Some stories you might have missed..

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https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.shtml

> Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
> Article II
> In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed
> with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or
> religious group, as such:
> a. Killing members of the group;
> b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
> c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
> bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
> d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
> e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/concentration-camps-19...

> The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or
> confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of
> arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy."

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/25/18715725/children-bord...

> In practice, they’re being held for days, sometimes weeks, in facilities
> without enough food or toothbrushes — going days without showering,
> overcrowded and undercared for.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/inside-a-texas-building-where-the...

> Hundreds of immigrant children who have been separated from their parents or
> family members are being held in dirty, neglectful, and dangerous conditions
> at Border Patrol facilities in Texas. This week, a team of lawyers interviewed
> more than fifty children at one of those facilities, in Clint, Texas, in order
> to monitor government compliance with the Flores settlement, which mandates
> that children must be held in safe and sanitary conditions and moved out of
> Border Patrol custody without unnecessary delays. The conditions the lawyers
> found were shocking: flu and lice outbreaks were going untreated, and children
> were filthy, sleeping on cold floors, and taking care of one another because
> of the lack of attention from guards. Some of them had been in the facility
> for weeks.

https://apnews.com/article/46da2dbe04f54adbb875cfbc06bbc615

> A 2-year-old boy locked in detention wants to be held all the time. A few
> girls, ages 10 to 15, say they’ve been doing their best to feed and soothe
> the clingy toddler who was handed to them by a guard days ago. Lawyers warn
> that kids are taking care of kids, and there’s inadequate food, water and
> sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol
> station.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/holocaust-survivor-yes-the-border-detentio...

> [Holocaust survivor] Bloch said the conditions reported at the border camps
> sound painfully similar to her own. “It’s the same conditions I lived through
> —we never had soap, but we had water, cold water, and not necessarily a
> shower. No toilet paper. It was inhuman.”

https://projectsouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/OIG-ICDC-Complaint-1...

> Ms. Wooten also stated that detained women expressed to her that they didn’t
> fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy. She said: “I’ve had
> several inmates tell me that they’ve been to see the doctor and they’ve had
> hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going.” And
> if the immigrants do understand what they’re getting done, “some of them a
> lot of times won’t even go, they say they’ll wait to get back to their
> country to go to the doctor.”

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/20/621489166/family-separation-is-trumps-imm...

> "[T]his implementation of the court decision that says children need to be
> separated from their parents because their parent is being prosecuted — that
> has never happened before in the past from the time that this settlement took
> place through other administrations, both Democratic and Republican
> administrations," Meissner said.

That covers the genocide bits.

https://apnews.com/article/0452d29cd2564eaf97605ab90acc3a67

> The 15,000-word Times report contradicts Trump’s portrayal of himself as
> a self-made billionaire who started with just a $1 million loan from his
> father.
> The Times says Trump and his father, Fred, avoided gift and inheritance
> taxes by setting up a sham corporation and undervaluing assets to tax
> authorities.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html

> Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the
> presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He
> had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely
> because he reported losing much more money than he made.
[..]
> The records show that the pageant was the most profitable Miss Universe
> during Mr. Trump’s time as co-owner, and that it generated a personal payday
> of $2.3 million — made possible, at least in part, by the Agalarov family,
> who would later help set up the infamous 2016 meeting between Trump campaign
> officials seeking “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton and a Russian lawyer connected to
> the Kremlin.

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/meet-the-many-small-business-owners...

> Meet the (Many) Small Business Owners Stiffed by Donald Trump

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-foundation-shutting-down-amid-allegat...

> President Donald Trump has agreed to shut down his family's embattled
> Trump Foundation, following investigators' allegations the charity misused
> funds by directing them to Mr. Trump or his businesses. The attorney
> general alleged the foundation engaged in a "a shocking pattern of
> illegality."

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/09/how-everyone-is-quietly-lining-t...

> “One of the Most Significant Potential Conflicts of Interest in American
> History”: How Everyone From Foreign Governments to Federal Contractors
> Is Quietly Lining Trump’s Pockets

https://twitter.com/JYSexton/status/1309895782443683841

> MAGA is a religious cult that worships a fake past, a mythology of America
> that never existed and was only used as a weapon for political and economic
> power.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/24/nearly...

> Nearly 500 generals, admirals and former national security officials from
> both parties [..] blasted President Donald Trump as "not equal" to the
> challenges of the job

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/25/trump-hhs-ads-coronavirus-421957

> Caputo's team in June requisitioned $300 million that Congress had previously
> appropriated to the CDC. According to three people with knowledge of the
> deliberations, the request was abrupt and HHS offered minimal detail to CDC
> officials on how the money would be spent for the upcoming campaign.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/22/covid-funds-pentagon/

> Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine
> parts and body armor

https://twitter.com/libbyjones715/status/1308989753291874314

> Most people who know the name Sophie Scholl know she was a 21 year old German
> student activist who was executed by the Nazis for distributing anti-Nazi
> pamphlets on her college campus. But people don’t talk about what happened
> leading up to her execution, or what happened after.
> No one talks about this janitor, Jakob Schmid. He got a cash reward and a
> promotion for turning in Sophie and Hans. The University of Munich threw him
> a celebration. Hundreds of students attended and cheered for him. He thanked
> them with a Nazi salute.
> After the war, Jakob Schmid was arrested and put on a trial of his own. He
> said he only turned the Scholls in because distributing pamphlets was against
> university policy - it wasn’t because of the content of the pamphlets.
> When you think of Nazis, you probably think of uniformed officers. But the
> Nazis were a political party of everyday people. So also think of a janitor
> tsk-tsking that someone wasn’t protesting “the right way.” A student at
> rally applauding him. A judge towing the party line.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a32948548/what-is-white-privilege/

> If you are white, you might be surprised that your "normal" way of life
> is a privilege that Black people don't get to enjoy.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2020/09/23/patriot-coalition-far-right-c...

> The leaked chat logs appear to reveal that some members of the Patriot
> Coalition have taken part in multiple violent rallies throughout the summer,
[..]
> A user identified as Paige summed up the general feelings of the group in a
> post made ahead of a what turned out to be a bloody ‘Back the Blue’ rally on
> August 22nd in Portland when she wrote: “I’m waiting for the presidential go
> to start open firing.”

https://www.justsecurity.org/70507/white-supremacist-infiltration-of-us-...

> An FBI intelligence assessment—titled “White Supremacist Infiltration of
> Law Enforcement” and published in 2006 during the administration of
> President George W. Bush—raised alarm over white supremacist groups’
> interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law
> enforcement personnel.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/04/white-supremacists-terror-threa...

> White supremacists present the gravest terror threat to the United States,
> according to a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/03/how-white-supremacy-i...

> How white supremacy infected Christianity and the Republican Party

https://www.splcenter.org/news/2020/03/18/executive-summary-2019-year-hate

> The number of white nationalist groups rose for the second straight year,
> a 55 percent increase since 2017, when Trump’s campaign energized white
> nationalists

https://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/democrats.energycommerce.house.go...

> In 2016, internal analysis at Facebook found 64% of all extremist group
> joins were due to their own recommendation tools.
[..]
> We didn’t simply create something useful and fun. We took a page from Big
> Tobacco’s playbook, working to make our offering addictive at the outset.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-race-record/2020/...

> After phone calls with Jewish lawmakers, Trump has muttered that Jews
> “are only in it for themselves” and “stick together” in an ethnic
> allegiance that exceeds other loyalties

https://truthout.org/articles/conspiracy-theories-by-cops-fuel-far-right...

> it is clear the vast majority of the violence is coming from either the
> police or right-wing vigilantes, not the protesters themselves.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/06/22/who-caused-violence-p...

> Who caused the violence at protests? It wasn’t antifa.

https://apnews.com/article/race-and-ethnicity-media-social-media-kentuck...

> Michael Johnson and others were certain that school buses full of radical
> left-wing extremists from big cities were coming to Leitchfield, Kentucky,
> where about 50 of their neighbors had gathered on the courthouse lawn to
> chant, “Black lives matter!” and wave signs in solidarity with the
> nation’s surging protest movement.
[..]
> The buses didn’t show, but that didn’t mean everyone accepted it was just
> a baseless rumor.
[..]
> “That’s a rumor,” the sheriff said. “People are pretty detailed when they
> make up stories.”

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article245926935.html

> Baptist preacher Jesse Hursey spoke at an Alamance County Trump rally at
> Ace Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Afterwards, he joined a parade,
> videos from which show Hursey yelling "white power" from his truck near
> Elon University

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/real-stakes-fight-over...

> A teacher does not need to lie about the Confederacy being founded on the
> principles of intergenerational torture and human bondage when the
> Confederates said as much in their declarations of secession.
[..]
> But the truth is that our country is not made worse by young people
> reckoning fully with the legacy of slavery. Such reckoning better prepares
> them to make sense of how our country has come to be, and how to build
> systems and institutions predicated on justice rather than oppression.
> Nothing is more patriotic than that.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-police-union-power-helped-i...

> How Police Unions Enable and Conceal Abuses of Power

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/history/perspective--the-origins-of...

> The origins of policing in America

https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2020/09/the-cop-who-quit-inste...

> “We want you to police in here, and we’re going to give you a section
> of Bedford Pines to actually have office space. And I want you to lock
> up as many people as possible so we can make these apartments vacant
> and we can knock ’em down.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-city-budget-police-defunding/

> unrelenting demand from protesters in city after city: Defund the police.
> But after months of demonstrations, that rallying cry hasn’t translated
> into reality.

https://www.theroot.com/god-is-white-1844686619

> They are not Christians. They aren’t even conservatives. They are just
> the modern incarnation of a centuries-old American lie that power and
> privilege are gifts from God.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/06/racial-anxiety-is...

> Two new studies find racial anxiety is the biggest driver of support
> for Trump

More reading:
https://www.salon.com/2020/06/29/trumps-white-power-tweet-our-president-...
https://www.salon.com/2020/04/15/trumps-darkness-white-supremacy-christi...

https://www.dictionary.com/e/what-is-stochastic-terrorism/

> Here’s the idea behind stochastic terrorism:
> * A leader or organization uses rhetoric in the mass media against a
> group of people.
> * This rhetoric, while hostile or hateful, doesn’t explicitly tell someone
> to carry out an act of violence against that group, but a person,
> feeling threatened, is motivated to do so as a result.
> * That individual act of political violence can’t be predicted as such,
> but that violence will happen is much more probable thanks to the
> rhetoric.
> * This rhetoric is thus called stochastic terrorism because of the way it
> incites random violence.

https://www.snopes.com/news/2016/08/10/trump-denies-secret-service-spoke...

> “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the
> Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/donald-trump-incitement-violence/

> “I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself or if other people will”
> “If you do (hurt him), I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry about it”
> “Knock the crap out of him, would you? I promise you, I will pay your legal
> fees”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/06/inside-the-cult-of-trump-his-ral...

> Such is the intimacy of Trumpism: innuendo and intimation, the wink and
> the revelation.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-transition-crisis...

> Trump escalated his months-long campaign to undermine the legitimacy of
> the Nov. 3 election with comments Wednesday that, taken together and at
> face value, pose his most substantial threat yet to the nation’s history
> of free and fair elections.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-locations-idUSKCN1VV09J

> States across the American South have closed nearly 1,200 polling places
> since the Supreme Court weakened a landmark voting-discrimination law in
> 2013

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/appeals-court-strikes...

> “The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision”
> and “impose cures for problems that did not exist,”

https://www.gregpalast.com/palast-offer-lawsuit-threat-to-georgia-sos-ra...

> The Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, admitted to CNN
> that they did not use a postal service licensee to check the names and
> addresses of voters on their purge list to verify that they had moved
> This means that his entire 2019 purge is illegal under the National
> Voter Registration Act, Section 8(c)(A).

https://www.ic3.gov/media/2020/200922.aspx

> Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change
> existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media
> content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the
> electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions.

Once you've read the above, listen to this podcast, especially season two:
* http://www.sceneonradio.org/

Review of Photobox.ie

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I recently needed to order some printed mugs for a family member in Ireland. Shipping costs from the US were astronomical, so I ended up scouring the net for a place in Ireland that would do what I needed.

Most of the services that advertised as being in Ireland did not work out. While all of the services gave me ways of building the design I wanted, I ultimately needed to customize the photo in a photo editor on my computer and repeatedly upload versions until the print was going to match what I wanted.

Several would not accept payment from the US, including one that let me fill in a US billing address but they gave an error when I submitted the payment. Some required Ireland's postal code for the destination, but didn't like the address when it was filled in (!). Some were going to take a long time to ship the items, whereas I had about eight or nine days to get the item to its destination. Some sites used Flash for the interface, meaning they'll stop working fairly soon as browsers stop supporting it.

In the end photobox.ie was the best option.

The Photobox.ie site itself worked quite well and was the prices were fairly reasonable, it allowed me to buy items from the US and then ship to family in Ireland. The only downside was that the shipping time to Ireland was a little long, ultimately because of the fact that the company was actually based in the UK and items were shipped over. That said, with a little more planning ahead it shouldn't be an issue for future orders.

Will definitely use the site again.

Headset recommendation: Logitech h800

Tags: 

I've worked from home for ten years. During this time I've needed a reliable headset for doing calls and listening to music that fit some rudimentary needs:

  1. It needed to be wireless, so I didn't pull my laptop onto the ground.
  2. It needed to be stereo.
  3. It needed to have a built-in mic.
  4. It needed to work reliably.
  5. Not too expensive.
  6. 8+ hours of use on a single charge.

This didn't seem like such a big deal, but it turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be.

Let me work through the headsets I've tried and the problems I ran into.

The first wireless headset I tried was the Logitech h600. It was wireless, had a reasonable quality mic, was stereo, didn't cost too much, and seemed to work fairly well. However, there were some glaring problems, primarily that it was a little small for my head so it had to be pulled down tight to fit right, and because here was no padding on the top band its hard plastic would push down on my head and hurt after a while. Another minor problem was that it needed a USB adapter, it couldn't use the Bluetooth system built into the laptop. The pain wearing it proved to be too much to deal with, given that I was wearing it extensively, so I had to ditch it.

New requirements list:

  1. It needed to be wireless, so I didn't pull my laptop onto the ground.
  2. It needed to be stereo.
  3. It needed to have a built-in mic.
  4. It needed to work reliably.
  5. Not too expensive.
  6. 8+ hours of use on a single charge.
  7. It needed to fit my slightly larger-than-average mellon.
  8. It needed to be comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
  9. Not need any extra attachments to my computer, e.g. a USB adapter or something.

I then tried its older sibling, the Logitech h800. This was larger and had some padding on the band, so it didn't hurt to wear. It also used the laptop's Bluetooth system so didn't need any adapters to connect - just pair it to the laptop once, and then just turn it on when I wanted to use it. Hey presto!

For the most part the h800 has worked well - it's comfortable for wear for hours at a time, even a full day. However one problem I noticed was that the mic quality, i.e. the sound of my voice, is really poor compared to, well, everyone else I was having calls with. Everyone else was using different headsets, I thought my problem was with my headset, so after several years of use it started falling apart and I decided to replace it with something that might be better.

New requirements:

  1. It needed to be wireless, so I didn't pull my laptop onto the ground.
  2. It needed to be stereo.
  3. It needed to have a built-in mic.
  4. It needed to work reliably.
  5. Not too expensive.
  6. 8+ hours of use on a single charge.
  7. It needed to fit my slightly larger-than-average mellon.
  8. It needed to be comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
  9. Not need any extra attachments to my computer, e.g. a USB adapter or something.
  10. It needed to have a reasonable quality mic.

The first alternative I tried was the Jabra Evolve 65 UC. This is a slightly upper scale headset that is purported to have really good quality, and was recommended by some folks at work. I tried looking for one at a brick 'n mortar store so I could try it on, but they couldn't find their on-hand stock so I ended up ordering it online. When it arrived the first thing I did was checked to see how it fit, and unfortunately it was just too tight on my head, and had a hard plastic band with no padding so it just hurt to wear. It also had poor quality audio from the mic, the same as the h800. Clearly wasn't going to work, so I returned it.

After that failure I went back to looking.

The biggest problem with the h800 was with the mic quality. Doing research there seemed to be a known problem with the Bluetooth architecture itself. It seems that there are two "profiles" for how headsets work - a high quality mode for listening to audio, and a lower quality mode for transmitting & receiving simultaneously. Given that I want to have two-way conversations, this turns out to be a major limiting factor in the Bluetooth concept. So.. maybe Bluetooth wasn't what I needed..

There's also a newer generation of Bluetooth that might have helped. My laptop supports Bluetooth 4, but there's a 4.1 that adds a low-power mode, and a new 5.0 that improves things further. I did some searching on 4 versus 5 for audio headsets, but couldn't find anything at the time. So maybe Bluetooth 5 might help, but I'd have to either find a USB adapter or replace the laptop, and that wasn't in the budget.

A coworker mentioned the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC, a set that looks like it might be what I needed - on-ear headphones, includes a USB dongle to use instead of Bluetooth (to avoid mic problems), and it had a comfortable head band. The coworker mentioned that the mic quality was really good when using the dongle, but just using Bluetooth it was terrible, which confirmed my suspicion about needing to go with something that used a USB device! Unfortunately it was no longer available from most suppliers as it was an older model. Given I couldn't try it out, I hesitated getting it.

The first headset I tried was the Logitech G533, which I grabbed from a local store. It covered most of the requirements, and used a USB dongle so the audio should work nicely. I tried it for two days but in the end it proved to be too much - I really didn't like the over-ear form factor and the noise cancelling aspect distorted how I heard my voice when I was speaking, which was too weird for me on calls. Also, it felt a little flimsy, so I was worried about it lasting a few months, never mind a few years. So back to the store it went.

New requirements:

  1. It needed to be wireless, so I didn't pull my laptop onto the ground.
  2. It needed to be stereo.
  3. It needed to have a built-in mic.
  4. It needed to work reliably.
  5. Not too expensive.
  6. 8+ hours of use on a single charge.
  7. It needed to fit my slightly larger-than-average mellon.
  8. It needed to be comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
  9. Not need any extra attachments to my computer, e.g. a USB adapter or something.
  10. It needed to have a reasonable quality mic.
  11. No noise cancelation, or at least a way of turning it off.

The next set I tried was the Beats Solo Pro. This is a premium piece of hardware at roughly $300, and was using my hardware expense account from work so I could splurge on something I used constantly. The headset had a head band, fairly comfortable ear covers, didn't have a boom mic but supposedly had some nifty stuff to make it work well, long batter life, etc, and several coworkers loved their prior model (Solo 3). I grabbed it on sale at a local store (order-ahead for easy pickup, thank you COVID-19), brought it home, took it out of the box (nice packaging job, Beats!), connected it to my laptop and then... realized it was just too small for my noggin. I tried out the mic anyway, just in case, and it was no better than what I'd used before. Drat! Back to the store it'll go.

I did some research into headsets that fit larger mellons. While there are several articles out there, most of them focus on over-the-ear headsets with noise cancellation, and I didn't want that. They also focused primarily on Bluetooth headsets and didn't take mic quality into account, so they weren't going to work for me.

I also did a little more research on Bluetooth 4 vs 5, and it turns out that the improvements don't change anything about the usage "profiles" - it still cuts the audio quality when you're speaking, so that was going to be a non-starter.

I again looked at the Plantronics headset, but it was getting even harder to find, and some comments on Amazon suggested folks were selling cheap knockoffs, I figured I'd hold off again.

Given they were available locally I figured I'd double check what items Logitech had again, and look through their details. While doing this I happened across a little tidbit about the h800 I've been using for several years - while it's sold primarily as a Bluetooth device, it does come with a small USB dongle to connect it if your computer doesn't support Bluetooth. I'd made the assumption that it was a Bluetooth adapter, but I noticed that the manual didn't actually say this, instead indicating it was a proprietary system. So, it might just work!

This morning I dug around to find the headset's adapter, which wasn't in the handy-dandy holder in the left ear cover, plugged the adapter into my laptop, made a test call with Zoom and saved it, then compared the recording to one made with the device connected via Bluetooth - the difference was night and day!

Final requirements:

  1. It needed to be wireless, so I didn't pull my laptop onto the ground.
  2. It needed to be stereo.
  3. It needed to have a built-in mic.
  4. It needed to work reliably.
  5. Not too expensive.
  6. 8+ hours of use on a single charge.
  7. It needed to fit my slightly larger-than-average mellon.
  8. It needed to be comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
  9. Not need any extra attachments to my computer, e.g. a USB adapter or something.
  10. It needed to have a reasonable quality mic.
  11. No noise cancelation, or at least a way of turning it off.

So, after all my searching for a replacement headset to my held-together-with-tape-and-good-wishes Logitech h800, my new headset will be a Logitech h800! In the end needing to have a clearer mic trumped my hope to avoid using a USB adapter. Go figure.

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