A month after dismissing federal prosecutors, Justice Department does not have any U.S. attorneys in place

A month after dismissing federal prosecutors, Justice Department does not have any U.S. attorneys in place

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a lot of things. But so far, none of those things include “good at being Attorney General.”

Would you hire a builder who, when he finds out you want a new house at some point down the road, just knocks down the one you have now, without thinking about where you’ll live until the new one is ready?

If you would, then Jeff Sessions is your man. Because he knocked down the Justice Department before even making the vague outline of a plan to put a new one in place.

Oh, and just in case you forgot, he’s a racist son of a bitch, too.

Sources: Nintendo to launch SNES mini this year

Sources: Nintendo to launch SNES mini this year

Tom Phillips writes at Eurogamer:

The reality of a SNES mini is certainly exciting – while the NES was unique for being Nintendo’s first home console, the SNES arguably boasts the better software line-up, and a catalogue of classics far more advanced than their NES forebears. Compare The Legend of Zelda on NES to A Link to the Past, for example, or Donkey Kong to Donkey Kong Country.

Other top SNES games from Nintendo include Super Metroid, Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World, as well as Earthbound, Star Fox and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. The console also had some of the best RPGs of the era, including Square’s Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana.

Many people use emulation software of questionable legality (not that I have ever done anything even remotely like that, like, at all, ever) but soon there may no longer be a need for emulation. This is exciting and I’ll absolutely be buying one of these.

Alex Jones’ rock and hard place: Authentic lunatic or performance artist and fit parent?

In Travis County custody case, jury will search for real Alex Jones

Jonathan Tilove reports this story for American-Statesman:

Beginning Monday, a jury will be selected at the Travis County Courthouse that in the next two weeks will be asked to sort out whether there is a difference between the public and private Alex Jones, and whether, when it comes to his fitness as a parent, it matters.

Kelly Jones’ attorney, Bobby Newman, is engaged in some quality tactical litigation:

[Judge] Naranjo, meanwhile, said she had never seen or heard Jones on Infowars until Wednesday’s hearing, when Kelly Jones’ legal team started previewing Infowars videos it would like to play for the jury.

The first was a clip from a July 2015 broadcast in which Jones had his son, then 12, on to play the latest of some 15 or 20 videos he had made with the help of members of the Infowars team who, Jones said, had “taken him under their wing” during summer days spent at the South Austin studio between stints at tennis and Christian camps.

“He is undoubtedly cut out for this, and I intend for him to eclipse what I’ve done. He’s a way greater person than I was at 12,” said Jones, turning to his son. “I love you so much, and I didn’t mean to get you up here, sweetheart, and tell people how much I love you, but you’re so handsome, and you’re a good little knight who’s going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy.”

“So far this looks like good stuff,” [Alex Jones’ Attorney Randall] Wilhite said. Naranjo OK’d it for viewing by the jury.

But Bobby Newman, the attorney for Kelly Jones guiding the court through the Infowars clips, was laying the groundwork for the argument that there is no separation between Alex Jones, father, and Alex Jones, Infowarrior.

It’s a solid argument, and Alex Jones is in a bit of a bind here, forced to choose between maintaining the authenticity of a lunatic his inexplicably massive fanbase worships and sacrificing that authenticity in an attempt to hang onto custody of his young children.

Unenforceable ban on atheists holding public office still on the books in 8 states

Unenforceable ban on atheists holding public office still on the books in 8 states

This is an old story but after reading an article about a study [PDF] suggesting there are many atheists who don’t want to admit they’re atheists, I remembered reading about how a country which prides itself as a world leader in personal freedom still has laws banning atheists from public service.

My memory was correct, and that country is the United States. Oyez, which publishes Supreme Court resources including audio of oral arguments, has a great page on the 1960 case which declared such laws unconstitutional (as if anyone should have needed the Supreme Court to tell them that…).

In Torcaso v. Watkins, the Court held unanimously that, quoting Oyez:

such a requirement places the state of Maryland firmly on the side of those people who believe in God and are willing to state their belief. With this requirement, Maryland effectively aids religions that profess a belief in God at the expense of any other form of belief or disbelief. The First Amendment expressly prohibits a state from taking this position. Although the candidate has the option of not pursuing public office rather than declaring a belief in God, the test is an unconstitutional encroachment on the freedom of religion.

So these laws aren’t enforceable, but the fact that they’re still on the books is an affront to the Constitution and should embarrass any lawmaker who claims to respect that Constitution.

Mentally incompetent Utah man dies in hospital after jail episode left him paralyzed

Mentally incompetent Utah man dies in hospital after jail episode left him paralyzed

Is this the kind of country where we let mental illness go untreated to the point where someone in jail for fighting with a couple of cops is effectively allowed to commit suicide, while on suicide watch?

Jail video shows a naked Hall with disheveled long hair and beard running headfirst into a wall three times before climbing up on the sink and falling headfirst to the floor. At the time, Hall had been waiting five months for a bed and treatment at the Utah State Hospital. Utah designates 100 beds at the hospital for inmate mental health treatment, but once the beds are occupied, additional defendants await openings from jail cells.

And this:

The Utah LegislatureThe Utah Legislature recently set aside $3 million in an effort to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by the Salt Lake City-based Disability Law Center, which alleges mentally ill defendants are not provided a speedy trial and suffer in jail without treatment because the state does not provide enough hospital beds and specialists to treat them.

Why couldn’t they set aside $3 million before they were sued, to solve the problem before anyone died?

United Airlines Tumbles After Social-Media Storm Goes Global

United Airlines Tumbles After Social-Media Storm Goes Global

Justin Bachman and Linly Lin reporting at Bloomberg Markets:

United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz apologized on Monday for “having to re-accommodate these customers.” The airline is conducting a review and seeks to resolve the matter with the man who was dragged off the airplane, Munoz said in an emailed statement. In a subsequent message to employees, the CEO called the passenger “disruptive” and “belligerent.”

This debacle is still unfolding but will clearly end up in PR textbooks.

The magnificent stupidity of the “nuclear option”

The magnificent stupidity of the “nuclear option”

It’s a trainwreck. Republicans undoubtedly stole the nomination from Merrick Garland, which makes calls by the GOP for Democrats to stop being obstructionist rich in hypocrisy.

But then again, there’s plenty of hypocrisy in Democratic criticisms of today’s use of the “nuclear option.” After all, they made a similar move in 2013, explicitly eliminating the filibuster for all nominations except the Supreme Court.

It was a stupid thing for Democrats to do in 2013 and it’s a stupid thing for Republicans to do in 2017. Why? Because these rules apply to everyone going forward, no matter which party is in power.

The lack of foresight and critical thinking the nuclear option displays when any party uses it are staggering, and illustrative of Congress’ toxic tendency to put pettiness and blind party loyalty before the best interests of their constituents.

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Modern Law.

Senate Republicans Vote To Gut Internet Privacy

Senate Republicans Vote To Gut Internet Privacy

Hamza Shaban, writing for BuzzFeed:

The Senate voted Thursday to make it easier for internet service providers to share sensitive information about their customers, a first step in overturning landmark privacy rules that consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers view as crucial protections in the digital age. The vote was passed along party lines, 50-48, with all but two Republicans voting in favor of the repeal and every Democrat voting against it. Two Republican Senators did not vote.

Disgusting. This is what buying policy looks like, folks. Kate Tummarello of the Electronic Frontier Foundation also did a write-up, and included a particularly scary piece of information:

Republicans in the Senate just voted 50-48 (with two absent votes) to approve a Congressional Review Action resolution from Sen. Jeff Flake which—if it makes it through the House—would not only roll back the FCC’s rules but also prevent the FCC from writing similar rules in the future.

(emphasis added)

This may not seem like a big deal, but it very much is, especially in an age where ISPs and the data brokers to whom they sell your information are frequently hacked.

More shameful behavior from Senate Republicans whose retirement can’t possibly come soon enough.

Heinz running Don Draper’s ‘Pass the Heinz’ ads

Heinz running Don Draper’s ‘Pass the Heinz’ ads

Tim Nudd at Adweek:

In a meta union of advertising’s real and fictional worlds, Heinz just greenlighted the ads—and will run them almost exactly as Draper intended, beginning today, in print and out-of-home executions in New York City.

This is awesome, not just because it’s a marriage of television and the real world, but because the ads themselves are actually brilliant.

Trans characters in the first big video games of 2017

Trans characters in the first big video games of 2017

Laura Dale, writing at Polygon:

The past month of AAA video game releases might be the most interesting I have ever experienced as a trans woman, meaning someone who was designated male at birth but is now living as female. While far from perfect in execution, I can point out three trans characters in three separate AAA video games released in the past four weeks. That’s pretty unbelievable.

I’ve been playing Zero Dawn with my wife and it’s a truly remarkable game. I wish I hadn’t missed the trans character’s introduction, but now that Dale points it out it does seem like a respectful, if imperfect, attempt to include a trans person in Aloy’s world.