Articles by Raymond

From Global Post: It’s been a bad couple of days for Belgium. On Thursday the government collapsed, plunging the country into a renewed political turmoil; politicians from the French-speaking south and Flemish…


A brazen prankster claimed he was raped by a whale and gave his name as Ben Dover during one of many hoax calls to the emergency services.

Daniel Hammond made nuisance calls for eight months, telling busy emergency operators he lived in Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

On one occasion, he reported that his manhood fell off because he smoked too much weed and was struggling to have sex.

Another time, the lanky 21-year-old impersonated Saddam Hussein and claimed he hid a bomb on a train, a court in Sevenoaks, England, was told.

Prosecutor James Nichols said Hammond enjoyed the thrill of wasting the emergency services’ time with his bizarre and persistent tales.

The court was told that Hammond was caught when he called to report threats he claimed he was receiving, and police recognised his mobile phone number.

From the Telegraph:

YouTube, the online video site, marks its fifth year this week. Here are some of the key staging posts in its history.

February 2005: YouTube founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim begin work on a video sharing site — they all met at PayPal.

April 2005: First video uploaded to YouTube — a video of Jawed at San Diego Zoo

November 2005: YouTube secures first round of funding with Sequoia Capital for $3.5m

December 2005: Official Launch (8m videos watched a day)

February 2006: 15m videos watched a day; 20,000 uploaded a day

May 2006: Mobile video uploads released

July 2006: 65,000 new videos uploaded every day, site passes 100m video views per day

For those of us who weren’t able to “stay up” on the recent health care battles in Washington as they were happening, here’s a very concise overview from PBS Frontline.

A sobering look at the push to reform health care, revealing the realities of American politics, the power of special interest groups and the role of money in policy making.

From The Raw Story:

Texas Rep. Ron Paul proved once again Saturday that his politics continue to divide the Republican Party.He was met with both disapproval and applause during the Southern Republican Leadership Conference for describing conservatives as hypocritical when they call for a return to Constitutional values while supporting foreign wars.

The conservatives and the liberals, they both like to spend. Conservatives spend money on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases.

Don’t you think it’s rather conservative to say, ‘Oh it’s good to follow the Constitution. Oh, except for war. Let the President go to war anytime they want.’ We can do better with peace than with war.

From the New York Post: With great costumes comes great responsibility. “Kick-Ass,” an action movie opening this week, spins a tale of average Joes becoming masked crime fighters, but New York has…

From the Independent:

Afghanistan, already the world’s top opium supplier, is now the world’s biggest producer of cannabis, according to United Nations drug experts.

There is large-scale cultivation of the drug in half of the country, resulting in 3,500 tons of hashish worth an estimated £61m annually, according to the first assessment of cannabis in Afghanistan by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. It warns that the threat from the drug needs to be dealt with to deny the Taliban the millions they make in protection taxes paid by farmers and drug smugglers.

The focus on opium has resulted in cannabis being overlooked, according to Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of UNODC. “A concentration of cultivation in the southern part of Afghanistan shows that the Taliban and those insurgents that control the southern parts of the country are not only funding themselves by trafficking opium but also by trafficking cannabis. It’s the same area.”

From Fortean Times: Dominating the Freemasons’ Hall’s new exhibition, Freemasonry and the French Revolution, a giant chair, all puffed up with majesty and pomp, looms over the display cases — an effect…

From Reuters:

Tens of millions of Mexicans could find their cellphones disconnected this weekend if the government goes ahead with a new law meant to fight crime by forcing people to register their identities.

Advertisements on government radio and television have been urging Mexicans for weeks to register their cellphones by sending their personal details as a text message, but on Thursday 30 million lines remained unregistered as the Saturday deadline neared.

Analysts said that any related losses for Mexico’s largest wireless operator, America Movil, would be tiny relative to the company’s overall sales.

Still, America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, is urging senators to extend the deadline for implementing the law, passed a year ago to try to stop criminals from using cellphones for extortion and to negotiate ransoms in kidnappings.