Friday, January 31, 2014
Via Gawker: Toby is a 33-year-old who says he has spent $100.000 on about 100 plastic surgery procedures in the hope of resembling Justin Bieber. Toby came upon this idea when he was 28, saw his face aging, and "didn't know what to do". Now he travels around Los Angeles asking people, "Do I remind you of anyone?" Sometimes he does a little Bieber-esque head tic to emphasize his side swept 'do, a hairstyle that Bieber abandoned several years ago at this point. Toby does not look like Justin Bieber.
Via Mail Online: She’s a model and actress known for her megawatt smile and vivacious personality. And now Kelly Brook has unleashed her inner disco diva in a campaign for Cadbury Dairy Milk. The 34-year-old star heads to the car wash in a new TV advert for the chocolate bar, dressed in a cream mohair jumper, purple jeans, matching heels, and glittery socks.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Via The Huffington Post: Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Girl gives boy a kidney. Boy leaves girl and -- surprise, surprise -- girl wants kidney back. That's the story one U.K. woman recently shared with newspaper the Sunday People, explaining how she donated the vital organ to her dying husband, only to have him leave her once he recovered. "I can't believe he now has a second chance to live to see his grandchildren grow up", Lamb told the paper. "I would definitely go through the operation again –- but I wouldn’t give the kidney to him. I hate him. If I could I'd take it back and give it to someone else".
Via The Local: His thesis that Sweden is the China of the north gave English author Michael Booth some considerable Swedish headline space this week. He talks about myth-busting and the Swedish love of weapons. Booth took something of a swipe at Sweden and its Nordic neighbors with a piece published in the Guardian entitled Dark lands: the grim truth behind the "Scandinavian miracle". "(Sweden) continues to thrive economically thanks to its distinctive brand of totalitarian modernism", Booth argued in the piece, "which curbs freedoms, suppresses dissent in the name of consensus, and seems hell-bent on severing the bonds between wife and husband, children and parents, and elderly on their children. Think of it as the China of the north".
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Via Hindustan Times: It wasn't enough that Pope Francis was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" or that he fronted this week's Rolling Stone magazine. Now there's SuperPope graffiti sprouting up around the Vatican. The white caped crusader appeared on Tuesday on a wall just off Borgo Pio, a tiny cobble-stoned street near St. Peter's Square. In typical superhero fashion, Francis' right fist is thrust in the air, leading him in flight, while his left clutches his black satchel. "Valores", or values in Spanish, is written across it. The artist is identified only as Maupal. Francis has charmed the masses with his simplicity and message of helping the poor, even as he has cracked down on Vatican waste and corruption. The Vatican communications office approved of the image, tweeting the photo on Tuesday.
Via EUobserver: In his first meeting with EU leaders since violent anti-government protests began in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Brussels. This was the 32nd EU-Russia summit, with the volatile situation in Ukraine to be the elephant in the room. Russia's offer to Ukraine of a $15 billion loan and gas price reductions still remains on the table, even if the new government is run by the opposition. But Putin also warned that Russia would closely monitor Ukraine's economic policies to make sure it gets its money back. Relations between Moscow and Brussels have been strained since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision in November to turn his back on a trade and political agreement with the EU in favor of closer trade ties with Russia. Although Yanukovych was rewarded with an €11 billion bailout from Russia, the move has sparked weeks of pro-EU demonstrations in Kiev during which a handful of protesters have been killed.
Via Disclose.tv: Divers in Sweden have discovered a rare collection of Stone Age artefacts buried deep beneath the Baltic Sea. Archaeologists believe the relics were left by Swedish nomads 11.000 years ago and the discovery may be evidence of one of the oldest settlements ever found in the Nordic region. Some of the relics are so well preserved, reports have dubbed the find "Sweden’s Atlantis" and suggested the settlement may have been swallowed whole by the sea in the same way as the mythical island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Via The Local: The Swedish project to get Somali refugees to excel at bandy came to a 22-1 halt at the World Cup in Russia, but the captain said their global debut on the ice wasn't half bad. Bandy, in which teams of 11 players reach extreme speeds on football pitch-sized ice fields, goes back more than a century, but it has caught on in only a handful of countries. The sport is dominated by A-group nations Sweden and Russia, relegating an ice hockey superpower like Canada to the B group. "I am so proud of the guys", captain Aboi Abdiirahiin told the TT news agency on Monday after the team lost to Germany by 22-1. "But I thought we'd lose by 40-0, or more". Borlänge municipality has helped the Somali refugees pick up their clubs, despite the rarity of ice in their home country. "Soccer is easier", high school student Ahmed Hussein told the AFP news agency last year as his team began training for their world-cup debut. "Everyone can play football, but ice-skating... It can be learned, of course, but it requires time and patience". Leaving war-torn Somalia as a refugee four years ago, the now 18-year-old never imagined life as a bandy player.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Out-of-body experiences seem to be valid. A fascinating experiment was done by Dr. Charles Tart, who was a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California. He documented the out-of-body experience of a young woman who was one of his research subjects. She was in a room with nothing but a bed, a shelf, a clock, and an observation window where Dr. Tart observed from another room. She also had electrical devices hooked up to her head to detect brain wave activities. What makes this particular out-of-body experience remarkable is that she was able to leave her physical body as Dr. Tart watched from the other room and read a 5-digit number of 25132 off of a piece of paper that was on a shelf in the corner of the room. The number was at a significant distance above the bed so that she would not be able to read the number even if she was standing, and she reported seeing the correct number to him upon return to her physical body, which remained attached to the bed as she was being watched. EEGs, REMs, and galvanic skin response were all recorded before and during her OBE which indicated a significant alteration in the readings during the time she left her body. Her OBE is a good example of veridical perception, which is when verified events are observed while in an out-of-body state.
Via Unknown Country: These days, it appears that there are few things that Man can do, that a machine could not do as well, or even better. This apparently includes engaging in warfare. Certainly, defense is an area where no expense is spared in developing the latest technology and improving performance, but sometimes constructing advanced weaponry can take a very long time. For example, the F-22 Raptor fighter jet was the most technologically advanced fighter ever created, designed back in 1983 to give the US military a tactical edge in the Cold War, but it took 22 years - and $39 billion - before it was delivered, 14 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. So the military powers have been looking for a viable alternative that will not take so long in research and development, and will not be so costly. "All the technologies conceived at the fall of the Berlin Wall are now being used in Iraq and Afghanistan", said Ben FitzGerald, a Senior Fellow at the D.C. defense think-tank Center for a New American Security. Fitzgerald believes he has come up with a solution, and it involves an unlikely technology: 3D printers. The potential of 3D printing is incredible, but it is difficult to conceive how one might utilise them in open warfare. In a design specification entitled "Process Over Platforms A Paradigm Shift in Acquisition Through Advanced Manufacturing", Fitzgerald outlines his idea, which would not look out of place on the pages of a science fiction novel. In short, rather than spending billions of dollars and decades constructing advanced manned aircraft in very small numbers, it may be possible for robotic assembly lines to build thousands of unmanned "drones" from 3D-printed parts. Fitzgerald conceives that the infinitely configurable drones could be deployed in huge swarms, like killer bees, and controlled by digital pilots. The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has forecast that the future of military warfare lies predominantly in unmanned craft, with fighter jets being replaced by smaller, more manoeuvrable alternatives that can be controlled remotely. This would be less costly, more effective and would result in fewer pilot fatalities, so it is a popular concept that is being seized upon by governments worldwide. Will our skies soon be darkened by robot wars?
Monday, January 27, 2014
Via USTA News: Rain could not stop Sweden’s Maharajah from winning one of the most prestigious trotting races in the world, the Prix d’Amerique, on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 26) over a sloppy track at Vincennes. After a pocket ride, driver Örjan Kihlström found racing room going into the stretch and went around leader Up and Quick, driven by Jean Michel Bazire. Maharajah won by a length and was timed in 1:58 (mile rate). The purse for the winner was $615.000.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Via The Christian Science Monitor: It was a vast boat that saved two of each animal and a handful of humans from a catastrophic flood. But forget all those images of a long vessel with a pointy bow — the original Noah's Ark, new research suggests, was round.
Via Disclose.tv: In 1996 in Varginha, Brazil, during the course of several weeks at least two and perhaps as many as six alien creatures were captured or killed and turned over to American authorities, and a UFO may have crashed. Eyewitnesses described the creatures as humanoid and 3 to 4 feet tall. They had dark brown, hairless skin, big triangular heads with three short "horns" on top, and huge red eyes that were vertically oval.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Via OK!: Paris Hilton has basically left us speechless with her outfit at P Diddy's pre-Grammy party. Going completely naked under the black sheer number, the American reality star threatened to show off a whole lot. Paris is no wasted racist kid anymore. She’s turning 33 next month. You can really see her blossoming into a mature woman. Well, you can almost see, according to WWTDD.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Via CNET: TigerDirect.com, a significant U.S. retailer of electronics products, has announced it will accept payments made in the Bitcoin currency. The move is a small but notable step in the gradual transformation of Bitcoin from an obscure digital currency into a mainstream payment mechanism.
Via The Huffington Post: In Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough's excellent biography of John Adams, he shares a correspondence with Adams' granddaughter Caroline in response to her being distressed over how little she felt she knew about life. Adam's wrote: "You are not singular in your suspicions that you know but a little. The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know... Do justly. Love Mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough... So questions and so answers your affectionate grandfather". John Adams was paraphrasing the words of the Biblical prophet Micah. The full quote from Micah 6:8 is: "He has shown you, humankind, what is good! What does the Divine request of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your Lord?"
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Via The Local: A Malaysian couple with diplomatic passports have spent more than a month in Swedish jail, after being accused of hitting their children for not performing their prayers. The parents risk ten years in jail. The husband and wife were arrested on December 18th after police received a report that they had repeatedly hit their four children, aged six to 12-years-old.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Via Sky News: Two Las Vegas casinos have begun accepting the cyber-currency Bitcoin at shops, restaurants and hotels. The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, which are owned by the same company, began processing transactions through BitPay today. The US dollar remains the only currency accepted on the gambling floor. "For us, it's going to be somewhat exciting to see what kind of impact it'll have", Derek Stevens, the co-owner of the casinos, told the AP news agency. He said he had been intrigued by Bitcoin for years, and talked about the currency with customers who also seemed interested. The Golden Gate, built in 1906, is the oldest casino in Vegas, and has a history of pioneering new technology. It was the city's first to instal a telephone in 1907, according to Mr Stevens. Bitcoin was created four years ago, in the wake of the global financial crisis. Unlike other currencies, it does not have the backing of a central bank or government. Since making its debut it has been approaching the mainstream.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Las Vegas high roller Don Johnson wins millions playing blackjack. He doesn't lie, cheat or steal. He just knows how to play the game. Learn how one gambler transformed himself from mediocre card player into the man who won $15 million from some of the biggest casinos in the business.
Via The Local: Swedish national rail operator SJ announced on Tuesday that it was laying off 400 staff members in part of a savings package to meet a growing competition and customers' online ticket purchasing habits.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Via The Huffington Post: The singer of a black metal band in Thailand has been stabbed to death. A person taking credit for the grisly murder on Facebook claims it was because the performer was tarnishing the good name of Satan.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Via Theo Spark: "And you come here Mr Samaras and you tell us that you represent the sovereign will of the Greek people? Well, I'm sorry, but you're not in charge of Greece, and I suggest you rename and rebrand your party - it's called 'New Democracy', I suggest you call it 'No Democracy'. Because Greece is now under foreign control. You can't make any decisions, you've been bailed out, and you've surrendered democracy, the thing your country invented in the first place"...
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Via The Huffington Post: Warner Bros. chose the Friday before a holiday weekend to announce that Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" sequel will not come out on July 17, 2015 as had been previously planned. Instead, the Superman versus Batman film, which stars Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader, will now arrive in theaters on May 6, 2016.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Via The New York Times: She has perfected a mean forehand, is working on her yoga poses, dishes with girlfriends over brussels sprouts and dirty martinis (one olive) at the Mediterranean hotspot Zaytinya, pushes her two daughters to play two sports — one of her choosing and one of theirs — and said this week that the wonders of modern dermatology, like Botox, are in the realm of possibility for her.
Via The Guardian: "The steady shift to have children later, there are issues with that. We all assume we can have children later but actually we may not be able to", Prof Dame Sally Davies told a debate organized by the Wellbeing of Women charity. Biologically, the optimum period for childbearing is between 20 and 35 years of age. Most women will get pregnant. Within a year, 75% of women aged 30 and 66% of women aged 35 will conceive naturally and have a baby. After this, it is increasingly difficult to fall pregnant, and the chance of miscarriage rises.
Via Newser: It's a Google Glass legal precedent: A San Diego traffic court threw out a citation today against a woman who was wearing the device while driving. Commissioner John Blair ruled that Cecilia Abadie was not guilty because the code she was cited for requires proof that the device was in operation. Blair found there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Abadie is believed to be the first motorist cited for wearing Google Glass while driving. She was also found not guilty of speeding. Abadie, a software developer, is among some 3.000 people called "explorers" who have been selected to try out Google Glass before the technology becomes widely available to the public later this year. She got pulled over in October on a San Diego freeway. The California Highway Patrol officer saw she was wearing Google Glass and tacked on a citation usually given to people driving while a video or TV screen is on in the front of their vehicle.
Via The Local: At Thursday's TedX conference in Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt took the stage to discuss the potential of digital diplomacy. Carl Bildt was behind an email in 1994 to then U.S. President Bill Clinton, which became the first ever electronic message to be sent between two heads of government. "We live, thank God, in a much more open world where the voice of individual people means more, thus public diplomacy is becoming more important", he told the crowd. "It's about getting the pulse of what's happening". Indeed, the minister (and former prime minister) is no stranger to social media and boasts over 250.000 Twitter followers on a Twitter account he updates regularly. He acknowledged that social media is the fastest way to get information about world events, and pointed to Egypt's recent referendum, Ukraine's new "draconian laws", and how Syria marks the world's first social media civil war as examples. But why is it Bildt who is spear-heading the push, besides the fact that he's already shown a strong interest for the digital world? "I think one should always look at new possibilities that might be there. I've been working with internet issues since the internet started, which is quite some time ago now. Social media and Twitter were obviously going to be important to diplomacy... that is why we started fairly early", he explained.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Via Arutz Sheva: "The deal with the Persian nation makes it clear we are leaving the region, and leaving Iran in charge", security analyst McFarland wrote. "Iran is now poised to become the Alpha Dog of the Middle East – the dominant economic, military and political power in the region that controls the world’s exported oil".
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Via The Swedish Wire: Hong Kong Tuesday retained the title of the world's freest economy for the 20th year in a row, with rival Singapore closing the gap between the two cities. Sweden came in at number 20 globally, and number 10 in the regional European ranking.
Via EUobserver: Former ECB chief Trichet has blamed EU governments for provoking the "worst economic crisis since World War II" and said the eurozone remains at risk.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Via The Local: Sweden has vowed to beef up defense cooperation with non-Nato member neighbor Finland. In an op-ed article published in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily on Tuesday, Defense Minister Karin Enström and her Finnish counterpart Carl Haglund pointed out that their two countries already have close defense cooperation. The two added that more can be done to simplify exchanges between the Finnish and Swedish militaries. Among other things, the two ministers point to better coordination of resources, common exercises, and contributions to international operations. "We have good possibilities to deepen and take a further step in our defence cooperation. That would strengthen both countries' defense capacities", Enström told the TT news agency. Buying equipment together was also dubbed an "obvious" area where Sweden and Finland have scope for working more closely together, she argued. This is a good start, which soonest possible should be extended to the other Nordic countries, the Baltic States, Benelux, and ultimately include Russia and all of the former Soviet Union. There should be no doubt that the future of Sweden is closely connected with the future of our brave and courageus neighbors. The UK, Germany, and France are good nations we of course admire, which have learned us how to extend Power, how to rule over far countries, how to go to war, and also how to rule many persons both with a classy centralistic style and with art and popular music. As we want the best, the latest, and the most appropriate technologies for our peoples, we Scandinavians must of course also act together and with the Russians and our friends in Belgium and Holland. A peaceful military and political union between not only Sweden and Finland, but between all the Nordic countries, including the Baltic States, Benelux, and the former Soviet Union is of course the best way to provide this region with the best leadership and long term economic prosperity and stability for a common glorious future here in Northern Europe as a whole. Brussels has now a fabulous opportunity to cooperate with the Nordics and Moscow to together team up as a concentrated efficient and elitist homogenous military and political power in Northern Europe with one language, military discipline, and a one party democratic model without all the usual divisions and squabbling which often characterize the European community. Unity, technological advancement, and prosperity should be given top priority.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Via The Swedish Wire: Nobel Laureate and Princeton University professor Paul Krugman questioned efforts to rein in welfare in Scandinavia after Denmark abandoned its universal benefits model and Sweden started prioritizing tax cuts over spending, Bloomberg said. "It’s not clear that the crisis required these actions", Krugman said in an interview in Oslo after speaking at an annual conference held by Skagen Funds. "It’s not clear that anything that’s happened says that tax cuts should be a priority for the Swedes". "The lesson is actually that you can do fine with a generous welfare state as long as it has a sound fiscal base", Krugman told Bloomberg. Even after being reined in, "all of the Scandinavian welfare systems are still beyond the wildest dreams of liberals in the United States", he said.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Via The Local: Opposition MPs have been scathing of Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt's Twitter tribute to the deceased Israeli leader Ariel Sharon. Bildt wrote of "a major Israeli leader" and a "brilliant military commander", but also "a wise statesman who realized the importance of peace".
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Via RT: Nuclear radiation at the boundaries of the stricken Fukushima power plant has now reached 8 times government safety guidelines, TEPCO has said. The firm has been struggling to contain radioactive leaks at Fukushima since the onset over the crisis in 2011.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Via The Telegraph: A campaign for the European Union to become a "United States of Europe" will be the "best weapon against the Eurosceptics", one of Brussels' most senior officials has said. Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission and the longest serving Brussels commissioner, has called for "a true political union" to be put on the agenda for EU elections this spring. "We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a "Senate" of Member States", she said. Mrs Reding's vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into superstate relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain. Under her plan, the commission would have supremacy over governments and MEPs in the European Parliament would supersede the sovereignty of MPs in the House of Commons. National leaders, meeting as the European Council, would be reduced to consultative, second chamber role similar to the House of Lords.
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Women who drank a glass of wine a week while pregnant had children who were more well adjusted than women who didn't drink at all, says a new study. Researchers in Denmark looked at the drinking habits of 100.000 Danish moms-to-be between 1996 and 2002. They asked 37.000 of those women about the behavior of their children, and found the kids were generally more emotionally stable and more well behaved. It seems to confirm that choices and habits of the mother have a huge influence over the children. Women whe drank about a glass a week tend to be better educated and make healthier lifestyle decisions. The study did only dealt with light drinkers, and did not examine the affects of heavy drinking on a child's emotional development. Doctors warn that an excess of alcohol while pregnant can have dangerous consequences for the unborn child.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Via The Swedish Wire: While Swedish ciders may be far too sweet for traditionalists, they are now among the bestselling in the UK and Australia and are rapidly gaining attention across Asia. Sweden's two major cider rivals -- Åbro Bryggeri AB with the brand Rekorderlig Cider and Kopparbergs Bryggeri AB -- both offer a wide range of out-of-the-ordinary flavours, like strawberry-lime, apple-blackcurrant or apple-guava.
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Then Roscoe Bartlett was in Congress, he latched onto a particularly apocalyptic issue, one almost no one else ever seemed to talk about: America's dangerously vulnerable power grid. In speech after late-night speech on the House floor, Bartlett hectored the nearly empty chamber: If the United States doesn't do something to protect the grid, and soon, a terrorist or an act of nature will put an end to life as we know it.
Monday, January 06, 2014
Sunday, January 05, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: A study published this week in the journal Frontiers in Zoology suggests that dogs choose to relieve themselves along a north-south axis in line with Earth's magnetic field. The researchers wrote: "Our analysis of the raw data indicates that dogs not only prefer N-S direction, but at the same time they also avoid E-W direction". Not only people are sensitive, but animals have instincts too.
Saturday, January 04, 2014
Via WWTDD: Jang Song Thaek, who had been considered Kim's second-in-command, has been executed. Jang and his five closest aides were set upon by 120 hunting hounds which had been starved for five days.
Friday, January 03, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: He was Canadian Minister of Defense in the 1960s, ruling over the country's armed forces during the time of the Cold War -- and when he retired he publicly stated that we are not alone in the universe, and that some guests from outer space actually live here, on planet Earth.