Tuesday, August 30, 2016

ThreeA's Black Widow figure available for preorder

At the BBTS.

"The Philippine Drug Crackdown Has Claimed 2,000 Lives in Two Months"

"Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines since June 30, has continued his bloody war on illegal drugs, resulting in more than 2,000 violent deaths over the past two months at the hands of law enforcement, vigilante groups, and other unidentified actors."

White Dwarf magazine is back



GW:

It’s here at last – the start of the latest, greatest incarnation of White Dwarf, the Ultimate Warhammer Magazine. At 156 full-colour A4 pages, it’s a beast of a magazine bringing you all your favourites from White Dwarf’s long history, freshly re-imagined, alongside a whole heap of stuff you never dreamed of. We’ve got all the latest news in Planet Warhammer, Army of the Month, the Battle Report, A Tale of Four Warlords, the Ultimate Guide, Blanchitsu, Readers’ Models and much, much more. That’s not to mention that this issue is a boxed game special, bringing you 24 pages of rules for no less than 9 different games! This is simply the finest issue of White Dwarf we’ve ever made. Get one now – and check out our subscription offers, because there’s much, much more to come.

Released on Friday 2 September, the first issue comes with our most amazing cover mount ever, a special gift to you to celebrate the glorious return of monthly White Dwarf.

"There is no national database of guns. We have no centralized record of who owns . . . the firearms"

GQ:

Anytime a cop in any jurisdiction in America wants to connect a gun to its owner, the request for help ends up here, at the National Tracing Center, in a low, flat, boring building that belies its past as an IRS facility, just off state highway 9 in Martinsburg, West Virginia

...

The National Tracing Center is not allowed to have centralized computer data.

“That's the big no-no,” says Charlie.

That's been a federal law, thanks to the NRA, since 1986: No searchable database of America's gun owners. So people here have to use paper, sort through enormous stacks of forms and record books that gun stores are required to keep and to eventually turn over to the feds when requested. It's kind of like a library in the old days—but without the card catalog. They can use pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No searching by gun owner. No searching by name.

...

Every corridor in the whole place is lined with boxes, boxes up to the eyeballs. In the loading dock, there's a forklift beeping, bringing in more boxes. “You go, ‘Whoa!’ ” he says. “Okay? Yeah, but a million a month?” Almost 2 million new gun records every month he has to figure out what to do with.

"A 25-year-old with no Trump ties raises $1 million by dangling 'dinner' with the GOP nominee"

Po:

In just its first three weeks of operation, Hawes’ PAC spent more than $108,000 on Facebook ads, offering an opportunity to win “Dinner with Donald Trump” — and netted itself nearly $350,000 in donations, according to federal records.

The biggest chunk of the money raised — $133,000 — went to a company that Hawes founded and owns, CartSoft LLC. The purpose of the payments is described on federal records as “media” and “media purchasing,” though CartSoft’s website describes itself as an online payment-processing platform.

Since its launch, the PAC has collected more than $1 million, Hawes told POLITICO. It has reportedly spent $0 on behalf of Trump.

...

But the dinner scheme is just the beginning.

"International corporations that want to intimidate countries have access to a private legal system designed just for them"

BF:

ISDS was originally devised as a forum in which to resolve conflicts between countries and the foreign companies that do business within their borders. But the system puts countries at a striking disadvantage.

Only companies can bring suit. A country can only defend itself; it cannot sue a company. Arbitrators who decide the cases are often drawn from the ranks of the same highly paid corporate lawyers who argue ISDS cases. These arbitrators have broad authority to interpret the rules however they want, without regard to precedent and with almost no public oversight.

...

ISDS was once an obscure quirk of international law, but it has exploded in recent years, as elite law firms have devised new and creative ways to deploy it.


...

A Newcrest spokesman told reporters at the time that the company regretted that the shooting had occurred, but said, “It’s really in a sense nothing to do with Newcrest although it did happen on our site.”

"A crucial clinical trial of the most promising new treatment for Parkinson’s disease in decades might be delayed because of a feud between a key scientist and the influential Michael J. Fox Foundation"

SN:

The trial offers Moussa, a little-known scientist, a chance to vault into the top ranks of researchers, while Fox and its collaborators could reinforce their standing and tap into a bonanza of donations from wealthy philanthropists and worried patients.

The episode also highlights the tension between scientists and foundations that are no longer content simply to dole out money. Following the lead of the colossal Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, major medical research philanthropies increasingly seek to coordinate or manage studies, or control details of how they are done — vexing many grant recipients.

"The U.S. is on track this year to post the longest stretch of falling food prices in more than 50 years"

WSJ:

Nationwide, the price of a gallon of whole milk on average was down 11% to $3.06 in July over a year ago; the price of a dozen large eggs fell 40% to $1.55 in the same period.

...

The glut is so severe in some places that dairy farmers have been dumping millions of pounds of excess milk onto fields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just bought $20 million worth of cheese in response to hard-hit dairy farmers’ requests. The cheese was given to food banks and others through USDA nutrition-assistance programs.

"Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall"

NYT:

the ice wall is intended to seal off the reactor buildings within a vast, rectangular-shaped barrier of man-made permafrost. If it becomes successfully operational as soon as this autumn, the frozen soil will act as a dam to block new groundwater from entering the buildings. It will also help stop leaks of radioactive water into the nearby Pacific Ocean, which have decreased significantly since the calamity but may be continuing.

However, the ice wall has also been widely criticized as an expensive and overly complex solution that may not even work.

...

Since the accident, five robots sent into the reactor buildings have failed to return

Monday, August 29, 2016

Two books from my wishlist on sale at Amazon:

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam is $1.99:

The inspiration for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival documentary, NUTS!. “An extraordinary saga of the most dangerous quack of all time...entrancing” –USA Today

In 1917, John R. Brinkley–America’s most brazen con man–introduced an outlandish surgical method for restoring fading male virility.

It was all nonsense, but thousands of eager customers quickly made “Dr.” Brinkley one of America’s richest men–and a national celebrity. The great quack buster Morris Fishbein vowed to put the country’ s “most daring and dangerous” charlatan out of business, yet each effort seemed only to spur Brinkley to new heights of ingenuity, and the worlds of advertising, broadcasting, and politics soon proved to be equally fertile grounds for his potent brand of flimflam.

Culminating in a decisive courtroom confrontation, Charlatan is a marvelous portrait of a boundlessly audacious rogue on the loose in an America ripe for the bamboozling.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle: A Novel is $2.99:
George V. Higgins's seminal crime novel is a down-and-dirty tale of thieves, mobsters, and cops on the mean streets of Boston. When small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle is convicted on a felony, he's looking at three years in the pen--that is, unless he sells out one of his big-fish clients to the DA. But which of the many hoods, gunmen, and executioners whom he calls his friends should he send up the river? Told almost entirely in crackling dialogue by a vivid cast of lowlifes and detectives, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the greatest crime novels ever written.

“The best crime novel ever written--makes The Maltese Falcon read like Nancy Drew.” -- Elmore Leonard

"I tried to help this psychiatrist figure out why Facebook is recommending that her patients friend each other"

Fu:

“He laughed and said, ‘I don’t know any of these people who showed up on my list— I’m guessing they see you,'” recounted Lisa. “He showed me the list of friend recommendations, and I recognized some of my patients.”

She sat there awkwardly and silently. To let him know that his suspicion was correct would violate her duty to protect her patients’ privacy.

Another one of her female patients had a friend recommendation pop up for a fellow patient she recognized from the office’s elevator. Suddenly, she knew the other patient’s full name along with all their Facebook profile information.