April 12, 2017 in 4,529 words

Attorney Hans Meyer Speaks Up for Denver’s Immigrant Community

It was another busy morning at the Meyer Law Office, with clients scheduled back to back for consultations on immigration and criminal cases. But around 9 a.m. on February 16, the firm’s founder and lead attorney, Hans Meyer, received a Facebook message that demanded immediate action.

A Denver defense attorney and friend of Meyer’s who was at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse had spotted what she believed to be multiple Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stalking its hallways.

“We’ll be down there in five minutes!” Meyer shot back.

The tip was exactly what Meyer had been waiting for. Having had multiple clients arrested by ICE agents inside local courthouses over the years, he’d been appalled to hear lawyers with the Denver City Attorney’s Office state at two community forums that month that the city had no knowledge of ICE using Denver’s courthouses to apprehend people.

Meyer not only knew it was happening, but he understood that ICE’s infiltration of the courts could have a chilling effect on the judicial system: Afraid of being picked up, non-citizens might not show up for their own trials or to testify as witnesses in other cases.

Congressman Who Shouted ‘You Lie’ at Obama Hears the Same From Constituents

Representative Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who gained a measure of infamy after shouting “you lie” at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress in 2009, had that memorable catchphrase hurled back at him by a group of his constituents at a town hall event on Monday.

The audience at the event, held at Aiken Technical College in Graniteville, S.C., near the state’s western border, was antagonistic from the start, booing audibly as he stepped to the lectern. But the conflict between Mr. Wilson and the crowd came to a head toward the end of the 40-minute question-and-answer period, when he responded to a question about Mr. Obama’s health care law.

After he said the law was delaying and denying health services to its intended recipients, the rest of his comments were drowned out, as the crowd began to chant “you lie” in unison. The cheer continued for about 20 seconds. A video of the event was posted on Facebook Live.

The Fake News Story No One’s Talking About

Reporter Kevin Deutsch has been accused of fabricating sources in stories for major publications – so where’s the outrage?

Donald Trump is right, yet nobody is talking about it. Not even Donald Trump.

And that is baffling.

For all the Salem-esque hunting of media witches by the president and his angry mob, there is a “fake news” scandal just waiting for someone to take a match to it: A mainstream reporter accused of fabricating sources in at least eight news articles, along with nearly the entire plot of a recently published nonfiction book. Three major news organizations in the process of reviewing hundreds of the same reporter’s stories. The New York Times issuing an editor’s note admitting it could not confirm the existence of two sources the reporter used in a story it published in December.

Haven’t heard about it? Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Try finding a mention of it on right-wing outposts such as Breitbart or the Daily Caller. Do the same on left-leaners like CNN or the Huffington Post. You’ll come up empty. And that would appear puzzling, until you realize it’s actually quite troubling.

Top 10 Facts About The Apollo Mission That NASA Wanted To Keep Secret

Getting to the Moon was a fantastic achievement, and the technology was amazing. It also had the added complication of involving human beings.

At the time, the astronauts and rocket engineers were often portrayed as almost superhuman. In reality, they were just as flawed as the rest of us, so not everything that happened fitted in with NASA’s corporate image and public relations plan.

10. Images Of Playboy Playmates Were Flown To The Moon

Alan Bean and Pete Conrad were about two and a half hours into the second moon walk of Apollo 12, when Bean turned the next page of his checklist book. He saw something he was not expecting.

On the one page was the usual list of tasks, but on the facing page was a topless young lady smiling up at him. To be precise, he was looking at a picture of Miss December 1968 from Playboy magazine. A caption had been added: “Don’t forget—describe the protuberances.”

Conrad had one of his own, and each astronaut also found a second playboy picture later in the checklist books. The additions had been made by Dave Scott, the back-up commander, and the books also contained some cartoons by Ernie Reyes, head of NASA pre-flight operations.

Ruins, Not Reefs: How Climate Change Is Fast-Forwarding Coral Science

“It’s a complete change in the phenomenon that all of us study.”

At about the same moment that millions of Americans sat staring at their television or laptop or phone—watching the results from the presidential election stream in, seeing state after state called for Donald Trump—Kim Cobb was SCUBA diving near the center of the Pacific Ocean. She did not watch the same trickle of news as other Americans. She surfaced, heard the results, and dove in the water again. She was, after all, attending to devastation.

Cobb is a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. On November 8, she was on her most recent of many research trips to Kiritimati Island reef, the largest coral atoll in the world. (Kirimati is pronounced like Christmas.) She first began studying the reef in 1997, during the last big El Niño warming event; she has returned nearly every year since. Last year, she went three times.

“We had been waiting for the big one. And boy… did it happen,” she told me earlier this year. “It really rolled out at an unprecedented magnitude. This particular El Niño event had its maximum temperature loading almost in a bulls-eye almost around Kirimati Island.”

How the Dodger baseball stadium shaped LA – and revealed its divisions

When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles 60 years ago, the construction of their stadium was meant to forge the city’s rise to modernity. Instead it provoked a racially charged battle of eviction and protest that shaped LA for decades to come.

On 10 April 1962, amid ceremony and celebration, Dodger Stadium, major league baseball’s modern showpiece, opened in Los Angeles. It was a day of pride and accomplishment for Walter O’Malley, the 58-year-old owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had moved his team from New York in 1957 in order to build the ballpark of his dreams, one with every possible amenity and convenience. Now here it stood in the former Chavez Ravine neighbourhood, a beautiful setting overlooking downtown Los Angeles to the south and the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.

The city of Los Angeles also had reason to be proud. It had attracted the Brooklyn Dodgers, a storied and successful baseball franchise, with the promise of the finest stadium in America. Here it was, adorned in vibrant earth-to-sky colours, with unobstructed field views and the biggest and most technologically advanced scoreboard in the game. It was already being called the wonder of the baseball world, a grand civic monument befitting a world-class city. O’Malley, the Dodgers and Los Angeles had done it.

But at what cost? Between 1957 and opening day 1962, Dodger Stadium divided Los Angeles in deep and profound ways. It raised the question of the city’s modern identity: how would it best serve and govern its citizens? How would it present itself to the nation and world?

Top 10 Recently Uncovered Facts About The Murdered Romanovs

The first and last royal family of Russia was the Romanovs. Tsar Nicholas II had four daughters and one son. His daughters were Anastasia Nikolaevna, Olga Nikolaevna, Tatiana Nikolaevna, and Maria Nikolaevna. His son was Alexei Nikolaevich.

The absolute rulers of Russia took the throne in 1613 and left the throne in 1917. Since this powerful family ruled for three centuries, this time in history is now called the Romanov dynasty.

The imperial family had an extensive line of relatives who could take control of the throne. In 1918, after the Bolsheviks killed off the Romanovs, speculations began to rise. People started spreading rumors that not all the relatives had been executed that night in Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains.

Today, there are strong beliefs throughout the world that two Romanov kids escaped and that descendants from the Romanov bloodline may be living in the present day.

10. Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova

Anastasia Romanova was the youngest of Tsar Nicholas II’s four daughters. In 1918, when the Bolsheviks murdered the Romanovs, rumors started spreading that Anastasia might have escaped because they could not find her remains buried with the rest of her family.

Throughout the world, many people changed their identities to act like Anastasia. One famous impostor was Anna Anderson. Some people believed that she was Polish.

Anderson acted like Anastasia, which started rumors that Anastasia was alive. Many people also changed their identities to act like her brother or even her sister. This caused speculation to rise all over the world, especially among the Russian people.

Many people believed that siblings Anastasia, Maria, and Alexei—as well as the rest of Anastasia’s family—were still alive. After many years, several people discovered gravesites. Initially, it could not be confirmed whether Anastasia’s remains were in there. Many historians never knew for sure if the Bolsheviks killed Anastasia.

Mystery of why shoelaces come undone unravelled by science

You put on your shoes, tie them as firmly as possible, but soon after the laces come undone.

Now scientists think they know what causes one of life’s knotty problems.

They found the force of a foot striking the ground stretches and then relaxes the knot, while a second force caused by the leg swinging acts on the ends of the laces, like an invisible hand.

The researchers say an understanding of shoelaces can be applied to other structures, such as DNA.

Using a slow-motion camera and a series of experiments, mechanical engineers at University California Berkeley found “shoelace knot failure” happens in a matter of seconds, triggered by a complex interaction of forces.

Google’s AutoDraw turns your clumsy scribbles into art

… by replacing it with a better drawing from a talented artist.

Google wants to help you get in touch with your inner Picasso. Today, it’s launching AutoDraw, a web-based tool that uses machine learning to turn your hamfisted doodling into art. It’s similar to, but clearly far more advanced than, Android Wear’s ability to recognize a crudely drawn smiley face and replace it with an emoji.

The app is free and it works on any phone, computer or tablet. It’s pretty straightforward: draw your best version of a cake, for example, and the auto suggestion tool will try to guess what that amorphous blob actually is. Then, you can choose from a number of better looking cakes made by talented artists. Or, if amorphous blob is actually what you were striving for, you can turn off the auto suggestions and doodle away.


Kim M. asks: How do they decide when Easter is?

The holiday of Easter is celebrated by over two billion Christians globally. Marking the day that Jesus rose from the dead, it’s always commemorated on a Sunday in the spring. Despite this, the exact date has consistently changed throughout the many centuries the holiday has been recognized. Additionally, various sects of Christianity (most prominently the Greek Orthodox Church) often celebrate Easter on a totally different date than their peers. Why is that? Why is there no set date for Easter and how do they ultimately decide the date of Easter each year? The rather complex answer has a lot to do with the differences in the solar and lunar calendars.

Easter’s roots could date back to before Jesus’s birth, perhaps even having pagan origins. Some scholars believe that the English word “Easter” comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, who represented spring, plantings, new beginnings and fertility. Much like how Christmas matches up with the winter solstice, there’s thought that Easter was intentionally lined up with the spring equinox to encourage those more comfortable with pagan traditions to join Christianity. While many scholars and Christian historians deny this connection, there’s compelling evidence that Christianity adopted other religion’s traditions in order to make their religion more accepted. Influenced by paganism, Greco-Roman religions, Judaism, Islam and even Buddhism, Christianity (like all other religions) did not exist in a vacuum and many of the elements that are practiced today were a product of the ancient world’s intermingling of cultures. For example, in some parts of the world lamb is traditionally eaten on Easter, with the roots of this tradition in Jewish Passover feasts. In fact, the Greek/Latin variant of the word “Easter” is “pascha,” which is loosely translated to “Passover” in English.

Microsoft finally says goodbye to Windows Vista

Vista support ends today

Microsoft is bidding farewell to Windows Vista, more than 10 years after it first debuted. Support for Windows Vista ends today, meaning users will have to move to a more recent version of Windows to remain secure. It’s the end of an era for an operating system that arrived late to the market with widespread criticisms.

Codenamed Longhorn, Windows Vista was originally supposed to revolutionize Windows with a new file system and user interface. Microsoft’s development of Longhorn spiraled out of control, and the company was forced to reset its plans and focus on shipping a stable version of Windows in the middle of its development phase. Microsoft had ambitious ideas for Windows Vista in the years leading up to its release, including a new Windows Future Storage (WinFS) file system.

WinFS was eventually canceled, but Microsoft had attempted to turn the Windows file system into a giant database that could be searched quickly, with linked data sets and related relationships between files mapped out by the system. It was a big task that ultimately failed for Vista, and Microsoft ended up integrating parts of WinFS into its SQL Server product.

Poo sediments record Antarctic ‘penguin Pompeii’

The perilous history of a penguin colony on a small Antarctic island has been recorded in their excrement.

For thousands of years, the birds have nested on the Ardley outcrop where their poop, or guano, would collect at the bottom of a lake.

But when scientists drilled into these sediments, they got quite a surprise.

Interspersed with the layers of penguin waste were thick sections of volcanic ash, indicating the Ardley birds were frequently decimated by eruptions.

“What causes the biggest declines in the penguins is the volcanic activity on nearby Deception Island,” explained Stephen Roberts from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

7 Reasons We’re Quietly Letting Racists Win

You’re not a racist, right?

Good. So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the internet puked a bunch of white nationalist factoids in my face a while back. It was stuff like …

* Black crime rates are drastically higher everywhere, even in places with no history of slavery, institutional racism, or European colonialism, such as Ethiopia and Liberia.

* Blacks score lower on average on every intelligence test ever devised, and are far more likely to show criminal or antisocial personality traits.

* Only 5 percent of black people say they “often” experience discrimination, and 30 percent say they “never” experience discrimination. Among whites, those numbers are almost identical. In fact, 43 percent of blacks say that the reason they struggle is “lack of motivation to work hard” (only 30 percent of whites will say this about black people).

* In Sweden, immigrants from Africa and the Middle East have a crime rate up to 500 percent higher than native citizens. The same is true in Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK, from the limited data available to us — those governments actively suppress even the gathering of such statistics.

* Muslims around the world overwhelmingly say that homosexuality, abortion, and even drinking alcohol are all morally unacceptable, and that women should “always” obey their husbands — openly rejecting progressive American ideals at every turn.

* Muslims around the globe also report bitterly unfavorable opinions of Jews, say that they do not make friends with non-Muslims and overwhelmingly believe it’s unacceptable for Muslims to marry outside the faith — all of which make it impossible to assimilate into Western society.

That’s a small sample of the list. The people who call themselves “race realists” can whip out volumes upon volumes of this stuff on command, complete with colorful graphs. As we recently mentioned, they often refer to such info dumps as “the Red Pill” that will wake any reader up to the reality that minorities are the proverbial murderous robots swarming around white people’s coma pods. Thousands of teenagers are reading material like this at this very moment, or listening to it on YouTube, all of it packaged as “The truth THEY don’t want you to know!”

Here’s my question:

Can you debunk those numbers up there without Googling them?

#7. A Generation Is Getting “Redpilled” As We Speak

Let’s say a kid — maybe your son — came up to you and dumped those links at your feet because he heard his favorite YouTube celebrity JonTron quoting them (and JonTron himself appears to be parroting a Red Pill factoid dump he’d recently encountered). How do you react?

Besides wondering what a “JonTron” is.

For most of the people reading this, merely seeing those stats gives you a nauseous feeling. These aren’t just ugly ideas; they’re genocidal. They bring to mind the sound of screaming minorities dragged from homes and the smell of humans in furnaces. It’s a physical, gut-level fear of an ancient defeated monster bursting up from its tomb.

So do you scold the kid, ask where he heard such awful things? Would you tell him that this “JonTron” character sounds like a racist Nazi and forbid him from ever watching again? Do you walk away confident that those labels will be sufficient to shut down those wayward thoughts, secure in your ruling that this is a Forbidden Subject?

Daily Show‘s Hasan Minhaj will host the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

The guest list for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner is probably short enough to allow most people an extra plus-one. Vanity Fair, Bloomberg, The New Yorker, and other outlets have backed out of events surrounding the big political gathering, which will also be devoid of its biggest target—Donald Trump declined the invitation, presumably to visit one of his properties for the umpteenth time this year. But the WHCD organizers aren’t giving up the ship, even though there’s an adjacent event that sounds pretty awesome. They’ve even managed to land another Comedy Central player as host—Time reports that The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj will emcee the event on April 29.

White House Correspondents’ Association president Jeff Mason (who’s covers the White House for Reuters) said he’s “thrilled” to have Minhaj oversee the big night. “Hasan’s smarts, big heart and passion for press freedom make him the perfect fit for our event, which will be focused on the First Amendment and the importance of a robust and independent media.” The Daily Show senior correspondent echoed those sentiments in his own statement about what “a tremendous honor [it is] to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD! Now more than ever, it is vital that we honor the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

Google’s Dueling Neural Networks Spar to Get Smarter, No Humans Required

The day Richard Feynman died, the blackboard in his classroom read: “What I cannot create, I do not understand.”

When Ian Goodfellow explains the research he’s doing at Google Brain, the central artificial intelligence lab at the internet’s most powerful company, he points to this aphorism from the iconic physicist, Caltech professor, and best-selling author. But Goodfellow isn’t referring to himself—or any other human being inside Google. He’s talking about the machines: “What an AI cannot create, it does not understand.”

Goodfellow is among the world’s most important AI researchers, and after a brief stint at OpenAI—the Google Brain competitor bootstrapped by Elon Musk and Sam Altman—he has returned to Google, building a new research group that explores “generative models.” These are systems that create photos, sounds, and other representations of the real world. Nodding to Feynman, Goodfellow describes this effort as an important path to all sorts of artificial intelligence.

Top 10 Bizarre Alibis Criminals Used To Explain Their Crimes

“Alibi” used to mean some sort of evidence that proved a person was elsewhere when a criminal act had taken place. However, thanks mostly to police shows, the term has become so prevalent that both the Oxford and Cambridge Dictionary consider it, informally, an excuse for something bad. That prevalence has made most criminals think they always need to have an alibi at the ready. In some cases, they were better off keeping their mouths shut.

10. Dieting

July 2010, US Army Reserve sergeant Rashad Valmont walked into the Fort Gillem office of his supervisor, Master Sergeant Pedro Mercado, and shot him six times. He then went looking for another superior, Sergeant Tracy Mosley, who fled when she heard the shots. When he couldn’t find her, Valmont got in his car, drove to a nearby police station, and turned himself in. He was facing a premeditated murder charge, but during his trial, his lawyer, William Cassara, presented an odd reason for Valmont shooting his supervisor six times: his diet.

According to Cassara, Valmont had been on a crash diet over the last few weeks and was suffering from diminished capacity. Furthermore, he claimed that Sgt. Mosley told Valmont to lose additional weight over the required minimum in order to be eligible for a course that the Reserve sergeant wanted to attend. According to his attorney, all of this effort left Valmont “dehydrated, exhausted and delirious.”

Delivery robots: a revolutionary step or sidewalk-clogging nightmare?

They’ve been called the ‘only sane solution’ for urban deliveries and are already being tested, but are pedestrians prepared to jostle for space?

Sharing a sidewalk with one of DoorDash’s delivery robots is a bit like getting stuck behind someone playing Pokémon Go on his smartphone. The robot moves a little bit slower than you want to; every few meters it pauses, jerking to the left or right, perhaps turning around, then turning again before continuing on its way.

These are the sidewalks of the future, technology evangelists promise. Autonomous delivery robots, once the exclusive purview of 1980s sci-fi movies, are coming to a city near you, with promises of reduced labor costs, increased efficiency, and the reduction of cars.

But as robot fleets proliferate – Starship robots perform food deliveries for DoorDash and Postmates in Redwood City, California, and Washington DC, while Marble robots will begin making deliveries for Yelp Eat24 in San Francisco on Wednesday – the question none of these companies seems to want to answer is this: are these the sidewalks that we actually want?

Sidewalk-traversing robots are one of several possible solutions to the pesky problem of “last-mile” logistics. Venture capitalists have poured millions into startups employing an army of independent contractors to provide instant gratification to urbanites. But the humans in this equation remain a significant cost, and innovators are looking to obviate them with automated solutions.

Who’s Peeing in the Global Pool?

A giant database of the underwater excretions of fish, frogs, and other creatures could help scientists understand the effects of fishing and climate change.

Compiling more than 10,000 lines of data on the waste products of aquatic animals, from lake trout to pond insects to ocean shellfish, was more time-consuming than the ecologist Michael Vanni expected. But he didn’t mind. “I love data on fish pee,” he says.

Vanni, of Miami University in Ohio, and his coauthor, Peter McIntyre, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, had plunged into the project for their own research. But they soon realized the giant dataset they put together could be a resource for other scientists, too—all that work on animal waste didn’t have to go to waste itself.

Why anyone cares about fish pee or frog pee or snail pee in the first place has to do with recycling. Nutrients in an ecosystem are used over and over again as they cycle through the food chain. In a forest, for example, when leaves fall to the ground, fungi and bacteria break them down and return their nutrients to the soil, where plants can use them again. Especially in aquatic environments, Vanni says, animals do a lot of this recycling. When fish excrete nitrogen and phosphorus, algae can take the molecules back up.


Rita H. asks: Why do we serve ham on Easter?

Under Jewish dietary laws (called kashrut), eating pork in any form is strictly forbidden. Jesus Christ was Jewish. So why, on the anniversary of his resurrection, do people traditionally serve ham? You’ll often read it’s because ham is supposedly a “Christian” meat, able to be consumed by Christians but not certain other prominent religious groups. However, the real reason is simply because it’s in season.

While modern food storage techniques and supermarkets with efficient and worldwide supply chains shield us from this fact somewhat, like fruits and vegetables, different meats also have seasons, and these depend on a variety of factors including what the animals were eating and when, where they were in their growth cycle, and the availability (or lack) of refrigeration.

With pigs and cows, before refrigeration, it simply made sense to slaughter them in the fall. Since it takes a fair amount of time to butcher a beast as large as a hog or steer, the cold temperatures helped keep the meat from going bad before it could be properly prepared.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Ronny Chieng breaks down how smart technologies leave always-connected users vulnerable to hacking and other unintended consequences.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.


Will Coffman Drop the Lawsuit Against Boulder’s Fracking Moratorium?

As Boulder County prepares to end its moratorium on fracking, its officials are wondering why a two-month-old lawsuit against the moratorium filed by the Colorado Attorney General is still in the works.

The suit is the last in a line of legal challenges to Boulder County’s temporary ban on new oil and gas development permits, which has been extended three times since Colorado’s Supreme Court struck down several Front Range fracking bans last May.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed the latest suit on February 14, 2017, seeking a court-ordered removal of the temporary fracking ban. With the moratorium ending on May 1, however, Boulder County officials don’t know why they’re still being sued.

Whereas cities like Fort Collins and Longmont quickly removed their fracking bans after the Supreme Court ruling, Boulder County repeatedly extended its moratorium in what Coffman believes is a violation of state law. David Hughes, the attorney leading Boulder’s defense, says the move ensured that the county had enough time to enact appropriate regulations.