Friday, January 27, 2012

Twitter vs. Freedom of Content

"We do not remove Tweets on the basis of their content. Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users' right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed." So said Twitter last January as revolutions began in the Middle East and North Africa.

Yet now Twitter has announced that they will begin censoring tweets. "Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country while keeping it available in the rest of the world. As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. We do not remove Tweets on the basis of their content. Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users' right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed." Clearly a totally different message.

Whilst Twitter did not go into full specifics, they used France and Germany as examples. In both of those countries pro nazi messages are illegal, so any tweets deemed to be such would not be visible there. Twitter did state that users who's tweets are blocked would be informed of such. Likely in a way similar to how they're told of being over the daily status update allowance or that their tweet is a duplicate.

And thanks to their being unspecific on what content won't be allowed, Twitter has now given itself carte blanche to hide or remove any and all tweets. So much for being the leader of free speech, or as Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray declared them to be "the free speech wing of the free speech party".

Pentagon Proposes Cuts

The Pentagon has announced it's proposal for a reduced budget. The reductions would total $487 billion over the next ten years. Included in the proposal are troop reductions, cutting planned purchases, closing bases, cutting pay raises, and increasing the costs of health insurance fees.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that the Army would be reduced over the next five years from 570,000 troops down to 490,000. Meanwhile the Marines will drop from 202,000 to 182,000. A totally of 100,000 troops being removed would put the armed forces just barely above pre 9-11 strength. The Air Force would be losing six of it's tactical fighter squadrons and be forced to retire 130 troop moving aircraft. Whilst the Navy is required to retire seven cruisers and a few other ships. The Pentagon would also buy fewer F-35 jets. The Navy will delay buying around a dozen ships. As for closing bases, which are unclear, but the Army would begin by pulling two of its four brigades out of permanent bases in Europe to bases in the United States, and would increase rotational deployments to the remaining bases so that more units would have an opportunity to train with NATO allies.

The proposed changes to pay raises and increased costs of the health care for vets and their families would not begin until 2015. Currently the Pentagon spends almost a third of it's budget, $181 billion a year, on salaries and benefits. There are severe worries over active duty and retired members facing what could be a large part of the proposed cuts. Healthcare costs, going up would directly hurt the pocket books of all involved, especially disabled retirees who may be unable to bring in other forms of income.

Even before the proposal was official, various members of Congress were already coming out against it. Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was quoted as saying "I'm not going to be able to support" it. "These cuts reflect President Obama';s vision of an America that is weakened, not strengthened, by our men and women in uniform," said Howard P. McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

The Hippie Homemaker-Homemade Shampoo and "Conditioner"

Hey all!

First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Keely, I'm a baker, crafter and intrigued by all things domestic. I'll be guest blogging here at TORARADICAL once a week. You can also find me at

About 6 months ago I switched from using traditional hair care and body products and now use only natural/homemade products. That spurred my interest in all things natural and slowly I am attempting to even transition out of commercial house cleaning products (as it turns out there are so many natural things that are anti-bacterial it makes you wonder why cleaning products were invented in the first place).

Some may say I'm crazy (and some may say I smell like a salad, more on that later) but I would argue that neither of those are true. Why buy something that you can make in a mater of minutes? Why use products that claim they are good for your hair and skin when really they are just designed to make you use them more? Why cover your house in chemicals when you can use things from your pantry to achieve the same effect?

I first decided to switch to all natural bath products when I saw the huge success and following of the no-poo revolution. This involves using baking soda as "shampoo" and a vinegar rinse as "conditioner." At the time, I was dying my hair red and upon further investigation I found that baking soda will slowly strip the color out of your hair. This led me to search for an alternative to commercial shampoo that wouldn't ruin my hair color.

I found a handful of posts on using liquid castile soap to create a healthy, natural shampoo that allows you to only wash your hair every 3-5 days! How great is that!?!?! After some adjusting the recipe to my particular hair texture and a bit of a transition period (ok it was a little bit longer than a bit, but I was determined and decided that a month of greasy hair was worth it, sorry about that world). In the end I came up with this recipe. I hope you give it a shot! My hair is so much healthier and shiner!

Homemade shampoo
1 1/2 cups Dr. Bronner's castile soap (any scent you prefer)
1/2 distilled water (this can be bought in a gallon for about a dollar at any grocery store)
1 tablespoon avocado oil
8-10 drops of any essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients into an old shampoo bottle and shake gently. Enjoy!

FYI This shampoo is going to be a lot thinner than commercial shampoos because it does not contain any thickening agents. Instead of rubbing it in your hands first it is best to squirt directly on your head. If you feel that your hair is not getting clean you can add more soap.

So now that you have an all natural shampoo you must be wondering what you are supposed to do for conditioner. That's a toss up amongst us hippie folk. Some people make conditioners out of egg yolks, mayonnaise and other weird things that I don't really want to put on my head. My solution to the problem is quite simple. Are you ready for this? (It's also the reason some might argue that I smell like a salad...)

Homemade "conditioner"
2 cups water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

That's it, that's all you need. Put the two ingredients in a bottle and squeeze a bit over your head after you wash, then rinse. See, isn't that a simple solution to the problem.

Some science! (This is the part where I try to sound smart).
First off, I'm sure that you are concerned about the smell from the vinegar. I promise, you won't smell, once your hair dries the smell goes away. Also, you must be wondering why the vinegar is a conditioner. First off, it eliminates any potential residue from the soap.

Any vinegar will do, but apple cider vinegar is best. The unfiltered kind contains the vinegar "mother." The mother contains enzymes and minerals which are great for your skin and hair. Also, the acid in the vinegar will help to restore a pH balance on your scalp which will in turn keep your hair healthy. Simple as that.

As for the shampoo, the castile soap is naturally less harsh than soap that is made out of animal fat. This means that it removes less oil from your hair in the first place (which is why you don't have to replace it with a conditioner). This in combination with the vinegar rinse will leave your hair looking shiny and feeling nice, smooth, and in my case, my hair feels thicker, because it is healthier.

Enjoy! And I will chat with you next week!