Author Archive | majestic

Rapper Tiny Doo Facing Long Prison Sentence Over Lyrics

So now you can go to prison because of the lyrics of a song? In California, the answer may be “yes” reports CNN:

Song lyrics that glorify violence are hardly uncommon. But a prosecutor in California says one rapper’s violent lyrics go beyond creative license to conspiracy.

San Diego-based rapper Tiny Doo has already spent eight months in prison, and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a little-known California statute that makes it illegal to benefit from gang activities.

The statute in question is California Penal Code 182.5. The code makes it a felony for anyone to participate in a criminal street gang, have knowledge that a street gang has engaged in criminal activity, or benefit from that activity.

It’s that last part — benefiting from criminal activity — that prosecutors are going after the rapper for.

Tiny Doo, whose real name is Brandon Duncan, faces nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy because prosecutors allege he and 14 other alleged gang members increased their stature and respect following a rash of shootings in the city in 2013.

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Banker Suicides Continue

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ABN AMRO headquarters in Amsterdam.

Last year we ran stories about the unusually high number of suicides among bankers. The trend is continuing in 2015, reports ZeroHedge, with the death of a “cheerful” Dutch playboy financier making it four suicides at one bank alone, ABN Amro:

Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen – the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen  – the head of ABN’s corporate finance and capital markets -“startled” friends and colleagues as the 42-year-old “had a great reputation” at work, came from an “illustrious family,” and enjoyed national fame briefly as the boyfriend of a famous actress/model. As one colleague noted,

“he was always cheerful, good mood, and apparently he had everything your heart desired. He never sat in the pit, never was down, so I was extremely surprised.

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Secret TPP Negotiations—And Public Protests—To Be Held in New York City

Expect vocal opponents to the New World Order to show up in New York this coming week to protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, warns EFF:

The next round of secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations begins this Monday, January 26, and runs through the following week at the Sheraton New York Time Square Hotel in downtown Manhattan. As with many previous TPP meetings, the public will be shut out of talks as negotiators convene behind closed doors to decide binding rules that could impact how our lawmakers set digital policy in the decades to come. Big content industry interests have been given privileged access to negotiating texts and have driven the US Trade Representative’s mandate when it comes to copyright—which is why the TPP carries extreme copyright measures that ignore users’ rights.

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Protest against TPP in New Zealand. Photo: Neil Ballantyne (CC)

 

Some claim that this could be the final official round of TPP negotiations.

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Welcome to Hollyweed: Why TV Is Going to Pot

Marijuana mania is sweeping the United States, from Wall Street to Hollywood, or “Hollyweed” as the Hollywood Reporter dubs it:

The television industry is catching up with film and learning that pot sells in Hollywood. As more states join the legal marijuana movement and the drug becomes less taboo in the country, entertainment industry insiders say interest in weed-related storylines is at an all-time high.

Showtime series “Shameless,” for instance, which follows Chicago’s dysfunctional Gallagher family and stars William H. Macyand Emmy Rossum, will embark on a major weed arc later this year. The network is also responsible for the mother of all television pot tales, “Weeds,” which starred Mary-Louise Parker as soccer-mom-turned-drug-dealer. The series blazed trails (and spliffs) from 2005 to 2012 and helped put Showtime on the original-programming map.

Showtime isn’t the only pot-obsessed programmer, though; CNBC is in Season 2 of its series “Marijuana in America,” and “60 Minutes” struck ratings gold with a recent pot segment that drew in a whopping 17 million viewers.

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Animals Just Want To Get High

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Yellow mongoose by Julielangford (CC)

In an excerpt from his new book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs at BoingBoing, Johan Hari explains why animals eat psychoactive plants (hint: to get high):

The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for.

I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K.

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‘Brain Drinks’ Might Make You Less Smart

neurosonicCognitive neuroscientist Christian Jarrett debunks the ambitious claims of Neuro “brain drinks” at Wired:

Like pretty much everyone else, drink companies are jumping on the neuroscience bandwagon. These widely available “brain branded” beverages make promises that should raise any skeptic’s eyebrows. Today I want to focus on NeuroSonic, which its manufacturers claim is carefully designed to “deliver sustained focus and revitalized energy”.

The curvy, colorful bottle depicts a human head with a sciencey waveform running through it, the strapline “mental performance in every bottle”, and on the back, the promise that you will “stay energized, focused, alert … with modern science’s greatest blend of natural mental performance enhancers. Get smart, DRINK NEURO.”

Founded by Bosnian émigré Sanela Diana Jenkins, NeuroSonic is just one of a portfolio of brain drinks offered by her company Neuro, with others promising to boost sleep, relaxation and other states of mind.

NeuroSonic’s “proprietary blend” includes caffeine and l-theanine (an amino acid found in green tea).

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Why Can’t the World’s Greatest Minds Solve the Mystery of Consciousness?

Consciousness. What is it? No one knows, but many intelligent people have tried to explain it. Here’s the Guardian‘s take (note, it’s a long, #longread):

One spring morning in Tucson, Arizona, in 1994, an unknown philosopher named David Chalmers got up to give a talk on consciousness, by which he meant the feeling of being inside your head, looking out – or, to use the kind of language that might give a neuroscientist an aneurysm, of having a soul. Though he didn’t realise it at the time, the young Australian academic was about to ignite a war between philosophers and scientists, by drawing attention to a central mystery of human life – perhaps the central mystery of human life – and revealing how embarrassingly far they were from solving it.

The scholars gathered at the University of Arizona – for what would later go down as a landmark conference on the subject – knew they were doing something edgy: in many quarters, consciousness was still taboo, too weird and new agey to take seriously, and some of the scientists in the audience were risking their reputations by attending.

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Bigfoot Is Going Public

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Author: CryptoTom (CC)

Yes, you read that right, you can now invest in a Bigfoot IPO (Initial Public Offering), per the Wall Street Journal:

Startups are famous for setting big, hairy goals. Carmine “Tom” Biscardi wants to catch Sasquatch—and is planning an initial public offering to fund the hunt.

Mr. Biscardi and his partners hope to raise as much as $3 million by selling stock in Bigfoot Project Investments. They plan to spend the money making movies and selling DVDs, but are also budgeting $113,805 a year for expeditions to find the beast. Among the company’s goals, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “capture the creature known as Bigfoot.”

Investment advisers caution that this IPO may not be for everyone. For starters, it involves DVDs, a dying technology, said Kathy Boyle, president at Chapin Hill Advisors. Then there is the Sasquatch issue. She reckons only true believers would be interested in such a speculative venture.

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The Mystery of the Falling Teen Birth Rate

Anti-teenage pregnancy IIINo one seems to know what’s causing a double-digit percentage decline in births by America’s teenage girls (it’s not more abortions, it’s less pregnancies), reports Vox:

At first, it looked like a mistake.

The staff of TeenWise, a Minneapolis-based non-profit, crunched the numbers for its annual report on Minnesota teenagers’ sexual health. Their calculations seemed to show something unbelievable: the state’s teen birth rate had a double-digit decline between 2009 and 2010.

That seemed impossible. Just three years earlier, in 2007, Minnesota’s teen birth rate had increased by 1.4 percent; nationally it had increased by 3 percent in 2006. How could the rate then fall so steeply and so quickly?

“We ran the data, and we figured it was a mistake,” said Judith Kahn, TeenWise’s executive director. “Then, it looked like everybody had a mistake. We talked to others around the country, and they were all seeing a very similar thing.”

TeenWise’s calculations turned out to be accurate.

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Nicolas Cage to Star in Osama Bin Laden Satire

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Nicolas Cage by Georges Biard (CC)

This should go down well in certain quarters, one would think. The Hollywood Reporter reports on Hollywood’s latest provocation:

Borat director Larry Charles is back in action with Army of One, a satirical comedy from Endgame Entertainment and Conde Nast Entertainment starring Nicolas Cage as a regular guy who goes on a hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

In a coup for the producers, Harvey and Bob Weinstein have struck a preemptive deal for North American rights to the project via their new TWC-Dimension label, designed to be a home for more commercially minded fare that both brothers believe in.

Army of One is loosely based on Chris Heath’s GQ magazine article recounting the real-life misadventures of Gary Faulkner, a Colorado construction worker who took it upon himself to find Bin Laden, including trying to sneak into Pakistan and Afghanistan numerous times.

Charles, whose other big-screen credits include The Dictator and Bruno, is set to begin shooting Army of One by the end of March, with an eye to releasing the film at the end of the year…

[continues at the Hollywood Reporter]

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