Society's Child

Red Flag

New York Times quietly edits editorial to make it less damning of Obama

The New York Times edited its damning editorial condemning the Obama administration for collecting phone call data from Americans to make it less stinging shortly after the editorial was published online Thursday afternoon.

The editorial originally declared that the Obama "administration has lost all credibility" as a result of the recently revealed news that the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been secretly collecting call data from American users of Verizon under the authority of the Patriot Act.

But hours later the stinging sentence had been modified to read the Obama "administration has now lost all credibility on this issue." [Emphasis added]

According to, a website which tracks changes to online articles, at 3:34 p.m. ET the editorial damned the Obama administration generally and by 7:09 p.m. ET it had been edited to damn the Obama administration more narrowly over its collection of call data.

NewsDiffs also showed that several other modifications had been made to the editorial, but none as significant as its change to the originally broad condemnation of the Obama administration.

The new version of the article contains no indication that it has been changed.

Comment: Perhaps some NYT editors became worried about a possible loss of "access". As Glenn Greenwald says in the article below, "The overwhelming, driving bias of the US media is subservience to power, whoever happens to be wielding it. "
'Freedom' of the press: Journalism in the Obama age shows the real media bias


NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I am not afraid, because this is the choice I've made'

snowden nsa whistleblower
© The Guardian
Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA
The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations - the NSA.

Comment: Snowden's reply to why he become a whistleblower: "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

Arrow Up

Europe, Nations around the world rejecting Monsanto

Likely the most hated corporation in the world, Monsanto definitely isn't winning any popularity contests. But like the delusional "mean girl" in high school, they still think they have a chance at being crowned prom queen purely on the basis of their money. According to MarketWatch, Monsanto announced last week that they will not be seeking approval for new genetically modified seeds in Europe because no one there seems to want it.

A spokesperson for the huge company says it makes no sense to fight for approval when there is such little demand for their products in the region.
People 2

The people who don't want to have sex with anybody ever

Minerva isn't gay. A fluid conversationalist, the Massachusetts native has been artfully rehashing this point for the last three hours.

"I have been told I could easily be mistaken as a lesbian" she says, gesturing to her cropped, copper hair as evidence. "Which is not a bad thing."

Minerva isn't a lesbian, she says, but she certainly isn't straight. At 29 years old, Minerva, who asked that she be identified by the name of her Tumblr, has never had a romantic relationship. She calls herself "asexual" meaning she doesn't experience sexual attraction. To anyone.

To the deep chagrin of some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Minerva also uses the word "queer" to define her sexuality. A re-appropriated term of endearment for sexual minorities, "queer" is as emotionally charged as it is oddly exclusive, and there is an ongoing, online debate about whether she should feel comfortable using it to self-identify. In some corners of the internet, that debate has turned to all out war.

In October 2011, an outreach organisation called Asexual Awareness Week released a "Community Census" that polled data from over 3,000 asexual-identifying people. In the survey, more than 40 percent of respondents said they consider themselves members of the LGBT community, and another 38 percent said they consider themselves "allies" or supporters of the community.

The 150 things the world's smartest people are afraid of

Every year, the online magazine Edge--the so-called smartest website in the world, helmed by science impresario John Brockman--asks top scientists, technologists, writers, and academics to weigh in on a single question. This year, that query was "What Should We Be Worried About?", and the idea was to identify new problems arising in science, tech, and culture that haven't yet been widely recognized.

This year's respondents include former presidents of the Royal Society, Nobel prize-winners, famous sci-fi authors, Nassem Nicholas Taleb, Brian Eno, and a bunch of top theoretical physicists, psychologists, and biologists. And the list is long. Like, book-length long. There are some 150 different things that worry 151 of the planet's biggest brains. And I read about them all, so you don't have to: here's the Buzzfeedized version, with the money quote, title, or summary of the fear pulled out of each essay. Obviously, go read the rest if any of the below get you fretting too.

What keeps the smartest folks in the world awake at night? Here goes:

1. The proliferation of Chinese eugenics. - Geoffrey Miller, evolutionary psychologist.

2. Black swan events, and the fact that we continue to rely on models that have been proven fraudulent. - Nassem Nicholas Taleb

3. That we will be unable to defeat viruses by learning to push them beyond the error catastrophe threshold. - William McEwan, molecular biology researcher

4. That pseudoscience will gain ground. - Helena Cronin, author, philospher

5. That the age of accelerating technology will overwhelm us with opportunities to be worried. - Dan Sperber, social and cognitive scientist

6. Genuine apocalyptic events. The growing number of low-probability events that could lead to the total devastation of human society. - Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society

7. The decline in science coverage in newspapers. - Barbara Strauch, New York Times science editor

Recession out of the picture as Fermanagh puts on a brave face for G8 leaders

County's makeover plan branded 'a big lie' as reality of recession is hidden
© Bryan O’Brien
Stickers applied to the windows of a former butcher’s shop in Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, give the premises the superficial appearance of a thriving business
Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on a Fermanagh facelift as the county prepares for the G8 summit in just under three weeks' time, but locals complain the work paid for by the local council and the Stormont Executive is little more than skin deep.

More than 100 properties within range of the sumptuous Lough Erne resort which hosts the world's wealthiest leaders, have been tidied up, painted or power-hosed.

However, locals say the makeover only serves to hide a deeper malaise which US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande and others will not get to see.

Two shops in Belcoo, right on the border with Blacklion, Co Cavan, have been painted over to appear as thriving businesses. The reality, as in other parts of the county, is rather more stark.

Just a few weeks ago, Flanagan's - a former butcher's and vegetable shop in the neat village - was cleaned and repainted with bespoke images of a thriving business placed in the windows. Any G8 delegate passing on the way to discuss global capitalism would easily be fooled into thinking that all is well with the free-market system in Fermanagh. But, the facts are different.

Comment: Remember Potemkin villages?

Che Guevara

Valedictorian rips up preapproved speech, recites prayer instead

My high school graduation was so long ago (13 years to be exact) that I cannot recall one word that our valedictorian said in his speech. I'm sure some inspirational words were said, and we were told to go and make our way in the world. As well thought-out as the speech likely was, it did not become a news story.

Unbearable: Chinese drugmaker pulls IPO over bear bile protests

Bear Bile
© Pharmalot
A highly controversial initial public offering by a Chinese drugmaker, which uses bile from captive black bears to make medicines for treating the liver and eye, has been scrapped after more than two years of sustained protests from animal-rights activists, according to The South China Morning Post.

The Fujian Guizhentang Pharmaceutical stock sale was one of nearly 270 that were pulled amid increased scrutiny of IPOs by the China Securities Regulatory Commission. But an explanation was not offered and local media were reporting the drugmaker plans to fund expansion through other means.

"This is a victory for animal welfare activists but already the media are reporting that Guizhentang will enlarge the scale of its business and may return to the idea of flotation at an opportune time in the future," says Toby Zhang of AnimalsAsia, an activist group, in a statement.

As we noted last year, the drugmaker has nearly 500 captive bears on its farm and planned to use the proceeds to increase that number to about 1,200 (back story). Although its safety and effectiveness has been questioned, bear bile is used in traditional medicine in Asia to clean livers and improving vision. Three decades ago, captive breeding replaced the original method of killing wild black bears to obtain their bile.
Arrow Down

Fake shark warning signs posted at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz

Fake Shark Warning_1
This "Shark Warning" sign was posted early Thursday morning. Surfers still surfed.
Eight shark warning signs were posted around Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz early Thursday morning telling surfers to stay out of the water.

A fake public notice dated 6/6/2013 read "Shark Warning Water Advisory," and said three great white shark attacks happened on Wednesday at three popular surf spots: Capitola Beach, Privates, and Rockview.

"Due to the highly aggressive nature of these encounters, it is strongly advised to stay out of the water for 48 hours or surf Cowells instead," the advisory read.

Cowells is on Santa Cruz's west side, Pleasure Point is on the east side, and the two sides have a longtime rivalry. They share one thing in common: their waves are crowded.

Chinese passenger aircraft has high altitude collision with "unknown object"

© WhoForted?
A Chinese flight was cut short earlier this week when the passenger aircraft had a high altitude collision with an "unknown object", putting a heck of a dent in the hood and grounding the plane. Did a commercial aircraft get into a fender bender with a UFO?

On June 4th, Air China flight CA4307 took off towards Guangzhou, but just 40 minutes later, a mid-air collision with a mysterious foreign object resulted in "worsened performance", and sent the flight back to its departure point.

When the aircraft landed, and the passengers were safely escorted off, maintenance crews noticed a huge dent in the nose of the plane, prompting an internal investigation into the incident that remains ongoing.