acting like bandits. After cutting him up into pieces, FSA fighters fed Arbashe to the dogs. The report noted that the incident underscored how, “rebels are committing atrocities against innocent civilians.”

Another video which emerged last month shows Syrian rebels chanting “Allahu Akbar” before cutting off the head of a civilian and dumping him in a hole in the ground.

These same insurgents have openly espoused their hatred for America as they ransack Christian churchesburn US flags, chant anti-American slogans and sing the praises of Osama Bin Laden while glorifying the 9/11 attacks.

Multiple reports now confirm that the individuals responsible for these beheadings, many of them part of the Al-Qaeda group Jabhat al-Nusra which killed US troops in Iraq, are leading western-backed rebel forces in Syria. After the organization was declared a terrorist group by the US State Department, 29 different US-backed Syrian opposition groups pledged their allegiance to al-Nusra.

Given the series of bloodthirsty acts of terror committed by Syrian rebels, it’s little surprise that the evidence clearly suggests this week’s chemical weapons attack in Aleppo was launched by FSA militants.

The Obama administration’s transparently disingenuous attempt to initially deny the attack even took place and then spin a yarn that it was likely to have been carried out by the Syrian Army (when 16 of the victims were Syrian soldiers according to the impartial Syrian Observatory for Human Rights), again emphasizes how a fake narrative is being manufactured in an effort to hide the fact that western powers – just as they did in Libya – are supporting and empowering terrorists who have brazenly stated their goal to be the imposition of arcane Sharia law across the region.

The Obama administration has now sent almost half a billion dollars to Syrian rebels (many of whom aren’t even Syrian) – $500 million dollars to militants who have publicly embraced the group responsible for the kind of gruesome beheadings depicted in the video above.

Given the fact that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was carried out by some of the very same terrorists the administration armed in the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi, for how much longer can Obama hide the fact that the US is once again throwing its weight behind bloodthirsty jihadists who hate the United States, hate the ideals of justice and freedom, and who are willing to commit the most savage acts of barbarity in pursuit of their extremist doctrine?

*****

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Protect Cubs From Being Abused at the Fair


Last March when [they] told you the Sarasota County Agricultural Fair (Florida) had an exhibitor charging patrons to pet and have photos taken with a tiny tiger cub, more than 1200 of you called and emailed the fair’s management asking them to please not allow this exploitation of big cat cubs. Some of you even protested outside the fairgrounds.


Unfortunately, we’ve just learned that the Sarasota County Fair is at it again this week. They have a different exhibitor this year but the abuse is the same: a lion cub is being used for profit by the exhibitor who is charging people to pet and take photos with him. In addition, this exhibitor has an adult tiger confined in a tiny transport cage. We are told from concerned visitors to the fair that the display is right next to a loud motocross bike show. According to eye witnesses, the tiger appears so distressed by the noise and fumes that he is continually pacing and trying desperately to get out of the cage.

Success in changing people’s mindsets often takes persistence. With your help in repeatedly contacting the fair’s management about the issue of cub abuse, the fair’s management will see that many Americans do NOT condone using big cats and cubs in these money-making schemes. And that it is bad business for the fair to have these displays because it negatively affects their reputation among the many, many people who love animals and do not want to see them exploited to make money.

In the form below, we make it easy for you to send an email that will go to the management at the Sarasota County Fair, the International Association of Fairs and Expos, the Mayor of Sarasota, the Sarasota County Commissioners and the Sarasota County Administrator. You can make an even bigger impact by also taking the time to call and tell these people that you oppose big cats at fairs – it is cruel to breed them for this purpose and then cart them around in cramped trailers for months at a time in order to make money off of them.

You are the only voice this lion cub and tiger have and they are counting on you to roar for them! Thank you in advance for speaking up for the cats.

If your Take Action link doesn't work, please cut and paste this URL into your browser bar:  https://www.votervoice.net/BCR/Campaigns/31374/Respond
Click the link below to log in and send your message:
http://www.votervoice.net/link/target/bcr/GtKt2ztg.aspx 

*****

Here's what a cub has to endure (doesn't matter whether it is leopard, lion, tiger, or what). Contrary to many an idiot's opinions, other beings are not on this planet for your benefit or entertainment.

What really pisses me off is the fact that these morons could even pull off having a tiger in a little cage... and a tiger that is not part of a breeding program to restore tiger populations (there are more tigers in captivity than in the wild today). There should be zero private ownership of big cats to begin with... let alone one that may vanish from the natural environment within our lives.

The people that pay for this sort of thing should be ashamed of themselves.

*****

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The Most Important Big Cat Bill Ever - Please Help!

 
Help list the Afican lion as endangered...

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Barclays Gives Investment Bank Chief Rich Ricci £17.5m

Ricci: What did you expect?  He's just your typical douche.

Rupert Neate
The Guardian
March 20, 2013

Barclays has been accused of trying to bury news that it paid its top bankers an "extraordinarily greedy" £39.5m in bonuses by sneaking out the pay details when most of the City was distracted by the budget.

The bank, which promised it was "changing" after being fined £290m last year for its role in the Libor-rigging scandal, gave £17.6m worth of shares to Rich Ricci, the head of its investment banking division. Ricci, who owns 11 horses that raced at the Cheltenham Festival last week including one named Fatcatinthehat, immediately cashed in all of the shares.

The bonus will swell his pay packet so much that means the taxman will collect £9.3m from his next payslip. However, budget day tax changes including the government's decision to scrap the 50p top rate will result in Ricci taking home an extra £27,149 from his basic salary of £700,000 from next month.

Ricci's bonus is worth 656 times the average UK salary, but Wednesday's payday was dwarfed by the £44m in pay and bonuses he collected in 2010.

Read more...

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In case you were wondering, that is $26,458,250.00 American. Irregardless, something tells me people will not be disgusted enough to cease business with Barclays.

Mark my words: one of these days, with the ever-expanding gap between the rich and poor, and the destruction of the middle class, there will come a time where there will be a reenactment of the French Revolution... only on a much larger scale.  The same assholes reaping in hundreds of times more money than the average working person are the same assholes, generally, responsible for the dismantling/destruction of industry and resultant erosion of the middle class.  

These people and those that attend Bilderberg must be some of the shortest-sighted idiots I've seen yet.  To trick yourself into believing these people are smart is equative to calling those that bite the hand that feeds them genius. The middle class was the great buffer that pacified the masses; it was the very thing protecting people like Rothschild, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Gates, and so many more from possibly facing French Revolution style vengeance... yet they all, in each their own way, paved the way to erode that buffer.

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U.S. Sends Syrian Terrorists 3,000 Tons of Weapons


The Daily Star
March 9, 2013

ZAGREB: The Croatian capital has served for months as a transit point for Saudi-financed weapons for Syrian rebels, a local newspaper said Friday, but the report was swiftly denied by the government.

Some 75 civilian transport planes carrying weapons for the rebels battling the regime of President Bashar Assad took off from Zagreb airport between last November and February, the influential Jutarnji List reported citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

It said the transport of some 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition was organized by the U.S. using Turkish and Jordanian air cargo companies.

The weapons originated from Croatia – notably guns, rocket and grenade launchers – as well as from several other European countries including Britain, it reported.

The Jutarnji List wrote that the weapons, financed by Saudi Arabia, were transported to Jordan and later transferred to Syria.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman denied the report. “Croatia was not selling or donating weapons to Syrian rebels,” Danijela Barisic told AFP.

The New York Times reported in late February that Saudi Arabia was supplying Syrian rebels with weapons bought from Croatia.

The Times, citing unidentified Western officials, said the Saudi-financed “large purchase of infantry weapons” was part of an “undeclared surplus” of arms left over from the Balkan wars in the 1990s and that they began reaching anti-regime fighters via Jordan in December.

Since then, The Times added, officials said “multiple planeloads” of weapons have left Croatia, with one quoted as saying the shipments included “thousands of rifles and hundreds of machine guns,” as well as an “unknown quantity of ammunition.”

The Croatian Foreign Ministry also denied that report.

*****

When you use terrorists as pawns for your globalist agenda, you spin them as "rebels". When you aggressively invade a sovereign nation and face armed opposition, you spin those as "insurgents". When Al-Qaeda and jihadist forces attack you in places like Iraq, you call them Al-Qaeda. When you then assist those same elements in nations like Libya or Syria, you again, spin them as "rebels" or "freedom fighters".

Oh yeah, that's correct... that was a Twitter account for those "rebels". Meanwhile, others face censorship or are subpoenaed for the content of their Twitter accounts. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the world is upside down... and no one seems to notice the rush of blood to the head.

*****

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Shadowy Syrian Opposition Group Kidnaps United Nations Peacekeepers

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Syrian Rebels Pledge Allegiance to Al-Qaeda Group That Killed U.S. Troops

Piracy Does Not Affect Music Sales


BBC News
March 20, 2013

A report published by the European Commission Joint Research Committee claims that music web piracy does not harm legitimate sales.

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies examined the online habits of 16,000 Europeans.

They also found that freely streamed music provided a small boost to sales figures.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said the research was "flawed and misleading". [Of course they think so... because anyone that has music they didn't pay for would have paid for it if there was no option to pirate... right???]

"It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them," wrote the researchers in their report, Digital Music Consumption on the Internet: Evidence from Clickstream Data.

"Although there is trespassing of private property rights (copyrights), there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues," they added.

The team analysed data over the course of one year.

They also found that music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora gave a small boost to music sales.

Read more...

*****
Well, of course the industry itself is going to want to believe that any pirated, digital copy of an IP is lost money; but they live in Fantasyland.  This is the same industry that sues people for obscene amounts of money for illegally possessing a handful of songs.  This is the same industry that cannot adjust to the times.  This is the same industry that is a parasite on creativity and originality within the medium it operates.  

There are many artists and bands that offer music for free. Radiohead benefited from cutting out the parasitic middlemen of record labels by allowing listeners to pay what they want...   Anton of Brian Jonestown Massacre. has in the past, made all music available for free... yet he (and his band) are highly influential and regarded within and outside of the industry.

But these labels have purchased political power and influence through the use of... LOBBIES.  Yet another misuse of public trust and government servants (who ought be serving you, not business interests)... and yet another reminder that lobbies need be obliterated from the political landscape.

Please read this post, written by an individual in the video game industry, and listen to his logic regarding piracy (which can be aptly applied to both film and music industries).

*****
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Over 13,000 Dead Pigs Found in Chinese River


Ed Flanagan & Danny Zhang
NBC News
March 18, 2013

More than a week since authorities in Shanghai started pulling thousands of dead pigs from one of the city’s major waterways, the Huangpu River, municipal authorities in that city of 23 million are continuing to pull hundreds of carcasses from its waterways each day, bringing the total since last week to over 13,000.

Workers on Sunday pulled nearly 500 pigs from the Huangpu, bringing the total found from that river alone to over 9,500. The Huangpu River supplies over a fifth of Shanghai’s drinking water.

As the pig tally creeps up, Shanghai government officials have been struggling to put a positive spin on the ghoulish images popping up each day from the city’s waterways.


Read more...

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Oh, of course, this is perfectly normal. 13,000 pigs being found floating dead in a river isn't atypical at all... didn't you know, there are major pig farms nearby. Besides, if the Chinese government says the food supply is safe how could you pass up your sweet and sour pig???

Bottom line;13,000 pigs isn't indicative of anything to be overly concerned about... just as thousands of birds or fish dying in mass was indicative of anything warranting concern or ongoing investigation.

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86 Elephants Killed in Chad Poaching Massacre

Celeste Hicks
The Guardian
March 19, 2013

Poachers in south-west Chad have killed at least 86 elephants including 33 pregnant females in less than a week, in a potentially devastating blow to one of central Africa's last remaining elephant populations.

Groups of elephants follow traditional migration routes during the dry season from Central African Republic, through Chad to Cameroon. Thirty years ago there were estimates of 150,000 animals across the region, but today that figure could be as low as 2,000.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the elephants were killed near Fianga, close to the border between Chad and Cameroon, and their tusks were hacked off. Fianga is near a cross-border national park area – Sene Oura in Chad and Bouba N'Djida in Cameroon, where many elephants spend the dry season before the rains start in April. It is thought the animals were killed by Chadian and Sudanese poachers travelling on horseback carrying AK47s and hacksaws to remove the tusks.


"The poachers killed pregnant females and all the calves," said Celine Sissler-Bienvenu from IFAW. "Even if the conditions were right, which they are not, it would take more than 20 years for this population to recover".

The Chad-based NGO SOS Elephants reported late last year that hundreds of elephants had moved into Chad in an attempt to escape poaching in Bouba N'Djida park, where 650 elephants were killed in a matter of days in February 2012.

The Central African region has seen years of conflict and poor governance, and anti-poaching efforts announced by the Chadian president, Idriss Déby Itno, including signing an agreement with IFAW to provide guards in Sene Oura, show few results.

Anti-poaching teams are often poorly equipped and the guards themselves are targeted. Ten were killed trying to protect elephants between 2006-09 in Zakouma national park, in south-east Chad. As the Darfur conflict raged along the Chad/Sudan border, horseback raiders crossed into Zakouma, killing around 3,000 elephants in three years. At one point an average of three elephants a day were being slaughtered.

The poaching gangs are targeting the elephants for their valuable ivory which is thought to be smuggled out to Chinese markets through Sudanese and Nigerian ports. Local newspapers in Chad have reported cases of Chinese nationals being caught carrying ivory at N'Djamena airport, though no prosecutions were opened.

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With rangers that are tasked with protecting wildlife being murdered, it is my opinion for the gloves to finally come off when dealing with poachers and the trade that feeds Chinese traditional dirt-worshiping medicine. What I am referring to is a sense of finality when confronting these people. You can bet your life my trigger-finger would have quite an itch if I came across poachers.

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Apathy and Refunds are More Dangerous Than Piracy

tommyrefenes.tumblr.com
Posed on March 18, 2013

I think I can safely say that Super Meat Boy has been pirated at least 200,000 times. We are closing in on 2 million sales and assuming a 10% piracy to sales ratio does not seem unreasonable. As a forward thinking developer who exists in the present, I realize and accept that a pirated copy of a digital game does not equate to money being taken out of my pocket. Team Meat shows no loss in our year end totals due to piracy and neither should any other developer.

For the sake of argument, some of those people that did pirate Super Meat Boy could have bought the game if piracy didn’t exist but there is no actual way to calculate that lost revenue. It is impossible to know with certainty the intentions of people. With the SimCity fiasco and several companies trying to find new ways to combat piracy and stating piracy has negatively affected their bottom line I wonder if they’ve taken the time to accurately try to determine what their losses are due to piracy.

My first job outside my parents cabinet shop was at KMart. KMart, like countless other retailers, calculates loss by counting purchased inventory and matching it to sales. Loss is always built into the budget because it is inevitable. Loss could come from items breaking, being stolen, or being defective. If someone broke a light bulb, that was a calculable loss. If someone returned a blender for being defective, it wasn’t a loss to KMart, but a calculable loss to the manufacturer. If someone steals a copy of BattleToads, it’s a loss to KMart. All loss in a retail setting is calculable because items to be sold are physical objects that come from manufacturers that have to be placed on shelves by employees. You have a chain of inventory numbers, money spent and labor spent that goes from the consumer all the way to the manufacturer. A stolen, broken, or lost item is an item that you cannot sell. In the retail world your stock is worth money.

In the digital world, you don’t have a set inventory. Your game is infinitely replicable at a negligible or zero cost (the cost bandwidth off your own site or nothing if you’re on a portal like Steam, eShop, etc). Digital inventory has no value. Your company isn’t worth an infinite amount because you have infinite copies of your game. As such, calculating worth and loss based on infinite inventory is impossible. If you have infinite stock, and someone steals one unit from that stock, you still have infinite stock. If you have infinite stock and someone steals 1 trillion units from that stock , you still have infinite stock. There is no loss of stock when you have an infinite amount.

Because of this, in the digital world, there is no loss when someone steals a game because it isn’t one less copy you can sell, it is potentially one less sale but that is irrelevant. Everyone in the world with an internet connection and a form of online payment is a potential buyer for your game but that doesn’t mean everyone in the world will buy your game.

Loss due to piracy is an implied loss because it is not a calculable loss. You cannot, with any accuracy, state that because your game was pirated 300 times you lost 300 sales. You cannot prove even one lost sale because there is no evidence to state that any one person who pirated your game would have bought your game if piracy did not exist. From an accounting perspective it’s speculative and a company cannot accurately determine loss or gain based on speculative accounting. You can’t rely on revenue due to speculation, you can’t build a company off of what will “probably” happen. Watch “The Smartest Guys in the Room” and see how that worked out for Enron.

Companies try to combat piracy of their software with DRM but if loss due to pirated software is not calculable to an accurate amount does the implementation of DRM provide a return on investment? It is impossible to say yes to this statement. Look at it as numbers spent in a set budget. You spend $X on research for your new DRM method that will prevent people from stealing your game. That $X is a line item in accounting that can be quantified. Can you then say “This $X we put into research for our DRM gained us back $Y in sales”? There is no way to calculate this because it is not possible to quantify the intentions of a person. Also, there’s no way of accurately determining which customers would have stolen the game had there not been DRM.

To add to that, the reality of our current software age is the internet is more efficient at breaking things than companies are at creating them. A company will spend massive amounts of money on DRM and the internet will break it in a matter of days in most cases. When the DRM is broken is it worth the money spent to implement it? Did the week of unbroken DRM for your game gain you any sales from potential pirates due to the inability to pirate at launch? Again, there is no way of telling and as such cannot be used as an accurate justification for spending money.

So what should developers do to make sure people don’t steal games? Unfortunately there is nothing anyone can do to actively stop their game from being pirated. I do believe people are less likely to pirate your software if the software is easy to buy, easy to run, and does what is advertised. You can’t force a person to buy your software no more than you can prevent a person from stealing it. People have to WANT to buy your software, people have to WANT to support you. People need to care about your employees and your company’s well being. There is no better way to achieve that than making sure what you put out there is the best you can do and you treat your customers with respect.

Lets loop back to what’s going on with SimCity. I bought SimCity day one, I played it and experienced the same frustrations that countless others are experiencing. For total fairness, I know the always on DRM isn’t the main issue, but I can’t help but think that the server side calculations are a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” version of DRM. I won’t claim to know the inner workings of SimCity and this isn’t a Captain Hindsight article because that is irrelevant. EA and Maxis are currently facing a bigger problem than piracy: A growing number of their customers no longer trust them and this has and will cost them money.

After the frustrations with SimCity I asked Origin for a refund and received one. This was money they had and then lost a few days later. Applying our earlier conversation about calculable loss, there is a loss that is quantifiable, that will show up in accounting spreadsheets and does take away from profit. That loss is the return, and it is much more dangerous than someone stealing your game.

In the retail world, you could potentially put a return back on the shelf, you could find another customer that wants it, sell it to them and there would be virtually no loss. In the digital world, because there is no set amount of goods, you gain nothing back (one plus infinity is still infinity). It’s only a negative experience. A negative frustrating experience for a customer should be considered more damaging than a torrent of your game.

Speaking from my experience with SMB, I know for a fact we have lost a lot of trust from Mac users due to the Mac port of SMB being poor quality. I could go into the circumstances of why it is the way it is but that is irrelevant…it’s a broken product that is out in the public. We disappointed a good portion of our Mac customers with SMB and as a result several former customers have requested and received refunds. I’d take any amount of pirates over one return due to disappointment any day.

Disappointment leads to apathy which is the swan song for any developer. If people don’t care about your game, why would people ever buy it? When MewGenics comes out, I doubt many Mac users are going to be excited about our launch. When EA/Maxis create their next new game how many people are going to be excited about it and talking positively about it? I imagine that the poison of their current SimCity launch is going to seep into potential customers thoughts and be a point of speculation as to “Is it going to be another SimCity launch?”.

This is not a quantifiable loss of course, but people are more likely to buy from distributors they trust rather than ones they’ve felt slighted by before. Consumer confidence plays a very important role in how customers spend money. I think its safe to say that EA and Maxis do not have a lot of consumer confidence at this point. I think its also safe to say that the next EA/Maxis game is going to be a tough sell to people who experienced or were turned away by talk of frustration regarding SimCity.

As a result of piracy developers feel their hand is forced to implement measures to stop piracy. Often, these efforts to combat piracy only result in frustration for paying customers. I challenge a developer to show evidence that accurately shows implementation of DRM is a return on investment and that losses due to piracy can be calculated. I do not believe this is possible.

The reality is the fight against piracy equates to spending time and money combating a loss that cannot be quantified. Everyone needs to accept that piracy cannot be stopped and loss prevention is not a concept that can be applied to the digital world. Developers should focus on their paying customers and stop wasting time and money on non-paying customers. Respect your customers and they may in turn respect your efforts enough to purchase your game instead of pirating it.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Stop the Monsanto Rider


[What do genetically engineered crops have to do with spending bills?]

The Senate is voting on amendments to a continuing resolution spending bill with a dangerous Monsanto rider that would allow industry to continue growing genetically engineered food that may not be safe. We need your help immediately to stop this rider.

The Monsanto rider would strip federal courts of their authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous genetically engineered crop. It would compel the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request.

Luckily, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has introduced an amendment that would block the Monsanto rider and close this backdoor approval for genetically engineered crops.

SEND A MESSAGE

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Women Shot in Dorner Search Get $40,000 to Buy New Truck


Hetty Chang and Melissa Pamer
March 14, 2013

The Los Angeles City Attorney's office has reached an agreement to pay two newspaper delivery women $40,000 for the loss of their truck, which was shot up by police in a case of mistaken identity during the search for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner.

The Los Angeles Police Department had said it planned to replace the mother-daughter pair's truck, which was shot at more than 100 times while they delivered newspapers in Torrance, according to the women's attorney.

But the women were told they would need to pay income taxes on the value of the truck after a private donor got an involved — and 71-year-old Emma Hernandez and daughter Margie Carranza refused that offer.

Details on the "property agreement" with Hernandez and Carranza to compensate them for the truck were announced at a 3 p.m. press conference by LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's office. Both Trutanich and the women's attorney, Glen Jonas, were at the event at LA City Hall.

The attorneys said the women will get a check for $40,000 for the value of the truck, and they will not have to pay attorney's fees or income taxes on the amount. Jonas will not be compensated for his work related to the truck.

The agreement releases both sides from liability for the property loss, and it allows the truck to be used by the city as evidence until it's no longer needed. Then the seriously damaged truck will be returned to the women.

The money will come out of the city's general fund.

Trutanich said he believed the agreement was a "fair resolution." Earlier in the week, he had said he wanted to find a way to compensate them for the truck, calling it a "no-brainer."

"It's going to be handled competently, it's going to be handled appropriately and in the best interests of the city of Los Angeles," said Trutanich, who faces reelection on May 21, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Trutanich's office is examining a demand letter over the shooting sent by Jonas. The letter asks for compensation related to the shooting beyond to the value of the truck.

"I don't understand how they survived," Jonas said last month. "They're grappling with a lot of issues — the fact that they were almost killed by the police."

On Thursday, he said he's hopeful that the city and his clients can come to an agreement — based on the ease with which compensation for the truck was worked out.

"I'm pleased to have it done; my clients are pleased to have it done. Everybody gets to move forward, put this incident as far as the donation was concerned, behind us, and get down to business," Jonas said.

"If we don't, we do what lawyers do. We go to trial," Jonas said during the news conference.

The women were shot at Feb. 7 when they drove their blue Toyota Tacoma in the dark, early morning hours toward the Torrance home of one of the police officials who was under protection because of threats in an angry manifesto posted online by Dorner, who was later killed after an extensive manhunt.

Hernandez was shot in the back and still suffers from nerve pain, Jonas said.

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Where the hell do they find cops like this (that shoot without properly identifying the fucking target)?!?

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