Codename: nvUltra

Brett Terpstra:

This app works a lot like nvALT (and Notational Velocity, naturally). You pop it up and start typing. Search or create a note in seconds. It has blazing fast and accurate full-text search, the ability to find related notes based on content, and very complete Markdown editing tools (complete with syntax highlighting and theme editing). The biggest difference is that it works with multiple folders and sub-folders. You pick a folder, it indexes it, and you can use it just like nvALT. But then you can open another folder, or create a new one and start editing. It allows you to create folders anywhere, maybe one on Dropbox or iCloud Drive that’s shared, one on an encrypted disk that’s private, one for work, one for home, one for every writing project. You’re not limited to tags (though you can search by and sync with macOS tags within the app), and you can sort your notes into subfolders as well.

I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS. My main request for nvAlt was always the ability to save to different folders.

Also, nvUltra is a great name. He should keep it.

Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction

NY Times:

WASHINGTON — The investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found that neither President Trump nor any of his aides conspired or coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s key findings made public on Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr.

Mr. Barr also said that Mr. Mueller’s team drew no conclusions about whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed justice. Mr. Barr and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, determined that the special counsel’s investigators lacked sufficient evidence to establish that Mr. Trump committed that offense, but added that Mr. Mueller’s team stopped short of exonerating Mr. Trump.

“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mr. Barr quoted Mr. Mueller as writing.

It appears Mueller found insufficient evidence of intent to conspire with Russia to influence the election, despite Russia’s attempts to do just that. He also punted on the question of obstruction, possibly due to the question of whether or not a sitting president can be indicted on such a charge. Thus, the obstruction question is left to Congress, and thrust squarely into the political foil in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

New Zealand bans military-style weapons days after terrorist attack

Anna Fifield at the Washington Post:

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — New Zealand has banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday, just six days after attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that left 50 people dead.

A buyback program will be launched to take existing weapons out of circulation, and gun owners who do not comply will be subject to fines, she said.

“On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” Ardern said. “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”

What should we call tourists in space?

When I first read this headline from Ars Technica, I thought “obviously they’re tourists,” but the piece raises interesting questions:

For now, there remains no official word on what to call non-crew members. Are they astronauts, too? Space passengers? Astro-nots? In the hopes of finding a consensus, we put that precise question to the companies, some bonafide NASA astronauts, and some experts in the aerospace community.

My instinct is to argue argue that these people should absolutely not be called astronauts. That distinction should be reserved for those who’ve earned it through a life-long journey of rigorous training specifically geared for space flight.

However, the early consensus is the opposite:

Nicole Stott flew two missions to space, spending more than three months on the International Space Station in 2009, then serving as a mission specialist on space shuttle Discovery’s final flight in February 2011. During her stint on the station, Stott became the first person to paint what she saw out the window while in space. Later, after retiring from NASA, she became a founder of the Space for Art Foundation.

“I think it’s simple: if they get to ‘space,’ they’re an astronaut,” she told Ars. “We’re at a time where the opportunity for traveling to space is opening up to more people. Whether you are traveling to space as a professional who lives and works there or as someone just visiting, it seems the simplest approach is the best.”

Over time, this may need to evolve, she said. When there are many people living, working, and visiting space, there may need to be some distinction between the space professional and the visitor classification. But for now, “astronaut” works for everyone. This seems significant, coming from Stott, who was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and flew into space after nine years of training.

Instead, it looks like the industry is preparing to find new definitions for an influx of a wide variety of space travelers, and that’s incredibly exciting.

NASA, Space X inch closer to human space travel

Kenneth Chang, New York Times:

The first American spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts since the retirement of the space shuttles launched early Saturday. A successful mission could put NASA and the United States on the cusp of a renewed era of human spaceflight.

SpaceX has another high-stakes uncrewed test scheduled for June. The same capsule will again launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, but the flight will simulate a malfunction in the rocket high in the atmosphere. The escape system is to then propel the capsule to safety.

If that test succeeds, then perhaps as soon as July, two NASA astronauts, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, are to make a demonstration flight to the space station. “Seeing a success like this definitely gives us a lot of confidence in the future,” Mr. Behnken said at the news conference.

Overcast 5.1 with Instant Search

Marco Arment:

I’m not satisfied if the podcast you’re looking for is somewhere in the middle of a long list — I want it to be the first one, displayed quickly, after typing the fewest characters possible. I’ve been building toward this by analyzing years of popularity statistics and anonymous search data.

If you ship a feature with the word “instant” in the title, it better deliver. In this case, the new Instant Search feature is instant. It’s actually sort of fun to just search for things, just to see how fast the results arrive.

New study finds no link between video games and aggressive behavior

Alex Matthews-King:

“The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time,” says lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute.

“Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”

But he did say games could provoke angry outbursts while playing online. “Anecdotally, you do see things such as trash-talking, competitiveness and trolling in gaming communities that could qualify as antisocial behaviour,” he added.

Using myself as an example, such angry outbursts can be addressed by treating existing issues—preferably early in life.

Federal court strikes down FCC bid against tribal broadband program

John Brodkin:

The Pai FCC’s 2017 decision would have limited the $25 subsidy to “facilities-based” carriers—those that build their own networks—making it impossible for tribal residents to use the $25 subsidy to buy telecom service from resellers. The move would have dramatically limited tribal residents’ options for purchasing subsidized service, but the FCC claimed it was necessary in order to encourage carriers to build their own networks.

The same FCC decision also would have eliminated the $25 subsidy in urban areas, reserving it only for tribal lands in rural areas. The court’s decision Friday, in response to an appeal filed by tribal organizations and small wireless carriers, overturned both of these limitations.

Prosecutors Say Trump Directed Illegal Payments During Campaign

The New York Times:

Federal prosecutors said on Friday that President Trump directed illegal payments to ward off a potential sex scandal that threatened his chances of winning the White House in 2016, putting the weight of the Justice Department behind accusations previously made by his former lawyer.

The lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, had said that as the election neared, Mr. Trump directed payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump. But in a new memo arguing for a prison term for Mr. Cohen, prosecutors in Manhattan said he “acted in coordination and at the direction of” an unnamed individual, clearly referring to Mr. Trump.

In another filing, prosecutors for the special counsel investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference said an unnamed Russian offered Mr. Cohen “government level” synergy between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign in November 2015. That was months earlier than other approaches detailed in indictments secured by prosecutors.

And in a separate case on Friday, the special counsel accused Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, of lying about his contacts with an individual they accuse of having ties to Russian intelligence, and about his interactions with Trump administration officials after he was indicted on criminal charges.

Together, the filings laid bare the most direct evidence to date linking Mr. Trump to potentially criminal conduct, and added to an already substantial case that Russia was seeking to sway the 2016 election in his favor.

In a column for the Washington Post, Marcy Wheeler makes that case the Mueller is laying out his report “one indictment at a time”.

But Mueller has already been submitting his report, piece by piece, in indictments and other charging documents. He has hidden it in plain sight in the court dockets of individuals and organizations he has prosecuted. Many of those court papers have included far more detail than necessary to prove the culpability of defendants who have agreed to plead guilty. This isn’t just legal overkill on Mueller’s part — it’s the outlines of a sweeping narrative about the 2016 election.

49 missing from Camp Fire, down from 2,700

Nina Agrawal:

Three weeks after the Camp fire tore through the Northern California towns of Paradise, Concaw and Magalia, destroying thousands of homes and killing 88 people, the number of individuals still missing now stands at 49, the Butte County Sheriff announced late Friday.

The newest tally was a welcome drop from a figure that at one point exceeded 2,700, leading many to fear the already record-high death toll would rise.

Positive news from the disaster.

“Migrant kids struggle in facilities”

Nomaan Merchant:

Amid the global uproar over family separation, the Trump administration presented the facilities as caring, safe places for immigrant children.

But as records obtained by the AP show, the child detention system is already overtaxed. Children are acting out, sometimes hitting each other and trying to escape, and staff members struggle to deal with escalating problems.

Doctors have warned for months about the consequences of detaining children for long periods of time, particularly after most of them had fled violence and poverty in Central America and undertaken the dangerous journey to the U.S.

“Being in detention can be a form of trauma,” said Dr. Alan Shapiro, a pediatrician who works directly with immigrant children. “We can’t treat children for trauma while we’re traumatizing them at the same time.”

Catastrophic government climate report released on slowest news day of the year

Brad Dennis and Chris Mooney:

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s report. However, the administration last year downplayed a separate government report calling human activity the dominant driver of global warming, saying in a statement that “the climate has changed and is always changing.”

Given that history, some of the scores of scientists and federal officials who spent months working on the detailed document were frustrated, but not surprised, that the administration chose to release it on the day after Thanksgiving — typically one of the slowest news days of the year. Several people involved in the report said its release originally had been planned for early December, but after a behind-the-scenes debate in recent weeks about when to make it public, administration officials settled on Black Friday.

“This report draws a direct connection between the warming atmosphere and the resulting changes that affect Americans’ lives, communities, and livelihoods, now and in the future,” the document reads, concluding that “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.”

Horror in California

Nicole Chavez:

(CNN) — The list of people who are unaccounted for as a result of the Camp Fire in Northern California has 1,011 entries, Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said Friday evening.

The sheriff said the list is imperfect and will fluctuate in number because it is raw data that needs to be refined.

The death toll from the fire is now 71 after eight sets of remains were found Friday, Honea said. Three other deaths occurred in the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, making the statewide death toll from wildfires 74.

This is horrific. The photos are devastating. The stories are even worse. Then there’s the growing number of missing people. It keeps getting worse.

C.I.A. Concludes That Saudi Crown Prince Ordered Khashoggi Killed

Julian E. Barnes at New York Times:

The C.I.A. has made the assessment based on the crown prince’s control of the Saudi Arabia, which is such that the killing would not have taken place without his approval, and has buttressed its conclusion with two sets of crucial communications: intercepts of the crown prince’s calls in the days before the killing, and calls by the kill team to a senior aide to the crown prince.

Officials cautioned, however, that the American and Turkish intelligence agencies still do not have direct evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the assassination.

But the intercepts show that Prince Mohammed was trying to find ways to lure Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, according to people briefed on the intelligence findings. But he did not say in the phone calls that he wanted to have Mr. Khashoggi killed, the people said.

Seems like a big deal.

29 million Facebook users affected in updated hack figure

Kurt Wagner:

Facebook says the security breach it announced late last month impacted fewer people than initially expected, though hackers still collected personal data from 29 million users.

Facebook reported Friday that 30 million accounts were compromised in the September breach in which a software “vulnerability” gave hackers access to a digital “token” that enabled them to log in to millions of user accounts. Originally, Facebook had estimated 50 million accounts might have been compromised. They’ve revised that number to 30 million.

That’s the “good” news. The bad news is these hackers did indeed collect personal user data from 29 million of those 30 million accounts, Facebook says. That includes the name and contact info — phone numbers and emails — for all 29 million people. The hackers also collected a lot of other information on 14 million of those 29 million users, including but not limited to “gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion [and] hometown,” Facebook wrote.

Recode also directs users to a tool to check if their data was stolen.

Facebook breach threatens 50 million accounts

Camila Domonoske:

Facebook says that it has discovered a security breach affecting nearly 50 million accounts and that it’s not yet clear whether any information was accessed or any accounts were otherwise misused.

The vulnerability that caused the breach was found Tuesday and was fixed on Thursday night, Facebook says. It was the result of bugs introduced into Facebook’s code in July 2017. No passwords or credit card numbers were stolen, the company says.

But as a result of the breach, attackers could gain access to a user’s account — hypothetically giving them the ability not only to view information, but also to use the account as though they were the account holder.

“We do not yet know if any of the accounts were actually misused,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters Friday. “This is a really serious security issue, and we are taking it really seriously.”

Manafort flips

Sharon LaFraniere and Kenneth P. Vogel:

Mr. Manafort’s decision, announced at a federal court hearing in Washington in which he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges, was likely to unsettle Mr. Trump, who had praised Mr. Manafort for standing up to prosecutors’ pressure and had hinted that he might pardon him.

It is not clear what information Mr. Manafort offered prosecutors in three days of negotiations that led to the plea deal. But in court on Friday, Mr. Manafort agreed to an open-ended arrangement that requires him to answer “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” the government wants to ask about.

He’s also the first cooperating witness from the infamous Trump Tower meeting in 2016 that alleged dirt on Hillary Clinton.

“More Than 2,000 Puerto Ricans Applied For Funeral Assistance After Hurricane Maria. FEMA Approved Just 75.”

Nidhi Prakash:

Although Long did not give a specific reason in his letter for the rejections, he pointed to FEMA’s requirements for funeral assistance. To qualify, Puerto Ricans had to provide a death certificate or letter from a government official “that clearly indicates the death was attributed to the emergency or disaster, either directly or indirectly,” Long wrote in the letter obtained by BuzzFeed News, which he wrote on behalf of FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services.

But getting that information was impossible for many families because, as the Puerto Rican government recently admitted, officials were not counting hurricane-related deaths correctly.

Two weeks ago Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló admitted that authorities vastly undercounted how many people were dying because of the hurricane, partly because they failed to provide clear instructions to doctors and funeral homes on how death certificates should be filled out.

President Trump called the response to Hurricane Maria, which killed around 3,000 people, ‘one of the best’.

“What Serena Got Wrong”

Martina Navratilova:

It was a few games later when matters really escalated. Williams lost her serve at 3-1 up and demolished her racket — an automatic code violation that, because it came on top of an earlier warning, resulted in the automatic loss of one point.

Ms. Williams opted to argue about this: She insisted that she didn’t cheat, she wasn’t coached, and therefore she shouldn’t have been docked. But it doesn’t matter whether she knew she was receiving coaching. She was being coached, as Mr. Mouratoglou admitted after the match, and whether she knew it or not is moot. So at this stage, she had been given a warning — one that couldn’t be dismissed retroactively — and had smashed her racket, an automatic violation. Mr. Ramos, effectively, had no choice but to dock her a point.

It was here that Ms. Williams really started to lose the plot. She and Mr. Ramos were, in effect, talking past each other. She was insisting that she doesn’t cheat — completely believable, but besides the point — while he was making a call over which he, at that point, had little discretion.

I admittedly don’t watch a lot of tennis, but I watched all of Saturday’s final. This entire piece seems spot on to me.

On taking credit for the economy

Peter Baker:

In the 19 months starting after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, the economy has created 3.58 million new jobs — but that is still shy of the 3.96 million created in the last 19 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency. The nation’s economy has grown at a steadily higher pace in the past year than it did during the end of Mr. Obama’s term, reaching an annualized rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of this year. But the last time it was that high was in 2014 — when Mr. Obama was in charge.

Moreover, even the faster growth under Mr. Obama or Mr. Trump remains modest compared with some previous recoveries. During the first half of this year, the economy grew at a 3.3 percent annualized pace, slower than every year of the Reagan recovery, which averaged 4.4 percent between 1983 and 1989.

As this piece later states, Obama was notoriously reluctant to take a victory lap as the economy improved. That appears to be changing ahead of a crucial election.