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Sat, 10 Dec 2016
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Pyramid

Six dead in bomb blast near Egyptian pyramid

© AP Photo/Amr Nabil
At least six people have been killed in a bomb attack on a road leading to the Great Pyramid of Giza - a tourist attraction popular with British holidaymakers.

The explosion appeared to have come from a rubbish bin in Cairo along a route used to access the entrance to the world heritage site, which lies in a western suburb of the capital.

Giza, one of the the seven wonders of the world and the only one to remain largely intact, welcomes thousands of British tourists every year.

However the dead are said to all be policemen and administrative officers working close to the landmark.

There have been no confirmed foreign casualties although four civilians were also injured.

Snowflake Cold

The "Gore Effect": Global Warming Protesters Met With Bitter Cold Snow

A small group of global warming activists protesting oil and gas drilling outside the Department of Interior office in Colorado Thursday morning were met with bitter cold weather and snow.

About 10 "Keep It In The Ground" activists waved signs next to a busy road in the Denver area, calling for the Obama administration to stop issuing leases so companies can drill on public lands. Activists say drilling only exacerbates global warming.

The irony, however, is activists stood outside about 4 inches of snow with temperatures hovering in the 20s — in degrees Fahrenheit. The official low temperature was negative 10 degrees early Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Activists with 350.org and Food & Water Watch braved the cold to protest hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," after two measures to restrict the drilling technique failed to make November's ballot. The pro-fracking Western Energy Alliance took photos of activists trying to stay warm. You can view the photos here.

Comment: See also: California aims to regulate cow flatulence to slow global warming


Biohazard

Sobbing Killary fans greet her after Capitol Hill event

Hillary Clinton was greeted by sobbing, ecstatic women on her way out of an event on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday.

The ardent supporters thanked the Democratic presidential nominee for running for president, albeit unsuccessfully. The group of 20-something-year-olds cried as Clinton shook their hands.

Clinton was in the company of former vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, a Democratic senator from Virginia. Clinton spoke at Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's portrait unveiling in the Russell Senate Office Building.


Comment: Those tears are nothing compared to the ones that would have been shed had this war-harpy entered the White House


Vader

Surprise, Surprise! Russians ahead of aliens, terrorists and Nazis as most frequently found enemy in first-person shooter video games


Subtle, very subtle
Shocking

Here's an interesting tidbit from a study published in the Washington Post from this past April:
We find that Russians are enemies in 21 percent of games (12 games), one fewer instance than generic humans (13 games) and one more than aliens (11 games). Even if we consider Latin American (6 games) and Middle Eastern terrorists (5 games) as a single combined category, the number of games with Russian enemies is still greater.

Comment: Given the mountains of Russophobic propaganda that citizens of the West are subjected to and, perhaps, the US military's hand in shaping the first-person shooter video game, it should come as no surprise that social conditioning should reach such depths.

From Gary Webb's insightful look into this phenomenon, The Killing Game...
who hasn't seen one of these games—known as first-person shooters—here's the gist of them. You're placed in a combat zone, armed with a weapon of your choice, and sent out to find and kill other players. Knife them, club them, blow them apart with a shotgun, set them afire, vaporize them with a shoulder-launched missile, drill them through the head with a sniper rifle—the choice is yours. Depending on the game, blood will spray, mist or spout. Sometimes your kills collapse in crumpled heaps, clutching their throats and twitching convincingly. Sometimes they cry in pain with human voices. Their bodies lay there for a while so you can feed off them if necessary, restoring your own health. Then you can grab their weapons and set off to find another victim, assuming you don't get killed first.

It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but among young males it's far and away the most popular genre of computer game. Some psychologists and parents worry that such games are desensitizing a large, impressionable segment of the population to violence and teaching them the wrong things. But that depends on your point of view. If, like the U.S. Army, you need people who can become unflappable killers, there's no better way of finding them. It's why the Army has spent more than $10 million in taxpayer funds developing its very own first-person shooter, and why the Navy, the Air Force and the National Guard are following suit. For anyone who thinks kids aren't learning playing shooter games, read on.

[...]

"I have to laugh when someone says, 'Oh, the people playing these games know it's not real,'" said Dr. Peter Vorberer, a clinical psychologist and head of the University of Southern California's computer game research group. "Of course they think it's real! That's why people play them for hours and hours. They're designed to make you believe it's real. Games are probably the purest example yet of the Internet melding with reality."

[...]

In late 1999, after missing their recruiting goals that year, Army officials got together with the civilian directors of a Navy think tank at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey to discuss ways of luring computer gamers into the military.

Combat gamers not only happened to target the right age for the Army's purposes but, more importantly, possessed exactly the kind of information-processing skills the Army needed: the ability to think quickly under fire.

"Our military information tends to arrive in a flood ... and it'll arrive in a flood under stressful conditions, and there'll be a hell of a lot of noise," said Col. Casey Wardynski, a military economist who came up with the idea for an official Army computer game. "How do you filter that? What are your tools? What is your facility in doing that? What is your level of comfort? How much load can you bear? Kids who are comfortable with that are going to be real comfortable ... with the Army of the future."

From an Army report: "Aptitudes related to information handling and information culture values are seen as vital to the effectiveness of the high-tech, network-centric Army of the future, and young American gamers are seen as especially proficient in these capabilities. More importantly, when young Americans enter the Army, they increasingly will find that key information will be conveyed via computer video displays akin to the graphical interfaces found in games."

With the vast funding of the U.S. government behind them, the Army/Navy team began developing a game that hopefully would turn some of its players into real soldiers. "The overall mission statement ... was to develop a game with appeal similar to the game Counter-Strike," wrote Michael Zyda, the director of the Navy think tank. "We took Counter-Strike as our model, but with heavy emphasis on realism and Army values and training."

An experimental psychologist from the Navy helped tweak the game's sound effects to produce heightened blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate. It was released in digital double surround sound, which few games are. In terms of game play, it was designed as a "tactical" shooter, slower-paced, more deliberate, but with Counter-Strike's demanding squad tactics and communications—a "serious" game for kids who took their war gaming seriously.

[...]

After two years of development, America's Army was released to the public on the first Fourth of July after 9/11. The gaming world gasped and then cheered. Contrary to expectations, the government-made shooter was every bit as good a $50 retail shooter and, in some ways, better. Plus, it was free—downloadable from the Internet at www.americasarmy.com. That, too, was a calculation—one the Army hoped would weed out people who didn't know much about computers. The game and its distribution system were difficult by design, Zyda said.

[...]

There are now more than 4 million registered users, more than half of whom have completed weapons training and gone online to play, making it the fourth most-played online shooter. The Army says there are 500 fan sites on the Web, and recruiters have been busy setting up local tournaments and cultivating an America's Army "community" on the Internet, hoping to replicate the Counter-Strike phenomenon.

[...]

But not everyone saw the game as a good thing. A Miami attorney named Jack Thompson went on ABC News and threatened to seek an injunction, saying it wasn't the government's job to provide kill 'em games to youngsters. He was deluged with angry e-mail and allegedly received death threats.

"The Army and the Defense Department have a very long history of conducting unethical, illegal experiments upon soldiers and civilians," Thompson angrily reminded players in a posting to the official Army Web site. "This 'game' is yet another experiment upon the unsuspecting pawns who play it. You are the latest guinea pigs."
See also:


Bad Guys

Yemenis slowly starving to death. When will the West stop funding Saudi Arabia?

© Naif Rahma / Reuters
A nurse feeds a malnourished child at a malnutrition treatment centre in the northwestern city of Saada,
The people of Yemen are 'slowly starving' to death as the world turns a blind eye, human rights organizations and charities warn.

International aid organization Oxfam warned that the people of Yemen are at risk of running out of food by April, which will also mark two years of conflict in the poorest country in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia began bombing the country in support of exiled president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi at the end of March 2015, after Houthi rebels loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, said to be backed by Iran, took over the capital of Sanaa.

Bullseye

Washington state sues Monsanto over 'omnipresent and terrifically toxic material', damage done to all waterways

© Brendan McDermid / Reuters / Reuters
PCB pollution is in "every waterway in the state," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said as he announced a lawsuit against Monsanto. It is the first time the agricultural biotech giant has ever been sued by a state.

Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, have been at the heart of multiple lawsuits brought against the multinational agrochemical corporation Monsanto by Seattle and Spokane, Washington, as well as cities in California and Oregon. However, this Thursday marked the first time a state government has sued the company over the potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

The lawsuit, which seeks monetary restitution for damages and cleanup caused by the use of PCBs, was filed in King County Superior Court. Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) and the state's Attorney General Bob Ferguson jointly announced the lawsuit in a press conference, claiming that Monsanto knew for years that it was polluting bays, lakes and rivers when it used the chemicals in coolants, hydraulic fluids, paints and sealants, Associated Press reported.

A win for the state could potentially reap hundreds of millions of dollars from Monsanto as well as two subsidiaries, Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC.

Comment: See also:
  • Trump's top environmental adviser Myron Ebell says pesticides aren't bad for you
  • More reasons NOT to trust the Feds on GMOs, pesticides & chemicals
  • Epic fail! Monsanto supporters latest attempt to hide the real truth about glyphosate from the public



Sheriff

Scumbag cop rapes young girl after she reports being raped at school by teacher

When a school police officer learned that a teacher was raping a 14-year-old sophomore, he did it too, the girl says in a civil lawsuit, and now the teacher is in prison and the cop is awaiting trial.

In a federal lawsuit against the Edgewood Independent School District and Memorial High School, Jane Doe says both district employees used "hall passes" to pull her from class to sexually assault and sodomize her on school grounds.

Her chemistry teacher, Marcus Revilla, who impregnated her, pleaded guilty to sex crimes in state and federal courts, including sexual assault of a child and production of child pornography. He was sentenced to 13 years in state prison and a 17-year federal prison term.

Robot

These talking toys can record and send everything your kid says to a defense contractor


My Friend Cayla
If you're thinking of buying a talking toy for your child this Christmas, you're really going to want to make sure to read the terms of service.

As Consumerist reports, several consumer groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against the makers of two talking children's toys: The My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot.

The problem with these toys, the complaint alleges, is that their terms of service allow them to record everything they hear and then send that information back to Nuance Communications, a voice recognition software company that supplies the underlying technology behind the toys, but that also does work as a defense contractor.

In particular, the groups are crying foul over the fact both toys are covered by Nuance's general privacy policy, which states that they "may use the information that we collect for our internal purposes to develop, tune, enhance, and improve our products and services, and for advertising and marketing."

Where things get strange, however, is when the privacy policy later states that "if you are under 18 or otherwise would be required to have parent or guardian consent to share information with Nuance, you should not send any information about yourself to us."

Moon

People disintegrating: Naked man climbs on top of metro bus In West Hollywood, uses it like a catwalk

A naked man climbed to the top of a transit bus Thursday in West Hollywood and was taken into custody after about 40 minutes.

Deputies were called shortly before 2 p.m. to the 8300 block of Sunset Boulevard to investigate a report of a naked man walking down the street and by the time they arrived the naked man was atop a bus, according to Sgt. Enrique Mandujan of the sheriff's West Hollywood Station.

A witness said the man appeared to be walking a catwalk.

Comment: While there was no violence involved in this incident, we are reminded of some other times people have gotten undressed, behaved crazily, and/or did other strange things:


R2-D2

Are robots taking over? Corporate giant Capita replaces staff with automatons

© Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters
Outsourcing giant Capita is to sack 2,000 staff and replace them with robots in a move some fear will be repeated across the economy, leading to more than 1 million job losses.

The FTSE 100-listed firm, which collects the BBC license fee and provides services for the NHS, said it needed to ax 2,000 jobs to save money due to poor trading with corporate clients.

It said it would use the money it saved to fund investment into robotic workers across the whole company, according to the Guardian.