Passes for Urbana pool, which is on time and on budget, go on sale

URBANA — Discounted season passes to Urbana's new family aquatic center go on sale Monday at the Phillips Recreation Center, 505 W. Stoughton St., U.

The $9.1 million center, which is being built on the same site as past Crystal Lake Park pools in north Urbana, is on schedule and on budget, park district Executive Director Vicki Mayes said Friday. It is to be open in early June.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/parks-and-recreation/2013-03-30/passes-urbana-pool-which-time-and-budget-go-sale.html


Chuck Koplinski: Far more to 'Spring Breakers' than meets the eye

The first surprise of the 2013 film year, Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" is a bold look at today's younger generation, portraying it as a group that has no firm connection with reality, content to exist in a hedonistic lifestyle in which all of their needs are met without taking any responsibility for any of the fallout that may result.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/film/2013-03-28/chuck-koplinski-far-more-spring-breakers-meets-eye.html

Cops running out of bullets because gun nuts have bought them all

It seems that so many gun nuts are buying up ammunition, in the fear that President Obama will take away their precious guns, that there’s now an ammo shortage in our country that’s directly affecting police departments. Things are so bad that even Walmart has been rationing ammo sales since January Here’s AP on the [...]


via AMERICAblog http://americablog.com/2013/03/cops-running-out-of-bullets-because-gun-nuts-have-bought-them-all.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Americablog+%28AMERICAblog+News%29

Supreme Court agrees with prisoner’s handwritten appeal in assault case

The Supreme Court sided with a prisoner’s handwritten appeal on Wednesday, ruling in a unanimous opinion the federal government can be sued in abuse cases involving federal prison guards.

The Associated Press reported that the opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, will allow Kim Millbrook to proceed with his lawsuit, stemming from an alleged sexual assault in 2010.

According to Courthouse News Service, Millbrook’s suit, which he filed without an attorney, accuses three guards at the federal prison in Lewisberg, Pennsylvania, of leading him to a separate basement unit, then forcing him to provide oral sex while holding him by the neck.

Millbrook said the attack violated the Federal Torts Claim Act, which disqualifies federal employees from immunity in civil suits for deliberate actions. The government said an internal investigation and medical examination debunked Millbrook’s accusations, while the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April 2012 that the law only applied when authorities are making arrests, conducting searches or seizing evidence

“The plain text confirms that Congress in­tended immunity determinations to depend on a federal officer’s legal authority, not on a particular exercise of that authority,” Thomas wrote. “Consequently, there is no basis for concluding that a law enforcement officer’s intentional tort must oc­cur in the course of executing a search, seizing evidence, or making an arrest in order to subject the United States to liability.”

The New York Times reported in October 2012 that Millbrook, who was originally convicted in 2007 on drug and gun-related charges as well as intimidating and tampering with witnesses, has filed three prior lawsuits, alleging mistreatment at each prison he has been jailed in.

The opinion can be read in its entirety below.

Millbrook vs United States

["Man in a cell" via Shutterstock]

via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/27/supreme-court-agrees-with-prisoners-handwritten-appeal-in-assault-case/

These waveform wedding rings are the geekiest thing you'll see today

Behold, the "I Do" rings by Japanese artist and designer Sakurako Shimizu. Each set of bands is custom made, etched with a waveform of a couple's voices uttering any words they choose. (So long as it's pithy enough to fit on the band, we're assuming. "I do" seems a fitting choice, considering.)


via io9 http://io9.com/these-waveform-wedding-rings-are-the-geekiest-thing-you-461249995


Park board OKs contract to demolish Spalding Pool

CHAMPAIGN — By the end of June, all evidence of Champaign's Spalding Pool will be gone.

The Champaign Park District board Wednesday awarded a contract for $124,500 to Dig It of Champaign for the demolition of the 42-year-old outdoor pool and bathhouse in north Champaign. Additional alternate costs will increase the project cost to no more than $200,000.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/parks-and-recreation/2013-03-27/park-board-oks-contract-demolish-spalding-pool.html

SCOTUS Hears Historic Arguments For and Against DOMA

Some of the arguments from yesterday's Prop 8 hearing.

We all have gay friends, gay relatives, gay neighbors, or gay co-workers. (Some of us even have all of the above.) For the first time, it looks like our dear friends and relatives have a real shot at the same legal rights that apply to any married couple, as the Supreme Court listens this morning to arguments against the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. I hope and pray that those rights are finally recognized by the Court, and that the best American traits of generosity and inclusion are reflected in their decision, because to decide otherwise is not only crazy, it's indecent:

An 83-year-old former IBM programmer is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a law that cost her more than a quarter of a million dollars and deprived her, and thousands of other gay couples, of federal marriage benefits.

At issue is the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, passed by overwhelming margins in both houses of Congress in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton. It bars federal agencies from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages in the states where they are legal.

The arguments are being heard just one day after a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which put an end to same-sex marriage in that state, was brought to the high court. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court hinted that it might be hesitant to issue any kind of sweeping ruling declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. The justices seemed wary of issuing a broad decision that would apply to any state outside of California.

As a result of DOMA, same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriages are legal are accorded state and local marriage benefits, but not more than 1,100 federal ones. These range from spousal health coverage to Social Security and veterans' benefits.

For more than 40 years, Edie Windsor lived with another woman, Thea Spyer, and the two were eventually married in Canada in 2007. But when Spyer died two years later, leaving Windsor the estate, the IRS sent a tax bill for $363,053, because DOMA barred the federal agency from recognizing their marriage. The surviving spouse of a traditional marriage is not required to pay federal estate taxes.

"I couldn't believe that they were making a stranger of this person I lived with and loved for 43-something years," she said.

So she sued the U.S. government, and two lower federal courts found that DOMA amounted to unconstitutional discrimination. As the case wound its way through the legal process, the Justice Department, originally her adversary, became her ally.

Two years ago, Attorney General Eric Holder notified Congress of President Barack Obama's conclusion that "classifications based on sexual orientation" were inconsistent with the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under law. The Justice Department stopped defending DOMA in court.

via Crooks and Liars http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/scotus-hears-historic-arguments-and-a


Jane Goodall accused of plagiarising Wikipedia

Seeds of Hope, the primatologist's new book, has publication delayed after newspaper finds uncredited sources

Leading primatologist Jane Goodall's forthcoming book has been postponed after she was found to have lifted some passages from websites including Wikipedia.

An expert asked by the Washington Post to review Goodall's Seeds of Hope, which was due out next month, spotted that some passages in the book echoed various other sources. The paper published a report last week which claimed that at least 12 sections in the book were lifted from other websites, and which included an admission from Goodall of her failure correctly to cite her sources.

Now publisher Grand Central and Goodall have released a statement to American media announcing the book's postponement "so that we may have the necessary time to correct any unintentional errors".

"It is important to me that the proper sources are credited, and I will be working diligently with my team to address all areas of concern," Goodall said. "My goal is to ensure that when this book is released it is not only up to the highest of standards, but also that the focus be on the crucial messages it conveys."

Seeds of Hope, an examination, according to its publisher, of "the critical role that trees and plants play in our world", combines Goodall's own stories with more detailed information about plants. It is in the latter sections, found the Washington Post last week, that "the instances of borrowing creep in". Goodall, famous for her studies of chimpanzees in the wild, admits in the book that she has "spent a lifetime loving plants, even though I have never studied them as a scientist".

Examples cited by the paper include a section on organic farming. "According to Oxfam, a British non-profit agency working to put an end to poverty worldwide, the spraying of pesticides on tea estates is often done by untrained casual daily-wage workers, sometimes even by children and adolescents," writes Goodall – a sentence that also appears on the website Choice Organic Teas, word for word.

Wikipedia also appears to have been used for a source: talking about the American botanist John Bartram, who lived during the 1700s and shipped seeds to Europe, Goodall informs her readers that "'Bartram's Boxes,' as they came to be known, were regularly sent to Peter Collinson for distribution to a wide list of European clients." The Wikipedia entry on Bartram contains a virtually identical sentence.

Although it also points to passages borrowed from a website about the history of tobacco, and from an astrology site, perhaps the most damning instance of "borrowing" is Goodall's use of a quote from the botanist Matt Daws. "'If seeds can survive that long in such poor conditions, then that's good news for the ones that are stored under ideal conditions in the Millennium Seed Bank,' Matt Daws said to me," she writes. Daws appears to have said something very similar in a 2009 article: "If seeds can survive that long in poor conditions, then that's good news for those in the Millennium Seed Bank stored under ideal conditions." And he told the Washington Post that "to be perfectly honest I have no recollection of speaking to her".

Goodall initially responded to the accusations in an email to the paper last week. "This was a long and well researched book, and I am distressed to discover that some of the excellent and valuable sources were not properly cited, and I want to express my sincere apologies," she wrote. "I hope it is obvious that my only objective was to learn as much as I could so that I could provide straightforward factual information distilled from a wide range of reliable sources."

guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via The Guardian World News http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/25/jane-goodall-book-accused-plagiarising-wikipedia

19 year old develops plan to clean up ocean trash vortexes

Inhabitat shares the story of Boyan Slat, a 19 year old who seems hell-bent on cleaning up 7.25M tons of trash from our oceans. He started with a research paper in school, which won several awards. Next Slat developed a floating array of booms and garbage processing plants which he presented at TedxDelft last year, and now he's created a foundation to produce these technologies!

From Inhabitat:

Slat went on to found The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization which is responsible for the development of his proposed technologies. His ingenious solution could potentially save hundreds of thousands of aquatic animals annually, and reduce pollutants (including PCB and DDT) from building up in the food chain. It could also save millions per year, both in clean-up costs, lost tourism and damage to marine vessels.

via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2013/03/26/19-year-old-develops-play-to-c.html

Supreme Court limits police use of drug-sniffing dogs

(Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday limited the ability of police to use a trained dog to sniff around the outside of a home for illegal drugs that might be inside.

via Reuters: U.S. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/26/us-usa-court-dog-sniffs-idUSBRE92P0NE20130326?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

Group sues Ford-Iroquois agency over public records

PARIS, Ill. — The head of a watchdog group investigating the finances of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department has filed a lawsuit, contesting the agency's denial of a Freedom of Information Act request.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Edgar County Circuit Court by John Kraft of Paris, Ill., who co-owns the nonprofit Edgar County Watchdogs' website with Kirk Allen of Kansas, Ill.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2013-03-26/group-sues-ford-iroquois-agency-over-public-records.html


ACLU Files Suit To Stop Police From Searching Cell Phones Without Warrant

A decade ago, searching someone’s cell phone would give you a list of names and numbers, maybe some recent texts. But now, the average smartphone could contain as much personal and sensitive information as a desktop computer, yet many law enforcement agencies argue they don’t need a warrant to search these devices. That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of San Francisco and its chief of police.

According to the suit [PDF], filed in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco County, a longtime Bay Area activist had pitched a tent and was staging a non-violent protest in Jan. 2012, when he was arrested by the SFPD.

He alleges that police officers seized his phone and not only scrolled through the messages on his phone, but read them aloud.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011, in People v. Diaz, that police could search an arrestee’s phone without a warrant and without violating his Fourth Amendment rights. And the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held in 2012 that police did not require a warrant to look through a suspect’s phone because it was not password protected.

However, the lawsuit counters that “The California Constitution provides greater privacy protections than the federal constitution… Cell phones today are essentially compact home offices that can be carried on the person or in a briefcase, and searching them poses special privacy concerns beyond what is typical in the search and seizure context. The California Constitution and the First Amendment… also safeguard the rights of free speech and free association against governmental interference, in particular, against the compelled disclosure of speech and associational information.”

The ACLU believes that such warrantless searches go beyond violating the rights of the person being arrested, but also intrude upon the privacy of that person’s “family, friends, co-workers, and anyone whose information is in their phones.”

Speaking to Consumerist about the difference between this lawsuit and the ones that have previously found in favor of warrantless searches, Linda Lye, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, says this lawsuit goes beyond the Fourth Amendment concerns raised in those cases.

“Our case involves privacy claims under California’s more protective constitution, as well as speech and association claims under the federal and state constitutions,” she tells Consumerist. “The Seventh Circuit and other courts haven’t had a chance to examine these claims yet.”

Adds Lye, “The bottom line is that the police shouldn’t be searching through cell phones without a warrant. Phones contain our emails, text messages, information about our health, finances, and personal beliefs. All of that is sensitive information that the cops shouldn’t be able to get without a warrant. Also, a phone contains information not just about its user, but also everyone the user talks to. The Constitution gives us the right to speak our minds and talk to our friends, and to use our phones to do so. That means that the police can’t force me to hand over a list of everyone I’ve spoken to and what I’ve said to them, simply because I’ve been arrested.”

via Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2013/03/20/aclu-files-suit-to-stop-police-from-searching-cell-phones-without-warrant/

Alleged drug dealer accused of using drug money to get out of jail

URBANA — A suburban Chicago man accused of using drug money to post bond to get out of jail on drug charges last month is back in jail.

Marshall F. Giorango, 19, of Orland Park, was arrested Tuesday at the Champaign County courthouse on a warrant charging him with money laundering.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2013-03-20/alleged-drug-dealer-accused-using-drug-money-get-out-jail.htm


Reuters editor Matthew Keys charged with aiding ‘Anonymous’ hackers

A Reuters editor has been indicted in a California district court for allegedly conspiring with the hacker group Anonymous to access and alter a web site of the Tribune Company, his former employer.

Matthew Keys, 26, the deputy social media editor at the news agency, is accused of supplying Anonymous with log-in credentials for a Tribune Company computer server. Keys was a former employee of Sacramento-based TV station KTXL FOX 40, a Tribune company.

Keys could not be reached for comment. A Reuters spokesman said: “I haven’t heard anything about this.”

According to a federal indictment first obtained by the Huffington Post, Keys used a chat site to pass information to Anonymous. Using the name AESCracked, Keys handed over the login credentials and told hackers to “go fuck some shit up”, the indictment says.

The hacker accessed at least one Los Angeles Times story and altered it, the charges say.

The indictment reproduces long sections of a purported chat between Keys and an Anonymous member called “sharpie”.

“That was such a buzz having my edit on the LA Times,” sharpie writes, according to the document.

If convicted, Keys faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count.

Keys is charged with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, transmitting information to damage a protected computer and attempted transmission of information to damage a protected computer.

Keys has worked at Reuters just over a year. He has a widespread following on Twitter among journalists.

The Obama administration has a track record of prosecuting hacking cases aggressively. The practice has come under sharp criticism since January, when Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide as federal prosecutors built a hacking case against him.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013

via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/14/reuters-editor-matthew-keys-charged-with-aiding-anonymous-hackers/


The Google Reader Shutdown Is Yet Another Nail In Feedburner’s Coffin

How long until Google shuts down Feedburner? The company just announced that it is shutting down Google Reader on July 1. That’s a sad day for all of us who still regularly use it, but its demise was probably inevitable. Reader had been lingering in a stasis for months (maybe even years) now, especially since Google ripped out its social core in favor of focusing on Google+ and barely dedicated any staff to maintaining it. The last RSS-focused product Google closed was AdSense for Feeds, its ad product for site owners who wanted to monetize their RSS feeds. With Reader and AdSense for Feeds gone, the last RSS product standing at Google is Feedburner – and all signs point to that getting the ax sooner or later, too.

Image (1) feedburnerlogo.jpg for post 15

Just like Google Reader, it’s been a very long time since Feedburner got any updates and everything points at a total neglect of the product at Google: Its stats are sporadically unavailable, it never even got the visual refresh that virtually every other Google product got, the Feedburner blog (now called AdSense for Feeds – after the already closed product…) has been updated three times since April 2010. The FeedBurner Status Blog hasn’t been updated since last September.

I always assumed Google would keep Feedburner on life support for as long as it could, but the fact that they are shutting down Reader shows that they are willing to make these unpopular moves and close products that form the basis of a larger ecosystem (I’m sure the teams at Reeder, Feedly and other Google Reader-based services are scrambling right now). I can’t imagine that Feedburner will live through many more of these spring cleanings given that it is Google’s last RSS-focused product that’s still standing.

If you are actively using Feedburner, I think it’s time to start taking full possession of your feeds again (which isn’t easy). RSS may still be the plumbing that makes a lot of applications tick, but don’t look for Google to provide a platform for RSS much longer.

Image credit: Glen Van Etten on Flickr.

via TechCrunch http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/13/the-google-reader-shutdown-is-yet-another-nail-in-feedburners-coffin/

Transitioning from Google Reader to feedly

Transitioning from Google Reader to feedly:

We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end.

Our long national nightmare is over.

via Wait, No. http://perardi.tumblr.com/post/45313491165/transitioning-from-google-reader-to-feedly

The Killing Of Google Reader Highlights The Risk Of Relying On A Single Provider

Every few months, Google has been "shutting down" various offerings they feel are under-used, in an effort to regain some focus. Many of these are uncontroversial, though a few have been surprising and freaked some users out. Many, for example, were surprised and upset when Google announced it was phasing out iGoogle. But today's news that it is shutting down Google Reader took many, many people by surprise. My Twitter feed blew up with people freaking out about it. For those who use it, many really rely on it for their daily information gathering process. I know the feeling, because I used to do that -- though a few years ago I shifted to mostly using Twitter via a well-organized Tweetdeck, and found that to be just as (if not more) effective, though a somewhat different overall experience that took some getting used to.

Still, a very large number of folks I know feel like they practically live inside Google Reader -- and I know (for example) that Google Reader is a huge driver of traffic to this site, so I get the feeling many of you use Google Reader as well. The thing that seems to have so many folks upset is the fact that there really aren't any comparable alternatives if you want that same basic experience. In fact, you could argue that Google effectively killed off many of those alternatives. Back in the day there were things like Newsgator and Bloglines, but both were effectively marginalized or pushed into other markets because Google Reader really did become the de facto standard RSS reader that so many used and relied on.

Anyway, I have a few separate thoughts on all of this and might as well go through them bullet point style:

  • This highlights the problem of relying too much on a single provider when there are few alternatives. As such, I wonder if Google may not realize the wider impact of this move. For example, it has me directly rethinking how much I rely on Google Calendar, Google Drive and Gmail. Now, I don't think any of those are going away any time soon, but not too long ago (um, yesterday, according to some...) you could have said the same exact thing about Reader. I'm now planning to do a more serious personal audit of services I use and how reliant I am on a single provider, and start making sure I have working alternatives in place and ready to go. In the end, this will certainly make me a lot less tied to Google's services, which is probably a good thing, but probably not the sort of thing Google is hoping its users will be doing.

  • As mentioned, personally, I moved away from RSS readers to a purely Twitter/Tweetdeck approach to consuming news. It took a few months of doing both, but when I shut down the RSS reader, I never looked back. It's a different experience, but has some benefits. But, what that suggests is that if people are looking for a culprit for what brought us to this moment, Twitter is the prime suspect. Yes, Twitter and RSS are different in many significant ways. But, in terms of the basic user benefit that people get out of both ("my stream of news & info"), they clearly compete.

  • The lack of serious alternatives represents a serious opportunity for someone enterprising. Believe it or not, before Google Reader even launched we at Techdirt had built our own RSS reader, called the Techdirt InfoAdvisor, that functioned quite a lot like Google Reader, but which had some other really useful features for us internally and for some of our business clients (we would use it to curate accounts for clients, with added commentary from us). Eventually, we shut it down, because (as Google has discovered), it's actually a lot of work to maintain something like that for a variety of reasons, and soaks up tremendous resources. Still, my first reaction was to joke that maybe we should dust off our old code, put it up and see if anyone wanted to use it. We're not likely to do that (unless all of you start throwing money our way), but someone else likely is going to jump into this space quickly. They may not build a huge business out of it, but I'd bet if they weren't looking for VC-style hockey stick returns, that someone could build a decent business out of it.

  • It is always interesting to look at product lifecycles, but most of the time when online products die off, the writing was on the wall long before it happened. This one struck me as a surprise since so many people relied so heavily on it, and it seems really abrupt and likely to upset the basic workflow of so many -- especially in the journalism and academic fields. I can respect the reasons for killing off a "non-essential" product, but it feels like Google seriously underestimated the level to which people had built Google reader into their daily lives.

It wouldn't surprise me, given how loud the backlash is, if Google extends the deadline for shutting down Reader, or if it eventually tries to work out some sort of alternative resolution. We saw the same thing, to a lesser extent, back when AskJeeves tried to shut down Bloglines (the Google Reader of its day before Google Reader existed). And, eventually, Ask sold it off to another company who apparently has kept it running (though, who knows how many users it has today). I think that experience actually pushed a bunch of Bloglines users to jump to Google on the assumption that Google Reader was safe. You would think that someone within Google would remember how that whole thing played out. It's surprising that they don't appear to have learned anything from it.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

via Techdirt. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130313/17262322315/killing-google-reader-highlights-risk-relying-single-provider.shtml

RIP: Google Reader Meets Its Inevitable End


via Hacker News http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/03/r-i-p-google-reader/

Coroner: Watseka woman's death an accident

DANVILLE — A 33-year-old Watseka woman's death has been ruled an accident, Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson announced Tuesday afternoon.

Johnson said an autopsy report showed that Amanda J. Walters-Pentecost died of cold exposure and that there was no evidence of any injuries.

read more

via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2013-03-12/coroner-watseka-womans-death-accident.html


The old way will always be the best way

* Andrew Sullivan highlighted this WaPo WonkBlog post over the weekend, and I thought it was worth sharing. The excerpt is from an interview of Sasha Issenberg, the author of “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.” Most of the pros here will already know this stuff, but it always [...]

via Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar http://capitolfax.com/2013/03/11/the-old-way-will-always-be-the-best-way/

Harlem Shake sparks royalties row

Two artists on the viral hit Harlem Shake say their voices were used without their permission

via BBC News - Home http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21741672#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa


Mostly This Tells Me PCP Is a Terrible Idea

Mostly This Tells Me PCP Is a Terrible Idea

Submitted by: Unknown

via FAIL Blog http://cheezburger.com/7119466496?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+failblog+%28The+FAIL+Blog+-+Fail+Pictures+%26+Videos+at+Failblog.ORG%29

British archaeologists: Stonehenge was an ancient rave spot

British researchers on Saturday unveiled a new theory for the origins of Stonehenge, saying the ancient stone circle was originally a graveyard and venue for mass celebrations.

The findings would overturn the long-held belief that Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in southwestern England was created as a Stone Age astronomical calendar or observatory.

A team led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London said Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is both older and had a different function than previously thought.

“In many ways our findings are rewriting the established story of Stonehenge,” Parker Pearson said.

The archaeologists carried out a decade of research which included excavations, laboratory work and the analysis of 63 sets of ancient human remains.

They said the original Stonehenge appeared to have been a graveyard for elite families built around 3000 BC, 500 years earlier than the site that is famous today.

The remains of many cremated bodies were marked by the bluestones of Stonehenge, Pearson said.

Further analysis of cattle teeth from 80,000 animal bones excavated from the site also suggest that around 2500 BC, Stonehenge was the site of vast communal feasts.

These would have been attended by up to one tenth of the British population at one time in what Parker Pearson said resembled “Glastonbury festival and a motorway building scheme at the same time.”

It seemed that ancient people travelled to celebrate the winter and summer solstices but also to build the monument, he said.

“Stonehenge was a monument that brought ancient Britain together,” he said.

“What we?ve found is that people came with their animals to feast at Stonehenge from all corners of Britain — as far afield as Scotland.”

He said it appeared to be the “only time in prehistory that the people of Britain were unified.”

Unesco describes Stonehenge as the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world.

But archaeologists have long argued about its importance to the people who built it, ranging from a place of astronomy to one of human sacrifice.

The researchers said their findings also gave a clue to why the monument stopped being used — another mystery that has baffled archaeologists.

The earlier timeline they propose suggests that Stonehenge was built before the arrival of the “Beaker people” who brought with them a less centralised political culture.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/09/british-archaeologists-stonehenge-was-an-ancient-rave-spot/


Couple Says Clerical Screw-Up Resulted In $27,331 Fine From Tollway

The couple says they are being charged 12,000% interest for a clerical error.

The couple says they are being charged 12,000% interest for a clerical error.

An Illinois couple say that a confluence of clerical cock-ups not only resulted in one of their vehicles racking up several hundred dollars in skipped highway tolls, but having those missed tolls spiral out into more than $27,000 in fines, penalties and late fees.

The couple tell CBS Chicago’s Dave Savini that the trouble began over a year ago, when one of their debit cards was stolen. They got a new card and called the folks who run the state’s IPASS automated toll-paying system to update the payment information on both of their transponders.

But it looks like someone goofed and failed to update the information on one transponder, meaning that the vehicle was piling up hundreds of dollars in unpaid charges on the Illinois Tollway. Making matters worse, the couple says the notices sent by the state about these tolls were being sent to the wrong address for over a year.

By the time the couple found out, all of the late fees and penalties had caused what should have been $210 in tolls to balloon up to $27,331.

“It’s absurd,” the husband tells Savini, “a loan shark would be embarrassed about what the Tollway is doing to the people of Illinois.”

Their attempts to argue the case or at least be given the option to pay the money in installments were shot down, says the couple. They were given 20 days to come up with the full $27,000.

After CBS got involved, the Tollway folks agreed to knock the amount down to $1,100, which is still more than five times the original amount owed.

via Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2013/03/06/couple-says-clerical-screw-up-resulted-in-27331-fine-from-tollway/


Science of hair testing for drugs questioned in Boston cop case; cocaine blamed on cookies, donuts

Six police officers in Boston who were fired after testing positive for cocaine use will be reinstated, with back pay, now that a state board has struck down the science of hair testing for drugs as 
unreliable. The ruling could have broad impact on drug testing for city workers, and other populations routinely subjected to a form of drug screening in which snips of hair are analyzed for tell-tale traces of illegal substances.

The Boston Herald reports that the firings of four other ex-cops were upheld by the commission. Some gave elaborate and innovative excuses for their positive tests. One told the commission his test was a false positive...

because he brushed white powder off the seat of his cruiser, which he “assumed was confectionery powder from doughnuts.” He also said he lived in a townhouse that shared a heating vent with neighbors who were crack smokers, records state.

Another told commissioners he had a “habit of putting drugs ... from suspects in his pocket where he also kept cookies to eat.”

More: Cops’ firing for drugs reversed [Boston Herald, HT: @Liam_ODonoghue]

via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2013/03/07/cops-fired-for-cocaine-use-exo.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29

States with strict gun laws found to have fewer shooting deaths

BOSTON (Reuters) - States that have more laws restricting gun ownership have lower rates of death from shootings, both suicides and homicides, a study by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University found.

via Reuters: U.S. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/08/us-usa-guns-study-idUSBRE92617D20130308?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

Mentally ill man missing in alleged pattern of ‘patient dumping’ by Nevada health officials

A schizophrenic man has gone missing after an instance of alleged “patient dumping” by Nevada state mental health officials. According to a Wednesday report by Las Vegas’ CBS Channel 8, a patient named James Brown was allegedly sent from Rawson-Neal psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas to Sacramento, California with only a one-way bus ticket, three days’ worth of medication and instructions to call 911 for services when he arrived.

A California homeless advocacy group called Loaves and Fishes said that Brown was sent to their state without a destination in a pattern of systematic patient dumping by the state of Nevada. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Brown arrived in Sacramento on Feb. 12 after a 15-hour bus ride with no connections and nowhere to go.

Loaves and Fishes found Brown shelter for the night. The man told social workers that he had been sent to Sacramento against his will, a city where he had never been and knew no one. Joan Burke, advocacy director for the organization said that Brown has since disappeared, but social workers expect him to return to Las Vegas where the man said, “At least I know where the homeless shelters are in Las Vegas.”

“Putting somebody on a bus who indicates a high level of disability and inability to function is reprehensible,” Burke told the Register-Journal . “This gentleman was adamant that he had no connections here.”

Molly Simones, the social worker who interviewed Brown said that the man was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He was easily disoriented and confused and admitted to hearing voices in his head.

Simones wrote in her report, “These voices told James today that he should either do something to go to jail or should jump off a bridge. James had no desire to come to California.”

In a post-script, she wrote, “James gets lost very easily & had a hard time remembering things.” She noted that he was out of money and confused. Hospital officials put him on the Greyhound with Ensure, snacks and a bus schedule and a vague promise that if he called 911 in Sacramento, he would be taken to an emergency room and admitted to a mental health care facility.

The Channel 8 report said that since July of 2012, some 2 percent of all patients in the care of Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services were discharged to California, most by bus.

The state insists, however, that the vast majority of those patients were California residents bearing state-issued California identification and that Nevada was sending them home to relatives with confirmed connections meeting them at the other end of the trip.

James Brown, however, met none of these criteria, according to medical records. State health officer Dr. Tracey Green said the matter is under investigation.

“We currently have three open investigations, and clearly if there is a policy violation, there will be disciplinary action or policy changes, whatever are the needed actions,” said Green.

The Nevada Division of Mental Health Services has launched an internal investigation and the agency is being reviewed from without by Division of Healthcare Quality and Compliance, and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Lawmakers are set to convene a preliminary hearing to review the matter next week.

Watch video about this story, embedded via CBS Channel 8, below:

8 News NOW

via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/07/mentally-ill-man-missing-in-alleged-pattern-of-patient-dumping-by-nevada-health-officials/


Comet making closest approach ever to Earth

MARCIA DUNN,AP Aerospace Writer

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/technology/2013-03-05/comet-making-closest-approach-ever-earth.html

Ex-DEA heads: Feds should nullify state pot laws

MICHAEL TARM,Associated Press

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/politics-and-government/2013-03-05/ex-dea-heads-feds-should-nullify-state-pot-laws.html

C-U goes 750 days without subzero reading

CHAMPAIGN — For the third consecutive month and the 11th of the last 14, February temperatures in Champaign-Urbana were above average — but just barely.

The mean temperature last month was 29.8 degrees, while the average February mean is 29 degrees.

read more

via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/weather/2013-03-05/c-u-goes-750-days-without-subzero-reading.html

Touré rips Scalia’s remarks on Voting Rights Act: ‘Completely racist’

Friday night on MSNBC’s “Martin Bashir” show, host Martin Bashir welcomed Touré, co-host of “The Cycle,” who discussed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks characterizing 1965′s Voting Rights Act as “racial entitlement.” Touré called the sitting justice’s statements “completely racist” and wondered that in the face of so much evidence of vote suppression from the 2012 election that anyone could believe that the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed in this country.

The segment began with video of Scalia doing a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace in which Scalia said, “It’s fun to push buttons,” meaning that he enjoys saying inflammatory things just to get a reaction from liberals, the people he views as his ideological opponents. Rachel Maddow said as much in her interview with Jon Stewart on Thursday’s edition of “The Daily Show.”

“Oh, actually, he’s a troll,’” she said. “He’s saying this for effect. He knows it’s offensive and he knows it’s going to get a gasp from the courtroom, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread using the n-word.”

It was on Wednesday that Scalia said of the repeated renewals of the VRA since its inception during the Civil Rights era, “a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

“There, isn’t that hilarious?” said Bashir. What could be funnier than injecting “race-baiting and overt bias” into arguments before the Supreme Court, he asked.

He welcomed Touré to the program, who echoed the remarks of Justice Sonia Sotomayor when he asked, ““Is fairness a racial entitlement? Is protecting people’s right to vote a racial entitlement?”

“We have these shenanigans happening all the time,” he said, referring to attempts by Republican officials in Ohio, Florida and other states to soften and outright block African-American voter turnout.

“And protecting them is an entitlement?” Touré demanded. “So, you’re giving us the right to vote, as if we were the takers in this game of makers and takers? That whole language is completely racist. And, this idea that, ‘White people work hard and then they give their money to lazy black people.’”

Watch the video, embedded below via MSNBC:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/02/toure-rips-scalias-remarks-on-voting-rights-act-completely-racist/

Court Says Begging Is Protected Speech, Allows Challenge To Anti-Panhandling Law

The city of Charlottesville, VA, (home to the awesomest University on the planet) currently has a law on the books that forbids panhandling in and around the city’s Downtown Mall area. A group of homeless men tried to fight the ban in court, but a District Court judge dismissed the case. However, a federal appeals panel has said the lower court was too hasty in tossing the case out. [via CourthouseNews.com]

via The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2013/03/04/court-says-begging-is-protected-speech-allows-challenge-to-anti-panhandling-law/