Huge “Remain” march, and maybe public vote, 
planned for March as Brexit crash-out nears
The Guardian
— Campaigners against Theresa May’s “my deal or no deal” Brexit strategy are planning to mobilise the public and politicians for a showdown over the UK’s future in Europe in the final six days before Britain is due to leave the EU.

Beginning to look like Jussie Smollett attack was fake
Yahoo News
— The two brothers who were interrogated by police investigating the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett purchased the rope that was found around the “Empire” actor’s neck, sources told ABC News Saturday.
— Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives confronted them with evidence that they bought the rope — allegedly used in an attack that Smollett described to police as laced with racial and homophobic slurs — at an ACE Hardware store, sources said.
— Detectives have now shifted the investigation to determining whether Smollett made up the entire story.
>>> Arrested Nigerian Brothers in Jussie Smollett Case Both Filed for Bankruptcy After Mounting Debt

Gov. Phil Murphy and state legislative leaders have reached a deal in principle on how to tax and regulate marijuana in New Jersey after months of negotiations, paving the way to bringing legal weed to the Garden State.

First of many legal challenges filed over fake National Emergency
— Public Citizen, a consumer rights think tank, filed the complaint Friday evening on behalf of a nature preserve and three landowners in southern Texas who’ve been told the government will seek to build sections of the wall on their property once funding becomes available.

Police: Gunman who killed 5 civilians, wounded 5 cops was being fired
Daily Herald
— An Aurora, Illinois man who was in the process of being fired from his job started a shooting spree in his workplace Friday afternoon that killed five employees, wounded five police officers and another civilian, and ended with his own death.
— The shooting occurred in the 29,000-square-foot Henry Pratt manufacturing warehouse at 641 Archer Ave.
— Authorities said the shooter began firing a Smith & Wesson handgun either during or shortly after an afternoon meeting in which he was being terminated from a job he held for 15 years.
— Police Chief Kristen Ziman identified the shooter as Gary Martin, 45, of Aurora. She said he acted alone.

20-year sentence looms for Manafort
— Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller said in a new court filing that President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort should serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison for the financial crimes for which he was convicted in a Virginia court last August.

Kaepernick’s collusion settlement with NFL: $60 million?
The Week
— The NFL and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced Friday that they have reached a settlement over Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit, The Washington Post reports. Kaepernick had sued the league after he was apparently blacklisted from playing football due to his protests during the national anthem; he has been out of the sport for the past two seasons.
— While the terms of the settlement were not revealed, and the resolution is subject to a confidentiality agreement, NFL columnist Mike Freeman reported that “team officials are speculating to me [that] the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60 million to $80 million range.”



Chicago White Sox staffers, at spring training in Florida, bravely decide to carry on despite the dangers of the NATIONAL EMERGENCY. Thank God for our National Pastime!

Now here’s a real emergency:
Don’t travel to Haiti, US advises

… one week after anti-corruption protests intensified, reflecting fury over a court report that alleges billions of dollars in development money from Venezuela’s Petrocaribe fund were diverted or misused. The accusations include Moise and a company he headed before he took office in 2017.

And so it begins, the push to get Clarence Thomas to retire
The New Yorker
… The more complex drama involves Clarence Thomas, who is seventy years old and the longest-tenured Associate Justice on the Court. With fifty-three Republicans now in the Senate (and no filibusters allowed on Supreme Court nominations), Trump would have a free hand in choosing a dream candidate for his conservative base if Thomas were to retire this year.

How a no-deal Brexit could lead to One Ireland
NY Times
… the increasing possibility that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 without an agreement has rallied both moderates and extremists in the united-Ireland camp behind renewed talk of a single Irish state.
… And lurking in the background of the debate is the possibility that the imposition of a hard border between north and south, with physical checkpoints, could reignite the violence that largely ended in 1998 — fears that were underscored by a recent car bombing in Londonderry and several hoaxes.
… But the idea of Northern Ireland breaking from the United Kingdom in order to stay in the European Union is spurring fresh debates across the city. Taxi drivers joke that they will soon be taking payments in euros. Pro-Irish unity campaigners are discussing how to persuade opponents of the virtues of an all-island Irish state.
… A significant demographic shift also looms. Protestants held a narrow edge on Catholics in population when the last census was taken, in 2011. But Protestants dominate among the oldest age group, while younger people are more likely to be Catholic, heralding what experts say will soon be a Catholic majority.


Colorado dude describes his bare-handed fight with mountain lion
Vice News
As a cat owner, he realized that if he pinned the mountain lion’s back legs, the animal would be a bit more vulnerable. So he did that. Then he tried to stab the cat with some sticks, hit it on the head with a “big rock,” and then stepped on the animal’s neck to suffocate it. That did the trick, although Kauffman said it was “unfortunately” killed. Other trail-goers then took him to the hospital and went and fetched his car.
— “My face was just kind of a bloody mess,” Kauffman said. He received 17 stitches across his cheek, 6 stitches on his nose, 2 stitches on his other cheek, and three stitches on his wrist. “I’m about a week out, and I feel great.”


Book: Sessions said drunken Micks fit in well with FBI
— In one particularly shocking exchange, Sessions reportedly told McCabe the FBI was a better organization when “you all only hired Irishmen.” Drawing on archaic and offensive stereotypes, he clarified, “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos—who knows what they’re doing?”
— McCabe also noted that electronic tablets used to deliver the daily presidential brief to Sessions came back with no sign that he had even entered the passcode to view the important document. He not only failed to read other intelligence reports but also got confused between classified material and information he read in newspaper clippings.

Secret deals and empty promises
A study of Texas business incentives
Casts doubt on the whole process
The Conversation
… after politicians stage photo ops of company announcements, little is done to make sure companies are complying with these agreements.

Texts Show Portland Cops, right-wingers were cozy
Portland Mercury

Majority of Californians want to move away, poll finds
SF Gate
— According to a new survey by Edelman Intelligence, 53 percent of Californians are considering moving out of state due to the high cost of living. Millennials are even more likely to flee the Golden State — 63 percent.
— Bay Area residents surveyed were especially sensitive to affordability issues, and it’s no surprise. The median home value in San Francisco is $1.37 million, according to Zillow, and $1.09 million in San Jose. In Edelman’s survey, 76 percent of Bay Area residents say they consider cost and availability of housing to be a serious issue.
—-> So … nearly a quarter of the people in the Bay Area DON’T think it’s a problem having fixer-uppers priced over $1 million?

Amazon’s federal tax rate: Less than zero
The Week
— Amazon, which doubled its profits and made more than $11 billion in 2018, won’t pay any federal income taxes for the second year in a row, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported on Wednesday.
— The company will not be required to pay the standard 21 percent income tax rate on its 2018 profits, and is claiming a tax rebate of $129 million, which ITEP describes as a “a tax rate of negative 1 percent.”

Facebook, Facing Lawmaker Questions, May kill anti-vaxxer posts

This Website Uses AI to Generate the Faces of People Who Don’t Exist
not-exist— Doing this requires some super-expensive and powerful hardware, but now there’s a website that bypasses that requirement: generating a fancy new face is as easy as refreshing your browser with the aptly-named thispersondoesnotexist.com. Every time you load the page, an algorithm generates a new human face from scratch.
— The website uses an implementation of machine learning known as Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs. These programs “learn” from a large number of training inputs—say, real human faces—in order to produce new examples. Thispersondoesnotexist.com uses code previously released by Nvidia researchers on GitHub.

Illinois joining march toward $15 min. wage

NFL begs NBA czar: Come run our league
> He says forget about it.
— NBA revenues have increased from $4.8 billion to a projected $9.1 billion in Silver’s five years. Team valuations have increased by 267 percent, from an average of $509 million in 2013 to $1.9 billion in the latest Forbes Magazine valuations.
— The NBA has been a vanguard in embracing esports, legalized sports betting, allowing patch advertisements on jerseys, reform of the draft lottery and rules changes to improve game flow and referee accountability.

Trump to declare himself a national emergency
The Hill
> Coward McConnel
l caves, and so-called Senate will bow and scrape.
> An attempt to go around Congress in funding the so-called Wall.
— “It’s a bad idea because it’s a bad precedent,” said a Senate Republican on the Armed Services Committee. “The most likely or maybe only fund he can allocate from is the [military construction] fund and that hits readiness and a lot of the military installations.”

Some suspect “Empire” actor of staging attack
ABC Chicago
— Chicago police confirmed Thursday that detectives are talking to two persons of interest in connection with the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
— Multiple sources have told ABC7 Eyewitness News that police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of “Empire.”


Ford warns “hard Brexit” may cause it to leave UK
“We will take whatever action is necessary to preserve the competitiveness of our European business.”
–> 13,000 jobs at stake.

New EU rules could force Facebook, Google to pay “content creators”

Senate confirms Trump’s attorney general pick William Barr, who will now oversee Mueller probe
— Barr, 68, was confirmed in a 54-45 vote that largely fell along party lines.

Andrew McCabe says officials discussed removing Trump after Comey firing
The Guardian
— Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has said top Trump administration officials talked seriously about removing Donald Trump from office just months after he become president.
— McCabe, who briefly ran the FBI after Trump fired James Comey as the bureau’s director, told 60 Minutes that there were meetings at the justice department in the days following the firing to discuss whether Trump could be removed under the 25th amendment.
… “They were counting noses. They were not asking cabinet members whether they would vote for or against removing the president, but they were speculating this person would be with us, that person would not, and they were counting noses in that effort.”

Denver strike ends with teacher pay raises

New study confirms link between Roundup, cancer
The Guardian
— A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
— The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded, though they said the specific numerical risk estimates should be interpreted with caution.

Rockefeller University Hospital knew doctor was sexually abusing thousands of patients, bombshell lawsuit says
NY Daily News
A prominent doctor molested and sexually abused potentially thousands of his young patients while his research institute employer knew and did nothing, a bombshell lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday charges.
The civil suit, brought by a victim of the late doctor was filed against the Rockefeller University Hospital, which is described in the papers as a “world-renowned research institute.”
— The lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Poppel, a former patient, alleges that during his four decades as a pediatric endocrinologist at Rockefeller, Dr. Reginald Archibald had more than 9,000 patients, many of whom were boys who were unable to grow normally.
— The filing claims Archibald also took nude and pornographic film and Poloroid photos of his victims that were kept at the facility and that Rockefeller staff members “were aware of the photographs and his conduct for many years, and remained silent regarding same.”

Amazon to NY: Drop Dead
The Hill
— “While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the statement from Amazon said.

Deadly blue ‘Mexican oxy’ pills take toll on US Southwest
— Aaron Francisco Chavez swallowed at least one of the sky blue pills at a Halloween party before falling asleep forever. He became yet another victim killed by a flood of illicit fentanyl smuggled from Mexico into the Southwest — a profitable new business for drug gangs that has pushed the synthetic opioid to the top spot for fatal U.S. overdoses.

Texas Man With 3D-Printed Gun And ‘Hit List’ Of Lawmakers Sentenced To 8 Years
Eric Gerard McGinnis was not supposed to have a gun. After a violent altercation with his girlfriend, a Texas judge barred him in 2015 from possessing a firearm. A year later, McGinnis tried to buy a gun anyway, but the purchase wouldn’t go through after a background check revealed the court order.
— So, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, McGinnis obtained a barrel, stock, upper receiver and grip — and then used a 3D printer to create the gun’s firing mechanism. He assembled the parts into a short-barrel AR-15 style rifle, and headed out into the woods with what federal attorneys called a “hit list” of Democrat and Republican lawmakers, including their office and home addresses. The list was titled, “9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists.”

Oh, now that most are dead, Catholic Church reveals names of pervert priests
NY Post

Departing Mich. gov. pardoned “career drunk driver”
“The average Joe out there is not going to get a pardon” for the same crime, prosecutor Jessica Cooper told the AP. “Nor should they.”

Not really a surprise, eh?
Who done it? KKK Imperial Wizard shot dead
Kansas City Star
Frank-Ancona11-1— Frank Ancona, the outspoken imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was found shot to death Saturday near Belgrade, Mo.
— The body of the 51-year-old Leadwood, Mo., resident was discovered near the Big River by a family fishing in the area, according to Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen in southeast Missouri.
— Washington County coroner Brian DeClue told The Kansas City Star that Ancona died of a gunshot wound to the head.
— “It was not self inflicted,” he said. “This is now a homicide investigation.”
…. The police chief also said that he questioned Malissa Ancona about a Facebook post she’d made the day he disappeared. In the post, she said she was seeking a new roommate. Dickey said Malissa Ancona told him that when her husband left, he said he was filing for divorce when he got home, so she figured she would need a new roommate to help pay the bills.
>>> UPDATE>>> KKK family values: Wife, Son charged in murder

Pacific Standard
— School districts and parents are investing in bulletproof backpacks and whiteboards, security consulting, and safe rooms. But will any of it work?



Anti-vaxxer wife of White House official:
“Bring back our childhood diseases,
they keep you healthy and fight cancer.”

Raw Story

Darla Shine, wife of White House PR hack Bill Shine, curates the “Happy Housewives Club” on Twitter. The Twitter user “ANNA” had this rejoinder to Shine’s anti-vax tweet: “Actually a recent study was released that indicates that the measles vaccine has a dual purpose. It prevents the measles which is is deadly in itself. And it also prevents the accompanying immune system suppression. Science. It’s good for you.”

Cosby, in prison, compares his wonderful self to Mandela, MLK
USA Today
“Despite the circumstances, this is an amazing experience.”

Butterfly Center Asks for a Halt to Border Wall Construction
Courthouse News Service
— The association’s executive director Marianna Trevino Wright said in a court filing Monday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents changed the locks on the refuge’s gate and are blocking access with their service vehicles, so its visitors cannot access the 70 percent of the Butterfly Center that is south of the levee.

Oregon moves toward nation’s first statewide rent control
Oregon Public Broadcasting
——> However, they obviously haven’t done the math, or don’t understand the principle of compounding. A 7% cap on rent raises, plus the rate of inflation, gives landlords freedom to raise rents about 10% a year. 
— Average rent in Portland is $1500 a month … in ten years at the max allowable, it would be $3900 … in twenty years, more than $10,000 per month. So is this rent control? Or a Trojan Horse designed by landlords?

You killed somebody?
You’ve got no ID?
Sorry, cops can’t jail ya
Inside Edition
— A man wanted for murder spent nearly an hour convincing deputies in New Orleans to book him into jail after he was unable to produce identification, his attorney told InsideEdition.com.
— Frank Sams Jr., 25, turned himself in to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Wednesday after learning a warrant for second-degree murder was out for his arrest in connection to the September killing of a gas station clerk.

“Upskirting” becomes criminal offense in England
The Independent
… The act of taking a photograph underneath another person’s clothing without their knowledge or consent is known as upskirting and could now see perpetrators face up to two years in prison and being placed on the sex offenders register.

Click on terrorist propaganda? It’s 15 years in prison for you
The Independent
—–> Ladies and Gentlemen, “thought crime” has arrived

Why the Trump rally attack on our cameraman was no surprise
… I covered endless Trump rallies in the run-up to the election and since – and there is a pattern. The attacks on the media are hugely popular with his supporters. They are every bit as much a part of his “set” as Honky Tonk Woman and Satisfaction are part of a Rolling Stones concert. You just can’t imagine it not happening.
… At some point in the president’s remarks he will point a finger to where we are filming and you know then the fun is about to begin. “Have you seen a group of more dishonest people? They are fake news; they are the enemies of the people.”
.. And like at a Christmas pantomime the crowd would jeer and boo. Honestly, for the overwhelming majority it is good fun; a part of the ritual. Like being at a football match and saying disobliging things about the referee.
… But for a few – and I should add, a growing few, it is more than that. The uncomfortable truth is that with each month that passes the attacks have become more vociferous, the violent atmosphere on these occasions more palpable.
… All of my colleagues have stories of occasions when they’ve been jostled; some have been spat at. Last night Ron heard the words ‘CNN sucks’ and ‘[expletive] the media’ before he was taken down.

Map offers vision of how climate change will “move US cities south.”

West Coast real estate so expensive that married couples are moving in with multiple roommates
Market Watch
— In Honolulu and Orange Country, Calif., the share of married couples with roommates is between four and five times the national rate. San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle also have sky high rates of married couples with roomies. 

Calif. Gov.: Tech should share “data dividend”
— In his “State of the State” speech on Tuesday, Newsom said California is proud to be home to tech firms. But he said companies that make billions of dollars “collecting, curating and monetizing our personal data have a duty to protect it. Consumers have a right to know and control how their data is being used.”
— He went further by suggesting the companies share some of those profits, joining other politicians calling for higher levies on the wealthy in U.S. society.

Ex-boyfriend arrested in killing of Valerie Reyes, missing woman found in suitcase
NY Post
— Javier da Silva was nabbed by detectives from both New York and Connecticut after he used an ATM card belonging to the victim, Valerie Reyes, to withdraw cash from her account, according to the Greenwich, Conn., Police Department.



Airline sues passenger for missing  a flight…
… a fight against “skip lagging”
… the unnamed passenger was supposed to fly to Oslo from Seattle via Frankfurt in April 2016. However, they skipped a connecting flight and returned from Frankfurt to Berlin on a separate ticket. His total cost was 657 euros, or $743. The airline says he should have paid 2,769 euros, or $3,133. It’s seeking the difference plus interest.

Apple’s plan to monopolize news hits snag: its own greed
Wall Street Journal
In its pitch to some news organizations, the Cupertino, Calif., company has said it would keep about half of the subscription revenue from the service, the people said. The service, described by industry executives as a “Netflix for news,” would allow users to read an unlimited amount of content from participating publishers for a monthly fee. It is expected to launch later this year as a paid tier of the Apple News app, the people said.

Calif. Gov. kills LA/SF high-speed rail
SF Gate
— “Let’s be real, the current project as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”

Researchers: This technique could turn much plastic into fuel

A team of chemists at Purdue may have found a partial solution to our plastic woes. As detailed in a paper published this week in Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, the chemists discovered a way to convert polypropylene—a type of plastic commonly used in toys, medical devices, and product packaging like potato chip bags—into gasoline and diesel-like fuel. The researchers said that this fuel is pure enough to be used as blendstock, a main component of fuel used in motorized vehicles.

Teen with “stupid” anti-vaxxer parents gets himself inoculated
The Independent
— Ethan Lindenberger, 18, appealed for help on a Reddit forum, asking which vaccines he should obtain, as he said he had never received any, because “my parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines”. “God knows how I’m still alive,” he wrote.

Since Parkland, nearly 1,200 US youth die of gun violence
McClatchy/The Trace
— The 12-month period starting Feb. 14, 2018, saw nearly 1,200 lives snuffed out. That’s a Parkland every five days, enough victims to fill three ultra-wide Boeing 777s. The true number is certainly higher because no government agency keeps a real-time tally and funding for research is restricted by law.

43 Mexicans free in Canada after being held in “modern-day slavery”
— Police said that the traffickers had allegedly been controlling the wages made by the forced laborers. The victims had already paid traffickers significant amounts of money to leave Mexico, in addition to being charged fees for transportation and lodging.

Michelle Carter, who urged man to kill himself, reports to jail.
Mass Live

The SUV That’s About To Change Asset Forfeiture Rules Nationwide

Hawaii storm: Snow on Maui, 191-mph winds on the Big Isle
SF Gate

Is this a great country, or what?
Florida School Hires Combat Veterans To Patrol Campus To Prevent Mass Shootings
— Bill Jones, the school’s principal, hopes publicizing the new hires will deter anyone who might be thinking about shooting up the school.
— “If someone walks onto this campus, they’re going to be shot and killed,” he told the Bradenton Herald. “We’re not going to talk with them. We’re not going to negotiate. We are going to put them down, as quickly as possible.”
—–> Principal Bill already needs a lawyer, whether he knows it or not.

Georgia consider tax on downloads, streaming
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

— Possibly coming soon to a screen near you: a tax on Netflix and just about everything else you download or stream.
— Georgia lawmakers, coaxed by dozens of lobbyists swarming the state Capitol, are pushing for a tax on digital video, books, music and video games.
— That means you’d pay more for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Kindle e-books, iTunes music, Spotify and internet phone services.
–Legislators and internet providers see it as a giant pool of untapped cash that could be used to subsidize construction of internet lines in economically depressed rural parts of the state.

“We are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods.”
Nearly half of all insect species worldwide are in rapid decline and a third could disappear altogether, according to a study warning of dire consequences for crop pollination and natural food chains.
— “Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” concluded the peer-reviewed study, which is set for publication in April.
— Restoring wilderness areas and a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertiliser are likely the best way to slow the insect loss, they said.
— The recent collapse, for example, of many bird species in France was traced to the use insecticides on industrial crops such as wheat, barley, corn and wine grapes.
— “There are hardly any insects left — that’s the number one problem,” said Vincent Bretagnolle, an ecologist at Centre for Biological Studies.
— Experts estimate that flying insects across Europe have declined 80 percent on average, causing bird populations to drop by more than 400 million in three decades.

Would you pull up at the drive-thru of this burning A&W?
Many did, hoping perhaps for a flame-broiled burger
Global News Canada

a&w fie

As more older Americans ‘age in place,’ millennials struggle to find homes
— With more seniors than ever aging in place and choosing not to sell the family home, an estimated 1.6 million fewer properties are now available in a market already experiencing a critical shortage, according to Freddie Mac.
— To put it in perspective, that is about the same number of new single-family and multifamily housing units built each year.
— That stay-put trend is crashing into the rising demand for housing from the huge millennial generation: fewer homes for sale will continue to put upward pressure on already overheated home prices.


Fight for California’s beaches: the public wins this round
Courthouse News Service
— Public access advocates have won a victory in their fight against a wealthy neighborhood’s efforts to keep a an eight-mile stretch of picturesque coastline just north of Los Angeles private.
… The affluent neighborhood boasts high-profile residents including “Titanic” director James Cameron, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne and Patagonia clothing and equipment founder Yvon Chouinard.
— Hollister Ranch property owners, many of whom have attended California Coastal Commission meetings to lodge objections to opening the beach to public access, say restricting public access serves as de facto conservation.
— Others say this environmental concern is camouflage for an elitist strain of thinking that certain recreational areas should be cordoned off for the rich and privileged.

If you’re a woman traveling alone, hotels may be watching you
… the surveillance tactics that have been adopted by hotel chains are part of a disturbing partnership between hospitality businesses, federal law enforcement, and rent-seeking nonprofits that increasingly seeks to track the movements and whereabouts of people, especially women, all over the country.

(Maybe) your privacy’s at stake in Bezos vs. Pecker
By John Culhane, law professor, U/Delaware
— If Bezos were to sue and win—or gain a good settlement—the impact could go way beyond the National Enquirer. What follows might be nothing less than a renewed appreciation of our right to be left alone—with consequences for everything from stopping so-called “revenge pornographers” to deterring others who want to make other intimate details of our private lives public.

Venomous yellow scorpions are moving into Brazil’s big cities – and the infestation may be unstoppable
The Conversation
— The number of people stung by scorpions across Brazil has risen from 12,000 in 2000 to 140,000 last year, according to the health ministry.
— Worse yet, the species terrorizing Brazilians is the highly poisonous yellow scorpion, or tityus serrulatus. It reproduces through the miracle of parthenogenesis, meaning a female scorpion simply generates copies of herself twice a year – no male participation required.
… example of a “wicked problem.”
… Wicked problems are a symptom of numerous other related problems, both natural and human-made. In this case, Brazil’s urban scorpion infestation is the result of poor garbage management, inadequate sanitation, rapid urbanization and a changing climate.


Climate change brings polar vortex? Uh… maybe not
Popular Science
… the patterns in the polar vortex we’re seeing may be explained by natural variability. The records we have of disruptions to the polar vortex are limited and vary a lot decade-to-decade, adds Amy Butler, an atmospheric scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. And the relative infrequency of polar vortex shifts means there’s little historical data to go off in studying these events.

With apartment rents at $3500, UC Berkley saying: Move in with oldsters
L.A. Daily News

Slum golf: the sport that stormed the streets of Mumbai
The Guardian

slum golf
When a group of young caddies who worked on a golf course were told they weren’t allowed to play because of ‘exclusivity’, they got creative…

When newspapers close, voters become a bit more partisan
The Conversation
… Our study examined split-ticket voting – where a person votes for candidates of both parties on Election Day – as a way to measure polarization in areas where local news is suffering.

Yes, IKEA, New Zealand does exist

The furniture chain Ikea has apologized after becoming the latest offender to leave New Zealand off a map.

“Napalm girl” receives German prize for peace work
The Independent
kim— Kim Phuc, known as “Napalm Girl“ in an iconic photo showing her during the Vietnam War, has received an award in Germany for her work for peace.
— The 55-year-old, who now lives in Canada, was handed the Dresden Prize for her support of Unesco and children wounded in war, the organisers said.
— She was also honoured for speaking out publicly against violence and hatred.
— As late as 2015, she was being treated for the aches and pains caused by the napalm burns in 1972. 

Costas spoke the truth about football, so…
The NFL kicked him in the ass as he went out the door
Yahoo Sports
— Bob Costas was pulled from the Superbowl broadcast at last minute for his comments on concussions and brain damage in the NFL.
— “I think the words were, ‘You’ve crossed the line,’” Costas told ESPN. “My thought was, ‘What line have I crossed?’”
…. “The issue that is most substantial — the existential issue — is the nature of football itself,” Costas said, via the Washington Post. “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.”

Internet dividing into two: US vs. China
Wall Street Journal
One side, championed in China, is a digital landscape where mobile payments have replaced cash. Smartphones are the devices that matter, and users can shop, chat, bank and surf the web with one app. The downsides: The government reigns absolute, and it is watching—you may have to communicate with friends in code. And don’t expect to access Google or Facebook.
— On the other side, in much of the world, the internet is open to all. Users can say what they want, mostly, and web developers can roll out pretty much anything. People accustomed to China’s version complain this other internet can seem clunky. You must toggle among apps to chat, shop, bank and surf the web. Some websites still don’t seem to be designed with smartphones in mind.
— The two zones are beginning to clash with the advent of the superfast new generation of mobile technology called 5G.
>>> Russia to Test Whether Its Internet Can Be Disconnected From the Rest of the World

Tinder and Grindr face questions over age checks after rape cases
The Guardian
— It was reported on Sunday that UK police have investigated more than 30 cases of child rape since 2015 where victims evaded age checks on dating apps.


Amazon needs NY more than NY needs Amazon
by Richard Florida
via NY Daily News
— Where New York is concerned, Amazon’s decision was foremost about talent; the company said tax incentives played a role, but talent obviously mattered most. Even before its HQ2 search was launched, one of its top executives said at a tech conference that many of the people the company will need to hire in the future won’t want to live in the Pacific Northwest. New York City in particular has the deep pool of talent that Amazon is looking for.
— And what they were after is a very unique and specialized type of talent that can only be found in New York City in the United States (and maybe only London outside of it). To grow a world-straddling corporation, you need management, financial, business and media expertise, which New York has in spades.

Denver teachers will walk out
Colorado Public Radio
— Tensions boiled over Saturday night as several hours of discussion between the teachers union and Denver Public Schools aimed at averting a strike came to a halt and a Monday walkout appeared inevitable.
— Exasperated negotiators for the Denver Classroom Teachers Association ended talks after they asked whether or not Superintendent Susana Cordova would agree to their concept of a salary schedule that gives teachers more opportunities to advance and rewards them for professional development classes.

White House figure got off easy after child porn conviction
— The Lebanese-American businessman who features prominently in special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry was once sentenced to six months on child pornography charges in Virginia…
…. George Nader, who is now cooperating with U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and reportedly delivered grand jury testimony last month, attended a high-level meeting with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former chief political strategist Steve Bannon at Trump Tower in New York in December 2016, just before Trump took office, according to CNN.
— About a month later, Nader, former Blackwater head Erik Prince and a Russian banker linked to President Vladimir Putin all attended a meeting in Seychelles with Emirati crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Dem: Investigate dark money that kept Garland off Supreme Court
Raw Story
“Wait til we start digging out who the $18 Million donor was to the @judicialnetworkto stop Garland and get Gorsuch on the Court,” he wrote before adding the warning:  “Follow the money…This ain’t over.”

Reddit users aflame as notorious Chinese censor becomes investor
— As part of China’s notorious censorship regime, the Great Firewall of China, Tencent’s impending investment in the Silicon Valley company and what sort of influence it will gain at Reddit still remains unclear.

Average tax refund down
——–> Some people never learn.

Apple, Google hosting Saudi app that tracks women, stops them leaving the country
saudi app

Bizarre back story in L.A. plane crash fatal to 5
L.A. Times
crashed plane

The pilot, Antonio Pastini, was carrying Chicago police credentials, but …
… Chicago police said Pastini never worked for them. The revelation casts into doubt two decades of interviews Pastini gave with newspapers in Nevada, where he lived and owned restaurants, describing himself as a veteran of the Chicago force.
…. When his deli opened in 1991, the Reno Gazette-Journal published a story with the headline, “Ex-cop brings piece of Chicago with him.”
“Rather than nab criminals,” it begins, “former Chicago police officer Tony Pastini has turned in his badge and opened a Reno delicatessen.”
… Pastini also changed his name …. twice.
… Pastini also was the personal pilot for famed Nevada brothel owner-turned-politician Dennis Hof, who died unexpectedly in October at age 72.
… Pastini’s daughter, Torrance resident Julia Ackley, has declined to discuss publicly her father’s name changes or claims of serving in the Chicago police force.



Humanitarian Aid Arrives For Venezuela — But Maduro Blocks It

The aid convoy arrived at the Colombian border city of Cúcuta, The Associated Press reports, but Maduro and the military have blocked the Tienditas bridge so that the trucks cannot enter Venezuela.

The well-armed militia
States more active in taking guns from crazy people
— In the year since the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school, more and more states have passed laws making it easier to take guns away from people who may be suicidal or bent on violence against others, and courts are issuing an unprecedented number of seizure orders across the country.
— Supporters say these “red flag” laws are among the most promising tools to reduce the nearly 40,000 suicides and homicides by firearm each year in the U.S. Gun advocates, though, say such measures undermine their constitutional rights and can result in people being stripped of their weapons on false or vindictive accusations.

Students from wealthy Saudi families
commit crimes in US, and easily flee
The Oregonian
— University students from Saudi Arabia have vanished while facing criminal charges here and in at least seven other states as well as Canada — evidence that a growing number of Saudi defendants have fled justice in the United States.

There’s an explosive spy scandal lurking
in the fight between Enquirer, Bezos
The Observer
— A hint where this scandal is headed appeared last night when a Post reporter revealed on MSNBC that Gavin de Becker, the security guru to the stars whom Bezos hired to look into AMI, “told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked, he thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages.”

Germany puts the screws to Facebook’s business model
— On Thursday, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s antitrust regulator, ruled that Facebook was exploiting consumers by requiring them to agree to rampant data collection in order to have an account, and has prohibited the practice going forward.
— “Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts.”

Amazon threatens NY: We’ll take our ball and go home

N.H. Court: Women gotta keep their nipples covered
… a question of equal treatment under the law … 

This zoo will name a cockroach after your ex,
then feed it to a meerkat on Valentine’s Day

CBS News
… the “Quit Bugging Me” meerkat event will live-stream on Facebook and the zoo’s website. The names of those exes will also be displayed around the meerkat exhibit and on social media starting February 11. The zoo calls it “the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.”

Steel jobs coming back yet? Nope.

Federal bill introduced to “deschedule” and regulate marijuana

Rising costs of water in Great Lakes cities
forces some to live with pipes shut down
… wealthier Americans may not even know that water prices have spiked. But for millions struggling to afford water, or living without it, the crisis can be life-altering.

Nashville cops arrest 5 teens (ages 12-16)
in shooting death of musician
The Tennessean
— Police charged three girls, ages 12, 14 and 15, and two boys, ages 13 and 16, with criminal homicide in the death of Kyle Yorlets, gunned down outside the back of his home just before 3 p.m. Thursday.
The investigation shows that prior to the shooting, the five arrested juveniles were in a stolen Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck in the alley that runs behind Yorlets’ home when they spotted him outside.
— The minors approached Yorlets, took his wallet, and told him to hand over the keys to his vehicle.  Police said they believe Yorlets was shot after he refused to give them up.
— Police have not said which juvenile pulled the trigger.

Billion-plus drug bust at US port
…  bound for Australia

She’s a licker
She’s a groper
And she’s now
A no-hoper
Tampa Bay Times

MADEIRA BEACH, FLA. — Former City Commissioner Nancy Oakley was censured and reprimanded by her former colleagues for violating state ethics rules by groping and licking the face of a former city manager. (You mean that’s against the rules in Florida?)


Woman told mom someone would kill her … then someone did
Fox News
The woman whose body was found Tuesday stuffed into a large red suitcase dumped on the roadside in an affluent Connecticut town reportedly told her mom just before vanishing that she was afraid “someone” was going to “murder” her.
— Valerie Reyes, 24, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was identified this week as the person whose body was bound at the hands and feet, jammed into the piece of luggage and then abandoned in upscale Greenwich, Conn.

Roberts opposes wing-nut Supremes, helps delay LA. abortion law
… for now, the Court will not allow the state to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Netflix made $845 million profit, paid $0 federal taxes
——> That new tax law’s sure workin’ good.

Michigan mayor: Hell no to sex doll brothel
Detroit Free Press
— “I haven’t had anybody call me and say ‘I hope the council votes for this,'” Siver said. “All the callers and emailers were appalled, and they don’t want the city to be associated with this.”

“I fell short,” admits former NYT editor accused of plagiarism

Cops say groom assaulted teen waitress, then started a riot, at his own wedding reception.
——> Advice to bride. Get … out … now.

Bezos goes balls-out, accuses National Inquirer scumbags of blackmail
— Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer and its publisher David Pecker of extortion and blackmail, stepping up a war of words between the world’s richest man and a confidant of U.S. President Donald Trump.
— The magazine, owned by American Media Inc., published an expose on Bezos’s relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and Bezos has hired investigators to find out if the story was politically motivated. He owns the Washington Post, which has written critical stories about Trump, who counts Pecker as a close ally.

Veterinarian doing time for smuggling heroin inside puppies
NBC News
“Every dog has its day and with today’s sentence, Elorez has been held responsible for this reprehensible use of his veterinary skills to conceal heroin inside puppies as part of a scheme to import dangerous drugs into the United States.”

Puppies rescued from a farm in Colombia were destined for use as drug mules to the US.

Living Near Your Grandmother Has Evolutionary Benefits
— Two studies published Thursday in Current Biology take another look at the “grandmother hypothesis” and add new insights into the role grandmothers play.