Author Archives: Kestrel

Hyphens?

Amazon is no stranger to independent publishing drama. But when it pulled books in the past, it at least purported to have some sort of legitimate reason. In the case of High Moor 2: Moonstruck (the story of one werewolf gang’s quest to keep its existence hidden and the extreme lengths to which it goes to protect its deadly secret) that reason appears to be… hyphens.

According to author Graeme Reynolds, Amazon removed High Moor 2 from its digital shelves because of the novel’s 90,000 total words, 100 were hyphenated. Apparently that is too many? A solid 18 months and 123 (largely positive!) reviews after the book’s initial release, Reynolds claims to have received an email from Amazon that claims his excessive use of itty bitty dashes “significantly impacts the readability of [his] book.” When Reynolds emailed Amazon back to express his bewilderment at the situation, Amazon explained that he was free to republish his novel “once he corrected the hyphenated words.”

Terror attack in Dijon.

Islamic convert, 40, facing terrorism charges after he mows down 13 people in his car while shouting ‘God is greatest’ in Arabic in French city of Dijon

How did they do it? … It didn’t require a bunch of young hackers.

The hackers said sympathetic employees let them into the building. Lena told The Verge, “Sony doesn’t lock their doors, physically, so we worked with other staff with similar interests to get in.”

We don’t know if these employees were knowingly helping hackers or tricked into helping.

The hackers reportedly stole a key password from someone in IT. US investigators told CNN the hackers stole the computer credentials of a system administrator, which gave them broad access to Sony’s computer systems. …

I think the best way to kill it is to enforce it explicitly as written.

Republicans on and off Capitol Hill are rallying behind using a rarely deployed budget tool next year to dismantle ObamaCare.

But the issue of how to use “budget reconciliation” has divided Republicans, with some calling for it to be implemented to overhaul the tax code or to push through major energy reforms.

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The tool is useful because it could allow newly empowered Senate Republicans to pass legislation with a 51-vote simple majority rather than the usual 60, greatly increasing the chances of moving legislation to President Obama’s desk.

And while Obama is certain to veto anything that tries to roll back his landmark healthcare law, Republicans increasingly see reconciliation as an important messaging tool to help paint a contrast with Democrats on ObamaCare ahead of 2016.

“My guidance is that’s where members are headed,” said one senior Senate Republican aide familiar with the behind-the-scenes budget discussions.

Oh goodie …

Government fuels next housing collapse with unstable mortgages

Nobody wants to return to the kind of risky home loans that spurred 2008’s banking collapse. Sliding back toward lax lending would be nuts.

Yet Washington officially endorsed such loans this month.

Federally controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they’ll back loans to low-income Americans who put just 3% down, even though such loans have a high default rate.

The risky mortgage program has the blessing of Federal Housing Finance Agency chief Mel Watt, the former Congressional Black Caucus leader whom President Obama recently appointed to regulate Fannie and Freddie.

Watt also backs home loans for borrowers with “less-than-perfect credit scores.”

Since Fannie and Freddie guarantee 90% of US mortgages, private lenders will match their weaker standards. Many of these weak loans will, in turn, be securitized and traded on Wall Street.

Giving North Korea access to the world.

The North Korean victory in getting Sony Pictures to pull its satirical film The Interview is a game-changing event to which free nations must respond. Adding cyber terrorism to the list of weapons that rogue nations can deploy means that both nations and private groups can be blackmailed by potentially anyone over anything.

The U.S. government is debating its response. But in the meantime, private citizens can take action, and in ways even governments can’t or won’t.

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Consider what the New York–based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is doing to help counter the secrecy and restrictions on information that North Korea uses to control its people. The group has devised an ingenious weapon: a durable, vinyl balloon that can carry pamphlets, money, transistor radios, flash drives, and, yes, copies of movies that could open the eyes of North Koreans to the outside world and the exact nature of the Kim-family regime that oppresses them.

For more than a decade, human-rights activists have launched balloons across the 2.5-mile demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. The balloons, some three feet in diameter, each carry a tiny transistor radio and $1 in North Korean money as an incentive for those finding them to pick up the parcels rather than report them to police.

FCC ruling on the Redskins.

Huge news just broke which is a major defeat for the political correctness crowd. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected a petition which was seeking to stop the Washington Redskins from using their team name or face major fines. The 1st Amendment won!

Sen. Harry Reid and 50 Senate Democrats have worked on a major campaign to stop the Redskins, even though their fans love the name and a vast majority of Native Americans (90%) don’t find the name to be offensive. This is awesome:

Merry Christmas

That’s because they realize that this is not going away.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke with outgoing US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to discuss increased Israeli involvement in the war against IS. According to a report in Haaretz, Israel has been assisting villages around the Golan in exchange for keeping extremist Islamist groups away from the border. But with the recent defection of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade from the FSA to the IS dominated Islamist axis, a fact which has been confirmed on Debka and by retired Major General Amos Gilad on Reshet Bet, Israel may have to become more actively involved in the Syrian civil war due to the ascendancy of Islamic State in strategically sensitive areas near the Israeli border.

Bergdahl investigation finished.

Bowe Bergdahl investigation ends; Chuck Hagel and top leaders briefed

The Army has finished its investigation into how and why Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his base in Afghanistan and senior Pentagon leaders have been briefed, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, officials said Friday.

Details about the probe’s conclusion have been closely held. But they are likely to lay out whether Bergdahl deserted his post or was “absent without leave” or AWOL. And it could include recommendations on whether Bergdahl should be charged with any criminal violations or forced to leave the Army. Any final disposition will eventually also determine whether Bergdahl gets as much as $300,000 in back pay and other benefits, including continued health care.

They’ve been busy.

Egypt police hail arrest of 10,000 ‘terrorists, rioters, Facebook admins’ in 2014

On this day in history.

On this day, General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. 3rd Army, dies from injuries suffered not in battle but in a freak car accident. He was 60 years old.

Descended from a long line of military men, Patton graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1909. He represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics-as the first American participant in the pentathlon. He did not win a medal. He went on to serve in the Tank Corps during World War I, an experience that made Patton a dedicated proponent of tank warfare.

Hard wired.

Developmental neuroscientists have found specific brain markers that predict generosity in children. Those neural markers appear to be linked to both social and moral evaluation processes. Although young children are natural helpers, their perspective on sharing resources tends to be selfish.

Researchers have created a simple mathematical model based on optical measurements that explains the stunning colors of Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs and can visually recreate how they appeared years ago, before decades of tourists contaminated the pools with make-a-wish coins and other detritus.

Well this has gotten out of hand.

Rand Paul trolls Marco Rubio on Twitter as Cuba feud turns nasty

Geez … ya think?

Borrowing Bad: Risky New Mortgage Rules Could Take Us Back to 2008

Not entirely principled.

To make our case we provided 3 video clips, the third one is a video showing homosexual activists in Ireland used the state to force a Christian bakery to make a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” for a pro-gay marriage event, but he refused which added a tremendous loss to his business. Several Christian bakeries were sued in the United States with several who lost their businesses and we said enough is enough.

So Shoebat.com decided to call some 13 prominent pro-gay bakers in a row. Each one denied us the right to have “Gay Marriage Is Wrong” on a cake and even used deviant insults and obscenities against us. One baker even said all sorts of profanities against Christians and ended the conversation by saying that she will make me a cookie with a large phallus on it.

Because it’s good being King.

Obama seeks to prolong power

Getting rocketed again.

A siren alarm went off at around 12:00 pm in several communities in Eshkol Regional Council in the south. A rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an unpopulated area outside one of the communities, without causing damage or injuries.

Nothing to see here … just move along.

Opponents of reforms intended to improve the security and integrity of the election process are constantly peddling the narrative that election fraud is a nonexistent problem. But they should turn their attention to Benton Harbor, Mich., where the Rev. Edward Pinkney, a local liberal activist, has just been convicted of election fraud—again.

Pinkney was convicted on five counts of forgery for illegally changing the dates on voter signatures on petitions that were being circulated to recall the town’s mayor, James Hightower. Pinkney was apparently upset over Hightower’s vote against putting an income tax on the November 2013 ballot. As a result of Pinkney’s forgery as well as questions about multiple signatures on the petitions by the same voters, the recall election was ordered removed from the ballot by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Probably not the only one …

An activist group and online sources reporting from inside Syria claim that a mass grave filled with approximately 230 corpses has been discovered in eastern Syria. The victims are reportedly members of the Sheitaat tribe, which has been battling the Islamic State in the province of Deir Ezzor.

The fog of war makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fully verify accounts of human rights atrocities and other aspects of the conflict. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify accounts of the mass grave.

The Sheitaat tribesmen have waged fierce battles against the Islamic State, which claims to rule over a caliphate across large parts of Iraq and Syria, since earlier this year. There have been multiple reports in the past several months detailing the Islamic State’s mass executions and other barbaric acts in eastern Syria.

Images of the newly discovered mass grave began surfacing on Twitter feeds within the past day. And the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) has released a statement saying that “reliable” sources have informed the group that the site of the atrocity “was found in al-Keshkeyyi Desert in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.”

We’ll see where this one goes.

Facing threats, retired officers forced to sue D.C. for right to carry guns for protection

Department of Corrections workers wary of retaliation from vindictive criminals

Battle of the Bulge – Day 3 – 18 Dec 1944

3BoB18Dec44

3BoB18Dec44

Checking for tatoos.

The Osaka District Court has ruled that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s order to check whether municipal office workers had tattoos was illegal and constituted an invasion of privacy.

The court handed down the ruling on Wednesday in a damages suit filed by a 56-year-old city bus driver, Tadasu Yasuda, who was transferred to a desk job after he refused to answer questions on whether or not he had a tattoo, Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday. Presiding Judge Kenji Nakagaito invalidated the transfer and ordered the Osaka municipal government to pay Yasuda 1.1 million yen in damages.

French may take a hit.

Some 400 Russian sailors training on a Mistral-class warship France controversially built for their navy will be returning home for an unspecified amount of time, the ship’s French builder has said.

“I can confirm that the Russian sailors will return (to Russia) before the end of year,” a spokesman for shipbuilder DCNS told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

The spokesman did not give a date for the sailors’ departure and could not say whether they would return to the port city of Saint-Nazaire, where the ship was built.

The sailors have been training since June on board the “Vladivostok”, one of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers destined for the Russian navy according to the terms of a €1.2 billion ($1.58 billion) deal signed in 2011.

The contract has been subject to months of intense speculation, with Paris coming under intense pressure from its NATO allies to scrap delivery of the ships due to Russia’s behaviour in the Ukrainian crisis.

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