Everyone could use a dog helper when shoveling snow. [Link]
Jeff Bezos is departing Amazon.com, the company he founded.
"Bezos will step down as CEO and become executive chairman, naming the head of its lucrative cloud computing division as successor in a sign of the company's transformation from web retailer to internet conglomerate," reports Reuters.
Previous Amazon news: their new HQ don't look so great.
In August, internal research at Facebook showed that ~70% of the platform's most active Groups were considered too toxic to recommend to users, reports Jeff Horwitz at the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. It's a well-documented tale of Facebook knowing it was amplifying domestic terrorism, and failing to address it.
From Jeff Horwitz's piece at the Wall Street Journal:
The company's data scientists had warned Facebook executives in August that what they called blatant misinformation and calls to violence were filling the majority of the platform's top "civic" Groups, according to documents The Wall Street Journal reviewed. Those Groups are generally dedicated to politics and related issues and collectively reach hundreds of millions of users.
The researchers told executives that "enthusiastic calls for violence every day" filled one 58,000-member Group, according to an internal presentation. Another top Group claimed it was set up by fans of Donald Trump but it was actually run by "financially motivated Albanians" directing a million views daily to fake news stories and other provocative content.
Roughly "70% of the top 100 most active US Civic Groups are considered non-recommendable for issues such as hate, misinfo, bullying and harassment," the presentation concluded. "We need to do something to stop these conversations from happening and growing as quickly as they do," the researchers wrote, suggesting measures to slow the growth of Groups at least long enough to give Facebook staffers time to address violations.
"Our existing integrity systems," they wrote, "aren't addressing these issues."
There's a newly adopted Rottweiler in the house, and this doggo wants to play. [Video Link]
When the bass drops. [video link]
Reuters: "Former U.S. President Donald Trump's office on Sunday said trial lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor will lead Trump's legal team during his Senate impeachment trial."
This announcement follows the not-entirely-surprising news just yesterday that Trump and *all of the lawyers* on his legal team had suddenly parted ways.
Who knows what tomorrow's installment will bring.
"Hours after the United States voted, the president declared the election a fraud — a lie that unleashed a movement that would shatter democratic norms and upend the peaceful transfer of power." — NYT 1/31/2021
Just out on Sunday night, this extensive New York Times reconstruct of Donald Trump's failed 77-day attempt to subvert American democracy, and overthrow the 2020 presidential election. That's quite the shared byline, too, a lot of reporting power.
Across those 77 days, the forces of disorder were summoned and directed by the departing president, who wielded the power derived from his near-infallible status among the party faithful in one final norm-defying act of a reality-denying presidency.
Throughout, he was enabled by influential Republicans motivated by ambition, fear or a misplaced belief that he would not go too far.
In the Senate, he got early room to maneuver from the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. As he sought the president's help in Georgia runoffs that could cost him his own grip on power, Mr. McConnell heeded misplaced assurances from White House aides like Jared Kushner that Mr. Trump would eventually accede to reality, people close to the senator told The Times. Mr. McConnell's later recognition of Mr. Biden's victory would not be enough to dissuade 14 Republican senators from joining the president's last-ditch bid to nullify millions of Americans' votes.
Likewise, during the campaign, Attorney General William P. Barr had echoed some of Mr. Trump's complaints of voter fraud. But privately the president was chafing at Mr. Barr's resistance to his more authoritarian impulses — including his idea to end birthright citizenship in a legally dubious pre-election executive order. And when Mr. Barr informed Mr. Trump in a tense Oval Office session that the Justice Department's fraud investigations had run dry, the president dismissed the department as derelict before finding other officials there who would view things his way.
Former president Donald Trump's legal team didn't last long.
As of Saturday night, CNN is reporting that all five lawyers identified as part of Trump's impeachment defense — Butch Bowers, Deborah Barbier, Josh Howard, Johnny Gasser, and Greg Harris — have departed.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN White House Correspondent: "With a little more than a week before his impeachment trial is set to begin, President Trump's legal team is up in the air. Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team."
Collins adds, "A third attorney, Josh Howard, who was also recently added to Trump's defense team, has also left, I'm told. Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and it was stolen from him rather than focus on proposed arguments about constitutionality."
As of last week, South Carolina attorneys Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier were expected to join the team, but now a source familiar with the matter says it was a "mutual decision" to part ways. (…) Those close to the former president are unable to identify anyone on his legal team with just over a week to go until the trial begins on Feb. 9.
Forty-five Senate Republicans backed a failed effort last Tuesday to halt Trump's impeachment trial, in a show of party unity that some cited as a clear sign he will not be convicted of inciting insurrection at the Capitol.
Whew. The replies.
O.J. Simpson [@TheRealOJ32], on Twitter today, shared an image of himself receiving the coronavirus vaccine, and captioned it: 'Get your shot. I got mine!!!'
• Special counsel also criticizes HHS general counsel for 'attempts to shame the whistleblower.'
The Trump administration's incompetence in managing the first Wuhan evacuees one year ago at the beginning of the COVID pandemic "increased the risk of infection transmission … to the American public as a whole," a federal watchdog concludes in documents obtained by the Washington Post.
Dan Diamond at the Washington Post reports:
As the first American evacuees from Wuhan, China, touched down at a California military base a year ago, fleeing the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, they were met by U.S. health officials with no virus prevention plan or infection-control training — and who had not even been told to wear masks, according to a federal investigation.
Later, those officials were told to remove protective gear when meeting with the evacuees to avoid "bad optics," and days after those initial encounters, departed California aboard commercial airline flights to other destinations.
The "most troubling finding" is that the government's handling of the Wuhan evacuees "increased the risk of infection transmission not only to deployed [government] personnel, but also to the American public as a whole," Special Counsel Henry Kerner wrote in a letter to President Biden on Thursday.
Store surveillance video captured this wild scene in China: a phone battery exploding after a man bites into it. The clip has gone viral on Chinese social media.
The man can be seen putting the phone battery into his mouth before it suddenly explodes dangerously close to the woman's face.
A shortened version of the footage went viral on Chinese social media sites two days later, with many commentators asking whether the woman was hurt and wondering if the man had bitten the battery to test its authenticity.
In a January 23 post, the woman addressed these inquiries: "I'm the person involved," she wrote. "…I haven't been disfigured; thanks for your concern. He didn't [bite the battery] because he wanted to test its authenticity; actually my partner just has the habit of putting things into his mouth and nibbling on them. I'm okay, just my bangs were burnt a little bit. My first reaction was 'Are my eyebrows okay?'"
She added that the battery her partner had bitten into wasn't a genuine iPhone battery.
Two boaters helped free this dolphin entangled in fishing nets off the coast of Kawau Island, Auckland, New Zealand, on January 3. [Video Link]
President Joe Biden tomorrow afternoon (Friday, January 29th) will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to visit with wounded service members. [via]
Ah, yes, another case of mistaken social media handle identity.
The World Wide Robin Hood Society, based in the heart of Sherwood, Nottingham, England, has a bunch of new followers on Twitter.
The Robin Hood you are probably looking for, if you're looking for the account related to the whole GameStop stock short shenanigins, is @RobinhoodApp.
More about all of this malarkey in Rob's earlier post.
A World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic will meet Chinese scientists on Friday and plans to visit labs, markets and hospitals in Wuhan, reports Reuters.
"The team plans to visit hospitals, laboratories and markets. Field visits will include the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Huanan market, Wuhan CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) laboratory," the WHO said in a tweet.
The team left its quarantine hotel in Wuhan on Thursday to begin field work, two weeks after arriving in the Chinese city where the virus emerged in late 2019.
The mission has been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between China and the United States, which has accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.