Weekend 4.7 & 4.8

Whistleblower: There’s a “genuine risk”
that info on 87 million Americans 
is stored in Russia

“It could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia, given the fact that the professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the UK and to Russia.” 

NRA “extremely disappointed” as Massachusetts judge
upholds a ban on assault weapons
Boston Herald

“The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to bear arms.”
— U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young


Keystone admits to 10,000-barrel pipeline spill
(aka >400,000 gallons)
Aberdeen (N.D.) American News
— The amount of crude oil that leaked from a pipeline in Marshall County is nearly twice as much as originally believed.
— Some 9,700 barrels of oil escaped into farmland near Amherst when the Keystone Pipeline broke the morning of Nov. 16. That total is according to Robynn Tysver, a spokeswoman with TransCanada, the owner of the line.The original estimate was 5,000 barrels.
— That would make the spill the seventh largest onshore oil or petroleum product spills since 2010.

May have committed a felony
Screwball Congressman pulls gun at constituent meeting
Charlotte Observer
normanROCK HILL, S.C. > When U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill took out his loaded gun at a meet-and-greet Friday morning with voters, he may not have been prepared for the reaction he’d face.

“No responsible gun owner would use a loaded firearm as a prop. No responsible member of the United States House of Representatives would act with such indifference to public safety.”

Oh please!
S. Carolina GOP lunatics say they’d vote to secede if gun reform passes
The Hill
How’d that work out last time? 

In celebration of National Beer Day, this graphic from City Lab

Craft brewing is more concentrated in more highly educated states, with a modest correlation to the share of adults that are college grads (0.32).  And craft brewing is more closely associated with higher levels of happiness and well-being (0.47).

Scared EPA chief hired 20 agents to protect him
— Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.
— Pruitt hired a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.
— A security detail guards Pruitt day and night, even on family vacations.
— EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said late Friday that Pruitt has faced “unprecedented” death threats against him and his family.

Backpage seized, founder charged with human trafficking
Arizona Central
lacey— Authorities had spent months probing whether Backpage, the online classified advertising website he co-founded, served as a willing participant in the online sale of sex, including with underage girls.
— An attorney for Michael Lacey, Larry Kazan,  told The Arizona Republic at the federal courthouse in Phoenix on Friday afternoon that his client had been charged. Kazan said he did not know how many counts Lacey faced because the 93-count indictment was sealed.

Thousands of such lawsuits pending
Cancer-stricken man wins $37 million over J&J talcum powder
— The lawsuit was brought by New Jersey resident Stephen Lanzo, who said he developed mesothelioma after inhaling dust that was generated through his regular use of J&J talc powder products since his birth in 1972.
— J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, faces talc-related lawsuits by 6,610 plaintiffs nationally, largely based on claims it failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer by using its products for feminine hygiene.

What’s wrong with Trump cultists’ brains?
A neuroscientist lays it out
Raw Story
Usually, Raw Story specializes in publishing political spin from last night’s TV shows. Not here. This article seems to have been written by someone with … actual knowledge!
(The article’s author, Bobby Azarian, is a neuroscientist affiliated with George Mason University and a science writer. His research has been published in journals such as Cognition & Emotion and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.)

“It gives you a life!”
When robots milk cows …
— Those two daily appointments with the cows were the fixed poles of their life; everything else had to be arranged around them. There were no weekends off, and no holidays. If there was a big family get-together like a wedding, Bill Shuler says, they’d get there late or leave early. “If you’re a small operation and you can’t hire help, you’re a virtual slave to your farm. You can’t get away,” he says.
… On small dairy farms, though, which were among the first to adopt this technology, the robots are replacing the labor of the families that own those farms. Instead of displacing people, Bill Schuler hopes that the robots will help his sons stay right where they are, on the farm.

“If you’re a small operation and you can’t hire help, you’re a virtual slave to your farm. You can’t get away.”

The literary elite looks in the mirror,
and doesn’t see enough of America

Only about 3% of Americans read literary fiction. Publishing’s leading voices are shook up about the lack of reach into “real America,” and their anxiety hass gotten worse since Trump’s election. They are asking themselves how literature became so detached from the contours of American life in so many parts of the country.

100 female attorneys head for Oklahoma capitol to back teachers
Newser re-write of Tulsa World article
Becki Murphy tells the Tulsa World that she became angry after hearing language from lawmakers about teachers she thought sounded derogatory. Plus, she has two kids who attend public schools. “I just had it,” she tells the newspaper. “I asked myself, ‘Can we get a bunch of women out there and see if we can fill this gap?'”

$10 million award
California man jailed six years because cops faked evidence, jury finds

San Francisco Chronicle
trulove— A federal court jury awarded $10 million in damages Friday to a San Francisco man who spent six years in prison before his murder conviction was thrown out.
— Jamal Trulove accused four San Francisco police officers of framing him for a 2007 killing at the city’s Sunnydale public housing complex. An eight-member jury in Oakland heard three weeks of testimony and deliberated for two days before unanimously finding Friday that the two lead homicide inspectors on the case, Michael Johnson and Maureen D’Amico, had violated Trulove’s rights by fabricating evidence against him and withholding evidence that might have helped him.
>>> The bizarre connection of this case to “reality TV”
NY Post, January, 2010
Interestingly enough, the NY Post headline named Trulove a “murderer” before he was (falsely) convicted. Hmmm.

11,000 drug cases dismissed in Massachsetts
— because state lab employee went rogue
Courthouse News Service
Massachusetts Drug Lab— Sonja Farak worked as a chemist in the state’s Amherst drug lab until 2013 when she was arrested for stealing cocaine from the facility. Farak admitted that, from 2004 until her arrest almost a decade later, she made a daily habit of treating the drug lab’s evidence as a personal narcotics buffet.

One thought on “Weekend 4.7 & 4.8

  1. Lots of good stuff here … Dunning Kruger effect (which seems to be metastasizing of late), and the reality that 3% of the population reads literary fiction. Both thoughts interesting — having a friendly debate with my Trump-supporting friends ain’t going to work, and damn, I’m glad to be writing commercial fiction!


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