AuthorTopic: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"  (Read 26244 times)

Offline Surly1

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Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps
« Reply #330 on: September 14, 2019, 05:21:54 PM »
Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps

Illustration for article titled Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps

The body of William Moldt, a 40-year-old Florida man who was reported missing in November of 1997, has been found. And it’s all thanks to Google Maps, strangely enough.

Barry Fay, a 50-year-old resident of Wellington, Florida, called the police after a neighbor told him there was a car in the pond behind his house that could be seen from Google Maps. Fay didn’t believe his neighbor at first, but he enlisted a friend with a hobby drone to hover over the pond and see for himself. Sure enough, there was a car in there, and police officers came to pull out the white 1994 Saturn SL with Moldt’s skeleton inside.

“I called the former owner of my house and asked if she knew about this,” Fay told the Sun Sentinel. “She was shocked.”

The skeleton was found at the 3700 block of Moon Bay Circle in Wellington, Florida, part of a housing development called the Grand Isles. The gated community had been under construction at the time of Moldt’s disappearance in 1997, according to the Charley Project, a cold case investigation community.

“Upon arrival deputies confirmed there was a vehicle in the pond,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted to Facebook. “The vehicle’s exterior was heavily calcified and was obviously in the water for a significant amount of time. Upon removing the vehicle skeleton remains were found inside.”

“On September 10, 2019, the remains were positively identified as William Moldt, who was reported missing on November 8, 1997.”

As the Charley Project notes, the car has been visible on Google Earth since at least 2007 thanks to the company’s satellite mapping software.

Illustration for article titled Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps

Investigators still have no idea what happened to Moldt, who went missing after visiting a nightclub 22 years ago. Moldt had called his girlfriend around 9:30pm to tell her that he was on his way home but was never heard from again. Some speculate that he may have had too much to drink, but he wasn’t known as a heavy drinker.

Apparently a lot of cars are sitting in America’s lakes, ponds, and canals, especially in Florida. Authorities discovered six cars in the Boca Rio canal one day in 2017 after they lowered the water level in preparation for a hurricane. One of the vehicles, a Toyota RAV4, contained the remains of a 47-year-old woman named Loraine Pino who had disappeared the year before.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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The "Brass Check"
« Reply #331 on: September 20, 2019, 08:05:47 AM »
A description of a book hat I'll bet few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed out all a century ago and despite being on elf the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

The Brass Check

The Brass Check is a muckraking exposé of American journalism by Upton Sinclair published in 1919. It focuses mainly on newspapers and the Associated Press wire service, along with a few magazines. Other critiques of the press had appeared, but Sinclair reached a wider audience with his personal fame and lively, provocative writing style.[1] Among those critiqued was William Randolph Hearst, who made routine use of yellow journalism in his widespread newspaper and magazine business.

Sinclair called The Brass Check "the most important and most dangerous book I have ever written."[2] The University of Illinois Press released a new edition of the book in 2003, which contains a preface by Robert W. McChesney and Ben Scott. The text is also freely available on the Internet, as Sinclair opted not to copyright the text in an effort to maximize its readership.

For much of Sinclair's career he was known as a "two book author": for writing The Jungle and The Brass Check.[3] Sinclair organized ten printings of The Brass Check in its first decade and sold over 150,000 copies.

The book is one of the "Dead Hand" series: six books Sinclair wrote on American institutions. The series also includes The Profits of Religion, The Goose-step (higher education), The Goslings (elementary and high school education), Mammonart (great literature, art and music) and Money Writes! (literature). The term "Dead Hand" criticizes Adam Smith’s concept that allowing an "invisible hand" of capitalist greed to shape economic relations provides the best result for society as a whole.

A brass check was the token purchased by a customer in a brothel and given to the woman of his choice. Sinclair implies that, in a similar fashion, the owners of the mass media purchase journalists' services in supporting the owners' political and financial interests.

The Brass Check has three sections: documented cases of newspapers' refusal to publicize Socialist causes and Sinclair's investigations of business corruption, cases where he was not personally involved, and proposed remedies. Sinclair incorporates other people's reactions to his cause into his nonfiction works, fostering objectivity.

Sinclair criticizes newspapers as ultra-conservative and supporting the political and economic powers that be, or as sensational tabloids practicing yellow journalism, such as newspapers run by William Randolph Hearst. In both cases, their purpose is to promote the business interests of the paper's owners, the owner's bankers, and/or the paper's advertisers. This is accomplished in several ways; among them: The publishers tell the editors what can and cannot be printed. Journalists routinely invent stories. To stimulate circulation, newspapers sensationalize trivial stories and destroy lives and reputations. Errors and slanders are never retracted, or the retraction is buried in the paper months later.

The editors and journalists of the Associated Press (AP) wire service fail to serve the public interest in the same way as employees of the individual papers. Controlled by 41 large newspaper corporations, the AP acts in their interests.[4]

Sinclair quotes a letter from the editor of the weekly San Francisco Star, James H. Barry:

Among the recent events whose media coverage he discusses are the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912 in West Virginia, the Ludlow massacre in Colorado in 1914, Industrial Workers of the World meetings, and the Red Scarewhipped up by the newspapers. As a tireless investigative reporter, Sinclair offered the results of his investigations to the newspapers for publication, but was almost entirely ignored.

The propaganda tactics practiced by U.S. government and corporations during World War I were continued after the war against political dissenters. Sinclair writes, "[T]oday all the energies which were directed against the Kaiser have been turned against the radicals."[5]

Sinclair recognized that a grass-roots response (mass meetings, demonstrations, circulating pamphlets, etc.) was not adequate when the mass media spread misinformation or ignored the truth. His main proposed remedies were:

  • a law that any newspaper which prints a false statement shall be required to give equal prominence to a correction, on penalty of a substantial fine.
  • the AP's monopoly, which he saw as a "public utility", should be challenged by other wire services.
  • a law forbidding any newspaper to fake telegraph or cable dispatches.
  • reporters must unionize so they have the power to fix their wage-scale and their ethical code.
  • an endowed weekly chronicle of news, without advertisements or editorials, cheaply printed and widely available.

The first code of ethics for journalists was created in 1923.[6]

By 1923, the FBI had a report on The Brass Check in its files, and a memorandum in the file noted that the directing manager of the Associated Press "has in his possession a confidential report on the book, The Brass Check."[7]

Sinclair challenged those who charged him with inaccuracy to review his published facts and to sue him for libel if they found he had been wrong. None did. But because Sinclair was denied access to the mainstream media to refute those charges, they assumed the aura of truth and gave the book a reputation for inaccuracy that caused it to be almost forgotten by midcentury.[3]

Press watchdogs at the time of publication and recently find The Brass Check's analysis of the media accurate and valuable. It is "muckraking at its best"[8] and "astonishingly prescient in its critique of the coziness of big media and other corporate interests."[9]

However, on its publication "[m]ost newspapers refused to review the book, and those very few that did were almost always unsympathetic. Many newspapers, like the New York Times, even refused to run paid advertisements for the book."[3] And "those historians who bother to mention The Brass Check dismiss it as ephemeral, explaining that the problems it depicts have been solved."[3]

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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There used to be 4 billion American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared
« Reply #332 on: October 02, 2019, 04:38:58 AM »
The American chestnut grew quicker and larger than other varieties. (Getty Images)

American chestnut trees once blanketed the east coast, with an estimated 4 billion trees spreading in dense canopies from Maine to Mississippi and Florida. These huge and ancient trees, up to 100 feet tall and 9 feet around, were awe-inspiring, the redwoods of the east coast, but with an extra perk — the nuts were edible. Chestnuts were roasted, ground into flour for cakes and bread, and stewed into puddings. The leaves of the trees were boiled down into medicinal treatments by Native Americans. The trees make appearances throughout American literature, like in Thoreau’s journal, where he considered his guilt over pelting them with rocks to shake the nuts loose while he lived in Walden woods, musing that the “old trees are our parents, and our parents’ parents, perchance.” Chestnut trees offered shade in town squares, were the wood of choice for pioneers’ log cabins, and were a mainstay of American woodcraft. In short, chestnuts were part of everyday American life. Until they weren’t.

Finding a mature American chestnut in the wild is so rare today that discoveries are reported in the national press. The trees are “technically extinct,” according to The American Chestnut Foundation. The blight that killed them off still lives in the wild and they rarely grow big enough to flower and seed, typically remaining saplings until they die. Essentially, the giant trees were reduced to shrubs by the 1950s.

The problem was a fungus imported from Asia that spread easily, attaching to animal fur and bird feathers. Spores were released in rainstorms and tracked to other trees through footsteps. The fungus infected trees through injuries to the bark as small as those created by insects. “It looks like a target filled full of small shot holes,” one Pennsylvania paper reported as the blight spread.

The first chestnut tree may have been infected as early as the 1890s, with blight first reported in 1904 when it was spotted on a tree in New York’s Botanical Garden. Panic over the blight was widespread by the 1910s. State commissions were formed. Farmers were implored to chop down trees with any signs of blight. “Woodman, burn that tree; spare not a single bough,” begged The Citizen, a paper from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, the heart of the chestnut tree’s range. Even the Boy Scouts pitched in to try and save the chestnuts, scouring forests for blighted trees as part of a multi-state effort to create an infection-free zone.

The combined powers of the public, scientists, and the governments weren’t enough to save the chestnuts. The loss was stunning, both financially and emotionally. “Efforts to stop the spread of this bark disease have been given up,” The Bismarck Daily Tribune resignedly reported in 1920. The paper estimated that the value of the trees was $400,000,000 as recently as a decade before.

A dying chestnut tree photographed in 1916 in North Spencer, New York. (Cornell University)

The end of the trees marked the end of a “conspicuous and beautiful feature of the landscape in this country,” and the Daily Tribunepredicted with incredulity that “schoolboys of the future who read the poem of the village blacksmith will ask, What is a chestnut tree?” (the allusion was to the first line of a Longfellow poem). The traumatic loss of the chestnut tree finally spurred federal laws to protect native plants from diseases they can’t resist.

Though the trees are long gone from the forest canopies of the east coast, efforts to find a cure for the blight continue. In fact, they haven’t stopped since the trees started dying. Some scientists are crossing American chestnuts with Chinese chestnut trees, which are resistant to the blight, and then backcrossing the hybrids with pure American trees. Others are infecting trees with other viruses to kill the blight. Still more are taking a cutting edge approach and sequencing the DNA of the American chestnut and the fungus that causes blight, in part to guarantee that any trees reintroduced into the wild are truly blight resistant.

The century-long drive to save the chestnut tree isn’t just about nostalgia or a funny manifestation of American exceptionalism. The American chestnut is distinct from other varieties for both its size and how quickly it grows, which is why it was historically such a valued source of wood. And given the starring role the nuts played in American cuisine until the trees died, they tasted pretty good too.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Former NASA scientist says they found life on Mars in the 1970s
« Reply #333 on: October 16, 2019, 08:16:01 AM »
Former NASA scientist says they found life on Mars in the 1970s

(CNN)We may have already discovered the essence of life on Mars 40 years ago, according to a former NASA scientist.

Gilbert V. Levin, who was principal investigator on a NASA experiment that sent Viking landers to Mars in 1976, published an article in the Scientific American journal last Thursday, arguing the experiment's positive results were proof of life on the red planet.

The experiment, called Labeled Release (LR), was designed to test Martian soil for organic matter. "It seemed we had answered that ultimate question," Levin wrote in the article.

In the experiment, the Viking probes placed nutrients in Mars soil samples -- if life were present, it would consume the food and leave gaseous traces of its metabolism, which radioactive monitors would then detect.

To make sure it was a biological reaction, the test was repeated after cooking the soil, which would prove lethal to known life. If there was a measurable reaction in the first and not the second sample, that would suggest biological forces at work -- and that's exactly what happened, according to Levin.

However, other experiments failed to find any organic material and NASA couldn't duplicate the results in their laboratory -- so they dismissed the positive result as false positives, some unknown chemical reaction rather than proof of extraterrestrial life.

"NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life," said Levin in his article. "Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA's subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results."

But now, decades later, there are more and more promising signs. NASA's Curiosity rover found organic matter on Mars in 2018, and just last week it found sediments that suggest there were once ancient salty lakes on the surface of Mars.

"What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars?" Levin wrote. "The astonishing fact is that there is none."

Levin, a maverick researcher who has often run afoul of the NASA bureaucracy, has insisted for decades that "it is more likely than not that we detected life." Now, he and LR co-experimenter Patricia Ann Straat are calling for further investigation.

"NASA has already announced that its 2020 Mars lander will not contain a life-detection test," Levin wrote in the Scientific American article. "In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible."

He proposed that the LR experiment be repeated on Mars, with certain amendments, and then have its data studied by a panel of experts.

"Such an objective jury might conclude, as I did, that the Viking LR did find life," he wrote.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover is set to launch next summer and land in February 2021. It carries an instrument that will help it search for past signs of life on Mars -- the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals instrument, dubbed SHERLOC.

The rover will look for past habitable environments, find biosignatures in rock and will test those samples back on Earth.

But if scientists fail to find evidence of life, that won't end the hope for human exploration. Mars 2020 will also test oxygen production on the planet and monitor Martian weather to evaluate how potential human colonies could fare on Mars.

Scottie Andrew and Richard Stenger contributed reporting.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested
« Reply #334 on: October 18, 2019, 04:37:56 AM »
When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested
Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.



By Lizzie Presser
Photography by Edmund D. Fountain
October 16, 2019
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.
ON THE LAST TUESDAY of July, Tres Biggs stepped into the courthouse in Coffeyville, Kansas, for medical debt collection day, a monthly ritual in this quiet city of 9,000, just over the Oklahoma border. He was one of 90 people who had been summoned, sued by the local hospital, or doctors, or an ambulance service over unpaid bills. Some wore eye patches and bandages; others limped to their seats by the wood-paneled walls. Biggs, who is 41, had to take a day off from work to be there. He knew from experience that if he didn’t show up, he could be put in jail.

Before the morning’s hearing, he listened as defendants traded stories. One woman recalled how, at four months pregnant, she had reported a money order scam to her local sheriff’s office only to discover that she had a warrant; she was arrested on the spot. A radiologist had sued her over a $230 bill, and she’d missed one hearing too many. Another woman said she watched, a decade ago, as a deputy came to the door for her diabetic aunt and took her to jail in her final years of life. Now here she was, dealing with her own debt, trying to head off the same fate.

Biggs, who is tall and broad-shouldered, with sun-scorched skin and bright hazel eyes, looked up as defendants talked, but he was embarrassed to say much. His court dates had begun after his son developed leukemia, and they’d picked up when his wife started having seizures. He, too, had been arrested because of medical debt. It had happened more than once.

Judge David Casement entered the courtroom, a black robe swaying over his cowboy boots and silversmithed belt buckle. He is a cattle rancher who was appointed a magistrate judge, though he’d never taken a course in law. Judges don’t need a law degree in Kansas, or many other states, to preside over cases like these.
Casement asked the defendants to take an oath and confirmed that the newcomers confessed to their debt. A key purpose of the hearing, though, was for patients to face debt collectors. “They want to talk to you about trying to set up a payment plan, and after you talk with them, you are free to go,” he told the debtors. Then, he left the room.

The first collector of the day was also the most notorious: Michael Hassenplug, a private attorney representing doctors and ambulance services. Every three months, Hassenplug called the same nonpaying defendants to court to list what they earned and what they owned — to testify, quite often, to their poverty. It gave him a sense of his options: to set up a payment plan, to garnish wages or bank accounts, to put a lien on a property. It was called a “debtor’s exam.”

If a debtor missed an exam, the judge typically issued a citation of contempt, a charge for disobeying an order of the court, which in this case was to appear. If the debtor missed a hearing on contempt, Hassenplug would ask the judge for a bench warrant. As long as the defendant had been properly served, the judge’s answer was always yes. In practice, this system has made Hassenplug and other collectors the real arbiters of who gets arrested and who is shown mercy. If debtors can post bail, the judge almost always applies the money to the debt. Hassenplug, like any collector working on commission, gets a cut of the cash he brings in.


Crystal Dyke with her husband and two kids outside their home in Leroy, Kansas. She was arrested when she was pregnant because she missed hearings involving a $230 radiologist bill.

Across the country, thousands of people are jailed each year for failing to appear in court for unpaid bills, in arrangements set up much like this one. The practice spread in the wake of the recession as collectors found judges willing to use their broad powers of contempt to wield the threat of arrest. Judges have issued warrants for people who owe money to landlords and payday lenders, who never paid off furniture, or day care fees, or federal student loans. Some debtors who have been arrested owed as little as $28.
More than half of the debt in collections stems from medical care, which, unlike most other debt, is often taken on without a choice or an understanding of the costs. Since the Affordable Care Act of 2010, prices for medical services have ballooned; insurers have nearly tripled deductibles — the amount a person pays before their coverage kicks in — and raised premiums and copays, as well. As a result, tens of millions of people without adequate coverage are expected to pay larger portions of their rising bills.

The sickest patients are often the most indebted, and they’re not exempt from arrest. In Indiana, a cancer patient was hauled away from home in her pajamas in front of her three children; too weak to climb the stairs to the women’s area of the jail, she spent the night in a men’s mental health unit where an inmate smeared feces on the wall. In Utah, a man who had ignored orders to appear over an unpaid ambulance bill told friends he would rather die than go to jail; the day he was arrested, he snuck poison into the cell and ended his life.

In jurisdictions with lax laws and willing judges, jail is the logical endpoint of a system that has automated the steps from high bills to debt to court, and that has given collectors power that is often unchecked. I spent several weeks this summer in Coffeyville, reviewing court files, talking to dozens of patients and interviewing those who had sued them. Though the district does not track how many of these cases end in arrest, I found more than 30 warrants issued against medical debt defendants. At least 11 people were jailed in the past year alone.

With hardly any oversight, even by the presiding judge, collection attorneys have turned this courtroom into a government-sanctioned shakedown of the uninsured and underinsured, where the leverage is the debtors’ liberty.

Read the rest here:
https://features.propublica.org/medical-debt/when-medical-debt-collectors-decide-who-gets-arrested-coffeyville-kansas/
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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What Happens if We Nuke a City? An Explainer
« Reply #335 on: October 21, 2019, 02:20:57 AM »
What Happens if We Nuke a City? An Explainer.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/5iPH-br_eJQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/5iPH-br_eJQ</a>
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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What the heck did Tulsi Gabbard just do?
« Reply #336 on: October 25, 2019, 03:50:16 AM »
What the heck did Tulsi Gabbard just do?



Bill Palmer

We’ve given up trying to understand why Democratic Congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard says and does any of what she says and does. She routinely spews the talking points of Putin and Assad, but insists she’s not aligned with them. She spews bizarre conspiracy theories about the Democratic Party, and likes to appear on the most deranged of Fox News shows. She recently began attacking the impeachment process against Donald Trump. Now she’s made her most bizarre move yet.

Tulsi Gabbard just announced that she’s quitting Congress. Well, she’s not resigning immediately. But at around midnight on Thursday, she announced on Twitter that she’s not seeking reelection for her House seat in 2020, because she’s now putting all of her focus into her presidential run. Here’s the thing: her presidential run is already effectively over. She’s polling at around two percent. She has literally zero percent chance of being the Democratic nominee. So what’s she up to?

One thing to keep in mind is that Gabbard has burned so many bridges within the Democratic Party, and she’s now so distrusted and despised by so many Democratic voters, she was going to face a Democratic primary challenger in the House – and she was going to have a hard time surviving it. But since her presidential campaign is a complete failure, why not just drop out now, and put her focus into retaining her House seat?

Clearly, Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t think that her presidential campaign is over, even though she’s all but washed out of the Democratic primary race. Is she about to prove Hillary Clinton right, by launching a third party presidential bid aimed at sabotaging the Democratic nominee? Is she making so many Fox News appearances because she’s planning to join the network as a token Democratic commentator? We don’t know. But this all makes zero sense. Something doesn’t add up here. Then again, with Gabbard, nothing ever adds up, period.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"
« Reply #337 on: October 28, 2019, 06:53:15 PM »
This indeed makes me say, "Dafuq?!?"

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/NTgAqH9MEeg" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/NTgAqH9MEeg</a>

A stunning view: Sebastian Steudtner, a German pro surfer, rode a wave over 115 feet tall at Nazare, Portugal

The only surfing I do involves a cannel changer, but this is flat-out remarkable.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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