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Hour of Code Will Teach Kids How To Use AI To Judge Who Is 'Awesome' Or Not

Slashdot - 17 min 41 sec ago
theodp writes: In 2003, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously faced expulsion from Harvard after launching FaceMash, a type of "hot or not" website for Harvard students that asked visitors to review pictures of female students and rate their attractiveness. So perhaps it's fitting that during next week's Hour of Code, Facebook-sponsored Code.org's signature tutorial will introduce schoolchildren aged 8 and up to Artificial Intelligence concepts by asking them to review pictures of fish and rate their "awesomeness." "A.I. is learning which fish are 'awesome' and then sorting them based on the data provided by the student," explains Code.org in a post describing AI for Oceans: a #CSforGood activity, in which students create training data by answering the question of "Is this fish awesome?" by clicking on an "awesome" or "not awesome" button. It's a well-intentioned cautionary lesson in AI: Training Data & Bias, and one that seems to presume today's 3rd graders will know the correct answer to "Is it fair to use artificial intelligence to judge a fish by its looks?" better than certain circa-2003 Harvard students might have!

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Categories: Geek

Recordings Reveal That Plants Make Ultrasonic Squeals When Stressed

Slashdot - 3 hours 17 min ago
Researchers have discovered that plants make airborne sounds when stressed, which they say "could open up a new field of precision agriculture where farmers listen for water-starved crops," reports New Scientist. From the report: Itzhak Khait and his colleagues at Tel Aviv University in Israel found that tomato and tobacco plants made sounds at frequencies humans cannot hear when stressed by a lack of water or when their stem is cut. Microphones placed 10 centimeters from the plants picked up sounds in the ultrasonic range of 20 to 100 kilohertz, which the team says insects and some mammals would be capable of hearing and responding to from as far as 5 meters away. A moth may decide against laying eggs on a plant that sounds water-stressed, the researchers suggest. Plants could even hear that other plants are short of water and react accordingly, they speculate. On average, drought-stressed tomato plants made 35 sounds an hour, while tobacco plants made 11. When plant stems were cut, tomato plants made an average of 25 sounds in the following hour, and tobacco plants 15. Unstressed plants produced fewer than one sound per hour, on average. It is even possible to distinguish between the sounds to know what the stress is. The researchers trained a machine-learning model to discriminate between the plants' sounds and the wind, rain and other noises of the greenhouse, correctly identifying in most cases whether the stress was caused by dryness or a cut, based on the sound's intensity and frequency. Water-hungry tobacco appears to make louder sounds than cut tobacco, for example. The study, which has not yet been published in a journal, can be found here.

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Categories: Geek

Late Night Open Thread: Floriduh Driver

Balloon Juice - 3 hours 22 min ago

(From the tags on the front, looks to be this guyFL insurance adjuster & Trump fan)

The post Late Night Open Thread: Floriduh Driver appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

C&L's Late Nite Music Club With The King Brothers

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 23:01

In 2018, Japanese garage punkers the King Brothers released their first album in eight years. As we come to end of 2019, I am now just finally getting around to hearing some of it. Titled Wasteland, the record is such a batch of dynamite that it should have a "Danger: Explosives" warning label emblazoned across the front of it.

I got to see them live early in this century and the show is one that still sticks in my mind as a band as one of the most over the top shows when it came to rock-n-roll energy. Working hard is play to them. It also explains why nearly almost rock club in their hometown of Osaka has banned them from playing on their stage. The band levels any room they play.

What are you listening to tonight?

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Categories: Politics

Open thread for night owls. Digby: Trump will survive impeachment, but not without damage

Daily Kos - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 23:00

Heather Digby Parton at Salon writes—Trump will survive impeachment, for now: But make no mistake, this hurts him:

[House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] and the Democrats seem to think that impeaching the president quickly — and then seeing him quickly acquitted in the Senate — will somehow prevent him from doing that, which strikes me as unlikely. If experience is any guide, Trump will claim "total exoneration" and see it as license to do the same thing all over again. After all, the day after Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee, Trump got on the horn and tried to bribe the Ukrainian president to do what Mueller proved the Russians did on his behalf in 2016 — interfere in the presidential election.


There is some talk that the Democrats will include the Volume II charges in the Mueller Report in an impeachment article on obstruction of justice, which makes sense. The Mueller team obviously wrote that part of the report as a quasi-impeachment referral and handed it to the House practically tied up in a big red bow. It's full of testimony given under oath by dozens of Trump associates, flunkeys and administration officials that tells the story of a presidential campaign to defeat and undermine the Russia investigation.  These two crimes, the Russian interference and the attempted Ukrainian bribery, are like bookends, with the first informing the second.

Whatever the Democrats decide to do about the specific charges, Trump is going to be impeached. I would think dragging that out and keeping him tied down and off-balance would be the better way to ensure that he doesn't use his office for personal political gain again. But that ship is rapidly sailing out of the harbor.

According to CNN, the White House and Republican senators are planning a "defense" in which they attack Joe Biden and his son. They don't want to waste the opportunity to smear the former veep some more while the whole world is watching. But regardless of their sleazy tactics, the outcome of the whole thing is preordained. Trump will not be convicted and will undoubtedly strut around the country afterward, bragging that he beat the rap.

So it's probably time to start thinking about a post-impeachment election campaign. Trump will certainly be on the ticket next year, barring something totally unpredictable.



“The Supreme Court is saying that campaign spending is a matter of free speech, but it has set up a situation where the more money you have the more speech you can buy,” Axelrod says. “That’s a threatening concept for democracy.” He adds, “If your party serves the powerful and well-funded interests, and there’s no limit to what you can spend, you have a permanent, structural advantage. We’re averaging fifty-dollar checks in our campaign, and trying to ward off these seven- or even eight-figure checks on the other side. That disparity is pretty striking, and so are the implications. In many ways, we’re back in the Gilded Age. We have robber barons buying the government.”
      ~~David Axelrod, 2012



For the record: Requirement—25,000 hours of light. Average price of incandescent bulb: $1. Lifespan: 1,200 hours. So: $21 for the incandescent bulbs. Price of electricity at 15¢ a kilowatt/hour for 25,000 hrs: $169. Average price of LED bulb: $3.50. Lifespan: 25,000 hours. So: $3.50 for one bulb. Cost of electricity: $30. Total cost for buying and operating incandescent bulb(s): $211. Total for LED: $33.50. 


At Daily Kos on this date in 2008Obama: Biggest public works investment since Eisenhower planned:

In this morning's weekly address, President-Elect Obama promised to roll out the biggest investment in public infrastructure since the federal highway system of the 1950's was undertaken. In addition to roads and bridges, the new administration will upgrade public schools, build out broadband, make public buildings energy efficient and modernize medical record-keeping.

Today, I am announcing a few key parts of my plan. First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.

Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.

Third, my economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen.  We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Trump and Rudy Colludy are still criming. So, those impeachment probes may not be over. Who's Rudy seeing in Kyiv, anyway? MI-Sen in focus, with Eric Posman. Nukes: they're still out there, says Asparagus Zucchini. Reads & topics for your weekend.

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Categories: Politics

'The Deep Sea' Is Deeper Than You Think.

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 23:00

Sometimes I scroll mindlessly through Zillow...I don't plan on moving anytime in the next decade or two, but it's fun to scroll through homes in the neighborhood. It's the voyeur in me, I guess. Other times I scroll mindlessly through Etsy to see what cool stuff artists are creating. I don't really have the money to buy stuff, but I love looking at the jewelry and purses, especially. I have more than enough of both, and no plans to buy either, but still l scroll. It's the capitalist in me, I guess.

These provide mental and emotional breaks for me from the hours I spend mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and Facebook feeds to read even just a fraction of what I need to know for my work life and my activism. Or maybe it provides the procrastinator in me good fodder.

In any case, in my incessant scrolling, I came across this amazing little interactive gem called "The Deep Sea," created by Neal Agarwal. Keep scrolling. Just when you think you're done, and that there's nothing more to see, or nothing more to sea, you're rewarded. And amazed.

At least I was.

Please enjoy, and happy Friday.

Open Thread below.

Categories: Politics

Early Humans Domesticated Themselves, New Genetic Evidence Suggests

Slashdot - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: A new study -- citing genetic evidence from a disorder that in some ways mirrors elements of domestication -- suggests modern humans domesticated themselves after they split from their extinct relatives, Neanderthals and Denisovans, approximately 600,000 years ago. Domestication encompasses a whole suite of genetic changes that arise as a species is bred to be friendlier and less aggressive. In dogs and domesticated foxes, for example, many changes are physical: smaller teeth and skulls, floppy ears, and shorter, curlier tails. Those physical changes have all been linked to the fact that domesticated animals have fewer of a certain type of stem cell, called neural crest stem cells. Giuseppe Testa, a molecular biologist at University of Milan in Italy, and colleagues knew that one gene, BAZ1B, plays an important role in orchestrating the movements of neural crest cells. Most people have two copies of this gene. Curiously, one copy of BAZ1B, along with a handful of others, is missing in people with Williams-Beuren syndrome, a disorder linked to cognitive impairments, smaller skulls, elfinlike facial features, and extreme friendliness. To learn whether BAZ1B plays a role in those facial features, Testa and colleagues cultured 11 neural crest stem cell lines: four from people with Williams-Beuren syndrome, three from people with a different but related disorder in which they have duplicates instead of deletions of the disorder's key genes, and four from people without either disorder. Next, they used a variety of techniques to tweak BAZ1B's activity up or down in each of the stem cell lines. That tweaking, they learned, affected hundreds of other genes known to be involved in facial and cranial development. Overall, they found that a tamped-down BAZ1B gene led to the distinct facial features of people with Williams-Beuren syndrome, establishing the gene as an important driver of facial appearance. "When the researchers looked at those hundreds of BAZ1B-sensitive genes in modern humans, two Neanderthals, and one Denisovan, they found that in the modern humans, those genes had accumulated loads of regulatory mutations of their own," the report says. "This suggests natural selection was shaping them. And because many of these same genes have also been under selection in other domesticated animals, modern humans, too, underwent a recent process of domestication." The findings have been reported in the journal Science Advances.

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Categories: Geek

State Lawyers Say Judge's Ruling Will Nullify Florida Law Restoring Ex-felons' Voting Rights

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 22:00

A federal judge ruled in October that it is unconstitutional for Florida to make ex-felons who have completed their sentences pay fines, legal fees, and restitution before having their voting rights restored under an amendment that took effect in January. The state’s lawyers are now arguing that if that ruling is allowed to stand, the entire law will be nullified, and ex-felons will be right back where they were before the amendment was passed—permanently barred from voting unless a merciful governor can be persuaded to restore their rights case by case.

Since it became a state in 1845, Florida has barred felons from voting. The law has been slightly altered since then, notably after the Civil War and in 1968, after the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed. But until 2007, ever more Floridians convicted of felonies were barred for life from voting. Their only hope was personally seeking gubernatorial clemency, which was rarely given.

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Categories: Politics

‘Season of Giving’ Open Thread: Spare A Thought for the Locally-Grown, Artisanal Bigots & Hypocrites

Balloon Juice - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:18

The multinational big-box kleptocrats, with the Oval Office Occupant as their spokesthing, are making it impossible for the traditional regional hatemongers to get the earned media (free publicity) they rely upon to survive!

Take, for instance, newly-minted reparative-justice advocate and unindicted insurance-fraud Republican Darrel Issa:

“If the soulless legislative middle managers are gonna keep a stand-up guy like Duncan Hunter from voting with us, just because he’s pled guilty to robbing wounded veterans to pay for his golf fees, cigar bars, and at least five extramarital liaisons with lobbyists and staffers… who’s gonna be left to accuse the Democrats of immorality and lawlessness? (ME!, that’s who)”

In August, Issa announced that he had launched an exploratory committee to consider a potential bid for Hunter’s seat, which prompted him to withdraw his nomination by Trump for a trade post.

The Union-Tribune noted that unlike other challengers running for Hunter’s seat, Issa has not criticized the embattled Republican congressman.

On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee urged Hunter to “refrain from voting on any question at a meeting of the House or of the Committee of the Whole House,” citing a House rule regarding convicted lawmakers…

Not to mention the sad status of favorite blog chewtoy Little Prince Rand, who can’t get any front-page MSM attention for the kind of puke-funnel performance that used to be worth thousands from his donors / voters…

The post ‘Season of Giving’ Open Thread: Spare A Thought for the Locally-Grown, Artisanal Bigots & Hypocrites appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Anti-Vaxxer Arrested As Samoa Executes Mass-Vaccination Campaign To Stop Measles Outbreak

Slashdot - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:10
Koreantoast writes: The Samoan government arrested a prominent local anti-vaxxer who was attempting to disrupt a mass vaccination campaign to stop an ongoing measles epidemic. Edwin Tamasese was arrested and charged with incitement, facing up to two years in prison after attempting to dissuade people from participating in the mass vaccination campaign and encouraging unproven "alternative treatments" such as Vitamin C supplements and papaya leaf extract. The small island nation of Samoa is currently battling a measles epidemic with over 2,000 infected and at least 63 confirmed deaths, mostly young children. Immunization rates dropped below 30% in the prior year following a medical scandal in 2018 when two nurses administering the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination incorrectly mixed muscle relaxant with the doses instead of water, resulting in two infant deaths. The nurses attempted to cover up their mistake and blame the vaccine, but they were caught, charged with manslaughter, and sentenced to five years in prison. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and anti-vaxxers exploited the tragedy to scare parents away from immunizing their children, leading to the current crisis. Last month, the Pacific island nation declared a state of emergency while it finalized plans for a compulsory measles vaccination program. According to new data from the World Health Organization, measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as the number of cases around the world surged once again.

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Categories: Geek

Senate Republicans Struggle With Trump's Interference In 2020 Races

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:00

Donald Trump, being the authoritarian megalomaniac he is, is demanding that Senate candidates be total Trumpers. The problem for Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans is that the seats that are being challenged in 2020 are in not-total-Trump territory. Watching current Senate Republicans try to navigate that problem is probably the only joy one can get from the Senate right now.

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Categories: Politics

Qualcomm To Offer GPU Driver Updates On Google Play Store For Some Snapdragon Chips

Slashdot - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 20:30
MojoKid writes: At its Snapdragon Summit in Maui, Hawaii this week, Qualcomm unveiled the new Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, which enable next year's flagship 5G Android phones with more performance, a stronger Tensor-based AI processor and a very interesting new forthcoming feature not yet offered for any smartphone platform to date. The company announced that it will eventually start delivering driver updates for its Adreno GPU engines on board the Snapdragon 865 as downloadable packages via the Google Play Store. This is big news for smartphones, as GPU drivers are rarely updated out of band, if ever, and typically have to wait for the next major Android release. And even then, many OEMs don't bother putting in the effort to ensure that mobile GPUs are running the most current graphics drivers from Qualcomm. The process, which would have to be pre-qualified by major OEMs as well, will be akin to what the PC GPU 3D graphics driver ecosystem has been benefiting from for a long time, for maximum performance and compatibility. Unfortunately, at least currently, GPU driver update support is limited to only the Adreno 650 core on board the new Snapdragon 865, which currently supports updating drivers in this fashion. Here's hoping this program is met with success and Qualcomm will begin to enable the feature for legacy and new midrange Snapdragon platforms as well.

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Categories: Geek

It Wasn’t Balloon Juice

Balloon Juice - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 19:55

Just a quick programming note to say that the site interruptions this evening were not the result of a problem with our site – they were the result of problems way further up the networking chain. So there’s that, at least!

Since John thinks that all/most/some of us are insufferable pricks who complain all the time, maybe you guys can use this thread to comment about the things you do like about the new site?

Surely there must be something!

The post It Wasn’t Balloon Juice appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Deepfake Porn Is Evolving To Give People Total Control Over Women's Bodies

Slashdot - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 19:50
samleecole shares a report from Motherboard: A lineup of female celebrities stand in front of you. Their faces move, smile, and blink as you move around them. They're fully nude, hairless, waiting for you to decide what you'll do to them as you peruse a menu of sex positions. This isn't just another deepfake porn video, or the kind of interactive, 3D-generated porn Motherboard reported on last month, but a hybrid of both which gives people even more control of women's virtual bodies. This new type of nonconsensual porn uses custom 3D models that can be articulated and animated, which are then made to look exactly like specific celebrities with deepfaked faces. Until recently, deepfake porn consisted of taking the face of a person -- usually a celebrity, almost always a woman -- and swapping it on to the face of an adult performer in an existing porn video. With this method, a user can make a 3D avatar with a generic face, capture footage of it performing any kind of sexual act, then run that video through an algorithm that swaps the generic face with a real person's.

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Categories: Geek

Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Resistance FRIDAY!

Daily Kos - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 19:30


Late Night Snark: ‘Twas the Night Before Impeachment Edition

"It was a long day for the House Judiciary portion of the impeachment proceedings. The committee heard from four legal scholars, who laid out the constitutional grounds for impeachment. There's a lot of speculation in the committee about what the founding fathers would do if they were here to see this. To me the answer is obvious: they'd be throwing up in their wigs. If the founding fathers were here they'd be like, 'Take that orange ape and throw him in the harbor with the tea.'"

—Jimmy Kimmel

"After opening an inquiry into the possibility of impeachment, then reading the impeachment report and considering the impeachment options, we finally made it to the beginning of the end of the start, and we're about to start the beginning of the middle."

—Stephen Colbert

Rudy-Giuliani_Eyes-Bugged.jpg Rudy Giuliani’s resting face is “Oh no, did I just stitch up this patient with my car keys inside him???”
—Conan O’Brien

"Historic times. The impeachment is moving forward. Democrats are now deciding which of President Trump's crimes to include in the articles of impeachment. So far they've got bribery, obstruction of justice, and fathering Don Jr. He could get the chair for that one."

—Conan O'Brien

"Last night during a reception at Buckingham Palace, world leaders including Justin Trudeau and Emanuel Macron were caught gossiping about President Trump. Trump was so upset he canceled a press conference and left NATO early. He said, 'Take me back where I'm respected.' And then he flew home where he's being impeached."

—Jimmy Fallon

"Even overseas, your racist uncle will still show up to ruin Thanksgiving dinner."

—Samantha Bee on Trump's visit to Afghanistan

"South Dakota's governor is defending a new anti-meth campaign which features the tagline "Meth: We're On It. Which isn’t as bad as North Dakota's ad campaign: "Cocaine: We Cracked It."

—Michael Che, SNL

Don’t forget: the ACA enrollment deadline for 2020 coverage ends nine days from today. If you or someone you know needs coverage via the federal exchange, make a note to get to Healthcare.gov this weekend and git ‘er done.  

Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Categories: Politics

Social Media Platforms Leave 95 Percent of Reported Fake Accounts Up, Study Finds

Slashdot - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 19:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The report comes this week from researchers with the NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence (StratCom). Through the four-month period between May and August of this year, the research team conducted an experiment to see just how easy it is to buy your way into a network of fake accounts and how hard it is to get social media platforms to do anything about it. The research team spent about $332 to purchase engagement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, the report (PDF) explains. That sum bought 3,520 comments, 25,750 likes, 20,000 views, and 5,100 followers. They then used those interactions to work backward to about 19,000 inauthentic accounts that were used for social media manipulation purposes. About a month after buying all that engagement, the research team looked at the status of all those fake accounts and found that about 80 percent were still active. So they reported a sample selection of those accounts to the platforms as fraudulent. Then came the most damning statistic: three weeks after being reported as fake, 95 percent of the fake accounts were still active. "Based on this experiment and several other studies we have conducted over the last two years, we assess that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are still failing to adequately counter inauthentic behavior on their platforms," the researchers concluded. "Self-regulation is not working."

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Categories: Geek

Trump Administration Drops Plans For Mandatory Face Scans of Citizens

Slashdot - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:30
schwit1 shares a report from U.S. News & World Report: The Department of Homeland Security is dropping plans to propose a regulation requiring all travelers -- including U.S. citizens -- to have their photos taken and faces scanned by facial recognition technology when entering and exiting the country, according to multiple reports. The proposed rule was slated to be issued in July of next year and would be part of a larger effort by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to better track those who enter and exit the country. Privacy advocates pointed to a June data breach as one of the reasons that the agency should not collect the information. DHS last summer acknowledged a cyberattack against a contractor that exposed the photos and license plates of nearly 100,000 people traveling in and out of the country at a border crossing.

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Categories: Geek

Ha Ha Fucking Ha

Balloon Juice - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:13

I guess I’m just going to embed AOC tweets for the duration, but goddam is this sweet. Those fuckers at Amazon tried to hold up NYC for $3 billion in tax breaks, cried like little babies when Mr. Backlash made them feel a little bad about themselves, and then they fucking caved.

The post Ha Ha Fucking Ha appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Retro review: Temple Run

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:04

Temple Run was the breakout endless running game that spawned a million imitators. Does it still hold up? Find out in this Retro Review.
Categories: Geek

One In Five Federal Judges Now A Trump Appointee

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:00

[above video from September]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rammed through eight of President Donald Trump's lifetime judicial picks in just three days this week, accelerating the far-right court takeover that one commentator warned is "absolutely going to hamstring efforts to make the U.S. into a responsible, civilized country, for as long as we live."

"Donald Trump is paying back his debts and then some to the anti-choice movement that got him elected."
—Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America

The latest slew of confirmations, according to Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur, means that Trump and his Federalist Society allies have now hand-picked "about one in every five American federal judges," or 170 judges total.

"Nearly all are in their 40s or 50s with lifetime appointments and positioned to shape American law for generations," Kapur noted on Twitter. "It gets a tiny fraction of attention compared to other stuff he does but this is the Trump legacy that'll echo for generations after he's gone."

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Categories: Politics