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Odd Squad TV Series For Kids Solves Mysteries Using Math!

Posted November 26, 2014 by Sonya

Today, TVO launched a new live-action mystery solving kids series, Odd Squad, with math in mind. But before your kids tune out listen up! It’s not “ugh, math”…but a more “oh, that’s soooo cool math!” The television series involves a […]

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After seven years, you can finally own The Keyboard Waffle Iron

Posted November 26, 2014 by Daniel Cooper

Seven years ago, we brought you the story of a waffle iron that shaped the tasty treats into a keyboard. Plenty of you saw it and wished that you could have one of your very own, and it turns out that good things do come to those who wait. Designer C…

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How Charles Koch Sent His Emissary to London to Launch Climate Denial

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

Climate denial was imported from the United States to Britain by a free market idealist employed by the billionaire oil baron Charles Koch. DeSmog UK tells their story for the first time in a two-part longread from our epic history series. 

John Blundell was an idealist. A curious, unassuming and softly spoken conservative. When a sixteen-year-old school student living in a three-storey semi-detached house in the affluent suburbs of Congleton, Cheshire, his father handed him an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) pamphlet: “I was sitting up in bed, it was 1969 when I was trying to decide on A levels.

My dad was on the agricultural economy faculty at Manchester University and went to the library and brought home a pile of things to make sure I knew what I was doing,” Blundell told me just months before he passed away. “I was already leaning toward the market philosophy.”

Blundell studied economics at the London School of Economics where be became an active supporter of the IEA and a lifelong devotee of Thatcher.

Through his work at the institute he learned about the American free market think tanks founded by Antony Fisher and financially supported by Koch.

Blundell flew out to the United States to attend the South Royalton Conference around the time of his graduation in the summer of 1974. The event would attract a new generation of ideological adherents to libertarianism, many of whom would influence world affairs.

One delegate recalled: “I met several of the Austrian luminaries for the first time and I was blown away by how seriously the youthful audience took theoretical controversies.”

Another remembered: “Milton Friedman even showed up to deliver an evening lecture. That conference was a major event in the recovery of the Austrian economics movement.”

Radical Thought

The event was hosted by the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), which had been founded by the free market advocate Hal Harper with Fisher’s support.

The conference was funded by Charles Koch, who was also a major donor to the IHS. Koch was represented at the event by George Pearson who was looking for new, young talent and free market initiatives he could fund.

And so, Blundell discovered the world of heavily financed, powerful free market think tanks where he would establish his intellectual and spiritual home and become a powerful member of this small community. It wasn’t long before he would return to the United States.

“John Blundell had come to the IHS for the summer from England after attending the first Austrian economics conference at South Royalton,” Leonard Liggio, its director would record.

Blundell would soon be adopted into the free market family. Koch would undoubtedly be a father figure, providing financial and intellectual support. But this new relationship was fraught with danger as his new family was as susceptible to rivalries, controversies and dramatic fallings out as any other.

Koch here was king of everything and his judgement could be as cruel as it could sometimes be kind.  

Llewellyn Rockwell Jr attended the South Royalton Conference alongside Blundell and had also been taken under Koch’s wing, for a time. “In the early eighties, Charles Koch monopolised the libertarian think-tank world by giving and promising millions,” he recalled.

Eternal Enmity

Rockwell and his close friend Murray Rothbard landed funding to set up an institute to promote the radical economics of Ludwig von Mises, the economist from Vienna who first convinced Hayek of the dangers of socialism.

But before long Koch was “gradually edging away from radical thought” and would turn on his two young disciples: “It was clear that Koch saw their break as the beginning of a long war,” Rothbard claimed.

Pearson, Koch’s right-hand-man, called Rockwell one day and told him that Mises was now considered “so extreme, even Milton Friedman doesn’t like him”.

The advice from the top was the think tank should be shut down: “If I insisted on going against their diktat, they would oppose me tooth and nail”, Rockwell was warned.

Koch, or his men, imposed a “boycott”. Over the coming weeks and months the Mises Institute was subjected to angry calls and letters from Koch-funded organisations. “They resigned and swore eternal enmity. We even lost some big donors. It was my baptism of fire into the world of research institutes,” Rockwell added.

“It may seem absurd to talk about this as if it were some sort of conspiracy against the Mises Institute. Why would a multibillionaire care if the institute existed or not? I mean, we were the gnat compared to his water buffalo. It is a mystery that even today I don’t entirely understand. In any case, there was blood all over the place by the time it was over.”

Blundell would have to act carefully if he were not to displease his new sponsor.

@brendanmontague

Photo: Creative Commons

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Minister Bernard Valcourt to attend the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association Annual Meeting

Posted November 26, 2014 by Canada News Centre - National News

Please be advised that the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, will attend the NACCA’s annual general managers meeting where he will be making an announcement concerning the Government of Canada’s suppo…

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‘Mean Girls’ Star Jonathan Bennett — MASSIVE FAIL in ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Prep Video

Posted November 26, 2014 by TMZ Staff

Jonathan Bennett’s “Dancing With the Stars” appearance almost never happened … because he suffered a humongous fall as he jokingly tried to prep for the show … and it was all caught on tape.So here’s the deal … the “Mean Girls” star shot t…

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Model Laura Cremaschi — Sun’s Out, Buns Out

Posted November 26, 2014 by TMZ Staff

It’s gonna be 84 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles today. It was 80 degrees yesterday … which is why Italian model Laura Cremaschi broke out the Daisy Dukes for a nice beach workout. Crunches. Jump squats. Tire drag. Awesome. Happy…

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20 Years of Cooperation Between France and Atlantic Canada Translates to Strengthened Partnerships, Increased Opportunities

Posted November 26, 2014 by Canada News Centre - National News

Atlantic Canadian business, community and government stakeholders are meeting in Charlottetown this week with their counterparts from the French archipelago of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon to mark the 20th anniversary of formal cooperation between the two…

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Jian Ghomeshi charged with 4 counts of sex assault

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

Jian Ghomeshi charged with sex assault

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Samsung says its ChatOn messaging service is staying put

Posted November 26, 2014 by Jon Fingas

Samsung may have shut down some of its services in recent months, but ChatOn? It’s not going anywhere. While The Korea Times claimed that Samsung was going to drop its messaging service on a “region-to-region” basis because it wasn’t making cash, the…

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NBA’s Stephen Jackson Sued — ‘I’ll Spend It All’ … Before I Let My Wife Get It

Posted November 26, 2014 by TMZ Staff

Stephen Jackson’s estranged wife says there’s an innocent victim in her divorce from the ex-NBA star … her Bentley … which she claims Stephen sold off behind her back just to piss her off. In some super bitter legal docs obtained by TMZ…

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Christmas

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Saying Happy Holidays is Acceptable

Posted November 26, 2014 by Ian Chadwick

This time of year we get inundated on Facebook and Twitter with this sort of stupid, offensive warning about saying “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of Merry Christmas. A couple of these appeared in a few hours just today, and there will be more, no doubt. Sorry, but it’s just xenophobic hogwash; an uncomfortably fundamentalist and […]

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I Steam Cleaned My Vagina

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

I have a great vagina. Really, I do. I’ve never had a problem with yeast infections, never had a pap smear come back abnormal, never had to deal with menstrual cramps. I have the kind of vagina that deserves to be pampered, so when I heard about “vaginal steaming,” I thought to myself: Vagina, you deserve a spa day.

Vaginal steaming, sometimes called V-steaming by those too squeamish to say the word “vagina,” is remarkably similar to making tea. You put a bunch of special herbs in hot water, then—and this is where the tea similarities end—hover over it, allowing the steam to “deep clean” your vagina and uterus. This is said to dislodge any “buildup,” and can
allegedly relieve hormonal imbalances, menstrual discomfort, and digestive issues.

There’s a spa near me that offers V-steaming, but they charge $50 for a 30-minute session, which seems like a lot of money to pay to literally sit on a pot of hot water. So instead, I looked up “DIY V-steaming” online and found these instructions from the ​YinOva Center in New York:

  1. Pour eight cups of water (preferably purified water) into a medium-sized pot, 
  2. Place a handful of fresh herbs (about a quarter cup) into the water.
  3. Bring water to a soft boil (with the lid on) for five minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and steep for another five minutes with the lid on.
  5. Pour four cups (half of the pot) of water into a bowl you’ve place in your toilet. (PS put a bowl in your toilet.)
  6. Wave your hand eight to ten inches over the herbal water to make sure it’s not too hot.
  7. Remove your underwear and sit on the seat above the steaming water.
  8. Drape a large blanket or sheet around your waist and down to the floor to make sure no steam escapes.
  9. Keep yourself warm by wearing something on your feet (socks, slippers) and neck. You do not want any cold to get into your body while you are trying to warm it.
  10. You should feel a warm, rolling heat for about ten to 12 minutes.
  11. When the steam dies down, dump the water into the toilet. Starting with step four, begin the second dosage with the other half of the herbal water. If it has cooled too much you’ll need to reheat it, but test again before sitting over the steam.

If you get your V-steam done at a spa, they’ll seat you in chair with a little hole in the middle, which allows the steam to rise into your hoo-ha. Since I do not own a chair with a hole in the middle, I was pleased to find that the YinOva Center recommended steaming on your toilet. This would be so easy! 

Vaginal steam baths come from an ancient Korean tradition called
chai-yok, which uses mugwort and wormwood to cleanse the vagina. Both herbs are associated with detoxification, uterine health, and improving hormonal balance. I had never heard of either mugwort or wormwood and thought they sounded like ingredients for some kind of Wiccan magic. When I asked an employee at Whole Foods if they carried the herbs, he looked at me as if I’d asked him if they stocked crack cocaine. So I ended up ordering both on Amazon, and when they arrived, I was surprised to find that the mugwort looked and smelled exactly like sawdust. Like, just chopped up tree bark and dirt. I also found this somewhat disconcerting messaging printed on the package for wormwood: 

[body_image width=’1500′ height=’1211′ path=’images/content-images/2014/11/25/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2014/11/25/’ filename=’i-steam-cleaned-my-vagina-125-body-image-1416940855.jpg’ id=’6761′]​

Look, I just want to steam my vadge, but if I come out with psychic superpowers, so be it.

Before I set a pot of water to boil, I wanted to consult a gynecologist to make sure I was doing this right, so I called up ​Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN in New York and coauthor of V Is for Vagina. Dr. Dweck kind of balked when I told her what I wanted to do, but she ultimately gave me her blessing.

“Steam will bring extra blood flow to the genital area, and that helps with healing and muscle relaxation in general,” she said. It also helps with stress relief—I mean, you’re just sitting there on a warm pot for half an hour—which could be why V-steaming has been credited for improving fertility and menstrual cramps alike.

Dweck warned me to monitor the temperature of the steam, “because you could get a pretty bad burn in this area, and that would be awful” and to avoid using essential oils, which would be too concentrated for this sensitive area of the body.

With Dweck’s advice in mind, I set a pot of water on the stove and threw in a handful of the herbs. Some women say that while they’re V-steaming, they can taste the herbs on their tongue after a few minutes. I seriously hoped that didn’t happen to me, because the smell of the herbs—kind of like mulch?—was fairly horrendous. It didn’t look great either:

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The witch’s brew

When the water was boiled and the herbs were fully steeped, I poured my “tea” into a big mixing bowl and set it in my toilet. It was dark—like, really dark—and seeing it there in my toilet, with flecks of herbs floating around on the top, gave me that same panicky feeling as when you take too much vitamin B and your pee turns neon yellow. You know there’s nothing to actually worry about, but seeing those colors in your toilet bowl is simply unnerving.

I eased myself onto my seat, and at first, it felt nice, like stepping into a sauna. But within a few seconds, I realized that the steam was still scorching hot . I threw in a few ice cubes to temper the steam and sat back down. As instructed, I was wearing a pair of thick socks and kept a blanket on my lap to isolate the warmth. It was uncomfortably warm for a few moments, but I relaxed into it pretty quickly, as if I were easing into a hot bubble bath. I flicked my iPad on to enjoy a little mindless internet browsing and tried to ignore the fact that I could feel my vagina sweating.

I sat like that for 25 minutes, and it was honestly very relaxing. A woman needs to spend quality time with her vagina every now and again, and this was an entirely agreeable way to do so.

[body_image width=’1500′ height=’1778′ path=’images/content-images/2014/11/25/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2014/11/25/’ filename=’i-steam-cleaned-my-vagina-125-body-image-1416941129.jpg’ id=’6764′]

When I eventually arose, I peered into the mixing bowl to see if I had “dislodged” anything into the water below. It was difficult to tell, because the herbs and hot water looked just as disgusting as before. But I
felt great: clean, relaxed, at ease. Was I more relaxed than, say, after taking a hot bath? Hard to say. Had I gained psychic powers? It didn’t seem like it (still waiting to see, though). Did I feel cleansed from whatever was building up inside my reproductive organs? Again, I’m not sure. The steam certainly felt nice, but as for restoring my vaginal health, that might just be a bunch of hot air.

Follow Arielle Pardes on ​Twitter.

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Placing Guns in the Hands of Artists

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

[body_image width=’1000′ height=’361′ path=’images/content-images/2014/11/24/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2014/11/24/’ filename=’placing-guns-in-the-hands-of-artists-body-image-1416847455.jpg’ id=’6264′]

“In the Pursuit of Happiness (When the Shit Hits the Fan),” 2014, by Dan Tague (detail)

As reports of the October shooting in a Washington State high school ricocheted through the news, New Orleans’s ​Jonatha​n Ferrara Gallery opened a powerfully resonant and undeniably timely group exhibition called Guns in the Hands of Artists. Organized in conjunction with the New Orleans-based citywide contemporary art biennial Prospect 3, the show features work from over 30 artists who used decommissioned handguns and rifles taken from the streets of New Orleans via the New Orleans Police Department’s gun buyback program as their inspiration.

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“One Hot Month,” 2014, by Generic Art Solutions

The works in the exhibition, by both local and national artists, are presented through a wide variety of mediums, including photography, prints, sculpture, and video. The pieces confront the place of guns in American culture, and often reference real instances of gun violence. Generic Art Solutions’s
One Hot Month, for example, is a silkscreened collection of 27 photographs of victims of gun violence in New Orleans in August 2002 layered underneath eerie photograms of handguns. 

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“Kurt Cobong,” 2014 by Skylar Fein

Based on a similar show mounted in 1996 during a time when New Orleans had the infamous honor of being the murder capital of the United States, the exhibition’s overwhelming quantity of gun-related art renders the issues of gun violence inescapable and unavoidable. It also brings those issues into a visceral realm, impossible not to feel, as evidenced by R. Luke DuBois’s Take a Bullet for This City, which is programmed to fire a blank every time a shooting is reported in New Orleans.

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“Take a Bullet for This City,” 2014, by R. Luke DuBois

The first iteration of
Guns in the Hands of Artists appeared at Jonathan Ferrara’s former gallery, Positive Space the Gallery, in the Lower Garden District. The show was the brainchild of artist Brian Borrello, who contributed two gun sculptures to the current exhibition. As Ferrara remembers, “The context of that show was the murder rate was escalating in the mid 1990s in New Orleans. Brian chose to put this exhibition on to take the discussion about guns and gun violence in our society into the realm of art, using art as a means for dialogue and an access point.”

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“Target: Audience,” 2014, by Generic Art Solutions

A striking and newsworthy concept, the exhibition was featured in the
New York Times, Time, and Good Morning America, which Ferrara almost missed because back then he was “waiting tables until 4 o’clock in the morning.” While the exhibition garnered significant media attention, Ferrara remembers, “from an exhibition perspective, it was heavy on guns and kind of light on art.”

Eighteen years later, as a much more experienced gallery owner, Ferrara decided to revisit
Guns in the Hands of Artists. “The idea had been welling up inside me and every time something would happen, I would think, You need to do something. What do you do? What do individuals do in this situation? Having done this exhibition almost 20 years ago, I thought, That’s what I can do. I remembered how it worked the last time and felt compelled to revisit it.”

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“Carry On, Drugs, Gun & Teddy Bear,” 2014, by Luis Cruz Azaceta

This time around Ferrara decided to involve government entities in the organization of the show. He reached out to everyone from the City Council to the Mayor’s Office to the NOPD. While an active member of the New Orleans community, the grueling red tape–filled process to acquire the guns for the exhibition took about two years. Ferrara explains, “I leaned on my political connections to intercede on my behalf with the NOPD. It still took me probably six to eight months to just get to the point where we could get into the evidence room to meet with the police department and select the guns.”

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In January 2013, Ferrara, along with Brian Borrello, finally entered the NOPD’s evidence room in order to select the guns for the project. “You walk in there,” recalls Ferrara, “and there’s a huge impound room that smells like reefer, full of impounded weed. Then there’s a thousand bicycles and finally, you go into the gun room and there’s just guns everywhere. They said, ‘Choose them.’ We ended up getting 186 guns: 160 handguns and 26 sawed-off shotguns.”

Continuing to wait for a letter of approval from now-former Chief Ronal Serpas of the NOPD and eventually, finding himself maneuvering through the bureaucracy of the city of New Orleans to release the guns, Ferrara finally received the chosen weapons in early 2014—only to find that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) got involved and blow-torched the guns before handing them over. He gave the artists the option of either working with the ATF-demolished guns or taking a gun bought by Ferrara as long as it was on the decommissioned list, and Ferrara says many of the artists took on the challenge of working with the torched guns.

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“Sleeping on Reason,” 2014, by William Villalongo

Artists in the exhibit range from nationally recognized figures such as Mel Chin and Deborah Luster to younger emerging New Orleans locals; Ferrara felt it was important to reflect the national scope of gun violence. Asked about his process in finding the artists, Ferrara responds, “This is not a New Orleans issue so why should it only be New Orleans art. It’s a national issue that affects every region of the country. I tried to work with artists from that perspective.”

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“Arthur,” 2014, by Mel Chin

Not only does
Guns in the Hands of Artists feature artists of varying genders, races, and ethnicities, but Ferrara also commissioned artists who specifically did not typically work with guns in their artistic practice—like Nicholas Varney, a jewelry designer known for working with Hillary Clinton and Liza Minnelli, who created a 18-karat gold and diamond-encrusted bullet. “I wanted to challenge artists to use guns as raw materials for their art in a way that was not already part of their oeuvre or aesthetic,” says Ferrara. “I wanted to challenge people who were painters or sculptors to take these foreign materials and incorporate them into their practice to make a statement about guns and gun violence.” 

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“Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun (Last Judgment) After: Hans Memling’s ‘The Last Judgment’ Triptych (c. late 1460’s), Bambi’s mother from Disney’s ‘Bambi’ (1942),” 2014, by Adam Mysock

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“The Last Six, Under Six, Murdered by a Gun in the Sixth,” 2014, by Adam Mysock

An artist himself, Ferrara also constructed a sculpture titled Excaliber No More for the exhibition, imbedding a shotgun in stone. “Until I did my piece, I didn’t feel completely at ease with the exhibition,” he says.

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“Excalibur No More,” 2014 by Jonathan Ferrara

Though it took a lengthy odyssey to receive the guns from the NOPD and the city, Ferrara acquired a Mossberg shotgun for his sculpture with unbelievable and almost terrifying ease. Since the private sale of guns is legal in Louisiana, he simply purchased a gun found online for $300 cash right in his gallery. As he remembers, “It took me about two seconds to get the gun and 15 minutes to have a conversation about the Second Amendment. No restrictions, no record, I could walk out the door and do whatever I wanted.”

Before placing the shotgun in stone with help from the employees at Mediterranean Tile, Ferrara felt he had to shoot the gun he purchased. “It’s a total rush,” says Ferrara. “It would be artistic heresy and a falsehood to buy the gun and the rock and just insert it. I felt I had to have a physical relationship with the power of the gun and then suppress it.”

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“War of Freedom,” 2014, by Michel De Broin

In addition to the exhibition, which is open until January 25,
Guns in the Hands of Artists also features an essential educational component, motivated by a question from NOPD Weapons Control Officer Earl Johnson, who asked Ferrara, “So you’re doing this exhibition in a white gallery on Julia Street, how is this going to affect kids in the hood?” Attempting to answer that question, the gallery is partnering with Central City’s Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), an organization working with juveniles from age 7 to 24 who have been through the juvenile justice system, to organize both a monthly series of panels livestreamed from the gallery on gun violence and a youth-focused studio series.

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“Marigny Warning,” 2014m by John Barnes

Planning both a book and a documentary about the exhibition, Ferrara foresees
Guns in the Hands of Artists as a traveling exhibition. As Ferrara states, “The next stage is for it to travel. What better place to have this conversation emanate from than New Orleans, which has always been a leader in murders. Why can’t we take the lead in opening a dialogue about guns and gun violence?”

Reflecting on the success of the exhibition so far, Ferrara reveals, “Watching it over the last month, we’ve had a lot of viewers that are not art people. The art people love it and the non-art people love it. There’s a visual and/or conceptual beauty to the works. The interesting part is once you hook the viewer into the aesthetic, they open their mind in a different way that they wouldn’t have been able to before. Art is the access point to potentially changing the conversation.” 


Guns in the Hands of Artists will be on view at Jonathan Fer​rara Gallery in New Orleans through January 25th, 2015.

Emily Colucci is a New York–based writer and the co-founder of Filth​y Dreams, a blog that analyzes culture through a queer lens. Follow her on Twi​tter.

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The Pros and Cons of Being Black in America in 2014

Posted November 26, 2014 by Dave Schilling

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Illustration by Nick Gazin

The year 2014 has not been great for black folks. In fact, it’s been pretty much awful. I’m talking final-episode-of-How-I-Met-Your-Mother awful. Having to endure 365 days of George Zimmerman, Bill Cosby rape allegations, Will Smith’s kids, and Real Housewives of Atlanta can do nothing but bring a brother down. The Ferguson grand jury decision was my own last straw, as I imagine it was for many African Americans. I’ve sat through enough miscarriages of justice and Tyler Perry movies for one lifetime.

Maybe you’re thinking about getting out of this “being black” game? Maybe a system that constantly works against you, a collection of “civic leaders” who let you down at every turn, and a culture that keeps shoving Iggy Azalea videos down your throat has robbed you of your last shred of dignity? Ignoring the realities of genetics and biology, let’s assume we could choose whether or not to be black in America. What if we could ditch this burden of prejudice and mistrust? Would we still choose to be who we are? I asked myself this question a lot over the past two nights and came up with the following pros and cons of being black.

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PRO: There Is a Black President of the United States

Can you believe it? MLK’s dream finally came true in 2008. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. The election of Barack Obama changed American history forever and ushered in a new era of racial harmony… for about a few months in 2009. I suppose we should be grateful. I can’t wait to tell my grandkids about the couple weeks I didn’t feel like a second-class citizen in my own country. That’ll be a fun story while I outfit them with their bulletproof vests.

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CON: The First Black President Is Kind of a Wuss

It’s been over six years, so I think we can finally be real here. This was not what we were hoping for. You can get mad, dude. You should be mad. I’m mad. What do you have to lose at this point? Are you hoping to get a late-night talk show? Good luck with that, man. The ​odds are not in your favor. The one time you really put yourself out was for healthcare reform and you backpeddled on the single-payer system anyway. We still have Guantanamo, more wars than I can keep track of, and a nation that is rapidly losing faith in its institutions. Keep it 100 next time, Barack.

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PRO: Beyonce!

She’s so fierce! Her latest video, dropped without warning last weekend, set the internet on fire. I’m too busy staring at her ass shaking to be upset about Ferguson. Girl, I don’t know what you got, but I like it.

CON: You Can Get Shot by the Police While Unarmed

It should go without saying that this is a bit of an occupational hazard. This is not what I signed up for when I decided to be black. I distinctly recall asking for a killer fallaway jumper, a new Maybach, and a pool full of champagne. I did not ask for the ever-present threat of a violent demise. I guess it’s true that you can’t always get what you want. 

The police have guns, tear gas, tanks, Tasers, billy clubs, helicopters, and the criminal justice system. I’ve got a scary face and some Skittles in my pocket. I think the deck is stacked against me on this one.

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PRO: Drake!

He’s always got a clean fade, his ​Instagram is on point, the ladies love him, and his last album was a legit banger. I mean, the guy can do it all. Let’s try to forget him ​airballing during Kentucky’s pre-game shootaround or his bizarre cameo in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video. Instead, remember all the joy Champagne Papi has given us in 2014. The dude is untouchable.

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CON: It Is Assumed That You Have Superhuman Strength

In some instances, this could be a plus. It’s a lot less likely that you’re going to get cut in line at the DMV. It only really becomes problematic when firearms and batons are in play. The LAPD ​almost killed Rodney King because they alleged that he had developed some comic book superpowers after doing PCP. That was supposed to excuse the fact that they clubbed him within an inch of his life. Ferguson PD officer Darren Wilson, on the other hand, didn’t even have the PCP defense to fall back on. Officer Wilson only had the look in ​Michael Brown’s eyes to go off of, and based on his evaluation of the situation, you’d think Brown was struck with a ​Gamma Bomb or fell in a vat of radioactive waste.

Personally, I’m a bit fed up with my friends and neighbors acting like I have freak strength. They’re constantly harassing me to help them move, open pickle jars, and defeat ​out-of-control cyborg monsters. Memo to white people: I cannot lift a car with my bare hands. Also, bullets work on me just like they work on you.

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PRO: The Kardashian Sisters

OK, they’re not black, but they’re the strongest, most vocal celebrity allies we have. They’re constantly speaking out about their love of black people and are not ashamed of it. As we reflect on how far we’ve come with race relations in America and how far we still have left, we can point to the Kardashians and say, “at least they are doing their part to further the cause.” Thanks, ladies.

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CON: People Think You Look Like a Fucking Demon

The above is a demon. Michael Brown did not look like that. Has Darren Wilson ever ​seen a real demon before? Perhaps one of the police academy tests should be an eye exam. “Is This a Demon or a Black Guy?” If you can’t tell the difference, you have to go bag groceries or sell insurance.

PRO: Our Slang Only Gets Better Every Year

I just learned what a ”
​fuckboi” is. What a useful, versatile term. I’ve already used it twice in conversation today, and I can tell you that my coworkers were all impressed with my linguistic dexterity. We did it again, people. Hopefully the rest of the world doesn’t realize we have E-40 trapped in a basement with a car battery attached to his nuts, forcing him to invent new words every day. Let’s keep that amongst ourselves.

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CON: Don Lemon Represents You on the News

Remember, he’s doing the best job he possibly can.
This is his A-game. This is his “Michael Jordan NBA Finals Flu Game.” This is Don Lemon killing it, and he’s still fucking terrible. Don Lemon is a human facepalm. He is a walking meme of cringeworthy nonsense. He must have the Looney Tunes theme playing in his head at all times. That’s the only way to explain why he can’t hear the voices in his head telling him not to spew bullshit on television. 

Being black is not a choice. It’s something we have to live with forever, and unfortunately, it’s not getting any easier. I can only hope that we all take this time to come together, not just as African-Americans, but as Americans. This country is not even close to being perfect, but it’s all we have right now. Instead of embracing despair, it’s time to do something besides ​burn down pizza restaurants.

Follow Dave Schilling on ​Twitter.

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General

​How Michael Brown’s Friend Described His Death to the Ferguson Grand Jury

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous


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Cigarillos like the ones Michael Brown reportedly stole from the store. Photo via Flickr user ​Marcus Walker

Thee following is closely adapted from the testimony Dorian Johnson gave to the Ferguson grand jury, which last night declined to indict officer Darren Wilson.

It started just like any other morning for Dorian Johnson. His plans were to ask his daughter what she wanted to eat for breakfast and then go get high. On the way to Ferguson Market, though, he ran into an acquaintance he quite liked. Michael Brown, who was only 18 to Johnson’s 22, was something like a younger brother to him. Although they’d only met about three months before, Johnson thought the kid was the kind of guy he could trust around his family. He was quiet and kept to himself, and he also liked to smoke.

The two agreed to smoke weed together, and Brown joined the quest to procure cigarillos, presumably to roll a blunt. They shot the shit for a while about girls and clothes, although Brown also asked his older companion for advice on living a comfortable life. Johnson, who was wearing pajama pants and holding cash in his shoes, had escaped a life of gang violence to rent his own apartment with a live-in girlfriend.

“Basically our conversation was on future,
future emphasis,” he told the grand jury.

When they got to the store, Brown unceremoniously walked to the counter and grabbed a box of 69-cent cigarillos—Johnson estimates the box was worth about $30 or $40. When the clerk didn’t react, the 18-year-old grabbed a few loose ones too. The proprietor tried to block Brown from walking out the door but was easily brushed away by the 6’4″ giant.

Johnson was shocked. After all, his friend always dressed well, so it was weird that he didn’t have money. And since he had literally just asked for advice on building a decent life, it seemed out of character for him to rob a local store. “I’m going to call the police,” the robbery victim apparently said as the two headed back to the apartment complex.

It was about a four- or five-minute walk home, and Johnson tried to process what had just happened. He panicked when a car headed toward them, but breathed a sigh of relief when it drove past the store for the neighboring McDonald’s on West Florissant.

They hadn’t decided whose house to go smoke at when Darren Wilson approached them in his police cruiser. “Get the fuck out of the street,” he yelled at the pair, who for whatever reason had eschewed the sidewalk. Johnson explained they were “a minute” away from their destination and the cop drove off. But within a second, rubber was burning on the pavement, and Johnson had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit by the rapidly reversing cop car. “What did you say?” the officer asked Brown, although he allegedly had said nothing.

Brown and Johnson were standing right next to the officer’s driver’s side door. When Darren Wilson tried to get out it smacked them and closed right back—
boom boom!

So Wilson grabbed Brown with his left hand through the window. “He had a real good grip on him,” Johnson recalled. In order to break free of the hand on his throat, Brown leveraged one hand on top of the cruiser and another near its side window. The cop and the kid were cussing at each other and engaged in a “tug of war,” as Johnson explained to the grand jury.

Johnson was paralyzed with fear by the time Brown handed him the cigarillos. “That’s where I’m like, this doesn’t happen every day, something is out of order here.” By that time, three cars were waiting behind the traffic-blocking cruiser.

When he heard the words, “I’ll shoot,” Johnson assumed the cop meant a Taser. When he saw the barrel of a gun, he could barely breathe. “He was going to say, ‘I’ll shoot,’ again,” Johnson explained. “He didn’t finish the sentence. The gun went off.”

After Brown was hit, the officer released his grip. Johnson stopped and ducked behind the first of the cars blocked in by the cruiser. “Can you please take me home? I stay in the same complex,” he pleaded to the driver, who responded by driving up on the sidewalk and away from the scene.

Meanwhile, Brown made it past the third car with the officer in pursuit. Another shot was fired, which caused his body to jerk and then stop running. He turned around weakly, his hand half in the air as he coped with his wounds. “I don’t have a gun,” Johnson remembers his friend saying. “And before he can say the second sentence or before he can even get it out, that’s when several more shots came.”

Follow Allie Conti on T​witter

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General

Syrian Refugees on a Hunger Strike in Athens Are Starting to Collapse

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

​On Tuesday, November 25, m
ore than 200 Syrian refugees began staging a hunger strike in front of the Greek parliament. It evolved out of a six-day-long sit-in the refugees embarked on to demand the right to live and work in Greece or leave the country legally. Activists have told me that nine people have been hospitalized, six people have collapsed, and others are starting to show symptoms of hypothermia. 

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“We will stay. We will not eat. We will not drink. We will not do anything until the Greek government or the European Union responds,” says Jalel, a Syrian who has been in Greece for three months. Since the protest began last week, temperatures have dropped and the winds blowing through Syntagma Square have gone from bracing to freezing. On the sixth day, the group decided to commence a hunger strike even as one woman was taken to the hospital for symptoms of hypothermia.

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The number of Syrian refugees entering Europe through Greece continues to grow, according to the
Wall Street Journal. Police statistics show that some ​29,000 refugees from Syria have entered Greece in the first ten months of this year, versus about 8,500 for the whole of 2013. According to Eurostat, 165,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Europe since the start of the war nearly four years ago. In the earlier days of the Syrian civil war, those seeking refuge in Europe would mostly come in through the land border Greece shares with Turkey. 

Since then, Greece, along with FRONTEX, the EU’s border protection agency, has beefed up security and built a 
​fence along its 128-mile border with Turkey. Now many migrants, mostly Syrian refugees, travel instead to the eastern Aegean islands, some of which are only a few miles from the Turkish shore. Smuggling rings put desperate migrants on inflatable dinghies and send them across to Greece. The added danger of crossing the border this way has resulted in several deaths and disappearances, most recently late last week when four people—including a little girl—​went missing off the island of Lesbos. 

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According to refugees, part of the problem is the lack of a legal way to leave Greece and go elsewhere in Europe. One told me he tried to leave Greece via FYR Macedonia and said he was not only detained for 30 days but was also beaten by police, exacerbating gunshot wounds from when he was shot back in Syria. Others who have been caught in Macedonia have told me similar stories of prolonged detention and abuse by authorities there.

Many the Syrian refugees who have made it to Europe are highly educated former members of the middle class who sold most of their possessions to pay for their escape. They say they hope to use their skills to find work when they get to a country that has job opportunities for them. Obada is a doctor from the ISIS-controlled city of Raqqa. He and his family escaped to Turkey and he hopes to make it to either Italy or the UK where he has family. “Many of us here are doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and we need help from the European Union to resettle in a place where there’s opportunities for us,” he says. 

Sami, a 20-year-old from Damascus, left Syria with his mother, who is now in Switzerland. He has tried five times so far to travel to Switzerland and reunite with her only to be turned back at the airport. He has made some friends in Greece and says he likes Athens very much, but understands why it is not possible to stay here. “Greece cannot help us. We know this, but this is why we need to be allowed to move on from here,” he says. 

Moyad, from Homs, has been in Greece for six months and has also tried numerous times to leave. “They don’t want us here, but at the same time they are blocking us from going somewhere else,” he says. 

Some of the refugees have more urgent situations. Khaleel, a 
17-year-old who recently lost his hair, wants to seek medical care for cancer after being told by a doctor back home that he has symptoms but was unable to get tested there. He will attempt for the tenth time in three months to leave Greece this week to see a doctor in Paris.

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Despite repeated threats of eviction, the Greek police have refrained from forcing the Syrian refugees to leave Syntagma Square. Over the last week, many individual Greeks and some community groups have left clothes, blankets, and food donations. They say that until they are able to escape the bureaucratic trap they are in, they plan to continue sitting on cardboard boxes and resting in sleeping bags on the marble floor of Syntagma Square, because it’s all many of them have left. 

Follow Nick Barnets on ​Twitter.

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General

Macy’s Parade Balloons Come To Life

Posted November 26, 2014 by The Nag

Are you looking for something to do in NYC today? From 3pm – 10pm you can watch as Macy’s  iconic parade balloons are filled with helium. See Kermit the Frog, Charlie Brown, Sonic the Hedgehog, Buzz Lightyear, and more.More: Link

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General

The new Sony A7 II camera arrives in the US next month for $1,700

Posted November 26, 2014 by Edgar Alvarez

Sony’s recently unveiled full-frame, mirrorless shooter, the A7 II, made a number of people quite excited when it was announced last week. Back then, though, the electronics company only revealed pricing and availability for Japan. Good news: Sony an…

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General

Your Moral And Intellectual Superiors

Posted November 26, 2014 by kate@smalldeadanimals.com

About to begin. Levin and lawyer Clayton Ruby in house. Looks like @SunNewsNetwork is the only media here excluding an independent blogger.— Faith Goldy Ù† (@FaithGoldy) November 26, 2014…

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General

Parks Canada tripping and stumbling to attract new visitors

Posted November 26, 2014 by Vancouver Sun - News

BANFF — For years, Banff National Park has tried to boost its revenues by finding ways to entice new visitors to the renowned mountain playground west of Calgary.  They’ve added the GranFondo bike ride, a new Banff marathon and allowed ski resorts to open for summer activities such as mountain climbing and sightseeing. But Banff’s former superintendent says Parks […]

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General

Microsoft rolls out Bing Maps traffic guesstimation worldwide

Posted November 26, 2014 by Steve Dent

Bing Maps users outside the US will now have a better idea of how long it takes to get from A to B, as Microsoft has just launched Clearflow traffic estimation around the world. The system works by taking live traffic data for main roads and surface …

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General

Harper Government solidifies partnership with Canada’s Professional Accountants

Posted November 26, 2014 by Canada News Centre - National News

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, today announced the signing of a first-ever agreement with Canada’s chartered professional accountant community, signaling a new era of information and collaboration…

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Environment

Things Are Good: New York City’s Simple, and Green, Flood Prevention

Posted November 26, 2014 by Adam Clare

New York, like other large cities, has a lot of impermeable services which means that when it rains there is little to contain the water. By using green infrastructure of soil, broken stone, shrubs, trees, etc. the bioswales can capture a lot of water. This green infrastructure is good for water management and obviously benefits the local environments through cleaner air and more pleasant views.

The Big Apple’s pretty new bioswales, built into city sidewalks much like standard tree pits and more modest in size than their suburban brethren, will join about 250 of these aesthetically pleasing drainage ditches that (Read more…)

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Culture

Daily Headlines: News From the Internet for November 26, 2014

Posted November 26, 2014 by Jack Landau

Urban

Toronto looks to reduce lane widths in hopes of getting cars to slow down, using extra space for other things; Airport workers to get a discount on new Union Station-Pearson train; Province calls in expert to look at what’s going wrong at troubled Toronto District School Board; and more news…

Toronto looks to reduce lane widths in hopes of getting cars to slow down, using extra space for other things (National Post)

Shabby Toronto apartment was once home to Russia’s Grand Duchess Olga (Toronto Star)

Tory offers qualified support for narrower traffic lanes in Toronto (Globe and Mail)

Airport workers to get a discount on new Union Station-Pearson train (Toronto Star)

Province calls in expert to look at what’s going wrong at troubled Toronto District School Board (National Post)

In the race for Toronto mayor, he came in dead last (Globe and Mail)

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General

Teri Hatcher — I HAVE A REAL SUPER BOWL RING … Here’s How I Got It

Posted November 26, 2014 by TMZ Staff

Steve Young … Jerry Rice … Teri Hatcher — they ALL have rings from Super Bowl XXIX — even though one of them wasn’t actually on the team at the time. The former “Lois & Clark” star WAS a cheerleader for the 49ers back in 1984 … but…

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General

New Brunswick to scrap law that restricts abortion access

Posted November 26, 2014 by The Canadian Press

FREDERICTON—New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant says he will scrap a contentious regulation that restricts access to abortion in the province.

Gallant made the surprise announcement Wednesday in Fredericton, saying the planned amendments mean women will no longer have to get the approval of two doctors before having the procedure.

It will also no longer have to be done by a specialist.

The changes will come into effect Jan. 1 and will be covered like any insured medical service.

Gallant says he decided to make the amendments after determining that a section of Regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act hindered access to the procedure.

He campaigned on a promise to strike a panel that would review barriers to abortion, but abruptly changed course.

The issue entered the spotlight when the Morgentaler Clinic closed in Fredericton in July.

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Entertainment

Why Did Eva Mendes Keep Her Pregnancy Private?

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

Eva Mendes breaks her silence! Two months after welcoming her baby girl with partner Ryan Gosling, Mendes finally opens up on what it’s like to be a new mom to daughter Esmeralda Amada and why she decided to keep her […]

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General

Canada Post segment reports $13-million profit before tax in third quarter

Posted November 26, 2014 by Canada News Centre - National News

The Canada Post segment reported a profit before tax of $13 million in the third quarter compared to a loss before tax of $129 million in the same quarter of 2013. As they were in the second quarter, the results are mostly due to the impact of lower em…

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General

Blunt Objects Blog: Quick post on rough estimates

Posted November 26, 2014 by TheNewTeddy

This is partly in reply to a 308 post about the by-elections provincially in Newfoundland. What I want to discuss is two things. First; what to do when you want to do a projection but are short on time. Right now I am very short on time (sorry for not posting more often!) so I’m not only truncating this post as much as possible, but I will teach you how to quickly do estimates. First, note the PC and NDP numbers. For the NDP you’ll note 7.8 and 5.4, but more importantly, the “down by” numbers of (Read more…)

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General

Ferguson officer Wilson says he’s sorry about Brown’s death but followed his training that day

Posted November 26, 2014 by Vancouver Sun - News

WASHINGTON – Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson says he “never wanted to take anybody’s life” and feels sorry about the death of Michael Brown.

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General

Wise Law Blog: 140 Law – Legal Headlines for Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

Here are the leading legal headlines from Wise Law on Twitter for Wednesday, November 26, 2014: NDP MP says she gave no ‘explicit’ consent to Liberal’s alleged advances  Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom says extradition fight has cost him $10 million Ontario orders review of TDSB after ‘inappropriate behaviour’ Brown family lawyer denounces ‘unfair’ Ferguson process that resulted in no indictment Jian Ghomeshi’s $55M lawsuit against CBC being withdrawn Ottawa hackers drop affiliation with Anonymous; warn of more attacks – Rachel Spence, Law Clerk Visit our Toronto Law Office website: www.wiselaw.net Visit our website: www.wiselaw.net

. . . → Read More: Wise Law Blog: 140 Law – Legal Headlines for Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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General

UK watchdog rules that YouTube Oreo ads take the biscuit

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous

Some vloggers have made it big on YouTube, so it’s not surprising that advertisers want to tap into their burgeoning audiences. But rather than shell-out for a traditional pre-roll ad, they’re paying the stars themselves to film their commercials. Th…

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General

Snoop Dogg — My Son Hasn’t Picked College Yet … But USC Hurt Its Chances

Posted November 26, 2014 by TMZ Staff

Snoop tells TMZ Sports … his high school superstar son has NOT decided on where he’s gonna play his college football — but USC hurt its chances after the way the Trojans played against UCLA.  “He’ll make his decision … but like I’ll…

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General

Darren Wilson — Michael Brown Says I Was ‘Too Much of a Pussy to Shoot’

Posted November 26, 2014 by TMZ Staff

Darren Wilson says Michael Brown was goading him, saying he was “too much of a pussy to shoot me.”Wilson went through the events of the evening step-by-step … prompted by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos … who by the way showed he’s…

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General

Putin released a Siberian tiger into the wild — now it’s tormenting Chinese farmers

Posted November 26, 2014 by Vancouver Sun - News

Ustin the tiger, released by Putin in May, has farmers on edge after it bit and killed 15 goats and left three others missing in northeastern China

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General

Carol Todd on Bill C-13: “What Happened to Democracy?”

Posted November 26, 2014 by Michael Geist

The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights continues its study later today on Bill C-13, the cyber-bullying/lawful access bill that has already passed the House of Commons and seems certain to clear the Senate shortly. I appeared before the committee last week, but one person who will not appear is Carol Todd, the mother of cyber-bullying victim Amanda Todd. Ms. Todd wrote to me yesterday to express her dismay at the committee process with Conservative Senators mischaracterizing her views and the committee declining to offer her an invitation to appear, likely due to her criticisms of the privacy-related provisions in the bill.

Ms. Todd did appear before the House of Commons committee studying Bill C-13, telling Members of Parliament:

The post Carol Todd on Bill C-13: “What Happened to Democracy?” appeared first on Michael Geist.

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General

VIDEO: Vigils for Michael Brown held in Toronto, Ottawa

Posted November 26, 2014 by Vancouver Sun - News

Canadians showed Tuesday their solidarity with protesters in Ferguson over the grand jury decision in Michael Brown’s death

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General

Deepak Chopra: the spiritualist as technologist

Posted November 26, 2014 by Joseph Volpe

Deepak Chopra has an app. And that’s about the least of the famed spiritual guru/physician/alternative-medicine advocate/friend of Oprah’s technological ambitions….

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General

Mid-Week Round Up: November 26

Posted November 26, 2014 by Anonymous
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Illustration: Erin McPhee

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9, will not be indicted, meaning he will not be charged with any crime and will not have to stand trial. Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch (whose father was a police officer) cited inconsistent witness testimonies as the reason for the jury’s decision — a decision that is extremely rare.

Following the announcement of the decision, President Barack Obama made a statement calling for peaceful response on the side of both protesters and law enforcement. Despite relentless media portrayal of Ferguson protesters as “violent” and “looters,” most protests were peaceful demonstrations of resistance.

Yesterday protesters from Ferguson published an open letter on the grand jury decision writing:

“In Ferguson, a wound bleeds.

For 108 days, we have been in a state of prolonged and protracted grief. In that time, we have found community with one another, bonding together as family around the simple notion that our love for our community compels us to fight for our community. We have had no choice but to cling together in hope, faith, love, and indomitable determination to capture that ever-escaping reality of justice.”

More on the no-indictment decision and the following protests:

Jian Ghomeshi — perhaps shrewdly choosing a day when the media and public were distracted — has dropped his $55 million lawsuit against the CBC for breach of confidence and defamation. CBC fired Jian Ghomeshi in October over sexual assault allegations. Since his firing, 11 women and one man have accused him of sexual assault and harassment, three of whom have made formal accusations. He is currently under investigation by Toronto police and will have to pay the CBC $18,000 for their legal fees.

The Auditor General says he cannot verify whether Northern food subsidies are benefiting people living in Northern Canada, or merely Northern food retailers. Hunger is endemic in the North; in Nunavut, for example, seven in 10 families don’t have enough to eat for at least part of the year, and the territory has a 13.7 percent unemployment rate, significantly higher than Canada’s national average of about 7 percent. Most of Nunavut’s population identifies as Inuit, and colonialism has eroded their access to the foods they traditionally relied on. Nutrition North, the federal food subsidy program, was supposed to make healthy food less expensive for Northern residents, but it may not be working as intended.

This Is How Fat I Am is a new Tumblr where fat folks (see this post about reclaiming the word “fat”) can take charge of their own representation. Far from the “headless fatty so often seen accompanying media stories about weight, the people on This Is How Fat I Am are fully realized human beings, getting tattoos, climbing mountains and smiling with their loved ones. If you have a “story about your current relationship with your body,” submit!

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