Archive | March, 2013
Ohio man Michael Blevins, 62, has been arrested and charged for harming a robot. Is this the next logical news item we should expect to see in a world with cybernetic hate crime?
Via Noel Brinkerhoff of AllGov:
[Blevins] was holed up in his home in Waverly, intoxicated and armed with multiple firearms, when police responded to reports of shots being fired inside the residence.
Wanting to avoid a confrontation, local police sent two surveillance robots inside the home to find Blevins. Upon seeing the larger of the two robots, Blevins opened fire and damaged the roving technology.
Police later stormed the house and used an electronic stun gun to subdue and then apprehend Blevins without any human getting hurt.
He now faces two felony counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance and vandalism of government property, among other charges.
Via CBS News, how the end of the world begins:
Officials say a vial containing a virus that can cause hemorrhagic fever has gone missing from a research facility in Galveston, but say there’s no reason to believe there’s a threat to the public. Officials suspect the missing vial containing the Guanarito virus was destroyed during the lab’s cleaning process but the investigation continues.
The University of Texas Medical Branch branch says the virus, native to Venezuela, is transmitted only through contact with Venezuelan rats. It is not believed to be able to survive in U.S. rodents or to be transmitted person-to-person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was immediately notified after the vial was discovered missing Wednesday.
So claims an article in the country’s paper of record. The point is that fighting a war on drugs will become increasingly surreal as the ways in which people get high multiply. From Der Spiegel:
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“Toad-licking, that’s the latest thing,” says Willi Stier, a police officer from Mannheim. He points to a photo of the toad he’s referring to, a stocky creature from America that can be ordered online.
The toad has glands that can be induced to secrete a psychoactive substance with squeezing. Young people pass the animals around at parties like joints. “Get high, have fun,” says the police officer.
Stier says that some 80 to 90 new drugs have spread in recent years. He believes that 28 new substances were classified under Germany’s narcotics law over the last year, but there are more than that. “Drug users look for alternative products or modify the recipes, keeping themselves a step ahead of lawmakers,” says Stier.
What’s a poor farmer supposed to do when his or her land is caught up in an investment bubble? Via The American:
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Farmers have been taking on mounting debt, creating an unsustainable increase in land prices and risking a crash that would ripple through our economy.
Eeyore should have been a farmer. It’s almost impossible to find a farmer happy about his situation. The weather’s too hot, cold, wet, or dry, and prices are too low or too high, depending on whether we’re buying or selling. We can’t, at least in front of our peers, admit to prosperity or even the chance of prosperity. Although we’d never admit it at the local coffee shop, the last few years have been good, at least for Midwestern grain farmers. Prices have been strong — strong enough to make up for much of the production lost to last year’s drought. That’s terrible news for livestock producers, who’ve been faced with drought-damaged pastures and high feed costs, but for farmers producing corn and soybeans, it has been a profitable few years.
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Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells using natural substrates derived from plants such as trees. Just as importantly, by fabricating them on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, the solar cells can be quickly recycled in water at the end of their lifecycle.The technology is published in the journal Scientific Reports, the latest open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.
The researchers report that the organic solar cells reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7 percent, an unprecedented figure for cells on substrates derived from renewable raw materials. The CNC substrates on which the solar cells are fabricated are optically transparent, enabling light to pass through them before being absorbed by a very thin layer of an organic semiconductor. During the recycling process, the solar cells are simply immersed in water at room temperature. Within only minutes, the CNC substrate dissolves and the solar cell can be separated easily into its major components.
Richard (R.J.) Eskow writes at Alternet:
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Can 147 people perpetuate economic injustice – and make it even worse? Can they subvert the workings of democracy, both abroad and here in the United States? Can 147 people hijack the global economy, plunder the environment, build a world for themselves that serves the few and deprives the many?
There must be some explanation for last week’s economic madness. Take a look:
Cyprus: The European Union acted destructively – and self-destructively – when it tried to seize a portion of the insured savings accounts of the citizens of Cyprus. They were telling anyone with a savings account in the financially troubled nations of the Eurozone: Forget your guaranteed deposits. If we need your money in order to bail out the big banks – banks which have already gambled recklessly with it – we’ll take it.
That didn’t just create a political firestorm in Cyprus. It threatened the European Union’s banking system, and perhaps the Union itself.
We’ve all been told that the Salem witch trials – in which twenty people were put to death – were the low point in the judicial history of North America. Now a former Maryland prosecutor has reexamined the famous trials to conclude that – while the condemned may not have possessed supernatural powers – an evaluation of the evidence presented in court does indicate that at least some were, indeed, guilty of witchcraft.
In his new book, William Cooke “separates the morality of criminalizing witchcraft from the job of the colonial courts.” Though he believes outlawing witchcraft is an infringement of freedom of religion, it should be the colonial legislative – not judicial – authorities that are the subject of contemporary ire.
In an interview with Parapolitical, Cooke also explains how the witch trials at Salem helped evolve the legal system we have today.
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PARAPOLITICAL: One interesting case in the Salem trials involves Giles Corey who was pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea on a charge of being a warlock.