State attorneys general + drop Trump University fraud cases = Trump donations

Last summer, Donald Trump explained his past habit of making campaign contributions to Democratic Party elected officials as being part of a cynical effort to bribe them to advance his business interests. Perhaps coincidentally, it turns out that a couple of state attorneys general who considered formal fraud investigations into his fake university received Trump campaign contributions after deciding to drop them.

“As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump said. “As a businessman, I need that.”…

Jeff Horwitz and Michael Biesecker report for the Associated Press in their story on fraud probes into Trump University by state attorneys general…

The office of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, opened a civil investigation of “possibly deceptive trade practices.” Abbott’s probe was quietly dropped in 2010 when Trump University agreed to end its operations in Texas. Trump subsequently donated $35,000 to Abbott’s successful gubernatorial campaign, according to records…

…Horwitz and Biesecker report that “Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi briefly considered joining with Schneiderman in a multi-state suit against Trump University.”…Three days after Bondi’s spokeswoman was quoted in local media reports as saying the office was reviewing the New York lawsuit, the Donald J. Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political fundraising committee supporting Bondi’s re-election campaign. Bondi, a Republican, soon dropped her investigation, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.

Trump is pissed-off sufficiently by prosecution of his fraud that he’s released a video pimping “satisfied” customers from Trump U. Which, of course, has nothing to do with reversing the charges against him.

And then there are bits and pieces of actual testimony against him from one of the trials.

Cancer scientists discover their pension fund is invested in tobacco

Scientists funded by Cancer Research UK who spend their lives hunting for cures for the disease are among thousands of academics whose pensions are invested in the tobacco industry, the Guardian can reveal.

The latest annual report for the university staff’s pension fund shows it had £211 million invested in British American Tobacco in the year to 31 March 2015 – its fifth biggest listed equities holding.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme – the official name for the fund for university academics and staff – was worth £49 billion in 2015. The BAT holding is not the only controversial investment; its biggest holding was £344 million in Royal Dutch Shell.

But the tobacco investment will come as a shock to many researchers, academics and staff. One scientist, who is employed by a leading university but whose post is funded by CRUK, was horrified to learn that her money was being invested in this way…

“All the work of this institute is done under the guidance of CRUK, and we are, quite rightly, regularly reviewed to ensure that CRUK money is being spent effectively and efficiently in the global fight against cancer. How can this possibly be in line with the fact that most of us will retire comfortably on money earned from tobacco investments?”

Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors and principals, said USS was…blah, blah, blah.

If you’re principled in the fight for better public health, you don’t allow your pension to be invested in a major source of ill health. Simple as that. Either you exert appropriate control over investments made in your name – or you change providers for those investments.

Facebook’s AI categorizes everything you write — sells the info to someone

If Facebook knows what your status update is about, it can show it to people who care about that topic. If it understands the difference between “I just got out of the taxi” and “I need a ride” messages, it can ask if you want an Uber. If it detects that you’re trying to sell something in a status update, it can automatically format post with the price and item details. And if Facebook can determine what kinds of comments on celebrities’ posts are interesting and not just “OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOU”, it can surface ones you’ll actually want to read.

These are the big applications for Facebook’s newest artificial intelligence system called “DeepText”. 400,000 new stories and 125,000 comments on public posts are shared every minute on Facebook. DeepText will help Facebook analyze several thousand per second across 20 languages with near-human accuracy.

One of the first obvious applications for DeepText will start rolling on Messenger. When DeepText identifies a sentence it thinks means you need a ride, it will suggest you use Messenger transportation integrations with services like Uber and Lyft. Recognizing “I need a ride” is easy, but it should also be able to pick up on things like “Should I call a car?”, “I can pick you up in 20”, or “I’ll get an Uber”.

Yes, there are beaucoup positive potential applications of the tech. Like any other. Privacy vs serviceable suggestions are immediate questions that you have to decide. Whether or not you have any control over the questions and answers is between you and Facebook, though.

This will become the world’s largest solar power plant — Morocco presses the ON button

Click to enlargeFadel Senna/Getty Images

Morocco has turned on its massive solar power plant in the town of Ourrzazate, on the edge of the Saharan desert. The plant already spans thousands of acres and is capable of generating up to 160 megawatts of power. It’s already one of the biggest solar power grids in the world, capable of being seen from space. And it’s only going to get bigger

Right now, the solar farm is made up of 500,000 curved mirrors, each standing at about 40 feet tall. These mirrors concentrate the sun’s light onto a pipeline filled with fluid, heating it up to 739 degrees Fahrenheit. This fluid is used to heat up a nearby source of water, which turns to steam and spins turbines to create energy. Morocco gets about 3,000 hours of sunlight per year, so there will be plenty of solar energy to harness. But the plant can also keep generating power at night. “The heat from the fluid can be stored in a tank of molten salts…”…

Currently, Noor I can provide solar power to 650,000 locals from dawn until three hours past sunset, according to The Guardian. The finished plant will provide power for 20 hours a day. It’s all part of Morocco’s plan to get up to 42 percent of its power from renewable energies at home, such as solar, wind, and hydropower. Right now, the country is dependent on imports for 97 percent of its energy consumption. The new plant could lessen that dependence while saving Morocco millions of tons in carbon emissions.

Helps the Earth. Helps the economy of a North African nation. Bound to piss off patent leather politicians in Western industrialized nations who are in the pocket of fossil fuel barons. And sheikhs.

Thanks, Honeyman