The long New Year’s weekend

Strange, strange doings as US Chief Justice
intervenes on behalf of foreign country
in Muller probe
…. Reporters who uncovered this baffled…

Deep-fake videos keep getting easier to make,
and the victims are most often women

— The videos have also been weaponised disproportionately against women, representing a new and degrading means of humiliation, harassment and abuse. The fakes are explicitly detailed, posted on popular porn sites and increasingly challenging to detect. And although their legality hasn’t been tested in court, experts say they may be protected by the First Amendment (in the United States) – even though they might also qualify as defamation, identity theft or fraud.
— Disturbingly realistic fakes have been made with the faces of both celebrities and women who don’t live in the spotlight, and the actress Scarlett Johansson says she worries that “it’s just a matter of time before any one person is targeted” by a lurid forgery.

> Your tax dollars at work
> Kids directed in to battle by remote control

Saudis using child soldiers in Yemen
…. “five fighters who have returned from Yemen and another about to depart said that children made up at least 20 percent of their units. Two said children were more than 40 percent.”
“To keep a safe distance from the battle lines, their Saudi or Emirati overseers commanded the Sudanese fighters almost exclusively by remote control, directing them to attack or retreat through radio headsets and GPS systems provided to the Sudanese officers in charge of each unit ….”

More retailers refusing cash

cash ban
Chain restaurants Sweetgreen and Dig Inn have stopped accepting cash at nearly all of their locations, as have a Starbucks in Seattle and some pubs in the U.K. Massachusetts is currently the only state that requires retailers to take cash, but the inconvenient and sometimes awkward frustrations caused by cash bans have prompted lawmakers in New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia and D.C. to consider taking up similar legislation.

Kelly spins his time at the White House
The Guardian
“Illegal immigrants, overwhelmingly, are not bad people,” Kelly said, describing many migrants as victims misled by traffickers. “I have nothing but compassion for them, the young kids.”
…. “If you want to stop illegal immigration, stop US demand for drugs, and expand economic opportunity” in Central America.
…. “To be honest, it’s not a wall.”
>>>> And quoting the same interview, this from NBC News:
…. Seeking to deflect blame for the deaths if migrant children, Kelly says: “What happened was Jeff Sessions, he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border that resulted in both people being detained and the family separation,” Kelly said. “He surprised us.”

Trump golf course a crime scene, NJ prosecutors say
…. Illegal immigrants working there …
NY Daily News
— Anibal Romero, a Newark attorney who represents several undocumented immigrants who used to work at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, said Friday he recently met with investigators from the state attorney general’s office and handed over fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that management at the club allegedly procured and gave his clients, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz.

Anibal Romero joinsclients who were Trump employees: Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz.

Trade Czar: No Parliament vote, maybe no Brexit

Cyber-bullying now a crime that could send you to jail in Michigan
Detroit Metro Times

Wing-Nut Republicans give up on “investigation” of Mueller, FBI

Computer virus hits L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune

Paycheck to paycheck: A way of life for much of America
Philadelphia Inquirer
— “It’s astronomical what people need just to make it month to month,” said Heidi Shierholz, a former chief economist at the Department of Labor. “Given the high cost of transportation, housing, health care. … There is often no wriggle room.”

Kansas boy, 16, graduates from high school —
and from Harvard
moral.pngBraxton Moral was born in Kansas, the youngest of four children. In some ways, he is just like any other teenager. He loves video games and movies. He plays tennis and goes to church …

Triumph of the anti-vaxxers
Euro traveler brings another measles scare to NJ
CBS Local

FEMA flip flops. First they were going to quit selling flood insurance, but then, the backlash

When cops fall prey to pills, heroin
Stars & Stripes
copaddict— Every mile brought Lt. Dan Gosnell closer to relief. His body ached for the little white pills, though his mind shouted to turn back.
— “What the hell are you doing?” the young police commander asked himself out loud.
— His pickup cruised east through Harford County. The Aberdeen police station was 20 miles ahead. Inside of him, a fever burned. Days had passed since he swallowed the last of his pain pills.
— The police station lab held a cache of unwanted prescription medicine dropped off by Harford County families. Only two officers had a key; Gosnell was one. The promising 36-year-old lieutenant had decided to betray his oath, badge and best friends.
— In a twist of fate that would scar a proud department, the man in charge of the drug evidence had become an addict himself. He sometimes took 24 pills a day.

Tinder date goes horribly wrong: Woman stabbed, cops use stun gun on maniac, who dies at hospital
Fox Boston

Hedge fund makes last-minute bid for failing Sears
USA Today

Chaos Reigns in North Carolina as Elections Board Dissolves
Courthouse News Service

Celebrity chef Zimmern sent to the dark side
after calling Chinese food “horse shit”
NYDN Page 6
“I think I’m saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horse shit restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest.”
Ruth Tam in WaPo:
“He has the noble cause of ‘saving’ white people from eating bad Chinese food. When Chinese people make Americanized Chinese food for white people, Zimmern calls it ‘horse shit.’ But when he does it, it’s ‘unique.’ ”

Record heat in parts of Australia — 120 degrees
Malay Mail

US gov’t advises 800,000 furloughed workers to “barter for rent”
CBS News
provided sample letters that furloughed workers can send to their landlords in case they can’t make their rent payments. One of the letters suggests the workers could barter handyman services in exchange for rent money.

US student debt levels set a new record in 2018—
here’s how much the typical borrower owes

Two children have died in US border custody this month.
Before that, none in a decade. Why now?
USA Today
Rep. Joaquin Castro, of Texas, said many questions remain unanswered regarding the deaths, but noted the “lack of adequate medical supplies, equipment and resources” at CBP detention facilities to treat migrants and the agents working there.
— Castro also suggested that many more migrants were taking more dangerous paths into the country because of the Trump administration’s policy of turning asylum-seekers away from legal ports of entry. This policy, he said, was “putting families and children in great danger.”

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