A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.
Producer Julia Phillips tells in her auto-biography that Cybill Shepherd had a hard time remembering her lines during the coffee-and-pie scene with Robert De Niro. She writes that De Niro in particular was getting fed up with her and that Phillips and editor Marcia Lucas laughed over all the unusable footage they had to work with in the editing room. Read the rest of this entry »
George Will writes: Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.
“Cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy.”
This is designed to prevent incendiary accidents, a topic of special interest during this month’s centennial commemorations of the beginning of a war that, ignited by miscalculations, ruined the 20th century. Greenert, chief of naval operations, has carrier-based aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to targets in Iraq. He is, however, always thinking about the far side of the largest ocean.
One hundred years ago, the principal challenge of world diplomacy, which failed spectacularly, was to peacefully integrate a rising, restless power — Germany — into the international system. Today’s comparable challenge is China. Greenert, who knows well his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, radiates a serene patience about China. Read the rest of this entry »
The Islamic State runs a self-sustaining economy across territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, pirating oil while exacting tribute from a population of at least eight million, Arab and Western officials said, making it one of the world’s richest terror groups and an unprecedented threat.
“Can you prevent ISIS from taking assets? Not really, because they’re sitting on a lot of assets already.”
That illicit economy presents a new picture of Islamic State’s financial underpinnings. The group was once thought to depend on funding from Arab Gulf donors and donations from the broader Muslim world. Now, Islamic State—the former branch of al Qaeda that has swallowed parts of Iraq and Syria—is a largely self-financed organization.
Money from outside donors “pales in comparison to their self-funding through criminal and terrorist activities,” a U.S. State Department official said, adding that those activities generate millions of dollars a month.
“So you must disrupt the network of trade. But if you disrupt trade in commodities like food, for example, then you risk starving thousands of civilians.”
For Western and Arab nations that are striving to stop Islamic State, the group’s local funding sources pose a conundrum: A clampdown on economic activity that helps fund the group, counterterrorism officials and experts said, could cause a humanitarian crisis in the already stressed areas it controls. Read the rest of this entry »
Grits with that Scone? If Britain were a U.S. State, it Would be the Second-Poorest, Behind Alabama and before MississippiPosted: August 27, 2014
The ranking, determined by Fraser Nelson, an editor of The Spectator magazine, was made by dividing the gross domestic product of each state by its population, and it took into account purchasing power parity for cost of living. Several other European countries were also included in the ranking.
“No one beats up America better than Americans.”
Ranking by GDP per capita instead of just GDP means that states with mega-economies such as California, which has the top GDP in the United States (its GDP is also larger than most countries’), was knocked down to 14th place among the states when divided by its more than 38 million residents. Alaska comes in first, with a GDP of more than $59 billion divided by a population of 735,000. Read the rest of this entry »
MILLIONS of TOMATOES Senselessly MURDERED in Streets of Spain at Tomatina Festival: Can Anyone Stop the Madness?Posted: August 27, 2014
MailOnline‘s Emily Payne reports: The streets of an eastern Spanish town were awash with red pulp today, as thousands of people pelted each other with tomatoes during Tomatina, world’s most famous food fight.
“The horror…the horror…”
At the annual fiesta in Bunol, trucks dumped 125 tons of ripe tomatoes for some 22,000 participants – many from abroad – to hurl at the hour-long morning festivities.
Every year, the fiesta begins at around 10am with what’s known as the palo jabon, in which brave revellers attempt to climb a greased pole to reach a ham, which has been placed at the top.
Then a loud signal begins the onslaught of tomato madness. Tons and tons of especially grown tomatoes are thrown into the town’s main plaza, where they’re crushed, so as not to cause injury.
The fight lasts an hour and covers the whole town square with red pulp. A large scale cleaning operation involving fire truck hoses ensues. Read the rest of this entry »
The Chicago Tribune reports: Global fashion chain Zara pulled from sale on Wednesday a striped children’s top decorated with a large six-pointed star after it was likened to uniforms worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates during the reign of Nazi Germany.
The shirt, bearing horizontal blue and white stripes, was on sale online in three European countries but not in Israel, a spokeswoman
said. The resemblance was unintentional and the design had been inspired by sheriff’s stars from classic Western films, she said.
Within hours of the t-shirt being put up for sale, some newspapers had picked up on its resemblance to concentration camp uniforms and messages were posted on Twitter criticizing the design.
“The shirt bears a large six-pointed star on the upper-left section, in the exact place where Nazis forced Jews to wear the Star of David,” wrote Israeli newspaper Haaretz, calling the garment “hauntingly reminiscent of a darker era”.
@n_rothschild We honestly apologize, it was inspired by the sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films and is no longer in our stores
— ZARA (@ZARA) August 27, 2014
On its website, Haaretz displayed a photograph of part of a uniform worn by prisoners at Auschwitz, showing a jacket with vertical green and white stripes and a yellow star below the left shoulder bearing the word “Jude”, the German word for Jew. Read the rest of this entry »
Dark Media: The Islamic State’s Online Branding Efforts Show that they’re Waging a War Beyond the Grounds of Iraq and SyriaPosted: August 27, 2014
The Islamic State’s online branding efforts show that they’re waging a war beyond the grounds of Iraq and Syria: http://t.co/XdM9AxuzYw
— WSJ Live (@WSJLive) August 27, 2014
“It really surprised me as to how mechanically complex a sax was and it did make me wonder as to whether the mechanisms could be simplified.”
– Olaf Diegel
While attending Euromold 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany, last December with a band playing 3D-printed instruments, Olaf Diegel was set a challenge by the head of 3D Systems, Avi Reichental. The Professor of product development at Lund University, Sweden was given the task of creating a 3D-printed working saxophone. The first ODD prototype was revealed last week in a short demonstration video, which you can see here.
For the latest addition to the 3D-printed band, Diegel used a traditional alto sax as a design template to match the various key spacings and mechanisms. He worked in SolidWorks CAD software to produce the STL files needed for printing the nylon blower on a selective laser sintering (SLS) printer. The process took around 6 months due to a move from New Zealand to Sweden and other projects that demanded his attention, and the working prototype is made up of 41 components, not including springs and screws. Read the rest of this entry »
Kate Martin reports: The Tacoma Police Department apparently has bought — and quietly used for six years — controversial surveillance equipment that can sweep up records of every cellphone call, text message and data transfer up to a half a mile away.
You don’t have to be a criminal to be caught in this snare. You just have to be near one and use a cellphone.
“They are essentially searching the homes of innocent Americans to find one phone used by one person.”
Known as Stingray, the device — small enough to be carried in a car — tricks cellphones into thinking it’s a cell tower and draws in their information.
“It’s like they’re kicking down the doors of 50 homes and searching 50 homes because they don’t know where the bad guy is.”
– Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union
News that the city was using the surveillance equipment surprised City Council members, who approved an update for a device last year, and prosecutors, defense attorneys and even judges, who in court deal with evidence gathered using the surveillance equipment. Read the rest of this entry »
They smiled too! pic.twitter.com/YUN6w5aObM
— Historical Pics (@HistoricalPics) August 27, 2014
George Will: The IRS is Cuckoo Bananas Off the Rails Criminally Insane and It Is Now Thoroughly CorruptedPosted: August 26, 2014
“The IRS is the most intrusive and potentially punitive institution of the federal government and it is a law-enforcement institution and it is off the rails and it is now thoroughly corrupted.”
– George Will
From The Corner:
On Tuesday’s Special Report, George Will reacted to the revelation that the IRS destroyed Lois Lerner’s BlackBerry without searching it, after a congressional investigation into her conduct had begun.
Will said he could hardly wait for IRS lawyers to show up in court and tell the judge it would be too onerous to stop obstructing justice in this case. Read the rest of this entry »
— Financial Times (@FT) August 27, 2014
Andy Tully writes: Oil and gas are at the heart of the Russian economy and are largely responsible for keeping Moscow’s government budget in balance. But the recent decline in the price of oil from the North Sea and Texas has now spread to Urals crude, giving President Vladimir Putin one more economic headache.
The price of Urals crude fell just below $100 per barrel on Aug. 18, an 18-month low. On Aug. 19, it dropped to less than $97 per barrel. These declines coincided with similar drops in the price of Brent crude from the North Sea and U.S. oil.
The reasons are fairly easy to recognize. First, the United States has been on a drilling tear, extracting oil at record levels to increase its supply at a time when demand is waning. Second, though more tentative, is that conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East are so far not interfering with oil production in these regions.
This oil production boom raises problems for Moscow. Two-thirds of Russia’s exports are oil and gas, accounting for fully half of the central government’s revenues. That means that so far this year, every dollar drop in the price of Russian oil means a cut of about $1.4 billion in revenues. Read the rest of this entry »
The unsinkable Representative Charles B. Rangel appeared on C-SPAN over the weekend. Why unsinkable? Well, in 2010 the House of Representatives censured the New York Democrat by a vote of 333 to 79 (when the body was still majority-Democratic) for violating 11 ethics rules and “bringing discredit to the House.” The New York Times called it a “staggering fall” for the senior Democrat. But fall/shmall, he’s since been reelected and will retire at his leisure.
While chatting with Brian Lamb, Rangel dropped a few falsehoods as casually as cigar ash. This isn’t to pick on Rangel; he’s just illustrative. His assertion — that the Republican and Democratic parties “changed sides” in the 1960s on civil rights, with white racists leaving the Democratic party to join the Republicans — has become conventional wisdom. It’s utterly false and should be rebutted at every opportunity.
It’s true that a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, shepherded the 1964 Civil Rights Act to passage. But who voted for it? Eighty percent of Republicans in the House voted aye, as against 61 percent of Democrats. In the Senate, 82 percent of Republicans favored the law, but only 69 percent of Democrats. Among the Democrats voting nay were Albert Gore Sr., Robert Byrd, and J. William Fulbright. Read the rest of this entry »
Originally posted on TIME:
There are a whole lot of things that won’t be happening anytime soon. Pigs flying, for instance; that won’t happen. All of the raindrops becoming lemon drops and gumdrops; that won’t happen either. And despite what you have been reading practically everywhere today, no, China won’t be deploying a submarine capable of moving at 6,100 mph (9,800 k/h) and covering the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes—at least not in anything remotely like the near future.
Let’s begin with the source of the story: engineer Li Fengchen, of the Harbin Institute of Technology, the project’s lead researcher. Mr. Li is surely an impeccably honest man and a very good engineer, but the Chinese government has not always covered itself in glory when it comes to candor and there’s no reason to believe they’d start with a program as sensitive as this.
“The idea that any Chinese research…
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