Dec15… and weekend update

Don’t believe this crappy story first spread by Drudge:

Health Officials Urge People To Sleep At Least Arm’s Length Away From Cellphone…

Never Carry In Pocket…

Increased Risk For Brain Cancer, Low Sperm Count, Headaches, Impaired Memory…

The graphic below contains text that appeared at the bottom of the story. It invalidates all those sensationalist headlines.


Fire fighters work to protect the historic San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif., Saturday. The fire, which began Dec. 4, has burned more than 700 homes and forced 95,000 people to evacuate.

Thomas Fire
Downtown Santa Barbara shut down, 
some neighborhoods evacuated
SF Gate
> Since the fire began on Dec. 4, about 95,000 people have been placed under mandatory evacuation. The evacuation zone near Santa Barbara on Saturday was 17 miles long and up to 5 miles wide and the new expansion encompassed about 3,300 people.

As government looks away …
Hundreds of children starving to death in Venezuela
NY Times
>   Hunger has stalked Venezuela for years. Now, it is killing the nation’s children at an alarming rate, doctors in the country’s public hospitals say.
>   Venezuela has been shuddering since its economy began to collapse in 2014. Riots and protests over the lack of affordable food, excruciating long lines for basic provisions, soldiers posted outside bakeries and angry crowds ransacking grocery stores have rattled cities, providing a telling, public display of the depths of the crisis.
>   But deaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition — a condition they had rarely encountered before the economic crisis began.

Sidney, Neb. Population: 6,000 … for now
Sale of Cabela’s devastates its headquarters town.

In recent years, Sidney has built a new state-of-the-art hospital, an aquatic center, parks, bike paths that snake through cul-de-sacs of luxury homes: things you wouldn’t always see in a town of 6,000 people on the remote plains. That’s why the sale of Cabela’s stings. There have been three waves of mass layoffs already.

“Mixed use” licenses
Just about everybody will be able to sell pot in Massachusetts
Mass Live
> Movie theaters, restaurants, yoga and massage studios and a wide variety of other businesses in Massachusetts will be allowed to sell customers single-use portions of marijuana under new regulations shaping up within the Cannabis Control Commission.
> The much anticipated discussion of “mixed-use” licenses which will allow permitted businesses to provide customers marijuana for use on the premises occurred over a number of meetings this week, bringing new clarity to the picture of the state’s nascent legal pot industry.

Pistol in the lake
Ex-wife indicted in 2010 murder of NBA player 
Memphis Commercial Appeal
> In November, police announced that a gun authorities believe to be a weapon used in Lorenzen Wright’s killing had been recovered in a Walnut, Mississippi lake.
> “The weapon was key,” police said.
> Information led investigators to the lake, and Goods said an elite FBI dive team came in and found the murder weapon. The weapon was taken to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and it was verified as one of the murder weapons, authorities said.

March 3, 2003 – Lorenzen Wright and his wife Sherra Wright

Puerto Rico about to be hit with hurricane of foreclosures NY Times
One third of homeowners behind on mortgage…
> Now Puerto Rico is bracing for another blow: a housing meltdown that could far surpass the worst of the foreclosure crisis that devastated Phoenix, Las Vegas, Southern California and South Florida in the past decade. If the current numbers hold, Puerto Rico is headed for a foreclosure epidemic that could rival what happened in Detroit, where abandoned homes became almost as plentiful as occupied ones.
> About one-third of the island’s 425,000 homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments to banks and Wall Street firms that previously bought up distressed mortgages. Tens of thousands have not made payments for months. Some 90,000 borrowers became delinquent as a consequence of Hurricane Maria, according to Black Knight Inc., a data firm formerly known as Black Knight Financial Services.
> Puerto Rico’s 35 percent foreclosure and delinquency rate is more than double the 14.4 percent national rate during the depths of the housing implosion in January 2010. And there is no prospect of the problem’s solving itself or quickly.
> “If there is no income, the people cannot make payments,” said Ricardo Ramos-González, coordinator of a consumer legal aid clinic at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. “Thousands have lost their jobs, thousands of small business have closed, and thousands more have left the country.”

In 17-year span
Researchers find $21,000 Billion in unauthorized government spending
Michigan State University
$21 trillion? The numbers here don’t seem credible … but the source does. We’ll see how this develops.

> Earlier this year, a Michigan State University economist, working with graduate students and a former government official, found $21 trillion in unauthorized spending in the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015.
> The work of Mark Skidmore and his team, which included digging into government websites and repeated queries to U.S. agencies that went unanswered, coincided with the Office of Inspector General, at one point, disabling the links to all key documents showing the unsupported spending.

Final GOP tax bill slashes corporate taxes Reuters
cut the corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, according to a summary distributed to reporters by congressional tax writers. Corporate tax lobbyists have been seeking a tax cut of this magnitude for many years.
> The bill, the summary showed, would create a 20-percent business income tax deduction for owners of “pass-through” businesses, such as partnerships and sole proprietorships; allow for immediate write-off by corporations of new equipment costs; and eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax.
> Under a new territorial system, the bill would exempt U.S. corporations from taxes on most of their future foreign profits. It also sets a one-time tax for companies to repatriate more than $2.6 trillion now held overseas, at rates of 15.5 percent for cash and cash-equivalents and 8 percent for illiquid assets.

And so it begins …
Wisconsin to divert $134 million from other highway projects
to help improve roads for Foxconn
Wisconsin State Journal

Family discovers hidden spy camera on cruise ship Miami New Times

Facebook admits it sucks, urges people to use it more (The Guardian)

Did Uber engage in “illegal intelligence gathering on a global scale?” NY Times
> SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Uber secretly spied on key executives, drivers and employees at rival ride-hailing companies as part of a larger intelligence-gathering operation that spanned multiple countries, according to a letter made public in a federal court on Friday.
> The 37-page letter, written by Richard Jacobs, a former Uber security employee, detailed what he described as the formation of separate internal teams designed “expressly for the purpose of acquiring trade secrets” from major ride-sharing competitors around the world.

The “dark money” collected for Trump’s accusers 
The Hill
A well-known women’s rights lawyer sought to arrange compensation from donors and tabloid media outlets for women who made or considered making sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump during the final months of the 2016 presidential race, according to documents and interviews.

Here we go!
Israelis kill 3 Palestinians, hurt 150 in Gaza Reuters
Gee, who coulda predicted this?

FCC threatened with legal action after summary execution of Net Neutrality
The Independent
>>> State of Washington to enforce its own Net Neutrality
The Spokesman-Review
Governor: “There are some things worth fighting for. This is a free-speech issue as well as a business development issue.”
>>> California and New York will also fight back
Scott Wiener, a California state senator, said he’ll seek legislation requiring net neutrality in the country’s most populous state. 

Here’s what Comcast has ALREADY removed from their Net Neutrality page. Their promises:
-Not throttle back the speed at which content comes to you
-Not prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes
-To make internet accessible to low income families
>>> John Henshaw on Twitter

General: US, Britain must be prepared
to defend undersea cables from Russian attack
The cables which crisscross the world’s oceans carry 95 percent of communications and over $10 trillion in daily transactions.

Americans’ opinion of federal government drops again
Pew Research
With a new president in the White House, the lower ratings for the federal government’s performance are driven largely by Democrats, who are much more negative today than they were two years ago.

NASA says it’s now sure other solar systems like ours exists
…. the latest discovery made using their Kepler space observatory. They found an eighth planet circling a distant star, proving once and for all that our solar system isn’t the only one of its kind in the cosmos.


Suing the EPA
Group of family farmers realize
they were idiots for voting Trump

…. lawsuit on behalf of 40,000 contract poultry farmers, 900,000 cattle ranchers, and 70,000 hog farmers in America’s heartland …
“Four packers control 82 percent of the market. And they’ve carved the country into regions and don’t compete with each other. Farmers feel threatened by packers because in their area, there’s only one choice.”

Famous tourist sites rated meh
The Guardian

> Empire State building: You can’t see it from here
> Leaning Tower of Pisa: Synthetic and unworthy
> Little Mermaid Statue: Is that it? Really?
> Mount Rushmore: Take me to the gift shop
> Waikiki Beach: Sadly underwhelming
> Plymouth Rock: Glued together with concrete

Charges upgraded against accused Charlottesville killer
He is accused of ramming his car into anti-fascism protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 35 others.

How Deutsche Bank Enabled A Dirty Offshore Bank To Move Dark Money
Buzz Feed
The German giant processed hundreds of millions of dollars of suspicious transactions into the US for a Cyprus bank awash with dirty money linked to the Kremlin, Syrian chemical weapons, organised crime, and ISIS.

The mad dash to bring generic boner drug to market
> The mad dash into the new Viagra era began at 5 a.m. in Memphis, Tennessee.
> That’s when Kenneth Roberson awoke on Monday, Dec. 11, unable to sleep because of the task ahead of him. Some 250,000 tablets of sildenafil, the generic name for erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, were arriving at the warehouse he manages.
> His job: to get those little pills—white ones, not blue—to 5,000 pharmacies across the U.S. by the next morning.
> So began one of the most choreographed moments in recent pharmaceuticals history—a race between two drug giants vying to cash in now that the blockbuster drug has lost its patent protection.


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