Author Archive | majestic

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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Changing Our DNA through Mind Control?

Marguerite Agniel in a Buddha position with her legs crossed Wellcome V0048585.jpg

Marguerite Agniel, photo from Wellcome Library (CC)

A study finds meditating cancer patients are able to affect the makeup of their DNA, reports Scientific American:

“I think, therefore I am” is perhaps the most familiar one-liner in western philosophy. Even if the stoners, philosophers and quantum mechanically-inclined skeptics who believe we’re living an illusion are right, few existential quips hit with such profound, approachable simplicity.  The only catch is that in Descartes’ opinion, “we” – our thoughts, our personalities, our “minds” – are mostly divorced from our bodies.

The polymathic Frenchman and other dualist philosophers proposed that while the mind exerts control over our physical interaction with the world, there is a clear delineation between body and mind; that our material forms are simply temporary housing for our immaterial souls. But centuries of science argue against a corporeal crash pad. The body and mind appear inextricably linked. And findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on us – more specifically on our DNA.

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American Wealth Gap Climbs To New Record

Income inequality in the United States continues to surge, with the wealth of upper-income households rising to nearly seven times that of middle-class ones, reports the Los Angeles Times:

The wealth gap between middle- and upper-income households has widened to the highest level on record, says a new report.

Using the latest Federal Reserve data, the Pew Research Center said Wednesday that the median wealth for high-income families was $639,400 last year — up 7% from three years earlier on an inflation-adjusted basis.

For middle-income families, the median wealth — that is, assets minus debts — stood at $96,500 last year, unchanged from 2010.

The result is that the typical wealth of the nation’s upper-income households last year was nearly seven times that of middle-class ones. By Pew’s calculations, that is the biggest gap in the 30 years that the Fed has been collecting statistics from its Survey of Consumer Finances.

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North Korea, Sony, and America’s First Losing Cyberwar

The Interview 2014 poster.jpg

I’ve been hooked on the various salacious disclosures from the hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Reading what studio executives really think of their star actors and producers is better than TMZ can make up, and the true financial performance of various movies would never, ever be disclosed outside the C-suite if not for the Pastebin uploads. The real-life plot starring North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, his supposed superhackers, Seth Rogen and the heads of Sony also reads like a sequel to The Orphan Master’s Son. But is it too good to be true? Wired pours some cold water on the fire:

Today Sony canceled the premiere of “The Interview” and its entire Christmas-Day release of the movie because of fears that terrorists might attack theaters showing the film.

The actions show just how much power the attackers behind the Sony hack have amassed in a short time. But who exactly are they?

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New York Bans Fracking

Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow croppedWhat is this, good news day? Just a dream? Governor Andrew Cuomo follows President Obama’s decision to open up to Cuba with a ban on fracking in New York State, reports the New York Times:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the controversial method of natural gas extraction.

State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.

That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by Mr. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

The question of whether to allow fracking has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, pitting environmentalists against others who saw it as a critical way to bring jobs to economically stagnant portions of upstate.

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United States Ends Decades of Hostility to Cuba

You have to hand it to President Barack Obama, he’s not buying into the lame-duck presidency forecast for him in the wake of Republicans taking control of Congress. This time he’s re-opening diplomatic ties with Cuba. CNN reports on the breaking news:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions on the nation, an historic shift he called the end of an “outdated approach” to U.S.-Cuban relations.

Obama said he’s instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, and that the U.S. will re-open an embassy in Havana. The administration will also allow some travel and trade that had been banned under a decades-long embargo instated during the Kennedy administration.

“Neither the American nor Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” Obama said.

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Congress Ends Federal Government’s Ban on Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is now legal in 32 states and the District of Columbia without threat of federal prosecution, reports the Los Angeles Times:

Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy.

The bill’s passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana.

Under the provision, states where medical pot is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.

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By BruceBlaus, Blausen.com staff (CC)

The Obama administration has largely followed that rule since last year as a matter of policy. But the measure approved as part of the spending bill, which President Obama plans to sign this week, will codify it as a matter of law.

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Tom Ford’s Phallus Shaped Crucifix Necklace Released in Time for Christmas; Outraged Christians Blast ‘Sick’ Pendant

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(C) Tom Ford

Surely designer crucidicks are on your Christmas wish list? Or not, perhaps, if you are one of the outraged Christians protesting the new Tom Ford penis pendant, as reported by Christian Post:

Flamboyant fashion designer Tom Ford sparked outrage recently following the launch of his new collection of phallic crucifix necklaces.

The pendant is shaped like a phallus and resembles a crucifix. Outraged Christians have blasted the unusual jewelry as “blasphemous,” with some even calling it an attack on Christianity.

The necklace is available in either silver or 18-karat white gold, according to Ford’s website, and it comes in small, medium and large sizes. It is priced at $790 and has come just in time for Christmas, which has fueled even more outrage.

“This, ladies and gents, is the epitome of blasphemy against Christ Jesus,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Just in time for Christmas, a way to say “screw Christ,” the Savior of the World.

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HOAX! The High School Investment Genius Lied, Didn’t Make $72 Million

Even though New York City’s Stuyvesant High School has more than its fair share of highly intelligent students, it did seem a stretch that one of them could have made $72 Million trading stocks, as was widely reported over the last few days. The New York Observer reveals it was a hoax:

It’s been a tough month for factchecking. After the Rolling Stone campus rape story unraveled, readers of all publications can be forgiven for questioning the process by which Americans get our news. And now it turns out that another blockbuster story is —to quote its subject in an exclusive Observer interview—”not true.”

Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”

Stuyvesant HS

And now it turns out, the real number is … zero.

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