U.S. spies are withholding intelligence from Donald Trump, who has none

Capping off Donald J. Trump's No Good Very Bad Horrible Day today, the Wall Street Journal reports that senior U.S. intelligence officials are deliberately withholding sensitive information from the President because they don't trust him. Today's report cites sources inside the White House, and underscores the deep mistrust between career spies and the imploding kakistocracy. Read the rest

FBI randomly releases documents from Trump's 1973 racial discrimination case

This has not been a good week for Donald Trump. Today, seemingly at random, the FBI released hundreds of pages of documents related to the 1970s investigation into racial discrimination at Trump Management Company. The firm rented out apartment homes in New York, and was founded by President Donald Trump’s late father, Fred. The young Donald J. Trump carried on his dad's legacy, in every respect.

“This release consists of FBI materials on an investigation conducted between 1972 and 1974 into allegations that the Trump Management Company had discriminated against applicants for apartment rentals on account of their race,” reads the introductory statement on the FBI.gov records archive.

The files contain 389 pages of interviews, notes, and other material generated by or used by the Justice Department in its 1973 housing racial bias case in New York against Fred Trump and his son, Donald J. Trump.

More at The Washington Post and The Hill.

From WaPo:

One affidavit from an unnamed former Trump Management employee, who said that he had been fired, said that Fred Trump told him “it was absolutely against the law to discriminate” but later told him “he also wanted to get rid of the blacks that were in the building.”

Trump and his father settled the case in 1975 without admitting wrongdoing, but they were required to take out advertisements saying they welcomed renters of all races. Trump said in an interview with The Post last year that he believed the charges brought against him and his father were unfair, and that the company never discriminated.

Read the rest

U.S. prepares for #DayWithoutImmigrants strike on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017

A growing number of restaurants and other businesses are closing in solidarity with Thursday's 'Day Without Immigrants' protests in cities throughout the United States. Read the rest

What does U.S. law say about White House staffers leaking Trump dirt to the press?

“Until Trump can remedy his problem of credibility and faith, the truth will find a way.” Read the rest

Pentagon may propose that Trump send U.S. ground troops to Syria

The Defense Department is expected to propose that the United States send ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time, expand the assault on ISIS, CNN's Barbara Starr reports. Read the rest

'Flynn Doesn't Matter,' says TPM's Josh Marshall, 'This Is About Trump'

A scorching analysis of the unprecedented last few days in America from Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo, following the Russia-clouded resignation of Trump national security Michael Flynn, who follows the Russia-scandal resignation of Paul Manafort, and other advisors who've stepped aside under various clouds of suspicion. Read the rest

Beautiful coin spins for 7-9 minutes

J.L. Lawson & Co makes tops, spinner coins, and other hand-machined products.

Their latest thing is the Tempus Spin Coin, and has been successfully funded on Kickstarter. It's still available in .999 silver, bronze, and copper.

For those of you that are interested in spin times, my average time ranges from 7-9 minutes. Considering the art isn't balanced, the spin is fairly balanced but, keep in mind, this coin wasn't intended for perfect spinning. It's more to help keep you entertained at the local bar.

Read the rest

Drug catapult found attached to Arizona-Mexico border fence

The taller the wall, the farther catapults like these will be able to fling bundles of drugs. This one was found at the Mexico-Arizona border.

From KVUE:

When agents arrived, they searched the area and located two bundles of marijuana, weighing more than 47 pounds combined, as well as a catapult system attached to the Mexico side of the border fence.

Read the rest

Puzzle: the lazy electrician

Here's a brain teaser from the Art of Play newsletter. I have not tried to solve it yet.

A lazy electrician is hired to fix the wiring in a tall building. In the basement are three buttons labeled, “A, B & C.” On the top floor of the building there are three ceiling fans in three different apartments labeled, “1, 2 & 3.” The landlord tells the electrician that each button in the basement is connected to one of the three fans upstairs—press the button once, and the fan turns on. Press it twice, and that same fan turns off. The problem is, no one knows which button controls which fan.

There is no elevator in the building and the electrician is very lazy so he will only climb up the stairs to the top floor once. It will take him nearly an hour to climb all the stairs and he refuses to use any assistance of any kind in order to complete this job. If it is impossible to see the fans from outside of their respective apartments, how does the electrician discover which button controls which fan once he climbs up the stairs for the first (and last) time?

Read the rest

National Enquirer's "Special investigation" exposes the truth within the Trump White House

At last, the darkest scandals of the Trump family are revealed.

"Melania and Ivanka Trump's private lives!" promises the cover of this week's 'National Enquirer' in a "special investigation."

The standard 'Enquirer' exposé would dig up old boyfriends to dish the dirt, scour criminal records, probe Melania's murky Eastern European origins and revel in Ivanka's lap-of-luxury childhood of spoiled excess.

What scandal does the 'Enquirer' dig up?

"The pain and persecution they overcame to finally stand beside the seat of American power!" As if.

The 'Enquirer' claims that its two-month investigation "in a manner never accomplished before" concluded, in the words of an unnamed source, that Melania and Ivanka "will restore grace to the White House and guide this president in a way that likely has never been seen before!" That must have been one heck of an investigation.

Despite its headline, the 'Enquirer' can't come up with any way in which Melania was ever persecuted, though it reveals that a pre-teen Ivanka had to endure questions from reporters (most likely 'Enquirer' reporters) about her father's extra-marital affair with Marla Maples.

Shocking.

It's an astonishingly sycophantic propaganda piece, quite different from 'Us' magazine's cover this week revealing "Melania's Struggle - A Life She Never Wanted." As the story explains, "feeling isolated and unprepared, the reluctant first lady is secretly miserable."

As is anyone who felt that the tabloids once served a use as the slumdog scavengers of news others were too respectable or reluctant to research, exposing O.J. Simpson's incriminating Bruno Magli shoes, John Edwards' love child, Gary Hart pictured aboard 'Monkey Business' with model Donna Rice, and Rush Limbaugh's OxyContin addiction. Read the rest

This cheap bidet is amazing

I bought thisnon-electric bidet last month and without going into detail, I have to say it's a game changer. I just bought another one for the other bathroom. The water is not heated like with those high-tech Japanese toilets, but there's something to be said for a refreshing blast of cold water. Installation took less than 15 minutes. Read the rest

Puzder to withdraw labor secretary nomination, as Team Trump fails and flails

Trump's pick for Labor Secretary is reported to be withdrawing his name from consideration. Read the rest

A catalogue and history of one of the most pervasive subcultures — UFO believers

I am not that interested in speculation on whether aliens have ever visited the Earth. What I am excited about, however, are all the ways we have imagined them, from the earliest grainy photos of saucer shapes in the sky to the orchestral-minded, big-eyed aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the 1950s and 1960s, UFOs became ubiquitous in the pulp magazines and cheap popular paperbacks. With their lurid cover and claims that “Flying Saucers Have Landed,” these publications would set the popular consciousness afire. They also opened up theories of ever sort as to the origins of UFOs and what role the government might play in covering them up. From the hollow Earth, to Mars, to other dimensions, the UFO myth could contain almost any form of conjecture. Jews? Maybe. Men in black? Most certainly. Spiritual avatars leading us to a new age? Let’s hope so.

“Flying Saucers Are Real” by Jack Womack collects the science fiction author’s personal collection of UFO-related ephemera, and reveals what William Gibson describes in the book’s introduction as the “source code” of the UFO idea that has been programmed into all of us. Womack introduces the popular UFO myth as starting with what is known as the Shaver mystery, the strange tales of Richard Shaver who claimed to have visited the great civilization that lives in the hollows of the earth. Their brethren fled our planet on spaceships, but those left behind—the Dero—seek to kidnap and enslave human beings for the own (usually sexual) means. Read the rest

Fool strangers in public places with the code-generating website

Shoulder surfers will be totally blown away by your movie hacker skills!

[via] Read the rest

A surprisingly large number of animals kill each other after sex

Katherine Ellen Foley reports on the curious phenomenon of sexual cannibalism in the animal kingdom.

But octopuses aren’t the only ones who kill their sex partners. Female praying mantises often kill their mates, especially if they’re hungry, and within certain species of spiders, the males will actually offer themselves as a meal for their newly-impregnated partners.

Despite the ferocity of mating in the animal kingdom, romance is not dead: sexual cannibalism can be something of a gift from the male to the female in many cases. Female wolf spiders and tarantulas, who often eat males pre-intercourse, produce 30% more eggs than those who don’t when they finally get around to mating. And in the mantis’ case, the death of one male often means the survival of the reproducing female.

“It’s probably not the male’s preferred outcome,” Scheel says. “But if you think about it…contributing his calories to his offspring doesn’t do any harm [to the species].”

Read the rest

Largest coal-fired power plant is shutting down. What will Trump do now?

Trump made a big deal about saving the dying coal industry. “[We’re] bringing back jobs, big league. We’re bringing them back at the plant level. We’re bringing them back at the mine level. The energy jobs are coming back.”

But in recent weeks, owners of two coal-fired power plants announced they were going to cease operations, including the largest coal-fired facility in the western United States. They can't compete with natural gas price, which "have made it more expensive to produce electricity at the facility than to purchase it from cheaper sources," according to the Washington Post. It reminds me of my friend who sells novelty items on his website, but stopping because Amazon's retail price of the same items is usually less than the price he pays to buy the items from manufacturers.

Trump’s ability to save the Navajo plant and others like it is limited, despite his rhetoric. Even if his administration follows through on its promises to relax regulations on the coal industry, those changes aren’t likely to change coal’s fading market.

And if the owners of coal-fired plants lose money when they operate their facilities, keeping them running makes little economic sense.

For some reason, Trump's energy plan makes no mention of solar, "an industry that just added 51,000 jobs." Maybe he could issue an executive order requiring solar panels to have coal burners on them to belch smoke. Read the rest

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5, big bucks for big sound

Bang & Olufsen's H5 Bluetooth, water resistant, in-ear buds are pretty damn great. For $220 they had better be. Read the rest

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