South Korea’s authorities have in recent months been very down on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies--at time causing big sell-offs with their threats of banning exchanges. Now, the man who played a key role in coordinating the crackdown has been found dead.
Jung Ki-joon, the head of economic policy at South Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination, was found dead at home at the age of 52 on Sunday, with investigators initially suspecting a heart attack as the cause of death.
“He died from some unknown cause. He passed away while he was sleeping and [his] heart [had] already stopped beating when he was found dead,” said a government spokesman, quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
The state news agency Yonhap reported that Jung had been under immense pressure since late last year, when he was put in charge of coordinating the opinions of various ministries on the regulation of cryptocurrencies.
South Korea’s government earlier this month indicated that it had changed its mind about banning cryptocurrency exchanges, and was instead considering a new framework for licensing such services. Like other countries such as Japan, South Korea is keen to protect citizens from the negative effects of speculation in the volatile markets for bitcoin and other virtual coins.
Police in South Korea are investigating further the cause of death, according to Yonhap.
Plenty of opinions have been shared about Blade Runner 2049 since it entered theaters back in October. It was critically acclaimed but that didn’t translate into box office success despite looking absolutely gorgeous on the big screen. Ridley Scott offered his own criticism, saying the film was a bit too long for his tastes, and others likely agreed. But he’s not the only one that was involved in the original film to critique the sequel and question why it was made.
Rutger Hauer, who terrorized as Roy Batty in the original film, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about his role in Samson and ended up giving his thoughts on the new Blade Runner and where he thinks it went wrong:
I sniff and scratch at it. It looks great but I struggle to see why that film was necessary. I just think if something is so beautiful, you should just leave it alone and make another film. Don’t lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground. In many ways, Blade Runner wasn’t about the replicants, it was about what does it mean to be human? It’s like E.T. But I’m not certain what the question was in the second Blade Runner. It’s not a character-driven movie and there’s no humor, there’s no love, there’s no soul. You can see the homage to the original. But that’s not enough to me. I knew that wasn’t going to work. But I think it’s not important what I think.
The trailer for Shot In The Dark was released on Monday and gives us a better idea of the project that was originally announced earlier in the month. The documentary is set to air February 24 on Fox and will chronicle high school basketball in Chance and Wade’s hometown of Chicago.
Shot In The Dark tells the story of Orr Academy , a prestigious Chicago basketball program and the story of former player Tyquonne Greer. The documentary highlights the struggles that come with inner-city living and the pressure to succeed on the court amid systemic injustice in Chicago.
President Donald Trump endorsed former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah, setting aside longstanding differences with a GOP critic as the party looks to preserve its narrow majority in the chamber.
"He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!" Trump wrote in a message on Twitter late Monday.
Romney -- the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor -- announced on Friday that he would run to succeed Senator Orrin Hatch, a strong Trump supporter who decided not to seek an eighth term despite the president's entreaties.
Trump's support could provide a lift to Romney in a state that the president won by 18 percentage points in 2016. His endorsement may also help contain the pro-Trump, anti-establishment forces in the Republican Party that influenced decisions by GOP Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona to retire after this year, although a Corker spokesman has said he might reconsider.
Shortly after Trump's endorsement, Romney posted a note of gratitude on his own Twitter feed. "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah," he wrote.
Romney is entering the race as the early favorite thanks to his popularity in Utah, fundraising skills, name recognition, and months of campaigning and fundraising for other GOP candidates. Republicans currently hold a 51-49 edge over Democrats in the Senate.
For more about Mitt Romney’s Senate candidacy, watch Fortune’s video:
One question is whether Romney will continue to be a strong anti-Trump voice or follow the path of former vocal Trump critics like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who have now become allies.
Trump has weathered tough criticism from Romney, who referred to the then-presidential candidate as "a phony, a fraud" in a March 2016 speech. Romney assailed Trump for suggesting that both sides were to blame for violence following a violent white supremacists' march in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying that the president's remarks "caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn."
Despite their differences, Trump interviewed him as a candidate for secretary of state. Romney said in June 2017 that he would have accepted the job if it had been offered, and that he and the president weren't as far apart on issues as he'd feared.
The success of Black Panther likely can’t be celebrated enough for most people. It’s another triumph for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a truly diverse superhero film that makes the path traveled by those that came before worth it (Wesley Snipes should be proud). But it is also another blow against Warner Bros. and their DC Comics films, with their tentpole film Justice League failing to live up to the hype it had generated over the years.
This can be measured in fan reaction to each film, but it is the box office total that tells the true story. According to The Wrap, Black Panther will wrap up its first weekend with a domestic total that is equal to Justice League‘s entire theatrical run:
Through 91 days in theaters, the DC team-up film “Justice League” made $228 million domestically, a total that would be good for many other films but was below the $412.5 million made by “Wonder Woman” and below what was expected for a movie that aimed to be DC’s answer to the “Avengers.” “Black Panther” has already more than doubled the three-day opening made by “JL,” with a $201.7 million start compared to $95 million made by “JL” back in November.
Last week’s Florida school shooting arrived as good news for no one, but a new Washington Post report indicates that some in the White House secretly saw the tragedy as a “reprieve” from scandals currently plaguing the Trump administration. The publication sources an anonymous White House official who describes a West Wing “under siege” due to a mountain of controversy, and “some aides privately acknowledged that the tragedy offered a breather from the political storm.”
Is it true? Last Wednesday did see plenty of drama piled up in the White House. Trump’s alleged affair with Playboy playmate Karen McDougal was making waves, and porn star Stormy Daniels was saying she was free to discuss her alleged affair with Trump after his personal lawyer oddly started talking. John Kelly was prepping to speak to the press about his (mis)handling of the Rob Porter scandal, but that appearance was cancelled when Nikolas Cruz walked into Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire.
The anonymous official told The Post that a “beleaguered” White House staff was able to escape all of the “trivial” drama and “focus” on attempting to unite the nation after another tragedy:
“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”
The official likened the brief political calm to the aftermath of the October shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and hundreds more injured. That tragedy united White House aides and the country in their shared mourning for the victims and their families.
“But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos,” the official said.
Yikes. This isn’t even close to a good look, but it’s true that Rob Porter and the alleged Trump affairs have received very little attention after the massacre. Even a report that Trump polled Mar-a-Lago guests on whether he should push for gun control isn’t nearly as embarrassing as those stories that dominated before the Parkland, Florida tragedy.
Well, this matter may come up at Tuesday’s White House briefing, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders sure won’t be happy to hear it mentioned.
(Via Washington Post)
Here are your quick and dirty, editorial-free WWE Raw results for February 19, 2018. The show was highlighted by a gauntlet match featuring the seven competitors in this weekend’s men’s Elimination Chamber match. Be back here tomorrow for the complete Best and Worst of Raw column.
WWE Raw Results:
1. Gauntlet Match:
– Seth Rollins defeated Roman Reigns. Reigns and Rollins started the match. Rollins pinned Reigns with a roll-up after a series of counters.
– Seth Rollins defeated John Cena. Rollins pinned Cena after a Curb Stomp. These first two falls combined filled the entire first hour.
– Elias defeated Seth Rollins. Elias capitalized on Rollins’ injured knee, and pinned him after Drift Away. The crowd gave Seth a “thank you Rollins” chant on his way out.
– Finn Bálor defeated Elias. Bálor pinned Elias after a Coup de Grace.
– The Miz defeated Finn Bálor. The Miztourage caused a distraction, allowing Miz to jump Bálor from behind. Eventually the interference was too much, and Bálor was pinned after the Skull-crushing Finale.
– Braun Strowman defeated The Miz. Strowman won the fall and the match with a running powerslam. After the match, Strowman powerslammed the Miztourage, then chased down Miz and powerslammed him two more times.
On February 20th, MonteCrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma will launch on Steam for $2, but its price point is more of an entry fee than the cost of the game. Unlike a traditional release on the PC gaming storefront, MonteCrypto is a modern-day mystery box, and the first person (or group of people) that solve all 24 puzzles will be rewarded a single Bitcoin. That’s an $11,000 prize as of this writing, and much more mysterious than an ancient artifact or something silly like that.
It’s a novel concept for a puzzle game, and one that feels like an event rather than just another release into the ether by a studio. Users will be hustling to work together, throw others off the path with red herrings, or possibly go at it alone to inch through the spooky home that holds the treasure… er, Bitcoin at the end? Here’s what the FAQ says happens at the end of the hunt:
How can I access the Bitcoin?
– You need to recover the wallet.dat file that is located in your game’s files.
What is a wallet.dat file? How do I recover it?
– A wallet.dat file is a file that contains the private keys required to unlock the wallet. It has been encrypted with a 24 words-long password using the BitcoinCore client. By playing MonteCrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma and solving all the enigmas, you will be able to decrypt the password.
So it seems as if the game itself is meant for people savvy enough to be able to decrypt the password (or even bypass the mainframe). It’s another example, along with the million dollar battles that go on in Eve Online, that the real world and the digital are becoming ever more interlinked as technology allows. Imagine this happening again, but in full VR? Users would be forced to be immersed in a completely different world with real stakes. It’s something a dystopian post-apocalyptic tale or a Steven Spielberg movie is made of.
It’s currently unknown if one of the puzzles is to explain Blockchain technology to your grandma, but until proven otherwise, we’ll assume it is.
Robert Mueller discredited himself and his orchestrated Russiagate investigation last week (Friday, February 16, 2018) with his charges that 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies plotted to use social media to influence the 2016 election. Their intent, Mueller says, was to “sow discord in the US political system.”
What pathetic results to come from a 9 month investigation!
Note that the hyped Russian hacking of Hillary’s emails that we have heard about every day is nowhere to be found in Mueller’s charges. In its place there is “use of social media to sow discord.” I mean, really! Even if the charge were correct, considering the massive discord present in the last presidential election, with the Democrats calling Trump voters racist, sexist, homophobic white trash deplorables, how much discord could a measly 13 Russians add via social media?
Note also that the Trump/Putin conspiracy is also not present in Mueller’s charges. Mueller’s charges say that the Russians’ plan to sow discord began in 2014, before there was any notion that Trump would run for president in 2017. The link of the plot to Putin is reduced to the allegation that the plot was financed by a St. Petersburg restaurateur whose connection to Putin is that his business once catered official dinners between Russian officials and foreign dignitaries.
Finally, note that Mueller’s release of his charges in the face of dead news weekend means that Mueller knows that he has nothing to justify the massive propaganda onslaught against Trump for conspiring with Putin with which the presstitutes have regaled us. If the charges amounted to anything, they would have been released on Monday morning, and the presstitutes would have been handed by the FBI and CIA the news stories to file with their papers.
How did the 13 Russians go about sowing discord? Are you ready for this?
They held political rallies posing as Americans and they paid one person (unidentified) to build a cage aboard a flatbed pickup truck and another person to wear a costume portraying Hillary in prison clothes.
A monthly budget of $1.2 million, a sum far too small to be seen in the $2.65 billion spent by Hillary and Trump and the $6.8 billion spent by all candidates for federal elective offices in the last election.
Mueller claims to have emails from some of the 13 Russians. If the emails are authentic, they sound like a few kids pretending to friends that they are doing big things. One of the emails brags that the FBI got after them so they got busy covering up their tracks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has fallen for Mueller’s ruse.
Remember what William Binney, the person who designed the NSA spy program, said: If any such Russiagate plot existed, NSA would have the evidence. No investigation would be necessary.
One can conclude that Mueller and Rosenstein are fighting for their lives now that it is known that their spy requests for FISA court approval were based on deception. Mueller has produced this silly indictment of individuals who are not the Russian government in the hope that it will keep the attention off the FBI’s deception of the FISA court.
As a special prosecutor Mueller has demonstrated the same lack of integrity that he demonstrated as FBI director.
With the trade deadline landing earlier in February this year, the NBA All-Star break feels, oddly, like an actual break with very little going on in the basketball world in the aftermath of All-Star Weekend itself. However, Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams swooped in to make things interesting on Monday, and the always entertaining big man was anything but timely.
In short, Adams received a prom date request from a fan on Jan. 27, 2015 and, until Monday, Oklahoma City’s big man was silent.
— Lo (@itsloyo) January 27, 2015
But on Monday night, Adams came through with a one-word response that made the internet rounds with great amusement.
An Uber Technologies Inc. uber driver turned himself in after allegedly shooting and killing a customer over the weekend.
Robert Bivines, 36, made an Uber Eats delivery late Saturday before witnesses said he exchanged words with and then shot the 30-year-old male customer, Ryan Thornton, multiple times. He was arrested and transported to jail Monday for booking on charges related to the murder, according to a spokeswoman with the Atlanta Police Department.
"We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to Ryan's friends and family," Andrew Hasbun, an Uber spokesman, said in an email. The company worked with Atlanta police and cut off the driver's access the app before he turned himself in.
Uber Eats uses the ride-hailing service's drivers to deliver meals ordered from restaurants. The business is "absolutely exploding," Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi told the DLD tech conference in Munich last month. He predicted Uber Eats will be the largest food-delivery company in the world this year.
Bivines passed an Uber Eats background check and had been a driver for the food delivery service for about a week, according to the company.
Uber has come under fire for its driver screenings before. Two years ago, the company agreed to settle claims by California prosecutors that its background checks weren't as thorough as advertised and failed to weed out ex-convicts.
For more about Uber, watch Fortune’s video:
The 2016 settlement was reached months after police arrested and charged Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton with fatally shooting six people between picking up passengers in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
(Reuters) — Jolted by the global investment craze over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, U.S. lawmakers are moving to consider new rules that could impose stricter federal oversight on the emerging asset class, several top lawmakers told Reuters.
Bipartisan momentum is growing in the Senate and House of Representatives for action to address the risks posed by virtual currencies to investors and the financial system, they said.
Even free-market Republican conservatives, normally wary of government red tape, said regulation could be needed if cryptocurrencies threaten the U.S. economy.
“There’s no question about the fact that there is a need for a regulatory framework,” said Republican Senator Mike Rounds, a Senate Banking Committee member.
Digital assets currently fall into a jurisdictional gray area between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and individual states.
Much of the concern on Capitol Hill is focused on speculative trading and investing in cryptocurrencies, leading some lawmakers to push for digital assets to be regulated as securities and subject to the SEC’s investor protection rules.
“The SEC is properly the lead on the issue,” said Republican Representative Bill Huizenga, chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets which will hold hearings on the issue in coming weeks.
Huizenga said the recent growth of the virtual currency market had made him more comfortable with more oversight. “Six months ago, we didn’t see this explosion. The marketplace has changed,” he said.
Carolyn Maloney, a Democratic senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, is another lawmaker advocating for direct oversight of digital assets by the SEC.
“A lot of people don’t realize there’s nothing backing these virtual currencies,” she said.
Virtual currencies have existed for years but speculation in them has recently ballooned, along with scams promising investors returns of over 1,000 percent in weeks.
In a time of volatile markets, hackers are also active in the sector, stealing $530 million of digital currency from Japanese exchange Coincheck last month.
Bitcoin, the best known virtual currency, lost over half its value earlier this year after surging more than 1,300 percent.
“We have to look carefully at all of the cryptocurrencies and make sure individuals don’t get taken advantage of,” said Representative Tom MacArthur, a House Financial Services Committee Republican.
Regulators globally have raised the alarm over cryptocurrencies, saying they may aid money laundering and terrorist financing, hurt consumers and undermine trust in the global financial system.
France and Germany want cryptocurrencies on the agenda for the upcoming G20 meeting of the largest advanced and developing economies.
Conservative Republicans also recognize the potential for broader risks.
“I‘m a total free-marketer, so I don’t want to regulate,” said Republican Representative Dave Brat, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
“But if it’s a currency that could destabilize the whole economy, you’re going to have that conversation,” he said.
The SEC and CFTC chairmen recently called for greater scrutiny of digital assets before the Senate Banking Committee. Members of the panel said the regulators will return to discuss how to move forward.
While many lawmakers agree tighter oversight is needed, there is no consensus yet in Congress on how to proceed.
While some lawmakers say speculative investments should be classed as securities, others want digital currency transactions regulated as commodities.
The SEC is already cracking down on transactions known as initial coin offerings (ICOs), while the CFTC has identified digital assets as a commodity subject to its anti-fraud rules.
Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at the Coin Center, a member of the growing cryptocurrency lobby, said lawmakers need to distinguish between ICOs that operate like securities and other virtual currencies including bitcoin, which he described as a commodity like gold.
Senator Rounds told Reuters there was an opportunity to regulate cryptocurrencies as both a security and a commodity.
But while lawmakers are keen to mitigate the risks digital assets may pose, they are also mindful of the need to protect innovation, including the underlying distributed ledger technology, said Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Banking Committee.
“The goal here is to have rules of the road that protect consumers without trying to squash innovation.”
There has been plenty of chatter surrounding the Toronto Raptors and Vince Carter having a reunion at some point in the future. Despite the fact the two sides had a messy breakup more than a decade ago, Raptors president Masai Ujiri made it sound like the team hopes to bring him back eventually, while Carter has said he would like it if the franchise retired his jersey some day.
With the Sacramento Kings sitting at 18-39 on the year and in perfect position to tank, it doesn’t make much sense for them to keep Carter around. Carter is someone who deserves the opportunity to ring chase, and if it makes sense for both sides, he would be a great buyout candidate. Who knows if the Kings agree with that, but as a veteran on a team gunning for the most ping pong balls and playing time for young dudes, Carter doesn’t really fit in Sacramento.
Unfortunately, in the event that happens, Toronto reportedly has no interest in bringing him on board. That comes via Josh Lewenberg of TSN, who tweeted that despite some “internal debate,” the franchise has ultimately decided this isn’t the time for him to come back.
Over the past fifty years, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has traditionally reflected the current state of world military affairs. Each February, more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the globe descend into Munich, Germany, to discuss current and future security challenges.
And while there have been times in recent years when the MSC demonstrated signs of hope and optimism, none of that was evident this year. This year’s motto “To the Brink – and Back?”- which seems to be an accurate portrayal of the current geopolitical situations in most regions. After several days of senior decision-makers bickering back and forth, the negativity in the atmosphere only means one thing: A global conflict between nuclear superpowers is lingering.
“I was hoping when I opened this conference on Friday that, in concluding the conference, I would be able to say we can delete the question mark. In other words: ‘We are back from the brink,'” former German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger said in closing remarks of the MSC. “I’m actually not sure we can say that,” he added.
The dangers of nuclear proliferation and talk of a “dire” global security situation dominated the security conference: from the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, to U.S. allegations of Russia’s election-meddling, to territorial disputes between ex-Soviet republics, and even discussions about the escalating tensions between Israel and Iran: geopolitical doom and gloom was not short in all conversations during the meeting.
And, in the latest escalation, Bloomberg reports that the most fiery subject of the conference were the tensions surrounding Russia and the U.S over nuclear arms controls.
Addressing a conference hall in Munich packed with dignitaries, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the risks emanating from North Korea’s nuclear activities, which have ratcheted up tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
"For the first time since the end of the Cold War, we are now facing a nuclear threat, a threat of a nuclear conflict," Guterres told the gathering in the southern Bavarian city.
Conference Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger opened the event by warning that the world has moved too close to a “major interstate conflict” and faces a “dire reality.”
“We have too many unresolved crises, instabilities, and conflicts,” Ischinger warned.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov fired a shot at President Trump’s new 74-page nuclear doctrine calling for a modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal.
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster shot back at Lavrov’s statements defending the U.S. nuclear posture, which calls for more low-yield atomic bombs and outlines explicitly Russia and China are the primary sources of security concern for the Pentagon.
A great speech “Munich Security Conference 2018. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster” https://t.co/ksFXRfgCWj— Ali Mohammad Ali (@Ali_CRPA) February 18, 2018
“We will not allow Russia any of the power to hold the populations of Europe hostage,” he declared Saturday in Munich, appearing on stage minutes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sounded the alarm on the U.S. military-industrial complex expansion since the collapse of Communism.
While the two countries have fulfilled the terms of another landmark nuclear weapons reduction treaty, New START, that accord expires in 2021 and there’s political pressure on President Donald Trump to let it expire because of the alleged Russian non-compliance with the INF treaty. Moscow in turn accuses Washington of itself breaking the intermediate-range pact. So far, no formal negotiations are taking place on either issue.
And as the world devolves to another potential nuclear arms race, Javier Solana, NATO's former secretary-general, and Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s acting foreign minister, expressed alarm: “The most likely theater for nuclear conflicts would once again be here, in the center of Europe,” Gabriel told the conference.
Meanwhile Graham Allison, a Pentagon adviser under former U.S. President Ronald Reagan when the two superpowers were negotiating arms control, said he’s skeptical momentum will be found to revive START and the INF.
Arms control was developed primarily to prevent the “insane” possibility that Russia and the U.S. would annihilate each other due to miscalculation or accident, despite not even wanting to go to war, said Allison, now a professor of government at Harvard University. “Those risks remain today.”
Needless to say, a return to the nuclear arms race is the worst possible outcome:"according to Sergei Karaganov, a former Kremlin foreign policy adviser, the situation could get “much more dangerous” than during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the world was on the brink of nuclear war.”
Under New START, which followed from the 1991 START treaty and was signed in 2010, the Russian and U.S. arsenals are restricted to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on no more than 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers.
And, if that long-range missile pact isn’t prolonged and the INF collapses, “you have a situation where there are no limits on Russian and American nuclear forces,” said Steven Pifer, a former top State Department official and arms control expert, quoted by Bloomberg. In addition, Russia and the U.S. would stop exchanging data on each other’s nuclear arsenals and permitting regular inspections. “It would be less predictable, less secure, less stable,” Pifer said.
Russia would then likely respond to any U.S. move to station land-based intermediate-range missiles in Europe by deploying similar missiles to target “all the bases where these weapons will be,” said Igor Korotchenko, director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade in Moscow.
“And the U.S. can’t stay safe over the ocean - we’ll create the same risk for the U.S. as they do for us in Europe,” he said.
In short: a full blown nuclear arms race coupled with Cold War 2.0.
* * *
Some experts, such as Thomas Graham, ex-White House adviser under George W. Bush, remain optimistic, and believe Russia and the U.S. will blink when faced with the prospect of stepping into a void without the security of arms control.
Russia has proposed a 5-year extension to New START, to 2026, though it’s tying that to fixing complaints about the way the U.S. has complied with the treaty, the Interfax news service reported Feb. 16.
Others are not: “The chances are diminishing every day,’’ said Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian upper house of parliament.
Ian Bremmer, the founder of the Eurasia Group told Handelsblatt that, "We’re in trouble, because, you know, pretty much every geopolitical conflict out there is escalating, none of them are getting fixed, and no one has any solutions. This was not a good meeting."
The world is still reeling from the most recent U.S. mass shooting, which took place at a high school in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. Since that tragedy, Parkland has become a lightning rod for the latest gun control debate, which is at its highest fever pitch to date.
The news cycle has been forced to stay on Parkland due to the viral, impassioned speech given by Emma Gonzalez over the weekend, and with a national walkout planned next month, the events in Parkland are on the minds of many.
In fact, just days after the shooting, NXT’s Donovan Dijak took it upon himself to launch a GoFundMe to benefit victims’ families, as a means to support the local community and do what he can.
The gaming world is filled with more evil super-weapons than an 80s spy movie. We’ve got more maniacs, evil geniuses, misguided scientists and evil super-beings than we know what to do with - and most of them want to destroy humanity in a hundred different ways.
The bad guys in video games have tried everything from enslaving all the fluffy animals in the Green Hill Zone, to turning humans into Stroggs and generally trying to blow everything sky-high.
So to celebrate all the heroes that have foiled dastardly plots, and all the evil beings who plotted them, we wanted to take a look at some of the biggest, baddest super-weapons that have threatened to put the bad guys on top.
Of course by now you’re well aware that WWE Raw has been on the air for over 25 years. I know that WWE barely mentioned that fact in the past couple of months, but it’s true! But amazingly, with all of that history, Seth Rollins was able to accomplish something no one else has done before in the history of WWE’s flagship weekly show.
No, we’re not talking about him pinning Roman Reigns and John Cena, clean, back-to-back. (Although that’s certainly worth mentioning, especially since the number of people who have pinned John Cena clean in the past DECADE is shockingly low.)
As Raw continued and the show-opening Gauntlet Match breezed through the first hour without getting halfway through the participants, fans were aware they were seeing something very special. Twitter was abuzz with the incredible work Rollins was putting in, as he eliminated both Reigns and Cena in a spectacular match.
The Tide just upgraded.
In a big blow to Miami’s coaching staff, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman reports that defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski is leaving for the same job at Alabama.
For Nick Saban, the rich only get richer as the sport’s preeminent football force adds arguably the best developmental defensive line coach in the country. He built Missouri into Defensive Line U, and significantly upgraded Miami’s defensive front under Mark Richt.
But this snippet of insight from our Miami blog, StateOfTheU.com, offers some interesting insight into Kuligowski’s specific skillset.
One area in which Kuligowski struggled was recruiting. He missed on several targets this past cycle, which was more noticeable due to the many departures from the roster to graduation and the NFL. Even with that being the case, Kuligowski is unquestionably one of the best coaches and talent developers at the DL position in all of football, so his departure will be felt by the Canes.
A (relative) lack of recruiting prowess makes him an interesting add to Saban’s staff on the heels of the Tide losing the firm grasp they’ve had on the No. 1 recruiting rankings. To be clear, Alabama’s stranglehold on the sport probably isn’t letting up as long as Saban’s in charge, but it’s a thing to note in the broader context of the staff Saban’s trying to build.
The talent base available to Kuligowski at Alabama is much better than at Missouri and similar to that at Miami. Either way, he’s proven he can work with whatever you give him to craft a great DL.
Bama’s staff also isn’t complete, thanks to the rule allowing teams to have 10 assistant coaches. So the Tide aren’t done and could very well cherry pick another elite assistant from a coaching staff near you before spring practice begins.
The Social Justice trend has appeared in recent years, and has rapidly gained momentum.
It appeared first on college campuses, where students accused a professor or, indeed, another student, of making a statement or using a word that was deemed socially unacceptable. The premise by the accuser was that a campus must be a safe space, where people should not be exposed to comments that may possibly make anyone feel demeaned or uncomfortable.
The accusers have earned the name “snowflakes,” as they tend to melt down at the slightest provocation. However, the Social Justice trend has given snowflakes considerable power, a power that’s often used recklessly.
Importantly, whether the offensive comment is correct or incorrect is not an issue. The “offense” is that the speaker has stated something that should not ever be mentioned, as it might upset the listener in some way. The “justice” that takes place is that one or more people file a formal complaint with a person or body that holds power over the speaker and demand that he be punished for his “wrongdoing.”
This has led to teachers and professors being warned, suspended, or fired from their positions, based merely on the existence of a complaint. In addition, “offending” students have been warned, suspended, or expelled, again, without what might be regarded as due process.
A related form of Social Justice is the vigilantism seeking to destroy those who are prominent. Former Miss Americas demanded that the entire board of the Miss America Pageant be dismissed for making disparaging remarks about pageant contestants. Several have been forced to resign in disgrace.
And, of course, we’re seeing the rise of complaints against actors, politicians, and other prominent individuals regarding alleged sexual denigration of women, even if it’s merely verbal. In each case, witnesses are “bravely coming forward,” en masse, although they often were silent for decades (if, indeed, the individual incidents ever occurred at all).
Whether a given individual has actually committed a crime or not seems immaterial in the new Social Justice trend. The focus is on vehement condemnation of an individual, usually by a host of others. Importantly, regardless of what process is used to prosecute (or persecute) those accused, a general assumption of the Social Justice trend is that, once someone is accused, he’s guilty and punishment must take place.
But, in fact, this trend is not new. Rabid groups of accusers appear throughout history, generally during times of existing social tension.
In 1692, several young girls claimed to be possessed by witches and group hysteria ensued. Some 150 men, women and children were ultimately accused and nineteen were hanged. Governor William Phips ordered that an end be put to the show trials in 1693. In the process, his wife was accused of being a witch.
In Nazi Germany, kangaroo courts were held for those deemed to have committed “political crimes,” resulting in 12,000 deaths. Germans were encouraged to report on each other. (If your neighbor annoyed you, a good recompense was to report him as being disloyal.) The persecution only ended when Nazi Germany was defeated.
Joseph Stalin ran many successful purges against clergymen, wealthy peasants, and oppositionists, but the foremost of them was the Great Purge, which included anyone with a perceived stain on his record. Denunciation was encouraged. The purge was highly successful and, although the show trials ended in 1938, the threat of accusation remained until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
US Senator McCarthy accused countless people in Hollywood of being communists. Thousands lost their jobs. McCarthyism ended when he accused the Protestant Church as being a communist support group. He also attacked the US Army as having communists within it. The Army lashed back, exposing McCarthy as cruel, manipulative, and reckless and the public fervor against communists subsided.
The Spanish Inquisition lasted for over 350 years. It was originally conceived by King Ferdinand II as a way to expose and punish heretics and suppress religious dissent.
It was preceded by the French Inquisition and spread to other countries in Europe. At its height, it investigated, prosecuted, and sometimes burned alive some 150,000 people. The last execution was in 1826 – for teaching deist principles (deism, not Christianity, was the predominant religious belief of America’s founding fathers).
Crimes committed included blasphemy, witchcraft, immorality, and behavior unbecoming to a woman. (A woman’s role was seen as being limited to raising a family.) False denunciations were frequent and defendants were only rarely acquitted. The auto-da-fé, or public punishment, including groups of people being burned alive, provided an effective demonstration and satisfied the public’s desire for spectacle.
The inquisition finally ended when King Ferdinand VII and others came to regard the church’s power as being a threat to the government’s power and abolished it.
Others that used the Social Justice approach to great effect were China, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Egypt (as recently as 2014), and Turkey (as recently as 2016).
And there are many more examples, far too numerous to mention.
In 1970, Monty Python did a series of sketches in which Michael Palin plays a cleric, saying, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”
And, of course, this is true. The Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the McCarthy hearings, and the present Social Justice trend, are so over-the-top that their very existence is clearly absurd.
However, historically, whether it be a political leader like Stalin or Hitler, or a religious organisation, like the Catholic Church, or the present-day, self-styled “Social Justice Warriors,” such campaigns begin through the desire for power over others. What they have in common is that anyone can be targeted, group accusations carry greater weight than individual accusations, and the punishment invariably exceeds the level of the offense, if, indeed, there is any unlawful offense at all.
The objective is to create fear. The initiative begins with finger-pointing and mild punishment, such as the loss of a job. But it evolves into a circus that often grows to include more serious punishment, sometimes including execution.
Vigilantism grows out of troubled periods when frustrations and resentment run high. Because it’s emotionally driven, not logic-driven, it almost invariably morphs into irrational victimisation… and is always destructive in nature.
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Fortunately, there are practical ways to escape the fallout of dangerous groupthink. Doug Casey has turned it into an art form. Find out more in Doug’s special report, Getting Out of Dodge.
At the New York Toy Fair, Hasbro announced their own version of a quasi-Kickstarter called HasLabs, which will offer up experimental and long-yearned for toys that never came to fruition due to their niche standing amongst the masses. The only catch — the collectibles will only be made if enough fans preorder and fund the project. First up: Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
If 5,000 fans preorder Jabba’s mobile home, priced at $499.99, Hasbro will manufacture more of the ship that brought Han, Luke, and Leia to the Sarlacc pit under the bright Tatooine suns. The ship itself is ridiculously detailed, with multiple levels, rooms, and features that show you’re getting what you paid for. Here’s a description of what could come to be if enough people preorder the 49-inch long and 17-inch high barge: