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Brave New Morning

✪ ‘Synthetic’ marijuana is problem for US military

U.S. troops are increasingly using an easy-to-get herbal mix called “Spice,” which mimics a marijuana high, is hard to detect and can bring on hallucinations that last for days. The abuse of the substance has so alarmed military officials that they’ve launched an aggressive testing program that this year has led to the investigation of more than 1,100 suspected users. So-called “synthetic” pot is readily available on the Internet and has become popular nationwide in recent years, but its use among troops and sailors has raised concerns among the Pentagon brass.
✪ In futile car search for drugs, Pompton Lakes police inflict $12K worth of damage
The instrument cluster and leather dashboard were gone. The caramel-colored seats were torn up. The gear shift was ripped out and stray wires hung limp everywhere. Geico, Richardson’s insurance company estimated the damage at $12,636.42 — more than he paid for the car — and declared the vehicle a “total loss.” According to police reports, the damage to the black BMW 325i came in the aftermath of a traffic stop during which officers detected a “strong odor of raw marijuana” inside the vehicle. Searching for a cache of drugs, members of three different police agencies and a detective from a federal drug task force spent two days tearing the car apart, the reports said. So what did police find after their $12,000 search? Absolutely nothing.
✪ Pranksters Turn Rotating Billboard Into a Merry-Go-Round
First, there was a billboard swingset in Hong Kong. Now, there’s a billboard merry-go-round in Prague. Well, it’s really more of a billboard whirlygig, but the point is that another piece of advertising structure has been reclaimed by artists for some frivolous playtime. And unlike the Hong Kong piece, which was sanctioned for an event, this one seems to be a prank—the team of artists responsible mounted a rotating billboard (commonplace over there, apparently) via its maintenance ladder and turned it into a carnival ride with balloons and wooden swings. I almost asked myself why this sort of thing never happens in America, but then I remembered that we can’t do any kind of stunts or people freak out.
✪ imPOSTers
The project “imPOSTer” was created by by Chicago designer TEWZ to honor and remember the most deceitful imposters throughout history by creating fake stamps, and then sending them through the United States postal system. The portraits of DAVID HAMPTON, FERDINAND DEMARA, FRANK ABAGNALE, JOHN HOWARD GRIFFIN, TONY CLIFTON, WILHELM VOIGHT, were all good enough to fool the United States Postal System.
✪ Jewish groups get most money from federal security grants
In an event announcing $1.7 billion in Department of Homeland Security grants, Napolitano noted that 63 percent of nonprofit grant recipients were “affiliated with Jewish organizations.” The following year, according to the Jewish Federations of North America, that number grew. In 2010, 94 percent of the department’s nonprofit security funding went to Jewish groups that are, in the words of the Department of Homeland Security, “at high risk of terrorist attack.” That included $222,000 for Jewish nonprofits in Missouri. Last month, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program awarded three St. Louis Jewish organizations $195,000 in grants to guard against such an attack, according to the Missouri Department of Public Safety. They were the only nonprofits in St. Louis to receive funding from the program, which awarded more than 80 percent of its $20 million budget in 2011 to Jewish nonprofits around the country.
✪ Mayan group’s logo too much like Toucan Sam, Kellogg’s squawks
Kellogg’s feathers are ruffled over a case of too many toucans. The cereal giant has asked a Bay Area Mayan nonprofit organization to remove an image of the tropical bird in its logo, claiming that it could be confused with Kellogg’s trademarked Froot Loops mascot, Toucan Sam. The San Ramon-based Maya Archaeology Initiative said its toucan looks nothing like Kellogg’s cartoon and that the two birds aren’t in competition. Dozens of toucan species exist. The Toucan Sam variety — known to kids as the bird on TV that “follows his nose … it always knows” — has been around since 1963, according to its Kellogg’s bio.  Kellogg’s, based in Battle Creek, Mich., did not immediately provide comment. The group added its own accusation: Kellogg’s Froot Loops advertising strategy sends racist messages to its young target audience with the presence of a dark-skinned villain named the Greedy Witch Doctor who steals from children, it said.
✪ Raiders of the Lost Archives [Video]
Shot-by-shot comparison of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” vs. scenes from 30 different adventure films made between 1919-1973.
✪ The Curious Taxidermy of Walter Potter
While the preservation of hunting trophies may be the best-known use of the taxidermist’s art, fans of Walter Potter’s anthropomorphic tableaux can attest to the fact that it has its other, more silly uses. Potter (1835-1918) was a self-taught taxidermist who grew up in the rural community of Bramber, Sussex, at a time when stuffing dead animals was considered to be a suitable hobby for young boys. For technical assistance, he would have had any number of popular manuals at his disposal. For inspiration, he had his younger sister’s illustrated nursery rhyme books and the Great Exhibition of 1851, where anthropomorphic taxidermy was first displayed to the British public.
✪ Weird Bible Verses – 1 Samuel 18:27 – an unusual wedding gift
“David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage”
✪ Brooklyn Heights Townhouse is Actually a Decoy
Which of these Brooklyn Heights brownstones is not like the other? Here’s a hint: It’s the one with the word FAKE and a big red arrow pointed at it. Yesterday the Brooklyn Eagle ventured inside an unnamed three-story brownstone on a cobblestone block that is not a single-family townhouse, but rather a secret subway exit: Located in the tunnel just east of the river, the exit disguised as a brownstone leads to a grimy-lit set of metal stairs that ascend past utility boxes and ventilation shafts into a windowless room with a door. If you opened the door, you would find yourself on a stoop, which is just part of the façade.
✪ Ocean acidification: Some organisms already experiencing ocean acidification levels not predicted to be reached until 2100
These pH time series create a compelling argument for the collection of more continuous data of this kind.” Ocean acidification research is a relatively new study topic as scientists have only appreciated the potential extent of acidification within the last decade. As greenhouse gas emissions have accelerated in the past century, the oceans have taken up about a third of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities. That excess beyond natural levels increases amounts of carbonic acid in seawater. Acidification also limits the amount of carbonate forms that are needed by marine invertebrates such as coral and shelled organisms to form their skeletons. Though many lab simulations of this effect have been performed recently, including at a new acidification laboratory in development at Scripps, there have been few comparable field studies.
✪ Did Nixon have a gay affair with a Mafia fixer? Forget Watergate. A new book claims America’s most corrupt President hid a far more personal scandal…
A new biography by Don Fulsom, a veteran Washington reporter who covered the Nixon years, suggests the 37th U.S. President had a serious drink problem, beat his wife and — by the time he was inaugurated in 1969 — had links going back two decades to the Mafia, including with New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello, then America’s most powerful mobster. Yet the most extraordinary claim is that the homophobic Nixon may have been gay himself. If true, it would provide a fascinating insight into the motivation and behaviour of a notoriously secretive politician. Fulsom argues that Nixon may have had an affair with his best friend and confidant, a Mafia‑connected Florida wheeler-dealer named Charles ‘Bebe’ Rebozo who was even more crooked than Nixon.
✪ F.D.A. Finds Short Supply of Attention Deficit Drugs
Since the drugs have been shown to improve concentration, and not just in people with A.D.H.D., they have become popular among students who are seeking a study aid. And since they can impart a euphoria that users have likened to a cocaine high, the pills are sometimes ground up by people who snort them for a thrill. On the other hand, there are people like Sheryl Greenfield of Bryn Mawr, Pa., an A.D.H.D. patient who spent days calling dozens of pharmacies to find a generic substitute for Adderall XR. She finally gave up and bought the brand, and her co-pay went to $200 from $10. “I can afford the difference, but I know some people who can’t,” she said. Shortages of amphetamine-based drugs like Adderall became so endemic that many doctors switched patients to methylphenidate-based drugs like Ritalin, creating shortages among those medicines as well, according to the F.D.A.
✪ Lexington man charged with making a fake $1 million bill and trying to spend it
A Lexington man is accused trying to use a fake $1 million bill to pay for his purchases at a Walmart. Michael Anthony Fuller, 53, of 3 Parker St., walked into the Walmart on Lowes Boulevard in Lexington on Nov. 17. He shopped for a while, picking up a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other merchandise, totaling $476, an arrest warrant says. When he got to the register, Fuller gave the cashier the phony bill, saying that it was real. Store staff called police. Fuller was later charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument, both felonies, court records show. A warrant says of the fake million-dollar bill: “There is no such thing.” The largest bill in circulation is a $100 bill. In 1969, federal officials discontinued the use of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills because of lack of public use.
✪ Hackers plan space satellites to combat censorship
Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication satellites into orbit. The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin. The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites. Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.
✪ Three nights, 38 fires: arson attacks sweep Hollywood
Officials say it is already the worst string of arson attacks seen by Los Angeles since the riots that rocked the city in 1992. Damage to vehicles and property is put so far about $1m (£644,000). In West Hollywood alone, fire officials said the fires had destroyed about $350,000 worth of property. One of the New Year’s Eve fires broke out in a heavily used parking garage at the Highland Centre in Hollywood, a huge and glitzy complex of shops, restaurants and cinema screens that is also home to the Kodak Theatre, which hosts the annual Oscar ceremonies. While police have indicated they are looking for a man driving a 1990s Lexus saloon in connection with the fires, the sheer number of incidents suggests that they may be dealing with several arsonists or even some copy-cat ones. On Friday night some of the fires appeared to have been started within minutes of each other, prompting initial speculation that the attacks could be the handiwork of an individual in a car or a on a motorcycle



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Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on January 2, 2012

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