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Janken (rock-paper-scissors) Robot with 100% winning rate

A Robot with 100% winning rate at Rock/Paper/Scissors thanks to a high-speed camera which predicts the human hand’s impending play, and reacts within one millisecond — faster than the human eye can process.

Just another step closer to Judgement Day.

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Pelosi Hits GOP: Does Less Work Than 'Family of Retirees'

Pelosi Hits GOP: Does Less Work Than 'Family of Retirees' | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON -- Following reports that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was not even going to try to pass an immigration bill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scolded him Thursday for doing less work than a "family of retirees."

Calling the decision "outrageous," Pelosi argued that not only could the House pass the immigration bill if Boehner would try, but it could also pass a bill to improve background checks for gun purchases and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ban employers from firing people because of their sexual identity.

"ENDA, background checks and comprehensive immigration reform -- it's right there, it's right there," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly briefing on Capitol Hill. "It requires it to be bipartisan because we don't have the majority, but we say to the speaker, bring up immigration any way you want -- singly, jointly, severally -- anything -- just bring it up so we can take some votes on it."

Pelosi made it clear, however, that she didn't really expect any action in a Congress that is about the least productive in history.

"I don't know that they ever intend to do anything -- again," Pelosi said. "The legislative branch, the first article of the Constitution, the first branch of government, the legislative branch -- and we're not legislating. We are not legislating. But we could."

Asked if the House could focus on another piece of legislation that crosses party lines -- reforming spying by the National Security Agency -- Pelosi was especially dismissive.

"You know what the agenda is around here," Pelosi said. "Not only is it family friendly. It's family friendly for a family of retirees. Nothing gets done. 'Let's just go home early, if we come in at all,'" she said, paraphrasing the attitude she attributes to Boehner.

The Ryno's insight:

"I don't know that they ever intend to do anything -- again," Pelosi said. "The legislative branch, the first article of the Constitution, the first branch of government, the legislative branch -- and we're not legislating. We are not legislating. But we could."

 
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Andy Kaufman's Brother Says Comedian is Alive, in Love and Has a Daughter

Andy Kaufman's Brother Says Comedian is Alive, in Love and Has a Daughter | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
A mysterious woman's claims that she is the daughter of Andy Kaufman have helped to revive long-standing rumors -- fueled in life by Kaufman himself -- that the comedian may have faked his own death.

The far-fetched admission, reported first by The Comic's Comic and Defamer, occurred Monday night at the Andy Kaufman Awards, held annually at the Gotham Comedy Club. The woman was introduced by Michael Kaufman, Andy's brother, who first explained how years ago he'd discovered an essay in which Andy detailed plans to fake his death. Official records state the Taxi star died in 1984 at age 35, of lung cancer. (See a copy of his death certificatehere.) Were he alive today, Kaufman would be 64 years old.

"I witnessed the entire thing and I can tell you without a doubt this was not a prank," says Al Parinello, a lifelong friend of the comedian who produces the awards. Parinello relayed toThe Hollywood Reporter how Michael, whom he describes as "accountant-like" in demeanor and not prone to mounting hoaxes, followed instructions in the essay to meet his brother at a specific restaurant on Christmas Eve, 1999.

Michael did so, he said, whereupon a man he did not know walked up to him and handed him a typed letter. The letter, which Michael read for the crowd on Monday night, was allegedly from Andy, who wrote that "everything was great in his life and he just wanted to get away from being Andy Kaufman," Parinello says. The letter also stated that the comedian, famous for his bizarre alter-egos like cantankerous lounge singer Tony Clifton, had fallen in love with a woman and that the couple were raising a daughter together. 

 

(CLICK PIC TO READ ENTIRE POST)

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The Disastrous, Watery Future of South Florida

The Disastrous, Watery Future of South Florida | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
Barring a huge public works project the likes of which the world has never seen, south Florida is doomed. Its end will come not from Bugs Bunny wielding a saw, but from the gentle lapping of waves higher and higher upon the shore.
The Ryno's insight:

South Florida is doomed if sea levels rise even a few feet (and they will). Why is no one taking any steps to prevent or fix it?

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Breaking Bad Spinoff Better Call Saul May Be a Sequel/Prequel Hybrid - IGN

Breaking Bad Spinoff Better Call Saul May Be a Sequel/Prequel Hybrid - IGN | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
We talk to Saul Goodman himself, Bob Odenkirk, about the possibility of Better Call Saul as a prequel/sequel hybrid. Plus the comedy/drama mix.
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How Politics, Partisanship, and Spin Doomed Healthcare.gov

How Politics, Partisanship, and Spin Doomed Healthcare.gov | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
For four years we've watched the public political spat over President Obama's Affordable Care Act, but the Washington Post has given us a view into what it looks like when a political fight gets into the twitch muscles of an administration.

In an in-depth investigation into the implementation of the president’s health care law, the paper's reporters describe the creation of a jalopy built by a deeply flawed system. The problems piled up over years, flowing from both Republican obstructionism and the hyper political sensitivity of the Obama administration. This mix led to decisions based on politics instead of efficiency, which created the complexity and delay that contributed to the problems the president is scrambling to fix today. 

Healthcare.gov’s collapse touches on the big issues of the Obama administration because the website represents a multiyear effort to implement the president's greatest vision. As the Washington Post outlines, three years before the site became an embarrassment, the seeds of its destruction were evident. The ingredients are familiar: partisan hurdles thrown up by the GOP, the jumpy political instincts of administration aides, administration insularity, spin that borders on deception, bureaucratic clots, and the bold and sprawling scope of the project. The question at the heart of this story—and, in a sense, of the entire Obama administration—is, what percentage of each element contributed to the ultimate outcome? 

The hero of the Post narrative is David Cutler of Harvard, an Obama adviser who wrote a four-page memo in 2010 outlining a number of structural flaws he saw in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Many of those structural flaws led to the public mess we're now witnessing. “I am concerned that the personnel and processes you have in place are not up to the task, and that health reform will be unsuccessful as a result,” he wrote to the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers. The memo would seem to refute those who suggest that the failure of healthcare.gov is simply the kind of rocky rollout that attends any product launch. ....

 

(CLICK PIC TO READ ENTIRE POST)

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Britney Spears Used By Navy To Scare Somalian Pirates

Britney Spears Used By Navy To Scare Somalian Pirates | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

In its fight against piracy on the high seas, the U.S Navy is now employing some pretty radical scare tactics to dissuade pirates.

 Captains on ships have found that blaring Britney Spears tracks loudly, is very off-putting for the pirates, who are often from the Muslim country of Somalia.

Oops! I Did it Again and Baby One More Time are two of the favorite tracks blasted by ship captains who want to avoid having the Somalian pirates board their ships.

Second Officer Owens, a worker on one such ship off the east coast of Africa, said that they choose Britney Spears’ songs as she is particularly unpopular with the pirates:

“Her songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most. These guys can’t stand Western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect,” he said.

The pirates often board ships and kidnap passengers in order to gain large ransoms. One such case, back in 2009, saw a 17,000 ton ship boarded by pirates en route from Oman to Mombassa.

All 20 of the crew members on board were taken as hostages before being ransomed. In 2011, a massive 176 attacks were reported to have taken place on ships near to the Horn of Africa.

Ms Owens, who works guiding tankers through the hazardous waters said that the ship’s speakers can be directed at the pirates, no matter how they approach the ship:

“It’s so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns. As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can.”

Steven Jones, from the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, said to reporters: “Pirates will go to any lengths to avoid or try to overcome the music. I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention,” he quipped.

One would assume that the tough Somalian pirates are unfazed by anything as they violently overtake vessels at sea and make money through piracy.

Who would have thought that a few songs from the much loved pop singer Britney Spears would be such an effective tool in the fight against piracy?

The Ryno's insight:

US Navy uses Britney Spears to scare away Somalian Pirates

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Billionaire Feels 'Guilty' About 'Having Gotten Rich At The Expense' Of All Of Us

Billionaire Feels 'Guilty' About 'Having Gotten Rich At The Expense' Of All Of Us | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

It's a Halloween miracle: A member of the 1 percent is fighting for the rest of us, and probably spooking the hell out of his own kind.

Wealthy people need to stop whining about the taxes they pay, realize their success is mostly dumb luck and pay even higher taxes to help the less fortunate, Bill Gross, the billionaire founder and chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., wrote to his wealthy investors on Thursday.

"Having gotten rich at the expense of labor, the guilt sets in and I begin to feel sorry for the less well-off," Gross writes in his latest monthly missive, entitled "Scrooge McDucks," posted on the website of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund. His letters are usually colorful and sometimes self-critical. But this one is notable for its direct mockery of his own wealthy peers and clients:

Admit that you, and I and others in the magnificent '1%' grew up in a gilded age of credit, where those who borrowed money or charged fees on expanding financial assets had a much better chance of making it to the big tent than those who used their hands for a living.

But Gross is not just assuaging his personal guilt by penning a cri de wallet: He suggests the soaring income inequality of the past few decades is a serious problem for the entire U.S. economy:

 

(CLICK PIC TO READ ENTIRE POST)

The Ryno's insight:

Nice to hear someone admit it:  

 

"Yes I know many of you money people worked hard as did I, and you survived and prospered where others did not. A fair economic system should always allow for an opportunity to succeed. Congratulations. Smoke that cigar, enjoy that Chateau Lafite 1989. But (mostly you guys) acknowledge your good fortune at having been born in the ‘40s, ‘50s or ‘60s, entering the male-dominated workforce 25 years later, and having had the privilege of riding a credit wave and a credit boom for the past three decades. You did not, as President Obama averred, “build that,” you did not create that wave. You rode it. And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions."

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Everything That's Wrong with HealthCare.gov

Everything That's Wrong with HealthCare.gov | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

The HealthCare.gov launch did not go so well. Some people paid the website a visit only to be greeted by a blank screen. Others found error messages or talked to misleading call center reps or had their personal information compromised. The whole thing is borked, and everybody knows it.

It's been less than a month now since the much anticipated home for the Obama administration's healthcare exchange went online, and it's going to be at least another month before it actually works. The problems are by no means minor. Reuters reports that hundreds of thousands of Americans could lose access to low-cost health insurance as a result of the botched launch. At this point, everybody's playing the blame game pretty hard. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blames the (too many) contractors who built the site. Obama blames himself. Americans, for some reason, seem to want to blame the girl in the stock photo on HealthCare.gov. But quite frankly we might never be able to find a single culprit.

So, as Bloomberg Businessweek commemorates the epic fail that was the Healthcare.gov launch with a wonderfully glitchy Obama cover, it's worth having a look how that fail actually happened.

 

(CLICK PIC TO CONTINUE READING)

The Ryno's insight:

A good simple breakdown of the problems plaguing Healthcare.gov

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Sources: Jonathan Martin leaves Dolphins after fellow O-Lineman make fun of him

Sources: Jonathan Martin leaves Dolphins after fellow O-Lineman make fun of him | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
Miami Dolphins starting offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team following an incident with teammates, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com.

According to sources, Martin was the subject of some ribbing on Monday and was angry about it. One source said Martin's fellow offensive linemen were behind the incident, and it happened in the Dolphins' lunch room.

"O-line made fun of him and he snapped," a source said.

Martin left the team this week and is listed as doubtful for Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengalsdue to an illness. Neither source was sure when Martin would return. Backup right tackle Tyson Clabo is expected to start in Martin's place.

Martin, a former Stanford product, was a 2012 second-round pick of the Dolphins. He has started every game for Miami this season. He spent the first six games at left tackle and one at right tackle.

According to Fox Sports 1, which had earlier reported the news on Wednesday evening, Martin is with his family and receiving treatment.

The Ryno's insight:

Don't they teach "sticks and stones' at Stanford?

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Five-star forward Devin Robinson picks Florida

Five-star forward Devin Robinson picks Florida | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

Devin Robinson has committed to Florida, he announced at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Robinson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Christchurch School (Va.), chose the Gators over Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. He joins Brandone Francis (No. 25 in 247Sports Composite) and Chris Chiozza (No. 38) in Florida's 2014 recruiting class.

Ranked No. 21 in the 247Sports Composite, Robinson is one of the best combo forwards in the class. Moreover, his ceiling is very high. At this point, Robinson is already a matchup nightmare for most opponents. He's long and athletic, and knows how to get points in a variety of ways. Robinson has consistent range out to the perimeter, and is able to finish at the rim in transition. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions and is an effective help defender due to his length.

Robinson's stock rose dramatically during the spring, when he burst onto the scene with the Squires Richmond AAU program. When the live period began in late April, Robinson's main offers were VCU, Virginia Tech, Connecticut, Rutgers, Towson and Boston University. That quickly changed, after a standout performance at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest.

An interesting note about Robinson: he's the first out-of-state five-star prospect to commit to Florida since 2011, when Brad Beal pledged to the Gators. Chris Walker and Kasey Hill were both five-star prospects in the class of 2013, but each was an in-state kid. Prior to Beal, Tennessee native Corey Brewer in 2004 was the last out-of-state five-star prospect.

With four seniors on the roster, Robinson will have the chance to make an immediate impact when he arrives in Gainesville in 2014. Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather are all gone from the frontcourt, meaning Robinson will join Chris Walker, Dorian Finney-Smith andDamontre Harris up front. Francis and Chiozza will compete with Hill, Eli Carter and Michael Frazier for minutes on the perimeter.

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Activist Post: 28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima

Activist Post: 28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

Every single day, 300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima enters the Pacific Ocean. That means that the total amount of radioactive material released from Fukushima is constantly increasing, and it is steadily building up in our food chain.


Ultimately, all of this nuclear radiation will outlive all of us by a very wide margin. They are saying that it could take up to 40 years to clean up the Fukushima disaster, and meanwhile countless innocent people will develop cancer and other health problems as a result of exposure to high levels of nuclear radiation. We are talking about a nuclear disaster that is absolutely unprecedented, and it is constantly getting worse. The following are 28 signs that the west coast of North America is being absolutely fried with nuclear radiation from Fukushima…


(CLICK PIC TO READ ENTIRE LIST)


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Official: Uruguay Will Sell Legal Marijuana For $1 Per Gram

Official: Uruguay Will Sell Legal Marijuana For $1 Per Gram | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

Uruguay's drug czar says the country plans to sell legal marijuana for $1 per gram, though he's given higher figures in the past.

A law already passed in the lower house of Congress and expected to pass in the Senate later this year would make Uruguay the first country in the world to license and enforce rules for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adult consumers.

The El Pais newspaper reported Sunday that drug chief Julio Calzada says marijuana sales should start in the second half of 2014 at a price of $1.

He says the idea isn't to make money, but to wrench the market away from illegal dealers. Calzada said in August that the price would be around $2.5 per gram.

Sales are for locals only.

The Ryno's insight:

Sure the weed might be garbage, but the $1/g pricetag does give you an idea as to how cheap marijuana could be if it's completely legalized. 

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Networks blamed shutdown on GOP in 41 stories --- 0 for Dems | WashingtonExaminer.com

Networks blamed shutdown on GOP in 41 stories --- 0 for Dems | WashingtonExaminer.com | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
Republicans never expected to get a fair shake in the Big Three networks' coverage of the 16-day government shutdown, but the final tally of stories blaming the GOP is stunning: 41 stories blamed Republicans and zero blamed Democrats.
The Ryno's insight:

Republicans furious that network news reported the facts of the government shutdown rather than the fastasy-spin version that portrays GOP as patriotic heroes

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Rob Ford is even more offensive and embarrassing than you thought

Rob Ford is even more offensive and embarrassing than you thought | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
The Toronto mayor's behavior suggests a performance artist exploring the limits of political discourse VIDEO

He was particularly angry about his staffers telling police that they thought a young friend of his was a prostitute.

“I don’t appreciate people calling Alana a prostitute, I never had a prostitute here, I’m very happily married at home,” he said. “She’s a friend and it makes me sick that people are saying this.”

It went on: Ford then said he never said “I want to eat your pussy” to a former female staffer, an allegation contained in the court document.

“I’m happily married, I have more than enough to eat at home,” he said, drawing gasps from the reporters gathered around his office.

The Ryno's insight:

...Ford then said he never said “I want to eat your pussy” to a former female staffer, an allegation contained in the court document.

“I’m happily married, I have more than enough to eat at home,” he said, drawing gasps from the reporters gathered around his office.

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John Kerry Is a Terrible Secretary of State | The Nation

John Kerry Is a Terrible Secretary of State | The Nation | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it
The United States' top diplomat is a figure of his times (and that's not a good thing.)
The Ryno's insight:

An insightful critique on the ineptitude of John Kerry and American foreign policy in general post-9/11

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Texas Hunters Will Kill Endangered Rhino In Attempt To Save Them All

Texas Hunters Will Kill Endangered Rhino In Attempt To Save Them All | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

Now this just doesn't make any damn sense: A hunting group based in Dallas will be auctioning off a permit to kill an endangered black rhinoceros, to raise money to save the endangered black rhinoceros.

"First and foremost, this is about saving the black rhino," Ben Carter, executive director of the Dallas Safari Club, told the Agence France Presse. Namibia has the right to kill five endangered rhinoceros, and it just so happened that the Dallas Safari Club won the right to do the deed this year. But at least they're trying to do good!

The permit is expected "to sell for at least $250,000, possibly up to $1 million," at the club's convention next year. The black rhinoceros population in Africa has been decimated by hunters looking to sell its valuable horn, which many believe possess special healing powers. The money would go to The Conservation Trust Fund, which protects black rhinos.

But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the plan.

"The world is seeing a concerted effort to preserve the very few black rhinos and other rhinos who are dodging poachers' bullets and habitat destruction," Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, told Al Jazeera. "The last thing they need are wealthy elites from foreign lands coming in to kill them for their heads."

But it would saaaave them. C'mon!

The Ryno's insight:

Texas hunters auctioning off license to kill one endangered black rhino to raise $250k to save all black rhinos. HUH?

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Was Yasser Arafat Poisoned with Radioactive Polonium?

Was Yasser Arafat Poisoned with Radioactive Polonium? | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

According to a report from Swiss scientists, Yasser Arafat's remains contained 18 times the normal levels of polonium-210, adding to already widespread-speculation that the former Palestinian leader was assassinated. The scientists said they were "83 percent" sure Arafat was poisoned with the radioactive metal.

"Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning," Dave Barclay, a UK forensic scientisttold Al Jazeera. "We found the smoking gun that caused his death. What we don't know is who's holding the gun at the time."

"The level of polonium in Yasser Arafat's rib…is about 900 milibecquerels," Barclay added. "That is either 18 or 36 times the average, depending on the literature."

The 108-page report, first published in Al Jazeera, was based on samples obtained after Arafat's body was exhumed last November. A French team of forensic experts are also investigating the samples as part of a murder investigation, as are a Russian team working on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive metal that is harmless to humans as long as it isn't ingested or otherwise absorbed into the bloodstream; if it is, exposure to a speck-sized amount could prove fatal. It's been used in several high-profile assassinations, most recently the 2006 poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko.

Arafat's death has long been the subject of assassination theories, in part because, when he died in November 2004, doctors at Percy Hospital in Paris did not perform an autopsy or release an official cause of death. One month before his transfer to Percy, during the second intifada, Arafat had fallen suddenly ill while eating dinner his compound in Ramallah, despite being in good health beforehand, according to the Swiss report.

"It is scientifically proved that he didn't die a natural death, and we have scientific proof that this man was killed." Arafat's widow, Suha, said, though she stopped short of blaming a specific party or country. "We can't point a finger at anyone, the French are conducting a serious investigation. It takes time."

 
The Ryno's insight:

One of the biggest thieves and scumbags of all time. He personally manipulated the Palestinian cause to steal and stash away billions of dollars. Responsible for many deaths and millions of more who still live in poverty. 

 

While the culprits are most likely the Israelis, Arafat had many enemies. Everyone benefited from this scumbag's death. 

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The Board of Education Finally Inspects Hogwarts

The Board of Education Finally Inspects Hogwarts | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

Hogwarts doesn't fair so well when inspected by the UK Board of Education

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Western black rhino declared extinct

Western black rhino declared extinct | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

London (CNN) -- Africa's western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world's largest conservation network.

The subspecies of the black rhino -- which is classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species -- was last seen in western Africa in 2006.

The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa's northern white rhino is "teetering on the brink of extinction" while Asia's Javan rhino is "making its last stand" due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

"In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented," Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement.

"These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction," Stuart added.

The IUCN points to conservation efforts which have paid off for the southern white rhino subspecies which have seen populations rise from less than 100 at the end of the 19th century to an estimated wild population of 20,000 today.

 

(CLICK PIC TO READ ENTIRE POST)

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GOP Threatens Mass Blockade Of Obama's Top Judges

GOP Threatens Mass Blockade Of Obama's Top Judges | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

Republicans are threatening a mass blockade of President Barack Obama's three most important judicial nominees ahead of an expected Thursday vote on the first of them.

Backed by House colleagues and GOP attorneys general from around the country, Senate Republican leaders are whipping opposition to advancing the nomination of Patricia Millett -- or anyone else -- for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is one notch below the Supreme Court and often has the final word on matters of executive authority.

"This week, Sen. Reid has teed up President Obama's court-packing plan for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a court that some people call the second most important court in the nation," Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters. "The last thing we need to do when money is tight ... is throw more money at unneeded judges on this court, in an attempt to simply pack the court in order to tilt that court ideologically in a way that favors the big government agenda of the Obama administration."

"We intend to stop it," he said.

Cornyn's court-packing claim is misleading -- it is a reference to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's attempts to expand the size of the Supreme Court; Obama merely wants to fill vacancies on the appellate level. But he repeated the talking point in multiple op-edsrecently, laying the groundwork for a mass filibuster and pressuring GOP senators not to allow Obama to fill any of the three vacant seats on the D.C. Circuit court.

"I can't think of anything more ridiculous," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Wednesday. "Making nominations to vacant judgeships is not court-packing. It's the president's job." Talking up Millett's qualifications as a Supreme Court litigator and her integrity, he said, "It is truly a shame that Republicans would filibuster this exceedingly qualified nominee for unrelated political reasons."

 

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Budget Deficit in U.S. Narrows to 5-Year Low on Record Revenue

Budget Deficit in U.S. Narrows to 5-Year Low on Record Revenue | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

The U.S. posted its smallest budget deficit in five years as employment gains helped propel revenue to a record.

Spending exceeded receipts by $680.3 billion in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, the narrowest gap since 2008, compared with a $1.09 trillion shortfall in fiscal 2012, the Treasury Department said today in Washington. In September, the U.S. recorded a $75.1 billion surplus, little changed from the surplus in the same month a year earlier.

Stronger hiring has helped reduce the country’s deficit as a share of gross domestic product by more than half in the past four years, narrowing it from a record $1.42 trillion in 2009. Bolstering revenue this year were higher payroll taxes Congress allowed in January, while spending growth has been limited by across-the-board cuts known as sequestration that lawmakers failed to prevent in March.

“We’ve made a lot of fiscal progress in the U.S. because of the sequester cuts, tax rates going back to historic norms and the economy improving,” said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “Politicians have, thus far, avoided the most difficult choices -- addressing unsustainable spending on entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid.”

Revenue jumped 15.2 percent to $301.4 billion in September from a year earlier, bringing the annual figure to $2.77 trillion, today’s report showed. Spending increased 21.5 percent to $226.4 billion last month, contributing to a 12-month total of $3.45 trillion, it showed.

The U.S. posted its smallest budget deficit in five years as employment gains helped propel revenue to a record.

 

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The Definitive Guide To Washington's Anonymous Sources

The Definitive Guide To Washington's Anonymous Sources | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

 

WASHINGTON -- As Congress has increasingly injected itself into people's lives by randomly disrupting them for no obvious reason, interest in the minute-to-minute goings on of these strange chambers of democracy, as evidenced by Google analytics, is on the rise among the general public. For those of you just walking into the theater, we thought a quick primer on some of the coded language the Capitol Hill press corps uses might be useful.

You have surely noticed that story after story is powered by the musings of anonymous congressional aides, lawmakers and White House officials. Can you believe any of this? Yes. But it depends. To a non-initiated reader, the description of these anonymous creatures may appear to be quite random. But embedded within them are major giveaways about the reliability of the information being passed on, and how much credit you should give it. For example, if the author of the story you're reading is an experienced Capitol Hill reporter, the description of the source you're reading is likely the result of an explicit agreement between the source and the reporter.

As an official -- who shall remain anonymous -- once put it to Politico's Glenn Thrush: "On the record is where the truth goes to die. On background means I'm spinning. Off the record means I'm telling the truth." If only it were that simple. Here's our definitive guide to decoding anonyspeak:

 

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McDonald’s tells workers to get food stamps (Video)

McDonald’s tells workers to get food stamps (Video) | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

McDonald’s cares about it’s employees. Mickey D’s is so caring they set up an 1-800 McResource’s Help-line to assist employees with their limited personal finances. One of McRespurces’ pearls of wisdom: go sign up for welfare assistance.

Yup, McDonald’s refuses to pay it’s loyal employees enough to survive, so they want/need taxpayers to pick up the slack. They’re not even hiding they’re shadiness – after all, #JobCreator.

Regardless of education level, there’s absolutely no reason – other than PROFITS – for any human being to work full time and not be paid a living wage. Further, it’s complete bullshit that taxpayers (including those very same employees) should subsidize these corporations who are screwing them to increase their profits.

I’d say raise the prices from $.99, but we all know where the increased profits would go.

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Prisoners Of Profit

Prisoners Of Profit | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

From a glance at his background, one might assume that James F. Slattery would have a difficult time convincing any state in America to entrust him with the supervision of its lawbreaking youth.

Over the past quarter century, Slattery’s for-profit prison enterprises have run afoul of the Justice Department and authorities in New York, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas for alleged offenses ranging from condoning abuse of inmates to plying politicians with undisclosed gifts while seeking to secure state contracts.

The Huffington Post uploaded and annotated the documents — including court transcripts, police reports, audits and inspection records — uncovered during this investigation.Hover over the highlighted passages to see the source document behind each fact.Click here to browse all the documents behind this report »

In 2001, an 18-year-old committed to a Texas boot camp operated by one of Slattery’s previous companies, Correctional Services Corp., came down with pneumonia and pleaded to see a doctor as he struggled to breathe. Guards accused the teen of faking it and forced him to do pushups in his own vomit, according to Texas law enforcement reports. After nine days of medical neglect, he died.

That same year, auditors in Maryland found that staff at one of Slattery’s juvenile facilities coaxed inmates to fight on Saturday mornings as a way to settle disputes from earlier in the week. In recent years, the company has failed to report riots, assaults and claims of sexual abuse at its juvenile prisons in Florida, according to a review of state records and accounts from former employees and inmates.

Despite that history, Slattery’s current company, Youth Services International, has retained and even expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. The company has capitalized on budgetary strains across the country as governments embrace privatization in pursuit of cost savings. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s juvenile delinquents are today committed to private facilities, according to the most recent federal data from 2011, up from about 33 percent twelve years earlier.

Over the past two decades, more than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through one of Slattery’s prisons, boot camps or detention centers, according to a Huffington Post analysis of juvenile facility data.

The private prison industry has long fueled its growth on the proposition that it is a boon to taxpayers, delivering better outcomes at lower costs than state facilities. But significant evidence undermines that argument: the tendency of young people to return to crime once they get out, for example, and long-term contracts that can leave states obligated to fill prison beds. The harsh conditions confronting youth inside YSI’s facilities, moreover, show the serious problems that can arise when government hands over social services to private contractors and essentially walks away....

 

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The Ryno's insight:

Yet another disgusting article on the horrific Private Prison industry, this time on its record of juveneille abuse. 

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I was an ObamaCare guinea pig

I was an ObamaCare guinea pig | Crap You Should Read | Scoop.it

...in the past, I spent several days looking for and comparing insurance options. Under ObamaCare, even with the slow and sticky website, I spent a total of four hours — to save over $5,400. That kind of return on investment would make Warren Buffett drool. 

Counter to wild stories about the government taking over health care, the exchange was simply a public portal to a range of all-private insurance options. I went with a “gold” plan for lower deductible and out-of-pocket costs. And I chose Blue Cross Blue Shield because my current primary doctor is in-network.

But one of the most exciting things is the new companies providing private insurance through the exchange; I’ll be watching the reviews over the next year and might change plans when re-enrollment comes around. 

As of October 20, the Associated Press reported that 476,000 Americans had filled out insurance applications through the federal and state exchanges. Not bad, considering the poor performance of the sign-up websites. 

But it’s only been 20 days since the exchanges launched, and folks have 60 more days (through December 15) to sign up for coverage to take effect on January 1, 2014. And people have 60 days after that (February 15) before the individual mandate penalty kicks in. 

In other words, there’s still plenty of time to fix the websites and for more Americans to enroll — and save. Meanwhile, we know that in a state like Oregon, ObamaCare has already reduced the number of uninsured individuals by 10%.  Glitches aside, that’s a great start.

We’ve suffered through four years of outlandish attacks against ObamaCare -- that it will kill our grandmothers, or at least just kill our economy. But the fact is that ObamaCare has created a private marketplace so that millions of American families like mine can get affordable, quality health insurance while keeping more of our hard-earned money.

Ideologues may not like ObamaCare, but my wallet and my family’s health sure do.

 

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The Ryno's insight:

Fox News writer Sally Kohn was an Obamacare guinea-pig, and she LOVES it. 

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