Blog Rolls

Trump Dismisses 'New York Times' Report That He Paid Little In Federal Income Taxes

President Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, according to the Times, which also says he's fighting an IRS audit that could cost him over $100 million.

(Image credit: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

New emoji approved to help express the anguish of 2020

The Verge – ‘Face with spiral eyes’ is how we are all feeling: “This year has been hard. Wildfire smoke has engulfed the West Coast, hundreds of thousands are dead from an ongoing pandemic, and the US government is deadlocked to the point of illegitimacy, incapable of taking action against the economic, political, ecological, and medical devastation that threatens to engulf us. Even for those not directly affected, the perception of the ongoing crises has turned into a kind of psychic assault, challenging the limits of what we can express. Fortunately, a new crop of emoji has just been approved by the Unicode Consortium to help out. They probably won’t reach your phone until 2021, but they’re clearly influenced by the chaos of the year, whether it’s “face exhaling” (clearly exhausted), “face in clouds” (smoke?), or “heart on fire” (self-explanatory). I’m particularly taken by the “face with spiral eyes” emoji, submitted by Google emoji czar Jennifer Daniel…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why Modeling the Spread of COVID-19 Is So Damn Hard


IEEE – Too many of the COVID-19 models have led policymakers astray. Here’s how tomorrow’s models will get it right – “If you wanted to “flatten the curve” in 2019, you might have been changing students’ grades or stamping down a rug ripple. Today, that phrase refers only to the vital task of reducing the peak number of people concurrently infected with the COVID-19 virus. Beginning in early 2020, graphs depicting the expected number of infections spread through social networks, much like the virus itself. We’ve all become consumers of epidemiological models, the mathematical entities that spit out these ominous trend lines. Such models have existed for decades but have never received such widespread attention. They’re informing public policy, financial planning, health care allocation, doomsday speculation, and Twitter hot takes. In the first quarter of 2020, government leaders were publicly parsing these computational speculations, making huge decisions about whether to shut down schools, businesses, and travel. Would an unchecked outbreak kill millions, or fizzle out? Which interventions would help the most? How sure could we be of any forecast? Models disagreed, and some people pointed to whichever curve best supported their predilections. It didn’t help that the researchers building the models were still figuring out what the heck they were doing…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How Covid is changing the english language

Fast Company: “In April, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary did something unusual. For the previous 20 years, they had issued quarterly updates to announce new words and meanings selected for inclusion. These updates have typically been made available in March, June, September, and December. In the late spring, however, and again in July, the dictionary’s editors released special updates, citing a need to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the English language. Although the editors have documented many coronavirus-related linguistic shifts, some of their observations are surprising. They claim, for example, that the pandemic has produced only one truly new word: the acronym COVID-19. Most of the coronavirus-related changes that the editors have noted have to do with older, more obscure words and phrases being catapulted into common usage, such as reproduction number and social distancing. They’ve also documented the creation of new word blends based on previously existing vocabulary…”

Categories: Law and Legal

This is how police request customer data from Amazon

TechCrunch: “Anyone can access portions of a web portal, used by law enforcement to request customer data from Amazon, even though the portal is supposed to require a verified email address and password. Amazon’s law enforcement request portal allows police and federal agents to submit formal requests for customer data along with a legal order, like a subpoena, a search warrant, or a court order. The portal is publicly accessible from the internet, but law enforcement must register an account with the site in order to allow Amazon to “authenticate” the requesting officer’s credentials before they can make requests. Only time sensitive emergency requests can be submitted without an account, but this requires the user to “declare and acknowledge” that they are an authorized law enforcement officer before they can submit a request. The portal does not display customer data or allow access to existing law enforcement requests. But parts of the website still load without needing to log in, including its dashboard and the “standard” request form used by law enforcement to request customer data. The portal provides a rare glimpse into how Amazon handles law enforcement requests…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NYC Principals Union Votes 'No Confidence' In Mayor And Schools Chancellor

The union asked state authorities to intervene in New York City schools, just days before schools are set to open for in-person instruction.

(Image credit: Mark Lennihan/AP)

Categories: Just News

In Affluent Maryland County, Pandemic Exacerbates Food Insecurity

Since March, the number of people who lack a steady source of food has grown. In Montgomery County, a food assistance effort often runs out of prepared meals before it can feed everyone in need.

(Image credit: Xueying Chang/NPR)

Categories: Just News

In Rural Nebraska, Combating Hunger From The Pandemic Is A Community Effort

The town of Lexington has long struggled with food insecurity. But when the coronavirus hit, it presented new challenges in feeding this community of 11,000 residents.

(Image credit: Christina Stella/Harvest Public Media)

Categories: Just News

For One Food Insecure Family, The Pandemic Leaves 'No Wiggle Room'

The number of families struggling to afford food has skyrocketed since the start of the crisis. One family in Champaign, Ill., used to volunteer at a food pantry — now they depend on it.

(Image credit: Dana Cronin/Harvest Public Media)

Categories: Just News

Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes year he won presidency. Nothing at all in 10 of the previous 15 years.

Records Obtained by The Times After Years of Secrecy

  • “The Times has obtained tax-return data for President Trump extending over more than two decades. It tells a story fundamentally different from the one he’s sold to the public – revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.
  • Mr. Trump’s finances are under stress, beset by hundreds of millions in debt coming due and an I.R.S. audit that could cost him over $100 million.
  • He paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, and nothing at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he lost so much money.
  • The tax data examined by The Times provides a road map of revelations, from write-offs for the cost of a criminal defense lawyer and a mansion used as a family retreat to a full accounting of the millions of dollars the president received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Together with related financial documents and legal filings, the records offer the most detailed look yet inside the president’s business empire. They reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image — honed through his star turn on “The Apprentice” — that helped propel him to the White House and that still undergirds the loyalty of many in his base…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Food Insecurity In The U.S. By The Numbers

Before the pandemic, the number of families lacking consistent access to enough food had been steadily falling. Today, new estimates point to some of the worst rates of food insecurity in years.

(Image credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank for New York City)

Categories: Just News

Woman Charged With Attempted Murder After Driving Into Pro-Trump Protesters

It's the latest in a string of vehicular violence since nationwide protests over systemic racism began in May.

Categories: Just News

Violence Erupts Between Armenia And Azerbaijan Over Long-Disputed Region

Each country is blaming the other for initiating the conflict, which has reportedly left civilians dead on both sides. Armenia has declared martial law and mobilized its military.

(Image credit: Melik Baghdasaryan/Melik Baghdasaryan/Photolure/TAS)

Categories: Just News

'Summon Your Conscience': Biden Implores GOP Senators To Wait On SCOTUS Nomination

Joe Biden called on his former Republican colleagues in the Senate to wait to cast their votes for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee until after the general election.

(Image credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

How to blur your house on Google Street View

Mashable – (and why you should) – “Google Street View offers up a window to the world in all its bizarre, intimate, and often raw glory. That window just so happens to peek into your home, as well. What that peek reveals may be more than you’ve bargained for — think views into bedroom windows, potential fodder for stalkers, and more.  Thankfully, there is something you can do about it. Specifically, you can ask Google to permanently blur your house out — leaving only a smeared suggestion of a building in its place. The entire process is surprisingly easy. Google has never exactly been a steward of anyones’ privacy. In 2010, the company admitted that its Street View vehicles — the ones endlessly circling neighborhoods around the world — had secretly been collecting information from unencrypted WiFi networks they drove past for years.  So maybe you’re worried about an online stalker, maybe you don’t want strangers peering in your windows, or maybe you value privacy for its own sake and simply don’t think Google should have indexed and digitized photos of your home available for all to see. Whatever the reason, it’s relatively easy to request Google blur out the image of your home or apartment on Google Street View. Here’s what you do…” [Note – requests to Bing maps/street views do not result in any action after a three week wait.]

Categories: Law and Legal

'We Can't Stop The Outcome,' No. 2 Senate Democrat Says Of Barrett Confirmation

President Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court dominated the Sunday political shows, with Democrats accusing Republican senators of hypocrisy.

(Image credit: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Why you should read this out loud

BBC Future: “Most adults retreat into a personal, quiet world inside their heads when they are reading, but we may be missing out on some vital benefits when we do this…Today, silent reading is the norm. The majority of us bottle the words in our heads as if sitting in the hushed confines of a library. Reading out loud is largely reserved for bedtime stories and performances. But a growing body of research suggests that we may be missing out by reading only with the voices inside our minds. The ancient art of reading aloud has a number of benefits for adults, from helping improve our memories and understand complex texts, to strengthening emotional bonds between people. And far from being a rare or bygone activity, it is still surprisingly common in modern life. Many of us intuitively use it as a convenient tool for making sense of the written word, and are just not aware of it. Colin MacLeod, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, has extensively researched the impact of reading aloud on memory. He and his collaborators have shown that people consistently remember words and texts better if they read them aloud than if they read them silently. This memory-boosting effect of reading aloud is particularly strong in children, but it works for older people, too. “It’s beneficial throughout the age range,” he says…”

Categories: Law and Legal

It Took COVID Closures to Reveal Just How Much Libraries Do Beyond Lending Books

Observer “Since the early 19th Century, public libraries in the United States and throughout the world have thrown open their doors to people from all backgrounds, offering the gift of reading, supporting education and encouraging a sense of community. Sadly, some of the services offered have been undervalued in recent years—with budget cuts both in the U.K. and U.S. leading to shortages in funding for some libraries. Meanwhile libraries, whose free resources can be a lifeline for both readers and the wider community, have been quietly adapting to a changing world—improving and expanding their offering, introducing more online access and continuing to provide an invaluable service. This behind the scenes diligence meant that during the pandemic, libraries were able to prove themselves to be more resilient, future-proof and adaptable than many of us may have realized. In fact, the coronavirus crisis has enabled many libraries to truly prove their worth.

When the U.K. and U.S. imposed lockdown measures in March, libraries were forced to close their doors to the public, causing great consternation among users and library staff. “Our Chief Executive, Fiona Williams spoke for all of us when she said that she was heartbroken when we had to close libraries following government advice in March,” Gillian Holmes, executive assistant of Explore York Libraries and Archives in the U.K. told Observer. “We understand that libraries have an essential role to play in these challenging times, especially for our most isolated and vulnerable.”…

See also LLRXInvesting in Libraries is the Right Thing for Administrators To Do, Even if There Are Fewer Resources Overall

Categories: Law and Legal

Pandas, bald eagles, airplanes: D.C. area’s best webcams, ranked

Washington Post – “Zoom fatigue, we hear you. Skyrocketing smartphone usage, been there. And yet: When you’re missing your favorite D.C. spots, there’s an easy way for them to still come to you. Local webcams can provide hours of distraction and amusement, plus a status update on the crowded places where we used to casually hang out — and on the District’s cutest newborn, who resides at the National Zoo. Here are five of the Washington area’s best, ranked from least to most entertaining…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Scientists May Have Found a Material for Building on Mars

Wired Top Stories - Sun, 09/27/2020 - 09:00
Using simple chemistry, the organic polymer chitin can be transformed into a viable substance for creating tools and habitats on the Red Planet.
Categories: Just News

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