Archive for December, 2014

Happy New Year

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When you take a moment and look around at the world, things can appear pretty messed up.

Take 5 or 10 minutes and watch the 6 o’clock news. Chances are, the entire time, all you are going to see is war, conflict, death, illness, etc.

Sure, this is part of the mainstream medias content strategy to sell drama and keep people focused on it, but besides that it reveals something real about the current state of our world.

I believe Michael Ellner said it well in his quote:

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.”

Now obviously Ellner’s quote is a simplified way of looking at our current state, but in many ways it’s bang on. Most of what we do in the name of “good” ends up destroying something else in the process and is passed off mainly in the name of profit.

We’ve seen over and over again how our ways have brought us to a point where we are destroying everything in our path, so the question must be asked, isn’t it time for change? Are we fully capable, honest, and determined enough to look at our past, where our actions and thought-patterns have brought us to this point, and now do something completely different in order to restore balance?

The people over at The Free World Charter believe it’s time for that and have put together a list of facts about society we oddly accept as normal.

10 facts about our society that we oddly accept as normal

1. We prioritize money and the economy over basics like air, water, food quality, our environment and our communities.

2. We utilize an economic trading system that facilitates the death of millions of people each year.

3. We divide the worlds land into sections and then fight over who owns these sections.

4. We call some people “soldiers” which makes it OK for them to kill other people.

5. We torture and kill millions of animals everyday needlessly for food, clothing and experiments.

6. We send children to school for their entire childhood to memorize facts and skills that they will rarely use. More on education here.

7. We impose financial pressures on parents, forcing them to miss out on vital stages of their child’s development.

8. We have thousands of religions, each one believing that their God or god-story is the only true and unique version.

9. Love and compassion, which promotes life, are mocked as facile. Whereas war, which harms life, is seen as honorable.

10. Anyone with a really useful invention, can forcefully prevent others from using or modifying it.






syping apps

Of the apps in our chart, these — Viber, Skype, WhatsApp and GO Launcher EX (clockwise from top left) — ask for the most permissions.

You’d may be surprised at the dozens of pieces of data that some of the most popular apps are collecting about you every day


It’s no secret that Facebook can track pretty much every detail about your personal life. But did you know that Happy Fish—a popular kids game based on the Android operating system—might be a worse privacy offender?

Happy Fish’s developer, HappyElements, programmed the game so that it can collect a trove of information about you (and your kids) through the app. The game knows your precise location, has access to your photos and can read your text messages. It can even tell which Wi-Fi network you’re using.

We’ll get to why the game does this in a minute—and what it does and doesn’t do with that information—but let’s just pause for a second.

This is a bit creepy, right?

Plenty of people think so. Just check out some of the reviews on hit games. Fruit Ninja, for instance, consistently weirds people out with the personal data it asks them to fork over. The permissions “are crazy,” writes one reviewer. “I will never install this until it is clear as to why the developer needs access to all your private content.”

We reached out to Jason Hong, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon and founder of, a site that ranks apps by how well they respect your personal privacy. Hong is a leading researcher on app security. So we asked him: What do the most downloaded apps know about us, and what do they do with that information?

Hong helped us run an analysis of these apps– and you can see the results in the chart below. We chose to focus on Android apps for a couple of reasons. First, there are about a billion Android users, which gives them about 62 percent of the smartphone market, compared with Apple’s 33 percent. Second, Android, unlike Apple, makes it easy to run a robot to retrieve the permission data easily. But our findings are relevant for any mobile phone user—it’s a barometer of what app makers think they can get away with.

As you’ll see from our chart, running down the left side, we’ve listed 25 of some of the most popular apps in the Google Play store, including Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp. There are actually about 60 permissions that these apps can ask for—everything from making your phone vibrate to accessing your camera. (You can find a full list of all the potential permissions here.) For practical reasons, we asked Hong to highlight four permissions that he thought were potentially the most alarming. Across the top, we list those four: contacts, text messages, call log and microphone. All of these are pretty straightforward, but the microphone permission is especially eerie. Imagine all the audio around you being recorded by some app, without your knowledge.

To be clear, these apps don’t actually activate your microphone until you tell them to (e.g. you make a phone call on the Skype app), but in the future, that may change. Facebook freaked out users in May when it announced a new (optional) feature that would let the microphone listen in on your conversations.




By Marcie Gainer

David Cronenberg writes at The Paris Review:

I woke up one morning recently to discover that I was a seventy-year-old man. Is this different from what happens to Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis? He wakes up to find that he’s become a near-human-sized beetle (probably of the scarab family, if his household’s charwoman is to be believed), and not a particularly robust specimen at that. Our reactions, mine and Gregor’s, are very similar. We are confused and bemused, and think that it’s a momentary delusion that will soon dissipate, leaving our lives to continue as they were. What could the source of these twin transformations possibly be? Certainly, you can see a birthday coming from many miles away, and it should not be a shock or a surprise when it happens. And as any well-meaning friend will tell you, seventy is just a number. What impact can that number really have on an actual, unique physical human life?

In the case of Gregor, a young traveling salesman spending a night at home in his family’s apartment in Prague, awakening into a strange, human/insect hybrid existence is, to say the obvious, a surprise he did not see coming, and the reaction of his household—mother, father, sister, maid, cook—is to recoil in benumbed horror, as one would expect, and not one member of his family feels compelled to console the creature by, for example, pointing out that a beetle is also a living thing, and turning into one might, for a mediocre human living a humdrum life, be an exhilarating and elevating experience, and so what’s the problem? This imagined consolation could not, in any case, take place within the structure of the story, because Gregor can understand human speech, but cannot be understood when he tries to speak, and so his family never think to approach him as a creature with human intelligence. (It must be noted, though, that in their bourgeois banality, they somehow accept that this creature is, in some unnamable way, their Gregor. It never occurs to them that, for example, a giant beetle has eaten Gregor; they don’t have the imagination, and he very quickly becomes not much more than a housekeeping problem.) His transformation seals him within himself as surely as if he had suffered a total paralysis. These two scenarios, mine and Gregor’s, seem so different, one might ask why I even bother to compare them. The source of the transformations is the same, I argue: we have both awakened to a forced awareness of what we really are, and that awareness is profound and irreversible; in each case, the delusion soon proves to be a new, mandatory reality, and life does not continue as it did…

Continue reading.

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By LightvsRight via Deviant Art (CC BY 3.0)

By LightvsRight via Deviant Art (CC BY 3.0)

By Chaos_Dynamics

via IEET:

There’s a pervasive notion that monogamous relationships are the end-all-be-all – the default pact in human couplings that keep the fabric of society from being torn apart. But growing numbers of scientists believe monogamy is not our biological default; and may not even represent the best road to happiness.

Nearly all mammalian species demonstrate sexual promiscuity. Even mate-for-life prairie voles, the animal kingdom’s poster child of monogamous relationships produce pups from different fathers twenty percent of the time. Moreover, say historians, for humans, promiscuous behavior is not new at all.

Anthropologists have uncovered clues to how our Paleolithic ancestors lived. Before the advent of agriculture, humans faced a short, brutal lifespan. Some survived to age 50, but most died young or at birth with average life expectancy in the 30-to-40 range.

With such a short lifespan, ancestral children were likely to experiment with sex by age six. Most couples lived in temporary relationships, and being unfaithful was common for these cave dwellers.

When our forbears found themselves in an unhappy situation, they simply walked away and found another cave. Scientists believe that hunter-gatherers had sex mostly for fun, not just to reproduce.

Rutgers University researcher Helen Fisher has written five books on the future of human sex, love, and relationships, and she believes that marriage has changed more in the last 100 years than the previous 10,000, and it could change more in the next 20 years than it did in the past 100!…

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White wine also contains up to 10 times more sugar than red, according to the Food Standards Agency. Whereas red contains 0.2g sugar per 100ml, rose contains 2.5g per 100ml. Meanwhile dry white wine contains 0.6g and medium white wine 3g per 100ml

White wine also contains up to 10 times more sugar than red, according to the Food Standards Agency. Whereas red contains 0.2g sugar per 100ml, rose contains 2.5g per 100ml. Meanwhile dry white wine contains 0.6g and medium white wine 3g per 100ml

  • Many women say they can no longer drink white wine
  • They complain it makes them upset, aggressive and/or accident prone
  • MailOnline set out to investigate possible reasons why
  • Some experts suggest speed at which it’s drunk, others blame alcohol level
  • Other theories include higher levels of sugar and sulphites in white wine

There was a time when an evening with friends was synonymous with a nice, chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (or four).

But as the years have rolled by, that crisp, glass of gooseberry-flavoured nectar has fallen out of favour.

‘No white wine for me – it sends me mental,’ is how it started. ‘Nor me,’ said another friend, and on it went.

In fact, over the last few years, nearly a dozen of my female friends have declared they can no longer drink what used to be our favourite tipple.

One was almost arrested, another broke her wrist and another very nearly got run over.

There are countless other tales of tears, tantrums and Tube journeys going disastrously wrong.

But what is it about the drink of choice for so many women that sends them doolally – or ‘psychotic’, as one friend confessed?

Is there something in the wine itself or is it the way we consume it that wreaks such havoc?

Firstly, different people react to alcohol in very different ways, Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser to the charity Drinkaware.

‘Women react more quickly to alcohol,’ she explained. ‘If you’re a sturdy woman, you might think you can drink any scrawny man under the table – but don’t be fooled.

‘Even if a woman is the same size as a man, she will have more body fat and less body water.

‘Since alcohol is only distributed in body water, you’ll have a higher proportion of it in your bloodstream.’

This, she says, may be why women tend to suffer from worse hangovers.

Indeed, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbi found that not only do women get drunk faster, but their hangover symptoms were more severe – even though they drank the same amount as the men.

Then there’s eating on on an empty (or at least emptier than many a man’s) stomach, which one study likened to taking alcohol intravenously.

'The strength of wine has also increased,' GP Arun Ghosh told MaiOnline. Experts advise those who are worried about their consumption - and the effects - to cut down on glass size and the alcohol volume of wine

‘The strength of wine has also increased,’ GP Arun Ghosh told MaiOnline. Experts advise those who are worried about their consumption – and the effects – to cut down on glass size and the alcohol volume of wine


A large glass of 13% wine puts a woman over the government’s lower risk guidelines.

Another small glass (125ml) will put men over the guidelines too.

Wine is often consumed at dinner time alongside a meal but did you know that a large glass of 13% wine (250ml) can add 228 calories to your evening supper?

This is similar to a Cornetto ice cream or two fish fingers.

A standard glass of 13% red or white wine (175ml) could also contain up to 160 calories which is similar to a slice of Madeira cake.

Often when sharing wine, we assume we’re drinking less calories but a bottle of wine shared between two could mean you are consuming 340 calories each – that’s the equivalent of a pain au chocolat pastry each…

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by Michael Snyder

In Russia, shopping malls are putting out American flag doormats for people to wipe their feet on, and there are stores that are selling toilet paper with the American flag imprinted on it. Surveys show that Russian attitudes toward the U.S. are now even worse than they were during the end of the Cold War, and ordinary Russians are blaming America for everything from the overthrow of the Ukrainian government to the collapse of the ruble. The Russian government has just authorized a new military doctrine which identifies the United States as a top threat, and commentators on Russian television are using extremely strong language to condemn the United States. In fact, one of the most prominent Russian commentators has referred to the United States as “the kingdom of the Antichrist“. To the Russians, a new Cold War has erupted, and they very clearly view the United States as enemy number one.

But in the U.S., things are completely different. Most Americans feel absolutely no animosity toward Russians or their government. And most Americans do not consider Russia to be a “threat” whatsoever. In this country, “the Cold War” is a relic from the past, and our relationship with Russia is very low on the list of political issues. Most people seem to feel that the current tension between the U.S. and Russia is a temporary thing that will fade away eventually. Nobody is making Russian flag doormats or selling toilet paper with Russian flags on it.

So most Americans have a really hard time grasping what is going on inside Russia right now. Even if they have heard about how much Russians hate us, they don’t really understand how this could be possible.

And most Americans have no idea that the Russians even have a special derogatory word for us now. The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Observer article

If you talk to a Russian about the international political situation, sooner or later you will be informed that there is a country in North America that you never heard of. Its name is ‘Pindosia,’ ‘Pindostan’ or, more officially, ‘United States of Pindostan,’ and you will be told that one part of it, called Alaska , used to belong to Russia. Part of the word – ‘stan’ – stands for underdeveloped state, as in ‘ Pakistan ’, ‘ Kazakhstan ’ or ‘ Uzbekistan.’ The citizens of this country in plural form are called ‘pindoses’, in singular – ‘pindos’.

So exactly what is a “pindos”? Personally, I found the definition to be quite surprising

The word ‘pindos’ in Russian is highly offensive, and defines a helpless creature that is a product of a very bad educational system, one who can survive in this world only with the help of different gadgets.

The animosity that Russians have for the United States runs very deep, and it has been growing over time.

In fact, back in the 1990s, 80 percent of Russians actually had a positive attitude toward America…

Today, according to the respected Moscow ‘Levada Center,’ which measures political sentiment in Russian society, 74% of Russians have negative feelings towards the USA . It hasn’t always been like this – in the 1990s, 80% had positive attitude toward America.

Right now 76% of Russians hate Obama personally and only meager 2% like him. In 2009 only 12 % of Russians had extremely negative feelings towards Obama.

What a difference a couple of decades makes.

Today, anti-American sentiment is everywhere. This is especially true in Moscow. As I mentioned above, you can now find American flag doormats outside of shopping malls and business establishments


– See more at:




By: Joshua Cook

‘An online video that is being heavily shared via Palestinian social media is to instruct Jihadists on how to stab and quickly kill a Jewish person.

According to the Jewish Press, the group circulating the video calls themselves the “resisters of occupation in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.”

The 1-minute and 13-second video shows the “teacher” calmly walking up to a “victim,” stabbing him, and walking away.

The viewer is instructed how to inflict the most damage on the victim by twisting and turning the knife.

According to, this video comes as 2014 has seen an exponential increase in Arab stabbing attacks against Israeli Jews.










By Alex Greig and Associated Press | Mail Online

A woman who invented a wild tale of survival during the holocaust has been ordered to forfeit the $22.5 million judgement she won from her publishers by a Massachusetts court.

Published in 1997, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years is about a Jewish girl from Brussels who walked across Europe by herself after her parents were seized by Nazis.

Misha Defonseca, 76, and her ghostwriter Vera Lee won $32.4 million from publisher Jane Daniel and Mt Ivy Press in a copyright registration claim in 1998 in which Daniel was found to have conducted ’highly improper representations and activities.’

Daniel appealed, but in 2005 the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld the judgement.

However, during the appeal process, inconsistencies in Defonseca’s outlandish tale began to attract the suspicion of Daniel, journalists, forensic genealogists, reports the Courthouse News Service.

In her memoir, Defonseca wrote that she trekked 1,900 miles across Europe in search of her parents. She spent months living in the forest with a pack of wolves, hiding from Nazis and in one encounter, stabbed a Nazi rapist to death.

These events all occurred when she was aged between seven and 11 years old, according to the book.

Following her trial loss, Daniel set out to determine whether Defonseca’s tale was truthful.

She eventually located a document that included Defonseca’s maiden name – which in the book was Levy – and her date and place of birth.

Her real name, Daniel found, was Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael, and she was not Jewish.

During the time she was supposed to have been communing with wolves and killing Nazis, Defonseca was in actual fact enrolled in a Brussels school.

Defonseca, now living in Massachusetts, has admitted that her best-selling book was an elaborate fantasy she kept repeating, even as the book was translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France.

’This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving,’ Defonseca said in a statement given by her lawyers to The Associated Press.

’I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed. I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a four-year-old girl who was very lost,’ the statement said…




Apache helicopters flying in Afghanistan in 2011. (Photo: DVIDSHUB/flickr/cc)

Reporting by Der Spiegel shows low-level suspected Taliban, drug traffickers targeted for killing

Newly revealed documents show that NATO’s “kill list” for Afghanistan operations included not just senior Taliban leaders but those suspected of being low- and mid-level operatives as well as drug traffickers, Der Spiegel has reported.

Some of the secret documents, which are from 2009 to 2011, are from the trove released by Edward Snowden, the German paper states.

“The documents show that the deadly missions were not just viewed as a last resort to prevent attacks, but were in fact part of everyday life in the guerrilla war in Afghanistan,” Der Spiegel reports.

As part of a strategy the White House called “escalate and exit” that started in 2009, NATO troops would start with a “cleansing” phase—killing insurgents. The paper cites Michael T. Flynn, the head of ISAF intelligence in Afghanistan, as saying during a briefing: “The only good Talib is a dead Talib.”

Among the documents cited and made publicly available by Der Spiegel is the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL). It lists, with names redacted by the paper, 669 targets, their code names and one of four priority levels. The location for some of those on the list is across the border in Pakistan.

In contrast to claims made by the U.S. government regarding those targeted for assassination, one person who was put on the list in the summer of 2010 was an Afghan soldier named Hussein. Not a senior operational leader posing an imminent threat, Hussein was merely suspected of being part of an attack on ISAF forces, and his placement on the list was meant to use his death as a deterrent, the paper reports.

Der Spiegel reports that the search for the men on the list relied sometimes on only their cell phone signal, and that the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, maintained a list of these numbers. Voice recognition could be used to warrant an airstrike.

The paper quotes a secret British report from October 2010 as stating that the use of cell phone signals was “central to the success of operations.”

Risks of civilian casualties from strikes against those on the list were weighed, but seemed to be often accepted, and “civilian” only referred to women, children and elderly.

“The rule of thumb was that when there was estimated collateral damage of up to 10 civilians, the ISAF commander in Kabul was to decide whether the risk was justifiable,” Der Spiegel quotes an ISAF officer who worked with the lists for years as saying.

An example of civilian casualties caused by the hunt for those put on the list is given in another document cited by Der Spiegel, which reveals a botched missile strike at supposed mid-level operative Mullah Niaz Mohammed. It instead killed a boy and wounded his father.

The reporting also explains how the wide net of those targeted for assassination covered those deemed to be narcotics traffickers…




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