March 21, 2016


Today in History: March 21, 1965

On March 25, 1965, civil rights demonstrators marched into Montgomery, Alabama led by Dr. Martin Luther King singing:

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on.
I’ve never been to heaven, but I think I’m right,
You won’t find George Wallace anywhere in sight…

It took the non-violent protestors five days to make the 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery. When they began their journey on Sunday, March 21, there were 3,200 marchers taking the trip. When the group arrived at their destination, they were 25,000 strong, moving Dr. King to comment when he addressed the assembled crowd:

There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes.

John Oliver Demolishes Trump’s Mexico Wall: ‘An Impossible, Impractical Symbol of Fear’

On Sunday night’s ‘Last Week Tonight,’ the British satirist completely destroyed the GOP frontrunner’s plan to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

THANKS to HBO and Last Week Tonight for making this program available on YouTube.

Ever since Donald Trump’s presidential announcement speech in June, when he proclaimed, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” the GOP presidential frontrunner has made building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico a staple of his campaign.

Despite the criticism the plan—and his xenophobic accompanying statements—has drawn, including the blustering real estate heir turned reality star getting dropped by NBC, Univision, and chided by Pope Francis, and the fact that walls historically, from Berlin to Israel to the Great Wall of China, haven’t been very effective, Trump has stood by his wall.

Well, on Sunday’s edition of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver demolished Trump’s silly wall plan. …

What Republicans did 15 years ago to help create Donald Trump today

Republicans rallied around a law to expand trade. Now it may doom them.

The Republican establishment began losing its party to Donald Trump on May 24, 2000, at 5:41 p.m., on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Urged on by their presidential standard-bearer, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and by nearly all of the business lobbyists who represented the core of the party’s donor class, three-quarters of House Republicans voted to extend the status of permanent normal trade relations to China. They were more than enough, when added to a minority of Democrats, to secure passage of a bill that would sail through the Senate and be signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The legislation, a top Republican priority, held the promise of greater economic prosperity for Americans. But few could predict that it would cause a series of economic and political earthquakes that has helped put the GOP in the difficult spot it is in today: with the most anti-trade Republican candidate in modern history, Trump, moving closer to clinching the party’s nomination. …

Anonymous Threatens To Expose Ted Cruz For Leading Double Life With Prostitutes

What is the one thing that would absolutely destroy any hopes that Ted Cruz has of getting enough votes to ever be nominated as the GOP candidate for president in 2016?

Anonymous may have found it.

Ted Cruz’s one great appeal to the minority of voters who are sticking with him is his extreme evangelical religious views. Cruz is “a Christian first, an American second,” and his voters really like that. It’s kind of his “thing.” His wife has stated in interviews that she believes Ted can show America the “face of God” as president, and his father believes that Cruz is the only candidate who can protect the religious freedom to discriminate and be intolerant toward others in the upcoming election. …

10 Amazing Animals That Clone Themselves

When people hear the word “clone,” they are most likely envisioning Dolly the sheep or a scene out of a trippy sci-fi film. In reality, cloning happens every day in nature. Many plants reproduce asexually (without sex) and create carbon copies of themselves. However, there are some interesting critters in the animal kingdom that do the same thing.

10. Sea Sponges

The usually sedentary but often colorful sea sponge has incredibly simple anatomy. Regardless of size, each organism is composed of a mass of cells and fibers without any true organs.

The fact that such a simple animal has the capability to clone itself is rather remarkable. Sponges can duplicate themselves through a process called gemmulation.

Gemmulation starts with the formation of gemmules—groups of cells that are enclosed in a protective casing. When each gemmule is provided with a food supply, it is moved to the surface of the sponge and ejected from the adult. From there, it will mature into a new sponge. …

Beyond surveillance: what could happen if Apple loses to the FBI

An Apple loss in the San Bernardino encryption case risks creating a world in which we can no longer trust the gadgets that track how we drive, when we’re home and whether the door is locked

This is how a former White House technologist envisions a future in which Apple loses its privacy battle with the US government.

The year is 2026. You get in your new Tesla for a milk run. You place your fingertip on the door handle, the door unlocks, and the car knows it’s you as you step inside because it read your fingerprint.

The car, on its own, pulls out of the garage while you scroll through live streams broadcast by your friends on whatever app has succeeded Instagram.

The doors lock. The car passes the convenience store and its dairy aisle. Instead, it makes two lefts then a right before pulling up to the local police station. The cops are waiting outside. They got a judge to make Tesla update your car’s self-driving software to lock the doors and deliver you to the local precinct. You looked like a guy caught on surveillance camera and the police had a few questions. …

Edward Snowden: Privacy can’t depend on corporations standing up to the government

Service providers aren’t to be trusted, Snowden says at Free Software Foundation’s LibrePlanet event at MIT

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden opened the Free Software Foundation’s LibrePlanet 2016 conference on Saturday with a discussion of free software, privacy and security, speaking via video conference from Russia.

Snowden credited free software for his ability to help disclose the U.S. government’s far-reaching surveillance projects – drawing one of several enthusiastic rounds of applause from the crowd in an MIT lecture hall.

“What happened in 2013 couldn’t have happened without free software,” he said, particularly citing projects like Tor, Tails (a highly secure Linux distribution) and Debian.

Snowden argued that free software’s transparency and openness are cornerstones to preserving user privacy in the connected age. …

10 Tales Of Haunted Irish Castles

For such a small island on the outskirts of Europe, Ireland has a ludicrous number of castles. In fact, Ireland has so many castles that it may often be cheaper to buy a breathtaking castle in the countryside than a small apartment in Dublin. But with such a bloody history on the island, it should come as no surprise that many of these castles are allegedly haunted by troubled or malevolent forces.

10. Carrickfergus Castle ~ County Antrim

Carrickfergus Castle is an impressive Norman stronghold located just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. Built between 1180 and 1205, the castle has been occupied by the Irish, English, Scottish, and even the French due to its strategic location on the northeast coast.

Over the years, the castle has seen more than its fair share of death and violence, which has led to a number of alleged ghosts wandering its grounds. But none is more famous than the spirit affectionately known as “Buttoncap,” who is named after the distinctive large button on his hat.

In the mid-18th century, an English soldier named Robert Rainey was stationed at Carrickfergus Castle, where he met and fell in love with a woman by the name of Betsy Baird. Unfortunately for the lovesick soldier, Betsy was allegedly having an affair with another man.

Rainey found out about the affair and killed the man responsible. As he lay dying, the victim told his brother what had happened. His brother just happened to be Lieutenant Colonel John Jennings, the commanding officer of Carrickfergus Castle. However, it was not Rainey who was identified as the killer but Timothy Lavery, another soldier and personal friend of Rainey. …

Boxing cured my fear that I was a fragile gay man

I no longer accept as a given that I must give way to ‘real’ men because they’re stronger than me

“Hey, yo, Elton John, what’s up?” said a drunk-sounding voice on the sidewalk behind me. “Hey, faggot!”

It was about 1:30 in the morning on a wet, deserted street in downtown Athens, Georgia in winter of 2015 and I was all alone. Well, except for my two new friends, who had apparently zeroed in on my double-breasted D-Squared coat and decided that it entitled me to an ass-kicking.

“He asked you what’s up, queer!” shouted the other one, smacking his open palm into a plate glass shop window inches from my head. It made a sound like a gunshot.

My car was a block and a half away in a parking deck up two flights of stairs. My friends were still probably fumbling for their coats and phones at the bar two blocks behind me. There was a 24-hour burger place a block up and half a block over, but would they even help me? How bad could two drunk rednecks hurt me between me dialing 911 and the police actually arriving? Probably pretty badly. …

Lessons to learn from my Mexican phone theft nightmare

My mom and I vacationed in Mexico last week. Our ~girl’s trip~ started pretty great. We laid on the beach, sipped on mineral water with lime (detox!), and vegged. On our third day, though, the trip took a very not cool turn. Someone broke into our hotel room while we were at dinner and stole my Galaxy S6. I panicked when I realized it was missing. Like, big-time panicked, and I’ll spare you the exact details of what went down, but following the initial theft reporting I immediately called T-Mobile from my mom’s phone.

Now, here’s where I’m going to make a confession: I have terrible operational security. When I realized my phone was gone forever I knew this would be my reckoning. Learn from me, readers.

Though I work as a cybersecurity/tech reporter, I’m also a pretty average human in the world outside this office. I’m slightly paranoid about the surveillance state, refuse to use my debit card at sketchy bar ATMs, and keep my front-facing laptop camera covered by masking tape. The government is probably watching me, and maybe so are cybercriminals, so yeah, I take precautions. …


Here’s our look at one of the best-kept secrets of the Cold War… or was it? It depends on how you look at it.


In 1980 a hotel executive named Ted Kleisner landed a job as the general manager of the Greenbrier, a five-star luxury resort in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. The resort sprawls over 6,500 acres and includes hiking and biking trails, three championship golf courses, a hotel with over 600 rooms, more than 90 guest houses, and its own private train station. Learning to run such a large facility would have been a big job for anyone. Even so, it only took a few days for Kleisner to notice that there were some serious discrepancies in the company’s books. For example:

• The resort was spending a fortune on “maintenance” of equipment that it didn’t own.
• It had ordered thousands of gallons of diesel fuel that it had no need for. The fuel had disappeared without a trace.
• Every payday, dozens of paychecks were being mailed out to people whose names did not appear on the employee roster.

The deeper Kleisner dug, the more problems he found. …

Live Blogging a New Phone, in 1877

The 19th-century equivalent of the modern Apple event

Three fictional tech bloggers of the 1870s react to the latest model of the telephone, a scene imagined with the help of several actual archival news clippings describing telephone demonstrations of the era.

Walter: Hey everybody! We’re here with live developments from the telephone event. This could be huge. Revolutionary, even. You probably already know the idea: this new tube-like speaking instrument makes it so people can speak freely over the distance of many miles—hearing one another as if they’re in the same room.

Samuel: Still waiting for Alexander Graham Bell at this point.

Mary: The instrument is already on-stage though. We’re just getting a first glimpse here, and—yep, just as early chatter indicated, we’re seeing the three main parts to this device you’d expect: a transmitting instrument, a wire, and a receiver.

Walter: Which means it appears to work by means of electric wire, which isn’t a surprise. What a lot of people in tech circles have been wondering is how this model will be different from what we’ve seen before. …

Is the on-demand economy dying?

A food delivery startup’s recent collapse is just the latest sign that the era of instant gratification by app could be ending.

I’m not going to say that SpoonRocket’s food deserved to win any awards, but it got to me fast.

For the last three years, the Berkeley, California-based startup delivered a rotating selection of carb-heavy comfort foods to your door in under 15 minutes. That speed couldn’t save it. The company on Tuesday said it’s closing up shop. Too much competition and too little cash made it impossible to keep going.

Goodbye, $8 pulled-pork smoked Gouda mac ‘n cheese, a recurring customer favorite. I’ll miss you. …

Undercover At A Trump Rally: 6 Surprising Things I Learned

The Internet is absolutely drowning in articles about Donald Trump, several of them courtesy of other Cracked writers and me. Every hack on the Internet has had a chance to rebut The Donald’s flippant racism, ill-researched talking points, and outright lies. But, relatively little digital ink has been spilled in the cause of understanding Trump’s supporters. Most articles about Trump voters tend to focus on how they’re all Nazis …

The Nazis were way better at color coordination.

… or how they keep beating people up. And while there are plenty easy laughs to get out of how dumb the stereotypical Trumper is, making fun of that guy and his stupid red hat generally means ignoring the hundreds of thousands of real people who have rallied to his banner. I wanted to know more about the mass of voters who are doing their damnedest to make President freaking Trump a reality, so I went undercover to a massive Trump rally in Dallas and then infiltrated a meeting at his campaign’s Austin headquarters.

Here’s what I learned.

#6. Trump’s Supporters Are Surprisingly Diverse

For many, Donald Trump first went from “sort of beloved crazy-rich TV person” to “mostly hated crazy-rich TV person” when he chose to announce his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans a bunch of criminal rapists.

It’s cool, he said some of them are probably good people.

If you’re imagining the average Trump rally as a sea of white, angry faces, there is no shortage of articles to help reinforce that belief.

If you hate reading, virtually everything the man actually says is a fine replacement.

Simulating the Origins of Life

One biochemist is recreating the conditions that may have caused the rise of the planet’s first organisms.

For the past 40 years, David Deamer has been obsessed with membranes. Specifically, he is fascinated by cell membranes, the fatty envelopes that encase our cells. They may seem unremarkable, but Deamer, a biochemist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is convinced that membranes like these sparked the emergence of life. As he envisions it, they corralled the chemicals of the early Earth, serving as an incubator for the reactions that created the first biological molecules.

One of the great initial challenges in the emergence of life was for simple, common molecules to develop greater complexity. This process resulted, most notably, in the appearance of RNA, long theorized to have been the first biological molecule. RNA is a polymer—a chemical chain made up of repeating subunits—that has proved extremely difficult to make under conditions similar to those on the early Earth.

Deamer’s team has shown not only that a membrane would serve as a cocoon for this chemical metamorphosis, but that it might also actively push the process along. Membranes are made up of lipids, fatty molecules that don’t dissolve in water and can spontaneously form tiny packages. In the 1980s, Deamer showed that the ingredients for making these packages would have been readily available on the early Earth; he isolated membrane-forming compounds from the Murchison meteorite, which exploded over Australia in 1969. Later, he found that lipids can help form RNA polymers and then enclose them in a protective coating, creating a primitive cell. …

Goodnight, Antarctica: Researchers won’t see sun for six months

NOAA posts a photo of the last sunset at US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

The first day of spring causes most people in North America to think longingly of warmer days ahead in the summer months. But at the southern edge of the world—specifically, the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station—a northern spring marks the last time southern researchers will see the sun for six months.

On Sunday, NOAA posted a haunting photo of the last sunset at the research station, where a few dozen researchers will spend the next six months in darkness. It’s so cold, with temperatures as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit, that airplanes will not return to the site until October at the earliest. …

10 Insane Psychological Conditions You Won’t Believe Can Suddenly Appear

The human body is a weird and wonderful thing. But when it comes to the brain, it’s mostly just weird. Go flicking through medical journals and you’ll discover that our minds are capable of deceiving us in the strangest possible ways. Sometimes, these horrific conditions can occur without warning.

10. Living Out The Plot Of Big

Remember that Tom Hanks film Big? It’s about a boy who wishes that he was a grown-up. Thanks to some vaguely explained magic, his wish is granted. He goes to sleep one evening and wakes up the next day in an adult body. Hilarity ensues.

If you’ve ever stopped to think about the plot, you’ve probably realized that Big is kind of terrifying. Being magically granted a mature body while still having a child’s brain would be the stuff of nightmares. We know this for a fact because it really happened to Naomi Jacobs in 2008.

At the time, Jacobs was 32 and dealing with the fallout from a decade of homelessness, bankruptcy, and drug abuse. One morning, she woke up to find that the previous 17 years had been wiped from her memory. …

The World’s Most Urgent Science Project

To know the Earth’s future, you must first know its past.

On a spring morning in New Hampshire, 2,000 years ago, sunlight struck a black cherry tree, opening its white-and-yellow blossoms. As the tree swayed gently in breeze, spiky, spherical pollen grains spilled out of its flowers, and floated up through the limbs and leaves of the canopy, before drifting down to the still surface of a nearby lake. Cool water stalled the pollen’s descent, but still, it kept falling, riding the currents all the way to the lake’s bottom, where it mixed with silt and slowly hardened into sediment.

Time piled new layers of mud and soil atop the pollen, pushing it deeper into the Earth. For two millennia, it continued to sink at that geologic pace, until suddenly, and with some violence, it was slurped up to the surface, through an aluminum tube.

Sitting on a floating platform, a small team of scientists pulled the pollen up as part of a cylinder of sediment, a core bored out of the lake bottom. A core looks like nothing more than a cross-section of muck, but each of its sedimentary slices is an archive, packed with fragments of sticks and leaves, charred remains of wood—and enough pollen grains to census the trees that once surrounded the lake. …

Longmont woman accused of shooting at tow truck faces attempted-murder charge

Police: Lourdes Kouzougian mistakenly thought her car was being repossessed

Longmont police arrested a woman on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder on Saturday afternoon after they say she shot at a tow truck driver she incorrectly thought was coming to repossess her car.

Cmdr. Jeff Satur said Lourdes Kouzougian also faces possible charges of felony menacing, discharging a firearm inside the city limits and reckless endangerment.

Satur said the tow truck driver was sitting at Garden Acres Park waiting for calls for service when Kouzougian, armed with a shotgun, confronted him. The tow truck driver climbed into his truck and left, but heard a gunshot and called police shortly after 2:30 p.m. …


Thomas Dam was first and foremost a father, striving to financially provide for his family in the Danish town of Gjøl. His work experience ranged from such things as baker to fisherman to bricklayer before he finally became a woodworker. Despite his best efforts, his family spent their early years living in poverty. All that changed when he surprised his daughter, Lila, with a gift of his own creation. Inspired by local lore of certain magical forest creatures, Dam presented his daughter with the world’s first troll doll, who had magical powers and loved to make people happy. Unlike the plastic trolls that existed in the 1960s and 1990s, this original 1959 troll doll was carved from wood and had glass eyes and woolen hair. His daughter’s love of the doll spread to her friends who wanted one of their own. Setting up shop in a shed in his backyard, Dam started taking orders and selling his troll dolls at local fun fairs and toy stores.

Since every troll doll was handmade, Dam had to find ways to increase productivity to keep up with the demand. Instead of carving each one from wood, he started making clay molds of each figure so he could create the bodies out of natural rubber, which he would then stuff with wood shavings before sewing on the sheepskin wigs and clothes. …

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