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Welcome to BarelyAdequate.info!

Computers are marvelous machines. They have revolutionized the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we shop, the way we live. But that same technology is also disruptive: it threatens to radically change or make obsolete whole methods of commerce; makes it infinitely harder for government officials to hide their excesses and misdeeds from the citizens they allegedly serve; makes it easier for citizens to secure their activities, records and communications from surveillance by government, law enforcement and corporate interests who have grown used to spying on us unasked; but also gives those same government and corporate interests powerful new tools to search for and aggregate data about us.

The focus of this page is to provide commentary on news events that concern the intersection of technology, law, politics and the freedoms granted to citizens by the US Constitution; and illuminate attacks upon these freedoms by bureaucrats, law-enforcement officials, Congresscritters, government agencies domestic and foreign, and numerous moneyed interests. Many of the articles commented on here will also deal with what, for lack of a better term, I call "fairness in the digital age." And because I am a techie, I'll also comment on cool technological happenings in my industry, and uncool ones as well!

Some of those in positions of power — particularly in government, law enforcement and certain key industries — feel that if they are to preserve their power over society and/or protect their profits as we move into the digital age, the law needs to be changed to the detriment of our freedoms! Every time I learn about one of these issues, you will read about it here!

I started this site in 1996 as a test bed for trying out new HTML programming techniques. However, over the years it has turned into something much more serious. Please bear with me as I continue to bring issues to light and discuss them here, and feel free to send your constructive criticism and suggestions to the e-mail address below.

Our only chance to preserve our rights in the Digital Age is to rise up as citizens and demand that they be protected! Hopefully this site will provide you some of the knowledge necessary to do that effectively. Please return often, and direct others here to learn what is at stake in the battle to secure our rights in a digital age!

Once again, welcome to BarelyAdequate.info! Enjoy your stay and come back often!


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Last Updated: October 22nd, 2020

October 22nd, 2020
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As a disable veteran, a New York Times article, Trump Faces Uproar Over Reported Remarks Disparaging Fallen Soldiers, really torques my jaws. Iím sure some hard-core Trumpers will "misbelive" this, but they should remember that he disparaged Navy vet Senator John McCain for being a POW!
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Another report of an unarmed Black man being killed by police: Daniel Prudeís Death: Police Silence and Accusations of a Cover-Up. This was even worse because the authorities claimed it was drug overdose, until the video surfaced.
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A Wired article, Creepy ĎGeofenceí Finds Anyone Who Went Near a Crime Scene, reports about how police are using so-called Geofence warrants to obtain location data on every phone in an area at a certain time!
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The New York Times reported that the Trump campaign has already run through most of the sizeable campaign war chest with not much to show for it!
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C|Net posted an article The best kids' tablets for 2020: Apple iPad, Amazon Fire and more compared. We purchased an Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet for my grandson. The case it comes with is a great shock absorber, which is important because if you give a tablet to a five-year-old, it will get dropped at least a couple of times a day. The Kids Edition tablets allow the parent to lock it down to keep kids away from Internet content we wouldnít want them to see!
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The Oregonian/Oregon Live posted an article, 100 Days of Protests in Portland, saying "How one of Americaís whitest major cities became the center of the national conversation over systemic racism and police brutality."
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A Reason article, Bust the Police Unions, points to why itís hard to hold police officers accountable:
. . . the essential story — an officer performs poorly, with fatal results, and the union comes to his defense — is all too common. That is what police unions do: defend the narrow interests of police as employees, often at the expense of public safety. They start from the premise that police are essentially unfireable and that taxpayers should foot the bill for their dangerous, and even deadly, negligence. And although unions are not the only pathology that affects American policing, they are a key internal influence on police culture, a locus of resistance to improvements designed to reduce police violence. To stop police abuse and remove bad cops from duty, police unions as we know them must go.

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Microsoftís September Patch Tuesday update on 9/8/2020 patched almost 130 vulnerabilities in Windows and software running on it.
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Wired posted its annual list WIRED25: People Who Are Making Things Better. Some interesting choices on this list.
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October 6th, 2020
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Note: my domain went down in late SEptember and I had to migrate the domain to a new host provider. Cudos to GoDaddy for working with me over the phone this morning and getting my Web site and e-mail accounts migrated to their servers!
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The New York Times reports that Two P.R. experts at the F.D.A. have been removed after disagreeing with Trump over the usefulness of convalescent plasma. Again, politics trumps science in the Trump Administration!
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A Washington Post article, U.S. political divide becomes increasingly violent, rattling activists and police, describes a practice weíve been seeing here in Portland, OR as well: peaceful unarmed protestors being accosted by gun-toting right-wing Trump supporters:
The goal of the rally was to oppose the deployment of federal agents to quell protests in American cities — and to register new Democratic voters here in the heart of conservative East Texas. But it had hardly begun when hundreds of conservative counterprotesters and supporters of President Trump, many with military-style rifles slung over their shoulders, swarmed the town square and began pushing and shoving and yelling obscenities.

One man punched Democrat Nancy Nichols in the chest, she said, and three others pinned her husband against Tyler's war memorial. Other armed men were positioned around the edges of the square in military-style defensive formation, their hands clutching their rifles. "They were yelling Democrats are f---ing idiots and Democrats are demons," recalled Nichols, 65. "It makes me feel angry that this is allowed and that our police are allowing this kind of hate-filled atmosphere to take over."
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A New York Times article, N.B.A. and Playersí Union Agree to Resume Play, reports:
The N.B.A. and its playersí union announced a plan to use arenas as election polling places as part of a deal to resume the playoffs on Saturday.
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Wired posted an article, How to Vote by Mail and Make Sure It Counts, that includes state-by-state information on the deadlines foe each necessary action! Note that all registered voters in Oregon will receive their ballots on October 14th.
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The New York Times reports that despite being paralyzed from the waist down after being shot seven times in the back, Kenosha police had Jacob Blake shackled to his hospital bed!
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Black actor Chadwick Boseman died at 43 from colon cancer, after hiding his illness for four years. Coincidentally, I had just rewatched his movie Black Panther the week before. My favorite role Mr. Boseman played was as Thurgood Marshall before he became the first Black U. S. Supreme Court Justice, in the movie Marshall.
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An MIT Technology Review article, "Am I going crazy or am I being stalked? " Inside the disturbing online world of gangstalking, discusses what turns out to be a very real problem:
Right now, on Facebook pages, forums, blogs, YouTube channels, and subreddits across the internet, thousands of people are sharing their belief that they are being "gangstalked." These self-described "targeted individuals" say they are being monitored, harassed, and stalked 24/7 by governments and other organizations. Targeted individuals claim that seemingly ordinary people are in fact trained operatives tasked with watching or harassing them — delivery men, neighbors, colleagues, roommates, teachers, even dogs. And though small compared with the most popular online forums, gangstalking communities are growing quickly; one estimate from 2016 suggested that there might be 10,000 people in such groups across the internet. Today, just one subreddit and one Facebook group adds up to over 22,000 — and there are hundreds more groups scattered across different platforms.
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The Oregonian/Oregon Live posted an article, Editorial: Vote early, track your ballot and make your vote count, that explains how Oregonians can vote, and ensure their vote was received and counted!
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A Wired article explains why The Future of American Industry Depends on Open Source Tech. Check it out!
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An Oregonian/OregonLive article Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to President Donald Trump: Ďsupport usí or Ďstay the hell out of the wayí, points out how Trump is intentionally sowing outrage for political purposes:
"Youíve tried to divide us more than any other figure in modern history and now you want me to stop the violence that you helped create," Wheeler said to Trump. "What America needs is you to be stopped so we can come back together as one America." The mayor continued at length, bringing up everything from Trumpís sexist comments about women to his "racist attacks on Black people."

Trump apparently received the message and near the end of the press conference, a reporter asked Wheeler to respond to some of the presidentís live-tweeted responses. Trump appeared to threaten to bring federal agents back into the city, saying of Wheeler, "He would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasnít seen anything yet. We have only been there with a small group to defend our U.S. Courthouse, because he couldnít do it."
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A Washington Post article, New Trump pandemic adviser pushes controversial Ďherd immunityí strategy, worrying public health officials, points out that Trumpís new pandemic adviser is pushing the idea of openly spreading COVID-19:
One of President Trumpís top medical advisers is urging the White House to embrace a controversial "herd immunity" strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus, while taking steps to protect those in nursing homes and other vulnerable populations, according to five people familiar with the discussions.

The administration has already begun to implement some policies along these lines, according to current and former officials as well as experts, particularly with regard to testing.

The approachís chief proponent is Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanfordís conservative Hoover Institution, who joined the White House in August as a pandemic adviser. He has advocated that the United States adopt the model Sweden has used to respond to the virus outbreak, according to these officials, which did not impose lockdown orders or close most schools and businesses. Instead, Sweden recommended social distancing measures and masks, while keeping bars and restaurants open with restrictions.
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As a caravan of trucks filed with screaming Trump supporters — shooting paintballs and bear spray while forcing their way through the middle of a peaceful pedestrians holding a Black Lives Matter protest — was winding down, a man on foot wearing a "Patriot Prayer" hat coming out of a parking garage sprayed bear spray at the wrong protester and got shot for his trouble. Thatís not what the news was saying, of course, at least when any Trumper was talking! The man who shot him was later hunted down and killed by the Members of the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force in Olympia, Washington.
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Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler was angrily critical of Donald Trump during a news conference:
Mayor Ted Wheeler asked, "Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?"

"It's you who have created the hate and the division. It's you who have not found a way to say the names of Black people killed by police officers even as people in law enforcement have. And it's you who claimed that White supremacists are good people," he continued. "Your campaign of fear is as anti-democratic as anything you've done to create hate and vitriol in our beautiful country."

His forceful comments come one day after a person was shot and killed in downtown Portland after an evening of violent clashes between Trump supporters and protesters denouncing police brutality.
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ZDNet reports that researchers at Mozilla found that usersí browsing histories are unique enough that advertisers can use them to reliably identify users (sigh!).
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A New York Times article, Americaís Death Gap, points out that 145,000 fewer Americans would have died if the US had done even an average job fighting COVID-19.
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An MIT Technology Review article, Air conditioning technology is the great missed opportunity in the fight against climate change, claims that air conditioning is adding to climate change:
Indeed, air conditioning represents one of the most insidious challenges of climate change, and one of the most difficult technological problems to fix. The more the world warms, the more weíll need cooling — not merely for comfort, but for health and survival in large parts of the world.

But air conditioners themselves produce enough heat to measurably boost urban temperatures, and they leak out highly potent greenhouse gases too. Plus, those billions of energy-hungry new units will create one of the largest sources of rising electricity demand around the world.
Bummer. I like the HVAC system in my house!
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Wired posted an article, How Facebook and Other Sites Manipulate Your Privacy Choices, that describes the issue of social media manipulation:
Researchers call these design and wording decisions "dark patterns," a term applied to UX that tries to manipulate your choices. When Instagram repeatedly nags you to "please turn on notifications," and doesnít present an option to decline? Thatís a dark pattern. When LinkedIn shows you part of an InMail message in your email, but forces you to visit the platform to read more? Also a dark pattern. When Facebook redirects you to "log out" when you try to deactivate or delete your account? Thatís a dark pattern too.
Least you think this is an easy or simple issue, check out the Netflix documentary the social dilemma, then start making better decisions about how — and how long! — you use social media!
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Reason posted an article, Kentucky Authorities Offered Leniency to Breonna Taylor's Ex if He Would Implicate Her in Drug Crimes. The guy was at least stand-up enough not to take the deal!
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ZDNet Ďs article, FBI warned of how Ring doorbell surveillance can be used against police officers, points out how a camera is just a tool: it records whatever itís pointed at!
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SpaceX is beginning to manufacture its Super Heavy booster prototype:
Taller than an entire two-stage Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket, Super Heavy will be the largest and most powerful liquid rocket booster ever built by a factor of two (or more). Measuring ~70m (~230 ft) tall, Super Heavy will weigh at least 3500 metric tons (7.7 million lb) when fully loaded with liquid oxygen and methane propellant. According to Musk, SpaceXís thrust target for the booster is 7500 tons (~16.5 million lbf) Ė significantly more than twice the thrust of the Saturn V and Soviet N-1 rockets and more than three times the thrust of SpaceXís own Falcon Heavy.
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The Washington Post reports Barr tightens rules on surveillance of political candidates and advisers:
In a pair of memos, the attorney general said that before the FBI and Justice Department seek a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to secretly monitor the communications of an elected official, a declared political candidate, or any of their staff, official advisers or informal advisers, officials must first consider warning that person that foreign governments may be targeting them, and if they choose not to give such a warning, the FBI director must spell out in writing the reasons for not doing so.
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A New York Times article, Trump, Unbound, offers a lengthy bullet list of Trumpís lies intended to cast doubt on the results of the upcoming election if he loses.
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A Reason article, How Are Social Media Companies Supposed To Handle Government-Sponsored Misinformation?, examines the challenges social media sites have monitoring its users posts for accuracy, particularly when the user is Trump.
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ZDNetís Ed Bott posted an article, Seven Windows 10 annoyances (and how to fix them), that I found very useful to solve several annoying behaviors! Check it out!
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Brian Krebs posted an article, The Joys of Owning an ĎOGí Email Account, that notes:
When you own a short email address at a popular email provider, you are bound to get gobs of spam, and more than a few alerts about random people trying to seize control over the account.
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ZDNet has listed The best laptops for college students and remote learning in 2020. I recommend the Microsoft Surface tablet, with the detachable keyboard cover. I got my grandson one four years ago when he started college, and after graduating this year itís still working well (he did have to replace thekeyboad cover once, though). So I just got my granddaughter a newer version of the same tablet to take to college with her this year!
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September 6th, 2020
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Note: even though the Democratic and Republican Conventions are going to be held virtually, I donít plan to watch either. So donít be surprised if I donít talk about them. I'll try really hard not to!
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This is interesting: a Change.org petition is asking all retailers halt mailing out catalogs during the 3 week period leading up to Election Day." The idea is to break open bandwidth in the mail system to ensure ballots get through on time!
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Netflix announced that Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj was cancelled by Netflix! Bummer! This guy was able to present the most egregious behaviors of politicians, corporations, etc. with enough humor to keep it interesting, and occasional "Asian insider" joke that I kept my phone handy to look up! Iíll miss it.
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The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on Russian active measures campaigns and interference in the 2016 U.S. Election (PDF) that proves:
The Russian government disrupted an American election to help Mr. Trump become president, Russian intelligence services viewed members of the Trump campaign as easily manipulated, and some of Mr. Trumpís advisers were eager for the help from an American adversary.
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A New York Times article, America Has Two Feet. Itís About to Lose One of Them, describes the curious, relatively unknown fact that there are two different standard measurements for the U. S. Foot! Crazy stuff!
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The Washington Post article, The story of Kamala and Doug, a match made in Hollywood (literally) fills in the blanks about Sen. Kamala Harrisí husband Doug Emhoff:
[Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginiaís Miller Center] sees a pairing that reflects the countryís diversity. Emhoff is White and Jewish. Harris is Black and Indian &mdash she identifies as Baptist, like her father, but her mother also introduced her to Hindu customs. "They showcase America as it is, as it is becoming and as it will be, " she says.

Actually, more like how the country has already increasingly been for some time. Take my family for instance: I am a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant; my wife is a Theravada Buddhist from Thailand, who I met while stationed there with the USAF. My daughter was married to a man who was Caucasian and Cuban on his motherís side, and Black with Native American (Cherokee, we think) four generations back on his dadís side! So my grandkids are a happy mix!
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Lyft and uber said they might suspend their business in California, after a judge let stand a California law passed last year that requires them to treat their drivers as employees, thereby requiring them to offer them benefits like paid overtime and health insurance. The ride-sharing business already sucked due to COVID-19, so this may be the nail in ride sharingís coffin in California.
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Facebook removed 790 QAnon-affiliated groups from its site, and restricted another 1,950 groups, and 10,000 accounts on Instagram, saying:
We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior.

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An MIT Technology Review article, Unmade in America, examines why Americaís once-dominant manufacturing industry is no longer able to produce sufficient numbers of masks and other equipment to keep its citizens safe:
Willy Shih, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, says part of this chasm stems from the loss of the "industrial commons"óthe combination of expertise, infrastructure, and networks of mutually dependent businesses that help foster efficiency and innovation. Over time, Shih argues, outsourcing has cannibalized not only the assembly line jobs we associate with the factory floor, but the whole chain of intellectual effort that makes those jobs possible.

This arrangement has given American corporations unparalleled freedom to swap contractors, minimize tax burdens, and make things using inventory someone else pays to insure and maintain. But all that flexibility, meant to guard against financial risks to shareholders, turns out to be flexibility of the wrong kind for 2020. Any manufacturer that built in wiggle room to better weather a pandemic would have had "Wall Street analysts all over their case," Shih says, saying: "Look at how inefficiently youíre using your capital."

Yes, this really is Harvard Business School saying we screwed the pooch by outsourcing manufacturing to the point that we donít have the expertise or capacity to produce many things any more.
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President Trumpís former aide and key election strategist Steve Bannon was charged with fraud for misusing funds solicited for "We Build the Wall," — which was supposed to help Trump build his border wall — becoming the seventh Trump associate charged with federal crimes.
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A Manhattan Federal Court judge has ruled that Trump must release his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney.
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A ZDNet article, Why Apple's antitrust fight could spell the end of iOS as we know it, describes a 2019 class action suit against the Appleís App Store policies, and how it could affect Appleís "walled garden:"
Apple has again come under scrutiny due to its interactions with Epic Games. The company made changes to its popular Fortnite game to allow for in-app transactions that do not go through Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store on their respective iOS and Android platforms.

These changes resulted in the immediate removal of Fortnite from both the App Store and the Play Store, as well as a notification by Apple to Epic that its official developer accounts would be canceled at the end of the month due to violation of its developer agreements. Epic has since launched antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google, arguing that both of the companies are engaged in multiple violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act due to monopolistic practices.
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Former U.S. Postal Service board of governors member David C. Williams, who resigned in protest in April, told members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that the Trump administration appeared to want to strong-arm the Post Office into becoming a "political tool," saying, "If this is the beginning of what the president promised, itís the end of the Postal Service."
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Another real-world example of algorithmic discrimination: Due to COVID-19, British students couldnít attend qualification testing to get into a university, so the United Kingdom Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)) decided to use an algorithm to rank them . . . which downgraded scores for students from working-class and underprivileged communities, and inflated the scores of students from private schools! Students rallied, chanting "F**k the algorithm. Faced with the outrage, Ofqual backed off.

This is going to be one of the IT worldís biggest challenges. There are many millions of algorithms embedded in virtually every software program out there used to make decisions about almost anything. They are all going to need be examined and tested to make sure the decisions they make are fair and impartial!
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This is interesting: a New York Times article, Facebook Braces Itself for Trump to Cast Doubt on Election Results says:
Employees at the Silicon Valley company are laying out contingency plans and walking through postelection scenarios that include attempts by Mr. Trump or his campaign to use the platform to delegitimize the results, people with knowledge of Facebookís plans said.
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An article in The Nation, Forget the Nasty Insults. Trump Plans to Sabotage the Election, lays out a pretty compelling case, saying, "Heís going to resort to every dirty trick under the sun to retain his hold on power."
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A Wired article, Alexa, Play My Alibi: The Smart Home Gets Taken to Court, points out one of the many reasons why I would never have a smart speaker in my home:
As smart speakers for the home continue to grow in popularity, police departments have started to take notice. Now, whenever attorneys and law enforcement officials are investigating a crime, they can put your virtual assistant in the hot seat. They can cross-reference a variety of information from smart devices, including location data, audio recordings, and biometric data. Together, it can paint a picture of where a suspect was and when, often far more reliably than any human witness.
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As an Oregonian article, Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor pinned by the neck, chained to floor grate by Jackson County deputies, lawsuit says, shows, we still have a ways to go here in Oregon when it comes to stopping racist police actions.
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A Washington Post article, Trumpís suggestion of deploying law enforcement officials to monitor polls raises specter of voting intimidation, notes:
The president has limited authority to order law enforcement to patrol polling places. Sheriffís deputies and police officers are commanded at the local level, and a federal law bars U.S. government officials from sending "armed men" to the vicinity of polling places.

But civil rights advocates said they feared Trumpís words could inspire local officials to act on his behalf. And they said even the threat of encountering police officers at the polls could be frightening to some voters, particularly in communities of color where residents are distrustful of the police.

Ya think?
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The New York Times reports House Votes to Block Postal Changes and Allocate Funds for Mail. Of course, the Republican-led Senate probably won't have the balls to pass it!
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The Washington Post posted an opinion article, Why She Votes, that features short videos by notable women who describe the women who inspired them to vote!
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Tennessee adopted a law that could charge protestors who "camp out" on state property with a felony, thereby depriving them of the right to vote!
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Max Boot posted a Washington Post opinion article, Trump relies on grifters and misfits. Biden is bringing the A Team., that contrast the professionalism of Joe Bidenís supporters with the shady nature of Trumpís crew!
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In an Oregonian opinion article, Oregonís vote-by-mail system is a trusted constant amid change, Secretary of State Bev Clarno and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury say:
Oregon has been conducting elections entirely by mail for over 20 years. Pandemic or not, it remains as effective, safe and popular as ever.

If anything, itís only gotten better — easier, safer, and smarter. In fact, our May primary this year broke voter turnout records, with more than 1.3 million Oregonians participating and making their voices heard.
Note that in Oregon, the Secretary of State oversees the all elections. Our current Secretary of State Bev Clarno is a Republican, and Democrat Bill Bradbury served in the office for over 10 years!
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Willamette Week has posted a Portland Presedential Trump Rage-O-Meter "to ascertain how angry the president is with Portland this week." My question is: does his head explode if the meter pegs?
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ZDNet reports that Zoom outage fix deployed: Videoconferencing services being restored now. It is estimated that over a million users were affected.
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The Washington Post reports another Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back by Kenosha, WI police. What part of "this can no longer be tolerated" donít police departments across the country get?
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SpaceXís Falcon 9 rocket first stage #B1049 successfully landed after itís sixth flight boosting 58 more of its Starlink satellites into orbit.
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A Wired article, A Postal Slowdown Is Scary for Those Who Get Meds By Mail points out an issue with Trumpís crippling of the U.S. Post Office that hits really home for me:
The Department of Veterans Affairs sends out 80 percent of its medications through the mail. An August analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, based on data from 2018, found that 17 percent of Medicare recipientsóover 7 million peopleóreceive at least one medication through the mail. According to data from the investment firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, the number of mail-order prescriptions went up 21 percent at the end of March as the pandemic began and people looked for ways to stay out of crowded indoor spaces. At least eight states have also relaxed requirements for signatures for deliveries during the pandemic, making it easier for Medicaid recipients to get their prescriptions by mail.
Iíve been getting my VA meds by mail for decades! I used to typically order prescription renewals 10 days before they expire (i.e. run out!). This worked great to give the VA time to process and maiol out the request, and the Post Office deliver it, even after the pandemic hit. However, since the Post Office crippling in June, I have had to start reordering them 15 days before they expire or they are late! And no, the VA isnít getting them out any slower, the mail is just taking longer to get them to me!

Meanwhile the Oregonian reports Defiant DeJoy says he wonít restore mail-sorting machines [sigh!].
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LeBron James and a group of athletes and activists recently formed a collective dubbed More Than a Vote, which is spending big bucks to set up voting locations and deploy poll workers in Black communities, primarily in swing states, in time for the November vote!
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C|Net posted an article, Best smartwatches of 2020. No surprises here. Not that the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 I've had since Christmas is still on the list!
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SpaceX test fired its SN6 Starship rocket prototype. Note that this booster is part of the design and testing for the company's future Mars mission.
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In a New York Times article The R.N.C.ís Not-So-Subtle Undertones, Giovanni Russonello notes:
In a Public Religion Research Institute poll conducted in June, even as most Americans across racial lines expressed greater concern than before about police brutality and institutional racism, more than six in 10 Republicans said that discrimination against whites was just as big a problem as discrimination against people of color.

"The Republican Party has clearly leaned into a kind of white grievance politics," said Hakeem Jefferson, a professor of political science at Stanford University. He added that the Republican tilt of the Electoral College and the potential for voter suppression in communities of color contributed to making this a viable strategy. "The bottom line is that this is the kind of campaign you can run when you can give up on trying to build a diverse coalition," Dr. Jefferson said.
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Per the Washington Post, new Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say that people exposed to the novel coronavirus through close contact with someone who later tested positive "do not necessarily need a test" if they are not experiencing symptoms!

Regarding the CDCís policy change, a New York Times article, Top U.S. Officials Told C.D.C. to Soften Coronavirus Testing Guidelines, reports:
Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the administrationís coronavirus testing czar, called it a ďC.D.C. action,Ē written with input from the agencyís director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield. But he acknowledged that the revision came after a vigorous debate among members of the White House coronavirus task force — including its newest member, Dr. Scott W. Atlas, a frequent Fox News guest and a special adviser to President Trump.
Of course! Trump needs have to have as few cases on the books to make him look good! Never mind that just because we don't test them doesn't mean they aren't sick!
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ZDNet reports that the feds have arrested a Russian citizen who came to the US to get a Nevada company employee to install malware on their employer's network in exchange for $1,000,000!
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Where was this when I needed it? ZDNet reports that Microsoft is adding audio transcription to Word! Per the article:
The Transcribe in Word feature will allow users to record conversations directly in Word and have them transcribed automatically.†Users also can upload†pre-recorded audio†files or videos,†and†automatically get a searchable, editable†transcription from within Word with this feature enabled.
So Cool!
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A New York Times article, The Growing Power of Hurricanes offers more evidence that global warming is already affecting our weather patterns:
Hurricane Laura shares something in common with both Hurricane Florence, a 2018 storm that killed 52 Americans, and Hurricane Katrina, which struck Louisiana 15 years ago this week. All three changed from more typical hurricanes into severe ones in just a day or two.

That kind of rapid intensification — to use the scientific term for it —used to be rare. In recent years, it has become more common. And that change is a useful summary of how climate change is, and is not, affecting hurricanes. The warming of the planet doesnít seem to have increased the frequency of hurricanes. But it has increased their severity, scientists say.

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Windows 10 can now run Android apps using a Your Phone app from Samsung, as long as you have a Samsung phone, of course!
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A Wired article, Covid-19 Proves Itís Time to Abolish ĎPredictiveí Policing Algorithms, provides more info on algorithmic discrimination:
As the grip of coronavirus tightened in Philadelphia, for example, incarcerated people, families, organizers, and legal system actors pushed the courts to release over a thousand people from jails where social distancing is near-impossible. At the same time, police officers, afraid of overcrowding jails while the courts were shut down and catching the coronavirus, stopped making low-level arrests. Police forces nationwide took similar approaches.

In city after city where these changes were made, local authorities are seeing many kinds of crime drop. While certain types of violence in many cities —including in Philadelphia, where I am —are slowly rising as unemployment climbs and poverty deepens, thereís no data supporting the belief that emptying jails and limiting arrests causes violence in our communities. The National Council of State Courts shows that the two important data points pretrial systems track —whether or not someone returns to court, and whether or not they get arrested again before facing trial —have both plummeted nationally. Research and our lived experience during the Covid-19 outbreak is proving that you can arrest and incarcerate far fewer people in our communities without compromising safety or spending unnecessary money to lock them up.

These promising signs underscore the importance of breaking with algorithmic decision≠making, whether through "predictive policing" or other algorithms used in the criminal legal system.

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Trumpís efforts to strike fear of protestors in the heart of suburban residents is not working very well: A New York Times article, The World Outside, reports:
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College poll found Americans essentially split on whether the president had been right to send federal forces into cities like Portland, Ore., to face off against protesters. With suburbanites, on the other hand, the verdict was clear: 61 percent said no — far more than residents in other areas. Just a third of Americans living in suburbs said that increasing federal law enforcementís involvement had been the right call.
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August 22nd, 2020
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On June 28th, .60 Minutesí Bill Whitiker discussed Oregonís vote-by-mail system with Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno, who is a Republican, by the way, and a big supporter of Vote By Mail (guess she wonít be on Trumpís Christmas card list this year!).
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To facilitate business, the state started Oregon Remote Online Notarization prior to the pandemic, but itís really come in handy since COVID-19 hit!
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The New York Times reported Russia Continues Interfering in Election to Try to Help Trump, U.S. Intelligence Says. However, the Chinese appear to be working to get Trump defeated! Go figure!
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In a Washington Post article I was a Republican, and I drew my red line too late. Iíll answer for my choices for years to come., Beth Fukumoto, a former Republican and three-term Hawaii State Representative, explains why she is now registered as a Democrat:
Distancing yourself from a failing party is an easy hedge when your position is either completely secure or increasingly desperate. But if Republicans are serious about reckoning with their futures, they must start by asking themselves: "Where is my red line? At what point would I say, ĎThis is just too much?í"

If it wasnít seeing kids in cages or seeking bribes from a foreign government, was it the repeated suggestion that the coronavirus would take care of itself? If it wasnít Trumpís defense of white nationalists in Charlottesville, was it when he suggested we postpone the election in a tweet?

Hopefully, there are other Republicans out there facing the same crisis of conscience.
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The New York Times Magazine article Unwanted Truths: Inside Trumpís Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies reports that Trump wasnít happy with an Intelligence report that the Russians were trying to get Trump reelected, so he fired his Director of National Intelligence and the report got rewritten:
In early September, an email went out from an [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] O.D.N.I. official to the [National Intelligence Estimate ] N.I.E.ís reviewers with the latest version attached — which, according to the email, "includes edits from D.M.I. Beth Sanner. We have highlighted the major changes in yellow; they make some of the [Key Judgement] KJ language clearer and highlight Ö Russiaís motivation for its influence activities."

No longer did Key Judgment 2 clearly state that Russia favored the current president, according to an individual who compared the two versions of the N.I.E. side by side. Instead, in the words of a written summary of the document that I obtained, the new version concluded that "Russian leaders probably assess that chances to improve relations with the U.S. will diminish under a different U.S. president." The National Intelligence Board approved the final version at a meeting on the afternoon of Sept. 26, 2019.

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A Washington Post article explains How Trump fell short in containing the virus:
If the administrationís initial response to the coronavirus was denial, its failure to control the pandemic since then was driven by dysfunction and resulted in a lost summer, according to the portrait that emerges from interviews with 41 senior administration officials and other people directly involved in or briefed on the response efforts. Many of them spoke only on the condition of anonymity to reveal confidential discussions or to offer candid assessments without retribution.

"Right now, weíre flying blind," said Thomas Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Public health is not getting in the way of economic recovery and schools reopening. Public health is the means to economic recovery and schools reopening. You donít have to believe me. Look all over the world. The U.S. is a laggard."

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AskWoody posted an interesting article Living in a time of digital obsolescence, that discusses why so-called "smart" devices and appliances often have a limited online life because they cannot be upgraded:
Weíre living in the digital-obsolescence era. How many of us have old smartphones sitting on a closet shelf? Many of these "retired" devices probably still work but can no longer be upgraded with new features and security patches. (Iím looking at you, Apple TV.)

My advice? Before purchasing that Internet-connected gadget, do a bit of research first: how long will it receive new updates? Check whether the manufacturer has a support-timeline policy. And while a slightly older and less-expensive model might look like a great value, itís not — if itís effectively obsolete within a couple of years.

We only have one device in our home that could be classified as an IoT device: our Ring video doorbell. I know what local IP address it is on our home network, and I regularly check to see if itís calling out to the Internet, and to who. It's been behaving nicely so far!
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Amazon posted the text of their CEOís statement to Congress: Statement by Jeff Bezos to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. Besides telling his life story, and talking about Amazonís creation and evolution, he makes some pretty good points about how to run a customer-focused business:
In my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the best way to achieve and maintain Day One vitality. Why? Because customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they donít yet know it, customers want something better, and a constant desire to delight customers drives us to constantly invent on their behalf. As a result, by focusing obsessively on customers, we are internally driven to improve our services, add benefits and features, invent new products, lower prices, and speed up shipping times — before we have to. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it. And I could give you many such examples. Not every business takes this customer-first approach, but we do, and itís our greatest strength.

I will be first to admit Iím an unabashedly happy Amazon Prime member. Even before the pandemic, as a disabled veteran, shopping is physically challenging. And when I was working my last job as network engineer I rarely had free time for shopping, which usually occurred before bedtime! But now that itís unsafe to "go out" shopping, Amazon is even more useful. I wonít say that I buy everything from Amazon: I comparison shop regularly, particulary for more costly items. But Primeís free shipping usually lowers the total purchase cost, even if the list price is a bit lower elsewhere.
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In a Washington Post opinion article, This is how the media should confront Trump and his cronies, Jennifer Rubin challenges fellow journalist to call out Trump and his spokespersons when they lie, saying:
Every interviewer who gets a crack at an administration official should push him to explain these discrepancies. Moreover, it is time to start cornering Trump and his flunkies with evidence to debunk some of their most common lies. For example, Trumpís secretary of state talked to the Russians about bounties on U.S. troops. Doesnít this mean the intelligence was correct? If it is correct, why has Trump taken no action against Russia?

This is like an open-book exam. Reporters know the lies, and they have the goods. Now they need to hold the administration accountable, just as [CBSí Paula] Reid and [ABCís George] Stephanopoulos did this weekend.

Iíve never understood why journalists give Trump and his mouthpieces free reign to lie on a regular basis without calling them out when they do!
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The New York Times reports Trumpís E.P.A. to Lift Obama-Era Controls on Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas, saying:
E.P.A. officials say the new, weaker methane rule is needed to free the oil and gas industry from what they call crippling regulations at a moment when companies are suffering from plummeting prices and falling demand driven by a sharp global economic slowdown. The weakening of the rule, however, has been in the works for more than a year.
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Wired explains Why Wikipedia Decided to Stop Calling Fox a ĎReliableí Source, saying:
In an aggressive move that is anything but sitting back, a panel of Wikipedia administrators in July declared that Fox News would no longer be considered "generally reliable" in its reporting on politics and science, and in those areas "should be used with caution to verify contentious claims." (Fox News articles on other topics were unaffected.) There simply were too many examples of misleading, inaccurate, and slanted reporting about science and politics for Wikipedia to pass on Fox News articles as part of a broader search for the truth.

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U.S. Post Office workers were observed removing mail boxes in Metro Portland and Eugene, Oregon. USPS claims the boxes were removed due to steadily declining use of First Class Mail. But as the article notes:
Earlier today, President Donald Trump said he is intentionally undermining the USPS to make it more difficult to vote by mail, causing concern among Americans as the November election approaches. Many citizens are planning to vote by mail to avoid venturing into crowded polling areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Least you think that Trump administration attempts to break the U. S. Post Office arenít election-related, The Washington Post reported that Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout, threatening Nov. 3 vote
Trump has been attacking mail balloting and the integrity of the vote for months, but his latest broadside makes explicit his intent to stand in the way of urgently needed money to help state and local officials administer elections during the coronavirus pandemic. With nearly 180 million Americans eligible to vote by mail, the presidentís actions could usher in widespread delays, long lines and voter disenfranchisement this fall, voting rights advocates said.

Trump said his purpose is to prevent Democrats from expanding mail-balloting, which he has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, would invite widespread fraud. The president has also previously admitted that he believes mail voting would allow more Democrats to cast ballots and hurt Republican candidates, including himself.
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ZDNet Reports Mozilla lays off 250 employees while it refocuses on commercial products, blaming the pandemic, and saying, "Our pre-COVID plan is no longer workable." No word yet how this will affect the Firefox browser, which I still use daily.
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Microsoft pushed out another monthly update on Tuesday, August 11th. This patch pushed 120 fixes, and didnít cause any issues on my PCs except throwing up a big blue window after reboot asking to reconsider its security settings, which I could have done without! THe move is like asking me "are you sure you don't want to chnge your mind?" Sheesh!
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The New York Times posted a nice bio article on Kamala Harris, Joe Bidenís choice for Vice President.
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Russia claims to have a COVID-19 vaccine they are calling ďSputnik-V.Ē No one outside of Russia has been able to test it, however.
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Reason posted an article Americans Are Growing Less Willing To Beg for Permission To Make a Living, saying, "Officials claim doing business is a revocable ďprivilege,Ē but many Americans see it as a right that theyíll exercise with or without licenses and permits."
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Trump is at it again, spreading a birther lie about Kamala Harris, claiming that some on social media are saying that since both of her parents were immigrants, she doesnít meet the requirements to be V.P. But as the article notes, "Harris was born in Oakland, California. Therefore, as a natural born citizen, she meets the Constitution's requirements to serve as vice president or president. There is no serious question about this." Typical Trump! When you can't attack them on the facts, play the "race card!"
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C|Net reports that August smart locks could be giving hackers your Wi-Fi credentials. Another example why not to have smart IoT objects in your house!
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A Wired article, For Young Female Coders, Internship Interviews Can Be Toxic, points out how sexist the IT world still is.
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Wiredís article One IT Guyís Spreadsheet-Fueled Race to Restore Voting Rights describes how voting rights activists are uncovering evidence of voter suppression efforts in several states!
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A New York Times article How Biden Chose Harris: A Search That Forged New Stars, Friends and Rivalries explains at length the details behind Joe Bidenís VP choice, and hints at plans he may have for some of the women he didnít pick!
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In an article Trump vs. the Post Office, the New York Times tries to explain his motivation, saying:
To understand whatís going on with the Postal Service, and whether President Trump is trying to undermine mail voting before the presidential election, we spoke with Michael Shear, a White House correspondent for The Times.

"Basically, two things are colliding," Michael told us. The number of Americans who plan to vote absentee has spiked during the pandemic. "But at the same time," Michael said, "post office officials who are allies of President Trump are taking actions ó like limiting overtime ó that seem to be slowing down the mail right before the election."

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The Portland Tribune reports that a U. S. citizen and long-time Washington County, Oregon resident filed a federal lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement for illegally detaining him outside the Washington County Courthouse in 2017.
Without identifying themselves, the agents demanded Andrade-Tafolla provide identification with an "aggressive, demeaning demeanor," the lawsuit says. They showed him a mugshot of a Latino man and asked Andrade-Tafolla to confirm the pictured man was him.

"The individual in the mugshot did not resemble Mr. Andrade-Tafolla, except that he, like Mr. Andrade-Tafolla, had brown skin," the lawsuit states.

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Reason reports that the city of Minneapolis is telling residents whose buildings were damaged by protestors they canít get a permit to clean up their property until they pay their 2020 property taxes in full!
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QAnon fanatics are circulating new conspiracy theories about Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, and Oprah Winfrey, claiming they are part of a cabal of global elites who kidnap children!
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The New York Times reports As Colleges Move Classes Online, Families Rebel Against the Cost. To quote the mother of a college-bound Freshman I know, "Iíll be dammed if Iím going to pay full tuition for online classes!"
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As we focus on the upcoming election, it is good to recognize that this year is the 100th anniversary of womenís right to vote.
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A Washington Post article, Tracing Trumpís Postal Service obsession ó from Ďloserí to Ďscamí to Ďrigged electioní, discusses the history of Trumpís rising paranoia about the U. S. Postal Service, noting:
During recent meetings with advisers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Trump aired his grievances at length about voting in the states of Nevada and New York, as well as Paterson, N.J. ó where a unique election fraud case has been heavily covered by conservative media — and other places where he said mail-in balloting should not be expanded, according to two people familiar with the meetings.

Trump did not explicitly mention the Postal Service, but he told those in the meetings that he wanted to block states from expanding universal mail-in ballots by filing more lawsuits, these people said.

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A Washington Post article, Democrats know exactly what the campaign is about, points out how Trumpís tweets and rants are effectively campaigning for the Democrats:
. . . Biden and Harris have three huge assets to amplify their message.

First, every time Trump opens his mouth, he confirms that he is an incompetent narcissist who has no idea about the concerns of ordinary Americans . . .

Second, the right track/wrong track numbers have blown up in Trumpís face. According to the RealClearPolitics average, 70 percent of the country thinks we are on the wrong track . . .

Third, both Biden and Harris have deprived Trump of the "socialist" target Republicans yearned to confront. Yes, the Democrats have a robust and progressive agenda, but they are not outlawing private health-care insurance. They are not condemning capitalism. The charge that they are crazy leftists simply falls flat . . .

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Wired posted an article to explain Why Wikipedia Decided to Stop Calling Fox a ĎReliableí Source:
In an aggressive move that is anything but sitting back, a panel of Wikipedia administrators in July declared that Fox News would no longer be considered "generally reliable" in its reporting on politics and science, and in those areas "should be used with caution to verify contentious claims." (Fox News articles on other topics were unaffected.) There simply were too many examples of misleading, inaccurate, and slanted reporting about science and politics for Wikipedia to pass on Fox News articles as part of a broader search for the truth.

And while the decision hasnít exactly banished Fox News from Wikipedia on those topics — there are still thousands of links to Fox News articles that appear there — it deprives Fox News of the ability to frame how the public interprets political events and politicians on Wikipedia.

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The Trump administration has announced a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas companies! Expect lawsuits from the many environmental and animal rights advocacy groups!
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ZDNet is calling the Firefox browser a An endangered internet species. Like the articleís author, Iím a long-time user of Firefox. I hope it doesnít die off.
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The Washington Post posted an article, Trump is actively working to undermine the Postal Service — and every major U.S. institution:
Today, as we struggle with social upheaval, soaring debt, record unemployment, a runaway pandemic, and rising threats from China and Russia, President Trump is actively working to undermine every major institution in this country. He has planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of many Americans that our institutions arenít functioning properly. And, if the president doesnít trust the intelligence community, law enforcement, the press, the military, the Supreme Court, the medical professionals, election officials and the postal workers, then why should we? And if Americans stop believing in the system of institutions, then what is left but chaos and who can bring order out of chaos: only Trump. It is the theme of every autocrat who ever seized power or tried to hold onto it.
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August 12th, 2020
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Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his Vice President running mate. Good choice!
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The Washington Post posted an opinion article Trump knows heís going to lose. Heís already salting the earth behind him that explains a lot of his recent crazy actions:
How can you tell President Trump thinks heís going to lose in November? Because he has already begun salting the earth behind him. And his fellow Republicans are helping by sabotaging key institutions that the next (presumably Democratic) president will inherit.
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More "salting"!:

A Washington Post article warns that mail delivery delays being caused by new rules imposed on the U.S. Postal Service by Trumpís new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy could be intentionally imposed to make Vote by Mail look less attractive, saying:
DeJoy, a North Carolina logistics executive who donated more than $2 million to GOP political committees in the past four years, approved changes that took effect July 13 that the agency said were aimed at cutting costs for the debt-laden mail service. They included prohibiting overtime pay, shutting down sorting machines early and requiring letter carriers to leave mail behind when necessary to avoid extra trips or late delivery on routes.

The new policies have resulted in at least a two-day delay in scattered parts of the country, even for express mail, according to multiple postal workers and union leaders. Letter carriers are manually sorting more mail, adding to the delivery time. Bins of mail ready for delivery are sitting in post offices because of scheduling and route changes. And without the ability to work overtime, workers say the logjam is worsening without an end in sight.

Salon reports that Iowa Postal Union officials claim that Mail sorting equipment is being ďremovedĒ from post offices, leaving mail to "pile up".

Is there any aspect of our society Trump hasnít screwed up yet?
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The Washington Post reports DHS compiled Ďintelligence reportsí on journalists who published leaked documents, saying:
Officials who are familiar with the reports, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss them, said they are consistent with the departmentís aggressive tactics in Portland, and in particular the work of the Intelligence and Analysis Office, which they worried is exceeding the boundaries of its authority in an effort to crack down on "antifa" protesters to please President Trump. He and other senior administration officials have used that "anti-fascist" label to describe people in Portland and other cities who are protesting police violence, as well as others who have vandalized statues and memorials to Confederate officers that they consider racist.

Days later the DHS official whose office compiled Ďintelligence reportsí on journalists and protesters has been removed from his job.
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In a New York Times article Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories., Dana Goldstein points out how school textbooks are being edited to modify the information they provide to further the local biases of the state where they are being used, saying:
The books The Times analyzed were published in 2016 or later and have been widely adopted for eighth and 11th graders, though publishers declined to share sales figures. Each text has editions for Texas and California, among other states, customized to satisfy policymakers with different priorities.

"At the end of the day, itís a political process," said Jesķs F. de la Teja, an emeritus professor of history at Texas State University who has worked for the state of Texas and for publishers in reviewing standards and textbooks.
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Reason reports that Homeland Security Seized $2 Billion in Cash From Travelers at U.S. Airports.
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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.) posted an opinion article Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing whatís right matters., saying:
After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.
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The New York Times posted an article Tammy Duckworth Is Nothing and Everything Like Joe Biden that is a great bio of my favorite choice for Joe Bidenís VP candidate
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Another example of Trump upending the common citizensí protections: The CFPB once defended consumers. Thanks to Trump, it now helps companies prey on them instead.:
The CFPB was conceived by [Senator Elizabeth] Warren [(D-MA)] while she was a professor at Harvard Law School. It was meant to give consumers leverage over the financial-services sector, which all too often saw them as so much prey. It scored major victories during the Obama administration. It called out lending institutions for racist auto loan lending standards and spearheaded the federal investigation into Wells Fargo for a decade of turning a blind eye to its employees opening fake accounts for customers in an attempt to keep up with unrealistic sales goals.

No surprise, the financial services sector, which hates the CFPB, cheered [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy] Kraningerís appointment to the job. Their faith was well rewarded, and not just in the area of payday loans. Last year, a House Financial Services Committee investigation revealed that during Kraningerís first six months on the job, the amount of money the bureau recovered for consumers fell to six percent of what it had been under the final months of Obama appointee Richard Cordrayís leadership. Instead, under Kraninger, the CFPB emphasizes "financial literacy," despite the fact that, when put on the spot by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) in 2019, Kraninger couldnít even properly calculate an annual interest rate.

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, successfully completing the Demo-2 mission to and from the International Space Station, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

SpaceX and NASA announced that the next astronauts that will be flying SpaceX's Crew-2 Dragon in 2021 are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, who will serve as spacecraft commander, and pilot Megan McArthur.
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C|Net posted a review of the Google Pixel 4A smartphone, saying it has "the phone with the best camera you can get for $350. "

They also posted a Google Pixel 5 smartphone, which "will be available sometime in the fall."
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A Salon article Why the idea of jobless benefits scares the conservative mind points out why Republicans are so dead-set against renewing a $600 a week assistance:
The main conservative argument against paying unemployed workers $600 a week is that employers who try to entice them back into the workforce — whether it is safe or not — will have to compete with the government payments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said out loud, "we don't want to make it more profitable to stay home than to go back to work." Think about that: the yearly salary equivalent of this supposedly generous benefit works out to just over $31,000 a year. If employers are unable to compete with such a low salary, there is something deeply wrong with our economy. In Los Angeles where I live, the amount does not even cover rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
Same here: a two-bedroom apartment in Bethany, Oregon (the area closest to North Bethany where current data is available) is $1,337 a month. The steadily-rising high cost of apartment rentals here was a key factor that caused my daughter and I to sell my previous house in Northeast Portland and jointly buy our current house in North Bethany.
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The Nation reported that Homeland Security Is Quietly Tying Antifa to Foreign Powers. As the article points out:
While the law generally prohibits intelligence agencies from spying on US residents, many of those protections do not apply if the individual is believed to be acting as an agent of a foreign power.

"Designating someone as foreign-sponsored can make a huge legal and practical difference in the governmentís ability to pursue them," explained Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "Itís a crucial distinction. Once someone (or some group) is identified as an agent of a foreign power, they are subject to warrantless search and surveillance in a way that would be illegal and unconstitutional for any other US person. The whole apparatus of US intelligence can be brought to bear on someone who is considered an agent of a foreign power."

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A New York Times article Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Coronavirus Vaccine Project, warn that, "Operation Warp Speed has moved along at a rapid clip. But some people involved in the process fear pressure to deliver an October surprise for President Trump," saying:
Despite concerted efforts by the Trump administration and a bevy of pharmaceutical companies it is working with, the original October target has slipped, with the administration now pushing to have hundreds of millions of doses available by the end of the year or early 2021.
But experts inside and outside the government still say they fear the White House will push the Food and Drug Administration to overlook insufficient data and give at least limited emergency approval to a vaccine, perhaps for use by specific groups like front-line health care workers, before the vote on Nov. 3.

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While the COVID-19 pandemic is raging in the Southeast U. S. (primarily because Republican Governors there "drank the Trump Kool aid" and started allowing barhopping and beach-congregating without masks or distancing!), Hurricane Isaias has come to tear things up!
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Trump is fighting with his infectious disease experts because they are telling the public the truth about how bad the pandemic is (i.e. science!), while heís lying about it to make it look better than it is. After all, canít they understand that heís lying to get himself reelected?! (Yes! That is dripping sarcasm, just in case you might have thought otherwise!).
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When theyíre not busy launching astronauts and satellites for NASA and others, SpaceX is launching satellites for its Starlink broadband service. They have 600 in orbit so far, and hope to eventually have 12,000 up, at which time theyíll be selling subscriptions. If youíre interested, you can sign up here.
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For those who care, Apple has upgraded its iMac and iMac pro computers.
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The New York Times Posted a very disturbing opinion article Trump Doesnít Need the Most Votes. What if He Doesnít Even Want Them? Read this article, and help get out the vote!
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The Trump administration actions to subvert our democracy continues: They announced they would end the 2020 Census early on September 30th, instead of November 30th as originally planned.

The New York Times reported, "With 60 million households still uncounted, the bureau said it would wrap up the survey a month early. Critics called it a bald move to politicize the count in favor of Republicans:"
Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the House majority leader, said on Tuesday that the change was an attempt to undercount poor communities with large numbers of immigrants and ethnic minorities and called the shortened schedule "yet another example of this administrationís blatant assault on our Constitution and our democracy."
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The MIT Technology Review posted an article The hack that could make face recognition think someone else is you, and noted: "Face recognition is rapidly proliferating as a way to identify people at airports and in high security scenarios — but it's far from foolproof."
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TechRepublic reports The tablet PC market surges 26% worldwide amid the pandemic, driven they say by home-based work and school:
"The coronavirus pandemic has increased competition for communal screen access between household members forced to stay indoors," [Canalys analyst Ishan] Dutt continued. "Tablets help overcome this problem by allowing each family member to have their own device. And they are more budget-friendly than desktops and notebooks."
Some things they donít mention: although tablets are primarily touch screen devices, inexpensive Bluetooth keyboards are available for Android tablets that can turn them into small-format laptops. Also, those who are already Microsoft 365 subscribers can also install a fully-capable version of the Microsoft 365 apps on their tablets for free. And besides work or school, Iíve found a similarly-configured tablet makes a highly useable mobile platform on the road that is lighter and uses less space in the carry-on, since it allows a single device to serve all the functions you would otherwise need both a tablet and laptop to perform.
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The FBI is warning private-sector industries of the security dangers of running Windows 7 now that the OS is past end of life and no longer being updated! I earlier mentioned using a Windows 7 Virtual Machine on a Windows 10 PC. Besides solving for compatibility, you also get the added benefit that content inboud from the Internet goes through Windows 10 first, which is receiving security updates, making the VM more secure than a stand-alone Windows 7 PC.
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Microsoft is angering Windows users, particularly those running older versions, over its aggressive pushing of its Edge browser. I agree! After the last Windows update to my Windows 10 PCs, the system pushed me several times on each computer to change my default browser to Edge! I declined each time: I primarily use Firefox and Chrome browsers.
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The New York Times reported that Democratsí Milwaukee convention will be entirely virtual, and Joe Biden and others will stay away.
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A parent filed a complaint against the cable company Comcast with the Oregon Department of Justice, claiming the companyís Comcast Internet Essentials program, which offers data speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream, doesn't provide adequate data speeds for online schooling!
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Wired posted an extensive review of the new Samsung devices introduced during its Galaxy Unpacked 2020 event, which was a virtual affair, given the pandemic.
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Penetration testing is an essential part of ensuring the physical and cyber security of government and corporate facilities, and companies contract with security companies to try and break in, in order to uncover vulnerabilities. This activity is legal, but two men paid to break into state offices in Iowa were arrested anyway by an over-zealous county sherrif! Their case became a political football, leading to felony charges against the two men, causing the penetration testing industry to vow to avoid working with state and local governments . . . and as far as anyone knows, the security vulnerabilities they found are still sitting there unresolved!
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Wired posted its opinion of The Best Android Phones . One general suggestion they made I agree with: "Buy Your Phone Unlocked (and Ignore 5G!)"
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The Washington Post reports Portland demonstrates that government spying on citizens has become commonplace, and easy:
We know from their admissions that the feds compiled dossiers on numerous journalists covering their activities in Portland. We also know that some data in those dossiers came from public sources and some did not. The governmental acquisition of data from nonpublic, nongovernment sources without search warrants constitutes spying.

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The New York Times reported that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio tested positive for the virus as he was screened to greet President Trump in Cleveland. He did not meet with the president. Too bad. Trump getting Covid-19 would be the epitome of karma!
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August 2nd, 2020
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The invasion of Portland, Oregon by Federal troops behaving badly continued to draw serious comments throughout the nation:

The Willamette Week reported:
Oregon Public Broadcasting broke the story July 16 that federal agents in unmarked vehicles have detained at least two protesters in downtown Portland since July 14. The protesters say they were not breaking any laws at the time they were detained, raising questions whether the feds' actions were constitutional.

The plate numbers were captured on video. Motor vehicle records in a national database reviewed by WW show that a van used to whisk away a protester wasn't a law enforcement vehicle but a private rental.


The Washington Postís Ruth Marcus, in an article titled Trumpís agents are sweeping peaceful citizens off the streets. This is not America., Saying:
There is a difference between solving a legitimate problem (the destruction of public property) and picking a political fight. Trump, understandably terrified of losing reelection, appears intent on doing the latter. "A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice — to attack it is to attack America," [Chad] Wolf [, acting secretary of homeland security], thundered in his statement.

But there is a more important symbol of justice than a brick-and-mortar building.

It is called the Constitution. To ignore it is to attack America.

A New Your Times article reports that Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didnít Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said:
The message, dated Thursday, was prepared by the agency for Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, as he arrived in Portland to view the scene in person, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The New York Times. It listed federal buildings in the city and issues officers faced in protecting them.

The memo, seemingly anticipating future encounters with protesters in other cities as the department follows President Trumpís guidance to crack down on unrest, warns: "Moving forward, if this type of response is going to be the norm, specialized training and standardized equipment should be deployed to responding agencies."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) released a joint statement against tactics used by federal officers in Portland, saying:
We live in a democracy, not a banana republic. We will not tolerate the use of Oregonians, Washingtonians — or any other Americans — as props in President Trumpís political games. The House is committed to moving swiftly to curb these egregious abuses of power immediately.
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In a New York Times article 50 Nights of Unrest in Portland, Robert Evans, a freelance journalist and "conflict reporter who has reported from Iraq and Ukraine," warned:
What is happening in Portland right now — and I say this as somebody whoís seen war in other countries — itís as close up to the line as you can get to actual war without live rounds. Itís really hard for me to see how things go much further without people dying.

In her New York Times opinion article Trumpís Occupation of American Cities Has Begun, Michelle Goldberg warns:
Thereís something particularly terrifying in the use of Border Patrol agents against American dissidents. After the attack on protesters near the White House last month, the military pushed back on Trumpís attempts to turn it against the citizenry. Police officers in many cities are willing to brutalize demonstrators, but theyíre under local control. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, however, is under federal authority, has leadership thatís fanatically devoted to Trump and is saturated with far-right politics.

Bill Maher, in his TV show Real Time with Bill Maher, has been warning for years that the Trump administration has been conducting a slow-moving coup to subvert our democracy. With his pushing federal troops into Portland, Oregon, announcing plans to move additional federal cops into other big cities that he clearly calls out as being "run by Ďradical leftí Democrats", and suggesting that the election should be delayed, I would say that his coup is speeding up!

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is suing federal officers, alleging that they arrested local demonstrators without probable cause, and seeking a restraining order to prevent further arrests.

Meanwhile, Trumpís stormtroopers continue to violate protestorsí civil rights: Peaceful Portland protester and Navy veteran Chris David stood his ground while federal officers struck him multiple times, and unloaded an entire can of pepper spray in his face.

The New York Times reports that Federal officials made a deal with Oregon Governor Kate Brown that they will withdraw federal troops if the Governor agreed to use the Oregon State Police to guard the exterior of the federal courthouse, which she did.

As I expected, the night after Trumpís Federal thugs were pulled out of Portland, the nightís protests were peaceful!
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Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was called "the conscious of Congress," died at 80 years old from pancreatic cancer. He led the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, and was the last surviving member to speak during the 1963 March on Washington.

During his eulogy of Congressman John Lewis, former President Barack Obama took on the Trump administrationís recent attacks on civil rights, and Republican actions to restrict voting, saying:
Bull Connor may be gone. But today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans. George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot. But even as we sit here, there are those in power are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting ó by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people donít get sick.

Now, I know this is a celebration of Johnís life. There are some who might say we shouldnít dwell on such things. But thatís why Iím talking about it. John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and whatís best in America that we are seeing circulate right now.
Just prior to his death, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) posted an opinion piece in the New York Times Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, saying, "Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe," and concluding:
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

Please read the whole article. Powerful stuff!
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SpaceX is scheduled to return American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley back to Earth on August 2nd.
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A New York Times article Inside Trumpís Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus reports that, "The roots of the nationís current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House embraced overly rosy projections to proclaim victory and move on, " saying:
Over a critical period beginning in mid-April, President Trump and his team convinced themselves that the outbreak was fading, that they had given state governments all the resources they needed to contain its remaining "embers" and that it was time to ease up on the lockdown.

In doing so, he was ignoring warnings that the numbers would continue to drop only if social distancing was kept in place, rushing instead to restart the economy and tend to his battered re-election hopes.
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A New York Times article points out that As Trump Ignores Virus Crisis, Republicans Start to Break Ranks:
In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the G.O.P. outside the White House have broken with Mr. Trump over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public and heeding the advice of health experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, whom the president and other hard-right figures within the administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.
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Given Trumpís falling popularity in the polls, GOP supporters are talking about moving their money from supporting Trump to supporting Senate races, hoping to retain some influence after the election!
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Despite vows by Trump not to allow it, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are adding language to annual military appropriation bills mandating that the Pentagon remove Confederate names from military assets. Since Trump has vowed to veto any bill containing such language, and Republican congresscritters fearing voting against the renamings in the current political season pushing for anti-racist activities, a veto fight may be coming up just before the election!
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Samsung announced it will reveal five new devices on August 5th, Including the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Fold 2 smartphones, a tablet, and new earbuds.

Iím still very happy with my Samsung Galaxy S10E with an Otterbox case. The S10E was a logical upgrade to the Galaxy S7 phone I had before, since it is a faster, more capable phone with a better camera, but is still about the same size as the S7. This was a feature I wanted to keep,since larger phones are less useful when hanging from my belt!

As for the case: I know that Otterbox cases are pretty pricey compared to other less-capable cases. They cost about $60 to $80, but this is only 10 percent or less of the phoneís cost, and are the best cases I have been able to find at protecting a smartphone from drop damage, so I consider them the equivalent of insurance! They are so effective because they consist of two nested cases: a hard-shell case that wraps around the phone, and a soft case that wraps around the hard-shell case. My current S10E is the third smartphone I have equipped with an Otterbox case, and neither of the previous two phones died due to drops! Highly recommended.
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C|Net is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and posted a review of what it considers its "stories that matter." Iíve read a few of them. Interesting!
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ZDNet explains Why Google needs a $99 tablet running a reference version of Android: primarily for Android developers, but also for those unwilling to spend $250+ for a iPad Mini, or other vendorsí Android tablets, I guess. Iím still happy with my 10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A that I bought from Amazon in late April 2020 after my four-year-old 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A started spontaneously restarting! No complaints here about the old tablet, understand: four years is a good run for a device that I used all day, every day as my e-book library, magazines, newspapers, Web surfing and online, research, etc.! If the new one lasts that long Iíll be happy!
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ZDNet posted a video and article by Belkin design chief Oliver Seil on what the office of the future will look like. Some good ideas, but remember that this is Belkinís idea of what we should buy in the future! Other vendors probably have their own ideas! Me? I wait until the future becomes the now before deciding what to buy. I make fewer regretable purchases that way!
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With deadlines coming up (after which your older drivers' or ID cards wonít be acceptable when checking in at the Airport!), the subject of Real ID compliant State drivers licenses and identification cards has begun to come up again. Part of the challenge is that these cards, which are just an implementation of a National ID Card wrapped inside a card with your stateís logo (in part to get the states to pay for it!), includes a chip that will be encoded with a lot of data about you, data which will not be encrypted on the card so bad guys can scan it, which will find its way into a massive database controlled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
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The same SpaceX Falcon 9 booster that launched Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station earlier this year, launched South Korea's first military satellite, and successfully landed on their drone ship Just Read The Instructions, so it can be readied for yet another launch.
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Michael Chertoff, who served as the secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush posted an opinion article in the New York Times The Hijacking of Homeland Security, saying, "Trump is politicizing the agency and putting the nation at risk," and warning:
Videos reveal agents operating in camouflage uniforms with no clear identifying insignia. That may be appropriate combating transnational drug gangs in a border environment, but not in American cities. Other videos and reports make clear that even peaceful demonstrators — such as individuals identifying as military veterans — were struck with nonlethal projectiles and strong tear gas. And there was no respect for, or coordination with, the wishes of local authorities.

One might criticize these moves as errors in judgment, but for the fact that White House statements demonstrate the president reveling in the use of brutal and aggressive force, especially in cities that he characterizes as governed by liberal Democratic mayors. And if the politically performative aspect of this policy were not already obvious, it is rendered unmistakable when footage of the mayhem is broadcast by Trump campaign commercials.
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David Leonhardt posted an article Information Contagion that discusses continuing disinformation and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic being broadcast by the Right Wing media, saying:
Why is the U.S. enduring a far more severe virus outbreak than any other rich country? There are multiple causes, but one of them is the size and strength of right-wing media organizations that frequently broadcast falsehoods. The result is confusion among many Americans about scientific facts that are widely accepted, across the political spectrum, in other countries. Canada, Japan and much of Europe have no equivalent to Sinclair [Broadcast Group] — whose local newscasts reach about 40 percent of Americans — or Fox News. Germany and France have widely read blogs that promote conspiracy theories. But none of them have the reach and the funding of Fox or Sinclair," Monika Pronczuk, a Times reporter based in Europe, told me.
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New York City police officers are emulating the Feds in Portland, Oregon: plain clothes police pulled a protester into an unmarked minivan, claiming later that he was being arrested for damaging police cameras.
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A Washington Post article, Politics at the point of a gun, discusses armed conservative groups showing up at Black Lives Matter protests:
With a hodgepodge of military garb and over-the-counter assault rifles, such self-styled "patriots" come from lots of backgrounds, but they are predominantly white and male. They are often veterans who say the mission now is to defend the Constitution and the freedoms they fought for in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I never thought that Iíd be in the back of a pickup rolling through downtown Olympia with six guys heavily locked and loaded, armored out," said Diaz, a former Army reservist. "Iím doing something now thatís for a greater cause than myself. And it feels really . . . good."
Can you imagine the police response if a large group of heavily-armed Black men rolled up to a protest?
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Wired posted an article The Portland Protests Are a War Zone — but Only on the Internet, which is very true. Most of the protests are peaceful until after midnight.
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In his New York Times article Voting by Mail Is Popular. So Is the False Idea That Itís Ripe for Fraud., Giovanni Russonello notes, "Americans overwhelmingly support increased access to mail voting, but they also appear to be susceptible to misinformation about it", saying;
Republican state legislatures throughout the country have enacted a variety of voting restrictions since 2013, when the Supreme Court rolled back the Voting Rights Act. The Brennan Center for Justice, a pro-democracy watchdog group, has determined that in the past decade, 25 states have passed laws making it harder to cast a ballot.

Amid the pandemic, those problems have often become especially acute — particularly in states like Wisconsin and Georgia, where voters in many precincts during this yearís primaries were forced to wait in line for hours after Republican officials in both states resisted expanding access to absentee voting.
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A Fact Check document Barr Repeats Trump Falsehoods in Congressional Testimony presents Attorney General William Barrís comments during his testimony to Congress, and refutes them, one by one.
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Trumpís administration has asked the FCC to impose increased liability on social media companies, never mind that the FCC has no authority to do so, and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act makes them not responsible for user-uploaded content!
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More Trump dirty tricks: Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama Program Addressing Housing Discrimination. (sigh!)
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ProPublica has posted a page containing over 60 (and counting!) videos of illegal use of force by police during the protests
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NASA has launched the Perseverance rover on its way to Mars. Attached to it is the first-ever interplanetary drone helicopter! And for the first time the rover will include microphones to hear the surfaceof Mars!
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Steven Rosenfeld, in his article Why You Should Make Your Voting Plan Now, says, "Americans who want to vote this fall should make a plan, including what to do if something goes wrong — such as their requested mailed-out ballot does not arrive or is late — according to a range of election experts and grassroots activists."

At least for us here in Oregon, I "call bullshit!" Despite the pandemic, a record 1.3 million Oregonians cast their ballots during the May 19th primary. Why? Because weíve had Vote-By-Mail since 1987, and since January 2016 have been automatically registering every citizen by the DMV under our Motor Voter Act when they renew their drivers license. We also have very robust security protecting our elections. My favorite saying: you canít hack a paper ballot! So voters here, regardless of party, trust it.

Meanwhile, Republican officials and strategists are concerned that Trumpís continuous ranting against Vote by Mail, erroneously calling it fraud-ridden, could be causing Republican voters to avoid requesting mail-in ballots. Works for me! More votes for us!
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The organization Stronger is live. They are dedicated to debunking online misinformation! Check it out! If you run a Web site, join them!
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C|Net posted an article Stop annoying robocalls to your phone using every trick we know, which includes a list of the "best practices to keep annoying robocalls at bay."
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Reasonís Elizabeth Nolan Brown posted an article about Congress calling in tech CEOs Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Sundar Pichai, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg via video conferencing to grill them, Congress Wants To Regulate Big Tech. They Still Don't Understand It., and noted that "Lawmakers repeatedly demonstrated a lack of understanding about communications law as it exists and how tech products work, ", and said:
The telehearing stretched on for hours, over the course of which it became abundantly clear that Democrats and Republicans are often diametrically opposed in their grievances while acting like satisfying them is only a matter of tech leaders choosing to do the Right Thing. Neither side admitted that acting as it wished would run afoul of the supposedly simple and common-sense things their opponents wanted "Big Tech" to do. The most dramatic of these tensions involves web content moderation. It's not that far off to say Democrats want these companies to suppress more content and Republicans want them to allow more content without question. Democrats are worried about "hate speech" and disinformation; Republicans are worried about being labeled as hate speech or disinformation.

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Caitlin Harrington, in her Wired article Thereís No Such Thing as Family Secrets in the Age of 23andMe, said, "DNA tests are cheap and ubiquitous. For some donor-conceived people, they can unearth long-buried truths about their ancestryóand lead to unorthodox reunions." She then goes on to present some interesting examples.
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The New York Times posted an article Trump Attacks an Election He Is at Risk of Losing, calling him "a heckler in his own government," and saying:
Faced with the kind of economic wreckage besieging millions of Americans, any other president would be shoulder-deep in the process of marshaling his top lieutenants and leaders in Congress to form a robust government response. Instead, Mr. Trump has been absent this week from economic-relief talks, even as a crucial unemployment benefit is poised to expire and the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, warned publicly that the countryís recovery is lagging.

And any other president confronted with a virulent viral outbreak across huge regions of the country would be at least trying to deliver a clear and consistent message about public safety. Instead, Mr. Trump has continued to promote a drug of no proven efficacy, hydroxychloroquine, as a potential miracle cure, and to demand that schools and businesses reopen quickly — even as he has also claimed that it might be impossible to hold a safe election

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A subject Iíve been looking into recently is Environmental Racism, in other words, intentionally siting polluting companies adjacent to communities of color, who traditionally didn't have the political capability to stop them. Recent examples have beet talked about in South Philadelphia, Native American communities in Arizona, and even here in Portland, Oregon (PDF). Heck, even Trump's EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real!
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July 25th, 2020
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The invasion of Portland, Oregon by Federal troops behaving badly continued to draw serious comments throughout the nation:

The Willamette Week reported:
Oregon Public Broadcasting broke the story July 16 that federal agents in unmarked vehicles have detained at least two protesters in downtown Portland since July 14. The protesters say they were not breaking any laws at the time they were detained, raising questions whether the feds' actions were constitutional.

The plate numbers were captured on video. Motor vehicle records in a national database reviewed by WW show that a van used to whisk away a protester wasn't a law enforcement vehicle but a private rental.

The Washington Postís Ruth Marcus, in an article titled Trumpís agents are sweeping peaceful citizens off the streets. This is not America., Saying:
There is a difference between solving a legitimate problem (the destruction of public property) and picking a political fight. Trump, understandably terrified of losing reelection, appears intent on doing the latter. "A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice ó to attack it is to attack America," [Chad] Wolf [, acting secretary of homeland security], thundered in his statement.

But there is a more important symbol of justice than a brick-and-mortar building.

It is called the Constitution. To ignore it is to attack America.

A New Your Times article reports that Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didnít Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said:
The message, dated Thursday, was prepared by the agency for Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, as he arrived in Portland to view the scene in person, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The New York Times. It listed federal buildings in the city and issues officers faced in protecting them.

The memo, seemingly anticipating future encounters with protesters in other cities as the department follows President Trumpís guidance to crack down on unrest, warns: "Moving forward, if this type of response is going to be the norm, specialized training and standardized equipment should be deployed to responding agencies."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) released a joint statement against tactics used by federal officers in Portland, saying:
We live in a democracy, not a banana republic. We will not tolerate the use of Oregonians, Washingtonians — or any other Americans — as props in President Trumpís political games. The House is committed to moving swiftly to curb these egregious abuses of power immediately.
.
In a New York Times article 50 Nights of Unrest in Portland, Robert Evans, a freelance journalist and "conflict reporter who has reported from Iraq and Ukraine," warned:
What is happening in Portland right now — and I say this as somebody whoís seen war in other countries — itís as close up to the line as you can get to actual war without live rounds. Itís really hard for me to see how things go much further without people dying.

In her New York Times opinion article Trumpís Occupation of American Cities Has Begun, Michelle Goldberg warns:
Thereís something particularly terrifying in the use of Border Patrol agents against American dissidents. After the attack on protesters near the White House last month, the military pushed back on Trumpís attempts to turn it against the citizenry. Police officers in many cities are willing to brutalize demonstrators, but theyíre under local control. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, however, is under federal authority, has leadership thatís fanatically devoted to Trump and is saturated with far-right politics.


Bill Maher, in his TV show Real Time with Bill Maher, has been warning for years that the Trump administration has been conducting a slow-moving coup to subvert our democracy. With his pushing federal troops into Portland, Oregon, and announcing plans to move additional federal cops into other big cities that he clearly calls out as being "run by Ďradical leftí Democrats", I would say that his coup is speeding up!


A New York Times opinion piece As Trump Pushes Into Portland, His Campaign Ads Turn Darker is concerned about the combative tone of Trumpís recent ads, saying:
The Trump campaign is driving home that message with a new ad that tries to tie its dark portrayal of Democratic-led cities to Mr. Trumpís main rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr. ó with exaggerated images intended to persuade viewers that lawless anarchy would prevail if Mr. Biden won the presidency. The ad simulates a break-in at the home of an older woman and ends with her being attacked while she waits on hold for a 911 call, as shadowy, dark intruders flicker in the background.

Talking about the Portland invasion in an article The Federal Coup to Overthrow the States and Nix the 10th Amendment Is Underway, John W. Whitehead said:
Thereís a reason Trump has tapped the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for this dirty business [in Portland, Oregon]: these agencies are notorious for their lawlessness, routinely sidestepping the Constitution and trampling on the rights of anyone who gets in their way, including legal citizens.

Indeed, it was only a matter of time before these roving bands of border patrol agents began flexing their muscles far beyond the nationís borders and exercising their right to disregard the Constitution at every turn.

Except these border patrol cops arenít just disregarding the Constitution.

Theyíre trampling all over the Constitution, especially the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the government from carrying out egregious warrantless searches and seizures without probable cause.

The Washington Post reports Conservative media helps Trump perform Ďlaw and orderí in Portland, with risks for November:
The Trump administration has escalated tensions, local officials argue, by sending camouflaged officers to confront activists, most of whom have practiced nonviolence. The president, while devolving control of the coronavirus response to state and local authorities, has vowed to replicate the federal crackdown in Chicago, New York and other Democratic-controlled cities seeing sustained protests after the police killing of George Floyd. And he is being cheered on by provocateurs online and in the media pointing to the backlash against federal mobilization as a sign that a still more severe response is needed.

In an article U.S. Cities Need Masks and Tests, Mr. President, Not Shock Troops, Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan warns:
Camouflage-clad paramilitary vigilantes have been terrorizing Portland, Oregon, grabbing people protesting racism and police brutality, pulling them into unmarked minivans and driving off. These roving shock troops, with no insignia or badges, proved to be federal agents from a slew of agencies, ordered to Portland after President Donald Trump issued an executive order on June 26th, a month and a day after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. Trumpís order, ďProtecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence,Ē was a rambling diatribe against the massive, diverse protest movement that has swept the country in the wake of Floydís murder and the police killings of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and so many more.

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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is suing federal officers, alleging that they arrested local demonstrators without probable cause, and seeking a restraining order to prevent further arrests.
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Peaceful Portland protester and Navy veteran Chris David stood his ground while federal officers struck him multiple times, and unloaded an entire can of pepper spray in his face.
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Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was called "the conscious of Congress," died at 80 years old from pancreatic cancer. He was the last surviving member to speak during the 1963 March on Washington.
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SpaceX is scheduled to return American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley back to Earth on August 2nd.
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A New York Times article Inside Trumpís Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus reports that, "The roots of the nationís current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House embraced overly rosy projections to proclaim victory and move on, " saying:
Over a critical period beginning in mid-April, President Trump and his team convinced themselves that the outbreak was fading, that they had given state governments all the resources they needed to contain its remaining "embers" and that it was time to ease up on the lockdown.

In doing so, he was ignoring warnings that the numbers would continue to drop only if social distancing was kept in place, rushing instead to restart the economy and tend to his battered re-election hopes.
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A New York Times article points out that As Trump Ignores Virus Crisis, Republicans Start to Break Ranks:
In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the G.O.P. outside the White House have broken with Mr. Trump over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public and heeding the advice of health experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, whom the president and other hard-right figures within the administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.
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Given Trumpís falling popularity in the polls, GOP supporters are moving their money to support Senate races, hoping to retain some influence after the election!
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Despite vows by Trump not to allow it, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are adding language to annual military bills mandating that the Pentagon remove Confederate names from military assets. Since Trump has vowed to veto any bill containing such language, and Republican congresscritters fearing voting against the renamings in the current political season pushing for anti-racist activities, a veto fight may be coming up just before the election!
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Samsung announced it will reveal five new devices on August 5th, Including the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Fold 2 smartphones, a tablet, and new earbuds.
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C|Net is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and posted a review of what it considers its "stories that matter." Iíve read a few of them. Interesting!
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ZDNet explains Why Google needs a $99 tablet running a reference version of Android, primarily for Android developers, but also for those unwilling to spend $250+ for a iPad Mini, or other vendorsí Android tablets, I guess.

Iím still happy with my 10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A that I bought from Amazon in late April 2020 after my four-year-old 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A started spontaneously restarting! No complaints here, understand: four years is a good run for a device that I used all day every day as my book library, magazines, newspapers, Web surfing, research, etc., and even dropped more than a few times! If the new one lasts that long Iíll be happy!
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ZDNet posted a video and article by Belkin design chief Oliver Seil on what the office of the future will look like. Some good ideas, but remember that this is Belkinís idea of what we should buy in the future!
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With deadlines coming up (after which your current cards wonít be acceptable when checking in at the Airport!), the subject of Real ID compliant State drivers licenses and identification cards has begun to come up again. Part of the challenge is that these cards, which are just an implementation of a National ID Card wrapped inside a card with your stateís logo on it (in part to get the states to pay for it!), includes a chip that will be encoded with a lot of data about you, data which will not be encrypted on the card, and will find its way into a massive database controlled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
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The same SpaceX Falcon 9 booster that launched Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station launched with South Korea's first military satellite, and the booster successfully landed on their drone ship Just Read The Instructions.
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The New York Times reports Trump Seeks to Stop Counting Unauthorized Immigrants in Drawing House Districts. No one is sure how they would do this even if they could, since Trump already lost his effort to add a citizenship question to the census.

None the less, as the Washington Post reports, a coalition of civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit, New York Immigration Coalition v. Trump, to block Trumpís directive.
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Twitter announced it was permanently suspending around 7,000 users accounts who have been spreading QAnon conspiracy theories.
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A Wired article Hereís How Elon Musk Plans to Stitch a Computer into Your Brain, explains how Mr. Muskís company Nuralink is developing brain implants, initially for use to help persons with neurological disorders, but eventually to assist in human-to-computer interfaces.
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After Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) called her sexist names in front of reporters, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) stood on the floor of Congress and called him out in public and commented on the sexist atmosphere in Congress (video)!
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In a New York Times article Why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Is Suing the Trump Administration, Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims "The presidentís immigration policies are bad for business," saying:
If you want businesses to grow and the economy to rebound, you allow skilled workers to come here legally to work and contribute to the well-being of our nation; you donít lock them out. If you want the next revolutionary start-up to be founded in America, you welcome foreign students; you donít threaten to upend their lives and send them home during the middle of a pandemic. And if you want children to grow up to reach their potential and live their American dream, you give them the tools and certainty to succeed; you donít kick them out of the only country theyíve ever known.

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The New York Times posted a nice article on the 30th anniversy of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The A.D.A. at 30: Beyond the Lawís Promise, that described what the law has done and hasn't done for those with disabilities. This issue is particularly dear to my heart, given that my son Benton was born with a condition called Sensory Processing Disorder (originally called Sensory Integration Dysfunction), and I have been advocating for him ever since. He's currently 41 years old, and had a job as a Document Management Specialist with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services, until the pandemic had them close their offices.
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Filmmakers working on a documentary showing the operations inside immigration enforcement facilities are being pressured by the Trump administration to delete certain scenes, and delay its broadcast until after the November Presidential elections. The documentary is currently scheduled to broadcast on Netflix in August.
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The Washington Post reports that, since the Republican National Committee thinks the GOPís chances of reclaiming a majority in Congress are failing, they need to save as much as they can to spend getting Trump reelected, so they are refusing to slip them any money for Congressional races.
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July 18th, 2020
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Federal cops sent to Portland, Oregon by Trump shot twenty-six-year-old Donavan LaBella in the head with an "impact munition." As Reason reports:
[Mr. LaBella] was holding a speaker above his head across the street from the federal courthouse in downtown Portland when one of a group of camouflage-clad federal agents threw some sort of smoking, flashing canister at him. LaBella rolled the canister away from his feet, into an empty portion of the street, then held up the speaker again. Suddenly there was a loud bang, then some sort of impact munition (a.k.a. "firearm-delivered projectiles," such as rubber bullets or bean bags) flying through the air. Then LaBella falls to the ground. Other protesters come to his aid and drag him out of the street. Video captured the whole horrifying incident.
Mr. LaBellaís mother told the press that her sonís skull was crushed and he needed facial reconstruction surgery.

Oregonís local, state and federal government officials condemned the actions of the feds, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) tweeted about the incident, saying:
The consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally dispatching fedíl law enforcement into U.S. cities played out in Portland w/a peaceful protester shot in the head. Trump & Homeland Security must now answer why fedíl officers are acting like an occupying army.


Civil rights advocates were quoted in the Washington Post outraged about the Federal acts:
"I think Portland is a test case," Zakir Khan, a spokesman for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Post. "They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country."

Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, called the recent arrests "flat-out unconstitutional" in a statement shared with The Post.

"Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping," Carson said. "Protesters in Portland have been shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, and repeatedly tear-gassed by uninvited and unwelcome federal agents. We wonít rest until they are gone."
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Peaceful protestors here in Portland are being grabbed up by Federal officers in unmarked black vans. About these Federal kidnappings, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler stated:
This is part of a coordinated strategy out of Trumpís White House to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data, and it is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials. As we were starting to see things de-escalate, their actions last Saturday and every night since have actually ratcheted up the tension on our streets.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote in a tweet:
A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trumpís secret police. Now Trump and [acting DHS secretary] Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.
This is what Trump wants! He sent Federal officers here to Portland to keep protestors agitated by giving them even more illegal police acts to protest against!
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C|Net posted their Space calendar 2020: Every rocket launch, mission, eclipse, meteor shower and more. They even include a link you can click to add all these events to your Google Calendar! No, thanks for me: my calendar is already busier than a retireeís calendar should be!
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ZDNet posted a video called The importance of open source AI. The gist of it is: if the code is open source, anyone can view its algorithms to verify they arenít biased, and that it isnít programmed to do bad things!
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I ran across a new term that young smartphone users are using: doomscrolling. Itís described as:
referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.
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With everyone examining everything in our culture for unconscious bias, us techies have been reexamining some of our terminology as well: terms like "master" and "slave", and "blacklist" and "whitelist", etc. I imagine there are other similar terms in virtually every other discipline. It's time to chage them.
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CSO posted an article titled 5 tips to protect legacy applications on Windows networks. This has been a recurring issue every time Microsoft stops supporting an older version of Windows, or when a "must have" application wonít run on Windows 10 (this is particularly true for custom-built applications, compiled databases, etc). The best way to avoid these issues is to set up a virtual machine (VM) on a Windows 10 box running the older version of Windows you need, then install and run the application inside the VM. Setting up a VM used to require third-party software, but the capability has been built in to Windows for some time.
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The Supreme Court ruled in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants (pdf) that a government debt exception to the Telephone Consumer Protect Act — that allowed government contractors to send robocalls to recover student loan debts, etc. — violates the First Amendment because it barred other robocalls but allowed government debt-collection calls. However, the court chose to sever the exception, but keep the rest of the law intact saying:
The Courtís presumption of severability supplies a workable solution — one that allows courts to avoid judicial policymaking or de facto judicial legislation in determining just how much of the remainder of a statute should be invalidated. The presumption also reflects the confined role of the Judiciary in our system of separated powers — stated otherwise, the presumption manifests the Judiciaryís respect for Congressís legislative role by keeping courts from unnecessarily disturbing a law apart from invalidating the provision that is unconstitutional. Furthermore, the presumption recognizes that plaintiffs who successfully challenge one provision of a law may lack standing to challenge other provisions of that law. . . . Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute.
This is not the decision the plaintiffs were looking for. They hoped the whole law could be thrown out so they could ramp up political robocalls prior to the upcomming Presidential elections!
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EPIC has won its case Electronic Privacy Information Center v. National Security Commission On Artificial Intelligence, et al. (pdf). EPIC had filed numerous requests asking that the meetings and records of the commission be open, citing both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The court rejected the governmentís position that the two laws were conflicting, saying:
These different obligations are complementary, not conflicting. If the Government is correct, an entity subject to FOIA and FACA would need to look backward, producing records in response to requests, and forward, chronicling its activities and continually supplementing its records. This Janus-like status may be unusual, but it is not impossible. And even if there is some tension or conflict between FOIA and FACA, the Government has not offered a persuasive reason why that should matter.
The court went on to order the Commission to hold open meetings and regularly publish its records. Why is this important? Isnít it a good idea that citizens know what government entities are going to be using Artificial Intelligences for?!
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A very large coalition of "privacy, civil liberties, civil rights, and investor and faith groups" wrote a letter to the House and Senate leadership, urging them to:
. . . take action to prevent the continued use and investment in face recognition technology, including by(1) passing legislation, like the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act of 2020, which would halt the use of face recognition and prevent federal funds from being used to purchase such technology, (2) stop continued federal funding of invasive and discriminatory technologies by police, including face recognition; and (3) ensure that any policing reform bill that funds body or dash cameras prohibits the use of face recognition used in conjunction with these accountability tools.
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After being hit by numerous lawsuits, the Trump administration backed away from its controversial requirement that international students must attend in-person classes in order to remain in the country.
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Bruce Schneier, in a blog post Examining the US Cyber Budget, points out that, "the US keeps saying that we need to prioritize defense, but in fact we prioritize attack," and warns:
We cannot ignore what the money is telling us. The White House and National Cyber Strategy emphasize the need to protect the American people and our way of life, yet the budget does not reflect those values. Rather, the budget clearly shows that the Defense Department is the government's main priority.
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In a blog article The Security Value of Inefficiency, Bruce Schneier points out that a relentless effort to make our supply chains efficient set us up for failure when COVID-19 happened:
We have lost much inefficiency to the market in the past few decades. Investors have become very good at noticing any fat in every system and swooping down to monetize those redundant assets. The winner-take-all mentality that has permeated so many industries squeezes any inefficiencies out of the system.

This drive for efficiency leads to brittle systems that function properly when everything is normal but break under stress. And when they break, everyone suffers. The less fortunate suffer and die. The more fortunate are merely hurt, and perhaps lose their freedoms or their future. But even the extremely fortunate suffer — maybe not in the short term, but in the long term from the constriction of the rest of society.
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As part of an apparent effort to attack public confidence in the CDC, the White House has ordered hospitals to send all COVOD-19 patient information to them instead of the CDC. But there is concern that the internal database this data will be stored in will not be open to the public!
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In a New Your Times article titled What Black Lives Matter Has Revealed About Small-Town America , Campbell Robertson comments:
Nobody around here ever talked about any of this. Itís just what it was.

And yet there one afternoon in early June, right in the middle of the county seat, she happened upon it: a crowd of white people demanding justice for Black lives. They would be joined by Black high school students, children of Latino farmworkers, "gays, lesbians, queer, transgender, whatever," Ms. [Nikki] Wilkerson, 34, said. "This was not the Chambersburg [Pennsylvania] I grew up in. I had no idea. All of these people are just coming out of the woodwork."
Weíre seeing similar small-town protests here in Oregon. For instance, a Black Lives Matter protest in little St. Helens, Oregon drew 800 protestors, overwhelmingly dominated by young white people.
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In a Washington Post article We ran the CDC. No president ever politicized its science the way Trump has, four former directors of the CDC — Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher and Richard Besser — say, "the administration is undermining public health," saying:
Weíre seeing the terrible effect of undermining the CDC play out in our population. Willful disregard for public health guidelines is, unsurprisingly, leading to a sharp rise in infections and deaths. America now stands as a global outlier in the coronavirus pandemic. This tragic indictment of our efforts is even more egregious in light of the disproportionate impact weíve witnessed on communities of color and lower-income essential workers. China, using the same mitigation tools available to us and with a far larger population, has had just a tiny fraction of the 3.1 million cases reported here. The United States now has more cases and deaths than any other country and the sixth-highest rate of any large country in the world — and we are gaining on the other five. The United States is home to a quarter of the worldís reported coronavirus infections and deaths, despite being home to only 4.4 percent of the global population.
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MIT Technology Review has posted an article The US is turning away the worldís best mindsóand this time, they may not come back, saying:
With new regulations, executive orders, and administrative guidance, federal authorities have made it slower, costlier, and much less certain for immigrants to come to the US.

Americaís universities, research labs, and tech companies have watched these developments in disbelief. Research has shown that immigrants are critical to science and technology in the US, fueling technological innovation, job creation, and growth that benefit US citizens and noncitizens alike. Thatís why tech and business leaders reacted with outrage last month when the White House suspended key visas for skilled workers. Many who spoke out, such as SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, AI pioneers Andrew Ng and Yann LeCun, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, are themselves immigrants who first came to the US on temporary visas.
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Dr. Daniel R. Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University who has studied numerous previous diseases, is heading out to China as part of a World Health Organization team to investigate the origins of COVID-19. Before he leaves, he posed eight questions that the team needs answers to.
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The New York Timesí Jeneen Interlandi points out how the COVID-19 crisis in Texas points out how chronic underfunding of public health in the U.S. is why we have been so unprepared to fight the pandemic:
Think of the factors that determine a societyís health as a pyramid, [Tom] Frieden [former director of the CDC] says, in which the things that have the biggest impact on the most people are afforded the most space. Social policies that mitigate economic inequality would be at the base of the pyramid, followed immediately by public-health interventions like improved sanitation, automobile-and-workplace-safety laws, clean-water initiatives and tobacco-control programs. Clinical medicine would be closer to the top. "Now consider the way that we value and prioritize those factors," Frieden says. "Itís almost completely inverted." Less than 3 percent of the countryís $3.6 trillion total annual health care bill is spent on public health; a vast majority of the rest goes to clinical medicine.

The main reason for that discrepancy is simple, historians say: Americans donít like being told what to do. We want to be protected from infectious diseases and dirty water and bad food and crazed gunmen. But not in a way that undermines our freedom. That ambivalence was baked into our public-health institutions from the start.
In other words, we did this to ourselves!
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), partnered with the University of Nevada's Reynolds School of Journalism, have posted an Atlas of Survellance, describing it as:
. . . a database of the surveillance technologies deployed by law enforcement in communities across the United States. This includes drones, body-worn camera, automated license plate readers, facial recognition, and more.

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CNN reports that, after North Carolina said "no," and moving the Republican convention to Florida, rampaging COVID-19 infections in that state have forced the Republican National Committee to scale back the convention:
Attendance will be limited to the 2,500 regular RNC delegates for the first three days of the convention, with delegates allowed to bring one guest and alternate delegates also allowed to attend, capping total attendance at about 7,000 people.
Of course, this will deny Trump the spectacle he was hoping for!
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July 16th was Microsoft Patch Tuesday, and Brian Krebs reports that this monthís update includes fixes for 123 security holes in the OS. Iíve run it on three PCs in the house so far with no notable issues, except that it took away the Quick Launch Bar icons on my main PC. Yeah, yeah, I know: Quick Launch is not officially part of Windows for several years, but I still use it, and missed it when it went away! Fortunately itís easy to bring it back.
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Oregonís Secretary of State Bev Clarno announced that, due to challenges getting signatures during the pandemic, she will continue to accept signatures from Chief Petitioners for Initiative Petition 57 until August 17. This initiative would amend the Oregon Constitution to create an independent redistricting commission. The legislature currently sets political districts in the state.
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In a campaign speech, Joe Biden announced proposals to spend $2 trillion on clean energy projects, and convert the country to all-carbon-free electricity by 2035.
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The latest update to the Chrome Web browser, Version 84, includes pop-up blocking!
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Google Cloud is offering its users confidential virtual machines (VMs) to protect their data.
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MIT Technology Review notes If the coronavirus is really airborne, we might be fighting it the wrong way, suggesting:
Whether the virus is airborne isnít simply a scientific question. If it is, it could mean that in places where the virus has not been properly contained (e.g., the US), the economy needs to be reopened more slowly, under tighter regulations that reinforce current health practices as well as introducing improved ones. Our current tactics for stopping the spread wonít be enough.
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The New York Timesí Lisa Lerer posted an article The Virus Is Stealing the Show, but Trump Is Sticking With Reruns, saying:
In 2016, Mr. Trump was able to drive programming during the campaign, steering the news cycle into covering the twists and turns of his extraordinary run.

Now, the pandemic is the top story. And Mr. Trump canít change the channel.
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87 protesters in Louisville, KY, who held a sit-in on the lawn in front of the home of Kentuckyís attorney general to demand action in Breonna Taylorís case, were arrested and charged with "felony intimidating a participant in a legal process". None of the officers involved in Ms. Taylorís death have been charged.
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Nicholas Kristof, in a New Your times opinion piece We Interrupt This Gloom to Offer Ö Hope, suggests:
Betting markets like PredictIt expect Joe Biden to sweep into the presidency in January with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate. By then we may have lost a quarter million Americans to Covid-19 and remain mired in the worst economic downturn of our lifetimes, with racial antagonisms inflamed by a president whom a majority of Americans regard as a racist. Iíve known Biden since he was a senator, and heís no radical ó but that reassuring, boring mien may make it easier to win a mandate and then use it to pivot the United States onto a new path.
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An article in the New York Times, 3 Weeks After Primary, N.Y. Officials Still Canít Say Who Won Key Races, notes that the issue, in part, was due to the large number of absentee ballots due to the pandemic, but also due to the last-minute decision to mail out absentee ballots to everyone, a shortage of manpower, and the invalidation of ballots that we mailed before the deadline, but postmarked the next day by the USPS!
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The Trump administration is working hard to cast doubt on the statements of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials because they are disagreeing with Trumpís statements trying to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic. Trump needs the country to buy his arguments so they will speed up the reopening process, and put more people to work, to theoretically kickstart the economy and bolster his reelection hopes. Never mind that science disagrees with him, and additional thousands would die as a result!
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The Washington Post posted an "Opinion Essay" Anthony Fauci built a truce. Trump is destroying it. One man, six presidents and the fragile balance between politics and science. This lengthy, in-depth article describes Dr. Anthony S. Fauciís almost 40-year career at the National Institutes of Health. After reading this, you will likely be even madder at the Trump Administrationís treatment of Dr. Fauci than you already are (if thatís possible!).
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The Department of Defense has banned displays of the Confederate battle flag on U.S. military installations . . . sort of. The DoD didnít ban any flag specifically, they only listed which flags were allowed to be displayed! Smart move!
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July 12th, 2020
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A white woman, Amy Cooper, was letting her dog run unleashed in NYCís Central Park — despite there being a sign requiring her to keep her dog on a leash! — was asked nicely by a Black man who was there bird watching to leash her dog (Note that the sign was there to prevent dogs attacking birds there, which was why the sign was there!). However, rather than simply leash her dog, the woman called the police on him, claiming a big Black man was threatening her, after telling her she was going to do just that! Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for bird watcher Christian Cooper, he recorded the entire incident on his smartphone and uploaded it (the link above has a copy of the video you can watch). The result? The woman lost her job, and the cops charged her with filing a false police report.

The young social media crowd calls self-entitled white women like Ms. Cooper — who use their assumption of white privilege to try and get over on Black people — Karens.
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The Supreme Court ruled in Chiafalo Et Al. v. Washington (PDF) that the states can require Electoral College members to vote for the presidential candidates they had pledged to support, and fine them if state law allows.
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ZDNet reports that an study of 127 home router models had known security vulnerabilities, and in some cases ran outdated, unpatched version of Linux! It's hard to believe that the router makers were wholly ignorant of these vulnerabilities.
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The New York Times reports that "the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19." My question is: why is it that there are enough tests to give regular tests to the Trump and his White House employees , and the NBA will be testing itís players and team staff every day, when common citizens like me have no chance to get tested unless we show symptoms! (PDF). The fact is, we all know why: offering a fractured quote from George Orwellís "Animal Farm:" All people are equal, but some people are more equal than others. And whoever is controlling the distribution of these tests is discriminating for and against various groups, states, cities, etc. Why arenít the press pointing out this inequity?
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The MIT Technology Review reports that A group of 239 scientists says thereís growing evidence covid-19 is airborne. Up to now, the primary transmission was thought to be via touch or large expelled droplets. However, this report says that "viruses are released during exhalation, talking, and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in air." This would mean the six-foot social distancing we've been asked to practice might not be a sufficient distance, particularly indoors. (sigh!) All the more reason to keep those masks on!
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Reasonís Shikha Dalmia warns that, besides just stopping new H-1B visas, Trump may attempt to force long-time legal H-1B visa holders out of the country! These are people who have in some cases been working in the country for years, many of them in high-tech industries, and have become members of our society. Many have bought homes here, married, and are raising kids who are American citizens!
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If youíll remember, we talked earlier about worries some people have that, should he lose the election, Trump might try to find a way to keep from leaving the White House? Well, Michael Abramowicz, of the Volokh Conspiracy (a group made up of mostly law professors!), posted an article in Reason titled Can Trump Really Lose the Election and Remain President? that points out several ways it could happen! Not that I wasnít worried before, but . . . !
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Trumpís at it again. His latest anti-immigrant target is foreign college students, who new rules would force to leave the country if their college moves to all online classes!

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration in federal court, looking to block the immigration ruling.
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TechRepublic posted an article titled The most in-demand IT staff companies want to hire, saying:
The greatest demand for tech staff right now is in cybersecurity and general IT support and systems administration, the latter being responsible for supporting and maintaining systems so remote users have full access to their companies' networks . . .
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The Supreme Court ruled that Trump can block the release of his financial records to Congress but has to release them to prosecutors in New York.
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The Supreme Court also ruled (pdf) that a big chunk of eastern Oklahoma — including most of the city of Tulsa! — is an Indian reservation, and could prevent state authorities from prosecuting Native Americans!

In a statement posted on his official web page, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), who sits on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said:
This decision is a landmark victory for Indian Country, upholding the United Statesí treaty obligations to the Creek Nation of Oklahoma and treaty Tribes across the country. The Supreme Court has affirmed that a promise is a promise: that treaties between the United States and Tribes are the law of the land — no matter how many times the federal government has violated those treaties in the past — and that lands reserved for Tribes remain Indian Country, now and in the future. While no court decision can correct centuries of injustice committed against Indigenous people, todayís ruling is a historic step forward to safeguard Tribal sovereignty for decades to come.
Itís about time! I think that, once the legal ramifications of this ruling are finally played out, many tribesí reservations will be expanding!
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Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) (who is also a decorated disabled Army veteran!), posted an opinion piece in the New York Times, responding to an attack piece by Trump sycophant Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying:
. . . while we have never been a perfect union, we have always sought to be a more perfect union — and in order to do so, we cannot whitewash our missteps and mistakes. We must learn from them instead. But what I actually said isnít the reason Mr. Carlson and Mr. Trump are questioning my patriotism, nor is it why theyíre using the same racist insults against me that have been slung my way time and again in years past, though they have never worked on me. Theyíre doing it because theyíre desperate for Americaís attention to be on anything other than Donald Trumpís failure to lead our nation, and because they think that Mr. Trumpís electoral prospects will be better if they can turn us against one another. Their goal isnít to make — or keep — America great. Itís to keep Mr. Trump in power, whatever the cost.


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The company that owns the popular social networking site TikTok was purchased by another Chinese company. Shortly after that, the U.S. Government started a national security investigation of TikTok, and Amazon first ordered its employees to delete the app from their cellphones, then withdrew the order! I wonder what Amazon found out that changed their minds?
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Just as Roger Stone was about to report to jail after being convicted of lying to Congress, Trump commuted his sentence!

Commenting on the commutation, The New York Times said, "he has now crossed a line that even Mr. Nixon in the depths of Watergate dared not cross.".

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III broke his long silence on Saturday to defend his prosecution of Roger J. Stone Jr..

This commutation can be considered as nothing less than a notice to anyone thinking about doing illegal things on Trump's behalf that heíthey have a "get out of jail free card!"
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The New York Times posted an important article titled The Last Reporter in Town Had One Big Question for His Rich Boss, that describes how "vulture capitalists" have been buying local newspapers, stripping them of their assets, and letting them fail, solely for the short-term profits. And in the process, are helping local politicians and businesses hide their bad deeds from their communities because no one is reporting on them anymore!

In case you want to know more about this issue, Netflixís Patriot Act discusses the problem at length in its episode titled "Why the News Industry Is Dying"
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July 5th, 2020
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Trump retweeted a video of a man in a golf cart sporting ďTrump 2020Ē and ďAmerica FirstĒ signs yelling ďWhite power.Ē [sigh!]
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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) posted a Wired article titled Privacy Isnít a Right You Can Click Away, that describes a law he introduced, the Data Accountability and Transparency Act of 2020, that would start to reign in how companies collect and use our personal information.
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The New York Times reports that, despite saying he "never saw it," two officials familiar with the matter say that Trump got a briefing in February regarding the Russians putting bounties on US Troops in Afghanistan.

American investigators intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russiaís military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account.
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The Supreme Court has ruled in Espinoza et al. V. Montana Department of Revenue Et Al (pdf) that if a state gives aid to private schools, it must also offer religious schools the same aid.
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The Mississippi state legislature has voted 37-14 to remove the Confederate emblem from their state flag. This was the last southern state to remove emblem from its flag.
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In a Wired article titled Blurring Faces Is Anti-Journalistic and Anti-Human, Brent Lewis complains about pictures of demonstators he sees with their face obscured, saying:

Photojournalists arenít at protests to pick a side. Altering photographs destroys trust and neglects the truth that people want to be seen.
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Protestors in St. Louis, MO — who were marching to their mayorís house protest St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson who was accused of doxing protesters who had given her letters calling for police reform — were confronted by an white armed married couple whose house they were peacefully marching past.
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After "a rigorous process that takes into account both online and offline behavior," Facebook removed 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 Pages and 106 groups belonging to the boogaloo movement, calling it a "violent US-based anti-government network."
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Ars Technica reports that the police chief of Detroit, Michigan — whose cops wrongfully arrested a Black man, Robert Williams, based solely on a false positive identification from their facial recognition system! — admitted that the system wrongly identifies suspects 96-percent of the time!

The results of a scientific study of commercial facial recognition systems by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, reported in Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT), Part 3: Demographic Effects (pdf), said:
With respect to race, false positive rates are highest in West and East African and East Asian people. False positive rates are also elevated but slightly less so in South Asian and Central American people. The lowest false positive rates generally occur with East European individuals.

In other words, these system are useless . . . unless youíre a white guy!
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The Association for Computer Machinery, the nationís oldest trade association for computer professional and students, posted a statement by its U.S. Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) titled Statement On Principles And Prerequisites For The Development, Evaluation And Use Of Unbiased Facial Recognition Technologies (pdf), that says:
For both technical and ethical reasons Ė pending the adoption of appropriately comprehensive law and regulation to govern its use, oversee its application, and mitigate potential harm Ė USTPC urges an immediate suspension of the current and future private and governmental use of FR technologies in all circumstances known or reasonably foreseeable to be prejudicial to established human and legal rights.
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Wired reports that researchers have found that over 1,000 metric tons of Microplastic particles fall into 11 protected areas in the western US each year! No telling how much falls in cities towns, farms, etc. No one knows the potential effects these particles may have on flora, fauna, and us humans.
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MIT Technology Review warns that The Trump 2020 app is a voter surveillance tool of extraordinary power, warning:
On signing up, users are required to provide a phone number for a verification code, as well as their full name, email address, and zip code. They are also highly encouraged to share the app with their existing contacts. This is part of a campaign strategy for reaching the 40 to 50 million citizens expected to vote for Trumpís reelection: to put it bluntly, the campaign says it intends to collect every single one of these votersí cell-phone numbers. This strategy means the app also makes extensive permission requests, asking for access to location data, phone identity, and control over the handsetís Bluetooth function.

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Microsoft is offering a Windows File Recovery App through its Microsoft Store. Warning, however: this is a Command-line app. Fortunastely, the page I linked to above has a complete list of commands and how to use them. Note that they point out an important fact about file recovery:
If you want to increase your chances of recovering a file, minimize or avoid using your computer. In the Windows file system, the space used by a deleted file is marked as free space, which means the file data can still exist and be recovered. But any use of your computer can create files, which may over-write this free space at any time.

This has always been true when trying to recover files since the MS-DOS days. So if you a re missing a file, close everything before you run this app.
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Ars Technica posted a cool article titled Human Interface: What (almost) every button in an F-15C fighterís cockpit does. Talk about flashback to the late 1980ís! By the way, the retired pilot guiding the presentation is a retired female Colonel with over 1000 hours in the cockpit!
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NASA has renamed its headquarters after Mary Jackson, the agencyís first Black female engineer.
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Someone please explain to me why wearing a mask to avoid infecting others with COVID-19 has become political! This isnít about politics, itís totally about science! Oh. Excuse me. I understand now: this is the same group of science deniers who donít believe in Climate Change! Probably the same mental defectives who have vowed they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine immunization (sigh!).
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Brian Krebs reports that tech news sites and cybersecurity companies are reporting ransomware attacks solely on the word of the bad guys doing the attacking, saying:
Often the rationale behind couching these events as newsworthy is that the attacks involve publicly traded companies or recognizable brands, and that investors and the public have a right to know. But absent any additional information from the victim company or their partners who may be affected by the attack, these kinds of stories and blog posts look a great deal like ambulance chasing and sensationalism.
I agree.
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Even though several Republican governors refused to implement the Affordable Care Act, and as the Trump Administration is going back to court to kill it, the fifth state to overrule its Republican governor is Oklahoma, whose voters passed a measure expanding Medicaid to nearly 200,000 low-income adults!

In addition to a bunch of state and local politicians, judges, etc., Oregon also had other things to vote for (or against!):
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Presidential candidate Joe Biden is warning that if Trump thinks heís losing the election in November he might try to cancel the election, or push to get a loss overturned, saying:
"Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it canít be held," Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser, according to a news media pool report. Mr. Trump, he suggested, is "trying to let the word out that heís going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote. Thatís the only way he thinks he can possibly win."

Political commentator Bill Maher has been saying much of the same thing almost every week on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, saying:
ďSo my question to all Democratic candidates is, whatís the plan?Ē Maher said. ďIf you win and the next day he claims heís avoiding the election because of irregularities heís hearing about, what do you do? What do you do when the crowd that was in Virginia this week 22,000 strong marches on Washington? This is a scary moment. And when Iíve asked Democrats, what do we do if he doesnít go? Their answer is always some variation of we have to win big.Ē
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The Trump family has lost its bid to block publication of a book written by "The Donaldís" niece, trained clinical psychologist Mary Trump titled Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the Worldís Most Dangerous Man (Yes, I did post a link to the book on Amazon)!
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In a similar vein, John Boltonís book "Thee Room Where it Happened" was Numer One on the New York Timesí Best Sellers list!

Note that the next four books in the top five all discuss issues trying to explain issues Black people face to white people!
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Good news! The Supreme Court announced it will hear a case on the release of the full Mueller report. Bad news: they probably wonít rule on the issue until after the election!
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ZDNet warns corporations that Ransomware is now your biggest online security nightmare. And it's about to get worse.
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C|Net is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a series of articles. My favorite is CNET 25: The Firsts that talks about the first device of each type to appear over the years. My second favorite is This tech let us dream big. Then it flopped spectacularly, which remembers technology ideas that never panned out.
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Doing everything he can to violate safe behavior, common sense, and the truth generally, Trumpís election rally thinly disguised as a Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore violated safe distancing rules by jamming seats right next to each other, ignored the call to wear masks, and went full scale culture warrior in a fiery speech so full of "dog whistle" rants that there was no question about whether his plan for this election is to be as divisive as possible!
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Shopping malls all over America were already having trouble prior to the pandemic as they lost the large anchor department stores, such as J.C. Penny, Sears, and Nordstromís. But the pandemic has only accelerated the threat as department stores continue to close, and even smaller franchises board up their stores pending bankruptcy. And the longer the pandemic keeps shoppers away and stuck at home, the more used shoppers are getting to doing all their shopping online! But the average shopper is only learning what disabled shoppers have known for years: online shopping is perfect for those of us who have trouble navigating stores and reaching items on high or low shelves, canít drive, or are sight impaired.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to pass Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act on Thursday. As Scott Shackford said in the Reason article linked to above, "This isn't a bill about fighting child porn. Don't fall for it."
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June 28th, 2020
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I talked about Machine Bias last week, and this week a real-world example showed up: the New York Times posted an article titled Wrongfully Accused by an Algorithm that describes the experiences of a Black man in Detroit, who was wrongfully arrested by police based on his driverís license photo being incorrectly identified by a facial recognition system as matching a photo taken from a storeís video surveillance system!
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MIT Technology Review reports that Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, which would "make it illegal for any federal agency or official to ďacquire, possess, access, or useĒ biometric surveillance technology in the US. It would also require state and local law enforcement to bring in similar bans in order to receive federal funding."
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For those who care, Wired posted an article titled Hereís Everything Apple Announced at WWDC. One interesting thing of note: once Mac laptops and desktop are running on so-called "Apple Silicon" they will be able to run a new OS compatible with the aps written for iPhone and iPad users!
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An article in Reason titled Breonna Taylor and the Moral Bankruptcy of Drug Prohibition points out that Ms. Taylor "would still be alive if politicians did not insist on using violence to enforce their pharmacological prejudices," Saying:
This sort of operation [executing a no-knock warrant] is inherently dangerous because the same tactics that police use to catch their targets off guard, in the hope of preventing resistance, predictably lead to that very result as residents exercise their constitutional right to armed self-defense. That scenario has played out again and again in cities across the country for decades.
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An MIT Technology review article titled Why the coronavirus lockdown is making the internet stronger than ever, points out that, despite fears that increased bandwith demands from Internet usage by persons quarantined at home due to COVID-19 could bring the Internet, the opposite has been true:
Just as massive investment in a city center leads to a landscape transformed by construction projects, investment in the internet has led to similar expansion. It is harder to see, but it has completely changed our online experience. And it is why the internet is holding up so well right now.

In fact, far from bringing networks to their knees, covid-19 is driving the most rapid expansion in years. To make sure they meet demand, internet giants like Netflix and Equinix, which operates 200 data centers around the world, are rushing out upgrades as quickly as possible. Equinix is in the middle of upgrading its traffic capacity from 10 to 100 gigabytes. The work was going to have been carried out over a year or two — but it is now being done in a few weeks.
In the case of our house, we currently have four desktop PCs, two laptop PCs, four smartphones, four tablets, and six Internet-connected TVs on the home network, which is connected to a 500 MBS Internet connection. So far, With my daughter working from home all day, and even with multiple devices simultaneously streaming content, Iíve not seen any bandwidth-related issues.
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Pixarís Edwin Catmull and Patrick Hanrahan have won the Turing Award for inventing "game-changing 3D computer graphics techniques "
. The Turing Award " an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to an individual selected for contributions "of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field."
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In a New York Times article titled You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument, Caroline Randall Williams graphically points out why many Black people have such a visceral hatred of Confederate monuments:
Among the apologists for the Southern cause and for its monuments, there are those who dismiss the hardships of the past. They imagine a world of benevolent masters, and speak with misty eyes of gentility and honor and the land. They deny plantation rape, or explain it away, or question the degree of frequency with which it occurred.

To those people it is my privilege to say, I am proof. I am proof that whatever else the South might have been, or might believe itself to be, it was and is a space whose prosperity and sense of romance and nostalgia were built upon the grievous exploitation of black life.
You really need to read this entire article. Hopefully, if you havenít really "got it, " yet, this article will change your thinking (one can only hope!).
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The New York Times posted an in-depth article about Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer titled A Governor on Her Own, With Everything at Stake, pointing out that she is one of the few politicians that has had her stuff together when the COVID-19 pandemic hit (you reading this Joe Biden?).
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CNN reports that the Trump administration asks Supreme Court to invalidate Obamacare, saying:
In the midst of a global pandemic with the presidential election just months away, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care law that enabled millions of Americans to get insurance coverage and that remains in effect despite the pending legal challenge.

In a late-night filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that once the law's individual coverage mandate and two key provisions are invalidated, "the remainder of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect."
In other words, the Trump Administration is willing to cancel the health care of 22 million people in the middle of a pandemic just to get a political win! Just when you think he canít sink any lower . . . !
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Well, I guess he can! The New York Times reported that Spies and Commandos Warned Months Ago of Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops! Yet for some reason neither the Trump Administration nor anyone in Congress who would have been briefed by the intelligence community let the country know about this.
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June 25th, 2020
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Wired posted an article titled The Country Is Reopening. Iím Still on Lockdown that struck a strong note with me: at 70 and 69 years old respectively, my wife and I are still not ready to spend any length of time away from the house — nor is my daughter willing to let us! Granted, our issues arenít as grim as the authorís. But we, who due to age and chronic illnesses, fall deep into the description of who is most vulnerable, are not willing to take a chance with a potentially fatal illness. Nor are our younger family members!
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C|Net reports that Democrats and Republicans agree that Section 230 is flawed. But most of the reforms any of them are suggesting would cripple online free speech and security.
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President Trump has suspended the issue of H-1B visas. Tech companies like these visas, since they are used to import tech talent ó programmers, developers, etc. ó often at bargain prices lower than usually paid to qualified American employees with similar skills. Understand that I don't blame the immigrants who come over on these visa to work. They are chasing the American Dream like everyone else! I blame the companies that "import" them to work on the cheap. By freezing these visas he's actually doing American techies a favor. Likely by mistake, given his history!
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Apple is going to stop bying Intel CPUs for their MacBook laptops in favor of ARM-based chips it is developing in-house, dubbed "Apple Silicon," which will be similar to the CPUs already being used in itís iPhones and iPads.
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GQ reports that the FBI is using data gleaned from online shopping accounts, social media and tattoos to track down a protester who they allege set fire to a police car.
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Both the Trump and Biden campaigns are using campaign apps created by Bespoke that vacuume up usersí personal data.
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Users are reporting that their Samsung Blu-Ray players are entering a reboot loop or shutting down when turned on. Samsung has no answers so far. Yet another reason to be happy I have a Sony!
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Kathy Lueders, who managed NASA's end of the SpaceX Demo-2 launch, has been promoted to lead NASA's Human Exploration and Operations mission directorate, which will manage the US return to the moon!
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Donald Trump planned on having huge crowds attending his rally in Tulsa, OK, but he was thwarted by young TikTok users that registered for tickets to the rally with no intention of attending! As a result, after the event promoters claimed that almost a million followers were planning to attend the event, only 6,200 people actually showed up! The genius of this method is that it is simple, uses the promotersí own system, and there is really no way to prevent it!
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Google is adding fact-check labels to images its search engine comes up with, and those in Google Images.
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A compelling group of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and academics are claiming that publishers of scientific journals help to perpetuate racist algorithms. A friend asked me recently, "how can a computer algorithm be racist?" AI systems are trained by showing it lots of data. If the data is sufficiently diverse and random it is most likely to provide an unbiased result. But if the data is skewed, or the person writing the algorithm includes his or her unconscious biases in the code, the result will be skewed as well. This is particularly troublesome if the AI is used to judge who is most likely to be a criminal!

The best article on the subject Iíve found so far is a 2016 article in ProPublica titled Machine Bias. Well worth your reading time!
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If you care about Apple iPhones (I donít, really!) Apple, at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (presented online due to the pandemic!), gave everyone their first look at their iOS 14 operating system for the iPhone.
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"Transparency" activist group DDoSecrets has leaked 296 GB of data from over 200 police centers, that it claims it received from the notorious hacker group Anonymous.
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True to his past practices, President Trump is quick to call anti-fascist or "antifa" protestors domestic terrorists, based on the late night destruction occurring after the real protestors go home (at least here in Portland, OR!). However, he is, true to form, ignoring the actions of right-wing extremists like the "Boogaloo Bois", which are showing up at otherwise peaceful protests, often openly armed, to incite violence. Donít get me wrong, I abhor the actions of anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, who seem bent on wonton destruction and arson. But I equally abhor President Trumpís practice of regularly spreading the half-truths and lies he hears on ultra-right news channels and websites. And I strongly object to right-wing attempts to blame all the peaceful protestors for the actions of a few often outside agitators, who often show up only after the peaceful protestors have gone home!
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Amazon has started up a $2 billion venture fund to invest in companies developing ways to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
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ZDNet reports that the June Patch Tuesday update is causing some PCs running Windows 10 version 1809 and above to crash! Microsoft is working on a fix.

ZDNetís Ed Bott posted an article titled Microsoft, stop feeding bugs to a billion Windows 10 users. Here's how, and suggests:
As each version moves from one channel to the next, Dev Channel to Beta to Release Preview to Semi-Annual Channel, the pool of devices running that code gets larger, which leads to an inevitable result: As each new channel opens up, new bugs and incompatibilities surface.

That's not such a big deal in the Insider channels, where the participants are (mostly) aware of what they signed up for. Where things get sticky is when that feature update is offered to the general public, as it is here.
This isnít the first time Microsoft has been criticized for treating its users as unsuspecting beta testers of buggy Windows updates! Sorry if the article I reference is somewhat dense technically, but this is an important issue that needs attention!
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Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have introduced S. 4051, Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, which would force service providers and device manufacturers to assist law enforcement with accessing encrypted data after a court has issued a warrant. In other words, the vendor would have to have a "back door" they could use to access encrypted data! Of course, privacy advocacy groups were quick to point out why this is such a bad idea: Our Congresscritters try this every 5 years or so. Guess itís time to update my page on Encryption again!.
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Do your home users connect to the Internet using a Netgear router? If so you need to be aware that 79 Netgear models have a vulnerability that can let hackers take over the router remotely, which gives them full access to your home network!
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A malware campaign called Glupteba creates a backdoor that gives hackers full access to a Windows PC, and adds the PC to a botnet other hackers can use! Worse, it is constantly upgrading itself to make it hard for antivirus software to detect it!
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Adobe Flash Player will reach End of Life on December 31st 2020, and Adobe would like you to uninstall it by then. This has come about because most current browser versions have integrated the features you used to need Flash for!
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Google is changing its default policy for saving data retention to automatically delete data files older than 18 months!.
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Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University said Facebook is "aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation," by their recent decision to allow climate change disinformation ineligible for fact-checking, deeming it "opinion." Sorry, Google, climate change is a fact, i.e. the truth. Therefore denying climate change exists is not truthful, i.e. a lie!
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A New York Times article titled Why Tech Degrees Are Not Putting More Blacks and Hispanics Into Tech Jobs concludes:
Research has found that during hiring, managers are biased against black-sounding names on rťsumťs, for instance, and interviewers weigh too heavily whether theyíd want to hang out with someone. Software can help remove human bias, such as with new tools for stripping rťsumťs of biographical information, offering blind auditions to job applicants or analyzing job postings for language that excludes certain groups.
Many tech companies have started doing things like requiring training on unconscious bias and hiring corporate diversity chiefs. But it is unclear how much of a difference these efforts make. Holding hiring managers responsible for diversity works far better than either staff diversity training sessions, which donít work well, or networking and mentoring programs, which help a bit, according to a study analyzing three decades of work force data from 708 companies.
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Starting with the 2004/May Update to Windows 10, Microsoft has removed the option in Windows 10 to manually defer feature updates using Windows Update settings! In other words, if Microsoft thinks your PC needs an update, youíre going to get it! I give 'em a month or less before techie outrage changes their mind for them!
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According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, 1.1 million COVID-19 stimulus checks worth $1.4 billion went to dead people!. After looking the other way when large corporations fed from their trough, I'm not surprized!
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June 20th, 2020
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MIT Technology Reviewís Elizabeth MacBride, in an article titled Why venture capital doesnít build the things we really need, complains that the venture capital market, which is dominated by white males, is doing a poor job of funding the kind of startups we need to improve our future, saying:
In the United States, [Carol Dahl, executive director of the Lemelson Foundation, which supports inventors and entrepreneurs building physical products] says, 75% of venture capital goes to software. Some 5 to 10% goes to biotech: a tiny handful of venture capitalists have mastered the longer art of building a biotech company. The other sliver goes to everything else —"transportation, sanitation, health care." To fund a complete system of innovation, we need to think about "not only the downstream invention itself, but what preceded it," Dahl says. "Not only inspiring people who want to invent, but thinking about the way products reach us through companies."

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In a MIT Technology Review article titled How the US lost its way on innovation, Ilan Gur tries to explain why we werenít ready to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying:
The world has changed dramatically since World War II, yet the US is largely working off the same science policy playbook. We succeeded in building the most powerful infrastructure for academic research in the world but act as though thatís still the only priority. Meanwhile, our capacity for turning scientific advances into practical solutions has withered. The US spends more on research in human health than agriculture, space, and energy combined, yet we were unprepared for covid-19 — not because we werenít spending enough, but because we werenít spending effectively.

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Wired posted a report The Meme-Fueled Rise of a Dangerous, Far-Right Militia, about a troubling ultra-right movement that has been infiltrating civil rights protests:
The Boogaloo Bois dress in Hawaiian shirts, stitch igloo patches on their clothes and bags, and spend their days slinging pro-gun memes back and forth on Reddit, Discord, and Facebook. They have also been linked to a plot to spark unrest at George Floyd protests in Las Vegas with firebombs, and to the deaths of two law enforcement officers in the Bay Area. Damon Gutzwiller was a Santa Cruz sheriffís deputy, and Dave Patrick Underwood was a federal security officer in Oakland. Authorities allege the same man, an Air Force sergeant, killed both of them. The suspect had a patch featuring an igloo and Hawaiian print stitched to his ballistic vest, and, on the hood of a car he had stolen prior to his arrest, he wrote the word "boog" in his own blood.
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Police body cameras arenít much use for regulating police behavior if the cops and politicians wonít release the video to the public.
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As I post this, yesterday was Juneteenth, the traditional holiday on which Black Americans and their allies celebrate the legal ending of slavery in the US. But as we know, their battle for equal treatment still continues.
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Researchers at two Israeli colleges have revealed a new technique for long-distance eavesdropping they call Lamphone that involves reading vibrations from any light bulbs in a room that are visible from outside!
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Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced H.R.7120, Justice in Policing Act of 2020, "To hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies." As I write this there were 203 co-sponsors.
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Bruce Schneier posted a synopsis of a report about a Bluetooth vulnerability called BIAS that ďallows someone to impersonate a trusted device.Ē
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Mr. Schneier also reports that some websites including eBay and some banks are scanning the Internet Protocol ports of users visiting the site, apparently looking for Virtual Network Computing (VNC) services, used primarily by IT support for the remote sharing of PC systems.
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With 540 Starlink internet satellites in orbit (as of writing this: they keep throwing up 50 or so every few days!), Googleís Starlink low-earth orbit (LEO) internet service is inviting users to apply to become beta testers!
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Microsoft is offering a Money in Excel feature upgrade to Microsoft Excel to enable users to track and manage their spending.

The Office Watch web site posted a detailed tutorial on Money in Excel.
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Wired reports that, as anti-vaccine messages and outright lies multiply on social media, An Army of Volunteers Is Taking On Vaccine Disinformation Online. They discuss an online advocacy effort called Stronger
that "fights against misinformation and for vaccines. We do this by working with partner organizations, sharing correct information, and arming people with ways to fight back."
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Wired posted an interesting story titled We Can Protect the Economy From Pandemics. Why Didn't We?, that describes how a forward-thinking virologist thought up a pandemic insurance plan that could have saved our economy, but nobody wanted it.
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C|Net points out seven ways Android phones are better than iPhones. They forgot an eighth way: Android phones are typically much cheaper than iPhones!
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ZDNet reports that after running the Windows 10 2004 revision, users are experiencing issues with the Chrome and Edge browsers.
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Wired reports about a vulnerability in the network hardware of numerous Internet of Things (IoT) devices from multiple manufacturers, that would allow hackers to break into any network the devices are connected to! It is estimated that there are currently 31 Billion IoT devices online worldwide, with 127 new devices being added every second! So you can see how pervasive this threat is. Some of these devices are flash upgradeable and can be easily "repaired," and some companies have been doing just that. However, some are not, since their code is "hardwired" into the chips and can't be upgraded, and the only solution is to replace the device! Unfortunately, as far as we know right now, few of the companies who make these unrepairable devices are reaching out to customers about the issue.
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Facebook is planning to let users opt out of seeing political ads from candidates or political action committees!
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Microsoft has released the first test build of its Windows 10 20H2 feature update to Insider testers on June 16th. Dubbed a "feature update," itís expected to be a smaller and faster update than the 2020 revision most of us just went through.
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Microsoft and Google are both promoting the use of TypeScript, which is a superset of (i.e. additional syntax added on to) classic JavaScript. According to their Web site:
TypeScript starts from the same syntax and semantics that millions of JavaScript developers know today. Use existing JavaScript code, incorporate popular JavaScript libraries, and call TypeScript code from JavaScript.

TypeScript compiles to clean, simple JavaScript code which runs on any browser, in Node.js, or in any JavaScript engine that supports ECMAScript 3 (or newer).

If youíre used to working with Javascript, youíll understand why the above description is way cool (if not, just trust me. It is!). The code and documentation are available for free on the site I linked to above!
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An article in Teen Vogue titled Over-Policing In Schools Is an Issue Black Students Have Been Fighting for Years, discusses at length the concern about so-called "School Resource Officers," and the resulting School-to-Prison Pipeline:
For years, Black students in particular have been at the vanguard of efforts to stop over-policing and to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline: a term that describes the ways in which predominantly Black students become trapped in the criminal justice system from an early age. In recent years, highly publicized incidents of over-policing against Black students have illustrated the levels of physical aggression, harassment, and discrimination faced by Black students in school hallways every day.

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As I predicted, after fielding complaints from numerous users, Zoom quickly announced plans to offer end-to-end encryption to all users, instead of just those who pay.
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Wired posted an interesting article about Department of Health and Human Services epidemiologist Michael T. Osterholm, who was the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in 2005, and after epidemics of H5N1 avian flu and SARS, made the following prediction:
In an article for the journal Foreign Affairs, Osterholm laid out the problems inadequate preparation would create, if a planet-spanning pandemic got going: It would shut national borders, create shortages of essential goods, collapse major industries, and close theaters, restaurants, and schools. And then he wrote this: "Someday, after the next pandemic has come and gone, a commission much like the 9/11 Commission will be charged with determining how well government, business, and public health leaders prepared the world for the catastrophe when they had clear warning. What will be the verdict?"

Fifteen years on, Osterholmís forecast has proven unnervingly correct.

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Wiredís Nina Jankowicz warns that Facebook Groups Are Destroying America, saying:
For the past several years, Facebook users have been seeing more content from "friends and family" and less from brands and media outlets. As part of the platformís "pivot to privacy" after the 2016 election, groups have been promoted as trusted spaces that create communities around shared interests. "Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends," explained Mark Zuckerberg in a 2019 blog post. "People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they've shared."

But as our research shows, those same features — privacy and community — are often exploited by bad actors, foreign and domestic, to spread false information and conspiracies.

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MIT Technology Review states Of course technology perpetuates racism. It was designed that way, saying:
We often call on technology to help solve problems. But when society defines, frames, and represents people of color as "the problem," those solutions often do more harm than good. Weíve designed facial recognition technologies that target criminal suspects on the basis of skin color. Weíve trained automated risk profiling systems that disproportionately identify Latinx people as illegal immigrants. Weíve devised credit scoring algorithms that disproportionately identify black people as risks and prevent them from buying homes, getting loans, or finding jobs.
There are many more examples in the article.
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ZDNet posted an article titled Robots will take 50 million jobs in the next decade. These are the skills you'll need to stay employed, saying,"human health and social work will see the strongest growth, followed by professional, scientific and technical services, as well as education."
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June 15th, 2020
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Another unarmed black man has been killed by police: Rayshard Brooks who resisted arrest for sleeping in his own car in a Wendyís drive-through, was shot in the back by an Atlanta Police officer while running away! To their credit, the Atlanta Police Chief has resigned, and the officer firing the shot was fired and is pending charges, but it never should have happened in the first place. We (and by "we," I mean every white person in the U.S.!) need to force our communities to change the way police respond to minor complaints — Iím sure that all the Wendyís employee who called the police wanted to have happen was to get Mr. Brooksí car out of the drive-through lane! Once he did, that should have been the end of it! Until we retrain or replace our police officers to protect people first, instances like this will continue. And as in the cases of Mr. Brooks and Mr. Floyd, the officers involved were obviously more interested in making an arrest than protecting the life and health of the arrestee. This must change!
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The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination based on sex extends to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation. Remarkably, the majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices!
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A Salon article titled The red flags that foreshadowed Georgiaís June 9 primary election meltdown were ignored, points out that all the issues that caused the Georgia state primary election to go awry — incorrect, late or lost absentee ballots; closed or relocated county election offices; new voting machines election officials were not trained to operate — were all identified prior to the election, but nothing was done about them by the state's Republican leaders, and the voters were not informed of them prior to the election! Do we really need any more compelling evidence of Republican voter suppression?
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Journalists covering the civil rights protests spurred by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd by police, are being knowingly attacked by police, even after they identify themselves as such, and often while on the air, often as other officers stand aside and do nothing! If this is what some police officers are doing to journalists while knowingly being recorded by TV cameras, you know those same officers must be doing the same worse to protesters off-camera!
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Newsweek posted an article titled Zoom Won't Encrypt Free Calls So Police Can Access User Information and Track 'Misuse', quoted the company's CEO and founder Eric Yuan, saying "Free users, for sure, we don't want to give that [end-to-end encryption]. Because we also want to work it together with FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purpose" (sic). I suspect that after this attitude breakes out online, and the outrage comes, they might have to change their policy!
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Space.com reports that More than 8,500 Air Force personnel volunteered to join the US Space Force, on top of the 16,000 military and civilian members, previously assigned to the former U.S. Air Force Space Command, that were reassigned to the Space Force! Damn! 30 years too late for me!
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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden posted The Biden Plan for an Effective Re-Opening that Jumpstarts the Economy, that includes COVID-19 testing for all workers, paid sick leave for workers who come down with COVID-19, and build a national contract tracing workforce. The plan also includes a "Safe for Shoppers" program, a program to restart small businesses, and rules to safely reopen schools and child care centers.
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After numerous problems came to light about the Paycheck Protection Program — which was supposed to help small businesses recover from COVID-19 shutdowns, but was criticized for loaning money to large corporations, not funding or underfunding businesses owned by persons of color, denying loans to small business owners without a existing relationship with "the right bank," etc., — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has so far refused to disclose who has received the over $600 billion handed out to date.
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In an article titled Microsoft ousts Office 365, crowns Microsoft 365 new monarch, Computerworld suggests the name change confuses MIcrosoft Office users. My thinking is that Microsoft's intent is to expand Office 365 subscriptions to include Windows 10, so they can begin charging Windows 10 users who are not Office 365 users to pay for future revisions to Windows, while including the upgrade as part of the Office 365 subscription. Watch and see!
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IBM has stopped development of facial recognition software over concerns it could be used for racial profiling.

MIT Technology Review posted an interesting, if lengthy, article titled The two-year fight to stop Amazon from selling face recognition to the police, explaining why Amazon decided to place a one-year moratorium on police use of their Rekognition facial recognition software the day after IBMís announcement!
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June 12th, 2020
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Wired reported about Coralie Adam, the lead optical navigation engineer for NASAís first asteroid-sampling spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx . She is monitoring the spacecraft on a laptop from her home office!
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Today is Microsoftís June Patch Tuesday, and this is a big one: the version 2004 update has 129 vulnerability fixes. So watch for when it runs on your PC, and keep both eyes open for "different" behaviors!

With the Windows 10 version 2004 update, Microsoft is pushing out a Windows Feature Experience Pack. But Microsoft isnít talking about it, and not every system upgraded is getting it. For instance, my Windows 10 Professional PC didnít get it. The article I linked to has instructions for how to check your PC and see if it received it.
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DemocracyNow reports that Immigration Agents Target People at Police Brutality Protests, Including a U.S. Citizen Military Vet, saying:
He had just joined a protest of people marching down the street in the Upper West Side. All of a sudden, you know, a black SUV pulled up. Five men jumped out. And they were all plainclothes, some of them — I think three of them — with their guns drawn, one wearing a vest that said "ICE HSI." They threw him on the ground, basically, you know, very forcefully — he hit his head, has a big bruise there — and then started searching him illegally, as you mentioned. They took his phone out of his back pocket, tried to unlock it, but they werenít able to. They went through his wallet, and thatís where they found his ID, as you mentioned. After 10 minutes of arresting him, detaining him, the agents were told by their supervisor to let him go, because they had no grounds to hold him.
To hell with "Defund the Police," letís abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement "snatch and grab" practices!
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With all of us spending more time streaming content while stuck at home, C|Net posted a nice article titled How to download Twitter videos to your phone and computer. Just keep in mind: copyrights apply to videos users post online, so donít try to make money on them. Also a good practice: if you see a video you want others to see, donít send them a copy of the video, rather send them a link to it!
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The U.S. Border patrol was caught spying on the protests in Minneapolis with a Predator B drone!
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Ozy.com posted a powerful video on Youtube called The Time Is Now: Race and Resolution that brings diverse voices, including NAACP President Derrick Johnson, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actress and activist Amanda Seales, Houston police chief Art Acevedo, Managing Director of Black Lives Matter Global Network Kailee Scales, to discuss the state of race relations in this country.
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ZDNet posted an interesting article about Google giving users of the Microsoft Edge browser a hard time every time the connect to the site.
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Google has released Android 11 as a public beta (yeah!) but only for Pixel phones (bummer!).
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The astronauts who flew the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station really like their new spacesuits, which were individually fitted for them, have touch screen-capable gloves, and built-in air connections to the seat!
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Georgiaís recent primary elections were a big mess, with too few polling places and new voting machines the election officials didnít know how to work! This is an actual example of how voters are being disenfranchised.
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted an instructive article titled You Have a First Amendment Right to Record the Police. Good info for protestors to review before you hit the streets!
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In a Vogue article titled White People: Your Comfort Is Not Our Problem, Jenae Holloway rightly points out that real racial change will only come if black people are willing to openly show their true feelings about racism, regardless of how uncomfortable white people around them may become, saying:
Whatís become clear is that racial progress and white comfort cannot exist in tandem. Recent stories by former employees of companies like Refinery29, Reformation, and Condť Nastís Bon Appťtit highlight the extent to which Black women feel silenced in majority-white workplaces, all too aware of the precariousness of their positions if they were to be labeled difficult. More often than not, Black women are given entry into white spaces but not allowed to spread their wings or display their most authentic selves. Itís understood that we should merely feel lucky to have our jobs at all. This is the power and ruin of white supremacy. But now that many are openly protesting, there are signs that we may finally be heard.

As an old white guy, I say "more power to you, sister!" But I would take the conversation one step further: as our Black brothers and sisters open up and share their true feeling, they need their White brothers and sisters standing next to them saying, "Hey! Listen to them!" and let other Whites know it is no longer acceptable to stand by and let racist thoughts and deeds of others stand unchallenged!
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Another commercial (i.e. non-government) space launch company, New Zealand-based Rocket Lab, which specializes in launching small satellites, is scheduled to lift five satellites to orbit tomorrow, June 13th, 2020.
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Twitter banned and removed 32,242 accounts managed by China, Russia, and Turkey, used to spread politically skewed ideas favorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and critical of the Hong Kong democracy movement. Those core accounts were being followed by over 15,000 additional accounts that engaged with them to make them look legitimate.
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June 8th, 2020
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Wired posted an article about the Department of Defence 1033 program that allows the military to donate military equipment, weapons and munitions to local police forces for the cost of shipping!
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President Trump has signed an executive order that would gut Section 203 of the Communications Decency Act, that shields online forums from getting sued for what users upload to the site, by creating an exception for sites that moderate user submissions for other than "good faith". Fortunately, the President does not have the authority to rewrite legislation on his own!
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The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch stage, that successfully landed on a drone ship, was returned to Florida's Port Canaveral. It will be refurbished and used for a future launch.
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Woody Leonhard reported that the Windows 10 version 2004 update, also called the "May 2020 Update", is pushing right now to most PCs. However, some PCs will instead receive a "your device isnít quite ready" message instead, which can potentially mean a version compatible with your hardware isnít quite ready to deploy yet (not enough memory, free drive space, etc.)! The quoted article explains a method to create a bootable USB Windows 10 Install media, manually attempt the install, then read setup log files to figure out why it wonít install. Not for technical neophytes, however! Since my early experience with Windows 10, most install failures were due to either insufficient memory and/or drive space, so here's the way I'd do it:

First I would create a Win10 Version 2004 ISO: Next, verify your PC meets Microsoftís minimum system requirements or better: Even better, use this upgrade as an excuse to rebuild your PC and do a clean install of the latest Windows 10 version. You should do this every few years or so anyway! In either case, before you start, look up and download the latest Windows 10 device drivers for your PCís components, and drop them on a CD or USB drive to have them handy at install time.
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A nice tool to hang on your keychain once you start getting out of your house: the Milspin Brass Covid Key, which you can use for touch-free access for manipulating technologies: elevator buttons, ATM keypads, door locks, etc. Since it is made of brass, itís conductive so it will work good as a touch screen "stylus" as well! Best of all it's made to order by a U.S. small business!
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The Supreme Court has eight cases concerning police having "qualified immunity" from prosecution. Meanwhile, there is a bipartisan bill H.R.7085, To amend the Revised Statutes to remove the defense of qualified immunity in the case of any action under section 1979, and for other purposes, that could permanently solve the problem.
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C|Net reports that a pending Police reform bill would create a national registry on misconduct in the Senate would create a national police misconduct registry that would track misconduct complaints, discipline records and termination records for all police officers nation-wide, so everyone could see who the troubling cops are, and a cop who gets fired for cause in one jurisdiction can't get hired in another!
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Google Docs has emerged as the tool of choice for organizing protest movements. No surprizing, the open source (i.e. free) Microsoft Office clone has become the default software in use in schools throughout the country, so all the students have "grown up" with it.
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June 2nd, 2020
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Itís probably no surprise to you, but media focus on the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced much of the news these last two months to stories driven by the pandemic, which has unfortunately reduced the amount of other news being reported. My only concern is: with Covid-19 dominating journalistsí time, what isnít getting covered by them? Just sayiní . . .
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Wired posted an article titled Inside the NSAís Secret Tool for Mapping Your Social Network that describes how the NSA is using a searchable database containing the metadata of virtually everyoneís phone calls to detect who is talking to who when.
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The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch Android tablet I Ďd been using for almost four years finally started failing: It would suddenly reboot, and often wouldnít turn back on after "sleeping" overnight, without manipulating the power button several times! So it was time to replace it! However, when I started researching a replacement, I realized that all the 8-inch Galaxy Tab A tablets available were last yearís model, and a quick search of Samsungís site revealed that the Wi-Fi-only model didnít have the latest version of the Android OS. So, I broke down and bought a new Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1-inch tablet with 32GB of RAM and Wi-Fi only (I've never wanted to pay for a cell system account I'd only use for data only). The physical size is a bit larger and took a bit of getting used to, but Iíve found that I like the increased screen resolution. It's a keeper so far!
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After a Tuesday countdown stop due to weather, the SpaceX Demo2 mission to launch the first American astronauts from US soil since 2011 took off on Saturday, May 30th instead. The Crew Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station nineteen hours later. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will stay on the station as long as 119 days, then will take the Crew Dragon back down to Earth for rebuild and reuse!
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AskWoody posted an article titled Terabyte update: The hard-drive price advantage, which points out that, even though Solid State Drives (SSDs) have dropped precipitously in price per gigabyte, traditional spinning-platter hard disk drives (HDDs) have also been dropping in price per gigabyte, and at some point the price of both will reach parity or even flip, implying that SSDs will eventually replace HDDs due tio price. But there is an issue that the author doesnít address.

Unlike HDDs, which have a writable surface that usually outlives the mechanical parts of the drive, SSDs are essentially large versions of USB flash drives (essentially: the differences are immaterial to this discussion), and while they have no moving parts to fail, each byte of the drive has a limited number of times it can be overwritten before it fails. That is why the current thinking is to use fast SSDs for the bootable drive containing the OS files that change infrequently, and HDDs for a second "data drive" to hold the data files that change frequently. Although relatively slower than SSDs, HDDs are fast enough that you wonít notice that delay when loading data.
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Speaking of AskWoody: the Plus newsletter this site puts out is the third iteration of a newsletter Iíve been subscribed to continuously since the late 1980ís. It started out as the LangaList, put out by then-Byte magazine editor and frequent Windows Magazine contributor Fred Langa; it was merged with the Windows Secrets Newsletter co-founded by Brian Livingston and Woody Leonhard; and finally, the Windows Secrets Newsletter and Woody Leonhardís AskWoody Newsletter merged into what is now the AskWoody Plus newsletter. A lot of their content is free on their AskWoody Web site, but to get the full Plus newsletter it requires a paid annual subscription. Itís well worth the price.
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The murder of George Foley by a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer that put his body weight on his knee and held it on Mr. Floydís neck for several minutes until he died, pushed the Covid-D pandemic off the top of the news cycle. Since then, after listening to all the talk of outrage and promises to change, I realize Iíve heard the same words back in the 60ís and on, and these events are still happening. [sigh!] Iíll let others color in this issue from their point of view, but I will say this: although Iím a old white guy, I have two grandsons and a granddaughter who are black, and I share the fear of all black mothers and fathers out there that feel for their black family members when they walk out the door! It's time for a major political realignment in this country that makes police killing of anyone who is unarmed a prosecutable offense!
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May 31st, 2020
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An interesting Wired article titled How North Korean Hackers Rob Banks Around the World describes how North Korea is using theft of US currency to keep itself funded.
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Long time computer user advocate Woody Leonhard has recommended installing Microsoft updates manually after others have tried them and report no issues. This is a good strategy in a business environment, but in a home like mine with five Windows 10 PCs to keep running (not to mention a mesh network so they can all see the Internet!), manual installs is way to much work to manage. Instead I have one PC (A basic shared system much of the family uses when they need a big screen and full printing capability) which I leave on automatic updates and check after each Update Tuesday. If it doesnít crash, and if Woody et al donít report any issues, I update the rest.
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What with family challenges and COVID-19 quarantining (Iím definitely in the "high risk" category, which my family members remind me of each time I try to go out the door!), Iíve been so busy Iíve gotten way behind in updating this site, and so havenít mentioned that my favorite tech news e-mail newsletter Windows Secrets was folded into Woody Leonhardís Ask Woody newsletter and is now called AskWoody Plus. Fortunately it honored the life membership I purchased for Windows Secrets back in the day, and is now fortunately even better than before!
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Since it was offered free to Amazon Plus subscribers, I activated a annual subscription to the Disney + video streaming service. My grandson lives on Disney Jr., and between Marvel and Star Wars content for me and National Geographic for my son, it is being well used.
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Being long-time Star Trek fan (I'm old enough to have seen the original Star Trek TV show in first run!), I also signed up for CBS All Access which offered the first month free. Besides new Trek shows Picard and Discovery, there are some older CBS shows I came into late Iíd like to start from the beginning. Hint though: pay for the $9.99 per month version. The ads I the $5.99 version get old quick.
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NASA is prepping a helicopter to operate on Mars. The challenge will be to create blades that operate in the thin atmosphere.
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Microsoft is rebranding its Office 365 as Microsoft 365. The multi-license Office 365 Home becomes Microsoft 365 Family, and Office 365 Personal becomes Microsoft 365 Personal. Both versions will roll Windows 10 support into the products, so expect to start paying for Windows upgrades if you arent a Microsoft 365 subscriber!.
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May 2nd, 2020
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Physicist Freeman Dyson died on February 28th at 96. He is best known in Science Fiction circles for his theoretical concept of a creatng a sphere totally surrounding a star to capture almost all of its energy, which was called a Dyson Sphere. Dysonís work spawned works such science fiction work as Larry Nivenís Ringworld.
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Support for Office 2010 will end on October 13th, 2020. This means that all the Office 2010 programs will still work, but no more security updates or bug fixes will be released, which will make it increasingly vulnerable to hacks as time goes by.
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SpaceX plans to launch 70 missions a year in 2023 from sites at the Kennedy Space Center and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, using Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
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Slate posted an article titled There Is Shockingly Little Oversight of Private Companies That Create Voting Technologies, warning, "While voting systems face some functional requirements through voluntary submission to federal testing and certification, vendors themselves are largely free from oversight. That leaves the public — and election officials — in the dark about key information." Iím a big fan of Vote by Mail (PDF) as implemented here in Oregon. You canít hack paper!
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An article posted on Gizmodo titled Libraries Could Preserve Ebooks Forever, But Greedy Publishers Wonít Let Them explains:
. . . why can only one person borrow one copy of an ebook at a time [from the library]? Why are the waits so damn interminable? Well, it might not surprise you at all to learn that ebook lending is controversial in certain circles: circles of people who like to make money selling ebooks. Publishers impose rules on libraries that limit how many people can check out an ebook, and for how long a library can even offer that ebook on its shelves, because free, easily available ebooks could potentially damage their bottom lines. Libraries are handcuffed by two-year ebook licenses that cost way more than you and I pay to own an ebook outright forever.

Note that this limitation is contractual: the publishers only allow libraries to purchase ebooks under these restricted conditions. Unfortunately, no one is willing to enforce First Sale doctrine on publishers, which, "provides that an individual who knowingly purchases a copy of a copyrighted work from the copyright holder receives the right to sell, display or otherwise dispose of that particular copy, notwithstanding the interests of the copyright owner." This law is what made video rentals legal, and should make lending of epubs equally legal without restriction. So this isn't about the law, it's about unlawful restrictions imposed by technology!
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NASA has named the next Mars Rover "Perseverance".
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Elon Muskís commercial space flight company SpaceX launched its 20th Dragon cargo ship under contract with NASA, delivering supplies to the International Space Station.
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says the EARN IT Act (S. 3398) introduced in early March, "would be a disaster for Internet usersí free speech and security," and noted:
Although the bill doesnít use the word ďencryptionĒ in its text, it gives government officials like Attorney General William Barr the power to compel online service providers to break encryption or be exposed to potentially crushing legal liability.

The bill also violates the Constitutionís protections for free speech and privacy. As Congress considers the EARN IT Actówhich would require online platforms to comply with to-be-determined ďbest practicesĒ in order to preserve certain protections from criminal and civil liability for user-generated content under Section 230 (47 U.S.C. ß 230)óitís important to highlight the billís First and Fourth Amendment problems.

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The Right to Repair has been a battle between manufacturers — who look at repair as a second profit channel, and therefore want to restrict the right to repair to themselves exclusively — and consumers, particularly hardware hackers who think they should be able to repair and modify the devices they have purchased. Because of news articles on the subject, most people think of electronics, particularly smart phones, as devices manufacturers wonít let their owners repair or upgrade. But virtually all technology, including automobiles and farm equipment, has examples of such bad corporate behavior. 31 of the 50 states have passed consumer-friendly laws allowing the right to repair (my state of Oregon is one!). The site linked to above lists them. If your state isnít one of them, get smart on this subject and start lobbying yours!
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Computer security expert Bruce Schneier passed on a research report titled The Ballot is Busted Before the Blockchain: A Security Analysis of Voatz, the First Internet Voting Application Used in U.S.Federal Elections (PDF), that revealed serious security flaws in the voting app, saying:
We find that Voatz has vulnerabilities that allow different kinds of adversaries to alter, stop, or expose a user's vote,including a sidechannel attack in which a completely passive network adversary can potentially recover a user's secret ballot. We additionally find that Voatz has a number of privacy issues stemming from their use of third party services for crucial app functionality. Our findings serve as a concrete illustration of the common wisdom against Internet voting,and of the importance of transparency to the legitimacy of elections.

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Bruce Schneier also posted an article on his blog titled Policy vs. Technology that tries to explain the differences between legislating policy and creating technology, saying:
Policy is how society mediates how individuals interact with society. Technology has the potential to change how individuals interact with society. The conflict between these two causes considerable friction, as technologists want policy makers to get out of the way and not stifle innovation, and policy makers want technologists to stop moving fast and breaking so many things.

Finally, techies know that code is law — that the restrictions and limitations of a technology are more fundamental than any human-created legal anything. Policy makers know that law is law, and tech is just tech. We can see this in the tension between applying existing law to new technologies and creating new law specifically for those new technologies.

Please read the entire article, and you will quickly realize that these are two, diametrically opposed positions.
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DNS over HTTPS or DoH is an important but basically unknown feature that gives Domain Name System (DNS) address requests the same protection that HTTPS gives to the web pages themselves, by encrypting the communications between your computer and the DNS system. This makes it much harder for hackers to redirect your connection request to a bad web site, or see where you are going! Fortunately for us users, Firefox plans to enable DNS-over-HTTPS by default to US users, which will likely spur other browsers to follow suit to be competitive!
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April 28th, 2020
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Here we go again: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and others have introduced S.3398, Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act of 2020, which according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (Eff) is a " major threat to your freedom of speech and security online," saying:
The EARN IT Act would create a "National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention" tasked with developing "best practices" for owners of Internet platforms to "prevent, reduce, and respond" to child exploitation. But far from mere recommendations, those "best practices" would be approved by Congress as legal requirements: if a platform failed to adhere to them, it would lose essential legal protections for free speech.

It's easy to predict how Attorney General William Barr would use that power: to break encryption. He's said over and over that he thinks the "best practice" is to force encrypted messaging systems to give law enforcement access to our private conversations. The Graham-Blumenthal bill would finally give Barr the power to demand that tech companies obey him or face serious repercussions, including both civil and criminal liability. Such a demand would put encryption providers like WhatsApp and Signal in an awful conundrum: either face the possibility of losing everything in a single lawsuit or knowingly undermine their users' security, making all of us more vulnerable to online criminals.

The EFF has posted an online petition, urging users to ask Congress "Donít kill online encryption! Reject the dangerous EARN IT Act." Visit it and add your name!
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Space.com posted an article titled 11 ideas that went from science fiction to reality. There is a hallowed tradition of children who grew up as Sci-Fi fans becoming techies, scientists, etc., as adults.
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The merger of wireless providers Sprint and T-Mobile was completed, despite the complaints of attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia that the merger would harm consumers by driving up prices for wireless services and reducing innovation. The combined company will operate under the name of T-Mobile.
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With social distancing the imperative these days, Zoom has become the "go to" tool for staying connected. But as Brian Krebs reports, unless a session is password protected, it can be "Zoom bombed" where someone who doesn't belong can join the meeting.
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Rumors abound in social media and fringe web sites the wrongly claim that 5G wireless caused the coronavirus pandemic! It ainít possible folks: you canít spread a disease through radio waves!

The fact is, the outbreak of the coronavirus can be traced to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, which is actually a market selling numerous live and freshly slaughtered animals for consumption, including numerous wild species.
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One thing that has come out of the coronavirus pandemic: itís expected that handshakes are a thing of past. Even the millennial "fist bump" is considered too perilous! The best alternative Iíve heard of so far is the "Vulcan salute" popularized by Leonard Nimoy on Star Trek! The accompanying blessing "Live Long and Prosper!" can be optional. Note that I can perform this salute with my left hand only.
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Wired reports that, with everyone "sheltering in place" at home, so many people have adopted shelter animals that shelters have emptied out all over the country!

More pandemic humor: Wired posted an article titled How to Not Completely Hate the People Youíre Quarantined With! The piece is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but does have good ideas. The way that works here: our three-floor house is big enough that everyone has their own private space, so we can always retreat to our places if things get to crazy — except for the four-year-old grandson who intrudes anywhere he pleases any time he wants too!
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C|NET posted an interesting article titled Turn your old phone into a home security camera for free. Sounds like a fun stuck-at-home project!
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A team at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have figured out how to grow silicon alloy nanowires that emit light. This will allow the interconnection of components in integrated circuits at the speed of light!
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Bruce Schneier reported that ultrasonic waves can be used to hack voice assistants, like Siri and Google Echo.
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A federal court has ruled that violating a website's terms of service is not hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
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The AskWoody newsletter includes an article from Fred Langa about a PC issue with Windows 10 hanging up because of numerous event files. The case noted was caused by a failing drive array, but I had a similar problem when a hard drive started failing intermittently: the PC would freeze momentarily then go back to working fine again. If I wasnít a long-time PC support guy, I would not have thought to check the Windows event logs to find out what was wrong, which revealed hardware failures that told me the hard drive was on its last legs! Anyone serious about keeping their own PC running should learn how to find and read the event logs.
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Wired suggests that those with sore wrists should consider getting an inexpensive gaming mouse. They have a finer resolution that keeps you from moving your wrist as much. Besides which most of them look really cool!

Here's another option: In the 1980's when I was doing CAD work all day and my arm became fatigued. I switched over to a Logitech Trackman trackball mouse. The hand rests on the mouse without moving and the ball is moved with the thumb. I've been using one ever since. I'm in my late 60's and have arthritis, but the Trackman is still comfortable to use with as much resolution as I need.
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Wired posted an article titled When Government Fails, Makers Come to the Rescue. This article is as much a condemnation of a federal government unprepared to handle a pandemic that everyone in the medical and scientific communities had been warning about since the early 2000s, as it is about 3D printer users stepping in and making face masks and shields for medical workers.
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The FCC opened up 1,200MHz of bandwidth in the 6GHz band, more twice the bandwidth used for the 5GHz band. Expect hardware to follow shortly!
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Fred Langa posted an interesting article titled A weird "Known Folders/Event 1002" error, and after a lengthy description of troubleshooting, revealed that the eventual fix was to execute a full reinstall of Windows! I wouldnít have waited that long. Itís been my experience that when Windows identities start fouling up itís time to cut your losses and rebuiled the OS. And since I have Windows 10 on a boot USB drive, itís pretty easy to do.
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June 8th, 2020
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Wired posted an article about the Department of Defence 1033 program that allows the military to donate military equipment, weapons and munitions to local police forces for the cost of shipping! This program has been blamed for the excessive militarization of police forces throught the country
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President Trump has signed an executive order that would gut Section 203 of the Communications Decency Act, that shields online forums from getting sued for what users upload to the site, by creating an exception for sites that moderate user submissions for other than "good faith". Section 203 is the key part of the law that keeps online services from being prosceuted or sued for what users of the service upoad or post themselves. The idea of "good faith" is way to vague a concept: who decides? No thank you!
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The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch stage, that successfully landed on a drone ship, was returned to Florida's Port Canaveral. It will be refurbished and used for a future launch.
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Woody Leonhard reported that the Windows 10 version 2004 update is pushing right now to most PCs. Also be in called the "May 2020 Update", However, some PCs will instead receive a "your device isnít quite ready" message instead, which can potentially mean a version compatible with your hardware isnít quite ready to deploy yet, your PC doesnít have enough free drive space, etc.! The quoted article explains a method to manually attempt the install from USB media and read log files to figure out why it wonít install. Not for technical neophytes, however. Since my early experience with Windows 10, most install failures were due to either insufficient memory and/or drive space.

First I would create a Win10 Version 2004 ISO:
Next, verify your PC meets Microsoftís minimum system requirements or better:


  • Max out your RAM to the most the PC will support.

  • Install a new 256GB or larger Solid State Drive (SSD), and set it up as the C: boot drive.

  • Designate the existing hard drive as your data or D: drive.

  • Reinstall your apps. Hint: only the ones you are still using, and download and install the latest versions of freeware and open source apps, and apps you have purchased!


  • In either case, before you start, look up and download the latest Windows 10 device drivers for your PCís components, and drop them on a CD or USB drive to have them handy at install time.
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    A nice tool to hang on your keychain once you start getting out of your house: the Milspin Brass Covid Key, which you can use for touch-free access for manipulate technologies: elevator buttons, ATM keypads, door locks, etc. Since it is made of brass, itís conductive so it will work good as a touch screen "stylus" as well!
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    The Supreme Court has eight cases concerning police having "qualified immunity"from prosecution. Meanwhile, there is a bipartisan bill H.R.7085, To amend the Revised Statutes to remove the defense of qualified immunity in the case of any action under section 1979, and for other purposes, that could permanently solve the problem.
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    C|Net reports that a pending Senate bill Police reform bill would create a national registry on misconduct would create a national police misconduct registry that would track misconduct complaints, discipline records and termination records, so everyone could see who the troubling cops are.
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    Google Docs has emerged as the tool of choice for organizing protest movements. The open source (i.e. free) Microsoft Office clone has become the default software in use in schools throughout the country, so all the students have "grown up" with it.
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