New York Times, CNN and other media barred from White House press event

The New York Times reports that it and at least two other media outlets, CNN and Politico, were barred today from a White House press event. Also locked out were the LA Times and Buzzfeed, writes Politico's Dan Diamond.

Journalists from The New York Times and two other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.

Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend.

It's OK, though: Breitbart got in! Read the rest

Kim Jong-nam was killed with nerve agent

Malaysian authorities revealed that Kim Jong-nam, brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was murdered with VX after being pounced on by assassins at Kuala Lumpur airport.

The finding will add to the increasing evidence suggesting that Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea was behindlast week’s brazen and public attack on Kim Jong Nam, which South Korean officials have described as an apparent move by the young North Korean leader to get rid of a potential rival.

The incident, which took place at a busy airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, could also prove to be the final straw in a diplomatic vow between previously friendly Malaysia and North Korea, given that the regime in Pyongyang is now accused of using a certified chemical weapon on Malaysian territory.

As pointless as it may seem to point it out, this stuff is nasty.

VX, or O-ethyl S-(2-diisopropylaminoethyl) methylphosphonothiolate for short, is a colorless liquid nerve agent (not a gas) and a chemical weapon. Drops on the skin can wreak havoc on the nervous system and be enough to kill. VX can poison a person in food and water, or even sprayed as an aerosol—Kim Jong-nam’s assassins wiped it on his face, according to CNN.

The chemical was invented in 1952, by a pair of chemists who discovered it was really good at killing bugs. People soon realized VX would also be good at killing humans. Countries like Russia started synthesizing a slew of other chemically similar “V series” nerve agents, including VR, VE, and so forth.

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Tales from the ransomware "support line"

An article at News From the Lab (pdf) has 30 pages of copy from the support chat of a ransomware app: desperate pleas from victims for their files back, or, failing that, discounts on the unlock fee. [via]

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Adorable cockroach

Gil Wizen (@Wizentrop) takes amazing macro photographs of animals and plants. Would you have guessed this was a freshly molted Madagascar hissing cockroach? [via Tettix] Read the rest

Swedish town official proposes shag breaks for workers

Municipal employees would enjoy an hourlong paid shag break under proposals mooted by a local official. The latest wonder of Sweden's legendary social system seems contrived to mock puritanial Americans, but The New York Times reports that it's for real.

Noting that “sex is also a great form of exercise and has documented positive effects on well-being,” Mr. Muskos suggested that local municipal employees could use an hour of the workweek already allotted for fitness activities to go home and have sex with their spouses or partners instead. The motion, which is expected to be voted on in the spring, needs a simple majority to be passed by the 31-member council. As of now, opinion on the council is divided.

“We should encourage procreation. I believe that sex is often in short supply. Everyday life is stressful and the children are at home,” Mr. Muskos explained in his motion in Overtornea, a town of about 4,500 in the picturesque and remote Torne Valley. “This could be an opportunity for couples to have their own time, only for each other.”

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Punched Nazi Richard Spencer ejected from Conservative conference

Richard Spencer, the American white nationalist guru famous for being punched on camera by an antifascist protestor, was ejected today from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by security guards.

“I’m not welcome on the property?” Spencer asked.

“I’m not going to debate this,” said the guard. “This is private property. They want you off the property.”

After Spencer asked if could stay if he would simply “stay out of trouble,” he said a hashtag — “Free Spencer” — into the cameras, and posed for another photo as he was taken outside.

He attracted attention to himself after walking out during a deranged speech from American Conservative Union director Dan Schneider, who, desperate to distance the movement from Spencer's ilk, had described the Alt Right as a "left-wing" group. Read the rest

Help is an indie sequel to arcade classic Boot Hill

Help is just a prototype, but it's already nearly perfect: in the American west of 1869, hunt down the bandits who've kidnapped your wife, then return her safely home. The controls are simple (walk around with WASD and point and click with the mouse to shoot) and the aesthetic and gameplay add up to an austere but thoroughly modern echo of Boot Hill. Sadly Windows-only. Read the rest

Cockatoo barks like a dog

This umbrella cockatoo is a very good puppo. Read the rest

Off-duty cop drags kid into his yard, draws and fires gun

An off-duty cop got into a fight with a group of children who walked on his lawn, dragged a 13-year-old unarmed boy into his yard, pulled his firearm, then fired a shot. Thankfully, he missed. The incident in Anaheim, California, was captured on camera and has already led to protests.

Christian alleged in the video that the off-duty cop called a girl a "cunt" when telling her to get off his property, and then tackled him first when he stood up for her.

The verbal exchanges led to the off-duty cop dragging the kid towards some bushes. It's unclear from the tape if he ever identified himself as a police officer. "I'd understand if you were a cop, but you're not a cop," Christian told the off-duty officer at one point during the video. One teen came in to shove the man over the bushes after the impasse. Another took a swing but missed. That's when the off-duty cop reached into his waistband and pulled out a gun. The surrounding youth started backing off—and then a shot rang out.

The kid was charged with battery on an officer. KTLA has other footage.

The officer responds that the teen had said he was going to shoot him, and the teen denies that, saying, “I didn’t say that. Why you lying? I said, 'I’m going to sue you.'”

Then the pair tell each other to “get your hands off me.”

“I’m only like 13,” the teen says.

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AI learns to write code the old-fashioned way: stealing!

We've all seen the uncanny, not-quite-there art produced by new AIs. Why Matt Reynolds reports on an area computers might be expected to excel at creatively: programming themselves. And this one's doing it the same way humans do, by stealing and remixing.

DeepCoder uses a technique called program synthesis: creating new programs by piecing together lines of code taken from existing software – just like a programmer might. Given a list of inputs and outputs for each code fragment, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired result overall.

“It could allow non-coders to simply describe an idea for a program and let the system build it”

One advantage of letting an AI loose in this way is that it can search more thoroughly and widely than a human coder, so could piece together source code in a way humans may not have thought of. What’s more, DeepCoder uses machine learning to scour databases of source code and sort the fragments according to its view of their probable usefulness.

DeepCoder, make me a point-and-click adventure game featuring Rosicrucians, billionaire perverts and the complete dissolving of all culture by internet-mediated telepathy. Read the rest

Man invents vagina glue for menstruating women to hold in menses, frustratedly explains vaginas to them

Daniel Dopps, a chiropractor, has invented a vaginal glue applied with a lipstick-like device. The idea is to glue one's vagina shut during menstruation, thereby obviating the need for sanitary pads or tampons: he claims that the glue will dissolve and menses thereby released during urination, after which one's vag glue can be reapplied. His product has the rather spectacular name "Mensez," lady consumers are not impressed by any of it, and Dopps is therefore having to explain it to them until they understand.

The superficially feminine stock art over masculine sales concepts really pulls it together. CONTROL IS THE SECRET. LEAKAGE. INFECTION. COMFORT. Read the rest

Picture of Bill O'Reilly complaining about non-experts bloviating on TV

This is doing the rounds invariably attached to the remark "not photoshopped," which leads me to think it must be. Surely old Bill isn't that unselfware? Read the rest

Is this a Midicorn or a Unichord?

Andrew Huang created a MIDI unicorn: a short musical piece that appears as a unicorn when represented in linear musical notation. You can download the MIDI file itself. Read the rest

Sketch a cat and edges2cats will create a deep dreaming catrocity that fits

The machine knows what cat parts are and knows where they go, and can glue them together to fit drawings of cats that you provide. Whether the results charm or horrify you might depend on whether you, yourself, are part of the simulation. The Next Web interviews creator Christopher Hesse. Read the rest

Alex Trebek raps

Remixers start your engines: "Who knew Alex Trebek could flow?" Read the rest

Comfortably Numb on acoustic guitar

The Acoustician performs excellent acoustic, instrumental guitar covers of classic rock songs. See the solo training videos too.

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Review: Punkt's MP01 is the ultimate minimalist dumbphone

Punkt's MP01 is a minimal treat for people wanting a simple but flawless phone—and willing to pay top dollar for a few details done very well. Read the rest

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