A lot of cake. A lot of reasons to celebrate. A lot of big news. In celebration of our birthday tomorrow — we started on January 1, 2009 — we thought we’d share a few anecdotes from the past year. The past twelve months of this silly experiment of telling people the news with big numbers and short blurbs has been a pretty exciting one, and we certainly gained a ton from this year. (In fact, we just hit our 20,000th follower this evening. Whoo!) There were many highlights and lowlights, and we wanted to reflect on a few of those. Hop over to the jump to see them in Summary Sandwich form.
He had C-4 explosives on him wrapped in military-grade wrapping, according to local police; the FBI has yet to explain what he was carrying on him, but the guy is in custody. To folks who say the TSA has never caught anyone bringing anything dangerous onto a plane: Here’s the exception to the rule. Yeah, freaky, right?
“My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”—Barack Obama • Speaking specifically about the indefinite detention rules in the National Defense Authorization Act, which were changed specifically to prevent the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents suspected of terrorism, before the law was passed by Congress. “My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law,” he also noted. The president is fighting two schools of thought on the matter — a number of human rights activists are worried about the ramifications of what they see as unconstitutional, while law enforcement and intelligence officials say the changes will greatly complicate their job. Obama goes far enough as to call the passage where the controversial language is included “unnecessary.”
Today I have signed into law H.R. 1540, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.” I have signed the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed. In hundreds of separate sections totaling over 500 pages, the Act also contains critical Administration initiatives to control the spiraling health care costs of the Department of Defense (DoD), to develop counterterrorism initiatives abroad, to build the security capacity of key partners, to modernize the force, and to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations worldwide.
The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Over the last several years, my Administration has developed an effective, sustainable framework for the detention, interrogation and trial of suspected terrorists that allows us to maximize both our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals in rapidly developing situations, and the results we have achieved are undeniable. Our success against al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents has derived in significant measure from providing our counterterrorism professionals with the clarity and flexibility they need to adapt to changing circumstances and to utilize whichever authorities best protect the American people, and our accomplishments have respected the values that make our country an example for the world. (read more here)
Do you guys buy his explanation? Did Obama have to sign this bill the way it was presented to him?
“I’m a Marine and I’m not going to run from a fight. You wouldn’t want a Marine to run from a fight. Call me crazy, call me stupid. I got shot once and it just angered me more. I wanted to get this guy. I got shot twice, and I re-evaluated that decision. I decided I need to stay alive.”—Florida-based Marine vet Lt. Col Karl Trenker • Discussing how he got shot, days before Christmas, in a Craigslist-transaction-gone-bad. The Iraq and Afghanistan vet’s fiance tried selling a man’s gold-chain necklace, but Trenker offered to make the transaction due to safety concerns, which turned out to be correct, as the alleged buyer picked up the necklace and ran. Trenker ran after the man, known only as “Galven,” only to get shot twice. Here’s the dramatic part: Following his training as a Marine (29 years experience), he plugged the bullet holes with his fingers, a move which likely saved his life. Say what you will about the Craigslist transaction (it certainly wasn’t the best idea), but that’s pretty amazing, no matter how you look at the situation. source (via • follow)
I might be wrong here, but didn't Bill Gates also receive this honour a few years ago? Just thinking about your comment about Windows users here haha.
» SFB says: Yes, you’re right. — Gates received a KBE honor in 2005, but here’s where Ive and Gates differ. See, Ive will be called “Sir” because he’s British. Gates is American, so his title didn’t change. The joke was faux-arrogance to be honest. Heh. — Ernie @ SFB
“Third-party extensions and hacks are a part of the web, perhaps Tumblr should focus on building new features or its own official “app store” instead of whining about support and server issues.”—Drew Olanoff of The Next Web has Jeremy Cutler’s back on Missing e.
Can you explain what's wrong with the missing e email you received? I'm someone who knows very very little about computers, and very little about the ramifications of whatever make you "uncomfortable" about the email you got from tumblr. I understand that missing e is an extension that allows certain editing of tumblr pages, etc., but I don't really get why you'd take offense at what tumblr sent you. It seems fairly benign and reasonable to me.
» SFB says: Because Missing e makes my life (and the lives of a lot of other people) a lot easier by offering significant improvements to the Tumblr interface, and instead of figuring out a way to take advantage of the great idea that Jeremy Cutler had, they’ve instead chosen to go this route. At one point, they completely booted him off the API and looked like they were going to sue him. There’s a long backstory here — essentially, the extension became super-popular, then Tumblr decided that it was taking up too many resources. But the problem is, ultimately, there is a significant benefit to using Missing e, which is something Tumblr has not addressed directly. Until they do so, Missing e will still have a reason to exist. As a big fan of both Tumblr and Missing e, we’re greatly disappointed by this. — Ernie @ SFB
With them. This is less a parting shot and more a “we’ll have to find another way” realization. Remember, Verizon IS the company that once relied on income from forced accidental button-presses. They know how to make $2 off you and make it seem like an accident.
Don't look a gift bear in the eye; it could be dangerous.
what Toy company Build-A-Bear has recalled over 300,000 bears that were sold between April and December. So, if you gave or received a ”Colorful Hearts Teddy Bear” this year, you should consider returning it.
why The eyes of the bear were poorly secured, creating a choking hazard for children; the bears went through a security and safety screening which deemed the fabric around the eyes as “substandard.” Beware of bear, folks. source
“For some Paul is seen as a homophobe and a racist. So for her fans, that may be sending them a message that she concurs with his homophobic and racist ideals. This is a problem since she does have a wide variety of die hard fans which include gays and a wide range of ethnicities who are offended by her endorsement.”—Cooper Lawrence, author of the book “Cult of Celebrity” • Discussing why Kelly Clarkson’s endorsement of Ron Paul struck such a raw nerve with many of her fans yesterday. Part of it, perhaps, was the timing of Clarkson’s endorsement — Paul’s long-dormant newsletters, racially-tinged tomes which he’s long claimed he didn’t write but has never fully resolved honestly and openly, resurfaced just a week ago. (The Economist has a smartly-written piece on Paul that’s worth considering for these sentences: “In the end, Mr Paul’s obsession with the Fed is an anti-government conspiracy theory. And in America, anti-government conspiracy theories attract a lot of wingnuts, some of whom have never read Hayek or von Mises.”) For us, though, the real question is whether this whole affair will cause a big enough decline in Clarkson’s career to force a movie sequel: “From Kelly Back To Justin Again”? Justin Guarini’s floppy, Muppet-like hair is waiting for your call, Kelly. source (via • follow)
Amazon sold a bunch of Kindles, but don't expect a specific count
4million Kindles sold in December … well, at least we think so source
» It’s an estimate based off of Amazon’s evasiveness. They said that customers “purchased well over 1 million Kindle devices per week” in the month of December. Sales of Kindle e-books were up 175% from last year’s period between Black Friday and Christmas; so while Amazon may not give us clear numbers, the company seems to be doing well in the fields it created.
“We have observed a spike in domain name transfers, which are running above normal rates and which we attribute to GoDaddy’s prior support for SOPA, which was reversed. GoDaddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities. Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time.”—GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman • In a statement sent to the press on Domain Transfer Day, an anti-SOPA protest organized after it became clear that GoDaddy was a major supporter of the legislation. Note the phrasing — they don’t just not support SOPA, but oppose it. Think they’ve apologized enough?
North Korea is entering a new era of leadership by “solemnly and confidently” declaring that rival South Korea and other nations shouldn’t expect any change.
North Korea has ended 11 days of official mourning for leader Kim Jong Il. His son Kim Jong Un has been declared supreme leader of the ruling party and military.
Pyongyang’s National Defense Commission said in a statement Friday that the North will never deal with the “traitor group” led South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. It says the North will unite around leader Kim Jong Un.
Disappointing considering the significant problems the region has both diplomatically and domestically, but totally expected, in the end.
Verizon plans to add fee for non-automatic online payments
$2fee to pay your bill online, as planned by Verizon Wireless source
» Nickel and diming, redux: To be clear, this fee wouldn’t be instituted in every case — people using automatic bill-pay wouldn’t be subject to it, nor would people paying by electronic check (at least according to the initial source of this news, a leaked memo obtained by Engadget). That said, if you’re looking to make a one-off payment, or aren’t scheduled for automatic payments, you can expect a tidy little $2 charge starting January 15th. What reaction consumers will have is yet unclear; it has, however, been a bad year for companies trying to slip extra fees onto customers.
“Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign. Kent campaigned with us earlier this afternoon and went immediately afterward to a Ron Paul event and announced he is changing teams. Kent said to me yesterday that ‘everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn’t I?’, then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions.”—Michele Bachmann • Trying to explain the late-stage defection of campaign co-chair Kent Sorenson, who yesterday jumped to the Ron Paul camp. In trying to explain this situation, which carries a big political cost to her already sub-tier candidacy, Bachmann is leveling a pretty loaded claim. It’s also one that Sorenson has flatly denied — he says the conversation Bachmann recounts never happened. source (via • follow)
“In the last few days, we have seen countless comments on various forms of social media and received many email messages, both pro and con on this issue. While the D’Addario family is committed to protecting its trademarks and family name, that commitment does not take priority over our respect for the U.S. Constitution and our right to free speech under the First Amendment.”—D’Addario & Company, Inc. founder Jim D’Addario • Discussing his company’s perceived support of SOPA, as a result of having been placed on an alleged list of supporters of the act. D’Addario (which makes great guitar strings that sound really good with Cm7 chords) has dealt with numerous counterfeiting issues in the past (“7 out of 10 sets of D’Addario strings sold in Chinese music stores are fakes!”), and when his company signed onto a list asking for further help in fighting against counterfeiting, his company did not assume the result would be SOPA. We spotted his letter because he cited our defense of the companies on a list distributed by the Chamber of Commerce, but we think — again — it’s worth pointing out that when D’Addario and other companies signed onto the list, they were asking for something far different than SOPA. Protest with care. source (via • follow)
Wildlife group: Despite worldwide ban, ivory seizures hit record levels in 2011
23 tonsamount of ivory acquired from 13 major seizures in 2011
2,500+number of elephants that died to produce that much ivory source
» This despite a global ban on ivory trade: What’s causing the black-market trade of ivory? According to Traffic, a group that monitors wildlife trading, much of this is as a result of larger Asian influence on the continent. ”We’ve reached a point in Africa’s history where there are more Asian nationals on the continent than ever before,” said Traffic official Tom Milliken, based in Zimbabwe. ”They have contacts with the end-use market and now they are at the source in Africa. This is all adding up to an unprecedented assault on elephants and other wildlife.”
“The people of Homs and the youth activists have no faith in the Arab League mission. It is clear now they are just another ploy by the Syrian regime to buy time. They are ineffective and have no resources to change the situation. But we are doing our part showing them what is happening in Homs, submitting evidence of killing and arbitrary arrest, and showing them what is happening.”—Syrian opposition activist Khaled Abo Saleh • Criticizing the Arab League’s monitoring of the military’s crackdown in Homs. Saleh said that the killings in the region have declined since the Arab League got there, but they haven’t stopped completely. Activists have been critical of the choice of a Sudanese military official, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, as one of the observers. source (via • follow)
New audio from Dallas-area Christmas day shooting surfaces
"I am shooting people." That’s what Azizolah Yazdanpanah could be heard whispering on a 911 recording — while, dressed as Santa Claus, he shot six of his family members, before turning the trigger on himself. Grapevine, Texas police investigators initially thought the recording was blank, but after enhancing the audio, they were able to pick up new details, painting a fuller picture of the situation as it happened. Also of note: Yazdanpanah’s niece, Sara Fatemeh Zarei, texted a friend prior to the shooting, dismissively noting her uncle’s costume and saying, ”Now he wants to be all fatherly and win father of the year.” Yazdanpanah reportedly suffered from financial hardships prior to the shooting, but investigators say they may never know what caused him to fire upon his own family. source
“Kent said to me yesterday that ‘everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn’t I.’ Then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions.”—Michele Bachmann • Discussing the surprise departure of her Iowa campaign chairman, Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, who defected to the Ron Paul camp. This is not good news for Bachmann, especially since the move comes less than a week before the Iowa caucus. Ever since Bachmann won the straw poll in Iowa back in August, it’s been diminishing returns, to the point where some are calling for her to drop out. They’re also calling for Rick Santorum to drop out, but that’s probably not going to happen because Santorum is suddenly on an upswing. For Bachmann, however, she might be reaching her endgame. source (via • follow)
But the trailer’s production history is far less interesting than its troubling and highly selective appropriation of imagery from a famous viral video that spawned multiple Internet memes. The so-called “Epic Beard Man” video showed a 67-year-old man, later identified as Thomas Bruso, beating a younger man (though not young; he’s reportedly 50 years old)—known only by his first name, Michael—on a public transit bus in Oakland. The incident was recorded by another passenger, a young woman named Iyanna Washington. In part because Bruso is elderly and does indeed sport a truly epic beard, he became a cult hero.
But there has always been an uncomfortable aspect (or, really, two or three uncomfortable aspects) to that hero worship. Bruso is white, and Michael is black; early in the video, Bruso appears to ask Michael, “How much would you charge me for a spit shine?” Whether he intended this question innocently is open to some debate, but Michael—who has said, in the course of apologizing for his actions, that he was intoxicated—took it as a racist insult, and the incident unfolded from there. Bruso, meanwhile, has a history of public altercations, and, according to an AC transit spokesman, had not taken his usual medication on the day in question. Whatever actually happened, the wish to see Bruso as an uncomplicated hero involves a serious cultural myopia—when, that is, it doesn’t involve simple racism.
We posted this earlier with a some frustration, worried that some were asking for too much in the form of social commentary in our Danny Trejo films. After some thought, we decided to reconsider the issue. Why? Well, the original incident — where a white man brutally attacked a black man in self-defense, as both sides used racist language — was never fully resolved, and as much as we love Danny Trejo, perhaps this is not the right way to resurface this story.
Large, unexplained explosion hits near Myanmar's largest city
17+killed in a blast in a suburb of Yangon, the country’s largest city, early Thursday morning local time
80+injured in the blast; witnesses said several smaller blasts followed the main explosion source
» Details still limited: Local officials have as of yet not explained what caused the blast. ”There are many casualties. We are not in a position to give you further information. We are still looking into it,” said a police officer from Mingalar Taungnyunt Township Police Station.