Tue. Jan. 23.

NY Times top 5 stories:
> Gov’t shutdown ends
> Dems react to shutdown talks
> Will tax cuts mean pay raises?
> Trump’s new tariffs
> Turkey attacks Kurds

Here are our top five:

The first of many?
Motorcyclist sues after being hit by self-driving car
> In what may be the first lawsuit of its kind, Oscar Willhelm Nilsson claims in a federal complaint against General Motors that the self-driving Chevrolet Bolt changed lanes abruptly on Dec. 7, 2017, on Oak Street in San Francisco, knocking him off his motorcycle and injuring him.

Published in journal Brain
Athletes with no concussion history still suffer brain damage

Millions paid in secret settlements to keep bad cops on the street
Asbury Park Press
> New Jersey governments across the state, from the smallest towns to some of the largest cities, have spent more than $42 million this decade to cover-up deaths, physical abuses and sexual misconduct at the hands of bad cops.
> The abuse of police power has left a staggering toll: at least 19 dead; 131 injured; 7 sexual misconducts, plus dozens of other offenses ranging from false arrest to harassment, a two-year investigation by the Asbury Park Press found.

“Robot” finds potential malaria-fighting substance in toothpaste
The Independent
‘Its ability to target two points in the malaria parasite’s life cycle means the parasite will find it difficult to evolve resistance’, says researcher.

Fishermen will have to follow
Lobsters hate warm water and are moving farther offshore
>> Right whale’s defenders take on lobster fisheries
Courthouse News Serviceamericanlobs

Beyond the top five:

US imposes “America first” tariffs BBC
> The US has approved controversial tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels.
> But China and South Korea, whose manufacturers will be most heavily affected, criticised the move.
> US officials said more trade enforcement actions would follow.

Trump attacks CNN even AFTER lunatic makes death threats to the network
Raw Story
“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” the caller said. “I am on my way right now to gun the fucking CNN cast down …. I am coming to kill you.”

Immigration cops board bus, demand citizenship papers of all
Miami Herald
But what might appear to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, has been common practice for years.

“Less harmful than vodka”
Russian presidential candidate: Legalize pot
Moscow Times

FBI boss threatened to quit under pressure from Sessions, Trump Politicus USA

Russian politician, suspected in NRA thing, escaped Spanish arrest
Spanish authorities were poised to arrest Alexander Torshin in a money-laundering case in 2013 when he mysteriously canceled his trip to Spain.

3 USA Gymnastics board members resign in wake of doctor sex thing
Three key board members at USA Gymnastics have resigned, the organization said Monday. The moves indicate continued tumult at the sport’s governing body as the sentencing hearing continues for former team doctor Larry Nassar, who has admitted to the sexual assault of minors under his care.

Illegal alien Uber driver charged in four California rapes AP
> A Mexican man living in the U.S. illegally used his job as an Uber driver to target intoxicated young women and was charged Monday with raping, assaulting and robbing four victims, California prosecutors said.
> Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez drove women to their homes, assaulted them, and stole property including cellphones, computers and jewelry, officials said. He collected his fare payments through the smartphone app Venmo to disguise his identity and his Uber records.

Montana to enforce net neutrality in state contracts
Billings Gazette

Vermont officially embraces marijuana
Fox Boston

Family of man killed in “swatting” sues city
Wichita Eagle

Monday Jan. 22

No hysterical news about the “government shutdown.” No celebrities, sports figures, self-promoters or spin doctors. Here’s the good stuff. 

Pentagon confirms it
Russia has “doomsday” nuclear torpedo,
targeted at US coast

Popular Mechanics
…  a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon. By way of comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons … designed to attack coastal areas, destroying cities, naval bases, and ports. The mega-bomb would also generate an artificial tsunami that would surge inland, spreading radioactive contamination with the advancing water. … warhead is “salted” with the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years.

Richest 1% snapped up 80% of wealth in 2017
> More than 80 per cent of the all the wealth generated globally last year flowed into the coffers of the richest one per cent of the population, a new Oxfam report has revealed.
> “excessive corporate influence on policy-making, erosion of workers’ rights and relentless drive to minimise costs in order to maximise returns to investors all contribute to a widening gap between the super-rich and the rest”

kochcartoonWhat a coincidence!
GOP passes tax plan
Koch donates $500,000 to Ryan.
The Hill
Charles Koch made the donation 13 days after the plan was passed, which lowers the corporate tax rate and cuts estate taxes.

The new awful
Mexico records 29,000 murders
The Guardian

Public backs legal status for “dreamers”
But doesn’t want border wall
Pew Research

China’s gene editing … to hell with the rules

HANGZHOU, China—In a hospital west of Shanghai, Wu Shixiu since March has been trying to treat cancer patients using a promising new gene-editing tool.

U.S. scientists helped devise the tool, known as Crispr-Cas9, which has captured global attention since a 2012 report said it can be used to edit DNA. Doctors haven’t been allowed to use it in human trials in America. That isn’t the case for Dr. Wu and others in China.

In a quirk of the globalized technology arena, Dr. Wu can forge ahead with the tool because he faces few regulatory hurdles to testing it on humans.


In Washington town, almost certain disaster, but when?
NY Times
The fissure was first spotted in October on Rattlesnake Ridge in south central Washington State, overlooking Interstate 82 and the Yakima River. Since then, a 20-acre chunk of mountainside — roughly four million cubic yards of rock, enough to fill 25 football stadiums to the top of the bleachers, eight stories up — has been sliding downhill. Geologists can measure its current speed — about two and a half inches a day — but they cannot say for certain when, or if, it might accelerate into a catastrophe. And they are powerless to stop it.

irishimmJesus! We’re white and speak English!
Boston’s Irish alarmed
as immigration sweep
targets them

Ireland estimates as many as 50,000 unauthorized Irish are living in the shadows in America.
“It makes everyday life more difficult. For a simple traffic stop they can be deported.”

How FDA plan to kill cigarettes may save Big Tobacco
Tech Times
> The second component of the FDA’s plan is what may save the Big Tobacco companies from going under, as exhibited by a new product from Philip Morris International.
> The product, named iQOS, is a device that heats Marlboro-branded tobacco without actually burning it. According to Philip Morris, this will reduce the exposure of people to tar and other toxins that are created by normal cigarettes.



sleeping-politicians-SLIDER copy


7 charged in opiod scheme that killed hundreds of Americans Time
> Prosecutors say defendants ran the Urgent Care & Surgery Center Enterprise, which distributed enough oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine to generate clinic revenue of at least $21 million.
> About 700 center patients are dead, prosecutors said. A Justice Department news release says a “significant percentage of those deaths, directly or indirectly, were the result of overdosing on narcotics” prescribed by the center. The scheme involved illegal kickbacks and money laundering, prosecutors said.

“… I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”
“And I have a message for cadet bone spurs: If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger.”
— Sen. Tammy Duckworth
(via The Hill)

Jamaica tourists warned of gang wars, told to stay in their compounds Newsweek

Marijuana money flows toward GOP USA Today
… survey found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from the cannabis industry into campaign finance accounts of both lawmakers and political action committees, with emphasis this year on Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses.

China: US gov’t shutdown exposes “chaotic” system with “chronic flaws” Newsweek
“… what’s happening in the United States today will make more people worldwide reflect on the viability and legitimacy of such a chaotic political system.”

N. Carolina ordered to use Stanford prof’s redistricting map
Courthouse News Service
less than 24 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a ruling in a separate North Carolina gerrymander case in which a different three-judge panel ruled the state’s 13 congressional districts are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
>>>Previous story: 
Supreme Court says OK to N. Carolina gerrymandering The Daily Beast

Amazon to open “no checkout line” store to public  USA Today
The convenience store and its proprietary technology, made up of hundreds of cameras and sensors and requiring a new Amazon app, dangled the promise of solving a bedrock complaint for shoppers — long checkout lines.

Looks like a giant version of the typical disgusting company lunchroom. 

Capetown, running out of water, verges on chaos CBS News
> Surrounded by beautiful stretches of ocean, it’s hard to believe Cape Town could become the first major city in the world to run out of water. Ominously named “day zero,” April 21 – 92 days from today – is when the taps will be turned off.
> At the Voëlvlei Dam, water levels are critically low, sitting at less than 20 percent, reports CBS News’ Debora Patta. It’s one of Cape Town’s main sources of water – a source that it is on the brink of running completely dry within a matter of weeks.
> Three years of successive drought have devastated the city’s water supplies. The local government has brought in severe restrictions forcing people to look for alternative supplies like a natural spring tapped for public use.

Cape Town’s four million residents are now only allowed 23 gallons of water per person per day.  Next month that goes down to 13 gallons. Compare that to the average American who uses around 100 gallons daily.

Researchers: New blood tests will spot 8 kinds of cancer The Guardian
>  “Liquid biopsy” – developed in the US – would be a game-changer in the fight against cancer, and hoped it could be widely available within a few years.
> … able to detect tumours about 70% of the time on average in more than 1,000 patients with early-stage cancer. Crucially, it did so before the cancers had spread, giving patients the best chance of beating the disease.
> … works by looking for mutated DNA that dying cells shed into the blood, and protein biomarkers associated with bowel, breast, liver, lung, oesophageal, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancer.

Amazon’s 20-city lottery
” …picked cities in the North and South and East and West, even smaller ones in the Midwest to create the illusion we don’t know exactly where we want to go & to dupe clueless cities into forking over huge incentive dollars …”
— Richard Florida on Twitter

Many US freeways won’t be free for long NPR
> New toll roads or toll lanes are opening this year in Texas, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Oregon will be adding congestion pricing to highways to help manage congestion in and around Portland later this year.
> Austin, Texas, has two new toll road projects slated to open next year and the highway tunnel beneath Seattle begins charging tolls in 2019.

72 hours to chaos
Hackers targeting US electric grid, and it’s quite vulnerable
Popular Science
The grid’s enemies rely on expert hackersto carry out their attacks. Most of the utilities they target lack that same expertise, defending themselves with pencil-pushers rather than professionals. That’s because there aren’t enough tech-savvy hired guns to go around.

Inside CamperForce, Amazon’s legion of mobile retirees Wired
Many had seen their retirement savings vanish in the stock market or had lost homes to foreclosure. Others had watched businesses go under or grappled with unemployment and ageism. A larger number had become full-time RVers or vandwellers because they could no longer afford traditional housing—what they called “sticks and bricks.” They talked about how Social Security wasn’t enough to cover the basic necessities and about the yoke of debt from every imaginable source: medical bills, maxed-out credit cards, even student loans.

Porn sites numbers spike after Hawaii missile scare Vice News

Bare breast movement takes on Ocean City, MD Courthouse News Service
“Studies show children are not harmed by seeing female breasts,” the Jan. 16 complaint states. “Likewise, any claim that Ocean City might suffer financially if women are treated equally to men is not based in reality. Many other thriving tourist destinations, resorts and cities in the United States allow women to go bare-chested. Regardless, financial losses – real or perceived – do not justify violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

LA Times union says publisher must be fired over sex harassment Document

Saratoga Springs, top horse racing town,
fears losing its immigrant labor

“I’m concerned that the enforcement actions will increase during the summer season. I’m concerned for the immigrants themselves and I’m concerned for the local economy.”

Thursday Jan. 18

“top 20”
for new HQ

I’m thinking Northern Virginia or Newark. What’s your guess? Audible’s already in Newark; N. Virginia would be best for political impact.

14 at Michigan State were warned about pervert doctor
Detroit News
Larry Nassar_1487817633331.jpg_9033926_ver1.0_1280_720Among those notified was MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician, she told The News on Wednesday.
Among the others who were aware of alleged abuse were athletic trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel, according to university records and accounts of victims who spoke to The News.
>>> Pervert doctor complains to judge:
victim statements are stressing him out.
The Daily Beast
>>> Perverts pervasive at UN, staff says The Guardian

Feds to shield medicos who claim religious freedom Reuters
Payback for the religious right.

Probe: Did NRA funnel Russian cash to Trump campaign? McClatchy

Apple to pay fraction of its tax bill under new law Gizmodo
>>> Apple, Google buses attacked in Silicon Valley BBC
Police: We’re not certain what caused the damage at this time, but we’re not ruling anything out.”

House Dems: Let cities build their own broadband networks The Hill

$107 million raised for Trump inauguration.
Where did it go? Who knows?
USA Today

Feds to strangle Consumer Protection agency Politico
In banks we trust!

Satis-Smart-Toilet1Absurd tech on the horizon:
$6,000 smart toilet and stripper robots


Torture Air Lines
CIA “rendition” flights from N. Carolina
The Guardian

More charges, suspects possible in Las Vegas mass murder KVVU-TV

Earth’s relentless warming sets brutal new record in 2017 Bloomberg

Drill baby drill
Okies gonna be shakin’ and quaking’ for quite a while Newsweek
Magnitude three or higher earthquakes were once a rarity in the state, with one per year before 2011. In 2015, there were over 900. “It is a phenomenal thing that has occurred.”  The state is now the most seismically active in the lower 48.

Wednesday Jan. 17

Science panel: Set DWI limits at 2 or 3 drinks AP
 Most women would need to draw the line at two drinks, and men at two or three if states follow a blueprint by a prestigious scientific panel for eliminating the “entirely preventable” 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in the United States each year.

pattyDems score big win in Wisconsin’s Trump/Walker heart of darkness Alternet
>>> Uncle Scotty’s getting nervous Wisconsin State Journal
Patty Schachtner’s victory boosts state Democrats who have been struggling to make gains since Republicans took over state government in 2010 and represents a 28-point swing from Republican to Democrat since the 2016 general election.

Trump musing: Terror attack could save GOP in 2018
Washington Post via Raw Story
“In private conversations,” said the Post, “Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said.”

accuAs opioid crisis grows,
states open Medicaid
to yoga, acupuncture, massage

…  could increase non-opioid options for low-income patients suffering from pain. But it also opens states to criticism from skeptics who say taxpayers are being forced to fund unproven treatments …

Bitcoin sinks again; down 50% in month Bloomberg
To rephrase the traders’ cliche: Don’t try to catch a falling Bitcoin.

Rebelling against surveillance state, he invents ‘ghost eyeglasses” Sputnik
Chicago dude’s a bit tired of his constant appearance on CCTV.

“New California” rejects coastal elites, seeks 51st state The Hill
Well, this goes to the back burner for sure. 

Money flows uncovered, and become focus of Russia probe BuzzFeed

michael_d_drobot_squareHospital exec to prison
in massive surgery kickback scheme

Courthouse News Service
>Largest fraud in California history
>Bribed surgeons to perform operations at his hospital

Most on National Park Advisory Board quit in frustration Orlando Sentinel
Zinke had refused to ever meet with them.
“… our requests to engage have been ignored … “

As Venezuela circles the drain, hungry mobs loot stores Reuters
> Skeptical that authorities can protect them, shopkeepers in the Andean town of Garcia de Hevia in the neighboring state of Tachira have taken matters into their own hands.
> “We’re arming ourselves with sticks, knives, machetes, and firearms to defend our assets,” recounted William Roa, the president of the local shopkeepers’ association.

Former CIA officer arrested over massive spy meltdown in China NPR

GOP senator denounces Trump’s use of “fake news” AP
Yep, Flake is running for President.

Tuesday Jan. 16

Bannon shuts up


Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon refused to answer questions Tuesday from the House intelligence committee about his time in the White House, prompting panel members to subpoena him on the spot, according to a person familiar with the interview.

In last year, 3 million Americans lost health insurance The Hill
> Most likely 1.2 million (40%)  of them didn’t vote in 2016
> Of the 1.8 million who did vote, 830,000 (46%)  voted for Trump so …
> About 2 million of them kind of asked for it.  

A bit better than Mongolia, though
Where does US rank on “freedom score?” Not even in top 50 Freedom House
But not up there with the leaders such as Uruguay, Barbados, Chile, Cyprus, Slovinia, Palau, Latvia… US score dragged down by restrictive voting …

Voters in Uruguay. US citizens will have to look south to see American exceptionalism

Federal offshore drilling plan is DOA with coastal governors EcoWatch

Researchers: Human lice, not rats, spread Great Plague disease Newser

Smiling kids on Facebook, but tortured at home USA Today

So, that DNA testing turns out to be bullshit after all Gizmodo
 “Everyone is sort of just making it up as they go along.”

…. The subpoena is a sign that Bannon is not personally the focus of the investigation. Justice Department rules allow prosecutors to subpoena to the targets of investigations only in rare circumstances.
… On Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why the price of Bitcoin just tanked Vice News

EU leaders say Britain is welcome to change its Brexit mind The Guardian

A Starbucks at Yosemite? The outrage, the outrage Sacramento Bee

Alaska secretly recorded talks between lawyers, defendants Anchorage Daily News
Does the Constitution not apply in our 49th state?

Trump shithole Mar-A-Lago cited for unsafe, dirty conditions Miami Herald
… safety violations and … the staff’s failure to track the freshness of potentially hazardous foods.

Renewables cheaper than fossil fuel within 2 years? Futurism

Senate needs 1 more (GOP) vote to pass Net Neutrality bill Motherboard



MLK Day Jan. 15.

Study: Legal marijuana cuts crime, undercuts Mexican cartels Raw Story

> “Whenever there is a medical marijuana law we observe that crime at the border decreases because suddenly there is a lot less smuggling and a lot less violence… “.

> “These laws allow local farmers to grow marijuana that can then be sold to dispensaries where it is sold legally,” said economist Evelina Gavrilova from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), one of the authors of the study. “These growers are in direct competition with Mexican drug cartels that are smuggling the marijuana into the U.S. As a result, the cartels get much less business.

US plan to back Kurdish soldiers pisses off Turkey BBC
>>> Erdogan vows to “drown” Kurd troops Stars & Stripes

FDA approves method of rapidly making stem cells Futurism
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have received FDA approval for a platform that can manufacture stem cells by the billions in just days, in contrast to previous methods of making stem cells that took months.

GOP tries to wake up Trump with “blue wave” slide show. Politicus USA
> … a “sobering” slide presentation about the difficult midterm landscape at Camp David last weekend, leading the president to pledge a robust schedule of fundraising and campaign travel in the coming months, White House officials said.
> But the trends have continued, and perhaps worsened, since that briefing, with two more prominent Republican House members announcing plans to retire from vulnerable seats and a would-be recruit begging off a Senate challenge to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Inmates strike, say Florida has turned them into slaves Newser
The primary grievance: that they’re forced to work and paid nothing—not even the nominal 15 cents an hour some prisoners see in other states, for instance.