Police say a shooting at the annual ZombiCon gathering in Florida has left one person dead and five more injured, causing a chaotic scene that sent throngs of zombie-dressed revelers running through the streets.
The shooting happened around 11:45 p.m. Saturday night, just 15 minutes before the event officially ended. However, large crowds were still in the streets and authorities quickly cleared out nearby bars and set up crime scene tape, while others patrolled the area with rifles searching for a suspect.
Fort Myers Police Lt. Victor Medico said Expavious Tyrell Taylor, a 20-year-old who played football at a local junior college, died at the scene, but no other details about his death were released.
Four others were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and one additional victim refused medical attention, authorities said.
Authorities said the suspect or suspects is still at large and did not release any information about a possible motive.
“There were a lot of witnesses down here, there were a lot of people taking pictures, videos with their cellphone,” Medico told the News-Press. “Anything that could help with this investigation would be greatly appreciated.”
Police did not immediately return email and phone call messages on Sunday seeking additional details. Medico told reporters the agency had been inundated with national media requests and would not be making any comments “as we tirelessly investigate this incident and gather as many facts as possible.”
The annual festival had been expected to draw more than 20,000 fans dressed as zombies, the newspaper said. Medico said the scene was described as “shoulder to shoulder.” Read the rest of this entry »
Forget the White House’s doomsday talk about American intelligence going blind. Thanks to backdoor provisions and alternate collection schemes, U.S. spies will keep on snooping.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity.”
— President Obama, to reporters on Friday
That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that allows U.S. spy agencies to gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.
“It does seem to me at least reckless to not allow at least a temporary continuation of the bill while we have this debate. But that’s not the way it’s working, and unfortunately I think it’s part of the presidential campaign, and I think people have to judge it for themselves.”
— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
In other words, there’s a zombie Patriot Act—one that lives on, though the existing version is dead.
On Sunday night, senators voted overwhelmingly to end debate on a measure passed in the House, the USA Freedom Act, which will leave most surveillance authorities in the Patriot Act intact. But some of those powers won’t expire at least until Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Administration officials had warned that even a momentary interruption posed a grave risk.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday. On Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation that there’d “been a little too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have skewed the debate on this issue,” an apparent reference to Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, and his promise to force the law to expire, “but these tools are important to American lives.”
They may be. But they are far from the only tools in the counterterrorism arsenal, and though they are no longer law as of Monday, the United States still has plenty of authority to collect intelligence on jihadis and foreign spies.
For starters, there will be what’s left of the Patriot Act itself. Read the rest of this entry »
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Call it the new China Syndrome: Although Asia’s biggest economy is slowing down markedly, credit continues to surge. Dead-end projects and dying industries are sucking up an ever-larger portion of new credit, while more productive borrowers are starved for funds.
Nowhere is this more evident than in China’s shadow banking sector, the non-bank financiers that have pumped credit into the economy at a spectacular rate. Trust companies – firms that sell investment products to Chinese savers and use the proceeds to make loans or buy other types of assets – have posted the fastest growth.
A Reuters examination of proprietary data shows that as little as half of trust loans issued in 2012 were used to finance current economic activity, such as a new investment project or increased production at an existing factory.
The other half may have been used for refinancing old debt that funded past projects but is…
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By any observable metric, zombies are totally hot right now. Look at movies like “Warm Bodies” and the coming “World War Z,” the ratings for AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” (12.9 million viewers for its recent season finale) and $2.5 billion in annual sales for zombie videogames. Over the past decade, between a third and a half of all zombie movies ever made have been released. A glance at Google Trends reveals that in the past few years, interest in flesh-eating ghouls has far outstripped popular enthusiasm for vampires, wizards and hobbits.
Any species that invented duct tape, Twinkies and smartphones stands a fighting chance against the living dead.
Why are the living dead taking over our lives, and why have so many other domains of American culture, from architects to academics to departments of the federal government, been so eager to jump on this macabre bandwagon? Is it all just good, scary fun—or something we should worry about?
First we have to appreciate why zombies are so terrifying. The classic ghoul of George Romero films seems awfully slow and plodding. But what the living dead lack in speed, they make up for in other qualities. Zombies occupy what roboticists and animators call “the uncanny valley” in human perception—though decidedly not human, they are so close to being human that they prompt instant revulsion. Another common feature of zombie narratives is that 100% of the people bitten by zombies eventually turn into zombies. Even the most virulent pathogens encountered in the real world (say, Ebola or HIV) have infection rates below 50%.
These qualities matter because they map so neatly onto the genuine threats of our day. Zombies thrive in popular culture during times of recession, epidemic and general unhappiness. Traditional threats to U.S. security may have waned, but nontraditional threats assault us constantly. Concerns about terrorism have not abated since 9/11, and cyberattacks have now emerged as a new anxiety. Drug-resistant pandemics have been a staple of local news hysteria since the H1N1 virus swept the globe in 2009. Scientists continue to warn about the dangers that climate change poses to our planet. And if the financial crisis taught us anything, it is that contagion is endemic to the global market system.
Zombies are the perfect metaphor for these threats. As with pandemics and financial crises, they are not open to negotiation. As with terrorism in all its forms, even a small outbreak has the potential to wreak massive carnage.
A Pakistani protester died yesterday after inhaling smoke from a burning American flag during an anti-US rally.
Abdullah Ismail succumbed at Mayo Hospital in Lahore a day after attending the fierce protest at the city’s Mall Road, where an estimated 10,000 people rallied.
Witnesses said Ismail had complained of feeling ill after breathing fumes from burning flags, Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported…
Like wildfire across the internet, the debate over the great secret video of 2012 has conquered the media. Many are taking great offense at the notion that 47% of voters are either dependent on the government or support policies of dependency.
So what do the youth of America think? They don’t know. They’re too busy waiting to find out if Obama will pay off their debts in his fourth term.