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Sun, 20 Oct 2019
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Google permitted to siphon water from dwindling aquifers to cool the servers at its South Carolina plant

google sign logo
© Paweł Czerwiński from Unsplash
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control granted Google permission Wednesday to pump 549 million gallons of water out of the ground each year to cool servers at its sprawling plant in Berkeley County.

DHEC's decision is the latest development in a bitter fight over whether the company should get state approval to withdraw from a major groundwater source that, critics say, is dwindling and in jeopardy of being further depleted.

But DHEC says the withdrawals are justified under the state's groundwater law.

According to a letter to the company Wednesday, a top DHEC regulator said Google must adhere to conditions in the permit or it could lose its DHEC license. The company can't exceed the permitted amount to be withdrawn without facing the loss of its permit, according to a letter from DHEC water permitting section manager Alex Butler.

The permit expires in 2023.


'Lock him up': Protesters burn MAGA hats, throw urine outside Trump rally

Minnesota Trump protest
© Lorie Shaull
Protests outside President Trump's rally in Minnesota took a violent turn as demonstrators began to set fire to campaign memorabilia, confront police, and throw urine.

Trump was speaking at a rally in Minneapolis Thursday night after sparring with Mayor Jacob Frey for a week about the high security costs. Protesters turned out in force, with hundreds chanting anti-Trump slogans and waving handmade signs, according to the St. Cloud Times.

As the rally wound to an end and supporters began to flood from the Target Center stadium, demonstrators became more aggressive. Around 9:30 p.m. a video was posted to social media that showed protesters burning red "Make America Great Again" hats in the street. Those at the protest were reportedly calling the police "pigs."

Comment: These people are unhinged.

Control Panel

Over & out? CA officials to shutter ham radio infrastructure; 'no longer a benefit'

ham radio
Ham radio operators everywhere are up in arms after California officials announced the termination of the ham radio infrastructure, deeming the transmissions, "no longer a benefit."

California is reportedly severing ties to ham radio repeater owners statewide after unilaterally declaring the infrastructure "obsolete," according to Thursday reports.

OffGridSurvival reported Thursday that the move is "jeopardizing the lives of millions of Californians," who depend on repeaters to operate during emergencies. It's also a way of life for many seniors who grew up with the hobby when it was one of only a few ways to communicate with other ham operators near and far.

Comment: This has the flavor of an hysterical reaction to something slightly more mundane. It's hard to say from the information available, but taking ham radio away from enthusiasts is akin to trying to take guns away from gun enthusiasts. It remains to be seen whether or not this materializes into something or fizzles out.


New York venue 'forced' to cancel screening of Jordan Peterson documentary over staff complaints

Jordan Peterson
© jordan.b.peterson/instagram
The New York cancellation mirrors a similar incident in Toronto, where a scheduled week-long theatrical run of The Rise of Jordan Peterson was cancelled after some members of the staff vented their displeasure with the film.

ShapeShifter Lab, an event space in Brooklyn, has cancelled a screening of the newly-released Jordan Peterson biopic because of staff complaints.

The first sold-out screening of The Rise of Jordan Peterson took place at the venue on 3 October, with an encore show, also sold out, scheduled for 6 October.

Comment: It's pretty sad that the reaction to controversy is being met with cancelled screenings. God forbid anyone actually watch the film and give an informed opinion on the subject. When one's impulse is to avoid everything that contradicts one's ideology (and to prevent others from being exposed to it) it's the sign of an extremely flimsy ideology.

See also:


Apple pulls HKmap day after Chinese state media criticized it as 'unwise and reckless'

hong kong
© dkcyun / Getty Images
Less than a day after Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for allowing HKmap in the App Store, the crowdsourced map app said it had been delisted. Its removal comes less than a week after Apple reversed its initial decision to reject the app, which provides information about the location of pro-democracy demonstrations, street closures and police activity (its website is still available).

After Apple allowed HKmap into the App Store, an article in the China Daily, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China, criticized the company, claiming that it enabled "rioters in Hong Kong to go on violent acts," and adding that "Business is business, and politics is politics...Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision."

While the Chinese government has labeled protestors as violent, including through coordinated campaigns on social media, human rights groups like Amnesty International have documented multiple instances of police abuse against protestors.

Comment: See also:

Snow Globe

Media bubbles aren't the biggest reason we're partisans

bubble boy
© Debrocke / ClassicStock / Getty Images
Maybe you call it a bubble. Maybe you call it a silo. Maybe you just call it an echo chamber. But whatever metaphorical, narrow and enclosed space you prefer, there's a good chance you've been told that one of the great social problems of our time is Americans getting their political news from biased sources. Conservatives watch Fox News. Liberals watch MSNBC. The news tells us what we already believe and distorts reality around partisan talking points.

But here's the thing: That's not how it works. Turns out, news of our bloated, biased media diets has been greatly exaggerated. It could even be said that the "media bubble" narrative is ... wait for it ... fake news.

Last week, I wrote an article about how partisanship affects the way we interpret facts. Two people might see the same facts about the current impeachment investigation but interpret that news in wildly different ways. After that story ran, I got a lot of letters from folks who wanted to know how much of that effect was due to media bubbles. Sure, we interpret facts differently. But are we even getting the same facts?

No Entry

Two dead after shooting outside synagogue in Halle, Germany: one man arrested and other perpetrators on the run - UPDATES

Synagogue in Halle
© Wikipedia / Allexkoch
Synagogue in Halle
The suspect fired several shots from a submachine gun, killed two people and injured several others before fleeing, local media report. A hand grenade was also thrown into the Jewish cemetery.

The attacker is believed to have fled in the direction of the city of Leipzig.

"According to initial information, two people have been killed in Halle," a police spokesperson said.

The shooting falls on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, a strict day of rest, fasting and prayer — and regarded as the holiest day of the year for Jews.

Police have advised people to stay at home or find safe spaces to hide. They have immediately launched a search operation for the perpetrator.

Comment: More details from RT:
One suspect was detained. The Germany MDR broadcaster and others reported that more perpetrators, possibly armed with machine guns, could have fled the scene in a car.

A photo which appeared on social media was shared by German news outlets and alleges to show the moment of arrest. Reports also suggest the arrested suspect is white and a German national.

Police warned on Twitter that people in the area should still "stay alert" and assured that they are working on stabilizing the situation.

A spokesperson also said security will be increased at the Dresden Synagogue and Jewish cemetery as a "protective measure." Dresden is about two hours from Halle.

Germany's Bild newspaper reported that shots were also fired about 15 km away from Halle in Landsberg, saying the information was confirmed by a police source. It is not known if the two incidents are linked.
After the shooting, the perpetrators hijacked a car and headed to Munich:
Two people suspected of carrying out the shooting which left two dead near a synagogue in Halle have hijacked a car and are on a motorway to Munich, the mayor of the German town of Landsberg said.

Anja Werner said the men were on the run after a second shooting incident was reported in Landsberg, but there is no confirmation that the incidents were linked.

Reports suggest the suspects fled from the scene in Halle in a different vehicle before hijacking another in Landsberg. Footage and photos circulating on social media show a person who appears to be one of the shooters kitted out in dark combat-style clothing.
Footage has emerged on on the shooter's actions:
Footage purportedly of the attack outside a synagogue in Halle, Germany shows a man dressed in dark clothing stepping out of a car and firing his weapon multiple times.

At one point, the man appears to stand behind the car to reload before firing again, though it's not clear from the camera angle what he's shooting at.

The weapon's intense recoil seems to shake the shooter, who stumbles backwards after firing the first shot caught on camera.

Two people were killed in Wednesday's attack. One suspect has been arrested, but police say others fled the scene and locals should find a safe place to hide until further notice.
This report gives more information on the multiple attacker angle:
Witnesses to an attack outside a synagogue in Halle, Germany, which killed two people on Wednesday say the perpetrators had donned combat-style clothing and were armed with multiple weapons.

Speaking to German broadcaster MDR, the eyewitnesses spoke of the attackers having several weapons when they launched their assault.

A photo snapped from a window overlooking the scene, and supplied to local media, purports to show one of the attackers, donned in military-style clothing and wearing a helmet, making their way down the street with a gun raised.

Other witnesses told Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that the attack unfolded right outside a kebab shop and that some shots were fired from inside a car.

One person has been arrested, but police say other suspects escaped from the scene by car. Authorities are urging residents to remain securely in their homes or find an alternative safe space to hide, and Deutsche Bahn has closed the town's train station.
UPDATE 11th October 2019 12:12

Heavy.com reports:
Stephan Balliet: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Stephan Balliet is the suspect in an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue and a shooting at a Turkish kebab shop in Halle, Germany, that left two people dead and two others injured on October 9, 2019, Bild reports. The German newspaper has identified Balliet as a neo-Nazi.

Balliet was streaming live video on Twitch for 35 minutes during the incident in the east German city. Heavy has watched the video but is not posting it in this report. The video shows Balliet was not able to get into the synagogue, where about 70 people were inside for Yom Kippur services. The 27-year-old gunman was wearing a helmet equipped with a camera, was dressed in a military- or police-style uniform and was armed with multiple long rifles. The video shows he had ammunition and possible explosive devices inside his car.

He also posted a manifesto that was spread by white supremacists on the messaging app Telegram. In the PDF, Balliet said his mission was to, "kill as many anti-whites as possible, Jews preferred," according to extremist researcher Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group.

Yom Kippur is Judaism's holiest day. Prior to his attempt to enter the synagogue, Balliet addressed his camera during the live stream and made anti-Semitic remarks in English. Police said there was only one shooter in the incident after earlier reports indicated there were possibly two gunmen.

Balliet was taken into custody by police after fleeing from the scene. He also expressed anti-feminist views in the video. The shooting has drawn comparisons to the Christchurch mosque massacre that occurred on March 15, 2019. The gunman in that New Zealand attack also expressed far-right views and live-streamed the attack. In that shooting, 51 people were killed. The shooter posted his video on Facebook.

After the Halle shooting, Twitch, a site primarily used by video gamers to live stream as the play, issued a statement to Buzzfeed News saying, "We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We are working with urgency to remove this content and permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reporting content of this abhorrent act."

Here's what you need to know about Stephan Balliet and the Halle, Germany, attack:

1. Balliet, Who Called Himself 'Anon' in the Video, Expressed Anti-Semitic Views, Blaming Jews for the World's Problems & Falsely Denying the Holocaust Occurred

Stephan Balliet called himself "anon" in the video he live-streamed online, according to an archive of the 35-minute live stream seen by Heavy. Balliet addresses the camera early in the video and speaks in English about his motive for the attempted attack on the synagogue.

Balliet tells viewers that he thinks the Holocaust never happened. He also says feminism and mass immigration are causing the world's problems and says Jewish people are "at the root" of those problems. His reasons for the attack echo those of the Pittsburgh synagogue gunman, the Christchurch mosque shooter, the Poway synagogue attacker and the El Paso Walmart gunman.

"According to the current state of knowledge, we must assume that it is at least an anti-Semitic attack," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, according to Bild. "According to the federal prosecutor there are sufficient indications for a possible right-wing extremist motive."

Balliet can be seen driving to the synagogue while listening to Future's "Mask Off," and preparing his weapons for the attempted attack. Other than his first introduction, Balliet speaks in German throughout most of the video.

2. He Is From Saxony-Anhalt, the German State That Includes the City of Halle, Where He Lived Alone With His Mother

Balliet is a resident of Saxony-Anhalt, the German state that includes the city of Halle, according to Der Spiegel. He is 27 and lives a "secluded life" alone with his mother, the newspaper reports.

No other information about Balliet's background has been made available so far. Spiegel reports that Balliet was not previously known to police.

Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, said a manifesto written by Balliet was posted online before the shooting and distributed by sympathizers on Telegram, a messaging app. The document shows that he first started working on it on October 1. That, along with the weapons and explosive devices found in his car, and the gear he was wearing, show he had been planning the attack for some time.

Katz said he posted photos of his weapons. She wrote, "This manifesto document, which appears to have been created a week ago on October 1, gives yet more indication how much planning and preparation Stephan Balliet put into his attack. His self-made weapons give further suggestion of this."

According to Der Spiegel, Balliet rented the Volkswagen Golf hatchback that he used to drive to the synagogue.

Twitch, the Amazon-subsidiary video streaming site where the video was posted, has said it is cooperating in the investigation. On Twitter, the company wrote, "We're continuing to investigate the Halle event and would like to share what we've uncovered. The account owner streamed this horrific act live on Twitch for 35 minutes, during which time it was viewed by approximately five people."

According to Twitch:
A recording of the stream, which was automatically generated based on the account's settings, was viewed by approximately 2200 people in the 30 minutes before the video was flagged and removed from Twitch. This account was created about two months prior to streaming the shooting and had attempted to stream only once before.

This video was not surfaced in any recommendations or directories; instead, our investigation suggests that people were coordinating and sharing the video via other online messaging services. Once the video was removed, we shared the hash with an industry consortium to help prevent the proliferation of this content. We take this extremely seriously and are committed to working with industry peers, law enforcement, and any relevant parties to protect our community.
The company added, "Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act. We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected."

3. Balliet Was Unable to Get Into the Synagogue Because of Its Gate & Then Shot at Pedestrians & People at a Turkish Kebab Shop, the Video Shows

The live stream shows Balliet attempting to get into the synagogue for several minutes. Officials said about 70 to 80 people were inside for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of Judaism. According to U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, 10 Americans were inside the synagogue. No one inside the synagogue was injured or killed.

Balliet yells in German and becomes increasingly frustrated as he is unable to enter the building because he cannot get through the gate. At one point, Balliet fires shots at the gate, but is still unable to open it.

Ambulance cars stand in front of a wall of the Jewish cemetery close to the site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale, eastern Germany, on October 9, 2019.

While trying to get into the synagogue, Balliet shot a woman who was walking down the street. After spending about 10 minutes in the area near the synagogue, Balliet can be seen driving to another part of the city, where he stops at a Turkish kebab shop.

The live stream video shows Balliet walking past a woman outside of the kebab shop and then firing at a worker inside. Balliet shot and killed a man inside the kebab shop and then left, walking outside, before returning and firing at the man's body.

After exiting the kebab shop a second time, Balliet can be seen exchanging gunfire with police and he appears to be shot. As he flees again in his car, Balliet looks into the camera and blood can be seen on his neck.

According to police, Balliet is believed to have thrown at least one grenade or another device into the Jewish synagogue's cemetery before leaving that area.

In the video, Balliet can be heard calling himself a "loser."

4. He Was Arrested After Stealing a Taxi & Fleeing on Highway, Bild Reports

According to Bild, Balliet fled from the area of the shooting in his own car. About 1:30 p.m. local time, Balliet drove to a business in Landsberg, in Wiedersdorf, and demanded a car from the workers inside, Bild reports. When they told him that there was no car there, he pointed to a taxi parked outside and demanded it, the newspaper reports.

An electrician at the workshop then came out and was startled by what was happening, Bild reports. He told Balliet he couldn't have the taxi, and Balliet opened fire, shooting the man. He was hospitalized but is expected to survive.

A special unit of the police examines on October 9, 2019 on a road in Werschen, eastern Germany, a taxi that was involved in the case of a shooting in Halle an der Saale, eastern Germany.

According to Bild, Balliet then took the taxi and fled on the A9 highway and onto B91. He was rammed by a truck in Werschen and then taken into custody, Bild reports. It is not clear if Balliet was injured.

5. Balliet's Live Stream Video Was Quickly Spread Across Far-Right, Neo-Nazi & White Supremacist Channels Online Despite Being Taken Down by Twitch

The inside of Stephan Balliet's car.

The live stream video posted by Balliet was taken down by Twitch, but was spread by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others on the far right through other channels, including the encrypted messaging app Telegram, NBC News reports. Many in those communities have been praising Balliet in a similar was as the Christchurch shooter, and other gunmen inspired by him, calling him a hero and "saint."

Megan Squire, an Elon University professor who tracks online extremism, told NBC News, "There is absolutely a trend toward using Telegram to spread this kind of stuff as propaganda."

Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence group, which tracks extremism, wrote on Twitter, "The similarity between this video and New Zealand attacker's underscores that these are not isolated attacks by people merely holding similar beliefs. Today's attack is another installment from a global terrorist network, linked together via online safe havens much like ISIS."

She tweeted, "Attacker identifies as "Anon," meaning "anonymous user" — a nod to chan boards & other sites. Based on this vid, he appears to have worked alone. His car was loaded w seemingly homemade weapons along w laptop and camera, suggesting a disturbing degree of planning behind his attack.

Katz added, "As horrific as the attack was, several variables (his seeming panic, locked door at synagogue, poor function of weapons) stopped it from resulting in something far deadlier, especially considering how many were presumably in the synagogue for Yom Kippur & his abundant weapons."
RT reports:
Earlier, it was reported that further perpetrators left the scene in a car, but police have not yet officially confirmed either of these claims. Balliet was arrested soon after the attack. According to the media, he is a 27-year-old German citizen who was previously unknown to either the police or the German domestic security service BfV, which is responsible for fighting terrorism and extremism.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the media that it was "highly likely" that the attacker was linked to far-right extremism. There are "sufficient reasons to believe [he had] a possible right-wing extremist background," the minister told the media while condemning the attack. Some German-speaking media immediately snatched an opportunity to dub the attacker a "Nazi killer."
Live-streamed by the assailant for the whole world to see, the horrific murders have shaken Germany and fueled fears that the country is experiencing a resurgence of far-right extremism.

With the synagogue in his sights, the gunman launched his attack, throwing an improvised explosive device (IED) over the fence of a nearby Jewish cemetery. The IED failed to detonate - but the assailant was undeterred. Now turning his full attention to the synagogue, he attempted to shoot his way into the building. Worshipers who had gathered for Yom Kippur had locked the temple's doors. The terrified congregation watched their would-be killer on a security camera as he attempted to break in.

Miraculously, the doors endured, but the suspect was still out for blood. He opened fire on a woman standing near the entrance of the adjacent Jewish cemetery - claiming his first victim.

Returning to his car, the assailant drove a short way up the road to a nearby kebab shop. Entering the cafe with his weapon drawn, he shot a man at point blank range. He left the shop after his weapon failed to fire again, but returned soon after to finish off the wounded man, who reportedly begged the killer to spare his life.

Escape attempt

Police were at the scene soon after, forcing the suspect to flee in his car. After less than 30 minutes, he arrived at the neighboring town of Landsberg, where he tried to hijack a car from an auto repair shop. He then turned his gun on a man who tried to confront him, wounding the brave bystander.

The shooter eventually managed to commandeer a parked taxi and get on the highway, but his reckless driving resulted in a collision with a truck. Police quickly arrived at the scene, arresting the suspect and bringing his 'Nazi' killing spree to an end.

The city was put on high alert following the attack. Halle's central railway station was closed and police cordoned off parts of the city as they hunted for potential accomplices. For now, the killings appear to be the work of a lone gunman.
The shooter who killed two people and injured others at a synagogue in Halle had planned a "massacre" and wanted to inspire others to do the same, a German prosecutor said.

He also posted a manifesto explaining his motivation and weaponry online before the attack. German media reports said the suspect saw the Christchurch massacre shooter as inspiration, but it is unclear exactly why the German radicalized or how.
RFE/RL reports:
About 70 to 80 people were inside the house of worship, including 10 Americans, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told AP. The heavily armed assailant shot at the door of the synagogue but couldn't get inside.

The killings took place on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the calendar in Judaism, when Jews fast, seeking atonement.

The livestream platform said that five people watched the "horrific act" live during the 35 minutes of its duration and that approximately 2,200 people viewed it in "the 30 minutes before the video was flagged and removed from Twitch."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended an evening vigil at a historic synagogue in central Berlin in honor of the victims.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack was "another manifestation of anti-Semitism in Europe."


Female athletes take a stand after transgender athletes dominate track event: 'We're facing the end of women's sports'

Selina Soule
Selina Soule failed to qualify for the 55-meter track event in the New England regionals after two biological males scored the qualifying places.

The 16-year-old female athlete from Bloomfield, Connecticut was forced to compete against the male athletes, because despite being born biologically males, the two now identify as females.

Selina said competing against transgender athletes is "heartbreaking" for biological girls who know at the beginning of the race that no matter how hard they try, the biological male athletes will win.

Comment: See also:

Control Panel

Neoliberalism: The 'progressive' nicer version of neoconservativism

© Coco Curranski – CC BY 2.0
The question, "What is neoliberalism?" invites a response similar to the old canard about art: "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it". Unlike art, which seldom rears its head outside a rarified, specially designated setting, neoliberalism is everywhere, which is why we seldom acknowledge its ubiquity, even as we endure its predations on every aspect of our lives.

If neoconservatism is late-stage capitalism on rage-inducing steroids, ranting about imaginary external threats, then neoliberalism is peak capitalism on hallucinogenic horse tranquilizers, dreaming about itself. Unlike its bug-eyed, more visibly bloodthirsty counterpart, neoliberalism doesn't appear when the occasion demands it, but remains thoroughly entrenched in everything it touches, leaving nothing untouched or unscathed.

The word itself brings to mind a host of vague concepts that add up to little in terms of understanding just what it is exactly. Can it be described as "free market fundamentalism", the pushing through of democratic sounding reforms to jump-start a global feeding frenzy on another country's resources? "The stealth deliverance of violence (economic and military) under an internationally agreed upon humanitarian framework, as opposed to a boots-on-the-ground occupation" might be closer to the mark. Or maybe it's just some guy on a mountain bike staring at sunrise in an online video ad touting "Global Solutions".

Mr. Potato

University professor calls SpongeBob Squarepants a 'violent' and 'racist' colonizer

Sponge Bob
A university professor deemed the beloved cartoon "SpongeBob Squarepants" "violent," "racist," and "insidious" in a scholarly article.

University of Washington professor Holly Barker published her musings on the yellow sponge cartoon character and his deep-sea pals in an academic journal called The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs, which features "readable" articles focused on "social, economic, political, ecological, and cultural topics."

"SpongeBob's presence on Bikini Bottom continues the violent and racist expulsion of Indigenous peoples from their lands"

In her article titled "Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom," Barker's chief complaint hinges on her perception that the show's fictional setting of the town of Bikini Bottom is based on the nonfictional Bikini Atoll, a coral reef in the Marshall Islands used by the U.S. military for nuclear testing during the Cold War.

The indigenous people of the area were relocated during the testing, which eventually rendered the area uninhabitable due to residual radiation. Barker finds it unjust that SpongeBob and his pals be allowed to "occupy" the area when the nonfictional indigenous people of the area do not have the option to return to their homeland.

As an "American character," SpongeBob supposedly has the "privilege" of "not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs." In order to demonstrate this, the professor quotes one of the show's writers, who said that the main character is "a guy who could get super-excited about a napkin but wouldn't care if there was an explosion outside."

Comment: This drivel passes as scholarly research? Not surprising considering the social climate on most college campuses these days.