TSA's new "pat-downs" are so invasive, airports are pre-emptively warning cops to expect sexual assault claims

If the TSA thinks that you're suspicious -- or if you opt out of the "optional" full-body scanner -- you get a junk-touching "secondary screening" in which the screeners "pat you down" by rubbing the backs of their hands on your genitals and other "sensitive areas" (they can be pretty rough -- a screener at ORD once punched me in the balls to retaliate for me asking him not to rest the tub containing my bags on top of my unprotected laptop). Read the rest

Arkansas wants to ban all classroom mentions of Howard Zinn (teachers, get your free books!)

The Arkansas legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit "any books or other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn" in its schools, on the grounds that Howard Zinn says means things about America, like, "It has the kinds of censoring, undemocratic state governments that ban all books by and discussions of critics of America and its actions." Read the rest

Trump wants to separate small children from their mothers in immigration detention

A leaked Trump administration briefing described by Reuters reveals a plan to separate children, including very young children, from their mothers for immigration detention purposes, seemingly as a deterrent to parents who attempt to cross the US border without authorization. Read the rest

The US Patent Office just (in 2017!) awarded IBM a patent over out-of-office email

On January 17, 2017 -- yes, 2017 -- the USPTO granted Patent 9,547,842 to IBM: "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system." Read the rest

US border guards can't believe Nigerian man is a software engineer, google "questions to ask a software engineer" and give him a pop quiz

Celestine Omin is a Nigerian software engineer who works for Andela, a technology company backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded to give talented African coders an entree into the leading American tech firms; this week, he flew to the USA on a B1/B2 visa to meet with the company, but he found himself detained at the border. Read the rest

The CPAC replacement speaker for Milo Yiannopoulos was a notorious Japanese cult-member

After his awkward endorsement of pedophilia disqualified Milo Yiannopoulos to be the hard right's token gay pal, CPAC needed a new speaker to fill his slot their conference, and the guy they chose was Jikido 'Jay' Aeba, a member of the notorious Japanese "Happy Science" cult, who helped the religion extrude a tendril into the political realm by founding the Happiness Realization Party. Read the rest

Human rights coalition to DHS: don't demand social media passwords from people entering the USA

A huge coalition of human rights groups, trade groups, civil liberties groups, and individual legal, technical and security experts have signed an open letter to the Department of Homeland Security in reaction to Secretary John Kelly's remarks to House Homeland Security Committee earlier this month, where he said the DHS might force visitors to America to divulge their social media logins as a condition of entry. Read the rest

For the past 40 years, the presence of immigrants in US cities was correlated with a reduction in violent and property crime

In a new paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, sociologists and criminologists from University at Buffalo (SUNY), the University of Alabama, Kennesaw State University, the State of Georgia, and Georgia State University review 40 years' worth of FBI data on violent crimes and property crimes, correlating this data series with Census data on the influx of immigrants to US cities. Read the rest

American airbase personnel sent erroneous "Missile inbound -- seek shelter" warning

Last Tuesday, all wing personnel on the US Spangdahlem Air Base received a warning: "MISSILE INBOUND. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!" The warning was recalled eight minutes later. Read the rest

America: where hundreds of thousand of underage girls are married off by their parents

The nonprofit Unchained At Last analyzed US marriage license data from 2000 to 2010 and learned that 167,000 children (almost all girls, some as young as 12) in 38 states were married off to older men: 31% of the girls were married to men who were 21 or older. Extrapolating from their data-set, Unchained at Last estimates the true total of child-marriage 2000-2010 as 248,000. Read the rest

Mark Twain's 1900 rewrite of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, strangely apropos today

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword; He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored; He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored; His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps; I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps— His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel: "As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal; Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel; Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;* Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat; O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet! Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch, With a longing in his bosom—and for others' goods an itch. As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich— Our god is marching on.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated [Wikipedia]

(Image: Trumpshair.com) Read the rest

Immediately after Mike Pence's departure, reasonable Indiana Republicans began undoing his work

As Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was significantly to the right of the mainstream, even for his own party -- so it's no surprise that in the days after his resignation (to become vice president of the USA), his successor and state Republican lawmakers: pardoned an innocent man who'd been locked up for 20 years (whom Mike Pence refused to help); allowed a town to declare a state of emergency; greenlit a needle-exchange; and overrode his vetoes, which would have allowed university cops to keep their records secret and which prevented strict environmental rules. Read the rest

Parliament ponders letting US immigration strip-search Canadians in Canadian airports, force them to explain immigration withdrawals

The current pre-clearance rules for Canadians being processed through US immigration at Canadian airports limit the powers of US immigration officials, preventing them from strip-searching Canadians (they can ask Canadian border guards to do it, but if the Canadian guards refuse, they're out of luck) and giving Canadians the ability to turn around and leave the immigration area, returning to Canada, if they don't like the way they're being treated by the US guards. Read the rest

South Dakota lawmaker blocks workplace protection for pregnant workers: "It's not prison. You can quit."

South Dakota state Rep. Wayne H Steinhauer [R-9] (Phone: 605-526-4269/ 605-773-3851/ 605-359-6298); Email: Wayne.Steinhauer@sdlegislature.gov, never-used Twitter account) was part of a group of eight male, GOP reps who killed a bill that would have guaranteed workplace accommodations to pregnant South Dakotans. During the hearing, Rep Steinhauer told women "It’s not prison. You can quit." Read the rest

Piketty: the poorest half of Americans saw a "total collapse" in their share of the country's wealth

In a new analysis of the World Income Database published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Thomas Piketty and colleagues from the Paris School of Economics and UC Berkeley, describe a "collapse" of the share of US national wealth claimed by the bottom 50% of the country -- down to 12% from 20% in 1978 -- along with an (unsurprising) drop in income for the poorest half of America. Read the rest

Multigenerational wealth makes white Americans richer than black Americans

Black American wage disparity can be offset by education; but even though black American families -- one parent, two parent, educated, uneducated, employed, unemployed -- save more and spend less than their white counterparts, white families have substantially more wealth than black families -- college-educated white adults have 7.2 times the wealth of their black counterparts. Read the rest

Canadians overwhelmingly support trade war with the USA if the alternative is capitulation on NAFTA

A Globe and Mail poll of Canadians shows that 58% of the country wants PM Justin Trudeau's government to stand strong on NAFTA's terms, even if it means a trade war with the USA. Read the rest

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