Saturday, December 18, 2010

Assange backlash: could WikiLeaks provoke U.S. crackdown on leaks?

'The consequences of (Assange's) behavior for the American press could be stark and painful'

“WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange's crusade for greater official transparency could backfire by provoking a U.S. government crackdown on leaks that might entangle even journalists, legal experts warn.”

‘As It Stands’ will take a look at Julian Assange Sunday, and will ask the question “Is he Robin Hood feeding the masses information?”

Bank of America cuts off WikiLeaks payments

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Bank of America Corp said on Saturday it will not process payments intended for WikiLeaks, which has angered U.S. authorities with the mass release of U.S. diplomatic cables.

The largest U.S. bank by assets joins a growing group of financial services companies, including MasterCard, PayPal and Visa Europe, that are restricting payments to the global organization which has said its next large document release will be bank information.”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ever heard of the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009?

So there I was… 

Stumbling through cyber space when I found out about this interesting legislation. I never heard of it. Okay, big deal, I know. But don’t you think it’s strange? What prompted this Bill? Did someone with a warped sense of humor play modern day Frankenstein and get caught? If so, I sure would like to read about it. Meanwhile, here’s  S.1435:

111th CONGRESS - 1st Session - S. 1435

July 9, 2009

To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit human-animal hybrids.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    This Act may be cited as the `Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009'.
    Congress finds that--
      (1) advances in research and technology have made possible the creation of human-animal hybrids;
      (2) human-animal hybrids are grossly unethical because they blur the line between human and animal, male and female, parent and child, and one individual and another individual;
      (3) human dignity and the integrity of the human species are compromised by human-animal hybrids;
      (4) the uniqueness of individual human beings is manifested in a particular way through their brain and their reproductive organs/cells; and
      (5) with an increase in emerging zoonotic infection threatening the global public health, human-animal hybrids present a particularly optimal means of genetic transfers that could increase the efficiency or virulence of diseases threatening both humans and animals.
                               GO HERE TO READ THE REST                               image source

          Here’s a look at where ‘As It Stands’ visitors are coming from today


          Scientists Disrupt Moral Reasoning With Magnets To The Skull

          Scientists Disrupt Moral Reasoning With Magnets To The Skull

          Want to make somebody lose his belief that harming somebody else is wrong? All you have to do is hold a special magnet up to his head in the right place.

          Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation - in which magnets are used to disrupt neural activity in specific parts of the brain - scientists managed to "turn off" people's moral centers. According to a recent release from PNAS, which published the results of the study:

          “Liane Young and colleagues applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to disrupt neural activity in an area of the brain known to process information about beliefs and then asked twenty subjects to rate actions on a scale from one (morally forbidden) to seven (morally permissible). The researchers report that study participants judged actions in which a person believes he or she will cause harm to another person-but fails to do so-were more morally permissible during TMS application to the brain region responsible for processing beliefs, compared to when TMS was not applied, or applied to other brain regions.”

          photo and text source

          Fancy Florida ATM skips the folding cash, spits out gold

          Image: Berlin's First

          Can’t you just see some gangsters stealing the whole machine?

          Machine that dispenses shiny 24-carat gold bars, coins installed at Boca Raton mall

          BOCA RATON, Fla. — Shoppers who are looking for something sparkly to put under the Christmas tree can skip the jewelry and go straight to the source: an ATM that dispenses shiny 24-carat gold bars and coins.

          Dog gone this is cute: See happy Pugs with Santa Claus

          There’s more Pugs sitting with Santa Clauses right here.

          Thursday, December 16, 2010

          Ho! Ho! Ho! 25,189-piece Santa collection sets Guinness record

          Canadian teacher has a ho-ho-whole lot of Santas — 25,189 individual pieces

          Jean-Guy Laquerre, a retired geography teacher, has a Santa Claus collection that contains 25,189 individual pieces. He started collecting in 1988.

          Surprise! Hell hath no fury like a woman with a frying pan

          Image: Kevin Funderburk

          71-year-old Kansan beats in-home attacker unconscious, police say

          “Hutchinson police say a 71-year-old woman knocked a man who attacked her unconscious with her frying pan.

          Police Sgt. John Moore said 25-year-old Kevin Funderburk talked his way into the woman's home on Saturday, claiming he was homeless and had nowhere to go.

          Moore said that when he tried to attack the woman, she fought back and "beat him down with a frying pan."

          "When we arrived, he was unconscious and lying in his own vomit in the back of the house," Moore told The Hutchinson News. "He was in the hospital in Wichita over the weekend and they stapled his scalp."

          Ho! Ho! Ho! Wealth gap becomes chasm at Christmas

          Luxury retailers see strong demand as lower-income shoppers hunker down

          With just a few days left in the holiday shopping season, reports from retailers suggesting  strong sales are prompting analysts and investors to declare that “the American consumer is back.”

          Make that "some consumers." With unemployment stuck near 10 percent, home prices falling and foreclosures still rising, holiday shopping this year has brought into sharper focus the divide between upper- and lower-income American households.

          “It’s very much a tale of two worlds,” said Bernstein Research retail analyst Colin McGranahan. “There’s a big dichotomy between the well-educated, upper-income consumers — what the employment trends looks like, what the wage trends looks like — and the lower-income, less well-educated consumer. It’s a very different picture.”

          image source

          Study: Recession Will Cost Baby Boomers Up To $40,000 in Social Security Benefits

          Unprecedented Economic Factors Will Lead to Rare Drop in Initial Social Security Benefits and Reduce Lifetime Earnings

          “Baby Boomers will see greatly reduced Social Security benefits over the course of their retirements due to an unprecedented combination of low wage growth and no annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), according to a new study by The Senior Citizens League. And those who first become eligible for Social Security in 2011 will receive lower benefits than retirees born a year earlier.

          This is the most comprehensive study ever released to show the recession's impact on Social Security benefits for the first wave of baby boomers.”

          Wednesday, December 15, 2010

          What’s Next for Marijuana Reform? Cal NORML Conference January 29th in Berkeley


          In the aftermath of Proposition 19, California NORML will host a statewide conference to discuss the future of marijuana reform efforts in California at the David Brower Center in Berkeley on Saturday, January 29, 2011.

          The conference will feature a public discussion with drug reform leaders, legislators, attorneys, physicians, medical marijuana groups and the press.

          The conference will run from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm;  the pre-registration fee of $30 includes lunch. The Brower Center is a smoke-free facility located at 2150 Allston St. and Oxford St. near the Berkeley Center BART stop.

          For registration information, see 

          ‘Tis the season: Secret Santa II hands out $100 bills in Kansas City

          One delighted recipient: 'I can only afford one gift for each child. But now ....'

          Secret Santa II hit the streets Tuesday in a long-standing Kansas City tradition of handing out $100 bills — sometimes several at a time — to unsuspecting strangers in thrift stores, food pantries and shelters.

          Some people gasped in surprise. Some wanted to know if the $100 bill the tall man in the red cap offered was fake. Others wept.

          Secret Santa II has seen a lot of reactions since taking over where his mentor, Kansas City's original Secret Santa, Larry Stewart, left off when he died in 2007 at age 58. Like Stewart, who gave away more than $1 million to strangers each December in mostly $100 bills, this Secret Santa prefers to stay anonymous.

          PHOTO - Secret Santa II hands a $100 bill to Robert Wright as he pushed a shopping cart down a street Tuesday in Kansas City

          Other Voices: Politics in America: Only the rich need apply

          Illustration by Stephen Sedam | Inkpop Studios / For The Times

          LA Times Op-Ed By Andrew Trees

          Though John Adams railed against it more than two centuries ago, we now find ourselves in a new age of aristocratic despotism

          "Swilling the planters with bumbo" was what it was once called — the Colonial American tradition of treating voters with gifts during election campaigns, particularly plying them with rum (including a concoction known as bumbo). Virtually everyone who could afford the practice did it, including George Washington, who served 160 gallons of rum to roughly 400 voters during the 1758 campaign for the Virginia House of Burgesses. Needless to say, this was a prohibitively expensive way to campaign, and it meant that politics was largely the preserve of the rich.”

          Welcome to Potopia: The most marijuana-friendly nations

          The most marijuana-friendly nations

          In theory, Prop 19 would have gone further than any marijuana law on the books anywhere. The policy would have been revolutionary in the U.S., where marijuana is legal only for medical purposes—and that in just 13 states.

          But not even the world’s pot meccas have legalized and taxed the drug from production to consumption, as Prop 19 would have allowed cities in California to do. Drug-policy experts, though, disagree on whether Prop 19 took the right approach. Do other parts of the world have a more sensible system? Here’s a slideshow of how some other countries in the world handle marijuana use.

          Tuesday, December 14, 2010

          Be the first on your block to collect all 13 CAMP patches!

          Imagine having these babies sewn on your “Bomber” jacket?

          camp85 camp86camp87 camp88 camp93 camp98

          camp1994 camp1990

          camp1995 camp1996 camp2008

          camp1997 camp99 COLLECT ALL 13 CAMP PATCHES

           Wouldn’t you like to own this colorful display of artwork depicting how your tax dollars are being wasted to pursue “A War on Marijuana?”

          Just check with the DEA and see if they have any extras. My guess, there was a huge overrun on them and they’ll be willing to make a deal with you.

          Be the first on your block to show off your cool collection of Americana Circa 2010

          Feel free to pass this post on…

          Awwww Nuts! Dead Squirrel Tossed In Drive-Thru Window

          Squirrel Man sought “extra nuts” for rodent

          “While all sorts of stuff has been thrown by enraged motorists through the drive-thru window, it wasn’t until last week that someone got arrested for heaving a dead squirrel at a fast food worker.The bizarre incident at a Hardee’s in Bartonville, Illinois resulted in a disorderly conduct charge being leveled against Christopher Thompson, 26, according to police reports that carry a brief case summary: “Male threw dead animal through drive thru window

          Thompson, pictured at right, left the dead squirrel inside the vehicle when he went to Hardee’s, where the “2/3 lb. Monster Thickburger” will thicken your arteries.”

          Monday, December 13, 2010

          Last post of the day – as the sun sets in a distant bay…


          This photo (found on Stumble) really caught my attention. It’ so beautiful and serene. Such an awesome scene.

          15 Cute Animals That Will Cause You Horrible Harm

           You’re really going to be surprised when you see the #1 cute animal that could harm you. I would never have guessed. Some of the other cute culprits surprised me too.

          # 15. The Rat

          Not everyone's particular cup of tea, but many people keep rats as pets, and they're remarkably hygienic. They're smart, fuzzy, and willing companions. Plus cheap and easy to look after. So why do rats rate enough to enter our list at number 15? Well, like how George W Bush got into Yale, the rat's a legacy. Humble Rattus rattus, and its unfortunate cargo of fleas, was the bearer of the bubonic plague. That's right, back in the 1300s, these wee bastards were the cause of a disease so deadly it killed an estimated 2/3 of Europe's population. That's a hell of a history for these cute little fuzzballs, and one that we haven't yet forgiven them for. GO HERE TO SEE THE REST

          Marine fights Vietnam's dog-meat tradition

          Robert Lucius

          Robert Lucius is on what may be his toughest mission: trying to convince the Vietnamese that cruelty to dogs is an idea whose time has passed

          When his car was passed by a motorbike with a wicker basket full of dogs, he locked eyes with one of them. "There was an immediate sense of connection," he said. "You could see the fear, the dread, the helplessness."
          A vision raced through his mind: Liberate the dogs. Have his driver overtake the bike and dig into his wallet — anything to keep them from being served up in restaurants down the road.
          Lucius, now 42, did nothing. He didn't, he said, want to be seen as a "cultural imperialist" bent on changing a local custom merely because it offended him. But later that day, after a celebratory meal with Vietnamese colleagues, he saw a dog skinned and splayed out on a restaurant kitchen floor.

          Study shows rich people have no idea what you're thinking

          Diane Mapes writes: Wondering why your fat cat boss seems so clueless about why you don’t want to work extra shifts during the holidays? It could be because he can’t understand the dour looks you keep throwing his way.

          Upper-class people are less adept at reading other people's emotions than their lower-class counterparts, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.

          In other words, if you’re looking for a little empathy, you’re more likely to get it from a poor person than a rich one (just ask Bob Cratchit).

          Sunday, December 12, 2010

          NASCAR in the sky: will ‘augmented reality’ replace the real thing?

                      By Dave Stancliff/ For the Times Standard
           I suspect cavemen raced wild dogs. There’s no way to know if  they bet their best club on a swift dog, but I wouldn’t put it past them. Man’s need for speed started somewhere.
          Canines evolved into Greyhounds that streak around man-made tracks today - the product of generations of men breeding them for speed.
          We like speed so much we’ve run against one another in foot races since we learned to stand upright. Modern man has resurrected ancient man’s need for speed by bringing back the Olympic Games every four years to who are the fastest man and woman in the world. Another ancient form of speed competition is horse racing. The sport is still really popular. A recent movie was made about a horse named “Secretariat” who won the fabled Triple Crown in American horse racing.
          The invention of cars allowed for speeds men never dreamed were possible. The biggest sport in America today is NASCAR racing. Millions of fans gather to see their heroes steer sleek racing machines to victory.
          We have speed boats, snow machines that roar over frozen landscapes, and roller-coasters that go so fast you can get a nose bleed. There are Ostrich races. My wife and I almost went to one near Solvang a month ago. People race crabs every year in Trinidad, California.

          I’ve seen guys in the military bet on rapid roaches with ridiculous names like “The Torpedo,” and lose an entire month’s pay. Planes have raced for years. So have yachts and sail boats.
          I thought I was aware of nearly every form of racing until I read about the soon-to-be-launched Rocket Racing League. This is not to be confused with our historic “race to space” during the Cold War. That was serious business.

          This new approach to racing has real pilots who will race planes that are supposed to be rockets in a virtual sky racetrack. We can thank “augmented reality” for this video game-like, 3-D course that audiences will watch on giant Jumbotrones and computer screens.

          In an interview with TechNews the league’s chief operating officer, Michael D’Angelo said, “The plan, in essence, is to take football’s yellow “first down” line - another classic example of augmented reality - pump it up on steroids, and make it so “players” and fans will be able to see it.”

          Pilots will wear helmets equipped with a projector screen displaying data on a transparent safety visor across their eyes. They’ll be able to see the colored gates and boundary markers with those hi tech racer helmets developed for military use by the Israel-based defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd.

           From accounts in TechNewsDaily, this new system doesn’t have to look pretty because it’s capable of laying the “wow” factor on you. Viewers will see these colorful gates and boundaries and when pilots successfully fly through them they’ll light up screens with “a beautiful cascade of fireworks,” according to D’Angelo.
          Try to imagine rockets executing aerobatic loops and rolls at 300 miles-per-hour. The pilots will fly a specially equipped Cessna 402B plane. The new Rocket Racing League feels they will be ready to become the airborn version of NASCAR or Formula 1 racing by late 2011.

          I want to emphasize that these will be real races. Well, sort of. They’re designed to make you think you’re at real rocket races. I can see where this augmented reality is going,  and it’s no surprise. “Imagine a virtual billboard in the sky,” D’Angelo gushed, “you could have a thousand-foot Coke can for advertising.”

          As It Stands, virtual raceways may attract some speed enthusiasts, but I wonder how they’ll stack up against all the other forms of racing in the real world? 

          Online at the Times-Standard

          GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

          Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...