Archive | September, 2013

Apple Maps Still Have a Few Kinks to Work Out

Apple Maps 2

And so does Fairbanks International Airport. In the last couple of weeks two people have driven along the taxiway and across one of its runways because their Apple Maps app told them to.

The Alaskan aiport has closed one of its main access routes for aircrafts after the flaw in the Apple Maps app was discovered. The app directed motorists to drive along the taxiway, which is only used by aviation pilots, in order to reach the airport ramp side of the passenger terminal.

Apple Maps

“These folks drove past several signs,” Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the Fairbanks airport, told the Alaska Dispatch. “They even drove past a gate. None of that cued them that they did something inappropriate.”

While only two Alaskans were stupid enough (Sarah Palin..?) to cross the runway, which is used by 737 jets, it was enough for the airport to put up extra barricades and send a strongly worded letter to Apple.

“We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,” Osborn said.

Apple is rushing to fix the issue before their Maps app gets any more bad press. In contrast, the Google Maps app provided a different, longer route, which takes drivers to the airport’s parking lot.

So you can take the longer route and end up in a parking lot or you can take the shorter route and risk getting hit by a 737. Or you can stop relying on your phone app and look out the window – if there’s a gate and a “do not enter” sign, you should probably turn around.

Via: International Business Times

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Rouhani Recognizes Holocaust… kind of…

Current Event Cat - Rouhani Holocaust

The new Iranian leader, Hassan Rouhani is trying to butter up the Jews by recognizing the holocaust – but Israel isn’t buying it.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took another moderate step away from his predessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by calling the Holocaust a “reprehensible” crime committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people. Ahmadinejad famously infamously denied the Holocaust, calling it a “myth”.

Rouhani’s comments come after he was criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to adequately denounce Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust comments. Netanyahu ordered the Israeli delegation to boycott Rouhani’s speech to the UN on Tuesday – partly because of Iran’s denial of the Holocaust and partly because they just hate each other.

So Rouhani sucked it up, figuring he’s already made a few moderate moves – so why not another? But the clever cleric that he is, he spoke in pretty vague terms, and evaded the interviewers question on whether he accepted the Holocaust and the scale of its atrocities.

“I have said before that I’m not a historian and when it comes to speaking about the dimensions of the holocaust, it’s the historians who should reflect on it,” he said, speaking through a translator. “But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable.

Whatever criminality the Nazis committed against the Jews, we condemn. The taking of human life is contemptible. It makes no difference whether that life is Christian, Jewish or Muslim. For us it is the same.”

But it just wouldn’t be a speech from an Iranian leader if it didn’t take a small swipe at the Jews and throw in a little support for Palestine.

“This does not mean that on the other hand you can say ‘Nazis committed crimes against a group, now therefore they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it,'” he said. “This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an evenhanded discussion.”

Meh. I’ll take what I can get, but Israel wasn’t too pleased.  Netanyahu denounced Rouhani’s address as “a cynical speech that was full of hypocrisy.” The Israeli PM didn’t think Rouhani did a great job condemning the Holocaust and isn’t buying his nuclear weapons promise either. Netanyahu said Iran’s strategy was “to talk and play for time in order to advance its ability to achieve nuclear weapons.”

 “We will not be fooled by half-measures that merely provide a smoke screen for Iran’s continual pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv hours before Rouhani spoke at the U.N. General Assembly. “And the world should not be fooled, either.”

Well, we’ll see about that. Obama and Rouhani are pen pals now after all.

Via: The Telegraph & Current Event Cats

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Ted Cruz’s Faux Filibuster Goes On and On and On and On…

Ted Cruz

The Republicans (well, mainly Ted Cruz…) are at it again, trying to get rid of Obamacare once and for all. Their motto: if at first you don’t succeed, try again for the 42nd time.

Senator Ted Cruz is now into the second day of his marathon speech in an attempt to block Obamacare funding. The Texas Republican kept talking though Tuesday night, beating out Rand Paul’s epic 13-hour filibuster in March. Although technically Cruz’s all-nighter Obama health care rant isn’t really a filibuster – Wednesday’s Senate vote is happening whether he likes it or not. So I guess he’s just having a bit of fun grandstanding?

I intend to speak in support of de-funding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand,” Cruz, sporting running shoes, said when he began his marathon speech on Tuesday afternoon.

Cruz has been leading the charge on the effort to defund Obama’s 2010 health care law and is determined to do it even if the entire government shuts down. Congress has until October 1 to pass a temporary budget bill to keep federal agencies running but Cruz is trying to tie de-funding Obamacare to the spending measure. The Democrat-controlled Senate will obviously take it out the defunding health care nonsense but when they send it back to the Republican house, who knows what will happen…

Well, there are only three things that can happen: The government shuts down because they can’t pass this thing, Obamacare gets defunded and Ted Cruz jizzes is pants, or everyone realizes Ted Cruz is a crazy Tea Bagger and the funding for Obamacare continues. Option 3 is most likely, especially considering many Republicans are already opposed Cruz’s plan and would rather avert a government shutdown than have one blow up in their faces.

And if they need any extra convincing that Ted Cruz might be a bit of a nutcase, they should just tune into his speech. Cruz started speaking Tuesday at 2:41 p.m and jumped right into comparing President Barack Obama’s health care reform law to slavery during the Civil War and Nazis during World War II. After repeatedly referring to Obamacare as a “jobs killer”, Cruz passed some time quoting Duck Dynasty as well as lyrics by country singer Toby Keith. Then he moved on to Dr. Seuss, reciting Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor.

Green Eggs and Ham has some applicability, as curious as it may sound, to the Obamcare debate,” Cruz said once he had finished. Americans “did not like green eggs and ham, and they did not like Obamacare either.”

Hmm. I guess Ted Cruz never finished the book. The story ends with the narrator agreeing to try green eggs and ham, and guess what? He likes green eggs and ham! But Cruz is right about one thing – the story does have some applicability. It shows that Republicans are afraid that once the public actually tries Obamacare and all of the conservative horror stories don’t come true, the public will end up liking Obamacare.

Via: BBC News 

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Disneyland Dismisses Disabled Program

disneyland

Sad news for rich soccer moms: no longer can you rent a disabled person out for the day so your kids can bypass the line at Disneyland.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort will no longer allow visitors with disabilities instant access to rides after hearing widespread reports of abusing the policy. Now disabled people will be issued tickets with a return time and have to wait in a line (albeit a smaller line) similar to the FastPass system.

“We have an unwavering commitment to making our parks accessible to all guests,” Disneyland Resort spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in a statement. “Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities.”

New York Post reporter Wednesday Martin stumbled across the ruse to hire a disabled person to pretend to be a family member so the rest of the family could skip lines while researching a book about New York’s Park Avenue elite. The black-market disabled Disney guides will cost you about $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day – far more cost efficient than the actual Disney VIP guides which go for $310 to $380 per hour. Plus, with a “family member” who needs a wheelchair or motorized scooter, Disney allows that person to bring up to six guests to a “more convenient entrance.” Until Oct 9th…. then the free ride comes to a stop.

Well you can imagine these rich Park Avenue types aren’t too pleased now that their well laid out plans have been discovered.

But people who claim to have real disabilities aren’t too happy either. As NBC reports, Rebecca Goddard takes her sons, age 4 and 6, to Disneyland once a week. She claims both her sons have autism and therefore can’t stand in lines longer than a few minutes before they start pushing other people.

“My boys don’t have the cognition to understand why it’s going to be a long wait,” Goddard said “There are so few things for my boys that bring them utter joy and happiness – to mess with it just makes me sad.”

Here’s an idea: don’t take your autistic children to the most crowded amusement park in the world – EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

I should get a Disneyland disability pass too for my rare very common disease: impatientosis. Symptoms include hatred of waiting in hour-long lineups with autistic kids pushing me.

Via: CNN

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President Obama is Scared of his Wife

scared of michelle

President Obama might not be scared of Dilma Rousseff, but he is scared of his wife.

The president was caught on microphone Monday night joking with a UN official saying he quit smoking because he’s scared of Michelle Obama. The first lady is more pro-health/anti-smoking than Michael Bloomberg – and she could probably pack a better punch too – so I suppose there’s good reason to be scared.

“I hope you’ve quit smoking. I haven’t had a cigarette in probably six years,” Obama said to Maina Kiai, a human rights campaigner, at the U.N General Assembly in New York, “That’s because I’m scared of my wife.”

The private exchange was caught on camera and aired on CNN. He should really watch out for those hot mics… they are even scarier than Michelle Obama.

President Obama has acknowledged his struggle with tobacco use over the years, but according to Michelle Obama he hasn’t actually gone six years without a cigarette – it’s been more like three years. In 2011 Michelle said that her husband had finally kicked his habit and hadn’t smoked in “almost a year.”

This just in: Obama lies!! 

Via: The Huffington Post

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Dilma Rousseff

Current Event Cat - Dilma Rousseff

If there’s one person who hates the NSA more than Edward Snowden, it’s Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Dilma Rousseff used her position as the opening speaker at the United Nations General Assembly as an opportunity to yell at the U.S for violating human rights and international law through espionage – including spying on her email. Those must be some pretty racy emails if she’s U.N angry (i.e super angry) … perhaps some love notes to her hero Fidel Castro?

Dilma Rousseff wasn’t just putting on an angry show for the U.N. – last month she canceled a planned visit to Washington at the last minute after the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the United States had monitored her phone calls, as well as Brazilian embassy calls and spied on the state oil corporation, Petrobras.

But since robbing Washington of her presence wasn’t enough to get the message across, the Brazilian president took to the UN stage to protest America’s love of spying. Rousseff told the assembled leaders that Brazil had been a target of intrusions and intercepts and there was no excuse for this kind of behaviour – not even to protect nations from terrorism!

“The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained. Brazil, Mr President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbour terrorist groups,” Dilma Rousseff said to the crowd.

“In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations.”

She’s totally hiding something…

Via: The Guardian & Current Event Cats

Pussy Riot Member Goes on Hunger Strike… And Other News

Pussy Riot HUnger Strike

Because it worked so well for the Guantanamo prisoners, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova announced that she will begin a hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions at Penal Colony No. 14 in Mordovia, where she is imprisoned.

In an open letter to The Guardian, the Pussy Riot member described working seven days a week, with a day off once a month and a half, with four hours of sleep a night. Other highlights include constant beatings and death threats from a camp administrator. Tolokonnikova, who is serving a two-year sentence for “hooliganism” after pariticiapting in an anti-Putin demonstration in a church, has demanded that the prisoners be “treated like human beings, not slaves.” The Guardian

Typhoon UsagiThe powerful typhoon Usagi (sounds like a great sushi roll!) slammed southern China and Hong Kong on Monday, killing at least 25 people – which isn’t bad considering a gazillion people live there. Usagi brought some flooding, blew some cars off the road and cut power lines to 170,000. And if that wasn’t enough, more than 370 flights were canceled and the financial markets closed for part of the morning. Al Jazeera

54345353451What’s worse: leaking classified information to a reporter about an al-Qaeda bomb plot or… child pornography? Well, retired FBI agent and former bomb technician Donald Sachtleben has pleaded guilty to both. Sachtleben apparently spoke to the Associated Press last year about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen and then decided to trade some child porn images online. Apparently the child pornography is worse than the bomb leak because he only got 43 months for the leak compared to 97 months for the porn. BBC News

McCain CruzTrouble in the Senate: according to an aide, Sen. John McCain “f*ing hates” Sen. Ted Cruz. News flash: so do a lot of people. Tension between the two Republican Senators grew earlier this year when Cruz participated in Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA. McCain then proceeded to call Cruz other Republicans “wacko birds.” First, great insult. Second, let’s hear Cruz’s response: “If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird then I am a very, very proud wacko bird.” But not a proud Canadian 🙁 Raw Story

Costa COncordia CaptainWhen in doubt, blame an Indonesian. The captain of the Costa Concordia has blamed his Indonesian helmsman for botching a crucial manoeuvre that he said would have avoided the cruise ship’s deadly collision with a reef off the coast of an island in Italy. Why bother having an Indonesian helmsman if you can’t use him as a scapegoat? Schettino told a court the helmsman failed to obey orders to slow down and steered the ship onto rocks. Captain Schettino is also charged with abandoning his ship before its 4,200 passengers and crew could all be safely evacuated. Instead of going down with the ship (see: Titanic), Captain Schettino got the hell out of there, leaving 32 people to die. Stay classy Captain! The Globe and Mail

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South Africa: Rhino Poaching on the Rise

Rhino Poaching  Horn

In honour of “World Rhino Day” (which was September 22), here is some depressing rhino poaching news: a record 688 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in 2013.

Yes, 2013 is not a good year for rhinos. In fact, it’s been the bloodiest year yet for them. There are about 18,000 white and 4,000 black rhinos in the South Africa but with the dramatic increase in rhino poaching their numbers are dwindling.

Demand for rhino horns is being largely driven by Asian markets (especially Vietnam) who view the horn as a status symbol and something that can magically cure diseases (spoiler alert: rhino horns have no medicinal uses… or any other kind of use… they are useless… stop poaching them).

The Guardian reports that a survey of 720 people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City found that typical buyers were “educated, successful and powerful individuals” and use rhino horn as currency in networking. Networking?!? Get a golf membership or a Facebook account and stop driving a species into extinction!

Anyways, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) is all over this sh*t and has coordinated the #iam4rhinos campaign in conjunction with ‘World Rhino Day’ – because everyone knows that liking things on Facebook and tweeting hashtags will 100% solve the issue at hand. Now here’s a video that all Vietnamese people should watch:

Via: The Guardian

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Egypt Bans All Things Muslim Brotherhood

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mursi shouts slogans during a protest in Cairo

An Egyptian military court has banned “all activities” by the Muslim Brotherhood. But any day now they will relinquish control and allow for free and fair elections… right?

Maybe not. The Cairo Court has ordered the interim government to seize the Muslim Brotherhood’s funds and freeze its assets. The Islamic organization with 1 million Egyptian members (and the party of ousted president Mohamed Morsi) has claimed persecution under the military government set up after Morsi got the boot  – in what can only be described as a mix between a military coup and a “national reconciliation” (or just as a military coup… but let’s not get picky).

Since Morsi got kicked out of power, military authorities have launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and many members have been killed in clashes with security forces. The latest ruling takes the crackdown a step further by banning not only the Muslim Brotherhood itself but also “any institution derived from or belonging to the Brotherhood” or “receiving financial support from it”, which includes social organizations that have been key for building the group’s grassroots support and helping its election victories.

The Muslim Brotherhood should be used to this by now. The group was outlawed in Egypt for most of its 85 years in existence and only began to work openly after Hosni Mubarak was ousted – and even then it’s legal status remained hazy.

But nevertheless they are pretty pissed about the lastest ban.

“This is totalitarian decision,” a leading Brotherhood member, Ibrahim Moneir, said in an interview with al-Jazeera, “You are losers, and it (the Brotherhood) will remain with God’s help, not by the orders by the judiciary of el-Sissi,” he added, referring to the head of the armed forces Gen Abdul Fattah el-Sissi.

That might just be true. Banning the organization’s activities may just further mobilize them underground. And as everybody knows, driving a Muslim organization into hiding and persecuting them is a recipe for great success!

Via: New York Times

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German Election: Four More Years of Merkel

Merkel

It’s good news and bad news for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The good news: The results of Sunday’s election are in and she won! The bad news: The results of Sunday’s election are in and she fell just short of a majority, which means… COALITION TALKS.

It was a big victory for Merkel, whose conservative bloc scored its best result in 23 years, winning 41.5 percent of the vote. But at the end of the day they were five seats short of a majority in the lower house. And since Merkel’s conservative government didn’t quite make the majority threshold, they will have to form a coalition government with her rivals. Her LEFTIST rivals!

Since Merkel’s partners of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats, won only 4.8 percent of the vote, effectively barring them from obtaining parliamentary seats, a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who won 25.7% of the vote, is seen as most likely – but it will take some hard bargaining. The Social Democrats are expected to play some good old fashioned hardball this time – demanding high profile cabinet posts and policy changes. Why? Their supporters are getting sick and tired of the party teaming up with Merkel -like they did in both 2005 and 2009. The SPD suffered a big drop in its electoral support in 2009 after their increasingly alienated base grew weary of always looking like the junior partner in Merkel’s coalition.

SPD leader Peer Steinbrueck clashed with Merkel during the lead up to the election, mainly over economic issues. The centre-left party argued for a national minimum wage and higher taxes on the wealthy and criticized Merkel’s economic austerity drive, saying Germany was too hard on its EU partners in southern Europe. Merkel disagrees, arguing that her election victory is proof that Germans are pro-austerity measures and anti-heavily indebted countries (Greece…).

At a news conference following her win Merkel said that “our European policy course will not change”.

So Merkel’s got her work cut out for her… but she’s got some time – several weeks of negotiations are expected before a new government is formed.

On the bright side, at least she’s still able to govern after winning 41.5% of the vote. I know a certain environmentalist who got the boot after winning the popular vote… damn electoral colleges.

Via: The National Post

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