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Donald Trump Can’t Even Pardon a Damn Turkey Without Mentioning Barack Obama

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 at 14:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House counsel’s office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked.

I recognize that there’s, like a 90 percent chance that this particular reference is a joke, even if Donald Trump’s obsession with Barack Obama is 100 percent real. In any event, it’s great fun to imagine how that dialogue might have played out.

DONALD TRUMP [excitedly rushing into office]: Hey! Hey, Don!
DON McGAHN [startled]: Uh, what’s going on, boss?
TRUMP: Can I revoke He Who Shall Not Be Named’s pardons of the last two turkeys?
McGAHN: [laughs politely]
TRUMP [frowning]: What? What’s funny?
McGAHN [blushing]: Oh, uh… Wait, are you serious?
TRUMP [growing visibly annoyed]: Why would I joke about something like that?
McGAHN [sweating a little]: Sir, respectfully, I don’t know if you’ve been following the news lately, but our legal team here is kind of busy with some very important stuff right now!

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Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 at 14:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


Many people realize that smartphones track their locations. But what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card?

Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

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UTF8 domains

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 at 13:46 by John Sinteur in category: News

It’s crazy that `example.com⧸foo.zip` is a valid domain (punycode `example.xn--comfoo-kx4d.zip`)

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How a half-educated tech elite delivered us into chaos

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 at 0:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


One of the biggest puzzles about our current predicament with fake news and the weaponisation of social media is why the folks who built this technology are so taken aback by what has happened. Exhibit A is the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, whose political education I recently chronicled. But he’s not alone. In fact I’d say he is quite representative of many of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech world. We have a burgeoning genre of “OMG, what have we done?” angst coming from former Facebook and Google employees who have begun to realise that the cool stuff they worked on might have had, well, antisocial consequences.

Put simply, what Google and Facebook have built is a pair of amazingly sophisticated, computer-driven engines for extracting users’ personal information and data trails, refining them for sale to advertisers in high-speed data-trading auctions that are entirely unregulated and opaque to everyone except the companies themselves.

The purpose of this infrastructure was to enable companies to target people with carefully customised commercial messages and, as far as we know, they are pretty good at that. (Though some advertisers are beginning to wonder if these systems are quite as good as Google and Facebook claim.) And in doing this, Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and co wrote themselves licences to print money and build insanely profitable companies.

It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid?

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The Blockchain Might Scare the Gig Economy to Death

Posted on November 21st, 2017 at 23:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


One day 20 years from now we’ll wake up and all of our interactions and performance will be tracked on the blockchain and will directly determine our income and socioeconomic status, and on the one hand we’ll get pretty good customer service, but on the other hand we’ll be terrified all the time. It is the logical endpoint of the “gig economy.”

The thing is that this omniscient blockchain of terror will be run by Facebook, not Skedaddle. If you just come out and say that your mission is to build a dystopia of economic precarity and constant surveillance, then you do not have the soft skills to actually carry out that mission. (Never mind if you say that your mission is “to completely take down Yelp and Facebook reviews, while completely eliminating tipping.”) If you say that your mission is “to make the world more open and connected,” then you have the ruthlessness, and the facility with euphemism, to actually do it.

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  1. “Don’t be evil” – didn’t I hear that somewhere?

Amazon Key Flaw Could Let Rogue Deliverymen Disable Your Camera

Posted on November 21st, 2017 at 23:17 by John Sinteur in category: News

I noped the heck out of this a while ago. Unsurprisingly then:


When Amazon launched its Amazon Key service last month, it also offered a remedy for anyone—realistically, most people—who might be creeped out that the service gives random strangers unfettered access to your home. That security antidote? An internet-enabled camera called Cloud Cam, designed to sit opposite your door and reassuringly record every Amazon Key delivery.

But now security researchers have demonstrated that with a simple program run from any computer in Wi-Fi range, that camera can be not only disabled but frozen. A viewer watching its live or recorded stream sees only a closed door, even as their actual door is opened and someone slips inside. That attack would potentially enable rogue delivery people to stealthily steal from Amazon customers, or otherwise invade their inner sanctum.

And note that I’m not exempting other suppliers from being terminally stupid with this. On the contrary. We need to call this effort by Amazon for what it really is. If the problem Amazon is solving is “having your stuff stolen by strange”r, why does the solution they offer involve allowing strangers access to even more of your stuff? What we do know is Amazon (with every other big biz) the goal is data. Who enters your house and at what times. For F*ck sake, they data mine what you look at, what you buy, what you watch, what you listen too. With Alexa they data mine your voice, who you call. Does anyone think Amazon is accruing massive debt for package delivery?

Amazon has pretty smart people working for them. Surely they recognize this thing violates an insane amount of principles in security: Least Privilege and Separation of Domains, Separation of roles and Segregation of duties. Just to name a few. These weaknesses are built in the fabric of the design. As a general rule, weaknesses at the concept levels cannot be fixed the design level, weaknesses at the design level cannot be fixed at the architecture level, and weaknesses at the architecture level cannot be fixed at the implementation or coding levels. This entire idea is fucked from the start. And yet they go on with it.

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Abandoned ruins of Soviet space shuttles

Posted on November 21st, 2017 at 10:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


“In the end, the Russians developed a system that was more capable, more versatile and safer than the space shuttle, but by the time it was ready to fly, the Cold War was coming to an end and the project had lost much of its political support,”

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Weather today in Atlanta, mostly dusty with the chance of an occasional bus.

Posted on November 21st, 2017 at 10:08 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Trump nominates man whose firm tripled price of insulin to regulate drug companies

Posted on November 19th, 2017 at 11:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


Donald Trump’s pick for health secretary, Alex Azar, was previously an executive at a pharmaceutical company that repeatedly raised the prices of its drugs and tripled the cost of its top-selling insulin over the five years he served as a company president, it has emerged.

Next up, Trump nominates known puppy kicker to department of adorable puppies, nominates former MMA fighter/pro-wrestler to run department of Anti-Violence, nominates Betsy DeVos to department of education, nominates Harvey Weinstein to run department against sexual abuse, nominates David Duke to run Office of Civil Rights, and Adolf Hitler as ambassador to Israel.

 well, that escalated quickly

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  1. Hah…I saw what you did there. Ms. DeV. is real person, in a real office, calice.

  2. Wow, Sue. Cursing in Québecois! You really have acclimatised. 😃

Apple Begins High Sierra Automatic Rollout

Posted on November 18th, 2017 at 21:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


I understand Apple’s desire to move its user base to High Sierra. Having as many Macs in the world as possible on the most recent version of macOS is good for the company, third-party developers and ultimately users.

That said, this approach feels too heavy-handed to me. I don’t have a problem with the notification itself. It feels like nagging, but it may be the only way some users may hear that a new version of macOS is available.

However, having the OS download the 5.21 GB Installer in the background is some serious bullshit. Many users have limited disk space, bandwidth, or both.
Clicking Install on the notification should trigger the download, not the other way around.

Ah, so that’s where my disk space went.

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  1. I don’t see the problem with downloading update data you did’t ask for …. oh, I’m sorry! I thought you were talking about Microsoft.

  2. No matter who you’re fanboy for, this kind of crap is wrong.

  3. Agreed John. I don’t know what Apple was thinking. It seems to be a pattern these days. Even game consoles sell you a disk and then want you to download several gigs of data to play the game.

RIP Malcolm Young

Posted on November 18th, 2017 at 18:37 by John Sinteur in category: News

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An Ohio lawmaker who routinely touted his Christian faith and anti-LGBT views has resigned after..

Posted on November 18th, 2017 at 17:36 by John Sinteur in category: News

I’m sure you can figure that out without even reading the article.

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Trump Fans Want Hillary Clinton Impeached—Even Though She’s Not President

Posted on November 15th, 2017 at 22:34 by John Sinteur in category: News

Rep. Luis Guitierrez said it brilliantly yesterday during the Judiciary hearing.

“Before I begin, I think I have a solution that could allow the committee to move onto more important matters like gun control and immigration. Your side clearly wants an investigation of Hillary Clinton, and our side has been begging for months to hold hearings and start an investigation of the Trump administration and campaign’s improper ties to Mr. Putin and the Russian government. My solution would save the American taxpayers a lot of grief and a lot of money by eliminating the need for the investigation. I propose we simply go to the president and the former secretary of state and ask them both to resign.”

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  1. Y’know, if Hillary VOLUNTARILY nailed herself to a cross in the public square, doused herself with fire (hard to do with hands nailed to the cross but go with it for a minute), lit a match, and immolated herself on a live telecast hosted by Rush Limbaugh, it would STILL NOT BE ENOUGH for these a**holes.

  2. doused herself with gasoline I meant to say… dang it!

The Challenge | Best IT-professionals 2017

Posted on November 15th, 2017 at 21:52 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. John, the camera loves you! You don’t even need to say all those sensible things. Though they are much appreciated.

  2. It drags a bit at the beginning for those of us who understand little Dutch, but picks up immensely at around the 35 minute mark. Dunno why…


Posted on November 15th, 2017 at 0:03 by John Sinteur in category: News

Here is evidence that Bill Hicks was right.

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  1. Some poor woman is going to be busy mopping that floor…

The “Paula Principle,” a corollary of the “Peter Principle,” explains why why women work below their abilities

Posted on November 14th, 2017 at 23:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


The idea that employees are promoted “to the level of their incompetence” has become a truism in management circles. The satirical 1969 treatise on business and life, The Peter Principle, pointed out that if success in one role leads inevitably to advancement, incompetent employees will occupy every high post, having reached the job they don’t possess the skills to succeed at.

But for women in the workplace, unwarranted advancement is not really the problem.

Most women work in jobs that are below their competency level, argues Tom Schuller, who frames that point as a corollary to the Peter Principle: “The Paula Principle.”

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Hannity’s fans embarrass themselves by destroying $120 coffee makers in defense of child molestation

Posted on November 13th, 2017 at 22:17 by John Sinteur in category: News


Instead of lashing out at Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of molesting young girls when he was in his 30s, hardcore conservatives are instead furious at companies that have severed ties with Sean Hannity following his vocal defense of deplorable Moore.

Hannity lost five advertisers over the weekend — including coffee machine-maker Keurig — as brands flee his program rather than associating themselves with an apparent defense of pedophilia.

The advertising exodus prompted a backlash among Hannity loyalists who started trashing their own $120 kitchen counter appliances, suggesting that Democrats would be upset they had done so.

We’ve now reached the point in human existence where anti-environment Republicans are smashing environmentally unfriendly coffee makers because they won’t support pedophilia. Let them have Nestle Instant Coffee.

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Ferry McFerryface to be name of new Sydney ferry after public vote

Posted on November 13th, 2017 at 21:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


Ferry McFerryface is now officially the name of the last ferry in a new fleet of inner harbour vessels.

The name was voted on by hundreds of Sydneysiders in a competition which allowed the public to be part of maritime history.

However, the most votes actually went to the name Boaty McBoatface, the notable title Brits voted to call a new research vessel last year.

But Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said they wanted to avoid a double up.

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Codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, buprenorphine, fentanyl: Ranking the strength of opioids

Posted on November 13th, 2017 at 15:20 by John Sinteur in category: News

 Not all visuals need to be able to fit on a poster to get the point across


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Could Rome Have Had an Industrial Revolution?

Posted on November 13th, 2017 at 15:02 by John Sinteur in category: News

All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, and the industrial revolution, what have the Romans ever done for us?

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Why has Fox News abandoned Benghazi?

Posted on November 11th, 2017 at 22:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


The drop-off is stark and inexplicable. In the 20 months following the attacks, Fox News ran in excess of 1,000 segments on Benghazi, according to a September 2014 report by Media Matters. The focus remained intact even after that, spiking upon the release of the “13 Hours” book and movie — a compelling account from the security operators who saved many American lives that night. “This movie, if it’s really popular, is going to force [Hillary Clinton] to answer some questions,” said Steve Doocy on “Fox & Friends” about the movie, which premiered during the 2016 presidential primary season.

So, why would Fox News go nuts about a Benghazi movie in early 2016, yet yawn over a Benghazi trial in 2017? We here at the Erik Wemple Blog are stumped. Could it be that Fox News really didn’t care all that much about terrorism and American lives, after all? No way. Could it be that the Fox News Benghazi Editor has the flu or is on paternity leave? Could it be that all that Benghazi coverage strained resources at Fox News, which hauls $1.5 billion in profits? Could it be that something happened in the last year or so that diminished the urgency of the story?

Whatever the case, there’s still time. The trial is ongoing and may wrap later this month. “There’s still a chance for them to tell their viewers what happened in Benghazi in 2012,” says Goldman. “There are plenty of seats at the media room in the courthouse for Fox to set up.”

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German officials celebrate doubled Twitter character limit

Posted on November 11th, 2017 at 21:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


Twitter announced Tuesday it’s increasing the limit for almost all users of the messaging service from 140 to 280 characters, prompting a mix of delighted and despairing reactions.

Waking up to the news Wednesday, Germany’s justice ministry wrote that it can now tweet about legislation concerning the transfer of oversight responsibilities for beef labeling.

The law is known in German as the Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz.

Munich police, meanwhile, said that “at last” they won’t need abbreviations to tweet about accidents involving forklift drivers, or Niederflurfoerderfahrzeugfuehrer.

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Alabama task force performs drug raid, man dies. Officials take his home, split the proceeds

Posted on November 11th, 2017 at 21:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


Wayne’s death was already a tragedy. But, for his family, it was only compounded by what police and prosecutors did next.

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Facebook asks users for nude photos in project to combat revenge porn

Posted on November 11th, 2017 at 21:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Individuals who have shared intimate, nude or sexual images with partners and are worried that the partner (or ex-partner) might distribute them without their consent can use Messenger to send the images to be “hashed”. This means that the company converts the image into a unique digital fingerprint that can be used to identify and block any attempts to re-upload that same image.

Facebook is piloting the technology in Australia in partnership with a government agency headed up by the e-safety commissioner, Julia Inman Grant, who told ABC it would allow victims of “image-based abuse” to take action before pictures were posted to Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.

“We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly,” she told the Australian broadcaster.

I cannot see any possible way in which this could go wrong.

I also have a bridge for sale.

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artist statement

Posted on November 11th, 2017 at 19:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


My work explores the relationship between Critical theory and counter-terrorism.

With influences as diverse as Wittgenstein and John Lennon, new variations are generated from both mundane and transcendant textures.

Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of meaning. What starts out as hope soon becomes corroded into a hegemony of futility, leaving only a sense of dread and the chance of a new reality.

As shifting replicas become frozen through boundaried and critical practice, the viewer is left with a clue to the limits of our era.

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  1. That passed the Turing test 🙂

Mary had a little lamb

Posted on November 11th, 2017 at 15:03 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Trump in China: A former ambassador says Xi is “playing him like a fiddle”

Posted on November 10th, 2017 at 10:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


Beyond the numbers, it’s Trump’s embrace of Xi that has diplomats and human rights activists around the world concerned. China’s government is “playing Trump like a fiddle,” said Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s ambassador to China from 2007 to 2013. “You don’t have good chemistry with a Chinese leader who doesn’t speak your language and is geared to not develop chemistry,” he said.

The Communist Party’s top aides are masterful at making diplomats and foreign businessmen feel special, he said, warning that Trump may be particularly susceptible to Beijing’s tactic of flattering foreigners with over-the-top ceremony and then refusing to change.

“You leave that meeting thinking ‘It went great,’” said Guajardo. And then when it comes time to negotiate a practical agreement, if you invoke the special friendship you’ve formed, Beijing officials “laugh and say ‘No, let’s not confuse all that pomp and circumstance with the meat of the matter.’”

“I would be lying to you if I tell you I didn’t fall for it when I was there,” he added.

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DOJ: Strong encryption that we don’t have access to is “unreasonable”

Posted on November 10th, 2017 at 9:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


The DOJ’s position runs counter to the consensus of information security experts, who say that it is impossible to build the strongest encryption system possible that would also allow the government access under certain conditions.

“Of course, criminals and terrorists have used, are using, and will use encryption to hide their planning from the authorities, just as they will use many aspects of society’s capabilities and infrastructure: cars, restaurants, telecommunications,” Bruce Schneier, a well-known cryptographer, wrote last year.

“In general, we recognize that such things can be used by both honest and dishonest people. Society thrives nonetheless because the honest so outnumber the dishonest. Compare this with the tactic of secretly poisoning all the food at a restaurant. Yes, we might get lucky and poison a terrorist before he strikes, but we’ll harm all the innocent customers in the process. Weakening encryption for everyone is harmful in exactly the same way.”

Rosenstein closed his interview by noting that he understands re-engineering encryption to accommodate government may make it weaker.

“And I think that’s a legitimate issue that we can debate—how much risk are we willing to take in return for the reward?” he said.

“My point is simply that I think somebody needs to consider what’s on the other side of the balance. There is a cost to having impregnable security, and we’ve talked about some of the aspects of that. The cost is that criminals are going to be able to get away with stuff, and that’s going to prevent us in law enforcement from holding them accountable.”

He talks about it as if the entire world would go back to encryption with a back-door if only the big tech companies caved to his begging. As if strong encryption would simply disappear overnight if somebody like Tim Cook said “Okay, the Rosenstein is right”. The strong encryption horse has left the barn long ago and is now living three zip codes away. The only people who would be stuck with weakened encryption are the average law abiding citizens.

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‘Take the Bible…’: And thus began the worst defense of Roy Moore

Posted on November 10th, 2017 at 8:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


Roy Moore’s Senate campaign was jolted by an allegation Thursday that he initiated sexual touching with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.

Moore (R) has denied the allegations. Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), though, is taking it a step further. In some rather remarkable and often nonsensical comments, the Moore supporter’s argument isn’t that Moore didn’t do these things, but that even the conduct described in The Washington Post’s report is a-okay with both him and the law.


And finally, the piece de resistance:

“Take the Bible — Zachariah and Elizabeth, for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler says, choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

First, there are issues with Zeigler’s Bible references. Both Zachariah and Elizabeth were elderly when John the Baptist was born; it wasn’t that she was young and Zachariah was “extremely old.”

Second, comparing modern age-of-consent laws to biblical times seems to be a slippery slope. Many things from 2,000 years ago don’t apply today. Girls were often betrothed early in their teenage years, for example.

And third, there is something called the virgin birth. Here is the definition of virgin.

So treason is okay. Sexual assault is okay. Corruption and abuse of power are okay. Telling an average of 5 unique lies a day is okay. Incompetence and negligence are okay. And now pedophilia is okay.

But if some motherfucker puts dijon mustard on their burger…

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  1. The only motive I can think up that would make people vote for the such unsuitable candidates is that they want to wreck their own polity.

    Reminds me of the joke I told before:

    Father Patrick was walking down a poor street in his parish, when he spotted a 12-year old member of his congregation knocking on the door of a house of ill-repute.

    “Johnny! What are you doing at that door! Do you know who lives there?”

    “Yes, Father. A prostitute. It’s what I want.”

    “What! Don’t you know that fornication is a sin? Your immortal soul is at risk!”

    “Yes, Father. It’s what I want.”

    “But Johnny, think of the consequences! You’ll get the clap!”

    “Yes, Father. It’s what I want.”

    “Johnny O’Reilly! You’re the son of a wealthy family. You can’t expect me to believe that you want the clap! What are you doing this for?”

    “If I get the clap, the maid will get the clap. If the maid gets the clap, my father will get the clap. If my father gets the clap, my mother will get the clap. If my mother gets the clap, the gardener will get the clap.
    “And he’s the bastard I want. He killed my stick insect!”

Gay man denied a marriage license by Kim Davis wants to run against her

Posted on November 10th, 2017 at 8:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


“I don’t think that she has learned anything from the experience at all.

“I really, truly think that she feels like she is right. I really don’t think she cares at all about what civil rights are.”

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  1. People are always telling other people they cannot have the same nice things that the first set of people have:

    Rights. Good jobs. Education. Decent housing. Secure old age. Physical safety. Medical services (including birth control). Wealthy parents. Offshore tax avoidance accounts.

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