By sabotaging the 2020 census, Republicans make it harder to fight gerrymandering

The best way to fight gerrymandering is to prove to courts that electoral districts have been unfairly formed, a tactic that's been used successfully in places like North Carolina; but for this to work, you need good demographic data to show that the district is unfair, and for that, you need an accurate census. Read the rest

Comey was so creeped out by Trump, he tried to hide in curtains to avoid Donald's weird hug

James B. Comey may once have tried to hide behind curtains to avoid Donald J. Trump, but the former FBI director's investigation could mean curtains for the Trump presidency.

Read the rest

Put on Your Corbyn Face: a game you win by displaying empathy

Games for the Many sends us Put on Your Corbyn Face, "A web game where you are challenged to match the emotions of a photo Jeremy Corbyn. Possibly the first web game you play with empathy and emotion." Read the rest

Wrapping up the Crooked Timber seminar on Walkaway: Coase's Spectre

Two weeks ago, the excellent Crooked Timbre groupblog kicked off a symposium on my novel Walkaway, inviting ten scholars, practitioners, activists and thinkers to weigh in on the novel with thoughtful, sometimes sharply critical essays. Read the rest

Report: Trump fired Comey because he would not publicly clear Trump of Russia ties

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because he "would not publicly state that there were no links between Trump and Russians," reports MSN, citing a paywalled article at The Wall Street Journal. He also hated Comey's relentless attention-seeking from the media, which offered Trump a staggeringly narcissistic excuse to fire him: inappropriate treatment of Hillary's emails.

...there was growing frustration among President Donald Trump’s associates that the former FBI director would not tamp down questions about the president’s alleged connection to Russia. He refused to “say those three little words: ‘There’s no ties,'” the source told WSJ about Trump’s decision to fire Comey without any forewarning. Comey was appointed in 2013 and had not yet served 6 years of what should have been a 10-year term. ... A White House source also said Trump was upset about what he viewed as the former director’s willingness to jump in front of cameras and questioned whether Comey could be independent while keeping such a high media profile. Another White House aide described the former FBI director as a show horse.

Read the rest

Centrist Macron thrashes far-right Le Pen in French presidential election

Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen by about 66%-34% in France's presidential election Sunday, with few votes outstanding. Macron, a 39-year-old centrist newcomer, faced a strong challenge from his far-right adversary, but polls never gave her a serious shot at the job. And on the day, the margin was even wider than expected.

Mr Macron will also become the first president from outside the two traditional main parties since the modern republic's foundation in 1958. ...

The Macron team said that the new president had had a "cordial" telephone conversation with Ms Le Pen.

In a speech she thanked the 11 million people who had voted for her. She said the election had shown a division between "patriots and globalists" and called for the emergence of a new political force.

The result came despite an internet-driven effort to torpedo Macron's campaign with hacks, leaked emails and conspiracy theories—a pattern that stoked fears of a similar outcome to last year's election in the U.S., where similar circumstances saw millionaire reality TV star Donald Trump prevail over Hillary Clinton.

It is indeed a sad day for American media who hoped the French were as dumb as us. Read the rest

You can already choose a new health plan under the American Health Care Act

With Obamacare all but history, Republicans are moving fast to provide replacement services that embody a principled conservative viewpoint on healthcare for America's poor. Check out the official ACHA website. Read the rest

Richard Mosse's striking Heat Maps, thermal images of refugees

Richard Mosse uses military-grade surveillance equipment intended for detecting enemy movement for an unintended use: to document the plight of refugees, an extension of an earlier project titled Incoming. Read the rest

The 19 Republicans who flipped positions to support Obamacare repeal

Meet the 19 Republicans who flipped their votes in favor of the ACHA, the bill that effectively repeals Obamacare and allows insurance companies to hike premiums and refuse to sell insurance to people on the basis of "pre-existing conditions" such as being the victim of domestic violence. There's something odd about them. Can't quite put my finger on it. Read the rest

Death is freedom: Republicans pass Obamacare repeal bill

In a 217-213 vote in the House of Representatives, every Democrat and 20 Republicans were not enough to prevent the passage of Paul Ryan's Obamacare repeal bill. The American Health Care Act (ACHA) will reportedly allow insurers to raise premiums and deny healthcare coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions (including being the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, or giving birth by c-section) and amounts to an $880-billion slashing of healthcare services in the form of a tax cut returning mostly to the rich.

The Senate, however, will not need any Democrats to pass it because they are using a procedural mechanism that allows the bill to pass the Senate to pass with just 51 votes instead of the usual 60-vote threshold. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.

The House measure came to the floor without an updated accounting of how much the bill will cost or its impact. The last assessment, which was done before the bill was altered, said that 24 million people would lose insurance, it would save $300 million and premiums would go down ten percent after ten years.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Georgia, said that having no updated CBO score is slightly concerning.

"It is a concern, but at this point we have to move forward. The American people are clear they want this done, so I think we have to strike when the iron's hot," he said.

The bill must still be voted on in the Senate. Then, assuming it passes, it will be signed into law by President Trump, who had promised before the election to provide healthcare coverage for all Americans. Read the rest

French far-right leader Le Pen plagiarized opponent's speech

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's nationalist movement and one of two candidates remaining in the country's presidential race, is a plagiarist—or at least one of her speechwriters is. The BBC reports that a speech of hers "seems to repeat one by beaten rival François Fillon" all but word-for-word.

• Mr Fillon's speech: "Then there is the Rhine frontier, the most open, the most dangerous, also the most promising - a Germanic world we have been so often in conflict with and with which we will yet co-operate in so many ways" Ms Le Pen's speech: "Then there is the Rhine frontier, the most open, also the most promising - a Germanic world we will yet co-operate with in so many ways, as long as we regain the relationship of allies and not of subjects"

• Both speeches refer to "waiting lists for the Alliance Française in Shanghai, Tokyo, or Mexico, for the French secondary school in Rabat or Rome"

• Both speeches quote World War One PM Georges Clemenceau, saying: "Once a soldier of God, and now a soldier of Liberty, France will always be the soldier of the ideal"

• Mr Fillon's speech: "France, as I have said, is a history, it is a geography, but it is also a set of values ​​and principles transmitted from generation to generation, as passwords. It is finally a singular voice addressed to all the peoples of the universe" Ms Le Pen's speech: "France is also a set of values and principles transmitted from generation to generation, as passwords.

Read the rest

Review: Wolfen (1981)

Wolfen stars Albert Finney as Dewey, a grizzled NYC detective assigned to figure out why a rich developer gentrifying the Bronx got mutilated and spread over an acre of Battery Park. Set at the turn of the 1980s, it was the first movie with a clear vision of what should be done with Donald Trump. Read the rest

Trump's reign is sad for tech, too

The first 100 days of Trump's presidency were a shambolic festival of incompetence and looming catastrophe. But it's not all about beltway politics, you know! Because the intense (and reasonable) focus is upon on the media-friendly dimensions of his buffoonery, we sometimes miss how it affects specific aspects of American life. The Verge took a look at what's already happening to the technology business, from the threatened end of net neutrality to immigration lockouts. If you had hoped tech might have gotten through unscathed, somehow, perhaps you aren't paying attention to how much his corner of the establishment hates it.

Under Donald Trump, Silicon Valley’s ideal of a global community no longer seems like the foregone conclusion it might have a few years ago, and people are still figuring out how to deal with the barriers Trump is erecting. Mass protests and legal battles have stalled bans on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, and the president’s love of Twitter isn’t doing him any favors in court. But there's still plenty more on the table that points to a future of isolation, not interconnection.

The change in course has shaken tech titans who are dedicated to getting the whole world online (and on their platforms). Mark Zuckerberg published a defense of "global community" that acknowledged its discontents, hoping to win the public’s affection before either running for president or making reality obsolete. Uber, meanwhile, stayed true to form and turned the protests into a way to make people hate it even more.

Read the rest

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai unveils his plan to kill Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai, the newly appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under Donald Trump, today announced his plans to undo government oversight of broadband ISPs, and destroy Net Neutrality.

Read the rest

Vietnam complained of "toxic" anti-government Facebook content, now says Facebook has committed to help censor

Vietnam's government today said Facebook has promised to work with the communist nation to prevent the publication and distribution of banned online content.

Read the rest

Iran sucks at censoring apps, so the Persian diaspora is using them for unfiltered political discussion

With a (symbolic) (but it's a potent symbol) election looming in Iran, the global Persian diaspora is not lacking for news organs that are producing the kind of unfiltered political news that would get you jailed or killed in Iran. Read the rest

Jimmy "Wikipedia" Wales just launched an anti-fake-news wiki: Wikitribune

Wikitribune (strapline: "Evidence-based journalism") is a newly launched project from Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, conceived of as a crowd-edited, crowd-funded tonic against fake news. Read the rest

More posts