Thurs. Aug 2


So let’s move on, shall we?


Druggies, troublemakers, and bribes
Army doing just about anything to get, keep soldiers
Army Times
— Under the gun to increase the size of the force, the Army is issuing more waivers for past drug use or bad conduct by recruits, and pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses this year to attract and retain soldiers.
— According to data obtained by The Associated Press, nearly one-third of all the waivers granted by the Army in the first six months of this fiscal year were for conduct and drug problems, mainly involving marijuana use. That number is significantly higher than the other three military services, and represents a steady increase over the past three years.
— At the same time, the Army increased bonuses by more than 30 percent this year, with enlistment money going to recruits for high-tech jobs such as satellite communications and cryptologists. Recruits in those jobs can get up to an additional $30,000 for a five-year enlistment.

A Bloomberg Interactive
√–Technically, this is not news. But most readers will learn a lot from it. For example, each year the US converts about 1 million acres to urban land. That’s equivalent to L.A., Houston and Phoenix combined.
… and 40% of land in the contiguous US is devoted to livestock.

2,400 N.C. teachers fail math exams …
but is the fault in the teachers or the exams?
Charlotte Observer
– Almost 2,400 North Carolina elementary school teachers have failed the math portion of their licensing exams, which puts their careers in jeopardy, since the state hired Pearson publishing company to give the exam in 2013, according to a report presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday.
– Failure rates have spiked as schools around the state struggle to find teachers for the youngest children. Education officials are now echoing what frustrated teachers have been saying: The problem may lie with the exams rather than the educators.

Starbucks confirms Alibaba partnership,
will expand delivery to 2,000 stores in China
Mad Money
– Starbucks has officially struck a partnership with Alibaba Group with a multi-pronged plan to boost the beverage company’s digital and physical presence in China, Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson told CNBC on Wednesday.

Pope says to hell with the death penalty
… Church’s teachings about to change
— Pope Francis has decreed that the death penalty is “inadmissible” under all circumstances and that the Catholic Church must work to abolish it, changing official church teaching to reflect his view that all life is sacred and there is no justification for state-sponsored executions.

Laptop battery fire could bring down airliner, FAA concludes
— A single personal electronic device that overheats and catches fire in checked luggage on an airliner can overpower the aircraft’s fire suppression system, potentially creating a fire that could rage uncontrolled, according to new government research.
— Regulators had thought that single lithium battery fires would be knocked down by the flame-retardant gas required in passenger airliner cargo holds. But tests conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration found the suppression systems can’t extinguish a battery fire that combines with other highly flammable material, such as the gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics commonly carried by travelers.

Amazon vs. Trump over US Postal Service
— Inc  and other retail and logistics companies said on Wednesday they had started a new group to lobby to keep the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) package delivery services “reliable and affordable.”
— The announcement comes days before a task force set up by President Donald Trump is due to recommend postal reforms to the White House. Trump has said without evidence that the world’s largest online retailer is making the postal service incur losses, mandating the task force review USPS pricing on package delivery.

518 queries may signal outbreak from single Chipotle
— Staff at the local health department has been able to interview more than 200 people who self-reported nausea, diarrhea and fever, among other symptoms, after eating at the restaurant in Powell, Ohio.

Trump & pals want more big game trophies, and these folks try to stop them
— Animal advocacy groups filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to shut down U.S. President Donald Trump’s board advising on federal rules for importing big game, saying it is stacked with trophy hunters and politically connected donors and cannot serve the public interest.
— The lawsuit said the “deceptively named” International Wildlife Conservation Council actually promotes the hunting of and importing of body parts from “imperiled species” such as African elephants, lions and rhinos.

Racist posts unearthed, written by latest NYT editorial board hire
The Daily Caller

“oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get from being cruel to old white men.”

Q-Anon, the whacko conspiracy theory embraced by many on the right
The conspiracy theory centers on a mysterious and anonymous online figure — “Q.”
— “Q” began posting on anonymous Internet message boards in October 2017. The person or persons behind the “Q” persona claim to possess a top-level security clearance and evidence of a worldwide criminal conspiracy.
It goes like this: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t actually investigating Trump and his 2016 campaign for their possible ties to Russia, and he’s not really looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. …

19 states to sue to stop Trump auto emission rollback
— California and 18 other U.S. states said on Thursday they would sue to stop a Trump administration proposal to weaken Obama-era federal fuel efficiency standards, arguing the United States has an obligation to protect the environment for future generations.

The Hill
— The National Archives on Thursday warned it won’t be able to fulfill a GOP request for documents on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until October, throwing a potential wrench into Republicans’ confirmation timeline.

3 Ukranian hackers arrested in massive theft of US data
at restaurants, casinos, retailers
— Officials identified the three arrested FIN7 leaders as Ukrainian nationals Dmytro Fedorov, 44, Fedir Hladyr, 33,and Andrii Kolpakov, 30.
— Hladyr, the group’s alleged systems administrator, is in federal custody in Seattle after being arrested in Germany in January and extradited to the United States in early May.
— Fedorov, who allegedly supervised other FIN7 hackers, and Kolpakov, another purported supervisor for the group, remain in custody in Poland and Spain respectively pending their extradition to the United States.

Fish losing their sense of smell
… researchers found that sea bass exposed to the more acidic conditions swam less and were less likely to react when encountering the smell of a predator, offered to them in the form of very dilute monkfish bile. Also, they were more likely to “freeze,” a sign of anxiety.
— “… the longer they were in high CO2, the worse they fared.” The scientists also measured the ability of the fish to detect certain odors in different levels of acidity by recording their nervous system activity.

How Apple overcame its flops to become
world’s first trillion-dollar company
It’s easy to forget that Apple was once a niche brand, compared with Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. Investors who smelled a good thing in 1980, when Apple went public at $22 a share, have enjoyed a more than 40,000 percent return.

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