Caffeine In US Soda Pop Is From China’s Drug Factories

March 27, 2014

Caffeine In US Soda Pop Is From China's Drug Factories

Used in moderation, caffeine is a harmless eye-opening stimulant. But it’s a drug, and a tablespoon of pure caffeine will kill you. Plants produce the stuff as an insecticide, and it’s most concentrated in coffee beans, kola nuts, pekoe tea, and yerba mate.

So what’s the source of the caffeine in America’s soft drinks? Pharmaceutical factories in China, mostly.

More:

“Wake Up And Smell The Caffeine. It’s A Powerful Drug,” NPR

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Texas Town’s Request to Ted Nugent: Play ‘Far, Far Away’

March 26, 2014

Texas Town's Request to Ted Nugent: Play 'Far, Far Away'

The city of Longview Texas paid $16,250 to keep Ted Nugent from appearing at its municipal Fourth of July celebration. City leaders concluded that Mr. Nugent’s act was not the family-friendly entertainment they had in mind, but his agent claimed their preliminary talks constituted a verbal contract, so the town paid Mr. Nugent a “kill fee.” The 65-year-old rocker, once known for his guitar playing, now stays in the public eye through his racist comments, questionable lyrics, and gun-happy right-wing views.

More:

“Longview pays off rocker Ted Nugent to not perform,” Richard Yeakley, Longview News-Journal

“Rejection slip from Longview gig has Nugent hot as a firecracker,” Bud Kennedy, Fort Worth Star Telegram

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SxSW and The Indie Vibe

March 25, 2014

SxSW and The Indie Vibe

“As South By Southwest shuttered its 28th year Sunday, participants debated the growing corporate influence on the conference. Critics say SXSW has evolved past its core mission: to help new bands get discovered. Instead, they say, the media focus has shifted to already-established stars such as Jay Z, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, CeeLo Green, Rick Ross, Keith Urban and many more whose heavily promoted appearances are underwritten by international brands.

It’s poor vs. the 1 percent in miniature, and this change in vibe is relatively new. Even those who’ve found the spotlight before say it’s getting harder to break through.”

– “Has SXSW Sold-Out, Lost Sight of Its Mission?” Chris Talbott, Associated Press via Billboard

“It was, in a way, the income-inequality debate carried into the realm of attention: The tiny fraction of a percentage of performers who have made it big were grabbing even more exposure away from the struggling majority.”

“Big Money Upends a Festival,” Jon Pareles, New York Times

More:

“Cool Musicians And Bands Say SXSW Is Now A ‘Corporate Gang-Bang,’” Brandon Martinez, Business Insider

“Lady Gaga gives mixed message at SXSW about corporate interference,” Tim Jonze, The Guardian

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Image (“Washington Crossing Town Lake, after Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze)”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Turkey Tries to Turn Off Twitter

March 24, 2014

Turkey Tries to Turn Off Twitter

In a frantic effort to keep a lid on dissent, Turkey’s political leaders are blaming an outside agitator — Twitter — and they’re desperately trying to shut it down. The real problem seems to be insider information on corruption in those tweets, though, and not the micro-blogging platform itself. And work-arounds make a shut-off attempt futile. Twitter can be accessed through other sites and even by SMS text messaging.

More:

“Turkey: Twitter allows ‘character assassination, ‘” Suzan Fraser, AP via Fort Worth Star‑Telegram

“Twitter May Have Exposed Government Corruption, So Turkey Is Banning Twitter,” Sara Morrison, The Wire

“Turkey blocks use of Twitter after prime minister attacks social media site,” Kevin Rawlinson, The Guardian

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It’s Sad. But It’s Getting Sick.

March 23, 2014

It's Sad. But It's Getting Sick.

“World’s first cyber hijack: Was missing Malaysia Airlines flight hacked with mobile phone?” James Fielding and Stuart Winter, The Express

“CNN: Did a Black Hole Make Flight 370 Disappear?” Taylor Berman, Gawker

“Spoon-bender Uri Geller asked by Malaysian officials to locate missing plane,” Sophie Alexander, The Express

“Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Is There a Bermuda Triangle Connection?” Benjamin Radford, LiveScience.com

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Gun Worship

March 22, 2014

Gun Worship

The Georgia State Senate has passed a bill allowing guns to be carried in churches. The Georgia House of Representatives passed a similar bill which also allows convicted felons ‘stand your ground’ status, the right to claim they acted in self-defense if they use deadly force. The House version also allows guns in airports and bars, and lets K-12 teachers and staff carry handguns on school grounds.

More:

“Georgia Senate Passes Bill To Allow Guns In Churches,” Caitlin MacNeal, Talking Points Memo

“Amid Wave of Pro-Gun Legislation, Georgia Proposes Sweeping Law,” Herbert Buchsbaum, New York Times

“Critics say Georgia stand-your-ground gun law ‘recipe for unnecessary killing,’” Karen McVeigh, The Guardian

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Single-Payer Reality Therapy

March 21, 2014

Last week the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging held a hearing on “What the US Health Care System Can Learn from Other Countries.” Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina knows all about health care, probably due to his distinguished career selling lawnmowers. Mr. Burr made the usual counter-factual GOP assertions about healthcare delivery, thinly disguised as questions to Dr. Danielle Martin, MD, Vice-President of Medical Affairs & Health System Solutions at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital. Dr. Martin immediately administered reality therapy (above).

Senator Burr: “On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?”

Dr. Martin: “I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”

More:

“Watch an expert teach a smug U.S. senator about Canadian healthcare,” Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

 “Dr. Danielle Martin gives Washington a lesson on Canadian health care,”  Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News

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Equinox

March 20, 2014

Equinox

March 20, 2014 marks the Equinox, when day and night are of equal length. The March Equinox is often called the Spring or Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (where days will now get longer) and the Fall or Autumn Equinox in Southern latitudes (where days will shorten).

Okay, days still stay 24 hours long, it’s the periods of daylight that get longer and shorter. Come on, lighten up. The UN says March 20th is also the International Day of Happiness.

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Chutes & Ladders

March 19, 2014

Chutes & Ladders

“A meritocracy requires more than simply making it possible for people at the bottom to climb the ladder of opportunity. It also involves chutes of accountability for those at the top. These are two sides of the same coin: the skilled must be able to rise, but grandees caught with their snouts in the trough must also come tumbling down. ‘We cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless and the principle of the forgiveness to the powerful,’ writes Chris Hayes in his sweeping meditation on meritocracy, Twilight of the Elites.‘ And yet: ‘This is the America in which we currently reside.’”

– “There is no meritocracy: It’s just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged,” Thomas Frank, Salon

Related: See the fascinating Wikipedia entry on Snakes and Ladders.

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We’ve Seen This Movie Before. No Happy Endings.

March 18, 2014

We've Seen This Movie Before. No Happy Endings.

This is not the first time Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula have been caught up in a conflict between East and West. Although the nature of the polarity has varied, the results have never been pretty:

“Inside Crimea: A Jewel in Two Crowns,” Cathy Newman, National Geographic

“To understand Crimea, take a look back at its complicated history,” Adam Taylor, Washington Post

“5 things to know about Crimea,” Janet Weinstein, Al Jazeera America

“Kkatsap and Khokhol,”Poemas del rio Wang

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