Monday, May 26, 2014

China Will Scrap 5 Million Cars to Ease Pollution

China Will Scrap 5 Million Cars to Ease Pollution

China Will Scrap 5 Million Cars to Ease Pollution

Posted: 26 May 2014 11:46 AM PDT

China plans to eliminate more than 5 million aging cars from its streets in a bid to improve air quality, Reuters reports.

In a report outlining a plan to cut growing emissions over the next two years, published on Monday, the government said 5.3 million vehicles that don't meet Chinese fuel standards will be removed from the road, including 330,000 in the smog-plagued capital Beijing.

It's not clear how the country will implement the plan, but in the past Beijing has offered subsidies of between 2,500-14,500 yuan ($400-2,300) to drivers who turn in their cars, according to Reuters.

The policy document published Monday, which also set new goals for reducing coal-fired heating systems and other emissions, said China was aiming to speed up cuts in carbon emissions as it looks to keep pace with a five-year plan to reduce emissions per unit of economic growth by 17 percent by 2015.


California Shooter’s Misogynistic Rants Inspire #YesAllWomen

Posted: 26 May 2014 11:36 AM PDT

A killing rampage in California apparently borne out of hatred for females has inspired women to tweet about their experiences of everyday misogyny using the hashtag #YesAllWomen

Elliot Rodger, who killed six people before taking his own life, left behind a disturbing internet footprint of misogyny, hatred, and self-pity across the Internet on sites like YouTube,, and Roger also wrote a 141-page manifesto entitled “My Twisted World.”

Women across the world have used the issues raised by Rodger’s horrific act of violence as a springboard to speak up against global sexism. Since Friday’s killings, over 1,000,000 tweets decrying sexism, intimidation, and gender violence have carried the hashtag #YesAllWomen.

Obama Marks Memorial Day With Call for Better Veteran Care

Posted: 26 May 2014 10:23 AM PDT

President Barack Obama paid tribute to America's fallen members of the armed forces at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Monday to mark the Memorial Day holiday.

Obama, who returned hours earlier from a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan, pledged again to end the war there by the end of the year and called for better support for America's veterans, a nod to the recent troubles that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, who has faced calls to resign since it emerged that VA medical facilities had reportedly falsified records to cover up long waits for care, was in attendance.

"We must do more to keep faith with our veterans and their families," the President said. Those who had fought for their country, he added, must “get the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

Obama stopped short of directly addressing the issue, but in an interview airing Monday afternoon with CNN, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the idea of veterans on secret waiting lists being denied care “makes me sick to my stomach.”

“Because it is a clear responsibility we have as a country, as a people, to take care of these men and women and their families who sacrificed so much," said Hagel, who still backs Shinseki. "Let’s see what happened, why it happened, how it happened. Then we’ve got to fix it."

At Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, Obama also repeated his statement made in Afghanistan on Sunday that the U.S. was at a "pivotal moment" in Afghanistan, reiterating his pledge to pull out most troops by the end of the year.

"By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end," he said.

Obama spoke at Arlington on its 150th anniversary, and harked back to its creation amid the Civil War.

"We declared upon this hill a final resting place for those willing to lay down their lives for the country they loved," he said.

RECAP: Mad Men Watch: “Waterloo”

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:24 AM PDT

Sunday’s mid-season finale of Mad Men was officially titled “Waterloo,” but it may as well have been called “Bad News” — that’s all the characters seemed to get in the last episode before the series’ 2015 conclusion.

On the business front, Jim Cutler tries to get rid of Don Draper with an unceremonious termination letter after the agency fails to score Commander cigarettes. Cutler claims Don violated the terms of his return when he unexpectedly appeared at the Commander pitch meeting a few weeks ago, and he makes his feelings known: “You’re just a bully and a drunk.” Joan sides with Cutler, but a quick vote among the partners — minus Harry Crane, who’s become to SC&P and what Jerry Gergich is to Parks and Recreation — keeps him safe. (Pete, concerned about how the news will affect Don’s Burger Chef presentation, delivers the line of the episode: “That is a very sensitive piece of horse flesh! He shouldn’t be rattled!”)

When Don calls Megan to say he might be out of a job and could start over with her in California, she goes silent. Last week’s episode felt like the show was gearing up for Megan’s farewell in many ways, and Sunday’s finale did indeed pull the plug on their struggling marriage without much fanfare. The two handle things amicably: “I’ll always take care of you…I owe you that,” Don tells her, but Megan kindly rejects the offer. Weird, it’s almost like they’re adults or something. Once again, the most powerful Mad Men scenes are the ones where characters barely speak.

Nowhere was that more true than during the moon landing. Props to Mad Men for making a bunch of television characters sitting around anxiously watching television seem thrilling. It’s July 1969 in the Mad Men universe, and Neil Armstrong is making one giant leap for mankind on TV sets across the country. (A text I received mid-episode from my mother, who was a college student around this time: “Everyone in the world was watching that! You can’t imagine how riveting it was.”)

What made the episode especially touching was how these characters experienced history. Nearly everyone was surrounded by their loved ones, both traditional families and not. In a way, it almost reminded me of Love Actually: Roger is on the couch with Mona, his son-in-law and his grandson; the dysfunctional work family of SC&P is gathered on hotel beds on the eve of the Burger Chef pitch; Betty’s with the children, but Don talks to them by phone; and then there’s Bert Cooper, who’s joined only by his maid. That’s at once both adorable and sad, considering it’s the last time we see Bert Cooper alive. Of all the people I thought might die on Mad Men this season — Bob Benson, Megan Draper (despite Matthew Weiner’s protests), even Ted at the beginning — Bert somehow wasn’t on my list. But as Roger notes, we should have seen it coming: “Anytime an old man starts talking about Napoleon, you know they’re going to die.”

With Bert gone, the balance of power among the partners shifts, and Don’s no longer safe. He hands the Burger Chef presentation over to Peggy to ensure she has a future if he gets sacked. Though she’s daunted by the last-minute change, Don gives her the abridged version of last week’s pep talk: “I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t know you could.” And, oh, she can! Peggy’s Burger Chef presentation is a thing of beauty up there with the best of Don’s pitches. It’s a clever passing of the torch: “Every great ad tells a story. Here to tell that story is Peggy Olson,” Don says, repeating the line Peggy planned to use to introduce him. Peggy, dressed like the Scooby-Doo gang rolled into one, surprises everyone by pulling a classic Don Draper and veering off script. (Is there an Emmy Award for Most Expressive Furrowed Brow? Because Jon Hamm has that on lock.)

Two things stand out about Peggy’s presentation. First, though the moon landing showed just how unifying television can be, Peggy paints the good ol’ idiot box as something of a threat to family bonding at the dinner table. Second, she cites the neighbor boy Julio as an example of someone who’s always glued to the TV in her house, but she doesn’t clarify that he’s not actually her son. Maybe she’s bringing the housewife voice into her pitch, or maybe Mad Men is forcing Peggy to find alternative paths to “having it all.” Following last week’s early mid-life crisis about being 30 and single, the show almost suggests that Julio is the closest thing she’ll come to having a child. Not that Mad Men forgot about the baby she gave away seasons ago: When Julio says his family is moving, Peggy gets teary, not just because she’ll have to find someone else to ask for fashion advice, but because the news is an uncomfortable reminder of the sacrifices mothers make.

Back in the New York office, Bert’s death wakes Roger up from the dreamland he’s been sleepwalking through all season. Roger doesn’t want to lose Don, nor does he like the direction Cutler’s pushing the agency in, so he makes a pitch to rival agency McCann Erickson to buy the company. It’s an ideal situation: SC&P would operate independently under Roger’s leadership, but McCann would own their competition. The partners, even Cutler, are happy to learn they’ll become millionaires, but Ted Chaough nearly brings the deal to a halt as he tries to leave advertising and succumb to his “real feeling of wanting to die.” Fortunately, Don still has at least one more miraculous advertising pitch left in him, and he convinces Ted, usually the show’s voice of reason, to stay aboard and focus on creative work. “You don’t want to see what happens when it’s really gone,” he tells him — and if anybody would know, it’d be Don.

Over at Casa Betty, Sally is growing up quickly and getting a little boy-crazy, but her romantic choices this episode are ultimately overshadowed by Bert’s bizarre beyond-the-grave musical number. The moment, on pair with the infamous nipple incident, raises a few questions (why is Don having hallucinations?) and ominously foreshadows (singing “The Best Things in Life Are Free” before the partners make bank suggests money won’t buy happiness for long). But I think the meaning is ultimately quite simple: Robert Morse is an acclaimed musical theater actor, so what better way to send him off? The scene hints at a possible new agenda for Matthew Weiner in these final episodes: have some fun! (Why else would he have forever-clueless secretary Meredith suddenly come onto Don and promise to be his “strength” after finding his termination letter?)

But if there’s one scene that sums up where Mad Men is right now, it’s when Don entrusts Peggy with the Burger Chef presentation. While the beginning of the final season was all about Don accepting his new place in the world, these last few episodes seem to find Don grappling with how he’ll leave that world when he’s inevitably gone. Don wants to make sure Peggy doesn’t suffer any collateral damage from the consequences of his actions; he wants to make sure Megan is all squared away, despite the collapse of their marriage; even his renewed relationship with his children shows an awareness of his legacy. Don is far from taking part in a 12-step program here, but Sunday’s episode almost felt like a mission to make amends. It’s hard not to imagine Mad Men ending with Don trying to right his wrongs before the world simply moves on without him.

Watch: Giant Colorado Mudslide Leaves 3 Missing

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:15 AM PDT

Rescue teams in western Colorado are searching for three people missing after a four-mile long mudslide in Mesa County.

The mud is thought to be 250ft deep in places, the Associated Press reports, after an entire ridge collapsed in the wake of heavy rainfall.

The area is extremely remote, and authorities said it was unlikely any structures had been swallowed by the mudslide. The nearest major road, the I-70, is around 26 miles away from the area and not in any danger.

All of Tech’s Weirdest Mascots in One Place

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Facebook introduced an “expanded privacy checkup tool” Thursday, which is essentially a popup reminding users to check their privacy settings before they post. But nowhere in the company blog did the social network introduce the “Sorry to interrupt” blue prehistoric creature it has enlisted to disseminate it’s privacy advice.

Oh, polite little dinosaur who looks like he could be ripped straight from the pages of a Randi Zuckerberg children’s book, what is your name? Maybe the “Privacy settings are so easy your Grandpa could do it” dinosaur? The Wall Street Journal dubbed him “Privosaurus Rex.” Nick Bilton at the New York Times writes that Facebook tech writers have called him Zuckasaurus, after obvious parties. Facebook told Bilton that the dino beat out speech bubbles and a robot. But will he live on as a successful mascot, or go the way of the Fail Whale or even worse—the infamous Clippy?

Here are some of tech’s strangest mascots: some of whom you could never forget, and others you wish you could.

Perhaps the most polarizing of any tech mascot was Microsoft’s Clippy. While the virtual paperclip was polite like Zuckasaurus (is that what we’re going with?), he was a little too overeager. Just writing the word “Dear” would catapult him into literal acrobats to help you write the perfect letter.

Here’s Clippy looking dejected on his retirement day in 2011. He couldn’t even get it together in front of Bill Gates! Although we also might not be too happy if all we got after 11 years of service was a wrinkled T-shirt..

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates (C) presents a T-shirt as
Microsoft CEO Bill Gates presents a T-shirt as a retirement gift to “Clippy.” STAN HONDA—AFP/Getty Images


Twitter’s Fail Whale
There’s nothing quite like trying to conceal technological failures with whimsy. In times of need, the Fail Whale would appear, being carried out of the water by little Twitter birds.

The whale was harpooned at the end of 2013. As VP of engineering Christopher Fry explained to Wired, “In the end, it did represent a time when I don't think we lived up to what the world needed Twitter to be.” Now when Twitter breaks down, it shows a distressed robot instead.


Bitly’s Pufferfish
Bitly’s pufferfish mascot has gone through many different iterations. Neil Wehrle, VP of user experience at Betaworks which helped design the fish, told Mashable that some of the changes involved making him look like “more of a beach ball than a poison fish that can hurt you.” Here’s the mascot getting drunk (see bottom right):

We kind of preferred this look, but whatever.


Sun’s Java Mascot Named Duke
We don’t know much about Duke, save the fact that he looks to be both pointy and blob. He also has facial hair sometimes. When he isn’t coding, you can find Duke riding the L train in Brooklyn.


TiVo’s Smiling TiVo Guy
According to designer Michael Cronan, “I wanted to provide a kind of identity that would become as recognizable as the mouse ears are to Disney.” In other news, TiVo has legs and no arms.


Reddit’s Snoo
Snoo is ok. Although sometimes he ends up on firearms


Tech companies really like their monsters. They’re literally everywhere and all look basically the same. NHK’s Domo:

Yesware’s Yeti:

And AOL’s blue motivational monster:

Dog That Was Chased Away by Heroic Cat Has Been Put Down

Posted: 26 May 2014 08:52 AM PDT

The infamous dog that attacked a four-year-old child only to be fended off by a heroic cat in an episode caught on video has been put down, TMZ reports.

The dog, Scrappy, a mix between a labrador and a chow, was euthanized by animal control in Bakersfield, Calif. on Saturday. TMZ reports that the dog was aggressive even during his stay at the center, where he tried to attack staff members.

The video of the incident has been viewed more than 21 million times since it was uploaded to YouTube on May 14.

But thousands of people had signed onto online petitions like this one requesting that the dog, who was voluntarily surrendered to animal control, not be euthanized.

Tara, the “hero cat” who launched herself at the dog in the video, threw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game last week.


Ukraine Launches Air Strikes Against Gunmen

Posted: 26 May 2014 08:30 AM PDT

(DONETSK, Ukraine) — Ukraine’s new president-elect on Monday promised to negotiate an end to a pro-Russia insurgency in the east, saying he was willing to begin talks with Moscow, while the Kiev government launched an air strike on militants who occupied a major airport.

Russia quickly welcomed Petro Poroshenko’s offer for talks, raising hopes that his election will indeed ease the protracted crisis that has fueled tensions unseen since the end of the Cold War.

But Ukraine’s military launched airstrikes Monday against separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern capital of Donetsk in what appeared to be the most visible operation of the Ukrainian troops since they started a crackdown on insurgents last month.

In Donetsk, a city of one million, sustained artillery and gun fire was heard from the airport. Fighter jets and military helicopters were seen flying overhead, and dense black smoke rose in the air.

An Associated Press journalist saw several vehicles full of dozens of heavily armed men arrive to the area adjacent to the airport. Half an hour later, several flatbed trucks full of reinforcements came in.

Vladislav Seleznyov, a spokesman for Kiev’s anti-terrorist operation, wrote on his Facebook account that the military had given an ultimatum to the armed men who had occupied the airport to lay down their arms. He said the gunmen didn’t comply and the military launched an air strike.

Denis Pushilin, a leader of the separatists, said they had sent their men to the airport after some of their supporters were detained.

Many flights to or from Donetsk were delayed or canceled on Monday. Access to the airport was blocked by police.

In Kiev, international observers hailed Ukraine’s presidential vote as a “genuine election,” saying it was held freely and fairly.

Candy magnate Poroshenko, known for his pragmatism, supports building strong ties with Europe but also has stressed the importance of mending relations with Moscow. Upon claiming victory in Sunday’s vote, he said his first step as president would be to visit the Donbass eastern industrial region, where pro-Russia separatists have seized government buildings, declared independence and battled government troops in weeks of fighting.

“Peace in the country and peace in the east is my main priority,” Poroshenko said Monday, signaling that he would bring to an end the Ukrainian army’s much-criticized campaign to drive out the armed pro-Russia separatists.

The tycoon looked decidedly cool and composed Sunday night when the exit poll results were announced. On Monday, he got emotional when he was asked about the crisis in the east.

“The anti-terrorist operation cannot and should not last two or three months,” he said. “It should and will last hours.”

The military operation has caused civilian deaths and destroyed property — angering many eastern residents — while still failing to crush the rebellion.

The president-elect also had harsh words for the pro-Russia gunmen, comparing them to Somalian pirates.

“Their goal is to turn Donbass into a Somalia where they would rule with the power of machine guns. l will never allow that to happen on the territory of Ukraine,” Poroshenko said, adding that he hoped Russia would support his efforts to stabilize the east.

Poroshenko’s spokesman Andriy Zhigulin told the Associated Press that the date for his inauguration has not been set yet.

In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia appreciated Poroshenko’s statements about the importance of Ukraine’s ties with Russia and his pledge to negotiate an end to fighting in the east.

“We are ready for dialogue with representatives of Kiev, with Petro Poroshenko,” Lavrov said at a briefing, adding it was a chance that “cannot be wasted.” He emphasized that Moscow saw no need for any involvement by the United States or the European Union in those talks.

“We don’t need any mediators,” he said pointedly.

Lavrov also noted Russia’s longstanding call for the Kiev government to end its military operation in eastern Ukraine.

The rebels had vowed to block Sunday’s voting in the east. Less than 20 percent of the polling stations were open there after gunmen intimidated residents by smashing ballot boxes, shutting down polling centers and issuing threats.

But nationwide, about 60 percent of Ukraine’s 35.5 million eligible voters turned out Sunday, and long lines snaked around polling stations in the pro-Western capital, Kiev.

Joao Soares, special coordinator for the OSCE observer mission in Kiev, hailed Sunday’s vote and “a clear resolve of the authorities which resulted in a genuine election largely in line with international commitments.”

“Ukrainian authorities should be commended for their efforts in the extraordinary circumstances to facilitate an election” which was held in parts of Ukraine’s volatile east, Soares said.

He said monitors did see multiple threats, intimidation and abduction of election officials in the east, which is overrun by pro-Russian militia.

With votes from 75 percent of the precincts counted Monday, Poroshenko was leading with about 54 percent in the field of 21 candidates. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was running a distant second with 13 percent. If those results hold, Poroshenko would avoid a runoff election next month. Election officials said official results would be announced by June 5.

Speaking to reporters, Poroshenko struck a tone of unity Monday, saying he had no “rivals or political opponents in the race” and all of the other main candidates have congratulated him on his win.

“More than ever, Ukraine now needs to be united,” he said.

The election, which came three months after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was chased from office by crowds following months of street protests and allegations of corruption, was seen as a critical step toward resolving Ukraine’s protracted crisis.

Since his ouster in February, Russia has annexed the Crimea Peninsula in southern Ukraine, the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk have declared their independence from Kiev, and the interim Ukrainian government has launched an offensive in the east to quash an uprising.

The interim Kiev government and the West have accused Russia of backing the separatist uprising. Moscow has denied the accusations.

President Barack Obama praised Ukrainians for participating in the voting “despite provocations and violence.” Obama said the U.S. supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, rejects Russia’s “occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea” and is eager to work with the next president.


Vasilyeva reported from Kiev. Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov and Lynn Berry in Moscow and Laura Mills in Kiev contributed to this report.

‘Time Is Running Out’ To Stop Rising CO2 Levels, Says UN

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:47 AM PDT

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record high last month, according to the UN's weather agency, highlighting the need to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Monday that the monthly average CO2 concentration in the northern hemisphere surpassed 400 parts per million in April. CO2 levels have topped 400 before, but this is the first time the monthly average passed the threshold, which the UN says has “symbolic and scientific significance.”

“This should serve as yet another wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases which are driving climate change,” WMO chief Michel Jarraud said in a statement. “Time is running out.”

CO2 is most responsible for the warming effect on the climate and its concentration in the atmosphere has been increasing steadily over the past decade.

Crews Search for 3 People In Colorado Mudslide

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:22 AM PDT

(GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.) — Rescue teams are resuming the search for three men reported missing after a large mudslide in western Colorado.

The slide hit Sunday in a remote area near the town of Collbran, about 40 miles east of Grand Junction.

Mesa County Sheriff’s dispatcher Amanda Orr says three area residents are unaccounted for, and it’s unknown if they were in the area impacted by the massive slide.

A sheriff’s helicopter was surveying the slide area early Monday. The department said late Sunday it estimated the slide to be about 4 miles long, 2 miles wide and 250 feet deep in many places.

Authorities say no structures or major roads were affected.


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