The Illusion of Choice

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According to this chart via Reddit, called “The Illusion of Choice,” these corporations create a chain that begins at one of 10 super companies. You’ve heard of the biggest names, but it’s amazing to see what these giants own or influence.

Note [t]he chart shows a mix of networks. Parent companies may own, own shares of, or may simply partner with their branch networks. For example, Coca-Cola does not own Monster, but distributes the energy drink.

What is true for consumer products is similarly true for news and information:

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I will, however, stop before the chart on financial institutional control in the United States. It’s just too depressing, even for me.

Reddit via PolicyMic.

Themed Restaurant Serves Food from America’s “Enemies”

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Folks who find themselves in Pittsburgh have an unusual opportunity for world cuisine: Conflict Kitchen rotates a variety of cuisines, all original to countries with which the United States doesn’t politically agree. This take-out restaurant has served Cuban, Venezuelan, Afghan and Iranian food, highlighting the fact that even if the United States doesn’t agree with a country politically, Americans still enjoy these international cuisines.

Via Roadtrippers.

The Invisible Man of Shandong, China

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Liu works on a single photo for up to 10 hours at a time, to make sure he gets it just right, but he achieves the right effect: sometimes passers-by don’t even realize he is there until he moves.

Liu Bolin says his art is a protest against the actions of the Government, who shut down his art studio in 2005 and persecutes artists. It’s about not fitting into modern society.

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Images via The Telegraph.
Via Oddity Central.

The Hospital Ships of the United States Navy

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In recent years, the Navy has started dispatching dozens of hospital ships—some as big as shopping malls—to aid developing nations. The crews consist of doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, volunteers, and even acupuncturists.

After years of failing to pacify Iraq with firepower, the Pentagon decided it needed to think outside the arsenal. The result was a new theory called “soft power.”

The idea is to send the military into potential conflict zones—along with other government agencies and civilian volunteers—years before any fighting breaks out. The troops hand out free medical care, aid local governments, and build roads and schools.

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The Navy’s two largest hospital ships, the Comfort and the Mercy, are 900-ft.-long modified oil tankers with triage bays, surgical wards, and 1,000 patient beds.

According to Captain James Ware, the medical operations commander on the Comfort, his staff of nearly 200 doctors and nurses can perform almost any procedure, from plastic surgery to physical therapy. The only things they can’t do are open-heart surgery, total joint replacement, and organ transplants, because they lack certain specialized pieces of equipment.

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Via Neatorama.

The Principality of Sealand

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The Principality of Sealand is an unrecognised entity, located on HM Fort Roughs, a former Second World War Maunsell Sea Fort in the North Sea 13 kilometres off the coast of Suffolk, England, United Kingdom.

Since 1967 the facility has been occupied by family and associates of Paddy Roy Bates, who claim that it is an independent sovereign state. Bates seized it from a group of pirate radio broadcasters in 1967.

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Although Roy Bates claimed it is de facto recognised by the United Kingdom (after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand as territorial water limitations were defined at that time) this action does not constitute de jure recognition.

In 1987, the UK extended its territorial waters from three to twelve miles. Sealand now sits inside waters that Britain claims as its territory.

The United Kingdom is one of 162 states to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (in force since 1994), which states in part V, article 60, that: “Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.”

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Sealand has been involved in several commercial operations, including the issuing of coins and postage stamps and the establishment of an offshore Internet hosting facility, or “data haven”.

In January 2007, The Pirate Bay attempted to purchase Sealand after harsher copyright measures in Sweden forced them to look for a base of operations elsewhere.

After HavenCo’s unexpected collapse, Sealand’s government began the process of building an online casino. The casino is expected to open by the end of 2012, and would employ about 30 staff members to work in Sealand.

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Even Sealand has its share of military conflicts, however:

One of his subjects was a German entrepreneur, Alexander Achenbach, with whom Bates had been negotiating to convert Sealand into a tax-free casino and hotel. The plan faltered after the pair argued over money and in 1978 Achenbach took revenge. German and Dutch mercenaries landed from helicopters while Bates and his family were away.

Bates dusted down his old military combats and reconquered his territory in a daring pre-dawn raid.

The mercenaries were released “under the Geneva Convention” but Achenbach’s lawyer, Gernot Pütz, was taken hostage. Pütz was interned on the fort until substantial compensation was paid.

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Via Wikipedia and The Times.

Red Shoes in Memory of the Murders of Ciudad Juarez

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Red women’s shoes are on display outside Mexico’s consulate in El Paso in the U.S. Dozens of red shoes were put on display by visual artist Elina Chauvet in honor of the hundreds of women and girls who were killed in Ciudad Juarez.

Long associated with crime and corrupt police, Ciudad Juarez has seen the murders of hundreds of women and girls since 1993. Despite international pressure to solve the murders, including support from writers, singers and Amnesty International, most cases remain mysteries.

More info available at Wikipedia.
Via The Baltimore Sun.