Author Archive | majestic

The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans To Spy For American Corporations

Another NSA shocker courtesy of Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept:

Adbusters_CorporateAmericaFlagThroughout the last year, the U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage, in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets. So critical is this denial to the U.S. government that last August, an NSA spokesperson emailed The Washington Post to say (emphasis in original): “The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

After that categorical statement to the Post, the NSA was caught spying on plainly financial targets such as the Brazilian oil giant Petrobraseconomic summitsinternational credit card and banking systems; the EU antitrust commissioner investigating Google, Microsoft, and Intel; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In response, the U.S. modified its denial to acknowledge that it does engage in economic spying, but unlike China, the spying is never done to benefit American corporations.

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Malaysia Airlines MH370: The Persistence of Conspiracy Theories

A reflection on why conspiracy theories about Malaysia Airlines MH370 are enduring from Tom de Castella at BBC News Magazine:

Six months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 it is still the subject of a slew of explanations. Why has this tragedy prompted such a wave of conspiracy theories?

Sudden, dramatic events often provoke conspiracy theories – particularly where the official version is disbelieved. Think JFK, Princess Diana, 9/11.

But in the case of MH370 there is not even an official version. Nobody knows what happened to MH370. It’s a modern mystery.

268ap - Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER; 9M-MRO@ZRH;07.12.2003 (5398092340).jpg

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER by Aero Icarus (CC)

“It is very rare to be able to proffer no convincing answer for an event,” says Times columnist David Aaronovitch, whose book Voodoo Histories tackles conspiracy theories.

Then there’s the context. After the revelations by Edward Snowden about the extent of global surveillance by the US National Security Agency, it seems somehow hard for laymen to believe that an airliner can just disappear.

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Finally, Wall Street gets put on trial: We can still hold the 0.1 percent responsible for tanking the economy

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan ChaseA recent fraud trial in Califirnia could finally pave the way for culpable Wall Street banksters to be criminally prosecuted, reports Thomas Frank at Salon:

The Tea Party regards Barack Obama as a kind of devil figure, but when it comes to hunting down the fraudsters responsible for the economic disaster of the last six years, his administration has stuck pretty close to the Tea Party script. The initial conservative reaction to the disaster, you will recall, was to blame the crisis on the people at the bottom, on minorities and proletarians lost in an orgy of financial misbehavior. Sure enough, when taking on ordinary people who got loans during the real-estate bubble, the president’s Department of Justice has shown admirable devotion to duty, filing hundreds of mortgage-fraud cases against small-timers.

But high-ranking financiers? Obama’s Department of Justice has thus far shown virtually no interest in holding leading bankers criminally accountable for what went on in the last decade.

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Slender Man Obsessed Teen Burns Down Family Home

SlendermanSlender Man strikes again, this time in Florida, reports CapitalOTC:

Slenderman, the fictional character, a hot concept behind the bizarre incident in Wisconsin where two girls tried to stab 12 year old best friend to death to reconcile the lean creature has lead to yet another devastating incident.

A 14-year-old girl has been arrested after she set her family home ablaze while her Mother And 9-Year-Old Brother were sleeping inside after she read an e-book about the fictional horror character Slender Man.

Both mother and brother were lucky enough to be woken up by the smoke alarm at around 1:45 am and thus managed to escape the fire.

Lily Marie Hartwell of Port Richey, Florida, on Thursday soaked a towel and blanket with bleach and rum and lit them on fire in her garage.

The police officials at first place were not able to locate the teen girl. After setting the fire, she had walked to a nearby park with a bag full of clothes, water, cookies, knives, lighters and flashlights, and went to sleep in a public bathroom.

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President Obama at Stonehenge

The White House is plugging President Obama’s visit to Stonehenge in England with this video:

His spoken thoughts aren’t exactly profound: “these are some special stones … I love the moss … there’s something here, that’s wonderful, this is very cool, there just something elemental about it, there’s something where you kind of feel like it should always be there, that it comes out of something basic.”

Regardless of his rather pointed lack of curiosity as to the purpose of the megalithic site, no doubt this will massively boost tourism to England. May we suggest, Mr. President, that when you get back you check out the modern-day American Stonehenge, the Georgia Guidestones, and give a similar boost to our stagnant economy?

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Who Is Really Behind the ‘Burn Isis Flag Challenge’?

Who’s really behind the Burn Isis Flag Challenge, disinfonauts? Somehow the idea that it was some Lebanese students doesn’t seem that plausible… Here’s the video that’s going round and below a story from IB Times/Yahoo News UK:

A social media viral campaign has sprung up in the Arab world that involves burning the Isis flag.

The trend started after three Lebanese youths posted pictures of them burning the flag associated with the militant group, also known as Islamic State, in the middle of Sassine Square in Beirut.

Soon afterwards, a Lebanese YouTube user uploaded a video of himself burning a flag. Similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in which people choose others to their do own videos, the user nominated “the whole world ” to take part in the #BurnISISFlagChallenge.

The campaign soon went viral, especially in Lebanon following the beheading of one of the country’s soldiers by IS.

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Have We Reached Peak Burger?

You’ve heard of “Peak Oil,” right? Where the amount of oil we can pump out of the earth has peaked and is in decline? Well now there is “Peak Burger” in America, where the number of fast food outlets is in serious decline, reports Business Week:

For most of its history, the fast-food business in the U.S. has been characterized by rapid and dependable growth. From founder Ray Kroc’s first restaurant in Des Plaines, Ill., in 1955, McDonald’s (MCD) became a chain of more than 700 stores in the U.S. within 10 years. By 1983 there were 6,000, and for the next two decades the company opened about 360 U.S. outlets every year on average. Smaller rivals Burger King Worldwide (BKW) and Wendy’s (WEN) had impressive early growth stories of their own.

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Obesity and Fast Food Restaurants 7.0” by LukeB4uleapOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Alien Life: Sea Animal ‘Mushroom’ Discovered

No one knows what this new animal that looks like a mushroom might be, reports BBC News:

A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Australian coast has defied classification in the tree of life.

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“Dendrogramma enigmatica sp. nov., holotype” by Jean Just, Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen and Jørgen Olesen – Dendrogramma, New Genus, with Two New Non-Bilaterian Species from the Marine Bathyal of Southeastern Australia (Animalia, Metazoa incertae sedis) – with Similarities to Some Medusoids from the Precambrian Ediacara. PLOS ONE, September 03, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102976. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom.

Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years.

The organisms, which were originally collected in 1986, are described in the academic journal Plos One.

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Inequality in America: The Food Gap Between Rich and Poor

Wealthy people are eating better than ever, while the poor are eating worse, reports James Hamblin for The Atlantic:

Nutritional disparities between America’s rich and poor are growing, despite efforts to provide higher-quality food to people who most need it. So says a large study just released from the Harvard School of Public Health that examined eating habits of 29,124 Americans over the past decade. Diet quality has improved among people of high socioeconomic status but deteriorated among those at the other end of the spectrum. The gap between the two groups doubled between 2000 and 2010. That will be costly for everyone.

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The primary conclusion of the study is interesting, though, in that its focus is diet quality among the population as a whole. Without accounting for socioeconomic status, there has been, the study reads, “steady improvement.” People aren’t eating more vegetables, or less red or processed meat, and their salt intake increased—which the researchers call “disconcerting”—but Americans are eating more good things like whole fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and polyunsaturated fats.

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Recliner Rage

Virgin America airplane interiorHey disinfonauts, have you experienced “Recliner Rage”? Would you use a Knee Defender? And what would you do if the person sitting behind you used one on your seat? For those of you who are scratching your heads as to just what this is, here’s Politico:

Forget road rage — “recliner rage” is the hot new trend among frustrated travelers.
On Monday night, a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Florida made an emergency landing after a dispute between passengers over reclining seats in crowded airplane cabins. It was the third flight diversion for a reclining-related altercation in nine days.

The flight, from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport, diverted to Jacksonville after a passenger who was trying to sleep on her tray table became upset when the person in front of her reclined her seat, according to Jacksonville’s WJXT.

“This woman sitting next to me knitting tried reclining her seat back, the woman behind her started screaming and swearing,” passenger Aaron Klipin told the station.

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