17 November 2017

Sean Connery and Robert Mitchum, okay, but Eddie Arnold?
Watched "The Longest Day"; a long, excellent movie.

16 November 2017

Another good one, not gone

Vanity Fair has an article by WHO on the death of Sally Field:

Stunning even the talkative host, Jimmy Fallon, into silence, Sally Field came clean on how she’s managed to maintain her youthful good looks despite decades in the industry and admits she has never gone under the knife.
As Fallon playfully teased the stunning actress about her ageless appearance, noting that she has looked exactly the same every time she has joined him as a guest on his show, the star opened up. Despite being in her seventies, the gorgeous star says she often gets mistaken for being in her forties, and sometimes is even told she has the appearance of someone in their thirties.
The actress blushed during the startling revelation as she wowed audiences by admitting her good looks are not the work of a plastic surgeon. Shying away from the regular Hollywood route, Field revealed that her hippy background made her more open to trying natural treatments at a young age.  “A lot of the women in my family turned to alternative medicine and I noticed a reoccurring theme; these natural ingredients were doing an incredible job at keeping these women ageless,” explained Field.
She says that natural ingredients have allowed her to maintain her youthful good looks
The star agrees that while genetics does play a role in how quickly someone ages; she was determined to unlock the powers hidden in the natural ingredients her family was readily using.
Field hired a team of skincare specialists and dermatologists to analyze the ingredients found in a lot of the alternative medicine and products that her family members were using and together they uncovered a fascinating secret.
“Basically we discovered there is really no need for plastic surgery or botox. As humans, our bodies have the amazing ability to self-heal as long as we’re supplying our bodies with the correct nutrients. Instead of pumping our bodies full of toxins and synthetics, we need to take a holistic approach,” said the star.
According to Field, most of the toxic ingredients found in a lot of the major skincare products on the market actually cause further damage to your skin and accelerate the aging process.
Field recommends anyone who is serious about rewinding the clock should swap out their chemical laden products in favor of a natural product. “There is a lot of confusion around anti-aging skincare, so once we discovered the key ingredients to healthy, younger looking skin, I realized I needed to make it accessible to everyone,” said Field.
The actress and her team of experts created Nouveau, which contain top-grade natural ingredients to help your body fight the signs of aging:
Field admits she first tested the product on herself and two of her closest friends, Amy Adams and Helen Hunt. “The results Helen and I achieved from just one month of using Nouveau is outstanding. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. My skin is honestly so healthy that it glows, and there isn’t a wrinkle in sight”, said Amy Adams.
“I was wasting so much time trying every new anti-aging product that became available until Sally introduced me to Nouveau. It’s the only product I’ve ever used that truly works, within a few weeks my wrinkles were fading and my skin was luminous again, something it hadn’t been in over 10 years!” - Kate Winslet
“My skin was starting to sag and I truly thought my only option was surgery. Thankfully Sally stepped in and convinced me to try Nouveau before making any drastic decisions. After just one week I could tell my skin was visibly firmer and plumper.” - Anne Hathaway
“A lot of my friends were resorting to botox injections and I thought I would have to do the same. I was considering booking a consultation when Sally told me that she uses Nouveau. That woman hasn’t aged in three decades, so I knew I had to try it for myself. Now I am well and truly a Nouveau convert, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my skin.” Meryl Streep
Nouveau is hands down the best anti-aging products you can find. I was suffering from multiple signs of aging – fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, pigmentation, inflammation, you name it and I had it! Nouveau solved all of those issues within weeks. Now Nouveau is the only thing I use.” Melanie Griffith
Rico says she wasn't a great actress, but certainly a good one. Neither he nor his fiancé have any experience with Nouveau, so no recommendation is implied. But it seems that Sally is not dead...

History for the day: 1532: Pizarro traps Atahualpa

History.com has an article about the beginning of the end for Native Americans:

On 16 November 1532, Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer and conquistador, springs a trap on the Incan emperor, Atahualpa. With fewer than two hundred men against several thousand, Pizarro lures Atahualpa to a feast in the emperor’s honor and then opens fire on the unarmed Incans. Pizarro’s men massacre the Incans and capture Atahualpa, forcing him to convert to Christianity before eventually killing him.
Pizarro’s timing for conquest was perfect. By 1532, the Incan Empire was embroiled in a civil war that had decimated the population and divided the people’s loyalties. Atahualpa, the younger son of former Incan ruler Huayna Capac, had just deposed his half-brother Huascar and was in the midst of reuniting his kingdom when Pizarro arrived in 1531, with the endorsement of Spain’s King Charles V. On his way to the Incan capital, Pizarro learned of the war and began recruiting soldiers still loyal to Huascar.
Pizarro met Atahualpa just outside Cajamarca, a small Incan town tucked into a valley of the Andes. Sending his brother Hernan as an envoy, Pizarro invited Atahualpa back to Cajamarca for a feast in honor of Atahualpa’s ascendance to the throne. Though he had nearly eighty thousand soldiers with him in the mountains, Atahualpa consented to attend the feast with only five thousand unarmed men. He was met by Vicente de Valverde, a friar traveling with Pizarro. While Pizarro’s men lay in wait, Valverde urged Atahualpa to convert and accept Charles V as sovereign. Atahualpa angrily refused, prompting Valverde to give the signal for Pizarro to open fire. Trapped in tight quarters, the panicking Incan soldiers made easy prey for the Spanish. Pizarro’s men slaughtered the five thousand Incans in just an hour. Pizarro himself suffered the only Spanish injury: a cut on his hand sustained as he saved Atahualpa from death.
Realizing Atahualpa was initially more valuable alive than dead, Pizarro kept the emperor in captivity while he made plans to take over his empire. In response, Atahualpa appealed to his captors’ greed, offering them a room full of gold and silver in exchange for his liberation. Pizarro consented, but after receiving the ransom, Pizarro brought Atahualpa up on charges of stirring up rebellion. By that time, Atahualpa had played his part in pacifying the Incans while Pizarro secured his power, and Pizarro considered him disposable. Atahualpa was to be burned at the stake, as the Spanish believed this to be a fitting death for a heathen, but, at the last moment, Valverde offered the emperor clemency if he would convert. Atahualpa submitted, only to be executed by strangulation. The day was 29 August 1533.
Fighting between the Spanish and the Incas would continue well after Atahualpa’s death as Spain consolidated its conquests. Pizarro’s bold victory at Cajamarca, however, effectively marked the end of the Inca Empire and the beginning of the European colonization of South America.
Rico says it was the start of a long and bloody history of conquest in the New World...

Trump for the day

The Washington Post has an article by David Nakamura about our doofus President at the recent ASEAN summit:
The fight over access between reporters and any White House can sometimes seem more like an exercise in First Amendment theory than practical reality: is it really that important for the news media to get a glimpse of, say, a carefully choreographed photo op at an international summit before being led back out in a matter of minutes?
Actually, yes, it is, as New York Times photographer Doug Mills illustrated over three days on President Trump's recent trip to Asia.
On Friday, Mills was part of the small group of traveling “press pool” members shadowing Trump in Danang, Vietnam, when he tweeted a “photo” of a black box to protest the White House's decision to shut out the pool from any coverage of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings. “This is what our coverage ... looks like today,” he wrote in the tweet. “Blank. No coverage.”
On Monday, Mills got his revenge at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit with Trump in Manila. Admitted with the pool for a few minutes to observe the annual ritual of the ASEAN leaders' “family photo”, Mills snapped a quick frame that spread quickly through social media after he posted it online.
Political pundits quickly made hay of the photo and poked fun at Trump and the whole tradition of the family photo.
Rico says it was stupid, but political...

15 November 2017

History for the day: 1963: The Great Train Robbery

Watched The Great Train Robbery (not the remake.) Rico says he was only eleven when it happened, so this was all new...

Space for the day

Space.com has an article by Tariq Malik about a crucial test of the Dream Chaser spaceplane:

Sierra Nevada Corporation's privately built Dream Chaser space plane aced a critical test on Saturday, 11 November 2017 during a successful free-flight over California's Mojave Desert.
The uncrewed Dream Chaser made a smooth landing (photo) at Edwards Air Force Base during the free-flight test at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, NASA officials said in a statement. Earlier this year, officials at the Armstrong center, where Dream Chaser is being tested, said the space plane would to be dropped from an altitude of 12,500 feet by a Columbia 234-UT helicopter for this test.
"The Dream Chaser had a beautiful flight and landing!" Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Saturday. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday, 13 November 2017.
Dream Chaser looks much like a miniature version of a NASA space shuttle. It is about thirty feet long and capable of hauling up to six tons of cargo to the International Space Station. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings.
Sierra Nevada is developing Dream Chaser to deliver supplies to the space station for NASA under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. Under that agreement, Sierra Nevada will fly at least six cargo delivery missions for NASA by 2024, agency officials said in the 11 November statement. Two other companies, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, will use their own spacecraft to fly delivery missions for NASA as part of the CRS-2 program.
Saturday's free-flight test "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight, meeting expected models for a future return from the International Space Station," Armstrong officials said, adding that more tests will likely follow. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software, and control system performance of the Dream Chaser."
The Dream Chaser free flight follows a 30 August 2017 captive carry test, which used the Columbia 234-UT helicopter.
Rico says there's still a lot to make happen, but they're getting closer...

14 November 2017

China, fucking up the planet again

Apple News has an article by Craig Welch about global warming, courtesy of the Chinese:

For a while it looked as if the world might be turning the corner. But, after a three-year stall in their growth, human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions have not, in fact, peaked, an international team of scientists announced this morning. In 2017, global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels and industry will once again rise by two percent, the scientists project, to a record thirty-seven billion metric tons. Those emissions had increased by only a quarter of a percent from 2014 to 2016. Changes in land use, like deforestation, will add around four billion metric tons of CO2 in 2017, bringing the global emissions total to an estimated forty billion metric tons. The resurgence tightens the time constraint on the world's efforts to keep global warming from exceeding four degrees Fahrenheit, a cap scientists increasingly believe is important to ward off climate change's most catastrophic effects. "What's driving, really, the global trend is this pick-up in China," says Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia in the UK, and the lead author of one of several new emissions studies released today. An unexpected rise in coal-burning in China, due in part to a summer drought that diminished the country’s rivers and its generation of hydropower, was the biggest contributor to the global surge in emissions. But China's shift didn't happen in a vacuum. Its emissions rose just as the United States and European Union each saw their emissions decrease more slowly than expected.
In the US, higher natural gas prices led to a slight rise in coal burning, for the first time in five years, while oil use also increased. As a result, emissions that had been declining about 1.2 percent a year dropped less than half a percent. In the European Union, emissions dropped less than a quarter percent after a decade of annual declines topping two percent a year.
On the other hand, India's emissions, which had been steadily rising about six percent a year, as the country industrializes and rapidly brings electricity to rural areas, are projected to increase by only two percent in 2017. That good news is also troubling, because it’s almost certain not to last.
With five of the hottest years on record all having come just since 2010, the big question is whether the renewed emissions growth is a one-time slip or the new normal.
"It's hard to say whether 2017 is a hiccup on the way to a trajectory that eventually peaks and goes downward, or if it's about returning to high growth," Le Quéré says.
The announcement comes as climate experts gather in Bonn, Germany, to boost efforts by world leaders to stem climate change. In 2015, during the Paris climate talks, 195 nations, including the United States, voluntarily agreed to do what it took to keep temperature increases to no more than two degrees Celsius, while acknowledging that an even better goal would be to keep heat growth to below 1.5 degrees. The US, under President Donald Trump, has since announced it will withdraw from the Paris accords.
Scientists had not fully expected that the world's emissions were ready to top out. Hundreds of millions of people in India alone, for example, are still living without power. But there was hope that China's surprisingly rapid move away from coal to combat the air pollution killing its citizens might hasten the transition to renewable energy.
While Le Quéré says she hopes 2017 proves to be a brief blip, another study she worked on with Stanford University climate scientist Robert Jackson suggests the bad climate news could, in fact, continue.
Twenty-two countries that account for twenty percent of global emissions have seen their CO2 output drop as their gross domestic product increased in the last decade. But both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund project global increases in GDP in 2018 at rates that haven't been seen since 2011. Economic activity at that scale seems likely to lead to more emissions, Jackson says.
One reason: despite the global explosion in solar and wind power, since the year 2000 "eighty percent of the new energy infrastructure we've built around the world is still fossil fuels," Jackson says. "We are more energy efficient, but just as carbon intensive as we were in 1990."
There are some positive trends. Emissions are decreasing in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. China has capped winter coal use and announced a commitment to phase out gas- and diesel-powered cars.
"Decarbonizing the transportation sector is probably the most difficult thing we have to do, so if that happens, it's a big step," Jackson says.
The new studies suggest emissions growth globally is unlikely any time soon to return to the three percent-a-year rate we saw through much of the 2000s.
But that depends on the actions countries take in the immediate future, the scientists say.
"At the moment it looks like the governments have gotten a bit complacent," Le Quéré says.
Rico says governments are good at complacency, bad at change...

13 November 2017

Remakes are not always better

Watching Tinker Tailor with a whole new cast, including Smiley (no longer Alec Guinness, but Gary Oldman) did not improve things...

Laser weapons

Space.com has an article via The Washington Post by Christian Davenport about the Air Force, mounting lasers on aircraft:

For Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons maker, the $26 million Air Force contract is something of a pittance, easily overlooked in a sea of massive, multi-million-dollar awards. The aim of the contract, to develop a laser weapon that could fit on a fighter jet, could also be a fool’s errand that was considered impossible just a few years ago. But, if the company is able to develop the technology, it would mark a major breakthrough in laser weapons that many think is already starting to transform warfare. And in another sign of the advancement of laser technology, General Atomics this week was awarded a nearly nine million dollar contract to develop a laser that could be put on a drone.
The Pentagon has been keenly interested in lasers for the past several years. Unlike bullets, bombs, or missiles, they sizzle instead of boom and can limit damage to a specific target, while limiting collateral damage. Lasers travel at the speed of light and are relatively inexpensive. With enough power, they can fire for long periods of time without running out of ammunition.
On a fighter jet, they could be particularly effective, able to even shoot down missiles, officials said. Think of it this way: q weapon that fires at the speed of light would be traveling on a fighter jet potentially flying faster than the speed of sound to shoot down a missile also traveling at supersonic velocity.
All of which would represent a major leap forward in the speed and precision in modern weaponry, a “new era,” as Robert Afzal, a senior fellow at Lockheed Martin, said.
“This technology is really rapidly evolving,” he said. “It’s remarkable the progress we’ve been making.”
But lasers require vast amounts of energy to operate and discharge a lot of heat, which means they need space. Getting them to be compact enough to fit on a fighter jet is an enormous challenge, not to mention being able to withstand the turbulence and G-loads that a fighter jet generates.
Lockheed makes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy fighter jet that has become the most expensive weapons system in the history of the Pentagon. But the company wouldn’t say if the laser test would be on an F-35 or another fighter.
In 2014, the Navy put a laser on the USS Ponce, testing it against small, swarming boats. Since then, as the technology continued to progress, the military has armed trucks and Humvees with lasers. General Atomics, which makes the Predator and MQ-9B drones, was awarded a contract from the Missile Defense Agency to develop a laser that could go on a drone. The company declined to comment on the program.
Raytheon, meanwhile, has even put a laser on a militarized dune buggy. Earlier this year, it outfitted an Apache helicopter with a laser weapon for the first time.
That demonstration showed significant progress in the technology, said Ben Allison, the director of Raytheon’s high-energy laser product line. “Lasers being deployed out of the laboratory environment is one of the large hurdles we have to overcome in this industry,” he said. “In the lab, you’re able to control the environment, even humidity and dust. And the challenges of being able to transition that from the lab to a moving platform, whether on the ground to an airborne environment, are pretty steep.”
It’s even more difficult on a fighter jet. Under the contract, Lockheed would need to demonstrate and test a laser on a jet by 2021, which was considered a long shot just a few years ago. “Four or five years ago, we would have said maybe one day, but it’s going to be really tough,” Afzal said.
Now, he said, “that day is coming.”
Rico says he's surprised it took them this long...

Night sky over the Bonneville Salt Flats

Space.com has a great photo of the night sky over the Bonneville Salt Flats:

Rico says we continue to be amazed by things...


The Verge has an article by Ashley Carman about some bad, if funny, programming:

I have some news: the Internet of Things is a mess. A hacked refrigerator sounds slightly scary, but a vibrator-controlling app that records all your sex sounds and stores them on your phone without your knowledge? That's way worse.
Today, a Reddit user pointed out that Hong Kong-based sex toy company Lovense's remote control vibrator app (Lovense Remote, above) recorded a use session without their knowledge. An audio file lasting six minutes was stored in the app's local folder. The users says he or she gave the app access to the mic and camera but only to use with the in-app chat function and to send voice clips on command, not constant recording when in use. Other users confirmed this app behavior, too.
A user claiming to represent Lovense responded and called this recording a "minor bug" that only affects Android users. Lovense also says no information or data was sent to the company's servers, and that this audio file exists only temporarily. An update issued today should fix the bug.
A company representative e-mailed a statement, confirming that the user on Reddit was a representative of the company:
As explained in the thread I linked above, we do not store any audio files on our servers. For sound feature to work, we have to create a local cache file. This file is supposed to be deleted in the end of each session but because of a bug in the last version of our Android app, the file wasn't deleted successfully. With this bug, the cache file was stored on the user's device until the next session where the new session overwrites on the previous cache file.
The representative also confirmed that the bug has been fixed, and that the cache file will be deleted at the end of each session with this latest version.
This isn't Lovense's first security flub. Earlier this year, a butt plug made by the company, the Hush, was also found to be hackable. In the butt plug's case, the vulnerability had to do with Bluetooth, as opposed to the company spying on users. In a separate case unrelated to the Lovense, a company called We-Vibe was sued after after its Bluetooth-enabled vibrators allegedly collected and recorded users' personal information. The company ended up settling the class-action suit for four million dollars.
All of this is to say that if you are going to purchase connected sex toys, do your research. Trust in the toys' makers is essential. Still, vulnerabilities exist in any smart device, so recognize the risks before going online.
Correction: This article previously stated that Lovense created the We-Vibe vibrator. This was incorrect, and we regret the error.
Rico says there's gotta be some funny YouTube videos out of this...

Don't try this at home

The Clarion Project has another spurious assignment for the unwary:

What would you do if your twelve-year-old daughter had a homework assignment asking her to explain to you why she decided to convert to Islam?
This actually happened in a school in Sunderland in northern England, according to the Daily Mail.
Students at the Kepier School were given this assignment:
Write a letter to family about converting to Islam.
Stepfather Mark McLachlan brought the issue to public attention after he refused to allow his stepdaughter to complete her homework. McLachlan said he appreciates students learning about world religions at school but added: “What I do not want is a school asking my stepdaughter to look into reasons for converting to another religion.”
The Clarion Project closely follows the curriculum issue, particularly in the US, where we reported on problematic cases in Maryland, Texas, and elsewhere.

Let us know your thoughts in a poll.

Rico says he had a Muslim counsellor one summer at Plantation Farm Camp, and we all did a bit of play-acting of a Muslim prayer...

History for the day: 1982: Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated

Rico says it's still amazing how well it was received...


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Subject: 1982: Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated

Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated
Near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the... read more »
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Police search John Graham's home and find bomb-making materials »
Tidal wave ravages East Pakistan »
General Interest
First presidential tour concludes »
East Pakistan devastated by cylcone »
The eruption of Nevado del Ruiz »
Whoopi Goldberg born »
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"Chris Gaines," Garth Brooks' rock alter ego, performs on Saturday Night Live »
Old West
Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts »
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Darryl Dawkins breaks his first backboard »
Vietnam War
President receives optimistic reports »
"March Against Death" commences in Washington, D.C. »
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10 November 2017

Of course it's 11:11...

09 November 2017

More trouble for SpaceX

Space.com has an article by Mike Wall, a Space.com senior writer, about SpaceX:

An explosion occurred during a test of a SpaceX Merlin engine on Saturday 4 November 2017  at the company's test facility in McGregor, Texas, according to a statement obtained by Space.com.
"No one was injured and all safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident," according to the statement. "We are now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause."
The explosion occurred during a test of a Block 5 Merlin engine (photo), which will be used in a future generation of the company's Falcon 9 rockets, a source told Space.com. Falcon 9 rockets that are currently in operation utilize the Block 4 Merlin engine, so the incident will not require the company to halt any of its scheduled launches. 
Rico says he's still hoping for Musk to pull this off...

Hawking warned you

Space.com has an article by Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer, about the future:

Stephen Hawking (photo) warned that humanity may have less than six hundred years to leave Earth.
Earth may be uninhabitable just a few centuries from now, so humanity should prepare to spread out into the cosmos, Stephen Hawking has advised.
If humanity doesn't become a truly spacefaring species in the next five centuries or so, we may well go extinct, Stephen Hawking said, according to media reports.
During a video presentation on 5 November at the Tencent Web Summit in Beijing, China, the famed cosmologist warned that the ever-rising human population, and its mounting energy needs, could render Earth uninhabitable by the year 2600, according to the British newspaper The Sun.
Hawking therefore advised that we get our act together and "boldly go where no one has gone before," The Sun reported.
Rico says, okay, so that's a line from Star Trek; the guy's a scientist, not a writer...

More on the Texas shooting

Authorities have reviewed video from inside the small-town Texas church where a gunman killed more than two dozen people, including footage that shows the assailant shooting victims in the head during Sunday services, an official said.
The official's account of the video is consistent with statements made by survivors of the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The same official confirmed that the attacker's cellphone was an iPhone and that the FBI had not yet asked Apple for help in obtaining data from the device.
The church regularly recorded its services, and the footage investigators have seen shows several minutes of the attack because there was "no one to turn it off", according to a law enforcement official who has seen the video. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.
The law enforcement official was among those who went inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas after the attack and said several of the pews were overturned, although it was unclear if that was from the attack or from rescue efforts. Bullets had splintered the walls and pews, leaving shards of wood all over the floors.
Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Texas on Wednesday, visiting wounded victims at a San Antonio hospital and later meeting families of the dead in Floresville, not far from Sutherland Springs. Pence went from table to table at a high school library attempting to console devastated family members.
"The whole country is praying over you," he told one man who lost his sister-in-law.
He stopped to talk with John Holcombe, whose family was decimated by the shooting. Holcombe, who suffered shrapnel wounds, lost his wife Crystal, pregnant with their first child, three of her children, his parents, a brother, and a toddler niece.
Pence hugged seven-year-old Evelyn Holcombe, who managed to survive by running out of the church during the attack.
Earlier on Wednesday, Pence said that President Donald Trump had ordered Federal agencies to provide extensive help to the investigation including a hundred on-site FBI agents.
The agent in charge of the FBI's San Antonio division said Tuesday agents had not been able to retrieve data from Devin Patrick Kelley's cellphone.
In a statement pm Wednesday evening, Apple said it's offered the FBI technical advice after learning the bureau was trying to access the phone. The company said the FBI had not requested its assistance. Depending on the model of iPhone and what security features it had, FBI agents might have had a short window to use alternative methods to access its data. For instance, if the iPhone used Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensing system, agents could have tried placing the dead gunman's finger on the phone to unlock it. But that would only have worked within two days of the last time the phone was locked.
Meanwhile, more details emerged about the gunman's past. School records showed that Kelley was a disciplinary problem in high school. In the fall of 2006, Kelley's sophomore year, he was suspended and sent to an alternative school for two months after an unspecified drug-related incident. He was suspended twice as a junior and three times as a senior for reasons including "insubordination," ''profane language/gestures" and "dishonest/false records".
With each passing year at New Braunfels High School, his grades slipped as well, according to the records. A B-student overall as a freshman, he failed several classes by his senior year, and ended up ranked 260 out of 393 students in his graduating class in 2009. He finished with a 2.3 grade-point average. The records also listed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as one of his medical conditions.
A former friend said Kelley asked her for sexual favors and prevented his first wife from communicating with her friends. Kelsey Huckaby told Austin, Texas television station KTBC that Kelley was "kind of controlling of his girlfriends" in high school. Huckaby said she lost contact with Kelley until he responded to a Facebook post she made in April asking for a place to stay for her and her boyfriend. She said Kelley offered to let them stay in a trailer on his property if she performed weekly "sexual favors" for him.
Also on Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released an official list of those killed in the rampage. The eight male victims and seventeen female victims ranged in age from one to seventy-seven. Eight of the fatalities were children or teenagers. The oldest of them was sixteen.
Authorities said the 26 dead also included the unborn baby of a woman who was killed.
All the victims died at the scene, except for one child who died at a San Antonio-area hospital. Eleven people remained hospitalized with wounds they suffered in the attack.
Rico says people don't want to believe in evil, but it exists...

Kung-fu cats

Rico's friend Kelley forwards this article about cats:

Hisakata Hiroyuki, a talented photographer from Japan, has managed to snap a group of tomcats in a variety of high-flying kung fu-like poses. Using his own rapid-fire reactions, he photographs the lovable cats flying through the air, their legs and paws outstretched, like something out of an action movie.
To shoot these unique poses, Hisakata, 30, uses a simple cat toy, which he dangles above the cats to encourage them to leap through the air. Once the cats are airborne, Hisakata uses his other hand to photograph the cats using a fast shutter speed.
The idea for the series, Hisakata said, came to him around eighteen months ago.
He says he never thought of street cats as particularly playful, and was surprised by the reactions of a selected few when he first tried to interact with them with a cat toy.
The photographer continued to develop his unnamed series, sometimes bringing more than one cat into the equation.
Hiskata, who is from the island of Kyushu in Japan, said people have been surprised by the cats’ poses: “Everyone says, ‘I have never seen that.'” He says he is careful not to hurt the cats, and to limit the shooting time. He also makes sure to use fresh toys, “and I often disinfect it to prevent infections.”
The photographs reveal the cats’ boundless personality.
Rico says cats don't like being teased...

History for the day: 1938: Kristallnacht

 History.com has an article about the start of a bad seven years:

On 9 November 1938, in an event that would foreshadow the Holocaust, German Nazis launch a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses in Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through 10 November and was later dubbed Kristallnacht, German for the Night of Broken Glass, after the countless smashed windows of Jewish-owned establishments, left approximately a hundred Jews dead, over seven thousand Jewish businesses damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools, and graveyards vandalized. An estimated thirty thousand Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months; they were released when they promised to leave Germany. Kristallnacht represented a dramatic escalation of the campaign started by Adolf Hitler in 1933, when he became Chancellor, to purge Germany of its Jewish population.
The Nazis used the murder of a low-level German diplomat in Paris, France by a seventeen-year-old Polish Jew as an excuse to carry out the Kristallnacht attacks. On 7 November 1938, Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who wanted revenge for his parents’ sudden deportation from Germany to Poland, along with tens of thousands of other Polish Jews. Following vom Rath’s death, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered German storm troopers to carry out violent riots, disguised as “spontaneous demonstrations”, against Jewish citizens. Local police and fire departments were told not to interfere. In the face of all the devastation, some Jews, including entire families, committed suicide.
In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the Nazis blamed the Jews and fined them a billion marks (or $400 million in 1938 dollars) for vom Rath’s death. As repayment, the government seized Jewish property and kept insurance money owed to Jewish people. In its quest to create a master Aryan race, the Nazi government enacted further discriminatory policies that essentially excluded Jews from all aspects of public life.
Over a hundred thousand Jews fled Germany for other countries after Kristallnacht. The international community was outraged by the violent events of 9 and 10 November . Some countries broke off diplomatic relations in protest, but the Nazis suffered no serious consequences, leading them to believe they could get away with the mass murder that was the Holocaust, in which an estimated six million European Jews died.
Rico says it took us awhile to get around to it, but we eventually made them pay for their brutality... (And Rico feels sorry for all those who didn't get it and leave.)

07 November 2017


Melissa Jeltsen has an article in the Huffington Post about a fuckup by the Air Force:

The Air Force said on Monday that it failed to record the Texas church shooter’s domestic violence conviction in a Federal database that would have kept him from buying a gun.
That glaring oversight allowed Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, to pass multiple background checks and legally purchase firearms. The stunning admission from the Air Force raises critical questions about coordination between the military and the Federal background check system that is designed to keep guns from those who have lost the right to purchase them.
On Sunday, Kelley opened fire on the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, east of San Antonio, Texas, killing nearly thirty people and wounding twenty others. He was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Kelley, who served at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, was convicted by a general court martial on two charges of domestic assault against his wife and stepson before being released with a bad conduct discharge in 2014.
Under Federal law, his conviction prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms, but it appears Kelley’s domestic violence offense was never entered into the Federal database that gun sellers use to check the criminal history of potential buyers.
“Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations,” Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson, said in a statement. She added that the Air Force will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly.
The Air Force statement reads in part:
The Air Force has launched a review of how it handled the criminal records of former Airman Devin P. Kelley following his 2012 domestic violence conviction. Kelley was convicted by a general court-martial on two charges of domestic assault against his wife and step-son under Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He then served twelve months in confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California before being released with a Bad Conduct Discharge in 2014. He was also reduced in grade to an E-1. Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction.
Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein directed a complete review of the Kelley case by the Air Force Office of the Inspector General. The Air Force will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly. The Air Force has also requested that the Department of Defense Inspector General review records and procedures across the Department of Defense.
A spokesperson for Academy Sports + Outdoors, a sporting and hunting goods store, told the Huffington Post that Kelley purchased firearms at two of their locations, in 2016 and 2017. On both occasions, the sales were approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. If his domestic violence conviction had been logged in the system, Kelley would have been flagged as prohibited from purchasing guns.
While in the Air Force, Kelley was found guilty of strangling his then-wife by putting his hands around her neck, as well as striking her, pulling her hair, and kicking her on multiple occasions between June of 2011 and April of 2012.
He was also found guilty of striking a child under the age of sixteen on the head and body “with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm”. Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force, told The New York Times that Kelley assaulted his stepson “severely enough that he fractured his skull.” He was also accused of pointing a loaded firearm at his wife, but that charge was dismissed.
It appears that domestic violence was a thread through Kelley’s life. At least two ex-girlfriends told NBC that he stalked them after they ended relationships with him. His first wife filed for divorce in 2012, the same year Kelley was court-martialed for the abuse of her and her son. He was remarried in 2014.
Authorities said that he had been fighting with his current wife’s family and had sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law, who sometimes worshipped at the Sutherland Springs church. Among his victims was his wife’s grandmother.
“There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws,” said Freeman Martin, a regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In some ways, Kelley’s profile is not that unusual. In the US, most mass shootings involve domestic violence, according to research from Everytown for Gun Safety, although many incidents do not make national news.
In fifty-four percent of mass shootings from 2009 to 2016, defined as incidents in which four or more people were fatally shot, not including the perpetrator, the gunman shot a current or former intimate partner or family member. Everytown also found that, in nearly half of these cases, the killer exhibited warning signs, such as recent acts of violence, threats, or violation of a protective order.
Rico says somebody deserves another court-martial for failing to log his... (And didn't these women ask any questions before marrying this asshole?)

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