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“Vanguard II was the world’s first meteorological satellite.

Multiple lines of mysterious ancient humans interbred with us

The constitutional narrative that has guided the Supreme Court’s thinking on the death penalty for most of the past four decades is beginning to change. Developing in its place is a new approach that puts less emphasis on the rights of inmates on death-row and more on the power of the states to carry out executions.

A popular meme takes aim at prominent lawmakers by referencing the number of bills they’ve had passed. But it uses an erroneous number — and omits context.

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A post shared by thousands of Facebook users criticizes three well-known members of Congress by citing an incorrect and out-of-context figure to question their legislative effectiveness.

“67 combined years … 6 bills passed,” the viral meme reads, above photos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Maxine Waters, who are both Democrats, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The meme leaves the impression that the lawmakers, combined, have only had “6 bills passed.” That’s wrong.

In the hours after the public release of the redacted report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller, President Donald Trump took to Twitter with a message that reads, in part, “NO OBSTRUCTION!”

That’s not at all what the Mueller report says, though.

The Russia report released April 18 contradicts President Donald Trump’s claims that special counsel Robert Mueller had two conflicts of interest that prevented him from conducting an impartial investigation:


Online lending company broke the law. FTC counts the ways. Share this page Facebook Twitter Linked-In April 15, 2019 by Colleen Tressler Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Avant, LLC, a company offering personal loans online. According to the FTC, Avant deceived customers in a bunch of ways about what and how they were supposed to pay. For example, the FTC alleges that Avant:

advertised that it would take payments by credit or debit cards when, in many cases, it wouldn't;
illegally required customers to agree to automatic payments from their bank accounts;
deceived customers about the amount needed to pay off their loans;
collected — or tried to collect — more money from people who paid the quoted payoff amount; and
made unauthorized charges on customers’ bank accounts.
The settlement bars Avant from engaging in similar conduct and requires it to pay $3.85 million to thousands of customers harmed by its loan se... show more


When the government mandates work requirements for food stamps, who actually profits?

When Wisconsin implemented work requirements, it cost double what it was supposed to and lifted only a tiny fraction of participants out of poverty. The contractor it hired violated civil rights and was accused of coercing labor.
If USDA’s proposed changes do go into effect nationwide, they represent a potential gold rush for the corporations that contract with local governments to handle the training programs SNAP users must join in order to prove they’re looking for work.
Statewide, the program is expensive, it doesn’t find jobs for most people, and its practices have violated participants’ civil rights on numerous occasions. One contracted company has been credibly accused of coerced labor.
When Wisconsin first implemented those work requirements, the state awarded the employment training contract for three of its most po... show more




About twice as many of the largest U.S. companies reported they didn’t owe taxes in 2018 compared with previous years, a partial result of the 2017 Trump tax law, according to a report.

At least 60 companies reported that their 2018 federal tax rates amounted to effectively zero, or even less than zero, on income earned on U.S. operations, according to an analysis released today by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The number is more than twice as many as ITEP found roughly, per year, on average in an earlier, multi-year analysis before the new tax law went into effect.

Among them are household names like technology giant Amazo... show more


Julian Assange's charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warn Parts of the indictment go head-to-head with basic journalistic activities protected by the first amendment, academics say


leading first amendment scholars and advocacy groups have warned.

Prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia released on Thursday an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder that has been under seal since March 2018. It will now form the basis of the US government’s request for Assange to be extradited from the UK to Alexandria to face trial.

Inside the webchats the US hopes will get Assange behind bars
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Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. They said t... show more

I am looking forward to seeing the case go forward without media hype. Unfortunately, I can only ignore the media hype if the public charges and trial are available publicly. We shall see.


White supremacists are trying to recruit American teens through video games A scholar of gaming culture on what went wrong with “gamer” culture — and why white nationalists see gamers as potential allies.

In 2014, a group of self-described gamers viciously harassed feminist game developers and cultural critics, regularly threatening one of these women’s public appearances.

n her research since then, she’s found that the misogyny of Gamergaters is part of a much bigger reactionary tendency among a certain subset of men and boys who play video games, an ideologically charged “gamer” identity that centers a stereotyped white male nerd as the “authentic” gamer. This kind of gamer reacts angrily to individuals who they think threaten their “safe space,” as Condis cheekily termed it — a kind of attitude that has white supremacists see as signaling openness to their even darker worldview. “Recruiters go to where targets are, staging seemingly casual conversations about issues of race and identity in... show more

Many of us have seen and known of this for years in gaming where misogyny and homophobia are also rampant.


Alabama city holds 'Amnesty Week,' part of SPLC settlement of federal lawsuit over private probation scheme

The city of Gardendale, Alabama, today began a week in which it will allow people who are facing municipal offenses to clear their cases, without being arrested.

“Amnesty Week,” which takes place from today through Friday, April 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., is among the results of a settlement of a federal class action lawsuit filed by the SPLC. The settlement required new policies and procedures to protect court defendants from abusive court-debt collection and probation practices, among other provisions.

The settlement also called for the city and its municipal court to cut ties with a private probation company that ran an illegal, profit-driven, private probation scheme in the city by exploiting low-income defendants and violating their federal constitutiona... show more


Judge temporarily blocks Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico

The order is the result of a motion by the SPLC and its co-counsel, which sought a preliminary injunction that would suspend the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy temporarily, while the case against the policy moves forward in court.

Today’s action marks the latest development in a lawsuit, Innovation Law Lab v. Nielson, that the SPLC filed in February to permanently stop the Trump administration from enforcing the policy.

“Today’s victory is especially important amidst reports that the Trump administration is planning to move toward even more extreme immigration policies,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC. “The decision will prevent incredibly vulnerable individuals from being trapped in dangerous conditions in Mexico, but it... show more


UN accuses Blackstone Group of contributing to global housing crisis

In a stinging critique of the role of private equity in the housing market UN rapporteur Leilani Farha and co-author Surya Deva, chairperson of the UN Working Group, singled out Blackstone’s business practices – which they claim include massively inflating rents and imposing an array of heavy fees and charges for ordinary repairs – as having “devastating consequences” for many tenants in countries around the world.

A paper she published for the UN two years ago noted how trillions of dollars of investments in hyper expensive apartment blocks in neighbourhoods of major cities from London to Vancouver had put housing beyond the reach of all but the rich, breaking up established communities, and fuelling soaring rents and evictions.

The authors allege that a Blackstone subsidiary in the US, Invita... show more

Two to 3 million years ago, humans lost the use of a gene called CMAH. Around the same time, our species seemed to have developed an increased capacity for endurance running. When Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya crossed the finish line at the Berlin Marathon in September 2018, he smashed the world record with a time of 2 hours 1 minute 39 seconds. Just a few days before Kipchoge’s win, scientists identified a new factor that might have contributed to humankind’s capacity for endurance: the long-ago loss of a gene called CMAH.

Studies suggest that a mutation caused humans to lose function of the CMAH gene two to three million years ago—around the same time humans seem to have developed an increased capacity for endurance running. Since CMAH is involved in making a sugar called Neu5Gc, humans, unlike most other mammals,... show more