Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"what the US military was witnessing was not [space] debris at all, but instead a satellite with a dangerous capability"

CNN:

"This satellite has been maneuvering through geosynchronous space ... cozying up close to various communications satellites, listening to what traffic is flowing over those," said Paul Graziani, CEO of civilian satellite tracker Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI).

Over the course of a year, Graziani's team has watched as Luch parked itself next to three US commercial satellites and one European satellite. The Russians flew the satellite close enough to collect both civilian and, possibly, sensitive military information.

...

"We saw the approach, we saw the larger spacecraft come close to the smaller spacecraft, and then we no longer saw the smaller spacecraft," said Graziani.

The only reasonable explanation, experts say, is that the Shiyan has a robotic arm that was repeatedly grabbing and then releasing its smaller partner.

"How to Hide $400 Million"

NYT:

A few weeks after she realized her husband was finally leaving her, Sarah Pursglove flew down to the Bahamas to figure out how much money he really had.

...

A special Internal Revenue Service division known as the “wealth squad,” set up in 2010 to crack down on high-end tax evaders with multinational holdings, today has enough manpower to assess only about 200 cases a year.

Pursglove would rely on her own wealth squad: a pair of highly creative lawyers, using Pursglove herself as the ultimate informant. It would take them more than two years and millions of dollars to breach the defenses of the offshore financial world.

...

trusts organized in the Cook Islands, a self-governing state associated with New Zealand, are particularly difficult to investigate. Cook courts typically do not recognize American court orders, including divorce judgments. To sue a Cook trust, you have to actually fly to the Cook Islands, in the middle of the South Pacific, roughly 6,000 miles southwest of Florida. “It’s like Switzerland used to be, but squared,”

"Sometime before midnight Monday a ship dropped its anchor and broke, not one, not two, but three undersea cables serving the island of Jersey in the English Channel"

"It's a relief that there's a fallback for when these unpredictable events happen."

Bloomberg writer tries to become an Instagram influencer

Businessweek:

The plan, which I worked out with my editor and a slightly confused Bloomberg Businessweek lawyer, was this: With Saynt’s company advising me, I would go undercover for a month, attempting to turn my schlubby @mchafkin profile into that of a full-fledged influencer. I would do everything possible within legal bounds to amass as many followers as I could. My niche would be men’s fashion, a fast-growing category in which I clearly had no experience. The ultimate goal: to persuade someone, somewhere, to pay me cash money for my influence.

...

I signed up for a service recommended to me by Socialyte called Instagress. It’s one of several bots that, for a fee, will take the hard work out of attracting followers on Instagram. For $10 every 30 days, Instagress would zip around the service on my behalf, liking and commenting on any post that contained hashtags I specified. (I also provided the bot a list of hashtags to avoid, to minimize the chances I would like pornography or spam.) I also wrote several dozen canned comments—including “Wow!” “Pretty awesome,” “This is everything,” and, naturally, “[Clapping Hands emoji]”—which the bot deployed more or less at random. In a typical day, I (or “I”) would leave 900 likes and 240 comments. By the end of the month, I liked 28,503 posts and commented 7,171 times.

...

Siegel could offer me as many perfectly framed lattes, hipster hotel lobbies, and urban sunsets as I wanted. I bought 20 for $400, which brought my total tab for photography services to $2,000. I asked her about credit—should I note in my feed that she was the photographer? Siegel suggested that I might shout her out once or twice, but crediting her would break the illusion. As she pointed out, “You’re the one who is supposed to be experiencing these things.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"One [Kenyan Olympic] VP was arrested hiding under his bed in an apartment filled with brand new Nike equipment"

AP:

The investigation was ordered at the end of August by the sports minister after allegations of corruption being rife at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), which was disbanded after Rio amid allegations that some of the $5.7 million Olympic budget was stolen.

...

Following the women's rugby team's brawl, team officials lied and said the players were fighting "over a man." Players later admitted it was over prize money promised them by the Kenyan government.

"If you include this disputed region, Morocco holds more than 72 percent of all phosphate-rock reserves in the world"

Atlantic:

Phosphate, along with nitrogen, is one of the two most necessary components of synthetic fertilizer. But unlike nitrogen, which makes up 78 percent of the atmosphere, phosphate is a finite resource. And there’s no way to manufacture it.

Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco, just north along the coast, since 1975. If you include this disputed region, Morocco holds more than 72 percent of all phosphate-rock reserves in the world, according to the most recent United States Geological Survey study. The next closest country, China, has just shy of 6 percent. The rest is spread out in smaller pockets around the globe. Morocco aggressively and sometimes violently argues that the notion of Western Sahara statehood is illegitimate, and that the region’s rich supply of phosphate is theirs. As a result, Western Sahara has been the stage for a growing human-rights conflict as well as significant regional geopolitical tensions.

...

Currently, the price of phosphate is not high enough for there to be an economic need for governments and private companies to rely on Western Sahara’s sources, says Weber; there are sufficient domestic or other international reserves.

"How Isis recruiters found fertile ground in Kerala, India's tourist gem"

Guardian:

India’s Muslim population, the third largest in the world, has so far contributed negligible numbers to Isis – fewer than 90 people, according to most estimates.

...

But growing concern over the group’s influence was made official this month

...

it is not India’s harsh, dry north, nor Kashmir, the site of a burning Islamic insurgency, where Isis has found most appeal. The group’s unlikely recruiting ground is Kerala, one of India’s wealthiest, most diverse and best-educated states.

...

Salafism is not new to southern India, but an influx of Saudi Arabian money in the past decades . . . has produced a harder-edged Islam in the region

Four Horsemen and Deadly Sins miniatures



By Studio McVey.

From 2006, when Senator Hillary Clinton co-sponsored legislation that would have criminalized the desecration of the American flag

NYTimes:

Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and a former presidential nominee, voted for the measure, which closely resembled past efforts to pre-empt an amendment to the Constitution. Democrats who voted for the measure in effect bought themselves the right to claim that they had voted against flag desecration, potentially inoculating themselves against possible charges of lacking patriotism in a general election campaign. The broader measure to amend the Constitution failed by a single vote, 66 to 34.

Ms. Huffington was not mollified.

"It seems in line with her stance on so many issues — trying to strike right in the middle and triangulate, by not supporting the amendment because that would upset the base too much and at the same time supporting a legislative proposal that will appeal to the center," she said of Mrs. Clinton. "It's a truly tragic way of leading."

"I do over 1,000 TV hits a year. Unless I say [something completely inappropriate] on TV, I barely remember what I talked about yesterday. "

An oral history of "that viral clip of Keith Ellison predicting a Donald Trump victory"

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dark Ninja Figma Figure



Available for preorder.

"GTA Online: slasher mode"

NWWTP:

The basic game mode, Siege Mentality, involves a lone player, with a full armoury at their disposal, defending a location for a few minutes against a whole team of opposing players armed with short-range weapons.

One map is an isolated, large farmhouse out in the sticks (familiar to those who have played the single player campaign). And it’s fine and fun and there are lots of nice vantage points in the form of first floor balconies.

But what if you change the time/weather settings pre-game to make it a dark and stormy night? What if the defender is limited to a pistol, and the attackers can only use knives? What if everyone is in restricted to first-person view?

"someone please help i dragged this picture of an old man but my computer froze and now he’s stuck there no matter what webpage i go to ..."

"and i feel like his ghost is judging my choices"

"Mountain Lion P-45's Days May Be Numbered After He Kills Ten Alpacas In Malibu"

LAist:

"The warden told me that this woman [whose alpacas were killed on Saturday] and her farm had done a good job trying to protect her animals. They had electric fences, they had motion lights, but the lion was very determined and got in there anyway,"

...

The department has now issued what is called a depredation permit to the rancher, which, according to Hughan, "allows her to hire someone to track down and kill that mountain lion."

"Theranos Inc. received much of its funding from high-profile private investors who weren’t part of the ecosystem that typically backs startups and could see their stakes wiped out"

"Those investors include Rupert Murdoch and family-controlled Cox Enterprises Inc., which put about $100 million each into Theranos"

"From a remote corner of northeastern Myanmar, an insurgent army sells tin ore to suppliers of some of the world's largest consumer companies"

Reuters:

More than 500 companies, including leading brands such as smartphone maker Apple, coffee giant Starbucks and luxury jeweler Tiffany

...

The mine is controlled by the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which the United States placed under sanctions for alleged narcotics trafficking in 2003. The seven companies extracting tin from the mine are all owned or controlled by Wa military and government leaders, Wa officials and people with close ties to UWSA leadership told Reuters.

This potentially puts companies, which also include industrial conglomerate General Electric (GE.N), at risk of violating sanctions that forbid "direct or indirect" dealings with blacklisted groups, according to a former and a serving U.S. official and lawyers with expertise in sanctions enforcement.

Several sanctions experts said the U.S. government was unlikely to fine companies who unwittingly used the Myanmar tin.

"Officials stunned to learn of Kyle Housing Authority and its problems"

Statesman:

When Kyle [Texas] Mayor Todd Webster received a scathing letter this month from the federal government suggesting rampant mismanagement at the city’s independent housing authority, he was shocked by the findings — particularly because he hadn’t even known the agency existed.

...

The authority, which receives federal funding to manage two apartment complexes offering subsidized rent, is independent of the city. It is supposed to be overseen by a board of commissioners appointed by the mayor.

But it has apparently been operating without any mayoral appointees for an unknown period of time — possibly since the agency’s inception in 1977

...

the authority’s executive director doubled the HUD-funded portion of her salary between 2012 and 2015 without any outside approvals.

"​US aircraft in Afghanistan had their busiest month of the year in October, dropping 205 bomb on Taliban and ISIS targets"

"The October tally brings the total for 2016 to 1,180, already 233 more than the total for all of 2015, according to Air Force statistics released Nov. 25."

"Liberty University announced the hiring of athletic director Ian McCaw, who resigned from the same position at Baylor amid the school’s sexual assault scandal"

"Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s quote in the school statement: 'Ian's success really speaks for itself'"

Lego Batman Movie Batmobile available now



In stock at Amazon ($60).

"Right now [France] is gripped by gondola fever"

CityLab:

The Brest Gondola, or Le Téléphérique de Brest as it’s known locally, has a simple but brilliant solution to this problem. As it crosses the mouth of the River Penfeld, it passes fairly close to the upper floors of some homes. The moment that these houses’ windows come into clear view, however, the side windows of the cabin mist, clearing only when the car is out over the water. Local residents get both privacy and a faster route to the city’s downtown, while riders on the gondola only get the briefest disruption to the view.

"When a recent fire destroyed millions of Gap and Banana Republic products at a distribution center in New York, Stifel analyst Richard Jaffe called it"

"a 'fortuitous reduction in inventory.'"

The "Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5" has raised $5 million with 40 days to go...

And the estimated delivery date is December 2020.

Venus Flytrap Poachers

A lot of the guys we catch — it’s sad to say — it’s a family tradition,” he said. “We caught their dad and their dad’s dad.”

"One surefire way to be called ‘scum’ in Russia: Expose a heroic World War II story as a myth"

WaPo:

And one of the finest hours of that history is the legend of Panfilov's 28 men, which produced a line every Russian learns as a child and never forgets: “Russia is vast, but there's nowhere to retreat — behind us Moscow.”

For seven decades, these words were attributed to a Red Army officer during the 1941 Battle of Moscow, urging his comrades, armed with little more than rifles and handheld firebombs, to stop a breakthrough by the Wehrmacht's tanks. According to the story, Panfilov's 28 men — the name refers to the general in charge of the division — all died, but they destroyed 18 tanks, and halted the German advance.

And then suddenly, last year, while the movie about “Panfilov's 28 Men” was in production, Russia's chief archivist published a top secret 1948 memo by Stalin's senior prosecutor stating that Panfilov's 28 men had been made up by Soviet journalists looking for a propaganda coup.

There was a battle, but there were more than 28 men, everyone didn't die, and some surrendered.

That didn't stop the filmmakers. Nor did it deter Russian officialdom. The archivist later lost his job. Medinsky argued that the legend is true.

"The Secret, Dangerous World of Venezuelan Bitcoin Mining"

Reason:

But the main factor driving Venezuelans to take up bitcoin mining is a price control put in place by the socialist government: Electricity is virtually free.

Bitcoin mining requires a lot of computer processing power, which in turn requires a lot of electricity. In most of the world, utility bills eat into the cost of mining. In places where energy prices are high, it can even be a losing proposition. But in Venezuela, the government has turned bitcoin mining into something akin to owning a home mint.

...

Ricardo, a 30-year-old photography teacher, is earning about $500 in monthly revenue with a rack of five mining computers hidden in a soundproofed room of his family's two-story house. His mother has chronic liver disease, and the medication she needs to stay alive is no longer sold in Venezuela. With bitcoins, he's able to purchase the drug from foreign suppliers. "Bitcoin," he says, "is our only hope nowadays to survive."

...

Bitcoin miners may have unique access to foreign goods, but they also live under constant threat. Many fear they'll be discovered by the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the country's secret police force. SEBIN officers hunt for bitcoin miners and then extort them under the threat of arrest and criminal prosecution.

Sphero BB-8 is 41% off

Part of the cyber-Monday sale at Entertainment Earth.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday Sale at the BBTS

Big discounts on Marvel Legends sets including the new Doctor Strange set, the Threezero Heisenberg is $60 off, and the Play-Arts Kai Darth Maul is $45 off.

"Animosity in [Mandalay, Myanmar] Deepens as Chinese Get Richer"

NY Times:

Now the Chinese dominate the economy, their mansions lining the streets of an enclave called New Town, symbols of the wealth accrued in the underground drug, timber and mineral trades in the northern Shan and Wa States of Myanmar.

...

In 1984, when a fire swept through downtown Mandalay, burning the mostly wooden structures to the ground, the Chinese acted.

“The Burmese people had no money, and the Chinese bought the land which only they could afford,” he said. “Naturally, there are tensions between the newcomers and the Burmese — the Burmese look at the Chinese with hatred because they are very haughty.”

The Chinese know that many Burmese are offended by their flashier lifestyle. They are fearful of reprisals, or of a repetition of anti-Chinese riots here in the 1960s.

...

"We limit the number of cars for a wedding. There used to be 40 or 50. Now they have only 16 cars.”

Collection of G.I. Joe book covers



Gallery. (R.L. Stine's choose-your-own adventure G.I. Joe stories are available at Amazon.)

"‘You Hacked,’ Cyber Attackers Crash Muni Computer System Across SF"

CBS:

‘You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted.’

That was the message on San Francisco Muni station computer screens across the city, giving passengers free rides all day on Saturday.

Beastmaster custom figure

"Missing Man Found Dead At Bottom Of Cloudy Hotel Pool Where Guests Swam"

CBS:

Search and rescue teams searched for 9 to 10 hours for a man who reportedly went missing from . . . the Park Inn hotel on Eastwood Drive in Beaver Falls.

...

“One of our investigators decided, let’s go back to the original point where this all started one more time and that’s where we did locate the subject,” Lt. Hermick said.

Police say while the search was going on outside people were swimming in the pool inside.

“The water is extremely cloudy. You cannot see beyond 3-and-a-half, 4 feet into the water,”

"I couldn’t stop in time to help you this morning but I did pull over and report to police that I saw you by the road and was certain you needed help"

Northern California woman found 21 days after she went missing.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hand of the King is a fun, simple card game



Suitable for kids, it's very simple to set up and play with two to four people. $13 at Amazon.

"When it comes to illustration jobs, how much are major publications paying? A guide for illustrators by illustrators."

Format:

So we asked our community about their work. From their responses, we created a list of rates major publications across the world pay for freelance illustrations. Want to help us build a better resource? Click here to submit your rates anonymously or enter directly at the end of the page.

From world renowned magazines to self-published children’s books, we’ve collected examples of illustration job rates to help demystify the act of pricing your work. These entries help to create an anonymous resource, for illustrators by illustrators—without anyone jeopardizing their career.

"Mammoth Discovery Could Revise Earliest Date of Humans in the Americas"

PBS:

Second, close to the skull were three roughly basketball-sized boulders that shouldn’t have been there. The site consists of fine layers of sediment that were probably the mucky bed of a pond. There were no other rocks around or signs that a fast-flowing current could have deposited the boulders from elsewhere. Moreover, Fisher has seen similar finds before at other mastodon and mammoth kill sites in the upper Midwest and has a theory to explain them: they were the equivalent of Ice Age meat lockers. If hunters were fortunate to bring down a mammoth, they would have a bounty of meat on their hands but faced the problem of saving it from spoilage and the unwelcome attentions of scavengers and predators. The solution was stashing carcasses at the bottom of a pond, weighed down by boulders that were probably lashed together with ropes made of hide or plant fiber.

"Four prisoners cut their way through the bars of a second-story window and rappelled down the side of a San Jose jail using a makeshift rope of bedding and clothing"

LAT:

Two of the men were recaptured just outside the jail after the Wednesday night escape, but the other two, Rogelio Chavez and Lanon Campbell, remained on the lam early Thursday, Sgt. Rich Glennon said.

Crime scene detectives were working to figure out how the men were able to cut through the window's bars.

"People look at the Tour de Santa Maria della Chiappella, a ruined Genoese tower"

From the photos of the week.

As Above, So Below pin



20% off.

"In 1961, Venezuela was the first country declared free of malaria. Now..."

"Now its robust malaria-­prevention program has collapsed, and there are more than a hundred thousand cases of malaria yearly. Other diseases and ailments long vanquished have also returned"

Friday, November 25, 2016

Metal Gear Online concept art



Jordan Lamarre-Wan posted a bunch.

And speaking of collector's editions,



The Aliens Colonial Marines statue is down to $24.88, the Mirror's Edge Catalyst statue is $108 off, and Mortal Kombat with Coarse Scorpion figure is $64.

The Battlefield 1 statue/collector's edition is $80 off



at Amazon.

Some wargaming miniatures



From Ex Profundis.

"Jakarta's violent identity crisis: behind the vilification of Chinese-Indonesians"

Guardian:

Chinese-Indonesians – estimated to make up 1% to 4% of the country’s 250 million people – have had an impact on Jakarta which is vastly disproportionate to their physical numbers. The economic success of the group’s small elite has led to repeated bouts of resentment, discrimination and even violent assaults.

...

Protesters, many of them hardline Islamists . . . have promised another rally for next Friday – and hope to beat their attendance of more than 100,000 people on 4 November.

...

In 1740, bitterness from native Indonesians and the Dutch to the growing wealth of a small portion of Chinese people led to open bigotry against the minority population, most of whom were extremely poor themselves.

In October that year, Chinese sugar mill workers finally revolted; the response was a pogrom in which nearly the entire population were killed.

...

Indonesia’s second president and dictator who ruled for three decades, Suharto, attempted to deal with the “Chinese problem” by forced assimilation under his New Order government, banning Chinese schools, books and languages.

From my wishlist, Year's Best Weird Fiction is $1.99 today

at Amazon. Also, The Fifth Season, which is terrific, is $2.99 today.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"No Evidence of Aloe Vera Found in the Aloe Vera at Wal-Mart, CVS"

"Samples of store-brand aloe gel purchased at national retailers Wal-Mart, Target and CVS showed no indication of the plant in various lab tests. The products all listed aloe barbadensis leaf juice — another name for aloe vera — as either the No. 1 ingredient or No. 2 after water."

"Hong Kong customs seize shipment of nine armoured military vehicles from Taiwan bound for Singapore"

SCMP:

“Hong Kong was not its final destination. It is not known why the consignment was unloaded here,” a government source with knowledge of the matter said.

The source said it was possible the containers carrying the military carriers were unloaded by mistake at the terminal with other general goods.

"The biggest unanswered question is the extent to which the Chinese government is supporting the [Nicaragua Canal] project"

Guardian:

Conceived by the government of Daniel Ortega, pushed through parliament in 2014 with almost no debate and backed by HKND, a mysterious Chinese company, the proposed $50bn waterway was envisaged as a superior rival to the Panama Canal. Designers say the biggest earth-moving operation in history will clear a 178-mile long, 30-metre wide channel so that even the world’s largest ships can pass through the isthmus between the Pacific and the Atlantic.

...

“The last time the Chinese came was two years ago when some people here threw stones at their car and broke a window. Since then, nothing’s happened,” said Elizabeth del Carmen, a resident of Obrajuelo, which is where the canal is supposed to enter the western side of Lake Nicaragua.

...

Wang Jing, the Chinese telecoms tycoon behind the project, lost about 85% of his fortune in a stock market crash, and has not visited Nicaragua for a year, fuelling suspicions that the project may be dead.

Long interview with John Madden

EBT:

On if Harbaugh will also be lured by the fact his brother has a Super Bowl ring:

“I’m sure he still talks about it. His brother is on my subcommittee, and the thing that bothered John Harbaugh about that Super Bowl is there was one time Jim came out and was in the 49ers huddle. I don’t remember it, but John always complains about it. ‘Holy shoot, my brother ran out and got in their doggone huddle in that game.’ ”

...

On discovering turducken in New Orleans:

“A guy brought me one in the booth. I was just going to eat it later or put it on the bus, and it started to smell so good I had to taste it. I grabbed it and started to eat it before the game.

“It was funny, the owner of the New Orleans Saints, somewhere in the paper it said he was going to hire a new coach and he’s going to talk to some people about it, and one of the people he’s going to talk to is John Madden. I didn’t know that, so in comes him and I’m sitting there with the turducken in my hand, and I couldn’t shake hands. Because you can’t have a hunk of turducken and shake a guy’s hand. So I’m dropping the turducken, and I know there’s no way he’s going to ask me who to hire as a head coach.”

Amazon deals:

$10 of books of $25 or more with the code HOLIDAYBOOK--such as Tom Scioli's Transformers vs G.I. Joe: The Quintessential Collection or Vaughn's and Martin's Private Eye.

Weirdworld Volume 1 is $4.99 for Kindle/Comixology

Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition is $19.99

Dyson Air Multiplier AM06 Table Fan is $200 ($100 off)

Mortal Kombat XL is $19.99

Far Cry Primal is $14.99

And not on sale, but I highly recommend the OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Why Cops Are Raiding Arcades Over a Fishing Game"

Vice:

Wildly popular in Asia, but virtually unknown in the US, Fish Hunter games are developing a reputation as the arcade cabinet of choice for underground gambling. Riding the line between casino machine and arcade entertainment, games like Dragon Hunter are testing the legal limits of what's allowed in the arcade space—and quietly becoming the most controversial game you've never heard of.

Fishing games go by many names— Fish Hunter, King of Treasures, Dragon Hunter, Ocean King—but they all share the same basic mechanics and objective: feed in money, kill the fish, win big.

...

note that many of these machines accept $100 bills

Moana is good



And the Disney store is selling a light-up version of Maui's fishhook:

Japanese book covers for the Ancillary Justice series



Link. Via.

Black Friday Sale at the Big Bad Toy Store



Lots of deals, including $45 off this third party Megatron and $45 off the Constructicons/Devastator.

(Marvel Select Lady Deadpool also available for preorder.)

"The boss of Heathrow’s biggest customer, British Airways, only discovered that building the airport’s planned third runway would require the demolition of his airline’s head office after looking at a map."

Guardian:

Both IAG and British Airways are based at Waterside in Harmondsworth, which opened in 1998 at a cost of £200m and sits in a 115-hectare (280-acre) manmade park. Walsh said the HQ was “a fantastic environmental achievement on our part”.

However, it looks unlikely to stay that way. “The first I saw of it was when the Airport Commission report came out and I saw a map and I thought, that looks very close to Waterside,” Walsh said. “Then I discovered it actually went right through Waterside.”

WWE TMNT figures are available at Amazon



Michelangelo/Macho Man, Raphael/Sting, Donatello/Undertaker, Leonardo/Cena.

Picked up from my wishlist: Neal Stephenson's recent novel Seveneves is $2.99 today

at Amazon.

(In other deals news, Valve's Steam Link is 60% off today and the Steam controller is 30% off.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lego Batman Movie blind-bagged minifigs

"How DNA Evidence Confirmed a Soviet Cover-Up of an Anthrax Accident"

Atl:

In April of 1979, people in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk began falling mysteriously ill: fevers, coughs, vomiting. At least 66 people died. When officials came 1,000 miles from Moscow to investigate, they concluded the victims had fallen ill from eating cattle infected with anthrax.

It was not contaminated meat.

It was an accident at a clandestine biological weapons lab that allowed deadly anthrax spores to contaminate Sverdlovsk’s air, as evidence unearthed later would show.

Marvel Legends build-a-figure Sandman wave (including Ms. Marvel) available for preorder

Link.

"The Turkish government on Tuesday expanded its crackdown on political opponents, dismissing an additional 15,000 civil servants from their jobs and shutting down 375 organizations"

NYT:

More than 100,000 public workers, including police officers, teachers, soldiers and others, had already been fired for what the authorities said were connections to a failed coup on July 15 or to terrorists.

...

he has ordered a thorough crackdown on the country’s news media, with 129 outlets now closed.

Human rights advocates have also been alarmed by a measure, favored by Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, to declare an amnesty for an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 men convicted of child abuse and rape, provided they have married their victims.

"Is Yak the New Cashmere?"

WSJ:

“Cashmere is mainstream,” said Mr. Berga. “Now you have cashmere from Uniqlo and Zara.” Mass-market ubiquity has diluted some of its charm and even its quality. With yak, fewer suppliers make purity easier to guarantee. Which is why high-end brands like Incotex, Massimo Alba and Ermenegildo Zegna have turned to it as an alternative to cashmere. “There are very few brands producing yak, so now is the right moment to buy it,” said Mr. Alba. “You have the chance to do something before anyone else.”

Marvel's outstanding Vision Volume 1 is $4.99 right now

At Amazon.

"Some Insys executives, including Dr. Kapoor, described their ideal sales people as Ph.D.s—'poor, hungry and dumb,' said a person familiar with the matter."

WSJ:

Before they were arrested last year, Alabama doctors John Couch and Xiulu Ruan were prized customers of Insys Therapeutics Inc., maker of a powerful and highly addictive type of synthetic opioid known as fentanyl.

Drs. Couch and Ruan prescribed a combined $4.9 million of the painkiller, called Subsys, to Medicare patients in 2013 and 2014, among the most of any doctors in the U.S., federal data show.

Insys, based in Chandler, Ariz., went to unusual lengths to keep these high-prescribing doctors happy.

...

By 1987, Dr. Kapoor had gained control of LyphoMed Inc., after investing just $50,000 of his own money to acquire the company. The company attracted protests after acquiring a decades-old drug being used to treat AIDS and quadrupling its price to $100 per dose, which activists called price-gouging. Dr. Kapoor made more than $100 million when he sold the company in 1990 to a predecessor of Astellas Pharma Inc.

...

Insys paid its sales representatives base salaries of $40,000, well below the industry average, but offered them the chance to make many multiples more in sales commissions.

"Captain Menon is the first female captain in the Indian Merchant Navy and the first female to receive the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea"

"Despite wave heights of more than 25 feet, torrential rain, and winds of 60 knots, Captain Meno and her crew used the ship’s pilot ladder to get the seven men to safety on board the deck of the tanker"

Free ebook (or $5 off coupon) at Monte Cook Games (Numenera etc)

Link.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" posters



Via.

"Rangers prospects questioned for allegedly sexually hazing underage teammate"

Yahoo:

Among those expected to be charged are the younger brother of Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, also named Rougned

...

Video of the alleged assault, which took place toward the end of October, was captured and posted on Snapchat, according to sources. A 10-second clip of video, obtained by Yahoo Sports, shows the alleged victim in a Rangers shirt and Rangers shorts laying on a bed with his arms held behind his back and his legs pinned down.

"A pet monkey pounced on a schoolgirl in southwestern Libya, an act that set off days of deadly clashes between rival tribes"

CNN:

at least 20 were killed and more than 50 were injured

...

The new clashes started after a pet monkey owned by a member of the Gaddadfa tribe attacked a high school girl from the Suleiman tribe on Thursday.

It scratched her face and pulled off her headscarf. Suleiman members retaliated and killed some Gaddadfa men. According to local reports, not yet confirmed by CNN, the monkey was also killed.

Violence persisted afterward. People stayed indoors as gunfire, tank cannons and mortar shells rang out in Sabha early Monday.

Star Wars Black 6" figures including Sabine and Revan available for preorder

Link.

Book cover for I Am For You



A novel:

A new drama teacher teaches two aggressive girls the art of stage combat, hoping to get them to understand the costs of violence. The girls battle out their issues in rehearsals, and as the their interest in stage combat grows, so does their interest in playing the parts of Mercutio and Tybalt in their school production of Romeo and Juliet.
Cover by Byron Eggenschwiler.

"Now is not the time to criticize the Galaxy Note"

MCS:

After all, it’s not like we didn’t lay out other options! We gave you the choice between the Galaxy Note 7 and the new iPhone, and this is what we came out with. In fact, the iPhone 7 isn’t perfect either! It has no headphone jack and doesn’t handle email accounts the exact way some of you wanted it to. For some, that was just as — if not more — important than the Galaxy Note 7 exploding with enough frequency that scientists, officials, and even the people at the store, implored us not to buy it. So, when the time came to vote, it’s understandable that we’d be almost evenly split on which to choose.

Here’s the thing though, we did choose, and you should all stop protesting against it. Yes, more of you voted for the iPhone, but

"The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance into Harvard"

PP:

It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school.

...

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

...

Charles Kushner’s empire encompassed 25,000 New Jersey apartments, along with extensive office, industrial and retail space and undeveloped land. Unlike most of his fellow committee members, though, Kushner was not a Harvard man. He had graduated from New York University.

"Tensions rise in Chios [Greece] as refugee camp comes under suspected far-right attack with Molotov bombs and massive stones"

AJ:

The latest large-scale attack happened on Thursday evening, when outsiders standing on top of the ruins hurled Molotov bombs and giant rocks directly into the refugees' tents, aid groups and solidarity workers told Al Jazeera.

...

According to UNHCR, there are roughly 2,000 refugees currently stuck in Chios - 60 percent Syrians, 20 percent Iraqis, 10 percent North Africans and 10 percent other nationalities.

"Autographed Trump Hats and Books Sold on His Website Were Signed by Machine"

"the Trump-signed hats, offered at various price points during the campaign on Trump's website, including $125, $183 and $243"

"Litigator David Boies and the law firm he founded, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, have stopped doing legal work for Theranos Inc. after disagreeing about the strategy"

WSJ:

Mr. Boies’s first assignment for Theranos was a patent lawsuit against a childhood neighbor of Ms. Holmes, who also is the company’s chief executive. The case was settled in early 2014, and Mr. Boies moved into an advisory role at Theranos.

The law firm was paid in Theranos stock for its work on the patent case, according to a person familiar with the matter. Boies Schiller was granted more than 300,000 shares valued at $4.5 million, based on a valuation of $15 a share at the time, this person said.

From my wishlist: Alice in Wonderland-inspired novel by the author of Wicked is $1.99 today

After Alice by Gregory Maguire is $1.99 today.

(I enjoyed all four books in the Wicked series, btw. Dark, though.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Soccer drills

A video posted by Kristie Mewis (@kmewis19) on

"Venezuela’s Nemesis Is a Hardware Salesman at a Home Depot in Alabama"

WSJ:

He is president of one of Venezuela’s most popular and insurgent websites, DolarToday.com, which provides a benchmark exchange rate used by his compatriots to buy and sell black-market dollars. That allows them to bypass some of the world’s most rigid currency controls.

Socialist President Nicolás Maduro has accused DolarToday of leading an “economic war” against his embattled government and vowed to jail Mr. Díaz and his two partners, also Venezuelan expatriates in the U.S. The Venezuelan central bank unsuccessfully filed suit against the website twice in U.S. courts. The government has also turned to hackers to launch constant attacks, Mr. Díaz said, forcing the site to use sophisticated defenses.

...

Mr. Díaz is a U.S.-trained retired colonel, and he indeed tried to overthrow Mr. Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, by participating in a short-lived coup in 2002.

Playstation 4 Pro is $359.99 right now

At Amazon.

Animatronic Na’vi Shaman for Disney's Animal Kingdom



I enjoyed Caitlín R. Kiernan's Agents of Dreamland

Like a particularly good (albeit fairly grim) X-Files episode about two government agents investigating a cult living by the Salton Sea. Currently a $2.99 preorder at Amazon.

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Samurai Spider-Gwen" Heroclix



Earth X Cap, and more.

"Abu Sayyaf, once written off as one of the global jihadist movement’s also-rans, is gaining strength in the southern Philippines by chasing down high-value victims at sea and ransoming them off for millions of dollars"

"the influx of ransom money has helped the guerrillas stock up on arms and ammunition as well as pay off local communities or possibly even troops to keep quiet about their presence"

New MUSCLE figures



Link.

"Russia's 'Gangster Graveyards'"

"the spectacular tombstones are 'like a competition, who has the best and the biggest.... Just like in life.'"

Marvel writer recounts her time as an internet troll

R29:

GR: "Am I worried about the trolls? No. I’m worried about not telling the story. I’m worried about little kids out there who wouldn’t get the story because we would be afraid of trolls. That’s ridiculous. And hey, honestly, I was an internet troll when I was 15 and I was scared of coming out. I behaved badly online when I was a teenager for like six months because of the pain of being closeted. So whenever I see internet trolls there is a part of me that’s like damn what are you hurting from? What hurt you? What do you need? Can we talk to you? Where is this pain? So, that’s kind of how I view it."

Who did you troll?
GR: "Lesbians.

On Twitter?
GR: "Oh my god, thank you. [I’m 34] I’m talking, like, AOL chatrooms. I was so scared of who I was that I would go into lesbian AOL chat rooms and be like, ‘The lord hates you.’ And then this one Lesbian from a chat room wrote me back and was like, ‘Let’s talk; are you okay? What do you need? I want to understand you.' And that was the first person that made that connection with me. And it changed my whole life. And it put me on the path to find out who I am and why I was channeling my frustrations that way."

"The number of dead trees in California’s drought-stricken forests has risen dramatically to more than 102 million in what officials described as an unparalleled ecological event..."

"that heightens the danger of massive wildfires and damaging erosion."

"Disney got a big government grant to make a 'Pirates of the Caribbean' film in Queensland, Australia, but nobody will say how much"

LAT:

Boyd, 39, wanted to know the size of the production grant the Queensland government gave to Walt Disney Co. to entice the company to shoot the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film there. He was skeptical of claims that the movie would be a financial boon for the state.

“It was, ‘Hang on a sec, who is actually working on this? We don’t really see any benefits here,’” said Boyd, who heads a video production company in Queensland. “We went, ‘OK, well how much is this costing, as a taxpayer?’”

But Burbank-based Disney and two Queensland governmental entities took the unusual step of fighting the release of the information, contending it was confidential and that making it public could damage Disney's business.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Let's take a quick look at how the author of the profile, Abraham Riesman, describes his attempt to interview Ditko, an 89-year-old man who hasn't granted an interview with a journalist in almost 50 years."

"I've been deeply confused and sort of fascinated by the amount of praise I've seen for this profile of Steve Ditko, which in my view blurs the line between harassment and journalism."

"NBA 2K17 offering in-game rewards to Fitbit users"

GS:

to reward NBA 2K17 players who take 10,000 steps a day with in-game perks and bonuses.

Once players surpass that milestone -- either through sheer force of will or by strapping their Fitbit to an overactive pet -- the game will prompt them to apply temporary attribute boosts to improve their performance for the next five games played that day

"Carnival Is Using Facial Recognition on Cruises to Help Passengers Buy Photos of Themselves"

"Carnival is testing facial-recognition technology that matches photographs with the correct passengers. Instead of printing out the photos, they're automatically dropped into passengers' digital accounts. Tablets on the ship let consumers select and buy photos. The photo feature is also built into an interactive TV app in guests' rooms and Carnival's own mobile app."

"Five teenage girls suspected of committing or attempting at least 10 strong-arm robberies in the Bay Area over several days were arrested this week"

"The girls — between the ages of 14 and 16 — are accused of ambushing mostly female victims on the street and then stripping them of their valuables."

"Colombian Police Rescue L.A. Judge Kidnapped on Vacation"

NYT:

Police said Judge Benny Osorio's captors had demanded a $33,000 ransom for his release.

An elite anti-kidnapping unit using intelligence information safely rescued the judge Thursday in the popular tourist city of Cartagena.

"Trump's other wall: is his Irish resort a sign he believes in climate change?"

TG:

Long before he set his sights on Mexico, Donald Trump had his eyes on a different wall. He wanted to build one on the Irish coast of County Clare – a 13ft high structure erected to protect his luxury golf resort, the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, from increasingly volatile storms and rising sea levels.

While the president-elect announced a climate-change skeptic as the leader of the Environmental Protection Agency transition team, this move to protect his investment suggests Trump recognizes the effects of a changing climate.

Propped at the bar, Martin Kelly, a 46-year-old local contractor from Doonbeg, boasted of how he helped lay the foundations of the first golf resort in the village. He hopes to be a leading contender for the contract to work on the wall Trump is determined to build.

New glow in the dark hoodie at Last Exit to Nowhere

New sweatshirts at Last Exit to Nowhere based on The Lost Boys and Die Hard, and new Gotham PD mug.

"Brazil arrests former Rio governor in corruption probe"

"Cabral's arrest came a day after another former Rio governor, Anthony Garotinho, was arrested for alleged voter fraud"

"China is on a mission to modernize African farming—and grow market share for its own companies"

QZ:

This is the face of one of China’s most prominent aid projects in Africa, “agricultural technology demonstration centers,” or ATDCs, whose mission is to modernize African farming while also giving Chinese companies a foothold in new markets. There are now 23 of these centers across Africa.

Here, at the China-Rwanda ATDC, Chinese agronomists teach local farmers the hidden benefits of mushrooms.

...

One of Nyivabizimana’s biggest obstacles is that mushrooms aren’t popular in Rwanda.

"Former Overwatch creative director Chris Metzen opens up about leaving Blizzard"

"I started having panic attacks left and right, and non-stop anxiety, and for a year and a half, two years before I finally retired, I think, I had been having panic attacks all the time, but I didn't know what they were," he said. "I would chalk things up to having an allergic reaction. Kat and I would go on dates and almost all the time, I would start panicking in the middle of the movie. I had no idea what was going on—maybe I'm allergic to popcorn all of a sudden."

"Major League Baseball, frustrated that their managerial and GM vacancies this winter were filled without a single minority hired from outside an organization..."

USAT:

revealed Thursday that it has dumped Korn Ferry as their leadership search firm.

...

There were so many conflicts of interest with Korn Ferry as baseball’s search firm that it resulted in nothing more than friends hiring friends. Mostly all the hires had backgrounds with the Cleveland Indians, or had a relationship with Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, the Indians’ former president and GM.

"whatever the Ringer’s actual audience, it’s relatively small and seems to have declined precipitously from August to October"

An effort to gauge the success of Bill Simmons' current endeavors.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"Will you make another Titanfall game?"

An interview with Vince Zampella, creator of Titanfall 2:

Will you make another Titanfall game?

We don't know yet. The game is, critically, a huge success. We're really happy with all the reviews and the positive sentiment. Sales, it's too early to tell. We'd definitely like to tell more of the story and the universe. I think it's pretty safe to assume that we'll explore more of it. EA might have announced more. Devin?

[Devin Bennett, a publicist for Electronic Arts, interjects, "What we've said is we're committed to the franchise."]

So, whatever the fuck that means.

"Others apparently learned of their fate when they were logged out of the Slack messaging system"

CNN:

Between 200 and 250 people are facing layoffs at the Spanish language conglomerate Univision

...

The layoffs, which were first reported by the Washington Post, will hit nearly 6% of the company's workforce, primarily affecting Fusion, Univision's millennial-focused news website that has struggled to find an audience.

Theranos whistleblower was grandson of George Shultz, the former secretary of state and a Theranos director

WSJ:

Tyler Shultz, now 26 years old, was among several Theranos employees who tried to voice concerns inside the company about what they saw as troubling practices, and Mr. Shultz was the first to blow the whistle to a state regulator

...

The tension opened a rift in the Shultz family. While growing up, Tyler played in the pool at his grandfather’s house, and he often dropped by the elder Mr. Shultz’s home or his office at the Hoover Institution think tank while attending Stanford University.

In the past year and a half, the grandson and grandfather have rarely spoken or seen one another, communicating mainly through lawyers, says Tyler Shultz. He and his parents have spent more than $400,000 on legal fees, he says. He didn’t attend his grandfather’s 95th birthday celebration in December. Ms. Holmes did.

“Fraud is not a trade secret,” says Mr. Shultz, who hoped his grandfather would cut ties with Theranos once the company’s practices became known.

Are the soldiers riding dolphins on the Kong: Skull Island poster?

"Called an attorney on a slip-and-fall case and the music they have on hold is that song..."

"'Walking in LA – No one walks in LA.'"

The newly-revealed Masters of the Universe figures are available for preorder

He-Man, Skeletor, Faker, Ram-Man, Teela (all with multiple heads).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sweet Vicious fan art



By Jim Rugg. And the trailer for the show:

"A self-described “rehab mogul” has been charged with multiple sexual assault offenses as well as defrauding insurers in a $175-million billing scheme"

LAT:

founded 19 sober-living facilities in Southern California and Colorado, faces accusations in two separate cases of sexually assaulting nine patients and laundering money

...

Prosecutors charged the 55-year-old operator of Community Recovery of Los Angeles, also known as CRLA, with 12 counts of furnishing drugs and 34 counts of sexual assault-related offenses, including sexual exploitation, rape and rape of an intoxicated person.

...

In a separate case . . . charged with 31 counts of money laundering. They also face charges for insurance fraud, grand theft and identify theft.

...

issued $175 million in bills for services that, in most cases, were never provided, according to the district attorney’s office

"the growth of the British angling industry has been shadowed by a booming market in stolen carp"

Carp-fishing in England:

There currently remain, however, only a handful of known sixtypounders in England. The largest of these lives in Cranwells, a twenty-acre lake on the Wasing Estate, about an hour from London’s Piccadilly Circus. To taxonomists, he’s known as a mirror carp, after the broad and lavish scales flung across his back, but to the legions of anglers who hope for an opportunity to hunt this white whale among freshwater leviathans, he’s known as the Parrot.

...


Brian Humphries, who runs a windshield-replacement business in Gloucestershire, stalked the Parrot for four years before catching him. He’s lifted the fish out of the water three times now

...

Cranwells — home to several fifty-pounders in addition to the Parrot — is the most exclusive and prestigious of Wasing’s eight fishing lakes. Only sixty permits are made available each year, and they cost $1,000 each. A person who secures a permit is allowed to renew the membership annually for life, which means that aspiring members must wait for existing permit holders to depart, decease, or fall into disgrace.

Applications for the two or three permits that become available each year for Cranwells are heavily vetted. Since their assets are freely swimming in the water, the fishery’s owners want to ensure that members are trustworthy and competent enough to deal with a fish like the Parrot.

...

the Parrot is protected precisely because of his fame. “This fish is so well known among anglers that it would be like stealing the Mona Lisa. It may be priceless, but it would be almost impossible to sell on.” What’s more, there remains the difficulty of catching the elusive monster in the first place. Though some consider him a mug fish, the term given to a carp that is landed too often and considered reckless or slow to learn, the Parrot was caught only six times in the past two years.

A look at the histoy of Taco Bell's logo



Occasioned by the new, dull logo.

"Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is a victim, venture capitalist Tim Draper says"

CNBC:

"Elizabeth Holmes is a great example of maybe why the women are so frustrated. She is a woman entrepreneur who built a fabulous company, did great things for consumers and she got attacked,"

...

Draper, who contributed the first $1 million to Holmes for the start-up, believes the company's technology will happen . . . "I think it's fabulous what they've done"

Monday, November 14, 2016

Marvel traded Negasonic Teenage Warhead for Ego the Living Planet

TP:

the little-known Negasonic Teenage Warhead (or NTW) was picked for no other reason than that incredible moniker, itself taken from a song by the stoner-rock band Monster Magnet

...

Owing to their superficial reasons for adding Negasonic Teenage Warhead to the “Deadpool” cast in the first place, Reese and Wernick elected to eschew essentially everything but the character’s name in the film script, even imbuing her with an entirely different set of powers (in the comics, she is psychic as opposed to literally explosive). For that, Fox was forced to get the okay from Marvel Studios, initiating a superhero swap between the studios whose results will next be seen in James Gunn‘s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.” “Kurt Russell [‘s Ego the Living Planet] in the new ‘Guardians’ movie was the character that Fox swapped with Marvel to [change] Negasonic Teenage Warhead powers,” explained Wernick.

Blade Of The Immortal live action teaser



"what would you do if one of your followers dedicated their entire social media presence into mimicking every minor detail of your work"



"Lauren's photos are on the left, and the imposter is on the right"

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Arnim Zola



Two of four designs by Josh Nizzi.