News stories the mainstream media missed : 02/27/10

Here are some news stories from this week that I think the mainstream media completely missed out on. All links are from legitimate news sources and not the fringe / wacko sites.

* Ginormous hedge bets are being placed against the Euro by George Soros and other mega-sized Wall Street hedge funds. In English, this means they’re betting the Euro will collapse (or tank in value) so $1 Euro = $1 US… or worse! And if they’re right, they will make tons of money off their bet! When multi-multi-billionaires put a large chunk of their money on something, they either know something we don’t know, or are about to cause something we don’t know about yet. Oh yeah. This is going to get ugly. With a capital U G L and Y. [DAILYMAIL.UK]

* Meanwhile, “China has confirmed the intention to purchase 191.3 tons of gold from the International Monetary Fund at an open auction.” That’s HALF of the IMF’s gold. Why do I have a feeling this is going to come back to bite us right in the kanickies? [PRAVDA]

* The winner of the solid gold WTF crown this week is the Unites States! Specifically, the part of the United States that is currently selling arms to India and Pakistan. And not just guns! Surveillance drones too! Because nothing says “good times” like arming two countries who hate each other and watching what happens! [DAILYTIMES.PK]

* A very, very close runner up to the WTF crown this week is this one… Texas has been turning over blood samples from all newborns to the federal government in order to build a DNA database. Sure they said they are going to destroy the blood already collected, but if the blood sample is in the master database already, then whats the damn point of destroying the samples they came from? Invasion of privacy much? [TEXAS TRIBUNE] and [DSHS.TX]

* If you throw a riot and no one knows about it, does it count? There was a real riot in UC Berkley last Friday night, but nobody cared enough to cover it! [HUFFINGTON POST]

* A Danish study has shown temporarily stopping blood flow in the arm prevents damage in people having a heart attack. That’s very valuable information! I should get these directions tattooed on my arms for later. [BBC]

* The “you don’t deserve any privacy” Patriot Act was successfully renewed this week. To make it happen, the Republicans said they would filibuster everything if the Democrats didn’t go along and renew the Patriot Act as-is. It’s nice to see the two parties are working together at last! And by that I mean the Republicans pimp-slapping the consistently cowardly Democrats around like they always did before the election. [EFF]

* Scientists are closing in a giant cosmic secret… why do why do we gain weight as we age even though we eat less? You would think all that damn fiber would help grandpa stay slimmer! [NPR]

* Speaking of cosmic secrets, scientists this week have determined the general theory of relativity is wrong… because a spinning top told them so. Trippy. Maybe this week they will ask a Slinky for a second opinion. [SOFTPEDIA]

* A computer program from 1987 composes and performs better classical music than most humans do! So what was every composer’s response that saw this program in action? To ban the software engineer from the music industry and call for the computer to be destroyed! Why does this sound like an old Frankenstein movie? Use the woodwinds as torches! Hammer the trombones into pitchforks! Storm the castle of the monster! It must not be allowed to live! [MILLER-MCCUNE]

* The pentagon is finally going to allow women on submarines! Haven’t they heard the superstition that if a woman is on a boat it will sink? Waitaminute…. [CLTV]

* You will soon be able to power your home all year with a battery no bigger than a regular sized brick! Its not science fiction… it’s already done! And, of course, Google has one of their own. [TARANFX]

* This isn’t science fiction either, but I wish it was. The professor who went nucking futs at the University of Alabama may have created a “herpes bomb… in which a herpes-like virus spreads throughout the world, causing pregnant women to miscarry.” Yeah, it sounds silly at first, but the problem is, she’s smart enough to do it… and her colleagues think she actually made one, too. Completely psychotic and a brilliant bio-engineer. Oh yeah, this one needs to be put in solitary confinement fo-ever! [NYTIMES]

Off to enjoy my weekend (some more). Back Monday!

The US consulate just closed all of their offices in Reynosa Mexico due to the increased violence

I woke up this morning and heard the U.S. Consulate just closed all their offices in Reynosa, Mexico due to the sudden upswing in violence.

Consulate Closing

Consulate Closing

“The U.S. Consulate has restricted travel of American officials to Reynosa and closed its office there until further notice…[The Consulate] advises U.S. citizens to take the above information into consideration when making any decisions concerning traveling to or within Reynosa.”

“According to local reports, gunmen in as many as 20 vehicles clashed with members of the Mexican military and municipal police in Ciudad Mier, just west of Reynosa, during a daytime gun battle Tuesday that reportedly resulted in the kidnapping of 10 municipal police officers. Video from the scene showed abandoned police sport utility vehicles with bullet holes and broken windows. Shattered glass covered the street in the backdrop of palm trees. A damaged red truck with the insignia C.D.G. — the Spanish acronym for the Gulf Cartel — was shown being towed from the shooting scene.”

It’s front page news here in the valley and on every TV station, but CNN has the story buried in the “other news” links. So far, based on what I’ve seen on the ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX news channels this morning, a killer whale at Sea World is more important than what is quickly coming to a boiling point down here.

Here’s the CNN link on the consulate closing.

Border violence on sudden upswing

There’s been a sudden increase in violence along the Mexico border these last few days. A great deal moreso than usual. A “running gun battle in Valle Hermoso” left 5 people dead yesterday. The running count is around 17 dead since this Sunday.

Things got real ugly when the Mexican military surrounded a grade school yesterday. A grade school! The surprise “Mexican navy raid Thursday in which about 500 sailors surrounded an area near two of Reynosa’s biggest schools….The naval commandos were reportedly pursuing Miguel “Zeta 40” Treviño Morales, second-in-command of the Zetas who oversaw the operations of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas — collectively known as “The Company” — in Veracruz and Nuevo Laredo….The hysteria shut down much of Reynosa on Thursday, when schools dismissed early and businesses closed their doors across the city. On Saturday, banners were found hanging from pedestrian bridges across Reynosa stating in Spanish that the city is safe and assuring residents that “nothing is happening and nothing will happen.”

Yeah, those signs should be enough to calm everyone down. Thanks guys.

The reason for all this violence? “Los Zetas, once the armed enforcement wing of the Gulf Cartel, are rumored to be staging a coup for control of the Reynosa plaza, one of the busiest and most important transport routes for drugs bound for the United States, federal officials said.”

I’ve taken a keen interest in these kinds of power struggles as I currently live about 10 minutes from the border in any direction (well, except North.) If something goes down, I would be at ground zero.

You can read about it in detail at the Valley’s newspaper THE MONITOR with a followup story here.

The FoxRio news article about the recent violence is here.

The KRGV news article about the recent violence is here.

And here’s the CNN article on the renewed travel alert to Mexico.

You can also check out the more informative but all-Spanish news clip at Telemundo40 titled “Alerta Màxima en Mèxico”. (I would embed it here, but the whole sidebar is flash based.)

Want to legalize drugs? Here’s my solution. [RANT]

I keep hearing more and more groups online advocating the legalization of drugs in the United States. Those in favor of this idea say legalizing drugs would dramatically decrease the violent drug-related crime across America and would also be a big boost to the government’s bottom line in the form of taxes on the legal drug sales.

Personally I think legalizing drugs in all 50 states would be a horrible idea. Alcohol and cigarettes kill enough people already. But this idea will not go away. So how about this… legalize all drugs in Nevada as a test. Nevada can pick the county it will be legal in. Anything goes. You want it, it would be for sale there. Cocaine. Meth. Speed. LSD. Marijuana. Everything.

Let Nevada be the only state with that one county where everything is fully legal for five years. Nevada can set whatever tax they want on each sale for each specific item, collect all income for the state, set their own enforcement rules and control the structure of the community of the country the drugs will be legal in. I say pay the federal government 6% of the gross to top it off.

During those five years, increase the penalty for selling and/or using drugs in all of the other 49 states. I’m talking extra severe. Mandatory no-parole 2 year term for possession. Mandatory no-parole 10 year term for distributing. Tack on additional years at each judge’s discretion.

The DEA would still be necessary, but mainly as a inter-state drug enforcer role (IE: making sure drugs don’t get out of Nevada into the other 49 states).

After this five year test, allow the other 49 states to define their drug policy by majority vote.

If Nevada becomes a success, the other states will emulate them very quickly. Job stimulation, overall increased income and sound state-specific social programs all created with very minimal government intervention is the positive idea behind legalizing drugs.

If Nevada fails, then the drug problem will have been mostly concentrated in one location which can be more easily dealt with, and the other 49 states (and everyone clamoring for legalizing drugs) will have indisputable proof of drug legalization’s failure.

Either way, it sounds too easy to work, right?

Did you know there’s a rusty 1958 quarter in the Star Trek Blu-Ray extras disc?

Did you know there’s a rusty 1958 quarter in the Star Trek Blu-Ray extras disc? Seriously!

I got the Blu-Ray of the recent Star Trek movie and finally got around to copying the digital version from the “extras” DVD to my iPhone.

While I was waiting for the authorized download from iTunes, I did some poking around in the directory structure of the “extras” DVD.

Showing the package contents, there’s a NCFOM.icns in the resources directory.

Star Trek Quarter 1

Star Trek Quarter 1

Open that NCFOM.icns with the mac’s quick preview and you’ll see…

Star Trek Quarter 2

Star Trek Quarter 2

A rusty 1958 quarter!

Opening it in preview showed the same thing.

Star Trek Quarter 3

Star Trek Quarter 3

Now that’s an odd thing to put in there! Maybe a checksum of some kind?

10,000 US citizens died by US government alcohol poisoning during prohibition [RANT]

A short time ago, a story broke on SLATE about something I’ve been unable to put out of my mind. The United States government poisoned the alcohol supply of the bootleggers during prohibition with the intent to kill those drinking the product. As a direct result, 10,000 US citizens died at the hands of the government by 1933.

There is no ambiguity about this. Government employees were given express sanction by those higher in the bureaucratic hierarchy to murder those who were violating the law. It was enough justification that these individuals did not agree with the governments’ interpretation of right and wrong for them to perish. And the most horrific component of this farce is that the government murders were directly endorsed by those same citizens that supported prohibition. Members of society who encouraged the government murders said that “bootleggers and their law-breaking alcoholic customers deserved no sympathy” and even went so far as to say that the “lawmakers opposed to the poisoning plan of being in cahoots with criminals”.

I don’t think I’ve read anything quite as horrifying as this.

This happened during the supposed innocent time of America. This during the supposed “golden years” of flappers, big band music and wide eyed dreams of the future that occasionally made the jump into reality. There were no imminent external threats, no nuclear clouds on the horizon, and the cataclysm that came to be known as the great depression was still deeply enshrouded a few years away.

10,000 people died because they “deserved” to die.

I’ve occasionally wondered how many activities are illegal in this day and age that were enjoyed by our grandfathers and great grandfathers. Perhaps in innocence, or perhaps with malice, the rationale for the ownership of mercury thermometers, sanitized dietary tapeworms, heroin, asbestos, theominal, absinthe, cocaine and even certain tobaccos have faded into obscurity. But how many activities do we partake in now that may one day be illegal at the whim of the body politic? Activities we take for granted at this time because the majority of people are enjoying the same things we are?

Does someone deserve to die for drinking a sweetened caffeinated beverage? Does someone deserve to die for inhaling a dead plant? Does someone deserve to die or eating a candy laced with high fructose corn syrup? Does someone deserve to die for drinking water from a plastic bottle? Any of these questions are patently ridiculous to ask in this day and age. As equally ridiculous as asking if someone deserves to die for drinking a beer or a shot of whiskey. But who can say for certain this will always be so evident?

First, there are constitutional laws and due processes in place that are designed to prevent this kind of government sanctioned massacre from happening, but even to this day, both political parties still attempt to pass “adjustments” to these constitutional processes on a weekly basis. I firmly believe even in the slightest modification to due processes and/or the constitution must be met with extreme skepticism and impassioned debate. Because even though the system in place now is exasperatingly slow in correcting injustices, eventually the truth does find its’ way back to the surface and into the mainstream consciousness. And often, and just as slowly, a metered justice tends to follow afterwards.

To allow the government to change or amend any of the due processes afforded to us, the citizens of the United States, is just another invitation for the government to give us what they think we deserve.

But solely blaming the government as a whole for these injustices is not right. Just like there are hundreds of honest, hardworking police officers who go through herculean tribulations every single day without complaint or protest, only do be undone by a handful of dishonest peers, so too is every branch of the government. For every unsung good deed or golden treasure buried in the governments’ history, there are loud and vulgar perversions that pull our attention away from those who labored for the just and right.

Which brings me to my second concern. Government must be diligently monitored and constantly called to task for decisions made on every level by every member of the government. The ownership and responsibility of this task belongs equally to both the politicians who are in office and the population as a whole. Because I believe, now more so than ever before, the moral failure of individuals in the government who are entrusted with enacting out the will of the state it is not simply a possibility. It is inevitability.

To prevent another poisoning, to prevent another sanctioned “open season” on those who are currently breaking the current fancies and whims of the politicians of the day, we must, as a community, get involved. Not just watch the news and type angry emails to people we already know. Write the Senators. Write the House of Representatives. Skip the TV once in awhile and attend a city council meeting. When a member of big government comes to town, attend their little soirees and ask some questions.

And the third, final, and most difficult of these concerns – the need to confront those individuals who are encouraging irresponsible behavior in government. Those who would sanction government atrocities simply because it would further their own personal worldviews. It’s been my personal experience the hardest enemy to fight is the one who incites others to mindlessly do their bidding. When an opponent and their legion of brainwashed supporters shout “if you don’t agree with us, then you agree with the enemy”, then the fight is not only with each mantra-chanting individual enchanted by the cause, but also with an entire ideology itself.

In my opinion, the only way to fight this monster is with logic. Logic on a personal, individual, grassroots scale. To gently convert individuals back to a reasoned conclusion. To point out the errors in their ideology’s foundations and convert these individuals back away from the extreme fringe they have landed on, all the while doing so without malice or avarice. From there, one convert will become two, then four, and then exponentially eat away at the hive mind mentality until it is no more. Unfortunately, this often requires the greatest investment of time and personal sacrifice, and the results are slow in coming.

Government will ignore a handful of those on the fringe calling for a presently unheard-of idea to be enacted. But if their voices reach enough critical mass, then the government will follow without question or guilty conscience. Because it is, after all, what the people want.

Maybe I’m wrong about all this and my rocker just needs a little adjusting. Maybe all this is because I’m finally old enough to realize things really don’t take care of themselves. Maybe I’ve realized if something like this can happen in the best of times, there’s not much to keep it happening in the worst of times.

I’m pouring myself a jack and coke to think it over some more.

News stories the mainstream media missed : 02/20/10

Here are some news stories from this week that I think the mainstream media completely missed out on. All links are from legitimate news sources and not the fringe / wacko sites.

* The jobs outlook still twitchier than a monkey in a washing machine full of bananas. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst everyone! [ECONOMIST]

* A Philadelphia school apparently has been using the laptops they provided to the kids to also spy on them while they were home! All this came out when a kid was popped for “”improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence.”! OK, this won the official solid gold WTF! crown for the week! The district was OK with this? The Vice Principal on down authorized this big honkin’ invasion of privacy? Of putting a camera on a child’s private moments at home? Wow! To quote Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off “Les jeux sont faits. Translation: the game is up. Your ass is mine.” But I don’t think the hammer is going to fall on the kids!  [BOING BOING] UPDATE: Ooooh yes. Here comes the FBI! Gonna’ need some popcorn for this one! [CNN]

* Google has received federal approval to buy and sell energy. They are going to be their own electric company! Dude. Picture this next video, but with the Google logo and Sergey Brin and Larry Page jammin’ with some of their friends… [IT WORLD]

* Dolphins can switch on and off diabetes as needed! Dammit Flipper, why didn’t you tell us about this earlier? [GUARDIAN.UK]

* How would you like working straight until 70 before social security clicks in? Or seeing some big tax increases and increasing co-pays and deductibles for Medicare? These are some of the tentative plans under Obama’s new deficit commission! Why isn’t the mainstream media talking about how horrible things are going to get if things don’t change soon? And since when do most people live past 70? Since a lot of people kick the bucket before then, so all that money won’t…. ooooooh. I see. [YAHOO]

* And speaking of how bad things are getting, something called “Peak Oil” is coming soon, with severe price increases by 2015. This doesn’t mean oil running out…. it means cheap and plentiful energy will be done with a big fork in it. About 1/2 of the world’s easily accessible oil will be tapped, and the remainder will be insanely more difficult to get out. If Oil was a restaurant, it’s going from a $ rating to a $$$$$ rating. This is going to be, very possibly, the end of cheap oil in our lifetime. You can argue everything in this last century was accomplished because we all had tons of cheap energy to burn (pun intended), so something new has got to be put in place soon. Any wonder there’s a sudden rush to develop and construct more nuclear power plants? [CSMONITOR]

* Dallas police are planning on going door to door in some neighborhoods, knocking on the door, and just having a chat with the resident right there! It sounds quite British of them! While they’re passing the time on your doorstep with their door open, if they happen to see anything behind the door or in the room in plain sight that happens to look or smell illegal, or if they hear anything illegal in the background, WHAMMO!! In come the SWAT teams! Seriously! That’s their plan! Man, where to begin? Profiling. Warrantless Searches. Authoritarian Intimidation. Disregarding on the 4th and 5th amendment. I guess the old investigation to lead to probable cause to lead to a judicial search warrant is just too hard! [DALLAS MORNING NEWS]

* Operation Iraqi Freedom is now Operation New Dawn. Great. So when does Operation GTFO start? That’s the one I’ve been waiting on this whole time! [ABC NEWS]

* What does your handshake say about you? I’d like to think mine says something like “Généralement, les gens qui savant peu parlent becoup, et les gens qui savant beaucoup parlent peu.” Oui oui je sais. Just a touch! [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

* Colorado Springs, Colorado is turning off their street lights, not picking up trash in the city parks, mowing only monthly, and closing public restrooms. All this in an effort to save money. So they’re collecting all these property taxes and they have nothing left over after paying…. what exactly? I betcha’ there’s a few fat cats still porking out in the budget kitchen that can be flushed out. [NPR]

* “Scientists say that a meteorite that crashed into Earth 40 years ago contains millions of different carbon-containing, or organic, molecules.” Oooo! Get Michael Bay on the line! I got an idea! Coming soon… don’t trust anyone under 40! They’ve all got sleeper DNA cells that make them not human! Dun dun duuuuunnnnn! Wait… that would be me too!! Oh no!! [BBC.UK]

* Researchers discover how antidepressants actually work! What? You mean they had no idea all this time? To stael a bit from Eddie Izzard, did they just try a little bit of everything to find out what worked? Try this piece of zinc? No? How about uranium? Ooo definitely not that one. How about a frying pan upside the head? CLANG!! No? How about this prozac, then? Ah-hah!! [PHYSORG]

And to close out, that original bit from Eddie Izzard I just completely butchered in the article above. I must warn you, the man is an executive transvestite. Watch at your own peril!

Until next week… ciao!

Website Magazine’s big Google-goof in their February 2010 issue

So there I was speed reading through this month’s pile of magazines when I got to the computer stack. Near the bottom of this pile was WEBSITE magazine. I’ve always been kind of “meh” about them, but every so often they have something interesting, so I’ve been re-subscribing so far.

On the last page, titled WEB COMMENTARY with Editor-in-Chief Peter Prestipino, is a one page article titled “A Day In the Life of a Google Junkie”. It’s a article that glorifies the daily pervasiveness of Google nowadays, but I noticed a really big goof in the article.

In the paragraph in the first column with the 5:30 AM indent, it ends with “…In fact, Gmail grew 43 percent in 2008 alone. Expect big growth in 2009 too.”

Wait. What?

This is the February 2010 issue. Even if this column was written last November or December in 2009 and used as a “plan B” column, the dates still don’t sync!

This “column” was originally written in 2008, since 2009 is referred to in the future tense.


Either this was an old PR spam article from Google that they copied and pasted without attribution, or it was an article they copied and pasted from somewhere else without updating the dates. Either way, that’s enough for me not to take anything they print at face value. Especially since it came directly from the editor-in-chief’s page.

I bet if WEBSITE magazine actually catches this, they’re going to say it was just a typo and blame it on the copy editors.

Scratch one renewal!

You can see the page by clicking below…

Website Magazine Goof Feb 2010

UPDATE: Did a quick search on Google for “gmail grew 43 percent in” and found that Google’s Gmail services really did grow 43 percent in 2008. So it ain’t no typo!

Barbed Wire Burger King [PHOTOS]

I was in Brownsville not too long ago and was looking for a restaurant to grab a quick lunch at. When I pulled into a shopping center that had a Subway, I saw across the parking lot was a Burger King.

A Burger King with a prison-style barbed wire fence all the way around it.

Barbed Wire Burger King 1

Barbed Wire Burger King 1

Barbed Wire Burger King 2

Barbed Wire Burger King 2

Barbed Wire Burger King 3

Barbed Wire Burger King 3

Mind you, this was on main street in commerce central. HEBs, Whataburgers, Subways, Target…. lots of nice normal stores nearby!

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like my fast food restaurants not looking like they’re in the middle of a DMZ.