Texas judge told a jury that God personally told him that a sex trafficking defendant should be acquitted

Texas district judge Jack Robison told a jury that his god told him to tell a jury to acquit a sex trafficking defendant. The jury was not persuaded and found Gloria Romero Perez guilty. The Texas Judicial Commission issued a warning to Judge Robinson but took no further action against him.

From CNN:

Robison testified before the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct last month, and the commission released its warning on February 20.

The court documents show that Robison furnished letters from medical professionals to the judicial conduct panel, which concluded that Robison was not currently suffering from a mental illness.

The doctors determined Robison's actions were driven by delirium, a "temporary, episodic medical condition," according to the court papers. The doctors argued Robison's "fitness for duty" was not impaired.

Image: CNN Read the rest

2001: A Space Odyssey presented as a children's read-along book

This is the audio track from a 1984 children's read-along book adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The person who posted this to Reddit said, "If the abstract themes of this deep sci-fi classic escaped you watching the film, wait till you hear it crammed into 15 minutes for kids!" Here are photos of the pages from the book. Read the rest

Russian sailor, possibly inebriated, smashes cargo ship into South Korean bridge

The Yonhap News Agency reports that a 6,000 ton cargo ship under the command of a drunk Russian captain ran into the Gwangan Bridge in Busan today before "turning back to head in the opposite direction."

The lower part of the bridge sustained damage, but no injuries were reported.

The captain had a blood alcohol content of 0.086 percent. The legal limit is 0.03 percent.

"Authorities were also trying to determine why the ship was heading toward the bridge in the first place, when it should have been going in the opposite direction," reports the paper.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Insistent not-a-racist GOP Rep. Mark Meadows displays his racism

North Carolina's Rep. Mark Meadows was aghast that Rep. Rashida Tlaib found his parading HUD official Lynne Patton, a black woman, before congress as prop, to be racist. He insisted he is not a racist.

There is plenty of video of displaying Meadows smugly spreading racist "birther" theories about President Obama.

TPM:

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) was very indignant Thursday when Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) accused him of using HUD official Lynne Patton, a black woman, as a prop to counter Michael Cohen’s accusations of racism.

He retorted loudly, saying that her implication was racist and citing black people in his life.

Unfortunately for the self-righteous congressman, videos have surfaced since the fracas that show him espousing the thoroughly debunked “birther” theory about President Barack Obama.

Read the rest

Watch Spike Jonze commercial for weed retailer

Director Spike Jonze presents the history of the US's racist/classist war on marijuana in this commercial for MedMen, a cannabis retailer with shops in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Read the rest

Supreme Court rules against "excessive" police seizures and sales of property

Philly.com:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court's opinion in favor of Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana. Police seized Timbs' $40,000 Land Rover when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.

Reading a summary of her opinion in the courtroom, Ginsburg noted that governments employ fines "out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence" because fines are a source of revenue. The 85-year-old justice missed arguments last month following lung cancer surgery, but returned to the bench on Tuesday.

The Times:

Civil forfeiture is a popular way to raise revenue, and its use has been the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states.

There's an element of insanity to it all: it's so difficult to believe that police are allowed to seize and sell people's property that it was correspondingly difficult to get people to accept that it is a widespread practice, rather than some kind of swivel-eyed libertarian conspiracy theory.

Virtually every faction in American politics was firmly against it: the left, liberals, libertarians, movement conservatives, even Trumpkins. In fact, the only person I ever met who sincerely defended civil forfeiture was a self-described "moderate", a centrist. Read the rest

Phonetically consistent English

English is a dragon of a language, dozing atop an enormous mountain of phonemes. What if they were all melted down and minted into something more consistent? And then we tried to speak it? The results sound a bit like a Welsh accent. [YouTube] Read the rest

Man follows porch package thieves, follows them, and gets them arrested

This guy has a lot of security cameras, and he put them to good use to make a mini-documentary about tracking down a porch pirate. First, we see a black-and-white security camera view of a young woman walking up his driveway. The scene switches to a doorbell camera, where we see her walk to the door and leave with a package. It cuts back to the driveway cam to show her walking away with the purloined item.

Then we get a wonderful interior shot of our hero splayed shirtless on his living room couch. His wife comes in a pokes him in the back and lets him know that the security cam identified a person. He springs into action, runs to his pick up truck, and turns on his dash cam. He finds the thief (and a male accomplice with respectable sideburns) and calls the cops. In short order, the porch pirates are in the arms of justice.

Image: Thomas Penafiel/YouTube Read the rest

Yikes is over.

Seeing a slight resurgence online this week, perhaps due to issues related to the government shutdown, is the viral term "Yikes!" I humbly propose that this shopworn exclamation be replaced for the duration of 2019 with "Blimey!" This perfectly British alternative honors the derailed madness of Brexit and even comes with an optional intensifier — Cor Blimey! — though Americans would be advised to use it sparingly. Read the rest

Freeway sign crushes car in terrifying dashcam footage

An Australian woman is in stable condition after a massive freeway sign toppled onto her car near Melbourne. The dashcam video, captured by the driver behind her, is absolutely terrifying.

(I wonder if this will fit in J.K. Simmons' insurance-claim wunderkammer.) Read the rest

Lin-Manuel Miranda rescues New York's beloved, century-old Drama Book Shop

For more than 100 years, New York City's Tony-award-winning Drama Book Shop has been a stalwart of the city's thronging theater community; but like so many independent bookstores, it has struggled (it recently announced that it would have to leave its Times Square location on January 20 due to rent hikes). Read the rest

London Heathrow airport departures halted after drone sighting

First Gatwick, now Heathrow. Departures at London’s Heathrow airport were stopped for some time on Tuesday after a drone sighting was reported to authorities. Read the rest

White House tells furloughed workers to exchange manual labor for their rent

Nearly 800,000 people are hurting financially because of the government shutdown, according to NBC: 420,000 federal employees must continue to work without a paycheck until the shutdown ends, and another 380,000 are simply furloughed, or sent home without pay (and will, hopefully, be reimbursed after the Trumpian mess over the ridiculous wall is sorted out).

So how does the government advise these out-of-paycheck employees? The solution is simple: "Consult with your personal attorney." (Yeah, right.)

"Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with personal legal advice. If you need legal advice to assist you in any response to creditors, landlords or the like, consult with your personal attorney..." says the Office of Personnel Management, which acts as the federal government's human resources agency.

Or better yet, do some work for your landlord, such as painting or carpentry, in exchange for rent. (Even though not everyone has a landlord, and not everyone is able to perform manual labor.) Just ask your landlord like this:

"I will keep in touch with you to keep you informed about my income status and I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments."

In a tweet posted yesterday, the OPM offered advice and template letters that out-of-paycheck employees could use when asking their landlords for some (temporarily) free rent and understanding.

Read the rest

Girl in church does Macarena while the others recite the Sinners Prayer

This girl, trapped in a church, finds a way to escape the Sinners Prayer by doing the Macarena. Read the rest

Drones deliberately taunting Gatwick Airport, shutting it down for nearly 24 hours so far

Police are on the hunt for the owners of disruptive drones that have shut down London's Gatwick Airport for nearly 20 hours, preventing flights from taking off and landing. And these aren't your usual off-the-shelf drones, either. Police describe them as "industrial specification" drones, meaning they are "something bigger or more complex," according to CNN.

This is Gatwick's busiest time, with over 100,000 passengers stranded until the drone operators are located.

But locating them hasn't been easy.

Via CNN:

"Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears," Sussex Police Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw told the UK's Press Association...

Aviation expert Jon Parker told CNN he'd "seen nothing on this scale before," in terms of deliberate disruption by a drone to a major UK airport.

Usually, an airport shuts down for only half an hour when a drone disrupts an airport, but this case is different.

"The usual practice (when a drone is spotted) is to suspend flights for half-an-hour, which is the usual battery lifespan for drones," explained Parker, a former Royal Airforce fighter pilot and head of drone training company Flyby Technology.

But in the case of Gatwick, "whoever is responsible for this has had several batteries and have brought their drones back to the ground to put new batteries on them," he said.

Passengers describe the scene at Gatwick as "total chaos" and "utter shambles."

Passengers stranded at Gatwick in the early hours of Thursday described "total chaos" inside the terminal, with flights suspended and little information from staff.

Read the rest

500-year-old skeleton clad in thigh-high leather boots found face down in London mud

And I didn't even know Keith Richards was missing.

The New York Times reports on the discovery of a mudlarker's body in the Thames mud, complete with thigh-high leather boots.

Britons fishing or scavenging in the River Thames in central London are a rare sight these days. But in medieval times, the river was teeming with workers toiling along its banks. The 500-year-old skeleton of a man believed to be among them has been found buried in layers of river mud in southeast London, offering a glimpse of a bygone era.

Perhaps most intriguing, what remained of his legs was discovered in a pair of thigh-high leather boots — unusual even for his time. Specialists say the man could have been a fisherman, a dock worker or a mudlark — a scavenger who hunted for objects of value by the river.

Read the rest

Trump cybersecurity advisor Rudy Giuliani has no idea how the internet works

Rudy Giuliani fatfingered a tweet last week and inadvertently referenced a nonexistent URL (G-20.in); some clever wag registered the URL and stood up a static landing page that reads "Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country." Read the rest

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