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Coloured by Regional Grammar

Posted on February 20th, 2017 at 23:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


Because of where the structurally unemployed live, what they’ve done, or the skills they lack, employers can’t or won’t hire them. The problems that keep today’s jobless stuck on the sidelines are different than those of past recoveries: a complex web of often interrelated issues from disability and drug use to criminal records.

Jeanna Smialek and Patricia Laya, The New Face of American Unemployment, Bloomberg (7 February 2017).

Further commentary on the story from Naked Capitalism:

When you read the stories carefully, they actually depict two overarching problems: discrimination and the far-ranging impact of the opioid epidemic.

The bigger point is that neoliberalism treats individuals as able to make their own way, when people are products of their families and communities. And we have entire sections of the country being laid waste by the combination of economic distress, poor education, weak social safety nets, and despair. And regulatory neglect made a bad situation vastly worse.


The richest newcomer to Forbes 2015 list of America’s Richest Families comes in at a stunning $14 billion. The Sackler family, which owns Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma, flew under the radar when Forbes launched its initial list of wealthiest families in July 2014, but this year they crack the top-20, edging out storied families like the Busches, Mellons and Rockefellers. How did the Sacklers build the 16th-largest fortune in the country? The short answer: making the most popular and controversial opioid of the 21st century — OxyContin.

Alex Morrell, The OxyContin Clan: The $14 Billion Newcomer to Forbes 2015 List of Richest U.S. Families, Forbes Magazine (1 July 2015).

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The man who dresses up as his ancestors – BBC News

Posted on February 20th, 2017 at 22:54 by John Sinteur in category: News



It’s an unusual way to get close to your forefathers, but it works for Christian Fuchs.

The walls of his elegant apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Lima’s bohemian Barranco district are covered with paintings of his aristocratic European and Latin American ancestors.

But if you look closer, you soon realise that many of the portraits are, in fact, photographs of the 37-year-old himself, dressed up as his relatives.

It all started when Fuchs was 10 years old.

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Trump compares himself to Lincoln. But Lincoln warned us about demagogues like him.

Posted on February 20th, 2017 at 20:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


On Saturday, President Donald Trump compared himself to “Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents”. On his inauguration, Trump chose to be sworn in on the so-called “Lincoln bible” – the same one Honest Abe was sworn in on – because he was “inspired by Lincoln’s words”,Quartz reported.
On Presidents Day, though, it’s worth remembering that Trump is the anti-Lincoln (and anti-Washington). Indeed, he is not just the demagogue Founding Fathers like Alexander Hamilton warned us about. He is exactly the demagogue Lincoln himself warned us about.

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Fokke & Sukke

Posted on February 20th, 2017 at 20:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Trump comment about immigration ‘problems’ baffles Sweden

Posted on February 19th, 2017 at 22:55 by John Sinteur in category: News


“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” Trump said. “Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

That appeared to confuse the Swedish government, which asked the U.S. State Department to explain what the new president meant.

“We are trying to get clarity,” Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said.


Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom appeared to respond to Trump’s latest statement by posting on Twitter an excerpt of a recent speech in which she said democracy and diplomacy “require us to respect science, facts and the media.”

Her predecessor was less circumspect.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter.

Other Swedes mocked Trump’s remark on Twitter using the hashtag #LastNightInSweden, posting pictures of reindeer, Swedish meatballs and people assembling the country’s famous IKEA furniture.

“#lastnightinsweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!” Twitter user Adam Bergsveen wrote.


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Trump cited a nonexistent incident in Sweden during his rally on Saturday

Posted on February 19th, 2017 at 10:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


President Donald Trump cited a nonexistent incident in Sweden while talking about the relationship between terror attacks and refugees around the world during a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday.

“You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden … Sweden … who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening Brussels, you look at what’s happening all over the world,” Trump said.

No incident occurred in Sweden on Friday night.

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Watch This Lawyer Fall Apart When Asked About Religious Discrimination Against Interracial Couples

Posted on February 18th, 2017 at 22:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


Yesterday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing all about “religious liberty.” At one point, however, a representative from conservative legal group Becket couldn’t answer a simple question about whether someone’s faith gave them the right to refuse service to an interracial couple.

Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen asked Becket’s Senior Counsel Hannah Smith if faith-based discrimination against interracial couples was ever permissible. The correct answer was “No.” Instead, she went on multiple lengthy monologues to avoid saying that one word.

The exchange takes place at the 1:08:44 mark.


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German Officials Tell Parents To Destroy Doll That Records Conversations

Posted on February 18th, 2017 at 21:01 by John Sinteur in category: News


Late last year, research indicated that certain toys may be collecting audio recording and personal information from children and sending that data to a company that used the information to improve the voice-recognition tools it sells to the military and law enforcement agencies. While consumer advocates quickly filed complaints with federal regulators in the U.S., across the pond, authorities in Germany are now directing parents to get rid of the “My Friend Cayla” doll.

Could Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri be next in the Bundesnetzagentur crosshairs?

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How Many Combinations Are Possible Using 6 LEGO Bricks?

Posted on February 18th, 2017 at 20:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


Mathematician Søren Eilers was intrigued by a LEGO-related math problem. Let’s say you have six “standard LEGO bricks” (the rectangular 4×2 bricks seen in the original LEGO patent). If you fit them together, how many possible structures can you make?

This question was first officially “answered” in 1974, and LEGO mathematicians arrived at the number 102,981,500. Eilers was curious about the mathematical methodology behind that number, and soon discovered that it only covered one kind of stacking—thus, it was dramatically low. So he wrote a computer program that modeled all the possible brick combinations. After running the program for a week, he ended up with a massive number: 915,103,765 combinations.

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“Weird Al” Yankovic – Another One Rides the Bus

Posted on February 18th, 2017 at 20:45 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Haha…reminds me of a joke I heard at a concert last night:

    What’s the best pitch for an accordion?

    The one that launches it into a burning dumpster where it lands on a banjo.

TinyTrumps – Home of the Internet’s pictures of Tiny Trump

Posted on February 18th, 2017 at 19:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Secret Service Adds Emotional Protection Division To Safeguard Trump’s Psyche

Posted on February 18th, 2017 at 19:55 by John Sinteur in category: News


WASHINGTON—In an effort to respond to the vast and ever-changing dangers faced by the nation’s commander-in-chief, Secret Service administrators announced Wednesday the creation of an Emotional Protection Division to safeguard President Donald Trump’s psyche.

The new unit’s three dozen agents, who have undergone rigorous training to prepare for their challenging role, will be charged with defending the 45th president’s psychological well-being around the clock, investigating foreign and domestic threats to his self-esteem and quickly intercepting any spoken or written criticisms before they can harm his pride.

“After conducting a full review of the operational procedures available to us, it became clear that adding this new division was the only way to meet President Trump’s emotional security needs,” said Secret Service director Joseph Clancy, noting that the president’s detail is specially trained in assessing risks and minimizing any opportunity for him to feel insecure or belittled. “His psyche could be put in grave danger from unfavorable poll numbers or suddenly come under attack from a White House press corps heavily armed with uncomfortable questions.”

“All of our agents stand ready to lay down their lives to ensure nothing can hurt President Trump’s feelings,” he added.

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Inexplicably missing is a Flappy Bird clone.

Posted on February 17th, 2017 at 19:00 by John Sinteur in category: News

But other than that,  nice games

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  1. Is that a Trailer Park Boys reference, John? I am in awe…

Posted on February 17th, 2017 at 14:48 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Dick was such a nice man. We will miss him. RIP Dick Bruna.

Challenges in researching terrorism from the field

Posted on February 17th, 2017 at 0:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


The potential for research that can overcome existing constraints can be seen in recent advances in understanding violent extremism and, partly, in interdiction and prevention. Most notable is waning interest in simplistic root-cause explanations of why individuals become violent extremists (e.g., poverty, lack of education, marginalization, foreign occupation, and religious fervor), which cannot accommodate the richness and diversity of situations that breed terrorism or support meaningful interventions. A more tractable line of inquiry is how people actually become involved in terror networks (e.g., how they radicalize and are recruited, move to action, or come to abandon cause and comrades).

Reports from the The Soufan Group, International Center for the Study of Radicalisation (King’s College London), and the Combating Terrorism Center (U.S. Military Academy) indicate that approximately three-fourths of those who join the Islamic State or al-Qaeda do so in groups. These groups often involve preexisting social networks and typically cluster in particular towns and neighborhoods.. This suggests that much recruitment does not need direct personal appeals by organization agents or individual exposure to social media (which would entail a more dispersed recruitment pattern). Fieldwork is needed to identify the specific conditions under which these processes play out. Natural growth models of terrorist networks then might be based on an epidemiology of radical ideas in host social networks rather than built in the abstract then fitted to data and would allow for a public health, rather than strictly criminal, approach to violent extremism.

Such considerations have implications for countering terrorist recruitment. The present USG focus is on “counternarratives,” intended as alternative to the “ideologies” held to motivate terrorists. This strategy treats ideas as disembodied from the human conditions in which they are embedded and given life as animators of social groups. In their stead, research and policy might better focus on personalized “counterengagement,” addressing and harnessing the fellowship, passion, and purpose of people within specific social contexts, as ISIS and al-Qaeda often do. This focus stands in sharp contrast to reliance on negative mass messaging and sting operations to dissuade young people in doubt through entrapment and punishment (the most common practice used in U.S. law enforcement) rather than through positive persuasion and channeling into productive life paths. At the very least, we need field research in communities that is capable of capturing evidence to reveal which strategies are working, failing, or backfiring.

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Warren Buffett’s Best Investment

Posted on February 16th, 2017 at 23:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


Our 2017 annual letter is addressed to our dear friend Warren Buffett, who in 2006 donated the bulk of his fortune to our foundation to fight disease and reduce inequity. A few months ago, Warren asked us to reflect on what impact his gift has had on the world.


Millions upon millions of lives saved with $40 billion. And yet the US priority is to spend nearly that much on a wall. It is practically criminal.

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  1. Strange, I continue to see more and more ads on TV to save the children. Who really got the $40 billion?

What point on the main land of The Netherlands is furthest away from any buildings? – Travel Stack Exchange

Posted on February 16th, 2017 at 23:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


Living in The Netherlands, I know my country is a crowded one. I typically can’t leave a town for a couple of steps before arriving in the next one. So I was wondering,

Where in The Netherlands am I furthest away from any city or town?

I know that the Wadden Islands group of Rottum is a pretty good contender, but I want to limit this to the main land, where you could actually walk for a mile or so — neither of the islands is big enough for more than a stroll.

Also, there’s of course a difference between the built-up area of a town (“bebouwde kom”in Dutch), and other buildings such as farms. Ideally, I’d like to see both points of view addressed: where am I farthest away from regular towns, and where am I farthest away from any building it all?

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  1. You have to define furthest first i think. Do you mean direct distance “as the crow flies” or travel distance to get to the location? In the latter case the tip of the maasvlakte that points back to Rotterdam will likely be in the top 5 of locations furthest from a regular town

Martial arts academy posts how-to video for defending against Trump handshake

Posted on February 16th, 2017 at 19:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


A mixed martial arts online magazine has posted a tutorial from a jiu-jitsu academy on how to defend against President Trump’s handshakes.

Recent meetings with foreign leaders have brought attention to the president’s handshake. Videos and analyses of his handshake show that he often pulls forcefully on the hand he’s shaking.


So a black belt from a mixed martial arts academy posted a lesson for how to defend against the “arm drag handshake.”

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FBI needs to explain why Flynn was recorded, Intelligence Committee chairman says

Posted on February 14th, 2017 at 21:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.

“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”

I feel so sorry for all satire writers these days…

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United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Posted on February 14th, 2017 at 20:56 by John Sinteur in category: News

They edited their web page removing all contact info…
Well, if only someone had a list of email addresses for every Oversight Committee Majority staff member:

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  1. i emailed everyone on the list and got this from two recipients. the others all went through. note the phone number provided.

    I will be out of the office today with limited access to email until 02/19/17. If you need immediate assistance please contact the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Main Line – (202) 225-5074

Now sites can fingerprint you online even when you use multiple browsers

Posted on February 14th, 2017 at 10:25 by John Sinteur in category: News


Researchers have recently developed the first reliable technique for websites to track visitors even when they use two or more different browsers. This shatters a key defense against sites that identify visitors based on the digital fingerprint their browsers leave behind.

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NASA scientist detained at US border until he unlocks his phone

Posted on February 14th, 2017 at 9:23 by John Sinteur in category: News


A US-born NASA scientist said he was detained by customs officials and not permitted to enter the country unless he unlocked his PIN-protected work phone.

Sidd Bikkannavar, who works in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)  on January 30, upon returning to the United States from Santiago, Chile.

Mr Bikkannavar is a natural-born US citizen enrolled in CBP’s Global Entry programme, which allows participants who have undergone a background check to speed up their entry into the US. He had not visited any of the countries mentioned in Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban, but Mr Bikkannavar told The Verge that agents may be become suspicious about his family name, which is southern Indian.

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Fake news is ‘killing people’s minds’, says Apple boss Tim Cook

Posted on February 11th, 2017 at 10:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


Fake news is “killing people’s minds”, Tim Cook, the head of Apple, has said. The technology boss said firms such as his own needed to create tools that would help stem the spread of falsehoods, without impinging on freedom of speech.

Cook also called for governments to lead information campaigns to crack down on fake news in an interview with a British national newspaper. The scourge of falsehoods in mainstream political discourse came to the fore during recent campaigns, during which supporters of each side were accused of promoting misinformation for political gain.

“We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s killing people’s minds, in a way.”


What’s needed is a good reputation management…

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  1. “Fake news” has always existed. It wasn’t invented on the internet.

  2. No need to invent a neologism either, it’s called propaganda.

Congressman is righteously booed after dodging a young girl’s simple question about science

Posted on February 11th, 2017 at 10:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


One hour into a loud, contentious town hall meeting in his home state of Utah, Congressman Jason Chaffetz was asked two simple questions by a young girl named Hannah Bradshaw. The first was about the environment: “What are you doing to help protect our water and air for our generations and my kids’ generations?” The second was just a bit more broad: “Do you believe in science?”

Asking the sitting congressman if he believes in science is sadly a relevant question. Chaffetz has called global warming “a farce,” and just this week co-sponsored a bill to abolish the Department of Education. He also recently proposed a bill that would have transferred ownership of federal public lands to the states, making them easier to sell. (He swiftly withdrew that bill after it sparked public outrage.)

So it’s not surprising that, instead of saying anything remotely resembling the words “I believe in science,” Chaffetz deflected hard enough to cause whiplash. Luckily, the crowd wasn’t having it. One woman in particular can be heard loudly repeating the words “ANSWER THE QUESTION,” and so Chaffetz was goaded into responding to Bradshaw.

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“He’s not going to eat us. He’s going to eat those black sheep in the inner city.”

Posted on February 10th, 2017 at 20:30 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Trump voters

  2. No: voters

Donald Trump ‘surprised he cannot run the US government like his businesses’, aides reveal

Posted on February 10th, 2017 at 20:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


The report said his frustrations stemmed from the slow realisation of the challenges of governing, to delays over his cabinet choices, and even the infighting between his senior officials. He is also said to be upset about the steady flow of negative leaks, one of which, perhaps apocryphally, told how officials were meeting in dark rooms because they could not locate the light switches.

Speaking after Mr Trump’s election victory, Barack Obama told reporters: “This office has a way of waking you up. Those aspects of his positions or his predispositions that don’t match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick because reality has a way of asserting itself.”

Well, he obviously is running the country like he runs his businesses, straight into the ground.



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  1. No one likes all his policies, but I see nothing to indicate the country is being run into the ground. It will still be here in 2020 when the next president is selected.

THIS is why my kids want to kill me – Exact Instructions Challenge

Posted on February 10th, 2017 at 12:34 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. …and we wonder why there are so many pedants out there!

  2. You want pedantic? That’s not a butter knife. It’s a dinner or table knife.

  3. Cute!

  4. Terrible! Now the kids will **never** get a job writing IKEA instructions. Imagine if they did? Their boss would say, “Are you nuts? These are for people that can read! Besides, Ikea has a long honored tradition of of instructions that lack details! You’re fired!”

    …I rest my case. 🙂

Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump

Posted on February 9th, 2017 at 22:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


When we worry and wonder about authoritarian regimes that inflict cruelty on civilians, we often imagine tyrannical despots unilaterally advancing their sinister agendas. But no would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders. Of course, neither Donald Trump nor Steve Bannon personally detained any of the more than 100 people held at airports over the weekend pursuant to the administration’s executive order on immigration, visitation and travel to the United States. They relied on assistance.

The men and women who reportedly handcuffed small children and the elderly, separated a child from his mother and held others without food for 20 hours, are undoubtedly “ordinary” people. What I mean by that, is that these are, in normal circumstances, people who likely treat their neighbors and co-workers with kindness and do not intentionally seek to harm others. That is chilling, as it is a reminder that authoritarians have no trouble finding the people they need to carry out their acts of cruelty. They do not need special monsters; they can issue orders to otherwise unexceptional people who will carry them out dutifully.

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  1. Throughout history it has been the same. Drones are easy to come by.

  2. Two places where people abandon their rights. Airports and courts. I avoid both.

VIZIO to Pay $2.2 Million to FTC, State of New Jersey to Settle Charges It Collected Viewing Histories on 11 Million Smart Televisions without Users’ Consent

Posted on February 8th, 2017 at 8:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


VIZIO, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers and sellers of internet-connected “smart” televisions, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General that it installed software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumer TVs without consumers’ knowledge or consent.

The stipulated federal court order requires VIZIO to prominently disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data collection and sharing practices, and prohibits misrepresentations about the privacy, security, or confidentiality of consumer information they collect. It also requires the company to delete data collected before March 1, 2016, and to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and biennial assessments of that program.

According to the agencies’ complaint, starting in February 2014, VIZIO, Inc. and an affiliated company have manufactured VIZIO smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices.

That’s about 20 cents per offense. I’m sure that will deter them!

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Mike Pence Disappointed God Has Never Asked Him To Kill One Of Own Children

Posted on February 6th, 2017 at 22:30 by John Sinteur in category: News



WASHINGTON—Saying he would surely rise to the occasion if tasked by the Almighty with the ultimate test of faith, Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that he was disappointed that God has never called upon him to kill one of his own children. “It’s just heartbreaking that the Lord hasn’t summoned me once to show my dedication to Him by sacrificing one of my precious kids,” said Pence, telling reporters that he has spent years waiting for any sign at all from the Heavenly Father that he should ritually slaughter one of his three children. “They’re grown now, so I’m starting to think I’ll never get the chance to offer the blood of any of them to prove my unshakable devotion. Heck, I’d put all three on an altar if that’s what He wanted.” Pence added that he would nevertheless keep a sharp dagger at the ready in the unlikely event God someday asks him to kill one of his grandchildren.

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  1. No wonder the religions want big families. Lots of spares.

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