Author Archive | majestic

Minecraft Swatting Arrest: 13-Year-Old Teen Busted

Somehow you know that the current swatting craze is going to end with a tabloid tragedy. New Media Rockstars reports on the Minecraft swatter who’s making headlines (and on his way to juvenile court):

A 13-year-old Camarillo, Calif. teen has been arrested for swatting at least three different people, including a Minecraft rival.

SWAT Team Members Will Roll

According to Kotaku, “The boy made two of the calls to nearby addresses, one for his teacher, another targeted at a ‘female classmate.’ The third call, however, was to New Jersey, aimed at what Ars Technica reports was a ‘rival Minecraft gamer’.”

Police were allegedly already investigating the boy for one of the instances in which he used his computer to anonymously call in a “domestic terrorism” complaint to the police department at the home of one of his enemies. Because of the threat for real violence, the SWAT team (hence the term “Swatting”) must respond to these sorts of calls, even though, by now this “prank” is known, cliché, and tired…

[continues at New Media Rockstars]

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How Scientology Controls John Travolta and Tom Cruise

According to ‘Going Clear’, that is. From the Washington Post (which annoyingly refers to Scientology as a church as opposed to a nutty Sci-Fi cult):

HBO hired 160 lawyers when the network decided to air “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” the two-hour documentary based on Lawrence Wright’s book. This makes sense when you watch the film, directed by Alex Gibney, which aired Sunday night. Ex-Church of Scientology members and officials reveal secrets of the organization, and tell horror stories of psychological and physical abuse during their time in the controversial religion — and after they escaped. (For the record, the church unleashed a series of attack ads against the film and says that it’s “bigoted propaganda” and ” built on falsehoods invented by admitted liars.”)

One particularly fascinating subject that the documentary tackles is the relationship between celebrities and the church, which has been well-documented particularly with two of its most famous members: John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
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The Stock Market Is Rigged

John Crudele is one of the curmudgeons of financial reporting and in his regular column for the New York Post he confirms what many regular Joes have been thinking:

The stock market is rigged.

When I started making that claim years ago — and provided solid evidence — people scoffed. Some called it a conspiracy theory, tinfoil hats and that sort of stuff. Most people just ignored me.

But that’s not happening anymore. The dirty secret is out.

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New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Mika-93 (CC)

 

With stock prices rushing far ahead of economic reality over the last six or so years, more experts in the financial markets are coming to the same conclusion — even if they don’t fully understand how it’s being rigged or the consequences.

Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru who isn’t one of the clowns of the bunch, said flat out last week that the market was being propped up.

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New streaming apps could boost citizen journalism

If any disinfonauts are live streamers let us know via twitter (@disinfo) so we can let the rest of y’all know to check you out. AFP via Yahoo News says you’re the future of citizen journalism:

When three buildings collapsed and ignited a blaze in New York, a smartphone app brought the live video feed to anyone online wanting to watch.

The disaster took place, coincidentally, the same day as the launch of Twitter’s new livestream app Periscope, which became a window for the breaking news event.

The event showed how Periscope and rival app Meerkat, which can deliver live video through Twitter to anyone online, could become an important tool for citizen journalism.

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By feeding live video through Twitter to anyone online, these apps eliminate the need to upload to YouTube or transfer to broadcasters like CNN to get a wide audience.

While social media has empowered citizen journalism for years, the use of live video could become a powerful tool for these reporters and change the way people get news.

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Inmates Drink Ayahuasca As Therapy In Brazilian Prison

Imagine this: a prison system that actually wants to turn its inmates into better people. As unlikely as that might seem in a world where the prison-industrial complex is spreading its dark shadow worldwide, in Brazil one prison is actually trying to send back prisoners to society as improved people by treating them with ayahuasca (for more information on ayahuasca review our archive). The New York Times reports from:

JI-PARANÁ, Brazil — As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough.

Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

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The foul brew: Ayahuasca. Photo by Sascha Grabow (CC)

 

Such rituals are a fixture across the Amazon, where ayahuasca has been consumed for centuries and entire religions have coalesced around the psychedelic concoction.

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The Hedge Clippers: Exposing Hedge Fund Politics

The Hedge Clippers are taking up where Occupy Wall Street left off, picketing the homes and meeting places of prominent hedge fund titans, reports the New York Times:

Two weeks ago, several busloads of New Yorkers made a pilgrimage to Greenwich, Conn., to visit the waterfront estate of the hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones II, where, suffice it to say, they were not invited in to see the china. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and the protesters, many of them ordinary working people who have felt cheated by the inequities of a tax system that favors the rarefied few, were there to call attention to Mr. Jones’s educational agenda, built on the premise that theextravagantly rich know better how to teach reading, and to his support of Republican candidates and causes in the New York State Legislature that disadvantage the poor and working class.

hedge clippers

It is this kind of political spending, a total of $1.6 million over the past 12 years, they maintain, that undermines his philanthropic efforts through the Robin Hood Foundation, the poverty-fighting charity he created.

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The Hotly Contested Link Between Science Denial and Conspiracy Theories

Interesting link between denial of science and predilection for conspiracy theories via the Washington Post:

In 2013, the University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers containing a provocative claim: A tendency to endorse conspiracy theories, they suggested, makes people more likely to challenge various aspects of science, too. Across the two papers, they linked conspiratorial beliefs to science rejection on no less than five issues: climate change, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, and the ties between HIV and AIDS and smoking and lung cancer.

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Since then, the research has been widely discussed and criticized — particularly the conclusion about climate science rejection — and now, the intensity of the debate seems set to go up yet another notch. The reason is that the journal Psychological Science has just published two papers on the matter: one, a statistical critique of the Lewandowsky papers, and the other a response from Lewandowsky and his co-authors (also discussed in a blog post here).

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Guerrilla Radio: How some prison inmates hack, rewire, and retool their radios to create walkie-talkies

Take notes from this Marshall Project post: you’ll want to retool your radio too come the Apocalypse:

Prisoners face numerous restrictions when communicating with one another or the outside world. But where there is a rule, there is often a workaround. At Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California, inmates have yelled to one another through drainpipes under their cells; inmates in Texas talk through cans connected with twine; and in facilities throughout the country, little paper notes — known as “kites” — are literally handed off. As technology has developed, so have the communication methods; cell phones and iPods are regularly smuggled to inmates by visitors and guards. And occasionally, the technology is already inside the prison. Some inmates have learned how to transform their radios into devices that allow them to talk to each other and even eavesdrop on guards.

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Once an inmate has purchased an analog radio from the prison commissary (they usually cost less than $30), he can open it up and pull apart a coil, which changes the range of frequency that the radio can access.

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U.S. Army’s JADE HELM 15 Exercises Ignite Conspiracy Theories

The Army’s plans to conduct military exercises outside the confines of military bases in Texas has the usual suspects (um, Alex Jones and his InfoWarriors) decrying a military coup, or something like that.

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The Houston Chronicle reports, somewhat more calmly:

Plans for a 17-city Army Special Operations exercise in Texas stirred some ultra-right-wing fears of a government takeover in the Lone Star State, but local law enforcement say they’ve long been aware of the drill.

Operation Jade Helm will bring a coalition of forces, including the Green Berets, SEALS, and special operations commands from the Air Force and Marines to Texas for two months of “realistic military training” in a simulated “hostile” territory between July and September this summer.

Army Special Operation Command spokesman Mark Lastoria said soldiers would practice “emerging concepts in special operations warfare” in Texas.

“Training exercise Jade Helm is going to assist our Special Operations Soldiers in refining the skills needed against an ever changing foreign threat,” he said.

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NASA Wants To Give The Moon A Moon

Why on earth would NASA want to give the Moon its own moon? Wired reports:

It sounds almost like a late ’90s sci-fi flick: NASA sends a spacecraft to an asteroid, plucks a boulder off its surface with a robotic claw, and brings it back in orbit around the moon. Then, brave astronaut heroes go and study the space rock up close—and bring samples back to Earth.

Except it’s not a movie: That’s the real-life idea for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which NASA announced today. Other than simply being an awesome space version of the claw arcade game (you know you really wanted that stuffed Pikachu), the mission will let NASA test technology and practice techniques needed for going to Mars.

The mission, which will cost up to $1.25 billion, is slated to launch in December 2020. It will take about two years to reach the asteroid (the most likely candidate is a quarter-mile-wide rock called 2008 EV5).

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