Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

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Texas’ Republican Attorney General indicted on three felony charges

Tea Party Republican Ken Paxton, elected last year as the Attorney General of Texas, has been indicted by a Collin County grand jury on three felony counts alleging securities violations, The Dallas Morning News reports. The indictments will officially be unsealed tomorrow, at which time Paxton is expected to turn himself in.

Quotation

People can’t rise if they can’t afford healthcare… They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on… They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education.

— Hillary Clinton hits Jeb Bush first, and hard, in speech on race to the National Urban League (via The New York Times).

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From red to light white: an abstract photo

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Many Republican polls are measuring a unicorn electorate

“For the GOP this year, the polls are more important than ever—and they’re positing an electorate that never existed,” writes Ken Goldstein.

 

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Humanity shouldn’t make autonomous weapons: an open letter from AI & robotics researchers

A distinguished group of scientists and researchers involved with physics, computer science, security, and other fields have signed an open letter calling for a ban on militarized robots, saying that the development of autonomous weapons would be bad for the Earth and bad for humanity.

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After two corrections, The New York Times’ botched Clinton email story still has an error

Media Matters excoriates The New York Times for its sloppy, error-ridden coverage of Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, when she used a private email server to send and receive messages via email.

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The skyline of downtown Albuquerque

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One of twenty-eight antennas in the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico

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Sandstone bluffs at El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico

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Big Brother is Watching You: Cameras peer at vehicle occupants at a mandatory U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on I-25 in New Mexico

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The new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, created by act of President Barack Obama

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White Sands National Monument: A jewel in the National Parks system

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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument trail scenery

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An EPIC new view of Planet Earth

An EPIC new view of Planet Earth (Image by NASA)

Delighting lovers of astronomy everywhere, NASA today released the first public photo taken by its Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, which is mounted on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite launched earlier this year.

NASA has a blog post explaining the photo’s significance:

This first public image shows the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules, giving the disk a characteristic bluish tint. The EPIC team is developing data processing techniques that will emphasize land features and remove this atmospheric effect.

Once the instrument begins regular data acquisition, new images will be available every day, 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired by EPIC. These images will be posted to a dedicated web page by autumn 2015. Data from EPIC will be used to measure ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, as well as cloud height, vegetation properties, and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.

NASA will use this data for a number of Earth science applications, including dust and volcanic ash maps of the entire planet.

It has not been possible to captures images of the entire sunlit side of Earth at once since Apollo 17 astronauts captured the iconic Blue Marble photograph in 1972. While NASA has released other blue marble images over the years, these have mostly been mosaics stitched together with image processing software—not a single view of Earth taken at one moment in time.

“This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “As a former astronaut who’s been privileged to view the Earth from orbit, I want everyone to be able to see and appreciate our planet as an integrated, interacting system.”

This is a big deal. Thanks, NASA, for making this happen!

Quotation

All this terminology of rankings—forcing rankings along some distribution curve or whatever—we’re done with that. We’re going to evaluate you in your role, not vis à vis someone else who might work in Washington, who might work in Bangalore. It’s irrelevant. It should be about you.

— Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme, speaking to The Washington Post about his company’s plan to abolish annual performance reviews (In big move, Accenture will get rid of annual performance reviews and rankings).

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Des Moines Register: Trump should pull the plug on his bloviating side show

The Des Moines Register has published a blistering editorial calling on racist billionaire Donald Trump to drop out of the presidential race, angering the media mogul and real estate tycoon, who is doing well among Republican voters in early polling.

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The New Yorker takes notice of earthquake science that suggests the Pacific Northwest could be in grave danger

The words Cascadia Subduction Zone may be meaningless to most Americans, but Northwesterners familiar with the most recent earthquake science know that it portends bad news for our region. The New Yorker’s Kathryn Schultz explains that we’re due for a major earthquake that could unleash devastation on our coast and wipe out much of our urban infrastructure.

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For Republicans, Pope Francis’ visit to Congress comes with tensions

The New York Times explores the dynamic that will serve as the backdrop to His Holiness’ groundbreaking visit to the United States in September. Pope Francis will be the first pontiff in history to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

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The First Ten Years of the Roberts Court: A Netroots Nation panel organized by the Alliance for Justice #NN15

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Packed panel table at the voting rights restoration panel today. #NN15

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The three biggest right wing lies about poverty

Robert Reich effectively debunks three lies peddled by right wing elected officials and think tank operatives about America’s poor.