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In Blind Poll, Republicans Choose Progressive Budget Solutions Over Their Own Party's

In Blind Poll, Republicans Choose Progressive Budget Solutions Over Their Own Party's | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Kenneth Weene's insight:

The vast majority of Americans just want fair, balanced, and commonsensical solutions.

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Cribs: 12 Totally Awesome Cribs - ODDEE

Cribs: 12 Totally Awesome Cribs - ODDEE | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
You're gonna wish you were a baby again to be able to sleep in one of these.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Some great crib ideas here. Probably outside most budgets, but just imagine the baby cooing within.

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Can corporations go to hell? An existential quandary for the Supreme Court

Can corporations go to hell? An existential quandary for the Supreme Court | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
SCOTUS has decided corporations are people with a capacity for earnest religious conviction. So it only follows...
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Sadly, nobody raised this issue in the court hearings over Citizen's United or Hobby Lobby. I would love to have heard Justice Scalia try to integrate his rather basic and fundamental Christianity with that problem. Would he maintain that there are two classes of individuals? That might be a sticky wicket for him.

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Widows Walk

Widows Walk | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

A tale of love, faith, responsibility, and family.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

I sure hope you've read this one. Please help get the word out.

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US job openings near 13-year high, hiring rises

US job openings near 13-year high, hiring rises | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of U.S.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Quick, let's blame Obama. Whoops, wait a minute, things are getting good. Well, everyone should hate him anyway. Right? Maybe in five years we'll figure out that the man has done a decent job.

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Dogs Love Being Petted Way More Than Verbal Praise, Research Shows

Dogs Love Being Petted Way More Than Verbal Praise, Research Shows | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

New research has revealed that dogs love being petted more than anything, and while verbal praise is also welcome, for a canine nothing comes close to long hard stroking.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

I prefer being petted, too.

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The Neuroscience of Near-Death Experiences

The Neuroscience of Near-Death Experiences | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

When people report having profound out-of-body experiences during close brushes with death, skeptics often attribute it to physiological and psychological factors.

Robert Mays, who has studied near-death experiences (NDEs) for some 30 years, looked at some of these factors during a talk at the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) 2014 Conference in Newport Beach, Calif., on Aug. 29.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

I know that at the end of her life my mother, who was suffering severe dementia, suddenly asked my permission to "go home." It was clear that she meant she needed my permission to die, which I granted. Two days later, she was gone. Why my permission, not my father's or my brothers? Well, that is a story I now think I understand, but one which I am hesitant to share. At any rate, she was for the moment lucid, perhaps in some ways more lucid than she had ever been during my life.

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Behemoth Argentine dinosaur Dreadnoughtus made T. rex look puny

Behemoth Argentine dinosaur Dreadnoughtus made T. rex look puny | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The word big does not do justice to a massive, long-necked dinosaur that shook the Earth in Argentina about 77 million years ago. Try colossal, enormous, gargantuan and stupendous - and you might come close to an accurate description of this behemoth, known to scientists as Dreadnoughtus schrani. Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who discovered the dinosaur and led the effort for its excavation and analysis, said the scientists calculated its weight on the basis of the bones in its upper arm and thigh. Dreadnoughtus weighed more than an adult sperm whale or a herd of African elephants.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Wow, what a colossus. Got to love paleontology; how else would we know about these "great" dinosaurs? 

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The Business Behind the High-Speed Fatwa

The Business Behind the High-Speed Fatwa | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi created a stir last week when he issued a fatwa declaring that high-speed and mobile internet is immoral and contravenes Islamic law. In a press conference just day later, President Hassan Rouhani sought to make light of the cleric’s decree, joking that “if we want to download an article we must sit for hours and sometimes we fall sleep.” The president also presented his own plans for high-speed internet as a sealed decision, invoking Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s remarks about the imperatives of scientific progress. 

Shirazi, who happens to also be a Holocaust-denier, falls squarely in the camp of establishment ayatollahs whose rulings and rhetoric bolster the most conservative vision of the Islamic Republic, and is prone to giving rulings that are useful to the hardline agenda of the movement. 

His edict provided hardliners a new front on which to attack Rouhani’s government and there was even talk that Minister of Communications and Technology, Mahmoud Vaezi, should be impeached. Rouhani’s foes accuse the government of trying to bypass the Supreme Council for Cyberspace, a body that defines how the internet must be used or offered, but Vaezi has denied this charge and argued that existing regulations would not be altered by internet at a higher speed.

 

The Real Issue

But the hardliners are not really troubled about the speed of the Internet, their true concerns originate elsewhere. 

The context extends back to the autumn of 2011, when billboards went up across Tehran and the nearby city of Karaj with the slogan “Your Life in Your Hands”. The ads belonged to RighTel, a new internet and SIM card provider. RighTel corporation was formed in 2007 and a year later received a permit to provide Iranians with high-speed internet. It began aggressively advertising its presence on the market and its services for video calls became hugely popular.

At the outset, criticism of Rightel, even from the hardline media, was limited to technical issues –  limited coverage, high prices and slow speed. But slowly the tenor of the criticism began to shift. In January 2013 Cyber Police officials declared that video calls posed a grave threat to the sanctity of the family and were in violation of Sharia, as they permitted unrelated men and women to communicate with one another.

In November 2012 Fars News Agency reported that RighTel could not air its commercials on the state-run TV because the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) “believes that it has a monopoly on broadcasting video. Therefore it considers that RighTel, by providing the ability to communicate both voice and video at high speed is violating IRIB’s privileges.”

RighTel issued statements and tried to convince its opponents that it observed both Islamic concerns and existing regulations, but it was too late.

 



 

Techno-phone Ayatollahs

The ayatollahs entered the fray and issued fatwas on the forbidden nature of communication between unrelated men and women through video phones. The arguments then found their way to the floor of the parliament and to the Supreme Council for Cyberspace.

In February 2013 the government banned RighTel products from schools and the company announced that it would only sell its SIM cards to people over 18.

At that time Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa on communicating through video phones which said “There is no doubt that it corrupts more than it does good. It would be just another source of corruption in our society which unfortunately is suffering from many corruptions.”  Ayatollah Alavi Gorgani, who is no friend of the Supreme Leader, agreed by saying that providing video phones “whether by the government or by the private sector is wrong and is against Sharia laws.”

These edicts fuelled the notion that high-speed and mobile internet was abetting social corruption, and some hardline media began accusing providers of working with prostitution gangs. In April 2013 the Supreme Council for Cyberspace banned RighTel from offering video phone services altogether. According to Rouhani’s Minister of Communication this ban is still in effect and no company is allowed to provide services for video phones.

In June of 2013 RighTel sought to receive a “cultural permit” (or “cultural justification”) for its video service from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. It offered a nine-month contract for about $10 million for a joint project with the Qom seminary, the Ministry of Communications and two universities. In September 2013 the Minister of Communications announced that the draft of the “justification” was ready and was under review. In February 2014 the Deputy Minister of Communications declared that pending total supervision and control the RighTel service could resume.

But the new edict by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has brought this project to a halt, with Vaezi announcing that no new firm can offer video phone services.

Mashregh News, a site which presents itself as a vanguard in the cultural war against the West, wrote that until all legal and technical steps are taken to control the content of the internet, high-speed “is against national interests and is treasonous.”

 

The Business 

We must not forget that this cultural and ideological fight has a commercial side as well. Besides the opposition of IRIB, the entry of new providers into the marketplace ended the monopoly of RighTel. It is quite possible that various firms are involved behind the scenes, in order to prevent competitors from benefiting by offering video phone services.

A high-speed internet capable of supporting both video and voice would make a loser of another contender: the Telecommunication Company of Iran, a firm established in 1971 under the Shah as a state-owned corporation that the Islamic Republic only privatized in 2007. In October 2009 Mobin Trust Consortium purchased 51 percent of the company for $8 billion. Two of the three companies that make up this consortium belong to the Revolutionary Guards and third one belongs to Setad (or the Headquarters for Executing the Orders of the Imam), a multi-sector business conglomerate supervised by Ayatollah Khamenei. It is to be expected that they are worried about losing profits in the marketplace.

The quarrel has a political aspect as well. The Supreme Council for Cyberspace was formed in March 2012 by directive from Khamenei to control Iran’s cyber policies. In the past year Rouhani’s government has tried to side-step the oversight of this intruding body. The confrontation between the two came to a head when Rouhani forbid the implementation of the Council’s decision to filter WhatsApp Messenger, a software and subscription service that allows smartphones to use the internet for sending and receiving text messages, audio, video and location information. The Council reacted angrily, fearful that it was losing its authority under Rouhani. 

With all these concerns involved in the fray, what is clear that the dispute over high-speed internet is overlayed by both political and business interests. Ayatollah Shirazi’s fatwa only hints at all that is involved. 
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Two things are clear to me: First, nothing is more dangerous to a monolithic government (civil or theocratic) that unfettered, individual access to high speed Internet. Heck if for no other reason than their ability to read my posts. Second, there is nothing more essential in the modern world to the success of bureaucratic institutions (government, e.g. military, or private businesses) than the availability of high speed Internet, i.e. the failure of the American V.A.. This may be become a very interesting issue in Iraq. My bet is on improved Internet service. And if I were the American foreign service, I might be making overtures to provide any assistance towards that end we could. Of course, they may be better off going to some other country for assistance. Anybody for an Indian-Iranian axis?

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10 Weird Back To School Supplies (back-to-school, school supplies) - ODDEE

10 Weird Back To School Supplies (back-to-school, school supplies) - ODDEE | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
From bulletproof backpacks to adult crayons, check out these ten questionable school accessories. (back-to-school, school supplies)
Kenneth Weene's insight:

So it's back to school time. I'm glad I don't have to be there. Here are some weird school supplies that students might like.

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12 Creative Cooking Tools You Can Actually Buy (creative cooking, cooking tools) - ODDEE

12 Creative Cooking Tools You Can Actually Buy (creative cooking, cooking tools) - ODDEE | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Cooking your favorite meals doesn't have to be boring. With these 12 cool cooking tools, you can be a great chef and have fun too! (creative cooking, cooking tools)
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Okay, this egg cup is cute. Some may actually be useful. Overall, this is a fun way to start the day of social media.

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Three quarters of whites don’t have any non-white friends

Three quarters of whites don’t have any non-white friends | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Data show that for most white Americans, none of their best friends are black.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I first saw this on Facebook, and I thought it worth sharing. Personally, I seldom think about the race of my friends unless there is a specific reason, for example when discussing Indian topics with one of my Native American friends or Indian topics with one of my Indian friends (from India) or Black related issues with one of my Black friends, or ... You get the point. But all of them, Indian, Indian, Black, Hispanic, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Euro-American, or European, etc.: all of them share two very important qualities: they are intelligent and caring people. Does anything else really matter? Oh, yeah, I love and respect them all.

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NRA Tweets About Kids Having Fun At Shooting Range After Uzi Accident

NRA Tweets About Kids Having Fun At Shooting Range After Uzi Accident | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The NRA Women's Twitter account blasted out suggestions for making practice at the shooting range fun for kids on Wednesday, less than two days after a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot her shooting instructor at an outdoor range in Arizona.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Animal shaped targets and exploding targets to make shooting more fun for kids: great ideas from the NRA's women's division. How about a target of a shooting instructor with an exploding head? Sorry, but at some point maybe they should take kids shooting guns seriously. When I learned to shoot (as a kid) it was with much care and safety once goal one. Yeah, this is become gun madness.

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Civil War soldier to get Medal of Honor for overlooked role in pivotal battle

Civil War soldier to get Medal of Honor for overlooked role in pivotal battle | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Alonzo Cushing, a Union lieutenant, will receive the Medal of Honor 151 years after he displayed heroism during the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

As a history buff, I loved this. While I detest war, I admire courage under fire. Assuredly, he died in what IMHO was a good cause, not only saving the union but also ending the evil of slavery in the U.S.

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10 Weirdest Islands (islands, weird, sea) - ODDEE

10 Weirdest Islands (islands, weird, sea) - ODDEE | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
From the stunning Pacific atoll that is supposedly cursed to a secret society's rustic retreat, check out these 10 unusual island getaways. (islands, weird, sea)
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Some fascinating [;aces to visit of not. I love the island within a lake, within and island within an island within the Pacific Ocean.

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Amazing old pictures in color (world war i color photos, photo colorize) - ODDEE

Amazing old pictures in color (world war i color photos, photo colorize) - ODDEE | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

Color film was non-existent in 1909 Russia, yet in that year a photographer named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii embarked on a photographic survey of his homeland and captured hundreds of photos in full, vivid color. His photographic plates were black and white, but he had developed an ingenious photographic technique which allowed him to use them to produce accurate color images.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

Some great old pictures from France, Germany, and Russia done in color when that was a rarity. Enjoy!

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ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG TO WRITE by Salvatore Buttaci | The Write Room Blog

ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG TO WRITE by Salvatore Buttaci | The Write Room Blog | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

When I had my first writing published in the New York Sunday News in 1957, my parents thought it justified buying me a Remington typewriter. I loved that machine! I kept it in the corner of our kitchen, safe in its dark brown case, and after homework, I would carry it to the kitchen table, remove it from its case, and sit there thinking of what to write.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

Sal Buttaci is one of my favorite writers. It's a pleasure to share his recollections and advice to parents.

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Six Flags' Iconic Colossus Roller Coaster Catches Fire, Portion Collapses

Six Flags' Iconic Colossus Roller Coaster Catches Fire, Portion Collapses | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The iconic theme-park ride has been shut for three weeks while renovation and upgrading work takes place
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I love roller coasters. Even though I never rode this one, I shall mourn its loss. I may have to have a Nathans Coney Island Hotdog as tribute. 

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Ancient superfoods saved (and savored) by modern palates | Al Jazeera America

Ancient superfoods saved (and savored) by modern palates | Al Jazeera America | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

Perhaps it An heirloom grain revival takes root in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands

Kenneth Weene's insight:

The supermarket mentality, the failure to curb population, and the belief that science always does the right thing have been major forces in driving us away from healthier eating. This is a refreshing change. Many of my Native American friends are involved in trying to make traditional seeds more available. Sadly, theirs are often among the worst diets as the U.S. government sends them surplus junk instead of encouraging healthy local farming.

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BERLIN: How a German soldier-artist saved Dutch Jews from the Nazis | Europe | McClatchy DC

BERLIN: How a German soldier-artist saved Dutch Jews from the Nazis | Europe | McClatchy DC | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
This is the story of how a beloved German children’s book illustrator, while serving in the army of Nazi Germany, saved the lives of hundreds of Jews from Adolf Hitler’s death machine.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

In a world of great evil, there will always be a few heroes who will strive to make a difference. "The person who saves one life saves all of mankind."

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The Religious Right’s ‘Nice Guy’ Who Threw His Wife Under the Bus

The Religious Right’s ‘Nice Guy’ Who Threw His Wife Under the Bus | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Bob McDonnell went from GOP family-values godsend to blaming everything on his ‘nut bag’ wife. Yet the Rolex-taking ‘Mr. Honest’ never acknowledged his own bad behavior.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

The religious right remind me of the religious people of Jerusalem who could not see the money changers in the temple nor the self-serving corruption of the high priests. Unquestioningly, they shouted "Crucify him," on cue. But then they reminded me of those who said, "Let's make do here in Egypt," and those who said, "Why be upset that Arabs believing in all these different gods end up fighting one another? My caravans are getting through." If I have two rules in my life, they are NEVER TRUST A RELIGIOUS LEADER WHO IS GOOD WITH THE STATUS QUO and NEVER TRUST A POLITICAL LEADER WHO TELLS YOU (S)HE IS GETTING HIS(HER) INSPIRATION FROM GOD.

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10 Incredible Tales Of Cracks (cracks, nature, broken) - ODDEE

10 Incredible Tales Of Cracks (cracks, nature, broken) - ODDEE | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Just because something is cracked doesn't mean it is broken or useless. For every crack, there's a story to go along with it. Here are 10 incredible things involving cracks. (cracks, nature, broken)
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Some fascinating bits and bibbles of factoids here. As a writer, a couple of them tease my creativity.

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Brechtomania | Al Jazeera America

Brechtomania | Al Jazeera America | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Why Marxist playwright Berthold Brecht is theater’s hottest old name
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I love Brecht. Yes, the times demand we look at inequality and the displacement of the common person; but his plays are also moving because they look into the soul of characters. If you love theater as much as I do, be sure to catch this weeks It Matters Radio ( www.itmattersradio.com ) ; my guest is Chris Haines, co-founder and artistic director or an outstanding theater company.

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India launches bank accounts for all

India launches bank accounts for all | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Kenneth Weene's insight:

To issue the necessary papers and to clear the bureaucratic hurdles to make this happen will not be easy, but to bring the poor of his country into the modern economy is a major goal. Good luck to Mr. Modi.

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Let’s talk about sex (more): Education, conversation is the way to help prevent sexual assault

Let’s talk about sex (more): Education, conversation is the way to help prevent sexual assault | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
There's no single solution to America's sexual assault crisis, but teaching kids about sex is one place to start
Kenneth Weene's insight:

A simple piece of advice from me: If you can't discuss having sex and can't discuss whether you want to have sex with one another, you really shouldn't be doing it. It makes no sense to engage in behavior you can't talk about. Rape and assault will hurt us all, but shared words will never harm us.

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Federal judge strikes down part of Utah's ban on polygamy

Federal judge strikes down part of Utah's ban on polygamy | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal judge declared a portion of Utah's polygamy ban unconstitutional late Wednesday, essentially decriminalizing polygamy in the state. U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddo...
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I have no problem with consenting adults entering into multiple person relationships which are in their eyes marriages. I do not think government benefits, such as social security, can reasonably be shared over multiple spouses. Also, and this is the biggie, I don't think the use of welfare to support those not in the "primary legal" relationship should be allowed. Obviously, the consenting adult bit is very important; no forced child marriages. But multiple spouses? Why not?

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