Tennessee Town Passes Policy Banning Negative Comments About The Town’s Government

via Tech Dirt:

The commissioners of a small Tennessee town have just voted to ban negative comments about it from social media. This stupid move was prompted by “criticism and lies” being posted online, which supposedly “hampered” the town’s government from performing its duties.

South Pittsburg City is a town of 3,000. This fact will limit the damage done by its city commissioners’ new policy (which passed with 4-1 vote), but only because the town itself is tiny.The ban, however, is super-broad. (via Ben Swann and BRACE YOURSELF for always-awesome AUTOPLAY)

It applies to all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks. The policy says those persons can’t post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates.

Examples include posted videos, blogs, online forum discussions, Facebook and Twitter, Commissioner Jeff Powers said.

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NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, "Cumberland." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, “Cumberland.” Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

via Nasa from December 16:

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.

“This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”

Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere.

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Is This a Dream? The Hitchhikers’ Guide to Lucid Dreaming

via Good Times Weekly:

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams.

“Are you dreaming right now?” asks science writer and dream researcher David Jay Brown. We are sitting in the ivy-draped courtyard of Laili, next to a babbling fountain and a rowdy dinner party of 10.

“No!” I say, sure of the answer to such an absurd question.

“But how do you know?” he asks.

“I just know.”

“Well, have you tested it?” He picks up a fork and taps the wall. In a dream, maybe the tines would bend, he says. In a dream, the words on the menu would scramble the minute you looked away and looked back again. And if you plugged your nose and breathed out, you’d feel the air leaving your nostrils, even though they were plugged.

“Nope, not dreaming,” I say, through a pinched nose. But there’s an epiphany scratching around inside his point: even when fork tines bend with no effort and landscapes transform at the mere suggestion of thought, we accept what we’re experiencing in a dream as real.

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The CIA Experimented on Human Beings

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“Reframing the CIA’s interrogation techniques as a violation of scientific and medical ethics may be the best way to achieve accountability,” writes Lisa Hajjar at The Nation:

Human experimentation was a core feature of the CIA’s torture program. The experimental nature of the interrogation and detention techniques is clearly evident in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its investigative report, despite redactions (insisted upon by the CIA) to obfuscate the locations of these laboratories of cruel science and the identities of perpetrators.

At the helm of this human experimentation project were two psychologists hired by the CIA, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They designed interrogation and detention protocols that they and others applied to people imprisoned in the agency’s secret “black sites.”

In its response to the Senate report, the CIA justified its decision to hire the duo: “We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program.” Mitchell and Jessen’s qualifications did not include interrogation experience, specialized knowledge about Al Qaeda or relevant cultural or linguistic knowledge.

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Ending Torture One Dick At a Time

DonkeyHotey (CC BY-SA 2.0)

DonkeyHotey (CC BY-SA 2.0)

John Grant writes at CounterPunch:

CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.

The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogen and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.

Rogan and Franco have a good track record at getting money for movies that break taboos. Both are actor/directors not queasy about biological functions. Rogan co-directed the movie The Interview that caused an international incident by having an actor play the real Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and, among all the dick jokes, exploding his head into biological goo; and Franco just directed an excellent film called Child Of God based on a Cormac McCarthy novel in which a mentally ill, homeless redneck is shown from behind cleaning his dirty ass crack with a stick and, later, having sex with a female corpse for whom he has purchased a red dress.

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EU Rules Obesity Can Count As Disability

Just when you thought that the obese were the last large class of people left unprotected by discrimination laws, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled that if the obesity of a worker “hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers”, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability.” From BBC News:

Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU’s highest court has ruled.

The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat.

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Photo Fj.toloza992 (CC)

The court said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability.

The ruling is binding across the EU…

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, comments:

Today’s ruling was of great interest to employers across Europe. The judgement makes no direct link between Body Mass Index and obesity, but is a powerful statement that an obese worker whose weight hinders their performance at work is entitled to disability protection.

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Double amputee controls two robotic arms with his mind

via Engadget:

Here’s one other DARPA-funded robotic limb controlled by thoughts alone — actually make that two, because Colorado man Les Baugh had two bionic arms attached from shoulder level. Baugh got them this summer, 40 years after losing both arms, as part of aRevolutionizing Prosthetics Program test run at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The project’s researchers have been developing these Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPL) over the past decade, but they say Baugh is the “first bilateral shoulder-level amputee” to wear two MPLs at the same time. Unlike Jan Scheuermann who controlled a robotic arm with a pair of neural implants, though, Baugh had to undergo a procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation, which reassigned the nerves that once controlled his arms and hands.

Read More: http://www.engadget.com/2014/12/18/double-amputee-mind-controlled-robot-arms

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Remarkable Stories of Humans Who Hibernated

Shane Gorski (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Shane Gorski (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Mysterious Universe:

In the winter of 1981, teenager Jean Hilliard was on her way home at around midnight when the family car she was driving ran off the road near Lengby, Minnesota. Unable to free the vehicle, she made the dangerous decision to leave the car on foot, and attempt to walk to the nearby home of her friend, Wally Nelson.

Hilliard trudged along in the snow, her cowboy boots slipping occasionally and slowing her progress. She began to grow tired, and was nearly to the point of collapsing by the time she could see the shape of Wally’s home off in the distance.

Whether or not Hilliard could make it or not in those final moments may have been far from her mind, but there in the frigid early morning hours, she collapsed into the snow, only 15 feet from Nelson’s front door.

The following morning, Wally was leaving his home at approximately 7 am when he saw Hilliard’s body in the snow.

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Here Are The Companies That Want To Charge You $2,500-$100,000 For Negative Reviews

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via Tech Dirt:

Geek gadget also-ran KlearGear gained internet infamy thanks to the following paragraph tucked away on its “Terms of Sale and Use” page:

In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

Tacked onto this absurd redefining of “fair and honest feedback” was a $3,500 fee. This was levelled at a couple who complained about the non-delivery of products it had paid for. This went to court, and the couple was awarded over $300,000 in a default judgement when KlearGear no-showed.

For the most part, this would seem to be a cautionary tale — something other companies would take into consideration when crafting their own terms of service. But some companies are still apparently willing to dance with the Devil Streisand by including onerous fees tied to the phrase “fair and honest feedback.” Not only will the enforcement of this clause likely result in large amounts of public shaming, but in some states, this may actually be illegal.

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These 10 companies make a lot of the food we buy. Here’s how we made them better.

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via OxFam America:

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it’s true: There really are 10 companies that control most of the food and drinks you’ll find in the grocery store. Between them, these giants—whose revenues add up to more than a billion dollars a day—own hundreds of common brands, from Cheerios to Ben & Jerry’s, Odwalla to Tropicana. (See the infographic above to learn more.)

So why should these huge companies care about doing business responsibly? First, because their global operations touch countless lives. “These corporations are so powerful that their policies can have a major impact on the diets and working conditions of people worldwide, as well as on the environment,” wrote Alexander E.M. Hess in USA Today.

Second, because shoppers these days think about factors like fairness and sustainability—and we’re increasingly (and successfully) demanding that the brands we buy do the same. These food companies may be big, but no company is too big to listen to its customers.

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