Author Archive | majestic

Marijuana Bomb Falls From Sky, Smashes Doghouse

It’s not every day that a bundle of marijuana worth $10,000 falls from the sky and crushes your dog’s house. The Guardian reports on the lucky Arizona dog who survived the cannabombing:

Maya Donnelly awoke to what sounded like thunder in the early morning hours, but dismissed it as a typical monsoon storm and went back to sleep. Later that morning, she looked in the carport at her home in Nogales, near the US-Mexico border, and saw pieces of wood on the ground.


She found a bulky bundle wrapped in black plastic. Inside was roughly 26lbs of marijuana – a package that authorities say was worth $10,000 and was likely dropped there accidentally by a drug smuggler’s aircraft.

Police are now trying to determine whether the bundle was transported by an aircraft or a pilotless drone. Such runs usually occur at night.

“It’s all right on top of our dog’s house,” Donnelly said of the incident, which occurred on 8 September and was first reported by the Nogales International newspaper.

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DARPA is implanting chips in soldiers’ brains

There’s a sudden rash of stories about DARPA‘s bizarre projects, and this one from Fusion may be the most disturbing:

For decades, DARPA, the secretive research arm of the Department of Defense, has dreamed of turning soldiers into cyborgs. And now it’s finally happening. The agency has funded projects that involve implanting chips into soldiers’ brains that they hope will enhance performance on the battlefield and repair traumatized brains once the fog of war has lifted.

brain power

“Of the 2.5 million Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 of them came home with traumatic brain injury,” journalist Annie Jacobsen told NPR. “DARPA initiated a series of programs to help cognitive functioning, to repair some of this damage. And those programs center around putting brain chips inside the tissue of the brain.”

In her new book about the history of DARPA, “The Pentagon’s Brain,” Jacobsen writes that scientists are already testing “neuroprosthetics” brain implants, but that despite her multiple appeals to the Defense Department, she was not allowed to interview any of the “brain-wounded warriors.”

However, Defense One, an online magazine that covers the military, reported last year on DARPA’s work on brain chips to treat PTSD, and said that DARPA was not yet in the testing phase.

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Putin Says U.S. Support for Syria Rebels is Illegal and Ineffective

Not that one should believe Vladimir Putin’s every word, but I think he’s on to something here. Al-Arabiya reports on his claim that US-trained rebels are leaving to join Islamic State with American weapons:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday branded U.S. support for rebel forces in Syria as illegal and ineffective, saying U.S.-trained rebels were leaving to join Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with weapons supplied by Washington.

Vladimir Putin

In an interview with U.S. networks recorded ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Putin said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deserved international support as he was fighting terrorist organizations.

Obama and Putin are scheduled to talk on Monday after Putin addresses the United Nations, although White House and Kremlin officials have disagreed on what the two leaders will discuss and even who initiated the meeting.

“In my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter,” he said in an excerpt of an interview with U.S.

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How the American government is trying to control what you think

John Maxwell Hamilton is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and on the faculty of the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University. Kevin Kosar is a senior fellow at the R Street Institute. Together they make a somewhat unlikely pair to author a Washington Post article entitled “How the American government is trying to control what you think,” but of course it’s really a kind of political science wonk opinion piece:

NASA tweeting that Congress should give it more money so our astronauts won’t have to ride on Russian rockets. reporting overly optimistic statistics on jobs saved and created by stimulus funds. The Department of Health and Human Service Web site encouraging the public to “state your support for health care reform” during the congressional debate over Obamacare. 


These are just some recent examples of the executive branch using our tax dollars to shape our opinions.

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Lawsuit Asserts Monkey’s Copyright To Grinning ‘Selfie’

There’s a British colloquialism that the law is an ass (as in donkey, not posterior), but a new lawsuit in California has the potential to make a monkey of copyright law, reports Reuters:

A rare crested macaque monkey who snapped a well-known, grinning “selfie” should be declared the photo’s owner and receive damages for copyright infringement after it was used in a wildlife book, animal rights activists argued in a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

Photo: PETA

Photo: PETA


Naruto, a six-year-old macaque who lives free in the Tangkoko Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, took the image and several others about four years ago using a camera left unattended by British photographer David Slater, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in the suit.

The so-called Monkey Selfies that resulted came from “a series of purposeful and voluntary actions by Naruto, unaided by Slater,” said the complaint, filed in U.S.

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The Ex-Mormon Who Married The Dead

Have you ever heard of the Mormon practice of “sealing”? Atlas Obscura interviews an ex-Mormon who explains how he used to “seal” marriages forever, even with dead people:

Much secrecy surrounds the sacraments that take place in the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For Mormons—whose numbers can be difficult to quantify—the temple is the center of family and community life. It is also where “eternal marriages” take place.

Salt Lake Utah Temple, From JSMB

Known within the Church as “sealing,” eternal marriages bind a couple together forever. As in, forever—beyond mortality. In fact, sealings can be performed on people who have already died, to ensure they are eligible for entry into the highest echelons of Mormon heaven. Posthumous sealing—in which a deceased person is wedded to either another deceased person or one who is still alive—is performed regularly within the Church, but the details of the ceremony are not usually disclosed to people outside the faith.

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DARPA Investing In Genetic Engineering

Is there anything more scary than an extremely well-funded government agency investing in projects to mess with DNA? The Broad Institute has announced DARPA’s investment in The Foundry:

A facility at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and MIT that aims to achieve the full potential of engineering biology has received a five-year, $32 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The Foundry, started by MIT biological engineering professor Christopher Voigt and Broad Technology Labs (BTL) director Robert Nicol, is the result of a partnership between BTL and the Synthetic Biology Center of MIT, of which Voigt is co-director. The Foundry enables the rapid design, testing, and fabrication of large sequences of genetic information so they can be assembled like building blocks for myriad medical, industrial, and agricultural applications.

“Society relies on many products from the natural world that have intricate material and chemical structures, from chemicals such as antibiotics to materials like wood,” says Voigt.

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Investors Are Mining for Water, the Next Hot Commodity

A generation ago no one would have thought mining for water was going to be a hot investment theme. Now it is, reports the New York Times (air is next, one assumes):

CADIZ, Calif. — Gazing out of a turboprop high above his company’s main asset — 34,000 acres in the Mojave Desert with billions of gallons of fresh water locked deep below the sagebrush-dotted land — Scott Slater paints a lush picture that has enticed a hardy band of investors for a quarter-century.

Yes, Mr. Slater admits, his company, Cadiz, has never earned a dime from water. And he freely concedes it will take at least another $200 million to dig dozens of wells, filter the water and then move it 43 miles across the desert through a new pipeline before thirsty Southern Californians can drink a drop.

But tapping cash, as opposed to actual water, has never been a problem for Cadiz.

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UK Labour Leader Corbyn Says 9/11 Was ‘Manipulated’

The UK’s Labour Party recently took a big swing to the left with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. Corbyn’s now revealed himself as something of a 9/11 Truther, per the Telegraph:

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that 9/11 was “manipulated” to make it look like Osama Bin Laden was responsible to allow the West to go to war in Afghanistan.

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Garry Knight (CC)

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Garry Knight (CC)


In comments that will raise questions about his suitability to lead the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn appeared to blame George Bush and Tony Blair for using the September 11 attacks in New York to allow them to go to war.

In a series of further articles, Mr Corbyn also appears to endorse controversial conspiracy theories about a “New World Order”…

Mr Corbyn was heavily criticised in the days before winning the Labour leadership after suggesting that the death of Osama Bin Laden was a “tragedy”.

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NASA Scientist: ‘No one’s out there,’ We’re likely alone in the Milky Way

Could it really be that we’re all alone in our galaxy? The South China Morning Post reports that William Borucki, a highly-respected former NASA scientist, says there’s no other life out there:

William Borucki NASA.jpg

William Borucki

An internationally-revered Nasa scientist whose work helped discover the first Earth-sized habitable planet outside our solar system said the evidence so far points to us being alone in our galaxy.

William Borucki, the principal investigator of Nasa’s historic 2009 Kepler mission, was awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize in Astronomy in Hong Kong yesterday and said he planned to donate US$100,000 of his prize money to the battle against climate change.

But in an interview with the South China Morning Post, Borucki said his work on the Kepler mission discovering habitable planets made the silence in our galaxy all the more unusual.

“We have a galaxy full of 10 billion planets, in habitable zones, roughly earth-size, [but] no visits, no communications we’ve picked up,” he said.

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