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A remastered version of Square Enix’s The Last Remnant RPG hits App Store

iDownloadBlog - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:57

Square Enix's popular role-playing game has received a surprise release on iOS in form of a remastered version with updated graphics, controls and more.
Categories: Geek

Defense Department watchdog will audit $400 million border wall contract to Trump-favored company

Daily Kos - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:50

The Defense Department’s inspector general will review the $400 million border wall contract awarded to a North Dakota company Donald Trump had personally promoted. The move comes after Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, called for an investigation because the company’s “proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and due to “concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence.”

”In your letter, you raised concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE's contracting decision, and questioned whether the bid submitted by Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. met solicitation standards. You also questioned whether USACE made the award in accordance with federal procurement law and regulations,” the principal deputy inspector general wrote in a letter to Thompson, NBC News reports. “In response to your request, we have decided to initiate an audit of the solicitation and award of this contract.”

The company, Fisher Sand & Gravel, has been promoted by North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer and has built a privately funded border wall on private property. Fisher promised to deliver its wall segments at a much lower cost than other companies, but it was also proposing a concrete wall, a design that border agents have pushed back against because they want to be able to see through any border barrier. 

Trump has been pushing for Fisher to get border contracts since 2018, and at one point, a person “familiar with the conversations” told NBC News, “We had to explain the rules of federal procurement. You can't just pick a winner.” But after more than a year of pressure from Trump, it appears he did manage to just pick a winner—which is why the inspector general needs to look into whether Trump exerted inappropriate influence on the Army Corps of Engineers. Once again, Trump’s wish to be a dictator is exposing just how fragile American democratic norms and institutions are.

Categories: Politics

Apple Watch will soon be a heart rate tracking option for Orangetheory Fitness clubs

9to5Mac - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:50

Apple Watch users will soon be able to share heart rate data with Orangetheory Fitness machines without using a separate dedicated heart rate monitor. The popular fitness club unveiled its new OTbeat Link accessory today for using the Apple Watch to track heart rate data during workouts.


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Categories: Geek

House Judiciary Committee debates articles of impeachment

Daily Kos - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:49

The House Judiciary Committee is currently debating the articles of impeachment brought against Donald Trump … though from the coverage it’s getting in the media, it might as well not be happening. Though networks could be bothered to pause briefly on Wednesday morning for the actual announcement of the articles, that appears to be the extent to which they’re willing to pull themselves away from celebrity gossip and holiday shopping tips.

The hearing opened this morning with a full reading of the nine-page resolution. Following the reading, the committee moved to a series of statements, using a—still bizarre after all this time—series of representatives moving to “strike the last word” as an excuse to stand up and talk about absolutely anything except striking the last word.

So far, Republicans have moved to strike the entire first article, after Jim Jordan reduced every witness statement to hearsay. And Debbie Lesko engaged in some prolonged screaming about the need for a “minority hearing” day in which they could bring in those witnesses they want—such as the whistleblower, Hunter Biden, and the Loch Ness monster, with a lot of claims about how corrupt Democrats are. Following that, Democrat Joe Neguse did an admirable job of both defending the process of the impeachment and comparing it favorably to past impeachment actions.

This is genuinely the last opportunity for Judiciary Committee members to have a say on the articles, to offer proposed changes, and eventually to cast their roll call vote to move these articles to the floor of the House. 

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Categories: Politics

Woolnut’s latest MacBook Pro leather Folio offers more protection via zip

9to5Mac - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:49

I reviewed Woolnut’s previous-generation MacBook Pro Sleeve last year and concluded that it was at least as good as the official Apple one – better in a couple of ways – for half the price. The latest version, the MacBook Pro leather Folio, improves on the protection via a two-sided zip closure but costs more…


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Categories: Geek

Iran Banks Burned, Then Customer Accounts Were Exposed Online

Slashdot - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:46
The details of millions of Iranian bank cards were published online after antigovernment protests last month. Experts suspect a state-sponsored cyberattack. From a report: After demonstrators in Iran set fire to hundreds of bank branches last month in antigovernment protests, the authorities dealt with another less visible banking threat that is only now coming to fuller light: a security breach that exposed the information of millions of Iranian customer accounts. As of Tuesday, details of 15 million bank debit cards in Iran had been published on social media in the aftermath of the protests, unnerving customers and forcing the government to acknowledge a problem. The exposure represented the most serious banking security breach in Iran, according to Iranian media and a law firm representing some of the victims. The breach, which targeted customers of Iran's three largest banks, was likely to further rattle an economy already reeling from the effects of American sanctions and came as Iran's leadership was grappling with deep-seated anger over its deadly crackdown on the protests. The number of affected accounts represents close to a fifth of the country's population. "This is the largest financial scam in Iran's history," reported Aftab News, a conservative media outlet. "Millions of Iranians are worried to find their names among the list of hacked accounts."

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Categories: Geek

Vote Actually: British Election Day Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:28

Photo of actor Hugh GrantImage from Variety, 2018 — photo credit: Brad Trent

Who gets to visit the Queen on Friday to ask permission to form a government? If Hugh Grant has anything to say about it, it won’t be Boris Johnson. From The New Yorker:

The actor, who is best known for rendering exquisitely the many stages of a diffident British person in the process of making up his mind and then, fuck it all, following his heart, has decided to get involved. Grant is fifty-nine years old and turning silver. Since the election was called, in late October, Grant has been lively on social media—he’s a mite over half a million Twitter followers—tweeting about the National Health Service and describing Johnson as a “weak little Narcissus.” For the past few weeks, Grant has lent his support to campaigns in a half-dozen tight parliamentary races, hoping to prevent the Conservatives from winning a majority and finally delivering Brexit…

It hasn’t taken long—at all—for Grant’s presence to have an influence on the election. Politicians seem to have decided that a sprinkle of abashed romance wouldn’t hurt the British electorate. A few weeks ago, Rosena Allin-Khan, a Labour M.P. running in Tooting, in South London, made an election video in the style of “Love Actually,” in which she knocked on a voter’s door and enacted a version of the scene in which Andrew Lincoln, playing the lovelorn friend of Keira Knightley, silently declares his feelings to her on a series of large, hand-drawn signs.

On Monday, with the election three days off, the fourth wall—or maybe the last supporting wall—of British politics collapsed, when Johnson and the Conservatives decided to rip off the idea for their final election broadcast. You can watch the scene, if you have the strength, here… On Tuesday morning, Grant was asked about the ad on “Today,” the BBC’s flagship political show. He praised the production values but noted that one of the more affecting cards from “Love Actually” was missing from Johnson’s hands. It reads “Because at Christmas you tell the truth.”

My attention, consternation and horror have been focused closer to home as the American version of a ridiculously thatched, lying shit-goblin and his mendacious, moronic, shrieking enablers swing hammers and pickaxes at democracy. The few snippets of British election news and commentary I’ve seen recently all suggest the Tories have this in the bag.

Here’s hoping the pollsters and pundits are wrong. Even though my ancestors fled the British Isles centuries ago, I feel like I have a personal stake. The Brexit vote was a precursor to the Trump catastrophuck, and it was driven by the same malign international, domestic and cyber forces.

May this day herald the retreat of Putin-adjacent xenophobia, plutocracy and thuggery in the Old Country, to be followed by its complete and utter obliteration next year in the former colonies. Open thread!




The post Vote Actually: British Election Day Open Thread appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Scarborough Summarizes GOP Trump Defense: 'Loud Noises! That's All They Have'

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:26

Joe Scarborough chided Jim Jordan for being one of the people "turning their heads" while someone was "doing bad things to wrestlers he shouldn't have done." He talked about the tactic with former Republican staffer Kurt Bardella, who wrote an op-ed today about the yelling strategy.

"It is fascinating, though, that all the yelling and screaming, they never get to the fact, do they, Kurt -- they never get to the fact that they didn't even in a more extreme way against Barack Obama. And you were there. You were on the oversight committee. You know what the oversight committee did to Barack Obama," Scarborough said.

"Everything that they're acting shocked and saying that the government has been weaponized, that's number one. Number two, they never really addressed the underlying issue, and that is, if Donald Trump as commander in chief used his position to extort support from a foreign country to interfere in an election, and held up about $400 million worth of military defense weapons that Congress had already approved that was supposed to stop whom? It was to stop Vladimir Putin from invading the country.

"You will love this, Willie. The House Republicans have adopted the Brick Tamlin (Anchorman) 'loud noises' defense. Loud noises! That's all they have. They're making loud noises."

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Categories: Politics

A new retail store is opening this Saturday in Japan’s Kawasaki

iDownloadBlog - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:26

Apple is scheduled to open a brand new brick-and-mortar store in Kawasaki, Japan this coming Saturday, December 14, marking its tenth store opening in the 127 million people country.... Read the rest of this post here "A new retail store...
Categories: Geek

New memo claims Trump didn't delay Ukraine funds: It was the OMB all along

Daily Kos - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:25

Donald Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine because he doesn’t like foreign aid. Donald Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine because he didn’t think Europe was sending it enough. Donald Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine because he was concerned about corruption.

Considering the amount of testimony to the fact that Trump withheld military assistance from Ukraine because he was extorting that nation to announce “investigations” into a pair of conspiracy theories designed to give him a personal political advantage, the litany of excuses—most of which seem to have appeared ex nihilo as Republicans representatives scrambled to provide some reason, any reason, for Trump’s action—has been a bit hilarious. Especially considering that the universal statement from everyone involved in the House, Senate, State Department, Defense Department, and Office of Management and Budget was that when they tried to get an answer on why Trump was holding back the support, all they got was silence.

Throughout the House impeachment hearings, Republicans asserted one or all of the theories above, even though doing so meant drawing a ludicrous set of inferences. Now, as it turns out, they needn’t have bothered.

Because the real reason Donald Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine was because … he didn’t. He never withheld it at all. Instead the delay on the assistance to Ukraine was entirely the idea of the Office of Management and Budget. As The Washington Post reports a new legal memo maintains that the whole thing was just a “programmatic delay” generated when leadership at the OMB took it on themselves to conduct a double-check to make sure the assistance was in compliance with its own rules. And they’re just getting around to explaining that … now.

Sorry about that whole impeachment thing, nation. But now that it’s clear this was all done inside the OMB, Democrats can pack away the whole process and Republicans can stop trying to think of excuses. 

Categories: Politics

Federal workers are about to get a major holiday gift: 12 weeks of paid parental leave

Daily Kos - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:12

In a 377-48 vote, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, on Wednesday evening. In addition to authorizing $738 billion in spending, the bill includes a genuine win for more than 2 million federal workers. It provides paid family leave to federal workers for the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, starting Oct. 1, 2020.

That's 12 weeks of paid leave to more than 2 million people federal workers, or at least the ones who are growing their families. House Democrats tried to get all family and medical leave included in the package, so that workers could also get paid time off to deal with their own or a family member's medical needs. "It's really unfortunate the comprehensive leave was cut out,” Jessica Mason, a senior policy analyst for the National Partnership for Women and Families, told The Washington Post. Nevertheless, she called it "an exciting signal on both sides of the aisle there is finally an appetite to tackle the paid-leave crisis in this country."

In fact, Trump is all for it and will sign the bill after it passes the Senate sometime next week. He probably bought into because the House agreed he could have his Space Force, which is possibly the least harmful crazy idea Trump has come up with thus far.

Not everyone is happy with it. Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican tool from Wisconsin, took the most parochial view possible, saying he "doesn't think workers in Oshkosh will be happy they are subsidizing federal workers even more." He also said, "I think it’s unfortunate. I think it sets a very dangerous precedent." Johnson calls himself "pro-life," but believes giving the parents he would force to have children the benefit of three months to start raising them is a step too far.

Meanwhile, there's an Ivanka Trump-led "summit" this week at the White House to discuss her and Sen. Marco Rubio's hare-brained scheme to create "paid family leave" that consists of workers stealing from their future selves by taking their Social Security payments to pay for leave. By definition, this is not "paid family leave." It's theft. There are other modest leave programs that will be discussed at the summit, apparently, some of which are bipartisan. According to the Post, though, Democrats aren't invited to Ivanka's party.

Categories: Politics

House Judiciary Debates, Votes On Articles Of Impeachment

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:10

Expect more Republican yelling and attempts to delay the vote with procedural objections.

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Categories: Politics

Two of China's Largest Tech Firms Are Uniting To Create a New 'Domestic OS'

Slashdot - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:07
The two biggest OS (operating system) makers in China announced plans last week to unite and jointly build a new "domestic operating system." From a report: The two companies are China Standard Software (CS2C) and Tianjin Kylin Information (TKC), two of China's largest software firms, with known ties to the Beijing government. Both companies are known on the local Chinese OS market. CS2C created "China's Windows XP clone," known as the NeoKylin OS, and TKC is the current steward of Kylin, China's first-ever homegrown operating system. CS2C and TKC plan to set up a new company in which they'll become investors, and through which the new joint OS will be developed. The new company will handle the new operating system's development, technological decisions, marketing, branding, financials, and sales. The current Kylin and NeoKylin operating systems will serve as a base for the new OS, the two said.

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Categories: Geek

Anti-Semitic Attack In Jersey City Apparently A Product Of Black-nationalist Sect's Hatemongering

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:52

When the news first crossed the wires Tuesday about a lethal attack on a Jewish market in Jersey City, N.J., in which six people, including a police officer and the two gunmen, died, speculation ran rampant on social media that it might be another act of far-right terrorism inspired by anti-Semitism.

After the smoke had cleared, that concern had largely been confirmed, but with a complicated twist: at least one of the perpetrators turned out to be an apparent follower of the black-nationalist Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which is indeed deeply anti-Semitic, and which has inspired an ongoing litany of violent acts over the past decade and longer.

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Categories: Politics

Jimmy Kimmel Thinks Lindsey Graham Is Whistleblower AND Anonymous!

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:52

Jimmy Kimmel talked about Trump's crazy report that's supposed to rebut the Inspector General's report.

That's where Senator Lindsey Graham comes into play. He demanded to know why investigations didn't tell Trump his campaign was being investigated. "Maybe because his campaign was being investigated? Isn't that how it usually works?" he said.

"But then Graham did some role play to diminish the report, reciting saucy text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok."

Graham "took his performance to heights previously unseen in the Senate," Kimmel said. "Has anyone ever mentioned a 'golden shower' in Congress before? I don't think so."

He then played clips of Graham attacking Trump. Ah, good times!

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Categories: Politics

Devin Nunes Claims Calls With Parnas Were Really With Parnas' Wife

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:51

Rep. Devin Nunes tried to explain away the embarrassing phone records showing several calls with indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas by claiming the call or calls were with Parnas’ wife. Fox host Maria Bartiromo didn’t question a word.

Nunes: "I wasn't in Vienna" and "I never met with Shokin"

Nunes visited Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures show again on Sunday, this time to try to explain away embarrassing phone call records showing calls between himself and indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. Naturally, Bartiromo ate up every word, no matter how dubious.

Since his chat with Bartiromo the week before, Nunes has added yet another lawsuit to a portfolio that includes suits against two Twitter parody accounts. This time, the target is CNN for reporting that Parnas’ lawyer alleges Nunes met with Ukraine’s former prosecutor Viktor Shokin in Vienna last year.

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Categories: Politics

Senate likely to hold final impeachment vote rather than risk 'recriminations' of dismissal vote

Daily Kos - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:49

If, as expected, the House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have a choice. House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense lawyer will give opening arguments and then ”It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial or it could decide—and again, 51 members could make that decision—that they've heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. McConnell went on to say that “Those are the options. No decisions have been made yet,” but two Republican senators say they believe that McConnell will call witnesses and ultimately move to acquit rather than simply trying to make the issue go away by dismissing it immediately.

According to Sen. John Cornyn, it “would make more sense” to vote on the articles of impeachment themselves, with the 67-vote threshold for conviction and removal, rather than trying to dismiss, which could be blocked by 50 votes (since the vice president doesn’t get a tie-breaking vote and a tie would fail). There’s a risk to trying to “decide this on a 51-vote threshold, with the potential tie and all the recriminations that would flow from that,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican senator told CNN—anonymously, for some reason—the same thing about McConnell’s plans, that he would go for the vote that was more or less a sure thing rather than trying to make it go away more quickly at risk of failure.

The House is on track to put impeachment in the Senate’s lap, with the Judiciary Committee marking up the articles of impeachment on Thursday and a full House vote possible next week. The Senate likely wouldn’t hold its trial until after Christmas.

Categories: Politics

AAPL drops premarket as Credit Suisse analyst claims China iPhone shipments fell >35% last month

9to5Mac - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:33

This week, a few different financial analysts are reporting pessimism towards Apple iPhone 11 shipments. Rosenblatt reported that Apple is reducing production by about 25%.

Today, Credit Suisse analyst Matt Cabral said that shipments of iPhone in China fell more than 35% in November, compared to the same month in 2018. Apple infamously suffered a mass slowdown in China iPhone demand for the holiday quarter in 2018, so a fall compared to that reduced level is possibly significant.


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Categories: Geek

New Daily Kos/Civiqs poll: Most Americans think Trump committed impeachable offenses

Daily Kos - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:20

The best antidote to hot takes is hard data, and the December Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is here with your cure. This month’s survey of 1,411 registered voters was conducted online from Dec. 7-11 and reveals that most Americans believe Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses while in office.

Based on what they know, 53% of Americans say that Trump’s conduct qualifies as impeachable. Additionally, if the 2020 presidential election were held today, Trump would lose to a generic Democrat 50-44%.

Other noteworthy findings in this month’s poll include:

  • The majority of Americans (54%) believe things have gotten worse for the country over the past year.
  • 54% of Americans also disapprove of Trump’s job performance as president.
  • Just 30% of Americans unwaveringly support Trump, while 48% oppose Trump no matter what.
  • Despite Trump’s high disapproval rating and the fact that just 44% of Americans want Trump reelected, 53% expect Trump to win reelection.

Additional issues surveyed include support for impeachment, the importance of the congressional inquiry, and Fox News and MSNBC viewership.

December’s numbers bring more bad news for the Trump administration as most Americans not only believe that Trump has committed impeachable offenses but also would vote for a generic Democratic presidential candidate over him.

This month’s survey also reinforces the fact that frequent Fox News viewers are deeply disconnected from mainstream Americans. While 54% of all Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance as president, a whopping 93% of faithful Fox viewers approve. And while most Americans believe Trump has committed impeachable offenses (53%), the vast majority of frequent Fox viewers think he has not (95%).

Civiqs is a survey research firm that conducts scientific public opinion polls on the internet through its nationally representative online survey panel. Results of Civiqs’ daily tracking polls can be found online at civiqs.com.

Categories: Politics

Apple’s $200M investment in Japan Display reassures, attracts $830M one

9to5Mac - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:19

Apple’s agreement to put $200M into the bailout of supplier Japan Display has reassured other investors, and resulted in a new $830 investment from an asset manager, helping the company’s move into making OLED screens for the Apple Watch…


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Categories: Geek