17 IMAGES THAT PROVE WE LIVE IN A DYSTOPIAN HELL

17 IMAGES THAT PROVE WE LIVE IN A DYSTOPIAN HELL -

 

 

 


10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week

 

This column’s recent pledge to not cover US politics until after the midterms was sorely tested this week, not least thanks to some currently unknown idiot mailing pipe bombs to major political figures. We’ll be covering the Unabomber’s dumber brother along with a galaxy of other stories from across the globe—from the wondrous to the tragic to the flat-out weird.

Pipe Bombs Were Mailed to Prominent Democrats (Plus CNN)

Photo credit: qz.com

With the midterms coming up, language around US politics has recently turned so toxic that turning on the news has become like diving headfirst into an open sewer. This week, we finally saw the inevitable outcome of wall-to-wall coverage of people on both sides calling for harassment and violence toward their political opponents. On Wednesday, several pipe bombs were intercepted in the mail. Their targets were top-ranking Democrats and left-leaning media.

The bombs were addressed to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Representative Maxine Waters, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and ex–CIA director John Brennan. In addition, their return address was given as that of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resulting in one bomb making its way back to her office.[1]

The Brennan letter was also sent care of CNN, triggering an evacuation of CNN’s offices. This followed a similar bomb left at the address of liberal billionaire George Soros on Monday. It’s suspected that one addressed to Joe Biden got lost in the mail. Another was later discovered addressed to actor and vocal Democrat voter Robert De Niro.

Although none of the bombs detonated, investigators have said all of them were viable explosive devices. They came packed with shrapnel designed to cause maximum injuries.

So, this is the stage we’re at now. We’ve turned into a world of such pathetic snowflakes that many would rather kill someone they disagree with (or, more realistically, the staffers who would have opened the packages) than listen to what they have to say.

As this column said back in June 2017 when GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four other Republicans were badly injured in a partisan shooting during a baseball game, violent rhetoric breeds violent actions. Unless leaders in the media and Congress—plus ordinary people on social media—on both sides can learn to grow the hell up and stop characterizing their political opponents as evil, then dumb crap like this will keep happening.

And it’s only going to be a matter of time before one idiot bomber or gunman gets lucky. When that happens, good luck closing that Pandora’s box of revenge and death.

Update: A 56-year-old male suspect, currently identified as Cesar Sayoc, has been arrested in South Florida in connection with this domestic terrorism campaign. Although he has a Florida address, initial reports indicate that he has ties to New York City and has previous arrests for making terroristic threats. Some of the mail bomb packages were deemed to be too unstable for transport and were detonated by law enforcement authorities.

North And South Korea Began Removing Weapons From The DMZ

Photo credit: livemint.com

The demilitarized zone (DMZ) is the ironically named border between North and South Korea. Ironic because it’s a network of land mines, guard towers, snipers, and other things you don’t usually associate with the word “demilitarized.”

But maybe not for much longer. On Monday, Seoul and Pyongyang jointly announced that they would remove all firearms and severely reduce guard posts at the border village of Panmunjom. This follows a demining operation along the DMZ that began earlier this month. It marks a huge step forward in the North and South normalizing relations.

At barely a year old, this Korean thaw is still in its early days. But the positive signs just seem to keep piling up. The DMZ has been a heavily fortified corridor of death since the 1950s. That Pyongyang and Seoul are now reconnecting roads and rail lines across the border is a change that would have been unthinkable 365 days ago. We can only hope the good news keeps rolling in.[2]

Poland’s Local Elections Were A Disappointment For Everyone

Photo credit: economist.com

Just last week, this column covered how local elections in Germany’s Bavaria were awful for establishment parties but also a kick in the teeth for right-wing populists. On Sunday, voters in Poland went to the polls for local elections across their nation. You guessed it. The results kinda sucked for everyone.

The big difference between Poland and Germany is that the populists are already in power in Poland. Law and Justice (PiS) have ruled since 2015 and have spent that time rigging the judiciary, curtailing media freedom—and to be fair to them—also raising the standard of living for many Poles. With such total command over the levers of power, they were expected to win big. While they certainly won, there was nothing “big” about it.

PiS dominated among rural voters but fell spectacularly short in the cities. In Warsaw, their candidate didn’t even force the race to an expected runoff. Centrist Rafal Trzaskowski won handily in the first round, a major upset.[3]

Yet it wasn’t all good news for the anti-populist faction. The Civic Platform coalition did much better than expected but not well enough to potentially topple PiS in 2020. As we said, a disappointment all around.

Bosnia Confirmed The Indictment Of A Bosniak General For War Crimes

Photo credit: balkaninsight.com

Prior to April this year, former General Atif Dudakovic was best known for leading the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina after the end of the Bosnian civil war. At the end of that month, he was unexpectedly arrested by Bosnian authorities and charged with committing war crimes against Serbs during the civil war. This week, a Sarajevo court finally confirmed the indictment against him. Dudakovic will face trial on October 31.

The case is a big deal as Dudakovic is seen as a hero in many parts of Bosnia. He led the army’s Fifth Corps against Serbian separatists during the darkest days of the 1992–95 war, which killed over 100,000 people. Yet Dudakovic was long plagued by claims that he murdered Serbian civilians and ordered the destruction of Orthodox Serb churches. Prosecutors apparently think they can pin up to 300 unlawful deaths on him.[4]

Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception in parts of Bosnia and in Serbia that only Serb commanders have faced punishment for their roles in the civil war. By taking Dudakovic to trial, the Special Department for War Crimes is attempting to show that justice really is blind. We shall see if he’s convicted.

France’s Former President Moved Closer To Finally Being Put On Trial

Photo credit: aljazeera.com

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. On Thursday, France’s one-time president Nicolas Sarkozy lost an appeal to have an illegal campaign financing case against him dismissed. The court ruled that Sarkozy will have to face trial. While France still has one final court of appeal left for Sarkozy, it’s now looking increasingly likely that the flamboyant center-right politician will soon wind up in the dock.

In his heyday, Sarkozy was one of those politicians who seemed able to bounce back from any number of scandals. Prior to losing reelection in 2012, he’d survived revelations that could have toppled a lesser leader.

In 2012, however, the wheels came off. During the campaign, his PR firm Bygmalion allegedly broke campaign spending limits by almost double their set amount thanks to a fake invoicing system. Since the claims came to light, Sarkozy has appeared to be on a collision course with justice.[5]

On top of this, the former president is also facing separate charges of illegal influence plus accepting a jaw-dropping bribe from Muammar Gadhafi in 2007. Sarkozy denies all charges.

A Train Accident Led To Tragedy In India

Photo credit: thewire.in

It was one of those horrific accidents that you have trouble believing could actually happen. Last Friday night, a huge crowd gathered outside the Indian city of Amritsar to watch the annual burning of an effigy for the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Prior to the display, organizers had allegedly received permission from the local railway to use a train line as a seating area. The understanding was that any incoming trains would travel very slowly and honk multiple times.

Instead, a train came blasting through at full speed just as a fireworks display was creating so much noise that no one had a chance to hear it. The locomotive plowed through a crowd of people, killing at least 59 and leaving hundreds badly injured. Multiple children were among the dead.[6]

The case has caused an outcry in India along with a demand for answers. Police have opened a murder investigation, although nobody knows whom to blame. Some have suggested that the festival organizers didn’t get permission from the railway as they claimed they had.

We Launched Our Most Ambitious Mission To Mercury Yet

Photo credit: space.com

Good news, fans of interplanetary probes! We’re now about to learn more about the planet Mercury than we ever knew before. Very early on Saturday morning, a joint EU-Japanese mission launched from French Guiana and headed toward the innermost planet of our solar system. Known as BepiColombo, it contains two probes that will go into orbit around this baking world, giving us new insights into how our solar system was formed.

BepiColombo comes hot on the heels of NASA’s MESSENGER probe, which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015. Building on NASA’s discoveries, BepiColombo is expected to solve all sorts of outstanding mysteries about the little-known planet, including the possibility that it might have originally formed farther out in the solar system and been dragged in. It marks the most ambitious EU space project to date.

But first, it’ll have to get there. While you could get to Mercury in just a few months flying direct, you would then go whizzing past and crash into the massive ball of fire that is our Sun. BepiColombo is hoping to orbit Mercury long term, so it will take an extremely circuitous, time-consuming route to get there. As a result, it won’t be arriving until 2025.[7]

Massive Stock Market Falls Spooked The World

Photo credit: thegoldwater.com

It started with a Wall Street sell-off on Wednesday, which accelerated to a rout by closing time. By the time Asian markets began trading, it was a full-blown panic. Most stock markets plummeted at rates not seen for quite a while. At the time of this writing, it was looking as if all 2018 gains had been wiped out for the Dow and the S&P 500 while other markets were in near-turmoil.

In the US, the Nasdaq suffered its biggest single-day fall in over seven years. In Asia, South Korea’s Kospi opened at its lowest level since January 2017, and Japan’s Topix declined to its lowest level since September 2017.

China continued its dive deep into bear market territory, while Hong Kong entered its longest run of consecutive monthly falls since 1982. Other places weren’t immune. While European markets shuddered, London’s FTSE 100 slumped to a seven-month low.

So, what’s going on here? Worryingly, no one really knows. J.P. Morgan put out a statement trying to explain everything, but it basically boiled down to: “Ehh, could be China, could be the Fed, could be the strong dollar, could be people worrying that we’ve reached peak earnings, could be something else. Who knows?”[8]

Still, fear not. A new financial crisis is unlikely to happen. Not to mention, October is often a volatile month for the markets. Among the bruising market drops, we’re likely to see soaring, short-term rebounds. The experts are divided on where we go from here in the next few weeks. Still, most outlets are reporting that the markets will probably settle by the end of the year.

Afghans Finally Voted Beneath A Shadow Of Violence

Photo credit: The Independent

The elections on Saturday came a staggering three years late after continued violence and a renewed Taliban insurgency caused Afghanistan’s government to keep pushing them back. Held over two days, they marked the beginning of a new cycle in Afghanistan even as those brave enough to participate were nearly washed away in a bloody wave of violence.

As polls opened, the Taliban began a series of deadly attacks on polling stations, killing at least 78 people. At the same time, they began indiscriminate rocket assaults on various towns and orchestrated the kidnapping and execution of four election officials. Around the margins of this vicious onslaught, smaller-scale election violence took place, resulting in 470 people wounded. It was one of the bleakest days Afghanistan had faced for months.[9]

Still, people did come out and vote even as technical faults caused the election to be extended into Sunday. While we won’t know the results until mid-November, the election did mark the first vote completely run by Kabul since 2001. At the very least, that’s a step in the right direction.

The Murder Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Continued To Cause Chaos

Photo credit: stuff.co.nz

It’s been headline news for three weeks now. Ever since The Washington Postjournalist and Saudi Arabia native Jamal Khashoggi vanished inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, his apparent murder has gripped the world.

Partly, it’s been the gruesome nature of the crime. Apparently, Khashoggi was beaten and dismembered, his body parts dumped in the woods outside Turkey’s biggest city.

Partly, it’s been the way Saudi Arabia appeared to try to cover up his death, going so far as to employ a body double of Khashoggi as well as forcing the murdered man’s son to do a photo op with his presumed killer, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS).[10]

But mostly, it’s been the political nature of it all. This one bungled hit has the power to reshape Middle Eastern politics.

This week, Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, made a speech outlining Saudi involvement in the assassination. While he was treading very carefully, it was clear that he was deliberately angling to drive a wedge between King Salman and MBS. So far, that hasn’t happened. But if the US turns the screws, it’s conceivable that this murder will rob MBS of his future role of king.

If that happens . . . well, it could change the entire region. MBS’s reforms have been at the heart of putting Saudi Arabia in the driver’s seat of Middle Eastern Muslim nations, a position Turkey desperately craves. How will this big game shake out? No doubt we’ll be discussing it again in the coming months.

 


How Does Immigration Actually Affect A Country's Economy?

How Does Immigration Actually Affect A Country's Economy?

Does a nation fare better or does it suffer when outsiders enter the workforce?


'Boomer Porn' Is The Newest Meme Taking Jabs At Old People

'Boomer Porn' Is The Newest Meme Taking Jabs At Old People

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention or keeping score, but this war between generations has really been gaining some momentum recently. From food to foreign policy, it seems like nothing is safe from the no-man’s-land that the generational gap has become. It used to be that we were all united in one way at least–porn–but even that’s not safe anymore. That’s right, money shots fired!

 


10 Disastrously Distasteful And Grossly Bizarre Food Vendors That Broke The Law

10 Disastrously Distasteful And Grossly Bizarre Food Vendors That Broke The Law

 

From ancient Greece, where small fried fish were peddled, to Aztec marketplaces, where tamales, insects, and stews were a delicacy, ready-to-eat street food sold by vendors has been around for centuries. It’s still a staple of many cities today. Whether you want a hot dog, taco, or something more unique, there’s a food truck for that.

These days, many who have taken to the profession have indubitably experienced their share of ups and downs, predicated on a volatile economy and uncertain monetary prosperity. The following ten entries examine several unsavory street vendors who boiled over in events too bizarre and disgusting to comprehend or imagine prior to eating.

 

10 A Spicy Sriracha Shower

You never know when you might cross paths with an unhinged individual destined to ruin someone’s day. For Carlotta Washington, her run-in with Islam El Masry turned into a racist food fight after she attempted to pay for her lunch in quarters in June 2018. El Masry, the owner of Small Pharoah’s halal cart in Portland, Oregon, became so perturbed about Washington’s change that he responded in the only eloquent way he knew how: by calling her the “n-word,” a “stupid f—ing b—” and demanding that she “get the f— away” from his cart.

As if his romantic tirade wasn’t classy enough, El Masry took his fury a step further by and hurling a Gatorade bottle at her. Not long after that, he proceeded to douse Washington in sriracha. Numerous onlookers came to Washington’s defense as she sobbed in disbelief, covered in hot sauce. Three police officers arrived on scene a short time later and arrested the temperamental vendor on misdemeanor harassment and assault.

Incensed by the vendor’s demented actions, local residents began harassing the owner of an Egyptian food cart in downtown Portland the following day. The only problem was that it was a completely different individual with no association to the sriracha-wielding cook. Some 15 to 20 people holding signs shouted obscenities at Gharib Muhammad’s wife as she operated their food cart. One man staed, “I remember what you did yesterday.”[1]

9 ‘Can I Get A Large Coke?’


When approaching the food truck of Johnny B. Jones (aka “Big Dad”) in Springfield, Tennessee, one could order a burger and fries with a side of cocaine. It eventually became public knowledge that the beloved neighborhood cook was offering hot dogs along with the daily special, his infamous booger sugar. Booked into Robertson County jail on a six-count indictment in spring 2018, the 57-year-old could very well be trading in his apron for a fashionable orange jumpsuit.

Jones’s dire predicament began following a joint investigation by the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield Police Department’s narcotics division nearly a year prior to his arrest. It seems that arrogance was more of a factor than logic for the peddler, as detectives observed an innumerable amount of transactions at Big Dad’s stand, all while he turned famished frowns into smiles and, perhaps, rapid heartbeats. “It was a shock to us, what we found out,” said Detective Houston Evans. “I’m sure everyone else who heard about this is shocked, as well.”

The distinctive red and yellow truck that had become so loved by Springfield locals throughout the years is now a grim reminder of the growing drug problemthroughout their state. In a final twist of irony, Jones’s home-style cooking food truck was situated near one of the most laughable localities, a police station and sheriff’s office.[2]

 

8 Daily Specials

Photo credit: New York Post

A woman in Long Island was smoking more than just sausage when she converted her hot dog truck into a miniature brothel. In 2012, Catherine Scalia, 45, decided to expand her business by handing out suggestive cards titled “Strips-R-Us” and advertising a “topless cleaning service” and “one-on-one strips.”

Disgruntled and nauseated neighbors not privy to her marketing strategies eventually complained to authorities, stating, “In the summertime she’s out in her bra and panties. It’s disgusting. She’s filthy, she’s dirty. How could men take that?” In her own defense, the mother of four contentedly gloated about her professionalism and unyielding restraint when it comes to children, asserting, “I zip up when I see kids.” In spite of such morality, Scalia soon found herself inside a jail cell after offering one of her daily specials to an undercover police officer.

This was not the first time that her flesh-peddling ways led her to the slammer. Scalia was arrested eight years prior after performing sexual acts on her co-chef in the “captain’s chair” of the same hot dog truck. According to one local resident who observed several satisfied clients blissfully leave her establishment, “They seemed pretty happy. Now I can see why.” One can only hope that her proficiency in cleaning is as highly regarded as her “home cooking.”[3]

7 The Hot Dog Nazi


Michael Anderson of M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs in Anchorage, Alaska, garnered quite the reputation after serving up sizzling hot dogs with an attitude. Known as “the hot dog Nazi,” Anderson was infamous for his strict rules (such as refusal to serve anyone talking on a cell phone) and his tendency to lose his cool if customers dared to stray from his stringent regulations.

His bizarre tirades became endearing to local residents for nearly 20 years. That was until he was charged for unwanted sexual contact with a teenage employee in 2015. Ironically enough, the incident occurred near Anderson’s pushcart, situated in front of the old Federal Building, of all places. According to Anderson’s accuser, he coerced her with alcohol before touching her “down there.” In addition to his appalling advances, the 54-year-old vendor took a liking to gorging on marijuana brownies while on the job and washing it down with pints of vodka.

With several charges stacked against him and his reputation in shambles, Anderson killed himself in 2016, one day before he was set to go to trial. To date, the vacancy on the infamous corner he stood on for over two decades echoes a sobering memory of a troubled and wasted life.[4]

6 Virgin Boy Eggs

An unmistakable, pungent aroma reminiscent of a nursing home is what you can find permeating the streets of the Chinese city of Dongyang. As local residents flock to their neighborhood vendor, buckets of boys’ urine boil over as eggs are soaked and cooked in the fragrant yellow “broth.” The unique snack, popular for its “fresh and salty taste,” is a local tradition that has been passed down by ancestors for centuries. “Virgin boy eggs,” as they’re so eloquently named, are claimed to have remarkable health benefits. Gallons of piss are collected from primary schools and used as the main ingredient by egg vendors throughout the city.

Virgin boy eggs are not only served up on street corners but in residences as well. In those instances, the magical yellow liquid is personally collected by locals from nearby schools under the guise of a therapeutic appetizer. “If you eat this, you will not get heat stroke. These eggs cooked in urine are fragrant,” said egg vendor Ge Yaohua. “They are good for your health. Our family has them for every meal. In Dongyang, every family likes eating them.” Interestingly enough, government officials listed the nauseating treat as part of the city’s cultural heritage, ensuring its popularity and consumption for centuries to come.[5]

 

5 Satay Chicken

Photo credit: Animals Australia

“Satay chicken, not dog?” asked a skeptical tourist on a Bali beach after purchasing mystery meat from a vendor. “I’m happy just as long as it’s not dog,” the man said before he naively devoured poor Lassie. Sadly, such revolting grub is commonplace in Indonesia, where dogs are tortured prior to their slaughter for human consumption. An investigation led by Animals Australia found that vendors throughout Bali have been deceptively selling canine meat to unsuspecting tourists under the guise of chicken. “Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realising is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served,” Animals Australia’s campaign director Lyn White said.

In a place where dog meat is legal, hoards of unscrupulous vendors hunt, steal, beat, hang, or poison the canines in order to turn a quick profit. An unapologetic 83-year-old, for example, resorted to snatching an average of 12 dogs a week due to the fact that he could not find another source of income. After capturing his prey, be it an older dog or a puppy, the elderly man described bludgeoning the animals with a metal pipe in a nonchalant fashion without the slightest hint of remorse.

As grotesque as his method is, it is far more troublesome that countless vendors have been known to use cyanide as a means to kill. Dr. Andrew Dawson of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre stated that its use poses a significant threat, considering that, “Cyanide is not going to be destroyed by cooking. So there will be cyanide throughout the dog’s body. The actual risk depends upon how much poison is in the dog meat.” To date, no human deaths have been reported from the consumption of dog meat in Indonesia, yet. Time will tell.[6]

4 A Special Ingredient

Photo credit: Youngisthan

As if urine-soaked eggs weren’t stomach-churning enough, a 59-year-old paani puri vendor in India was arrested in 2011 for adding his own special flavor to his sauces. Naupada resident Ankita Rane, 19, began keeping a close eye on vendor Rajdev Lakhan Chauhan, who had a reputation for being “quite gross,” from the confines of her balcony. “We have seen him scratching himself or picking his nose if no one was around. I had always asked my friends to refrain from eating there, but they were so hooked to the taste that they rubbished whatever we said.”

That all changed, however, after Rane witnessed Chauhan urinating into his saucepans before blending his tangy delicacy into the paani puri mix or the neighborhood favorite, ragda. After several days of dousing his utensils with golden showers, the saucy street vendor was filmed in the act. The video was then shown to local residents. When neighbors in the area learned of Chauhan’s special ingredient, they surrounded his cart and took turns beating him up before dragging the devious urinator to the police station.

When questioned, Chauhan simply stated that he had nowhere else to pee and that urinating into the pans kept the residential streets of Bhaskar Colony clean. Despite his righteous intentions, police decided to detain Chauhan but were confused about what to charge him with: “In the end, all we could book him under was the Bombay Police act for urinating in public places.” Chauhan ultimately pleaded guilty and was fined 1,200 rupees before being let off with a warning.[7]

3 Turf Wars


In 2016, when ice cream man John Cierco pulled up to his “favorite spot” in New York City, a sense of ire pulsed through his veins upon finding a pretzel vendor encroaching on “his” corner. Moments later, the pretzel peddler was pummeled over the head with a baseball bat.

Such barbaric acts over turf become surprisingly commonplace when profit-oriented territory determines ones success. In spite of cities not dictating certain locations for food carts or trucks, unwritten rules have allowed vendors to virtually own particular spots for decades on end. This has spawned violent turf wars by established vendors, who see newcomers as competition in a desperate economy.

In 2012, bullets flew outside Yankee Stadium when 52-year-old Horace Coleman shot two competitors multiple times with a .357 magnum. According to witnesses, Coleman, known on the streets as “Ace,” had been at war over his sidewalk turf for quite some time. “They were trying to bully him out of his spot,” said Coleman’s friend Gracie Olivera; that is until the pistol-packing vendor—dressed in a pinstripe suit, a flamboyant derby hat, and gold-framed sunglasses—took matters into his own hands. “He didn’t say anything. He walked up, pulled out and started firing. Bang! Bang! Bang!”[8]

2 Human Tamales


Working on an anonymous tip in 2004, Mexican police raided the home of a tamale vendor suspected of having a dismembered corpse in his kitchen. Upon the discovery of carved-up body parts, detectives noted that the appetizing ingredients were in the process of being boiled on the stove with herbs and spices.

The homicidal vendor, who worked as a butcher for eight years, vehemently denied using human meat in the tamales that he sold from his cart. Nonetheless, police took it upon themselves to test the tamales for human remains as opposed to taking the word of a man halfway into the process of filleting a fresh cadaver. According to the resourceful chef, he killed the unidentified man in a drunken argument the day prior to seasoning him for lunch.

Following an analysis, police found no trace of human flesh in the food. However, police claimed to have found “other materials” and ingredients suggesting that the unorthodox cook was preparing to make a “new batch” of tamales while in the vicinity of his decomposing, edible victim, or soon-to-be cuisine.[9]

1 Tarek El-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi

Photo credit: The Express Tribune

The only vendor on this list worthy of accolades is Tarek el-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi, who, on December 17, 2010, set himself ablaze, igniting a revolution. Working as a vegetable seller in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, Bouazizi’s dream was to save enough money to purchase a food truck. Sadly, the 26-year-old’s hopes and aspirations came crashing down when a policewoman confiscated his unlicensed vegetable cart and his produce. To add insult to injury, the officer slapped Bouazizi, insulted his dead father, and spat in the scrawny vendor’s face.

After his complaints to local municipality officials fell on deaf ears, a humiliated and dejected Bouazizi doused himself with fuel in the town’s square and set himself on fire. As Bouazizi clung to life in the hospital, outrage erupted throughout the country over the high unemployment, corruption, and autocratic rule.

Following his death on January 4, 2011, Bouazizi became a legend, with his martyrdom symbolizing the people’s struggle for survival and how it has shaken despotic Arab governments in what many have referred to as the “people’s revolution.” In response to the growing protests, Tunisia’s President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia On January 14, 2011, bringing an end to his dictatorship after 23 years of power.[10]


Why Was Italy So Ineffective In WWII?

Why Was Italy So Ineffective In WWII?

 

Italy was unintentionally ahead of it's time when it came to memes.


Why Is Scandinavia So Expensive?

Why Is Scandinavia So Expensive?

Norway, Sweden and Denmark have some of the highest prices in the world — but also some of the happiest people. What's going on over there?


10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week -

 

 

This week was defined in many parts of the media with the hysterical buildup toward the UK royal wedding this Saturday, which will see US actress Meghan Markle officially become a British princess. Exciting times, no doubt. But while it dominated headlines in British and British-obsessed papers, the royal wedding wasn’t the only show in town this week. Even as the flags went up in London, the rest of the planet was up to its usual craziness.

10 Gaza Suffered Its Deadliest Day Since 2014

Photo credit: BBC

Let’s start with the most controversial story of all.

At the start of the week, three significant events took place in Israel. The first was the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state. The second was the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. The third was the huge Palestinian protests that accompanied the first two. It was this last one that would dominate headlines.

The protests had been building for weeks in Gaza, originally independently and then later egged on by Hamas. On Tuesday, they exploded into a violent storming of the Israel-Gaza border fence. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers reacted by opening fire. At least 52 Palestinians were killed and over 2,400 wounded in Gaza’s deadliest day since the end of the 2014 war.[1]

When the dust had settled, the main question was whether the IDF had acted with appropriate force. The UN, EU, Russia, and Turkey called it a massacre. The US backed Israel’s stance, calling it self-defense. Either way, it cast a pall over what should have been a week of celebration.

9 The North Korea Peace Process Wavered

Photo credit: indianexpress.com

The news coming out of North Korea has been unusually upbeat recently. After fielding a joint North-South team at the Olympics, Korean leaders Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in held an unprecedented meeting earlier this month.

Since then, the North has pledged to end nuclear testing and invited international media to see it dismantle its testing sites. A meeting between Kim Jong Un and US President Trump in June was meant to bring the DPRK in even further from the cold. This week, that was all put in jeopardy by national security adviser John Bolton.

Bolton is a hawk with a track record of annoying Pyongyang. (He nearly sent 2003 multilateral talks up in flames by calling Kim Jong Il a tyrant.) On a TV show this Sunday, Bolton said that the US would only ease sanctions after the North gave up its nukes, citing the examples of Libya and Iraq—two regimes which subsequently collapsed. Evidently, the North Koreans were watching.[2]

Following Bolton’s comments, a meeting between North and South Korea was abruptly canceled and the North threatened to terminate the Trump meeting. The president’s signature foreign policy achievement may now hang in the balance.

However, on Thursday, Trump contradicted Bolton. “The Libya model is not a model we have at all with North Korea,” the president said publicly. “With Kim Jong Un, he’d be there, running his country.”

8 Italy Prepared To Usher In A Radical New Government

Photo credit: ft.com

If they pull it off, it’ll be one of the deftest pieces of political footwork in recent history. On Thursday, Italy’s M5S (aka Five Star Movement) and League parties seemed on the verge of forming a coalition. Backed by over 50 percent of voters, they certainly have a mandate. The only problem is how utterly unsuited they are to one another.

Parallels are hard to draw. But if you imagine Bernie Sanders and the US Libertarian Party getting together with Pat Buchanan to form a government, you’ll at least grasp how nuts this is. M5S and the League are poles apart on everything except immigration (they want less of it) and the euro (really not that keen). As such, their joint manifesto is one of the most radical policy documents in years.[3]

At its heart is a flat 15 percent tax rate for all but the highest earners (a League policy) and universal basic income (an M5S policy). They also plan to renegotiate EU spending rules and splash hundreds of billions on giveaways. If they succeed, they could completely upend the way the EU is run. Given how little they have in common, that’s a big if.

7 Legalized Sports Betting Arrived Across The US

In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), effectively outlawing sports betting nationwide (with exemptions for a handful of states).

This Monday, the Supreme Court finally issued its long-awaited ruling on the act. To general surprise, they found that PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment, which restricts the federal government’s power to “commandeer” state laws or those who enact them. In other words, sports betting may now become legal across the US if all 50 states choose to make it so in their individual states.

In one sense, this isn’t such a big change. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans wager around $150 billion illegally on sports games each year. Other sources put the number at closer to $70 billion, which is still huge. For the record, none of the sources have a real handle on the size of illegal betting. They just know that Americans are doing it in a big way.

Even so, the legalization of betting could have a profound impact on how pro sports are played and how teams perform. Nearly every major sports league in the US had come out in favor of keeping PASPA.[4]

6 Burundi Teetered Toward Political Violence

Photo credit: aljazeera.com

Another week, another power grab by an autocrat. On Thursday, Burundi went to the polls to vote on whether to extend presidential term limits from five to seven years. The referendum is widely seen as an attempt by President Pierre Nkurunziza to cement his role as autocrat in chief. If Burundi votes “Yes,” he could stay in power until 2034.

Nkurunziza came to power in 2005 after a bruising ethnic civil war which saw Hutus and Tutsis slaughtering one another in an orgy of bloodshed. After serving his constitutionally allowed two terms, he ran again in 2015 on the basis that he wasn’t technically elected in 2005 (he was given the role by parliament) and thus his first term didn’t count.[5]

If this new referendum passes, Nkurunziza is hoping to argue that all three of his five-year terms didn’t count and he should get the chance at two new seven-year terms.

The 2015 poll was marred by extreme violence and the use of rape and torture to intimidate people into voting for Nkurunziza. There are fears that this referendum could spark yet another round of massacres.

5 A Mysterious Bombing Killed One In California

Photo credit: BBC

It’s not so long ago that the city of Austin, Texas, was gripped by a wave of mysterious bombings. Now it’s apparently California’s turn. On Tuesday, an explosion ripped through a day spa in Aliso Viejo, killing the owner and injuring two visitors. By Wednesday, the FBI was already saying they believed it was a deliberate bombing.

Details remains sketchy. But it seems that the bomb was delivered by a package addressed to Ildiko Krajnyak, the woman it killed. As to why anyone would want to blow up a day spa in a random town or kill the woman who owned it remains a mystery.

Tragic as the story is, it can only be hoped that the bombing was a one-off murder rather than the start of a new bombing spree.[6]

4 Scientists Claimed To Have Transferred Memories Among Snails

Photo credit: Genny Anderson

If you thought that the working of the mind was weird, wait until you read this entry. This week, it was reported that researchers at UCLA had managed to transfer memories among snails. Even weirder, they claimed to have done it by removing and injecting RNA. Not surprisingly, the results are insanely controversial.

To put it bluntly, snails are not the sharpest tools in the box. So their simple brains are great for testing basic theories. The UCLA study involved getting one group of snails to associate gentle prodding with electric shocks until they withdrew into their shells even when prodded with rods that had not been electrified. The team took some of their RNA and injected it into a control group of snails. These unshocked snails then began reacting to prods by withdrawing just as the shocked snails had.

The team says this shows that parts of memory can be held outside our brains in our RNA. In other words, they’d transferred the memory of the shocks from one snail to another.[7] Intriguing as this is, many experts are not yet convinced by their findings.

3 The Stormy Daniels Affair Rumbled On

Photo credit: usatoday.com

So, apparently, he did know.

After months of denials, President Trump finally filed his financial disclosure form for 2017 on Wednesday. It included a footnote stating that the president had reimbursed lawyer Michael Cohen for a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

When Daniels first came forward with claims that she’d been paid to keep quiet about a 2006 affair with Trump, the White House denied all knowledge. A few weeks back, it was claimed that Cohen had paid Daniels out of his own pocket without the president’s knowledge. Now the disclosure form shows that the president had reimbursed Cohen, suggesting that Trump was aware of the payment all along.[8]

The lack of disclosure could qualify as a breach of the law, although it may not be serious enough for any sort of investigation to take place. However, it does look as though this story will continue to give the White House headaches for some time yet.

2 Iraq’s Election Delivered A Stunning Anti-US Upset

Photo credit: The Atlantic

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must have felt that he was due some credit at the polls during Iraq’s election this Saturday. As the man who replaced the divisive Nouri al-Maliki and helped drive ISIS out of the country, al-Abadi should have been looking at a windfall.

Instead, voters didn’t just give him a kicking, knocking his party back into third place. They also handed the role of kingmaker to a former anti-US extremist who led an insurgency against American forces after the fall of Saddam.

Meet Moqtada al-Sadr, a guy who once made killing US soldiers a priority and is now heading up the largest postelection faction in parliament. While al-Sadr didn’t stand himself, it was his vision that pulled these disparate groups of independents, Communists, nationalists, and Sunnis together and turned them into an electoral force. How Iraq’s next government looks is largely up to him.[9]

Al-Sadr today is far less anti-American and violent than al-Sadr in 2006, but he’s still highly unpredictable. Even so, things could have turned out even worse for Washington. The second place finishers were a major pro-Iran Shia party.

1 Malaysia’s Ex-PM Was Raided In A Vast Corruption Probe

Photo credit: The Guardian

Just last week, we told you how 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad pulled off a stunning upset in Malaysia’s election by handing the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) party its first defeat in 60 years. With his new term as PM barely started (he previously held the office under the BN before defecting to the opposition), Mohamad is already turning Malaysian politics upside down. This week, the police raided the home of his predecessor, Najib Razak, as part of an investigation into the world’s biggest financial scandal.

The 1MDB scandal involved a government investment fund that Razak had set up as PM in 2009. Over $3 billion had vanished from the fund. The US unofficially believed that the money had found its way into Razak’s pockets, but a likely corrupt Malaysian investigation cleared him. When Mohamad won last week’s election, though, one of his first acts was to place Razak under house arrest and reopen the investigation.[10]

Just two weeks ago, the idea that Razak would be potentially facing jail for his corruption would have seemed like make-believe. Yet here we are. If this is how the post-BN age in Malaysia is looking during its first week, it’ll be fascinating to see what happens during the next few years.

 


The Guide To Being A “Man’s Man,” According To Goldman Sachs

The Guide To Being A “Man’s Man,” According To Goldman Sachs -

 

This is a photo of a handful of old school gentlemen and gals. It’s more or less what I think of when I imagine a “gentleman.”

Suit, smile, air of sophistication, and a pretty girl in hand. But that’s just me.

The fellas over at Goldman Sachs, one of the largest (and oldest) investment banks on the globe, threw together their own little guide to being “A man’s man.” Here is the guide.


It’s worth noting that this is written by fellas who probably sip champagne for breakfast and sleep on beds made of money, so, take it with a grain of salt.

Strive to be the best person you can be, that’s all it takes, right?

 


-Stop talking about where you went to college.

-Always carry cash. Keep some in your front pocket.

-Rebel from business casual. Burn your khakis and wear a suit or jeans.

-It’s ok to trade the possibility of your 80s and 90s for more guaranteed fun in your 20s and 30s.

-Never stay out after midnight three nights in a row… Unless something really good comes up on the third night.

-You will regret your tattoos.

-Never date an ex of your friend.

-Join Twitter; become your own curator of information.

-If riding the bus doesn’t incentivise you to improve your station in life, nothing will.

-Time is too short to do your own laundry.

-When the bartender asks, you should already know what you want to drink.

-If you perspire, wear a damn undershirt.

-Hookers aren’t cool, but remember, the free ones are a lot more expensive.

-When people don’t invite you to a party, you really shouldn’t go.
 And sometimes even when you are invited, you shouldn’t go.

-People are tired of you being the funny, drunk guy.

-When in doubt, always kiss the girl.

-Tip more than you should.

-You probably use your mobile phone too often and at the wrong moments.

-Buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you. And it tells these women you appreciate nice things and are responsible enough not to lose them.

-Do 50 push-ups, sit-ups, and dips before you shower each morning.

-Eat brunch with friends at least every other weekend.

-Leave Rusty and Junior at home.

-Be a regular at more than one bar.

-Act like you’ve been there before. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the end zone at the Super Bowl or on a private plane.

-A glass of wine or two with lunch will not ruin your day.

-Learn how to fly-fish.

-No selfies. Aspire to experience photo-worthy moments in the company of a beautiful woman.

-Own a handcrafted shotgun. It’s a beautiful thing.

-There’s always another level. Just be content knowing that you are still better off than most who have ever lived.

-You can get away with a lot more if you’re the one buying the drinks.

-Ask for a salad instead of fries.

-Don’t split a check.

-Pretty women who are unaccompanied want you to talk to them.

-When a bartender buys you a round, tip double.

-Be spontaneous.

-Find a Times New Roman in the streets and a Wingdings in the sheets. She exists.

-Piercings are liabilities in fights.

-Do not use an electric razor.

-Desserts are for women. Order one and pretend you don’t mind that she’s eating yours.

-Buy a tuxedo before you are 30. Stay that size.

-One girlfriend at a time is probably enough.

-#StopItWithTheHastags

-Your ties should be rolled and placed in a sectioned tie drawer.

-Measure yourself only against your previous self.

-Take more pictures. With a camera.

-Place-dropping is worse than-name dropping.

-Your clothes do not match. They go together.

-Yes, of course you have to buy her dinner.

-Staying angry is a waste of energy.

-If she expects the person you are 20% of the time, 100% of the time, then she doesn’t want you.

-Always bring a bottle of something to the party.

-Don’t use the word “closure” or ever expect it in real life.

-If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud clubs.

-Date women outside your social set. You’ll be surprised.

-If it’s got velvet ropes and lines, walk away unless you know someone.

-You cannot have a love affair with whiskey because whiskey will never love you back.

-If you believe in evolution, you should know something about how it works.

-No-one cares if you are offended, so stop it.

-Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.

-Eating out alone can be magnificent. Find a place where you can sit at the bar.

-Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain, and will make you more interesting at a dinner party — provided that you don’t initiate conversation with, “So, who are you reading…”

-Ignore the boos. They usually come from the cheap seats.

-Don’t ever say, “it is what it is.”

-Don’t gamble if losing $US100 is going to piss you off.

-Remember, “rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”


A Fascinating Take On Income Inequality In America

A Fascinating Take On Income Inequality In America

Atlantic writer Matthew Stewart argues that there is a portion of American aristocracy not getting enough attention: the 9.9%.


Men Should Work Less To Close Gender Pay Gap

Men Should Work Less To Close Gender Pay Gap

Men should work less and their employers and the government should help them to do so in order to close the gender pay gap, according to a thinktank.

A report from the IPPR says there is a gender pay gap in 80% of clearly defined occupations. “This points to seniority as a critical driver of the pay gap: for most occupations, men are in more senior, high-pay versions of the role than women,” said Catherine Colebrook, IPPR’s chief economist and co-author of the report, The State of Pay.

All companies with more than 250 employees were required to publish their gender pay gap for the first time in April, and the data showed that eight out of 10 companies paid women less on an average hourly basis than men.

The IPPR report says the majority of companies reported a gap that was smaller than their industry average, suggesting that even if the UK’s larger companies closed their gender pay gaps, a disparity would persist at a national level.

“What this report tells us is that firms are a big part of the solution to fixing the gender pay gap but they can’t do it on their own,” said Colebrook. “The solutions also have to come from individuals and from government. In short, men need to work fewer hours and women need to work more.”

Colebrook pointed to the “motherhood penalty”, by which the gender pay gap increases sharply after women take time out of work to have children and find their ability to progress in the workplace after returning is curtailed. According to research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies undertaken for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, by the time a first child has reached 20, mothers earn almost a third less per hour, on average, than similarly educated fathers.

The IPPR report argues that new ways of making sure women keep pace with their male counterparts on pay and seniority are needed. “Women are less likely to negotiate salaries when starting a new job and when in post, so employers could rule out the possibility of negotiation altogether or make sure all employees earn at least as much as any new recruit on the same level,” said Colebrook.

She said women were less likely to pursue promotions, and suggested employers could automatically consider employees for promotion after a given length of time in post, interview all internal candidates for vacancies, and encourage more women to apply for internal promotions.

Companies could also advertise that salaries were negotiable, offer successful candidates the option of a colleague to negotiate on their behalf, and match salary offers to make sure all employees on the same level earn as much as a new recruit.

More roles needed to be flexible, and more senior roles should to be offered as a job share, she added.

But changing the behaviour of fathers – for example, encouraging them to take shared parental leave and work part-time – was also needed, she said. The report states: “Employers should encourage more men to work flexibly and to take time out for caring responsibilities.”

Colebrook said: “Changing men’s working behaviour is a crucial component of equalising pay. Employers could offer paid paternity leave on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, make jobs flexible by default and encourage men to job-share.”

Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women’s Budget Group, said the report painted a depressing picture but highlighted what could be done differently. “Closing the pay gap is not just about employers. We all need to tackle the unequal distribution of care work, the gendered division of labour within the workforce and, ultimately, the type of work that we value and reward within society,” she said.

 

 


10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week

 

Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.

And what a week it was. As we trundled toward the midpoint in May, absolutely seismic change was underway. Over in Asia, an unexpected election shock triggered the kind of political earthquake usually associated with the suffix “-exit.” Meanwhile, in the home of Brexit, the government looked perilously close to changing its mind on the whole thing. More on both stories below, but first a quick look at the country gobbling up most headlines this week: Iran.

 

10 The Iran Nuclear Deal Went Kaboom

Photo credit: nationalreview.com

Be honest. You saw this coming, didn’t you?

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump formally pulled the US out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Not only did he end Washington’s involvement, but he also reinstated exceptionally harsh sanctions against the Islamic republic.

JCPOA was originally implemented by the Obama administration and aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. On the one hand, it seemed to be doing precisely that. On the other, Iran was continuing to act in extremely provocative ways in the region, even without nukes.

When the deal was reached in 2015, all parties knew that it wouldn’t eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Not realistically. Instead, the goal had morphed into increasing Iran’s breakout time for getting the materials to build a nuke—from a few months to at least one year. The hope was that Iran wouldn’t get a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years, but that wasn’t a sure thing. Iran has also insisted that no one is allowed to inspect their military sites.

The immediate consequences of the US withdrawal, though, were less about Iran and more about Europe. The reimposition of sanctions has put Washington on a direct collision course with its allies in Berlin, Paris, and London, where companies stand to lose billions in investments made since 2015. The EU now finds itself in the unlikely position of allying with China and Russia in an attempt to keep JCPOA alive.[1]

9 Iran And Israel May Have Decided To Go To War

Photo credit: reuters.com

Incredibly, the demise of the JCPOA wasn’t the biggest story involving Iran this week. That honor probably goes to the sudden ignition of hostilities between the Islamic republic and longtime foe Israel, who went toe to toe with one another in Syria.

The flare-up has been a long time coming. Over the past few months, Israel has become increasingly bold about targeting Iranian positions in Syria. In turn, Tehran has started flying armed drones into the Jewish state and amassing forces near the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. This Thursday, those forces launched a rocket attack on an Israeli base. Tel Aviv responded with one of its heaviest air strike campaigns in years.[2]

Hopefully, this was a minor flare-up that won’t escalate further. However, there is a chance that it could spark a full conflict between the two regional enemies or, at the very least, further complicate Syria’s already complex war.

 

8 Malaysia Chucked Out Its Ruling Party After 60 Years

Photo credit: BBC

Since the country gained independence in 1957, there has only been one party in Malaysian politics. The Barisan Nasional (BN) had won every single election ever held in the Asian nation, a winning streak fully everyone expected it to maintain after Wednesday’s vote.

Since you’re reading about it now, you can probably guess what happened next. BN lost. They couldn’t beat a 92-year-old man who used to be their leader.[3]

Mahathir Mohamad spent 22 years as prime minister of Malaysia—from 1981 to 2003. A couple of years ago, he caused shock waves in Kuala Lumpur by defecting to the perennial opposition party Pakatan Harapan (“Alliance of Hope”). Everyone thought that this was reputational suicide. Instead, PH romped home to victory on Wednesday. Mohamad’s gamble paid off. The nonagenarian will almost certainly be PM again, becoming the world’s oldest leader.

However, the deal is not yet done. As this column was being filed, reports emerged that the BN was trying to bribe opposition MPs to switch sides and deny PH a majority. Additionally, the king hinted that he would refuse to swear in Mohamad. Is Malaysia entering a period of renewal or one of crisis? We’re about to find out.

7 The Armenian Revolution Is Over, Long Live The Revolution!

Photo credit: aljazeera.com

Regular readers will know that this column has been following the events in Armenia for nearly a month now. For non-regulars, a quick recap: A few weeks back, Armenia’s longtime president, Serzh Sargsyan, stepped down and took up the post of prime minister after signing a bill passing all presidential powers to the PM. Armenians saw this as an unconstitutional power grab and took to the streets under the urging of opposition party leader Nikol Pashinian.

At the height of the protests, over a third of the population was marching. Sargsyan was forced to step down, and his party promised to make Pashinian Armenia’s new leader. Then they tried to backtrack, triggering protests that dwarfed anything so far seen.[4]

This week, Armenia’s bloodless revolution finally ended. Parliament voted to make Pashinian the new PM. Even Sargsyan’s party voted for him. For the first time in Armenia’s post-Soviet history, people power had created real change.

Already, Pashinian has promised to root out corruption and end Armenia’s addiction to nepotism and cronyism. It’ll be interesting to see if his promised political revolution can galvanize as much support as his actual one.

6 Uber Prepared To Launch A Flying Taxi Service

Photo credit: mashable.com

Uber has had a bad few months. It was rocked by scandal, beset by data leaks, and defeated in court battles across the globe. So what better way to distract the world than by unveiling something truly insane? On Tuesday, the taxi company revealed that they had partnered with NASA and the US Army to launch a flying taxi service.

That’s right. You could soon be getting to work via regular helicopter.

The timescale involved is more than a little eyebrow raising. Uber intends to be piloting this scheme in Dallas and Los Angeles by 2020, with the full service launching in 2023. Presumably, major cities everywhere will soon get fitted out with heliports.

There’s some suspicion that this might all be a backdoor way for Uber to move away from the taxi game and toward the ultra-lucrative world of defense contracting.[5]

 

5 Lava Erupted Over Hawaii’s Big Island

Photo credit: cbsnews.com

It wasn’t quite a full-blown disaster, but it was certainly dramatic. On Friday, the biggest quake in 43 years struck Hawaii’s Big Island as volcano Kilauea prepared for an eruption. On Saturday, the lava finally arrived, spewing out of two fissures in the island’s surface. Since then, the state has been inundated with slow-moving, destructive, and fiery-hot lava.

At the time of this writing, some 36 homes have been destroyed, sulfur gas has rendered entire neighborhoods uninhabitable, and acres of forest have been burned to the ground. For most of us, though, the defining images of this slow-motion near-disaster will be the sight of molten lava leisurely consuming cars sitting in driveways and on roadsides as their owners (presumably) wept nearby.[6]

As relatively non-destructive as Kilauea’s blowout has been so far, worries remain that it could get much worse. A steam eruption could rain chunks of heavy rock down on the island, or poisonous gases could escape the constantly opening fissures.

4 Britain’s Parliament Began Backpedaling On Brexit

Photo credit: reuters.com

It was the government’s 14th defeat on Brexit and easily the most significant thus far. On Tuesday, the House of Lords took an axe to Theresa May’s latest EU withdrawal bill. In a shock move, they inserted a clause requiring ministers to potentially negotiate to keep Britain in the European Economic Area (EEA) if a good Brexit deal can’t be reached. Such a move would effectively kill Brexit in all but name.[7]

The EEA unites the EU with a three-country association of Norway, Lichtenstein, and Iceland. It includes the single EU market but excludes some policies like fishing. Crucially, being a member requires both paying into the EU budget and accepting free movement of other EU citizens. In the EEA, the two major tenets of Brexit—no payments to the EU and an end to European immigration—would be impossible to enforce.

The vote was interesting as both the ruling Conservative and the opposition Labour parties officially support Brexit. The Lords were only able to include the EEA clause because over 80 Labour and nearly 20 Conservative peers rebelled.

3 Berlusconi Bowed Out Of Italian Politics

Photo credit: BBC

Remember that election Italy had like, oh, nine weeks ago? They’re still trying to form a working government after voters delivered no clear winner. At the time of this writing, it’s still unsure if the country is heading for fresh elections or for a grand coalition. But one thing may have finally tipped the balance in favor of coalition: the political demise of Silvio Berlusconi.[8]

The election split the country between the broadly left-wing, southern populist Five Star Movement and the broadly right-wing populist Northern League. Although both shared anti-EU and anti-immigrant sentiments, they were poles apart on other issues.

Specifically, the League had made an alliance with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia grouping. For Five Star, asking their voters to accept a coalition government with any role for Berlusconi would be like Donald Trump informing his base that he was bringing Hillary Clinton into the White House.

By this week, Berlusconi apparently saw the writing on the wall. He said that he wouldn’t direct Forza to vote against a Five Star–League grand coalition. Not only does his announcement pave the way for Italy to finally get a government, it will probably also act as Berlusconi’s political epitaph.

2 Ebola Exploded In Democratic Republic Of The Congo Again

Photo credit: sky.com

Well, it’s back. After a relatively quiet four years, Ebola once again exploded onto the stage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On Wednesday, the Health Ministry confirmed a new outbreak of the virus in the country’s Northeast. At the time of this writing, 17 people have already died.[9]

Although there was an outbreak last year, it only infected a total of eight people, half of whom died. For an Ebola case as deadly as this one, you have to go back to 2014 when a separate outbreak from the famous one in West Africa managed to leave 49 Congolese dead. While this year’s may not reach those bloody heights, it has already sent the town of Bikoro into a state of panic.

DRC is the country most frequently affected by Ebola. It has nine outbreaks in its history, the deadliest of which occurred in 1976. Spurred by the 2014 outbreak, neighboring countries are now enacting plans to stop the virus from crossing their borders.

1 Argentina Went To The IMF

Photo credit: The Guardian

In 2001, Argentina announced the largest debt default in world history at that time. Spurred by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country made a deal with a financial devil and unleashed a crisis on its own people. There were protests and riots. Governments collapsed. The middle class was nearly wiped out. When the dust finally settled, the IMF was heavily implicated in the catastrophe. For years, Buenos Aires refused to deal with the institution.

Which is why this week’s news caused such controversy in the Latin nation. President Mauricio Macri announced that he was seeking a $30 billion loan from the IMF to stop the peso from collapsing. For many Argentines, it was a reminder of their nation’s darkest days.[10]

The IMF’s loans always come with conditions attached. As we saw in Greece, these conditions—austerity and contracting the economy—are often necessary and nearly always unpopular. But while Athens managed to swallow its bitter pill, many Argentines still consider the IMF their archenemy. If the latest loan begins to even vaguely resemble the catastrophe at the turn of the century, expect a political earthquake.

 


We Should All Be Worried About Barnes & Noble

We Should All Be Worried About Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble is in real danger of disappearing, and that has David Leonhardt of the New York Times worried. This isn't just a case of a corporate giant being unable to keep up with the new age, he writes. It's the result of a misguided government policy about monopolies that goes back to the 1970s. Around then, the government view that all monopolies are evil began to shift; the new idea was that behemoths weren't bad as long as prices stayed low, and that policy has resulted in "leniency, under both parties, toward technology giants that have come to resemble monopolies." Amazon, and its impact on the book business, is a case in point. So what's wrong with the emphasis on low prices? Two things, writes Leonhardt.

First, "prices are not a broad enough measure of well-being," he writes. "If prices stay low but wages don't grow—which is, roughly, what's happened in recent decades—consumers aren't better off." Second, regulators focus on short-term prices and sometimes ignore what happens when one company conquers its rivals. (Amazon just raised the price of Prime.) Leonhardt likes Amazon as a consumer, "but I am also starting to wake up to the deep problems created by corporate behemoths." Specifically, "they have the power to hold down wages, avoid taxes, squash competition, and produce a less vigorous economy." He's holding out hope that the government once again takes a dim view toward them, and he's rooting for Barnes & Noble in the meantime. Click for the full column.


How Blockchain Is Already Taking Over The World

How Blockchain Is Already Taking Over The World

That's amazing, the block chain is touching almost every aspect of life. Which means it's benefits are going to reach everyone irrespective of socioeconomic status. Technology should reach everyone and block chain technology is one of those.


What Really Separates The Rich From The Poor

What Really Separates The Rich From The Poor

Here’s the only thing that truly matters if you want to succeed with anything - provide results and be valuable. Results is the only thing people care about and if you fail to deliver results you will never make it.

So if you develop these 8 traits you will be far better off when it comes to providing results.

Trait 1. The rich pay themselves first.

Trait 2. The rich base their decisions on long term rewards rather than instant gratification.

Trait 3. Rich people have several sources of income.

Trait 4. Rich people continuously invest in themselves.


The 15 Dumbest 'The Problem With Millennials" Complaints You'll Ever Read

The 15 Dumbest 'The Problem With Millennials" Complaints You'll Ever Read

It's no secret that baby boomers love to shit all over millennials for being lazy, entitled snowflakes who masturbate into avocados and are the demise of their precious neigborhood TGIFriday's.

Sorry to break it to you crusty old fucks, but millennials aren't lazy, it's just not 1952 anymore and houses don't cost twenty bucks and a crew cut.

We're expected to go into debt paying for insanely inflated college tuitions while holding a full time job and buying our first house for our family of 5 at the age of nineteen just like Pop-Pop did!

But fuck you Pop-Pop for bankrupting the country fourty years ago by spending money on yourself with no thought to the cost of future generations.

In summation, any time a Baby Boomer starts spouting any of this bullshit, just throw an avocado at them.

https://twitter.com/ahoybailey/status/634974303927332864

1. Macabalony:

I am a student dentist. Had a baby boomer patient say that my generation of doctors relied to heavily on technology. This was in response to me looking up their medication on my iPad.

2. justhereforthepupper:

Literal conversation I had with a friend once.

"I don't understand, if school is so expensive why don't you get a job that will help you pay for it? Everyone's hiring!"

Yes, Carol. They're hiring at minimum wage 20 hours a week. That doesn't cover rent, let alone an education.

3. Ganglebot:

My old boss had three sons my age (early-mid twenties at the time) who didn't go to college and just worked part-time jobs and fucked around all day on their parent's dime. She attributed that to the Millennial generation.

She went on one day about how millennials just can't get out of bed and do work. They are opposed to do anything but play video games all day and get drunk at night with their friends.

I said, "Well, some maybe, but everyone I know is working full time on a career track"

She lost it. Made some vague threats about me being useless and how I should be thankful to have this job based on my abilities. 20 minutes later I was showing her how to copy and paste documents onto a flashdrive for the 10th time.

4. DamnDialectics:

I am personally a fan of the complaints about Millennials being too incompetent to get a job, especially when it's coming from a person who has stubbornly held onto a position well past retirement age with an irrelevant, outdated skill set that would not get them hired if they were searching now. How long am I going to have to contend with superiors who can't figure out Microsoft Office?

5. fusionx_18:

They can talk about their struggles, but we're not allowed to talk about ours

6. SolipsisticRunt:

That we received participation trophies. We didn't ask for them. They were given to us by the very generation complaining about it. Most of us threw them away and thought it was dumb to even hand them out. Why not spend that money on snacks or something? I, for one, would have been happier with orange slices or a cookie rather than a ribbon that basically said "you existed here today!" It's not like we weren't aware we didn't win. We still had to learn good sportsmanship and not be a sore loser or a sore winner.

Then there's the work ethic complaint. I used to work with a guy that would complain about millennials and our desire to feel appreciated at work and how coddled and emotional we were. In the time we worked together, the only person I ever saw throw a temper tantrum or refuse to do something, was him. He would fly off in a rage and break things if something didn't go his way.

7. UnraveledMnd:

I'm always thoroughly annoyed by the "millennials are lazy" complaint that Boomers have. I've been called lazy and a free loader by so many people because I still live at home with my parents.

What they fail to realize is that I'm neither. I live with my parents because I don't have a family of my own yet and my parents would be royally fucked if I wasn't living there. I make more than my father does. I pay rent. I own and pay the insurance for the car that gets me to work, my father to work, my brother to work, and until recently my SIL to work (she lost her job). It also gets my mom back and forth to wherever she needs to go (groceries, etc) and was responsible for getting my grandmother to her doctors appointments prior to her passing.

I paid to replace the septic tank at our house. I paid for a new refrigerator, stove, washer, and drier when ours died. I paid to have our in shambles bathroom repaired. It's to the point that my parents have offered to put my name on the house as well.

I stay with my family because I don't need to be on my own, and I love my family and don't want to see them struggle financially if I can help it. It just makes sense for us to stay together for now.

But yeah, what a fucking freeloader I am.

8. Gypsiee:

The one I always found weird was how we are "killing the diamond industry". And why this is so bad.

Are we supposed to feel bad for not supporting one of the most blood-soaked monopolies in the history of the planet, which sells, literally, shiny rocks?

 

https://twitter.com/CowlonFullerton/status/748670936069476353

 

9. seeyasuburbia:

That we're "killing" the chain restaurant industry. My boyfriend and I don't eat out that much so, if we are going to spend the money to sit down somewhere and eat, we want to go somewhere that has good, original food. Also, isn't it the industry's fault for not keeping up with their new market?

10. piperBOMBASTIC:

They call you disrespectful when you won't let them disrespect you.

11. mrvectorabd:

Millennial are somehow both too sensitive and over-exposed to lewd and/or violent movies, shows, video games.

12. Primalacarne:

I was touring an apartment and the landlord apologized that there was no cable hookup. I told him that was no problem - I don't really watch tv anyway.

His whole demeanor changed and he just grumbled "guess that's another thing you millennials don't do."

And on that day I learned that people will complain about literally anything.

 

https://twitter.com/talzir/status/576919055841394689

 

13. DarthPandaBear:

That we don't buy silver flatware because we're too lazy to polish it, don't want to buy the stupid knick-knacks that they/their parents bought, etc. I work in the antiques field so I hear that a lot. They always quote that statistic that we want to spend our money on experiences rather than things and I fail to see how that is a bad thing.

14. LosGalacticosStars:

I think the worst one was a post where an older lady was saying that we were so impolite to say "No problem" when someone says thank you. Instead of saying " You're Welcome".

15. BringTheNoise92:

"Millennials think the world owes them something and are always expecting a handout!" I work in social media for a food company. The only people who message and email us asking for free samples and products are firmly aged 40+.

 

https://twitter.com/kashanacauley/status/726401439443079169


These Are The 10 Best Jobs In The US

These Are The 10 Best Jobs In The US -

 

 

Tech jobs dominated Indeed.com's 2017 list of the best careers in the US, but this year other industries are jumping into some of the top spots—of the top 25 jobs, 16 are ones that did not appear on last year's list. Construction, in particular, is having a moment: Some construction roles jumped into the top 25 for the first time, while others saw their placement on the list rocket higher in 2018. Commercial project manager, for example, jumped from No. 19 last year to the top spot this year. As Fortune explains, commercial project managers are responsible for developing and overseeing commercial projects and contracts; the position saw 277% growth in job postings between 2014 and 2017. Indeed.com takes growth percentage into account as well as salary (jobs on the list must have an average base salary of at least $75,000). The top 10 on this year's list along with their average base salaries:

 
  1. Commercial project manager, $81,023
  2. Full stack developer, $111,640
  3. Computer vision engineer, $131,297
  4. Machine learning engineer, $136,241
  5. Preconstruction manager, $95,337
  6. Construction superintendent, $85,170
  7. Optometrist, $131,692
  8. Data scientist, $132,915
  9. Chief estimator, $116,848
  10. Development operations engineer, $125,714

"While [tech] roles are still at the top of our list, it is interesting to see a strong showing by construction jobs that were completely absent last year, like pre-construction manager, which jumped straight to the top five," says an Indeed VP, per Time. Click for the complete list.

 

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week -

 

Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories.

The big story this week was the continuing fallout from the likely Russian assassination attempt in Britain last Sunday. As London made threats, Moscow laughed, underlining that we may now be entering a new and unpredictable Cold War (or possibly a hot one). We’ll give you the lowdown on all the possible ramifications below, along with a look at the rest of the week’s generally less terrifying news.

10 Russia And The UK Prepared To Go Toe To Toe

Photo credit: BBC

Novichok. That’s the name of the deadly nerve agent used against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last Sunday—the first nerve gas attack in Europe since World War II. The attack took place in a sleepy part of Britain’s West Country. It left both victims in the hospital in critical condition along with a policeman who was injured attending to them.

Novichok was produced by the Soviet Union and later inherited by Russia. The fact that it was used in the UK attack would be bad news for Moscow even if the Kremlin had responded by claiming the nerve agent was stolen. Instead, Russian diplomats in Britain indulged in a nudge-wink series of denials and sarcastic tweets. Theresa May’s government concluded that the blame must lie solely with Putin.[1]

London has now expelled 23 Russian diplomats in what looks set to become a major international incident. Moscow has promised to retaliate, and the Russian ambassador to the UN has even blamed British spies for the poisoning. There is now real potential for this to spin out of control. It may be that the Cold War era has finally returned.

9 London Announced An Inquiry Into 14 Russia-Linked Deaths

Photo credit: The Guardian

Continuing with the feeling that scary events are underway, British home secretary Amber Rudd announced this week an inquiry into the previously closed deaths of 14 people on UK soil, all of whom had links to Russia. Former Met commissioner Ian Blair raised the alarm on Tuesday that the Kremlin may have systematically been offing dissidents and anti-Putin exiles in Britain.

On the list are likely to be Boris Berezovsky, a leading Putin critic and friend of poisoned defector Alexander Litvinenko, who was found hanged in suspicious circumstances in 2013. He is likely to be joined by Nikolai Glushkov, whose death on Monday is already being investigated by UK counterterrorism police. Should it turn out that the Kremlin has been killing exiles with impunity, things could turn ugly.[2]

The UK is a member of NATO. Article 5 of the defense treaty states that an attack on one is an attack on all. Were the UK to activate Article 5 in the face of Russian aggression, everyone from France to the US to Germany to Canada would be obliged to get involved.

8 The US Secretary Of State Was Fired

Photo credit: nationalinterest.org

While London was in turmoil, Washington was collapsing into its usual chaos as the government lost yet another high-ranking official. On Tuesday, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via tweet, replacing him with CIA director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson now joins an ignominious list of former secretaries of state who barely lasted out the one-year mark.

Tillerson’s firing came shortly after he condemned Russia for the UK nerve gas attack, but it seems unlikely the two were related (despite what the press might tell you). Tillerson has been at loggerheads with Trump for months. The two showed open contempt for one another. Tillerson’s replacement, Pompeo, is also no Putin fan, having called Russia a “major threat” to the US. Hardly the statement of a Kremlin stooge.[3]

Tillerson’s record at the State Department was dismal, to say the least. He can list no significant achievements, bar presiding over a collapse of morale. Whether Pompeo—a notorious hawk on most issues—can improve things remains to be seen.

7 We Lost The Greatest Mind In A Generation

Photo credit: ndtv.com

It’s a testament to the incredible strength of Stephen Hawking that we’re not writing this obituary some 50 years ago. As a young man, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and given a handful of years to live. This week, over half a century later, he finally died, having revolutionized physics in the meantime. To call him a hero would be an understatement.

Hawking’s achievements were remarkable. After he lost the use of his hands, he’s said to have developed a greater ability than anyone else in history to imagine complex topological images in his head for solving equations. He upended our ideas on black holes and the formation of galaxies.

He was one of the first to link Einstein’s work with that of quantum physics, giving us a whole new way of seeing the universe. Plus, he totally bossed every single pop culture appearance he made—from The Simpsons to The Big Bang Theory.[4]

Hawking’s death marks the passing of one of the finest minds modern humanity has produced. Suddenly, the universe seems a whole lot smaller.

6 A New Unabomber May Have Come To Texas

Photo credit: reuters.com

For two decades, Ted Kaczynski spread fear through America with his parcel bombings, killing three and injuring 23. Now, almost 20 years after the Unabomber was jailed, his ideological cousin may have come to Austin. This week, two parcel bombs exploded at houses in the city, killing a teenager and injuring two women. They followed a similar bombing on March 2 that killed a man.

The identity of the victims has led some to suggest that the bombings could be a serial hate crime. Both of the dead and one of the injured were African-American, while the other injured was Latina. At present, police in Austin are being very careful about not directly linking the crimes.[5]

However, the evidence is already there. All three bombs were delivered at night by hand and left outside people’s doors. Experts have said all three bombs had similar designs.

If this is a case of domestic terrorism, it may be a while yet before anyone is caught. Kaczynski spent almost 20 years on the run.

5 A Former Guerrilla Became The Presidential Candidate Of Colombia’s Left

Photo credit: ft.com

In the 1980s, M-19 was Colombia’s second biggest rebel group after FARC. They were notorious for the Palace of Justice siege, in which nearly 100 people died. They were alleged to have ties to Pablo Escobar and committed kidnappings, murders, and robberies. And, this week, one of their former leaders became the favorite to win Colombia’s presidential race.

Gustav Petro was actively involved with M-19, becoming part of the central region leadership. He had been jailed by the time of the Palace of Justice siege and was instrumental in encouraging the group’s disarmament. But it’s long been alleged that he had ties to murky crimes and what was effectively terrorism.

On Sunday, he won a primary to become the official presidential candidate of Colombia’s mainstream left. Unless there’s an upset, he’ll face right-wing senator Ivan Duque in July, a matchup Petro is tipped to win.[6]

Petro’s previous term in office as mayor of Bogota was beset by corruption scandals and a recall vote which he badly lost. How the world will react if he becomes Colombian president is anyone’s guess.

4 Slovakia Saw Its Biggest Protests Since The Fall Of Communism

Photo credit: dw.com

If you were in Bratislava last Friday, you would have witnessed the biggest protest that pint-sized Slovakia has seen since the fall of Communism. Over 50,000 people took to the streets, demanding an end to government corruption following the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, allegedly at the hands of the Italian Mafia. The protests were just the latest in a series of shock waves that have hit the Slovak government since the murder.[7]

Kuciak was killed shortly before he could publish a story alleging high-level government ties to the ‘Ndrangheta. His death was the first murder of a Slovak journalist since independence and triggered an outpouring of grief across the country. Three government ministers were forced to resign, and police quickly arrested seven Italians whom Kuciak had named in his article.

However, their subsequent release without charge was like throwing gas onto the fire of public anger. As a result of these mass protests, interior minister Robert Kalinak has resigned and the future of Prime Minister Robert Fico hangs in the balance.

Are people angry enough for Kuciak’s killers to actually be brought to justice? Only time will tell.

3 The Senate Voted To Partially Repeal The Dodd-Frank Act From The Financial Crisis Era

As the last tremors of the financial crisis of 2008 fade away, there have been slow moves across the globe to ease some of the strict banking rules implemented in its wake. One of the biggest came this week as the US Senate voted to partially repeal the Dodd-Frank Act.

Designed in 2010 to stop another financial meltdown, the act forced banks of all sizes to adhere to strict financial controls. If it passes the House, the Senate bill would roll back most of those controls for small and medium-sized lenders.

Supporters of the move say the act has been strangling growth by placing onerous regulations on small community lenders. Opponents say the Dodd-Frank Act has given consumers greater protections and given us all a far sturdier financial system.[8]

If the bill clears the House, it will be the strongest signal yet that policymakers consider the financial crisis era over.  But these things are not eras or ages, but cycles.

2 Africa May Be About To Lose Its Only Female Leader

Photo credit: BBC

Mauritian president Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is the only female head of state in the whole of Africa. That may soon change and not because some charismatic woman is poised to win an election.

Last week, the tiny island nation saw Gurib-Fakim’s office embroiled in a corruption scandal relating to personal purchases using charity money. On Monday, it was announced that she would resign. The tenure of the last woman leader in Africa was over.

Or was it? On Wednesday, the story took a strange turn when an embattled Gurib-Fakim appeared in public to declare that she would not step down and would instead fight the allegations.[9]

What happens now is anyone’s guess. Gurib-Fakim is reasonably popular and feted abroad. However, she also has shady ties to the allegedly ultra-corrupt Angolan businessman Alvaro Sobrinho and is accused of using her influence to try to get him off fraud charges.

1 Pennsylvania’s Special Election Went Down To The Wire

Photo credit: post-gazette.com

Twenty points. That’s the number by which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional district in 2016. During this week’s special election, GOP candidate Rick Saccone tried to pull off the same feat.

He called himself “Trump before Trump.” He hit talking points that resonated in Pennsylvania in 2016. For Pete’s sake, he was running in a district that’s been considered deep red since the early 2000s.

Yet, a strong win was the last thing that Saccone pulled off. At the time of this writing, the race remains too close to call, but Democratic candidate Conor Lamb is leading by over 600 votes. Several networks have already called a Democratic victory.

As FiveThirtyEight points out, even if Saccone squeaks over the line, it’s still worrying for his party. Democrats have overperformed in every special election this cycle by an average of 17 points. If that advantage were replicated in the upcoming November midterms, it could spell disaster for the Republicans.[10]

Still, that may not happen. Lamb, like Doug Jones in Alabama, ran on an avowedly centrist platform, ditching standard Democratic talking points for more moderate ones. Instead of campaigning for his party, Lamb ran for the people of his district: pro-gun, pro-tariff, pro-union, pro-religion and antiabortion (though he said he wouldn’t impose his views through legislation), anti–Nancy Pelosi, anti cuts to Social Security and Medicare, pro-Dreamers, and pro–border security.

As a new politician, he doesn’t have a voting record to bash and he was smart enough to deliberately avoid national media interviews. He repeatedly stressed that he wants to work with both parties to get legislation passed. He stayed away from anti-Trump statements and liberal Democratic PACs.

Meanwhile, Republican groups for Saccone barraged the district airways with ads linking Lamb to Nancy Pelosi. People in the 18th district don’t really care about Pelosi. The ads rarely mentioned Saccone, so they gave the unknown young Lamb a lot of name recognition for free. (However, Lamb does come from a local political family. For example, his uncle, Michael Lamb, is Pittsburgh’s city controller.)

Interestingly, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the 18th. But there was a lot of anti-Hillary sentiment there during the 2016 presidential election. Not from Russia. From local Democrats, including liberal Democrats. Meaning the voters, not the politicians. Nobody was listening . . . until Conor Lamb.

Finally, Lamb is expected to lose the job in about six months. Pennsylvania is redistricting, and the 18th Congressional district is likely to disappear. Some pundits believe that Saccone is probably assured of victory in his new district. Lamb will face more competition in his. For now, Lamb deserves to bask in his almost or soon-to-be win. But it begs the question: Would his upset victory spell trouble for the GOP . . . or does it signal nothing at all?


How A Steel Box Changed The World

How A Steel Box Changed The World

 

As the container shipping industry continues to boom, companies are adopting new technologies to move cargo faster and shifting to crewless ships. But it’s not all been smooth sailing and the future will see fewer players stay above water.

 


Tobacco Giant Says It Wants To Give Up Cigarettes

Tobacco Giant Says It Wants To Give Up Cigarettes

Philip Morris International has made a dramatic New Year’s resolution: “We’re trying to give up cigarettes.”

The company, which makes Marlboro, L&M and Chesterfield brands among others, took out ads in newspapers in the United Kingdom that said its ambition for the new year is to build a smoke-free future and eventually stop selling cigarettes.

The ambition described on the company's website is to help people quit smoking traditional cigarettes and replace them with alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

The company claims the alternatives are less harmful.

The World Health Organization has refused to partner with The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World which is funded by Philip Morris International. "The tobacco industry and its front groups have misled the public about the risks associated with other tobacco products," the World Health Organizations said in a September 2017 statement.

 


12 Memes Roasting the Ol' US Of A

12 Memes Roasting the Ol' US Of A

 

 

 


Financial Experts Make 5 Predictions For 2018

Financial Experts Make 5 Predictions For 2018

It's that time of year when financial experts are asked to dust off their crystal balls and tea leaves and offer up their predictions for the economy in 2018. At Yahoo Finance, David Nelson warns that the problem with these predictions is that experts tend to extrapolate, i.e., believing a healthy market will continue to be healthy, and vice versa. That said, he admits he falls "into that same camp as many extrapolating 2017 a very good year into the next. ... Strength in overseas markets means our customers are doing well and that's great news for US multinationals." We round up five predictions from Fortune and WalletHub, which notes its last six years of predictions have been relatively prescient, with an average GPA of 3.56.

  • GDP growth can't get to Trump's 6%—or even 3%: The former figure is one President Trump suggested could happen in the wake of tax reform, per WalletHub, but both that site and Fortune expect things to remain in line with what the Fed is predicting for 2018: 2.5% year-over-year growth. That's what's projected for 2017, which is up from 1.6% in 2016.

  • Three rate hikes from the Fed, with consequences: The federal funds rate hasn't been above 2% since the 2008 financial crisis, and that'll change in 2018, with experts predicting three rate hikes that'll put the end-of-year rate at 2.25%. WalletHub notes each quarter-point increase translates into an estimated extra $1.4 billion in credit card interest each year; it also reports delinquency rates are climbing: "A third rate hike in 2018 could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back."

 

  • Unemployment rates last seen in the late 1960s: We were at 4.1% in November, and the Fed expects us to get to 3.9% next year. WalletHub heard much the same from its experts, with one saying 3.5%—and the lowest unemployment rate since 1969—is possible.

 

  • US IPO increase: Fortune notes that 2016 wasn't anything to write home about in terms of "domestic IPO proceeds," which came in at $16.2 billion. That's expected to more than double to a hair under $40 billion this year. But with another strong year for stocks expected (see No. 5), it quotes one prediction for 2018: $70.9 billion.

 

  • The S&P 500 will end the year up 6%: WalletHub reports that the Dec. 15 close of 2,676 puts the S&P 500 up nearly 20% for the year, but experts think the potential combination of tax reform, relatively low interest rates, robust corporate earnings, and low bond prices have the potential to send it above 2,900, with eight big banks targeting an average close for 2018 of 2,838.

Read all the predictions from WalletHub here and Fortune here.


What It's Like To Be Absolutely Obsessed With Bitcoin

What It's Like To Be Absolutely Obsessed With Bitcoin

Over the past year, the price of a Bitcoin has skyrocketed from less than $800 to nearly $20,000 — a meteoric rise that financial insiders say is no different than the escalating cost of a tulip in seventeenth-century Amsterdam.

 


The Real Reason American Health Care Is So Expensive

The Real Reason American Health Care Is So Expensive

Hint: single-payer won’t fix America’s health care spending.


10 Reasons Why Bitcoin Will Fail

10 Reasons Why Bitcoin Will Fail

 

For people outside of the complex and exciting world of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin can be hard to understand. Many have brushed it off for years, saying that it was a fad that would disappear as quickly as the value of Beanie Babies. However, with the price spiking in the thousands of dollars for a single Bitcoin, naysayers are suddenly singing a different tune. Newcomers are dumping their money into Bitcoin, hoping that the price will only continue to grow.

Many old-school investors who haven’t done their research will simply say it’s in an economic bubble and call it a day. But the reasons why Bitcoin cannot succeed in the long run go so much deeper than that. Just like any other speculative asset, no one really knows what is going to happen in the future. However, when one looks at the big picture, it becomes clear that Bitcoin will struggle to survive.

10 Blockchain > Bitcoin


The most valuable thing about Bitcoin is that it introduced blockchain technology to the world. Blockchain technology drastically improves the speed, privacy, and security of sending money. Bitcoin can be sent from one person to another without a middleman, and it encrypts everyone’s identity to a long string of letters and numbers called a “wallet.” Blockchain is a big deal. Its potential to change technology is as big as the Internet. At the moment, the world of blockchain is young and exciting, like the Wild West of the digital world.

However, even though Bitcoin was the first to introduce blockchain to the world, it’s not necessary for blockchain to exist. Sort of like if one web page goes down, the Internet still exists. Most people never saw the very first website that was ever created. It was a blank white page that was titled “World Wide Web” and a list of text links. That’s it.[1] No one could have ever imagined that that seemingly unimpressive page would evolve into what has now become what the Internet is today. There are already bigger, better, and faster versions of blockchain that made improvements on the original Bitcoin, like Ethereum and Ripple. Both of these coins, or “cryptocurrencies,” are already available on the market.

9 Big Brother Is Watching


One of the biggest benefits of Bitcoin it that it is supposed to be private, secure, and untraceable. Obviously, this was a huge benefit for criminals on the Dark Web. Cryptocurrency got a really bad reputation once news broke that Bitcoin was being used to send money anonymously on the drug trafficking website Silk Road.

The appeal that a lot of Americans see in Bitcoin is that they believe they can avoid paying taxes to the IRS, which is also a crime. It’s tax evasion. In 2013, 44 percent of the Bitcoin supply belonged to people who identify as Libertarian. Today, the market has way more newcomers, so the percentage of Libertarians is much smaller as more casual people join to invest in hopes of getting rich, rather than trying to start a revolution.

What casual Bitcoin users don’t seem to understand is that even though their name is protected as a string of numbers and letters on the public ledger, that doesn’t mean they are fully anonymous. Most Bitcoin exchanges like Coinbase require that new users must upload the front and back of a Photo ID as well as take a selfie to prove that it’s really them. In Coinbase’s privacy policy, they state that they will keep your name, address, phone number, and more for up to five years and will give it to law enforcement if there was ever a subpoena.[2]

The FBI has made it very clear that they are watching Bitcoin very closely, and they are getting better and better at finding the true identities of the people who use Bitcoin for illegal activity. They are fully aware that not everyone who uses Bitcoin is a criminal. In fact, they have a public dossier of their educational materials given to law enforcement to help them understand what it is. There are plenty of ways for hackers to hide their identity, but for the casual user, they are not getting any added expectation of privacy from Bitcoin. At this point in time, the only way to truly have an anonymous and untraceable financial transaction is with cold, hard cash.

8 The Lack Of Leadership


Bitcoin was created by the man of mystery, Satoshi Nakamoto. While there are many compelling theories about his true identity, no one knows exactly who he is. At the beginning of the Bitcoin project, Satoshi was able to guide the coders who helped create the platform any time they had a question. Once investigation agencies all over the world began searching for him, Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared. All over the world, homes of suspected Satoshis have been raided. Despite law enforcement’s best efforts, his true identity is still a mystery.

Now, coders and miners must come to a consensus every time a decision about Bitcoin’s future must be made. Unfortunately, the community cannot seem to agree on even the smallest decisions. There is no clear business plan mapping out Bitcoin’s future. In fact, the Reddit community message boards had to split into two totally separate Bitcoin groups, because opposing opinions wanted to continue to talk inside an echo chamber instead of getting along.[3]

Other cryptocurrencies actually have leaders to guide them. Vitalik Buterin is the boy genius creator of Ethereum. Harvard-educated Brad Garlinghouse is the CEO of Ripple. Both Buterin and Garlinghouse met with central banks and the Federal Reserve in October 2017, but Bitcoin did not have a seat, because there is no leader to represent them.

7 Laws And Regulations


In October 2017, China declared that it was illegal to create an “ICO,” which stands for “Initial Coin Offering.” Start-up companies were learning how to use blockchain to make their own spin-off coins to raise funds. The only downside was that a lot of these coins were fraudulent. A few fake coin companies took millions of dollars from desperate people who were trying to invest so they could “get rich” on these ICOs.

In New York, all businesses who want to accept Bitcoin are required to register for a “BitLicense” if they want to do business. The license promises to comply with United States taxation laws and regulations. The application costs $5,000, and there are 500 pages of legal paperwork that would require a team of taxation lawyers to decipher. For most businesses, it’s simply not worth the money, time, and effort to accept Bitcoin when so few people will actually use it in their stores.[4]

In 2014, the IRS released a guideline that anyone who profits from digital currency needs to pay taxes in the same way that anyone selling their stocks or bonds must pay their taxes. If the Bitcoin revolutionaries stick to their morals, they aren’t going to listen to the IRS. When there is such a huge spotlight on an activity that is known for tax evasion, it is obviously something that law enforcement takes notice of.

6 Use Cases


Many small businesses in California’s Silicon Valley accept Bitcoin as a form of payment, but larger corporations still only accept cash and cards. Unless Bitcoin can actually buy and sell things with bigger companies, they will never actually have very much of a purpose, since blockchain technology can exist without Bitcoin. The Journal of Government Financial Managementsays that blockchain technology can truly help the financial system, but they need to see more successful examples of use cases, first.

At the moment, the one and only digital currency that is actually working with the US Federal Reserve is a company called Ripple. They have proven that they can work with large corporations, banks, and credit card companies. They’re even going to process the financial transactions of American Express. Ripple has their own cryptocurrency, called XRP.

All of the original ideas for possible use cases for the blockchain are actually coming true through Ripple, not Bitcoin. In October 2017, Bill Gatesannounced that he chose Ripple to run his project that will help alleviate poverty in developing nations, despite having promoted Bitcoin in the past.[5]

5 Time And Mining Problems


The longer Bitcoin exists, the more difficult it becomes to “mine,” or create new coins. Without the miners, the Bitcoin network collapses. The cost of getting started as a new miner is so far out of reach for the average person that the main miners are gigantic warehouses in China. In most countries, the cost of electricity to run these computers is actually more than what the digital currency is worth, which makes it pointless to even try.

The longer Bitcoin exists, the longer it takes for these computer systems to process the information. At the time this article was written, the official time for a Bitcoin transfer is “one hour,” but anyone who uses Bitcoin on a regular basis knows that is far from the truth. Transactions can take up to six hours at busy times of the day, because it averages 15 transactions per second. There is no guarantee that it will ever improve. In fact, it is likely to keep getting worse.[6]

In contrast, Ripple’s coin XRP settles 1,500 transactions every second, and they have the technology and infrastructure to make sure that they’ll never slow down. In the digital age, where people want things to happen within a split second, it is simply not realistic to think that as the world slowly begins to understand and use blockchain in their everyday lives, they will choose the slower option, Bitcoin, over currencies that are faster.

4 Fear, Uncertainty, And Doubt


The current Bitcoin market is extremely volatile. If Bitcoin is in the news, its price can fluctuate hundreds of dollars in a matter of hours. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt are talked about so often in the community that everyone just calls them “FUD.” If there was ever any reason for the public to believe that Bitcoin may become illegal, if there was a hack, a virus, or any other issue in the system, the value will drop dramatically as people panic and sell as quickly as possible. It’s very similar to the stock market in that way.

If the Great Depression and the 2008 recession were any clue about the future, people will sell without hesitation if they lose faith in Bitcoin. Without any clear vision of where Bitcoin is going, there is very little for an investor to count on or to have faith in. Many people have been rewarded for holding onto their Bitcoins for dear life, but good news can only last for so long.[7]

3 Will The Real Bitcoin Please Stand Up?


Since the Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto is no longer publishing his opinions, all coders have left is the documentation he left behind. One person can read the same exact paragraph in the Bitcoin White Paper and come up with a totally different interpretation of Satoshi’s words than the next person. There are a lot of people who believe that in order for Bitcoin to survive, there needs to be a mass exodus to another platform that would be faster and more reliable.

Developers have come up with a solution called a “hard fork,” which is why Bitcoin Cash was created. However, they believed that Bitcoin Cash still did not solve the problems, so there was a much-contested plan to create yet another hard fork called Bitcoin Gold. That plan, known as SegWit2x, was eventually called off, and it resulted in another sharp spike in the price of the original Bitcoin.[8]

As of 2017, the amount of Bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto owns is now worth billions of dollars, and he has made it clear that he is done with the project. He could possibly be on a private island enjoying life while coders continue to argue over which coin gets to be the “real” Bitcoin.

2 The One Percent Hate Bitcoin


Billionaire Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan chase, has called Bitcoin a fraud and says that it is destined to fail. He said that even if the price of one Bitcoin rises to $100,000, it would not change his opinion that it is destined for failure some day.[9]

Every single year, Toronto hosts a banking conference called the Swift International Banking Operations Seminar (SIBOS), where some of the most powerful people in the world meet. The major company that runs the convention is called Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). They are in charge of what the world currently uses for banking transfers. One individual bank moves billions of dollars every year. Almost all of the banks in the world use SWIFT’s now-outdated technology, and they handle quadrillions of dollars.

At the October 2017 SIBOS, SWIFT CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt said during an interview that their company is trying to come out with a technology that will improve security, anonymity, and speed. It’s easy to read between the lines and know that what he is really saying is that they want to make their own blockchain. However, he claims that it will take them over a year to actually get their technology up and running. Ripple was so confident that they can beat SWIFT that they they purposely scheduled their own conference, called SWELL, at the same time and location as SIBOS. Their party-crashing resulted in successfully adopting hundreds of new banking partners to use their technology. The one percent aren’t threatened by Ripple the way they are by Bitcoin.

1 The End Of The World As We Know It


The most enthusiastic supporters of Bitcoin are revolutionaries. Some hope that people will rise up and choose to go with Bitcoin instead of using traditional banks. Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, was encouraged to talk to these Bitcoin revolutionaries in Silicon Valley, because it might make for good material for another book. He watched as the revolutionaries very literally sat around smoking weed and talking about their ideas of the future, and he left feeling as though Bitcoin was going to fail. He decided not to write a book on the subject.[10]

In order for these revolutionaries to get what they want—people losing faith in banks and switching to Bitcoin—the economy of the world as we know it would have to collapse. If that actually happened, people would have to lose their jobs, their homes, and maybe even their lives. Active revolutionaries who are pushing for a collapse are in short supply.

While they’re not necessarily one and the same, a member of Anonymoustold Vice News that many of the members have left and that the organization is full of distrust. Others make false promises and never act out on their plans of revolution. For the most part, it’s just kids writing on the Internet about how they want the world to change, without a real plan on how to execute it. If one revolutionary group like Anonymous can fall apart, what’s to stop Bitcoin from suffering the same fate? Even if they could change everything in an instant, would they really be prepared to push the big red button to begin the end of the world?


How The Stock Exchange Works

How The Stock Exchange Works

Everyday in the news we hear about the stock exchange, stocks and money moving around the globe. Still, a lot of people don't have an idea why we have stock markets at all, because the topic is usually very dry.  this is a short video about the basics of the stock exchanges. With robots. Robots are badass!

 

 


20 Late Stage Capitalism Memes That Will Seize Your Laughter

20 Late Stage Capitalism Memes That Will Seize Your Laughter

 


Want To Buy Pot In Hawaii? Your Cash Is No Good

Want To Buy Pot In Hawaii? Your Cash Is No Good

 Hawaii says it aims to be the first state to have marijuana sales handled without cash, saying it wants to avoid robberies and other crimes targeting dispensaries. All of Hawaii's eight licensed dispensaries have agreed to go cashless by Oct. 1, the governor's office said. The dispensaries will ask patients to use a debit payment app to buy their pot instead of cash. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states, including California and Colorado. Iris Ikeda, the state's financial institutions commissioner, told reporters at a news conference that state officials haven't discussed whether people wanting to pay in cash will be turned away from dispensaries.

"Oct. 1 is our target date to try to go cashless as much as we can," Ikeda said. Helen Cho, director of the Aloha Green dispensary, said dispensaries won't be forced to go cashless—and the company won't turn away patients who want to pay in cash. Many marijuana businesses use cash because banks fear pot money could expose them to legal trouble from the US government, which regulates banking and still bans marijuana. The debit app, called CanPay, uses a Colorado-based credit union to facilitate transactions. Hawaii is still working on allowing prepaid, stored-value cards to be used an alternative for people who don't have checking accounts, Ikeda said.

 


Conspiracy Theories We Think Will Be A Thing In 2017

Conspiracy Theories We Think Will Be A Thing In 2017

With a new year comes new conspiracy theories that either sound too ridiculous to be true or strangely logical enough to be real. Many of these 2017 conspiracy theories are either updated or continued from the conspiracy theories in 2016, particularly due to Donald Trump winning the presidential election. Along with the ever-popular conspiracy theory of the Illuminati pulling all the strings, this list of possible conspiracies also includes potential plans for the Trump administration.

This year's conspiracy theories involve secret government workings, acts of terrorism, hoax shootings, and signs leading to the world's end. Even a few celebrities like Kanye West and Jay-Z are mentioned on this list of the latest conspiracy theories. Whether you're a skeptic or a conspiracy theorist, some of these "conspiracies" will seem laughable, impossible, or downright scary.

Here are the conspiracy theories that are most likely to make the news in 2017. Vote up the ones you think will also be a thing, but be careful - they're watching. Always.


Money VS Counterfeits - 10 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know Before

Money VS Counterfeits - 10 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know Before

It’s no secret that money has distinctive features such as watermarks, special designs, or serial numbers. However, that’s not the end of it, and with technological progress comes new security measures.

Today chaostrophic would like to share some secrets to let you know more about money and help you tell genuine banknotes from forged ones.

10. The EURion constellation, or Omron rings

The EURion constellation is a repeated pattern of 5 rings that lets copy machines recognize the notes. Some printers and copiers refuse to print notes with these patterns, painting over or even shutting down. The constellation can be seen on virtually every major world currency.

9. Microprinting

This technique allows the printing of minuscule text that is hard to forge because of its technical requirements. A copy machine would just blur the text and make it illegible. This method is also used in most world currencies, including US dollars, UK pounds, euros, etc.

As seen in the right-hand picture, there’s a tiny gap in the letter "N" that shouldn’t be there. It’s also a fault of copying machinery, although it’s only discernible with the help of very sensitive equipment.

8. Embossing and indentation

This is another common security measure for banknotes, especially of higher denominations, as well as visas, passports, and other IDs. An additional advantage of this method is that visually impaired people can use it to recognize a genuine note. Normally, only some elements of a note are embossed, like the number 10 on a €10 bill.

7. Special paper

The paper used to make bills is not the same paper we use for our everyday needs. US dollars, for instance, are made of 75% cotton and 25% linen, which is why the paper they’re printed on is called "rag paper."

Polymer paper is also becoming popular today. It’s difficult to fake, and even if it looks genuine, it’s very different to the touch.

A good way to tell a forged bill is to apply some iodine: cellulose will react to it, and the stain will become blue.

6. Color-shifting inks

Most countries of the world use such inks to print their banknotes. The ink reflects the light and changes its color with the angle. For example, the number 50 on a $50 bill can be either copper or bright green.

The technique can’t be copied and is very hard to fake because there are only a few companies in the world that are permitted to manufacture such color-shifting inks.

5. Protective fibers

Any bill contains colored protective fibers that seem to be chaotically placed in the note. They look like random hair-thin threads, and experienced cashiers can even tell a genuine bill by touch when feeling those fibers. They also usually react to a UV light detector.

4. Planchettes

Another clever security feature that lights up under UV rays are planchettes. These are randomly placed on the bills and are difficult to fake because they’re ingrained in the notes, just like the protective fibers.

3. Chopmarks

This is an older practice, yet some countries, including China, still use it. It was first used to protect coins from counterfeiting and later adapted for bills. Chopmarks can be seen on a lesser part of the banknotes because they’re not set in the mints — it’s banks and exchange offices that put them onto bills to verify them. Every organization has its own secret mark.

2. Transparent windows

Polymer paper made it possible to print bills with transparent parts, or windows. Manufacturers claim that the windows are a replacement for watermarks and are almost impossible to counterfeit. They can be seen in the Canadian, Australian, and British banknotes.

1. KolourOptik technology

KolourOptik is the most advanced security technology today. It’s a 3D image made with a laser on a thin sheet of metal that changes colors under different angles. It was first used in Austria in 1988. KolourOptik is usually applied to notes of higher denominations, but smaller bills can also have it, normally as strips.

 

 


Here's What One US Dollar Will Get You Around The World

Here's What One US Dollar Will Get You Around The World

 

In Switzerland, you can only buy a small can of dog food with one dollar, while in Australia, you can get a whole bottle of white wine.


Did Seattle's Higher Minimum Wage Backfire?

Did Seattle's Higher Minimum Wage Backfire?

Seattle has been gradually increasing its minimum wage, with the city planning to make it $15 by 2021. (It's currently $13 for most businesses.) While advocates may be thrilled, a new study out of the University of Washington suggests that the rising minimum might actually be harming low-income workers in general. Researchers say that while the new law is indeed resulting in higher wages, employers have reduced hiring and hours, reports the Seattle Times. However, skeptics say the study is flawed and point to a second study out of Berkeley with a different conclusion. Details:

  • A key figure: The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, finds that the hike in the minimum wage so far has cost the average low-wage worker $125 a month. The reason? While pay has gone up 3%, workers saw their hours fall by 9% from 2014 to 2016, say the researchers. They also estimate that without the law, another 5,000 low-wage jobs would exist in the city currently. (The study compared Seattle to surrounding control areas that saw no wage increase, notes the LA Times.)
  • 'Very credible': The Washington Post calls the results "bad news for liberals" in its headline and quotes an MIT economics professor who sees the study as "very credible" and predicts it will be influential. It is "sufficiently compelling in its design and statistical power that it can change minds."
  • Different study: The Berkeley study, out last week, found that the wage increase did not result in lost jobs. This study, however, focused only on the restaurant industry, which critics see as a potential weakness.
  • A flaw? The New York Times reports that critics think the UW researchers may be off base in part because Seattle's strong economy has caused employers to bid up wages. "Under such a scenario, one would expect to see a decline in the overall number of hours worked in low-wage jobs. In their place would be a significant increase in hours worked at somewhat higher-paying jobs."
  • Another? From the Post: "To avoid confusing establishments that were subject to the minimum with those that were not, the authors did not include large employers with locations both inside and outside of Seattle in their calculations. Skeptics argued that omission could explain the unusual results."
  • Unprecedented data: Yes, there are caveats, but the authors had access to "detailed data on the hours and earnings of nearly all employees in Washington state," notes a post at FiveThirtyEight. It thinks the research will have broad political implications as other cities weigh similar increases.
  • Told you so: At Forbes, Tim Worstall, who is a self-described "extremist" on the issue, says the study backs up his prediction that forcing employers to pay more will make things worse for employees. He expects that to continue as the wage rises from $13 to $15.


For United, the Video Mess Just Keeps Getting Worse

For United, the Video Mess Just Keeps Getting Worse

 

The fallout from the video of a United passenger being removed from a plane isn't just a PR mess for the company, it's a financial one as well. Investors didn't seem fazed by the story on Monday, but that changed Tuesday, with the company's market value down about $255 million from $22.5 billion at the close of trading, reports MarketWatch. (Things had been much worse earlier in the day.) A look at related coverage:

  • United CEO Oscar Munoz offered his "deepest apologies" Tuesday for the "truly horrific incident," adding that "no one should ever be mistreated this way." (That's a shift from his comments in a company memo.) He also promised a review of company policies. Read his statement here.
  • Earlier, the airline clarified that the flight was sold out, but it wasn't overbooked, reports USA Today. The crunch occurred when the airline had to make room for four United employees who needed to get to Louisville for future flights, and no passengers voluntarily agreed to give up their seats.
  • The passenger involved is 69-year-old Kentucky doctor David Dao, who came to the US from Vietnam. He has made no public statement, but the spotlight has still found him. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that he surrendered his medical license in 2005 after being convicted on "multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit" and was cleared to resume practicing in 2015. The newspaper (not the only outlet reporting on Dao's legal trouble) faced an online backlash for the reporting, notes Business Insider. A post at Think Progress is particularly critical.
  • Munoz might be done, writes the head of a PR firm at CNBC. Among the company's "three strikes" laid out by Mark Macias is its "tone-deaf" language in the immediate wake of the incident. (The post was written before Tuesday's apology.)
  • But an opinion piece at Fox News says the anger at United is misdirected—it was a security officer from Chicago Aviation Department, not a United employee, who got physical.
  • So how can United force passengers off a plane? "You agree to it when you book your tickets," explains CNN. Though it wasn't the case with this flight, airlines routinely overbook to account for no-shows. While it generally works out, 46,000 passengers were involuntarily booted from flights in 2015.
  • Town & Country has more on passengers' rights, which can be a gray area even for experts. But one thing is clear: Anyone who gets bumped is entitled to compensation as mandated by the FAA. (This woman made $11,000 in one weekend.)
  • Which airline is worst at overbooking? Delta, reports Time. It's followed by, yes, United. The best of the bunch is JetBlue.
  • The hashtag #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos is roasting the airline. One Twitter user has a suggested motto for rival Southwest: "We beat the competition. Not you."
  • Bill O'Reilly was catching flak for chuckling at the incident on his show, notes Entertainment Weekly.


New Report Projects The Marijuana Industry Will Create A Literal Shit Ton Of Jobs By 2020

New Report Projects The Marijuana Industry Will Create A Literal Shit Ton Of Jobs By 2020

Throughout the Obama administration, the federal government’s stance on marijuana legalization was a hands-off approach which allowed the states to make their own decisions. It’s unclear where the current administration is headed with regards to legalization throughout the country. And with major players like Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions being openly against legalization there’s a lot of uncertainty about where the marijuana industry is headed.

Even with all that current uncertainty regarding legalization there still aren’t any politicians who have come forth to champion the fight against legalization, and the reason for this might be because the marijuana industry is creating jobs faster than the government. A recent report from NewFrontierData showed astronomical job projections for the marijuana industry between now and the year 2020:

The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $7.2 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17%. Medical marijuana sales are projected to grow from $4.7 billion in 2016 to $13.3 billion in 2020. Adult recreational sales are estimated to jump from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $11.2 billion by 2020.
New Frontier is basing these projections on the markets that have already passed such initiatives and don’t include additional states that could come on board during that time. At this time there are 25 states with some form of legalized medical marijuana and 7 states have legalized recreational marijuana that is in various stages of being implemented.
“These numbers confirm that cannabis is a major economic driver and job creation engine for the U.S. economy,” said Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, Founder and CEO of New Frontier Data. “While we see a potential drop in total number of U.S. jobs created in 2017, as reported by Kiplinger, as well as an overall expected drop in GDP growth, the cannabis industry continues to be a positive contributing factor to growth at a time of potential decline. We expect the cannabis industry’s growth to be slowed down to some degree in the next 3 to 5 years, however with a projected total market sales to exceed $24 billion by 2025, and the possibility of almost 300,000 jobs by 2020, it remains a positive economic force in the U.S.”

It would be political suicide for any politician to try and tank an industry that’s poised to created up to 300,000 jobs over the next three years, an industry that’s expected to grow to $13.3 billion in medical sales and $11.2 billion in recreational sales. Regardless of how deep the pockets of alcohol and tobacco lobbyists are, nobody can deny that the growth of this industry is great for our nation’s economy. For information on how these job growth projections were made you can follow that link below!

SOURCE


Here Are Some of the Biggest Losers Of Election Night

Here Are Some of the Biggest Losers Of Election Night

 

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Other than the obvious, who and what were the biggest losers of election night? Various sources weigh in:

  • The media: Even before the big day, multiple outlets were decrying the media as the biggest loser of the election. Now that it's obvious just how wrong the media and most pollsters got it, more are echoing that sentiment.
  • The environment: Experts who spoke to Time and the Christian Science Monitor agreed that a Trump presidency could be bad news in terms of environmental activism. "When he assumes office, Trump will be the only head of state to deny that climate change is real," says the executive director of the Sierra Club.

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  • Tesla? Barron's notes: "The Republicans and Mr. Trump haven’t exactly supported solar efforts, and Tesla is basically an alternative-energy play, particularly with its pending deal to buy SolarCity, an installer of residential solar panels. It’s hard to imagine the new government endorsing continued solar subsidies, which has boosted SolarCity in recent years."
  • #NeverTrump: The New Republic pointed out on Monday that not only did the #NeverTrump contingent of the Republican Party fail to rally most of the GOP to its cause, it actually may have helped Trump because it gave him "a convenient scapegoat to blame for the problems of his candidacy."
  • Russ Feingold: In a more traditional sense, the former Democratic senator was one of the biggest losers of the night, as The Hill reports he was "heavily favored" to beat Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, who booted him out of his Senate position back in 2010. Instead, in a "massive upset" that helped the GOP keep its Senate majority, Johnson held onto his seat.
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Cuban Cigars Just Got Much Easier To Obtain

Cuban Cigars Just Got Much Easier To Obtain

 

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Good news for lovers of Cuban cigars and rum: The White House said Friday it's eliminating a $100 limit on the value of those items that American travelers can bring back from the island, reports AP. Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most travelers will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum. Because high-end Cuban cigars can sell for more than $100 apiece outside Cuba, every US traveler can now legally bring back many thousands of dollars of Cuban products, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new annual revenue for the Cuban state.

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"Challenges remain—and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights—but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values," President Obama said in a statement. More than 160,000 American travelers visited Cuba last year, and that figure is expected to double this year. The previous limit restricted travelers to a combined value of $100 in rum and cigars, although enforcement of the limit notably declined after Obama declared detente with Cuba in December 2014.

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19 Images Offer A Glimpse Into The Daily Life Of People On The Remotest Island Of Great Britain

19 Images Offer A Glimpse Into The Daily Life Of People On The Remotest Island Of Great Britain

Tiny Foula lies 20 miles west of Shetland’s main island and is home to a current population of just thirty people.

The tiny scrap of rock with an area of 4.9 square miles is also known as Bird Island thanks to the wildlife that flock around its 1,210ft cliffs.

Most of its inhabitants are crofters who make a living from sheep farming and tourism.

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One of the oldest inhabitants of Foula is 78-year-old crofter Eric Ibister who lives in Hametoun
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Crofter Lyn Robertson, sorts out her sheep to be taken off the Island of Foula to be sold
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Jack, Penny, Sheila and Jim Grear walk their ponies to the Island of Foula ferry where they will be loaded for market on Shetland
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Crofter Lyn Robertson, helped by Jack Smith and Stuart Taylor, sorts out her sheep to be taken off the Island of Foula to be sold
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The plane arrives from Tingwall airport at the Island of Foula airstrip
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A stone points the way to the Island of Foula Post Office
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Stuart Taylor works in his wood workshop on the Island of Foula
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Seventy eight year old crofter Eric Ibister sits in his armchair at his home in Hametoun on the Island of Foula
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Sheep graze beside an old cottage on the Island of Foula
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A ruined building and deserted telephone box lie on the Island of Foula
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Foula lies 20 miles west of Shetland’s main island
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Stuart Taylor and Jack Smith the only school child on the Island of Foula,enjoy a quick tune on the guitar and mandolin
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Seals shelter from stormy seas near the jetty on the Island of Foula
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Fran Grear tries out a pair of roller blades during the primary school coffee morning on the Island of Foula
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Post mistress Sheila Gear, working in the Island of Foula Post Office
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Foula residents Stuart Taylor, Penny Grear, Sheila Grear, Davie Wilson and Jim Grear play music and enjoy a drink at a late night gathering
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Residents of Foula take sheep off the island bound for the market on the boat the New Advance
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A view of Gaada Stack on the Island of Foula
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The New Advance ferry manned by residents leaves the harbour on the Island of Foula to take the Grear family ponies to a sale on Shetland

World's Largest Ship Elevator Opens at Three Gorges Dam

World's Largest Ship Elevator Opens at Three Gorges Dam

 

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The world's largest ship elevator at the Three Gorges Dam opened in Yichang City, central China's Hubei Province, on Sunday, with a prospect to increase the shipping capacity past the dam by six million tons a year.

The elevator, the existing largest lifting structure on a navigation route with the highest technical difficulty of the world, features large engineering scope, high lifting height and large weight lifting operation.

The largest weight to be handled by the elevator is freighter of 3,000 DWT(deadweight ton) and the maximum vertical lifting height is 113 meters.

The main components of the structure are four 169-meter high reinforced concrete towers. The chamber, a self-support orthotropic plate structure that is 120 meters long and 18 meters wide, works as a gigantic basin.

Weighting around 15,500 tons, the elevator carries the ships upwards or downwards to pass the dam.

A special safety mechanism, or a brake pad, is fixed. Four short screw sections connected to the ship chamber work as rotary locking rods.

They rotary locking rods work continuously in an internal thread, or a nut post, that is fixed to the towers. If an accident occurs, this rotation is blocked and traction is achieved that supports the ship chamber independently.

The elevator will cut journey times for passenger, cruise and small cargo ships passing through the dam from over three hours to about 40 minutes.

Larger vessels still have to pass the dam by means of a two-lane, five-chamber lock chain like climbing stairs. "Large vessels walk the stairs, small ones take the elevator" to pass the Three Gorges Dam for some time to come.


Judge Dumps Laundering Charges, Says Bitcoin's Not Real

Judge Dumps Laundering Charges, Says Bitcoin's Not Real

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Bitcoins may be valuable in tech circles, but to a judge in Miami-Dade County, the virtual money is nothing more than shadow currency. On Monday, Judge Teresa Mary Pooler discarded felony charges against website designer Michell Espinoza, who had been accused of transmitting and laundering $1,500 in bitcoins—an impossible-to-prove charge since bitcoin isn't actual "tangible wealth" that can "be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars," per the Miami Herald. Espinoza had allegedly transferred the bitcoins to undercover detectives for cash, the Washington Post reports; the detectives said they were going to scoop up stolen credit-card numbers with them. The paper explains how Florida law forbids exchanging money for "illicit" activity such as the credit card fraud Espinoza was accused of trying to abet.

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But in her eight-page ruling, Pooler noted that while she couldn't "accurately define or describe Bitcoin"—and also couldn't deny that in some (but not all) circumstances it could be "exchanged for items of value," like money—neither could she deem that it was actual money, rendering the charges against Espinoza moot. Quartz notes how Pooler isn't the only one confused about how to categorize bitcoin, with the legal system still struggling with how to deal with the concept. Espinoza's lawyer, not surprisingly, called the judge's decision "beautifully written" and said all Espinoza had done was "sell his own personal property." The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office is deciding whether to appeal.

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SOURCE


EVEN MISS CALIFORNIA USA KNOWS HER ANSWER ABOUT THE ECONOMY SUCKED

EVEN MISS CALIFORNIA USA KNOWS HER ANSWER ABOUT THE ECONOMY SUCKED

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The Miss USA Pageant seems like it should be pretty low on the list of places to find answers to fix the ever-increasing gap between America's rich and poor. Yet, every year, some poor contestant seems to be put on the spot and asked to answer a question like that or solve some problem that even elected officials can't figure out.

This year's unlucky lady was Nadia Mejia, who was asked what the United States should do to narrow the gap between the rich and poor. Yeah, she didn't have the answer.

But to be honest, neither do we, so we're not going to sit here and crucify her for it like others did on Twitter shortly afterward:
https://twitter.com/LadyAndTheDood/status/739628627147390976
https://twitter.com/makhondlovu/status/739628627214602241
The good news is that Miss California USA, who happens to be the daughter of the dude who sang "Rico Suave," isn't letting the moment get the best of her, as she's already joking about it on her Instagram page:

That's good to see, especially since it could have been much, much worse:

I Am Bored


China’s Getting Into the Love Hotel Business, Which Means Attitudes About Sex Are Changing

China’s Getting Into the Love Hotel Business, Which Means Attitudes About Sex Are Changing

China is finally coming out of the darkness of sexual repression, basking in the glow of lost virginity and doing whatever else it is you do when, as a society, you become more open, sexually, that is. In all honesty though, China has been becoming freer ever since the blessed death of the sexually-conservative Chairman Mao in the 1970s.

The quickly adapting acceptance of sexual expression and freedom has manifested in China’s love hotels, a similar but less kinky version of their Japanese counterparts. After the extremely successful opening of China’s first love hotel in 2008, there have been hundreds springing up. I mean really, who doesn’t want to have sex in a room lavishly decorated like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

While as recently 1989 only 15% of Chinese citizens were reported as having sex before marriage (let’s not even get into the issue of proving that statistic), current polls say as many as 70% engage in premarital sex. That probably means  90% because you know some people are lying. So, it only makes sense that the market is there for the influx of both romance-oriented and sexually explorative love hotels.

“I think we should listen to the voices in our hearts and go with the flow, including when it comes to the pursuit of sex. That is human nature,” said Sun Yanping, a businesswoman who has successfully opened five love hotels, and hopes to expand her empire to 100 or 200.

With themed rooms running the gamut from Swiss Chalet to Cave to Aquarium, China’s love hotels have already appropriately flexed in the creativity department.

Hell, if you really want to amp up your sexual athleticism you can get a room that includes a sex chair and exercise ball and make your stay into a truly passionate bootcamp experience.

 

China’s evolving attitudes towards sex certainly aren’t limited to their newly trending love hotels. While the first sex shop in China was first opened in the 1990s, they wasted no time in becoming the number one manufacturer of sex toys in the world, with a thriving multi-million dollar dildo industry.

Honestly, it sounds like once the doors of sexual freedom were opened people in China were like “THANK FUCKING GOD, WE’VE BEEN WAITING,” and they proceeded to spin a boatload of brilliant and bizarre ideas into successful businesses. Now I’ve just gotta find a grant so I can fly over there and stay at a hotel that has waterslides AND romantic multi-lingual poems. Because really, who’s not into that?!

SOURCE


These Are The 20 Worst Jobs Of 2016, And #5 Is Going To Piss A LOT Of People Off

These Are The 20 Worst Jobs Of 2016, And #5 Is Going To Piss A LOT Of People Off

For the 28th year in a row Career Cast has released their annual jobs report, ranking the 200 best or worst jobs in America, depending on how you read the report. Coming in at #1 on the list is Data Scientist, followed by Statistician (#2), Information Security Analyst (#3), Audiologist (#4), and Diagnostic Medical Sonographer rounds at the top 5. At the other end of the spectrum we can see the worst jobs in America for 2016, and I have a feeling that the fifth worst ranking job is going to piss off A LOT of you out there.

 

Before we get to the 20 Worst Jobs in America for 2016 let’s take a look at what factors into the methodology of these rankings, and what determines the worst jobs of 2016 (viaCareerCast.com):

The Jobs Rated report’s methodology analyzes each job’s environment (emotional, physical and hours worked), income (growth potential and salary), outlook (employment growth, income growth potential and unemployment), and 11 stress factors to determine which professions are among the least desirable.
Declining employment opportunities contribute to the inclusion of many of the 10 worst careers in the 2016 Jobs Rated report. Traditional news media is particularly hard hit.

Alright, enough about the methodology. Let’s take a look at the 20 worst jobs in America (in 2016), shall we? This list will in order of bad to worse, with the last (#1) job listed being the WORST job in America.

The 20 Worst Jobs In America (In 2016)

20. Construction Worker (Stress: 36.85, Income: $30,285)
19. Chef (Stress: 38.22, Income: $42,322)
18. Painter
17. Mail Carrier
16. Oil Rig Worker (Stress: 27.33, Income: $36,233)
15. Childcare Worker
14. Garbage Collector
13. Dockworker
12. Corrections Officer (Stress: 32.63, Income: $40,263)
11. Meter Reader
10. Firefighter (Stress: 72.68, Income: $46,368)
9. Taxi Driver
8. Advertising Sales Person
7. Retail Sales Person
6. Pest Control Worker
5. Enlisted Military Personnel (Stress: 64.140, Income: $45,374)
4. Disk Jockey (Stress: 29.76, Income: $29,376)
3. Broadcaster (Stress: 47.93, Income: $37,293)
2. Logger (Stress: 41.360, Hiring Outlook: -6.59)
1. Newspaper Reporter (Stress: 49.900, Hiring Outlook: -8.72)

 

So the reason I think that #5, Enlisted Military Personnel, is going to piss a shit ton of people off is because while it’s a profession with an extremely high level of stress and relatively modest pay it’s also one of the most fulfilling and honorable professions in the world, which isn’t taken into account by the methodology of these rankings.

SOURCE

 


30 THINGS YOU'LL NEVER SEE, USE OR HEAR AGAIN

We've come a long, long way as people. With all the twerking, tweeting and snapping of chats, sometimes it's easy to forget how much we've evolved (and devolved) as people. Here's a solid collection of the things you'll never see, use or hear again, because we've come too far with civilization to be bothered by dumb phones, knock-knock jokes and an Oscar-less Leo.

Four-Sided Perforated Printer Paper
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Every classroom and office in America during the '80s and some of the '90s
Why you won't see it again: Files are the only way to go now.

Waiters As Whispering Receptionists
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
"Excuse me, sir. You have a phone call."
Where you saw it: In fancy restaurants
Why you won't see it again: People are assholes with their phones and no one has invented cellphone valets.

Microsoft Paint
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Every time you made "art" in the '90s
Why you won't see it again: You got a real job and rely on Instagram for creativity.

Cassettes & Walkmen
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
When you saw it: Just before the compact disc took over
Why you won't see it again: Drains my batteries too quickly with that Skip Protection button.

"Don't touch that dial, folks."
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Pre-Tivo, TV shows trying to get you to stay through the commercials
Why you won't see it again: You pirate everything and can just rewind all day.

"Here's a quarter. Call someone who cares."
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you heard it: Every time someone wanted to totally burn someone else pre-2000
Why you won't see it again: All those people are grown-ups who evolved into bigger assholes.

Pay Phone Booth
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: In the movies and on the streets
Why you won't see it again: Cellphone, homey. Gave all my quarters to someone who cares.

Cheap Gas
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: 1999
Why you won't see it again: Politics, man.

"Be kind, rewind."
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Video stores
Why you won't see it again: Obsolete. It's just you and your VHS collection, but no VCR.

Smoking on Airplanes
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: "Mad Men," because I'm too young for '60s culture
Why you won't see it again: Apparently, it's bad for you.

Condom & Cigarette Dispensers
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Public bathroom and bars
Why you won't see it again: You don't use either anymore.

Candy Cigarettes
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: In your blissful childhoods, just before you had to quit
Why you won't see it again: Mom cut you off for getting too high on sugar.

Bob Saget as a Caring Father Figure
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: 1987 to 1995
Why you won't see it again: Even though the cast of "Full House" is back on Netflix, you know better.

Bob Barker's "The Price Is Right"
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Every sick day of your childhood
Why you won't see it again: Bob Barker retired and left it to Drew Carey.

The Blowing of Nintendo Games
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Every time your Nintendo had a glitch or failed to start
Why you won't see it again: Those difficult times have been replaced with discs and files.

Bowling Alley Scoresheets
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Old school bowling alleys
Why you won't see it again: Can't see that shit during Galactic Bowling. Computers, too.

"Talk to the Hand"
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: '90s films and your loser friends
Why you won't see it again: You don't pay attention to either anymore.

Boombox on the Shoulder
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: On the shoulder of the baddest asses on the street
Why you won't see it again: Got some iTunes, homey.

The Greatest Player Ever, Michael Jordan, Crying in Present Time
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Championships and retirement
Why you won't see it again: Because he's just a meme now.

Cracker Jack Prizes
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Whenever you reached a milestone with book reports
Why you won't see it again: You (hopefully) don't still do book reports.

Oasis
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: If you were lucky, on stage anytime from 1994 to 2008
Why you won't see it again: Those Gallagher brothers just can't get along.

"Schwing!"
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: "Wayne's World"
Why you won't see it again: You might get beat up or dumped for still saying it.

Fat TVs That Look Like Furniture
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: In every home in America
Why you won't see it again: The flat screen was invented.

Slap Bracelets, Pogs & Chia Pets
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
When you saw it: The '90s
Why you won't see it again: Bracelets broke, lost all your pogs and your pet is dead.
'90s Nostalgia, better known as crap that never really mattered yet defined a generation.

AIM Away Messages
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Every computer in the late '90s
Why you won't see it again: Got my iPhone, homey!

A Respectable Dustin Diamond or Macaulay Culkin
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: The early 1990s
Why you won't see it again: They do bad things that make people cringe.

"Show Me the Money"
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: "Jerry McGuire"
Why you won't see it again: Tom Cruise is a crazy Scientologist.

Ecto Cooler HI-C
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Juice boxes
Why you won't see it again: It's getting rebooted with tequila (no, it's not).

Brand New Playboy Nudes in Your Dad's Garage
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: Bathroom, and my buddy's dad's garage in a large stack
Why you won't see it again: SFW.
Along with real, physical (or real physical) porn in general, we've seen the last of the Playboy nudes within the past few months. Check out the last nude centerfold, Krystal Garret.

Your First Friend, Tom
30 Things You'll Never See, Use or Hear Again
Where you saw it: MySpace
Why you won't see it again: Myspace is for losers!

30 THINGS YOU'LL NEVER SEE, USE OR HEAR AGAIN

 

SOURCE


10 Fascinating Facts About The Samurai

Samurai are legendary warriors and perhaps the most well-known class of people in ancient Japan. They were noble fighters that fought evil (and each other) with their swords and frightening armor, following a strict moral code that governed their entire life.

That’s the popular idea, anyway. In reality, there’s much more to the samurai . . .

10 Female “Samurai”

female
While “samurai” is a strictly masculine term, the Japanese bushi class (the social class samurai came from) did feature women who received similar training in martial arts and strategy. These women were called “Onna-Bugeisha,” and they were known to participate in combat along with their male counterparts. Their weapon of choice was usually the naginata, a spear with a curved, sword-like blade that was versatile, yet relatively light.

Since historical texts offer relatively few accounts of these female warriors (the traditional role of a Japanese noblewoman was more of a homemaker), we used to assume they were just a tiny minority. However, recent research indicates that Japanese women participated in battles quite a lot more oftenthan history books admit. When remains from the site of the Battle of Senbon Matsubaru in 1580 were DNA-tested, 35 out of 105 bodies were female. Research on other sites has yielded similar results.

9 The Armor

armor
The strangest thing about the samurai is probably their weird-looking, ornate armor. However, each piece of it was functional. The samurai armor, unlike the armor worn by European knights, was always designed for mobility. A good suit of armor had to be sturdy, yet flexible enough to allow its wearer free movement in the battlefield. The armor was made of lacquered plates of either leather or metal, carefully bound together by laces of leather or silk. The arms were protected by large, rectangular shoulder shields and light, armored sleeves. The right hand was often left without a sleeve to allow maximum movement.

The strangest and most convoluted part of the armor, the kabuto helmet, also served its purpose. Its bowl was made of riveted metal plates, while the face and brow were protected by a piece of armor that tied around behind the head and under the helmet. The most famous feature of the helmet was its Darth Vader–like neck guard (Darth Vader’s design was actually influenced by samurai helmets). It defended the wearer from arrows and swords coming from all angles. Many helmets also featured ornaments and attachable pieces, including a mustachioed, demonic mengu mask that both protected the face and frightened the enemy. A leather cap worn underneath the helmet provided much-needed padding.

Although the samurai armor went through significant changes over time, its overall look always remained fairly consistent to the untrained eye. It was so well-made and effective that the US Army actually based the first modern flak jackets on samurai armor.

8 Homosexuality

wakashudo
Not many people know that samurai were extremely open-minded when it comes to sexual relations. Much like the Spartans, another warrior culture, the samurai not only accepted the presence of same-sex relations in their culture—they actively encouraged them. These relationships were generally formed between an experienced samurai and a youth he was training (again, very much like the Spartans). The practice was known as wakashudo (“the way of the youth”), and it was reportedly done by all members of the class. In fact, wakashudo was such a common thing that a daimyo might have faced some embarrassing questions if he didn’t engage in it.

Although wakashudo was considered a fundamental aspect of the way of the samurai, history has kept relatively quiet about it. Pop culture depictions of samurai, ushered in by director Akira Kurosawa and his trusted actor Toshiro Mifune, have never addressed this fact either.

7 Western Samurai

west
Readers who have seen the movie The Last Samurai might know that under special circumstances, someone outside Japan could fight alongside the samurai, and even become one himself. This special honor (which included samurai weapons and a new, Japanese name) could only be bestowed by powerful leaders, such as daimyos (territorial lords) or the shogun (warlord) himself.

History knows four Western men who have been granted the dignity of the samurai: adventurer William Adams, his colleague Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn, Navy officer Eugene Collache, and arms dealer Edward Schnell. Out of the four, Adams was the first and the most influential: he served as a bannerman and advisor to the Shogun himself. Amusingly, neither of the people Tom Cruise’s Last Samurai character was based on (Frederick Townsend Ward and Jules Brunet) were ever made samurai.

6 The Numbers

numbers
Many people think the samurai were either a rare elite force (much like Navy SEALS or the Russian Spetznaz today) or a small, tightly defined caste of noblemen. However, they were actually an entire social class. Originally, “samurai” meant “those who serve in close attendance to the nobility.” In time, the term evolved and became associated with the bushi class, middle- and upper-tier soldiers in particular.

This means there were quite a lot more of these mighty warriors than we generally assume. In fact, at the peak of their power, up to 10 percent of Japan’s population was samurai. Because of their large numbers and long influence in Japan’s history, every single Japanese person living today is said to have at least some samurai blood in them.

5 Fashion

fashion
Samurai were the rock stars of their time and their style of clothing massively influenced the fashion of the era. However, save for the most formal occasions, samurai themselves didn’t dress to impress. Although their clothing was elaborate, every aspect of it was designed to fit their needs as warriors.

Samurai dressed for speed, travel, and freedom of movement. Their regular outfit consisted of wide hakama trousers and a kimono or a hitatare, a two-part vest with imposing shoulder points. The costume left the arms free, and the hitatare vest could quickly be removed in case of a surprise attack. The kimono was generally made of silk because of its coolness, feel, and appearance. For footwear, either wooden clogs or sandals were used.

The most distinctive part of samurai fashion, the topknot hairstyle, was also the most widespread. Except for Buddhist monks (who shave their heads), people of all social classes wore the topknot hairstyle for hundreds of years. The habit of combining the topknot with a partially shaved head may have developed out of necessity: The shaved forehead made it more comfortable to wear a helmet.

4 The Weapons

katana
As soldiers, samurai employed a number of different weapons. They originally carried a sword called a “chokuto,” which was essentially a slimmer, smaller version of the straight swords later used by medieval knights.

As sword-making techniques progressed, the samurai switched to curved swords, which eventually evolved into the katana. The katana is perhaps the most famous sword type in the world and certainly the most iconic of all samurai weapons. Bushido (the samurai code) dictated that a samurai’s soul was in his katana, which made it the most important weapon he carried. Katanas were usually carried with a smaller blade in a pair called “daisho,” which was a status symbol used exclusively by the samurai class.

While some samurai did indeed fight with nothing but their katana, most took a more practical approach. Swords were far from the only weapon they had at their disposal. They commonly used the yumi, a longbow they practiced religiously with. Spears became important as personal bravery on the battlefield was eventually replaced by meticulous planning and tactics. When gunpowder was introduced in the 16th century, the samurai abandoned their bows in favor of firearms and cannons. Their long-distance weapon of choice was the tanegashima, a flintlock rifle that became popular among Edo-era samurai and their footmen. Cannons and other gunpowder weapons were also commonly employed.

3 Education

educ
As the essential nobility of their era, members of the samurai class were far more than mere warriors. The majority of samurai were very well-educated. At a time when very few Europeans could read, the level of samurai literacy was extremely high. They were also skilled in mathematics.

Bushido dictated that a samurai strives to better himself in a multitude of ways, including those unrelated to combat. This is why the samurai class participated in a number of cultural and artistic endeavors. Poetry, rock gardens, monochrome ink paintings, and the tea ceremony were common aspects of samurai culture. They also studied subjects such as calligraphy, literature, and flower arranging.

2 Physical Characteristics

phys
The imposing armor and weaponry makes samurai seem gigantic, and they’re often depicted as quite large and well-built in pop culture. This could not be farther from the truth. In reality, most samurai were quite tiny—a 16th century samurai was usually very slim and ranging from 160 to 165 centimeters (5’3″ to 5’5″) in height. For comparison, European knights of the same period probably ranged from 180 to 196 centimeters (6′ to 6’5″).

What’s more, the noble samurai might not have been as “pure” as the notoriously race-conscious Japanese would like. Compared to the average Japanese person, members of the samurai class were noticeably hairier and their skin was lighter. Their profile—namely, the bridge of their nose—was also distinctly more European. In an ironic twist, this seems to indicate that the samurai actually descend from an ethnic group called the Ainu, who are considered inferior by the Japanese and are often the subject of discrimination.

1 Suicide Rituals

seppuku
One of the most terrifying things about the way of the samurai is seppuku(also known as “hara-kiri”). It is the gruesome suicide a samurai must perform if he fails to follow bushido or is likely to be captured by enemy. Seppuku can be either a voluntary act or a punishment. Either way, it is generally seen as an extremely honorable way to die.

Most people are familiar with the “battlefield” version of seppuku, which is a quick and messy affair. It is performed by piercing the stomach with a short blade and moving it from left to right, until the performer has sliced himself open and essentially disemboweled himself. At this point, an attendant—usually a friend of the samurai—decapitates the disemboweled samurai with a sword (otherwise, dying would be an extremely long and painful process). However, the full-length seppuku is a far more elaborate process.

A formal seppuku is a long ritual that starts with a ceremonial bathing. Then, the samurai is dressed in white robes and given his favorite meal (much like the last meal of death row prisoners). After he has finished eating, a blade will be placed on his empty plate. He will then write a death poem, a traditional tanka text where he expresses his final words. After the poem is finished, he grabs the blade, wraps a cloth around it (so it won’t cut his hand), and does the deed. Again, the attendant finishes him by cutting his head off. However, he aims to leave a small strip of flesh in the front so that the head will fall forward and remain in the dead samurai’s embrace. This is also so that the head will not accidentally fly at the spectators, which would cause the attendant eternal shame.

SOURCE

10 Fascinating Facts About The Samurai


A Short, Weirdly Interesting Summary of Japan’s Origins and History

 

Forgot the anime. We all know Anime is Japan's true culture...

 

A Short, Weirdly Interesting Summary of Japan’s Origins and History


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