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Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking call for ban on “autonomous weapons”

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Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and hundreds of artificial intelligence researchers and experts have signed a letter calling for a worldwide ban on “autonomous weapons.”

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Trump to the Future: “Back to the Future” + Donald Trump parody video

“Contrary to popular belief, the 2015 Donald Trump presidential campaign actually extends all the way back to 1985.”

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China gives outlaw artist Ai Weiwei his passport back. Finally. For now.

Ai Weiwei posted this picture on Instagram on Wednesday after the Chinese authorities returned his passport.


Ai Weiwei posted this picture on Instagram on Wednesday after the Chinese authorities returned his passport.

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese art-provocateur whose work so very consistently pisses off the Chinese government, says he was given back his passport this week after being barred from traveling abroad since he was detained in 2011 in Beijing.

“Today, I received a passport,” he told the world via Twitter and Instagram, attaching a selfie with the document.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Ai, who was a design consultant on the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing and exhibited his sculptural installation “Sunflower Seeds” at the Tate Modern in London, was detained in 2011 while trying to fly to Hong Kong from Beijing. He was held and interrogated for 81 days and later prosecuted on a charge of tax evasion. A court ruled against him and said his studio owed $2.4 million in penalties and back taxes.

He has said the case against him was retaliation for his political activism, including his memorializing the thousands of children who died in schools that collapsed during a 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province.

Ai Weiwei, Chinese Artist and Provocateur, Is Given Back His Passport [nytimes]

今天,我拿到了护照。

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

Trump threatens independent presidential run if Republicans are mean to him

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Washington HATES this. The Hill: "Pressed on whether he would run as a third-party candidate if he fails to clinch the GOP nomination, Trump said that “so many people want me to, if I don’t win.” “I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans,” Trump said. “Absolutely, if they’re not fair, that would be a factor.”"

Need a new reason to hate Donald Trump? His speaker fee is a quarter million bucks

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Donald Trump earns roughly $250,000 per speech, and owes $265 million (maybe more) in debt.

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Lawrence Lessig on how to fix America's campaign finance corruption problem

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“Real reform will require changing the way campaigns are funded — moving from large-dollar private funding to small-dollar public funding,” writes professor Lawrence Lessig in a New York Times op-ed today. Basically, what if elections relied more on lots of little contributions from lots of different regular working people, instead of relying on a small number of huge donations from the rich and powerful, or the big and powerful institutions that serve their interests.

Democrats, for example, have pushed for small-dollar public funding through matching systems, like New York City’s. Under a plan by Representative John Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, contributions could be matched up to nine to one, for candidates who agree to accept only small donations.

Republicans, too, are increasingly calling for small-dollar funding systems. The legal scholar Richard W. Painter, a former “ethics czar” for President George W. Bush, has proposed a $200 tax rebate to fund small-dollar campaigns. Likewise, Jim Rubens, a candidate in the Republican primary for Senate in New Hampshire last year, proposed a $50 tax rebate to fund congressional campaigns.

Either approach would radically increase the number of funders in campaigns, in that way reducing the concentration of large funders that especially typifies congressional and senatorial campaigns right now.

The Only Realistic Way to Fix Campaign Finance [nytimes.com]

How you can contribute to whistleblower Chelsea Manning's legal defense fund

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We’re proud to announce a major new crowd-funding campaign in support of whistleblower Chelsea Manning to help pay for her important legal appeal.

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Bloom County to return for 2016 election cycle


It's been 25 years since Berkeley Breathed retired from writing and drawing Bloom County, but in a new Facebook post, he indicates that the 2016 election cycle is too tempting an occasion for satire to sit out.

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Welsh government responds in Klingon to UFO questions

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Darren Millar, the Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales, posed three questions to Welsh economy, science and transport minister Edwina Hart about recent UFO sightings and funding research into the phenomena. A Welsh government spokesperson responded in Klingon:

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Satan's merry pranksters

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Remember the fun Satanic Temple that fought to put a statue of Baphomet on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol and held a "pink mass" at the grave of the mother of Wesboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps to turn her "gay in the afterlife?" The New York Times talked to the Satanic Temple's two chief instigators, "Malcolm Jarry" and "Lucien Greaves" (aka Douglas Mesner), about their approach to poignant political pranksterism in the face of conservative Christianity.

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US says hackers stole Social Security numbers from 21.5 million people in OPM data breach

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said today that hackers stole sensitive data, including social security numbers, of about 21.5 million people from background investigation databases.

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Trump says he'll win the Latino vote

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Trump today: “I’ll win the Latino vote because I’ll create jobs. I’ll create jobs and the Latinos will have jobs they didn’t have, I’ll do better on that vote than anybody, I will win that vote."

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Donald Trump piñatas for sale in Mexico

Donald_Trump_Piatas_for_Sale-936b454fd2bc5d0d108ccc37912cde0e In response to Donald Trump's recent idiotic, racist comments about Mexico and its people, piñata maker Dalton Ramirez of border city Reynosa added a fun new character to his product line.

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How the entire internet is reacting to SCOTUS gay marriage ruling (and it's beautiful)

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Because #lovewins.

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A timelapse of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, from season 3 through 20

Seizure warning. Billy Chasen, who edited this amazing supercut, says try to watch in HD. He's right.

Chasen explains,

I've been watching The Daily Show ever since Jon Stewart took over for Craig Kilborn and I declared, "this'll never work!" This is my send off to his profound impact as host.

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AP: photos of Ted Cruz with gun pointed at head not intended to be negative

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Oops.

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Rent-a-crowd agency happy with business from politicians

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Are you occasionally confused by the sparkly, shrieking jubilation of political rallies? Easily put down to partisan ardor, it is like so much else, often plainly fake.

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