Tue Aug. 21

T H E   L A T E S T  . . .

Manafort guilty on 8 counts
~ Paul Manafort was found guilty Tuesday on eight counts in his tax- and bank-fraud trial in Alexandria, Virginia, but the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts after jurors said they could not reach a verdict on those charges.
~ The conviction of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is the first secured at trial by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Manafort is also expected to stand trial next month on a separate set of federal charges in Washington, D.C.
~ In a note sent just after 4 p.m. on their fourth day of deliberations, jurors told U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III they had a verdict on eight of the counts but couldn’t agree on the remaining counts.
~ Five of the guilty verdicts were for filing false tax documents, and the other three involved foreign bank account registration and bank fraud.

Cohen cops a plea
— Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer,” pleaded guilty Tuesday to campaign-finance violations and other charges, saying he and Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
— The guilty plea came almost at the same moment former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted in Alexandria, Virginia, of eight financial crimes in the first trial to come out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling Russia investigation.
— In a plea bargain reached with federal prosecutors, Cohen, 51, pleaded guilty to eight counts in all, including tax evasion and making a false statement to a financial institution. He could get about four to five years in prison at sentencing Dec. 12.
— In entering the plea, Cohen did not specifically name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate.” But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal.

A tweet from the past …


Today’s other top five news stories:

  1. Facebook trust ratings
    > Issued by a company most don’t trust
  2. A revolution in corn farming
    > No fertilizer needed
  3. Plastic in your beer
    > Don’t worry, it’s tiny?
  4. A plan to handcuff lobbyists
    > Elizabeth Warren’s DC dream
  5. Measels, a killer again
    > Anti-vaxxers, take note.


Facebook trust ratings?
~ Sneaky, untrustworthy company to issue trust ratings on its users. Makes sense.

Researchers say this corn creates its own fertilizer
and the economics and environmental prospects are staggering
USA Today
> The plants in Mexico have bizarre fingerlike roots sticking out of their stalks. The roots secrete a goopy mucus, in which bacteria live. The bacteria take nitrogen from the air — which plants can’t use — and convert it to a different form of nitrogen that they can use. The plants soak up the fixed nitrogen in the gel through the fingerlike roots.
> The nitrogen is a critical nutrient for all plants; it’s the primary ingredient in chemical fertilizers.

Microplastics, even in your beer
… microplastics are in drinking water. In beer. In sea salt. In fish and shellfish. How microplastics get into animals is something of a mystery, and Chelsea Rochman is trying to solve it.micro-plastics-3-46067ed8a6176d049fc040a53163230d1bf4bd88-s800-c85.jpg

Warren outlines radical plan to deflate power of lobbyists
The Intercept
> In broad strokes, Warren is attempting to take the profit motive out of public service by making it extremely difficult for former lawmakers and government officials to cash in on their government experience, while simultaneously giving Congress and federal agencies the resources needed to effectively govern without the motivated assistance of K Street.
> Warren proposes much stricter restrictions on the revolving door between public service and lobbying, but, more fundamentally, flat-out bans on any lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, an industry that has come under increased scrutiny as a result of the trial of Paul Manafort, who made his fortune carrying water for foreign governments in Washington, often whose interests ran against those of the U.S.

37 died in Europe — of measels
Global News Canada
Vaccine skepticism remains high in many parts of Europe after past immunization problems

“Blood on the hands” of cities that allow E-Scooters

Feds say let states decide on coal pollution
MAGA! Make America Gritty Again

Teens are reading a lot less — why it matters
The Conversation
> By 2016, the average 12th grader said they spent a staggering six hours a day texting, on social media, and online during their free time. And that’s just three activities; if other digital media activities were included, that estimate would surely rise.
> Teens didn’t always spend that much time with digital media. Online time has doubled since 2006, and social media use moved from a periodic activity to a daily one. By 2016, nearly nine out of 10 12th-grade girls said they visited social media sites every day.
> Meanwhile, time spent playing video games rose from under an hour a day to an hour and a half on average. One out of 10 8th graders in 2016 spent 40 hours a week or more gaming – the time commitment of a full-time job.

Dozens of men duped by woman on Tinder, tricked into massive dating competition in New York’s Union Square
The Gothamist

Watchdog agency sees no evidence N. Korea is quitting nukes
Raw Story

Girl badly burned in web “fire challenge”
Detroit Free Press
Timiyah Landers of Detroit poured rubbing alcohol on herself and the lit it on fire, according to Fox 2 Detroit. She was rushed to the hospital, where she will require multiple surgeries after suffering burns on 49 percent of her body, the report said.The fire challenge has been around since at least 2012. It involves pouring rubbing alcohol on yourself and then lighting it on fire before rushing to a bathtub or other body of water to extinguish it, all while filming. Because rubbing alcohol is a thin liquid, it usually burns quickly and sometimes does no harm.

Microsoft takes down Russian hacker sites

Pennsylvania mayor to trial in “pay to play” bribery
Courthouse News Service
Reading mayor Vaughn Spencer, 71, faces nine counts of bribery, one of wire fraud and one of conspiracy. Prosecutor Wzorek explained Monday that he will present evidence over the next week that Spencer’s office was involved in a series of pay-to-play schemes.

“In its simplest terms, this means, ‘give me money and I’ll give you a contract with the City of Reading,’” said Wzorek.

Michigan health director will stand trial in Flint deaths
> Nick Lyon and other state department officials were aware of a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Genesee County in January 2015. But the department did not issue a public advisory about the outbreak until January 2016.
> The department did advise doctors and medical institutions in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, at least a dozen people died from Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, and dozens more were sickened. Evidence connecting the Legionella bacteria outbreak to Flint’s ill-fated drinking water switch in 2014 is disputed.

Quantum enganglement theory gets boost from old, old, old starlight
> On Monday, a group of researchers from MIT published the results from recent experiments that used the light from stars emitted 7.8 billion and 12.2 billion years ago to help confirm the reality of quantum entanglement.
> These results help settle a long standing debate in physics about whether entanglement is just an illusion that can actually be explained using principles of classical physics. These new results suggest that entanglement actually occurs because if it didn’t exist the universe would somehow have to have “known” 7.8 billion years ago that these MIT scientists would perform these experiments in 2018.
> Quantum entanglement is the theory that particles can be connected in such a way that measuring one particle can instantaneously convey information about that measurement to the other particle, regardless of the distance between them. It almost sounds like magic, which is probably why it received a healthy dose of criticism from the physics community when the theory was first proposed nearly 100 years ago.

That purple streak in the sky is STEVE …
… and nobody has any clue what it is

Live Science

Inmates on strike over “modern slavery”
The Guardian
> The first part of the prisons likely to be hit will be the kitchens, where stoves will remain unlit, ready-meals unheated and thousands of breakfasts uncooked.
> From there the impact will fan out. The laundry will be left unwashed, prison corridors un-mopped, and the lawns on the external grounds ring-fenced with barbed wire will go uncut.
> On Tuesday, America’s vast army of incarcerated men and women – at 2.3m of them they form by far the largest imprisoned population in the world – will brace itself for what has the potential to be the largest prison strike in US history.
> Nineteen days of peaceful protest are planned across the nation, organised largely by prisoners themselves.

America’s rich moving to the coasts
and poor are moving inland
CBS News
> America’s wealthy households are increasingly moving to coastal cities on both sides of the country, but those with more modest incomes are either relocating to or being pushed into the nation’s Rust Belt, according to a new study.
> That’s creating “income sorting” across the country, with expensive cities like Los Angeles, New York and Seattle drawing wealthier residents. For instance, Americans who move to San Francisco earn nearly $13,000 more than those who move away, the study found. Conversely, those who are moving into less expensive inland cities such as Detroit or Pittsburgh earn up to $5,000 less than those who are leaving.

Protestors bring down NC campus Confederate monument
The Daily Tar Heel
silent-sam-confederate-statue-chapel-hill“I watched it groan and shiver and come asunder,” said Dwayne Dixon, an Asian studies professor at UNC who has been active in anti-racist movements. “I mean, it feels biblical. It’s thundering and starting to rain. It’s almost like heaven is trying to wash away the soiled contaminated remains.”

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