The political career of Silvio Berlusconi has always been marked by the surreal, but perhaps never more so than now. With Italy’s national elections looming on March 4, the 81-year-old former prime minister — the man who more or less invented modern populism in the West — is now presenting himself as the consummate moderate. He’s not just been anti-populist, but also loudly pro-European; not just…


From the Brits to the Australians, everyone wants to say they were the ones to tip off the Americans about Russian hacking. Now, the Dutch say their hackers hacked the hackers of Russia’s Cozy Bear network. Such claims are impossible to corroborate, and it’s only fair that they be greeted, at least in part, with skepticism. But this competition to claim credit does reveal a new reality in this era…


African ambassadors attending a State Department-organized conversation with Kellyanne Conway left the event disappointed the White House counselor didn’t address the president’s alleged incendiary remarks about immigration from countries he considered undesirable, diplomatic sources told Foreign Policy. Conway, a key architect of Trump’s presidential bid and one of his top surrogates, spoke to a…


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While speaking with a group of pastors in December, the leading Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri claimed that sex trafficking is the result of the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, despite the fact that sex trafficking has existed for as long as humanity has been keeping historical records.

“We have a human trafficking crisis in our state and in this city and in our country because people are willing to purchase women, young women, and treat them like commodities,” Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said in newly leaked audio first obtained by The Kansas City Star. “There is a market for it. Why is there? Because our culture has completely lost its way. The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined.”

Hawley discussed his theory of sexual trafficking at a “Pastors and Pews” event hosted in December of last year and the audio was published by the Star on Wednesday.

In his speech, Hawley said it was important that sexual traffickers are held accountable, but said that the “false gospel of ‘anything goes’” must also be addressed.

“We must also deliver a message to our culture that the false gospel of ‘anything goes’ ends in this road of slavery,” Hawley said. “It ends in the slavery and the exploitation of the most vulnerable among us. It ends in the slavery and exploitation of young women. It will destroy our families.”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Hawley continued. “The 1960s, 1970s, it became commonplace in our culture among our cultural elites, Hollywood, and the media, to talk about, to denigrate the biblical truth about husband and wife, man and woman.”

The denigration of biblical teachings about marriage and family and “the appropriate place for sexual practice and expression” has led to the “terrible after-effects of this so-called revolution,” Hawley said. That revolution, he said, “was in fact… a great step back.”

“One of them is, one of those effects, is a crisis in our country that goes by the name of human trafficking,” he added.

When the Star reached out to Hawley’s campaign for comment, Hawley’s spokesperson reportedly doubled down, saying that Hawley had made himself clear.

“We now have a sex trafficking epidemic because too many men view women as objects for their own gratification and control. Hollywood and the media have promoted this attitude for decades, and it is wrong,” Hawley’s spokeswoman told the Star. “Attorney General Hawley regularly challenges audiences to get serious about sex trafficking by getting serious about changing male attitudes toward women, so that all women are treated with respect, equality, and dignity.”

Hawley isn’t the only candidate in the Missouri Republican primary who has railed against women breaking free from traditional gender roles.

Courtland Sykes, who is running against Hawley in the primary, released an official campaign statement last week demanding “a home cooked dinner at six every night” from his fiancée. In the statement, Sykes criticized feminists and painted a picture of how he believes his someday-daughters should live their lives.

“I don’t want them to grow up into career obsessed banshees who forego home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manphobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the tops of a thousand tall buildings they think they could they are [sic] think they could have leaped over in a single bound — had men not ‘suppressing them’ [sic],” Sykes wrote. “It’s just nuts. It always was.”

Hawley is likely to win the Republican primary, after which he will face current incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in the general election. RealClearPolitics rates the seat as a toss-up, and the only polling so far, from a Republican-leaning polling firm, has Hawley up three percentage points.

Author: Addy Baird

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Thousands of Californians will have their misdemeanor pot convictions expunged automatically and thousands more may have felony cases re-categorized, after San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced plans to make the state’s pot legalization law apply retroactively on Wednesday.

Gascón’s jurisdiction limits his reach here. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of other Californians unlucky enough to be arrested for weed elsewhere in the state will have to hope officials nearer to them follow his lead — or find the money to pay a lawyer to petition the courts for an expungement.

The San Francisco review will stretch back more than 40 years. More than 3,000 people convicted of a misdemeanor for marijuana possession will have their records erased, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Even a misdemeanor criminal record casts a long shadow in job interviews, the search for an apartment, and efforts to draw public benefits like unemployment insurance or food stamps. Gascón’s decision to automate the expungement process will make it far easier for the predominantly black victims of the federal War on Drugs to benefit directly from the passage of Proposition 64, a ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in the state from the start of 2018.

One state lawmaker is looking to automate the expungement process statewide through legislation, though the bill is vague and has not yet received a committee hearing date according to the state assembly website. Roughly 5,000 Californians have filed a court petition to have their pot records cleared since Prop 64 took effect, according to figures from the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance.

Sponging the drug-war residue off of people’s lives today will make it easier for them to live well tomorrow. But it’s easy to get caught up in that happy news and lose sight of the sheer scale of the disruption these cases caused for Californians year in and year out for decades. Even after partial decriminalization statewide in 1976, police made at between 20,000 and 60,000 arrests for minor pot infractions every single year up until 2011, when possessing less than an ounce became a ticketable offense with no associated misdemeanor charge.

Now that marijuana is fully legal in the state, leaders have a chance to go back and make that right. But it will be an enormous undertaking — not only because records systems are resource-intensive to manage, review, and revise, but also due to the sheer size of the backlog of criminal history in question.

Suppose those 5,000 petitions were all granted tomorrow and Gascón’s 3,000-ish automatic misdemeanor expungements could be done all at once with the push of a button. That would just scratch the surface of the backlog of past misdemeanors — if it even managed to leave a visible mark at all.

California law enforcement made 1,457,605 misdemeanor cannabis arrests from 1976 through 2016, California NORML’s Dale Gieringer told ThinkProgress. That doesn’t mean a full 1.5 million individuals still have outdated misdemeanors lingering in a database somewhere, waiting for a potential employer or landlord or happen upon in a background check. Some of those arrests probably never led to a conviction, and some individuals may account for more than one arrest in Gieringer’s dataset.

But theoretically, those misdemeanor cannabis busts are supposed to disappear automatically after two years.

“Our attorneys say that isn’t happening,” Gieringer said. “You pretty much have to file to get it erased.”

Author: Alan Pyke

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What is tinnitus ?
Tinnitus can be perceived in one or both ears or in the head. Tinnitus is the description of a noise inside a person’s head in the absence of auditory stimulation. The noise can be described in many different ways but the most common description of the tinnitus is a pure tone sound. It is usually described as a ringing noise but, in some patients, it takes the form of a high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tinging or whistling sound or as ticking, clicking, roaring, “crickets” or “tree frogs” or “locusts (cicadas)”, tunes, songs, beeping, sizzling, sounds that slightly resemble human voices or even a pure steady tone like that heard during a hearing test and, in some cases, pressure changes from the interior ear It has also been described as a “whooshing” sound because of acute muscle spasms, as of wind or waves. Tinnitus can be intermittent or it can be continuous: in the latter case, it can be the cause of great distress. In some individuals, the intensity can be changed by shoulder, head, tongue, jaw or eye movements.
Most people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss: they are often unable to clearly hear external sounds that occur within the same range of frequencies as their “phantom sounds”. This has led to the suggestion that one cause of tinnitus might be a homeostatic response of central dorsal cochlear nucleus auditory neurons that makes them hyperactive in compensation to auditory input loss.
The sound perceived may range from a quiet background noise to one that can be heard even over loud external sounds. The specific type of tinnitus called pulsatile tinnitus is characterized by hearing the sounds of one’s own pulse or muscle contractions, which is typically a result of sounds that have been created from the movement of muscles near to one’s ear, changes within the canal of one’s ear or issues related to blood flow of the neck or face
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Project Showcase: Heated Earmuffs

In order to stay warm on cold winter days, Feldi has built the heated earmuffs project – a pair of earmuffs embedded with heating pads over her ears and lots of addressable LEDs for style. Watch to see how she put this high current circuit together.

Learn more here:

Author: SparkFun Electronics

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While the recent earnings warning from GoPro was seen as a disaster, it’s quite possible that the situation for this briefly high-flying camera company is even worse than it appears. But GoPro’s fate is also an indicator of a larger problem that’s sweeping across independent hardware startups.

Just since GoPro took its pratfall in early January, there has been a steady drip of grim announcements from consumer electronics hardware startups: Sphero fired 45 employees following weak holiday sales of its smartphone-controlled gizmos; Tile laid off 30 employees citing the need to “recalibrate” its business; and Fitbit confirmed it was finally euthanizing the Pebble smartwatch brand this summer after buying it for chump change last year.

Speaking of Fitbit, back in November the company reported it lost $113 million in the previous quarter, almost nine months after it laid off about 100 employees. But at least they are still in business. The same can’t be said for Jawbone, Njoy, Electric Objects, Lily Robotics, sleep-tracker Hello, and tablet startup Fuhu.

And, of course, Juicero.

Each has its own tale of misery and woe. But at their heart, they reveal the same fundamental issue: Building an independent hardware startup is next to impossible in an age where hardware sales are still dominated by giant tech companies.

A decade ago, that wouldn’t have been such a startling idea. Hardware required big investment upfront, capital expenditure to create manufacturing capacity, logistics for distribution, marketing muscle to get products onto shelves, and a strong brand.

Then came along what I, and many others, began to refer to as a new “Golden Age of Hardware Startups.”

Entrepreneurship had opened up in the late 1990s to a far greater range of founders thanks to the internet, and then tumbling storage costs, broadband, and the cloud accelerated that trend. This led to web services, and then apps. The kind of stuff a couple of kids and their dog could build in a dorm room after a long weekend of hacking.

But eventually these trends intersected with hardware. The smartphone era meant more objects could be connected cheaply with most of the computing being done on the phone. Kickstarter offered a fast way to raise money. 3D printing allowed for rapid prototyping. Outsourced manufacturing operations became available for rent. Ecommerce meant no need to go begging at bricks-and-mortars. Suddenly, hardware didn’t seem so far out of reach.

That explosion can be tracked by the arc of CES, the famous Las Vegas-based gadget show.

The last time I went was in 2014, when I wrote that year: “CES set a new record with 3,200 exhibitors across more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space — or enough to fit about 35 football fields. That’s up from 3,000 exhibitors and 1.92 million square feet last year. Eureka Park, which is the traditional start-up corner of CES, hosted 200 companies this year, up 40% from last year.”

And now?

In 2017, CES reported 4,000 exhibiting companies, and exhibition space of more than 2.6 million square feet — 600 companies in Eureka Park alone. Final numbers are not yet in for 2018, but CES had said it expected 800 startups in Eureka Park and 2.75 million square feet of space.

And so the number of gadgets exploded. It was a phenomenon that was always going to be unsustainable. There simply wasn’t going to be enough interest, enough consumers, enough need, for the vast majority of this stuff.

Yet surely some would break through?

Indeed, some have. Unfortunately, these hardware startups are named “Amazon” and “Google” and “Facebook.” And they are sucking up most of the oxygen when it comes to hardware sales these days. They have the deep pockets and the long-term outlook to invest in research, take their time, and not get completely torpedoed if one product sputters, or rises and falls.

The same can’t be said for these smaller, independent companies. GoPro is a pretty good indicator of why.

The company’s sports cams were a sensation with a strong brand identity. The problem with such devices is that eventually prices drop as cheaper knockoffs enter the market. A company like Apple has defied this dynamic for years by continuing to spend huge sums on new features and designs, and expanding its ecosystem of products. But you can do that when you’re the world’s most valuable company and have a license to print money.

GoPro tried to do something similar, but almost every initiative failed. Drones? GoPro tried to make one, but it was heavily delayed before being released, and then recalled in 2016. That led to its second round of layoffs that year. And it eventually decided to exit the drone business.

Its GoPro Hero5 camera, a version that is both waterproof and responsive to voice commands, hasn’t turned things around either. It initially rolled out this and other new versions of the Hero5 and Hero 6 at steep prices, before being forced to cut them dramatically in the face of consumer indifference.

And then there’s content. GoPro users produce insane amounts of content, which presents a couple of interesting opportunities for GoPro. The first is helping users manage, store, and edit that mountain of video. But its software solutions haven’t done much to translate that into revenue.

The company also tried to leverage content that was getting huge traffic on its YouTube channel by creating its own content platform.

GoPro hired Tony Bates, the former Microsoft executive and head of Skype, in 2014 to be president. Part of his mission was to oversee the development of this content platform, which would hopefully generate ad revenue as well as fuel marketing and interest in GoPro hardware. Alas, no. Bates left quietly in late 2016 amid broader layoffs.

This was all bad, and yet somehow, it’s gotten worse.

At the beginning of January, GoPro pre-announced fourth quarter revenue of $340 million, a gigantic miss from the $470 million guidance it had given two months previously. And the company said it would cut its workforce from 1,254 to 1,000, down almost one-third from its peak of 1,500 employees in 2015. GoPro is scheduled to officially report earnings February 1.

That’s already got legal eagles sniffing around for possible class action lawsuits. And it forced the company to deny rumors that it was for sale, even though many analysts believe a sale is probably the best option at this point.

But its stock has been hammered. After going public in June 2014, its stock peaked that September at around $93.70 per share. Today, it’s trading at around $5.50 per share.

It’s hard to imagine GoPro pulling out of this downward spiral, as resources and staff shrink, smartphone cameras become more powerful, and prices of knockoffs continue to drop. There is no room to maneuver.

But what about all those thousands of other hardware startups? While controversial at the time, the decision by Oculus VR founders to sell to Facebook looks prescient now. Could an independent Oculus has survived the softer-than-expected reception to VR hardware? Tucked inside money-machine Facebook, however, it doesn’t really matter.

For other hardware startups, though, it seems the choices are limited. Either remain small, almost novelty size. Or, if you score a hit, rather than scaling quickly, just find a willing buyer and exit ASAP.

This reality hasn’t seemed to dim the enthusiasm of hardware startup founders, as evidenced by CES. Starting seems to be the easy part — maybe too easy. Yet sadly for those poor souls, hardware has created a strange reality where failing is bad, but succeeding a bit is almost worse. Because it’s just going to make the inevitable crash that much more painful.


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ULTIMATE Twitch Fails Compilation 2018 #451

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ULTIMATE Twitch Fails Compilation 2018 #451

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President Donald Trump is urging his followers to inform rapper Jay-Z that “because of my policies,” unemployment among black Americans is at the “LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” The president’s tweet Sunday appears to be in response to a CNN interview in which the rapper said the president’s vulgar comments about African countries and Haiti were…