Cats Outta the Bag!?!! Pussy Riot, the feminist punk band jailed in Russia for demonstrating in a cathedral, could be freed in an amnesty deal, Reuters reports.
The Hole Story Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times has more detail on the tribulations of Bertha, the Highway 99 tunneling machine, which is stuck under downtown due to a mysterious obstruction. It may be steel. Officials could send in divers—yes, divers, like Jacques Cousteau—who they keep on hand to work in the highly pressurized gap between the cutter blades and the blockage. The tunnel is now two months behind schedule—due to a labor dispute, difficult conditions, mechanical failure, and now this... thing in the way. Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the company contracted to build the tunnel, refuses to speak.
City Attorney's Office Wastes More Than $200,000: The City of Seattle has paid out a $235,000 settlement to a man who was wrongly denied police records. An off-duty officer pulled a gun on the man in 2009 and the city, with its head planted so far up its ass that it could lick its own intestines, fought to keep the records sealed. To be clear: Withholding police records from a victim—a problem the SPD has had with dash-cam footage and other records—is nearly always untenable and defending the practice is immoral. Seattle should have settled this long ago for about $20,000 and saved taxpayers a shitload of cash. While the incident occurred under former city attorney Tom Carr, the decision to defend the city's obstruction apparently continued under the current city attorney, Pete Holmes.
Stabbed in the Nuts, Allegedly: A Central District barber became upset after a customer asked him to quit joking around, according to a Seattle police report, and reacted in the most natural way possible: stabbing his customer in the testicles with his shears, ripping the man's pants. The barber then allegedly followed the man out of the barber shop and punched him in the face.
Weed Rather You Did: Denver City Council votes to allow smoking pot on front porches.
Rent Actually Too Damn High: The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University finds that more half of Americans pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
How Right-Wing Propaganda Affects the Stupid: Man who viciously beat a Sikh cab driver, mistaking him to be a Muslim taking all our jobs (not that his excuse matters a nanofuck), has been convicted and will be sentenced to federal prison for his hate crime. He's asking for leniency.
Because the Gun Lobby Is Evil: This chart shows how they ramped up spending to lobby for less gun control immediately after a nutcase with guns—cheap, easy to obtain, and poorly regulated—murdered 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year:
$ spent on gun policy lobbying has skyrocketed in the year since #SandyHook: http://t.co/BCf8o7XuTo @SunFoundation pic.twitter.com/d2intLwxQ5
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) December 9, 2013
Even USA Today, the go-to news source for people flying coach and staying in modest hotels—in other words, not what you'd normally consider a daring and radical news source that would go out on a limb—is getting interested in how local police departments engage in cell phone surveillance. See today's story "Cellphone Data Spying: It's Not Just the NSA."
Also: Last month, after this story about the Seattle Police Department's new wireless mesh network (purchased with grant money from the Department of Homeland Security) came out, the SPD announced it would disable the network until there had been "an opportunity for vigorous public debate."
Presumably, that debate would include information about what the network can and cannot do (can it, for example, log the locations of cell phones in real time and log that information indefinitely without asking a judge for a warrant?) and how it should and should not be used by local or federal law enforcement.
Today, an SPD spokesperson said the department had turned off the final nodes in the network on Friday—156 could be disabled remotely, which happened weeks ago (though 19 had to be double-checked in person), but 8 had to be deactivated manually by a technician. Those are now off.
Today, I also received a copy of a letter sent from SPD Chief Jim Pugel to city councilperson Bruce Harrell about the mesh network. The full text is below the jump, but the relevant points are: (a) the department says the technology needs "more vetting with the ACLU and other stakeholders before a public hearing" and (b) Chief Pugel's assertion that the network does not have the capability to track or record a person's movements, but that SPD's draft policies about its use "will cover any non-video technology" anyway.
The department, Pugel says, should be ready for a briefing with the council member earlier next year.
Twitter was atwitter yesterday, about a big story expected in today's The New York Times. It has five parts; I've only read one so far, and it's well worth your time.
It's a story about Dasani. She's a talented 11-year-old whose parents can't afford rent in New York, the most economically unequal city in the country with the second-highest child poverty rate in the developed world (only Romania neglects more kids than we do).
Dasani and her family dream of moving up in the world into the projects. In part one of reporter Andrea Elliott's story, Dasani starts school at LaGuardia Arts. Almost all the students there are on free or reduced lunch, but they mostly live in the projects. It isn't long before Dasani is exposed to her fellow students as stuck living in a shelter. Six of the middle school's 157 students live in shelters.
At the bottom of part one, you can watch short videos of Dasani dancing and being interviewed by her mother. You can also read the source notes behind Elliott's story, which have been separated in order to keep the main narrative moving—it's not gummed up by "according to"s and statistics, but the notes reveal tremendous amounts of research behind Elliott's descriptions of the conditions and the stories she shares.
To follow talk about the story on Twitter, it's under #InvisibleChild. Interesting questions are arising already.
This is a New York Times story, but it's not a New York-only story.
I would really love it if in honor of all the kids in need of some help, you'd join me in making a donation to Slog's Charity Challenge this year, which we've tried to make fun by including Pearl Jam and Macklemore and whatnot, but which really is a way to keep kids like Dasani hooked up with the most basic needs through YouthCare's Orion Center at Denny and Stewart.
Snowden: A hero in America, and now in Azeroth, Edward Snowden has disclosed a new trove of documents showing the NSA has been spying on players using World of Warcraft and Second Life. "Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels," reports ProPublica.
Snow Den? "A search is on in the mountains of rural northwestern Nevada for a couple and four children who went to play in the snow Sunday and haven't returned."
Snow Then? Maybe around Seattle this evening.
When Not Complicit, Outraged: AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo tells federal government to cut back on snooping.
Is This Literally Buying an Election? A hand recount, requested by the losing side, of course, will begin today on SeaTac's $15 minimum wage measure that voters passed by a 73-vote margin. Here's background on King County Elections' recount process, which explains the cost is $0.25 for each of the 6,003 ballot cast.
Blow Hard, Says the Seattle City Council: They're considering bill that would protect whistle-blowers in city government, in part by handing the cases over to the city's ethics commission.
To Be an Undercover Agent: Officers consider a busting a "snuggle-parlor":
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin's ultra-liberal capital city is a place where just about anything goes, from street parties to naked bike rides. But city officials say a business is pushing even Madison's boundaries by offering, of all things, hugs.
For $60, customers at the Snuggle House can spend an hour hugging, cuddling and spooning with professional snugglers.
Snugglers contend touching helps relieve stress. But Madison officials suspect the business is a front for prostitution and, if it's not, fear snuggling could lead to sexual assault. Not buying the message that the business is all warm and fuzzy, police have talked openly about conducting a sting operation at the business, and city attorneys are drafting a new ordinance to regulate snuggling.
A new ordinance to regulate snuggling!
Brrr: Seattle police are driving around with a van picking up cold homeless people and bringing them to shelters.
Eww: Cops are still monsters, says Gawker.
Jobs: The latest jobs numbers are in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics! To summarize: Older workers are doing ok, the death of manufacturing has been exaggerated, pay hasn't budged for restaurant and hotel workers, and there are still millions of long-term unemployed folks.
Blech: Oh JP Morgan, does your villainy know no bounds? (It appears the answer is yes, as this story is about corruption in China.)
Hah: Morale is down at the National Security Agency.
Boo: The FBI, by installing malware on someone's machine, can "covertly activate a computer’s camera—without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording."
Wow: Some Syrian refugees fleeing war are settling—of all places—in Gaza.
Apartheid: The Israeli military allegedly shot and killed a boy named Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi in Ramallah and attacked a Palestinian commemoration of Nelson Mandela yesterday.
Filmmaker Jesse Freeston offers a disturbing and comprehensive look at last week's elections in Honduras and argues they're just another piece of the country's unfolding and internationally-backed coupism:
Pot Party Celebrating Legalization Goes Down: Check out the dude jammin' in the bright pink pants when they cut to the live reporter.
Liberalism: 1) Bill Clinton pressured South Africa under Mandela to "adopt trade policies that benefited U.S. corporations while restricting South African access to drugs treating HIV and AIDS," and 2) NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio ran against stop-and-frisk but looks set to continue it.
Feckless: The SEC isn't including a proposal to force companies to disclose political contributions to shareholders on its regulatory agenda. Thanks, SEC!
Meth House: College students renting a home in Bellingham started feeling "dizzy and lethargic" before they realized something was amiss.
Petty Republicans Scupper State Climate Change Panel: "No, no, no. You started this fight," insisted Rep. Shelly Short when Governor Jay Inslee expressed his disappointment at the panel's lack of progress.
HD 106906: Shouldn't exist.
The Van Damme stunt in Gaza, minus the corporate messaging:
Mandela: The day after he left the earth, he is suddenly everywhere. Even the Chinese government and its opponents are arguing over whose shoes are a better fit for his footsteps: "President Xi Jinping, who supported opponents of apartheid throughout the cold war, praised Mandela's victory in the struggle and his contribution to 'the cause of human progress' ... 'This moment magnifies how evil the current regime is,' Hu Jia, an activist said."
"An ideal for which I am prepared to die": From Mandela's famous speech during his trial for sabotage in 1964 that begins with a description of his education (bachelor of arts degree), his profession (law), and his crimes (leaving the country without a permit, inciting people to strike, sabotage) and ends with: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Icy Reception: "Castear says he experienced what immigrant rights groups say is a common practice—detaining immigrants in frigid cells to pressure them to agree to deportation. Among immigrants, the cells are pejoratively called hieleras—Spanish for iceboxes."
US Unemployment at a Five-Year Low: "Unemployment in the US fell to 7% in November, its lowest level in five years , as employers took on 203,000 new people. The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may have been bolstered by the return of hundreds of thousands of federal employees following October’s government shutdown but they still represent the fourth straight month of good growth in the jobs market."
A rattlesnake the size of a jumbo jet: "Boeing says factories for its planned 777X will require total investment of up to $10 billion, but states competing for the work are asked to shrink that tab by providing the site and facilities at 'no cost, or very low cost.' In confidential documents sent to the 15 states vying for the project, Boeing estimates it will produce 8,500 direct jobs."
Another cautionary tale about deregulation and the "free" market: "When California's telephone market was deregulated in 2006, consumers were told that increased competition would improve service and reduce prices. It hasn't worked out like that." Prices have increased by 260 percent and some services, such as available minutes, have fallen by a quarter.
Yemeni Journalist (accused of terrorism by the US) wins major human-rights award: "Shaye came to prominence when he personally picked through fragments from one such [drone] strike, in Majala, establishing that US missiles – not the Yemeni military – had been responsible for the deaths of 41 people, 21 of them reportedly children and another 14 women."
Thai government sells refugees from Myanmar to human traffickers: "As thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar to escape religious persecution, a Reuters investigation in three countries has uncovered a clandestine policy to remove Rohingya refugees from Thailand's immigration detention centers and deliver them to human traffickers waiting at sea."
Etymology of the day: "Freedom" has its roots in Old English for "noble" and "joyful." "The primary sense seems to have been 'beloved, friend, to love;' which in some languages (notably Germanic and Celtic) developed also a sense of 'free,' perhaps from the terms 'beloved' or 'friend' being applied to the free members of one's clan (as opposed to slaves, cf. Latin liberi, meaning both 'free' and 'children')."
And finally, the weather: "We are now experiencing our coldest weather since January, with temperatures falling below zero in 'favored' spots of eastern Washington and Oregon. Snow is coming to the Northwest during the next two days, but unfortunately will miss most of Washington."
President Obama just gave a statement to acknowledge the passing of Nelson Mandela. Obama said his very first political act was a protest against apartheid, and that he's always taken inspiration from Mandela. Here's video:
There will be a number of tributes paid to Mandela over the next few weeks. Here's one of the first—the cover of the next issue of The New Yorker:
New Yorker's beautiful Mandela cover image is by legendary artist @KadirNelson (also created Drake's album cover) pic.twitter.com/1kg5ja4hOo
— Kia Makarechi (@Kia_Mak) December 5, 2013
In this week's Last Days, Dave Schmader writes about the disturbing 2013 trend of Americans needing help and other Americans responding by shooting them, killing the (literally) helpless. He wraps up one item, about a confused 74-year old getting shot by a skittish 34 year-old in Georgia, with the astute observation: "Let us simply note how nobody fears for his life like the holder of a loaded gun. Funny how that works."
It is funny—the people who hold the power in any given situation tend to be the ones who behave the most fearfully. That seems especially true of governments these days. The harder they pry at our lives, trying to make us completely transparent, the harder they work to make themselves opaque. Call it the law of inverse transparency: We should know increasingly more about you, but you should know increasingly less about us. For democracy's sake.
You can pick surveillance stories almost at random these days and see the contradiction at work.
Example one: The military has just announced it will no longer inform the public of the number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay which, as the Washington Post puts it, "had long been an unofficial barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost in Cuba."
Meanwhile, the Post also reports that the NSA is collecting massive amounts of cell-phone location data "on a planetary scale," with billions of records gathered every day. According to the Post, the NSA says it collects the records "incidentally," a legal positioning that "connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result." Specifically, it's looking for relationships between people by analyzing patterns of how cell phones move.
CO-TRAVELER and related tools require the methodical collection and storage of location data on what amounts to a planetary scale. The government is tracking people from afar into confidential business meetings or personal visits to medical facilities, hotel rooms, private homes and other traditionally protected spaces.
“One of the key components of location data, and why it’s so sensitive, is that the laws of physics don’t let you keep it private,” said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. People who value their privacy can encrypt their e-mails and disguise their online identities, but “the only way to hide your location is to disconnect from our modern communication system and live in a cave.”
The New York Times has a seriously upsetting piece on the American AIDS epidemic, which, as Donald G. McNeil Jr. writes, " is rapidly becoming concentrated among poor, young black and Hispanic men who have sex with men":
Nationally, 25 percent of new infections are in black and Hispanic men, and in New York City it is 45 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the city’s health department.
Nationally, when only men under 25 infected through gay sex are counted, 80 percent are black or Hispanic — even though they engage in less high-risk behavior than their white peers.
According to a major C.D.C.-led study, a male-male sex act for a young black American is eight times as likely to end in H.I.V. infection as it is for his white peers.
That is true even though, on average, black youths in the study took fewer risks than their white peers: they had fewer partners, engaged in fewer acts of sex while drunk or high, and used condoms more often.
They had other risk factors. Lacking health insurance, they were less likely to have seen doctors regularly and more likely to have syphilis, which creates a path for H.I.V.
But the crucial factor was that more of their partners were older black men, who are much more likely to have untreated H.I.V. than older white men.
Read the whole thing here.
Activists Who Got $15 Minimum Wage Passed in SeaTac are Marching from SeaTac to Seattle Today: That's a long march. "It's going to be all day long in the tradition of marches for social justice struggles. We'll be landing at Seattle City Hall at 4:30pm," organizer Sage Wilson told KIRO. Kshama Sawant says she looks forward to working with city council colleagues to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and "if corporate resistance results in the ordinance getting watered down or not passing in 2014, then we will need to place an initiative on the 2014 ballot. Seattle’s average rent rose faster than any other city in the country last year. Workers simply can’t afford to wait any longer." If you can't be there in person, you can follow along with today's march here or on twitter: #onthemarch.
President Obama Is Right There with Them: "It's well past time to raise the minimum wage," he said in a speech you should watch. "The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income — it now takes half. Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more."
Workers in Cities Around the Country Are Marching and Protesting Today, Too: "Workers and their supporters are expected to strike at the nation's major national fast-food restaurants" today, Al Jazeera America reports, including in cities that hadn't previously joined the protest yet. The restaurants they are walking out of include McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC.
(Pssst—By the Way, the Economy Is Doing Better Than They Said It Was) "The economy expanded much faster than first thought in the third quarter, as the government on Thursday revised its estimate of growth in the period to a 3.6 percent annual rate from 2.8 percent," New York Times reports.
City Council Needs to Change This Police Chief Rule Now: Before the search for a new police chief gets underway, they need to change the rule that says "a new police chief hired from outside SPD can't bring any command staff with him or her," because that's nuts. As Anna pointed out yesterday on Slog, "It's attractive for chiefs considering a move to be allowed to bring along someone they know and trust to be part of a new command staff in a new city" and "it's odd to ask someone to come in to help reform a department... and then say, oh, yeah, you have to hire your entire six-person command staff from our troubled department." Tim Burgess says this rule has "stopped us form getting the kinds of candidates we want."
Washington State Woman Woman Unknowingly Live-Tweets Her Husband's Fatal Car Accident: She was tweeting about emergency responders on their way to a two-car collision in Vancouver, Wash., before she realized who was in one of those cars.
Port Orchard Bartender Gets $5,000 Tip: "He said he had made a lot of money and was finding ways of distributing it."
Costco Labels Memoir by Fictional Anchorman Ron Burgundy "Non-Fiction" I was totally with them when they labeled the Bible "fiction," but this is pushing it.
The Stranger's Office Mouse: Early returns were trending toward McGinn, but we all know about early returns. The populace has spoken, and the mouse has been named Megan Seling.
Slouching Towards 80: Joan Didion, who redefined narrative nonfiction with some of the most distinctive reporting in the American canon, is 79 today. If you've never read the title essay in The White Album, they have a website for that. If you've read that but never read this or this or this, get on it. Here's a video of Tom Brokaw interviewing Didion in the 1970s, when she was living in California. He calls her writing style "spare and occasionally sinister," and she says, "It's the only aggressive act I have."
I Just Pulled Slouching Towards Bethlehem Off a Shelf and Opened at Random: And because I am a nerd I am going to type it out the paragraph I opened to—the last paragraph of the introduction.
I am not sure what more I could tell you about these pieces. I could tell you that I liked some of them more than others, but that all of them were hard for me to do, and took more time than perhaps they were worth; that there is always a point in the writing of a piece when I sit in a room literally papered with false starts and cannot put one word after another and imagine that I have suffered a small stroke, leaving me apparently undamaged but actually aphasic. I was in fact as sick as I have ever been when I was writing "Slouching Towards Bethlehem"; the pain kept me awake at night and so for twenty and twenty-one hours a day I drank gin-and-hot-water to blunt the pain and took Dexedrine to blunt the gin and wrote the piece. (I would like you to believe that I kept working out of some real professionalism, to meet the deadline, but that would not be entirely true; I did have a deadline, but it was also a troubled time, and working did to the trouble what gin did to the pain.) What else is there to tell? I am bad at interviewing people. I avoid situations in which I have to talk to anyone's press agent. (This precludes doing pieces on most actors, a bonus in itself.) I do not like to make telephone calls, and would not like to count the mornings I have sat on some Best Western motel bed somewhere and tried to force myself to put through the call to the assistant district attorney. My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.
Joan Didion, everyone. May she live forever.
Here's a first sentence that sounds deceptively boring: Earlier this week, the city council announced the agenda for this afternoon's meeting of the public safety committee.
One item in particular jumped out:
4. C.B. 117996 (PDF Version)
Relating to security from terrorism; authorizing the City to partner with the State of Washington and King County to receive financial assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness under the Urban Areas Secuirty Initiative Grant for Federal Fiscal Year 2012; authorizing an application for allocation of funds under that agreement; amending the 2013 Adopted Budget Ordinance 124058 by increasing appropriations to the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Fire Department and accepting revenues; and, ratifying and confirming prior acts, all by a three-fourths vote of the City Council.
BRIEFING, DISCUSSION, AND POSSIBLE VOTE (10 minutes)
Presenters: Captain Ron Leavell, Lt. Mark Mount, and Chris Steel, SPD
Hm. The council's public safety committee breezing through a 10-minute review of what the SPD might do with money from the Department of Homeland Security? Sound familiar?
It's how Seattle got its surveillance surprises over the past year: the drones, waterfront cameras, and mesh network that the SPD quietly bought and installed without going out of their way to share the details with the rest of us. (To be fair, the council didn't exactly go out of their way to dig up any.)
And it's why the SPD has had to go on mea culpa tours of community meetings to explain to baffled (and sometimes hostile) crowds what these things were, how we got them, and whether we need them.
That pattern didn't work out so well: the drones have been grounded, the cameras are supposedly off (or at least not being actively used), and the mesh network has been disabled.
So what DHS-funded projects were on today's agenda?
Some of them look innocuous enough—training for first responders, safeguards against catastrophe in the event of "structural collapse," and improving ways to warn "vulnerable populations" about emergencies.
But project number nine on the list raises some questions—it funds facial-recognition technology that would allow the SPD to cross-check photos of unknown "suspects" with a large database. Which could be fine, if used properly.
But why repeat the mistakes of the past by rubber-stamping another DHS-funded technology that might have some surveillance implications that we should think about first?
A Richfield woman fatally stabbed her husband in the heart for "wanting to bring another woman into their bedroom," according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday. Amreya Rahmeto Shefa, 40, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder in the Sunday slaying of her husband, Habibi Tesema, 48.
The couple has two small children.
After a Shipwreck, He Was Trapped in an Air Bubble 100 Feet Underwater for Three Days: "Being buried alive is usually near the top of any worst-ways-to-die list. But how about being buried alive 100 feet below the ocean surface in a tiny pocket of air? For Harrison Okene, a 29-year-old Nigerian boat cook, this nightmare scenario became a reality." The vessel was a Chevron oil service tugboat that had capsized. Video of his rescue here.
Newsweek Plans to Return to Print in January or February: "It’s going to be a more subscription-based model, closer to what The Economist is compared to what Time magazine is,” editor in chief Jim Impoco says. “We see it as a premium product, a boutique product.” That sounds good, but Tina Brown promised good things for Newsweek after trying to fold it into the Daily Beast, and that was a big-time flop. Good luck, Mr. Impoco. Please make it awesome.
God Works in Mysterious Ways, Especially in Spanaway: "A man who went from praising the Seattle Seahawks on Monday to claiming Tuesday to be God is believed to have shot a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy before dying in a standoff," the Tacoma News Tribune reports. The man had reportedly written on his Facebook page, “God just recorded a rap song with me we are going to change the world.”
The Gay Power Mafia Adds a New Member to Its Ranks: It looks like State Rep. Jamie Pedersen will fill Ed Murray's 43rd Legislative District state Senate seat now that Murray has been elected mayor. And after last night, Brady Walkinshaw, a gay Cuban-American who works for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is in line to take Pedersen's House seat, Seattle Times reports. For more about Walkinshaw, watch this video he made.
Hezbollah Military Leader Was Assassinated Yesterday: "Lebanese news reports said he was gunned down in a parking lot," the New York Times reports. "And a previously unknown group calling itself the Free Sunnis of Baalbek...claimed responsibility for the killing," while Hezbollah blamed Israel.
Meanwhile, Al Qaeda Thinks Syria Has a Nice Ring to It: "Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s overall leader, [has been] indicating that he views Syria — where the number of jihadist rebels and foreign fighters is steadily rising — as a promising staging ground for a jihadist resurgence.
A Deeper Look at the Pope's Challenge to Capitalism: As John Cassidy writes, "This is incendiary stuff."
Tom Nissley, Hometown Hero, Is Returning to Jeopardy! He's going as a "fan favorite" representing the 2000s, Alex Trebek just announced. Other past champions are returning to the show to represent the 1980s and the 1990s. As you may know, Tom played eight games and became the third-highest money-winner in the history of the show. Becoming a "fan favorite" involved making a video and being voted on by viewers; here's the video Tom made, with Ken Jennings cameo that might have won it for him. My favorite Nissley moment on the show was when he wiped the floor on the brain-bending "Before, During, and After" category in this episode—jump ahead to 4:28 to see it:
Now Then, What Should We Name Our Office Mouse? For the last two days, it's been racing around our production department, where the paper is laid out, really on the move, on the go. Jen Graves thought she saw a very-low-flying bird in her peripheral vision on Monday. I thought it looked more like a leaf, although that makes no sense. Then yesterday, copyeditor Katie Allison watched it full on sprint the length of the room. On Twitter, I put out the call for names. Lots of good suggestions, but these were my five favorites. As always, Slog polls are legally binding.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was summoned by a domestic affairs committee for questioning about his newspaper's publication of stories based on the Snowden leaks.
His most headline-grabbing comment was that the newspaper had published "about one percent" of the total leaked material, but added "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."
More to the point, he said the Guardian had been pressured and intimidated by the government in a manner that couldn't (or, if you're less optimistic, shouldn't) happen in the US and other countries where the freedom of the press is enshrined in law. As Anthony Faiola put it in the Washington Post: "The Guardian, in fact, has slipped into the single largest crack in the free speech laws that are on the books here — the dissemination of state secrets protecting queen and country in the British homeland."
During his questioning today, Rusbridger said listed off some ways in which the government has tried to gag the newspaper:
"They include prior restraint, they include a senior Whitehall official coming to see me to say: 'There has been enough debate now'. They include asking for the destruction of our disks. They include MPs calling for the police to prosecute the editor. So there are things that are inconceivable in the US.
"I feel that some of this activity has been designed to intimidate the Guardian."
You can read more about Rusbridger's grilling—and his artful answers—over at the Guardian.
But my favorite exchange involves a Tory politician seized with a sudden, sputtering concern for the privacy of government-intelligence employees and protecting their sexual orientation (never mind that Snowden documents show those intelligence agencies actively monitoring their targets' porn habits):
During one passage of hostile questioning, a Tory member of the committee, Michael Ellis, became so agitated he was rebuked by the committee chair.
Ellis: "You authorised files stolen by Snowden which contained the names of intelligence staff, to be communicated elsewhere, didn't you? Yes or no."
Rusbridger: "I have already dealt with that. It has been known for six months."
Ellis: "Do you accept that [the files] contained personal information could lead to the identity even of the sexual orientation of persons working within GCHQ?"
Rusbridger: "If you can explain how we have done that ..."
Ellise: "On August 2, you refer to the fact that GCHQ has its own Pride group. That jeopardises those individuals."
Rusbridger: "You have completely lost me, Mr Ellis. That there are gay people in GCHQ? Is that a surprise? ... The mention of a Pride group in GCHQ, you can find the same information on the Stonewall website. I fail to see how that outs a single member of GCHQ."
Seahawks Crush Saints, 34-7: When I was in middle school, we would play football during P.E., but no one ever taught me how to play—they insisted I already knew how. Then they would throw the ball to me and tell me to run really fast in that direction, and I would, and it would turn out they were fucking with me, and then everyone would laugh. So fuck football. Having never learned the rules, stats and recaps like this one are Sanskrit to me, but I realize they bring a lot of happiness to a lot of people, and I'm pro-happiness.
Grantland's Take on Last Night: "AHHHH YES! PETE CARROLL PETE CARROLL PETE CARROLL!" Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll yelled after the game as he ran laps around the assembled media, "THAT WAS ONE OF THE BEST PETE CARROLL NIGHTS EVER!"
You Want a Gif Too? Fine, here's the "only gif you need of last night’s Hawks/Saints slaughter."
More Like STFUPD: SPD Chief Pugel basically told cops to embrace police reform, stop showing racial bias, or get fired. Two high-ranking, long-standing members of the force have just been demoted.
That Guy Who Allegedly Stole the Victoria Clipper: Yesterday in the Morning News he was quoted as having said he was just trying to get to West Seattle. And he had my sympathy. Have you ever tried to take a bus to West Seattle? But today authorities are saying that he's a "convicted felon under state supervision" who was "trying to make a run for Canada."
Armed Robber Goes After Pot Businesses, Police Say: "Police are on the hunt for an armed robber who's held up four local marijuana paraphernalia shops in the past few weeks," KOMO/SeattlPI.com reports.
Bob Dylan Is Sued for "Public Insult and Inciting Hate": But surprisingly it's not for this hat he's wearing. It's for "a 2012 interview in which he is quoted comparing Croatians to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan." Can I just say? God bless America and the First Amendment.
They Used to Laugh About AIDS in the White House: How come they never talk about that when they talk about Reagan? A transcript of a 1982 Reagan press conference made the rounds on Twitter yesterday and surprised everyone all over again, because AIDS history is fading rapidly from people's minds. "The loss of more than 630,000 U.S. citizens to HIV/AIDS since the onset of the crisis has left a generational gap that no amount of movies, plays, or commemorative days can fill."
U.S. Military Spending in a Very Concise Little Chart: How we stack up against China, Russia, Japan, Britain, et al.
Shark Attack in Maui: A Washington State man has died. There have been eight shark attacks off the coast of Maui in the last year.
Jeff Bezos Told the Earth's Atmosphere and Citizenry to Brace for a New Species of Giant Electronic Insects in Maybe Four or Five Years: But don't worry, they're "autonomous," he said last night on television. Oh yeah, and if everyone really, really wants 'em real, real bad, we could technically get them in two years. Why again? Why should we fill the air with bird robots carrying kitty litter and DVDs? Because capitalism! If you need me I'll be having a panic attack.
I'm Sorry, Did I Call Them Bird Robots? As this behind-the-scenes 60 Minutes segment makes clear, they're called "octocopters." Forgive me. Octocopters is their name. That's reassuring, right? Swarms of octocopters. One CBS guy says they're "out of The Jetsons." CBS guy misspoke. They're out of a Batman directed by the reanimated corpse of Hitchcock. Don't miss Jeff Bezos saying, excitedly: "It's a symphony of people, it's a symphony of software, it's a symphony of robots now that we're starting to put in place."
New York Times Makes a Good Point About Filling the Skies with Octocopters: "If Amazon could do it, so presumably could Walmart and the many other retailers trying to do same-day delivery. It might bring a whole new meaning to the phrase 'e-commerce wars.'
Amazon Can't Legally Do This—Yet! As Eli Sanders points out, "At present, it's illegal to use drones for commercial purposes in the United States." He also has photographic evidence of someone getting cut up by drone blades.
Hey Amazon, If Efficiency Is Really, Like, the Most Important Thing, You Know There Are More Efficient Ways to Get Things to People, Right?
Future Amazon shipping tiers: ground, UAV, attack dogs, stealth bomber, napalm strike.
— Evan Lahti (@ELahti) December 2, 2013
In Non-Octocopter News, Someone Allegedly Stole Victoria Clipper Yesterday: When he was arrested by a SWAT team, he reportedly said he "only wanted to go to West Seattle." If only he had a human-size octocopter.
Yet Another Scoop Courtesy of Edward Snowden: "Australia's surveillance agency offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, according to a secret 2008 document leaked..." Specifically, "medical, legal or religious information."
"The Economy Does Much Better When a Democrat Is in the White House" The Washington Post digs into some theories.
U.S. Supreme Court Doesn't Have Time for Liberty University's Bitching About Obamacare: The Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell will not get its day in court.
That Commuter Train Derailing in New York: They're still trying to figure out what happened.
Adam Moss Is a Genius, So As Long As He's Still in Charge, It'll Be Fine: But man, it's sad to see New York magazine going down to every other week. If you're not familiar, New York is one of the best damn magazines out there. The great Frank Rich left the New York Times a couple years back to work for New York, among many other talents New York has attracted in recent years.
HIV Infections Are on the Rise Again Because Unprotected Gay Sex Is on the Rise Again: "What twenty-year-old man, enjoying his first moments of sexual adventure, is going to be scared because, ten years before he was born, people like me saw gay men writhe and vomit and die on the streets where he now stands?"
Olympic Diver Comes Out: As bi.
It's About to Get Super Cold: "Winter weather will come plunging down from British Columbia on Monday, bringing with it a week of frigid temperatures." What to do? Well, you should eat a bunch of soup, obviously. And you should get a hot tub and invite me and Emily over. Or you should go up to the Bella Luna coed spa in Lynnwood, where Brendan was seen naked recently, or if you're looking for a stronger hippie vibe (and natural beauty) you should go to Doe Bay, where Brendan was also seen naked recently. Or fill up on local craft liquors. Or you could rub Icy Hot on yourself, but that's an activity reserved for the true masochists.
Train Crash: On a sharp curve this morning, a seven-car Metro-North train crashed and flipped over in New York City. According to the latest reports, at least four people are dead and 63 people injured.
Helicopter Crash: A police copter slammed into pub in Glasgow, Scotland on Friday, destroying the building and killing eight people.
OMG Snow: Maybe, possibly, we'll see some snow on Monday. As ever, we can count on heavy rains.
War Over the War on Drugs: A leaked UN document shows that Latin American and Nordic countries are pushing for the world body to move away from the prohibition/criminal justice approach to drugs and towards a public health, treatment-focused one.
Let's Be Mercenary Capitalists: And start courting Airbus! Maybe they'll move production to Puget Sound, and be more loyal to region's workers than Boeing was? Brilliant stuff.
Honduras Election Result Challenged: Insurgent leftist candidate Xiomara Castro is alleging widespread fraud and has called for supporters to take to the streets. In the lead-up to the vote, activists from her party were murdered and intimidated.
Dominican Republic "Reinstates Racism": The DR is withdrawing its ambassador from Haiti after the regional body CARICOM condemned a ruling stripping thousands of descendants of Haitians of their Dominican citizenship.
Nah Bruh, Parks Need Taxpayer Support Too: Washington State Parks says can't sustain itself solely on fees charged to visitors, contrary to a 2009 directive from the legislature.
It's too bad the reporter doesn't tell us more about this guy's background, why he's homeless, or how he developed his musical talents—and less about God. Touching story out of Vancouver, Washington nonetheless:
How Dare He? Conservatives attack Dan Savage for not praising "Kiddy-F*cking Catholic Priests."
The Seattle Times Feels Less Honest: Remember how the Seattle Times said that under Mayor McGinn, downtown didn't feel very safe? Now that Murray is mayor-elect, everything suddenly "feels safer!"
I See You: The fight over Google Glass heats up at the Lost Lake.
Who Would You Trust with Your Drugs? Brendan Kiley vs. CBS News on kratom.
Leaf Blowers Are Like Assholes: Everyone's got an opinion about them.
Maybe God Wanted Him to Use Exactly Those Words? Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll got caught in a plagiarism scandal and he responded by talking about himself in the third person.
"Herban Myth?" Come On! Ben Livingston shares a list of some of the best/worst/weirdest business names that popped up during the opening week of the pot license application window.
"'The Stranger', the alt-weekly that endorsed this woman, is a novel by Camus - an existential absurdist writer whose world view included the irrationality of the universe and meaninglessness of human life. This plagiarism of a title certainly cheers me up!"
The Creeping Darkness: This exhibit by Wade Kavanaugh and Steven Nguyen that Jen Graves posted about is just gorgeous.
Today Is Small Business Saturday: Go give small businesses your money. At bookstores around the city, authors like Sherman Alexie, Maria Semple, Ken Jennings, Maged Zaher, and Nancy Pearl are working as guest booksellers today. A list of all the schedules are after the jump. Go ask them for gift-giving advice.
Butting Heads With Fighter Jets: South China Sea edition!
Killing Toddlers By Drone: The US military expresses its "deep regrets" for extinguishing the life a baby with a sky robot on Thanksgiving day.
Because Boeing Is So Special: The Missouri governor is calling a special session of the legislature in order to lure Boeing and its 777X production line to the state. Your move, Inslee.
Because Wal-Mart Is So Fucked Up: Protesters descended on Wal-Mart stores across the country to protest the retail giant's exploitive labor practices, from Chicago to Dallas to Los Angeles and more. In Federal Way, a worker who says he was fired illegally took part, while in Bellevue, a dozen or so demonstrators were arrested by police in riot gear. Fights and stampedes broke out (one outlet reported a catastrophically high death toll). Nevertheless, Wal-Mart claims it broke sales records.
While You Were Shopping: 52 people died in Iraq in the latest outburst of sectarian violence.
Malware Attack: Whoops! UW Medicine has begun notifying some 90,000 patients that their Social Security numbers and other personal information may have been stolen last month.
$50K Fine Over A Spilled Drink: Jason Kidd was always a smart, smooth basketball player. Surprised he thought he could get away with this.
You call it Thanksgiving? We call it things taken:
First: In case you missed it last week, the Guardian revealed that the US and the UK struck a deal in 2007 allowing the NSA to collect, analyze, and keep the phone, internet and email records of British citizens who are not suspected of any criminal or terrorist activity.
The article has a few details worth shining a light on—the communications were "incidentally collected" up to three "hops" away from the target of surveillance, meaning the agency was examining the activity of a friend of a friend of a friend. "Guardian analysis suggests three hops for a typical Facebook user could pull the data of more than 5 million people into the dragnet."
And in a top-secret memo from 2005, the NSA describes a procedure for spying on citizens of other countries "even where the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so."
That's some exquisite surveillance-state logic: The friend of my friend is my enemy.
Second: Buzzfeed has a story about recent cell phone technology that can detect much more than your location at all times. Based on micro-motion sensors, it can also tell what you're doing—for example, whether you're traveling by train, tram, bus, car, bike, foot, and so on.
Now, with Apple’s M7 motion-sensing chip — which is standard inside the iPhone 5S and stays alert even when the phone is in standby mode — we’re about to see movement data reach new levels of accuracy.
While the most obvious application for this type of movement technology lies within fitness and health apps, which will no doubt see substantial leaps in tracking ability, nonstop measurement via smartphone could have serious implications in areas like city planning, all the way to modern psychology and medicine. As David Talbot noted during the debut of the iPhone 5S, our phones (and eventually our wearable devices) won’t take long to recognize our gestures and, quite possibly, even begin to pick up on our emotional patterns.
Third: In some good news, US police chiefs and investigators are beginning to talk openly about mission creep and other dangers of surveillance technology (i.e., virtuous cops might be installing it now for virtuous reasons but that doesn't guarantee that the cops pulling the levers in the future will be virtuous) and why the use of surveillance technology should be mission-driven, not capability-driven (i.e., "we need this so let's build it," not "let's build it and think about it later"). At a major law-enforcement conference in Philadelphia recently, the local police chief Charles Ramsay said in his opening address:
Technology is a powerful tool. It will be both the benefactor and the curse for policing. Moving forward we must be thoughtful about technology. We must drive technological solutions to our problems and not be driven by the technologists. We will increasingly face challenges surrounding the issue of individual privacy vs. public security. For example, license plate readers are in use now. They could be the predecessors of facial recognition equipment in patrol cars. We must remind ourselves that, “Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it!” We must decide where the limits should be before we face or cross them. We need to be part of that discussion and understand that our first priority is the protection of constitutional rights.
Thanks to Slog reader Greg and my collaborator Matt Fikse-Verkerk, who has been working with me on the recent SPD wireless mesh-network project for the tips.
According to a recent article in Foreign Affairs, the FBI conducts extensive digital surveillance on US soil on behalf of the National Security Agency—and, it turns out, probably spies even more intensively than the NSA:
When the media and members of Congress say the NSA spies on Americans, what they really mean is that the FBI helps the NSA do it, providing a technical and legal infrastructure that permits the NSA, which by law collects foreign intelligence, to operate on U.S. soil. It's the FBI, a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency, that collects digital information from at least nine American technology companies as part of the NSA's Prism system. It was the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon Business Network Services, one of the United States' biggest telecom carriers for corporations, to hand over the call records of millions of its customers to the NSA.
But the FBI is no mere errand boy for the United States' biggest intelligence agency. It carries out its own signals intelligence operations and is trying to collect huge amounts of email and Internet data from U.S. companies—an operation that the NSA once conducted, was reprimanded for, and says it abandoned.
Cooperation and information-sharing between agencies sounds good and efficient, but it also opens up big loopholes and opportunities for agencies to make end-runs around any restrictions placed on them by elected officials.
Congress tells the NSA it can't do X? Let the FBI take care of it. Congress tells all federal agencies they can't spy on Y? Fine. Let the local police departments take care of it and share the information later.
That's one potential problem with the Department of Homeland Security handing out millions of dollars to cities, allowing local cops to quietly buy and maintain their own federal-grade surveillance equipment (or equipment with surveillance capabilities, depending on how you want to frame it). That's especially problematic if the local cops aren't even telling their local mayors and councils what they're up to—as Seattle has recently experienced with DHS-funded police drones, cameras, and other surprises.
Last month, the New York Times wrote about what happened when Homeland Security money hit Oakland. The Stranger has written about the controversial wireless mesh network in downtown Seattle, which the Seattle Police Department quietly bought and installed with Homeland Security money. (Once the story ran, the SPD said it would turn off the network until there could be "vigorous public debate" about its use.)
Since the feds pay for the equipment, the local police are almost guaranteed to share it—internal SPD documents even list where all the information from its mesh network was planned to be routed. In the image below, towards the bottom of the list on the right, you'll see a "fusion center" as one of those recipients. (You'll also see input from "existing airborn video," which must've been the drones the SPD was later forced to shelve.)
But the important thing is the fusion center—a free information-swapping node between local, state, and federal agencies with no real restrictions on what kind of information they can share. Fusion centers are the Wild West of law-enforcement data sharing.
Even if Congress takes strong action to curb the NSA and the FBI, it's nearly impossible to imagine all city councils across the country coordinating to pass identical restrictions on the intelligence-gathering activity of the local police departments.
The result could be a national proliferation of Homeland Security-funded equipment collecting data under a weak patchwork of local restrictions, most of which would become irrelevant if all the surveillance data is being routed through the free-for-all of local fusion centers.
Whether that's part of a DHS strategy or just a happy accident, it's going to be a major challenge to any elected officials, small-time or big-time, who want to put a leash on the government agencies that specialize in spying on us.
Diane Invited to Eat Dick: Passenger on delayed flight gives a blow-by-blow account on Twitter of an angry passenger's selfish meltdown—complete with an exchange of strongly-worded notes, tiny bottles of vodka, and criminal assault.
Take This Job And... Michelle Obama has no interest in being president.
But Their Employees Look So Happy In Walmart's Commercials: Black Friday strikes and actions going down at Walmart locations across the country.
China Scrambles Jets In Growing Conflict With Japan and US Over Disputed Airspace: This is a bad thing, right?
Cunnilingus: It's a thing people do—straight people even. So why did the MPAA force producers to cut a man-going-down-on-woman scene from an upcoming film?
Armpit of the Day: The wig isn't bad either.
Another German Cannibal? Yes, another German cannibal.
Another Man With a Gun Shoots at Cops From the Window of Another Capitol Hill Apartment? Yes. And this story ends the same way the last one did.
Look! Up In the Sky: High winds died down in NYC just in time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
The War On Thanksgiving: American retail workers forced to choose between their families and the awful jobs that make it nearly impossible for them to barely feed their families.
The War On Thanksgiving, Cont. Joel Connelly is curious about something...
The sight of “big box” stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving bespeaks an obvious, insidious objective: The bottom-line boys in America’s corporate boardrooms are out to destroy this holiday as a time for the country to stop its daily grind and come together with family and extended family. With more and more stores open—Walmart, Target, Kmart, Staples, OfficeMax, Gap—the “idolatry of money” (Pope Francis’ term) is taking away the possibility of Thanksgiving for those who don’t have the resources or the prestigious jobs to just say “No!” to work. A question flashes to mind: Where are the “traditional values” and “pro-family” groups?
Ha ha ha. Pro-family groups are not pro-family, Joel. They're anti-gay. If Walmart was opening today so that gay couples could propose in their stores, the American Family Association and the Family Research Council would have something to say about it. But only then.
The War That Was Thanksgiving: The first Thanksgiving didn't go down the way they told you kindergarten. Also, too, the pilgrims didn't come here seeking religious freedom.
Death Panels Don't Exist, Aunt Beth, But I Would So Volunteer to Sit On Yours If They Did... Slate's offers up a handy guide to winning political arguments with your idiot relatives. Salon also has some handy talking points for progressives who fear being sandbagged by their RWNJs who share their DNA.
What Could Go Wrong? Following our lead, Japan and South Korea fly military planes through "disputed airspace" over some ratty islands that China recently claimed as its own superprivatespecial airspace.
A Sad Day at Bullshit Mountain: Most Americans believe that Obamacare will be fixed—not that it will be repealed, not that it will create death panels and kill grannie. But that the thing will work and that it's better than what we had before. Cue existential crisis at Fox News.
Armpit of the Day: This one is my own personal favorite.
Asshole of the Day: Joe Lieberman.
BREAKING: Many stories about professional athletes and the various sports franchises that employ them were written over last 24 hours.
From the LA Times earlier this week:
More than 100 people pelted U.S. Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles during a rowdy confrontation Sunday afternoon along the U.S.-Mexico border, federal authorities said.
Nobody was seriously injured and it’s not clear whether the crowd was trying to enter the U.S. illegally or hold a demonstration, but the sight of a large crowd surging beyond the border rattled nerves.
Agents said it harked to the days in the 1990s when migrants would run across the border en masse, in so-called banzai runs that would overwhelm agents. As the crowd on Sunday crossed the Tijuana River into California, more than one dozen agents responded to the border fence atop the levee and deployed pepper spray to hold them back, triggering the melee.
As many, many people have pointed out in recent years, there is a contradiction at the heart of globalization. Free-trade agreements, international banking agreements, communications technology, and the rest want to accelerate the movement of goods, services, money, and information across borders—everything, that is, except people.
Meanwhile in DC, immigration reform seems stalled and activists will spend Thanksgiving on their 16th day of hunger strike.
Run, Bernie, Run! Vermont's Bernie Sanders, the only openly socialist member of Congress, is thinking about running for president in 2016.
GOP Policies Driving Up Number of Late-Term Abortions: No one could have predicted that making it harder for women to get abortions early in their pregnancies—by instituting mandatory waits, forcing women to undergo unnecessary medical procedures, pushing through laws that shut down clinics (which forces women to travel farther to get abortions)—would result in more women getting late-term abortions.
First They Came For The Billionaires: The IRS floats proposed new rules that would make it harder for billionaire douchebags to pour millions into electioneering non-profits like Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and whatever Karl Rove's latest scam is called.
Obama's Poll Numbers Tanking: But the public loves Obama's Iran deal.
Clothed Female, Naked Mullah: NSA spied on porn-viewing habits of Islamic "radicalizers" in hopes of exposing and discrediting them. HuffPo: "None of the six individuals targeted by the NSA is accused in the document of being involved in terror plots. The agency believes they all currently reside outside the United States. It identifies one of them, however, as a 'U.S. person,' which means he is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. A U.S. person is entitled to greater legal protections against NSA surveillance than foreigners are."
11 Manly Way To Tie A Scarf: The fags at the Stranger have always relied on scarf-wearing, lady-marrying Brendan Kiley for manly man scarf-tying tips. And if it weren't for Brendan, good lord, Dave and Dom and Chris and Eli and I would walk around all winter long looking like we were wearing cum bibs. Business Insider comes through with tips on manly-man scarfing for fags who aren't lucky enough to work with a scarf-wearing, lady-marrying, penis-in-vagina-preferring manly man like Brendan.
Armpit Of The Day: The manly man way to wear a tiny swimsuit. (But there was really no reason to put a bird on it.)
Armpit Of The Day, First Runner Up:
The New York Times publishes A1, above-the-fold, partial female nipple. pic.twitter.com/6v0BDW6N8r— Dylan Stableford (@stableford) November 27, 2013
Jesus Loves The Little Children: But who said His love was unconditional? Christian school threatens to expel African American girl because her hair is too black.
Where Was This Mary In 2004? Mary Cheney to campaign against anti-gay marriage amendment in Indiana. In 2004 Mary worked for a presidential campaign that pushed anti-gay marriage amendments in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.
Let's Move Thanksgiving To July: Wall of storms threatens to make traveling around Thanksgiving even more miserable than dealing with amateurs in airports makes it already. Who's idea was it to put this gotta-go-home-and-see-mom holiday in late November? It's doesn't have to happen in November. We made this holiday up. We can move it to July.
Vegetarian? Shut up and eat the fucking turkey your grandma made.
The Pecan Pie Bubble: Why are Thanksgiving pecan pies so expensive?
BREAKING: Many stories about professional athletes and sports franchises were written over last 24 hours.
Yes We Can (Get Out of Afghanistan): Afghan President Hamid Karzai's long list of new and crazy demands might prompt Barack Obama to keep his promise to get US troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Let's hope! And change!
Yes They Can: The wealthy shitstains who control Walmart could pay their workers more—a lot more—without having to raise prices on the crap they got rich selling at Walmart.
“I Believe I’m Going To Be A Democrat.” Why does the GOP want to stop Obamacare so badly? This is why.
Fox and Fuckheads: Wealthy talking head with generous health insurance plan paid for by her employer praises "young invincibles" for not signing up for Obamacare. Remember, kids, no one under 40 has ever broken a bone. What's that you say, New York Times? You actually wrote up "young invincibles" years ago? And their bones aren't made out of titanium?
Lying Liar: For fuck's sake, John Boehner.
Now The Pope Is Trolling Sarah Palin: Pope Francis condemns the "tyranny" of unfettered capitalism. Take it away, Guardian:
Francis went further than previous comments criticising the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare." He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.
Less Sex, Please, We're British: Sex Survey in the UK finds that Brits are having sex less often—but the sex they are having is more creative, British women are having more lesbian experiences, and they're "taking their iPhones and iPads into bed."
Modern Families: A lot more complicated, diverse, and compelling than social conservatives would have us believe.
The Marriage Of True Minds: Prominent opponent of gay marriage comes around.
It Can't Happen There: Same-sex marriage will never be legal in Israel.
Only Rich White Gay Men Care About Marriage Equality: It appears that this lovely couple—who will be the first same-sex couple to marry in Illinois thanks to a compassionate judge—didn't get the only-gay-white-men memo. (Congrats to Vernita and Pat!)
Armpit of the Day: The rest of his exoskeleton isn't bad either.
You Will Always Remember Where You Were... when you learned that Nicolas Cage's ex-girlfriend's apartment was broken into. It's too soon to talk about how this happened. Just hug your children.
But That Model Said "Christmas!" Religious conservatives don't much care for this Kmart ad:
And I'm thinking the two dozen wingnuts at One Million Moms probably wouldn't like this video either...
I'm thinking that boy is being punished for burning all those pancakes. But is the boy with the maple syrup winking or is he wincing as he pinches off an out-of-the-frame turd?
GOP Senator: Obama Crafted Iranian Deal to Distract Us From Obamacare's Disastrous Rollout! Not sure what France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia had to gain by helping Obama distract us like this... but it'll all be clear after Darrell Issa holds two or three hundred hearings.
World War T: San Francisco has been completely overrun by flesh-eating zombies—no, wait. San Francisco has been completely overrun by code-humping techies.
Obama Was Here: He came to distract us from Obamacare! Which is working fine here and in other states that aren't run by obstructionist GOP assholes! Obama distracted us from how well Obamacare is working here by raising tons of money for Democrats!
Obama Is Behind This: Giant pigs with razor-sharp Teeth and bad tempers distract Virginians from disastrous Obamacare rollout!
Frothy Flicks: What can't Rick Santorum fail at?
Bigots Won't Be Beating Up Kids At Ballot Box: A rightwing attack on the rights of trans children—launched by the same assholes who brought us Prop 8—fails to make the ballot in California.
"Let The Little Children Come Unto Me—Unless They're Related To Fags. Those Children Can Go Fucketh Themselves," Sayeth The Lord. Did your older brother just come out of the closet? That's too bad! Because now you're going to get expelled from your soon-to-taxpayer financed private Christian school.
The Post-Antibiotic Era: We're all going to die because you had to buy that stupid antibacterial soap—and, yes, overprescribing antibiotics and pumping livestock full of antibiotics didn't help. But I blame that soap you bought.
TPM On Sarah Silverman: In defense of a woman who can defend herself—but this full-of-shit critic needed to be slapped down regardless.
God Answers All Our Prayers—But Sometimes God's Answer Is "No." Youth pastor shot and killed hours after leading a prayer rally calling for an end to gun violence.
Never Tire of Watching Celebrities Hand Each Other Awards? The AMAs happened last night. And here's a headline for you: "Miley Cyrus SHUTS DOWN the AMAs with Her Lip-Synching Pussy!" Alternate headline: "Miley Cyrus Performs 'Wrecking Ball' With a Giant Cat."
Zay Smith's QT: I'm in love this short-items column written by a veteran Chicago reporter. A sample:
News Headline: “New deal would keep U.S. in Afghanistan until 2024.”
News Headline: “Afghanistan to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery.”
Keep in mind that our soldiers won’t be risking their lives for nothing.
Our soldiers will be risking their lives for worse than nothing.
Deal Struck: Iran, the US, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, France, and Germany have come to a historic agreement in which Iran will halt uranium enrichment in return for $7 billion in sanctions relief. People who like war immediately condemned the accord. The Israeli prez calls it a "historic mistake." Right.
Capitol Hill-UW Light Rail Link Ahead of Schedule: The trip will take just three minutes. Sounds glorious.
Mum's the Word: Boeing has officially asked for bids from locales around the country to decide where it will build its 777X line of planes; won't say if Washington's among them.
Thais Protest Government Corruption: "This is a demonstration that is taking on historic proportions," says Al Jazeera's correspondent.
Democracy, Subverted: The Egyptian government went ahead and passed a measure requiring people to seek permission from the government before holding protests.
Bellevue Real Estate Developer and Girlfriend Jailed for Tax Evasion: I know the "don't judge a book by its cover" adage, but check out that photo. Just sayin'.
Honduran Elections Are Today: Four years after a coup ousted the country's elected (leftist) president, Mel Zelaya, his wife Xiomara Castro is running for the office against a candidate backed by the establishment. Despite a surge in human rights violations and militarization, the US has supported the post-coup regime. It's unclear whether this election will really be free and fair.
Everything you wanted to know about widespread wage theft in the restaurant industry: