“Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.”—So Amtrak actually did it; they created a writer residency program. Fans of writing inside a moving vehicle for thousands of miles, this program is for you.
Twitter paid IBM millions of dollars to avoid a lawsuit
$36Mthe amount Twitter had to pay IBM for the rights to 900 patents in an effort to avoid a lawsuit. IBM had previously tried to sue the social giant over three of the patents, but came to an agreement in January. The massive price tag for said agreement didn’t come out until this week, though. source
Twenty-four hours after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared over the South China Sea, the only clue to the fate of its 239 passengers and crew was the revelation that at least two people on board were using stolen passports.
The disclosure raised fears that terrorists could have used the passport to board the craft, which vanished with no prior signals of trouble to air traffic controllers.
The plane was heading from the Malaysia to China, where last week 33 people were killed and 143 injured in a terrorist attack in the south-western city of Kunming. The attack, in which a gang of men ran amok in a Chinese railway station, was blamed on pro-separatist ethnic Uigurs, who come from the mainly Muslim areas of the Xinjiang region that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some Chinese media have branded it the country’s own “9-11”.
Too soon to say for certain that this angle is worth anything here, though the unusual situation with the passports is worth keeping an eye on.
“There is no law in this country against being crazy. If somebody is delusional and even flagrantly psychotic, unless they’re an imminent danger to themselves or others, there’s nothing anybody can do.”—Clinical and forensic psychologist Laurence Miller • Discussing the situation with the South Carolina mom who attempted to drive her minivan (and her three children) into the ocean earlier this week. Ebony Wilkerson was taken into custody for a mental evaluation on Thursday, but she wasn’t taken in for one on Tuesday, after her sister expressed concerns to police. Police checked her out and found her lucid. Two hours later, she drove her vehicle into the ocean off the coast of Florida.
“I was scared the Drill Sergeants would ask me why I wasn’t eating, or assume I was a privileged teen acting picky. I didn’t want to be noticed. Then, something struck me! It was as if that little light bulb turned on. I said to myself, “Whatever struggle you face here, no matter how difficult it is, remember that the animals on industrial farms have it worse. Remember that labor camps in North Korea are worse. Remember who you are and what you vowed you would never do is still a part of you today.” It was difficult, but I never let a piece of meat touch my paper tray ever again.”—What It’s Like To Be Vegan In The Military, The Dodo
“We are extremely worried. We are doing all we can to get details. The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe.”—Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi • Discussing the fate of a Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight which went missing early Saturday. The flight, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, likely went missing somewhere in the Vietnamese airspace. The situation comes just months after another Boeing 777 jet crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing three.
“Reached at his home in Temple City, Calif., Nakamoto acknowledged that many of the details in Newsweek’s report are correct, including that he once worked for a defense contractor. But he strongly disputes the magazine’s assertion that he is “the face behind Bitcoin.””—Dorian S. “Satoshi” Nakamoto says he’s not the dude who founded Bitcoin, according to a lengthy Associated Press interview/stalking opportunity.
The creator of Bitcoin, a pack of reporters, and some sushi. Developing story.
Do any of the developments involve Buzzfeed, and the rest of the media outlets currently chasing Mr. Nakamoto around Los Angeles, realizing that a post saying “Look how silly we are!” doesn’t excuse harassment?
President Obama on Thursday authorized new sanctions on Russia that will restrict travel and freeze the assets of people the Obama administration identifies as being involved in the invasion of Crimea.
Obama also criticized plans by local officials in Crimea to hold a secession vote to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, which he said would violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law.
“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”
“When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional. But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt.”—
Major changes are just around the corner for the SAT exam
2005 Major alterations to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) saw the College Board removed portions of the verbal section that had traditionally proven difficult for some students. The Board also added an 800-point essay segment to the exam, giving it a new total point value of 2400.
2016 A new round of changes will see the maximum score on the SAT exam return to 1600, along with a host of other changes that the College Board once again hopes will make college more-accessible to graduating high school students. In addition to dropping the top score, the College Board will also offer free SAT preparation materials and give four college application fee waivers to anyone who takes the test. source
“Kind of.”—Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest living person • On whether or not she is happy to have reached the age of 116, during a party in her honor at the Kurenai nursing home where she lives. She credits her long life to eating healthily, reportedly a big fan of sashimi herself, and getting plenty of rest. Okawa is only the tenth person in history to reach the age of 116, and the third-oldest Japanese citizen ever to have lived. source
“There is nothing “crypto” about Ramis’s 1984 hit, “Ghostbusters”: Its Reaganism is fully developed, as numerous critics have pointed out. Here the martinet is none other than a troublemaking EPA bureaucrat; the righteous, rule-breaking slobs are small businessmen—ghost-hunting businessmen, that is, who have launched themselves deliriously into the world of entrepreneurship. Eventually, after the buffoon from the EPA gets needlessly into the businessmen’s mix and blunders the world into catastrophe, the forces of order find they must outsource public safety itself to the hired ghost-guns because government can’t do the job on its own. Both Reagan and his closest advisers were transfixed by the film, Sidney Blumenthal tells us; “Ghostbusters” fit nicely into their idea of an America guided by “fantasy and myth.””—
The European Union added a significant financial underpinning to the struggling Ukraine government on Wednesday in the midst of the East-West crisis with Russia over Ukraine’s future, offering aid worth as much as $15 billion over the next two years.
The offer comes on top of the $1 billion in American loan guarantees to ease Ukraine’s economic transition, announced here on Tuesday by Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit aimed at reassuring the interim Ukraine authorities and challenging Russia, which escalated the crisis last weekend by seizing control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Judge rules Chevron doesn't have to pay billions in Ecuadorian ruling
$9.5Bin damages won’t have to be paid to Ecuadorian villagers, as part of a ruling against Chevron that approved by Ecuador’s Supreme Court, according to a trial judge in Manhattan. According to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, there was clear evidence of corruption in the original ruling, leading Kaplan to refuse to enforce the fine in the United States. Chevron has already pulled the bulk of its resources out of Ecuador, forcing those who filed the suit to try and reclaim damages in other countries where Chevron still has a significant presence. Attorneys representing the Ecuadorian villagers say they will appeal the ruling in the U.S., and will also continue to seek enforcement in other countries as well. source
President Obama on Tuesday released an election-year budget proposal that calls for $3.9 trillion in spending in fiscal 2015.
Deficit reduction takes a back seat in the budget to jobs initiatives Democrats hope will be popular with voters.
The central elements of the proposal are $56 billion in new stimulus spending above the discretionary budget cap in place for next year, $302 billion in infrastructure spending over four years and a series of tax breaks for lower-income workers.
Congressional Republicans are already pushing back on the proposed budget, saying it doesn’t do enough to address the country’s long-term deficit issues, and Rep. Paul Ryan went as far as to say the new proposal “isn’t a serious document, it’s a campaign brochure.”
Starting in 2015 the Boy Scouts of America’s policy banning adult leaders who are gay will cost the organization donations from Walt Disney Co.
Though Disney doesn’t provide money to the Boy Scouts’ national or local councils, the Burbank-based company with major theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando provides small grants to local troops and packs, said Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman.
"We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids," Smith said in a statement.
“It might seem ridiculous on the surface that a huge war would stem from protests in Ukraine, an event that mostly involves, and affects, Russians and Ukrainians.
But Ukraine serves as an economic tie between Russia and the rest of Europe, and instability in Ukraine can cause massive problems for the global economy.”—In case you’re looking for a complete guide to the situation in Ukraine, our pals at Kicker have a pretty good one.
While a major journalism hub in Crimea was being raided over the weekend, the Global Investigative Journalism Network took a bold step to protect the journalism:
Over the weekend, GIJN quietly worked with the Archive-It service of the San Francisco-based Internet Archive to back up the Crimean Center’s entire web history – nearly 16,000 pages. The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that has become the pre-eminent archive of the online world. “This is a great example of how our digital library can help — both for the near-term public interest and well as for historical reflection,” says Roger Macdonald, director of the group’s Television Archive. “Now there is a permanent, safe record of everything the Crimean Center has published online.”
“Microsoft will also begin nagging XP users to upgrade through an on-screen message that will appear starting Saturday.”—This is what it comes to. Microsoft is so desperate to get you to upgrade your old operating system that it’s going to start yelling at you to upgrade the damn thing. They could have done this with Internet Explorer 6.
So, what happens if you share your medical bills with other people who don’t drink, don’t smoke, and are big on Jesus? Apparently, according to Fox News, you save money on your medical bills:
"It works just like insurance. I have an insurance card. I show it just like anyone else would. I have a deductible. I have a monthly premium that I pay," explained Eileen Wade, who joined the health care sharing ministry, Medi-Share, in 2011.
The nation’s three largest ministries boast more than 242,000 members, spanning all 50 states, who agree to live so-called biblical lifestyles — meaning regular church attendance; no drugs, tobacco, or sex outside of marriage; and limited alcohol consumption.
This kind of healthier lifestyle helps keep monthly premiums lower than that of other health insurers for most members.
"There’s definitely an economic benefit, a windfall if you would, by living healthier lives," said Medi-Share’s CEO, Tony Meggs.
So basically the way to cheap insurance—and enlightenment—is through the Bible. Ken Ham was right all along.
F*@*! the (perceived) haters, Lifehacker contributor Sean Kim says:
Believe it or not, we’re not that special. We go through our days thinking about how other people might be judging us. But the truth is—those people are thinking the exact same thing. No one in today’s “smartphone-crazed” society has time in their schedule to think more than a brief second about us. The fact of the matter is, when we do have time get our thoughts straight, we’re too busy thinking about ourselves and our own shortcomings—not others.P
A study done by the National Science Foundation claims that people have, on average, 50,000 plus thoughts a day. This means that even if someone thought about us ten times in one day, it’s only 0.02%of their overall daily thoughts. It is a sad but simple truth that the average person filters their world through their ego, meaning that they think of most things relating to “me” or “my.” This means that unless you have done something that directly affects another person or their life, they are not going to spend much time thinking about you at all.
This isn’t just good advice. This is how you survive Tumblr without going insane.
As for the case for allowing fundamentalists to discriminate against anyone associated with what they regard as sin, I’m much more sympathetic. I favor maximal liberty in these cases. The idea that you should respond to a hurtful refusal to bake a wedding cake by suing the bakers is a real stretch to me.
Yes, they may simply be homophobic, rather than attached to a coherent religious worldview. But so what? There are plenty of non-homophobic bakers in Arizona. If we decide that our only response to discrimination is a lawsuit, we gays are ratcheting up a culture war we would do better to leave alone. We run the risk of becoming just as intolerant as the anti-gay bigots, if we seek to coerce people into tolerance. If we value our freedom as gay people in living our lives the way we wish, we should defend that same freedom to sincere religious believers and also, yes, to bigots and haters. You do not conquer intolerance with intolerance. As a gay Christian, I’m particularly horrified by the attempt to force anyone to do anything they really feel violates their conscience, sense of self, or even just comfort.
Andrew Sullivan, a [left-]liberal gay writer in his piece on the Arizona bill which would have let people refuse to serve someone based on religious convictions (via rationaloutlook)
»MEB says: A compelling (though the excerpt was cherry-picked: Sullivan actually finds the alleged victimization of fundamentalists “a grotesque inversion of reality”) argument, except that his case for a compassionate modus vivendi was also present against the civil rights movement and Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Was the latter likewise unwise for not first winning the bigots’ hearts and minds? What ruling against discrimination hasn’t itself been found to discriminate against the discriminators?
“They were shooting sporadically and throwing explosives on buildings. I counted 39 bodies this morning. I fled the place because nobody is safe.”—Mansur Buba, a resident of the village of Mainok, Nigeria • Discussing a brutal attack, allegedly by the terror group Boko Horam, on his town. Another 46 people were killed in Maiduguri by a spate of bombing attacks, according to a Reuters report.
Google-translated quote from the Kremlin’s statement:"Russian President stressed the existence of real threats to life and health of Russian citizens and compatriots multiple repositories on Ukrainian territory. Vladimir Putin stressed that in the case of the further spread of violence in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea Russia reserves the right to protect their interests and living there speaking population."
Brutal knife attacks at Chinese train station kill, injure dozens
10+the number of knife-wielding attackers that descended upon the Kunming Train Station in China’s Yunnan Province on Saturday, a brutal attack that killed at least 28 and injured at least 113, according to state media reports. “I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” said one witness, who successfully got away from the attackers himself. The man, Yang Haifei, said that those who couldn’t get away fast enough were the ones who fell victim to the brutal attacks. source
“I think it’s perfectly valid for journalists to investigate the financial dealings of corporations and billionaires who fund media outlets, whether it be those who fund or own Pando, First Look, MSNBC, Fox News, The Washington Post or any other. And it’s certainly reasonable to have concerns and objections about the funding of organizations that are devoted to regime change in other countries: I certainly have those myself. But the Omidyar Network doesn’t exactly seem ashamed of these donations, and they definitely don’t seem to be hiding them, given that they trumpeted them in their own press releases and web pages.”—Glenn Greenwald • Responding to allegations made by PandoDaily that Pierre Omidyar, the publisher and main backer of Greenwald’s First Look Media, helped bankroll the Ukrainian revolution we recently saw. As Greenwald notes, uh, Omidyar didn’t exactly hide it and it’s not as bad as Pando is claiming, but more importantly, it shouldn’t really matter anyway, because he still has journalistic independence. Oh yeah, he reminds us, did you know that owners of most of the major media outlets you read have owners or investors with questionable ties?