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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 55,432

About Me

I'm still living... Twitter: @glitchy_ashburn

Journal Archives

Second blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh

(Reuters) - A blogger was hacked to death by assailants using machetes in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Monday, the second attack in five weeks on a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation.

Washikur Rahman, a blogger advocating secularism, was attacked by young religious students on a busy street in the center of Dhaka on Monday morning, a police official said.

In recent years, religious militants in Bangladesh have targeted secularist writers while the government has tried to crack down on hardline Islamist groups seeking to make it a Sharia-based state.

Last month U.S.-based blogger Avijit Roy, another secularist, was hacked to death while returning with his wife from a book fair in Dhaka. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger.


Huge unexploded WWII bomb found in London

Builders uncovered a huge unexploded German World War II bomb in London on Monday, prompting the evacuation of two schools and hundreds of homes. The bomb, measuring five feet long (1.5 metres) and weighing 1000 pounds (455 kilogrammes) lay undisturbed below a pensioners' centre for seven decades in a densely populated southeastern part of the British capital.

"Seems our OAPs (old age pensioners) are hard as nails, drinking tea on top of a 1000lb bomb for 70 years," Lucas Green, a councillor in the riverside London borough of Southwark, wrote on Twitter.

He added that the bomb was buried two to three metres underground and still had its tail fin intact, and advised residents to open their windows and keep their curtains closed in case of a blast.

"It's a World War II-era German bomb," a spokeswoman for the Defence Ministry said, adding that bomb disposal experts were expected to continue working into Tuesday to make the area safe again.


Woman arrested after 'stripping and performing solo sex act on plane'

A 46-year-old woman was arrested at Gatwick Airport after allegedly stripping off on a BA flight from Jamaica and performing a sex act on herself.

The Londoner, who was arrested on suspicion of being drunk on an aircraft, allegedly disrupted the flight on March 19, forcing cabin crew to ask for it to be met by police on arrival.

According to the Daily Mail, a British Airways spokesperson said: "We can confirm that police were requested to meet our flight from Kingston."

The woman was given a police caution for being drunk, the Daily Mirror reports.


Let me guess -- She was returning home after a week at Hedonism II in Negril, but she didn't get it all out of her system...

Map: The Most Common* Job In Every State

*We used data from the Census Bureau, which has two catch-all categories: "managers not elsewhere classified" and "salespersons not elsewhere classified." Because those categories are broad and vague to the point of meaninglessness, we excluded them from our map.


Why Real Libertarians Hate Rand Paul

On a Saturday afternoon in mid-January, Brett H. Pojunis, the chairman of the Nevada Libertarian Party, stood outside his office on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, ashing a cigarette and dissing Rand Paul. “We’re the Libertarian Party,” he told me, dramatically stretching out the word in his New York accent. Paul, a member of the Republican Party, was in town for a visit ahead of formally launching his bid for the White House, and Pojunis didn’t particularly care.

“Libertarian,” he said, is now just “a buzzword” for Republicans like the Kentucky senator. If Paul was really so libertarian, Pojunis had some advice for him: “Well, OK then—join the Libertarian Party!”

Pojunis led me inside past some staffers hunched over a computer trying to select a new party logo. “Is this too swastika-y?” he asked, pointing to an image closely resembling the Nazi insignia. We walked past a room cluttered with memorabilia from Baywatch, the 1990s TV show featuring bikini-clad lifeguards, and Pojunis explained that it was the personal office of Michael Burke, the creator of the show and a possible Libertarian Party candidate. “He literally has a key to the Playboy Mansion,” Pojunis said.

Anecdotally, when I’ve talked to Libertarians who identify as Paul supporters—particularly those who campaigned for his father, former congressman and two-time presidential candidate Ron Paul—they acknowledge the reality that Rand Paul may be the best ambassador to the mainstream political world they will ever get. In other words, the senator is not the ideal libertarian (an oxymoronic phrase, given the amount of infighting among libertarians about what exactly that is), but he comes close enough, and certainly closer than any other likely presidential candidate.

But Pojunis and his aides said those Paul supporters were fools. Libertarians who back Paul, he said, are “getting all the downside of compromise and none of the upside.”


I wish I could dredge up some sympathy for the libertarians, but I really can't...They knew damn well what deal they were making when they got in bed with the crazies and the nuts

Solar Power Comes of Age (80% cheaper than in 2005)

Solar power has been declared a winner before, only to flounder. It’s easy to remain skeptical today, given that solar power accounts for less than one percent of the global energy supply. But it is also expanding faster than any other power source, with an average growth rate of 50 percent a year for the past six years. Annual installations of photovoltaic panels increased from a capacity of less than 0.3 gigawatts in 2000 to 45 gigawatts in 2014—enough to power more than 7.4 million American homes. This time really is different: solar power is ready to compete on its own terms.

The momentum behind solar power is a result of innovations in regulation, industry, technology, and financing. In a number of markets, it no longer needs public subsidies to compete on price with conventional power sources, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. The International Energy Agency, which has historically taken a conservative approach to evaluating solar power’s prospects, has projected that by 2050, in the best-case scenario, solar energy could be the single biggest source of power, generating as much as 27 percent of electricity worldwide.

If that happens, the consequences will be profound. Electricity will reach places that have never known what it means to get light or heat on demand. The price of electricity could fall, and utilities will have to figure out how to adapt. But the environmental gains, in terms of lower emissions of particulates, sulphur, and greenhouse gases, would be profound. 


Four factors lie behind the rise of solar power. The first is regulatory support. Around the world, governments have enacted a range of pro-solar policies, including requirements that utilities generate a given fraction of their electricity from solar power, feed-in tariffs (a guaranteed price per kilowatt of solar power), and subsidies to manufacturers of solar panels and the households that buy them. Policymakers have supported solar power for a number of reasons, including a desire to reduce emissions, diversify their countries’ energy supplies, and create jobs. Perhaps most important, they recognized the long-term potential of solar power and wanted to foster a market for it. 


Wolff: Snowden effect hits 'Guardian'

Major journalistic scoops are judged by their impact on society at large, but they can also impact with unintended effects the news organizations that pursue them.

With the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying in 2013, Britain's Guardian newspaper and its U.S. Web presence became a major player in American journalism. But the selection of a new editor Friday at the Guardian — Katharine Viner — can be read as, in part, a deeply equivocal response on the part of the paper's staff, with its unusual power in the process of selecting a new editor, to the Snowden story. (Disclosure: I have written for the Guardian for many years....)

....The Snowden story was owned by a small circle at the paper: primarily, Rusbridger, who became its most public face; Janine Gibson, the Rusbridger acolyte with a reputation for sharp elbows imported from London to run the New York office; and Glenn Greenwald, the freelancer who had brought the story to the Guardian (and who discontinued his relationship with the paper shortly after the story broke). What's more, the story, which Guardian management believed would be a financial boon, attracted little advertising revenue and instead became a cost center — and other parts of the paper had to absorb the hit.

There developed, too, a sense of journalistic queasiness around Snowden, difficult to express at the party-line Guardian. Questioning Snowden's retreat to Russia and his protection by Vladimir Putin was internally verboten. There were Gibson's efforts to carefully monitor staff tweets, making sure Guardian journalists toed the line in support of Snowden and Greenwald. Then there was Rusbridger's interview with Snowden in July, which made Rusbridger seem, to many, like something of a fawning groupie — and left a sense of embarrassment among many staffers.


I'd heard similar stories, but it's always good to see someone else confirm it...Just one more tick in the column of "things I was right about all along"

Putin Turns Up His Special War Against Europe

Over the last year, since the Russian theft of Crimea, I’ve unambiguously warned that Vladimir Putin means what he says and he will not shy away from confrontation with the West, even at the risk of major war. Opportunities to deter this resurgent Russia, which I counseled many months ago, were punted on by the U.S. and NATO, so we now face a serious risk of war with Putin over his mounting hegemony in Eastern Europe. Ukraine is just the beginning.

As I’ve long made clear, Russia does not play by Western rules, and Putin and his Kremlin, being Chekists to their core, place great value on what I term Special War, meaning a shadowy amalgam of espionage, propaganda, and terrorism that Western states are poorly positioned to counter. At the end of the last year I predicted that the Kremlin’s Special War against the West was sure to rise, and so it has in the first quarter of this new year.

Last week I explained how Russian espionage against the Czech Republic — no congenital hater of the Russians like, say, Poland or the Baltics — had become so serious that Prague had expelled three Russian spies in recent months, amid warnings from Czech counterintelligence that at least a quarter of the outsized number of Russian diplomats in the country were actually spies posing as diplomats.

Over the last year I’ve explained in detail how Russian intelligence abroad, encompassing the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the military’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), have increased the scope and intensity of their operations against many NATO countries, including France, Germany, Hungary, and Poland. Most of these operations are undertaken by SVR or GRU officers serving under what the Russians term Legal cover, meaning they are pretending to be diplomats, trade representatives, and whatnot.


American Airlines Dad and Pilot Daughter Duo Take Flight


Imagine the pride American Airlines pilot Scott Byrne felt when he realized his co-pilot for the next few days would be someone he knew well. Very well.

And imagine the excitement Jen Byrne felt sitting next to a man she called her "hero" as the plane she was piloting took off.

The dad-and-daughter duo, both pilots for American Airlines, had the opportunity to fly together Wednesday for the first time as First Officer and Captain. The flight was from Chicago to Dallas and then on to Orange County.

"It also marked the one-year anniversary since I've joined American," said Jen Byrne.

Scott Byrne said they were so busy with the pre-flight requirements and then take off that he almost forgot who was sitting next to him.


EDIT: it's more commonplace than you'd think--

Exclusive: Opposition Leaders in London Are Putin's Next Target

The Kremlin’s war on the Russian opposition has now become so savage it has torn up its own rulebook. Russian dissidents struggling against Vladimir Putin used to be sure of two things. The security services would not shoot them and they would not come after their families. Not any more.

Vladimir Ashurkov is one of Russia’s most notable dissidents after Alexei Navalny – and his right-hand man. But he could not be more different from the moralists and street protesters that make up most of the opposition. Ashurkov was one of the country’s leading investment professionals: a well-off, successful, Western-educated top manager who switched to politics.

With soft-spoken manners and corporate efficiency, Ashurkov helped turn Navalny from a blogger into a national politician with a highly-professional team able to run for mayor of Moscow. Ashurkov brought two important assets to Navalny – one of the best policy minds in Moscow and elite respectability. With Ashurkov behind him, it was clear Navalny was a serious politician with a policy agenda discussed at the most moneyed tables in Moscow.

The Russian authorities are now out to get him, he says. But not only him. They are also trying to inflict pain on his family by persecuting his partner Alexandrina Markvo, a leading figure in the arts in Moscow, and mother of his nine-month-old baby – with a politically motivated case. “Russian authorities are trying to make an example of us,” says Ashurkov. “They want to punish me for supporting Navalny in a way that will discourage others from doing the same. That’s why they are not only coming after me. They are now coming after Alexandrina. This is new. The authorities never used to hunt down family members of its enemies. When Putin went after Mikhail Khodorkovsky he never touched his wife and children during his 10-year jail sentence. Khodorkovsky even thanked Putin for not touching them. But these rules are now over. The authorities are consistently increasing the degree of repression following the crisis in Ukraine and the economic decline of recent months. This is why they have already jailed Navalny’s brother, who was never involved in politics. Now they want to do the same to my partner.”


Greenwald and Snowden unavailable for comment, as usual
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