25 June 2018

Linkage Vid

Captain Blackadder Really Did Fight in World War I (War Is Boring)  Capt. Robert John Blackadder of the Royal Garrison Artillery, Pvt. James Baldrick of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Capt. John Clive Darling of the 20th Hussars.  Most were KIA/
Trump's Family Separation Scandal Has Revealed Every Species of Hypocrite (Rolling Stone) Taibbi unloads a well deserved can of whup-ass.
The Jurassic World Porn Parody That Asks: What If Dinosaurs Were Porn Stars? (Motherboard) Just kill me now.
Police Realizing That SESTA/FOSTA Made Their Jobs Harder; Sex Traffickers Realizing It's Made Their Job Easier (Techdirt) It has led to an explosion in the activities of pimps.
Gallery Owner Arrested After Dropping Sculpture Of Giant Drug Spoon At Purdue Pharma (Hartford Courant) If you are in the area, you might want to check out his gallery.
Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America (POLITICO) The results of thiw study should surprise no one.

Remember that dance off scene in Guardians of the Galaxy? Here is the blooper reel:

24 June 2018

Tweet of the Day


I am in total agreement, but supporting the Oxford comma has always been something that I strongly endorse.

A Twist in the Russia Investigation

It appears that both the prosecution and defense have filed motions to exclude Manafort's time as Trump's campaign chairman from the trial:
The former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and special counsel Robert Mueller have finally found something they can agree on.

Mueller‘s prosecutors and Manafort‘s defense team filed separate motions with a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday asking to block lawyers at an upcoming trial for the longtime lobbyist and political consultant from mentioning his stint at the helm of the Trump campaign in 2016.

The requests came in court filings spurred by Manafort‘s looming trial next month on charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and failing to report overseas bank accounts.

Mueller’s team went first, asking U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis to prevent Manafort‘s defense from arguing to jurors that he was targeted for prosecution because of his role in Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

………

Manafort‘s defense followed up a short time later with an even broader motion asking to bar any discussion at all of the defendant‘s role in the Trump campaign, as well as all mention of Mueller‘s mandate to investigate potential collaboration between Trump‘s team and Russia. “Evidence or argument relating to Mr. Manafort‘s work for then-candidate Trump’s campaign in 2016 or the Special Counsel’s investigation of the campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government is wholly irrelevant to whether Mr. Manafort’s personal income tax returns were false, whether he willfully failed to file reports of foreign accounts, and whether he conspired to commit, or committed, bank fraud,“ Manafort‘s attorneys wrote.

The defense lawyers’ motion also evinced concern that their client could become the victim of anti-Trump bias among potential jurors.
Basically, the case comes down to Manafort being a corrupt son of a bitch, though one wonders how he is really different from any of the other international lobbyists in Washington, DC.

The other twist is that The Nation magazine just published an article debunking the whole "Russiagate" thing.

I find it interesting because The Nation is the last place where I would expect to find such an article.

I'm still guessing that it will be the coverup, and not the underlying crime, that will end up having real repercussions.

The "Internet of Things" Enables Domestic Abusers

This is really not a surprise.

Any technology has a potential of for misuse, and internet enabled home devices have among the worst security of any tech out there, but still the stories abusers using connected devices are pretty disturbing:
The people who called into the help hotlines and domestic violence shelters said they felt as if they were going crazy.

One woman had turned on her air-conditioner, but said it then switched off without her touching it. Another said the code numbers of the digital lock at her front door changed every day and she could not figure out why. Still another told an abuse help line that she kept hearing the doorbell ring, but no one was there.

Their stories are part of a new pattern of behavior in domestic abuse cases tied to the rise of smart home technology. Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control.

In more than 30 interviews with The New York Times, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers and emergency responders described how the technology was becoming an alarming new tool. Abusers — using apps on their smartphones, which are connected to the internet-enabled devices — would remotely control everyday objects in the home, sometimes to watch and listen, other times to scare or show power. Even after a partner had left the home, the devices often stayed and continued to be used to intimidate and confuse.

………

Graciela Rodriguez, who runs a 30-bed emergency shelter at the Center for Domestic Peace in San Rafael, Calif., said some people had recently come in with tales of “the crazy-making things” like thermostats suddenly kicking up to 100 degrees or smart speakers turning on blasting music.

“They feel like they’re losing control of their home,” she said. “After they spend a few days here, they realize they were being abused.”

………

One of the women, a doctor in Silicon Valley, said her husband, an engineer, “controls the thermostat. He controls the lights. He controls the music.” She said, “Abusive relationships are about power and control, and he uses technology.”
This is really kind of horrifying.

23 June 2018

Tweet of the Day


Solidarity, Brothers and Sisters.

Support Your Fighting Men

The Trump administration feared it would be a “public relations nightmare”: a major federal study that concluded contaminated groundwater across the country, especially near military bases, was more toxic than the government realized. Political aides to President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt pressured the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry against releasing the results.

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” an unidentified White House aide wrote, according to Politico. “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.” The study was not released.

That is, until Wednesday. Amid a media firestorm about the administration’s immigration policy, the ATSDR—a division of the Department of Health and Human Services—quietly published its 852-page review of perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS, which are “used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams,” according to ProPublica. “All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought.”

These chemical compounds pose health risks to millions of Americans. They’re in roughly 1 percent of the nation’s public water supply, according to the EPA; in roughly 1,500 drinking water systems across the country, according to the Environmental Working Group. People who drink from these systems, even if their exposure to PFAS is low, now have a potentially increased risk of cancer; of disruptions in hormones and the immune system; and of complications with fetal development during pregnancy.

But military personnel and veterans are particularly at risk, because PFAS compounds are in firefighting foams, which have been used in training exercises at military bases across America since the 1970s. Those foams have leached into the groundwater at the military facilities, and often the drinking water supply. Nearly three million Americans get their drinking water from Department of Defense systems.

The DOD has reported widespread contamination at its bases and posts, as well as their surrounding areas. In a March report to the House Armed Services Committee, the department provided a list of 126 military facilities where nearby water supplies contained PFAS levels above the EPA’s standard, and 36 bases with drinking water contamination on site. “In all, 25 Army bases; 50 Air Force bases, 49 Navy or Marine Corps bases and two Defense Logistics Agency sites have tested at higher than acceptable levels for the compounds in either their drinking water or groundwater sources,” the Military Times reported.
This is amazingly f%$#ed up.

We Are Completely Screwed

In addition to increasing ice melt, it not turns out that anthropogenic climate change is resulting in major uprising of bedrock in Antarctica, which will further accelerate sea level rise.

Ice melts, the weight on the underlying ground is reduced, and the land springs up.

I rather imagine that will see something similar in Greenland

Rinse, lather, repeat:
The earth is rising in one part of Antarctica at one of the fastest rates ever recorded, as ice rapidly disappears and weight is lifted off the bedrock, a new international study has found.

The findings, reported in the journal Science, have surprising and positive implications for the survival of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), which scientists had previously thought could be doomed because of the effects of climate change.

The unexpectedly fast rate of the rising earth may markedly increase the stability of the ice sheet against catastrophic collapse due to ice loss, scientists say.

Moreover, the rapid rise of the earth in this area also affects gravity measurements, which implies that up to 10 percent more ice has disappeared in this part of Antarctica than previously assumed.

Researchers led by scientists at The Ohio State University used a series of six GPS stations (part of the POLENET-ANET array) attached to bedrock around the Amundsen Sea Embayment to measure its rise in response to thinning ice.

The "uplift rate" was measured at up to 41 millimeters (1.6 inches) a year, said Terry Wilson, one of the leaders of the study and a professor emeritus of earth sciences at Ohio State.

In contrast, places like Iceland and Alaska, which have what are considered rapid uplift rates, generally are measured rising 20 to 30 millimeters a year.

"The rate of uplift we found is unusual and very surprising. It's a game changer," Wilson said.

And it is only going to get faster. The researchers estimate that in 100 years, uplift rates at the GPS sites will be 2.5 to 3.5 times more rapid than currently observed.
We need to take action now, because otherwise, beach front property in Florida will be in Alabama.

22 June 2018

A Good Day at the Supreme Court

They ruled that cops do need a warrant to track you via your cell phone:
Over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court outlined what has come to be known as the “third-party doctrine” – the idea that the Fourth Amendment does not protect records or information that someone voluntarily shares with someone or something else. Today the Supreme Court ruled that, despite this doctrine, police will generally need to get a warrant to obtain cell-site location information, a record of the cell towers (or other sites) with which a cellphone connected. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the five-justice majority pointed to “seismic shifts in digital technology,” which have allowed wireless carriers to collect “deeply revealing” information about cellphone owners that should be protected by the Constitution. Roberts characterized the ruling as a narrow one; indeed, the majority at least left open the prospect that police might not need a warrant to get information about where someone was on the day that a crime was committed. But the decision still drew sharp criticism from the dissenting justices, who complained that it is likely to imperil, in the words of Justice Samuel Alito, “many legitimate and valuable investigative practices on which law enforcement has rightfully come to rely.”
Justice Alito, just because law enforcement likes being sloppy and lazy does not justify continual and meticulous invasion of privacy.

The name for a society that allows police to act that way is a police state.