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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers

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On August 19, 1977, Groucho Marx died at the age of 86. He spent more than 70 of those years entertaining those around him. Fifty years later, Marx Brothers movies are still entertaining generations who never knew them in life. To mark the milestone, you might enjoy some stories about Groucho and his brothers Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

Read more about the Marx Brothers at Mental Floss.

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zippy72
1 day ago
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Goodbye and Good Riddance to Operation Choke Point

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A financial dragnet that ensnared porn stars, gun dealers, payday lenders, and other politically disfavored small businesses has been shut down.

Operation Choke Point launched in 2012 as a joint effort between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. (The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would later get involved too.) It was supposed to be a crackdown on online payday lenders making loans into states where high-interest lending is illegal. It quickly morphed into a questionably constitutional attack on a wide range of entrepreneurs who found their assets frozen or their bank accounts closed because they were considered "high-risk" for fraud.

In a letter to Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd called Operation Choke Point "a misguided initiative" and confirmed that DOJ was closing those investigations, Politico reported late Thursday night.

"Law abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor," Boyd wrote. "All of the Department's bank investigations conducted as part of Operation Chokepoint are now over, the initiative is no longer in effect, and it will not be undertaken again."

If anything, Boyd is understating the degree to which Operation Choke Point was unlawful and just plain creepy.

The repudiation of Operation Choke Point is a welcome development, says Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute.

"It should serve as a warning that the government doesn't get to flag for banks—or businesses generally—which legal-but-suspect domestic customers it would like them to ostracize," Olson told Reason on Friday. "Those in power must refrain from signaling that they'd be pleased if certain categories of otherwise legal customer get cut off from their access to economic life."

Operation Choke Point began as an extension of the Obama administration's Financial Fraud Task Force, but the dragnet investigation was never given proper statutory authority by either the administration or Congress. In fact, details about Operation Choke Point were deliberately withheld from Congress at first, a fact The Wall Street Journal uncovered in 2013.

By labeling certain industries as being at a high risk for fraud, the feds were able to increase oversight requirements for some accounts to such a high level that it became unprofitable for banks to work with certain clients, explained Iain Murray, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's vice president of strategy, in a 2014 post at National Review Online.

As Murray pointed out, the Obama administration's own guidance document for the program included a list of industries targeted with greater scrutiny, including payday loans, credit repair services, fireworks, firearms, ammunition, "As Seen on TV" products, gambling, home-based charities, pornography, online pharmaceuticals, and sweepstakes. Targets of Operation Choke Point—such as porn star Teagan Presley, who was profiled by Vice News in 2014—often didn't have any idea why their bank accounts were being frozen or closed.

"The very premise is clearly chilling—the DOJ is coercing private businesses in an attempt to centrally engineer the American marketplace based on it's own politically biased moral judgment," wrote Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown in 2014.

Republicans have criticized Operation Choke Point for years. An ongoing congressional effort to reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau included a provision that would have reined in the operation.

There's no compelling reason for the government to stop individuals from engaging in the free exchange of goods and services based on nothing more concrete than the suspicion that some of those exchanges could be tainted by fraud. Operation Choke Point was a wide-ranging, illegal investigation that chose its targets for reasons grounded in little more than than officials' own sense of morality, and it's closure is a clear win for liberty.

Now, if only we could get DOJ to apply such level-headed, clear-eyed analysis to civil asset forfeiture.

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zippy72
1 day ago
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The idea that they would close people's accounts because they _might_ commit fraud at some point in the future is disturbing...
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kazriko
2 days ago
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Album Feature: Acid Mothers Temple

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Legendary Japanese ensemble Acid Mothers Temple played at WFMU's Monty Hall earlier this year and generously shared their music with the Free Music Archive. Acid Mothers Temple Soul Collective has been in existence for more than twenty years, touring the world in various forms. Their bandleader, Kawabata Makoto, has been at the heart of the project from the beginning.

Though we love sharing audio from performances (you can stream or download below, or visit the artist page on FMA), this one is also worth watching, if you have time. We've embedded it below for your psychedelic-freakout-enjoyment, courtesy of WFMU: 

 

Acid Mothers Temple from WFMU on Vimeo.

A freak-out group for the 21st century was founded in 1995 by members of the Acid Mothers Temple soul-collective and led by Kawabata Makoto.

This is their Monty Hall Performance from April 24, 2017.

 



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zippy72
2 days ago
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I love Acid Mothers Temple. Saving this to watch later.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger to white supremacists: your heroes are losers

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Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers the speech Trump should have made in response to the Charlottesville violence. He also has a few choice things to say about white supremacists and neo-Nazis; in short they are a cancer and are losers.

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zippy72
3 days ago
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The Economist Goes There (Again)

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After a few months off from lambasting President Trump on the cover, Economist publisher, Lynn Forrester de Rothschild, has decided now is the time to go after him again...

 

As a reminder, it was just February when The Economist turned the fearmongery amplifier to '11' in its latest op-ed describing the 'insurgency in The White House'.

Washington is in the grip of a revolution, The Economist begins...

The bleak cadence of last month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped...

 

...In politics chaos normally leads to failure. With Mr Trump, chaos seems to be part of the plan. Promises that sounded like hyperbole in the campaign now amount to a deadly serious revolt aimed at shaking up Washington and the world.

 

To understand Mr Trump’s insurgency, start with the uses of outrage. In a divided America, where the other side is not just mistaken but malign, conflict is a political asset. The more Mr Trump used his stump speeches to offend polite opinion, the more his supporters were convinced that he really would evict the treacherous, greedy elite from their Washington salons.

 

His grenade-chuckers-in-chief, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, have now carried that logic into government.

 

...

 

Americans who reject Mr Trump will, naturally, fear most for what he could do to their own country. They are right to worry, but they gain some protection from their institutions and the law. In the world at large, however, checks on Mr Trump are few. The consequences could be grave.

 

Without active American support and participation, the machinery of global co-operation could well fail...

 

If Mr Trump truly wants to put America First, his priority should be strengthening ties, not treating allies with contempt...

 

America’s allies must strive to preserve multilateral institutions for the day after Mr Trump, by bolstering their finances and limiting the strife within them. And they must plan for a world without American leadership.

 

A web of bilateralism and a jerry-rigged regionalism are palpably worse for America than the world Mr Trump inherited. It is not too late for him to conclude how much worse, to ditch his bomb-throwers and switch course. The world should hope for that outcome. But it must prepare for trouble.

 

Read more here (if you dare)...

Scared yet? You should be...

And then turned its attention back to the old Russia story...

For an American president to suggest that his own country is as murderous as Russia is unprecedented, wrong and a gift to Moscow’s propagandists. And for Mr Trump to think that Mr Putin has much to offer America is a miscalculation not just of Russian power and interests, but also of the value of what America might have to give up in return.

Warning ominously that...

The quest for a grand bargain with Mr Putin is delusional. No matter how great a negotiator Mr Trump is, no good deal is to be had. Indeed, an overlooked risk is that Mr Trump, double-crossed and thin-skinned, will end up presiding over a dangerous and destabilising falling-out with Mr Putin.

 

Better than either a bargain or a falling-out would be to work at the small things to improve America’s relations with Russia. This might include arms control and stopping Russian and American forces accidentally coming to blows. Congressional Republicans and his more sensible advisers, such as his secretaries of state and defence, should strive to convince Mr Trump of this. The alternative would be very bad indeed.

In case you're wondering if The Economist suggests any redeeming features, any 'fair and balanced' perspective of the new 'leader of the free world' - the answer is simple - no.

But then again - when your published - Lynn Forrester de Rothschild was a "loyal adoring pal" of Team Clinton...

What chance do you stand of getting anything other than trite scaremongering to maintain their narrative.

*  *  *

Finally we leave it to Ron Paul to sum things up perfectly...

"Americans don’t realize the extent of the media brainwashing to which they are subjected"

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zippy72
3 days ago
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OK, I've waited long enough. Time to subscribe to The Economist, I think.
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Cloudflare CEO Terminates Neo-Nazi Site After 'Waking Up in a Bad Mood'

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Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

 

The CEO of Cloudfare, Mathew Prince had enough of the Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi site dedicated to fomenting strife amongst races. In an email sent to employees, Prince described his actions as 'arbitrary', saying 'literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.'

Here is the full email.

Earlier today Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services again.

This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.

Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I’d talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. I called our legal team and told them what we were going to do. I called our Trust & Safety team and had them stop the service. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.

Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous. I’ll be posting something on our blog later today. Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.

(Cloudflare employee’s name redacted) asked after I told him what we were going to do: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but I actually think it’s an important question. It’s important that what we did today not set a precedent. The right answer is for us to be consistently content neutral. But we need to have a conversation about who and how the content online is controlled. We couldn’t have that conversation while the Daily Stormer site was using us. Now, hopefully, we can.

I’ll be publishing a blog post with all our thoughts on this issue in a few hours. Until then, I’d ask that you not talk about this externally.

Matthew Prince

Co-founder & CEO

In a blog post describing his decision, Prince openly admits that being judge and jury of what is acceptable content is almost an impossible task, saying that without his companies protection, hackers could easily take down sites they disagree with.

The size and scale of the attacks that can now easily be launched online make it such that if you don't have a network like Cloudflare in front of your content, and you upset anyone, you will be knocked offline. In fact, in the case of the Daily Stormer, the initial requests we received to terminate their service came from hackers who literally said: "Get out of the way so we can DDoS this site off the Internet."

You, like me, may believe that the Daily Stormer's site is vile. You may believe it should be restricted. You may think the authors of the site should be prosecuted. Reasonable people can and do believe all those things. But having the mechanism of content control be vigilante hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice.

And here's the rub. The CEO is obviously conflicted about his actions, taking down a website that he disagrees with. His screed is practically a cry for help, yet he's doing it in spite of all that. I am shocked that his attorneys permitted him to post this rant, since it opens him up to all sorts of legal issues. Here he is admitting what he's doing is wrong, wielding the power to arbitrarily take down a site because he woke up in a bad mood -- then expecting the world to see it his way and respect his decision.

He concludes:

Someone on our team asked after I announced we were going to terminate the Daily Stormer: "Is this the day the Internet dies?" He was half joking, but only half. He's no fan of the Daily Stormer or sites like it. But he does realize the risks of a company like Cloudflare getting into content policing.

There's a saying in legal circles that hard cases make bad law. We need to be careful of that here. What I do hope is it will allow us all to discuss what the framework for all of the organizations listed above should be when it comes to content restrictions. I don't know the right answer, but I do know that as we work it out it's critical we be clear, transparent, consistent and respectful of Due Process.

Corporations like Cloudflare and the big web hosting companies literally control the flow of traffic and can do the job that a fascist government wishes it could impose on its people. The political environment is so aggressive now, the leftist tech community are now emboldened to intermingle their views with their business practices. Who in their right mind can make the claim that America is accepting of dissent and permissive of free speech anymore?

By definition, freedom of speech is allowing hate speech to exist. Now that we've crossed the rubicon of freedom of expression, all for the good of the public, expect the environment online to get increasingly toxic.

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kazriko
3 days ago
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I sympathize with the CEO of Cloudflare, this was obviously a difficult decision. It's regrettable that someone had to be so toxic that they forced their hand on this.
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zippy72
3 days ago
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Hmm. Someone left-leaning loses their job, and it's all "freedom of speech doesn't protect you from consequences, they deserved to be fired". And in this case it's "freedom of speech is so important you should be protected from all consequences".

Well, suck it up, Buttercup. You're not a special little Trumpflake.
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