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Russ Abbott
Applying CS concepts to questions in philosphy.
Applying CS concepts to questions in philosphy.

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Try it; it's easy. Instructions here:

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I've seen this before, but it's worth repeating.

via +John Hummel

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Not from +The Onion


Canadian police said on Monday they had bolstered their presence at the Quebec border and that border authorities had created a temporary refugee center to process a growing number of asylum seekers crossing from the United States.

The Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, said at a news conference that it had converted an unused basement into a refugee claimant processing center. Both the border agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reassigning staff from other locations in the province, as needed, to accommodate rising demand.

The CBSA said the number of people making refugee claims at Quebec-U.S. border crossings more than doubled from 2015 to 2016. Last month, 452 people made claims in Quebec compared with 137 in January 2016, the agency said.

The influx is straining police, federal government and community resources from the western prairie province of Manitoba, where people arrive frostbitten from hours walking in freezing conditions, to Quebec, where cabs drop asylum seekers off meters away from the Quebec-U.S.border, the border agency said.

Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen's office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

A Reuters reporter on Monday saw RCMP officers take in for questioning a family of four - two men, a woman and a baby in a car seat - who had walked across the snowy gully dividing Roxham Road in Champlain, New York, from Chemin Roxham in Hemmingford, Quebec.

"Please explain to her that she's in Canada," one Canadian officer told another officer.

Police take people crossing the border in for questioning at the border agency's office in Lacolle, Quebec, which is the province's biggest and busiest border crossing. Police identify them and ensure they are not a threat or carrying contraband.

They are then transferred to the CBSA for fingerprinting and further questions. If people are deemed a threat or flight risk, they are detained. If not, they can file refugee claims and live in Canada while they wait for a decision.

"It's touching, and we are not insensitive to that," Bryan Byrne, the RCMP's Champlain Detachment commander, told reporters near the border. "Some of these people had a long journey. Some are not dressed for the climate here."

Asylum seekers cross illegally because Canada's policy under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement is to turn back refugees if they make claims at border crossings. But as U.S. President Donald Trump cracks down on illegal immigrants, Amnesty International and refugee advocacy groups are pressuring the Canadian government to abandon the agreement, arguing the United States is no safe haven.

On Monday, Montreal, Canada's second most populous city, voted to declare itself a "sanctuary city," making it the fourth Canadian city to protect illegal immigrants and to provide services to them.

Indirectly via +James Salsman

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This story in +USA TODAY talks about conservatives who find late-night shows too critical of Trump. I particularly liked this paragraph.

As a result, many conservatives are clicking off the late-night shows and switching instead to right-leaning media, which is increasingly offering comedic material to fill the void left by the professional comedians. Some of the jokes are really funny. The go-to meme is mainstream journalism’s bias against Trump — such as Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Michael Ramirez’s depiction of an anchorman delivering these words: “In other disturbing news … President Donald Trump is doing what he promised in his campaign.”

There are so many ways to interpret that. Here's a start. According to +Wikipedia Michael Ramirez's cartoons typically present conservative viewpoints. So that eliminates some of the possibilities. 

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Conservatives have second thoughts about what they mean by "politically correct"

The board of the American Conservative Union, which includes veterans of the conservative movement like Grover Norquist and Morton Blackwell, revoked Milo Yiannopoulos’s speaking slot and condemn his comments on Monday.

“We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers,” Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, said in a written statement.

But they changed their minds when they heard that Yiannopoulos was too politically incorrect.

The fast-talking polemicist is clear that he has no problem with older men abusing children as young as 13, which he then conflates with relationships between older and younger gay men who are of consenting age.

Conservatives reacted with near unanimous disgust at the comments. Some expressed bewilderment that conference organizers would extend an invitation to Mr. Yiannopoulos in the first place, given his history of statements that have been offensive to blacks and Muslims, and have generally pushed the bounds of decency. Twitter has banned him.

“Colossal misjudgment,” Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, wrote on Twitter. “Now CPAC has put itself in the role of ‘censor.’ And for what? Some clicks and headlines?”

Until now, Mr. Yiannopoulos, a fervent supporter of President Trump, had emerged as something of a hero to many on the right, who saw in him an eager and willing combatant against a culture they believed was too politically correct. He became a star at Breitbart, the hard-right news outlet, and earned the admiration of Stephen K. Bannon, who was its publisher before becoming Mr. Trump’s chief White House strategist.

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Amazing Japanese Pop Art Face Painting

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+POLITICO has a summary of Trump's first month and how much of it matters. I think it's very well done. It's also quite long. I'll quote just a few bits.


His first choice to replace Flynn, retired vice admiral Robert Harward, turned down the job, which is not something prospective national security advisers usually do. His nominee for labor secretary, fast-food executive Andy Puzder, withdrew after revelations of an undocumented nanny and domestic violence allegations. His nominee for Army secretary dropped out as well. And other controversial Trump nominees barely squeaked into office. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price got only 52 votes in the Senate, budget director Mick Mulvaney just 51, and Vice President Mike Pence had to break a tie to make Betsy DeVos secretary of education after the Senate deadlocked 50-50 on her confirmation. Trump is lagging well behind the pace of his predecessors in staffing not only his Cabinet but his entire government; the Partnership for Public Service says he has only nominated candidates for 34 of the 539 key jobs requiring confirmation.

Then again, the struggles of Price, Mulvaney and DeVos to get confirmed are less significant than the fact that Senate Republicans confirmed all three of them despite unanimous opposition from Democrats and the kind of baggage (Price’s dubious stock trades, Mulvaney’s failure to pay taxes for a nanny, DeVos’s train wreck of a hearing) that have sunk nominees in the past. It’s also significant that Price, Mulvaney and DeVos—along with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who managed to get two Democratic votes, and attorney general Jeff Sessions, who got one—are all conservative ideologues who will presumably seek dramatic rightward shifts on health, budget, education, climate and criminal justice policies. Similarly, Trump’s most important pick so far has been Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a highly respected jurist with deeply conservative legal views that could tilt American jurisprudence to the right for decades to come. Democrats aren’t going to want him on the Court, but what they want isn’t going to matter much.

By the same token, it’s significant that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who were easily confirmed, are widely viewed as responsible former generals who might be able to rein in TrumpWorld’s less restrained elements. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also seen as a grownup who understands global diplomacy, even though his tenure as ExxonMobil’s CEO remains controversial. It matters for the moment that Trump is struggling to staff the executive branch, but eventually, all those empty slots will get filled. It matters more what kind of people Trump is picking to fill them. And it may matter even more that most Republicans seem willing to approve whatever people Trump asks them to approve, because congressional Republicans have a great deal of power to rein in Trump if they want to. So far, most of them don’t seem to want to.

A few Republicans have expressed concern about the White House and the Russians, but a lot more Republicans—including Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House oversight committee, and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee—have expressed more interest in investigating leaks to the press about the White House and the Russians. With a zeal that would make Captain Queeg blush strawberry-red, Chaffetz is still investigating Clinton’s emails, but his recent list of the 43 issues his committee plans to tackle included nothing about potential conflicts between Trump’s public duties and his continuing business interests. In fact, when Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub publicly questioned Trump’s conflicts, Chaffetz threatened to investigate Shaub for speaking out rather than the subject he was speaking about.

Beyond the hypocrisy of Republicans suddenly losing their ardent passion for investigating the executive branch once their party controlled it, their see-no-evil approach should give Trump the chance to run his government as he sees fit without having to worry about embarrassing investigations or confrontational hearings. That could have a huge impact on the direction of the Trump administration—and, of course, the Trump Organization.

The first lady’s legal point that the White House is a huge money-making opportunity, while spectacularly inappropriate, happened to be true. The Trump family is now uniquely positioned to monetize public service, and the signs of blurred lines are everywhere.

For a decade, Trump has sought to trademark his name in China; last week, after he broke a promise to label China a currency manipulator and agreed to recognize the One China policy, his application was finally approved. A coincidence, no doubt.

The president and his family have made it clear that they don’t intend to worry too much about appearances, and GOP investigators have made it clear they don’t mind.

In Obama’s first month in office, he and the Democratic Congress enacted a children’s health insurance bill extending coverage to millions of kids, an anti-discrimination bill making it easier for women to sue for equal pay, and the groundbreaking stimulus. Trump and the Republican Congress have enacted just two laws affecting policy so far: one overturning an arcane anti-corruption rule from the Obama era that forced oil companies to disclose payments to foreign governments, the other killing another Obama regulation that prevented mining companies from burying streams. Their donors from the oil and coal industries will be pleased, but those moves won’t alter the trajectory of the country.

So far, Trump’s preferred mechanism for making a splash has been executive orders, which seem more in tune with his “I alone can fix it” mentality. To go back to the NBA, he’s a showy shoot-first point guard at heart, not a facilitator.

There’s no point sugar-coating Trump’s autocratic style. His bombastic efforts to delegitimize independent sources of authority that challenge him—journalists, judges, protesters, leakers, Democrats, the very concept of objective facts that he doesn’t get to certify as true—are hallmarks of strongmen trying to consolidate power. But so far, there’s no evidence that Trump has done anything or even tried to do anything beyond the legal limits of his authority. On the other hand, from the historic Women’s March the day after his inauguration to the court orders on refugees to the media reporting on Russia, there is already strong evidence that America’s countervailing forces to unchecked presidential power are mobilizing for a fight. The obvious exceptions are House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their GOP conferences in Congress, who do not seem too keen on checking or balancing.

Trump rose to power by violating political norms and challenging governing institutions. The judicial stay, the ousters of Flynn and Puzder, and the Russia bombshells from media outlets the White House calls “the opposition party” are all examples of institutions biting back.

The overall effect of the Trump presidency so far has been a constant invasion of America’s mental space, a never-ending viral-video barrage of He Said What? His recent press conference was a perfect example: Brazen lies about the economy and the size of his electoral victory, followed by an astonishing complaint that protesters defending Obamacare “are not the Republican people our representatives are representing,” followed by a bizarre argument that the leaks coming out of his White House about Russia are real but the news stories reporting those leaks are fake, after which he mentioned that he watches CNN even though it’s just anger and hatred, a statement he then amended by saying he doesn’t watch CNN at all anymore, which by the way is untrue. Trump also attacked a Jewish reporter who respectfully tried to ask him about the rise of anti-Semitic threats; asked a black reporter if she could set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus; and said that Flynn did nothing wrong but that he fired him anyway.

It’s exhausting. And there’s always some dude in your Facebook feed haranguing you to stop focusing on this one lie because it’s just a distraction from that other lie and you’re just doing what Trump wants you to do.

Really, all lies matter. What Trump is doing is not normal. Jeb Bush called him a chaos candidate, and he’ll be a chaos president. He will say flabbergasting things all the time, like his Black History Month tribute to Frederick Douglass as “somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more,” or his SEE YOU IN COURT tweet to the judges who just ruled against his refugee ban in, obviously, court. It’s probably wise to try not to let him elevate your blood pressure every time he attacks Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings at a prayer breakfast, uses Air Force One as a campaign prop, or plays golf even though he repeatedly attacked Obama for playing golf. The point of the Did-It-Matter-Meter is to try to separate words from deeds, the fleeting rhetoric from the major policy implications. But it’s a big deal to have a president routinely saying things that sound unhinged.

It’s still early in the game, though. (Is it really only August?) Trump is still assembling his team. His approval rating is sinking, but he’s defied the polls before, and he’s defied the experts who didn’t think his game was ready for the NBA. While the president publicly insists that everything is going swimmingly—“I’m not ranting and raving,” he declared, incorrectly, during his press conference—his aides are privately much more realistic about their rocky start. Their message seems to be: Trust the Process.

Of course, that was also the message of the Philadelphia 76ers, and they still suck. But even the Sixers can’t be counted out of a game at the one-minute mark.

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Gorsuch has famously said that the "the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong." That raises the question of what he means by a human life. At the initial stage, when does a sperm and an egg become a human life? At conception? Sometime after. At the other end, when does a biological organism stop being a human life? When brain function ceases? When the organism is unable to persist on its own? Something in between? Since he's thought about this a lot, he would be open to sharing his views.

There is also the question of what he means by "private persons" and why/whether/when it's ok for non-private persons to take a human life. Is it ok, for example, for a corporation to program a robot to take a human life? Is it wrong for a private person to participate in a state-sanctioned execution? Is it ok for a religious organization to take a human life? He has raised a number of very important questions. I'd like to know more about his thinking on these issues.

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It is now absolutely clear that the President will not release his federal tax returns.

The Federal Tax code give whistleblowers permission to share federal returns with Congress. Section 6103(f)(5) provides:

Disclosure by whistleblower.—Any person who otherwise has or had access to any return or return information under this section may disclose such return or return information to [the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation] . . . if such person believes such return or return information may relate to possible misconduct, maladministration, or taxpayer abuse.

Persons who have access under section 6103 include IRS and Treasury officials. They also include state tax officials.

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I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. After all there's a reason Fox News is best described as Faux News. But this is as dishonest as Trump -- perhaps worse since it's deliberate misrepresentation purporting to be reporting. (After all, Trump never claims that what he says is true. What he says should be understood as bedtime stories for his fans.)

Tucker Carlson featured a portion of a video about Sweden in which Swedish policemen were shown as compaining about the enormous incrase in crime committed by immegrants. Here's what the policemen are saying about that segment.

The two officers, named Anders Göranzon and Jacob Ekström, told Dagens Nyheter, a daily Swedish newspaper, that their comments were selectively edited by filmmaker Ami Horowitz in order to connect the impact of immigrants on crime rates in Sweden.

“It was supposed to be about crime in high risk areas,” Göranzon told the paper. “Areas with high crime rates. There wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration.”

“This is bad journalism,” he added.

“It feels like hell,” he continued. “The real questions should be shown along with our answers. We don’t own the rights to the film, but the end of the result is that we don’t want to talk to journalists after this. We can’t trust each other.”

It was this Tucker Carlson report to which Trump retreated to when told that his claim about a terror attack in Sweden was wrong. He said he meant to say that crime in Sweden, especially rape, is soaring -- because he saw it on TV.

In fact, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, there were 13% more reported rapes in 2016 than 2015, but the total was still lower than in 2014..
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