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Sony Cyberattack: Hackers Win

 

 

But We’ll Show You the Film Trailers Anyway !

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

U.S. officials are treating a cyberattack on Sony Pictures as a “serious national security matter,” with the National Security Council considering a proportionate response, the White House said.

Evidence shows the attack against Sony was carried out by a “sophisticated actor,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.  But he declined to blame North Korea, saying the investigation is still progressing.

That country is suspected of orchestrating the hack in retaliation for the Sony film The Interview, about a fictional plot to assassinate Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

The film portrays Seth Rogen and James Franco as frustrated television journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader. 

Wanna go kill Kim Jong-un?” Franco’s character asks in the movie.

“Totally.  I’d love to assassinate Kim Jong-un – it’s a date,” Rogen’s character replies.

In the film’s climactic scene, Kim Jong Un’s head is seen exploding when his helicopter is hit by a missile.

The company on Wednesday cancelled the film’s scheduled December 25 release after the four largest U.S. theater chains said they would not show it.  A spokesman said Sony “has no further release plans” for the $44 million comedy, The New York Times reported.

According to media reports, U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said investigators have connected North Korea to the cyberattack.  North Korea denies involvement and wants to join the US probe into the matter, saying they can prove they’re not behind the security breach.

The massive breach resulted in the leak of tens of thousands of documents of confidential Sony data, including the private details of thousands of company employees, former employees and freelancers, as well as several Hollywood stars and their squabbles.  The leaks also include financial data and high-quality copies of films yet to be released.

The leak has also escalated to threats of terrorist attacks over the film.  A hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace promised a “bitter fate” to those who attend The Interview showings.  

The group– invoking the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States– warned people to stay away from theaters where the film is playing.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters.” 

President Barack Obama also downplayed the threat, calling Sony’s quick cancellation “a mistake” and saying his “recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

Nonetheless, Sony raised the white flag and surrendered, even though, surprisingly enough, its economy is larger than that of North Korea’s. 

Yes, that’s true.

 

Sony’s Response

Sony was preparing for a Christmas Day release of the comedy about two journalists recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

But not anymore.  They’re backing down altogether.

In a statement about its cancellation, Sony said it was “deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie and, in the process, do damage to our company, our employees and the American public.  We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

In an interview late Wednesday with ABC News, Obama called the cyberattack on Sony Pictures “very serious.”

 ”We’re investigating it.  We’re taking it seriously.  We’ll be vigilant,” Obama said.  ”If we see something that we think is serious and credible, we’ll alert the public.  But, for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

 

Pyongyang Condemns Movie

While Americans might be used to such irreverent humor, Pyongyang isn’t laughing.

In fact, they’re pissed.  Crazy-pissed.

Pyongyang has strongly denounced the comedy as an act of terrorism and had called for Sony to cancel the film.  It has praised the hacking as a “righteous deed,” while insisting it is not involved in the intrusion.

“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays the attack on our top leadership… is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” a Foreign Ministry statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency on Wednesday read.

The ministry called on Washington to ban the film from being screened, warning that failure to do so would trigger a “resolute and merciless counter-measure response.”

It is not clear whether the Guardians of Peace group is linked to Pyongyang, which is known to have a capable group of Internet hackers at its disposal.  Some suspect the hackers may have been aided by an insider at Sony.

Pyongyang was angered by the film and in June promised “merciless retaliation.”  But it has denied involvement in the attack.  A North Korean diplomat said earlier this month the accusation was a “fabrication.”

Eriq Gardner, senior editor of The Hollywood Reporter, said the scale of the Sony hacking is unprecedented.

“There have been things that have made Hollywood studios change distribution of movies, but nothing like an attack from a nation-state forcing its hands on a movie that is really just a comedy,” Gardner said.

“… There have been some people who have speculated, maybe jokingly, that this was all just a publicity stunt,” he added.  

“But really, no matter how much money the film makes from here on out, it will not have been worth it to Sony.  This is absolutely terrible for them.”

 

Financial Loss

Doug Stone of the film industry newsletter Box Office Analyst believes Sony is set to lose up to $55 million and could opt to release the film at a later date or offer it as a video on demand.

Bruce Bennett, a North Korea analyst for the think tank RAND Corp., said Sony’s decision to cancel the film’s release sets a bad precedent.

“Foreigners who want to stop the release of a film can now follow the example of these hackers.  That’s dangerous for the United States,” said Bennett.

And, he added, it is good news for North Korea’s leaders.

“They don’t want this film to get out.  They particularly don’t want it to get on DVD and get circulated into North Korea, which a lot of outside DVDs do because it depicts Kim Jong Un accurately as being ruthless and deceptive, and in ways that don’t coincide with the regime’s propaganda,” Bennett said.

 

Hollywood Reacts

Many in Hollywood spoke out against Sony’s decision to scrap the movie’s release.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel called the move “an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist’s actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

George Clooney said “Hollywood hung Sony out to dry.”

Actor Rob Lowe declared it an “utter victory” for the hackers.  “Wow.  Everyone caved.  The hackers won.  An utter and complete victory for them.  Wow,” Lowe tweeted.

Steve Carell, whose own film set in North Korea has been canceled, said it was a “sad day for creative expression.”

This isn’t the first time North Korea’s leadership has been on the receiving end of Hollywood’s particular brand of parody.

In 2004, the South Park creators portrayed Kim’s late-father Kim Jong-il as a speech-impaired, mass-murdering alien despot in Team America: World Police

While Kim Jong-il, a noted film buff, never publicly commented on the film, North Korea’s embassy in Prague demanded that the film be banned in the Czech Republic.

“It harms the image of our country,” a North Korean diplomat said at the time.  A Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman rebuffed Pyongyang, saying “it’s absurd to demand that in a democratic country.”

Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for the Pyongyang regime, strangely enough said North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, in fact, plans to see The Interview.

~Via BBC, VOA, Google News, RT, Sony Pictures, YouTube

 

 

* * * * * * * *

Regardless of the threats and hacks and attacks, we’ll show you the film trailers anyway– while they’re still up and running.

If North Korea and Kim Jong Un don’t like it, oh well, that’s too bad.   Cry us a river.  What would America think if Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 ‘The Great Dictator’ was cancelled because Der Führer didn’t like it?

The movie may be in poor taste but that’s how politcal satire goes.  The Sony story is downright bizarre — and we don’t just mean the hacking.  We mean the decision to make the stupid movie in the first place.

Nevertheless, we believe in free and independent media and we’ll stand up for it– even if Sony won’t. 

We may be small, but we’re still Humboldt.  So come and get us.  We’re waiting.  And we’ll leave the light on for you.

 

 

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Gravity’s Got A Hold On Me

 

 

–And I’m Looking for Something to Set Me Free

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

You can almost fly.  If gravity doesn’t get you down.

World’s Best Trampoline Tricks is the latest video by Devin Graham, aka YouTube’s uber-darling devinsupertramp.

In this edition, Devin joined with the leading trampoline manufacturer Eurotramp to film an amazing video on trampoline jumps, flips, and tricks.

The epic video features the amazing trampolinist Greg Roe, with an assist by Botond Dajka and Csanad Borlay of the Lords of Gravity.  The background music, Gravity, is by the Vibrant Sound.

Below is the behind-the-scenes take of how Devin made the video.

Jump on.

 

 

* * * * * * * *

For you camera techno-geeks out there: 

Devin Graham and Parker Walbeck filmed World’s Best Trampoline Tricks at 6k with the RED Dragon downscaled  to 4k and with the Phantom Miro at 1000fps at 1080p–  upscaled to 4k with the Glidecam HD 4000 for stabilizing. 

It was edited by Parker Walbeck using Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

 

 

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Stephen Colbert Bids The Nation Adieu

 

The Colbert Report Calling It Quits:

‘We’ll Meet Again Some Sunny Day’

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Colbert Nation.  It’s all over except for the applause.

After nine years on the air as host of the The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert is calling it quits and throwing in the sarcastic towel.  Feared by many, hated by some, watched by all, Colbert is heading to CBS to take David Letterman’s Late Show spot in September.

He leaves an uncertain legacy for the media he revolutionized and the culture he altered.  Without him on TV four nights a week, there is a truthiness-shaped hole in our national political discourse.

He promised his audience a revolution, and, said Colbert, “One revolution is 360 degrees right back to where we were.”

“Anyone can read the news to you,” he announced when The Colbert Report debuted in 2005. “I promise to feel the news for you.”

He kept that promise, which is how he came to define our era.  For so many of us, Colbert sums up the absurdity of the Bush years, along with his hero and mentor Bill O’Reilly, whom he called Papa Bear.  ”I emulate you,” he once told O’Reilly in a poignant appearance on Fox News.  ”I want to bring your message of love and peace to a younger audience.  People in their sixties, people in their fifties – people who don’t watch your show.”

His rise in the media world was swift and ruthless. Soon after joining The Daily Show in 1997, Colbert attracted national attention for his uncompromising passion for the witty truth. 

He was able to remarkably reduce complex issues to common-sense tidbits of comedy and satire, uninhibited by facts.  He introduced America to the twin principles of “Truthiness” and “Wikiality,” where anything is true if it feels true, or if someone claims it is, correctly predicting, “The revolution will not be verified.”

And on his last night he signed off in his typical bombastic, authentic fashion.

“I know this is an emotional night for a lot of you,” he said during his opening.  “If this is your first time tuning in to ‘The Colbert Report,’ I have some terrible news.  This in fact is your last time tuning in to ‘The Colbert Report.”

The show went on as normal and ended with the sweet, emotional finale.

Colbert performed the 1939 tune We’ll Meet Again with a slew of famous friends he’s had on the show over the years: singers, actors, authors, politicians, rock stars, filmmakers, and news anchors alike.  They included Jon Stewart, Willie Nelson, Tom Brokaw, Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Cranston, Big Bird, Jeff Daniels, Katie Couric, Ken Burns, Charlie Rose, Arianna Huffington, James Franco, Michael Stipe, Barry Manilow, Christiane Amanpour, Andy Cohen, and George Lucas, among others.

“All those incredible things that people say I did– none of that was really me,” Colbert said during his goodbye.  ”You, the Nation, did all of that.  I just got paid for it.”

And then, Colbert rode away as quickly as he came into the pop culture media world.  In a sleigh with Santa and Abraham Lincoln and Alex Trebek, adorned by his Captain America shield.

Colbert will be remembered for truth.  Nobody summed up the current state of the American mind as brilliantly, as honestly, as terrifyingly as Stephen Colbert.

It’s somehow fitting that he left us so prematurely and under such mysterious circumstances.  He will be missed – even if someone very much like him returns to the airwaves in the coming
months.

Night, night, nation.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Sun Dog and His Master

 

‘Sun Dog’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s no secret:  We love our dogs.

While ski towns everywhere are bracing for the absolute insanity that occurs in mountain towns during the holidays, here comes a video to remind us of what’s important in life.

In Sun Dog by Sturgefilm and DPS Cinematic, filmmaker Ben Sturgulewski tells the story of skier Santiago Guzman and his dog Conga in the wild mountains of Patagonia overlooking Bariloche, Argentina.

The place they call Refugio Frey is the only protection from the ravaging winds, drawing wanderers of all sorts to its doors.  Santiago and Conga slide down the hills effortlessly with an infectious energy, the windswept landscape a backdrop for the pure joy of two mountain souls sharing a day in the wild together.

Unlike much of the sub-par ski films out there, this short segment isn’t about big powder, big lines, or big tricks.  It’s about a happy little black dog named Conga who can’t get enough of playing in the snow with her best friend.

So even though the mountains might be packed this holiday season with tourists and snowboarders galore, take a deep breath.

As Conga teaches us, life in the mountains is pretty amazing, no matter what the conditions or circumstances.

 

 

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Happy Xmas

 

(War is Over)

 

John Lennon’s VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the 1960s The Beatles delighted their fan club members by sending them
a specially recorded 45rpm single every Christmas filled with comedy, music
and festive fun.

The following decade the Christmas single as we know it– a one-time seasonally themed hit—had arrived.

Fittingly though, it was ex-Beatle John Lennon who changed the whole Christmas game.

Lennon was born October 9, 1940, at a time when World War II was raging across Europe.  Liverpool was under attack, bombed by Nazi Germany when John was born.  The rest, as you know, is history.

Sung by John and Yoko Ono and accompanied by the Harlem Community Choir, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released in the States on December 6 of 1971.  It was released in Britain the following year, and again following Lennon’s death after being violently gunned down outside of his New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

The Vietnam-inspired sing-along was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by the couple that began with the bed-ins they convened in 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. 

President Nixon had said at the time that the Vietnam War would soon be ending “as a result of the plan that we have instituted.”  In April 1970, however, he had expanded the war by ordering US and South Vietnamese troops to attack communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and Northern Vietnam.  The resulting outcry across the United States led to a number of antiwar demonstrations– and during one of these demonstrations the National Guard shot four protesters at Kent State.

The couple had launched an international multimedia campaign preceding the song in December of 1969 – at the height of the counterculture movement and the massive protests against America’s involvement in the war– by renting billboard spaces in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters declaring, “WAR IS OVER!  –If You Want It– Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.”

Lennon said he conceived the antiwar campaign to promote social unity, peaceful change, personal accountability and empowerment, and writing the happy holiday tune to convey a sense of optimism but without the glowing sentimentality typically associated with the holiday music season.

“I was sick of White Christmas,” he said, and “I wanted to pen the peaceful anthem using the lyrical lesson I learned while recording Imagine.  I understood what you have to do:  Put your political message across with a little honey.’”

By the time Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released, Lennon’s antiwar activism had brought him under the scrutiny and ire of the Nixon administration and the FBI.  Lennon had already returned his “Member British Empire” medal back to Queen Elizabeth, citing Britain’s support of US troops in Vietnam and its own involvement in Biafra.  He was involved in so much radical activity in the US that the FBI had 216 pounds worth of files about him. 

In 1972 he received his ignoble payback– a deportation order to leave the United States.  It was later stayed due to his broad popular support and the issuance of a green card for US residency. 

By 1973, the Vietnam War was grossly unpopular.  After extensive negotiations and the bombing of North Vietnam in December 1972, the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January of 1973.  The war was finally over– after nearly 20 years of US involvement.

Yoko Ono later wrote:

“Never in a million years, did we think that promoting world peace could be dangerous.  Were we naive?  Yes, on that account, we were.  

John said:  ‘Nobody told me there’d be days like these.’  That was his true confession.  These songs have become relevant all over again.  It’s almost as if John wrote these songs for what we are going through now.”

Among the many items Yoko donated for an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame following his death were the bloodstained glasses he was wearing when he was shot.   Lennon was legally blind without them.

Yoko refused to hold a funeral for Lennon.  By not doing so, she said, ”his spirit would live forever.”

 

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Rebounding Resilience

 

Life is More than a Game

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Life, not just games, happens on the Filipino basketball court.

Weddings, celebrations, meetings, festivals, and memories occur there.

The damage done by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 was catastrophic, leaving homes destroyed and 580,000 people displaced.  It was the deadliest typhoon in modern history, rated at a Class 5 with winds recorded at 275 mph.

More than 6,300 people lost their lives in the record-breaking super storm.  As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.

After the typhoon, the aid organization Samaritan’s Purse gave out food, tarps, building materials, and other emergency supplies– on the basketball courts.

Now it’s where healing is found. The Rebound gives a touching take of how Filipinos found help, healing, and resiliency through basketball in the wake of the storm.

 

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Helping Rich Lenders Rip-Off the Poor

 

 

State Legislatures Lift Interest Rate Caps

 

**John Oliver VIDEO**

 

 

Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower.org

 

 

Loan sharks, banks, and their lobbyists really know how to put the “ick” in eth-icks.

Though they’ve tried to buff-up their public image by calling themselves “consumer lenders,” their game remains the same ethical mess it’s always been.

They target poor and financially struggling people, entice them to borrow with come-ons touting “quick & easy” money, and then hook them to installment loans with interest rates up to 36 percent.  At such rates, it’s hard for these hard-hit people to repay the bank on time, so most are forced to keep borrowing more money just to pay down the previous loans.

To make this even ickier, the sharks are especially fond of setting up their loan offices around Army bases so they can prey on America’s low-paid, financially-stressed soldiers.

The good news is that several state legislatures are taking action to provide relief.  The bad news is that their relief is not for the borrowers, but the banks!

With an army of lobbyists and a multimillion-dollar arsenal of campaign cash, the industry has already induced legislators to lift interest rate caps in eight states – most of which have a large number of military bases.

The cynical claim of the loan sharks (believe it or not) is that they are suffering financial hardships.

These poormouthing bankers say that to make “an acceptable profit,” they must be allowed to charge borrowers more than 36 percent interest.

Acceptable to whom? One of the largest purveyors of these loans, a subsidiary of Wall Street megabank Citigroup, reported a hefty 31-percent profit increase last year – under the old rate structure.

What we have here is a brazen purchase of legislative favoritism by some of the richest financial interests in America – allowing them to increase their exploitation of some of America’s poorest people.

What’s “acceptable” about that? The whole scheme is a shameful hustle.

 

States Ease Laws That Protected Poor Borrowers,” The New York Times, October 22, 2014.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim Hightower is a Texan, columnist, and populist who believes that to move America from greed to greatness, we must fuel the power and the passion of our nation’s workaday majority.

A national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author, he frequently appears on television and radio programs bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media.

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried on more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International. A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.

He has written seven books and is a New York Times bestselling author.

As political columnist Molly Ivins said, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell and with a sense of humor.”

You can listen to more of Jim Hightower’s commentaries here.

 

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America’s Explosive Oil Problem

 

The Disaster of Shipping Crude by Rail

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

On July 6, 2013, a train hauling two million gallons of crude oil from North Dakota exploded in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

It took two days to put out the fire and the disaster devastated the small community.

Regulators in the United States knew they had to act fast.  They had to assure Americans a similar disaster wouldn’t happen south of the border, where the U.S. oil boom is sending highly volatile crude oil every day over aging and defective rails in vulnerable
railcars.

That catastrophe had its origin in America.  For five years, a boom in oil production has been taking place in the Bakkan Shale region of North Dakota.  Oil from the Bakkan is transported across the U.S. and Canada by rail to refineries on the coasts and it was one of these trains that derailed in Lac-Megantic.

The sharp increase in domestic oil production has created jobs, decreased economic vulnerability to turmoil in the Middle East, and lowered prices of gasoline and home heating oil.

But there’s another side to this story:  Boom is a joint investigation film by The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News exploring how the boom in oil has resulted in highly volatile crude oil being sent over aging rails in vulnerable railcars and the resulting disasters that follow in their wake.

Rail accidents involving oil trains have been widely on the rise– yet industry and regulators have been slow react.

Will it take another Lac-Megantic to make America’s towns and cities safer?

You can read the full story accompanying the above video here: stories.weather.com/boom

 

 

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Australian Security Forces Storm Sydney Cafe

 

 

Hostage Siege Ends With Attack, Gunshots

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s over.

Australian security forces on Tuesday stormed the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney where several hostages were being held at gunpoint, in what looked like the dramatic ending to a standoff that had dragged on for more than 16 hours.

Heavy gunfire and loud bangs rang out shortly after 2 a.m. local time today, and moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive had managed to flee the scene.

Australian state broadcaster ABC reported that three people were dead and four others were wounded and in serious condition.  Police said the three people killed were the gunman and two of the hostages.

It is unknown whether the two hostages who were killed, a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman, were caught in crossfire, or shot by the Iranian-born gunman.  Among the four wounded was a police officer shot in the face.

Medics moved in and took away seven injured people on stretchers, but it was not clear whether they included the gunman.  He was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault.  Local media reported that Monis, who was known as Manteghi Bourjerdi before he changed his name, was 49 or 50 years old.

Chris Reason, a correspondent for CNN affiliate Seven Network, said the gunman became “extremely agitated” when he realized what had happened and “started screaming orders” at the remaining hostages.

Reason said he could see the gunman pacing past the cafe’s windows from his vantage point at the network’s nearby offices.  He described the man as unshaven, wearing a white shirt and black cap and carrying a shotgun.

The gunman demanded a flag and phone call through hostages who contacted several media organizations, Sky News Australia reported.

Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron, was found guilty in 2013 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and calling them “Hitler’s soldiers,” as a protest against Australia’s involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.

He was also charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.  Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual
assault of a woman in 2002.  He has been out on bail on both
of the charges.

“This is a one-off random individual.  It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act.  It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous,” his former lawyer Manny Conditsis told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.  “His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness,” Conditsis said.

He was believed to be acting alone and does not appear to be part of a broader plot, US law enforcement said Monday.  Beyond the demands for the flag and phone call, precisely what he wanted remained murky late Monday.

During the siege, hostages had been forced to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.  The black flag with Arabic writing read, “There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.”

At least six hostages were either released or had escaped, with terrified cafe workers and customers running into the arms of paramilitary police.

Fifteen or so hostages were understood to have been holed up inside the cafe, said Chris Reason, a reporter at Channel Seven, whose office is opposite the cafe.

The incident forced the evacuation of nearby buildings and sent shockwaves around a country where many people were turning their attention to the Christmas holiday following earlier security scares.

In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife. 

Tough anti-terror laws were passed by the Australian parliament in October in response to the threat of homegrown extremism.

The siege cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip popular with workers on a lunch break, which was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading.

“We’re possibly looking at a lone wolf who has sympathies to global jihad or someone with mental health issues in search of a cause,” said Adam Dolnik, a professor at the University of Wollongong who has trained Sydney police in hostage negotiations.  “This is all about attention.”

In the biggest security operation in Sydney since a bombing at the Hilton Hotel killed two people in 1978, major banks closed their offices in the central business district and people were told to avoid the area.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, earlier this year raised its domestic terror threat level from medium to high, mainly due to concerns about home-grown extremists.

About 70 Australians are thought to be fighting for militant groups in the Middle East.

A number of Australian Muslim groups condemned the hostage-taking in a joint statement and said the flag’s inscription was a “testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals.”

~Via Google News, ABC, Seven Network, WRAL, Reuters

 

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Mad Max’s Road Warrior Meets Disney’s Pixar

 

 

The 2015 Official Movie Trailers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

 

Cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. 

The earliest people who made films were magicians.  And they knew it was always better to surprise and change other people’s expectations than to give them exactly what they wanted.

In the latest trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, forget about the oil wars and civilized gentility. 

The world is almost out of water, everyone’s gone out of their minds, and it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket.  Amidst all of this chaos, toss in more than a few Hollywood-style big-budget car chases and explosions and you’ll get the general idea.

The fourth installment of George Miller’s post-apocalyptic dystopian series, Mad Max: Fury Road stars Tom Hardy in lieu of Mel Gibson’s old role as Max Rockatansky, a man living in a world that’s turned into nothing but “fire and blood.”  

Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander the Wasteland alone.  Hoping to find a way to exist in the midst of all this insanity, he finds a heroine partner in an elite Imperator named Furiosa– played by an unrecognizably macho-looking, crew-cutted, smokin’ hot Charlize Theron– who has no time for any nurturing and coddling.  True to the original story of Mad Max, we’re talking about surviving in the post-apocalyptic world here.

“Out here, everything hurts,” Theron’s character fiercely says in the above clip.  ”You want to get through this?  Do as I say.  Now pick up what you can– and run!”

Between those well-chosen bits of Shakespearean dialogue, clever editing and breakaway pan shots, there’s a dynamic soaring score pulsating throughout every moment and even those unfortunate few who missed out on Miller’s original Mad Max movies will be curious to see what Fury Road is all about when it opens May 15, 2015.  For premature voyeurs, we have
another alternate film trailer for you here.

If apocalypse, mayhem, and hardcore survival aren’t your flavor, there’s another gentler and kinder movie arriving around the same time:  Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out.

The animated movie trailer, seen below, takes us inside the emotional mind of a typical adolescent doe-eyed girl named Riley, in the middle of a major transition as her family relocates from the Midwest to San Francisco. 

Seeing and hearing the voices of Riley’s various turbulent emotions swirling about in her head– playing the characters of Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Disgust– we get to relive our own childhood and dance the sweet teenage tango of life’s angst once again.

The Emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.  Riley herself tries to keep things positive, and how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

Growing up can be a bumpy road.  But as the latest trailer for Inside Out shows, it’s not just young Riley whose emotions are at the center of attention – we get to see inside her parents’ heads, too.  And true to the Disney paradigm of how things naturally happen, the parents are always wise and right again.  Take that, teens!

Inside Out opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.

Wizards and vampires and zombies will be out for the coming year.  The upcoming film noire will be dominated by societies in breakdown.  And yes, the revolution will be televised for teens, parents, and survivalists alike.

 

 

 

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The CIA Psychologist Who Made $81 Million Teaching Torture

 

 

Cashing in on Conscience and Country

 

**VICE VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Working for the CIA has its perks.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a blistering, 500-page report on the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program, a document that committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said represents the most significant oversight effort in the history of the US Senate.

The $40 million, five-year study concluded that CIA officials exaggerated the value of the intelligence they gleaned from dozens of “high-value detainees” held at secret ‘black site’ prisons, where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Two U.S. psychologists were paid about $81-million each to consult with the CIA on its ineffective brutal interrogation program – criticized as amounting to torture — the U.S. Senate’s damning report said.

The two psychologists, whom the report said had no prior experience with Al Qaida, counterterrorism or interrogation techniques, were working with the Air Force on its “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape” (SERE) program before the 9/11 attacks.  That program was reported to have evolved into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” — which included sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

The committee reviewed more than 6 million pages of top-secret CIA documents and found that the architect of the interrogation program was a retired Air Force psychologist named James Mitchell, an agency contractor who — according to news reports — personally waterboarded alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  

The Senate report confirms that two psychologists’ firm was outsourced the contract for most of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program from 2005 to 2008.

The firm and each psychologist were paid $81-million of the $181-million consulting contract before it was terminated in 2009.

One of the psychologists, now retired to a life of leisure in Florida, sat down for a lengthy interview with Vice News on his role in the program. 

Mitchell has a signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA and was unable to discuss his alleged role in the agency’s enhanced interrogation program, but VICE News met up with him in suburban Florida to discuss the Senate’s report and one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror.

This is the first time Mitchell has ever appeared on camera.

 

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Life in the Nordland

 

‘The Fox of Bloody Women Island’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

 

Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant
Bureau of Explorers.com

 

 

How does one find happiness throughout a winter when the sun barely makes an appearance?

This source of curiosity took us to Nordland– a mystical Viking land of changing light, deep fjords and mountainous archipelagos.

We arrived in the small town of Kjerringøy, where had we heard there was a man who built traditional boats.

His name was Ulf, his house had the red trim around it, and he’ll
meet us at the end of the drive in the freezing rain.

This was all we knew.

The land was rugged, the sea cold and forbidding, the people of ancient Viking stock strong and independent and peaceful.

Could this man’s belief in his work and connection to his environment be the root of his happiness?

Shot entirely during the twilight hours of Norway’s northern Arctic, this is his story.

* * * * * * *

Filmed by Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant for the Bureau of Explorers,
‘The Fox of Bloody Women Island’ was the Official Selection of the Chicago
International Film Festival and a Vimeo Staff Pick in 2014, and the Official
Selection of the American Documentary Film Festival for 2015.

 

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The Moped Diaries

 

Hope, Loss, and New Beginnings

 

**Award-Winning FILM**

 

Keith Cartwright
A Life of Gratitude.com

 

 

Levi is a boy growing up on Collington island off the coast of North Carolina.

When a new bridge is built connecting his island to the mainland he has to come to grips with both the change and opportunities that come along with it.

There’s the love of home, love of a partner, and the love of family.  And they’re falling apart– pushing him towards a dead end or crossing that bridge to see what lies beyond the horizon.

 

Twenty years ago I started a job that changed my life.  And although I’ve been gone from that job for eight years now, I was reminded it hasn’t finished changing me.

The job was with Eckerd Youth Alternatives.  I was a counselor working with middle and high school students in a wilderness program.  The kids were labeled at-risk, troubled, hopeless, and countless other terms to suggest they were much better suited to live in the middle of the Croatian National Forest than their communities. 

The first year I spent with those kids I was all about the labels.  There were days I coined one or two of my own that were far less complimentary than the standard ones.  Over time, though, as I got to know them better and built relationships with them, I came to understand the label they really deserved was, well– just plain kids.  

Kids who needed someone to listen to what made them mad in the world and not tell them why they should never be angry at all.  Kids who needed someone to identify a thing or two they were doing right to soften up the endless lists of failures others had attached to them.

They needed someone to give them permission to dream.  And not just because that’s what “normal” kids did, but because someone believed those dreams could come true. 

But this week I was moved by one of those young men who’s always held a special place with me.  Several years ago I actually had the privilege of officiating his wedding. In the Virgin Islands, no less.  At the time, I thought he and I were caught up in one of those crazy circles of life that loops us around from a point of chaotic introduction to an inexplicable point of connectedness.

But this week, that young man, Tyler, showed me that the circle back then was filled with gaps.  They felt more complete when he shared something– making this mentor suddenly feel like the one
being mentored. 

Tyler has been working in the movie and television and camera business for years.  And a handsome face it is.  Earlier this week he shared his latest creation on social media:  a short 10 minute movie called The Moped Diaries.

When I watched it I was struck by how much the story reflected his life.  One of overcoming challenges.  One of picking a story and living it out, refusing to let anything or anyone alter the plot.  

But, what stuck out even more– I was basking in the creation of a kid who once came looking for help and was now a young man offering it to the world with his movie.  

His story is timely for so many people in my life who’ve faced or are facing hardships.  This is a story of hope and determination and that they can be conquered.

Having children helped me understand the importance of living a life of gratitude, and how impossible that life is without saying “thank you.”

I hope you’ll take 10 minutes and watch Tyler’s film.  I hope you’ll consider his message.

I’m proud of you my friend, Tyler Nilson

Well done.  Thank you.

* * * * * * * *

Tyler Nilson played the adult character of Levi, and wrote, directed, and produced The Moped Diaries. 

He works for Lucky Treehouse, a San Francisco and Los Angeles based collective of filmmakers and artists working together to make films, commercials, and television content inspired by the stories of youth, the unknown on the road ahead, and the feeling of summer days, rope swings, experience & adventure.

~Via Keith Cartwright, A Life of gratitude.com, Tyler Nilson, Lucky Treehouse and Vimeo. 
   Photos courtesy of Tyler Nilson’s Facebook page.

 

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Eaten Alive by a Giant Anaconda

 

 

Reality TV Stunt Brings Attention and Criticism To the Plight of the Amazon

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

We all have goals.

When Paul Rosolie wanted to focus attention on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, he decided he needed a stunt guaranteed to get people looking.  For the past two years, the naturalist and author had a goal that no man in the history of the world has ever had:  to be eaten alive by a giant green anaconda.

So the staunch environmentalist offered himself as dinner to the monster snake — and was swallowed alive, filming every moment.

Anacondas, the largest snakes in the world, typically suffocate their prey before ingesting it, making Rosolie’s attempt the first of its kind and very dangerous.

Rosolie survived, and people all around the world got to see the harrowing journey on Sunday night into the belly of the beast.  The two-hour special, Eaten Alive, aired on the Discovery Channel and was widely criticized by animal activists.  Rosolie, author of the widely praised eco-adventure book Mother of God, was slammed as a snake-torturing opportunist.

The idea came to him after a decade spent working in, and working to save, the rainforest habitat, Rosolie said.

“Everybody on Earth knows that the rainforests are disappearing and most people can tell you how important they are, but still, not enough people are paying attention, not enough people realize this is such a problem.”

The American activist said he was proud to take on the adventure, even though the prospect of dying was hard to swallow.

To avoid suffocating, his team of experts crafted Rosolie a specially designed carbon fiber suit, equipped with a breathing system — as well as with cameras and a system to communicate.

“We didn’t know if this was going to work, if I was going to be eaten, but we made sure that if I did make it inside the snake, I wouldn’t suffocate,” Rosolie explained after the ordeal.

The next challenge was trying to find a snake in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. 

Rosolie and a camera crew spent eight weeks in the Amazon seeking a hungry anaconda and along the way encountered piranhas, electric eels, giant crocodiles and other deadly creatures.

“We spent 60 days out in the jungle, camping, hiking, looking through swamps every night,” Rosolie said.  “During our expedition in the Amazon, several times we encountered this anaconda with the girth of an oil drum.  The problem was we couldn’t restrain it.  There was no way to capture this snake.  We had a 10-person team and they couldn’t hold onto it.  That started spooking us — it was 26 feet and 400 lbs.  We decided to test the suit on a more normal-sized snake.”

 Eventually, they found a female snake, which at 20 feet long, fit the bill.

“When I went up to the snake, it didn’t try to eat me right away,” Rosolie recounted.  “It tried to escape.  And when I provoked it a little bit, and acted a little more like a predator, that’s when it turned around and defended itself.”

The explorer was swallowed head first and spent more than an hour inside the giant snake, adding that he kept in touch with his team the whole time.  He said he was scared that something would go wrong, but at the same time, “I was very excited to do it.”

“You are going up against one of the greatest predators of the planet and doing something that no one has ever done before,” he said.  “Everybody says an anaconda can’t eat a human, that it’s physically impossible.  I’ve seen an anaconda break a wild boar in half.  I’ve seen an anaconda constrict a black caiman, which is a crocodile that grows up to 15 feet.  Anacondas eat animals much bigger than humans.  Once you crush a human ribcage — squeezing before they eat — we’re much smaller than some of the animals they’re eating, Rosolie said.

“And I know of people who have been eaten.  The cook who tours with us in the Amazon — his father was eaten by an anaconda.  So it’s not a myth.  When you’re in these small villages and your mom gets eaten by an anaconda, they’re not running to get a camera.”

He did not give details on how he was freed from the snake, but insisted his team was careful not to harm it and that he was the only one in danger.

“We didn’t force the snake to do anything, we didn’t ask from the snake anything out of the ordinary,” Rosolie said, explaining that “snakes very often regurgitate if they’re eating something and a predator comes by, they have to give up their meal so they can escape.”

The anaconda is now doing well, he said.  But Rosolie faced fierce criticism from animal rights groups, including from PETA, who said “the snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings.”

Rosolie said he even received death threats.  But he wasn’t fazed, saying the shock value is important to increase attention to his cause of the Amazon’s plight.  As he explained it:

“I’ve worked in the Amazon for 10 years, as well as India and Indonesia and other places, and it all goes back to the loss of biodiversity, plants and animals.  

I’m seeing the Amazon disappear.  I’ve seen entire 1,000-mile stretches of rainforest burnt to the ground where every single plant and animal is destroyed — and no one pays attention to that.  I’ve seen scientists spend their entire lives trying to rally public opinion and support, and people just don’t care.

Anacondas, as an apex predator, are a part of that.  I said, ‘I want to do something completely crazy.’  I’ve studied anacondas for years.  They’re a misunderstood species.  People hunt them and kill them.  And I said I wanted to do something that’s going to grab people by the eyeballs. 

So I wanted to do something that would sort of shock people and force a dialogue about what’s going on here — and it’s working.  People all over the world have been calling me saying they hope I get Ebola, that they hope I die, that they think I’m heinous and inhuman and horrible, and that I’m “the Hitler of animals.”

People care about animals.  They don’t make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in. 

What’s interesting is that PETA has something like 40,000 signatures protesting Discovery’s special from people who care about a snake — which is awesome.

But those people don’t realize this is one snake– when there are millions of snakes and other animals that are being incinerated right now.

Yet a petition to protect the standing Amazon rainforest has — wait for this — 159 signatures.”

 

A fund linked to the show was set up to raise awareness and money to protect the Amazon and allow for more research of anacondas in their habitat.  After the US showing, Eaten Alive will air around the world.

The Discovery Channel said it expected at least three million viewers in the United States and a million more from around the world.  They got the views alright, except the stunt didn’t go as planned and viewers and critics alike were disappointed Roaslie didn’t get eaten alive after all.

~Via Paul Rosolie, Discovery Channel, EW, YouTube, and Times of India

 

 

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Rivages

 

A Film of Work and Men– and Women

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the secluded port of Le Havre, France, the docks are
run only by men.

No women are allowed within the confines of the port.  The male dockers fortunate enough to work there inherit the profession as it’s handed down from their fathers, from one patriarchal generation to the next. 

Last month, a container ship left the port to cross the world all the way to Malaysia.  It had an unusual embellishment visible for all to see: 2,600 strips of paper—making up a woman’s eyes– pasted on the containers by an artist named JR and his team in 10 quick days.

Guillaume Cagniard’s beautiful black and white film, Rivages, pays tribute to these men, and to the women who are mysteriously absent.  He explained his collaboration with both the dockworkers and the artist:

“I wanted to show through the portraits of dockers an example of a profession embodied by proud and solitary men.

Deeply rooted in traditional values, passed on from father to son, these dockers challenge the constant coming and going of ships.  I wanted to pay tribute to the various trades in the port, without which JR’s project would not have been possible.

The port is a very secluded place, closed off by barriers, without any women.  One can only become a docker strictly through father-son legacies.  That is what I wanted to show with the three generations of dockers stacked on top of each other, watching the boat drift away.

Thanks to our exchange, a friendship was born. They joined with us to paste the eyes of a woman, the very first woman to be allowed in the port.”

 

The artist JR explained his role and what he was trying to accomplish:

“In 2007, my project, Women Are Heroes, was created to pay tribute to those who play an essential role in society, but who are the primary victims of war, crime, rape, or political and religious fanaticism.  They gave me their trust and asked for a single promise:  ’make my story travel with you.’

Portraits and eyes of women were pasted on a train in Kenya, a Favela in Brazil, a demolished house in Cambodia, a building in New York, on bridges in Paris, on the walls in Phnom Penh.

Women Are Heroes is this legacy;  ending with a ship leaving a port, with a huge image that turns microscopic after a few steps closer.  It’s the idea of these women who stay in their villages and face difficulties in regions torn by wars and poverty, and facing the infinity of the ocean.

We have no idea where and how people will see this artwork.  We are sure women far away will feel something; seeing this boat, her lonely eyes passing by silently and quietly, never to be heard from again.”

 

 

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Pop Insanity

 

So What’s New?

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Once in awhile we pop in on pop culture to remind ourselves of what we’re not. 

We’re not rich.  We’re not trendy.  We’re not fashionable, hip, mod, awesome, totally dank or driving late model luxury rides.  Humboldt is more akin to homegrown grassroots music, beer, muddy trucks, weed, tofu and vegans more than it is anything remotely connected with urban couture.

But we do peek once in awhile to see what’s been happening out in the insane world beyond the Redwood Curtain.  It’s a big world out there past the trees, streams, and forests we call home. 

Jolin Tsai is an example of that.

The youngest of two sisters born in Taipei, Tsai was an outstanding student who attended Taiwan’s most prestigious schools including Jingmei Girls High School and Fu Jen Catholic University, where she majored in English literature.

She decided to leave the education gig behind and become a pop music entertainer instead.

She first broke into the Taiwanese entertainment industry at the age of 18, winning first place in an MTV singing competition with her cover of the Whitney Houston song, The Greatest Love of All.  Now one of Taiwan’s biggest stars on the rise, Tsai has become a famous pop princess releasing more than a dozen award-winning albums under notable record labels and selling more than a million copies of each by the age of 34.

And despite being only 5’1” and weighing in at 90 pounds the diminutive diva can sing, dance, and twist herself into more shapes than a balloon animal.

Although she’s not a household name in America yet, she is a huge star in her native Taiwan where her mantle overflows with trophies and statuettes from the MTV Asia Awards, the Golden Melody Awards, and the Global Chinese Music Awards, among others.  Extremely popular in Taiwan and China, she has seen her pop cred soar in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well.

She’s now plying her magic by developing a fanbase in the United States with the above video from her 13th album, Play.

The video and album predictably dominated the pop music charts upon its release, having 3 millions views in the first 3 days and 5 millions more by the end of the week– claiming the record of most video views of Mandarin music of all time.

Tsai collaborated in the above video with American designing team, The Blonds, who previously worked with artists Beyoncé and Katy Perry, spending five days shooting film in New York City.

The album title, according to Tsai, was to relay how singing, acting and performing helped mature her experience and wisdom throughout the past two years.   Tsai says she hopes that with “her new witty music and image, fans will find her album to be playful and joyful, as well as being optimistic for the future.”

We’re reminded that pop culture is not about depth.  It’s about marketing, supply and demand, and well,  let’s face it: shameless, shallow, mindless consumerism. 

That why we love Humboldt, hidden behind the Redwood Curtain, where the values of the local community is our culture. 

But we do take a peek outside, once in awhile.

 

 

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Colonizing the Red Planet

 

 

Mars:  The Epic Dream Vs. the Harsh Reality

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s a one-way ticket to Paradise.

In 2012, a Dutch nonprofit led by entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp announced plans to send four citizen astronauts to colonize Mars in 2023.

The motivation behind the project was later revealed to have little to do with the pursuit of science.  Instead, the organization— known as Mars One— plans to film the whole thing, turning the far-flung mission into a bizarre reality TV show.

The call for applications began back in 2013.  No previous intergalactic experience was necessary, Mars One said in their release.

Applying is easy.  Applicants just need to be over the age of 18 and comfortable with the notion of spending the rest of their mortal lives on a different planet.

In the first two weeks, more than 78,000 people applied for the one-way trip into space.  That number now tops a surprising 200,000 folks wanting to start a new life someplace else.  Mars One hopes to pick between 28 to 40 candidates by the year 2015 and train them for the final mission.

One small problem though:  The organization also needs to raise around $6 billion in funding to pull the whole thing off.  That’s one heck of a Kickstarter project.

Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth rock from the sun and lies roughly about 140 million miles away from us– depending on our elliptical orbits with one another.  First recorded by Egyptian astronomers 4,000 years ago as “the Red One” due to its iron-rich rocky and dusty surface, Mars has always captured our imagination for travel, exploration, and potential colonization.

Mars has roughly the same landmass as Earth.  Martian surface gravity, however, is only 37% that of Earth– meaning you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars. 

Mars, to note, also sports two moons.

The Martian year is 686 earth-days long, causing some extreme temperature variations in its four seasons.  At the closest point to the Sun, the Martian southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun causing a short, intensely hot summer; while the northern hemisphere endures a brief, cold winter.  At its farthest point from the Sun, the Martian northern hemisphere causes a long, mild summer with the southern hemisphere having a lengthy, cold winter.

Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system.  They can last for months and cover the entire planet.  The seasons are extreme because its orbital path around the Sun is more elongated than most other planets in the solar system.

There is no oxygen on Mars except in minor trace amounts and the atmosphere consists primarily of carbon dioxide gas.  Water on the surface of Mars does exists in its polar ice caps but it’s prone to either freezing or evaporation.  There is abundant water trapped below the surface; enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 115 feet.

So, just how scientifically sound is sending four normal people, with no scientific background, to another frontier planet in the hope of making it habitable for future generations?

Not very much, according to a team of MIT engineering students.  The group made a detailed simulation of the Mars One settlement to assess the mission’s feasibility.   Their results, published last month, show that it will be virtually impossible for humans to survive on Mars with the current technology that exists.

“We’re not saying, black and white, Mars One is infeasible,” said Olivier de Weck, MIT professor of aeronautics and engineering systems.  “But we do think it’s not really feasible under the assumptions they’ve made.  We’re pointing to technologies that could be helpful to invest in with high priority, to move them along the feasibility path.”

The researchers began by looking at each component outlined in Mars One’s plan, from living conditions and life-support systems to logistics and emergency procedures in case of fire.

The first problem is food.  Mars One plans to build a series of capsule-like habitats to house the settlers, using solar panels to supply electricity and extracting drinking water from the soil with an irrigation system.

Using a typical work schedule and metabolic rate of astronauts on the International Space Station, the study estimated that a settler on Mars would have to consume 3,040 calories a day to stay healthy, subsisting on a diet that includes foods like beans, lettuce, peanuts, potatoes, and rice.  The researchers found that producing enough of these crops to sustain settlers would require almost four times an area as the one laid out in Mars One’s plan– 2,150 square feet, as opposed to the 530 currently allotted.

Further, if the crop-growing area is part of the settlers’ habitat as proposed, the crops would end up producing unsafe levels of oxygen that would need to be abated with a constant supply of nitrogen.  This process would require technology that has yet to be developed for use in space.

The same goes for water.  The Mars One plan is to melt ice for drinking water, but the MIT study found that current technologies that can extract and melt water from soil are not yet ready for use in Mars’ harsh environment.  Eventually, the study found, the total atmospheric pressure inside the habitat would drop to unsafe levels, suffocating the first settler within a mere 68 days.

Can Mars be colonized?  Undoubtably it will, someday.  And when it happens, it will be the farthest journey mankind will ever have traveled.  As of September 2014, there have been 40 unmanned missions to Mars, including orbiters, landers and rovers.  18 of those missions have been successful.  There have been many more flybys.

The Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter recently arrived on September 24, 2014.  The next mission to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars project, comprising of an orbiter, lander, and rover;  followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, slated for launch in March 2016 and with a planned arrival in September of 2016.

Essentially, colonizing Mars for humans is the kind of thing that presents great challenges and requires an enormous amount of preparation.  

“There are just so many unknowns,” said Sydney Do, one of the graduate students who led the MIT study.

“And to give anyone confidence that they’re going to get there and stay alive–  there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

 


 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Erik Wernquist’s award-winning film at top above, Wanderers, was made using actual digital images and real locations gathered from NASA/JPL, NASA/CICLOPS, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, European Space Agency, John Van Vliet and Björn Jonsson. 

It is best viewed on a full screen and with the volume cranked up.

‘Mars One: Introduction Film’ was produced by the MarsOne Project.

Images by Space.com.

 

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Wandering Nature

 

‘Wanderment’

 

**Award-Winning Film**

 

Doug Urquhart
Upthink Lab

 

 

Wanderment is the result of a 12-month collection of 4K time-lapse
sequences captured while backpacking.

From meandering streams and forest-dwelling organisms to the grandeur of high mountains above tree-line, this short film wanders through the contrasting wilderness of Alaska, North Carolina, Georgia and California.

Countless miles of hiking in the Appalachian Mountains and adventurous backpacking in California and Alaska provided no shortage of opportunity to capture the planet’s poetry in motion.  Further juxtaposing these contrasting landscapes is the use of both color and black and white techniques throughout the film.  

Each time-lapse sequence, comprised of hundreds of still images, represents a chance to share these reflective moments far away from our urban epicenters.  It offers a simple reminder to step outside with your friends and family to experience and respect nature first-hand.

This film is best viewed in Full Screen with scaling turned off.  A majority of this film was shot using a 3D printed motion control dolly.  For more info about printing your own version of this dolly, check out: youmagine.com/designs/ultralight-pet-timelapse-motion-control-dolly

The various technical equipment and software I used were:  a Canon 6D, Canon 5D3, Canon T3i running Magic Lantern (3+ month SolarCam, underwater control), Samyang Cine Primes (14,24,35,85), Canon 70-200, eMotimo TB3, Dynamic Perception Stage Zero & One, Custom 3D printed motion control gear powered by eMotimo code to reduce weight for backpacking, custom focus stacking technique via Dragon Frame (we hope to see this as a real feature in a future release), Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, LRTimelapse, and some quality outdoor gear from Western Mountaineering, REI, The North Face and Outdoor Research.

And a High-Five to all my friends who shared the path less traveled and hauled extra equipment along the way:  Upthink Lab, Karen Urquhart, Guy Thorsby, Chris McClure, and Greg Gunter.

Thanks for watching!

 

 

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Star Wars Awakens After a Decade of Slumber

 

 

The Movie Trailer Goes Mega-Viral 
  A Year Before Release

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s been in a deep freeze cryo-sleep for the past decade.

And it’s waking up after a long slumber.  Nine and a half years since the last live-action Star Wars movie opened in theaters and just over two years since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand, the saga (depressingly) lurches forward.

In 2005, you remember, it looked like the Star Wars saga was officially over.

Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox released Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which completed the prequel trilogy and tied the story back to the first film in the series.

It was done, finished, kaput, and ended.  Or so you thought.

But then along came Disney.

In October 2012 the studio brokered a whopping $4.05 billion deal to buy Lucasfilm, and with the deal came the announcement that they would be starting production on a whole new trilogy of Star Wars films that would keep the epic story going for years and years and even more years to come– and far into the next galaxy if they could.

From the get-go, Disney made their intentions clear to not only continue the saga, but to blow it wide open with annualized releases, transmedia connections, franchising plugs and licenses, and with still more merchandise to sell, sell, sell. 

It’s already begun with Star Wars:  Rebels on TV and it’s only going to keep growing.  In fact, there already are another three directors lined up for four more Star Wars movies after J.J. Abrams launches Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

And that brings us to today.  The first official Star Wars 7 teaser trailer just dropped online and is trending around the world with a staggering 36 million views even though the flick won’t be here for another year.

It’s just a teaser of course, but by all accounts you’ve’ve heard actor John Boyega is playing a stranded trooper and Daisy Ridley a Tatooine local, piloting her own transport speeder which looks like it’s used for salvaging.

We also see the Falcon flying through the dunes of Tatooine, presumably after meeting up with these characters where they begin their adventure to find Luke Skywalker.

Without context, it’s just guess work as to what the Sith warrior (with the new lightsaber design) scene and the X-Wing sequences are from, but visually J.J. Abrams and company honored the sounds, visuals and tone of the original trilogy.

You can feel the old saga revving up when hearing the X-Wing and Falcon engines roar or seeing those Tie Fighters appear on screen.  Even the look of the Rebel pilot’s (Oscar Isaac) helmet and the X-Wing interior are appropriately grungy compared to those all-too-shiny prequels.

The questions remain:  who is the lighsaber-wielder, who is offering the voiceover, and can that lightsaber hilt actually stop an opponent’s lightsaber from sliding down the blade?

Prepare for patience.  Prepare for The Force bringing you an onslaught of teasers, hype and plenty of merchandise between now and December 18 …of 2015. 

We see Jar-Jar getting his groove back on and Jedi alarm clocks on the shelves next Christmas.

 

 

 

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Adriatic Skate

 

Three Friends and The Goodship Galeb

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s good to be young and alive.

Heading out to the Adriatic sea and back onto land in some of the oldest cities in the world, skaters Donovan Piscopo, Daryl Angel, and Wieger Van Wageningen explore Croatia via the Goodship Galeb, while camping on the islands situated in the midst of crystal blue waters.

To coincide with their friendship together, we’re taken on a journey full of beautiful scenery, clear waters, barking dogs, and soaking up some Mediterranean rays, they show us plenty of their skateboarding skills.

Directed by Alex Craig and Dave Ehrenreich for Nike and Poler, The Goodship Galeb perfectly illustrates the strong ties between Croatia, its Adriatic islands, and with a subtle mix of skateboarding and diving and some great music thrown in for good measure, it sublimely blends together for a perfectly chill time.

Travel further, live longer, be healthy, and skate on. 
Life is as short– or as long– as you make it.

 

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The Art of Kaiseki

 

The Thoughtfulness of Food

 

Award-Winning VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Niki Nakayama, renowned chef and owner of LA kaiseki restaurant n/naka, lays down a beautiful palette representing the taste, texture, and sheer thoughtfulness of food in a way we’ve never seen done before.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Niki began her career at the renowned Takao restaurant in Brentwood, working under the guidance of esteemed chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera.  

Committed to exploring new techniques, Niki embarked on a three year working tour throughout Japan, sampling her way through different regional flavors and immersing herself in the essentials of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and cutting-edge.

While working at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan, (a Japanese inn owned by her relatives) Niki trained under chef Masa Sato in the art of kaiseki– the traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and
seasonality of a dish. 

She returned to Los Angeles to start two other wildly successful restaurants, with Zagat, the Los Angeles Times, and Citysearch awarding her the “Best of Sushi” distinction in 2006.

Focusing on tasting menus allowed Niki to do what she enjoys and thrives with most: creating a thoughtful and cohesive series of dishes that provides a personal experience for each diner.

Her latest venture, n/naka, has been ten years in the making and is an expansion of Niki’s previous endeavors, applying the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.

A curator of edible art, she believes that plating is as captivating for the eye as it should be for the palate.  She plates a selection of poetic dishes from her 13-course tasting menu and intimately explains what the idea of
kaiseki means to her.

In the above video she thoughtfully prepares:

Zensai, seasonal ingredients presented as an appetizer with lobster shumai, grilled duck, calamari with blue crab, and hirame ceviche.

Saki Zuke, a pairing of something common and something unique with a lobster potato with cold corn soup, crème fraiche, and ikura.

Modern Zukuri, a modern interpretation of sashimi with Japanese scallop, bell pepper gellee, golden kiwi, and dill.

Otsukuri, traditional sashimi with Oh Toro, hirame, kampachi, nama toko, and kumamoto oyster.

Niku, a meat course with grilled Japanese ishiyaki wagyu beef.

 

We hope you find Niki’s kaiseki as pleasing and beautiful as we did.

 

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The Black Sea Devil

 

 

Rare Sea Monster Caught on Film
for the First Time

 

**VIDEO** 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s a rare and unusual creature, lurking deep in the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

A research team conducting a dive in Monterey Bay off the coast of California have captured first-ever video of a rarely-seen denizen of the deep called the Black Sea Devil.

The creature was spotted this week in the dark, deep waters 1,900 feet below the surface by researchers with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute using their  Remote Operated Vehicle, Doc Ricketts

It is the first video footage ever made of this species alive and at this depth.

Deep-sea anglerfish are strange and elusive creatures that are very rarely observed in their natural habitat.  This little angler, above, is named Melanocetus.

“We’ve been diving out here in the Monterey Canyon regularly for 25 years, and we’ve seen three,” MBARI Senior Scientist Bruce Robinson told the San Jose Mercury News on Friday.

Robinson said a luminescent “fishing pole” projecting from the anglerfish’s head is a glowing lure to attract prey.  He told the paper they captured the fish to study, but don’t know how long it will survive.

The institute’s two-minute-long video was posted on YouTube, while pointing out that although the black sea devil seems menacing as its swims towards the camera, it is only about 3.5 inches long.

Little is known about the fish. 

Their jaws consist of such powerful teeth and a greatly extendable stomach that they can inhale prey that is larger than them.  Living in dark depths of the ocean where life is dark, dangerous and threatening, it hunts in open water rather than on the sea bed, lurking with a huge gaping open mouth.  

Females are rounded with an enormous head and lethal sharp-fang like teeth.  The lure extracted from her dorsal fin sits profoundly on her head, where symbiotic bacterial bioluminescence lives, shining and attracting prey from the waters.  

The male lacks this lure and is less than one fifth of the size of his ferocious mate.  Male black sea devils have a much shorter life span than females and are much tinier in comparison.  His sole purpose is to attach himself to her with his jaws during breeding, living as a parasite, and then swim away after she has spawned.

“If they don’t find a female, they drown,” University of Washington professor and deep-sea anglerfish expert Ted Pietsche told the Mercury News.  “They’re not even properly equipped to eat.”

 

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Life and Love in the Redwood Forest

 

A Very Odd Love Story

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Shot in the heart of the Redwood forest of Humboldt County,
right about where home is, we have a different sort of love story.

Inspired by Where The Wild Things Are, the video for Metronomy’s latest single, The Upsetter, tells the story of two unconventional lovers.  Featuring a feral bearded lady and her beau– a creature companion she makes of sticks and dirt– the video follows their first flickers of romance deep in the dense, natural, unflinching redwood forest.  As her loneliness overcomes her, she brings the grass creature to life. 

The level of vision and ambition making the film is good, and the physical development of the characters are extraordinary.  There’s a level of warmth and poignancy and hope shining throughout.

Encyclopedia Pictura, makers of The Upsetter, is the loosely strung company of Isaiah Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch and Daren Rabinovitch, a Northern California directing team working in film, art, community building, and agriculture.

The collective is known for their extraordinary nature-based surrealism and made the video with Rabinovitch at the helm, taking three years to create the astonishing costumes in the video.  We see the creation of one character, a sort of human sloth, take to the transformation of the other, as our bearded feral forest woman starts to incorporate the forest as part of her own.

Using an unorthodox, hands-on working style for all aspects of film production – writing, designing, painting, sculpting, animating, photographing, directing, editing, compositing, and scoring, EP has won numerous awards for their music videos.  Esquire called them “The Directors of the Future.”

From 2008-2011, EP led an effort to build a unique back-to-the-land hillside neighborhood and farm called Trout Gulch, communally living and working there along with 15 others.  In 2012, they co-founded DIY.org in San Francisco.

They are passionate about gardening, farming, construction, villages, augmented reality, science visualization, social ecology, technological empowerment, adventure, and country living. 

And we would venture to guess dirt, sticks, moss, and leaves.

Below is their brief behind-the-scenes making of The Upsetter.

 

Behind the Scenes of the Upsetter from Encyclopedia Pictura on Vimeo.

 

 

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Thank You For Vaping

 

The E-Cigarette Debate

 

New Yorker **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In 1963, a patent was filed for a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette,” but the invention never took off.

Forty years later, in 2003, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist whose father had died of smoking-induced lung cancer, patented a similar device—this time, reimagined with nicotine.

Fast-forward ten more years, to 2013, and electronic cigarettes—or e-cigs, as they’re often called— had mushroomed into a billion-dollar industry.  Last year also marked the moment when a leading manufacturer of the device, NJOY, aired an ad during the Super Bowl, to the tune of Avicii’s popular Hey Brother.  The ad reaches a crescendo with this line:  “Friends don’t let friends smoke.  Give them the only electronic cigarette worth switching to.”

E-cigarettes are not cigarettes.  As the name suggests, they simulate smoking and, via an inner heating element, deliver nicotine through the vapor of liquid nicotine instead of the combustion of tobacco leaves.  That’s why e-cigarettes are often promoted as a safer alternative to smoking.

But the public-health debate is in full bloom.  Trace amounts of toxic substances have been detected in e-cigarettes, and their usage among youth doubled in 2012.  Yet many cite the devices as remedies that can stop their decades-long tobacco-smoking habits.

In New York City, in the evenings, “vapers,” as they’re called, gather around a long table in the back of the Henley Vaporium, on the border of Nolita and SoHo, to discuss liquid-nicotine flavors (“Have you tried the new custard?”) and to “rebuild” their e-cigs.

The first time I passed the Vaporium’s cloudy windows, I peered inside to see beyond the smoke.

“Welcome,” a young, bearded man offered, as I sat down next to him at the table in the back.

The video above is a glimpse into that world.

 

~Via The New Yorker/Sky Dylan-Robbins and The Lost Ogle

* * * * * * * * *

Vape devices come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.  The main tube that holds the battery and odorless e-liquid, or “juice,” is ususually called a mod or pen.  The battery heats the juice to create an inhalable mist.  The process is more akin to ‘steaming’ than smoking.  That’s why it’s called vaporizing.

It’s quite the fad as of late and while it’s not likely to stop your nicotine addiction, it is a suitable and relatively inexpensive alternative to smoking tobacco. 

Is it safer?  The jury is still out.  It is, after all, nicotine, a substance that’s as hard to quit as heroin.

If you’re interested in the idea of vaping, check in with John’s Myrtlewood Liquors at 1648 Myrtle Ave. in Eureka.  They have the biggest assortment of everything vape you can imagine in Humboldt County and knowledgeable friendly staff to get you easily on your way.

 

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The Sounds of Interstellar

 

Making The Blockbuster Film Sound Real

 

**VIDEO and TRAILER**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Interstellar is a film representing some thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan.

Supervising Sound Editor Richard King talks about the sound team’s extensive work on the immersive sci-fi film– in which a team of explorers undertake the most important mission in human history by traveling beyond the galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars as the Earth is
coming to an end.

Interstellar has been the subject of criticism about its layered sound design, which occasionally buries dialogue from the actors underneath its sound effects and Hans Zimmer’s booming score.

But that’s the point, says director Christopher Nolan,who also brought us the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception.

“Many of the filmmakers I’ve admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter.  “I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue.”

Nonetheless, his sound design has come under fire from many.

Nolan, who visits theaters in advance of his films’ official release to make sure the audio is up to snuff, says he hasn’t heard of any problems.

“The theaters I have been at have been doing a terrific job in terms of presenting the film in the way I intended,” he said.  

“Broadly speaking, there is no question when you mix a film in an unconventional way as this, you’re bound to catch some people off guard, but hopefully people can appreciate the experience for what it’s intended to be.”

It could be worse.  He could have used Metallica instead.

 

 

 

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The All-American Dad’s Deafening Silence

 

 

‘Shaming Bill Cosby is the Best We Can Do’

 

**VIDEO**

 

Hanna Rosin
Slate

 

 

What should happen to Bill Cosby now that more than a dozen women have accused him of sexual assault?

In a better world—or a world where justice was more satisfying– these women’s stories would be investigated by the police and prosecuted in court.  In that world, the allegations, if true, would lead to convictions, and Cosby would be headed to prison on sexual assault charges.

“Actually, he’s a serial rapist,” Joan Tarshis, one of the latest victims to tell her story, said on CNN.

Tarshis’ story begins like most of the others:  “He made me a drink and very shortly afterward I passed out.  I woke up very groggily with him removing my underwear.”  

It was 1969, and she was an aspiring comedian.  Cosby told her he wanted to work on a sketch with her and invited her to his bungalow.  Then came the drink, the groggy moment, and, according to Tarshis, forced oral sex.

Tarshis, like the others, is defensive about not having spoken out for so many years.  She worried no one would believe her, because he’s the great Bill Cosby, “the all-American dad.”

But it’s hard not to believe her now, because her story sounds so similar to all the others.

Here is Barbara Bowman, another alleged victim telling almost the exact same story.  She was a 19-year-old aspiring actress when she met Cosby.  He “talked incessantly about trust issues,” she said, and made her believe she had to open up to him.  Then in an Atlantic City hotel room came the drugs, the wooziness, the “screaming, yelling, scratching.”

So why isn’t Cosby in handcuffs?  Andrea Constand was a young Temple University employee when she went to Cosby for career advice in 2004.  She tells the same story of pills and grogginess.  Unlike the others, though, she took her case to Bruce Castor, then a Pennsylvania district attorney who declined to press charges and today explained why.

“I didn’t say that he didn’t commit the crime,” Castor said.  “What I said was there was insufficient admissible and reliable evidence upon which to base a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.  That’s ‘prosecutors speak’ for ‘I think he did it but there’s just not enough here to prosecute.’”

Castor said he had every incentive to go forward–
it would have been a career-making, front-page news story for him, after all.  But after a year, “you lose the ability to test for blood or intoxicating agents.”  He says he thought Cosby probably did “something inappropriate,” but “thinking that and being able to prove it are two different things.”

These decades-old cases are virtually impossible to prosecute.  Not only does the physical evidence no longer exist, but most states have statutes of limitation on sexual assault cases.  We can debate about whether there should be statutes of limitation on sexual assault, given that women often feel too ashamed to come forward right away.  

But for the moment, that’s the law.  So where does that leave us?

In the house of public shame.

Yes, the court of public opinion is thoroughly sloppy, as Dahlia Lithwick wrote after Dylan Farrow’s New York Times essay exploded the Internet.  “There are no rules of evidence, no burdens of proof, no cross-examinations, and no standards of admissibility.” 

But in this case, unlike either the Woody Allen case or the R. Kelly case, there are now five women who have spoken to major media outlets, under their real names, telling a very similar story.

Constand filed a civil suit against Cosby, which was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2006.  In that case, her lawyer had lined up 13 supporting witnesses, all apparently with their own pills-and-grogginess stories.  At the time, Constand’s case did not make a dent in Cosby’s reputation.

But now that we know what we know, or perhaps now that we know it at a time of heightened awareness about sexual assault, a quiet settlement and a financial hit seem insufficient punishment given the scale of the crime.

So Netflix, don’t air that Cosby post-Thanksgiving special, even though you have
already paid for and shot it;  NBC, cancel that Cosby sitcom.  

And if that doesn’t happen, then shame on anyone who watches them.

~Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic.  
She is also the author of
The End of Men.

* * * * * * * * * *

Mr. Cosby has refused to respond

His attorney provided a statement posted on the actor’s website that said, in part:

“decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced.  The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true.  Mr. Cosby doesn’t not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment.”

Another accuser came forward yesterday with new allegations: on November 18, 2014, model Janice Dickinson spoke with Entertainment Tonight and accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in 1982, after giving her a glass of wine and a pill.

Mr. Cosby’s silence on the twelve women who have accused him of sexual assault thus far is deafening.

 

 

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The Little Person Inside

 

Hope, Passion, and Goals

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Talan Skeels-Piggins was severely injured in 2003 when a car
side-swiped him, ramming his motorbike head-on into traffic.

Left paralyzed from the mid chest down, Talan was told he had just a 30 percent chance of survival and would spend up to two years in hospital.  He was also told he would never walk again if he lived.  

Talan defied those expectations by being discharged from the hospital only six and a half months later.

Undaunted by his injuries, he set about to prove that being in a wheelchair would not stop him from doing what he wanted to do.

In less than a year, he had returned to his passion for skiing– in a specially adapted sit-ski.  Despite the numerous setbacks and personal tragedies, Talan raced down Vancouver’s Whistler Mountain at the Winter Paralympics in 2010– with a best result of 15th in the Giant Slalom only six years after learning how to ski again.

A shoulder injury forced him to retire from competitive skiing.  But Talan set himself to another goal:  to ride a motorcycle again.

No easy challenge, his next feat was not only to ride a motorcycle but to race one.  After a long battle with officials, he was finally granted his race license in 2011– the first paralyzed rider to ever do so.  He competed against able-bodied racers in bike Hill-Climbs, Sprints and Twisty Sprints and went on to make history by setting up the world’s first motorcycle training school for disabled motorcyclists.

“When I am riding I do not feel disabled, I feel free from my wheelchair,” Talan said.  “I enjoy the sense of excitement and independence just as I used to.”

Talan still continues to strap himself to a bike and take on his competitors in one of the most dangerous sports on the planet. 

He is also an advocate for the disabled to remain physically active in their lives, and a widely-sought inspirational speaker on the challenges of overcoming adversity through
perseverence, hope, and passion.  

Delivering talks on Wellness and Healthy Living to health care professionals throughout Europe, he has visited a number of the Spinal Units in the UK to show what opportunities still exist for someone who has been paralyzed, and giving his personal take on how he has managed his life, health, and well-being.  He also trains PE teachers how to include disabled pupils within mainstream PE programs and teaches both able-bodied and disabled students.

And his bike is still his passion.

“Getting to this point has been a struggle, but it’s been worth it.  I want to help other disabled motorcyclists and folks to have the fantastic feeling of being back on a bike, without the falls and setbacks I suffered,” he says.

Facing these challenges, Talan’s unique personality, never-say-die attitude, and his experience of triumph over adversity shows just how tough the human spirit can be.  And to this day he never fails to show his everpresent smile to everyone he meets along the way.

The next time you find yourself worrying about life’s little miseries and complaints, think about Talan.  Embrace what you have enjoyed and done– and what is still left to do.

 

 

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Slow Motion BMX

 

Capturing the Moves

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

What goes up must come down.  Slowly.

Devin Graham, aka DevinSupertramp, dug deep into his bag of high-tech trickery and equipment for another superb action video.

This time, Devin and his team used a spectacular Phantom Miro camera to capture BMX jumps and flips in 1000 frames-per-second glory footage.

Adding an extra dimension to the video, it certainly multiplies the cool factor of the Red Bull BMX Rodeo riders dancing footloose through the air without a care, showing us their high-energy biking skills and awesome tricks in slow motion.

 

 

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Sound Meets Matter

 

Nigel Stanford’s Cymatics

 

A Unique Music Video

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Audio frequencies meet physics.  Who knew?

Sound makes funny shapes.  We don’t usually see it in real life.  But when you put together water and sand and flames with speakers bumping at different frequencies, you’ll start seeing spirals and kaleidoscopes and other wild objects.

This new video by electronic music artist Nigel Stanford and directed by Shahir Daud features all those awesome things in action.

Cymatics, inspired by synesthesia and created for Stanford’s new album “Solar Echoes,” uses technology to illustrate the physics of sound.

Using a variety of tech– from plasma balls to Tesla coils, chladni plates and ferro fluid– Stanford created some truly awesome visual representations of music.

What’s even more impressive about the Cymatics project? 
The music was created after the video was made.

 

 

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Alive

 

Blackfeet Tribe Thought Rez Drug Abuse Story ‘Needed to Be Told’

 

Staff Pick **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Welsh filmmaker Josh Cole’s Alive is about drug use, crime and ceremony on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

It inspired a tremendous reaction from Indian country:  some viewers praised the clip for its tale of drug abuse on the Rez and spiritual redemption; others felt it was exploitative and disrespectful of the ceremonies it depicts.

Cole filmed the video on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, and worked with Blackfeet tribal members during the course of its creation.

A reformed drug addict himself, Cole has followed stories around the world where the worst drug abuse is common.  He feels it’s his mission through his films to try to steer people into recovery– as a thanks to those that helped him with his own addiction.

Shocked to hear stories about the reservations, he started researching and putting together a story based on the stuff he was told about.  “All my work is about the beauty that comes from hardship, and I wanted to tell the story of the spiritual awakening of a drug addict in a Native American community,” Cole says.

Several members of The Crazy Dogs Society in Browning are reformed alcoholics and they connected with Cole’s concept.   It was basically their own story, too, they said, and they regularly help those with addictions through ceremony on
the Rez.

Cole met with several community leaders of the Tribal Council and the Cultural Attaché of the Blackfeet Nation.  They gave him their blessing; he was allowed to shoot anywhere in Blackfeet territory.

The community basically backed the project, Cole says.

 “We were repeatedly told by various people how much they thought this story needed to be told.  I feel I could return there any time with my head held high,” he said.

“I’m also told the film has been very well received by people living not only on the Blackfeet Reservation but also on other reservations.   It still moves me when I think how much the people of Browning came together to help.”

Still, some scenes were controversial at first and taken into consideration.  Cole says:

“I was extremely sensitive when talking to the Crazy Dogs about the ceremonies and always said that we could shoot an alternative scene.

They spent a day or so discussing it with all members and they decided collectively they wanted the scene to be in the film.  They felt like they wanted it to be shown and I gave them many opportunities to make sure they were happy.  It meant a lot to me that they wanted to show this to the world.

They told me that they wanted to use the video to help to heal the youth of the Blackfeet Nation.  I should also say we didn’t film an actual ceremony — both the sweat lodge scene and the Sundance scene were mock ceremonies set up by the Crazy Dogs themselves to their exact specifications.

I had no control whatsoever over the look or sequence of the scene, nor did I want it.  I also had no interest in filming an actual ceremony — at every step of the process I was led by the
advice of the Crazy Dogs. 

I am ever grateful for that as I was led by a much greater knowledge than my own, as I am with most of my work.”

How does Cole respond to those critics sensitive to his portrayal?

He had this to say:

“I believe my portrayal of Browning is not negative.  It is ultimately a story of redemption and shows the elders of the community coming around the boy to heal him.

If you don’t show the darkness in a realistic way the young people I’m trying to reach will not take it seriously.  However, there is an element of drama as I want all my work to reach the masses, but it is always subverted as I believe I have done here.

You have to remember that in the States the concept of Native Americans living in severe poverty is old news, but in Europe people have no idea.  None!

I think this is something people here should know about.  So this video serves a dual purpose – to show Europeans some of the conditions on reservations and also to give a Native community an opportunity to show both its darkness and its beauty.

I want to thank again the Blackfeet Nation and the Crazy Dogs Society for all the love we were shown.”

 ~Via Josh Cole, Indian Country Today,
Vimeo, Evan Zimmer/Calvert Hall

 

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Struggling to Get By In a Cold, Cold World

 

Empathy Deficit Disorder

 

**VIDEO**

 

Robert Reich
Robert Reich.org

 

 

Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality.

“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said.  Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.”

Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in America – almost twice the national average, and a leading cause of death in Alaska for young people ages 15 to 24 — but I doubt it’s because Alaskans lead excessively easy lives.

Every time I visit Alaska I’m struck by how hard people there have to work to make ends meet.  The state is the last American frontier, where people seem more self-reliant than anywhere in the lower forty eight.  

It’s true that every Alaskan receives an annual dividend from a portion of state oil revenues– this year it will be almost $2,000 per person– but research shows no correlation between the amount of the dividend from year to year and the suicide rate.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy for those driven to it and for their loved ones.  What possessed Congressman Young to turn it into a political football?

Young has since apologized for his remark.  Or, more accurately, his office has apologized.  “Congressman Young did not mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message,” says a news release from his congressional office, “and in light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”

Well-intentioned?  More sensitive approach?

Young’s comment would be offensive regardless of who uttered it.  That he’s a member of the United States Congress– Alaska’s sole representative in the House– makes it downright alarming.

You might expect someone who’s in the business of representing others to have a bit more empathy.  In fact, you’d think empathy would be the minimum qualification to hold public office in a democracy.

Sadly, Young is hardly alone.  A remarkable number of people who are supposed to be devoting their lives to representing others seem clueless about how their constituents actually live and what they need.

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie groused to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage.”  No doubt some in the audience shared Christie’s view.  It was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, after all.

But many of the Governor’s constituents are not tired of hearing about the minimum wage.  They depend on it.  New Jersey has among the largest number of working poor in America.  Some 50,000 people work for the state’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.

This isn’t nearly enough to lift them out of poverty.  The state’s cost of living is one of the five highest of all states.  

In any event, doesn’t hearing from constituents about what they need go with the job of representing them?

Christie went on to tell his audience “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’  Is that what parents aspire to?”

A minimum-wage job is no one’s version of the American dream.  But Christie is wrong to suppose most minimum-wage workers are teenagers.  Most are adults who are major breadwinners for their families.

Christie seems to suffer the same ailment that afflicts Alaska’s Don Young.

Call it Empathy Deficit Disorder.  Some Democrats have it, but the disorder seems especially widespread among Republicans.  These politicians have no idea what people who are hard up in America are going through.

Most Americans aren’t suicidal, and most don’t work at the minimum wage.  But many are deeply anxious about their jobs and panicked about how they’re going to pay next month’s bills.

Almost two-thirds of working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  And they’re worried sick about whether their kids will ever make it.  They need leaders who understand their plight instead of denying it.  

They deserve politicians who want to fix it rather than blame it on those who have to depend on public assistance, or who need a higher minimum wage, in order to get by.

At the very least, they need leaders who empathize with what they’re going through, not those with Empathy Deficit Disorder.

By Robert Reich, October 27, 2014.
Images and Videos by the Humboldt Sentinel
Posted by Skippy Massey

 

 

 

 

An economist, Dr. Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

He also served on President Obama’s transition advisory board. His latest book is Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future. His new film Inequality for All is now available on iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

* * * * * * * * * *

 

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Post Apocalypse

 

 

Greetings from the Last Survivor on Earth

 

A Sci-Fi Short Film

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, Leila is the only human survivor.  

Raised by robots after humans abandoned and destroyed the planet with nuclear warfare, Leila cannot forget her parents or her quest to find other life.  Setting out on a hunt with a Military Unit named Marker, Leila is soon to discover the reality she’s been denied– a reality that sparks her ultimate journey.

Plug is the directorial debut from renowned designer and concept artist, David Levy (Tron Legacy, Prometheus, Ender’s Game, Tomorrowland, Avatar 2).

This short film is the first 15 minutes of a science fiction concept series Levy has in mind for television.  Unlike the highly VFX science fiction films greeting audiences today, Plug is a more of a return to some of the 1970′s classics like Star Wars and Mad Max, and with a gritty universe made from live props and filmed in real-life settings.

In the end there will be no big Armageddon, just an endless procession of little apocaplyptic ones.  Please don’t wake us up for the end of the world– unless it has very good special effects.

 

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Way Too Many

 

 

Recycle Your Electronics the Right Way:

Here’s How

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Agbogbloshie, Ghana, is the location of one of the worst E-waste dumpsites in the world.

An electronic recycling company named Gizmogul has built their business model centered on recycling these E-wastes responsibly and easily.

Gizmogul was started in 2013 by three brothers from Boston, Mass. (Cory, 23, Barry, 29, Stephen, 32).  They wanted to create a niche electronic recycling business that spoke to their generation.  Gizmogul is a “cool” recycling company with a philanthropic attitude.  They pay people fairly for their material while making a positive impact on the community.

Gizmogul has teamed up with African Outreach to help fund a primary school in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, and provide the school with educational tools and programming, economic support for the teachers, and building a library and computer lab there.

All donated electronics will be recycled responsibly by Gizmogul.  Devices that can be refurbished will be reintroduced into the secondary market; electronics that are damaged beyond repair will be properly recycled through a certified R2 program. 

So far, they’ve properly recycled 134,200 electronic components to date, but there’s still a long way to go.

The brothers says they pay more than 2-3 times (200-300%) for recyclable consumer electronics than any of their competitors.  That is because their business has grown organically without having to spend millions of dollars in marketing and branding, allowing them to pass along savings directly to the consumer.

Electronic waste MUST be recycled, otherwise it ends up in the trash and the hazardous materials inside different components end up in the environment.  And if it is recycled, it should be done so with the utmost care and concern.

The amazing thing is, everything has value.  And Gizmogul collects it all. They not only purchase cellular phones, but computers, computer components, tablets, cables, televisions, LCD’s, gaming devices, and most everything electronic you can think of.

If you’d like to donate your electronics and ensure they are recycled properly– and not shipped overseas to a hazardous dumpsite– fill out the Gizmogul form for a free FedEx shipping label to send them your devices.

You don’t even have to leave the house:

Fill out the easy form.
Receive your free FedEx shipping label.
Drop off your package at any FedEx location.

And it’s done.

 

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A Town Called Trona

 

 

Life in the Desert

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Trona, California is known by few.

Those who have ventured to its hot and barren landscape arrive with the feeling that they’ve left the Earth for some sort of hell-like desert planet on the far side of a distant galaxy, too close to its sun to even remotely harbor life.

It does get hot.  Temperatures during the Trona summer consistently range well over 100 degrees.  The asphalt melts into oozy goo sticking to the bottom of your shoes and bicycle tires; sometimes gloves are required opening your car door. 

Shade is in short supply.  Everyone has an air conditioner, staying indoors during the sweltering heat of day.  Plants rarely survive here.  No one has a vegetable garden or fruit trees; things just don’t grow well.  The area sees about 4 inches of rain a year if they’re lucky.

In the winter, it dips down to freezing.

Few drink the water.  It tastes like a fine mix of desert alkali, minerals, metal, salt, and with a slight touch of urine.  It can also be a dusty place when the sand devils blow through in circles, sending their fine-flour silica silt into every crevice and crack imaginable.

Trona is located in the Greater Mojave Desert, near Death Valley.  Its main feature is Searles Lake, a now-dry Pleistocene lake formed during the Ice Ages and containing a plethora of sodium and potassium minerals of the carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide classes, due to the long sedimentation and evaporation processes occurring over a period of 150,000 years.

The main industry of the town is mining.  Specifically, Borax.  Later, soda ash.  Back in the day 20-mule teams hauled the stuff to the railroad station 30 miles away for market.

A main residential street existed for a while, called “Tent City” because of the tent-type houses that the residents lived in back then.  Around 1916 a few real houses were built for the upper management employees and their families, and the town grew.  Very, very slowly.  It has about 1,800 folks living on the shores of the dry flat lakebed today.

There’s not much to do.  Oh, there’s a library, a community swimming pool, a brown-sand golf course and more than a few churches.  Pretty much, you work.  You can smell the sulfurous fumes of the town before you actually get there, courtesy of the main employer, Searles Valley Minerals, Inc.  The local school, home of the Trona Tornadoes, plays on a dirt football field because the searing heat and highly saline soil kills the grass.  They get teased by visiting sports teams who say ‘Smell you later’ when leaving the place.

They filmed a movie here, Planet of the Apes, set amidst the desert sandstone pinnacles and the tufa mounds of calcium carbonate.  Charles Manson & his girls made Trona their home back during the 1960s, Charlie for some reason saying “he wanted to take over that town.”

There’s not a lot for kids to do.  They do what other kids do.  Play sports, explore the mountains, ride bikes, get stoned, party in the hills, have sex.  For fun, they drive the 170 miles to see the big city and bright lights of LA.  Trona is known for its isolation and insular desolation.

There’s 162 kids at the high school.  After graduation, they leave.

Such is desert life. 

The Chamber of Commerce says, ‘The small desert town of Trona holds a lot of history and offers modern living at an affordable price.” 

And that’s about it.

 

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Make Stuff

 

Mac Premo’s Reflections in a Carved Nutshell

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Mac Premo, b. 1973.

American artist and stuffmaker.  Graduate of Rhode Island School of Design ’95.

Exhibited art in NYC, LA, Miami, DC and Belfast, Northern Ireland.  His fine art, sculpture, and collage is represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery in NYC.

Mac has won 7 New York Emmy® Awards, including awards for best commercial, best photography, best set design and best PSA.

He currently makes art, illustration, commercials and dinner, at least most nights.  He swears from time to time emphasizing a point.

Mac is active in the New York community: he serves on the board of the Friends of Douglass Greene Park, a community organization working for the revitalization of Thomas Greene Park in Brooklyn and is a 2008 fellow from the NY Foundation for the Arts.

He likes nature, society, science, emotional data (whatever that is), archaic objects, and oh, he definitely loves getting his wood on.  He also likes to reflect on life, wonders about death, and worries about the fine balance between making art and making money.  He gets angry about shit.

Mac lives in Brooklyn with his wife and totally rad daughters.  And he made The Dumpster Project (with a lot of help from some really good folks).

 

 

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Share No More

 

90-Year-Old Florida Man Faces Jail
for Feeding the Homeless

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently joined more than 30 cities that have restricted or are taking steps to restrict sharing food with the homeless.  But one Good Samaritan, Arnold Abbott, says he plans to keep breaking the law by feeding the homeless.

 

Late last month, the city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., passed a series of laws that restricted where organizations could feed the homeless.

On Sunday, when a 90-year-old man received a citation in Stranahan Park, the effects of these new laws came into full view.

Arnold Abbott, who is ordered to appear in court, says that hundreds of homeless people had gathered in the park and then police arrived.  

Police issued court orders to him and two members of the clergy, who were handing out food.  He says he faces a maximum of a $500 fine and two months in jail.

During his arrest, onlookers were outraged and shouted ‘shame on you!’ to Fort Lauderdale officers.  At one point an officer yelled at Abbott to ‘drop that plate right now!’ as if it were a dangerous weapon.

Abbott put up his food-gloved hands to calm and quiet the crowd as he was quietly led away by the officers.

“These are the poorest of the poor, they have nothing, they don’t have a roof over their heads.  How do you turn them away?”Abbott told NBC News.  “I don’t do things to purposefully aggravate the situation.  I’m trying to work with the city.  Any human has the right to help his fellow man.”

Also cited were two Christian ministers — Dwayne Black, pastor of The Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale, and Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.

In 1999, Mr. Abbott sued the City of Fort Lauderdale after he was banned from feeding the homeless on the beach.  A court ruled that such a law was against the Constitution. 

The new regulations require groups to be at least 500 feet away from residential properties and food sites are
restricted to one per city block, but various charities have
criticized the rules as forms of social cleansing.

Mr. Abbott is a longtime advocate of the downtrodden.  He says he has been feeding the homeless at a local beach for more than 20 years, and founded his organization, Love Thy Neighbor, in 1991.  He says he will return to that beach tonight– and expects a repeat of Sunday’s interaction with police.

“After I was cited, I took everybody over to a church parking lot,” he says in a phone interview.  “We did feed everybody.  It wasn’t a complete waste.”

Mayor Jack Seiler, who was unavailable for an interview by press time, told the Sun Sentinel that providing homeless people with a meal perpetuates a “cycle of homeless” in Fort Lauderdale.

“Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive,” Seiler said.

David Raymond, who served for nine years as executive director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, said last month that limiting outdoor food service could make sense.  Food, he said, should connect homeless people with other services.  And he noted the tensions that can occur when those providing food bring homeless people periodically to the same place, which can hurt area businesses.

One of the recent laws passed in Fort Lauderdale, aiming to mitigate this tension, will require volunteers to bring portable toilets to all food distribution events.

These rules, Abbott says, are “ridiculous.”

“They’re doing everything in the world,” he says, “to rid the area of homeless persons.”

The National Coalition for the Homeless released a report last month called “Share No More,” listing more than 30 cities that have restricted or are taking steps to restrict food-sharing programs.  The report also aims to correct assumptions about food sharing.  To the coalition, a lack of affordable housing, few job opportunities and disability perpetuate homelessness more than food-sharing programs do.

Other cities that have attempted to restrict, ban, or relocate food-sharing programs are Denver, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, according to the report.

Rules that restrict organizations from feeding the homeless, Abbott says, show a lack of common sense among legislators.  Without outdoor feedings, homeless people would need to resort to digging through dumpsters or similar drastic measures, he says.

“This I don’t want to happen,” he says.

“I will continue fighting, I will promise you that. I will not let up.”

  ~Via Christian Science Monitor, Broward-Palm Beach New Times,
    Sun Sentinel, UK Daily Mail, and YouTube

 

 

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The Ambition of the Rosetta Mission

 

The European Space Agency Gambles Big

 

**Award-Winning Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Ambition really took us by surprise.

Made in collaboration by the European Space Agency (ESA)—the European equivalent of NASA—it is remarkably unlike any other film NASA has ever done for its own space missions.

It is definitely something out of the ordinary: a big-budget-style sci-fi movie directed by Tomek Baginski with famous actors, such as Aidan Gillen of Game of Thrones fame, and a subtle yet powerful message relating to the Rosetta mission.

On November 12th, something spectacular will happen in space history.  The Rosetta spacecraft, launched back in 2004, will drop its Lander onto the surface of comet 67P. 

Part of what has been so impressive is the length of time this mission has taken to finally get to the comet– 20 years since the planning began, and ten years since its launch.

It is a complex mission.  Rosetta could not head straight for the comet.  The remarkable feat of the Rosetta spacecraft is that it has been ping-ponging its way through the solar system, beginning a series of looping orbits around the Sun that brought it back for three Earth fly-bys and one Mars fly-by.  The mathematical calculations alone were mind boggling.  

Each time, the spacecraft changed its velocity and direction as it extracted energy from the gravitational field of Earth or Mars and then spiraled out on different trajectories to eventually meet up with comet 67P– a decade later.

Rosetta, reaching the bizarrely shaped rubber-duck icy comet, has spent the last three months mapping its surface in the hope of finding a suitable spot to place its Lander. 

It is the first time a spacecraft has entered into orbit around a comet, which is a celestial body formed during the Big Bang– and with almost no gravity.

The Philae Lander– packed with a science laboratory, harpoons, scrapers, computers, and even ovens – will obtain samples, do analyses, and beam the information back to the earth about the basic origins of the universe.  The hope is that Rosetta mission will help answer some of the most basic questions about our existence.

When the Lander touches down seven hours after its release on November 12, all manner of things can go wrong.  The gravity of 67P is so small the Lander could hit the surface, bounce off and be lost in the vast emptiness of space.

Rosetta is truly a milestone of mankind’s achievement.  And, in order to succeed, it’s a mission taking a true amount of… Ambition.

~Via ESA, Vimeo, PhyOrg

 

If you enjoyed this film, you may like our other post:  Genesis

 

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The Road to Wolfeboro

 

A Photographer’s Maturing Journey

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.  It requires the ability
of judgment and the severe discipline of hard work, with the
tempering heat of experience and maturity.

From the bustling concrete jungle of New York, photographer Brian Gaberman found authenticity and legitimacy in his pioneering skateboard portraiture.

Brian began his journey as a staff photographer at Slap magazine in San Francisco in the 1990s and, with one eye set on the horizon and the other looking to the traditions of his craft, he’s been breaking new ground ever since.

Brian since struck out from the city to lead a more self-sufficient life on a Northern California farm, where he lives with his family.  In forging this path, he’s had to adapt to new responsibilities without forgetting where he came from.

“My life on the road is the polar opposite of my life at home,” reflects Brian.

“I realized that my whole life revolves around the process of adjusting and readjusting to being a travelling photographer one day, and a husband, father, farmer, artist, etc., the next.”

Now, making the pilgrimage to the rural small town sanctuary of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Gaberman has found a new emphasis in nature, artistic freedom, and the beauty of simple living.  Wolfeboro became Gaberman’s own personal spot of serenity and, for 10 days, a place to call home.

Gaberman has evolved from a great photographer to an outstanding artist, implementing his unique form of art, tediously reviving antiquated photographic techniques through the use of wet and dry plate glass negatives, colloidal silver, etched framing, and capturing the seasonal goods.

Always found with his camera slung around his neck, Brian’s career has been a journey toward maturity through his many years of photography. 

His work, and the above video, will be presented in The Road To Wolfeboro exhibition, a European tour with showings in Barcelona, Lisbon, and London in November and December.

‘Age’ is the acceptance of the years.  But maturity is the confidence, accomplishment, experience and the beauty that shines forth from those growing years.

 

 

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Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be… Militants

 

 

Poster Kid Jihadists

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, left the Austrian capital Vienna in April this year, leaving a note for their parents explaining that they had gone to fight in Syria, a decision believed to be influenced by their recent radicalization through a local mosque. 

But they later claimed that they wanted to leave and come back to Austria– reportedly infuriating ISIS leaders waging a constant propaganda war for new talent.

 

Two Austrian teenage girls who ran away to Syria to join Islamic State fighters are beginning to regret their decision.  Unnamed security service insiders told Austrian media that the girls have managed to contact families and that one of them wants to go home.

The pair left home to join the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) in April.

Little information was immediately known, aside from that one had been 16 and one 14 at the time of their departure.

Both reportedly married Chechen fighters after their arrival in Syria and became pregnant.

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend, Sabina Selimovic, 15, are children of Bosnian migrants, but grew up in Vienna, where they became accustomed to talking to whomever they wanted, saying whatever they pleased, and wearing whatever clothes they liked.

But with their views believed to have become increasingly radical in recent years, Kesinovic and Selimovic decided to leave all that behind, run away, and cross the Turkish border into Syria, a decision believed to be influenced through the internet and their recent introduction to a local mosque. 

After the girls were persuaded to leave the country, police managed to track them to the Turkish border.  They believe that they went by car into the war zone where they were married to extremists and then sent out to fight.   They then regularly posted status updates on social media from Syria.

On their departure from Austria, they left a note, telling their parents: “Don’t look for us.  We will serve Allah – and we will die for him.”

Since their departure, pictures have emerged online of the pair brandishing Kalashnikov rifles and wearing full niqab clothing.

For weeks, social media accounts believed to belong to the girls have been posting pictures and information leading
many to feel they enjoyed living a life of terror. 

Sabina first claimed she was pregnant, then retracted it and said she wanted to go home to Vienna – until she gave another interview and expressed how much she loved Syria.  Samra has also given conflicting reports on her condition and whether she actually enjoys her time with ISIS in Syria.

Austrian anti-terrorism police said that an interview given to a French magazine allegedly with one of the two teenage girls was probably carried out at gunpoint.  They believe this was a plan set up by ISIS in order to get people to think the two wanted to be the poster girls for jihad in Syria, and that their social media accounts were overtaken and manipulated by ISIS.

“It is clear that whoever is operating their pages, it probably is not the girls, and that they are being used for propaganda,” a security expert told the Austrian Times.

An Austrian security insider said: “If they really want it to be believable that the girls are now claiming they don’t want to come home, they should let them give the interview on neutral territory where it’s possible to see that they aren’t being threatened by a gun.  If the claim they want to come home is untrue, they have the opportunity to walk back into Syria.”

Both the girls were instantly married as soon as they crossed over the border into Syria and although Sabina and her husband initially lived in the same room with Samra and her husband, the 15-year-old has now reportedly moved out into a new flat.

Speaking over SMS text messages to French weekly magazine Paris Match, Sabina said she was not pregnant as had been claimed and added that she was really enjoying life in Syria and felt free to enjoy her religion in a way that she did not in Austria.

The magazine did manage to confirm that the teenager had only been allowed to speak to them with the permission of her husband who was also reportedly in the room as she wrote back answers to the questions.

She said that after arriving to Turkey from Austria they had crossed over the border into Syria on foot and ended up in the city of Rakka and where they had nothing other than the clothes they were wearing.

Sabina said her “husband” was a soldier and added: “Here I can really be free.  I can practice my religion.  I couldn’t do that in Vienna.”

In Vienna, experts who studied the transcript of the interview said it was almost certain that the teenager had been forced to speak to the magazine by her husband, who was a fighter in the ISIS-terrorist militia.

Asked about the routine of life in a war zone and how they started the day, Sabina said:  ”I like to eat. The food here is very similar to Austria even if it’s mainly halal food.  But you can get ketchup here, Nutella, and cornflakes.”

Interpol released images of the two girls in April, after they disappeared. Both sets of parents have been attempting to make contact and unconfirmed reports have stated that communication has been established.

Both are still believed to be in Rakka, in northern Syria.  According to the Vienna-based newspaper Österreich, Samra wants to return home as the horrors of Syria “have become too much.”

The story of the plight of the girls went around the world once it became known.  The pair wanting to leave had done a lot of damage to the ISIS campaign, experts said, and it was clear ISIS leaders were irritated and trying to limit the damage control to their own advantage.

Speaking to the Österreich, an official with the home office said that escaping Isis in Syria “after such a long time” would be extremely difficult.

The newspaper, which is known for its close links both to the security services and the children’s families, says that death is a “constant companion” for the girls.

There is some hope for women wishing to flee ISIS, however.  In recent days, a Syrian woman fled from the group back to Turkey.

But the two young girls may find attempts to come back difficult.  Austria’s laws bar citizens from returning once they have joined a foreign war, and the two could face prosecution.

“The main problem is about people coming back to Austria.  Once they leave it is almost impossible to return,” said Karl-Heinz Grundboeck, a spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry.

In total, around 130 Austrian nationals are believed to have left the country and become foreign fighters for ISIS.  Many more have come from other countries throughout Europe as well.

~Via UK Independent, CEN, MK Independent,
NY Daily News, and RT Today

 

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The Incredible Amazing Flying Car

 

It’s Here.  It’s Real.  And It’s Spectacular.

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Up, up and away.

Meet the AeroMobil 3.0, a car and plane hybrid that its inventors say will revolutionize the transportation industry.

The flying car weighs just 880 pounds and has a flying range of 435 miles– making a trip between San Francisco to Los Angeles in one easy hop.

The prototype and video seen above was unveiled by the AeroMobil company at a technology conference in Vienna,
Austria, yesterday.

It has a sportscar cockpit and dragonfly wings.  It can drive on the road, park in the garage, and take to the skies in short order.  It does not need a paved runway for takeoff or landing. 

Its inventor, Juraj Vaculik, says he’s been working on the project for the past 30 years and his dream of offering a fully functional flying car in production is almost a reality. 

Vaculik is one interesting CEO cat.  He was a former theatre director and a student activist in Czecheslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, before turning himself into an inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur.

“Our plan, the optimistic one, is that between 2016 and 2017 the first products will be delivered to customers, but that’s still an open question.  The next period will be testing, testing, and testing of the prototype,” Vaculik said.

The AeroMobil 3.0 contains advanced plastic composite materials for the body shell, wings, and its wheels.  It also contains avionics equipment, autopilot capability, and will have an advanced parachute deployment system.  Other proprietary details are being kept secretly mum for the time being.

The magical flying car still has to meet regulatory standards and gain European flight certification.  

The current prototype has wings that fold out to a span of 26 feet for flight.  Running on standard gasoline, it flies at 125 mph, consuming only two gallons of gas for every 62 miles traveled.  It had a successful maiden flight and was developed in ten months by a team of 12 people.

The two-passenger car was designed by Stefan Klein, founder and head of the Department of Transport Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia. 

In 2010, he teamed with Vaculik to start AeroMobil and commercialize the project.   In 2013, a previous prototype of the car was certified by Slovakia’s Aviation Authority for use in that country.  The latest prototype is now undergoing testing for certification in Slovakia, and the company says it’s close to being commercially available.

The company wants to use the latest version to begin marketing the product.  Of course, they believe commuters would love to get their hands on one.  But on a bigger scale, they are aiming the flying car at developing markets where there is minimal infrastructure like roads, highways, or airports.

Vaculik says the machine’s sleek design is as much about form as it is about function.  He insists that when the final production is ready for consumers, it will soon change
the way people travel.

“No, it’s not a boy toy.  It’s not something strange just for Hollywood movies… it is something which is really necessary for transportation.  It’s just more efficient,” Vuculik said.  “We think it’s time to make transportation much more emotional and more personal.  You really can travel simply from point A to B.”

Giving people the option to take to the air and avoid increasingly congested roadways makes for an interesting idea, alright.

Flora Petersen came from Vienna for the unveiling and to see what all the aerocar hype was about.

“I love it!” Petersen said.  “I didn’t even know it was possible, that you can actually make a car fly, so I really wanted to see how it works.  I want to try it out, for sure.”

And she may get her chance soon.

The biggest challenge going forward for Vaculik’s team is reducing the amount of runway needed for the little aerocar to take off.  It currently needs a safe takeoff distance of 220 yards– a distance that’s hard to come by in the everyday urban landscape.  Contrastly, it only needs a length of 50 yards for a safe landing.

But Vaculik is confident.  The prototype works beautifully.  It flies, it’s safe, it’s efficient, and although the price hasn’t been determined or disclosed yet, it looks like it’s going to be a relatively affordable number for many.

Hold onto your seats and buckle up.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride in the friendly and
crowded skies of everyday commuting soon. 

 

 

 

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Pour Some Sugar On Me

 
 

HBO’s John Oliver

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Tomorrow, America’s children will collectively binge on the sugary sweetness of Halloween candy.

John Oliver used his platform on Last Week Tonight to marvel at our country’s sugar consumption and the politics behind it.

Sugar.  It’s in everything.  Is it good for you?  Well, the sugar industry thinks so.

How much sugar are you eating?  Odds are you don’t know, and as John Oliver pointed out, “it’s because food makers are doing their best to make sure you never find out.”

Oliver could have gone the route of mocking American consumers for their eating habits of a whopping 75 pounds of sugar annually and likening it to cocaine, but instead criticizes the denial of food industry representatives, who insist, against all evidence, that sugar does not cause obesity and diabetes.

“Asking what causes obesity is a bit like asking who killed a first-grade class’s hamster,” says Oliver. “Sure, they all killed it in a way, but I think we all know one of them killed it the most.”

Most food and beverage makers are fighting the proposed inclusion of an added sugars label on food packages.  And, if there is a label, they don’t want sugars listed in teaspoons.  They want it in grams, which Oliver says is because no one knows what a gram is.

Some of Oliver’s points about added sugars are slightly befuddled– for instance, he calls out Clamato (that’s the concoction of clam and tomato juice, if you’re unfamiliar with the stuff) as having 11 grams of sugar per serving– although part of those 11 grams is naturally occurring sugar from tomato concentrate, not ‘added’ sugar.

But the gist of Oliver’s argument is spot on.  And he’s at his entertaining best when he’s colorfully insulting the flavor of various foods:  Necco Wafers are “coagulated dust,” and cranberries “taste like cherries who hate you.”

As for Circus Peanuts—well, let’s not spoil Oliver’s description of Circus Peanuts.  See it for yourself, above.

Pour Some Sugar On Me.  Happy Halloween, all.  Be safe and healthy.

 

 

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Solving the Mystery of Amelia Earhart

 

Metal Fragment of Amelia’s Plane Found

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

What happened to Amelia is an unsolved mystery that has captivated
the world’s attention after she disappeared 77 years ago.

A fragment of Amelia Earhart’s lost aircraft has been identified to a high degree of certainty for the first time ever since her plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

Researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) announced that a piece of famous flyer Amelia Earhart’s missing plane was found in Nikumaroro, a tiny uninhabited island along the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, midway between Hawaii and Australia.

This fragment of Earhart’s vanished aircraft is the first piece of information about how she crashed while on a fateful expedition to circumnavigate the Earth.  She never accomplished the goal and her disappearance has been a mystery ever since.

TIGHAR posted a photo of the 19-inch-wide by 23-inch-long piece of a metal portion patch installed near the window of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra during the aviator’s eight-day stay in Miami in 1937, the fourth stop on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

The aluminum patch had replaced a navigational window.  A Miami Herald photo shows the Electra departing for San Juan, Puerto Rico on the morning of Tuesday, June 1, 1937 with a shiny patch of metal where the window had been.

Researchers found the piece in 1991, but had not identified the piece to the plane until comparing it to a Lockheed Electra aircraft in Wichita Air Services in Newtown, Kansas.  The rivet pattern and other features on the Nikumaroro artifact, labeled Artifact 2-2-V-1, matched the patch and lined up with the structural components of the Lockheed Electra, TIGHAR said on its website.

The patch found in the Pacific was a “complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual,” according to TIGHAR.

After the pilot and plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, a wide array of conspiracy theories sprouted.  This new discovery debunks any theory that Earhart and Fred Noonan, her navigator, made it across the Pacific Ocean.

TIGHAR hypothesized that the duo made a forced emergency landing along the smooth flat coral reef of Nikumaroro after their fuel supply ran out 350 miles before
their next pit stop on Howland Island.  

The two likely died as castaways with limited resources.  Other evidence also supports this account of what happened.

The breakthrough would prove that, contrary to what was generally believed, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, did not crash in the Pacific Ocean or were taken prisoner by Japanese military forces as spies.

In 10 archaeological expeditions to Nikumaroro, Gillespie and his team uncovered a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence.

“Earhart sent radio distress calls for at least five nights before the Electra was washed into the ocean by rising tides and surf,” Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, said

“This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart,” Gillespie said. 

“The many fractures, tears, dents and gouges found on this battered sheet of aluminum may be important clues to the fate and resting place of the Electra.”

Previous research on a photograph of Nikumaroro’s western shoreline taken three months after Earhart’s disappearance also revealed an unexplained object protruding from the water on the fringing reef.

Forensic imaging analyses of the photo suggested that the shape and dimension of the object are consistent with the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra.

Moreover, an “anomaly” that might possibly be the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft emerged from analysis of the sonar imagery captured off Nikumaroro during TIGHAR’s last expedition.

The object rests at a depth of 600 feet at the base of a cliff just offshore where, according to TIGHAR, the Electra was washed into the ocean. An analysis of the anomaly by Ocean Imaging Consultants, Inc. of Honolulu, experts in post-processing sonar data, revealed the anomaly to be the right size and shape to be the fuselage of Earhart’s aircraft.

The organization will now travel to Nikumaroro in 2015 to conduct further exploration in the area searching for other pieces of Earhart’s wreckage.  TIGHAR believes that partial remains of the Electra are likely buried deep off the west end of the island and will investigate the anomaly with Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology.

During the 24-day expedition, divers will search for other wreckage at shallower depths and an onshore search team will seek to identify objects detected in historical photographs that may be relics of an initial survival camp.

“Funding is being sought, in part, from individuals who will make a substantial contribution in return for a place on the expedition team,” Gillespie said.

The mystery as to what happened to Amelia may soon be at hand.

~Via LA Post, My Way, Fox News, Vimeo, TIGHAR

 

 

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