By now you’ve surely heard about the huge hack of several A-listers’ iCloud accounts. The hacker or hackers released a trove of highly private material from Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and others.
Being A-listers, they are targets and will always be targets for blackmail, invasions of privacy, even terrorism. Surely they know this by now.
Apple has confirmed that the leaked material came from its iCloud service.
Update 9/2: Apple has released a statement confirming that the company’s investigation found no evidence that any of its services were compromised; the accounts affected were attacked using conventional (security question/username) password reset methods.
Update 2:35 pm ET: Over at The Guardian, tech reporter Charles Arthur summarizes the current thinking about the image release from security researchers. Some are surmising that these images were gathered over months or years (the earliest timestamps are from 2011, the most recent from last month) and then the repository itself was hacked or stolen. iCloud is still under scrutiny as a vector for gaining access to private images.
So it’s not a system-wide security breach. The hackers attacked at the most obvious point of failure, the users themselves. “Password” is not a viable password, folks. iCloud is probably the single largest hack magnet on earth. iPhones are more status symbols than technological necessities these days. Every celebrity and millions of non-celebrities have iPhones, or Android competitors, and they all can interact with the cloud.
A few months ago, I noticed that my phone was uploading my photos to the cloud automatically. They were just pics of family trips and mundane stuff, but I still didn’t want it outside my immediate control. It took a few clicks to get to the right place and turn that off. Turning the cloud services off on phones should be made so simple that anyone can figure out it. That doesn’t mean that people will take the steps to turn it off, of course.
iCloud and similar cloud storage is great, but it’s also creepy and fraught with problems. I wrote that post three years ago, when iCloud first came out, only to get poo-pooed by some because “I don’t have anything to hide!” Or, “Apple has to keep up with technological trends!” True, but not the point.
3D printing is incredibly disruptive technology. It has already impacted the debate over guns. Researchers are using it to recreate antique musical instruments.
At 3DPrint.com, they have the story of a Chinese man who lost half of his skull in a fall. 3D printing will give him that half of his skull back.
The 46-year-old was working at his construction job one day when he fall three stories to the ground. The fall left him disfigured, as if he had a large dent in the side of his head.
Surgion [sic] MaoGuo Shu, of Xijing Hospital, who has seen a vast array of head and skull injuries, says that cases like Hu’s are very rare, and finding a solution to fix the damaged skull is very complex and difficult. To try and come up with a solution, the hospital brought in dozens of experts in the field. What they came up with was an idea for a 3D printed titanium mesh which would cover Hu’s brain and help make his skull look normal again. Thankfully for Hu, he won’t have to pay a dime for the surgery, as the hospital is covering the cost, and an American company, Stryker has agreed to pay for the 3D printing and materials used in the printing process.
The titanium printed mesh should return his skull to his normal shape over time. His brain, which was badly damaged in the fall leaving Hu unable to talk and write, might regenerate itself, according to the doctors.
Discovery Channel’s lone remaining science series, MythBusters, has lost 60% of its cast. The show announced Thursday night that that episode would be the last to feature Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara.
MythBusters started out with just the two main cast members, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, special effects gurus who used their science knowledge and engineering chops to test common pop culture myths. The show was fine in those early days, but MythBusters really took off when it grew to the current cast. The trio joined the full cast of MythBusters 10 years ago. They brought a new chemistry to the show, and Byron brought a little nerd sex appeal too.
Now the era of five hosts busting multiple myths per show is over. And it sounds like money is at the root.
“I guess you guys are finding out the news right about now. After a decade of theMythBusters, we are no longer with the show,” Kari said in a series of tweets. “Thank you to all the fans who have supported us. The show is taking a new direction. It was an amazing run. I learned so much about myself and the world. I love you all @MythBusters. I am sad for an ending but there will be exciting new adventures for us.”
Chances are, budget cuts are to blame. Discovery Channel has all but dropped science programming in favor of reality shows about gold and cars, bogus documentaries about sharks, along with its survival hit Naked and Afraid. The reduced MythBusters probably isn’t going to last long now.
Let’s push the pause button on politics, to note the decline and fall of what was a great civilization.
Have you seen this show, Dating Naked? It follows similar cable fare such as Discovery’s Naked and Afraid. These shows have “naked” in the title, which is a dead giveaway of what they’re about.
They’re about regular people getting naked for basic cable. Duh. That ought to be clear. It’s censored but still R rated stuff.
Dating Naked is a twist on earlier highbrow fare like Love Connection. Only, the daters are naked together on the first date. And they have a full crew around them shooting every word and every move in every contrived situation. And there are editors who will go over every frame of footage to condense hours of nakedness into a 30-minute show, with the naughty bits blurred out to keep the show’s maturity rating below the Hustler level.
When a person signs on to appear on Dating Naked, they’re taking enormous risks. But those risks are pretty obvious.
For one, a whole lotta people are gonna see you naked. If there’s even one mistake, one innocent error, a whole lot more people are gonna see you naked.
And what if any of the raw footage leaks onto the forever Internet? Game over for whatever might be left of your privacy and dignity.
The risks weren’t obvious to Jessie Nizewitz, 28. Her naughty bits weren’t blurred for a couple of seconds that aired. So she wants an apology, and by the way, millions of dollars. Because of all the hurt it caused her.
Jessie Nizewitz, 28, says she was repeatedly promised by the producers that her private parts would be “blurred out” during the show’s third episode in May.
So she stripped down to her birthday suit with wet beach sand covering parts of her body and performed a WWE-style wrestling move on her date while the producers egged her on, according to the $10 million suit filed in Manhattan by her high- powered lawyer, Matthew Blit.
“I felt lied to, manipulated and used. I was horrified,” Nizewitz told The Post, explaining that she was brought to tears.
When the episode aired on July 31, Nizewitz became the butt of jokes on YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr, the papers state.
“…butt of jokes…” We see what you did there, New York Post.
Even the runway model’s family caught an eyeful.
“My grandma saw it. I saw her this week and she didn’t have much to say to me. She’s probably mad. My parents are just annoyed,” Nizewitz lamented.
She says that the seconds of accidental clarity cost her a budding relationship with a boyfriend. Seeing her prancing around butt naked but mostly blurred on national TV — not a problem!
“He never called me again after the show aired. I would have hoped we could have had a long-term relationship. He was employed, Jewish, in his 30s and that’s pretty much ideal,” Nizewitz said.
You know what’s not ideal? Starting off a relationship with a lovely young woman who you really like, only to turn on the TV and see that she’s willing to romp around naked in front of her grandma and your family and everyone else, for a few thousand bucks.
To some people — horrible prudes stuck in the Victorian era, no doubt — that might even be a deal-breaker.
I watched the universal premiere of Sharkado 2: The Second One on SyFy Wednesday night.
Don’t judge, especially if you watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Or any of those bachelor, bachelorette or dating shows. Or any reality TV, really. You’re in no position to judge anything that anyone else watches.
S2TS1 might not be the greatest movie ever. It might even be two hours of my life that to my regret I’ll never get back. If SyFy follows its usual pattern, even if you missed the premiere you still have 17 trillion chances to see it. SyFy will air the thing on a loop until the end of all time and space, when the Big Bang falls into a Big Crunch and we start all over again.
When you watch Sharknado 2, and you inevitably will, here are the five greatest things to look out for in S2TS1.
1. S2TS1 wastes absolutely no time on story.
Literally seconds into the film, star Ian Ziering (whose character’s name is still “Fin”) sees a shark in a cloud backlit by lightning. What follows is a fun riff on the old Twilight Zone episode in which a young William Shatner sees a gremlin on the wing of an airliner, but nobody believes him. Ziering has his own Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, then, because of all the sharks, has to reprise Robert Hayes’ role in Airplane! I’m not even kidding.
SPOILER ALERT: New York’s anti-gun policies end up helping the sharks. But as they say, only criminals have guns under strict gun control. That turns out to be a minor side plot in S2TS1. I’m not kidding.
1. J.K. Rowling almost broke the Internet. She published a Harry Potter short story and civilization nearly ended.
2. A Turkish student has come up with a 3D printed cast that supposedly heals bones as much as 80% faster than conventional casts.
It’s pretty cool-looking.
It’s all about the chemistry, according to Reactions/ACS.
Now that you’ve watched that, watching Nancy Pelosi say that Obamacare is “beautiful” might not hurt so bad.
For the first few months after I moved back to Texas, I got my hair cut at an Austin barber shop. It’s a family run place — the father and two of his sons own and operate it. The sons are in their 30s or so; the father may be in his 60s. Like many business owners around Austin, the owners of this barber shop are Hispanic.
I haven’t been there in a while, as it’s pretty far from where I live now. I used to go there because it was the first place I found around town, because they give a great no-nonsense man’s haircut, and because the sons are hilarious. They are constantly joking around with each other, joking with the customers, and just having fun. It’s like getting free entertainment while you get your hair cut. Although I used to worry a little that if they made me laugh too hard I would end up moving at the wrong time and mess up their work.
So I was in the shop in mid April, a few years back. I’m in the chair nearest the door as one of the sons is cutting my hair. Another man is in one of the other chairs, and the other son was cutting his hair. The father was around but I don’t think he was cutting anyone’s hair. There were a couple of guys waiting their turn, sitting in a line of chairs that extended from the area just inside the door. Typical barber shop set-up.
An older white man comes in, he seemed be someone that the father and sons knew pretty well.
The newcomer asks the nearest son, “So, are you excited about Cinco de Mayo?”
The sons laughed and the one nearest the door said, “Cinco de Mayo? Not really, man.” He kept cutting my hair.
The older man persisted: “Aren’t you excited about Cinco de Mayo? What are you planning to do to celebrate?”
The sons laughed again. The guys in the chairs near the door laughed too. The brothers kind of looked at each other, shrugged, and the one nearest the door said “Cinco de Mayo? Man, we celebrate the Fourth of July!” They laughed again. “I can’t wait for that! We’ll go to the parades, have some bar-be-cue, see some fireworks, drink some beer. Best day of the year!”
The newcomer just wouldn’t have it. He asked, again, “But aren’t you excited about Cinco de Mayo? It’s coming up! What are you and your family doing?”
Now the son nearest the door was a little bit angry, but he and his brother both laughed it off. “I told you, we celebrate the Fourth of July! My family has been in Texas forever. I’m from Lampasas, man! We’re not ‘Mexican-American’ or any other thing like that, we’re Americans! Fourth. Of. Ju. Ly. Not Cinco de Mayo.” Lampasas is northwest of Austin, near Killeen.
The newcomer finally seemed to give up. He started to sit down in one of the chairs by the door to wait his turn, but then seemed to change his mind, and he left.
The brothers just chuckled, and the one cutting my hair muttered “Cinco de Mayo? Whatever. We’re Americans. I’m from Lampasas.”
Then he asked me what I planned to do on Fourth of July. I told him that his plans sounded pretty good to me. Especially the bar-be-cue.
When I’m watching late night talk shows, it’s generally Conan or Jimmy Kimmel. Fallon strikes me as lazy but he’s growing on me.
I caught last night’s Late Night with Seth Meyers show and, frankly, I wish I hadn’t. He’s terrible.
He should’ve lost me with the monologue, which was full of weak obviousness. He led with an Earth Day joke in which a guy scolded him about throwing away a banana peel.
Banana peels are biodegradable, but whatever. He did a joke about AOL, meatballs, the shrinking middle class, and a bunch of other totally forgettable one-liners. I challenge you to laugh at just one of his monologue jokes.
He did some canned bit about 1980s NFL pencils. I used to have several of those pencils, so I could identify with collecting them when you were a kid. But the bit was just bad.
He did a “Deep Google” bit which could’ve very been funny, but wasn’t funny at all. It came off as embarrassingly contrived. Maybe that’s his schtick?
He did a bit in which he got romantic with planet earth because of Earth Day. It was awful. Painfully unfunny. Here, watch it if you want to, but it’s 3:30 you’ll never get back.
Then he had Sofia Vergara on. She can light up a black hole, but Meyers’ segment with her — bad. No chemistry.
Then he had Natalie Dormer on. She’s on Game of Thrones and is now filming the next Hunger Games movie. Dormer has been on everything, from The Tudors to Elementary and now the most talked-about show on earth.
Meyers mostly talked with her about running.
So, Meyers had two gorgeous actresses who are at the top of their games on his set, one right after the other, and he still managed to not be very interesting. The show would have flowed better if he had been cut out of both of those interviews entirely.
I didn’t stick around after the Dormer interview.
The Fox Business story about Hasbro’s turn of fortunes uses gender-normative terminology that, after a tween stared down McDonald’s over its scandalous Happy Meals toys, is no longer politically correct.
Toymaker Hasbro Inc. on Monday said it swung to a profit from a year-ago loss, boosted by strong sales in its girls toys category. Hasbro reported a first-quarter profit of $32.1 billion, or 24 cents a share, versus a loss of $6.7 billion, or 5 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. (emphasis added, offense unintended)
We can’t call them “girls toys” anymore, for two reasons. In the case of My Little Pony toys, even though they’re intended for girls age 8 and under, adult men are actually buying them and watching the TV show. I wish I was kidding, but I am not. Bronies are a thing, as Ronan Farrow helpfully reported in-depth for MSNBC not long ago.
The second reason that we cannot call girls toys girls toys is because of the courage and forward thinking of Antonia Ayres-Brown. The teen slatepitched McDonald’s out of using gender-normative terminology to describe the toys it puts in its Happy Meals.
In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”
A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.
This response was unsatisfying, so I began visiting more than a dozen local McDonald’s locations with my father to collect data. Ultimately, we brought a complaint to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against McDonald’s for discriminating on the basis of sex. Despite our evidence showing that, in our test, McDonald’s employees described the toys in gendered terms more than 79 percent of the time, the commission dismissed our allegations as “absurd” and solely for the purposes of “titilation [sic] and sociological experimentation.” All in all, this was a pretty humiliating defeat.
She goes on, and on, and on, from there. Seriously. She and her parents whittled off years of their lives pushing McDonald’s into a position where it is not allowed to speak clearly about an obvious and harmless thing.
The ending of it all is that McDonald’s will now confuse the life out of anyone who asks for the boys toy or the girls toy, until they go away angry that they ever bothered to order the Happy Meal.
Next, one supposes that Ayres-Brown will demand that McDonald’s create Happy Meal toys for each of Facebook’s 50 gender options.
That could take a while.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in March of 2013 as “The 10 Best Places to Eat in Austin, Texas“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Visit tomorrow for the conclusion of the series.
Austin, TX, home of SXSW, is known for its live music and its food. The fact is, you’d have to work pretty hard to find a bad meal in Austin. The people here take pride in being one of the food capitals of America. The weary SXSWer may have a hard time sorting the great places from the merely good, though, so as a local, I’m here to help out.
Locations: All over town.
This chain of wing stops was started by some UT students. Pluckers isn’t fancy but it’s local and good, and has restaurants all over town.
A Democrat-appointed Delaware judge one-upped the Texas judge who let a drunk driving teen off for “affluenza.” Judge Jan Jurden came up with a unique reason to let a convicted rapist out of having to go to prison for his crime.
A Superior Court judge who sentenced a wealthy du Pont heir to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter noted in her order that he “will not fare well” in prison and needed treatment instead of time behind bars, court records show.
Judge Jan Jurden’s sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV suggested that she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards was a rare and puzzling rationale, several criminal justice authorities in Delaware said. Some also said her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is a justification typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.
Richards is 6’4″ and over 250 pounds. He is a scion of the du Pont family. He is not ill or suffering from any ailments. He is unemployed, living on his family’s wealth. He owns two homes, one for which he paid $1.8 million in 2005. He’s doing quite well outside of prison.
He raped a little girl. And according to filings in his divorce, he admits to sexually abusing his infant son. Judge Jurden gave him 8 years in prison, then suspended the entire sentence with probation, and ordered him to get treatment. The entire 2009 case never made any news media until Richards’ wife filed a civil case against him this year.
O’Neill said the way the Richards case was handled might cause the public to be skeptical about “how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system.”
It’s just more evidence that there is one system of justice for the rich and connected, and another for everyone else — which is deeply un-American.
Look. Just go ahead and ban all the things. Except the things that we used to call evil and sins and that were obviously pretty harmful. Keep them. Ban the rest.
It’s a pretty bold move to blast Girl Scout cookies, those precious sugary treats whose limited run from late winter to early spring is just about over for the year.
But a few brave voices argue it’s no longer all that delightful to see little girls peddling packaged cookies, or to buy them in the name of supporting the community. (And no, this is not an April Fools’ joke.)
To some doctors and parents, the tradition increasingly feels out of step with the uncomfortable public health realities of our day.
“The problem is that selling high-fat sugar-laden cookies to an increasingly calorie-addicted populace is no longer congruent with [the Girl Scouts' aim to make the world a better place].” That’s what John Mandrola, a heart doctor in Louisville, Ky., on his blog in March. (He also blogs for Medscape/Cardiology.)
The sentiment was echoed by Diane Hartman, a writer and editor in Denver, who penned an indignant in the Denver Post, “Why are we letting Girl Scouts sell these fattening cookies?”
Exactly. Preach it, sister. Why are we allowing some people to do things that we personally disapprove, except those things that used to be taboo, which are a-ok now? Just ban all the things. Flip the script. Bring the hammer of gubmint down on them all.
Because, concern, and feelings, and all that crap.
See these two girls? They’re minions of evil, er, if we still believed in evil. Which hardly anyone does anymore.
Seems to me, one thing evil would do if it existed would be to divide people and distract them over stupid little stuff with no moral content, while really big issues carrying vast implications just slip past with no moral discussion whatsoever.
That would be a clever strategy.
This is a real question.
Can a man marry a jinni female?
On Islam Shari`ah ResearchersAnswer
Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother, thank you for your question that shows your interest in Islam.The question of whether a human may marry a jinni is a controversial one. There is no evidence from the Shari`ah that can be said to be authentic in that regard.
The majority of jurists are of the opinion that such a marriage is not lawful, but some jurists consider it to be lawful. The first opinion is the more correct to follow.
Allah Almighty says: ”And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.“ (Ar-Rum 30: 21)
He Almighty also says, ”O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you.“ (An-Nisaa’ 4: 1)
Yadda yadda yadda…
Anyway, the more correct opinion to follow in this regard is that it is not lawful for a human being to marry a jinni, for they are of different worlds.
In Al-Ashbah wa An-Nadha’r, Imam As-Suyuti, an eminent Shafi`i scholar, wrote: ”Answering the question ‘is it lawful for a human being to marry a jinni?’ Imad Ibn Yunus said, ‘Yes.’”
This question was also one of those that Sheikh Jamal Ad-Din Al-Esnawi posed to the supreme judge Sharaf Ad-Din Al-Barazi.
Sheikh Jamal asked the supreme judge “Is it lawful for a man to marry a female jinn? Contemplating Allah’s Words ”And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves ….“ (Ar-Rum 30: 21) I find that from among yourselves refers to that one’s mate or spouse is to be from the same kind as one, and this is a blessing from Almighty Allah. But if we supposed that this might be lawful, as Ibn Unus said in Sharh Al-Wajeiz, would the man in this case have the right to oblige his jinn wife to stick to home or not? Suppose also that he would dislike to see her in a form other than the human one; would he have the right to prevent her from incarnating in other forms?
Also, would the conditions required in a valid marriage contract be required in this case, also? For instance, would the jinn’s guardian’s approval be required? Would their marriage be acceptable according to the jinn laws? Suppose that once, he did not recognize her, for she was incarnating in a form different from that he usually sees her in, but she told him it was she. Would he believe her and thus could he make love to her? Would he also be required to provide her with food that the jinn eat, such as bones and the like?”
The supreme judge Sharaf Ad-Din Al-Barazi answered:
It is not lawful that members of human kind marry members of jinn kind. This is inferred from the following verses: “And Allah has made wives for you from among yourselves ….” (An-Nahl 16: 72) and “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves ….” (Ar-Rum 30: 21)
The exegetes say about these verses that the words from among yourselves in both verses refer to human kind; they may be paraphrased from your own kind or from your own nature.
These verses are analogous to the verse “Now hath come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves….” (At-Tawbah 9: 128), for from amongst yourselves here refers also to human kind.
Besides, Allah Almighty refers in His Book to the women who are lawful for men to marry: “O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts ….” (Al-Ahzab 33: 50) [What was applied to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) according to this verse is also applied to Muslim men in general.] Mind that it is juristically known that this verse also indicates that single women who are not related to one may also be marriageable to one.
Allah Almighty also refers in His Book to the women who are prohibited in marriage to one. Notice all this is about marriage to women of human nature. This is because there is no marriage between human beings and jinn. (The words of Sharaf Ad-Din Al-Barazi end here.)
Yadda yadda yadda… He’s being extremely thorough, isn’t he?
By analogy, we also find that it is prohibited to cross donkeys and horses, for this results in a hybrid different from horses, and this may, in turn, lead to the rarity of horses. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) commented on those who do so by saying, “Those who do so are ignorant.” If so is the case with animals, it is with greater reason that it also be the case with marriage between humans and jinnis.
However, Abu `Uthman Sa`id ibn Al-`Abass Ar-Razi said in his book Al-Ilham wa Al-Waswasah that it was reported that some Yemeni people wrote to Imam Malik: “A male jinni has come to us and proposed to marry a young (human) woman saying, ‘I seek to stick to the right path by this proposal.’” Imam Malik answered, “I see that there is nothing wrong in doing so, but I dislike to expose this woman to a situation where she might be asked about her husband and she would answer, ‘It is a male jinni.’ This may lead to corruption among Muslims.”
In his book Akam Al-Murjan, Ash-Shabli, a Hanifi scholar, stated: Scholars are of two opinions regarding marriage between humans and jinn. One says it is unlawful and the other says it is lawful. The first view was adopted by a group of Hanbali scholars and was also reported in As-Seraji Fatwas. They cited as evidence in this respect Almighty Allah’s words ”And Allah has made wives for you from among yourselves….” (An-Nahl 16 72) and “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect“ (Ar-Rum 30: 21) They also cited as evidence in this regard a hadith to the effect that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prohibited marriage to jinns. The second point of view in this regard was reported to have been adopted by Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, and others.
There is, however, one exemption.
Writing in USA Today, former Rep. Ron Paul (TX) shows that he will continue to be a problem for his son. Paul expresses a view of the Crimean “referendum” that is childish and foolish.
Residents of Crimea voted over the weekend on whether they would remain an autonomous region of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation. In so doing, they joined a number of countries and regions — including recently Scotland, Catalonia and Venice — that are seeking to secede from what they view as unresponsive or oppressive governments.
These latter three are proceeding without much notice, while the overwhelming Crimea vote to secede from Ukraine has incensed U.S. and European Union officials, and has led NATO closer to conflict with Russia than since the height of the Cold War.
That’s his lead, and if readers knew nothing about Crimea but Paul’s presentation, they would likely come away thinking that NATO started the problems. Reality, of course, is that Russia unilaterally invaded Crimea with about 16,000 troops wearing unmarked uniforms. Paul’s lead aligns well with Putin’s anti-NATO point of view.
What’s the big deal? Opponents of the Crimea vote like to point to the illegality of the referendum. But self-determination is a centerpiece of international law. Article I of the United Nations Charter points out clearly that the purpose of the U.N. is to “develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”
What has happened in Crimea cannot be understood strictly as the peninsula expressing its self-determination. The “big deal” is that Russia, having lost its puppet president in Kiev, moved to take Crimea not to protect any ethnic Russians living there, but to ensure that it kept hold of its navy base at Sevastopol. Russia appears to be pursuing two aims in Ukraine, neither having anything to do with self-determination. The first objective was to keep the aforementioned port, Russia’s only warm-water navy base. The second is energy, and achieving that objective will require Russia to move into eastern Ukraine, probably sooner rather than later.
Paul should be asked directly, why doesn’t he see Russia’s invasion of Crimea and its massing troops on Ukraine’s border as a “big deal.” He should also be asked to explain why, in his view, ethnic Ukrainians might have a problem or two with Russian troops occupying Crimea and threatening the rest of their country. There’s quite a bit of history between Ukraine and Russia. Does Paul understand any of it?
Critics point to the Russian “occupation” of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a “triumph of democracy”?
Here Paul runs to his usual “But America is even worse!” trope. The Crimea and Iraq situations are vastly different. Russia seized Crimea to own it. The US really did liberate Iraq from a madman; the elections there were truly Iraqis’ first taste of real democracy. Russia wanted to annex Crimea and is in the process of doing that. The US wanted a free Iraq to become an ally. Unfortunately, the power of Islam may overwhelm Iraq’s nascent secular democracy. Time will tell. If Iraqis choose poorly, that will not be America’s fault.
The fact that Ron Paul cannot tell the difference between the situations in Crimea and Iraq shows that he just does not understand the world and lacks the ability to discern anything that doesn’t fall neatly into his blinkered worldview. Ron Paul is dangerously naive. If Rand Paul wants to become a viable presidential candidate, he’ll have to figure out how to keep Dad’s views from becoming a massive problem for him.
Ron Paul has just sided with Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.
Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appeared on the Fox Business Network’s The Independents on Wednesday night where he was asked for his thoughts about the worsening situation in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Paul said that the United States and the West have engaged in hypocrisy and alleged that they participated in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich’s government. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “some law on his side” in Crimea because Russia held a lease on a naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
“This whole thing that Putin is the big cause of the trouble, and yet there’s pretty good evidence that the Europeans as well as the American government had to contrive to have the overthrow of a government that most people say had been elected,” Paul asserted.
“And then for them to come along and say, ‘Well, it’s an illegal government,’ and they want to have a referendum now, you know, in Crimea, ‘Oh, no, that’s not permissible,’” Paul continued. “Everything that Putin does is illegal. He’s no angel, but actually he has some law on his side.”
How does Putin have any law on his side? Crimea is not even Russian territory. Putin is taking advantage of the turmoil in Ukraine to seize and annex Crimea, probably on the way to either dismembering Ukraine or absorbing all of it by force.
Paul asserted that “contracts, and agreements, and treaties” associated with the Sevastopol base provide Putin with the legal basis to militarily occupy the peninsula. He said that Russia could accuse America of occupying Cuba because it, too, holds a lease on the land around the Guantanamo Bay prison.
“It’s such a façade,” he continued.
The facade is Ron Paul trying to sound reasonable. He leaps to blaming America in just about every instance — note the swipe about Cuba. The United States does not occupy Cuba just because we have a base there, and we are not about to absorb it. Gitmo was established long before the Castro regime took power.
If Sen. Rand Paul is to become a serious presidential contender, he is going to have to find a way to keep his cranky father off the TV. All Ron Paul does is blame America for the misdeeds of others, including Putin.
Host Matt Welch asked if Crimea’s snap referendum, scheduled to be held on Sunday, could really be considered legitimate given that it is being orchestrated by an occupational government “in the shadow” of the Russian government amassing forces on the Ukrainian border.
“Yeah,” Paul said. “I don’t think we should do all that threatening.” Welch attempted to clarify his question, but Paul went on to say that the Crimean invasion is being used as an “excuse” to erect interceptor missiles in “Russia’s backyard.”
The ballot in that referendum doesn’t even provide a “no” option. How can it be legitimate?
Paul goes on from there to assert that people have a right of secession, which is correct, but he then applies it to Crimea, which is incorrect. Crimea has not chosen secession yet. The Sunday vote isn’t about secession, it’s about annexation. Russia swooped in and put 30,000 troops on it and is now holding a snap vote to put a gloss of legitimacy on its invasion. Russia is also massing troops on Ukraine’s borders for what looks like a broader offensive.
Ron Paul would never, ever let any American administration get away with such obvious aggression. But he’s fine with Putin doing it.
Update: Putin is moving broadly against opposition, even outside of Russia. Does Ron Paul support this?
Not only did Putin block access to opposition news sites in Russia, but Rus govt contacted our admin to turn off servers. They work fast.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) March 13, 2014
Oh, Dennis, where do you want to start?
USA Today quotes the Worm:
“At least someone tried,” the retired NBA player said. “So that’s how I look at it. I don’t want to be a hero, I don’t want to be this, I don’t want to be that. I just wanted to be, just do happy things and do great things in life. That’s all I wanted to do. That’s it.
“I don’t want people to look at me as the devil or evil person,” he added. “If I put anyone in harm’s way, I apologize, you know. If you don’t want me to go back there ever again, I won’t go back.”
No one regards Rodman as “the devil” for calling the world’s most reclusive and possibly most evil and brutal dictator his “friend for life”. The word “fool” has been used frequently, though. “Credulous” and “naive” also apply. Also “arrogant,” because it takes a special combination of all these qualities plus hubris to think that playing a few basketball games and saying a couple nice things will change the likes of Kim.
Feast your eyes on how Apple hopes you remember its visionary founder, Steve Jobs.
That thing is a scale- model of the winning design, which was selected from among 10,000 entries. Were they all this ugly?
It’s memorable, for whatever that’s worth. It’s also nothing like anything Jobs would have probably approved. He was all about clean design that made intuitive sense. That statue has Cyrillic letters sticking out of the side, because the designer is Serbian. Also, it has a tiny, pitted pinhead. It is basically a disturbing Pez dispenser, but without candy. The full-size 10 to 15 foot version will be built and stand outside Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA, where it will frighten children and impressionable adults for generations to come.
It’s now legal to buy pot in two different ways in Colorado. You can get clearance to use it for medicinal purposes, or you can just go to a dispensary and buy your pot and pay sales and other taxes along the way.
BuzzFeed reports that many in Colorado are just keeping on buying their pot illegally.
But some people like Mario, a 31-year-old graduate student who works part-time at a restaurant, are still turning to the black market for their weed.
Sitting in a vegetarian café near his Denver apartment that has a bathroom covered in graffiti like “Urban Farming Is The Future!”, Mario said he feared being on a medical registry while still in school.
A lifelong Colorado resident, Mario, a slight man with glasses and a goatee, who asked that his last name to be withheld, has yet to step foot in a dispensary. That’s because he can get an ounce of weed for $60 from a coworker whose family member has a home grow. Granted, that’s an unusually low price, as high-quality green generally costs an average of $237 an ounce, according to priceofweed.com, a self-described “global price index for marijuana.”
Purchased legally, without a medical card, that same amount would put him out around $400.
“I’m afraid that information could get somehow compromised,” he said about his fears of his loans being affected by being on a medical registry. “The last thing I’d want is to get my federal funding cut off.”
On the other hand, Mario’s fear of getting on any government list makes sense and should be encouraged.
image courtesy shutterstock / KUCO
In December 2013, Google snapped up Boston Dynamics. You probably haven’t heard of that company. It makes terrifying robots that look like this:
That thing is called WildCat, and it’s designed to run fast on all kinds of terrain, while looking like something you had nightmares about when you were a kid. WildCat is being developed via DARPA funding. That’s the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Boston Dynamics was one of eight robotics companies that Google recently bought, along with Nest, which makes Internet-connected thermostat controls.
Boston Dynamics also makes this freaky thing, the Atlas. Atlas is also a DARPA project.
We have the beginnings of a droid army here. In the Star Wars universe, droids’ main weakness was their inability to think creatively. Well, other than R2-D2, but you’re not supposed to notice that droid thinking creatively all the time, making hash of the droids-can’t-think issue. The emperor secretly had the clone army built because the droids were just too predictable and lacked tactical awareness. Except R2-D2.
Google apparently doesn’t want to be tripped up by the same problem. Or it wants to build its own walking, running, DoD-funded R2-D2.
Today, Google reportedly added to its curious acquisitions with the purchase of a secretive artificial intelligence company called DeepMind.
Though DeepMind may not be a household name in tech, sources in the artificial intelligence community describe the company as a formidable AI player and say it has been aggressively recruiting in the space. One source said DeepMind has a team of at least 50 people and has secured more than $50 million in funding. This person described DeepMind as “the last large independent company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence,” and said it competed with companies like Google, Facebook and Baidu for talent.
Marry up Atlas and WildCat with DeepMind and the dumb droid problem may go away.
Despite the fact that Bridgegate is such an unimportant, non-scandal that even Tom Brokaw has started to wonder if the media hasn’t gone too far:
It’s already having an electoral impact.
— Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets) January 15, 2014
Wait, I think Christie would be yet another lousy nominee who would fail to cater to the center as moderate Republicans keep promising their nominees will, and crater with the GOP’s grassroots, so maybe this is a reason for optimism.
No, it’s a reason for pessimism. It’s a non-story that the media is turning into a full-blown crusade, mainly to kill off a GOP governor and distract from everything that Obama is doing.
John Kerry may be our top diplomat, but that doesn’t mean that he knows anything. He doesn’t.
In remarks following the meeting, Kerry linked poverty not only to terrorism, but to the “disenfranchisement of millions” [emphasis added]:
We talked about the common interest of Pope Francis and President Obama in addressing poverty and extreme poverty on a global basis. The United States of America is deeply involved in efforts in Africa and in other parts of the world – in Asia, South Central Asia – to address this poverty, as is the Catholic Church. And so we have a huge common interest in dealing with this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism or even the root cause of the disenfranchisement of millions of people on this planet.
Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri are rich. They certainly didn’t get into terrorism because of poverty. The Saudi and other oil sheiks who fund terrorism aren’t poor either. The current Washington clown show does not understand the enemy’s motivations.
Another day, another lawless Obamacare delay.
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it was again extending the ObamaCare enrollment deadline for people with pre-existing conditions.
The administration said it would extend the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP), slated to end Jan. 31, until March 15.
“As part of our continuing effort to help smooth consumers’ transition into Marketplace coverage, we are allowing those covered by PCIP additional time to shop for new coverage while they receive the ongoing care and treatment they need,” Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement.
The deadline was originally at the end of December, but last month, the administration pushed it back through January because of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov.
The new extension is just the latest in a string of unilateral delays the administration has implemented to buy time after the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Unilateral, lawless and illegal, whatever.
Justin Bieber could be deported for felony vandalism.
The 19-year-old pop star has not been arrested at this time following a search of his Calabasas, Calif., home in connection with an egg-throwing incident in his posh neighborhood—but if he is and subsequently charged with a felony.
Immigration attorney Michael Wildes, whose firm’s clientele over the years has included John Lennon and Craig David, tells E! News that Bieber would not be deported “for an egg-throwing incident.”
Bieber is currently residing in the United States on an O-1 visa, issued by the government to people with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics,” according to U.S. visa policy.
“But,” Wildes added, “if an assault or battery charge was leveled, that could be more serious. Visa fraud, a gun charge, burglary are usually things that [are] tantamount to that type of scrutiny.
“The truth is, crimes are crimes and the government has a strong policy of pursuing individuals who are here on temporary visas if the case warrants it. However, I do not believe that this case warrants it.”
Whatever a Justin Bieber is could be sent back to Canuckistan? Our long national nightmare could be over? Watch the wheels of injustice grind. He won’t be deported, much to our everlasting national shame.
As we study the core beliefs that animate religious cable network MSNBC, it’s important to determine what is ruled in and what is ruled out. Clearly, everyone at MSNBC seeks to please Barack Obama in some way in their daily lives every day. How one goes about pleasing Him is for the most part one’s own business, but the ethics that one abides by should be more or less universal, at least among members of the following.
Today, MSNBC’s faith leaders debated the ethics of lying for a good cause. Specifically, the good cause was saving a few bucks by lying to Amazon.
MSNBC’s is a new and growing faith, so very little has been canonized or written down. Matt Yglesias leads today’s study with a parable from his own life: He lied to Amazon to receive a mother’s discount.
I hope I’m not heteronorming in pointing out that, as a man, Matt Yglesias is not a mother. He’s not even a father.
Amazon’s intent was to reward mothers by chopping a few bucks off some prices for them. That, in the MSNBC religion, amounts to unacceptable price discrimination.
Most people just see it as Amazon being a good corporate citizen.
Josh Barro took up the position that lying to Amazon, in order to save a few bucks by claiming a mother’s discount one doesn’t deserve, is perfectly fine.
“I think I’m a very good guy and very good fake parent,” Barro said.
Well, it’s hard to be a bad fake parent. No matter what you do, your nonexistent kid won’t grow up to suffer from “affluenza.” They won’t pose in an Obamacare ad wearing footies despite the fact that they’re over 26 years old. Nonexistent children are worry free. They can’t even disappoint any of MSNBC’s faith leaders by voting Republican.
Toure chimed in: “Who’s getting hurt here?”
Well, the ethics there are a little murky for the faithful leftist. Amazon is being deprived of a few bucks, and Amazon owns the Washington Post, so it’s possible that the mother’s discount deception will result in some at the Post not getting raises or bonuses. It’s tricky if you take the holistic view.
Toure demonstrates his shallow understanding of Amazon’s purpose: “Amazon’s not even really into making money, right?”
That would be news to billionaire and founder Jeff Bezos. Also, to everyone he employs and pays, and to everyone who sells products via Amazon. It would be news to a lot of people.
Krystal Ball — which is her real name — was the only voice from the wilderness: “I still say even if it is a corporation that you’re lying to, it’s still a lie.”
“It’s a noble lie,” Toure responded.
As a host on MSNBC, Toure works for a corporation. He has therefore declared that it’s “noble” to lie to the people who pay him. His employers might be interested to know if he has told them any noble lies.
Such is the murky ethical landscape of a new and developing religion.
And by “we,” she means herself and pretty much everyone else in the media.
Walters made the admission in a chat with another member of the media’s Obama faithful, Piers Morgan.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: You have interviewed every president of my lifetime. Why is Obama facing so much opposition now? Why is he struggling so much to really fulfill the great flame of ambition and excitement that he was elected on originally in 2009?
BARBARA WALTERS: Well, you’ve touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but – the next messiah. And the whole ObamaCare, or whatever you want to call it, the Affordable Health Act, it just hasn’t worked for him, and he’s stumbled around on it, and people feel very disappointed because they expected more.
Walters hastened to follow up with an encouraging note for the faithful: Obama still has a couple years, so he can turn this whole thing around!
Hey, even Jesus had to die before he could be resurrected. If Obama can turn his polls around, well, he’ll be a miracle worker too…
Walters’ comment explains quite a bit, doesn’t it. On the one hand we had the media elites tripping over themselves and each other to wave palm branches as they heralded their new messiah with his Greek columns and his total lack of experience. They were never going to vet him to question him. On the other hand, we had elites like Peggy Noonan who call themselves conservative but who care more about their standing with the liberals they associate with than about any actual principle. It has taken each five years to come to their crisis of faith. Walters admits that Obama just might not be the chosen one (but he still could be!). Noonan finally realizes what many of us saw years ago — that Barack Obama is incompetent and has brought forth a regime that is incompetence all the way down.
Noonan probably came to this conclusion some time ago, but only now does she have the courage to state what has been obvious for half a decade at least.
Walters is holding out prayerful hope to see her messiah rise once more.
But will the reboot turn out better than the awful, un-Godzilla-like 1998 treatment that starred Matthew Broderick?
The first teaser-trailer for 2014′s Godzilla is out. Take a look. You should take it full screen. Chromecast it if you’ve got it.
The teaser opens with a group of soldiers HALO leaping into a city that is already being ravaged by the beast. We get to fall along with the troops, then see fleeting glimpses of the wreckage on the ground, reactions from the puny humans in the city, and then the monster, shrouded in a massive cloud of dust and debris.
The teaser doesn’t show much of the legendary monster, whose name is an amalgamation of the Japanese words for “gorilla” and “whale,” but what is shown already looks far better than the villain from the 1998 version. That Godzilla was more of a leaned-forward speed-walking dinosaur-like creature than the upright plodding disaster of the Toho films. It neither moved nor felt very much like Godzilla.
The 2014 version appears to be standing upright in the sequence that leads up to the frame below. The sequence begins with a shot of Godzilla’s feet at ground level, tracks upward showing the spikes on his back, and around his neck to his head. And then we hear a bona fide Godzilla roar. This is no man in a rubber suit, and the cinematography that brings him to life is spectacular.
Godzilla’s cast looks decent. Hollywood notoriously lacks any original ideas these days, and returning to a giant monster that first leveled Tokyo in 1954 certainly doesn’t speak to the film industry’s originality now.
But still…it’s Godzilla. In 3D. And IMAX 3D. Movies just don’t get much bigger than that.
Godzilla destroys us all starting May 16, 2014.