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September 16th, 2018:

Weekend link dump for September 16

If you like manual transmissions, you will soon have one less option for buying such a car in the US.

Meet Kim Kierkegaardashian, the world’s most existentialist celebrity.

“As it turns out, it’s not easy to criminally prosecute old sex crimes, though victims may have an easier time finding justice in the civil courts”.

I’d never spent a minute of my life thinking about the relationship between JD Salinger and Joyce Maynard. I’ve long thought Salinger was vastly overrated as a writer, and I only knew the barest outline of their time together. After reading this, I’m definitely on Maynard’s side. She’s deserved better for a long time.

“Instead, my point is that transparency isn’t just a virtue for its own sake. Transparency often provides great benefits to the party that discloses information. Kavanaugh would have been better off if he’d not been ambushed in the middle of his confirmation hearing. And it was his own team’s fault that he did not know how he would be attacked in advance.”

Hillary Told the Truth.”

“Astronomers are studying the first batch of possible planets spotted by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which hunts for worlds around nearby bright stars.”

“Microsoft seeks confirmation that it will not be making prohibited in-kind contributions by offering a package of enhanced online account security protections at no additional charge on a nonpartisan basis to its election-sensitive customers, including but not limited to federal candidates and national party committees, as described above.”

“What happens to gadgets when you’re done with them? Too often, they explode.”

Good grief, Les Moonves is an asshole.

And as such, he deserves every last word that Linda Bloodworth-Thomason has to say to him.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an inspiration and a better person than most of us would be in her shoes.

“Judicial nominees famously conceal their views about legal controversies and precedent when they testify before the Senate, but what Kavanaugh has done all along is try to conceal the kind of person he is.”

“There are no Republicans left in Congress, that I know of, who know what is or isn’t credible oversight. Their ignorance prevents them from understanding the mess they have made. Oversight by Congress is a lost art. What Republicans have wrought is downright destruction. If Democrats re-take either chamber of Congress in November, they are obligated to resuscitate that function Republicans have allowed to atrophy in service to their president.”

“Identity in the early European Middle Ages was fluid, changeable, and could have many layers. Particularly in Germanic warrior cultures such as with the Alemanni, some identities were consciously sought out. You didn’t identify throughout your life with the same group you were born with, and you didn’t necessarily give up that identity when you chose another. Identities were used when needed, stored when not. In other words, a person could think of/ represent themselves as one thing in one social situation, another in a second, and yet another in a third.”

“Our biggest poverty problem is not among senior citizens. Our biggest poverty problem is, first, among children, and second, among working-age adults. That’s where our attention should be most heavily focused.”

” “I’m ecstatic he actually took the time to listen,” said the woman, a sexual assault survivor who declined to give her name because she’s still in the service. “I’m going to phone-bank my ass off for him. Because he didn’t have to do that.” ”

“Trump’s and Manafort’s legal interests may be more aligned than either of them have let on.”

Oh, hey, Paul Manafort. Please do tell us everything.

“How Little Has Changed Since Anita Hill Spoke Out Against Clarence Thomas”.

Southwest Key sues city over permit for child detention warehouse

Screw them.

The Austin-based nonprofit trying to open a shelter to house migrant children east of downtown sued the city of Houston Friday, alleging a discriminatory, baseless and politically motivated campaign to prevent it from opening the facility.

Southwest Key Programs alleges in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Houston, that the city is “manipulating” its permitting process, invalidating previously issued permits without due process and refusing to conduct inspections or issue new permits. The suit claims these actions are discriminatory based on some combination of the city’s opposition to federal immigration policies, interest in “political gain” or the race, color, national origin, ancestry, alienage or immigration status of the unaccompanied minors who would be housed there.

The lawsuit asks a court to grant Southwest Key monetary damages and declare that it can proceed with its plans to open the facility.

“The city of Houston has ignored its own regulations, and past practices, and has knowingly misrepresented the facts to the state of Texas to deny Southwest Key a license to open the facility,” Southwest Key said in a statement released Friday. “City officials bent the rules and broke the law for the sole purpose of advancing the mayor’s political agenda.”

[…]

“The city is only interested in the safety, security and well-being of children and will continue to enforce all building codes and regulations designed to accomplish that purpose,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “Southwest Key has repeatedly been asked to provide plans that meet existing building codes for the intended use of the facility at 419 Emancipation Street in Houston. They have failed to do so. Hopefully, they will realize that they are not exempt and must follow the rules like everyone else. We continue to wait for them to respond. In the meantime, we will review the pleading and respond accordingly.”

See here and here for the background, and here for the Mayor’s statement. I have no idea if Southwest Key’s claims have any validity, and to be honest I don’t care. Southwest Key can go fuck themselves.

Second look at Metro’s long range transit plan

Still a work in progress, but there’s beginning to be some focus.

Transit officials inched closer Wednesday to asking voters next year for up to $3 billion for two-way express bus service along many Houston freeways, along with a few more miles of light rail.

The first stop for a new transit vision, however, is additional communication with community groups before a more refined plan is approved by Metropolitan Transit Authority, which ultimately will need voter approval to build any of it.

“The target date is still November 2019,” Metro Chairwoman Carrin Patman said of a voter referendum.

During a Wednesday workshop discussing the regional transportation plan, dubbed MetroNEXT, Metro staff detailed a number of proposed projects, developed after months of public meetings during the past 18 months.

The consensus preferences from the meetings, Metro vice president of systems and capital planning Clint Harbert said, is “really taking what we do well and making these trips faster and more reliable.”

As a result, many of the projects rely on roads and freeways, rather than rail. Metro has spent most of the last two decades mired in light rail debates and construction.

Instead, the early draft of the plan – which still will undergo months of community input before it is approved next year – includes only 12 miles of light rail, extending the Red Line north to Tidwell and south to Hobby Airport and the Purple Line to Hobby Airport.

Meanwhile, more than 34 miles of bus rapid transit – using large buses along mostly lanes solely for bus use – would spread westward from downtown. One of the key lines follows much of the path of the proposed University Line, a long-dormant light rail project that has been one of Metro’s most contentious.

The major bus rapid transit corridor would connect Kashmere to downtown, then head west to Greenway Plaza and Westchase. It would have a key connection to the bus transit planned along Post Oak, now under construction.

See here for some background. This represents the least ambitious of the possible plans, and it’s a combination of what’s most doable and what’s least controversial. Nothing wrong with that, I just wish we lived in a world where those conditions allowed for something more expansive. Even at this level, I expect plenty of friction from the usual suspects. Getting the eventual referendum passed will take a lot of engagement. I look forward to doing an interview with Metro Chair Patman about the final version of this for that election.

Another Lopez brother gets banned from taekwondo

Steven Lopez this time.

Two-time Olympic taekwondo gold medalist Steven Lopez has been banned permanently from competition by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, based on the results of the agency’s investigation into Lopez’s sexual relationship with an underage female in 2000.

The relationship, according to a report compiled by SafeSport, involved a 14-year-old neighbor whose family was a friend of the Lopez family, and occurred at a time when the complainant was a taekwondo athlete and Lopez was establishing himself as one of the sport’s dominant figures, eventually winning five world titles along with the two Olympic gold medals.

Investigators said the relationship progressed over a four-year period, beginning when the complainant was 10, from what was described as grooming to sexual contact to oral sex, the latter occurring at a time when the complainant was 14 and Lopez 22.

The sexual relationship, SafeSport concluded, took place “in violation of the SafeSport Code, the criminal laws of the State of Texas and the standards expected of USA Taekwondo members.”

Lopez, who with his older brother and coach, Jean Lopez, has been named as a defendant in a federal court lawsuit filed in Colorado, declined to be interviewed by SafeSport regarding the allegations.

See here and here for some background on Jean Lopez. Steven Lopez had been suspended in May by SafeSport, and both he and his brother, along with SafeSport and USA Taekwondo and the US Olympic Committee, are defendants in a lawsuit over this whole sorry and deeply disturbing mess. All that matters at this point is finding some justice for the victims, and doing everything we can to make sure that this shit never, ever happens again. Deadspin has more.