March 13, 2016

… And Would Like A Little Privacy


This Day In History: March 13, 1942

Dogs had been trained for military purposes by both sides during World War I. Once the war was over, the practice was temporarily abandoned. On March 13, 1942, the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army once again began training dogs for the now official War Dog Program called the K-9 Corps.

Over a million dogs took part in the war effort during WWI. One of the most celebrated of them was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned German Shepherd puppy found in France and brought to the U.S. He achieved fame and fortune as a silent movie star, and popularized the then little known German Shepherd breed throughout the United States.

Once the war was over, the canines of America went back to fetching slippers and chasing cats – until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. …

Daylight Saving Time is hot garbage

End the madness!

When Benjamin Franklin proposed Daylight Saving Time — he invented it — it was a joke. These days, it’s more like a practical joke we play on ourselves every single year. It’s time to end this dumb prank once and for all.

Originally, Franklin joked that he had been awakened after a long night (probably, knowing Franklin, of partying) and was surprised to see light.

I looked at my watch, which goes very well, and found that it was but six o’clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanac, where I found it to be the hour given for his rising on that day. I looked forward, too, and found he was to rise still earlier every day till towards the end of June; and that at no time in the year he retarded his rising so long as till eight o’clock.

Amazon Echo, home alone with NPR on, got confused and hijacked a thermostat

Next time you listen to NPR, you might want to turn off your Amazon Echo.

Earlier this month, NPR’s Weekend Edition ran a story on its Listen Up segment about Amazon Echo and how the voice-activated assistant was helping customers extend the power of the internet into their homes.

But, ironically, the radio program triggered Amazon Echos in the homes of a few listeners.
The show’s host, Rachel Martin, explained in an update on the story:

Listener Roy Hagar wrote in to say our story prompted his Alexa to reset his thermostat to 70 degrees. It was difficult for Jeff Finan to hear the story because his radio was right next to his Echo speaker, and when Alexa heard her name, she started playing an NPR News summary. Marc-Paul Lee said his unit started going crazy too and wrote in to tell us this – let’s just say we both enjoyed the story. So Alexa, listen up – we want you to pledge to your local member station. You hear me? Lots and lots of money. Did you get that, Alexa?

How sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are creating the next big tech companies

“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” – Abraham Lincoln

Fifty years ago, when someone heard the word ‘vice,’ they may have thought about the seven deadly sins: envy, wrath, lust, pride, sloth, pride and gluttony.

Twenty years ago, they may have thought of the genre-defining television show Miami Vice. Today, you might think about the $4 billion millennial media outlet, Vice Media.

But what you should be thinking about is how vice-related companies are quickly evolving to be the next unicorns, i.e. the next Airbnb or SnapChat (combined value: $41.5 billion). …

10 Horrifying Medical Cases That Make You Glad You Didn’t Live In The Past

The past was far more disgusting than most of us realize. We’ve told you before about Pompeii’s trash can streets, medieval London’s otherworldly stink, and the appalling hygiene of the 18th century. But even these horrors have nothing on the various parasites and diseases of the past.

10. Exploding Teeth

Remember the last time that you had a bad toothache? Awful, wasn’t it? Now imagine that pain roughly 100 times worse. It’s so bad, in fact, that you lose touch with reality and start acting like a rabid dog. And your dentist has no way to help you.

That was the sort of toothache that a small number of patients encountered in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Luckily, the infected teeth had a simple method for curing themselves. They exploded. …

Barack Obama’s Revolution in Foreign Policy

When you think you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s tempting to make up your own grand strategy.

It is a criticism I have heard from more than one person who has worked with President Obama: that he regards himself as the smartest person in the room—any room. Jeffrey Goldberg’s fascinating article reveals that this is a considerable understatement. The president seems to think he is the smartest person in the world, perhaps ever.

Power corrupts in subtle ways. It appears to have made Obama arrogant. As described in Goldberg’s story, he is impatient to the point of rudeness with members of his own administration. His response to Secretary of State John Kerry when he hands him a paper on Syria is: “Oh, another proposal?” “Samantha, enough,” he snaps at the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “I’ve already read your book.” We learn, too, that he “secretly disdains … the Washington foreign-policy establishment.”

The president is also bluntly critical of traditional American allies. He is said to have told Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain “would no longer be able to claim a ‘special relationship’ with the United States” if it did not “pay [its] fair share” by increasing defense spending. The Pakistanis and the Saudis get especially short shrift here, as—predictably—does Israel. …

‘This Can’t Go On In Chicago,’ Says Anti-Trump Protester

Donald Trump’s planned rally in Chicago Friday was canceled, but not before ugly scenes played out between Trump supporters and people who had come to protest the event.

Jedidiah Brown was there. He was the young man who was shown on television yelling as he was pulled from the event stage. He’s part of an organization called Young Leaders Alliance.

“Having gotten into the middle of the rally, I completely felt hated, I completely felt unsafe, I felt completely uncomfortable,” Brown tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “And I knew that if this is what I felt, when I saw what they were doing to other people, I couldn’t imagine what others felt. So it became my mission to shut this down because this can’t go on in Chicago.” …

Trump Wants to Make Government Huge Again

The Republican front-runner is tapping the resentments of white working-class voters—and promising to use federal power to address them.

In April of 1986, Ronald Reagan spoke to the press before heading to the Illinois state fair to reassure struggling farmers. He blamed their economic problems, in part, on “government-imposed embargoes,” and touted new rules on grain exports. His message that day was simple: Instead of regulating trade, if government simply lowered barriers and got out of the way, prosperity would follow. He drove that point home with one of the best-remembered lines of his presidency: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

Thirty years later, Michigan Republicans delivered their verdict on that idea. Donald Trump is running on a platform that calls for a more active role for government in nearly every sector of American life. And they’re for it.

“The Trump voter wants action,” one supporter recently wrote to The New York Times. And that’s precisely what their man promises. Trump does things. Big things. Impressive things. And now, he wants to do them for America. …

President Obama’s brutal assessment of the rise of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s ascendance is nothing if not surprising.

Pundits thought he would flame out early; he has done things that could have ended other campaigns; and his statements are erratic and even sometimes contradictory. Yet, he remains the leading Republican presidential contender.

Many have tried to explain Trump’s rise in the nine months since he entered the race, and now President Obama can be counted among them: He offered up his analysis of Trump and the broader fight for the Republican presidential nomination during a speech Friday afternoon at a Democratic National Committee event at Texas’s Austin Music Hall.

How Trump Happened

It’s not just anger over jobs and immigration. White voters hope Trump will restore the racial hierarchy upended by Barack Obama.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” goes the line attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Typically, you’ll find this pearl adorning a classroom or splashed across a motivational poster. But last month, on the eve of Super Tuesday—when a dozen states cast ballots for the Republican presidential nomination—you could find it on Donald Trump’s Instagram page, the caption to a photograph of a massive rally in Alabama the day before.

Perverse as it may seem for the belligerent real estate magnate to channel even apocryphal Gandhi wisdom, the line is apt. First, we did ignore him—as a buffoon who wouldn’t survive past the summer. Then, we laughed at him—as a buffoon who wouldn’t survive through fall. Eventually, Republicans began to fight him, terrified of his traction with voters. Now, he’s winning, with more votes and delegates than anyone left in the field. On the eve of another critical Tuesday slate of votes, Trump is on the verge of an even greater victory. Polls show him in command both in the smaller states that will award their delegates proportionally, and in the larger, winner-take-all prizes of Ohio and Florida. By Wednesday morning, Trump could be a stone’s throw from the Republican presidential nomination. …

10 Mind-Blowing Secret Operations From World War II

During World War II, tons of secret operations were conducted by both sides. While many were daring, some of them stand out as incredible, with mind-blowing operations that seem straight out of a historical thriller novel.

10. The Olterra

The plan sounds like something from a spy movie—to use a secret underwater base as a jumping-off point for launching and recovering midget submarines that would destroy British shipping. That’s exactly what the Italians planned and eventually executed. An Italian cargo ship, the Olterra, was stuck in Spain after World War II broke out and just happened to be anchored across the harbor from the British fortress at Gibraltar. Italy managed to secretly smuggle several tiny midget submarines through Spain and onto the Olterra as well as equipment to maintain the submarines. A hole was cut in the ship below the waterline to allow midget submarines and combat divers to secretly exit. …

It’s Not About Trump. Our Political Culture Is Corrupt.

The Southern strategy created an us-against-them politics with a perverse idea of morality.

Trumpism was created in the crucible of the “Southern strategy.” We have sown to the wind, reaping the whirlwind.

We can’t isolate Donald Trump and his supporters, because that is a simplification. When you unpack the policies of all of his competitors, most of their disagreement is in tone, not substance. It is not as though they are moderate and he is extreme. Trump is not the problem; it’s all of the xenophobia and racist innuendo and othering of immigrants that is the problem. It is all of the coded language about people who want free stuff, from the Southern-strategy lexicon of Wallace, Nixon, Reagan, and Atwater that has been spewed for years. That is the problem. Add to it the more recent rhetoric that says President Obama is unfit. Long before Trump, all of this rhetoric created a kind of us-against-them mob mentality, which after it is loosed can manifest in the violence that we now see.

These were tactics used to end the first Reconstruction in America, too, when many white elites began to fear a black-white coalition. …

‘SNL’ Finds Unexpected Use for Trump Steak in Ben Carson Endorsement Sketch.

If even the president of the United States is making fun of it, you know it didn’t escape the eyes of “Saturday Night Live” writers.

This week’s “SNL” episode lampooned Ben Carson’s endorsement of Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump and managed to work a Trump Steak into the skit.

The skit began with CNN’s Jake Tappper (Beck Bennett) interviewing Trump (Darrell Hammond) at a rally in Florida, where he is joined by his newest supporter, Dr. Ben Carson (Jay Pharoah).

“My guest today is so tremendous. Dr,” Trump began. “Ben Carson is a very special man. And for once, I don’t mean that as an insult to the mentally challenged.” …

Rubio: ‘There is no doubt’ Obama helped stoke recent political chaos

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Saturday that “There’s no doubt” President Obama has helped stoke the caustic rhetoric and violence displayed at recent political rallies held by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Earlier Saturday, Rubio lashed out at his rival Trump for failing to condemn violent protests at his recent public events and lamented that the increasingly nasty nature of American politics “is now bleeding over into the broader culture.” But he also faulted Obama, saying the president had contributed to the coarsening political debate.

Hillary Questioned Bernie’s Record on Health Care and The Internet Made an Epic Correction

He was standing right behind her.

It all started with a tweet from New York Times reporter Amy Chozick, quoting Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Saturday. A “fired up” Clinton implied that democratic opponent Bernie Sanders was absent when she was pushing for health care reform in the 1990s as first lady.

As Clinton has discovered recently, the Internet age means instant fact checking. Whether she is talking about Bernie’s record or Nancy Reagan’s efforts (or lack thereof) to help those with HIV, the Internet fact checkers have their fingers poised over the keyboard ready to correct any claim.

And this time, Bernie Sanders’ rapid response director Mike Casca struck gold. …


Today in History: March 13, 1865

By early 1865, the Confederacy had its back against the wall. General Sherman and the Union army were taking large swathes of the south, marching through the Carolinas with relative ease. General Lee was desperately trying to protect the Confederacy’s capital of Richmond from the onslaught of General Ulysses S. Grant’s approaching forces. And he had to do it with extremely limited resources – and manpower.

After much heated debate, it was clear to President Davis and his generals that the only source of desperately needed troops was the slave population. On March 13, 1865, a bill was passed by the Confederate Congress calling for a quota of slave-soldiers from each state. …

Earthquake threat to California may be greater than thought, warn scientists

Latest research suggests that the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults might have ruptured together in the past, and may again trigger more powerful destruction

Measuring the level of threat posed by severe earthquakes that could bring havoc to southern California should be reviewed, according to scientists who believe the risk could be greater than previously thought.

The warning follows latest research from a US geologist who found that two large faults in the region – the San Andreas and the neighbouring San Jacinto fault to its south – might have ruptured together in the past, producing an earthquake that caused damage as far north as San Buenaventura and was felt as south as San Diego.

“Looking at old earthquakes in general is really a good way to figure out what faults are capable of doing,” said Julian Lozos, assistant professor of geophysics, California State University, Northridge, who conducted the research. …

The End of the U.S.-Dominated Order in the Middle East

Obama has prioritized global goals over regional ones.

Jeffrey Goldberg’s fascinating article taps into President Obama’s thinking about foreign policy and reveals its wellsprings. In that sense, he does more to help the president define and explain “the Obama Doctrine” than previous efforts by the White House itself, captured in those memorable lines “don’t do stupid shit” and “leading from behind,” which do not do justice to a doctrine that is both complicated and far-reaching in its implications for American foreign policy.

By his own reckoning, Obama’s most radical departure from the “Washington playbook” came on August 30, 2013, when he decided not to enforce his self-declared red line against the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria. For Obama that was a defining moment and, as he told Goldberg, even a proud one. Most of his closest foreign-policy advisers—including his national-security adviser, secretary of state, and vice president—had warned him that he was putting the credibility of the United States on the line.

But the president was caught between two conflicting imperatives. …

6 Realities Of Life When Your Fetish Is EXTREMELY Weird

The Internet is full of bizarre fetishes. Lee is a devotee of “vore” — he’s specifically turned on by people being swallowed alive. You might have stumbled across it or something like it on certain parts of Tumblr. Meanwhile, John is into the somewhat-less-publicized fetish of setting himself and/or others on fire. We know what you’re thinking: How on Earth does that even happen? Did he fall dick-first into a campfire one day and think, “Okay, I guess I’m into that now”? Well …

#6. No One Really Knows Where Fetishes Come From

Our good friends over at Science have yet to settle on a comprehensive explanation for why some people like boobs and peens, and others get all tingly about, say, troll dolls. Their best guess is that some kind of association occurs in childhood between sex and a random object or activity, like Pavlov’s dogs gone wild. But scientists readily admit that this theory is far from confirmed and doesn’t explain everybody, because there aren’t enough of them studying this kind of thing (it must be hard to get funding for “Why do people fuck boots?” for some mysterious reason). …

Gay Men Feel Hillary Clinton’s Pain—but Does She Feel Ours?

Clinton’s apology, which doesn’t acknowledge the righteous pain caused by her remarks, reveals a social distance that gay men might want to take a closer look at.

Many gay men of a certain age—let’s say in their late 30s and up—love Hillary Clinton. I have no evidence to prove this, but just trust me that it is true. I don’t mean that they think Hillary would make a good president, or prefer her to Bernie Sanders, or think she has the best chance of beating Donald Trump in November. I mean they love her—excessively, exuberantly, irrationally—in the way that they might love Barbra Streisand, Cher, or Donna Summer. Given that she gives speeches in pastel pantsuits and not concerts in spangled Bob Mackie gowns, this is a somewhat improbable attachment.

I think the root of this adoration lies in her earned status as a survivor. In a remarkably long and tumultuous public life, Hillary Clinton has been denigrated, lied about, mansplained to, and grossly caricatured. She was publicly betrayed by her husband in a humiliating fashion, and her greatest ambition was thwarted in a protracted and ugly primary battle. Throughout it all, she has endured—and come November, she could quite possibly triumph. She grew strong, and she learned how to get along. For better or worse, I think gay men of my generation and older see in Hillary a kindred spirit—one tough woman who has taken more than her fair share of knocks and come out fiercer for it. We see her pain, and her resilience, and we identify with it. The question after today is—does she see ours?

In an interview with MSNBC at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, Clinton praised both Ronald Reagan and his wife for their work on AIDS. “It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s,” Clinton said, but “because of both president and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that, too, is something that I really appreciate.”

This is a bizarre and historically inaccurate statement, to say the least. …

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Hillary, I call bullshit. Nearly an entire generation of gay men DIED because the Reagan administration did absolutely NOTHING to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Georgia lawmakers poised to pour $2m into ‘fake abortion clinics’

Bill, which specifies abortion care should not be mentioned when discussing healthcare options for pregnant women, is now awaiting governor’s approval

Georgia lawmakers have approved state funding of up to $2m for unlicensed crisis pregnancy centers, dubbed “fake abortion clinics” by some advocates.

The bill, which specifies that abortion care should not be mentioned when discussing healthcare options for pregnant women, will now go before Governor Nathan Deal for his signature.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are non-medical facilities that seek to counsel women out of having abortions. Many of these clinics have confusing names and advertising that suggest they provide abortion services, and others provide misleading medical information to discourage women from having abortions.

Often, counselors will tell women that condoms are ineffective, that they will be unable to get pregnant again if they have an abortion, and that abortion and birth control cause cancer. There are more than 4,000 CPCs in the US and at least 12 states fund CPCs directly. …

In the name of free speech, Adblock serves up ads, just for a day

Will today’s ad-blockers be tomorrow’s advertisers? “It does blur the line.”

Users of the Adblock browser extension may see something today they’re not used to when they surf the web: ads.

The ad-blocking giant, which claims to have 50 million users, will still remove advertisements from the web. But instead of showing the “peaceful, blank spaces you’re accustomed to not noticing,” Adblock will replace publishers’ ads with banners supporting Amnesty International.

The Amnesty ads, which mark March 12 as the “World Day against Cyber Censorship,” are a cause that Adblock believes is worthy enough to, well, advertise. The company says the messages, from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, and Russian punk band Pussy Riot, are a one-day exception to its business as usual. …

10 Fascinating Mystical Relics From Bygone Cultures

Finicky gods and malevolent ghouls plagued the ancient world. But humanity struck back. Equipped with nothing more than hand-hewn trinkets and the wild imaginings of a prescientific age, we fought magic with magic.

10. Coptic Spell Book

In spite of their naturalistic savvy, ancient Egyptians didn’t hesitate to fall back on magic to solve life’s niggling inconveniences. Many of their hexes are lost to history, although we’ve recovered others in excellent condition, including the 1,300-year-old A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power.

Fortunately, the 20-page parchment booklet was written in Coptic—the most recent of Egypt’s lexicological branches—and therefore readily deciphered by researchers at Australia’s Macquarie University. The codex contains 27 spells of varying utility—from good, old-fashioned love incantations to an enchantment for dispelling the potentially deadly black jaundice. …

A millennial and a baby boomer trade places: ‘I can’t help but feel a stab of envy’

One owns her home; the other rents. One is never offline; the other finds technology a drag. What did Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Michele Hanson learn when they swapped lives?

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

“I’m glad your house isn’t tidy,” Michele says, not aware that I’ve spent the previous hour frantically cleaning up. She has come to collect me so we can walk her dogs – Violet, Michele’s longstanding companion, and her daughter’s dog, Ernest, who seems to have some kind of hyperactivity disorder. I try to look calm as Ernest chews my boyfriend’s New Balances, and for a moment feel privately thankful that I am not subject to the commitments that come with a pet.

When I agreed to swap lives with Michele, neither of us realised she lived just around the corner. Just how different can the lives of two north London-dwelling, Corbyn-loving freelance writers actually be? Then again, our similarities provide a good control when it comes to highlighting generational differences (I am 28, Michele is 73). Not only does Michele have a pet, she also has a car, both expenses that are completely unfeasible for me. And she owns her own home, an impossibility for me in a gentrifying area that has rapidly become host to property millionaire baby boomers, as young people and social tenants are priced out. …


Two years ago, the flamboyant fitness guru abruptly disappeared from public life. Now, his closest friends, banished from his inner circle, have grown increasingly concerned. They worry that the pop-culture icon is being held against his will inside his Hollywood Hills mansion — with one suggesting more sinister notions are at play.

Richard Simmons opened his front door, frail and trembling. Mauro Oliveira, a visual artist who was also Simmons’ masseur and former assistant, greeted him on the front porch, concerned about his friend. After receiving an ominous phone call from Simmons, Oliveira had driven his truck to the Hollywood Hills, past the two metal gates that Simmons had left ajar for him, and into the driveway. He reached the porch through the white columns that recalled an antebellum Southern mansion, and past Simmons’ bronze statue of a regal Dalmatian.

Wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants, a gaunt Simmons led Oliveira through the foyer, and into the living room. “Mauro, we can no longer see each other,” Simmons told him in a quiet, defeated voice.

It was April 2014. Oliveira, a 49-year-old from Brazil with the burly arms and trim physique of a gym rat and close-cropped black hair, had met Simmons 13 months earlier, and the two became fast friends. But he was catching a weird vibe lately, and hadn’t seen him in a while, before the then 65-year-old Simmons summoned him to the mansion, saying only that they needed to talk.

“What’s going on, Richard?” Oliveira asked. “Why are you saying that?”

“I don’t know,” Simmons replied. “I just want to be by myself, and I want to be in the house, and we’re never going to see each other again.” …

Canine Or Cuisine? This Photo Meme Is Fetching

We here at The Salt like to bring you serious journalistic tails from the world of food. But hey, we like to unleash our silly side, too — and like the rest of the world, we’ve got a soft spot for man’s (and woman’s) best friend.

So of course, we’re howling with delight at the latest food images charming the Internet: Meme-meister Karen Zack’s clever Twitter photos highlighting the eerie resemblance between mutts and meals. In some cases, it takes dogged determination to separate the canines from the cuisine.

Puppy or bagel? Chihuahua or muffin? These are the gnawing questions raised by Zack, who tweets from @teenybiscuit. She’s a freelance assistant director in media production who splits her time between Portland, Ore., and Seattle. But she tells us she’s looking to get into advertising strategy (we hear she’s good with the puparazzi). …


This Day In History: March 13, 1962

On this day in history, 1962, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lyman Lemnitzer, submitted a proposal to the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, developed by the Joint Chiefs and the Department of Defense, outlining plans to commit various acts of terrorism on U.S. soil and then to frame the Cubans for it. The end goal of “Operation Northwoods”, which this proposal was a key component of, was to create justification for going to war with Cuba.

Specifically, this proposal, not surprisingly titled Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba, stated their reasoning behind this and other drastic suggestions outlined in the document was as follows:

The suggested courses of action appended to Enclosure A are based on the premise that US military intervention will result from a period of heightened US-Cuban tensions which place the United States in the position of suffering justifiable grievances. World opinion and the United Nations forum should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere.

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