April 3, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM


Mar-a-Lago arrest spotlights security risks at Trump estate (JONATHAN LEMIRE, COLLEEN LONG and TERRY SPENCER, 4/03/19, AP) 

As palm trees swayed in the ocean breeze, Yujing Zhang approached Secret Service agents in the Mar-a-Lago parking lot.

She said she was going to the swimming pool at the Palm Beach presidential estate and presented agents with two Chinese passports in her name. That raised suspicions with her screeners, but a call to the front desk at Mar-a-Lago revealed a club member with a similar last name and with that, and a possible language barrier, reception waved her through.

Not long after, Zhang was arrested carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive containing computer malware in an incident that is shining a spotlight on the unique difficulty of fortifying the oceanside Florida estate of President Donald Trump -- who was staying at the club that weekend but golfing elsewhere at the time.

Zhang's arrest has revived concerns about security -- particularly cyber security -- at a presidential refuge that mixes social functions, world diplomacy and extraordinary access to the president. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:22 PM


Why a lab-grown BK Whopperâ„¢ is cause for excitement (ROBBY BERMAN, 03 April, 2019, rightly Understood)

The health case

This section contains, among other things, a list of the things we won't get from lab-grown cell-ag foods, including:

pathogens like Salmonella and E. Coli
fecal contamination
meat and seafood growth hormones
mad-cow disease prions
swine and avian flu, and other illnesses
plastic particles in "seafood"
mercury in "seafood"
animal-production antibiotics that accelerate the development of resistant superbugs

Cell-ag also looks to promote greater food production stability and predictability, and can scale to help feed the planet's growing population. Their contaminant-free growing environment gives cell-ag foods a longer shelf life. Critical shortages can be more efficiently addresses after disasters, and famines can be avoided, and geographically independent production solves current supply issues in areas that struggle to import food.

(Brooke Becker/Shutterstock)

The environment case

Land use

We know that the extensive land-use requirements of animal-based products are among the main drivers of climate change. For some animals, it's an issue of grazing land. For others, such as seafood, it's processing. Here's how much less land Gasteratos estimates we'll use after switching to cell-ag.

cattle -- 99%
dairy -- 97%
poultry -- 66%
pigs -- 82%
seafood -- 55%
land overall -- 80%

It's much the same story with water use.

cattle -- 98%
dairy -- 99.6%
poultry -- 92%
pigs -- -95%
seafood -- 86%
water overall -- 94%
Greenhouse gasses

Here's the reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) a switch to cell-ag may produce:

cattle -- 96%
dairy -- 65%
poultry -- 74%
pigs -- 85%
seafood -- 59%
GHG overall -- 76%

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 PM


Biden Opposed Historic Black DOJ Nominees In Anti-Busing Crusade (Amanda Terkel, 4/03/19, HuffPo)

In 1977, two black men nominated for key Justice Department posts by President Jimmy Carter easily won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. After confirmation by the full Senate, Drew Days III became the nation's first black head of the department's civil rights division and Wade McCree became the second black solicitor general. 

Only one member of the committee voted against them. It wasn't segregationists Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) or James Eastland (D-Miss.). It wasn't even former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

The lone Judiciary Committee vote against the two men was Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).

Posted by orrinj at 4:54 PM


Stocks up on hopes for U.S.-China trade, soft Brexit (Chuck Mikolajczak, 4/03/19, Reuters) 

World stocks climbed for a fifth session on Wednesday on optimism over U.S.-China trade talks and for a softer British exit from the European Union, while oil prices retreated after an unexpected rise in inventories.

Posted by orrinj at 4:31 PM


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Sides With Donald Trump and Rand Paul Over Syria Withdrawal (Davis Richardson, 04/03/19, NY Observer)

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined a list of high-profile politicians offering "bipartisan support" for President Donald Trump's withdrawal from Syria.

In a letter coauthored by Senator Rand Paul (R-K.Y.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), lawmakers urged the Trump administration to leave Syria within the next six months, noting the deployment of military forces was not approved by Congress in 2015.

The Left is the Right.
Posted by orrinj at 4:30 AM


Old, Online, And Fed On Lies: How An Aging Population Will Reshape The Internet (Craig Silverman, 4/03/19, BuzzFeed News)

Although many older Americans have, like the rest of us, embraced the tools and playthings of the technology industry, a growing body of research shows they have disproportionately fallen prey to the dangers of internet misinformation and risk being further polarized by their online habits. While that matters much to them, it's also a massive challenge for society given the outsize role older generations play in civic life, and demographic changes that are increasing their power and influence.

People 65 and older will soon make up the largest single age group in the United States, and will remain that way for decades to come, according to the US Census. This massive demographic shift is occurring when this age group is moving online and onto Facebook in droves, deeply struggling with digital literacy, and being targeted by a wide range of online bad actors who try to feed them fake news, infect their devices with malware, and steal their money in scams. Yet older people are largely being left out of what has become something of a golden age for digital literacy efforts.

Since the 2016 election, funding for digital literacy programs has skyrocketed. Apple just announced a major donation to the News Literacy Project and two related initiatives, and Facebook partners with similar organizations. But they primarily focus on younger demographics, even as the next presidential election grows closer.

This means the very people who struggle the most with digital information and technology risk being left to fend for themselves in an environment where they're being targeted and exploited precisely because of their vulnerabilities.

Older people are also more likely to vote and to be politically active in other ways, such as making political contributions. They are wealthier and therefore wield tremendous economic power and all of the influence that comes with it. With more and more older people going online, and future 65-plus generations already there, the online behavior of older people, as well as their rising power, is incredibly important -- yet often ignored.

Four recent studies found that older Americans are more likely to consume and share false online news than those in other age groups, even when controlling for factors such as partisanship. Other research has found that older Americans have a poor or inaccurate grasp of how algorithms play a role in selecting what information is shown to them on social media, are worse than younger people at differentiating between reported news and opinion, and are less likely to register the brand of a news site they consume information from.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? Evidence from Bus and Train Operators (Bolotnyy V, Emanuel N., Harvard University)

Even in a unionized environment where work tasks are similar, hourly wages are identical, and tenure dictates promotions, female workers earn $0.89 on the male-worker dollar (weekly earnings). We use confidential administrative data on bus and train operators from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to show that the weekly earnings gap can be explained by the workplace choices that women and men make. Women value time away from work and flexibility more than men, taking more unpaid time off using the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and working fewer overtime hours than men. When overtime hours are scheduled three months in advance, men and women work a similar number of hours; but when those hours are offered at the last minute, men work nearly twice as many. When selecting work schedules, women try to avoid weekend, holiday, and split shifts more than men. To avoid unfavorable work times, women prioritize their schedules over route safety and select routes with a higher probability of accidents. Women are less likely than men to game the scheduling system by trading off work hours at regular wages for overtime hours at premium wages.

Posted by orrinj at 3:59 AM


I Tried the Impossible Burger. White Castle, Burger King, and Cheesecake Factory Are Onto Something Big. (Peter Economy, 4/02/19, Inc)

I recently had one of those burger cravings, and decided to track down an Impossible Burger and give it a taste test. Using the locator on the company's website, I quickly found a surprisingly long list of restaurants that sell the burgers in my area. I picked the closest location and headed out.

I placed my order: an Impossible Burger on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and grilled onions. About 7 minutes later, my burger arrived and I took a moment to admire it. It looked like a burger, smelled like a burger, and felt like a burger while I eagerly held it in my hands. As my salivary glands kicked into overdrive, and dove in.


The Impossible Burger didn't just look, smell, and feel like a burger, it tasted like one too. I don't mean "sort of" or "kind of" tasted like a burger -- I mean it really did taste like a real, cow-based burger.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Trump tells House GOP to be more 'paranoid' about vote counts (Eli Watkins, April 2, 2019, CNN)

President Donald Trump -- who has previously issued baseless claims about ballot-counting and voter fraud -- warned House Republicans on Tuesday night to be "more paranoid" about vote tallies.

Shortly after taking the stage at the National Republican Congressional Committee's spring dinner, Trump said, "We've got to watch those vote tallies," and implied, without citing a specific example, that close races had been wrongly decided for Democrats.

"I don't like the way the votes are being tallied," Trump said. "I don't like it, and you don't like it either. You just don't want to say it because you're afraid of the press. You're afraid of the press."

...but it appears the opposition defeated Erdogan fair and square.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'Like a Ferrari, you don't need it': New Zealanders set to turn in guns (Jorge Silva, 4/02/19, Reuters)

For 14 years Womersley has worked at "home kill," shooting beasts for small farmers and cutting them up, but tough new gun laws to be adopted after the nation's worst mass murder by a lone gunman will require him to surrender another of his guns.

"Guns are a way of life for me, really," says Womersley, 48, who received his first firearm, a .22-calibre rifle, for his 12th birthday, and now hunts with his 15-year-old daughter.

"It's pretty much what I live and breathe. I (shoot) on the weekends for fun and then I do it during the week for a job."

As the first beast slumps, he rapidly draws back and pushes forward his riflebolt, firing again and then a third time. In seconds, three cattle are dead on the damp ground. He gathers his knives and begins to cut them up.

"I shoot animals, I don't shoot targets. I shoot food," says Womersley. [...]

"I don't think we need military-style weapons in our society. I definitely don't need them in my job," he says. "It's like driving around in a Ferrari, you don't need it."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How Hind Makki is changing the conversation around women's inclusion in mosques (Aysha Khan, 4/01/19, RNS)

When women are cut off from the rest of the congregation, they lose the experience of group prayer, which is considered critical for a community's social and spiritual development in Islam, she said.

That's part of why Makki has spent the past seven years bringing the discussion on women's inclusion in Muslim spaces into the mainstream -- from launching Side Entrance, her popular blog contrasting men's and women's prayer spaces in mosques around the world, to training Muslim leaders around the country on how to foster a women-friendly mosque culture. [...]

"As an American, the idea of separate but equal is just so anathema to me, and I think that that is often physically shown in mosques just by where women enter the mosque," she said.

Makki's blog helped lead the way for a broader push among young Muslims to make mosques more inclusive.

In London, a group of female activists launched the Inclusive Mosque Initiative around the same time to organize women-led community programming and alternative worship spaces.

Research from the 2011 American Mosque Study, conducted by a coalition of organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America, offered in-depth data on women's participation in mosques around the country.

And shortly after, the 2014 watershed documentary "UnMosqued" showed how disconnected many young Muslims felt from mainstream Muslim institutions.

Rose Aslan, an Islamic scholar and the second woman to ever deliver a Friday sermon at the Women's Mosque of America, said Makki's work follows the path paved by activists like prominent Islamic scholar Amina Wadud.

In 2005, Wadud drew headlines for leading a public mixed-gender prayer service in New York City. Because most Muslims believe that women cannot lead men in performing prayer, a slew of fatwas were issued declaring her actions heretical.

"She really angered a lot of people, and many people around the world remain upset about what she did," said Aslan, an assistant professor at California Lutheran University. "But she set the stage for less provocative actions down the line."

In the wake of her "radical and controversial" actions, initiatives like Side Entrance, the Women's Mosque of America and the Muslim women's education program Rabata now "seem so mild," said Aslan.

"It's harder for people to complain as much when they're not violating any Muslim legal doctrines," she said.

Programs focused on women's empowerment and education, whether they're from a liberal or conservative religious perspective, are relatively new, said Aslan.

Those programs include the rise of women-centered mosques, like the Women's Mosque of America and Masjid al-Rabia, as well as the emergence of so-called "third spaces" among young professional Muslims. These alternative Islamic communities have now cropped up in virtually every major metropolitan area in the country, whether it's a formal organization like Washington, D.C.'s MakeSpace or a new group that cropped up in L.A. last month and is meeting in restaurants.

"Young professionals are just moving away from their mosques if they're not changing fast enough," Aslan said. "These spaces just speak more to what younger generations say they need and want."

Just as Catholicism and Judaism previously, we're remaking Islam in our image.