Grand jury in Texas indicts activists behind Planned Parenthood videos (Fox News)
A Houston grand jury investigating criminal allegations against Planned Parenthood stemming from a series of undercover videos on Monday instead indicted two of the anti-abortion activists who shot the footage. In a stunning turn of events, the grand jury declined to indict officials from the abortion provider, and instead handed up a felony charges of tampering with a government record against Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden and center employee Sandra Merritt. Daleidon was also charged with a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs.
Lara Feigel: The Value of the Novel by Peter Boxall review - Will Self is wrong, the novel is thriving (The Guardian)
This dazzling work of criticism argues that fiction, from Dickens to Woolf to today, is a genre that has derived its power precisely from its precariousness.
AL Kennedy: 'Doctor Who reminded me how precious storytelling is' (The Guardian)
The novelist explains how, despite 20 years' experience, stepping into the world she has loved since childhood presented an unnerving but exhilarating challenge.
Stuart Kelly: "Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse by AL Kennedy, book review" (Independent)
The nation's favourite Time Lord is given a literary twist by AL Kennedy.
Alison Flood: "Don't read classic books because you think you should: do it for fun!" (The Guardian)
A new poll shows Britons are weighed down with regret over novels they haven't found 'time and patience' for. Why do we shame ourselves over entertainment?
Pulp! The Classics
Pulp! The Classics is a new imprint that gives the nation's favourite classic novels original retro covers in a pulp fiction style - with a dash of wry humour. Redesigned and reset, using the original unabridged text from some of the best writers that have ever lived, Pulp! The Classics promises readers their favourite books with stunning and highly original jackets.
Rereading Stephen King: week one - Carrie (The Guardian)
James Smythe has read everything Stephen King has ever written - and now he's revisiting each novel in chronological order. First: a young girl with some dangerous powers.
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
David Bruce's Smashwords Page
David Bruce's Blog
David Bruce's Lulu Storefront
David Bruce's Apple iBookstore
David Bruce has over 80 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
Michelle in AZ
David E Suggests
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
"YOU IDIOTS HAVE ONE JOB. WHY ARE YOU SO BAD AT IT?"
FIFTY SHADES OF GAY!
ALL RIGHT EVERYBODY. LET'S ALL FEEL THE BERN!
THE BEGINNING OF THE END?
REPUBLICANS ARE THE PARTY OF DEATH!
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
More computer problems.
Answers B.o.B.'s Flat-Earth Diss
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has launched a cheeky salvo against rapper B.o.B's insistence that the earth is flat in his own rap song set to the tune of Drake's "Back to Back."
The track, released on Soundcloud, opens with the astrophysicist quoting a tweet he posted in response to B.o.B.'s "Flatline" track which proclaims that the earth is not a sphere, but as flat as a pancake. In it, B.o.B. picks a fight with Tyson.
"Flat Earth is a problem only when people in charge think that way. No law stops you from regressively basking in it," says in his track "Flat to Fact."
For the track, Tyler recruited his nephew Steven Tyson to spit out lyrics like "I'm bringing facts to combat a silly theory because B.o.B has gotta know the planet is a sphere."
Tyson's choice of the Drake song is a strategic one, as the original track was a diss targeting his rival Meek Mill.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Building 'New' Cars
DeLorean Motor Company
The DeLorean could soon be going back into production thanks to a new law that exempts small volume car manufacturers from the safety requirements applied to most new car makers. Also, I'm going to attempt to write this article without anyBack to the Future jokes.
The law only applies to "replica" vehicles, that is, cars that resemble the body of another vehicle produced at least 25 years ago. Think stuff like the Shelby Cobra or the '65 Mustang - or the venerable DeLorean.
The DeLorean Motor Company, which acquired what was left of the original manufacturer 30 years ago, currently focuses on repairing and restoring all the DeLorean vehicles that are floating around the world. But now, with this specialty legislation, the company can use its millions of factory parts (and some that have been recreated from the original blueprints) to build new, 2017 model year DeLoreans complete with a crate engine from an outside supplier.
Up to 325 could be built each year
DeLorean Motor Company
Joseph Fiennes will star as Michael Jackson in a one-off TV comedy set to broadcast later this year - a casting decision that has added fuel to a raging debate about opportunities for non-white actors in movies and TV.
The white British star of "Shakespeare in Love" plays the black King of Pop in "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon," alongside Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.
The script is based on a - possibly fictitious - road trip the three stars are rumored to have made in an attempt to leave New York after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Sky Arts, which commissioned the drama, confirmed the casting and said Wednesday that the show is in post-production and is due to air in 2016. The channel said it was "part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history."
Iranian-British comedian Shappi Khorsandi tweeted: "Joseph Fiennes is playing Michael Jackson? Fab. Now we can all shut up about lack of diversity."
Computers Winning Ancient Game
You've probably noticed that Mark Zuckerburg has made mention of his growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) a few times over the past year. However, today in a Facebook post, Zuckerberg announced that not only has Facebook AI made significant progress in playing the ancient Chinese game, "Go," but it's also very close to actually winning the game.
If you're wondering why beating a board game makes any kind of difference at all in the world of AI, Zuckerberg briefly mentions part of the reason in one of two current AI-themed posts on Facebook. For decades, scientists have been attempting to teach computers how to win at the 19 x 19 square strategy game. Although the rules of Go seem simple, requiring each player to place a disc on one of the intersections, creating territories, and surrounding pieces and capturing other pieces, some people can make a game of Go last a lifetime.
One of the issues with using AI to accomplish tasks is that it has to learn almost every scenario possible, as well as all the possible outcomes. It "learns" through exposure to the actual scenarios and outcomes rather than learning from mistakes it made in previous attempts. In fact, in many cases, if the AI begins to lose the game, it simply starts another path that has no strategic meaning to it adding to the complexities of teaching it how to win in a game that has trillions of possible moves. It's why it was such a big deal when IBM's Deep Blue computer beat chess champion Garry Kasparov.
But while Facebook is seemingly leading the way, perhaps coincidentally, Google's Research Team announced that its AlphaGo system has succeeded in winning games against the top Go players, pushing AI research even further further. AlphaGo was pitted against three-time Go champion, Fan Hui, and won five games to zero, making this the first time a computer has ever beaten a professional Go player. In fact, out of 500 games, AlphaGo was able to win all but one game, even after giving the other players a head start of four free moves at the beginning of each game. There are plans for AlphaGo to also compete against the top player in world, Lee Sedol, in South Korea in March.
The government on Wednesday sued the operators of the for-profit DeVry University, alleging they misled consumers about students' job and earnings prospects.
In the complaint, the Federal Trade Commission alleged that DeVry deceived students by claiming that 90 percent of its graduates actively seeking employment landed jobs in their fields within six months of graduation. The agency also says DeVry was misleading when it claimed its graduates had 15 percent higher incomes one year after graduation on average than graduates of all other colleges or universities.
Instead of landing jobs in their field of study, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, some graduates found themselves working as delivery drivers or restaurant servers. She said up to 50,000 or so students may have been affected by the alleged wrongdoing.
The FTC is seeking a court order to stop DeVry from making its advertising claims, via TV, radio and elsewhere. Ramirez said the commission would seek monetary relief for those affected but that it was too early to say how much money that might involve.
The Superyacht And The Coral Reef
Tatoosh, a 300-foot yacht owned by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, allegedly did some serious damage to a coral reef in the Cayman Islands, according to the Cayman News Service.
The cause? A dragging anchor chain, which allegedly damaged almost 14,000 square feet of reef in the West Bay replenishment zone earlier this month, says the Department of Environment after conducting a survey using local divers.
That's 80% percent of the coral in the area.
Vulcan Inc., the company that manages Allen's business, released a statement placing the blame on the Port Authority.
It's no small thing to manage a 300-foot yacht. Tatoosh - which Allen attempted to sell in 2010 for around $165 million, but ultimately held onto - is a true luxury vessel, complete with multiple helicopter pads, a basketball court, a swimming pool, and a movie theater. It's staffed by 35 crew members. (Allen also owns a second, larger yacht, the 414-foot "Octopus", which has a permanent staff of 60.)
Judge Should Lose Job
An Oregon judge who has refused to perform gay marriages and has drawn a formal ethics complaint for a raft of other issues should lose his job, a judicial commission leading an investigation into his conduct has found, court documents showed on Tuesday.
Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day engaged in the "discriminatory" practice of instructing his staff to screen marriage applicants for same-sex couples and for refusing to perform the marriages and referring them to other judges, the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability has found.
The Commission also found that Day allowed a veteran with a felony to handle a firearm, solicited and collected money from lawyers who appeared before him, and issued a veiled political threat when another judge asked him to take down a picture of Adolf Hitler in his courthouse.
"Judge Day does not appear to recognize situations that either impugn his integrity or trigger ethical violations," the Commission wrote in a 48-page decision filed on Monday with the Oregon Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court will make the final decision on Day's job. A hearing has not yet been scheduled, court officials said.
College endowments grew by an average of only 2.4 percent last school year, a sharp drop following two years of strong gains, a new study found.
The downturn is troubling news for some universities, which use their endowments to pay for student scholarships and other costs, adding to the list of financial constraints that many schools face amid declining enrollments and long-term drops in state funding. At almost 300 colleges in the study, endowments shrank last year.
The report, released Wednesday, is based on an annual survey of more than 800 colleges by the nonprofit Commonfund Institute and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. It covers the 12 months ending in June 30, 2015.
That period was the worst year for endowments since they averaged a loss of 0.3 percent in 2012. They rebounded with following gains of 12 and 15 percent.
Swings in certain markets were responsible for some of the heaviest losses. Investments in energy and natural resources, for example, led to average losses of 13 percent, a year after they averaged gains of 15 percent. But even the strongest types of investments last year fell compared to their performance a year earlier.
What Are The Odds?
If the Moon landing had been a conspiracy, it would have taken three years and eight months before it was exposed, an Oxford University researcher has found. David Robert Grimes has developed an equation to find out how long it would take to expose conspiracy theories as true depending on how many people are in on the secret.
Grimes is a physicist who works in cancer research. However, he is also a writer and broadcaster and found he was often contacted by people who believe in conspiracies relating to science. "A number of conspiracy theories revolve around science," he said.
"While believing the Moon landings were faked may not be harmful, believing misinformation about vaccines can be fatal. However, not every belief in a conspiracy is necessarily wrong - for example, the Snowden revelations confirmed some theories about the activities of the US National Security Agency."
Publishing his report in PLOS One, Grimes created an equation to look at the chances of a conspiracy being exposed by a whistle blower or through someone involved letting the secret slip. This took into account the number of conspirators, the length of time and the effects of the conspirators dying.
To have a successful conspiracy and keep it going for at least five years, the maximum number of people who could know about it was 2,521. For 10 years, this dropped to below 1,000 people. If you wanted to maintain a conspiracy for 100 years, there would have to be less than 125 conspirators involved.
Concepcion Picciotto, a 80-year-old Spanish-born nuclear disarmament activist who camped in front of the White House for more than three decades, has died, colleagues said Tuesday.
The diminutive weather-worn protester who manned a placard-festooned tent in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue through Washington's brutal summers and winters since 1981 died Monday, according to The Peace House, a group she belonged to.
Picciotto was a divisive figure, earning respect for her endurance but derision for embracing sometimes controversial views.
Picciotto and her colleagues were a regular attraction for tourists gathered in front of one of the world's most famous landmarks.
On Tuesday, a fellow protester manned the encampment beside a sign that read "Concepcion R.I.P." as a group of Argentine tourists clad in snow gear snapped photos.
"She manned the White House Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil the longest," said Peace House. "She stayed there through thick and thin and was dedicated to a cause that sometimes seemed to be like an unhealthy relationship."
British singer Colin Vearncombe, who had a 1980s hit with "Wonderful Life" under the stage name Black, has died from injuries suffered in a car accident. He was 53.
A statement from the singer's record label said Vearncombe never regained consciousness after the Jan. 10 crash near his home in southwestern Ireland. The statement said he died peacefully Tuesday at Cork University Hospital with his family at his bedside, "singing him on his way."
The Liverpool-born singer had a worldwide top 10 hit in 1987 with "Wonderful Life" and also released the hit single "Sweetest Smile."
Vearncombe made 15 albums and also published poetry and staged exhibitions of his paintings in Ireland, where he had lived for many years.
He is survived by his wife, Camilla, and three sons.