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Friday Cat Blogging – 15 February 2019

Kevin Drum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:00

Back when I was taking pictures of raindrop splashes, I opened the window over my desk and took the screen out. This immediately attracted both cats, who were fascinated by this brand new way to get into the backyard. They were also fascinated by the birds who cluster around here because this is where our bird feeder is. In this picture, Hilbert’s attention is locked on a bird that he is hoping will fly into his mouth. Hopper’s attention is apparently locked on my computer. Or possibly a bug of some kind. Who knows?

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: Raise the Wage Act would help black workers most; a substitute for Trump's wall?

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:00

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is The Revolver:

Cartoon by Mark Fiore

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos:

  • Are we a democracy or are we a monarchy, by Ian Reifowitz
  • We must take back our wealth from the super-rich methodically before it is too late, by Egberto Willies 
  • I used to be a "centrist" Democrat, by Frank Vyan Walton 
  • Rich guy says taxing rich guys is wrong, by Mark E Andersen 
  • The 2020 Trump strategy, and why scandal is our own worst enemy, by David Akadjian 
  • I’m a billionaire and I’m running for president, by Jon Perr
  • Here's our ultimate Democratic wishlist for Senate in 2020. Who's on yours? by Steve Singiser 
  • The 2020 electorate will be more diverse than ever, by Sher Watts Spooner 
  • I refuse to honor George Washington, and other 'founders' who enslaved, and sold human beings, by Denise Oliver Velez 

Cost of phone calls from Illinois’ jails 50 times more than from its prisons:

When you’re thrown behind bars, not much is more important than a phone call. And while a lot of attention has been paid to the exorbitant rates and hidden fees of phone calls from federal and state prisons, the cost of calling from city and county jails remains largely unchecked, preventing many prisoners—the majority of whom are pre-trial—from communicating with loved ones or lawyers.

According to a new report this week from the nonprofit research organization Prison Policy Initiative, the average cost of a phone call from jail is over three times as much as one from prison. In some states, it’s much higher than that: In Michigan, a 15-minute call from jail could cost as much as $22, whereas that call from state prison would come out to just under $2.50. In Illinois, a typical jail call is over 50 times more expensive than a call from state prison.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation tried save the Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Katrina: It built 109 new homes there. But many are flawed in design, construction, and materials, one so bad it had to be demolished. One publication said, “Make It Right seems to have made it blight.” What happened?



Group of engineers and scientists propose building solar, wind, natural gas, and water infrastructure instead of a wall on southern border:

Here’s an idea: Instead of an endless, inert wall along the U.S.–Mexico border, line the boundary with 2,000 miles of natural gas, solar and wind power plants. Use some of the energy to desalinate water from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean and ship it through pipelines to thirsty towns, businesses and new farms along the entire border zone. Hire hundreds of thousands of people from both countries to build and run it all. Companies would make money and provide security to safeguard their assets. A contentious, costly no-man’s-land would be transformed into a corridor of opportunity. [...]

The idea is more than a pipe dream. A consortium of 27 engineers and scientists from a dozen U.S. universities has developed a plan. Last week they delivered it to three U.S. representatives and one senator. “Let’s put the best scientists and engineers together to create a new way to deal with migration, trafficking—and access to water. These are regions of severe drought,” says Luciano Castillo, a professor of energy and power at Purdue University who leads the group. “Water supply is a huge future issue for all the states along the border in both countries.”

Andrew McCabe’s new book portrays Jefferson B. Sessions III as incompetent racist: While that description is a mild one by progressive standards, it’s always good to hear some details. Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe described several interactions with then-Attorney General Sessions, citing him saying: “Back in the old days, he said, you all only hired Irishmen. They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos.” 

Economic Policy Institute analyzes the Raise the Wage Act of 2019By raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, 40 million American workers would get a pay boost. And it would disproportionately increase the wages of all black workers by 38.1 percent and 23.2 percent of all white workers. African Americans would benefit more because they are more likely to be employed in jobs currently paying less than the proposed new minimum wage and less likely to work in states or regions that have passed a state minimum wage higher than the current federal minimum:

Just as black workers were significantly overrepresented in the industrial sectors originally excluded from [federal] minimum wage coverage [in 1938], black workers today are significantly overrepresented in states that have not raised their minimum wages as the purchasing power of the federal minimum has eroded. In both instances, these were intentional policy decisions rooted—at least in part—in indifference if not outright hostility toward black workers. 

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Categories: Politics

Comment: With Apple’s March event focused on services, when should we expect hardware updates?

9to5Mac - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:55

At the start of the week, you could reasonably guess that Apple might hold its semi-regular spring event to unveil a new 10-inch iPad and smaller iPad mini 5, an updated iPod touch, possibly AirPods 2, and new features in iOS 12.2. Reliable reporting has since adjusted expectations, giving us a rumored event date and a focus on new subscription news and video services in place of any hardware. So when should we expect to see all that rumored hardware if there’s no hardware event?


The post Comment: With Apple’s March event focused on services, when should we expect hardware updates? appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Categories: Geek

Trump is finally figuring out that he's a loser

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:54

Donald Trump and his father Fred dedicated much of their lives united in a singular cause: Creating the illusion that the Dons was an absolute winner in life in every respect. He had the money, the business acumen, the ladies—it was such an all-consuming pursuit of glory that Trump appears to actually believe in the facade they built over decades. 

That winning narrative, given a considerable electoral boost by Russia, carried right into Trump's first term as pr*sident. With an entirely GOP-controlled Congress, Trump faced no opposition, no calling to account, and his victor fantasy was allowed to flourish to some extent, despite the fact that he only logged one legislative win in his first two years of office.

But Trump's utterly embarrassing defeat this week on his chief campaign promise marked an end to Trump's delusions of grandeur. Stripped of the endless advantages that his daddy's money has bought him his entire life and forced to play on a level playing field with an oppositional party led by a woman, Trump is getting eaten alive. And what's clear from the Washington Post’s reporting of his reactions to getting little more than a pittance for border fencing in the budget deal is that Trump, faced with his own inadequacies, is losing it. 

After being briefed on the deal Thursday and realizing what a humiliating failure it represented, Trump threatened to torpedo the entire measure just before voting began on it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who'd already spent the week on the horn with Trump, was called into action once again to shower him with soothing lies that Democrats had actually lost the battle. After logging three "nerve-racking" calls with Trump, McConnell ultimately promised to pledge his support for Trump's national emergency—something he had repeatedly advised against—in exchange for an assurance Trump would sign the bill. The White House counsel's office later bolstered McConnell's effort by promising Trump that signing the legislation wouldn't preclude him from using his executive powers to get more money.

Categories: Politics

Quote of the Day: Emergency? What Emergency?

Kevin Drum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:50

From President Trump on the $6 billion he’s going to take from the military to build his wall:

I said, “What were you going to use it for?” And I won’t go into details, but it didn’t sound too important to me.

Good to know! But really, this is the most important thing Trump said:

I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster….The only reason we’re up here talking about this is because of the election, because they want to try and win an election which it looks like they’re not going to be able to do. And this is one of the ways they think they can possibly win is by obstruction and a lot of other nonsense. And I think that I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.

I assume this will be Exhibit A in the lawsuits that will be brought against Trump’s declaration of emergency. “I didn’t need to do this,” he said, and with that the game is up. Congress explicitly refused to appropriate the money he wanted, and he thinks this is just an election ploy. It’s hard to see how any judge can agree that this is a true emergency in the face of this admission on national TV.

Categories: Politics

AOC and Joaquin Castro promise a resolution to terminate Trump’s idiotic ‘national emergency'

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:48

Even as reports began to filter out on Thursday that Donald Trump would likely agree to sign off on a bipartisan bill to keep the government from shutting down, Trump’s gang of miserable racists also floated the rumor that he would declare a national emergency in order to fund his dumb wall. With that in mind, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) announced that he was ready to present a congressional resolution that would terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration.

“Historically, Presidents have declared national emergencies for urgent matters of national security. President Trump would unconstitutionally usurp congressional authority by declaring an emergency based upon unfounded hype rather than any substantive emergency. Border crossings are lower than they have been in four decades. There are more law enforcement officers at the border—some stationed there simply to make good on politicians’ anti-immigrant rhetoric—than ever before. Further, such a baseless declaration by President Trump would set a dangerous precedent regarding the constitutional balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches.”

Bloomberg News reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has signed on as a co-sponsor of the resolution.


The Washington Post explains that the resolution would be discussed in the House, and then would likely make its way to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might find himself trying very hard to keep some soon-to-be-campaigning Republican senators on board for what is clearly a waste of power and resources.

There are people trying to make America a better place.

Categories: Politics

Stacey Abrams Tells Seth Meyers: Resist Trump But Don't Take Him Seriously

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:45

Stacey Abrams has a recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of the State of the Union response speech, specifically needing to take a drink of water as Marco Rubio did not so long ago.

"I hydrated early, and wore a moisturizing but not glistening lipstick." said Abrams.

She also put the most difficult part of her speech up front, wishing her audience the tongue twister of a 'happy Lunar New Year."

When it comes to Trump's Declaration of a "National Emergency," Abrams was serious about not taking Trump or any of his temper tantrums seriously.

“We validate his behavior by treating it as serious. What we should treat it as fraudulent and fraught with egotism."

The correct way to deal with this man-baby? “Sue him, let him lose, and don’t give him the credibility of treating this as serious.”

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Categories: Politics

Samsung is launching three new stores in the US as Galaxy turns 10

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:45

The newest stores are the first company-run locations where fans can actually buy Samsung devices, not just try them.
Categories: Geek

Copyright Office Refuses Registration for 'Fresh Prince' Star Alfonso Ribeiro's "Carlton Dance"

Slashdot - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:33
The U.S. Copyright Office is skeptical about Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro's ownership claim over the signature "Carlton Dance," which became famous after a 1991 episode of the Will Smith series. From a report: In correspondence last month that was surfaced on Wednesday in California federal court, Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist in the Office's Performing Arts Division, told Ribeiro's attorney that registration must be refused because his claimed "choreographic work" was a "simple dance routine." [...] Take-Two Interactive, publisher of the game NBA 2K, is now seizing upon the refusal in support of the argument that movements for the "Carlton Dance" are not protectable. Ribeiro is suing Take-Two as well as the publisher of Fortnite over special features that allow game players to have their avatars perform the dance. In a dismissal brief, Kirkland & Ellis attorney Dale Cendali makes some of the same arguments she did earlier in the week in an attempt to reject a similar lawsuit over Fortnite from the rapper 2 Milly. But there are particular contentions specifically directed at Ribeiro's claim.

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Categories: Geek

How to use Apple Music and Alexa on your Amazon Echo speaker

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:30

Amazon Echo

Do you have an Amazon Echo speaker along with an Apple Music subscription? Here’s how to connect Apple Music and Alexa and listen to your favorite tunes.
Categories: Geek

Supreme Court agrees to review case regarding adding citizenship question to U.S. census

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:26

Republican former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has always been keen on voter suppression, pushing voter ID laws, whacking people from the voter rolls, and pushing a law that required people registering to vote to prove their citizenship. In 2011, Sam Brownback, who was then the state’s Republican governor, signed Kobach’s Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, which, among other things, mandated that Kansas voters prove they are U.S. citizens. In 2013-2015, 36,000 Kansans had their registrations placed in a suspense file because they couldn’t immediately prove they were citizens. 

Kobach has also been heavily involved in pushing to add the citizenship question to the U.S. census. He said in 2018 that he had raised the issue with Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration. In March 2018, despite strong objections from Democrats, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added the question for the 2020 census. Litigation ensued to stop it.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court said it will take up the matter in a review of a case decided against Ross by a district court judge. The court’s ruling could have a tremendous impact on how many people refuse to answer census questions next year. And those uncounted people could reduce Democratic representation in Congress when districts are redrawn and affect how billions of dollars of federal money are distributed to the states.

Categories: Politics

It's A National Emergency, Now Off To The Golf Course

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:21

Crossposted from Mock Paper Scissors: Just give him the money, and no one gets hurt!

Well, fellow hostages, by the time I post this, Comrade Stupid will have declared his National Emergency for the emergency that he created at the border, after signing some sort of bill that avoids the other national emergency that he created. And then he goes to Merde-a-Lardo to recover from all that work.

The man works his tiny fingers to the bone.


“The upshot is that any attempt by Trump to get around Congress by using invented emergency powers would violate the Constitution. It almost certainly would be blocked by the courts. And it would constitute a high crime and misdemeanor qualifying him for impeachment.”

Silly Bloomberg! Obeying the law has never been important to Hair Füror.

Reliable Sources email thingie point us to Tiger Beat’s conservative editor, Matt Latimer:

read more

Categories: Politics

Pokémon GO may be forced to change Poké Stops and Gyms in game after lawsuit settlement

9to5Mac - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:17

A proposed settlement for Pokémon GO developer Niantic in its class action lawsuit suggests that it could be removing or changing some Poké Stops and Gyms within the game. According to a report from Variety, the proposed settlement was filed on Thursday in a California court. If approved, Pokémon GO will need to remove Poké Stops or Gyms that are on private property.


The post Pokémon GO may be forced to change Poké Stops and Gyms in game after lawsuit settlement appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Categories: Geek

Groups sue Trump admin over policy forcing vulnerable asylum seekers to return to Mexico

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:05

The Trump administration’s inhumane and illegal policy forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico to wait out their cases will undoubtedly cost lives. Just weeks ago—and just days before the U.S. announced the “Migration Protection Protocols” policy—two Honduras teens who were a part of the so-called migrant caravan were murdered in Tijuana. Now, a coalition of leading groups is suing

“This new policy severely undermines the very purpose of our asylum system,” said Blaine Bookey,  of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, “endangering rather than safeguarding the lives of our individual plaintiffs and others fleeing persecution.” The group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers who have been forced into Mexico.

One plaintiff, a Honduran man identified as “Ian Doe” for his own safety, is a former police officer who worked undercover to stop drug trafficking. But when his identity was revealed, he fled for his life. Mistaking him for Ian, drug traffickers then killed his brother. Now, after being forcibly removed to Tijuana by the Trump administration, Ian continues to fear for his life.

This comes as the administration has illegally blocked asylum seekers at U.S. ports of entry in a process called “metering,” where agents allow as few as 20 people a day to exercise their right to ask for asylum at the border. Thousands of others are then left to wait weeks, sometimes months for their turn. The only crisis at the border is the treatment of families by our government.

The fact is that the administration’s “Migration Protection Protocol” is anything but protection. It’s a logistical nightmare that will put already vulnerable people in further danger. “This is no longer just a war on asylum seekers, it’s a war on our system of laws,” said Melissa Crow, an attorney in Innovation Law Lab v. Nielsen. “This misguided policy deprives vulnerable individuals of humanitarian protections that have been on the books for decades and puts their lives in jeopardy.”

Categories: Politics

Who's The Real President, Coulter, Limbaugh, Or Hannity?

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:05

Not since Woodrow Wilson lay in the White House in a near coma from a stroke have we had such a weak so-called president.

On Friday's CNN's New Day, David Axelrod didn't sugarcoat it: "Any time an Ann Coulter or a Rush Limbaugh or his buddy Hannity complain, [Trump] shrivels into the fetal position."

Categories: Politics

Trump’s made-up immigrant murder rate doesn’t come close to deaths from gun violence and overdoses

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:57

Donald Trump has declared a national emergency for a fake crisis at our southern border. His No. 1 sticking point is that undocumented immigrants are coming into our country and committing crime. More specifically, they are committing heinous, gang-related acts of murder, rape, and mayhem. The numbers and the data he cites in his speeches are not simply wrong: They do not exist. Even his own government and the agencies he claims to be getting his evidence from produce completely different facts than their bigot in chief. When Trump first began drumming up his fake border crisis months ago, he would throw around that “63,000 Americans have been killed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks by people who came to the U.S. illegally.” 

Besides being a false statistic, it pales in comparison to the number of Americans killed by firearms—just last year. The New York Times reported in December that almost 40,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2017, a historic 50-year high. 2018 saw the worst year in school shootings that our country has on record. Just this February, The Trace and the Miami Herald released an accounting of children killed by guns since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Data collected by youth reporters found that almost 1,200 American children ages 0-18 were killed by guns in the last 12 months.

In December, the CDC reported that more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. That’s just one year. Trump’s fake 63,000 “Americans killed” number—WHICH IS A FAKE NUMBER—covers 17 years! There are reasons to declare a national emergency in order to give much-needed funds to American institutions, but those institutions should not build walls and imprison families. The American institiutions that need national support provide mental healthcare, education, training, and safety to some of our most desperate friends and loved ones. Whether it’s from gun violence, domestic violence, or addiction, we have real public health and safety issues in our country, and a make-believe wall isn’t simply racist and stupid, it’s a waste of much-needed resources.

Categories: Politics

Chris Wallace: Trump's Lawyers 'Are Going To Shake Their Heads' Over 'Emergency'

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:57

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace told Fox News that Donald's lawyers' heads must have exploded when Trump said he could have built the wall without the money he demanded in his so-called "national emergency" declaration, "but wanted to do it faster."

I wrote about this earlier. Trump destroyed his own rationale for declaring a "National Emergency" by saying he could have built the wall by not using his executive powers.

America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer toed the party line by calling Trump's off-the-wall and angry presser a "tour de force."

Fox News played some video from the top of Trump's presser and Smith reiterated his words saying, "He's going to get this done one way or another."

Wallace said, "He's certainly gonna try." After laying out Trump's vision of his words, Chris said, "He's not the only voice in this." Wallace understands that the courts will have to render a decision on a sitting president usurping Congressional powers.

Wallace then got to a very serious point.

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Categories: Politics

An Insect-bot Mimics Desert Ants by Looking at the Sky To Navigate

Slashdot - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:56
From a report: A new robot can navigate without GPS, using the same light-sensing abilities as desert ants. Desert ants survive in searingly hot conditions in the Sahara. They sometimes have just a few minutes to forage for food before they risk burning to death. As a result, they are very efficient navigators, using bands of polarized light, invisible to humans, to get around. They also carefully count their steps. These two tactics help to keep them alive. AntBot: The bot, described this week in Science Robotics, is fitted with UV light sensors that can detect polarized light from the sun. This is known as a "celestial compass" and is designed to mimic the way desert ants see the sun's light. This helps it work out the direction it's going in. The robot also counts its steps, much like its desert muse. In tests, it successfully managed to complete an outdoor homing task, where it was required to go to several checkpoints and then return to a fixed location within a range of 14 meters.

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Categories: Geek

Things Other Than This Bullshit Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:51

You know which bullshit I’m talking about.

I’m a little more aggro than normal right now because the expert consultant we’ve hired is being mad condescending, and I definitely don’t have it in me to read more about… this bullshit.

Some folks have been asking how Samwise is adjusting:

Would that we all could be so well-adjusted.

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

WormBase Manet is DOWN, 1550254566

WormBase Manet - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:30
Categories: Bio