Thor’s Day’s News

Half the world doesn’t have Internet
— Enter Internet blimps
blimpInstead of building cell towers or digging miles of fiber optic cables to bring internet access to far flung, rural ares, SoftBank-backed startup Altaeros plans to send a blimp up to the sky. Tethered to the ground and floating at around 244 to 259 meters (800 to 850 feet), these so-called SuperTower internet blimps seem like an innovative way to extend web access to those who previously had none.
The idea might just float. Each SuperTower, according to Altaeros, can cover up to 10,000 (3,861 sq.mi) of space, roughly equivalent to the same area 20 to 30 ground-based towers could. Unlike a regular cell site, however, a SuperTower can supposedly be installed faster and at a far lower cost. Each SuperTower is also fully autonomous, making it more reliable and cost-effective than other similar aerial, wireless internet technology.

Photographer captures Trump’s “empathy cue-card”

noteAs President Donald Trump met with survivors and others impacted by the spate of mass school shootings across the US at the White House on Wednesday, he held a cue card with notes on how to appear empathetic while proposing solutions like tightening the federal background check system, raising the age of firearms purchases, having teachers store firearms, or, you know, casually employing roving squads of armed veterans to patrol schools.

But though the president managed to strike a sympathetic tone, it looks an awful lot like someone in the White House wasn’t sure that would happen and thought he needed to be reminded to say basic things to the survivors like “I hear you.

Another one bites the dust
Ford exec out for hanky panky
Ford Motor Co.’s North American President Raj Nair has been forced out over allegations of “inappropriate behavior.” The company didn’t offer many details.

26 top researchers warn on misuse of artificial intelligence
In terms of physical AI threats, the researchers looked at the increasing reliance of the physical world on automated systems. As more smart homes and self-driving cars come online, AI could be used to subvert these systems and cause catastrophic damage. Then there’s the threat of purposefully made malicious AI systems, such as autonomous weapons or micro-drone swarms.

Big Pharma using $50 billion tax windfall to buy back stock

McMaster “they” say, is on the way out of Trumplandia
Cushy landing at Pentagon sought for National Security Adviser. Supposedly.

Alabama keeping dying prisoner alive so they can execute him
Vice News
hamm“What they’re doing is a delicate balance of keeping him alive just long enough that they can be the ones who execute him, and that he doesn’t die of natural causes,”  said Bernard E. Harcourt, a Columbia Law School professor who has been representing Doyle Lee Hamm pro-bono since the early ’90s.

Rising number of EU nationals leaving UK
Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the ONS, said: “Brexit could well be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from the UK, but people’s decision to migrate is complicated and can be influenced by lots of different reasons.”

Whacked-out church holds “blessing” for AR-15s
Raw Story

About a third of Americans believe in astrology …
And other revelations in National Science Foundation graphs
Popular Science

The myth of what’s driving the opiod crisis
It is NOT physician-prescribed pain killers, psychiatrist argues.



Wednesday Wall o’ News

Pop goes the digital media bubble
Mother Jones
From the Editor:
Dot-Com-Bubble2The money math of digital media doesn’t work, and likely never will. My last job at a hybrid paper/digital news outfit was a sorry downhill tour of layoffs and job shuffling, while every few months an executive would flash a chart of our dismal prospects. Every 90 days or so there was an “all hands” meeting called to announce the latest staff cuts. With Google and Facebook sucking up 85% of all new ad revenue, news-gathering outfits are totally, royally screwed.
This piece, from Mother Jones, lays out the case…

Dem wins Kentucky state House seat …
in district Trump won by 49 points
The Hill
democrat-linda-belcher-flips-kentucky-house-seat-blueLinda Belcher, a former state legislator who lost her seat in the Trump landslide in Kentucky, reclaimed the Bullitt County district by a more than two-to-one margin, defeating her GOP opponent Rebecca Johnson 68 percent to 32 percent.

Poll: Americans don’t want self-driving cars
The Northeastern University/Gallup survey from last year and released today finds that 59 percent of respondents said they would be uncomfortable riding in a fully self-driving car on a daily basis, and 62 percent said they would be uncomfortable sharing the road with fully self-driving trucks.

YouTube star skipped cancer treatments,
claimed veganism would cure her,  but…
The Independent
On their YouTube channel, where Liz and Mari had 11,761 subscribers, they posted videos in which they promote a vegan lifestyle and faith in God – and discuss how both healed Mari’s cancer. It’s now been revealed that cancer killer her in December.

100 Florida shooting survivors protest at Tallahassee 

> Students who survived the Florida school shooting prepared to flood the Capitol Wednesday pushing to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people, vowing to make changes in the November election if they can’t persuade lawmakers to change laws before their legislative session ends.
> About 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students arrived at a Tallahassee high school to extended applause late Tuesday after a 400-mile (640-kilometer) trip on three buses. They told the 500 students and parents waiting for them that they are fighting to protect all students.

Students “lie in” in front of White House
The Hill

Florida lawmakers say down with porn, up with assault weapons

At least 7 charged with copycat threats since Florida shooting

Schools tyrant threatens to discipline teachers,
students who go on “walk out” 
Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel


Supremes to workers: Screw you
Courthouse News Service
> The U.S. Supreme Court ruled summarily Tuesday against a group of retirees who claimed their union contract entitled them to lifetime health care benefits.
> Jack Reese brought the underlying class action after CNH Industrial’s collective-bargaining agreement with its workers expired in May 2004. Joined by fellow retirees and their spouses, Reese sought a declaration that their health care benefits were vested for life, and that CNH should be enjoined from changing them.
> Though a federal judge in Michigan awarded summary judgment to CNH initially, the court reconsidered in 2015 and sided with the retirees.

Bourbon, orange juice, cheese, electoral college … weapons in a trade war?
> With overseas sales of around $1 billion a year, bourbon is just a drop in the barrel of overall U.S. exports. But it’s big business in Kentucky, home of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Likewise, cheese from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin could be on the cutting board if America’s trading partners fight back with import restrictions of their own. Orange juice from the swing state of Florida could also feel the squeeze.
> “One of the things this whole era of increasing trade friction has shown us is our trading partners are learning a lot more about our electoral college.”

Investigation finds “shocking” lack of hygiene in US meat production
The Guardian
US campaigners are calling once again for the closure of a legal loophole that allows meat with salmonella to be sold in the human supply chain, and also warn about the industry’s push to speed up production in the country’s meat plants. And UK campaigners warn that the UK could be flooded with “dirty meat” if a US trade deal is signed post-Brexit.

Newsweek publishes critical piece on its owners
after staffers threaten to quit
… looking into Newsweek Media Group’s connection to Olivet University, a Christian school founded by Korean-American pastor David Jang.
> The connections between Jang, Olivet and Newsweek Media Group, have been the source of intense speculation and several investigative reports from other outlets over the years. Though staffers would make often make jokes about working for “the church” or a “cult,” multiple current and former staffers told CNN that, though they knew five of the company’s executives were part of the church and were directly connected to Olivet University, they never felt their direct influence on their work — only a constant pressure to hit higher and higher traffic goals.
> But that changed in January with a Manhattan District Attorney raid at NMG’s office and investigators’ removal of 18 servers as part of, according to the New York Post, an investigation into the financial connections between the company and Olivet University.






News day Tuesday

Junior urged Trump to stay strong on guns … 
as they watched aftermath of school shooting.
The Daily Beast
Marian Kamensky / Austria> According to three sources with knowledge of their conversations, the president and Trump Jr. repeatedly discussed gun control over the long Presidents’ Day weekend, often as they both closely watched a TV airing footage in real-time of young Parkland students savaging the president for his inaction.
> When polled on his opinions on the matter, the first son emphatically replied that the president must not waver on his pro-gun stance, whatever the impassioned calls for reform.

For the record, guns are not allowed at Mar-a-Lago.
— Kaivan Shroff on Twitter

Mueller charges Russian oligarch Khan’s son-in-law 
Moscow Times
zwaan> The son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan has been charged with making false statements to the FBI as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
> Alex Van Der Zwaan was charged Feb. 16 in federal court in Washington related to a report he helped prepare on the trial of a Ukrainian politician, Yulia Tymoshenko. Van Der Zwaan was charged with a criminal information, which typically precedes a guilty plea.
> Van Der Zwaan, identified on his LinkedIn page as an associate in the London office of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, was questioned regarding the firm’s work in 2012 on behalf of the Ukraine Ministry of Justice.
> Van Der Zwaan is married to Eva Khan, the daughter of Russian oligarch German Khan, who last year sued the media outlet BuzzFeed for libel for publishing the “Trump Dossier.”
The Hill

Alex Van Der Zwaan appears to be a link between Rick Gates, Paul Manafort & Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was a friend of Russia. With Van Der Zwaan’s guilty plea, this could lead to further cooperation in order to help Mueller obtain more evidence on Manafort.
— Ed Krassenstein on Twitter

Oxfam probes new sex misconduct cases, now numbering 26
Oxfam revealed Tuesday it was investigating 26 new cases of sexual misconduct since the crisis erupted over its handling of a 2011 prostitution scandal in Haiti, which the British charity called a “wake-up call”.
>>> Thousands cancel donations

Assad has launched “war of extermination” on rebel stronghold.
Vice News
> Bombing men, women and children.
> Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional coordinator for Syria, said in a statement there had been an “extreme escalation” in the bombardment of the enclave, once the breadbasket of Damascus and now home to some 393,000 residents living in desperate conditions. He accused the regime of targeting innocent civilians and infrastructure, and said the humanitarian situation for civilians there was “spiralling out of control.”

Good trial for peanut allergy treatment
> An experimental treatment aimed at helping people with severe peanut allergy scored a clinical win Tuesday, putting it in line to possibly become the first drug to provide meaningful protection against accidental exposure.

UNICEF: US about equal to Sri Lanka in infant mortality
The Guardian
> The risk of dying as a newborn in the US is only slightly lower than the risk for babies in Sri Lanka and Ukraine …

Baseball announces weak pace-of-play rules; no pitch clock.

BP: Oil demand won’t peak for at least 20 years
>>> Oil “hockey pucks” a potential alternative to pipelines 

Teen sentenced to 4 years for planning Ohio school shooting
10TV Columbus
>>> School threats in Miami hit ridiculous levels
Miami Herald

Guy wants to extend life of computers–
Microsoft wants him in prison
Washington Post
Eric-Lundgren2-300x157> Prosecutors said 33-year-old Eric Lundgren ripped off Microsoft by manufacturing 28,000 counterfeit discs with the company’s Windows operating system on them. He was convicted of conspiracy and copyright infringement, which brought a 15-month prison sentence and a $50,000 fine.
> A federal appeals court has granted an emergency stay of the sentence, giving  Lundgren another chance to make his argument that the whole thing was a misunderstanding. Lundgren does not deny that he made the discs, or hoped to sell them. But he says this was no profit-making scheme. By his account, he just wanted to make it easier to extend the usefulness of secondhand computers — keeping more of them out of the trash.

Supreme Clarence Thomas all pissed off about high court gun ruling.
Courthouse News Service
“The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this court’s constitutional orphan,” Thomas wrote. “And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message.”
>>> NY Magazine: Impeach Justice Thomas
For lying, writes former NYT exec Jill Abramson, in total waste of 4,200 words. Ain’t gonna happen.

New Pennsylvania map gives Dems a boost
Most affected: Philly suburbs.
“This is pretty close to a Democratic wet dream,” Christopher Nicholas, a Republican consultant.
>>> Below: the gerrymandered district before it was redrawn


Senate considers trashing bank rules put in place after 2008 meltdown
> On one side are moderate Democrats such as Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester from Republican-leaning states who support the legislation because they say it will provide relief to small and regional banks and boost rural economies.
> On the other are progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and their activist allies, who argue that the bill will put consumers at risk. They’re working to undercut the party’s centrists before the vote, with several of the moderates — as well as Brown — facing tough reelection campaigns this year.

Hyperloop digging to begin in DC
The Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation issued a permit to Elon Musk’s company to start digging underneath an abandoned parking lot near the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It’s still not clear how extensive the digging will be or what types of work the permit will allow.


Sheriff planned to raise campaign cash in gun raffle.
Then Florida shooting happened.
Charlotte Observer
> Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael has canceled a re-election campaign raffle of firearms, including assault rifles of the kind used to kill 17 people Wednesday at a Florida school, that was to be held Saturday.
> “As the elected Sheriff, I fully understand the difference between responsible gun ownership and senseless gun violence and holding a gun raffle would not serve to advance the values close to my heart or the principles of my Office.”
> Which he apparently didn’t realize in November, when he first posted the raffle.

Michigan school boosters cancel gun raffle 
Detroit Free Press

Maryland candidate’s “gun bingo” will go on as scheduled, with AR-15 as prize
The Baltimore Sun
“I want to first convey my heartfelt sorrow for the victims and families of the Florida shooting. As a Christian and father of four, my thoughts and prays are for the families”.

gunraffleguy300 winners in Fargo gun raffle
(In case you need that extra Glock in the garage)

Ohio pol holds gun raffle 3 days after Florida massacre 
Cleveland19 News

Georgia Ready Mix Concrete Association feels need to raffle off guns
Because a well-armed concrete pourer, being necessary to the security of a free state…

Ohio fraternal order of Eagles raffling off lethal weapons because… 

Jasper, Indiana gun raffle every Tuesday! But wait, there’s more!

Yuma Catholic school proud of its 175-gun raffle. 
Sadly, this is not a joke.

In memory of sheriff’s deputy, a gun raffled each week

There are many more gun raffles in America the Beautiful, but by now the point has been made. In other news …

Conservatives urge Trump to grant pardons in Russia probe


trumpflynnpix> After months of criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, President Donald Trump’s supporters are issuing increasingly bold calls for presidential pardons to limit the investigation’s impact.
> “I think he should be pardoning anybody who’s been indicted and make it clear that anybody else who gets indicted would be pardoned immediately,” said Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and senior vice president at the conservative Center for Security Policy.
> The pleas for mercy mainly extend to the four former Trump aides who have already been swept up in the Russia probe: former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. But they don’t stop there.
“It’s kind of cruel what’s going on right now and the president should put these defendants out of their misery,” said Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist. “I think he should pardon everybody — and pardon himself.”

Lawmaker who claimed “MeToo” accused of sex games 
Sacramento Bee
Garcia.jpeg> A former employee of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia filed a complaint with the state on Saturday, seeking to sue the Bell Gardens Democrat for allegedly firing him after he refused to play “spin the bottle” with her.
> In the complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which was posted online Sunday by his lawyer, J. David Kernick of San Diego wrote that during his time as a field representative in 2014, Garcia was “very disparaging to the staff and others, used vulgar language, discussed topics inappropriate for the workplace and showed herself to be very vindictive in nature.”
> It is the second accusation of sexual misconduct against Garcia, who is currently on a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence while the Assembly investigates claims that she drunkenly groped a former legislative staff member. In addition, a lawyer on Wednesday released a list of other allegations from four former employees in Garcia’s office who said they wished to remain anonymous.

Feed inmates? Nah. Sheriffs would rather pocket the cash

W. Virginia teachers, employees plan statewide walkout over pay, health care
Charleston Gazette-Mail

Dude who sold Marlins claims no profit, nothing to share with Miami 
Miami Herald.
Sale price: $1,200 million
The value of the team in 2008 was $250 million.

Cash disappearing in Sweden, and some are worried 
swedish> Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; many shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments. But there’s a downside, since many people, in particular the elderly, don’t have access to the digital society.
> “One may get into a negative spiral which can threaten the cash infrastructure,” investigator Mats Dillen said. “It’s those types of issues we are looking more closely at.”


Sunday stroll thru the news

You’ve had it with Trump/Russia, right?
Here’s the other stuff….

Missouri third-graders selling raffle tickets for AR-15 assault rifle
Kansas City Star

ar-15Third-graders in a Missouri community are continuing to sell raffle tickets for an AR-15 to benefit their traveling baseball team after the same type of rifle was used to slaughter and injure dozens at a Florida school.

Levi Patterson, the coach of a 9-and-under baseball team in Neosho, Mo., told The Star the idea was conceived before the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

A father of one of the players — who co-founded Black Rain Ordnance Inc., a weapons purveyor in Neosho — offered the weapon for the raffle.

Patterson said by phone Saturday that he considered finding a different raffle item after Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but ultimately decided to “turn it into a positive thing” after “getting the hate.”

…. Lee Woodward, the principal of South Elementary School in Neosho, announced the raffle on her Facebook page and encouraged purchases to support the “9u Neosho baseball players, coaches, and parents.” The post was made hours after the Florida shooting.

Almost nobody’s enforcing the pathetic minimum wage laws we have
minwage.jpgThat’s the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators. Given the widespread nature of wage theft and the dearth of resources to combat it, most cases go unreported. Thus, an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.

 But even those workers who are able to brave the system and win — to get states to order their bosses to pay them what they’re owed — confront a further barrier: Fully 41 percent of the wages that employers are ordered to pay back to their workers aren’t recovered, according to a POLITICO survey of 15 states.

on the “cruise from hell.”
The Daily Mail

cruisefightPeople vacationing on a Carnival cruise ship this week in the South Pacific had their trip turned upside down thanks to a series of violent brawls that seemed to transform the ship from a paradise into a fight club.

The Carnival Legend was forced to escort several guests off the ship and place them on a smaller boat ahead of the boat’s docking in Australia on Saturday.

Several fights broke out over the 10-day cruise, including two captured on camera showing guests throwing punches on a pool deck and a ship nightclub.

Big donor says no more cash for GOP until it modifies gun stance
Raw Story
“For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Ambassador Al Hoffman told The New York Times. “It’s the end of the road for me.”

Hoffman once served as the finance chair of the Republican National Committee.

“I will not write another check unless they all support a ban on assault weapons,” he promised. “Enough is enough!”

Kangaroo breaks hunter’s jaw
ABC Australia

rooJoshua Hayden had his jaw “shattered” by a kangaroo while he was out hunting the animals for food on Tuesday night. And the 19-year-old thinks kangaroos are getting meaner.

Hayden and his brother, who say they regularly hunt kangaroos for food, came across three of them while out hunting in a paddock near Kellerberrin, 202km east of Perth. One of the kangaroos vanished out of sight, he told the ABC, so he took aim at the remaining two.

He said one of the kangaroos disappeared and, as he stuck his body out of the window to have a shot at the other two, the kangaroo launched itself at the moving car.

One last US flight as “queen of the skies” 747 goes to the boneyard
CNN Travel
No US-based airline will fly the 747 now.

While the sheer size of the 747 is its most famous attribute, that wasn’t primarily why the 747 that attracted many of the world’s airlines. Many bought jumbo 747s because of their incredible endurance.

The iconic jumbo jet has been fading since the late 1990s. The global 747 fleet peaked at more than 1,000 in 1998. That’s when smaller twin-engine jets like the Boeing 777 really began filling fleets. It could fly just as far, and airlines didn’t have to worry about filling all the seats.

gibson-les-paul-studio-2016-hp-alpine-white-gold-4Gibson,  maker of famed Les Paul,
faces bankruptcy after
116 years of guitar-making

Nashville Post
the prospects for an orderly refinancing — Gibson has hired investment bank Jefferies to help with that — look slim, observers say. And the alternative scenarios look likely to sideline longtime owner and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

“At the end of the day, someone will take control of this company — be it the debtors or the bondholders,” Debtwire reporter Reshmi Basu told the Post this week. “This has been a long time coming.”



Feb. 17: No dogs, no ponies

Laser scanning reveals ‘lost’ ancient Mexican city ‘had as many buildings as Manhattan’

The Guardian

Archaeology might evoke thoughts of intrepid explorers and painstaking digging, but in fact researchers say it is a high-tech laser mapping technique that is rewriting the textbooks at an unprecedented rate.

The approach, known as light detection and ranging scanning (lidar) involves directing a rapid succession of laser pulses at the ground from an aircraft.

The time and wavelength of the pulses reflected by the surface are combined with GPS and other data to produce a precise, three-dimensional map of the landscape. Crucially, the technique probes beneath foliage – useful for areas where vegetation is dense.

Researchers have used the technique to reveal the full extent of an ancient city in western Mexico, about a half an hour’s drive from Morelia, built by rivals to the Aztecs.

“To think that this massive city existed in the heartland of Mexico for all this time and nobody knew it was there is kind of amazing,” said Chris Fisher, an archaeologist at Colorado State University who is presenting the latest findings from the study at the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, this week.

One of Angamuco’s ‘neighbourhoods’, revealed using light detection and ranging scanning. Photograph: C Fisher

How white nationalists fooled the media about Florida shooter Politico

Following misrepresentations by a white nationalist leader and coordinated efforts by internet trolls, numerous researchers and media outlets spread a seemingly false claim that the man charged with killing more than a dozen people at a Florida high school belonged to an extremist group.

Law enforcement agencies say they have no evidence so far to support this claim, and the rumor appears to have been perpetrated by white nationalist trolls themselves.

Joan Donovan, a researcher who tracks online misinformation campaigns for Data & Society, a think tank in New York City, called this an instance of “source hacking,” a tactic by which fringe groups coordinate to feed false information to authoritative sources such as ADL researchers. These experts, in turn, disseminate the information to reporters, and it reaches thousands of readers before it can be debunked.

“It’s a very effective way of getting duped,” Donovan said.

Friday sleaze report


mcdougallPlayboy model Karen McDougall tells of her affair with Trump
This story is one long compilation of sleazy people doing sleazy things in the disgusting underbelly of American celebrity. You may feel the urge to shower and brush your teeth after reading it.
McDougall ain’t too bright. On her first date with Trump she reports being “into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man!”
Intelligence and charm?
The story descends from there into the bowels of the National Enquirer and its efforts to help Trump capture the White House, by purchasing and suppressing McDougall’s story.
The New Yorker

EPA top dude Pruitt flies first class
to protect himself from “profanities” of critics 

pruitt“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the [security] detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”
— Scott Pruitt

Florida running out of sand?
Getting enough of it, for the right price and in time for the peak tourist season, has become much harder after a violent storm year that brought Irma, the most powerful hurricane to hit the state in over a decade, and saddled Florida with more than $50 billion in damage.
Costs of so-called beach renourishments are a fraction of the total, measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, but the effort is crucial for Florida’s $67 billion tourism industry. And while sand needs are surging, there is not enough to go around.
Condemned homes along the heavily eroded shoreline at Vilando Beach in Florida

US Admiral: Prepare for war with China.
The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.
Rules-based in this case means continued US dominance, I guess.