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Mike Pence Is a Scoundrel Who Won't Go Quietly

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One of Donald Trump's most loyal stenographers, the New York Times' Maggie Haberman, has put this shit into the world on behalf of the president: [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] "Is Mike Pence Loyal? Trump Is Asking, Despite His Recent Endorsement."

One. No. Mike Pence is not loyal.

Two. If Trump imagines that publicly questioning Pence's loyalty is going to make him more loyal, he doesn't understand his veep at all. This passive-aggressive shit categorically is not going to make Pence more loyal, because Pence has never been loyal. (And never will be.) Positioning himself proximate to Trump's power isn't loyalty. His objective is to seize that power for himself, as soon as possible.

Three. I suspect Trump will swiftly discover all of the above once arrives the day in January marking the halfway point of his term, at which time Pence can assume the presidency and still be eligible to serve two full terms as president himself.

I have long said that I believe Pence has been working with the FBI since the campaign and with Mueller since he started his investigation, and I believe it still. And, as I have said many times, to really understand Mike Pence, you have to understand that he has wanted to be president virtually his entire life, and he will do anything to get it. (Besides being a decent human being with good policy, obviously.)

All of which means: Pence knows if Trump goes down in an election loss in 2020, his own last, best shot at the presidency goes down with it — meaning his best bet is to make sure that Trump goes down via resignation or impeachment. Even election rigging can't help someone who doesn't get nominated.

Four. About that "recent endorsement." Trump publicly asked Pence to be his veep again only after a reporter asked the question, seemingly out of left field, at a press conference. I had an instinct that Pence had planted the question, so I asked if anyone knew who the reporter was, and got the answer: Mark Meredith, who just so happens to have done a ridiculous softball interview with Pence in July.

And in trying to find out more about him, I saw this tweet, which led me to discover he works for Nexstar Media Group, the second largest media group after Sinclair.

So this kid reporter (who is terrible, by the way, if you watch that interview) somehow is a credentialed White House reporter for Nexstar, and just randomly decided to ask if Pence would be on the ticket again. The day after the midterms, in which Trump was delivered a staggering defeat.

And he explained it on Twitter thus: "I thought it was as good as time as any to ask."

Yeah. And it was just coincidentally the best time for Pence to get his boss to publicly commit to keeping him a heartbeat away from the presidency.

No wonder Trump is getting antsy. He should be.
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wreichard
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Yo, Trump, ya moron: The guy you’re throwing shade at can cast a deciding vote in your impeachment trial wherein he becomes your successor. Doy.
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iridesce
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nj
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Analyst: Apple's poor earnings will recover now they've switched from innovating to rent-seeking

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Apple just had a really poor Q3 earnings report, with hardware sales falling off as people figure out that they just don't need to get a new phone every year or so; writing in Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky tries to soothe investors by pointing out that Apple is still seeing growth in "services" and that there's plenty more growth to be realized there.

Bershidsky is refreshingly honest in his description of these services: he refers to repairs, sales through the App and Itunes stores, and cloud services as "collecting rent" on Apple customers and its suppliers.

As Bershidsky points out, long-term Apple users are rather locked into its ecosystem by the tedious and potentially risky process of extracting their photos, music, etc to a rival platform. That means that the suppliers of things like music, ebooks, and videos are also locked into Apple's stores, unlikely to win a battle to establish rival stores that interoperate with Apple's Itunes and other apps, but which take a smaller commission on the sale of their products. Apple has inserted itself into the transactions for copyrighted works for the foreseeable future, passively creaming off a substantial portion of the profits from the sales not because their store is the best, but because they have used DRM and other proprietary tactics to lock out competitors.

A Goldman Sachs report suggests that Apple aggressively turn the screw on the rent-collecting end of its business, using bundling and anti-competitive retail tactics to crush Dropbox and other cloud providers currently serving Iphone owners.

The kicker to the piece comes in the final graf: "Rent extraction from a user base that finds it hard to go away may sound a bit like extortion. But it’s more honest and upfront than extracting data from users in ways they often don’t understand and then making money off the data, as Facebook does."

The poverty of imagination on display here is maybe the most 2018 thing I've read all year. Of course "If you're not paying for the product, you're the product" -- but as Bershidsky and Goldman Sachs agree, "even if you pay for the product, you're still the product."

The fetishization of paid services as a panacea for the woes of surveillance capitalism mistakes the nature of the problem. Google doesn't spy on us like crazy because they're creepy spies: they spy on us like crazy because the lack of competition lets their creepy spy-nature run amok, and the size of Google and its surveillance capitalism breathren allows it to purchase regulation and laws that fail to meaningfully limit surveilling us (if we were serious about regulating privacy, we'd create really serious statutory damages for breaches, far beyond even the dreams of Ron Wyden).

The harms of being "the product" in monopoly walled-garden capitalism are different in kind, but not degree from being "the product" in monopoly surveillance capitalism: you pay lots more, while the world drowns in e-waste. Your access to artistic works is limited by arbitrary and self-serving ways -- and walled gardens are an autocracy's best friend.

(To say nothing of the other problem with "everything should be a paid service": in a grossly unequal world, the idea that charging to participate in discourse will fix discourse is radioactively wrong, a bad idea that's visible from orbit -- imagine a world where the vast majority either have to ration their participation, or use platforms subsidized by 1-percenters who reserve the right to kick you off their services for suggesting limits on looting and exploitation)

What if, instead of forcing us to choose between monopoly surveillance capitalism and monopoly walled-garden capitalism, we held out hope for a world where we smashed the monopolies. Made them paid their taxes, made them divest of the competitors they gobbled up, cut them down to a size where they could no longer dominate the legislative and regulatory processes.

Because, after all, even with its weak growth figures, Apple is still a vastly profitable company. Being forced to give up on blocking competing stores, service, parts, and add-ons would not put the company out of business: it would merely shave a few points off the its quarterly profits -- while diverting that income to other companies, from the small mom-and-pop service depot on your corner to the indie app vendor who could sell software to Ios users direct and pocket the 30% Apple would have creamed off of their margin.

The future is not a choice between one kind of monopoly and another: it's a choice between monopoly and anti-monopoly. The choice between surveillance and walled gardens is no choice at all (and, in the case of Facebook, you get two horrors for the price of one).

Rent extraction from a user base that finds it hard to go away may sound a bit like extortion. But it’s more honest and upfront than extracting data from users in ways they often don’t understand and then making money off the data, as Facebook does. That honesty is in itself a competitive advantage for Apple as it gradually reimagines itself as more of a services company. Now, the challenge is to grow the services offering fast enough to make up for potential iPhone revenue losses; gadget prices cannot keep going up forever without hurting the top line, and in the end, a phone is just a phone. We only need it to gain access to all the nice digital stuff out there.

Apple Used to Be an Inventor. Now It’s Mainly a Landlord. [Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg]

(via /.)

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iridesce
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nj
superiphi
10 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
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Organisms found on hike in the woods are like no other life on Earth | CBC News

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Canadian researchers have discovered a new kind of organism that's so different from other living things that it doesn't fit into the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, or any other kingdom used to classify known organisms.

Two species of the microscopic organisms, called hemimastigotes, were found in dirt collected on a whim during a hike in Nova Scotia by Dalhousie University graduate student Yana Eglit.

A genetic analysis shows they're more different from other organisms than animals and fungi (which are in different kingdoms) are from each other, representing a completely new part of the tree of life, Eglit and her colleagues report this week in the journal Nature.

"They represent a major branch… that we didn't know we were missing," said Dalhousie biology professor Alastair Simpson, Eglit's supervisor and co-author of the new study.

"There's nothing we know that's closely related to them."

In fact, he estimates you'd have to go back a billion years — about 500 million years before the first animals arose — before you could find a common ancestor of hemimastigotes and any other known living things.

This is the part of the Bluff Wilderness Trail in Nova Scotia where graduate student Yana Eglit collected some dirt that ended up containing two species of rare hemimastigotes. (Submitted by Yana Eglit)

The hemimastigotes analyzed by the Dalhousie team were found by Eglit during a spring hike with some other students along the Bluff Wilderness Trail outside Halifax a couple of years ago. She often has empty sample vials in her pockets or bags, and scooped a few tablespoons of dirt into one of them from the side of the trail.

Back at the lab, she soaked the soil in water, which often revives microbes that have gone dormant, waiting for the next big rainstorm. Over the next few weeks, she checked on the dish through a microscope to see what might be swimming around.

Strange movements

Then, one day, about three weeks later, she saw something that caught her eye — something shaped like the partially opened shell of a pistachio. It had lots of hairs, called flagella, sticking out. Most known microbes with lots of flagella move them in co-ordinated waves, but not this one, which waved them in a more random fashion. 

"It's as if these cells never really learned that they have many flagella," Eglit said with a laugh. She had seen something with that strange motion once before, a few years ago, and recognized it as a rare hemimastigote.

Hemimastigotes were first seen and described in the 19th century. But at that time, no one could figure out how they fit into the evolutionary tree of life. Consequently, they've been "a tantalizing mystery" to microbiologists for quite a long time, Eglit said.

Light microscopes show the two hemimastigotes, Spironema, left, and Hemimastix kukwesjijk, found in the same dish. (Yana Eglit/Nature)

Like animals, plants, fungi and ameobas — but unlike bacteria — hemimastigotes have complex cells with mini-organs called organelles, making them part of the "domain" of organisms called eukaryotes rather than bacteria or archaea.

About 10 species of hemimastigotes have been described over more than 100 years. But up until now, no one had been able to do a genetic analysis to see how they were related to other living things.

Realizing that she had something very rare and special, Eglit flagged another graduate student Gordon Lax, who specializes in genetic analyses of individual microbes — a new and tricky technique — to see where they fit in the evolutionary tree. The pair dropped everything to analyze the new microbe.

The co-authors of the new study include, left to right, Dalhousie University postdoctoral researcher Laura Eme, Eglit and fellow graduate student Gordon Lax. (Michelle Léger)

New species

Eglit wanted to see if she could find more of the creatures in the dish, and, as she was looking, she spotted another kind of hemimastigote.

"To our tremendous surprise, two of these extremely rarely seen organisms ended up in one dish."

There were more of the second kind, which turned out to be a new species.

The researchers named itHemimastix kukwesjijk after Kukwes, a greedy, hairy ogre from the mythology of the local Mi'kmaq people. (The suffix "jijk" means "little.")

Eglit watched carefully as it hunted. Hemimastix shoots little harpoons called extrusomes to attack prey such as Spumella, a relative of aquatic microbes called diatoms. It grasps its prey by curling its flagella around it, bringing it to a "mouth" on one end of the cell called a capitulum "as it presumably sucks its cytoplasm out," Eglit said.

Hemimastix kukwesjijk feeds on its prey in this microscope image. It attacks the prey with harpoon-like organs, then uses its flagella to bring the prey to its mouth, called a capitulum, and sucks out the juices or cytoplasm. (Yana Eglit/Nature)

Once she knew what it ate, she reared its prey in captivity so she could also feed and breed captive Hemimastix: "We were able to domesticate it, in a way."

That means scientists can now give captive specimens to other scientists to study, and their rarity is not the issue it was before.

Based on the genetic analysis they've done so far, the Dalhousie team has determined that hemimastigotes are unique and different enough from other organisms to form their own "supra-kingdom" — a grouping so big that animals and fungi, which have their own kingdoms, are considered similar enough to be part of the same supra-kingdom.

They are now doing a more complete genetic analysis of Hemimastix. That's expected to turn up new data that will help scientists piece together the evolutionary history of life on Earth with more detail and more accuracy.

Eglit says it's "extremely exciting" that it's still possible to discover something so different from all known life on Earth.

"It really shows how much more there is out there."

But Simpson noted that discoveries like this one are pretty rare: "It'll be the one time in my lifetime that we find this sort of thing."

Biology professor Alastair Simpson tells Mainstreet host Bob Murphy how a microbe found in a dirt sample from the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail near Halifax led to the discovery of a previously unknown branch in the evolutionary 'Tree Of Life.' The research has just been published in the journal Nature. 8:23
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iridesce
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nj
acdha
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Not Even Walking Around Congress Like A Dickensian Street Urchin

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's first days in Congress have been a doozie. She's been "mistaken" for an intern or a spouse on multiple occasions, everyone's making up pretend fights that she's getting in with people she's not actually getting into fights with, and she's still somehow not performing poverty well enough to convince Fox News and other conservatives that she is not a secret billionaire.

On Wednesday, Fox News published an exposé on AOC and her vast riches -- showing that even though she said that it was going to be tough to afford an apartment in DC for the three months before she'd receive a salary, she was actually a fifteen thousandaire.

If she converted that $15K into pennies, she could probably swim in them, just like her fellow rich person Scrooge McDuck.


As if that wasn't enough, AOC had the gall to flit around Congress in human clothes, probably from some ritzy store like T.J. Maxx, rather than in a barrel held up with suspenders, and shoes that looked nothing at all like bread bags or Kleenex boxes. And the Washington Examiner's Eddie Scarry, noted photographer of women's butts, was ON IT.

The tweet, after getting ratioed straight to hell, has since been deleted, and despite trying to defend it at first, Scarry is now claiming that everyone took it entirely out of context.

It was, after all, hardly the first time Scarry had been a total creeper.

Not a bunion.

Personally, I hope the Right keeps on with this narrative. I hope they push it real hard, because it is an incredibly bad look for them. It's like they're doing our work for us! As gross as America is about class issues, as much many people are comfortable with pretending we have no class issues in the first place, a lot of rich people tend to vastly overestimate how much most Americans will embrace people being openly gross about people not having money. There's a line. Hell, there are a lot of people who vote Democrat who don't fully grasp that. It's why, even though I've made them myself, I'm not entirely comfortable with the jokes about "economic anxiety." Just because people were saying "economic anxiety" when they really meant racism, that doesn't mean it's not an actual thing on its own, apart from that, and I worry that it comes across as "people are stupid for being worried about their economic situation."

Much has also been made this week -- from both the Right and the Left -- of how Ocasio-Cortez is being some kind of l'enfant terrible, going around being a jerk to established pols like Nancy Pelosi and Frank Pallone.

Headlines blared about her joining in a "protest" at Pelosi's office, coming in and snottily demanding that Pelosi do things that she was already going to do anyway! Except you know who actually didn't see things that way? Nancy Pelosi herself.

Politico ran a story about how AOC supposedly barged into poor incoming Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone's office to yell at him about climate change ... an incident which does not appear to have actually happened.

LET THE WOMAN FUCKING LIVE, JESUS.

Ocasio-Cortez is going to be a target, precisely because she's so popular. She's going to be a target on the Right because she -- unlike Donald Trump -- actually is a working class American. She's going to be a target for some on the Left because she associates with Bernie Sanders. There are people who feel like just hasn't earned the right to be as popular and well liked as she is yet and that it's unfair that people are excited about her instead of the people they would prefer everyone be excited about. I am pleading with you, anti-Berners -- back the fuck off on this. It is a bad look. Just be happy that people are jazzed. It's a good thing! We want people to be jazzed! If she does something truly horrible, if she murders Nancy Pelosi (who, again, has no problem with her!) in her sleep -- then I promise you we can cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let's all try to focus on winning in 2020 rather than re-litigating 2016.

[Twitter]

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iridesce
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An accomplice to the founder of the ‘troll factory’ comes forward and says Russia's U.S. election interference wasn't a Kremlin initiative

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The newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published an interview with Andrey Mikhailov, the man who allegedly helped catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin build a media empire. Mikhailov says he agreed to speak to the news media as retribution for an incident last year, when he claims men with ties to Prigozhin abducted him, brought him to a forest, and beat him. In the interview, Mikhailov discussed the creation of the St. Petersburg “troll factory,” and the staging of various “provocations” against Prigozhin’s enemies and competitors, as well as several journalists. Novaya Gazeta says Mikhailov’s claims are supported by open-source information and private materials provided to its reporters. Meduza offers the following summary of the interview.

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iridesce
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This is a really strange story. "On October 22, Novaya Gazeta published an investigative report claiming that people associated with Evgeny Prigozhin are responsible for attacking opposition activists and bloggers, as well as carrying out several murders and poisonings in different countries. The newspaper attributed these claims to Valery Amelchenko, who suddenly disappeared on October 2. Days before the report was published, someone left a severed sheep’s head in a gift basket outside Novaya Gazeta’s newsroom in Moscow. Not long beforehand, the newspaper also received a funeral wreath addressed to Denis Korotkov, the author of the October 22 investigative report."
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A harassment scandal at Meduza

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For the past two weeks, Meduza has been at the center of a sexual harassment scandal involving its chief editor. In the interests of transparency, Meduza is summarizing recent events, its executive board’s response, and reactions from around the Russian mediasphere. Disclosure: The following article concerns developments inside the Meduza newsroom.

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iridesce
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