SHOW AUDIO: Link is usually posted within about 72 hours of show broadcast. We take callers during this show at 713-526-5738.
Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio), a listener call-in show airing live every Monday night from 3-4 PM (CT) on KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). My engineers are Don, Leti, and Nibu.
Listen live on the radio, or on the internet from anywhere in the world! When the show is live, we take calls at 713-526-5738. (Long distance charges may apply.)
Please take a moment to visit Pledge.KPFT.org and choose THINKWING RADIO from the drop-down list when you donate.
For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts;
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
SIGNOFF QUOTE[s]: “As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this.” ~ George Mason George Mason IV (December 11, 1725 [O.S. November 30, 1725] – October 7, 1792) from “The Journal of the Debates in the Convention which Framed the Constitution of the United States, May-September, 1787”, Volume 2, as recorded by James Madison, 1908.”
- An asteroid will briefly blot out the sky’s brightest star tonight – Sirius, the Dog Star, is usually the brightest star in the night sky. But for a few seconds tonight, it’s expected to dramatically dim as asteroid 4388 Jurgenstock passes directly in front of it. By Richard Talcott | ASTRONOMY.COM | Published: Monday, February 18, 2019
- The event can be seen along a narrow path that crosses southern Argentina, southern Chile, Panama, and the Caribbean. It occurs around 12:30 a.m. EST on the 19th. The precise track and time depend on the asteroid’s exact position. For the latest predictions, check out http://www.occultationpages.com/rasc/20190219_4388Jurgenstock.html.
- Angela Paxton files bill that would allow her husband, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to issue exemptions from securities regulations – Billed as a consumer protection effort, the proposal would allow approved individuals to serve as investment advisers without registering with the state board — a felony under Texas law that Ken Paxton was charged with in 2015. by Emma Platoff | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG |Feb. 16, 20196 PM
- Texas Legislature 2019 – The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. …
- In what state Angela Paxton [R] describes as an effort to safely expand Texas’ burgeoning financial tech industry, the freshman Republican from McKinney has filed a bill that would empower the office of her husband, Attorney General Ken Paxton, to exempt entrepreneurs from certain state regulations so they can market “innovative financial products or services.”
- One of those exemptions would be working as an “investment adviser” without registering with the state board. Currently, doing so is a felony in Texas — one for which Ken Paxton was issued a civil penalty in 2014 and criminally charged in 2015. …
- … [Jens Dammann, a securities expert at the University of Texas School of Law said], “It gives an uncomfortable level of discretion to the attorney general. As the bill stands, he would have to make judgments about the innovativeness of financial products. That’s probably not his main focus.” …
- … [E]thics experts were slack-jawed that such a proposal would come from the wife of the state’s attorney general — even if he weren’t under criminal indictment for a charge so closely related to the legislation.
- Randall “Buck” Wood, a longtime ethics lawyer in Austin, said it would be “a real concern” for Angela Paxton to introduce any legislation related to the agency her husband leads. But a proposal that relates so closely to his personal criminal indictment is “beyond the pale,” he said.
- “It sounds like one of the more blatantly unethical acts I’ve seen recently. That’s just ridiculous,” Wood said. “This particular situation, it seems to me, is definitely personal to her and probably to very few other people.”
- The measure would “almost certainly” influence Paxton’s criminal trial, added Wood, who has worked as a trial lawyer for decades. …
- … Last year, before Angela Paxton was elected to the Legislature, experts told The Texas Tribune that any misstep could constitute a major ethical violation. Even voting on the state’s biennial budget, which includes her husband’s salary, could raise eyebrows, some said. …
- New York mayor says Amazon headquarters debacle was ‘an abuse of corporate power’, By Jill Disis, CNN Business | Updated 1:12 PM ET, Sun February 17, 2019
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio … attacked the company Sunday for canceling plans to build a second headquarters in Queens last week.
- “This is an example of an abuse of corporate power,” de Blasio told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” “Amazon just took their ball and went home. And what they did was confirm people’s worst fears about corporate America.” …
- Amazon (AMZN) canceled the deal just months after announcing plans to split its new, second headquarters between New York and Virginia. …
- … [C]ritics — including many Democrats — lambasted the massive subsidies that New York offered to lure Amazon, including $1.525 billion in incentives that were contingent on the company creating 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000. …
- … On Sunday, de Blasio, a Democrat, said New York offered Amazon a “fair deal,” and blamed the company for making what he called an “arbitrary” decision to leave after some people objected. “They said they wanted a partnership, but the minute there were criticisms, they walked away,” he added. “What does that say to working people that a company would leave them high and dry simply because some people raised criticisms?”
- Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment about de Blasio’s latest remarks. But the company last week criticized “a number of state and local politicians” who it said “have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required” to complete the project.
- Graham vows probe after McCabe interview on Trump, COM | 5 hours ago | FEBRUARY 18, 2019
- The chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed to investigate allegations that top FBI and justice department officials discussed ways to remove President Trump from office.
- Senator Lindsey Graham said the claims were an “attempted bureaucratic coup”.
- Ex-acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had talks in 2017 about a constitutional clause that allows the removal of a president if deemed unfit.
- Mr Rosenstein has previously denied it. …
- What are the 25th Amendment claims? The allegations that Mr Rosenstein discussed invoking the amendment were first reported last year by the New York Times, which cited anonymous sources.
- However, Mr McCabe’s quotes are the first to be made on the record from someone present at the meeting where the alleged comments were reportedly made – in May 2017, after Mr Trump fired FBI director James Comey, according to Mr McCabe.
- “The discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply [that] Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort,” he said.
- Mr McCabe also said Mr Rosenstein was openly “counting votes, or possible votes” and that he was “very concerned” about the president “his capacity and about his intent at that point in time.” The White House revolving door: Who’s gone?
- “To be fair, it was an unbelievably stressful time… it was really something that he kind of threw out in a very frenzied chaotic conversation about where we were and what we needed to do next.”
- Mr Rosenstein has previously strongly denied having such discussions, saying there was “no basis” to invoking the amendment. …
- … What is the 25th Amendment? ‒ It provides for the removal of a president if he is deemed unfit for office. Duties are transferred to the vice-president.
- Activating the relevant section of the 25th Amendment would require the approval of eight of the 15 members of Mr Trump’s cabinet, the vice-president and two-thirds majorities in Congress.
- Ronald Reagan and George W Bush used the amendment to temporarily transfer power when they were medically anaesthetised.
- What is the claim about secret recordings? Mr Rosenstein is also alleged to have offered to secretly record Mr Trump, amid concerns about possible obstruction of justice relating to the investigation into alleged collusion between the president’s campaign team and Russia.
- When the allegations first emerged in the New York Times, Mr Rosenstein said the report was “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.
- A source told the BBC at the time that Mr Rosenstein’s comment “was sarcastic and was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president”.
- However, Mr McCabe said that Mr Rosenstein “was not joking. He was absolutely serious”.
- “It was incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful. And it was clear to me that that stress was – was impacting the deputy attorney general.
- “We talked about why the president had insisted on firing [Mr Comey] and whether or not he was thinking about the Russia investigation. And in the context of that conversation, the deputy attorney general offered to wear a wire into the White House.
- “I never actually considered taking him up on the offer,” he added. …
- Alec Baldwin Asks Whether Donald Trump’s ‘SNL’ Tweet Is “A Threat To My Safety And That Of My Family?”, by Andreas Wiseman | COM | February 18, 2019 3:48am
- Alec Baldwin has responded to President Trump’s angry retort to the latest Saturday Night Live episode by asking whether the language used by the President “constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?”
- The actor, who regularly impersonates Trump on the show, tweeted, “I wonder if a sitting President exhorting his followers that my role in a TV comedy qualifies me as an enemy of the people constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?” …
- . Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
- Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
- THE RIGGED AND CORRUPT MEDIA IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
- Russian State Media Decries Ukraine for Renaming Its Own Cities, By INFO | February 15, 2019
- On February 11, the Russian state-owned media outlet RIA Novosti published an op-ed criticizing Ukraine’s renaming of towns and other toponyms in accordance with the country’s law on de-communization. …
- …The changing of names is part of the Law of Ukraine No. 317-VIII “On condemning Communist and National-Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and banning propaganda of their symbols,” adopted in 2015. Under this law, the names of cities and other geographic features originating from the Soviet period must be changed. In some cases, the names have reverted back to their pre-revolutionary names, but in other cases new names have been devised, as the law does not require the new names to be historic names. …
- … Ukraine’s decommunization law and many of its provisions have been criticized both inside and outside the country. Legitimate complaints tend to focus on its top-down implementation and the substitution of Soviet-approved history with equally distorted, politicized narratives. Still, it is ultimately up to each country to decide how it names its cities and geographic features.
- It’s also worth noting that Russia has also changed the names of many cities, particularly when they conquered them as the Tsardom of Moscow expanded and evolved into the Russian Empire. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some cities such as Leningrad and Sverdlovsk were changed back to their pre-revolutionary names of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. In the Soviet era, Stalingrad was given the generic name of Volgograd (city on the Volga) rather than its historic name, Tsaritsyn.
- Farmworker vs Robot – Agricultural workers of the future may soon be made of tech and steel. Can a robot pick a strawberry better, faster, and cheaper than a seasonal farmworker?, By Danielle Paquette | WASHINGTONPOST.COM |Photos by Zack Wittman | February 17, 2019
- DUETTE, Fla. – Both human and machine have 10 seconds per plant. They must find the ripe strawberries in the leaves, gently twist them off the stems and tuck them into a plastic clamshell. Repeat, repeat, repeat, before the fruit spoils. …
- … The future of agricultural work has arrived here in Florida, promising to ease labor shortages and reduce the cost of food, or so says the team behind Harv, a nickname for the latest model from automation company Harvest CROO Robotics.
- “Harv” [the robot] is on the leading edge of a national push to automate the way we gather goods that bruise and squish, a challenge that has long flummoxed engineers.
- Designing a robot with a gentle touch is among the biggest technical obstacles to automating the American farm. Reasonably priced fruits and vegetables are at risk without it, growers say, because of a dwindling pool of workers. …
- … The electronic picker is still pretty clumsy. During a test run last year, Harv gathered just 20 percent of strawberries on every plant without mishap. This year’s goal: Harvest half of the fruit without crushing or dropping any. The human success rate is closer to 80 percent, making Harv the underdog in this competition.But Harv doesn’t need a visa or sleep or sick days. …
- … Growers say it is getting harder to hire enough people to harvest crops before they rot.
Fewer seasonal laborers are coming from Mexico, the biggest supplier of U.S. farmworkers. Fewer Americans want to bend over all day in a field, farmers say, even when offered higher wages, free housing and recruitment bonuses. …
- … From 2014 to 2018, the average pay for farmworkers rose faster than employees in the broader economy, jumping from $11.29 to $13.25, according to numbers from the Department of Agriculture. Agriculture economists at Arizona State University last year estimated that if farmers lost their undocumented workforce entirely, wages would have to rise by 50 percent to replace them — and that would crank up produce prices by another 40 percent. …
- [Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation strawberry farmer] said he lost around $1 million due to spoilage last year. He said he pays experienced pickers about $25 an hour.
- said he lost around $1 million due to spoilage last year. He said he pays experienced pickers about $25 an hour.
- Why more than half of Americans’ phone calls go unanswered – It’s turning into an ordeal for many people, By Kari Paul | COM |Published: Feb 1, 2019 9:09 a.m. ET
- … Today … 52% … of phone calls go unanswered, an analysis of 11 billion calls by caller ID and call blocker app Hiya This comes as 26.3 billion robocalls were made to American phones in 2018, up 46% from the previous year’s total of 18 billion …
- … The Federal Communication Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have been working towards solutions to the robocall epidemic for years, levying massive fines against telemarketing operations. …
- … Experts also suggest never answering calls from an unknown number and blocking numbers that are known to be spam.
- Every consumer should register with the free National Do Not Call Registry … at gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. This will stop legitimate telemarketers from calling within a month, though it is unlikely to stop illegal scammers.
- 3D-printed heads let hackers – and cops – unlock your phone, By Zack Whittaker (@zackwhittaker)/ COM /DEC 16, 2018 / 12 hours ago
- …You can …3D print a life-size replica of a human head — and not just for Hollywood. Forbes reporter Thomas Brewster commissioned a 3D printed model of his own head to test the face unlocking systems on a range of phones — four Android models and an iPhone X.
- Bad news if you’re an Android user: only the iPhone X defended against the attack.
- … [B]iometrics — your fingerprints and your face — aren’t protected under the Fifth Amendment. That means police can’t compel you to give up your passcode, but they can forcibly depress your fingerprint to unlock your phone, or hold it to your face while you’re looking at it. And the police know it — it happens more often than you might realize.
- But there’s also little in the way of stopping police from 3D printing or replicating a set of biometrics to break into a phone.
- “Legally, it’s no different from using fingerprints to unlock a device,” said Orin Kerr, professor at USC Gould School of Law, in an email. “The government needs to get the biometric unlocking information somehow,” by either the finger pattern shape or the head shape, he said.
- Although a warrant “wouldn’t necessarily be a requirement” to get the biometric data, one would be needed to use the data to unlock a device, he said.
- Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project On Government Oversight, said it was doable but isn’t the most practical or cost-effective way for cops to get access to phone data.
- … Those cheering on the “death of the password” might want to think again. They’re still the only thing that’s keeping your data safe from the law.