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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Supreme Wisdom Without Scalia

The Supreme court has unanimously rejected a conservative challenge to voting rights – ruling that states could count the total population (not just eligible voters) in drawing legislative districts.

The case resulted when conservative activists in Texas challenged the legal principle of “one person, one vote”, which has long established that election districts should be drawn to be equal in population. The two plaintiffs argued the principle diluted the influence of those living in districts where a larger number of individuals were ineligible to vote.

But changing the method would most certainly lend greater power to states with wealthier populations with mostly white voters, and away from urban and more racially diverse areas. The lawsuit was opposed by the Obama administration and civil rights groups across America.

Not a single member of the court sided with the challengers. Ruth Bader Ginsburg authored the opinion for the court, in which the liberal justice wrote that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate a rationale upon which the court should overturn the longstanding use of total population in drawing districts.

The nation’s founders, she added, intended that “representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote”.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dreadful Bieber in the News Again

Justin Bieber has stirred controversy with his new dreadlocks, with fans calling him out for cultural appropriation.

The 22-year-old singer appeared on stage at the IHeartRadio Awards with his new hair style and posted several photos of the dreadlocks on his Instagram.

Misguided fans vented their frustrations, arguing that black hair styles are more than a fashion vogue, and cannot simply be culturally appropriated:

“People are annoyed cause when black people wear this style they are stereotyped as druggies and are “unkempt” look at Zendaya for example. She had fake dreads and she was stereotyped, But when people such as JB [...] wears them its suddenly 'the latest trend’.”

Note from the Dude:  So it's JB's fault that people with dreads are stereotyped?  Don't you see the irony in the fact that JB wearing dreads will actually help to eliminate those stereotypes? So quit your bitchin' already!

Other twitter users ranted like this:
“Dreadlocks are cultural appropriation. we've taught u this before. Your hair is fine as it was.”

Note from the Dude:  Enough with the "cultural appropriation" crap.  JB is not making fun of another culture or pretending he is African/Jamaican/whatever-- he just thinks the hairstyle is cool.  You folks would be the first to howl about freedom of expression if others starting making rules about what clothes or hairstyles you could or couldn't wear.  Chill!

The question of white dreadlocks has been at the forefront of social media traffic for the past week, since a video displaying a black student accosting a white student over his dreadlocks amassed more than three million views in three days:

Corey Goldstein (the white student harassed in the video above) responds to the issue here.  Hopefully those individuals misinformed over the "cultural appropriation" issue will get over their cultural selfishness and do something that actually benefits other cultures instead of acting like uptight hall monitors.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Yankees Suck By Screwing Over Its Fans

The Yankees would have you believe that eliminating print-at-home tickets is entirely motivated by a desire to prevent fraud, but the reality is that it has everything to do with the team’s partnership with Ticketmaster and ongoing war against StubHub.

When ticket resellers use StubHub, they can sell the ticket for whatever price the market will bear, but Ticketmaster sets artificial price floors that prevent sellers from listing tickets below face value.  This anti-competitive practice has recently been called out by the New York Attorney General, as it deprives fans the opportunity to buy tickets on a fair market.

The Yankees would like to avoid dealing with the reality of supply and demand (and perhaps try to figure out why fans would rather dump their tickets at a loss instead of going to games) as well as use the new anti-PDF policy in a blatant attempt to further undercut StubHub.

The Yankees can’t force anyone to use Ticketmaster instead of StubHub, but it can make using the latter a much bigger pain in the ass by eliminating printable tickets.   Ticketmaster doesn't rely on pdf-printed tickets, but instead delivers tickets directly to smartphones via a proprietary technology that is (surprise!) the only mobile ticket method accepted by the Yankees.  StubHub can't use Ticketmaster's proprietary smartphone delivery method, so it relies on pdf-printable tickets in order to help sellers avoid the need to arrange physical delivery of pre-printed tickets. 

StubHub is still the official ticket re-seller of Major League Baseball, but NFL is also engaged in the ongoing battle against StubHub and deprive its fans the ability to sell its ticket in a truly competitive market.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Getting "Berned" On The Campaign Trail

Bernie Sanders has been grabbing headlines by claiming that Hillary Clinton has taken “significant” contributions from the oil and gas industry.  The Washington Post is calling that a blatant lie:

The Sanders campaign is exaggerating the contributions that Clinton has received from the oil and gas industry. In the context of her overall campaign, the contributions are hardly significant. It’s especially misleading to count all of the funds raised by lobbyists with multiple clients as money “given” by the fossil-fuel industry.

Using Sanders' logic, one might come to the conclusion that Bernie has sold out to the military-industrial complex.  American Blog looked at Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s top contributors via the Open Secrets Web site-- Clinton’s top contributors are unions, foundations, and progressive organizations. While Sanders’ top contributors are huge corporations, the insurance industry, and the U.S. military.


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