April 29, 2017 in 4,128 words

John Hickenlooper Discusses Marijuana With Jeff Sessions, Chuck Todd


Governor John Hickenlooper and a group of other governors met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week while in Washington, D.C., for the National Governors Association Winter Meeting. On their agenda? Marijuana.

“We approached Attorney General Sessions with the notion that if we’re going to make changes, we should do it together and kind of collaborate on it,” he told Chuck Todd on MSNBC Meet the Press Daily on April 26.

Hickenlooper wound up meeting with Sessions for an hour. The AG didn’t beat around the bush, and said that he felt strongly that more people using marijuana is “unhealthy for the country,” Hickenlooper recalled.

Even so, Hickenlooper told Todd that Sessions “certainly listened” as Colorado’s governor reported that “we haven’t seen a big spike in consumption, we haven’t seen a significant increase in teenage consumption or any of these things.”

Stephen Colbert congratulates America on surviving Trump’s first 100 days

Congratulations! If you’re reading this—and you’re not some kind of just-born, hyper-intelligent “boss baby” capable of reading online pop culture news—you’re just a weekend away from successfully surviving the first 100 days of the Trump administration. In order to commemorate the event, Stephen Colbert devoted part of his Late Show monologue tonight to looking back at everything that’s been accomplished in the past three-and-some-change months. Not by the Trump camp, obviously—they’ve been too busy realizing that running an entire country is harder than being a reality TV show-hosting Twitter troll—but by the rest of us.

“America’s never been better in my opinion,” said Colbert—who’s seen a personal rise in his fortunes since the inauguration, with the political climate getting people back in his late-night ratings corner. “La La Land and Moonlight won best picture—that’s twice the best picture in one year. And Bill O’Reilly got fired and now has to sexually harass people freelance.” It’s a pretty standard Colbert pep talk, mixing in plenty of jokes with just a hint of actual sincerity. “The point is,” he notes, hinting at all the protests and charitable donations that have cropped up from the outraged and the defiant in the wake of the election, “A lot has been done in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, just none of it by him.”

Paul Krugman: Trump Is a Monster Straight Out of ‘The Twilight Zone’

The New York Times columnist compares the president to one of Rod Serling’s most memorable characters.

You’re entering another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind (or the total absence thereof). A journey into a wondrous land of Twitter screeds, voodoo economics and fever-swamp hysteria. There’s a platinum signpost up ahead. Your next stop, the Trump Zone.

In his Friday column, Paul Krugman likens our feckless president to one of Rod Serling’s most memorable characters. Based on a story by Jerome Bixby, “It’s a Good Life,” centers around a Midwestern family that lives in mortal terror of its youngest child, Anthony, who has the power to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on anyone who denies him his wishes. Those who dare challenge the boy are sent to the corn fields, so everyone from his parents and siblings to the neighboring townspeople pretend that life is completely normal, even joyous.

As Krugman observes, America operates much the same way under the Trump administration, with the president playing the part of the monstrous Anthony. Examples abound—earlier this month, he banished adviser Steve Bannon from the National Security Council for reasons unclear—but the New York Times columnist zeroes in on Trump’s newest tax plan, inasmuch as it qualifies as one. The single page document makes no mention of what income thresholds qualify for which tax rates or which tax exemptions might be eliminated. So why release such a slapdash proposal? The answer is as obvious as it is demoralizing

A very simple theory for why the House is struggling to repeal Obamacare

There are plenty of reasons Republicans can offer right now about why they can’t repeal Obamacare, such as the peculiar Senate rules that govern reconciliation, or the difficulty of drafting the actual legislation.

Byron York, however, offers today what is arguably the Occam’s razor theory of Obamacare repeal, the simplest explanation of why Republicans haven’t overturned President Obama’s health care law.

They don’t want to.

Writing in today’s Washington Examiner, York quotes a Republican legislator who tells him: “I thought we campaigned on repealing it. Now that it’s our turn, I’m finding there’s about 50 people who really don’t want to repeal Obamacare. They want to keep it.”

Common High Court Ground

The Supreme Court is looking for cases to curb abusive law enforcement seizures.

It’s been a rough year for the Supreme Court. While the court tried to avoid controversial cases and to reach consensus whenever possible, the Republican Senate blockade of Merrick Garland and the tense process around Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation made it look more partisan than any time since Bush v. Gore. Fortunately, though, the court appears to have found a new issue on which to find common ground and attempt to rebuild public confidence: curbing civil forfeiture abuses and other property seizures by police. That may not sound like the sexiest topic, but it’s one that is at the heart of one of the most controversial areas of law enforcement.

Last week, in a case called Nelson v. Colorado, the court laid a foundation for upcoming challenges to roll back law enforcement overreach. As a result of respective 2005 and 2006 convictions, Louis Alonzo Maddon and Shannon Nelson were required to pay a few thousand dollars in court costs, fees, and restitution to Colorado (on top of serving prison time). But Nelson and Maddon ultimately had those respective convictions invalidated. They both then asked for refunds on those paid costs. But the Colorado Supreme Court held that to obtain refunds, a state law called the Exoneration Act required them first to file separate civil court proceedings—where they would have to pay for their own lawyer or find one to represent them for free—and prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that they were “actually innocent.” The “actual innocence” standard would force them to bear the enormous burden of proving a negative, to demonstrate “by clear and convincing evidence” that they had not committed the crimes in question.

A succinct majority opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan—reversed the Colorado Supreme Court, holding that Colorado’s demanding scheme for refunding money to exonerated defendants violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. (Justice Alito wrote a separate concurring opinion, while Justice Thomas dissented.) Ginsburg wrote: “once their convictions were erased, the presumption of innocence was restored. … Colorado may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, nonetheless guilty enough for monetary exactions.” This makes sense to anyone who’s ever seen an episode of Law & Order and thus knows that a criminal defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. It follows that if a conviction is invalidated, the defendant hasn’t been proven guilty and he or she is once again presumed innocent.

Why I’m a communist—and why you should be, too

X Marx The Spot


Wearing your heart on your shoulder.

In the short preamble to The Communist Manifesto, one of history’s most widely read texts, you can tell that the authors have had it, right up to their beards. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were clearly sick of explaining that communism was not a synonym for evil or naivety, but a historical stage vital to the flourishing of all. In 1848, they demanded an immediate end to fearful European talk about the “specter” of communism. But, more than a century and a half later, the jittery gossip about communism continues.

Marx may have been one of the world’s most influential thinkers. His work, however, is now barely taught in the West. We might have scant knowledge of Marx these days, but we do retain enormous confidence that his ideas crumbled into dust along with the Berlin Wall.

Well. They didn’t. That wall never contained communism. And, heck, communism contains some ideas that are still very appealing, especially in times such as now when an economic downturn has been felt by so many.

Communism is a system of social organization that has never been truly tried and, these days, never truly explained. Yet it inspires fear in some, derision in others, and an almost universal unconcern for what it is actually intended to convey.

WHAT BULLETS DO TO BODIES

The gun debate would change in an instant if Americans witnessed the horrors that trauma surgeons confront every day.

The first thing Dr. Amy Goldberg told me is that this article would be pointless. She said this on a phone call last summer, well before the election, before a tangible sensation that facts were futile became a broader American phenomenon. I was interested in Goldberg because she has spent 30 years as a trauma surgeon, almost all of that at the same hospital, Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia, which treats more gunshot victims than any other in the state and is located in what was, according to one analysis, the deadliest of the 10 largest cities in the country until last year, with a homicide rate of 17.8 murders per 100,000 residents in 2015.

Over my years of reporting here, I had heard stories about Temple’s trauma team. A city prosecutor who handled shooting investigations once told me that the surgeons were able to piece people back together after the most horrific acts of violence. People went into the hospital damaged beyond belief and came walking out.

That stuck with me. I wondered what surgeons know about gun violence that the rest of us don’t. We are inundated with news about shootings. Fourteen dead in San Bernardino, six in Michigan, 11 over one weekend in Chicago. We get names, places, anguished Facebook posts, wonky articles full of statistics on crime rates and risk, Twitter arguments about the Second Amendment—everything except the blood, the pictures of bodies torn by bullets. That part is concealed, sanitized. More than 30,000 people die of gunshot wounds each year in America, around 75,000 more are injured, and we have no visceral sense of what physically happens inside a person when he’s shot. Goldberg does.

SILICON VALLEY MURDER MYSTERY: HOW DRUGS AND PARANOIA DOOMED SILK ROAD

Silk Road once reigned as the Internet’s premier destination for drug deals and even more illicit fare. But as the Web site became a billion-dollar enterprise, its creator, Ross Ulbricht, went from idealistic to dangerous. An adaptation from Nick Bilton’s new book shows how the empire collapsed.


KILLER APP
Ross Ulbricht, founder of the underground drug-commerce Web site the Silk Road.

I. “YOU’RE SITTING IN THE BIG CHAIR . . .”

Ross Ulbricht had imagined that it might all come down to this one day. That at some point during the prodigious rise of his hot tech start-up he would be obliged to make a terrifyingly ruthless decision. Now, in early 2013, the time had arrived. The question was rather simple: Was he ready to kill someone to protect his billion-dollar company?

The technology business has long purported to change the world and make it a better place. But, in reality, there is a decidedly more cynical underside to all this euphoria. In Silicon Valley, after all, many founders will often do whatever is necessary to protect their creations—whether that means paying a hefty legal settlement to hush the people who helped hatch the idea for their company in the first place (Facebook, Square, Snapchat), callously vanquishing a co-founder (Twitter, Foursquare, Tinder), or remorselessly breaking laws and putting thousands of people out of work (Uber, Airbnb, among hundreds of others). But, for Ulbricht, the price was steeper. In order to save his beloved start-up, the Silk Road, an Amazon-like “everything store” for the Dark Web, he needed to “call on my muscle,” as he put it to one associate. He needed to have a guy whacked.

Ulbricht hadn’t intended for it to all come down to this. The Silk Road, like many start-ups, had begun simply enough, in 2011, as a college curiosity. As a rakishly handsome wanderlust kid from central Texas, Ulbricht had traveled north, away from his small life. He matriculated at Penn State University, where he studied materials science and engineering, and acquired interests not uncommon among contrarian millennials—particularly those who enter the technology business. Ulbricht, now 33, developed an affinity for Ayn Rand books and libertarian philosophy; he appeared to view the world not as it was, per se, but as he wanted it to be. Like Uber co-founder and C.E.O. Travis Kalanick, or early Facebook investor (and Donald Trump supporter) Peter Thiel, both of whom had been fans of Rand, Ulbricht adhered to a particularly defiant strain of Randian dogma: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

A case about citizenship draws laughter and lively banter at the Supreme Court


The U.S. Supreme Court’s final case this term was expected to be a highly technical argument on immigration law, but it wound up pulling back the curtain a bit on the justices’ personalities and how they interact. John Yang takes a closer look with Robert Barnes of The Washington Post.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: The U.S. Supreme Court’s final case this term was expected to be a highly technical argument on immigration law, but it wound up pulling back the curtain a little on the justices’ personalities, and how they interact with each other.

John Yang has the details of listening in on court arguments.

JOHN YANG: Here to walk us through some of the key moments during Wednesday’s oral arguments is Robert Barnes. He has covered the Supreme Court for The Washington Post for more than a decade. And he also had the misfortune of being my editor at The Post.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN YANG: But, Bob, thanks for coming in.

ROBERT BARNES, The Washington Post: It’s good to be here.

JOHN YANG: In a nutshell, Bob, what was this case about?

ROBERT BARNES: Well, this is a case about a woman from Bosnia who claimed persecution, was admitted to this country, became a naturalized citizen.

And then it turned out she had lied on some of her applications. Specifically, she had said that her husband was trying to avoid military service. It turned out he had been in a Bosnian militia unit that had been charged with some war crimes.

It took Toshiba 70 years to reach its peak—and just a decade to fall into an abyss

Faded Glory

One of Japan’s former tech giants is in the emergency room and struggling to stay alive, saying earlier this month that it doubted its “ability to continue as a going concern.” Its most recent hospital visit was caused by a disastrous acquisition. But its overall health has deteriorated over the past two decades, as it failed to age gracefully into a new global economy.

Sitting beside it are Sony, Olympus, Hitachi, and other Japanese tech conglomerates, sharing memories of glory days long past, when Japan was a global technology leader, as they reckon with the possibility they might be the next one on life support. Japanese government officials stand by, contemplating plans to extend its life. Friends from overseas have flown in too, mainly to make sure they’re on the will and inherit something valuable.

On Monday Toshiba announced it would spin off four business units. All might be for the taking from a company that, in just 10 years, went from being a storied manufacturer of cutting-edge gadgets to a maker of, well, just stuff.

Mystery Of Antarctica’s Blood Falls Is Finally Solved


Blood Falls at the mouth of Taylor Glacier in East Antarctica

The longstanding mystery surrounding Antarctica’s Blood Falls has finally been solved. The deep red falls were first discovered in Antarctica in 1911 where scientists noticed a river had stained the surrounding cliff of ice with a dark red color. Previously, they had believed it was due to algae discoloring the water, however that hypothesis was never verified.

Now, thanks to research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we know the true origin of the Blood Falls flowing from the Taylor Glacier. The deep red coloring is due to oxidized iron in brine saltwater, the same process that gives iron a dark red color when it rusts. When the iron bearing saltwater comes into contact with oxygen the iron oxidizes and takes on a red coloring, in effect dying the water to a deep red color.

The research team transected the glacier in a grid using radio-echo sounding (RES) to map out the features below the glacier. Thankfully, the super saturated brine that makes up the river allows for a stark density contrast in RES compared to the non-saline (fresh) ice. The research team calculates that the brine water takes approximately 1.5 million years to finally reach the Blood Falls as it makes its way through fissures and channels in the glacier.

Experts Assert That AI Will Soon Be Replacing CEOs


Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of popular e-commerce service Alibaba, is warning us that the next 30 years of technological development may bring us more anguish than happiness.

WHO’S THE MA

Automation is changing society as we know it. The precipitating effects of artificial intelligence (AI) seem like a double-edged blade. While it’s certainly exciting to see robots manipulate their environment with a hive mind, it’s equally as terrifying to think about what these advancements mean for society over time.

It’s an even stronger cause for concern when billionaire innovators like Alibaba’s founder and chairman, Jack Ma, tell us to prepare for more “pain than happiness” in the coming decades due to the impact of AI and the internet. Ma has spoken at several entrepreneurship conferences on the topic, he believes that “social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life.”

These “social conflicts” may potentially arise from the job disruptions caused by evolving automation. The Chinese businessman, who has a net worth of around $30 billion, explained his previous forecast of e-commerce taking traditional businesses by storm when he was lesser known — and it looks like he was right.

Now Ma is saying that in 30 years, “the Time Magazine cover for the best CEO of the year very likely will be a robot. It remembers better than you, it counts faster than you, and it won’t be angry with competitors.”

We analyzed every “Modern Love” column from the past 10 years. Here’s what we learned about love

true Romance

People have been telling love stories for thousands of years. But in 2004, a new romantic subgenre was born—in the form of the New York Times’ wildly popular “Modern Love” column.

A typical “Modern Love” column is no more representative of how the average person falls in love than Romeo and Juliet. Naturally, the stories that appear in the paper tend to be dramatic. (Deadly diseases and trips to the emergency room are recurring features.) And the columns are disproportionately written by professional writers, which means the stories are evenly paced, and cleanly structured, in a way that love often isn’t.

Still, the column can reveal a lot about our cultural attitudes toward romance and heartbreak. As graduate students in economics and computer science, we decided to use statistics to analyze every “Modern Love” column published over the past 10 years—with the goal of identifying patterns in how romantic narratives take shape. Here’s what we learned.

Genius Vacuum-Hating Dog Figured Out How to Turn Off Its Owner’s Roomba

Dogs are some of the most loving and affectionate pets you can own, but they do have one sworn enemy: vacuum cleaners. They’ll incessantly bark, or run and hide while you’re cleaning your floors. But one dog adapted to its owner’s Roomba wandering all over the house like it owns the place—it’s apparently learned how to turn the damn thing off.

We’ve seen before how pets and Roombas aren’t exactly the ideal roommates, and this is yet another example of how you might just want to stick with sweeping your floors if you own a dog. An autonomous robot vacuum isn’t much good if it only gets about five feet from its charging dock before your pup runs up and turns it off.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Bernie Sanders reflects on the failures and broken campaign promises of Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the oval office.

Tallying the accomplishments of Donald Trump, the candidate who promised so much.

VICE News Tonight takes an unfiltered look at Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, in stories told by the people who have the most to gain or lose from Trump’s administration.

We spoke with people who are truly hopeful and feel validated. With people whose safety and liberty is at stake. And we talked to the insiders who understand what it’s like to work with the most powerful person in the world. After all, the first hundred days (and the next hundred, and the next hundred after that) are not about what the president says in 140 characters. What matters is the impact of his policies on people across the country and the world.

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

During the first 100 days of President Trump’s time in the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer mastered the art of counting.

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

Bill reacts to Trumps “accomplishments” during his first 100 days in office in his Real Time monologue.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joins Bill to discuss her new book, “This Fight Is Our Fight,” and her progressive vision for America.

Bill and his Real Time panelists – Rob Reiner, Nick Hanauer and Tara Setmayer – discuss the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

THANKS to HBO and Real Time with Bill Maher for making this program available on YouTube.

It’s prom season and no one’s promposal is more romantic than Kimmy J’s.

Google founder Larry Page’s new invention is nothing like the flying cars we were promised by science fiction movies.

THANKS to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

According to an upcoming Google survey, these things that will be ‘lit’ for Generation Z: water, bone armor, and other resources necessary for survival.

If you have to go to a music festival, at least do it right…

THANKS to Comedy Network and The Beaverton for making this program available on YouTube.

In this segment of On Location, witness the painful conclusion to Coyote’s experience with the Lionfish sting!

In addition to witnessing the effects of the sting itself Coyote will also show you the cure…at least he hopes…

The Lionfish has quickly become one the most destructive invasive species to marine life on the East coast of the United States and if that’s not enough they also have an extremely painful venom they often violently spike into unsuspecting divers and fisherman. Yikes!

So how painful is the Lionfish sting and what happens if you are unfortunately stung yourself? Well Coyote Peterson is once again putting himself in the “sting zone” to find out and educate people about this beautiful yet venomous little fish.

Thank you for joining us On Location! In these segments you will get a behind the scenes look at all of the fun and exciting things Coyote and team experience on their adventures when they’re NOT encountering wildlife…or at least not by choice!

FINALLY . . .

Fifteen Women Street Artists You Need to Know in Denver


Sandra Fettingis’s mural at an abandoned car wash called Project Colfax.


In the macho graffiti and street-art arenas, women’s perspectives are not just welcome, but necessary. The styles represented by each of the Denver artists in our list below are neither delicate nor flimsy, but supremely badass. An outdoor canvas gives each piece’s message an urgency and power that’s lacking in similar works framed on a gallery wall.

Like most Denver creatives, these women have a wide range of vocations, from full-time gallery staff to graffiti artists, business owners, curators, world travelers and even spiritual healers. Here are fifteen street and studio artists who kick ass and just happen to be women.


A modest Anna Charney stands next to a recent street-art piece painted in the RiNo Art District.

Ed. More tomorrow. Possibly. Maybe.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Mom & Dad.