lundi 31 août 2015

Should prostitution be illegal?

Yeah, this has probably been done before, but the issue is in the news in the U.S., so I thought it might be worth discussing again.

In the U.S., prostitution is usually handled by the states and local governments, not the Feds, but in this case, the Department of Homeland Security busted an internet site called that specializes in, well gay prostitution according to the Feds. They say they are merely an escort service I suppose, although I think everyone can see through that fig leaf. Now, the Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of 9/11 ostensibly to keep us safe from terrorists, not to crack down on gay prostitutes, so that's one objection. Another one might be: what social purpose does this actually serve?

How the Feds Took Down


Homeland Security agents came on Tuesday morning for the staff of, one of the oldest escort websites on the internet. They came to their Manhattan offices, reportedly removing computers. They came, a defense attorney told me, to their homes. Initial news reports claimed Rentboy staff were suspected of money laundering, but when charges came down, they were for "conspiring to violate the Travel Act," a 1961 law that historically has been used against interstate business enterprises.

Seven staff members were arrested.
It seems that "conspiring to violate the Travel Act"? is just a convenient law at hand to charge them with because they can't actually make a prostitution case stick.

Here are some objections to this crackdown:

The case against is pure moralism—and stupidity


Of course, the targeting of sex workers by law enforcement is nothing new. But as a few commentators have noticed, the rhetoric surrounding this particular moral crusade is different in tone to the attacks on sex work involving women. Amnesty International’s call this month to decriminalize all forms of adult, consensual sex work highlights the ways criminalization threatens the livelihood, autonomy, safety and rights of sex workers. Whereas female sex workers are perennially framed as necessarily victims, trafficked or damaged, the complaints against Rentboy paint a picture of seedy criminals. The arrestees are described as running a multimillion dollar “racket” and a “global criminal enterprise.” As Jamie Peck pointed out for Death and Taxes, “when men trade sex for money, it’s a matter of mere criminality and tax evasion, not a ‘you need to be rescued’ situation.”

Recognizing this double standard highlights the shaky logic on which sex work criminalization rests. The justification for it shifts and contradicts itself: either sex workers are incapable of being autonomous, consenting agents (as in the argument for shutting down, or, as in the Rentboy case, sex workers are so agential that they’re cunningly criminal. Any argument will do in the moralistic assault on sex work.

And the authorities certainly threw ample resources and time into the Rentboy case. DHS even sent an agent undercover to the the Hookies—an annual event to celebrate gay male performers and escorts, hosted by Rentboy.

We Should All Be Outraged by the Bust


The arguments against legalizing prostitution tend to be specious, moralistic, condescending, and inane. Opponents of legal prostitution understand that they can no longer pitch their argument in terms of protecting women from their own bad decisions without sounding paternalistic. So instead, they argue that prostitution must be criminalized to protect women from exploitation by others—namely, pimps and traffickers.

This justification has its problems. Legalizing prostitution may actually protect women from violence, and criminalizing it does not seem to stanch the flow of trafficked women. (That’s one reason why Amnesty International has called for the decriminalization of sex work.) In fact, even supposedly more compassionate models of criminalization—like targeting only johns—still leads to police harassment and endangerment of prostitutes.
So those are people who think it should be decriminalized. What about the other side? Well, here's one site I came across in looking at this topic:
Psychologists for Social Responsibility
Let's see what they say:

Prostitution is an institution akin to slavery, one so intrinsically discriminatory and abusive that it cannot be fixed--only abolished. At the same time, its root causes must be eradicated as well: sex inequality, racism and colonialism, poverty, prostitution tourism, and economic development that destroys traditional ways of living. The conditions that make genuine consent possible are absent from prostitution: physical safety, equal power with johns and pimps, and real alternatives. It is a cruel lie to suggest that decriminalization or legalization will protect anyone in prostitution. Until it is understood that prostitution and trafficking can appear voluntary but are not in reality free choices made from a range of options, it will be difficult to garner adequate support to assist those who wish to escape but have no other choices. Enforcement of international agreements challenging trafficking and prostitution can aid in this effort as can laws challenging men’s purchase of sex.
I think it's interesting here that they say both "poverty" and "economic development" should be "eradicated". They don't want people to be poor, but they are also against economic development. How does that work?

They also cite "colonialism", something from a previous era and suggest that economic development is bad because it destroys "traditional ways of living". What exactly were those "traditional ways of living" anyway? Were women freer somehow, or subject to less violence under "traditional ways of living"? This notion seems to smack of romantic primitivism, of the noble savage idea that "traditional ways of living" were somehow superior or more respectful of human rights than modern ways. And if prostitution is indeed "the oldest profession", that would suggest that it existed also under the "traditional ways of living".

Further, they deny that this can ever be a free choice on the part of the prostitute (sex worker is a better word), and yet there are people out there who actually are sex workers who say that just isn't true. I grant that it isn't always a free choice, because I think we need to be realistic. I think that someone who says that it's never a free choice and someone who says that it is always a free choice are equally wrong.

I think the question that should be asked but usually isn't is, "does making prostitution illegal actually solve any of the problems it hopes to solve?" Does making it illegal actually make things any better for the supposed "victims"? For people who say they are evading taxes, that is merely an inevitable consequence of the fact that it is illegal in the first place. Make it legal and they could start to pay income tax.

via International Skeptics Forum

Weird spoof email

Let's suppose MrsB has the first name Vera, and she has a distant friend called Carol Clark, who she hasn't heard from for some years, but both are in each other's address books we assume.

So VeraB gets an email from, with a generic message signed 'Love' and a suggestion that she click the embedded links.

This goes straight to MrsB's junk mail box in Hotmail, and she spots it but is well-trained enough not to click the links.

I contact Carol via FB, warning that *it seems* her address book might have been harvested for contacts, and wondering whether she might have a virus and that maybe it's wise to do a full scan.

Carol replies that the source email address is not one of hers at all, and she's pretty firm about that.

How did that work? How were people in Carol's (?) address book targeted with a source name that's known to the recipient, unless Carol's address book was raided?

late thought: was MrsB's address book raided to generate plausible names for virus-ridden emails for MrsB to click? Is this whole post "debugging by confession"? :)

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Tallest mountain in USA gets name back.

President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, using his executive power to restore an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America.

Denali’s name has long been seen as one such slight, regarded as an example of cultural imperialism in which a Native American name with historical roots was replaced by an American one having little to do with the place.
Not everyone is happy though.

Ohio politicians reacted angrily, although it wasn't immediately clear if or how they could stop it. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said McKinley deserved to be honored, and invited his colleagues to join him to try to block what he called Obama's "constitutional overreach."

"This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action," Gibbs said.
Insulting to all Ohioans? :) Not likely.

How long until Mount Rainier is "renamed" to the original Mount Tacoma?


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The official report in the news that supposedly advises police to consult psychics

Did a New Official UK Report Really Say That Police Should Consult Psychics?

August 31, 2015

It would certainly seem so, judging by newspaper coverage of the UK College of Policing draft report proposing new standards for police.

FBI consultant and former TV psychic Patrick Jane suspects a psychic tipster is really the murderer on The Mentalist series finale

The Independent in the UK ran the initial story with the headline “Detectives investigating missing persons cases ‘should consider the advice of psychics’, says College of Policing.” The opening sentence read “Detectives investigating missing persons cases should consider tips from people claiming to have supernatural abilities, according to new proposals from the College of Policing.”

That certainly sounds like the College wants detectives thinking, Hmm, forget Sherlock, I’d better send for psychics to get the expert help I need on this tough case! The paper goes so far as to report that experts want psychics taken seriously — as long as there’s no financial conflict of interest: “Before taking clairvoyants seriously, ‘the motive of the individual should always be ascertained, especially where financial gain is included.’”

So, the message is that the College is totally into psychic vibes, right? Yes, the rest of the article contains some fuzzy language and caveats, but you know how little attention those will get.

Other newspapers got the memo, and dutifully followed suit. The UK Telegraph‘s headline was “Psychics’ help finding missing people should not be ruled out, police officers told.” The Belfast Telegraph‘s was “Help of psychics should be evaluated in missing people cases: Police guidance.”

The Washington Times editors said to hell with any ambiguity, let’s make this thing perfectly clear. Their headline: British police advised to consult psychics in missing person cases: report. Yes, the police are to actively seek out psychics and enlist their help, according to that worse-than-worthless rag:
British law enforcement are now being advised to seek the help of clairvoyants when investigating a missing person case.
A new proposal from the College of Policing advises law enforcement to consult people claiming to have supernatural abilities, The Independent reported.”
There’s only one problem: it’s all wrong...

[The full article:Did a New Official UK Report Really Say That Police Should Consult Psychics?]

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The BEST conspiracy theory ever....!!!!

Honest, I saw someone make this claim, in all seriousness, this last weekend.


The term 'conspiracy theorist' was created by government to discredit people who were out to expose them and the truth..!!
IOW, the term "Conspiracy theorist" is the result of a conspiracy!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is classic.

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Woman allergic to mobile phones wins disability grant

French Madness:

A woman has been given disability a grant, because she is allergic to Wi-Fi.

I know just the kind of people who are going to storm the courts after this!

(I'm not sure if "electromagnetic hypersensitivity" belongs here or under "general skepticism"?)

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Kanye West announces plan to run for presidency... 2020 (or else I'd have placed this in the 2016 sub-forum). In fact, this may belong in the humor forum. About all I know of him (and his wife) is what I learned watching South Park.

Here is the story:

ETA: Damnit! The Scrut beat me to it by 3 minutes. Mods, please delete this. I lose.

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Kanye West In 2020

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process used to detect a single atom

Please can someone explain the precise process used to detect a single atom passing through 1 of the slits in the 2 slits experiment.

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dimanche 30 août 2015

Wayne Dyer, fraud and shyster finally died

I read the news today oh boy,
it seems an ******* died but it's ok,
He cheated, lied and stole, but say
At swindling he was fine & ********** the FDA.

Yes, it is true, Wayne Dyer has gone to meet his Faker!! Just technically yesterday .............. Almost wish religion was true - to see him burning in hell with his like.

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Why has the education gap between black and whites not gone down

Keeping that iq differences are bull:
It is a stumper.

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AHA! Ford DID believe he'd sell more cars by paying his employees better!


But Ford had an even bigger reason for raising his wages, which he noted in a 1926 book, Today and Tomorrow. It’s as a challenging a statement today as it as 100 years ago. “The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers.”

It might have been just another of Ford’s wild ideas, except that it proved successful. In 1914, the company sold 308,000 of its Model Ts—more than all other carmakers combined. By 1915, sales had climbed to 501,000. By 1920, Ford was selling a million cars a year.

We increased the buying power of our own people, and they increased the buying power of other people, and so on and on,” Ford wrote. “It is this thought of enlarging buying power by paying high wages and selling at low prices that is behind the prosperity of this country.”

via International Skeptics Forum

Kkrieger, a forgotten FPS tech demo.

While poking around on several various old thumb drives, flash drives, external hard drives and other media in yet another vain and doomed to failure attempt to organize the massive disorganized clusterfart that is my digital storage philosophy, I came across something I want to talk about.

It's called .Kkrieger. It's a short tech demo for a first person shooter. It's nothing overly special, you can play the whole thing in ten minutes, you walk through some hallways, shoot some monsters, walk up some stairs, pick up a few new guns... that sorta thing. It's decent looking now and was downright gorgeous back in 2004 when it was released and the lighting still holds up.

So why am I bringing it up?

Because of the size of the executable. It's 96 kilobytes. No not Megabytes, kilobytes. The entire game is literally smaller than the screenshot I just posted. You could fit this game on a floppy. It's smaller than Wolfenstein 3d.

Apparently the developer, Farbrausch, used various compression and real time procedural generating techniques to essentially have the game create textures and models on the fly.

Weird thing is .kkrieger was released, got some accolades and... nothing. The official website has been offline for years and the developer hasn't been heard of in a while either.

It's just a concept I wonder why has never been revisted. You figure mobile gaming companies would jump on this sort of technique.

As best as I can recall I got my copy off of a bundled demo CD with a computer magazine way back when that was still a thing, but it's was released as freeware and it still found floating around on plenty of download sites and with a little tweaking it ran just fine on my current PC running Windows 10.

No real reason for this thread, just an interesting little tidbit from the past I happened to run across and wanted to share.

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Can somebody explain dog brain cancer statistics to me?

I don't know if we still have vets posting on this forum. I am looking for fairly expert opinion - I can google the typical advice. I really don't want a sympathy fest here, it'll just make me feel worse. I'll keep this post clinical.

Brain tumor on the brain stem, imaged with MRI. Doctor found it 'startlingly' large. Dog has head tilt, can't really climb up on couch, limbs are both weak and unsteady, appetite loss, but none of the later stage symptoms. Cycles between pure sadness and some life/play. Not the same dog she used to be, though personality really shined through yesterday. Today less so.

Doctor said location in brain stem pretty much makes it inoperable. He was very obviously trying to steer us away from it. Traditional radiation or gamma knife was suggested. We are near enough a facility (UC Davis) that gamma knife is a possibility. Even with that he questioned whether it could be targeted.

He said there was not enough data to give efficacy stats on the latter, but he thought it was in line with normal radiation, it just offers quicker administration and possibly fewer side effects. currently on prednisone, and have seen marked improvement, but may be random, has only been a few days.

He said with that we'd get maybe nine months. He hedged to 12, but then seemed to back away from that pretty quickly. Based on all the reading, and the tumor size, I assume our case is worse than average.

The question - what do these #s mean? Is that median? Absolute outside (count yourself frigging lucky if you get 10 months)? How many cases 'go bad'? I'm trying to balance palliative (2-4 months) vs radiation vs quality of life. You know, if 9 months was median, 50% will live less than that. Take a month away for treatment, you maybe ain't really buying much time. But if most that don't make it 9 months make it 7-8, well, that is buying something. You get my drift. I also don't have a feel for the quality of life with palliative care, but fear we may just have a few weeks of normal 'ish' quality before things turn dark. That again would argue for treatment.

Yes, I should have asked these questions to the doctor, but it is hard to think in the moment. No, I guess you can't really tell me what to do without seeing the history and imaging. But I'm reading paper after paper and it just raises questions instead of answering them. Maybe this thread will give me some insight into what to read or what to ask.

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What's the link between Tesla and Woo?

I hope this is the best place to put this.

I (somewhat masochistically) enjoy listening to "What in the World?" on a Canadian Sirius Radio channel. I guess it can be described as the Canadian version of "Coast to Coast". The host, Richard Garner, is the most credulous radio personality one could ever meet. No idea or comment is too stupid or insane for serious consideration.

Today's show was on Nikola Tesla and something called "Tesla Science". Now I only have a Wiki level knowledge of Tesla. I know he had a talent for showmanship and at one point he allegedly thought he was talking to aliens. However, the Woo delivered on this show went from the lost esoteric knowledge of ancient cultures, to the "inner eye" of the pineal gland, to Tesla opening up doorways to alternate dimensions at his Colorado Springs facility.

Somehow, all three of these topics were intimately related and bound together by a dense word salad that was impenetrable to me. I must admit that this is part of the fun in listening.

OK, so why is there a Woo cult of Tesla, but none for Edison? Edison also had interesting personality quirks, but I just don't see the same level of wackiness. Any thoughts?

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A USA/Canada wall now "a legitimate issue"

Can't see this mentioned elsewhere here, but it seems that GOP candidate Scott Walker considers a security wall between the countries as “a legitimate issue for us to look at”.

A bit of trivia at the back of my mind says that it's the longest land border on the planet. Or is that Russia/China?

Where does Walker rate on the GOP "candidate insanity" ratings?

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Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author, has died

Oliver Sacks, who I remember best for "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", had died at age 83.

From Thompson Reuters, reported by the CBC:

Dr. Oliver Sacks, the neurologist who studied the intricacies of the brain and wrote eloquently about them in books such as Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, died on Sunday at the age of 82, the New York Times reported.

The British-born Sacks, who announced in February 2015 that he had terminal liver cancer, died at his home in New York City, his longtime personal assistant Kate Edgar told the Times.
He was a remarkable clinician and author. I've heard him interviewed more than once on CBC Radio, on both the science program Quirks and Quarks and on the public affairs program Sunday Morning. He will be missed.

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UK- Tories want to rewrite EU immigration laws

Theresa May wants to change EU law so that you can only move to a new country within the EU if you already have a job in that country.

She claims that it's the original intent of the legislation but I disagree, it was all about allowing people to move to find jobs.

If you have to have a job to be allowed to move, does this mean we'll have a massive influx of retired people to the UK whilst at the same time losing a good chunk of our flexible labour market ?

Does this mean that someone from the EU who has held a job in the UK will be deported it they lose their job ? This doesn't seem very practical but then again perhaps this is just the government pandering to xenophobes safe it the knowledge that the economically damaging consequences of the proclamation will not come to pass.

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samedi 29 août 2015

Stake in the heart of hydrocarbon fuel

Been following this for a while ....


Artificial leaf harnesses sunlight for efficient fuel production
Date: August 28, 2015
Source: California Institute of Technology
A new solar fuel generation system, or artificial leaf, safely creates fuel from sunlight and water with record-setting efficiency and stability.



A monolithically integrated, intrinsically safe, 10% efficient, solar-driven water-splitting system based on active, stable earth-abundant electrocatalysts in conjunction with tandem III–V light absorbers protected by amorphous TiO2films. Energy Environ. Sci., 2015; DOI: 10.1039/C5EE01786F

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The "28 pages" thread

I don't see that we have a thread dedicated to the infamous "28 pages".

Some truthers have set up a pretty good page about this:

What's it all about? From the website's FAQ:

Originally Posted by
Q: Who wrote the 28 pages and where are they found, exactly?

A: The 28 pages are an entire section within the official report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (not the 9/11 Commission Report). The joint inquiry was a collaborative undertaking of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and its report was published in December 2002. The redacted section, titled “Part 4: Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters,” begins on page 395 of the report.


Q: What countries are implicated in the report?

A: According to former Senator Bob Graham, “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier.”

There are two current legislative initiatives in Congress, each sponsored by a handful of Congressmen:
House Resolution 14
Senate Bill 1471

My personal take on this issue is that the content of the 28 pages may well be "interesting". It may well no longer compromise "national security" (if indeed it ever did), and I am all for declassifying such stuff.
Many truthers want them declassified too.
Which is strange, as, apparently, the story is that Saudi individuals helped finance a group of 19 terrorists, most of them Saudis, hell-bent on learning how to fly so they could pilot hijacked airliners into 4 iconic targets, for the praise of Allah. I.o.w. a footnote supporting the "official" story.
Other truthers are already calling this (the current drive to release these pages) a limited hang-out, a distraction away from the real perps (Israel - who else :rolleyes: ) and a means to rein in a Saudi leadership alleged to break free from their NWO overlords.

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Dishonest Polling and the News Media Plays Along

I just got one of those political survey calls and I wasn't doing anything so I decided to play along. After a slew of more general questions then came the real reason for the poll:

Will these things make you more or less likely to vote for candidate X:

She worked across the isle.
She accomplished [fill in the blank]
She did all that and lowered taxes.
She's endorsed by [fill in the blank]

Will these things make you more or less likely to vote for candidate Y:

She oversaw the problem plagued county jail.
She doubled property taxes (it's not even true).
Her votes have been strictly partisan.

At that point I stopped the survey.

One, is it just a campaign call in disguise? Probably partially.
Two, is it a survey candidate X plans to claim the majority of those polled have a positive view of her and a negative view of candidate Y? Most certainly.

And of course, my not wanting to continue leaves them with a slanted sample.

It's not only a dishonest poll, the poll itself is 'laundered' through a national call center that one pays to conduct the poll and isn't allowed to say who commissioned the poll.

Is this anything new? Of course not.

Does it have implications for the constant poll reports that voters find Clinton not trustworthy? Most certainly.

The news media needs to call that crap out. So far I've only heard one mention of the fact only negative poll questions on Clinton are being reported.

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Why can't the GOP get the black vote?

A lot of people wonder why the GOP can't get the black vote.

Not just a majority, but even just 1/3rd.

The answer is simple: to many racists in the GOP, and to much racism espoused by the GOP.

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Beheadings in Saudi Arabia

I am watching RT (russian television) and under a new ruler, the 100th beheading for this calendar year has just occurred in Saudi Arabia. Of course republicans will be very happy, but what does Hillary Clinton think?

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some food tasting bitter

lately I have noticed, on a couple of occasions, food tasting unexpectedly and profoundly bitter.
On all occasions it has been meat cooked in metal pans. the first occasion was while roasting lamb, dipping the bread into the yummy juices and it was unbelievably bitter... I suspected the dish washer hadn't removed the cleaner properly during it's rinse cycle but the other person who are the meal couldn't taste it.
it happened again tonight, after cooking chops with French onion soup powder and mushroom soup, in a metal pan. Now you wouldn't consider them inherently bitter and again it was very bitter.
I'm starting to suspect some sort of chemical reaction that I'm tasting.
my other suspicion is a side effect of the only medication I'm on, perindo...
any ideas?

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Chances of world war 3

What are the chances of it happening in the next 10 years?

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College Campus Police State - UTENN & Pronouns

Why do progressives try to ban words? Why spend so much of your time trying to control personal behavior like what you say in your private life because what's the point?

I think stories like this tell us a lot about the liberal mindset. They are obsessed with control because all they really want is to craft society and create a utopia in their image. That is their motivation.

Things like words, that are really nothing more than ideas based on human interaction which gain meaning over time, become nonexistant in the liberal world.

The very idea of a person defining words for themselves is abhorrent to the Progressive because it takes away power from the state.

So what do they do? Ban words.

The end result is a police state

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vendredi 28 août 2015

"Paranormal" Videos

So, there is this person on another board posting some "paranormal" videos. Things like vanishing from a car while driving, door opening on it's own, and some other things. I absolutely think this is all being staged for her Youtube channel. I just wanted to get ideas about how some of this is faked.

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Windows Store

I have a bad taste in my mouth since Windows 8.

What's in Windows store that I care about?

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The mechanics of desertion

For an upcoming Deadlands game the players are going to start as Union deserters, running from a particularly nasty battle which was called off on account of Gloms.* However, I realize I know almost nothing about how losing battles or desertion actually works, aside from the obvious "running away and not coming back."

Historically speaking, battles are won when one side or the other turns tail and runs. How does the losing side reform again? Were the troops given a rallying point to meet up at in case of being facerolled? When some individuals zigged instead of zagged and got separated (or ran away of their own accord), was there a protocol for rejoining their company, or was it a guaranteed court martial *cough*execution for cowardice?

What happened to their supplies; bedrolls and tents and such - surely the footsoldiers wouldn't carry it all with them?

Further, how were deserters identified? Could a handful of soldiers peel off, find some work clothes and easily pose as civilians? If they were to be "made" as deserting soldiers by some podunk sheriff, what would the usual process be?

*Zombies that attach other corpses to themselves to form foetid conglomerations of limbs and weaponry, all plentiful on the battlefield.

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Bipolar kid dies in prison after 4 months without bail, for $5 grocery theft

Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, had been held in Virginia jail without bail for nearly four months, accused of stealing a Mountain Dew, Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake. The Guardian

There might be a back story, so usual caveats apply.

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Russell Wilson Taughts Benefits of Miracle Water

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has invested in a new $3.00 a bottle "miracle water" that can allegedly either cure injuries or prevent them. This is from the website,


Scientists from a Tacoma, WA-based biotech company have developed Recovery Water using a special electro-kinetically modified process. In this process, Recovery Water is infused with charged nano-structures, which are proven safe to consume and highly effective in promoting healthy cells.

Our scientists have effectively enhanced the water without changing the natural, healthy properties of it. Recovery Water tastes, looks and hydrates just like water but also improves the body’s natural recovery process.
link to website

And here is a link to Mr. Wilson's statements via


“I banged my head during the Packers game in the playoffs, and the next day I was fine,” says Wilson. “It was the water.”

Rodgers offers a hasty interjection. “Well, we’re not saying we have real medical proof.”

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Energy/Hologram sport bracelets

I am a runner and I have seen interest expressed by online friends about "energy bracelets" or "hologram bracelets" which used to be marketed by Power Balance and now (in Europe) are also sold by Mojo Future Tech. I am aware that Power Balance was required some years ago to remove their earlier claims of efficacy.

Anyone aware of any decent debunking resources? Thanks

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Bring out your dead - another plague death in the USA.

Expect the panic to begin soon, assuming there's a break in the media coverage of the US elections.
It's the fourth death in the USA (as far as is known) this year, out of fifteen notified cases so far, a spike in the recent annual average (seven per year). However four deaths is unusual, there have only been eight deaths from y. pestis since 2000.
The disease is still endemic to large tracts of the US west and south west with a natural reservoir in mammals such as prairie dogs and other rodents.

Guardian story.

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Experimental loophole-free violation of a Bell inequality using entangled electron..

I found this:


For more than 80 years, the counterintuitive predictions of quantum theory have stimulated debate about the nature of reality. In his seminal work, John Bell proved that no theory of nature that obeys locality and realism can reproduce all the predictions of quantum theory. Bell showed that in any local realist theory the correlations between distant measurements satisfy an inequality and, moreover, that this inequality can be violated according to quantum theory. This provided a recipe for experimental tests of the fundamental principles underlying the laws of nature. In the past decades, numerous ingenious Bell inequality tests have been reported. However, because of experimental limitations, all experiments to date required additional assumptions to obtain a contradiction with local realism, resulting in loopholes. Here we report on a Bell experiment that is free of any such additional assumption and thus directly tests the principles underlying Bell's inequality. We employ an event-ready scheme that enables the generation of high-fidelity entanglement between distant electron spins. Efficient spin readout avoids the fair sampling assumption (detection loophole), while the use of fast random basis selection and readout combined with a spatial separation of 1.3 km ensure the required locality conditions. We perform 245 trials testing the CHSH-Bell inequality S≤2 and find S=2.42±0.20. A null hypothesis test yields a probability of p=0.039 that a local-realist model for space-like separated sites produces data with a violation at least as large as observed, even when allowing for memory in the devices. This result rules out large classes of local realist theories, and paves the way for implementing device-independent quantum-secure communication and randomness certification.
Taken from:

The whole paper is here:

I have no problem with these kind of experiments but some believers are already making claims like this which I think is false:


Originally Posted by Neil
Bump for this paper.

It's impressive how every single prediction of quantum theory has been demonstrated empirically so far, and those predictions go directly against the normal view of the world.

Taken from:

So I want to know what you people think of it because I am not a expert in Quantum Mechanics but I think that what some people claim about Quantum Mechanics, like the statement above is wrong. So I want to know what you people think of it and what you think about that experiment. Thanks for reading this and I wish you a nice day.

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jeudi 27 août 2015

Flight 175 still in the air after crashing

So a Truther brought this claim up to me that Flight 175 was supposedly by Stewart Airforce Base 15-20 minutes after crashing.

Upon using google to further look into this claim for the information to refute it (which normally takes only a few minutes) I made an interesting discovery.

Watch carefully at 3:03. The anchorman is saying that the markers represent planes in the air and as he hovers over one it says UAL 175.

So, I'm turning this over to you guys. Please explain because I have no clue and this is the best place I know of to get an intelligent answer instead of Truther BS.

via International Skeptics Forum

Duggar family used code words for sex.

Seems they felt uncomfortable calling it by common vernacular so they used their own code.
Joe Bob calles it Poontang.
Michelle, ever the bashful one, will say,"follow the echo into my ampitheater".
The rest of the family uses code also. I'm still doing research to nail all of them down.
Jenna uses Nail.

via International Skeptics Forum

Who has more influence on politics through donations.

People keep telling me Jews...but then I read this:

One only needs to look at dominionists...

via International Skeptics Forum

Carl Sagan's Contact -- Ellie Arroway the UFO Contactee?

I remember reading the novel long ago. However, a part of it soured me on it, and for that reason, I have not seen the movie version.

When Ellie Arroway and her fellow wormhole travelers finish their extraterrestrial journey, all the physical evidence of that journey got erased -- all the videotapes that they had used to record their travels. So they were left with their memories, and everybody else was dependent on their assertions. From Contact (novel)WP, "Ellie finds herself asking the world to take a leap of faith and believe what she and the others say happened to them."

That's what I didn't like -- the destruction of the evidence, destruction that seemed very contrived to me.

Even worse, she had only the same kind of evidence as UFO contactees do of their contacts and travels. How was she much different from George Adamski or Billy Meier? She also seemed to have some spiritual awakening, something else like a UFO contactee. She was thus like this bit from Carl Sagan's book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark:

Occasionally, I get a letter from someone who is in “contact” with extraterrestrials. I am invited to “ask them anything.” And so over the years I’ve prepared a little list of questions. The extraterrestrials are very advanced, remember. So I ask things like, “Please provide a short proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.” Or the Goldbach Conjecture. And then I have to explain what these are, because extraterrestrials will not call it Fermat’s Last Theorem. So I write out the simple equation with the exponents. I never get an answer. On the other hand, if I ask something like “Should we be good?” I almost always get an answer.
Did Carl Sagan himself ever see the connection? He himself had once run into a UFO contactee early in his career, and he disdained UFO contactees from then onward, if not before.

I would have preferred a take on Carl Sagan's own dictum, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." I would have said something like:

"It looks like I am left with only my memories of the trip. I am very disappointed with that, because my adventures in the wormholes were very extraordinary events, and I would like to have had something in addition to my memories.

Here is why. If I claimed that I had a cat with me, you would all believe me unless you saw me without a cat. This is because there is nothing unusual about having a cat. If I claimed that I had a lion with me, you would ask to see it or something like that. That is because it is much more unusual to have a lion. If I claimed that I had a sabertooth with me, you would ask if I am serious, because the last sabertooth died about 10,000 years ago.

My interstellar adventures were much more like the lion or the sabertooth rather than like the cat. You may well think that they are figments of my imagination in some way or another. Because of the erasure of the tapes, I am very disappointed that I have no way to demonstrate otherwise."

via International Skeptics Forum

Are home-schoolers crazier than anti-vaxxers?

I've never paid much attention to the issue of home-schooling. But a Slate article makes the point that "home-schooling" is subject to almost no regulation in many states, and limited regulation in most others. Interestingly, home-schoolers have a lobbying organization that makes the NRA look like a gaggle of little girls. Home-schoolers have sent death threats to legislators who want to do things like require home-schooled kids to demonstrate educational progress. And apparently the home-school movement is a relatively recent development. Until the 1980s, home-schooling (meaning keeping kids out of school) wasn't even permitted in most states. The article makes the point that parents who are suspected of abusing their kids are free to pull them out of school, where they at least can be monitored, under the guise of "home-schooling." So, are home-schoolers just parents who want control of their kids' education, or raging loons who oppose the idea of education?

via International Skeptics Forum

Consumer Reports - Best Car Ever

Today "Consumer Reports" published its review of the electric Tesla Model S P85D. They say it's the best car they ever tested and the only one ever rated 100. To actually accommodate the extraordinary technological features of the car, they say they would have to expand their 100-point rating system to give it a 103.

1.7-minute review:

via International Skeptics Forum

Possible problems for the Don in NC and VA

There are reports from NC and VA that the state delegates who stand up at the convention and say, "The great state of North Carolina pledges its 29 delegates to the next president of the United States...." won't pledge anything to Trump.

The parties in both states are kicking around the idea of putting in a stipulation of, "We won't pledge our delegates to anyone who will not promise not to run as a 3rd party - and not support the nominee of the Republican party."

So, basically, they are saying, "We won't pledge our delegates to Trump"

via International Skeptics Forum

Good Episode at Rationally Speaking on Reason

Excellent podcast challenging the standard notion (and one I think many skeptics have adopted) that reason functions as a pathway to truth. I think it explains many of the conversations on the forum, with reason used as a tool to bolster preexisting prejudices or emotionally-arrived-at positions.

via International Skeptics Forum

mercredi 26 août 2015

What's happening with JREF these days?

The JREF home page was last updated 7/9. Swift was last updated 3/26. The entire staff seems to consist of Sharon Hill, Randi himself having retired. Or is he dead and now rolling in his grave as a result of the recent "disclosing of secrets" change here?

I admire JR a great deal. The problems in the organization the last year or two are upsetting. Can anyone give us the an update on what's going on?

via International Skeptics Forum

Gay Black Man Murders Two White People - Media Is Silent

A Gay Black man murders 2 white people because he thought they discriminated against him

Should we blame the #blacklivesmatters for the militant hate speech or do we blame guns? Well we already know what the media's narrative is.

Gunman's racially charged suicide note talks about killing white people, starting a race war.

via International Skeptics Forum

Does this mean he will be buried at the prison?

James Holmes gets a really, really, really long sentence.....


The man who unleashed a murderous attack on a packed Colorado movie theater was ordered Wednesday to serve life in prison without parole plus 3,318 years — the maximum allowed by law
Sounds like the "plus" is after life......................:boxedin:

via International Skeptics Forum

Prevagen memory pill

I saw a television commercial for this "supplement" yesterday. It claimed that Prevegan was "clinically proven to improve memory"!
Being of a certain age and forgetfulness, I decided to investigate further.
Their website claims, "After over 15 years of research, we know Prevagen works to improve memory."

Also: "Prevagen can improve memory*"

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The compound is a jellyfish protein called apoaequorin which the company manufactures in bacteria using recombinant DNA technology. They isolate the recombinant protein and mix it with rice flour in a gelatin capsule, then sell it for $37 a bottle.
Does it work, you ask? Is it safe? What does "clinically proven" mean? How does it work?
Their website provides answers!

"How does Prevagen® work?
Laboratory research has demonstrated that Prevagen® has powerful cell supporting activity by providing a protein originally found in jellyfish."
OK that makes NO sense to me!

"View our research and studies on Prevagen®"
They offer three studies, two are open label studies where the subjects all report that their memory is better while taking the pills!
Those are basically useless propaganda.
The third is a randomized double blind study. Unfortunately the study is not published anywhere I can find, except as a meeting abstract, and on the website. The webpage will not permit me to cut and paste the charts or text, so I'll point out its flaws (well, some of them) which probably prevent its being published in a reputable journal.
They randomly assigned 218 people to take the pill or not. Controls took identical looking pills containing no prevagen. The people were tested on some memory tasks. The results are quantitified and statistically analysed.
The first line of the results section is:
"There was not a significant change over time when looking at the complete study sample on the GML. However..."
They show a graph which in fact shows improvement in both placebo and treatment arms! The 90 day mark for the treatment group is marked with a red dot as significant! Great, it actually WORKS!!??
Actually, NO, the significant difference is between scores IN THE TREATMENT ARM, before and after PRACTICE!
I could go on about the statistical manipulations they are going through to produce a significance 'dot" on their charts, but basically they have massaged the data to make it look significant when it is not.

As for safety,

Interestingly the safety is based on this :
"Apoaequorin is easily digested by pepsin, a characteristic commonly exhibited by many non-allergenic dietary proteins."

So their own safety study claims that the protein is easily digested in the stomach!

Then I found this:

and this:

Snake oil, indeed. Filthy liars peddling bul*****, I say.

via International Skeptics Forum

Amygdala > Brain Theories > Joseph Ledoux "We've got fear wrong, my bad"


Joseph LeDoux is worried. The prominent cognitive neuropsychologist feels his field is at an “impasse.” He takes some of the blame: His own “work and writings,” he confesses, “are in part responsible for these misconceptions” about the workings of fear in the brain. He wants to “straighten out the story before it goes further off track.”

Could there have been ethical lapses or technical failures or maybe oversold theories about the role of the amygdala or brain neurotransmitters? And, if so, what would be the impact on how we understand, experience, diagnose and treat anxiety disorders?

“After 30 years,” he said in an interview a few years ago, “I’ve decided that I haven’t been studying fear or emotion at all. This is an issue within the field . . . I’m not studying feeling. I’m studying the way the rat brain detects and responds to danger.” Jumping around and squealing and defecating and cowering—rat reactions to pain—tell us nothing about what the rodent is experiencing. Nor do they tell us how interventions that change rat behavior might affect what human beings experience in scary circumstances.


“Joseph LeDoux [is] the William James of our era. . . . This marvelous book is science at its best. It traces the evolution of a key set of scientific insights based on progressively better empirical data, most of these derived from LeDoux’s brilliant studies, and applies these new insights to a family of clinically important phenomenon. Anxious is an absolute must read for clinicians and basic scientists as well as for anyone else interested in anxiety and its disorders.”
—Eric R. Kandel, Kavli Professor and University Professor, Columbia University; Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; author of In Search of Memory and The Age of Insight; recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Reading the book would be a lot of work, it's challenging, for me anyways. Let's just listen to a lecture by him on this...

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.

So basically he really talks a lot about the difference between top-down cognitive treatments of fear as addressing a different aspect then the unconscious and physiological responses to fear. He doesn't rule out consciousness in animals, but he does point out that it must be very different, and we may be missing a giant piece of the puzzle to actually use therapies that encourage extinction of the defense response, and not conceptualize everything in the framework of cognitions or our anthropomorphic biases of cognition and conscious/unconscious experience.

This is the missing piece of the puzzle from modern psychotherapy? This is what can lead to better drugs or better interventions? I think it's inherently some of the most genius work I've ever come across that's all I know for sure... but it rings true as the current paradigm in some places seem to be missing this element.

I heard about this from, everyone should have that rss feed and know what they do there, it's quite something.

via International Skeptics Forum

Is race a valid concept, at all?

So, I have an unfortunate tendency to get on my racial soapbox in a lot of threads and it is rightly considered a derail sometimes. It does not come naturally to me to start fresh threads, but I really want to have a good discussion about whether race is a valid concept or just a mere "social construct" as so many people say nowadays.

A couple things I'd like to analyze in this thread are:

1.) What do people actually mean when they say race is a social construct? TO what extent are they denying it has any roots in biological reality?

2.) Do people honestly believe all of humanity is completely interchangeable with no differences beyond the level of trivial appearance (skin color, facial features, hair, etc.) ???

Or is saying "race is a social construct" (or similar things, like "race isn't a valid concept") just a knee-jerk auto-response people use to try to avoid having to face unpleasant realities, and try to invalidate certain lines of discussion?

To get the ball rolling I'm going to paste most of a post I made in another thread earlier today, and which I wouldn't be surprised to see end up removed from that thread for being too off-topic there... I think there's some good info here which demonstrates that there ARE important differences with implications for the viability of multiracial societies. So I want to make sure people get a chance to see some of these links, etc:

New York Times - Adventures in Very Recent Evolution


"Scientists from the Beijing Genomics Institute last month discovered another striking instance of human genetic change. Among Tibetans, they found, a set of genes evolved to cope with low oxygen levels as recently as 3,000 years ago. This, if confirmed, would be the most recent known instance of human evolution."
Forbes - The DNA Olympics


"The trends are eye opening: Athletes of African ancestry hold every major male running record, from the 100 meters to the marathon...

...Over the last seven Olympic men’s 100-meter races, all 56 finalists have been of West African descent. Only two non-African runners, France’s Christophe Lemaire, who is white, and Australia’s Irish-aboriginal Patrick Johnson, have cracked the top 500 100-meter times. There are no elite Asian sprinters..."
ScienceDaily: How your brain reacts to emotional information is influenced by your genes


"The ADRA2b deletion variant appears in varying degrees across different ethnicities. Although roughly 50 per cent of the Caucasian population studied by these researchers in Canada carry the genetic variation, it has not been found to be prevalent in other ethnicities. For example, one study found that just 10 percent of Rwandans carried the ADRA2b gene variant."
DailyMail: Is YOUR baby racist?

"Children as young as three months old have been found to have a bias towards women who are the same race as themselves."

Wikipedia: Monoamine oxidase A (Warrior Gene)


"An association between the 2R allele of the VNTR region of the gene and an increase in the likelihood of committing serious crime or violence has been found"

"The frequency distribution of variants of the MAO-A gene differs between ethnic groups. 59% of Black men, 54% of Chinese men, 56% of Maori men, and 34% of Caucasian men carry the 3R allele. 5.5% of Black men, 0.1% of Caucasian men, and 0.00067% of Asian men carry the 2R allele."
Now, a lot of people do like to argue that "race" is a muddy term because it isn't exact. I'd say in response to that that almost nothing in biology is exact, even species. There are animals which are considered entirely different species and yet they can reproduce with one another, such as lions and tigers.

Even horses and donkeys which have a different number of chromosomes can reproduce despite this:


"Mules and hinnies have 63 chromosomes, a mixture of the horse's 64 and the donkey's 62. The different structure and number usually prevents the chromosomes from pairing up properly and creating successful embryos, rendering most mules infertile."
And you can see that even despite being different species AND having a different number of chromosomes, some of the offspring are even fertile!

Of course, all taxonomic distinctions are human constructs. They represent biological realities, but there will always be a certain degree of subjectivity and blurriness on matters like this. It's the nature of using a human created framework to think about a messy gradient type of thing like biology.

"Race" has been considered a valid taxonomic idea for a long time now, and as you can see... it is STILL considered valid and used quite extensively in major news publications such as what I've linked above.

What I'd really appreciate most of all are for some of the people who are fond of dismissing race as a valid concept, or fond of asserting that all humans are interchangeable, to REALLY, ACTUALLY respond to the links above and say what, if any, implications they think these things might have for the viability of a society and whether societal viability could be dependent on the frequency of certain traits which vary by genome!

Could society be a much more delicate thing than most people appreciate? Could it be entirely dependent on staying within a certain band of frequency for different traits?

via International Skeptics Forum

Shooting in Virgina, live on the air.

News crew shot to death during live broadcast.

^^^Video of the shooting aka the news cast.

via International Skeptics Forum

The 2016 Senate and House Races GENERAL THREAD

I'm assuming this thread goes better in the "presidential" sub-forum than the general USA Politics section but mods can move it if they want this sub-section to be oh so exclusive.

This came up in another thread. The balance of power is quite likely to shift in the Senate. There are 34 seats being contested, but a huge majority of those are current GOP seats,.... 24, if I'm not mistaken. Plus, of the 10 Dem seats, eight would seem to be very solid. Of the 24 GOP seats, there look to be 7/8 of them hotly contested.

This is mostly based on the state demographics and early chatter about nominees as most of them haven't been determined yet. For the Dems, the net pick-up required is 4 seats for a tie (and a need to find a single renegade GOP Senator), 5 for a majority. With a lot of blue and purple states in the running, it would seem to be a very do-able task, even assuming they lose the one or two tenuous blue seats (Reid's seat in NV would seem the most likely).

via International Skeptics Forum

mardi 25 août 2015

Exploded cannon found at Fort Mercer

Fort Mercer was the site of one of the most one-sided battles in the American Revolution. Where Hessian grenadiers, ill equipped for an assault on the Delaware fortification , suffered hundreds of casualties trying to take the fort. In addition, two British ships trying to fire on the fort got stuck and were set fire by heated cannon balls during the fight. Only 14 deaths were suffered by the Americans. Despite this, Fort Mercer is a very 'unknown' battle in the American Revolution, partly because the action only delayed the inevitable capture of the fort, and partly because the forces were Continental Regulars, rather than (unreliable) militia who politicians pandered to post-war by giving them more credit than was due.

12 of the American casualties were apparently caused by a cannon exploding during the fight, possibly due to the use of the aforementioned heated cannonballs. It was assumed that the cannon remains were tossed into the river or the damage blew it to tiny fragments.

Well, a recent archeological dig unearthed the exploded cannon, or at least its breech. They are unable to move it at present.

Still missing: the two cannons the Hessians brought with them for the fight that were tossed into a creek during the retreat.

via International Skeptics Forum

Ankara possibly responsible for death of US trained forces in Syria.

Read more here:

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday called for Turkey to do more to contribute to the international fight against the Islamic State. On Monday, Pentagon officials did not respond immediately to claims Turkey had tipped an al Qaida affiliate to plans for U.S.-trained fighters to enter Syria. The fighters were kidnapped. Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Read more here:


The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy.

The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State.

Rebels familiar with the events said they believe the arrival plans were leaked because Turkish officials were worried that while the group’s intended target was the Islamic State, the U.S.-trained Syrians would form a vanguard for attacking Islamist fighters that Turkey is close to, including Nusra and another major Islamist force, Ahrar al Sham.

A senior official at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, declined to respond to questions about the incident, saying any discussion of Turkey’s relationship with Nusra was off limits.

Only the Americans and the Turks knew. Rebel officer

Other Turkish officials acknowledged the likely accuracy of the claims, though none was willing to discuss the topic for attribution. One official from southern Turkey said the arrival plans for the graduates of the so-called train-and-equip program were leaked to Nusra in hopes the rapid disintegration of the program would push the Americans into expanding the training and arming of rebel groups focused on toppling the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the U.S. military, which oversees the program, had seen “no indications that Turkish officials alerted the Nusra Front to the movements” of the U.S.-trained forces.

“Turkey is a NATO ally, close friend of the United States and an important partner in the international coalition” against the Islamic State, he said in an email.

The United States and Turkey have clashed for years over what U.S. officials characterize as Turkey’s willingness to work with Nusra, which the U.S. declared a foreign terrorist organization nearly three years ago. Turkey also has openly criticized the train-and-equip program for its insistence that participants agree to focus their efforts on defeating the Islamic State, not on battling Assad.

The abductions opened the program to ridicule in the United States, where supporters of arming Syrian rebels quickly used it to make their case that Obama administration policy toward the Syrian conflict is inept.

“Only the Americans and the Turks knew” about the plans for the train-and-equip fighters to enter Syria, said an officer of Division 30, the rebel group with which the newly trained Syrians were to work. “We have sources who tell us the Turks warned Nusra that they would be targeted by this group.”

The Division 30 officer asked not to be identified for his own safety and because Nusra still holds 22 of his comrades in Azzaz, a Syrian town just south of the Turkish border.

“Right now the only thing keeping our men alive is that Turkey does not want them executed – al Qaida always executes Arabs who work for the CIA,” he said. He suggested that Turkey was trying “to leverage the incident into an expanded role in the north for the Islamists in Nusra and Ahrar” and to persuade the United States to “speed up the training of rebels.”

Division 30 spokesman Capt. Ammar al Wawi stopped short of saying Turkey had betrayed the operation, though he agreed that the only people aware of the trainees’ plans to enter Syria were Turkish and American staffers at a joint command center in Gaziantep. He grew visibly uncomfortable when pressed on the subject.

“I have to live here in Turkey and have been targeted for kidnapping or assassination twice in the last month,” he said. “But we know someone aligned with Nusra informed them of our presence. They were taken within 10 minutes.”

Among those abducted was the Division 30 commander, Col. Nadim Hassan. “We would have never allowed him to go inside if we had known that Nusra would target them,” al Wawi said.

Another rebel commander, interviewed in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, about 30 miles north of the Syrian border, said he was not surprised Nusra would target the U.S.-trained fighters. In the end, he said, the ideologies of Nusra and Ahrar al Sham are not all that different from that of the Islamic State, which he referred to as “Daash,” its Arabic acronym.

“Nusra are al Qaida by their own admission,” said the commander, who asked not to be named because his unit received some weapons and support from Turkey. “And there’s no ideological difference between Daash and the Nusra Front, just a political fight for control. All of the top Nusra commanders were once in the Islamic State.”

He said Nusra hostility toward U.S.-trained rebels would be understandable. “Remember,” he said, “America has targeted Nusra with some airstrikes.”

He said that while some Syrian rebels have been willing to coordinate with Nusra and Ahrar al Sham in offensives against Syrian government positions, that cooperation is likely to end at some point and Turkey was aware of that.

“They don’t want anything bad to happen to their allies – Nusra and Ahrar al Sham – along the border and they know that both the Americans and the Syrian people will eventually recognize that there’s no difference between groups like Nusra, Ahrar and Daash,” he said.

Mustafa Abdi, a spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG by their Kurdish initials, said he, too, has been told Turkey leaked the arrival of the U.S.-trained fighters. He suggested the effort was part of a Turkish effort to persuade the United States to cooperate more with the groups Turkey views as its allies in Syria.

“They want the Americans to train and equip rebels but only on their terms and to confront both the regime and the Islamic State,” he said. “This incident not only embarrassed the Americans and made the Free Syrian Army programs look weak compared to Nusra, but also makes working with Turkey on their terms even more important.”

Turkish officials have been openly critical of the United States for coordinating its bombing campaign in northern Syria with the YPG, which has proved to be the most successful group battling the Islamic State in Syria.

Turkey sees the YPG as aligned with its longtime nemesis, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has fought a three-decade-long insurgency for greater autonomy for Turkey’s large Kurdish population. But in coordination with U.S. airstrikes, the YPG has driven Islamic State fighters from at least a dozen Syrian towns, including Tal Abyad, a major crossing point on the Turkish border.

There’s no ideological difference between Daash and the Nusra Front, just a political fight for control. Syrian rebel commander

The Turkey-U.S. conflict over how to confront the Islamic State has been a key point of friction between the two NATO allies since the U.S. began its bombing campaign against the group a year ago. Only last month did Turkey agree to allow manned American aircraft to launch missions from Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. The first mission took off Aug. 12.

But the disagreement on strategy dates to much earlier in the Syrian conflict, when American officials declared Nusra to be just another name for al Qaida in Iraq, the Islamic State’s predecessor organization. Turkey said the designation overlooked the fact that it was by far the most effective force fighting the Syrian government, and Turkish officials resisted U.S. efforts to persuade them to stop working with Nusra, even though Turkey also declared the group a terrorist organization.

Aymenn al Tamimi, an expert on Syrian and Iraqi jihadist groups for the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, said Turkish support for what he called “the Salafi-Jihadi-Islamist coalition in the north” is clear.

He said that support is likely both ideological and tactical. Noting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party also espouses Islamist goals, Tamimi suggested “Erdogan and his allies would ideologically be sympathetic to Islamist groups.” Tactically, the success Nusra and Ahrar al Sham have had against the Assad government would also be attractive. “There’s a case to be made they are the most effective forces in the north,” he said.

James Rosen in Washington and McClatchy special correspondents Duygu Gevenc in Ankara, Turkey, and Zakaria Zakaria in Sanliurfa, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Prothero is a McClatchy special correspondent. Twitter: @mitchprothero

Read more here:

via International Skeptics Forum

Levitating acid on a plasma layer

Droplets Levitate on a Cushion of Blue Light


A Cushion of Vapor from a Jolt of Electricity

In their lab, Poulain and his colleagues devised a set-up to run electricity through conductive droplets and film the droplets' behavior at high speed. They suspended a small drop of weak hydrochloric acid, which conducts electricity, above a metal plate and applied a voltage across the drop. When the drop touched the plate, electricity began to flow, and the water in the hydrochloric acid solution started to break down into hydrogen and oxygen gas.

Above 50 volts, the bottom of the droplet started sparking. It levitated, rising over the surface of the plate, and a faint blue glow emanated from the gap.

via International Skeptics Forum

Stephen Hawking New Black Hole Theory

Apologies for not giving much of a precis around the article (am at work), but here's the link describing Hawkings new theory in which he attempts to resolve the information paradox of the current black hole theory:

via International Skeptics Forum

Dismantling the GOP caucus system

Apparently over worry that Colorado voters might not make a wise choice, the GOP is canceling its Colorado 2016 caucus.


The GOP executive committee voted Friday to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll at the caucus after the national party changed its rules to require a state's delegates to support the candidate that wins.
So this is pretty interesting. Is this going to show that the GOP candidate is only the people's choice, if the people chose the GOP preferred candidate? Will other states follow in a pattern to essentially dismantle the GOP caucus system?

via International Skeptics Forum

Does coal have a future?

Burning coal is very polluting and many places are using natural gas and nuclear plants for their electricity. Coal seems to be on the way out. Does coal have a future perhaps as a fuel for powering vehicles. I recalls many years ago seeing coal being converted into a liquid fuel.

via International Skeptics Forum

Germany jumps on the anti GMO wagon

"Germany is taking steps to outlaw the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Europe’s biggest economy.
The Agriculture Ministry plans to officially request that producers of GMOs exclude Germany when applying to sell seeds in European Union, Christian Fronczak, a spokesman for the ministry, said Tuesday. Scotland took similar measures earlier this month."


via International Skeptics Forum

One step closer to having gills?

Out Of This World: Triton Oxygen Respirator Extracts Air Underwater


“A new invention looks set to change Scuba and diving in general. It’s shocking task lies in the idea of microscopic, nano scale ‘artificial Gills’, can effectively separate the Oxygen from the water while diving, on demand. A series of tiny threads or strands have microscopic holes along their width, which are smaller than water molecules.

It’s called the ‘Triton Oxygen Respirator‘ (Image Below), a miniature but incredible device that will do away for the need to move bulky tanks on dives, and allow the dives to last much, much longer than can be had with current equipment.

The weight accumulations will help emergency responders to move around more calmly too without having to move bulky and heavy tanks around with them. We inhale about 6 litres per minute (when resting) and maybe 10 times that when working tough, so a pack containing 2 or 3 litres of water will stockpile a generous supply of O2, enough to last long enough to pursuit and salvage people from smoke filled buildings.

The Scuba industry is thinking ahead onto commercial, private and military ships as a secure device expressed to all passengers and crew, aircraft too if they have to dive into the sea. It could also be used on land, by firefighters, with minor adjustments. All they’d need would be a small canister of water or something identical to a hydration backpack to excerpt O2 from..there’s lots of O2 in a particular litre of water..about 630 litres worth.

Interesting if it actually works as advertised. I'll wait and see on that part.

via International Skeptics Forum

Was there a reason to expect a powerful jolt in the towers?

Since Tony Szamboti made his paper "The Missing Jolt" public, he has moved the goalposts somewhat, to the point of asserting the necessity for a powerful jolt even in a more realistic situation than the one he proposed in said paper.

Mainly, he has asserted that axial column-to-column impact was unavoidable. I didn't see any clear flaw in his reasoning.

The intention of this thread is to focus the discussion not on the paper's starting assumption of rigid blocks, but on the question of whether a powerful, measurable jolt was expectable in the actual situation and whether there was / why there wasn't one.

This has been discussed in other threads, and I admit to my initial confusion as to the contents of the paper (due to having forgotten about its actual contents and focusing on Tony's latter claims). So, given that my ideas are now hopefully clearer, and that what I was discussing all that time was not the paper's contents but what is to be the topic of this thread, I wanted a more specific discussion on the subject. It keeps confusing me to see every so often the claim that a macroscopic jolt was not possible, since it isn't accompanied by any reasoned explanation as to why. I hope this thread will help put this issue to rest once and for all.

Clearly, after the fall of several floors, the tilt of the top block was enough for the columns to be out of alignment. The question is, when not all columns had failed yet, and one side of the core had fallen the height of one story while the opposite side of the building still managed to hold it enough to make it pivot, whether it was expected that an axial column-on-column impact happened.

I've received several answers to this question. I remember the posters, but I'd have a hard time finding the posts right now. Newton's Bit said that unless the impact was perfectly square, which is basically discarded, the border-on-border impacts (don't remember the exact terms he used) would not oppose nearly as much resistance because of the reduced impact surface. I agree, but I objected that the bent web would provide an additional surface for impact. I didn't get an answer as to whether that objection held any water, so I'm still unsure about it. Here's an example of a column bent that way:

Special emphasis in the "Fractured end near the 100th floor level". The bent web would provide a greater surface to squarely impact the bottom surviving part of the column. Detailed view here:

Note the "three elbows" structure of the failure, except that the bottom "elbow" is actually a broken connection in this case. Unfortunately, we don't have any core columns from the impact area belonging to the side that failed first.

Grizzly Bear has shown a pretty convincing picture of WTC2 showing how the building's tilt induced a rotation over a pivot higher than the impact zone, causing a displacement backwards that would be a plausible explanation for the misalignment. He also provided another picture for WTC1 that I could not interpret as a potential cause of misalignment.

Ozeco41 has said that there never was an opportunity for a big jolt, but it's not clear to me whether in every occasion he mentioned it, he referred to the assumptions in Szamboti's paper or not. To my knowledge, he has never explained how they would be avoided at the point in the process outlined above.

Worth mentioning is that, regardless of whether Tony's paper had a wrong assumption to start with, it contains measurements that he later claimed should have shown a jolt. I disagree, for a number of reasons, mainly related to the data acquisition and treatment methods he used. But I still think that the overall idea that a jolt should be present (even if not of a magnitude big enough to be shown in his data) has merit.

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The social issue of black on white violence

There are endless videos and stories of violence by blacks against whites particularly in the United States. I thought we could use a thread to discuss this issue, possible causes and solutions, and how the media treats these incidents.

To get the ball rolling, here's a video just uploaded today:

White woman beaten at gas station

The thing which occurs to me immediately upon watching that is that if a white man and white woman had beaten a black woman in that same way and there was video, it would draw a significant amount of attention from the media and from black activists.

I don't expect this incident to get much attention, based on previous observations of similar cases.

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Evidence of early belief in the one true God

While visiting a 2nd century Roman villa earlier today. I saw a mosaic forming the unmistakable image of the FSM.

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Continuation Part 18: Amanda Knox/Raffaele Sollecito


Originally Posted by anglolawyer (Post 10838805)
I have actually thought of a theory that explain everything. Rudy may well have been a washing machine repair man, providing a 24/7 service, who was called to fix the damn thing by 'Mez' (yuk). That would explain both his presence and the indisputable but otherwise inexplicable fact that the machine was in perfect working order.

On your point, as Mach is not here to say it, I will do so for him. It doesn't actually matter whether one can make sense of the washing machine being warm, the point is they lied in failing to explain why it was. This is what also make's Curatolo's evidence decisive. He proves they lied because they did not admit to being in the square and it doesn't matter a jot whether his evidence is internally coherent or a total pack of lies even credible. This is Italian law as we have come to understand it here after prolonged and assiduous study.

Was Rudy's pooh found in the washing machine? Big hole in your theory......

Acc. to Italian procedure it is now up to you to prove no feces in the wash. Why? Because since I can assert it, it must be part of the osmotic consideration.

Mod InfoDue to the size, the previous continuation thread has been, itself, continued here.
Posted By:kmortis

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