Saturday, January 21, 2017

One of the Least-Watched Inaugurals Ever

By all accounts, Trump's inaugural parade was one of the most embarrassingly least-attended ever.  Howard Fineman reported that Trump workers were so desperate to fill the stands, they started roaming the subway stations, handing out free passes to traditionally coveted seats to train riders.  It didn't work.  The whole affair had the energy of a funeral.  It was widely believed that there were more people in the parade itself than were in the stands.  The bleachers next to the presidential viewing stand were virtually empty.

On TV, the Trump inauguration pulled in 31 million viewers-- less than Obama's ceremony, and even those of Nixon and Carters. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Godzilla on the Loose In the Galapagos

This incredible footage shows a six-foot long iguana feasting underwater in the Pacific Ocean.  Nicknamed 'Godzilla' for its rampaging movements and size in comparison to its fellow sea creatures, the majestic lizard was captured in remarkably clear footage hunting for food on the sea bed. It can be seen on the prowl for food before swimming almost human-esque to the surface for air.

Marine iguanas, unique among modern lizards in their ability to forage in the open sea, are vegetarians. A nasal gland filters its blood for excess salt ingested while eating, which is expelled through the nostrils-- often leaving white patches of salt on its face.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Monster Alligator Bites The Dust

A monster alligator that had been feeding on local cattle has been killed in Okeechobee, Florida.

Professional hunter Lee Lightsey said the 15-foot beast was one of the biggest he had come across in 18 years and required a tractor to move it.  The largest alligator he had previously killed was just over 13 foot long.

"We were on a hunt for hogs and happened to come across the gator," Lightsey told reporters.  "Although this animal is huge I was not that surprised it existed.  But what really drew our attention to this animal was the fact that it seems to have been feasting on the cattle on my farm, because mutilated body parts were found in the water. It was a monster which needed to be removed."  Lightsey says he plans to get the alligator stuffed while the meat will be donated to charity.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Buying Votes By Bumrushing the Pope

Bernie Sanders was caught trying to bullshit his way into some foreign affairs cred by falsely claiming that the Pope had invited him to speak at the Vatican.

Margaret Archer, president of Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said that Sanders had actually invited himself. “Sanders made the first move, for the obvious reasons,” Archer said. “He may be going for the Catholic vote but this is not the Catholic vote and he should remember that and act accordingly -- not that he will.”

Not long after, Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences contradicted Archer’s statement, saying “ I invited him with her consensus.”  However, he later backtracked in a CNN interview, admitting that Sander had indeed reached out to the Vatican first-- not the other way around, as Sanders had tried to claim.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi also confirmed for reporters that it wasn’t the pope who personally invited the politician. “The invitation was made on behalf of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, not by Pope Francis,” he said.  “There is no expectation that the pope will meet Mr. Sanders.”

Friday, April 8, 2016

Ridicule for Law School Named "Ass"

George Mason University has adjusted the moniker of its law school just days after renaming it in honor of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a decision that gave the institution an unfortunate acronym: “Ass.”

The Virginia college had originally announced that the school’s new name would be the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University. The name change kicked off widespread mockery on social media, including a trending hashtag #ASSLaw on Twitter.

The official name remains the Antonin Scalia School of Law, although the school’s website and marketing materials have recently been tweaked to the Antonin Scalia Law School.  A spokesperson for the school declined to comment on the name change to the newspaper.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Court Rules Against Warrantless Tracking Technology

An appeals court in Maryland has ruled that police cannot use cellphones as a “real-time tracking device” without a warrant-- which would call into question hundreds, if not thousands, of convictions in Baltimore – and set a precedent for similar privacy cases across the U.S.

The ruling by Maryland’s second-highest court was the first by an appeals court to hold that using cell site simulator technology known as Stingray without a warrant violates an individual’s fourth amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.  The technology, which is produced by the Harris corporation and is widely used by law enforcement and the IRS, imitates a cell tower, forces a phone to send a signal and traps metadata from phones that can reveal their location.

An ACLU report shows that 61 agencies in 23 states and the District of Columbia have purchased Stingray devices, but this is one of the first times that the full scope of this technology has made it into the public record of a courtroom – due in part to non-disclosure agreements between the Harris corporation, the FBI and local jurisdictions. In 2011, Baltimore signed such an agreement that prevents the police department or state’s attorney’s office from even acknowledging use of the technology.

“It’s shocking,” public defender Deborah Levi said. “They engage in a third-party contracts to violate people’s constitutional rights.”

The state has 16 days to appeal against the ruling to the state’s highest court, and legal observers expect it could reach the U.S. supreme court.


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