Archive | July 2, 2013

Egypt: The Revolution Continues…

The video below is one of the bonus interviews on the DVD of the documentary We Are Egypt in which Esraa and Basem share their memories of the January/February 2011 Revolution, which at the time of this interview had taken place two months prior.

These two young people had been at the forefront of Egyptian democracy and human rights activism for nearly a decade before the uprising against Mubarak in 2011, and in this segment they share emotional accounts about how it felt to finally see Mubarak leave. Even while celebrating their victory back in April 2011 when this interview was shot, these seasoned activists demonstrate intuitive foresight about potential challenges ahead, many of which continue to take place to this day as more than two years later Egyptians move to ouster Mubarak’s second replacement since 2011. I spoke with Basem yesterday on the phone and he explained to me that while it may appear like a losing battle at times, progress is constant, as each time Egyptians take to the streets in protest, they discover more and more the power they hold as a People.… Read the rest

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We Must Learn to Love Uncertainty and Failure, Say Leading Thinkers

uncertaintyAlok Jha writing at the Guardian, from 2011:

Being comfortable with uncertainty, knowing the limits of what science can tell us, and understanding the worth of failure are all valuable tools that would improve people’s lives, according to some of the world’s leading thinkers.

The ideas were submitted as part of an annual exercise by the web magazine Edge, which invites scientists, philosophers and artists to opine on a major question of the moment. This year it was, “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?”

The magazine called for “shorthand abstractions” – a way of encapsulating an idea or scientific concept into a short description that could be used as a component of bigger questions. The responses were published online today.

Many responses pointed out that the public often misunderstands the scientific process and the nature of scientific doubt. This can fuel public rows over the significance of disagreements between scientists about controversial issues such as climate change and vaccine safety.

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1984 All Over Again

1984In the wake of the NSA/Snowden revelations, and the general sense of paranoia that has taken grip of the news cycle and the internet, a few pundits have assumed the roles of cultural watchdogs, taking the pulse of public taste to measure the effect of the spooky news on the hearts and minds of the people.

A number of journalists and commentators have noted that one possible side effect of the recently-revealed government snooping on personal communications has been a spike in the sales of the George Orwell classic 1984 on the mega-book-selling-site, Amazon. But, how big is the sales spike and how much of it can be attributed to Snowden’s bravery in the face of the NSA’s dubious doings? This article at Slate offers a measured interpretation:

Sales of one particular edition of George Orwell’s dystopian classic are up some 5,000 percent on Amazon.com in the past 24 hours, according to the site’s list of “movers and shakers.” The figure was as high as 7,000 earlier today.Read the rest

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Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal [CSICON]

Csicon-Logo

Pope Bob, one of Disinfo’s Patron saints. Six years done and gone but no way forgotten. Spectacles, testicles, brandy, cigars — you’re all popes! via The Robert Anton Wilson Website

Wilson describes himself as a “guerilla ontologist,” signifying his intent to ATTACK language and knowledge the way terrorists ATTACK their targets: to jump out from the shadows for an unprovoked ATTACK, then slink back and hide behind a hearty belly-laugh. – Robert Sheaffer, The Skeptical Inquirer, Summer 1990

Dublin, 1986.
I had given a talk to the Irish Science-Fiction Society and the question period began.

“Do you believe in UFOs?” somebody asked.

“Yes, of course,” I answered.

The questioner, who looked quite young, then burst into a long speech, “proving” at least to his own satisfaction that all UFOs “really are” sun-dogs or heat inversions. When he finally ran down I simply replied,

“Well, we both agree that UFOs exist.

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Thirteen Year-Old Wrestler Sexually Assaulted with Pencil in Brutal Hazing Incident

Hazing

Picture: Anti-Hazing poster by Auburn University (C)

Janet Allon writes at AlterNet:

In tiny Norwood, Colorado, a state high-school wrestling tournament turned into a nightmare for one of the team’s youngest members, when the 13-year-old was cornered, bound with duct tape and sodomized with a pencil, in what was called a “hazing” incident.

More outrageous still, is that this was only the beginning of the trauma he endured, after reporting the attack. He was bullied, ostracized, and humiliated on Facebook. Supporters of his attackers wore T-shirts supporting them, two of whom just happened to be sons of the wrestling coach, Robert Harris, according to the Denver Post. Just to add another strange wrinkle to this sad tale, the victim was the son of the school’s principal, begging the question: If he’s not safe, who is?

Sexual assault as part of brutal hazing rituals for sports teams is on the rise, with more than 40 high school boys reporting being sodomized by foreign objects by teammates in the last year.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Sues FBI For Access To Facial Recognition Records

facial recognitionThe Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals:

Since early 2011, EFF has been closely following the FBI’s work to build out its Next Generation Identification (NGI) biometrics database. The EEF today filed a lawsuit to compel the FBI to produce records to satisfy three outstanding Freedom of Information Act requests that EFF submitted one year ago to shine light on the program and its face-recognition components.

The new program will include multiple biometric identifiers, such as iris scans, palm prints, face recognition-ready photos, and voice data, and that information will be shared with other agencies at the local, state, federal and international levels. The face recognition component is set to launch in 2014.

“NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes,” says EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “Face-recognition technology is among the most alarming new developments, because Americans cannot easily take precautions against the covert, remote, and mass capture of their images.”

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Pedo Priest Don Patrizio Poggi Claims Vatican Rife With Prostitution and “Satanism”

Don Patrizio Poggi, convicted priest, tells authorities about an ex-policeman turned rentboy Vatican pimp.

via International Business Times UK

Italian investigators have opened an inquiry into claims by a convicted paedophile priest that an underage prostitution ring has been operating inside the Holy Roman Church with clergymen hiring rentboys for sex inside churches.

Don Patrizio Poggi, 46, told Italian authorities that a former Carabinieri pimped boys for nine clergymen.

Poggi, who served a five-year sentence for abusing teenage boys while he was a parish priest at the San Filippo Neri church in Rome, said he made the allegations to “protect the Holy Church and the Christian community.”

The boys were chosen because they were starving and desperate, he claimed, according to Il Messaggero newspaper.

The former policeman used to recruit the boys, mostly eastern European immigrants, outside a gay bar named Twink near Rome’s Termini train station.

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In Search of the Honey Island Swamp Monster

In March of 2009 I traveled to Louisiana on a quest to find the Honey Island Swamp Monster. While I cannot claim to have photographed the elusive beast, I did tour the Honey Island Swamp in a small boat that allowed me to experience the creature’s pristine, primitive, habitat. Deep inside the cypress swamp, wildlife such as alligators, bald eagles, herons, egrets, and feral hogs coexist in one of the country’s most unique and untouched environments. Getting to the Honey Island Swamp is not easy and without a guide, it could be downright dangerous. The marsh is an hour or so drive from New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish and is bordered by U.S. 90, the Pearl River, Lake Borgne, and the West Pearl River.

The Honey Island Swamp Monster legend was born in 1974 when Harlan Ford, a retired air traffic controller and wildlife photographer, encountered the seven foot tall bipedal creature he dubbed the “Honey Island Swamp Monster”, also called “Tainted Keitre” by the Cajuns.… Read the rest

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U.S. Army Restricts Troops’ Access To The Guardian Newspaper Website

guardian newspaper website Soldiers will not be allowed to catch up on Glenn Greenwald’s column in The Guardian Newspaper during their spare time. Reported first by the Monterey County Herald:

The Army admitted Thursday to not only restricting access to the Guardian news website at the Presidio of Monterey, as reported in Thursday’s Herald, but Armywide. Presidio employees said the site had been blocked since the Guardian broke stories on data collection by the National Security Agency.

Gordon Van Vleet, spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks.”

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative “network hygiene” measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

The Guardian’s website has classified documents about the NSA’s program of monitoring phone records of Verizon customers, a project called Prism which gave the agency “direct access” to data held by Google, Facebook, Apple and others, and more.

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Baby Boomers Snarfing Adderall Like Its Cocaine

Photo:  FtWashGuy (CC)

Photo: FtWashGuy (CC)

High school and college kids have been complaining about shortages of their favorite “study” drugs Ritalin and Adderall over the last couple of years; was the shortage really because the baby boomers decided they could use a little more “focus” too? Sandy Hingston suggests they may be the new drugs of choice for her generation, writing in PhillyMag:

It’s been 25 years since I last ingested an illegal substance. In all that time, I haven’t gotten so much as a parking ticket. I raised two kids—one an Eagle Scout, the other Phi Beta Kappa. I was a Girl Scout leader and a Touchdown Club mom. I stayed married to the same man.

The capsule is orange on the bottom, clear on the top. The pellets inside are dead ringers for the sprinkles I put on Christmas cookies. I set the capsule on my tongue, take a sip from a water bottle.

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