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Thu, 09 Dec 2021
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Piggy Bank

Clampdown on Bitcoin sales with eBay

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© Niall Carson/PA
eBay's European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.
eBay UK is to limit sales of bitcoin to its classified advertising platform from February 10, banning the currency from its auction and buy-it-now formats.

After the change comes into force, merchants will only be able to sell bitcoin through the classified ads format, which requires the buyer to contact the seller directly, without obligation.

"To promote a trustworthy marketplace and ensure compliance with applicable regulations, eBay is currently updating its currency policy," the site said in a statement. "The updated policy will clarify that listings for Bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies must be listed in the virtual currency category in the classified ad format.

"The virtual currency category is expected to be available on the UK site on February 10th."

Bitcoin transactions are unusual in that they are (comparatively) instantaneous and irreversible. Under eBay's normal auction rules, this could leave the site open to fraud, with a buyer purchasing bitcoins and then refusing to pay, or initiating a credit-card chargeback. By switching to the classified ads model, where users pay for an ad up front and eBay takes no part in settling the deal, the site removes itself from the risky end of the transaction.

Bitcoin is not currently covered by any of the site's policies, and since the site does not specify items which are allowed to be sold, only those which are prohibited or restricted from sale, that means that until now the currency has been traded relatively freely. One merchant is selling bitcoins in 0.02 BTC increments for £15.99; another, claiming to be the "cheapest on eBay", sells the same for £24.99.

Snakes in Suits

Psycho Joe Arpaio: 38 Arizona inmates who defaced flag to eat only bread, water

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© Unknown
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the punishment is for defacing American flags in the cells.
A diet of bread and water is the punishment for dozens of Arizona inmates who allegedly defaced American flags placed in their jail cells.

The 38 male inmates are part of the Maricopa County jail system, which is under the control of controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio.

For their alleged unpatriotic acts, the sheriff said Thursday, they'll survive on bread and water for seven days.

"These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells," Arpaio said. "Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel. It's a disgrace ... this is government property that they are destroying, and we will take action against those who act this way."

The flags are part of a push for patriotism in county jail cells that includes listening to the "Star-Spangled Banner" every morning and "God Bless America" every night over the intercom system.

Comment: Read more about this psycho 'lawman' here.


Smoking

Jordan to enforce smoking ban despite public fury

Smoking fascism
© Unknown
In Jordan, a country where smoking is so popular that motorists can be seen puffing away on miniature water pipes in traffic, the kingdom's government now wants to enforce a Western-style smoking ban in restaurants, cafes and other public places.

The ban, coming from a law passed in 2008 but not full enforced, also would see the government revoke the licenses of all 6,000 coffee shops that serve shisha by the end of this year.

But business owners and smokers are criticizing the push, saying it goes against the culture of a country where smoking is seen as an attractive sign of manhood and elderly Bedouins roll their own cigarettes in public.

"We are caught between a rock and a hard place whereby the government is trying to force a closure of our businesses," said Mazen Alsaleh, who owns 14 coffee and hookah shops around the country. "I am not defending the hookah or smoking, but we must defend our investments."

The pastime of smoking shisha - also known as nargile, hubbly bubbly, hookah or by other names across the Middle East - is engrained in Jordanian culture from the time of the Ottoman Empire. Mourners receive cigarettes at wakes, while delivery companies only supplying hookahs have sprouted across the country.

Comment: The main goal of tobacco smoking bans is "to change societal behavior" by stigmatizing smoking, making it less convenient and less socially acceptable. By raising the stakes, it helped transform a complaint into a right, so that people annoyed by tobacco smoke now felt justified in demanding that it be eliminated everywhere they might want to go, including other people's property.

In short, they have conditioned the majority of the people on the planet to behave like Nazis and think it is normal.

See also:

The devious plan of anti-smoking campaigns to control people and stop them from using their brain

Let's All Light Up!

5 Health Benefits of Smoking

Nicotine Lessens Symptoms Of Depression In Nonsmokers

Nicotine helps Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Patients

Brain Researchers: Smoking increases intelligence


Light Saber

Flashmob protests sweep across Brazil

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Daltson Takeuti is not how you would picture one of the leaders of Brazil's flashmob movement that is sweeping across shopping centres, sparking violent clashes with police. The soft-spoken 55-year-old teaches piano for a living and has never organised a protest in his life.

But around 1,000 people are expected to turn up at São Paulo's upmarket JK shopping centre on Saturday for a gathering - known as a 'rolezinho' - which he has organised over Facebook.

Mr Takeuti was motivated to act by a crackdown on other flashmobs, which began last month as parties but have become more political. "I couldn't bear to see the criminalisation of poor, black kids," he says.

Similar protest-cum-rampages are planned in at least eight other states across Brazil this weekend, with more than 8,000 expected at one shopping centre in Rio de Janeiro. Popular among poor, largely black, Brazilians, the flashmobs have begun to snowball into a nationwide movement against racism and inequality, threatening the government with further violent mass protests just as the country prepares to host the football World Cup, academics say.

In June the biggest protests in 20 years spread across Brazil following complaints over a bus fare increase, bringing businesses in Latin America's biggest economy to a standstill and prompting a plunge, albeit temporary, in President Dilma Rousseff's popularity.

Ms Rousseff called an emergency meeting with ministers this week to discuss the rolezinho "phenomenon", concerned it would spiral out of control, local media reported. As well as steering Brazil through a trouble-free World Cup, Ms Rousseff will have to battle for her re-election during presidential elections in October.

"The government has good reason to be worried," says Rafael Alcadipani, at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), an academic institution. "The rolezinhos can be seen as a remodelling of last year's protests but this time by the people from the city's periphery," he says, pointing to a similarity with the London riots of 2011.

Mr. Potato

Unbebiebable! MSNBC cuts Congresswoman during NSA LIVE to report... Justin Bieber

Screenshot from youtube video
© Unknown
Screenshot from youtube video by user jonmanization

A US government privacy board dubs the NSA's phone calls hoarding illegal and calls to shut... wait, it's Justin Bieber. And so the Congresswoman being interviewed was dumped mid-sentence to report the "breaking news" of Bieber's DUI arrest.

On Thursday, the MSNBC put out a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) slamming NSA hoarding of phone data, calling it 'illegal.' The privacy watchdog, established by US Congress in 2004, also urged President Barack Obama to end the NSA surveillance program.

Congresswoman Jane Harman was called in to discuss the recommendation of the US government privacy watchdog. But as Harman got round to urging Congress to "seriously consider discontinuing section 215", matters of national importance were put aside.

"...We've got some breaking news out of Miami, stand by if you will. Right now in Miami Justin Bieber has been arrested on a number of charges," announced Andrea Mitchell, the MSNBC news anchor, interrupting the congresswoman.

Comment: And the soap opera culture called America continues...


Pistol

Florida man hops fence to shoot and kill 21-year-old in a hoodie - then claims self defense

gun
© koi88/Shutterstock.com
Does 'stand your ground' include chasing someone?

On Thursday, an Orlando man shot and killed a 21-year-old who was fleeing his yard. He didn't appear to be stealing anything, according to witness accounts. He didn't appear to be threatening anybody. But Claudius Smith said he feared he was a burglar, followed him over the fence to a neighboring apartment complex, where he shot him after he said he felt threatened, according to a confession documented in an Orlando Police Department report. Smith even said he feared victim Ricardo Sanes was armed "because his pants were falling down" and his hands were in his hoodie pockets, according to a report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

Now, questions are emerging about whether Smith will also invoke the state's Stand Your Ground law, which gained notoriety over the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, shot in a Florida residential development while wearing a hoodie. Law enforcement officials don't seem to believe Stand Your Ground applies. Smith has already been charged with second-degree murder. But that doesn't stop a judge from granting Stand Your Ground immunity later. In one of the most recent Florida court decisions on Stand Your Ground, an appeals court granted Stand Your Ground immunity to a man who went to his car to get a gun before the fatal incident.

Cheeseburger

McDonald's is losing customers

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© JOERG KOCH/AFP/Getty Images
McDonald's is losing customers, as the world's biggest hamburger chain struggles to attract diners with its higher-priced sandwiches and new offerings like Mighty Wings.

"We've lost some of our customer relevance," CEO Don Thompson conceded Thursday on a call with analysts.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company reported disappointing sales for its fourth quarter, as fewer customers visited its established restaurants. Guest counts at those locations fell nearly 2 percent globally and 1.6 percent in the U.S. in 2013, according to a regulatory filing. And McDonald's expects some challenges to persist this year.

To win back traffic, Thompson said the chain will focus on speedier service, better value offerings and raising "awareness around McDonald's as a kitchen and a restaurant" that prepares high-quality food. It's expanding prep tables and plans to beef up staff during peak hours for better execution. It is also bringing in a new U.S. marketing chief, Deborah Wahl, formerly with homebuilder PulteGroup and automakers Chrysler and Ford.

V

Ukraine Violence Escalates: Kiev is a battlefield; Ultimatum issued to President

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© Efrem Lukatsky/AP
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev.
Former heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko says President Yanukovych has 24 hours in which to call snap elections

At least three people died in a day of violence in Kiev on Wednesday, as an opposition leader said he was willing to face "a bullet in the forehead" if President Viktor Yanukovych did not launch snap elections.

A three-hour meeting between the embattled president and the three main political opposition leaders ended without a deal, leaving the capital braced for intensified violence.

Two men died from bullet wounds on Wednesday, according to Ukraine's general prosecutor, while the third died after falling from a rooftop while fighting with police. Protesters report that dozens of people have been seriously injured during the clashes, which have been running since Sunday evening.

Parts of central Kiev resembled a battlefield, with police firing rubber bullets and wielding truncheons, while protesters lobbed molotov cocktails. The two men who were shot were killed with live ammunition, the authorities admitted. As night fell people drove cars filled with used tyres up to the main front line and made a giant bonfire, throwing molotov cocktails from behind the flames.

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© Gleb Garanich/Reuters
A pro-European protester swings a metal chain during clashes.

Heart - Black

Mexican citizen, Edgar Tamayo, executed in Texas despite political pressure from the Mexican government and the U.S. state department

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© Richard Carson/Reuters
Protestors urge Texan authorities not to execute Edgar Tamayo.
Texas executed a Mexican citizen on Wednesday night despite an international outcry and warnings that his death could damage relations between the US and Mexico.

The execution of Edgar Arias Tamayo had been set for 6pm central time, but was delayed by more than three hours after a last-ditch appeal to the US supreme court by Tamayo's lawyers. After considering the appeal on Wednesday evening the court declined to issue a stay of execution, clearing the path for Texas officials to put Tamayo to death by lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, near Houston.

Tamayo did not make a final statement in the death chamber, Associated Press reported. After being given a lethal dose of pentobarbital he took a few breaths, quietly snored once and then stopped moving. He was pronounced dead at 9.32pm central time, 17 minutes after the drug was administered.

Tamayo was arrested for the 1994 murder of Guy Gaddis, a Houston police officer, but not promptly advised of his right to consular help. That was a violation of the 1963 treaty known as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Tamayo's lawyers, Maurie Levin and Sandra Babcock, argued that he might have been given a lesser sentence had Mexican officials been able to assist him sooner. The attorneys claimed that Tamayo was mentally-ill and brain-damaged, with an IQ of 67, but that these discoveries were made too late to affect the trial.

Arrow Down

Facebook will lose 80% of users by 2017 say researchers

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© AFP/Getty Images
Bubonic plague bacteria.
Forecast of social network's impending doom comes from comparing its growth curve to that of an infectious disease

Facebook has spread like an infectious disease but we are slowly becoming immune to its attractions, and the platform will be largely abandoned by 2017, say researchers at Princeton University (pdf).

The forecast of Facebook's impending doom was made by comparing the growth curve of epidemics to those of online social networks. Scientists argue that, like bubonic plague, Facebook will eventually die out.

The social network, which celebrates its 10th birthday on 4 February, has survived longer than rivals such as Myspace and Bebo, but the Princeton forecast says it will lose 80% of its peak user base within the next three years.

John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, from the US university's mechanical and aerospace engineering department, have based their prediction on the number of times Facebook is typed into Google as a search term. The charts produced by the Google Trends service show Facebook searches peaked in December 2012 and have since begun to trail off.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models," the authors claim in a paper entitled Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics.