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Obama backs net neutrality plan. Have Jedis created a new 'religion'? 24 October 2014Last updated at 19:04 ET By Tom de Castella BBC News Magazine Followers of Jediism are aiming to build a belief system that goes beyond the Star Wars films. But does it amount to a new religion? It began as a joke at the expense of statisticians. In the UK's 2001 Census, 390,127 people - or 0.7% of the population - described themselves as Jedi. A question on religious belief had been asked for the first time in a census and Jedi - from the cloak-wearing, lightsaber swishing rebels in the Star Wars films - was a tongue-in-cheek response.

It was a post-modernist Star Wars joke by atheists. An ideas festival at Cambridge University this weekend will look at how new "religious movements", such as Jediism, the Indigo Children and Wicca, have expanded online. What might have started as an intellectual exercise by fans adding to the movies and filling in the gaps, has become an attempt to build a coherent religious code. "Feel the force" has become a rather tired cliche. "No. You've Helped Create a Rapist's Almanac: An Open Letter to Those Who Brought Dapper Laughs to TV | Lee Kern. Anyone who has seen the online videos of Dapper Laughs - real name Daniel O'Reilly - will be au fait with the misplaced pride in idiocy and the triumphant doltishness of this arch dunce. His act is a woeful, misogynistic celebration of banter-based cretinism that is sadly having a renaissance among the unenlightened, the confused, the intellectually frightened and the simpleton.

In short - the entire oeuvre of Dapper Laughs represents an avalanche of brainlessness bilging over 21st Century culture like a soft wave of WKD-infused phlegm. His belligerent sexism and veneration of anti-intellectualism is the clarion call of a people shovelling themselves into the excrement of history. But this is all by the by. It is self-evident to anyone who watches his output and who isn't an idiot. I want to talk about the production team, the commissioners and the management behind the new ITV2 series Dapper Laughs: On The Pull. As for Dapper Laughs, he is devoid of aspiration. #BBCTrending: The debate over 'speaking white' 1 October 2014Last updated at 18:23 ET By BBC Trending What's popular and why Earlier this month Nefertiti Menoe had had enough of the phrase "You're speaking white.

" After she saw a meme on Facebook that ridiculed minorities who use proper English, she posted a short video to her own page. "I don't know why we've gotten to a place where, as a culture, as a race, if you sound as though you have more than a fifth grade education, it's a bad thing," she said. Menoe refers to the practice by some minorities of using slang to communicate, and the idea that members of each community, in her case African American, should identify with those same speech patterns.

In an interview with the BBC, Menoe said that when she moved to Long Island, NY, from Kenya, when she was 12, her classmates told her she spoke funny. "I thought, 'How do I speak funny? "Ridicule of any kind is wrong - including making someone feel bad because they speak properly. " The reaction is varied. But many others agreed with Menoe. Trojan horse trade deal could increase GM food and crops in Europe. Fears are growing that the proposed EU-US trade deal (known as TTIP) will lead to food contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being allowed into Europe for human consumption, despite public reassurances that food safety standards would be maintained.

Analysis of the text published Friday (26 September 2014) from recently completed trade negotiations with Canada – seen as a template for the US trade deal – shows that the EU has already agreed to co-operate with Canada, allowing low levels of GMO contamination in food and seed. In addition, a leaked letter from the EU's former food safety chief shows a willingness to increase imports of GM rapeseed as part of the Canadian trade deal. European citizens – who have repeatedly voiced their objections to GM food – are currently protected from GM contamination in imported food and farmers' seed by the EU's "zero tolerance" law. Corporate Europe Observatory | Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Trojan Horse. Selling out Europe to US Corporate Plunder. Do people in Europe want the likes of Monsanto determining policies in secretive meetings in Brussels? Would they like Unilever, Kraft or Nestle determining what is allowed in their food? Do they want big business removing or weakening health and safety standards and undermining consumer and workers’ rights? In other words, do they want their parliaments to be sidelined by powerful corporations that determine policies behind closed doors with bureaucrats and officials in Brussels? Decades of hard work to ensure policies are open to democratic accountability and to guarantee ordinary people’s rights are in danger of being swept away at the behest of wealthy private concerns.

The great corporate heist continues today in Washington. Dozens of civil society groups from all across Europe have denounced EU plans for ‘regulatory cooperation’ as well as the continued secrecy surrounding the talks. Kenneth Haar from Corporate Europe Observatory has said: The TTIP must be stopped. Notes. British PM David Cameron: “Non-Violent Extremists” Including “9/11 Truthers” and “Conspiracy Theorists” are Just as Dangerous as ISIL Terrorists. Dear Mr Cameron I write this open letter to you in response to your recent speech at the United Nations calling for military intervention in Iraq and Syria over the threat of ISIL. In particular I would like to make mention of your reference to the so called threat to society of what you have termed ‘non-violent extremists’, including those who are attempting to bring forward information and evidence about 9/11 which contradicts the official version of events.

Putting aside the direct issue of ISIL for a moment, I find this position on 9/11 evidence to be quite incredible. It is a position that is either extremely ignorant, or it is a position that goes against freedom and democracy in British society to such an extent that it is scarcely believable. While you are labelling these people who bring this evidence forward about 9/11 as ‘non-violent extremists’, are you aware of what is currently happening in New York City regarding 9/11? I repeat my previous point. The Cost of Convenience -- Is Apple Pay Evil? | Jamil Bouchareb. Last week, Apple announced with their unique brand of confidently breathless fervor two new products - the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6 -- that will solve, in Apple's worldview, the pesky problem of removing a credit card from one's wallet and paying for goods with a swipe. These devices, embedded with the marginally innovative new service Apple Pay and an NFC chip, will replace that laborious swipe with a sophisticated tap - tap the Watch against the POS -- and voila!

, stuff is automatically paid for. The New York Times economy writer Neil Irwin suggested through his piece "Apple Tries To Solve A Problem That Really Isn't A Problem" that the jury's still out (Apple Pay does not launch until October) on whether Apple can convince the buying public that tapping trump swiping. But why does Apple Pay really exist? Apple's customers are in uncharted territory now. The alternative is, of course, not using Apple products or Apple Pay and utilizing an Android-powered smartphone. FCC Democrats want to ban fast lanes and impose stricter rules on wireless. FCC commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn yesterday called for stronger network neutrality rules than the ones fellow Democrat and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has thus far supported.

In a speech yesterday at a congressional forum on net neutrality, Rosenworcel said, "we cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind. " The FCC's tentative proposal approved in May would not prevent Internet service providers from charging Web services for priority access to consumers over the network's last mile, but it asked the public for comments on whether the commission should impose stricter or weaker rules.

A total of 3.7 million comments poured in, mostly in favor of stronger restrictions on how ISPs treat Internet traffic. The FCC's tentative net neutrality vote in May was 3-2, with Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly dissenting. What Happened When Some Libertarians Went Off to Build Ayn Rand's Vision of Paradise. September 11, 2014 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. The theme of Ayn Rand’sAtlas Shrugged, according to Rand herself, is “what happens to the world when the Prime Movers go on strike.”

The prime movers are corporate executives – “the motor of the world” – and Rand imagines what would happen if they all just went away. To Rand this is nothing less than “a picture of the world with its motor cut off.” Ouch. In Rand’s novel the great, throbbing “motor of the world” (it’s made of executives, remember?) Which gets us to the fraud charges now swirling around a venture called “Galt’s Gulch of Chile.” “Yes, you read that right,” the organizer chirps. In what should be an unsurprising outcome, it didn’t turn out very well. As Gawker’s headline puts it, “Ayn Rand's Capitalist Paradise Is Now a Greedy Land-Grabbing Shitstorm.”

Atlas Shrugged opens with a question (“Who is John Galt?”) How misguided, how downright strange is Atlas Shrugged? Atheists' Flawed Understanding of Terrorism: Why Sam Harris Fails to Understand the 'Islamic Threat' September 15, 2014 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. Christopher Hitchens said that while atheism does not guarantee a smarter-than-thou intellect, an atheist’s intellectual advantage is his ability to reject false notions on face value. Harris’ recent blog “ Sleepwalking Towards Armageddon” is presumably an oblique reply to my recent Alternet op-ed. “What are their [terrorists] real motivations? Harris’ bestseller End of Faith reads as a response to the terror attacks of 9/11. The Suicide Terrorism Database at Flinders University in Australia, which documents all suicide bombings committed in the Middle East between 1981 and 2006, demonstrates that it is politics, not religious fanaticism that leads terrorists to blow themselves up.

Remember #BringBackOurGirls? This Is What Has Happened In The 5 Months Since. The Business of America is Dirty Tricks - The Baffler. Any glance at the inert state of political progress in our market-addled age has to leave even the most dogged investigator a bit bewildered. We live, after all, in an era of economic and ideological drift—of street occupations and ballot-box insurgencies. Yet our institutions of national government remain in shameful fealty to a laissez-faire fantasy. With metronomic predictability, the wise men of Washington preach austerity amid a raging jobs recession and wish away the bulwarks of economic security that make life in these United States (barely) tolerable for fixed-income retirees and poor people who have had the unpardonable bad taste to fall ill.

One answer comes from a place that few Americans spend much time thinking about: the stodgy and terminally respectable U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group best known for its civic booster speeches and “young entrepreneur” scholarships. What has the U.S. The Vanilla Putsch The Powell Doctrine Law and Order Victims Unit The Right Stuff. How The New York Times Overhyped The Benefits Of Fracking. If America's fracking boom is creating a job boom, it's hard to tell. Maybe you've heard of the miraculous job-creating powers of fracking. President Barack Obama has claimed fracking could create 600,000 jobs.

The Chamber of Commerce has declared that fracking creates "millions of jobs. " This week, The New York Times gave fracking credit for "a transformation spreading across the heartland of the nation," one "changing the economic calculus for old industries and downtrodden cities alike. " Workers on a natural-gas well in Pennsylvania. The story focused on a patch of Ohio from Youngstown to Canton, where "entire sectors like manufacturing, hotels, real estate and even law are being reshaped. " It suggested fracking -- where you pound rock with water, sand and chemicals to release the natural gas trapped inside, along with rainbows and unicorn farts and American jobs -- had made Ohio's job market better than the rest of America's. The picture's a little better in Canton, but not much. DNA evidence overturns 30-year convictions in US case.

Colonization by Bankruptcy: The High-stakes Chess Match for Argentina. If Argentina were in a high-stakes chess match, the country’s actions this week would be the equivalent of flipping over all the pieces on the board. – David Dayen, Fiscal Times, August 22, 2014 Argentina is playing hardball with the vulture funds, which have been trying to force it into an involuntary bankruptcy. The vultures are demanding what amounts to a 600% return on bonds bought for pennies on the dollar, defeating a 2005 settlement in which 92% of creditors agreed to accept a 70% haircut on their bonds. A US court has backed the vulture funds; but last week, Argentina sidestepped its jurisdiction by transferring the trustee for payment from Bank of New York Mellon to its own central bank. That play, if approved by the Argentine Congress, will allow the country to continue making payments under its 2005 settlement, avoiding default on the majority of its bonds.

The upside for Argentina was captured by President Fernandez in a nationwide speech on August 19th. . . . Sale of the century: the privatisation scam | Politics. Train fares are going up. We learned that last week, although "learn" is putting it strongly. We knew they would. It's not as if they would go down: train fares go up, like electricity bills, gas bills, water bills, rent and chief executives' salaries. To the loyalists of the Thatcher-Blair-Cameron succession, higher train fares are a positive, because they mean lower subsidies: another incremental step in a 35-year programme to shift the burden of paying for infrastructure from the well-off to the strugglers.

A trio of awkward synthetic words has begun to appear among the owners of private train companies that looks as if a computer has been asked to name the new musketeers: Abellio; Govia; Keolis. I imagine they will do a decent job. One winter's morning in 1991 I loaded a guitar, a condensed edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and a Teach Yourself Russian course into an old Volkswagen, left the house near Edinburgh where I had been staying and drove to Kiev. Hollywood’s stance on abortion makes the 1980s look liberal | Hadley Freeman. What are the main reasons men pay for sex? 21 August 2014Last updated at 20:02 ET By Charlotte McDonald BBC News There's a stereotypical image of the kind of men who go to prostitutes.

But how do they explain paying for sex? Fred and Laura go on walks, take weekend breaks away, amble round markets and often have meals out. They have a laugh together over things they've seen on TV. But they can fight and argue too. In Fred's kitchen, while he prepares the evening meal, Laura sits and giggles, admitting it was a good job she wasn't the one cooking. Like any couple they have their ups and downs. Fred pays Laura to spend time with him, and have sex with him. They have been seeing each other for six years. The debate about whether there's something wrong with buying sex, and whether it should be illegal, is heated and unresolved. "We first met online on a message board," says Fred, who is retired, "and I asked her if she would like to spend the night in a hotel with me. " Robert has been married for many years. She turned to Graham. STOP SHARK FINNING. Shark Conservation Society - Bude, Cornwall | Working To Protect Sharks Across The Globe.

6 Real Diseases That Have Somehow Become Trendy. 29 Images That Will Change How You Picture History. The most important battle you've probably never heard of. The 'Shocking' Truth About Net Neutrality | Timothy Karr. If Fashion Ads Treated Men And Women The Same Way. Benjamin Netanyahu Stops Pretending To Support A Sovereign Palestinian State. There Is Now a Golden Opportunity For Taking the Railway Back Into Public Ownership | Katy Clark.

Spain lifts blocks on file-sharing websites. Robert Hardaway: Reagan/Bush Amnesty Agenda an Economic Catastrophe for Minorities and Legal Immigrants. Female Cyber Sleuths Hack Into Silicon Valley’s Boys Club. Assassin's Creed Unity is a backward step for progressive games. 16 Famous Mysteries That Everyone Forgets Have Been Solved. Do doctors understand test results? Guerrilla Skepticism of Sylvia Browne on Wikipedia. Egg Balancing and more (lots more) How low can Oprah Winfrey go? Promoting faith healer John of God to the masses. Monty Python's John Cleese Slams BBC, Saying They 'Don't Understand' Comedy And Produce 'An Awful Amount Of Crap' We're Not Sure If Nerf Guns Make The Gun Control Debate More Or Less Ridiculous. Conservatives, Evil and Psychopathy: Science Makes the Link! Students From 19 Countries Demand End to Economics Curriculum That Blocks Progress on Everything from Food Security to Climate Change.

You're Probably Investing In Gun Companies And Don't Know It. Nversnitch Surveillance Art Project Is Spying On You Via Lamps. Aereo squares off with television broadcasters at US supreme court | Media. Did removing lead from petrol spark a decline in crime? France's silent tea revolution. Egypt election: Hamdeen Sabahi to run against Sisi. Attorney General Vows to Crack Down on 'Insider Trading 2.0' Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy. The Contradictions of the American Electorate. 7 Things RBS Hoped You Would Not Notice In Its Clifford Chance Report.

Bob Cesca: 13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush's Watch Without a Peep from Fox News. The tea party radio network - Kenneth P. Vogel and Mackenzie Weinger. North Dakota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Law Ruled 'Invalid And Unconstitutional' 24 Applicants Were Terrified To Do This Job. Then They Found Out Why Billions Already Do It. These 9 Words Don't Mean What You Think They Mean.