Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Week: The Curse of the Were-Blog

... or something....

Right now:

A massive earthquake struck remote and impoverished regions of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 263 people as it shook buildings across South Asia and knocked out power and communications to already-isolated areas.

The 7.5-magnitude quake was centred deep beneath the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan's sparsely populated Badakhshan province, which borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

In the Afghan capital of Kabul, buildings shook for up to 45 seconds, walls cracked and cars rolled in the streets as electricity went out. Frightened workers who had just returned from lunch also rushed from swaying buildings in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and to the south in the Indian capital of New Delhi.

Obama's band of "rebels" don't like Russia's bombing them:

An alliance of Free Syrian Army-related insurgent groups said on Monday it was skeptical about a Russian proposal to help rebels, and that Moscow must stop bombing rebels and civilians and withdraw its support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday the Russian air force, which has been bombing insurgents in Syria since Sept. 30, would be ready to help the "patriotic" Syrian opposition.

"Their words are not like their actions. How can we talk to them while they are hitting us?" Issam al-Rayyes, spokesman for the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, told Reuters.

Russian warplanes have bombed a number of FSA-affiliated groups in northern areas of Syria since intervening in the war on the side of Assad. The Russian air force is providing air cover for several major ground offensives being waged by the Syrian army and allied Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.

Rayyes added that there was no contact between the rebels and the Russians, clarifying an earlier remark to the BBC that the rebels had not turned down a Russian offer. "There is no offer, there is no communication," Rayyes said. 

"We don't need the help now, they should stop attacking our bases and then we can talk about future cooperation," Rayyes said in his earlier BBC interview.

His comments echo the views of other Syrian rebels towards the Russian statement, with Assad's opponents suspicious that Moscow is working purely to shore up its ally.

It's probably because the Palestinians kept stabbing people:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a review of the status of certain Palestinian neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem, an official confirmed Monday, a decision that could potentially strip tens of thousands of Palestinians of their Israeli residency rights.

Such a move is unlikely to overcome Israeli legal hurdles, but the very prospect has unnerved Palestinians in the city. The review comes after weeks of Israeli-Palestinian violence, much of it concentrated in east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians for their future capital. Many of the Palestinian attackers involved in deadly assaults came from east Jerusalem neighbourhoods. Any move to change the status of the city's Palestinians would threaten unleashing new unrest and draw international condemnations.

Yes, throw another tantrum, Jordanians Palestinians. 

It's what Liberals do. Why be surprised?

Since 2008, the province has paid out a total of $3.7 million to cover negotiating costs for teachers’ unions — $2.5 million of it paid just this year to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association and the small, French-language union AEFO. But ask different officials why that money was spent, and they’ll give different answers.

The Ontario Liberals can’t seem to say whether the payouts were routine practice or a symptom of new bargaining legislation — even as Education Minister Liz Sandals says the payout won’t be necessary in future talks.

“I think they’re saying they’re not going to do it going forward because they got caught,” PC leader Patrick Brown said. He wondered during question period what negotiations cost $2.5 million, as most expenses are usually hotel rooms and pizzas. Brown said “the pepperoni must be gold-plated.”

Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership and copyright:

Copyright holders already control reproduction, public performance and execution, modification, and distribution of works, and can decide where, when, and how distribute their works. However, in some countries, they are not able to control the importation of a legitimate acquired work from another country -- a practice known as parallel trade, one example of the principle of the exhaustion of rights, or the first sale doctrine. 

If the US proposal to the TPPA IP chapter is accepted, right holders would be able to prevent third parties from importing legitimacy copies of works from one country to another, without authorization.

Currently, no multilateral international instrument on intellectual property grants to copyright holders an exclusive right to control the importation of works, so parallel importations are possible. Indeed, the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) specifically eliminates the possibility of litigating dispuites over parallel trade, or any other aspect of the exhausion of rights.

What activists want Prime Minister-Elect Trulander to do:

Copyright activists say Canadians could face lawsuits, fines or worse for ripping the latest Justin Bieber CD or uploading an animated GIF of Jose Bautista's bat-flip under a new trade deal, and they're calling on the newly elected Justin Trudeau to act.

And now, scientific explanations for ghosts:


Infrasound is sound at levels so low humans can’t hear it (though other animals, like elephants, can). Low frequency vibrations can cause distinct physiological discomfort. Scientists studying the effects of wind turbines and traffic noise near residences have found that low-frequency noise can cause disorientation, feelings of panic, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and other effects that could easily be associated with being visited by a ghost [PDF]. For instance, in a 1998 paper on natural causes of hauntings [PDF], engineer Vic Tandy describes working for a medical equipment manufacturer, whose labs included a reportedly haunted room. Whenever Tandy worked in this particular lab, he felt depressed and uncomfortable, often hearing and seeing odd things—including an apparition that definitely looked like a ghost. Eventually, he discovered that the room was home to an 19 Hz standing wave coming from a fan, which was sending out the inaudible vibrations that caused the disorienting effects. Further studies also show links between infrasound and bizarre sensations like getting chills down the spine or feeling uneasy.

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