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Holiday Gifts for 2018

By inkophile
Some excellent ideas for holiday gifts… 30 Gifts for Writers: The 2018 Writer’s Digest Holiday Gift Guide Fountain Pen Love: Gift Ideas For Fountain Pen Users The Well-Appointed Desk: Our Holiday Wish List: What we want for the holidays The Well-Appointed Desk: Our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide


NFL fans are losing it after the Dolphins beat the Patriots with a wild trick play

By Adam Rosenberg

Most fans of professional football that don't live in or have family ties to Boston hate the New England Patriots. Those people are very happy on this late-season Sunday.

It looked like a Patriots win was all but secured as the game clock ticked into its final seconds during an afternoon match-up against the Miami Dolphins. But that's when it happened, a real-deal NFL miracle. The "Miami Miracle," as it's now been dubbed.

Miami, down by 5 points with just seven seconds to go, delivered the most unexpected touchdown play. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to see at the end of a sports movie, when the underdog team completely trips up the reigning champs by pulling off a trick play that nobody saw coming. Read more...

More about Entertainment, Sports, Nfl, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins

'What Straight-A Students Get Wrong'

By msmash
From a story: Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A's. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers. I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong. The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem -- it's more about finding the right problem to solve.

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Google's Mountain View development plans include affordable housing

Google is still tweaking its Mountain View expansion plans, and the public just got a clearer glimpse of what those changes could entail. The city has published a Google development proposal for the North Bayshore area that would at least partially...

First Male Transgender Pro Boxer Wins Debut Fight

By Tara Law

The first professional transgender male boxer in U.S. history made his pro debut on Saturday— with a decisive win.

Patricio Manuel, 33, defeated Mexican super-featherweight Hugo Aguilar in a bout at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reported. The judges unanimously ruled Manuel the victor.

Although the bout only lasted for 12 minutes, Manuel’s journey to the fight began years ago, the Times reported.

Manuel decided to transition to become a man a few months after he fought in the 2012 Olympic trials as a woman.

In addition to complex medical treatments, including surgery and hormone therapy, Manuel faced added challenges to preserve his boxing career. Besides working to get a new license, Manuel also lost his coach and his training facility, which were unwilling to work with him after his transition, the Times said.

Manuel told the Times that he was excited to be in the ring.

“I wouldn’t trade any of it. It was worth everything I went through to get to this point,” he said. “I’m a professional boxer now.”

Manuel told an interviewer after the bout that he is determined to keep moving forward.

“I’ve got some naysayers out there— I need to prove that I deserve to be in there as well. I’m not in here for one show, one fight— this is something I love. I’m not done with this sport and I’ll be back,” Manuel said.

Aguilar, who had learned that his opponent was transgender two days before the fight, reportedly handled his defeat with grace.

“For me it’s very respectable,” he told the Times in Spanish. “It doesn’t change anything for me. In the ring, he wants to win and I want to win too.”

"It's a funny thing when just living your truth becomes historic."

Patricio Manuel gets his first win as a professional boxer @fantasysprings. #GoldenBoyFN. Congratulations!

— Golden Boy Boxing (@GoldenBoyBoxing) December 9, 2018

Boxing gloves hanging in boxing ring

Nick Ayers says NOPE: Trump pick to replace John Kelly will not be new WH chief of staff

By Xeni Jardin

Smart guy. Has 6-year-old triplets. Knows a shitshow when he smells one.

Nick Ayers, who is currently Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff, will NOT become the next Next White House Chief of Staff.

NEWS — Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers Won’t Be Next White House Staff Chief -- Sources

— Michael C. Bender (@MichaelCBender) December 9, 2018

Nick Ayers, the leading candidate to replace John Kelly as chief of staff, won’t take the job, I’m told. He and Trump could not agree to terms. Trump pushed Ayers to commit to 2 years, but he declined, citing young kids & desire to move back to GA. Unclear who will take the job.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 9, 2018

Ayers was Donald Trump's first choice as a candidate to replace outgoing chief of staff John Kelly.

He also tweeted the news himself.

Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. 🇺🇸#Georgia

— Nick Ayers (@nick_ayers) December 9, 2018

He has triplets, and that is the reason given for why Ayers will not be taking the job, a White House official told the Wall Street Journal, and later CNN and other outlets, on Sunday.


It was unclear on Sunday who would succeed John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s current chief of staff, who is leaving the job this month. White House officials familiar with the planning said it was unclear whether the next staff chief would come from inside or outside the administration.

Mr. Ayers has long planned to leave the administration at the end of the year.

And CNN:

Ayers, who has served as Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff for more than a year, is not taking the position because the President and Ayers could not agree to terms, the official said. Trump pushed Ayers to commit to two years on the job, but he declined. He has young children, he told the President, and wants to move back to his home state of Georgia. He offered to become chief of staff temporarily, but Trump insisted on a two-year commitment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Ayers would not be taking the job as Trump's chief of staff.

Trump told reporters Saturday that Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general and Trump's previous secretary of homeland security, will leave at the end of year.

Ayers leaving administration, potentially taking role with America First, the outside group backing Trump. He would not agree to the long-term that Trump wanted, as his family heads back to Georgia

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 9, 2018

NEM#87: Chris Cacavas Fronts His Depression

By Mark Linsenmayer
Chris rose to fame on keys for Arizona's country punks Green on Red from '81–'87, and has since then been fronted 12 albums while doing session keyboard work. We discuss "Pale Blonde Hell" by Chris Cacavas and Junkyard Love from Pale Blonde Hell (1994), "Do Me No Favors" from Anonymous (1997), and "Don't Think Twice" from Bumbling Home from the Star (2002). We listen to "I Won't Feel Well" from Love's Been Re-Discontinued (2013). Opening music: The title track from Green on Red's Gravity Talks. For more, see Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon.

NEM#87: Chris Cacavas Fronts His Depression

By Mark Linsenmayer
Chris rose to fame on keys for Arizona's country punks Green on Red from '81–'87, and has since then been fronted 12 albums while doing session keyboard work. We discuss "Pale Blonde Hell" by Chris Cacavas and Junkyard Love from Pale Blonde Hell (1994), "Do Me No Favors" from Anonymous (1997), and "Don't Think Twice" from Bumbling Home from the Star (2002). We listen to "I Won't Feel Well" from Love's Been Re-Discontinued (2013). Opening music: The title track from Green on Red's Gravity Talks. For more, see Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon.

Pence Aide Not Expected to Replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Official Says


(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff John Kelly, Nick Ayers, is no longer expected to fill the role.

Ayers, who is chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was seen as the favorite for the job when Trump announced Saturday that Kelly would leave around year’s end. But a White House official said Sunday that Trump and Ayers could not reach agreement on Ayers’ length of service and that he would instead assist the president from outside the administration.

Ayers confirmed the decision in a tweet Sunday, thanking Trump and Pence for giving him the opportunity to work in the White House. “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause,” he said.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump had a new favorite for the post. The official was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ayers and Trump had discussed the job for months. The new hire was to be key to a West Wing reshuffling to shift focus toward the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats in control of the House.

Trump wants his next chief of staff to hold the job through the 2020 election, the official said. Ayers, who has young triplets, had long planned to leave the administration at the end of the year, and had only agreed to serve in an interim basis through next spring.

Ayers will run a pro-Trump super PAC, according to a person familiar with his plans who was not authorized to discuss them by name.

Trump said Saturday that he expected to announce a replacement for Kelly in a day or two.

With Ayers out of the running, Trump is considering four candidates for the post, including Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, according to a person familiar with the president’s thinking. He is to make a decision by the end of the year, said the person, was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name.

Kelly, whose last day on the job is set to be Jan. 2, had been credited with imposing order on a chaotic West Wing after his arrival in June 2017 from his post as homeland security secretary. But his iron first also alienated some longtime Trump allies, and over time he grew increasingly isolated, with an increasingly diminished role.


Ayers won't be Trump's chief of staff

By (Nancy Cook)

Nick Ayers, the longstanding favorite to take over as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, is no longer getting the job, according to two White House officials.

Ayers, who currently serves as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that he would be departing the administration, though he made no mention of White House chief of staff.

“Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House,” he wrote. “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause.”

Ayers and Trump had been negotiating over the terms of the position and were unable to agree on how long Ayers would serve, one of the officials said. Ayers, who has young children, had told associates that he hoped to return to his home state of Georgia and could serve only until the the spring. Trump, on the other hand, wanted his next chief of staff to commit to serve for two years.

While both Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, supported Ayers’ becoming chief of staff, other senior aides are deeply skeptical of him, arguing that he is a sharp-elbowed ladder climber.

Ayers, who had previously told White House aides that he planned to step down in December, is leaving the administration to join a Trump-aligned outside group, officials said.

Two White House officials said Trump would make a final decision on his next chief of staff by the end of the year. One of the officials said he was considering four candidates, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a staunch Trump ally.

Other names in the running include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, who has been campaigning quietly for the job for months. In recent days, the president has been polling advisers and allies on what they think about Meadows in general.

A person familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking stressed that the secretary was very happy at the Treasury Department and had never asked to be considered for White House position. Mnuchin feels that he can be most useful to the president continuing to run the department, the source added.

In recent days, another name for chief of staff that has cropped up among Trump’s advisers: Wayne Berman, senior managing director and head of global government affairs at the Blackstone Group. Berman, who served as a top political aide at the Commerce Department under President George H.W. Bush, is close to Steve Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, who remains one of Trump’s closest confidants in the business world.

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, who is leading the trade negotiations with China, is reportedly also a potential candidate for the job. But he signaled on Sunday that he was uninterested in leaving his current post.

“I’m entirely focused on what I’m trying to do — and it’s difficult enough,” Lighthizer said when asked about a New York Times report that he might be considered for chief of staff, adding that he hadn’t spoken to anybody in the White House about assuming the role.

As for Ayers, there was always a sense that he would take the job for only a fixed period of time, yet he demanded significant authority during his negotiations with the president — including the ability to hire and fire whomever he wanted even if he did not intend to stay at the White House over a long period of time, said a source familiar with the discussions.

Ayers was considered an asset because of his political savvy heading into a re-election year, but he also had a fair number of skeptics who worried that he would shirk the nonpolitical parts of the job inside the administration.

Trump and Ayers had been quietly discussing his potential promotion for months. But it took Trump until Saturday to finally push out his current chief of staff, John Kelly, giving Ayers’ enemies more time to make the case to the president that he wasn’t right for the job.

“You give enough time and air to have people shoot at him, and at some point it takes its toll,” said a person familiar with the hiring process.

Trump announced on Saturday that Kelly, a four-star Marine general who served as his chief of staff for a year and a half and faced constant questions about his standing with the president, would depart by the end of the year.

Ben White and Sabrina Rodriguez contributed to this story.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

  • December 9th 2018 at 22:06

French President Macron Will Address the Country on Monday Amid Violent Protests


(PARIS) — Pressure mounted on French President Emmanuel Macron to announce concrete measures to calm protests marked by violence when he addresses the nation Monday evening, and breaks a long silence widely seen as aggravating a crisis that has shaken the government and the whole country.

The president will consult in the morning with an array of national and local officials as he tries to get a handle on the ballooning and radicalizing protest movement triggered by anger at his policies, and a growing sense that they favor the rich.

Macron will speak from the presidential Elysee Palace at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT), an Elysee official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said earlier on LCI TV station he was “sure (Macron) will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French, speak to their hearts.” But, he added, a “magic wand” won’t solve all the problems of the protesters, known as “yellow vests” for the fluorescent safety vests they often wear.

Last week, Macron withdrew a fuel tax hike — the issue that kicked off protests in mid-November — in an effort to appease the protesters, but the move was seen as too little too late.

For many protesters, Macron himself, widely seen as arrogant and disconnected from rank-and-file French, has become the problem. Calls for him to resign were rampant on Saturday, the fourth weekend of large-scale protests.

“Macron is there for the rich, not for all the French,” 68-year-old retiree Jean-Pierre Meunuer said Saturday. Retirees are among the categories to be punished by his policies.

Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud dampened any notion that the minimum wage would be raised, telling LCI that “there will be no boost for the Smic (minimum wage),” because “it destroys jobs.”

Paris tourist sites reopened Sunday, while workers cleaned up debris from protests that left widespread damage in the capital and elsewhere. At least 71 were injured in Paris on Saturday.

The economy minister, meanwhile, lamented the damage to the economy.

“This is a catastrophe for commerce, it’s a catastrophe for our economy,” Bruno Le Maire said Sunday while visiting merchants around the Saint Lazare train station, among areas hit by vandalism as the pre-Christmas shopping season got underway.

After the fourth Saturday of nationwide protests by the grassroots movement with broadening demands, officials said they understood the depth of the crisis. Le Maire said it was a social and democratic crisis as well as a “crisis of the nation” with “territorial fractures.”

However, the president must also speak to protesters’ pocketbooks. Among myriad demands was increased buying power.

The number of injured in Paris and nationwide was down Saturday from rioting a week ago. Still, TV footage broadcast around the world of the violence in Paris neighborhoods popular with tourists has tarnished the country’s image.

A number of tourists at the Eiffel Tower, which reopened Sunday after closing Saturday, said they were avoiding the Champs-Elysees, Paris’ main avenue that is lined with shops and cafes and normally a magnet for foreign visitors.

“Yes, we’re very concerned with security … but we couldn’t cancel the trip,” Portuguese tourist Elizabet Monteero said. But, she added, “We don’t go to dangerous zones like the Champs-Elysees.”

Nearly 1,000 people, almost 100 of them minors and most without police records, were being held in custody after the Saturday protests in the French capital, Paris chief prosecutor Remy Heitz said, adding that most of those in custody were men under 40 from various regions who came to Paris to protest. Most were taken in for carrying weapons, like knives, or objects that could be used to cause injury, including petanque balls or tear gas.

Courts were working overtime to process the cases, he said.

France deployed around 89,000 police but still failed to deter the determined protesters. More than 125,000 “yellow vests” took to the streets Saturday around France with a bevy of demands related to high living costs and a sense that Macron favors the elite and is trying to modernize the French economy too fast.

Thierry Paul Valette, who helps coordinate yellow vest protesters who come to Paris, said the president must announce concrete measures to quell the fury.

It won’t be enough to announce negotiations, he said in an interview with The Associated Press. People want change and “concrete, immediate, right now” measures.

Even if Macron withdraws his signature slashing of the wealth tax, “half of the yellow vests will go home, the other half will want him to resign and will stay in the streets,” Valette predicted. “Because the movement isn’t controllable.”

There was also damage in other cities, notably Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Seventeen of the injured were police officers. Jean-Claude Delage of the Alliance police union urged the government on Sunday to come up with responses to France’s “social malaise.” He told BFM television that working class protesters were deliberately targeting high-end shops in Paris that were selling goods they couldn’t afford.

Luxury shops on the posh Avenue Montaigne were totally boarded up on Saturday.

In a knock at Macron, graffiti on the wall of one read: “You don’t cross the street, you take it,” mocking the president’s response to a young unemployed gardener that he can “cross the street” to find a job.


Hey 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' fans, here's a Season 6 trailer. Get hype.

By Adam Rosenberg

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is coming back Jan. 10 for a sixth season on NBC, against all odds after Fox's cancellation failed to stick.

Now there's this new trailer, freshly released on Sunday, to get you in the mood. You can hit play without fear of spoilers. This is more of a random riff on Die Hard and other action movies, with Andy Samberg's Jake taking on the hero role.

It's fun! It should be! We all had every reason to think Brooklyn Nine-Nine was never coming back after Fox dropped the hammer on it, so every episode from Season 6 (and potentially beyond) is technically a gift, for both the actors and their fans. Read more...

More about Entertainment, Tv, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Entertainment, and Movies Tv Shows

Incoming Wisconsin Governor Not Optimistic GOP Attempt to Limit Democrats’ Power Will Be Vetoed

By Associated Press

(MADISON, Wis.) — Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers said Sunday he’s not optimistic that outgoing governor Scott Walker will veto bills approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature that would limit the new governor’s power.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Evers said he talked by telephone with Walker recently and appealed to him to veto the legislation, but that Walker was noncommittal.

Evers, who will be sworn in Jan. 7 after narrowly defeating the two-term Republican last month, said Wisconsin voters did not elect him to fight over administrative powers with the GOP legislative majority. He said the lame-duck legislation approved by lawmakers after an all-night session last week “gets us off to a bad start. And I think that’s a mistake.”

“But we’ll continue working to get the people of Wisconsin to convince Scott Walker to think about his legacy and make sure that he vetoes this language,” Evers said.

Walker has indicated that he generally supports the legislation though his office late last week said only that he was reviewing it. Walker has six days after the bills are delivered to him to either sign them into law, allow them to become law without his signature or veto them. He may also be able to line-item veto portions of them, depending on how they are drafted and whether they spend money.

If Walker signs the bills, lawmakers can decide when the state can withdraw from lawsuits, and Evers would have to request permission to adjust programs that are run jointly with the federal governor, such as Medicaid. The GOP measures also would empower legislators, not new Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, to decide whether to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care act. The bills also could make it harder for Evers to renegotiate a $3 billion subsidy spearheaded by Walker for a Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing facility in southeastern Wisconsin.

In neighboring Michigan, where a Democrat also won the governor’s office this year, Republicans are considering proposals to strip campaign-finance oversight from the new Democratic secretary of state. Lawmakers also want to have authority to intervene in lawsuits, with a Democrat poised to take control of the attorney general’s office.

Evers said Sunday that if Walker had won in Wisconsin, “we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this today.” The incoming governor said the GOP moves are “directly related” to a Democrat’s win.

Though Evers has said he might have to sue unless Walker vetoes the legislation, he said Sunday that “all issues are on the table” and that he is “not making any promises one way or the other,”

“I need to stand up for the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said.

A Walker spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.


Congress faces final deadline to undo Trump’s net neutrality repeal

By Ryan Koronowski

The fight to save net neutrality faces a key deadline in Congress on Monday.

December 10 is the last day Congress can use an obscure maneuver — a discharge petition — to force a vote on repealing the Trump administration’s regulations killing net neutrality.

President Trump’s FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, dealt a serious blow to net neutrality when he issued regulations earlier this year gutting the Obama-era rules protecting it. He did so, it turns out, having listened to millions of public comments that were overwhelmingly fake, organized campaigns, or bots that falsely gave the impression of a tidal wave opposing net neutrality.

A Stanford researcher found that almost 21 million of the 22 million comments sent to the FCC were not unique messages from real people. Of the comments from real people, the researcher found, 99.7 percent supported net neutrality.

On Saturday, Buzzfeed News reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether laws were broken when millions of people’s identities were posted to the FCC’s website in a false attribution of their opinions about net neutrality rules.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who will be retiring from the Senate next year, congratulated Pai for his “determination to not let mobs impact his desire to serve and do an excellent job at the FCC,” after Pai talked about receiving a death threat during the net neutrality fight in June.

Net neutrality is the idea that the internet is like a utility, and all parts of the internet should be equally easy to access. You shouldn’t have to pay more to see Wikipedia than you do to see Fox News’s site. Vimeo should load as  quickly as Netflix does, no matter what deals the parent companies set up with the internet service providers.The Trump administration can’t pressure Comcast or Verizon to throttle back access to websites it doesn’t like.

The Trump administration’s approach to net neutrality has been to side with the large companies that control internet access. And there is a good chance it will get its way. There is one last best chance for net neutrality.

Back in May, under the Congressional Review Act, the Senate voted 52-47 to overturn the FCC’s proposed rules that would gut net neutrality. The House has not acted on the bill to overturn the rules, and with the bill stuck in committee, it has very little time remaining before the end of this Congress. The only chance is to force a vote on the floor and bypass the committee by a majority of the House signing a discharge petition.

Here are the 178 House members who have signed the discharge petition — the last being Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-NY) on November 30. If 40 more members sign the petition, that would mean a majority of the House — 218 members, supported it, requiring the chamber to hold a vote.

The problem for net neutrality advocates is that Monday, December 10 is the deadline.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) tweeted Tuesday December 4 that she supported the discharge petition but had not signed the document as of Sunday evening.

Members of Congress in both parties have been pushing for more support for the discharge petition over the last few days.

From the moment President Trump’s @FCC made its move to repeal #NetNeutrality, we have made our voices heard for a free and open Internet. Now, the House has just 5 days left to vote to restore #NetNeutrality rules. Keep up the pressure, keep making your voices heard.

— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) December 5, 2018

When the Trump @FCC repealed #netneutrality, they gave big businesses free reign to slow down your web activity as they please. No one should be put in an internet slow lane. We need the House to vote to restore a free and open internet.

— Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) November 29, 2018

Since the @FCC repealed #NetNeutrality rules, I have joined millions of Americans in fighting for the free and open internet. We must act NOW to restore #NetNeutrality!

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) December 6, 2018

Congress has less than a month left to fully restore #netneutrality – after this, it gets way harder. Sign this open letter & urge Congress to save the open Internet before our chance to overturn the FCC's repeal expires at the end of this year:

— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) November 29, 2018

The 115th Congress is drawing to a close, and time's running out to overturn the @FCC's repeal of #NetNeutrality. We need 218 votes on the discharge petition I signed to force a vote on this priority and save the free and open internet. Be sure to spread the word today!

— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) November 29, 2018


Since the @FCC repealed #NetNeutrality rules, I have joined millions of Americans in fighting for the free and open internet. We need an internet that reflects our values of free speech, innovation, and economic opportunity, and we must ACT NOW to restore #NetNeutrality.

— Alma S. Adams (@RepAdams) December 6, 2018

Since the @FCC repealed #NetNeutrality rules, millions of Americans have raised their voices in the fight for a free and open internet. We need an internet that reflects our values of free speech, innovation and economic opportunity, and we must act now to restore #NetNeutrality.

— Rep. Debbie Dingell (@RepDebDingell) December 6, 2018

The FCC turned its back on consumers last year when it voted to eviscerate #NetNeutrality protections & turn the Internet over to the largest ISPs.

Now Congress has a few short weeks to save the free& open Internet by passing legislation to fully reinstate #NetNeutrality rules

— Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (@RepAnnaEshoo) November 29, 2018

If 218 members — and this would require significant Republican support given they still control the chamber in the lame duck session — sign the discharge petition, the House would have to vote on the bill repealing the FCC regulations, and then Trump would have to sign it. Democrats lost seats in the Senate this year mean, which means that next year it will be harder for the bill to pass the Senate, even if it is easier to approve the measure in the House with a new Democratic majority.

One advocacy group, Fight for the Future, unveiled a campaign last week targeting “17 House Democrats who have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from ISPs and so far refused to sign the Congressional Review Act Discharge Petition to restore net neutrality.”

The federal level is not the only place where this policy fight is happening. There are legislative fights in the states to ensure net neutrality principles. California passed a sweeping law in September that the telecom industry began fighting immediately.

The Saudi-Israeli love affair: Traffic jam of the century?

By Fernandez
Middle East Eye

On Thanksgiving Day, Donald Trump participated in a teleconference with members of the US military from his Florida resort in Mar-a-Lago.
The chat elicited many an enthusiastic presidential soundbite, such as: "Good old army. We love the army." The good cheer came to an abrupt end, however, during the post-teleconference press briefing, when Trump was forced to field a couple of questions about the October murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Asked whether the CIA was in possession of a recording of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman demanding that Khashoggi be silenced, the president responded: "I don't want to talk about it. You have [to] ask them."
And yet, he did manage to talk at length about how, regardless of who ordered the murder, "we have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia" - which, in addition to helping make America great in many other ways, had apparently also facilitated Trump's self-marketing as the god of cheap gasoline: "I see that yesterday, [in] one of the papers, I was blamed for causing traffic jams because I have the oil prices so low ... let's have some traffic jams."
Also working in the Saudis' favour, according to Trump's analysis, was that "Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia" - a statement that generated some backlash from Israelis peeved at the suggestion that anyone but Israel was to thank for staving off big trouble in the world.
Incidentally, Trump's Thanksgiving Day allusion to the Saudi-Israeli alliance - a subject that has generally fallen under the category of Things We Absolutely Do Not Talk About - was merely one of a recent string of similar comments.
In an October interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump praised Saudi Arabia as "a very good ally with respect to Iran and with respect to Israel". A presidential statementissued on 20 November - headlined with the exclamation "America First!" - once again addressed the centrality of the Saudi kingdom to "our very important fight against Iran," with support for Saudi Arabia being crucial to "ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region".
Among these interests, we are told, is "our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!" But while this may indeed sound like a noble aim, it is presumably not best achieved with the help of the state that has spent the past 70 years terrorising Palestinians, or the one currently presiding over the terrorisation of Yemen (and that also happened to produce 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers). READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.
  • December 9th 2018 at 21:11

Google's rumored Pixel 3 'Lite' XL might ditch the notch

There's been talk (and apparent leaks) of a mid-range Pixel 3 variant, but what about an equivalent to the larger Pixel 3 XL? That might be coming too. OnLeaks and 91mobiles claim to have details of a Pixel 3 'Lite' XL (just a placeholder name for...

11 festive holiday light shows you can watch without leaving the house

By Amanda Luz Henning Santiago

Come December, many elect to adorn their homes with lights and decorations. And some take holiday decorating to the next level by curating intricate light shows.

Holiday light shows have become an American tradition over the past couple of years. Using  special lighting equipment and a ridiculous amount of holiday decorations, people have created entertaining shows set to an array of music. These light shows have become so popular that they even spawned the popular seasonal reality show, The Great Christmas Light Fight.

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Alibaba Already Has a Voice Assistant Way Better Than Google's

By msmash
Like Google's Duplex, Chinese internet giant Alibaba has its own humanlike voice assistant capable of making restaurant reservations and salon appointments. But unlike Google, which has rolled out the feature to select audience, Alibaba's offering already has a wider reach. And it's smart, too. From a report: On December 2 at the 2018 Neural Information Processing Systems conference, one of the largest annual gatherings for AI research, Alibaba demoed the AI customer service agent for its logistics company Cainiao. Jin Rong, the dean of Alibaba's Machine Intelligence and Technology Lab, said the agent is already servicing millions of customer requests a day. The pre-recorded demo call involved the agent asking a customer where he wanted his package delivered. In the back-and-forth exchange, the agent successfully navigated several conversational elements that demonstrated the breadth of its natural-language capabilities. Take this exchange at the beginning of the call, translated from Mandarin: Agent: Hello, I am Cainiao's voice assistant. I am -- Customer: Hello. A: Yes, hi, you have package scheduled for morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Is it convenient for you to receive? C: Who are you? A: I am Cainiao's voice assistant. I'd like to confirm your morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Does that work for you? C: I'm not home in the morning. A: Then do you have another address that you'd like to use? Within 30 seconds, the agent has smoothly handled three common, and tricky, conversational ingredients: interruption, nonlinear conversation, and implicit intent. Interruption is self-explanatory: the agent can respond to the customer's interruption and continue relaying relevant information without starting over or skipping a beat.

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Kushner didn’t stop advising Saudi crown prince after Jamal Khashoggi murder

By Matthew Rozsa
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is still pushing Saudi crown prince’s agenda even after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder