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Wednesday, Jul 17th

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Drug smuggler busted with half a kilo of cocaine under his bad toupée

At Barcelona's international airport, police arrested a Colombian gentleman who arrived from Bogota with half a kilogram of cocaine under his toupée. According to a Reuters report, "The man attracted police attention as he looked nervous and had a disproportionately large hairpiece under his hat. They found a package stuck to his head with about €30,000 (£27,000) of cocaine." No word whether the unnamed man is a drug bigwig. Read the rest

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Many of the key Googler Uprising organizers have quit, citing retaliation from senior management

The Googler Uprising was a string of employee actions within Google over a series of issues related to ethics and business practices, starting with the company's AI project for US military drones, then its secretive work on a censored/surveilling search tool for use in China; then the $80m payout to Android founder Andy Rubin after he was accused of multiple sexual assaults. Tens of thousands of Google employees participated in the uprising, including 20,000 who walked off the job in February. The activist Google employees moved from victory to victory, including the ouster of a a transphobic, racist, xenophobic ideologue who had been appointed to Google's "AI Ethics" board. Two key organizers, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, publicly accused the company of targeting them for retaliation in April (to enormous internal uproar). Now, Whittaker has resigned (on the thirteenth anniversary of her employement with Google), along with Celie O’Neil-Hart, who had been global head of trust and transparency marketing at YouTube Ads, and Google News Labs' Erica Anderson. In Whittaker's farewell note to her colleagues, she calls on them to "unionize — in a way that works," "protect conscientious objectors and whistleblowers," "demand to know what you’re working on, and how it’s used" and "build solidarity with those beyond the company." She says that Google's entry into "new markets" like "healthcare, fossil fuels, city development and governance, transportation, and beyond...is gaining significant and largely unchecked power to impact our world (including in profoundly dangerous ways, such as accelerating the extraction of fossil fuels and the deployment of surveillance technology)." Whittaker will devote her work to AI Now, the group she co-founded to build and promulgate critical, ethical frameworks for AI research. Read the rest

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Watch CBS News coverage of the Apollo 11 moon launch from 50 years ago today

Fifty years ago today, a Saturn V rocket launched with Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins on board. On July 19, Armstrong became the first human to step onto the moon. Above is almost five hours of CBS News's coverage of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon. And that's the way it was. More: "Apollo 11 launch: Watch the most memorable moments from CBS News' coverage" Read the rest

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Turn your drone into a flying flamethrower

Throwflame, the Ohio-based supplier of flamethrowers, announced the TF-19 WASP Flamethrower Drone Attachment designed for the DJI S1000 drone. The WASP contains a one gallon fuel tank for 100 seconds of flame with a 25-foot range. Why would you need a flamethrower, much less one that flies? According to Throwflame, here are some worthy applications: Prescribed agricultural burns Ground clearing Snow and ice removal Incinerating weeds and pesky insect hives Pyrotechnic events and movie props Firefighting and training Grassland management What could possibly go wrong? Read the rest

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Florida homes invaded by scurrying onslaught of land crabs

Endless casts of land crabs have invaded a neighborhood in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Apparently heavy rains have driven the crustaceans to seek shelter in people's homes. Groceries have reported a run on butter. (OK, that last part isn't true.) “My wife stands out here with a broom when I’m trying to back the car out to keep them from running into the garage because once they get in there there’s a million places they can hide and you only find them once they die,” Bill Paterson told WPBF. Read the rest

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Did the US try to weaponize ticks?

The US House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that orders the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to "conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975." The amendment was spearheaded by New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith. From CBS News: The theory, which sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel, contends that bioweapon specialists packed ticks with pathogens that could cause severe disabilities, disease and death among potential enemies to the homeland. Smith said he was inspired to add the amendment to the annual defense bill by "a number of books and articles suggesting that significant research had been done at U.S. government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland and Plum Island, New York to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons." Those books, however, have been questioned by some experts who dismiss long-held conspiracy theories that the federal government aided the spread of tick-borne diseases, and federal agencies, including the CDC, may have participated in a cover-up of sorts to conceal findings about the spread of Lyme disease. Here's the amendment. image: "Chelicera of the sheep tick" by Richard Bartz (CC) Read the rest

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VIDEO: Activists vow to 'shut down' ICE headquarters in Washington, DC

Human rights activists in Washington DC who oppose the Trump administration's racist policies against mostly Mexican and Central American refugees at the southern border protested at ICE headquarters in the nation's capital today. Activists with NeverAgainAction say the are “shutting down ICE,” and they're livestreaming here on Facebook. From the video data: A group of Jewish allies and immigrants have been shutting down every entrance point to ICE headquarters for over 2 hours, and arrests just happened both outside and inside the building. Facebook video embed follows. The protestors have now left, marching away from ICE HQ singing “never again, para Nadine” pic.twitter.com/ztBzea8WRT — julia reinstein