Is the World Ready For Flying Cars?

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:30 am
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Posted by BeauHD

An anonymous reader shares a report from TechCrunch, adding: "Is the world ready for flying cars? Sebastian Thrun, the supposed godfather of autonomous driving, and several other tech investors seem to think so." From the report: At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017, Thrun talked a lot about flying cars and how that was the future of transportation. So did GGV's Jenny Lee, a prolific investor in China. And so did Steve Jurvetson, one of the original investors in SpaceX. The technical backbone for flying cars seems to be there already -- with drones becoming ever-present and advancements in AI and self-driving cars -- but the time is coming soon that flying cars will be the primary mode of transportation. "I can't envision a future of highways [and being] stuck in cars," Thrun said. "I envision a [future] where you hop in a thing, go in the air, and fly in a straight line. I envision a future where Amazon delivers my food in the air in five minutes. The air is so free of stuff and is so unused compared to the ground, it has to happen in my opinion." Cars today are forced to move on a two-dimensional plane (ramps, clover intersections and tunnels set aside), and while self-driving cars would make it easier for cars to talk to each other and move more efficiently, adding a third dimension to travel would make a lot of sense coming next. Thrun pointed to airplane transit, which is already a "fundamentally great mass transit system." Jurvetson said he was actually about to ride in a flying car before he "watched it flip over" before arriving to talk about some of the next steps in technology onstage. So, there's work to be done there, but it does certainly seem that all eyes are on flying cars. And that'll be enabled by autonomous driving, which will probably allow flying cars to figure out the most efficient paths from one point to the next without crashing into each other. Lee said that China is closely analyzing changes in transportation, which might end up leading to flying cars. "I do want to highlight that there's going to be huge disruption within the transportation ecosystem in China," Lee said. "Cars going from diesel to electric. China has about 200 million install base of car ownership. In 2016, only 1 million cars are electric. The Chinese government hopes to install 5 million parking lots that are electric... Even the Chinese OEMs are buying into flying taxis."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by Karoli Kuns

Jimmy Kimmel has come to the realization that Senator Bill Cassidy is a big fat liar, and that he was used by Cassidy to legitimize his current plan.

After showing Cassidy sincerely claiming he wants his bill to pass the "Jimmy Kimmel test," Kimmel agreed in principle that it might pass that.

"Your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs, if and only if as his father is Jimmy Kimmel," he said. "Otherwise you might be screwed."

Kimmel then reviewed what Cassidy claimed he wants; namely, coverage for all, no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, lower premiums for middle class families, and no lifetime caps.

"And guess what? The new bill does none of those things," Kimmel said.

After telling the audience that this bill is "worse than the one Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain torpedoed over the summer," he expressed his sincere desire for them to "have the good sense to do that with this one."

"They're trying to sneak this scam of a bill they cooked up...they don't even want you to see it," he observed.

Kimmel warned everyone that they're hoping no one pays attention, that they treat it like "an iTunes service agreement."

"And this guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face!"

For a guy who makes his living making people laugh every night, Kimmel sure did hit the nail on the head here. Cassidy is a liar, a cheat, and he used Kimmel and his infant son to try and pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

I'm glad he called it out.

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Posted by Dale Merrill

The fall equinox will be here in just a few days. Time to reflect back on all the things that happened.

Toronto's Teenanger reminisce it through a teenager's eyes from this song off their latest record.

How was yours?

Oh, and...what are you listening to tonight?


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At CommonDreams, Jake Johnson writes—U.S. Says No Money for Social Programs, But '$700 Billion to Kill People? Yeah That We Have':

Where were the pundits and elected lawmakers who complain about the cost of providing healthcare to all Americans when the Senate voted to spend $700 billion on the military?

Many critics were raising this question Monday after the Senate—in what was portrayed as yet another indication of bipartisan support for endless waroverwhelmingly approved the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will dump a larger sum of money into the military budget than even President Donald Trump asked for while also authorizing the production of 94 F-35 jets, two dozen more than the Pentagon requested.

Passage of the NDAA—which this year approves a $700 billion defense budget, an annual increase of $80 billion—is something of an automated process in Washington, one that often flies under the radar and garners little opposition.

However, with support for Medicare for All and free public college tuition soaring, many are calling attention to the hypocrisy of pundits who yell about the costs of single-payer healthcare providing debt-free higher education while remaining entirely silent about the war budget.

Adam Johnson, a contributor to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, argued that the explanation for this double standard is simple: America's dominant political class and mainstream commentators view exorbitant military spending as a given. [...]

An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance EventsIndivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups

TOP COMMENTSHIGH IMPACT STORIES

QUOTATION

“As ever, the original inhabitants of Turtle Island are entirely overlooked. Mysteriously, the only time indigenous people are guaranteed a mainstream Amerikkan mention is on Thanksgiving.  Again, to contextualize, this would be be kinda like someone busting into your house and robbing you blind, then sending you postcards once a year to remind you how much they are enjoying all of your stuff, and getting annoyed with you if you don't respond with appreciation for their thoughtfulness.”                      Inga Muscio, Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil: My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society (2005)  

TWEET OF THE DAY

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John Kelly, left, reacts as he listens to President Trump's U.N. speech. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP) https://t.co/mPR68T7rJ4 pic.twitter.com/MGNQ2jVWVc

— Colin Campbell (@colincampbell) September 19, 2017

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Getting ahead of the issue on Iraq: 

Elected Democrats have been rightly knocked around for having no leadership instincts, and that's nowhere more visible than on the issue of Iraq. While Democrats in DC and in races around the country want to pretend that Iraq can be trumped by health care and social security, there's just no way that's going to happen. Iraq will be issues number one, two and three on voters' minds.

Now here's the problem. Most DC Democrats I've spoken to are very much against the war, but they're afraid to say so. Afraid to look weak. Afraid that they'll be tarred as peaceniks.

Yet, despite any high-profile opposition to the war, more and more people are turning on Bush's War. And now that polling is showing the American people increasingly disenchanted with the war and agitating for a pullout, more Democrats will feel compelled to take "courageous" stances on the war, now that only 32 percent of the American people approve of it.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Turns out it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day. So we talk about pirates. Bain Capital boards and sinks Toys ‘R Us. Trump is still plundering “charities”; and hedge fund managers, their clients. More rape allegations among the Fox crew, trained under the Jolly Roger.

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Posted by BeauHD

A startup called Proterra has set the world record for the furthest distance any electric vehicle has managed before recharging. The Catalyst E2 Max electric bus drove 1,101.2 miles on a single charge, beating the previous record-holder, a one-seat experimental car nicknamed "Boozer." Engadget reports: Not surprisingly, a bus can hold a much larger battery than just about any regular car. The Catalyst E2 Max carries 660kWh, or nearly nine times the capacity of a 75kWh Tesla Model S. Also, Proterra was driving in optimal conditions, with no passengers, no stops and a gentle test track. It'd be another story with a fully-laden bus wending its way through a city. Even so, that kind of range is very promising. In many cases, it could likely handle a long bus route for several hours -- it might only need to recharge at the end of a driver's shift. While it could take an hour or more to top up even with Proterra's fast charging system, bus drivers are no strangers to changing vehicles. The first E2 series buses are due to reach Los Angeles streets later in 2017, so it might not be long before you can witness this longevity first-hand. The company released a video of the record-setting feat on YouTube.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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[personal profile] pameladean

This is very long and detailed, so I’m going to try to put in a cut tag.

All right, I can't get that to work, not if it was ever so. I'm sorry.

 

On Tuesday Raphael and I went to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The forecast was for a sunny, almost windless day with a high of 87. The air quality was moderate. I complained about this the day before and Raphael asked if I'd prefer not to go. But Sherburne is actually a good place to go on a less than perfect day, because there's a seven-mile wildlife drive with stopping points for viewing whoever happens to be around; also a tiny oak savanna (1/10-mile loop) trail and a prairie trail with an oak grove in the middle with a bench (1/2-mile loop). And it's September; hiking season will be over at some point.

We got a late start but arrived with about five hours of daylight ahead of us. Sherburne is near Sand Dunes National Forest, and its soil is also sandy. It's a lightly rolling landscape full of marshes, pools, and prairie, broken by lines and clumps of trees. You drive through a short stretch of mature restored prairie to reach the actual wildlife drive. It was awash in blooming goldenrod and blue and white asters and rich brown grasses.

 

We stopped at the Oak Savanna Trail and had a sandwich, read the list of plants presently blooming (six kinds of goldenrod, four kinds of white aster, two kinds of blue aster, rough blazing star, and boneset) and then walked out on the tiny boardwalk. We examined what looked like an abandoned bald eagle's nest through one of the spotting scopes provided, and then started looking at spreadwings (yet another kind of damselfly) in the tall grass that the boardwalk runs through.

 

Here is an image of a spreadwing that one might see in Minnesota, though I don’t know if that’s what we did see.

 

http://museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Odonata/lere.html

 

A flicker of motion in the distance caught my attention, and I looked up to see three sandhill cranes landing across the prairie near the road we'd come on. "A family," said Raphael, looking through the binoculars. "See the juvenile?" I did see the juvenile, which did not have all its red in yet but was almost as large as its parents. The cranes started walking through the grass, not unlike herons stalking through shallow water; occasionally they would bend their long necks down and poke around in the grass roots, and occasionally one of them would make a sharp dart and come up with food and swallow it.

It was hard to decide whether the cranes were more awesome through binoculars or just as tall shapes against the pale road and prairie, bending and straightening, wandering apart and together again. If you didn't look through binoculars you could also see meadowhawks darting around, the spreadwings rising to catch tiny insects and settling again to eat them, the unexpected wind shaking the oak leaves and the grass and the asters. From time to time a darner moved across the larger prairie, veering after prey or just powering along.

At last a truck came fairly fast along the road, raising a cloud of dust, and the cranes paused, considered, opened their huge wings and rose up, gawky but graceful, and flew away low over the grasses. We went back to looking at smaller wildlife

I was trying to spot a spreadwing through the binoculars when I saw what looked like an animated tangle of brown grass. I said to Raphael, “There’s some kind of mantis there!” and when Raphael expressed astonishment, I added, “It’s very stick-y,” which allowed Raphael to come up with the actual name: It was a stick insect. It took a few moments for me to describe its location and for Raphael to see it, and then I had trouble finding it again through the binoculars, but it was busy clambering around against the wind, so we did both get a good look at it. It was only the second stick insect I’d seen in Minnesota. The other was at Wild River State Park. That one was much larger and was rummaging around in a pile of leaves at the edge of the parking lot. This one was fascinating because its camouflage was so great, and yet it did have to move around, so you could differentiate it from the grass if you worked at it.

We’d arrived in the deep of the afternoon when smaller birds are quiet. We heard a few goldfinches murmuring, and a phoebe carrying on, and a chickadee. We left the boardwalk, admiring the asters waving in the non-foreseen but welcome breeze, and walked around the oak savanna loop. The little oak saplings tangled among the other shrubbery were already starting to turn red. White asters poked their flowerheads through leaves belonging to other plants, to startling effect. Autumn meadowhawks floated and hovered and darted, snatching up gnats from the clouds around them. We had seen a monarch butterfly in the asters while we were eating our lunch, and also a dark-phase swallowtail wandering over the grass; now we saw a painted lady butterfly.

We made an attempt to leave, but a darner landed on a drooping dead branch of an oak tree right in front of the car. The sun was behind it and we couldn’t get a good look without tramping heedlessly into the prairie, so we didn’t, but its silhouette was lovely against the brilliant sky.

 

We drove on, past tall browning and reddening grasses, clumps of goldenrod, clouds of asters. Darners flew up from the sides of the road and zoomed away. We found at the turning that the refuge had reversed the direction of the wildlife drive since we were there last, which was momentarily confusing; but we found our way, and stopped at the Prairie Trail. I pointed out some thoroughly spent plants of spotted horsemint. We’d seen it in bloom, if you can call it that, at William O’Brien. It’s a very weird-looking plant. Here’s a photo:

 

https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/spotted-horsemint

 

This observation continued my inability to accurately provide the names of things; I’d just called it horsemint and Raphael reminded me that that particular weird plant was spotted horsemint. There are other horsemints, but they don’t look so strange. As we stood looking over the rise and fall of the little prairie, with folds of alder and sumac, and lines and whorls of different grasses and goldenrod, all truly starred with the blue and white asters, I said that I loved how big the sky was at Sherburne. Raphael noted that it was a slate-blue just now; we assumed that was the haze of the wildfire smoke all the way from the west coast, a somber reminder of far too many things.

 

We took the grassy path, startling small grasshoppers out of our way and stirring up meadowhawks from the tall plants and shrubs. We saw a monarch; we saw a painted lady. Passing through a little grove of young alders, on almost every tip of the dead trees intermingled with the living there was a meadowhawk perched. They swept upwards, snatched a gnat or fly, landed to eat again. Raphael showed me how to identify a female autumn meadowhawk: they have a definite bulge just below the thorax, which was easy to see against the sky. Darners zipped past from time to time. If it was a green darner we could usually tell even from just a glance. The others were mosaic darners, but harder to identify in passing.

 

I think it was as we approached the oak grove that we started seriously trying to identify the grasses. We’d known big bluestem, aka turkey-tail, for years. After seeing it labelled repeatedly here and there, I could pick out the charming clumps of little bluestem, just knee-high, with their pale fluffy flowers lined up and catching the light. We’d looked at an informational sign at the trailhead, but its drawings of Indian grass and switch grass didn’t look right. Raphael pulled up the photo of the sign about grasses at the visitor center at Wild River, which had struck both of us at the time as much more informative than other attempts to depict native grasses; and we could suddenly identify Indian grass after all. It has a long, narrow rich brown seed head with varying degrees of spikiness; some are quite streamlined and others are tufty and look as if they need combing. And we felt more confident about the switch grass with its airy spreading seed heads.

 

Raphael pointed out a beetle on the path, maybe a Virginia leatherwing, and then realized it was a moth. A little research when we reached the oak grove and sat down showed that it was a netted moth, and the entry even mentioned that it looked quite a bit like a leatherwing.

 

The bench we were sitting on was made from boards of recycled plastic. At some point Raphael had ha enough sitting and went ahead a little way just to see what was there. I’d noticed when I sat down that there were verses from the Bible printed on the back of the bench in some kind of marker. On the left was the passage from Matthew that begins, “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden,” and on the right the passage from John that begins, “For God so loved the world.” These might have been written in different hands. But the passage in the middle was definitely in a different hand, and began, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine.” The ending of the passage was a bit smeared and I couldn’t read all of it, but at the bottom the name “hunter s. thompson” was clear enough. I followed Raphael and relayed the beginning of the passage. “Hunter s. thompson!” said Raphael, going back to the bench with me. “It’s from <i>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas</i>.” Raphael looked this up too, and showed me the unsmeared passage on the cellphone.

 

Giggling a bit, we went on our way. We were now well around the loop and into the straight stretch back to the car. From the other side I’d pointed out a lovely layering of grasses, goldenrod, a narrow cleft of willow scrub, and a candy-red line of sumac. Now we came to the sumac from the other side. On the path in front of us was a butterfly. “What is that?” said Raphael. “It’s a Red Admiral,” I said confidently, but it wasn’t. It was another Painted Lady. Raphael consolingly told me that they were both Vanessa, very closely related, but the Red Admiral is very common in Minnesota and I was chagrined that I’d misidentified something else as that.

 

We came to a little stretch of boardwalk over a marshy area. On a shrub was a shimmery amber-tinged odonate. I pointed it out to Raphael. It turned out to be another autumn meadowhawk, though it looked as if it ought to be an Eastern Amberwing, or at least a Band-Winged Meadowhawk. It had perched on a bit of red-stemmed dogwood, just to be extra-cooperative. We went on through the cattails and willow, past a minute patch of open water and up onto the grassy path again. Raphael pointed out that where the path climbed back out of the tiny marsh there was a nice view over the rest of the open water and the winding marsh with more willow, and cattails, and a shrub we should have known but didn’t. (I briefly misidentified it as more red-stemmed dogwood, because it was my day to misidentify everything; but it had deep purple stems and leaves just starting to turn reddish.)

 

On our right for the end of our walk was the brilliant sumac and the cleft of alder saplings, all their leaves fluttering and twinkling in the wind and sunlight; on the left a long slope of prairie grasses interrupted by goldenrod and asters. More darners sailed by. The sky had lost its smoky cast and was a fine late-summer deep blue. We came back to the car and Raphael began to drive away, but I exclaimed at the sight of a big clump of stiff goldenrod covered with pollinators. We didn’t get out, but looked our fill from the car. Big bumblebees, a stenuchid wasp, beetles, ambush bugs.

 

There’s one more trail you can actually walk along, near the end of the wildlife drive, but there was a sign at the beginning saying that it was flooded. Before that we drove past long stretches of marsh, open water, and rolling prairie, all patched with clumps of trees. From time to time there would be a wider spot in the road, sometimes a formal space big enough for three or four cars, with a bench or two, or a platform over a low spot with spotting scopes and some informational signs about the wildlife; others just a metal platform with railings, where you could stand and look over the water. We tentatively identified the spot where we’d once common moorhens, which are not so common that we weren’t deeply excited. We’ve also seen muskrats and various ducks in these locations, and once there was a gigantic cloud of mosaic darners all brown and yellow – I seem to recall that some of them were lance-tipped darners, but I may be wrong. This time we heard water birds making a ruckus, but couldn’t see them. Darners came by in about the density that they had been all the while. Over one platform we saw what turned out to be a northern harrier; these guys have an amazing acrobatic flight, and they’re reddish on the underside and bluish on the back. I excitedly called this one a kestrel, which would be smaller and have the colors reversed: bluish on the underside and red on the back. We also very clearly saw a nighthawk with its white wing bars, though the sun was still up.

 

We also saw some cedar waxwings fly-catching from a tree with a dead top, and heard a yellow warbler.

 

At last we came to a stretch of water, islands, and snags so large that it had two separate viewing-spots. From the first we saw several groups of large white birds. I thought the first were swans, but they were white pelicans. There were also some swans, however. We came finally around a curve of the gravel road to an observation station in a little oak grove, overlooking the far side of this large sheet of water. This is where most of the dead trees are, and here, to our delight, we saw as we’ve seen before several times a very large number of cormorants. The sun was setting by then, off to our right. The sky was pink and the water reflected it. Many cormorants were roosting already, but some were still coming out of the water; they would land on a branch, sometimes settling and sometimes glancing off several different trees before finding one that suited them, or one in which the other cormorants accepted them. It was hard to be sure. Then they would spread their wings out to dry, looking as if they were practicing to be bats for Halloween.

 

We found the swans and pelicans we’d seen from the other viewing station, though it was getting pretty dark by then. Cormorants still flew up into the trees and spread their wings. Through binoculars you could see the ones that had folded their wings now preening their breast feathers. Some of them had pale necks and brown fronts rather than being entirely black. I mentioned this to Raphael, who looked it up in Sibley and confirmed that those were juvenile cormorants.

 

It was getting quite dark by then and the mosquitoes were starting to think about biting us in earnest. We drove past two more pools; beside one two groups of people we’d seen pass earlier, a third car I didn’t recognize from before, and a man using a wheelchair were standing and gesticulating. We pulled up and got out. The water and trees were lovely in the twilight, but we didn’t see any wildlife. The solitary man went away in his wheelchair, the unfamiliar car left, and we followed, watching the varied texture of the grass and flowers fade away into the dark.

 

Pamela

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Hurricane Maria

About 40 miles SSE of St. Croix About 135 miles SE of San Juan, Puerto Rico Sustained Wind Speed 175 mph Moving west north west at 10 mph Central Pressure 909 mb

At 10PM AST, Maria is 60 miles southeast of St. Croix with sustained winds at 175 mph. This extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane is on track to strike two US areas within the next day.

Hurricane force gusts have already reached St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and the eye of the storm will pass near, or possibly over, the island at around 2 AM. Other islands in the area can expect strong winds and a dangerous surge. 

On Wednesday, Maria will reach Puerto Rico. The current track calls for the storm to strike the southeast corner of the island. Every area of Puerto Rico can expect to experience powerful, hurricane force winds. Sustained winds at the time of impact on Puerto Rico can be expected to be at least 165 mph.

St. Croix is barely visible on the right edge of the cone, already deep in the tropical storm area
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A hunger to know and create is a common theme in literature and mythology, but it's been balanced over thousands of years with messages which posit the pursuit of knowledge and the power of change as the destroyer of paradise. In a lot of stories, curiosity is treated as a "sin," since the discovery of truth usually signifies the loss of innocence. The Bible uses this trope with the temptation of "The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Greek mythology has both Pandora and her box and Prometheus and his gift of fire. And reams could and probably have been written on the effect to Western civilization of having two big cultural myths which blamed women for bringing evil and suffering into the world corresponding to ideas about sexual innocence and moral purity.

These themes are spread throughout history and a lot of popular art which attempts to reconcile human guilt, paranoia, and just trying to make sense of what it means to exist. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has at its core a fear science and technology are encroaching on the territory of the gods, hence the novel's subtitle: The Modern Prometheus. With horror films such as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, the subtext of both films is not really religious or supernatural. Rosemary’s Baby connects to real fears women have during pregnancy of the possibility something is wrong with their baby, that they’re losing control of their body, and the situation is one they’re experiencing but have little control over. The movie just adds Satanic rape and devil worshipers to the mix. The true horror of The Exorcist exists whether one believes in demonic possession, since the crux of the story is really about helplessness and a parent’s fear of having something wrong with a child no one seems able to fix. In this respect, whether it’s mental illness, cancer, or a demon, the story connects on that emotional level.

With the work of Darren Aronofsky, a recurring motif is spiritual obsession and the destruction which comes from pursuing it. In his directorial debut, π, the attempt to find a universal truth inspires chaos. Both The Wrestler and Black Swan contemplate the perceptions of beauty and brutality while trying to achieve perfection. In Noah, the biblical story, which is usually presented to children as a heartwarming tale of a family coming together to save Earth’s animals, is instead seen as being about a flawed prophet presiding over the righteous genocide of a wicked race.

His newest film, mother!, the response has been divided and caused a bit of controversy (e.g., the film has been called the most controversial film released by a major studio since A Clockwork Orange). While the the movie struggled at the box office over the weekend, it’s also an interesting case of a story that can be interpreted in a myriad of angles, from environmentalism to domestic abuse. And, arguably, mother! centers on a narcissist who loves adoration but cannot see, or is indifferent to, the destructiveness of his decisions. Sound like anyone familiar?

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New Trump EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had two choices after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He could rise to the challenges of his office, or he could tool around the country pooh-poohing people who asked about climate change, giving friendly interviews to conspiracy sites like Breitbart and issuing furious ad hominem attacks on journalists who questioned the EPA's seemingly less-than-robust response to the chemical explosions and spills accompanying the storms.

He, of course, chose the latter. And mind you, I suspect most of us were prepared for how beholden to polluting industries Scott Pruitt would be, because that is precisely how he auditioned for his current position; what's more surprising is just how petulant the man would be. He appears to be running the entire department as an exercise in self-gratification and extended bouts of pouting.

“I’ve got to say this to you: what is it about the past administration?” Pruitt said. “Everyone looks at the Obama administration as being the environmental savior. Really? He was the environmental savior? He’s the gold standard, right? Well, he left us with more Superfund sites than when he came in. He had Gold King [the 2015 mine wastewater spill] and Flint, Michigan [drinking water crisis]. He tried to regulate CO2 twice and flunked twice. Struck out. So what’s so great about that record? I don’t know.” [...]

“Maybe Christine Todd Whitman likes the Obama administration,” Pruitt said. “Go ask her, I don’t know. [Obama] is the gold standard, right?”

That last bit is a response to George W. Bush EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman penning a New York Times op-ed blasting Pruitt for how he's running the department and for his asinine denials of climate science. "Maybe Christine Todd Whitman likes the Obama administration" is the response of a child.

So it's clear that Scott Pruitt will not be mustering some hidden reserves of competence during his tenure. It will be interesting to see, however, how long he can survive on a diet of friendly far-right media interviews and angry press releases. It doesn't seem a sustainable position, for an (ahem) actual freaking cabinet member. It's the sort of behavior that generally ends with someone admitting to a pill addition and bowing out to spend more time licking the tar off old railroad ties.

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Posted by BeauHD

According to a new transparency report, Twitter said it suspended nearly 300,000 accounts globally linked to terrorism in the first half of the year. The company is improving automation tools used to help block accounts that promote terrorism and violence. Bloomberg reports: Of [the nearly 300,000 accounts that were suspended], roughly 95 percent were identified by the company's spam-fighting automation tools. Meanwhile, the social network said government data requests continued to increase, and that it provided authorities with data on roughly 3,900 accounts from January to June. Twitter said about 75 percent of the blocked accounts this year were spotted before a single tweet was sent, and that 935,897 accounts had been suspended since August 2015, with two-thirds of those coming in the past year. American authorities made 2,111 requests from Twitter from January to June, the most of the 83 countries tracked by the company. Twitter supplied information on users in 77 percent of the inquiries. Japan made 1,384 requests and the U.K. issued 606 requests. Turkish authorities continued a trend of aggressively policing Twitter, making 554 requests for account data and issuing court orders to remove 715 pieces of content. Other governments made only 38 total content-removal requests.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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There are a lot of barriers to Democrats retaking the House in 2018—with Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression at the top of the list—but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is putting up some very good fundraising numbers:

While their Republican counterparts haven't yet released their August results, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has outraised Republicans each of the three previous months — a result Democrats say bodes well for their prospects of winning the House in the 2018 midterm elections. [...]

The DCCC raised $6.26 million in August, compared to $4.15 million for August 2015, the last comparable year before a midterm election. Overall, the DCCC has raised $72.46 million in 2017. And the committee touted its online fundraising, which it says has totaled $31.26 million for the year so far, including $2.4 million last month.

Democrats will need bonkers fundraising to stand up to the Republican dark money that will be flooding into competitive races, but if fundraising in the middle of the off year says anything about voter enthusiasm, this is a very good sign.

Can you chip in $1 to each of our funds targeting the most vulnerable House Republicans?

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Posted by BeauHD

A new paper released on Monday via the National Bureau of Economic Research claims that retaining search log data doesn't do much for search quality. "Data retention has implications in the debate over Europe's right to be forgotten, the authors suggest, because retained data undermines that right," reports The Register. "It's also relevant to U.S. policy discussions about privacy regulations." From the report: To determine whether retention policies affected the accuracy of search results, Chiou and Tucker used data from metrics biz Hitwise to assess web traffic being driven by search sites. They looked at Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! Search during a period when Bing changed its search data retention period from 18 months to 6 months and when Yahoo! changed its retention period from 13 months to 3 months, as well as when Yahoo! had second thoughts and shifted to an 18-month retention period. According to Chiou and Tucker, data retention periods didn't affect the flow of traffic from search engines to downstream websites. "Our findings suggest that long periods of data storage do not confer advantages in search quality, which is an often-cited benefit of data retention by companies," their paper states. Chiou and Tucker observe that the supposed cost of privacy laws to consumers and to companies may be lower than perceived. They also contend that their findings weaken the claim that data retention affects search market dominance, which could make data retention less relevant in antitrust discussions of Google.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by BeauHD

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has made good on his threat to "aggressively enforce his intellectual property." The artist's lawyers have taken legal action against the alt-right. They have served cease and desist orders to several alt-right personalities and websites including Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the r/the_Donald subreddit. In addition, they have issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests to Reddit and Amazon, notifying them that use of Pepe by the alt-right on their platforms is copyright infringement. The message is to the alt-right is clear -- stop using Pepe the Frog or prepare for legal consequences. Furie originally created Pepe as a non-political character for his Boy's Club comic, but Pepe later became an internet meme and during the 2016 U.S. presidential election the alt-right movement appropriated the frog in various grotesque and hateful memes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

This is crooked.

In Florida this year, the president’s politics attracted a new client for one of his businesses. Steven M. Alembik, a conservative activist, is planning a $600-per-seat gala at the Mar-a-Lago Club.

His logic: Trump helped Israel. So Alembik will help Trump in return.

“He’s got Israel’s back,” Alembik said. “We’ve got his back.’”

This isn't money that's going to a Trump election fundraiser. This is money being paid to Trump, via his for-profit business—those profits go into his own pockets. And it's openly intended to reward Trump for supporting a particular foreign policy. He has a certain policy, therefore he gets a check.

At least 27 federal political committees — including Trump’s reelection campaign — have flocked to his properties. They’ve spent $363,701 in just seven months, according to campaign-finance reports. In addition, the Republican Governors Association paid more than $408,000 to hold an event this spring at the Trump National Doral golf resort, according to tax filings, a gathering the group said was booked back in February 2015. [...]

Just last week, the hotel hosted the prime minister of Malaysia, who is the subject of a Justice Department corruption probe, as well as the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which wants more offshore drilling.

These are Trump's own businesses. Trump gets cash money from each event. He says he won't be pocketing the money until he leaves office; after that, it's his. For now, it's Don Jr.'s.

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Facing imminent deportation despite having no criminal record and following ICE’s rules to check in, Leonor Garcia went into sanctuary in a Cleveland Heights, Ohio, church one week ago. It wasn’t an easy choice for Garcia to make: after her husband was deported in 2011, she became a single mom to four U.S. citizen kids. But when she was slapped with an ankle bracelet during her routine August check-in, Forest Hills Presbyterian Church announced Garcia would be given sanctuary in an act of holy resistance.

But while she is safe inside the church, her attorney alleges ICE agents went to her home to harass two of her children:

Agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "pounded on the door" of the Akron home of Leonor Garcia Friday morning, even though the office was told she has taken sanctuary in the the Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, church officials said.

Garcia's 3-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, Margaret, were home when agents knocked loudly on the door. Garcia, who is an undocumented immigrant, was scheduled to be deported to Mexico on Thursday. Instead, she took refuge in the church on Tuesday.

"ICE is at Leonor's house in Akron, banging on the door and terrorizing two innocent children who are in the house," a church official said. "There is no reason for this action since ICE knows full well that Leonor is in Sanctuary in Cleveland Heights. This is harassment."

September 2015

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