Author Archive | majestic

The Fed’s Cold War Bunker Had $4 Billion Cash For After The Apocalypse

The 1970s fear of nuclear apocalypse has left us with some strange relics. Gizmodo uncovers the Culpeper Switch, where the Federal Reserve Bank stashed $4 Billion in cash so that even if Americans were stumbling around in a nuclear winter landscape, they’d still be in thrall to the banks:

New York and DC are piles of ash, but at least your checks are clearing. That was the idea behind the Culpeper Switch, a sprawling bunker built by the Federal Reserve to keep the banks running after nuclear apocalypse. But even some Cold War-era politicians thought it was silly.

MtPonyFedReserve.jpg

Former Federal Reserve bunker in Culpeper, VA (circa 1992).

The compound was built just outside the small town of Culpeper, Virginia, near Mount Pony, in 1969. The 135,000 square foot facility was officially called the Federal Reserve System’s Communications and Records Center, and it housed about $4 billion of American currency during the 1970s — currency sitting in what was reportedly the world’s largest single-floor vault at the time.

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The King of Bullsh*t News

Apparently unaware of the irony, Buzzfeed crowns Central European News (CEN) as the “King of Bullsh*t News”:

Last November, within a few hours of each other, some of the planet’s biggest news websites published an irresistible story. An attractive Argentinian teacher called Lucita Sandoval, from Santiago del Estero, had been having sex with her 16-year-old student, and the video of their tryst had made its way to a porn website. With its heady blend of titillation and depravity, it was the perfect tabloid scandal.

mirror

Websites including the Daily Mirror and Metro in the UK and the New York Daily News in the US duly published the story, alongside an image showing the teacher posing poolside in her bikini. “Teacher suspended after sex session with teen pupil ends up on hardcore porn website,” read the Mirror’s headline. The Daily Mail – the most successful English-language newspaper website in the world – even went so far as to claim that there would be a criminal investigation, and that this wasn’t the first time that the teacher in question had sexual relations with a student.

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Armenians Remember First Modern Genocide

Armenians are remembering what they deem the first modern genocide, 100 years ago at the hands of the Turks, reports USA Today. Needless to say, Turkey doesn’t see it quite the same way:

Armenians from around the globe are in Istanbul for Friday’s commemoration of what’s been called the first genocide of modern times, when up to 1.5 million Armenians died in the massacres and deportations that began in 1915.

Armenians marched by Turkish soldiers, 1915.png

Armenians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers. Kharpert, Armenia, Ottoman Empire, April, 1915

 

A century later, the bitterly contested history is hardly a thing of the past. Turkey continues to insist that the wartime killings were not genocide, while Armenians say Turkey’s denial is an affront to a core part of their national identity.

“There is a question of political recognition of the genocide, but ultimately, it’s about the Armenian story and history being incorporated into the collective memory of the countries where we live,” said Nicolas Tavitian, director of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, who flew in from Brussels for the centennial.

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Shooting Your Computer Is Just ‘Glorious’

Surely anyone who’s had the misfortune of owning a Windows PC has fantasized about getting rid of the damn thing. Permanently, possibly with some violence. Fulfilling that fantasy for us, a Colorado man was so peeved with his Dell computer that he shot it, eight times, with his 9mm pistol. He told the Los Angeles Times that it was sooooo worth getting a ticket for shooting his gun within city limits:

A Colorado man finally had enough of his troublesome computer Monday and did what pretty much everyone has fantasized about: He shot and killed it.

Photo: Colorado Springs Police Dept.

Photo: Colorado Springs Police Dept.

 

Lucas Hinch, 37, was issued a summons by Colorado Springs police after he shot his 2012 Dell XPS 410 eight times in an alley, police said.

“He was fed up with fighting his computer for the last several months,” according to the police log.

Under most circumstances, it is illegal to fire a gun in Colorado Springs, which is about 60 miles south of Denver.

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Vast Magma Reservoir Found Under Yellowstone National Park

Do you remember that one of the 2012 end times predictions was an eruption of the supercaldera under Yellowstone National Park? Needless to say, that didn’t happen, but that’s not to say it never will. Scientists have discovered a vast reservoir of molten magma under Yellowstone. Really vast. New Scientist reports on the implications:

A massive chamber holding enough magma to fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times over is hiding beneath the steaming volcanic system of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Yellowstone magma chamber.jpg

Yellowstone magma chamber

We knew of a smaller magma chamber closer to surface, holding some 10,000 cubic kilometres of magma and feeding heat upwards. The newly discovered reservoir sits under it and has a volume of 46,000 cubic kilometres. Together, the two form the largest known magma reservoir in the world.

“We can’t say definitively that this is the biggest magma reservoir in the world, but we currently don’t know of any other that has been imaged that is as large as the two we see beneath Yellowstone,” says Fan-Chi Lin of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

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Joseph Stiglitz’s Three Steps to Solve Income Inequality

Maverick economist Joseph Stiglitz says there are three steps we need to take to remedy extreme income inequality. He sells his ideas via Yahoo News:

It’s the hollowing out of the U.S. economy. The haves are getting more, the have nots are getting less.  And the middle class is disappearing.

Between 2000 and 2013, every single state in the United States saw its share of middle-class families shrink, according to analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts. In some states like Wisconsin and Ohio, that number fell by more than 5 percentage points; middle-income families now make up less than half of those states’ populations.

It’s not a new narrative but the modern story of inequality goes much deeper than stagnant wage growth. It’s inequality of opportunity as well.  It’s something Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has studied and written about a great deal. He talks with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in the video above.

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U.S. Government Says 148 Million Americans At Risk From Earthquakes

If we keep fracking 148 million will seem like a modest number from ancient history! Reuters carries the story of the many, many Americans officially at risk from earthquakes:

More than 143 million people in 48 neighboring states across the United States are at risk from earthquakes, experts said on Wednesday.

As many as 28 million people are likely to experience strong tremors in their lifetime and the value of building losses from earthquakes is estimated at $4.5 billion per year in the long term, the U.S. Geological Service (USGS), California Geological Survey and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a joint report.

USGS Simplified 2014 Hazard Map (PGA, 2% in 50 years)

USGS Simplified 2014 Hazard Map (PGA, 2% in 50 years)

 

“This analysis of data from the new National Seismic Hazard Maps reveals that significantly more Americans are exposed to earthquake shaking,” said Bill Leith, the report’s co-author and a senior science advisor at USGS.

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The NRA’s Brazen Shell Game

The National Rifle Association, or NRA, is one of those American institutions that people tend to either love or hate. According to this Yahoo News investigation, however, even those who love the NRA may balk at it’s brazen diversion of donations to political causes the donors never signed up for:

Occupy the NRA

Photo: Occupy Global (CC)

Early last summer I began making contributions to the National Rifle Association — a dollar here, a dollar there — to see where my money would end up. Some of it quickly found its way into the account of the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the NRA’s political action committee. And that was of no small interest, because I never knowingly contributed to the NRA-PVF. For me, this wasn’t a big problem; my contributions were a spit in the bucket for an organization that spent $37 million on the 2014 elections and operates on an annual budget of more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

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Homeless Millennials Are Transforming Hobo Culture

The culture of technology equipped homeless millennials is the focus of a long Newsweek story:

On Reddit, he’s /u/huckstah, an administrator on /r/vagabond, a subreddit with nearly 10,000 members—many of them identify as “homeless”—who trade skills and stories.  On “the road and the rails,” he’s Huck, and even after we speak twice by cellphone, he tells me he’d prefer I don’t print his real name. “People say, ‘Well, you chose to become homeless.’ But that’s wrong,” he says. Huck says he’s been a hobo for upward of 11 years and started hopping trains and hitching rides at 18. “I did not choose to become homeless. If you want to say I chose to become homeless and sleep on the streets, really all I have to say is fuck you. You’ve never experienced it.”

Homeless group

Photo: Franco Folini (CC)

Or maybe you have experienced it, thanks to the recent Great Recession that caused a spike in homelessness—especially for families—with its tidal wave of foreclosures.

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