The card game we couldn't make (and then someone else did)



"Our game was depraved, immoral, and filthy," writes Nicole Dieker. "But that's not why we killed it."
At 4:08 p.m. on May 8, 2012, I sent my friend Alice Lee an email, subject line “A super idea for a card game that is SURE TO MAKE MONEY OH YEAH.”
A'ight.
So Dirty Balderdash was fun but seriously all you need for that is an actual game of Balderdash (or, barring that, a dictionary).
But what about a slash fic game? We'll call it OTP for One True Pairing.
Something along the lines of:
Dealer/judge draws one card. We'll say for example Hodor.
Then everyone has to play a card from their hand as their OTP and explain why they ship that slash.
Example:
I ship Wheatley/Hodor because you know Wheatley gets off by being carried around.
Bonus X-rated version: players have to do mini sexy fanfics about their OTPs.
Would you play this? :)
By 4:57 p.m. we had the whole thing planned out: the structure, the branding, the inevitable Kickstarter, and a list of action items for both of us to complete before our next meeting. We hadn’t planned to design a game that day, but we both knew that this was a really good idea.
There was one concern, of course: we’d be making a game about copyrighted and/or trademarked characters, and we didn’t know how to do that in a way that would be both legal and fair. We knew that other games were doing it — Cards Against Humanity name-checked everyone from Batman to Harry Potter, and Metagame had a different trademarked cultural reference printed on each card — but we didn’t know how to do it ourselves.
Alice and I proceeded very quickly through the card design and playtesting process. Our first thought was, of course, to hire artists we knew to draw original character designs for each card, but the economics of card printing pushed us towards a simpler design. White cards with character names printed in black ink. The game title — now officially OTP: A /slash/ game for dirty minds — printed in black on white, with the two slashes printed in red.
The playtesting went extremely well. Our game testers “got” the game instinctively. We added a game mechanic by which players could discard character cards if they didn’t know the character. Alice and I began talking about handing out free copies of the game at PAX and San Diego Comic-Con, in order to build grassroots interest before we launched the (inevitable) Kickstarter. We had our LLC forms filled out and ready to go.
And yet OTP never made it to market. It never ended up on any shelves, and Alice and I never stood side by side amidst the crowds of SDCC attendees, pushing our plastic-sleeved card packages at anyone who looked our direction. We never did that Kickstarter, or hit “submit” on our LLC application.
Why?
Because everyone we talked to said “there is no way you can make this game.”
I don’t want to include the names of the people we asked, first because they were often giving us personal as opposed to professional advice and second because it seems unfair to call them out, but we talked to lawyers, retired lawyers, game designers, game companies, and people who make a living off sales of pop culture mashup T-shirts. We were thorough.
After all these discussions, I was the first person to say “let’s call it off.” Alice wanted to keep going and find a way to make the game. I wasn’t interested in pursuing an idea that might get us slapped with a cease-and-desist, or worse. When I play games, I play to win. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on a project that we were more likely to lose.
We considered OTP: a /slash/ game for dirty minds dead by June. Only a month to go from “this is an amazing idea” to playtesting and LLCs and talks with lawyers to “okay, that’s that.”
We should have kept going.
Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.34.28 AM
Games By Play Date founders Glenn Given, Meg McGinley, and Daniel Brian. Photo by Daniel Brian.
In March 2013, Glenn Given and some friends got together at PAX East in Boston and created a new game.
The gameplay was simple: each player got dealt a handful of character cards, then proposed romantic pairings against a card played by the dealer. You already know how this game is played because I have already described it to you; it was as instinctual to Glenn Given’s playtesting group as it was to the groups Alice and I were leading that same spring.
What Glenn did next, however, was different. He, too, knew that his game was a good idea, so he quit his job and started a game company. Games By Play Date called the game Slash: Romance Without Boundaries and launched their Kickstarter in November 2013. Slash immediately took off, hitting websites like Kotaku and Ain’t It Cool News before funding at $21,264, twice as much as its $10,000 Kickstarter goal.
I saw the Kickstarter on November 17. At first I couldn’t believe it. Then, of course, I could; it was a really good idea, after all.
And then, well, I had to tell Alice.
spread cards
Slash promotional imagery. Photo by Daniel Brian.
There are a lot of things that Glenn Given and Games By Play Date did better than Alice and I did, that make Slash a better game than OTP:
Slash is a better name than OTP. (Alice and I considered Slash, but rejected it because the word was originally used only to describe same-sex fan fiction pairings, as in the infamous Kirk/Spock fan fiction of the 1970s.)
Slash includes character descriptions printed below each character name, e.g. “Captain Marvel: Ace pilot, all-American girl and taker of no guff from dinosaurs.” This is an excellent way to keep people in the game even if they aren’t familiar with every character on the cards. (Also, if a Slash player doesn’t recognize a character, the player can toss the card back and draw a new one.)
Glenn used his idea to both create a great game and start a game company. Alice and I started the process of creating a LLC, but I was never interested in running a game company. I had very little idea of the actual work involved in game creation.
Slash, when you see it, is also so much more fleshed out than OTP, even though the base game mechanics are similar. It benefited from the attention of a group of game designers — even before Glenn created Slash, for example, he was already very active in the gaming world and had started a non-profit called Play Date New Hampshire to help young people get involved in tabletop gaming.
Alice and I had a brainstorm. Glenn Given had the perfect storm. So I asked Glenn if he would be willing to talk a little bit about how he made Slash happen.
cards and box
Full Slash display. Photo by Glenn Given.
ND: What was the brainstorm that prompted you to create Slash?
GG: At PAX East 2013, my friends and I rented a house in the Back Bay. We were playing tons of games at the time, including Cards Against Humanity of course.Slash developed because we wanted to make a game that was fun, but also allowed you to riff and explore and create something more. We wanted something that wouldn’t grow stale, where every interaction with the game would have more of that kind of improv, role-playing aspect to it.
We hammered out this huge list of characters, and then I drove back to New Hampshire the night before PAX East, printed up cards, and brought them back to PAX the next day so we could take the game around the convention.
When did you realize the game might be a really good idea?
Everybody we played it with wanted to buy it. We played it with a couple of lawyers who said this was “the best worst idea that had ever existed.”
How did you decide to quit your job and start Games By Play Date?
In addition to my job at the time, I was — and still am — part of a non profit called Play Date New Hampshire. We have a tremendous library of board games, and we take the games to libraries and teach kids how to play them. The feeling being, since games were what kind of saved my life in high school, learning these games might be good for other kids too.
In October 2013, I realized that there was no more “up” in my current career. So I had to think of something else to do. There’s a program that the state of New Hampshire runs called Pathway to Work, which is a way for the state to help people start new businesses, and so I started Games By Play Date with two of my friends, Daniel Brian and Meg McGinley.
Daniel and Meg are both really great designers and great gamers, and we all wanted to make games that were not only enjoyable, but also really accessible. We didn’t want anyone to think they weren’t good enough, or didn’t have the cultural knowledge, to play our games.
That’s why Slash was really important. It’s a game that inspires creativity from everyone. You can make it really dirty and risque, but you don’t have to. Young people can play it and make it about dating or best friend pairings. Our fourteen-year-old intern was one of the game’s first evangelists. It’s also popular among underserved gaming audiences, including women, couples, and the LGBTQ community.
Can you talk about the legal thing? We heard “you cannot sell this game” from every side, but it’s clear you didn’t get that message.
When we first started developing Slash, we called it “the bag of lawsuits.” It was something we were really worried about and we went through a bunch of different lawyers. After a lot of research we learned that the way we use characters in the game is called de minimis usage.
It’s the same reason that Trivial Pursuit can use trademarked characters. There are tons of characters in Trivial Pursuit, but it’s all de minimis usage because the characters are the answers to questions.
We’re also not using any trademarked character images in the marketing, and the game isn’t about any specific character. It’s not a game about “The X-Men Do Things to Anne of Green Gables.” It’s about taking what’s put in front of you and making up a story.
It’s a variation of the remix culture that the internet is really awesome at.
How did you develop Slash’s look?
I’ve been doing design for 10 years, so I knew I wanted something simple and clean. My design principles have always been about clarity of communication. If something isn’t needed to get your point across, you had better have a really compelling reason for it to be there.
When I go into my local gaming shop, Double Midnight in Manchester, and I look at the shelf of games, I see dragons and robots and Cthulhus and it’s like this visual chaos. I wanted to make something that, when you put it on the shelf, is going to look like a bright hole in the middle of the rest of that.
What advice do you have for other game creators, especially people who haven't ever created a game before? Should they go straight to “creating a game company,” or can they do it another way?
The publisher system in board games right now looks like the music industry of the ’90s. It’s a growing industry, but there are a number of gatekeepers. The people who are doing really interesting things are often designers who start their own companies.
I don’t think you have to do that, though. There are a lot of resources out there for printing prototypes, there are a lot of gaming festivals, and there are a lot of programs like Cards Against Humanity’s Tabletop Death Match. Right now I’m the tabletop producer for the Boston Festival of Indie Games.
If you want to create games, the space for tabletop games exists more than it ever has. There’s no easier time to get in to it. All of the things you need to bring together to make a board game, like graphic design or playtesting, are all solvable by a person or by a small group of dedicated people.
Don’t let roadblocks stop you from making your game. If an idea doesn’t work, come up with another idea. Ideas are super cheap. Execution is really the hard part.
We’ll close this out with a chat with Alice Lee:
ND: How hard are you kicking yourself right now?
AL: Pretty damn hard. When I first heard of the Slash kickstarter, I immediately knew what it was and that they had succeeded where we failed. I actually got invited to the first playtest of Slash at that PAX East, it was a little surreal to hear a friend describe the exact same game we had brainstormed nine months prior, but I assumed they would run into the same roadblocks we had encountered.
Should we have talked to just one more lawyer?
Probably, or paid for an intellectual property attorney to give us a professional opinion. I am not sure we would have come across de minimis usage without that.
Do you think we would have come up with the character description piece on our own, after more playtesting? It’s such an elegant solution to OTP’s biggest game mechanic problem.
I doubt it, given that we were super gun-shy about even using the names of characters and what series they were from. It was really frustrating to keep hearing "you should not [make this game], you will get sued out of your minds" from everyone we asked, when you see plenty of examples of other people (and companies) taking copyrighted characters and remixing them into t-shirts and other stuff.
Why do you think that we both had this nearly identical idea? It makes me think that if neither you nor I nor Glenn had been able to take the game to market, someone else would be launching something like “Fanfic: A Game Where You Make The Pairings” right about now.
I think it is an incredibly compelling idea, one that was begging to be made into a real game. The concept adds a storytelling layer onto the groundwork that Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples have laid. What those games do well is make you feel creative and funny by taking the heavy lifting out of the process, and once you get a taste of that, you want to have more freedom to be creative within the confines of the game. so a game like Slash is the next logical step. I feel like there has been a lot more interest in collaborative storytelling, and the success of other games like Machine of Death proves there is a market.
Also, everyone loves to imagine their favorite characters fucking. That is a tale as old as time.

Published 7:26 am Mon, Jun 30, 2014


Read More Add your Comment 0 comments


Uber and the appropriation of public space



The debate over technology and disruption is a red herring, writesGlenn Fleishman. The trouble with Uber is that it's a middleman that can control both ends of the market.

Taxi drivers protest in London, June 11, 2014. Photo: David Holt
Uber, the ride-for-hire firm, recently raised $1.8 billion, putting the private company's valuation at $18 billion. How much they can raise—and how much they're worth—isn't so interesting as what it lets them aim for: an unprecedented amount of control over who gets to ride, who gets to drive, and where wages and rates land after the market shakes out.
Uber is a new middleman, making a market and profiting from it. It matches buyers (those who need rides) with sellers (drivers and companies that hire drivers). If it dominates the car-hire and taxicab business, it could become both a virtual monopoly and a monopsony. A monopsonist is the only buyer for a given set of services or products, and can dictate terms to sellers while also potentially, but not always, controlling the price that its customers pay.

A MAKER OF MARKETS

Uber wants to be considered part of the sharing economy, in which people turn underutilized assets — a spare bedroom, a lawnmower, a car, and so on — into something that can be rented out by the hour, mile, or other increment. It's often lumped into that category.
But most aspects of the sharing economy involve three key elements: someone owns, leases, or rents an asset that they hand off to another party; the asset is in the possession of another party for the duration of the transaction; and both parties rate each other for their side of the transaction, and those ratings are typically made public. (Sometimes there are endorsements, too: so-and-so, who you know, recommends such-and-such.)
There's sometimes a touch-and-go contact; other times, people have a passcode or other information that give them access. This varies a lot by type of transaction. You might rent an apartment via Airbnb and never see the host; or you might be staying in a room in a host's apartment or house and have little, some, or no interaction.
Uber stands largely outside of these three aspects. Its goal isn't uniqueness — as with Airbnb, which wants every property to be distinct — or a personal connection. Rather Uber makes a market. It owns no vehicles and has no driver employees; all drivers are independent contractors or employees of other businesses with which Uber has a contractual relationship. Uber's staff writes software and checks and meet with drivers, city officials, and companies with which it does business.
The company took an inefficient industry and turned into a fungible one from which it takes a 20% cut. (That can vary by ride type and there's currently a price war and driver-acquisition fight.) Regulation and artificial monopoly power wrapped in politics make cabs scarce and livery vehicles (town cars or black cars) expensive. Both are underutilized relative to demand because they are hard to book and supply has no dynamic relationship to demand. Cabs pick up hails and, in some cities, can be centrally dispatched. Black cars must be booked often for a period of time at high expense, and some regions require booking at least an hour in advance; they cannot pick up passengers without prearrangement.
Uber relies on ratings by passengers of drivers as a way to ensure consistency and high quality. Rather than Russian roulette, it's a hamburger, albeit one from a very nice upscale chain. Every ride should be of the same quality, something impossible to arrange with a cab and logistically hard with black cars.
Uber started with what is now called Uber Black: livery drivers, who are insured as drivers for hire and licensed in their jurisdiction, or with firms that own cars and hire drivers. The price was often much 50% to 100% higher than a cab, but below town-car prices. It was more like a super-cab.
Drivers get their own Uber-issued phone and can be blocked from Uber, regardless of the firm they work for. Having spoken with several drivers (and no, I am not Thomas Friedman) and read many interviews with them, it is clear that for many, Uber fills in downtime or allows a much more flexible schedule.
Uber's use of surge pricing has made people extremely angry at times, because it makes the service seem unreliable and capricious by pricing it out range. Surge price can range from 1.5 times to several times the base pricing whe, Uber says, drivers are scarce and demand is high. The company says it raises the multiple and alerts drivers to bring more capacity online.
On New Year's Eve, for instance, a driver might be contracted for $1,000 for a few hours work in big metro areas. The New York Times's Nick Bilton recently Tweeted a picture of his Uber driver's app where it alerts the drivers to areas in which multiples are in effect. Demand stabilizes as drivers flood in, and the surge price ebbs. If Uber surged but there were enough cabs or other alternatives, the demand wouldn't be there to raise prices. (I don't take Uber at its word; it's economics at work.)
Uber was an early entrant, but it quickly faced competition from "ride sharing" companies starting in earnest in 2012 with Lyft (once dedicated to long-distance rides), Sidecar, and others. Uber started with the issue of reliability and quality at the high end, tapping people who could afford to pay more than a cab (or stretch to pay it). Lyft and the others had people share their own cars, which required a lot more extremes, but charged rates in line with cabs. (Lyft was originally paid drivers from voluntary donations to sidestep whether it was a transportation operator or not, but now requires donations in some markets and straightforward taxi-like fees in others.)
The taxi market didn't stand still, either. Taxi Magic came out of an existing dispatch software company (along with Sedan Magic) and ties into cab companies' networks to allow an electronic hail equivalent to a street hail. The app can also handle payment.
Uber expanded its offerings to match its competitors. It now operates UberX, a Lyft-like service; Uber Taxi, which works with central dispatch; Uber Black, its original service; and Uber SUV for parties of more than four. (It's entering thecourier business, too, which could shake up or complement a whole other industry already in tumult.) To recruit UberX drivers, the company has given $500 bonuses to Lyft drivers and a free iPhone, according to reports and a ride-sharing driver I spoke with on background.
Uber and the others have lobbied hard and enlisted local users when battles brew with regulators; Uber is the most vociferous because it has so many different lines of business. The companies have often won deferrals, carveouts, and legislative changes, but not everywhere. Virginia recently banned car-aggregation services, including Uber and Lyft, but the companies say they will keep operating. Madison, Wisconsin, is issuing fines to drivers and considering either restrictive rules or ones that require 24/7 operations.
California enabled ride-sharing services and the like through rule changes at its Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that came with insurance requirements, but just threatened to shut them all down because the companies were supposed to obtain permits to have drivers handle pickups and dropoffs at airports. None of the companies have. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's PUC wants judges to shut down all ride-sharing operations.
The firms all think, and Uber in particular, that they will win the day because their services offer so much to passengers and are so well liked. Regulators are circling, and trying to draw rules or draft laws around the upstarts.

ONE BUYER TO RULE THEM ALL

So what's wrong with these new offerings? An upstart technology company optimizes an inefficient market in a way that all participants benefit: passengers are safer and can more reliably get a ride with a low likelihood of fare cheating; drivers are safer and don't have people skip on fares. It's great!
But here's the catch: the economics of disruption don't always shatter regulated monopolies in way that produce persistent efficiencies. Rather, newcomers can destroy one mode of doing things and then install themselves as the gatekeepers on new battlements, setting prices as they see fit because there are no effective competitors nor any good path for competition to rise.
Look at Amazon in the book market. Its aggressive discounting of book titles initially reduced book prices and allowed more unique titles to come to market, increasing the diversity of thought and providing more revenue to more publishers. It created the first ebook reader that was widely adopted by consumers.
But it also locked in users to its digital-rights managed (DRM) Kindle ecosystem. One can only buy books from a Kindle via Amazon and read purchased titles on Kindle readers or in Kindle software. (Publishers and individuals can offer Kindle-compatible titles that can be imported or sent to a Kindle account with some limits and difficulties.)
Amazon has taken its dominant position in selling ebooks and print books to exercise monopsony power in negotiating a pricing contract with Hachette, a relatively small American arm of a large international publishing company. Amazon has delayed and reduced orders of Hachette's print books and removed pre-order buttons from not-yet-issued works. We don't know the terms: Hachette may be asking for unreasonable wholesale prices; Amazon may be demanding absurdly high discounts or other requirements. Amazon is also fighting Warner Home Video, blocking pre-sales of The Lego Movie and other films.
Without its monopsony, Amazon could not engage in this fight, because potential buyers would simply turn elsewhere, and potentially grow accustomed to not buying from Amazon. Amazon lacks a true monopoly, but, like Walmart, can use its buying power to keep its prices low for all merchandise, and its scope of departments to keep shoppers from turning elsewhere. Hachette and Warner will lose more sales than Amazon will lose customers. As David Streitfeld wrote in theNew York Times, "Amazon is basically telling its customers to go elsewhere for them, which is a very un-Amazon thing to do."
While Uber has no lock in to passengers the way Amazon does with customers — passengers aren't compatible only with certain cars — it has the capability as an ever-more-dominant firm to push its competitors into ever smaller niches. It seems to have forced Lyft into a corner that has resulted in a price war between the two companies: Uber may have initiated it specifically to put financial pressure on Lyft.
In January, it cut its UberX prices to undercut taxi fares in many cities, sometimes by 20 to 30 percent. This puts even more pressure on cabs. Lyft matched it and in some cases went further. In San Francisco, one cab company executive says he's lost so many drivers to Uber, Lyft, and the like that he expects the entire industry to shut down within 18 months. (Some drivers are happy and others not about the latest price cuts because they reduce payment but increase the number of trips during the same period of time.)
Will prices remain as much as 30% below cabs when there are no more cabs? If Uber provides 90% or more of the car-for-hire trips in a region, will its regular prices slide back up above cab rates? Will surge prices be invoked every day, everywhere during rush hours? This could easily happen during the disruption, long before it owns a market.
As a near monopolist and monopsonist, Uber can set consumer prices and supplier pay, dialing them up and down to maximize profit while discouraging new competitors. With the regulated environment, there is a ton of abuse: driver pay isn't set, taxis fees are often quite high, and medallion owners and cab companies reap outsized rewards. (Forget for a minute fraud by drivers.) That has created a bad, stable system. But once Uber owns the market, who would invest to create a Lyft competitor or shore up a failing cab company?
In cities in which people frequently take cabs — say, New York, as opposed to my hometown of Seattle — I've seen and my friends and colleagues confirm that the average taxi experience has become worse. I crosschecked this with a number of UberX drivers on a recent trip to San Francisco: some had been cabbies. Cab drivers with the right skills who can buy, borrow, or lease a car in good condition switch to a ride-sharing service. It's better money (even with the recent changes) and provides more freedom.
Because Uber approves drivers and keeps a steady eye on ratings, a driver can easily be blocked from its network or be knocked out after entry. I won't feel bad when awful people are forced out of a profession in which they have to provide service to others. (I suppose I can't be a socialist now.) Cab companies and commissions take complaints, but even in areas in which those are taken seriously, the result is a process, sometimes governed by employment law, and not as immediate as Uber's response. Drivers can be knocked out of Uber instantly.
Drivers who face discrimination in other fields and turned to driving a cab, a traditional way for immigrants to ratchet themselves into an economy and up into more stable businesses or professions for themselves or their children. Drivers who don't speak English well or have a heavy accent, who cannot afford a new-looking and perfectly maintained car, who are people of color — how will they fit in in the ride-sharing world? (Drivers used to be able to afford a taxi license, or a "medallion"; these have risen in New York from $100,000 in 2004 to over $1 million recently. Even groups of drivers can no longer buy them.)
Drivers can also easily be blackballed. A few bad fares, like drunks who rate badly or angrily, and a driver is dumped with little recourse or appeal. Under cab commission rules in most places, drivers have some means of dealing with being fired or blocked, whether it winds up being fair or easy to use or not. This, in a private business arrangement, is something altogether different.
And what of passengers? Uber only allows booking through a smartphone, so while smartphone marketshare among people who might use a taxi is now extremely high and growing, that's certainly a bar to entry, excluding a class of people should regular cab service essentially collapse.

THE AGONY OF THE LOSS OF AGORA

Uber and the rest aren't trying to build a system that lets them screw people, but because they want to sit in the middle and avoid the overhead of the taxi world, which is seemingly designed to screw both passengers and most drivers, they could wind up being a regressive force that also pushes prices up.
Regulators may step in, which increases inefficiency and expense, but may be necessary to eliminate discrimination and provide protected recourse. Despite libertarians' and Randians' fervid illusions, people are biased against other people, often unconsciously. One role of democracy, it could be argued, is to provide a bulwark against and repercussions for bias.
This reminds me strongly of the erosion of public space that has occurred as more areas in which people spend their time are privately owned (such as malls) or privatized (such as public spaces deeded to companies to maintain, but also to control). There are fewer places for free speech and assembly, which chills freedom.
Huge disruption has come to the taxicab industry, and it should. But the concern of concentation of ownership in a party that makes the markets should keep everyone on their toes, no matter how well intentioned Uber may be.

Published 8:00 am Mon, Jun 30, 2014


Read More Add your Comment 0 comments


Russia Furious Over Journalist Killed in Ukraine; Witness Alleges Devious Plot



Anatoly-klyan-russia-journalist
In this Monday, June 30, 2014 frame grab provided by Russian Channel One, Anatoly Klyan, the veteran cameraman, who worked for Russia's Channel One and who has been killed in eastern Ukraine when a bus carrying journalists and soldiers' mothers was hit by gunfire, is seen in an undisclosed location.

DONETSK, Ukraine — Moscow expressed outrage on Monday over the shooting death of a Russian state television cameraman in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk overnight, accusing Kiev security forces of targeting its journalists and breaking the president’s promise of a cease-fire. However, details on how the event truly played out are murky.
Anatoly Klyan, 68, an experienced cameraman for Russia’s state-sponsored Channel One was killed after Ukrainian government forces opened fire on a bus carrying conscripts’ mothers and journalists, according to the news channel.

The bus, adorned with peace signs and reportedly carrying mothers of Ukrainian troops barricaded inside the military unit, was first fired upon as it approached the compound, Channel One said. It immediately retreated some 550 yards before stopping and letting passengers outside.
nam-
It was then, as a passenger lit a cigarette and a flare from the Ukrainian unit was fired into the night sky that Klyan was shot in the stomach. The driver of the bus, a man dressed in fatigues and donning an orange and black separatist ribbon, was shot in the neck.
But a journalist who was aboard the bus during the shooting told Mashable an alternative story, saying that while the incident was tragic, the event “felt like theater.”
The journalist, who is Russian, spoke on condition of anonymity, because he feared reprisals from colleagues and separatist militiamen for telling a story that contradicted the one presented by Russian state media.
“During the ride I asked some of the mothers about their sons, and they seemed not know anything about their own boys,” he said. Moreover, he alleged that the whole thing was “probably a provocation” to inflame Moscow and heighten tensions between the Kremlin and Kiev.
Footage (embedded below) recorded by Russian journalists from LifeNews shows the driver clutching the back of his head as blood streams down his neck. Behind him, passengers are seen attending to and encouraging a pale and spiritless Klyan slouched in the aisle as the bus trundles away. He later succumbed to his injuries.

Klyan was the fifth journalist to be killed and the third from a Russian state-sponsored news outlet since pro-Russian separatists besieged the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in April.
“We are outraged with Kiev’s line regarding reporters from Russia working in dangerous conditions in Ukraine and demand that such pursuits and outrage be stopped immediately and those guilty be punished,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“A cruel and absolutely illegal manhunt after Russian journalists continues in Ukraine,”
“A cruel and absolutely illegal manhunt after Russian journalists continues in Ukraine,” it added.

State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Klyan’s death sends an “alarming signal to the global community” and urged Kiev to investigate the tragedy, adding that he was “deeply grieving.”
“He was our colleague, too, having accreditation with the State Duma,” Naryshkin told reporters after a Duma Council meeting on Monday.
Naryshkin also alleged that the killing was targeted.
“There are valid reasons to believe that he was killed precisely because of what he did as a profession,” he said.
Russia-Journalist-Ukraine

Anatoly Klyan, 68, who had worked for the state channel for 40 years, was the fifth journalist to be killed since the fighting began in April between Ukrainian government troops and armed pro-Russia separatists.
The two other Russian journalists were killed on June 17 by mortar fire during clashes between Ukrainian and separatist forces near Luhansk. An Italian journalist and his Russian translator were also cut down by mortar fire, but during fighting in the separatist bastion Sloviansk, Donetsk region on May 24.
Meanwhile, fighting continued overnight and on Monday afternoon between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatist fighters on the outskirts of Sloviansk and in Metalist despite a truce called more than a week ago that was set to end Monday night.
The ceasefire, first introduced on June 20, is set to expire Monday night at 10 p.m. local time. Poroshenko is still considering an extension, which his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has pushed for.


Read More Add your Comment 0 comments


Bacteria in Arteries May Be Link Between Stress And Heart Attacks



Heart_surgery
Surgeons performing open heart surgery in an operation room.

The long-held belief that emotional or physical stress can trigger heart attacks may now have a scientific explanation: In stressed people, heart attacks might be triggered by bacteria dispersing within artery walls, causing fatty deposits in those blood vessels to rupture and clog blood flow, a new study says.
"We don't believe you're going to have a heart attack every time you get excited," said study co-author David Davies, a microbiologist at Binghamton University in New York. "It's more likely that every time there's stress, some small amount of damage is done" that weakens the fibers that hold such deposits onto artery walls, he said.
Heart attacks occur when blood stops flowing properly to the heart, leading to the death of heart muscle. Due to the scarcity of donor hearts and other factors that make heart transplants difficult, half the people who live through a heart attack die within five years.
The major cause of heart attacks is atherosclerosis — the hardening of the arteries — which occurs when fatty deposits, known as plaques, build up in arterial walls. These plaques can rupture suddenly, leading to the life-threatening clogging of blood flow.
Scientists thought that stress might lead these plaques to rupture, but they aren't sure exactly how it happens.

The new findings show that bacteria live in plaque-covered arteries. Furthermore, stress may make these bacteria disperse and release enzymes that could destabilize plaques. The scientists detailed their findings online June 10 in the journal mBio.
Davies and his colleagues reasoned that atherosclerosis may be linked to biofilms — slimy fortresses that communities of bacteria often construct for shelter from antibiotics and the body's defenders.
The researchers analyzed samples of carotid arteries — the arteries that carry blood to the head and neck — from 15 patients with atherosclerosis. They found DNA evidence that at least a dozen species of bacteria lived in the walls of every arterial sample tested. Furthermore, each of the five arterial samples large enough for detailed microscopic analysis possessed biofilm deposits.
"Most of the bacteria associated with plaques are also associated with the skin or oral cavity," Davies said. "Some are also commonly associated with the gastrointestinal tract."
Six of the 15 plaques analyzed had signs of a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is commonly found in soil and water. "When Pseudomonas is found in the mouth, skin or gastrointestinal tract, it doesn't seem to cause problems, but in puncture wounds, it can be life-threatening, and in eyes, it can form biofilms and lead to blindness," Davies said.
In experiments, Davies and his colleagues found that biofilms of Pseudomonas that were grown in the lab, on the inner walls of silicone tubes, dispersed when they were given norepinephrine — a stress hormone responsible for the fight-or-flight response in humans — at levels that would be found in the body after stress.
"This dispersion is a coordinated response — most to all of the bacteria in the biofilms carry out this behavior at the same time," Davies said.
Since biofilms are closely bound to arterial plaques, the investigators suggested that the dispersal of a biofilm could also disrupt arterial plaques and, in turn, trigger a heart attack. "All of the samples we have looked at appear to be ticking time bombs — all those bacteria must have some medical consequence," Davies said.
The growth of bacteria in the human body is often limited by how little iron flows freely in the blood, but the hormone norepinephrine causes levels of free iron in the blood to spike. When free iron levels rise, the bacteria in biofilms disperse to pursue the nutrient. To disperse, the microbes release enzymes to escape from their sticky biofilms, and the researchers suggest these enzymes could also partially digest and weaken nearby tissues that normally prevent arterial plaques from rupturing into the bloodstream.
Future research is needed to confirm whether stress actually does trigger plaque rupture in humans.
It also remains unknown whether these bacteria simply take advantage of existing plaques as shelter within the body or whether they might actually help plaques develop and grow. "There's a lot of controversy and contradictory results on that subject," Davies said.
The scientists are now examining other bacteria found in plaques that demonstrate the same behavior. Moreover, they are also investigating which enzymes bacteria release when they disperse, and what effects these enzymes have on surrounding tissues.
These new findings suggest that when dealing with heart disease, "management of bacteria within an arterial plaque lesion may be as important as, or potentially more important than, managing cholesterol," Davies said.


Read More Add your Comment 0 comments


How to Replace Your Wallet With Your Phone



Passbook-wallet-thumb

There's something liberating about walking around without your wallet. No giant clump of leather, plastic or fabric pressing itself against your thigh. No awkward outlines in your pocket. No shuffling and shifting in your seat just to retrieve it.
That is, until you realize you've lost all your money, tickets, rewards cards and coupons.

While there isn't anything that will replace your driver's license or other government identification, there are a slew of apps that can effectively replace the rest of your wallet, streamlining your life and preserving your favorite pair of jeans.

Google Wallet

What it replaces: Cash, credit cards, loyalty cards and coupons

GoogleWalletCardReader

IMAGE: FLICKR, SERGIO UCEDA
Launched in 2011 and available on iPhone and Android, Google Wallet gives you the ability to make purchases in stores and online, as well as withdraw cash from ATMs with your phone or a card.
By attaching your credit cards, debit cards and bank account to the platform, you can make direct payments with whichever sources you want through Google Wallet. You can also keep a balance on Google Wallet, and make direct transactions with legal adults in the United States with an email account.
Recently, Google rolled out a new instant buy feature for iOS, which had already been on Android for a year.
GoogleWalletTapAndPay

IMAGE: FLICKR, KENNEJIMA
If your wallet is bursting with loyalty cards, Google Wallet will integrate those, too. Some brands like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts have apps that already do this, which you can access through Google Wallet. For everything else, just scan the card, and it becomes a scannable bar code in the app.
And with Google Wallet, you'll never have to worry about coupon clutter: You can access offers from sites like Valpak and redeem the offers in-app.

Passbook

What it replaces: Travel and entertainment tickets, loyalty and rewards cards

PassbookiPhones

IMAGE: FLICKR, KITTINAN HIRANWONG
"Wait, I thought you had the tickets!"
There are few worse feelings than the horror of getting to a venue and realizing you don't have what you need to get in. With Passbook, a native app for iPhone, you can store and scan almost any kind of ticket you need, whether it's a boarding pass for a flight or box seats for a baseball game.
Like Google Wallet, there's a wide variety of apps that work directly with your account and can be integrated with Passbook. For almost everything else, you can scan the ticket and present an electronic version when it's needed.
PassbookCards

IMAGE: FLICKR, GRAHAM BRENNA
From Belly to Hilton HHonors, Passbook also works with rewards and loyalty cards of all types, centralizing your hard-earned points in an easily accessible app.

Venmo

What it replaces: Your credit and debit cards

Venmo-SarahFisher-8816

IMAGE: MASHABLE, SARAH FISHER
Opened to the public in March 2012 and available for iPhone and Android, Venmo allows you to make direct transactions with your phone contacts. You can connect a credit or debit card to your account to make payments, and a Venmo balance will accrue from payments you receive from friends. You can also connect your bank account to your Venmo profile, which allows you to cash out your Venmo balance.
VenmoDashboard
While Venmo doesn't let you purchase items like Google Wallet does, it's a useful tool for splitting checks and immediately reimbursing your friend when he spots you if you don't have any cash. And while it won't replace your wallet by itself, it will definitely reduce the hassle and risk of carrying around large amounts of legal tender.


Read More Add your Comment 0 comments


Ukraine Withdraws Bid for 2022 Winter Olympics



Kiev-ukraine
People gather for a rally in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, June 29, 2014.

LONDON — The Ukrainian city of Lviv withdrew its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics on Monday, becoming the third contender to drop out of the race for a games that no one seems to want.
Lviv pulled out because of the continuing political and security crisis in Ukraine, where government forces are battling an insurgency by pro-Russian separatists. Much of the fighting as of recently has taken place in the eastern region in Ukraine, near the border with Russia, but Lviv was the site of clashes as well this year. (A snapshot of the major areas of battle are in the map below.)

The decision to withdraw, which had been widely expected, followed talks between Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and IOC President Thomas Bach. Lviv officials said they would now focus on bidding for the 2026 Winter Games instead.
"We concluded that it would be extremely difficult to pursue the 2022 bid under current circumstances but that a future bid would make sense for Ukraine and Ukrainian sport," Bach said in a statement.
Lviv

A girl places a candle during a memorial ceremony for the people killed when a Ukrainian military plane was shot by pro-Russian armed separatist militants on June 14, 2014, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
IMAGE: YURIY DYACHYSHYN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The announcement came exactly one week before the International Olympic Committee selects a short list of finalists for the 2022 Game.
Three cities remain in contention: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing and Oslo.
With Lviv out, the IOC executive board is likely to retain all three and not cut any of the candidates. The host city will be selected by the full IOC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 31, 2015.
"We have always said that we will only continue if we can be certain to deliver on all our promises," Lviv bid CEO Sergei Goncharov told The Associated Press. "Due to the current circumstances in Ukraine, we, however, felt that a bid for 2026 would make more sense. We remain convinced of the positive impact that hosting Olympic Games would have for the city of Lviv and the whole country."
Lviv's withdrawal follows the earlier pullouts of Stockholm and Krakow, Poland.
The Swedish capital dropped out in December after politicians declined to give financial support. The Polish city withdrew last month after 70 percent of residents rejected the bid in a referendum.
The future of Oslo's bid also remains uncertain. The Norwegian government has yet to back the project and won't make a decision until the autumn. In addition, recent polls have shown that more than half the population opposes the games.
If Oslo drops out later, that would leave only two cities standing. Almaty, commercial capital of the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asian country, hosted the 2011 Asian Winter Games and would shape up as the favorite. Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, is bidding to become the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Games.
Beijing proposes holding Alpine events 120 miles (190 kilometers) away in the northern Chinese city of Zhangjiakou. And with Pyeongchang, South Korea, hosting the 2018 Winter Games and Tokyo the 2020 Olympics, the IOC would normally be reluctant to send the games to Asia for a third straight time.
Even before the start of the official 2022 campaign, two potential serious contenders stayed away. St. Moritz-Davos and Munich canceled proposed bids after voters in Switzerland and Germany voted "no" in referendums.
The troubled race poses a crisis for the IOC, which is running out of potential sites for the games.
Potential host cities, especially in Western Europe, are concerned about the financial costs of the games. Many have been scared off by the $51 billion price tag associated with February's Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia spent much of the record sum on long-term infrastructure projects for the entire region.
Rio de Janeiro's delayed preparations for the 2016 Olympics are also a major concern. Changes to the bidding process and efforts to reduce the cost of the games are among the key issues being addressed by the IOC as part of Bach's "Agenda 2020" — his blueprint for the future of the Olympic movement that will be voted on in December.


Read More Add your Comment 0 comments


 

© 2012 Học Để ThiBlog tài liệu