Day: June 27, 2016

SEC sues ‘Frack Master’ CEO for using “whore card” to spend investor cash on sex workers and strippers

Chris Faulkner. What an asshole.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Breitling Energy Corporation of Dallas, Texas, and its CEO, “Frack Master” Chris Faulkner, for fraudulently spending $80 million dollars of investors’ money on fancy dining, luxury cars, strippers, sex workers, and all the other fixins of a jet-setting sociopath’s lifestyle.

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Volkswagen's US diesel emissions fraud settlement: $15 billion, largest in US history

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Volkswagen AG’s settlement with half a million U.S. regulators and diesel vehicle owners over polluting vehicles is valued at more than $15 billion cash, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters Monday.

A separate report from AP puts the figure around $14.7 billion.

If that’s accurate, the settlement will be the largest ever automotive buyback offer in American history, and the most expensive auto industry scandal ever.

The historic lawsuit followed the German automaker’s admission in September 2015 it lied to regulators and installed secret software that let U.S. cars emit up to 40 times legally permitted pollution levels. (more…)

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Yes Men punk the NRA with "buy one gun, give one gun" program

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At “Share the Safety,” you can buy one of three Smith & Wesson guns, and the good folks at the NRA will send another one just like it to a lucky person in a low income, inner-city neighborhood, “law-abiding urbanites who will for the first time be able to defend themselves against those who prey on the urban poor.” It’s just like Tom’s shoes!
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Can losing weight help breast cancer patients survive? Fitbit joins study to find out.

National Cancer Institute

Scientists are recruiting thousands of women for a large clinical trial to find out if weight loss should be prescribed as a treatment for breast cancer in some patients.

The trial will put obese and overweight women who are 18 and older and recently diagnosed with breast cancer on diets and track exercise to see if losing a little weight could help prevent a cancer recurrence.

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Trump ally Scott Brown suggests Elizabeth Warren take DNA test to prove heritage

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After Elizabeth Warren accompanied Hillary Clinton today on the campaign trail in Cincinnati, Ohio, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown brought up the ol’ not-a-Cherokee routine once again.

Brown said on a call with the RNC that Warren was not Native American, an accusation he’s recycled since 2012, when the two were both vying for the same senator seat. According to Politico:

At the height of the 2012 campaign, it was reported that Warren had listed herself as having Native American roots at Harvard University. Soon, there was a “full-blown campaign frenzy,” Warren recalls, with Republicans demanding that she prove her Native-American roots and accusing her of getting her job at the elite university by making false claims about her personal background.

Today, Brown brought up the tired accusations, once again asking for proof, this time suggesting she take a DNA test. According to the Washington Post:

“As you know, she’s not Native American,” Brown, an early Trump endorser, told reporters on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee. “She’s not 1/32 Cherokee…Harvard can release the records, she can authorize the release of those records, or she can take a DNA test…”

Recently, Trump, never to miss an opportunity to question or make fun of one’s race, has repeatedly called her “Pocahontas.

Never in recent politics has the topic of heritage played such a prominent role during the presidential campaign cycle, which has only just begun.

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Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors: A Duck & Cover Adventure

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Modern civilization has all but disappeared. It falls to a fearless, dedicated and slap-stick bunch known as Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors to help humanity recover. With help like this, you might be better off on your own!

Benjamin Wallace’s first installment in the Duck and Cover series is a quick and witty read. We find America highly mutated and extremely dangerous. Small enclaves of folks are trying to rebuild society, and boy do they need help! Enter the post-apocalyptic nomadic warriors: experts in a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of nothing. Two such warriors arrive at the town of New Hope, each offering to lend his aid. New Hope sends one away and accepts the aid of the other. Did they choose wisely? Did they even need to choose? How did humanity survive at all?

This read was a good time! The characters are a lot of fun, and standout for this style of novel. The contrasting styles of the two titular characters, and the passing of focus back and forth, really makes this tale roll along. The story is predictable, but Wallace’s wildly mutated landscape, and slowly emerging backstory, made it hard to put this book down.

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors: A Duck & Cover Adventure

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In Japan, you can rent your friends

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For around US$115 for two hours, you can rent a friend via Tokyo company Client Partners. (No, this isn’t code for prostitution.) From Chris Colin’s article in The Week:

As we nibble at pork with ginger, (rent-a-friend) Yumi cheerfully tells me about the gigs she has had since joining Client Partners. (The six-year-old agency is the largest of its kind in Japan, with eight branches across Tokyo and another that recently opened in Osaka.) There was the mystery writer who wanted her to read the novel he’d toiled away at for 10 years. Another man needed someone to talk with about his aging parents — not in person, but via months of emails. Like Miyabi, Yumi works weddings. For one, she was hired to play the sister of the bride — a real, living woman who was in a family feud that precluded her actual attendance. The mother of the bride was also a rental. The two impostors got along swimmingly.

Yumi explains that these are just the more theatrical gigs. The bulk of her clients? They just want basic, uncomplicated companionship. From Yumi’s vantage point, the breadth and depth of that need says something profound about her country.

There’s a word in Japanese, gaman, that translates roughly as “stoic forbearance in the face of the unbearable.” It’s a deep-seated Japanese value, this idea that you suck it up no matter what. A lot has been happening lately. Anxiety and depression spiked after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The country itself is shrinking, its population plummeting and aging rapidly. And there’s the apparently growing problem of people who literally work themselves to death; a third of suicides have been attributed to overwork. All of that, Yumi and Taka say, but you act like everything’s fine.

Enter the rent-a-friend. Not a miracle cure, no. But maybe a pressure valve. “With us,” Yumi says, “people can talk about their feelings without worrying what their real friends think.”

Inside Japan’s booming rent-a-friend industry(The Week)

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Portable background for video conferencing

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I usually do one Google Hangout a day, sometimes more (I also use the same kind of Beam robot that Snowden uses.) I work out of the guest bedroom in my house, and I’ve never been happy that other people can see the bed behind me. I recently bought a WebAround ($45 on Amazon, which is a big round screen that attaches to my chair, and creates a neutral wall behind me. I wish I’d bought it a long time ago.

It’s easy to fold up:

I wish it were a bit larger, because the edges show unless I’m pretty close to the computer. But it is so much better than not having it.

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Shoot like a pro with the Hollywood Art Institute Photography Course & Certification

Taking pictures can be challenging. There are a million factors that can influence each shot you take – and unless you’re a trained photographer, you often just focus, click…and cross your fingers.

Of course, you can take some of the ambiguity out of your picture-taking with this Hollywood Art Institute Photography Course & Certification package, now only $19.99 in the Boing Boing Store.

Across 22 modules, this course will teach you what you need to know – and everything you should avoid – while snapping photos. Access premium video tutorials, articles, e-books, flashcards, and quizzes to really establish and consolidate your grasp of photography fundamentals.

Backed by some of the industry’s most experienced shooters and teachers, you’ll receive professional certification once the course is finished, plus long-term access to tutors and learning materials beyond your coursework.

The Hollywood Art Institute Photography Course & Certification usually runs almost $2,600, so grab access to this course now at over 90% off until the offer expires.

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Wherever You Go – A poetic storyline about traveling and new experiences

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Wherever You Go

by Pat Zietlow Miller (author) and Eliza Wheeler (artist)

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

2015, 32 pages, 10.2 x 10.2 x 0.5 inches

$13 Buy a copy on Amazon

A hare packs its bags and takes a bicycle tour in this lovely rhyming picture book. Donning its jaunty chapeau and dapper pea coat, a hare cycles through forests and a covered bridge, past a paddlewheeled seaside inn, and into the evening lights of the big city. Exploring the neon-lit metropolis, it rides atop a trolley, pedals past a jolly carnival, and cruises over Seussian suspension bridges. Continuing on its way, it journeys through an arid desert, over indigo mountains, and back home again.

Utilizing pale yellows, greens, and pinks, and drawn with an incredibly thin line, Wherever You Go‘s deep focus art fills every page with an expansive landscape. Little eyes could get lost for hours searching out minute details. Owls ride in baskets, mice chug along on tugboats, and alligators fish near ponds, and lazy afternoons can be spent examining the intricate scenery. A liltingly poetic storyline about traveling and new experiences is a delightful metaphor for life’s journey.

– S. Deathrage

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During World War II, Japan floated balloons across the Pacific to drop bombs on the U.S.

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Toward the end of World War II, Japan launched a strange new attack on the United States: thousands of paper balloons that would sail 5,000 miles to drop bombs on the American mainland. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we’ll tell the curious story of the Japanese fire balloons, the world’s first intercontinental weapon.

We’ll also discuss how to tell time by cannon and puzzle over how to find a lost tortoise.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E10, "The Winds of Winter"

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The sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones concludes, with what many are sure to call a literally explosive trial and a named character death toll to match. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps everything that goes down in the world of Westeros. To discuss this week’s “The Winds of Winter,” Ivan and Red are joined by Kelly Anneken to discuss Cersei’s continuing stylistic reinventions, possible GIF-based meme density, Arya pulling a Cartman, ginger pride, and the greatest ongoing debate within male culture: how many kids you could fight at once. Stick with us now that the season’s over as we go into our ASOIAF book club, while alternating with episodes covering other television, movies, and various media.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon.

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Semiautomatic handgun advocate shot and killed her two daughters

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In March, Christy Sheats, 42, wrote on Facebook: “It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away, but that’s exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semiautomatic weapons.” On Friday she got into an argument with her two daughters and shot them both dead. Sheats herself was shot and killed by a police officer.

From News.com.au

In January, she shared a post with the following message: “I have 10 guns.

Obama wants eight of my guns. How many guns do I have? That’s right, I have 10 guns.”
The neighbourhood where the shooting took place was described as a “comfortable, middle class subdivision” by the Chronicle.

Christy posted a photo of herself and her two daughters in 2015. She wrote: “Happy Daughter’s Day to my two amazing, sweet, kind, beautiful, intelligent girls. I love and treasure you both more than you could ever possibly know.”

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Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion law

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The Court ruled in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt that the Texas law placed undue burdens on clinics that performed abortions by requiring them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, use doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals — measures that led to the closure of three quarters of the state’s abortion-providing facilities since 2013.
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China's $10B/year PR ministry mired in political fight with anti-corruption/loyalty enforcers

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China’s Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (in English, “Publicity Department”) spends $10B/year — only part of its budget — getting the official Chinese party line into foreign news outlets, with the rest of its activity directed internally, at government communications discipline and media censorship.
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Snowden publicly condemns Russia's proposed surveillance law

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Edward Snowden has taken to Twitter to condemn Russia’s proposed “Yarovaya law,” which provides prison sentences of 7 years for writing favorably about “extremism” on the Internet, criminalizes failure to report “reliable” information about planned attacks, and requires online providers to retain at least six months’ worth of users’ communications, 3 years’ worth of “metadata” and to provide backdoors to decrypt this material.
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