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Trump thanks Putin for kicking US Embassy workers out of Russia

This is the first thing Trump has said that made me laugh.

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Tillerson may quit soon, frustrated with Trump

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO Exxon-Mobil, is thinking about quitting his job because he is fed up with Trump, according to CNN.

Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late.

For weeks, conversations with Tillerson friends outside of Washington have left the impression that he, despite his frustrations, was determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year. That would allow time to continue efforts to reorganize the State Department and would mean he could claim to have put in a year as America's top diplomat.

But two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a "Rexit" from Foggy Bottom sooner that that.

Images: Office of the President-elect / Gage Skidmore Read the rest

Mueller asks WH staff to preserve all docs related to Don Jr.'s Russia meeting: CNN

CNN reports that special counsel Robert Mueller III has asked the staff of President Donald Trump's White Supremacist House to preserve all documents that may be related to a meeting organized by Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., at which he'd been promised dirty info hacked from Hillary Clinton by the Russian government.

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To become a Secret Service agent, recruits must pass these training exercises

According to this New York Times article, the Secret Service needs more members:

...John Roth, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, said last month as he laid out the Secret Service’s personnel shortfall at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Mr. Roth estimated that the agency needs to increase by 1,700 employees in five years, to 8,200, if it is to properly perform its investigative and better-known protection missions.

To show exactly what it takes to become (and remain) an agent, the Times went into a Secret Service training facility in Maryland. They filmed recruits performing the five rigorous training exercises they must pass: Physical training, control tactics, firearms (this course alone is 104 hours long), K9 and emergency response, and protective driving. The video is another one of those 360 degree ones. Read the rest

Office of the Director of National Intelligence admits its employee held down 15 other jobs and played games all day

Jason Leopold (previously -- Buzzfeed's public records activist, once branded a "FOIA terrorist" by the US government -- has secured records of an investigation into gross offenses by an unnamed employee of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, detailing the employee's incredible workplace conduct, from playing video games all day to moonlight for 15 separate employers while working for ODNI, to violating confidentiality rules to dig up dirt on Edward Snowden. Read the rest

This robot crawls up your butt to examine your colon

A colonoscopy is a very unpleasant selfie. The medical procedure involves having a long, thin, flexible camera inserted up your rectum and into your large intestine to look for ulcers, polyps, and tumors. Nobody looks forward to this. To improve the process, researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder's Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory designed a worm-like soft robot that employs a wavelike motion, similar to the way the bowel moves, to make its way up your large intestine. From their research abstract:

Traditional colonoscopy requires highly trained personnel to be performed. Additionally, current devices may cause discomfort and carry the risk of perforating the bowel wall. In this paper, a soft three modular section robot is designed, modeled, controlled and tested. Each of the robotic sections has three degrees of freedom, one translation and two rotations. The robot uses a peristaltic motion to translate, inspired by the motion generated by the bowel.

The robot uses nine independently controlled Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) springs as its actuators and a novel silicone rubber skin provides the passive recovery force to expand the springs to their original state. It also incorporates three air tubes, one for each section, to provide forced convection reducing the cooling time of the SMA springs.

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Pence laywers up

Mike Pence, currently Vice-President of the United States of America, has hired independent counsel to help him weather the dark cloud that is the 'Russian election hacking collusion/obstruction of justice/Russian cash for sanctions' investigation.

The vice president’s office said Pence’s decision to retain Cullen underscores his desire to fully cooperate with any inquiries related to the Russia probe and is in line with what Trump has done in hiring Kasowitz.

Kasowitz has told some White House personnel that they do not need to hire their own lawyers, according to one person familiar with some of the legal discussions that have occurred inside the White House. But Pence’s move to hire an outside attorney could set off a scramble among other West Wing aides — many of whom are already bracing for subpoenas — to do the same, even if only as a protective measure.

Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general, served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia under President George H. W. Bush and worked on President George W. Bush’s legal team during the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election.

His other high-profile clients have included Tom DeLay, the former Republican majority leader who was investigated by the Department of Justice for his relationship with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff; Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of Tiger Woods, in her divorce from the golf star; and former senator Paul Trible (R-Va.), during the Iran-contra investigation.

That is some client list Cullen has, Mr. Pence.

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20 or more fired at Uber after internal probe into sexual harassment and discrimination

Various sources this morning report that Uber had an all-hands meeting in which staff were told more than 20 employees are being fired as the result of a company investigation into claims of discrimination and sexual harassment.

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The abysmal information security at Trump properties has probably already compromised US secrets

Propublica and Gizmodo sent a penetration-testing team to Mar-a-Lago, the Trump resort that has been at the center of series of controversial potential breaches of US military secrecy (for example, loudly discussing sensitive information about the North Korean missile launch in the club's full, public dining room); they discovered that it would be child's play to hack the Mar-a-Lago networks, and that indeed, the networks have almost certainly already been hacked. Read the rest

The 2020 Census is headed for a "train wreck" thanks to Trump's mismanagement

The once-a-decade census is the "largest civic action undertaken by the entire country," providing data that "affects every corner of America, determining where hundreds of billions of federal dollars flow annually, where businesses open new stores and which states gain—or lose—seats in the House of Representatives." Read the rest

Comey asked Justice Dept. for money and manpower to investigate Russia/Trump days before he was fired: NYT

Former FBI director James Comey asked the Justice Department for “a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election” right before Trump fired him, reports the New York Times. That would sure explain a lot about why Trump suddenly delivered the surprise sacking yesterday.

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Business is booming for the surveillance state

Surveillance companies like Axon hope to turn every law enforcement officer into a data-gathering drone for a bodycam surveillance database they privately control. Now ShotSpotter, a listening technology that triangulates gunfire in "urban, high-crime areas," announced a planned IPO. Read the rest

The 10 worst jobs in America right now

Not all careers are created equal. Take journalism, for example. High stress, low growth, very low pay. Why would anyone choose this field? (You're asking the wrong person.) According to CareerCast, who ranked the 200 most common jobs in America, journalism is a pretty crummy field to be in this year (as in, last place on the list).

CareerCast used metrics such as "growth outlook, income, environmental conditions and stress" as their basis in creating this list. Here is the methodology they used.

And now (...drumroll...), here are the 10 worst jobs of 2017:

1. Newspaper reporter (Median Salary: $37,820)

2. Broadcaster (Median Salary: $38,870)

3. Logger (Median Salary: $37,590)

4. Enlisted military personnel (Median Salary: $27,936)

5. Pest control worker (Median Salary: $33,040)

6. Disc jockey (Median Salary: $30,830)

7. Advertising salesperson (Median Salary: $50,380)

8. Firefighter (Median Salary: $48,030)

9. Retail salesperson (Median Salary: $22,900)

10. Taxi driver (Median Salary: $24,300)

And in case you're wondering, the very best job these days is that of statistician (Median Salary: $80,110). To see CareerCast's full list of 200 ranked jobs, click here.

Image: Israel Government Press Office Read the rest

How to defend yourself from hostile consumer drones, US Army Edition

The US Army has released "Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Techniques," a manual for soldiers and commanders who find themselves in the field fighting forces that use modified consumer drones to gather intelligence and project force against them. Read the rest

Turns out Star Trek redshirts are not likeliest to die

The Museum of Mathematics recently hosted James Grime's talk "Star Trek: The Math of Khan." He debunked a common stereotype about the show's security detail: redshirts are not the most likely crew to die. Read the rest

DHS will protect Americans from foreign marijuana

In an abrupt aboutface the Department of Homeland Security, which is not the Drug Enforcement Agency, has made some interesting statements about the evils of marijuana.

Sounds more like a customs and import tariff problem than immigration law enforcement.

Via Talking Points Memo:

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday, DHS Secretary John Kelly said that marijuana was “not a factor” in the drug war (methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin were, he said). He seemed to change his tone Tuesday in a speech at George Washington University, according to a copy of prepared remarks provided by DHS.

“And let me be clear about marijuana. It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” Kelly said, adding: “Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books.”

“DHS personnel will continue to investigate marijuana’s illegal pathways along the network into the U.S., its distribution within the homeland, and will arrest those involved in the drug trade according to federal law,” he continued. “CBP will continue to search for marijuana at sea, air and land ports of entry and when found take similar appropriate action.”

And marijuana possession, distribution and convictions thereof, Kelly said, would be considered “essential elements” for ICE “as they build their deportation / removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens. They have done this in the past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future.”

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How to: tickle a rat

In a new meta-analysis published in PLOS One, researchers from Purdue, Stanford and the Canadian Council on Animal Care look at the different techniques used to induce laughter in rats in order to improve their wellbeing and capture their laughter, which is delightful. Read the rest

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